That’s All For Now, Folks!

So the Christmas sale is all over for another year; I pulled the plug at 7am on Monday, allowing a small flurry of last minute orders to sneak under the line earlier that morning.

Assuming all goes to plan, I should just about get all sale orders shipped by the end of this week, although I will be hard pushed to get to any others that arrive between now and Friday. Everything up to December 11th has already gone (apart from one which is waiting on a restock of etched brass parts) and there’s another pile of parcels which I’ll take to the post office later this morning. The one possible fly in the ointment is that I’m obviously burning through metal supplies much faster than usual, and although I ordered more last week, I don’t know when that will arrive – if it doesn’t get here by Thursday then I will run out, and production will simply have to stop until it does turn up.

Thoughts are already turning to the start of next year and the first 2018 releases. Unusually, we’re ahead of the game as far as new models go; we have everything planned from now until March, design work is all finished and we have most of the masters in hand. One of the early releases will be a batch of 15mm Slammers models, filling in a few gaps and increasing the options available to both Hammer’s regiment and other forces. Below you can see a couple of new variants of the standard M9 combat car; on the left is the M9A14 crew car used by the Lightning Division, which is essentially a modified command car with a pair of gatling turrets on the roof.

On the right is the M9A10 cargo car, an open backed flatbed GEV transport. Some units use a variant (the M9A16) fitted with a calliope turret mounting eight 2cm powerguns for air defence – we’ll release this at the same time, I just didn’t have a photo of one assembled. This photo was taken just before the masters went into a mould, so I might be able to sneak out a couple of castings by the end of the week.

Communications Breakdown

As you will have seen from Phil’s post, we had a rather inconvenient internet failure last week. Apparently when our new router was installed earlier in the year, the engineer left the cable to the old one unterminated, which was causing lots of noise on the system and affecting the rest of the street and surrounding area. So last week they fixed the issue by essentially blocking us off, rather than tracing the real source of the problem – and then acting surprised when we complained about losing our service!

However, a new engineer visited yesterday, got straight to the root of the problem and, after a bit of rewiring (accompanied by a modicum of swearing) had us back online within an hour.

I’ve caught up with emails again, placed several urgent orders for packaging and other supplies, paid the bills, processed all the orders that have arrived in the meantime and we’re pretty much back to normal. I’m about 3-4 days behind on sale orders, or, putting a positive spin on things, most (not quite all) orders placed before the 28th have been posted.

I’ve also double checked all orders and issued refunds to three or four people that hadn’t had the sale discount deducted. I’ve also had a couple of orders with the incorrect shipping options selected, so in those cases we will need to issue invoices to cover the extra postage costs.

Onto something a bit more relevant that might actually interest some of you – here’s another of our new models to look forward to next year – or part of it at any rate. This is the hull master of the Neo-Soviet Mammont heavy tank, which is another 6mm model that I’ve scaled up to 15mm. It’s been restyled to match the other recent Neo-Soviet releases, and the hull will be in five parts – the main body of the hull plus four track units. As for the turret, that has already gone for moulding so I’ll show that off once we have castings. Phil delivered a master mould earlier this week, so if I have a bit of time I’ll photograph some of the new bits from that.

Sale Update

The sale has gone off with a bang and a veritable Niagara of orders. I’m trying to keep up as best as I can, but at the moment I’m running a couple of days behind. All orders (with a couple of exceptions) to the end of Monday have been completed and I’m roughly halfway through Tuesday’s ones – although there’s been a slight hiccup with a minor broadband issue that prevented me doing today’s post in time, so they’ll have to go to the post office tomorrow instead. I generally tackle them in strict order of arrival, first-come-first-served, although if I get two orders for similar items then I’ll do those at the same time as it’s generally more efficient to do so.

Since we have no new releases during the sale, we like to post pictures of new items that you can look forward to in the New Year. A box of bits turned up from the printer at the end of last week and one of those was our first brand new item for the 15mm Hammer’s Slammers range. It’s an uparmoured version of the M2A4F command tank (designated the M2A4FUA). I’ve sat it on a standard blower hull for the photo since I didn’t have an uparmoured hull handy. The turret is a brand new 3D designed piece rather than a conversion of the existing command tank turret, and should be available sometime in January.

The Slammers Arrive

It’s taken a week or three, but the first of the 15mm Hammer’s Slammers models have now arrived on the website. To start with we’ve put up the Slammers themselves, including both the original vehicles and the uparmoured Friesland Defence Force models, plus a couple of other blower tank variants from other mercenary units.

All of the resin parts come from fresh moulds – as we posted earlier, we had some issues with the original Ainsty moulds not liking the resin we use, so it seemed simpler to remould pretty much everything (one of two of the newer moulds behaved OK so we can still use those until they expire).

The website has been given a thorough going over too, with all of our Hammer’s Slammers models, both 6mm and 15mm, being pulled out onto their own dedicated section of the website rather than being mixed in with our other 6mm and 15mm ranges (this is purely for convenience so that the Slammers stuff is easy to find). This has meant a bit of upheaval, with some items changing product code and the files moving about on the website – which inevitably means that many of the links from the blog will no longer work, although I will find and fix as many as I can. I’m still tweaking/fixing the website and blog, so links and pages may appear, disappear, break, get fixed and generally be all over the place for a little while…

The other, non-Slammers vehicles – the GD-1000 series GEVs and Dragoon half-tracks – will be on the website as soon as we can manage it. We have brand new moulds for the half-track hulls but we are making fresh moulds for the metal parts of both sets of vehicles which will be a week or two. And we haven’t forgotten the decal sheets, they need sorting through to determine what levels of stock we have.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of what’s immediately available:

HS15-111 – M2A4 Blower Tank – £9.00
HS15-111a – M2A4F Command Tank – £9.00
HS15-111b – M2A4UA Uparmoured Tank – £9.00
HS15-112 – M9A1 Combat Car – £5.00
HS15-112a – M9A4 Command Car – £4.00
HS15-112d – M9A7 Uparmoured Combat Car – £5.00
HS15-113 – A21 Jeep – £2.50
HS15-114 – M53 20cm Artillery Hog – £10.00
HS15-115 – E8 ‘Wrenchmobile’ – £10.00

Lightning Division
HS15-1711 – M2A7 Blower Tank – £9.00

Waldheim Dragoons
HS15-1911 – M2A2 Blower Tank – £9.00

And, just to see who reads all the way to the end … our now-traditional end-of-year sale starts this Friday – so prime those credit cards !

Bolt from the Blue

Today’s new release is a set of 6mm vehicles neatly connected to our recent acquisition of the 15mm Hammer’s Slammers range of models, although it has to be said that these new ones were in place and complete before the 15mm deal was mooted. I created the 3D masters of all of these vehicles from scratch by referencing 15mm castings from Ainsty, but ironically just three days ago we were provided with the original data files for the larger models, which would have saved me an awful lot of work ! C’est la vie …

What we have are large half-tracks for the Thunderbolt Division, a veteran combined arms formation led by Colonel Chiro. There are five variants of the Dragoon series of vehicles, which all use the same chassis with different turrets – these include powergun armed Tank/ICV, tank destroyer, missile-carrying Schlepper, anti-aircraft/anti-missile Calliope and infantry-carrying M/ICV (there is also a command variant in the detachment list, this is externally identical to the M/ICV). The models are available individually, and we’ve also created two packs representing the Panzer Grenadier and Panzer detachments on the Thunderbolt playsheet. The playsheet also lists the smaller Viking recce half-track – this will be available early in the new year, along with the 15mm version – you might be able to spot one or two Vikings in the background of the photos.

We’ve got hold of a few copies of the Crucible rulebook, so these are now listed (under our 15mm range) on the website.

And as a final bonus, here’s a new vehicle for the Slammers themselves – the E8 ‘Wrenchmobile’ recovery vehicle. This is a large flat-bed GEV used for fixing disabled vehicles in the field, and it can also recover combat cars if necessary (blower tanks are too heavy even for the E8). In emergencies they have also been deployed by the Slammers as very large infantry carriers.

HSC-006 – Hammer’s Slammers:Crucible Rulebook – £25.00
HS-1615 – E8 Wrenchmobile – £2.00
HS-1801 – Thunderbolt Panzer Grenadier Detachment – £7.25
HS-1802 – Thunderbolt Panzer Detachment – £8.00
HS-1811 – Br59 Dragoon 2 T/ICV – £1.25
HS-1812 – Br66 Tank Destroyer – £1.25
HS-1813 – Br58SM Schlepper – £1.25
HS-1814 – Br54/56 Dragoon 2 M/ICV – £1.25
HS-1815 – Br57 Calliope – £1.25

And work is progressing nicely on the 15mm Slammers – the first of these will be on the website next week if all goes to plan.

Slammer Update

So amongst other things, over the past couple of weeks since SELWG I’ve been trying out the moulds for the Hammer’s Slammers models we recently acquired.

Some have been fine, while others don’t seem to like our resin too much – it seems to grip the rubber and rip bits off them. This was once a blower tank hull…

The problem has been compounded by a lack of resin – our usual supplier normally manages next-day deliveries, but this latest order has taken almost two weeks, which means I’ve had to conserve my stocks to cover website orders, instead of being able to cast lots of Slammers models (and blower tanks hulls needs lots of resin); yesterday afternoon, when I hoped to be in full production mode, I’d completely run out. However, I have managed to gather a bit of stock for Crisis tomorrow – I have some combat cars, a handful of blower tanks with a selection of turrets, a few artillery Hogs and a few jeeps. Not as much as I’d hoped, but enough to be getting on with.

We’ve started remoulding all of the vehicles in our normal rubber which we know works with our resin, so with a bit of luck we’ll have the first of them on our website in the next week or two.

Right, it’s off to the channel tunnel for me, to catch a train under the sea and then drive up to Antwerp for our last show of the year, Crisis.

Under New Management

We have some very exciting news to announce today. As followers of our Facebook page may already know, we’ve agreed with Ainsty Castings to take over ownership and production of the Hammer’s Slammers range of 15mm vehicles, based on David Drake’s series of SF combat stories. This includes both the Slammers’ own vehicles plus the ones of other forces such as the Thunderbolt half-tracks and Broglie’s Legion blower vehicles, along with decals and other accessories.

This brings both the 6mm and 15mm Hammer’s Slammers ranges under our roof now, and of course many of our existing models already feature in the Slammer’s universe in other mercenary forces.

We’ve already been talking to John Treadaway, one of the authors of The Crucible, the official Hammer’s Slammers ruleset, about further development of the range including additional vehicles for the Slammers themselves and more opposition forces. This will include many of the vehicles that are mentioned in the rulebook but which have never been available in 15mm or 6mm. The first of these should start appearing in the first quarter of 2018.

In the meantime, we’re hoping to start production of at least part of the range within a couple of weeks – our target is to have at least some stock available at Crisis next weekend.

Do You Want Fries with That?

Last weekend I finally managed to try out Rogue Stars, Osprey Publishing’s SF skirmish ruleset (well, they’re a sort of RPG-lite with squads of five characters who can progress between missions). I played a couple of games with fellow members of Maidstone Wargames Society using various 15mm figures (the rules are intended for 28mm but we kept the same distances and ranges but just used smaller figures and scenery).

I managed to find time to make a new piece of scenery for the game – a fast food restaurant built from one of our Advanced Buildings. I used a piece of 3mm acrylic sheet as the base (I have a distrust of plywood, MDF and hardboard as they all seem to warp when painted) – I found a load of largish scrap pieces in a skip near the workshop a while back, offcuts left there by one of the other businesses on the farm where we’re based. This was cut to shape then the surface sanded to provide a key for painting. I had a self-adhesive model railway car park (from a German company called Busch) which I stuck on the acrylic to make a customer parking area, put an offcut of roadway at one end for the entrance and then textured the edges using brown acrylic caulk and sand. The building was painted in the red and white colours of the fast food establishment, and I added an awning over the door made from the splinter screen of a Mantra combat car supported by two of the triangular girder structures from our 2mm Airship Shed. The cunning part was the restaurant’s name and logo, which came from a very old branded plastic coffee stirrer which I’d been hoarding for just such a purpose since the early 1990s! Sadly, although I thought I had several of these I could only find the one.

I used our 15mm Street Furniture set to provide entrance billboards, flower planters around the car park, an automated order point and several sets of seating. The tables were made from scribed plastic card supported by the legs of the aforementioned Mantra’s splinter screen. Two large rubbish bins came from our Skips and Bins set (one blue for normal rubbish, and a green one for recyclables).

The finishing touches were provided by assorted flock and vegetation (Games Workshop and Woodland Scenics) and some signs and posters printed off onto sticky labels.

15mm BMP-BM

I always like to leave something new while I’m on holiday and, as mentioned last week, today we’re releasing the 15mm version of our new Neo-Soviet BMP-BM. This is a large APC based on the Bars tank chassis but with a new superstructure with space for six Guards riflemen.

The model is a 3-piece resin casting (hull and two track units) with seven metal pieces – two-piece front hatch, driver’s hatch, two rear escape hatches, turret base and gun mounting.

SF15-1214 – BMP-BM – £8.50

Soviet Colours

I’ve recently been putting together a small force of our new Neo-Soviet tanks (and some of the older ones as well). Up ’til now I’ve only been able to paint a sample of each model for the website and display stand, so I was looking forward to assembling a larger army and getting them on table.

Altogether I’ve started with a dozen vehicles (you might spot more than that in the photos – I painted two extra assault guns to use on the stand at the same time). My force consists of three Bars tanks, two Vombats, two Terminators, one each of the new assault guns and a recce section of one Rosomakha and two Laska tankettes.

I’ve based the camouflage scheme on the sample models I painted before Salute, using the excellent Anarchy Models airbrush stencils, but with a slight difference. Whereas my first models had a three colour scheme with two layers of stencils, the main force was painted with a two-colour grey-green utilising the Mini Digi Camo sheet (basically lots of tiny squares arranged in random patterns). This was simply to save time, as two layers of stencils on a dozen vehicles would have taken ages.

I won’t go through the full step-by-step process this time – you can read my previous article for that. However, as a quick summary, the process was:

  • Spray with grey automotive primer (Halfords)
  • Drybrush primer light grey
  • Apply stencils
  • Airbrush Vallejo Russian green over entire vehicle
  • Drybrush whole vehicle light green
  • Remove stencils (be thorough here – it’s easy to lose some of the stencils)
  • Touch up any areas where the stencils have pulled up the primer or green has leaked under the stencils with a small brush
  • Brush paint in remaining details – guns, crew, stowage, tracks, lights, sensor lenses
  • Brush coat entire vehicle in Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade
  • Leave 24 hours (minimum) to dry
  • Apply decals – the glossy Quickshade is deal for this
  • Airbrush acrylic matt varnish (Tamiya Flat Clear) – DO NOT use Army Painter’s own aerosol varnish, it reacts with the Quickshade and will ruin your hard work

This is the first half of my army – the next stage will be the infantry and APCs (if you’ve read this month’s Miniature Wargames, you might have seen a preview…).