Salute 21 – The Final Tally

As this post is published, we’ll be loading the van ready for the drive to ExCel where we’ll be setting up for Salute tomorrow.

We have some last minute additions to the roster; the 15mm Sincanmo dune buggies get some heavy support in the shape of this 8×8 armoured car, with several turret options. There are also three new buggy variants – a 4×4 scout, plus 6×6 and half-track command vehicles.

We also have a new Celtos figure,a Vanir Healer sculpted by Jeremey. He doesn’t have a name yet, but might get one later.

Finally (yes, really finally), drifting majestically into view we have the Nightingale class hospital ship for Imperial Skies.

This seems like a good time to summarise all of the new models that we plan to have tomorrow (on the assumption that we remember to bring them with us – yes, there has been the odd occasion when we’ve managed to leave all the stock of one of our new releases behind…). The models with an (M) after the price are part of our charity fundraiser – 50% of the ex-VAT price of these models will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

15mm Sincanmo
HS15-2901 – Garaad 8×8 Heavy Armoured Car – £7.50
HS15-2901a – Garaad 8×8 AA Car – £7.50
HS15-2901b – Ugass 8×8 Command Car – £7.50
HS15-2902 – Naib 6×6 Technical – £7.00
HS15-2902a – Naib 6×6 Troop Carrier – £7.00
HS15-2902b – Naib 6×6 Command Car – £7.00
HS15-2902c – Naib 6×6 AA Truck – £7.50
HS15-2903 – Aamir Half-track – £7.00
HS15-2903a – Aamir Half-track Troop Carrier – £7.00
HS15-2903b – Aamir Command Half-track – £7.00
HS15-2903c – Aamir AA Half-track – £7.50
HS15-2904 – Qaadi 4×4 Utility – £6.00
HS15-2904a – Qaadi 4×4 EW Car- £6.00
HS15-2904 – Qaadi 4×4 Scout – £6.00

15mm Ambulances
HS15-408g – Catroux Ambulance – £8.00 (M)
HS15-715 – PacFed Ambulance – £7.50 (M)

6mm Buildings
B300-148 – Desert Medical Centre – £3.00 (M)
B300-507 – Research Base Medical Centre – £2.00 (M)
B300-606 – Moonbase Medical Centre – £3.00 (M)

CLT-212 – Vanir Healer – £4.00 (M)

Small Scale Scenery
SSS-8174 – Albeburgh Martello – £1.00
SSS-8176 – Victorian Hospitals – £3.50 (M)
SSS-8177 – Modern Hospital – £4.50 (M)

SFS-5027 – Neptune Conveyor – £4.00

Imperial Skies
VAN-5019 – Nightingale Hospital Ship – £6.00 (M)
VAN-1301 – Moreno Battleship – £8.00
VAN-1302 – Buenos Aires Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-1303 – Patagonia Cruiser – £2.50
VAN-1304 – Mendoza Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-1305 – Rosales Torpedo Frigate – £1.00
VAN-1306 – Libertad Battlecruiser – £8.00
VAN-1307 – Guerrico Frigate – £1.00

1/700 Forts
B700-170 – Lascaris Towers – £3.50
B700-173 – Fort Pate – £3.00
B700-175 – Aldeburgh Martello – £1.50

The Argentines Set Sail for Salute

Making their debut at Salute 2021 are the redesigned Argentine Imperial Skies fleet. There are seven craft in all – replacements for the existing five models, plus a new battlecruiser, the Libertad, and a frigate, the Guerrico. They retain the design style that Phil came up with many years ago with the intersecting circular deck layouts, and which at the time he carefully crafted by hand. These new versions are all digitally designed, which makes life much easier !

Argentine Capital Ships
Argentine Cruisers
Argentine Escorts

Wide Brazilian Sky

Progress is slower than we hoped on the South American Imperial Skies project, but the next of the fleets to get a makeover is the largest of the countries, Brazil. It has a total of 12 different models in the fleet, including four brand new ones, ranging from the Timbira class Torpedo Sloop at the smaller end of the scale up to the imposing Rei Andreas class battleship.

The new ships are the aforementioned Rei Andreas and Timbira, the Amazonas Light Armoured Cruiser and the Japura destroyer. The Brazilians also get a second fleet pack and a torpedo flotilla pack. Most of the ships are metal, with the exception of the resin-hulled Sao Paolo and Rei Andreas.

I’ve experimented with the painting on these, both in choice of colours and paints. Rather than the usual white or grey superstructures, black hulls etc, I’ve used muted versions of the flag colours – so green superstructures and yellow turrets. These don’t look too outlandish, and almost create a sort of camouflage scheme from above. I also decided to try painting them with Citadel Contrast paints. Over a Grey Seer spray basecoat (white was too light) I painted the hulls Basilicanum grey, the turrets Nazdreg Yellow, Militarum Green for the superstructures and Skeleton Horde for the decks. Normal paints were used to finish off the guns, masts, windows and other bits. It’s given a good enough result for the tabletop and was fairly quick, although you still have to be quite neat and avoid painting over the wrong areas.

VANFP-801 – Brazilian Fleet Pack #1 – £21.50
VANFP-802 – Brazilian Fleet Pack #2 – £21.50
VANFP-811 – Brazilian Torpedo Flotilla – £5.50

VAN-801 – Sao Paulo Class Battlecruiser – £6.50
VAN-802 – Minas Gerais Class Heavy Cruiser – £3.50
VAN-803 – Gustavo Sampaio Class Light Cruiser – £2.00
VAN-804 – Barroso Class Patrol Sloop – £0.50
VAN-805 – Pernambuco class Frigate – £1.00
VAN-806 – Júlio de Noronha class Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-807 – Tamandare class Torpedo Cruiser – £2.00
VAN-808 – Paraná class Frigate – £1.00
VAN-809 – Rei Andreas class Battleship- £8.00
VAN-810 – Japura class Destroyer – £1.50
VAN-811 – Timbira class Torpedo Sloop- £0.50
VAN-812 – Amazonas class Light Armoured Cruiser- £2.50

Next will be the Argentine fleet – all of the production moulds are in place, we just have to paint up the samples for the website. Beyond that, Uruguay is looking good, there are a pair of rather cool looking pre-production battlecruisers on my painting desk…

Closest Point to the Sun

We’re currently working hard on the redesigned Brazilian and Argentine fleets for Imperial Skies. They’re almost ready to go in fact, with the first samples waiting to be painted, and production moulds lined up at the workshop in anticipation.

But we’re getting into the swing of our South American adventure with a brand new aerial fleet. Ecuador lies in the north west corner of the continent, bordered by Colombia to the north and Peru to the east and south. During our research (yes, we do research things, we don’t make everything up – well, not all of it…) we learnt that the Galapagos Islands, 1000km out into the Pacific, are part of Ecuador (which, incidentally, just means ‘Equator’ in Spanish). And that, because of the way the planet bulges, the Chimborazo Volcano is the closest point on the earth to the sun.

All that aside, militarily the country is not the strongest in the region. When we were initially assessing the countries to determine the size of their air fleets, Ecuador ranked quite low, coming in just above Paraguay. As a result, the largest class are the Tunguruhua heavy cruisers, supported by a number of smaller craft.

The Ecuadorian airships are all armoured dirigibles, with their self-sealing gasbags supplemented by small Loewe Graviton Engines for additional lift. Only the Tunguruhua class have rotating turrets, with casemate guns on other ships plus flotillas of torpedo-armed small craft. Vessels use the prefix DAE; Dirigivel de la Armada del Ecuador.

The fleet has five models, and there’s a mini fleet pack and torpedo flotilla pack. We’ve also provided two flag sheets – the national flag changed in 1900 so we’ve drawn up before and after versions.

VANFP-3201 – Ecuadorian Air Guard Squadron Pack – £13.00
VANFP-3211 – Ecuadorian Torpedo Flotilla – £4.50
VANF-3201 – Ecuadorian Flag (1860-1900) – £0.50
VANF-3202 – Ecuadorian Flag (1900-2009) – £0.50

VAN-3201 – Tunguruhua class Heavy Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-3202 – Zamora class Light Cruiser – £1.75
VAN-3203 – Chimborazo class Destroyer – £1.25
VAN-3204 – Isla class Frigate – £1.00
VAN-3205 – Isabela class Torpedo Cutter (x3) – £1.50

Bases Are Back – At Last!

As you’re doubtless aware if you have more than a passing acquaintance with this blog, we’ve been completely out of flying stands for some time. Our normal supplier’s mould had failed, and injection moulds are expensive, specialist items to repair or replace. So we were stuck…

However, after much searching we’ve finally been able to locate an alternative source of plastic flying bases. They are of a different design, with a circular base rather than a hexagonal one. The post is of a similar height, although fatter, and the peg at the top is of a slightly larger diameter (which means that you will have to open out the cast-in mounting holes at the bottom of our models with a 2mm drill). The plastic they’re made from seems to be a little softer, so they should be less brittle. We’ve already used them to base up a batch of new models and had no problems – in fact the wider post seems to make it a bit easier to balance the model on top while the glue sets. There is a downside – they are more expensive, costing us around twice as much. But at least we finally – finally – have something to base your flying models. Our stock arrived on Friday and we’ve wasted no time in getting them on the website.

Comparison between the new (left) and old bases.

Because they’re dearer, we’ve decided against putting them in fleet packs, as we’d have to recalculate the price of all the packs.

Coincidentally, we also received a restock of one or two codes of dice that had been out of stock, particularly the small (7mm) dice that are so handy as markers, along with a new colour (orange).

ACC-025 – Clear round-base flying stand (x10) – £4.00
ACC-003O – Small six-sided dice – orange (x10) – £1.00

Aerial Traders

This week we have a couple of new sets of merchant vessels for Imperial Skies. Although an unarmed cargo carrier may not seem the most exciting of models, they open up more possibilities for game scenarios. These can range from a simple attack/defend a convoy game, to fleets getting caught napping while replenishing (maybe all of your battleships start the game with no heavy gun ammo and have to spend two turns stationary next to a freighter to reload ?).

We have two US vessels and two Scandinavians – a small freighter and a coaler each. Both have the same basic hull styling of their respective nation’s military vessels so will fit in as fleet auxiliaries. There is also a small Scandinavian Federation crane lighter to aid with loading and unloading, but which could be useful for any nation.

Finally, we have a replacement for the old Amazone patrol vessel. Vessels like this are seen at many civilian air stations, patrolling the skies while keeping an eye out for pirates, anarchists or enemy ships. They are very lightly armed and fairly fragile, being built to civilian rather than military standards.

VAN-5004 – Amazone Patrol Cutter – £0.50
VAN-5014 – Cactus class Light Freighter – £2.00
VAN-5015 – Hudson class Coal Tender – £2.00
VAN-5016 – Visborg class Freighter – £2.00
VAN-5017 – Svalbard class Coaler – £2.00
VAN-5018 – Q-7 class Crane Lighter – £0.75

Upholding the Constitucion

So the South American thing we mentioned earlier in the week… it starts here. We’re getting off the ground gently with a new battlecruiser for the Chilean fleet, the Constitucion class.

You may remember that the Chilean fleet has already been updated with a number of new vessels, but the Constitucion gives it a second capital ship to go with the existing Santiago.

The Constitucion has a pair of new triple-barrelled heavy turrets based on the French style – these are also available in a separate accessory pack.

VAN-1608 – Constitucion class Battlecruiser – £8.00
VAN-7049 – French Triple Heavy Turret (x10) – £1.50

Welcome to the New World

A major change has happened to our website this week – our range of Victorian sci-fi flying craft has moved under the banner of Imperial Skies, to more closely tie them to the rules. All the product codes remain the same, but web addresses have changed – we’ve set up a series of redirects so that hopefully anyone who clicks on an old link should be redirected to the new location. Click on the logo below to go to the new Imperial Skies section of the website.

This is probably also a good time to set out our plans for the range over the remainder of this year (and almost certainly stretching into 2022). When we finished our redesign and remoulding of all of the major powers at the end of 2020, Phil and I discussed two options going ahead. The first was to move onto the remaining European nations that still needed resculpts, such as Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Turks and Belgium. This would also involve some new fleets such as the Greeks, Portuguese and the Balkan countries. Option two was to concentrate on the South American continent instead, resculpting the existing models and adding some smaller nations.

In the end we went for plan B and set course for the New World. This will involve redesigning the Brazilian, Argentinian and Peruvian fleets, who along with the Chileans are the major players in the region. The other six countries – Bolivia, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguary, Uruguay and Venezuela – will all get fleets of varying size. And during the timeline of Imperial Skies, Britain, France and Holland all still have substantial colonies on the continent (British Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname respectively) so that seems like a good excuse to add some specific new vessels to those fleets.

We’ve divided the nations into three tiers by looking at their relative sizes, populations and GDP at the end of the C.19th, along with their real-life military strength at the time, particularly their wet navies. The most powerful nations will get a couple of capital ships plus cruisers and escorts, the second rank ones will get a battlecruiser or maybe a small or obsolete battleship while the lowliest fleets have nothing larger than a cruiser.

One design decision we made early was exclude fighter carriers. Flying fighter carriers are expensive to build and maintain in the world of Imperial Skies, and we decided that they would be beyond the means of the nations involved here. They will still have fixed-wing aircraft, often sourced from abroad, but they will mainly operate from surface airfields or in some cases water (I have great plans for the Lake Titicaca Seaplane Squadron !).

The first releases were going to be at Salute in April, and then more models were to be pushed out over the rest of the year. But lately we’ve all learnt not to make plans, as any number of things can get in the way ! Salute didn’t happen, and various lockdowns have delayed us a little. We’re a bit behind on our intended timeline, but we’re ready to make a start. We’ve already finished design work and mastering of the Argentinian and Brazilian fleets, and most of the production moulds for those fleets are ready to roll. We’ve also finished the first of the brand new navies, Ecuador. All of these models are just waiting for us to paint up samples for the website, then we’ll be ready to roll. Here’s a look at a new Brazilian battleship, the Rei Andreas:

Blast from the Past

Rooting through some old files recently I came across some designs for US airships that were sent to me many moons ago (the file is dated 2007) by a gamer called Frank Alvarado. One of these caught my attention so I immediately fired up the 3D software and, a few strokes of the mouse later, had the rough layout of a new dreadnought. This was then refined into a final design and sent off to be printed. It’s been modified slightly, mainly to make it fit our existing set of US turrets and other parts, but it’s still essentially Frank’s design which we’ve named after him.

Alvarado class Dreadnought

We’ve tried to contact Frank but to no avail – neither email address we have on file has elicited a response and we’ve had no luck on social media either. So if anyone knows Frank, ask him to drop us a line – we’d like to send him some examples of the vessel he designed all those years ago.

VAN-224 – Alvarado class Dreadnought – £8.50

Luxury Travel in the Skies

Today we take to the skies in unprecedented aerial luxury, with the release of three flying passenger liners. We have newly designed versions of the Majestic, Stirling Castle and Kaiserin Elizabeth class ships, all with resin hulls and metal parts. The largest, the Majestic, even has a small swimming pool on the afterdeck surrounded by sun loungers, for passengers who wish to swim in the sky!

And representing the more grimy, utilitarian face of merchant shipping, we also have a new version of the French Rochefort heavy merchant, featuring a deck festooned with cranes and cargo hatches.

VAN-5001 – Majestic class Passenger Liner – £8.50
VAN-5006 – Kaiserin Elisabeth class Liner – £4.00
VAN-5009 – Rochefort class Heavy Merchant – £8.00
VAN-5010 – Stirling Castle class Liner – £5.00