Tuesday, 25 February 2014

History Is Bunk!


It’s been a slow week or so. I have done little in the way of gaming; the solitaire C&C: Ancients battle of Raphia has not moved since last Sunday. Mostly this is down to me being too tired after work to bother much in the evenings. After my sit-ups and cross-trainers sessions, my body is as tired as my mind and I am asleep within minutes of hitting the pit.

And the weekend was spent cleaning and clearing out the rubbish that has accumulated in the flat over the last two years; mostly cardboard boxes for stuff I have bought and might have had to return. They soon mount up. So Saturday was lost to that exercise, and to driving to the rather distant recycle dump in Warrington to drop it all off.

Sunday, however, saw me in the mood to do a little model-making; in this instance a SMER 1/28 Klik-Kit of a Skoda Favorit. I have had two of those wagons over the years, with differing levels of enjoyment. I bought the model years ago, but just found it again in the clear out and decided it was time to make it. It took less than an hour to click the major components together, and the painting and final assembly can wait ‘til later.

The rest of Sunday I sadly wasted catching up on a film I had promised myself to watch, but not got around to for years; Flyboys.  Now I am a keen WW1 aviation historian, and what with the breadth of modern research and the current standard of GCI, I expected great things for this film, which was supposedly based on the exploits of the Lafayette Escadrille in the early years of the First World War.

What I got was a film with a plot and script so dire that a 1930’s audience would have thought it clich├ęd, and dreadfully unhistorical and inaccurate combat scenes. For Odin’s Sake, Hollywood. With GCI it’s just as easy to get it right as to get it wrong, so what the hell was the reason for making all the German aircraft Fokker DRI’s? And red ones at that - except for the sneering baddy of course, who flew a black one. The only reason that springs to mind was that the director thought his audience so stupid that he believed they would only be able to recognise the “bad guys” if their planes had three wings and were painted red. This mismatch grated, and set the tone for the rest of the “history” in the film.

I would hate to have been the historical adviser on that film; they must have had a hell of a time with that director, or perhaps they were just as clueless. Every clash involved massive squadron-sized formations, and the air over the Lines was full of Gothas and Handley Pages and Zeppelins! Okay, so some of the little details were right, such as uniforms, flying gear, etc… But what’s the point of making sure those tiny details are fine, when the major part of the supposedly historical film is banal rubbish?

The guns fired wispy smoking bullets that made a little swishing noise as they passed. Anyone who has been shot at knows that bullets crack when they go past, but obviously the little swishing sounds matched the smoky trails better. And those smoky bullet trails? Tracer existed back then and was widely used. By 1916 all sides had tracers that could be followed out to 500 yards or so. The only rounds that left smoky trails were incendiaries, which were not widely used except against those specific targets that required it, such as balloons and zeppelins.

The rotary engines did not rotate. Ok, some of the footage featured actual modern replicas with radial engines, but the CGI aircraft could have included it. Deflection shooting? Not in this film, baby! The sights were always spot on the target when the triggers were pushed or pulled. And the scene were the hero carefully managed to time his swerve to ensure that a stricken Triplane, falling from above, plunged down to strike the Triplane sitting on his tail, was derisory. Another hoot was generated when the hero deliberately pulled up from a head-on attack and, with incredible skill, ripped off his opponent's top wing with his undercarriage, which remained remarkably intact afterwards!

Next week I intend to catch up on The Red Baron, a German-made film which preceded Flyboys by a couple of years. It can hardly be worse.... can it?


Sunday, 16 February 2014

It's been a while, I know...

Re-building my career has taken most of my time and energy over the last seven or eight months and I've had little time, or indeed interest, in my hobbies for a while. However, now things have settled well and my earning power has been restored (and then some!), I can go back to relaxing and having fun (well, at least the kind of fun where one keeps one's clothes on).

Painting has come to a full stop, and I have yet to find the mood to restart that. Partly this is down to a lack of brushes; the tiny 000 and 0000 ones I have got used to using for straps and tiny details are now dead, and my source for them is down south, and does not do mail order even if I was willing to risk it, which I am not.because I like to have a good look at a brush before I buy it. So I need to find a local replacement source for such brushes. Sadly the nearest model/painting shops nearby do not seem to stock brushes that small.

But my interest in boardgames has been revived, and lately I have been re-purchasing the Commands & Colors: Ancients sets, as and when I can find them. I had a full set a couple of years ago, but sold them in hard times. Sadly a few are now out of print, but I understand GMT is re-releasing them soon.

Not having played the game for a couple of years, I needed a solo run-through to get back into the swing. So yesterday I cleared some table space, and picked a scenario. Zama was deemed straightforward enough and included most of the basic unit types, and although the game dragged out through constant referrals to the rules, it porved as much fun as it always had. I love this system!

So today it is another solo game; Raphia.