Monday 31 August 2009

Mountfitchet Toy Museum

I took the kids to Stanstead Mountfitchet yesterday and visited the Toy museum there. This is the largest private collection of toys in the UK and well worth a visit. For men of a certain age (and women to) there are lots of "I had one of those!" moments.

There is quite an extensive collection of Star Wars toys and memorabilia on display including several full sized outfits such Dark Vader and this Storm Trooper.
This Interceptor Fighter from the TV series UFO was one toy I had as a kid and brought backs lots of memories.
Amongst the toys there was also a lot of items of Militaria such as insignia, medals and documents. I was also intrigued by this copy of P.F.Westerman's "To the fore with the Tanks!" c.1935. This is a collection of adventure stories in the same style as the Biggles books.
The museum also has an extensive collection of toy soldiers of various sizes.
The collection also includes a large number of Action-Man figures and accessories.
This was a very enjoyable museum with lots to see and plenty of facinating objects amongst the toys.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Orc rap

The Dagenham Dungeon Delvers met for the first time in 12 weeks on Friday (real life keeps getting in the way). It didn't take long for our hardy band of adventurers to get themselves into a tight spot...possibly a terminal one.

Having stumbled into a fight with a sizable groups of arcs under the command of a dark elf we tried to retreat. However we then found ourselves outflanked with orc reinforcements arriving to block our escape route. At this point negotiation would have been a good idea... so instead we attacked!

It might be timne to consider what we want for our our next PC's.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Space Hulk returning soon

I've been reading with interest the news that Games Workshop are working on a new version of the old classic, Space Hulk. The new edition is slated for release on 5th September 09 and from the details released so far it looks mighty fine. This got me to thinking about all the great games that I played in my younger days that were released (or co released) by Games Workshop.

One of my favorites was Curse of the Mummy's Tomb. This was a multilevel board game which came with a set of nicely sculpted metal miniatures of Adventurers, Archaeologists and of course a Mummy. In fact I think I still have some of these models. As I recall putting the board together was a skill unto itself.

Another game I played was Blood Royale. This was a complex multi player, battle and resource game based in medieval Europe. I found the game a bit heavy (lots of marrying off of daughters to make political alliances) myself but with the right group of players it could be great fun.

Perhaps at the opposite end of the scale of strategy was Chainsaw Warrior. This was a solo play game that did the rounds amongst my friends for a while. It was good fun but as a solo game it lacked the 'social' element that made other games more enjoyable. Another game with a simple concept was Dungeonquest. This game still has a strong following online and I have my original copy lurking in a cupboard somewhere.

Probably one of the best games I played however was Fury of Dracula. I recall games being fast paced and frantic. Like Dungeonquest it was designed for 2 to 4 players and it proved so popular that it was re released in 2006 by Fantasy Flight Games.

There were also a whole raft of other GW games that my friends and I played at one time or another. Oi! Dat's My Leg! was a 'fun' game aimed at younger players. Rogue Trooper was a cool game based on the Blue skinned genetically enhanced warrior from the pages of the Comic 2000AD. Super Power was a complex resource attainment and strategy game with impossibly tiny game pieces.

Talisman is probably the most successful board game to come from the GW stable. Still going strong, many of my friends still have copies of this game. It spawned a whole series of supplement boxes and was re released last year by Fantasy Flight Games.

I've whetted my appetite for a few of these old games and I think I'll have o find my copies and introduce my kids to them. It certainly beats watching TV.

Friday 28 August 2009

Military Odyssey this Weekend

Over the next three days (29th to the 31st August) the Kent Show Ground in Detling, Kent, will be hosting the Country's Largest Multi-Period Living History Event. As well as reenactors there are also hundreds of Traders selling goods ranging from clothing, insignia, ephemera, militaria, historical collectables, uniforms, pottery, glassware, books, jewellery, badges, medals, muskets, bayonets, historical costumes, swords, de-activated firearms and lots more.

Here are a few pictures from previous events and a taster of what to expect this weekend. I'll be there at last one day over the weekend (probably Monday, weather permitting) and of course will post my pictures and any video on this blog. If you can get to Detling this weekend I heartily recommend it as a good day out for all the family.
Gates open at 9.30am (PRE PAID TICKETS 9.15am) with Arena Events commencing at 10.00am

Thursday 27 August 2009

Ultimate Painting Station

A Spanish company is releasing what will probably be the coolest painting station of all time. Check out their web page and watch the Flash animation of case being opened.
It will retail at about €245.00 Euros ($350.00 USD) so it's a little above my budget... but when I win the Lottery...

Darkmantles are Fun

I like Darkmantles. As monsters go these are quintessentially D&D as far as I'm concerned. Utterly random and emotionless they lurk in the Underdark just waiting for an unsuspecting adventurer to pass below them.

These dark fleshed, octapoid looking creatures hide on the ceilings of caves and look for all the world like a Stalactite. Using echolocation just like a bat they find their prey and when it passes below them they drop down wrapping their tentacles around the head. The article Weird & Wonderful Darkmantles on the Wizards website provides variations on the Darkmantle (for 3.5e) that make this creature much more deadly and difficult to deal with.

I used Darkmantles against my players during the last campaign I ran. The PC’s were exploring a dank and fungus filled cave of stalagmites and stalactites. The group were attacked by group of four Darkmantles which cause chaos and much muffled screaming for the duration of the battle.

Here's an extract from our campaign journal describing the climax of the battle.

"Runc leaped forward, and began to tug wildly at the creature covering Karisima but as they fought that one the other three Darkmantles launched themselves up from the floor.... As the party fought them and cut into their flesh so the blood splashed about – burning acidic, it did as much damage as the beasts themselves.... Eventually three of the creatures were killed, leaving the last once covering Asgar.

Already the former farmhand tuned ranger had dropped to his knees, his air having been cut off by the constricting creature about his head. It was causing him to blackout. In a concerted effort the group directed their attack, and finally cut the creature from Asgar’s head. But the blood from the creature covered the already unconscious man."

This battle was only meant to be a small distraction in the larger exploration of the caves but it proved to be one of the more memorable moments in the game. And the moral of the story for all GM's? Never underestimate the entertainment value of turning one of your players characters blue from asphyxiation.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

The Myths of D&D

I just read an article about the myths that seem to linger around D&D like a bad smell. Since the dawn of time (well the 70's which is close enough) there have been certain myths about the first and best roleplaying game that just won't die - even when hit repeatedly with a +5 Vorpal Sword.

Some evangelical Christians for instance, consider D&D a breeding ground of evil and think of the rulebooks as literal guides to satanism.

"Dungeons and Dragons is a tragic and tangled subject. It is essentially a
feeding program for occultism and witchcraft." (
One of the classic examples of this warped thinking is the comic strip Dark Dungeons. As a relatively normal person and a life long D&D player I found it hard not to laugh myself into a coma when I read this strip. But when you take a step back and look at this as a piece of religious propaganda it takes on a much more chilling aspect. One of the best rebuttals of this sort of garbage that I have read is on the lilith ezine website.

Another propagated myth is that D&D players are more likely to turn into deranged killers unable to tell the game from reality. This myth almost certainly stems from the by now famous case of James Dallas Egbert III who went missing in the steam tunnels below the campus of Michigan State University. Much of the press reports at the time suggested that Egbert was "lost in the game" and attributed his suicide attempts (eventually successful) to the influence of D&D. The 1982 film Mazes & Monsters starring Tom Hanks was largely based on this inaccurate and sensationalist reporting. The truth however was much less glamorous and involved a troubled youth and an overbearing farther. Two excellent reviews of this case can be found here and here. I'd also recommend reading this essay.

But surely these sort of ill informed attacks against a game loved and played by millions worldwide are a thing of the past? Unfortunately not so. Only last year there was uproar in the Roleplaying community when a member of John McCains election staff took a side swipe at D&D players. Portraying gamers as socially guileless nerds is still popular it seems, despite that fact that D&D has some illustrious players - Stephen Colbert, Ben Afflek, Judy Dench, Robin Williams, Moby, Mike Myers, Mat Damon, Wil Wheaton, Vin Diesel, Joss Whedon and Jack Black to name but a few.
Rest easy folks, were in seriously cool company!

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Loot Whores

How many times have you played a roleplaying game where the Loot has become more important than the story? When was the last time a fallen companion was allowed to go cold before you nicked their favorite magical weapon or pulled the rings from their not-yet-stiff fingers?Loot, rewards, XP... these are central to the way games like D&D work. It is through the attainment of riches and XP that characters develop and rise in level. But does this make the DM a glorified pimp in a cynical game of acquisition?

The term Loot Whores is used a lot in MMRPG's like World of Warcraft. The forums seem to be full of threads discussing loot and its acquirement and the effect it has (both positive & negative) on the game and game designers. But as a traditional roleplayer I know the term Loot Whore has been around longer than computer games. Ever since the first D&D game players have been rewarded with gold pieces and magic items. Indeed in the Basic D&D game gold equaled experience points.

The attainment of loot seemed to take a back seat during 3rd edition D&D (at least it felt like it to me) but has had a resurgence with 4th Edition. The latest version of the game is definitely 'High Magic' and as such even low level players need to acquire magical items in order to survive and prosper. Indeed compared to earlier editions the amount of magical items required to maintain 'balanced' characters is much greater. Personally I'm not keen on this. I prefer a low magic setting myself but 4th edition has effectively removed this as on option.

I'll end with a few words from the Evil GM : "I still want magic items to be special - something to quest after and treasured when obtained (My Precious...) but the approach of 4e is to make them disposable upgrades, when you get your flaming sword +2 you sell your +1 sword and use the cash to help buy another. Magic items are commodities rather than rare rewards.

Of course it is still possible to run a low magic/low loot campaign, as long as you bear in mind that the PC's are relatively weak compared to what the game designers assume when creating monsters. Hence you need to either pit your PC's against foes of a level or three lower (which in turn will slow their advancement from the expected norm) or drop defenses/attack bonuses etc to compensate. It's still possible, but takes much more work. Mind you, 4e lends itself very badly to a low magic campaign anyway so perhaps the point is moot."

Monday 24 August 2009

Wargames Illustrated 263

I've just received my copy of Wargames Illustrated for September - Issue 263. As a subscriber it comes through my door before it hits the shelves (not sure when the official release date is). Once again I'm impressed with the quality of the articles inside its covers. This months issue focuses on WWII North Africa starting with a 10 page analysis of the battle for Tobruk. There are is also a show report from the Battlegroup South event at Bovington in July that is making me kick myself for not getting there. All the articles are lavishly illustrated with colour photos and detailed maps that make this a pleasure to read. I know some people considered the acquisition of WI by Battlefront to be a disaster but IMHO the magazine has gone from strength to strength.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Werewolves redesigned

I've mentioned my D&D Campaign setting here a few times and regular readers may have noticed I like to change established rules and assumptions. This was particularly true for my approach to werewolves and the cure of Lycanthropy. This was partly dictated by the fact that one of my players was infected by this disease and I wanted to retain a little mystery by redesigning the accepted definition of a werewolf.

(Source: Wikipedia - German Woodcut 1722)

Pure Werewolves (those that have been infected in the normal way i.e. A bite) normally know what they are after their first turning. They have no control over the change, it happens at set times. Euda has no moons but there is none the less a mechanism that periodically causes the victim to change roughly every 28 days.

Half-breed Werewolves are the offspring of a werewolf (untransformed) and an uninfected human. Half Breeds may grow to adulthood unaware of their true nature. Most succumb to the 'infection' at puberty although the stronger willed may unconsciously resist the disease well into adulthood. Once they turn, like true werewolves, they have little control over the change. However they are not limited to a 28 day cycle and can change at any time, usually in times of stress or danger, or when the urge to feed overcomes them.

Hereditary Werewolves are the offspring of Half Breed Werewolves and carry the infection in their blood all their lives. Because the disease is 'diluted' some may never succumb to the contagion. Others will turn at puberty. Occasionally victims will spontaneously succumb to the infection in times of extreme stress or danger. But there are no hard a fast rules here. For those that do change however the result is similar to that found in Half-breeds. However most Hereditary Werewolves do not initially know that they are werewolves. Its almost as if the 'wolf' side of their personality will not consciously reveal its true nature to the 'human' side. For some Hereditary Werewolves this strange double life can go on for years or even decades.

For all werewolves the transformation is more than just a change of shape. Regardless of their human alignment all werewolves act like animals in relation to their prey. They do not differentiate between friend and foe and have no conscience or morality to stop them. For the Pure or Half-breed werewolf, aware of their true nature, this can prove a terrible burden that drives some to madness and others to suicide. But Hereditary werewolves may never know their true nature and in this they are fortunate in that they are usually unaware of the horror they have become.

Traditionally Lycanthropy is considered incurable. Death by a magical silver weapon is the best one can hope for. However some powerful clerics and Mages believe a cure may be possible for half-breed or hereditary werewolves. Indeed I made the search and attainment of the 'cure' central to the development of the Player Character involved in my campaign.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Turquoise Serpent

Here's a random picture from the vault. I took this on a trip to the British Museum in 2007. It is an wooden armament probably worn across the chest during ceremonial occasions. It measures 20 cm by 43 cm (8 in by 17 in) and dates to between 1400-1521.
"Serpent imagery is common throughout the religious iconography of Mesoamerica. The serpent is associated with several Mexica deities including Quetzalcoatl (Feathered Serpent), Xiuhcoatl (Fire Serpent) and Mixcoatl (Cloud Serpent) or Coatlicue (She of the Serpent Skirt), the mother of the Mexica god Huitzilopochtli.The habit of snakes to shed their skin each year probably led to them being used to convey ideas concerning renewal and transformation. Likewise the ability of many species to move freely between water, earth and the forest canopy helped underline their symbolic role as intermediaries between the different layers of the cosmos (underworld, earth and sky)." (Source: British Museum) Aside from being a beautiful piece of art its also a powerful symbolic object that can be used as inspiration in many different RPG games. This could be a magical artifact in a D&D game or a priceless religious icon in a HEX game. There are many more objects like this in the Mesoamerican section and together they form one of the highlights of the British Museum.

Friday 21 August 2009

Panzer book review

I bought several books from the bring & buy stand at the To the Redoubt show in Eastborne last month. One of these was Panzer: The Armoured Force of the Third Reich by Matthew Cooper and James Lucas. The book discusses the grand tactical ideal or Armoured Idea as devised by Guderian and others in the pre-war years. The main conclusion of the book is that the German High Commands failure to grasp or fully support the Armoured Idea crippled the Panzer divisions from the outset and ultimately ensured Germany's defeat in the war as a whole.

Starting from the pre war years the book looks at the development and use of the Panzer divisions throughout the war, through the rise (Poland, Flanders, France & the opening of Barbarossa) and eventual fall (North Africa, Russia & Western Europe) of the Third Reich.This chronological discussion of historical events was in and of itself quite interesting but it was the interpretation of command decisions and their effects on operational success that proved most interesting.

During the Russian Campaign for instance it is argued that the faults in structure, equipment and leadership were of little consequence so long as the initiative lay with the Wehrmacht. But when the invasion went on the defensive all these faults combined to make defeat almost inevitable. In short so long as the war was a war of maneuver Germany had the upper hand but when it because a war of defence the Soviet unions massive advantage in terms of manpower and equipment ground the invaders down. (Source: )
This first half of the book is followed by a chapter on the Organisation of the divisions and another detailing the equipment used. The book then concludes with a series of chapters that look at the Panzer group (Kiev Encirclement) the Panzer Corp (The Gazala Battle), the Panzer Division (The Thrust to the Channel) and the Single tank (Wittmann at Villers Bocage).

I found this book very readable and although it contained lots of statistics and troop numbers etc it was never overwhelming (this isn't a technical manual). Indeed the use of information such as production levels and divisional numbers are only used to illustrate the conclusions of the given section or chapter they appear in. Overall I found this a very good starting point for my understanding of the Panzer Divisions of WWII. My only gripe with the book was the lack of an Index which makes this hard to use as a reference source. However the Bibliography is very good and would make an excellent place to start when considering further reading in this fascinating subject.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Classic Dragon Joke

I found this on the Internet the other day. I'm sure this was featured in 'Dragon Magazine' many many years ago when they had the 'Dragon Mirth' section still in the back. It still makes me chuckle and one of these days I'll have to recreate this scene in my D&D campaign.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

More Hollow Earth with HEX

RPG News dot com announced a new supplement for the Hollow Earth Expedition game that I talked about a few weeks ago.
Mysteries of the Hollow Earth™ is a source book that expands Hollow Earth Expedition with even more details about the mysterious and dangerous Hollow Earth, filled with hungry dinosaurs, ferocious savages, and lost civilizations!

This looks like a fun game with plenty of elements from my favorite B Movies.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

When Zombies Attack

According to the BBC a recent study has concluded that a zombie attack could overrun the world.

"If zombies actually existed, an attack by them would lead to the collapse of civilisation unless dealt with quickly and aggressively."
The study "When Zombies Attack! : Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection" was carried out by students at the University of Ottawa. Personally I'm quite happy that research grants are being spent like this. So when the inevitable Zombie Plague hits we will be fully prepared to respond to the new threat. I'm guessing that a dose of Tamiflu won't be much help though...The pictures by the way are from the comedy film "Stag Night of the Dead" co-staring one of my friends (and fellow gamer) Rez Kempton.

Sherman's & Destroyed Buildings

I finally finished two small projects for my growing 15mm WWII collection for the Flames of War game. The first is a unit of Sherman's. These resin miniatures came with the Open Fire boxed set and were fairly easy to paint. All the painted armour is in Brown Violet (Vallejo 887) with the tracks picked out in Gunmetal. After the details (such as crates and baggage) were painted the whole model was given a light dusting of dirty brown.
The Decals were the hardest part as they were very small and delicate.
I also painted several destroyed buildings. I bought these resin miniatures at the Redoubt show a few weeks ago and was able to make six buildings with the parts I got.
I glued the resin pieces to some plasticard and then glued sand/gravel to the inside floor areas.
I then undercoated in my customary black. All the brickwork was painted using drybrushed terracotta (Game Colour 65) and Gory Red (Game Colour 11) with a final brush of Dark Flesh tone (8). Inside the buildings the broken plasterwork was picked out using Bone White (Game Colour 34) Elf Skin tone (Game Colour 4). Again a light dusting of Dirty Brown helped give a weathered look. I also found some Nazi Propaganda posters on the Internet which I downloaded and reduced to a suitable size for 15mm. These were fixed using simple white glue and then outlined in dark ink.
The final stages on both Tanks and Buildings was two coats of Vallejo Gloss and a final coat of Testors Dullcoat to give a flat finish.
I'm quite happy with how these turned out and now all I need to do is "arm twist" a friend to play against me!

Monday 17 August 2009

Too Cool for School

I've mentioned before my love of 'mock' Motivational posters and here's another I recently found on the Net. Unfortunately the caption is very very true.

Painting rubble

Its been a busy weekend, hence the vacant post yesterday...

On Saturday my wife & I had a pleasant day 'book shopping' in Rochester (Kent). It was our 17th wedding anniversary and decided to treat ourselves to a day out without the kids. Bliss. I love my kids but you just can't go book shopping with young children. We both picked up a few bargains, mine included a history of the German Panzer division Das Reich and its infamous march across France to meet the allied invasion after D-Day.

Yesterday we took things easy in the garden and I used the opportunity to get a lot of painting done. I was finishing off a couple of painting projects including a set of resin Sherman Tanks that I got with the Open Fire boxed set of FoW rules. I also worked on some destroyed buildings I bought at To the Redoubt. I got as far as the first Varnish but still need to apply a coat of Dullcoat (Testers) and then a little flock/grass to finish off. Once done I'll photograph and post the pictures on the blog.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Present Arms 09

The Miniature Armoured Fighting Vehicle Association (MAFVA) Essex Branch are running the Present Arms military modeling & wargames show today. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it but if your in the area this show should be worth a visit.

Friday 14 August 2009

Regrets, I have a few

I like the motivational posters you can get on the Internet. This one made me laugh because it sums up for me the quintessential gaming experience....
Like the time I forgot to move my biggest baddest unit in a 40k game... and only noticed when I tried to use it to fire on a target that was outside its fire arc. Or the countless times our D&D group decided the GM wouldn't possibly pit us against an enemy we couldn't defeat... ignoring the subtle hint to turn back.
Recognising significant moments in a game is almost as hard as it is in real life. The turning point in a war/campaign/battle is rarely obvious until after the event. Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Beating a Hasty Retreat

Brave Sir Robin ran away.
Bravely ran away, away!
When danger reared its ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat,
Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

He is packing it in and packing it up
And sneaking away and buggering off
And chickening out and pissing off home,
Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge...

The Ballad of Brave Sir Robin (Monty Python: The Holy Grail)
So when is a good time to beat a hasty retreat in combat? Knowing when to retreat (IMHO) is closely liked to being able to identify clear tactical objectives when battle commences. When those objectives clearly can't be met it's time to rethink or retreat.

I was going to write a scholarly post about battlefield decision making in RPG’s. I could have discussed the need to keep a close eye on the groups resources and recognise the point at which they become inadequate to the battle. I could have discussed key indicators of imminent defeat such as when 50% of the group are down or out of a fight. Or I could have mentioned that any battle in which a one or two rounds go past without the group causing any damage is a major indicator of imminent failure.

Instead I asked for some ideas from my gaming group and got the following suggestions:

  • When the DM can't keep the grin off his face when he says "roll for initiative"
  • When the GM starts looking more worried than the players
  • When your PC is the only one left standing - and you're holding the loot.
  • When the first Kobold has taken 56 points of damage and still doesn't look worried
  • When you realise you actually missed on the last attack, you tell the DM so he can undo the damage you caused and he says "don't worry, it doesn't make much difference"
  • When you defeat your enemy only to find reinforcements chatting amongst themselves in the wings.
  • When the only spell component you have left is half a bayleaf and some navel fluff.
  • When you realise there are more enemies facing you than arrows in your quarrel.
  • When the PC guarding your flank goes "arrgh...thump"

Been there. Done them all. Rolled a new PC!

Wednesday 12 August 2009

One Line NPC's

Whenever I run (or play) D&D I find it's the incidental characters that provide the 'colour' to a scene. Not every NPC needs to be a fully fleshed out and stat'ed character. In fact its become a bit of an in-joke that the GM needs a name for every person encountered, no matter how insignificant. Some GM's can make up an NPC on the spot with little or no preparation but I like to have at least something fleshed out in advance.

I came up with a simple list of 'One Line' NPC's. Basically each NPC is described in the simplest of terms (Location, Name, Race, Occupation, Description, Character). Enough information is available for the GM to portray a seemingly 'real' character and form the basis of a more detailed description if that NPC becomes more important to the unfolding story.

Here are a few examples of Simple NPC's I have used in my own game:
  • Market, Eyrion, Dwarf, An entertainer, Thin, Talkative
  • Market, Yarenrian, Human, Peddler, Scarred, Knowledgeable
  • Market, Qarrian, Dwarf, Poet/minstrel, Stout, Very Helpful
  • Citadel, Ilonrian, Human, Guardsman, Filthy, Arrogant
  • Citadel, Atjtur, Human, Guardsman, Tough looking, Quiet
  • Palace, Malanyon, Elf, A groom, Well dressed, Knowledgeable
  • Palace, Quanuard, Human, A noble, Very obese, Calm & Aloof
  • Trade Quarter, Errian, Human, A Fletcher, Young, Likable
  • Trade Quarter, Malwen, Human, A glassblower, Neat, Morose
  • Trade Quarter, Quanam, Elf, Innkeeper, Refined features, Friendly

For me the biggest advantage of a prepared list like this is consistency. I can craft some simple characters that fit with their location and the message I want to convey. This sort of NPC is easy to prepare, quick to develop and helps give a location a sense of 'realness'.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Damyns Hall Military Fair

On Sunday I went to a local Living History event run by The Military Vehicle Trust. The MVT celebrated its 40th anniversary this year and is dedicated to the preservation & conservation of all forms of military vehicle. The MVT also raises money for ex service personnel and has close links to the British Legion. The show was larger than I had expected and will almost certainly become a regular event in my calender.
Aside from lots of Living History groups there were also a group of veterans meeting and talking to visitors. There were also a group of traders on the site. One item that caught my attention was this 1944 MP's helmet selling for just £30.Another eye catcher was this PkwIII. I'm not sure if this was an origional or a replica but it certainly looked good. I've posted the rest of my pictures on Picasa.

Monday 10 August 2009

Damyns Hall Military Vehicle Rally - Video

Yesterday I took the family to a local Military Vehicle rally at Damyns Hall Aerodrome in Upminster, Essex. This is less than 5 miles from where I live and to be honest I knew nothing about this event until a few days ago. I assumed from the little I learned that this was going to be a modest event but I was very very wrong. Tank rides, living history, displays, traders, flying displays and helicopter rides and loads more. I took a load of pictures and should have them available to view soon. In the meantime here's a couple of great video clips of the tank display.

The first is a newly restored US 'Hellcat' Tank Destroyer.

The second video is a British 'Scorpion' Lt Tank.

I'll post the rest of my pictures when I have finished processing them.

Sunday 9 August 2009

V1 Flying Bomb

I shot this bit of video of the replica V1 at the Muckleburgh Collection while away on holiday and was trying to remember where I'd seen another on display.

There's an original V1 in the Imperial War Museum in London and another at Duxford. Both are originals rather than reproductions.
I'm not sure if this V1 is a replica or not but it is displayed very effectively at Eden Camp in Yorkshire. I took this picture in 1995 (long before the advent of the Blog).
The thing I find fascinating about these machines is that while they represented the cutting edge in rocketry in the early 1940's, up close they just look so primitive. Not only that the explosive yield of the V1 seems ridiculously small for the expenditure of resources and manpower.

I'm currently reading about the creation of the Panzer regiments and the authors (Matthew Cooper & James Lucas) argue that the early Panzer regiments were under resourced, poorly developed and that the vehicles themselves were not all that superior to the British & French tanks. This didn't matter at the beginning of the war when the Germans caught pretty much everyone with their pants down, but later in the war this proved a crippling deficit. The new generation of heavy tanks (the Panthers and the Tigers) came along too late and in too limited quantities to turn the tide against the allies. Meanwhile money and effort was being squandered on projects like the V1 & V2.

I recently listened to a radio article (on Radio 4) about a new 'history' of WW2 in which the author insisted that the war was winnable for the Germans but for one essential factor: Hitler. The ultimate weakness of the National Socialist state of the 30's & 40's was its despotic leader who regularly ignored the advice of experts and for whom political fanaticism had replaced pragmatism. This was what ultimately proved the undoing of the Third Reich.

For me the V1 and of course the V2 illustrate this perfectly. While I can marvel at the technological achievement one cannot help but think what would have been the consequence of redirecting all that effort and science into developing existing weapons. Had such material effort not been wasted on these and countless other projects - pursuing some deluded vision of Aryan superiority - what would have been the consequences for history?

Saturday 8 August 2009

Assault on Park Lane

Although I am primarily a roleplayer and wargamer (and painter) I also enjoy a good board game as well. One of my favorites is the classic Monopoly and I played this last night. I'm normally pretty good at this game but last night I discovered just how bloody the game could be!
Here's the sad bit... I was playing against my Niece (aged 12) and my daughter (aged 13). I was slaughtered with such cold blooded efficiency that it sent a chill down my spine. All I can say is if Monopoly is the training ground of tomorrow's ruthless business people then watch out world!