I remember reading a book when young entitled ‘The Dog that marched to Moscow’ by
Ernest A Gray (my daughter bought me a copy for Xmas 2012). Next came a UK Sunday
newspaper colour supplement which featured the new Russian film of War & Peace, which
then led me to see the film. I was becoming hooked on the Battle! I saw the film
in a Leeds cinema but then University followed.
In 1973 graduated and recently married, I bought Chris Duffy’s book on the battle
& campaign of 1812. My concept was soon resolved: I would build a diorama based
on the Fletches combat using 25mm plastic figures. I would anchor the figures by
inserting a shirt pin into a leg that would be embedded into a polystyrene type base.
I would try to produce individuals so where possible I would avoid producing x number
of identical figures (in particular the dead, dying & wounded). This would be achieved
by conversions from as many as necessary sources. I would generally cheat (a bit)
by having as a default most troops having foul weather shako covers, this making
converting easier. Exact historical detail was not sought, rather the feel and look.
Thus, horses were given canvas oat bags, soldiers water bottles: these would all
be in evidence at the actual event.
There were there then long stretches of time –children, working abroad, busy work
schedules – when no production has occurred. But the collection steadily increased!
The principles have remained as set in 1973. The main change has been the unexpected
upsurge in plastic soldiers available. When I started I had only a very limited
Airfix source: now there are hundreds of sets available.
In the early days there was a shortage of information but an early resource were
small ‘cards’ produced by Rene North: these were my source for Wurtemburg light
I now have about thirty books as against three at the end of 1970’s. The most detailed
book of the battle, published a couple of years ago, actually contradicted my earlier
source information regarding the Westphalian Corps – they went more south.
Also, through Militarily Modelling Magazine, Stephen Heap – one of their contributors
– kindly sent me originals he had produced of Russians. These are dated 1974