An Alternative View of History

UPDATE – This edition of the Stoke Rochford weekends has been CANCELLED – the next event will now be in October.

We’ve just had confirmation of the next Stoke Rochford Aeronef weekend, which will be held over the weekend of the 7th/8th of March. If you’re not aware of these events (of which this is – I think – the fourth), it’s a gathering of gamers at the picturesque Stoke Rochford hotel in Lincolnshire for a weekend of good food, drink and Nef gaming. The theme for this particular event is a refight of the Battle of Jutland, but this time in the air, and the main part of the refight will take place on Saturday.

SRH

We’re planning to take the historical OrBats and reproduce them with Aeronef models – all 44 battleships, 6 pre-dreadnoughts and 14 battlecruisers. We probably won’t attempt to represent the 200 or so cruisers and destroyers, but we have to call a halt somewhere! I’ll be generating scenario-specific stats for the occasion, based on the characteristics of the ships in the battle, which I’ll publish afterwards.

The event is open to anyone who’d like to join in, no Nef experience is required and models can be provided. The fleets are large enough to handle 12-15 players with each admiral having a division of 3-4 capital ships plus escorts. this time the cost is £110 for two nights’ bed and breakfast, plus a Saturday night formal dinner. For more details, contact event organiser Dave Frampton at Stoke Rochford, or you can contact us and we’ll put you in touch.

As always, we’ll be bringing along plenty of stock of Aeronef models along with a selection from other ranges. We won’t be bringing the full stand but you can of course get in touch if there’s something specific you’d like us to bring. Even if you aren’t able to stay for the whole event you can pop in to collect some bits, have a gander at the game, a natter and even join in.

Finally, here’s a selection of pics from previous events, just to whet your appetite.

Tiny Terrain Part#2

At the end of last year I wrote about the creation of the terrain boards for my Stoke Rochford terrain. It’s taken a while to write this follow-up piece, but here it finally is. Anyway, this time I’m going to deal with the buildings and final details of the boards.

My painting method for our small scale buildings is pretty straightforward, aimed at producing decent looking buildings without too much fuss. I start with a white undercoat from a spray can – I wouldn’t recommend a black undercoat for models this small, they end up very dark (I did try it briefly as I hoped it might make painting the windows quicker, but soon abandoned it). The models are then block painted, usually in just two colours, one for the walls and another for the roof. I use various shades of red-brown for brick buildings, mostly Tamiya and Citadel paints. Stone buildings are painted in pale colours such as Tamiya Buff and Deck Tan or Citadel Bone. Roofs are painted in darker shades of brown for tiles, or grey for slates. The brick walls and roofs are then drybrushed using light grey or terracotta shades. Following this they are given an overall wash using Citadel inks – usually Devlan Mud (or its more recent replacement, Agrax Earthshade), but I also use a Sepia shade to produce a different final colour. Once this has dried, I flick round a very light drybrush on more prominent parts of the model. I also sometimes use an orange drybrush (Citadel Ryza Rust) on tiled roofs. The most time-consuming element is painting in the windows in black. The trick is to use a fairly runny black (Tamiya paints are perfect for this) and just dot it in the smaller windows, then let capillary action do the rest and draw the paint into the corners of the window. The final part is to then go round and paint in a few details such as stone edging (the buildings from the Civic Buildings set need this) or larger doors on the factory buildings.

On one building I made an exception to the white undercoat rule – this was the Power Station, which has a lot of large windows. I sprayed this one black first and then painted the window frames round the undercoat, which was much quicker than painting the walls first and then lining in the windows. And since it was a grimy, soot-smudged building, it didn’t matter that it came out a bit darker.

When I came to painting the town, with its multiple blocks of terraced houses, I was beginning to run out of time so I had to some up with a quicker way of getting them finished. In particular I was concerned about the hundreds of windows that the buildings had. To speed things up, after the undercoat I gave them a coat of Army Painter Fur Brown from a spray can. They were then rapidly drybrushed with Citadel Squig Orange, and the roofs painted grey. After a few details here and there they were given a generous coat of my trusty Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade. This filled in the windows nicely – not quite as good as painting each window by hand, but a damn site quicker ! Unfortunately I mucked up the varnishing in my haste and it went white, otherwise the result would have been very effective.

I decided early on not to glue the buildings directly to the terrain. Instead, they were glued to plasticard bases which were shaped to fit around the road network. This made the layout more flexible for future use, and also meant that during play the buildings could be moved out of the way to allow for nef bases to sit there instead. I had also considered delineating gardens around the houses with hedges and fences made from coarse flock and thin plasticard strips respectively, but after trying a test piece this was abandoned as too time consuming. Instead, I settled for sticking the painted buildings to the bases, flocking and then adding random bushes and trees around them. Below you can see some of the plastic bases as I tried laying them out.

I also created a few special set-piece items for the terrain. One was a small island with a large church on the top, with a harbour and a few buildings at the foot of the hill. This is based on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, but using one of our Large Church models instead of a castle. The harbour walls were 3D printed as a single item, and the houses came from our Normandy set.

I made another 3D model of a lighthouse – Beachy Head, off the Sussex coast. This was then put on a base with some polystyrene rocks to create something akin to the Needles off the isle of Wight

The estuary was crossed by a number of road and rail bridges. These again were modelled and 3D printed by Shapeways

I stuck a few of our poplar tree models to wooden coffee stirrers, then painted and flocked – they looked pretty effective along the roads and railways lines.

I also painted up some of our sea forts, Martello Towers and FlaK Towers to help defend the coast.

So there you have it – quite a few hours’ work, but worth it in the end !

Tiny Terrain Part #1

A little while ago I attended the latest Stoke Rochford Aeronef event at one of the finest venues I’ve ever gamed in. The theme for the game was the invasion of England, with Her Majesty’s Aerial forces attempting to see off all manner of nefarious interlopers.

In a moment of madness (probably during the third bottle of wine after dinner at the previous event) I had volunteered to make some terrain to play the game over. Given that this was over six months before, in theory I had plenty of time and no pressure. But, as is always the case, things get left until the last minute so I spent much of the last couple of weeks beforehand feverishly working away to get this ready (our show schedule at the time didn’t help).

The idea was to produce a piece of coastline based on the Scarborough area in Yorkshire. I rapidly abandoned any thoughts of making a full sized version of the town since it would require a massive number of buildings and not be all that practical to play on, the Aeronef models on their bases wouldn’t have anywhere to stand up. I thus scaled it down to a more rural area of coast with some small villages and hamlets. There were a number of specific features that I wanted to incorporate such as a wide river with bridges, a coastal castle, railway line, pier and small harbour. The terrain was split into several boards for ease of transport. I started by drawing out a plan of the boards on some large sheets of paper (I used cheap lining paper from Homebase) with each of these features planned into the layout. One of the boards was deliberately left featureless with no roads or railway, since I wanted something I could use later for photography purposes.

The basic construction of the boards used 1″ insulation foam on a base of 3mm MDF – the latter stops the edges of the boards from being too fragile but, as I discovered, it has a tendency to warp and made the boards curl slightly (even though I tried putting weights on it while it dried). I kept the surface of the terrain flat apart from at the coast itself, this again was to make the terrain practical to play over – rolling countryside would look better but nothing could stand up on it. The MDF was cut with a jigsaw, the foam with a hot wire cutter and the two glued together with DIY adhesive. The coastline was carved and shaped with the hot wire cutter and a very sharp knife with some areas that gently sloped to the sea and other more vertical cliff faces. The edges of the MDF were thinned with a cylindrical sander in a Dremel where the beaches rolled down to the sea and coated with PVA and sand. The whole thing was then painted with household emulsion – I got lucky and picked up a 2.5l tin of grass green for £2 in an end of line sale at Homebase, but other colours were from tester pots, mostly from Wickes. The beaches were painted sand (obviously), the cliffs in grey drybrushed with off-white and the gentler slopes brown. Various quantities of sand and model railway ballast were used to texture some areas.

With the basecoat on, the railway was glued down. This had been primed in grey car primer first, and once the glue had dried I gave it a good coat of Army Painter quickshade. Once this had been matt varnished, I ran a silver paint pen along the rails. Although not perfect, this gave a reasonable effect which I was pretty happy with, given that hand-painting the sleepers on over fifty pieces of track was never really a sensible option.

The road layout was drawn on in marker pen first to make sure it worked. I then painted over the roads in grey emulsion on which was sprinkled fine railway ballast. A couple of minor tracks were painted sand with similar coloured ballast.

In one area I painted a few fields in brown and sand to indicate a more rural region. At this point I was finally ready to start flocking the boards, for which I used Woodland Scenics’ fine grass green flock for the main areas and sands and browns for the fields. This suddenly made the boards look more like a region of scale terrain, rather than a messy primary school DIY project.

This article has grown rather bigger than expected, so I’ll leave it there for now – next time I’ll deal with the final details of the terrain and the buildings.

Rise of the Jeune École

Today sees the release of our remastered French Charlemagne Aeronef models. The new models are larger but sleeker than the old one (which has been retired), with a distinct tumblehome to the hulls. There are three slightly different hull types and three superstructures which all fit each other allowing for nine variations. In keeping with French naval building practices of the time, no two ships are quite the same ! Variants are supplied randomly, if you purchase multiple models at one time we’ll make sure you get different versions. Each model comes with three turrets (although not all variations need three) which again are a random mix of single and double-barrelled ones. Altogether, with the different hulls, superstructures and armament layouts, we reckon there are 48 slightly different models that could be created.

CharlemagneRelease-2

CharlemagneRelease-3

Sneaking into the corner of the bottom photo is an Austro-Hungarian Novara class Heavy Destroyer, obviously on a diplomatic assignment. This model is also available today.

Lots more pictures of the Charlemagne in all her variations are on the website

VAN-401 – Charlemagne Battlecruiser – £8.00
VAN-711 – Novara Heavy Destroyer – £2.00
VAN-7044 – French Single Heavy Turrets (x10) – £1.50
VAN-7045 – French Double Heavy Turrets (x10) – £1.50

New for Crisis

Last post before I go off to Crisis (in fact I’ve already left, this is a timed post !). We have a number of new items at the show in several ranges, which I’ll quickly summarise below.

Phil sprang a surprise on me this week by turning up with some new Belgian figures for the Great War range. We have kneeling NCOs and buglers for all of the infantry types, including ones wearing a side cap (some infantry units wore side caps instead of Shakos early in the war). These are so new that there are no photos, you’ll just have to come and find us tomorrow.

GW28-1140 – Infantry NCO in Shako – £1.50
GW28-1141 – Infantry NCO in Side Cap – £1.50
GW28-1142 – Carabinier NCO – £1.50
GW28-1143 – Grenadier NCO – £1.50
GW28-1144 – Infantry Bugler in Shako – £1.50
GW28-1145 – Infantry Bugler in Side Cap – £1.50
GW28-1146 – Carabinier Bugler – £1.50
GW28-1147 – Grenadier Bugler – £1.50

In 15mm we have the South African Buffel light APC and Hippo truck which have moved into full production and should be on the website early next week. The Buffel is available with the option of a hatch and pintel weapon, light MG turret or missile turret. Support and AA versions should be following shortly. We also have a few pre-production Angelshark VTOLs (literally just a couple left) if you would like to get one before the full release.

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SF15-603 – Buffel Light APC – £8.00
SF15-608 – Hippo Heavy Truck – £8.50
SF15-704 – Angelshark VTOL – £8.00

You’ve already seen Bonn Station and the Atlantic Wall in 2mm, and these will all be available.

Bonn HBF

AW Release

SSS-8042 – Bonn Hauptbahnhof – £3.50
SSS-8043 – Atlantic Wall Set #1 – £6.00
SSS-8044 – Atlantic Wall Set #2 – £5.00
SSS-8045 – Grand Bunker – £0.50

Plus of course we have the new Aeronef released at the end of last week.

VAN-513

VAN-214 – Herring class Biplane Light Bomber (x6) – £1.25
VAN-417 – Ader class Monoplane Fighter (x6) – £1.25
VAN-513 – Oryol class Biplane Bomber (x3) – £1.00

See you tomorrow ! If you can’t make it, then any of these items that aren’t already on the website will be added in the next week or two.

Stoke Rochford Action

I’ve been out in the garden this morning doing some resin casting in preparation for Crisis. There are some hazards involved in resin casting, and I can reveal that one lucky purchaser of a Shaman hovertank will be getting a free insectoid crew member, which unluckily (or stupidly) flew into the mould just as the resin was being poured. So now it’s forever set in there, just like the insects preserved in amber in Jurassic Park ! Don’t worry, you’d never know, it’s buried deep …

It’s also a bit nippy outside, I’m not sure where the predicted unseasonally warm weather is, but it isn’t in Kent ! So I’ve popped inside for a warming cuppa and thought I’d share some photos from the Stoke Rochford Aeronef game at the weekend. My contribution this time consisted of some coastal scenery to defend/invade/bomb using our 2mm scenery range. This was a lot of fun to build and I enjoyed putting it together. I’ll be writing a full ‘how I made it’ post later, but for now I thought I’d share a few photos of the day, before and after the combat commenced.

The game featured many finely painted Aeronef models (I would hazard a guess at 300+) of many nations, British, Italian, German, French, Danish, Austro-Hungarian and probably many more.

Another weekend of fun is planned for early next year, probably in February – stay tuned for more news.

New Nef News

It’s been quite a long time since we released any new Aeronef models. The Charlemagne resculpt is due later this year, but in the meantime we have a few models that have been on the back burner for a while and have finally reached the front of the mould-making queue. These are all of the fixed wing variety, and we’ve pushed them out in time for the Stoke Rochford Aeronef weekend which starts today. I’ve taken the opportunity to photograph them on some of the terrain we’ll be using in the game over the weekend.

The US get the Herring class biplane Light Bomber, which I’ve painted up in the very colourful blue/yellow between-the-wars scheme used by the US (not quite Aeronef period, but it looks good 🙂 ).

VAN-214

For the French, we have the sleek Ader monoplane fighter.

VAN-417

And finally, the Russian Empire gets the Oryol heavy bomber, used in the strategic bombing of Northern England during the invasion of 1899.

VAN-513

VAN-214 – Herring class Biplane Light Bomber (x6) – £1.25
VAN-417 – Ader class Monoplane Fighter (x6) – £1.25
VAN-513 – Oryol class Biplane Bomber (x3) – £1.00

No-new Release Friday

I’m afraid that the current sequence of shows has thrown our carefully crafted release schedule into a bit of a tail spin, and once again this week’s planned new items aren’t quite ready.

However, a package arrived from the 3D printers this morning, which is always exciting, so instead of something you can buy this week, I thought I’d show off some of the items you can buy in a few weeks (much shorter in some cases). So, with the usual apologies about the difficulty of photographing translucent white plastic, here we go…

First up, a follow on from the post earlier this week on the new Charlemagne battlecruisers – here they are in all their blurry, washed-out glory. The sharp-eyed will spot that one of the hulls has already lost a gun barrel, which are a bit fragile, and I’ll have to replace it before they go in a mould.

Charlemagne Prints

Next we’re onto 15mm items. This is the hull for the Buffel APC previewed a week or two back, the first print was flawed (= I cocked up) so this is the replacement. It’s carrying a support weapon turret which will be available as an option and also fits the Wildebeest. Sorry, this really isn’t a great photo but trust me, it looks good in the plastic. The Buffel and Hippo will be available very soon, they would already be out had I not sent the wrong hull model to the printers first time round.

Buffel Print

This little piece is a 15mm heavy weapons tripod, designed to carry the range of pintle weapons we came out with recently – the sample is posed with a tribarrel gatling. And before anyone asks the obvious question – yes, they will come with crew (in fact Martin is sculpting them as I type).

Heavy Weapon Tripod Prints

Lastly, some new spaceships. The British fleet has been selling as fast as we can churn them out, and we thought it was about time for an addition to the fleet. This is the Swiftsure pursuit cruiser (left), next to a Halifax light cruiser hull.

Swiftsure Prints

Last, but by no means least, as with the older Aeronef models we’re going to be doing a slow rolling replacement of worn out spaceship moulds with remastered models. This is the CDSI Shanzi class fighter carrier (minus the lower hull, which is going to be a resin piece) – the deck is two part but the join should be neatly hidden under the new, extended bridge section.

Shanzi Print

Jeune École

Some of our models have been around for a while … well, we are 26 years old as a company. Some of the older moulds are wearing out, and need replacing, so as a slow but ongoing process we’re going to take some of our more venerable models and resculpt them before making new moulds. One of the first of these is the French Charlemagne battlecruiser in the Aeronef range. This has code number VAN-401 – in other words, it was the first French Aeronef ever produced.

I’ve redesigned it with a slight tumblehome hull but it’s still recognisable as the same ship. Through the wonders of digital technology I’ve created three variants of the hull and three different superstructures with varying armaments. In theory all of these should be interchangeable, so it will be possible to create nine slightly different models.

Charlemagne-2

Charlemagne-3

Charlemagne-1

We’re hoping for a release later this year.

SELWG Specials

We’re all geared up for SELWG on Sunday – the casting is all done and we’re well stocked.

We do have a few new items for the day, some of which aren’t on the website and won’t be for several weeks yet.

In 15mm we have some pre-release samples of the PacFed Angelshark VTOL and South African Hippo truck. We only have very small numbers, since they aren’t officially released yet we haven’t stocked up (it literally is just 3-4 of each, so get in early if you want to pick up one).

SF15-704 – Angelshark Light VTOL – £8.00
SF15-608 – Wildebeest Heavy Truck – £8.50
SF15-915 – Small Cargo Container – £1.75

DSC_0934

We also have some new Aeronef – these are much nearer to a full release but you’ll get first crack at them on Sunday

VAN-417 – French Ader Monoplane Fighter (x6) – £1.25
VAN-513 – Russian Oryol Biplane Bomber (x3) – £1.25

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We will also have some special offers running with savings on multiple buys, rulebooks and maybe other – details on the day.