Great Movie Scenes #002

Just to show that the last one wasn't a one off, and to commemorate the sad death of Lois Lane actress Margot Kidder last week, here's Great Movie Scenes #002.

It's 1978, I was twelve year's old, and one of THE film's to see that year was Superman, with Christopher Reeve in the leading role.

So far you've seen Superman as a child, as a young man and, very briefly and unspectacularly, as adult Superman in costume. Clark Kent has come to New York, awkwardly met Lois Lane...who now climbs into a helicopter to take her to a news event somewhere.

Excuse the 70's fashions, but you will believe a man can fly:

TFL Painting Challenge: Royal Wedding Weekend Update

No, I didn't watch it!

I spent the day hitting people with big sticks: much more satisfying.

Some of you, however, were more productive, and sent in entries to the Painting Challenge. In no particular order, we have:

  • Stumpy with a tank and some dead Napoleonics
  • There's a few WW2 15mm odds and ends from Chris Stoesen
  • Mr Duffell has got his lazy ass in gear (if he'll excuse the expression) and painted some Soviets
  • Blue Moose Ken has lots for us to look at
  • Some scenery and some tanks from Mervyn
  • and last, but by no means least, Travis finishes off his early war German platoon

As usual, clicking on the name of the person above will send you through to their gallery (opens in a new window) and, shock - horror, I've updated the Scorecard too.

Here are today's pictures:

Q13: More Astagar: Very Snakey

Those who follow this blog regularly will know that I am currently building a 15mm Astagar army for Quadrant 13, the company-sized sci-fi wargame published by the TooFatLardies. The Astagar are a range of man-sized snakes originally from Critical Mass Games and now held by Ral Partha Europe.

Last time's post featured the six APCs needed to transport my two platoons of armoured infantry. Lovely models, but not very snake-y: they could have been from any vaguely humanoid race.

This post features the two types of, well, walker is the equivalent, although I'm not sure that "walker" is an appropriate term to use where the Astagar are concerned! These are most certainly snake-y enough to do the term justice.

First up is the Viperia Powered Armour i.e. battlesuits for our serpenty friends:

These are lovely models that paint up really well. They were painted the same way as the APCs: an undercoat of green, a bit of brown sprayed in random patterns, then a heavy drybrush to bring out all the detail. Finally, a nice gloss green for the visor/windshield.

The only pain is actually building the things. They come in five parts:  tail/base; torso; two arms and the shoulder-mount. The arms and shoulder-mount go on okay (a mixture of superglue and PVA glue does the trick...although it can sometimes take a few goes to really get that concrete fix) but getting the torso to stick to the tail/base can be a little annoying. The torso isn't stand-alone (i.e. it doesn't balance upright) so you really do need to pin or support the join whilst the glue dries. 

I say a pain, but it wasn't that difficult really.

Anyhow...how big are these, I hear you cry? Here's a quick comparison shot with a 15mm H-35 tank from Battlefront:

Next up are the Volos Assault Mecha: either a bigger battlesuit, or some kind of robot/android:

Exactly the same comments apply as for the Viperia, except magnified by the fact that these are bigger and heavier! Here's a size comparison with the same Battlefront tank:

Loving these two!

And, before I forget, there's several variants to all these: including this version pf the Viperia which I will use as an electronic warfare or communications Specialist.

So that's the support arm of the army done. Highly recommended, although the Volos aren't available from Ral Partha at the moment. I can't wait to get them onto the tabletop!

Great Movie Scenes #001

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At lunch today a friend and I were discussing not our favourite movies of all time but our favourite movie scenes of all time.

So, as I've got nothing particularly Lardy or wargame-y to post today, I thought I'd start an occasional series of my favourite movie clips of all time.

These won't be in order (i.e. today's isn't my number one movie scene of all time) but numbered just so I can keep track of them.

Today's clip, number one, is from the classic film Casablanca. If you haven't seen it, see it. It is a timeless masterpiece of a film with so many quotable lines that to list them all would almost be to list the dialogue as a whole.

In keeping with a military theme, the film is set in Casablanca some time after the fall of France. The Germans have occupied the territory, and some of them are in Rick's, a nightclub...

IABSM AAR: Eastern Front

Another great battle report from Burt Minorrot's excellent Spanish-language blog Las Partidas de Burt. As I have said before, I hope he doesn't mind me reproducing it here.

Here, in a game dating back to 2014, Burt and friends fight a battle on the eastern front: a Soviet column advances against hidden German opposition.

Click on the pic for more:

First of the Astagar

Critical Mass Games are, unfortunately, no more: their ranges having been absorbed into Ral Partha's offering. This has meant that whilst many of their infantry codes are still available, their vehicles are not...or at least not yet, Ral Partha assure us. At least their ranges are still available, even in part, as it would be a real shame for such an innovative series of ranges to die out completely.

One of the last things that CMG did before their demise was to run a Kickstarter campaign for their Astagar range: a range of sci-fi Snakemen-with-guns originally found as only a pack or two within their Mercenaries range but, such was their popularity, eventually promoted into a full Kickstarter project.

I backed the project to the tune of £173 and, in due course, received most of my order plus reward. Not all, which was annoying but, as I didn't immediately open the box and check everything, was as much my fault as anyone else's!

What I did receive, however, was excellent: six squads (eight each) of snake-y infantry; a couple of command figures; two support weapons; six snake-y battlesuits; one snake-y comms battlesuit; two huge snake-y walker-equivalents; and six APCs. Oh, and if you're interested, what I didn't receive were any AFVs or SP artillery, but...no matter.

These, as I said, have been sitting in an unopened box under the painting table until, bereft of anything to do now that the four Blitzkrieg in the West books are published, I decide to hack into the lead mountain and paint up an Astagar army.

I'm painting everything at the same time, so all units are on the way at once, but here's the first off the production line: the APCs.

Very nice, but not very snake-y!

Very nice, but not particularly snake-y, I hear you cry. Well, you're right, but the rest of the range more than makes up for that.

For those interested, I painted these very quickly:  base coat green, then another base coat in brown in strips, wash, drybrush, done. They have, I think, come out pleasingly battered.

The original version

Some of you will note that these don't look exactly like the APCs featured in the original Kickstarter. You are correct: I tried the engines on the way they were designed, but they looked odd: a downwards-facing vent at the front. To my mind, the engines look better the wrong way round. That way you have a vertical vent at the front to take in the air, with a downwards-blower to pump it out as a jet at the back.

As they looked a bit plain, I've added a few spare decals, including some human-script numbers. Not right for Snakemen? Well, yes...but I'm claiming the numbers are superimposed by your targeting scanner! They also make the models look better and mean I can use them for more general purpose APCs rather than just Astagar-specific ones.

More Snakey-ness next time...

 

Blitzkrieg in the West: The Germans: comments so far...

A bit of a shameless plug, but here are some of the comments made around the web about my latest work: the Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany handbook for IABSM, published Thursday 10th May:

John Ewing:

"An awesome piece of work. The level of detail is incredible."

Charles Eckart:

"Turned on computer a couple of hours ago. Went to TFL website immediately looking for Blitz-Germany. Only time for a quick scan through: outstanding!

"IABSM was my first Lard rules (still a favorite) and all four Blitz books provide the best single sources of information for 1940 I know of. Useful in many ways, thanks for your work."

Benito Marisa:

"I have bought the four books and they [are] the best thing since sliced bread. Not a player of IABSM myself but the detail and depth of the information is so good that can be used for any other set of rules or just for reference. Excellent job, congratulations."

Desmondo Darkin:

"Looks superb"

Derek Hodge (chief proof-reader of the handbook):

"I've had a head start on the reading this as I helped Robert with the proofreading and I can say that he's put a huge amount of work into it. I had no idea that German OOBs in 1940 were so varied. 

"The whole Blitzkreig in the West series is an absolutely fantastic resource for any wargamer interested in the 1940 campaign. You can use the lists in the pdfs to build OOBs at any level from company to division. 

"And the lists are also useful if you're playing a platoon level game such as Chain of Command as they enable you to see exactly where all the various support options come from. This is invaluable if you're trying to build support lists limited to what was historically available to any specific infantry platoon."

Nick Skinner (co-author of IABSM):

"More superb work from Mr Avery. Can't recommend it highly enough. Even if you do not game IABSM the unit information is astounding."

TFL Painting Challenge: Big Friday Update

I've been so busy with the German Blitzkrieg handbook over the last week or so that I have been neglecting my Painting Challenge duties: so a big catch-up today.

In no particular order, we have:

  • Carole with some more barbarians
  • The Hat with some rather nice WW2 French in 20mm
  • John Haines tries his hand at 6mm, and has a few 28mm figures to leaven the mix
  • There's a mix of scales and periods from Treadhead: Napoleonics and WW2, 28mm and 6mm
  • Chris Stoesen seems to have emptied his cupboards and painted anything WW2 he can find: a mix of early war German figures and vehicles in 15mm
  • More basing from Stumpy: Napoleonic cavalry this time
  • Ralph Plowman has turned to the dark side with some figures for Mr C.
  • An SdKfz 251 and a FlaK 38 in 28mm from Travis
  • Steve Burt is on the Assyrians
  • And last, but by no means least, a mix of moderns and medievals from Andrew Helliwell

As always, clicking on the name of the person in the above list will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window), I'll update the Scorecard at the weekend, and here are today's pictures:

John Haines tries his hand at 6mm

More Nappies, but a bit bigger, from Stumpy

Steve Burt's Assyrians

French WW2 transport from the Hat

Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany Now Available

Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany is the fourth in my series of early war handbooks for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum. The handbook is a massive 185 pages long (over double the size of either the French, BEF or Low Countries books) and covers the whole of the German army that invaded France and the Low Countries on 10th May 1940, seventy-eight years ago today.

The book begins with the humble infantry: not one, homogenous, grey-clad mass, but actually eleven different types of infantry division, each with their own set of core and support troops.

Next, after a quick look at the infantry that doesn't fit into the above (e.g. the Gebirgsjaeger), the book moves on to the ten panzer divisions: with each panzer division given its own section and set of lists. There are, for example, five different lists that relate to 9th Panzer Division alone.

After the Panzertruppen, the book covers the cavalry, the SS and the army level support troops (that's where you'll find the StuGs!) before finishing off with the Fallschirmjaegers and Air Landing troops that dropped into Belgium and the Netherlands. Finally, we have the usual ratings and armoury sections, and a note on air support.

Although designed for IABSM, Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany contains a vast amount of information useful to gamers of other systems, and is really a must-buy for anyone interested in the early war period.

Available now from the TooFatLardies website, we've kept the price at £8.40: the same as the other three handbooks, despite its much larger pagination. That should make the set of four books - France, the BEF, the Low Countries, Germany - absolutely affordable for all.

A Company of Polish Tanks: Finally Finished

I took advantage of the bank holiday weekend to finally finish the company of early war Polish tanks that I have been working on.

A Company of Polish 7TP (jw) tanks from 1st or 2nd Tank Battalion

I say a company, but actually I painted twenty-two of the little blighters:  sixteen as the single-turret model, and six as the double-turret model.

That gives me the flexibility to field a company of tanks from the 1st and 2nd Tank Battalions (all single-turret); most of the 3rd Tank Battalion (one reduced company of single-turret, one reduced company of double-turret); or (given a little bit of leeway in counting 7TPs as the Vickers tank they were based on) the mixed platoons of 12th or 121st Tank Companies.

Either the 12th or 121st Independent Tank Companies: 7TPs used as Vickers

The models are all 15mm from Battlefront via Element Games. Undercoated in Army Painter green, then with the pale yellow and then the brown camouflage on top. The same basic camouflage pattern was used for each tank. Then washed and dry-brushed to bring up the detail.

Note that I had another varnish disaster in the initial spray. Not the varnish's fault, on this occasion, but mine. It was very hot, and I didn't shake the can properly, so got a light frosting of propellant/bad varnish. How did I solve it? As I've mentioned before, a light coat of olive oil got rid of the frosting, then another two sprays brought the models down flat again. A close call!

Another 15mm Russian Village Set

Those of you who follow the site will know that I already have loads of 4Ground 15mm Russian village buildings to which I recently added a few extras from the Minibits/RedVectors range (click here to see post, opens in a new window).

Now Things From The Basement, the US based 'manufacturer of dollhouse and wargaming miniatures' has also released a 15mm Russian village set of buildings, based on their 25mm range.

They have:

  • Two Log Cabins
  • Two different 'fancy' houses
  • A Farm Buildings set (a basic farmhouse, a barn, a well and an outdoor privy)
  • A Blacksmith Shop & Tool Shed
  • An Orthodox Church

I, of course, bought these immediately, and have just spent a very pleasant evening and morning, sat at my workbench in front of the open French windows, building them.

So are they any good?

The log cabins are fairly standard . I like the way they do the windows (cardboard sills that stick on the outside of the HDF) but I found it very difficult to build them in way that the roofs came off easily. My advice: buy one pack if you want a bit of variety in an existing village, but don't base your entire village on several packs of this set, stick to the 4Ground stuff.

The fancy houses (House 1 and House 2) are both good. I didn't much like the roofs, but they do come made to come off so you can put figures inside. What is really nice is the level of detail on the outside. The really fancy one has some lovely decorative woodwork that looks really nice when built, and the other one has a little porch that is exactly like the one I saw on that Russian TV show about the WW2 pilots "The Attackers". I would definitely buy both of these if you want a Headman's hut or two.

The farmhouse and barn from the Farm Buildings set is a bit like the log cabins: alright but nothing special (although the roofs do come off in these ones). What makes this set an absolute must-buy is the well and outdoor privy. Cracking models that I would buy again if available separately. Recommended.

The Blacksmith Shop and Tool Shed is another excellent bit of variety for your village. I can take or leave the tool shed, but the blacksmith shop, with it's open sides, roof vents, forge and anvil is another must-buy. Recommended.

Finally we come to the Orthodox Church. Come on, Robert, I hear you cry, you can't need yet another Russian church (I already have five...or is it six?) but actually, yes I can. This is a beautiful model that I really, really love. The build is intricate but not particularly difficult:  to get the spires and the roof you end up building an internal framework that I just felt so proud of having managed! There's a real sense of achievement when you've built this little baby! Did I mention that it looks really good too?

So there you have it: a solid recommendation to buy from me. There is just one teensy-tiny little problem: the shipping from the States is quite pricey. The shop on the TFTB website won't let you buy outside of the US: you have to e-mail Joerg and ask for a PayPal invoice. The set is $55 for one of each of the above, but shipping is $23 on top of that...so that's £56 to get it to our front door if in the UK. No problems with the ordering and delivery, I hasten to add, my set arrived very promptly, but perhaps a bit pricey.

How was the build? About the same as a Sarissa build actually: so slightly more difficult that a 4Ground or Minibits build, but still nothing very problematic. I would, however, strongly advise downloading the instructions from the TFTB website (free to do) and build them with PVA glue not Superglue: there's quite a lot of finickity moving about of parts to do to get them to fit together just right. Nothing too difficult, but not something that Superglue will let you do.

So overall, a hearty recommendation from me, despite the price, and if you do order from Joerg, do mention Vis Lardica when you do so please.

Blitzkrieg in the West: The Germans: Cover Revealed

Just to give my latest handbook for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum a little pre-publicity, I got the cover through from Rich today.

The handbook will be available from the TooFatLardies website on May 10th (next Thursday) and weighs in at over 180 pages!

The good news is that despite its huge size (over twice as big as the other handbooks in the series) we're not making it more expensive than the other books: it will be the same price as the French, the BEF and the Dutch/Belgians.

The handbook will cover the German army that invaded France and the Low Countries in May 1940. It will contain lists for each of the ten different types of infantry division, each of the ten different Panzer Divisions, the cavalry, the SS, the Fallies, the army troops...you name it, it's in there!

TFL Painting Challenge: a catch-up before the Bank Holiday

After a couple of quiet days, the entries have suddenly come pouring in...so it's time for a quick catch-up before the bank holiday weekend.

So, in no particular order, we have:

  • Travis with some more wonderful 28mm Soviets
  • More barbarians from Carole
  • More tanks from Matt Slade
  • Some Frenchies and a KV-1 from Chris Cornwell
  • A couple of little bits and bobs from Chris Stoesen
  • More medievals and P&S from Andrew Helliwell
  • There's a bank from Mervyn (let's hope it's not an early branch of the TSB!)
  • And a tank from Ralph Plowman
  • And last, but by no means least, a whole of of basing from Stumpy: all Zulu wars in preparation for OML 2018

As always, clicking on the name of the person in the above list will take you straight to their gallery (opens in a new window), and here are today's pictures:

More Copplestone Barbarians from Carole

Soviet Anti-Tank Gun from Travis

And an SU-122 from Travis as well

A Sherman tank from Matt Slade

The bank of Mervyn

A cast of 'fousands' from Stumpy

Where Are The Blitzkrieg Germans for IABSM?

I hear you ask! Surely they were due today?

Well, yes, they were, but I'm afraid to say publication will be delayed for a week or so.

The reason?

Size more than anything else. Whereas the other handbooks have ended up being about eighty pages long, the German handbook is going to be more like 180 pages long!

There was I thinking that the Germans in May 1940 were largely homogenous and could be knocked out fairly quickly...but almost as soon as I started I realised that this just wasn't the case.

So, the plan is to publish on Thursday 10th May. Apologies for the delay.

In the meantime, you'll just have to make sure you've read the three other IABSM Blitzkrieg handbooks cover to cover!

IABSM AAR: Operation Compass #18: Siret el Chrieba

Tony Cane has been working his way through the Operation Compass scenario pack for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum. His last post featured the tank battle at Mechili, this one covers the Australian attack on the Italian aerodrome at Siret el Chrieba.

Here, the Australians are faced by a huge expanse of open ground (“flat as a table and devoid of cover” as the official history puts it) dotted with the occasional hanger or building. Their target is to take the hangar and buildings on the other side of the open ground.

Click on the picture below to see how they do...

 Loving the aircraft hanger and the dust-covered Blinds!

Loving the aircraft hanger and the dust-covered Blinds!