Saturday, 7 February 2009

Connoisseur Prussians by Peter Fitzgerald

One of the regiments from Peter, lots of one-off casualties and officers.
Back in the happy days when I was selling Connoisseur Figures around the shows I quickly realised that I needed plenty of high quality display figures to put on the stand. One range I lacked good figures for was Prussians.
Then at one show I was engaged in conversation by a charming gentleman who eventually introduced himself as Peter Fitzgerald, the man who had designed most of the Connoisseur Prussians. He happened to mention (In retrospect I think he did quite an elaborate and convincing sales pitch) that he was selling his personal collection of these figures because he was starting his own new venture (Calpe Figures).
Did I want to buy his collection?
Esque les Bruins fait le numeros dos dans les arbres?
He was selling 3 regiments each of 3 battalions, some skirmishers, a dragoon regt and an artillery battery. They were all lovely, I couldn't afford them all in one hit, but over the next few months I bought all of them apart from (with massive regret, now) the Dragoon Regt.

12 pdr Battery. Again, lots of one-off castings
As well as being one of the top figure sculptors out there, Peter is not exactly a slouch with the paintbrush either. He has a fairly unique style, going for quite a soft, muted effect. One thing I've noticed is he doesn't use any metal colours, instead using ordinary colour to get the effect. Sounds pretty wierd, but it works.
All of the units he sold me featured an awful lot of excellent conversions and one-off figures he had made himself, most of them variations on existing Connoiseur stuff, but with heavily altered poses, new heads, blanket rolls added- all totally unique. This posed a few problems later on when folk would come up to the stand and say "I want that figure" and one would have to explain that they couldn't get it. A lot of people stomping off muttering "why TF is it in then cabinet, then?" I did sympathise, but at the same time this was in the "good old days" of soft white metal, before rigid pewter became universal, and one of the strengths of the Connoisseur range was the incredible scope for conversion that was relatively simple. a few head twists or swaps, bend an arm here, and a small amount of skill with a soldering iron and it was possible to create totally unique figures. Some folk out there, like Peter Gilder himself or the erratic but monstrously talented Doug Mason could perform unbelievable conversions in a matter of minutes. Some people can turn their imaginations into reality, some can't. This ease of conversion was one of the selling points of the range to a lot of people, but for every one who liked to be inspired there were 2 who wanted to be spoon-fed...nothing much has changed there.

Another Infantry regt, these 9 btns have formed the core of my Prussians now for over 10 years

One-off Officer conversion, great work.
Anyway, so Peter went away and started Calpe, and did, indeed, continues to do, great work there. I've since bought a fair amount of his stuff, which we'll look at another time.
For all of Peter's urbane charm, he is a bit of a nutter though.... He designed all of the Connoiseur Prussians. Then he did most of the original Elite prussians for Pete Moreby, now he is STILL designing thousands of his own figures....Obsessed or what??
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Sunday, 1 February 2009

Return after the Mega-Game

The main hall, Brendan defending Malta in the foreground, Greece behind
more pics here: (thanks to Andy Smith)

Pitiful showing in terms of blogging here recently , so I guess I'd better make an appearence.

For the past week, and indeed the previous month has been taken up with the annual pilgrimage (and planning) down to Cornwall for the annual mega-game.
This has been going on for TEN(!) years now.. It consists of a week long WWII campaign in 1/285th and this year involved about 30 players.

There is a lot of pregame planning and decisions (which is my pathetic excuse for not blogging)-this year was a mediterranean 1941 campaign. Consisting of 3, 3 month strategic turns, which produced games in the widely varied theatres. In order to make it work, there were a few fudges, not least of which was that the Germans kicked off Barborossa in about march 1941!

This way they could run 3 games on the Eastern front during the week, simultaneously with Balkan, Desert, and middle eastern scenarios.

Overall, the system worked. In the past there have been games which have been run as a more conventional map campaign -previous games have included Kursk, D-Day (twice) France 1940, 2nd Kharkov. Personally I think they (we?) should go back to a conventional map game though it appears there is a groundswell of opinion to continue with this broader system, I hope not, but come what may I'm sure I'll be there. Not quite sure what will be the game for next year.
I had great time, fighting 2 games over Malta, the first with an Italian airborne division which after 2 days ended in the prison cages. This was then done again with the German Paratroopers showing how it should have been done. This was a cracking game which went down to the last die roll of the last turn.
For the third game I went to the desert - still commanding Paras- where I was a speedbump on the road to Bardia for 2 rather immense Commonwealth infantry divisions. It was a bit bizarre to spend a whole week fighting with micro-armour and not actually command a single tank or vehicle model.
There were a few command mistakes on both sides, and the umpires missed a couple of major tricks, but on the whole it had a good feel. This was indeed the 1oth game and quite a family atmosphere has developed, it is a very amenable week both on the tables and off it.
Blog here:
During the week I was also able to hand over the first 2 Wurtemburg battalions to Noel, like a twat I'd not taken any pics of them, which is a bit annoying. The next batch are now ordered and I'll start those in the next couple of weeks, those will be photographed.
Currently on the painting table is ......some Perry plastics! This quite surprises me to be honest, but I'm enjoying painting them. I'll follow up on how these turn out.
I'm getting a little bothered about my lead and plastic mountain, normally I'm pretty good at buying stuff and then painting it. Right now however I have 4 btns of Wurtemburgers plus a battery still to do for Noel, a burgeoning amount of Perry French infantry (between 4 and 6 btns, On top of this there are about 10 Soviet 20mm vehicles requiring attention, MORE tank riders (about 30) a couple of kits to make - on top of all this, I've discovered that Elhiem have done a range of 20mm infantry for Pzr Lehr (in the pzr battledress) which are going to be a purchase in the very near future.
Going to be a busy painting Spring.
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