Thursday, 3 November 2011

Inspiration drawn from other wargamers: Jim Duncan's Spencer Smith figures

I took the plunge and sent an order to Spencer Smith Miniatures this morning. I ordered enough figures to create a couple of small wargames armies that I can use with my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 or MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules.

No sooner had I sent my order off than Jim Duncan sent me some photographs of his painted American Civil War Spencer Smith figures ... and seeing them confirmed in my mind that I had made a good choice. His figures are exactly how I want mine to look when they are painted.

Jim very kindly agreed that I could use his photographs on my blog ... so here they are!







A truly inspiring set of photographs of some wonderful wargames figures. I look forward to painting mine as soon as I can after they are delivered.

24 comments:

  1. Hopefully they will be just what you want, sir.


    -- Jeff

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  2. Bluebear Jeff,

    Having seen Jim Duncan's painted figures, I think that they are exactly what I want.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Hi Bob,

    Stunning, simply stunning! Give the man a cigar!

    That is EXACTLY the look I am after and if I can get anywhere near that I will be a happy man.

    I am curious as to the first armies you are planning though!

    All the best,

    DC

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  4. David Crook,

    My thoughts exactly!

    My first armies are likely to be for either Opeland and Upsland OR San Theodoros and Nuevo Rico ... but I might change my mind by the time the figures arrive.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Hello Bob

    I'm glad you and others like the style of these soldiers. They are a pleasure to paint although they need a little cleaning up with a file to start with. You can add as little or as much detail as you like in their painting although their simplicity is part of their charm.

    I think we should commend Peter Johnstone at Spencer Smith Miniatures for keeping these figures available. They are 'Old School' to a 'T'.

    The more observant among you will notice the mounted bugler which is a combination of two figures and a razor saw cut, the dismounted troopers with hats cut down to forage caps and the uncatalogued 'empty horses' which I am sure Peter will cast for you on request.

    All in all they make up a fine pair of armies in my collection.

    Jim

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  6. Jim Duncan,

    They are simply GREAT! You have done well and deserve to be proud of your achievement in producing two such lovely armies.

    You are right about Peter Johnstone at SSM; he deserves a medal for making sure that these figures are once more available ... and in metal too!

    Thanks for explaining how the 'unknown' figures were made, especially the horses. Perhaps I might be able to prevail upon Peter to cast some for me as well at some time in the future.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. In these days of too many gamers seeking absolute perfection in their figures it's really nice to see these simpler yet elegant figures on parade. Absolutely lovely stuff!

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  8. Bob

    Thanks for your commendation.

    You will notice that my bases are multi-layered. Each figure is singly mounted on a magnetic base and each group of figures has a steel paper topped movement tray with a lip to the rear to line the figures and also carry a unit identification.

    This method minimises one of the drawbacks of 'Old Schooling' in moving a lot figures one at a time.

    My unit organisation is also quite simple. Each infantry regiment is 25 figures strong comprised of four companies of 5 rank and file and a command section of Colonel, Captain, one or two standard bearers and one or two musicians.

    Each cavalry regiment is 16 figures strong when mounted giving three troops of four figures and a command group of Colonel, musician and a further 2 troopers.

    Dismounted these become two companies of 5 troopers in a firing line with Colonel and musician, and another 4 troopers acting as horse holders with 4 'empty horses' each.

    Artillery is 2 guns to battery, 3 gunners and captain each and a battery commander all on foot. I have yet to source artillery limbers and horses yet.

    The ruleset I use is very largely based on Donald Featherstones originals.

    Jim

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  9. Very appealing figures. Old School in the best sense of the term.

    Regards,
    Steve

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  10. Steve's Wargame Stuff,

    I totally agree with you. These are exactly what they are; toy soldiers waiting to be used in a wargame.

    I am of the opinion that far too many wargamers think that figures have to be shaded in three colours and with detail like eyelashes and bad teeth painted in ... and that is in 15mm! They may look great in a painting competition, but do they really look any better when seen from across a wargames table?

    As you say, they are 'smart yet elegant' ... and that will do for me!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Jim Duncan,

    Thanks for the extra infomration. I like the way that you have based the figures as it allows units to be moved quickly but also allows individual figures to be removed. If your rules are heavily influenced by Donald Featherstone's, I can see why you have chosen this method; it combines the best of both worlds.

    What are the figure and unit bases made from? It looks like MDF or something similar, but it would be helpful if you could let me - and the other interested blog readers - know as I suspect that they might adopt your method of basing.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  12. Corporal_Trim (Steve),

    You are bang on! They are 'Old School' in all the best senses of the term.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  13. OK, here are some of my basing 'secrets'. Please feel free to copy and adapt.

    Sometimes I use what I call 'bookbinders' board which is a greyish cardboard about 2mm thick. I have got it in the past from both a librarian friend and also a bookbinder. Both these contacts have dried up since (one of the penalties of retirement) but I think I have enough in stock to keep me going for another decade or so.

    These are cut to size with a steel rule and a stanley knife. I stick magnetic tape under the figure base and trim with scissors. Try and make sure you keep the magnetic pole facing the same way for all the figures in one unit. I have, on occasion, seen some magnetic repulsion upsetting some units.

    I cover the movement tray with steel paper again trimmed with scissors and then glue a thin strip along the back of the tray to help with lining up the figures. You can also place a unit identification marker here.

    I get the magnetic tape and steel paper from Trevor Holland at Coritani.

    I have also used black plasticard about 1mm thick which I find can warp when used as a cavalry base but OK for infantry. I think that the magnetic tape has a stronger pull when drying than the plasticard can resist.

    These bases are given a coat of goblin green, from 'you know where' and a coat of Windsor and Newtons matt artists varnish.

    This method gives me an easy way of producing an 'old school' look with a modern twist.

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  14. Jim Duncan,

    That you very much for the description of the basing system that you use.

    Like all good ideas it is a mixture of simplicity and sophistication ... and looks very effective.

    The tip about keeping the magnetic poles on all the bases facing the same way is very, very helpful as I for one would not have realised how important that simple factor could have been.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  15. Hi Bob,

    The figures are produced a stone's throw from my house. I have been there and seen the set-up. Next time you are here we could go and pay a visit. More toys for you and a photo opportunity for your blog.

    Tone

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  16. I can't look at these figures without thinking "Featherstone" They can be seen on the dust jacket to Battles With Model Soldiers (my first book on wargaming) as well as elsewhere.

    A joy to look at and just right for the forces of fictional armies.

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  17. Robertpeel999 (Tone),

    I knew that they were made in Norfolk, but not that they were made quite so close to where you live. When my life is a little more settled I will hopefully be able to come up to see you and pay a visit to Peter Johnstone at SSM.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  18. Ross Mac,

    How very true! In many ways they are the epitome of 'Old School' wargaming, and I must admit that just looking at them reminds me of the photographs in Donald Featherstone, Charles Grant, Peter Young, and John Tunstill's books and the great battles that I had using their rules.

    I cannot wait for the figures to arrive so that I can get started!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  19. I am only a young wargamer, but I prefer the look of these old school figures rather than the newer makes, simply because they are, as Steve's Wargames stuff said,"smart yet elegant". I think that many wargamers get caught up on how well they can paint miniatures, rather than the fun of the game itself.
    I have just received an order of spencer smith miniatures, and I have to say that they are great!

    Luke

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  20. These are very nice. Very nice indeed. Really nice. But having been unexpectedly landed with two additional scales in the past year (54mm & 25mm) I must resist!

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  21. Masher88,

    You sound like you have a fine grasp of the essentials of wargaming ... It is about fun and enjoyment. If people want to paint their figures to a highly detailed standard and they enjoy doing that, that is fine by me ... but do their armies perform better in battle? Do their figures ever take to the tabletop battlefield?

    In my opinion Spencer Smith Miniatures LOOK like wargames figures ought to look. I hope that you will let us know how you get on with painting yours. It will certainly be of interest to me and the regular readers of my blog.

    All he best,

    Bob

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  22. Tim Gow,

    You know you want to ... You know you want to ... Resist ... Resist ... Resist.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  23. Very nice indeed.

    I have a ton of 28mm ACW already but these look tempting. The painting style is similar to my Prince August collection.

    I also echo the comments about Peter at SSM. A true gent.

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  24. Mark Dudley,

    It is the simplicity of the design of the Spencer Smith figures that appeals to me. To me simple figures with a basic paint 'job' look just as good - if not better - than overpainted, heavily detailed figures ... and I suspect that they see more action as well!

    Peter Johnstone strikes me as being an all-round good bloke who is providing a much needed service to wargamers like me. More power to his elbow, I say!

    All the best,

    Bob

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