Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Will He Ever Stop?

Oh, that Irishserb guy, he tasks me so!  Brian (Irishserb) has posted a couple of entries on his blog on new 15mm modern masters he has been working on.  Wait for it...an M2A2 Bradley and an AAV7A1!!!  While these two vehicles are not yet in production, the temptation to order a few is going to be tough to ignore, and I don't even need them for my AA Gen Kill project!  Brian does such nice work it is difficult not to expand the AA project even more, but I must resist as I want to head into Lebanon next.  U.S. Marines (80s style), various Lebanese factions, perhaps French and Italian forces, along with Israelis give me plenty to work on.  Now I would be sincerely doomed if Brian starts working on Arab-Israeli vehicles I can use in Lebanon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Irishserb's New Website/Gamecraft Order

Irishserb Update

I received an email from the Irishserb last night, he has a new website set up for his 15mm vehicles.  If you need 15mm Humvees or VABs, his work is top notch.

Check it out:



GameCraft Miniatures

I recently placed a small order with GameCraft Miniatures for some K-Rails (Jersey barriers) and walls.  No pics yet (but you can see pics on their website), but I did want to say that these items are cleanly cast in resin, and the barriers are scaled nicely and go very well with my terrain.  GameCraft was suffering from a bit of a backlog or orders, so it took about a month to receive my items, but Allen at GameCraft threw in some extra barriers for the delay.  Good customer service and nice resin products.

Always good to support the "small guys" and I hope you will as well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Terrain - Thus Far

I decided to set up my Ambush Alley terrain for a few quick pictures, and to display the latest additions, two additional Deimos Design Studio North Africa buildings.  I am hoping to have DDS custom create a row of shops to give this village a small town feel (more options are always a good thing).



Deimos Design Studio (buildings), The Terrain Guy (trees and terrain tiles), Battlefield Architect (desert pieces), Peter Pig (Arabs, special forces, and civilians), QRF (LAV)

I am adding two more terrain tiles to take the playing area from two feet by two feet to three feet by two feet.  With the custom made DDS building and a few more palm trees, my terrain is fairly set.  Now I just have to get all my figures painted!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Good News About GameCraft Miniatures

From the GameCraft Miniatures newsletter:

I've been trying to keep all of my valued customers updated as to what's going on at GameCraft. This newsletter is a continuation of that effort.

As I announced a few newsletters ago I was considering selling GameCraft ... since then I have had MANY inquiries from potential buyers, as it has turned out I think most of them were expecting to pick up the company at a fire-sale price and were surprised to find that I know the value of the company and I'm expecting to get somewhere near that price for it. To make a long story short, I do not think I'll be selling the company any time soon and I am rededicating myself to the running and growth of the company.

Step one in that process will be to get caught up with the current orders that I have waiting to be filled and shipped. Those of you that are new to the newsletter may not be aware of some of the things that have been going on in my life that caused me to fall behind in the orders ... but that's all history now and I'm back to work getting caught up and preserving the reputation of GameCraft's amazing customer service. I've already shipped a few orders today and I will get several more shipped this evening and tomorrow. Beyond that I hope to get at least a few orders out every day till I'm caught up.

Those of you that have been waiting for your order to ship, I ask for just a tiny bit more patience as I am processing orders in the order that they were received. That being said, if you feel that you have waited long enough and do not want to wait any longer please feel free to contact me directly and request a refund on your order ... I will process your refund immediately and cancel your order. I had one customer request a refund this morning on an order that was boxed up and ready to ship but I honored his request and refunded his money within minutes of receiving the request. See, I even try to keep my dissatisfied customer happy :)

So, where do we go from here? I am re-energized and ready to devote myself to GameCraft again. I have lots of ideas for new products and I welcome your suggestions for new products as always. Once I'm caught up on orders I'll start releasing new items again. I have a few new items from the BMC series that are ready to go online right now, I should be able to get them on the site in the next few days.

Thanks again for you past and continued support of GameCraft.



Sincerely
Allen

GameCraft offers some nice middle eastern buildings in 15mm (and other scales as well).  It is very good to hear that Allen will be keeping the company and moving forward.

The Bazaar

I have added a new page to the blog, called The Bazaar.  Here I will be listing items for sale on an occasional basis, as well as items I am looking for.  These items will be miniatures, terrain, buildings, books, etc., basically anything related to miniatures gaming as well as military history.  I used to post on Bartertown (as predhead), but I would rather give my modern gaming brethren first crack at anything they might find useful (one man's trash being another man's treasure and all).

My terms are simple, I prefer PayPal (but will accept money orders) and I sell to folks in the U.S. because I hate filling out international paperwork (call me lazy).

So, check out The Bazaar from time to time to see what wares are available and what my wants are.  Maybe we can make a deal!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Expanding the Ambush Alley Project

Since I have committed myself to gaming the modern period in 15mm and have been collecting the excellent Deimos Design Studio buildings along with other terrain pieces (mostly from The Terrain Guy), I have been thinking of ways to get "double duty" from this project.  Keeping the setting to the Middle East or North Africa, I can use the same terrain and buildings and switch out what forces are being represented on the gaming table.  As I do like the Peter Pig AK-47 Republic range it didn't seem much of a stretch to game "The Lebanon" with some of their Arab/PLO and Israeli figures.  At this time I have not ordered any of these little gems yet as I have posted on Bartertown, The Miniatures Page, and the Ambush Alley forum in hopes I'll find some other gamers extras for a reduced price, but even if that does not happen, I can see my next step will be "The Lebanon".  And in keeping with my "keep it simple" philosophy, I will concentrate mostly on infantry forces and a small amount of vehicles.  And, the Arab/PLO types can be used as Iraqi regulars to face the Marines of First Recon.

Hmmm, using the Peter Pig figures I could also foresee moving some scenarios into the Horn of Africa.  Some hypothetical Marine interventions in Somalia due to that dread pirate Roberts...er, I mean those pesky Somali pirates.

One other aspect I would like to add to the standard U.S. vs. insurgent theme is adding in additional factions, creating more than just "us vs. them" scenarios by three or more sides vying for certain victory conditions.  Therefore I will also expand to add in potential other nationalities as time (and finances) allow.  I can see a game with Marines, insurgents, Iraqi regulars, PMC types, and perhaps even another major nationality.  That could really crowd a two foot by two foot board, but I have an order in with The Terrain Guy for a couple of more of the Easy Terrain tiles to give me a three foot by two foot gaming space.

So, there it is, I am not complete with my initial Ambush Alley project, and here I am thinking about adding on already.  Does that sound familiar? 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Just a small update today...

First, I have decided to sell my Miniature Building Authority 15mm Middle Eastern buildings.  If you are interested HERE are the details.  The Deimos Design Studio buildings are perfect for my needs, and therefore I placed an order for the open air market and the market building today.  That just leaves the mosque and the sheep farm left to purchase in the near future (maybe even sooner if I can sell the MBA buildings).  Update - these buildings have already been spoken for...wow, that was fast!

I am also selling three QRF Strykers that I picked up, two painted and one still in the package.  Since I have settled on a Generation Kill theme I do not need the Strykers as the recon Marines certainly did not have them.

Recently I was able to buy some painted Rebel Minis insurgents from Fantasy Fixtures (Garren) from the Ambush Alley forum.  They are nicely painted and based and they save me some time in getting my project completed, and they blend in rather nicely with my Deimos buildings (see previous post).  I am hoping he will have more available to sell, then I can part ways with my unpainted figures.


I also started putting together my Irishserb Humvees.  Can't wait to get these little gems completed!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Deimos Design Studio - 15mm North Africa Building Review

Recently I had found a mention about a company who makes pre-painted 15mm buildings for World War II on another blog.  I am always on the lookout for buildings suitable for the Middle East, especially those that are pre-painted as I simply do not have the time to paint as I once did in my younger days.  Deimos Design Studio (hereafter DDS) has a small range of North African buildings in their WWII line that I thought would be perfect for a small village setting in present day Iraq.  Having purchased most of the Miniature Building Authority (hereafter MBA) buildings for the Middle East (small range but large price) I was hoping to find additional buildings for my Ambush Alley Generation Kill project.  With the apparent demise of Crescent Root Studios* my options for pre-painted buildings were becoming limited.  Luckily DDS fills a void and meets some requirements for my Ambush Alley gaming, those requirements being a) cheaper than MBA, b) pre-painted, and c) lift-off roofs on all buildings.

I placed my order for four buildings with DDS on July 26th using PayPal to handle the payment portion.  I had my buildings waiting for me after a short trip on July 31st, a very commendable turnaround time.  The four buildings I ordered were ABR103 (2 Arab buildings), ABR102 (Arabic 2-story building), and ABR106 (Arabic 2-story building B).  They all arrived nicely packaged via the U.S. Post Office.  The four buildings totaled $60.00.


The buildings are constructed from plastic (probably sheet styrene) and given a coating to simulate mud/stucco.  All have the required lift-off roof.  ABR102 has a floor piece that comes out allowing access to the ground floor (and a cloth overhang), while ABR106 has two separate stories.  All come finished on a terrained base that has some flocking to add a bit of color.


These buildings will prove to be very functional within my Ambush Alley project.  Floor access via lift-off roofs will allow figures to be placed within, giving the "bad guys" cover and concealment, and will make building clearing a bit more realistic.

Rebel Mini painted by Garren
DDG also produces an open air market, a market building, a mosque, and a sheep farm.  Nine different buildings within this range without having to use any duplicates will be plenty for the time being, and if I want to add more buildings to the project, a few more of the AR103 packs will fill in nicely.  They will also do custom work (perhaps I will have them create a block or two of buildings suitable for small towns).

Overall I am quite pleased with the quality, service, and price of the DDS buildings, so much so that I have sold my MBA ones!

* - Several months ago I had emailed CRS to check the availability of their buildings.  I received a reply that they were on a "hiatus" of sorts and that they would email me once they were taking orders again.  After a few months, they did indeed email me.  I replied within a few hours that I wanted to place an order, to which I received a reply that they had already taken enough orders and would not be taking more for awhile.  I thought that to be a strange practice.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

15mm Master List

I have been trying to compile as much info as I can about those manufacturers who make 15mm figures and buildings.  This list is what I have come up with thus far (if you know of more, please email me).

Figures
  • Blaze Away Miniatures - blazeaway.com.au
  • Flashpoint Miniatures - flashpoint-miniatures.com
  • Irregular Miniatures - irregularminiatures.co.uk
  • Mick Yarrow Miniatures - spanglefish.com/mickyarrowminiatures.com
  • Old Glory Miniatures - oldgloryminiatures.com
  • Peter Pig - peterpig.co.uk
  • QRF Models Limited - quickreactionforce.co.uk
  • Rebel Minis - rebelminis.com
Buildings
  • Chiltern Miniatures - chilternminiatures.co.uk
  • Crescent Root Studio - crescent-root.com
  • Deimos Design Studio - deimosdesign.com
  • GameCraft Miniatures - gamecraftminiatures.com
  • Hovels - hovelsltd.co.uk
  • JR Miniatures - jrminiatures.net
  • Kerr and King - kerrandking.co.uk
  • Mainly Military - mainlymilitary.com
  • Miniature Building Authority - miniaturebuildingauthority.com
  • Miniature World Maker - miniatureworldmaker.com.au
  • Monday Knight Productions - mondayknight.com
  • Monolith Designs - monolithdesigns.co.uk
  • Rif Raf Miniatures - rifrafminiatures.co.uk
  • SandS Models - sandsmodels.com
  • The Scene - thesceneuk.com
  • Total Battle Miniatures - totalbattleminiatures.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wake Up!

Oh, sorry, did you say something?  Was that the alarm going off?  I do believe I've been asleep for far too long on this blog so here is a little "update".  Life has stayed rather busy and I simply have not made enough progress on my Ambush Alley project.  I've recently moved (still within the Cincinnati area), starting jogging a couple of days a week (now that is a sight I am sure) in preparation for my first 5K, I hike a lot (most weekends), and actually have been busy with work although we are in a slow period (busy is good, but it keeps me from cruising the 'net for gaming purposes...don't tell my boss!).

I have done a bit of rearranging on the site, adding pages for Gaming Sources, Sources of Inspiration, and the Force Pool, removing these elements from the main page.  So I have not been completely inactive, just not active on the gaming project (meaning buying, painting, etc.).

I was very happy to recently stumble across Deimos Design Studio, who make some excellent looking prepainted North African/Arab buildings, which in my (feeble) mind are quite suitable for the Middle East.  Their buildings have removable roofs, which for AA is a must for me.  There are many 15mm building manufacturers out there, but not a lot of prepainted ones, and prepainted buildings with removable roofs in 15mm are even more scarce (Crescent Root, where are you?).  The Deimos product line includes seven offerings at the moment (with a couple of markets and a sheep farm in the mix), with prices ranging from $20.00 to $35.00 American, a heck of a lot cheaper than the Miniature Building Authority range.  I plan on ordering a few of the Deimos buildings soon, and if they "work" for me, I'll sell my MBA ones.  Perhaps that will get the rest of my AA project rolling once again.

I was going to have Wilson's Miniatures custom create some buildings, but after one or two email messages back and forth, they have not responded to my last two inquiries.  Their loss (of income at least).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Irishserb Vehicles Website Closed

In speaking recently with Irishserb (the chap who creates the wonderful 15mm Humvees I use) his web provider (AT&T) closed his website a few weeks ago.  Therefore, if you are looking to purchase his vehicles, send him an email (irishserb@yahoo.com) and ask him for details on how to order.  Irishserb works an ungodly amount of hours at his real job, so give him some time to reply.  He also has a blog in which you might try contacting him.  Trust me, the extra effort is worth it as his vehicles are top notch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rethinking the Force Pool

I am rereading Nathaniel Fick's One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer and it has me thinking about what force pool to use for the U.S. Marines.  Fick was the commander of Second Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Battalion and his character was a main if conflicted part of the Generation Kill HBO seriesHis book is a must read (for me at least) as it gives a different perspective than Evan Wright's Generation Kill.  It also provides some excellent details on just how Second Platoon was organized for the invasion of Iraq.  Unlike the basic U.S. Marine platoon order of battle given in Ambush Alley (forty-two men), Fick's "fully staffed" platoon consisted of twenty-three men.  Normally Fick's unit would be organized into three recon teams of six men apiece (each led by a sergeant) and a headquarters section of a platoon commander, platoon sergeant, corpsman, communications specialist, and a special equipment NCO.  However, as the U.S. Marines are a highly flexible force, Fick's platoon was restructured in Kuwait (shortly before the invasion) as follows:
  • Team One Alpha - Sergeant Colbert
    • four Marines in one Humvee
  • Team One Bravo - Sergeant Espera
    • five Marines in one Humvee
  • Team Two - Sergeant Patrick
    • five Marines in one Humvee
  • Team Three - Sergeant Lovell
    • four Marines and one corpsman (Doc Bryan) in one Humvee
  • Platoon Headquarters - Lieutenant Fick/Sergeant Wynn
    • four Marines in one Humvee
Okay, I can handle that, even fewer Peter Pig figures to have to get painted, but now I am short a Humvee.  When I placed my Humvee order with the Irishserb he added in some extra Humvees (four to be exact) that he called "throwaways".  I have looked over the "throwaways" only briefly, but I am thinking I will be able to salvage one to use as Humvee number five.  Humvee issue potentially solved, but the platoon arrangement still has me thinking....

In order to give players enough figures to actually use during the course of a game, as well as to provide some flexibility on how I can use the Marines for different scenarios, I think I will just have a total of thirty figures painted (ten leaders, eight M-16s, six M-249s, and six M-16s w/M-203s).  This gives me two standard squads or Fick's Second Platoon, Bravo Company, using distinctive poses within each fireteam.  This will allow two U.S. players to each command a full strength squad if need be.  Yes, that's it, no more beating around the wadi.

Next time, terrain!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Miniatures

And now a bit about the miniatures....

After much debate and hem-hawing over what scale to use, I decided to go with 15mm for size and cost considerations.  I really like 20mm for skirmish gaming, but having pre-painted buildings was not an option as there are very few companies who make pre-painted 20mm Middle Eastern buildings (I wanted the Crescent Root Studios buildings from their Middle Eastern line to use with Liberation Miniatures 20mm figures; alas, Crescent Root are not currently in production), so I decided to try 15mm to see what figures and buildings were out there.  I looked at a variety of manufacturers, and even bought (and since sold) the Rebel Minis modern Americans (which are nice castings) but something about those Peter Pig Marines from their AK-47 range really caught my eye.  Kinda chunky, animated, good poses, yeah, that's the ticket!  And as Ambush Alley does not call for a lot of troops, the handful of figures I would need for the "good guys" was not cost-prohibitive.  I was able to pick up a few packs very cheaply from fellow forum member RJ and then ordered a few more packs directly from Peter Pig (cheaper than ordering from their U.S. distributor and the turnaround time is still very good).  The figures also have the right mix of gear that I wanted for my Generation Kill type of games.  So, the "good guys" are all set (Peter Pig figures with Irishserb and QRF vehicles).


And now, the "bad guys"....

Now that I had settled on 15mm, the selection of insurgents I could choose from became a bit more limited.  I would have prefered to use Peter Pig figures for both sides, and while they make PLO/Arab types, they definitely look a bit more militarized than what I wanted for my insurgents.  Rebel Minis makes both "insurgents" and "fedayeen" when, mixed together, should give me a good enough figure mix for the insurgents, particularly inconjunction with the reinforcement rolls.  There are figures with AKs, RPGs, and RPKs.  Alas, there are no "leader" types, so I will take some of the figures and mount them on larger bases to signify their leadership status.



Speaking of bases, I will be using the Likto Aero round 15mm ones that are 1.5mm thick.  The leaders will be placed on 20mm round bases that are 3mm in thickness.  This should alleviate any questions about which figures are the leaders because they will be slightly taller with a larger base than the "grunts".  I'll use this method for both the regulars and insurgents.  I will probably add some sort of terrain piece as well to help distinguish the leader stands.

Next time, buildings!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Gaming the Modern Period

I have always been a black powder type of gamer who's interests have stretched at times into World War II and Vietnam.  Some in the gaming community have an issue with table top recreations of modern actions.  Admittedly, it is a bit disconcerting to game a period where we are portraying actions of those who still walk amongst us or who have died serving in the armed forces.  I have not had any concerns with gaming World War II as most veterans of that war have no idea about our little hobby and therefore it would be very rare that I might rub elbows with such a person.  But with Vietnam and more recently the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we certainly have some of those veterans enjoying miniature wargaming, including in some cases the very conflicts they served in.  If they can do it, why can't I?  Or have they earned the right to portray the very combat they were engaged in, and I have not? 

Maybe I need to consider why I game in the first place.  Changing the outcome of a battle, the "what-if" factor is certainly a compelling reason.  Of course getting together with "the guys", sharing a few beers and good natured taunts is also a key ingredient.  And then of course there is the childlike fascination with "toy soldiers".  And there is the research aspect of course, which can make a gamer salivate uncontrollably.  But none of these reasons can be used to justify gaming the modern period over any other, can it?  Modern weaponry and tactics are interesting, the uniforms with their various camo patterns can be colorful and challenging to paint, but so can a Prussian fusilier from the Seven Years War.

Maybe in a small way (15mm to be exact) I am gaming these periods because I live in the here and now, not 200 years ago, and while I rather enjoy the American Revolution and the American Civil War (and my book collection proves that statement), the conflicts of today I am finding more and more compelling. Perhaps I can "blame" this new interest on such productions as Generation Kill, Green Zone, Hurt Locker, and the disturbingly painful Combat Diary (Lima Company - 4th Marines). I am slowly collecting books as well, my faves being Generation Kill, One Bullet Away, and House to House.  I doubt if I will ever get away from my primary interest (the ACW), so this is just a sidebar interest, to a point.  I will keep looking for first person accounts on Iraq (and perhaps to a lesser extent Afghanistan) and watch any movies made on the war, and I am sure I will keep adding to my Ambush Alley project as time goes by.  Maybe because I was too young for Vietnam, and Operations Urgent Fury and Just Cause (along with the First Iraq War) were over and done so quickly that there just isn't that much out there on those conflicts, so in a way, while I am too old to serve, the "War on Terror" is still "my war" and these are my country men going off to serve this nation I call home.  A bit too patriotic perhaps, but also true.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vehicles

As noted in the Force Pool listing found to the left of this page, I will be using vehicles from two sources: Irishserb's 15mm Vehicles and QRF.

My project will be based loosely along Generation Kill lines, meaning U.S. Marines riding around in Humvees with the occasional LAV-25 for support. Therefore I needed to find some Humvees with .50 cal machineguns and Mark 19 grenade launchers to replicate the vehicles used in the Generation Kill series. My gaming friend Brian O'Leary has a history of making true scale 15mm vehicles, and when I found out he had exactly what I was looking for, I immediately placed an order.

Brian's Humvees are extremely well done, cast cleanly in resin, and are very cost effective. Each Humvee retails for $5.00, so I bought four (two with MGs and two with GLs). Brian only charged me $2.00 for shipping (I live about two hours away from him) and mailed the order very promptly. Here is a picture of a GL armed Humvee right out of the pack.


As you can see, the vehicle is well detailed. Brian builds a master and then makes a mould to create the production models from. And he offers his Humvees in a variety of configurations. I highly recommend his service.

From fellow Ambush Alley forum member RJ I was able to pick up a nicely painted QRF LAV-25. Since the Marines in the Recon Battalion came across the LAVs from time to time, I thought having one (or two) around for support might be a good thing. The QRF vehicles are cast in metal and have a heftier price tag than Brian's resin offerings, but since Brian does not (yet) make an LAV, and RJ gave me a sweet deal, I really shouldn't complain. Plus the QRF LAV is nicely done. The LAV retails for around the $7.50 mark.


Next time, pics of the miniatures I will be using.

Purpose Driven Blog

Welcome to Ambushed in the Alley!

This simple blog will serve as my repository for all things related to my 15mm Ambush Alley gaming project. It will be updated from time to time, mostly as I buy or paint figures and vehicles, and then when I actually play some games. My gaming time has been drastically curtailed in the last few years, but I am hoping that having this blog will keep my inspiration level high!

So, what is Ambush Alley? It is a set of modern skirmish rules designed to replicate (mostly) the current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it can also be used for other periods and locales. I like skirmish level for modern gaming, and having played the rules a few times with some of my gaming compadres I became hooked on it's ease of play and "feel". Feel is such a hard term to define, but let's just say I like the way the rules work and how quickly a game can be played. I also like the randomness of the insurgent side, both on where a unit might appear, and what that unit might be comprised of. The rules are not super detailed, an assault rifle fires with one die no matter what they type, but they are more focused on the quality of troops involved as opposed to their specific weaponry. I won't continue to bore you with rules details, instead I highly encourage those interested to peruse the Ambush Alley website.

My goal will be to create actions based in Iraq during the invasion. My 15mm figures will represent U.S. Marines and insurgents, actions will be inspired by Generation Kill. I have on order some Easy Terrain tiles and palm trees from The Terrain Guy, some savannah grass pieces from Battlefield Architect, and am working to place an order with Wilson's Miniatures for some buildings to supplement those I have from Miniature Building Authority. I am starting with the basic two foot by two foot "board" as recommended in the Ambush Alley rules, but the Easy Terrain allows for...wait for it...easy expansion. My Peter Pig Marines and Rebel Minis insurgents will be sent off for painting (lazy sod am I, yes?) as I simply do not have the time to paint as I once did ten to fifteen years ago. Once they have been completed I will mount them on 15mm round bases from Litko Aero. All told I am shooting for 28 Marines (with support) and 60 insurgents. Eventually I will add in civilians and livestock to bring a little more human element to the board.

So, the blog will be a step by step (not a 12 step program though, I like my beer) process of my Ambush Alley happenings.

Check back from time to time and see what alley I am currently ambushing!
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