Monday 31 October 2011

AK47 Autumn Assault [19]

I finally got started on the milita technicals this evening, after fending off hordes of trick or treat sprogs and entertaining the street with an impromptu firework display. I found an old bx of fireworks and some bangers that I brought back from France in the summer, so thought I'd make good use of them. I managed to singe various extremities in the process but it went down well with the management, which has to be a good thing.

Anyway, I've decided to go for the rusty bucket look on the trucks, following the same approach that I used for the Back of Beyond improvised armoured cars. I've only done the initial three stage Foundry Tan wet and drybrush thus far but I think it'll look good in the end, once the detailed bits are painted in and the extra weathering and washing has been applied.

Civil War Battles in Cornwall

I found this in a second hand bookshop in Tavistock on Saturday. It's one of those books that you never seem to be able to find but which pops up when you least expect it. I've been after a copy for a couple of years and now have one.


It's an early Richard Holmes work, so the writing is in his usual informative and readable style, with a good foundation of solid reaearch. I've already identified two Parliametarian regiments in the 1643 campaign that I wasn't aware of, as well as a troop of Royalist dragoons attached to the Cornish Foot in 1643 that I'd previously missed.

An excellent addition to the bookshelf.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Lost World Safari

It's now five years to the day that I started the Lost World Safari Yahoo Group, mainly to stir up some interest in Chris Peer's Saurian Safari dinosaur hunting rules, which I had recently picked up for peanuts on ebay. I couldn't find any other groups that dealt specifically with Saurian Safari, so decided to set one up myself.

It's now got over 300 members including the usual sleepers but also some very active regular contributors, who keep things ticking along without me, as I have drifted away from dinosaur hunting as a gaming interest over the years. I still occasionally dig out the figures for a game and have plans to do more in the future, including Submarine Safari, but I have other things on the go that have taken up my time.

Anyway, if you  fancy joining yet another yahoo group and have an interest in prehistoric hunting expeditions, you can sign up over at:

Happy Birthday!

Saturday 29 October 2011

AK47 Autumn Assault [18]

The last bits

Colonel Mpongo and his less than fragrant bodyguard
This is all that stands in the way of completion of the AK47 dictatorship army. I have another twenty or so bases of professionals with APC transport to do but they're not essential, so can wait a little bit longer. However, the casualty markers, the militia technicals and the commander base have to be completed to make the army fully operational. This is the objective for the end of the week.

Then it's on to the bases!

Friday 28 October 2011

Darkest Africa Nkonde [6]

We're off home tomorrow but I've managed to scrape together one more unit of sixteen warrior spearmen, ready for undercoating when I get back. I have another unit of spearmen, a unit of elite warriors and a unit of archers to base up, as well as the individual figures and baggage. I'm going to leave these until the last of the AK47 bases are done and dusted, hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday 27 October 2011

El Dorado?

I've been mulling over the mileage for the Darkest Africa project today. It's going to take me quite a lot of time and effort to get the project up and running, which is something I've allowed for in the plans that I've made for the Nkonde and other potential armies. I'm hoping to use the Nkonde in their own right but also as allies to a small British African Lakes Company force, with potential for a gunboat and other goodies later on.

However, I've also been thinking about the ways in which I can stretch the terrain that I plan to make and that I've already got, thanks to Saurian Safari and Legends of the High Seas, to other situations. One thing that I've always wanted to game, for example, is Chris Peers' Land of El Dorado campaign rules, as set out in the Foundry Compendium and Wargames Illustrated. The Foundry Conquistadors have always been on my wish list but, without an excuse, I've resisted temptation thus far.

I've had a flick through the El Dorado rules and lists to see what might be possible. A small force of twenty to thirty Conquistadors is well within affordable range, especially if I can pick up some packs of TAG or Foundry figures at Warfare in a couple of weeks time. I've also got about twenty Copplestone Botocudo amazonian tribal figures left over from the Saurian Safari project that could be bulked out as opposition.

I'll have to see what I can scrape together over the next few months but it's one way to give the Darkest Africa project even more room for development. If I'm going to spend time and effort scratchbuilding more jungle, swamps, rivers and pitfalls, they might as well get plenty of additional use. It also gives me an excuse to re-watch Aguirre: Wrath of God again, which can't be a bad thing.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Darkest Africa Nkonde [5]

We've been pretty busy over the last couple of days so it's taken me a while to get the next unit cleaned up and based. I was surprised by the time it took to clean up a single tribal spearman but the casting lines seem more visible on the semi-clad figures than on normal ones, so extra effort is needed to smooth out the surfaces.

As a result, I've decided to scale down the size of the units from an impressive twenty four figures to a more manageable sixteen. This will cost me about one hundred points but I'll still be able to field a good five hundred points if I include all the extras. I can also add another spear armed warrior unit at a late date to make up the numbers if needs be.

Next up will be a second spear armed warrior unit, which is the equivalent of sixty four points. I'll add the spears, as I have already to the unit I've completed, but the peculiar Nkonde shields still need to be sorted out. This will have to wait until I get back to civilisation.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Cornish Commanders

Over the last couple of days my attention has been wandering back to the 28mm English Civil War project that I started to stockpile stuff for last year. Ho hum.

This is an attempt to build a Royalist and a Parliamentarian army in 28mm for the early campaigns in Cornwall, including the battles of Launceston, Sourton Down, Braddock Down and Stratton, although it might also stretch to Lostwithiel in 1644. I have plenty of infantry, artillery and cavalry for this ambitious effort but, as yet, no command figures for the likes of Grenville, Slanning, Trevanion, Robartes, Ruthven and Hopton, to name a few of the key players.

However, I spotted a couple of the old Foundry ECW command packs on Dave Thomas's ebay shop today that would fit the bill very well. The first contains mounted figures for Hopton, Grenville and Waller, whilst the second is a generic command pack that could be used for some of the other key regimental commanders of the campaign. I'm hoping they'll fit alongside the Warlord figures that I already have.

Monday 24 October 2011

Darkest Africa Nkonde [4]

I cleaned up and based the first unit for the Nkonde today, which took the form of a sixteeen strong unit of tribal musketeers. This was relatively quick to do as no drilling or gluing of bits was required. In the lists for the generic villagers I'm not allowed to have any musketeers before 1875, only ten before 1885 and a maximum of one unit of sixteen thereafter, so firepower will be at a premium.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Coin Cleaning

I've packed a big back of two pence coins to use as bases for my Darkest Africa Nkonde villagers. I always use two pence coins as they're just the right size for 28mm figures, don't cost very much and are nice and stable. I also always stick the figures on the heads up side due to my republican (with a small R) sympathies, which is probably a treasonable offence but makes sure that the figures are nicely glued in place.

Anyway, as I need about 150 coins for the Nkonde I've had to grab as many as I could find down the back of the sofa and various other unsavoury places. Usually I only select the nice new shiny ones as the superglue and PVA seems to stick better to a cleaner surface. The ones I'm using this time, however, are far from shiny, so I've had to launch a big financial clean up operation.

I've used Cillit Bang to soak them in and it's done a very good job. I reckon that Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and George Osborne could learn a lot from Barry Scott. In fact, I think he should be immediately promoted to head guru at the European Central Bank. I'm sure he'd clean up the Greek financial meltdown in no time at all with a quick squirt of Cillit Bang!

He can't do much worse than the aforementioned so what's to lose?

Friday 21 October 2011

Off to Cornwall

It's half term at last so we're off to the folks in Cornwall for the week. I've packed the essentials, in the form of a neat little box of 28mm Foundry Darkest Africa figures for my Nkonde army, together with the knife, files, glue, cutting mat and other paraphenalia I need to start cleaning and basing them up.

I'll also be packing the In the Heart of Africa rules, plus a couple of articles by Chris Peers on the slaver wars in Nyasaland that I printed from the Foundry site a while back, before they were pulled by whoever decided that the words Free and Foundry were incompatible. I'm sure they're available somewhere else on the web but, if not, drop me a line and I can send you a copy.

I'll also be taking a couple of books to read and the Waterloo rules that arrived in the post this afternoon. After a quick flick through, the general impression I'm not often seduced by flashy, glossy fluff packed rules but these are a work of art and obviously a labour of love by the author. I'll have to see how they stand up after a decent read through.

In the meantime, the AK47 Dictatorship army is now over-spilling from the shelf above the workbench and will have to be tackled on my return. I've added a commander base with bodyguard so it's pretty much complete, with only a couple of units left to paint up. However, I need some sort of permanent storage solution as a matter of urgency, otherwise it'll end up on the garage floor sooner rather than later.

AK47 Improvised Armour

You may have seen this 'thing' over on TMP yesterday but, just in case you missed it, here it is in all it's improvised glory. I'm sure I have a toy bulldozer somewhere that I could convert into something like this for my militia technical unit. It would just need some plastic card cladding together with some bits and bobs from the spares box to turn it into an improvised armoured battering ram. I'll have a look when I get home and, perhaps, put something together this evening.

Thursday 20 October 2011

Darkest Africa Nkonde [3]

I found a couple of packs of Darkest Africa Tribal Casualties on Ebay yesterday to add to the box of figures that I'll be taking down to Cornwall at the weekend. They're not strictly necessary for In the Heart of Africa but, for aesthetic purposes, will look a lot better as casualty markers than little dice, pebbles or other random detritus. I've also stocked up on Perry 40mm wire spears, so should have more than enough to kit out the four units of twenty four spear armed warriors.

The shields are a different matter and will require a bit of lateral thinking. The Nkonde used thin rectangular curved hide shields, which no one makes 'off the shelf' as far as I'm aware. I'll probably try 0.5mm sheet plastic card, heated in boiling water then bent around a former to create a curved profile. This can then be sliced up into 15mm x 10mm rectangles, or thereabouts allowing for the curvature of the surface. If that doesn't work, it's back to the drawing board and whatever else I can bash together.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

AK47 Autumn Assault [17]

I finished the heavy weapons bases, together with the crew bases for the AT guns and the rocket launchers this evening. I now have the technicals, the casualty markers and the professionals to paint up, although the latter could wait until later on. I'd like to get everything done by mid November, however, as I'm itching to get started on the Darkest Africa stuff.

Warhammer Historical Waterloo

I'd been thinking about getting another set of rules in the Warhammer Histoical sale, having already bought a copy of Kampfgruppe Normandy a couple of weeks ago. It's really hefty, by the way, and packed with loads of background information, sceanrios and other useful stuff, not just for the rules in the book. Well worth it for the reference material alone.

Anyway, I succumbed to temptation and have ordered Waterloo for half the normal price, just bringing it into the realms of affordability. I have a whole load of plastc Victrix and Perry early war French and British boxed sets that I was given for my birthday a couple of years ago. They've been sitting on the garage shelf for a rainy day, with the intention to use them for either Black Powder or Sharpe Practice.

Now, they may well get additional mileage with the Waterloo rules as the basing looks compatible with Black Powder and, quite possibly, with Sharpe Practice as well. It's a long way off but, at the very least, the Waterloo rulebook will give me some valuable guidance through the minefield of Napoleonic uniform colours, organisations and tactics.

I'll have to finish painting (and reinforcing!) the bookshelf though.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Russian Civil War Skirmish

I had a go at using my Whites against my Bolsheviks the other day, now that I have two forces for the Back of Beyond to play around with. The Whites are the mercenary troops from my oil expedition and consist of a Garford Putilov armoured car, fourteen infantry and a machine gun, together with a couple of trucks. The Bolsheviks are a fraction of my much larger Red Workers Brigade for the Back of Beyond and, for this skirmish game, I picked a unit of eighteen infantry, an Austin armoured car, a machine gun and a Nieuport 16 aircraft.

As you can see, the Whites were entrenched and the Reds had the task of ejecting them from their fortifications. In the end, the Reds managed to advance to within rifle range of the defences having suppressed the heavy machine gun with the strafing attacks by the aircraft. The White armoured car then held them off, inflicting sufficient casualties to force a Bolshevik withdrawal. The Reds had their armoured car knocked out by the gun on the Garford Putilov, while the Red maxim was wiped out by it's opposite number, which left the Bolsheviks at a distinct disadvantage.

It was a quick and enjoyable solo game using the usual Contemptible Little Armies rules but it highlighted for me my chronic lack of decent terrain and scenery. I really need to go on a concerted drive to buy or make some decent terrain bits and bobs, especially now that I have a couple of armies to use for both the Back of Beyond and AK47. The latter is something that I really want to tackle as I enjoy scratchbuilding stuff and have virtually no 15mm terrain, buildings or scenery for AK47. I've just got to find the time!

Monday 17 October 2011

AK47 Autumn Assault [16]

I've started, or rather continued, with the regular heavy weapon and crew bases this evening. So far, I've only blocked in the skin tones and the mortars, machine guns and recoilless rifles but hope to get the rest done tomorrow. If I can do a rush job on these, I will then be able to tackle to militia technicals, hopefully by the end of the week.

Sunday 16 October 2011

AK47 Autumn Assault [15]

I completed the ground attack helicopter gunship this afternoon at at last, although I still need to add a few final finishing touches to clean up the paintwork and shiny decals. I was a bit annoyed that the carrier film on the decals has silvered but some decal solution should sort it out. I also need to clean up the paintwork on some of the windows but otherwise it's job done.

Saturday 15 October 2011

Yet More Books

The lady wife put petrol in the diesel Espace this afternoon, which has put a  bit of a downer on proceedings. It's now being towed back home by the AA (the car not the spouse) so that'll be a few quid down the drain, not to mention the £80 of unleaded that's buggered up the fuel system. At least it wasn't my fault, although by some tortuous marital logic, it probably will be.

Anyway, on a positive note, I picked up some excellent second hand hardbacks from the local bookshop and a new Osprey from Waterstones, all for less than £25. I'm particularly pleased with In Limbo: The Story of Stanley's Rear Column, which sounds a bit kinky (fnarr, fnarr) but is, I can assure you, entirely above board. The Osprey is also beautifully illustrated by Peter Dennis, who does the box art for Warlord amongst other things.

Nice :O)

Thursday 13 October 2011

Mlozi's War

The Graphic c1895
Nkonde tribesmen

Mlozi and his Ruga Ruga
I've been following up the research I started on the Nkonde the other day, using Chris Peers' book on Central Africa as a starting point. I've been trying to find pictures of traditional Nkonde villages and settlements, along with anythig of relevance to the period.

In the search for useful stuff, I came across this page from The Graphic, which has some cracking illustrations of the fortress constructed by the Arab slaver Mlozi near to present day Karonga in the north of Malawi. This was a serious bit of field engineering including rammed earth pallisades and loopholes, as described in the Foundry book.

The Armstrong Cannon
The gun used in the attack on Mlozi's fortress also survives although most references are to its use in 1914. It's clearly of nineteenth century manufacture and is an Armstrong breech loader according to the various sites I've looked at. It could be the cannon shipped to Karonga by lake steamer to support the Lugard campaign in January 1889 or, more likely, one of the artillery pieces delivered to Johnson in November 1895.

If you can identify it I'd be very inrterested.

Grand Manner In the Heart of Africa

I was having a look through the Grand Manner webshop yesterday in search of suitable tribal village bits for the Nkonde, when I spotted this pack of colonial gunboat guns and mounts. The Hotchkiss revolving cannon is particularly useful for a French or German gunboat, or as a carriage mounted gun for a German colonial expedition. At £15.50 it's a good value pack as well, except for the postage of £9.00!

I don't think I'll be ordering a pack of guns anytime soon as a result, which is a shame. I'll have to wait until Warfare next month to see if I can get a pack then. In the meantime, I've decided that the Grand Manner village huts aren't suitable for the Nkonde, as they seem to have constructed square or rectangular adobe style buildings with thatched roofing, as far as all the pictures I've seen seem to show.

This is also a pain, as I have two or three of the resin Mangbetu huts already, so they'll have to wait for another tribal style army to turn up. In the meantime, I'm going to have to scratchbuild some square huts for the Nkonde together with enclosures and perhaps a tembe for the big chief to hide in. I'm on the search for inspirational pictures to give me some ideas!

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Back of Beyond Game Report [3]

Yet another defeat for the Texan Oil Prospectors this time at the hands of thre French Trans Asia Citroen Kegresse expedition. The plane went down to ground fire in turn two and the armoured car went up in smoke and flames shortly afterwards. It was just a question of time before the superior numbers on the French side overwhelmed the firepower of the Texan defenders. It was a good game though and I enjoyed it despite getting mauled.


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