Saturday, 28 December 2013

Display Cabinet for my Figures!

After years of wanting a display cabinet of some sort to place a selection of my models in, my girlfriend surprised me with this on Christmas Day. It comes as a flat pack from Argos, but was very easy to assemble. She'd apparently tried to purchase a similar one with lighting but due to stock shortages had to settle for one without. Despite this small setback I wandered down to the local hardware shop and managed to find a 60w strip light that fits in just nicely. The cabinet has a sliding glass front and four brackets to fit it to a wall if necessary (I'd advise on this, as it makes it very sturdy and less prone to knocks - especially if you have two cats tearing around the place as we do). There's an option to narrow the gaps between each section with a purchase of extra glass shelves but I thought this would make it a bit too crowded and more difficult for the light to penetrate down to the lower sections. I collect a fair bit of militaria again these days too, so I'm also intending to rotate it with my medal collection and other bits.

Friday, 27 December 2013

20mm WW2 Russian Infantry.

From what I gather most of the Russian Infantry I bought from Colonel Bill's were Britannia Miniatures figures. Only a few quid for a bag of infantry and a mortar section, they were too good to turn down and will certainly feature again in our Bolt Action games next year. I particularly liked the wounded officer, so decided to stick him on a base with a map reading infantryman as though he were down but still shouting his orders. I painted a mix of Vallejo Russian Uniform, Khaki and some camo pattern smocks, to display the variation in supply that the Russians experienced in real life. I must say I really love painting 20mm Britannia stuff and can't help picking a few infantry and vehicles up when the opportunity arises.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Napoleonic Game 28mm

Last Sunday's Napoleonic game was a simple encounter scenario, which made a change from the usual 'attacker, defender' types we've been doing recently. Basically French vs Austrians rushing to control a hill and road in the centre of the board. Both sides began with advanced units, with French having slight superiority in cannon but the Austrians advantage in infantry and cavalry. Using the Republic to Empire rules we'd rolled for commander ratings, in which the French (mine and Ian's side) appeared to come off worse with a lot of 'plodders' and few skilful officers.

The Austrians started well, pushing quickly toward the objectives and getting their jaegers on the heights. Added to this was a large force of their cavalry rather intimidatingly advancing on the left. Ian took quick control of the situation on the hill by meeting the first units of Austrians with two regiments of French. Knowing full well that the further back he could push the Austrians, the further the main army would have to go in order to secure its target. Bracing ourselves with some chancy dice rolls and trusting the abilities of our unenthusiastic commanders we expected the worst, but surprisingly rolled high enough to give the Austrians pause for thought. This gave the French time enough to concentrate some of their own cavalry in countering the Austrian cavalry threat pounding down the road. Again some surprising results. Although the French cavalry were finally defeated it left the Austrians in a state from which they couldn't recover. Reminding us that Napoleonic cavalry is very much a "one shot deal". Thus the hill was secure in French hands as their primary force came onto the table unopposed. The same unfortunately couldn't be said of the Austrians, whose main army were only able to take one move before having to tangle with remains of the French advance who were still making a nuisance of themselves.

In conclusion, a good game which was fast moving and fun to play. It also gave me chance to photograph some of Simon's excellently painted Austrians again!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

10mm British Sherman Tanks and Bren Carriers.

Here's some photos of my new Pendraken 10mm Late British. I've finished painting all the armour and now just have the infantry to complete. They were really satisfying to paint, and I took most of the tips from the Flames of War painting guide on their website. I undercoated in black, then did a base colour of Vallejo Russian Uniform Green. After that I did a brown ink wash and then highlighted with another layer of Russian Uniform plus a mix of 30% or so White. The tracks were left black and then spotted with Vallejo Gunmetal. The camo on the Scout car and Bren Carriers was a base colour of Reflective Green, another Brown wash and then a highlight mix of Reflective Green and (again) 30% white. They were pretty quick and easy to do and I managed to finish nine vehicles in one short afternoon.

Something that inspired me with the choice of figures was reading Robert Kershaw's book "Tank Men". I'd really enjoyed his work on Arnhem ("It Never Snows in September") and was pleased to get this one through the post from Amazon. The personal experiences recounted within it's pages are just stunning and I'd suggest it to anyone who wants to get a sense of what it's like to see war from a Tank crew's point of view. In fact the Kershaw one then led me onto ordering the classic Keith Douglas book "Alamein to Zem Zem". If you haven't got any of these I'd put them on the Xmas list right now.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

15mm Zulu War Game Report

A couple of Sundays back, Dave G decided to put on one of his famously epic colonial games using the 'Battles for Empire' Rules. This was a Zulu War scenario involving an British Advance army consisting of 'disgruntled' Zulus followed by a main body of British regulars. The opposition force was a fair sized group of Zulu tribal allies...and of course the Zulu Royal Army itself. The British objective was to disperse or steal the tribal group's cattle situated on the hill, drive off their force, and then bring the British Regulars to establish camp around the hill. The main Zulu Army was off board as the British Advance began towards the tribal settlement, and (as we cautiously expected) could appear just about anywhere...and fast.

Myself and Mark (who kindly provided the photos) were the Brits, whilst Dave, Paul and Chris were the Zulus and Lawrence commanded the Zulu tribal allies. I decided to use the British advance units to head straight for the hill and tackle Lawrence's guys before the Zulus might react. My mistake was not having a clue about using my Native cavalry units to scout around, and instead trying to use them to protect my flanks and keep everything together. Hence the Zulu allies were spotted easily and I began to deal with them as I approached the hill, forcing them backwards and away from their cattle. But I messed up by (as Dave mentioned) failing to throw my scouts out in a wider arc which may have revealed the whereabouts of the main Zulu force. This meant that when Mark's British Regulars came on behind me they effectively had to proceed blind.

It quickly became obvious that both the advance force and the main British body would have problems supporting each other. My own predicament became acute when I realized I'd got around 2,000 Zulus moving against my backside, whilst I was still trumpeting a short lived victory after capturing a few cows. Mark probably had to deal with about three times that number from two different directions, and did the typically British thing of "forming square". Unfortunately this only gave a false sense of security, especially when Mark's artillery began to produce less than pleasing results. So it wasn't long before the Headquarters Staff themselves were casting aside the lace doilies and turning over the dining furniture in panic as Zulus ("thousands of them") started brisk work with their Assegai.

So in conclusion, the Brits came away with few survivors and having been taught a serious lesson (again). Maybe we'll remember to bring along a few Gatling guns next time.....

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Derby World Wargames 2013

These are some photos of just a few of the outstanding demo games at this weekend's Derby Wargames show. The first group include the Warlord Games demo of Pegasus Bridge. A really amazing set-up as you can see. Second in the set is an alternative history game taking the 1984 Miners strike and developing it into a full blown civil war. Called 'The Battle for Trafalgar Square', the detail was fantastic - right down to small led lights placed amongst the explosions. I particularly loved the firefight erupting in front of the National Portrait Gallery - I guess there weren't the usual trail of tourists spilling out the doors on that day! The next up was a rather nice Arab-Israeli game (28mm?) with probably the most tanks I've ever seen fielded on a gaming table. Finally there was a lovely 6mm Maurice game placed in a Marquee with the participants in period costume. Great to see so much effort gone into the presentation of these games.

The show as a whole seemed like a roaring success. There were visible far more people in attendance last year, plus the canteen area had been expanded to afford more seating etc. Traders were also on the increase, so definitely lots of choice for the punters.

On the personal front I managed to pick up my preorders from Pendraken (Austro-Prussian and Franco Prussian army packs) and also got chance to buy some 10mm WW2 armour. The book stalls such as Paul Meekins etc were just an absolute feast for the eyes, and I came away with some coffee table books on Normandy '44 and some tasty Axis uniform and equipment books. A special mention has to go to 'Treefellas' who did me a nice deal on an Orange Grove (with tiny oranges no less!) and some bocage hedgerows.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Painted Hall, Old Naval College, Greenwich. London.

Just back from a fantastic weekend in London. Having been to the Imperial War Museum several times I guessed it was the turn of the Naval College and National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Having almost passed straight by it, we happened to notice The Painted Hall a few yards away. It's an incredibly impressive structure with a beautifully decorated interior. I had no idea that it was the place the bodies of both Nelson and Collingwood were left in state before being interred at St. Paul's Cathedral. Very fitting surroundings for two extremely brave men. Underneath is a long tunnel that connects both ends of the building, and at the bottom of a set of stairs is a truly lovely scale model of the Japanese warship 'Yashima'. If like us, you were passing through the area to get to the Maritime Museum, you could do yourself a favour and drop by The Painted Hall. The panorama photo included above was taken by my girlfriend (who had a better technological grasp of the camera than I had!) and shows the buildings of the Old Naval College in all their glory.

Friday, 6 September 2013

1866 Saxon Infantry - 10mm Pendraken.

The second of the Pendraken Army packs is almost complete. This time it's the 1866 Saxon Army, which during the campaign fought with great distinction. Again I had to spend a few nights trawling the internet for information on uniforms etc. It was suggested that the Saxon's wore a sort of Cornflour Blue, and whereas some collectors had satisfied themselves with (as I recall) the Foundry paint system which produces something akin to the Bavarian colour of uniform, I'd also heard some folks opting for a Vallejo middle blue. This seemed fine although with a highlight on top I was afraid of it appearing too much like sky blue. Hence I went for the Vallejo dark blue and highlighted from there. The photo only shows the infantry minus their command stands because I forgot to include any in my online basket when ordering (Pendraken Army packs usually come without them) - so I'll probably have to grab some from their stand at the Derby show in a few weeks.
On another note I've just had the other Douglas Fermer book come through the door from Amazon called 'France at Bay' about the Siege of Paris and other events towards the end of the Franco-Prussian War. If it's anything like his Sedan book, it'll be a stormer.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

1866 Austrian Artillery - 10mm

More of the excellent Pendraken figures. This time Austrian artillery. These come with the seats for the crew when limbered. They're quite solid castings for their size and were nice to paint. As many would already know, the Austrian artillery in the 1866 campaign were actually superior to their Prussian counterparts. The problem however perhaps lay in doctrine and deployment. The latter tended to keep their guns further back and removed them quickly when threatened. The Austrians on the other hand brought their artillery up close to ensure support for the infantry. This often resulted in them being overrun or shot down as per "The Battery of the Dead" at Chlum when they deployed 150m in front of the Austrian Infantry and were overrun by the Prussian Guard.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

1866 Austrian Hussars - 10mm

This is the second edition to my 1866 Austrian army. All included in the Pendraken army pack. Having picked a period that would perhaps be quite obscure to many (The Austro-Prussian War, aka The Seven Weeks War) I'm now grappling with the obvious problem of painting guides and uniform details. Hence I'm eternally thankful for the abundance of forums such as TMP and Pendraken's own, where people have posted up links and suggestions. Having been one of those pre-internet gamers (even though it was primarily Games Workshop/Fantasy stuff) I feel heartily grateful for the resources that are now at my fingertips.

Back to the issue of late 19th Century warfare, and I've just finished reading 'Sedan 1870 - The Eclipse of France' by Douglas Fermer. Anyone interested in the Franco-Prussian War should grab it. As well as being incredibly tragic, I found it a great introduction to the conflict. Although also quite excellent I feel it's perhaps less dense than Michael Howard's book on the same subject.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Austrian Infantry 1866 - 10mm Pendraken.

I bought these 1866 Austrian Infantry from Pendraken as part of their Army deal. Impressed with some of the smaller scale figures folks have been bringing along to the club I thought I'd try my hand at them. I was also inclined to consider the current costs of collecting armies in 25/28mm metal, as much as I still love my Napoleonic French I'm only too aware of the time and £££'s it's put in to get a decent sized force.

The army packs from Pendraken are only £25 each, and you get a worthwhile amount for your money. Although they don't come with command units, what I got was enough to field two whole divisions and still a few left over. The painting itself seemed intimidating at first and I probably wasn't used to picking out jackets and packs with careful paint blobs. However, it was nice to see the detail appearing once I'd used block colours and then added a thin wash all over. I decided afterwards on a bit of highlight to make the colour pop a bit more. I managed to pick up the Osprey edition of the Austrian Army 1836-1866 (1) cheap from Amazon, and in it was listed the charts and references for lapel colours and facings. The Army pack mentioned in this instance includes both infantry in Kittel and greatcoats (above photos show two units in Kittel and one in GC). The basing was done with green flock and chinchilla sand from the local pet store - the latter comes in large bags for only a couple of quid. Nice considering it's probably exactly the same stuff you're buying in hobby stores for three times the price.

Anyway, I'll be looking forward to buying a few more of these in the very near future.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Museum of Military History, Vienna.

These are some photographs I took on a holiday to Austria a few years ago. The visit took in The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum based at the rather imposing Vienna Arsenal. It boasts the largest collection of artillery pieces in Europe and is established on several floors. Each floor is dedicated to a particular period, with huge sections on the Napoleonic era, First World War, Second World War, Thirty Years and both the Austro-Prussian and Franco-Prussian Wars. It's easily a whole day affair and just walking between the rooms can mean long pauses as your eye catches large painted mural scenes from Military History hovering above you on the ceiling. Outstanding objects are things like Archduke Franz Ferdinand's car in which he was assassinated in (complete with bullet holes), and the blood stained uniform he wore on the day. Very tragic and moving in my opinion. The prices for entry are extremely good. More details here:

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Saga Vikings - 28mm

These two hairy fellows are Heroes of the Dark Ages 28mm Vikings. I grabbed them from Colonel Bill's stand at the last Triples show. The rest of my Saga band are all Crusader miniatures, and these guys are slightly conspicuous due to their size, which I only realized once I got them home. After a bit of pondering I still intend to use them mixed in with the rest as they're not too bad. I like the variations of poses and they're good solid chunky figures. As a word of caution I probably wouldn't put them with Foundry models as they do really tower over them. Maybe they'd be ok in a separate warband however. As I've finished almost all of my French Indian Wars and Saga figures, I've just ordered my "Summer Project" - two large armies for the 1866 Austro Prussian War in 10mm. Photos on the way soon!!

Monday, 8 July 2013

More Woodland Indians 28mm

This post would have featured 28mm Roger's Rangers, had I not dropped several onto the concrete path (so they're back on the painting table getting a touch up). When I heard the clatter I had to bite my lip and adopt some zen style breathing control, so as not to upset the neighbours with a string of violent expletives. Anyway, I retreated back upstairs and instead I've included some more AW Miniatures Indians. After the game last week I noticed compared to Kev's multi-coloured War Party, mine definitely needed some 'prettying' up so to speak. Again the flesh is Vallejo Cavalry Brown with some white mixed highlights. The War paint is Vallejo Flat Red with Carmine Red highlight, and Vallejo Medium Blue respectively.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Muskets and Tomahawks 28mm Game

Last Wednesday's Club game photos. Myself and Russ played the British with Regulars, Rangers and Indians. Whilst Simon and Kev were the French with Canadian and Indian support. Our task was to burn the Indian village and nearby French compound. Theirs was to scout each of the 6 board sections (only one figure was necessary to enter each of the board area), which meant our task was by far the trickiest. As I was in control of the Indians and British Rangers we dashed forward using cover to set alight the first two Indian structures. Kev's own Indian defenders tried to make a flanking move through the trees when they saw the first whisps of smoke and got a hail of musket fire which drove them back. So far so good. However, to advance into the second part of the village meant crossing a cornfield (only light cover) and my indians paid dearly with two units breaking and fleeing when blasted from a treeline by approx. four units hiding there. The Rangers began a flanking move to flush them out but scarpered back into cover when a French Regular unit came marching into view. Using their sharpshooter skill they took down 90% of the regiment in quick succession. But unfortunately weren't quick to react when another hostile Indian unit managed to whip round and scout another board tile. Russ held on with his sturdy British line effectively dealing with the French near the compound, but again the Canadian forces used their cover to first hatchet a few of our men and gain another part of their victory conditions.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Battle of Ladonchamps 1870 - Franco Prussian War 10mm

Today our friend Mark came up from London to put on a large club game using his excellent Franco-Prussian 10mm figures, and his Hexon II hex terrain. Also in attendence was Paul from Kallistra Ltd who produces the latter. The scenario concerned the breakout plans of the French army from Metz, which were eventually downgraded to a 'giant raid' on farm complexes across their front which they suspected the Prussians were using as food stores. This was deemed essential by the French staff as most of their troops were beginning to starve.
The Prussian army were in a strong defensive position having thrown up earthworks and fortifications around the besieged area. However their weakness was in having mainly Landwehr forces strung out along the front and being caught by surprise by the opposition as they rolled forwards. In the real battle the French army were held in check, although at heavy cost. Today's game was no different. The French powered forwards proving their Chassepot rifles to be formidable at range, whilst the saviour of the Prussians happened to be their defensive structures and superior artillery.
The ruleset we used  ('1870' from Grand Tactical Rules) definitely emphasized these aspects. A lot of firepower and very, very bloody. The French in our scenario flung much of their force against the Prussian center whilst sending out divisions on either flank - one to cross the river and cut off the Prussian's communication with their other corps, and another through the forested and hilly area on the Prussian right. Both came very close to success, but were thrown back by fierce counter attacks. At one point the French flag flew briefly over the last of the farmhouses only to be surrounded and wiped out by a sea of Prussian Blue.
All in all, a fantastic day with lots of 'edge of your seat' moments.