Saturday, November 21, 2015

Comic Book Toy Soldiers: Lucky Toys 104 King's Knights Set

This is another post detailing some of the comic book toy soldiers that were available long ago. Well, maybe not THAT long ago. I have to say that I never saw these ads in the comics I was buying:

They were made by the same people who made the flat Lucky 204 Revolutionary War Soldier Set and the Lucky flat Romans. These figures are similar in that the foot soldiers are a larger size than the cavalry. Here's the original box that also served as the mailer:

As you can see it is very similar to the box the 132 Roman Soldiers were packaged in. Once opened the contents were jumbled together:

The ad says you receive the following:

4 Kings on Horseback
12 Knights in armor on horseback with pikes
12 knights on horseback with banners
4 Buglers afoot
12 Knights on horseback with battle axes
20 Foot soldiers with Maces and side swords
20 Foot soldiers with swords and shields
20 Foot soldiers with long bows

The soldiers were divided equally into black and white pieces. Unlike the Roman set, there are no catapults or devices to knock them down. The set I possess is made of a very hard plastic, the detail is crisp and only some of the mounted knights' "pikes" have been damaged by handling over time. Also my set is incomplete, it is missing a few figures.

The 4 kings:

12 Knights in armor on Horseback with pikes (lances)
12 Knights on horseback with Banners
4 Buglers afoot
12 Knights on horseback with battle axes
20 Foot soldiers with Maces and side swords
20 Foot soldiers with swords and shields
20 Foot soldiers with long bows
All set up they look impressive:

As for the scale, the foot soldiers are the same size as the flat Romans, just over an inch and a half tall and too large to fit in with smaller plastics. The cavalry is the same size as the Roman cavalry and a suitable fit with modern 1/72 figures, albeit rather thin. Here's a picture showing the size differences between Airfix and Strelets 1/72 figures and these:
These figures are very nice, they have flat bases but they are susceptible to sudden domino like collapses if the table they are on is bumped.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Stow-On-The-Wold - March 21st, 1646

Stow-On-The-Wold was the last battle of the first English Civil War. Fought in spring of 1646, it was the culmination of Charles I last attempt to raise an army. The disastrous battles of Marston Moor and Naseby were in the past. What soldiers were left were at Oxford, and scattered about in town garrisons. Even Prince Rupert was gone, he had returned to the continent, following the loss of Bristol.

I looked through my own books and found precious little on the battle. I finally found an excellent article in Henry Hyde's "Battlegames" magazine. The article was written by wargames legend Stuart Asquith, (Battlegames Issue 6, January/February 2007, pages 9 through 11, "Battles for wargamers, Stow-on-the-Wold, 21st March, 1646).

I used his article exclusively for the following picture narrative using my toy soldiers.

In the Spring of 1646, King Charles Ist was hoping to raise new armies with soldiers from Ireland and Scotland and even France. In the North, Montrose had been defeated at Phillipaugh the previous September. Meantime, Charles summoned his experienced commander, Sir Jacob Astley, to take a small force into the west counties and Welsh Marches to raise what soldiers he could.

Astley was accompanied by several other commanders, including it is believed, Sir Charles Lucas, one of Charles' best cavalry commanders.

They scoured towns and recruited some 3000 men.

These were unpaid and hungry soldiers from garrison towns and many had never seen action.

The King was waiting in Oxford for these soldiers to bolster his own forces. Astley began his march back, careful not to confront any Parliamentary forces that were shadowing his progress.

The Parliamentary Forces were led by Colonel John Birch. He had a mixed force of 600 foot and horse.

He was to link up with Colonel Thomas Morgan near Evesham. Morgan was bringing 1000 men from the garrison of Gloucester. Heading towards them was a third force of 1000 cavalry under Sir William Brereton.

Astley found his route blocked at Evesham. So he marched and counter marched and made his crossing of the Avon River at Bidford. He noted that the Parliamentary forces were not very agressive, and this aided him in his task of getting these soldiers to Oxford. By March 20th, Astley's force was approaching Stow-on-the-Wold.

Early on March 21st, the three Parliamentary forces linked up when Brereton's 1000 cavalry arrived. The Parliamentarians had heard that Charles had sent a powerful cavalry force to meet with Astley, and that it was now imperitive to confront the Royalists before their numbers grew.

The battle itself was fought with the Royalists holding a ridge about a mile before the town of Stow-on-the-Wold. They were deployed with the 2000 infantry in the center under Astley, their right flank comprised of 350 cavalry under Sir Charles Lucas, and the left flank of 350 cavalry under Sir William Vaughn.

Facing them at the bottom of the slope, the Paliamentarians adopted a similar deployment. Colonel john Birch had 1600 infantry in the center. On his left were Colonel Thomas Morgan and 500 cavalry, and on his right Sir William Brereton with 800 cavalry.

Sir Astley's strong position suited his footsore and untried recruits.

 The Parliamentarians began to climb the slope, pausing to give fire with shouts of  "God be our guide!". The Royalists replied with fire and "Patrick and Saint George!". It was a disaster for the Parliamentarians.

Morgan's cavalry broke, as did the left half of Birch's infantry.

On the Parliamentarian right, the more numerous cavalry of Sir William Brereton broke their opposite number under Sir  William Vaughn, and the Royalist infantry soon followed the cavalry in an all out rout.

Below them, Morgan rallied his forces and began to follow up the victorious center and right.

The Royalists ran back a mile to Stow-on-the-Wold, where a short and bitter street battle ensued. In all the battle lasted some 30 or 40 minutes. The Royalists lost 200 dead and 1700 prisoners. It was the end of Charles. His last field army was in tatters, captured or scattered to the wind. Sir Jacob Astley was captured and accorded the respect due his reputation and his 66 years of age. The man whose prayer at Edgehill is so oft remembered, said to his captors "Gentlemen, you may now sit and play, for you have done your work. If you fall out not among yourselves."

Charles abandoned his wartime capitol of Oxford and headed north, to surrender to David Leslie at Newark in May of 1646.

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.