This year our summer holiday led us on a trip around Scotland and we also spent a night in the city of Edinburgh. During our first stroll through the city we passed by Wonderland Models just by coincidence, as they call themselves: the „largest model specialist in the country and one of the largest in the world“.
Of course I had to go there and I can say this is definitely the largest exclusive model shop I have ever been to. Wonderful not only to look at pictures but taking boxes into your hands, feeling the weight and reading the texts. The sheer amount of models was mind-blowing. A modelshop doesn’t have to be this big but I wish there would still be more model shops around. Very often even the big department stores don’t offer scale models anymore. Wisely enough Wonderland Models also has an online shop: https://www.wonderlandmodels.com/
Of course I could have ordered there online but buying in store just felt so good. These three just had to be. 🙂
After finishing all the Cold War Americans, this F-86 Sabre from Airfix was sticking out its tail right from the top of the pile of shame. According to plan it was supposed to be finished druring the last summer holidays. Now, last Sunday, after getting to it, it went rather quickly. However, I didn’t bother much with painting details. Maybe I will add some more later. Major work was putting on the decals, what was like open-heart surgery at some points.
This also completes the display in my glass cabinet with the Airfix Mig-15 and the 1/200th counterparts from the Mig Alley! box for Blood Red Skies.
Last night I finished the six Humvees. The sight of these and having some more time during quasi-quarantine brings me in the mood of replaying some C&C Generals. 🙂
The Team Yankee HMMWV Platoon box contains six models which can be built with all important weapons options for the basic M998: M2, Mk19 and TOW launcher. In the end, I decided to built two of each. First I thought about not to glue the pintle mounts to change weaponry according to scenario requirements but then decided not to bother around with small parts flying around.
Painting was fairly easy. Here I used the Team Yankee NATO spray as a primer without any other basecoat, brushed on the camouflage scheme and used the same filter as on the LAVs (MIG-1506, Brown for Dark Green). Here again some spots turned whitish and I had to fix that up with some camouflage green by brush. The rest was Nuln Oil and some details.
As for the LAVs, I had a 1/72 counterpart, from Dragon this time, which I finished about one or two years ago.
The comparison between the two models shows that the M2 on the 15mm Humvee is ridiculously long. I hope to find some better scaled M2s in the future and will change them then. The storage equipment on the 1/72th is from the same set as the LAV-25’s. I also changed the original wheels from the box for some rubber tyres from a company called Calibre72. This was the first time I ever used products from the second market for scale models. Until back then I had no idea how big this market is. Hobby indulgence without end! 😀
This LAV-25 and Humvee share the same fate. Bought, built and primed in 2013 they rested in a cupboard for more than five years. When the Shame in ‚Pile of Shame‘ became just too big, these were about the first models to be finished. Most of my 20mm stuff that was intended for wargamining I sold some years ago but I kept these for a diorama on my mind.
The first group of vehicles is finished: 4 LAV-25 and 1 LAV-AT. They only still need some varnish but I will do this when everthing is finished. And one of LAV-25s still needs a commander figure and a MG.
This was the first time I ever used a filter on models to smoothen the contrast between the colours of the three colour camouflage scheme. Generally the result was really good and much better than expected but in some spots and lines (Where the filter pooled, I guess!) the NATO green faded to white. The black and brown colours were not affected. I fixed that with the shade of Nuln Oil but some areas still look off colour. The final touch was a drybrush with Zandri Dust.
Last year I already finished a Trumpeter LAV-25 in 1/72th which now served as an example for the scheme and details. This one was a nemesis of mine which rested in my shelf unfinished for years.
This model is a relict from pre-Team Yankee times when I planned Cold War tabletop with models in 20mm scale. Now this one is supposed to become part of a diorama set in the Twilight:2000 universe. Another project waiting to happen! But for now, five (good as) finished LAVs is a fine result to finish an evening.
2019 marked my return to scale model building. Though I built several Revell, Trumpeter and other kits in recent years, it was always with wargaming on my mind, usually tanks in 20mm scale for Coldwar gaming.
In 2017 I met an experienced scale modeller whom I showed some of my wargaming stuff and he asked me to take part in a scale modelling exhibition in our vicinity (Maple Leaf, Brühl) to present some of my minis and models. On the one hand, I didn’t feel well with the idea. Scale modelling and building for wargames are truly two different disciplines. While wargamers usually want to put up a big army quickly, commited scale modellers put much effort into details („No, no, these oil stains are too far away from the exhaust pipe!“) On the other hand, I couldn’t get the idea off my mind. The release of MiG Alley!, the expansion for Warlord Games‚ Blood Red Skies last year, put a new light on this.
This was my plan: Bring some tabletop wargaming to a scale model exhibition and invite people to play MiG Alley! there. At the same time I wanted to present a MiG-15 and F-86 in scale.
But time told me another story and I just couldn’t finish my projects. Anyway, as I was told, the interest in wargames at scale modelling events is usually rather low. So I presented an Airfix MiG-15 in 1/72th there and that was it. Next time I also might have finished the F-86. ;-(
When I was a kid I built a lot of scale models but never put much effort into painting them. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with the hobby and some of the old models still exist… back in the darkness of some dusty cupboards. And that’s the problem with scale models: After building you can do nothing with them, except displaying. Ok, one or two of them went boom with a cracker… but those were the days. I guess this is why scale modelling is rather unpopular among young people nowadays. In wargaming displaying gets a meaning. The true fun starts with playing and testing your models against opponents. As for me, circumstamces brought me back to scale modelling and I have plans for the future.
Airfix? Wargame? Maybe playing a wargame with your old plastic figures and tanks from old childhood memories? That was my first thought when I read about Airfix Battles for the first time. Well, this is not exactly it but it comes close enough.
First of all, Airfix Battles is not really Airfix but Modiphius, probably better known for roleplaying games. Maybe the producers were just clever to use the Airfix logo on their game to get more attention. (It worked!) Otherwise, Airfix Battles could be just another wargame which would work quite well without the logo. But as the author, Chris Birch, once said in an interview, he also had thoughts about childhood memories when he created the game.
For several decades the brand Airfix was a synonym for the hobby of scale modelling. I think in most boys‘ rooms there were Airfix-planes, -ships, -tanks or -figures. But during the 80s their success declined as scale modelling became less popular. Only in recent years, Airfix was sold to another company, the brand is more on the go. Maybe this a reason why they let Modiphius use their logo on their Introductory Wargame.
Airfix Battles is a simple to learn wargame which can either be played with the cardboard counters from the box or with plastic soldiers and tanks from any company. Of course Airfix figures in 1/72 scale (20mm) are recommended but I made another choice, which I will explain later. The game includes two 59,0 x 41,5 cm two-sided poster-maps on thick paper as well as buildings and obstacles on cardboard counters. All information about units are printed on so-called Force Cards, which go to the players‘ hand. This way stats and special abilities don’t have to be kept in mind. Preparation for a typical game takes only a few minutes time.
The rules are easy to learn with a scenario-based tutorial system. Ideal if you want to play with kids (As long as they know enough English!) or people who don’t have much experience with wargames. But also experienced wargamers will have a lot of fun with Airfix Battles. However, some limits of the gameplay will become obvious after a while if you are used to more complex games. A lot of reviews are already around on the net (e.g. boardgamegeek.com). No need to repeat that but here are two aspects of the game I would like to single out.
This is not a new idea in a game but adds a lot to the fun of Airfix Battles. Usually a player knows the opponent’s possible moves and by counting and calculating can plan his own moves. Command Cards bring the element of surprise. Each player has a certain number of these cards which grant Special Orders, which are unknown to your opponent. This brings more tactical options, for example, some cards give the option to move further or move AND shoot, what is usually not allowed. Some cards work as Interupts and can be used any time during your opponent’s move. This way the usual ‚I-go-you-go‘-conecpt is broken up. But of course, that means, luck and coincidence play an even greater part in the game.
The Valour Counter is only a small detail in the game but the idea is genius! Only one player can own the Valour Counter at a time. If you have it, you can decide to re-roll a roll of any number of dice. After that the counter goes to your opponent, who has this option now. The second roll has to be accepted. In our games the Valour Counter already contributed to a lot of fun. When bad luck strikes again there is at least a second chance.
Figures and models
Airfix Battles is recommended to be played with the cheap and easy to get figures from Airfix, Revell or similar companies. Using figures adds a lot of fun and depth to the game. However, I felt 1/72 (20mm) is too big a scale for the maps. The houses look too small in contrast to figures, tanks would use up more than a single square on the map. As a cosequence I decided for 1/100 scale (15mm) models. A nice side effect: When storing the game components, they use much less space.
For infantry I use figures from The Plastic Soldier Company, which offers a wide array of choices for a reasonable price. For tanks and vehicles Zvezda offers very nice models in 1/100 scale for their own World War II wargame. These are cheap, easy and fast to build and do not necessarily have to be painted. The choice of models in this range is limited but it is growing and if still not available, models can still be purchased from The Plastic Soldier Company or Flames of War.
Airfix Battles is open for a lot of expansions which will hopefully come. Additional Force and Command Cards are available from Modiphius and new material was published in Modiphia, Modiphius‚ new free house-magazine. The first two editions offered new scenarios and cards for home-printing. Modiphia is available by download via drivethrurpg in pdf-format.
Airfix Battles is a great game. It brings back memories from a long time ago. Frankly, a lot of childhood memory revivals end up in disappoinmtent (e.g. TV shows, ice cream). Airfix Battles did not disappoint me and brings new worthwhile memories and fun in form of building new models and having great gaming sessions.
Experienced players will definitly see the limits of the game mechanics but, nevertheless, playing can still be fun when there is no time for larger games. Airfix Battles could also be a nice choice for fathers and sons to find a common interest and for introducing friends to the world of wargames, who did not have the luck to play such games, so far.