Saturday 25 February 2012

Latest Additions: Wittmann Diorama

Hi folks. If you've been following this series of posts you will know that I'm in the middle of putting together a diorama featuring Michael Wittmann and the Tiger 1 he commanded at Villers-Bocage

You will also know that I now have most of the figures and vehicles I want to populate it with. Indeed, the only thing I'm waiting on now is a cute little VW in Normandy three colour camo produced by K&C as part of their Vehicles 250 series

The terrain part of the diorama is being produced by the one and only Dave Marshall of TM Terrain fame whose work has now been featured at countless toy soldier shows and is frequently seen on the pages of toy soldier and wargaming hobby magazines

He sent me an email the other day to update me on the progress of the project and included three 'work in progress' shots of the assembled display area which is made up of four 1' square boards capable of being used together or as stand alone pieces

There's quite a lot still to be done but these pictures allow you to see the overall structure of the composition. I'm very pleased with it an can hardly wait to see how it will finally turn out once the finishing touches have been put to it

It still needs painting and flocking, water needs to be added to the holes in the road and to the ditches on either side, there' a fence to be added to the left-hand side, wire fencing to be added to the existing fence posts, and a fair bit of vegetation [bushes etc.] to be placed in the gaps between and around the trees

This is the largest diorama piece I have commissioned so far and I'm very excited about it. I'll be sure to keep you posted

Thomas Gunn: February Update

Speaks for itself this one and, hopefully, 'does exactly what it says on the tin', providing those of you interested in TG figures an update on the recently released sets as well as a sneak preview of a forthcoming release for their Napoleonic range
Dear Gunn Club
Our February releases arrived today and have already started being shipped out as we speak. All dealers and clients will receive a tracking label when the goods leave
The Kettenkrads and new Imperial Guard have been heavily ordered and I expect we will will sell out of some of these very soon at our end
Next month is going to be a very lean month for releases thanks to CNY but no doubt some of you will appreciate the rest!
I have attached a sculpt of a new figure going into production now for your perusal - part of our Napoleonic range of course!
Our website is also being revamped and will hopefully be launched at the end of the month so watch this space for new figures then!
Kind Regards Tom

Happy hunting!

Latest Additions

I finally succumbed to the temptation and bought my very first World War One figure the other day. It is a very delightful figure from Thomas Gunn depicting a German storm trooper wielding a rather terrifying looking flame thrower

He was purchased from Maison Militaire along with two more WW2 figure sets from the same maker showing German troops in summer camo gingerly going about their business of clearing enemy mines!

I don't actually have any firm plans for these guys in terms of a diorama to slot them into but I simply had to have them, partly because of the unusual nature of the subject matter and partly because they are priced at a little over £41 a set, making them remarkably good value for money

The mine detecting sensor comes as a separate piece placed in a thin pre-cut slot in the top of the foam packaging and fits easily into pre-drilled holes in the soldiers' hands
The WW1 figure is the first of a series I am planning to buy, all depicting storm troopers towards the end of the war. The next purchase is currently en route to these shores from Canada as I type this post and will appear in the next LA missive!

WW1 Flamethrower

The flamethrower was invented in 1901 by a German engineer named Richard Fiedler

The German army tested two models of flamethrower, one large and one small. The smaller, lighter Flammenwerfer (the Kleinflammenwerfer) was designed for portable use, carried by a single man.  Using pressurised air and carbon dioxide or nitrogen it belched forth a stream of burning oil for as much as 18 metres. Fielder's second, larger model (the Grossflammenwerfer), worked along the same lines but was not suitable for transport by a single person, however its maximum range was twice that of the smaller model; it could also sustain flames for a (then) impressive forty seconds, although it was decidedly expensive in its use of fuel

Having tested the Flammenwerfer in 1900 the German army deployed it for use in three specialist battalions from 1911 onwards. They were first used in combat against the French trenches at Malancourt north of Verdun Feb. 26, 1915 but their use was sporadic and unremarkable. The first notable use of the Flammenwerfer came in a surprise attack launched by the Germans upon the British at Hooge in Flanders where the opposing trenches were as little as 4 or 5 metres apart. Springing forward at 0315 on 30 July 1915 the Germans made effective use of the portable Flammenwerfer

German flamethrowers during the First World War on the Western Front, 1917

The surprise attack proved terrifying to the British opposition, although their line, initially pushed back, was stabilised later that same night. In two days of severe fighting the British lost 31 officers and 751 other ranks, most of whom were shot having been flushed out of their defensive positions by the flamethrowers
The weapon consisted of a 4 foot long, vertically positioned steel cylinder, horizontally divided in two, with pressurized gas in the lower section and flammable oil in the upper section. On depressing a lever the propellant gas forced the flammable oil into and through a rubber tube and over a simple igniting wick device in a steel nozzle projecting a jet of fire along with enormous clouds of choking black smoke 

With the success of the Hooge attack, at least so far as the Flammenwerfer was concerned, the German army adopted the device on a widespread basis across all fronts deployed in groups of six with each machine being worked by two men. Their main role was to clear forward defenders at the start of a German attack in advance of a larger infantry assault

They were undeniably useful when used at short-range, but were of limited wider effectiveness, especially once the British and French had overcome their initial alarm at their use. The operators of Flammenwerfer equipment also lived a most dangerous existence

Quite aside from the worries of handling the device - it was entirely feasible that the cylinder carrying the fuel might unexpectedly explode - they were marked men; the British and French poured rifle-fire into the area of attack where Flammenwerfers were used, and their operators could expect no mercy should they be taken prisoner. Their life expectancy was therefore short

A French propaganda cartoon giving a clear indication of how the flamethrower was perceived

The flamethrower had other limitations: it was cumbersome and difficult to operate and could only be safely fired from a trench, so limiting its use to areas where the opposing trenches were closer than the maximum range of the weapon, which was not a common situation. They also used up fuel rather rapidly

Nevertheless, the German army continued developing the weapon and used it in more than 300 battles launching in excess of 650 attacks

Until next time, happy hunting!

Saturday 18 February 2012

Beau Geste Digest

This landed in my inbox the other day and I thought I'd share it with you, the latest Delhi Durbar releases from our friends across the pond together with some informative historical details regarding a few of the artists whose work has inspired many of the sets being produced by the company. I hope you enjoy reading it


In the middle of our hot summer down here, we are back with a new Delhi Durbar set, the first one for 2012, The Gwalior Horsemen

An illustration of Gwalior horsemen by Mortimer Menpes
Since we base many of our Durbar sets on paintings, sketches and drawings [like the one above] I thought it'd be fun to tell you something about the artists behind the original art works

Mortimer Menpes

He was born in Port Adelaide, South Australia, the second son of a property developer named James Menpes, who settled in Australia in 1839. Educated at Adelaide Educational Institution, he attended classes at the Adelaide School of Design, and did some excellent work as a photo-colourist but his formal art training began at the School of Art in London in 1878, after his family moved back to England in 1875

Akali from Patiala riding on ponies

In 1900, after the outbreak of the Boer War, Menpes was sent to South Africa as a war artist for the weekly illustrated magazine Black and White. After the end of the war in 1902 he travelled widely, visiting Burma, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kashmir, Mexico, Morocco, and Spain. Many of his illustrations were published in travel books by A & C Black. His book on the Delhi Durbar was an illustrated record of the commemoration in Delhi of the coronation of King Edward VII

Akali from Jhind

Horsemen from Gwalior with parasol holders

Leonard Raven-Hill

Hill was born in Bath and studied at the Lambeth School of Art, and later in Paris. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and other prestigious galleries, but was increasingly drawn to pen-and-ink work. In 1893 he became founder joint-editor of the humorous art periodical Butterfly, and in 1895 he started contributing to Punch, joining its staff in 1901. He went out to India in the winter of 1902, capturing the historic moment when Lord Kitchener's luggage was brought on board ship at the Suez Canal (Kitchener was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in November 1902)

In some of his Indian sketches, such as the one showing him with the "Cashmere giant," Raven-Hill calls himself a war correspondent. He certainly traveled widely there and spent time with the British troops stationed in various places. From later sketches it is clear that another purpose of the cartoonist's visit was to cover the Delhi Durbar

Akalis from Jhind, riding ponies

Inglis Sheldon-Williams

Williams is recognized as one of Saskatchewan’s major early artists. Born in Hampshire, England on December 25, 1870, he was the son of a landscape painter. Sheldon-Williams first came to Canada in 1887, homesteading at Cannington Manor in southeastern Saskatchewan. He returned to England in 1891 and began his art studies

Gwalior emblem and parasol bearers
Between 1899 and 1904, Sheldon-Williams travelled extensively in South Africa, India and Europe, producing drawings and watercolour illustrations that were published in periodicals in London. Following his marriage in 1904, he lived in Gloucestershire, England, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy in London, the Paris Salon, and at a variety of other exhibitions in both London and Europe

The illustrations of Sheldon-Williams have provided the inspiration for many of BG's elephants. The one pictured below shows the Rewa Executioner riding in the howdah, a figure based on another illustration by Menpes, also shown below

I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and looking at the pictures! Until next time, happy hunting!

Monday 6 February 2012

Thomas Gunn: Recent Releases

Nearly one week into February and it sounds like we are in for a bit of a cold snap here in the UK. Fortunately, we have our hobbies to immerse ourselves in whilst the weather conspires to keep us all in doors and the thought of the next parcel landing on the door mat may help to make us feel a little warmer inside

Speaking of which, I have just ordered three figure sets from the company which is the subject of this post, and I'm very much looking forward to receiving them around about the middle of this week, all being well!

Without further ado, I will hand you over to Tom for a few details about their latest releases

Release Notes February 2012

January 2012 was one of the best sales months ever for Thomas Gunn and I want to thank all of those who supported us in achieving this

ATW002 sold out within 10 days and LOA001 Lawrence had virtually disappeared by the second week point. Amazing when you consider the state of the worldwide economy! It also looks as though the GW001 Flamethrower and LOA002 MG sets are nearly sold out at our end. We actually sold more WW1 than WW2 on a per figure basis which I am still trying to get my head around!

Without further delay please see below for what’s on offer in February:


RHA 1815 Rocket Set has now landed and is priced at $77. Apologies but the factory came back with a higher than anticipated manufacturing cost hence the slightly increased price. However, still good value for money and I am sure it's not going to put too many of you off a great looking piece

The Rocketeers set, version B

One of the crew, this time without a hat.....

.....and the other with a shifty looking eye patch!

Version A of the Rocketeers set

NAP003 – 006

The Imperial Guard were Napoleon’s elite troops and were under his personal command at all times. They could not be committed to battle or even moved without Napoleon's express permission. They were the last troops into action at Waterloo, as part of Napoleon's last desperate gamble to beat Wellington before Blucher arrived. Unfortunately for Napoleon even these magnificent soldiers could not sway the tide of defeat engulfing Napoleon’s 100 day empire

As part of our tribute to the Imperial Guard, we have launched 4 figures comprising the following:

Features a standing firing rifleman available in 2 versions with blue campaign trousers for the A version and cream trousers for the B version

Kneeling rifleman with blue trousers for the A version and B version wearing old empire style blue and white striped trousers!

Comprises a standing Guardsman reaching for another musket ball as he reloads his firearm. The A version wears blue trousers and the B version is wearing a nice shade of cream!

An Imperial Guard officer shouts orders to his troops to hold the line! The A version wears blue trousers and the B version sports cream trousers

All the above are limited to 200 of the A version and 200 of the B version and are priced at $34 per figure. A little more than I would have liked to have priced these figures at, but the realistic grass on the base, single figure boxes and detailed painting are to blame! We have produced 150 of each version on this initial run with the remaining 50 sets following in April

Four more Imperial Guard will follow next month to bolster these magnificent troops


More FJ’S in the form of Tank Riders! The A version represents two soldiers from SS Battalion 500/600. These SS soldiers fought mainly on the Eastern Front however they were also present at the Battle of the Bulge. These troops have no base so they can be used in a multitude of other settings, eg in a lorry, building or a boat. This version is limited to 150 pieces

The B version features our FJ troops in more conventional Normandy Luftwaffe pattern uniform and is limited to 150 pieces

The C version has our troops dressed in desert camouflage and is limited to 100 pieces only. All the FJ sets are priced at $64


Following on our theme of Tank Riders we've also launched 2 British Tank Riders in the form of a standing PIAT gunner and his sitting number 2 with a case of PIAT ammunition. Limited to 200 sets in the Paratrooper version and 100 in the Army Commando version. Once again a very flexible set of figures that can be used on a vehicle, in a dinghy or in a building. As we don’t have any Allied tanks out at the moment, these chaps will have to grab a ride on one of Andy’s tanks for the time being!

Priced at $64 for the pair!


Kettenkrad in 3 versions! The Kettenkrad was a multi use all terrain vehicle put into service with the SS, Heer and Luftwaffe. Our version comes with a removable driver figure and a trailer containing 2 wooden boxes. Limited to 150 in each version and priced at the $99 mark

The A version features an SS driver with smock, with sand coloured vehicle and green stripe pattern

The B version comprises a Hermann Goring driver and a sand coloured Kettenkrad

The C version is in grey, with Luftwaffe plates and a Luftwaffe trooper in smock

Once again a very limited edition piece that is bound to be popular with collectors

Our shipment was delayed by 2 weeks due to CNY so none of the above will be available until 20th February at the earliest unfortunately!

That’s all for now folks, speak to you in a couple of weeks for the mid month news update!

Best Regards Tom

Likewise, I'll be back with more news from Tom in a couple of weeks time. Until then, happy hunting!