Thursday 31 July 2014

Cast off your shackles. And other garments. Revolting Britons part 1

The pointy stick-era figures hadn't been out for a while so last Wednesday we played through the C&C 'Boudica's Revolt' scenario using my 25mm toys and Hexon terrain.
Historically the leaders were: in the blue corner - Boudica; and in the red cloak - Gaius Suetonius Paulinus.
In our version John tried to bring the benefits of Rome to the fringes of the world while Tim C was determined to resist any such civilizing influences.  Well, he does live in Chesterfield.
 The field of battle.  A typical Roman deployment as against a load of hairy types.
 Some of the hairy Brits.
 The impressive Roman battle line.  Legionnaries, cavalry, Auxilia, er More Legionarries...
 The Brits had a load of chariots, nasty warriors and some lighter troops.
 Battle is joined - the Romans opened the batting with a cheeky thrust on the left.  I did remind John what usually happens to Romans in forests....
 The chariot drivers had clearly responded to the hot spell we're having....
 The Roman cavalry take on Boudica herself...
...but are soon repulsed!

More of this nonsense soon.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

RAF Band

Earlier this year I bought a big batch of 54mm figures - mostly Guards and other ceremonial types. A surprise find was this rather charming RAF band.  Do I need such a thing?  Of couse not - but when has that ever stopped me (or you for that matter!) buying stuff?  I love it!

Monday 28 July 2014

Fagot Filling*

Fear not - it isn't what you think.  But a sorry tale nonetheless.  This elderly Eastern Bloc relic** was recently purchased for £2.50*** as it seemed fitting that a low budget Soviet-era antique should be built from a low budget Soviet-era kit.  Fitting.  Now there's a word I'll not be using much during this post.
The instructions.  Such as they are.

Initial impressions weren't too bad - but hang on - look at the shape of the rudder.  While carving off the flash I think that more plastic went in the bin than stayed on the kit...
Parts required a degree of persuasion to stay together.

When the glue dried there were gaps you could fire a Sidewinder through.  So it was out with the filler.

Sanding off the excess filler.  Its a horrid kit but for an old MiG that somehow feels right!

* The NATO codename for the MiG-15 is of course 'FAGOT'.  For further such hilarity see also this earlier post.
** The logo on the box is 'KP'.
*** It may not sound a lot but £2.50 represents around 5% of the 1979 GDP of the People's Democratic Republic of Forbodia.

Saturday 26 July 2014

The Lynx effect - part 2

My FROG Lynx is now ready for action.  I opted for a pretty basic British colour scheme and used (some of) the markings supplied with the kit.
Given its age, it's not a bad old thing and is worth picking up at a suitably low price. Which is lucky - as I bought two....

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....

Tuesday 15 July 2014

1/48 T-72M - part 1

The acquisition of this kit heralds a degree of modernisation for the Forbodian Peoples' Army as part of my Little Cold Wars project, as so far their tankers have had to slum it in PT-76s and T-55s.  Sold - like many such kits - as a motorised 'remote control' model I wasn't expecting it to represent the last word in accuracy but it had the benefit of being rather cheap!  This ARII kit comes in a nice glossy box bearing a nice picture of a T-72.  So far so good...
The box also features a picture of the remote control - which I had no intention of using!
Motorised bits aside, the kit parts were modest in number and quite cleanly moulded with only a few areas of flash to be removed.  The rather basic wheels hint at the kit's 'toy' ambitions...
...and these are confirmed by the 'rubber band' tracks.

The kit went together quite easily, with only a few parts needing hacking about to fit.  In the next post I will reveal the completed model!

Monday 14 July 2014

Back from COW

I write this short update after a busy working day which was preceded by a weekend away at the annual gathering of Wargame Developments - the Conference of Wargamers.  This was in itself a busy but most enjoyable time and one which you will be reading more about over the coming days and weeks.  Whenever I have the time and energy to write things up!

I know that a number of places have already been booked for COW 2015 - which will take place on 10-12 July - so if you want to be there (and why wouldn't you?) then book soon!

More when I am properly awake....

Thursday 10 July 2014

Shocking Shilka!

The latest toy to enter the service of the Forbodian Peoples' Army is this bodged up ZSU-23/4 Shilka.
The hull started off as a dodgy plastic M-48 to which I added a layer of balsa.
The turret was carved from insulation foam.  The gun barrels are 1/72 aircraft undercart legs.  The same rummage in the spares box yielded the radar dish - the base of a stand for a 1/144 scale aircraft model.
Shilka with a T-55 - it looks about the right relative size.

Dodgy Shilka with dodgy Sgt. Yuk. A ghastly duo!