Two fabulous vintage Johillco (1939 era) Running Pilot hollowcast figures, one in Khaki, the other in civilian white pilot or technicians overalls run to “Poppet” their waiting Hybrid Corsair / Hellcat / Buffalo.
I have now tracked down for a fiver a third Moshi Monster aeroplane. This one will be converted in time to a string bag biplane. Up Up and Away!
Thanks to the quickly passed plastic craze of Moshi Monsters, I have now acquired two interesting hybrid fighter bombers. Perfect for any Imagi-Nations Air forces.
They weresourced through my family for free or a few pounds online. They are roughly suitable for 54mm or 1:32 figures, arguably the only true scale for H.G. Wells Big “Little Wars”.
These planes are hybrids, garishly coloured with their pink countershading (female Super Moshi Poppet character) and orange paint scheme (Male cat Super Moshi character Katzuma). I recognise bits of different WW2 aircraft moshed, morphed or mashed together to make this generic hybrid.
I especially like the orange bulbous nosed “Shark Teeth” fighter, originally belonging to SuperMoshi Katsuma.
I looked through a cheap modern reprint of another old childhood branch library Blandford favourite, Fighters 1939-1945 by Kenneth Munson, tosee if I could find the Moshi Monster plane’s forebears.
Grumman Hellcat? Tomahawk with the shark teeth motif? Bulbous Brewster Buffalo, one of my odder childhood aircraft models?
My naval grandfather may have recognised the type. He served on various Royal Navy aircraft carriers during the Pacific / SE Asia naval campaigns including the Kamikaze raids on carriers.
His photo album shows similar carrier based planes but with fold up wings to stow neatly above and below decks.
I would be surprised if you recognised the pilot of the orange aircraft but you might have seen part of him on the blog a few months back amongst the metal detectorist’s toy soldier finds.
Here is how he looks now with a charming Dorset Soldiers recast Pilot head. A hint of Dastardly and Muttly here? Maybe a bullet-holed flying scarf might be required.
Here is how he appeared amongst the toy soldier finds:
The Johillco running pilots in civilian or technician white flying overalls and also khaki flight suits will eventually be joined by some ground crew. Somewhere I have a mould to homecast more RAF Regiment ground crew and also a Britain’s WAAF amongst others to add to the Toy Soldier Air Force at some point.
Army Red and Army Blue will get one plane each, after some removal of some stickers (the shark teeth, eye and katsuma stickers will stay!) There will also be some paint adjustments to their desert orange or desert pink camouflage schemes, such as lighter bellies as part of aircraft countershading.
Interestingly these navy and aircrew figures link into both sides of my family with a Naval grandfather who served on aircraft carriers and an RAF ground crew Grandfather, both of whom had passed away before I was born.
Not quite sure how these aircraft will fit into the 54mm outdoor or indoor games. Defending the airbase will be one scenario. I currently have no rules for aircraft, but I’m sure F.E. Perry’s First and Second Book of Wargaming and Featherstone’s Air Wargames Books may have some clues. Not quite sure what sort of ground spike or stand will be needed yet for a mix of garden and floor / tabletop use.
Little Air Wars?
If I encounter another Moshi aeroplane at good price, the next one gets turned into a “string bag” Biplane, even more suitable for H.G. Wells Edwardian / WW1 era Little Wars. He missed including military biplanes in Little Wars by a few years.
Meanwhile the Aerial Menace of my floor and garden is added to by my favourite (toy) pilot of all time – well worth watching the recent Peanuts movie for the dogfight scenes against the Red Baron.
Some great 1983 packaging too!
Chocks Away! Bandits at 5 o’clock! Tally Ho! Blam blam blam etc.
and finally … here is the original Super Moshi March music video on YouTube.An
“Our mission is to enable access to a Men’s Shed for every man that would benefit from one and we won’t stop until we’ve achieved it.”
“Talking about the social and health benefits of Men’s Sheds in reducing isolation and empowering local communities. We do this through various communication channels, including public events, online and in the media.”
Retail Design Worldwebsite / newsletter is an unusual read for a gamer (it informs part of my day job) but it has pages of VM (Visual Merchandising) inspirations inspired by exhibitions, shop windows and other unusual objects.
In the same way, I’m sure each gamer has their own scrap box, postcard, Pinterest board, DVD and bookshelf inspirations for their current games.
Here are some inspirations and scenarios I’ve come across whilst developing Donald Featherstone’s simplest two page rules Close Wars (Appendix 2) of his 1962 War Games, my favourite gaming book.
A keen Colonial gamer, Featherstone was focussed here on “the type of fighting that happens between small numbers of men in forests, such as in the French and Indian Wars of the late eighteenth century in America” (page 149).
My version has morphed over years into what I call “Close Little Wars“, “Bish Bash Bush” or “Bish Bash Am-Bush“, mash-up simple rules inspired by hex games, H.G. Wells, garden wargames, skirmish games and a passion for cheap plastic or glossy toy soldiers.
Scenarios of natives versus troops:
A recent Christmas book token was swiftly transformed into five Osprey books, all with Close Little Wars applications. In no particular order:
Teutoberg Forest AD 9: The Destruction of Varus and His Legions by Michael McNally Osprey Camapign 228
Close Little Wars scenarios for Airfix Romans meeting Airfix Ancient Britons. Or maybe my Cakes of Death inspired ‘Ancient Warrior’ figure?
2. Fort William Henry 1755-57: A Battle, Two Sieges and Bloody Massacre by Ian Castle, Osprey Campaign 260
3. Tomahawk and Musket: French and Indian Raids in the Ohio Valley 1758 by Rene Chartrand, Osprey Raid series no. 27
Slightly later in the eighteenth century, the Revolutionary Wars in North America provide another Close Little Wars type scenario:
4. The Swamp Fox: Francis Marion’s Campaign in the Carolinas 1780 by David R. Higgins, Osprey Raid Series no. 42.
On another continent or island, New Zealand:
5. The New Zealand Wars 1820-72 by Ian Knight, Osprey Men at Arms series No. 487
The New Zealand Wars of Pa forts and Pakeha European troops versus successful Maori natives was a period I first read about in a series of articles in Miniature Wargames (issues 27 to 29 August to October 1985) brought home for the history articles by my Dad. Andy Callan also published a short set of Maori Wars rules in Military Modelling in 1983; I never got the hang of them from the tattered magazine I bought from our school library but they had great pictures of Peter Laing figures attacking a twig stockade on shaggy deep pile carpet terrain!
Each of these Osprey books temptingly has a back page full of Related Titles on www.ospreypublishing.com Tempting but expensive. There’s always second hand, EBay or the library ….
Figures for Close Little Wars
1. 40mm HE figures Holgar Eriksonn figures from Prince August sourced home casting moulds – Cowboys and Indians, Seven Years War / 18th Century figures.
2. 30mm Spencer Smith Miniatures of American Civil War / Wild West / Eighteenth Century / American War Of Independence – first bought in plastic, still available in metal and many designed by Holger Eriksonn!
I will post a separate blog post on using these charming simple Spencer Smith 30mm figures for Little Close Wars.
3. Vintage Airfix
Ancient Britons and Romans, Washington’s Army, British Grenadiers, Cowboys, Wagon Train, Indians, Union Infantry, Confederate Infantry, American Civil War Artillery, Napoleonic troops, Airfix Gurkhas or Australian Infantry, Japanese Infantry.
Many other plastic 1:72 figures are now available for almost any period – I still have some Esci Colonial Infantry, Zulus and ‘Muslim Warriors’ from the 1980s and the Atlantic ancient Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and fabulous Wild West series with everything from teepee camps, gold mining camps, Buffaloes. All useful for scenarios of Close Little Wars.
But vintage Airfix, big and little, crumbling as some now vintage ones now, unless if you have the recently reissued Hat or Airfix, remain for me the standard figures for conversion or play.
Pound Store Warrior Knight
Pound Store Warrior Knight
4. Pound Store plastic Cowboys, Indians, civilians, ‘ancient Warriors’ Romans and Knights. Usually in 54 mm scale.
Little Close Wars Terrain – not seeing the Wood for the Trees:
Donald Featherstone raided his Southampton garden for his early gaming materials:
“Trees can be purchased in plastic that look very real and are quite cheap. They can also be made from loofah sponge or from plastic dyed green and stuck onto pieces of twig, or there is style of lichen moss available that makes wonderful trees. When Wargames started in the writer’s house, trees were made plentifully from pine-cones dyed green and fixed to the table with a daub of plasticine. ” Donald Featherstone, War Games, 1962, page 41.
Featherstone’s Close Wars appendix terrain list is pure garden, park and woodland finds, a proper Nature Table.
If not blessed with a suitable garden source, there is an Australian company Bold Frontiers who make a range of trees to complement its Armies in Plastic forest rangers and other figures http://www.boldfrontiers.com.au
We started with books to inspire interesting figure game scenarios, so let’s end this post with another interesting link on the Bold Frontiers website. As scenarios go, they have an interesting reading list for boys (and girls?) of all ages:
I admire their slogans and ethos for a new generation of younger gamers, effectively saying to parents buy these for your kids as “the Great Alternative to Digital Games“. Bold Frontiers claim that “Boys can STRETCH their Imaginations and live the Adventure” (Boys? What about girls, including H.G. Wells’ “more Intelligent sort of Girl who likes Boys’ Games and Books“.
They subtitle their Bold Frontiers site with a slogan close to my garden / gaming heart: “Bring the great outdoors, indoors!”
So get offscreen, grab a bag of poundstore figures, raid the garden and get gaming!