A Well-earned Break

After Phil and I had busted a gut getting ready for Salute, I thought I’d take it easy and have a Brigade-free weekend; no casting, packing, painting, modelling, accounts, website, e-mails or anything else. Instead I’ve spent four days with the Brigadieress doing nothing at all related to toy soldiers. Well, not entirely – I did pick up a good book on the Naval Airship Station at Kingsnorth, Kent and watched a couple of documentaries on WW1 – one on the British attempts to counter the Zeppelins* and another on tunnel warfare under the Somme.

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But it’s back to normal again, and this week the focus is firmly on getting the rest of the Salute releases onto the website. At least it will be after we’ve got through the pile of orders that have appeared in the Brigade inbox over the long weekend – it seems that the items we put on the website last week were pretty popular!

The target is to get all of the new items up by the end of this week – however this will require some fairly concentrated painting on my part, so some of it may spill into next week. We still have some pretty major items to go like the 15mm Neo-Soviets, the colony base, 2mm, 15mm and 6mm buildings and more.

And then it’s on to more new releases. There are still an awful lot of models in the Brigade backlog, something round the hundred mark, and we’re always full of ideas for other new bits. We plan to come up with a weekly release schedule – and, more importantly, stick to it. The schedule will almost certainly not be published (we retain the right to change our minds!) but the important thing is that there should be a steady flow of releases from the Brigade foundries over the next few months.

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Apologies to anyone who’s e-mailed us lately and is waiting for a response – my first task today before heading off to Brigade Towers is to empty the inbox.

*UPDATE – just found out that the National Geographic programme London’s Zeppelin Attacks is to be repeated in the UK at 4am on Sunday 27th of April, so set your Tivo/Sky+/PVR/VCR/Betamax accordingly !

The Last Post

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This is our final update of our Salute release list – some new moulds have become available in the nick of time which has allowed us to release some stuff that, to be frank, we were sweating on a bit …

All of these models will be available and we have reasonable stocks, but it’s too late to take any more orders in advance – if you want some you’ll have to find us on the day. We’re on stand TB26 – about as far as you can get from the main doors, but hopefully some brave souls will take enough supplies to make it all the way to the far end of the hall !

Firstly THE 15MM NEO-SOVIETS WILL BE READY 🙂 🙂 :-). I ran the last moulds yesterday and we have decent stocks of Bizons, Kunitsas and Laskas. The only remaining one to be completed is the Rosomakha light tank, which will hopefully also be ready in time (hence the italics below).

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15mm Neo-Soviet Vehicles
SF15-1201 – Bizon Tank – £8.50
SF15-1201a – Bizon Support Tank – £8.50
SF15-1201b – Bizon Track-guards (pair) – £1.00
SF15-1203 – Kunitsa APC – £8.50
SF15-1203a – Kunitsa Mortar Carrier – £8.50
SF15-1203b – Kunitsa with Missile turret – £8.50
SF15-1209 – Laska Tankette – £4.00
SF15-1209a – Laska with Missile turret – £4.00
SF15-1209 – Laska Observer vehicle – £4.00
SF15-1204 – Rosomakha Light Tank – £6.00
SF15-1250 – Soviet auxiliary fuel tanks and stowage boxes – £1.25

Secondly, following the last minute arrival of the mould for the metal connector frames, the 15mm Colony Base will also be available. We won’t have huge numbers, but we’ll have a few.

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15mm Colony Base
All individual modules come with one connector frame (2 for the 4-way junction)
B15-300 – Colony base (four corner units, one airlock, one base module, 6 frames) – £40.00
B15-301 – Base module – £7.00
B15-302 – Corner module 1 – £7.50
B15-303 – Corner module 2 – £7.50
B15-301 – Base module – £7.00
B15-304 – Airlock module – £7.00
B15-305 – Garage module – £7.50
B15-307 – T-Junction – £7.00
B15-308 – 4-way junction – £8.00
B15-320 – Spare connector frames (x4) – £3.00
B15-321 – End frames (one door, one blank) – £3.00

And finally, we’re also hoping to have the long-awaited British spaceship fighter carrier. We definitely have the fighters, but are also hoping for the carrier too.

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British Spaceships
SFS-110 – Bulwark carrier – £7.50
SFS-160 – Kestrel interceptor (x12) – £1.50
SFS-161 – Mosquito attack fighter (x12) – £1.50

This may of may not be our last post before Saturday – as is the way with things, however much you try to plan ahead there’s always a last-minute panic, and I’m in the midst of that panic right now …

I’m currently painting up display items for the stand – if there’s anything to show off I’ll probably chuck it on the Facebook page, so keep an eye out over there.

No, really, this is your final, final chance …

salute2014logoAfter doing a few other jobs, I leave tomorrow morning for the workshop at around 10am. In my hands I would like to be clutching any last minute pre-orders for Salute. If you’ve already placed your order, then it’s already waiting in the workshop – we’re ahead of schedule for once on that. But you still have, well, roughly 12 hours from the time of this post to get an e-mail to me or make an order through the website (select the Collect in Person option to avoid shipping charges).

Below is the latest list. It’s not quite as we expected it to be – that’s a long story involving the delivery of a batch of the wrong moulds by our mould supplier, which has played havoc with our planning – but it’s a very strong line-up of new products to be released on a single day.

We’re still confident that this list will get longer – the astute amongst you will have noticed that the 15mm Neo-Soviet vehicles are not on this list. We’re still confident of getting them released in time, and we already have a big pile of resin castings for the tank and APC hulls, but we’re still awaiting one or two last moulds that should appear this week before being absolutely certain (I wouldn’t want to put them up here and have to pull them at the last minute). And British starship captains may also find that there’s something for them too, if you visit us on the day …

15mm Rules
Gruntz – £20.00
PMC-2640 – £20.00
Don’t forget that if you buy any set of 15mm rules, we’ll give you 10% off any vehicles or figures that you buy at the same time.

15mm Vehicles
SF15-103 – Artemis MICV – £8.00
SF15-712 – Raeside Utility Grav – £4.00
SF15-712a – Raeside with stowage rack – £4.00
SF15-712b – Raeside Pickup – £4.00
SF15-712c – Raeside with MG Turret – £4.00
SF15-712d – Raeside with missile turret – £4.00

15mm SF Advanced Accessories
SF15-906 – Vehicle Stowage – £2.50

15mm SF Advanced Buildings
B300-204 – Small workshop – £6.00
B300-205 – Large workshop – £7.00
B300-206 – Garage – £12.50

15mm SF Bunkers
B15-1003 – Checkpoint Bunkers – £5.00
B15-1004 – Command Bunker – £8.00

6mm Advanced Buildings
B300-201 – Small dwelling – £1.00
B300-202 – Medium dwelling – £1.25
B300-203 – Large dwelling – £1.25
B300-204 – Small workshop – £1.00
B300-205 – Large workshop – £1.00
B300-206 – Garage – £1.50
B300-207 – Large Building – £1.75
B300-208 – Small apartments – £2.00
B300-209 – Large apartment block – £3.00
BP300-201 – Advanced Buildings pack (one of each) – £12.50

6mm Desert Buildings
B300-107 – Large Tower – £4.00

2mm Buildings
SSS-032 – T2 Hangar – £2.00

We’ve been previewing a number of these models recently, but we’re well aware that we still haven’t previewed everything – we do like to keep the odd surprise up our sleeves 🙂

Another fine display

If you remember, last year we went through a process of migrating all of our Celtos miniatures into new display cases (a process that took the best part of a week of evenings and occupied the dining room table for that period).

This year we’re doing the same thing to most of the other ranges. Our old but faithful home-made wooden display cases have been part of the stand since we began, but they’re due for a well-earned retirement.

SELWG 2012 stand

The last pair, holding the 6mm, Spaceship and Aeronef ranges have been put out to grass and replaced by yet more shiny acrylic display cases. This week I’ve been starting the process of rebasing all of the 6mm ranges onto small scenic bases. These are made from foam card with a bit of textured groundwork and some foliage and grass covering – simple but hopefully effective. The cases won’t be large enough to display every single model we make (there are around 1100 items in our catalogue now so displaying them all is just about impossible) but we should be able to fill them with a representative selection of all of our ranges.

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Stoke Rochford Weekend

If you keep an eye on our Facebook page you might have seen the odd post from me at Stoke Rochford Hall during the gaming weekend held there. If was a splendid weekend with two excellent dinners, gaming all day Saturday and Sunday morning, held in the superb venue of a country house built in 1840 (imagine Downton Abbey and you’re halfway there).

SRH

Both days saw two games being held, a large Aeronef fleet action on one table and games of 15mm Gruntz on the other (Robin Fitton, the author of Gruntz, was one of the attendees). As a further attraction (if you needed one), I took up a small selection of Brigade stock, mostly Aeronef, 2mm Scenery and Land Ironclads, in keeping with the main theme of the event (I would have taken some 15mm stock as well, but the sale has wiped out our stocks of resin items so I didn’t have a great deal to take !). It was a chance for everyone to delve into the drawers of Nef and LI and pick out exactly what they needed, especially with me suffering a chronic inability to add up and continually undercharging.

Friday evening saw everyone arrive for dinner, nominally at eight but it ended up being eight-thirty by the time everyone had arrived. The menu at SRH is superb, as was the wine chosen by our host, Dave Frampton, and I retired well after midnight after an evening spent recounting gaming stories.

On Saturday, very slightly hungover, I played in a titanic Aeronef fleet action with over 150 vessels fighting over the disputed (and little known) Danish Virgin Islands. Forces from Italy, Denmark, the USA and a large bunch of pirates fought themselves to a standstill, with the Italian/Pirate alliance of convenience triumphing.

On another table, Robin’s superb scratchbuilt 15mm scenery played host to a skirmish game which I failed to take any photos of – however, I’m sure Robin will have plenty.

Saturday night’s dinner was fancy dress or dinner jacket, with everyone joining in. Some splendid Admiral’s uniforms appeared, along with Biggles, the Turk and several very smart DJs. It should be noted that the medals on our host Dave’s chest (far left in the first photo) are real, not part of a costume …

On the Sunday I was able to give the Gruntz rules a try – having heard many good things about them I’d never had the chance to play, so was very grateful to be able to join in Trevor Brown’s game. The rules are completely different in flavour to the Hammer’s Slammers Crucible set we played recently, being a more skirmish level set but still capable of handling reasonable numbers of tanks and vehicles.

That concluded the weekend’s action, with a long drive home in prospect I set off just after lunchtime.

We’ve provisionally planned a date for another SRH event next year, slightly earlier at the end of January – and we’re already planning the game (the Aeronef Battle of Jutland !).

A New Era

At Brigade, Phil and I have pretty well-defined roles. I do the bulk of the sculpting and design work, handle admin, orders, the post etc while Phil has the vital task of making moulds, both vulcanised ones for the centrifuge and RTV rubber moulds for resin items, and doing all of our resin casting. We share the metal casting duties of an evening.

Last week, however, I finally dipped my toe into the murky waters of mould-making and resin casting – OK, I realise that in wargames manufacturing terms that’s about as newsworthy as ‘man makes cup of tea’, I’m not exactly breaking any new ground here. But I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve done, enough to want to share the results. So here they are:

OctoDonut

No, it’s not some fancy cake mould ! It’s a 15mm SF colony base, or at least the first two parts of it (look carefully, there are two different modules in the four that make up this ring). During development I nicknamed it the Octo-Donut for want of a better name, but I’ll have to come up with something more snappy for the release. The final version will come with metal frames that fit between each part to hide the join, they’re still waiting to arrive from the printer. The modular design means that we’ll be able to provide plenty of options – straight corridors, T-junctions, labs, power modules, garages etc, but for the initial release these two pieces make an ideal self-contained base unit.

Look for a release as soon as the connecting frames arrive (due Friday) and can be thrown in a mould (hopefully not long after).

What this also means is that with a bit of luck I’ll be able to take over some of the resin moulding and casting duties from Phil and ease his workload a bit, which in turns means that we ought to be able to release many of the backed-up masters that we’ve not yet been able to get into production.

Right Here, Right Now

Long ago we used an old fashioned swipe machine with the carbon receipt slips to take credit card payments. That was until we discovered that the fees we were paying to the bank to use it were way, way more than we were taking in payments ! So we packed it up, sent it back and instead took to manually taking credit card details on paper and running the cards when we returned to base – of course the risk with this is that the payment could be refused, in which case we would out of pocket as the customer already has the goods (although in fact this never happened apart from once, and we were able to contact the customer and arrange alternative payment – wargamers are a very honest bunch in general).

However, no longer will we need to do this – for we have a new toy in Brigade Towers. It’s a little widget called a PayPal Here (no, we don’t know why either). It’s for reading both Chip and Pin and older swipe cards, which connects by Bluetooth to my smartphone and allows us to process credit card payments on the spot and send the customer a receipt by either e-mail or text message. Isn’t technology wonderful ! PayPalHere

We’ll be using this at all forthcoming shows, with SELWG just round the corner and Crisis not far away (or which more news once SELWG is out of the way).

Still Working Hard

It’s still slow going here at Brigade Towers – I’ve been slogging away at my real job as we go through a series of project milestones, with late nights the norm, culminating in getting home from work at 1am on Friday (well, Saturday morning). This sob story means little time has been available for Brigade work, although I have resorted to taking tins to work to clean up at lunchtime !

September has always been a slow month sales-wise, usually around 30% lower than any other month of the year as everyone recovers from holiday spending and gets back into the swing of school and work. For once this has been a blessing, as Phil and I have been able to keep on top of orders in the time we are able to spare. However, it has severely hampered our attempts to work on any new releases for SELWG. We will have the remastered British spaceships, and it’s a big deal for us to get those out. I finally did a little bit more painting on a set of them last night and they’re coming along nicely. They need a little more detail work, then some decals and they’ll be ready for proper photographs (in the meantime, here’s another snap of them on the workbench).

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We did spend a full day at the workshop to produce stock for the show and have another day booked next week, so we should have plenty to sell. However, as always if there’s anything that you really want to get hold of then you can always place an advance order with us to make sure we have exactly what you want. You can place an order via the website and pay in advance by selecting the ‘Collect in Person’ option, or you can just e-mail us a list and pay on the day. As always, there’s a 10% discount for any order of £50 or over placed for collection at the show (we’ll refund this manually if you order via the website).

We will also have a good selection of items from our Shapeways store available at the show – we took a number of bits to Salute and they sold well, so we thought we’d increase the range of items available at future shows. So this is a good chance to get hold of some power pylons, mooring towers, maybe a comms antenna, and save postage into the bargain.

Its not a glass…..

Its a (Brigade Models) chalice, made of glass.

Over the summer a well known brand of lager ran a promotion to win personalised glasses chalices and I was fortunate enough to win a couple (well six actually). If you won you got to choose your own message to be engraved on the glass chalice.

Naturally what more could I want than my very own Brigade Models glass chalice?

chalice

I should probably get out more.

Holiday Time Again

It’s time for me to head off to sunnier climes again (in fact that’s a bit unfair on the British summer as we’ve had a pretty good one this year). I’m off to France’s west coast, near the fortified ports of La Rochelle and Rochefort.

La Rochelle

We’ll remain open for business as Phil will still be around, although it does mean that order turn-arounds and responses to e-mails may take a little longer than usual so please bear with us.

Hopefully I’ll return refreshed and full of ideas for new models !