We take a quick detour from our usual fare of ‘Plastic Deth’ to introduce something, we at the S23 HQ have been quietly waiting for a for a while now – the first track from Doomtrodon’s upcoming ’68 Demo’ …
If your not up to date on the current ‘Metal Zeitgeist’ then let’s bring you screaming up to speed …
Doomtrodon is a new band based out of west England and are on guitar ‘Geezer’ drummer ‘Gav’ newly acquired vocalist ‘Matt’ and on bass, the inimitable ‘Biz’ !!!
Sound familiar – well, as I posted elsewhere this evening …
… check out Doomtrodon’s demo track Vampyre Ratt from there ‘68 Demo’ – that driving bass line, alongside those tortured vocals, pummeling drums and gravel rough buzz saw guitars is by none other than artist extraordinaire Simon Bisley …
Simon ‘Biz’ Bisley is famed for his incredible illustrative body of work, including Dredd vs Batman one shot ‘Judgement on Gotham’ – cover art for Doom Patrol, his groundbreaking Slaine, ABC Warriors for 2000ad and much much more …
Whilst not his first foray into music, his art has also graced Danzig’s EP ‘Thrall Demon Sweat Live’ as well as working with the Misfits vocalist extensively on his own comic line.
You Can hear the new track by hitting the link below
Gav’s precision drumming pins it all down, and with extra greasy groove domination from the Biz’s incredible bass line, quite possibly motivated by his underlying skill at the drums, it’s great to see him switch instruments here.
All ably led by the tortured growls and screams of newly added Matt, that’s not to say there’s no lack of melody to what he’s delivered here, but it has its own nightmarishly tortured charm.
Doomtrodon to me personally sound like a really much needed and refreshing take on British Grind and Doomcore with a healthy nod to influences such as Sabbath and Motörhead – without sounding plaid or routine, I’ve quietly observed rumblings and movements over the past few months on their FB page and it’s been impressive to see what has slowly unfurled and evolved, it clearly is genuinely passionate and genuinely professional going concern, more importantly a labor of love which has finally come to fruition.
Whilst no genuine music hack, more over, just a die hard enthusiast- as I’m sure many of you are aware I’ve long been a fan of the many heavy genres of music, including Metal, Hardcore and Punk – of late much has left to be desired of new music in general, and after several plays Doomtrodon’s new track has left me exceptionally excited for what’s to come …
I’ll certainly not dare to pigeon hole them into a genre or cast too many similarities to their own brand of swaggering heavy groove laden doom – but any fans of Crowbar, EyeHateGod, Bolt Thrower or even the Obsessed would happily see this band stand proudly alongside them as contemporaries – high praise, maybe but they’ve surely got the punch and heart to put British Heavy Music back on track …
If your local they are due to take the stage this Saturday, May 12th at Oxfords O2 – someone pick me up a shirt !!!
Again the underground has delivered, and it’s this original and fresh take on the genre that’s certainly reinvigorated my faith in new music – anyhow, enough from me – tune down, turn up and sab out – S23
In NSW ‘Navy Blue’ with the classic ‘Beer Mat’ on the front and custom ‘Plastic Deth’ Skull Art sporting the now infamous ‘Ranger’ diamond on the rear, by S23 himself – you can now sport you OG S23Familia Pride on or off the field – S23
Living Through Me … Spotlight on Pantera’s 20th Anniversary Edtn. The Great Southern Trendkill & Joe Giron’s photography – Vulgar Display of Pantera
Let that name sink in for a while, wether you know them, or not, undoubtedly I’m sure you’ve heard of them if not heard them. But, it’s a name synonymous with heavy music, and more importantly an attitude and know how to deliver the sound of the underground and all it’s brutal sound, hardcore swagger to the masses.
To perhaps get inside my head, possibly understand my own thought process, my very raison d’etre would be to explore the very music that sonically has not only influenced me in my formative years, but guided me through adult life …
Pantera, are not only one, if not the one, of my all time favorite bands. So contextually if you were to interpret their work ethic, outlook and loosely study their message lyrically you’d have a far greater understanding of this, my blogs mission and perspective …
So, it’s that very reason, we ‘jump the shark’ and hijack this platform once again and away from our usual fare to review not one, but two recent offerings from the undisputed Kings of underground Heavy Metal.
First up is Pantera’s 20th Anniversary edition of The Great Southern Trendkill.
Originally pressed and released in the early summer of 1996 saw them follow up their number one charting Far Beyond Driven with this, their most abrasively caustic, and viscerally discordant, thematically, then, to date. Trust me, and that’s a good thing.
I shall avoid here, dissecting track by track as has already been capably done upon its original release and the subsequent two decades we’ve lived with it our music collections worldwide. I will proffer this however, it is my personal favorite, not are only is Pantera at their most vicious and spitefully rebellious. But, for all its heavy attack and bludgeoning brutal, it is sonically their most textured, layered and there is abundance of melody. It is here that they perhaps best illustrated their brand of power groove as initially debuted on Cowboys From Hell …
However, I digress – aside from its plush digi pak format, with additional band photography and liner notes from, presumably a notable journalist, I was intrigued to see many of the original engineers and unofficial ‘fifth’ members of Pantera had been involved in the remastering process and assembly of this edition.
The real treat here, intriguingly this often generates somewhat a love/hate reaction from music fans is the sets second disc, aptly titled ‘The Great Southern Outtakes‘.
This mirrors track for track the original long play set, but is instead comprised from a collection of curios, albeit either in live, demo, instrumental or early mix form.
The live versions are incredible, and I have a bootleg of the entire show these where recorded. One of Pantera’s few forays into Europe on the Trendkill tour, recorded in 1998 at the Dynamo Festival, Eindhoven. These live versions of the studio cuts really show, at this point what a finely tuned monster Pantera had become. Whilst even some of musics greats, and for that matter even Heavy Metal’s longstanding greats saw declining album and ticket sales, Pantera belligerently walked the earth undisputed much like Tyrannosaurus Rex did …
Hyperbole, sure – but to the initiated these tracks are most likely a terrifying introduction to their brand of against the grain American thrash metal.
In between these live cuts, the original album cuts, demo and early mixes bristle with technicality and proficiency that many bands struggle to attain to this day.
Maybe it’s just my love affair with that ‘Hardcore’ sound, but with Rex’s bass ever present in the mix, and the very forward presence of Anselmo’s vocals leaves these versions as an even more contemporary alternative to the original.
Again, such tracks prove to be controversially decisive, as some prefer to remember the originally finished versions, I’ve always enjoyed get to see behinds the scenes stuff, or sketch books – and these tracks are a compelling example of that. In particular, this early mix of Floods, contains a version of Dimebag’s renowned outro solo, that was later replaced at mixing stage in New York.
So, ambiguously perhaps a vague reflection on my part, but those either curious or a die hard fan, I’ll you pick this up and decide for yourselves. It is, however, a proud addition to sit alongside the anniversary editions of the Cowboys From Hell, VulgarDisplay of Power and Far BeyondDriven. I’m awaiting eagerly awaiting to see what they bring out to mark the anniversary of 1997’s live album.
01. The Great Southern Trendkill
02. War Nerve
03. Drag The Waters
04. 10 s
05. 13 Steps To Nowhere
06. Suicide Note Pt. I
07. Suicide Note Pt. II
08. Living Through Me (Hell’s Wrath)
10. The Underground In America
11. (Reprise) Sandblasted Skin
01. The Great Southern Trendkill (2016 Mix)
02. War Nerve (Live 98)
03. Drag The Waters (Early Mix)
04. 10 s (Early Mix)
05. 13 Steps To Nowhere (Instrumental Version)
06. Suicide Note Pt. I (Intro) *
07. Suicide Note Pt. I (Early Mix) *
08. Suicide Note Pt. II (Live 98)
09. Living Through Me (Hell’s Wrath) (Instrumental Version)
10. Floods (Early Mix)
11. The Underground In America (Early Mix)
12. Sandblasted Skin (Live 98)
… Suicide Note Pt. II – Joe Giron’s Photography – A Vulgar Display of Pantera
Whilst eagerly awaiting in anticipation of the anniversary edition of Trendkill, I was thrilled to hear, photographer extraordinaire and long standing chronicler of Pantera’s exploits, on and off stage, Joe Giron was to release an oversized hardback book.
Published by Lesser Gods this sees Pantera’s first fully authorized photographical collection, as gathered from Giron’s extensive catalogue of photography from his vaults documenting Pantera’s entire career.
Joe Giron’s professional career began in 1983 as a staff photographer for the Fort WorthStar-Telegram in Texas. A chance assignment to shoot an up-and-coming local band led to a lasting friendship with one of hard rock’s most revered bands, Pantera. That, in turn, led to shooting many other artists, including AC/DC, David Bowie, Gwen Stefani, VanHalen, and U2, just to name a handful, for many of the world’s leading rock magazines.
Today, his niche is in the gaming industry as the photographer for the WorldPoker Tour and head of the official photography team at the WorldSeries of Poker.
Weighing in at 384 pages and measuring a gargantuan 23.4 x 29.5″ this really sets the standard, naturally deserving for a band such as Pantera, for any such collection.
To set the story right, Joe Giron, was not just any photographer but a friend of the band right from the outset. As he set out to hone his craft, and the band too, started out playing clubs and bars on the Dallas, Texas circuit, where they went he went.
This hefty tome, chronologically follows the band from their early hairspray Van Halen inspired early beginnings, through to their transformation in to their better known incarnation. Subsequent albums and beyond right up until the bands unofficial conclusion with their final album and tour, Reinventing The Steel.
This, along with previously published, never before seen, and behind the scenes photographs truly gives a visual historical account of Heavy Metals most revered and respected accounts.
With a foreword from Pantera Bass Player Rex Brown, and introduction from Joe himself, the book is heavily peppered with both humorous and candid accounts of life on the road, in the studio and personally detailing some of more sublime and lesser known facts and stories behind the band.
This alone, actually makes for a compelling case for this to be a must have amongst any Pantera fan or afficiando’s collection.
I’d further argue, this serves as great companion to previously released Anniversary editions and subsequent futures releases of Pantera’s catalogue and naturally, Rex Browns own biographical turn, which he recounts his time in Pantera.
Essentially broken down across several chapters including their early formative years this makes for an interesting read as it chronologically captures the band visually both in the studio and subsequent tours. It serves as nostalgic time capsule capturing through its several active decades as they ascended to become the kings of modern heavy metal.
The production value on this is superb, and screams a luxurious quality that really is ‘Far Beyond Driven’.
I can only criticize one aspect, is that some of the splash size photos are lost with the natural pages end within the spine. I’d imagine, an oversight with the publishers when designing the layout, these photos surely looked fine in their original proof format. A minor oversight, but I’d of gladly paid a higher mark up on price for some of these larger photos to be of a fold out format. A minor niggle that doesn’t overly detract from the books enjoyment.
I’m overall really astounded at the overwhelming wealth of material here, and will be treasuring and enjoying this whilst playing the bands back catalogue for many, many years to come – S23
I had been aware of G.S.R. MilSim (Group Strategic Response) for some time, in part due to their prolific, and quite rightly, well deserved, strong presence on Social Media, specifically Instagram.
Recent connections made with Kable and his group, RED Team, combined with G.S.R.’s hard drive to promote, support and encourage positive Airsoft, MilSim and community attitudes in general really put them on my radar.
When any individual or group for that matter displays such unbridled altruism, not just in their home state, nationally but internationally I felt it only fair to give them a turn in the spotlight.
This time out we sit down with Kratos, G.S.R.’s G01, to get the inside on this hardworking and passionate unit.
GM75: Welcome aboard Jay, been too long in the making, as you’ve been on the radar for some time. I’ve been a long time admirer of your teams prolific presence online, by virtue of how many games, events and all the training you undertake. I’ll jump straight in, so where’d it all start ?
G01: First and foremost on behalf of the team I’d like to give a huge thanks for selecting us to be a included in your blog. We’re deeply honored to be a part of something so proactive in the international MilSim community. It is extremely humbling for us.
Now on to the nitty gritty, for us it all started about four years ago as an Airsoft team, back then MilSim had not yet evolved to the level its at now, it was sort of like a legendary folk tale to me. It had not caught much traction here in the States, though I kept on hearing about it though I never really had any connection to it.
After months of noticing the same common routine of aggravating and frustrating days of lousy games with zombies (laughs) at our local skirmishing venues, we came to the conclusion that Airsofting locally was something we would no longer miss one bit. We needed something else, something that would fulfill us with a sense of accomplishment. Consequently, we decided to locate and participate in our very first MilSim. After a couple days of research I managed to narrow it down to a couple events.
While at these smaller regional MilSim events, we quickly experienced that feeling of “accomplishment” we longed for. We instantly began to make friends with like minded teams and individuals that were drawn to us and our operating style. Slowly but surely we earned our respect due to the hustle and tenacity we bring to the table every single time we put in work. I can honeslty say, its been eyes foward no looking back ever since.
GM75: So, you’ve got a real drive for more themed events, MilSim if you will. What’s the defining point, that for you separates MilSim from regular field skirmishes. I enjoy both, particular as regular ‘walk on days’ allow to polish muscle memory in lieu of regular training …
G01: I enjoy longer, well structured, very complex games with multiple objectives and FRAGOS (Orders) set by a chain of command. Field skirmishes generally do not offer that. Label me a “tactician” if you like, but effectively moving my shooters around like chess pieces to meet objectives gives me my thrills. (Laughs)
Although I must concur when you stated that field skirmishes are necessary from a training standpoint. We ourselves use it as a training tool. My guys and I skirmish at minimum once a week to stay on point and keep our reflexes and muscle memory as sharp as a katana. Reacting to live fire (Plastic Deth) while a dose of adrenaline is flowing through one’s veins is very difficult to replicate during movement training. Paper targets simply do not shoot back. Everything must be in balance. Skirmishing also provides the remedy for that so called “itch” we MilSim addicts suffer from during those time gaps in between events.
GM75: Your team has a pretty distinctive look and feel, I’d argue you are flying the flag for the ‘iconic’ and much loved M81 camouflage pattern. Was this a conscious decision design, or born out of necessity as it works very well in the ‘swampy’ undergrowth of your native state, Florida …
G01: To answer your question accurately, I must say this was a concious decision on my part. I’ve always had an attraction and a special affinity with M81, it just so happens to be pure coincidence that it blends so effectively with our native vegitation. We ran ATACS FG in the beginning days, but during mid 2014, I made the decision against every member on the team to slowly phase out ATACS and start implementing the classic M81. There’s just something about the combination of M81 with Multicam gear that looks so incredibly sexy !
Just to add, we have tan faction capabilities as well. We can show up at a MilSim in M81, then next go around go dripping down in Multicam. Thats what we refer to as the #MulticamNinja look, it means having every piece of gear and accessories Multicam. Having options is a great benefit that allows us to rejuvenate social media with contrast and a bit of diversity. All of us on G.S.R. share the same mutual infatuation for both our green and tan kits.
GM75: So, with your regular training and prolific presence out ‘in the field’, how has such heavy rotation influenced how and why you’ve developed your load out. I’d imagine, you have it pretty much squared away with regards to what works and what doesn’t ?
G01: Pretty much I have learned through out the years , my gear will never really be fully “squared away”. Its always a work in progress, a constant trial and error battle. With new gear andaccessories persistently hitting the market, just means constant updating and add ons, which in turn leads to field testing during training and skirmishes before actually receiving my final approval. I’m extremely finicky when it comes to my gear and loadout. Many times a plan I thought was great, doesnt quite come together as I hoped. As of late, I have been trimming the fat off my loadouts, been focusing more on streamlined direct action based kits. Keep in mind our upcoming mission dictates whether I’ll be donning the heavier assaulters kit or running a high speed low drag set up. My Ferro Concepts FCPC and my Semapo 6094a are the two favorites basically because of the style of cut, they both allow me to shoulder and manipulate my primary very naturally . The FCPC is my direct action kit while the 6094a is my heavier assualters kit. For outdoor field/jungle ops Id ussually run my LBX 1961a style chest rig in ranger green with an assault pack.
Might I add, currently at the moment I own four fully completely assembled kits in Black, Coyote, Ranger Green, and Multicam. Thats four different plate carriers, battle belts, brain buckets. Each set up and arranged in the same identical fashion. Theres no denying I’m a “gearwhore” and I’m damn proud of it! Like a great friend once told me, its all about options.
GM75: We’ve seen in recent years a huge increase in interest overall in the game, attracting exponentially more players than ever before. However, we’ve also seen an increase in less than gentlemanly behavior, detracting from the positive community ethos which has been built over many, many years – if not decades. What would say represents the very best of attitudes in players and behavior vital to grow the sport and allow it to grow and flourish ?
G01: My take on this is as follows, we as a whole really need to stop drawing negative attention to ourselves, its a game of honor. So lets have some! Anyone deciding to pick up an Airsoft gun must remember that although they are 1:1 replicas of their real steel counterparts they are just high end toy guns. As much as we may try to mimick and play the part of real world operators during our war games, we’re all just grown men playing with BB blasters.
The younger players coming into the game need guidance and the more experienced guys should definitely be that guidance. If you witness someone doing something stupid or incorrectly call them out on it, then show them the correct way. We cant expect the young ones coming into the game to teach themselves.
One more thing I’d like to add, getting into arguments, which in some cases have lead to full blown fist fights, has no justification whatsoever, its Airsoft. Toy guns people ! The quicker we all come to terms and realize this, the better it will be for the Airsoft community. Our hobby relies on an honor system, many times there will be dishonest players, theres nothing anyone can do about it. Thats just the way it is. Being the bigger man and walking away is what I would suggest to anyone ever confronted with some sort of heated argument or disagreement.
Here in the U.S. legislators in certain states are pushing the envelope trying to ban Airsoft/MilSim at an alarming rate. With all these “avoidable” incidents that keep occuring its just a matter of time before they succeed. So with that in mind, its very simple, lets all use common sense to avoid giving anymore ammunition to those who want to view Airsoft/MilSim in a negative manner.
GM75: So, as we already march onwards into the new year, what’s in store for the team. Do you have more training scheduled in preparation for any large events you’ve got pinned on the calendar?
GO1: Glad you asked, our training schedule is very routine. We continue training all year round. I would say at minimum we train maybe 45 weeks a year. We really dont have to “schedule” training anymore per say. We all know what day, time and the rally point to meet up at to go through the motions. I have them very disciplined when it comes to training.
The next MilSim we will be going on is Op IronHorse hosted by American MilSim. This takes place on the last weekend of February. The AMS guys do a great job at putting on a great show. This AO (Area of Operation) is amazing, it’s one of the nations premier government disaster training facility’s.
Shortly after that, on the first weeknd of April we have Op Overwatch , This event is a huge milestone in its own right. It will be Florida’s very first national level/sanctioned event, the venue happens to be a decommissioned maximum security prison deep in the middle of the FloridaEverglades. We participated in the two Beta tests that were conducted to fine tune all the details for this main event and let me tell you, this is one interesting place to sling plastic at.
Finishing off 2016 strong and with momentum going into 2017 , we will be attending OperationsIronclad 3 and Faded Giant 5. Those two will be later on in the year in September and November. As you can see we try to keep real busy.
GM75: Now I’m aware your not only good friends with RED Team, and Kable, but regular train together and deploy to events, recently both teams saw action at American MilSim’s Faded Giant 4, whereupon you both gave good accounts of yourselves. Let’s rewind and get an after action report on what’s globally known as one of the more prestigious events …
G01: Yes that is correct, Kable and I go back quite some time now. He’s an awesome human being. I gained a loyal brother and a great friend through our mutual passion for MilSim, I can honestly say he played a huge part in the developmental stage of G.S.R. He instilled in us the basics and fundamentals of buddy, squad, and team movement in both Field and CQC environments. To this day we use all his teachings as the foundation and basis of our training. No team can operate effectively without somewhat being familar with the basics.
RED Team and G.S.R. make up part of the Bravo Hard Hitters. Bravo Hard Hitters is an alliance comprised of the four top teams in South Florida. High RiskOperators (HRO) and SpecialOperations Group (SOG) make up the other half. We are definitely a “force multiplier” for whatever faction we choose to fight with at any MilSim, not just because of the platoon size element we assemble as, but also for the talent and experience that we possess.
The AAR for Faded Giant 4 is as follows, the weather was at suck level both days. First day was was extremely hot and humid , second day was cold and raining. Luckily for us we train in hard and very extreme conditions on a regular basis, it was pretty much another day at the office for us. At any American MilSim event BHH always rolls with the UFS faction (Tan). Throughout the duration of the MilSim we kept a steady pace meeting objectives and completing FRAGOS. We also captured and controlled critical control points. Overall I can proudly say we did a great job. OPFOR will never have an easy day clashing against a platoon of like minded individuals, who consistently joint train together, Bravo Hard Hitters FTW ! GM75: Last but not least, this is a trademark question, real steel ammo counts – something I’m a fan of but has really struggled to take off due to Airsoft’s limited range and accuracy – is there a place for this or do you think it’s not feasible ?
G01: This is something that Ive actually hoped caught some momentum here but never has. I fancy the idea of real steel ammo counts. Airsofts limited range and accuracy has mainly a lot to do with it not being so popular. We run real ammo counts while we train, it puts us at a huge disadvantage but gets us to reload more often under pressure and teaches us patience by being more concious of each shot taken.
Low cap mags bring a whole different level of “tactical” into games , where as just by laying down some cover fire for a buddy to bound foward , will cost you almost a whole mag with a quick reload after reload. Moving around is much easier as well because the air is not so thick with BB’s with people just spraying and praying. All in all, I really hope real ammo count catches more traction and takes off. It would definitely be only for hardcore MilSimmers.
Huge thanks to Kratos, for taking the time out to talk through with us. Find out more about the team and their exploits here – S23
… in light of the overwhelming demand for patches (which have now gone) what was a limited crew served shirt has been made available online (NOW SOLD OUT!!!) – two new designs printed on heavy weight Gildan shirts in charcoal gray (available S,M,L,XL worldwide here) – S23
**S23 Gun Ho 1st Anniversary Interview Collaboration Shirt **
… in less than a months time, the blog celebrates its first anniversary on the 15th February …
Over the last year we’ve interviewed players, teams, sites and organizers including TF Green, OPFOR, The Cage, Team Diablo, UCAP Airsoft, Combat Airsoft Group, Gray Fox, Dan FooFighter, Airborne-airsoft, Task Force Voodoo, Red Team and many more besides, but to celebrate we go back to the beginning to interview Gun Ho’s GH05 & GH07 …
… see you here on the 15th at s23gearmonkey75 | Airsoft and MilSim reviews and interviews
… in light of the overwhelming demand for patches (which have now gone) what was a limited crew served shirt has been made available online (NOW SOLD OUT!!!) – three new designs printed on heavy weight Gildan shirts in charcoal gray (available S,M,L,XL worldwide here) – S23
Behind These Walls – UCAP ‘The Wing’ Site Report by Tim M
It’s no surprise that like many others, UCAP’s brand of Airsoft, MilSim and even BattleSim, is a personal favorite of mine.
So, like the rest of the UCAP faithful, when a buzz began to grow surrounding plans for yet another site to be added to their already impressive portfolio, I too waited with nail biting anticipation to see what was in store …
So, when The Wing was announced, located at HM Shepton Mallet Prison – we had to get the inside scoop …
However, to perhaps give a more objective based review we sent out one of our plucky readers, Tim M from Unit 13 to investigate and report back, albeit his brief tenure in incarceration, what its all about … S23
Here’s what Tim M had to say …
TM: The opening of the new UCAP’s site “The Wing” has been generating a lot of interest on the various Airsoft forums since proprietor Andy Stevens announced they were opening a new venue a few months back. After the closure of “The Virus” and local opposition to prevent use the former hospital site of HMS Haslar, Stevens and his team struck upon HMP Shepton Mallet as their new site (history – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HM_Prison_Shepton_Mallet). After a frustrating “guess where we will be” campaign online (which included some shocking acting with Andy and Russ from Combat South reproducing a scene from Total Recall), the venue was announced and the buzz intensified.
So it was with excited in-trepidation that I set out towards the wilds of Somerset, effectively trying to get into a prison that once held the Kray Twins. I left the rubber shiv, picture of Raquel Welch and soap on a rope at home, hoping they wouldn’t be needed.
UCAP have secured D Wing. I thought the venue would be a little bit more ‘Hollywood’ vis Alcatraz/Shawshank/The Walking Dead locations (The Rock anyone? s23), but this wasn’t to be. You certainly would know it was a former prison though. 15 metre fences topped with razor wire, thick glass windows and bars on numerous doorways visually remind you of that, but obvious prison cells, there are not. The wing is a four floor block, the bulk of which presumably formed part of the stores, education and rehabilitation section of the prison.
You arrive into a spacious safe zone, complete with the usual amenities, free tea and coffee with ammo and cold drinks for sale. No disposable pyro though – this site doesn’t allow it, due to issues with smoke, however, solid state ‘grenades’ are allowed and UCAP will let you rent an OshiBoom for £10 complete with 20 primers, so at 50p a bang, it’s an absolute bargain. Get in there early as there are only 10 available, and in a place like this pyro is a must.
Safety brief was pretty much spot on 10am and Andy kept it short, concise and humorous before we headed out for the first game. Unlike other UCAP sites, which don’t require booking, Andy has presently capped this at 60 as, with it being the first day, he didn’t want to overload it. What his plans are for the future, I’m not sure. However, I would say that number is about right – a lot of the action took place of narrow stairwells and corridors which quickly get busy.
The building itself is a mix of areas. You can move from large, open plan areas into ablution blocks, offices, workshops, stores, stairwells and corridors. Whilst the majority of the old furniture has been cleared, things like shelving and racking have been left in some to improve game play, and UCAP have added barricades, pillars and other obstacles to aid game play.
All floors are interconnected with 2 stairwells, which were the scenes of some extremely fierce fighting.
The game play was based on the fairly traditional attack/defend, secure targets type scenarios. I was particularly impressed with how reactive the UCAP team were to problems. For example, the pre lunch game developed a frustrating stalemate as neither team could progress. Over lunch the boys went out and made a few changes to improve game play. The game was repeated after lunch, problem solved. The game flowed much better.
It’s always a gamble being on the guinea pig game at the opening of a new site. You have to go with an open mind that it may not work as planned and problems may arise, but, as Andy told us at the brief, they are an established company, they know the game, they have run tests and there shouldn’t be problems that they can’t deal with and I think that was the case.
The day finally drew to a close around 1700 hrs, but if you want to leave early, you can’t, the car park was rammed and the large entrance gate was shut for the duration so just enjoy the day.
UCAP have got themselves a unique and interesting site. Speaking to Andy after, he knows that the site is on the developer’s hit list and that it is only a matter of time before it gets turned into flats. Indeed, he even talked about how they were going to develop it. But I didn’t ask how long they have. I thought it doesn’t matter, we all know it’s a risk with all CQB sites. We need to enjoy it whilst it’s there, and after yesterday, I can see this site is going to be big hit.
So to paraphrase that great prison movie, did the game and the site feel like we were “crawling to freedom through five hundred yards of s**t smelling foulness I can’t even imagine” or we were Ray Winstone coming away from the day feeling like we were the “Daddy round here” or living the like of the Good Fellas in prison? Definitely the latter.
UCAP have got a great site on their hands here. Yes it’s a bit of a trek for some people but if you want a unique venue, owned by an experienced company I can see this place is going to be big hit this year.
… further to this on site field report, local media, The Shepton Mallet Journal, spoke with proprietor Andy UCAP to get an objective insight into what it takes to secure, set up and deliver a standard setting Airsoft Site, read it here …
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE SUPPORT, ENCOURAGEMENT & LIKES
The ambition and objectives of the blog have been a simple one from the start. To showcase via interviews the very best of Airsoft and MilSim. Further to that end, it’s a simple ethos to promote posititivity and grow the community exemplifies my passion for not just what I do but you. It’s often overlooked, but players, companies, sites and their owners and game organizers work tirelessly to bring the very best every year.
I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface, and our publication rate has been intermittent to say the least. But, you have steadfastly supported the blog and I have received no end of messages of enjoyment, praise and enthusiam.
To this end we have a new interview already under way and further two to be released in January.
To the 30k readers – thank you, and special thanks to ToySoldier and the sponsorship of the blog.
Here’s a complete bibliography of everyone we’ve interviewed, and the interviews as well as their respective pages …
So as the year draws to a close we’ve had a fantastic run of interviews from
Built to Last – an interview with Kevin from ToySoldier http://wp.me/p5Hyma-9u via @wordpressdotcom
All of which has been supported and encouraged by my brothers over at Airsoft International, and for providing the opportunity to put pen to paper in the magazine too – https://www.facebook.com/airsoftint/
… in light of the overwhelming demand for patches (which have now gone) what was originally a limited crew served shirt has been made available online – printed on heavy weight Gildan shirts in charcoal gray (available S,M,L,XL worldwide here) – S23
Built to Last – an interview with Kevin from ToySoldier
ToySoldier needs little to no introduction. But for the uninitiated, ToySoldier are a Hong Kong based collective, an art house and design group who, almost single handedly make and design that elusive piece of equipment that is almost unobtainable elsewhere.
This can be exampled by everything from dummy training ballistic plates, to high end custom clothing in a wide variety of patterns and materials to detailed replicas of patches that otherwise do not exist outside of the real world units.
It’s this attention to detail, quality of materials and painstakingly hard craftsmanship put in to their products that’s actually seen their equipment used by real steel operators. From the French Police (Plate Carrier) to MARSOC (CP Style M81 Pants).
I’ve been using ToySoldier for years, ironically when they opened their web store, I was in fact their first online customer purchasing one of the first MBITR ANPCR 148’s – which is still in my ‘locker room’ to this day …
Nearly every week a new and exclusive product is released, and as such to celebrate the release of their full Cordura MBAV we took the time out to speak with Kevin ToySoldier.
GM75: Hey bro, thanks for coming on board to do the interview, I know how busy you guys are. So, let’s get started – when did ToySoldier start, and what was the original idea behind it all, had you had problems getting gear and equipment and decided to make your own ?
KTS: We made 1/6 figures since 1998. And as we were doing very well in the 1/6 market. The original idea was to make some gears for my private use (Airsoft). From the beginning, we setup a brand called “Tactical Workshop” for custom gears and private ordering. And when the demand increased, we started to have our own product for sale. The biggest problem is about materials, we try to use best materials for the products.
GM75: Did you ever dream ToySoldier would become this popular and successful ?
KTS: Never… I just wanted to make some gears for myself when getting start. I don’t say think we are successful.. I am still poor (laughs). But yes.. I am happy to be popular. Business is business. But I am happy to make friends from the worldwide.
GM75: I take it you identified there was a gap in the market for high end replica equipment, although the stuff you make is as good as the real thing, sometimes even better ?
KTS: I appreciate customers giving good positive feedback comments for my vests and combat suits. I don’t dare to say my products is better than “real” things. But we try to make the best quality.
GM75: What can you tell us about the process of designing and producing some of your products, I know you do a lot of research historically and photographically. But can you tell us about the process that leads up to delivering the finished product.
KTS: two ways. The first is to make my own design gears. From the experience in the game, then make what I need. Then drawing some simple graphic and give it to the tailor. Then he will make a first sample and test, then production.
Replica gears is similar. If we have the original then will be more easy. We will find the same/similar materials. Then make sample and start production.
GM75: Now, I’ve seen your gear turn up in some pretty strange places, even used by real world Law Enforcement and Military – that must be pretty cool to see, what can you tell us about that ?
KTS: That is really a surprise to me … you know our brand is called “Toysoldier”. Still some customer think we making 1/6 gears now. Sometime they will ask.. oh it is for toy figure or real man ? (laughs)
I think those Military guys don’t care what is the brand it is. They just want something they need for work … so they search the internet and found us. Or sometimes they play Airsoft too! so they know ToySoldier and want to try ToySoldier in the real situation.
GM75: So, you’ve made hundreds if not thousands of different products, clothing, armor, patches – is there one your particularly proud of ?
KTS: The newest items I’m proud of is the MBAV. I think it is a good replica. And also my combat suit, they have tested by some operators in real situation. And they are happy with it.
GM75: What sort of things make ToySoldier product that extra special, what are you looking to achieve when producing a product that meets ToySoldiers high standard.
KTS: I think we go faster than the others. And we welcome from customers ideas too. We still make custom gears for customers.
GM75: Now, I know how busy you are – but do you still get a chance to get out and play Airsoft, do you prefer CQB or Woodland, MilSim or regular Skirmishes …
KTS: I don’t play Milsim now…only when taking pics. I will wear what I love to. I think a good teammate is more important. If you have a good teammate different terrains is not a problem …
GM75: What is the one piece of kit you can’t do without when out on the field ?
KTS: dump pouch. GBB mags is expensive (laughs)
GM75: Now, I know your a big fan of real world gear and collect all sorts of cool and rare gear, any favorites or particularly special pieces you’ve collected or you really like ?
KTS: 90’s gears! ABA (American Body Armor), LBT (old gen), Vietnam war. I really love LBT 1195 style harness . Especially 1195K for gunners …
GM75: Last but not least, this is a trademark question, real steel ammo counts – something I’m a fan of but has really struggled to take off due to Airsoft’s limited range and accuracy – is there a place for this or do you think it’s not feasible ?
KTS: In Hong Kong, we don’t have chance to be an army. So … Airsoft is a good