Sunday, 8 September 2019

Colours 2019 - Newbury & Reading Wargames Society

Yesterday Steve M kindly drove Vince and myself up to Newbury Racecourse for our annual 'boys beano' to Colours held each year by the Newbury and Reading Wargames Society, where during the day we also met up with other friends from the DWG, David, John and Mr Steve.

The show seemed quieter than last year, and this picture of the traders hall, taken mid afternoon, seems to emphasise that. That said, the traders I spoke to were doing brisk business and I know we enjoyed not being so cramped with the added space to wonder around and see stuff.

I really look forward to Colours as marking the first show after the holiday season, when the traffic on the roads is starting to ease and with a venue that is one of the nicer ones to visit; with easy access via the motorway, good parking and a nice open, airy grandstand conference centre, allowing the show to be set up on three floors of the grandstand.

The venue gives the traders plenty of room on the lower floor, whilst the demo and competition gamers get the pleasure of plenty of light streaming in through the windows of the grandstand viewing areas overlooking the course.

Colours 2013
Colours 2015
Colours 2016
Colours 2017
Colours 2018

As you can see I have reported on five previous shows here on JJ's with a gap when the organisers changed and the club took a break from putting the show on.

I went along yesterday, very much in a serendipitous mode, with no pre-orders and only a vague idea of products I might be interested in picking up, mainly around some terrain items and a few other sundry items.

However the plan changed when on arriving I discovered that Dave Thomas had managed to secure a stand at the show following a late cancellation and I was immediately thinking about the extra Perry AWI sculpts I was looking to add to my latest collection, recently featured here on the blog.

The new barn I picked up from Charlie Foxtrot Models for my AWI collection of terrain

So £70 lighter, my bag filled with Hessian Jagers, Iroquois Indians and British hat companies, I unleashed my inner wargamer on the show picking up some cows, pigs and chickens from Pendraken Miniatures and after a pleasant chat with Colin at Charlie Foxtrot Models, another barn and some tiling sheets to up-detail that and the other models I have purchased in recent months.

Following a quick lunch, sat outside overlooking the course, it was off to check out the games that grabbed my attention to share with you here on the blog.

So as always in no particular order and simply here because I decided they should be, my pick of the games from yesterday's show.

Friends of Rapid Fire - 20mm Normandy

World War II North West Europe is perhaps one of my top periods of military history that I take an interest in and I have spent several summer holidays in and around the Cherbourg Peninsular staying in a favourite little Norman farm just outside of St Mere Eglise.

Thus I was immediately drawn to a nice looking table and collection with a very good rendition of that famous church recreating the German counterattacks against the town as the daylight of the 6th June revealed the 82nd Airborne amid their positions close to Utah beach.

Terrain mats are all the rage these days and it just shows what can be achieved with a good amount of scatter terrain and well presented buildings to capture the look of this kind of battlefield.

Penarth & District Wargames Society - 40mm AWI Skirmish

The American War of Independence is front and centre in my own list of projects at the moment and so I was immediately drawn to the game put on by the chaps from Penarth with a nice looking 40mm set-to in the former colonies.

Again the terrain mat and scatter together with nicely turned out buildings makes an excellent backdrop to the figure collection and is achievable for most wagamers to put together for a club game as well as making a nice spectacle for a show.

South London Warlords - Dark Side of the Moon

I can't say science fiction is a theme that keeps me awake at night but I know a nicely turned out game when I see one, with plenty of passion for the subject, and the South London Warlords captured that in this, one of three games, that they put on at yesterday's show.

The moon base is immediately recognisable to those of us of a certain age as similar to the the one depicted in the British/Italian made TV series from the 1970's, 'Space 1999' and Mr Steve and I were trying hard to remember where we had seen the three space interceptors parked up close by with Steve reminding me later of the SHADO interceptors from Gerry Anderson's 'UFO', another UK TV series also from the same era - ah how the years slipped away!

Oh and guess what, another nice game with a suitably themed terrain mat.

Maidenhead Reapers - 28mm WWII Tanks

Another interestingly themed game from WWII North West Europe depicting the covert attack by Otto Skorzeney's Panzer Brigade 150, a German commando unit pulled together for the Ardennes Offensive using captured allied AFV's and disguised Panther tanks made to look similar to US M10 tank destroyers with the intent on slipping through US lines during the confusion created in the early days of the attack.

The unit was not particularly successful using its AFVs in the covert manner for which they were designed and soon reverted to fighting them in a more conventional manner as US forces became very much aware, quite quickly, as to what these rather odd looking allied vehicles were all about.

Grand Tactical Rules - Solferino

I have heard a certain group of podcasters in recent months waxing lyrically about the joys of wargaming in 6mm and other similar micro-scales, highlighting the resistance from a significant number of us in the hobby to engage with gaming at this small scale of figure.

As my wargaming friends can confirm, I played and collected in this scale for a number of years back in the eighties, particularly for moderns or 'Cold War' as we referred to it then, WWII and Napoleonics, thus I am very familiar with the reasons as to why this scale is well worth considering as an option.

Those considerations become more prominent with weaponry capable of firing over great distances and when looking to create that big battle game, however I have come to feel that as with most things in wargaming our games are usually a compromise and what we decide takes precedence in the games we want to produce; which is why I have moved my gaming up the scales rather than down with, for me, 15/18mm giving that compromise between ground scale that can represent a large battle and figures that are easily recognisable and with character.

Likewise in shorter weapon range, skirmish/small battle set ups I have a preference towards 28mm which takes the character of the figures to another level, particularly when creating that lower level narrative.

However I also understand that with the smaller scale, that really 'big-game' look takes on a whole different perspective and the best examples, like the following game, recognise that the terrain model becomes as equally, if not more, important than the figures upon it, and when you get a great rendition of both, the micro scale creates a wholly different kind, but no less remarkable, spectacle of a game to match the best in the more common larger scale games.

Well done to Bruce Weigle and his friends for putting on this excellent display and work to produce the rule set 1871 to moderate the play.


Loughton Strike Force & Dave Brown - Deutsch-Wagram 1809 in 15mm

This is not the first time I have lingered over a game produced by Dave Brown and the Loughton chaps as the period and scale ticks the boxes for me when it comes to Napoleonics and the games I have featured have a common theme of nicely turned out models and well presented terrain.

So much so I think I can let the pictures speak for themselves.

American Civil War, Battle of Anteitam - South London Warlords

Well I know the banner says Sharpsburg, but it all depends on whether you prefer the blue or the grey that will determine what you call this battle, and so for impartiality I will refer to both its names.

Not being in any corner on the name debate, as ACW is not a period that 'floats my boat', this rendition of the battle fought in Maryland in 1862 was very nicely turned out and reminded me that I am taking part in a game at the end of the month recreating the first day of Gettysburg using the new version of Fire & Fury in 15mm.

To the Strongest - Battle of Watling Street

Simon Miller always puts on a game that is guaranteed to make me stop and take time to enjoy and I pictured his Watling Street game earlier this year in my report on Salute in April.

At the time it was very difficult working the camera among the crowd around the table that was enjoying the spectacle as much as me, so it was nice to be able to have a bit more of a leisurely look this time around.

Simon's game and collection are a great inspiration and remind me that I have only about a third of the units to complete for my own Romano-Dacian collection which I hope will produce an equally impressive vista when they finally grace my table en masse.

Thanks to the Newbury & Reading Wargames Society for staging another fun day out at Colours and to Steve M, Vince, Mr Steve, John and David for their company and to the traders I got to chat to throughout the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and now have a few more toys to get stuck into which I am really looking forward to showing you once they're done.


  1. Beautiful games and a nice write up! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Kevin, my pleasure, glad you enjoyed the read.

  2. Colours is probably my favourite show of the year - as you say, the venue is great and very easily accessible. It was definitely quieter first thing so it was much more enjoyable checking out the ground floor traders.

    1. Well as you can see from the shows reported it is definitely one of our favourites.

      We all really enjoyed there being fewer enthusiasts, but I am aware that it is important that footfall is sufficient to make it a worthwhile day for the traders.

  3. Nice and fair report JJ.

    I too was taken with the "1871" game. The battlefield was beautifully modelled and the 6mm scale figures really give you the "big battle" feel on such a well made patchwork of fields. I think we tend to forget the difficulties line of sight and distance on the ground gave commanders in the age of the horse.


    1. Thanks Vince.

      Yes a truly stunning piece of modelling and it shows what can be done with the smaller scales.

      I don't think I will be modelling in 6mm anytime soon, not with my declining 'peepers', but the scale adds another dimension and type of game to the hobby so I hope we see more games like this in future.

  4. Great show overview. Shame I missed it this year.

    1. Thank you Jim, and I hope you can get along next year.


  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Jim, that's very much appreciated.


  6. Welcome home form your travels firstly.
    Great day out by the looks of things, Dave Brown & chums at Loughton Strike Force do stage some attractive games it must be said!
    Good luck with your various projects this autumn.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Jeremy,
      Thank you, we had a whale of time as you might have read.

      Dave Brown and the LSF are doing a great job at promoting Napoleonics, 15mm and putting together great games to look at, so I am always happy to do what I can to help by making sure his efforts get as much publicity here and we get more people playing Napoleonics.

      Thanks mate, I can't wait until Chez JJ is back to normal so I can get back to the usual painting routine.


  7. Stunning 'photos and some interesting thoughts on the show and the games.

    1. Thanks Steve, glad you enjoyed the read.