Sunday, August 26, 2012

Assault Girls: Worst Sci-Fi Movie Ever

In nearly 50 years on this planet, I have never proclaimed a sci-fi movie to be the worst sci-fi movie ever made until I watched the unwatchable Assault Girls on Netflix the other night. Sure, over the years there have been some bad science fiction movies. The series Mystery Science Theater 3000 made a living poking fun at such bad movies. But even they would be hard pressed to find anything to poke fun of in this movie because there just isn't anything there! Acting? What acting? Characters? What characters?

Synopsis:  "In the aftermath of global thermonuclear war, three battle tested women wage war in a virtual reality videogame against giant mutant sandwhales. All of them seek to kill 'Madara Sunakujira' the game's end boss but find that despite their high levels, are unable to engage it alone as they wish, forcing them to form a party to defeat it together."

Ok, sounds kind of stupid and bad, but this is a movie from the director of Ghost in the Shell, a far superior product. Yeah, Assault Girls gets horrid reviews on Netflix, but I have enjoyed many supposedly bad movies. And sometimes they can be so bad that they can be fun for me to watch. Boy was I wrong!

I should have known it was going to be bad when the movie starts with something like 15 minutes of exposition explaining what the future earth and its society will be like. Unfortunately, its rambling mess of exposition lost me within minutes. Then the movie (and real pain) begins. Just take a look at the trailer, which I did not see until writing this post. I think it speaks for itself. I had to stop the movie after half an hour--I just could not take it any longer. Come on! Even Battleship has to be better than this movie!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Safari Ltd Toys for Mighty Joe Young Pulp Gaming

The local Jo-Ann Fabric craft store in their clearance section has been blowing out toy figures from Safari Ltd. I left the fairy princess, sorcerer, and other such human figures for kids who would appreciate playing with them, but I did grab the two Lowland Gorilla Males they had, paying only .99 cents each instead of the $7 retail for each.

Being a fan of everything pulp I right away thought of the classic 1949 Ray Harryhausen movie, Mighty Joe Young. I figured the size of the gorillas would work well with 25mm-28mm figures and was right. The photo below shows the toys with some of my figures. Ok so the Soviets are not in the film, but the film sure does have enough cowboy explorers in it. (A nice part of Western gaming is that you can use many of the figures in Wild West shootouts, Africa exploration, mummy hunting, and more--something people overlook.)

I'm thinking about repainting the gorillas, but they look pretty good as they are for now. However, they are glossy toys. I've thought of shooting them with some Dullcote, but I've heard on other forums that Dullcote can have a bad reaction with vinyl figures if the Dullcote contacts the vinyl (A while back I sprayed some Star Wars miniatures with no ill effect, so take that for what it's worth.) Perhaps brush matte varnish would be just as good?

Oh yeah, over the weekend I also picked up a toy elephant from a local thrift store, paying only $1, which at the moment seems to be my favorite price point! Now all I need are the Sergeants 3 pack and some Thuggees from Pulp Figures, and I can game Gunga Din, which I watched for the first time a few weeks ago on TMC. (BTW that project is on the burner.) So keep your eyes out for cool and cheap toy animals, monsters, dragons, and the such for gaming.

I think these scale great. With 15mm pulp figures, you can use the gorilla as King Kong.

Monday, August 13, 2012

On the Workbench: West Wind London Thugs

I'm also working on West Wind's pack of 28mm London Thugs, another generic pack of disgruntled Victorian workers and street folk perfect for Victorian science fiction and horror. Some also work for Western games, though the trousers can be a dead giveaway that these are more Victorian than American Wild West.

Again, variations of the bloke on the far left appear in at least one other pack, the Lady Doctor.

Hey, didn't I see the fellow on the left in another pack? Hmmm....Cousins?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On the Workbench: West Wind London Mob

Ironically, I've been complaining that I'm tired of painting 19th century and WWII figures, so what do I do? I start painting more 19th century figures! Someday I'll figure out how my brain thinks. Anyway, I mentioned on Brummie's excellent blog that I'd post some photos of the pack of West Wind's 28mm London Mob, because WW and Old Glory only have a photo showing one of the eight figures you get.

I love nearly all the figures in West Wind's horror lines, having bought many packs of them years ago when Old Glory said they would no longer be casting them. The West Wind figures have great, often exaggerated character, making them fun to paint and put on the table. Unfortunately, some of them look like they were sculpted after the artist came home from an all-night bender. *cough*GHZ-5 Lady Doctor and Her Staff*cough* Thankfully, those seem few and far between.

Oddly, the head on the far left fellow gets repeated in other packs, a common WW practice.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Priming Miniatures: Gesso Update 2

Well, several days have passed along with three evenings of power outages since I primed the latest batch of figures using black Golden gesso and the results are in.

The Golden gesso adheres great to the miniatures, not blocking details too much. The gesso doesn't rub off with normal pressure, unlike my last batch of Liquitex gesso.

Some of the figures have bare spots, which can be typical of any gesso. You can see the Blue Moon Zorro doesn't have any bare spots front or back, but the Blue Moon cowboy does. I'd say about a third of the 20+ figures I primed have some bare spots. I've never been able to figure out when, where, or why this happens. If anyone knows, please post it in the comments section! I'll just brush black over these bare spots. When the figure is sealed, the spots will be fine without any paint rubbing off in those areas.

All in all, I like the Golden brand much more than the current Liquitex.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Priming Miniatures: Gesso Update

This is an update to my earlier post on priming miniatures using gesso. In that post, I discuss the pros and cons of using gesso, along with my recent problems using Liquitex gesso and my decision to switch to Golden gesso. You can read the full post by clicking on this link.

This afternoon, I finally got around to priming some miniatures using the Golden black gesso I had bought a couple months ago. These are the Old Glory/Blue Moon Zorro freebie set and some OK Corral figures. They are pretty simple figures without too many doodads, a style I appreciate.

Minutes after glopping on the gesso.
So far I'm pleased with the Golden black gesso, though the real test will come in a couple days when it thoroughly dries. That's when I'll see how durable it really is, unlike my last batch of Liquitex.

The Golden black gesso is quite a bit thicker than the Liquitex. Whether that's a good sign or not, I can only hope. It seems to apply like any other gesso would, and has all the pros and con of gesso, like leaving some bare spots when it dries. However, those have been few and far between so far!

I have noticed that the wet Golden black gesso seems to adhere to everything better than the Liquitex. In fact, it takes some effort to get the stuff off my fingers! It really stains fast, unlike Liquitex. I got some on my painting lamp (don't ask!), and really had to work to get it off, eventually using Windex instead of plain wet paper towels. So be careful using this stuff! Don't be a klutz like me!

About 1.5 hours of drying time. You can see the gesso shrinking. Looks okay so far!
My only real complaint is the wide-mouth jar. Yes, I realize it's so artists can dip in their wide brushes they use when priming their canvases, but the wide lid makes things a bit messier for me. I didn't want to keep the lid off for over an hour, fearing the gesso might skim over like paints do, so I poured it into a small medicine cup I had been saving. I always did this with the Liquitex. This time was a bit messy, but ok. I really miss Liquitex's squirt bottles! If I can remember, I'll see if the art store has a better, less-messy bottle for the Golden gesso.

So there you have it. It's like the guy who jumped off the 50-story building said every time he passed by a new floor: "So far, so good!" I'll see what happens when we hit the ground later this week. :-)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 3:
Basing Tips & Tricks

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Series Overview
This is the third in an ongoing series of articles documenting the research I have been doing for painting my 28mm Black Tree Design miniatures for 1:1 skirmish gaming. Finding historical information on Soviet uniforms that gamers can use was very difficult, with much of it scattered across various Osprey and other books, along with some websites. I hope folks find this series of articles helpful and might even stir some interest in gaming the Eastern Front. While I painted 28mm miniatures, nearly all this information is useful for all miniature sizes.

Getting Started With Basing
Having some free time yesterday afternoon, I finally worked some more on the bases of my Black Tree Design Soviets. Several weeks ago, I had smeared Elmer's Wood Filler across the bases. When that dried, I painted the edges of the bases and much of the base itself using Ceramcoat Autumn Brown. When that dried, I sealed the paint on the bases using Americana's brush-on matte varnish, though it dried with more of a shine than I would like. Normally, I would have sprayed the bases with Dulcote, but it's been too humid here in Central Florida. I'll have to do that once the humidity lets up.

Using Ballast (not Sand) as Ground Cover
So yesterday the figures got some ground cover. You can see my set up in the top photo below. For these figures, I used a mixture of fine, medium, and coarse brown ballast from Woodland Scenics. In a small bowl, I mixed some of each. Since I was shooting for a rubble-look, I used more medium and coarse ballast than I normally would have.

Though a few years ago I tried using plain old sand and then painting it, I've found using model railroad ballast works just as well. Plus, model hobby shops sell ballast in many different colors and rock mixtures, not just the few colors that Woodland Scenics offers. Check them out when you get a chance.

This beings me to another point. Why did I use brown ballast if I was thinking of doing city fighting, like in Stalingrad. Wouldn't grey ballast and rocks be better, along with grey painted bases? You know, at first I had been planning on doing just that. Then I began thinking that grey bases would be too limiting, switching to basic brown earth instead. After all, cities have lots of earth, especially around blown up buildings. Earthen bases wouldn't look as out of place in city fighting as grey bases would look in countryside fighting. Kind of trivial, I guess, it was something that ran through my head.

Painting on the Glue
Ok, so I have all my bowls of rocks on the table. I then thin down white glue about 50/50 with the same distilled water/flow improver mix that I use when painting. Using an old brush, I paint the glue onto the base. Here is a little trick I figured out: licking my finger, I rub the ring of the base to get off any excess glue so my base edges don't become rock-covered.

Rock On!
Next, I take the figure and dip it deep into the ballast mixture, swooshing it about. When I pull out the figure from the mix, I make sure to keep the ballast piled on top. I then use an old bristle brush and pat down the pile of ballast, making sure the ballast settles into the glue. I then tap off the excess ballast, rub off any ballast around the edges, and move onto the next figure. This is the easy part, I always feel.

Base Details: Rubble, Rocks, & Grass
Now comes the fun part that make or break the look of a base and its figure. What details do I put on the bases? I want an autumn/early spring look to the figures, after all many are wearing bits of winter uniform. I'd love to do winter bases, but that specialized project will have to wait!

The other containers in the photo have Woodland Scenics coarse brown talus and coarse grey talus, along with some Cajon sandstone rip-rap. What's nice is that these packs also have bits of other rock colors in them, so I can pull them out to look like brick bits maybe. These rocks can be used for nearly any other project as well. Finally, I have some autumn grass tufts from Army Painter. You don't see any static grass because I don't own any autumn colors, only summer farm pasture, which won't work too well here. (Besides, I'll be placing an order with Scenic Express next week for more scenery stuff, like autumn grass.)

You can see in the photo that I experimented a bit with a few figures. A couple of them I glopped on some glue and then dipped them in either the grey or sandstone talus, looking for that pile of rubble look. Some rocks I just glued in place as I felt. I'm not sure if it capture the look of rubble, but since I don't have a bits box of rubble junk, they'll have to do for now. I don't think I'll do this to many of the bases.

When I get my order from Scenic Express, I'll finish the bases on all 25 figures. At least with the ballasted bases they look a lot better than they had look the past several months in their black-primed bases!

Now I just need some buildings, most likely paper, and get these guys onto the table for some gaming. I'll keep you posted.