Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year Message

As 2012 draws to a close I shall once again briefly review 2012 and look forward to 2013. 
My 54mm Field Surgeon, Dr. Doosweet B.A. prepares to down his New Year tipple.
You may wish to look back at the appropriate post from this time last year.  The blog continues to feature prominently in my wargaming life, and I was pleased to see that I managed 299 posts in 2012 (nine more than in 2011!).  I shall continue to aim for about four a week.
A load of angry Russians near Kharkov.  20mm toys.
Megablitz: I wanted to run at least one large game in 2012.  This took the form of the very successful 20-player Krisis at Kharkov game played at Shrivenham in June.  As well as a number of veterans I was pleased to see some 'new' players at this event.  Some of whom are still speaking to me.  Not many new toys have joined the collection in 2012, though as I type this the varnish is drying on a small batch of Soviet vehicles.
I intend to run a game in Sheffield in 2013, with more possibly to follow.  As usual, any announcements will be made here and on the Megablitz Yahoo group.
Pakistani M48 and M47 tanks.  1/285 scale toys.
NATO Brigade Commander:  A quiet year in the NBC front, although we did re-run the Khafji and Assal Uttar scenarios and Martin put together the WW2 game now known to history as 'Von Gow's Express'.   A few new (mostly WW2) toys have been added and I do have a couple of scenarios planned for the WW2 and postwar periods.
Naval gunners man a classic Britains 4.7inch gun.  54mm toys.
Funny Little Wars: Last year I had largely completed the Forbodian Army and was planning to make progress on either a French style force or a Naval Brigade.  The Naval Brigade is mostly complete - and even includes a pair of gunboats, while the other project underway is the Tratvian (think Russian) Army.  In addition to a number of FLW games at the Sheffield Club I was most fortunate to play a game with FLW author PW in his garden during one of the few days of the British 'Summer'.  In March.  The heady blend of sunshine, cake, gaudy toy soldiers and splendid company made this one of the highlights of the year for me.
In 2013 I intend finishing the Tratvians and the other outstanding odds and ends for the other two forces, and possibly to start on yet another army.  I know I shouldn't but.......
The popularity of FLW at the Sheffield club (where four of us have armies) suggests the possibility of more local games - though (as the rain bounces off my windows) I suspect they'll be mostly indoors!
A damn handsome chap wearing a fez
Op14: I was about to type "Relatively quiet on the Western Front and not much noisier in the East."  Loooking back at my posts, however, indicates that we played six Op14 games during 2012!  Our most recent outing was to Gaza (giving me the opportunity to 'Fez up') and we have a few more such games planned.

Command & Colours (Napoleonics): We played a few games of this with my 15mm toys.  One more scenarios are available (or I can be bothered to write some...) the pace might pick up a bit.

Classical Warfare (CCA): My 25mm chaps had several outings and increased greatly in number during the year.  Hell, I even painted some.  I expect many more such games during the coming year.
A French (Vichy) cruiser having a bad day.  1/1200 scale model.
Fletcher Pratt Naval Wargame: A rather tentative experiment when unleashed on the members of the Sheffield Club in late 2011, this now has a modest following and there are usually plenty of volunteers for a game.  The 'Harbour Raid' game in October went particularly well, and the year has seen ships of four navies in action on the parquet floor.  A huge expansion of my fleet was reported in April, and since then a modest number of other vessels have been 'commisioned'.  Expect more nautical nonsense during 2013.

Wargame Events: Along with other members of Wargame Developments, I attended Triples and The Other Partizan with our popular Rollbahn Ost game.  It was particularly nice to meet a couple of my blog commentators at shows. Other notable events include the Memphis Mangler game at Shivenham.
In 2013 I'll be involved in running WD's Ten Rounds Rapid game at Triples and both Partizans.  A special event this year will be the Little Wars Centenary.  This will include great deal of toy soldiering and more besides.  Information via the FLW Yahoo Group.

As always, I hope to meet many you during the coming year.

It remains only for me to hope that 2013 is all you wish it to be.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Guns of Toblerone

At Sheffield Wargames Society's games day on 28 December, I ran a slightly silly game which rendered the great public service of keeping ten wargamers off the streets and away from polite society for a couple of hours.
The Guns of Toblerone was originally presented by Ian Drury at the Wargame Developments Conference of Wargamers in 2005 and took the form of a sort of role-playing game in the style of a 1970s war movie.  Was it based on any particular film(s)?  Well, you must decide for yourselves.  I shall say only that in addition to the crack team of stereotypes (dropped by parachute from a captured Ju-52 dressed as Germans), the game also featured Greek partisans, coastal gun batteries, cable cars and of course some very postwar vehicles disguised with very large black crosses. 
I had made a few minor tweaks to Ian's original version of the the game and written parts for additional players.
Above - the island of Toblerone.  The big-budget terrain was drawn and written on A4 sheets of thin card.  And yes - there are three Airfix coastal defence forts present! 
 The cast aboard their Ju-52 for the outbound flight.
The cast were as follows:
Martin R as Major Smith - a ruthless British spy
Steve R as Captain Jim Ryan - a US Army Ranger
Lloyd P as Lt. Myles Fitzbohun of the Welsh Guards - lending tone to the proceedings
Mark H as George Psychoundakis - a Greek Army officer attached to Special Operations
John A as Sgt. Jock McTavish - a hard drinking Glaswegian demolitions expert
Steve T as Cpl. Johnny Walker - the inevitable (and frankly irritating) irrepressible Cockney
Paul L as Cpl Andy Morant of 2/4 Australian Regt - hanging his bush hat where it's not wanted
Kayte H as Heidi Van Rentle - glamorous female secret agent
Paul B as L.Cpl. Frant Paget - an obnoxious and outspoken Yorkshireman
Dave R as Caporal Jean-Pierre Le Croix of the French Legion Etranger - musclebound continental glamour (but scarce a word of English...)

 Steve T and Martin R wearing appropriate silly hats.
Another view of the three Airfix Coastal Defence forts.
After landing safely in the woods (except for the dead Major Smith), the party linked up with some Greek partisans (played by the swiftly re-cast Martin R) and after retrieving a drunken Cpl Morant who was getting friendly with a taverna waitress were soon bound for the lower cable car station in a stolen truck.  On arrival they were delayed by a German patrol searching for saboteurs.  Little did our heroes know that Fritz had been tipped off by the Communist Partisans!
When they eventually reached the battery the German speakers tried to talk their way into the three emplacements.  Cpt. Ryan did so successfully and soon overcame the unsuspecting gunners.  Meanwhile Cpl Walker was in discussion with a German sentry on the subject of crap officers but had got no further.  L.Cpl Paget was welcomed into 'his' battery - where unknown to his erstwhile comrades he had gone to surrender and betray his team!  The alarm was soon sounding as confused Germans ran back and forth.  Taking advantage of the chaos our heroes soon silenced the German flak gunners (with the aid - it being a film - of 'nuclear' hand grenades).  Spirited resistance from the emplacement where the traitor Paget had taken refuge was soon brought to a fitting end by Ryan and Fitzbohun firing their captured '88' through the back door!
By then we were out of time so the full story of how our brave lads escaped will have to wait for the sequel...

More Immortality

 My second unit of Immortals are also old Garrison figures.  That is, they're new figures a few months old) from old moulds.  Or rather new castings from re-cut moulds.  Clear?  Excellent.
Whatever the age of the original moulds, these are nice crisp castings - probably rather better than Garrison figures were in the 1970s.
They have been subjected to a pretty basic - though quite intricate by my standards - paint job and will no doubt soon be exchanging insults and pointy stick injuries with my Greeks.
At the same time I painted this Persian General and his standard bearer.  They are also Garrison figures.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Rolling Thunder

 I found myself re boxing my collection of 1/144 scale WW2 USAAF aircraft the other day and decided to set them out for a few photos.  There are rather a lot of them!

The keen spotters among you will have no doubt identified all 39 of them....

To save any more eye strain the full list is as follows: 5 C-47 Dakota, 1 B-29 Superfortress, 4 B-17 Fortress, 4 B-24 Liberator, 1 B-26 Maurauder, 2 B-25 Mitchell, 1 A-20 Havoc, 1 P-61 Black Widow, 6 P-38 Lightning, 3 P-39 Cobra, 2 P-40 Hawk, 5 P-51 Mustang, 4 P-47 Thunderbolt, 1 Spitfire. They are a mixture of plastic kits, Japanese pre-painted 'Gashapon' kits and metal die casts.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

A car for the Tsar

Well two cars actually.  The (as yet unpainted) Tsar of Tratvia, Vladimir IV now has this pair of 'big splendid motor cars' to ferry around he and his (also currently unpainted) staff. 
These 1910 Cadillacs were built from Revell 1/32 scale plastic kits.  They were originally made by the Gowland (no relation...) company in the 1950s!  This great age shows up a bit in the fit of some parts - cue the usual sanding, filling, more sanding, etc...  But in the end they look pretty good.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Tratvian Militia Battalion. Another one.

Newly formed in Travia is the 5th (Militia) Infantry Battalion.  The 54mm figures are from the Armies in Plastic range and were originally destined by their manufacturer to be Napoleonic Prussian Landwehr and Russian Militia.  Mixing the contents of three boxes has enabled me to have decent numbers of the same poses in this unit and the 4th (Militia) Battalion
 As usual the flag is laser printed on paper and PVA'd to a florist wire flagpole

Thanks Santa!

A quick look at my toy soldiering-related presents:
I had been coveting this book since before it's publication date (October 2012) and on the strength of the quick flick through I've so far managed it looks very interesting.  I already had a vague idea for a game, so watch this space.
While reading I'll be able to quaff tea from this splendid Airfix mug.
When the book goes on the shelf these alarmingly bright green bookends can hold it up!  The 1/32 scale Tratvian cavalry officer is there for scale.
These really are big lads - 175mm tall!  I wouldn't rule out their appearing in a game...
Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, 24 December 2012

A barrage of good wishes!

Merry Christmas one and all!
Following on from my most recent 'history of Airfix' post I rounded up all of the Soviet guns which began life as unsuspecting 5.5s.  
The whole sorry collection is above.  That's seven 122mm guns which could spoil a few Germans' days.
These two are my originals.  Both have the characteristic double wheels and one has a shield.  The tractors are Majorette toy bulldozers.
On tow is my third effort, pulled by a lightly modified ROCO M5 tractor.  Along with the two above it is on the strength of 18 Artillery Penetration Division.
Chris Willey provided this similar creation.  I'm not sure how he made the imposing tractor.

These three were built by Chris Kemp and are towed by Majorette Ford A trucks. Together with Chris W's gun they serve in the Wellingrad Artillery Division.

A history of Airfix HO/OO AFV kits - part 8 - 1966

A return now to my series of posts charting the development of that Airfix AFV kit range.  And you all thought I'd forgotten.  For some reason I only seem to add to this series during the festive season.  I have also given the series it's own label, so to see the earlier posts, just scroll down to the 'History of Airfix' label.
Anyway, enough preamble - lets have a look at the toys.  1966 saw the release of two important kits - the US Halftrack and the Matador & 5.5in Gun.
The Halftrack box above dates from the late 1980s and the kit itself builds into a fair representation, although there are apparently a number of detail inconsistencies. But how we all love it.
Above - a bog standard halftrack accompanied by a pair of FAA metal US infantry.  This particular stand is currently between engagements but will no doubt be allocated to an armoured division in the fullness of time.  Below is a very nicely done (not by me!) conversion into the earlier M3 Scout Car.
Captured halftracks are also present in my boxes, including the one above currently on the strength of 10 Panzer Division (in Tunisia), and JR's 'Hollywood'-style conversion below which serves as a recce company in 14 PD.
The Matador and 5.5in Gun is a particularly useful kit - I have loads of them, although the Matador & Gun rarely serve together.
Above - the 1970s period 'blister pack' in which most of my early Series 1 kits arrived.
This pair were built straight from the box by Steve T - I've not yet interfered with them in any way.
These guns and tow serve as part of the artillery strength of XXX Corps (c.1944).  The crew figures are metal castings by SHQ.
Above - this high mileage Matador is currently employed dragging a large AA gun around North Africa.
My Germans have commandeered a few Matadors over the years.  The one above belongs to 2 FJR Div.
JR's ever-popular stretched Matador always attracts a lot of attention when it appears in games.  The kit was probably quite a new release when this conversion was carried out!  Below is the same lorry next to a standard Matador.  Both are currently in the employ of III Armeekorps.

The 5.5 has also travelled a bit - my Russians have several lightly converted into 122mm guns.  seven actually.  You want to see them all?  Well, since it's nearly Christmas I'll see what I can do....
Not to be left out, 8 SS Kavalerie Division has this much hacked about 5.5 in service - the shield is from an '88'.

Coming soon - 1967 - and another two new releases!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

(More) International Arms dealing

Friday was a pretty good day.  After a useful business meeting In Leeds in the morning, I returned to discover that the blog had passed 200,000 hits.  Then the post arrived, including a package from Ross Macfarlane in Canada.  This contained a few of Ross' own 25mm castings and this mint-condition Britains field gun.  This wonderfully generous gift will help alleviate the unemployment problem currently affecting Tratvian gunners - as alluded to in an earlier post.
The gun was accompanied by an imposing looking staff officer, and an email exchange with Ross soon yielded some history and an idea for a name.  So I am pleased to announce that Major (Retd.) Lawford College, having returned from Faraway, has accepted a contract as 'adviser' to the Army of His Imperial Majesty, Tsar of all the Tratvians, Vladimir IV.