As we reach the mid-point of Fort Week, I’ve run out of alliterative titles so I’m now resorting to puns. This is Fort Paté, a Vauban fortification on an islet in the Gironde estuary in France built at the end of the 17th century. Along with Fort Médoc and the citadel of Blaye, it defended the approaches to the city of Bordeaux. It had a garrison of 20 men, but we can’t find any info’ about how many cannon it had.
Our second offering for fort week is this collection of defensive towers from Malta. Known as the Lascaris Towers, they were built in the 17th Century by the Order of St John.
Our set consists of two small watchtowers and a larger artillery tower, of which there are several examples of both on the island. It also has the much larger Saint Agatha’s Tower, which is a bastioned watchtower painted an unusual pinkish-red colour.
Phil’s been busy lately, designing a large number of new buildings and fortifications for the Small Scale Scenery range. While I’m away on holiday we thought it would be a good time to have a Fort Week, showcasing one of his new forts and castles each day.
We’re starting with Matara Star Fort, an 18th century edifice built by the Dutch in Matara, Sri Lanka. It was built to protect the main fort at Matara from landward attacks, following a successful assault by Singhalese forces in 1762. It has a rather unusual 6-sided plan with a central building and courtyard, and mounted 12 cannon with interleaving fields of fire. It was originally known as Redoubte Van Eck after the local Dutch governer, and was handed over to the British at the end of the century without seeing action.
Phil has been busy lately, coming up with all sorts of new models for the Small Scale Scenery range. Today we have two magnificent examples from the city of Taranto in Italy.
The first of these if the imposing Palazzo del Governo, a 52m-high imposing government building on the Taranto sea front. It was inaugurated by Mussolini in 1934 and is still used by the provincial government. It looks striking, being built of a mix of buff stone and pinkish brick.
A couple of hundred metres away over the Ponte Girovele is the Castel San Angelo. Also known as the Castello Aragonese, it dates from the C.15th and was built on the foundations of previous fortifications. Parts of the Castel have been demolished over the years to allow for the building of the bridge and widening of the canal – our model shows the structure as it is now.
Both structures would doubtless have been used as navigation markers by Fleet Air Arm pilots during the Battle of Taranto in 1940.
Phil’s been very busy lately, designing all manner of new forts, castles and other bits for our Small Scale Scenery range. Today’s offering is the Castillo de San Antón, a rather uniquely shaped starfort built in the late C.16th to defend the Bay of Coruña in northern Spain (and not to be confused with our existing Castell de San Antonio). In it’s uncompleted state it helped to dissuade Sir Francis Drake’s Counter Armada in 1589. It became a prison in the C.18th and is now a museum.
Today we have a new addition to the modular Medieval Castle range. This is a new keep based on the one at Conisborough Castle near Doncaster. The castle dates from the 11th century, just after the Norman Conquest, although the unusual 6-towered keep was built later by Hamelin de Warenne, Earl of Surrey. We’ve restored it to its original condition with a conical roof.
The keep is available on its own or as part of a set with walls, towers and gatehouse.
The first holiday that the Brigadieress and I went on together was to Northern France. One of the towns we visited was St Omer, and I remember thinking at the time how striking the Hotel de Ville (town hall) was, sitting as it does in the big market square.
Wind forward quite a few years and I’ve finally managed to get a 2mm model made of the Hotel de Ville, which is part of today’s new releases. Alongside it we have some terraced town buildings, nominally French in style but at this scale they could be used in many European countries. Each strip of buildings is 40mm long, and there are eight in the set. We’ve also made up a pack consisting of the Hotel de Ville and two sets of terraces to make up a complete market square.
This week we have a first – since we switched to digital sculpts and 3D printing, Tony has done all of the design work on our new releases. But this week it’s Phil’s turn – these are his first two 3D sculpts to see the light of day.
He may also be making some sort of statement about working at Brigade (!), with 1/1000th scale models of a Workhouse and Gaol for our ever-expanding Small Scale Scenery range.
The workhouse is a rather unusual three-winged design in a hexagonal outer wall, based on the long-demolished one in Abingdon, Berkshire.
The Gaol is also from Abingdon, with a similar three-wing design but a different layout to the grounds. The building is still standing, although it’s been converted to luxury flats – the original walls have gone so Phil has had to create these himself, based on those around Maidstone prison.
A while ago we invested in a new bit of kit, a pressure casting vessel – basically a big cast metal bucket with a lid that can be bolted down. If you haven’t come across one before, the idea is that you put resin castings in it before they cure, bolt the lid down and put them under pressure via an air compressor. Many companies produce resin castings use them – we felt a bit left out and had to have one! They improve the quality of resin castings by either removing or at least considerably shrinking any air bubbles. It’s not perfect – you can still get the odd air bubble, and depending on the shape of a model we might need to cut channels for air to escape from, but it’s an order of magnitude better than simple gravity-fed drop castings.
Not only has it improved the quality of our existing models as we remould them, but it’s allowed us to cast things we wouldn’t have attempted previously. We’ve been remaking some of our models that were metal castings into resin parts – in particular larger pieces. We’ve taken a number of multi-part spaceships that were tricky to assemble, and converted them to single piece resin hulls instead (still with separate metal turrets and other bits). This includes several British capital ships and the Neo-Soviet Voroshilov battleship, thus saving you lots of filing and filling to fit the hull halves together. Being much lighter, they’re also easier to base now.
We’ve also converted a number of the larger buildings in the Small Scale Scenery range, including some of the Industrial and Dockyard buildings, the English Civic Buildings and the large church. They’re easier to cast for us, and easier to clean up and handle for you – everyone’s a winner!
There are still a few more to be done – we have masters for more British spaceships (the Colossus battleship and Fearless assault ship are next) which will be phased in during the first part of next year.
We have a pair of new additions to the Roman buildings in our Small Scale Scenery range this week.
First we have a 1/1000th rendition of the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome. Roman basilicas were public buildings that served a variety of purposes, and this example is a particularly large and impressive edifice with a distinctive roof design, and was almost 100m long. The original building is still partially standing in Rome today.
Our second release is a set of Roman barracks buildings designed to match up with our existing Roman Fort set. It consists of over 20 metal buildings – 12 barracks blocks, six stables, two granaries and several administrative and utility buildings. The photo shows the buildings in the barracks pack while the CGI image shows a possible layout of a fort using the two sets combined.