Saturday 29 November 2014

Imperial Scout Troopers

Just a quick update to prove that this blog is still active! Recently I acquired a set of the Micro Machines Star Wars Scout Troopers collection. This has been a set that I have been hunting for some time.

Worth lots in the box.
 I have seen boxes sets of these on E-Bay go for US$80. Thankfully, I didn't play that much for these, but I did spend more than I would normally on a  Micro Machine figure set. The two main reasons were - A) I hadn't seen the set available for some time (no doubt the market will now be flooded with sets at a cheaper price), and B) The price was reasonable (Although not as reasonable as the sticker price!).

But difficult to use in gaming unless opened!
 Of course I need to open the set to use the miniatures, which will of course lower the value of the  set, but toys are made to be played with. That, and even the loose unboxed figures can go for around $US8 dollars each!

And added to the collection - now I just need some more Jet Bikes!
To the collectors who see this, and are unhappy with my actions in opening a MIB set, I would point out that I have added value to the remaining  MIB sets by opening one, and that by reducing the pool of  unopened sets I am increasing the challenge factor - and thus the enjoyment factor - in finding a MIB set.

Much of the material I use for my gaming could be considered collectors' items, but given the sheer scale of production of these plastic toys, how rare are they?

Hugh Walter, author of the blog "Small Scale World" addresses the subject numerous times in his blog, and raises many interesting points in a manner far better than I could, and with the benefit of considerable knowledge of collecting across several fields. His most recent musing (at the time of writing) is here and can be found part way down the post under the heading "Prices"

Largely I agree with Hugh on this, but would like to add that hobbies should be fun, and not "All about the Rutherfords!"

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Loot from Kapiti

Last weekend I took the opportunity to go to the Kapiti Wargaming Club Annual Bring and Buy (click here for details), and met some very nice people. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and very helpful. So I thoroughly recommend attending any of their events if you get the opportunity!

All in a purpose designed cardboard box too!

I also took the opportunity to acquire a rather nice piece of terrain - a pre-painted set of resin dungeon building pieces that can be used for a variety of purposes other than making mazes, but are pretty damn cool!

All the pieces minus the connectors were there.

Naturally, upon return to Palmerston North, I had to get it out and play with it and see how it all connected together.

A large chunk of it laid out together
 The set comes with a booklet of sample layouts that look interesting, but are more geared towards dungeon delving RPGs than for wargaming scenarios. That being said, I do have a couple of ideas on how to employ this rather nice set of terrain.

Top left, one of the two polystyrene trays the pieces go in.

Close up of the pieces.
 I also purchased a number of GW Night Goblins that I plan to use as part of my 20mm Fantasy project. This does feed into one of the ideas I have on using this terrain.

And a resin gun emplacement too.
I also picked up a very nice resin gun emplacement with cast on wicker gabion detailing. It had been designed for use with 25/28mm figures judging from the barrels, but once they are removed and a few other tweaks occur, it should be a very nice 20mm piece for use in 18th century games.

Close up of the emplacement. I have plans for this piece...
Last week also saw the arrival of  some purchases I made over the internet. I bought some 1/144 scale Mig 21s and two packets of the Ultima Ratio Mujahidins (Click here for the PSR review)

Loot unpacked.

Bag inside the box - Three sprues per box.
So I have more stuff to paint, and hopefully I can organise a game of something soon and post an AAR!

Monday 6 October 2014

Diecast Chieftains

While I have acquired a number of the Matchbox Battle King Chieftains to use in modern games, I have never, until recently, obtained an example of the Playart Chieftain. Playart produced a range of diecast tanks at around the same time Matchbox produced the Battle King range.

Playart Chieftain Tank.
Unlike the Battle Kings Chieftain, the Playart version has a more realistic set of running gear. It does seem to have a turret that seems a little odd, as are some of the angles to the rear of the hull.

And painted up, with figure for scale.
In order for it to match the other Chieftains I have, I decided to give it a repaint using the same techniques I have used on other vehicles - sand coloured paint, followed by a brown wash.

Front view.  This gives a good view of the turret shape around the gun mount.
A side view. Note the length of the gun barrel.

Diecast Chieftains. The metallic green paint has survived rather well on the two Battle Kings.

I also have two Battle King Chieftains to give the same treatment too, of course the large horde of plastic Chieftains (click here for details) that I still have to work on.

Sunday 5 October 2014

New Tracks From Old Strapping

Many of the Battlekings that I have  acquired over the last six months have been missing their tracks, so I have started experimenting with a technique I have used with other kits of using plastic strapping (such as is used to strap up cardboard boxes) to make new tracks.

A selection of tools and materials used to track the toy tank.

I have improved on the normal method I used of just putting a band of strapping around the running gear by cutting small bits of strapping and gluing it around the curvature of the tracks at front and rear.

Despite losing the commander's head and both tracks, the original paintwork is disturbingly intact.

Strapping goes round running gear, small bits placed at curvature of track to create illusion of more detailed tracks.
 Ideally the small bits created should be uniform in size. I used the THAR  (That Looks About Right) method to achieve this.

Toy tank and lens cap
The next step is to decide on a suitable head to place on the tank commander body, and then paint the tank up.

More tanks.

Other tanks acquired recently have included two of the tanks from Hornby's military train set, and a Playart diecast Chieftain tank. (More on this to  follow  later)

Hornby Tank and Matchbox Chieftain
The Hornby tanks are quite interesting as they seem to based on an impression of what features a modern tank should have, rather than on an actual vehicle. Given that I plan on using them in imagination moderns games, this allows me to give them stats that not overbalance play as they will be used to represent a tank that has been produced by a commercial interest to be marketed towards the lower end of the market.

Side view and bottom view.
They will require a bit of work as the running gear appears to be modeled backwards, and the wheels on the bottom prevent the tracks from sitting on the ground.

Friday 26 September 2014

Another Plastic Battle King Clone

 It has been some time since my last post, mainly due to the amount of time I am spending working at my new job, and organising the great migration north from Christchurch to Palmerston North. I hope to start making time in order to do more on the blog - time will tell if I am successfull!

Battle King K-102 M-48A2 on left, Plastic clone on right.
Previously I have pointed out in previous posts some plastic knockoffs of Matchbox diecast vehicles - Saracen Armoured Cars (click here for details) and Battle King Chieftain Tanks (click here for details). Recently on a local NZ auction site I discovered another plastic clone of a Matchbox diecast - the Battle King K-102 M-48. Naturally, I acquired it as it would be another useful tank, and provide (at least to me!) an interesting short blog entry!

Side by side view. Note the diecast has no tracks, a number of  Battle Kings with excellent original paintwork have been put for auction in this condition recently.

Unlike the Chieftain knockoff, I have never seen another example of this in NZ. Normally the plastic M-48s are a larger size and seem to be based on another source, although the tracks and running gear are very similar.

The turret gives the source of the knockoff away.

I am curious to see what other knock offs of Matchbox military diecasts occurred, as Matchbox did produce a wide range of toys (and as a Mattel brand still does!) that would have caught the eye of knock off artists in various parts of the world. Of course many of these knock offs are probably considered collectors items in their own right now!

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Naval Gunfire Support

Amphibious operations are something I have an interest in, and an often important aspect of these operations is Naval Gunfire Support (NGS). Naturally since I have acquired a number of suitable hulls for use as amphibious warfare platforms (click here for more details), I have also been on the lookout for something with a little more bang.

A little more bang......
 I have been aware of the existence of large toy battleships for some time, but I hadn't seen any for sale here in NZ, and the cost of getting one shipped here seemed excessive (around NZ$100). Then one turned up on NZ's favourite local auction site for NZ$25 plus shipping, so I had to grab it...

A view from the rear.

Rear turret and helipad....

Side view.
 The battleship seems to be based on the US Iowa class, but with the length and lines becoming less sleek, and rather more caricatured. Given that this is idea for letting big items appear on a tabletop, I certainly won't complain.

And complete with storage drawer....
 This battlewagon came with some metal planes and two HO scale tanks (a Churchill and a Sherman  - I have another Sherman for you Ion, if you are interested), but I have seen it offered with a variety of different toy army items, some more useful than others.

The tape gives an idea of the length of this beast.
Ideally, I would like to obtain at least another one of these, or a similar type of ship, but even having one is very useful.

Monday 21 April 2014

Indian Villages

Late last year I started work on making some V&B BUAs for use as Indian settlements. The plan is to use them for both French and Indian War, and AWI, wargames. The first, and most complete, is a large resin lodge from the BUM Huron set. I have added in a skin drying frame from the Imex Friendly Eastern Indians set to add detail to the piece.(click here for PSR's review of the set)

Still needs something more...
My plan so far is to mount Indian forces on the 1.5 inch square V&B skirmish stands, letting each large village/town template take four stands.

Of course each BUA can still take two line stands.

BUA with garrison and removable insert.
 I also decided to use the huts from the Imex Eastern Indian set to make another BUA, and as a result decided to use some resin native grass huts that I had purchased years ago for another project to make up another two.

The Imex huts.
 I believe the resin huts were originally intended for use as African huts for 19th century colonial gaming, but they seem to be passable as Indian dwellings. Of course feel free to tell me if you think they are hopelessly wrong.

The resin huts.
I am still settling into the new job and into Palmerston North, but so far both seem quite nice with plenty of positives. Next week only has three working days - of which all three are training days, so I have plenty to keep myself busy!

Thursday 3 April 2014

Preparing to Move

It has been a very busy time for me since I last made a post.  I have accepted a job in a different part of the country and as a result I am preparing my toys for moving. It does seem to be the season for people to be moving in Christchurch, as Frank is also moving to a different city as well and selling off some of his stash of 1/72 scale kits.

Check out his auctions here. He may also be listing some scenery items so keep an eye on this link.

Friday 21 February 2014

Matchbox Skyhawk WIP.

Seen here with some other aircraft. all are around 1/120ish scale, so close enough for me.
I am finally starting to do some more work on my Matchbox A-4 Skyhawk. It is a rather play worn diecast from the Matchbox Sky Buster range, that had seen a great deal of of use and abuse in my childhood. Curiously enough , the diecast is meant to be a A-4F, but lacks the distinctive fuselage hump of that variant. This works out well as Argentina used A-4Bs and A-4Cs.

The presumably "Sargent Fletcher" droptanks . 
I used my Dremel to cut the wheels off the diecast. Once this is done to a Sky Buster it starts to look less toy like. I had previously replaced the missing clear canopy with some green Stuff. The next step is to use a wire brush attachment on the Dremel to remove the old paint work prior to giving it a new paint job. (Click here for information on paint schemes)

The wire brush removes the paint quite nicely.
So once this is done, and I buy some more grey spraypaint, I will begin painting it and working on building up some more 1/144 scale kits.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Ancient Refurbishments.

Since I have had a degree of success in refurbishing Napoleonic, AWI, and WW2 figures, I decided to give refurbishing ancient figures a go. After all, brown wash is timeless!

One of many boxes of figures.

I obtained from Glenn a vast number of painted 1/72 scale figures - the vast bulk of them from various HaT sets. They were all based on sections of polystyrene. I have wondered if this was to either to protect the figures during gaming, or to make it easier for a child to use?

Figures were removed from the bases and sorted into groups. These are Hat Greek Mercenaries.

A mix of Persian Bow from Hat and Italeri.

I decided to base the figures using the same size stands I use for Volley and Bayonet. This is because I like the way numbers of 20mm figures look on stands of those size.

HaT Thracians, touched up and washed.

Refurbished Zvezda Greeks.

I've put two ranks of figures on a stand.  A Greek phalanx was commonly eight ranks deep.
Of course once I have sorted out these painted figures, I still have vast amounts of unpainted ancients figures to deal with.

HaT Macedonian Phalangites..
 I put this on the bigger base in order to get a better visual effect, and because they were generally sixteen ranks deep.

So far I have been viewing the basing of the figures as being experimental, while I figure out how to get the best visual effect from these figures. The idea is that I will also be able to use these as a teaching aid when teaching Classics. I am still toying with the idea of creating up some formations on a one to one scale.

Hat  Punic Elephants.
And finally some War Elephants. This doubles my holdings of War Elephants, and may spur me towards finishing painting up these ones that have been neglected in favour of other projects. Of course I may yet get more elephants in the meantime.

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Two Dozen Reinforcements.

Recently I purchased online a quantity of cheap plastic tanks of the type often found in sets of plastic toy soldiers.
I purchased six bags like this. 
 Based on the pictures I thought these might be knock offs of the plastic knockoffs of Matchbox Battle Kings. While the Chieftain turret is extremely similar, the hull is quite different. My belief is that these are inspired by the knockoffs, rather than copies of them.

12 Chieftain like tanks, and 12 M-47/48 like tanks.
 Still, these are very useful, although they will require some work to bring them up to standard.

Sorted by colour and markings

Another view.
 Of course having this many means that I can think seriously about making some specialist conversions using some of their hulls. The turrets could then be used for other purposes.

Moving down the line.
Time for some heavy metal scenarios.....