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….

Wondering about Jaguars…

Reportage Bundeswehr Kanonenjagdpanzer, Munsterlager, KTrS III [Munsterlager, Truppenübungsplatz in der Lüneburger Heide]

In one of  my previous articles on Team Yankee I did say:

I think it would be nice to have seen the Kanonenjagdpanzer, but you can’t have everything.

What I hadn’t realised when writing the article that as part of the German releases, Battlefront have released the Jaguar Jagdpanzer Zug.

Jaguar Jagdpanzer Zug

The Jaguar 1 and Jaguar 2 were German Raketenjagdpanzer (rocket tank-hunter) tank destroyers armed with anti-tank guided missiles.

The Jaguars were converted from Kanonenjagdpanzers, so in theory you could spend some time converting the Jaguars back. One issue would be adding the main gun back, probably more challenging to remove the applique armour.

As this is alternate history, you could argue that the existing Kanonenjagdpanzers were upgraded with applique armour.

Challenge would be more of a tactical issue playing games with these tank destroyers, as the 90mm gun of the Kanonenjagdpanzer was ineffective against contemporary Soviet tanks of that era.

The British are coming…

Two columns of British Army Fox armored combat reconnaissance vehicles drive along 17th of June Street during the annual Allied Forces Day parade. The "Siegessaulte" (Victory Column) is in the background.

…in the meantime let’s take a look at the Germans.

One thing that I thought that Battlefront would do when they released the Germans for Team Yankee was that they would do a minimal release and was pleasantly surprised by the range of models they did in fact bring out.

With the initial releases for the US (and Soviet) I was slightly disappointed with the limited number of models that we got. Though we had the M1 Abrams, we didn’t get the M60A3 MBT.

Two M-60A3 main battle tanks move along a road during Central Guardian, a phase of Exercise Reforger '85.

It felt like a really limited release, so when I saw that Battlefront were going to release German and British forces my expectation was that we would get a limited number of vehicles. So to get thirteen sets for the Germans compared to the seven for the US was really refreshing.

I did like the Raketenwerfer model, something very different.

Raketenwerfer

I also was pleased to see the Marder too.

marder

I think it would be nice to have seen the Kanonenjagdpanzer, but you can’t have everything.

Reportage Bundeswehr Kanonenjagdpanzer, Munsterlager, KTrS III [Munsterlager, Truppenübungsplatz in der Lüneburger Heide]

As a result I have higher expectations for the future British releases. I am hoping to see the following models release for the BAOR forces.

I would like to see both the Chieftain and Challenger 1 main battle tanks, but if the American releases are anything to go by then we might only get one tank and I suspect that will be the Challenger.

I think we might also see the light tanks or armoured reconnisance vehicles the FV101 Scorpion and FV107 Scimiatar. They are very similar vehicles I can see how we could have both. The Scorpion and the Scimiatar were part of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family. As they shared common automotive components and suspension I can see how easy it would be, if we get the Scorpion we could also get other members of the CVR(T) family such as the Spartan armoured personnel carrier (APC).

FV103_Spartan_IFOR

As well as the Sultan command and control vehicle, Samaritan armoured ambulance, Striker anti–tank guided missile vehicle and possibly even the Samson armoured recovery vehicle.

The main British APC in 1985 was the FV432 APC so I suspect that may be a likely contender for a model. 1985 is a bit early for the Warrior IFV that entered service in 1987.

In terms of artillery, though the British will probably get the M109 it would be interesting to see if we get the FV433 Abbot SPG. If we get the FV432 then we may get the FV438 Swingfire variant (as well as other FV430 series variants).

We already have the German Tornado, so no surprise if we have an RAF version.

I would also like to see, but don’t expect to see various British armoured cars such as the Humber Pig, the Ferret armoured car or even the Alvis Saladin Armoured Car.

Humber Pig

So what do you think we will see for the Team Yankee releases for the British?

Image credits: Wikipedia and Battlefront

British Normandy Village Defence

British armoured forces defend a Normandy Village under a counterattack from German Forces.
Churchill and Humber Armoured Cars
A Sherman Firefly takes cover, behind a small hill.
Sherman Firefly
The rest of the Sherman platoon starts to move forward.
The rest of the Sherman platoon starts to move forward.
Models from Simon’s collection, scenery from mine.

15mm Normandy Village

More photographs of my 15mm Normandy Village for Flames of War.
15mm Normandy Village
You can imagine that this would be the view from the gun camera of an RAF ground attack Typhoon attempting to flush out some entrenched Germans. You can see I have used the outbuildings to complement the Flames of War Normandy houses.
15mm Normandy Village
Here is an overhead view of the buildings.
15mm Normandy Village
As well as Battlefront roads and houses, I also have in there some of the nice 4Ground laser etched wooden buildings.

15mm Normandy Village

I am quite pleased now with how much scenery I have now for 15mm Flames of War games.
IMG_0013
As well as Battlefront roads and houses, I also have some nice 4Ground laser etched wooden buildings.
IMG_0014
There are also K&M trees that are now quite old, but have stood the test of time, I think they must be nearly twenty tears old!
In addition and not shown in these pictures, mainly as they are not finished, are some Total Battle Miniatures 15mm ruins.
I look though at my grass tiles and think they are a little too bright, they might need some work in the future.