Monday 15 November 2010

A Trip To Whitehall

Liz and  had a trip up to Whitehall at the back end of last week. I'm a regular visitor, but I'd not appreciated that there was a rather nice statue of General Gordon outside MOD Main Building facing towards the Thames (perhaps to remind him of his days looking out at the Nile, waiting in vain for relief to arrive). It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I hope you'll excuse a picture of the good lady wife perched at the foot of the general's statue.

Not much to report on the modelling front at the moment, although the Egyptian rocket troops are almost finished and the last odd stands of Camel Corps troops have been delivered to my local expert painter, Nigel Cox, for him to work his magic. I should have some pics of his rather excellent paint jobs shortly.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

The Mahdi of Sudan...

Colonial wargamers tend to be, in my experience, extremely well read on British and mperial troops and commanders, but less well so on their "native" opponents. The Sudan is no exception, and the vast majority of books that are readily available are written largely from the Imperial perspective. Worse still, hunting down many of the books and articles that were written at the time of the campaigns or shortly thereafter one finds that (understandably) they are almost entirely written in that style, and lump the Mahdi and his commanders into the generic role of "noble savage" (or noble wily savage in the case of Osman Digna), clever, cunning yet uneducated. Wherever possible I try to read both sides of the story when launching into a new wargaming period - for example, one of the most valuable books I obtained when I was running a Falklands 1982 campaign was Martin Middlebrook's account written from the Argentinean perspective - and this has been pretty tricky this time around. So it was with some happiness that I've recently picked up a copy of "The Mahdi and the Death of General Gordon", by Fergus Nicholl. I'm only part way into it but that part has covered the early life of Muhammad Ahmad in some considerable detail, and straight away has blown away some of my own preconceptions regarding the background to the campaigns in the Sudan. I'm sure the rest of the book will be just as edifying - I'll report back on it later.

As an aside - Google Books is an invaluable resource, isn't it? I've managed to download copyright-free versions of a whole host of boks writen about the campaigns in the 1880s and 1890s. I suspect Liz's new Kindle may find itself topping up with those in the not-too-distant future!

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Reinforcements at Suakin

My latest painting project has been to finish off a battalion of Indian troops to support my "Suakin Front" contingent. The figures are Old Glory 15s, my first foray into figures from this manufacturer (I bought a few packs via a friend in the US, so you'll be seeing more from OG in the coming weeks). The figures are sold in packs of approximately 50 (in this case 51), which works out well given that I need 18-24 figures for a battalion using the rules on which I'm currently working.

So, how do these chaps compare with the Peter Pig figures  that make up the bulk of my armies? The answer is, IMHO, fairly well, but Martin Goddard's figures have a clear edge. I'm not entirely convinced by some of the poses (especially the one apparently leaping into space from a rock), and the comand figure selection isn't that helpful - a standard bearer would have been a useful addition, so in the fullness of time I may convert one of the prancing figures.

That said, the figures are decent, fairly well detailed and paint up well. they are not as slight as PP's but I guess that plays to the fearsome repuation of the Indian troops - they are, after all, over ten feet tall old boy!

A severe lack of enthusiasm meant I only painted up half of the pack, so I have another battalion's worth left to do (and then some Sudanese). But first on the stocks to finish will be the artillery support for my Camel Corps - more of these chaps later!