Monday 31 January 2011

Whistable Royal Native Oysters

Royal Native Oyster Stores on the sea wall. It is a sea food restaurant now and you can still get native oysters from the offshore fisheries. These were very popular with the Romans.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Defending Dear Old Blighty - Dad's Army

Among the crack military units of Southern England in World War II, one name stands out, eclipsing all others, the Warmington-on-Sea Platoon of the Home Guard, otherwise known as Dad's Army.

The front row, from left to right:
Private 'can I be excused' Godfrey, the first aid man
Private Frank 'can I shoot him Mr Mainwearing' Pyke, aka the Stupid Boy
Sgt Uncle Arthur 'do you think that's wise sir' Wilson, who lodges with Mrs Pyke and is like a father to Frank. Very like a father.
Captain 'I wondered who would spot that first' Mainwearing (pronounced man-er-ing), the leader of this band of brothers
Corporal 'they don't like it up them' Jones, old soldier from fighting the fuzzy-wuzzies with Lord Kitchener and inventer of secret weapons
Private 'want to buy some nylons' Walker
Private 'we're all doomed, doomed I tell you, Fraser, late of the Royal Navy

Corporal Jones' section is motorised. Captain Mannering is a great fan of motorisation, structuring his platoon on the model of a crack panzer division.

Private Sponge's Section is also motorised, or at least wheelised. The mysterious lady with the pistol in her front basket is called Miss Moneypenny. She works for something called The Commission. But she is not a witch.

The Enemy I: The Westgate Platoon
Led by Captain Square (centre front) and his sergeant, who is also his butler (kneeling front). Captain Square has used his Old School Tie connections to get his hands on a Vicker's Gun and a Lewis Gun.

Crack Home Guard Signals Unit.
"Hello, Hello, HQ?"
"Yes, what do you want?"
"I have no change. Can I reverse the charges?"

The Enemy II: The civilians of Warmington-on-Sea.
From left to right:
Old man Bluet
Local Bobby
Mr 'put that light out' Hodges, the greengrocer and air raid warden.
The Vicar
Mr 'the vicar isn't going to like this' Yates, the Churchwarden
Mrs Fox, who has an understanding with Corporal Jones

The Opposition: The crew of a shot down reconnaissance plane attempt to escape with vital film. They are helped by a sinister nun with an adams apple and five o'clock shadow.

Major Jameson of the Commission spots an evil daemon and attempts an exorcism. If the magically charged cross fails he still has a supernatural weapon, known to the wizards of old as a Tommy Gun.

But it doesn't stop the evil Wabbit-daemon.

Cushing's view

The seat on the sea wall here at Whitstable is a memorial to the celebrated actor, and wargamer, Peter Cushing, who used to sit here in retirement, looking out over the English Channel.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Badab War - Blood in the Void

Blood in the Void is the space boarding game in Imperial Armour Volume 9. Shaun and I played the Force The Breach scenario, with three objectives.

Shaun set up this amazing battle board representing a shuttle bay on an Imperial Cruiser. A space battle is underway and a Badab assault shuttle makes it through ther Imperial cruiser's point defences to drop a Tyrant's Legion assault team into the shuttle bay.

I pushed in with an an Astral Claws Cohort and Legion auxilia on the right flank. The Cohort were amazing. They destroyed an Imperial termator squad and a techmarine, and captured an objective. Then I made my big error. The Cohort held the objective while the Auxilia pushed on to the second objective held by Naval Armsmen. It should have been the other way round. The Auxilia charged the Armsmen who slaughtered them. Sigh!

On the left the Astral Claws Warden and Retaliators, backed by armoured Heretek Renegades with meltas, traded shots with a second terminator squad, while pushing on to the third objective, held by Armsmen.

During the course of the battle, two lance hits smashed through the bay, without inflicting casualties. However they must have damaged something because all the lights went out soon afterwards. I ran for the third objective but never made it before the recall.

So Shaun won, two objectives to one.

This pics show the position at the end of the game (variable game length).

I have to say that the superb 'terrain' really made the game. Shaun has some amazing stuff. Just look at that assault shuttle.

Wednesday 26 January 2011

Swale Creek Marshes

Swale Creek seperates the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland of North Kent in the Medway Estuary. Sheppey is the last island in Kent, despite the rising water levels, because of extensive drainage and land reclaimation. Swale Creek is heavily canalised and the marshes are part of the semi-reclaimed land behind the sea walls.

This is the famous Saxon Shore, named after the Count of the Saxon Shore, comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam, in the Notitia Dignitatum. It used to be assumed that the Saxon Shore meant the shore attacked and settled by the Saxons, but it is possible the 'the Saxons' referred to the Roman Army units in the region. Note that it is high tide; the tidal range in the UK is enormous.
The old ferry house at Harty Ferry, which was a small chain driven passenger ferry from Oare to Sheppy. There is still an inn on the island side.

Midday in southern England in January. The thing about an English winter is not the temperature, it is about as cold as North Carolina, but the light. This pic is taken at about 51N so the sun arcs across a low sky in winter.

The Count on the Burschengenfurten

Meant to put this up yesterday.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Things That Go Bump on the Eastern Front

From Warlord Games, the Romanian SS officer.

I forgot to brush him down before taking the pics - woops. Bloody static grass sticks like, er, static.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Into the Hinterland

David Drake, one of the finest exponents of military SF - if you have not read his Hammers Slammers series then where have you been? - has a piece up on his website about my next novel, Into the Hinterland, that he conceived and planned.

You can find it here:

I repeat the quote below. Novel writing usually follows the path of: (i) an idea and research, (ii) character construction, (iii) a plan, and(iv) execution, i.e. writing it.

On Into the Hinterland, Dave undertook i, ii, and iii, while I did the execution. Dave prepares very detailed plans and it is a privalege for an obscure author, such as myself, to be chosen to write one of his stories. The novel is in the final stages of completion.

Anyway, Dave's comment's below.

Due out from Baen Books September 2011

Into the Hinterlands is a space opera built around cultural situations very similar to those obtaining during the youth of George Washington. John Lambshead developed the plot from my outline with a great deal of interchange between us.

The odd thing about Hinterlands is that while it’s a space opera with a plot as intricate as that of, say, Northworld, it’s also hard SF. I hadn’t expected, let alone intended, that to be the case, but John is a world-class molecular biologist. That became implicit in the work.

Some readers may expect hard SF to be boring. I understand that concern, but books I plot are not boring. That’s true in spades of Hinterlands.

The book exists because Jim Baen’s enthusiasm for George Washington drove me to learn more about the man. I didn’t always wind up agreeing with Jim, but I did this time. The more I learned about Washington, the more amazing Washington became–and the more interested in him I became.

More to the point, I became increasingly convinced that there was a heck of an SF story to be built from Washington’s life. Into the Hinterlands proves that I was right.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Hell on the Eastern Front

In this case. literaly, Hell on the Eastern Front. West Wind wierd WWII German 28 mm zombie squad. You knew the Nazis were evil.......well........

I have a few more to paint, to make up two sections with officers.

Wait 'till Capn Mainwearing sees this lot.

I am considereing setting my next Commission novel on the frozen hell of the Moscow region of the Eastern Front in 1941.

My writing and wargaming tend to bleed into each other - creatively speaking, of course.

PS, I used the Army Painter strong dip on these figures, like my WF zombies, and then too the sheen off with Vallejo matt spray. One huge advantage of a varnish drip is that it protects the paint with a really hard finish. I find chipping a real headache on metal figures as i use my models for wargaming. Delicate artwork is fine on display models, but......

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Recession Bights

The Wargames Factory affair is turning into a Motorway pile up, no winners and lots of flaming wreckage.

The ousted Tony Reidy has posted a very angry open letter on The Miniatures Page, which has been repeated in various forums. You can read it here:

Meanwhile, George Sivy, Managing Director, Wargames Factory has put up his own notice here:

It is worth reading as it invites people to write in for refunds or deliveries; apparently the records have gone missing with the change in management. Trying to sort out the management mess is a good step, essential to restore confidence if WF is to survive. Less impressive are threats of court action against people who, in the opinion of WF, make defamatory statements against WF or its agents: see below for quote.

"WEB POSTINGS AND FORUM ALLEGATIONS There is much misinformation as well as some serious allegations being circulated throughout cyberspace regarding the current state of affairs. As the new corporate manager of Wargames Factory, at the appropriate time, I will address all of the false and inaccurate statements and allegations that are being posted on the Wargames Factory website. There are more important and pressing operational matters to deal with right now without getting distracted or involved in a “mudslinging match” with previous management. Defamatory statements made about any individuals will be taken up with legal counsel and dealt with to the fullest extent allowed by law. "

That's a toothless threat, certainly to people who live outside of the USA or China. The wargaming community is so small that the people on these forums are also your customers guys.

I have freelanced in wargaming for more than thirty years. Wargaming has always been a cottage industry run by enthusiasts with minimal business sense who are woefully under-capitalised, selling to a tiny customer base that has fashion fads. The inevitable result is constant collapse. GW is a little unusual in its size, possibly bigger than all the other wargame companies put together, and the fact that it is really a toy company selling largely to kids through its own retail outlets, but even so it is a minnow in the corporate world.

There is another rumoured bankruptcy - Bastion, who make the Ex illis game. They had reinvented the idea of a mixed computer-miniatures game. This has been touted as original, but it isn't. The idea of using digital resolution of miniature and board games goes right back. I wtote an Apple II program for resolving fire of one of WRG's WWII grulesets back in the 70s. I never used it because (i) it took loner to resolve than rolling a dice and consulting a tableby the time you inputted the iformation (ii) the Apple and the wargame were never in the same room, and (iii) rolling dice was much more fun than pressing a button.

This concept has been reinvented constantly, e.g. DVD family board games, and it always fails.

Funnily enough, WF and Bastian are rumoured to share the same Chinese manufacturer, Ghost Studios. At this rate, they will own vast chunks of the independent wargames industry, all of it loss making. Best of British, chaps.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Badab Shuttle

Badab light shuttle, used to transport personelle and supplies around the complex Badab system defenses. These are made locally in large numbers so, inevitably, some fall into 'private hands', as has this example.

The shuttles have excelent navigation systems to safely move through the defense zones. The navigation module can be seen clearly on the dorsal fin in this photo of a shuttle lifting off through atmosphere.

Badab shuttle on hard stand, above and below. They are normally unarmed but this private example has been fitted with twin-linked 40mm autocannon on the control module's roof. These would be triggered to spray the landing zone with suppression fire in an assault. The shuttle has no targeting avionics.

Rear view showing the two turbofans for atmospheric flight and the five ion drives for system transit.

The control module, showing the nose art. This shuttle was used by a heretek renegade band in the Tyrant's employ; they apparently christened it Nighthawk. The control module is disconnected from the cargo hull so the single crewman cannot get at the cargo or visa versa. This is unfortunate for any passengers if the pilot is put out of action. Passengers disembark via a hatch under the front hull.

Saturday 15 January 2011

M'learned Friends

GW have reportedly started an IP infingement suit against Chapterhouse Studios who have been advertising resin upgrades for GW kits. I suspect GW will win as the CS website uses actual names from the IP. I suppose you can sell an upgrade for a Tamiya Tiger Tank because Tiger Tank is not Tamiya's IP. You can sell an upgrade for an armoured 28mm space warrior - but not a Space Marine? Hell, but I'm not a lawyer.

Wargames Factory, who make the plastic 28mm wargaming models including zombies and shock troops (not Krieg, you notice) appear to have gone under. WF made nice models but there were complaints about delivery and customer service. The North American rep for Ghost Studios, the Chinese toy manufacturer that made the models, became the manager of WF some time ago. Now it appears the original owners and creators of the company have become corporate non-persons. Lots of rumours but no hard facts all over the net. If you have ordered direct from WF you might want to consider your exposure.

On a better note, Tamiya's excellent spray paints are backin the shops, hopefully without the heavy metals.

The wonderful artwork is from:

Thursday 13 January 2011

Badab Fleet Eagle

The Badab Fleet two-seat Eagle Fighter is equipped like a Lightning with twin linked lascannon and an autocannon on an AA mount. This example is from 89 Squadron. Note the personalised nose art.

A computer generated image showing the Astral Claws Insignia on the fins. The autocannon is a replacable mission package on a hard point.

Eagle making a fast low level pass.

Eagle on a ground launch stand.

Eagle in flight, above and below.

Note the twin rocket boosted turbofan engines for atmospheric flight, and the three ion drives for low orbit transit. The twin communication crystals on the upper hulls are shown in this photo.

Front view showing the targetting avionics on the long barreled autocannon, and the twin lascannon..

Tuesday 11 January 2011

Bada Tyrant's Legion - Hellhound

I kitbashed this from an old Chimera bought on eBay. There are Old GW, Airfix Robogear, and a remote controlled model boat life raft bits added. The paint job is Wermacht early 1942. The German army had a scare from the superb Russian tanks and hastily painted lines over their Panzer Grey tanks to blend them in a bit. They used various colours, whatever was to hand, including brick-red.