Friday, 30 November 2012

Thank you!

Yeah, baby!

This blog's been going three months and already we're up to 3000 views! That's brilliant and thank you all for your support!

In other news I've updated The Nutcracker with clearer photos and an even mardier bear.

This just in! Saludos y abrazos to my old comrade-in-arms Al Front. If you like a slice of dialectic with your wargaming he's your man :-)

All the best!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Household Brigade

What would His Serene Highness The Grand Tarboosh be without His Household? An Anahuacan probably.

The Tarbooshian Guard is the élite of the army. Its order of battle is:

  • The Guards Armoured 
  • The Guard Grand Band
  • The Guard Artillery
  • The Guard Transport Corps

Its primary function is to the protect and preserve the person of The Grand Tarboosh Himself. But, on the battlefield, it is often used to administer the coup de grace to an already well slotted enemy. Second to none and never defeated!

54mm figures all sourced at the recent Birmingham Toy Soldier Fair. The Tarboosh's driver started life as a cowboy and has gone up in the world since then. His mother is said to be delighted. The gunners are former ACW but a head swap gave them a well deserved promotion. The flag is TVAG but repainted by me.

Post photo shoot HSH The Grand Tarboosh was served mint tea with honey and nut sweetmeats by this fellow:


All the best!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

More Buildings......

.....what I'd forgot I'd done. Cleaning out long neglected cupboards is recommended for the treaure they can reveal. I made these for a long dormant plan to use toys to play a 'Stalingrad' type game. As usual the intial burst of feverish enthusiasm, collection and painting of toys, research and development was followed by a slide into torpor and eventual evaporation of the will to continue. At least this time I didn't either bin or charity shop them. Phew!

All buildings are impressions and are scaled to 1/72 (20mm) but you could use 15mm or smaller scales to be honest. The buildings are made from plastic card, foam core & coffee strirrers. The brick rubble is budgie grit and foam-core chunks glued and sealed with pva and then painted. The fallen beams are either coffee stirrers or match-sticks I split in random fashion and then set on fire to produce the charred ends. The mesh in the windows is that aluminium car repair mesh from Halfords. The girders are plastic ones from a model shop.The broken pipes are drinking straws. I made the shell strikes in the walls by digging them out of the foam-core with a craft knife and a heated-needle-in-a-cork device. The buildings' walls were coated with pva and sanded prior to painting in a uniform grey. I went for grey to reflect the utter misery of the Stalingrad battle for those involved.

A GUM Department Store

A Volgograd Tractor Factory

A Barrikady Factory

I can recommend Anthony Beevor's book Stalingrad as an excellent history of the battle. My favourite quote is of the Soviet Officer bellowing at German POWs as they marched into captivity:

You see this? You see this! This is what Berlin's going to look like!

Apparently he made it to Berlin and survived the war.


Crossfire Battle Report: Outskirts of Menton 23rd June 1940

On 10th June 1940 Italy declared war on an already embattled France. I believe the Italians thought the French would be a pushover given what was going on further north. The Italian Invasion of France is chock full of wargaming possibilities on land, at sea and in the air. One encounter took place at the Riviera town of Menton where the French stopped the Italian advance in its tracks. This was the obvious choice for an encounter battle game with the toys.

But, not having much in the way of detail, orbats etc I just made something up for my solo game tonight. One thing I did discover that rather like Les Poilus or The Tommies the collective name for Italian soldiers is I Marmattoni after the big cooking pots they used.

Using Crossfire rules and 1/72 scale toys the Italian objective is to secure the built-up area. The Italian air force and navy have already bombed and shelled the BUA which is assumed now to be deserted. According to Italian intelligence reports taking the place will be like a walk in the park. Because of this there are no aircraft or fire missions available. To secure and hold the BUA the Italian CO has:

2 x rifle companies each of 3 rifle platoons

1 x HMG

1 x 45mm Mortar

I Marmittoni Left View

I Marmittoni Right View

The French briefing is to hold and secure as much of Le Patrie as possible whilst inflicting maximum casualties on the invaders. Following the Italian bombardment the local French commander was able to infiltrate a company of infantry into the ruins.

1 x Rifle company of 4 platoons

1 x Light mortar

2 x HMG

1 x Forward Observer with 4 fire missions

Les Poilus Front

Les Poilus Side-ish

The Battlefield
Les Poilus can be seen either occupying buildings or moving under cover.

French Infantry

French HMGs cover the town square

Les Poilus have barely set up when the first Italians stroll nonchalantly into the town square.......fortunately for the Italians their company commander and HMG have taken cover in a ruin to the right of the advancing platoon. A second Italian platoon moves into the unoccupied block of flats in the bottom RH corner of the pic below.

French HMGs open fire!

The Italians in the open were cut to bits. But their wiser comrades managed to lay a smokescreen with the 45mm mortar; cross the square and close assault the French HMG in the centre. 

Simultaneously the Italian platoon in the flats charged across the gap and assaulted the HMG on the right. They killed both HMGs and occupied the buildings. 

The French CO then displayed how to grip the battle. Using his light mortar to lay a smokescreen between the two Italian occupied buildings he unleashed a platoon-sized attack onto the Italians. Savage hand-to-hand fighting with grenades lobbed about caused casualties on both sides. The French stuck to the task longest and forced the surviving Italians to surrender.

The French FOO had not been idle. He was positioned in an apartment block in the town centre and had observed the Italian movements and had zeroed in his artillery missions with skill. Timed to coincide with the French platoon's attack he called in the good news. You can see the smoke and explosions wracking the buildings in the centre of this photograph. Given their already shattering losses from the French ambush, assault and artillery those Italians who could do so surrendered while those who had an escape route available took it. 

The real campaign was a complete debacle for Italian arms. This is a shame because given competent leadership Italian troops could and did fight with skill and bravery.

Hello and welcome to new blog follower Kaptain Kobold. His blog's fab; don't take my word for it, go and have a look!

All the best!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Liebster Blog Award

This 'ere shiny fellow and his big egg cup dropped into my inbox from Tim Gow today. I'd not heard of it before but apparently you pick your five favourite blogs from the ones one follows and give them the award. When you consider I started blogging in August 2012 to have been one of the awardees was flattering indeed.

So, who are my fave five? Well, it was a VERY tough choice because I love them all equally (how sick making am I?) so, in no order of preference: Drum roll please! 

Megablitz and more Tim was first to welcome/follow me to the blogosphere. I enjoy his mix of posts and the humour they are laced with. He's also a wargaming period tempter par excellence!

View form the Duck Pond Nigel's blog is entertaining and informative. His modelling skills have to be seen to believed and I really like the way he isn't frightened to go back the beginning if he isn't happy with a project's progress. 

The Stronghold Rebuilt I have never met Alan, and I probably never will, but his original The Stronghold was inspirational and The Stronghold Rebuilt has continued that tradition. I really like the way he examines fairly complex matters and then breaks them down into bits even a bear of little brain like me can understand.

Winter of '79 Mark's dark fantasy of civil unrest, civil war and general uncivility in a dystopian UK of 1979 is a complex but accessible and utterly brilliant take on What-If? Marvellous!

Swungover Bobby White's excellent swing dance blog.

Finally a warm hello to my newest blog follower Peter Douglas who actually loves ships more than I do which I didn't think possible. Go and have a look at his blog it's a ship-shape treat!

All the best!

Friday, 23 November 2012

German Bread

Birmingham is experiencing its annual visit from the German Christmas Market. If you do go I recommend a weekday visit: Saturdays & Sundays are truly hellish. I don't buy much, just the bread this time; you do get some bargains but overall the prices are eye-watering.

It's a black bread topped with pumpkin seeds and is as heavy as it looks. I forgot to ask its name. My guess is Pumpernickel but I'll bet one of you fine lot can identify it!

I had two slices toasted with poached eggs on for dinner. Very nice but I definitely needed a drink with it. And it will keep the mail moving too.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

And HE! Shall Have Music Wherever HE! Goes

The HE! of the title is of course His Excellency El Presidente or HEEP as he is sometimes, unwisely, called. This name is provided only as an example of what the filthy Tarbooshians call humour at Our Presidente's expense. We urge all loyal citizens not to use it or expect a 4am visit from El Presidente Death Squad.

Music is central to Anahuacan cultural life with villages, towns and cities flooded by strolling players. Why this is so when the Army is crying out for recruits is a matter for concern. Expect these cadging buskers to be rounded up and put into uniform any time soon.

Not so these brave and clear-eyed musicians. All are volunteers for The Army Band of Eternal Anahuaco and El Presidente is a big fan. They have kept up the spirits of our troops in many an encampment, march and battlefield. Their unique sound striking terror into the paper-thin, lily-livered and swivel-eyed Tarbooshians!

Percussion & Brass

Syncopated Beat

The figures are Kellog's bandsmen bodies and Crescent Mexican heads. The bandsmen's heads have found alternative employment in Tarbooshia. All these 54mm figures were sourced from the bargain bins at last month's Birmingham Toy Soldier Fair.

All the best! 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Armada Española de 1898

First up a big thank you to Colin Blaxter who has sent me scans of the Andy Callan rules I asked for just yesterday. The blogosphere is full of wonderful people!

The Spanish Navy had, up to 1898, a long and, mostly, illustrious history. The defeat by the Americans and the loss of the last portions of its overseas empire shook the Spanish national psyche to its very foundations. One of the best things to come out of the debacle was The Generation of '98. The defeat also reinforced the idea of The Two Spains which, after much political chaos, would lead to the Spanish Civil War. But all of that is another story.

I built the Spanish ships using the same resources as detailed here: ship stuff. The builds were a bit easier because I had the experiences (or mistakes) to draw on from the USN ships.My favourite bits on all the ships are the gigantic ventilation pipes. There's just something about them that says Turn Of The Century.

Anyways here are the ships:

First is Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus). A Heavy Armoured Cruiser of the Giuseppe Garibaldi class of ships. CC was the flagship of the fleet at the Battle of Santiago.

Cristóbal Colón 1

Cristóbal Colón 2

Cristóbal Colón 3

The Armoured Cruisers of the Infanta Maria Teresa class. There were three ships in this class.

Infanta Maria Teresa 1

Infanta Maria Teresa 2

Infanta Maria Teresa 3

Almirante Oquendo was an Armoured Cruiser of the Infanta Maria Teresa class of ships. 

Almirante Oquendo 

Vizcaya was the third ship in the Infanta Maria Teresa class of ships.


Also present at the Battle of Santiago were these Torpedo Boat Destroyers: TBD Pluton & TBD Furor


Pluton 1

Pluton 2

Pluton 3

And finally. To try and even up the sides I built the Spanish battleship Pelayo. The Pelayo was en-route to Cuba but was recalled to Spain after the defeat of the Spanish Squadron at Santiago. An interesting what-if scenario would occur if Pelayo had arrived in time to participate. 

Pelayo was the only ship in her class and was given the nickname of 'Solitario' or 'Lonely'. The ship has the look of the iron-clad era especially its main guns being in open turrets and its masts and rigging. Needless to say this is a build for wargaming and not museum display!

Pelayo 1

Pelayo 2

Pelayo 3

As always comments are most welcome.

Hasta luego!