It’s Good Friday today, which is a public holiday in the UK. This means I get a day off (woot !) but the shorter working week also means no new releases this time – and with Salute looming large on the horizon, we’re at the stage where we hoard all our new stuff for the show.
However, I came across an article yesterday on the BBC website about the national flag referendum in New Zealand, which led to a few clicks round the web and ended up with me discovering the state flag of Hawaii. I had no idea that the flag of one a US state contained, of all things, the Union Flag, especially since Hawaii has never been a UK territory. According to Wikipedia the origins of the flag aren’t clear, but I still thought it would be an interesting addition to our range of self-adhesive Aeronef flags.
While I was there I drew up a couple of others that might be useful, including the national and naval flags of Cuba (handy for the Span-Am war).
VAN-204 – Confederate National Flag – £0.50 VAN-205 – Hawaiian State Flag – £0.50 VAN-2801 – Cuban National Flag – £0.50 VAN-2802 – Cuban Naval Jack – £0.50 VAN-2901 – Romanian National Flag – £0.50
Having teased you all with CGI previews of the new Imperial Skies designs, we can show how much progress we’ve already made on the models themselves – quite a lot, in fact. When I wrote the posts on the Kaiser, Gauloise and Vanguard we had only just ordered the 3D prints. Now, just 10 days later, we have moulds for the resin hulls and master moulds for many of the metal parts. The only missing items on the models are many of the turrets – and that’s simply because there’s a finite limit to how fast Phil can produce moulds, and the moulds for those aren’t ready yet. We now have a pretty good idea of numbers required to fulfil the Kickstarter pledges and we’ll start producing stock immediately.
The final preview of our new ships for Imperial Skies is the British Vanguard battleship. We’ve given it some slightly different armament in the form of two very large barbette weapons, plus a number of more conventional secondary turrets on the broadside.
Progress has been good with these models – we already have the masters printed, cleaned up and ready for moulding (in fact the moulds for the resin hulls of the three larger vessels have already been made). Here’s a shot of all four side by side before moulding, which should give a good idea of the size of the German and French vessels.
After yesterday’s preview of the Kaiser, today it’s the turn of the French. This is the Gaulois, which started off as a battleship but has ended up growing to the size of a dreadnought. The main turrets and masts are the same as those from the Charlemagne battlecruiser, but the secondary turrets are new models.
We showed some preview screen grabs of the USS Lexington battlecruiser a few weeks ago, one of the four stretch goal models we agreed to produce as part of the Imperial Skies Kickstarter campaign. Today we’re showing another, the German Kaiser class Dreadnought. It follows similar design lines to the existing Blucher and Markgraf, just bigger !
The turrets are all new and will be made available as separate packs.
The Lexington is one of the new models we pledged to produce as a result of the Imperial Skies Kickstarter campaign. It’s a battlecruiser class, and we decided to do something a bit different, going for a cross between a Civil War ironclad and a stealth submarine ! It has four very large main guns in semi-circular armoured citadels, a broadside battery of secondaries either side and two aerial torpedoes.
These are screen grabs of the 3D model, it won’t be going off for printing until the other three models are ready.
As a bit of Monday morning eye-candy, here are some photos of an Aeronef game run at the Houston Beer and Pretzels club recently. The game, as the name suggests, was a Mediterranean encounter featuring some splendidly painted Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians and British. We’ve put a few photos below, but you can go the the HBP site for more (and other Aeronef galleries besides).
UPDATE – an AAR has been added to their blog which is a bit of fun 🙂
It’s been a busy few days, what with travelling over to Belgium for Crisis and then a week full of restocking orders for Pico Armor and Scale Creep.
It meant that last week’s new releases have been delayed until now (which in turn will push this week’s intended new items back – but they’ll all come out in the end !). What we have for you are a couple of Aeronef models from foes either side of the Adriatic. The Austro-Hungarians get the Kaiserin class Dig Aircraft Carrier, a giant airship with a flight deck on top and capacious hangars inside the gasbag. The deck boasts a couple of cranes, and these are also available separately in an accessory pack.
The Italians meanwhile get the Ricardo PR-46 seaplane, a bizarre 3×3-winged beast used for transport and (when desperate) bombing raids.
I had a little bit of a varnish disaster on a damp evening last week, so please excuse any odd frosty white spots on the models !
This coming weekend sees our last show of the year – Crisis in Antwerp, Belgium. This is a superb show, second only in size to Salute and we always enjoy our trip over.
I’ll have the full range of Celtos figures (including packs), 15mm SF (vehicles, figures, buildings and accessories), 2mm buildings, Great War Belgians and Magpie Miniatures.
I’ll also have good selection of Aeronef, 6mm SF and Squadron Commander packs available and Spaceship fleet packs plus individual stock of the British, Neo-Soviet, Indonesian and Merchant spaceship fleets and some selected individual Aeronef – unfortunately there isn’t room to bring individual stocks of the rest of the ranges.
There is still just about time to get in an order to collect at the show if you wanted to reserve anything specific – you have until I leave for the workshop Thursday morning (around 8am) to get the orders in. You can either send us an email with a list and pay on the day, or use the Collect in Person shipping option on the website if you would like to pay in advance.
This year I’ll be accompanied by Robin Fitton of Rotten Lead Publishing (author of the Gruntz 15mm SF rules). He’ll be next to the stand running games of Imperial Skies, his upcoming Victorian SF airship game using our Aeronef models which you can join in.
I should hopefully have some new Aeronef and 15mm releases this weekend – photos to follow if possible…
My contribution to the recent Jutland Aeronef refight was a division of German battleships – specifically the 5th Division of the 3rd Battle Squadron, consisting of the SMS Koenig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kronprinz and Markgraf. Since we had pretty much free reign over what models we used, as long as they looked the part (there were some heavily modified Russian Borodinos as part of the German fleet !) I chose to use some of our Prussian ships, the Konigsberg and Manteuffel, modifying and painting two of each. I also painted two von Dobschutz cruisers and four Wavre frigates, although in the end they didn’t make the table.
I’ve always been very impressed by the conversion work that Jon Rogers did on his US and Japanese fleets for his Pacific Aeronef game, with additional turrets, funnels, masts and rigging, and wanted to attempt something similar. To this end, I created a bunch of turrets, new funnels, masts, AA guns, searchlights and ventilators and ships boats as 3D models and had them printed by Shapeways. As is always the way, these then sat in a box for months until I finally got round to starting the build !
The first job was a quick cleanup of the casts, removing any flash – the Prussian models are pretty clean casts and this didn’t take long. The next job was to remove all of the funnels on the larger vessels, as these were to be replaced by new plastic ones. I then turned the models over and superglued a washer underneath – the models were to be ‘flown’ on magnetic flight stands so they needed the steel washer as an attachment.
Now it was time to start adding the detail parts. All of the main and secondary turrets were replaced by new plastic models of a different design to the metal ones usually supplied with the models. They are based on the design of the German Brandenburg class pre-dreadnoughts, essentially a hemisphere with a large bustle. I mixed single and twin turrets on the ships, and added some extras on empty areas of deck – the Manteuffels in particular got a third main turret instead of the normal two.
Funnels were also replaced – the new plastic ones were slightly larger, so the Konigsbergs received one while the Manteuffels got two. New pole masts with a fighting top were added, with thinner topmasts and crossbeams made from cut up paperclips (which I figured would be a lot more robust than having such thin pieces 3D printed). I added some ship’s boats to the Manteuffels – unfortunately there wasn’t room for any on the Konisbergs. I also liberally dotted searchlights and small AA guns around the superstructures, but in the end I didn’t use the ventilators. The last addition was some large vertical tail fins from plasticard, glued under the existing tails (there are some handy beams to attach these to).
Once built, all of the models were undercoated with white Halfords automotive primer. The hulls were painted with a Tamiya dark grey and the superstructure mid sea grey. The grey areas were drybrushed with Games Workshop Longbeard Grey, then the whole lot was washed in GW Nuln Oil, which looked good but unfortunately dulled the difference between the two greys – so next time I’d use a lighter grey for the superstructure. The decks were painted Tamiya Buff and washed in Gryphonne Sepia – the wash does a great job of picking out the deck planking and also hides a multitude of sins in terms of less-than-straight edges. A quick drybrush of GW Terminatus Stone accentuated the deck detail. After that I went round and did a bit of tidying up where deck paint had got onto the hull sides and superstructure.
The last bits of the paint were pretty straightforward – funnels were painted dark red and highlighted, with black tops (German battleships had their aft funnels painted red at Jutland), searchlights picked out with yellow faces, masts and boats painted in shades of brown and windows/portholes blue, with GW washes where appropriate. The tail fins of the battleships got a red stripe and Dom’s Decals used for the crosses.
At this point the models were painted and I was able to varnish them using Army Painter matt anti-shine varnish from a spray can. They were ready for the last stages of flags and rigging – but I decided to add some more detail. Jon had added rigged torpedo net-style spars to his ships and I decided I liked the look of that. I’d finished the build earlier than expected (I was surprised how quickly it went) so still had time to go back and add extra details. I drilled out equally spaced holes in the hull sides using a dremel and inserted lengths of paperclip wire. The ends of the were were filed flat to remove any sharp points – as you can see from the rather gruesome photo below, paperclip wire can be sharp when cut… The beams were then quickly painted and washed – I didn’t bother with undercoat or varnish but it all looks OK.
Rigging was done with cotton thread. I found the trick with this was to cut an overlong piece and attach it securely with superglue, and only then start wrapping it round the other beams and spars. The thread was wrapped round each beam and a tiny dot of superglue used to secure it (I used a very narrow applicator that came with some pound shop bottles). Once the glue had all dried I touched a drop of sepia wash around each knot on the rigging to dull down any shiny or fogged glue.
And that was it – I think they looked the business on table, and in fact three of them were some of the few surviving German ships at the end of the game – they fought well and took down several enemy vessels including HMS Barham, one of the largest British ships of the time.
The detailing kit I used is now available on Shapeways – it’s not too expensive (£30 or so) and there are enough parts for half-a-dozen large ships or more smaller ones.