When in Rome…

Although we’re still steadily adding our Salute collection to the website, we’re already looking forward to releases after that. The Small Scale Scenery range is still proving to be very popular, and our next releases will be somewhat older than the models we’ve created up to now.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working hard on some Roman buildings. I have the first draft of some town buildings including insulae (apartments) and domus (villas) as well as shops and other buildings. This will be expanded to a full set of around 20 models when complete.

Houses

I’ve also worked up some larger models – a temple and theatre, and a model of the Pantheon, the great temple in Rome built by Marcus Agrippa and reconstructed by Hadrian.

Temple

Theatre

Pantheon

The town buildings will be metal castings, the larger buildings resin. Expect to see them sometime in June.

Air Traffic Control

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Keen-eyed readers of John Treadaway’s column in the April issue of Miniature Wargames would have noticed a new model from us which has yet to be seen anywhere else – the 15mm Control Tower. This is a pretty huge new model (over 10″ tall – there are a few infantry by the door to give a sense of scale) which is part of the Colony Base set and is compatible with existing pieces in the range. Given the very limited time remaining before Salute on Saturday (and the fact that I ran out of resin earlier today …), we have only had time to cast a very small number of Control Towers for the show, so if you want one, get to us early !

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B15-319 – Control Tower – £40.00
B15-319a – Control Tower (single height) – £35.00

6mm Mercenaries

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I spent yesterday at the workshop stocking up on our new releases, including the 6mm Mercenaries. I’ve also painted a sample set (as you can see above) and we’re really pleased with the way these have come out.

We will have a number of packs available for the Mercenaries, so today we thought we’d detail the contents.

IC-1501 – Mercenary Army Pack – £35.00
Contains: 12 Sohei (9 with DS gun and 1 each with powergun, gatling and laser); 12 Shaman (9 standard and 3 Firefly); 8 Magnus APC; 4 Legion Rocket Launchers; 3 Wizard Jeep; 48 infantry
IC-1511 – Mercenary Light Tank Company – £8.75
Contains: 12 Shaman (9 standard and 3 Firefly);1 Wizard Jeep
IC-1512 – Mercenary Heavy Tank Company – £14.00
Contains: 12 Sohei (9 with DS gun and 1 each with powergun, gatling and laser); 1 Wizard Jeep
IC-1513 – Mercenary Infantry Company – £11.75
Contains: 8 Magnus APC; 1 Wizard Jeep; 48 infantry
IC-1511 – Mercenary Support Company – £8.75
Contains 4 Legion Rocket Launchers; 4 Warlock Support Tanks; 4 Ontos Tank Destroyers; 1 Wizard Jeep

Most of our Mercenary stock will be concentrated in packs on Saturday; we won’t have a great deal of individual models to sell. The new batch of moulds that we’ve used to produce these new releases are giving us a little bit of trouble – they seem to get hot very quickly and start flashing. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but when you’re trying to churn out lots and lots of models in a hurry it gets very frustrating.

Today is also your final, final chance to get in any pre-orders. I’m casting resin models today and tomorrow is the last day at the workshop casting metal – Friday will be spent packing the van and travelling up to the ExCel to start setting up the stand.

Desert Domes

Sneaking onto the Salute release list at the last minute are some new SF buildings. These are a new style, constructed of overlapping domes and cylinders – a move away from the Middle-eastern style of the existing desert models.

DesertDomes

Five models will be available on Saturday, exact stocks depend on how many more I can cast this week …

B300-401 – Large Domed Building – £2.50
B300-402 – Medium Cylindrical Building – £2.00
B300-403 – Small Cylindrical Building – £1.50
B300-404 – Small Multi-dome Dwelling – £1.00
B300-405 – Small Oval Dwelling – £1.00

Palmerston’s Follies

The postie came again yesterday, with what is the final batch of new masters for Salute. Such is our awesome efficiency (!) that these are already sitting in slowly curing rubber, ready for casting later this week. However, I swiftly photographed them before they were submerged in silicon for another Salute preview.

Palmerston’s Follies was the derogatory term applied, initially to forts around the Portsmouth area, but then to a swathe of forts built in the late C.19th. The term is taken from the First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Palmerston, during whose tenure the first installations were built (see here and here for more information). They were built in response to a supposed threat of French invasion which of course never came.

This new batch of models represents some of the defences around Portsmouth, in particular the four forts built in the Solent. Horse Sands and No Mans Land forts were the largest and nearly identical. Both were circular structures, around 200 feet in diameter. Initially the plans included five twin turrets on the roof but these were abandoned before construction began – but we’ve decided to make both the final version as built, and the proposed turreted design.

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Spithead was also circular although somewhat smaller, with only one gun deck.

Spithead

The last Solent fort was the rather oddly shaped St Helens fort. This was intended to be much larger but the sea bottom was found to be very unstable and unable to take the weight of the proposed design, so a much smaller fort was built instead with just three guns.

St Helens

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve also modelled Southsea Castle, which lies on the eastern Solent coast. The was originally built in 1544 as one of Henry VIII’s Device forts. It was heavily updated in 1814, with the whole north wall being moved 20-30 feet north which changed the layout completely. I’ve modelled both designs, as built (left) and after the reconstruction (right).

Southsea

I must thank Phillip Russell for his initial idea and help with plans and details of the Solent forts. All of the forts have been modified since construction, two are now luxury hotels and all sorts of extra buildings and towers have been added – it was quite a job working out what was original and what was added later, hopefully I have most of it right. St helens in particular was quite tricky to model as photographs of the upper surface are very hard to come by.

Another fine day …

In contrast to yesterday’s near gales, today was a bit calmer and warmer – so perfect weather for casting outdoors again. As well as casting for orders and Salute stock, I was able to try out some new moulds for both the 15mm Polish half-tracks and the Soviet spaceship carrier hull.

As always with new moulds, it takes two or three castings to work out all of the gremlins and find the bits that need particular attention to avoid air bubbles. The half-tracks in particular were troublesome, but the castings got progressively better as I went along and I ended the day with assembled versions of each of the three hull types. Most of the metal parts such as tracks, wheels, turrets and hatches are existing components so I was able to put some together – only the guns for the support version have yet to be moulded.

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The Soviet carrier looks pretty good – I only have one finished casting so far which has an air bubble or two, but it’s still pretty imposing. It has the same bridge and engines as the battleship, and is a ‘battle-carrier’ design with two heavy turrets at the front and the flight deck at the rear.

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I also photographed some castings of the new 15mm infantry while I was prepping them for production moulds. This is the first pack, eight pulse rifle-armed grunts.

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Finally, the new turret for the Shaman Firefly has arrived – here it is sitting on a hull, next to the existing version so you can see the differences.

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Soviets in Space

So, next on the Salute workbench is a new range of spaceships. The latest force to get a long-overdue spacefaring (and fighting) capability are the Soviets. The first batch consists of a battleship, two cruisers, two escorts and fighters. Like the British models, the larger ships will have separate heavy gun turrets. They’ve been designed around the idea of missile armament, so most ships have VLS hatches on the upper surface, with smaller turrets dotted around.

Battleship

Cruisers

Escorts

Fighters

What’s that you ask ? Where’s the carrier ? He’s a big beast, so will have a resin main hull which is sitting in a curing mould as I type, so isn’t available for photographs. Don’t worry, all will be revealed …

Tiny Mercenaries

Our 6mm range is pretty big – something like 250 product codes. That said, we haven’t added much to it other than buildings and scenery for a little while, concentrating on the 15mm range, and I think maybe some of the smaller scale gamers have been feeling a little left out while the bigger guys get all the fancy new kit. Fear not – 6mm is back with a bang !

We’ve taken the 15mm Mercenary range, expertly designed for us by Zac Braham and Kirk Alderfer, and transmogrified them into miniature versions of themselves (although the Sohei is still a brute in 6mm !).

They’ve been scaled to 1/3rd the size of the 15mm originals, and you can see the comparison in the photo of the Shaman. The only model we don’t have from the 15mm set is the Mantra, as I haven’t worked out how to do the top screen yet. I also have my doubts at how well the Warlock will cast, that may need a redesign as a 2-part turret, but we’ll see.

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One Month and Counting …

I like days like today – it’s a brisk spring day, not too cold, so I can do some resin casting outside (but not so warm that the resin sets too fast, which can be a problem in the summer). The cat’s basking in the sunshine on the deck and the bantams are ruining the lawn looking for worms while I create ever more stock in advance of Salute – which is now exactly one month away.

So to the point of today’s post, which is more Salute previews. This time we have some new 15mm vehicles, more scale-ups from the 6mm range. Our range of 80+ models encompasses grav, GEV, blowers, wheeled and tracked vehicles – and now half-tracks. We’ve created 15mm versions of our Polish Suwalski range of half-tracks, which have a very Eastern-European feel to them (mixed with a bit of Wehrmacht). Like their 6mm cousins, the Poles use a lot of German weapons and technology and the vehicles are mainly equipped with similar turrets to the Lynx APC.

This is the basic APC with a twin MG turret, roof hatches so the infantry can fire from cover and a rear exit door.

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Secondly, here’s a turreted version with an autocannon. The back of the hull is sloped and carries a spare wheel.

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Alternatively, this can also carry a missile turret

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The final version is the fire support model, which has a built up superstructure over the troop compartment and is armed with either a light infantry support howitzer or an long-barrelled anti-tank gun (note that the AT gun isn’t properly fitted into the model, I didn’t want to force it in too tight and damage the master !).

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For heavier firepower, the Poles use the Maczek medium tank. This is a German Thor hull with a new turret, fitted with the same 9.5cm DS gun as the British Apollo but with Polish sights.

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As if that wasn’t enough – here’s another gem. This is an up-gunned version of the popular Mercenary Shaman tank. I’ve given it the DS gun from the Sohei, extended the turret bustle by doing away with the stowage rack and added an extra sensor bubble where the remote gun mount was. It’s known as the Shaman Firefly … This is a photo of the first master on a painted hull, but unfortunately this is a duff print (the back of the turret has sunk a bit) so we’re waiting on a new copy before it can be moulded.

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PBI

Salute 2015 is now about five-and-a-half weeks away. Loads of time, aeons. That said, the show edition of Miniature Wargames has just dropped through the letterbox which reminds us that we’re getting ever closer. We’ve been planning our show releases since before Xmas, although as always we’ll be panicking up to the last minute I’m sure ! It’s time to start previewing them, which we’ll do over the coming 3-4 weeks.

The first batch of masters has arrived ready for moulding – and we have to admit to being quite excited by them. Although we have a few packs of figures in our 15mm range (some lovely PF aliens and bounty hunters, our Power Armour and some very useful tank crew) we don’t have any straightforward, ground-pounder infantry. So we’ve got together with Martin Baker and he’s sculpted us some really excellent figures, based around some 3D designed and printed weapons. These are straight out of the package that came in the post this morning, and will be off for moulding tomorrow so I haven’t had long to get them photographed. Click on the photos for larger versions if you’d like to see more.

As you can see we have a number of infantry poses, plus command, support weapons (SAW, grenade launcher and rocket launcher), snipers and heavy weapons crewmen. The gunners will be paired up with tripod mounted versions of our pintel weapons (unfortunately I didn’t have any to hand when I took the photos). They will be sold in packs of eight figures (or equivalent), although we haven’t finalised the exact contents just yet. Having these available will also allow us to create platoon packs of APCs with crew and infantry and we’ll also create complete army packs of tanks, APCs, infantry and support vehicles.