Somerset Pillbox

Went for a walk along Sand Bay (near to Weston super Mare). I find it interesting that there is a pillbox on the beach, as you wouldn’t have thought that this coastline was under threat of German invasion back in 1940.

Somerset Pillbox

However doing some research about the pillbox, I came to realise that the British in 1940 did believe that invasion may come from the South West.

The Taunton Stop Line was a defensive line in south west England. It was designed “to stop an enemy’s advance from the west and in particular a rapid advance supported by armoured fighting vehicles (up to the size of a German medium tank) which may have broken through the forward defences.

The Taunton Stop Line ran north-south for nearly 50 miles through Somerset, Dorset and Devon, roughly from Axminster to Chard along the River Axe, then along the Great Western Railway to Ilminster, the railway and Chard Canal to Taunton, the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal to Bridgwater, and the River Parrett to the coast near Highbridge.

A beach battery at Portished, was built to protect the entrance to Avonmouth Docks. It was the first such installation to be become operational in the area, the battery containing two 6″ guns. Similarily the Severn Fixed Defences were designed to protect the Bristol Channel with batteries established at Brian Down and on Steep Holm and Flat Holm.

In October 1940 it was announced that the Severn Fixed Defences, a string of gun batteries, designed to protect the mouth of the Severn, would be established at Brean Down, on both Steep and Flat Holm, and on the Glamorgan coast at Lavernock Point.

Just like Brean Down further south along the coast, weapons were tested at Sand Point (next to Sand Bay) during the Second World War. Some were so strange that they were never seen after their initial trials.

Somerset Pillbox

With the release of the Bolt Action Sealion Campaign book it got me thinking about all the possibilities of a German invasion of Somerset… okay probably would have been impossible, but even so….

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….

The Man in the High Castle

maninthehighcastlemap

Having “splashed” out on the free trial of Amazon Prime to get some Christmas gifts delivered quickly I took the opportunity to watch the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle.

This series based on the book of the same name, is set in a universe where Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan defeated the allies and occupied the United States of America dividing it in to two, the Greater Nazi Reich covers the Eastern half of the United States, the Japanese Pacific States is on the Western seaboard. In between these two occupied areas is a neutral zone, which acts as a buffer between the two superpowers.

In many ways very little has changed in this neutral zone, there are still US propaganda posters on the walls of buildings.

The Man in the High Castle Posters

It also a place where those wanted and on the run can hide. However it is also a lawless place where anyone can pretend to be a lawmaker.

The series is set in 1962, however feels much more like the 1950s, suggesting a cultural stagnation that would have occurred under totalitarian occupation.

The series has a range of opportunities for gaming, in the main skirmish gaming between small forces of regular and irregular squads.

As the American resistance tries to attack a convoy of occupying soldiers in an ambush, the regular forces fight back and try to escape the ambush.

A smuggling operation by the Mafia in New York (or the Yakuza in San Francisco) is busted by the local police supported by regular troops.

There is a cold war between the Germans and the Japanese and there could be border skirmishes between regular forces in the rocky mountains of the neutral zone.

A self-proclaimed sheriff and his deputies in the neutral zone attempt to raid a fortified farm.

Very little information is provided on the military forces, we see light vehicles, but no armour. The Germans have “rocket” planes and supersonic airliners, but not much else is seen in terms of hardware.

The Man in the High Castle

We can assume that there ballistic rockets and it is mentioned that Germany has the atomic bomb, characters in the series talk about how Washington DC was destroyed by a nuclear weapon. One potential scenario could be a skirmish between different forces in the radioactive ruins of Washington DC.

If you have Amazon Prime then I would suggest you check out the series. Having said that the first episode is available for free, so you can see that without any commitment.

There is even a 30 day free trial and you could use them to check out the ten episodes. I am certainly looking forward to the second series, which is due to be released in 2016 (this may mean that I actually take out an Amazon Prime subscription).

Gaming Revolution

Revolution TV Series

No not a revolution in gaming, this is a blog post about the television series called Revolution.

Revolution TV Series

Revolution is a series in which all the power stops working, an event which became known as the Blackout. The basic premise behind the series is that there is no electricity, there are no combustion engines, however steam engines work as does gunpowder and automatic weapons.

In some respects it mirrors many of the ideas in the Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling, though in that series of books, as well as no electricity, there is no steam engines and gunpowder just fizzles. As a result that world reverts to a feudal society with a medievalistic level of technology. Revolution is similar, but different as there are assault rifles and steam powered vehicles. In addition the way in which electricity and power has stopped working, means in some instances it will work, so you can for some scenarios have vehicles or even helicopters.

Revolution TV Series

There is a lot of ideas and inspiration for gaming from the two series that were broadcast and unfortunately like a lot of other American series, it was cancelled before it had the chance for a full run.

The action sequences in the episodes really provide many of the ideas for scenarios for games. We have bandits armed with a mish-mash of weapons attacking fortified towns. Armed militia from different nation states fight pitched battles or border skirmishes with a limited number of guns, but everyone has a sword and some are armed with crossbows. You could have raiding parties against barricaded farmhouses, or attacks on a steam train.

Revolution TV Series

I can really see how games in the Revolution universe would work using the mechanics I outlined for my Tally Ho! game. The heroes and villains of the series appear to be able to do so much more than the miltia, bandits and other groups in the battles they fight.

Get Revolution Series 1 at Amazon or on iTunes.

Get Revolution Series 2 at Amazon or on iTunes.

Terminator 2 in 60 Seconds