Monday, December 23, 2013

Gaming With My Son While the Gaming is Still Good

I realize that I haven't been posting anything or reading other blogs for a while. I've been taking a bit of a miniature gaming break, buying and playing some collectable card games and other board games with my son before he graduates college next May and doesn't have as much free time as he used to. (Actually, his Spring semester is loaded because he got an internship and a fellowship plus his last classes.) We've also been going to Disney World quite a bit. You know, it will feel strange when he leaves because he has been my hobby buddy since he was a few years old--I was lucky that he has liked everything that I like, from trains to games to theme parks. So the past couple months I've been snapping some photos along the way to "remember the moments," and below is a bit of a photo dump of the games.

I also got in a test game of Black Powder using the paper counters from Napoleon's Battles and this past Sunday I set up my 15mm WWII for some playtesting of some homebrew rules I've been kicking about. So later this week, I hope to post my thoughts on an actual game of Black Powder, not just a read-through, and a quick tip on making easy barbed wire in 15mm.

Monkey Lab is just a plain fun game where you play a monkey running around a lab trying to gather the right items to open as many cages and free as many fellow monkeys as possible. We think everyone from kids to adults will enjoy it. Nothing deep, but there is some strategy and nail biting. The figures on the board come with the game. The gorilla in the background does not--it was just visiting for the evening. If you can pick up this game cheaply, do so.

Honor & Treachery is the latest Learn to Play 2-player set for Legend of the Five Rings, one of our favorite collectible card games. We've been collecting cards for this game for 14 years and have tons of them. Recently, I took advantage of some super cheap sales on the latest set of L5R. You can see some of the booster boxes I bought. They are on the table because I had no where else to put them! If you are interested in L5R, which is based on a fantasy Japanese Sengoku-period world of fighting armies, the Honor & Treachery set is the way to go. It goes for only $15 at Hill's Wholesale Gaming. BTW they had it for only $5 on Black Friday! I picked up an extra just for the cards. Then get the big Gempuku box of 10 starters, which also goes for cheap now. You will be set and need nothing else.

Jeremy picked up the old Tigris & Euphrates game in July at Dice Tower Con, buying it used off a buddy. (Thanks, Rick!) It sat on our shelves until last month. I like tile-laying games and had fun learning this game. I cleaned his clock! I'm still not sure how that happened....

World of Warcraft TCG. Oh my. Several weeks ago, I bought a couple large collections of this game dirt cheap, essentially paying the fellows for just the shipping. It was a bit of a lark for me, since I never played the game. We tried it and were hooked. Then I took advantage of some sales and then some Black Friday sales. Here you see just one of my hauls. Oy! Plus many more boxes and cards not pictured. I also picked up the WoW online game for $5 at Target. I've never played it and am looking forward to it. We also started playing the Vs System card game, which we picked up cheap online on Black Friday,.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

New Page: Paper Napoleonic Game Counters

This evening, I posted as new permanent Page to the blog: Paper Napoleonic Game Counters. At the new page, you can download all the images I created/modified back in 2012 to test out 28mm Napoleonic gaming, which you can read about if you click this link. The counters cover the common/popular sizes on infantry, such as 40mm x 40mm and 60mm x 40mm, along with cavalry, artillery, and officers. I made two different sets of counters, so you can create two armies. The officer counters are for the French and Russian. You can download and print them to begin gaming right away. You could even resize them for smaller scales, such as 15mm. Below are some photos of a 60mm x 40mm army in action. So check out the new page. I hope someone finds them useful.

The 28mm paper counters with 15mm Napoleon's Battles counters.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Rubble: Now You See It, Now You Don't

When I first worked on the bases for my Black Tree Design Soviets, I wanted some of them to look as if they were standing in rubble, like in Stalingrad street fighting. To achieve that look, I tried plopping down some piles of rocks on a few of the bases. You know, I never really liked how they turned out. For example, every time I saw the one figure, which is slightly bending down and forward over a pile of pinkish rocks, I kept thinking he looked as if he had just taken plotz, the rocks being the plotz. So I decided to plow over my attempt at rubble, so to speak. Below are the before and after shots. In the future, if I want to make rubble I think I'll use some bricks instead of plotzed rocks.

"Yo, Ivan! I know you're scared, but quit plotzing rocks!"

"Da, that's much better!"

"So this puny rubble will give me a +1 Soft Cover bonus?"

"I don't need Soft Cover bonuses to kill Nazi fascists!"

Posted Just Because He's Cool:
"I once had a medal this big..."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

West Wind's Cowboy Wars Women: Part 2

Following up on the previous post, here are some more women from West Wind's Cowboy Wars range plus some thoughts on basing figures.

Thinking About Basing
Think about. If everyone were to stand out from the crowd, would there even be a crowd anymore or would those people standing out from the crowd form a new crowd from which they would have to stand out? Think about how this applies to basing figures for armies and skirmishing.

You might notice that some of my Western bases have desert rocks on them or tall grass, while others are bare except for the railroad ballast I use as "rocky desert dirt." This is a hangover from painting model railroad freight cars many years ago. Young or new model railroaders tend to want to model the unique and interesting looking freight cars because they are exciting to paint, allowing the young or new modeler to flex his painting skills while amazing his friends. If you watch a real train, however, most of the cars are quite boring looking and common place. Because of this, those unique cars really stand out from the crowd when we see them, drawing our attention as they should. If a fellow's entire train layout were nothing but those unique cars, it would look rather silly, with all those exciting and unique cars blending together into one big garish, jarring, and unrealistic crowded mess.

A few years ago when I began basing my first figures, I found myself thinking about my old model railroad freight cars. In real life, I figured, most people will not be standing next to a big rock or big flowering bush! They will be standing in boring grass they can easily walk though or in open dirt they won't be tripping over with every step. In a real Western shootout, for example, they probably would be standing in the middle of a dirt street if the shootout were set in a town.

So this is why I like the majority of my bases to be"boring," where not much is going on aside from some grass or ground cover, with some more visually interesting bases tossed into the mix for variety and excitement. I think this mix of bases makes our collection of figures a bit more interesting to look at and draws the viewer's eyes to the figures that we really want to have stand out from the crowd.

You'll really see this on my Splintered Light figures from a few posts ago. Brightly colored flowers on a base really attract the eyes, so I didn't want to over do the flowers. You might also notice that of the few bases having flowers, only one maybe two have white flowers because white is an extremely powerful color compared to the red, yellow, and orange flowers in the Woodland Scenics pack of flowers. And if you want to use purple flowers, remember that purple is the rarest color in nature, appearing only on the smallest of flowers in small quantities. So our little warriors should not be standing in fields of purple--unless the scenario calls for it, I guess.

Something to think about the next time you base those figures. Now, on to the ladies of the West!

ZCW-26 The Local Ladies #2
The Cowboys Wars rules-fluff for these two figures claims that they are different women, one being Mexican, but they look like nearly identical sculpts to me. While painting them, I began imagining a back story for them. I've mentioned this a long time ago, but I'll repeat it a bit here. In my mind, these gals are the twin Slaughter Sisters, Mary and Margaret.The prior year, a band of ruthless cattle rustlers gunned down their father, a kind and generous man who owned a large ranch outside town. Vowing vengeance and having been raised as expert shots, the sisters' sole purpose in life is to hunt down the villainous scum that killed their beloved daddy.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

West Wind's Cowboy Wars Women: Part 1

Whoops! Way back in June, I photographed my entire collection of Western figures because I had finally finished their bases, after having many of them languish for years undone. I thought I had posted all the photos, but looks like I was wrong. I posted none of them! So over the next several posts I'm going to rectify that, gathering these photos all in one place for the first time even if some of the figures have been seen in a few older posts. I'll post them as I find time in the evening to mess with them. Now we just need to get a game going with them. It has been too long. BTW some of figures in these packs will work for Victorian/Colonial gaming as well.

ZCW-23 Women of the West #1:
The theme in this pack is homely (the upper figure) or rugged (the lower figure) women wearing buckskin. Years ago, the homely figure's face was difficult for me to paint because her features are so odd and pudgy. After repainting her face a few times, I just gave up and was happy with what I could do. The lower figure has been in my painting cue for four years now for no real reason, only partially painted. I posted a place-holder photo of her figure just to remind myself what pack she comes from.

ZCW-24 Women of the West #2:
This is a pack where I liked one figure, but didn't care for the other, which I sold off. Again, the photo of the missing figure is just a placeholder to remind me what is in this pack. I was experimenting with wet blending pink craft paint but came to the conclusion that pink craft paint really wasn't made for wet blending!

ZCW-48 The Russian Hunting Party #2:
The official Cowboy Wars fluff says that this pack contains the Princess Ludmilla Gregorski, who is the widow of Prince Ivanovich, and her faithful servant, Sergei Millosovich of the Guards Don Cossacks. It also contains the prince's wolfhound, Rasputin, though I don't have him pictured. I tend now to follow the CW fluff, but it the rulebook does describe all the CW figures, which is helpful for trying to figure out what figures the packs without photos contain. The painting guides are pretty nice as well, though I haven't followed those either. I might follow them for the Russian officer packs.

I don't have a photo of his partially-painted on-foot version, so
I figured I'd post a photo of his primed mounted version to give
you an idea what he looks like.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Canvas Panel As Building Bases

Note: I originally posted this article on 3 September 2010 but have since updated it. Given the interest in the post and my brief update below, I've updated the publishing date to make it more current. The post's URL, however, has not changed.

Looking for some more Woodland Scenics trees and materials for making hedgerows and other scenery, we popped down to Colonial Photo & Hobby last weekend. I did pick up a few items that I'll be writing about one of these days.

We then popped across the street to Sam Flax, an art supply stores catering to artists and students. They have a store in Atlanta and here in Orlando. Why do I mention this? First, they are having a MASSIVE sale running until the end of September. I picked up a 12"x8.5" cutting mat for only $2.69 and a 12"x18" mat for only $5.39. Retail on the latter is $15! They have other sizes as well for about 70% off. They also have all brushes at 50% off, but were out of all the Windsor & Newton #7 sizes I needed--rats! They do mail-order, so you might want to check their website's sale sheet.

Canvas Panels--A Cunning Idea!
Lately, I have been hopped on putting all my buildings and small scenery scenes on dedicated bases. I've talked about this on TMP and here, looking at cutting sheets of thin plywood to size. I just need to get a saw and some horses. Sounds easy enough, and we can afford it no problem. I would just have to suck up the usual "abuse" every husband gets from the wife when he brings a new tool into the garage: "Why do you need another tool? Don't you have enough toys?" And on and on. You know, the typical drill.

Then at Sam Flax I came across canvas panels. They come in many sizes, are fairly inexpensive, are just as rigid as thin plywood, and save a lot of time. From the Art Alternative web page: "These canvas panels present an economical and easily portable alternative to stretched canvas–great for students on the go. They are designed for use with all media, and are of archival quality. The 7 oz. canvas is 100% cotton, triple primed with acrylic gesso and securely glued to a 100% recycled, acid-free board. All canvas sides wrap around and are secured in place on the back side. The convenient label provides an area to identify the artist, title, medium, etc."

Of course, I had no idea what sizes I needed for my buildings. Instead of guessing, I bought a 3"x5" panel to experiment and remember the idea. It should take paint, glue, and such with no problem. I'll play around with them and see what I come up with.

Below is the price sheet for the panels listed on the AA website.

Order No. Description
AA7032 3" x 5"
AA7034 4" x 4"
AA7001 4" x 5"
AA7036 4" x 6"
AA7038 5" x 5"
AA7002 5" x 7"
AA7040 6" x 6"
AA7003 6" x 8"
AA7042 6" x 12"
AA7046 7" x 9"
AA7050 8" x 8"
AA7004 8" x 10"
AA7054 8" x 16"
AA7005 9" x 12"
AA7006 10" x 10"
AA7007 10" x 14"
AA7008 10" x 20"
AA7009 11" x 14"
AA7010 12" x 12"
AA7011 12" x 16"
AA7058 12" x 24"
AA7012 14" x 18"
AA7013 15" x 30"
AA7014 16" x 20"
AA7015 18" x 18"
AA7016 18" x 24"
AA7017 20" x 24"
AA7018 20" x 30"
AA7019 22" x 28"
AA7020 24" x 24"
AA7021 24" x 30"
AA7022 24" x 36"

Update: 28 October 2013
A quick update prompted by History PhD's great comment below. After painting a 7"x9" panel with craft paint two days ago, the Art Alternatives canvas panel has not warped one bit. Plus, for the past year or more it has been fully exposed air without any warping. So it looks like these panels should work fine. As I posted in the comments, I don't have any panels larger than 12"x12", so I can't personally vouch for warping on the very large panels. Regardless, I'm not sure how study a huge panel would be since they were designed to  be mounted in frames.

I was hoping to snap a photo of the panel, but I haven't been feeling the greatest. I'll be sure to snap one later this week.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Beware Small Insulation Sheets at Home Depot

So I can use this chain saw to cut bases for 6mm figs? Cool!
A few weeks ago during another one of our trips through the many local thrift shops dotting our end of Central Florida, the kid (who is now 22 years old) and I stopped by the local Home Depot for a look around. You know how that goes, looking for whatever odds and ends tool and hobby supply impulse buys I might see. Many many times, I've looked at the large 4'x8' sheets of 1" polystyrene insulation foam stacked on the shelves and wished they could fit in the back of my Ford Taurus. They would be prefect for terrain boards and other scenery projects. After ten seconds of looking at the sheets, however, I always come to the conclusion that I'd have better luck shoving Jabba the Hutt into the back seat of my car than a giant sheet of pink foam.

Yo, buddy! Gimme a lift to Endor?
Then suddenly Jeremy noticed a box of factory-cut 2'x2' foam sheets designed for craft projects. Something new! Plus, these small sheets could easily fit into my car, along with a few hitchhiking Ewoks with room to spare. Owens Corning makes these small sheets for arts and crafts projects as part of their Foamular XPS insulation foam line. (Sadly, I couldn't find any info on their website about these sheets, unless I just didn't look hard enough.)

Yes! At Last, Modular Terrain Boards!
I immediately began thinking how we could use these sheets to make 2'x2' terrain boards, without the horrible mess of cutting large sheets of insulation foam. Plus, Home Depot sells pre-cut 2'x2' thin plywood boards on which I could glue the foam using some polyurethane glue. I also figured that since the foam pieces had been factory-cut, they should be fairly even all around. Still, I wanted to make sure, so I decided to make use of some of Home Depot's tools.

I grabbed an angle off the shelf, a level, and some precut 2'x2' plywood. I then put the foam board to the test. It failed! In the photos, you can see how inaccurate the cuts were. Some of the foam boards were better than others, but none were good enough for making modular terrain boards. They will never fit together properly. On the other hand, the plywood was cut perfectly.

I though I made bad cuts! Sheesh!

Do I really need to say anything here?

Alas, No Modular Terrain Boards
In the end, I bought one of the 2'x2' foam boards to cut up for scenery bits, such as hills and rock outcroppings. I thought I took a photo of the foam's price tag, but I didn't have it on my phone. Since this was a few weeks ago, I can't recall the exact price of the foam boards either. Drats. It was maybe $5 for the piece? I wanted to mention these foam boards in case anyone else sees them and thinks they could be used easily for modular terrain boards. If that is your goal, don't waste your money and time! You'd do better drinking a bottle of vodka and then cutting large sheets of foam yourself--I'm sure your cuts would be straighter than those from the Owens Corning machine!

I Shall Cut It Into Teeny Tiny Pieces and Glue Them Together Real Good
If you're like me and cannot fit a sheet of insulation foam into the car, don't know anyone with a truck/van to haul a sheet, don't want to rent a van for $20 to haul a sheet of foam, or don't have access to a construction site that has leftover scraps of insulation foam they want to throw away, then these small Owens Corning foam boards are just the ticket for small scenery projects.

These are not the nuts you're looking for!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Splintered Light Spear & Sword Hares Finished

A Little Retrospective
If your a bit new to the blog, here is a little retrospective on the figures and how I intended them to look. They have been a labor of love and agony over the past few years. At times, I thought I would never finish them for various reasons, many of which were tied to my father's death. But that is all behind me now. And you know what? I am proud how these figures have turned out!

Bare Metal
This is what the Bob Olley sculpts look like in the bare metal. While larger than normal 15mm figures, being classified as 20mm, the sculpts have excellent features and detail. In fact, this makes painting them more like small 28mm figures than 15mm figures. This photo is of the archers, which are nearing completion as well.

The Real Thing
Below is a photo of a real hare in England. Notice the ears and nose are not pink like bunnies but are black and tan. (A running joke with me is that guests to our house should not call these figures bunnies--they are hares, thank you, and they do not like being called bunnies!) A couple years ago, I wrote an entire post about how real hares look, with many inspirational photos for this project. I also included some images from the Red Wall books, on which these figures and my uniform schemes are loosely based. You can read this article by clicking here.

Remember When?
Here is a photo early on in the painting of these figures. The fur has been drybrushed and the jackets have a base coat of red. Here is a little trick I did. Look at the photo of the real hare above. Notice how it's eyes are lined with a very light ring of tan? I took that feature but made the upper eyes more like human eyebrows, giving them an angry look while still looking natural. The white under the nose is also a nice touch. When you see the figures in person, with all the colors blending together as they cannot do in a photo, the effect is very realistic and effective. These little guys look like they mean business!

And Now The Completed Splintered Light Hares!
Below are photos of the finished spear and sword hares. To finish off the bases and add some interest, some of them have little rocks on them. Others might have a twig, a little bush, or some wild flowers. The majority of the bases are plain with just Woodland Scenic brown ballast and Scenic Express Pasture Blend flocking. Making the majority of the bases plain makes the other "decorated" bases a bit more special, thereby able to stand out in the crowd.

A while ago, I asked you all how I should paint the banner. I was stumped! I had many good ideas. I went with a runic look. It wasn't how I imagined the rune-thing in my mind when I began painting it, but I think in the long run my accidental slip of the brush and misplacement of the little marks wound up looking better. Some white and orange flowers top off the base.

The entire gang of sword and spear hares. I pity the rats who try to mess with these guys!
What's Next?
First, I need to take care of my back some more! LOL. After that, I want to write a post about how I made the flowers using Woodland Scenic flowers. I also want to pass along a few tricks about them that I learned along to way. The hares with bows and commanders are still on the sticks in various stages of completion. They should be finished soon. I have a ton of rats ready to be painted and on the sticks. Since the rats are the main enemies, they will get done asap so we can play some games with these figures. After those are complete, we'll see what I feel like painting next. Too many cool figures to choose from!

Bottom Line
If you've been thinking about getting these figures from Splintered Light, I hope I've inspired you a bit. They are very characterful and easy to paint. While I used drybrushing on these, on other animals I've been thinking about using some washes, mainly to save my carpal tunnel hands from the repetitive motions of  drybrushing--I learned that lesson the hard way on these figures! So check Splintered Light's website for more figures and watch out for the sales that they run.

As always, feel free to leave some comments below. I do appreciate them.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stretlets Germans in Stalingrad

I was poking around Stretets' website this evening looking at their 1/72 figures because the scale has always had a strong fascination for me. Stretlets is an interesting company that comes out with all sorts of crazy sets. Some seem good, while others seem a bit shoddy. And the can have the freakiest box covers! Anyway, I checked out their new Germans in Stalingrad set. I will admit that these figures sure look the business, unlike what I've seen in other scales. I get cold and tired just looking at them! I thought some folks here might find them interesting. Am I going into 1/72 now? I'm thinking about it, especially for the size, cost, and quality. I am tempted to get these, that's for sure. (Yeah, it's been a slow summer around here!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Painting Nosferatu: The New Spring Fashions Have Arrived

After some thought about what color to paint the figure's cloak, I decided to use Dark Cherry from Folk Art craft paints. You can see the preliminary results below. On the workbench, it looks creepy and just a bit different than the basic black all the other Nosferatu seem to be wearing this year. (Being a fashion designer for a hip and mod Nosferatu trend-setter is such demanding work!)

Plus, these progress photos better show some of the highlighting I did on his hands and fingers. Of course, I still need to paint his fingernails, along with lots of other work. But so far, so good. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I will use them on the other three Nosferatu I have to paint.

"Trust me. In this outfit, you will be the envy of all the other Nosferatu!"

"It's the holes that say, 'Look out, world, I'm just a bit dangerous and rebellious today!"

"No problem. We can let out the sleeves, giving you a skosh more room when reaching out to touch a friend."