Sunday, 28 October 2018

Fiasco 2018

Over the Pennines to my annual visit to Leeds Royal Armouries and Fiasco, my last show of the year. The venue is right on the docks on the River Aire and the Leeds & Liverpool canal, and my ambition is to attend this one year from our boat - though as the round trip from our base is 3-4 weeks that will probably have to wait until I retire.

I was aware before going that I would not be able to stock up on my main target, 6mm tanks, as neither Wargames Emporium nor Magister Militum would be in attendance. Baccus was there, but they have not released anything for WW2 since the Shermans, which I picked up at JoS. So I was going for bits and pieces, and for the atmosphere.

The show was pretty much as usual, a good middle-to-large one day show. The venue is a single large hall, OK but the upper walls and ceiling are decorated in black with small lights like stars - quite atmospheric but personally I would settle for more light.

As usual at a show, I first did a full circuit of all the trade stands, not looking to buy very much (though I picked up a couple of pots of paint) but making notes for later, and seeing if anything struck me out of the blue. At about noon I went off for lunch - with the best will in the world the food at the venue could be called "functional" so I walked over towards the city centre. As a bonus this took me past the docks and over the river, which I looked at in a new light now that we are seriously likely to be boating down here in a year or two.

I went to the same place as last year, a bar called Revolution - clearly a place which will be packed in the evenings but quiet on a Sunday lunchtime, and perfectly acceptable ribs and beer. Then back to the show.

The main thing I wanted to get was Leven buildings, because they are such fun to paint, so I picked up some that are suitable for the Eastern Front - Russian cottages, a Ukrainian church and so on. I pondered a few other things, but I didn't want to buy stuff just for the sake of it. In the end the only other significant item was a set of rules from Osprey called The Men Who Would Be King. These are for 19th Century Colonial battles, which is something that interests me a bit, but the other reason for buying them is the solo rules or AI within them. This is called "Playing Against Mr Babbage" and has been mentioned many times in the wargaming press, so I wanted to take a look.

Things wrapped up around three, and I set off for home. A good friendly way to end the year, and I will be back, by road or water.

A Spitfire outside the Royal Armoury

Leeds Waterways

The Booty

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Joy of Six 2018

Having missed last year because of family illness (I have been to all the others since the start) I was keen to get there reasonably early, and despite the best efforts of some Cycling Fun Day I was able to navigate Sheffield's ring road and arrived in the venue about half ten.

There was a slight change of location this year - although it was in the same building we had moved out of the atrium (the "Heartspace") into a more conventional area, two long rooms connected by doors, with a canteen at the far end of one of them. Personally I htought this was an improvement - while the Heartspace looked spectacular, especially from three floors up, the layout was actually quite awkward, with games squeezed around the stairs, and some relegated to rather cut-off side rooms. Here everyone was in essentially one large space, and I don't think anyone will have felt they were out of the way.

The games were all good looking as usual - with the impression of large-scale battles given by this scale. For looks I would pick out the Manchester ECW board - it wasn't huge, but it was covered with buildings representing the city and the bridge to Salford during the siege. Most innovative I think was the Cold War Commanders (using the rules of the same name). They had a long table with three battles side by side. The terrain represented the same area on each (Wesel in Germany) but in different time periods - 1959, 1973 and 1989. They fought a Russian attack in each period simultaneously, using the appropriate troops and vehicles, but under the same CWC rules.

Purchasing was of course the most important aspect. I started off at H&R, just a chat really as I thought I had their latest stuff on my painting table already. But a casual question revealed that they had some brand new Fallschirmjager, not yet on the website, so I bought some of those. I went to the Baccus stand, but sadly the Panzer IV they had on display is not yet ready for sale - the gun barrel is true scale, which means it is too flimsy to be practical as a wargame model, so it will be out soon.

It wouldn't be JoS without a visit to the Leven stand, and despite not having a building project on the go at the moment, I had to pick up 4-5 assorted models. Down to the other end of the area to Wargames Emporium, where I got some of the new GHQ Lloyd Carriers (with and without 6lbdr guns) and some German Leichter Ladungstrager (essentially tracked quad bikes with trailers). I got a couple of Ospreys (Market Garden and the Valentine Tank) from Christopher Morris books, but my biggest purchase was a bunch of scenic items from GS Miniature Workshop. I got four of their "canopy woods" as well as an assortment of walls, hedges and palm trees.

All in all a very good day. I had lunch in the Head of Steam, though sadly they don't do rack of ribs any more. The trail to and fro over Snake Pass is tedious, especially with all the cyclists out int he sun, but worth it for a unique and very well run show.



Manchester/Salford - ECW siege

Gilly 1815


Bag the Hun 

Normandy 1944 (Iron Cross rules)

Normandy 1944

Zeebrugge Raid 1918

Horka 1708

Weser Cubed - three battlees in one

Weser Cubed - 1989 foreground, 1973 middle, 1959 far end

Battle of Britain - Check Your Six.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

H&R Paras

Following on from the Heroics & Ros LRDG in the last post, I have now painted the UK Paratroopers I bought at the same time. These are new figures, and like all of the later H&R releases they are very nice. They are much "slighter" than the likes of GHQ, Baccus or Adler, and as such they are probably closer to true scale humans. In theory that might be a problem, but in practice I have no qualms in using these in the same force - when you are looking down on them from a scale thousand feet in the air, the differences are unnoticeable. What they do have is very nice animation and good character, and they add a new set of options to the other lines.

In this case that's exactly what I am using them for. I already have a reasonably sized force of UK Paras from Baccus, so what I ordered from H&R was the oddments around the edges. I got recently landed men gathering their chutes, and men getting kit out of drop containers. There are some riders on tiny "Wellbike" motor cycles, and a variety of combat engineer types - flamethrowers, satchel charges, pole charges. There are a variety of jeeps, and some "cut down Morrises". There are in fact the well-known Quad tractor, used with the 25lbdr gun, with the bodywork removed to make it light enough for a glider. H&R do two versions - one has a tarpaulin over the load, the other has a group of men sitting on the tarpaulin, hitching a ride. This is a good example of the "character" I mentioned earlier. The last items were some command figures - some pointing, some with clip boards, radio men, the usual mix.

All in all a nice little batch, fun to paint, and they'll fill out my Para forces nicely.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Long Range Desert Group

At Salute Heroics & Ros announced three new ranges - UK Paratroops, Afrika Korps and the Long Range Desert Group. Sadly they did not have the figures available at the show, but I was able to order examples of all three on-line before they went off for a break.

The first range which I have painted is the LRDG. This consists mostly of vehicles: Chevrolet trucks fitted with a variety of weaponry, and some jeeps. There is also a small number of troops on foot. As with other recent H&R models these are very nice, with good detail, and the figures are well animated, though small by comparison with (say) GHQ or Baccus. However H&R would argue that they are probably more in scale with the vehicles, and they paint up well.

I based the infantry, and a radio car with no crew and standing figures, but I left the rest of the vehicles unbased for now. This is because I think it is more likely, give the nature of the models, that they will be used in individual or skirmish type games where bases may be less appropriate.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Spectre Miniatures

One of my purchases at Salute was three modern figures from a company called Spectre Miniatures. One pack had two figures with automatic rifles, called Deniable Operators Alfa. Then there was a single figure called MENA (Middle East/North Africa) Commander Alfa - this guy has a big beard and is waving a rifle over his head.

I bought these because they are very nice looking figures with good animation and detail, and so it proved on painting them up. By the nature of the figures they aren't meant to have uniforms, so I painted them with a variety of colours, mostly greens browns and tans with a few other tones for contrast. As with all my 28mm figures now, I cut off their metal bases and put them on clear plastic ones.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Salute 2018

Down to London for my annual jamboree in Dockland. A good curry with my daughter the night before set me up nicely, and I stay in a hotel five minutes walk from Excel, so there is no rush in the morning.

Excel seemed quieter than usual, but this may have been because the London Marathon runners were not registering there - for once the Marathon is not running on the day after Salute. Once inside the hall, it seemed about as busy as ever.

My first visit was to the Baccus stand, where I picked up some brand new WW2 artillery for both sides - 88mm Flak, Pak 40 and 10.5 leFH 18 for the Germans, and 6pdr and 25pdr for the British. I also got to hold one of their new tanks, a Sherman, but they are still not quite readywith the moulds.

After that I made a circuit of the hall, round the perimeter first, buying various bits and pieces. Studio Miniatures had a lot of nice pulp figures, and I bought three for use as survivors. Hasslefree provided some nice skyclad witches, and I bought a single 6mm city building in MDF from a company called Blotz. I then called at Great Escape Games and picked up some more Chicago Way stuff - another car, two stills, some barrels and some more casualties. Over at Ainsty I got some more barrels of different sizes - you can usually rely on Ainsty for general "stuff".

I went back to the hotel to dump my booty, and had lunch in a local cafe. Maybe next year I'll eat in the hotel. Back to the hall, and I picked up some figures from Spectre Miniatures. They do several ranges of modern special forces and irregular fighters, and I got some because they look very nice. They may be a little large, minis are increasingly "heroic" 28mm, which is really about 32mm.

I spent quite a bit of time looking for board game vendors, because I was hoping to find the Kursk supplement for Conflict of Heroes, called Storms of Steel. I thought this would be out (in a second edition) in time for Salute), but when I eventually found a likely place, Magister Militium, there was no sign. Checking on the Academy Games website the planned date now seems to be June.

I got a book, one of the Tank Battle in Miniature series, volume 2. This was the last one I needed to complete the set of five, two of which I have had since I got them from the author (Bruce Quarrie) in the seventies. I got two more, by Donald Featherstone, at the auction at the weekend event last month, and I was pleased to spot the final missing link (by Bruce, on the Russian front) on a stand here. A few more bits and pieces - some flexible 6mm fields from Timecast, and a couple of back numbers of WSS - and I was ready to go. A pretty good day all round, the train home was quite crowded but on time and I had my loot home before 8:30.

More bootlegging

A couple more items completed from the Chicago Way stuff I got for my birthday.

First there are two vehicles. One is a police van, complete with police driver. The other is a Ford Model TT truck, and maybe I should have painted it black too, but I fancied a bit of colour so it is a rather rusty green.

As well as that there are half a dozen casualties, three each of Agents and Gangsters. Somehow these have been very well modelled, very lifelike, which is ironic since they are mostly dead. In fact the best of all is probably the one slumped against a wall.