woensdag 18 januari 2017

First to Fight - first stop for 20mm wargames interested in the German invasion of Poland 1939 (and some housecleaning)

First up, I'm having a good day, so I cleared the jumbled mess that was the front attic, broke down all of the larger boxes, tossed the broken ones in the recylcing bin and made sure what was left (and will be needed to ship stuff) was put away neatly(ish).

This morning you could not see the floor and it was stacked with boxes and filler material up to the roof. So yeah. I then labelled the first row of boxes with a numbered sticker so Kim can follow the progress more easily when she is up in the attic. That is the first part of my hobby chores down, so now I can grab crate 1, sort in sell/keep and trash, and continue. The plan is to do 1 crate a week minimum so it would be roughly half a year till I have checked and cleaned every single one, with a few to spare, but quite a few crates have very little or non hobby related content so I think I can progress faster then that. Well, best laid plans and all that, so caveat empor......

The now cleaned area will be used to put the stuff I want to take down to sell. (not all at once mind you, just grab this and that and keep listing stuff every night for a while. If I would try to drag a full crate down the stairs with my knee as it is, the next Blogpost you would read would be my obituary, and that would seriously piss me off :P

But this Blogpost is not about that. It's about First to Fight. A general overview and a order review sofar, plus some more samples..

Who are First to Fight? Well, they are a Polish company and they have a nice if wat unreadable website as the translator icon only seems to work for the shop part >> http://wrzesien1939.pl/

 They produce kits for the German invasion period, with period vehicles for the Polish and German forces (and maybe Soviet ones too eventually?) and recently they have released a card based wargame as well that you can use their models for. They have a steady release of roughly 1 new kit a month. Each kit is a well detailed fast build kit in the geste of S-Models (if you have ever bought those).

My most recent order was made on the 9th of January this year as I got a reminder on their FB page that the 3 box discount was about to end. I received a email from them that the order was being processed later that day. Making an order is rather simple, you can just click on the items you want and they put them in a cart (pretty standard stuff) and then fill in your details and pay with Paypal (again, pretty standard). For this particular discount you have to select the discount option in their shop, select how many times you want to use their 3 for 13.99 euro offer and then process the order. You can use the note-boxes to fill in the code and name of the articles that you want. Easy- peasy.

The email you receive will look like this.


I've ordered from them 2 times now. Both times you get this email, and within 2 weeks you receive your items in a sturdy box. You can checkup your order online if you make an account, but the last time I checked was 2 days ago and it was still listed as processing. It arrived yesterday :D


First to Fight doesn't just send you the kit. No, it sends a box with the model and a booklet detailing the vehicle in question and its use during the campaign.....sadly all in Polish. Very neat though.

In this case we are looking at the 4th kit in the series, so a early release.
Basic Panzer 1B sprue, SdKfz 256 parts sprue, a vial of glue (long evaporated as mine was empty other then  a strong plastic glue smell), a toothpick and a decalsheet with 6 white German crosses. Highly detailled yet fast build. Only 1 nit picking point (well, 2), side hatch is closed version only (but can be cut in 2 and opened if needed), and no functioning top hatch so you are going to have to do some cutting as well if you want a commander in the hatch. Which adds some time to the build but is nothing earth shattering now, is it? Also, making the uparmoured variant for the French campaign is just adding a thin sheet of plasticcard to the front (or don't bother).

Sofar, they make 2 Polish trucks, one being the Fiat 621, and they make 2 variants....or do they? Kit 011 has a painting on the front of a truck with a tarp cover, and kit 017 has a open back with a MG mount. But be assured, if you are ever in the shop and want this truck, both boxes have exact the same content.

No more glue and toothpick though :) No decals either, but this problem has been solved according to Braille Scale >> Link so at least you have options. I picked these up for parts, wrecks and captured vehicles so no real problem for me. But FYI :)

Next reason for the purchase is the FtF PaK 36. I have a chronic shortage of these as the Matchbox/Revell Protze with PaK 36 hardly ever props up on our sales groups and for some odd reason people keep insisting on collectors prices for that kit so I own a whopping 1 (one). FtF has solved that problem by releasing this one, two in a box, with crew.
Even with 4 sprues in a bag, it must feel lonely in that large box. You get 2 crew sprues and 2 gun sprues.

 Minor sinkmarks on the underside of the carriage....which you will never ever see, so no worries. Nicely detailed and thin shield, everything looks the part. To make a towed version cut off the legs and pin them in place or use another brand for it, whatever works for you.

Here's a comparison of the gunshield to other brands just in case you are interested

 The Matchbox is much smaller (as it should be, being 1/76 instead of 1/72, but I wasn't expecting such a big difference)  and has almost no detail.

PSC makes the 37mm for the 251, which was unavailable atm, so I grabbed the 47mm Russian which is basically the same thing (is it?) and it looks gooed enough for government work :) (Edit: of course, when I'm just about finished I spot the 37mm gunshield on the 251C. It is only a teensy bit smaller (yes, that's a measurement) then the Russian 47mm shield so no problem.)



The crew.......yeah, about that. I don't buy plastic kits for the figures. Never have, never will. Me and plstic figures never seem to get along, and this one is no exception. This is much softer and bendy plastic (not as bad as Revells Gay Gunners (their 105mm gun kit with horses) or HaT stuff though)
Well, they will go in the spares bin or I'll sell in a lot with my surplus PSC guncrews.

Next up is the 7TP tank. I picked this tank up, not for the Poles, but for police actions against Partisans in Eastern Europe.


 Finally a tank kit that fits comfortably in the box it is shipped in :D


Again, not too many parts. Again, no opening turet hatch but nothing that can't be sorted with some minor cutting work. Since I don't own any S-Models or Minairions T-26, I cannot compare the trackwork to those (everytime its Crisis they are either already sold out or sell out during the show), but I can compare them to parts of the UM kits.



UM in grey, First to Fight in green. The differences appear to be miniscule (good!). This means (to me anyway) that in theory I could use the basic chassis to build the UM AT-1's and not have to spend a lot of time putting together a very fiddly undercarriage, but I will do some more measuring before I'll get to that. Then again if I could have easier acces to S-Models T-26's that might be a better option.

Last but not least., the SdKfz 251A. I picked up 2 of these for use as Forward Headquarters vehicle for France and Afrika, maptable and all, maybe eventually a third for the same goal in 1945 as a batterd survivor. Not sure if I want to pick up a frame antenna for any of these, but we will see

A nicely filled box, and as a added bonus decals for the Poland campaign and several WH licenceplates. As was expected the frame and tracks are seperate as they also do a SdKfz 11 now who shares those basics.

Now, I want to use these with PSC offerings, so I grabbed a 251C kit and snipped off the most important pieces so you can compare them. It's not perfect though (in which I mean my comparison, not the kit, that is gorgeous)

Wheels are only slightly but visibly bigger, and the same goe for the trackunit.

The PSC kit overall is a bit beefier, the FtF one is only a tad smaller, but the difference is almost all in the hood as both fighting compartments are about the same size.

Does this matter? Well, how often will you mix a A with a C or D? The B started production in 1940 and is visually not that different from a A, mostly confined to the nose and removal of the vision slits on the sides of the fighting compartment, so with some minor cosmetic surgery they are just fine for wargames purposes. Unless you are a purist but I highly doubt you would be reading a wargamers Blog to begin with? The C starts mid 42 so you are fine mixing them from that period onwards, but if you stick to the A (or modded to the B) for a command or radio variant and use the C's for the grunts you won't bat an eye at them in the field. At the table I mean.

Right, that is it for today. I'm very pleased with First to Fight as a kit producing business, they make some very fine items that, albeit it focused on the Polish campaign, have plenty of use outside that campaign as some of these items lived long lives well into the war. Service is fast, quality is high, shipping is more then reasonable The magazines are a bit useless to non Polish speakers other then pretty photographs and the painted example, but hey :) Taking advantage of the sale meant I paid just under 6 euros per kit, or under 3 euro per gun plus crew. For a pennypincher like me that is great value.

The upcoming release is the 4CP  halftrack unit and should be out soon.


I'll go and enjoy the sunset now for a bit :) Till next time!


maandag 16 januari 2017

Orlick's Cockroach - Polish Forces - The kits

Right, let's carry on, shall we?

First to Fight TKS-MG and TKS-20mm cannon are meant for the scenario. While I was at it I also picked up a Heller Pzl Karas and a Mastercraft P-7a (yes, it says in Soviet hands, but I will show you why you can ignore that), these are not needed for the scenario but will come in handy if I ever decide to get a small Polish force and I'm more of a fun builder anyway.

First to Fight. New(ish) Polish brand, focusses purely on the Polish campaign and vehicles used by the Germans and the Polish (and maybe someday the Russians?). Clean little kits, well laid out on the sprue, slightly confusing webshop at times, in that changing it to English, it sometimes resets itself back to Polish mid browsing (and I don't read Polish) and when you do that, some things stay in Polish, but no biggie. Here is a top tip for you (you just need a little patience). I see these on Ebay being sold anywehere from 7 to 8 Pounds per box, somethimes cheaper, sometimes even more expensive. If you just want to build one to try it out, go right ahead. If you want to buy 6 or more boxes for your Polish or German army, be patient. On the website they cost 6 euros per box plus shipping (currently many vehicles are on sale at 5 euros per box) but on occasion, every couple of months or so, they have a sale in which you can select 3 kits for 14 euros. I picked up my first lot last year, and again last week. Processing the order can take some time but last time the order arrived in 2 weeks after the purchase was made. With shipping included, I ended up paying 5,60-5,75 euros per kit shipped from Poland to the Netherlands. I assume other countries will have different rates but you can see getting these straight from the source (if you are in Europe that is and you can avoid import taxes) is a much better deal then your online shop.

Anyway, why are they so nice? Let me show you.

It must feel lonely inside that huge box (it's a normal sized box, juts a tiny sprue).

It's a tiny sprue because a TKS is a bloody tiny tankette, of course. My Hyundai Atos is a tiny car, and that is bigger then this tankette.....

Anyway, it's a fastbuild kit. Left track, right track, hull, top, and a few little details like the exhaust and a shovel. A confusing bit is that my TKS-20mm kits both have a Polish sticker on it telling me it is the MG armed version. I'm guessing the only addition to a MG armed version if the even tinier sprue with a MG on it. Since I picked these 2 up at a bring and buy for 5 euros a piece I'm not totally sure so don't sue me, but I'm assuming a MG kit can also make a 20mm version, while the 20mm version of the kit does not come with a MG sprue? <confused> EDIT: TKS-20mm is only Sprue B, TKS-MG is Sprue A+B
It's just my box that has this issue....don't know why but hey, the contents check out so hey.
I will replace the plastic 20mm cannon with a brass barrel one from the 20mm quadflak set from RB models. It's not exactly the same and you need to trim it down a bit, but on the long run spending another 20-30 cents like this will make it live longer. maybe I'm just a brute, but long thin sticks of plasic never survive long here.

Building these will cost you about 1 euro per minute....so you are done in 5 minutes :) Sadly these don't come with opening hatches, but that is nothing a sharp scalpel and a few minutes of work can't fix. Other then that a great little kit and when sourced properly (for those not living in the wargaming Mekka called the UK) cheaper then resin offerings.

On to the air force.

The Blitzkrieg book lists 3 aircraft for the Polish. A Pzl P.11 Fighter, a Pzl 23 and a Pzl 23B.

The Pzl P.11 Fighter was augmented with older Pzl P.7's cause they didn't have much of a choice, they look quite a like and it was the only kit that popped up on the second hand group and it only cost me 3 euros. But Gunbird, I hear you say, that is the Soviet version?

Well spotted! Here, have a cookie :)

Mastercraft kits come in many, many versions of the same aircraft, and the same goes for this one.

9 out 0f 10 times it really doesn't matter what version of kit you buy, as they seem to all come with a full complement of decals for various versions (this is not always the case though!). In this case it comes with Polish, Russian, German (spare swastikas!) and Rumanian decals and they are nice within register. I've never had bad Mastercraft decals tbh, but I can't remember the last time I used them so I cannot give comments on that. So, if you find that the version you want isn't for sale but others are? Check the various websites for preview pics, and it too comes with a multiple of decals, go with the kit with the wrong box art. It doesn't have a pilot though, but I have plenty metal ones to use so I will insert one of them. It might never get on the table, but hey, it will be a fun build, plus I will have to be a bit ingenious with strengthening the landing gear just in case.

Next up is a oldie. I think this box is actually older then I am? Can't complain at 4 euros though.

The venerable Heller Karas. Nice solid box, not that flimsy stuff they have these days.

Some flash on the sprues, but it's very minor. Decals are faded, I can try and bleach them in the sun (just having a laugh here, I don't expect to see any proper sunlight till at least April-May) but I'm not having much hope they will actually will survice bathing and putting them on. Must have some in the spares box, just in case. I'll replace the plastic rear gunner with a metal one, and maybe the rear and bottom MG's with some wire just in case. It's a shame it does not come with any bombs. It would improve the kit immensly so I'm actively on the hunt for some WW1 German aircraft bombs to suit the bill (easy to find in 1/48, not at all easy to find in 1/72 or so it seems)

I did mention above that the book states a Pzl 23 and a Pzl 23B, but don't bother looking at that. The difference is purely in the engine and visually you won't see any difference, so it's good as it is.

This is so far up my wish list it's not funny anymore :)

One day I will build this. Just need a proper T-55 turret, a AA gun chassis and 4 beefy wheels. Every time I see someone link to it I just want to build it some more!



And it is not like this is hard to build or anything. PST, Trumpeter, Ace and now Revell do a T-55. I'm pretty sure I have a old Britannia one lying around that I used the hull for to mount a 40mm Bofors on for my Serbians, so that would be a start. I might be able to find a leftover Airfix British Bofors in my bitsbox somewhere. From there it's plasticcard and 4 new wheels......could nad those off an old truck from the bits box. I can see this working.

Do I have any immediate use for it? Nah (but anything Militia/Rebel related is always good). Is it cool? Like hell it is! :D

(And yes, I should be in bed, but I'm trying to finalise a deal for some Osprey modelling guides for T-34's and T-55's at bargain prices with a local who apparently is an insomniac like me. Well, that and the girls are both sick so I'm on watch.)

zondag 15 januari 2017

Italeri 1/72 Carro Armato M13/40 - a review of the wargames- and standard kit models.

With the Early War in Afrika Battlegroup book imminent, I've been looking around for suitable kits to make wrecks from (as always), and eventually ended up with 2 boxes from Italeri of the Italian M13/40 tank (and a box of the wargames Semovente 75/18 M40-M41 but that played no part in the period the book is for so is set aside for later)

If you like anymore information of the vehicle, please look here > Wikipedia M13/40

The kits come in the standard Italeri box one can open from the sides. I'll start off with the regular kit first.

Italeri kit No 7036 is actually a rerelease from the old Esci kit, and as such, comes with rubber/vinyl tracks. Getting these in the local shop might be a problem as this was released in 2006 and as far as I know, is no longer in the Italeri catalogue so can't be backordered anymore. But you never know, there still may be some in your local shop. I know they can be found on Ebay, and some of my local shops still have them. They tend to charge 10-13 euros for this single kit, but I guess I lucked out because I picked up my copy for 5 euros on the 2nd hand market.

You get 2 sprues, a decalsheet, and a set of rubber/vinyl tracks. The decalsheet is worth it's weight in gold, because sofar it is the only set I have seen that has the Australian white kangaroo on it that they used for the captured versions. I have not been able to find aftermarket set for those sofar, so this is nice to have. Suspension comes in a lot of pieces (too many if you ask me) and the turret hatches can open. According to the Internet the tracks takes superglue with no problem and they are nicely detailed.

Italeri kit No 7517 is the wargamesversion, with 2 basic standard painted tanks on the cover. The very basic machinegun on the turret and the very basic trackwork stand out, but the rest of the tank is nicely detailed.


The single trackunits make building this kit very short work compared to the normal kit. No opening hathces on this turret though, but from the looks of it the top turret box is the same so could be swapped out with the wargames model. I've seen this box online for 10-12 Pounds UK (I've seen listings that noted they had 10+ in stock), but found none with the local retailers. I found this one on the second hand market for 5 euros.

If you want a tank in your Italian forces (or a captured one for the Germans or Asutralians), you can get the wargames version and have a nice deal with these, if you can find them. If you need quite a few more, you are best off looking for the ones sold by wargames companies like EWM who do a resin and metal one for 8.50 Pounds (and sell a command version too) or Frontline who do one for 7 Pounds but is of considerable lesser quality. There are some prebuilts on Ebay as well and they go from 5-15 Pounds. SHQ sells a all metal 1/76 one that goes for 10 pounds. Britannia does one that has open top hatches and sells for 6,50 Pounds, but their qaulity can be hit/miss.

It does pay to shop around. If you are like me and only play 350-500 pts games, you'll never need loads, but for bigger games you will need a few more.

Since picking these up for use as wrecks, I've decided to keep searching locally for a few more and set them aside for a small Italian/ German anti-partisan force. So they won't become wrecks yet :)

zondag 8 januari 2017

Orlick's Cockroach - The scenario

Right, let's first have a look at the scenario. It's on page 47 of the Blitzkrieg book, and a scenario in the standard 1 page Battlegroup format, with a listing of the forces, a minimap, a situation report (and if there are any, scenario special rules).

This scenario is about Polish Lt Roman Orlik and his 20mm armed TKS tankette. It takes place on September 18th during a patrol in the Kampinoska forest, leading 2 other MG armed TKS tankettes. In this engament he spots a patrol of 1 Panzer IVB and 2 Panzer 35(t)s and ambushes them. He first takes out the lead 35(t) and the return fire from the Germans in unable to hit him. He then flanks the Panzer IVB, hitting it in the side and setting it on fire, and after reloading finishes off the 2nd 35(t) as it tries to get into cover.

He then sets off to rescue the crew of the burning Panzer IV, which happens to be commanded by Prince Viktor Ratibor (whom later dies of his wounds). >> The-Prince-and-the-Roman


Anyhoo, this scenario has some special rules:
  • TKS Ace - Orlik gets a +1 to hit when using Aimed Fire
  • Cockroach - Germans suffer -1 to spot TKS when in cover
  • Difficult terrain - Germans suffer -1D6 movement when moving offroad in the woods
  • (optional) - remove the nr 5 counters from the pot.
The TKS Tankette in Battlegroup can be taken as a Tank unit of 3 tankettes costing 30pts and 3 BR. You may upgrade the unit with up to 2 TKS tankettes at +10pts and 1 BR each. You may upgrade up to 2 TKS per platoon with FK-20mm guns at +2pts per tanks, but this is a Restricted choice.

The TKS Tankette can also be taken as a Reconnaissance Support unit of 1 tanks, gaining the Scout special rule, at a cost of 15pts and 1 BR. If you select the FK-20mm version you pay 17 pts and 1 BR instead, but this is a Restricted choice.  The third way to get a TKS tankette in your Polish army list is as a Platoon Support option for the Cavalry Platoon. This is the MG variant only at 10 pts and 1 BR.
With O armour all round, and a max movement of 8"off road and 12"on road  it's not much different then many other period tanks. The FK-20mm has 10 shots, fires AP only and to penetrate the Panzer IVB from the front it would need to roll a 9+ within 20 inches or a 10+ up to 50 inches...but there are always modifiers :) Side shots would be a more reasonable 7+ within 20 inches or 8+ withing 50 inches. Return fire from the 75mm L24 would only need a 5+ within 20 inches, but assuming the TKS's stay in the forest they are a 3+ to spot for obscured vehicle (firing), but with the special rule they become a 4+ to spot. Actually hitting each other will be hard, assuming both sides move and the TKS's stay in cover you are looking at a -3 to your dice roll, so rolling 6's when shooting is key. The MG armed TKS's have a ROF of 3. Area Fire has no effect on a enclosed AFV so is pointless, Aimed Fire....is also pointless cause MG's don't case closed AFV's to take pinning tests! Yikes, this changes things :D Oh well, good training mission to learn what does and what does not work when fighting tanks I guess, so makes a good introductory mission, even if the replay value is a bit low.


No artillery, no aircraft, no infantry. Shoot to supress or shoot to hit, and autocannons. The Polish get D6+1 actions per turn, the Germans get D6. A game should/will last 30-45 minutes including a basic explanation and use of the QRF sheet?

Scenery wise I have enough roads, but I'm lacking in trees. To help me out on that, I've selected the Tree Building workshop at the next Poldercon so I can gets hand on teachings from a experienced builder in making some (and yes Erik, I know you can do it too, but I'll pester you for that later). With some, I mean a lot. While I do have a nice collection of pines that needs rebasing, decicious trees are severly lacking.

Next posts I will be taking a look at both sides vehicles and the kits I will be using.....can't do much else properly while my finger is healing. (Funny (or disgusting) fact......at first I thought it had sliced a U shaped cut into my finger, but after cleaning the bandaid for the second time it looks like the blade was so sharp and fast it cut all the way through and the flap resealed itself with such precision that even my fingerprint is intact, just a bit frayed at the edges. Never had that happen, usually the top part dries up and falls off but it appears so deep that it just stuck back on again.)

On a side note, Piers pointed me towards AB figures (again) and they make a lovely 20mm French Tank Crew set that would work for Polish tanks too. AB is very expensive though (but worth it). And he's asked me to make 2 Crocodile conversions for him using the Airfix Crocodile and the PSC Churchill kit to keep everything nice and uniform. And about actually making the artillery you bought in game to put on the side table. Aargh, too many ideas.

donderdag 5 januari 2017

Grubby Update

Some of you will have read my review on a Grubby Tanks order I made back in September, and the sub par cast Panzerjager 1's I got, and sent back. After shotting off a couple of emails for updates the last and only reply I got was early November, that the box had been received and he would get on it the next day. And then silence.

FFW to a now locked conversation on the Guild about his service being a bit spotty, and I decided to send him another email to see if I could get a final reply from him when I told him I just wanted to spend the refund on more miniatures. I got a reply the next morning at 3:30 (doesn't this man ever sleep?) that he thought he had sent replacements, but that he now wasn't sure anymore, but I only needed to send in a order, and pay for what I want minus the refund and free shipping.

Well, ehm, that was quick, butI had not given what I wanted much thought. I've been eyeing his Kelly Heroes range, but he doesn't do jeep crews that I want for my Greif unit and my only (future) want is (more) Partizans due to Piers long interest in Prinz Eugen and my love for hit and run attacks, so I just ordered one of all of his Russian and Yugoslavian partisans to give me something to do. I just got confirmation for that order and the agreed price, so sent my payment and now it's fingers crossed.

Now, where do I find the time to paint 30 partisans?


Spendthrift

Depression sucks. To feel better I spend money on stuff I may or may not need or at least I manage to convince myself it is a good investment for the future.

Right.

<sigh>

So, what have I done this time? Since the mother of all bandages on my finger is preventing me from getting a decent grip on a fresh blade I've been spending a wee bit too much time on Marktplaats and the local FB groups.

So today this arrived:
Academy Blitz Fuel Bowser for the airfield scenario, the Schwimmwagen is a nice bonus. GMC came with it as a lot, going into the spare bin. Desert Bf109F for the Afrika campaign, Karas for the Poles, Morane 406 for the French and a really, really old Revell-Esci Panzer 3M that I'm not sure if I'll use for parts or just sell on to a collector. Some of these kits are older then me.

Also arrived today was a trade in for some Warhamster crap. 4 more Concord books.

 I'm not into Gulf War Brits, but I am into Iraqis and this book has a ton of stuff on them. It's abit dusty and the price sticker is proving to be a downright arse to remove, but I can't complain for about the wealth of pics.





The next book is one I've been after for ages.......

 Whenever I wanted it, I could not afford it, and when I could afford it, no one was selling it. It's not in very good shape sadly:
 But man, is this a treasure trove or what? Perfect for my Yugoslavia collection.



 And I learned something new. I can use my spare M38 jeeps and lightweight Landrovers for Croatian forces. Yeah, pity about the state and the spine giving way, but this is a keeper.

This one however is not! I hadn't realised I already own this one....




So basically I now have 1 copy each of After the Storm: Iraqi wrecks and Fortifications, and Armor of the Afghanistan War.

If anyone wants them, I'm asking 10 euros per book, plus shipping, just shoot me a PM on the Guild or a message here on my Blog.

Take care everyone :)