Museum Siam

Opened in 2008, the Museum Siam features state-of-the-art displays primarily aimed at kids (think lots of games, interactive screens, and photo props). While it doesn’t quite achieve its self-professed mission of deconstructing Thai national identity, the museum does offer a number of fantastic dioramas.

Of these, the most impressive are the three that depict the long-destroyed kingdom of Ayutthaya that flourished between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Some of the set-ups wouldn’t look too out of place on a WWII tabletop.

This drum tower probably won’t, however.

Whereas this warehouse is too Thai (and of a style that had probably disappeared by the 1920s).

Piers like this, on the other hand, still exist, and can probably be found elsewhere in the region.

A large samurai contingent existed in 17th century Siam, for the sharp-eyed among you are wondering about the presence of kimono-wearing figures.

There is a massive diorama devoted to early 20th century Bangkok. Sadly it lacks the craftsmanship of the previous diorama.

Funnily enough the semi-fascist period that saw the refinement of modern Thai nationalist thought is only briefly glossed over.

The examples of Thai Second World War propaganda more than make up for it though.

My favourite of the bunch: the June 1941 cover of Modern Thai magazine celebrating the annexation of territories gained at the end of the Franco-Thai War.

Battle of Koh Chang

Thailand’s best-selling daily has put out a short animated video on the Franco-Thai War’s best known battle. It can be viewed here.

WWII Thailand on Youtube

Some idle soul has done the world a favour by amalgamating wartime newsreel clips from the British Pathé and Japanese NHK archives.

As the running time is quite substantial, what follows is a breakdown of the bits of most interest to wargamers (not that the rest isn’t worth watching, particularly for those wishing to see a leafy Bangkok unsullied by today’s congestion):

00:04 Primary school members of the Yuwachon youth movement participating in irredentist marches.

0:54 Arrival of a Laffly S15R bearing Japanese mediators.

00:59 French troops, including one cheeky-looking chap in a non-regulation beret.

01:42 Thai reservists presenting arms to the Franco-Thai-Japanese armistice commission.

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Colonial Architecture in Indochina: Savannakhet

Lying astride the mighty Mekong is Savannakhet, Lao’s second largest city and the birthplace of Kaysone Phomvihane, the bullnecked éminence rouge of the Pathet Lao. A good embodiment of what Martin Windrow calls “the ultimate Buddhist languor of Laos” (a rather orientalist comment I know), Savannakhet has a wonderfully atmospheric old quarter graced with colonial mansions and shophouses. Sadly the chief reason for their existence is poverty and not conservation, and apart from a few beautifully restored ones it’s unlikely they’ll see out the decade.

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French test figure

Apart from the bread bag I’m quite pleased with how he turned out, and shall be doing the rest of the unit this weekend.

In other news I’ve got a few more Thai tanks lined up, as well as a couple of infantry guns. Here’s hoping nothing upsets my weekend plans.

Architecture in Malaya (part II)

Housed in a magnificent printing house built in 1899, the recently-opened Kuala Lumpur City Gallery offers an impressive diorama showing what the city centre would have looked like back in the day.

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Thai Machine Guns

Two “Type 66″ (Browning M1917) teams from the wargaming world’s first ever range of WWII Thais. It was my intention to do up the battalion heavy weapons company in one go, but the late arrival of SHQ’s 37mm Bofors meant that these were done first.*

These were originally slated for completion on the heels of the staff officers, but an avalanche of work resulted in their being left to languish in a semi-finished state on the workbench for ages.

Don’t like the basing? Well neither do I! Not only was adding the tufts and clump foliage a right utter pain in the backside, but they ended up ruining the overall look. Basing is definitely a talent all on its own, and I shall henceforth stick to my static grass (I should also point out that some of the greats – Steve Dean, Andrew Taylor, and Kevin Dallimore – similarly eschew such extravagance).

One more reason I’m not too particularly chuffed with these is the fact that whilst Matt is a highly talented sculptor, the machine gunner is light years away from his usual (i.e. high) standards.

Note the unseemly short legs (the deformed shoes on the right figure is a miscast I noticed too late) . But as is the case with the Adrian helmet, when viewed from the side the defect is less glaring.

Well there you have it. Next up are a pair of battalion guns, to be followed by a bunch of tanks and the rest of the infantry. I’m saving the heavy artillery and trucks for last.

*While the Shell Hole Scenics version I first received is a beautiful little kit, I wanted a more curved gun shield and so ended up ordering another from SHQ.