November 17, 2017

MTSC SneaK PeeK: 1:72nd scale Plastic News!

A number of new 1/72nd scale plastic sets have been announced and are intend to be released sometime before the end of the year. 
STL-139 - WWII Japanese Type 96 AA/AT Gun
STL-152 - ACW Pickett's Charge 2
STL-153 - ACW US Infantry in Attack 2
STL-156 - ACW Confederate Infantry Standing
STL-157 - ACW US Infantry Standing
STL-162 - Napoleonic British Infantry Standing at Ease
STL-163 - Napoleonic Highlanders Standing at Ease
STL-164 - WWI Russian Civil War Red Cavalry in Summer Dress
STL-M122 - WWI Turkish Infantry in Tropical Uniform
STL-M126 - WWI Serbian Infantry in Winter Uniform
STL-M127 - WWI Arab Revolt Foot Rebels
STL-M128 - WWII Imperial Japanese Army in Attack
STL-M129 - WWII Indian Infantry Heavy Weapons
STL-M130 - WWI Polish Infantry (Blue Army)

Strelets Reissues
STL-089 French Cuirassiers in Winter Dress
STL-094 French Cuirassiers in Summer Dress
STL-105 French Cuirassiers in Attack
STL-115 Lawrence of Arabia
STL-M107 Tecumseh 1812

Hat Industrie
HTI-8159 WWI French Artillery Crew
HTI-8162 WWII French Artillery Crew
HTI-8283 Sassanid Light Cavalry
HTI-8285 Sassanid Clibanarii
HTI-8290 WWI Belgian Infantry
HTI-8291 WWI Belgian Heavy Weapons (2) & Soldiers
HTI-8309 1/72 Prussian Landwehr Marching
HTI-8310 1/72 Prussian Landwehr Action
HTI-8311 1/72 British Naval Gunner & Crew
HTI-8316 1/72 Unmarried Zulu Warriors

Waterloo 1815

WAT-AP041 Napoleonic French Foot Dragoons 
13 different poses, all dismounted


FRIDAY'S WITH FARLEY aka Another Dose of Useless Tidbits

This week we have an abbreviated FWF as Farley is gearing up for the coming holidays and some surprises in the form of new contributors coming to News from The Front...

The Good Stuff...
American Pickers Visits The Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville, WV
In the recent episode titled “Frank’s Big Day” which aired on November 13th Mike and Frank from the History Channel series, American Pickers, made a trip to see Francis Turner at the now-closed Marx Toy Museum in Moundsville,

The museum closed its doors on June 30, 2016, but has still been in use to store part of Francis Turner’s massive toy collection. The Turner family will still open the museum for special sales on occasion.

Francis Turner is an avid toy collector who years ago found himself on a mission. He wanted to amass a collection of every toy produced by The Marx Toy Company. The Marx Toy Company was at one time the largest toy company in the world. Following the retirement of company founder, Louis Marx and the sale of the company to Quaker Oats, the fortunes of the Marx Toy Empire fell, and the company closed its last factory and ceased operations in 1980.

Once Turner came close to achieving his goal, he decided that he needed to share his collection with the public, so he opened a museum in Moundsville. Located just a few miles from the site of one of the largest Marx Toy Factories in Glendale. The Marx Toy Museum was open to the public for more than fifteen years, to the delight of kids and kids at heart, before closing it’s doors in 2016. It still continues as a virtual online museum, but the Turner family is still trying to chart a course for its future, continuing its mission of preserving the legacy of Louis Marx and The Marx Toy Company. 
View the episode HERE

More Good Stuff...
Green Army Men?
Tom Stark passed along this photo of a friend’s young boy in his Halloween costume. "Aram, from the great State of New Jersey" came up with fantastic costume. I particularly  like the “base” which allows him to walk. Soldier on!

The Parting Shot ...
Flush With Creativity
Wanted: A worthy buyer to take care of over 1,300 hand-decorated seats.
96-Year-Old Barney Smith Is Giving Up His Toilet Seat Museum
MOST VISITORS TO SAN ANTONIO know it for the Alamo, the Missions, or the Riverwalk. These well-known tourist centers draw millions to the city. But for the past 25 years, a steady stream of oddity seekers has used the road less traveled to see a local bastion of folk art. His work isn’t displayed in a trendy gallery or exhibition, but it is appointment only. Visitors drive into the heart of an upper-class neighborhood called Alamo Heights until they arrive at a garage. When the metal doors swing open, there stands Barney Smith and 1,300 toilet seats.

The 96-year-old Smith is a retired master plumber who was inspired to put artwork on toilet seats by the hunting mounts made by his father. His first seat is adorned with deer antlers, but he’s found inspiration in almost anything under the sun. For the past 50 years, he’s poured thousands of hours and nearly every thought into making toilet seat art. 

Why? “Because I’m still alive,” he exclaims. “Is that a good enough reason?”

November 15, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER BIG LOOK: Pat Hillard Digs in to FOW Battle of El Alamein Part 3 - Part 3 - Learning FoW From The Starter Set

Flames of War V-4
Starter Set 
FWBX07 Battle of El Alamein: War in the Desert
Part 3 - Playing the Game

In Part 1 We went over the box contents and assembly of the models. In Part 2 we painted our models and got ready to put them head to head on the battlefield. In Part 3 we look at the game itself and evaluate if it really is a starter set. My son 12 year old son Colin has had very little gaming experience so he is the perfect test subject for our gaming experiment.  He decided to go with the German forces and used the PzIII and PzIV.
Colin Hillard ready to attack! 
 I do not have a desert board so we made due with my modular set up. This image shows the terrain set up and vehicle deployment from page 4 of the rule book "Your First Game". The Afrika Korps  are on the right and the Desert Rats on the left.

Turn 1 - PzIII moved out of cover but had no shot, PzIV moved and took one shot at the lone Grant and missed. The British missed with PzIII with two shots from one Crusader and had one hit and one miss from the second one. PzIII had a good armor save and was safe. Grant had two misses.

Turn 2- PzIII had two hits on the nearest Crusader; one armor save and one failed. PzIII couldn't make its Fire Power test so the Crusader ended up bailed out. PzIV put two hits on the Grant. On armor save and one hit with a failed Fire Power test so the Grant ended the turn bailed out. British player passed both remounts and Grant had 2 shots on the PzIV; one hit one miss. Failed Fire Power test and bailed out the PzIV. Both Crusaders missed the PzIII. It was a poor dice day for the Rats.

Turn 3 - The Germans were unable to score any damaging hits on any of the British forces. The Grant scored two hits; one failed Armor Save and a passed Fire Power left the PzIV in flames. The Crusaders had similar results. One moved it tactical distance of 14" for a closer shot. Three shots were sent its way with one delivering the killing blow.

We played out the first game mission several times and the victories went back and fourth. My son became more aggressive with his higher armor and armor piercing rating of the German guns. Most games lasted between 3 and 4 turns. By the end of the fourth game the vehicle cards had become second nature and game play was incredibly quick.

We decided to try out some of the other Missions listed in the back of the rule book. This is the start of the "Tank Duel" mission. It added the use of objectives and more open deployment zones.

Several rounds of this mission were played and the winning edge went to the German side. The heavier armor and guns made it difficult for the Crusaders to save when hit. My poor dice rolling didn't help.

This mission allowed more strategic play and the introduction of some of the more advanced rules such as to hit penalties from long range shooting and armor bonuses for long range saves.

The final mission "Tank Ace" gave your selected Ace a re-roll for one of their misses when shooting and a re-roll of one of their Armor Saves. The new missions added more complexity to the rules but did not overwhelm the new player. It only took a turn or two to add in the use of these new rules.


A closer view of the models and scenery on the table during a "Tank Ace" game. Small cardboard "Ace" markers are provided and were easy to identify on or near the selected tank. The cardboard terrain looked nice and helped to make the game play feel more realistic.

As you can see by the change up of the board and the addition of some unpainted buildings from my "to do box" the game was a huge hit with my son! We played for several hours on day one and played two or three games the next day before putting everything away. He learned very quickly and gave me a hard time in many of the games. I learned early that you have to swarm with the Crusaders and hope for an early bail or kill for them to survive. The rules are not very clear on what point value a platoon is worth so we added more tanks to the game and ran an additional platoon for each side using the same configuration.

Summary: The starter box set is easy to assemble and could have been played right out of the box. I prefer painted models but there is no reason that you can't buy this box and be playing within and hour or two.

I was very hesitant to play when I first heard about the unit cards for this version of FoW. After playing with them I really like them. My only problem with them is that Battlefront will not just sell you the cards. I asked at the Battlefront booth at  The Cold Wars Convention in the Spring (Lancaster PA) and their response was they won't sell them because they don't want you using other brands of models with their games. Well, I have dozens of their vehicles and several armies that I still need to use the old rule stats for. I'm not sure if this will change in the future or not? I really hope they do provide some opportunity for long time players to get the cards without having to buy duplicate models. I have 12 Panthers, 12 PzIV's and 18 Stugs (yes I like to run a full Stug battery) and would really like cards for these models without buying an additional model to get it.

As far as a good starter set El Alamein is very good! My son enjoyed every aspect of the game and felt that he had a great grasp of the starter missions. As our game play went on we added rough terrain and gone to ground rules. He easily caught on as each new concept was introduced to our game play. I think he is hooked and there will be many more battles to come. The tank rules seem to be simpler than previous versions and were easy to learn.

Next up I would like to take a look at their new infantry sets and see if they have a similar approach to learning how to play with them.

 View Part 2

View the entire range of available at MTSC Flames of War HERE

Contains one mini-rulebook, one Panzer IV, one Panzer III, 
one Grant and two Crusaders.

MATT KOLTONOW'S GAME ON! Show Report on HMGS Fall-in 2017

As another year goes by its time for another Fall-in Show report. Every year I take the week off and drive over to Lancaster PA where the convention is held for a weekend of gaming and buying piles of new figures. This year was no exception and below are my thoughts and a ton of photos.

As anyone who attended knows, the Lancaster Host is under renovations and is very work in progress. The stuff that is finished looks wonderful but from what I could gather there is still a lot to be done. One of the major changes is the renovations of the “tennis barn” where the vendor hall is located. Gone is the balcony and with it the obligatory vendor hall photo. There were quite a new vendors to me and it was great to catch up with everyone I’ve been doing business with.
MichToy stand at Fall-in 2017

The weekend was an absolute blast and flew by. I didn’t get nearly as many photos as last year though. I think in part it was due to me being involved in games at peak hours and in part there wasn’t as much eye grabbing scenery as usual. The games themselves look great but it seemed to me that they were spread out and there were less than usual. I don’t have the numbers to back it up but the show seemed less busy but that could very well just be because I was running around all weekend.

I played a few games this year including Brazen Chariots again as well as Blood and Plunder and Skirmish Sangin and a couple others. Everything I played was well run, and very enjoyable. Unfortunately because the timing of these games I didn’t see some of the bigger games. I was told someone was running a giant Lewis and Clark game and that someone else had run a cowboy game on a homemade River boat, but didn’t get to see them myself.

Overall it was a great show. I had some complaints this year but most of them seem trivial in the long run. Fall-in is a great long weekend of gaming, hanging out and talking with other people passionate about wargaming. I got to go with some close friends this year and we all enjoyed the show.
 >>Click below to bring up the Fall-in 2017 image slide show

November 14, 2017

Tom Stark's Plastic Passions! Expeditionary Force Napoleonics

New from the Front's resident plastic guru Tom Stark checks in with a look at the new Napoleonics range from Ex-Force >>throughout this article click images to enlarge

Expeditionary Force (ExF) has made good on its promise to bring the first of its range of Napoleonics to market in 2017 with the first 4 sets now available: French Line, French Grenadier/Voltiguers, French Line Infantry offices and British Center Company sets. All are in accordance with the set configurations ExF has followed in the recent past of nine, foot figures in the infantry sets and 6 foot and two mounted with their horses in the officer set, a configuration they used for some of the lesser Zulu War contingents. All have a variety of torsos, arms, heads and accessories for collectors to choose from when assembling their figures. The plastic is easily bonded with cyanoacrylate (CA) aka "superglue".

The figure sets come in standard ExF boxes and the series is labelled “Napoleonic Wars- 1803 – 1815”. This is a broad period during which there were several significant changes in uniforms and the uniforms of these figures indicate the period after 1812.  Earlier uniforms may come later in the series and wouldn’t I love to see a Napoleon in Egypt series. In these first French releases the figures are in field dress (trousers, not gaiters) worn after 1812 when the French infantry began wearing the “habit-veste” coat with a front that buttoned to the waist, shorter coat tails, “discs” rather than pom-poms on the shakos and no swords for the line privates. Similarly, the first release of British infantry has Belgian, not “stovepipe” shakos.

ExF foot and mounted French Line Infantry & Officers

These sets are billed as 54 mm scale so before I discuss the options available for assembly, I’ll explore scale and include some photos for comparison with other 54mm figures. The mm scale is based on the distance between the bottom of the foot to the eyes. It is best to pick figures standing straight for making this measurement since crouching and kneeling figures don’t allow for precision. The ExF officer measures 52 mm but since both legs have their knees slightly bent, 54 mm appears to be right. The Italieri, HAT (foot, not mounted which are clearly smaller), Black Cat, Linetek/Mars, Chintoys, Barzso (War of 1812 British) and Armies in Plastic all fall between 52 and 54 while Airfix and A Call to Arms come in at 50mm, a bit smaller but within the range of human variation. Esci, at around 48mm, starts to look out of place.

Millimeter measurement is not the only consideration on the appearance of scale and the style of each sculptor is also important. The photo of ExF and Barzso who have almost identical mm measures shows this extremely well. Airfix figures are all very svelte; lean mean fighting machines whose uniforms fit them like gloves, perhaps with some spandex woven in. Black Cat, HAT and Timpo sculptors adopted a baggier appearance for the uniforms, likely a historically accurate one since uniforms were not tailored, to say the least. All of the rest, ExF included, have snug-fitting uniforms but with more meat on their bones.

Napoleonic Size, Color and Compatibility Comparison LtoR: 
HAT, Timpo recast on ExF horse, ExF officer on Italieri horse

So, from a scale perspective, the new ExF are a good fit with just about all existing “54 mm” mm figures out there. Then there’s color. Where’s my magic color wand when I need it?
 ExF’s British are in the same medium red used for their Zulu figures and their French are in a medium blue. Both are nice matte plastics and the colors are both “deep”, or “saturated” as that term is applied to paint. For the French, the recast Reamsa French are a very close match, albeit those are from the pre-1812 period. Some Timpo recast blues are also very close as are the unpainted Britains/DSG recasts. HAT’s French are a bit lighter blue, inching towards turquois when seen beside ExF. AIP are definitely lighter and shiny too but on my acceptable side of compatible judged by setting the figures up together on the battlefield and seeing if they jar my eyeballs. All Call to Arms is a blue grey.
Napoleonic French size, color and compatibility comparison LtoR:
Esci, ACTA, Airfix, ExF, AIP (Armies in Plastic), HAT, Reamsa (recast)

For the British, most existing reds are brighter and several are in shiny plastics and are not compatible to me. This includes AIP, Airfix recasts, A Call to Arms,  AIP and many of the Timpo recasts although, again, I have some Timpo recast cavalry that are good match. And their cavalry figures are much better sculpts than their infantry.  I was able to find some unpainted Britains British, perhaps from DSG, that are a very good match. Original Airfix are grey, Italieri tan for both French and British and Esci buff and none will show up on the same table as my ExF unless I decide to paint the stiffer plastic Italieri.

Napoleonic British size, color and compatibility comparison LtoR:
Britains Deetail (recast), A Call to Arms (ACTA), ExF, Timpo (recast), Airfix (recast), Barzso

If one can wait long enough, it might not matter which existing figures can  be used with the ExF since each set can be assembled in so many arm/head/torso configurations and Scott Lam, the force behind ExF, doesn’t show any signs of going half-way on the number of sets he intends to release any more than he did with the Persians/Greeks or Zulu ranges (I wish he had kept it up with ACW and knights though so write him and tell him to circle back to them. Add some Saracens. Please. Do it for me!) I am also lobbying him for a second British Center Company set making it easier to create a square without too many advancing poses. Time will tell.

There are many different figures that can be created from the optional parts provided. For those of you that read Toy Soldier and Model Figure you can see how a real grown up does a review of an ExF set by looking at what Mr. Battleboards, Jim Clouse, did for the Natal volunteers set. He carefully took photos of the figures in their bags, all the arm sets laid out, the torsos, heads and miscellaneous other parts. What a nice presentation I thought, I’ll do that with these. But I am not a grown up when it comes to toy soldiers so before I could put my hands on a camera, figures started flying together. I justify this rashness by telling you this way you can read this review and still have a surprise or two when you open your sets. Neat huh?

For a little more detail, starting with for the two French infantry sets, you can count on two each kneeling, standing, walking and advancing torsos and one walking NCO torso for the Line distinguished by holes to attach a separate cartridge pouch and a sword/bayonet hanging from a cross-belt molded to the torso. The other torsos have only a bayonet scabbard molded onto their left hip/leg, except the advancing torso which has a separate bayonet scabbard to attach at a rearward angle, so it sticks out beyond the leg giving the figure a more active appearance. There are three heads, 1 bare and some with chin straps across the shako and others plain. There are two firing arm sets, five sets at port, two at right hip pointing forward, two held vertical to right of body and two each of three varieties I’ll call “attack march”; held in crook of left arm, at the slope on right shoulder and held vertical by right hand on firing hammer all with accompanying “off” arms with open hands to complete.
EXP-54-FRN-01 French Fusiliers (1812-1815)
EXP-54-FRN-03 French Line Infantry Officers

The Voltiguers/Grenadier set is quite similar when it comes to torsos and arm sets with the main differences being they all have separate cartridge pouches and sword/bayonet combinations for their left hip, shoulder epaulettes, long-tailed coats and their shakos have pom-poms rather than disks. There is no distinct NCO.

EXP-54-FRN-02 French Grenadiers & Voltiguers

With 2 mounted and six foot, the French Line Infantry Officers set starts out with Variety. The two mounts, one brown and the other white, are the same two horses used for the Zulu range made Napoleonic by the sculpting details of the separate saddles. All torsos have the long-tailed coats of officers with a hole on the left hip for accepting scabbards with swords in place or drawn. Torsos are mounted, walking, leaning slightly back and standing. All have officer’s gorgets molded on. Arm sets are quite varied with holding a sword aloft, sword at ready, pistol at ready, firing pistol, holding empty scabbard in left hand, open left hand and pointing. Headgear include bicornes, plumed shako’s, shakos with an infantry disc and pom-pom shakoes. There are two capes and two shoulder sashes that can be used with any of the torso/head combinations.

ExF foot and mounted French Line Infantry & Officers

The British set is similar to the French Line having two each of four torsos (standing, walking, advancing and kneeling) and similar arm sets. Packs, heads, canvas sacks with a protruding bayonet scabbard for the left hip and right hip cartridge pouches are all separate. Heads are all Belgian shakos except for one bare head. There is a separate torso for the NCO with a slightly wider stance as well as a distinguishing spontoon, waist sash and sword on his left hip. Arm sets include two each at port, at right hip pointing forward, firing, attack march in arm crook and vertical with butt in right hand.  Surprisingly missing is an arm set with a musket butt grounded to form the front line of a square. This and the addition of more firing arm sets will be rectified in a second set if I can be convincing enough.
EXP-54-BTR-01 British Line Infantry(1812-1815)

ExForce British Infantry front & back

But let’s not quibble. The ExF Napoleonic range is off to a great start with sets of French cavalry coming next and plans to extend the range to cover the related War of 1812 with more variety than you can shake a saber at! I can’t wait.

Next Up...
Due for release in November 2017
EXP-54-FRN-04-A French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Chasseurs with Officer
EXP-54-FRN-04-B French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Chasseurs with Trumpeter
EXP-54-FRN-05-A French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Lancers with Officer
EXP-54-FRN-05-B French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Lancers with Trumpeter
EXP-54-FRN-06-A French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Dragoons with Officer
EXP-54-FRN-06-B French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Dragoons with Trumpeter
EXP-54-FRN-06-B French Cavalry 1812-1815 - Line Dragoons with Trumpeter

View the entire Expeditionary Force range of Napoleonics available from MTSC HERE

Tom Stark is a plastic guy extrodenaire. He scours the world for unique plastic figures and has been an advisor on Expeditionary Force range. His never ending love for all things plastic have led him to regular articles in Plastic Warrior and his PM Puzzler is featured in every issue of Playset MagazineView Tom Stark's Plastic Passions! HERE

FARLEY'S FIGURE OF THE WEEK #168: Pfeiffer Mounted Indian

This week’s figure comes to us from reader Toni Wolf who sends us “greetings from the land of snow and ice” which could mean the Alps, the Norse countries or even right here in Michigan! His favorite figure is this handsome mounted Indian that Toni tells us is from “Emil Pfeiffer of  Austria.” It is fabulously painted and sculpted and still in mint condition and was produced in the 1920s. There are over 40 figures plus accessories such as camp fires, teepees, a stage coach and wild animals in this 10cm composition figure range. It’s a great figure Toni and thanks for sending it to us.

Read the complete history of Pfeiffer in Thomas Finck's fantastic book Masse-Wild-West-Figuren und Zubehör Deutscher Hersteller Band3 (German Wild West Composition Figures Volume 3) 
All 3 Volumes are available HERE

November 13, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER HOW TO: Julian Conde Looks at Resin Accessories from Armand Bayardi

Our resident model geek Julian Conde takes a look at and paints up some...
>>throughout this article click images to enlarge
A couple years ago, on a purchase from MichToy, I came across this new brand (new for me at least) that was Armand Bayardi. I got into the products page and the MichToy site and saw lots of great looking resin accessories. From trees to Jerry cans. Rocks, walls, tree trunks, fences, furniture, bases, and many other stuff we love to add to our diorama and vignettes. But getting resin stuff from a unknown brand is risky. It could be very well sculpted or just some terrible plastic-like piece of garbage. For me, resin is always a upgrade from plastic. In figures, bases, accessories, etc. Always!... But there are some really terrible resin products out there. Well, in the pictures, Bayardi looked like great stuff, so I ordered some Vietnam boxes and small tree trunks to use on vignette. Once the package arrived... great surprise! The accessories are very well sculpted, best in class resin accessories in my opinion, flash free, just gems to behold! So, given the opportunity to review some additional products for MichToy, I wanted to expand my look at the accessories range from Bayardi. I picked out a nice bundle of great looking trees, trunks, rocks, Jerry cans, fuel drums, wall sections and much more to take a look at.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the accessories .