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.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

You can't park your tank there!

No need to be alarmed "Worried of Wordsworth Avenue". The forces of Law and Order have been recruiting........

from Elhiem BAOR13 & 14

The Emergency Government announced today that all Traffic Wardens would be subordinated henceforth to the new National Police Service. They would receive additional powers and training in the use of firearms. It is expected that they will accompany and both police and military personnel and aid them in carrying out their duties.  

 A spokesperson for the National Police Service said that this step was "an important contribution towards protecting lives and property".  In other news.....
Got these figures finished today and wanted to share. The photo doesn't show the nuances very well but I'm pleased with how they turned out. I painted the Traffic Wardens with Vallejo Black Grey over the black Gesso primer, leaving plenty of the black showing through as shadows. Citadel Fortress Grey was then applied with a small brush and very light touch to prominent highlights. 

I toyed with the idea of giving these figures overcoats by extending their jacket skirts with Green Stuff, but to be honest, in the end just didn't think the effort was worth the final result. And BTW, there should probably be a yellow crescent flash on their shoulders with the words Traffic Warden in black, but the yellow hat band and double yellow lines say it all in 20mm, in my opinion.

For info, the female officer in BAOR14 can be used as a Traffic Warden too, as that style of cap was used into the eighties, at least in London.

Hope they gave you a smile at least......and another use for Elhiem's BAOR 12,13 &14.


Monday, 20 July 2015

Rule .303

Enough's enough! Just look at this picture from Surbiton, sent to me by "Worried of Wordsworth Avenue". These are typical glue sniffing, trot loving, work shy, fifth columnist, guardian reading, NME letter writing, disloyal, car stealing, labour voting, anti British elements that are rampantly strutting our streets, spitting at World War Two veterans, swearing at your grandmother and molesting your dog.......

 Rick, the People's Poet (2nd from left)
leads his cohorts...and Vyv.

 .......If we don't stand up, be counted and take a stand to say "up yours johnny punk", a tide of bile spewing, pogo dancing, safety pin fondling, unwashed yobs will swarm into the dreaming suburbs and spit upon your aunts goldfish while the poor silver haired dear looks on, clutching her dead budgerigar to her bosom. Do you want that? Does anyone? That's why today, I, you, WE say, "Take this punk scum. We are arresting you under Rule .303, trying you under Rule .303 and putting an end to your anti British, punk rock, Trot evil, under RULE .303!"

Wing Commander (retd) Neville Strappon-Gusset OBE
O/c Surbiton Brigade For Common Sense and Sanity
Amritsar Villa
Wordsworth Avenue


Sunday, 19 July 2015

More Office Space

I've picked up a new OO gauge office frontage from Dave aka eBay seller "Harleycat".  This half relief model was just £8.95. Given the blood, sweat and tears, especially the latter, I'd shed printing and building something along the same lines I thought it was a complete bargain!

I have a feeling this may get a canopy over the door and become a Police Station in the mould of 'Sunhill' from the popular TV series The Bill. This building could also be a Polytechnic, a science laboratory, an Insurance office, DHSS or Unemployment Benefits office - you get the idea.

Dave's buildings are great quality, well constructed and importantly, well packaged when they come to you. 


Saturday, 18 July 2015


Still very much in a doing frame of mind. Need to thank Mark Griffin of Pumpkin Models for supplying the necessary impetus. This week I've cleaned and undercoated by hand 50 or so miniatures for Winter of '79  with Daler-Rowney Gesso Primer and done some more conversions.

Rebel (Loyalist) Regulars WIP. Elhiem BAOR01
with heads taken from various RH Models figures
(A young Chris Ryan in 'Rommel cap' on far right)

I like having a less regular look to 'rebel' military forces. It's not necessary but I just feel it looks better and helps identify who's who when both sides on tabletop are wearing DPM. Alternatively you can have one side wholly in berets/Tams/Glengarries/Commando caps and the other in helmets.

I thoroughly recommend Gesso as a practical primer solution. Its water based, non-toxic and non-smelly. so I was able to sit at my breakfast bar in the kitchen and undercoat two two four miniatures before I left for work in the morning and a half a dozen or so at a time as I saw fit in between converting and basing other miniatures each evening.

The Daler-Rowney goes on a dream even undiluted. I use a Citadel flat headed 'Large Drybrush' and take it straight from the pot. To get good coverage I make sure the tip of the brush is full and brush it on boldly, making sure to use the edge of the brush to push the Gesso into crevices and corners.
If you dilute the Gesso or have just cleaned your brush and haven't dried it, then you'll get a smeary finish. Plus, surface tension together with the fact the Gesso shrinks onto the miniature as it dries will leave bare patches that need to be touched up.

 Elhiem BAOR14 Gesso Primer
The shiny dots are just reflection

I put the Gesso on fairly thick and then 'push' it around the miniature. I'm not blase though and ensure it's not too thick over faces or important detail. Now bare in mind I absolutely abhor undercoating miniatures and I have to say that it's been a real pleasure this week. Strangely very relaxing, and not a chore at all. To my mind, the results and ease of use are superior to any other primer I've used, and that includes a variety of sprays. And of course it's perfect for use in the limited confines of a flat or around the missus, children and pets. 

OK, I have a couple of hours spare today so going to attack those Combat Miniatures ex-Hotspur Operation Panshir Russians.

Combat Miniatures, straight from the packet

Not looking forward to it........


Thursday, 16 July 2015

Big Trouble on Alpha Prime

Deep space station Alpha Prime is the biggest dive on the fringe. In Loading Bay 71 a deal for Irradiated Meths goes sour, leading to the Zoly and Moskau gangs facing off against each other in a heated exchange.

A few photos from a 28mm Sci Fi game played out on Infinity Moto.Tronica pop up card terrain last weekend. I was aiming at a Mass Effect feel and kept things simple to keep the tempo going.

Alpha Prime Security - The Sec' are as ever, on the ball and have been monitoring the transaction. Lt Diz-iz-Poliz leads two strike teams of armoured Sec Troopers from Antenociti's OOP G.O.T. range into the loading bay. 

 The Perps

 "Sarge......Does my bum look big in this?"

On the appearance of the "Tinned Fuzz", all enmity between the Ir.Meth gangs is instantly forgotten, or put on hold at least. They disperse to hide behind power modules on either side of the main drag whilst they work out their next move. Yes, those are re-roled Star Wars miniatures!

 Hold the Line!

The Sec. decide to hold a line with one team and take down the perps when they break cover. Both sides vie for the high ground. Note that the grey and yellow crates come from Karl on eBay. He has a great selection of reasonably priced, home made Sci Fi crate/storage scatter terrain..

"There's too much damn cover"
Gaining a height advantage becomes critical

But there's still plenty of room to hide!

Pacification has been achieved

Moskau and C'atsheet, a henchman, manage to sneak right round the table, completely outflanking the Sec. troopers and make a final dash to the exit. One Sec. trooper, Bill 47, left as a back stop, blasts both Moskau and C'atsheet with the best shooting of the game, which up to this point had been more akin to the Stormtrooper Shooting Academy! Result!

The Moto.Tronica terrain whilst a bit garish was stunningly effective for a product worth less than a tenner. And it folds down again if you are limited for space or want to take it to a pal's for a game. There's a new version currently available in the U.S. now and another will be available for pre-order soon. However on it's own the table would still have felt bare. The additional scatter terrain made a big difference in both look and fluidity throughout the game.

Right! The undercoat on my Winter of '79 figures should be dry by now...


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Operation Compound Fracture

A quick solo game last night of an assault on a Taliban training camp. Using Lock Stock for this game the SAS were Hard, the Royals Ncos were Blokes and squaddies were all Lads. Taliban had a small cadre of Blokes whilst the remainder were Lads and Tossers. The Brits are from Rolf and once again painted by Mark Griffin of Pumpkin Models. The Taliban are Platoon 20 Mujahadin.

I don't normally play recent conflicts in Afghanistan but I had some great buildings purchased from Mike at Blastwall calling out to me. The Brits are for a post oil crisis dust up set in present day Scotland later this year - the game that is, not the crisis.....we do hope anyway.

I bought these buildings as they reminded me of the Russian movie 9 Rota (9th Company) but Combat Miniatures 1980s Operation Panshir Russians are p. poor castings and a bitch to clean up, so it will be a while before they make it to the table. You can find Blastwall buildings on eBay by simply searching for '20mm Afghanistan'. Very reasonably priced, sturdy models with the right ramshackle look you'd expect of rural Afghan structures.

The action in brief... The SAS storm the cadre's compound and slot them. Smudger and his Lads carried out the main fight taking another small compound (top). Smudger is saved from a bullet lodging in a rolled up copy of Mayfair (the modern equivalent anyway).

Chalky's brick distracted the main Taliban compound which was awake by now but with Tangos milling about in the confusion. Chalky put in a classic Fire and Movement advance in pairs up to the front wall, allowing Smudger's brick to infiltrate along the river bed to the blind rear wall and knock it in with an explosive charge.

Smudger, a true bloke to the end went down in the final moments, only British casualty in the mission! Otherwise a job cleanly executed. 


Saturday, 11 July 2015

SITREP: July Workbench

Got my mojo on so grafting today, prepping more miniatures for Winter of '79. By far the majority are destined to have an urban focus. 

Elhiem hodgepodge - Civvies and 'Police'

There's a sprinkling of ex-Hotspur civvies but otherwise all the figures shown here come from Matt at Elhiem. Civvies in the back row, then armed Police/RUC/MP, front left; and finally, a group of BAOR01 squaddies on their backs having a quick fag break, front right. The latter waiting to have their helmeted heads removed to be replaced with 'crap hats'.

 Elheim armed Police/RUC/MP

If you haven't seen them before now, there are three packs of Police/RUC/MP types in Ehiem's Cold War, BAOR range. These are BAOR12 with Stirling SMG and SLRs; BAOR13 with M1 Carbine, G3 and Mini14; BAOR14 with pistol, sterling smg and female officer.

BAOR12 is the strongest pack. Luuuverrrly miniatures who simply look the biz. The officers with pistol and Sterling in BAOR 14 are also great characters.

What are they like? Female officer aside, all the Police/RUC/MP figures have peaked caps, service jackets, flak vests, sidearm in holster and a hand radio suspended from their left hip. A couple have their trousers gathered into boots, the rest loose. Shirts and ties are also visible, which puts them more into the Police/RUC camp than military.

From a Winter of '79 perspective they could easily represent British Police in an urban uprising envelope. In 1981, D11 was issued with the L1A1, various gas guns, grenade launchers and baton round dischargers 'just in case' due to the rise in public disorder in the first years following the Conservative election. From the latter part of the seventies county and city police forces around the UK created their own versions of the Met's now infamous Special Patrol Group.  There's nothing to say you wouldn't have seen them coming down your street in our alternative 1979 and therefore add aanother  dimension to Winter of '79 games.

The heads look like they'll come off quite easily, so if you prefer to represent D11 specialist firearms officers, armed security, private army or other pseudo-military organisation, simply glue a mix of beret/bare heads in their place. 

Reagan and Carter?

 HIP03 1970's Style Teen/twentys Males has three figures. Very nice as bystanders, dickers, or unarmed players. However, maybe it's just me, but the two pictured above really look like they could pass for Reagan and Carter from The Sweeney. Wouldn't be hard to give them firearms either.

Anyway, time to get back to the grind!


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Another Day Another Foot Patrol

 The Wessex Rangers on urban foot patrol
ex-Hotpsur miniatures

"Looks like it's going to rain again corp."

 Think I've just about managed to convince Rolf to make some British Internal Security troops suitable for Winter of '79. In the meantime, I've managed to score enough Hotspur Internal Security bods in hackled berets and flak jackets from eBay to build up a 12 man patrol of 3 four man bricks. I'm currently converting two figures (1 kneeling, 1 walking) into GPMG gunners.

 On patrol in the 'cuds',bundie bashing
Elhiem Figures this time round
painted by Jim Brent for my collection

Swopped out the patrolling figures for more warry types.
Patrol leader giving out fire control orders.

There's no getting away from the fact that I do like the Elhiem patrolling BAOR figures. The fact that Matt's BAOR range includes both patrolling and fighting poses means that in small scale actions like ours, you can swop out the patrolling figures for more warry poses when action begins. So I have two sections each of both the patrolling and fighting poses. In part this came about in order to improve the mix of NCO/leader figures in the fighting sections. And as you can see above, I use my 20 year old plus Platoon 20 GPMG gun team to add more variety within the platoon.  Another very useful Platoon 20 figure is the 'Charlie G' gunner that comes bundled with the GPMG team.


Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Power To The People! in 20mm

Yes, the revolution is on! Wayne Bollands at Wargames Illustrated contacted me recently and asked if I'd like to write a wargamer's guide to Winter of '79 for inclusion in the magazine later this year. Can't tell you how chuffed I am to be asked, especially as it came at a time when I had just opened this new chapter of my life. The result has been a welcome boot up the bum to get a move on!

I'd like to introduce you to our new protagonist and erstwhile protector of the people, 'Badger' Smith of the Tooting Bec Popular Front!

Badger Smith of the Tooting Bec Popular Front
My own conversion of a RH Models' Uzi toting figure
Painted by Mark Griffin, Pumpkin Models

The Tooting Bec Popular Front
A mix of RH Models and Platoon 20 conversions
Painted by Mark Griffin, Pumpkin Models

 Urban Revolutionaries
More RH Models and Platoon 20 conversions
Painted by Mark Griffin, Pumpkin Models

All but one of the figures are 20mm from either RH Models or Platoon 20. Most were straight forward head and/or weapon swop conversions. I love doing these conversions as they add that little bit extra character that's out of the norm. The Tooting Bec Popular Front all sport Fulham FC scarves made from Green Stuff.  Whilst 'Badger' himself saw me adding lashings of Green Stuff to create the Afghan coat, long hair, raised fist and finally scarf to an Urban Meltdown figure which had been given a suitably selected beret head taken from a Falklands era figure.

Mark Griffin of Pumpkin Models has helped me out with the painting. Mark is a great guy and in this case, the brief I gave him for the miniatures was for '70's urban chic'. Greys, muted colours, jeans/denim and either German Army combat jackets or Italian/Portuguese camo jackets - both of which were readily available in most high street army surplus stores at the time. I think he's done a great job of interpreting my wishes, don't you?

The photos above were supplied by Mark and represent work in progress to allow me to correct anything before varnishing. In this case I'll be finishing the basing myself with an urban theme. More to come.