Monday, 30 June 2014

444 - Change of Plan...But Here are some Pretty Pictures!

Okay, so I lied. I haven't got any more hobby time yet as (1) my dad's now in hospital and (2) the chance arose to do another week's worth of work marking exams and I need the money. Hobby, therefore, will have to wait.

On the plus side, whilst visiting the Ol' Sea Dog in Portsmouth, my offspring and I took a brief trip to Canoe Lake, where - as ever on a Sunday - the local R/C modellers were out in force...and this year they have a special theme! No prizes for guessing - enjoy the pics:
Annoyingly, I forgot to check the scale. These landing craft are about 3ft long though.
No. 1 Daughter's arm...
...and bizarrely, this is what Google+ considered to be an 'enhancement' of the above. Err...?
Toy soldiers, anyone?
That silver WWI tank is 1:6 scale, apparently!
Portsmouth. Twinned with Caen. Yup: I went there.
Some other floaty things.
I thought I'd take a shot of this too, but it's out of focus. At least you can see who did all the hard work!
Nos. 1 and 2 Daughters totally digging the craftsmanship...albeit to the detriment of the fence.
- Drax.
[back soon]

Monday, 23 June 2014

443 - Other Gaming Systems [State of the Union - Part 3]

Hullo, All.

My temporary second job is now over, so after almost a month away from any active modelling, I'm back.

And I'm wearing a hat.*

In this third and final 'State of the Union' post, I'm going to briefly explore my burgeoning interests in systems other than 40K or Flame of War. With luck, I'll be able to keep it brief for once...


This is the most obvious 'new' direction as I've already taken a few tentative steps down the road:
I really loved putting together this core 'reinforced platoon' in 15mm over Christmas [link] but I've not done anything with it since. Annoyingly, just after I'd given my old Battlefront 'Italy' rifle platoon a generic Early War feel (with a view to playing them - slightly unconvincingly - as BEF), Battlefront went and rejuvenated their Italian campaign with some great new releases, so I might have put the models to Flames of War use after all. Sod's Law.
My plan as it stands is to slowly continue building up this 'reinforced platoon' and to get a few games in at some point. I also built and started to paint up a Zvezda Matilda II...mostly because it's a simply beautiful tank to support a BEF force, so that's something in the pipline too.

Because it's the theatre I'm most interested in, and because I have all the support weapons I could hope to need already, I will at some point put together a reinforced platoon for the Overlord/Market Garden operations. One of the great aspects of the Bolt Action system is that you only ever need one of anything more complicated than an infantryman.

I've yet to explore the free pdf giving rules for gaming with armoured platoons in Bolt Action...but then again, I've yet to actually play Bolt Action full stop. Taking of which...


Yeah, this might happen, but then again probably not. The ranges work, of course, but the requirements of accurately painting historical uniforms and equpment etc. at this scale terrifies me! Plus the cost would be prohibitive. No, surely it'd be far better to explore...


Yup. THIS is the most likely next direction.
image from BBC
Vikings, Normans, no fixed uniforms to paint, small-ish and finite armies, fun miniatures, straightforward scenery...what's not to like?

Watch this space, eh? There's no money in the coffers but no rush, either.

Thanks for swinging by! If you've any thoughts about any of these (all of which are played in Plymouth, so within reach), do please let me know: especially SAGA, as I know very little about it, really.

- Drax.

*I'm not wearing a hat - certainly not indoors at any rate - but points for getting the reference.

Monday, 9 June 2014

442 - Future Directions and a Modelling Question [State of the Union - Part 2]

Hullo, and thanks for all your feedback to Part 1 [here].

This part is going to address different hobby directions, and I need an early night, so I'll try to keep it brief (the pics are below, as is my plea for advice). I'll stick tonight to...


Although I'm starved of reasonable opportunity to play this game, I'm absolutely bursting to do so again. I know it isn't a flawless system, but I love the mechanic of it, the scale works, tactically, and it looks great on the table too. My plans for Flames are - sadly - mostly predicated on what the excellent Plastic Soldier Company (PCS) does next, as my hoped-for North Africa force is based entirely around buying cheap tanks from them...


  • Finish off my beloved 11AD force (all I need really is a Vickers MG platoon and some Bofors guns);
  • Put together a bare-bones, fast, light tank company for North Africa: one based on Stuarts. I was on the cusp of buying fifteen of these from PCS when I double-checked and realised that the ones the have currently are M5s, and I really need M3s (which are on their 'future releases' list). The reason I want to build this force is not because I think it'll win lots of games(!) but because I want to challenge myself by fielding something other than grunts and big guns. A manoeuvrist approach to war is alien indeed to Drax!
  • Make an alternative LW force as a Guards Armoured Recce company. This is mostly so I can play with the Guards' more elite rules, recce Stuarts (not available to 11AD) and - vitally - field some Cromwells. I love these tanks, but they're simply better as Guards, and I want to get my money's worth.
  • [oh, and maybe I'm interested in getting the 'Open Fire' box set, because it's just fantastic. Anyone wanna go halfsies?]

Here's where stuff gets interesting. I have a few projects either on the slow-burner or still on the drawing board. These include:
  • Making my 'Pausing for a Brew' objective marker and getting it this space!
  • Tweaking and painting up my other objective marker - the pre-made Battlefront British Command Post
  • Scratch-building more North-Western Europe rural buildings and finishing up those that I have already made (I've realised I really enjoy making these)
  • Maybe scratch-building a 1:144 Auster to replace the 1:100 one I made before in good -but misguided- faith. Not a priority, but fun
  • Trying my hand at making more 15mm rural terrain. In fact, I'm even considering...
  • ...Putting together a simple Flames board based around a crossroads near Isigny-Sur-Mer in Normandy, near Carentan, and finally (linked to most of the above,)
  • Experimenting with my newly purchased clump foliage.
I bought myself two bags of clumpiness, in different shades and immediately rushed home to stick it to something. Here's the result on my 3" mortar platoon:
Note the ID flashes - 3" on white.
And here are my questions:
  1. How are you supposed to stick this stuff on so that it stays put?
  2. Ought I to have soaked it in PVA first?
  3. Does it look okay on these bases so far?
  4. Does anyone have any tips for making it look better? I know that I could mix up the colours, but I'm just trying it out to start with...
And that's it!

Please note also the now-completed conversions to the Universal Carriers (all three now have drivers and an extra Bren):
Until next time then,

Thanks in hopeful advance,

- Drax.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

441 - D-Day: June 6th 1944

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
The memorial US Sherman tank, dredged up from Torcross by locals in 1984.
[Edit: this post was meant to go up yesterday - no idea why it didn't. Grrrr.]

If any of my readers are unfamiliar with Exercise Tiger, you may be interested in following the link below. It was a D-Day training disaster which happened just down the road from us here in April '44 and almost 1000 servicemen (mostly American) died in a combination of E-Boat attacks and friendly-fire. It was 'conveniently forgotten' for forty years afterwards. [link]

You can see why they chose Torcross. Here it is today:
And here, from the air - as you can see, Slapton Sands is a shingle/sand mix about two miles wide... it's also only about 60 miles from Normandy.

The red line shows the villages that were evacuated for the troops and manoeuvres in the run-up to D-Day. I live and work a half-dozen miles to the left.
One of the landing craft at Slapton of the kind that was sunk by the E-boats.
Practising landings in Devon.
 I'm actually from Portsmouth - I have fond and powerful memories of the '94  events marking the 50th Anniversary of D-Day (my brother, for example, waited on the top table, so he got to serve The Queen and Clinton, amongst others). It's in my blood, and as such I've felt really isolated from the apparently excellent commemoration events that have been happening down there over the last couple of days.

Apparently a couple of planes with invasion stripes flew over the school yesterday, but I was teaching, alas, and missed them.

The anticipated schedule will briefly resume after this weekend...but then I'm back to grading papers for the next fortnight.

Yours, in remembrance,

- D.