Monday, December 31, 2012

Matilda in High Heels

Warlord Games introduced a model of the British Infantry Tank A12 Matilda II earlier in 2012. Their choice of the British Expeditionary Force variant in preference to the more traditional Queen of the Desert allows the building of BEF armies (hopefully supported in the March 2013 release of the Bolt Action supplement for British and Commonwealth forces).

So, having ordered one, what does it look like?

The first thing you notice is the exposed bogies, they look really odd (hence the High Heels in the title). Anyone used to the Airfix or Tamiya versions would be mildly disturbed and be wondering why it looks so odd. This would be because the BEF in their wisdom decided that the Matilda as built might have ground clearance problems. So they jacked the suspension (Pimp My Tank?). This gave better ground clearance but left the bogies more exposed and put the suspension under a lot of strain.

For a photograph see page 11 of New Vanguard 8: Matilda Tank, there is a colour plate of page 26 (plate B1). Another concern was the trench crossing ability (trenches still being foremost in the mind at that point). To improve trench crossing, a bustle was added at the back over the exhaust silencer (plate B1 again).
The other feature was the exhaust layout. Early A12 Matildas had a lower exhaust path on the right hand side rather than the later models whose exhausts are on the top.
The other feature is the Coaxial machine gun, a water cooled Vickers rather than the air cooled Besa.
There were a few minor problems with the build, the tracks had some slight misalignment where the mould came together, the resin needing to be filed down to flatten the tread (you can see the results below), there is a promient seam under the nose which I have still failed to correct and the tread unit to body join needed filling (the most difficult part being the sides where there is a prominent row of rivets adjacent to the join, meaning I could not file down the join without having to add the rivets again).
The turret looks a bit small but reference to pictures and drawings shows it matches up with other hull features. The layout on the top of the turret is different to examples in the New Vanguard book and  the Osprey Modelling: Modelling the Matilda Infantry Tank, but then different modellers in the book have different interpretaions. I did relocate the headlights and added towing shackles on the front.

Overall it looks like a Matilda, and even for someone as hamfisted as me it goes together pretty well. I will probably get another one of the BEF ones, and hope they have the later (desert) version ready for when the Perry Miniatures Eighth Army figures are released.

The Tank Commander above is a Crooked Dice Minion with pistol, Fighting Man head and the pistol from The Man From 3000. The plan is to build a full Tank Crew sourced from Crooked Dice Minions for skirmish actions inspired by Colin Forbes' Tramp In Armour novel about a BEF Matilda Tank caught behind enemy lines. The book does not contain any usable scenarios, a one sided fight with a truck is about the only time the tank fires its main gun, so the scenarios will be created from whole cloth.
Finally, two pictures of the Matilda supporting a BEF section (more Warlord games figures) advancing through a ruined hamlet (Warlord Games plastic buildings)..

I do have a 1/48th scale Tamiya model of a Matilda, it will be interesting to compare them. Of course, when I build it is another matter...

Operation Squad: Modern War

Operation Squad: Modern War is an update of the Operation Squad World War two skirmish rules from Massimo Torriani.

The basic squad size is eight regulars, with various additional sections (HMG, sniper etc). The rules have army lists for Royal Marines, SAS, US Marines, US Delta force, Italian Bersaglier, Iraqi regulars and Insurgents. Additional lists are available for various periods on the web site. There are currently no rules for vehicles (there is a HMMWV on the website) but you could use the Operation Squad vehicle rules.

So here are some figures.

Empress Miniatures' Royal Marines advance supported by a Scimitar (Imprint vehicles).

The Squad Sergeant directs his fire team.
While the Corporal sets up fire support from cover.
Well equipped mercenaries with their "Technical" support (Empress US Marines).

Compare The Dalek

The latest (28th of December) copy of Doctor Who Adventures (thanks to the denizens of the Crooked Dice Forum for pointing it out) has five iDaleks and six RTD era Daleks.

The above shows them, with a comparison for size with a Harlequin (BTD) Dalek on the left and a Tweedy Mattison on the right.

As you can see they are both tall, the iDalek is possibly about the right size, the  RTD one (designed to be eye height on Billi Piper) is rather tall.

They will both need dismantling and the front plate glued in properly.

The Hobbit: Goblins

I did wait until I had seen the film before opening the Hobbit Box set from Games Workshop, but so far I have not started on any of the figures.

However I did also buy the paint set and have 'completed' the five goblins that are part of the package.

So to show Daniel, the new local purveyor of plastic and resin, here are the first pictures of my Misty Mountain Goblins.

They mainly follow the instructions, except I used Scorched brown for the shafts and whips (that sounds bad) and used white paint on the eyeballs before using the crimson ink.

Now I just have to finish the rest from the box...

Work In Glacial Progress

Actually, glaciers are a bit hasty...

So, to show that it takes me awhile to complete anything, here is my Vanilla Womble army.
The second row are built from Wombles from the Third Edition 40K box (with additional RTB-01 heads - my Vanilla Wombles all have Womble - Mk6 - helmets).

The top five on the left are Forgeworld Mk6 and the two bottom right are converted RTB-01 (RTB-01 torsos on the plastic legs of the kits with the fixed helmets that came out after RTB-01 but before third edition).

Not shown are the terminators, I got some of them free when Games Workshop opened their hundredth shop and had a lot of special offers and giveaways. Those were the days...

The others are from second edition Space Hulk and the Fifth Edition 40K box.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Have yourself a Merry Old Christmas

While looking for something else (the story of my life) I found an ancient Citadel Space Santa, a limited edition from the late 'eighties. As I thought it was appropriate for this time of year, I thought I would share it.

I would like to hope that I did not get round to finishing painting it before it got put away. Here it is in its 'as found' condition.
 I think that over the years my skills improved, here are some not so festive Snowmen from a few years ago.
Copplestone Castings Evil Snowman and henchpenguin.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Quick trailer for a 7TV cast - 7everance.

Flamboyant Agent John Easton.

'Angel' of Justice - Michaela, provides John with both emotional and fire support.
Other members of the cast are awaiting selection.

Monday, October 22, 2012

One of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit...

Warlord Games do a very nice model of the Cromwell Cruiser tank
 Scaled at 1/56th of full size, it fits nicely with their range of plastic and metal WW2 miniatures. The model went together well. It is just awaiting some decals and weathering.
The Cromwell was in British service until the Korean War, variants served in Greece and Finland until the sixties.

The building in the background is part of the Warlord Games Ruined Hamlet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

City Block

At Salute this year I bought four Sarissa buildings: a container, a Wild West shack, an Explorer pod and a City Block.

The container went together with no problems, though it is rather large (I was expecting something nearer the size of an ISO container).

I put together most of the Explorer pod (pictures to follow at a later date) but it is waiting for some finer weather to allow it to be spray painted.

And then there was the City Block.

It is supplied (at least at exhibitions) in a very compact stack of HDF in a plastic bag.

I found it rather intimidating, and put it to one side.

Time passed...

One evening, I was at a loose end and thought that I would "just have a look", just pull the instruction sheet out and have a look.

About twenty minutes later I had dry fitted the whole thing together.

Time passed again.

I took it all apart, and here is a picture of the bits.
Unlike a number of other laser cut kits, the City Block range is supplied already separated from the sheet.

The kit is supplied in 3mm and 2mm HDF. The outer walls, floors and ceilings are in 3mm HDF. The window and door elements are in 2mm HDF.

The ground floor was assembled using the floor above to assist in making everything square.

It was at this point that a slight problem in my assembly occurred. When I did the dry build, it went together fine. Unfortunately when I put it together, I managed to get the end walls in the wrong place. No, I did manage to get the side door on the ground floor, unfortunately the floors are designed to use the top tabs to hold them in place. So when putting it together, ensure that you do not have a down tab in the slot that is supposed to be used to hold the levels together.

So I managed to put one of the end walls in the wrong place. Emergency surgery ensued to remove said tab.

So now I have a two storey building in 'natural' HDF.

Agents Blue and Red check out the new building.
So, how to paint it.

I did not glue the door and window elements inside the building (if you peer closely at the above picture, you will spot the blu-tack (tm) holding the windows in place.

This allowed me to paint them separately.

I sprayed the exterior and interior of the building with Halfords grey primer. The windows and doors were sprayed with Citadel Skull White. Once again the doors and windows were held in place by blu-tack.

Tweedy and May discover the Photonic Spanner is no guarantee of entry.

While May keeps an eye out at the front, Tweedy tries his luck (and Photonic spanner) on the side door.

Though the exterior face of the windows and doors are painted, the interior face needs to be painted, as does the walls.

Additional details required include drain pipes (how else do you access the first floor - especially as the building has no interior stairs), and some detail on the roof.

It also needs some detailed painting, mortar between the blocks, oh and some door knobs.

I was concerned that the etched detail might be lost under the paint, but as the photographs show, the detail is still visible.

Now I need to build the other two kits, and then get some more so I have a town for my miniature figures to run (or in the case of the zombies shuffle...) around.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mechanicals - friendly and not so friendly

A Juggernaut has gained access to the Albion Rocket Consortium base.
An Ainsty Castings Mechanot on 40mm base.

Not all mechanicals are unfriendly. Ainsty Castings have just introduced a range of friendly robots. Available as a set of three, or as part of the Valley Forge set with four buggies and drivers.

Now where are the plant pots?

WARMILL Portable Utility Pod build

I saw WARMILL for the first time at Colours. They have an interesting range of Laser cut buildings, terrain and accessories

As an experiment I bought a Portable Utility Pod, a single small building on legs. They offer a range of options, with multiple pods, walkways etc.

The kit came in a flat cardboard box (looks rugged enough to cope with most posties material science testing experiments).

I had started to remove the pieces from the sprue before deciding to take the photograph, all pieces were securely on their sprues.
The kit is made from 3mm laser cut MDF. As a size comparison, that is about the width of a new Crooked Dice Armed Minion's head excluding ears (say about 200mm or eight inches). The Sarissa City Block buildings seem to be a similar thickness, though the habitation pods and the Old West buildings look more like 2mm.

Generally, the pieces came out without a problem, there was one sheet (the one with the side pieces) that did require the application of a scalpel as the laser cut had not made it all the way through the material.

I assembled the pod without glue, and with only a few minor areas that needed filing/sanding. For the final build I will tidy up the edges and use glue.

There are a lot of pieces, and the high density of pieces on the sheets is to be applauded.

This is a view of the 'assembled' pod with a Crooked Dice Tweedy for scale.

It was at this point that I noticed a problem. The door kept falling over. In the end I propped it up with a Time Lift Security with rifle figure.

I then checked the instructions again (the construction is so easy that there is a temptation to just build it). I was missing the two door hinges. As I mentioned before, there are a lot of strangely shaped pieces on the high density boards, so I went through the 'sprues' again, to no avail.

I was just contemplating either sticking the door in place, with the inner door detail added, when I noticed that the 'inner door detail' was cut through the 'inner door' piece, and looked remarkably like the missing hinges.
So, having added the hinges, here are some additional pictures.

Three Crooked Dice Armed Astronauts protect their field base though one of them is going to have to clean the back blast from that rocket launcher.)

Tweedy breaks out from the prison pod.
Tweedy says good bye to his confinement.

So, overall a nice easy build, a few areas which needed a bit of scalpel and file work, and a requirement to look at the instructions clearly (though a pointer to the hinges would be nice).

The building itself looks fine, it could do with some finer detail such as cabling and a replacement key pad (easily done by the builder).

The building is only single ended, it could do with an option to have two doors. It could also do with some inner detail (possibly as an option). As one of the pictures above show, it is eminently suited as a base for space operation, so it could do with an inner wall for an airlock.

The range could also do with some corridors to link them together where they are in use in hostile environments.

Would I buy more, yes, I will probably buy some more, with some of the additional gantries etc.

Now I need to take it all apart and finish and paint it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Colours 2012

Once again I journeyed into the the West, well, Newbury really. It is west of somewhere.

The racecourse was very busy, though a lot of it was due to a Giant Boot Sale, though I did not see any larger than normal footware, though I did see a few people that might have wanted a pair.

After a slight detour to the Atenociti's Workshop (and the purchase of a 'Mobile Turret' - or Spider tank and admiring their forthcoming power armour), it was round to the Crooked Dice stand to buy this month's releases - Troad, Gascoigne and Dr Argus. The nice people there were showing pictures of their forthcoming releases, including the first two Future Freedom Fighters, Argonauts and Talos. Helena was wondering why I wanted three Dr Argo, all I can say is "Argonauts... In Space!

Ainsty supplied their new buggies, drivers and three little droids (and very cute they are too), plus additional resin items.

Warmill supplied a small pod (a build review later). I bought from Empress/Imprint models a BTR80, a FV410 Warrior and another 'Technical'.

Not in the least bit inspired by the previous night's Doctor Who, I picked up a resin Triceratops from Magister Millitum.

The new Wargames Factory plastic female zombies will build up the undead forces for 7ombieTV.
Three examples with May Killan for scale. They are a major improvement on the original Wargames Factory zombies.

I added a couple of Cadet Judges plus a Brit Cit Judge to my Justice Department. Having seen the film, I need to find one of my Dredd figures, and some gangers.

I also bought another Figures In Comfort carrying case, no matter how many I buy, they always seeem to fill up.

Overall the show was entertaining and thanks to those who chatted.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Experimental Weapon

With the base once again under siege from the sinister forces of Doctor Argo, this Time Lift Security Captain was glad of his visit to the Royal Small Arms Factory Enfield, and his choice of the XM64 Storm Gun.
The base figure is one of the original TLS with rifle, the XM64 is a Hasslefree Miniatures V.E.R.A gun.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Work In Progress - UNIT deployment

A UNIT section deploy from their transport, SLRs at the ready.

Crooked Dice Minion with rifles with the Fighting Men heads are lead by a Harlequin Brigadier.

They have had their block colours added, now they need some tidying up.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

CVRT107 Scimitar

Charlie Dare admires her new runabout..

William Killian shelters behind the heavy support called up by his wife...
The CVRT FV107 Scimitar is by Imprint Moderns (via Empress Miniatures).

It is a fairly modern variation, upgraded with numerous boxes and bins around the hull and turret, but lacking the current shopping trolley look of the latest versions.

Like all the Imprint vehicles, it is simple to assemble with minimal clean up (there was a feed block on the bottom of the rear turret bin that needed filing. The kit has a three part hull (make sure you know exactly where the tracks go as conventional superglue sticks instantly with this material - my T90 looks like it has braked very hard), The turret is in one piece with white metal barrel and hatches (a total of seven parts).

Detail is excellent and robust. It could probably do with some aerials.

Not quite the Action Man(TM) tank of Robot fame, but a suitable support for inch high SpyFi.

Next to build, the Imprint Moderns BMP3 (and I might finish the T90).

Deathguard Lord Part three

As previously mentioned, I make haste glacially slowly.
Following on from Deathguard lord 2, here is the latest update on this long running saga.
Most of the colours are now blocked in.

I have a number of icky wounds, veins and pustules still to detail and I need to do a lot of finishing.

I am still not quite sure how to indicate the unnatural decay of the axe, 'normal' rust techniques just do not feel rght.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Dare Sisters

A slightly closer look at the recently released Dare Sisters from Crooked Dice.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


A Technical is normally defined as an improvised fighting vehicle based on a non combat vehicle.

The classic Technical is a Toyota pick up. Imprint Moderns (through Empress Miniatures) do a range of Toyota Technicals armed with a range of weapons (ZSU-23 twin flak cannon, point fifty HMG and recoiless rifle).

The Dare Sisters neutralise a threat to Dare Plane Delta.
Agents Blue and Red investigate a suspicious vehicle.
Sky Pirates advance, with their technical support.
The model is simple to assemble (body, four wheels,grill to protect the back of the cab plus the multi part Zsu-23) and looks the part. It could do with a set of wing mirrors and windscreen wipers.

I will be buying some more of these.