Thursday 28 July 2011

Simply Stamps!

I don't know about you but I, like many others I'm sure, got bitten by the collecting bug many years ago when I was a child and it all began with stamps! Postage stamps, that is

It was a hobby my mother helped me to enjoy. We would go into the city centre together and visit one of the local stamp dealers, and every Christmas and birthday she would buy me a commemorative set or two as well as the annual Christmas stamps

It was something I genuinely loved but over the years my interest in stamp collecting started to take second place to a number of other interests all of which involve collecting things, namely wargaming and, more recently, toy soldiers, militaria and airsofting

The other day, however, and I really don't know how or why it happened, I found myself thinking once again about my stamp collection. It's very modest, and not large by any stretch of the imagination and, although I haven't added to it for literally years, I've always stored it somewhere where I can get to it easily should the urge to add to it ever come upon me again

I took the two 16 leaf stock books out of the Ikea storage box they are packed in, dusted them off, [metaphorically speaking] and began looking through them, in so doing rekindling my interest in the hobby

I've spent the last few days reacquainting myself with an old Stanley Gibbons GB catalogue, and reworking my wants list, as well as looking up local dealers on the internet

The two dealers I used to frequent as a boy in the centre of Birmingham have long since gone, and they haven't been replaced. It didn't take me all that long, however, to find the details of a dealer over in Stratford. We communicated via email and mobile phone and earlier today I travelled over there to meet him in person

Phill has an extensive selection of stamps from all over the world, not just GB
Travelling as a family, myself, the wife and two young children, we arrived in Stratford not long after 11.30 in the morning. A pleasant walk by the river, followed by lunch consisting of a pasty from a local pasty shop and a coffee and cake from Holdens Patisserie, and then on to the stamp shop

The shop is actually a unit within the Stratford Antiques and Interiors Centre and from the moment I saw the photo on the dealer's website I decided it was just the sort of place I wanted to go and take a closer look at. Here is the address of the antiques centre, followed by the website photo and three more that I took on my i-phone during the visit earlier today

Dodwell Trading Estate
Evesham Road
CV37 9SY

Stepping into the shop was like taking a step back in time, entirely appropriate when the items being sold are stamps and various other items relating to postal history, and history more generally as a matter of fact. I simply loved it, so much so that I completely lost track of time and finished up spending the best part of two hours in there, most of it sat at the desk shown in the last photograph, poring over volumes of stamps and talking with the owner about the direction I wanted to take my collection in

And that's part of the reason why I decided to post about my visit this evening. Phill [and yes that really is his name] talked me through a whole load of stuff and gave me a lot to chew over and I'm very grateful for the time he spent with me. I've decided to continue with my collection of GB stamps, limited to Christmas sets, commemorative issues with a military related theme, and definitives from various reigns, and I've also decided to embark on a new collection of Third Reich stamps

So, all in all, I've had a very enjoyable, educational and thought provoking day. If anyone asks me "Have you called Phill lately?" I will answer honestly, "Yes, and I'll be doing so again very, very soon"

Sunday 17 July 2011

Simply Soldiers Updates

Hi there, and thanks again for checking in

Those of you with a keen eye might have noticed one or two changes and additions to the layout, and for those of you who haven't, I'm here to let you know what they are

Firstly, I've reduced the number of links to my mixes hosted on Soundcloud. Rather than having each of them displayed in the widget bar to the right, I'm now displaying links to the two most played mixes and anything new, so at the moment that means there are three links. Please check them out if you haven't already done so, especially the newly published track with the rather long and, perhaps, slightly perplexing title. No prizes involved, but I'd very much like to hear from anyone who can tell me why I chose to give it that name

The other major change involves the establishment of the Simply Soldiers Store, powered by Amazon!

Why not pop in and take a look. You'll find a number of categories and loads of products gathered together, all related in some way to the content of the blog, including books on military history, roleplaying, wargaming, military modelling and toy soldiers, models of various kinds, DVDs and lots more

Until next time. Happy hunting!

Friday 15 July 2011

Beau Geste Digest

Funny, isn't it, how these things happen, but here I am again writing about Italians! Not Romans this time, but Italians fighting in the Great War in the shape of some more gloriously glossy figures from this Argentine manufacturer

The latest newsletter came through only the other day, so here are a few snippets

Although a member of the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany, Italy did not declare war in August 1914, arguing that the Alliance was defensive in nature and therefore that Austria-Hungary's aggression did not obligate Italy to take part. By 1915 Italy had left the TA and entered the fighting as part of the Triple Entente

One of the photographs that inspired the new Italian figures

The Italian campaign refers to a series of battles fought between the armies of Austria-Hungary and Italy, along with their allies, in northern Italy between 1915 and 1918. Italy hoped that by joining the countries of the Triple Entente against the Central Powers it would gain Cisalpine Tyrol (today's provinces of Trentino and South Tyrol), the Austrian Littoral, and northern Dalmatia. Although Italy had hoped to begin the war with a surprise offensive intended to move quickly and capture several Austrian cities, the war soon bogged down into trench warfare similar to the Western Front fought in France

Italian infantry in summer uniform followed by.....

.....their regimental band

The Italian Royal Army's first real taste of modern warfare was during World War I. Most of the actions were fought in northern Italy and the Royal Army suffered many casualties. This included over 700,000 dead. The frequency of offensives between May 1915 and August 1917, one every three months, was higher than experienced by the armies on the Western Front

Late to enter the war against the Central Powers, she faced a massively defended Austro-Hungarian front in the north, including strong mountain features, as well as distractions in the Balkans and a simultaneous rebellion in her Libyan colony. Costly and repeated battles on the Isonzo front culminated in the disaster of Caporetto in October 1917

Italian infantry in winter uniform, together with the band!

Beau Geste figures can be ordered direct from the manufacturer, or through their UK agent and distributor, Martin Ainscough

Happy hunting!

If Romans Are Your Thing.....

.....then you probably think this is a pretty good time to be collecting toy soldiers, after all First Legion have recently embarked on a range of Romans, and so have The Collectors Showcase

I've already referred to this addition to the TSC stable in a previous post, so this will be short and sweet. The following figures are now available to order, either direct from the company in the US or from the likes of Maison Militaire and TM Terrain here in the UK

TCS is proud to present the Claudian invasion of Britain! Once again the Roman Legions descend upon the barbarian. Witness this last attempt to subdue the Celtic horde! From war elephants to catapults, from Celtic chariots to scorpions there has never been a Roman release quite like this. With our now infamous sculpting and connoisseur paint you’ll get more of the action you’re looking for. TCS takes sculpting to a new level with these little beasts. Each piece moves like the wind. Every paint stroke convinces one that the pieces are alive!

They may lack the finesse of a First Legion paint job but, advertising blurb aside, they are certainly substantial, well animated figures and will undoubtedly look quite striking if displayed together as part of a large diorama. All in all, they represent pretty good value for money

Happy hunting!

The Agony and the Ecstasy

You might be forgiven for thinking I'm beginning to lose the plot, and you're probably wondering what on earth the title of this post has to do with toy soldiers. All I can say in my defence is that it sums up perfectly the feelings that overcome me whenever I read the latest newsletter from First Legion, as I did a little earlier this evening!

Matt and the team have announced another tranche of new releases, that's right, in addition to the new Roman releases I wrote about in another First Legion themed post only a few days ago! Most of the delights referred to here aren't available for delivery until August, but they certainly deserve a mention, and you can decide for yourselves whether you pre-order them or save your pennies over the coming weeks

So, here goes. A few words from Matt, together with some eye candy, and informative captions. Enjoy!

We are very pleased to present the first release of our coverage of both a new nationality and a new Napoleonic Battle, Aspern Essling!!!  Of course, this means the Austrians and we have started off with a very colorful release in the form of the Grenadier Companies of the 2nd Hungarian Line Regiment converged into the Hahn Grenadier Battalion.  As with all of our releases, this one is expansive and consists of 18 different figures to lead the Austrian attack including an Officer, Drummer, NCO, Mounted Colonel, Standard Bearer, Sapper, and 12 Grenadiers, including dead and wounded.   Though designed for  Aspern Essling, the figures fit perfectly into any 1809 or later battle in which the Austrians took the field. So use them for Wagram, Dresden, Leipzig, Raab, or any other of the many Napoleonic battles in which the Austrians took part! 

All 18 of First Legion's Austrians, grouped together in line of battle formation

Also this month we are very pleased to present our latest offerings for our Stalingrad figure range, VEH006 Opel Blitz Truck and GERSTAL030-GERSTAL034, various figures to accompany the truck!  For the first time, we have taken the range into the realm of logistics with some non-combat figures that when used in conjunction with one another provide some wonderful diorama opportunities of Germans on the move or resupplying.   The seated figures in particular add a wonderful element of variety as they can be used equally well as passengers for the Opel Blitz, as Tank Riders, or simply seated on our boxes or other diorama elements 

This picture shows the new Opel Blitz together with the four seated figures, shown inside the truck and also sitting on the tank in the background, the additional supplies set, and the infantry figure sets manhandling some of the cargo

Boxes not included, but so what! The beauty of these figures is that you can seat them just about anywhere. Display options limited only by your imagination!

The additional supplies set, including a couple of boxes and crates to sit some of your figures on!

Two figure sets depicting hard pressed German infantrymen manhandling cargo into, or out of, this.....

.....a beautiful rendition of the ubiquitous Opel Blitz which is flexible enough to be displayed in a variety of ways, just like the DAK version already on sale

The model has the following features:
- Removable Rear Canvas Cover
- Removable Rear Metal Support Frames
- Opening and Closing Rear Door
- 3 Benches in the rear, 2 of which are removable
- Removable Hand Crank Starter for Front Engine Grill

Last, but by no means least, Matt has announced yet another new series and, what with my penchant for soldiery of a Germanic persuasion, I'm afraid it means a few more must have figures to add to my wish list, and that my friends is where the agony comes in!

Yes, we are turning our efforts to a period of history that garners very little coverage in the toy soldier world, the Renaissance, and starting off with the Battle of Pavia in 1525.   For more details and lots of big delicious images of our latest figure range, please visit the “Renaissance” page on our website.    This range will launch for pre-order in September 2011.  We sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Oh, for a lottery win! Until next time, happy hunting!

Monday 11 July 2011

Thomas Gunn Miniatures

TGM have just announced the release of a few more WW2 German sets and, once again, they are interesting to say the least

What follows is a copy of their latest newsletter, together with a few images of the sets referred to therein

Dear Gunn Club

Please find pictures attached of the new releases for July which some people have already been ordering I am pleased to see! These sets will be available within 10 days for dispatch, or sooner if we get ourselves organised but can be pre-ordered as of today. We are more than happy to hold onto sets until August and you pay for them then if you have already spent your allocated budget elsewhere!

Prices below as follows:

SS014 The Messenger = £33.33

A late war SS soldier delivers urgent dispatches for his comrades at the front. Goes superbly with SS016 Command Set or with other figures of your choice. The bicycle is detachable from the figure and can be used separately if desired as a diorama piece. Winter version limited to 200 pieces worldwide

SS015 Sig 33 = £57.50

Spring 1945 version limited to 100 pieces worldwide. Comes with 1 crew member who is decorating a 150mm shell with a message for the Allies. Two letters, 'FU', have been inscribed so far in chalk, we will let you decide what the rest of the message says! Comes with detachable dirt surround for spade and 2 spare cannon shells.

SS016 Command Set = £47.92

An SS Officer relays orders to one of his men, who is busy writing down every word 'verbatim!' Very unique set that can be used with our new SIG33 Artillery set or on its own to enhance any diorama. Strictly limited to 100 pieces worldwide in this version

SS018 Tank Hunter (Looking Back) = £33.33

SS019 = £33.33 Tank Hunter (Drinking)

As with the other bike and rider set already featured here, these two riders and their bicycles come as separate pieces so they can be displayed in a variety of ways

All the winter sets are limited to 200 worldwide and the Spring 1945 versions limited to 100 sets worldwide

The SIG33 only comes with 1 crew member in order to keep costs low, but can be combined with any of the above new releases or SSW004 (Add on artillery set) which we still have a few left of here 

The Bicycle Tank Hunters and The Messenger are finely crafted pieces to say the least. Each figure will need to be 'worked' into position so he fits on his bicycle. You may need to refer to the above pictures when you receive your samples in order to make the correct fit. This particularly refers to SS018, please note the placing of the right hand on the saddle, otherwise the whole contraption will just not stand up! Don't let a little tin man on a bike get the better of you is all I can say!

Once again thank you for your support
Kind Regards, Thomas Gunn
So, a few more offerings to ponder from TGM, but if you're thinking about dipping into your pockets, don't spend too long doing so or you will probably miss the boat. 'A little quirky', 'a bit off the beaten track', 'something a little different',  are all expressions that could easily be used to describe what this company produces. 'Strictly limited in number', and 'priced to sell' would be just as applicable, and sell they most certainly will, I have no doubt about that!

Happy hunting!

Friday 8 July 2011

On The Offensive

I know, I need a better line in titles but, hey, I don't do this for a living!

Offensive Miniatures is a relatively recent arrival on the figure producing scene, specialising in 28mm figures aimed primarily at wargamers and modellers. In their own words.....

Offensive Miniatures is a new manufacturer of traditional 28mm wargames figures for both the wargamer and painter/collector, or both!

Take a look around the gallery for examples of our different figures and check catalogue "info" button to see what you get in each pack

It is always our intention for you to be confident that follow on packs and complementary figures for the different ranges are in the pipeline or planned, so please remember to check out the "on the bench" link

Rest assured that when we say something "is available" you can be certain that you can get it, in the full knowledge the production moulds are made

You will find regular updates on new releases on the website and in various specialist wargames magazines

At Offensive Miniatures our aim is simply to offer the finest quality figures, sculpted by some of the best sculptors around, expertly cast, and covering any period of history or the future. All miniatures sold unpainted

Let the Offensive begin ………….

So, there you have it. The company currently produces US and German WW2 paratroopers, a selection of French, British and Polish Napoleonics and two ranges of figures from the 'near future' for the sci-fi gamers out there

Here are a few pictures giving you an idea of what their German Fallschirmjaegers are like

For further information simply take a look at the website by following one of the links above, or if you have any questions or queries contact the company founder at either of the following addresses

PO Box 144,
Cheshire,SK6 9AE.
United Kingdom.


Happy hunting!

The Plastic Soldier Company

The Plastic Soldier Company is a relatively new company selling plastic and resin figures and vehicles in 15mm and 1/72 [20mm] scales

The Plastic Soldier Company Ltd is the brainchild of William Townshend, a lifelong wargamer and military history enthusiast

Frustrated by the limitations of soft polythene gaming figures that one frequently finds in toyshops, which are usually both difficult to paint and which suffer from a surfeit of poses that are of little use to the average wargamer, Will saw the potential for creating a range of high-quality miniatures using modern hard plastics. This means that he can help wargamers wanting to build their armies rapidly and at the best possible value for money

At the same time, it was important to Will that his products are of a standard that will satisfy the demands of the modeller and diorama builder, with their particular demands for accurate period detail in both uniforms and weaponry

You can expect to see many more periods and scales being added to this exciting range: keep an eye on the gaming press for details. If you have any requests or suggestions, please get in touch!

At the moment, the company is producing an expanding range of WW2 figures and vehicles and, in addition, is selling a selection of Mainly Military scenic items and ready-to-roll resin vehicles from Raventhorpe

A painted T-34 from their range of Russian figures and vehicles and..... exploded diagram illustrating the model's component parts

For £16.50 you get five, injection moulded, easy assembly 15mm vehicles and enough parts to allow you to make each of them either a T34/76 or a T34/85. They also make a 20mm version sold as a box of three vehicles for £12.50

57 hard plastic 1/72 scale miniatures depicting WW2 Late War German Infantry 1943-45 as follows:
    •    6 junior officers/NCOs
    •    39 grenadiers
    •    6 light machine gun teams

Some of the German infantry, taken out of the box, glued together and painted. They look quite good, don't they?

So, if you're a Flames of War, or Rapid Fire, enthusiast The Plastic Soldier Company may well have something that takes your fancy. Why not check them out