Full circle

My first “experience” of wargaming was back in the 1970s with those bendy and flexible Airfix and Matchbox model soldiers and using Britain’s matchstick firing weapons.

One of my favourite toys and probably the thing that got me into gaming was the 1:32nd Matchbox Counter Attack Playset.

Matchbox Counter Attack

Combining Americans and Germans, with an M8 Greyhound, air pump weapons and an incredible building that you could knock down and put back together. It was an incredible toy that I really loved playing with.

There were of course other models you could buy and I remember having some, but aspired to buy some of those Airfix plastic 1:32 models, such as the Cromwell as well as other Matchbox figures like these Commandos.

Matchbox Commandos

I did move onto more “serious” gaming using Airfix Napoleonics. Then I started to paint them, but like a lot of gamers back then, realised the flexibility of the plastic meant that the paint would come off quite easily during games. The magazines of the time (we didn’t have the web back then) had articles about painting the bare plastic with PVA (white glue) and after painting use a range of varnishing techniques (heavy gloss varnish followed by a matt varnish) to protect the paintwork even further. The reality was that I remember discussing with friends what we really wanted were plastic soldiers made out of hard plastic., like that was ever going to happen…

Lets fast forward to last week…

I usually quite enjoy the weekly updates on the Flames of War website. Never quite sure why they feel the need to save all their updates for Thursday, why can’t they post them as and when they’re done. The main result of this is I go the website once a week rather than more regularly.

So what’s the connection?

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic. I had to check twice, was Battlefront really going to release flexible plastic toy soldiers.

Battlefront announced they were, having moved from metal to hard plastic, were going to move now to flexible plastic.

Hmmm.

The articles talks about the advantages of this *new* material compared to metal, resin and hard plastic.

The new figures are made of a flexible ABS plastic, and combine most of the good points of the other materials.

Like with hard plastic, the casting process involves injecting the plastic into a rigid mould. The moulds themselves are not machined in the same way, but cast – it’s faster and cheaper. Unlike the hard plastic, the material itself is slightly flexible after it cures, so small undercuts are possible – not as much as with metal or resin in a soft mould, but more than with hard plastic.

They also make the point…

The tough new plastic is almost unbreakable – you could drop a rulebook on them and they will bounce straight back.

Guessing dropping rulebooks on them wouldn’t do much for the paintwork. However that would be the same for any model regardless of what material it was made from.

There must be very good reasons why Battlefront are going down this road and these are outlined in the article.

The biggest benefit is the cost – we can produce flexible plastic figures almost 40% cheaper than metal equivalent, and this will be reflected in the price, which is surely good news for everyone!

Cheaper models are always nice, but cost is just one factor amongst many when it comes to choosing models to wargame with. Personally I think it’s a backward retro step, time to ensure I have enough metal models in the cupboard. I don’t mind paying the extra.

Back to the 1970s here we come….

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser

And so it begins….

Eight months to wait. Are you looking forward to this instalment?




The Last Jedi

A22 Churchill Mk I

The Tank Museum is a collection of armoured fighting vehicles at Bovington Camp in Dorset, South West England.

Outside the entrance to the car park at the museum is an A22 Churchill Mark I.

A22 Churchill Tank

The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV (A22) Churchill was a British heavy infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, its ability to climb steep slopes, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war.

The origins of the design lay in the expectation that war in Europe might be fought under similar conditions to those of the First World War, and emphasised the ability to cross difficult ground. The Churchill was rushed into production to build up British defences against a possible German invasion. The first vehicles had flaws that had to be overcome before the Churchill was accepted for wide use. After several Marks had been built, a better armoured version, the Mark VII, entered service.

The Churchill was used by British and Commonwealth forces in North Africa, Italy and North-West Europe. In addition, a few hundred were supplied to the USSR and used on the Eastern Front.

This A22 Churchill at the Tank Museum appears to have been completed as a Mark II but has since been altered to resemble a Mark I.

A22 Churchill Tank

The Curse of Dead Man’s Hand

I have really enjoyed playing Great Escape Games’ rules, Dead Man’s Hand. It is an enjoyable set of rules that allow for games in the Old West. I like the mechanics and the ease of playing.

Great Escape have taken their rules into 1920s prohibition with The Chicago Way and these rules allow you to recreate the Untouchables.

Their next set of rules look very interesting with the addition of what looks like the undead into the Old West, with their new set, The Curse of Dead Man’s Hand.

he Curse of Dead Man's Hand source book

The curse has finally come to Dead Man’s Hand.Get together anybody you can, time to put petty rivalries aside and stand together against an enemy who shows no mercy, who will take it all, and leave you with nothing, not even your soul.

You need a copy of the Dead Man’s Hand rule book to use the source book.

The Curse of Dead Man's Hand

As well as rules, there are going to be some new buildings from 4Ground, which you can see as background in these photographs from Great Escape Games.

The Curse of Dead Man's Hand

These buildings look like they will also be useful for “normal” games of Dead Man’s Hand.

SDD Matilda II

Matilda II
By No 1 Army Film & Photographic Unit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Infantry Tank Mark II, best known as the Matilda, was a British infantry tank. The design began as the A12 specification in 1936, as a gun-armed counterpart to the first British infantry tank, the machine gun armed, two-man A11 Infantry Tank Mark I. The Mark I was also known as Matilda, and the larger A12 was initially known as the Matilda II, Matilda senior or Waltzing Matilda. The Mark I was abandoned in 1940, and from then on the A12 was almost always known simply as “the Matilda”.

With its heavy armour, the Matilda II was an excellent infantry support tank but with somewhat limited speed and armament. It was the only British tank to serve from the start of the war to its end, although it is particularly associated with the North Africa Campaign. It was replaced in front-line service by the lighter and less costly Infantry Tank Mk III Valentine beginning in late 1941.

This model is an SDD white metal kit that I bought in the 1990s.

Matilda II