After wasting far too much time trying to fix the PC, a box of replacement parts arrived this week. I had a bit of a false start when I didn’t configure the RAID array correctly, but it’s all now up and running – Brigade has returned to normal operation. We’ve managed to catch up with orders (having previously been unable to print shipping labels) so everything that arrived up to yesterday (Thursday) evening has now shipped. It also means I can get on with some more 3D design work which has stalled over the past few weeks.
New on the website today are a few accessory items. We’ve made some of our 15mm heavy weapons available separately, the neat little Chinese command drones and also the Neo-Soviet heavy gun turrets from the spaceship range (they should have been available earlier – I forgot to do so when the ships were released). I’ve also added the Javelot Scout Car with radar that I put together as an example idea for the release of the radar dishes – it makes a useful little EW vehicle and it’s easy for us to add as a separate item.
Holiday time is sadly over and today it’s back to normal – although since I spent yesterday at a music festival, there may be a minor hangover to deal with first (I’m writing this post in advance so the exact quantity of local cider consumed is yet to be determined…).
First priority is the remainder of the orders that Phil was unable to finish, then some rather dull stuff like last quarter’s VAT return. So don’t expect too much exciting output from us in the first half of the week.
On previous holidays I’ve managed to come back with some inspiration for new models, which have ended up in the Small Scale Scenery range – last year it was St Mawes Castle in Falmouth, the previous year some C.19th French coastal forts. Last week we went to Mallorca, one of the Spanish Balearic islands in the Western Mediterranean. Renowned as a tourist destination, there’s a great deal of history that I wasn’t aware of. The coastline is littered with small watchtowers, used to keep watch for pirates, but the most remarkable fortification is Bellver Castle which overlooks the capital, Palma. Built in the C.14th by King James II of Majorca, it has a fairly unique circular design which withstood several seiges and ended up as a prison. It’s a really interesting structure which may well end in the range…
It’s holiday time at Brigade again, which means that there may be a little slower response time to orders than usual. We’ve caught up as much as possible, and all orders to the end of Thursday (15th) are complete and in the post. Orders will still be processed, but they could take longer for the next ten days or so and there may be a bit of backlog to catch up the following week. Turnaround on queries via email or through the Facebook page could also be affected, although we’ll do our best to get back in a reasonable time.
A couple of years ago we had our 25th anniversary, and we wrote about the origins of Brigade, back in the mists of the 1980s. A little while back I found this – it’s a casting of the original church that started everything off. I made this from a plasticard core covered in Das clay, which Phil then cast in polyester resin. It’s not all that much to look at now, but significant for us in terms of what it led to.
Now the back of the Brigade workshop is a largely uncharted area. It’s not very tidy and there are piles of boxes ‘n’ stuff, not all which is labelled. I was searching the other day for a load of slottabases which I’m sure is there somewhere but can’t find, and which is rapidly taking on mythical status. I came across this rather grubby item in a plastic bag, which turns out to be another piece of Brigade history. It’s the very first mould that we made for metal casting and is of two spaceships – the Condorcet and the Guangdong. You can just about make out their outlines in the right-hand half of the mould. When first released they were only available through the SFSFW and we branded them as the SemFed (the Semitic Federation of Space Faring Worlds) or Israelis in space. The two models then were called the Sharon and the Meir respectively. So if you ordered these from us back in those early days (1995-ish), this is the mould they came from, they were drop cast on the kitchen stove in my first house!
Normally Friday would be new release day here (although lately it’s been Mondays as well as we push out the Armies Army 15mm figures). Sadly, today we have nothing for you. It’s not that we don’t want to, or even that we don’t have anything – a quick count-up reveals that our new releases for the next four or five weeks are pretty much lined up and ready to go. It’s simply that we’ve been too busy ! As recently revealed, we have a new US stockist in Scale Creep Miniatures, and Mark sent us his initial stock order at the end of last week. This was to send the Brigade foundries into unprecedented overdrive, casting all manner of metal and resin items to ship off to the states.
But not immediately, as our friends John and John at Pico Armor had sent us a restock order ready for Historicon just a few hours earlier, so we weren’t even able to start on Mark’s order until Tuesday. And in amongst this of course, we have to deal with normal website orders that arrive every day.
As a result, Phil and I have done nothing this week apart from production casting, so the rather splendid new model that we had lined up to release today lies forlorn and unpainted on my workbench. We’ll just have to push the release schedule back a week, but hopefully we’ll be able to return to normal next Friday.
As a taster of things to come (although it’s not in the next few releases, it’s a bit further down the line), how about this ? It’s the Kirin Combat Walker, which will be part of our Mercenary Brigade force in 15mm (and hopefully 6mm as well down the line). This one was designed by Kirk Alderfer with input from Zac Braham, the pairing that designed the rest of the Mercenary vehicles. The arm mounts are designed to accept any of the weapons from the Sohei tank, while the shoulder points will take a number of items including missile pods, sensor pods, the standard Mercenary secondary gun and even a spotlight.
Readers of Miniature Wargames and Battlegames may have been disturbed to find a rather frivolous article on Page 59(ish) of this month’s issue. Look closely at the cover preview below and you’ll see why (hint, fourth line of the contents at the bottom…). You’ll be relieved to know that there are no photographs of the two of us ! Many thanks to John Treadaway for taking the time to come down and see us, and for writing the piece.
Denizens of the Facebook 15mm SF Group may have noticed a post yesterday by Keith of ArmiesArmy, explaining that he’s taken his infantry figures off the website because they have been moved to a new home. We’re very pleased to announce that their new home is right here, at Brigade Models. As Keith himself explained, the effort needed to run ArmiesArmy was becoming too great and impacting severely on his free time. He very kindly offered us first refusal and, well, we didn’t refuse ! Keith will keep his excellent range of vehicles and continue to expand those, and we wish him all the best with that. He came down to Brigade Towers yesterday and dropped off all of the moulds and masters, and we tried one or two to make sure they fitted our casting machine (which they do perfectly).
We were both already fans of Keith’s figures – I supported his initial Kickstarter campaign and already have a couple of forces that use them. So to have the opportunity to add them to our 15mm range was too good to pass up, and the timing was perfect as we were looking to add figures to our growing range of vehicles and scenery. It also helps that Keith uses the same sculptor (Martin Baker) as we do, so his figures match our new armoured infantry figures.
Keith also let us have a number of unreleased greens which we will be adding to the ranges in due course, and we have a number of ideas for further additions.
There will be a slight delay in getting the models onto our website. With Salute just around the corner we’re both flat out making moulds and producing stock, so what we don’t want to do is suddenly dump a large number of new products on the website and be inundated with orders when we have yet to work out which mould is which, what the contents of each pack are etc. Instead they’ll go up on our website a week or so after the show. We will try to take some stock to Salute, but starting from zero it would take a couple of days to completely stock up all of the packs and we just don’t have that time – so instead we’ll take a selection of the most popular packs.
We seem to have had a bit of a glitch overnight – this blog, the forums and the website front page, which are all PHP-driven, were throwing an ‘Internal Server Error’. The rest of the website was unaffected, but without the main page it probably looked like the whole thing was fried. However, everything seems to be back to normal, so carry on as you were…
I wanted to write this piece and publish it for the New Year, but that just didn’t happen … It’s part review of last year, part preview of the year to come with a bit of waffle in between.
2014 – the Year of Mass Production
Last year you will doubtless have noticed a quantum leap in our rate of new releases, and also hopefully a similar improvement in our turn-around time on orders. There’s a very good reason for this, which is that I’ve finally gone full-time, and I’m now attempting to make a living from Brigade. Phil is still in a ‘proper’ job but remains responsible for all of our metal mould-making, and the fact that I’ve taken some of his other workloads means that he can concentrate on this and turn out moulds at a much higher rate.
Last year we released 205 new codes – which is a figure that came as a surprise even to us, we didn’t realise it was quite so many ! More than half of these were in the 15mm SF range as we made huge strides in our plan to replace all of the older models with new, 3D printed masters at a consistent 1/100th scale. However, we also had significant releases in our Spaceships range, the Small Scale Scenery range continued to grow, we released our first 3D printed Aeronef model and, although there wasn’t much in the way of 6mm vehicles, we did add to the very popular buildings range with more desert buildings plus some more advanced structures.
Obviously we’re hoping to build strongly on this with another wave of new releases this year, and we thought we’d take a look at this a range at a time.
15mm Science Fiction
After 125 new codes in 2014, 15mm won’t be hogging quite so much of the limelight this year although we still expect to release a lot of new models. Of our 6mm armies, four currently have little or no availability in 15mm, but we plan to release core models for each of these over the year. The American Republic will be first, with the existing Curtiss and Kochte models being replaced plus additional vehicles. The Poles and Indonesians will make their 15mm debut and the old Chinese models will finally be phased out and replaced – the CDSU in particular will be getting a major makeover away from the current designs.
The existing armies will be steadily rounded out with additional models, and in fact you can expect to see the first of these later this week. We also plan to introduce a comprehensive range of infantry figures with a full range of command and support figures in addition to the front line grunts – Martin Baker sent us photos of the first prototype figure last week. More buildings and scenery items are in development as well.
The resculpting of the 15mm range has left us with a bit of a 6mm dilemma – should we do the same in 6mm and scale down all of these lovely new releases, replacing the existing models ? To do so would be a massive undertaking, replacing something in the order of 150 vehicles – possibly more. For the moment, what we will be doing is bringing out some of the new models that don’t exist in 6mm, such as the Gallieni tank destroyer, Raeside and Dundas utility vehicles and the whole of the Mercenary force. We are also looking at possibly replacing a selected few of the more popular models, such as the PacFed army, with new sculpts.
The building ranges will continue to expand with new releases in both the desert and advanced types, plus some completely new and different models.
This year’s main event in the spaceships range will see the overdue arrival of a Neo-Soviet fleet. These, like the British and Indonesians, will be 3D modelled and printed – we’d love to give you a preview but development is still at an early stage.
There will be other releases to round and expand out existing fleets. Additionally, we’ll be resculpting and replacing a few older models whose moulds have started to deteriorate – the first of these will be the Chinese Shanzi class fleet carrier, the original master for which is now around 20 years old !
Having released our first 3D sculpted Nef, the Charlemagne, we’ll be doing the same with selected older Nef models as we are with the spaceships and replacing them with new sculpts in new moulds. A new fleet may well hove into view too – rumours abound that Aeronef have been spotted over the Iberian peninsula.
We have plans to go off-world too, hopefully this year.
Small Scale Scenery
This range, initially intended only as a bit of an add-on the the Aeronef and Land Ironclads ranges, has been far more successful than we ever dared hope. This year we plan on adding more sets of buildings for new locations, starting with ACW buildings later this month. We also want to expand our coastal fortifications selection, with three different styles of ACW fort accompanying the houses.
The Great War Belgians will finally be getting some much-needed artillery, Phil has been on research trips to the Belgian Army Museum to make sure we get the details right. The cyclists will also be getting ‘on their bikes’ with mounted figures on two wheels.
The newly launched 10mm scenery range will be expanded, there are several other buildings waiting to be released in the next couple of months. We currently don’t expect to move into figures/vehicles in 10mm yet – although that might be one for the future, we have no plans to do so in 2015.
The ‘C’ word … Celtos. The new rules are rapidly approaching vapourware status, but believe us, we are still slowly ploughing forward with them. We are committed to getting the new rules into print and have invested heavily in new sculpts, many of which already have production moulds lined up ready to spin. But we want to have new rules ready for these figures rather then shoe-horning them into the existing set, so the figures won’t see the light of day until then. So the only news is … no news, at least for now. But some of the new figures are really cool so, trust us, the wait will be worthwhile…
After an extended Xmas and New Year break, we’re back to what passes for normal service here at Brigade Towers. The sale ended with a flood of orders with lots of people taking advantage of the discount, so at the moment our main focus is getting these filled and in the post. I did a long day in the workshop yesterday casting metal parts and will do the same tomorrow, while today was spent casting resin (frustratingly, I ran out of resin with four pieces to go, so they will have to wait for new supplies later in the week 🙁 ). Our plan is to have all of the orders filled and shipped by the end of this week, and we’re on track for that.
It does mean that our planned new release schedule will be put back slightly, we have moulds ready for a number of new items but at the moment we simply don’t have time to paint and photograph samples and get them on the website. But we can promise new items in 15mm, 2mm, spaceships and a new range in the first month of the year.
In the meantime, here’s a little teaser of a one of the new 2mm items, ACW aficionados ought to be able to identify it (there would have been more, but the impending lack of resin meant that I couldn’t get test castings out of a couple of other new moulds …).