Spanish Skies

The sale is sailing serenely on – this morning I took another big batch of parcels to the post office, we’ve now shipped all orders up to and including December 8th (apart from the last one to arrive that day – no particular reason, I just ran out of time yesterday !). However, there was a big burst of orders on Sunday, prompted no doubt by the fast-approaching end of the sale next weekend, so that will slow me down a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve spent the odd hour or two working on further new releases – more Aeronef, following on from last week’s British smaller vessels. This time I have a pair of larger vessels – the first is a new version of the Chilean battleship Santiago. The old model (out of production for some time) was notable for it’s two huge quad gun turrets, so I’ve kept that aspect of the design, although it’s also been given two smaller light gun turrets.

The second new vessel is a Spanish fighter carrier. One of the aspects of the Spanish capital ships that I really like is the raised front-to-back walkway on both vessels, so I’ve taken this and enlarged it to make a narrow flight deck. Below this at main deck level is an aircraft handling area with an anti-aircraft turret at each corner. The fighter models on deck are British Fitton Scouts which I used for sizing purposes. It remains to be seen if the Spanish get their own aircraft design…

Aeronef Previews

First off, the latest sale update … we’ve shipped all but three orders from November, so I’m currently about four days behind – which isn’t too bad, it means I’m at least keeping up and not slipping any further. I’m hoping that we can repeat last year’s achievement of clearing everything before the Christmas holiday starts.

In between stints at the workshop I’ve been doing a little bit of design work. One of our goals for next year is to start replacing all of the cruisers and escorts for the major powers now that we’ve finished the capital ships (well nearly – the USA will get their new models first thing in January). We’ll start with the British, with the aim of having those ready for release at Salute in April. There are seven models to be replaced, and we’re also hoping to squeeze in a couple of new designs as well.

As you can see, I’ve based these new ones on the existing designs but with the addition of separate turrets on the larger vessels (which then gives us the option of offering an AA version of the Arethusa by swapping out the gun turrets for AA ones). And they’ll generally just be slightly better overall with more details and little touches like windows that are inset rather than proud of the surface.

Exeter heavy cruiser

Arethusa destroyer

Frigates (l-r) Steadfast, Cossack, Osprey, Cygnet

Orion Light Cruiser

Sons of Fūjin

Today sees the official website release of our new, remastered Japanese Aeronef capital ships. We’ve previewed these extensively and had them for sale at Tabletop Gaming Live last weekend, so you’ve seen them before. There are four new models – replacements for the Yashima and Yamashiro battleships, and a new version of the Ryujo class carrier. There’s also a brand new ship, the Shinano class dreadnought.

All follow the new configuration of resin hull with lots of metal detail fittings, including separate turrets – the Japanese use the same types as our British battleships.

We’ve reconfigured the existing fleet packs, added a new one containing two Shinanos plus escorts, and introduced a Japanese Grand Fleet Pack for the first time.

VAN-602 – Yashima class Battleship – £7.50
VAN-603 – Ryujo class Carrier – £9.00
VAN-615 – Yamashiro class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-617 – Shinano class Dreadnought – £8.00

VANFP-026 – Japanese Grand Fleet Pack – £48.00
VANFP-601 – Japanese Fleet Pack #1 – £22.00
VANFP-602 – Japanese Carrier Pack – £22.00
VANFP-604 – Japanese Fleet Pack #2 – £22.00
VANFP-605 – Japanese Fleet Pack #3 – £22.00

That leaves us on target to complete the overhaul of all of the major powers’ capital ships by the end of the year. We’re only left with the USA to update, and the new masters arrived for those a couple of weeks’ ago (in fact Phil is already making the moulds for the metal parts).

Painted Japanese

One last post before the weekend – I’ve finished painting the new Japanese Aeronef and these are ready to go at Tabletop Gaming Live.

There are four new models – from left to right these are the new Shinano class dreadnought, and new versions of the Yamashiro and Yashima battleships, and the Ryujo fleet carrier. We have stocks of all of these models and fleet packs (the only thing I didn’t manage was to create a new fleet pack with the Shinano in – that will have to wait until they hit the website next week).

VAN-602 – Yashima class Battleship – £7.50
VAN-603 – Ryujo class Carrier – £9.00
VAN-615 – Yamashiro class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-617 – Shinano class Dreadnought – £8.00

Big in Japan

As mentioned, we’re looking to have some new releases at Tabletop Gaming Live, and these are the first of them. The Japanese Aeronef fleet is the penultimate one of the major powers to get an overhaul (the US are coming by the end of the year), with replacements for the Yamashiro and Yashima battleships and the Ryujo carrier. And as we have with the other fleets, I couldn’t resist adding an extra model, so we also have the Shinano dreadnought. The photo below is of my semi-painted prototypes, I’ll arrange for someone proper photos next week.

Long-range Patrol

As previewed a couple of days ago, today we’re launching a pair of new British Aeronef dirigibles. The first, and smaller vessel, is the LRS class (Long Range Scout) which, as the name suggests, is a patrol vessel with minimal armament but capable of long duration missions to scout out enemy fleets.

The large, twin-envelope craft is the Mantis class Dig Bomber. These vessels carry significant loads of gravity bombs for dropping on ground targets or, if the bomb-aimer is very good (or very lucky) even on enemy vessels below.

Both craft have non-rigid main envelopes using the distinctive tri-lobe design employed by British WW1 airships, with multiple independent ballonets inside each lobe to provide some measure of redundancy and damage-proofing.

Both craft can operate with the Ark Royal class Dig Tender. A group typically consisting of an Ark Royal, several conventional escort vessels and 6-8 digs would be deployed as an independent long scout unit. The digs would be sent off on patrol missions of several weeks’ duration, returning to the tender for refueling, rearmament and replenishment of their gasbags. The tender can handle either two LRS class or one Mantis class on deck, with room in the large hangar for two LRS.

VANFP-107 – British Patrol Fleet – £22.00
VAN-126 – LRS-class Patrol Dig – £1.00
VAN-127 – Mantis Dig Bomber – £2.00

Back to Normal

Two weeks after coming back from my holiday, I’ve finally managed to get back on track with orders – everything that arrived before midday on Monday has been completed, packed and posted, and for the first time in several weeks I was able to go home with no outstanding orders left over. So that’s a little ‘yay’ for me at last 🙂

As a consequence I’ve had a couple of days catching up with new releases, getting painted versions ready for the website and preparing master castings for production moulds. Apropos of nothing else, I thought you might like a quick glance of what’s sitting on the painting table today…

These are some rather nifty 15mm GEVs that were part of the former Ainsty range. We’ve spent a little while getting these into shape – the original models used a common resin-cast hull with separate
superstructures for the different versions. We’ve had the superstructures reprinted and made new moulds of each hull version as single piece castings – the only separate pieces now are the turrets and gun barrels. The production moulds are now ready, so I’m just painting up a set ready to photograph and they should be on the website in 2-3 weeks.

These Aeronef dirigibles are new British models – the original plan was that they should have been released at the same time as our Ark Royal Dig Tender (you may have seen the smaller one lurking in photos back in April), but we had a slight hitch and in the usual pre-Salute pandemonium there simply wasn’t time to fix it. Anyway, they’re ready now and will be this Friday’s new release.

And spreading the love to the vaccheads as well, how about some new spaceships ? These splendid craft were designed by James at Beadspoke Designs (pay them a visit – they make all sorts of useful laser-cut acrylic markers and templates) and we thought they were great. They are going to be introduced to our range as replacements for the old Yenpalo fleet models which are looking a little dated.

You might see other stuff in the background – I’m also in the midst of painting some fresh detachments for Hammer’s Slammers, using many of our recently released new vehicles, and there’s even a new pack or two of 15mm figures coming from the ArmiesArmy archive.

Holiday Time Again

I returned home from Sheffield where I’d been attending the Joy of Six last night, and after a brief night’s sleep, the Brigadieress and I were up and off to Dover to catch a ferry to France. By the time this is published we’ll probably be mid-channel, on our way to deepest Normandy for a week’s R&R. Although in theory the cottage has wi-fi and I will be able to read messages/emails, don’t expect any speedy turnaround on queries this week.

Obviously that means any orders will be delayed until I return – I am up-to-date to last Thursday, but anything that’s arrived since will not be dealt with until I get back to work on Tuesday 24th at the earliest (and the likelihood is that there will be a backlog that will probably take the week to clear) – so apologies if you were one of the minor deluge of orders that arrived over the weekend, but I’m afraid it’ll be next week before I can get to those.

As a bit of fun, I’ve left you with something new and appropriate – here’s a version of the flag of Normandy (this is the Nordic Cross variant apparently known as Flag of St Olaf) – now available from the website.

VANF-402 – Normandy Nordic Cross – £0.50

Avanti Italia!

We seem to be on a roll with our Aeronef updates as we gradually redesign the range. In between the major fleets, we’ve also found time to update some of the other fleets, and this week the Italians get an upgrade with new versions of their two battleships. The Re d’Italia and Guilo Cesare are smaller vessels, not up to the size of some of huge battlewagons of the major powers, but perfectly adequate to face off against the Austro-Hungarians in their seemingly permanent squabble over the Adriatic Sea.

As with all of our updates, the models now get separate turrets of a new design, which are also available as accessory packs. The hulls are resin, with metal funnels, tails, turrets and masts.

I wanted to do something different with the Italian colour scheme, so I took a cue from my friend Silvio, who owns the largest Italian Aeronef fleet in existence. I went for conventional black hulls, but painted the superstructures and turrets in Azzurri blue (the paint I used is Citadel Caledor Sky). They were painted in my usual base/wash/highlight style and finished with tail markings from Dom’s Decals.

The Italian fleet pack has also been updated, and now contains a Re d’Italia, two Cesares and escorts

VANFP-1801 – Italian Fleet Pack – £22.00
VAN-1801 – Giulo Cesare class Light Battleship – £6.00
VAN-1802 – Re d’Italia class Battleship – £7.00
VAN-7181 – Italian Twin Turrets (x10) – £1.50
VAN-7182 – Italian Triple Turrets (x10) – £1.50

Die Luftschiffflotte

The German Aeronef Fleet is the latest one to be updated, with the existing battleship and battlecruiser models replaced with new designs. In addition, there are two new models, the Derfflinger class Battlecruiser and Weser class Carrier.

All of the new models are digital sculpts featuring resin hulls with metal fittings. Turrets are now separate parts along with metal tails, masts and other parts.

The existing fleet packs have been updated with the new models (VANFP-301, 302 and 304, which now contains one Moltke and one Derfflinger) as has the Grand Fleet Pack, and there’s a new carrier pack.

VAN-301 – Blücher class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-307 – Markgraf class Battleship – £8.00
VAN-312 – Moltke class Battlecruiser – £7.00
VAN-323 – Derfflinger class Battlecruiser – £7.00
VAN-324 – Weser class Carrier – £9.00

VANFP-023 – German Grand Fleet Pack – £48.00
VANFP-301 – German Fleet Pack #1 – £22.00
VANFP-302 – German Fleet Pack #2 – £22.00
VANFP-304 – German Fleet Pack #3 – £22.00
VANFP-306 – German Carrier Pack – £22.00

This now just leaves us the two Pacific powers, USA and Japan, to be updated, which will be completed by the end of the year.