Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Back to Mars!

Good God man - has it really been a year since a dispatch was last posted?  We were adrift in the Aether you know while dispatched on Her Majesty's service, but have now returned. Indeed a new VSF project beckons but I'll keep Mum for now as it develops - wouldn't want the Kaiser or the Tsar to get word of it.   But it does involve Mars, Airships and gashants with a few of those new fellows down at the club providing some inspiration and opposing forces...

In the meantime, some news regarding that mysterious and boreboding planet:

The Coming of the Martians

The Coming of the Martians is our full-cast faithful audio dramatisation of H. G. Wells’ original 1897 martian invasion story The War of the Worlds.
Since it was first novelised in 1898 there have been numerous adaptations in various media formats. However, none of these derivative works have been truly faithful to the original story or the tone that Wells established.
Our adaptation, presented as an audio drama in surround sound, retains the dark and often horrific nature of events and faithfully recreates scenes as closely as possible without the need to alter the original story. We retain the late 19th Century period and the southern England setting and give the story a fantastic cast of actors wonderfully directed in a production that sounds incredibly realistic!

BBC is making a Victorian-era War of the Worlds TV series

Earlier today, the BBC announced a number of new shows, including a three-part series based on H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. The show is scheduled to go into production next spring, and it appears that, unlike most modern adaptations, it will be set in the Victorian era.
The series will be written by screenwriter Peter Harness, who adapted Susanna Clarke’s Victorian-era fantasy novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for the network, as well as a handful of Doctor Who episodes. The North-West Evening Mail has some additional details, quoting Mammoth Studios Managing Director of Productions Damien Timmer as saying that while the film has been adapted many times, “no one has ever attempted to follow Wells and locate the story in Dorking at the turn of the last century.” The project was first announced in 2015, and today’s confirmation of production comes only months after the book entered the public domain. 
The novel follows an unnamed narrator as he watches a series of shooting stars, which turn out to be vast metal cylinders containing Martian invaders. The aliens attack the assembled humans and begin a conquest of the planet, only to succumb to human diseases. 
The War of the Worlds is one of the more important works of science fiction out there, and its period setting is important to the original story, as it’s part of an entire movement of fiction dubbed “invasion literature,” in which England is gallantly defended against hostile outsiders. It will be interesting to see how and if the series addresses the politics of the novel’s era, and how they relate to the politics of England and Europe today.Since the novel’s release in 1898, there have been a number of film, television, and radio adaptations, but with only one exception, most productions updated the novel to contemporary times and settings. The 1953 film took place in Southern California, while the 2005 Steven Spielberg adaptation was set in New York. Even the famous 1938 radio play by Orson Welles shifted the location to the United States. Only a direct-to-video adaptation called H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds retained the period setting. 

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

VSF One Man Dirigible

This screw powered one man dirigible is a VSF delight to battle foes in the Back of Beyond, over the Red Planet or as some sort of diesel punk version of the Gyro Captain from Mad Max 2! I found this kit in the depths of the Man Cave where had lurked since purchase. The Flight bonus round gave me the impetus to give it the attention it so richly deserves.
The model is a resin and metal casting from Tobsen Miniatures in Germany, who do some fantastically crazy and wacky stuff: https://shop.tobsen77.com/en/  (https://www.facebook.com/Tobsen77.de/) He also sells the characterful pilot figure and the customer service is excellent (including overseas postage & handling). Maxim gun and the backpack/ammo pouches are from my spares box.
The countersunk magnet in the base made for a very neat connection

I spent an overly long time trying to be clever by magnetising the base for easier storage, to reduce damage and so I can use the flying base for a multitude of other models.  I had mixed results but at least it is serviceable and (mostly) stable.  Probably a good height for lighter plastic models but I'll make some shorter tubing for metal contraptions like this one.

So lots of fun and this model is highly recommended!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

The Fighting Retreat to Dusters' Drift

Our Colonial game this week was a LOT of fun!  It saw a British Column, led by the 3rd Foot & Mouth Regiment (Major Backsight commanding) conducting a fighting retreat to the small logistics base at Dusters' Drift. Opposing them were the Impis of Zulu noble Oomagooglies (the Zulu King's cousin twice removed, on his mother' side).

  I've done something a bit different and stitched together a video of the after action dispatches!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

"We come on the orders of the Great White Queen!"

My Imperial Force
As promised, here is the British and Boer forces for the Zulu war.  The British Cavalry bore the worst of the damage to their lances and swords but otherwise this whole thing is a testament to the wonderful Testors' dullcoat - and always use two coats! The lad helped me build this - my first wargaming video. Its a but self indulgent but it was fun to make For those who prefer stills, here are the key ones.
24th Foot: The Thin Red Line
The 60th Rifles
Stout lads of the Naval Brigade - with Gatling Gun!
Fire support of the Royal Artillery
Breach loading 9pdr - note the VC on the right most figure (painted on during a game in which this gun, down to the last man, held off and then broke the last Zulu Regiment to claim the day!)
British Cavalry - 17th Lancers and Hussars
Boer Irregulars
Hoping to get them onto a table for some action shortly!
Lord Chelmsford and the senior staff

Monday, 27 November 2017

"Zulus Sah! Fousands of 'em!"

Massed warriors (around 350 of them)- how a Zulu Impi should look!
This is a post some 24 years in the making. Some time ago I quite enjoyed Colonial gaming and the Zulu War was my conflict of choice.  Some mates and I put together armies in 15mm and had a great time.  Early in 1994 I had a major life change and the figs were packed away.  I've since moved house some 18 times and the figs have remained opened; the awful noises that came from the box made me shy away.  Then last week when there was interest at the club about doing some Colonial gaming and I realised I (might) have all the figures.  Depending on how they fared at least. Here is what greeted me once I plucked up the courage to open the Zulu Box...
The Horror... The Horror...
And after 23 years this was the sum total of damage - other than bent spears and knoberries which needed reshaping
The vast majority of these figs, if not all, are from Essex 15mm colonial range
I love the warrior in the bottom right corner wearing a captured British flag as a trophy!
And if one of going to cross the Buffalo River into Zululand, you need some terrain to fight over right?
Semblance of a small veldt hamlet named after an Irishman
British tentage and a Kraal
Next Up: The British and their Boer allies.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Nemo's War 2nd Ed Arrives!

A year without a post here at the blog? Goodness me, what was I thinking? Entombed in a submersible vehicle with a mysterious Captain of unknown origin I was. Lucky I have now resurfaced with the arrival of Nemo's War 2nd Edition - and worth waiting for it was too!

I'll do a full review in due course but first impressions are: WoW! The opponents are fantastic and this game has gotten the warranted lavish attention it deserves. Its clear from the multiple victory conditions, difficulty levels, upgrade options, counter mix and large card deck that this game has lots of replayability too.  Games are reported to last 1 to 1.5 hrs in length.

Non KS backers will appreciate that the vast majority of rewards were realised in upgrades to the core game, so with the loss of only two token bags you get everything else. One particularly nice addition is the plastic Nautilus model instead of a counter.  Pics of some very nicely painted ones are appearing at BGG and with only the one model to do it wont take as long as your other wargaming forces!

And finally, I really liked the attention put into the ship counter mix.  The Warships are all historical with accurate silhouettes etc, building a greater level of enjoyment than generic Frigate/Cruiser etc. And I was thrilled to see a certain Victorian Monitor make an appearance!

And finally, this new edition has a co-op version allowing it be be expended from solo play up to 4 players. Haven't tried it yet but it sounds interesting - I love coop games.

So first impressions are: Well worth the wait! And there are already rumours of booster packs being developed by the authors with additional cards, motivations and crew counters...

EDIT: A rumour no longer - play testing has already commenced!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Naval Hotchkiss revolving cannon

I have previously posted about the Hotchkiss Revolving Cannon (here) design along with pics of a nice museum piece.  Yesterday I came across a nice example of a Naval version on a pedestal mounting at the Royal Australian Navy's Heritage Collection at the Garden Island naval base, in Sydney.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Sail Trek

In the spirit of Steam Trek (here) - well worth a giggle!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Fort Philip

The hexagonal Fort Phillip on Windmill Hill c1891-1921 (NSW State Library)
Standing high on Windmill Hill above The Rocks, Fort Phillip was one of the initial fortifications built to defend the colony.   It was named after the founding Governor of the Colony, Admiral Arthur Phillip.

Construction began in 1804 (after the Dawes battery was completed, see previous post) in a hexagonal design to protect from threats coming from the ocean to the east, and the hinterland to the west.  The walls were made of locally quarried sandstone several feet thick.  However, with 3 walls completed, construction ceased and the fort was never finished.

The original Fort Phillip design

The Fort repurposed to a Signal Station c1842 (NSW State Library)
Though the guns remained there until the 1820s after which it languished.  In 1840 the land was considered more useful as a signal and telegraph station so the Fort was mostly demolished and repurposed. One wall, which still stands today, was converted to serve as the semaphore station's platform and the rest was levelled in the 1850s for the construction of Sydney Observatory which remains there today.
The redesign of the Fort area to become the Observatory and Signalling station

The fields of observation from Windmill hill are excellent, but the range for 19th century ordinance would have been challenging (Note this is a Krupp cannon captured from the Boers, part of a South African War Monument on the site)
The remodelled Signal Station, incorporating part of the original outer walls
The outer wall of the Signal Station - original from Fort Phillip
Outer North Wall - original sandstone revetment 
The excavated magazine entrance inside the original Fort

Excavation work in 2011- this view shows the use of the original wall as part of the semaphore station, and the entrance to the magazine.

The Observatory (with Timeball Tower atop for synchronising marine chronometers)

A relatively minor site, but one that the lad and I enjoyed visiting on a sunny summer day.




An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!

An exploration of debauchery, vice and other reasons to be a man!