Saturday, 26 January 2013

New 70's Cars in 1/76

ModelZone have a sale on just now. The Oxford 1/76 Ford Consul is £1.99. I picked up two in store yetserday to add to my Winter of '79 'streets' collection. They'll end up either repainted or distressed. The Airfix 1/76 is only £3.99. They're out of stock onluine but may be worth checking with your local store.

Checking through the ModelZone webpage for similar bargains I saw that Oxford is bringing out several new 1970's cars in 2013. Permission to shout Bravo! at an annoyingly loud volume.

Bit of a memory trip for me. There's the Vauxhall Viva, the Morris Marina, the Leyland Princess and what appears to be a first generation Ford Fiesta. As usual with Oxford they come in a range of the 'official' colours of the time.

This helps fill a very nice void in the 1/76 diecast car market. Most of the cars available on the market till now were either 50's - 60's or late eighties onwards. Perfect if you are a fan of 70's cop shows like us.More so if you want to game Geezers in Winter of '79 on the tabletop.


Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Generic 'Pulp' Artillery

Gaming plans went 'aglae' over the weekend. Never mind, Picked up four Peter Pig 15mm WW1 Belgian guns on eBay that were going for a song. These are going to join my early C20th collection of artillery generica.

A couple of years back I gave up trying to get the interwar period artillery exactly right for a given conflict. Especially when it came down to Skodas, Krupps and the like.

You quickly find that the M05 of this is the export version of that and the thingy howitzer of this country ended up copied and built under licence by this, that, and the other country. And then there were guns that ended up as trophies or as war reparation and rebadged - arrrghh!

So, I opted for a more 'pulp' orientated collection of nondescript pieces that looked the part. Iron rim spoked wheels were a must. Anything that looked 'modern' was out. And definitely no instantly recognisable types such as the  British 13pdrs, German 77mm or French 75's.

Snowed in over the weekend I decided to try to overcome my inability to identify interwar artillery. I sat down with a list of SCW artillery and looked them all up online. The Italian and WW2 German stuff, pretty easy but with one or two exceptions all the artillery within a certain class be it field gun, howitzer etc looked pretty much the same to me.

For bespoke SCW artillery, a couple of QRF's British WW1 4.5" QF Howitzers are on the cards before their sale ends. The 4.5 was probably the most prolific field artillery piece in the SCW. Britain sent Imperial Russia 600 in 1916. Stalin's Russia would supply them in large numbers to the Spanish Republican government. 159 are recorded as being imported. Great thing is that they also fall into the 'artillery generica' category - they don't look particularly British and at a glance could be taken for a Skoda, Krupp, Ansaldo.

As for the Pig M05 well, it makes a pretty good proxy for various makes of Krupp export guns and will stand in for the Italian Krupp-Ansaldo Canone da 75/27 M06 (not to be confused with the 75/27 Modello 11) which saw service on both sides in the SCW.

Anyway, head down now in project delivery mode till the weekend.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

DIY Olive Trees

Last night I started re-reading Days of Hope by André Malraux. A superb novel set in the Spanish Civil War from the Republican perspective. There's a very evocative scene early on that reminds me of Ramon Senders autobiographical experiences in Spain. But of course Malraux was there himself.

The workers militia are making an amateurish attack across an olive grove. Fascist machine-guns are cutting them down. A platoon of Asaltos arrive. They skirmish through the trees, using fire and maneouvre, to close on the Fascists. It's pure wargaming and will get your SCW juices flowing if nothing else does.

Inspired. I just sat down before supper and made some DIY olive trees. Nice, quick and easy. They are based on the heads of dead Sedum Telephium plants. Heather prunes them back each year and then offers me the pick of the cuttings.

To make them I left some PVA in a jar to thicken and then spread large gloops of it on the Sedum heads using a Starbucks coffee stirrer. All high tech stuff here you know. Finally dipped into a tub of Woodland Scenics 'Earth' flock. You see them above punched into a block of polystyrene whilst they dry.

Once dry I can see if I need to do any remedial work. Whilst my heart says give them a  highlight, given that they were made from start to finish (pre basing) during the course of an episode of NCIS, whilst Maff was having a text conversation with me at the same time, and they cost around 20p, for the whole lot! I'm not sure I'll bother in this instance.


More SCW. A steal on eBay. Two packs of Battlefront L3/35s (eight models) for £10. Maff and I have split them down the middle. I see now why the IT001 blister (4xL3/35 models) is fifteen plus quid at full price.  The pack comes with enough tank commanders,  flamethrower trailers and weapons to create 4 of any particular variant. I know Maff would prefer the Peter Pig  L3/35 as they are brilliant little no fuss models. I own several myself, but at less than £2 each inc postage, to misquote Stalin, cheap has a quality all of it's own.

Meanwhile, back in the winter of 1979. On the train yesterday we managed to draw up plans for 'Tom's' operation in Glasgow. I set the scenario for Maff via text and it was like letting a Hare out of the trap. We spend the entire commute texting each other building the game further with each text. Great fun. Almost a TEWT in itself and we haven't even got to the game yet.

Burns night I think will be most appropriate. Maff has been learning from those "wee mices" to quote Maff from one of his texts "Most of our games I'd go so far to say, would have resulted in you being insulted and punishing my play if I didn't provide a plan. Even the holes in the plan have been punished." Too right! This time he has a cracking plan.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Your Place in the Sun

 Salute Comrades. Non Pasaran!

And this my compañeros is the finished stone finca I started last week. See picture below. A labour of love born out of frustration. Remember that I didn't like the way it had turned out at first, so I just applied what I do at work and came at the problem from a different angle.

It's been surprisingly fun making these fincas. Not only that, therapeutic. Plus I'm feeling gee'd up right across the spectrum of my wargaming interests as a result.

FYI the painted Peter Pig fella in the top photo is destined either for the Garibaldi or Thaelmann battalions of the International Brigades. Mind you, he makes a good Irishman. Perhaps Connolly Column it is then.


Monday, 14 January 2013

SCW Progress

It's our anniversary, so time is short.... Head down at work but encouraging me to finish my 15mm SCW fincas. Well that was the plan but the paint jobs worked out so well that I've created a whole lot of new shells to work on. The photo above is for Rusty to see how the poor man's pantiles scrubbed up with a lick of paint. Obviously there's still some way to go to finish this little scene but painting those tiles has made all the difference.

This one's not too bad. I was so tired when I put the roof on that I scored the wrong side and glued it with the pantile effect on the inside....oops.

Just in case you're interested, the walls are painted with Homebase Flawless Pecan emulsion (guess what colour our living room walls are) Once dry, it was stipled with hobbyists acrylic Yellow Oxide (the mouldy colour) and Autumn Leaves (the Spanish red earth colour). The Pecan was then drybrushed over the top of that. The roof is an opaque layer of Autumn Leaves, Devlan Mud wash - yes I still have two bottles - and a light drag/dry brush of Pecan to highlight/weather.

Wargaming bit the bullet this weekend. We had to replace the washing machine, so Captain Oddjob here was responsible for getting the old one out and new one plumbed in. Then the Freelander needed attention - in the snow of course. H. had a meeting with her surgeon today so wasn't a job that could be put off.

This is going to be a bitty week, but hopefully should be back in 1979 mode by the weekend.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Scottish Play: Turning the Screw

If Vivian McBeath, played the role of the 'Queen of Sorrow' admirably at the King's funeral. She should have won an Oscar for her performance at the reception afterwards.

Like a spider, she skillfully weaved a web of fear among the wives, hoping they in turn would urge their husbands into the trap that awaited them.

Roddy McBeath in his turn, took the men of real influence aside for a whisky and smoke in the drawing room. The tone that emerged was  that something had to be done. Someone had to take charge of the situation. Someone had to prevent Scotland descending into anarchy.  And of course, there was the question understood by all, who would get to control the substantial revenues to come from oil and gas if chaos ensued.

It was agreed, a meeting was needed. A plan of action. A decision that would secure the future of Scotland and her energy reserves.


In a room with pale green walls, behind a gloss green door, in a corridor that was one of many similar in Whitehall......

Roy: To the point, "This is it Tom. We've just had word the players are getting together. It's in your hands now. Any questions?"

Tom: "No boss".

Roy: "Here are your sealed orders. Open them when you receive the go signal CULLODEN".

Tom: "I'll bring you back some Haggis for Burns Night."

Roy: "Make sure that's all you bring back....."

Tom leaves. Roy picks up the phone, "June. Tell Tim in Special Ops to warm up a second team."


Small order arrived from Elheim including COP5 who are just right for 1970's cops, robbers, sandbaggers and general heavies. The figure on the extreme right with the shotgun is very much London lorry driver Bill Savage for you 2000AD fans.

I was dubious to be honest based on the 'official' photo above, but I am favourably impressed with the figures as they are much better in real life and they are already on the workbench.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

A night on the tiles

One of the 15mm Spanish fincas I've been working on. Based on a photograph of a stone hovel in Andalusia. I've yet to add a half shed to the side of the building.

Not bad, but it was only when I finished the roof  that I noticed that the height of the eave above the door is a few mm too high, which gives it a high 'forehead' look. A (G/Stuff) wooden lintel above the door help with that - maybe. Might just paint it or turn into a small barn then start again.
FYI, the walls are constructed from Slaters OO 4mm rough stone over a cardboard frame courtesy of Felix. The roof is made from a sheet of Slaters 4mm corrugated iron cut into strips and roughened up a bit to look like poor man's pantiles. In the photo you can see the very last strip is held down by an elastic band whilst the glue takes. I'd actually bought the Slaters corrugated iron for use with my 20mm figures, but it's tiny and I've reverted to Wills Kits, spare computer ribbon and corrugated card for 20mm instead.

The figure used for scale comes from The Late Queen, Militia Command. Sadly defunct, but luckily I have a pack to spare of these plucky chaps as Peter Pig has some new Militia riflemen which are worth picking up but without corresponding command figures. The Late Queen militia leaders are all suitably heroic and perfect for urging on their leaderless Pig miliciano chums.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Distraction Therapy

Playing around with my 15mm SCW tonight. The kitchen table lay bare of any and every bit of Christmas clutter and was all mine. These are some of my original Peter Pig' Thaelmanns.

Maff's been called away on a family emergency and the stark realisation hit me today as I sober up after the Christmas break, I'll sober up from New Year some time in March; that I have to co-ordinate a launch to 800 stakeholders in little more than two weeks time.

So I swopped red beret for pasamontana and SLR for Mauser. Figures were on the table and I thought, you know, I need to immerse myself in building things. Distraction therapy, pure and simple. So I sat down with a cat food box, knife, hot glue gun and a bit of imagination to blitz half a dozen Spanish rural fincas. These can best be described as single room hovels, sometimes with an attached donkey or tool shed.

Why fincas? Well, I just find that most commercial 15mm Spanish buildings are a bit too Place in the Sun for my tastes. How did the fincas turn out?  A resounding so, so! But the techniques worked well in this scale, leaving me inspired to build upon tonight's successful if underwhelming efforts with a more detailed batch of fincas tomorrow. And not unimportantly relaxed.

Looking at these litle buildings now I'm thinking....base them - pile of stones, logs, olive tree, and or drinking well, shrubs and grasses - they'll look great. But I've caught the bug and have an endless supply of cat food boxes.


Sunday, 6 January 2013

Operation Pegasus: Go! Go! Go!

"We were awakened this morning by the roar of helicopter rotors as flight after flight of Wessex helicopters landed in the abandoned Pen-y-Pound Cricket Ground here in Abergavenny to pick up waiting lines of Paratroopers before heading towards the Welsh lines in the hills to the west. Other helicopters, Pumas and Chinooks flew overhead, after picking up their cargoes from marshaling areas in Bailey Park in the centre of the town. What we are witnessing is a major operation unfolding. Bob Langley for the, BBC."

"From advanced Government positions we can hear the far off crackle of small arms fire. During the last two nights we have seen tracers in the Hills. Unconfirmed reports suggest these were members of the Special Air Service attacking Free Welsh outposts and potential helicopter ambush positions".

"Lieutenant-Colonel Angus Mackenzie gave a short briefing outside the cricket pavilion to assembled officers...
"Gentlemen and members of the press. Today we are launching the largest operation of this war to date. We are confident of a successful outcome. I expect my officers and men to treat our fellow countrymen  who have taken up arms against the Government with respect. You have your orders. Dismiss."
"With that Colonel Mackenzie strode to a waiting Gazelle helicopter from the Army Air Corps which took off and headed west towards the Black Mountains. Brian Hanrahan, BBC News, Abergavenny". 


Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Scottish Play: The Murder

Banks had scanned the classified ads and selected a run down 1975 Datsun for sale in Leith. He made sure it was a runner and had enough petrol for the job. His instincts told him something wasn't right about the deal. The seller was just too keen to get him inside the house and he could smell a rat. As he counted out the cash in the living room, two heavies burst in wielding weapons. They were fast and loud but hadn't counted on a man who did this for a living. He drove out of Leith with the car and the cash.

As far as Roddy was concerned Vivian was on one of her regular shopping trips to Edinburgh. This time she was with Banks. He had new plates ready and parked up the Datsun in the car park an abandoned shopping precinct to retrieve them and swop them over. Then drove into the centre of Edinburgh, parking in George Street. The hotel as close by but far enough away to make sure he wasn't being followed.

The hotel had been Vivians choice, posh and glitzy. She had given him cash to pay for the room in his name but he'd used Colin's AmEx card instead and assumed Colin's identity. In part he didn't want her getting any ideas about being 'Mrs Banks' into her head. As instructed, he gave her a call from the lobby. She told him to give her five minutes before coming up. Time for a quick whiskey in the bar. A double.


With inside information on the layout of Duncan King's home, the job was a doddle. Colin drove the backup car and parked a couple of streets away. Banks and Sandy simply forced their way into the house in Rubislaw Den and shot both Duncan and his wife with an untraceable Luger. A scattering of leaflets proclaiming the Scottish National Freedom Party, a roughly sprayed Anarchy Circle-A symbol and SNFP initials on the living room walls were left behind for the police to find.

A simple typed statement proclaiming the actions of the SNFP was received by BBC Scotland. In the coming fortnight, SNFP leaflets were distributed in the most deprived areas of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen. Followed by small but noisy litter bin and postbox bombs going off from Glasgow to Peterhead. A car bomb exploded in Dundee and a Panasonic Shop was firebombed. The last one was personal and happened on the day of the King's funeral. Each incident was preceded by a coded message being given to the editorial desk of The Scotsman.

Vivian of course looked her best for the funeral, which took place surrounded by a melee of international media. Whilst there was very genuine sorrow for the deaths of the Kings amongst the mourners, she could feel the undercurrent of fear, the unspoken concern about who could be next. And she was, if truth be told, excited.

Derek: "You wanted to see me sir?"

Roy: "Thanks for coming in Derek. Take a seat. Would you like some tea?"

Derek: Nodding to Tom, "Err, no thank you sir. Just had one" He was keen to get out of the Jackal's den.

Roy: "Looks like we have some new players within your remit?"

Derek: "I don't think so sir"

Tom:  "Really?"

Derek: "Look, the SNFP are a pair of middle aged guys working out of a garage in Dunkeld. Jacobite fantasists, no more than that. And the arrests made simply don't fit the profile."

Tom: "You mean the tip-off?"

Roy: "Yes, what's your verdict on that?"

Derek: "Local bobbies in Leith acting on a tip-off about a stolen Datsun, enter a house to find two cases of SNFP leaflets, personal effects and a Luger used in the King murder in the garage. Well, it's straight off the Telly isn't it."

Roy: "Thank you Derek. You can leave now." Derek leaves, grateful that it wasn't the grilling he was expecting.

Roy to Tom: "Well what do you think?"

Tom: "Glagow is still a goer in my opinion. At worst, a couple of extra bodies to lift and maybe a few extra 'soldiers' on the ground. I've got eyes in place. We're just waiting for it to happen. Tim and the 'SO' team have built a model and rehearsing their role. Think they're actually looking forward to it".

"One thing though......this SNFP?.... Smacks of some counter-gang stuff, pure Kitson if you ask me. Are we sure another door in this building aren't involved?"

Roy: "You're right Tom. Something doesn't fit. I'll ask June to dig.  The secretarial pool probably know more about what's bloody well going on than we do."

Roy lit a cigarette. It doesn't add up. If they lifted the principal players in a single operation would that simply leave a power vacuum? Would unknowns fill the void creating even greater chaos?

Absentmindedly he thumbed the latest reports and operations orders coming from Wales..... and something about Norway - that's all we need, he thought, the bloody "Prince of Denmark" to invade.....


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Black Hounds

They came from all over Wales. Men, women, boys. Numbers waxed and waned depending upon the immediate threat to their locality. Some were there from the beginning and would be there at the end. The miners of the Rhondda Valleys figured heavily amongst these bitter-enders.

Bonded together by the brotherhood of the pit, unafraid of the dark, used to explosives, physically and mentally toughened by cramped hard labour, they made perfect guerrilla fighters. In the battle for the valleys their local nickname of Trogs, was rapidly picked up and used freely by the Government Paras. A nickname that held a derisory tone, would become a badge of honour. After the crisis, to be called a Trog was to be known a man amongst men.

One group of Valley Boys led by local tenor, Alun Barry, became known as the gwyllgis, or the "Black Hounds" (MI5 analyst interpretation). They were renowned for their skill and daring in ambushing road bound Government spearheads and follow up convoys.

The "Black Hounds" remained a local militia despite attempts to incorporate them into the mobile commandos and permanent Free Wales forces. At various times the Hounds included a bus mechanic from Porth, a Tabernacle minister and a Rhondda council employee. Two were known communists and only one positively identified as a plaid cymru activist.

In an interview given to a Canadian journalist from the National Post, Barry described their motivation as "We go down the pit in the morning with our neighbours to keep the bread and butter on our families tables. We fight when we have to fight, to protect our communities and our way of life".

In wargame terms the "Black Hounds" are a small core of hardened militia or home guard. They can be used independently, to supplement the permanent militias or work in tandem with a mobile commando. Armed with ex-Army small-arms and home-made explosives they are experienced in mining culverts and deploying litter bin fougasses in roadside ambushes.