Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 In Review

As 2012 comes to a close its that time again – to take a look at the plan and see how we did. I suspect it is not good reading, but here goes….

1) Coastal Forces, 1/1200 - a project from last year that didn't get off the ground. The plan is to sort out my unpainted model collection and get my fast play rules into a fit state for games.

How did I do? – Nothing on this whatsoever!

2) 15mm ECW - Just a few units to finish off, mainly the Scots cavalry and generals that I missed last year. Then to sort out the various files I have on my computer covering the DBA extension rules and army lists.

How did I do? – Complete (yay!)

3) Medieval Naval - finish off the last 30 cogs, and sort out the fina details for the rules and campaign system

How did I do? – Nothing here either. In fact the cogs are sitting in a box looking at me right now.

4) AK47 - I have way too much AK47 stuff, so I will sort out what I've got, recycle excess stuff through the Reveille tabletop sale and spruce up whats left. The individually mounted figures I have I'll finish and use for purely skirmish games.

How did I do? – I managed to offload the excess stuff at Reveille and via ebay, but the individual figures are still waiting to be done. I did get some odd vehicles and terrain pieces done though.

5) Napoleonic naval - another big "lead pile" here. I will try to paint and rig at least one ship per month.

How did I do? – Nothing here either L

6) 15mm SCW - finish off the last few units (the ersatz Finnish tank squadron and the casualty figures) and then set about finishing off Laura's fast play rules

How did I do? – Got this pretty much sorted out. In fact I also built an extra “army”, of which more in the next day or two (they are currently drying)

7) The Sudan - I really want to get back into this in 2012. I'm awaitinga  few units from Nigel, my expert painting friend and I have a couple of units of Bashi Basouks and some civilians to paint up, then all is complete on the modelling front. I think I ought to make another river steamer as well. Then to finalise the rules and get some games in!

How did I do? – Still waiting for Nigel to finish those odd figures. I got the civvies done, but not the mounted Bashi Basouks.

8) Wings of War - This is a firm favourite and I'll be getting in as many games as I can, and building up my air fleets.

How did I do? – Lots of games, quite a few new models. Shapeways and I are firm friends. It’s a pity Ares can’t sort out their production release schedules though!

9) War Rocket - I have one squadron of ships already, and a second one (plus the rules) waiting for me in the US. Apart from these I'll probably look to scratch build a few ships as well.

How did I do? – Well I collected the new models and the rules from the US, but that was about it.

I also have two "special projects" which are ongoing but which I can't say more about just now. Details (hopefully) later).

How did these go? – Neither got off the ground. One was down to me, one was down to someone else. Hopefully at least one will take off this year.

The major reason things didn’t go as planned was all to do with moving house. I am how the proud owner of a house in the country, two ponies, a loan horse, a horse trailer and a big 4x4. 

But the whole house move thing was quite disruptive and knocked out several months of my life. And then, in recent months I’ve got seduced by X-Wing, which has been a  big success story as far as modelling and painting goes.

Moving house has also brought me to within a couple of miles of the Berkeley Vale Wargames Club, a very friendly bunch of chaps who are prepared to try almost anything. I’ve got high hopes for getting lots of gaming in during 2013!

We also had kittens - lots of foster kittens and five of our own, one of whom (Scotty - I'm sure he can change the laws of physics) now lives with us after Muffy (our 20 year old mog) passed on.

So that’s the review of 2012 – look out for the plan for 2013 in the next few days.

Oh, and a very Happy New Year to everyone reading this, and thanks for your comments and support. J

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Mussolini's Navy

Mussolini’s Navy – A Reference Guide to the Regia Marina 1930-1945
Author: Maurizio Brescia
Published by Seaforth
ISBN  978-1-84832-115-1

Like many naval wargamers I have always had a fascination with the Italian Navy of WW2. My interest was spawned by my brother’s 1/1200 scale plastic kit of the Vittorio Veneto (a model I still have today, over 30 years on). So I was interested to hear that Seaforth were releasing a reference guide to the Italian Navy of WW2. As far as I am aware there is no other book , certainly available in English, of its type available anywhere. I have to tell you that this is a most excellent book and possibly the only technical reference that those with less than a very deep interest will ever need. In 240 pages Sig. Brescia covers every ship in the Regia Marina from battleship down to rescue tugs, submarines to “Maiale”, including prize ships and others. The book begins with a brief history of the RM from 1861 to the outbreak of WW2, then goes on to describe in detail the various naval bases and key facilities, fleet organisation and operations around the Mediterranean but also the Black Sea, Red Sea and Atlantic, detailed technical descriptions of all naval craft, naval aviation, both ship and shore based, warship camouflage schemes, flags, uniforms and a “who’s who” of key Italian naval personnel of the period.

The book is profusely illustrated with diagrams and excellently reproduced photographs. A real boon is the inclusion of a colour section, 16 extra pages showing camouflage schemes, some lovely period colour photographs, flags and insignia details.

This is not an operational history of the Italian Navy, but is an essential supporting reference that details how and why the RM was organised, assembled and equipped as it was. I have found it to be an invaluable work in some of my current projects and would not hesitate in recommending it to all with an interest in the naval war in the Mediterranean in WW2. 

Friday, 28 December 2012


Like so many things the following is (in part) Steve Blease's fault. You see, he shared a picture on Facebook of a Libyan "technical" where some brave souls had stuck the turret from a BMP on a 4x4 (along with a park bench, or so it seemed - and I was also intrigued by the choice of football strip a modern day Arab revolutionary would wear, as well as the use of a machine gun as a pogo stick!)

anyway, Steve's throwaway comment was "one for the scratch builders" so I immediately had a go. I didn't have a BMP turret to hand but the following was knocked up in pretty short order...

Still some work to do, but a passable starting point for my AK-47 armies. But that got me thinking. We have recently bought a Toyota Hilux Twincab as a "tractor" for the girls' horse trailer and I was joking that we could put a replica HMG in the flat bed, dress up in random footie gear with sunglasses and arab headgear and go to wargames shows and re-enactment events as the Libyan Resistance Re-enactment Society. of course my brilliant idea was poo-poo'd, but I was still left thinking what out truck would look like as a "technical". So I whipped out a spare Peter Pig model, fashioned the extended cab out of Miliput, added the running boards and stuck a 107mm RCL in the back. And here's the result:

Again, not quite finished yet, and Liz wants me to add a horse trailer (presumably carrying ammo - and now that I recall there was an old matchbox horse trailer model that might fit the bill), but good enough and hopefully making an appearance at Berkeley vale soon.

btw, if anyone knows where I can get a cheap replica or decommissioned HMG.... :)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

There's Too Many Of Them!

having discovered how close the old Micro Machines Star Wars models were in size to the official FFG Star Wars models I decided to base them up, and also work on some large ship bases as well. In the meantime two F Toys Lambda shuttles arrived as well, so I now have two rather large fleets of ships (and I have just heard that one of my friends in the Berkeley Vale club is also splurging on models).

All of the fighters are mounted on GW flight stands or similar, themselves glued to 40mm square card bases to match the FFG bases. Large ships (the transport and the Falcon) are on 80mm square bases, whilst the corvette is big and mean enough to cope without (plus the scenario rules I've downloaded effectively treat the ship as "terrain" with the fighters moving around it).

The Falcon and transport bases made use of some "Magnetix" toy pieces - the ships have large ball bearings glued through the lower hulls whilst the bases are the magnetix stalks glued to the cardboard sheet. In the case of the Falcon this gives it a gimballed mount so the ship can be displayed at a variety of angles (an unintended consequence, but most pleasing).

Anyway, here;s the fleet assembled. Now I just need t make stat and manoeuvre cards for them all (plus work up stats for some of the non-standard ships!)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Through the Barricades

Colds, work and family stuff have kept me away from doing much painting and gaming recently, but one thing I have managed to finish is a pile of barricades from Peter Pig. I've been after some decent urban barricades for my SCW collection for some time and so martin's recent release was just the ticket. I was given a couple of sets of these and the log barricades by a friend at Warfare a few weeks back and I've just finished them off.

Now they may be bit "mundane" compared with figures, tanks, ships and suchlike but they are a very necessary piece of terrain and, in true PP style, they have come out very nicely. I painted them overall dark earth, picked out various boxes, barrels, logs  bags and furniture in a variety of colours including a pink mattress), black washed, dry brushed and varnished. The result is, I think, quite pleasing.

Now all I need is an opportunity to give them a run out.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


A few weeks back I helped run a Wings of Glory participation game at Warfare. one of our group had a model of a British coastal airship which we intended using in the game.Alas Don was taken ill and had to leave before we could do so. But I thought it would be handy to have one of my own. So I contacted the maker, "Clipper1801" (aka "Arizona Dave") from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome. Clipper had one ready to go in an instant, at  avery reasonable price and today a parcel arrived at the residence. Inside I found not only my lovely new airship, but also a brand spanking new scratch-build Dornier RS.III seaplane!

I snapped a picture of the new arrivals here with a couple of 1/1200 models from Rod Langton; a German coastal U Boat and an RN 80' Motor Launch. All of these should, with luck, be appearing at our Wngs of Glory participation game at Penarth next month.

SSZ 65 arrives in Gloucestershire after her transatlantic flight

Also arriving today, a couple of new arrivals for X Wing. But more of this later......

Saturday, 1 December 2012

X Wing

 If you saw my post from Warfare a couple of weeks back you'll know that I came back with a copy of the new X Wing miniatures game. Now I've always loved Star Wars (at least the "original" three movies) and I've had a collection of Micro Machines and other SW models stashed away with various plans for them that never came to fruition. Anyway, I liked what I read in the game and splurged on a  few more starter sets and some extra fighters (a TIE Advanced and a couple of Y Wings) - for the standard ship types - X Wings and TIES - it is FAR cheaper to buy them in the boxed sets as the models are retailing for about £11 each, plus of course you get extra sets of dice (which cost around a fiver for a set, and you really need at least 2 sets) manoeuvre templates, markers, etc.

Official minis with my a small part of my existing SW collection

So, this Wednesday the local Wings of War group met at my place, our regular meeting place at the Mall in Cribbs causeway being closed. And a few of the guys decided they'd like to give the new game a spin (its been slagged off by some WoW/WoG fans as being a "clone" of the WW1 and WW2 aerial game). So the biplanes stayed under the table this time, the starfighters came out and the room was suddenly full of Star Wars quotes, made all the more humorous when Laura burst in to moan about something and we realised she shared more than a few characteristics with Chewbacca (don't tell her!). We didn't think too much about the scenario as it was a training mission, and we didn't use the optional extras, so my poor Y Wing was rather undergunned and only narrowly survived the game as Chris' X Wing charged about fending off the attacking TIEs.

The verdict? - Excellent! Everyone wanted to play again and Chris is looking to pick up a few sets himself. On the "clone" issue, and as seasoned WoW/WoG players, we came down on the side of "not". Yes, there are similarities in packaging and basing, but then again there didn't appear to be any sensible alternatives. The game system itself is different and far better suited to the setting than I think a game based on WoW would be (I know there are some variants out there and they are good ones, but I think this works better). Movement actually feels a bit smoother than WoW, certainly easier to adjudicate and without some of those physics defying manoeuvres that WoW is famous for (although physics is hardly a pre-requisite for a good SF game). The combat system is great. At first reading it sounds like a handful with all sorts of modifiers to numbers of dice thrown, modifying results for this and that, but its really very effective and extremely quick to pick up. Good use of game-specific dice (they seem to be all the rage these days) and nice variation in the fighter stats depending in the pilot, a feature that WoW misses unless you get some of the optional extra ace skill cards. Oh, and the models are lovely. I hope they keep the standard up in later releases and don't end up with more "toy"ish models as the later WoW models tended towards. The only thing we felt it missed was a "tailing" rule. Aww well, something to think about for a house rule :)

Anyway, it was a big hit. We agreed that games need to be mission based (as WoW games) to give them focus, and what was needed were ships to escort or intercept, targets to recce, mines to clear etc. and as luck would have it I uncovered my old box of Micro Machines yesterday so we now have TIE bombers and interceptors, A and B Wings, Lambda Shuttles, the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1 (the official minis are delayed until February), and a rebel transport and Correllian Corvette (the latter is about a foot long and will be familiar to players of James Clay's Star Wars game from a decade or so back)

Micro Machines vs. Official. The quality of the latter shines through. But for games with younger or less dextrous players the bendy MM machines might be a better bet. Size wise - pretty good.

"The first transport is away!" Obvious scale issues here, but it'll do for now. Also the B Wing could be bigger, and I'm guessing the official model will be quite a beast!