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 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! 


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.


Monday 22 June 2015

Taking the battle door to door

Here are the best pics from our latest Lock Stock & Two Smokin' Sterlings encounter over the weekend. Rosamund Terrace. A street of attractive three storey Edwardian terraces in better times. It could be the street you grew up in or where your dad played footie in the road after school. In the Winter of '79 the battle takes place in any street, in any town....

Lance-Jack Dave leads his 'Green Army' 
patrol into Rosamund Terrace.
"Chippie at end of street lads. Mine's a Saveloy".
(Elhiem Figures: BAOR)

 Eager to defend the Chippie, anti-government forces
spill out from Pike Lane to take up fire positions 
(ex-Hotspur: Command and M&AWC)

Gaz: "Let's finish this lads! Then a nice cuppa and 
slice of cake at me mums!"
(ex-Hotspur: SAS/SBS & M&AWC)
More troops are drawn in to the escalating gun battle. 
Corporal Reg takes orders: "Two cod and chips, one plaice and chips. 
How many pickled onions was that?"
(Elhiem Figures: BAOR)