Monday 27 January 2014

Bolt Action: Bolshevik Reinforced Platoon

Here is my completed Bolshevik reinforced platoon for Bolt Action, which comes in at about 750 points.

Regular Military Specialist (Tsarist Major), Inexperienced Lady Bolshevik and Commissar: centre front.

Infantry Sections
Two inexperienced conscript rifle sections (shirkers): left rear.
Regular Trotsky's Red Guards: front left.
two sections of Regular Petrograd sailors: right front.

Inexperienced half track armoured car with maxim gun and Renault FT 17 slow, light tank with light low-penetration anti-tank gun: rear right.

Fire Support
Regular field gun plus maxim gun team: right.

The above pic was taken with a three second exposure with the tripod on a wooden suspended floor. The one below is Nikon built in flash.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Petrograd Sailor Revolutionaries

The Russian Revolution started in the spring of 1917 while Lenin was in exile and the sailors in Petrograd were one of the key movers. Afterwards they provided reliable regular soldiers for the Red Revolution.

Three years later they revolted again in the Kronstadt Rebellion, against the Bolsheviks and in support of democratic socialism. They were crushed by Trotsky's Red Army. Some of the sailors managed to escape across the ice to Finland but many died or were massacred after surrendering.

Apologists for the Soviet Union like to suggest that Stalin was the problem and that if Lenin had lived longer or Trotsky had succeeded then the Russian Revolution might have produced a workable socialist state. The Petrograd sailors show this as nonsense. The pattern of repression and brutality was integral to the Bolshevik philosophy. If not Stalin then someone similar would have replaced him.

The sailors were crushed by Trotsky on Lenin's orders for - demanding socialism.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Games Workshop New Management

Picture source

Sorry I keep resolving to stop posting about GW but then I come across things like this on the internet and my resolve crumbles.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Red Gun Wagon

Really pleased with this one: a scratch built Red gun waggon.

It was mad from a Lesney diecast 1:48 1927 Fowler Steam waggon. these are readily available on Ebay for modest money. I lowered the steering wheel and fitted a Warlord Games French Tank commander as a driver.

The gun mounting is made from Leman Russ sponsons and the gun is a Plastic Soldier Soviet 76mm field gun with a plasticard shield. The ammo box on the back is from a Leman Russ turret.

I sprayed the waggon with cellulose primer to blend the different materials and added the crew from the Great War late German range.

It is painted with Humbrol and dirtied with Citadel washes and textured paint.

I will probably use it for my Chatham Soviet army but it will work for any Red force.

A real Freikorps gun waggon.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Jolly Good Chap

I have had this Copplestone British Officer in tropical dress knocking around in my unpainted box (well trunk really) for years. The receipt of a Roller as an Xmas present from my beloved family gave me the spur to finally paint him.

I think you'll agrre that he looks a Jolly Good Chap.

Monday 20 January 2014

The Most Difficult Job In The World: GW customer experience reimaginer

Games Workshop is looking for a Customer Experience manager:

' to completely re-imagine what it is like for people coming into our stores, engaging with and buying our wonderful miniatures'

So if you're bored with the easy stuff like climbing Everest, inventing a faster-than-light drive or being the PR director for a bank then try something really challenging.

Buildings in 28 mm

I have been assembling some new buildings for my 28 ml armies.

First up a resin model of a traditrional timber framed two story house from Frontline in resin. Excellent model, very detailed and of a good size. It paints really well.

Next an Anglo-Danish Dark Age 'wooden' hovel from 4Ground that I will use both for Saga and for a Russian peasant hovel.

Again, very nice model.

Price wise, nothing to choose between them.

Comparing the advantages of the two:

Frontline: Detailed. Unpainted so you can choose your own scheme.
4Ground: Light, tough and easy to store. Painted so you don't have to.

My recommendation:
4Ground for fast production of useful, very functional, decent looking wargame scenery.
Frontline for model making, dioramas etc.

As the old saying goes: you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Friday 17 January 2014

GW - What's Gone Wrong - A Personal View

GW Hammersmith at Grand Reopening in 1987 (photo from Level 2 Blog).

I have to make a confession. My association with GW as a customer and supplier of articles goes back to the Livingstone & Jackson days when it was a single RPG and boardgame shop in Hammersmith. My relationship has waxed and waned over the years but has been fundamentally unchanged until recently.

I am afraid my attitude has hardened in the last few years after a series of recent bruising encounters when I felt some company representatives showed contempt for me as a writer. OK, maybe I can be a bit precious but that's not unknown amongst creatives. :)

Nevertheless, I liked their product and continued as a customer. But you know, I have bought virtually nothing from GW in the last year. So why is that?

The bottom line is that they have failed to produce products that excite my interest. They've fired all the creative people that produced the stuff that excited me. The key turning point for me was when they dumped Rick Priestly, a games designer I have always admired. He was the person that made it all possible, the bedrock of the company's success.

The continuous way above inflation price rises are a factor by making me reluctant to take a risk on unknown product. This is especially true of the rule book costs: £50 every time they decide to tweak the rules plus £35 for every army plus every allied unit. Two year cycles for rechurning of the rules and codexes, oh come on guys!

But I reiterate, the cost is not the key factor. I am an impulsive model buyer. I have bought Forge World titans, for God's sake. Fire my enthusiasm and my wallet drains when it comes to shiny toy soldiers.

As a general point, it is difficult to see who is their customer base these days. They have dumped the kids upon whom their growth had been based. Saving money by firing most of the retail staff means that there is no one to teach each new crop the games. The turnover rate among the kids is huge. This will be a major customer base just wiped out in a couple of years.

This is a massive change to a successful business model.

So who will replace the kids, adult wargamers? Hardly!

GW have regarded the rise of social media as a threat not an opportunity with increasing mad IP-protection attacks on their adult customers online. Witness the Space Marine debacle with Amazon and the failed Chapterhouse court case that resulted in their lawyer leaving the company. Then add the astonishing closure of GW's Twitter and Facebook sites because of the hostility the company has generated online.

Indeed, apparently GW now thinks that their customer base are toy soldier collectors.


Collectors buy diecast models and rarely take them out of the boxes. Model-makers buy a handful of one off sophisticated kits a year. Only wargamers buy boxes of toy soldiers to fill out armies.

Oh well, wargaming can survive a GW implosion should it happen but it will be a sad day.

Thursday 16 January 2014

GW 6-Monthly Report Triggers Share Fall

The following is from the GW six monthly report.

Revenue and Profits Down

Six months to
 1 December 2 December
 2013 2012

Revenue £60.5m £67.5m
Revenue at constant currency* £59.8m £67.5m
Operating profit pre-royalties receivable £6.6m £10.6m
Royalties receivable £1.0m £0.4m
Operating profit £7.7m £11.0m
Pre-tax profit £7.7m £11.1m
Cash generated from operations £8.9m £12.0m
Basic earnings per share 17.7p 25.6p
Dividend per share declared in the period - 18p

Breakdown by Region

Six months to 
1 December 2013 
Six months to 
2 December 2012 
UK 13.7 15.6 
Continental Europe 16.9 19.6 
North America 15.6 18.1 
Australia 4.6 5.6 
Export 0.8 0.8 
Asia 0.9 1.1 
All other sales businesses 7.3 6.7

First half performance 
Sales in the first half of the year were down against the comparable period in the prior year, continuing 
the trend that developed in the second half of 2012/13. During the first half, the rapid transition from 
multi-man stores to one-man stores and the reduction of trading hours across the Group caused 
disruption in our retail chain. We also experienced some decline in sales through independent 
We view these as short-term issues and expect to see growth return in both channels. We continue 
with our store opening programme (27 stores opened, 20 closed in the period) secure in the 
knowledge that our one man model allows us to ensure new openings are profitable. In the future we 
expect to benefit from the more focussed selling operation across all channels against the background 
of a materially lower cost base. 

Interesting sentence:

Trade sales will be consolidated into a global business, operating from Lenton, Nottingham.

So the retrenchment continues. The markets were not impressed. The company lost a quarter of its value in a day.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Warlord Games Book Sale

Warlord have a January sale on all their own-brand rule books and supplements (Bolt Action not included as it is Osprey) including this wonder Hail Caeser supplement written by, coughs with phoney modesty, me. :)

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Trotsky's Armoured Red Guard

I am still plugging away at my Bolt Action Bolsheviks using Copplestone Castings for the figs. The Bolos (c. British Army) are mostly inexperienced so you need a lot of figures. This lot, Trotsky's Red Guard allocated to armoured trains,  are classed as regulars.

I have kept to rifles as a weapon as I reckon the Bolos would be short of lewis guns. The Tzar's army certainly had them but I'm not sure the average Bolo force was up to maintaining them.

Next up some Petrograd sailors and cavalry and I am finished.

I have taken two pics using the two sorts of natural light available to N Europeans at this time of year, low diffused shadow or bright direct on the horizon. Take your pick.

Monday 13 January 2014

4Ground: Damaged Mid-Terraced House

I was given a voucher for the Rochester Wargame Centre as a present this Xmas and used it to buy a prepainted 4Ground 28 ml lasercut kit for a Damaged Mid-Terraced House.

The above pic shows the assembled model. It is straight out of the box apart from some Tamiya 'concrete' textured paint on the sides in case I want to use it as a stand alone terrain feature.

The kit comes apart to place 28 mm models inside and is beautifully detailed.

I really like these laser cut kits. They are more expensive than resin but they are light, rigid, do not shatter if you drop them and are prepainted.

I used standard white glue to stick it together.

Great stuff.

Friday 10 January 2014

Games Workshop News Rumours: White Dwarf

White Dwarf is to be closed or restructured, depending on what dialect of corporate speak you use. The monthly magazine that has been with us since the seventies is no more. The Tyranid edition is the last.

What you will get instead are two magazines.

The new White Dwarf will according to the internet rumour mill will be:

"32 pages of whats new and exciting in the hobby this week, new releases and other news. There will also be new features that will include hobby oriented material, like techniques for painting and modelling, and new rules, and new authors"

and will sell for £2.40.

In addition, addicts will be able to buy a new and larger monthly, Warhammer: Visions, of which the ipad version is available right now  on subscription from the GW site for an annual fee of £45.

Difficult to know what to make of all this. Presumably there is some master strategic business plan that links (i) one man shops, (ii) ditching White Dwarf, (iii) ditching all but three games, (iv) dumping their brand lawyer after a series of embarrassing retreats and (v) closing the studio down but I'm damned if I can see it.

They couldn't possibly be just making it up as they go along - could they?

While on the subject of gossip, Warhammer Fantasy Battles appears to be in deep doggy-do with falling sales. It has never been as good a brand as 40K but I have seen suggestions that sales are down below 10% of GW turnover, possibly because The Hobbit is eating its lunch.

I know there have been recent attempts to push the game but the gossip factory is now suggesting that a new version is to be shelved at least for the immediate future.

Anyway, apparently there is to be a retail managers meeting soon in the UK to whip the sales staff, poor bastards.

Tootle pip.

Thursday 9 January 2014

The Red Flag

For the special interest of Comrade Rick of the Nottingham anarcho-syndicalist front - I give you carriers of the workers' battle flags, including the elite Trotsky Armoured Red Guards in the nifty red leather tights.

"Power to the People"

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Yet More Bolsheviks

This strange shining yellow ball appeared low on the horizon to te south today so I took the opportunity to take a photo of my latest paint jobs.

Two more Bolshevik Characters dressed in colourful Tzarist military uniforms - the previous owners have no further use for them.

Minitaures as always from the 28mm Copplestone Back of Beyond Range.

Monday 6 January 2014


Finished some Bolshevik character figures for my Bolt Action Red Army, figures from Copplestone Castings.

From left to right:

Commisar Spart
Comrade Colonel Skunksy
Agitator Trump
Agitator Nina

All they need now are some troops.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Bolt Action: Freikorps Reinforced Platoon

I have finished my Freikorps army. Most of the models are Great War Miniatures with aditional material from Copplestone Castings or scratchbuilt. Well, almost finshed as no army is truly finished until I sell it. I may yet add a maxim gun and possibly more armour :) .

I use the German Army Bolt Action Sourcebook. The Acting Up rule still applies as the Freikorps were over equipped with officers and NCOs already acting down but not the Hitler's Buzz Saw rules.

The Freikorps were commonly recruited from WWI veterans, especially Stormtroopers, so are classed as regular or veteran.

I must apologise for the poor pics. The weather in Kent is somewhat unclement for outside photography.

The Commanders (361 points):

1) Major Von Clump (veteran) plus two escorts.
2) Baron Flieger, flying ace, (counts as regular leutnant) plus two escorts.
3) Feldwebel Muller (forward observation).

The Freikorps were well supported by off-table artillery including armoured trains.

Infantry Squads (372 points):

All infantry squads are equipped with rifles, a light machine gun, and copious grenades. They are tank hunters.

1) Veteran Section.

 2) Regular Section

3) Regular Section

Experten (115 points):

1) Flamethrower Team, Regular
2) Mortar Team, Regular
3) Anti-tank Rifle Team, Regular

Vehicles (280 points):

1) Self Propelled Gun: veteran, light howitzer firing into rear arc, unarmoured (80 points).
2) Light Armoured Car: regular, open topped, LMG firing into front arc, armour 7+ (65 points).
2) Heavy Armoured Car: regular, light howitzer firing into rear and side arcs, three MMGs, armour 7+ (135 points)

Wednesday 1 January 2014

London 2300 (or so)

The Star Trek view of a future London.

Meanwhile, this winter in the real world, C3PO is spotted fishing off the North Kent coast at the site of the Roman fort at Reculver.