Sunday, 16 September 2018

Colours 2018 - a Grand Day Out

Yesterday I made (my now annual) pilgrimage to Colours at Newbury Race Course. A very similar format to last year (and previous years I believe) with most of the big traders occupying the very same spot as they did on previous occasions.

I didn't seem to buy much, but what I did cost me £75!

I wasn't really searching for something new this year, so that controlled my spending somewhat, but I did weaken and buy Men of Company B from Martin Goddard  (Peter Pig) after he did such an eloquent sales job on me! I have already US & VC armies in 10mm, based for BKCII, so with my 4" square Deep Cut mat I should be able to get straight into this.

Deep Cut Mats were present at the show and they were doing a very brisk trade with their mousemat material battlemats - very nice too. I treated myself to one of their little dice mat thingies (£3) - made from off-cut material - just what I always needed!

I had a very pleasant chat with Stuart McCorquodale from Great Escape Games about their 1914 rules. Sadly he's no plans to make a later war version. I think it's time I had a go at some house rules myself. To this end I've bought myself Iron Cross to see how they handle the AFVs, for inspiration. I bought myself a pack of WW1 12mm Cavalry while I was there, as this is the only troop type I'm short of for the game. Nice figures, a pack including the mounted elements, dismounted elements, MG Gunner and mdf bases for £10.

As a useful source for 1914 battle scenarios, I purchased the Battleground Europe book on I Corps' Retreat from Mons. Excellently written and full of sketch maps showing troop positions etc. Perfect research material.

Minibits/Pendraken were a one stop shop for mdf bases, dice frames and dice for my PSC Great War French army, a heavily discounted Warlord Hetzer (£12) also fell into my shopping bag  and finally I bought 20 or so Black Tree Design Fallschirmjager in 28mm, that were being sold at a very fair price of £8 for 10 figures.

The bring and buy was a waste of time for me. The prices being asked were hardly in the "bargain" region....I saw one army priced up at £300! Though there appeared to be a lot of items for sale and lots of people were looking if not actually buying.

The demo/participation games were upstairs on the 2nd floor and I thought there seemed to be more on offer this year. There were several "Cold War gone hot" type games, which was interesting considering my first moves into wargaming all those years ago was doing the very same!

Most games were visually stunning, but many suffered the usual fate of not progressing fast enough for the viewer to see what was happening together with a reluctance from those taking part to engage with those people who had stopped by to watch.

Those that succeeded had a dedicated, outgoing games master who actively sought to communicate what was going on. All groups should take a look at themselves and try to emulate these individuals. Bravo to those that did...

Below are some pictures of what was there. I'll let them do most of the talking. Where I can remember I've credited the presenters. Where I've got it wrong or have forgotten I can only apologise.
Modern 28mm skirmish (Spectre) - A Few Brits & the Hobby
Zeebrugge Raid 1918 - Naval Wargame Society

Battlefront Tanks in 28mm Crawley Wargames Club

What a Tanker! - probably the most popular participation game! - Newbury Wargames Club

War of the Roses 28mm - Penarth and District Wargames Club

The mole at Zebrugge 1/300th scale

Retreat from Moscow 40mm - Wessex Wargames

28mm SAS Raid in North Africa using cut-down Bolt Action mechanics. Another really popular participation game with a very engaging games master! - Maidenhead Reapers

WW1 Middle East - 28mm big battle! - Adrian Shepherd & friends

More of the same

More again - lovely details around the camp scene.

War in Chechnya in 28mm (I think) - Tiny Terrain

Operation Goodwood in 20mm - Friends who like Rapid Fire

The other end of the Rapid Fire Table

Blood & Bridges - Cold War in 1/200th. A board game brought to 3D with Kallistra terrain and miniatures - Chris Wykes & friends

Nice terrain - I particularly like the pylons

Market Garden in 6mm - the South London Warlords . Unfortunately the game didn't move very quickly as they did spend a lot of time talking to people about the game and terrain and the German defence was very good at bottling up their advance! 

I think this was Romans vs. Sarmations in 28mm by Deeprose...but I could be very wrong

Another Cold War game this time in 20mm using Rapid Fire -- sadly by 2pm when I left the Warpac forces were still in the same position they'd been at 11:30 :-(
28mm Samauri Skirmish by the Liverpool War Games Association
 So there you go. Not every game by any stretch, I apologise for those I missed, but hopefully it'll give you a flavour of what was on offer.

I had a good 4 hours of entertainment so cannot moan. I'm not certain, but I think the lighting may have improved from previous years, I certainly didn't seem to have as much difficulty examining stuff. Food and drink were still outrageously dear for a peasant like me, but there's a Tesco and Greggs not far away, and it was a lovely day to sit outside with a packed lunch.

Til next year.....

Sunday, 9 September 2018

PSC's The Great War - The French Army Expansion

Finally it has arrived. PSC are really making a name for themselves with late delivery (originally due for delivery in June 2018) on Kickstarter projects!

Having so far bought the original game (on Kickstarter) and the first expansion - Tanks (again on Kickstarter) I felt obliged to back the latest offering too.
I must say the production values are well up to the standard of the previous too, though, if I'm honest, without the attractive stretch target additions, I'm not sure it's particularly good value for money at £45?
In the attractive box was one 15mm French army pre-cut from the sprues, in a new softer compound plastic. In total there should be 48 infantry, 3 MG teams, 3 Mortar teams, 3 Grenadiers  and a further 14 "Special troops" - a new feature for the rules. In fact I had 68 infantry figures so cannot moan...
French Special troop Types including Flame Thrower, Officers, NCO's, Chauchat Gunners, Engineer etc.
In addition there were 18 "Special Troop" figures to add to each of my existing British & German armies from the original game.
The rule book only covers the St. Chamond & Schneider tanks - not the Ft17
The rule book includes new rules for French troops, their tanks (which, whilst offered as part of the Kickstarter, I didn't purchase as I already have some perfectly good Battlefront examples) and how to use the new Special Troop types in games. Also there were 20 or so new scenarios which include several for the fighting around Verdun.
British Special Troop Types - Officers, NCO's, Lewis Gunners etc.
Two quick reference sheets were included as well covering the new troop types & new terrain hexes.
Quick Reference Sheets
 Finally there were three sheets of (high quality) card terrain hexes to add to those I already have from the first two boxed sets.
Terrain Hexes & Counters
The stretch goals rewards were decals for tank nicknames, an additional set of battle dice, more scenarios (on a loose sheet) a Rather small tank data card & French victory tokens (in card).
Kickstarter Stretch Goals
But best of all were two complete "replacement" armies in the new plastic (already cut from the sprues) including the 18 "Special Troop" figures for each army - British & German - these will retail post-kickstarter for £19.50.
My extra British Army 
This I think was brought about by the unhappiness that dyed in the wool board-gamers felt having to cut the original (hard plastic) figures from their moulding sprues!
The MG's are now single piece mouldings
Whilst I admit, it was a challenge not to damage the British infantry's bayonets whilst doing this, it wasn't all bad. I'm more than happy with my original figures so I don't really need these for the game itself.
Additional German Army
 So I'm currently unsure what to do with these - I guess they could make a good start towards a couple of Square Bashing armies?
Sorted ready for painting etc.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

28mm Bolt Action/CoC Vehicles

I've decided it's time to add some vehicles to my ever growing 28mm German Bolt Action/CoC army. I've had a couple of vehicles in my stash for some years so the time is right to get them out and assemble them.
First up is a bit of a collectors piece. It's a 1/48th Schwimmwagen orginally produced by Bandai in the 1970's, and more recently (1980's!) re-badged by Frog.
I bought this from a bring and buy at the WMMS when this show was still held at the Allumwell centre in Walsall, for those who can remember that far back!
It's been sat on my shelf ever since...
It's a beautiful little model, even including a fully detailed engine & transmission. It goes together a treat and fits in with 28mm troops perfectly. to this end I've  converted a spare Warlord German figure to act as driver.
When I was young, these models were an affordable alternative to the Tamiya 1/35th AFVs. Each came with full interior detail and crew figures which was unheard of at the time. I can remember seeing articles in Military Modelling withe cut-away examples to show off the hidden details....
I wonder who owns the moulds today? I see you can pick up originals on ebay (at collectors prices!) but haven't seen them for sale in the shops for decades.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Blood Red Skies

The twelve planes I got with my starter set are all now painted and varnished ready to go.

As I mentioned before, rather than pay extra for the decals I opted to hand paint the RAF roundels on my Spitfires (upper surfaces anyway). Using a good quality brush and thinned paints, from normal gaming distances they look just fine.
The Messerschmidt's markings were surplus Dragon Maltese crosses from their old N Scale range. Whilst a little small, they look better than they would if I'd painted them by hand!!
All laid out ready to go....
Now all I need to do is re-read the rules and have a go....

Friday, 31 August 2018

Le Musée des Blindés de Saumur

The Le Musée des Blindés de Saumur ( was easy to find, being well sign posted from the local roads. There’s lots of free parking within the museum’s grounds and it’s reasonably accessible for wheelchairs/buggies etc.
Entry fee was 8.50 Euro with an additional 5 Euro charge to take photographs (how old-fashioned!). There was also an option to buy a combined ticket for the nearby Museum of French Cavalry for 12 Euro.
Cutaway Chaffee at the Museum entrance
The Museum was split into 12 Galleries and, on entry, you are provided with a printed colour leaflet which gives the museum’s history and a map. Signage throughout is in French, English & German and whilst brief, is probably sufficient for the casual visitor.

The 12 Galleries consisted of; -

The Great War (Examples of St Chamond, Schneider, FT17 Command etc.)

Germany in WW2 (2 x Panthers, Tiger 1 & 2, Pzkfw II-IVs, Jagdpanther, Bergpanther, Jagdpanzer IV, Hetzer, Hummel, Wespe, Marder I-III etc…)
The WW2 German Gallery

Tiger II

One of 3 Panthers



Damaged Hummel

88mm Anti-Tank Gun

WW2 German Gallery - rear view of Tiger I, Panther etc.

Pak40 75mm Anti-Tank Gun
Italy WW2 (M11/39, Autoblinda armoured car & Sermovente)

France WW2 (Char B, Hotchkiss H35, Renault AMR35 etc..)

Char B
Warsaw Pact 1945-present (T54, T55, T72 cutaway, BMP1, SU122, BTR70, MTLB BRDM 2 etc…)
Warsaw Pact Gallery

Iraqi T55

An immaculate SU122 "Carnation" SPG
Allied Armour WW2 - Primarily British & USA (M3 Lee, M4 Sherman, M10, Stuart, M8 etc.. Comet, Cromwell, Churchill, Matilda, Valentine etc..)
Staghound Armoured Car

M10 Tank Destroyer with interesting damage to hull side!

Allies WW2 Gallery
France 1945-present (Indo-China vehicles – DUKW, Buffalo, M3 Half-tracks, AMR, AML & AMX10 Armoured cars, AMX 30, AMX 30B2, LeClerc, AMX 13, AMX50, AML 44 etc..)
Add caption

French Para Vespa with Recoilless Rifle!

EBR 75 Armoured Car

Interesting list of vehicles used in Ino-China by the French Forces in the 1950's

Selection of more modern armoured cars


 “Celebrity Corner” – Waxwork military Celebrities displayed on appropriate vehicles! Monty, Rommel, LeClerc, De Gaulle etc)
Monty in his Bren Carrier!
Engines & Transmissions – from Tiger 2, LeClerc etc.)
The ultra slim engine (13" height I believe) from a EBR75 Armoured Car
Rest of the World 1945-present (Merkava Mk1, Conqueror, Centurion, Chieftain, M47, M48, M60, Leopard 1, Leopard 2 prototype, and many APCs…)
An incredible example of a MkI Merkava

Modern Rest of the World Gallery

Viewed from elevated viewing gallery, which also housed the model collection
Scale model cabinets and viewing gallery.
Outside – various individual AFVs (Easy 8 Sherman, Roland Missiles on AMX 30) scrap/spares area ( Sherman DD for restoration and another Panther) & AMX collection (Every variant of the AMX13 + some Gulf War exhibits)
Iraqi T72

A DD Sherman with incorrect 76mm Turret
As well as all the AFVs there were a few soft skins and many towed artillery/anti-tank guns. Additionally, there are random displays of cutaway munitions explaining things like the Monroe (hollow-charge) effect and how Anti-tank wire guided missiles work.

Many of the vehicles are in running condition and appear regularly at military shows (St Chamond, Tiger2, Panther & Char B for example).

Whilst there was a large, well-stocked shop (Large selection of Heller Models, paints etc.) there is no café. There was, however several vending machines that all needed Euro coins to buy anything from them.

There is also a kid’s play area with a DAF APC that they can climb on. Also there are several APCs in the Rest of the World 1945-present area that can be entered.

This is a fantastic museum for the AFV enthusiast. Visibility and accessibility is good. The exhibits are in good order and painted in authentic schemes. There are so many unique exhibits (AMX50, ARL 44, Merkava Mk1 etc.) you won’t know what to do with yourself!!

Allow at least 3 hours to get the most from it, longer if you can afford it. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself back in the German WW2 armour gallery again, and again…….it’s amazing.

Really can’t recommend it enough if you find yourself in the area.