Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Parallel parking trains and other madness

I admit that acquiring the accouterments of this hobby can be a challenge at times, a bit like trying to parallel park a train. But isn’t the journey sometimes more fun than the destination? It is for me anyway.

It was a joyous occasion in The Laundry Room Barracks over the last few weeks with a few acquisitions for my men and I.

I was able to convince General ze Wife that much needed reserve troops had to be trained for the French and Indian War campaigns I was planning. The General, at first, questioned why these troops couldn’t be acquired off a shelf from the Dollar Store. I had to state my case clearly and justify to the General that these were much more highly skilled and prized fighting men than that bag of roughians from China.

I had worn the General down. Besides, the Commander of all Things pertaining to me needed to finish preparing report cards and also had exams to grade. The General had little time for my foolishness and authorized my latest mobilization request. Hooah!  After trading a serious supply of Wampum and more than a few King's schillings, 18 finely chiseled Conquest Woodland Indian recruits were called up for duty from their base at Warlord Games in Great Britain.

The boys have arrived in fine shape via Postal truck. Foolhardy and excited I rushed in to show off my new men to the General. Although the recruits had been approved, The Supreme Commander of All My Troops did not share my enthusiasm and questioned this expenditure to the military spending budget once again. I could see the embers starting to ignite so I planned a safe retreat before the ginger-hair started to smolder, but the General quickly dismissed me to The Laundry Room Barracks. Lady luck was indeed on my side once again. I’m sure more pressing matters were on the General’s mind. Important things such as what would be served for dinner to the Teenage Spies that evening in the mess hall. The General had not time for my glee. Something as trivial as the arrival of reservists, Indians at that, was of little concern as the day faded to evening. Morale check avoided.

Once the warriors had been introduced to their new home, they were quickly allowed a warm bath and prepared for a primer coat by removing some of that metal grub that is all to common on little troops the world over. One might assume this was just the European way, oh relax, I’m kidding, a bit of grime comes with troops in the Americas as well. However, I do wonder if this grime removal would be double for troops originating in the Orient? These fine warriors are now cleaned up, waiting for me to issue uniforms and assign them to their units. Some shall become French allied Abenaki, the others British allied Monhegan. I admit I am a bit concerned at making their kit the best it can be. They are amazingly sculpted fighting men and deserve the concern of each brush stroke.

The next acquisitions are a couple of new terrain items, which include a nice piece of felt cloth and a yard of faux Grizzly Bear fur. The felt will be used as a board mat and is just a bit more than 6'x8'. It is of some fine medium-heavy weight felt material in a dark sandy brownish color. With a few cans of spray paint, in a variety of green shades, I was quickly able to turn this into something that looked like a bit of varied and broken terrain. The piece of felt is heavy enough that the paint did not soak through, so I still have the backside to use to represent a bit more arid climate. Total cost for this was only about $5.95 yd. x 72” wide. I bought a bit more than two yards so I’m in for under $15 and a couple more dollars for the paint. Not to bad to get two playing surfaces. I do like the commercial mats from companies such as CigarBox, but I really wanted to utilize the military budget on acquiring additional troops. The faux Grizzly Bear fur was a great score. I had been looking at a variety of fuzzy bath mats, towels and the like to try to represent some taller wild grass. Again, if I had my way and could convince General ze Wife that overruns are a regular occurrence in military spending, I would just buy the pre-made variety and be done with it. But unfortunately I do not have access to U.S. tax dollars like my own leaders in Washington, so I must compromise. The chocolaty brown Grizzly fur came at a price about three times the cost of the felt. This had me taking deep breathes while standing in line to check out. The General had already approved a few hundred dollars worth of spending for my units in the previous weeks. I didn't want to push my luck. But, I threw caution to the wind and approached it like a teenage boy in the backseat...just go for it my brain was saying. It was exhilarating. Break the rules even though I knew better. I could live without beer for a week or two. Ha, besides, there might even be some extra hidden in the supply depot. As you can tell from the photo below which road I traveled. I was now an outlaw who would need to avoid the General's Teenage Spies. With an added can of grass green colored spray paint, I had the tools necessary to kit bash that Grizzly into some proper wild grass. With these two items secured, I quickly raced back to base. The General and the most ruthless of the Teenage Spies, a fair headed lass who is the youngest of the bunch, were on a mission acquiring goods for the mess hall. I had to act quickly and decisively.

Because these items were acquired without the proper requisition and endorsement from the General, I needed to think like a cunning supply Sergeant. The mission was to get them painted and into the supply depot, aka The Barn, before the motorcade carrying General ze Wife and the hoard of spies returned to the cul-de-sac. The supply depot was rarely visited by the General but was a favorite place for the Teenage Spies to stash their Dutch Infantry bicycles. Much like a chameleon, I knew the best idea would be to camouflage these items in plain sight until they miraculously appeared on a future game board. With the board under attack from my men, none would be the wiser unless the Teenage Spies unravel my plan.

Unitl next time, Carry on my good men.


  1. Fantastic reading again Bob. You must ensure Form FIW/1754 is completed in triplicate, you keep the blue copy, the general gets the other two. Hopefully the faux fur and battle mat, hidden in plain view, will go unnoticed until such times as they are required.

  2. Thanks Ian. I hope it goes unnoticed as well. I think the Teenage Spies can communicate with the Supreme Commander even when they are all sleeping. It is truly one of life's mysteries how they do it.