Saturday, 22 July 2017

Old v New ..... what next for this blog?

The discovery of the fact that the entire old Hinchliffe range of 25mm figures is still very much available has completely changed the way I feel about 'modern' wargame figures. Over the past few weeks I have been working enthusiastically on building up my Hinchliffe ECW armies, and was lucky enough to discover a rich vein of painted figures on sale via Ian Hinds (Hinds Figures Ltd). Among the thousands of painted figures I hit upon a number of units that were clearly painted by the same talented hand, some featuring beautiful hand painted flags and conversions, they were reasonably priced and so I set about acquiring as many as I could afford. They were a revelation, they arrived looking as though they had been stored for years and were all in need of a good clean, but what emerged from the grime were really well painted figures with some fine detail work. I'm still working through cleaning, touching up chipped paint and re basing, but I find myself the very proud owner of over 400 painted Hinchliffe figures of which 160 are cavalry. I have around another 100 castings that will enable me to finish this project, mostly by adding more Foot. These will of course continue to feature on my ECW blog.

Hinchliffe elegance.

And one of my favourite units featuring a trumpeter conversion, crashing troopers and hand painted flag.

As a consequence I have been casting around for what to follow this up with, my enthusiasm for painting model soldiers being as high as it's ever been. Followers of this blog may recall attempts to start new projects over the last couple of years have mostly ended in dismal lack of enthusiasm, Warlord Ancients & ECW's followed by Renegade ACW's for example. I'm now convinced that the chunky style of the '28mm' figures has lost all appeal to me, and that I no longer have the patience to glue together multi part plastic figures, and whilst I can appreciate that they produce finely detailed, very historically accurate results, there is something about the elegance of the simple 90p Hinchliffe 'true' 25mm casting that I enjoy painting and collecting. Bearing in mind that these figures were sculpted by Peter Gilder in 1978, they have stood the test of time very well and Ian Hinds has been committed to restoring the range to top notch quality, re moulding the ECW range among others and is currently I understand working on the Napoleonics.

As mentioned above I wanted to do the ACW again as it's an old favourite of mine, but the Renegade figures I ordered simply did not work for me, they were expensive at £1.25 per figure, but more than that the poses were very limited and I thought them quite stiff, with marching arms straight down the side of the body and no variety in leg poses, the faces were very good indeed, but again little contrast and too many heavily bearded chaps for my liking among the ranks. I painted 18 of them and then found myself quite bored with them! I still have them, but they will go on eBay when I begin my planned clear out. However, the Hinchliffe ACW range still looks great to my eyes and having spent some time thinking things through this is going to be my next project. Of course I have been looking back at old photos of the Gilder collection and the tight packed ranks of these slim elegant castings has proven to be more than I can resist.

This is the one that did it! These apparently attributed to the hand of Peter Gilder himself.

The classic 'Yank' advancing (code ACW1), as seen in the above image, (from the Hinds Figures website).

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Memoir '44 - a few tweaks and a game.

Ready for action, US 2nd Armoured Division attack from the left.

It struck me the other day that if I used the 6" hex 'Commands & Colors' printed matt bought some time back I could actually play a game of Memoir '44 using my 15mm Flames of war collection. I retain a fondness for the board game, but never really enjoyed using the plastic parts supplied. I did play a game on the board using 15mm figures and tanks but it was far too cramped and simply did not feel right. So this could be the perfect solution, the mat is 13 x 9 hexes so it's standard memoir size and when laid out occupies an area of 7' long by 4 ' wide which gives a nice feel to a WW2 game in 15mm scale. The table once laid up with terrain looks as below. For some reason these pics do not accurately reflect the green of the mat, I will try to improve things for the battle, but they show the layout. I think for a grid based game it looks pretty conventional, especially when you stand back a couple of feet or so.

One shot with the flash turned on..... but still not great!

The game is going to be played to standard Memoir rules but with the following tweaks as I have used previously.
  • Armour - a single model tank will replace the 3 plastic models supplied with the game. A micro dice will record hits, 3 hits on a standard medium tank and it's destroyed. Heavier tanks will require 4 hits to destroy, as per the rules. Infantry cannot inflict damage on tanks unless they are dedicated tank hunters with anti tank weapons (see below).
  • Tweak #1 - When a medium tank takes a hit from a heavy tank the dice is re-rolled and if the armour symbol comes up again the target is instantly destroyed. This represents the penetrative firepower of say a Tiger against a Sherman. I will also give US M10 tank destroyers the same re roll against German heavy Panzers such as the Tigers. 
  • Infantry are based in two's on 1p coins and a standard unit as per the rules is 4 coins, each hit removes a base. This gives 8 figures per unit and ties in quite nicely with squad sizes, more elite units can have 5 bases (10 figures) which again equates roughly to veteran German squads in the latter war period.
  • Tweak#3 - Tank Hunters, squads with anti tank weapons such as panzershrek/panzerfaust or Bazooka, mines etc. For simplicity I have banded these weapons together and all can only be used when adjacent to a tank, ie: what what normally be 'close combat' range requiring an armour or grenade symbol to hit. As this is a new addition to my rule tweaks we shall have to see how it plays out.
The game will be a basic encounter with both sides starting deployed on table on the first or second line of hexes. Victory is gained by taking 4 'clear' victory medals or by capturing the enemy HQ (moving onto that hex). This means for example the game could run to 10/6 or more, or indeed be won at 4/0, again we shall see how this idea plays out.

The forces are as follows:

4 infantry squads ( 4 bases per squad)
5 Sherman medium tanks (1st platoon)
4 sherman medium tanks (2nd platoon)
4 M10 tank destroyers
2 mobile artillery
2 commanders in jeeps

4 veteran infantry squads (5 bases each)
1 Youth tank hunting squad (4 bases with panzerfaust)
5 StuG assault guns (medium)
4 panzer mk4's, late model H with shurzen. (medium)
2 Jagdpanther, heavy tank destroyers
2 light howitzers
2 commanders in armoured half tracks.

Deployed forces.

A couple of shots of the relevant terrain and troop cards supplied for quick reference, and a shot showing the six faces of each dice for those unfamiliar with Memoir '44. You can see that I have placed 2 areas covering 4 hexes of the dreaded 'Bocage' (see 'hedgerow' terrain card below for how this plays, it can certainly bog things down. Each building is treated as per the 'Towns and villages' card below, the church occupies 2 hexes - how could I leave it out! - each hex counting as an individual BUA.

The 6 faces of each battle dice supplied, there are 8 of these and each player takes 4 dice, Memoir is certainly not a 'bucket of dice' game!
Should give a lively game I think. IN addition both sides will have air support if and when the 'Air Strike' card is drawn as per the rules. It is late Summer of 1944 and the Germans are fighting to hold back the Allied advance, US 2nd Armoured Division is advancing in force supported by infantry but the Germans are in good shape, the infantry being veterans for the most part with a smattering of young  recruits from the Hitlerjugend, armed with close quarter anti tank weapons capable of burning through a Sherman or M10 at close range.

Let battle commence.

EDIT: I changed camera for the last few shots above, borrowed my daughters Cannon, much better than mine so took a few pics of the ECW's sitting on the bookshelf in the background, nice and sharp, all Hinchliffe from Hinds Figures as featured on my other blog!

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Disguising the Tigers!

Some may recall that a few weeks back I ordered a platoon of plastic Battlefront Tiger IE's to replace the Forged in Battle resin and metal version that I have as I felt that the models did not fully reflect the bulk and size of the original. Once the plastic box set arrived I set about comparing the two versions and was actually surprised to find that both are really pretty much the same in size. The Battlefront models are slightly larger, by a couple of mm's in length only and about the same in width, the real difference is that the plastic hull is deeper as is the turret, and the 88mm main gun on the plastic version looks more hefty and is slightly longer .This has made up my mind to  hang to the FIB Tigers and sell of the plastic kits. So I decided to add foliage to my Tigers in order to keep them in line with the rest of my late war German armour. As mentioned previously I wanted to try to achieve that Normandy look when most German Panzers were covered in foliage to enable them to hide in the hedgerows, and again I tried to replicate the look of branches being pushed through 'D' rings welded to the exterior surfaces rather than the use of netting more commonly used by the Allies.

Resin and metal Tiger 1E from Forged in Battle.

Konigstiger - these models really convey the huge size of these beasts.

Overall barely any difference, maybe sharper detail on the plastic kit?

Only a slightly deeper turret on the plastic kit.

My late war collection now stands as follows:

  • 5 StuG assault guns.
  • 5 Panzer mk 4, late model H.
  • 5 Panthers
  • 3 Tiger 1E.
  • 2 'King Tigers'
  • 2 Jagdpanthers
  • 2 Recovery vehicles
  • 4 half tracks
IN addition to the above I also have a further 20 odd models that I no longer require, these include 3 platoons of earlier Panzer MK 4's one of which is in Russian Front  paint shade of whitewashed grey. I intend to cut back this collection by selling off the stuff that does not relate to the Normandy campaign period.

At the same time I have been going through my 'spares' box and find I have a fair bit of unwanted stuff that will also be sold off, this includes many plastic Warlord ECW cavalry and infantry sprues, 18mm AB figure unpainted (about £100.00 worth of castings), the Renegade 28mm ACW's, and about £80.00 worth of Peter Pig Wars of The Roses figures, all still in the bags! This will find its way onto eBay in due course no doubt. I will of course retain my Front Rank French & Indian Wars collection, my US 2nd Armoured Division as a foe for my Germans and continue to paint Hinchliffe ECW's.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Shorncliffe Barracks and Military Cemetery.

I occasionally have cause to pass Shorncliffe Barracks and Military Cemetery, set high on the hills overlooking Folkestone and out across the English Channel. Shorncliffe has a long association with the British Army, the Light Infantry were trained there under Sir John Moore and the 95th Rifles are probably one of the best known units to have learned their trade at Shorncliffe. During WW1 it was the final stop off before heading to France and there are many images of columns of happy, smiling soldiers making the short march down towards the Harbour. I know that my own Grandfather Alfred Gramson made that same march as part of the British Expeditionary Force, having trained at Canterbury Barracks before being sent to Shorncliffe prior to departure.

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery contains over 600 Commonwealth War Graves, 470 from WW1 including 300 Canadians, it is set beside the barracks on the hillside and is a sobering place to visit. Three recipients of The Victoria Cross are also buried there:

Private Patrick McHale (1826-1866), Royal Artillery, Indian Mutiny
Sergeant Joseph Charles Brennan (1818-1872), 5th Regiment of Foot, Indian Mutiny
Private John Doogan (1853-1940), King's Dragoon Guards, First Boer War

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Going back to the English Civil War.

Such sad news from Manchester to start such a beautiful day, young people innocently going about enjoying their lives, where and when will this ever end?

I am in the process of starting a new blog dedicated to my Hinchliffe ECW project. It seemed better to start fresh rather than include it here, as this blog has taken so many twists and turns over the years.

Should you wish to join me the new blog can be found HERE. I'll link it from this blog eventually as it develops, early days of course but the first post is up.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Plans, Howitzers & contemplating Hinchliffe ECW's.

Sunday Morning again, the Sun is shining and over on the beach it's lovely and calm. I just watched a very skilled water skier making several fast runs up and down, looks great fun. With the Election looming and uncertainty over just how Brexit will pan out we have decided to hold off our planned move until end of Summer here, we are still going to Spain, but the house won't now go up for sale until September 1st. With that decided we invested in a garden hot tub (Laz-y-Spa) and I have been busy repairing and repainting the old garden shed to house it, it will go with the house sale as an additional feature, but meantime it's a little touch of the Spanish lifestyle we are looking for here on the Kent Coast and the kids and Granddaughters all love it!

Had a break from painting the Travel Battle figures this week and returned to my Flames of war collection. I painted up a couple of German Howitzers that I had for some time and I'm pleased with how they turned out, metal Battlefront models, they will add a bit more indirect fire ability to my German forces. Version 4 has done away with the need for separate command teams, one gun being nominated as the command gun instead, so I marked this with a red square on the front and rear of one model.
10.5cm leFH18 Howitzers.

The table is back up in the hobby room, the board size of 4' x 5' 6" fits comfortably in there, as it's only 9' long x 7' wide the slightly reduced length allows me to pass by without dragging any models off the table! I intend to play out some 'Flames of War' games as and when I feel like it.

Finally for now.
I have been looking for another project to add to the FIW & FoW collections that are really both about finished now save a few bits and bobs such as replacing the Tigers. The Travel Battle sets will continue to get painted slowly as I must admit to finding it a bit of a strain on my old eyes. I tried ACW's in 28mm but they are just not doing it for me I'm afraid, wonderful figures but I really need something fresh and different. They do paint up well, but I'm calling it a day now on this one.

One thing I have long had at the back of my mind is to do my very own 'Nostalgia' project using Hinchliffe 25mm figures. My first 25mm collection back in the day was English Civil War and to this day I still admire that range, especially the cavalry, the first figures I painted was a unit of  Haselrig's 'Lobsters', inspired by an article in one of the magazines. That would have been around 1977 - 78 -ish when I was living in a bedsit in Blackheath, London, my parents having moved down to deepest Kent and I was serving my printing apprenticeship at Municipal Mutual Insurance, Great Queen Street, Westminster. In those days it was common to have a couple of pints during the lunch hours and my Manager introduced me to Courage Directors Bitter as part of my education, having guided me away from drinking lager and lime! Anyway, I digress, the picture was cut out of the magazine and put in a frame on my wall, amazingly I found the very image on the web and as you can see from below it was indeed an inspiring image.

I have checked out the Hinchliffe range, now owned and sold by Hind's Figures and they do indeed still look good to me. I'm going to place a small order so I can see them in the flesh, but research on the 'Unfashionably  Shiny' blog has indicated just what can be done with them, along with figures from Peter Gilders collection, as used in the 'Battleground' Edgehill edition which can still be viewed HERE albeit somewhat blurry. The figures are old true scale 25mm castings, in the slim style of that time.

Borrowed from the 'Unfashionably Shiny' blog is this wonderful image of Gilder designed figures, just look at the animation. These are actually from the 'Foremost' range and sold under the heading of 'Prince Ruperts Charge'

I'll be back with more on this once my samples arrive.