Saturday, 8 August 2015

Prince August - Fantasy Kit

I am not a big Ebay buyer. In fact until recently I've not bought anything for around 4 years. But there was just one thing that I couldn't resist. It was a fantasy modelling kit from Prince August... and it arrived in my mail today.

Prince August are an interesting company. They have been around for decades. In fact I remember by older brother bought a very similar kit about 25 years ago. The ability to make your own figures is probably the biggest attraction. I find it quite interesting and challenging to get the right temperatures for the metal and how different alloys melt at different temperatures. Then of course you've got to prepare and paint the figures which is fun itself.

I'll prepare another blog post in the near future which shows some of my earlier casting of some different Fantasy Army series moulds I already have. In the mean time imagine casting your own metal figures!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Clydeside-Flotilla preparing to launch

In an earlier post I mentioned how I was definitely going to buy some 1:2400 GHQ waterline models. Now I am definitely not going to… because I’m indecisive… and because I have come across an excellent small producer of metal 1:1200 scale models and model kits. This little shop is called Clydeside Flotilla. It is named after the famous Clydeside dockyards in the Glasgow area in Scotland. The River Clyde after which the dockyards were named maintained many ship manufacturing companies. Today there are only a couple left.

The Clydeside Flotilla shop only has a limited range at this point in time, however, the quality of the models produced appear exquisite. The owner has been undergoing a renovation programme for the models. He wishes to ensure that the quality of the models meets the standard expected today.

Masters (in various stages of development) - ABDA Fleet
Front to Back - Van Nes, Evertson, De Ruyter, Java, Exeter, Perth, Pope
Being from Australia I’m interested a lot in the ABDA (American, British, Dutch and Australian) command during WW2. This is a subject not covered much in Australian school history and certainly not well covered around the world. Therefore it tends to take a back seat. Clydside Flotilla presently have Bathurst Class corvettes available which as far as I’m aware is the only manufacturer of these 1:1200 models in the world.

I have had the pleasure of some communication with Bill Gilpin who runs Clydeside Flotilla and he has shown me a picture of some of his proposed masters for his ADBA fleet. These in-progress masters are shown below. I can only hope that Bill will be able to start manufacturing these kits soon. I’ve ordered some of his existing models, so I’m now committed to this scale.

Bill described the last couple of years challenges in an email which I reproduce in part below:
I spent the last 12 months sourcing a 3-D printing service to make the RP masters. I then discovered that the best quality, and most expensive, RP material, reacts badly with the silicon mould material used to cast the metal production masters, so I’ve been experimenting with various paints, coatings & separators to form a barrier between the two, without loss of detail. Each failure resulted in the loss of a very expensive RP master! Fingers, toes & eyes crossed, I think I’ve now solved that, and I’ll be putting that to the test with new moulds in the next couple of weeks. Meant time, a ”virtual” fleet is growing awaiting me sorting this out, and I think you’ll recognise some of them...

Bill provides the following explanation for why all this effort for Clydeside Flotilla's overall plan on his website:
Clydeside models were first produced in 1978, as simple, one-piece, wargame models and the range rapidly expanded to over 200 models, including WWI, WWII & modern warships, and 37 Clyde steamers. The early models were cheap and cheerful to produce, but the many undercuts resulted in short mould life and lots of (constant) extra work remaking new production moulds. This slowed down production of new models and hindered the process of advancing the quality of the models. It was decided to stop production of all the original models and reinvent the range in the form of more detailed, multi-piece kits, allowing scope for super-detailing and customising to any particular ship in a class, as, rarely were two sisters identical. At the same time, the models would continue to be robust enough for the rigours of war gaming.
The Clydeside Flotilla online shop can be found at this address: No time frame is presently available but progress is certainly being made. It is an exciting wait.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Axis and Allies: War at Sea - GHQ: World War II Micronauts

A few years ago I started to get involved with collecting Axis and Allies War at Sea ships. War at Sea is a war game that was developed by Wizards of the Coast. It is an enjoyable game. Each ship had its own characteristics, some of which were more reasonable than others. The ships themselves were fairly well made considering they were super cheap, made from flexible plastic and roughly painted. But Wizards of the Coast decided to cease producing this game and sadly it is hard to come across some of the rarer ships and when you do it is expensive. However, War at Sea developed a dedicated community. So, although the ships are no longer made the game itself is supported by the War at Sea gaming community.

Axis and Allies: War at Sea.
these three examples are HMAS Sydney (Back), HMAS Canberra (Centre) and HMAS Nizam (Front)
As a starting point for miniatures, War at Sea was great for me. It gave me an indication of what could and couldn't be done at such a small scale (War at Sea miniatures are 1:1 800 scale). Some ships were attractive and had good details. Others, however, were ugly and poorly sculpted. Because the ships are no longer produced I wanted to find a way to continue. And I want to continue with nice attractive ships.

Luckily there are other companies that produce model ships at different scales (no one else does 1:1 800). One scale that I considered was 1:1 200. Being a larger scale the ships tend to have more details. Also, there are several manufacturers of the scale (or close to it). Some manufacturers are of exceptionally high quality. The store Alnavco gives a good example of the range available. Sadly, for me I think that these are too expensive to collect in large quantities.

I think the best value for money (considering the very fine details) are the 1:2 400 GHQ micronauts. These are the ones that I'll be converting my War at Sea navy to in the long term.  The range is good, the sculpting is great and they are made from metal. The only thing I don't prefer about them is the size (other people find the tiny size a bonus). This makes it harder to paint for me but also a good enjoyable challenge. It also makes storage very easy! If you've not seen them before have a look at the GHQ range.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Uniforms of the World

I recently came across an excellent website that I thought I should share. It is a good one because it really helps for those that want to paint miniature figures and need a style and colour guide. The website is called Uniforms of the World and you can purchase a guide to the uniform of your choice for as little as 70c. Full CDs of uniform pictures for entire countries and periods can be purchased for a bit over $20.

An example from Uniforms of the World

Alternatively the Osprey Publishing's Men-At-Arms Series is an excellent resource for those who prefer their books to be made from real paper.

An example of one of Osprey's Titles

Monday, 19 January 2015

Class 14 Locomotive - Graham Farish

I saw this on special on the eHattons website. I had to get it... such incredible detail in these new N-scale locomotives. Graham Farish who make this Class 14 (D9555) are doing wonderful things with detailed model railways. The D9555 still runs on a preserved railway in the UK.

Sadly, I bought this on eHattons when I had some money. I have not had much for quite some time so alas my fleet has remained at two locomotives. I'll show the other locomotive in another blog post.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Princely Sale

Yet another one of my hobbies is miniature metal casting. There is something about melting metal that is just so much fun. I'm also interested in the metallurgy, so I guess that  is also an attraction. 

I have purchased a small number of metal moulds from Prince August who are based in Ireland. There will be some specific blog posts showing how they work in the near future. But I thought I'd mention that the company is selling some older stock very cheaply. I think it is a great time to buy... so have a look at the Prince August website if you are interested.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Railway Update No.4

I was wondering whether I should use an underlay when making my layout. I'd previously made a small test layout and I did not worry about underlay. The sound that a model train makes when passing over the track is certainly not very life like. It has a charm of its own, granted. But it is something that I think can be improved upon.

With the sound of clickety-clack in my ears I thought that cork underlay would be good. Here is what it looks like. The width of these strips is enough to fit under a single N-scale (9mm gauge) track. It is not very high tech but is does help with the noise. Note, however, that you'll never be able to completely get rid of the model train noise. But some of that sound is the charm of model railways. Some people have also used carpet underlay which probably works out cheaper and is more noise absorbent.