Update – It’s Still Snow Joke !

The weather is still pretty grim here – we’ve had more snow with another bout forecast for this afternoon. I haven’t ventured to the workshop at all since Monday, although main roads are clear the back routes are still tricky to negotiate. So, if you have an outstanding order with us (anything placed since last Sunday) then there will be a bit of a delay. The forecast is for a bit of a thaw from Sunday – the temperatures should at least climb above freezing – so I’ll get back to the workshop on Monday and should have the backlog cleared in a couple of days.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to postpone this week’s new release until I’ve cleared the order queue. Phil has also been off work for part of this week as his office was closed, so he’s taken the chance to get ahead with mould production so we have more new stuff ready to release.

I haven’t been idle – apart from walking the dog in the snow (which she loved, as you can see) I’ve been painting some new bits – I’ve now finished all of our new releases for the next four weeks. And looking further ahead, Salute is now just six weeks away. As regular readers of our blog will know, we like to have lots of shiny new releases to tempt you with at the show (and to make our overseas customers envious). This year’s focus is firmly on 15mm Sci-Fi and in particular Hammer’s Slammers – if all goes well we could have as many as a dozen new vehicles in lots of variants. We’re working on some important vehicle types that feature in a number of the detachment lists with the aim of making it possible to create those detachments again. The design work for these is mostly done, and we already have the masters for many of them cleaned up and prepped for moulding (a couple have already been moulded in fact). And the hope is that we’ll get as many of these vehicles as possible available in 6mm as well.

It won’t be all Slammers though – there are half-a-dozen spaceship masters on my workbench, some Aeronef in the works and today I’m working on new 2mm scale buildings. Oh, and we’ve commissioned some new (and unusual) 28mm Great War figures – Dib Dib Dib!

Having waffled on about all the new stuff, it wouldn’t be fair to leave you without at least one or two pictures – so here we are…

Stats Update

We’ve released a fair number of new spaceships and Aeronef in recent months, so last week I sat down and updated our gaming support pages with stats for Aeronef and Starmada X. This includes all the new Nef released since the Imperial Skies kickstarter, and the latest British and Neo-Soviet spaceships.

Aeronef stats can be found here, while the spaceships are here.

The Grand Fleet Arrives

Following on from the arrival of the new Victoria and Albert class battleships, the rest of the British capital ships get a similar makeover this week. The Agincourt and Benbow battleships plus the Audacious and Britannia battlecruisers have all been replaced by new resin-hulled models with separate turrets and metal parts.

The Benbow, the original of which was the first Aeronef model we ever made, has three twin turrets of a new design and carries several scout fighters launched from a catapult amidships.

The Agincourt is the heaviest of this batch, does away with the aircraft and instead has four main turrets and a heavier secondary battery.

The Britannia battlecruiser has two main turrets, one triple and one twin, again of a new design.

The Audacious is similar to the Britannia but with two twin turrets and a four torpedo tubes.

We’ve revamped the existing British fleet packs with the new models, including the British Grand Fleet pack. The two new turret types are also available in separate accessory packs.

VAN-101 – Benbow class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-109 – Agincourt class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-111 – Britannia class Battlecruiser – £7.00
VAN-114 – Audacious class Battlecruiser – £7.00

VAN-7016 – British Battleship Turrets (x10) – £1.50
VAN-7017 – British Battlecruiser Turrets (x10) – £1.50

Victoria and Albert

So here we are, starting as we mean to go on with the first releases of 2018.

As promised, the British are the latest Aeronef fleet to start receiving upgrades (this was supposed to happen last year but the arrival of the Slammers Regiment delayed things a little). The first of the old models to be replaced is the Victoria class Heavy Battleship with its three large triple gun turrets and pair of carried E-8 torpedo boats. In keeping with our other new Aeronef, the new model has a resin hull and separate metal fittings including turrets, masts and funnels.

Accompanying the Victoria is the all-new Albert class Battleship, which shares a basic hull plan but exchanges the torpedo boats for an extra main turret. Phil had always planned to make this model when we released the original Victoria, and his grand design is now finally a reality.

The Victoria’s E-8 torpedo boats are now available separately in sets of three for £1.50. They have also been redesigned to the same standard as their parent craft.

And while we were at it, it made sense to redesign the other two British small craft since they can all share a mould. So the Stingray torpedo nef and Abingdon patrol nef have had a makeover too – both are also now sold in threes, although the price per model (£0.50) remains the same as before.

We’ve created a new fleet pack, the imaginatively-named British Fleet Pack #4 which contains a Victoria, an Albert and six escort vessels. And finally for this week, the British Torpedo Flotilla has been slightly changed – it now contains three Stingrays, three E-8s and a Cossack frigate as flotilla leader plus bases.

VANFP-106 – British Fleet Pack #4 – £22.00
VANFP-112 – British Torpedo Flotilla – £4.50

VAN-110 – Stingray class Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-113 – Abingdon class Patrol Nef (x3) – £1.50
VAN-117 – Victoria class Heavy Battleship – £9.00
VAN-120 – Albert class Dreadnought – £9.00
VAN-121 – E-8 class Torpedo Nef (x3) – £1.50

This is only the start of the British Grand Fleet’s revamp – the other battleship and battlecruiser models are in the pipeline for the next couple of months, as is the Albion carrier, and there’s another brand new model to go along with them. Once they’re all been upgraded then we’ll move on to reorganising the contents of the various fleet packs.

Last Update

We’ll, that’s it for 2017. I’m now off until January 2nd, so while the website will remain open for business, no orders will be processed until I return.

In a rather unexpected turn of events, I did in the end manage to clear every outstanding order (except for one, but that was down to a resin mould failing at just the wrong moment), including one that came in this afternoon. The metal delivery arrived in the nick of time this morning, which was a relief. There were several very large orders which were all for similar items (6mm Slammers and opposition) which I was able to do as one very big batch, saving a lot of time. And I was also very lucky that most of the post-sale orders have been straightforward, either things that were quick and easy to cast or that I already had in stock. Which is great, as it means that 2018 will start with a clean slate rather than a 2017 sale hangover as previous years often have.

The orders won’t be posted until after Christmas – there’s no point, as nothing will be delivered over the holiday so all they’d do is sit in a Royal Mail depot for several days. I’ll shift them all during next week.

Finally, while waiting for the metal delivery this morning I made some resin moulds for some of next year’s early releases. This is what went into them…

Merry Christmas!

Fattening Up

The latest Aeronef model to receive a makeover is the French Les Arcs carrier. We’ve kept the basic configuration (dig hull with forward deck) but that’s about it. The new version is much, much bigger, with lots of space inside the resin hull and plenty of metal fittings. It comes with four triple AA turrets and four light gun turrets for self-defence, four funnels and two masts, and a new winged bridge. The deck is also a metal fitting that sits in front of two large hangar doors.

Altogether a mighty vessel around which to base a French carrier force.

VAN-402 – Les Arc Class Dig Fighter Carrier – £9.00

VANFP-402 – French Carrier Pack – £22.00

Upgrading the Les Arcs

The French battleship fleet has recently had an upgrade with the arrival of the new Massena and Loire to go along with the Gloire and Charlemagne. This just left the carrier Les Arcs to be brought up to the new design standards.

And here she is – I am particularly pleased with the way this has come out. This is just the resin hull with metal deck and bridge – I haven’t yet added the array of funnels, masts and gun turrets to the model. To give you an idea of the look of the final assembled model, here’s a CGI image. It’s a lot bigger than the older model, slightly longer and much wider.

The new Les Arcs should be on the website in a week or two – I obviously need to assemble, paint and photograph this one, but the production moulds are all ready to go.

Vive la France !

The Aeronef revolution continues, as this week we update the French fleet with new battleship models.

The Loire replaces the old model of the same name. In keeping with our other new models, it now has a resin hull with lots of metal fittings – turrets, tail, bridge, masts and funnels. The tail comes in three different variations so, in keeping with French naval practices of the time, no two ships are quite the same.

The new Masséna model represents a family of related but not-quite-the-same battleships. It has a similar (but not identical) tumblehome hull to the Loire, but the top superstructure is a separate metal piece that comes in three different types. The tail comes in the same three variants as the Loire, giving a total of nine combinations on the basic hull. In addition, the main turrets can be single or twin mountings – altogether, we think this gives an impressive total of 48 slightly different variations from a single model.

At the same time we’ve revisited the French fleet packs – the Grand Fleet pack has been reorganised to contain one each of all of the French capital ships (including the existing Charlemagne and Gaulois) plus escorts. The existing Fleet Pack (VANFP-401) now contains a Gaulois and Loire and we’ve created two new packs – Fleet Pack #2 has two different Masséna models, while the Fast Fleet Pack contains two Charlemagne battlecruisers. All packs also include escort cruisers and destroyers.

VAN-410 – Loire class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-419 – Masséna class Battleship – £8.00

VANFP-024 – French Grand Fleet Pack – £48.00
VANFP-401 – French Fleet Pack #1 – £22.00
VANFP-403 – French Fleet Pack #2 – £22.00
VANFP-404 – French Fast Fleet Pack – £22.00

Flags are available separately, and the roundels are from Dom’s Decals aircraft range.

Upgrading the Empire

As the next stage in our gradual resculpting of the Aeronef range, we’re pleased today to be able to release five new capital ships for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Three of the models replace their existing battleship designs (the Erzherzog Ferdinand Max, Budapest and Szent István class battleships) while two are new designs. All have new resin hulls with the customary collection of metal fittings – turrets, masts, funnels and tails.

The Ferdinand Max and Szent István share a similar (but not identical) hull design but differ in important details, with the Austrian-built Ferdinand Max having one main and one secondary turret along with a heavy broadside battery in casemate mounts in the amidships and aft superstructures. The Hungarian built Szent István replaces much of this fixed armament with a heavier turreted layout including moving the secondaries to turrets. The Szent class also has improved steering vanes and a for’d steering house under A turret along with bridge wings, improving on the limited view of the aft bridge on the Ferdinand class.

The Budapest is a lighter vessel, more of a battlecruiser size but without the speed. Armament is concentrated in two single turrets for’d along with a respectable secondary battery and upper deck mounted rocket tubes.

The Viribus Unitas dreadnought may be familiar to more venerable Aeronef gamers – long, long ago I wrote an article on our website about converting a Ferdinand Max model to the Viribus Unitas class by extending the hull and adding to the armament. This version of the Viribus is similarly an extended Ferdinand with an extra main turret.

Finally, the Habsburg class utilises the semi-rigid dirigible hull of the Kaiserin class fighter carrier, but replaces the flight deck with a substantial mixed main battery, and the flank anti-fighter turrets are replaced by eight secondary gun turrets. The result is a powerful vessel with very heavy hitting power but less armour than a conventional vessel.

The three existing models are already in fleet packs, and we’ve created an extra fleet pack with a Habsburg and Viribus Unitas in, along with escorts. There’s a new flag sheet too, the older yellow-black Austrian Empire one. And although the older models are technically being retired, they’ll still be available to anyone who already has some and wants compatible models – just go to the page for the new versions and scroll down, then you’ll see a link allowing you to buy the old version.

VAN-704 – Erzherzog Ferdinand Max – £7.00
VAN-706 – Budapest – £6.00
VAN-708 – Szent István – £7.00
VAN-714 – Habsburg – £9.00
VAN-715 – Viribus Unitas – £7.50

VANFP-704 – Austro-Hungarian Fleet Pack #3 – £22.00

VANF-703 – Austrian Empire Flags – £0.50

Spanish Fly

Today it’s the turn of our new Spanish Aeronef to hit the website. This is our first completely new fleet in quite a while, and the first to be digitally sculpted from the start. The original designs are based on a prototype that Phil made many, many years ago that we attempted to cast but didn’t survive the mould-making process. We resurrected the design and extended the fleet to a total of nine vessels from battleship down to a tiny patrol nef. The ships have a broadside layout with most of the firepower concentrated in turrets with little or no forward or aft arcs of fire. The two capital ships have resin hulls with metal superstructures and everything from destroyer up has separate turrets (tip – paint the turrets separately, it makes it so much easier to define the line between turret and deck).

Two fleet packs are available along with a torpedo flotilla. Most of the turrets are existing designs but the huge triple turrets on the España are new, and all are available in separate accessory packs.

VANFP-1701 – Spanish Fleet Pack #1 – £22.00
VANFP-1702 – Spanish Fleet Pack #2 – £22.00
VANFP-1711 – Spanish Torpedo Flotilla – £5.00
VAN-1701 – España class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-1702 – Aragon class Battlecruiser – £7.00
VAN-1703 – Pimienta class Heavy Cruiser – £4.50
VAN-1704 – La Coruña class Light Cruiser – £3.00
VAN-1705 – Pluton class Destroyer – £1.75
VAN-1706 – Maó class Frigate – £1.25
VAN-1707 – Numancia class Torpedo FF – £1.25
VAN-1708 – Atalaya class Patrol Nef – £0.50
VAN-1709 – Galerna class Torpedo Nef – £0.50
VAN-7015 – Triple Heavy Turrets (x10) – £1.50