The War of the Pacific – 1879 to 1883 – Naval Matters

So I was researching some ships last night to make up the fleets of what now is becoming my South American Project. I looked at some of the 1/1200th and 1/1000th available, Houston’s Ships again amongst others. However, I thought I’d go small as there is not so much space available here. I settled on getting some 1/2400th scale ships off Tumbling Dice UK. Twenty minutes on-line research at that wonderful mine of misinformation, Wikipedia, and I had enough information on the two fleets to spend another 20 minutes at the Tumbling Dice website. An order for the following has gone off:

Quantity Code Description No of Vessels Price
1 ASV61 Hauscar & Independencia 2 £2.00
1 ASV62 Aimirante Cochrane 2 £2.00
3 ASV15 Corvette Screw 6 £6.00
1 ASV11 Sloop Screw 2 £2.00
1 ASV13 Gun Boat Screw 3 £2.00
1 ASV51 USS Monitor 3 £2.00

The USS Monitor is to provide a couple of single turret monitors for the Peruvians. In fact, Peru had purchased two Canonicus-class monitors from the United States just after the American Civil War and these were used as coastal monitors. The Monitor is just going to have to serve the role as it was the only single turret monitor in the range.

Mind you, whilst I was in an ordering mood, I also ordered a pack of the Los Andes and a pack of the Javery, just to see what’s in them.

1/600th Scale Samples

I mentioned a while ago that I had ordered a sample pack of the Oddzial Osmy 1/600 tanks from Pico to see what they were like. Below is the contents of the Yom Kippur Sample Pack.

yom_kippur_set The first thing to note is that the grid is a 1cm x 1cm grid. The pack contained three each of Centurion, M113, M109, T-55, BTR-50, M-30 122mm howitzer and three infantry strips.

I should point out the service from Pico Armour was very good with the figures returned very quickly. I’ll just cover a couple of the vehicles that were included.

centurion The Centurion really looks the business, showing the big blocky appearance of the Centurion. I should note too that these are photographed as they came from the pack. There has been no cleanup of the figures either – these are photographed warts (or should I say “flash”) and all.

t55 To the right is the T-55, again, looking like a T-55.

I must admit now that had I not made such an investment in 6mm figures and vehicles over the last year or two, I would seriously consider using these vehicles. I know that this is the same argument I used with 1/6000 ships vs 1/3000 ships but it is the case. I’ll leave you with a close up of some of the infantry.


Figure Tart

I am. I’m always looking for something new. It’s not enough that the current painting and project queue consists of 15mm DBA Ancients, 1/6000 World War 1 ships, 1/3000 World War 1 and 2 ships, 1/1200 scale Aeronefs, 2mm Land Ironclads, 1/300 scale Napoleonic and Ancients (and lots of the Napoleonic’s I might add), a nominal 1/3000 scale space fleet and 6mm World War 2 and Future War Commander armies but I need to look for more.

What did I do?

I ordered a sample pack of the Oddzial Osmy 1/600th scale (that’d be 3mm) figures. Given the stellar performance of the Aussie dollar at the moment, the sample pack of these figures only cost me Aussie $10, including postage from the US. So, I order the Yom Kippur War sample pack from of Illinois, USA. The pack contents includes:

  • 3 Centurion
  • 3 M113
  • 3 M109
  • 3 T-55
  • 3 BTR-50
  • 3 Polish M-30 howitzer
  • and 3 Infantry

It’ll be fun to paint these up and test out the basing of these vehicles and figures. If, as I expect, these vehicles and figures work out as well as I think they will, then the creative juices will be flowing and I’ll think about adding another project to the list – perhaps something around the Middle East – or perhaps a mini collection.

First – let’s get the figures and have a look at them. Then let’s worry about the project queue.

Tribal Mongol Figures

In this post I am doing a quick survey of 15mm figures available to do the Tribal Mongols. Recall that the first six armies I will need to build for this project are:

  • Tribal Mongolian – two of these armies
  • Uigher
  • Sha-t’o Turkish
  • Khitan-Liao
  • Hsi-Hsia

I considered scales, includig 6mm and 10/12mm but settled on 15mm as the scale of choice for this. Perhaps I’ll mention something about other scale figures in a later post – but don’t hold your breath 😆

As I also mentioned before, the content of the lists for the armies were:

  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (the khan and his bodyguard)
  • 11 x 2 Light Horse – the tribe – 11 bases of them

This for forces prior to the 13th Century. For later forces, those in the early part of the 13th Century I’ll use:

  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (the khan and his bodyguard – maybe wearing armour this time on armoured ponies)
  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (some armoured supporters, wealthier or more successful members of the tribe)
  • 10 x 2 Light Horse  – the rest of the tribe – 10 bases of them.

So I will be therefore looking for the following figures for each of the first two armies:

  • 22 Light Horse figures – probably shooting bows
  • 6 Cavalry figures – more armoured type Mongols, maybe with some horse armour. One will need to be the Great Khan and one a standard bearer

The camp will be based around a ger and some baggage or tethered animals with an element of camp followers provided too – these likely to be women and/or children and range from 2 to 4 figures.

So, what figures are available?


The big question here is which figures to use to make up the Mongol armies. As I am building in 15mm, I will concentrate on that scale only. I should also note that as I am building two armies, I will use two manufacturers of figures. I am therefore examining figures for Tribal Mongol (or DBA Ready Made Army packs).

Essex Minatures

Essex Miniatures make a line of Mongols and also provide a DBA Army pack. The Mongol figure range includes:

Generals & Bodyguards, Armoured cavalry armed with lance and bow, unarmoured cavalry armed with land and bow as well as horse archers. There are also equivalent troops mounted on camels as well as dismounted.

As I recall from Iggulden’s novels, the Mongols did not adopt armour until after some exposure to it from the Chinese. If using Essex I will concentrate on using unarmoured and horse archer figures. Essex also make an ready made DBA Army pack that covers the Tribal Mongol armies from 840 to about 1218 CE. It’s cost is £15.40.

Donnington Miniatures

Donnington Miniatures also make a range of Mongols in their original range, including mounted and dismounted figures. This also includes baggage carried by Bactrian camel. The unarmoured figures themselves appear wearing that very distinctive fur-lined hat of the Mongols. The range includes mounted and dismounted figures, armoured and unarmoured.

Donnington also provides a DBA Army pack for this army, consisting of 56 figures. This is also for the correct time period and currently costs £14.00.

Museum Miniatures

Apart from having arguably the absolute worst website for a wargamer to deal with, Museum Miniatures also have a range of 15mm Mongols. The range includes both mounted and dismounted figures with the figures ranging from armoured men on armoured horses to unarmoured troops. The hats worn by these Mongols have a certain Hun-like appearance about them but will work OK for the Mongols.

Interestingly Museum does not offer a DBA Army pack for the Tribal Mongols, even though they do offer a Uigher army pack.

Legio Heroica

Legio Heroica is an Italian producer of wargames figures. They make an exquisite range of Mongols but these are for the Later Mongol Empire army. I shall return to these when I get to that stage of the project.

15mm.CO.UK offer a range of Mongols as well. As with the other manufacturers there are mounted and dismounted figures which are armoured and unarmoured. This also provide camel mounted troops and baggage. The figures are similar in appearance to the offerings of Museum Miniatures.

The figures in the range are in a range called ISARUS and were formally the Alternate Armies and/or Tabletop figures.

They do not offer a DBA Army pack

Naismith Design

Naismith Design figures are produced and sold by Navwar from the UK. They have a rather primitive mail order service (you need to telephone, fax or send them a letter) but their mail order service and turnaround is superb.

Naismith have a series of nice figures, including Mongol Light Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry, Command and some camel mounted figures to boot. These are in their Samurai and Far Eastern range. They also have figures for others of the eastern nationalities.

There are some great painted examples of the Naismith figures on the “An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields” website.

Falcon Figures

Falcon Figures make a larger range of Mongols as well as many of the figures that will be needed later, including, for example, the Koreans.

Alain Touiller Figurines

Alain Touller Figurines from France offer a good range of Mongols as well, although I believe that they sometimes can be slow to supply. They also seem to do a range of Koreans which may be useful later in the project.

Black Hat Miniatures

Black Hat Miniatures offer a range of general Asiatic types the nomad ones of which would appear to pass for Mongols although there are no specific Mongol figures.

Lancashire Games

Lancashire Games also offer a range of 15mm Mongols, including Light Cavalry Firing Bow, Light Cavalry Charging with Bow, Heavy Cavalry, Extra Heavy Cavalry, Dismounted Light Cavalry and Light Cavalry with Spear. The dismounted figure would work for the camp follower and the Extra Heavy Cavalry for the later Mongols. Missing are the command figures.

Old Glory 15s

Old Glory 15s offer a range of 15mm Mongols as well. It is difficult to see how accurate they appear to be from the website photos but they look like they would pass as Mongols.

Outpost Wargames Services

Outpost Wargames Services have some suitable figures included under the range of Jurchen. These can be found under the Ching/Manchu Dynasty range. There is a limited number of figures that can be used for Mongols as the Jurchen became the Manchu and they eventually overthrew the Mongol Yuan court – subjugating the Mongol homelands first. There are many interesting old folk tales spoken by older Mongols about the Manchu even today still.

Pass of the North

Pass of the North have some Mongols at the masters stage – heavy cavalry and light cavalry. They are really nice figures and look just about perfect. However, I am not sure whether these are in production yet or not. I have written to Pass of the North to inquire and will update here later.

As I mentioned above, I contacted Jeff Caruso, the principal behing Pass of the North and he sent me this reply:

Unfortunately, I’m not able to manufacture now (anymore?) I apologize for the confusion of the website. I stopped it two years ago but the host has left it up since it generates hits, a lot more it appears than many of his other clients. I suppose if I could get my casting machine to work, I’d go cast regardless of the impact on me, but I can’t get down on the floor to work on it. Boo hoo.

Thanks for your kind remarks on the appearance of the Mongols as I’ve had a fascination of Genghis Khan for many years. The sculptor will be honored too.

It is a shame that as apart from his Mongols which were really very nice, many of his Ancient German figures in particular were just bloody marvellous.

Viking Forge

Viking Forge have a range of 15mm Mongolian figures although looking at the images on the website I think these would work better as a later Mongol warrior – more like the Mongol Empire time.


There are plenty of 15mm Mongols out there. I am thinking that I will likely build the two Mongol forces from the figures in the Essex, Pass of the North and Naismith. When I come to make the Mongol Empire forces I will look at some of the other ranges. I will start to consider some of the other armies in later posts but for now, that wonderful wargaming task – the planning sessions – will continue.

Tribal Mongol

As part of the Mongol Conquest Campaign that I outlined here the other day, the next step in the planning is based around two areas – some background information on the armies as well as looking at the available figures for each of them. As I mentioned, I am building this little collection based around Conn Iggulden’s books as a start, with a bit of history tossed in for more flavour.

Remember that I had decided to do this in 15mm and set for the De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) rule system. For the first chapter of this project, I will need to look at the basic armies of:

  • Tribal Mongolian – and I will need two of these to represent the Mongols and some of their earlier opponents
  • Uigher and other Central Asian Turkish tribes
  • Sha-t’o Turkish
  • Khitan-Liao
  • Hsi-Hsia

I am loosely following Iggulden’s books and these were written based on the content of the Secret History of the Mongols. This is still the main source for information of the Mongols of this period. I’ll build a bibliography later, as well as some book reviews but note that copies of the Secret History are expensive.

DSC01365As readers of Thomo’s Hole will realise too, I spent some time working in Mongolia and I will freely admit that was one of the happiest times of my life. The people are, mostly, really very nice and the countryside is just gorgeous. It was also good to have travelled parts of the Mongolian countryside as well as Kazakhstan and northern China to get a feel for the country in that part of the world. The picture to the left is the steppes in the east of Mongolia. That is the main road in that area as well that you can see. I’ll cover the terrain of Mongolia in a later article.

The Mongols are a collection of tribes inhabiting the area to the north of China and up into Siberia. The wargame list for this presented in the DBA rules however covers not just the Mongols but also the Tatars, Naiman, Merkit (all mentioned in Iggulden’s books), Onggud and Kereyit.

The list of troops to make this army in DBA is:

  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (the khan and his bodyguard)
  • 11 x 2 Light Horse – the tribe – 11 bases of them

This will provide the basis of the early forces. With all that light horse, it is a fairly one dimensional force but it’s early opponents were similarly one-dimensional. For later forces, those in the early part of the 13th Century I’ll use:

  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (the khan and his bodyguard – maybe wearing armour this time on armoured ponies)
  • 1 x 3 Cavalry (some armoured supporters, wealthier or more successful members of the tribe)
  • 10 x 2 Light Horse  – the rest of the tribe – 10 bases of them.

At least now there is the start of a second dimension.

For both these forces the camp will consist of a base with a Ger (yurt) and a camp follower element of some women and children ((Women were by and large hardy and tough and also had a vested interest in protecting the camp especially as this was a nomadic society and and without permanent settlements – to lose your protection in winter was to die on steppes where the temperature could fall as low as –50 degrees Celsius)) – if I can find some suitable figures dressed in deel ((this is the Mongolian traditional dress and is similar for both men and women)).

The next step in the Mongol part of this is to indentify some suitable figures which I will do in a separate post. I will also start to look at the other armies for this chapter of the project.

A New Ancient Project

It’s been a few months since I outlined my next wargaming project, to be added to the pile of other projects either planned or underway but not yet completed. Time for an ancient one.

This came about as a result of the three for two sale from Essex Miniatures. I’d bought Hungarians, Poles and Serbs. It felt so good handling 15mm lead again that I thought I should look at something a little Ancient. Having been reading Conn Iggulden’s Mongol series of books recently and noting that the fourth book in the tale of the Mongols has just been released, it felt good to consider a Mongol theme.

The DBA rules have a Mongol campaign in them with the armies being Hungarian, Mongol, Pole, Russian, Chinese and Khwarizm. There is also an eastern based campaign set around the Asian opponents of Kublai Khan (Korea, Sung Chinese, Japan, Vietnam and Burma).

I wanted to start it a little earlier however, starting with the Mongols coalescing into a unified state, to deal with the various tribes first then sort off on worldwide domination. To that end I am looking at a campaign (or at least a series of armies) consisting of:

  • III/44 Tribal Mongolian – two of these armies will be required as the early on the Mongols were fighting each other
  • III/11ab – these are the Uigher and other Central Asian Turkish tribes – one of the early opponents
  • III/42b Sha-t’o Turkish
  • III/15 Khitan-Liao
  • III/66 Hsi-Hsia

These would do for starters. I know that I could easily add the Tang and Sung Chinese into this group, especially as they are dealt with in the first three books of Iggulden’s novels but I think they will keep nicely for a link set.

A second stage would have a smaller campaign consisting of the following:

  • III/44 Tribal Mongolian – only one of these required now as the Mongols are more unified now
  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/14ab Jurchen-Chin
  • IV/15 Qara-Khitan
  • IV/35 Mongol Conquest – this is what the Tribal Mongol eventually became

The third stage would be to adopt from the rules the Mongol Terror campaign, consisting of:

  • III/67b Early Hungarian
  • III/62b Early Polish
  • III/78 Early Russian
  • IV/35 Mongol Conquest
  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/24 Kwarizmian

Lastly the Kublai Khan stage where the armies involved would be:

  • III/61 Sung Chinese
  • IV/48 Yuan Chinese (the Mongol Empire in China)
  • III/56 Koryo Dynasty Korean
  • III/54 Early Samurai
  • III/59 Medieval Vietnamese
  • III/9b Burmese

I realise that I could then add in the period of the various Hordes traipsing across Asia in particular but they will need to wait for a later project.

In the meantime, there are 16 DBA Armies listed above – that will keep this as a running project for some time. The next stage in planning this will be identifying figures, starting with the Early Mongol period.

New Toys – 15mm DBA Armies

Essex in the UK had a sale recently. They were offering three 15mm DBA Armies for the price of two. Given the Aussie dollar’s stellar performance against the pound sterling it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I purchased.

I was looking for something fairly late and recognisable. I ended up settling on army IV/66 Later Polish (1335-1510 CE). This seemed like an interesting mix of elements and troop types – knights, war wagons foot and such. It also reminded me of my trips to Warsaw, Lodz and other places when I worked in Europe – loved the Poles.

The second army that arrived was army IV/22 Serbian Empire (1180-1459 CE). At this stage the Serbs were an ally of the Poles and so would make a nice addition to the collection when the chance for a big battle DBA rolled up. They were a similar but distinct mix of troops that would sit well with the Poles.

The third army was IV/43c Later Hungarian (1397-1526 CE). The Later Hungarians were near enough to the Poles and the Serbs to both be complementary whilst looking different as well as being a nice army in their own right.

After all the painting I have been doing recently on 6mm, 2mm, 1/1200, 1/2400 and 1/3000th scale figures and vessels, I am quite looking forward to painting these guys up. I’ll put up more information about these as I get it together.

Rapier Parthians


The first of my 6mm ancient figures turned up during the week. These were the result of Macro and Cato causing grief on me and are the Parthians. They were one of the enemies faced by our indomitable heroes when Macro gets his wish and a transfer to Syria. Goodness knows what I’ll do about the Romans of the time, as well as the Judeans and the Ancient Britons (and maybe the odd German tribe or two as well).

I thought for these I would order Rapier Miniatures. I have not seen them before but allowing for the fact that they had a reasonable price for 1000 points of Warmaster Army, I ordered. It took about one month from when I ordered until the figures arrived so not as quick as the response I am used to from Heroics and Ros or Baccus but up to the same standard, time-wise, as Adler Miniatures. Of course, the really good thing is that the figures turned up.

Looking at the figures specifically, there are cataphracts (of course) as well as light horse archers, some foot bowmen, and command figures. There are, in fact, enough figures for 2 units of foot bows, 6 of horse archers and 4 of cataphracts as well as one general.


Starting with perhaps the least interesting part of the Parthians, we have the foot figures. As you can see from then picture, these are just basic archers. The figures appear to be a little light on detail, even allowing for the 6mm size however I am sure that they will paint up to look the part. As can be seen from the pictures as well, the foot figures are about 7mm to 8mm tall (the boxes are 10mm squares). These figures are photographed straight from the box (or rather the plastic bag and bubble-wrap).


To the left is the horse archer. There are enough supplied to make up 6 units of these running around the table. Again, a fairly basic figure and all the figures in the box are the same pose. This is perhaps the biggest negative with the Rapier Miniatures, the fact that everything is in the same pose. That said, the figures look like they will paint well and look the part when on the table.


The main punch in the Parthians is provided by the cataphracts. The Rapier cataphracts as with the other Rapier figures are in a single pose but do look good – armoured horse and rider, cape, kontos levelled and ready to close with the enemy. There are 72 cataphract figures in total and when 12 of the command figures are added to these there are sufficient cataphracts for 4 units of 21 figures … or 7 figures per 40x20mm warmaster base.

I am still debating whether to base these as 20×40 bases or 40×20. If the former, then there would be 7 figures on each base, in three ranks, with one figure in the first rank and three in the second and third ranks. It should be noted that these figures will fill the base and look very closed up. The other option of 40×20 bases would see the 7 figures based in a single rank – again filling the base.


The Parthian command group consists of a general type figure, a trumpeter and a figure carrying a standard. In the Rapier Warmaster 1000 point army pack, there are 4 standard bearers, 4 trumpeters and 5 generals. The standard bearers, trumpeters and four of the generals go with the cataphracts to build those units. The remaining general goes on the circular base to make the general for the army.

All in all I am quite pleased with these figures. The look a little larger than Heroics and Ros figures but a little smaller than Baccus. I’ll do a size comparison later.

6mm Ancients – Step One

Well, really step 1.5. I decided to spend some of my PayPal balance today and ordered some figures from Rapier Miniatures. In the spirit of Macro and Cato I ended up ordering the Warmaster Ancient Parthian Army. This is 1000 points worth of Parthians and consists of 4 units of Cataphracts, 6 of Horse Archers and 2 of Skirmishers plus a general. The reason for selecting this was that it was the cheapest of the army packs on offer and therefore gives me a good way to have a look at these figures and see how they look when painted up without spending a lot of money. This is because I have not seen the Rapier Miniatures before.

I should also mention that the other reason for selecting the Parthians is that they will not take too long to paint. I they look good, then I’ll get some more, if not, eBay!

The other thing I am looking forward to is comparing them size wise with two of the three other 6mm Ancient figure manufacturers, Baccus and Heroics and Ros, to see which is the closest match to them. I’m not bothering to compare them against the 6mm figures made by Irregular Miniatures as I have seen them before and I am not really impressed with them.

So, when they turn up I shall post my opinions of them here.,

RJW and Pendraken Search Results

Over the last couple of days I had another couple of search results from within Thomo’s Hole that were unsuccessful. However, both of these should have returned something, especially from a wargamers blog. The two search terms were:

  • “pendraken miniatures” which was searched twice
  • “rjw miniatures” which was searched yesterday

Let’s take the second search first. It tells me someone was searching Thomo’s Hole for information about the Russian Japanese War, especially, I would guess, from the point of view of a wargamer and looking for figures to represent the troops in that war. The only thing not specified is whether or not the searcher was looking for miniatures or vessels and in what scale.

This leads nicely into the other search term, “pendraken miniatures”. Pendraken is an English manufacturer of wargame figures, principally in 10mm scale. More on that shortly but if you are hunting for them, they have a very good mail order service and their website is at Pendraken Miniatures.

RJW Ships

There are a few manufacturers of ships used for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. The three most common scales for this are 1/6000th, 1/3000th and 1/1200th (there are also some vessels in 1/2400th but I am not so familiar with those.


Figurehead/Hallmark are a range of 1/6000th vessels with all the vessels necessary to refight the Battle of Tsushima. They can be purchased from Magister Militum in the UK or from Strange Cargo Games in the US


Navwar do a range of the vessels needed for the Russian Japanese War in 1/3000th scale. They have a Battle of Tsushima pack which contains the surface vessels for this battle. Also look under “Naval Vessels” under 1:3000 scale on their website for individual vessels. Note that they do not have online ordering – but telephone and send a fax, they are very efficient servicing mail orders.

War Times Journal (WTJ) do the best 1/3000th ships I have ever seen and cover this conflict very well. Again, Jim is a gentleman to deal with and his mail order is efficient and reliable. See his WTJ Game Store 1 for details. He also has painting guides in there.


Viking Forge have a range of pre-dreadnought vessels suitable for Russian Japanese War battles in their range. I’ve not seen any personally but indications from the pictures on the website indicate that they are quite reasonable castings.


Alnavco have some vessels available, especially for the Japanese, in 1/1250th scale in the Navis Range – see the link to the sidebar of the Alnavco website for World War I vessels. These are expensive though, I must admit.

Houstons Ships were, for many years, the only vessels available and their scale is a little, shall we say, elastic. It is generally around 1/1000th scale and Great Endeavours sells the Houston Ships line.

RJW Miniatures

There are a few manufacturers are figures suitable for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. These vary in scale size from 2mm up to 28mm and are discussed by section below.


Irregular Miniatures – – select 2mm from the bottom of the screen. Whilst there is no specific Russian Japanese War range, it is possible with this diminutive figures to build both armies fairly completely and quickly using a mix of the Horse and Musket Infantry and Cavalry blocks mixed in with some of the 20th century artillery. Their Mail Order is simply superb as well – one of the best firms I have dealt with.


Pendraken – – basic figures – Russian Infantry and Artillery, Japanese Infantry, Artillery and Hotchkiss Machineguns.


Irregular Miniatures – – select 15mm from the bottom of the screen then look for Riussian Japanese War – a fairly extensive range of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and such, including figures from other ranges that are suitable. Note also that Irregular provides the figures for both Russian and Japanese forces circa 1880. They also offer army deals for a discount on some figures purchases. I can unreservedly recommend their mail order service – it is just brilliant.


Spencer Smith miniatures offers a range of figures for this conflict manufactured by Jacklex Figures – see the Spencer Smith website for information. This is a range of Infantry and Cavalry for both the Japanese and the Russians.

OK, so there is a roundup of some of the figures and vessels for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. My favourites, amongst that lot, are really the ships from WTJ – they are quite the best I have ever seen, even though I own a large collection of Navwar vessels.

I’ve not gamed any part of the RJW land battles (Mukden etc) so can’t really comment much on what is available as far as figures go. I hope this helps as a good starter however.