Thursday 31 March 2011

Air Tac Bazaar

Well, here we are at the end of another month, with April just around the corner. Where does the time go?

If, unlike me, you are likely to be at a bit of a loose end on Saturday April 16th, why not pop along to the Air Tac Bazaar being hosted by Badger Tac, in association with Airsoft International

This will be the second time the event has been held and the venue will be the same as before, Westcott Venture Park, just off the A41 between Aylesbury and Bicester, postcode HP18 0XB

A number of major retailers from the airsoft skirmishing and tactical equipment worlds are due to be in attendance as well as several skirmish sites who will be promoting upcoming events at their venues. There will be demonstrations from a number of manufacturers and distributors, including Magpul, competitions for you to take part in, and if you're looking to clear out some much needed cupboard or wardrobe space to make room for new toys, why not part with a few quid and stake a claim on your very own pitch at the show. There will also be a raffle in aid of "Help For Heroes" with a variety of amazing prizes

To book a pitch as a trader or as a private individual drop the guys an email at the following address: or give Ratty or Dan a ring on 01296 658 600

Monday 28 March 2011

Fun!! But Practical?

Hi there. I was put on to this by a fellow Fireball member who mentioned it in a recent post on the members' forum. I just had to take a look at it

The copy below comes courtesy of RedWolf Airsoft and is completely unamended

A blending of a mostly metal AEG with polymer furniture, the M4A1 layout is fairly typical of electric assault weapons and this one is rendered well. Opening up the box, of course the first thing we want to do is load up those shells and start shooting!  

When empty, the bolt locks to the rear and firing can only commence when a loaded magazine is inserted and the bolt catch is pressed to release the bolt into full battery. Conversely, a single round can be entered directly into the breach if you wish.

As a Japanese manufactured weapons it is limited to a Japanese legal restriction thus shooting at 280fps but as a shell ejecting weapon you will more then likely wish to keep this indoors anyway and so that low power is probably just as well.

Despite the fairly heavy bolt pull (for an Airsoft weapon), the weapon cycles at a very decent cyclical rate. On semi, it shoots almost as fast as you can tap it and on full auto it is not that much slower then the real thing.

We tested it quite a bit and found no jams or stoppages but as a shell feeding weapon it is perfectly capable of jamming on occasion and will do so much like the real thing (double feed, stovepipe, etc.). This is unlikely though as the nature of an electric weapon means the forces and cycle times involved are far more consistent than gas pressure systems (at least until the battery runs down anyway).

The weapon runs on an 11.1V 850mAh Lithium Polymer battery (not included) which is rear wired to the stock. The weapon does not come with a charger either so do be sure to pick up a balanced LiPo charger and battery if you do not have them already.

Not too dissimilar to Systema PTWs, this electric weapon field strips a lot like the real thing as the mechanism features and actual bolt rather then just a dummy plate as found on many electric blowback weapons.

Like many other shell ejecting weapons, the TOP M4 works well as a fun novelty weapon and also proves to be a much safer functioning weapon replica for theatrical and film work in place of blank firing weapons which are still dangerous. Other then that, of course, we can attest to the simple fact that it is a whole lot of fun just to plink with it and watch those shells fly! 

I must say it looks lovely and the thought of firing it is totally appealing, however, how practical is it as a skirmishing weapon? You can hardly walk round all day picking up empty shell cartridges, and the idea of running around with a shell catcher somehow strapped to the gun doesn't seem very practical either. Besides, how well do those things work anyway? I reckon a lot of the shells would still need retrieving from the mud and undergrowth!

I have a Marushin shell ejecting Kar98, which I love to bits. It's great fun and 'feels' like the real deal but as a skirmishing weapon it's a non starter. I also love the idea of one of these, but wouldn't want to use it in the field

So, back to the original reason for this post. I simply love the idea of it, and if my Fireball friend buys one, and he says he is seriously thinking about it, I will be first in the no doubt very long queue to try it out! I'm sure I'll love it! But then there's the price tag. In USD, we're talking over 630 notes, and then there's the fact that it runs on a Lipo battery, not everyone's cup of tea, and for me it would mean a new charger, and then there are the spare mags, each of which requires 30 shells to fill.....

Would the huge grin it would almost certainly paint on my otherwise sombre and solemn fizzog be worth that kind of outlay? I'll take that one to bed with me, and contemplate! I'll leave you with these

Saturday 26 March 2011

Mamluk Magnificence

We have the crusading Christian knights, and now we have the enemy to range against them. First Legion have just released the first wave of Mamluks and, I'm sure you'll agree, they are truly magnificent

Here are a few words, slightly amended, of advertising copy from the manufacturers, together with a few more images in addition to the ones I posted in a previous blog

We are very pleased to announce the start of the pre-order for the highly anticipated Mamluk Army for our Crusades range!  Figures CRU026-CRU037 are the first of the Mamluk Army which conquered Acre in 1291, putting an end to the Crusader state in the Holy Land. We will add to the range over the coming months with more Mamluks and the first of the mounted Crusaders for the range, two of which can be sneak previewed on the Crusades category page. With the superb sculpting and painting you've come to expect from us, the Mamluk army and all of our Crusaders will make fantastic additions to any serious toy soldier collection!

I couldn't agree more. I have included images of the two mounted Crusaders referred to towards the end of this post, so you can see them here, too

Mamluk standard bearer

A selection of Mamluk warriors with swords and rather intricately sculpted and painted shields

Two Mamluk warriors with mace and shield

An officer with flag. This figure is also available without the banner

Mamluk warriors with a variety of weapons

As promised, here are a couple of images of the mounted Crusaders as they appear on the FL website

As if this little lot wasn't enough, FL are also due to release new figures for a number of other ranges including their ACW, American Revolution, DAK and Napoleonic series' and to top it all, they have also announced the birth of yet another brand new range. Take a look at this

First Legion is pleased to announce our latest 1/30 scale figure range, The Glory of Rome!!!  The Romans dominated the ancient world for a period of at least 700 years. Our initial foray will be Imperial Romans and their Ancient German adversaries doing battle in the 1st and 2nd century AD. What this means is detailed coverage of not only the Imperial Romans, but their Germanic and other enemies as well, fully brought to life with the world class sculpting and painting that has become our hallmark. So please enjoy the advanced sneak peek of the initial figures.

Legio I Minervia was raised by the Emperor Domitian in 82 AD for the war against the Germanic Tribes.  This Legion participated in a wide variety of conflicts including the Dacian Wars under Trajan/Hadrian, the Parthian Wars under Verus, and the Germanic/Marcomannic Wars under Marcus Aurelius, the final battle of which was featured in the opening of the film "Gladiator."   Though we are releasing them as Legio I Minervia, in reality the figures are suitable to depict any Roman Legion between the early 1st century AD through to the period of the Late Roman Empire.

I can't wait to see some of these, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to. Pre-ordering is due to start towards the end of April, so they won't be around for a while yet. With the Germanic connection, I'm going to be very sorely tempted to buy some of them!

Finally, one more Mamluk for your delectation, looking every bit the victor in this mini vignette

All the Mamluk and Crusader figures can be ordered through TM Terrain and are due to arrive in the country towards the end of April

Bring On The Big Guns

I haven't had the pleasure, yet, of seeing these recent announcements from TCS in the flesh, so I can't say that much about them. That said, I will leave the pictures to do most of the talking, together with a bit of slightly amended advertising copy from the manufacturers, and you can make your own minds up

TCS presents our most comprehensive 88 issue ever! Our Summer Flak 37 comes with a ton of features and additions: the gun traverses and elevates on a custom gear set, the gun shield is removable allowing for different display possibilities, the gunners seat folds up, just like the original, followed by the two base legs, the gun mounts perfectly on dual caissons just like the original, spent ammo cartridges are included as well as two wicker ammo baskets, and we’ve even added a  prime mover to give you the option of displaying the gun ‘on the move’.

Now, I missed out on the King and Country 88mm released a few years ago, and I was sorely disappointed about that. If anything, I reckon this looks like a much better bet and, barring some unforeseen financial disaster in the mean time, I will definitely be getting one as soon as the chaps over at TMT can get hold of it. Happy days!

The infamous 88mm, ready for action in Normandy towards the end of the war and attended by a determined SS crew
The gun comes with two attendant crew figures and a wicker shell basket. The officer and two additional crew are part of a separate set.....

.....and here they are
Two gun carriages (caissons) which will allow the gun to be towed by this little beauty.....
.....the SdKfz 7 prime mover, which can be filled with these.....
.....seated artillerymen, and the whole thing should look something like this
The 88mm AT with prime mover transport. Very nice!
Expected to arrive in the UK sometime in April, TMT are already taking advance orders. Pricing details can be found here, and you may also be delighted to know that all of the above will be released in a winter camouflage scheme as well, for all you Battle of the Bulge fans. Happy ordering!

Thursday 24 March 2011

Great Malvern International Military Convention

Well, what did you do with your weekend, more specifically, what did you do with your Sunday morning and early afternoon? I spent mine travelling to Elgar country to visit the militaria show at the Three Counties Showground in the shadow of the marvellous Malvern hills

I arrived at about 9.30, kitted out in my 1944 pea dot pattern camouflage and jack boots, badged up officer pattern field cap, belt, map case and holstered airsoft P38, half expecting to be told not to take the gun into the show but, much to my surprise and delight, the security guard on the gate didn't say a word, apart from to comment on the time it was taking me to put my 21st century money back into my reproduction wartime wallet, and hoped I had a good day

Did I have a good day? Well, I went half expecting it to be a bit of a let down. To be honest, I was expecting to get there and find the place half empty, with not many people trudging around not that many stalls. This expectation had fixed itself in my mind subsequent to conversations I'd had with one or two dealers I regularly buy from, both of whom had said, prior to the last show, that they wouldn't be attending because, from their perspective, the show had gone downhill and it was no longer worth their while. In fact, the halls that the show was housed in were almost, but not quite, full of stalls, and the place certainly felt quite full of punters for the three and a half hours I was there

A view of the 'cafeteria' area and the forever bustling Soldier of Fortune stall to the right
I mingled with the multitude and circuited the place three or four times, stopping off for an Americano or two en route, chatting to some of the dealers about prices, and learning a few things about items I didn't recognise and previously hadn't a clue about. Every day's a school day, and for me that's part and parcel of what makes events like these so enjoyable

Every now and again I'd stop to chat to the occasional familiar face or to people showing an interest in the uniform, and that's something else about events like this that makes them so enjoyable, at least it is for me. Let's face it, if you go to a show dressed as a Waffen SS officer in a field uniform then you want people to notice you. There is an element of showing off about it and I'm the first to admit it, but I really do enjoy meeting people with a shared interest and answering their questions

I was hoping to see a few more like minded individuals there, similarly living out their own escapist fantasies for a few hours, but they were sadly very thin on the ground. I know it's not primarily a show attended by reenactors and living history groups putting on displays, nevertheless, I expected to see a few more people in full uniform than I actually saw and the fact that I didn't was a little disappointing. I spotted a young man in an American airborne uniform, a lady wearing what I seem to recall was an ARP uniform, though I could be mistaken about that, and a number of individuals looking very dapper and dandy in their wartime civvies, like these two 'fine, upstanding gents' who kindly agreed to have their photo taken. Thanks again, chaps

These two likely lads were having a great time at the show, in the company of their similarly clad lady friends. Calling themselves the 'Blitz Buddies' they describe themselves as 'a fairly informal group of friends with a shared interest' and attend shows and events up and down the country. Visit their website at for further information

Of course, that's not the only reason one travels to militaria shows, to mingle, catch up and generally pass the time of day chinwagging over a coffee, you can do that any day of the week. No, one goes to buy goodies that you try to keep hidden from the wife, or your three year old toddler who you don't want playing with them or knocking them over, and there was plenty I could quite easily have come home with ranging from the cheap and cheerful odds and sods, like a spare button or two, right through to the wincingly expensive deactivated mp40, ceremonial dagger, or this.....

.....yours for a cool £650 from Worldwide Arms
I was concentrating on German gear and, as I have already intimated, there was plenty there, but anyone going for British, US or Russian stuff was well catered for, too. Lots of things caught my eye, much of it, sadly, priced beyond my relatively meager means on the day; a variety of deactivated guns from numerous dealers, a ceremonial dagger or two, wound badges and combat clasps in very good order, a particularly nice panzer officer's communication set, one or two sets of binoculars complete with cases, some excellent reproduction clothing and equipment from Richard Underwood, Anthony at Militaria-net and Pete at SOF, and heaps of sundry items with which to accessorise your 'impression' or fill out a display space or two. In short, I went with a shopping list and ended up buying none of it!

All in all I saw four of these original cowhide rucksacks ('Tornister 34') in varying states of repair. This one was priced up at approximately £45 and the most expensive one I spotted was £20 dearer, with fully functioning, possibly replacement, straps
I was having so much trouble deciding what on the list to prioritise, I finally dispensed with it and bought a couple of other things instead, namely some very reasonably priced inert ammunition to fill my k98 pouches from James at Chelmsford Militaria, and a very nice reproduction model '44 rucksack, complete with straps, from SOF. Both are photographed below

Inert shells complete with stripper clips.....
.....shown here with one of my ammo pouches and five shell casings for my airsoft bolt action k98

My newly acquired reproduction rucksack, complete with inner and outer pockets and chunky leather and metal carrying straps. Very good value, in my opinion, at £40. Thank you, SOF
The SOF stand was busy throughout the day, certainly while I was there. I was very happy indeed to be one of their customers. Those rucksacks are jolly useful and not that easy to get hold of
So, when all said and done, I had a very good day as a paying punter at the show and came away satisfied, having learned a few things, made one or two successful purchases, and taken advantage of an opportunity to dress up! It's true of all events like this I dare say, but some traders were clearly doing a lot more business than others and if you were one of the unlucky ones then I can understand how you might be persuaded not to return. As for me, I will definitely be back

Saturday 19 March 2011

Must Have More Camo

Hi there folks

Like a lot of airsofters, no doubt, I have quite a few sets of tactical clothing hanging up in a wardrobe, some of which haven't seen the light of day for quite some considerable time. Lately, I have tended to stick to one outfit, namely the one that when I first started out in the hobby I swore I would never own, my US made Multicam. I absolutely love it

Now officially 'mad for Multicam' I simply couldn't resist drooling over this item in the latest issue of Airsoft International. Taking up a whole page in their 'Gear Zone' section is an 'infovert' for a soon to be released boot from Magnum. Feast your eyes on this little beauty and tell me you don't love it to pieces!

If I'm honest, and I like to be, I'm not too sure the sole works that well. I'd have to see it in the flesh, but from the photos it doesn't have quite the same 'feel' as the rest of the boot. Mind you, who's going to see it? Chances are, it will be caked in mud in no time!

Magnum are well known for 'engineering' exceptionally good quality footwear and according to the accompanying advertising copy, this one should be no exception. A list of features follows, but amongst others it incorporates Magnum's 'hydrophobic surface enhancement system' which means it repels water and other liquids, including blood reassuringly enough, like a duck! It will also be equipped with a 'Tec-Tuff' leather toe-guard, 'sandproof ventilator technology' and a moisture wicking mesh lining making it extremely lightweight, whilst at the same time being highly breathable and durable

And so to the TM littered, jargon laden features list. I simply love some of the words these people are paid to come up with!

The Spider 8.1 Desert Multicam HPI Boot

    •    ion-mask™ hydrophobic surface enhancement
    •    Genuine Crye MultiCam® fabric
    •    Leather / 1650 denier ballistic nylon upper
    •    Tec-Tuff leather toeguard resists snags and abrasions
    •    Vent-Guard™ sandproof ventilator technology
    •    TPU exoframe reinforcement for support
    •    Spider Mesh lining for comfort and breathability
    •    Certified to EN 20347:2004 safety standard
    •    Ergonomically designed
    •    Metal detector safe with non-metallic TPU shank
    •    Lace storage system on tongue
    •    OrthoLite® shock absorbing removable sockliner
    •    Fast-rope system with SuperFabric®
    •    Spider outsole with reinforced stabilizers and flexible toe fins to silently
          grip walls
    •    Weight: 21.4 oz.
    •    COMING JULY 2011

Talking of camo, another thing caught my eye this month. This stuff isn't exactly new, it's been talked about for a few months now so isn't all that old, but it's the first time I remember seeing it in AI. I'm referring to the A-TACS produced by DCS, or Digital Concealment Systems. One or two of the regulars at Fireball have recently purchased the new A-TACS Masadas but, as yet, haven't bought into the camo

I have plenty of camo and, as my wife never tires of telling me, you can only wear one set at a time, but for some reason I really do like the look of this. Not sure how well it would 'work' in a wood but if I'm honest I never let insignificant trifles like that colour my judgement. I don't actually care. After all, I'm not doing this for a living!

Clearly, this particular pattern and colour way ought to do 'very nicely thank you' in a desert or urban environment. I play mostly in woodland settings but I already know what's likely to happen, and the more I look at the pictures the surer I'm becoming. I'll just have to persuade the wife to get rid of one or two of those little dresses she can no longer fit into! Today is Red Nose Day, after all! At least it was when I first sat down to type this up!

More information is available from the Magnum and DCS websites

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Malvern Militaria

The next Malvern Militaria show is being held this coming Sunday, March 20th, at The Three Counties Showground, Wye Hall, Malvern

Further details are available via the website. I'm planning to go, and will be doing a review of the show shortly after the event. Might see some of you there

Sunday 13 March 2011

Collectors Showcase Come Up Trumps

A while ago I wrote a piece about the Collectors Showcase depiction of the Lichterfelde Barracks in Berlin, the once proud home of Hitler's Lifeguard regiment, the LAH. At the time of writing I didn't actually own one but I'm delighted to say that is no longer the case

A couple of weeks ago I took receipt of a rather large, brown cardboard box from TM Terrain inside which were three more boxes, each plain white save for a colourful label stuck on the top declaring its contents. It's taken me a while to break them open and now that I have, I'm quite simply delighted

I bought the entire facade comprising the central building and two annexes and they are currently lying on the table in my hobbies room awaiting assembly. Save the odd paint chip here and there, easily remedied should I feel inclined to bother, they survived their trip from China, via the US, via TM Terrain, safe and sound and look well and truly marvellous, even in their unassembled state

The entire facade, laid out in pieces
The flags and Swastika banners are removable, should you not be inclined to display them
I will put up more pictures as soon as I've put the 20 pieces together, and even more once I've bought some more soldiers to display on it. I will keep you posted


The full results of my poll are now in, however, I'm not entirely sure what they tell me. The number of people who responded was disappointingly small, just 16, nevertheless, I'd like to thank those people who participated and hopefully it gave you something to ponder over

The two options selected least from the nine on offer were 'Members of the SA' and 'Members of the public showing support for the regime' both of which were chosen just 8 times. K+C, of course, have quite a few SA figures in their range and they have very recently brought out a figure depicting a WW1 veteran in civilian clothes, standing and saluting as the Nazi parade marches past in 1938

You probably won't be surprised to hear I have no such qualms or reservations about reading about such figures, or buying them, and on that note I thought I'd share with you some pictures of part of my LAH collection from the 'Berlin '38' range. I hope you like seeing them as much as I enjoy owning and collecting the figures they show

Himmler saluting the marchers

A close up of Hitler in his staff car
Goering, Goebbels and Rohm take to the balcony, and yes, I do know Rohm was dead by 1938. Surely I can be permitted a little artistic license?
Bormann, the doorman! I couldn't resist!
Bringing up the rear, Heydrich and more of the 'asphalt soldiers'

As I said earlier, I hope you like them. More to come at a later date, when I finish the next display!