Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Cutting Edge!

Since the late 1970s I have used a Swann-Morton craft knife for much of my modelling and related bodging activities.  Other knives have come and gone but all - even the pair of madly expensive X-Acto knives I treated myself to some years ago have failed to supplant the trusty orange-handled wonders.
As it happens I now live in - well, near - Swann-Morton's home city. Sheffield, as many will know, is rightly famed for cutlery and high quality steels and Swann Morton's main business is surgical scalpel blades - while writing this I had a quick look at their website which is worth a look.
These days I tend to have two Swann-Morton knives  - as pictured above.  One with a newish blade (top) which gets used for slicing parts off sprue and detailed trimming.  The other has an older blade - covered in paint, glue, filler etc.  Eventually either the sharp blade breaks loses its tip at which point it becomes the scruffy knife an a new blade replaces it's filler-smeared chum.
Once in a while the handle breaks - caused I might add by my clumsiness rather than any fault of the material.  The fact that in 35+ years of use I have only written off three handles says it all!  This recently happened to my 'sharp' knife as above and so a trip to the model shop was called for!
Happily I was OK for blades - having some years ago stocked up with this box of 50 of my favourite curved No.2s.
 Marcway Models in Sheffield rose to the occasion - a new knife with two blades costs around £1.50.  I was planning to buy a few but my attention was drawn to...
 ...this new (to me anyway) brass handle for £3.  While this should be even more robust than the plastic version it will be interesting to see if it as comfortable to use.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The Lynx effect - part 1

In search of some cheap choppers for Little Cold Wars I chanced upon a pair of these FROG Lynx kits for a mere £3.99 each.  Although this is rather an old kit and clearly depicts a very early Lynx I took the plunge.  The only other Lynx I have ever built - aside from the 1/285 scale GHQ version - was the Airfix kit sometime in the late 1970s.  I recently noticed the TOW missile tubes from it in the spares box.
Anyway, back to the plot.  When a few weeks ago I finally cracked open one of the FROG kits I was fully expecting something pretty basic which might require a degree of filler and violence to assemble.
I needn't have worried.  Though showing it's age, the kit went together reasonable easily and swiftly built up into something that bears a reasonable resemblance to a Lynx.  Of course, that will all change when I paint it....

Friday, 18 July 2014

A Mighty Wind

AMW was this year's Plenary Game at COW.  Although this was my idea and design, the real blame must surely lie with others for failing to talk me out of it.
Someone always goes too far and brings a flag....
This game arose from a daft idea I had while reading Nemesis – Max Hastings’ 2007 book on the final year of WW2 in the Far East.  What might still have been a sensible game took a nose-dive into frivolity when I realised that this was the perfect opportunity to use the pair of 3-foot long plastic toy aircraft carriers gathering dust.  After I put together the initial er, ‘concept’ I enlisted Bob Cordery’s support in bringing along more ships. 
The immense invasion fleet
All well and good, but I wanted other vessels as well as flat-tops so one June weekend it was off to the garage with some of my stock of off cuts of insulation foam and  a sharpened knife.  Though the COW game was set in 1944 I had already decided to go for a slightly more 'modern' look so that the ships might have a future role supporting amphibious landings in Little Cold Wars games.  Emerging some time later with four lumps of foam vaguely shaped like ship hulls and a few bits of potential superstructure I used PVA to stick the bits together.  For armament I cobbled together some missile tubes and after laboriously carving a pair of turrets had the idea of rummaging in the spares box.  This yielded seven suitable(?) turrets and some missiles which were secured with more PVA prior to the fleet being daubed with grey emulsion paint.

Anyway, back to the game.  Should you find yourself with a need to entertain 40+ nutters for an hour or so, it goes something like this:

Umpire team sets out 'fleet' on lawn.

Appoint a Japanese CO.  Other Players work in pairs.

Brief the players thus: “It is 1944 and the Home Islands of the Empire are threatened by the godless enemy.  To defeat the invasion fleet a terrible new weapon has been devised!  The enemy will be scattered by waves of bomb-laden aircraft which will be deliberately crashed onto his ships.  I congratulate you for volunteering to die for your Emperor in this heroic way!”
Admiral Rapier (right) inspires his pilots
Phase 1. Ground Crew makes a headband for the pilot.  Pilot composes a haiku and writes it on a sheet of A4 paper. CO makes an attack plan.

Phase 2. Ground Crew build a plane (paper dart type thing) from the above mentioned sheet of A4. Pilots are briefed by CO.
A properly equipped player showing an appropriate level of dignity.
Phase 3. Ground Crew bid Pilots a tearful farewell (possibly including drink, bowing, flag waving etc). Pilots attack US fleet on the lawn.  Umpire Team reports ‘hits’.  If any.
Scary eh?
Phase 4. Gather up all 'planes to be kept by umpire team for selective inclusion in Nugget.
The virtually unscathed fleet sails on....
Phase 5. Pilots and Ground Crew swap roles, start again at phase 1

For the game at Knuston I was again very pleased by the level of enthusiasm the 40+ players brought to a pretty flimsy game outline.  Sadly their aircraft construction and piloting skills lagged some way behind.  The first strike yielded two hits, the second only one.  Maybe that’s why the concept never really caught on….

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

1/48 T-72M - part 2

Here is the completed T-72 as introduced in yesterday's post.  It builds into quite a decent model - especially if your gaze doesn't stray below the side skirts.
I sprayed it with my trusty Humbrol Grass Green, then lightly oversprayed with a different green, grey and sand.
Given the basic 'toy' nature of the kit, some of the detail is really rather good.  I especially like the rough texture of the turret casting.
The Forbodian Peoples' Army has yet to deploy it's new acquisition and rumours that they await the delivery of several more T-72 cannot be verified at this time....