About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

V is for Vac-forms, Part 2 - Bellona Battlefields, Powerplay Battleground & Efka Battle-Ho-Rama

Bellona set on the left, this is one of the smaller sets from Micro Mould Plastics (Unifax group), and they have appeared in various header-cards over the years, all white, and green that I know of and were sold as Bellona, Mico Mold, and Almark, they also supplied some to Roco Minitanks. I've recently seen it said Bellona were 'Always in a dark brown colour', as will become apparent further down the post, they actually came in a wide verity of colours, from pure white and grey to dark olive covering most shades of sand and fawn on the way! I'm also pretty sure the upper cottage of the two was copied by Skytrex in 1:300 scale lead!

To the right a Battleground set, these were made in Stockport in the UK, by Power Play/Mainstream Products, but seem to have been mostly sold in the US, probably so's not to get into a major war with Bellona. Some sets are similar to Bellona, others however, are quite unique. There seem to have been at least 18 in the rage of which I now know of 13.

To the left are a couple of Battle-Ho-Rama's from Efka, which I am pretty sure is a Belgian company, Unlike Battleground, these are all straight copies on Bellona ideas, tweaked to be less than identical. On the right we see the Bellona 'Small Bridge' with the Efka copy - Campaign Bridge with 2 machine-gun posts - behind, their walls, tents and gun-positions are all equally similar, and the 'Albert Canal' base in the bigger bag is clearly aping Bellona's 'Canal Wharf' set.

Going back to the bridges, you can see two treatments, either cutting them out with the culvert filled and painting it a dark colour, which leaves a little strength in a flimsy moulding (bough-in in a mixed lot of tat), or as I began to do (20+ years ago!), base it and cut out the culvert arches ready to paint 'water', the base giving it a strength that will help it survive a hundred war-games.

Of the various vac-form companies, Bellona seem to have been the most prolific, both in number of sets (40 or more in the final list) and in production, model shops still had large quantities of these to shift in the late '90's. Top right shows a couple of roofed bunkers, quite a few of both Bellona's and Efka's pieces were of this 'constructional' type, they called for a steady hand with the knife/scissors!

Here we see more examples of mine and another's work's to strengthen/enhance them for war-gaming, A) shows the basing of the set to the left, with two different approaches to cutting it out, the other guy (far left) will get cracks forming inward from the acute angles he's cut at the back of the position, cutting straight, on the flat area of 'waste' sheet prevents that, basing gives stability. B) Filling the gaps in a tightly-trimmed piece and starting to landscape with door-mat beatings.

C) shows a plaster-cast I've taken from the shell-scrape to the right, you can make quite a few castings before the vac-form starts to suffer damage. D) Is two treatments of a shell scrape to show in the upper example; a 'usable' (by troops) 'shell-scrape', in the lower one; a mud-filled 'shell-hole'. Humm...not much difference between shell-hole and hell-hole, huh?

The wall's (top left); Showing the way I created the one in the middle, first I cut the ends off two short sections (I couldn't wait for Tangley or Concord Models to get the long lengths in!) and glued them together before highlighting the 'gaps' in the dry-stone with matt black (1), then painted the stones in one-at-a-time with different shades of grey, keeping the darker 'Atlantic Grey' as the predominant shade (2) and finally dry-brushed in pale gray before flocking the base with saw-dust 'scatter'. Twenty-plus years and I've got one length finished!! Ah...you either collect, or war-game, or model, if you try to do all three you're bound to fail at at-least two of them!

I've also shown made and unmade corner pieces, note there are at least four colours/shades of plastic here, if someone tells you otherwise, send them here!

Again Efka produced a very similar sheet (I recon - if treated the same as mine they'd be hard to tell apart), but with angled sections at about 50% and a strange corner piece that meant you couldn't produce a usable enclosure (or 'run') from even two sheets?

The Bellona tentage, I seem to have lost the pup-tents that came with this set, but they were a bit shite! I added flaps to the bell-tents (a common design dating from before the Crimean War until well after WWII, and taking in most of the main campaigns of the Colonial period and the ACW.

The other tent is a bit of a dead-loss, can't get it to look realistic enough for my taste and if I re-did it now, I'd replace my rather weird attempt at a rolled up door with something bunched in ties, from tissue-paper. Efka went with a slightly more plausible medieval looking thing, but binned the Bell-tents for two horrendous 'coconut-shies' and had a similar number of blobby Pup-tents.


David said...

hi from Austrlia

i grew up playing wargames with Bellona bits in teh late 1970's and i still have the vacu formed stone fence
amazing to see it elsewhere!!

Maverick Collecting said...

There are still a lot around, but don't pay over the odds, I was buying Efka and Bellona at PW for £2 and £1 respectively, so wait until you see them at a reasonable cost.

Thanks for passing!

Anonymous said...

The thing about bellona is that they were cheap and effective - The may not have been realistic (above ground level trenches are never really going to work whether they are vac-formed or modern resin)but they served well as a marker or representation. And we didn't care anyway, my parent's rockery was the most amazing island for my 54mm soldiers and, when Action Man was first released, the booklet showing how to dig foxholes for him caused mayhem in gardens up and down the country - Mine were out there for days in all weathers in the name of realism. Paul Keough

Maverick Collecting said...

My Father had a friend called Fritz, in the German Para's down at Neuhausen Ob Eck, and when he came to stay with us in merry old 'Those Fokkers are Messerschmidts' England, I set my Africa Corps recce group up under the Cherry Tree (I had the Cherilea desert Half-track), ran off to fetch Fritz and drag him over, he looked long and hard at my efforts, frowned a bit and said in the flat tone of a headmaster; "Yes. Very nice" and walked off!

I was gutted, he of course was brought up in the 'War Toys are bad and we've done terrible things recently' atmosphere of post-war Germany!!!