Friday, 31 October 2014

A pair of old French smoothies

No - not Messieurs Aznavour and Trenet but rather this pair of old 1/43 scale Solido diecasts which I picked up on eBay to serve as staff cars for my Little Cold Wars French forces.  
One of the many joys of Solido models is that they are usually quite easy to dismantle for repainting and maintenance work.  So it was with these models - a Citroen CX and a Peugeot 504 wagon.  I was keen to preserve the considerable chrome plated areas while the stripped body parts were sprayed a rather fetching dark green.
After reassembling them I painted on the number plates - such as they are - and then sat back to admire them.  As it happens I have run three 1/1 scale Peugeots - two 104SL and a 309GL - but the 504 was never a common sight on British roads.  I never quite managed to buy a CX but came close on two occasions before my courage failed me and I bought Volvos instead.  To date my only Citroen was a BX which to be honest wasn't great.  It was replaced with - you guessed it - a Volvo.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Little Guards

These chaps were part of a substantial eBay purchase earlier this year.  Indeed such was the size of this er, investment, that my half of  it provided all of the infantry and most of the cavalry for my early 20th Century British army.
The bandsmen are Britains metal figures...
 ...while these chaps are a mix of metal and plastics.  
Let's ignore the fact that the rifles are SLRs shall we?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

PM-43 120mm Mortar

One of the things common to Warsaw Pact Motor Rifle Battalions is that they all have a mortar battery.  Mostly these are equipped with towed 120mm weapons of a design that - to my eyes at least - hasn't really changed much since WW2. Er, I mean the Great Patriotic War.  Indeed the PM-43 - as I believe this kit to be only began to be supplemented by the 2B6 Vasilek in the 1970s and the 2B11 from 1981.
Not only that, but the essential characteristics of the crew uniforms - helmets and boots - also remained constant.
That being so, I was pleased to pick up this 1/35 scale Zvezda kit rather cheaply.  Now there is often a reason behind the cheapness of cheap kits but in this case only one part was missing - the muzzle of the tube, a replacement was easily fabricated - and parts fit was generally good.
So here it is all ready to paint.  The only bit that shouts 'WW2' is the carriage with it's rather rustic spoked wheels.  I suppose I could replace them - or just not use it at all.
More after it's been attacked by paint.

Monday, 27 October 2014


 This was a game played with my NATO Brigade Commander rules and run by Martin using his 2mm toys.  A further instalment of our WW3 series of games, this saw a West German Brigade trying to break through a load of nasties in order to relieve their chums.  Interestingly, in this case the nasties were East Germans.  Martin led the Commies while I represented the Free World and we settled in for a grudge match!
  A West German Panzer Battalion on the move.
 Happily I was able to deploy the brigade quite quickly.
 The Panzer Grenadier Battalion makes a daring sweep round the left flank and - for only minor losses - shifted an enemy battalion from a village.
 An overview of the battle.  The DDR forces comprised a full Motor Rifle Regiment.
 My Artillery Battalion prepares to fire.

 My forces applied and maintained relentless pressure on the Commies. 
 Still making good progress - despite a few casualties.
 Soon I was able to concentrate my battalions again...
 ...for an assault on the DDR tank battalion.
 It wasn't completely pain free....
 ...but the Commies were wiped out!
 Even air attacks were shrugged off...
...and a route was soon opened!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

'Orrible 'Oplite - part 2

Here is the completed Mi-2, resplendent in two-tone green camo.
The simplifications I introduced to the build aren't too obvious.
Polish markings were sourced from the decal box.  I had wanted to use East German markings but didn't have any in stock.  If anyone has any East German decals to spare I can offer them a home and gainful employment.  The same goes for most Warpact markings.

Friday, 24 October 2014

'Orrible 'Oplite - part 1

Ever heard of 'Intech' kits?  Me neither.  But it was rather cheap and I'd been on the lookout for a Mi-2 for some time.
So how was it as a kit?  Not too bad - and certainly better than the ghastly Auster.  Getting the rotor blades at the correct angle is always tricky - I think they're close enough.
The main components went together reasonably well.  I had the presence of mind to add an internal weight to the nose before sealing it all up!  The glazing was installed as I went along - I'll be painting over it later.
The many struts for the main wheels didn't look up to the job so i decided to replace the many thin plastic parts with a single length of stiff wire.  And no, I haven't glued the rotor blades to the bottom of the fuselage - though it may appear so from the photo!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Out of Control?

There were no posts in the past week as I've been away on a much needed holiday and didn't have time to set any up before I left.  The previous weekend, however, I managed to finish not only the previously mentioned Auster but also this Airfix Control Tower.  This is my second 'go' at this kit, the first having been when it was all new and exciting in c1977.  The original was moulded in yellow plastic (what the hell were they thinking?) but this more recent version - I've had it in stock for around 6 years - is rendered in an altogether more sober grey.  
As this will likely be used with larger scale toys I left out the crew figures.  As I recall the original standing chap with the binoculars went on to have a glittering career as a staff officer.  For the moment at least, his younger self is headed for the spares box!
The first one got stood on during a game - let's see how long this one lasts....

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The 2014 Birmingham Toy Soldier Show

See also my post on last year's show - link.
This year I had agreed to accompany Len Cooksey of Ivanhoe Figures to help run his trade stand.  And so it was that at 0600 hours on Sunday we convened on my drive, loaded up the car and set off.  The journey went smoothly enough, despite thick fog patches and we soon found the new venue for the show - the Edgbaston Cricket Ground.
The hall was large and spacious but bloody freezing, so it was a relief to have to run around setting up the stand.  I particularly wanted to speak to Len about his own small range of resin cast Afghan war (the Soviet one) figures as I remembered that the set included a Russian Motor Rifle Trooper.  Len had kindly put a couple aside for me (see above) so I'll get these painted up and more than likely ask him to cast up some more.
Len's stand also yielded this interesting figure.  Danish in origin, I can see him making a good naval officer.
I also ran into John and Michael Curry who had their usual stand of unusual things.  I succumbed to the temptation of this fine book which turns out to be a rather nice read.
From the same stand came this US Military Policemen - a very useful looking figure.
As usual, Len 'paid' me in figures.  This is most of his remaining stock of Conte ACW figures.  I was particularly pleased to get my hands on these chaps as my earlier batch painted up rather well - see link.

There is (of course) more to come from this show - stay tuned!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Annoying Auster - part 2

 Here is the er, 'finished' Auster.  Sharp-eyed readers will note the absence of struts for wings etc.  These fell victim to my 'CBA'* approach to modelling and were replaced by more glue.  Bearing all that in mind, it looks quite reasonable.
 I opted for British markings - which the box describes as 'RAF'.  Of course, this is actually a machine of the Army Air Corps serving as an airborne observation post - a role in which the Auster served until the mid 1960s.  This is the role it will take as part of my Little Cold Wars project.

* Can't be arsed.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Annoying Auster - part 1

I was sent this kit by Paul a couple of years ago.  At the time I couldn't understand why he had parted with such an apparently useful model.  Then I had a look in the box and all was clear.  The parts are moulded - and not too well - in a type of plastic which somehow manages to be at once bendy and brittle.  And for such a small model there are a lot of them.  So back it went in the box.,  This process was repeated a couple of times over the ensuing years until I gave in and decided to actually build the thing.
Construction underway.  Considerable quantities of sweat and tears were spent just to get this far.
On a more positive note, the decal sheet was large and included markings for the four aircraft shown above.  But which one to choose?
By now I had decided on a somewhat simpler build than that intended by the good people at AZmodel.  Believe me - that masking tape does a much better job of supporting the wings than the kit's spindly and flash-ridden struts.

By now you may be wondering if Paul and I are still on speaking terms.  We are - and I unreservedly withdraw all the terrible things I said about him in the privacy of my toy room during the build.
Thanks again Paul - I have a plan to use this thing and I am beating it's attempts to thwart me!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Digging in!

The scratch-bodging of some very dodgy ships for COW (see here) left a pile of off-cuts of insulation foam.  The discovery of several bits of dowel and mdf then led to a cunning plan to build some trench sections.  These were er, 'designed' to serve from the ACW onwards and are pictured here with some of my Great War 54mm French.  Once again I hope you will forgive the hastily posed photos!
I built three sections - each a little worse then the last...  The first (the 2 photos above) features a  rampart with battlements.
The second (above and below) includes an emplacement for a small artillery piece....

...while the third uses the bits left over from the first two.