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!

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
  • 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
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
  • 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
  • Arrived at USPS Regional Facility
  • 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
  • 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!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

New Year, New 3.5 FR Campaign

OK, so we actually played on 12/30/17, but let's not split hairs, shall we?

We wrapped up our long-running (2009-20017) 3.5 FR campaign last year in New Orleans. New characters were rolled up on 2/25/17, and then we took a long break to allow our DM time to decompress and regroup for another tilt. It seems only appropriate that we ended one campaign and started another to coincide with my birthdays, does it not? Here is our new party:

Human fighter
Half-drow cleric
Human rogue/sorcerer
Gnome rogue/wizard
Aasimar druid

The new campaign kicked off with our intrepid adventurers enslaved by drow in the Underdark! We were captured individually (at least my druid was alone when ensnared by a goblin trap and captured by some drow, so I'm just assuming the rest of us met similar fates). We slaves led predictably miserable lives as miners and laborers, doing our best to survive each day as we toiled for our harsh masters in Llurth Dreir.

We escaped our captors when we were attacked by some mind flayers and their humanoid minions. While the slavers were busy fighting off the incursion, we broke our shackles with tools and sheer strength and fled down a tunnel. It was a small gaggle that fled, with the five of us plus three orcs, three dwarves, and a human. Our armament consisted of some light picks and clubs.

The tunnel led to an open cavern at the edge of an unknown Underdark sea. As we were scrounging for food and water, some sahaugin raiders emerged from the sea and set upon us. The sea devils probably thought we looked like easy prey, but we fought with the frenzied determination of slaves who had no wish to return to that life. We prevailed, although a few NPCs died during the melee. Some tridents and a net were added to our arsenal, although we cut up the net in order to fashion a crude rude so the chimney in the ceiling above could be explored by our sneaky type.

Pressing on, we were attacked a second time by yet another band of sahaugin while crossing a narrow fjord. The fight whittled down our already meager resources, along with more dead NPCs. We added more tridents and another net to our equipment pool, and our fighter donned some seashell armor taken from a dead sea devil. It is the equivalent of banded armor. Perhaps our biggest score was the discovery of a spellbook looted from the dead sea devil wizard. It is waterproof, of course, and has a read magic spell that cycles through several languages on the page in real time! What this means for us is our rogue/wizard will now be able to cast his arcane spells that he was previously unable to use.
As we continued to work our way through the endless tunnels of the Underdark, we caught a break when we discovered an illusory wall that concealed a small, worked crawlspace that led to some stairs going up. We rested and recovered on the stairs, and then made the 1/4 mile trek up them until we reached a landing that branched off and continued up.
Battle Armor Little Mermaid! 💜 Sans wig unfortunately. I got a lot of Aquaman but oh well, it was still fun to wear! #cosplay #cosplayer #dallasfandays #dallascomiccon #littlemermaid #mermaid #armor #disney #aquaman
Sahaugin shell armor?
At the top of the stairs, we found the remains of an ancient city that was buried below ground and mostly covered by a lake. The side passages at the landing led to areas that were sealed off, as they were obviously below water level. So we entered the lake, swimming to and from stalactite and stalagmite alike, until we reached the top of a tower that was poking up from near the middle of the lake.

There wasn't much to see in the tower, as the lower levels were magically blocked (to keep the water out). In the one interesting room we found, the statues therein turned out to be very helpful! The warrior, rogue, and arcane caster statues are some sort of automated trainers, so the fighter and the hybrids were able to train up to level 2. The cleric and my druid were not so fortunate, but every little bit helps, so not to worry.

We left the tower and found a passageway that led upwards. A tower rising up through the ground alongside a river was discovered and explored. A pitched battle with many, many goblins was fought and barely survived. Pretty much the only reason we didn't perish was due to the fact that everyone was carrying a dose of healing goo (I think it came from some fungus that one of the dwarves was able to identify and harvest). As we somewhat foolishly continued up, an encounter with a few drow was enough to exhaust our spells and give us reason to leave the structure.
Image result for indiana jones nazis i hate these guys
Drow. I hate these guys.
Our last encounter for the session nearly proved our undoing (again). We entered a cavern complex that was the lair for a tribe of goblinesque barbarians. Soon after we routed a small force of natives, reinforcements arrived from two directions, forcing us down a third passage. And OF COURSE that led to a dead end! Time to hold the narrowest part of the tunnel and make our last stand.

But how did we escape? Well, tucked back at the far end of the room attached to the tunnel was a creature that resembled an earth elemental. The elemental was shacked to a circle of runes on the floor and held by bonds of energy, it appeared. With nothing to lose, we attacked the bonds with our weapons and freed the elemental. It summoned the six of us (one lone dwarf remained out of the original count of 7 NPCs) to its side and whisked us away from certain death, right through the very earth itself!

Turns out the elemental was actually an earth genasi who was captured by the goblin things. He brought us to the hidden refuge of Earth's End, an enclave that is a haven for creatures of the earth and for a few friendly allies. There is no physical passage in or out of the area, so you need natural or magical abilities to move freely through the earth to come and go.

Once we rested up, our host was able to get us directly to the dwarven city of Iltkazar, where we leave off until next time.

We achieved our two main goals: escape captivity and survive the perils of the Underdark. I imagine we will be able to get portaled or safely escorted to the surface from here. There is a total of 66sp and 30gp in gems to share, along with the armor and weapons we liberated from drow, sahaugin, and goblin. Isn't it funny how a few simple upgrades make your 1st level characters feel almost invincible? Well, when you go from no armor to chain shirts and banded mail, and from light picks and clubs to tridents, a rapier, daggers, a shortbow and hand crossbows, you sure feel a lot more secure. There is also a magic cloak and three potions to identify.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Superior Models 1/108th scale Tanks and AFVs

After several years of searching, I finally secured a couple of WWII Russian tanks from Superior Models. They are 1/108th scale (1 inch = 9 feet) so pretty much 15mm (which is 1/107th scale). They go back a long way, originally created under the Comet brand during WWII as identification models for the U.S. military. Comet sold the molds to Superior in 1962, and then Superior sold them to Custom Cast sometime in the 1970s. Quality Castings picked them up in the 1980s, and sold them to 19th Century Miniatures in 2002. Whew! You can still buy them from 19th Century here, but they are newer, refined versions of the original castings. Plus you can also buy post-WWII AFVs if that's more your speed.

First up is the KV-1b (5200). The T-34 usually gets all the attention when it comes to WWII Soviet tanks, due to many factors: ease of production, speed, armor, and firepower. Early on, the KV-1 was more than a match for the German light and medium tanks with their small caliber and short-barreled main guns. In the end, the T-34s advantages (half the weight, twice the speed, same or better main gun, lower cost) doomed the KV series. But they served their roles well, and should not be overlooked.

Next is the T-34/85 (5206), which was very poorly packed for mailing and did not arrive intact, with only a small piece of the main gun barrel rattling around in the box. I'm going to attempt field repairs in my depot and replace the missing barrel with small brass tubing. I'll post that as a follow-up once it happens. When the Soviets upgraded the main gun from 76mm to 85mm, the T-34s could now engage Tigers and Panthers from the front with an increased chance for success. The German tanks still had the advantage of range, but if you have the numbers, speed, and maneuverability of the T-34, you can close the gap and overwhelm your foe.

And this is what they look like side-by-side. I'll have to dig through the lead pile for some Heritage Panzertroops 15mm tanks and take a comparison shot.

Background information was obtained from the following sources:
Alnavco's History of Superior Models (PDF)
87thscaleinfo's Authenticast page (has the Superior product list and codes)
TMP's info pages (Comet, Superior, Custom Cast, Quality Castings, 19th Century Miniatures)
19th Century Miniatures (their Quality Castings 15mm AFVs)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New FR Campaign = New Characters to Paint!

In my last post, we wrapped up our long-running FR campaign. A brand-new FR campaign is spooling up, which means I get to pick and paint a new batch of characters for us to field against the DM's never-ending hordes of monsters. Once again, I'm going with Reaper minis to represent our band of intrepid explorers. Our new adventuring party consists of a druid, fighter, cleric, sorcerer, and a rogue. Here's some WIP pics, and my apologies for the quality. They are quick snaps from my phone.
with flash
no flash
My druid is the first 3E/3.5 tree-hugger since we started playing this ruleset. I can't recall the last time anyone played a druid, so I'm pretty sure we're talking way back in our 2E days. I'm really looking forward to this! At first I was going with 03484 Karlov Diedrich, Wizard because he just looks like a druid to me. I ended up choosing 03201 Damian Helthorne, Bandit because my druid serves Mielikki, and her druids are allowed to use the same weapons and armor available to rangers. So yeah, he looks more like a ranger than a druid, but that's my aim. Oh, and he's Aasimar, just to be different.

Dino is playing a human fighter, so I picked 03317 Kale Nolan, Heroic Warrior for him. He's been sitting on the lead pile, based and primed, because I knew I would use him sooner or later. His skin is too yellowish right now, but I'll work on that. Don't want him to look like a pirate with scurvy!

Matt is the medic this time, and 03365 Argonnite, Elf Cleric will be his half-drow cleric. I love the fact that Argonnite came with a weapons sprue so you could choose from a sword, mace, or bow. Maybe I'll stick a small spider on the base, just to remind him Lolth is not happy about a male half-drow cleric running around.

Steve wins the Best Prepared Dude Award for this campaign. Not only did he pick out and purchase 03381 Satheras, Elf Warlock on his own, he even told me he wants me to paint his sorcerer in a more neutral palette. That foiled my plans to paint him up in lovely shades of lavender and salmon.

The rogue pictured is 03062 Darnath, Male Elf Thief. That was before Craig decided his rogue is going to be a gnome, so I narrowed my choices down to 02959 Marius Burrowell, Gnome Thief or 03099 Klaus Copperthumb, Dwarf Thief. Klaus just arrived in the mail yesterday, so he'll be getting based and primed this weekend.

Oh, and I'm also working on some critters for Ned! Don't want the DM to feel left out. I'll post those WIPs next time.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Forgotten Realms Campaign - End of An Era

A couple of weeks ago, The Dudes traveled to New Orleans to celebrate my 50th birthday in grand fashion. We lodged in a house that was the definition of character (see it here on airbnb) and was within walking distance of the French Quarter, although Uber rides were cheap and convenient. For touristy stuff, we did the airboat ride (Airboat Adventures) and visited the National WWII Museum. Thursday night was our big bar-hopping night, where we started off with a great dinner at Cafe Amelie and then hit 3-4 bars to listen to live music and partake of adult beverages. Best venue of the evening had to be The Maison, where we were treated to a rollicking set by Dysfunktional Bone.

We had a slow start to our Friday, but hey, we were on vacation. We decided to get started on our adventure, which involved us traveling to the Astral Plane to seek out and destroy the Lich Queen of the Githyanki. Real ho-hum stuff, right? OK, so let me back up and do some 'splaining. We rolled these characters up back in 2009. Yep, you read that right, 2009 - this party has been rolling for eight years! Of course, we only play a handful of times each year due to the fact four of us live here in Washington and the other two down the coast in California.

Between levels 1 and 20, we managed to end up quite high on the Red Wizards of Thay shit list. Oh, there were others too, but we had a full-blown Hatfields vs McCoys going on with the Thayans. They would stalk us, ambush and harass us, and we would repay the favor with forays into Thay, raid their caravans, and finally end up part of a massive drow raid that descended upon Thaymount and did major damage to the leadership caste. I think they might be holding a grudge for that escapade.

And then strangely enough, an emissary from the Red Wizards reached out to us because they wanted our help. Wait, what? Faster than you can channel your inner Adm. Ackbar (It's a trap!), we learned that Szass Tam, the Grand High Poobah of the Red Wizards, was scheming with the Lich Queen of the Githyanki to launch some sort of coordinated strike against Faerun. The other zulkirs weren't too keen on this solo endeavour by Tam, so they thought enlisting us (and the Red Sword) would put a stop to the plans without betraying themselves to Tam.

So that's how we ended up on the Astral Plane inside the Lich Queen's palace, fighting powerful Githyanki, gith/dragon hybrids, a legless Githyanki warlock, a two-headed red dragon (!), the Lich Queen herself, and some guy named Szass Tam. I'm pleased to report we were able to vanquish our foes in what was some of our best gaming to date. At least it was great, right up until the point where Szass appeared. We failed to destroy him (and yes, we had his phylactery) and my wizard/archmage Garrity was snuffed out by a Sphere of Annihilation. Luckily, our resourceful son of Moradin was able to do some of that cleric shit and bring me back. So Tam escapes and lives to scheme another day, but we did destroy the Lich Queen (permanently) and thwart Tam's plans of conquest.

What next? Well, for all intents and purposes, our high-level campaign is over. Ned reserves the right to continue this campaign down the road, but for now we are already looking ahead to starting over. I've compiled a small stack of character templates so once we determine our ability scores and hash out who plays what this time around, I'll be good to go. And I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to play this time around - a class I've never played before! Should be fun.

I'm sure Ned could write a dissertation on running high/epic level campaigns, but we would all agree that 20th level encounters take much, much longer. Buffs, immunities, SR, dispells, counterspells, the list goes on and on. I'll write my own thesis on the archmage sometime, but his high arcana abilities were very flexible and a lot of fun to use. Huge thanks to Ned for all the time and sweat he expended on the campaign, and for putting up with all the shit and shenanigans we put him through.

Of course the best part of the campaign is simply spending time with my best friends. We've rolled a lot of bones, drank a lot of beers, gave each other copious amounts of shit, and I love them like brothers. Wouldn't have it any other way.

PS - phylactery is apparently a hard word to pronounce for most of my party. And since they know me all too well, even if they wanted to pronounce it correctly, they butchered it just to stick it to me. Dickheads.