27 February 2011

One Bright Day in the Dark Ages

...a battle report for our recent Viking Skirmish game.

Where: Northumberland in the late 9th century.

Who: Raiding Vikings, bands of Saxons, a Saxon long hall and some loot (5 Players, each with 5 figs)

What: Grab the loot - every warband for itself!

The Rules: We went old school with this one.  REALLY old school.  Donald Featherstone's Skirmish Wargaming!

Forces: We each had 5 warriors: 1 Veteran, 1 Novice and rolled for the other 3 figures (d6: 6=Vet, 5-2=Av, 1=Novice) Figures as armed - each warband had 1 bowman and the rest with swords and axes, and a combination of armour and shields.

Setup: 1 warband setup in the Long Hall itself, the other four came in from different table edges.  You can see that all players took a historically subtle approach to planning their raid! (click for larger versions of pics)

So what happened?

Early moves- mostly everyone just running their warbands on.  The Lad's archer did a snap shot on the run and got a wound on one of Steve's warriors.  In reply, Steve's veteran bowman put a shaft into the Lad's archer's head - that was the end of that archery duel!

My warband advances with the bowman on the high ground (chap on the left already has a headache). The Lad's warriors are in the background 

In the meantime, my archer sought out the high ground, drew a bead on one of Pete's warriors and promptly broke his bowstring (I rolled a perfect '00' on a percentile dice!!!!  Everyone agreed that meant something bad...)

The Approach - typically, everyone yelled very loudly and charged.  The Lad's warriors collided with Pete's next to the Hut and the expected bloodletting ensued...

Shieldwalls crash together!!!
The Lad's lads are victorious!
Wounds were pretty decisive I must admit.  A serious wound and KOed for 6 turns doesn't leave must scope for coming back into the game.  Accordingly, the Lad decided it was time to just loot the twitching bodies and make off with their weapons and armour.

Breaking down the door  In all the chaos, I maneuvered my guys to the front door and managed to batter it down over a turn or two.

Ding-dong: Avon Ladies!
Then it was time to form a Viking conga line and fight our way in, with the defenders ready and waiting for us...
Viking gate crashers, while the Lad's last chap continues to loot the bodies outside
Inside the Hut:
A nasty little surprise actually - the Saxons had hired no other than Xena and Gabrielle to help defend their hearth and home!  Being good Vikings of course, we don't mind fighting women either so we got to work.

The finale
While all this was going on, Pete's last remaining figure decided discretion was the better part of valour, and Steve's warband (unengaged until now) had manoeuvred to ambush me on the way out of the hut.  The Lad's chap outside had now plundered all the bodies and to keep him interested I gave him my archer figure who I had left on the hill with the broken bowstring.  He ran the archer off the cliff, nimbly springing to his feet, ran over to the dead bowman with an arrow in his head, swapped over bows, lit an arrow and fired the thatch roof of the hut....while I was still in it!!!

Curse his inevitable betrayal...but it was good to see that essential fire component of the Viking raid wasn't missed.

At this point all figures scattered and ran off, while victory ales celebrated the various feats of the brave warriors on this day!


GREAT fun had by all, the figs and terrain worked very well together, and the simple rules were the key to quick and easy play.  Probably just need to add a defensive factor for the extra protection of a shieldwall, but that's all.  Whole battle took maybe 90mins.

Figures and Models:
All models are Wargames Factory Vikings and Saxons, beautifully painted up my mate Ken - I'll post some detailed, posed shots this week.  Hills and Long House made by me.  Menhirs by Fenris Games (and lovely they are too).  My GW mat has been through some tough times over the years including about 6 house moves.  I like its rough, realistic look though.

Games Day: Zeds and Vikings

Had some of the Lads (Pete, Ken and Steve) around for a Games day yesterday.  Between the brews, chats and BBQ lunch we managed to get two games in:

Dark Age skirmishing action was a LOT of fun - each player had 5 Warriors including an archer.  Mission: be the first to loot the Long Hall in the centre of the table (which I had to get up early to finish painting).  In typical Viking fashion, sharing was not high on anybody's priority list!  Great fun and a full Battle report to follow.
Little Pigs, Little Pigs, Let us come In....
 And the old favourite ZOMBIES!!! saw the light of day too.  Steve hadn't played before and we hadn't tried with 5 players before either.  The Lad came a close second but couldn't catch me in the end (first time I've won this game actually!).  The usual backstabbing and treachery ensured fun for all.

We are trying to make Game Days a monthly event this year, so I am looking forward to some varied and regular gaming for once (before I relocate at the end of this year anyway).

In unrelated news, I also got a package from the UK filled with lovely plastic Daleks - thanks very much Steve!  Lots of 'ooh-aah'ing by the boys, and one suggestion to turn one pack into a Dalek Blood Bowl team - which isn't as silly as it first sounds actually...

Married with Zombies

Oh dear....


26 February 2011

Sänger Amerika Bomber

The Sänger Amerika Bomber (or Orbital Bomber, Atmosphere Skipper) was designed for supersonic flight in the stratosphere. The flat fuselage created lift, and the wings were short and wedge shaped. There was a horizontal tail surface at the extreme aft end of the fuselage, which had a small fin on each end. Fuel was carried in two tanks, one on each side of the fuselage, running from the wings aft. Oxygen was stored in tanks located one on each side of the fuselage,forward of the wings. The huge rocket engine of 100 tonnes thrust was mounted in the rear, and was flanked by two smaller rocket engines. The pilot was housed in a pressurized cockpit in the forward fuselage, and a tricycle undercarriage was fitted for a glide landing. A central bomb bay held one 3629 kg (8000lb) free-falling bomb. As the aircraft would fly far beyond the range of Allied interceptors, no defensive armament was included in the design. The dry weight was to be in the neighbourhood of 9979 kg (22000 lbs).

A peculiar flight profile was thought of for the Silverbird. It was to be propelled down a 3 km (1.9 mile) long rail by a rocket-powered sled that developed a 600 ton thrust for 11 seconds. After taking off at a 30 degree angle, the aircraft would proceed to an altitude of 1.5km (5100'), at a speed of 1850 km/h (1149 mph). The main rocket engine would then be fired for 8 minutes, burning 90 tons of fuel and propelling the Silverbird to a speed of 22100 km/h (13724 mph) and an altitude of over 145 km (90 miles). Now the skipping started...

As the aircraft accelerated and descended under the pull of gravity, it would then hit the denser air at about 40 km (25 miles) and 'skip' back up, just like a stone thrown on a lake. The skips would gradually decrease until the aircraft would glide back to a normal landing using its tricycle landing gear, after covering approximately 23500 km (14594 miles).


In June 1935 and February 1936, Dr. Eugen Sänger published articles in the Austrian aviation publication Flug on rocket-powered aircraft. This led to his being asked by the German High Command to build a secret aerospace research institute in Trauen to research and build his "Silverbird", a manned, winged vehicle that could reach orbit. Dr. Sänger had been working on this concept for several years, and in fact he had began developing liquid-fuel rocket engines. From 1930 to 1935, he had perfected (through countless static tests) a 'regeneratively cooled' liquid-fueled rocket engine that was cooled by its own fuel, which circulated around the combustion chamber. This engine produced an astounding 3048 meters/second (10000 feet/second) exhaust velocity, as compared to the later V-2 rocket's 2000 meters/second (6560 feet/second).




23 February 2011

Miniature Building construction in foamboard

Pretty sure I don't have the patience, finesse or skills to replicate this guy's efforts, but there is some remarkable stuff here:

22 February 2011

'Nuking the Kremlin

Reading an interesting book at the moment: US Strategic Attack Theory in the 1960s and its translation into SAC's targeting list under the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) for strategic targeting and nuclear warfighting.  

One of the little treasures I found was in relation to estimated damage from nuclear strikes to Moscow, as a key command and control node, industrial target and political target.  With a few broad assumptions, mainly strategic surprise which would negate significant population relocation, the following casualty estimates were made for airburst detonations with a ground zero directly over the Kremlin in central Moscow:
 373k (4.4%)       
708k (8.4%)
1.58M (18.8%)   
3M (35.7%)
3.5M (41.6%)     
4.9M (58.4%)

So when selecting your B-52 payloads to fight nu'klr war toe to toe with them Rooskies, and your boys have drawn the dreaded red route into Moscow, make sure its worth it - take a 50 megatonner and make it worth your while!  There wont be much left at any rate...
From: Strategic Nuclear War: What the Superpowers Target and Why, William C. Martel and Paul L. Savage, Greenwood Press, 1986, ISBN 0-313024192-9

20 February 2011

Weapon XX

Late on in WWII the German Army were desperate for Men,Materials and Victories. Despite lots of small advances the defeats outweighed the victories so many desperate and wonderful Weapons were hurriedly put into production,many of them never reached the Prototype stage let alone the Battlefield. This is one that may have been produced if the War had carried on.......

This is Weapon XX,a Walker type Armoured Battlesuit.With a Crew of one this heavily armoured and Slow Weapon could easily be brought down by Air Attacks although not without a fight.......

..........The Weapon XX was armed with a Quad 20mm Cannon mounted into the Left Weapon Arm,this  provided a very effective deterent to Air Attack. The Weapon XX was also Armed with a Surface to Air Heat seeking Missle in the Left Arm which could easily bring down the latest Jet Aircraft. In the Right Weapon Arm a Surface to Surface Hollow Charge Rocket was carried,this was easily capable of defeating the Allied Armour of the Day.........

The Commander of the Weapon XX was reasonably well protected but to save time the Armour was bolted on rather than Cast but a plus was the Ceramic layer between the Armour Plates which effectively doubled the Armours protective ability. Access was gained by a rear ladder and Door which could be Electrified to deter access. The Commander could 'Walk' the Weapon hatch down with the Cupola closed or Hatch open,this was prefered as visibility was limited.


19 February 2011

Whats old is new again

The Lad has just discovered this fav PC game. 
His first comment: "How long until I can get war elephants to crush my enemies?"

17 February 2011

16 February 2011

Thunderbolt Apache Leader: Pre-order

You might recall me rambling on about the game Thunderbolt Apache Leader late last year:

Well the new edition is now available for pre-order at DVG:



We are very proud to return this classic game to the world! Like the rugged A-10 Thunderbolt and AH-64 Apache showcased in the game, TAL keeps coming back for more!

We have maintained the original design while adding extra features. TAL builds on the Air Leader game system used in Hornet Leader and Phantom Leader, and then takes it down low into the weeds of the modern battlefield. Hornets and Phantoms get to fly high. Thunderbolts and Apaches fly low. Really low. In TAL you'll find yourself zooming through canyons and popping over ridge lines to blast unsuspecting enemy tanks, troops, APCs, and more.

You can now take every pilot from Newbie through Ace!

In addition to the aircraft appearing in the original game, we've added all the newest weapon systems including the A-10C, AH-64D Longbow, MQ-1 and RQ-1 Predator UAVs. Unlike the original game, you can now select AV-8B Harriers and AH-1 Cobras as part of your squadron!

To support all this mud-moving aviation hardware, we've added 55 cards and a second counter sheet!

15 February 2011

Battle of the Bulge: Hitler's Alternate Scenarios

I've been reading this book, by Peter Tsouras, this week. 10 incidents are seperately described, modified and lead to a different outcome of this famous battle.  It describes real actions and characters (on both sides), and shows how different choices or minor incidents could have led to entirely new chains of events. 
  • What if the Germans successfully prevented Patton from relieving the seige of Bastogne? 
  • Or if the Allies had suffered a major setback in the Ardennes, allowing the Red Army to overrun Berlin and drive on to the Rhine? 
  • What if Hitler had not launched the battle, and retained the forces to defend Reich territory instead?
I'm thoroughly enjoying it!


14 February 2011

Heath Advice for Women

Ladies: Do you have feelings of inadequacy?     Do you suffer from shyness?      
Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. It can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Sauvignon almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live. Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had.

Stop hiding and start living.

Sauvignon may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use it. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing orbecoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss ofvirginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister!


* The consumption of Sauvignon may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
* The consumption of Sauvignon may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
* The consumption of Sauvignon may cause you to think you can sing.
* The consumption of Sauvignon may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
* The consumption of Sauvignon may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Please feel free to share this important information with as many women as you feel may benefit!

Now Just Imagine What You Could Achieve With a Good Dry Merlot!!!


13 February 2011

Jagdpanzer E-100 "Krokodil"

Jagdpanzer E-100 Krokodil: Super Heavy Tank Destroyer

Model by Frank Forster from: http://www.track-link.net/gallery/2871

A model of the Krokodil.
The E-100 is infrequently referred to as the "Tiger III" and more commonly mistaken for the Maus super heavy tank. Not without good reason, considering that development of the E-100 and the Maus were concurrent and because the Maus progressed more quickly the E-100 was intended to have mounted an identical turret. This makes even technical illustrations of the two look surprisingly similar, but the E-100 was more than just a lousy Maus imposter. As the scale tipping end of Germany's rather ingenious "E-series" of next generation tanks the E-100 was planned to be the platform for a variety of super heavy armored vehicles. Among these was the E-100 "Krokodil", a super heavy anti-tank vehicle.

Without the Maus turret to contend with the Krokodil would have slimmed down the impressive 3.6 meter profile of the turreted E-100 and lightened the load on the E-100's 800 horsepower Maybach engine. While the E-100 was unlikely to acheive the promised road speed of 40 kilometers per hour (twice as fast as the Maus) the Krokodil would have likely come closer. The Krokodil would have maintained or even enhanced the E-100s 24 centimeters of sloped armor. The most powerful anti-tank gun fielded by the Germans by the end of the war was the 128mm KwK 44 used by the Jagdtiger and planned for the Maus. The E-100 tank and Jagdpanzer Krokodil both would have mounted a 170mm anti-tank gun capable of driving an armor piercing shot through anything on the battlefield at ranges up to four kilometers.

The E-100 was projected to weigh a "mere" 136 tons, but this number hardly seems realistic given that the weight of the less heavily armed Maus was 188 tons. The E-100, like the Maus, also mounted a coaxial 75mm gun for anti-personnel duty. This gun would have been done away with in the purpose-built Krokodil and would have further trimmed the operational weight of the vehicle and freed up room for more ammunition.
E-100 chassis.

History: The E-Series, or "Einheitsfahrgestell" Series, or General Purpose Chassis Series if you like English, began in April of 1943 with an order to various manufacturers to begin developing different weight classes of vehicles. The E-series was envisioned as a sort of fresh start for the panzer armies of Germany, an entire new wave of armored vehicles in all shapes and sizes. They ranged from the E-5 ultra-light tanks in the 5-10 ton range all the way up to the gargantuan E-100 series. The idea was a grander realization of what was attempted with the Koenigs Tiger and formative Panther II; a complete interchangeability of parts. Every piece of an ultra-light E-5 tank possible would be made to work in a super-heavy E-100 tank, greatly streamlining the efficiency of production, maintenance, and training. This was an impressive goal and one which has yet to be fully realized by any military to this day.

By the end of the war many vehicles in the E-Series had progressed well into the prototype phase, including a variety of light anti-tank guns. For the E-100, fate was less kind. Because of the terrible situation Germany found itself in by 1944, development of super heavy tanks was all but halted. A handful of engineers at the Henschel facility in Paderborn were allowed to continue assembling a prototype of the E-100 tank. They had nearly completed the chassis when the facility was overrun by the British and Americans in 1945. The chassis was carted off to England where it was eventually scrapped.

The legacy of the E-100 and the Krokodil are particularly sad considering that so much noise is made about the Maus when they were both clearly superior vehicles. Their greatly improved speed, even if a bit optimistic, places them leaps and bounds ahead of the Maus in terms of the usefulness they would have had on the battlefield.

From a WWW2 gaming perspective, 28mm versions are elusive in the extreme.
I did find a diecast version in 1/50 but the $230 price tag kinda scared me off...

Agis has built a 1/76 kit from Cromwell which has turned out beautifully (like the rest of his stuff I might add)

12 February 2011

A Shaky Truce: Battle Report

A battle report for an imaginitive WWW2 game in which Axis and Allies forces need to work together to survive the approaching undead hordes...

10 February 2011

Platoon Forward Review

I got this book and have been reading it in detail over the last week, so I'm in a position now to share my thoughts on it.

Platoon Forward! is a supplement for platoon level and skirmish level gaming, though it can be applied to larger scaled campaigns with relative ease.  The book is well set out in full colour with good diagrams and clear explanations throughout.  The three sections (as detailed previously here:http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2011/01/platoon-forward.html) are themselves independent but can be linked as desired. 

Section 1- Character Formation
A neat, quick and easy system involving a couple of tables to give depth to your platoon leadership characters and others as you need them.  This is done in a plot point style system, letting you use it as much as you want, as opposed to giving specific rules for the game table, though these could be generated very easily if you want them.  For example a "Fanatic" character wont be taking many prisoners, so don't assign him such tasks or they will be liquidated before they get delivered to the intelligence section and you wont get the VPs (He just hasn't been the same since his family died in that bombing raid... ) The tables themselves are generic, but they get the creative juices flowing and I already have plans to build more specific ones for my German forces.

Section 2 - Scenario Generation
Very slick, easy to use system which not only provides an individual scenario, but what comes before and after.  Very neat for a series of ongoing games in a particular sector, and each game has particular victory conditions that aren't just "kill them all".  The solitaire rules for setting up the enemy are also good - sensible but able to keep you guessing.  The scenarios also include support factors, such as armour, artillery etc.  I plan to keep the arty part secret and just roll it up when I call for it.  After all, I might have a battery in support of my patrol but I wont know they will definitely fire (they could be busy supporting another unit)when I ask them to....until I ask them to!

Section 3 -Events
This is probably the most subjective part of the book, and it involves all the post mission stuff that happens: Interactions with other figures, reinforcement and support etc.  The book lays down some rules for working out what happens, but it is very narrative based and you'll need to develop it yourself, based on how each game goes.  Then again, no prescriptive system will meet everyone's needs and this instead gives you a framework to apply to any situation.  Its free flowing and with only a little imagination really required on your part (think back to Commando comics, Cross of Iron and all those Sven Hassel books!)

There are a few minor typos or errors but they don't detract from the document.  I really like the inclusion of a series of short letters from a German NCO to his brother, which neatly give the rules context.  Admittedly, there is nothing in here that I couldn't have developed for myself, but the point is even after years of thinking about it, Joe has and I haven't!  The only thing that comes to mind as missing from a character and story perspective is some sort of system for achievements and medals.

easy to read & great value for money.  I wish I had it 20 years ago!  Give it a whirl, for the price you've not got much to loose and based on my reading, everything to gain.

09 February 2011

Operation Sea Lion: The Eagle Has Landed

Too Fat Lardies are making lots of goodies at the moment, and this is their latest intriguing offering.  
From their blog here:

If a wargame has ever truly entered the history books then it has to be the 1974 Operation Sea Lion game at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where a glittering array of top brass from both the German and British military assembled under the watchful eye of umpire Paddy Griffith to test the German invasion plans against the British defences. 

Adolf Galland headed the German team, one of Germany’s leading Luftwaffe Aces and a man intimately involved with the planning of air resources for Sea Lion.  General Heinz Trettner who had been Chief of Operations on the Staff of 7th Fliegerdivision in 1940 and had planned the airborne landings in Kent was there to supervise that aspect of the game, whilst for the Kriegsmarine Admiral Freidrich Ruge had spent that summer of 1940 heading the flotilla of minesweepers in the channel and had responsibility for getting the invasion fleet ashore.  On the British side Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris had flown Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain, being shot down twice in the process, whilst Rear Admiral Teddy Gueritz had been a Royal Navy beachmaster on Sword beach on D-Day and understood implicitly the issues involved in amphibious landings from a naval perspective.  Major General Glyn Gilbert had been defending the beaches of West Sussex in 1940 and went on to win the MC whilst crossing the Escaut Canal in September of 1944 in another amphibious assault.  The supporting cast is too numerous to mention, but included Admiral Schunemann, the German Naval Attaché, and Oberst Wachsmutt the Bundeswehr liaison officer at the Staff College.

What resulted was an intriguing game with over fifty players fulfilling a wide variety of roles in order to see if Britain could withstand the onslaught of the all-conquering Wehrmacht.  The results make interesting reading, and in 2004 they were sufficiently intriguing to make Operation Sea Lion the first scenario supplement published for I Ain’t Been Shot Mum company level rules, with a selection of ten scenarios based on the results from that 1974 game.

In 2008 we withdrew Sea Lion from our web site as, frankly, our publishing skills had moved on apace and the original supplement with its hand drawn maps was looking more than a bit scruffy.  My plan was to re-release it after a bit of a tidy up, however events dictated that I took a different course.

A year later Paddy Griffith contacted us about assisting him as an umpire on a re-run of the 1974 Sea Lion game, this time at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.  Naturally Nick and I were not going to miss that particular gig, and the resulting game saw a somewhat less glittering assortment of players but equally enthusiastic playing through the invasion again.

Paddy had been supportive when the original version of Operation Sea Lion had been published in 2004, but the opportunity to talk through with him exactly how events had gone did present us with several more scenarios that we have been able to add to this edition. In addition some of the background history set us off on a paper chase seeking out snippets of information to piece together the British defensive plans.

As a result this version of Operation Sea Lion is 74 pages long (the original was only 43 pages) and contains 14 scenarios that stretch across the southern counties of England.  Additionally there is an historical section that introduces the German invasion plans and the British defensive arrangements.  There is also an account of the results of the 1974 game presented on a day by day basis for those wishing to find out what happened in that classic wargame.

Operation Sea Lion is available as a pdf download, designed for minimum ink usage, with each scenario ready to be printed out and played, all for just £8.

08 February 2011

SCHOOL -- 1970 vs. 2010

Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

- Crowd gathers. Johnny wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best mates for life.

2010 -
Police called, arrests Johnny and Mark.. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Mark started it. Both children go to anger management programs for 3 months. School board hold meeting to impliment bullying prevention programs

Robbie won't Keep still in class, disrupts other students.

1970 -
Robbie sent to office and given 6 of the best by the Headmasterl. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2010 -
Robbie given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. Robbie's parents get fortnightly disability payments and School gets extra funding from state because Robbie has a disability.

Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car
and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1970 -
Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.

2010 -
Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. Billy's sister  tells Goverment psychologist that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison.  

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1970 -
Mark gets glass of water from Teacher to take aspirin with.

2010 -
Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.  

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from Guy Fawkes,
puts them in a model airfix paint bottle, blows up an ants nest.

1970 -
Ants die.

 Police, Armed Forces,  & Anti-terrorism Squad called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, MI5 investigate parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Johnny falls while running during break and scrapes his knee.
He is found crying by his teacher, Mary . Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1970 -
In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2010 -
Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy

07 February 2011

She Wolves

Just found the "Tales of the Shadow Reich" range of figs by Amazon Miniatures.  Quite handy if you are going for that "Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS" look in your army! (Captain Suzanne Kappel figure shown). Of course the "Russian Priest And Crazed Monk With PPSHs" will work with your Russian forces too.


And if this sort of thing is your bag, you probably already know all about Pulp Figs and their "She-Wolves' Range, but just in case you don't:



06 February 2011

Building Dioramas

Anatoli's great WWW2 Diorama - see more here: http://secretsofthethirdreich.com/forums/index.php?topic=689.795
As a wargaming focused modeller, I rarely build dioramas, but the prinicoles can generate some fantastic terrain and bases.  Found some great ideas and tips at this website:


with some YouTube demo videos

and some great dioramas here for inspiration:
Warning - one of these is a little disturbing, not sure why you would build a diorama of it...

05 February 2011

WW2 Alien Invasion

Very well done alternate WW2 video series by OzBeastRabban, based loosely on Turtledove WW2 "In the Balance" series:

03 February 2011

50,000 Hits!

 Thanks for all your support, encouragement and comments- Comrade James, Owen and I really appreciate it. Cheers!

02 February 2011

Photography at Conventions

Another great tutorial from "Big Lee", this time on optimising your convention pics - its very dissappointing when sharing your pics of an amazing setup at a convention table to find them rubbish...

Personally I have found one of those miniature tripods to be invaluable (but its now broken!), and then use the timer function to elimate any camera movement.

This post is in response to several requests both here on my blog and on the TMP forum for info on how I took my pictures at this years Salute. I'm not an accomplished photographer by any means, and my head hurts when people start talking about f-stops and apertures, but I have learned how to take a half decent image by following some simple rules. I've always taken the view that achieving a good picture isn't and shouldn't be some mystical zen skill only mastered by professionals. If you take pictures based on sound techniques then even a grunt like me can get some good shots.

I used a Cannon EOS 500D with a 18-55mm Lens for my pictures but the same techniques can help you when taking pictures with compact cameras. Most of the pictures I took were taken with the camera on the 'P' Setting. This is like full Auto but with more control. So for instance I was able to adjust the exposure of the pictures without going near the AV (Aperture) controls. Similarly I could adjust the speed or ISO setting when desired, not that I did that much. One of the reasons I choose the P settings rather than the Full Auto (green square) mode was the ability to turn off the flash and shoot with available light.
Lighting : Most cameras have a built in flash and my 500D is no exception. However I found the pictures I took with flash were too harshly lit. Flash lit pictures are also not suitable for scenes that require large Depth of Field. I chose to shoot most of my pictures with the flash off because the lighting at salute was very good compared to some shows I have attended.

Composition : The Rule of Thirds is a principle of composition that helps you keep your images dynamic. It gives you eight elements to work with -four lines of intersection and four power points. Placing points of interest along the lines or at the power points tends to create a more interesting composition.

Stability : I decided not to bring a Monopod or tripod to Salute, partly because I didn't want to get in other peoples way but also because I knew I would be mixing photography with shopping and didn't want to be weighed down with equipment. I compensated by adopting bracing my arms and legs in a ridged frame (arms tight in and locked against the body) to minimise camera shake. I also took advantage of any available object (a chair back, a display stand or a table edge) as improvised tripods. Finally I briefly exhale and hold my breath when I press the shutter to keep myself as stable as possible.
Innovation : Having said "here are the rules of composition" you need to break them occasionally. Try something different instead of having all your pictures from head height try some high shots, low shots and weird (angled) shots.

 Get snap happy : Take lots of pictures. My camera has an 8gb memory card and at maximum resolution I can shoot over 1200 photo's. So I shot loads of pictures knowing I could edit out the rubbish later. I also looked for the picture within a picture. Many of my photo's are cropped from larger pictures that didn't work compositionally but held within them a good image.

Depth of Field : I like to take advantage of Depth of Field (DoF) to emphasis one part of a picture over another. I wanted to focus on the Aircraft in this picture but still be able to see some of the background. So I zoomed in - which shortened the DoF - and manually focused on the plane separating both elements without loosing all detail.

Technical Stuff : When I got home I downloaded all my pictures and started the first edit of pictures, discarding obviously blurred or pointless shots. I then looked for the pictures within my pictures and cropped those pictures that would benefit compositionally from a trim. I then adjusted the brightness on some pictures and I also slightly adjusted the colour temperature of the finished pictures to compensate for the halogen light inside the exhibition centre. Other than that the finished pictures are as they were taken without any complex digital darkroom wizardry involved.

I must stress again I'm not a pro and I have no aspirations or allusions to being one. The tips I have listed here are the things I keep in my mind when taking a picture and, on the whole, they seem work for me.


01 February 2011

Applying Water Based Decals

Decals make a huge difference to any model vehicle, but I always hate this bit....and since I'm doing them now on my Hetzer and Stummer, I found this tutorial by "Big Lee" very useful

Applying Water Based Decals

I’m in the process of applying decals to several vehicles and thought it was long overdue that I discuss how to do this. Now I’m not an expert by any means, and my experience is limited to the water based ‘slide’ decals that one associates with Airfix Kits (also known as ‘Transfers’) and the type sold by Battlefront for their FOW vehicles. I’ve also bought several other types from other manufacturers but always the water based variety because these are what I am familiar with. Over the years I have encountered several problems when trying to handle and apply these often small and temperamental details. So here’s my troubleshooting guide to applying decals.

Planning the Job
Take a few moments to decide what decals are being applied and where they will be positioned. This is a fiddly job so the more organised you are the easier it will be. You will need several tools before you start, including a sharp knife, tweezers, q-tips, tissue paper, gloss varnish and setting solution (described below). You will also need a shallow bowl - I use a ramekin dish - with warm distilled water.

Prepare the surface
Decals applied directly to a Matt surface can develop a silvery sheen. This is caused by micro bubbles between surface imperfections in the paint and the decal. There are two solutions to this problem. First you could use a Decal-setting solution which softens the decal allowing it to bind more closely to the surface. However setting solutions can cause decals to melt if they are too strong, which could be a problem if you use decals from different manufacturers. The second option, and the one I use, is to use a gloss varnish on the area where the decal is to be applied. Once dry it provides a smooth surface for the decal to adhere to and prevents silvering.

Releasing the Decal
First I cut the individual decal out from the sheet leaving enough backing paper around the decal to hold with tweezers. Soak the decal in WARM water for just 10-15 seconds then take out of the water and wait another 30 seconds. The Adhesive binding the decal to the paper should now have dissolved and the decal can be applied. Soaking too long in cold water runs the risk the decal will separate and end up floating in your water.

Sometimes large visible bubbles can ruin a decal. At the application stage bubbles can usually be brushed away (hold the decal in place with a cotton bud or blunted toothpick then brush the bubble towards the nearest edge). If a bubble is detected on a dry decal the only solution is to pierce the bubble with a pin or knife and smoothing with a damp brush. Weathering (see below) and varnishing can cover up smaller bubbles.

Excess water
I usually wet the surface before application to make it easier to reposition the decal. Once in position though it is necessary to remove as much excess water as possible and start the drying process allowing the decal to adherer. A dry brush tip can be used to draw off excess water, or for larger areas a dry cotton bud or q-tip. Another option is to use the corner of a piece of tissue paper. Whichever method you use be careful not to touch the decal at this point because it will not have adhered to the surface yet and could be moved.

Cracked Ink
I have found that decals often vary in quality from one manufacturer to another. Think decals can sometimes crack or split when applied on uneven or curved surfaces. If this happened the modeller has only two options. Either remove and replace the decal before it dries, or paint over the decal filling in the gaps. For simple decals like American Stars or Balkan Crosses this can be quite straightforward but is a nightmare for complex unit insignia.

Deep surface detail
In real life unit or national insignia were often applied across door breaks and engine covers etc. It may be necessary to apply a decal across a deep grove or other large surface detail which can use creases or bubbles. The best solution is to use a sharp knife to score the decal once it is in place. The knife needs to be sharp because the last thing you want is to move the decal as you drag a blunt blade through it. Apply a small amount of setting solution to ‘melt’ the decal into the grove or around a bolt etc.

Adhesive Stains
Some decals have more adhesive biding them to the backing paper than others. Sometimes this adhesive is not entirely dissolved when the decal is applied and creates a ‘stain’ on the model surface. These can usually be removed by wiping the area with a wet brush or q-tip but again, be careful not to touch the decal and accidentally move or damage it.

Seal in Place
I always varnish my models to make them durable when handling but even if you don’t do this you should consider applying a gloss varnish over the decal. This softens the raised edges and blends them into the paint job. Additional weather can be added over the top of this coat to further blend the decal into the model. Finally I apply Testors Dulcoat over the whole model to create a uniform surface.

I hope you've found this guide useful, and of course if you have any other suggestions or tips I'd love to hear them (this dog likes to learn new tricks). There are also several other guides online that you can refer to such as the Flames of War guide to Decals and Doctor Faust's Painting Clinic.