Saturday, 8 March 2014

Whopping Great European Carnivorous Dinosaur Found Near Lisbon!

Woo-hoo!  I do love dinosaurs; and the bigger the better, especially when I can relate to them in my own neck of the woods - i.e. Britain or Europe!

In my daily newspaper a couple of days back there was an article about a brand new discovery: a Jurassic-era carnivore - a Megalosaur-type - which has been named Torvosaurus gurneyi, and was up to 10m (33ft) long and weighed between four and five tonnes.
It had heavily muscled forearms with formidable claws, thick legs, and an elongated skull that allowed for a devastating bite!  The likelihood is that it used sheer brute force, instead of speed or ambush surprise to take down its victims, because its jaws are so huge, and with its razor-sharp teeth acting like multiple knife cuts, it is possible that "TG" took one huge bite out of its prey, withdrew until that animal had bled to death, then came back to get its meal.

The archaeologists say that there is another Torvosaurs, in the USA, but the one found recently in Lisbon is a sub-species which may have evolved when the huge pre-historic continent we call 'Pangea' began to split into the continents we know today, and Torvosaurus in Europe evolved differently to its American cousin.

Whatever, for me, the news fired up my scenario-building juices and I immediately wanted my intrepid "Dino Hunters" to find themselves facing this beasty!  However, there aren't any model Torvosaurs, but it seemed to me that the closest I could come was either the Copplestone Castings model of a Nanotyrannus (a bit of a lightweight model, but, hey, it could be a youngster!), or the Schleich (small) model of an Allosaurus, which, again, isn't a Torvosaurus, but until Richard Deasey and Acheson Creations make one (via their Primaeval Designs range) we wargamers will just have to "make do and mend" as the old phrase goes!
Here's some links if you fancy the models mentioned above: (Allosaurus) (K11 Nanotyrannus in the High Adventure range) (28mm Dinosaurs range)
I've got a whole box full of various manufacturers dinos, and spent a pleasant half-hour re-acquainting myself with what I've got "in stock"... but I didn't have a Schleich Allosaurus, so I soon made a quick order at Amazon!  The Copplestone Nanotyrannus comes as a pair, with some assembly required - and then a bit of 'filling' around the joints.  Mine were assembled several years back, but never painted, so that'll keep me busy for the next couple of days, till I receive my pre-painted Allosaurus.  More news on this scenario in a few days...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Milton Keynes Wargames Club - Annual Show - "Campaign" 2013

Last weekend (11th/12th May) was "Campaign", the annual wargames show from the Milton Keynes Wargames Club  Which is my local club ... (if I ever went to one - because, of course, I'm a confirmed Solo Wargamer!)

The show has been held in Middleton Hall, in 'thecentre:mk', which is the trade-mark of the city of Milton Keynes shopping centre, (or 'mall' for my American friends!), since 2001.

Some shows / years are better than others; and this year it was "alright", but there were nothing like as many traders as in previous years, and, I thought, not as many participation games...though I might be wrong there.  However, the demo / participation games that were present were very good!  One that was *really* innovative was put on by Peterborough Wargames Club, and involved suspending (models of) an invading force of Napoleonic hydrogen-filled "war" balloons, carrying French troops, across the English Channel and being repelled by British 'Rocketeers', firing huge firework-like rockets at the invaders!

Peterborough used a net suspended across a garden gazebo to hang the balloons onto, moving them a few 'net-squares' at a time, representing their flight towards Britain, and had participants aiming at the French balloons using a really "Heath Robinson" aiming device!  Unfortunately, the photos I took of this game don't do it justice, but I trust you'll appreciate the innovative concept!

So here is just a selection of photos I took on the Saturday.

A view of the Show on Saturday morning.

The pillars holding up Middleton Hall, in the shopping centre are *not* bowed! It must be a parallax problem with my camera!  Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre (now known as " thecentre:mk " was the largest shopping centre in Europe, when it was built in the 1980s
Peterborough Wargames Club Napoleonic invasion of England by "war" balloons!
It's a bit difficult to see in this pic, so see further photos below.
The Heath Robinson "Angle of Shoot" device for the rocket propelled British artillery.
Peterborough Club members used expanding / retracting car aerials lined up on those white 'protractors' using the angle participants had set as the trajectory, to represent the "fired" rockets. Simple but effective!

This and the next photo show the ingenious way the Club made the French balloons. The 'balloon' itself is a water tank ball-valve float, and the personnel baskets are literally small, florists baskets suspended beneath the 'balloon' with a central plastic rod and fine string. 'Direction' is by 'rudders' aft of the basket.

In this photo, you can just make out the fine-mesh net suspended across the top of the gazebo.

Tring Wargames Club.
A WWII "mini-game" in 20mm - Arnhem 1944
Huntingdon Wargames Club.
WWII in 1/32nd scale (mostly Tamiya models) Stalingrad 1942/43

Another view of the battle for Stalingrad around the railway yard.
Members of the English Civil War re-enactment group "Prince Rupert's Blew Regiment of Foote" from the Sealed Knot Society. (Note: The spelling of "Blew" here is the 17th century spelling)

Another view of the 'Campaign' and the huge Middleton Hall in thecentre:mk Shopping Centre

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

In the beginning...

In the beginning...
                            ... was, "What's the title of this blog going to be?"  Along with agonising over the 'design' and 'look' of it.  I just hope I've got it about right, because this is the start of a new adventure for this old wargamer... blogging!

Though, presently, I'm not quite ready to "go public", as I want to get a lot further on with my 'mountain of lead' - painting the figures, animals, transport, and making up the "scenery", ready for photographing and writing the narratives to accompany the 'pics' of my wargames - and only then will I think I'm about ready to make my first 'public' blog.


I started wargaming 40 years ago, with Airfix WWII plastic soldiers and kit-built tanks and transport.  In fact, originally, I'd been going to build a model railway, based on a fictitious town and station on the Kent coast, during WWII (World War Two).  I'd hoped to model the railway complete with Southern Railway troop trains trundling through the station, and a platoon of Home Guard, ('Dad's Army' types, like in the BBC TV comedy of the same name), guarding the station and goods yard against the expected German invasion.  Hence my interest in WWII, and my awareness of the Airfix model soldiers.

But I didn't have enough space in my (then) home for even a small-ish model railway, so the idea fell flat... until...

Back then, my local toy & model shop had a board displaying local adverts, one of which caught my eye... "Come and Join Our Wargames Club!" proclaimed the notice.  "Wargames?" I thought, "What are 'wargames'?"  A brief chat with the enthusiastic young shop assistant, who was also a founder member of that wargames club, had me off on a whole new venture.  No longer a model railway, set in WWII, instead, a start was made, there and then, with Airfix kits and model soldiers, to build a WWII British Army and join the local wargames club!

However, within a few months, the 'new venture' hit the buffers (railway pun intended!), when the local wargames club turned out to have more than a few weird lads who were hell-bent on winning the games, any way they could.  'Historical accuracy' wasn't a problem for them, like bringing on Tiger tanks for a France 1940 scenario; and 'rules' meant what they wanted, like moving their platoon slightly further than the distance for the move given!
I soon got brassed off with that kind of gamesmanship, and left the club.

Disgruntled, but still keen on my new hobby, I was in my local library when I came across a copy of the book 'Solo Wargaming' (published in 1972) by that prolific wargames author, Donald Featherstone... and the rest is history!

I've never wargamed with a club since, but had the most wonderful time as a Solo Wargamer from then on.  Now I had time to read up on my subject / period, unconstrained by club deadlines to get figures painted for "next month's games", and I could write my own rules, scenarios, and even - the best bit - the characters who would move across my table in search of their enemy / their objective / their prey, or whatever my game included!

However, this has resulted in a "lead mountain"; because, with only myself to please, and no time constraints, each new year brought new "toy soldiers" onto the market and new genres that took my fancy, like Pulp Fiction, 18th Century Pirates, and new scenarios like 'Bog-a-Ten' / Land That Time Forgot.  My hobby room shelves groan under umpteen box-files of unpainted wargames figures in 15mm, 20mm, and 25/28mm - all bought with a crackin' idea behind the purchase, but years later and still not painted!

I have: 20mm WWII British and German companies, c/w with armour, transport, artillery, (Airfix, Lamming, Hinchcliff, and some who's origin I no longer remember!), 15mm Pirates (Peter Pig figures from the 1990s), with resin pirate ships by, the now defunct, 'SDD'; and 25mm/28mm figures for 'Darkest Africa' campaigns, Pulp Fiction games, and 'Prehistorics' (Cavemen for want of a better term!) together with a multitude of wild animals...

But... over time, all of these will "get an outing", on my wargames table and on this blog.

So that's the end of the beginning... now... where did I put that '000' paintbrush to add the eyes to those Victorian characters!