Sunday 26 September 2010

Usborne Battlegame books

Usborne are a UK children's publishing firm who in their time have produced much of interest to wargamers, including their Make this... series which included medieval town, village, cathedral and castle titles, some of which have been reissued.

The Battlegame books - Wild West, Knights at War, Galactic War, and World War II - by Andrew McNeil were published in 1975 and each included four simple but effective battllegames. The rules and counters were included in the centre of the book. I have posted a little on the contents of each title below.

Their serious credetials included illustrators including Gerry Embleton and Angus McBride, and Games designed by Dave Rotor and Citadel Boardgames, among others.

Usborne Battlegame book 1 The Wild West

I never had this book originally. Illustrators included Gerry Embleton.

The four games are:

1 Buffalo Hunters - native Indian tribes compete to capture wild horses and hunt buffalo

2 Red Cloud's War - warring tribes try to stop the US Army wagon trains reaching beleagured Fort Keogh

3 Iron Horse - player race to lay railroad tracks across the centre of America

4 Lincoln County War - Billy the Kid faces gatling guns in a range war

Usborne Battlegame book 2 Knights at War

Probably my favourite, this book was illustrated by Gerry Embleton and Angus McBride, among others.

The four games are:

1 The Battle of Arsouf - Richard the Lionheart against Saladin

2 Siege! - rival lords (the Earl d'Assault and Baron de Fender) struggle for control of a castle

3 Border Raiders - knights try to drive back invaders who are burning villges and plundering cattle

4 Tournament - jousting in a grand tournament

I remember playing the Arsouf and Siege games. I am missing the pieces for Arsouf and Border Raiders but the rules list the pieces and miniatures should substitutre well.

Usborne Battlegame book 3 Galactic War

This was the book I had the least interest in. It had some serious wargaming credentials as two of the games (1 and 4 below) were devised by Dave Rotor.

The games are:

1 Space Pirates - rival companies race to bring valuable minerals back to Earth from the asteroid belt

2 Deadly Planet - surviving in an alien environment

3 Invasion Earth! - search and destroy mission against aliens breeding in the Pacific Ocean

4 Galactic War - the Stellar Federation battle the Krul, each trying to capture the enemy's headquarters planet

Usborne Battlegame book 4 World War II

Written by Andrew McNeil, the four games were:

1 Winter War - Eastern Front 1943 with the Germans defending a railway junction against the Russians, who have 12 moves to capture it

2 Carrier - flat tops and amphibious landings in the Pacific

3 Air Assault - American daylight bombing raid in 1943 against occupied France

4 Beach-Head - D-Day landing game using The Funnies

The Carrier and Beach-Head games were designed by Citadel Boardgames Ltd.

I remember playing the Carrier and Air Assault games quite frequently but not the others. My current copiy has the pieces for these two games unused, but not the others. The rules pages identify the different pieces so they lend themselves to replacement by appropriate figures and models.

Ros Napoleonic 25mm

I posted this on The Old Metal Detector, but thought it might be of interest here as well because of the previous items on Rospak hard plastic figures.

Prompted by Tony's post on his Prometheus in Aspic blog, I have dug out my few examples of Ros 25mm Napoleonics. They looked exciting when they came out, as they were very cheap, metal, and offered normal-but-exotic things like British infantry in Stovepipes. I dithered and never bought any, but have acquired a few since.

The pictures show Prussians, a small unit of Austrian infantry, and some French foot artillery (thanks to Iain for this last picture).

Saturday 25 September 2010

Revo 25mm Napoleonics

Rambling post ahead warning - a while ago I bought some interesting 25mm British Napoleonic figures from e-bay which turned out to be marked on the underside with Revo and serial numbers in the B 120s and B 130s. They are in campaign dress (at least with shako covers) and some are centre companies, some are flank company men. Then last week when sorting out some Spanish figures I found one guerilla figure which was also marked Revo.

While familiar with Revo flags I had no recollection of ever seeing Revo figures, and I have not been able to find any list. I did however find a couple of mentions in old Practical Wargamer magazines of REVO flags coming from Whittlesey Miniatures. I also found a reference to 25mm figures from Whittlesey Miniatures, though this has not come to hand when looking into writing this post.

I did however find a reference to the proprietor being Keith Over, and finally made a connection to the Keith Over who wrote the Flags and Standards of the Napoleonic Wars book published by Bivouac Books in 1976. This then made sense with Revo (expertise on flags) and the final piece of the jigsaw slotted in to place when I realised Revo is Over backwards. (I trade as esra solutions, but that's another story).

Anyway, the figures are attractive, just the wrong scale for me (20mm all the way). If anyone remembers these figures or has units or armies made up of them, or could say how wide the range was and what it included, your comments as ever would be very welcome.

Monday 13 September 2010

Operation Sealion - the non-invasion, by Terry Wise, Airfix Magazine June 1975

The first article in the series. Thanks to Twmas.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Paddy Griffith remembered

The current edition of the Nugget, journal of Wargame Developments, is dedicated to memories of Paddy Griffith, and for this reason has generously been made available for free download by anyone.

If you are interested in reading some affectionate tributes to a larger than life and much missed character, who had a substantial and thought provoking impact both as an academic military historian and on wargaming, I would encourage you to browse it here.

Friday 10 September 2010

Rospaks: Macedonian Phalangite

Among the figures resulting from a quick visit to Harry (see also Lone S Ranger for further details) was this single Rospak Macedonian Phalangite, from set AG 4, which seems to be quite rare.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Blog recommendation

I would like to point people in the direction of Tony's discursive new blog, Prometheus in Aspic, which I think is likely to be of interest to many readers of Vintage Wargaming.

Terry Wise: Building a Boer War Armoured Train, from Airfix Magazine July - September 1976

Typical of Terry Wise's modelling articles in Airfix Magazine, this series of three on modelling a Boer War armoured train was inspirational and very memorable. Thanks to Peter and Alan for providing the scans and attachments. The first two (of the first article) are not of the same quality as the others as they are derived from photos rather than scans, photoshopped for perspective correction and high pass sharpening.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Terry Wise's Observation Post: Battle is dead, long live Battle

This is Terry Wise's first Observation Post column in Military Modelling Magazine from Novemeber 1978, once Battle ceased independent publication

Saturday 4 September 2010

Paddy Griffith on Fortress Games

Drawing together a couple of recent themes - making some of Paddy Griffith's writings more accessible, and siege warfare - is this article from the Batttle for Wargamers Wargames Manual, of 1983. Billed as a Military Modelling Magazine Extra, this dated from after the incorporation of Battle for Wargamers into Military Modelling (of which more anon). Among other things the 82 pages included Steve Hezzlewood on the Boucharde Raid, John Bennett on Solo Wargaming, and Terrain for Wargamers by Terry Wise.

Friday 3 September 2010


You might be forgiven for thinking hard plastic wargaming figures were invented by the Perry Twins, Valiant, Victrix, Wargames Factory, Plastic Soldier Company etc. Some us however might remember Springwood Plastics, the Esci hard plastic British Paratroopers, or the short lived Rospaks 25mm hard plastic Ancients figures.

This last range was available only briefly from December 1981 to October 1982 when they were withdrawn. I don't currently have a listing of them but I will look for some contemporary ads or reviews in due course. It is very difficult to find pictures of them so I thought it would be worthwhile and of interest to post some pictures, both of unopened packs and of some of the figures, both Romans and Greeks, below.

Rospaks: Romans

The seemingly very rare Roman legionary command figures

Roman legionaries - there is a second type of figure with separate arms

Auxiliary spearmen

Auxiliary archers

Roman cavalry

Rospaks: Ancient Greeks

The picture shows three different packs of Rospak Greeks - AG1 Greek Hoplites, AG 2a spear armed peltasts, and AG 3 Greek Cavalry. One of these packs is stamped on the reverse of the header card by the seller, Military Services (T S Walsh), 87 Ellacombe Road, Longwell Green, Bristol, B'tton 4085.

For a more detailed account of these figures take a look at Hugh Walter's post on his Small Scale World blog here.

I have a commercial interest in this post as I currently have some of the Greek figures available for sale, including bagged sets of hoplites (these are the later versions without shield transfers). I also have some loose hoplites, peltasts, archers and cavalry figures. If you are interested in buying any of these hard to find figures, you can contact me using the e-mail link in the right hand column on this page under Contact Vintage Wargaming (below the list of blog followers).