City of Dreams

It’s Friday, so it’s new release time again. We try and vary our new releases across the different ranges, and today the wheel has stopped on our Small Scale Scenery range, and what we hope should be some very useful City Apartment Blocks. Many European city centres are built, at least partially, on a block system. The best example I can find to illustrate this is Barcelona’s appropriately named Eixample district – the photo below shows the layout of the city perfectly.

Photo taken from Wikipedia - licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

The blocks of apartments generally have shops or offices on the ground floor with 4-6 levels of apartments above that. They surround a central courtyard which can be a garden space, parking or can sometimes be partially filled with smaller buildings and sheds.

For this initial release we’ve created three sets – a pack of four corners, another of four straight blocks, and a third consisting of two T-pieces and two straight pieces with an archway into the courtyard area, all with flat-topped mansard roofs (although there are one or two areas with flat roofs for variety). All are 1-piece resin castings. Each piece is slightly different so that the look of the blocks is varied. The blocks are built on a 40mm footprint – each corner is 40x40mm with the depth of the apartments set at 20mm. This means that a pack of four corners will create a block 80x80mm, with a central 40x40mm courtyard. Adding straight pieces means that the blocks can be extended in 40mm increments. For gaming purposes, this works perfectly with rules that use 40mm frontages for figure bases (such as Land Ironclads).

If all goes well with these, there’s certainly plenty of scope to add more variety in terms of frontage detail, different roof types, varied number of floors etc.

SSS-8094 – City Block Corners – £7.50
SSS-8095 – City Block Straights – £5.00
SSS-8096 – City Block Ts and Arches – £6.50

Dock of the Bay

We’ve been quite on the blog for a week or so – I’ve been busy with orders (including another large restock for one of our retailers) and other stuff, and also had a couple of days off with the long-suffering Brigadieress. I’ve also been painting these next items – it’s taken a while (I’ve been mentioning these on and off to various customers at shows for the past couple of years) but today we’ve added several new sets of Dockyard Buildings to our Small Scale Scenery range. These were supposed to have been released last Friday (which would have neatly coincided with the 350th anniversary of the Battle of the Medway) but we’re a little late, delayed by preparations for Broadside, the weather (guess who left some painted models outside to dry and got caught out by a sudden rain-shower …) and a desire to paint and present these properly, which took longer than I expected to finish (Anchor Wharf in particular has a lot of windows).

However, we’re there now and we think it’s well worth the wait. The buildings are in the main based on prototypes at Chatham Dockyard in Kent, which at the turn of the 20th Century was one of Britain’s main naval dockyards for construction and repair.

The larger buildings are all resin, with the smaller buildings set cast in metal. The metal buildings set includes various manufacturing centres such as a sawmill, smithery, galvanising shed and pumphouse along with administrative buildings and general purpose sheds. If you didn’t want to use them specifically as dockyard buildings then they would still make great general-purpose factories and warehouses.

The Titan Crane is a 3D-printed piece, available from our Shapeways shop. It’s priced in dollars (since that’s the way that Shapeways do things) so the price in Europe will depend on the current exchange rate when you order.

SSS-8085 – Slip Cover #3 – £4.00
SSS-8086 – Slip Cover #4/5/6 – £4.00
SSS-8087 – Mast Sheds and Smithery – £5.00
SSS-8088 – Anchor Wharf – £6.00
SSS-8090 – Dockyard Buildings – £9.00
SSS-8093 – Waterline Dry Dock – £4.00

SHP-108 – Titan Crane – US$13.00

Viva España !

So, as we mentioned last week, the Salute releases are all up on the website and it’s now time for something completely new. Today we have a collection of new releases with a Spanish flavour, partially taken from my Menorquin holiday last summer.

Menorca is an island with a damn sight more military history than I expected, being dotted with fortifications and castles all around the rocky coastline. There are seventeen small towers of varying designs around the coast, primarily on the eastern side of the island. These are mostly different types of Martello Tower, cylindrical or conical in design with one or two guns mounted on the roof. The first item this week is a set of three different versions of these towers – the Torre de Fornells, a well-preserved large tower on the northern Fornells peninsular; the Castillo de Sant Nicolau in Ciutadella on the far west coast, an unusual octagonal castle built by the Spanish; and the Torre Son Ganxo, a smaller and more conventional Martello design. Incidentally, if you follow some of the links and notice that the positioning of some doors seems to differ slightly from our models, it’s because new doors have been opened at ground level on the towers for easier access. When in use 200 or so years ago, access to some of the towers was by ladder to a door on the first floor.

Next up is another design from Menorca, the Castell de San Antonio. This remains of this castle are located in Fornells, very close to the Tower. It was built in the C.17th to defend against pirates, but its very low elevation right on the harbour front made it vulnerable to fire from ships and it ended up being partially demolished in 1782. Despite its rather undistinguished military career, I’ve chosen to make it as a perfect example of a four-pointed star fort design which can be used to stand in for other castles around the world.

We’re now moving down in size to some very small fortifications built by the Spanish in Cuba during the War of Independence in that country and the Spanish-American War. There were many of these dotted around the island of various designs, and our pack has four different models. They’re of a similar design to American Civil War blockhouses so would serve a dual purpose there too.

Finally for this week we’re staying on Cuba with a model of a church. This has two towers and would serve in other locales around the world, notably various European Mediterranean and South American countries.

SSS-8081 – Castell de San Antonio – £3.00
SSS-8082 – Menorca Towers – £2.50
SSS-8083 – Cuban Church – £1.00
SSS-8084 – Spanish Blockhouses – £1.00

2mm Wonders

One of the best things about selling our models is seeing what people do with them, the way they’re painted and used in either games or modelling projects. We’ve recently been sent some photos of two diverse scenic models made using our Small Scale Scenery range and we thought it would be great to show them off.

The first is a Roman town by Pas Capetta in Australia. He’s used a combination of our Roman buildings (metal and resin) and the Hadrian’s Wall and Roman Fort packs to create a superb walled town. They’ve been coloured using artists paint markers rather than conventional brush paints, and some of the trees are rather cleverly made from offcuts of an artificial Christmas tree.

Ian Maun on the other hand is putting together a large English coastal diorama, starting with the town of Market Hampton, which will sit slightly inland from the harbour. The whole piece is being made in sections which should all eventually fit together to form a single large terrain area. In case anyone was wondering, the castle isn’t ours – it’s from Langton Miniatures.

Dockyard Extension

As mentioned before Salute, I’ve been working on extending the number of buildings available in our upcoming Dockyard building set. Mostly based on Chatham dockyard with one or two extras, I have a few 3D previews of the additions here. The buildings (Smithery, Pump house and Galvanising Shed) are all Chatham ones:

While this is a dry dock with caisson (it’s modelled as a waterline piece, eg full of water) which is based on the dimensions of the Chatham ones but with some slightly differing detail:

Finally, my favourite; this is a Titan Crane, one of the giant cantilever cranes which can still be seen in places such as Glasgow and Clydebank. It will be released as a 3D print as making it in resin or metal would be tricky to say the least! It stands an impressive (for 2mm) 46mm tall:

Expect a release hopefully in early June.

Last Minute Additions

Phil’s just emailed me to say he’s remade the mould for our long out-of-production Kerberos spacestation, so we’ll have several examples of that for sale tomorrow. The Kerberos is a three-spoked ring station which is a single-piece resin casting, and he tells me that the new ones he’s had out of the mould so far have been flash free. The basic version is unarmed, but it’s crying out to be upgraded with turrets from our spaceship accessory range (or, if you’re feeling creative, some of the many separate turret packs in our Aeronef range, some of which would pass for SF turrets). We don’t have a new painted example, so you’ll have to make do with this photo from the archives…

SFS-6003 – Kerberos Spacestation – £11.50

As well as that, I’ve managed to create some stock of this new castle for the Small Scale Scenery range. It’s the Castillo de San Antonio, the remains of which are in Fornells, Menorca. The castle was built around 1637-62 but demolished in 1782 – all that’s left of the site now is ruins. As a castle it wasn’t very successful, it’s sited at sea level so ships found it very easy to engage. It might seem like an odd subject to choose, but I found some excellent period scale plans to work from and it’s also a brilliant example of a four-pointed star fort which could stand in for similar works all over the world.

SSS-8081 – Castillo de San Antonio – £3.00

Right, I’m off to the workshop to pack up the van, then it’s up to London to set up the stand – see you tomorrow !

That’s All, Folks !

There was an outside chance that we would have even more stuff for Salute to show you, but in the end it hasn’t happened. As I’ve mentioned to several people at shows over the last few months, I have been working on some dockyard buildings – mostly based on Chatham Naval Dockyard, not all that far from Brigade HQ here in Kent. I finished a batch about a month ago, sent them off for 3D printing and the idea was that we’d just about have time to throw them in a mould for Salute. However, when they came back it turned out that I had underestimated the size of one of them – not the dimensions of the building, that’s all correct, but the space it would need in the mould. It turns out that one in particular (the Chatham Mast House) is too big to be made in metal and will have to be a resin casting. This isn’t a problem in itself, it’s a straightforward model with no fiddly bits like chimneys so will cast nicely, but it means that the remaining models only really fill just over half a mould. So, we’ll either a) get a second set printed so we have two small sets in the mould, or b) design some more to fill it (we’ll probably go for b). Either way, it’s a post-Salute job. Hopefully I can use the lull after Salute to design some more and have them ready in time for our next show, Broadside in June.

We will have some of the slip cover buildings – like huge warehouses, they cover the slips where the ships are built. At 3-400 feet long, they were big enough to protect pre-dreadnought battleships from the elements. The moulds for these were made months ago and we have some stock, but you’ll have to ask for them as they probably won’t be on display.

But here are some of them anyway – particularly impressive is the massive Anchor Wharf warehouse, almost 700 feet long and the largest storehouses ever built for the navy. It’s so big it looks out of scale with the rest of the buildings, and could pass for a row of 6mm terraced houses.

2mm Terrain

We have a bit of small-scale eye candy this afternoon. Jonas Dahlberg has sent us some pictures of his impressive 2mm WW2 layouts, featuring the Battle of the Bulge, D-Day landings and a really nice pacific island – I especially love the snow-covered industrial zone. Enjoy !

Track Painting

With the recent release of our new Small Scale Scenery engine sheds and track, I thought it might be a good time to quickly run through my painting method for the track. When I first got hold of prototypes of our original track to paint, I looked at all the little tiny sleepers and thought “how on earth am I going to paint those – it’ll take forever”. Well, fear not…

Step 1 – Primer

After a quick cleanup, removing any extraneous bits of sprue and running a file round the edges, I gave the track a coat of Halfords’ grey car primer. This is my favourite primer for all models – it sticks to any surface and gives a good matt base for painting over.

Step 2 – Sleepers

If you’re in North America, read ‘crosstie’ when I say sleeper, it’s the same thing. I gave the sleepers a good drybrush with GW Bestial Brown (use your favourite brown if you don’t like/use Citadel paints) – use a small brush to do this as you want to avoid too much paint getting everywhere. You will inevitably get some brown around the track but don’t worry too much, we’ll clean it up in a minute. You want a relatively heavy drybrush coat (if that isn’t a contradiction) so that the whole of the sleeper surface is painted, not just the edges. As you can see, it’s all looking a bit messy…

Step 3 – Cleanup

I then went round and tidied up any overspill from the drybrush with grey paint (Tamiya XF-66 Light Grey is a good match for Halfords primer). Assuming you haven’t been too liberal with the brown and got it between the sleepers, you should find it reasonably quick and easy. Don’t worry about any brown on the rails themselves – any on the top surface will be coming off later, and any on the side looks like rust, which is a major colour as far as railway track goes. You might notice that I forgot to do the tops of the road crossings in one or two places – I had to clean this up this later.

Step 4 – Wash

Everything was then give a good coat of Citadel Nuln Oil black wash (Army Painter Dark Tone or Tamiya Smoke would work just as well). This takes longer than you might think – you tend to get little bubbles between the sleepers so you might need to use a stiffer brush to work the wash into these areas.

Step 5 – Rails

On our first set of tracks I used a silver paint pen and ran this over the top surface of the rails. This worked OK but I did get some overspill onto the sleepers especially around the points. You could use a small detail brush and silver paint, although I suspect it would be time-consuming. My solution this time was to make use of the natural colour of the metal. On the first piece of track I used a piece of wet-and-dry to remove the paint from the top of the rails – this took longer than I thought, and I managed to remove the paint from some of the sleepers as well. So for the next piece I simply ran a scalpel blade along the rails and scraped the paint off – perfect ! It was more accurate, quicker and cleaner. Look at those rails shine !

I painted almost two dozen pieces of track in an hour or so, so it’s a pretty quick method of producing reasonably good looking track.

Railway Assortment

Today we’re expanding on the railway options available in our Small Scale Scenery range. We have two different engine sheds – one is a large shed (over 250 scale feet long) with room for multiple engines and carriages. It’s not based on any specific prototype but is more generic.

The second is a more distinctive circular shape based on the Camden Roundhouse in London (now a well-known concert venue which I’ve been to once or twice). This has just a single entrance door for engines, but had a turntable to distribute the engines to repair bays once inside.

We have a new pack of double track, allowing side-by-side running (which would have been difficult with our existing curved track) – this has twelve pieces, six straight and six curved.

Finally, we have a very useful set of assorted crossing track – single and double road crossings, X-crossings and left- and right-hand crossovers (there are two of each piece in the pack – ten pieces in all).

SSS-8077 – Large Engine Shed – £4.00
SSS-8078 – Roundhouse Engine Shed – £3.00
SSS-8079 – Double Track – £5.50
SSS-8080 – Railway Crossings – £4.50