Wednesday, September 11, 2013

More thoughts on World War the Pacific

I have, on occasion on this blog, pondered about doing some World War 2 gaming.  Now that Bolt Action is out there might even be the chance of a game at Guildford.  Apart from my misgivings about gaming such a recent conflict the question has already been which theatre to do.  Most rules and figure ranges seem to go for France 1944 and this was certainly what we played when I wargamed WW2 at school with 20mm Airfix plastics.  We also did North Africa, which has extra resonance for the Legatus as that was where my father fought.

I have had a go at starting the period a number of times in 28mm.  Six years ago, I bought some Artizan Airborne and Germans for Arnhem, where my Uncle Keith fought (the one who left me his whole cellar of claret in his will).  I painted one Airborne soldier but found the camouflage rather tiring!

My BEF figures

I then bought some nice Mike Owen sculpted British figures from BEF Miniatures and thought about doing Norway, France 1940 and Crete.  I had even started painting them when the figures were bought by Warlord Games who, annoyingly, retired them in favour of some new figures which I didn't like nearly so much.  I'd just about given up on the idea of early war when last week an American firm, Gorgon Studios, announced some Owen sculpted British specifically for Norway (they already have some German Gebirgsjäger and Norwegians). Unfortunately, they don't seem to have a distributor in the UK which means massive postal and probably customs charges as well (plus the Post Office's £6 handling charge) but I may just have to get some.

My Eighth Army Artizans

I also bought some of the Artizan North Africa figures and although these are chunkier than I usually like the two I painted were really nice to work on.  However, when I heard about the new Perry plastics I thought that I would prefer these to the Artizans so I didn't buy any more.  I have now heard that the Perry figures are very small, which given my eyesight is not what I want, so am thinking about painting some more Artizan figures again, especially as I bought a lot of second hand ones on eBay a year or so ago.

Recently, however, I have taken a punt on the theatre I played the most when I was at school:  the Pacific. My interest in this came. largely, from the number of World War 2 films that played in the afternoons at the weekend.  Many of them were set in the Pacific and a number of them starred John Wayne (which is why my mother watched them, I suspect - although he always died in his war films, unlike his westerns) such as The Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and The Fighting SeeBees (1944).  I also watched The Halls of Montezuma (1950) and Guadalcanal Diary (1943) plus many others.  When the TV series The Pacific was first shown on TV here one reviewer said that it was "a neglected theatre for screen adaptions".  Well ,the reviewer must have been about twenty one and obviously never saw all the films I did on Sunday afternoons.

I had hundreds of the Airfix plastics, the cover art of the boxes for which were some of the most evocative that they did. Most of my Pacific games were without formal rules and were conducted outside on our rockery which, conveniently overlooked our pond.  The Marines could come across the pond land on the beach and then would spend days or weeks (over the summer holidays) fighting the Japanese back and forth across the rockery.  Just as in the War itself my mother would unearth lost Airfix Japanese soldiers decades later, as she did the weeding.  About fifteen years ago I painted a lot of these Airfix figures with the idea of doing Guadalcanal in 20mm but shortly afterwards I gave up on plastics and started painting 28m metal Darkest Africa and Vikings.  The plastics were forgotten.

The recent release of the Warlord Games plastic Japanese and the preview of their plastic US Marines has got me all nostalgic again, as they really have a great Airfix vibe about them, so I picked up the Bolt Action Armies of Imperial Japan book and bought a box of the infantry in Orc's Nest today.  I'll review them properly when I have more time but they are very small for 28mm figures. However, the average height of a Japanese infantryman was 5'4" I seem to recall.  I haven't got any other Bolt Action figures so don't know if they are all on the small size.  I am wary of different scales in Warlord ranges as we have seen in their Roman figures. The figures, which will need a lot of assembling (something to do during Strictly Come Dancing!) are a bit cartoony in pose, which is my main criticism of Warlord's WW2 figures, but I think I just want them for Airfix style skirmishes with the marines, when they come out.  Also the rather excessive animation works for the Japanese I think.  The key thing is that I will need no tanks and no buildings (which is the problem for the other theatres) but I will need an awful lot of palm trees! Maybe I can pick up some plastic ones at Colours (unless everyone else has had the same idea!).


  1. Couldn't help but grin at your mother finding soldiers in the garden decades later - certainly brings back fond memories, and my mother doing the same... ;-)

    I have repeatedly pondered starting WWII 28mm skirmish gaming - Bolt & Action and Chain of Command getting good reviews - but what puts me off is getting the figures - many of which seem multi-part plastics - and I really cant be bothered to have to trim all the bits and glue all the heads, arms and weapons on - they always seem to result in unnatural poses as well... definitely sitting on the fence with this one...

  2. I think Bolt Action would be a great way to get your feet wet for the period. Not much figures needed and has a nice fast-play, yet fun flavor. Nice Para BTW. Best, Dean

  3. BTW you can get heaps of cheap plastic palm trees form various chinese based railroad hobby suppliers, just search ebay for palm trees... I think the last one I used was called 'we_honest'...

  4. I don't really have much interest in gaming WW2 - as you say, to me it's all a bit "recent" still. However, if I did look at the period it would be something a bit esoteric like the Pacific, or Greece, or Burma, or Brits v Vichy French in Madagascar/the Middle East. Normandy or Eastern Front don't appeal to me at all.


  5. Sounds like a fun plan to recapture the games of your youth. Good luck on finding all the palm trees you want.