Nearly ready to go …

While we wait for the late-arriving factories and farms, we have some good news to share. We ran the production mould of the 2mm houses last night and we have to say that things are looking good – judge for yourselves:

These are straight from the mould without any clean-up so far – but they don’t need much, just clip off the little bits of sprue and run a file quickly round the rough edges.

We’re aiming for a release this weekend; I’m hoping to slap some paint on them first, but even if that doesn’t happen they’ll be on the website and up for sale by Monday morning, which means of course that you’ll be able to take advantage of the Xmas sale.

2mm Building Previews

As mentioned earlier this week, we’re working on a new range of buildings for our Land Ironclads VSF range. The buildings are all modelled at 1/1000th scale so besides Land Ironclads they are also ideal for 2mm or 1/1200th vehicles and figures. Besides the churches and houses previewed in the earlier post, I’ve already modelled a number of other buildings which you can see below. The first set, already complete, are agricultural buildings – farmhouses, barns, sheds, windmills and – very common in the Kent countryside around Brigade HQ – oast houses (there’s one at the end of my road, now used as an office building).

The next set consists of a number of industrial buildings – small and large factories, warehouses, a pumping station, workshops, even a hydro-electric power station. The four rather imposing smoke-stacks tower over the tiny houses, and all four are interchangeable if you want to customise the look of the buildings.

The third set is a series of terraced houses for more urban landscapes. There are four designs, and other slight differences between some of them. Often associated with Northern England, terraces of this type are also seen in abundance in the south of the country (all of them are based on terraces in our local area).

All three sets have been ordered from the printer and are due in the next few days. Because we order them in sets that fill a complete production mould there is no intermediate master-mould stage and we should be able to get these into production quite quickly.

Tiny Houses (redux)

A couple of weeks ago we brought you pictures of some 3D prints of our first set of Land Ironclads scale (roughly 2mm / 1/1000th) houses. Sadly these weren’t really up to scratch, being a bit off the mark in terms of the print quality. Fortunately the nice people at Shapeways also thought so, and offered to reprint them for us. These new prints have arrived in double quick time, and are a massive improvement – so 10/10 for Shapeways customer services department. The detail is much crisper, the edges are square and the windows no longer look like they’ve been pushed into a bit of plasticine with someone’s thumb ! There were happy faces at Brigade Towers this evening, it must be said 🙂

The models are the same – we have a set of 20 English village buildings (mostly houses, with the odd inn, pub or shop amongst them) and nine two-part churches. The nine towers will fit any of the three naves, allowing for plenty of variation.

Because we’ve made enough prints to completely fill two moulds, we should be able to release these in double quick-time because we can bypass the intermediate master-mould stage and go straight to production moulds (the original hope was that we’d have these for SELWG, but that didn’t happen). The houses will come in a single pack of 20 houses for around £5, while the churches will be in a pack of three (one of each nave and three random towers/spires) for £3. The successful printing of these also gives us the confidence to go ahead and order more buildings – we have farms, factories and terraced houses ready to go and lately I’ve been working on some Mediterranean buildings as a break from 15mm tanks. I’ll preview some of these later in the week.

Tiny Houses

As mentioned in a recent post, we’re planning to expand our range of 2mm scenery as part of the Land Ironclads range. To this end, we were rather excited when a bunch of 3D prints arrived the other week.

The first batch consisted of 20 different English village buildings – mostly houses, with the odd inn and shop thrown in for good measure. Each building is unique, so it will allow you to build a largish village or maybe two small hamlets without any repetition.

The second batch was nine English churches in various styles. The larger size meant that I had to model the towers separately from the naves, so I took the opportunity to make a common join, which means that any of the tower designs will fit any of the three nave types. There are three main tower designs (crenelated tower, steeple, low-pitched roof) but each is slightly different, so it’s possible to make up to 27 unique church designs.

Unfortunately, the prints weren’t all that we had hoped for – the definition isn’t great and some of the buildings are mis-shapen. They certainly aren’t as good as the various forts and lighthouses that arrived before them. We can’t decide whether it’s a bad print, or it’s simply that we’ve pushed the limits of this particular 3D printing material too far with these tiny, tiny houses (some are only 5mm across). We either need a (better) reprint using this material (which we like for buildings because of the natural rough surface finish) or find a material that can cope better with very small models. Either way, we won’t be able to put them into production immediately as we had hoped 🙁

More Land Ironclads Forts

More previews, this time of a couple of new Land Ironclads forts. These are variations on the existing Maunsell sea fort, one with a single turret and leg and the other a much larger four-turret fortress. We should have stocks of these for Crisis in a couple of weeks’ time.

That’s All, Folks !

So the last part of our sale is all done and dusted … and what a sale it’s been ! September is normally a very slow month, no-one has any money after their summer holidays and it’s generally rather quiet on the order front. Not this time. In the last nine days we’ve taken more than double what we’d normally expect for the whole of an average September ! This is a fantastic response to our sale and I guess shows that we must be doing something right. We’ve already had to order in extra supplies of metal and resin to cope with the volume of casting we’ll need to do.

It means that we’re now going to be incredibly busy picking and packing all of these orders and doing any necessary casting ! It will mean that there could be a slightly (EDIT – for slightly, read quite a lot…) longer turnaround than usual on orders, especially larger ones or ones with lots of resin models in (we sold a lot, and I mean a LOT, or our 6mm and 15mm desert buildings). This will probably have a knock-on effect at SELWG where we won’t have time to produce as much stock for the show as we would have liked, so if you’re after any buildings that day it’ll probably be best to pay us an early visit. We also have some new-style 6mm buildings that we were hoping to get out for the show, but they may have to wait until afterwards now (they’re the start of an SF-city range – I’ll preview them on the blog later this week).

What I will bring you this morning is some previews of other new stuff; a new parcel of 3D printed buildings in 15mm, 6mm and 2mm scales turned up this weekend (eventually … the UPS driver managed to leave it in someone else’s rubbish bin on the other side of town, but that’s a long story …). As mentioned above I’ll leave the 6mm buildings for later in the week since they need a little bit of cleaning and assembly work on them first.

The first model is a 15mm version of our 6mm-scale vehicle garage, of which we sell lots and lots so it makes sense to have it in the larger scale as well. The door has been printed in a high-detail material which contrasts with the rough surface of the building.

The rest of this morning’s previews are all in 2mm scale as part of our Land Ironclads range. This batch concentrates mainly on various fortifications, with the odd lighthouse thrown in. First we have the largest of the 2mm models, Fort Boyard (or Bouyard) which is off the west coast of France in the Bay of Biscay. It’s better known as the site of a TV game show, but was in fact built in Napoleon’s time (well, started anyway – it wasn’t finished until 1857). It’s large (as 2mm models go) so will go into production as a resin casting.

The next image is a pair of Martello Towers. These are a common site around the UK coast, but the design was taken from a Genovese tower at Mortella Point on Corsica; in typical British fashion we took the design but got the spelling wrong ! Not all towers are the same, this image shows a couple of different types, with either a single gun or a second design with a clover-leaf style arrangement of three gun positions.

The third fortification is a very small fortification, Fort Vauville, on Normandy’s west coast. This unprepossessing building isn’t much more than a stone house with a surrounding defensive wall, so much so that when I walked around it on holiday I didn’t notice it – I just thought it was a holiday home with a big stone wall around it ! I was more interested in the WW2-era bunkers scattered around the same beach.

Switching from fortifications to more peaceful structures, we have a small lighthouse. This is based on the Little Red Lighthouse on the Hudson River in New York, but at this scale could just be a small generic lighthouse anywhere in the world.

Finally, we have a daymark – these are a bit like lighthouses, but without the light, and are used for navigation during daylight hours. This one is based on Gribben Tower in Cornwall. (As Phil pedantically pointed out, surely a lighthouse without a light is just a house !?)

This marks the beginning of what will hopefully be a major expansion in our 2mm scenics and buildings range. As well as fortifications we have villages, farms, factories all planned (the first of these have already been ordered from the printer and more are about to be).

VSF Sale

It’s summertime, so glorious weather, barbecues, cricket on the green … or if you’re in the UK this year, thunderstorms, hail, floods, umbrellas …

Belgian Land Ironclads

And it’s also time for the Brigade summer sale season. Like last year we’ll be running several week-long themed sales, each covering a subset of our ranges (this just makes things more manageable and ensures we don’t get swamped by the demand !).

Heyworth Bomber

Our first sale covers our two Victorian SF ranges, the ever-popular Aeronef and Land Ironclads. From today (Friday 29th) for one week (until Friday 6th July) all models and packs in both ranges are 15% off.

See the Aeronef or the Land Ironclads ranges on our website and pick up a bargain or two !

Battle of Fairlight Cove

More new stuff

Following on from yesterday’s Celtos skeletons, we have more new bits today. Three small fortresses and strongpoints for Land Ironclads are available, including a sea fort. based on the Maunsell designs still visible off the Kent coast (but with a lot more firepower !).

Maunsell Fort

In addition, and completely forgotten yesterday, are two re-released Celtos miniatures – Chrau Diliu, Zombie Hero, and the splendid Zombie Blood Cauldron.

VSF Forts

More previews today, this time of three fortifications for Land Ironclads or Aeronef. These models have already been moulded and we’re casting tins for a production mould – we’re aiming to release these at Salute in April.

First up is a British tower fortification, based on the designs of the WW2 Maunsell Forts, some of which are still in place off the coasts of East Anglia and Kent. The 3.7″ AA guns on the real thing have been replaced by a pair of our standard British Aeronef turrets for more firepower ! Although designed as a sea fort, the design would look perfectly at home on land as well.

Maunsell Fort    Maunsell Fort

The next one is a heavy artillery fort, with four turrets (this example is fitted with French/Austrian turrets), for maximum destructive capabilty. If the Maginot line had looked like this, Hitler wouldn’t have stood a chance …

4-turret Fort    4-turret Fort

Last up, and based on what I think is an image from a between-the-wars toy building set (which I can’t now find), is a strongpoint with a single turret and plenty of firing slits for emplaced infantry.

Strongpoint    Strongpoint

The Future Starts Here

SHP Logo

If you followed this blog you’ll know that we, like many other miniatures companies out there, have started using 3D computer modelling and printing as an aid to the design of some of our models. So far we’ve used it to produce masters of models that are still produced the old-fashioned way by hand-casting in metal or resin.

Mass-produced 3D printing of all of our products isn’t here yet, speed and cost of production remaining barriers to be overcome. However, there are still advantages that it offers in terms of producing complex models that would be nearly impossible with traditional techniques. For example, models which are hollow or have significant undercuts, holes or insets can be printed in one piece without the need for complicated or fiddly multi-part designs that are difficult to assemble and delicate when on the gaming table.

To that end, we’ve launched our own fledgling shop on Shapeways, which we will use to offer models that we would find difficult or impossible to offer in the normal way. We will also offer a few pieces that we would like to produce, but that we suspect may not have mass appeal and thus would not justify the cost and effort of making masters and moulds. We’ll also be tackling subjects outside of our normal ranges (such as my current 6mm WW2 project).

Horsa Bridge

The initial range of models is quite small – but that’s because we want to get a prototype of each model printed for ourselves first, so we can make sure it all works OK and looks good. We’re hoping to regularly add new items as we design them and can get prototype prints.

Large Airship Shed