Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Just briefly to post some ongoing stuff … NQM Chris donated some plastic and resin 3D prints which has triggered a ‘high command group’ which will fit over the Rostov Germans. It prompted this mash of a Zvezda Blitz with an old Matchbox toy radio truck body to provide the communications element.

The clothes line aerial is, of course, some bent wire (a paper clip, if you need to know!) … I think it will look bang on when the new parts are painted in. Elsewhere, there is a Protze Staff car full of PP orderlies and officer – and a PzI Flakwagen (crew by PP, trailer by FiB) to give some protection. The (Pz I) resin is much lovelier than the plastic.

I also decided to put to bed this heavy lift fuel tanker which has been sitting on the desk for ages. It’s made up of old toys and was going to supply the French armour at El Alamein – but when the Orbat came through for the big game, I didn’t need it -so force majeure, it got pushed to the side as the kit in the game took priority. I think its time has come, though.

Next month, I should be back to the horsedrawn projects – and who knows, I might get a game (as in toys on table, players in the room moving them … rolling dice … ) … We await in anticipation.

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After many, many months of zooms and quiet evenings prepping and painting, this week we were actually able to play a proper face-to-face wargame. This was of Trebian’s Spanish Civil War wargame – ans in celebration, here are a few shots …

For more on this game, why not visit Treb’s site wargamingforgrownups

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PBI A Clash in the Desert

PBI shedq 01

This is the story of a fictitious clash in the desert – a story I shall mostly tell in pictures … a French force operating on the Allied Southern flank running into an Italian Sahariana patrol.

PBI shedq 02(the terrain as I planned it at home … the white squares are impassable. In PBI terms, the black squares are ‘closed’ any other scenery makes the square ‘partial’)

PBI shedq 03(… and as it turned out to be, with troops deploying onto it)

The Italians should have radio’d-in the contact, maybe set some booby-traps and then disappeared into the sands, according to their doctrine.

But it wasn’t to be.  They were there for a purpose – this was where they had requested a supply drop and that turned up randomly at the beginning of the game.

PBI shedq 04(PBI desert action: the Italian supply drop)

Thanks to Megablitz Tim for kindly donating a splendid Italian Sparviero to my collection – it made it’s combat debut by dropping the Italian supplies to the French (a random die roll that looked anything but!)!  The scenario assumed the Italians would try a sharp action against the French in the hope of recovering them or getting there first.

PBI shedq 04a(Italian Saharianas contact the advancing French – models by Battlefront)

The decision to fight was greeted by a Hawk fighter-bomber over flying the French advance

PBI shedq 05

Seemingly following the same script, its strafing run completely missed the Italian vehicles.

PBI shedq 06(French Tirailleurs occupy the buildings – figures by Peter Pig)

PBI shedq 07(a Mk III Crusader dominated the early phases of the engagement – model by QRF)

PBI shedq 08(the French gain the cactus grove)

PBI shedq 09(supported by the tank, Chasseurs disguised in Arab clothing capture the centre)

PBI shedq 09a(on the French right, FFL advance past burning Italian carriers – knocked out by a captured Italian A/T rifle)

The game seems to swing momentarily to the Italians as their gunners find their mark …

PBI shedq 10(A Semovente and Breda MMG range in on the advancing French)

PBI shedq 12(The Crusader dominated the centre but just took too many hits – one was bound to get lucky!)

PBI shedq 11a(the second Sahariana platoon pepper the French with hits)

PBI shedq 11(that Conus Hotchkiss/Bren carrier takes a big hit)

But by now more of the French force arrives …

PBI shedq 13(PBI desert action: more Conus specials roll onto the battlefield)

… and the Italians are beaten.

PBI shedq 14(on the left, supported by AMDs, the Tirailleurs race forward as the Italians melt away)

PBI shedq 15(the French now also dominate the right flank)

This action also saw a first PBI action for the Conus ‘Jock Column’ vehicles that fought so bravely in NQM mode at Alamein.

Vehicle losses were very high on both sides – partially due to the flimsy or negligible armour of most of the vehicles … and partially due to the very aggressive handing of them.

PBI gives you the chance to take plenty of hits – but not indefinitely.

We are now using an adapted version of PBI 2006 that is looking more and more like PBI2.




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New Accessions Dec 18 01

What’s been going on on the P.B.Eye-Candy workbench?  Well quite a bit of in-filling and a few new things too.

Above we see a couple of Zvezda fighters … not new, but ones I’ve not made before … from the same manufacturer, a couple of SU76s (absolutely new to everyone – I had these on notification order waiting for their promised release, so my guess is not many people have seen them) … and a couple of useful Skytrex models to round out some Eastern Front units.

But first …

Some French Foot Figures

I did these for the Alamein game to go with the Free French/FFL armour but they needed a bit more tidying up … anyway, here’s some pictures …

foot figs 01(here’s my commander … maybe Horrocks or Lumsden … based on the Peter Pig Andy Gittins figure)

He got some staff too … nice overloaded sedan, again from Piggie-land …

foot figs 05

I made up a couple of double based width units (so CK’s NQM size) for the Marine Infantry and the Greeks …

foot figs 03

The mine clearance markers are normal size, however … how important (albeit slow) these would be in the game …

foot figs 02(the minesweepers are from the 8th Army set – with head swaps as appropriate … the diggers are conversions)

foot figs 04(Yesthatphil’s Peter Pig 8th Army adapted to represent French Marines)

Zvezda new and old

I’ve stuck to my policy of making and painting what I buy so this is what I bought as a result of the end of the show season (I find it hard to spend at shows these days as there’s almost nothing I want available unless I get online … which eventually I did after Recon)

New Accessions Dec 18 02

The two little planes went together very quickly and I had some fun photographing the 109 against the trees through the window …

New Accessions Dec 18 03

New Accessions Dec 18 04

I made a ground base with a short mounting stub for the Polikarpov (which I assembled ‘wheels up’ for primary use on a flight stand).

New Accessions Dec 18 04a

I have replaced the fragile propellers with plastic disks … cutting them out hasn’t been a complete success – so expect a modelling entry when I figure out a cheap and neat way to do this (meanwhile just don’t look too closely!)


21st Panzer have been short of a self-propelled anti-tank unit and this lovely model comes from Skytrex.  All metal but you will need to find some crew figures.

New Accessions Dec 18 05

New Accessions Dec 18 06(model by Skytrex, added crew from Forged in Battle and PSC)

New Accessions Dec 18 06a(crew figures are a mix of Peter Pig and Battlefront)

I am very pleased with them.

I got the PzJ and the Scout Car as part of a small order that arrived within 3 days of a weekend browse. Well impressed.  Nice models, good price, exemplary service.

Models2U were slower delivering my SU76s … never mind, perhaps – they were worth the wait.  They are a bit fiddly … more like proper kits, these days, and I will add a review shortly – but here are some pictures …

New Accessions Dec 18 08

New Accessions Dec 18 09

These are such an important part of the Red Army it is nice to have an accurate and inexpensive model available.  Like the Skytrex models, however, you do have to find some crew figures.

More notifications as soon as I get the modelling tips and reviews written up.

Happy New Year!

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Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 01

A couple of visits worthy of mention over the last few months …

Just before Christmas I was down at the National Army Museum in Chelsea – worthy of a blog entry in itself.

It’s a mixture of traditional exhibits from almost anywhere and anytime with more up-to-date and politically correct meditations on the nature and impact of conflict.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 02

And a timeline of the British Army, of course …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 03

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 04

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 05

Whilst I was there, in addition to the permanent collection, there was an fascinating exhibition of military art … tracking the history and themes through time.  Very much what I have been doing though much of it more modern than my current topics.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 06

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 07

Here’s a look at the detail in this massive and meticulous scene from the Raj …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 08

… and a classic example of lost commander pathos …

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 09a

These are scenes intended to convey the meaning and emotion of the event – not to be taken as a ‘photographic’ record of the event.

Waterloo Uncovered

For the toy soldier enthusiast, of course, one of the prime exhibits will always be Siborne’s Waterloo.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 10

… and, indeed, Waterloo was the purpose of my visit: TV’s Dr Tony Pollard (2 Men in a Trench; Nazi Megastructures etc.) is closely involved in Waterloo Uncovered – the archaeological project for combat veterans (follow the link) and had organised a meeting to launch/trial an idea for a massive wargame.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 11

Here’s me. the Perrys and a few others from the team trying out a conventionally sized wargame.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 13

… with obvious exceptions, most were not wargamers, so this was to see if reconstructing the battle with model soldiers would actually work for them as well as to kick off Tony’s dream of an impossibly big version.

You may well have read about this in WSS, but the plan is to recreate the battle as a Guinness Book of Records attempt at Glasgow University on the anniversary next year …

Delapre Abbey

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 14(a scene from the opening festivities at Delapre Abbey)

Finally a brief word on the progress at Delapre Abbey in Northampton.   It is mostly out of the P.B.Eye-Candy period but will go nicely with my Museums thread and is now open to the public.

Museums & Collections - NAM and Delapre 15

It is an immaculately refurbished country house on the original site of the nunnery beside which the battle of Northampton was fought – and features Battlefield Rooms in which I and colleagues at Northampton Battlefields Society were able to make an input.

Although there will inevitably be disappointments, a new battlefield interpretation facility is something to praise to the rafters – so here’s a brief look …

Delapre Opens 07

Delapre Opens 11

The best book on the battle remains Mike’s volume published by the battlefields society.  You can get it from us at an event or at Amazon (perversely not from the Museum shop – which is a whole other story) …

Delapre Opens 12

Apologies if WordPress mailed out the link before I completed the revisions – that happens sometimes.


The National Army Museum

Waterloo Uncovered

Delapre Abbey

Northampton Battlefields Society

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A little bit of PBI

Thanks to Will we were back on WWII and back on PBI but this time with his 20mm figures.

Quite an old school look, then, to this brave attempt by the French to hang on to a farmstead in the face of escalating German advances.

Will and Patrick took the Germans, ‘NQM Chris’ and I the French.

The Germans had a lot more automatic firepower than we did and slightly better tank support.  I doubted our 25mm Hotchkiss would stop them and expected to be overrun quite quickly.

(Patrick and Will deploy – withering fire and an assault seems iminent on our weak front)

We got some extra troops on sooner than the Germans and they had to swing left to help protect the Hotchkiss from an infantry attack.  Turret MGs proving sufficient for this as the Germans had already broken cover …

(Ooh la la … What a target mon ami!)

The Germans hastily responded but in doing so presented a perfect taget to the little French pop gun.

Rarely do I do ‘dice shots’ on P.B.Eyecandy but requiring 9 to hit, the French gunners excelled …

The remaining German troops on that flank (coutesy of maximum roll for action points) mounted an immediate grenade assault on the mixed French force.  They managed to strip away the infantry with preparatory shooting then trusted to their Manner gegen Panzer training.   It was messy.

(PBI: infantry assault armour … the red tokens are casualties)

It was heroic but ultimately failed.  As a game mechanism, they did get to roll more dice, but the vehicles get to roll to save (the foot do not): 2 hits a-piece, but the tanks saved one so the infantry are repulsed losing 2 stands.  The surviving stand was lost in the disengagement roll.

This, combined with a failed morale test on the other flank (after a mortar stonk) meant the German plan to wrap around the position had not worked.

They still had the means to mount a frontal attack.   But fresh French troops were now reinforcing the near empty position and the game clock was running down.

Against expectations, this hastily organised French position would hold on just a little longer.

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Tiger 01

This game mirrored some real events that took place in the Winter War … but for our purposes, the mission takes place in North Africa, just after the Vichy French forces joined the Allied cause.

Tiger 02

Some isolated German paratroops have taken possession of a broken down Tiger tank.  A French armoured car patrol has run into them and called up support.

The game is PBI and support for the Germans will come in the form of 2 ‘platoons’ of Saharianas … for the French, infantry is arriving and there will be an airstrike.

As you can see on the picture, the French player has been allowed to place a small platoon in ambush.


Tiger 03

The main objective is the broken down Tiger in the middle of the table.  It is not manned and has no function other than as a marker.

There are two secondary objectives …

Tiger 04

The Paras transport assets …

Tiger 05

… and the field kitchen and its essential victualing resources.  Because you just have to have one.

The Game:

At the start of the mission, some Laffly armoured cars are in a firefight around the gates to the old Casbah …

Tiger 06

The German AA truck was actually taken out by an anti-tank rifle from some of the Legionaires approaching from the East.

Tiger 07

But there was also a MG42 crew on the roof.

Tiger 08

… which effectivel pinned the Laffly’s down … and ultimately took them out.

Tiger 09

(one of these is destroyed, the little dice means the other is immoblised but might be recovered – unfortunately it got hit again … )

Meanwhile, the Arabs burst out in the buildings and close assaulted the Paras.

Tiger 10

Actually the placing player forgot they were in the square and machinegunned it.  So the first action was resolution of those hits … one of which went on the old jaloppy … and, on a saving roll of 1, turned out to be the group leader (PC equivalent and a Regular French Officer as it happens) …

If only you could plan these things.

In a bloody melee, the Arabs were thrown out …

Tiger 11

(PBI-style … the French airstrike lands in 3 empty squares)

Equally frustrating, the Hawk fighter missed its target (the required die roll allowing the defender to define the ‘off target’ drift).


We diced for these in traditional PBI style (which caused some predictable consternation as not everyone likes the mechanism) … I usually build arrivals into the scenario, but for this gathering I wanted to retain some flavour of the basic game.

Tiger 12

The Axis did rather well, getting their Company Commander and his jeep on early …

A fresh patrol …

Tiger 14

… and my newly painted Semovente – bought at Campaign, painted during the week – and straight onto the wargame table.  It had to be done.

Tiger 13

Amongst the French arrivals were these truck mounted Hotchkiss AA guns … quite vulnerable but about the best support weapons available to the French commander.

Tiger 15

But by this time the game (and real) clock was running it – and the intitial ‘coup de main’ had failed.

Although a bigger engagement could go either way, at this stage the French held none of the objectives and had lost a number of key vehicles (indeed all of the Lafflys … ) …

Fortune had allowed the Axis build to be more immediate and, as the picture shows, a strong grip was closing around the French footholds.

Tiger 16

Many thanks to the players for entertaining me for a coupe of hours – I really enjoyed seeing it play out.

This game still works for me.

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Apologies to followers and regular readers for a gap of some months – this has mainly been down to the combination of a long period of consolidation (chipping away at long term project rather than completing things that beg to be posted to the blog) coinciding with the meltdown of a laptop (thanks, Windows 10 and HP … the fact that you know this is an issue doesn’t minimise the inconvenience) …

Still … some updates are on the way and some pretty pictures from our game at Salute.

Welcome to 2017 at last.

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May Day

In addition to the usual parades …


… Stavka has also been able to send troops to the frozen front line … in the shape of some new ski troops from Battlefront/Flames of War.

Ski review 05b

You can see more of these on the reviews page (currently the feature).

I hope to add a few more items for the Winter War/Leningrad front before the big thaw (it will shortly be time to deploy the Summer Germans again) …

14 - 1a

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Plassenburg Collection 02a

Perched above the brewing town of Kulmbach,  Plassenburg castle houses the biggest tin soldier museum in the world, with a claimed 300,000 or so figures in the collection.  The 4 floors cover most periods of history from ancients to the mid 20th Century, and there are plenty of examples of early toy soldiers.

(More info)

Plassenburg Collection 00

Take the bus from the Stadthalle – it takes barely 5 minutes to get up to the top and only costs a few Euros.

Plassenburg Collection 02

Although the collection tells its story mostly with traditional German 30mm flats, round figures and other scales and styles are represented.

The big collections are from the 18th Century and Napoleonics, but much more is mixed in – including a room devoted to early North America.

A few photos can never do such a vast collection justice – but I will attempt to give pictorial impression by way of a review/taste:

ZFB 2013 14

(the museum was obviously busy all day – zinnfiguren clearly appeal to a big audience)

Plassenburg Collection 11

(early figures of different styles)

Plassenburg Collection 14

(do click on the pictures for a closer look)

Plassenburg Collection 10

(wartime German toy soldiers)

Plassenburg Collection 13

(Hyde figures camel corps)

Some of the figures are individual items on their glass shelves, or lined up in imaginary units, some are displayed as composed vignetes either on plinths or in light boxes …

Plassenburg Collection 22

… whilst most of the rooms have vast dioramas featuring thousands of figures recreating famous battles from military history.

ZFB 2013 11

(Prussian infantry drills modelled one-to-one)

The Age of Napoleon

Plassenburg Collection 09

Plassenburg Collection 06

Plassenburg Collection 05

(Crossing the Berezina)

The Age of Der Alte Fritz

Plassenburg Collection 03

Plassenburg Collection 21

… including the famous Battle of Leuthen diorama

Plassenburg Collection 17Plassenburg Collection 15Plassenburg Collection 16

A few other items

Plassenburg Collection 07

(North Eastern Indians)

Plassenburg Collection 08

Plassenburg Collection 08a

Plassenburg Collection 18

(The Battle of Pavia 1525)

Plassenburg Collection 19

(a scene from the Niebelungenleid)

Plassenburg Collection 20

(a cleverly posed boxed Pirate scene)

ZFB 2013 12

(Aztecs and Conquistadors)

Of course, the military collection includes airplanes, tanks, vehicles, balloons and ships …

Plassenburg Collection 24

I cannot recommend the Plassenburg soldier museum highly enough.  The were several other exhibitions in the castle when we visited, from regional history, the story of the castle in the Peasants uprisings, an art show, and the ‘Army of Frederick the Great’ (which boasted a splendid collection of flags and weapons), all of them would generally be worth an hour or so – but (if you share my tastes) the soldier museum is simply without parallel.   Entry to the soldier museum was a modest €4.00 (or available packaged with other exhibitions)

ZFB 2013 15

(central courtyard at Plassenburg – the shop and ticket office is in the far corner, the Zinnfiguren Museum opposite on the right)

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