I’ve always wanted to make some flying islands for Aeronef games, but never quite seem to be able to get around to it. But the other day I happened to watch Avatar again, and the sequence amongst the Hallelujah Mountains got me thinking again, and spurred me into action.
The basis of the islands was lava rock, sold for barbecues – I’d used it in the past to make perfect asteroids for spaceship games, so I had half a box left from that project. You can get in DiY stores or supermarkets in the UK, or if you live on Hawaii, just pop up the nearest volcano… I selected half-a-dozen pieces which had a flat side which could be used to site buildings on, and drilled a hole to fit a steel screw in the base in each. This screw would then fix the islands to magnetic stands.
The top was smoothed off with ready-mixed wall filler (Polyfilla, Tetrion or similar), which was painted green when dry. This made a flat(ish) base for the buildings.
The pre-painted buildings were attached with clear glue (Uhu, Bostick etc) and the remainder of the green areas flocked. The final touch was to use a hot glue gun to stick on some trees and bushes.
Although there were points during the process when I wondered how well they were going to turn out (but then I get that in every project), on the whole I’m pretty pleased with them. I didn’t make too many this time, I wanted to have six finished ones rather than twelve which I ran out of time on. So I’ll probably make some more later – ideally I’d like to find some larger pieces of lava rock for bigger layouts.
Today we’re unveiling a new Aeronef model, and our largest to date in this range. The Langley is an American carrier which supports up to 18 fighters in its capacious hangars. It’s well equipped with anti-fighter batteries for self-defence, although with nothing in the way of offensive armament.
The model has been computer designed and 3D printed, but styled to fit in with the existing models in the US fleet.
The Langley is available on its own, or in a pack complete with escorts, fighters and bases. The new anti-fighter turrets are also available in a pack of 12, along with a second circular AA turret – ideal for conversions or upgrades to your existing models.
VAN-215 – Langley Fighter Carrier – £9.00 VANFP-204 – US Carrier Pack – £22.00 VAN-7003 – Rectangular AA Turret (x12) – £1.50 VAN-7004 – Round AA Turret (x12) – £1.50
Amongst the games on show at Broadside last weekend was the debut of a new ruleset going by the name of Imperial Skies. They are being developed by our friend Robin Fitton, author of Gruntz, the popular 15mm set. Robin said that they seemed to go down well with players who joined in the game, and he’s making progress with a view to a release later this year.
I’ve nicked a few pictures from Robin of the game on Sunday (I’m sure he won’t mind) – you might recognise the scenery, as we lent him the terrain we made last year for the Stoke Rochford weekend.
Robin’s coming down to Maidstone next month for some playtesting, so we’ll probably have more pictures then – I’m planning to paint up some new ships and terrain in time for that.
Unfortunately for various reasons the last Stoke Rochford gaming weekend had to be cancelled, which meant that the planned Aeronef Jutland refight never happened. However, not to be daunted, the event has been rescheduled for October, with an expansion in scope.
It will run over the weekend of 16/17/18th of October, with bed and breakfast for two nights (Friday and Saturday) and dinner Saturday night for the bargain price of £110. Lunch is available from the bistro bar on both days. For the first time it’s also possible to book a day entry for £5 per day if you are local and don’t want to stay at the hall.
The main event will be the Aeronef Jutland refight, with VSF airships battling it out using historical orders of battle. If you would like to join in but don’t have your own models then they can be provided, or if you would like to contribute towards the forces on the table then let us know and we’ll try to fit you in.
However, with plenty of space and tables available in the conference centre, we’re also inviting gamers to come along and host their own games.
For more details or to book, email Robin Fitton – firstname.lastname@example.org – who is coordinating the event.
A visual Aeronef treat for a Sunday – Andy at Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming (great name for a club) has sent us a bunch of photos from their annual Aeronef game, “Clash Over The Desert”. Here are a couple of samples, there are far more on their website (click on either photo to go there).
I’ve just updated the Aeronef Profiles Page on the website with stats for all our our recent Aeronef releases, including the von Perseval and Brazilian models released last week. While I was there I made a few fixes and updates to the profile generator software – all of the stats cards are generated automagically by some code I wrote years ago that takes the profiles of each model and formats a GIF image, but this seems to have suffered from code rot and a few bugs had crept in.
All of the stats cards can be downloaded from the profiles table, and they’re also in an updated Zip file so you can pull them down at one go. They’re designed to be roughly the size of a business card so when printed out can be cut out and laminated or stored in a vinyl pocket (a bit like this – Rexel Nyrex Business Card Pocket A4 Pack of 10 13681).
Today sees the release of some more models in the ever popular Aeronef range. This is a game that has been around for over a decade and a half but still has very strong sales every year.
The largest model in this release is the Austro-Hungarian von Parseval dig battleship (for those not familiar with the terminology, a ‘dig’ is shorthand for dirigible – a hydrogen-filled airship). Giant airships are used to terrorise opposing populations as they fill the skies and rain bombs down on innocent civilians. The resin-cast gasbag is over 4″ long, making it almost as large as the German Schleswig-Holstein.
The other two models come from the other side of the Atlantic, with the addition of the Tamandare torpedo cruiser and Paraná class frigate to the Brazilian fleet.
VAN-712 – von Parseval class Dig Battleship – £6.00 VAN-807 – Tamandare class Torpedo Frigate – £2.00 VAN-808 – Paraná class Frigate – £0.75
If you haven’t yet been seduced by the delights of Aeronef, we have a number of starter packs available with different fleets as an inexpensive way to introduce yourself to the game.
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.
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.
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 !
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.