Friday square up

Hello folks!

This is less of a round up and more of a few greetings. Firstly we hope you had an awesome Christmas/Hannukah/Yule, and got chance to escape the endless Eastenders misery marathon and joyous mince pie marathon, to get gluing and painting.

All the orders that have been placed over the holiday, up to today, have been given to the postman. Hopefully post services are moving towards normal again, so they should be with you soon.

We would also like to wish you a really happy New Year. If you were looking for a resolution or two, that aren’t the standard be less fat/stew liver less/inhale less burning leaves type can we suggest a resolution to build a new army? Or embrace a new time period? Or hello there fantasy folks, how about crossing over to the history side for 2012?

Whatever your resolutions we look forward to seeing you in the new year.


This week long ago: the week a town went down

You could, perfectly reasonably, be a fully grown adult in Britain, America or perhaps maybe Yemen, and believe that the only places involved in WWII were the UK, Germany, the US, Japan, Russia and France. Most war films feature heroic Americans, plucky but polite Brits, demonic but polite Germans and the French running about in berets being alternately terribly brave resistance fighters, or women easily won with German charm. The Russians intermittently appear as grumpy people with tanks and the Japanese as manic pilots. It is almost a miracle if Poland, the starting point, makes an appearance.

It was though, named a World War for a jolly good reason, most of us might only remember the ‘big boys’ of World War II, but many many countries  were involved. The Allies could count Ethiopia, Greece, and the Philippines among their number. Whilst for example Finland and Iraq were part of the Axis-aligned forces, and in Korea and Thailand there were resistance fights building. Some of the most significant forces on the Allies behalf came from countries that were part of the former, or dying embers of the, British Empire. India, New Zealand, Australia,  and South Africa all provided forces to the war effort. As did America’s often overshadowed nearest neighbour; Canada.



December 28 1943 marked the final day in one of the shortest, but most brutal battles of World War II. Ortona is a small Italian coastal town in the Abruzzo region, as it stands today the population is around 23,000 people, before December of 1943 it had a population of 10,000. It sits at the side of a deep-water port, which for the British with their big ships was a very attractive prospect. Unfortunately, Ortona, formed part of the German fortifications of Italy known as the Winter Line. The British 78th Infantry had been fighting for a long time by December and the Canadian 1st Infantry came to relieve them.


Canadian Snipers

The German 1st parachute division were tasked with keeping control of Ortona. They were an elite, talented, and merciless group of soldiers who had been tasked with defending Ortona at any cost. The cost was 1300 Ortonians, 2 Canadian battalions and two German battalions. The close combat battle began on the 20th December, and by the 28th the Canadians had secured a costly victory. The house to house warfare technique, took out much of the town’s buildings, and by the end of the eight days it had earned the battle the nickname of  “Little Stalingrad”.

Richard Heidrich , German Parachute Commander, from the German Federal Archive

Do you like to recreate close quarter combat? Which are your preferred battles?

Notre ami en France

We get very excited when we hear from our customers about what they’ve been up to with their models. The 1/32 and 1/72 variety, not Giselle and Naomi. We don’t want to know about that, thank you very much. But I digress…

One of our customers, Stephane, sent us some pictures of a model he has recently been working on.

Stephane is a very talented man, as evidenced by not only the beautiful painting job, but by the drum which Stephane designed and made from scratch. Stephane has a blog which contains his vast array of work, ranging from older models which he has bought to recreations. It also reveals that very sensibly Stephane dislikes Brussel Sprouts, our kind of chap.

Merci Stephane pour partager vos modèles.

Do visit his blog to look at his great work, and do tell us about what you have been making either in the comments or send an email to


Friday round up

In amongst all the inevitable socks (useful, if dull), pants (ditto), aftershaves (what message is that really sending hmm?) and other items you will have to jumper smile* at you may get some nice shiny monies for Christmas. It’s a struggle trying to think what to spend all those pretty coins on, but lucky for you we have some suggestions…

From Trumpeter we have some more lovely tanks to add to our ever growing range…

We’re also adding more and more to our Tamiya range, so now it includes all kinds of awesome things including 1:35 Livestock (I want! It has chickens. Chickens!)

(and they’ll be on the website before Christmas eve, unless Steve has too many alcoholic mince pies)

One new item this week that we are super excited about is the Pegasus V2, and its little buddy the V1 (am I the only one having a Dr Strangelove moment here?).

From HobbyBoss a  Landing Craft, which some folk around here have suggested they might like to stick a little RC thingummy in (highly technical we are)…but as is, it is fabulous

and also from HobbyBoss we have track kits

Whilst we have also extended our Dalpol range

This week in history: The Dreyfus Affair

All countries have their dark moments in history. Sometimes they are terrifyingly dark pogroms, and other times they are more subtle moments of sad indictment on a society. December 1894 was one of those moments in France. A trial against a young soldier by the French Government inspired Émile Zola to write to a national newspaper, and launched the Zionist movement which was itself so influential in the birth of Israel.

Alfred Dreyfus was born in Alsace in 1859, his father worked in textiles, and the young Jewish family grew up in a Yiddish speaking area of Alsace. When the Germans won control over Alsace after the Franco-Prussian war the population were given the choice of remaining in the place they had always lived and renouncing their French nationality, or keeping their nationality and leaving what was now German territory. The family opted for the latter and upped sticks to Paris…

After a French education Alfred entered the military, after watching his home town be overtaken by the German as a small boy he wanted to contribute to protecting France, and became an officer trainee in 1893.

The French were still, even after the loss of Alsace, embroiled in to-ing and fro-ing with the Germans, and espionage was as common as it is today, albeit a little more que than Q technology wise. In the office of the German ambassador the French placed a cleaning lady who though appeared to her German ’employers’ as a stupid illiterate commoner, was infact a highly literate spy. She served passing a number of secrets on, and in 1894 she passed on the letter that divided France.

The bordereau was apparently found in a waste bin, though its good condition may also suggest that Madame Bastian stole it by some other means, contained a list of secrets that a contact was apparently willing to pass onto the Germans.

After some investigation suspicion fell on the only Jewish officer trainee, Dreyfus. A man who had is roots in what was now Germany, Alsace. Further investigation convinced the intelligence agents  (who frankly weren’t showing an awful lot of intelligence) that the handwriting in the note belonged to Dreyfus.

Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, the anti-Semitism prevalent in the French military persuaded the investigators that despite an almost devoted love of France that Dreyfus was guilty.

The trial divided France. With those persuaded that he must be the criminal, this strange foreign sounding man who had even whilst in training argued with his commanding officers over his treatment, against those who protested his innocence.

Dreyfus was found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment on the charmingly named Devil’s Island, but his sentence did not end the divisions in France. The battle over Dreyfus continued. In 1898 Émile Zola accused the government of anti-Semitism, and the debate raged on…

Despite finally discovering the real spy in that same year, the military were unwilling to admit the snafu and Dreyfus even found himself subject of a further court marshal. Happily though, in December 1900 he was finally pardoned.

Despite the appalling treatment of the government and military Dreyfus returned to his commission, and served as a reserve Major during World War I (his imprisonment causing health problems), even serving on the front line in 1917.




Arcane Interviews a purple monster

We took some time to talk to the editor of Unseen Lerker, Isaac Alexander, better known as Bobo, or Alex, or that manic looking chap down the corridor.

Isaac/Alex/Bobo. Editor of Unseen Lerker

Unseen Lerker is Alex’s baby. Dreamed up on a train journey, when he saw a gap in what he was being offered, he has taken it from glimmer of an idea to successful magazine in a relatively short space of time.

Lergy. The cute part of the team.

As Bobo, he had been writing Warhammer battle reports for a few years, and had made a number of contacts in the industry, which he felt put him in the ideal place to start a magazine. Aimed at people like him. Wargamers who wanted an entertaining read, that wasn’t tied to any one manufacturer.

The first issue was a one man effort, which Bobo admits was “very noticeably self designed” , but it was warmly received in the gaming community and his efforts  were rewarded with offers of help from around the globe. The graphic design component was taken over by Australian graphic designer Heath Moritz, and the web and business area was taken on by Brian Carmichael.

“From the start we’ve been getting bigger and better with every issue, and refining what we bring to the readers”

As Unseen Lerker has grown, including moving into more distribution channels, Alex has aimed to move the magazine forward as well as upward. Having received lots of positive feedback and support Alex has decided that he wants to spread the Unseen Lerker joy just that bit further by increasing the readership by embracing a more diverse selection of articles.

“We want to reinvigorate the magazine with a sackful more awesome”

The cover of issue X

Though many of the regular columns are highly successful and fit his vision for the magazine’s future, there are a couple that he is planning to replace with fresher writing. One of Unseen Lerker’s unique charms is the inclusion of writers from around the world, and Bobo plans to continue this.

“I’ve always tried to present an international feel.”

Alex hopes to attract new readers, and broaden the horizons of Warhammer playing existing readers, by covering a diverse range of other manufacturers. Upcoming articles and reviews will feature the likes of Mantic, Privateer, Soda Pop and Warlord.

“Games Workshop is just the tip of the iceberg”

Unseen Lerker cover art

But if you don’t read Unseen Lerker, why should you?

“I’ve always tried to present entertainment in the magazine, not just education. People want to be entertained…this is not a step by step guide,  and because Unseen Lerker is independent we are not beholden to anyone except the reader. We have fun when we are producing the magazine and that comes through in the feel of it”

One of the most pressing thoughts on the minds of regular readers though is likely to be, what the devil happened to issue ten?

“Basically it is due to some big changes…Our long term graphic designer, who was based in Australia, has moved onto new projects, as has our web designer. So we have a new team, instead of being based all over the world we  are now working really closely together, based out of one office. Issue ten will be out Christmas week, and we think it is our best looking Unseen Lerker yet”

Artwork from Unseen Lerker-by Angelika Rasmus 

The new issue comes out this week and, assuming your post-person isn’t overloaded with all those presents, should be on your mat before the 25th. Not only that but subscribers will be receiving their limited edition 28mm Lergy Lerker figure (though non subscribers can buy a three pack of Lergies) and a Mantic Journal.


We look forward to the magazine going from strength to strength!


Friday Round Up….

Well hello there…do we have some exciting things for you? Yes, yes we do.

First of all some more beautiful wooden buildings. You know how much we love these MDF buildings, but now added to the range are Dutch-Belgian buildings. These gorgeous, shapely roofed pieces will look awesome in WWI, and WWII skirmish scenes. They will also suit any Flemish inspired table, stick a canal in front et voila (or rather “en versluierde”) you have Rotterdam, or Bruges.

We are continually (continually I tell you, dear reader) getting in new Tamiya paints, our range literally increases on a weekly, almost daily, basis. You can find our Tamiya paints here, and if there doesn’t appear to be quite the colour you want today check back tomorrow!

From Trent Miniatures, another of our beloved ranges, we now have more Irish militia. Currently Steve is drowning under a pile of Tamiya paints, so as we speak only the Yeoman are currently up on the eBay store, but soon more will be online.

Forthcoming items (aka “things that Steve hasn’t had chance to list yet”)… Wargames Factory Samurai figures, Italeri Vosper  MTB 77 in 1/35scale (it’s huuuuge) and genius little flat pack wagons…


The week long ago: 4隻の船が航行すしド来 る (4 ships came sailing by…)

On 14 December 1913 the Kongō class battlecruiser, Haruna, of the Imperial Japanese Navy was launched. During the ship’s active service in World War I she patrolled the Chinese coast, as one of the most heavily armed ships in the navy.


The Haruna in the 1930s.


The Kongō class battlecruisers though a fundamental part of the Imperial Japanese Army, were designed in Newcastle (yes that Newcastle) by a man named George.

Sir George Thurston was for many years the chief naval architect for Vickers Ltd (which became then Vickers-Armstrong). The company which over its history is responsible for all manner of items from artillery and submarines, to parts of the metropolitan railway infrastructure (that’s the classy bit of the London underground boys and girls). They had at one point the legendary Barnes Wallis designing airships for them, and were responsible for the design of the Mark III Valentine tank which served for both the British and Red Armies (disappointingly it was not festooned in hearts or Hallmark cards). Vickers and Vickers-Armstrong were also some of the most significant employers in the UK, particularly in the North of England and Southern Scotland with shipbuilding taking place in Newcastle, Clyde and Barrow in Furness.


Valentine tank of desert service.

But back to the ships…The Japanese ordered the battlecruisers in 1910 to be the capital ships (the most important vessels) of the Navy and by 1915 they, including the Haruna, were all in service. At 27.5k tonnes , armed with up-to 40 guns of one type or another, and a quarter of a kilometre long,  they were imposing vessels which could travel at 26 knots through the water to whomever was on the wrong end of their ire.

There were four ships in the group, the first Kongō was built in the UK and then driven (for want of a more appropriate term-help me out here!) to Japan, whilst the remaining three were built wholly in Japan. And though Yokosuka Naval Yard may not be a name familiar to all, Mitsubishi and Kawasaki, who built the Kirishima and Haruna respectively, undoubtedly are.

Corresponding to the British Vickers-Armstrong, which at its height was involved in many different types of British manufacturing, the Japanese heavy weights Kawasaki and Mitsubishi do far far more than motorbikes and  televisions. Much like Vickers, both companies have their roots in shipbuilding, though now Kawasaki (川崎重工業株式会社) are far more famous for their noisy bikes and industrial boring machines (that is machines that make holes, rather than those that make conversations tedious-they’re called Blackberries) and for us train fans they are one of the many Japanese companies that make Shinkansen carriages…Whilst Mitsubishi (三菱グループ) are known more now for their ugly cars and giant turbines, and are also Japan’s largest bank…


Iwasaki, founder of Mitsubishi


In the interwar years the ships were refitted, making them heavier, but also sturdier and more war capable…which came in handy for the upcoming hostilities…

During the war though, despite some notable successes, the ships did not fair too well.

The Kongō was sunk in 1944.


The Hiei had a rudder failure and had to be scuttled.

The Kirishima capsized losing 212 sailors.


The Kirushima

And the Haruna survived the longest, and was looking to make it through the second world war, until she was bombed nine times in July 1945, and somewhat unsurprisingly sank.

And whilst Vickers-Armstrong may not be what they once were (just ask most of Newcastle and Glasgow) they do sort of still exist, albeit now they are now part of  BAE Systems Submarine Solutions (no, we don’t know what would possess anyone to name a weaponry company as mealy mouthed as that either) and are currently building the latest addition to the Royal Navy’s submarine collection in Barrow-in-Furness.

George Thurston died in 1950, after a lengthy career designing bits of almost everyone’s military forces, in Torquay.

Do we have any Japanese battle fans reading? What periods are you interested in? Any shipping fans too?


Richard I

This is a basing project on one the D’Agostini knights that we sell. The knights were originally sold on the front of magazines, as part of a part work collection, we’ve managed to acquire quite a few of these, and they’re really very, very nice figures. I thought that we could make them look even better if they were on their own little base. So this is an opportunity for me to show you how simple it is to base a figure and just a few of the techniques that we use to improve the way the figure looks.

We’re starting off with a prepainted figure, its a model of Richard I looking very resplendent in his armour and red circoat. The first job is to fix him to the base; for which I’m going to use Devcon two part adhesive. Just recently, people have resorted to using superglue for almost every job, but there are other glues and we’ve done a previous article on the blog on this subject. We actually sell devcon, and epoxy adhehesive is a much better glue for this job, the thing about devcon, is that it is a two part adhesive, which will set off hard and gives a really really strong bond.

The difference between epoxy and superglue is that is that superglue is great if you’re trying to pull a joint apart – you will get exceptional strength , but it falls down on its shearing strength, when you tap it really hard. When you use epoxy resin you get an all round strong bond so even if the figure gets dropped the joint should stand, and the figure should stay in one piece.

For the base itself we’re using a wooden mdf base. We stock a vast range of bases but they basically fall into three types:
*We do the Renedra plastic bases, which I favour for my napoleonic army. These are really nice extremely well moulded bases, exactly the dimensions that they say, and are nice and thin, which means that the figures can be put into a movement tray and still look about the right size on the battlefield. These are particularly good for plastic figures.
* The next range are the plinth type plastic bases (similar to a certain large brand) these are also very good for plastic figures too, but the little plinth gives a little extra height, so I quite like these bases for hero figures. If you’ve got an officer, or a hero figure that you want to stand out, giving him a taller base is a great idea. We also have circular bases which have a little lip around them that makes it look like a little diorama and I think these are super for officer and command groups.
*Finally MDF laser cut. Absolutely precision cut bases which will allow you to put all your figures in very neat formations. I particulatly like MDF for metal figures, using expoy resin to glue them in place. For this metal figure I’m using a Sarissa Precision 100mm by 50 mm MDF base.

To use the epoxy, simply squeeze out equal amounts of the resin and hardener onto a piece of paper and mix with a toothpick. Then apply to base. It’s rapid drying, so it will be set in about ten minutes, though it probably needs about 24 hrs to fully cure, but it will be workable in the ten minutes.

Richard I has been drying for about 15 minutes, the epoxy is nice and dry and he is held firm. The next task is to cover the base in sand. You simply use watered down pva glue, a white woodworking glue. Cover the whole base in the glue, being careful not to get on the model, and once the base is covered, plunge the model into a box of sand. We sell basing sand, and I quite like to mix up the diferent types of sand so that you get a mixture of coarse and fine sand on the base.
I’ve also included a a few little pebbles to add a little extra interest. You might need to to give the base a little tap to shake off the  excess sand. We’re going to leave it a good thirty to forty minutes for the glue to dry properly.

I let the sand dry for a bit more than an hour to make sure it really was dry. The next stage is to paint the sand. To do this we use an emulsion paint rather than a modelling paint. The cheapest way of buying paint for scenery and basing is to go to your local DIY store and buy a can of emulsion. A colour that I like using is called Dehli Bazar II, which is a nice browny greeny colour. When painting over sand, use an old brush as this work can be quite hard on the brush. Bear in mind pva is water based, so paint fairly quickly, so that the watered down emulsion doesn’t take the sand off.

This first coat of paint will take some time to dry, because its watered down. So take a break for an hour or so!

Once the base coat is dry, you can dry brush the base. You take a sploge of your original paint and mix it with a lighter colour.  At this stage I am happy to use the vallejo paints and don’t worry about mixing the types of paint. As long as they are water based the paints will usually mix quite happily. I used light Iraqui Sand to lighten up the emulsion but a white or even some spare magnolia emulsion would have been fine!
To dry brush, you first load your brush with paint and then wipe most of the paint off. This means that only the detail or raised areas on the base would be highlighted, and the depths will stay the original colour. So you get a really good textured feel , and you can repeat this with increasingly lighter colours, to build up the effect.
These coats of paint will dry very quickly and you can really finish all of the highlighting in one sitting.

The next part is to add some foliage. I started with Javis coarse scatter which I splodged on using PVA, and then some Highland and Jungle tufts from Army Painter attached with superglue. I also outlined the base in a brown colour to tidy up the edge – there’s a lot of debate in our office as to whether you should edge your bases in brown, green or black. I prefer brown.

So that’s it, a nice simple project but a really efective finish. So how do you like to base your figures?

Sentries have come in from the hills, Mr. Arcane, sir…The sentries report Zulus to the south west. Thousands of them…

It’s true you know…the mighty Zulu warriors have made their home at Arcane…we are very excited to welcome the Warlord Rourke’s Drift Zulus to  the fold, available as both married chaps, and innocent unmarried fellas…but we have many more Zulus…
there are…

Wargames Factory Zulus

HaT Zulus

Call to Arms Zulus




North Star Zulus and even more Zulus

And to go with your Zulus we have a series of Michael Caine wannabes here and here

C’mon you know you want to…



This week in history: Birth of a Nation

Officially the Civil war in Mandatory Palestine (a bit like a Mandatory Question in exams but with more tanks) ran 30 November 1947 to 1 April 1948, but it would be fair to say it hasn’t really ended even now.

The delegates at the 1920 Cairo conference. The men who decided much of Palestine’s future. The rather rakish looking chap on the right hand side, that’s TE Lawrence. Yes that Lawrence. (Picture from the Library of Congress)

From the 1920s Palestine had been under British Mandate. The British Mandate Palestine, which is now Israel, the west Bank and Gaza. The official reasons for the mandate being to help those areas that were formerly part of the Ottoman Empire until they were in a position for self rule. However, for the dying British empire having control of another country, albeit in a ‘charitable’ sense was a bit of a bolster for the old girl. Even in those early days, though, there was tension between the needs of the Arab and Jewish communities. Everyone from the growing Zionist movement, led by the former journalist,lawyer and renouned orator, Ze’ev Jabotinsky to Lebanon, Damascus and Mecca wanted a piece of Palestine. (I’ve never been but I can only assume it is amazing given the bickering)

Ze’ev Jabotinsky

After the second world war ended the results of the Nazi’s infamous Jewish Question led to another Jewish question. Where were thousands of homeless, persecuted, scared and angry people, who (for obvious reasons) weren’t all especially keen on settling back into life in Warsaw or Dresden, going to live?

The Peel recommendations 
In the early agreements the Zionist movement had sought to make for the European Jewish community a permanent home in the Middle East, and the Peel Commission, in the late thirties, recomended the partitioning of Palestine between Arabs and Jews. The Arab community strongly opposed these moves and Britain and other members of the League of Nations indeed placed limits on the numbers of Jewish people able to immigrate from Europe. Though Aliyah Bet (illegal emmigration) supported by the immigration beureau Mossad LeAliyah Bet (yes *that* Mossad).

Lord Balfour, another of the men instrumental in the creation of Palestine.

In 1946 a British and American enquiry recomended that there not be Jewish or Arab states, but that 100,000 of the jewish refugees be admitted. The committee was quite clear in it’s statement that neither party should be dominating in the community, and nor should it be seen as either’s land. However, though the British delegation and government supported this cross-cultural Kibbutz approach Harry S Truman supported only the movement of the refugees. Making the plan almost impossible to implement.
The following year the United Nations met to discuss the Palestine Question, which resulted in the Partition Plan. In Israel 29 November 1947, the date that the partition was voted for, is widely regarded as the beginning of the Israeli state. And so appropriately, the Palestinian civil war began on November 30 1947. What began with protests moved onto Arab protestors shooting bus passengers and Israeli millitants blowing up refinery workers. All in all by the time the market place, bus stop and workplace bombings were done by April 1 1948 the population of 2,000,000 had been dimished by an average of 100 people a week since the previous November.
All Just in time for the next part of the battles which culminated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 14 May 1948…And a whole new set of wars.

Arcane Scenery sells a range of World War Two items and some later (including very modern) Israeli tanks if this period of history interests you. Are you a modern history war gamer? Tell us more about your battles in the comments…

Edam good figures

We wanted to show some newly painted figures from our favourite painter, TheStug …


Painted as a Dutch regiment the figures are a range new to Northstar Figures,  and are sculpted by the very talented Steve Saleh. Steve also sculpted the Northstar Wazungu figures that our Steve loves so much, and  the Persian Satrap limited edition  exclusive figure that came with the most recent Great Escape rules set The Rise and Fall of Persia.

The figures depict Louis XIV’s army and the opposing forces for the period 1665 to 1680, and due to the lack of standard uniforms at that time can be used flexibly as a range of armies.

Though new to Northstar’s ever growing range, the figures are originally from a range formally called Glory of the Sun designed by Mark Copplestone of Copplestone Castings.

Since they are so flexible, we’re interested to know what armies you might use the range for…tell us in the comments!

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