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…
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…
So the Christmas sale is all over for another year; I pulled the plug at 7am on Monday, allowing a small flurry of last minute orders to sneak under the line earlier that morning.
Assuming all goes to plan, I should just about get all sale orders shipped by the end of this week, although I will be hard pushed to get to any others that arrive between now and Friday. Everything up to December 11th has already gone (apart from one which is waiting on a restock of etched brass parts) and there’s another pile of parcels which I’ll take to the post office later this morning. The one possible fly in the ointment is that I’m obviously burning through metal supplies much faster than usual, and although I ordered more last week, I don’t know when that will arrive – if it doesn’t get here by Thursday then I will run out, and production will simply have to stop until it does turn up.
Thoughts are already turning to the start of next year and the first 2018 releases. Unusually, we’re ahead of the game as far as new models go; we have everything planned from now until March, design work is all finished and we have most of the masters in hand. One of the early releases will be a batch of 15mm Slammers models, filling in a few gaps and increasing the options available to both Hammer’s regiment and other forces. Below you can see a couple of new variants of the standard M9 combat car; on the left is the M9A14 crew car used by the Lightning Division, which is essentially a modified command car with a pair of gatling turrets on the roof.
On the right is the M9A10 cargo car, an open backed flatbed GEV transport. Some units use a variant (the M9A16) fitted with a calliope turret mounting eight 2cm powerguns for air defence – we’ll release this at the same time, I just didn’t have a photo of one assembled. This photo was taken just before the masters went into a mould, so I might be able to sneak out a couple of castings by the end of the week.
The sale has gone off with a bang and a veritable Niagara of orders. I’m trying to keep up as best as I can, but at the moment I’m running a couple of days behind. All orders (with a couple of exceptions) to the end of Monday have been completed and I’m roughly halfway through Tuesday’s ones – although there’s been a slight hiccup with a minor broadband issue that prevented me doing today’s post in time, so they’ll have to go to the post office tomorrow instead. I generally tackle them in strict order of arrival, first-come-first-served, although if I get two orders for similar items then I’ll do those at the same time as it’s generally more efficient to do so.
Since we have no new releases during the sale, we like to post pictures of new items that you can look forward to in the New Year. A box of bits turned up from the printer at the end of last week and one of those was our first brand new item for the 15mm Hammer’s Slammers range. It’s an uparmoured version of the M2A4F command tank (designated the M2A4FUA). I’ve sat it on a standard blower hull for the photo since I didn’t have an uparmoured hull handy. The turret is a brand new 3D designed piece rather than a conversion of the existing command tank turret, and should be available sometime in January.
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.
As mentioned before Salute, I’ve been working on extending the number of buildings available in our upcoming Dockyard building set. Mostly based on Chatham dockyard with one or two extras, I have a few 3D previews of the additions here. The buildings (Smithery, Pump house and Galvanising Shed) are all Chatham ones:
While this is a dry dock with caisson (it’s modelled as a waterline piece, eg full of water) which is based on the dimensions of the Chatham ones but with some slightly differing detail:
Finally, my favourite; this is a Titan Crane, one of the giant cantilever cranes which can still be seen in places such as Glasgow and Clydebank. It will be released as a 3D print as making it in resin or metal would be tricky to say the least! It stands an impressive (for 2mm) 46mm tall:
There was an outside chance that we would have even more stuff for Salute to show you, but in the end it hasn’t happened. As I’ve mentioned to several people at shows over the last few months, I have been working on some dockyard buildings – mostly based on Chatham Naval Dockyard, not all that far from Brigade HQ here in Kent. I finished a batch about a month ago, sent them off for 3D printing and the idea was that we’d just about have time to throw them in a mould for Salute. However, when they came back it turned out that I had underestimated the size of one of them – not the dimensions of the building, that’s all correct, but the space it would need in the mould. It turns out that one in particular (the Chatham Mast House) is too big to be made in metal and will have to be a resin casting. This isn’t a problem in itself, it’s a straightforward model with no fiddly bits like chimneys so will cast nicely, but it means that the remaining models only really fill just over half a mould. So, we’ll either a) get a second set printed so we have two small sets in the mould, or b) design some more to fill it (we’ll probably go for b). Either way, it’s a post-Salute job. Hopefully I can use the lull after Salute to design some more and have them ready in time for our next show, Broadside in June.
We will have some of the slip cover buildings – like huge warehouses, they cover the slips where the ships are built. At 3-400 feet long, they were big enough to protect pre-dreadnought battleships from the elements. The moulds for these were made months ago and we have some stock, but you’ll have to ask for them as they probably won’t be on display.
But here are some of them anyway – particularly impressive is the massive Anchor Wharf warehouse, almost 700 feet long and the largest storehouses ever built for the navy. It’s so big it looks out of scale with the rest of the buildings, and could pass for a row of 6mm terraced houses.
When I mentioned yesterday that we’d reached the end of the new items for Salute, that wasn’t quite true (turns out that I’d got my order of publishing posts mixed up !)- although we really are almost done now.
Today’s offering is a set of upgraded models for our European Federation spaceship fleet. This will be only the first of several batches of EuroFed releases, the original fleet was quite large and too big to swap out all in one go. This initial offering consists of replacements for seven spaceship classes and two types of fighter with much improved models. The basic original design style (roughly delta shaped ships) remains, but the models have become less two-dimensional and filled out a bit.
The Milano and Umberto battleship and carrier are overhauled with new resin hulls and metal fittings, supported by two cruiser and five escort classes. Although we are only replacing a small part of the fleet initially, we will be withdrawing all of the existing models – replacements for the rest will be along later in the year. At Salute we will have the new models plus a new version of EuroFed Fleet Pack #2 (containing a Milano and Umberto, one Abruzzi, three Insidioso and nine each of the fighters). We will also have some of the old style fleet packs in case anyone wants to top up an existing fleet, but no individual older models.
You’ll have to excuse the odd flaw in the paint jobs on these – not only have they been a bit rushed, but I managed to launch the lot across the lawn while transferring them outside to be varnished. Cue much swearing, wailing, gnashing of teeth and emergency base repairs and paint touch-ups. Fortunately the camera seems to have had the ‘blur’ function switched on. so it’s not too noticeable…
This might (or might not) be the last of our Salute previews – you never know. Following on from the previews of the new British Squadron Commander models, we’re offering some opposition in the shape of two Neo-Soviet fighters. Like the Brits these are reworkings of the smaller models from the Spaceship range. The models are one-piece metal castings, again available singly or in flights of four models plus bases.
Our Squadron Commander range has been static for a while, but it’s had a revival in sales recently, partly we suspect because of ‘gamers using the models as air support for 6mm ground games (the models are the same scale).
So it’s time we added some new models, and today we have two British fighters. Both are scaled up from their tiny counterparts in the spaceship range, although a simple scale-up of the smaller versions just wouldn’t work – some details would be too big, wings would be too thick, they really just wouldn’t look right. So I’ve redesigned them from scratch so that everything works in 1/300th. I’ve also had a bit of fun painting some retro RAF colour schemes using markings from Dom’s Decals.
The models will be available individually or in flights of four.