Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Base for plastic soldier - Part 2

Haven chosen my bases - Supabases MDF 50mm x 25mm - I decided to get down to trying one out to see what they looked like. The Armies in Plastic soldiers have a slightly bumpy textured base and I wanted to incorporate this, or at least hide it if I couldn't replicate the design.

I super glued the soldier to the MDF base and then roughly daubed on some Polyfilla onto the base, covering the original AiP base...

Looking at this it seems a little big, but I have to remember that this particular soldier is mounted on one of the medium sized AiP bases, some have a larger foot print. I also placed this soldier off center as I didn't want his rife sticking out to much.

I will now paint the base - and change the green to my final choice of orange as the contrasting colour - and this Burkish Marine Infantryman will be complete.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Supabases from 15mm.co.uk

Having tested out my painting for 54mm plastic figures I have been searching the web for some suitable bases. I like the idea of a uniform base and wanted something rectangular that would fit my Armies in Plastic soldiers.

Well I seem to have found exactly what I am looking for over at 15mm.co.uk, they sell a range of MDF bases of a variety of sizes including a bag of 50mm x 25mm ones which are ideal for me.

I measured up the bases of the Armies in Plastic, which are a random variety of sizes to suit the figures stances and the result was variety of dimentions that, at their biggest, fitted within the 50mm x 25mm size (or 2 inches by one inch if you prefer).

You get 36 bases in the pack for £3.95 and while I suppose you could make these yourself cheaper by buying and cutting up a MDF sheet - can you really be bothered? (I can't!)

I am going to stick the soldiers to the MDF bases and then use Pollyfilla to make an undulating textured surface to match the AiP bases. They should look very neat when I'm finished - we shall see!

Link: 15mm.co.uk - Supabases MDF Bases

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

FLW - Poor man's 4.7 Naval Gun Part 5

Dispatch from the Burkish Ministry of War: Today representatives of the Burkish General Staff visited the armament works of Ware-Armatage in England to oversee the progress of the very latest heavy artillery to be procured for the Pasha's Grand Expeditionary Force. This weapon will undoubtedly consolidate the already enviable reputation of the Burkish Marine Infantry and constitute a fearsome force, one that will bolster the Army of Molatero in it's quest for peace and security.
The Pasha - treasured  friend and
strong ally of Molatero

I've finished the plasticard 'disguise' for my conversion project. I decided not to go over the top with detail - it would be all to easy to start banging on rivets and what-not.

I'm really pleased with the boxing-in job I did with the original split carriage. It changes the character of the gun all-together and makes it more early 1900s looking (I think). The wheels obviously help a lot too in this respect.

One thing I did notice - now I do have an actual Britains' 4.7 gun model - is the discrepancy in scales between Britains and Crescent  Both are suppose to be 1/32 - I believe - but the Crescent's 5.5 inch gun is a lot more slender than the Britains' 4.7 inch gun. So I may have to dub my poor man's 4.7 as a poor man's 4 inch gun instead!

Anyway, job done and now it's onto the renovation of the Crescent toy itself. I want to strip off the old paint and give it a new coat of Humbrol N0. 50 Brunswick Green and then paint my plastic parts to match. Then it's a case of putting the two together.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

In Film - 'A Fistful of Dynamite' (1971)

It might seem a little strange - my featuring a 'Spaghetti Western' on a FLW blog - but Sergio Leoni's lesser known 'Fistfull' movie does in fact have some interest for the avid aficionado of Funny Little Wars. Bear with me...

Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) the period is at the extreme edge of what we might consider classic FLW territory, but the style and technology of the military props it presents is comparable to circa 1900 European trends. In particular the uniforms and arms of the Mexican Army reflect a turn of the century colonialist influence, with troops in 'foreign service' helmets and bolt action rifles.

Col. G√ľnther Reza is the very Germanic villain in the movie, he exemplifies
the historic European intervention and influence in the Mexican military and
is representative of Latin America's struggle against European colonialism.
Source: The IMfdb
Watching the scenes which included the Mexican Army my thoughts immediately jumped to the Armies in Plastic Boer War British infantry and new Japanese Infantry toy soldier sets.

The firing squad scene - here a section of Mexican troops are ready to
execute one of our heroes, obviously he is rescued in the nick of time!
The troops where sun helmets (topee or pith helmet if you prefer) and a
uniform very similar to Boar War era British (minus the sand goggles).

While the vast majority of FLW scenarios tend to feature a Ruritanian European or a European Colonial theme the Americas do offer some fascinating possibilities for game play. And historically Latin America provides a rich source of military

So, if you can get hold of 'A Fistfull of Dynamite' you'll find some potensial ideas for FLW play, I do not see why Latin and Central America could not be populated with imagi-nations is exactly the same way as a fictionalised Europe has been. Indeed, I am sure people have already done so (see below)!

A excellent example of a Latin American themed army for Funny Little Wars. This
Army Lime Green of Anahuaco is featured in the FLW Yahoo Group, by 'James'.

I couldn't resist adding this screenshot - Colonel Reza's armoured car! I don't
know if this is an authentic period vehicle (I suspect not) but with it's charming
Edwardian looks and twin Maxims in a 'darlek' shaped housing it's crying out
to be modelled in 54mm scale.

'A Fistfull of Dynamite!' ('Duck, You Sucker!') - 1971
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Staring: Rod Steiger, James Coburn
IMdb Link - 'Duck, You Sucker!'

Saturday, 13 April 2013

In Books - The First to Land

I've just finished Douglas Reeman's second book in the 'Blackwood' series, a good old fashioned rip-roaring adventure series about the Royal Marines. This instalment has as it's background the 1900 Boxer Rebellion and sees the 'Royals' with their backs against the wall  as they attempt to hold out against waves of fanatical Chinese.

The main action in the book takes place during the historic siege of the city of Tiensin.

British and Japanese soldiers depicted fighting Chinese forces during the
Battle of Tientsin. This is the very action described in Reeman's book, in fact
he mentions the Japanese holding the ground next to his hero's Marines.
Image source: Wikipedia 

Aside from being terrific background material for your Funny Little Wars Reeman's story harks back to 'stiff upper lip' style of fiction that is gripping escapist reading. I found his style reminiscent of a grown up man's 'Commando' comic, but before I give the wrong impression I should say that while the action is thick and fast Reeman's research and military knowledge is masterful.

I have read several other of Reeman's books, he specialises in naval novels and I particularly enjoyed his World War 2 stories like Winged Escort and Torpedo Run. But The First to Land puts me in mind of the 1963 film '55 Days in Peking' and is very much in the vien of pro-colonialist heroism - like 'Zulu' - where the 'civilised' Europeans (and their alies) triumph in the face of hoards of 'barbaric natives'.

Left: '55 Days in Peking' is one of my favourite movies. David Niven is stiff upper lip-ness personified in this big budget production which has a lot in common with Reeman's book, including a suspiciously similar love interest!

I garnered a lot of interesting information from the story which I will apply to my Funny Little Wars collection and it has ignited an interest in the multi-national alliance that was pitted against the Chinese, an ironic example of international cooperation considering the events which were to unfold in the following years leading up to 1914.

If I have any criticism of Reeman's books it is the inevitable 'love interest' that he shoe horns in. I'm sorry, but a bit of romance in my war stories just doesn't float my boat! Luckily he tends to keep these uncomfortable diversions brief.

Troops of the Eight nations alliance against China 1900. Left to right: Britain,
United States, Australian, British India, Germany, France, Austria-Hungary,
Italy, Japan. Image source: Wikipedia

So, don your sun helmet and wax your moustache and settle yourself down to some manly daring dos. The First to Land is robust military action of the first order.

(As usual, my preferred 'reading' medium was the audiobook version as I like to relax my eyes on my long commute. But I should give an honorable mention to the excellent narrator David Rintoul who captured the tone perfectly. Also, my usual audio retailer is Audible.co.uk, which has a good collection of Douglas Reeman novels in it's inventory.)

Left: Armies in Plastic produce a very nice series of toy soldiers which reflect the multinational contingents involved in the Boxer Rebellion  and also some very interesting Chinese troops. These include these British Army soldiers, depicted in khaki although you have the option to paint them in scarlet or indeed in Royal Marine 'whites' (as in Reeman's book).

I give The First to Land 4 out of 5.


> First to Land audiobook page at Audible.com (sample available)
> Douglass Reeman's official web site

Monday, 8 April 2013

Molatero mechanises! Circa 1904 automobiles

Old news really but I wanted to have it noted in this blog. Last month I snapped up these two early 1900 motor cars models. Made by Arko in 1/32 scale the represent a 1903 Ford Model A (front) and a 1904 Cadillac Model B and are quaint examples of combustion engine technology of this period.

I liked the idea of them as staff run-abouts as they are a bit different to the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost that appears to be the default staff car in FLW collections. The proliferation of Silver Ghosts seems to be because of the ease of which one can pick up a vintage model of the vehicle - there are usually several Airfix and SMER kits knocking about eBay at reasonable prices.

Anyway, I wanted to reflect the rickety nature of motor transport at the time and have to admit that the inclusion of picnic baskets on the side of the vehicles - for the champers! - swung it for me.

The question now is do I paint them? And if so in what colour?

A generic military green would allow me to utilise these cars in any army I intend to field I suppose, but I have the urge to deck them out in Molatero Purple or black!

PS - Whilst looking up Arko on the web I found another lovely car which I would like to add to my small fleet, it's a 1904 Buick Roadster. An ideal mount for the dashing Prince Vallzack III!

...But this will have to wait until next payday now.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Despatches - Simm's Motor Scout

Ministry of War Despatch: A delegation from the Molatero General Staff examined what may very well be the future replacement for light cavalry when Mr. Frederick Simms demonstrated his combustion engined quadricycle. Called a 'Motor Scout' this one person conveyance is fitted with a 1895 Maxim machine gun.

His Royal Highness The Prince Regent inspected the machine and was impressed by it's mobility and firepower. It is known that His Highness is a proponent of modernisation and is keen to equipe the armed forces of Molatero with the very latest technology and weapons.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

FLW - Poor man's 4.7 Naval Gun Part 4

The Crescent 5.5 gun with it's split carriage
opened and ready to fire
I'm on to the last major component of my poor man's 4.7, the gun carriage. The original Crescent 5.5 gun was a modern (WW2) design with a split carriage designed to unfold into a stabilising 'V',  while the 1900 artillery piece was still influenced by Napoleonic gun design.

At this point the single piece carriage was the norm and the Britains' 4.7 gun reflects this, so my faux 4.7 should have this feature.

Basically I will be hiding the 5.5's split carriage by covering it in a plasticard shell, boxing it in to give the impression of an Edwardian heavy gun carriage. I'll let the photos tell the story...

Of course I will tart this basic box up a bit with some additional detail, but I will show this at the final put together. You'll notice I have already started to disassemble the Crescent toy ready for the next stage where I repaint it, I'll use the Nitromors to strip the old paint first.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

FLW - Second Britains' 4.7 Naval Gun arrives

OK, I admit it - I don't understand the vintage toy market! Today I received my second classic Britains' 4.7 Naval Gun, another eBay bargain. This particular example comes boxed, not that that really maters to me as I intend to use it as a toy, but it's nice to have the original box anyway.

What was more useful to me was that this item was described as 'pristine' and despite having learnt to take eBay descriptions with a pinch of salt now I found that when it arrived it did actually look almost new. Only one small chip in the paint as far as I could see, and bright and shinny and new looking otherwise. I don't think it was ever played with by the looks of the breech.

In superb condition, this example of the '4.7' seems to be a late production
model (from the 1970s perhaps). It is lighter than my older 4.7, and the
construction is modified and less of it seems to be one-piece cast.
As I said in my post about my first 4.7 (which is play worn) I cannot understand the wildly fluctuating prices that these toys garner on eBay. I picked this one up with a box in near mint condition for a nice sum, and yet I know I could pop it back on eBay straight away and get double the price or more - it seems to be purely down to luck sometimes (and how good the seller is at describing and titling their item - as I only found this item with a more general 'diecast toy' search rather than the more sought after 'Britains 4.7 gun' search term).

Anyway - bemusement at eBay aside, this is a wonderful second gun for my Funny Little Wars heavy artillery battery and once my Crescent 5.5 inch gun conversion is done this unit will be complete..Aside from crew that is.

I am still struggling with my medium gun battery - all the Britains' Royal Horse Artillery guns (No. 1201) seem to have disappeared from eBay at the moment. But I will bide my time.

There is added detailing in the gun shield in this (presumably) late production
model and you may just be able to make out the split in the two-piece barrel.
I believe my other 4.7 has a single cast barrel. The lightness of this toy
makes me think it may be cast in aluminium?
Postscript: One of the things I have been trying to nail down since I started this side-interest in diecast toys is exactly what green the Britains' toy gun are. I want to know so I can repaint the ones I am renovating.

I've looked at a few different greens in the Humbrol enamel range but have found that Britains seems to have changed their shade of green over the years. The new gun (above) seems to be almost exactly Humbrol's No. 3 Brunswick Green, but my older 4.7 is a much more olive and darker green.