Posts Tagged ‘Airfix’

Toys ‘R’ Them

January 26, 2011

All hail the mighty Hornby Hobbies or as they’re still known around here, that’s the Isle of Thanet, the ever wonderful Rovex. There was a time, called the seventies, when an enormous number of Thanetians used to work here and they used to finish early on a Friday afternoon and bring the traffic on the main road outside to a halt as they flocked to the many buses waiting for them and a few cars for the wealthier workers.

Sadly there’s no production on site any more, it’s all made in China now so the only workers on site are marketing, research and design, and the visitor centre. It’s the latter I dragged the boys to just after Christmas.

Sadly you don’t get to enter through the main hall, but rather celebrate solidarity with the ghosts of the workers of the past in wandering in through this side gate…

…and in through this humble door.

This is where you’ll be greeted by the friendly and welcoming staff, and given what they must have to put up with it’s close to a miracle they can still smile if you ask me.

Now the first part of your experience is the humble but perfectly formed shop, it carries all the brands now owned by Hornby, their trains, and the much adored ranges of Airfix, Corgi, Scalextric, Humbrol and the less well known Bassett Lowke range.

One corner of the shop, above, is for the reduced priced items and it’s hard not to find a suitable bargain here, and I know because I’ve tried.

The shops open for the same hours as the visitor centre, however there’s no fee to come and shop and if you’re after a specific item then it’s incredibly likely they’ve got it in stock.

You do have to pay for the visitor centre though (£4 for adults, £2 for OAPs or Sprogs) and to start with I wasn’t too sure about it because the entrance to, and the exit from, are within six foot of each over. To me this suggested a very short experience but happily I was wrong as there’s a lenghty maze beyond worthy of Theseus.

The mystical journey starts immediately by plunging you into a dim environ with brightly light display of youthful totems.

There’s a tiny cinema showing fascinating documentary shorts.

More items of desire display tauntingly out of reach.

A lovely racing circuit, typically bigger than anything you ever got to set up as a child. Now if like me you take children you may have to prepare them for the wait involved to get a go on this mainly because there’s likely to be a pair of adults old enough to be your parents on this for ages.

Then onto the railway layouts, again typically so much better than your personal juvenile actuality, like a gold standard for aspiration.

There’s some limited interaction with these, pressing the odd button here or there but mainly it’s all about going oooooh.

There’s also a fair amount of temptation, given how you can buy all these pieces in the shop and then go home and make these massive layouts.

Here’s one piece which really grabbed me by the wallet. It’s their Jubilee clock tower which to you very likely just looks like… well a clock tower, but around here it’s a very special local building.  And for under a tenner too… expect to see it on a VBCW table near me soon.

Amongst all this are the shrine like displays like this one featuring a mould for a model which will have you waffling away to your children about “technical processes”, “injection moulding” and “scale drawings” until they fall over with fascination.

Others are pure nostalgia, and will have you wondering aloud about what exactly might have happened to your diecast JPS special racing car.

Predictably some will have you considering thievery to release the jewels beyond… for me it was this lot 1:50th-ish traction engines which I’m after for VBCW and can’t be found for love but can be for lots of money.

Overall the visitor centre is a crackingly brill experience, and for specialist anoraks should provide at least a solid hour and a half to two hours of unbridled joy. The only thing which surprised me was just how many times James May, aka Johnny Come Lately, featured in displays although I can understand why as he must be a solid fave with the shareholders.

I’ve deliberately not shown everything in the centre in the hope that a few surprises might remain but I highly recommend it as a great place to visit for a bargain price. Full details are here.

Para-dise Revisited

January 18, 2011

There’s something about the various parachute units which a lot of gamers like, and they’re not strangers to this blog either. When it comes to WW2 the airborne troops take on a legendary air, and this likely explains just why they so popular and rightly so. Although all my efforts have been 6 mm, the Slug has been working on them in decadent 28mm and rather well too as the photo above shows.

It also shows how gamers can save themselves some cash and effort in using out of scale models for the really big things like aircraft. Above is the Airfix Horsa glider in 1/72nd scale which breaks the rule of everything being the same scale, but this is gaming and not scale engineering and as a game representation works perfectly… it’s also a damn sight smaller than a 1/48th ki t- so more gaming space on the table, easier to find and only costs around £15.

Here’s a delightful Tetrarch light tank which we were lucky enough to buy as is from Uncle Crouchie just before Christmas. I’m not sure who makes this one but hopefully Crouchie might let us know should he read this. If anyone feels the need to point out the bleeding obvious (i.e: Tetrarchs were transported by Hamilcar gliders and not Horsa) then please do, it’ll give me an opportunity to edit your comment to something even sillier.

All of the miniatures are Artizan Design which were a gift for the boy Slug for Christmas 2009 based on his preference for Para’s who are wearing berets rather than helmets.

It took me a while to track down who made them like that, but it was worth it as they’re lovely sculptures.

Over the course of a year he’s kept on with these on the back burner and eventually finished them and has a cracking group ready for a fight.

The only help he’s had was with the basing, which he doesn’t like doing.

Who can blame him, especially when it’s a distraction from his growing confidence and skills with a brush.

Of course having finished them just before Christmas and celebrated a project as finished I’m not sure if he was genuinely happy to get a couple more packs of ww2 paras from Santa just a few weeks later.

I image this project may just run, and run, and run…

A very British motor pool

November 19, 2010

What Ho dear readers! My Very British Civil War project is in danger of reaching fruition as the heady combination of great miniatures, cracking vehicles, and scenics all approach the state of being finished with the alluring promise of much gaming ahead. Above is the Margate Section (St. Johns) of the Anglican League. I do seem to be in an unhealthy minority when it comes to VBCW, primarily it seems to be mainly my Northern and Scots cousins playing this game, secondarily very few seem to have embraced the Anglican League – either preferring the satorial elegance of the BUF, the self-righteous joy of all things socialist, or the simple nimby stance of militias. I’m left consoling myself with the truism of how God does indeed move in mysterious ways, and rather handily he’s let these photos be some of the best of models I’ve ever taken. Above is a BEF Miniatures Char FCM 2C, named “Charlie”, two Bolt Action TKS light tanks with 20mm guns, named “The Twins”, plus a converted diecast which is nameless because it’s effectively a staff car and staff are well known for having no imagination at all.

It’s a pleasant but simple conversion, plate armour added to protect the radiator and engine, another piece to protect both driver and passenger, with a handy slit with a hinged cover for the driver, various goodies dotted around and the small detail of a machine gun to clear minor traffic obstructions, tastefully finished in a dark Anglican blue.

Here’s the BUF’s vehicles, a much flashier collection as the Devil does seem to own all the best cars. There’s a BEF Miniatures Vickers Light Tank, a Sloppy Jalopy Austin Type 3 armoured car, an Airfix Gloster Gladiator in 1/72 scale, the home-brewed Pig based on a converted diecast, a converted diecast Mercedes and a converted diecast Bentley. One thing I’ve noticed in my recent foray into 28mm is how a lot of folk struggle to find suitable aircraft in the near matching 1/48th scale, but how easily the eye accepts 1/72nd models as fitting which I believe the Gladdy does quite agreeable and for a better price.

The Bentley is a conversion by the boy Slug, and rather well done I think. The driver was originally the same figure as that in the Anglican League staff car but it’s had a head swop to keep him in line with our decision to have the majority of BUF figures wearing caps just like their uniformed ranks did, bar the ladies. It has a nifty flag on the rear, an HMG for the passenger and a fascist black finish.

The Regulars of the British forces have a very humble collection which reflects the interwar budget, based on the simplistic premise of “If there’s not going to be another war then we don’t need an army”. The plane I can’t place, but there’s another another BEF Miniatures Vickers Light Tank, a simple conversion of a diecast van, plus a plain diecast “Travelling Library”.

Of those it’s the Travelling Library which is the real joy, I’ve done nothing to it, but it’s got my county on the side of it – all my VBCW games will (in the manner of the idea) be played in Kent which makes it close to the divine. It’s a humble model, but could hold any number of secrets or not.

Time for the weapons of mass transportation, namely my first VBCW conversion the armoured tram, two buses in East Kent Road Car Company colours (including decals!), and a delightful French Renault bus by Solido. The latter is also superb for WW2 games of course.

Finally private and commercial vehicles, two different steam driven lorries, Jones the Butchers van, a petrolium tanker (essential if you’re running a tank), an Austin taxi, a Bentley (same model as used by Slug for the BUF conversion), an Evening News van and a Riley sports car.   All in all it’s taken me just shy of a year to collect this lot together and aside from feeling very lucky to afford such a complete collection I think I’ve managed to reflect the type of vehicles you might get around the late 30’s even though I’m still totally lacking in horse-powered transport. The majority have been either off that Ebay or from boot fairs or market stalls at very good prices, which has left me a decent budget for the more militaristic gaming pieces. It’s been great fun getting these together, but I’d still like to thank both The Gentleman’s Wargame Parlour and the Lead Adventures Forum for their inspiration, advice and general chuminess throughout this project. Rah! Rah! Them!