Archive for January, 2010

Slow Rider

January 23, 2010

It’s time to destroy another Lledo vehicle in favour of making an armoured car for the BUF with a DIY flavour, something which might have been made in a small independent workshop as a stop-gap until more professionally produced vehicles became available. Of course you can build similar for any of the factions in VBCW, as ultimately it’s all in the paint scheme. As this is for the fascists though I’m thinking quite bland, but armoured to the point of paranoia as well as suffering from very low speed, maneuverability, handling and poor braking. Now a lot of the Lledo vans are similar to this one, the upper body and paint job being the main difference. I’ve cut off the headlamps and saved them, removed one of the ventilation hatches, filed down the destination boards and superglued styrene or plasticard strip around the bottom.

Next I’ve dug out some sample bases which I didn’t end up using for 6mm and glued them along the side. This gives a pleasant look of plate steel butted against plate steel.

I’ve done similar along the top, leaving the forward hatch uncovered for some type of shooting platform and the rear one for possibly a second shooting platform, or perhaps an emergency exit but also for ventilation as it’ll get hot inside from the engine straining to move so much additional weight. With a lighter guage plasticard I’ve filled in the rear. Originally I was going to fit a door on top of the rear section but decided otherwise.

I decided to cut a door, so as to keep a little detail namely the oval rear window. Here the door is a trifle too small.

On the front I’ve added armour to every inch of body, putting bars across the radiator to permit some limited cooling, an access hatch to the engine, a front screen with a drivers port with a drop down hatch, and a smaller one for the co-driver. I made the screen part seperately and added it when finished. There’s a nasty gap at the front corners, which I filled with miliput, allowed to partially dry before shaping a little, and then finished off when totally dry.

Now for a little bit of filling and filing around the inevitable gaps, I found an interesting piece in my scraps box which I’ve used for a simple turret. Now I cut off the original headlights at the start but they look absolutely lost on such a vehicle now, so I’ve utilised adhesive wobbly eyes for the headlamps, but the other way around. They’d work either way, but I thought this suited the period better. These can typically be found in craft shops or haberdashers in small numbers for pennies. Also add rivets with blobs of superglue.

A coat of black paint and the beast is looking ready for action, if it can ever get anywhere in time of course. I did try matt black but it really didn’t help what with the lack of detail.

To the rear I added split doors, which also means you can look through the model and out the front with childish glee. The turret is still lacking a gun and gunner until I can find some loose suitable weapon such as a Vickers Machine gun. The whole thing reminds me of the old Humber Pig, K9 without a head and a cubist Dougal from Magic Roundabout, a singularly charmless mix. However a speedy little conversion and one made much easier if you use precut plastic of a standard size for the bulk of the armour plate. Why not build one today?

Eat More BEF

January 21, 2010

The Slug and I are big fans of all things local. I’ve indoctrinated him with a type of micro-nationalism based on relative geography, so someone doing something a few miles away or even someone from around these parts who has wandered off to do something gets my wholehearted support without question. Tracey Emin is a prime example, even though she’s evolved beyond the simple seaside girl we might have originally known her as, it’s still a case of rah-rah her. So to discover via GWP the existence of BEF Miniatures in the nearby pretty but under-rated town of Deal was a joy of many beams of light, one based on the micro-nationalist scale, another being they manufactured miniatures, yet another being the possibility of going shopping without going to a shop, plus the chance to promote something worthy with this blog.

So I emailed the man behind BEF Miniatures, Crouchie, and asked if I might pop down to pick up a few figures, say “Allo” and save on the cost and delay of postage. “Sure” he replied, “You’ll get to see the centre of my empire, namely a damp lean to shed with a pile of boxes.” and we set a date. I told the boy Slug the minimum I could get away with, namely “We’re going to see a bloke in Deal.” Now if you’ve any form of memory of being a sprog, aside from the hopelessly nostalgic, you’ll likely recall how visiting folks with your parents tended to be incredibly dull – rating just above looking at a pile of bricks and deffo below just about anything else you could ever do for a few hours. So I deliberately played things down.

Come the day and we’d just enjoyed the first showers of snow, you know the light dusting of powder which grinds the nation to a halt, so this added to the drama I was so carefully building for the young Slug. Slowly we wound our way along the coast having sent a text ahead to warn of our impending visit, enjoying the enhanced beauty of Kent as well as near empty roads. I parked right outside his home and revealled the true reason for our visit to a flecktarn wearing Slug. The immediate surge in his demeanour beats anything the makers of energy drinks might offer.

A knock on the door later and Crouchie welcomed us in, plonked a cuppa in my hand and we started chatting. Yet again we’d found another old-school gentleman gamer, only this one happens to make miniatures too. He showed me the British range and I wanted the lot, along with one of his nifty Vickers Light Tanks (which will feature here soon) and he very kindly offered them at what can only be declared a bargain price.

We nattered on, him showing us various items which made us go “Ooooh!” and “Ahhhh!” and touching spoddy subjects until we settled on VBCW – him suggesting a socialist stronghold at the nearby colliery, me freting at just how many Marines would have been stationed in Deal at the time, with Crouchie treating the Slug as an equal throughout. It wasn’t long before Slug had mentioned Afghanis, and Crouchie asked him if he’d seen “9th Company”, all eyes lit up of course as we all adore this fine Russian film. Totally out of the blue Crouchie dug into one of his boxes and gave the lad a bag of 9th Company figures along with a couple of bags of Afghani to give them something to shoot at- as a gift.

Now it’s easy to declare someone a paragon of gaming when they’ve cut you a good deal or given you a gift, and possibly a little sordid too, so I’ll pull up slightly short of doing so – BUT for someone to accept us into their home and honestly share their enthusiasm is magical. I was delighted with meeting him, but for the Slug it was an epiphany which had him walking on air and proving to him yet again that to know about history isn’t a bad thing, to expand that knowledge with gaming isn’t either, how being both sociable and respectful with your elders via such an activity can be an exciting experience in it’s own right.

“Okay,” I hear you think, “enough of the soppy feel-good nonsense, what about the miniatures?”. Well you’ve got eyes haven’t you? You can see from the pictures how they’re simply excellent you should buy some and as you do consider how much of an ambassador for gaming Crouchie is, the antithesis of the faux chumliness you’ll find in GW shops. Hurrah for Crouchie, we adore him and his work plus he’s much nicer than Emin.

Finally a comparison shot, which people are fond of, left a Renegade piece which are typically the chunky end of 28mm, and to the right a BEF miniature. All figures painted by the Slug.

Every Little Helps

January 19, 2010

In 28mm scale vehicles are varied and plenty, but typically quite pricey and often more wished for than a regular buy so it’s worth keeping an eye out for toys which fit the scale and this week I spotted a trio of boxsets well worth considering at my local Tesco for £5 a set. First is the Emergency set above, featuring a police car, an ambulance and a vehicle tow lorry. They’re a mix of plastic and metal, ready for gaming or ripe for conversion or wrecking. They lack opening doors, etc, the paint jobs are a bit hit and miss, plus the steering wheels are on the wrong side, but balancing the price against all that they’re a bargain at under £2 a piece. I’m especially looking forward to using the tow truck in game to inhibit vehicular movement by players returning to their getaway vehicle.

The second set are lorries with various loads, one a recycling centre, the other two more pieces of recycling street furniture, and the third a skip. The green recycling lorry, with a little work would make a great decontamination or hazardous load vehicle, but basically they’re all the same vehicle.

Delightfully the loads are all detachable and can be used as street props, which alone would cost a good few quid. They’d benefit from a bit of filth as they’re unrealistically clean as they come out of the box, I mean I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen a shiny skip, usually they’re a perfect example of the kind of rust you’d like to be able to paint. The large recycling centre opens at one end, suggesting an interesting form of transport for a squad wanting to get in or out of somewhere in secret.

The third set were all yellow, rather boring and I didn’t buy them. I’ll not start taking photos in the toy department of Tesco if you don’t mind, I imagine it’s a prisonable offence. If you’re interested hurry along and have a look, they didn’t have many when I bought these, and my local branch in Westwood is one of those massive ones.

Wacko Zeddo

January 17, 2010

Well not so much a thriller as a saga my order from Zombiesmith in the States finally showed up, mysteriously repackaged with about three miles of Royal Mail tape and looking as if the original package had been repeatedly passed through a lawn mower. Originally ordered before the 1:1 scale Jackson popped his clogs I did think something supernatural was taking place preventing this figure and the others ever reaching me, although I’m sure the postal strike might have played a part.

All in all they’re a lovely bunch of figures, but this one jumped the paint queue just so I might show what I think is probably the most must-have zombie figure of them all.

A Very British War Game

January 15, 2010

According to Sir Alec Issigonis, the designer of both the Morris Minor and the Mini “A camel is a horse designed by committee.”, so it follows how a wargame created along similar lines would be little more than a glorified form of “Snap!” but with alabaster playing cards twelve foot high printed with invisible ink. If the committee seldomly actually met, preferring to discuss it openly over a web forum while encouraging input from anyone interested in playing you’d expect it to sink into immediate oblivion only to surface again in a thousand years mistakenly identified as some Polynesian-like oddity such as the moai of Easter Island.

Yet should you pay a visit to the Gentleman’s Wargame Parlour you’ll find just such a game in development, and generating an enormous amount of interest which not only dwarfs the rest of the forum but also reveals one of the most fascinating games around for a long time. Aside from this you’ll likely spot the incredible amount of enthusiasm which has infected all those who go there, myself included.

The oddest part is how, unlike all good wargames, A Very British Civil War isn’t a ruleset. It’s a big “What-If?” based around the idea of Edward VIII not abdicating his throne in favour of asking Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists to form a government for him which results in a civil war by 1938. This grand scenario is supported by two source books, with a third enroute, which give you a feel for both the period and the factions involved, and the rest is down to you the player. You’re encouraged to play the area you live in, which makes period research a lot easier as well as using your knowledge of the local geography, and report back on any developments with a possibility of it becoming “fact” in a future source book.

Now I’m generally not a fan of “What-Ifs”, but VBCW has focused on a very interesting period of history not least for the UK, and the manner of the forum, “All gents together.”, helps distil the whole project into something far greater in total than the sum of it’s parts. Frankly it simply shouldn’t work- it’s hard to tell who, if anyone, is in charge. Folk are piling in ideas left, right and centre but it’s this chaos which is part of the fun, just as if we’d actually decided to pick a faction to fight our corner in a civil war.

The opening battles of the war are still being organised as big games which you can go play should you choose to, and folk are madly adapting anything they can get their hands on to supplement their forces. If anything drives this relentlessly onward it’s the simple truism “Gents have more fun.”.

I tram what I tram

January 13, 2010

Having developed an interest in VBCW which includes lurking over at the Gentleman’s Wargame Parlour where everyone is frantically developing armies including armouring everyday 30’s vehicles, I thought an armoured tram would make a good start, especially as no one else seems to have realised the beauty of this regular piece of transport with boiler plate rivetted onto it. So I picked up a couple of Lledo “Days Gone By” trams from Ebay and set to work. Now I realise a lot of folk collect diecast vehicles of this type, and like the ones I bought, keep them in the original boxes as part of their collecting fetish. If you are such a collector I strongly advise you don’t read much further, I take these toys out of the box and modify them. However if you’re looking at bashing together some really cheap pieces for 28mm read on.

First it’s time to get rid of the seats on the top deck, which is best done by wiggling one end up and down as seen above.

It’ll soon snap off revealing the metal below. The hole is where the metal pole sits, you know the thing you’d grab if you were boarding, like that on an older London bus. Do this to both ends.

These are the pieces which will come off. The black piece is for keeping, it’s the rod which powers the tram from overhead power lines. The rest is for the scraps box.

That will leave you with this. Now I base 28mm figures on tuppences, and thanks to the gaming gods a tuppence fits this top deck. So I want to put in a new floor, and then I’ll be able to get four figures on this top deck. So the top of the spiral steps and the “nipple” at either end have to go and being cast metal it’s time for some dremel action. Now a fresh cutting disc is too large to fit in, so use one which has seen some cutting and is therefore smaller.

Once you’ve managed that it’s time to put a couple of styrene or plasticard strips in to ensure a level floor. Notice anything different about this picture and the previous one?

In simply handling this model the pop rivet on one side has popped loose. Just as well really as closer inspection reveals how the driver’s cab this end doesn’t sit totally square with the bulk of the model, and in gentley coaxing it back to perfection it’s eventually snapped off. No wonder Lledo collectors don’t take them out of the box! So I’ve taken this opportunity to remove the front bumper, which is also an automatic brake in case someone should fall in front of the tram. However the other bumper, the series of parallel bars forward of the wheels, stays as it’s the auto-brake for items which might derail the tram. For an armoured version the first isn’t really wanted as it would allow the tram to be disabled in game with a stout kick, whereas the latter is rather important.

So what I now have is this collection of pieces, but for the next one I think I might do this to start with as it makes the cutting off of the top of the staircase a lot easier.

So back to the top deck. I’ve cut a planked floor from grooved plasticard and rounded it off to fit neatly, and included a pair of hatches for the top of the staircases.

And then glued it firmly into place with superglue gel.

Next is the plate for the “front” of the tram. Trams typically didn’t have a front, but this one will have a highly armoured front and a not-so-armoured rear. I’ve made measurements and cut a flat piece of plasticard with a slit for the driver, a space for the destination board, and a firing port at the top. Then I’ve wrapped the card around a former and sat it in boiling water so it’ll curve. Remember how a tuppence fits really neatly onto the top deck? I’ve used a pile of them as the former.

This piece has then been glued and clamped into place, once I’d fixed the cab back into place as well as fitted a strut along the railings on either side at the top. This part of the model is now rock solid.

Next is the side plate, which has been measured and had three hatches cut into it.

And the same for the other side, the rear is next, but with more of an easy access to it.

Like this. Here you can see I’ve painted it and applied rivets with blobs of superglue gel. I’ve also put the upright pole back and glued it in.

I’ve added some plates purely because they look right on such a beast. Also set the hatches open to various degrees and glued them into position.

A lick of paint and varnish, as well as replacing the rest of the chassis and the “K6 tram with (patent applied for) Calveley non-spalding armour” is ready for delivery. The additional hatch above the bogies is for the handcrank for the added in-built turntable, but that’s top secret so best I don’t mention it.

The Anglican League proudly take delivery of their latest tool in the fight against the fascists.

Even if the driver has reservations about the safety of the rear cab.