Sunday 18 December 2011

1/4800 Tumbling Dice Sailing Ships

Having completed an prolonged move of house (miniatures packed in boxes and lack of internet contributing to a general malaise on the hobby front) the first box I found were my 1/4800 Tumbling Dice ships.

I decided it was time to give the Trafalgar rules a run, so a few Family Guy episodes later, I had a small fleet ready.  

Paint Scheme
A scorched brown hull, sails and rigging, chaos black sides, with yellow blobs for the "Nelson checker" look.  I'll get around to gilding the sterns sometime.  Bleached bone over graveyard brown for the sails completed my quick-n-nasty paint job.  I felt the best effect to make the model 'pop' was the white wake on the base.  These took surprisingly long to do, considering my super simple rushed paint job. 

Tumbling Dice 1/4800 Review
+ Good feeling of 'life' in the sculpts
+ Good sense of scale; looks effective as a fleet
+ Affordability - 18 SOL, 3 frigates, 2 sloops, 2 brigs and 2 cutters for $20 = a complete fleet

- surprisingly long to paint even with a quick-n-nasty scheme
- the smaller 2-decker was much smaller than even the frigates in every way. Since they included 12 of these in the fleet pack I presume they represent the popular 74-gunner but one presumes a 74-gunner would not be 2/3rds the size of a larger frigate. I know frigates were as long as many SOL, but the frigates are bulkier to boot.
- no merchant or special ship options (bomb ketches etc) althought the abovementioned stubby 74 looks more like a small merchant than a warship...

 The USB stick gives an idea of the tiny scale of these ships - the biggest would base on a 10c piece.  

 Other Scales
I've revisited this, but so far my internet searching has lead me to conclude:
1/1200 - Skytrex $6/ship. Langton & GHQ fall into more 'models' than playing pieces at $12-15 each.
1/2000 - Valiant has bulk $100 specials that work out to $3/ship.  They are well detailed but a bit fiddly/breakable, and look good either rigged or not.  They fit well enough with 1/2400 apparently.
1/2400 - $3 ea - Tumbling Dice > Old Glory due to superior cast rigging and ability to buy individual ships. Hallmark are finer and fiddlier and seem to be $4-5. They do NOT have the cast ratlines which is probably more realistic but the extra cost is not worth it I feel.

1/3000 - West Wind > Navwar due to price and availability/ease of ordering. Super cheap in packs ($1-50 a ship) but I prefer more 'standard' 1/1200 or 1/2400 scales. Also not a great step up from 1/4800, which is under $1 a ship.


  1. Those look fantastic. I have always wanted to give a proper age of sale game a try. How do you find the rules?

    1. Robin, sorry for not replying sooner - but basically what Mr Fang said. The rules were beautifully presented, straightforward, but are more 'game' than simulation. Not that I can claim any expertise on the age of sail - I'm just talking from a wargaming point of view.

  2. I have the 1/4800 Old Glory ships, because when Trafalgar was released, OG had a sale for 110+ ships of 3 different fleets for less than $100. I snatched it up.

    Trafalgar as a game was about what you would expect from a GW product: beautiful, reasonably easy to play, with a few issues that ruined it for me. Ive been told by some of the grognards in the store that Langston's "Signal Close Action" is their favorite game ( Ive yet to make that purchase, but these always stay in my mind as one of the things I need to finish and play with more.

  3. Handy for Fight Sail eh? Convenient!

    I know that you prefer 1/2400 for the detail, and I agree too. That said, I just remembered that I've had a couple of British and French fleet packs of these sitting in bio for about the last 15 years or so... Now to do the infamous analysis paralysis of bothering to do anything with them or just stop up for some nicer and slightly bigger ones...

    1. I can give you a definitive answer on that... I gave away my 1:480 and replaced it with 1:2400 Tumbling Dice - and do not regret it. The 1:4800 were just too small to make out difference in ship classes (i.e. is that a 1st rate 100 gunner or a 36-gun frigate?) which was unacceptable in the long run.

      The TD stuff is best for playing pieces if you don't plan on spending 2 weeks individually modelling each one, making rigging of thread etc.