Wyevale Winter Trees Bargain

For those of you who hadn't noticed, many garden centres are selling off their winter model Christmas trees.

I had heard about this wondrously cheap way of acquiring snowy terrain for the wargaming table, but hadn't actually seen the proof of the (presumably Christmas) pudding.

Until now.

The wife of a friend picked up the above Battle of the Bulge, winter wonderland forest for me for a mere £13.50: and that's for sixty-one trees! A bargain, and they look to be good quality as well.

For me, unfortunately, this was a false economy, as I now need to buy myself a snow-scene mat for the top of my gaming table...

A Pond...a Very Nice Pond

Second piece of loot from Colours was a pond from Debris of War.

This is shown here with a couple of bases of Polish infantry for scale purposes.

Lovely bit of kit. Not on the Debris of War website, so I'm assuming it was made up just for the show. Whatever, it cost me £10.50 and I'm very happy with it. DoW also do movement trays, resin walls, the odd building: lots of different stuff really, well worth a look.

Expect to see the pond appearing in many AARs to come! 

More Goodness from MBA

Regular visitors to this site will know that a month or so ago I took advantage of the 50%-off Miniature Building Authority sale to order some 15mm terrain from the US. See the post by clicking here (will open in new window).

I was so pleased with the buildings, and the fact that the 50%-off made them affordable to buy from the US, that I decided I'd better get some more in order to make my middle eastern town a bit bigger. A few clicks later, and I had another of the compounds and four more little houses on the way.

Whilst I was on the site, a couple more of the buildings caught my eye, and I duly ordered some of them too: manufacturers take note: all you have to do is get me there!

First up is the sawmill. Great little building this, and ideal for one of the scenarios in Bashnya or Bust! Unfortunately, the site said it was out of stock, but an e-mail to Kirk (good man that he is) led to him uncovering one deep in the recesses of the warehouse.

A nice little building, quite distinctive, that comes with a couple of piles of wood (okay, so they are a bit pants!) and some fencing to make an outside area. Loving this: will make any wooden Russian town or village a bit more interesting.

The next thing to catch my eye was the MBA Russian church. I'd coveted one of these for some time, but the problem is I already have at least three (it might be four, I deliberately forget!) Russian churches. If I bought this one, I was well on the way to having enough to portray a different church in each of the various towns and villages  in all 32 of the Bashnya and, indeed, all the Vyazma, scenarios as well. I definitely did not need another Russian church.

So here is my new MBA Russian church proudly sitting on the tabletop:

Another lovely model that comes with two gold crosses for the steeple: a really nice touch as I am bound to break or lose one over the next few years.

Here are the two buildings together rather than in isolation, and you can see the new middle eastern kit behind them as well:

So how did the financing work out this time?

Using an exchange rate of $1.30:£1.00, here's the calculation, rounded to single units for ease of consumption:

  • List price: $290 (£223)
  • 50% off: $145 (£112)
  • P&P:  $85 (£65)
  • Tax: $36 (£28)
  • Total Paid: $266 (£205)

So a saving of around £20...and I have some very nice buildings that are usually only available (due to cost) in the States.

The MBA sale is still on, click on the banner below to visit their site. Please mention VL if you do end up buying: I've already received one angry e-mail from a spouse about the money spent by her other half the last time I posted about MBA!

New Battlemats Arrive

One of my impulse purchases at Salute this year was a couple of battlemats from Tiny Wargames. As my tables are 6'x5', I custom  ordered one of the South Pacific coastal mats and one of the planet Mars mats, both cloth only, paying £150 for the two, including p&p.

Arriving home yesterday, well within the 21-day custom order time given by Tiny Wargames, I was greeted by a good sized package containing the two mats...and they are cracking!

First up, the coastal mat. Okay, so I could have got a slightly bigger one made (that's my fault!) but the mat looks fantastic and I cannot wait to try it out.

Here's a few pictures without any other terrain on board, just a couple of Japanese landing craft:

And here's the Mars mat: again looks great...and it makes me almost sorry that I've homogenised all my sci-fi troopers onto grass bases.

So a couple of recommended purchases there, and I shall be treating myself to a winter mat once the finances have recovered.

www.tinywargames.co.uk

A Rather Useful Tool

I was in my local Games Workshop the other day, stocking up on various paints after the Christmas break, and was idling chatting to the store manager about various painting techniques and the like.

As I was popping a pot of one of their texture basing 'paints' onto the counter, I happened to mention that I used old paint brushes to apply the texture. Ah, said the manager, you should use one of these:

99199999058_CITADELMEDIUMTEXTURESPEADER01.jpg

Now I'm all for having the right tools for the job, but this seemed a bit excessive, especially as that finely carved bit of plastic will set you back £5.

However, I was using up a voucher, and had enough left over to indulge, so I thought I'd get one and try it out...especially as I was fully expecting to be disappointed and have the opportunity to be suitably obnoxious about it next time I was in (what is it about GW stores that make me want to be obnoxious? I don't know: but it's true of all of them!).

Anyway, turns out I was wrong. I used this to base the Israeli half-tracks I posted about yesterday, and it really makes the job a hell of a lot easier that using an old paint brush, even when you attempt to carve said old paint brush into a suitable shape. I would go as far to say that that bit of plastic is the best thing as a basing tool since, er, sliced bread.

So, as compensation to GW for being prepared to doubt their products before I've even tried them, I'm posting about their tool here, and recommending one to everyone who needs to smear a bit of basing material onto a base!

Battlefront Sale Now On

Just a quick note for those who might not have seen it yet, but Battlefront have a 40% off sales on their Vietnam, Arab-Israeli and Great War ranges at the moment. Postage and Packing is also capped in what must be considered a great deal. Sales lasts until the end of October.

As those who visit this site regularly know, although I don't play FoW, I do like the Battlefront miniatures: I just find them a little pricey and, sometimes, a little lacking in the quality control department, although this last seems to have improved quite a bit over the last couple of years.

 Click on the pic to go to the FoW site.

Click on the pic to go to the FoW site.

A 40% off sale, therefore, is an ideal time to stock up on stuff that you wouldn't normally buy because of the price. I don't happen to need any more Vietnam stuff, and don't currently collect any Great War kit, but have just taken advantage of the sale and dropped quite a bit of cash rounding out my Arab-Israeli Six Day War collection. 

Now all I need is for them to extend the sale to their WW2 Poles and I'm a happy man! 

Salute 2016

Yes, yes, I know: another post-Salute post to join the thousands already floating around the ether!

Well this one is just a quickie, focusing not so  much on the event itself* but on some of the games on show: specifically their terrain.

Terrain isn't really my thing: I'm getting better, but still feel my efforts are weighted towards my figures rather than the earth on which they stand. 

There were three tabletops that I would really, really like to have had the opportunity to get my figures onto:

First up was a terrific Vietnam set-up. Wrong scale, being 28mm, but absolutely lovely:

Then there was the sci-fi Hammers Slammers 15mm sci-fi set up. I was definitely working out whether this one would fit onto my tables at home. It would, by the way, so if the owner ever gets bored of it and needs more space, I will quite happily give it a very good home! 

And finally the sci-fi set-up from Critical Mass Games was great as well: 

Three amazing tables that really inspire.

*Actually I thought Salute was quite good this year.

I had a great journey in: I drove and didn't encounter any of the roadworks that have blighted previous years' journeys...it's almost as if they have finally got that area sorted out road-wise. The £15 for all day parking was a bit steep, but at least the machines were accepting credit cards instead of demanding two fistfuls of coins to satisfy them.

I arrived about 10.15 without a ticket. Walked straight up to the ticket booth and bought one, no queue. Got myself a sandwich and a coffee, ate them, then walked straight in to the show with no delay at all. Another amazing improvement on years gone by.

I thought the show was busier than last year. Still the same horrid floor and dull lighting, but I can put up with them: the eyes soon adjust and there's plenty of places to sit down.

I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of new, teeny-weeny traders as well as the expected big ones. That bodes well for the hobby: lots of new trader blood coming in. I understand that a couple of the massive stands (GW, or a derivative thereof) were collection-only...and that they seemed to be the ones with the queues. In all, however, a good mix, and I was able to find some decal-softener.

Good lunchtime drinks at the Fox with some of the Lardies: some of whom seemed to have led very sheltered lives, but I digress...

I ended up spending far too much money, as per usual, and on a real mix of things. Some Battlefront pre-painted terrain from Team Yankee; some trees; a hill; some of Battlefront's new Pacific-theatre Japanese tanks; some more Israelis; decal-softener; and a few sci-fi bits and pieces. A good haul that will doubtless be on show here at some stage in the future.

One thing I did notice that was different to the last few years: more BO! Maybe because it seemed busier visitors-wise this year, but there were a couple of occasions when I caught a full blast of sweaty wargamer: not very nice and, as I said, unusual compared to previous years. 

In all, a good Salute this year. 

 

CDS: Vietnamese Villagers

A short time ago, I posted pictures of the sampans that I'd painted from the Battlefront NVA Local Resistance boxed set.

I bought the box really to get the sampans, but they came with twelve Vietnamese villager figures that I thought I might as well paint up as well.

These are actually really nice figures: they have a certain animation that not only makes them a pleasure to paint but that look good on the tabletop too. One teeny-weeny word of caution: they are quite delicately built, these Vietnamese types, so the figures can be bent at the ankle very easily. It's not a problem, I hasten to add, but they are slightly less robust than a standard Battlefront mannikin, and I'd hate anyone to break one accidentally.

Here they are:

I really like the chaps in the paddy field (on the left, up to their ankles); the cahps holding the bundles of vegetation up front, centre; and the two women carrying babies/small children.

A nice set that will certainly help 'dress' the battlefield...or represent VC in disguise of course.

Sampans from Battlefront

For Christmas last year I bought the "Local Resistance" set from Battlefront's Brown River range.

This is a set comprising six sampans (three motorised, three not) and twelve suspicious looking Vietnamese peasant-types.

The sampans looked really good out of the box, and have painted up very nicely indeed. For those interested, the boats were undercoated in black, then dry-brushed with a dark brown and then a light, drab brown. The awnings were dry-brushed in a drab yellow colour, and then very lightly dry-brushed in sand yellow. I then painted the 'drivers' in nice, bright colours (I checked via Google that Vietnamese people wear these colours!) as a contrast.

I'll do the villagers next, but they look good with their undercoats on, so high hopes for them as well.

Here's a close-up of one of the sampans, and then a group shot of all six:

IABSM Basing: Problem Solved!

Those of you who have gamed with me or seen my AAR will know that most of my infantry figures are based individually: a typical eight-man squad being made up of six figures on 5p pieces and the LSW team of two figures on a 2p piece.

This means that I can remove casualties without the dread "rings of death" ruining the look of the tabletop, and also position them along uneven terrain features as well.

Those are the positives.

The main negative, however, is that it takes an awful lot of time to move individual figures around the tabletop.

I have got around that in the past by using rectangular movement trays as shown in the picture below:

Functional...but not pretty!

These are fine: very functional...but they are not at all pretty.

Now, however, I have the solution, thanks to Warbases.

I contacted them a couple of weeks ago asking if they would do some custom bases for me: movement trays that would take my unique squad basing regimen both for 8-man squads and for 10-man squads. Needless to say, they came up trumps.

Here, for the first time, are my patent Avery-bases for IABSM:

Well, this is one of them after I've painted it a simple green and then flocked its upper surface. 

You can immediately see that in addition to the holes for the figures, there's even a hole for a mini-dice which, in IABSM, I'll use to note Shock. Other systems could use mini-dice of different colours to differentiate units.

Here's how they look full of figures:

The new bases allow me to move figures around the tabletop quickly and easily, to remove casualties, and to make sure I don't get Shock dice lost or mixed up as well.

Well done, Warbases. I am one very happy customer!

Chain of Command Terrain: A Lard/Warbases Joint Venture

Exciting news for all 28mm 20thC/modern gamers: the TooFatLardies and Warbases have got together to produce a new range of laser cut terrain pieces. Here's the news item from Lard Island News:


Part of the joy of wargaming is the opportunity to, albeit briefly, suspend our disbelief and see ourselves as Napoleon or Wellington, commanding vast armies, or Sidney Jary at the head of 18 platoon. For me, a big part in creating the environment which encourages that immersion in the narrative of our games is getting a table that not only is pretty, but also looks right. In so many cases it is the small detail which makes a big difference. In all of the games we have run around the shows, it has been stuff like telegraph poles and (believe it or not!) cabbages growing in the garden which have received the most comments. Interestingly, it is small detail like this which I have so often found myself having to scratch build, with varying degress of success if I am honest, as most terrain companies tend to focus on the big stuff, like buildings, bridges and walls, rather than the minutiae. Well, that’s all about to change.

Before Christmas I had a long discussion with my old chum Martin up at Warbases and floated the idea of starting a range of terrain for Chain of Command. To my mind it is the skirmish or platoon level game which really comes to life when you add some extra detail, and I wanted us to work together to start producing the type of items which I really wanted to see in my games. As always, Martin came up trumps, as my dodgy sketches and vague ideas were turned into something practical and VERY pretty. The great news is that we will have the first two packs available at Salute. These are as follows:

Pack One includes the following:

  • Lean to Greenhouse
  • Potting shed, including work bench
  • Chicken coop with two cast metal chickens
  • Cold frame
  • Compost bin

Pack One

As you can see below, the lean to greenhouse will fit neatly onto any flat walled building

Pack Two contains the following:

  • Free standing Greenhouse
  • Dog kennel with cast metal doggy (optional “woofs” to be provided by customer)
  • Garden bench
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Wood store

PACK TWO

All of the models are in laser cut MDF and, where shown they have suitably embossed paper to cover the roofs and serve as tar paper or roof felt as used in the early 20th century. Even better is the news that each of the packs will be retailing at just £16 each, great value for models which will really transform your wargames table. We hope to have these available on the web site immediately after Salute, although I reckon these will be a sell-out at the show!


These look great! Now all I need is for them to be produced in 15mm as well!

Sarissa Precision Ltd: Buildings for the Far East

I've never been big into terrain.

I am never going to make any (far too much like hard, and messy, work) and in the past it's always seemed like a waste of money that could be spent on more soldiers. 

That, however, was before I got my wargaming room back after its sabbatical as a kids playroom, and before I moved this website to Squarespace. I'm having more games now, and the photos are easier to process and upload, and my existing terrain...well, it just isn't up to scratch any more.

Wooden huts for the Eastern Front from 4ground

I have had very good experiences with 4Ground's range of wooden huts for the Eastern Front, so I thought I'd see if I could get some more of that sort of thing, but this time for the Far East. 

A quick search of the web, and I found Sarissa Precision Ltd: a UK company that do a nice little range of laser-cut wood buildings just like 4Ground's.

They have six different village huts in their Far East range, so I bought one of each, and have spent the last few days putting them together: I love the smell of laser-cut wood in the mornings!

Once built, however, I felt they were slightly lacking something. Not in the models themselves, I hasten to add, they were lovely, just that the setting demanded something more.

So I have been very brave, and I have pimped them up!

First I've added a toupee of wool roving (whatever that is!) bought from the local Hobbeycraft to their roofs. This was quite difficult: it involved smearing white glue over the roofs, then carefully snipping off and sticking down layers of wool cording so they look a bit like some kind of vegetation. Don't ask me what sort of vegetation: just enjoy the look!

It didn't turn out just how I wanted it too.

Building One: Planked Style Village House - Low

Apparently you're supposed to be able to comb this stuff, and I had envisioned a sort of green thatch effect...whereas what I have achieved is more Boris Johnson! But I like it, and I think it will look good on the tabletop amongst the plastic palm trees and lichen.

Next, I thought that the empty holes for every door and window (on some of the huts: others have a wooden lattice effect) looked a bit odd.

Building Two: Small Village House

So back to Hobbeycraft and the purchase of a roll of hemp trimming. From this I have made crude blinds/curtains which actually round things off nicely. Flocked bases and the odd shutter finish things off: at least until I can buy some little pots and other household detritus with which to decorate the bases.

So a little bit of work to make them look super, but highly, highly recommended. Oh, and they cost £52.50 for the six, with only £2.50 p&p.

Here are the other four:

Building Three: Woven Palm Style Village House - Low

Building Five: Planked Style Village House

Building Four: Woven Palm Style Village House

Building Six: Small Village House - Low

A Small Village Somewhere In The Far East

Q13 and CDS Army Galleries Reloaded

I have taken a rest from uploading all the IABSM After Action Reports in order to load up the galleries of my figure collections for both Charlie Don't Surf and Quadrant 13. You can navigate to them using the Navigation Bar, above, or by clicking here for the CDS galleries or here for the Q13 galleries.

Doing this has thrown up a couple of things to action:

1. I need to go back and properly 'fill in' my Q13 sci-fi armies. I have too many that have a few core units completed but lack either command figures, especially overall Company commanders; Specialists; and support units, especially aircraft and AA assets. 

This is, I think, mostly due to figure availability - how many 15mm sci-fi ranges include more than one command figure and any AA assets - but is also down to my tendency to get distracted by the opportunity to start new, shiny sci-fi armies rather than complete the ones I have. Not something that happens with my WW2 armies...so maybe it's a sci-fi thing!

2. I need to take better pictures. This new, Squarespace website is really good at displaying pictures, it's one of the reasons I chose it: the only problem being that the pictures therefore need to be of a better quality in order to do the site justice.

What this also means is that I need to find a way of taking pictures that are consistent with each other (i.e. all have the same background etc.) even if they are consistent only at army level rather than for my collection as a whole. This leads on to (3)...

3. I need to set up a permanent photography station somewhere in the man-cave. The galleries where I have photographed a whole army in one go, and added nothing to it since then, look good...but what most consist of is a core of units photographed in one go, then a whole series of individually photographed units against a variety of backgrounds added as they are painted.

This means a place with good, natural lighting; a permanent background screen; markings for where the figures need to go for the right focus etc. As always, I know the theory, and can get the detail from several useful bogs and web articles about photographing figures, but don't have the time to actually do what I need to do!

So that's a few things thrown up by re-loading just the CDS and Q13 galleries, but some of you might be asking why I have with the galleries anyway: lots of war gamers don't bother.

Well, there are several reasons for the galleries.

One is that I like looking at pictures of my figures: and I make no apologies for that. Obviously if the house was on fire I'd save my children before my figures...but don't ask me where the wife fits in to the list!

That was a joke, my dear, just in case you're reading this.

The second is that the galleries are a good way of seeing what I've got. I have about 15,000 15mm figures, all catalogued, but the galleries are a quick short cut to see what units I have and what's missing. If I can't remember if I have SdKfz 221s or 222s; or whether the ones I have are painted for early war, late war or for the desert, then the galleries are a quick way of looking. 

Finally, it's good to look at my figures and compare them to those painted by the experts (Piers Brand, War Painter etc). Mine aren't up to that standard, but seeing what they produce (both photography and the painting itself) inspires me to improve what I do...and if you aren't improving, you're dying!

R

 

Bulldogs for Vietnam

Originally posted 13th July 2014

A unit of Walker Bulldog tanks from the Battlefront Vietnam range. These are really lovely models that I picked up in their 40% off sale. 

I know these are technically a bit cheesy marked up as US tanks, as in Vietnam I believe these were only issued to AVRN forces, but they will suit for US troops in Korea...and they were 40% off and do paint up nicely!

BTR-50 PK APCs for Vietnam

Originally posted 14th April 2014

More models that I picked up as part of Battlefront's 40%-off Vietnam sale: a platoon of five BTR-50 PK armoured personnel carriers.

This is a cracking example of buying stuff that I cannot think that I am ever going to use! Well they were 40% off: bargain!

Actually, they will do for some general purpose sci-fi APCs for Quadrant 13: and will actually fit in with my Aphids very nicely.

Battlefront Vietnam Sale

Originally posted 18th March 2014

The large box from Battlefront has arrived! 

All the vehicles I need to fill in the gaps in my Vietnam US forces and at a 40% discount. I'm generally no fan of Battlefront, even though I buy their models quite a lot but, in this case, they have excelled themselves.

The 40% Vietnam sale is still on until 31st March.

M48 A3 Pattons

Originally posted 15th March 2014

In preparation for the large box that should hopefully soon arrive from Battlefront (well, if they will have a 40% off sale!), I thought I'd better clear the last few Vietnam-era figures on my existing lead mountain. 

Here are two M48 A3 Patton tanks painted in two distinct styles: one is straight off the ship, pristine and covered in nice bright markings; the other is a more battered, sober vehicle. 

Nice models...and if you're reading this before March 31st, get yourself over to the Battlefront website and stock up now!

M551 Sheridans

Originally posted 2nd March 2014

Some reinforcements for my Vietnam US infantry: three M551 Sheridan tanks from Battlefront. Lovely models that come absolutely ram-jammed with stowage built into the models. The only negative point is the delicacy of the barrels of the HMGs: you can see from the photos how bent they are...and stay, despite my best efforts!