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…

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

Getting Inked

When we recently released the new counter sets for Imperial Skies, I mentioned that I’d post about a simple method for colouring in the etched markings on those and the turn rulers. This technique was passed on to me by James at Beadspoke Designs, who do the acrylic cutting for us – I take no credit for it.

What I’ll do is take you through the marking of a turn ruler step-by-step. You’ll need the following items: your turn ruler, a POSCA acrylic paint pen (or similar) and (wait for it) a wooden clothes peg. POSCA pens can be bought in the UK in hobbycraft and other art shops, although mine came from eBay (I bought several sizes as I wasn’t sure what I would need). They aren’t expensive – I bought four for a tenner or so. You can choose your colour – I went for white on an orange set of rulers, but yellow would work just as well. Make sure you have a work surface that doesn’t matter if you get some paint on it – the pens can spatter splightly.

Peel off the backing sheet from the turn ruler (if it’s still on there) and then make sure it has no traces of finger grease or other contaminants. I gave it a quick clean with a kitchen wet-wipe, then dried it on kitchen roll.

Once it’s dry, give the pen a thorough shake, then test it on some scrap paper or card to make sure the paint is flowing. Then carefully ink in the ruler ID letter, the numbers and the lines that mark each point of movement. The lines may take a bit more effort to fill in as they’re etched a bit deeper. You should find that the paint adheres well to the rougher surface of the etched areas. You don’t need to be super-neat, but ensure that the etched areas are fully covered in paint, even if you go over the edges a bit – we’ll tidy this up later.

Now leave this for a few minutes until the paint is touch dry. In the meantime, dismantle your clothes peg – a quick twist will separate the two halves, and the spring can go in the recycling.

Once the paint is dry, we get on to the clever bit. Using the end of one half of the clothes peg, carefully rub away any paint that has gone over the edges of the etched areas. The soft wood won’t mark the shiny surface of the plastic but will remove any overspill, and the paint should stay in the recessed areas. If you get this right, you should be left with a neat set of etched markings on your turn ruler. If it isn’t quite perfect, just repaint and repeat.

It’s not a long process – I did a full set of five turn rulers in an hour, which included taking the photos and writing this up !

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.

A Belated Happy New Year!

Only four days late…

I returned to the workshop on Tuesday to tackle the medium-sized pile of orders that had built up over the Christmas holiday week. Fortunately it wasn’t too bad this year, following my last minute blitz to clear out the sale orders before I finished work (late) on the 22nd of December.

Although it’s a short 4-day week, we’re returning to normal with a new release planned for tomorrow. The moulds are all ready to go, but I need to get a move on to paint some sample models ready for photography – if this takes longer then the release might be delayed until the start of next week.

In the meantime, here’s a useful pair of somethings for the Imperial Skies players out there. One of the items in the kickstarter was a set of very useful laser cut counters, some for marking altitude and others for keeping track of command points. These sold out completely and there were no spare sets at all (I don’t even have a set of my own!).

We’ve recently had some new counters made so that anyone who missed out on the first offering can have their own sets. The originals were made from a special laminated two-colour plastic which was rather expensive so we haven’t used it again, instead these new versions are made from normal opaque acrylic, albeit in the same colours.

Set one consists of twenty altitude markers, ten HIGH and ten LOW, in red and black. The second set has twenty circular command point counters in blue. The counters are surface etched – this etching can quite easily be coloured using acrylic paint pens if you wish, and I’ll be writing an article on how to do this quite soon.

ISK-012 – Altitude Markers (x20) – £4.50
ISK-013 – Command Counters (x20) – £4.50

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!

Imperial Skies Gameplay Video

Robin, author of Imperial Skies, has put together a gameplay video going into the rules at some length. Well worth watching if you’re either after some more information on the rules, or need some hints and tips about the way the rules work.

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.

Imperial Article

This month’s issue of Miniature Wargames magazine has a five page Imperial Skies article in the Darker Horizons sci-fi section – it’s also the cover photo of said section. The article is centered around a fleet engagement between Spain and the USA over Cuba which we fought out at a Maidstone Wargames Society meeting earlier this year. As an added bonus, the stats cards for the Spanish fleet are available from the download section of the MW website. So what are you waiting for? Get out and buy a copy!