Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Sitrep: Spinning Plates

Just a quick update to say that it's project board this week and my energies have gone into composing what we'll call an 'audience focused' report....but I've found some down time to have fun expanding my 1970's army career gamette, which I have to admit was a great bit if nostalgia. I've also taken the list of operational deployments back to the start of the sixties in light of Elheim's new Early Cold War range and growing interest in Operaton Musketeer (Suez) with the anniversary coming up in 2016.


Update:..... Project Board was successful. I'm confident my team can meet all the goals and objectives of this ambitious project and I'm glad to say that my contract has been extended for another year, so pressure off. Time to get back to 1979 now.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

McWinter of '79

You don't have to wait till 2025 to carry the fight north of the border with the Winter of '79. Rolf at RH Models has released this nice armed civilian support pack wearing iconic Scottish headgear.

UrbUKsupscot; 3 Brens, 3 Stirling, 2 GPMG: £4.00

A bit of a SITREP is in order..... in the run up to Christmas we are going to publish no less than four Winter of '79 themed mini games on this blog. A homage to The Sandbaggers, the cracking 1970s TV spy series with Roy Marsden; an operational level 'Ops Room' game; Join The Professionals is a tongue in cheek Cold War era military career gamette; and speaking of Professionals, if you ever fancied being behind the wheel of a silver or gold Ford Capri, or even a Ford Consul GT, chasing 1970's bad guys in Rovers and S type Jags, then this Christmas you can entertain your friends and family with our fun car chase game. All that plus some more urban tabletop action too.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

SD Mouldings: Trouble At Mill

Abandoned buildings make a great patrol objective on the rural tabletop. This OO scale, run down mill, was located on eBay and available from Scalebuildings4all.

Kevin, behind Scalebuildings4all sells reasonably priced, OO scale, home cast and painted buildings originally marketed by SD Mouldings. Fully 'assembled' and painted buildings come in at around £14 each. Though be warmed that the mill is a substantial rural building and as such pitches in at £21.

During the summer I built up a nice collection of buildings over several weeks, enabling me to create a typical stone Cotswold/Dales village. Kevin religiously refunds any excess postage costs and has proved himself to me to be one of the good guys on eBay.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Elhiem: What A Carry On!

No. Stop Messin' About!  Seriously. We are kick starting the Winter of  '79 engines this winter with a quick look at Elheim's new Early Cold War British from the 1950's armed with the SLR, which was adopted by the British Army in 1957. Winter of '59 Anyone?

"Don't you think this is a trifle out of date in a world bristling with H-Bombs, Sergeant?"

Right now, the  photos on the Elheim website  aren't clear enough to view details so I have to assume they are wearing WW2 era Battledress. Also can't quite make out if they are wearing WW2 era tin lids or the Cold War era MK IV? However, the poses are good, the SLR armed blokes in ECB01 are IMO better than the similar 1970/80s BAOR11, who look like their mess tins can be heard half way to the Kremlin.

 Elhiem Early Cold War British (ECB01)

For Winter of '79 I'd use these guys straight out of the pack as militia/paramilitary types, possibly exchanging the helmets for  bareheads and berets to give them a more irregular feel. I'm actually thinking of an 'Iron Column' of ex-Cons in blue prison battledress. There's also two support packs, each with 3 squaddies armed with a Sterling, Bren.and bazooka (the M20 'Super' Bazooka).   

IRE02 Irish GARDA Police Plain clothes armed with UZIs

More immediately useful not only to our Winter of '79 games, but as 1970's European terrorists, undercover operators and special forces in mufti are IRE02 Irish GARDA Police Plain clothes armed with UZIs


Saturday, 7 November 2015

Sci Fi Saturday: Scatter Terrain by Karl Alexander

That's the article and supporting material for Wargames Illustrated done! I think it's only fair at this stage to extend both my gratitude and thanks to Wayne at W.I. for his assistance and friendship throughout the process.

Behind the scenes, Wayne has created a buzz about Winter of '79 with manufacturers that you all may benefit from and that alone has made the effort worth it! We'll be back to blogging with all Sterlings blazing next week!

Today, perhaps not surprisingly, I'm taking a short break from all things Winter of  '79, to share my latest Sci Fi scatter terrain find from ebay seller Karl Alexander of Boomer Designs (seller: karl7582).

 Scatter Terrain from eBay seller: Karl7582

Karl kindly painted these crates and drums for me in order to capture an 'Aleph' feel but also specifically match the new Infinity Hephaestus Scenery Pack.

It's also a bit more Mass Effect orientated than the original choice offered by Karl which is in a more military grey/green colour scheme, as shown below.

In the set there's a mix of 32 barrels and crates in the set for around £15.00 plus postage. I've suggested a yellow/red scheme to Karl as well and where practical, he'd be happy to oblige anyone who wanted a bespoke colour combination. I've bought several sets of crates from Karl in the past and he's always been great to do business with.

I have to admit I was vaguely interested in the new Beyond the Gates of Antares boxed starter set Xilos Horizon, but Maff did me a favour and talked me out of it. Instead, I'm keeping an eye on Icarus Miniatures and wishing them all the best. I'm really hoping some of their alien concepts get into production as they would be perfect for AE Bounty and similar skirmish/adventure games.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sitrep: The Royal Oak

We've gone dark over the past month as I've taken rooms in the Royal Oak to concentrate on writing about Winter of '79 for Wargames Illustrated. Found these boys posing one day on my return from work. Took a snap with my Instamatic. It was a long cold walk to the chemists to get the photograph developed, what with the buses over crowded due to the petrol shortages and the trains not running.

Bob on the left, is the pub landlord. Nice fella. Great egg and chips. Was a Para at Suez. Agrees with Enoch Powell but keeps it quiet unless it's a lock in with the regulars. Thinks his SLR is 'Gods gift to the Empire'. Bill in the Italian camo jacket is a hospital porter. He's on strike. Bit of a leftie, listens to Leonard Cohen and will argue ideological distinctions at the drop of a tuppance, but salt of the earth. Then there's Bob with the Sterling, now he thinks that he's Lewis Collins. In fact he and Bill are a right pair. Benjy on the right has a bit of latino in him. Claims to have been a chef at Marco's Cafe before it went up in flames. Waiter more like. Does a nice coffee though. None of your Maxwell House rubbish. How handy they'll be in a real stand up fight against Maggie's boys from the Mersey and the Thames and the Tyne, I dunno, but they keep the local villains at bay.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Winter of '79 Urban Camo Land Rover Cheat!

A quick and easy cheat for you if you want to get into Winter of '79 with little fuss is this Oxford diecast Land Rover Defender in Berlin urban camo scheme.

The Defender went into production in 1983 but the demands of conflict may have seen it brought out sooner. For some of you a Land Rover is a Land Rover and it won't matter anyway.

Being hard top it makes a great proxy for an armoured Land Rover. A bit of wire mesh on the windows, headlights etc - job done. Yes, I know the spare tyre should go on the roof but it leaves an unsightly indentation in the bonnet. Let's go into 'squint' mode and say it's a rush job by the local REME to meet the huge demand for internal security vehicles.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Land Rovers from Heaven

The most prevalent vehicle in any Winter of '79 scenario set in the UK or beyond has to be the iconic Lannie. Sean over at S&S Models (http://www.sandsmodels.com/) has released a whole clutch of Lannies to augment your Winter of '79 forces!

From open and soft top 109s, FFR (Fitted For Radio) 1 tonne FC and radio wagon to ambulance, Recce and airportable 1/2 ton Recces. All there ready in the online shop for your government or rebel vehicle park.

The bobby basic Lannies are £7.50 and Recce wagons £11.00, which includes crew, weapons and stowage.  Hop over to http://www.sandsmodels.com/ and check them out.

Matt at Elheim has BAOR vehicle crew as does Rolf of RH Models but Rolf also has some Urban Meltdown armed civvies with SLRs to crew these beauties.


Monday, 17 August 2015

A Political Scalpel - 'All Gas and Gaiters' AAR

Excerpts from BBC ‘Panorama’ programme, ‘A Political Scalpel’, August 1989

Trooper I:...so, anyway, we had three teams going in, Sword, Dagger and Shield. I was with Sword. Our job was to go in, create a lot of noise and find the hostages; whilst Shield held the exfil location and Dagger went for the primary Tangos. Anyway, in we go, it’s all going nicely, then Tony, the new bod, calls in that he’s made contact and tries to chuck a frag grenade into a room ahead of us, except he muffs it, the grenade bounces off a door frame and goes off in the bloody room we’re in! Luckily, no one was hurt, but it all kicked off from there.  By now, we’d confirmed that there were two hostages in the room and about four Tangos.

 Sword Team: Tony initiates the action

The Brixton Popular Front guards

After we exchanged fire with some of the BPF foot soldiers, Clive stepped forward, told Tony what he thought of him in no uncertain terms, and lobbed a flash bang into the same room. Off it went, managing to take out all the Tangos and wounding the Para hostage, whats-is-name, Smiffy. Needless to say, we went in hard, double taps all round for the downed fellers, and got the lads out, job done…

Hostages rescued by Sword Team

Trooper K: The lads in Sword were making a hell of a row, exactly as planned. Meanwhile, we were moving through the dark, deserted corridors and rooms of the community centre, heading for where we thought the Politburo Tangos would be located. We soon found ourselves at the exit from the caretaker’s room, and then back out into the warm night air. The raucous sounds of the Popular Front meeting in the local boozer meant that you couldn’t really hear anything else, so Shield were able to stick by the skips they were using as cover.

 Dagger Team head for main foyer

BFP in main foyer

As we approached the main doors, Mike spotted one of the primaries inside the well-lit centre, old ‘Afro Bob’ himself. It as around this time that a tango in the window opened up on us with his AK74 and Colly got hit as he headed that way. With no real cover to speak of, we just opened fire and waded our way through the tide of lead, using grenades, 9mm and 12-gauge rounds and sheer guts to take us to the main door. Although the Skipper went down, we made it to within sight of the primaries and expended every grenade we had left, backed up by concentrated MP5 and shotgun rounds, into the foyer. Needless to say, the carnage was complete, with all tangoes neutralized, both primaries and secondaries. By this time, the curtains and furnishings in the foyer were ablaze and the whole thing was spreading quite rapidly, with the whole centre itself becoming engulfed. As the people in the Dog and Duck came running over, we faded into the background, job done, heading out to the pick-up point. And no one was any the wiser…

5 Minutes in, all Tangos down!
Home for Jaffa Cakes and Tea

This interview took place during the Parliamentary Investigation into the ‘Loughborough Estate Massacre’, as the event became known. The events that night led to the fragmentation of the Brixton Popular Front. Stripped of a single, coherent leadership, each faction blamed the other for the massacre and began infighting. As a consequence, members of the Parachute Regiment working in concert with the Metropolitan Police easily subdued the area. The crackdown continued for many weeks. At no time did anyone make the link to the use of Special Forces, until the discovery of the ‘Thatcher Tapes’ in 1987. 

Wayne Bollands

 Apologies for delay in publishing. I sliced top off forefinger removing some plastic Perry Mahdists from sprue.....

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Operation ‘All Gas And Gaiters’

Having left the backup vehicle, the three teams of heavily armed men flitted across the pub car park like phantoms. Even if they had made any noise, it would have been drowned out by the sounds of speech making and excited responses coming from the BPF meeting in the back room of the ‘Dog and Duck’, a known haunt of Brixton Popular Front supporters. 

Sword Team took cover behind a Ford Capri Mk.II and readied their silenced weapons. Meanwhile, Shield and Dagger Teams took up covering positions. A Sword Trooper moved slowly forwards, stalking the sentry in front of the fire exit. As the BPF member paused to re-light his suspiciously large cigarette, the Trooper made his move, plunging his Sykes-Fairbairn dagger up and into the target’s skull through his neck. The sentry fell without a sound, his descent controlled by the encircling arm of the soldier. The same arm was also able to secure the AK-74 the sentry had been carrying.

Moving rapidly, all the teams approached the building. Shield Team took up position to preserve the exfiltration route whilst Sword and Dagger entered the building via the unguarded fire door. So far, no one had spoken, the arch professionals having practiced and planned for this operation for the past week. Now, the SAS were on the prowl, looking for the BPF leadership and the hostages said to be present, including one of their own. Time for some payback on behalf of the Paras…

The ‘Dog and Duck’


Special Air Service

Sword and Dagger Teams of 22 SAS Regiment have been tasked with entering the Marcus Garvey Community Centre and eliminating the self-styled ‘Politburo’ of the Brixton Popular Front. They are equipped with suppressed weapons, although they all also carry CS gas and Stun grenades. One member of each Team also carries a shotgun for carrying out Forced Entry. Once inside the building, they are to clear every room until they find their targets, then exfil through the fire exit secured by Shield Team. If they find any captured personnel, they are to extract them.

Special Rules – SAS are represented by markers until they are fired upon or fire themselves. Teams have to stay together, so up to five markers are deployed, moving within the building, then revealed as a ‘dummy’ or ‘actual’ team.

Brixton Popular Front

The Politburo are guarded by twenty of Bob’s Banditos, all with small arms. These are placed in the building as required. Some must guard the Politburo members and some must be allocated as guards for the hostages.

Special Rules – The Politburo are represented by up to five markers in the building. These are revealed when fired upon or attacked. The Politburo must stay together for protection. None of the Politburo members are armed.

Hostages – There are possibly two British Army personnel being held hostage at the Centre and possibly some others. Be advised – killing hostages is BAD!

 Another great scenario from our mate Wayne Bolland. See how it plays out tomorrow night.


Monday, 10 August 2015

East Whittington

The old industrial housing area of our fictional East Whittington is beginning to take shape........

I hadn't wanted to go the Metcalfe terraced house route....... however, they're a relatively inexpensive route to filling a table quickly (2'x3' in above photos ) to represent the industrial heartlands. Some of the buildings need a tidy up, but the overall effect is good - just need to finish the road, add pavements, street furniture and job is a good 'un.

More Winter of '79 action from Wayne and the lads to follow.....


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Orkney Saga

Just back from a solo trip to Orkney, which proved to be a great opportunity to relax, clear the mind and reboot.

I found the people were very welcoming and friendly. Food was good quality and surprisingly cheap. Plus of course there's history by the bucketful from Neolithic times through to WW2. My firm favourite was the moody yet magnificent Ring of Brogdar. Set in a dramatic landscape you were instantly transported back in time. 

Already planning the return trip! 


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Assault on Jones' Farm

Wayne Bollands shares his first Winter of '79 inspired game with us:

Winter of '79, Early Days….

…Sergeant ‘Tosh’ Collins and the two SAS teams he was nominally in charge of had spent three days in the Evening News van, watching the farm. Their recce work had shown the most likely avenues of attack and they had gone over a suitable plan. The problem was, following the shocking assassination of the majority of the Royal Family by the previously derided Free Welsh Army, the hastily formed Neo Conservative Republic were wary of too much bad press overseas. The upshot was, this was still officially a police matter, meaning that the local plods had to be allowed to go in first and make the arrests. ‘Tosh’ wasn’t too worried about the local representatives of the Free Welsh Army or even the blokes from the Brixton Popular Front. It was Paddy O’Brien and his Provos that concerned him – they were armed with military grade weapons and had arrived with two heavily laden Mini vans full of cases of the same. ‘Tosh’ checked his watch in the light of the full moon overhead, counting down the seconds until the coppers were due to make their entrance….

…DI Dai Morgan of the Merthyr CID was not a happy man. He liked things to stay the way they were supposed to and, since the Conservative win in May’s elections, the whole world had turned upside down! The huge underground bombs that had demolished Windsor Castle in July had not only killed Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and most of the Royal Family in one fell swoop, but it had turned out that almost all the miners involved were Welsh and two were from the Merthyr district! The outrage created following this event meant, coupled with the sudden declaration by supporters of the Free Wales movement that Wales would secede from the United Kingdom following the rapid creation of what Plaid Cymru called an ‘illegimate government’, that the Neo Conservative Republic had begun to crack down on the people of Wales. At the moment, that involved increasing police powers and putting troops on the streets to enforce the law where needed. There’d been some rioting and the occasional car bomb, not only in Wales but across the North of England and even amongst those ‘oppressed’ minorities in Nottingham and London. For Dai and his uniformed officers, it meant being forced to arm up and take on members of the IRA, self-styled Black Power revolutionaries and, worst of all, members of the local population of Merthyr. Gun running, of all things, on HIS patch!?  As a Welshman, he and the other members of the Constabulary had some sympathy with the Free Wales movement but they would do their duty, as always. He hoped it would all end quietly tonight, a few arrests and then home in time for tea and medals – but he knew, what with the SAS, IRA and wannabe revolutionary daft buggers in the mix, blood would be spilt this night….

Fat Elvis, or Kevin Jones as he was known to family and friends, was not happy about negotiations so far. First of all, the hatchet faced leader of the gun runners from the IRA was demanding more money for the weapons they had smuggled all the way from Northern Ireland. Fair enough, the cases contained not only pistols but also assault rifles and even rocket launchers, but the IRA man seemed to be asking for almost double what had been agreed. Problem was, given the state of the increasingly dis-United or ‘Untied’ Kingdom, it was a seller’s market. This ability to sell to anyone had resulted in the second thing that had his back up, the presence of this Afro Bob, some bloke from a dodgy part of London who seemed to have deep pockets full of cash to provide for the needs of what he called the ‘Brixton Popular Front’. God knew how he had learnt of the meeting here at old Jones’ Farm on the outskirts of Merthyr but Kevin suspected that O’Brien’s people had leaked the news of the supposedly clandestine meeting to hike up the price. They had just agreed to share the weapons from the IRA fellers on a 60 / 40 split in favour of the Free Welsh Army when they heard a shout in a broad Irish brogue. Kevin couldn’t quite make it out but O’Brien suddenly produced an automatic from beneath his jacket and hissed the word “Trouble, we better get out”. Kevin drew his Colt .45 revolver, a gift from the Methyr Tydfil Cowboy Club. Afro Bob pulled what looked like a small machine pistol from within his own jumpsuit. Then, suddenly, the barking report of what sounded like LMG fire was followed by the panicked shouting of Welsh voices. As one, the three leaders of the disparate factions began to make for the ladder back down to the ground floor, Kev slightly in the lead, his size perhaps serving to suggest he would move more slowly than the fit young Royal Welsh Fusilier he had once been. Time to get a little bit rowdy, he thought…

The Game

Scenario Objectives

Merthyr Tydfil Police – Detain all the leaders, arrest their supporters, prevent vehicles leaving the locations and seize any and all weapons. Co-operate with the SAS but remember that you are in charge.

SAS – Capture / kill the IRA members, take O’Brien alive if possible. Take possession of the military grade weapons. Support the police but be aware that, as soon as large calibre bullets start to fly, it’s open season.

IRA – Get all the cases of weapons and O’Brien away. Do not get caught but, if arrested, keep quiet.

Free Welsh Army and Brixton Popular Front – Cover for Fat Elvis and Afro Bob so they can get away.

It's Wales. It's teatime. No-one has had their dinner and the game is on!

SAS advance after three days in their 'hide'
...the Evening News Transit
The barn where leaders of the IRA gun runners,
Free Welsh Army and Brixton Popular Front

As the leaders make a run for it, their respective
entourages hold back the SAS attack

Fat Elvis's Motor, blocking the main IRA vehicle in

As the Merthyr officers head for the rear gates, 
a member of SAS Red Team takes out 
Elvis' Granada with a LAW rocket!

View from the church tower as two members
of the SAS White Team engage the enemy

Fat Elvis, Afro Bob and O'Brien make a dash for
the Mini Cooper van as the SAS and police close in!

Then, roaring around the corner, comes the other mini
from the barn - O'Brien leaps into the back of the green
one and the other two leaders get into the white one,
both vehicles laden down already with cases of weapons!

The SAS members close in to take
prisoners as the leaders flee the table

Game Outcome

All the leaders of the various factions got away, with the crates of weapons. This means that the Free Welsh Army in the Merthyr Tidfil area and the Brixton Popular Front have a quantity of modern military weapons.

Three Active Members of the Provisional IRA were captured by the SAS, as were one member of the Free Welsh and one member of the Brixton Popular Front. These have been handed over to the Intelligence Services for further questioning.

DI Dai Morgan was pronounced dead at the scene, as were a couple of other police officers. This has hardened the resolve of the Merthyr-based members of the South Wales Constabulary against the rebels and their associates. However, it is rumoured that some officers outside Merthyr have allied with the Free Wales Movement and are now actively supporting them with information, logistical support and possibly even weapons from those seized in evidence rooms.

Trooper ‘H’, 22nd SAS, was found to be MIA after the combat. He was last seen heading into the thick pall of smoke around the knocked out Ford Granada. It can only be assumed that he has been taken by either the IRA or Free Welsh Army. Needless to say, Sgt. ‘Tosh’ Collins and the remaining members of Red and White Teams have elected to stay in the field until they have either recovered him or avenged his death.

Classic!  Thanks to Wayne and guys for such a fun first Winter of '79 action down at their club.