Monday, 31 January 2011

Catching Up

I needed some quiet time to clear my head after an intense week at work. So I've been relaxing by painting a few spare Platoon 20 Falklands Brits over the past couple of days as they are always a joy to paint.

I have to also confess to having fun converting a couple of packs of Tony's Falklands War Argentinians. As i handled the models, inspiration and potential just oozed out of each figure. British armed civilians/militia, a Mod revivalist gang and sundry plain clothes police/gangsters/gunmen, all are possible. It was really difficult to know where to start.....

Hands up, I'm further behind than I had hoped. But I have heads lopped off, weapons moved or changed and extraneous kit removed. I aim to have at least some painted and based by end of this week. A couple of the heads were difficult to remove without destroying the the parka hood, there was blood. but the final results were more than worth it. And if you want some British post apocalypse (Twilight 2000 etc) 'survivalists' these Platoon 20 minis make a superb base for conversion.

Following on from Mike's post, I contacted Shaun at S&S Models and put my name down for two Fox armoured cars. You can see the masters for the Stalwart, Abbot SG and Centurion AVRE here:!cpZZ1QQtppZZ16. Shaun emailed me by return with his catalogue and to say that the Fox should be available at the end of Feb. Something definitely to look forward to.

Maff picked up a couple of additional packs of Combat Miniatures (ex-Hotspur) Mountain and Artic Warfare Cadre Marines for me. They are all in winter kit, wearing berets, scarves etc. Despite the fact they are mostly armed with M16 & 203s, plus 66mm LAW and a L4 Bren,  if you wanted one pack of miniatures to respresent rebel regular infantry - it has to be these guys. I'm going to convert them into SLRs and Sterlings and mix in with other ex-Hotspur Falklands minis kindly provided by Mike.

For now, that largely rounds off my figure purchasing for Winter of 79. Plenty to be getting on with - lot's of conversions to do, a little bit of sculpting and a wait until Rolf releases his two packs of Britain in the 'Meltdown' armed civilians (URBUKMG & URBUKSLR).


Thursday, 27 January 2011

S&S models

Chaps there is a thread over on The guild, where Shaun from S&S is taking suggestions and orders for potential new models. When the amount of orders reaches 15 the item goes into production. The Fox and Stalwart are already in pre-production stage.

RH Models SAS/Rebels

SAS5 from RH Models. Despite being slightly anarchronistic (ie Gulf War 1), I really these figures. Maff's already got them cornered as Free Taff Special Forces.

Very versatile miniatures, ideal for a host of special forces or post apocalyptic scenarios. Rolf sells these in a variety of packs with alternative heads too - bareheaded, commando caps, berets, bush hats and arab.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Platoon 20 Armed Civilians

Following on from my previous post, I thought it was a good opportunity to also show the male armed civilian packs from Tony at Platoon 20.

 Platoon 20: P-CV1

The figure on the left is one of my favourites in the Platoon 20 range. His late nineteen seventies, early eighties moustache and coiffure just rocks. There's something about his authoritative build and stance that makes him a powerful character on the tabletop. I see him as armed pub landlord, an SAS commander in the style of 'Colonel Dempsey' commander, local industrialist etc. Ideally for Winter of '79 he should be armed with an SLR, Sterling or double-barrelled shotgun - nothing insurmountable. Best way to paint him as I see it, is with a country large check tweed suit and a deep wine red waistcoat.

Next along is the figure in dinner jacket bow tie. Not many dinner jackets on the front-lines of Borchester - However, in Midsomer Murders and the like, there's very often a professor, college don,  or antiques dealer character representing the local village intelligencia- and their 'uniform' is is often a check jacket, pastel coloured shirt and bow tie. Voila! Professor Plumpton ("in the Library, with a Sterling submachine gun").

The guy with the glasses is an enigma - well not quite, I have plans for him. But you can always paint him with 'Michael Caine' clear specs rather than sunglasses.

The final figure firing? Great action pose - very natural. He's a cop, undercover M15/SAS, armed criminal. Excellent.

Platoon 20: P-CV2

Now, this pack is a mixed bag. The figure on the left is very much a disco-dude, taller than the others, more LA than Lewisham. He's neither Sweeney style criminal or Rozzer. The figure in boiler suit with stocking mask and sawn off shotgun - "you're goin doooown"! Then comes a skinhead with M3 SMG. Finally, a decent figure in denim jacket and pistol useful as cop, robber or revolutionary.


RH Models Armed Civilians

I ordered a couple of packs from RH Models' Urban Terror range to increase the variety of armed civilians in my collection for both Winter of '79 and GEEZERS.  With an eye firmly on Britain in 1979-80 I went for the bareheaded pack in each code. Unfortunately, despite being nice figures in their own right, they mostly don't match with my vision of trouble on the streets of late 1970's Britain.

 RH Models Urban Terror: URBPIST

The figure on the left, might just be OK for Winter of 79 / Geezers if I give him a ski mask and change the machine-pistol in his right hand into a sawn-off shotgun. The kneeling figure with a beard supporting his firing arm can be undercover Special Branch or SAS. The right-hand figure would look good painted in denim but needs to lose a pistol and the pistol in his right hand is anachronistically and untypically British, being fired 'gangsta' style, so will need to be returned to the vertical plane.

RH Models Urban Terror: URBAUG

I have to admit, I bought this pack armed with Steyr/Aug rifles with my tongue firmly in my cheek after seeing a posed publicity photo of 'Bodie and Doyle' poncing with them. The two standing figures could almost pass as B&D in squint mode.

RH Models Urban Terror: URBUZI

I had hoped for more from the Uzi armed figures. Firing from the hip or moving with the Uzi clutched to the waist, as typically seen in photos. Whilst the kneeling figure is very good I'm disappointed by all the waving arms. At least the figure on the right will make the basis of a Wolfie Smith conversion.

I'll add a pack of ISRF8A Israelis with Uzi's to my next order from Rolf. Stripped of military kit and given civilian heads, they'll become heavily armed criminals or lightly equipped terrorists/revolutionaries. Even with just wooly hats added in place of their helmets, there's potential as generic 1970's Special Forces, terrorists or Mercs.

In the meantime, I've asked Maff to pick up another pack of Combat Miniatures' (ex-Hotspur) Urban Operations: Plain Clothes Detectives next time he has the opportunity.

Every figure I received from Rolf has been an outstanding casting. No perceptible mould seam, no flash, no worn mould damage, no slippage. All you need to do is clean the bases and off you go!

Whatever your secret is Rolf - please share it with other manufacturers - or at the very least, their contract casting companies! Well done mate, seriously impressed.


All Ghillied Up!

"50,000 people used to live here" If you are a fan of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, those words will be a familiar echo.

Here are RH Models British snipers in camouflaged ghillie suits, armed with L96 sniper rifles (UK31). For Winter of 79 the L42 would be more appropriate but the L96 as modelled here is a good enough proxy.


Monday, 24 January 2011

The kids are on the street!

Youth sub-culture in late seventies and early eighties Britain was, as you might expect, as mixed and varied as the music of the time - so let's use that as our starting point.

Disco was top of the pops in early 1979. The year began with YMCA from the Village People but disco was a spent force, giving way to New Wave, 2-Tone, Ska and Punk-Mod revival as the year progressed. New Romantics made an early appearance with Adam & the Ants releasing their debut album. Punk suffered a serious blow with the death of Sid Vicious in Feb 1979 from which it wouldn't recover, but would stagger on for a few more years.

Olivers' Army appeared on Elvis Costello's Armed Forces album. Blondie released Heart of Glass, The Boomtown Rats gamed a degree of notoriety with I Don't Like Mondays.

The Jam released Eton Rifles in November followed by The Clash with London Calling in December. Both overshadowed by Pink Floyd's rock-opera protest song "Another Brick in The Wall (Part II)", which struck a cord with youth expressing their rage against the establishment and would sit at No.1 in the UK for 5 weeks. It was a fitting musical finale for the 1970's.

For Winter of '79 I have tentative plans at this stage to concentrate on three of the most distinctive urban tribes, each readily identifiable by their music and dress; making them easily transferable into miniature and bringing character to our tabletop.

Skinheads / "Skins"
 Mods: "Mod-Revivalists"

What was the music of my life in 1979, where I came of age in an irish community in red brick suburbia...... Tom Robinson Band, Siouxsie and the Banshee's, Penetration, Rezillos, Boomtown Rats, The Jam, Clash, Elvis Costello.... and to a lesser degree Blondie. I read NME, bought coloured vinyl, EPs and imports such as The Cramps.

More on the Mods later in the week, as I think they'll be the easiest to get into 20mm and aim to have a go at some conversions using Platoon 20 Argentinians in parkas.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Some Thoughts On Professional Terrain

THE PROFESSIONALS have been playing every day on one of the free digi channels, so it would have been remiss of me not to settle back with a beer to undertake some some vital research!

After a fortnight of dedicated research, I came to the conclusion that my entire strategy for collecting buildings and terrain specially for Winter of '79 was completely wrong.

Instead, I should have invested in one big hoos' in the country (probably Barnet or Walthamstow), a disused and ramshackle ex-army transit camp or aerodrome, and finally the interior of a shabby insurance company office Hammersmith or Wembley. LOL!
The big Hoos' seems to be instrumental in every third plot. It's either the lair of a Bond villainesque rich industrialist-banker, crime boss made good, arms dealer, cabinet minister, foreign diplomat OR it's the target location of the attractive 30 something female witness, rich industrialist-banker (and family)/cabinet minister/foreign diplomat to be kidnapped, rich industrialist/turned crime boss/cabinet minister/foreign diplomat (revolutionary leader) to be assassinated.

Of course, if there's some kind of deal, shipment, exchange, kidnapping - that will take place in the disused and ramshackle ex-army transit camp or aerodrome, whilst any investigation, break-in, goods/information theft will take place at the shabby insurance office.

Wherever the final action scene takes place, there has to be a pile of empty cardboard boxes suitable for ploughing a Ford Capri into. Why oh why does no-one make these in OO-1/76th scale? LOL!

Back to the drawing board.........


Battlefield Evolution: Combat Dissected

What's the appeal of Battlefield Evolution: Modern Combat; even at 99p, beyond that car crash, rubber necking element. Was it worth all the hype and subsequent hoo-haa when the pre-painted plastics went down in flames?

I mean, BevoComMod represents combat ripped from our TV screens, 24 hours a day. High-Tech weaponry vs low-tech tactics in urbanised terrain. Balanced force compositions (by point value) for variety of cutting edge militaries and insurgent factions. Surely a winner?

And it could have been. having had a chance to look through the game, I feel that it wasn't just oversold but wrongly marketed and that Stalingradlike denial turned it into a mockery. But that's all water under Mongoose's bridge.

As a dyed in the wool, "I want to be down in the trenches and bleeding with my miniatures" type of  C20th gamer - Battlefield Evolution should be the complete antithesis of what makes me tick. But what I have found is a slick' game system with just enough chrome in the right amounts that could have given Mongoose, Warhammer Moderns on a plate.....could have.

So, what I am saying is that Battlefield Evolution is a very useful addition to your gaming arsenal. It's easy to learn, relatively slick to use and encourages play. For instance, movement is unfettered by short, described elsewhere as "retardedly short", weapon ranges. All too often other games, including those I've personally sat in, become bogged down by long range fire, or rather, the fear of long range fire. This encourages a 'Panzerbush' mentality with clumps of figures hiding behind hills and trees, maybe taking the odd potshot trying to get that lucky hit. The effect is similar to the scene in THE HURT LOCKER, where the IED team come across an SAS patrol and both have to take cover in a wadi where a long drawn out sniper dual takes place. Realistic - possibly yes, an enjoyable game on the tabletop after a hard day at work - no.

Maff and I were discussing a new (for us) gaming concept recently. Instead of spending hours maneuvering across a table, we started the action at the crucial point of decision and then moved straight to the next point of decision - we called it 'pizza base' gaming. More anon if you are interested. Battlefield Evolution has you moving fast across the table in order bring you into face to to face combat and thus create decision points quickly.

There's no morale. Now be honest. Have you NEVER played a game where you've dropped the morale rules to speed up the game - or perhaps made decisions about morale based on your experience of what is likely to have been the outcome? Battlefield Evolution is about playing and having fun in a way that reminds me strikingly of playing Ghost Recon, GRAW and Call or Duty: Modern Warfare on the XBox. It's the adrenalin rush, the action. Are these console games any less enjoyable because there's no morale check?

There's an inherent honesty about Battlefield Evolution as a game system that promotes play. It's not for everybody. It's not for every gaming situation. Does it have a place in Winter of '79? It doesn't fit my vision as such, but I'm prepared to give it a go, especially for larger urban games.


Saturday, 22 January 2011

Battlefield Evolution Modern Combat

Bought Battlefield Evolution Modern Combat on Ebay at the beginning of the month and it finally arrived on Thursday.

Why Bevo ModCom? Well, it was 99p! Yes, just 99p and I noticed last night that it's on the  ebing sold on the Mongoose Publishing website for £2.99.

Pushing past the publisher's excited hyperbole that prevented me from purchasing Bevo ModCom on release, it does appear to produce a fast paced 'fun' small scale modern combat game in less than two hours.

I've only had a short space of time to look at it this week but I am liking what I see already. No, really! Bevo ModCom is a breath of fresh air in many respects - allowing gamers to fight a wargame with tanks and a'hin 'Airfix style' but with a certain Warhammer twist. Morale? What morale? Your figures are on the table to fight, soldier! And fight they shall!

Is this modern combat? Is it bollocks. If however, you want to get a couple of squads of infantry backed by a handful of tanks onto a tabletop and play the arse out of them with a nod to the 'Airfix games of your youth, yet retain a level of modern gaming sophistication and a little bit of character, Battlefield Evolution Modern Combat might well be worth a go, especially at a knockdown price.


Thursday, 20 January 2011

Fastest 'Arvester in the West (Country)

Picked up two useful toy tractor sets today from a discount store in Aberdeen for £1.99 each.

The red tractor with mechanical farming gazzubins will become cover on the farm or maybe a roadblock in a country lane. Who knows, might even be a game objective in it's own right. The green tractor, will become an improvised armoured vehicle with the aid of plastikard, similar to those found in former Yugoslavia.


Hoped to have made a start on this fun little project this evening, but I'm exhausted to be homest due to extra early starts and intense days in the office this week. Anyhoo...the bales were a find on Ebay for a couple of pence and waiting for me when I got home. Notionally they are Britains 1/32nd scale Farmyard products. Hay bales can be large and these don't look too out of scale for the overall effect I'm trying to achieve. Eg, a pile of farm clutter and cover. Conversely OO scale ones can look too small. Incidentally, the figure is a kneeling 20mm 'Charlie G' No.1 from Tony at Platoon 20.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Argyll's Radioman

"Sunray, this is Foxtrox. CONTACT! Out....."

Ex-Hotspur (Combat Miniatures) radioman. The original beret head had the earphones over both ears. I've modelled this one with the earphone above the right ear so he can still hear what's going on. I'm biased, but my favourite figure of the bunch.

That's the Argyll foot patrol complete. Still need a GPMG gunner for a full section, but as it stands, they are ready to do battle as is. As soon as I get a suitable model I'll add  it to the squad. In the meantime I'll work on a dedicated section leader figure.

I've had one of those road to Kathryn Jenkins moments recently. I used to be a real pain in the butt about accuracy - but you know, these days it's more about - does it look right. Yes! Move on! With that in mind, I've decided not to bother with sculpting cap badges or ribbons onto the Glengarry. The badge can be painted and the ribbons won't be noticeable on the table.


More Urban WIP

Figure on the left represents a slight change to my planned snatch squad. This guy represents a 'hero' who has had his helmet/Glengarry knocked off in a scuffle.

Figure on the right is 'Brian' Footie supporter, plus it's winter remember and a little chilly- hence the footie scarf. Had to rebuild his left hand completely. As he is an urban meltdown civvie type - he doesn't know how to hold the SLR correctly.  Has probably forgotten to take the safety off too! And I bet the gas regulator set higher than 3!

The head came from the (RH Models) Aussie NAM SAS. They have a very seventies look about them and this gutsy fella looks like Gareth Hunt. Not too shabby eh?


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Urban Militia WIP

I admit, this guy is a bit tongue in cheek but somehow it works. Perhaps he's a Tory faithful or Man U. supporter? Seriously, just a throw in generic figure to use up all the spare heads and bodies lying on my cutting mat.

Having said that, mucho potential there for taking on Elheim's 20mm Modern Zombies!  

"Them's nae crazed Zombies Ma!
Them's New Romantics"...
"Well Someone's got t' save t' estate Brian!"

Excuse the copious amounts of Blutack - it's Co-op own brand and not very tacky. I bought it for masking my Sci Fi tanks when spraying on wibbly wobbly camouflage. I batch the figures up before gluing them and adding Greenstuff.  I find using the Blu-tack that I quickly learn how small the amount of putty you need to mix is. It also alows me to act on any last minute inspiration and changes.

My GDR Workers Militia from RH Models gave themselves up for a good cause. The class struggle in 20mm Britain.


Trade Union Militia: First WIP

Started on my 1979 Trade Union militia yesterday evening, but Maff rang for a wargames chat, so two large bottles of beer later....called it a night.

The figures are RH Models (Liberation Miniatures) - civilian dress, AK47s and woolly hats - for all the world they look like they are wearing Donkey Jackets and so are perfect for representing manual and blue collar trades. The Mono may have been the 'uniform' of the Trade Unions in the Spanish Civil War, but in my 1979 Britain it's the corporation Donkey Jacket!

I'm slicing, be honest..... snipping, hacking, carving,  the AK47s off the original figures and replacing them with suitable modified SLRs. You can't see it in the photo, but the rifle is tilted slightly to the right. This adds some subtle character to the model. If I find another figure in this pose, I'll have him carrying the SLR across his waist.

Whilst talking with Maff I was absent-mindedly toying with an Indo-Pakistan Bren Gunner from Elheim, and thought - aaaah, I can cut off the Bren LMG and give it to one of the TU Militiamen..... the Elheim Bren is very nicely executed and thankfully equally easy to remove.

To increase the turn-out of the branch, I'm going to add SLRs and the left over British helmeted heads (with and without respirators) to the GDR Workers Militia bodies left from yesterday's head conversions. 

Now, will I ever get some suitable Sterling SMGs for my Trade Union Executive (local branch), 'shock troop'?

"Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here."


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Snatch Squad WIP

I've stopped to watch a couple of episodes of LIFE ON MARS whilst I have me 'oops. Here's the work in progress 'snatch  squad'.

The 'Glengarry' heads are attached with Blutack for now whilst I work out best positioning. May or may not change those heads with respirators to standard helmets and riot visors. Ideally I'd reposition the arms for greater variety but these guys are just a fun aside. Unfortunately they are cast with the right arm attached to the kidney (bum) pouches - more effort than it's worth.

BTW, I recommed the Osprey Elite series  Security Forces in Northern Ireland 1969-92. To my mind it's the best of the Osprey books on the British army of the 70's and 80's. It's also directly relevant to Winter of '79.



The kitchen table this morning. Rest of the Argyll 'brick' underway plus first of the 'snatch squad'. Bodies once again, are all Eureka 1970's British Army Internal Security figures.

Argyll's, Zombie Apocalypse & Toast

You can see an ex-Horspur radioman in beret lying on the right waiting for conversion to join the ranks of the Argylls.

Several of the Eureka helmeted heads wearing respirators left over by the end of this mini-project. So I thought I'd see if they would be useful for making use of the left over RH Models (Liberation Mins.) bodies, in a Winter of '79 Millwall FC militia, Zombie apocalypse, Twilight 2000 sort of of way. Meet Bazza, gun nut and militaria collector - hence the non-regulation respirator (gasmask). He's armed with an AK because it's the weapon of choice when you absolutely, positively, have to kill every benefit scrounging, flesh eating Zombie on the council estate...oh! And New Romantics!


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders WIP No.1

Argyll & Sutherland Highlander conversions starting to take shape.

The body is one of the new Eureka Miniatures 20mm Internal Security Brits. Thank you Mike! The head comes from the RH Models (Liberation Miniatures) GDR Workers Militia.

I'm going to  build up the collar of the Flak vest and fill any gap at the front with simulated scrim netting. That leaves a prominent ASH badge and ribbons on the back of the Glengarry.

Really pleased with the look so far. I'll have half a dozen completed in the next day or so. Maff is off to Penarth at the end of the month so I'll ask him to pick up another pack or two of Combat Miniatures (Stonewall Figures' ex-Hotspur range) 1970's Internal Security British Army. I'll convert one pack from berets into Glengarry heads for a greater range of poses, and convert the other pack using Green Stuff into a foot patrol wearing Tams.


Monday, 10 January 2011

BW Models: Land Rover Series 3 Lightweight VPK Armoured

BW200 in the BW Models range represents the Land Rover Series 3 1/2 ton Lightweight  'locally' uparmoured with the GRP, Vehicle Protection Kit (VPK) and used by the British Army in Northern Ireland from early '70's until 1994.

The model comes in 26 parts including a piece of clear acetate for glazing. Accompanying the kit is a short history of the vehicle, a step by step guide to construction, a list of parts (very useful) and a basic exploded diagram of the model.

First thing I noticed on all three kits was the amount of cleaning up that had taken place prior to shipping. You can clearly see the marks on the body of the vehicle in this photograph.

The filing was so rough that the rear left hand wheel arch has been filed almost all the way up to the side armour - and exposes the vehicle floor when it's attached. The casting finish on this side is poor and will require filling. Especially over the front wheel arch. The door and back of the armoured passenger compartment will require sanding as both have a peeled blister appearance. Take a look at the opposite side of the body below for comparison.

I read on the MAFVA forum that you need to do a couple of dry runs with the parts on the BW Models to make sure they fit correctly before gluing anything place. Believe me, no amount of dry runs will make the back panel of this kit fit. Filing, filling and sanding are the order of the day. REME were probably able to bolt the extra armour onto the real vehicle quicker than it will take me to finish this model!

Now I could live with all that extra but completely unecessary work above. I could even forget about some of it as this is armoured Lightweight is destined to be a hands on wargame model, not a proud display piece. But with the wire mesh windscreen protector (shown above)? All I can think is, your havin' a laugh!

I contacted Barry about these issues. He noted the comments and mentioned that it was a popular kit with 100 being sold and this is the first negative comment received. A full refund upon return of the kit has been offered.

BW200: L/Rover Series 3 L/weight VPK Armoured (N Ireland) £9.50


Friday, 7 January 2011

The British Army 1965-80

Back in the seventies I used to own a copy of Osprey Men-at-Arms series, No.71 The British Army 1965-80.  Long gone.

It's really little more than a list of regiments and cap basges with a briefest of overviews of uniforms. If you see it for a pound or two on eBay, go for it - but pay no more than £2. Personally I think the DPM represented in this Men-at-Arms title as too 'yellow' but I've found this to be a regular conceit amongst illustrators. Back in the late seventies I used the figure on the cover of the book to paint my Airfix 1/32nd scale Modern British Infantry - lovely models.Shame Airfix made no opposition or made these in 1/7nd where they would at least have had a Chieftain and Scorprion/Scimitar to go with. A simple but all too non-existant marketing strategy.

 Airfix 1/32nd Modern British Infantry
Production 1977-1984

A Call To Arms should be releasing 1/72nd scale, yes 1/72nd scale, Modern British Paratroopers later this year, equal in quality to the larger OOP Airfix British. Not surprising as they are based on Britains 54mm SuperDeetail British Paratroopers from 1978, in Combat Dress, '58 webbing and berets. A preview of the full sprue with 8 diffrent poses is available at

With the success of Warhammer and the like if I were in charge at Airfix I'd use the masters for their 1/32nd  ranges to make boxes of 28mm figures. Rant over.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Hobbycraft January Sale

Winter blues gripped the office today, so I went out at lunchtime for some relief from the gloom and ended up in Hobbycraft.

Airfix ex-JB kits Hardtop Landrover at £3.99; Saracen APC, 1 tonne Landrover and  Bedford Tactical Refueller at £4.79 each. Two Saracens in the bag. Result!

A heads up for FOW gamers. The Omaha Beach, D-Day Airborne, Hammer & Sickle and Villers Bocage books were reduced to just £7.50 each. 

Most surprising of all, proudly diplayed on a promotional end were repo old style boxes of Airfix Romans and Ancient Britains at 99p each! £10 and you have two armies for a bit of old fashioned wargaming!Ah the waft of nostalgia... or is that the steak slice from Greggs the Baker.

Modelzone arrived in Aberdeen just before Christmas, so before heading back to the office I thought I'd stop by to check out the Airfix European Ruined Workshop. The new Airfix buildings have useful photos on the back of the box displaying the model from all angles - in this case the workshop is partially destroyed at the rear - nevertheless it looks suitable for any post industrial revolution setting. But before I was tempted to buy it - I found a Hornby OO scale (fully painted and assembled) Compressor House for just £12.99, reduced from around £21. I couldn't not buy it could I, even if it means cuppasoup for the rest of the week.

The stock photos belie the building's functionality as a workshop on an old farm, in a railway siding or colliery. Or, we could add that Hovels destroyed chimney for a Stoke on Trent pottery or similar. In my case, it's destined to become part of Borchester Council Depot. That Airfix Ruined Workshop would complement it nicely but so too would a modern corrugated shed, a Portakabin or two, pallets, skips and the ubiquitous piles of old road signs and metal scrap one sees.


Phil Barker at The Sharp End

Following a heads up from Rolf Hedges, I took a look at Phil Barker's Modern skirmish rules for asymmetric warfare. You can download a free copy by clicking on this link [The Sharp End].

I've only read through so far and found a lot that I like. I can honestly feel my Catterick days coming back as I thumb through. Which takes me to the excellent School Days, Army Days, etc blog. Don't look at the text - you can go back and read it afterwards - just look at the photos and picture this as a squaddie's private journal of patrolling Borchester and district in Winter of '79.

There was an interesting thread on TMP from Pete Murray who playtested The Sharp End. And Bob Cordery has some photos of a game in action at COW on his interesting Wargaming Miscelleny blog. I passed up The Sharp End when I first heard about it - there being so many Modern rules available, you can spend all your time flitting from one set to another without getting to grips with them and to know them well enough to have an enjoyable game that just reached that effortless state of flow.

I'm glad that I took the time to look over The Sharp End. I can't tell you whether it's good or else yet - it may be we just nick elements for our games. But, it's just piqued my interest and speaks to me direct from the page.


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

New 70's Cops from Elheim

Matt at Elheim has released a pair of '70's undercover cops COPS04 for £1.38.

They look from the photo to be pretty much nondescript 70's/80's guys with guns so can also be used as undercover SAS, terrorists, freedom fighters, criminals etc.


New Year Workbench

I'm finding myself doing more and more work in the kitchen nowadays instead of the study. Consequently had to take a break over the Christmas holidays as the table was full of festive decorations in true Griswald Family Christmas style.

Back to normal now, I'll be working on some headswops this week - turning a selection of the Eureka troops in Internal Security order into Paras (for Mike) and others into Scots to mix and match as required with the guys in helmets.

I had started on some Glengarry headwops a couple of months back but found the heads on Britannia's WW1 Highland Light Infantry very difficult to remove (no necks). Plus, the heads are also a bit jowly and would need their herculean jaws filed down. Then the current shite at work about the longevity mine and 800 others jobs intervened, so they were put to one side in a box and forgotten.

In the meantime, I picked up some East German Workers Militia from Rolf Hedges. These are really nice figures - perfect for Twighlight 2000, industrial Neo Soviet Sci Fi revolts and similar.

GDR (East German) Workers Milita

Looking closely at the guys in sidecaps last week I thought, hang on! Add a big badge on the side and a couple of ribbons at the back and we have a pretty decent Glengarry. Maybe not 100% accurate but looks good enough to me. [Update].... So I'll be cutting these heads off and placing them on British Squaddie torsos.

Photos of these plus the first of my BW Models reviews later this the week.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Pre-Printed Cut and Assemble Villages

Full colour pre-printed educational 'Cut and Assemble' model buildings are a cheap and effective way of getting terrain on your tabletop.

I'm a big fan of these. A wide range of historical building types are available at a third of the price commonly sought by the model railway market.

For Winter of '79, I want to bring to your attention two sets by Dover Publications in particular. Unfortunately both are out of print but can be bought second hand at a reasonable price, if you ignore and step past what some book collectors are trying to charge for 'new' copies. These models are HO scale which is slightly smaller than 1/76th. Don't worry though, it's a positive as the models fall between 20mm and 15mm scales so unless you are a fussy bugger, can be used with both.

The Cut & Assemble Old English Village In Full Colour (Michael Grater & Marc Sewell, 1986) gives you a timeless country village that you could find anywhere in Southern England. It's a bit Miss Marpleish and more suited to VBCW, but I walked through many just like this in 1978 when I did the South Downs Way.

The 48 page set includes a village church, pub, post office and 5 other houses, plus walls and other village paraphanelia to make up the '12 Buildings and Structures'.

I picked up my copy in a book clearance for around £2/$3. Dog-eared at the corners but didn't effect any of the buildings.

To complement the English Village, Dover also published Cut & Assemble an Old Irish Village (Edmund V Gillon Jr, 1991). This has 5 buildings and a renaissance tower. It reminds me of villages on the road to Braemar, so could equally be used in a Scottish setting. Available second-hand for around £7/$10 - bargain.

You could extend both sets with maybe a download and print or Superquick (etc) card country garage, school or maybe some more modern detached houses.

Happy Hunting!


Another Free Victorian Terraced House to download

I found a further great free download resource. Mike at has this great high quality FREE brick terrace to download and print.

Even if you are not interested in Terraced Houses, the last two pages of different high quality traditional and modern windows and doors are worth checking out as they will allow you to ring the changes to this model and improve other paper/card or even your own scratchbuilt model houses.

Mike has also produced two types of brick design on paper to download - just choose the scale you want (4mm for 1/76). I'm really impressed by Mike's efforts. The finish is very professional and I would encourage you to donate a couple of quid via Paypal to say "Thank you" for his efforts and encourage future production.


Saturday, 1 January 2011

Free Brick Terrace Cottage Downloads

To herald in the New Year, thought I'd share with you these FREE download and print 00 scale brick bruildings designed by Mike Martin. Ideal for Winter of '79, VBCW etc.