Tuesday 31 January 2012


On 5th May 1980, the Special Air Service shot to world fame in front of the TV cameras. In an now iconic image, black clad SAS troopers stormed the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate, London and executed a perfect hostage rescue, enabling you to proudly tell your mates down the pub that you were the elusive "3rd man on the balcony" and scribe your name on the boathouse doors at Hereford.

Now Winter of '79 in conjunction with Tony's Card Models gives you the opportunity to relive Operation Nirmrod in all it's daring glory and become "3rd man on the Balcony."

Available from today, a multi-storey card model of the Iranian Embassy, Princes Gate, London, 1980. It comes with five separate floors each with internal room detail, and is available in both 15mm and 20mm scales.

Originating from a customer request, this is a gaming representation of the actual building not a true scale model. Nevertheless it represents an excellent, value for money gaming piece suitable for Geezers, Call of Cthulu, Zombie rampages and of course... Winter of 79 mayhem.

To find out more, join Red Team and storm Tony's Card Models website.


Sunday 29 January 2012

Is this the road to Amblève?

Ahead of Skorzeny's Panzer Brigade 150, this party of English-speaking German commandos in American uniforms will be causing trouble for the yanks. You have to agree, best bit of the movie Battle of the Bulge (1965), are the fake US MPs led by nasty Nazi Lieutenant Schumacher, played by Ty Hardin. So, we can't NOT include them in our 'pizzabase' Ardennes wargames can we?

Of course, these figures will also play a turnabout part as genuine US MPs thrown into the line alongside Engineers to halt the German breakthrough. And here are the first Dogfaces, bases still to be winterised. Looks like a scene from the movie already!

 "But we're cooks!"
"Lunch is over! Grab your rifles!" 

As an aside, I'm currently wondering if we should try some sort of bastardised Infantry Aces mini-campaign to add some depth and character to the games? Will think about that one.

This coming week, back to the Falklands as I paint 20mm Buzo Tactico for their raid on the Govenors Residence in Stanley as portrayed in the film An Ungentlemanly Act.


A&A Miniatures Playtest: Schwerpunkt AFRIKA

A quick test of the Axis and Allies Miniatures rules played with ahem, miniatures, 'Pizzabase' et al.

Simple and err, fun. The 'Pizzabase' concept also focuses the game. You don't waste an hour and a half of game time with long range sniping in the hope of scoring a hit, or frustratingly crawling your armies across the tables at 3" per turn, only to have to rush the final assault. No, 'Pizzabase' puts you right in the focal point of the action. Perhaps we should call it 'Pizzabase Schwerpunkt'.


Saturday 28 January 2012

"Those Ain't Engineers!"

Skorzeny's Mob have arrived! In fact waiting outside the door for me this evening were not one, but TWO boxes from Maelstrom Games.

Box One opened to reveal the absolutely cracking Forged in Battle Panzer Brigade 150 set; Panther disguised as an M10, StuG, Hanomag and a Sdkfz 250 with 'American' crew. Lovely models, crisply moulded. The only thing missing? Skorzeny himself! Maybe needs the FoW General von Sauken set, GE888, with a headswop to fieldcap for Herr General. And to support PzBde 150, a blister of FiB Fallschirmjager.

Only the other day I found that Skytrex were now selling their Command Decision Fallschirmjager in squad packs and thought "sod it" but no, I definitely made the right choice given we are playing with Axis & Allies Miniatures as the best of the bunch have an Artizan Miniatures feel to them. I'm going to do some conversions - Panzerfausts, moving MG42s etc. May use some of the heads, which are generally very well executed, on some other German figures in order to increas the weapons, pose mix and Late War look.

Box Two? A superb Forged in Battle M5 tank platoon (ish) - four M5A1 Stuarts, again crisply moulded. And to support them.... a blister of FiB American Airborne. Now these guys are more D-Day and Eindhoven than Bulge and to be fair that's what they were bought for. Nevertheless they burst with "Devils in Baggy Pants" 'lost in France' character! I have posted full reviews on TMP for both these FiB sets.

After a rollercoaster week at work where once again, no sooner had things settled than my project was shaken like a snow globe, these make me a very happy boy indeed!

I may, just may, spring for the FiB US Rifle Platoon pack to paint up as generic dogfaces in M43 jackets and convert a few to greatcoats. But they don't quite look right to me. Cartoonish but if I can accept that it's in the style of Bill Mauldin's characters "Willie & Joe" they'll pass muster.

Just bear in mind that the 'platoon' boxes just contain 40 assorted figs - NOT platoons according to any TOEs.


p.s. FoW Marder III ausf m, arrived today! Lovely model.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Card Models Now Support 10mm and 15mm

Have you checked Card Models recently?

I've been working the Tony to bring his creations into other scales - namely 15mm and 10mm. Pendraken will be releasing a 10mm Falklands Range in the very near future and Tony is happy to bring out his Falklands range of buildings in 10mm to suit! Here are the Pendraken Falklands Conflict greens in progress...

 Pendraken 10mm Falklands Range
Courtesy Pendraken Miniatures Forum

Keep up with the goss. and all the latest release information on the Pendraken Forum.


Wednesday 25 January 2012

Cracking On

Worked on 12 bases of Volksgrenadiers last night. The figs are mostly Peter Pig's original Germans w.greatcoat sculpts. Nice figs but limited poses and a frustrating command pack where you get three officers, three radios but only 2 NCO/SMGs. To add variety I've mixed in a handful of original Battlefront late war Germans (pre Flames of War). They had been completely forgotten about and suddenly emerged from hiding this week.

These were left-overs from my first 15mm LW German force. Back in those heady days pre FOW you got a box of rifles only from Battlefront and then had to buy a command box that held the officers, NCOs, radios, and light machinegun crews. I bought two command boxes to load my Panzergrenadiers with SMGs, MG42's and a 'bucket brigade' of guys carrying ammo cans to feed the MG42.

Back to the Volksgrenadiers. To further ring the changes, some of the Krauts w.greatcoats have been given combat caps from Peter Pig's very useful range of spare heads. Being Volksgrenadier, I suppose I have to add some Stg44s. I know there's a couple of stands from an FoW Assault Rifle platoon rattling around, so maybe just touch up their bases and leave it at that.

 Flames of War GE106

Dug-out my Marders. Sadly Marder IIs, when I really fancy a Marder III h or III m for the Bulge. The 'h' version feels more Eastern Front, so has to be the 'm'. Forged in Battle have a box of 4 Marder III m for £17.55 at Maelstrom Games. Less than a fiver each - but do I really need four?  One will do at a pinch - FOW have a nice one at £6.75, again from Malestrom. Talked myself into it whilst writing this, and promptly ordered one. Oh, if only 20mm Moderns were that easy!

I have a solitary Tiger tank. Not seen much action...... I think time for some whitewash don't you!


Tuesday 24 January 2012

Kampfgruppe Schweinhund coming together...

The Americans are going to be a bit more difficult. I have a Forged in Battle M5 platoon on the way, an FOW Tank Destroyer Platoon that needs dusting off, that's armour sorted. But I think Bastogne is going to have to be held by Major O'hoolihans FOW Airborne Engineers and whoever else we can scrape together from the spares box!


Sunday 22 January 2012

Wacht Am Weekend

Just a taster....

First Germans are almost done using figures lying around. Some more stands in greatcoats, plus some Fallschrimjager with scarves and balaclavas are in the pipe. I also quite fancy a SturmTiger for the fun of it!

The figs are based on the small FOW bases, in this case MDF ones from Warbases.co.uk. We going to use use Axis and Allies Miniatures rules (available as download), but the figs and vehicles will be kosher 15's. The scale and depth of Axis and Allies Miniatures game fits with our Pizzabase gaming concept and has proved fun in the past.

Really being inspired by this small side project and I expect it to reflect on my other gaming in days to come. 


Wednesday 18 January 2012

Carry On Up The Meuse!

 It's not often these days I'm immediately inspired to flex the credit card, but this little beauty from Forged in Battle struck a cord with me. It just says Battle of the Bulge in a box! Add a Schwimmwagen, a gaggle of winterised Fallschrimjager or SS troopers and you have a tasty little 'pulp' force to throw on the tabletop against an equal hodgepodge of thrown together American units that both Maff and I already own.

So we each independently ordered a box from Maelstrom Games (£17.55 less a further 17% off, until 23rd Jan) and begun planning an unexpected winter diversion of 'Pizzabase Ardennes' where the Germans, all Panzerlied and jackboots, are always striking for the Meuse and the Americans are stoically defending Bastogne in a simile to quote the Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, Narnia has become a place where it'salways winter, but never Christmas".

'Pizzabase Ardennes' is not meant to be sensible, historical or realistic - just simply an excuse for some fun on the tabletop, in good old fashioned Airfix style! And given that work itself is currently always winter, but never Christmas" we both need the mental diversion of a discrete 'quick win' fun project.

Maff is off to CRUSADE at Penarth at the end of the month. With no news from Rolf about forthcoming 20mm Argentinian Buzo Tactico for the Falklands Campaign, I've asked Maff to pick up two packs of suitable figs from Stonewall Miniatures - but only after he's checked them thoroughly - cause they can be real dogs! I'd rather not but, hey!

Thanks to Tony at Card Models, I now have Government House and surrounds crying out for some Ungentlemanly Act action on the tabletop, as the Marines of Naval Party 8901 attempt to give their uninvited guests a good kicking.

And until then, it's Panzerlied and stompin jackboot fun in the Ardennes.


Sunday 15 January 2012


Radio Check, OK Over......

A tough week back at work with things gearing up again following the Christmas and New Year break. But mostly good news regarding my project and looking forward to the week ahead at work.

I had an external interview later in the week, which in turn has opened other doors for me within my own organisation. All in all, not a lot of energy left over for gaming.

Won some street lights on Ebay for my urban set up. Getting the right ones was really difficult. Eventually an international eBay seller came to the rescue with some 6v single arm 100mm tall lamps. I had previously picked up a few old Merit ones and they are just OK, the Hornby ones are a disgrace given their experience and heritage so left them well alone, and most of what's on the market would either suit Victorian London or just too fancy for a bog standard 1970's street lamp.

Should be back into the swing of things from tomorrow.


Saturday 7 January 2012

First Look at Elheim's New BAOR

Elheim's new BAOR figures arrived today.  They had a bit of competition, because several small packets arrived at once including some new unreleased 15mm Sci Fi figures from Khurasan.

Apologies for the quality of the pic. Best of the bunch - I'll replace it later. In the meantime look here (link).

So, what you get in this first BAOR pack (BAOR01) are eight 70's/80's squaddies in 'patrolling/advance to combat' poses. Six are armed with L1A1 SLR, one carrying a Sterling with slung Charlie G, and a GPMG gunner. There's two 'leader' figures - one pointing/gesticulating, the other, obviously 'corp' raising his clenched fist at alert the section.

The defining feature of these figures and of squaddies in the field generally has to be the scrimmed and hessian helmet. I really like the way this has been portrayed and that it's sitting low over the brow in typically warry fashion.

The '58 pattern webbing comes across as a wee bit svelte on these guys - I can understand if designed from photos of empty kit laid out, but in the field, this stuff ballooned with all your essentials crammed in. The kidney pouches, 'bum roll' and respirator (and sandwiches) case just don't quite capture the feel for me. The 'bum roll' needs to be bigger as this not only carried a poncho but your Noddy suit. The respirator case has to really bulge at the side and hang annoyingly (lol). It could be it's all been sculpted ito true scale and it's just my memory of hefting it about that has inflated over the years? Nevertheless it's crisp and well detailed, so should respond well to highlighting/drybrushing.

Conversely, unlike the pouches, the pockets on the figures' trousers are bulging at the seams! I see where they keep all their kit! Looks like the QM had a special on Chicken Supreme - those little brass tins of joy! These Toms must rattle like a tinker's donkey when they double! Note that they do not have packs. As we are talking BAOR primarily for these figs, these would be carried in the section wagon.

The  'GIMPY'( GPMG) No.1 has a belt of ammo festooned round his neck but none ready for action. A nice touch is a small sprue with a choice of open or folded bipod which can be attached to the weapon. Overall the GPMG itself looks about right. I'm still not convinced by the pose and feel. IMO it would be better if the butt of the weapon was carried under the elbow and the weapon, slightly more level.

The only glaring omission in the pack is a discernible No.2 for the 'Charlie G' with his ammo case. But two plastic tubes glued to the back of one of the riflemen will do the job if you are that fussed.

How do they stack up against other similar BAOR figures?  First off, they are taller than any I own (Platoon 20, ex-Hotspur, Britannia, Liberation). The older Platoon 20 and ex-Hotspur minis come off worse in a direct height comparison, being the better part of a head smaller. The kneeling Platoon 20 Carl Gustav No.1 and lying GPMG team (best) work well with the Elheim figures if you want to give your Section a bit of variety. Both Britannia and Liberation are half a head shorter. Not really noticeable looking down on them from two feet away. I popped my CP-Models Falklands figs away somewhere safe till I got round to painting them and will let you know how they stack up once I disentangle the study following the Christmas break.

Overall I really like these figures. They have have the correct feel of Brecon drizzle and damp German fir forest about them. Detail is good and best of all the patrolling poses are very natural. They are also carrying their weapons pointing down, not waving around like clowns (Hurrah!), a personal pet hate.

A great start! Not disappointed, very suitable for Winter of '79 and definitely worth keeping an eye on what other BAOR codes appear from Elheim.


Thursday 5 January 2012

The rubbish is piling up!

Here's my first foray into sculpting urban scatter terrain from DAS clay. Wins no prizes, and does look better in the flesh, so to speak, but once painted and grunged up will save my pounds for more important things.

Will keep practising and try other techniques, but the results are encouraging given that I'm using DAS clay and a cocktail stick and have expended a total of two hours to create 40+ single bin bags, 4 groups, a sofa and mattress.

The stacks above took maybe 5-6 minutes each. This was because I especially wanted to portray bags that had settled and were squashed by the weight of the bag/s on top. In addition, I wanted to make sure the top ones looked like they had settled naturally. Once I have a couple of stacks that I think look just right, I'll mould and cast them.

The 'sofa' was carved out of a block of a single block of DAS that had started to harden. In the future I'll  make separate arms and then bring the whole thing together once dry.
Above all, the most important thing is that this has been fun!


Wednesday 4 January 2012


If you think I just write about a load of rubbish, then you could be right! Inspired by Tony's Urban Decay range of card stock buildings, here's a photo of my first home made 20mm bin bags!

They're made from a lump of DAS Clay rolled into a 1cm diameter ball.  The ball of DAS is then flattened slightly on the cutting mat followed by a pinch to the top and twist. The detailing is done with a cocktail stick. In all, perhaps a minute per bin bag. Some are better than others but hey! It's easy to lose concentration after 10 or so and that's what happened with this batch. Though I'm sure they'll be more forgiving once painted.

The general idea is that these bin bags will be stacked with street furniture or added singly or perhaps in pairs to compliment broken pallets, old sofas, abandoned cars etc. the usual urban detritus of a decayed inner city.

My initial plan, had been to create the body of the bag and then go back once dry to add a knot/tie and/or opening, but I don't actually think it's worth it in this scale.

A couple of piles of bin-bags are in the works but I found it more difficult than I bargained for due to the pliability of the clay or my lack of patience, or both. I'll be going back to attack the problem using Fimo or cheap(ish) Miliput.

Right! Let's go off and make some ubiquitous wooden pallets, the odd discarded mattress and a worn-out sofa or two!


p.s. Just thought I'd add that the Wheelie Bin didnt come into common use till the late eighties. Households and most shops had steel rubbish bins until then. The plastic bin bag became synonymous with the Winter of Discontent in 1979 when they were piled high on Britain's streets during the strikes.

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Shorland Armoured Vehicles

Following yesterday's post I thought I'd look at what models of the Shorland Armoured Patrol Car were available in 20mm.

The similarity to a Series II Land Rover is no accident as the Shorland is based on the 109 Land Rover chassis, sharing 80% of standard Land Rover components. Originally built for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, they were transferred to the Ulster Defence Regiment and their place taken by the Hotspur armoured Land Rover. The Hotspur having a less militaristic and more classic Land Rover profile.

Back in November, Hobby Den released a 1/72 Shorland Armoured Patrol Car in resin for 6.50 Euros. Also available through their eBay store.

AMC also make the Shorland Armoured Patrol Car in 1/72. Once again it's a resin kit - with huge resin spures/ingates that need to be removed and strangely the body comes in two parts, divided widthways across the middle. The AMC kit is a relatively rare find and I've seen it for £21 in the UK and $40 in the US whihc is a bit steep.A shame because their Israeli armoured car and 'Bambi' armoured car kits would otherwise make great improvised armoured vehicles.

 BW Models also make a 1/76 Shorland Mk3 (BW26), illustrated below. This is a full metal kit for £9.00.

An interesting (for Winter of '79) offshoot of the Shorland Armoured Patrol Car was the SB301 Armoured Patrol Vehicle.

Described as an 'armoured mini-bus' the APV was developed from the Shorland around 1974. It carried a commander, driver and 6 passengers. BW Models make one of these vehicles too (BW31). There's something about the model that makes it look ideal as a tactical response vehicle for Police forces or local militias/Volunteer Groups. In your games, you could even claim it's an improvised armoured vehicle built in the style of the Spanish Civil War 'blindados'.

The Shorland's armour could withstand standard NATO 7.62mm rounds fired from the L1A1 or GPMG at over 47 yards. For more information on the Shorland series of armoured vehicles make sure you check out Clive Elliott's excellent website, shorlandsite.com.


Monday 2 January 2012

Patrolling Inspiration

If you are reading the blog and wondering about what vehicles to get, perhaps no more than two, in order to try a bit of Winter of '79 for yourself, then I suggest you take a look at Ellis Replicas for inspiration.

Ellis produce some really stunning 1/60 (around 25mm) replica British Army and security forces vehicles/AFVs, permanently mounted on textured bases.  Like this Shorland Armoured Patrol Car and Humber 'Pig' APC in the picture above.

I dunno. There's just something about the groupings I personally gained inspiration from, and led me to start collecting a wider range of British Army vehicles in 20mm than just those more commonly associated with the Cold War. In turn this widened the initial scope of my Winter of '79 collection.

These mini dioramas allowed me to easily envision the likes of the Humber Pig and GRP Land Rover pair or the Shorland Armoured Patrol Car and Humber 'Pig' on patrol somewhere in the West Midlands, on the welsh border, or on the streets of Tooting Broadway. Small scale skirmish scenarios screamed at me from the images, which I will be bringing to life this year.

So, if you want to know where to begin with something like Winter of '79, then the Shorland, Humber Pig and two bricks or even a full Section of British Infantry; and you have your Government forces. Add a GRP Land Rover together with a third brick or a command/specialist element and you have a versatile tabletop force fit  for any number of small actions. Then at some stage maybe tack on an SAS brick, a Westland Scout or Gazelle and Ambridge is yer oyster!


Sunday 1 January 2012

Elheim BAOR Now Available

Elheim Figures Cold War Toms are available from today as BAOR1 British Army Section on patrol, priced £6.00.

I like the patrolling poses as they appear in the WIP photo above (courtesy Ambush Alley forum), which look very natural for the SLRs and Sterling. The Section includes a section leader and a Charlie G No.1 carrying a Sterling, which is a nice touch. Elheim have a free postage offer running till 2nd Jan, so get in quick!



First off, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Winter of '79 remains my main gaming focus for the coming year, with off-shoots into the Falklands and even pulp seventies Africa (The Bakonga of '79). I hold my hands up and say that I let the painting and modelling side of things slide in 2011. I aim to put that right in 2012, so you will definitely see more painting and modelling related posts as I relearn the skills lost due to my neurological trauma earlier in the year.

2012 is also likely to be a challenging year across the globe. Flexibility and the willingness to adapt to the coming change is the key to remaining above water. We are lucky in that we have a hobby which allows us to escape the real world if we let it. So Winter of '79 will be our own safe refuge from the sometimes insanity of the day job and world at large.

28mm Zulu War using Black Powder and a measured return to 15mm/20mm Sci Fi are also on the cards. More about the latter on Dropship Horizon soon. The Zulu War will be a slow burner and won't really take off until after Easter. In the meantime Tims Miniature Wargaming Blog elicits inspiration and envy in equal measure, and I'm keeping a firm eye on Matakishi's Zulu War Project for ideas and inspiration.

Thanks for following the blog and listening to my ramblings. All the best for the coming year! Have a good one!