02 December 2013

Excuses, excuses....

Well it's been a long time since I posted - not through lack of interest, merely a lack of time and concentrating on other things.  As much as this is a blog heavily focussed on the Cold War turning hot, my wargaming hobby is not solely focussed on that - but I don't really want to shift the focus of the blog.

My theory is that if you're following the blog, its more likely that you're doing so for the Cold War stuff, rather than my more random hobby activities - so I tend not to put much of that stuff up here.

Let me know if you think that's the right thing to do or if I should just put any old thing up here...?

A few days ago I took this picture of my desk:

This shows a little of the broad range of projects I'm currently working on.  You should be able to find almost a full Battlegroup company of Soviet infantry, several points worth of SAGA Normans, some Cold War terrain in the making, a couple of Leopard 1A1A1s, a Cromwell, some AB British WW2 figures, some Liberation Modern US infantry etc.

Since then some more Normans have been made and even more Soviet infantry added.

So the moveable feast keeps rolling on...

Next time (which will be real soon) I'll actually have some more Cold War tewrrain finished.

Thanks for your patience


13 November 2013

Wargames Soldiers & Strategy Magazine - Issue 69 - Countdown to Doomsday

Through a post on The Guild I learnt that the latest is of the excellent "Wargames Soldiers & Strategy" magazine - that is issue 69, had the theme "Countdown to Dommsday - The conflict that never happened".  I knew it would be several months before I saw it in Australia (if I was lucky enough to stumble across it) so decided to purchase it directly from Karwansaray Publishing.

The magazine arrived in a week from the Netherlands (which I think is excellent) and I read all the "theme" articles overnight.

There are in essense 7 Cold War articles in the magazine, which include an nice introduction to the "period", a brief discussion on Exercise Able Archer, with a kind of scenario set as a result of the Soviets jumping the gun over Able Archer, a matrix game set during the Cuban missile crisis (which I must confess I haven't gotten around to reading yet), an article on soviet weapon and troop capabilities in wargames, a quick look at some Cold War games and how they deal with WMDs, a look at a few of the ranges of 28mm, 20mm, 15mm and 6mm figures available and a modelling article regarding how they did the vignette (28mm) on the front cover.

There are of course a ton of other articles but as these have nothing to do with the them, I'm ignoring them here.

So - is it worth getting?  To that I give a qualified yes.  Yes, because it's really nice to see a decent wargame magazine have my favoured period as a theme.  Generally the closest you get to a 1980's wargame getting a mention is a shot of some Cold War table at a convention off in the distance - so it's great to have not just one, but a number of articles, with good photos etc all in the one mag.

Yes, because the authors know what they are talking about.  One of them is an armour/intel officer who has been there and done that, and provides interesting personal snippets.

Yes, as they are trying to make you think, particularly the article about Soviet weapon and tropp capabilities.

Yes, if you are new to the period and want to get a bit of a taste.

Before I say anything that could be construed as negative - and I don't want to be negative, let me say you can only fit so much in a magazine - I get that.  I think the articles provide a taste, but not quite what I was hoping.  The article on Soviet weapon and troop capabilities asked some good questions and provided a couple of ideas, but didn't push the issue quite as far as I wanted.  I wanted to be convinced by the article that the Soviets really did have good stuff and good quality troops and the idea of needing 30 odd tanks and 12 odd BMPs to crush a platoon of M60s, limited infantry and a couple of ITVs was wrong.  But then the scenario by the same author uses the numbers outlined above so I'm not 100% sure what he was trying to tell me.

I guess overall I'd rate it about 7 out of 10.  I'm glad I got it, I enjoyed reading it, but it didn't really change or add to my current approach to gaming WW3.  If it tempts a few more people into the period, or convinces a few more 20mm manufacturers to add to their ranges - I'll be very happy.



27 October 2013

Scenes from the Cold War - The Supermarket

OK - so I may be wrong, but I think today's update is the first, finished bit of "proper" Cold War scenery or terrain that I have done.  And I'm pretty chuffed with it.

Recently I managed to grab this model quite cheaply:

Obviously I didn't want to use it as a Quickee Supermarket (a little to Simpsons for me) and on Andy's excellent blog Cold War Gamer he had built from scratch (as shown in the link) a fantastic Lidl Supermarket.  He's also a lot more knowledgible about the period than I am - so if Lidl was good enough for Andy - it was good enough for me.  Aldi is the only other German supermarket I'm aware of - and I don't know if their current logo was around in the eighties - another reason to go with Lidl.

I made the kit and then decided to make a base (very unlike me).  The base was made with 2 peices of MDF and I used a couple of different sets of paper products from Small Scale Scenes to do the car park and pavements.

I also finished a peice of my road here to put across the front of the scene.

So onto the photos - first up a pre-war (or exercise) scene:

The photos quite nicely show the trolley rack at the front of the shop.  Sadly the kit came with no trolleys.

Now some shots of a hastily erected Battalion CP - and I imagine it will depart pretty hastily as well...

And now another temporary spot - for a GR.3 Harrier

That's it.  Next up will be some more terrain.

Thanks and have fun


23 October 2013

Kit Review - S-Model's M113A1

A few weeks ago I got my hands on the new S-Models M113A1 box. These were my first S-Models kits and I was keen to see what they were like.

First some general comments. To me the M113 is one of the classic Cold War vehicles. Almost every NATO or Western Army used them in some form or other, and used loads of them. For my planned US force I need at least about 12 of them, and that doesn’t count M-901 ITVs, FIST-Vs or ACAVs. Then there’s my Bundeswehr, Canadians etc etc etc... The list goes on...

I missed out on the whole Airfix M113 thing, they just seemed to disappear – sad, because although they were 1/76, I used to see them for $7 AUD. I still kick myself for not getting some. I’ve always been a fan of the ESCI M113 – which in my mind/eye is pretty close to perfect. But they are getting rarer than Hen’s teeth now as well – or ridiculously expensive. That pretty much leaves Trumpeter in the kit department – which I’d be quite happy with – I just need to pull my finger out and get a couple.

Anyhow – so I very much see the need to cheap, easy build M113s. At MOAB (a wargaming convention/tournament in Sydney) Wartime Miniatures was selling them for $20 a box, which works out to be $10 each for those like me that are hopeless at Maths. A decent price in my book – so I got two boxes (that’s 4 models).

You can find sprue shots elsewhere on the web like here at Henk of Holland

So here’s my thoughts:


• 2 M113’s for $20. Not much more needs to be said than that.

• They stack up very nice size wise to both Esci and Easy Model (see pics below)

• They are a relatively quick build, you don’t have to muck around with individual track links etc. Everything fits spot on.

• It’s a solid M113 – a great little wargaming kit that will not break every time you touch it in a game.

• You can have the commander’s hatch, drivers hatch and rear troop compartment hatch open if you want

• It comes with some PE parts if you are into that sort of thing

• Comes with a decent variety of decals – none of which are that useful for Cold War modellers IMO.


• While the plastic definitely isn’t soft, to me it doesn’t feel as “hard” as most of my other kits.

• The M2HB appears to be too long compared with the other brands. It will be interesting to see how you can fit a commander figure int he hatch, with the massive M2HB.


• The way the sprues are designed kind of annoy me. Where on a ESCI or Revell kit a peice might be held on by 2 connectors to the sprue, on this kit it would be held on by 4. Some of the connections, like on the pintle mount of the M2HB are in very ackward positions to try and clean up, or remove from the sprue. The M2HB firing grips are a separate peice and also very difficult to remove from the sprue without breaking.

• No interior details. Not a particularly bad thing, but if you have the rear troop hatch open, you will need to stuff the opening with troops so you can’t see into the interior.

• The rear ramp and the rear of the vehicle are all one peice. So you can’t build it with the ramp lowered. Not that there is any interior detail so this doesn’t really matter.

• The instructions are a bit hazy at times. The very first step shown will simply not work – but is easily resolved.


So – my final opinion. If you need some basic M113s to fill out the troop carrier slots in your force – these are great. I’ll certainly be getting some more at some point. With some stowage and other bits and bobs, they will fit well into my ESCI/Easy Model mix.

If you want to build this with the rear ramp open, so you can see some interior detail, look to ESCI or Trumpeter instead.

My plan is to do just that – hopefully you be able to see that, and how all my M113s fit together over the next few months.

Here some comparison photos of unfinished (as in not painted) M113A1s:

Top View: from L to R - Easy Model, S-Model, ESCI

Front View: from L to R - as above

Rear View: from L to R - as above

Side View 1: from L to R: S-Model, ESCI

Side View 2: from L to R - Easy Model, ESCI

So you can see how well they go together.



14 October 2013

Book Review: The Black Effect by Harvey Black

Late last week my copy of Harvey Black’s latest Cold War novel “The Black Effect” arrived in the post from Amazon UK. I was of course rather chuffed and keen to get into it, having waited a couple of weeks for the book to arrive.

So what can I say about "The Black Effect". First up – if you’re reading this blog you are probably interested in the Cold War. If you’re interested in the Cold War, you’ll probably enjoy reading decent Cold War fiction. Currently the stocks of good Cold War fiction are running pretty low – with the Cold War being dead and buried for 20+ odd years now. So if all this lines up for you, buy the book. If you haven’t read “The Red Effect” yet, buy that book too!

"The Black Effect" kicks of directly after "The Red Effect" – it is essentially focused on a series of battles between British Army on the Rhine forces versus their Soviet 3rd Shock Army counterparts. Other parts of the battle for West Germany (and Denmark) are covered – either as parts of briefings or in little snippets following minor, minor characters. A sub v sub battle, some American ops and even a little bit of politics are covered, which give the story good background. Key people from Book 1 are followed up, and I was interested to see what happened to them.

Without wanting to give too much away, numerous elements of 1980s conventional warfare are covered and some of my concerns towards the end of the first book and dealt with in detail in the second book, including air and helicopter warfare, NATO artillery and counter-battery, air defence etc. New things like air assaults, contested river crossings and chemical warfare are also covered well. I felt this was all treated in an excellent and extremely realistic fashion – as is everything else in the book.

Mr Black is basically even in his coverage of the British and Soviet forces – and this is enjoyable as well. No one acts particularly stupidly and neither does a series of particularly hard to believe things happen to make one character a real hero – it’s all very “real” and bad things can happen to anyone.

From a wargaming point of view the book is excellent. Interestingly, and again this comes out in the first book, in my mind it shows you can wargame the Cold War in scales larger than 6mm. Many of the actions involve reinforced NATO platoons, fighting as part of a bigger action, but basically on their own as the other units in the action have their own problems to deal with. Mixed Combat Teams, with some infantry, supported by a troop of tanks (or less) with a couple of Milans, a Sustained Fire GPMG, and maybe a couple of mortars, is a force that is very easy to put on a table. Of course you need a fair amount of Soviets – but there are more and more options becoming available in that area.

I think a wargamer will take a lot away from this book – I know I have, and it is affecting what I am planning right now.

I have nothing really negative to say about "The Black Effect" – I guess if I was digging I'd have to say I'd like better maps please... anything else is just being pedantic and not sincere – as I sincerely enjoyed reading it and it gave strength to my Cold War Hot Hot Hot frame of mind.

I do have one question though.  My reading seems to suggest that the Carl Gustav 84mm MAW was a section level weapon in the BAOR in 1984 (the time setting of the book) - but there is no mention of it.  I'm wondering if my understanding is incorrect.
Anyway - bring on “The Blue Effect”.



07 October 2013


Well - that was an interesting week - off in Google deleted me land.

I have no idea why - I'm just very happy to have my blog with all my work for the last 4 years back.

Thanks to those of you who asked after the blog - it was very much appreciated.

Take care and back to normal transmissions shortly


29 September 2013

Creating a World War Two Urban Tabletop - Part 2

Its ben a long time - but finally I can post up Part 2 of this work-in-progress.

Part of the reason this took so long is because I got kind-of stuffed around by the original supplier of the wash I wanted to use on the table top.  When I finally gave up (after a few months waiting) I simply ordered it directly from the UK and it was in OZ like 4 days later.  Unbeleivable.

Anyway, soit looks like I totally forgot to take a photo of the painted table top before I splashed on the wash.  I got some Army Painter Uniform Grey spray paint and used that as the base colour.  Then I used a Citadel Black (from a height as Jamie Oliver would say) in some odd spots and another really old Citadel Space Wolves Grey spray to lighten a few random spots.

Then I waited six months, as you do....

Then I got a gloss varnish and sprayed both the boards with that - so the wash wouldn't simply soak through the spray paint into the faux vinyl.

Then I got this product:

from Flory Models in the UK.  To help it flow into the faux cobblestones I added a tiny amount of dish washing detergent.

Paint over the whole table top, it then looked like this:

Once it was completed dry, I got a kitchen paper towel and dampened it slightly.  Then I started to rub off the wash - hopefully leaving only the dirt in between the faux cobblestones.  This took a fair amount of effort and time.  The end result looks like this:

I've added a Marder to this photo for some scale:

Pulling out a bit:

And a bit more:

One panel with some houses etc:

Both panels together (naked) create a 4' x 4' table (I think):

Now I need to start working on rubble!



19 September 2013

New West Germans - Group Shots

Quite update...

Really just wanted to post up a few group shots of my newly completed West Germans.  Nothing you haven't really seen before, just altogether - except for 1 Kraka that I forgot to put in the photo...

Anyway - without further ado:

That's it.  Next up - back to my urban terrain boards... finally!



17 September 2013

I've gone crackers for Krakas!

Sorry - appalling title but I couldn't resist!

Carrying on the West German theme - from last week, I've also managed to finish off some great little S&S Models Krakas.  Perfect for West German Paratroopers S&S Models (which now has a brand new web store) has a range of about 5 different Krakas.  A standard utility, a version armed with a 20mm AA gun, another with a Milan ATGM, yet another with a TOW ATGM and finally a variant carrying a 120mm mortar.

You can find out more about the Kraka here and here and some walk around photos here.  Unfortunately all three sites are in German but you'll get the picture.

The Kraka was replaced by the Weisel, but in my Cold war universe - the Kraka is still king - well - a very little dwarf king maybe.

So here are my pics:

First up the basic Kraka:

Of course I can always add some stowage - but I've been thinking of a system of different stowage loads that I could use - at some point in the future.  The driver comes with the Kraka.

Here is the variant armed with a Rh202 20mm AA gun:

I like this one alot!  I actually converted an Elhiem Soviet figure (with a head swap) to act as the gunner.

Next up a Milan ATGM armed Kraka:

To make this one a tiny bit different I used a Revell Milan launcher with no missile attached.

Finally I decided to make a diorama with my last Kraka:

Again the crew are Elhiem figures.  The Loader is a standard Elhiem Milan loader, however, that is a kneeling down figure which had to be added to a standing pair of legs.  The Gunner is a walking figure carrying a G3.  The G3 was removed and his head popped off and twisted to show him firing.  The Milan is a Liberation Miniatures milan.

That's it.  I'm quite chuffed with my Krakas and know that deep down, I'll need a few more!

Thanks and have fun


12 September 2013

More West German Infantry

Well - here we are again...  This time I thought I'd show you some of my recently (like 2 days ago) completed West German Infantry.

Before I jump into it, I first have to say that the "new" Elhiem West German Infantry are simply some of the best miniatures I've ever had the pleasure to paint.  The poses are all excellent, very natural, well studied, with great attention to anatomy, weapons, uniforms etc.  I simply love these figures and can't wait for Matt at Elhiem to add to the West German line - to match his excellent BAOR range.

Anyway - that's enough waffling from me - onto the photos - in no particular order:

The first 2 shots give you an overview of the Elhiem BW03 MG3 range.

These 2 photos show the Elhiem BW04 set of infantry armed with Pzf 44.  I particularly like how they are still carrying their G3s.

This photo is what I'm calling Officers and NCOs.  The chaps pointing actually come from the BW02 and NAT02 rifleman sets while the chap kneeling down looking though bino's comes from the BW05 Milan ATGM team set.  I'm using the pointers as NCOs, with one of the bino chaps as a Platoon officer (until a proper one comes out) and the other as part of a FOO team.

These 2 shots show a variety of things - from the left - a RTO - basically a standard rifleman from BW02 with a greenstuff radio backpack added by me.  Next are 2 Carl Gustav gunners from BW04.  The final chap is an old Elhiem figure firing a Redeye SAM.  He is out of production - but I'm assuming Matt is planning a better version of him some time in the future.

Next are my new Milan ATGM teams.  Elhiem's BW05 gives you 3 figures & the Milan.  I only used 2 on each base - the gunner (Missiler?) plus either a loader or an observer - just to misx it up a bit.  This also meant I was able to use as Revell Milan gunner and Milan and one of the observer figures to stretch it to another team - so I was pretty chuffed with that.

These are all the standard Riflemen that come from BW01, BW02, NAT01 and NAT02.  I decided to get one pack each of the NAT01 and NAT02 so I could have a little more variety - basically they come with plain helmets.

Finally to complete a particular section I had half done a year or so ago, I needed a couple more Liberation Miniatures to be finished.  I know the Panzerfaust 3 on the right is past my time period - but I'll be using it as a Pzf 44 instead.

So that's all my new West German infantry. 

More West German goodness to follow soon.