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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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This one’s for Chris and Don …

Soviet Jubilee Parade

This is the NQM/Megablitz early Red Army Mechanised Corps I’ve been working on (just the vehicles, but with some of its later upgrades thrown in …)…  Still plenty of work to do but it could hold a little corner of the battlefield, I think.

Not to be outdone, Wilhelm von Apell invited his friends over for a quick photo …

The teeth of von Kleist’s 1st Panzer Armee

22 PZ and some asscoiated vehicles.  Even fewer real tanks!  Unfortunately I am in the midst of other projects, so I don’t have the space to get the infantry out at this stage (so we’ll have to content ourselves with drive by parades!) …


President Boyo gets in on the act (of course!)

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A Laager of admin and HQ stands belonging to Von Kleist’s First Panzer Army …

I completed the BMW motorcycle combo that has been on my table for weeks, and made a Staff car out of a Field Car I picked up from Skytrex at Salute.

These are mainly for games at Operational level, adding a Kradschutzen stand, and some transport for the higher command.

Kfz 21 Staff Car

The KFZ 21 is converted from Skytrex’s KFZ 16 model.  There are more details on the modelling page, but note the ‘real’ windscreen.

The BMW is PP‘s recently remodelled German Motorcycle combination.  I have done it straight from the pack (pretty much), and in a radically modified ‘parked’ version.  This is partly for ‘mounted/dismounted‘ use at the more detailed level of PBI, but mostly because I wanted to have a crack at the extreme conversion challenge of stripping the model down to basics.

BMW combination – crewed and uncrewed …

All I need now is to complete 1 GBJ Div. which is short of a motorised anti-tank abteilung – a towed 50mm (although for the Operational game, the precise size of the tubes isn’t that significant, of course).

I think the bikes came out very nicely – there are a few more comments on the reviews page

Things are coming together for a more detailed approach to the Battle for Rostov scenario, maybe in the summer.

(Peter Pig and Skytrex vehicles, Peter Pig figures and a ‘shrunk’ minitanks AA gun dismounted from its PP truck)

Somewhere in the Ukraine, Summer 1942 …

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