Thursday, June 2, 2016

New minis, new friend

Several years fact, the first year that Historicon was held in Fredericksburg, Virginia...I came across a deal in the flea market.  I have always been enamored by the Marlburian period of history; one of my favorite books is The First Churchill, about John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough.  I've had some armies in 15mm for the period, but never a British army.  So this deal was a box with a starter army of French and British in 6mm.  The figures were Baccus, so were beefy enough with some detail, and the paint jobs were quite good.  Without even counting the figures I snatched it up, looking forward to finally getting my hero (so to speak) on the table.  Sadly, once I got them home and really counted noses I discovered that I had about six battalions of each side, and about the same number of cavalry units, with four artillery pieces per side.  Definitely a starter army, but not much more than that...and I have become well-known in my gaming circles as one who likes the armies big, the battles big, the spectacle big...I like big games and I cannot lie!  Suffice to say that this purchase found it's way to the gaming storage area and has never seen life on the table-top battlefield.

A few weeks ago I saw a post on TMP of someone who had a WSS lot on auction on ebay.  I clicked on the link and saw my of a beautifully painted collection of British AND Dutch with an opposing force of French AND Bavarians...6mm...Baccus...enough to play on it's own to my standards but by adding my box in the basement to it I would have the mother of all Marlburian collections ready to put on huge (in my mind, at least) games.  Just one problem: the seller clearly stated that he would only post within Australia, where he lives.  Nooooooo!!!!!  It was like a bad dream...just what I needed to finally get some Marlburian gaming going and yet so out of reach!

I went out on a limb, sent the seller a message through ebay asking if he would consider letting me bid on his auction.  Turns out he is a very nice guy, and after a couple of email exchanges we were corresponding daily...he was actually pulling for me to win the auction, and I was calculating the exchange rate daily to see if I should modify my max bid.  Before the auction even ended I realized I truly enjoyed chatting with my new Aussie friend, and was a regular visitor to his own blog site.

After a week of nail-biting, upping my maximum bid several times and hovering over the computer, I finally reached zero hour...and it was mine.  It was such a great feeling!  Now for the patience part...I had to wait on the postal service of several countries to get my armies to me.  God must have had one of his wargaming angels watching over this package; it was mailed by Alan on the 23rd of May and arrived at my house in Virginia on June 1st. week from Australia to Virginia!!  I'm convinced Marlborough's ghost was riding watch on that airplane ride!

Now, waiting for miniature figures (painted ones) to arrive is always nail-biting enough as it is.  You never know how well the seller is going to pack the little soldiers for travel.  I've had guys promise me they have shipped tons of figures with nary a scratch, only to hear the box rattle when I'm turning it over to open.  I've had pikemen that were so entangled I've had to walk away for a few hours to calm down; chipped paint where the figures banged against each other because the packer thought a few Styrofoam peanuts would keep the (metal) figures from settling and bumping each other.  Tip to seller: just because you carry the box flat and steady to the post office doesn't mean it's not going to be tossed, flipped, rolled, dropped, run over by forktruck (seriously...tire prints on the outside of the box!)...or just disappear entirely with only a "We're sorry" note from the postal service.  So coming from Australia...Alan promised he had packed them well, so I held to that and waited.  When I opened the box, I couldn't believe my eyes. 
Each stand was individually wrapped in bubble wrap, then taped closed.  Each artillery stand, each limber stand, each command was amazing!  Nothing budged inside that box, nothing rubbed.  Alan even laid them out neatly in rows and by nationality, then put a label in place so I would know that!!  At first I was opening cavalry and artillery, then my wife handed me something and asked what it was...

I couldn't believe it; he had even carefully folded a piece of cardstock over the infantry and wedged it between the ranks of figures so that the flag staffs (which are very thin metal and quite bendy) wouldn't get broken.  My admiration for my far-away friend, which was already in place, grew even more.  I have never had someone take such care to make sure the miniatures they sent arrived in perfect condition.  My wife said it right: you can tell when someone paints the figures themselves, because they pack them with tender, loving care.  She has seen me unpack quite a few armies, and has become quite wise in the ways of shipping miniatures.
I'm a little OCD...I line the armies up on parade as we unpack them.

Here are a couple of shots of the armies.
The Franco-Bavarian contingent, lined up for inspection.


 Here is my attempt of spot-lighting Marlborough's finest.

Now I have to rebase the old armies that I had; I've already ordered bases from Litko to make the change.  Once that's done, I'll muster the entire force for a follow-up posting.  Of course, once I get them into a game I'll have to post that too.

June 1st truly was Glorious!  My earnest hopes that the armies were as prettily painted as the ebay pictures suggested were answered, and they arrived in excellent condition.  Best of all, I have a new gaming friend in Australia who I look forward to chatting with.  This is the perfect example of why I love this hobby!  Thank you, Alan, for the care you took in packing these boys off to me.  Good on ya, mate!


  1. An instantly gameable collection; perfect!

  2. Aww gee, Rob, I'm feeling the warm glow of wargaming brotherhood all the way down here at 38 degrees South!! Thanks for your exceedingly kind words - getting to know you and seeing my WSS guys in such good hands had been the best thing. My wife, Sarah, always tvs me when she hears the sound of sticky tape and bubble wrap late at night - says "you doing another flawless transaction?" (some eBay feedback I got). Your good wife is 100% on the money - I put so much time into the little guys I just wanted them to get to you in good order. Thanks, friend, greatly appreciated. Alan

  3. What a great title for this blog!