Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Sealed Knot in Mayfair 1970

Here from the October 1970 issue of Mayfair magazine is an article on the, then, relatively new English Civil War re-enactment society The Sealed Knot.  I have reproduced it in full and if you click on the images they should be readable!

The pictures in this article were taken by American photographer Philip O Stearns who was a Sealed Knot member himself.  He also took the pictures for my favourite wargaming book The War Game, which dates from the same year.  

Philip Olcott Stearns was born in Detroit in February 1917. The rather patrician Stearns attended the private Brooks School, in North Andover Massachusets, and then Princeton, where he was a successful rower. It was during his time at Princeton that he developed an interest in sculpting. He graduated with a degree in art and archaeology. During World War 2 he was based in the UK as a Captain in in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services; the precursor of the CIA) working with the French Resistance for which he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He was a great collector of model soldiers and was also very involved in the early days of The Sealed Knot; the English Civil War re-enactment organisation. He took the photographs for many books on model soldiers and even wrote his own: How to Make Model Soldiers (1974). He was a successful photographer; taking a cover picture for Sports Illustrated in the 1950s, for example. Another of his books Six Nymphets (1966), is more appropriate to the work he did in the mid sixties and early seventies as Director of Photography for Bob Guccione's Penthouse and, indeed, many other mens' magazines in London, where he lived in a lavish flat in Mayfair. After he left Penthouse he went on to be editor of military history magazine Campaign. He died in February 2000, two days past his 83rd birthday, in Vermont. Interestingly, his death notice (paid for by his family) mentioned his interest in military miniatures and historical societies but didn't mention his photography at all!

Angela nearly reveals her demi-culverins

After Penthouse he moved on to work for Mayfair and took the cover photograph and centrefold pictorial for the very same issue in which the article on the Sealed Knot appears.

Amber Dean Smith wenches it up

He even managed to combine his two interests when he photographed the first ever Penthouse Pet of the Year, Amber Dean Smith (who appeared  as Warren Mitchell's girlfriend in Hammer's curious SF western Moon Zero Two (1969)) in a seventeenth century setting and period clothes for Mayfair in 1969.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Empress Miniatures ECW cavalry 1

I already have a lot of Renegade's ECW cavalry but haven't painted anything except a unit of cuirassiers.  For the English Civil War this is obviously a major omission.  When I saw Empress Miniatures new ECW figures I wasn't going to get any as I thought they would be too small (they're not) and not really add anything to the figures I had.  However, when I saw them at Warfare I could not resist them because they are, quite simply, the nicest 28mm cavalry figures I have ever seen.  You have to see them up close because they, essentially, have an extra level of detail I haven't seen in figures for this period.

Firstly, the horses themselves are lovely and, er, very obviously male!  The heads and bodies of the horses also have the large veins sculpted on them which I have never seen in another horse in this scale. The reigns are separate rather than that odd all in one metal band you get in other manufacturers horses.  The pistol handles are also much finer than the Renegade ones with nice detailing on the saddles, even though most of it won't be seen!  The buckles on the bridles are also accurately reproduced.  The only downside to them is that the horses legs are very fine so you have to be careful not to bend them when putting them on bases or, worse, still breaking them off their metal bases completely when you try to cut some of the supporting metal away, as I did.  An email to Empress asking to buy  a new one saw a response within the hour and a replacement is on its way.  I also took the opportunity to order some pike men!

The riders are either in one main casting or some have a separate right arm.  Again, the detail on these is extraordinary.  The spurs, rather than being a simple spike are fully detailed including the rowels at the end. The buffcoat sleeves have seams, there is piercing in the helmet ear flaps and the sabres have a fuller and a basket hilt.  The scabbard is a separate piece and so, amazingly is the helmet faceguard, allowing for a proper representation of the lobster pot helmet for the first time. The only concern with the rider is that the swords are very thin (as they should be) and seem impossible to get really straight and flat

There have been a few complaints on The Miniatures Page that these are expensive but they really are little works of art.  The only concern I have is trying to get my painting to do justice to the quality of the sculpting ,but over the next few weeks I am going to try to complete an initial three or four models.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Empress Miniatures v Renegade Miniatures English Civil War Cavalry

Empress (left, Renegade (right)

I bought some of the marvellous new Empress ECW cavalry figures even though I suspected that they wouldn't go with my existing Renegade figures.  Renegade are big figures and the Perry's I bought to go with them were much smaller and I sold them on (except the cuirassiers (see blog title picture) where I kept the riders and remounted them on Renegade horses so they look fine in the same unit.

 Empress (right), Renegade (left)

Much to my surprise the Empress figures are large and I won't have any issue in putting them in the same unit as my Renegades.

Empress (top) Renegade (bottom)

I'll have to buy some foot now!

Friday, 23 March 2012

North Star 1672 at Orc's Nest

I've been intrigued to see the sale of Mark Copplestone's Glory of the Sun range to North Star where it has been renamed 1672.  I bought a few French a few years ago but, although I really enjoyed painting the figures, I didn't know what to do with them apart from some thoughts of skirmish games in North America.

Now, however, Orc's Nest in London has started selling this range and so I picked up a couple of packs to paint as English today.  Having them so accessible could be very bad indeed and I am planning to paint one English figure in the next week if possible.

What I haven't really been able to establish was whether there were any actual battles between the English/French and Dutch land forces in this period.  I suppose we could always go for a fictional conflict based on a successful invasion of Holland rather than the Dutch having defeated the Anglo-French navies. 

Whatever, uniform information is very difficult to find...

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Thirty Years War size comparison

L to R: The Assault Group Swedish Pikeman, Warlord Games, Swedish pikeman, Renegade ECW Pikeman

Despite my better judgement (I really don't need to start another period) I recently bought a box of Warlord Games Thirty Years War Swedish.  I first became interested in this period when I bought some of the Revell 1/72 figures.  I then started to buy some 20mm metals to gain extra troop types but gave up on the whole project eventually.  It was only when the beautiful Renegade ECW figures appeared that I started to paint 28mm 17th century figures.

Given my Swedish connections it was inevitable that I should return to the Thirty Years War at some point and a year or so ago I bought some of the amazingly comprehensive The Assault Group range which are also sculpted by Nick Collier who did such a great job on the Renegade figures.  However, I don't really like them because they are a throw-back anatomy wise with, to my mind, overly large heads.

When the Warlord figures came out I thought they were lovely and anatomically excvellent but by this point I'd painted two big 48 man ECW regiments using Renegade figures and realised that the two ranges were completely incompatible.  The new Warlord Thirty Years War figures use their ECW sprues with a few metal bits (particularly helmets).  Now fashions for the Thirty Years War and the ECW were not the same but I guess they are close enough and they are packaged beautifully.

My biggest problem with the Warlord box (apart from the fact that you really need to buy seperate metal pikemen in tassets) is the number of components in the box and the fact that there are no instructions as to which arms produce which pose  (something the Perries tell you, in contrast).  So I have been put off starting them as they aren't that easy to work out.  Fortunately several of the pikemen are one piece castings (except for the helmet) so it is simple to compare them to TAG and Renegade figures.  I, personally, don't think they are compatible but the latest TAG command figures on TMP look a little better anatomy wise.  Renegade are beefier than Warlord but could work in the same unit.

I'm due to visit Stockholm next month so, no doubt will get all enthused about the Thirty Years War again!

Friday, 6 November 2009

First Galloping Major figures ordered

Friends under fire by Robert Griffing

Well, although the last thing I need is another wargames period I have just given in and ordered a couple of packs from Galloping Major's French Indian War range. Some Canadian Militia and some Mohawks (or, rather, Kanienkehaka, as my Canadian First Nations Aboriginal contacts would no doubt prefer).

I have also just discovered the wonderful paintings of Robert Griffing, an artist from Pennsylvania who concentrates on painting scenes featuring the Eastern Woodland Indian in the eighteenth century. His paintings will help a great deal on colour schemes for the figures. Looking forward to them already!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Flintlock and Tomahawk Blog

More Ronald Embleton marvellousness!

Lance Cawkwell from Galloping Major Wargames has just made me aware of Ralphus' excellent blog Flintlock and Tomahawk, which I hadn't seen before. Trully excellent stuff.

The greens of the new Galloping Major Rangers are really enticing! I'm not going to be able to resist these. I'm on my seventh day in Canada and coming here always makes me want to get some figures onto a board full of evergreen trees!