Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Change of Scene

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
Apart from the social side of my visit (i.e. a chance for me to bore someone else to death) and the opportunity to see some of Graham's splendid figures, and talk about how he develops and manufactures (and sells) them, I have been fascinated by his reports of his use of 3D printers, and was very keen to know a bit more.

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.

Topic Two

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'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


  1. Hello Tony, sounds like you had a great day out all round. I remember quite a few years ago when you posted about the 3D printing technology in it's early days and Ian (Hinton Hunter),commented along the lines of it wont be long before can all print our armies! We are seriously getting there. Did you see our 40mm RHA prints in the flesh?

    1. Hi Lee - yes, a very good day indeed. I saw the RHA chaps - in fact I think I also saw an experimental version in an alternate size. The translucent resin is strange stuff - the figure suddenly leaps into detail when it is undercoated - before that it looks like hair gel or something! Marvellous anyway - both the technology and the artistic skills.

  2. Tony,
    Some mutual back slapping here 🤣 I enjoyed your company greatly. As I'm sure you realised I'm pretty passionate about the hobby. I admire your collection and wish I had the tenacity to to do something similar.
    I'm glad you found the day both informative and enjoyable. I shall do some more experimentation in 15mm building printing !
    One minor point Lord Cornwallis is from Jim Purkeys Fife and Drum range which I stock. They are sculpted by Richard Ansell who also does the majority of my figures.
    We live in interesting times and I could easily be tempted just to pay for a few figures to be a sculpted and just print them for an army.
    Thanks for a copy of Ramekin looking forward to trying them out.
    Hopefully we can catch up again soon

    1. Hi Graham - oops - I'll substitute another figure photo!...

  3. Sounds like a marvellous day. Somedays it seems like it might be nice to find a venue full of miniatures games and gamers without the 10 hour drive but then would it be special? (OK I can rationalize almost anything)

    I have a friend here who recently acquired a lower end 3d printer and has been spitting out little ships, tanks, buildings and figures. My first reaction was along the lines of "Wow! A replicator! Its like living in a scifi future". My second was "My house is already full, where I would put all the new stuff and when would I get around to painting it?" Too late for me. Now I feel old. ish.

    1. Ross - yes it was a marvellous day. Visiting and chatting with enthusiastic people is also the very finest way of getting out of a rut where I always think of a hobby in terms of the same activities, the same painting queue...!

      It certainly wasn't a 10 hour drive - in the UK we don't have the distances that you on the American Continent take for granted, but we compensate by driving at the wrong speeds, not signalling and generally behaving aggressively, so it is less of a dawdle than it should be. Passing someone in a traffic queue scores a point, and you get double if you pass on the wrong side. And you can drive as fast as you like as long as you slam your brakes on just before a speed camera. Who needs a PlayStation?

      The 3D printing is fascinating - buildings are an obvious area of interest for me, but the idea of being able to print off an army - super quality, too - is mind-blowing. I agree - they should have had these when I was 30.

  4. Now that sounds a perfect trip! All the ingredients were there.

    Those Cran Tara miniatures are amazing. Up there with the best. Almost makes me regret going down to small scales.

    1. A lot to look at - much of it very inspiring and thought-provoking. Crann Tara - agree - lovely. They are nominally 30mm, I believe, but will match with larger 28mm ranges. Having seen some of them on Thursday - pro-painted - I'm very impressed.

  5. Thanks for this Tony. It's good to get more knowledge, even from a layman's perspective, on this tech. Several chaps in my own circle have 3D printers now, and while I could certainly afford one (it might make a nice retirement project), I doubt that my current output justifies the outlay.

  6. Hi Tony, I can vouch for both Crann Tara's great figures and Graham's being a fine chap, having spoken to him several times at shows, and having a goodly number of his stop 30mm SYW/Jacobites for you, then?

  7. Sounds like a great trip. The fort is lovely, gahving just scratch built a bunch of components for one myself!