Sunday 29 May 2011

Airsoft Arms and Accessories: Latest Additions

Last week I went to the third AAF [Airsoft Arms Fair] over at the Grange in Balsall Common, and a very enjoyable day out it was, too

Whilst there I picked up a couple of Fast Mags from DingoDogs Airsoft and an IMI belt extension platform for my Sig 226 holster

The Fast Mags are fixed securely to one of my Warrior Molle platforms, and when I say securely, I really do mean it. The rubberised straps at the back of the mag holder slip easily through two Molle loops before reattaching to the bottom of the holder. It takes a little more effort to reattach them than it generally does with the usual press stud arrangement found on most Molle pouches, but once in place they are solid as a rock

I've tried a number of different magazines in them for size, a bog standard M4 metal hi-cap mag, a WE gas mag for my GBB Scar, and a Magpul PTS 'waffle' mag, all of which fit beautifully, extract with ease, and none of which fall out when you turn the chest rig upside down and shake it for all you're worth!

At £18 a pop they aren't inexpensive, but they do exactly what they say they will do, and they look pretty cool. The latest generation of Fast Mags, which these are, are also stackable so you can fit one on top of the other should you want to

The IMI belt extension platform is another rugged and versatile piece of kit which will set you back about £20 and, in my opinion, is well worth the money

It fits perfectly on to a rigger's belt and is designed primarily to be worn in conjunction with a vest or chest rig, the idea being that when fixed to the platform the holster hangs below belt level, thereby giving you clearance to draw your side arm without getting tangled up in your vest. It obviously works just as well without a vest and makes placing your side arm on your hip that little bit more comfortable if you happen to like wearing your trousers quite high, thanks in large part to the fact that it has three different fixing points, all of which give you the option to rotate the holster through 360 degrees

At the moment I generally wear a chest rig and a PLB belt and already have a Serpa drop leg platform. However, I've been toying with the idea of going out with a second side arm but a) didn't want it fixed to my PLB belt and b) didn't want it fixed to my chest rig. The IMI BEP allows me to carry a second side arm suspended from my rigger's belt which drops below both my chest rig and my PLB belt!

And that's not all I spent my hard earned cash on last week. I mentioned in my review that Land Warrior Airsoft were at the show for the first time, and I was delighted they were. A week or two before the show I ordered, and paid for, an Ares PPSH 41 from them and picked it up at the show to save on postage. Ive been wanting one of these iconic guns for some time, and finally decided to take the plunge

The Ares PPSH 41
There are three versions of this gun currently available, the Hexagon, the Ares and the S&T Armaments one, which is to all intents and purposes a lower priced clone of the Ares. I don't usually do this, but on this occasion I decided to go for the most expensive option and buy the Ares, and I'm very glad I did

The build quality is excellent, and it looks and feels absolutely fantastic. Taking the battery in and out couldn't be simpler. Flip down the cover on the butt plate, unclip the false screw at the top to allow the butt plate to swivel out the way and, hey presto, you're there. It will take a small 8.4 battery, or a 9.6 crane stock battery, which is what you can see in the photo below

I can't tell you what the rate of fire is, [but it sounds pretty reasonable] and I don't have a chrono at home but the video below will give you an idea of what the FPS is. It fires on semi-auto [single shot] and full auto, the hop is readily accessible and very easy to adjust, it has an EBB [electric blow back] action and the drum mag it comes with has a capacity of 2,000 rounds! Plenty to keep you out on the field of battle for quite some time, even in a general open day game let alone a WW2 one, without the need for a refill. A good job, too, if you ask me. I have one tiny criticism of this gun, and it may well be one of those things which varies from gun to gun rather than being a design fault, and that's that the magazine cover is very tight fitting. It's a bit of a wrench to get it off, which in some respects is no bad thing, but it would be tricky to refill it in the middle of a firefight. And refill it is what you would need to do, because as far as I know you can't buy spares!

The mag cover [top] is very tight, even with a dab or two of trust petroleum jelly smeared around the edge
This baby holds around 2,000 rounds which is far in excess of the rival Hexagon version
Detail of the hop adjusting mechanism, accessible by pulling the bolt back and locking it into position
A more detailed shot of the repro strap. Unfortunately this doesn't come supplied with the gun, however, real ones aren't that hard to come by and if you have a scout around on a WW2 airsoft forum or two, as I did, you ought to be able to get one pretty easily

That's all, folks, as far as new additions to my collections are concerned for this month. If you fancy one of the guns, I would heartily recommend the services of LWA. What's more, they offer it at the best price for a UK based retailer. Happy hunting

Friday 27 May 2011

John Gittins: New Stuff

Any toy soldier collector, or wargamer for that matter, keen on displaying their figures against realistic looking terrain will probably be familiar with the work of John Gittins. If not, then I strongly advise you visit his website and take a look at some of his towering trees and architectural masterpieces. They are a sight to behold. Not inexpensive, but you get what you pay for

Anyway, I'm here tonight to tell you about some recent additions to his range of terrain mats and other scenic accessories. The terrain mats come in a range of finishes, sizes and prices but have in common the fact that they are made of a thin, flexible rubber-like material which means they are easy to cut to size and can be rolled up for no-nonsense storage if your troops fancy a change of scenery!

The new mats are pictured below

First up is this town crossroad mat, 13" X 30" in size and £37.50 directly from JG

Pasture mat with river, same size as above but a little more expensive at £47.20

Both of the above mats are also 13" X 30" and priced at £45.00 each

Both of the last two mats show a figure placed on them and 'blended in' to the surrounding terrain with the addition of two more new products, namely plastic soil and plastic sand, so called because they are made from tiny pieces of crushed, hand coloured plastic which won't damage the painted surface of your beloved figures. Marvellous!

Last, but by no means least, a bottle of weeds! The ones pictured above, 'growing' out of the soil. I actually have some of these and like them a lot. Actually, it's somewhat of a misnomer to use the word 'them'. The product is hard to describe, but it comes in a plastic bottle and is a bit rubbery to the touch, with a quality not unlike an elastic band, covered in the kind of material you find sticking to model trees!

Don't get me wrong. This isn't me being critical. I love it, and it's incredibly versatile. You can have big clumps of it, and it looks like a small bush, or you can break bits off, and tease it apart to have it strung along a base edge to give depth to a display and/or hide unsightly seams between base and backdrop, or have it in smaller clumps as in the picture above

If you look closely at the following images you can see some of it strung out along the back of the base boards and, in my opinion, it helps to create the illusion that the figures and terrain boards in question really are part of the overall scene pictured in the background poster. See what you think

Thanks John for some wonderful additions to your expanding range of sensational scenic items. Your work is very much appreciated

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Beau Geste Digest

Hello again, fans of the glossy sheen. On the one hand I am delighted to bring you more news from Argentina, via Martin, and on the other a bit disappointed because some of the news is a little sad

Once again, I have included images here of the newsletter sent to me by Martin, in which he refers to the decision taken recently by the owners of the company to scale down production of their Beau Geste branded figures

They have chosen to concentrate their efforts on two ranges, namely the Delhi Durbar, 1903 and WW1. So, they are gradually ceasing production of all other figures, starting with those belonging to the American War of Independence and American Civil War ranges. I have included pictures here of some of the sets in question, however, there are 26 in all being retired with immediate effect. The company will be taking orders for them until June 7th, and after that there will be no more

Martin's newsletter

A small selection of the sets being retired, four from the AWI and the last one from the ACW range

Lovely figures, I'm sure you'll agree. Get them before they disappear for good!

Monday 23 May 2011

First Legion: On the march!

First Legion have just announced the release of a raft load of new figures for a number of their ranges, and posted a few very tantalising images of figures on their workbench page

As always, I've chosen to concentrate here on figures that particularly interest me so, if you want more details, I would advise you take a look at their website and fill your boots. All I can say is, you'd better have big boots!

First up, their new Glory Of Rome range is up and running with eight legionaries now available to buy

There are lots more figures planned for this range, including their German enemies [hence my interest in the series] as well as these little beauties

This mounted legate is imperious indeed. A very fitting command figure for the legion

Their flagship Napoleonic range sees the addition of the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, 17 figures in all, in very dynamic and animated poses, perfectly designed to form square against the charging French cavalry at Waterloo. They are now available to buy

World War Two collectors, like myself, haven't been left out. Several DAK infantry figures have been released, as well as a beautifully modelled and cleverly designed version of the Opel Blitz truck, with cargo, to be purchased separately, should you want it

The supplies are sold separately as a complete set, however, the vehicle comes with a host of features; removable metal support frames, a removable canvas cover, three benches [two of which can be taken out] in the rear for seated figures, an opening tailgate and a crank handle you can put in the grill at the front. I wonder how long it will be before we see this in field grey for Stalingrad?

Speaking of which, they have also added four tank riders, wrapped up for the winter, to their Stalingrad range. Each comes with a separate base so they can be displayed either astride their steel steed or lying and crouching on the ground taking advantage of any available cover

Some while ago now, the company released a magnificent 150mm howitzer and crew set. They are now selling the gun and crew figures [5 in all] separately, making it a) a little easier to spread the load and afford the complete set should you want it, and b) possible to use the crew figures for an altogether different gun!

If you're a collector of their Crusades range, then you can take pleasure from the fact that they have added five more Mamluks to the series, and very colourful they are, too

To finish, two more teasers from the workbench. I'm running out of superlatives to describe this company's products and, just for now at any rate, I'm not going to try. The pictures are more than capable of speaking for themselves, and they do a much better job than I can. Adieu!

Sunday 22 May 2011

Airsoft: Tour of Duty - AAF

Yesterday was the day of the AAF, Airsoft Arms Fair, the first of two to be held this year at The Grange, the home of Gunman Midlands. This was the third time the event has been held and it's quite simply going from strength to strength

Over 600 visitors passed through the gates yesterday, a big increase on last year according to one of the organisers, and I'd be very surprised if any of them returned home unhappy or disappointed. I know I didn't

Stall holders included Airsoft Direct, Airsoft Skirmish, All About Airsoft, Baseline Supplies, Badger Tac, DingoDogs Airsoft, East Midlands Airsoft, Edgar Brothers Airsoft, Land Warrior Airsoft, Skirmish Clothing and Soldier of Fortune. In addition to the above, several skirmish sites and game organisers were represented and Pete 'Snapper' Winner was in attendance, promoting his new book and doing a couple of talks

Please forgive the quality of the following photos. I went to the show armed only with my i-phone 3 and a recently purchased Hitachi pocket camcorder, which I'm quite pleased with, but it's not a patch on the Lumix G1!

Two of the folks on the DingoDogs stall. Thanks guys for making the journey down all the way from Liverpool. I picked up a couple of FastMags and an IMI belt mounted extension platform for my Sig holster from these guys. Very nice

Land Warrior also made it down to the show, all the way from north of the border. Thanks guys for the gun I picked up from you. Good to put some faces to the voices over the phone! Hope to see you again at the next show

Sam from Skirmish Clothing, who sell tee shirts with airsoft slogans and designs of various kinds printed on them. They will also do custom work for airsoft teams or sites, and not just tee shirts but ball caps and polo shirts as well

SOF also travelled quite some distance to get down here. Their first time at the show, it was really good to see them there and hopefully they will come again
Afghan Heroes were also at the show, represented by a rather tasty looking motor cycle and a couple of attractive young ladies selling raffle tickets. Every time I passed through that particular tent they seemed to be very busy. It must have been the 'all in a good cause' line pulling the punters in, I guess!

In addition to the trade stalls, game site stands and the AH raffle, Airsoft International were there as one of the main sponsors, and UKAPU also had a stand. A number of private sellers also pitched up to off load some of their excess, or no longer wanted, items at bargain prices and the event was also chosen as the ideal launch pad for an online auction site, designed to run along similar lines to e-bay but with lower fees and aimed solely at airsofters

Banner for the Airsoft Auction Site, with a very intriguing name
Looking this mean and moody takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, or so I'm told! A regular at Fireball, Jay was at the show with some mates promoting their Vietnam reenactment group

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if it is bust, who better to put it right than the lads at Gun Munki. They were on hand all day, fixing and mending and giving out advice to those of us, like me, who aren't too good with gizmos, gadgets and grease. Thanks for fixing my Luger mag, Jamie. Much appreciated
Edgar Brothers Airsoft, another of the event's main sponsors, had a rather nice selection of Masadas and M4s on display, and just after I'd taken this photo and started talking to one of their representatives about the multi-cam patterned rifle on the stand I was given a Magpul i-phone case, completely free. There were plenty of them on sale at the show for £10 a piece, so thanks guys

Finally, but by no means least, mention must be made of the hard working cafe staff who were extremely busy all day keeping us fed and watered. They're there every game day, too, making the Grange one of the best sites to eat at in the country, in my humble opinion. A big thumbs up for my bacon bap, simple and delicious, just the way it should be

A shot of the covered seating area just outside the kitchen
So, if you haven't already made it down to the AAF, you ought to give it some serious thought. There will be another one later in the year, around October time I think, possibly held over two days rather than one, such was the interest shown this time round. Great show guys. Can hardly wait for the next!