On Thursday I travelled down to visit Graham - he of Crann Tara Miniatures, and the very fine Scotia Albion blog - a real celebrity by my standards!
|Crann Tara - '45 Rebellion - British Line Command, Marching|
I had a splendid day - again, I must express my appreciation of Graham's kindness and his resilience and patience in answering my stupid questions so well and so openly. I learned a great deal, I have to say, and he very kindly printed me some samples of Vauban-type fortifications, and provided me with links to some of the more promising sites which provide files for printing (including some, such as Thingiverse, which provide the files free of charge, subject to the usual courtesy rules about non-commercial use and giving credit where it's due).
I accept that the 3D printing machines are probably pretty familiar now, if not to me, but I hadn't realised that they come in various types. Graham has a Prusa machine, which prints using a plastic filament (FDM - Fused Deposition Modelling), and he also has one which is physically smaller (I have forgotten it's maker, but you can find all this on Graham's blog) - this second one produces the printed models in a resin bath rather than on a flatbed in the open air (which is what the FDM one does). Both produce astonishing results - the resin models show fine detail rather better (for figures), while the filament machine is better for buildings and similar pieces. I saw figures of various types, in all sorts of sizes, and am very impressed that the muskets and bayonets appear, faithfully and beautiful, right down to the smallest size. The afternoon was filled with tiny tanks, bren-gun careers, triremes, the hulls and sails of sailing ships, soldiers of every known size and all manner of bits and pieces for fortifications - even furniture for dolls' houses...
|Prusa FDM 3D Printer - probably not the same model!|
The cost of production of the pieces is very low, though the machines themselves are obviously a serious investment if you are looking for quality and reliability. Printing is slow, which is not a problem, though it requires some commonsense in scoping projects and realistic production times. I was interested to learn that with the resin machine you can group several soldiers (for example) and produce them as a single job, with the same elapsed time as a solitary figure - on the other hand, the FDM printer will do the figures as a single batch, but the times will be additive. I was about to add a note here about why this is so, but I suddenly remember that I am out of my depth.
I also saw a lot of beautiful and interesting painted soldiers, of course, which is inspirational and humbling at the same time, and we talked a lot about wargaming - no-one expected that! I had an excellent day all round.
It's a part of the country I really don't know at all. I was favourably impressed - it was a fine, sunny day and, maybe apart from Hartlepool [!], the area is more attractive than I expected and, of course, the people are lovely. In the evening Graham took me along to the Redcar Raiders Wargaming Club, which meets in a pub (yeah!). The members were very friendly and welcoming - that's a thriving club. I wandered about, looking at the activities, trying not to do my usual Banquo's Ghost impersonation. Amongst other things, there were a number of Warhammer-style games, and Blood Bowl (which is new to me), and an interesting looking naval game called Blood and Plunder. All great fun.
|Redcar Raiders - photo borrowed from their Facebook page|
Thanks again, Graham, for your time and generosity - a fascinating day, and very educational. I'm going to do some more reading online about 3D printers, to see what possibilities there are for adding the missing bits to my existing Vauban fort.
One result of what I have learned is that I now realise that 3D printing is the way to progress my fort and my siege gaming, whatever my timescale, and however ambitious the intentions of the project might become. One immediate casualty is that one of my interim "diversification projects" has now become defunct, which means I have a spare fort to dispose of.
I planned to put this on eBay in a few weeks. Here are some photos - if anyone is interested, please email me at the address in my profile, or else send a comment to this post (stating that it is not for publication) with your email details, so I can contact you. What I have on offer is anyscalemodels.com's Vauban fort set, with some extra pieces. I regret that it would be a bad idea to mail it outside the UK, since the postage costs will be more than the price of the item - apologies for this, but UK only, please.
Some measurements - it is, as you see, a square fort. It's nominally 15mm scale, and it's cast in hard resin (the larger pieces are hollowed out, to keep the weight down). There are 4 walls, 4 bastions, 2 gatehouses and 4 staircases.
Overall size is 515mm square; the walls are 55mm to the top, and the straight wall sections are 180mm long, the roadway behind the rampart is 42mm wide. It is as new - I bought it about a year ago, and it has been stored, unpainted, in the original packaging - it just needs to be washed and painted. I'll try to get a painted view from Anyscale Models' website.
If you're interested, please get in touch. If there's no interest, I'll put it on eBay in a few weeks, but the price is likely to go up a bit to cover overheads.
|Photo of painted Vauban Fort borrowed from Anyscale Models' website - I am offering a few additional bits|