Monday, 28 August 2023

Short People Got... No Reason

The Great Work continues apace, though it's still firmly in the "gets worse before it gets better" phase.  The wargames table is still piled high with junk, but now it's junk that's neatly sorted and categorised into Really Useful Boxes of various sizes. While I'm still a way off being able to lay down a battlefield of any size and throw dice it still feels like progress is being made.  I find myself at the mercy of our local council's bin collections

One lesson I would pass on to anyone facing a similar situation is the importance of transparent or open storage boxes.  I'd stored a lot of my figures and terrain in repurposed cardboard boxes which, while economical, meant the only way to see the contents was to open the box.  Out of sight quickly becomes out of mind.  Part of my reorganising process has included finding all such boxes and transferring the contents to either 32l folding crates for large terrain items, or various smaller sizes of Really Useful Boxes for smaller items.  Being able to see all the things you have at your disposal is very inspirational and motivational.

In that vein I've been looking at the various piles of miniatures I have in various states of gameworthiness.  The genesis of my current gaming revival has been the advent of 3d printing and initially I had a strong temptation to just put all my old, mostly white metal miniatures aside and focus on what I can print anew. But over the last few weeks I've come to realize that's wasting a lot of gaming resources and there are a lot of new games that I'm interested in that could be served by my existing minis collection.

And so, the audit...

Complete Project
    28mm Hillbillies

Ah this was a labour of love, and something I can draw a line under as done and dusted.  The Hillbilly collection was made up of suitable redneck minis from a variety of manufacturers brought together originally for a Big Birthday Bash multiplayer game, but have seen light a couple of times since including a couple of crossover Zombie games.  The full setup has laminated character cards for every figure using the Flying Lead rules and if I ever need a quick, lighthearted game to entertain a non-wargamer, everything I need for it sits in just a couple of crates.


If you've never heard of them, they're licensed superhero minis from DC, Marvel and others that were sold as "collectibles" in blind lucky-dip boxes.  I've hoovered up a few job lots over the years for use with the Mutants and Masterminds RPG I used to run.  I've got a couple of big boxes full of unmodified figures, and a couple of dozen that were actually modified to represent characters in the game campaign.  For now I'm happy to stick them in a corner for storage, in case superhero gaming ever raises its head again.

    Grimdark Future/40K

Now these are entirely a child of the new Revival, brought about entirely by the advent of 3d printing.  I'd grown interested in the lore of 40k rather than the actual game itself and got caught up in the current movement of gamers who rather than pay GW's exorbitant prices have started printing their own miniatures at a fraction of the price.  Since I was finding 3d printing a useful form of therapy I quickly amassed about a dozen RUBs of figures and some great plans.  This is definitely a topic that deserves a future post, but suffice it to say this project is ongoing and will have a very different focus and overall character to the game that GW produces.

    Blake's Seven

   This was a very small project from the very start of the Pandemic that went no-where.  Crooked Dice's range of minis representing the crew of the 80s cult TV show sparked an idea for a game mixing a small skirmish on a planet combined with the Liberator fighting off Federation patrol craft in orbit. A cunning idea which promptly got packed into a storage box and forgotten.  A candidate for selling on to make space except... it's only a small box and a really cool game idea.

    Post-Apocalypse / Sci Fi

    At least a KR Multicase full, mostly passably painted.  I'm definitely interested in doing some generic sci-fi and post-apoc skirmishing - 5 Parsecs from Home, 5 Klicks from the Zone, Fallout Wasteland Warfare etc.  Definitely going to see some use in the future, no pun intended.


Everything is better with zombies.  Everything.  The figures I have could be combined with any other 28mm collection for a little bit of survival horror.  I've maybe got 10-15% painted , enough for a typical skirmish game.  If I hit the paint table and brought the rest up to code there'd be enough for some respectable World War Z level games.

    Modern/Imagi-Nation/Gang War etc

A bit of a catch-all for "modern" figures from a wide selection of ranges such as Vietnam, Ultramodern, Spy-fi, gang warfare etc all bought and some painted for my old modern Imagi-Nation of San Paradiso, which veterans of the Axis may remember was my to explore modern insurgency conflicts without risking upsetting anyone sensitive about real world events.  While once again there's a healthy volume of unpainted metal in these  boxes, there's enough core figures painted and table ready 


I have a small number of figures, mostly unpainted, bought mainly as cousins to the VSF collection, plus a few die-cast Matchbox & Lledo "Days Gone" vehicles that didn't quite mesh with the more primitive VSF horseless carriages.  But one of the games I'm increasingly interested in is Pulp Alley and while I could play the rules just with Modern or pre-pulp Victorian figures, I've got just enough stuff that I could probably put together a decent pulp-era (1920s-40s) game, so I'm not ruling it out.

    England Invaded / Edwardian SF / WW1

These were gifted to me entirely by another gamer doing his own clearout  They're mostly painted and VSF-adjacent, but they're different enough to deserve their own category.  Definitely room for expansion

    19th Century (including VSF/Wild West/Colonial)

This is probably the "period" I have the most table ready for, with loads more sitting at the primer stage or unpainted.  I could do a wide variety of games in this era, from western gunfights to full pitched battles featuring landships and strange contraptions.  Definitely leaning towards the fanciful rather than historical 19th C.

    Elizabethan / Border Reiver

Now this is a classic example of a failed  project, bought into big time, that went nowhere.  Two full foam cases of figures from the Elizabethan swashbuckling and border reivers era.  None of it painted, none of it seen the light of day in over 15 years.

    Various D&D / Fantasy

These are really two different collection - old metal figs collected over 40 years including a sizeable dump from a friend who was making room for a baby, and the new collection of resin printed and plastics that I started putting together for the Ultimate D&D setup right at the start of the Pandemic.  I have several rulesets that I want to play with these - Age of Fantasy, Dragon Rampant, Song of Blades and Heroes.

Which neatly leads us on to the land of the Little People...

    Laserburn Scifi
    Modern / Zombies
    19th Century/Colonial

I am going to group these together because I'm coming round to a fundamental change in how I view this scale.  I used to be a big fan of 15mm figures as a straight alternative to 28mms.  Singly based for skirmish gaming, if there was a game designed for 28mm figures that measured in inches, I'd use 15mm figures and measure in cm.  My first wargame, Laserburn, was 15mm, and I have a sizeable collection of minis in various states of paint and disrepair.  When I started doing colonial wargaming, then strictly historical with no VSF elements albeit in the fictional continent of Olistan, while The Sword and The Flame were written for 28mm, I did it all in 15mm.  When 9/11 happened and I started feeling a little uncomfortable playing jokey games about westerners vs Islamic middle-easterners, my first forays into VSF with GASLIGHT were done in 15mm.  

But when I was starting to look at working on the San Paradiso project, I took a long time deciding on the scale. 15mm would be relatively cheap, have a good selection of vehicles and frontline troops available, and play in a more compact area.  But it would be lacking in characterful figures for skirmish games, which was part of what I wanted to do. 20mm/1:72 is another natural scale for modern games as you have a great availability of figures and vehicles, plus OO model rail scenery.  But 28mm had a major advantage in that I already had crates full of terrain in that scale, many of which could pull double or triple duty in different periods or theatres.  I had a full city layout for GASLIGHT.  Some of those buildings combined with newer style buildings could represent a more modern city.  Mix in some more buildings in a particular style and some distinctive vegetation and you've got a city on a tropical island.

I figured rationalising on a single scale for all battle and skirmish games would let me synergise and mx & match in that way.  I seriously considered the other scales, but the fact that I already had a head start in 28mm tipped the balance.  But not before I'd pre-emptively acquired a kilo or so of zombies and various modern troops and gangsters in 15mm, which were duly bagged, boxed and forgotten.

Now, these would make prime candidates for disposal except... I've long been a massive fan of the ultra-compact, fast-play wargame, such as DBA, HOTT or the Portable Wargame.  Something that can play in a tiny area but feels like a big battle.  I'd dabbled with the Portable Wargame in the past on this blog and while it didn't satisfy every gaming itch, it definitely had potential for scratching some that were beyond 28mm.  

Sooooo as a side project I'm going to earmark the 15mm Victorians and WW1 figs for stripping repainting and rebasing as multi-figure elements, something I've shield away from doing in the past. I've a mind to completely re-envision these as turn-of-the-century Imagi-Nations on a casual basis for whenever I have a two-foot square of empty table space and a desire to roll dice.  The scifi, modern and zombies will be similarly earmarked for group basing, all sized compatibly, to potentially scratch that same itch. There's no point in maintaining two different parallel collections in different scales to play games with the  same feel, but I think this would work.

Now we're getting to the teeny-tiny folk.


The sci-fi and modern were collected largely as odds and sods over the years , including bits and lots from Bring n Buys.  They were never cohesive armies and are honestly candidates for disposal (including a selection of vintage Battlemechs)  The exception is that as part of the San Paradiso project I did discover a game called 5-Core Brigade Commander by Nordic Weasel, which used 1 stand = 1 company to play out larger operational level battles.  I'd got as far as permanently basing two brigades for San Paradiso and their fun-loving communist neighbours Culo Raton.  I can definitely see a future where I do more armies in this format, even with new 3d printed vehicles.

(I've also got a decent collection of 1:300 aircraft I'll want to hang on to and use, for the skies over San Paradiso and beyond)

The ECW and Samurai armies were one time projects that just went no-where.  Honestly I don't know if they're even worth anything to anyone in their current state, but honestly I don't have the eyesight or the patience to do anything more than the simplest impressionistic paint job on 6mm, so one way or another out they go.

    ACW Ironclads

A bring and buy bargain I've never done anything with, but want to.  Maybe a dozen ships in total, and I happen to know there are loads of ships available to print as STLs making a cheap path for expansion if I felt like it.  I've played ironclad era wargames before and it was always good fun, so this is definitely something I want to revisit.


Not ACW these, but based mainly around the battle of Lissa.  I think I might want to get rid of these to a new owner willing to give them the loving restoration they deserve and instead focus on...


Bought originally to synergize with the colonial games in Olistan and mainly played using GDW's Ironclads & Ether Flyers originally published as a supplement to the Space 1889 RPG along with the Soldier's Companion for ground battles.  With the VSF elements stripped out, both served as quite robust historical wargames.  I had a small fraction of the ships that I'd bought painted and table ready, but this is one I'd love to revisit and maybe with different rules expand into WW1 proper and maybe even WWII.  1/3000 seems to be the one-true-scale of post-sail era naval gaming and the one to rationalise on.

There are a couple of other outliers in my toy cupboards.  Many boxes of diecast cars in the Hotwheels/Matchbox scale, to be fitted with tiny guns and rockets and armour plates to become death machines for games like Gaslands and Car Wars.  Honestly I see them as more as crafting projects than gaming material so there's no thought of getting rid of them

Then there's an eclectic mix of metal spaceships, some dating back to the earliest of vintages, plus a small box of Star Trek micromachines.  Despite the great sentimental value I think I want to dispose of the metal ships and if I ever need spaceships for a future game, print them in much lighter, flying base friendly resin.  The ST ships can stay and if I ever wand to expand on them, again there are loads of freely available STLs to print

Looking back on those, the common theme is that for much of my gaming life I never knuckled down to collecting and painting complete armies.  It was always odds & sods, here and there, totally without focus.  It wasn't until the 2000s that I made a decent effort to have whole armies table ready, with minor success in the early 00s with Olistan and much greater success in the later 00s with the G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. VSF collection.

I'm finding this sort of auditing helpful for me, as it helps my to prioritise and make decisions about what needs to be done next.  I've done a similar audit for the various terrain items and sets I've got.  I think the next post I make to this blog will be to look at the various wargame rules that I want to try and  combined with these audits, try to get an idea of what my new wargaming hobby will look like.



  1. You have made a good start in charting where you are in various projects, it's good to know what's done, what needs done and what can be passed on, Be interested to read about your rules audit.

  2. Thanks. I'm aware this post wasn't the most gripping reading for others, it was mainly for my own benefit. But I think it's a useful example of an exercise we can all do once in a while.