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!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolutions in Miniature

I'm not one of those people who makes resolutions every year. But I think I need to make a few hobby-related goals for the coming year.

I need to keep posting on this here blog. The past eight or so months have been enjoyable for me, and I like how writing and thinking about writing keeps the gray matter working. I have a list of articles to finish, and others to start. Hopefully I can keep everyone interested, and maybe even attract a few more followers and/or lurkers.

My collection has grown over the last year, but my list of unfinished projects has grown at an even faster rate. I need to work more on finishing what I start, rather than shelving one project in favor of another. I need to take a good, long look at my unfinished projects and prioritize them for the coming year.

Hopefully I'll be able to share more finished projects in 2011. Blogging about it should help me keep myself accountable, and I know my DM will always leave comments for me when I'm slacking.

Happy New Year!


What happens in Thay, stays in Thay

Had a great time gaming with my mates on Tuesday! It's always a challenge to get the whole crew together, especially with two living in sunny California. We play in a 3.5 Forgotten Realms campaign, with the party consisting of a dwarven cleric, human paladin, human ranger, halfling rogue, and an elven wizard (yours truly). We all started the night at 7th level. Once we got rolling, things happened pretty fast.

We warmed up with three battles: 8 ogres, 6 spiders, and 1 fell troll. The troll was NASTY! It was a tough, long battle that we finally won, but not before the ranger was killed. We were able to bring him back at our next stop, which pointed us in the direction we needed to go.

Without boring you with too much detail, a couple of the party members have some family history and background that has caused the Red Wizards of Thay to take an interest in our hardy band of adventurers. There have been several memorable encounters in past sessions, to say the least.

We head to Aglarond's Tannath Mountains, using the Watchwall as our jumping off point for an incursion into Thay. We are seeking a gnoll NPC known as Kurga Bloodfang (I think I got that right). Our strategy is to use forged passes and act like we belong in Thay. So of course everything goes to hell in a handbasket on the first encounter with a Thayan patrol when our paladin decides to deviate from the "low profile" plan.

The patrol is low-level, so it was not a hard fight. Of course a missing patrol will eventually be noticed, so now we are under a time crunch. We manage to keep our cool and use our passes (and a bribe) to get past a patrol of gnolls. We eventually track down Bloodfang and follow him until we are ready to attack.

Our goal was to capture Bloodfang (he has info on our ranger's missing father), but I guess speak with dead will need to be used to pump him for information. We defeat Bloodfang and his minions and flee, but are tracked by some Thayan aerial scouts.

Right as we are about to exit Thay, a small army appears between us and freedom. Wow, talk about a bummer! It was a scene right out of LoTR, with the forces of Mordor surrounding the good guys in front of the Black Gate. Of course when things look this grim, something just has to happen...right? Right. We are teleported out of harm's way by our benefactors, who have a lot riding on the success of our mission.

All in all, a fun and exciting session, and I can't wait to see what happens next time we play!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

If Scrooge painted lead... would he stretch his hobby dollar? Most of us don't have unlimited hobby budgets, so I'm always looking for ways to save a buck here and there.

Many blogs and lead painting/collecting websites have great ideas. One of my favorite blogs is Santa Cruz Warhammer, and even though it is mostly a Warhammer 40K/Fantasy blog, it is still full of great articles, ideas, and advice. There's the Barter Bucket, where folks can swap their models and bitz and help each other out. Another neat idea is the Super Blog Chain Giveaway, which is pretty much gamers paying it forward and giving away free stuff. And articles like Warhammer on a Budget are always appreciated.

I started using eBay to help my father-in-law sell some toys for the widow of one of his friends. In order to establish my feedback ratings, I began to buy and sell some miniatures. Since I am a stay-at-home parent, and this is a technically a hobby, I decided I could buy and sell on eBay as a way to fund my lead habit. The easy part is buying, of course! The hard part is buying inexpensive lots that can be re-sold for a profit. But if you are willing to put in the time scouring listings, it can be done.

I think the ins and outs of eBaying is an article in and of itself, so I'll go into that deeper on another entry in the future.

A look on my workbench reveals the miser in me at work. There's my Ott-Lite, which I picked up at Michaels using one of their weekly "save 40% or 50% on one item" coupons. Some folks over on the Reaper forums have raved about the small pre-cut, pre-sanded wooden disks from Michaels (6 for a buck) and used those for bases. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for those next time I go there.

I have several varieties of basing materials that I paid actual cash money for, but one day I found a new source of basing stuff - for free, even! While waiting for the school bus with the kids one morning, I looked down at the curb. There was a storm drain, and in the gutter right in front of the drain was the free basing materials!

An accumulation of silt, sand, and small rocks was just sitting there, waiting for me to scoop it up and bring it home. Once home, I washed it with some liquid dish soap (to remove all the oils and icky stuff) and let it dry. Once dry, I sifted it through a fine mesh strainer. The smallest stuff is great for general-purpose rock/sand/dirt on your bases. Then you have your teeny, tiny rocks which are perfect for adding smallish rocks to your bases or terrain. Lastly I have big rocks, good for big rocks or small boulders in 25/28mm scale.

When I thin paints or otherwise need to add single drops of water to something, I've had great results with my used Honey container. This one has a flip top, and dispenses nice, even drops of water every time. Just clean it thoroughly before you start using it!

Since there are kids in the house, and kids get sick, we've ended up with a bunch of small cups and "test tubes" for dispensing liquid medicine. The cups are great because they can be used for small batches of custom paint blends, and the "test tubes" have markings for measuring out small amounts of liquids. So if you need to be precise when creating your custom blends, they come in handy.

I use small plastic tubs to keep basing materials in. Simply apply glue to the base and dip it into the desired basing material, let the excess drop back into the tub, and you're done.

Glass spice containers are handy for storing basing materials, paintbrushes, and other items.

Right now, I have a used-up Vallejo paint dropper sitting on my desk that is about 75% clean. I should be able to scrub out the remaining residue and re-use it for custom paint mixes.

So there you have it! I've shared some of my penny-pinching tips with you, the Faithful 13. If anyone, be they a follower or lurker, has any tips they would like to share, please do so.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bring out yer lead!

Has it really been over six months since I last listed minis for sale on eBay? Why yes...yes it has. Anyhow, I just listed 23 lots of Ral Partha 11-series miniatures that end on Saturday night. They are all in outstanding condition (almost all appear to have never felt the tender caress of a sable brush, except for the snarling band of kobolds - and their paint jobs are so poor, no wonder they have their thongs in a twist). Now's your chance to augment your forces or fill holes in your RP collection without paying the outrageous prices some sellers feel necessary to charge.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Walking Dead - Season One Finale Final Thoughts

Is it over already??? Season One of The Walking Dead is on the books after a mere six episodes. I enjoy watching TV, but usually in the sense that I have it on when I'm cooking, folding laundry, things of that nature. I like having matches on FSC going in the background when I'm upstairs on the computer, NHL games in progress when I'm cooking dinner, and random movies and shows on as time and attention span permits. I like Law & Order, Pawn Stars, Mad Men, Rescue Me, Breaking Bad, Mythbusters, Sons of Anarchy, and Top Chef to name a few.

But I really don't follow any shows or series on a regular basis. The last series I was in to, one that I followed week in and week out was The Shield. I looked forward to every new episode, and hated when one season ended and I had to wait for many months until the new one started. And of course I was bummed when it ended once and for all.

Which brings us back to The Walking Dead. My wife and I watched all six episodes, eagerly awaiting to see what would unfold on Sunday night. So yes, I am left with that "ah crap, it's going to be a long time until next fall" feeling if indeed TWD carries on with Season Two.


Proceed no further if you have not seen "TS-19" also known as the Season One finale.

Good, you've seen it or are dying of curiosity! I was left with two questions in the wake of the destruction of the CDC. Questions One: What would YOU do, given the choice of a quick, painless death or continuing to live the day-to-day, hour-to-hour existence the survivors currently lead? I'd like to think I would keep on trucking, trying to find more survivors, find a way to establish a toehold somewhere, figure out a way to stay alive for the long run.

Question Two: What did Dr. Jenner whisper in Rick's ear? That should keep me thinking until Season Two rolls around. And it had BETTER roll around, you hear me AMC? Maybe it's something as basic as where to go to find some supplies - a cache of food, water, fuel. Or where the next closest CDC facility is, one that isn't rigged to self-destruct? Is it something else, a clue to the event's origin?

Well, I can only hope that Season Two is as entertaining as Season One. Well played, AMC, well played.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"And I thought they smelled bad on the outside..."

The collectors with deep pockets have come through once again! A couple auctions ended on eBay tonight for some West End Games miniatures for the d6 Star Wars game. Pictured at left is the Tauntaun (40508), which went for $81.00 USD. And topping that was the AT-PT (40505) for $102.50 USD.

I've always liked the WEG Star Wars line, even though I don't own any myself. Must be the Star Wars fanboy in me. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure the only Star Wars minis I own are two or three blisters from WoTC's line, back when I briefly roamed the halls in Renton.

Well, I guess these prices will give me second thoughts if I ever decide to take up collecting Star Wars lead.

(Photo: Stuff of Legends)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Romans are coming! The Romans are coming!

There are SO many ways to describe my most recent acquisition, I don't know where to begin. "What was I thinking?" is pretty much the winner by default, but you could also go with "The old man's lost it for sure this time!" as well as "He needs that 25mm Roman army like he needs more units for his barely-started Dark Angels army that is 10 years old!"

The answer is it was too good of a bargain to pass up, or at least that is what I keep telling myself. I mean, how many times do you pick up an entire army for $1.01??? Technically it cost me $13.01 when you add in the shipping. Still, that's a total of 149 miniatures for $13.01, or just under a mere .09 cents per mini. One other bidder also plunked down a 1.01 bid, one second after mine.

Now keep in mind the small fact here that I DO NOT PLAY WAB OR HISTORICALS OF ANY SORT, and you may begin to catch a glimpse of my lead-induced madness.

I'm thinking that I might try my hand at painting up this army, and then turn around and sell it. Hmm...we shall see. First, I need to do some research and see if I can determine the various manufacturers of the various units. The only ones I can ID for sure are the Ral Partha Auxilia.

Now if I can just reassure my DM that I really will bang out a bunch of my long-awaited D&D-related projects before I launch into the Romans, all will be well in my little lead least until the next bargain that I can't pass up surfaces. Somebody stop me!

(Gladiator photo: Reuters)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ral Partha Molydeus - The Gold Standard?

$228.28 USD - that was the final price on a MOC Ral Partha Molydeus (11-652) that sold on eBay today. Quite impressive for a single miniature, no? For comparison, I sold one a year ago for $150, and that was for a model that was assembled but never primed or painted. Here's a pic of that one for those of you unfamiliar with this particular mini (the small fella on the right is a human-sized figure for comparison).

Now I know there are some incredibly rare miniatures out there such as The Citadel Giant, but for the most part, those seem to be rare due to limited production runs or only available via mail-in offers, things of that nature. The RP Molydeus is part of a mass-produced and widely circulated product line. Or is it??? You can always find plenty of loose and carded models from the 11-series on eBay at any given time, but
good luck finding Molydeus.

Did he suffer from poor sales when initially released, and as a result, was there a big pile of them that got melted down when RP lost the TSR/D&D rights? Or did this particular mini actually have a limited production run? I'm not an expert on RP corporate lore so I couldn't begin to tell you the particulars the the 11-series. Maybe someone out there is, or knows where to find such info...

Just think, 10+ years ago you could have ponied up $9-10 per Molydeus, and turned around to sell them for $200+ today. Or picked up a couple of D&D Woodgrains...oh never mind. Where's the DeLorean when you need it?