The Heroics and Ros Merchants

After a year of assembling planes for Malta, Dave Schueler and I determined we needed a variety of targets.  We’ve done that using the Tinywargames Malta mat.  I’ve put together my own airfield felt mat and added a wide variety of buildings.

But something was missing.  A huge part of the Malta story was the siege that settled over the island as convoy after convoy brining precious supplies was attacked by the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica.  The converse side of this is that aircraft stationed out of Malta mounted relentless attacks on German and Italian ships headed with supplies for North Africa.

The two of us have acquired some of the merchant vessels offered by Ros and Heroics.  These were originally Skytrex castings, produced in pewter.  They aren’t cheap at six to nine quid a throw, plus the spendy shipping from Great Britain.  I was prepared to be disappointed when I ordered my first four models, and four more later.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with H and R.  Love them because they carry the Skytrex range, which is unique and combines so well with David Gregory’s great range of WWII coastal vessels from PT Dockyard.  The range of sea walls, jetties, and fortifications can’t be matched.  But they’ve been challenging to order from the states.  Everything from missing molds, to slow service, and that shipping charge certainly makes things more costly.

I made my first order for ships in September. All merchants including the big tanker and British merchant at nine pounds each.  Service didn’t disappoint-four weeks from the order to receiving the product.  But, the real surprise was in the casting.  Three of the four miniatures had newly molded resin hulls.  They were nicely cast, no bubbles, mold marks on the seven inch models were extreme and easily sanded.  All the additional details-superstructure, masts and booms, the odd deck gun, were nicely cast in metal. If there was a problem with the minis it was that the portholes-nicely formed-were probably big enough to accommodate a bus. Small potatoes in the world of miniature making.

Merchant 1

German 5,500 ton cargo ship. Yes, it can definitely double as some other nation’s cargo vessel; I won’t tell.

I waited to make a second order, mostly because the H and R website was under renovation.  When I did order in January it was like a night and day difference.  Owner Andy sent me a prompt e-mail to let me know my order was received and another in a few days to let me know the order was on its way.  I had the ships within two weeks from the U.K. The e-mail contacts were refreshing and should be an industry standard.  The quick delivery was stupendous.

Merchant 2

A none-too-friendly look at all four ships together. The Nikon tends to focus on a particular target and blurs everything else. You’re looking at the 4,000 ton tankner

But the miniatures are also great.  Again, the crisp casting of the resin hulls was really good.  This batch had a bit of light flash, but nothing that couldn’t be easily removed.  Light mold marks at the bottom of the hull, easily removed with light sanding and extra fine sand paper. My only complaint was my Flower class corvette did not come with its four-inch gun turret.  I replaced it with a gun turret from the Tamiya Japanese Auxiliaries kit.

Flower class 1

Flower Class 2

Two views of the nifty little Flower class corvette. My favorite of the four models, it is a little small for for the 8″ base.

These miniatures are sizable at 1/600.  The smallest are about four inches long, and the largest are pushing eight inches. So the question is always to mount them on bases or not? In a conversation with Dave, he said he preferred bases because it’s just easier to move the ships. But basing material is always a challenge.  Plus, arriving at a consistent color with the mat is always a challenge.  Dave suggested a clear base with wakes painted in white.

Tramp 1

3,000 ton tramp steamer was a pleasure to put together.

Tanker 1

One more look at the tanker by H and R.

Easier said than done. My first thought was 8” X 1.5” bases on clear acrylic by Litko.  Hey, they’d be straight and at 1/8” thickness they’d be strong enough for the largest ships.  Plugged it into their custom base maker and it came back as sixty bucks for ten bases.  Too much. I needed a Plan B.

I ordered a 12” square piece of acrylic from Amazon.  Intended for a picture frame, I thought maybe I could scribe it with a sharp Ex-Acto knife and break it off as I’ve done with sheet styrene.  I’m sure somebody could, but it just didn’t work for me.  I made too many additional marks on the acrylic and simply could not get the scribing lines deep enough.  That was a ten-dollar failure.

Went back to Litko, and looked at the same dimensions but at 1/16” thickness.  Half the price.  I hit the buy button and had my bases within a couple of weeks. They look great. Litko has also improved their service and made their shipping more affordable.  Highly recommended.

Although it may not be clearly evident from my glare-ridden, somewhat blurry photos, the Litko bases definitely served their purpose.  I’m not struggling to match my bases, let alone lining them up against the mat.  The ships, the bases, and I haven’t even mentioned my tinywargames mat, all work together to look different.  Even I can’t screw that up.