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  #25  
Old September 17th, 2015, 07:53 PM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

Tornado,

Yes, and thanks muchly. Unfortunately, shipping from overseas plus the high costs of the sets usually makes them prohibitive (I tried to buy them from Russia a few years ago)! If my US contact can't get any at the end of the month, I may reach out to SW. And there are also a couple more sets I never heard about either in your post, although I don't 'need' them as much as the Crimean guys!

Steve Weston of England is also known for their own crafted but expensive and interesting sets. I have a pair each of their German and British WWI tanks, and Napoleonic British sailors and marines, etc. However, I bought them here, which saved me the shipping.

BTW, the list of games I ran doesn't of course include any of the thousands of other GMs scenarios with various scales of minis I've played over the years. Now if I'd kept a list of those, it would be really impressive...

Buying historically correct 54mm plastics is an art! My last--probably for the rest of my life--really big theme was the Napoleonic Wars, which came out and much of which was only available over the last five years or so. If you tried to collect what I own of them now, many of the sets would already be gone or so rare and expensive you'd have to forget about them. Finding them is very different from just scooping up bags of cheap plastic sets you see at big box stores, although sometimes they can work too! And the 54mm metals are so expensive I never collected many of them.

Last edited by chas; September 17th, 2015 at 08:08 PM.
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  #26  
Old September 17th, 2015, 08:06 PM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

Impressive. Are you leery to actually play with such rare figures?
Do you still run events at conventions?

A cloud can change its semblance, yet retain its will
With the intimacy of destruction, One knows what it is to be alive
The empty sky holds no reflection, for sorrow
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Old September 17th, 2015, 08:11 PM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

T:

I play with the rare plastics, but my players are careful with them (no kids or pets allowed). I've only run a few games at conventions, and don't even attend the events any longer. I'm too old for long car trips any more, but if they move some of them farther north as they might I hear, I might go again. But playing here at home is more fun; 'con games' are limiting for a number of reasons.

Besides the USA and Britain, the two largest producers, I have 54mm figures from France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Argentina, China, Japan, Russia, (off the top of my head), and who knows where else! I also have some custom 'animated' figures, made from different parts of different figures cut and glued together, that are completely unique! Examples would be my wacky American Civil War New York City ethnic regiment of Scots (79th NY) and one of Italians (39th NY, The Garibaldi Guard aka Lincoln's Foreign Legion), which I commissioned myself from various sculptors in the US and Canada.

Of course, my favorite Civil War regiment in my collection is the 14th Brooklyn State Militia (74th NY).

Last edited by chas; September 17th, 2015 at 08:28 PM.
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Old September 17th, 2015, 08:18 PM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

How do you store them all?
Or are they on glorious display in your abode?

A cloud can change its semblance, yet retain its will
With the intimacy of destruction, One knows what it is to be alive
The empty sky holds no reflection, for sorrow
- Eslo Rudkey
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  #29  
Old September 17th, 2015, 08:31 PM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

I wish! Most are in shoeboxes (1 per regiment) or other containers in the back room, where I am typing this! Just packing out what I need to the front table after first finding and setting up the terrain is quite a job. First I have to 'cast' each of the units in a given scenario after I make it up. Its especially challenging to set up obscure battles such as those I do now, for which few if any soldiers are made (like the Crimean War). So although I keep to a generally correct appearance for a given period, unlike those who worry about how many buttons each regiment wore historically in a certain year, my philosophy is like the credits of the old predigital films:

"The entire Spanish Army was played by the entire Russian Navy!"

For example, I am currently reading a new book on The Wars of China, and was happy to find a photo of WWII Chinese wearing French WWI 'Adrian' helmets. Why? Because I just got some new figures wearing them who are meant to be WWII Free French. They could also 'play' Russians, Spanish Civil War troops, and others. Just figuring out who I can get away with using as what is quite fun for me.

My painting is only serviceable, not 'museum quality' as some are able to accomplish. But I've turned out many, many figures, and they look good all together in the 'moving dioramas' of my games when they are together on the table.

For many years, people only did skirmishes in 54mm, but I do real battles, and there are several tricks to doing that in the Big Scale, when table space is at a premium. These days more people do that also, and you can see some clever ones at conventions. A few people even use Heroscape Terrain for them (1 figure per space), believe it or not!
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  #30  
Old September 18th, 2015, 01:49 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

I actually like the idea of using "proxies" in simulations when the most realistic appropriate miniatures are unavailable. Personally I don't give a hoot about how many buttons were originally on a period uniform. I am planning on running a HeroScape demo at a Game Day event in October. And I was originally thinking of simulating four battles skirmishes from the "Hobbit" movies, until I realized that it would be so Last-Year-ish.

But I had already started writing an introduction with these instructions: "The part of Gandalf the wizard will be played by: Sonlen the archmage; the part of Thorin Oakenshield will be played by: Migol Ironwill; the parts of Balin, Dwalin, Oin & Gloin will be played by: a squad of Axegrinders of the Buring Forge; the parts of Filli, Killi, Ori & Dori will be played by: another squad of Axegrinders; the parts of Nori, Bifur, Bofur & Bombur will be played by: a 3rd squad of Axegrinders; the parts of Bilbo Baggins and Gollum will be played by: Darrack Ambershard and Isamu respectively. Thus creating a reinforced Dwarf "Army" worth 550 pts.

As a little kid, I had a plethora of toy soldiers from 54mm - 1:72 and would often substitute figures for my own crazy scenarios, i.e. using German WWII riflemen as Crusader knights with crossbows. It seems silly now, but kids playing don't care about such details. I only wish that I had had more adult supervision or interaction and that someone back then would have introduced me to the concepts of combat resolution probabilities with dice and historical battle reenactments in general. I was just copying what I had recently seen on TV or in a movie.

When you are doing larger battles, I'm sure that your individual figures represent entire units like Squads, Platoons, Companies, Battalions, etc. What are some of your typical ratios of men per mini?

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"Strategy without tactics is the most circuitous route to victory, but great tactics without a strategy is just the cacophony before defeat." ~Sun Tzu 500 BCE
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  #31  
Old September 18th, 2015, 08:38 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

JohnGee,

I use different representational scales (ratio of toy figures:men rather than figure scale itself, which is 54mm) for different periods:

Medieval/Fantasy: 1 figure: 1 man.
Basic Unit: Company (up to approx 50 figures of the same type/species)

English Civil War to Late 19th Century: 1 figure:20 men
Units:
Infantry Battalion/Regiment of 50 figures
Cavalry Squadron of 10 mounted figures
Artillery Battery of 1 gun and 4 crew

World War I to Korean War 1 figure:4 men
Basic unit: Company of 50 figures or 4 vehicles, (transports, tanks, boats, or airplanes, etc.)

***

As you know from our Long Islandscape Tolkien Day, I'd gladly play in your "casted" games if you weren't so far away! When are you and Dadscaper coming over to my house for some games (and a sleepover)?

***

Some of my earliest 54mm are from my childhood. The Louis Marx Company playsets and various dime store lines from the 1960s started off my American Civil War and WWII collections, and a few others. The most historically correct were of course from the old Marx Toy playsets, most of which I have in original or reproduction!

During the Viet Nam era of the 1970s, very little was produced. My old pal, today one of the largest toy soldier retailers, was reduced to buying figures from birthday cake decorators! In the 1980s, 54mm took off, with new historically correct figures by a number of small companies, and reproductions of the old Marx and etc. figures. In my collection is the entire run of the old Plastic Figure and Playset Magazine (Editor Tom Terry), which specialized in listing the contents of old and new toy soldier lines and playsets with photos. In the preinternet days, this and other sources were very important. Now of course you can see websites for dealers with photos of their wares!

During this time I wrote a column called "Those Fightin' Fifty-Fours" in the old MWAN magazine (The Midwest Wargamer's Association Newsletter) to popularize The One True Scale. I also attended two of the yearly conventions of the Historical Miniatures Gamers Society held in Lancaster, PA. I still participate in discussions online on littlewars@yahoogroups.com ("Our Founder H.G. Wells"). The British pacifist and early scifi author Wells in Little Wars wrote one of the first rules sets for toy soldiers at the beginning of the 20th Century; his book can still be found in reprint!

During the 1960s I got more modern rules books for toy soldiers, many by Donald Featherstone, the British "father of modern wargaming." I made my own drawn from them, which are still those I use in my own games today, just modifying them for different periods. When my parents sold their house out on Long Island, I had to choose between my big figures and a large collection of 1/72 scale figures for storage purposes, and the big guys won out. I stayed with the big guys so I could throw in figures from different periods/nations occasionally, especially during European Colonial Wars. This was partly due to the scarcity of adult 54mm gamers; many other wargamers in clubs have group efforts they participate in where each player makes up one army from a particular conflict. But this results in players having many different and incompatible armies, often in different smaller scales. I never went that route, which was more 'normal' for a wargamer.

Today I also play many board games which use smaller scale minis, such as the Richard Borg Commands & Colors games. I actually own a few collections in smaller scales, such as the old Star Wars figures (which I've used on Heroscape Terrain), but mostly still stay with 54mm minis!

***

I'm always surprised when people tell me they can't solitaire games! But then, I look on them as dramas I'm directing, rather than just as competitions. So I have no trouble ambushing myself! Luckily these days I don't always have to go the solitaire route. But I'd rather play things I'm interested alone in than spend hours gaming subjects or especially rules I don't like. Life is too short!

So today I'm playing games that I planned to do decades ago, before figures were ever made that could even approximate battles for their topics. This is very fulfilling for me, given my historical and fantasy/sci-fi interests. Now in my batchelor retirement I have a very big table, and lots of toys to play with on it! Hence the Crimean War, and many other wacky subjects.

Last edited by chas; September 18th, 2015 at 09:19 AM.
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  #32  
Old September 19th, 2015, 12:49 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

BRAVO! to you Sir, and thanks for the History Lesson regarding the evolution of toy soldiers.

As I evolved through adolescence and puberty I embraced the theory - "Smaller figures allow for bigger battles." Thus I transitioned away from the 54mm Play Sets toward the (at the time) brand new 1:72 "HO" scale and gave away shoeboxes full of soldiers to younger cousins and neighborhood kids. This did permit me to engage two full companies of two hundred men each ( 1 fig. = 1 soldier ) and a few vehicles within the same confined space of my dad's 4'x8' model railroading board.

During high school and college, girls, jobs, girls, cars, girls, lengthy reading/research assignments, parties, and girls took over my life. Except for an occasional session of RISK with it's wooden blocks for units and some Avalon Hills publications with their tiny cardboard chits, war gaming became a thing of the past - just my childhood fantasy. During my Us Army assignments, primarily in the oxymoronic Military Intelligence Corps (1974 - 2001) I became acquainted with the Arts of Warfare, and serious War Gaming not only as a hobby but also as a profession. However, pursuing a career and raising a family did not leave much time or sufficient disposable income for leisure activities.

I only got into collecting and gaming with miniatures in 2002. First with the Sabertooth Games Inc.'s Lord of the Rings: Combat Hex system, which you only saw the tip of the iceberg of last year at the Islandscape event. And then HeroScape was the perfect follow on to that to provide 3D terrain and additional 30mm Orks, Elves, Dwarves, Wizards, Knights, etc. for the LotR:TMG sets. Now this "pass-time" has become an obsession and spiraled out of control with fleets of Pirates of the Caribbean sailing ships, fleets of Star Wars space ships, battalions of Star Wars alien infantry (yes, even Ewoks and Gungans), as well as Steam-Punk Leviathans, and too many board games that are just collecting dust, including Richard Borg's BattleCry, BattleLore, and Memoir'44.

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"Strategy without tactics is the most circuitous route to victory, but great tactics without a strategy is just the cacophony before defeat." ~Sun Tzu 500 BCE
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Old September 19th, 2015, 08:20 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

JODIECONS

Besides the HMGS cons and some local East Coast smaller events, I've attended about half a dozen Weekend Conventions put on formerly by Pete Panzeri, then a US Army captain and major. He was an instructor at the US Army Prep School in Monmouth, NJ where most of them were held, besides his active duty career spent here and overseas. These cons were named after his former wife, who did lots of the back up administration to make these events work! They were entire 2-3 day events devoted to one battle, with 25mm miniatures from many major collections being maneuvered over perhaps a dozen large tables in a ballroom or such huge space. This was as close to a real military strategy exercise as one could get without being in the service!

Besides players for major military units, these simulations included a commander and staff to perform army coordination. I often wrote and edited online newsletters for the events. Some of the players were among the most prominent wargamers in the hobby, from all over the US and occasionally elsewhere.

The ones I attended were:

The Successors of Alexander (King Ptolemy of Egypt)
Waterloo (British Intelligence Staff Officer)
Borodino (Field Marshal Prince Mikhail Ilarionovich Golenchev Kutuzov,
Russian Commander)
Gettysburg (twice, once on each side)
Arnheim (Event Table Judge)

Pete is still running such events today, usually on the anniversary of a famous battle! I considered the Borodino game the height of my public gaming career. Before the event I lead online strategy sessions to choose our basic team deployment plan. During the battle itself I sat at the command table in the rear, and could only look off at the battle areas with my binoculars, as I and my staff send messages to the various generals which were delayed a variable number of game turns.

Although the French side won tactically on the table, we won strategically, preserving our army for future Napoleonic endeavors. I had guessed that the other team would try the Davout Backed Alternate Historical Southern Strategy, but chose a middle plan, as I didn't want two thirds of my players to miss out on the fun. My cousin won the Russian MVP for still having his militia in their original defensive positions at the end. We had a guy from Turkey, an expert in light cavalry tactics, running our Cossacks, who bedeviled the enemy near Borodino village in the north! I made lots of friends who I played games with at conventions before and after, including some practice events for whatever rules sets we were going to use during an upcoming weekend. (One of the people I met at another of these events remains one of my local 54mm players today).

I also grew huge sideburns after researching my character, who is the famous beloved old general from War and Peace. When NYC Mayor Bloomberg handed me an award for Multi-Cultural Education on a stage at a ceremony here just before I went down for the con, he looked askance at my dashing appearance then, I can tell you! Since I was just one of many getting the certificate, he didn't know me or what my story was about.

An official representative of the USSR was there to open the convention and formally make a few remarks on the occasion as well! As a side commander I was really event staff, helping everyone have fun and resolving problems or questions that came up in my army, along with the full team of referees for issues that affected both sides. My Chief of Staff was also a West Point graduate and army officer, so I had all the help I needed. The guy playing Napoleon, another pal, had me up to his hotel room during a lull in the fighting for a glass of--what else--Napoleon brandy. There were also interesting history lectures and other special opportunities, including an online showing of the anniversary ceremonies taking place at Borodino in Russia itself! Although I've run or participated in many other large events as a professional Training Director and Instructor, this one was perhaps the most dear to my heart.

This convention was held at Fortress Monroe, VA (still an army base) where I took a tour, and got to see Robert E. Lee's prewar quarters, where Edgar Allen Poe had served as a US artilleryman, also before the Civil War, and the cell where Jefferson Davis was held after it. Before this JodieCon, my cousin and another pal from Canada and I also drove around on vacation to see nearby sites at Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, the 'historic triangle' of Virginia.

Last edited by chas; September 19th, 2015 at 09:50 AM.
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  #34  
Old September 20th, 2015, 12:06 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

Sounds like GREAT fun. What you are describing as a huge multi-player game with a command staff coordinating activities via written notes after viewing the actions of the current turn through binoculars is the epitome of what I would some day like to accomplish with the several Richard Borg "Battle Cry" Civil War games that I've acquired over the years.

I worked at Fort Monmouth from 1988 - 2011 and lived within 5 miles of the back gate for the last 17 of those years. Too bad I didn't know about CPT/MAJ Pete Panzeri's event back when I was there. BUT at the time I wasn't into much gaming being too preoccupied with family interaction, continuing education, and career progression. Besides once a month I would journey down to the NJ National Guard's High Technology Training Center at Fort Dix to participate in computer based modern battle simulation exercises.

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"Strategy without tactics is the most circuitous route to victory, but great tactics without a strategy is just the cacophony before defeat." ~Sun Tzu 500 BCE
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Old June 21st, 2017, 07:27 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

Hello there. Its been years since I posted here! So here are a few updates.

First Crimean War in 54 Painted!

Finally got those Russian made Crimean War Russians by the obscure and limited run Engineer Basevich company in St. Petersburg. Its a set of 12 heroic character figures called "Defenders of Sevastopol" done by that company's excellent sculptor. I've just finished painting them up. I've got two more sets from the later Russo-Turkish 1877 War to do next that I've started on, which I'll use for Crimea. This is an even more obscure war that shows the Russians oddly in American Civil War type (French) uniforms of kepi and havelock. These are the very first plastic 54mm figures ever made for these conflicts. The company is now 'subcontracting' for a larger company
(Chintoys) and making Napoleonic Staff sets for all the major nations of that period. So his wonderful sculpting will be now easier and cheaper to obtain.
Some obscure uniform guide information tells me that just after the Crimean War the Russian army went with French style uniforms (as we did in our own US Civil War). The nationalistic Pan Slavic movement there and in Eastern Europe had taken hold then, so many officers resisted putting their men in "foreign dress," and so that fashion was resisted. After this war they went back to more Slavic type uniforms, whose appearance stayed that way then up until our own times.

This means I'll be finally going back to playing with my minis again, continuing my Crimean Campaign with the Battle of the Alma. Hooray!


Charley San Back From Japan; Now With Double The Samurai

My recent terrific two weeks in Japan (Tokyo, the northern Japanese Alps, and Kyoto) resulted in two new Asian farmhouse buildings I can use in gaming--one of my Heroscape buddies is already planning to use them in a game he makes up for our monthly group--but no figures. Although they have a board game scene there (I was to busy on a programmed tour to hook up with it), they don't do toy soldiers, due to an anti-war clause in their constitution, similar to the German reaction to WWII.

However, by coincidence (but because I've been mentioning japanese themes on my 54mm discussion group online), I've just come into a cheap haul that doubles the number of rare Samurai figures they do make, oddly enough by a candy company called Kuruta. The figures came in "chocolate eggs," randomly stocked in vending machines back when they were made. This company still makes all kinds of toys from purely kid stuff to WWI airplanes and Star Trek space ships, but only sells them in Japan and SE Asia. However, I'd gotten some from a US vendor who sold me about 30 where I knew which figures I was buying. Only used them once, in my Battle of Hansando (the Japanese naval battle from their invasion of Korea around 1590).

Now a fellow 54mm hobbyist has sold me his 40, so I'll soon have double the number, once I get them glued together! Best of all, while these give me "officers," the largest new US manufacturer says they'll one day expand into this period. This would give me "ashigaru" soldiers for these samurai to command in the scale for the very first time (I could use the many Chinese "Boxer" types i have already collected in the meantime). A noted British hobbyist has been giving me photos and other catalog info I can use to figure out what I've got. Some are duplicates, but some are figures I don't have, including a couple of mounted figures at least, on holding a huge banner! Alrighty. Its fun to go through and see which ones I have, a process that still continues. One of the "rare" figures I didn't have comes with a cannon! Very cool.

That British pal is now sending me info about skirmish rules so I can use them in one to one battles. One game out the famous Kurosawa fillm "Seven Samurai," the Japanese version of our Western film The Magnificent Seven. I don't do skirmishing myself, but sometimes include heroic role playing figures in my larger battles.

Tolkien Project

The Russian company Technolog makes wonderful figures (I've used a few historical ones for Crimean War), but their men don't have any bases, as they are meant for kids to use them in a game with toy cannons so they can fire at them and physically knock them down. This tradition continues from Little Wars, the H. G. Wells version (Our Founder of Big Scale Wars). Occasionally someone uses the old original rules to stage a game, but no one fires actual missles at rare metal Britains figures they use for these games! The old metal figures are too valuable for that (I sold mine off years ago for more plastic ones).

Anyhow, I made my first decent bases to use some of these figures out of kitchen floor tile, aided and advised by my crafty pal, who used to make all kinds of things for my battles. So I've got whole 25-50 man "companies" (the scale of my Medieval/Fantasy rules) of them all "mounted up" and ready to play with, that I haven't used before, having a whole carton of such hardly ever used including various fantasy figures, including the Fellowship from that company that made figures from the Peter Jackson films! Got to get some of them to the table. So far I've only done one skirmish with that period's collection!

31,000 and Counting

Recently I moved boxes to get to the back closets in my back room where I'm typing this, which is also full of toy soldiers. And I catalogued hundreds more figures of Sci Fi stuff I'd never integrated into the Master Lists I made up last year. So I finally know what I own--over 31,000 figures in the Big Scape. Of course, you'd have to imagine all of the vehicles, equipment, and terrain to get an idea of what I have here.

That's not counting the smaller scale figures that come for systems like Star Wars, Axis and Allies, etc. which I've accumulated to play, or the many minis they now make for my large board game collection as well.

Last edited by chas; June 21st, 2017 at 07:43 AM.
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Old July 20th, 2018, 11:21 AM
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Re: 54MM: The One True Scale

Here's an update; after a year or two of inactivity, I've just finished painted up the only plastic Russian Crimean War 54mm toy soldiers (made in St. Petersburg by Engineer Basevich, supplemented by their Turkish and Russian 1877 War sets), and run my 8th Crimean War game "Crisis In The Guards Brigade" from The Battle of the Alma. Its good to be doing toy soldiers again! Next month will be a Tolkienish Fantasy battle using other Russian made figures (Technolog) I've never managed to get onto the table, with the new bases I made for them.

So I've now made my first kitchen floor time bases, and am just starting to use Matte Varnish to protect my slapdash painting. My painting is slowing down, so I can afford to enhance the figures a bit.

I also just painted up 40 minis for my new boardgame Big Trouble In Little China, which came out pretty well!
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