Happy Halloween !

Happy Halloween from The Brigadier !

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To get in the mood, Phil and I have done a suitably spooky Cake Review, our first for a while – Mr Kipling’s Witches Hat Fancies – click here to see what we made of them.

WitchesFancies

Tomorrow I’ll be at the new Hereward Wargames Show in Peterborough, which will also be the Brigadieress’ show debut – she’s giving me a hand since Phil is unable to make it. I’m looking forward to it, should be a good day – come along and say hello if you’re there.

Hey, Gagarin !

The latest addition to our Neo-Soviet spaceship fleet is the Gagarin-class Dreadnought. Named for hero Pilot-Cosmonauts of the Space Race-era, the Gagarins carry almost twice the firepower of the Voroshilov class battleships.

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The Gagarin is a resin-hulled model with metal engines, turrets and other components. We’ll have a few of these (not many) at the new Hereward Wargames Show in Peterborough which we’re attending on Sunday.

SFS-1201 – Gagarin class Dreadnought – £9.00

And here are a couple of Gagarin-themed videos to keep you going … the first one is worth watching for the dancing spacemen !

Jutland Aeronef

My contribution to the recent Jutland Aeronef refight was a division of German battleships – specifically the 5th Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron, consisting of the SMS Koenig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kronprinz and Markgraf. Since we had pretty much free reign over what models we used, as long as they looked the part (there were some heavily modified Russian Borodinos as part of the German fleet !) I chose to use some of our Prussian ships, the Konigsberg and Manteuffel, modifying and painting two of each. I also painted two von Dobschutz cruisers and four Wavre frigates, although in the end they didn’t make the table.

I’ve always been very impressed by the conversion work that Jon Rogers did on his US and Japanese fleets for his Pacific Aeronef game, with additional turrets, funnels, masts and rigging, and wanted to attempt something similar. To this end, I created a bunch of turrets, new funnels, masts, AA guns, searchlights and ventilators and ships boats as 3D models and had them printed by Shapeways. As is always the way, these then sat in a box for months until I finally got round to starting the build !

The first job was a quick cleanup of the casts, removing any flash – the Prussian models are pretty clean casts and this didn’t take long. The next job was to remove all of the funnels on the larger vessels, as these were to be replaced by new plastic ones. I then turned the models over and superglued a washer underneath – the models were to be ‘flown’ on magnetic flight stands so they needed the steel washer as an attachment.

Now it was time to start adding the detail parts. All of the main and secondary turrets were replaced by new plastic models of a different design to the metal ones usually supplied with the models. They are based on the design of the German Brandenburg class pre-dreadnoughts, essentially a hemisphere with a large bustle. I mixed single and twin turrets on the ships, and added some extras on empty areas of deck – the Manteuffels in particular got a third main turret instead of the normal two.

Funnels were also replaced – the new plastic ones were slightly larger, so the Konigsbergs received one while the Manteuffels got two. New pole masts with a fighting top were added, with thinner topmasts and crossbeams made from cut up paperclips (which I figured would be a lot more robust than having such thin pieces 3D printed). I added some ship’s boats to the Manteuffels – unfortunately there wasn’t room for any on the Konisbergs. I also liberally dotted searchlights and small AA guns around the superstructures, but in the end I didn’t use the ventilators. The last addition was some large vertical tail fins from plasticard, glued under the existing tails (there are some handy beams to attach these to).

Once built, all of the models were undercoated with white Halfords automotive primer. The hulls were painted with a Tamiya dark grey and the superstructure mid sea grey. The grey areas were drybrushed with Games Workshop Longbeard Grey, then the whole lot was washed in GW Nuln Oil, which looked good but unfortunately dulled the difference between the two greys – so next time I’d use a lighter grey for the superstructure. The decks were painted Tamiya Buff and washed in Gryphonne Sepia – the wash does a great job of picking out the deck planking and also hides a multitude of sins in terms of less-than-straight edges. A quick drybrush of GW Terminatus Stone accentuated the deck detail. After that I went round and did a bit of tidying up where deck paint had got onto the hull sides and superstructure.

The last bits of the paint were pretty straightforward – funnels were painted dark red and highlighted, with black tops (German battleships had their aft funnels painted red at Jutland), searchlights picked out with yellow faces, masts and boats painted in shades of brown and windows/portholes blue, with GW washes where appropriate. The tail fins of the battleships got a red stripe and Dom’s Decals used for the crosses.

At this point the models were painted and I was able to varnish them using Army Painter matt anti-shine varnish from a spray can. They were ready for the last stages of flags and rigging – but I decided to add some more detail. Jon had added rigged torpedo net-style spars to his ships and I decided I liked the look of that. I’d finished the build earlier than expected (I was surprised how quickly it went) so still had time to go back and add extra details. I drilled out equally spaced holes in the hull sides using a dremel and inserted lengths of paperclip wire. The ends of the were were filed flat to remove any sharp points – as you can see from the rather gruesome photo below, paperclip wire can be sharp when cut… The beams were then quickly painted and washed – I didn’t bother with undercoat or varnish but it all looks OK.

Rigging was done with cotton thread. I found the trick with this was to cut an overlong piece and attach it securely with superglue, and only then start wrapping it round the other beams and spars. The thread was wrapped round each beam and a tiny dot of superglue used to secure it (I used a very narrow applicator that came with some pound shop bottles). Once the glue had all dried I touched a drop of sepia wash around each knot on the rigging to dull down any shiny or fogged glue.

And that was it – I think they looked the business on table, and in fact three of them were some of the few surviving German ships at the end of the game – they fought well and took down several enemy vessels including HMS Barham, one of the largest British ships of the time.

The detailing kit I used is now available on Shapeways – it’s not too expensive (£30 or so) and there are enough parts for half-a-dozen large ships or more smaller ones.

Street Convenience

We have two new releases today, one each in our 6mm and 15mm SF ranges.

Dealing with the smaller scale first, we have some new dwellings in our Desert Domes range of 6mm buildings. These are simple structures built as housing for miners and colonists. There are four models that differ slightly in number and placement of doors and windows which will be supplied randomly when you order.

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We’ve also added two Desert Dome building packs, with a mix of buildings in each, discounted against buying the same models individually.

Our larger scale offering this week is a pack of Street Furniture compatible with our existing Desert Buildings. The pack contains a number of useful bits and pieces to bring life to your Martian village – stone benches, small planters, advertising hoardings, public communications terminals and a pair of useful booths. The latter could be used as public conveniences, videophone kiosks or even suicide booths! The advertising hoardings are designed to hold three standard 1.8m by 1.2m posters, so you can scale down your favourite ads to 1/100th scale (18x12mm), print them out and stick them on. In all the pack contains 15 resin items.

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B15-133 – Desert Street Furniture – £8.00
BP300-401 – Desert Domes pack #1 – £10.50
BP300-402 – Desert Domes pack #2 – £12.00
B300-411 – Small Dome Dwelling – £1.00

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Jutland Refought

Over the weekend, a small but intrepid group of gamers gathered again at Stoke Rochford Hall for our latest Aeronef weekender. Joining the usual crowd all the way from Houston, TX was Andy Bouffard, who had managed to combine a business trip with a weekend’s gaming.

SRH

This time the theme was Jutland – or a refight of it using Aeronef instead of wet navy ships. The order-of-battle for Jutland is immense, with a total of 250 ships, and much e-mail discussion had ensued about how to portray this, how many of the escorting ships to use etc. In the end we decided to only portray the heaviest vessels – the battleships, battlecruisers and the eight British armoured cruisers. It was felt that the many other smaller vessels would simply clog up the table without adding much to the fight.

So the British took to the skies with 28 dreadnought battleships, nine battlecruisers and eight armoured cruisers. The Germans on the other hand had 16 dreadnoughts, six older pre-dreadnoughts and five battlecruisers. The stats for the game were derived from the real ships, by using the figures for displacement, armour, weight of broadside and speed to create Aeronef game stats. We only generated figures for hull points, gun dice, speed and turn rate – we ignored the small number of torpedo tubes carried by the capital ships since they were rarely used in battle, and bomb dice were unnecessary since there were no surface targets. I’ve made PDFs available for the Germans and British stats so you can see what we used. The German dreadnoughts were more powerful than all but the largest British vessels, but they were heavily outnumbered – the British ships totalled over 4100 points, while the Germans came to just 2500.

Things started badly for the Germans as the battlecruiser scout force got too far ahead of the main fleet and, isolated, was quickly torn to pieces. In a mirror of the historical engagement, the battlecruisers Invincible and Indomitable succumbed to magazine explosions in the same turn (we were using the “There Seems To Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships !” special rule). The slugging match between the two main fleets then panned out as expected, with British firepower proving too much for the Germans, although some nifty German manoeuvring initially saw a large part of the British force left too far away to have much influence on the battle until they were able to close the range. We fought almost to the bitter end, and called a halt with just six German battleships still aloft. The Grand Fleet had been hit hard however, losing seven battlecruisers, several armoured cruisers and half-a-dozen dreadnoughts – so they could really only claim a minor victory in tactical terms, although strategically the loss of almost the whole of the Hochluftflotte would have a major bearing on the outcome of the war.

On Sunday morning we tried out Land Ironclads using Silvio la Verde’s excellently painted Italian and Austrian forces – although this was only a brief skirmish, we all saw enough to want to play more, so next year’s SRH weekend may have more of a land combat theme…

New South African Heavies

The South African wheeled vehicles are one of the more popular forces in our 15mm SF range, and today they get further firepower options with a pair of new vehicles.

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The Ratel is a lighter version of the Rhino heavy tank. It’s a fast 4×4, skid-steered vehicle sporting an 8cm railgun and slightly lighter armour than it’s larger cousin.

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The Olifant self-propelled gun is based on the chassis of the Rhino, but with the turret replaced by a fixed superstructure carrying a 17cm long-barrelled gun. It employs a variety of ammunition from conventional HE to bomblets and terminally-guided ‘smart’ warheads for anti-tank work.

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SF15-601 – Ratel Medium Tank – £8.50
SF15-602a – Olifant SP Gun – £9.50

(Almost) Ready for Action

This weekend sees the latest Aeronef weekend at Stoke Rochford Hall in Lincolnshire. The theme this time is a refight of Jutland using Aeronef – we’re hoping to have all of the capital ships that were present at the real action present on the table, although not necessarily all of the cruisers and escorts !

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We two Brigadiers are both contributing to the fleets – Phil is painting up four Victoria-class battleships which will play the part of the four heavy Queen Elizabeth-class vessels of the 5th Battle Squadron. For my part, I’ll be taking on the role of Rear Admiral Behncke, commanding the four Koenig-class battleships of the 5th Division, 3rd Battle Squadron.

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To this end I’ve been super-detailing and painting my four ships plus some escorts. I’m going to write up a full account of the process later, but this week I’m too busy finishing them off ! In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few photos of the almost complete ships. They’re based on our Prussian Koenigsberg and Manteuffel class models, two of each, and the escorts are also Prussian. I’ve replaced all of the turrets and the larger funnels with bespoke 3D-printed pieces, and added fighting masts, searchlights and ship’s boats. There is some tidying-up work to be done with the painting and they still need decals. I’m also hoping to rig them although this depends on how long I have – there is still normal day-to-day Brigade work to be done as well this week.

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Mythical Beast

QilinThe Kirin (or Qilin) is a mythical creature known in Chinese, Japanese and other far-eastern cultures as an omen of prosperity or serenity. It’s also the name given to our latest new 15mm release, the Kirin Combat Walker. Designed by Kirk Alderfer with input from Zac Braham, the same pairing that created our range of Mercenary vehicles, it’s a one-man bipedal walker with a fearsome array of weaponry. The two arm mounts carry either a 25-cm laser, 2-cm Gatling or 15mm twin powergun, the same weapons as fitted to the Sohei heavy tank. A twin heavy support weapon turret is mounted under the chin, while the shoulders both carry 9-round Manta missile pods (one of these can optionally be exchanged for a long-range sensor pod, most often seen in command suits).

KirinRelease

The model consists of 17 parts, one resin and the rest lead-free pewter –

  • Resin body
  • Two legs
  • Two feet
  • Two shoulder mounts
  • Two weapon mounts
  • Two main weapons
  • One chin turret
  • Two shoulder missile pods
  • One sensor pod
  • One shoulder mount blank
  • One hatch cover

There are two variants of each leg with different angles of extension – each model is supplied with a random pair of legs. The main weapons are all interchangeable and you can select which type each model is supplied with. Extra pairs of weapons are available separately. Either of the shoulder missile pods can be swapped for a sensor pod, and there is also a blanking plate for the other missile pod if you wish to remove it. A platoon pack is available with three Kirins – you can choose all of one weapon type, or one of each weapon – which also includes three helmeted crewmen.

SF15-1509a – Kirin with gatlings – £15.00
SF15-1509b – Kirin with heavy lasers – £15.00
SF15-1509c – Kirin with twin powerguns – £15.00

PP15-1509 – Kirin Platoon Pack – £42.50

SF15-1552a – Two gatlings – £1.25
SF15-1552b – Two heavy lasers – £1.25
SF15-1552c – Two twin powerguns – £1.25

Assembly of the models is reasonably straightforward – although I’d recommend patience, putting them together one piece at a time and making sure the glue on each joint has set before moving on to the next piece. Ideally the legs and feet should be pinned together when assembling the model for greater strength, and you may find it a good idea to pin the hips and shoulders to the body as well.

SELWG Last Chance

SELWG is now just four days away, and we’re in the process of topping up our stocks again after Blast-tastic!. This is your absolute last and final chance to get in a pre-order – we need them by the close of business today (Wednesday) if we’re to have a chance to get them packed in time. Either e-mail us or order from the website using the Collect in Person shipping option.

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As mentioned last week (if you read that far down the post, and I don’t think too many people did) we will have our new 15mm Kirin Combat Walker for sale on the day.

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Along with this we should have the full array of our other ranges, both recent releases and older models.

KBB

As mentioned earlier in the week, we have a number of new 15mm SF models that we’ll be taking to Blast-tastic! tomorrow, and some of these are hitting the website today.

BlaireauRelease

The Blaireau (Badger) and Belette (Weasel) are French-made 6×6 utility vehicles that are used for liaison, scout, troop-carrying, casevac, ELINT and any number of other purposes. They are from the same family as our existing Javelot and Lievre vehicles and share a common chassis and drive train.

The main difference is that while the Blaireau is an unarmed utility vehicle, the Belette has a turret ring fitted with a remote mount that can carry either twin MGs, a 5-barrel gatling or a twin Mantra missile pod – or in the case of the Martre (Marten) variant, a radar dish. So now you really can be ‘KBB’ (see below for the KBB reference from ‘Big Bang Theory’).

In addition to these, we also have a version of the Tassigny APC fitted with a radar instead of a turret, and also a radar dish on the Asterie remote base.

SF15-403e – Tassigny APC with Radar – £8.00
SF15-412a – Blaireau 6×6 Utility – £4.50
SF15-412b – Belette 6×6 with MG Turret- £4.50
SF15-412c – Belette 6×6 with Gatling Turret- £4.50
SF15-412d – Belette 6×6 with Missile Turret- £4.50
SF15-412e – Martre 6×6 with Radar – £4.50
SF15-413d – Remote Radar Mount – £1.50

And well done if you got this far down the post – tomorrow at Blast-tastic! we’ll have these for sale … they won’t be on the website for a week or so.

KirinRelease