Saturday, May 31, 2008
There was a volcanic explosion on the island of Martinique in the 1800s. Everyone on the island was killed, but one prisoner who was locked in his dungeon. Four days after the explosion, they found him still barely alive. This new set from Odemars commemorates that historic event.
This is a small resin kit of the dungeon and a pretty good model it is of that building. I have seen photos of the dungeon and the model and they look very much alike. While initially one would think there would be limited value in such a kit, I see several uses for such a model.
Pirates games are very popular and one scenario is to get the pirate buddies out of prison, this makes a great prison for such a game. As a stand alone or part of a larger complex it should work great. I would also work well as a powder magazine. I can see using this on the Philippines as a magazine to store American ammunition pre-war, or Japanese weapons during the wary.
A little imagination and you should be able to think of several uses for this unique bit of historical architecture.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Redbox, a new and to most people unknown figure company has announced they are doing the Boxer Rebellion. This series of figures will cover just about any type of figures you need to complete your Boxer Rebellion needs. They are 1/72nd scale soft plastic figures. I had always hoped someone would do figures for this conflict and when Orion came out with a set of Boxers a while back, I purchased a number of boxes. Then they stopped with just the Boxers and I was left without a decent opponent, but no more!
Redbox is not just doing USMC but US Infantry too! I had hoped to get Americans but never dreamed we would get two boxes of them. This is great news. And their technical advisor is highly knowledgeable so I know the details will be correct. Since this war took place in 1900 these figures will also work for the Philippine Insurrection, and perhaps the Spanish American War. I am anxious to see these troops in person.
This the the war from the movie 55 Days at Peking so there are many different types of actions to be seen here. A great bit of news from Redbox.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
More Imex Mexicans at the Alamo. The Mexican Army at the time was rather rank heavy and so I have included one box of Italeri French Command figures and about half of one set of the Odemars French Revolution figures. These are all the fancy commander types with big hats and fancy uniforms.
My Mexican Army is about two thousand strong, and my intention is to be able to use them for all of the various battles of the Texes Revolution. There were a number of battles and the Mexican won most of them. But San Jacinto was won by the Texans and it pretty much decided the outcome of the war.
I like to build full size units and I still need a few hundred infantry and some more supply troops. Imex will provide the majority of the supply figures from the Pilgrims set, the Pioneer set and accessories from both the Alamo Accessories and Battlefield Accessories sets.
I like having all the pots and pans, and blacksmiths with forges, and supply wagons. Here you can see some of the Imex supply burros that are part of their Alamo range. The Lewis and Clark set has some nice frontiersman types that will probably represent Davey Crockett's men. They also have some pack animals that will be a part of my Mexican Army.
The Alamo is probably the best covered battle for any battle I have tried to develop an army to wargame. Get the Osprey book for a good overview and then start buying some Imex figures. It is like playing Napoleonics, but in the New World with smaller armies.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
This cannon close-up shows the Eagle Games rather generic cannon. Since the Mexicans had at least four different types of guns at the Alamo, I am using both the Imex Mexican Artillery at the Alamo set, these Eagle Games guns, and some Imex British Artillery from the American Revolution. All the crews are Imex Mexicans. The cannon on the right of the photo is the small gun from the British set.
Imex made their Mexican sets in both a rather electric red, a flat red and a nice blue plastic. Mexican uniforms were various combinations of red, white and blue so all these figure colors are good. This photo shows some of the artillery crewmen.
A good side by side photo of the Imex Mexican Artillery gun and the British Artillery gun. Many of the Mexican guns were very small so these British guns work very well.
Here is a close up of some of the massed ranks of infantry from the Imex Mexicans at the Alamo set. I am also using Imex Pioneers, Pilgrims, and Eastern Friendly Indians to provide support troops from the Mexicans. They have people preparing food and working in those sets. I am also using HaT wagons for supply wagons and as limbers for the artillery. Some of the guns are very small, and I will probably only give them one horse. The Pegasus Mission Indians has a few other items that I intend to use for this unit. The ox cart will also be useful as a supply wagon too.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
The new HaT Industrie British Camel Corps sets have started making it into the shops. This photo shows the box and the contents of this set.
You get twelve camels, and twelve British soldiers from the 1880's. Nine of the soldiers are riding the camels and three are kneeling firing over the kneeling camels.
Until now, I have not really collected British Colonial, apart from a few Zulus and a few of the Esci British Colonial troops. It was not an era well covered in soft plastic figures and I did not want to invest a lot of money in metal figures. Now HaT has changed all that and is making a wide range of British Colonial sets.
These troops are wearing sun hats and are armed with Martini Henry rifles. The camels come in three poses and the troops come in four poses. All are well detailed and flash free. I intend to build a small army of British Colonial troops, starting with a few sets of these and then some of their new Egyptian Camel Corps. They are the same as this set, but the people are in Egyptian uniforms, the animals are the same.
I have always been surprised that Airfix did not make these sets in the 1960s, since they are a British company and there have been many excellent movies for the period. With the death of Charlton Heston, my wife and I watched Karthoum and 55 Days at Peking.
Both of these are excellent and exciting movies and we enjoyed them immensely. Now with these new HaT figures I can begin to play these wars in miniature. RedBox is also releasing figures for the Boxer Rebellion soon too, so they will fit right in this period.
I suspect some of these will be converted into pre ACW Americans and a few will be converted to carry WWII era GI's and Germans for Tunisia. A great set, thanks HaT.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
There are many variations on different aircraft and armored vehicles. One of the most interesting is those that have been captured by the enemy and then re-employed against their former masters. This photo shows the cover of the first in a series of books about Allied aircraft that were captured and then put back to work. This cover shows a P-38 Lighting, P-47 Thunderbolt, and a B-17 Flying Fortress that were captured and used by the Germans in World War Two.
These aircraft were used for many reasons, naturally they were checked for performance to compare against their own aircraft and new technology that could developed for their own use. The Germans also employed them in training, nothing better than training against the actual weapons used by your enemies.
These make excellent subjects for model makers. Seeing a B-17 in German markings is very stunning since it is so different from what we are used to seeing. The Germans used these aircraft on operational missions. They were perfect for airdropping agents or supplies to agents behind Allied lines. The silhouette of the B-17 would be familiar to Allied airmen and to Allied anti-aircraft gun crews, and they would be reluctant to shoot at it, unless the markings were clearly visible to them. At night, or from a distance these markings would be hard to see.
German B-17s and other Allied planes were used to follow bomber streams. They could then vector in other German planes or coordinate the ground flak response. In miniature wargame terms, these planes should be harder to spot as enemy than a regular enemy plane. I try to simulate this by making them be closer than normal before they can be shot at for the first time, and they are shot at with a die modifier making the percentage chance to hit lower. After this first shot, combat proceeds normally.
Since the Germans only had a few Allied aircraft, it is reasonable to limit your collection to one or two captured planes. These planes were often captured after crashes, and sometimes built from several damaged planes to make one plane. The Japanese also captured a few Allied aircraft, and the American operated Japanese and German planes also. I sometimes like to use older models and then convert them to captured kits.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Roco Minitanks Panzer III is an old model, it is probably thirty five years old. With a little work, this model can be cleaned up and made into a decent kit.
The first thing to do is to clean up the model by removing all the flash. I disassemble the kit and remove the little wheels underneath. This allows the vehicle to sit flat on the tabletop and it looks better than having the tracks float along above the floor. Get a bead about three millimeters wide, and cut it in half. You can get all kinds of beads at craft stores. You just want a plain sphere with a hole in the middle where the string will go through if you were making a necklace. Once the bead is cut in half, you glue it where the hull machine gun is located. Then take a Roco machine gun, or even a bit of wire, and glue it into the hole. This greatly improves the front of the tank.
Rummage through the spares box and get out a variety of bits, boxes, and any small spare tracks you have. I use the tracks from 1/76th scale German vehicles. It is easy to pick up damaged ones from flea markets or from friends that use that scale. Cut those tracks up and place them on the front hull. I drill a hole in the track and in the model and then use a pin of plastic rod to hold the spare tracks in place.
On many of my Panzer IIIs, I have taken the horseshoe turret armor from the old Roco Panzer IV and glue them almost without change on the Panzer III turret. I then cut the ends off the Panzer IV side skirts and glue them on the Panzer III hull. I cut them just outside the tiny clip that holds the skirts to the tank hull. The new Roco Panzer IVH has outdated the old Roco Panzer IV and so those are now surplus. That has allowed me to steal their skirts. The old hulls can be given away to kids to encourage them to play with models.
These few modifications make a rather plain, and outdated model into a very nice model that can soldier on for another 35 years in my armies.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
No matter what kind of wargaming your are playing, the real enemy is cats. Sure they look all cute with those pointy ears and soft fluffy coats, but remember they are the devils familiars.
I have had cats eat and scratch up my terrain. There are few things worse in model building than to find the terrain you have been working on for weeks has been ripped to shreds by cats. Not only have you wasted all that time and money but now you have to clean up the mess. My Lost World game terrain was totally destroyed by these long tailed varmints.
As a result of this and other outrages, involving vomit and even worse, cats have been banned from the wargame room. Any intrusion by cats results in an immediate response. Fortunately, I have found the perfect weapon in my war against them. It has a valid hobby use, it is sold everywhere, it is cheap, it does not hurt the cats, and they hate it; canned air. Those spray cans that are used to spray air into your dusty computer parts, or to dust off the rigging of your ship models. It works perfectly to scare cats away too. They hate it so much, that after a time or two, they don't even have to be sprayed with the air, just the noise will drive them away.
Leaving the wargame room safe for simulated warfare.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Gladiators, 1st Century A.D. is one of the most recent sets from Pegasus, item number 7100. These sets are just making it into wide distribution, but I have had one for a while now. Larry Pegasus showed me sets on sale in their shop in California months ago. Like most Pegasus sets this one comes without instructions, but there is an easy trick to avoid the need for them. If you set the sprue with the figures generally face up with their heads facing away from you, then just read from left to right and as you get to an arm, leg, shield, face, helmet that matches the first figure. The the second set of arms, weapons, etc, matches the second figure. All the parts for a given figure are right next to him on the sprue. I cut them off one at a time and assemble them as I cut them off. That way I don't lose any little bits and don't get confused about what goes where.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Pegasus Models has leaked out a set of their new Civilian Farm Animals and they are not only small but very nice. Unlike the Attack of the Killer Chickens from the old Airfix Farm Animals set, the animals are correctly proportioned. The small goat herd seen above shows male, female and kid together.
The milk maids from the Imex Pioneer set will have more work to do with these cows, that include a bull and cow laying down. Also just visible is a small donkey.
I am not sure if these are specifically Nazi Pigs, but these swine include both male and female and two different piglet poses.
Finally ram, sheep and two different dog poses round out the set. These are pre-production, top secret, figures; you are seeing them here first. That means the finished product will be modified, certainly the color of plastic will be different, probably brown, and there will be more actual figures, but these are all the poses.
Animals have been hard to get and with much of warfare taking place in rural areas, farms and farm animals are a natural item for Pegasus to make. The already make a small village of Russian farm houses that will be greatly enhanced by the presence of these critters. Many armies as late as World War Two carried much of their food supply on the hoof so these will be useful for many armies.
No word yet on when these will actually hit the shops, but with a good looking test shot like this it can't be too long. I would look for them to be home in time for Thanksgiving dinner, or at Christmas by the latest. Subject to change without notice and your mileage my vary.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Pegasus continues to add to their range of historical figures with a new set of 49ers! Gold miners from the early history of California. During the gold rush people came to California from all over the world and sought their fortunes in the gold fields. Atlantic made a nice set of gold miners 30 years ago, but now Pegasus has jumped their claim and we will get another chance to recreate this great turning point in American history.
Pegasus has been kind enough to allow me this sneak peek at their new Gold Rush set in 1/72nd scale. Yes, they are doing these figures in 1/72nd scale now! This is only a pre-production sample so the final set will be different, but you can get a taste for these guys from the photos. The size is good, they fit in well with the other Pegasus figures, no scale creep giants here!
Miners used a variety of methods to sift through the dirt to obtain gold. Since gold is such a heavy metal, swishing dirt and water around in a pan will wash out the dirt and leave the metal. Many types of boxes were tried to do the same job and many of those in this set are using sluice boxes to get a little color. Dirt was dropped in the box, water added, the box was agitated and the water would wash away the dirt, leaving the gold. Hard work to be sure, but gold is a great motivator.
This set will also feature at least four pack animals. There have been many requests for pack animals of late and this set will help to address that issue. Two different beasts are heavily laden with supplies for miners. One thing I always look for in sets is alternate uses for the models and certainly these pack animals can be used from Roman times until at least the Korean War.
This set also features the first time Chinese American figures have been made in plastic in 1/72nd scale! At least three poses have the long braid down the back that was typical of Chinese males in California in the early 19th Century. Thousands of Chinese came here to work the gold fields and it is great to see their contribution recognized in miniature. Looks like some of these guys may see double duty in my Boxer Rebellion armies too! Two of them are seen above carrying a heavy load on a pole and third is working a box sifter. That sifter may be cut off and a real box replacing it for my Boxers!
The man pushing the ore cart is nicely detailed. This is a three part figure, wheels, ore cart body and man all fit together perfectly and make a nice little set. Reminds me of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!
The miner with a shovel, the two animals and Chinese men make a good little diorama. A small supply train working their way to the gold fields. The man with the shovel also has a rifle slung on his shoulder because it was a lawless time.
This is a pre-production sample. Companies run these samples so they can determine if the set is ready to go into production. This set is not ready, but it is very close. The man with the rifle is carrying a shovel too, and the blade of the shovel is not really formed. Apart from this I saw no flaws in the set, and I know I will be buying several. While I don't know, I anticipate the final set will be made in reddish brown, like the Imex Pioneers, who would go well with these guys.
Several of the figures have separate arms and everything fit well and glued with regular model glue. There was no flash and it took me all of a few minutes to cut them off the sprue and get them to work. As a pre-production set, the final set may vary in color, and number of specific poses, so don't plan on them being exactly like this, but they will be a great set and very useful.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Many of the photos cover priests conducting communion services, funerals, and marriages. Some of the photos are portraits, and others are detailed photos of the uniforms and insignia worn by chaplains. The text covers the duties and training of chaplains in the German Army.
In my set of wargame rules, we take into account the morale of soldiers. One factor that detracts from the readiness of soldiers is if they have become "War Weary." To determine if a unit is in that state, we look at several factors. Are the troops being fed? I try and have mess sections with my units as you know if you have been keeping up on this blog. Do the troops have their leaders in place? I always try and have officer figures and commanders with my units. Do the troops get proper medical care? I have medics with all my battalions. And are the troops getting the spiritual and mental assistance they need? I have been building both chaplains and mascots for all my units.
In my Free India unit I have included both Hindu and Muslim chaplains; complete with prayer rug! My Bosnian unit has Muslim chaplains too. When a unit is preparing to go into battle the Bunkermeister will check on the unit status, any unit that does not have most of these important features, may find itself to be reduced in morale status to "War Weary." As a practical matter, not only are they more likely to fail morale checks, but they do all direct weapons firing at a level five percent below normal.
Units that have broken morale can only be reformed at certain positions. Military police, mess trailers serving food, officers, the flag, and chaplains can all rally the troops. Several good reasons to start adding chaplains to your units, so your little plastic heroes can "praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition."
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Figures from this company can be purchased directly from them at http://www.plasticrush.com/
Monday, May 12, 2008
British cannon on the left, Alamo Mexican Artillery commander in the center, and Alamo Mexican Artillery gun on the right side.