Saturday, October 10, 2015

English Civil War DVD's

I've already mentioned the movie "Cromwell" in other posts so I went through my DVD's and had a look again. So here's a brief round up of what I found available online and bought.

 Most of these titles should be familiar to wargamers, as they were featured in the "Battles That Changed The World" series on TLC back in the 90's.

 "Cromwell" is an interesting but not very historically accurate film. It is largely a showcase of two actors, Richard Harris as the reluctant soldier and ardent anti Catholic defender of the Puritan cause, Oliver Cromwell. The other is of course, Alec Guinness, as the Stuart King Charles the First, a stubborn and immoveable monarch whose disdain of Parliament led to the war.
The film itself is nicely shot, attractive and full of uniforms and costumes of the age. For wargamers there are two main areas of interest, the battles of Edgehill and Naseby. On DVD they start with scene 10 and continue through scene 14.
There are a lot of historical liberties, such as Cromwell reciting Lord Astley's prayer, The Royalist foot are all in uniform and in red, which isn't quite the historical truth, as the King had even greater troubles than the Parliament did in procuring weapons and equipment. However, the uniformed troops look great and do give the impression of a professional force, especially in contrast to the Parliament army.
The Roundheads are all peasant dressed, in earth tones but well equiped with weapons and armour.
The horse is as expected, ironsides for Parliament and Cavaliers for the KIng, but many of the King's horse are shown as lobsters. The cannon are impressive, large heavy looking pieces that spit smoke and flame. The shot has the exploding dirt we've all become accustomed to in film.
Overall, the battle is exciting and fast, and the resulting loss, yes the King wins this battle and routs the Roundheads, results in Cromwell withdrawing to raise the New Model Army. The film shows the typified training scenes of soldiers and horse. They then take the field at Naseby.
Here the film makers take great liberties, saying the King catches Cromwell outnumbered, 7000 to 3000. A short sharp fight ensues with much excitement and the King's army is routed and destroyed.
The rest of the film is rather slow. It traces the Self Denying Ordnance to exclude Essex and Manchester and appoint Cromwell as commander of the army. Not very accurate again. The film continues until Charles' defeat and capture, and his plots to bring in a Catholic army. Finally Cromwell has enough and has the King executed. Cromwell retires but is forced to take over as dictator as Parliament can't rule on its own.
So there you have it, a film worth seeing for the battle scenes.

This title is probably the best of the lot. Narrated by Robert Powell and featuring Dr. David Chandler as historical consultant. The documentary features many scenes of the Sealed Knot reenactors and begins with the Bishop's wars and the troubles caused by Laud and Strafford. The film covers the army composition, and mentions many battles, from Powick Bridge to Phillipaugh.
It is a great general history and fast hour to watch.

This is a DVD that is more than half history leading up to the battle. Less than half is the actual battle. The film features the same Sealed Knot people, and the experts are filmed at the battlefield. The main historical host is Bob Carruthers, whose work is throughout the Cromwell Productions films. He also wrote an excellent book that is an overview and companion to the Civil War.
As a film this is a great introduction to the period.

This is a rather detailed account of the campaign and battle featuring actors and the Sealed Knot Reenactors. The historical commentary is by Dr. Les Prince and Stuart Reid. A rather interesting look at the battle and the role of the Scots, espescially David Leslie and his lancers, and how Cromwell downplayed their role in the hard fought victory.

This is a more artistic production, featuring very attractive pastoral scenes. Bob Carruthers, Prof. Jeremy Black and Dr. Peter Grant are the commentators of this social history of the war. They begin in 1629 through the Bishop's Wars, The Long Parliament, Strafford and Laud, and the Graet Remonstrance. The film mentions Powick Bridge and finishes with 2 minutes on Edgehill.

This film was "Dedicated to the Continuing Recovery of Dr. David Chandler", following his stroke. This title features the "Battles That Changed The World" introduction we are all familiar with, and has Dr. Les Prince as the main commentator. He mentions the histories of Brigadier Peter Young, which perked up my ears anyway. A lot of acting and reenactors in this one, and they focus on Charles' wavering nature. The victory is attributed to Cromwell's cavalry who could charge and wheel at the gallop. The prelude takes up 38 minutes, leaving 17 minutes for the battle and end credits.

This title is well produced, with computer generated maps and animated battle scenes. Hosted by Peter and Dan Snow, it is a slick, fast moving production that is very entertaining as it is informative. The countryside is shown, often with helicopter shots and the hosts go through some aspects of training that the New Model Army would have done. Where this excellent production is let down, is the inclusion of a series of improv actors. Some are very good, while many are flat or just inarticulate and terrible. They really let the show down. But despite their poor performance, the rest of the show is top notch. The battles shown are Newbury and Naseby, which is the last 30 minutes of the program.

The book I mentioned earlier is "The English Civil Wars" by Bob Carruthers. This is an excellent overview with full colour illustrations, flags, organizations and many portraits and paintings of the period. The book also features colour captures of reenactors throughout. The battles shown also are presented in a "wargame" style as seen below:

Considering the cost and poor performance of many Osprey titles, this book is an excellent buy and useful resource.

Well, that's my round up of DVD titles on the English Civil War that I found, mostly on eBay and Amazon.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Some Photos I Found

A while back I purchased a bag of miniatures from a game called "Sid Meier's Civilization".
There were some ancient types, medieval, renaissance all the way to modern tanks.
I cobbled together the arquebusiers, with rests for their guns, and painted them up. The hat and plume left a little to be desired, but on the whole they weren't bad.
Here they are facing off some French Gendarmes in a Civil War period, with some Mars pikemen, Warrior Arquebuses, Airfix Musketeers and coming up through the trees, some mercenary Scottish pikes, from Crusade Miniatures (sold by Warrior).

The Gendarmes are part of a 200 piece lot I won on ebay years ago. They are Scruby 20mm, and tend to be a bit small compared to today's modern figures. But they have a lot of movement and "je ne sais quoi".
The base is my painted canvas, the buildings are part of a plaster of paris La Haye Sainte. The trees are those pesky styrofoam noodles you often find in shipping boxes. I glued them to toothpicks and set them in drilled holes on a wooden base. Black basecoat and green drybrushing.

Some American War of Independence figures.

These are mostly Airfix, again based on dominos ans organized into units of 6 bases or 18 minis. The green soldiers are lead, 22 mm from Stone Mountain Miniatures. There's a bit of a story there. They became Musket Miniatures, and now Musket Miniatures have sold up and are out of business. I have no idea who is making them now. A real shame. These are nice figures depicting AWI Loyalists.
Also a commander is there from the 204 Revolutionary War set.
**(Edit October 24/2016: The 22mm Musket Miniatures are on sale again, as are their 22mm Civil War figures at: )**

Some Napoleonic British soldiers. These are from a purchase that I made a year or so ago. They are nice figures, but they were painted in Humbrol enamels, so there was/is a fair bit of chipping paint. I did touch ups and sealed with Future Floor Wax.

Warrior Miniatures 25mm  Napoleonic Spanish. nice figures that aren't much bigger than 1/72.

Esci Polish lancers and Strelets Polish lancers in winter uniform/capes. I mounted them on Giant horses.

Two fanciful commanders. 25mm Minifig Napoleonics. Beside them are some of my plasticine conversions, the oft ignored civilians.

1/72 French Foot Dragoons converted with plasticine. The figures are old original Airfix British 8th army, WW2 Germans, and Hong Kong types. The first wurst wagon is made by me, wood and bingo chip wheels.

More of the napoleonic purchase, cavalry, cuirassier mixed in with Warrior cavalry, and more of my painted minor nations.

Some of my civilians. The basis are Airfix 8th Army figures with florist wire and plasticine. The wierd wolf is a supposed Loup Garou, possibly to be seen in a scenario based on the Werewolf of the Auverne.

A tilting frame for some medieval ideas I had in the past. The spectators are converted cowboy figures. 

Byzantines and Hun conversions. The Byzantine/Late Roman guys are Hong Kong copies of Airfix Afrika Korps figures with florist wire spears and large bingo ship shields. I really like the Hinchliffe army featured in the Book "Art of Warfare on Land" by David Chandler. The battle was Daras, and pitted Belisaurius against a Persian horde. The huns are Giant indians converted and led by a Hinchliffe Attila.

Miracle dipped Republican Romans and Celts. Mostly Hat and Revell.

Finally, these guys featured in the background of the Marx Arabs post. They are Airfix Robin Hood types. They're brittle, so a base and heavy coats of Varnish are my attempt to rescue them from falling apart in a box. These were someone's army. They feature paper axe heads and paper shields.