Saturday, 29 December 2012

Re-Painting John Jenkins Designs Woodland Indians

In preparation for a new chapter in our French Indian War narrative campaign we have a small scale skirmish planned using the Muskets and Tomahawks rules from Studio Tomahawk.

We plan to recreate a Rangers Raid on an Indian village in the Ohio Valley to recapture the daughters of the British Officer. The last attempt to secure the prisoners by force met with failure as the British line fell to pieces in the depth of the woods. The British have decided to fight fire with fire.

As there is only a limited number of John Jenkins Design Woodland Indian sets currently available, some of which are out of production we did consider we might not have enough Indians to fully realise our vision.

Having picked up a few individual figures, I also acquired some complete boxed sets at a later date and was left with some duplicates which seemed suitable for re-painting.

It might seem a shame to re-paint such superbly finished hand painted collector’s models but having seen other people's conversions it seemed it worth a try.

I selected figures from WIM-04 Woodland Indians with Muskets #3 and the WIM-07 Woodland Indians Attacking, as these were the ones I had duplicates of.

Rather than re-paint the entire model, I chose to touch up a few specific areas that I felt would help the model look different from its ‘clone’.

The kneeling Indian with rifle from WIM-04 set is a quite distinctive figure with its full black body paint, so this was an obvious choice to re-colour without the war-paint.

WIM-04 - Original on left, re-paint on right.

The Indians from the WIM-07 set have distinctive war-paint, buckskin trousers and loin cloths, so whilst other alterations were made, these were the areas I focused on.

WIM-07 - Original on left, re-paint on right.

The first step was to gently clean the figures in warm soapy water. Some of the figures have gathered dust so I used a soft brush to clean the parts we couldn't reach.

The figures were set aside and once dry, painting could begin.

A wide selection of acrylic paints was used from the likes of Humbrol, Vallejo, Games Workshop and Tamiya.

The painting style is a little different to my personal technique and took a little getting used to but progress was quite quick. The figures were finished with a light coat of matt spray varnish.

WIM-07 - Original on right, re-paint on left.

I am happy with the overall effect and look forward to using the figures in our next game.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Ambush - A French Indian War Wargame

We don't need much of an excuse to get our John Jenkins collection out and on display.

An invitation to our local Wargame Show Eastern Front was another perfect opportunity.

Eastern Front is presented by Monarch Military Books and Renegades Wargames Club, the 2012 show was held once again at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich on Sunday 16th July.

There was a good selection of traders, display and participation games ranging from highly detailed and superbly presented to quick and easy. Historical, fantasy, sci-fi and, as is common these days, an amalgamation of both. All of the games had one thing in common. A very British club night focus on fun.

The display game we presented was a small scale skirmish set during the French Indian War.

Following the capture of two daughters of a British officer a deployment of Rangers scouted the surrounding forest and, upon finding where the prisoners were being held, a small contingent of Fraser Highlanders and British Line were sent to bring them home.

The Fraser Highlanders led the way, creeping through the forest, unbeknownst to them, straight into the jaws of a trap.

Hidden movement rules meant whilst the British knew something was out there, they were unsure of the exact numbers they were facing.

The Fraser Highlanders fell back under strength of fire from the Indian forces, some of which, seeing the British Line push on, thought better of a head-on clash and disappeared off into the forest, never to be seen again.

Slowly but surely the British pushed on, driving back the unconventional Indian skirmishers and slaughtering a unit of French irregulars.

Unfortunately for the British, the Ambush was enough to blunt their advance, giving the French officers enough time to rally their men and march against the British, driving them away and securing their ill-gotten bargaining chit.

We played the game using a relatively new rule set, Muskets and Tomahawks, from Studio Tomahawk. The game is skirmish focused, with a relatively low model count (about figures 35 a side), so perfect for a collection of John Jenkins Designs French Indian Wars models. Studio Tomahawk are a French company responsible for other hugely popular games such as Saga and Shakos and Bayonettes so we were quite eager to see how the rules complimented the period.

Most players use 28mm, or similar scaled, models but the relatively simple mechanic meant translation to 54mm was easy enough.

The game was well received, with a few visitors having recently purchased the rules but not having played it yet. There was also considerable interest in John's figures, with a quite a few collectors who have already begun, or became inspired, to do something similar with their own collections.

You can see more pictures of the game, and the rest of the show, on the New Buckenham Historical Wargamers facebook page.

All in all it was a pleasure to present and we're very much looking forward to putting on another game and with the imminent release of the Monongahela Pack Horses, we have a perfect reason try a different scenario.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Colonel Frederick Burnaby – The first Modern Celebrity?

Colonel Frederick Burnaby was a popular writer for Punch, Vanity Fair and The Times. His larger than life exploits took him across Europe, Asia, Africa and Russia. As a member of the Royal Horse Guards he saw active duty in Egypt, was wounded at El Teb in 1884 and met an untimely end in vicious hand-to-hand fighting at the Battle of Abu Klea.
Frederick Burnaby as a Captain in the Horse Guards by James Tissot

Frederick Burnaby (1842-85). Burnaby is almost totally forgotten, but in his day he was so famous that the Queen reportedly fainted at news of his death. The Times gave him a 5000-word obituary. Grown men broke down and wept in the street.

Burnaby’s exploits make Rambo’s seem a little dull. Very few people have survived frostbite, typhus, an exploding air balloon, and poisoning with arsenic. Few have explored Uzbekistan (where it was so cold, his beard froze solid and snapped off), led the household cavalry, stood for parliament, could speak seven languages, crossed the channel by air, written a string of bestsellers, commanded the Turkish army, and founded Vanity Fair; all before his early death aged 42.

Colonel Frederick Burnaby - John Jenkins Designs.

Immensely strong, with a 48-inch chest, Burnaby could break a horseshoe apart with his bare hands. His party trick was to bend a poker double round a dull dinner guest’s neck. Most famously, when fellow officers coaxed a pair of ponies into his room for a jape, Burnaby simply picked them up, one under each arm, and carried them downstairs “as if they had been cats.” Burnaby’s talents only half explain his fame. Then, as now, media attention was just as important.

In the grimy, serious society of Dickens and Brunel’s the early Victorian world a combination of societal change, a lust for adventure and Gladstone’s 1870 Education Act, brought a dramatic change in Britain. Before 1870, public support of the Empire was low, within a decade, all that had changed. Against a backdrop of Sherlock Holmes, the waxed moustache, to the beat of the oompa band, a media revolution marched forward.

Frederick Burnaby was in the right place, at the right time.

Whilst Burnaby did not suffer the indignity of the red carpet, commentary on his grooming habits, choice of attire or women with which he kept company, he still had to live up to intolerably high expectations and fame nonetheless took a terrible toll. Victorians could not see Burnaby’s, so they continued to expect the impossible. As he entered middle age, Burnaby increasingly struggled to keep up with his dashing image.

Ultimately, the weight of expectation became too much. Resolving not to die old, Burnaby set out on one last mission. Ignoring orders, he joined the attempt to rescue Gordon at Khartoum. On leaving, he wrote to his footman: “I am very unhappy and I can’t imagine why you care about life. I do not mean to come back.” Sure enough, during an ambush by Sudanese warriors, he pushed through his ranks and rode out alone, determined to meet the public expectation of heroic death. So ended the life of a Victorian icon.

The Death of Burnaby - John Jenkins Designs.

His adventures can be read about first hand in either of his books; A Ride to Kiva or On Horseback through Asia Minor.

Based on Jonty Olliff-Coopers Article ‘Victorian Celebrity’ January 17, 2009. Read Jonty’s full article here.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Fort D'espoir - A French Indian War Wargame

Inspired by a fellow collector we decided to spend an afternoon wargaming with our collections over the seasonal break. It was a slightly larger skirmish than the last game we played, as our collections had grown and there was plenty of new sets to add to the table.

It had been a while since we had all of our john jenkins figures out together. At the prospect of an afternoon of gaming, enjoying our collections and copious amounts of tea and cake, we lit the fire, put the kettle on and settled in for an epic fight over a contested area of the Ohio Valley.

The game was played on a table 5ft by 9ft, just about the right amount of space for the number of figures we were using.

The British advance on Fort D'espoir.

The gaming rules were fast and easy to learn, once again a modified version of GW's Lord of The Rings Battle Strategy Game, affectionately now known as Drum of The Mohawks and we invited a long-time wargaming friend to join us.

House rules
In contrast to the display game we put at Eastern Front Wargames show back in 2010, this game was played on a slightly taller table. So in addition to our original rule: 'no figures closer that 6 inches to any table edge.', following a couple of unfortunate bayonet-caught-in-a-jumper front line re-arrangements, we added: 'no jumpers at the table.'

The Battle of Fort D'espoir
The game represented an engagement during the French Indian War outside a fictional French Fort D'espoir somewhere in the Ohio valley in the late 1750's. British line infantry, Militia and Roger's Rangers assault the fort, defended by French Marines, civilians caught in the conflict and French Indian Allies.

The French, alerted by their Indian scouts, knew the British were inbound and had began the hasty construction of a defensive abatis just outside the fort.

Marching out.

Unfortunately for them the Rogers Rangers had undertaken a successful scout of the fort and mounted their attack before the defences could be completed.

The British Advance.

The British plan was simple, attack in strength, send the militia to attack through the Indian village and the line infantry forward in strength, supported by a single cannon, in the centre and on the left flank.

Behind the Thin Red Line.

Troops of the 44th Regiment of Foot drew the short straw and advanced on the abatis, the British command had insisted it was imperative to ensure an anchor for the main thrust of the assault in the centre.

Closing In.

Caught off guard the French Marines manned the defences and brought their cannon to the front of the fort. A messenger raced back to the fort to call forward more men.

French Marines Counter-Attack.

As the British pressed on war cries filled the air and the Indian warriors mounted a savage counter-attack. The unit suffered heavy losses and fell back in the face of the overwhelming assault but re-grouped and reduced the Indian numbers so that only a small number engaged them in vicious hand-to-hand combat.

Indian Warriors charge the British Line.

The 44th Regiment of Foot's advance on the left flank was strong and whilst the French fire was hurried and ineffective an Indian wearing the spoils of a defeated ranger stood firm until finally British bayonets lead a decisive assault over the abatis.

The French marching out of the fort put up a solid defence, raining withering fire on the British Line, but in the end it was too late. With French and Indian forces in disarray, the French commander called a reluctant retreat. With their supply train headed out towards another French stronghold, they abandoned D'espoir.

The field of Fort D'espoir.

A British victory, but at a heavy cost.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game. The perfect combination of john Jenkins Designs toy soldiers, gaming, good company and humour, amply lubricated with lashings of hot tea and some preposterously large helpings of Christmas cake. We are already planning our next game and look forward to enjoying another session when a fellow gamer/collector is due to visit with us from across the pond later this year.