This blog is about the world of gaming miniatures, as seen from my perspective. I've been collecting and painting for over 30 years now, and while my primary focus is miniatures for D&D, I also enjoy many other games that use minis, so we'll be covering those as well. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

I Forged a Hero!

OK, so I used Hero Forge Custom Miniatures to create my own custom mini using their library of virtual bits and bobs. I know they've been around for a couple of years now, but I recently began shopping for a new mini to represent my human bard and had not had much luck finding what I was looking for.

I tried my go-to guys at Reaper, and while I did find a couple of options, I decided to keep shopping. I looked at more than a dozen manufacturer's websites and a LOT of minis. In the end, I didn't find anything that fit my needs. I went back to Reaper and narrowed my selection down to 2-3 models, and then weighed the pros and cons of picking one and customizing it. Still not entirely satisfied, it was at that point when I decided to check out Hero Forge.

The interface is intuitive and easy to use for a first time user. On the left side of the screen you have your main menu: Species, Head, Body, Clothing, Gear, Base, Mount, Pose, Color, Booth, and Buy. Most of the Species are currently geared towards fantasy races, but there are a few alien and robot options now. When you click on a menu choice like Body, a sub-menu appears that lists all the options for that category. There are a lot of options! You are only limited by your imagination and ability to mix and match.

The Color menu allows you to "paint" your mini so you can get a better idea of what it will look like with paint applied. Then, presumably, you will click on the Booth menu so you can create tokens and portraits of your hero (these are premium options).

And then it is time to Buy. And this is where you get hit in the wallet. A single hero in the base plastic is $20. Premium Plastic is $30, Color Plastic is $45, and Bronze minis are $100. If you have your own 3D printer, you can purchase the STL file for $8 (currently $4). I opted for the $20 base model, because it was my first time using the service and I had nothing to compare it to. By the time you add in tax and shipping, the total was closer to $30. But what the hell, I had recently sold a rare mini and made a tidy profit, so I decided to treat myself.

Here is Geddy, my human bard in my friend's 3.5 campaign. We have been playing on Roll20 since the outbreak of the pandemic, so he may not see use on the gaming table in our current campaign. But I still wanted to have a representation of him as I envisioned him. I chose a pose that has him doing what he does best: singing! I'm also trying to decide if I want to modify his spear and turn it into a longspear, which is what Geddy actually uses. He likes to stand behind the fighter types and stab away at the monsters.


 

I wouldn't mind buying another Hero Forge model again, perhaps in the next higher grade of plastic for comparison. But first I need to paint up Geddy and see how he turns out before I cross that bridge.





Friday, October 4, 2019

Clear Acrylic Base Saves The Day (And The Mini)

My fantasy miniatures have always been game pieces, to be handled and used from one campaign to the next. Some of my favorite minis are 30 to 40 years old, and have seen extensive use. And while it's true I've always been protective of my lead, and have given my friends truckloads of grief over the years whenever they dropped or knocked one over, I don't blame them for most of the damage. I blame the manufacturers! A lot of old school lead have ridiculously tiny bases. Citadel is one of the worst offenders, and a lot of their pre-slotta minis suffered from this issue. One of my favorite old elves is FA14v1 Elven Hero with Sword. But his base is so tiny, he might as well have been sculpted in the prone position. Another favorite, FA1v1 Fighter in Plate Mail with Sword, was constantly toppling over. In fact, he fell over so often that he was the first figure I ever attempted to re-base. All I did was glue a small washer to the bottom of his base, but it sure kept him from tipping over every time the table was bumped.


But what I didn't like about the washer solution is that in my eyes, it just didn't look right. Not aesthetically pleasing. In the mid to late 70s and early 80s, I wasn't educated at all about miniatures beyond the basics (paint with enamel paints, boom, done). Sure, later in life I finally learned intermediate and advanced painting techniques, how to customize a mini, and how to make cool bases.

So my problem was what to do with my vintage lead that had been lovingly painted or re-painted in some cases. I want to use them in games, but I don't want to see my work slowly erased, one chip at a time. And that's where Green Stuff World's clear acrylic bases enter the picture. They currently come in round, hex, and oval shapes, with sizes ranging from 25mm to 55mm in clear, blue, and red. I would like to see them in squares too, but for now these will do.


I glued a Grenadier wight and a couple of old Reaper skeletons to some round 25mm bases as a test. And let me tell you, they all passed the test! Just don't glue too close to the outside edges of the mini's base, at least if you are using glue that doesn't dry clear. I'm really looking forward to adding these clear bases to a bunch of minis that really need the support, especially my hordes of Heritage Dungeon Dwellers. I'll post more pics down the road as I make progress with this project.


What do you think? I'm happy. My goal was to get more minis on the table, without causing unnecessary damage to them. And I also wanted to save time, because I really didn't want to spend the time gluing them into recessed bases, building up the voids with filler, and finishing them with sand, grass, rocks, etc. and painting the bases. These clear acrylic bases look great, and I only need to glue each mini to the base. A great solution, and in my opinion, great results.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Grenadier Storm Giant (Lightning Master)

A couple of days ago, I finally began to compile the master inventory list for my miniatures collection. It's a somewhat daunting task, considering we're looking at 40 years of minis both old and new. As always, I only have myself and my procrastinating ways to blame.

Today I was going through my Shelf of Shame, consisting mostly of projects ranging from partially painted, primed, or prepped and awaiting primer. In particular, it was the shelf that holds my favorite subject---giants!

I picked up this Grenadier storm giant and began to look him up on the Lost Minis Wiki. No luck. The Stuff of Legends? No dice. How hard can this be? I know my way around minis, know how to narrow down searches, who the various experts are on the various lines, etc. But WTF, here's a giant that I KNOW is Grenadier because it says "Grenadier @ 1992" and "SM13" on the base. Google shows a few pics of this fella, but still no conclusive ID. I FINALLY found his proper designation after about a half-hour of poking around.

Turns out he's not a storm giant after all. He's a LIGHTNING MASTER. He belongs to Grenadier's Fantasy Legends line, product number 3104. Hopefully if any other collectors stumble across him and want to know his particulars, they will find this blog post and not spend a bunch of time searching in vain like I did.

I should note he can also be found in Terence Gunn's excellent book The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. The mini is pictured on page 96 and is listed in the Product Appendix on page 118.





Picture credit: The Lost Minis Wiki

Friday, October 5, 2018

RIP Uncle Duke


Bruce Seifried, better known as Uncle Duke to the miniature and wargaming community, has passed away. I never met the man, nor did I have the pleasure of participating in his legendary games. I did have two small personal interactions with him, however. The first one was in 2011, when I purchased a Heritage Panzertroops Humber armoured car from him via eBay. He was kind enough to sign the blister card, and also sent a business card. The second one was in 2014, when I asked him several questions about the very rare 25mm Uncle Duke miniature. I was very appreciative of his time and answers.

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society has posted an obituary here.

Godspeed and thank you for your massive contributions to miniatures and wargaming.
Image result for uncle duke seifried

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

eBay: THE Citadel Giant

DISCLAIMER: This is not my auction, I but thought it was worth noting.

This auction appears to be (and the reason I say appears to be is because I do not see any pics of the contents) for a complete, NIB Citadel Giant. You know, THE Citadel Giant. The starting bid is $850 USD and there is already a bid on this huge hunk of lead. Makes me wonder if any other deep-pocketed collectors are going to join the fray?


Friday, February 9, 2018

Ral & Partha's Excellent Adventure (or Guam and Back Again)

I've mostly been buying single figures or small lots here and there for the past couple of years, trying to fill holes in the collection and generally avoiding large lots - the lead pile is already huge and I really don't need to make it bigger. But an eBay seller recently had a dozen or so lots of old-school goodness, and a few were just too tempting to take a pass on so I went ahead and bid on several, and ended up winning three.

What caught my eye in two of the lots were some Citadel AD&D minis, specifically four bugbears and six norkers. The rest was a great assortment of Heritage, Citadel, Grenadier, and a smattering of Ral Partha, Superior, TSR, and others. I've long desired to replace my Heritage bugbears and ogre that our first DM absconded with decades ago. And now that our new 3.5 FR campaign has kicked off and we are once again 1st and 2nd level, I decided my DM would benefit from a new batch of old low-level monsters to throw at us. I'm nice that way.

Citadel AD&D Bugbears
Citadel AD&D Norkers
Heritage ogres. Yellow one needs a medic.
Heritage bugbears, how I've missed you so!
That's when the fun started. I won two lots on January 23rd, and the third on January 28th. The third lot was in my hands on January 31st, perfect condition, no worries. The first two lots, shipped together, should have been at my house by the 27th, but that did not happen. The USPS decided my minis needed a vacation, so they sent them to Guam and Hawaii. WTF??? I copied & pasted the tracking history at the end of the post. You can see that the package left Missouri on January 24th, and was en route to the west coast. The last "In Transit to Destination" was on the 27th, and then nothing until the 31st when it shows up in Guam. From there, it heads to Hawaii, and then finally to Washington.

I was excited when the tracking info showed that the package was on my doorstep on February 5th. I opened the front door to find that there was no package after all. Are you f*cking kidding me? My guess is that it was delivered to a neighbor's house by mistake, as I have had items that weren't mine delivered to me by mistake in the past. Sure enough, today - two days later - the package shows up on my doorstep. Finally!

The box was pretty beat up, not a surprise considering it traveled in the neighborhood of 13,000 miles instead of the expected 2,100 miles. I said a quick prayer to the lead gods and opened the package. The seller had very creatively packed the miniatures into four plastic ice cube trays, and wrapped each one in bubble wrap. This should have been good enough for the anticipated domestic trip, but alas did not hold up to the rigors of pan-Pacific travel. A handful of minis where rolling around loose in the box, having been dislodged from their ice cube tray nests.




After unpacking and taking inventory, the final tally was six broken minis and two missing minis. The broken minis can be repaired, but the missing pair (a couple of Baaz Draconian warriors from the TSR Dragonlance box set) are gone forever. I hope they ended up in Hawaii, so they can enjoy the sand, surf, and sun. I don't know how USPS managed to drop the ball on this one. It's not like the zip codes are close (98072 compared to 96913), so I guess we'll just chalk this one up to human error.

After I have a chance to sort through these beauties, I'll be selling the leftovers in much smaller lots on eBay or Facebook. They all deserve a good home, and not just sitting around my hobby room in a plastic bin with all my other lead orphans.
  • Delivered, Front Door/Porch
  • Feb-05-2018, 17:38 PM, WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Out for Delivery
  • Feb-05-2018, 08:20 AM, WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Sorting Complete
  • Feb-05-2018, 08:10 AM, WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Arrived at Post Office
  • Feb-05-2018, 05:30 AM, WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Destination Facility
  • Feb-04-2018, 22:04 PM, SEATTLE WA NETWORK DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Feb-04-2018, 12:57 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Feb-03-2018, 12:57 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Departed USPS Regional Facility
  • Feb-02-2018, 23:57 PM, HONOLULU HI DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
  • Feb-02-2018, 18:21 PM, HONOLULU HI DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Feb-02-2018, 12:45 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Feb-01-2018, 12:45 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Departed USPS Regional Facility
  • Jan-31-2018, 21:45 PM, BARRIGADA GU DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
  • Jan-31-2018, 00:38 AM, BARRIGADA GU DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Jan-27-2018, 12:07 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Jan-26-2018, 12:07 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • In Transit to Destination
  • Jan-25-2018, 12:07 PM, On its way to WOODINVILLE, WA 98072
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Origin Facility
  • Jan-24-2018, 20:07 PM, SAINT LOUIS MO DISTRIBUTION CENTER
  • Departed Post Office
  • Jan-24-2018, 17:04 PM, BALLWIN, MO 63011
  • USPS in possession of item
  • Jan-24-2018, 12:20 PM, BALLWIN, MO 63011

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reaper Resin vs Reaper Bones

I love Reaper Miniatures. Great miniatures, great company, great customer service, and an outstanding community. For player characters, there is something for everyone. Our last party was all Reaper, and our new party is once again all Reaper. And the selection of creatures covers pretty much everything in the Monster Manual and then some, so the question is usually how much should I spend?

Some folks don't like to mix scales, but that's not a problem for me. True, some of my venerable 25mm Ral Partha orcs look downright tiny compared to a Reaper DHL 28mm adventurer, and many of the old Heritage and Grenadier sculpts lack the same level of detail as contemporary minis, but I don't look at my collection like that. I buy what I need and I buy what I like, scale and sculpting differences be damned.

To date, I have resisted the siren call of Reaper Bones. I didn't participate in any of the Bones Kickstarters, and did not consider buying any individual Bones minis. While I am a huge fan of how incredibly affordable Bones are, I still prefer the feel and heft of a solid chunk of metal. Another plus for Bones is the light weight. I'm sure I could haul around a lot more Bones than metal minis and still have to carry less overall weight. Finally, Bones get high marks for potential durability. How many weapons and limbs have snapped off a metal mini due to an unfortunate fall off the table or from the ham-fisted handling of my fellow gamers? A lot.

Which brings me to the other day. I was looking for new giants, and I saw the Bones Frost Giant King. That pretty much melted my resolve (no Will save allowed) so I went ahead and bought him. And while I was at it, why not buy another frost giant? Ned (my DM) knows my philosophy is "you can never have too many giants" so I also picked up Boerogg Blackrime in all his resin glory. While both the eBay listing and the Reaper website state Boerogg is resin with metal accessories, my NIB copy is resin with resin accessories. Just an observation, not a criticism.

He followed me home, honest!
Standard Reaper packaging vs Bones
I have been reading up on Bones over the years, mostly on the Reaper forums, but also on various blogs. The first-hand accounts of my fellow painters have been very enlightening with regards to Bones, from priming (to prime or not to prime? That is the question), hardening (some substances can cause Bones minis to stiffen up to varying degrees), and converting (easy, given the soft nature of the plastic). The reason I looked at ways to harden Bones is because I'm NOT a fan of how soft and bendy the king's sword is. If I cannot get it to retain a nice straight form, then I'll have to consider lopping it off and replacing it with a resin or metal blade.

The various bits, side-by-side.

Boerogg Blackrime

Frost Giant King

You can see how much bigger the King is.
So I have removed the giants from their packaging, cleaned them with dish soap, a toothbrush, and cold water, and let them dry. Next step will be to assemble them, clean up any imperfections, and get busy painting! I will leave that for next time, one article for the Bones giant and one for the resin giant. If any of you folks have advice you'd like to share, your input is much appreciated. Thanks!