Saturday, January 7, 2017

55 Days at Peking... A beginning

One of Don Kingman's wonderful watercolour paintings from the opening credits of the 1963 classic film
produced by Samuel Bronston and starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven

Right then! I've finally made a decision about my big new project for 2017 - it will be a Boxer Rebellion theme and it will be centred around the Siege of the Legations in Peking in 1900.

After much consideration, wandering about the interwebs exercising my Google Foo and counting my shekels over and over I have decided to go with a 28mm large skirmish model. This will involve at least 130 Chinese troops and as many as half of that number in Great Powers troops spread across most of the various imperial protagonists.

Last night Russ, Cory and I played a test game using Matakishi's free skirmish rules The Natives Are Restless Tonight available from his own Boxer Rebellion project. They mostly suit my needs and with some tweaking will, at least for the time being, be the preferred rule set as they play fast and allow for plenty of on-the-fly silliness and heroics from both sides.

This morning I sat down and re-watched (for about the 100th time I think) the 2.5 hour cinematic epic 55 Days at Peking, one of my favourite all time history / war movies. I love everything about it from the story, to the scale, to the relatively accurate period colour. I'm not usually a Charlton Heston fan but in this instance I think he suited the role and alongside David Niven (who was magnificent IMHO) made the film quite watchable over and over, for me at least.

The sets from the film are one of the things that have always caught my eye and I'll be looking to try and recreate some of that flavour on the table when I start build the board. My intention is to build approximately 4-6 legations, plus a number of gardens, the canal, a large ornamental gate (thanks to Dave Docherty!) and plenty of other smaller items to add flavour. It will be a LOT of work and storage will be an issue but I've wanted to do this for some time and there's no point doing it by halves.

Over the last few weeks the lovely Mrs Millsy and my in-Laws have shelled out on some serious reading for my birthday this year to keep me fired up and interested. I've got both the Osprey Men-at-Arms Boxer Rebellion and Peking 1900 Campaign books in the post, along with an eBay find I have been after for some time...


Lastly there is some more serious reading for bedtime, a copy of The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China by David J. Silbey. I have read several good reviews about it and am very keen to get my head into it the minute it arrives...


So, plenty to keep me occupied for the next few weeks as I work out my requirements in terms of troops. They'll be predominantly from the Redoubt Miniatures Boxer Rebellion range which covers pretty much everything I require, although for some reason seems to lack personality figures despite these appearing in their other colonial ranges?!? Go figure...

Anyway, that's enough for starters...

Cheers,
Millsy


28 comments :

  1. I see you have the Wargames Illustrated '55 Minutes at Peking' in your sources. That was put on by my old club in the UK. Although before my time as a game at shows, I have played it as a cub game a couple of times and, more importantly, can put you in touch with some of the people who designed and built it.

    I'm not sure who has the original terrain. I know at one stage it was taking up serious space in someone's garage, but I don't know if subsequently its been sold.

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    1. Nice one Kaptain! Remind me to have a chat to you about this at CANCON.

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    2. A few notes, and some photos, of both versions of the game can be found on the Staines Wargamers page here:

      http://www.staineswargamers.org/swshowgames.html

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  2. You might be interested in this thread on the SOGG forum (soon to disappear) on the organising of a memorial game for Mike Seddon, the writer of the WI article on 55 minutes at Peking. it includes creating similar terrain.
    http://www.societyofgentlemengamers.org/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=10930&hilit=peking

    We also ran the game at our local Gauntlet show back in 2011 It was great fun
    http://willwarweb.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=peking+1900

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    1. Thanks Will! I've already seen both those threads and absorbed the wonderful scenery and much more. I've got loads of ideas for the legations alone from them.

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    2. As a former Staines Wargamer it's wonderful to see one of our games being used as a tribute to your friend.

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  3. This sounds absolutely superb Millsy, I am really looking forward to the and might even have to dust off my Tigermen in support!

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    1. Cheers Michael. I've looked at your Boxer material a number of times. I'm particularly taken by your artillery and Kansu Braves as well as your Tigermen. That artillery piece is the same one I intend to purchase.

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  4. I have that issue too and quite like the period and movie!

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    1. Thanks Fran. Both the period and the issue seem to be quite popular!

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  5. Great project Millsy! :)

    I'm fairly certain that one of the mags covered this in the last year or two. I'll check back through my collection to see which one.

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  6. Looking forward to watching this develop, and maybe coming up to enjoy a game with you one day too Millsy!

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    1. You're always more than welcome mate. With the number off miniatures involved we'll need loads of hands for a full sized game :-)

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  7. An excellent choice in films and as tabletop subject matter! Eager to see how things progress.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. Cheers Stokes. It's proving quite popular...

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  8. "Cor, more stirring deeds that won us the Empire!"Sounds like a brilliant new venture Gimpa Din!

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    1. Thanks Sander. Just what I needed, another GIMP variation!

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  9. Really neat plan for a project. Looking forward to seeing this project hit the paint table. Hmmm... just got an urge to watch a movie too.

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  10. Happy Birthday Millsy!

    Your new project has caused no end of excitement among the assembled multitude, and in typical Millsy fashion, it's ambitious enough to get me whispering in your ear, "Remember thou art mortal!" But if anyone can do this, you can!

    All the best, and many happy returns of the day!

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    1. Thanks Ev! Feeling particularly mortal today as the big five-oh creeps ever nearer...

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  11. Wow, I shall watch with interest!

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  12. Oh my .... so looking forward to seeing this come to life....

    And the book is on my bedside table too!

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  13. This is Classic, Millsy! Best wishes on this project.

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  14. This looks very fun! I look forward to seeing it all unfold.

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  15. I hope you enjoy my book, and good luck with the project. It sounds fascinating.

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    1. I *thoroughly* enjoyed your book thanks David! Just the right combination of factual info combined with a very readable prose. It's made me want to read more widely on the subject and I'm sure I'll be reading your work several more times over the coming years.

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