Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Nearby we found the castle of Haut Kœnigsbourg, and at last my mission could begin. The Admiralty, worried at the amazing talent and Teutonic efficiency on display at Lead Adventure, had ordered me to investigate this worrying trend. We could not be allowed to lag behind in this field, so I was ordered to steal their secrets...

I had managed to trace German achievements in figure painting back to the 1890s, when Kaiser Wilhelm, alarmed at the wargaming experiments of H.G. Wells, and worried that the British Empire had a far bigger force of painted toy soldiers, founded the Schnellminiaturmalereiinstitut (or something, my German is frankly abysmal).

Here, at Haut Kœnigsbourg the Institute began its top secret work.

Thanks to the centuries-long game of Pass-the-Parcel that Germany and France have been playing with Alsace and Lorraine, this formerly German (and briefly Swedish) castle now finds itself once again firmly in France. Thus I could gain entry and search to see if the Germans had left any clues to their new quick-painting technology when they hastily left in 1918.

So in we crept...

A-ha, some evidence of painting on the walls. This looked promising...

We continued inwards, up the spiral staircase.

More wall paintings, Arthurian by the looks of things. What terrible research. They didn't have armour like that in Dark Age Britain!

Now that's a big barrel. Grand idea. Painting figures is thirsty work.

Just past this we found some remnants of the institute, that the fleeing Germans had left behind...

Now I've never really been a fan of NMM, but you've got to admit, that is good painting. Very realistic.

Well, the painting is okay, but I don't really care for flats.

An early Citadel dragon on a flying base dating back to 1903, when White Dwarf was still just about worth reading.

Who makes these? I want one, it's cute.

An early rough sketch from the abortive Hide and Seek Miniatures Game rulebook.

Notice that scale creep is not a modern phenomenon. These chaps are listed as 10mm in the catalogue.

A rather large collection of spikey things.

I wondered what they were for a while, but it seems they were for clearing all the flash, mould lines and other shit from the figures Foundry started selling after they "went bad."

It's old Kaiser Bill, founder of the institute. Hundreds of these convincing, life-size cut-outs were scattered all over Germany to confound would-be assassins.

Urk. I hate painting spoked wheels. I always notice loads of bits I've missed once I think I've finished and have washed my brush.

Another gun, identical to the one above, except that it has some noisy German schoolchildren behind it.

Plynkes, beginning to regret agreeing to the whole "shoot me out of a cannon" thing, and wondering how he's going to fit.

"Haut Kœnigsbourg commands striking views of the surrounding Vosges Mountains..."

Oh really?

...I can't even see the bloody far end of the castle, let alone any stupid mountains.

I want my money back. Where's my view?

Besides, my investigation had found little of use here, save for a forwarding address left by the Germans in 1918. The Institute had moved to a castle in Germany. So we would have to cross the border to continue the mission.

Bloody typical, just as we were leaving, the cloud began to lift. I think they've got a weather machine set on "fog", so that you can't take any decent photos and are forced to buy postcards. Which is what I did. Here's what the castle looks like on a sunny day if you happen to have a helicopter:

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