Thursday 31 July 2014

Michael Wittmann Diorama

It's early in the morning, or maybe late in the day, and very soon we will be at the beginning of August, a fateful month 70 years ago this year for one highly successful and highly decorated tank commander by the name of Michael Wittmann

Some time ago now I decided to put together a diorama featuring Wittmann and The Collectors Showcase model of the Tiger 1 he was commanding when he achieved his famous victory against a British armoured column in Villers-Bocage. I posted about my plans at the time but never got round to posting about the final outcome, namely the completed diorama. I haven't been deliberately putting it off but I was thinking about it again the other day and soon realised that this year, 2014, is the 70th anniversary of his death. What better time then to finally get to grips with that post?

The more historically aware readers might be thinking at this point that Wittmann died in August, not July, and on August 8th, rather than right at the beginning of the month, and of course you'd be right. On August 4th I will be travelling to the picturesque countryside of central Wales to enjoy a few days holiday with the family, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the almost constant distractions afforded to me by electronic devices and the world wide web. Whilst I won't be entirely 'out of the loop' I certainly won't be sitting down at a machine typing blog posts! So, I decided to get this one in a little ahead of time in that sense

This post isn't a personal tribute, nor is it intended to be a history lesson. For anyone interested in finding out more about the details of Wittmann's life as a tank commander, and/or his death at the hands of the Allies in 1944, then there's plenty of information to look at on the internet. I have taken the liberty of including a few details here, together with links to a handful of what I consider to be fairly reliable and informative sites

Information taken from

Information taken form

The bulk of the post consists of photographs of the completed diorama which, hopefully, you will enjoy my sharing with you and from which you may be able to take some ideas or inspiration for dioramas of your own. At this point I'd just like to say that whilst the photographs are my own work, the diorama most certainly is not. I planned it and sketched it out, decided what figures and models I waned to include and then parted with the cash, but the real hard work is down to one man and one man alone, the incomparable David Marshall, the owner and creative genius behind TM Terrain, whose work you will no doubt have seen many times over at toy soldier and wargaming shows or on the pages of Toy Soldier Collector

The inspiration behind the diorama was the Wittmann Tiger and additional crew figures sets released by TCS a while back. The sets themselves were inspired by the photograph of Wittmann that almost every student of WW2 military history must surely know, the one of him sitting proudly atop the turret of a recently manufactured Tiger tank. King and Country had already produced a three figure set depicting a group of Wehrmacht press men and so I decided to take these sets, together with a pinch or two of artistic license and a soupcon of counter-factual history and build my diorama around the taking of this now iconic photograph

Imagine if you will, Wittmann has recently been awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross and in celebration of this event he is being photographed en route to arguably his most famous victory at Villers-Bocage, surrounded by admiring onlookers and soon to be fellow combatants. I hope you enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them and putting the diorama together

The diorama depicts a somewhat battered road and a muddy track 'somewhere' in France, bordered by trees and open fields. It comprises four terrain boards, each measuring approximately 12" square, which can be displayed as separate stand alone pieces or be placed together to make a larger scene as shown here

A few shots of some of the 'onlookers and soon to be fellow combatants'

Pulling up just behind Wittmann's Tiger I have chosen to put this rather nice model of a Panzer IV made by Figarti. Wittmann's Tigers were supported by such a vehicle from the Panzer Lehr division during the action at VB

Tank and crew taking advantage of the opportunity to refuel

And so to the snapping of that iconic piece of propaganda. Wittmann sits proudly atop the turret of his newly acquired vehicle, accompanied by 'Bobby' Woll and other members of his crew

Finally, I thought you might be interested in this AV footage from YouTube, one of many such items relating to Wittmann and to German Panzers more generally. I hope you enjoy the post


Wednesday 30 July 2014

Latest Additions

Let's keep this short and sweet. I've recently bought three mounted 'Asphalt Soldiers' to add to my growing collection of K&C LAH figures, the ones that were retired last month, or was it the month before? I'm getting on a bit now, so please forgive me if I appear a trifle confused

Anyway, here they are in all their glory, if that's in any way at all an appropriate word given what they represent. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do

First up, some shots of the individual riders standing alongside part of the Nuremberg Rally podium, followed by some group shots of the riders 'in situ' taking their place as part of my LAH Barracks diorama

Next up in the latest additions series will probably be the three Berlin '38 personality figures retired at the beginning of this month and, if my wallet allows, the first ever Britain's figures I've purchased

Happy Hunting!

Sunday 27 July 2014

'New Shop'

Well, in fact not a new shop but a shop that is 'new to me' and may well indeed be new to you, too!

Whilst leafing through the pages of the latest issue of TSC I stumbled across an advert for a shop I hadn't heard of before. The shop is called EC Toys and it is based in Blackpool

About Us

We have been stockists of model soldiers and accessories for over 22 years now, successfully running our brick and mortar shop in South Shore, Blackpool, UK.

Our Range of Products

We have a large collection of toy soldiers available for you on our website from manufacturers such as William Britains and others. Our wide selection of stock will allow you to recreate historical scenes from the American Civil War, the American Revolution, the Napoleonic War, Rourkes Drift (Zulu), both World Wars and lots more.

Simple, Clean, Secure, Easy to use Website

This website is designed to be used and was built with you in mind. We're not in the business of confusing our customers so our website has been laid out for optimal simplicity, making navigation and shopping tasks such as locating an item, adding it to your cart and checking out smooth and easy.

We are also conscious of your security whilst using our website. The registration and checkout areas of the site are secured using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology to ensure that your connection to us cannot be hijacked by anyone else along the way.

We Sell on Ebay

We have been Ebay sellers for around 8 years now and have built up a very good reputation with buyers there, earning us a proud "Power Seller" status.

Click here to go to our Ebay Shop

Who knows, maybe you could make the most of the glorious summer weather we're enjoying just now and combine a family holiday with purchasing the latest 'must have' addition to your collection

Happy Hunting!

Centurion Toy Soldiers: New Venture

Chester based toy soldier retailer Centurion Toy Soldiers has recently commissioned six new figures

Selling under the brand name Cold Steel Miniatures these new figures represent the 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry, a regiment which fought during the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars

43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry

The 43rd Light Infantry Regiment of foot fought right through the Peninsular War starting at Vimiero Ridge, the retreat to Corunna with sir John Moore, Busaco, the storming of Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajoz and countless other battles. Part of the infamous Light Brigade under Robert Crauford. Here we present them in the early battles of the Peninsular War

According to Iwan Williams, owner of CTS, the figures are being produced exclusively for him by a family run factory in Shenzen, a factory with 10 years experience in the toy soldier production business. A further six figures are already planned and in the pipeline and ought to be available later on in the year

Judging by the images on the website these figures have been designed to look strikingly similar to the Russian produced figures already being sold by the company. Like Matt at First Legion, I think Iwan has made a deliberate attempt to produce a group of figures that retain many of the hallmarks of top quality Russian examples but which will sell at a much more wallet-friendly price point

You'll have to take a closer look at them for yourself and see if you agree

Happy Hunting!

Friday 25 July 2014

Beau Geste Digest

The latest releases from Ana and the team over in Argentina, two groups of photographers for their flagship Delhi Durbar range, together with some of the original photographs that inspired their creations

Happy Hunting!