Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

2013: The uprising continues

"We think we've started a revolution by mistake"

 All the best for the year ahead!
 Slainte, Cheers
Mark, Maff & Mike 

The Scottish Play: The Runner

'Mac', Major Iain Frasier MacDuff, Royal Marine Commandos was running. It was what he did to help him think. He always wore his boots to run - out of principle - but tonight he'd picked up his "special" Bergen and was pounding around the periphery of the airstrip in the rain with a pack filled with taped up 2 pound sand 'bricks'. "Daft sod" muttered a bootie on patrol as Mac hammered past splattering puddles.

Major MacDuff was miles away back in the green, back in 'Indo'. Back when Roddy McBeath was another wet behind the ears candidate at Lympstone and MacDuff a sgt about to get selected for officer training. They found themselves in the same 'batch' and surprisingly became bloody good mates. 'Indo' cemented that friendship; then Roddy had got hitched, basically to a bottle of gin - a pretty one though. Eventually Roddy left the Royals for civvie street and gradually they had drifted.

The MacDuff's, there was Mikki now, still sent an Xmas card and sometimes him and Mikki called in on the McBeath's when they were on a rare foray to Aberdeen but as Mikki said - "it's like sitting in a fridge. With an acid tongued cow who still thinks I'm just a WO2's daughter."

Then this....

He'd been in the duty room, talking bikes with the scaleys and winding up Adjutant Rory when the phone rang. "Major MacDuff? Your wife, for you sir" the orderly was still cautious about him.  

MacDuff: "Mikki? What's so urgent?"

Mikki: "There's been a terrible shooting. It's on the News. The head of The Cawdor Group and his wife have been murdered. It's not Roddy is it?"

MacDuff: "No. No, I don't think so. I know he's on the board now, but.....? Have they said who or where?"

Mikki: "They were having dinner..." There was genuine concern in her voice. But he knew it was more a concern for him through his friendship than for Roddy and 'Viv'.

MacDuff: "Look, keep me posted of any developments and we'll talk when I get off duty."  He put down the phone pensively. There was a moment's silence. Quizzical faces were looking at him. "Rory. Tell Tom to put his boys on alert. One hour standby. Warm up the alert flight too. There's been an oil related incident in Aberdeen. Possibly nothing but just in case it's part of something bigger we don't want to be caught with our arses hanging out."

Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Scottish Play: The Dinner

Vivian McBeath looked her most stunning. She flirted with Banks from the moment he appeared at the door. Over dinner every movement was calculated. Every toss of the head, every coy glance. Good old Vivian he thought. Using everything in your armoury to get your way.

Roddy laid out the full proposal. He began with "Just suppose..." What followed was a long term plan aimed at gaining power within Cawdor and with that, a powerful political hand to play in the formation and running of a newly independent Scotland. 

Vivian sent Roddy to the kitchen to take food and a hot drink out to Bank's man in the car. "John", she took him by the hand and placed the other hand on his thigh. "You are a man of action. I know I can rely on you. I have important friends waiting to help. Together we can make this happen. But Duncan must go."

By the time Roddy had returned. Vivian and Banks were composed and smoking in the lounge. Banks downed his whiskey and began "Well, just supposing of course....." then laid out his operation plan of who, what and when.

Vivian: "And your men?"

Banks: "We've been through a lot together and they are loyal to me. If I'm with you, they will be too. The key to this is Frasier. With the Royals behind us, we have a military power base and even some legitimacy. I'll broker a meeting but you need to win him over, as I'm sure you will" Looking directly at Vivian. "Plus you two have history" motioning towards Roddy. "Given the shit the country's in right now, bringing stability is right up Mac's street."


As they leave, Colin thanked Banks for the scran and got the response "Don't thank me. Thank Viv."

Colin replied: "She's a classy bit of stuff. Real lady..... So, did you get yer knee trembler then boss?"

Banks didn't answer. The unspoken part of the plan was coming together in his head.

The Scottish Play: The Car

Banks opened the passenger door to be hit by a strong smell of Indian cooking "Smells worse than an Indian whorehouse!" Two flimsy bags with takeaway meal containers sprawled against the back seat. An empty foil container already sat crumpled on the dashboard.

Banks "Where's mine?" At that moment both rear doors opened. Sandy and Bruce got in simultaneously. The doors were barely shut before Colin gunned the engine and roared off down Crown Street heading out of the city.

Colin: "How was your old pal then? Everything on the up?" The others were divvying the food as he spoke.

Banks: "Yep. Had a job offer for us. How would you gentlemen like to moonlight as security consultants and make some money from this oil bonanza?"

Bruce: "What! Every part-time secretary is driving a convertible in this town?  I want some of that!"

Banks over his shoulder, "How were things at the house?"

Sandy "Quiet. She's a looker apparently. Spent most of the evening on the phone with a drink in her hand." Banks amused himself with the thought 'no change there then'.

Iain had watched the house. To his neighbours and current workmates he was a roughneck. He'd been on the Thane exploration rig when the discovery was made. He was on rotation, this was his leave, and tonight of all nights, he had sat in his Astra with a pair of high powered binoculars, a flask and a cheese and pickle sandwhich, watching some posh bird when he could have been out hitting the town with Kim. 

The Cortina kept just within the speed limit as it sped down the A92 towards Stonehaven, then Montrose and finally Arbroath. The men inside were wolfing down their Indian scran using the Nan to scoop from each others foil containers.


Whitehall. The lights are burning late in D Wing.

SigInt: "Sorry to bother you sir. Message from Cauldron regarding Banquet."  He hands over a transcript.

Nigel: "At last. Let's see. Good. Good! Tony, arrange breakfast with the Minister. The witches are in play"

The Scottish Play: The Flat

Banks made a show of leaving. McBeath was in no doubt that everyone in The Grill was aware that they were "going for a curry".

A crowd was assembling outside the Music Hall.  They joined the pedestrian traffic on their side of the street as if heading for the crossing to go and see whatever was on. McBeath remembered one of his secretaries getting excited at seeing Phil Lizzy? or someone similar appearing at the venue earlier in the year.

Banks took his arm and made a show of gesturing in the direction of the Indian restaurant. Banks kept up the chatter as they walked along Union Street. McBeath went to look over his shoulder.

Banks softly said "Colin is with me." At Bridge Street they stopped outside the entrance to the Indian. Banks scoured the menu and pointed at a couple of dishes. "Fancy a kebab instead?" McBeath did his best to keep up with the charade and let Banks lead. Half way down Bridge Street, Banks said "You've got a flat in town. Let's go there. Im sure you'll have a good drinks cabinet."

They cut back on themselves by the 'Pally'. At the bottom of Windmill Brae Banks stopped to light a cigarette. He patted his pockets "What ya know, no matches" and stopped Colin, to all intents and purposes a passerby, with good natured gestures and as Colin lit his cigarette, Banks reeled off a list of Indian dishes....."and don't forget the Nan!"

McBeath's flat was in Crown Terrace. It was everything Banks expected. High ceilings, tasteful decoration. Vivian's hand no doubt. He had hoped there would be a mini bar with optics on the wall and high stools, but was to be disappointed. The contents of the drinks trolley however, did not disappoint.

Banks settled back in one of the plush armchairs "So, what's it to be Roddy?"

McBeath looked at John Banks. Captain John Banks, Boat Troop, 22 Special Air Service Regiment, formerly Royal Marines; then at the floor, before drawing a long breath, "These are troubled times. Men who know each other need to stick together. Make the most of whatever opportunities come their way....."

Captain Banks listened. McBeath was offering a job. A very well paid job as private security consultant to the Cawdor Group. He could name his own terms, hire his own team. His men. Known men. He could stay in the military, for now. But there was more, couched in veiled terms and he started to build a picture of what McBeath was saying. Banks was not slow to pick up. He could spot an opportunity and he was always ready to jump on an opportunity.

McBeath came to an end, "Think it over carefully and then come out to the house for dinner."  Banks smiled internally. Ah, Vivian's behind this he thought and he wondered if she was still as big a flirt after a drink or two.....

The Scottish Play: The Meeting

The Grill was busy as usual. The long, dark mahogany bar accommodated dozens of jostling elbows amid a forest of pint glasses and the occasional whiskey chaser. Cigarette smoke hung in clouds adding to the unmistakable air of masculinity.

The patrons were a mixed crowd. Printers, shunters and posties at the end of their shift. A couple of solicitors from Golden Square were having a quick one before heading home. Roughnecks wetting their neck before going on the piss in Union Street and a few, mostly older men, who were ensconced for the night.

McBeath had invited a couple of his key employees at Cawdor for a quick dram. He had a taste for Malt and this was the place in Aberdeen to come for a real drink. Being a traditional galley bar, you could see everyone and conversation was lost amidst the dense concentration of voices. Whilst they drank, talked and laughed in self congratulation at their big oil find, McBeath was able to quietly monitor the comings and goings in the pub.  When they made to leave, McBeath made an excuse to stay "last one for the road before I have to face the wife's cooking", and took a vacant seat with an eye on the door, one of the few seats in the pub. He kept the chair next to him free with a double malt left tactically on that edge of the table that was little bigger than a dinner plate.

He took a pint and drank it slowly, in part to keep his wits, in part to steady his nerves. Banks was late. Ten minutes had gone by and McBeath started to feel on edge. The place would start to fill shortly with people trying to get a drink before going to the Music Hall across the street.

Suddenly Banks sweeps in, his open trenchcoat following him. "Roddy!"  He appears like a genie out of a lamp. A larger than life character and downs the double waiting for him in a single gesture of satisfaction. "Another one?" Not waiting for an answer he efficiently parted the bodies at the bar and returned with two glasses. McBeath had missed the man who slipped in unnoticed in Bank's wake and positioned himself at the bar.

Banks, emphasising his Glasgae patter kept up the loud and ebullient long lost friends meeting up routine till any listeners got bored, and then suddenly switched to a lower, more serious tone, "So, what does the hero of the hour want with an old warhorse like me.....?"


Friday, 28 December 2012

Behind Every Successful Man...

Shares in North Sea Oil leapt today following the announcement that The Cawdor Group, the largest oil and gas company based in Scotland have discovered new oil reserves estimated at 200 million barrels in the Thane Field, located in deep waters to the east of the Shetland Islands.

Roddy McBeath, head of the exploration arm of The Cawdor Group, was appointed to the board upon the announcement of the fresh oil discoveries. Despite setback after setback, Mcbeath maintained faith in the Thane field and despite criticism from within the higher echelons of the Group continued with exploration.....

"Duncan this, Duncan that, that's all I bloody hear from you. You should be Vice Chairman. Hell! You should be Chairman of Cawdor by now! But no, always playing by the bloody rules. Is that what they taught you in the Marines?"

"It's about time you were promoted to the board. Don't you see....Duncan has deliberately kept you down. Look....darling. You are a name now in all the right circles. Duncan is going to ensure you don't upstage him but you know, Scotland is crying out for a leader. Cawdor oil gives Scotland a future, an independent future and someone has to take the helm".

"You still have connections. Friends in the Marines. And you will have many more friends and connections in high places now. The RIGHT kind of friends. People listen to you. Thane has shown you to be a man with guts, prepared to do the right thing and see it through..... Plus, you were decorated in Indonesia. That's got to be worth something". 

"You have to think higher now. Think in political terms, not be content to remain a pawn in petty board room shenanigans...... oh, I know you think I'm a grouch..... I need another drink. Are there any more spirits in the house?"

Returning, glass in hand.....

"Frasier is still in the Marines isn't he? Banks is too, and he's in Arbroath. They're not playing by the rules these days and they are bound to support you. I'll support you. The man I married. The man who was prepared to take risks for what was right. And this darling is right. Right for you, right for US, right for this nation. You are that man......aren't you?"

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The Scottish Powerplay; Prologue

Minister: "Nigel, spot of Cabernet?" 

Nigel: "Thank you Minister. Half a glass if you please. On duty. Derek here (standing off camera) is from the Policy Coordination Unit with your Scots briefing"

Minister: "Well, lead on Macduff"

Derek: Unsure at last remark "yessir. Minister...The position in Scotland is somewhat fluid. The vast majority want independance in some form and yet there is no clear sign of a common force emerging - unlike in Wales. The Scot players, frankly, seem to be more concerned with the who gets what regarding the oil revenues than how they actually get it. There are significant forces available but as yet they have not really taken a grip. Excuse me for saying, but with the collapse of legitimate centralised government eminating from Whitehall, there is a power vacuum - it's just a question of  who takes over".

Minister: Motioning around "Does this look like a collapse to you.... err, Derek?"

Nigel: "Yeees, thank you Derek - you have another briefing perhaps?"

Derek: Straightens. "Yes sir. But I should mention Irish Republican involvement on the Clyde and increasing Norwegian government uncertainty about the security of the oilfields...."

Minister: "Yes, yes, thank you..."

Derek leaves.

Minister: "Rather nice 'Cab'. I think I'll have a bottle sent to my office".

Nigel: "Minister, we need to get one step ahead of the Scots Nats, create the environment up there and build the battlefield to fight it how we want to fight it".

Minister: "None of that nonsense they ran into in the Welsh Office I hope Nigel? Perhaps something the Army Council will appreciate...?"

Nigel: "Yes Minister".


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

S&S Models: The Ghost of Christmas Past

Christmas Day. Hooray! Lot's to be thankful for this year. My lovely wife, job, being safe and dry, and keeping Mr Reaper at bay for another year.

The gifts come in secondary to all that, but my very welcome wargames haul this year includes the hefty hardback resource  Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain 1974-79 by acclaimed historian Dominic Sandbrook, and a pair of S&S Models latest 20mm Cold War Scorpion CVR(T) beauties from my father-in-law and Scimitar CVR(T) stocking filler from Heather.

The Scorpion CVR(T) seems fitting, almost comforting given the era covered by the book. Shaun has done a wonderful job and the resin/metal model instantly takes me back to school days. Black blazers, the whiff of Airfix cement, and of course Airfix magazine. A quick nostalgic scan of the net this morning showed that I bought my first Airfix Magazine in 1969. Ouch!

The Airfix Scorpion/Scimitar model was released in 1974 and became one of my favourite Airfix kits despite the fact the rubber tracks were always and still are a bitch to put on the model. The main differences visible in Shaun's model are the stowage bins that were very quickly added to vehicles in the field, but overall it retains the same characteristic Scorpion signature. Classic. Am very pleased.

Well Christmas is about to kick off big time here. Hope you have a great day yourselves.

Cheers, Slainte

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Whilst I'm reaching the very end of my reserves as the working year comes towards an end, my Winter of '79 Paras are building up their reserves for the year ahead.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Maff for being a good mate as always. Major Mike for your support and a special mention to avid follower Mark Hickman for re-engergising us.

Whether you are a follower of Winter of '79 or have just stumbled on this page looking for a rock tribute band, we hope you get to share the day with the one/s who mean the most to you and for whom you mean the most. We want to wish you and your families a Very Happy Christmas!

If you are checking the net on Christmas Day, pop by to share a virtual dram and I may have some new models to share with you.

Cheers & All the Best!

Monday, 17 December 2012


Conversion-fest last night. Got carried away and as a result, produced this nice little Scottish cameo piece from a bald-headed Chechen fighter. I'm really proud of how the Tam turned out and even added a tourrie and ribbons for added Gaelic flair!

Update: Unfortunately, he is one of a large number of figures sent to Mark Hickman in Dorset to be painted which were never returned.

And, just pulled this photo off the mobile. I wanted to mash up the figures that I had available, mixing pistols and rifles, gasmasks and scarves, helmets, berets and bareheads to create that truly desperate Popular Front or militia look.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Platoon20 Urban Geezer Conversion

Over the past two years I've picked up four packs of  Armed Civilians/Terrorists (P-CV1) from Tony at Platoon 20. and set myself the challenge to make the four base figures as different as possible with the minimum of effort.

Sure, pushing the putty you can give them different jackets, different weapons etc, but sometimes, simple works.

Playing around with the figures in this classic pack, I've found that just taking the heads off and repositioning them makes a huge difference to how they look. whilst a simple headswop creates a whole new figure.

Best figure of the bunch is probably Man in zipper jacket, firing 9mm Browning HP pistol, two handed. He is an incredibly versatile miniature. A beret and he's a Spanish Civil War International Brigader or a 1960's Latin guerrilla. A balaclava and he's SAS or 70's terrorist. In this case I've given him a Liberation Minis head with knitted hat to create a more Geezers' blokey look. 


Call of Duty: Festive Cheer

Saturday didn't quite go to plan. Well, not my plan at least. Up early and off on the annual odyssey to find the perfect Christmas Tree. If you have visions of the Griswold Family Christmas Tree, not far wrong. We returned with a seven foot monster that the King of Norway would be proud of.

I started converting some more Winter of '79 figures this morning but lost the thread amongst the household chaos being wrought by the tree, lights, baubles and general melee of festive decorations. Following a small intervention...I settled back down and switched to a box of spare Call of Duty:Modern Warfare figs that needed cleaning and prepping. In this case Wartime Miniatures, Modern Russians. They were originally bought with the intention of creating a Desanti force for Battlefield Evolution: Modern Warfare, supported by S&S Models' BMDs and T64Bs.

The Call of Duty:Modern Warfare spares box also had a pack of Liberation Miniatures guys in bandanna with AK47, cracking figures, and some MJ Figures Mercs with AK47. I picked out the best of both. Some bandanna guys will be slid into the Desanti force above but the rst along with the MJ Mercs, will become local Caucasus militia/rebels with a track/shellsuit look. Need more RPG!

A few Liberation Modern Russians with caps and SVD/PKM were lurking and are now going to join the Desanti, but I removed the heads from the figures with AKs for future use elsewhere.

 My existing stash from Liberation Miniatures
Needs more Snipers and RPGs

 All in all, the Russians proved to be a welcome distraction. But back now to my Winter of '79 conversions.


Friday, 14 December 2012

I Wanna Be..... Anarchy

 A tiny bit of left over Green Stuff prompted me to give this errant guy from Platoon 20 a Mohican! I rolled the Green Stuff into a 'sausage', flattened, shaped and cut to length.

Moulding the Green Stuff around his head I used a toothpick to gently tease the base of the Green Stuff down onto his scalp and smoothed out to give a firm grip. If I can summon up a spare Sterling, I'll change his weapon. Might even look at giving him an SLR.



Thursday, 13 December 2012

3rd Man in the Kebab House

Linda: "Well, I guess it's getting late. Thank you for such a wonderful evening".

John: "Yes, I enjoyed myself too...., you're right, I have to be available for ops tomorrow...."

Linda: "Ops?"

John:  Leaning forward to finish his drink, responding nonchalantly. "Operation".

Linda: "I, I thought you were an Estate Agent, did I get that wrong? Are you telling me you are some kind of doctor?"

John: Sitting back heavily in his seat and let's out a sigh. No, I....well I guess the cat's out of the bag. I shouldn't really say. Official Secrets and all that....

Linda: "Say what?"

John: "I was warned about this. In the training. Beautiful woman. Lovely evening. Alcohol. But I've had such a great time and you, well, are such a great reason to be alive..... the Kebab House.

Linda: "What about it? Were you involved"

John: Hangs head. "It was rough. God I need to talk to someone. Look this is completely confidential I shouldn't be telling you this and you must promise that you don't tell anyone. But I really need to talk about it with someone who can understand".

Linda: "Yes, Yes...."

John: "My name is not really John. It's a cover. My real name is Simon. I am in the Territorial SAS and well, with the regulars being so stretched with the war in Wales I am called on to do my bit".

Linda: Gasp "Simon"

John/Simon: "We were called in to do the Kebab House job. Did you see it on the Telly? (she nods),The guys in black gear and masks (nods again).  I was the 3rd man in the Kebab House. Maybe you saw me? Flashlight on my right hip. It's my trademark".

Linda: "Oh my God! I didn't realise. Yes. Yes I remember seeing you. My poor thing...... you were so brave. Oh it must have been horrible. Look Simon, perhaps, if you want to and you won't get into trouble, I'll get us a nightcap......"

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

More Conversions.....

As I had the mobile handy, some of last weekend's conversions still on the workbench. First, my Para commanders. The figure I'm holding is a Britannia BAOR platoon leader with head replaced  from a spare Liberation mini and given a hood from Green Stuff. The two commanders on the cutting mat are both Liberation helmet command with heads nicked from beret toting riflemen.

Next up, the Taff Guards GPMG conversion on an MJ Figures Tom. The GPMG came from a Britannia half figure that's included with their open top FV432.

Update: Unfortunately, they are part of a large number of figures sent to Mark Hickman in Dorset to be painted which were never returned.

I cut off the GPMG at the wrists of the doner figure, leaving the hands holding the weapon. Then cut the SLR off the MJ recipient at the wrists, leaving the butt tucked into the arm. The dry run produced an almost perfect fit. Once glued, I applied a 'sleeve' of Green Stuff to hide the join of the GPMG breech and new butt. Now build up the cuff and forearm of the left arm. Done! Easy way to fill a gap in the TOE and create a nicely dramatic figure to boot.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

OK, I admit.... I took out the Elheim Patrolling Infantry Section with every intention of lopping their heads off.  Only, I find myself quite absent mindedly placing them into arrowhead formation on the dining table. And in that moment an image is conjured up of a modern production of Shakespeare, set in 1979. Well if they can do it to Coriolanus...

Result, I decided to re-role my remaining CP Models (TQD Castings) 1/72 British Army Falklands War SAS into Shakespearean military rebels with new heads taken from various Liberation Miniatures.

And then to Platoon 20. Here's 'Big Man', a serious Glaswegian player for the coming 'Scottish Play'. Which reminds me to order the figs tonight. His original head, wearing glasses, is now on the advancing SLR armed civvie in the background.

Back to the production line.....


Monday, 10 December 2012

Cracking On!

 The Maroon Machine

Wargaming is a tonic for the soul. Official! This has been one of my most productive weekends this year if not more, and as a consequence I feel relaxed and ready to take on the office again come Monday morning (in about 4 1/2 hours time now).

The Fun Stuff:

Cleaned, prepped and based 16 Welsh Guards, largely based on MJ Figures but with a couple of ex-Hotspur thrown in for command. The Guards include a number of conversions to British Army cold weather caps taken from ex-Hotspur Operation Corporate figs. One private underwent a delicate conversion to a GPMG gunner, using the GPMG surgically prised from a half figure supplied with Britannia Miniatures open back FV432.

I really do like these MJ Figures Falkland War Toms. I can't make up my mind whether my second force of Paras (well, technically my fourth), should be made up from MJ or continue with Rolf's square jawed heroes?

I'm keeping the beret heads from the Welsh Guard conversions above (with more in the pipeline) to replace the helmets on a pack of Elheim's Cold War British Army on Patrol . Might even do a like for like swap on some MJ Toms, giving them helmets to pad out the Taff Guards when required.

FYI, I found that the helmets taken from spare Britannia BAOR figures are cracking when added to both MJ Figures and ex-Hotspur Operation Corporate figures. Will be interesting to see if the helmets from Elheim's Cold War Brits will look as good.

Cleaned a pack worth each of ex-Hotspur Operation Corporate SAS/SBS and M&AWC. The head on the kneeling SBS figure with Sterling was shot, so I cut that off and placed him in the conversion bin till I have decied what to do with him. The standing figure firing a Sterling has all the hallmarks of being a great  personality figure for Welsh Guards hero of Abergavenny, Butch Squires. So he's been popped to one side as he really needs a woolly hat for authenticity.

Whilst talking of heroes, found a perfect match for Garri Wyn, from a CP Models Falklands era SAS 'command' figure with a new head from a suitable Platoon 20 figure. More on creating both these Winter of '79 Welsh heroes in due course.

Other M&AWC figures had their M16s removed in prep for replacing with SLRs to boost my ex-Hotspur Royal Marine platoon

Turned some Platoon 20 Male Armed Civilians into urban rebel command with berets and helmets which nicely contrast with their normal civilian urban attire.

Cut up some spare Britannia BAOR command figures and the best of Rolf's FalkcomH in helmets to give them berets taken from suitable Liberation Minis to create Para command figures. I know Rolf's brought out a pack but these are here in my hand right now.

The Interesting Stuff:

Established a core of 12 figure urban armed civvies during the week. All taken from Liberation Miniatures' URBMELT packs that I already owned, so I added a few helmets taken from other figures.

Created a five figure Union Steward cadre -  two AK47s, two SLR, Sterling - including two conversions. These are to enhance the core armed civvies when necessary. And finally a five figure Tooting Popular Front cadre (excluding Wolfie and Ken) mostly armed with SLRs. Well I felt Wolfie needed some dedicated minions.

That left some civvy bodies with AK47 left over. I have a crazy plan for these but that will have to wait till the Christmas Break. I've offered the remaining URBMELT figures to Maff, who has been working on a uniformed Clash Action Front cadre. 

 The Boring Stuff: 

Actually, not too boring. Watched Dan Snow on TV use satellite imagery to uncover the Roman Empire whilst prepping 20+ Britannia BAOR figures and cleaning up the bases on about the same number of Liberation Minis in berets. Just in case I go down the route of using them as Para reinforcements. Barely noticed the effort. From a prep point of view, Rolf's figures are a dream as far as cleaning up is concerned. To all intents and purposes free of mould seams and flash. All you need to do is file the base flat and you are done in most cases. 
And that was my weekend. Fully immersed in miniatures and Winter of '79. But not so much so that I couldn't enjoy being at home with H. too.


Saturday, 8 December 2012

Out of the cold but still winter in '79

Free Taff Mobile Commando

Thought I'd share some good news from work as it helps to pay for the hobby. My principal project has been validated and signed off as a success by the Project Board. Phew! Built from the ground up, yourHR is a pay and personnel portal offering employee self service and online pay initially, but with plans to be truly transformational.

The culmination of two years standing behind my vision, five months of intense development, three months rollout and pilot. Tackling issues on a daily basis, of which the technical were the easiest to overcome. I'm delighted, proud, and not a little relieved after putting so much of myself into this project. In part because  it gave me a real focus for returning to work after my neurological episode last year. In part because I believed in what I was trying to accomplish. The pay-off for me is that it's given me my confidence back and has proved to my worst critic, myself, that I can do this stuff.

The 'Valley Boyos'

No respite for the wicked or chance for a breather yet. It doesn't just stop of course. I'm testing the next module due for rollout in January, whilst we are building two others and designing yet another. And I have to juggle this with all the reports that are generated by the end of a pilot and planning for the challenges ahead.

All that to say that I've not had the energy left to write creatively when I got home this week and probably not for another week to come. The upside is that I spent a couple of nights ratifying my Winter of '79 figures collection, which will allow me to get more done. I made that bold step to say to myself that just because I have a figure doesn't mean it has to be painted. Some will go into reserve, some syphoned off for Maff whilst the remainder of the also rans will be relegated to eBay.

Well, not quite all the also rans. I've been busy converting figures too. Once I was able to say to myself, right, these figures are keepers, some of the left overs became conversion fodder, losing heads and weapons to fill gaps, ring the changes or give that additional Winter of '79 character to other minis. It is strangely therapeutic lopping heads off and during the course of the day at work I find myself looking forward to doing more conversions when I get home.

click for larger picture

Another bit of good news this week is seeing what's coming from Shaun at S&S Models in the New Year. I have to laugh as only a week or so ago I was thinking that I was more or less at the end of laying out cash on Winter of '79 and now I have to build a bigger vehicle park! I mean, how can I resist that Mark I Ferret or those Scorpion/Scimitar CVR(T). You just can't have enough Scimitars in my book. Though I do have a soft spot for the Scorpion too. At last there's a mean looking FFR Land Rover in 20mm and I know that Maff will get that open back as a Taff gun wagon. Really looking forward to all of these. You can see more photos on Shaun's photobucket gallery here.

The Cold War will be big next year.


Monday, 3 December 2012

Free Taff Teaser

We're upping the game at Winter of '79. Here are the Free Taff Fly-Halfs, part of a full 15 man team that joined my collection last week from another ardent Winter of '79 fan.

These miniatures are taken from Rolfie's Falklands era SAS types. Perfect as Boathouse Hooligans, Free Taff rebels or auxiliaries of any political colour, as long as it's DPM. Inspired, it's time to wield an X-acto  knife and convert a spare pack of unpainted SAS right from M16s to SLRs and Sterlings.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Radio Check Over.....

Been plagued by Interweb woes all week. The head of steam we built up imploded out of sheer bloody frustration with Google.

Despite Google and a very intermittent broadband connection, several things have come together this week in unexpected synchronicity which will lead to major developments on the Winter of '79 front in the new year.  

Though plans to concentrate on my finishing my Winter of '79 collection throughout December and the Christmas/New Year break are suddenly at risk, as I've  stumbled upon Gary Cooper in For Whom the Bell Tolls showing on TV. You know, I haven't seen this film in 30 plus years and possibly because I can appreciate it more now, especially their attempts to make uniforms and tanks look as close as possible, it's reviving my Spanish Civil War mojo. But must focus. So semi-serious plans to do a Bastogne mini-campaign from the 16th Dec using Axis&Allies miniatures rules with our 15mm collection have bitten the dust too. Well, maybe. ;-) 

...Still plenty of time till the 16th!

And finally, a big Thank You to everyone who Liebster'ed  us here at Winter of 79


Sunday, 25 November 2012

20mm Urban Grittiness on eBay

Time to push one of my favourite eBay sellers. David a.k.a. eBay seller Harleycat pushes out a constant stream of excellent decaying urban and industrial buildings in OO scale (20mm). And all at very reasonable starting bids to boot.

Each of these low-relief run-down block of flats measures 14.5cm long x 13.5cm high x 4cm deep and are solidly constructed from printed card mounted on a sturdy and professionally constructed hardboard frame.

Over the year David *Harleycat* also offered a wide variety of run-down commercial premises, offices and factories. The popular ones come round again fairly regularly, so no need to get into a frantic bidding war. I look out for new products from David every time I stop by eBay because I love the grittines of the urban secenes he photographs and find them inspiring for Winter of 79.

As a consequence, I've picked up several of his buildings. For scaling purposes, here's one of David's low-relief flats (left) on the streets of Winter of 79. I've got the flats with shuttered convenience store too and am after that Chinese Takeway you can see in the background of the second photo to round out a particular scene I have in mind. One of David's two part commericial/industrial buildings forms the backdrop to my industrial estate.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Digging In!

Up to now I've been in two minds about Javis Scenics products. However, Javis's new 'resin' range of superior quality terrain items for wargamers has me hooked. I saw the photo below on eBay and was immediately prompted to buy this set. I'm sure you'll agree they just looked perfect for Free Taff positions in the Black Mountains.

Javis Scenics Assorted Foxhole Trenches (Ref RB60)

Past experience prompted me to set my expectations low. Well, the foxhole set arrived yesterday and I fully admit that my scepticism proved to be unfounded. They are believe me, really, really good, with a lot of care being put into the design. The casting is crisp and well detailed and I love the fact they really do look like defensive positions hastily put together with meagre defence stores and anything else at hand. You can just imagine the Free Taff Militia holding them can't you?

The foxholes come grey base coated, highlighted and flocked. Ready to be put into action on the tabletop until time is available to get round to painting them. Each fighting position of corrugated iron, wooden boards and sandbags, is approximately 3" or 8cm in diameter. The larger one holding 6 standing/kneeling squaddies at a push. The foxholes are billed as 20-25mm by Javis and best suit larger 20mm (1/72) figures or original 25's. Having said that my 28mm Pig Iron Sci Fi Colony troopers don't look too out of place.

 Platoon 20 Government Paras

Maff needs to get used to this sight
of Paras in Free Taff positions

Just looking at them again. I may well buy a second set, add rubble, masonry and oildrums to ceate a set of urban  fighting positions. Heather brought home from work some small scale ribbed cardboard from packaging and I'm going to see if painted as corrugated iron, I can give at least two of them some lightweight removable overhead cover.

I'm now more than happy to buy more from this range, whether defences, ruined outbuildings or the versatile set of 4 ruined wall corner pieces. Probably order one or two of these  items a month to ring the changes and build up a small collection of inexpensive scatter terrain.If you are looking for the foxholes yourself on eBay or elsewhere, run a search for 'Javis Trenches' and check out the rest of the products here: Javis Scenics.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Helicopter Magazine: Westland Wessex

Quick heads up. Issue 7 of Helicopter Magazine is in the newsagents now and sports a very nice 1/72 diecast Westland Wessex HU5 for only £7.99. Great value when you consider the corresponding Matchbox plastic kit is around £9.00 and the Corgi collectible version a whopping £45 (average).

Couldn't resist some Ride of the Valkyries glory in Winter of '79 so bought three. You can just imagine the Paras watching Apocalypse Now, loving it and coming up with a ballsy plan. The next phase of operations in Wales....sorted!


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Bedsit Revolutionaries

We interrupt this gripping 1970's saga...... I found a set of  1/72 scale 1970'ish furniture on eBay from a European company called Lone Wulf Miniatures. Thought it was perfect for adding a bit of 3D depth to Operation Pantheon style house raids or impromptu 'cover' on the streets.

Comes on a sprue. Very nice, crisp, clean casting too! Quite impressed. Nothing you can't make yourself with plasticard and some Green Stuff to make the sofa but coming in less than a fiver including postage it takes all that bother away. Not done anything with it yet, so here's a promo shot I found on the interweb.

Looking around for additional items to supplement this purchase I found more 20mm WW2 orientated furniture at C-P Models (TQD Castings Moveable Objects) and Frontline Wargaming's Blitz Bits. If you know of others please let me know.

If you are looking to repeat this yourself, don't worry about the age of common items such as wardrobes, chests of drawers and comfy chairs. Despite being WW2 era, older furniture styles survived through the seventies and beyond in flats, bedsits and even family homes, often mixed with newer styles.

Still with me......? Right, I have created some CQB house clearing rules for Cold War: 1983 and now running them through the USEME Modern Warfare blender to see how they fit there.

Now you may have been thinking that the Kebab House drama has just been a lame effort at amateur writing? Far from it. The Tate/Kebab House storyline has propelled us back into the miniature world of 1979-80 Britain with gusto. Inspired, I've taken an old set of my own rules - The Odd Angry Shot and 'lifted' them to become a system from tracking down Rhodesian guerrillas in the bush to running a manhunt on the streets of London. But you know, now I've opened pandora's box with The Odd Angry Shot, I'm keen to get back to some bush warfare skirmish gaming as a result.

And then at a very natural point in the gaming story surrounding the Grey Cortina - which I still need to blog up - it seemed only natural to utilise the original system for a police car chase in the best traditions of Police Camera Action "Right! Right! Right!"


Monday, 19 November 2012


TV Commentary:   "In response to shots fired inside the besieged premises earlier today, armed police supported by specialist Army anti-terrorist units have stormed the flats above the Kebab House where terrorist leader and wanted fugitive Alan Tate, who together with an unknown number of others were holding two confirmed hostages.
At approximately 2.40pm this afternoon, explosions rocked the building. Glass and debris cascaded onto the pavement below. Shots could be heard as smoke and flames began to billow from the 3rd floor windows.
10 minutes later we could see one of the hostages, thought to be Miss Galina Vankov, a 24 year old student caught up in the siege drama, being led out by black clothed armed police and taken away in an ambulance, escorted by police cars with flashing lights. The upper storey is clearly on fire but the police are preventing fire crews from putting out the blaze......."
Roy: "Right bloody mess."
Tom: "Do you think we've got him?"
Roy: "I'm not counting our chickens until I see him on a slab or his teeth in an envelope. They should have waited and let us send Special Projects in. This inter-department rivalry has got to be stopped if we hope to end this thing.

Anyway, we need to get our hands on the girl."
Tom: "I think SIX will probably be sitting on her for some time before handing her over to FIVE. We won't get a look in for weeks, possibly months, if at all. Especially if Tate is off the slate."
Roy: "Tom, start the ball rolling. Show we mean business. Then get Carter on it. Tell him to use blackmail if he has to. We've got plenty on everyone concerned...... I've got a job for you in Glasgow. You'll need Jim and Special Operations for this one."

Tom: "Glasgow eh? I thought for a moment you were sending me to Wales. Doing the Beacons once is more than enough in a lifetime".

Roy: "There's a big operation planned. Special Forces, ours and theirs, are running around having a field day at the moment. Can't risk a blue on blue."
Tom: "Didn't know you cared."
Roy: "I don't. Glasgow may put a huge dent in their hierarchy. Now the girl?"

Phone rings. Tom answers and looks at Roy. There is a clear unspoken message between them. Standing to leave Tom nods and acknowledges, "The girl."

Silently, Roy sits back down in his chair and slips a Met traffic report about a grey Cortina into a manila folder marked TATE before dropping the whole thing heavily into his desk drawer. Pressing the intercom, "June. More tea, and bring in the Glasgow file."


Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Kebab House Siege

Shoppers witness shootings in broad daylight! 
Armed policeman and shop owner killed!
Mad Trot robbers take 3 hostage 
in Tooting Bec Kebab House!

The News of the World can reveal that Police officers searching for Mad Trot Alan Tate, ran him to ground at the very moment he was undertaking an armed raid on the King of Kebapche Kebab Takeaway in Tooting Bec on Wednesday.

In the ensuing shootout which saw innocent shoppers scurrying for safety, heavily armed police attempted to arrest and apprehend Alan Tate and an unknown number of accomplices. One police officer and shop owner Petar Bukowski, 35, were mercilessly killed by Trot gunfire. 

Heavily armed police quickly surrounded the building, sealing off Tooting Bec and soldiers erected barricades, checkpoints and searchlights facing Tooting Broadway to prevent interference from pockets of Popular Front diehards still thought to be at large in the area. Shops and homes on either side of the property were hurriedly evacuated.

Tate is forcing attractive hostage Galina Vankov, 24, a student at the London School of Economics, to negotiate with police through a third floor window. Though visibly shaken and operating to orders being given from inside the barricaded upstairs flat, Galina has pleaded with police for the safety of those inside.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the whereabouts of a Grey Cortina, whiplash aerial, racing trim, seen leaving the area at sped shortly after the shootings.


We'll unravel the real story behind the siege and aftermath over the coming week.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Bulgarian Connection

Roy, "Tom?"

Tom, "No go. Drawn a blank so far, sir. He's gone to ground deep".

Derek, "Maybe his latest girlfriend is a nurse? Stitched him up and is mopping his brow."

Roy, "Get this Tom, the Smith & Wesson is Bulgarian. War Office issue, part of a shipment sent in 1915. So what's a Bulgarian revolver from the First World War doing on our rock revolutionary?"

Tom, shaking head "Grandad's Spanish Civil War memento? Stage prop?"

Derek, "Bulgarian? I could murder a kebab. There's that Bulgarian kebab place as you turn left off the High Street towards Tooting Bec. They do nice chips too!"


Roy, "Tom get onto SIX now! I want ALL Eastern Bloc targets in their play book. From Norwood to Croydon, Micham to Crystal Palace. Derek, still fancy a take away?"

 A mile away, in a flat above the KING OF KEBAPCHE Takeaway.

Galina,  "Alan, you were foolish to meet him. No good could have come of it."

Alan, "I just thought..... I dunno what I thought. Thought he could have handed us a popular rising. Turn the despair and anger into action.....Maybe."

Galina, "You need politically motivated soldiers who want to fight for a socialist cause, not a pop one. You're wound is good now? You are ready to move? Petar does not want you to stay. He thinks you will bring bad luck this time". 

Alan, "What about us?"

Galina, "What about the cause? We have placed a lot of trust in you. Your weapons are in the car. Five AK47's, 12 Skorpion sub-machine guns, 3 Makarov pistols, plastic explosives, fuses and a quantity of ammunition. We have left further ammunition where we agreed......Shte mi lipsvash tiva."

Galina, "Shhhh.....Do you hear something?"