Els Quatre Gats

     There is a cafe in Barcelona, Spain known as “The Four Cats” which has a rich history, excellent food and a very pleasant ambiance – I highly recommend it if you are in the city.  It also has almost nothing to do with wargaming.  Or does it?  Picasso, the artist, was a famous resident of Barcelona and Els Quatre Gats was one of his frequent haunts.  He would often meet other artists, musicians, novelists, or other minor celebrities of the day at the cafe and discuss everything from art to poetry to politics.  If one sits in the cafe one can almost hear the echoes of the laughter or the shouting as they debate their favorite portrait or novel. 

     I got to thinking about these seemingly random connections the other day when I was reading Red Star Over the Pacific, by T. Yoshihara and J. Holmes.  Their research explores the inner workings of modern Chinese naval strategy and theory.  Their central premise seems to be that the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is chiefly influenced as much by Alfred Thayer Mahan as it is by Mao Zedong.  An interesting concept.  What if Mahan and Mao could meet for coffee and discuss naval strategy?  I haven’t finished the book yet but it has made me rethink some of what I thought I knew.  [The link will take you to the condensed version published in an Australian Defence journal.]

     All of this prelude is to get us to the main point of the post, the PLAN navy.  In my last post I discussed my ongoing difficulty with ordering GHQ ships via Grandiosity and unfortunately there is still no resolution there.  I do however have something to share in the form of pictures of the GHQ Jiangwei II I ordered directly from GHQ.


     As with all of GHQ’s models this one is highly detailed and the limited assembly required was very easy to accomplish.  The one small disappointment however was the slight offset in the alignment of the two halves of the mold.  This produced a small but noticeable seam-line on the model, more than just flash.  This misalignment was more than I would have expected in a brand new model.  I should also note that the misalignment was present on both ships that I purchased.  One was affected more on its ports side while the other was more affected on its starboard side.  With some judicious filing however both seams were removed.



     The other good news coming from GHQ is the announcement of their almost complete 2013-2014 product line.  They’re still holding out on a November surprise but the rest of the list looks pretty good.  In addition to the USN LCS I mentioned previously they are going to produce a few more modern naval units all of which will be in the PRC line.  The first up will be the Type 053H1G Jianghu V which seems like a solid choice.  The second unit will be the Project 956EM Sovremenny which saves me a lot of conversion work and makes me very happy.  The last unit will be the Type 051DT Luda IV.  I think all of these are great choices and they don’t overlap the offerings from Viking Forge.  With the previous PLAN ships and Arleigh Burke Flight IIA model released last year there is a growing opportunity to get some ships on the table and play out some Pacific scenarios.  Now if they would just make some new JMSDF and S. Korean vessels as well. 

You can’t always get what you want…

Welcome back!  In fairness I guess I was the one that was away from the blog for a bit.  Well, Organizational Behavior Theory is over and I have a few weeks until the next class so its time to get back to work, or play as the case may be.

As the the title suggests today is about failed expectations and other negative things.  I apologize to those who are getting their auras scrubbed or those who may be re-aligning their chakras – this may not be the best blog to read.  For those that don’t mind a cautionary tale or two read on.

Returning guests they will already know that I am usually a big fan of GHQ miniatures.  They have had their failures and upsets in terms of products but far fewer than other companies.  Today’s story is about some of those failures and upsets.  GHQ is not always the villain in these stories but they are the unifying theme.  Here is one example…

In March, in my Pivot to the Pacific piece I wrote a bit about my PLAN navy and my intentions to order the new GHQ Type 054A (Jiangkai II) FFG, and the Type 053H3 (Jiangwei II) FFG.  Their cash register apparently can’t deal with a transaction split between two gift cards so I had to split the purchase.  The Type 053H3 (Jiangwei II) FFG directly from GHQ and the Type 054A (Jiangkai II) FFG from Grandiosity, one of the online e-tailors of GHQ products.  At the time I was happy with the arrangement because GHQ products are discounted on Grandiosity’s website.  Maybe you can get what you want.

By the end of April my Jiangwei II had arrived from GHQ.  Not so the Jiangkai II from Grandiosity.  When I contacted Grandiosity by email they were apologetic and told me GHQ failed to deliver on their restock request twice!  I suppose that could happen.  If true, why not send a quick email “hey your package is delayed…”  At the time I was told they would send GHQ another restock request that very day.  That was nearly a month ago.  Mail takes longer to reach me here and that’s okay but email?  So today I sent another note to Grandiosity to find out what has happened.  Their reply, which was very prompt, was that they called GHQ and were told “they would be getting them out to us”.   I just want to be done with the he-said-she-said routine.   Hopefully I will be able to post an update in the near future that the package is in the mail.  I wish I could then tell them the check is in the mail but they’ve already charged my card.

Item two.  This is the time of year when GHQ announces their new releases for the following production year.  This year, like last year, they are rolling out a teaser a day.  The teasers tell you what they will release but not when.  Overall it is a cool feature that gets plenty of people frothing.  In the not too distant future they will release the full list of products and the production schedule.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that one of my main interests is modern naval wargaming and until last year GHQ has been very disappointing.  Last year they released a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke and the previously mentioned PLAN carrier and frigates.  Prior to those releases GHQ has had a dry spell of over 20 yrs of not producing a single new modern naval model.  In my mind that seemed a pretty clear signal that they were done with that line.  After all with built in marketing opportunities like the 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries of the Falklands/Malvinas war coming and going and GHQ produced no additional models to complete their RN Falklands line-up, well that was just silly.

But hope springs eternal.  Last year GHQ kick started the line again with some solid choices.  This year?  The full list isn’t out yet but they have announced one modern unit  LCS 2 USS Independence.  The one disturbing thing about it is the way they announced it.  Here’s a quote “This may give us a good read on how many people are excited about Modern naval.”  Okay, its new, its in the news, and its kinda funky looking, all plusses.  But I hope it isn’t really something they intend to judge the strength of the available market by.  Don’t get me wrong I’ll buy one but would the average gamer buy more than one or two of these?  There are soooo many other more probable ships that are likely to get into real life altercations which can be made into plausible scenarios.  Another missed opportunity.  Perhaps that isn’t the only modern being produced this year, at least I hope it isn’t.

I had items three and four but suddenly I’ve decided that that’s enough negativity for one day.  I promise pictures in the next post.