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?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Asheron's Call - A Look Back

It was just after Thanksgiving in 1999 when I took the plunge into MMORPGs via Asheron's Call, better known as AC. I ended up playing AC for six years before walking away from it. I've always thought it was a great game and look back fondly upon my time spent roaming around Dereth. Even though it was not as popular as EQ and UO, I thought it was the best of the bunch. Why?

1) NO ZONING! I tried EQ, and was instantly annoyed by the constant need to zone. Bor-ing. In AC, I could run from one end of Dereth to the other without zoning once. And that included entering towns. Adventuring outdoors in the wide-open spaces was a lot of fun for me over the years.

2) Monthly Updates! Well, it probably wasn't always monthly, but pretty darn close. It was always a treat to see what new content was added - dungeons, items, game tweaks, etc. It was these updates that brought "nerf" into my gaming lexicon. The moans and groans from various players over nerfs both real and perceived made for some great forum reading and debating.

3) Player-Crafted Items! To be fair, I can't tell you if EQ had anything like this in the game or not, but I seem to recall early on it wasn't available. In AC, players could do a lot, ranging from the mundane (adding dye to color clothes and armor) to the functional (crafting armor & weapons). I was even inspired to do a Covenant Armor write-up that is still live over on AC Vault.

My oldest and most favorite character was my Sho swordsman by the name of Sun Khat-Zan on the Leafcull server. Since I usually played late at night (Pacific time) I spent the bulk of my time solo. That might explain why it took me almost the entire six years of my AC career to reach level 126 on Sun. Shortly after that, I hung up my sword and walked away, never to return.

Despite my affinity for solo play, I met some great people in-game: Mahret, Wolfenstein, Grimbold, Suede Mage, and a host of other characters and players I am forgetting at the moment. Lots of fun in chat, the back and forth banter, and people helping each other out so everyone had fun.

The folks I never understood were the hard-core Red Dots, or PKers. They seemed to think that simply because they were PKers, they were better than everyone else. PKing can be fun, because no AI can replace the cunning and unpredictable human mind. I get that. I don't mean to disparage all Red Dots, because there were a few who were cool - guys who could kick ass in PK, didn't talk stupid amounts of smack, and didn't think they were better than Carebears. The rest? Good riddance.

So yeah, AC was a lot of fun. If I didn't move on to EQII with my D&D cronies, I'm reasonably sure I would have kept on ACing. I'm glad the game is still alive and kicking, and read that the August event was the 100th content update in the game - so a big grats to the devs for reaching that milestone.

I need to poke around and see if I can round up any additional screencaps. In the one above, Sun is sporting one of the first fad combos - the Mattekar hide coat and Olthoi helm (it's very purpley!). In that shot, Sun is somewhere in his early to mid 30's level-wise. The good old days, indeed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Captain, there be DragonTooth giants!

How many of you recall reading Dragon magazine back in the day and some ad caught your fancy? For me, it was always the ones from DragonTooth miniatures. They typically featured a striking model, such as a dragon, giant, or griffin. There was just something very cool about these models - the sculpts just popped with personality.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, young men without paper routes did not have a lot of disposable income to throw around at whatever minis they might have lusted after at the moment. Allowance usually lasted long enough to make the trek down the hill to the variety store or 7-Eleven, to be spent on 1/72nd scale models, Topps baseball cards, or health food such as candy bars, Slurpees, or Hostess baked goods. So all that cool D&D gear, ranging from modules to minis, was passed by, relegated to the "one day when I have lots of money I'll buy that (fill in the blank)." Heh...

Yesterday, a couple of my childhood desires finally arrived in my mailbox:

DragonTooth GI-5 Horned Hill Giant

Now this big fella means business! He's a thick, beefy bruiser, and those horns on his head just add to the overall mean, nasty look of this mini. His face is expressive as all get-up, and whatever loot he's dragging along in that sack was no doubt gained at the end of his massive club.

Dragontooth GI-6 Big Meg and her stewpot

OMG, Meg is so freaking ugly and I love her! Lumpy, bumpy, and bug-eyed, Meg has it all. She is using her giant ladle as a truncheon, no doubt trying to add another victim to her stewpot. The only piece missing is the stewpot handle, but I should be able to fashion one out of wire or greenstuff, no problem.

Now the part that makes me really giggle is the price. The DragonTooth giants were part of a 13 giant lot that cost me (drum roll, please) $39.00 - $29 for the lead and $10 for shipping. Hey, that's a whopping $3 per giant! When you take into consideration that a GI5 recently sold for $32.31 and a GI6 sold for $56.00, I like to think I did OK on this acquisition in a Gordon Gekko greed-is-good sort of way.

Also included in the aforementioned lot are 5 Ral Partha giants, 5 Grenadier giants, and 1 Citadel giant (FF12). I finally added the RP 01-108 Titan to my collection, complete with original shield and longspear. That one usually runs $20+ so I'm happy about that as well. And all five of the Grenadier giants are keepers, because I have yet to pick up any of the Giant's Club models until now. The Stone Giant (3502), Frost Giants (3503), Forest Giant (3504), and Two-Headed Giant (3509) make welcome additions to my legions of giants. I already own 4 of the RP giants and the Citadel Mountain Giant, so they will be resold in upcoming eBay auctions, and the rest are for my personal collection. I hate to sound like I'm gloating, but HOT DAMN that was a score!

To bring me back down to earth, I didn't win a book I was bidding on - a copy of Ed Konstant's The Book of Fantasy Miniatures. It's a vintage reference work I've been trying to add to my library for some time now.

Well, you win some, you lose some, no? I may have lost the book, but I gained a pair of Tom Loback's miniature masterpieces.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanks for the memories, Dave.

Dave Niehaus, the voice of the Seattle Mariners, passed away on Wednesday. I used to listen to Dave call Mariners games on my trusty old AM radio in the late 70's and early 80's. He was one of the great ones, for sure, and he will be missed.

Back in the day, before ESPN and internet sports coverage, guys like Dave were your connection to the game. I can still hear his voice in my head, calling another meaningless game when the Mariners were a young expansion team. Pitches were "lowwwwwwwwwwwwwww and away" and most of the players had nicknames. Glenn Abbott pitching to Bob Stinson was "The Tall Arkansan" throwing to "Scrapiron." Play this clip of him calling Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS, but close your eyes and just listen. Magic!

One day, hopefully before I die, the M's will win the World Series and the headlines will read "My, oh my!" Baseball has lost a broadcasting icon.

Thanks, Dave.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Zombies ate my Tiger!

I stopped by American Eagles today in search of some blue spray paint that is reasonably close to Ultramarine Blue so my son can finally paint his Whirlwind. I settled on a small can of Tamiya Brilliant Blue (TS-44) and some Testors Dullcote to kill the glossy finish.

But even before I arrived at the shop, I knew I was going to make a purchase for myself. I think it must be the Flames of War talk over on Dave Taylor Miniatures that got me going, and I knew I needed some 1/72 armor to satisfy my craving. I was hoping to get a Pzkfw III or IV and possibly a T-34, but the Mk.III and IV kits were around $20 and the only Russian armor was a KV-I, also around $20. I finally settled on a Fujimi 1/76 Tiger I, and since it is a late war variant, I will prepare it for service on the Eastern front.

So while I was working on Mr. Tiger, I was also putting together some GW zombies for my son. And I gotta say, I like these models! The first one has a bunch of exposed guts, and is using a leg for a club - heh. The next one is armed with a polearm. They both have neat heads - very expressive - and I wish I was going to be painting them instead of my boy! Since all the parts are mix and match, it's not hard to give each one a bit of personality. Legs for weapons, heads lolling to the side, guts for all to see - if you are into the slightly campy zombie look and need some zombies for your game (any game), I'd look into this set (GW Vampire Counts Zombie Regiment).

And just because I'm a lead whore, I picked up two packs of RP 35mm metal bases (99-114) that were 50% off. Seems the folks at Eagles are in the midst of a long-overdue inventory, and there was a bunch of lead marked down by half. I should be able to use these for ogres/trolls/demons, etc. and at the bargain price of 8 for $4.50, what the hell.

I'll get some WIP pics posted soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crystal Brush 2011

Wow...$10,000 for painting a miniature! Now this is going to be interesting, especially when you take this rule into consideration:

"a) Judging will be by panel selected by CoolMiniOrNot and Adepticon, which shall account for 50% of the score. 50% of the score shall be determined by popular vote on between April 1st and April 3rd."

I wonder how the painters feel about that. I guess if you have a lot of fans, you like it. But will it just degenerate into a high school popularity contest? Full rules can be seen here.

Someone is going to walk away with $10K for PAINTING A cool is that?

Supporting My FLGS

Saturday was my oldest son's 8th birthday, so he and I paid a visit to our FLGS, otherwise known as Ernie's Games. My boy was flush with some gift certificates and cash, and it was more or less burning a hole in his pocket.

Mr. Frodo (his nickname, natch) decided he was lacking undead, so in the spirit of the season, he picked up some skeletons AND some zombies, as well as the Angel of Death. He was also looking for a dragon, but Reaper's Lavarath was $50, so he's holding out for something a bit less pricey.

I can only imagine what it's like to be 8 and making a trip a shrine like Ernie's. Walls of miniatures, display cases with painted armies, tables with terrain, minis being painted, and of course all the books and games, too. I should mention at this point that Mr. Frodo also picked up a can of Silly String, and ran around with his older sister decorating our backyard.

It took me back to when I was a lad of 12 or so, and a magical place called USS Enterprise, my first FLGS that used to inhabit the upper mall of Totem Lake Mall. The monochrome modules, AD&D hardbacks, and good old-fashioned LEAD miniatures. There was even a room in back where diehard gamers could huddle around a table and play! Turns out some of my future friends gamed in the back of Enterprise. Now they just keep me around because I'm the only sucker who paints minis for the group ;) Later, I would discover other haunts such as American Eagles (back when they were on Greenwood) and Triple Alliance in downtown Bellevue.

But back to Ernie's and the present. It's gotta be hard to own a brick-and-mortar store these days. Case in point: the Reaper Lavarath dragon miniature. Ernie's price is $50 + tax. Direct from Reaper, the price is $44.49 and you get free shipping. And over on eBay, the lowest price today was $28.92 + 3.49 for shipping. Since I am a frugal bastard by nature, I would opt for the $33 mini off of eBay. So on big-ticket items, it's hard to compete. Now when I need a mini or a couple of paints in a hurry, it's huge to be able to drive a couple of minutes into town, grab what I need, and head back to the workbench. Same goes for my kids, when they want to spend birthday money - it's more fun to go somewhere and browse the shelves and walk away with a purchase in your bag than point and click and wait for the postal carrier to show up next week.

I hope that my little bit of business helps keep Ernie's around, you know? Because I want my kids to have fond memories of toy & game nirvana, just like their old man.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Tragedy of McDeath

"Something wicked this way comes."

Something wicked like a pair of minis that would set you back for over $300 USD if you happen to collect rare Citadel minis!

Check out this auction for King McDeath and this one too for Lady McDeath from the Citadel set The Tragedy of McDeath.

I track a lot of auctions just out of curiosity, usually to see where they end at. When I saw this pair approaching $100 each, I had to start poking around the various lead sites and wikis to find out more about them. The end result is that each time I learn a little bit more about various minis and manufacturers, I feel a little less like I'm just stumbling around in this hobby.

Back to painting. There's a drow warband that MUST be finished by Friday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pro Painted, The Sequel

A couple of months ago, I ranted about painters who describe their work as "Pro Painted" or "Master Painted" when in fact (in my opinion) they are not.

Since then, I have been paying more attention to the various individuals and organizations who sell their painted product, mostly on eBay. For the most part, there are quite a few sellers who produce some really nice minis, and most of those are accurately labeled (tabletop/pro painted/display quality, etc). And then there are a small number of artists who truly can describe their work as professional or master quality. More about that in a minute.

Finally, there are a fair number of sellers who don't live up to their own self-described hype. I see a LOT of paint jobs in and around the solid tabletop level that are touted as pro or master works. Come on, really? One prolific South American outfit has a large selection of minis for sale on a regular basis, but when I see mistakes like clearly visible brush marks, it makes me cringe. And don't get me started on weapons that don't have the ends of the barrels drilled out so they actually look like a lethal projectile weapon, and not a storm bolter that does not appear to have a functioning method for spitting out lead death upon their foes.

I mean, come on, you can't take a minute or two to carefully drill out the end of a firearm? Or file off the rather obvious mold lines? Tell me again why I should pay a premium for your models?

Having said that, I can't blame these guys for doing what they do. They churn out a LOT of painted models and plenty of people pay good money for them. The one seller I single out above has almost 9,000 transactions and a rating of over 99%, so they must be doing something right!

And then there are auctions like this one. Here is a painter who can truly and honestly claim to be a Pro Painter. If my work can keep improving and one day even be a fraction as good as Alexi-Z, I would be thrilled. Take a look at her CMON gallery because there are some totally sick pieces to look at.

Oh, and the icing on the cake? The proceeds are earmarked for charity, so it's not always about just gettin' paid. Another example of a member of the minis/painting community stepping up and being a good egg.

Well, enough of that. I need to take some pics so I can complete my upcoming post where I discuss the great 25mm vs 28mm debate.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'm a pinball wizard...

Well OK, not really. But I still think pinball games are a good way to kill some time and quarters. We were vacationing in Seaside, OR last month and my boys wanted to play some games in the Funland Arcade so of course I said yes.

They played a racing game, a motorcycle sim (the tilting bike was a bit too much for them I think), and a couple others. And then they saw the row of shiny, happy pinball machines! My eldest son (8) glued himself to The Lord of the Rings, and my younger son (6) took a liking to Pirates of the Caribbean. I was pleased that they thought it was fun - you know, a game with a moving ball, buttons that you must press at just the right time to hit the aforementioned ball - because it is such a departure from Nintendo DS, console games, and computer games.

Seeing their faces conjured up memories of my own time spent playing various pinball and arcade games as a kid. Granted, I was never a pinball expert, but when the mood struck me, I was always up for a game.

I'm pretty sure I would have earned better grades in college (UW - go Huskies!) had I spent less time gaming in the Space Port arcade on The Ave. But that would have meant less time spent playing Donkey King, Afterburner, Star Wars, Zaxxon, and Crossbow. But come on, did anyone really expect me to actually study when I had an hour or so to kill during the day? Good times, indeed.

So I hope my kids continue the family tradition of playing games, if only to keep them young at heart.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Last post I mentioned I would try to add some WIP shots. I think I need to snap some pics this week of my various unfinished projects, if only to serve as reminders of stuff that needs to be finished! Here's a pic of my drow warband I'm working on:

Reaper Drow War Band

Since this shot, they have been primed and I am working on their skin. I'm going for a more traditional black skin tone, as opposed to some of the really nice dark brown schemes some painters use.

And it looks like the end is near for at least one of my Giant of the Month Club giants! It's a miracle...

My DA scout squad has grown from seven to ten members with the recent additions of two scouts with bolt guns and Sgt. Namaan. If I can keep hammering away here and there, I might actually get a bunch of minis completed in September.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back In The Saddle Again

Right after my last post, I picked up my Dark Angels scouts (5 scouts + 2 snipers) and started painting. Huzzah! It feels good to be painting again.

In addition to working on various units of my DA army, I'm still working on assembling the 20 Dark Eldar warriors so my son and I can play some 40K.

For D&D, I'm trying to hammer out my Giant of The Month Club backlog. That would be one each of fire, frost, stone, and undead/skeletal.

I'll attempt to snap some WIP shots as time permits. We have an abbreviated session coming up next week, so I need to get cracking if I want to bring something new to the table.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mental Roadblock

Sugar honey ice tea! It's been over a month since my last post, so thanks to some gentle prodding from my DM, I'm attempting to re-engage the creative side of my brain. And that would be a good thing, because it's really the only part of my brain that works.

I pretty much went off the painting grid before we took off for our annual family trip to Lake Chelan. And once we got back, I have continued to ignore the many projects sitting on my desk. Having said that, I will note that I helped my apprentice (aka my almost 8-year-old son) assemble the first unit in his 40K Space Marine army: a 10-man Tactical squad of Ultramarines and a Land Speeder. I also put together a couple of ruins, and started building some Dark Eldar warriors so we can play an intro scenario.

Taking a backseat to 40K are a trio of Reaper skeletal warriors (Barrow Wardens), seven Drow raiders (also by Reaper), and my Giant of the Month Club, which is soon to be four unfinished members strong. That, unfortunately, is just the tip of my unfinished projects iceberg.

I've also been totally idle on peddling my extra minis via eBay, to add a little salt to my other wounds.

To help inspire me, I've been cruising the Reaper forums and CMON. What I really need to do is just sit down and paint. Inspiration helps, but it doesn't get any paint on the lead. Must...focus! Wish me luck.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Remembering Mikey

My brother Michael died eight years ago today. When we were kids, Mikey taught me how to play games - checkers, chess, Avalon Hill board games, and a myriad of pen & paper RPGs. I fondly remember game boards being upended by the sore loser of the moment (we shared those fairly equally), but I can now appreciate all the strategies and tactics my brother shared with me those many years ago.

Mikey took up D&D again with me and my gaming cronies in the year or so before he died. Of course, my cronies were all Mikey's friends and classmates before they were mine, so he pretty much fit right in, just like old times.

The last character Mikey ran was a human wizard, if I recall correctly. I think I have the character sheet around here somewhere - I'll have to dig around a bit and see if I can round it up. Anyhow, to represent his character, Mikey chose the following miniature from my collection:

RP 3-stage wizard

I guess the paint job on this mini is at least 10 years old - I had recently been working with inks and washes for the first time, so you can see the results for yourself. His clothes and cloak turned out decent, but not his yellow garb. And the skin-tone ink makes his face look blotchy - oops. But what I remember most about this mini is how Mikey described it. "He's NOT wearing a fez - he's really wearing a traditional pointy wizard's hat. You just can't see the top half of it because it exists only in the astral plane."

Thanks for a lifetime of gaming memories, and also for being my big brother. If you were still around, I think you would have liked watching your oldest nephew paint minis, and had fun playing D&D with both your nephews and your little brother.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Giant of the Month Club - June

Well now I've gone and done it...I didn't finish my frost giant from May, and now here it is halfway through June, and I'm STILL trying to wrap up the last few details to get that one in the bag. Oh yeah, and work on this month's project, a fire giant (also known as Ral Partha 02-934 Barbarian Giant).

If I can keep my other major distraction (a seven-member drow war band) from interfering too much, I'll see if I can reign in my giant project and get that back under control.

Procrastination is the tool of Orcus! Don't be a tool. Unless you could actually BE the Wand of Orcus. I might make an exception for that.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Been There, Done That

I feel Robert Green's pain. Green was in goal today for England, and he made a terrible mistake and let a bad goal in. Good for the U.S., bad for Green & England. I'll take the point and hope we beat Slovenia and Algeria to advance to the next round.

I've been a football/soccer goalkeeper for 32 years and counting. If I tallied up the number of bad goals I've allowed in over three decades, it wouldn't be pretty. But Green's gaffe and Kasey Keller's recent blunder against DC United show that even the pros have bad moments. Granted, I've never blown a save in a World Cup match, but trust me, a glaring error by the keeper in any league isn't fun.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Today's Rant: "Pro Painted"

Am I the only one who rolls his eyes whenever I see yet another eBay listing for miniatures that are allegedly "Master Painted" and/or "Pro Painted"???

Look, I'm willing to cut the sellers who don't know anything about minis a little slack - from their view, anyone who can paint something that small must be a pro, right? Not everyone has a steady enough hand and decent enough brush control to paint the eyes and other fine details on the typical 25/28mm figure.

But enough already! There are way too many people selling their minis that are tabletop quality AT BEST (and sometimes quite worse) who tout their work as Pro. To be quite honest, I've never paid a premium for a miniature because it was painted by someone else. That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy displaying a truly Pro Painted mini by Jen Haley or Derek Schubert, etc. but I buy minis that I am going to paint.

Time to ratchet the egos down a notch, people.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Are you ready for some FUTBOL?

World Cup 2010 kicks off on Friday June 11th! I am primed and ready to spend the next month watching the best footballers in the world do their thing in South Africa. First up for the U.S. is the English juggernaut on June 12th, with most pundits predicting a victory for England. I am hopeful to prove the pundits wrong, because I know the U.S. lads are capable of great things (see their 2-0 victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup for example). But my optimism is tempered by their ability to implode (see their 3-2 loss to Brazil in the same Confederations Cup final after going up 2-0 for example).

Advancing out of group play is not a sure thing for the U.S. this time around - in addition to facing England, we also need to do well against Slovenia (6/18) and Algeria (6/23). As always, it's going to be interesting and entertaining to see how events unfold for each and every team.

Luckily, the games are going to be on in the morning around here, so my World Cup watching won't interfere with my painting schedule, such that it is.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day of Days Remembered

"Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men." - Major Richard Winters, US Army (ret.)

I read in the paper today (yes, some of us grognards still like to get our news in print in addition to using the World Wide Internets) that some "Band of Brothers" vets are working on the Richard Winters Leadership project to honor their former commander.

Just something to think about as we go about our routines on a Sunday that was anything but routine for thousands of soldiers, sailors, and airmen on 6 June 1944.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Green Manalishi (with the Two-Prong Crown)

As previously mentioned, I decided to take a break from fantasy and paint up a Ral Partha BattleTech Atlas. I didn't originally plan on doing any sort of tutorial or step-by-step, but as I went along I found myself taking some WIP photos and work notes, so what the hell, without further ado, I present to you my "How I Stopped Worrying And Started To Paint My Atlas" step-by-step:
Ral Partha Atlas
Hmm, so many colors, so many potential schemes, where does the BattleTech noob start??? The shot above shows my Atlas as it arrived in my mailbox. Should I paint the torso one color, the legs another? Or give the right side one color, the left another? Stripes? Camo? How about sticking with what I know? That will do in a pinch. I decided to go with GW Dark Angels Green for my main color, and since the head of the Atlas reminds me of a skull, GW Bleached Bone it is. BattleTech meets Warhammer 40K. Original? Not very. But it works for me, so we can now get to work.

After a couple of days had gone by, I fished him out of his Simple Green bath, and gave him a good scrubbing. Presto! Almost all of his old paint was gone, with just a couple of tiny stubborn spots clinging on for dear life. I gently scraped away most of them, and now have a clean slate to begin anew with.

First, the basing. I glued him into a RP hex base, and when that dried, I added the spackling paste to fill in the gaps. That was easy enough, because I was going for the level terrain look. The next day, I applied the Elmer's & water wash to the base, and dipped him into the fine-grain basing sand. Once that dried, I applied a second coat of glue wash to seal it. Later that day, I used super glue to attach the two small rocks you see, and that was that.
Ral Partha Atlas
Next, the antennae. The first attempt looked OK, but I decided the wire was too thick. Hmm, I though about stretching a piece of plastic sprue over heat, but decided it would be too brittle, so what else could I use? How about a staple? This worked nicely, so we have a keeper. To finish the antennae, I dipped the ends in super glue about three times to form the smallest antenna end I could manage. Done.

After cleaning up a few stray mold lines and some stubborn flash, it was off to the garage, ending with a nice coat of GW Skull White primer. That dried at least a day and only then did I move on to Phase I of painting. I can hardly wait!
Ral Partha Atlas
To tackle the main body, I started with two thin coats of GW Dark Angels Green (thinned with water). Next, I mixed a 50/50 blend of DA Green and GC Scruffy Green, and drybrushed the hell out of Atlas. I was hoping to mostly catch panel lines, hard edges, and other parts subject to wear and tear. In hindsight, I probably could have added another lighter drybrush to really pick out the edges, but since this was my first 'mech, I didn't want to overdo it.
Ral Partha Atlas
The wrist-mounted weapons were classic GW - paint black, drybrush MC Gunmetal Grey, drybrush GC Silver to pick out highlights. For the feet, I gently drybrushed some MC Flat Earth to simulate mud, and a few highlights of GC Silver for random scuffs that expose metal.
Ral Partha Atlas
The last step was to tackle the skull-like head. I REALLY wanted this to stand out and look menacing and grim. A uniform coat of GW Bleached Bone went on, followed by a wash of 40/40/20 GC Smokey Ink/Water/Future. Next I drybrushed with GC Bone White and then GC Dead White. The eyes next, starting with Black, then GW Red Gore, 50/50 Red Gore+GC Sun Yellow, a highlight of Sun Yellow near the bottom, and a small dot of GC Dead White in each corner. After I sealed the entire model, I went back and used some GC Gloss Varnish to coat the eyes, and hopefully give them a nice sheen.
Ral Partha Atlas
The base was a simple affair: a thin coat of watered-down MC Flat Earth, drybrushed with MC Dark Yellow, drybrushed with GC Dead Flesh, and washed with some thinned black. The rocks were drybrushed with GC Sombre Grey and then GC Stonewall Grey. The edge of the base was last, and I went with GC Filthy Brown.
Ral Partha Atlas
I had a blast painting up my Atlas! It was a fun departure from my normal menu of D&D fare, with the added bonus of firing me up to continue work on my Dark Angels army. If you are looking for a great diversion, I would tell you to paint a BattleTech or CAV 'mech for the fun of it. And if you are a BattleTech player who has yet to paint any of your own 'mechs, stop stalling and pick up a brush! You don't need to field an award-winning lance, just one that you personally painted and are satisfied with.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Storm Wardens charity project!

Looks like a very cool project is in the works amongst the ranks of the 40K community. Sure, the winner will get themselves a sweet army, but the best part is that a worthy organization (Doctors without Borders) gets the proceeds. Talk about win-win scenario!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Flying Tanks?

I just read that the Flying Heritage Collection here in WA has added some WWII armor to their ranks. They will be driving and firing them this Memorial Day weekend!

A T-34, a Hetzer, and a Flak 88. For WWII armor buffs, sounds like a sure thing.

Memorial Day Update: We took the kids and my father-in-law to have a look around. Nice place! The hangar is very clean and well-lit. There are just over a dozen aircraft on display, including what I believe is a full-scale replica of Scaled Composite's SpaceShipOne. We also saw a V-1 and a piloted version of the V-1 next to the ME 163 Komet.

There is also a nose section from a Lancaster - I had no idea it was so skinny! Talk about crowded quarters.

The T-34, Hetzer, and 88s were outside, along with a smattering of WWII vehicles and weapons from the Puget Sound Military Vehicle Collectors Club.

The T-34 demo was a bit of a fiasco, though. It was supposed to start at 12 noon, but was pushed back to 12:10 due to the line of people still waiting to get in. At 12:15, it was pushed back to 12:30. By this time, all three kids had retired to the Kidmobile (our minivan) due to boredom - and I cannot blame them, because I was tired of waiting too.

Finally, around 12:35, the crew climbed into the T-34, fired up the engine, rolled it forward about 20 or 30 feet, rotated the turret, and the announcer said "Ready...Aim...Fire!" - and nothing happened. LOL! But then they did manage to fire off a (blank) round, which was quite loud and impressive. They rolled the tank back into the display position, and that was that. Needless to say, we didn't stick around to see the Hetzer or 88s.

While we were waiting for the T-34 to open fire, I spied a sign on a nearby building that read "ME 262 Project" so I can only assume that would refer to the ME 262 project detailed here. I've always thought the Swallow was a beautiful warbird to look at (although I'm sure our WWII bomber crews would beg to differ).

All in all, a nice way to spend an hour or so looking around at some of my favorite historical pieces of equipment. I'll have to get a few of the pics I snapped posted later tonight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some Finished AD&D Humanoids

Back in January, when I painted up the Reaper minis that are the PCs in our current 3.5 FR campaign, I also finished some RP AD&D gnolls and bugbears.
The duo of gnolls (11-420) should actually be a trio, but the one with upraised arms is missing in action. I'm keeping an eye out for him on eBay, naturally. The pictured pair is armed with a mix of stock RP weapons and some Reaper weapons, as they were not complete when I acquired them.
The bugbears (11-412) are in the same boat as the gnolls - they are also armed with a mix of RP and Reaper weapons.

For me, they represent a modest increase in my painting skills. I am a tabletop-quality painter - I harbor no illusions that my work would earn high praise on CMON - yet at the same time, I'm proud of my latest work, and it gives me hope that with continued practice I can advance my technique even more. Happy painting!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

UFOTW #4 - Unidentified Figure of the Week


This ugly fella has three letters on the bottom of his base: A C and what looks like an A and a T that have been combined - basically an A with a line sticking down.

He's actually kind of a cool mini. I like the tribal vibe, along with the tongue sticking out - who does that, the Maori warriors of New Zealand? Yeah, that's it. Anyhow, I think it makes a good bugbear, orc, or greater goblin.

Hopefully someone out there is familiar with this line or recognizes my attempt at describing the hallmark. Thanks!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Have a Little Project...

I received a package in the mail today:
Ral Partha Atlas
No, it's not an iron's an Atlas! Or more specifically, an AS7-D Atlas assault mech for FASA's BattleTech by Ral Partha.

Back in the day, my brother and I played a variety of games. One day I picked up a copy of BattleTech, and we gave it a try. I thought it was a fun game, easy to play, and had a fairly high replay value.

I ended up buying a few other supplements, including the BattleTech Technical Readout 3025. It's a neat book, containing drawings and detailed info on the various mechs in the game. While reading through it, I happened upon what would instantly become my favorite mech of all time...Mr. Atlas.

On page 122, under the heading Notable 'Mechs And MechWarriors there is a bit of flavor text that for whatever reason has stuck with me to this very day:

MechWarrior Rodney Van Kleven

A member of the elite 6th Syrtis Fusiliers, Rodney Van Kleven is an aristocrat with the instincts of a democrat. Extremely personable, he is well-liked by everyone from fellow MechWarriors to the lowliest ship's cook.

On the battlefield, Van Kleven uses his Atlas, which he calls the Boar's Head, like a 100-ton scout. He stomps all over the field, creating general terror in the enemy lines and almost always overheating his 'Mech. He has won several land grants, but quickly loses the titles when his 'Mech overheats and shuts down on the battlefield.

I have a few ideas floating around in my melon on how to paint my Atlas, but for now, it's off to the workshop for a nice bath in Simple Green. I even have a couple of spare RP hex bases floating around, so I'll be able to properly base it.

This will be one of my first museum pieces, because I haven't played the pen & paper version of BattleTech at all since my brother and I played over 20 years ago. I'm gonna paint this bad boy up and let him sit on my desk or shelf, looking at me with his grim, unchanging expression. For me, this is purely a nostalgia project. It is highly unlikely this Atlas will ever see any tabletop action, but it was just one of those purchases that I was compelled to make.

Lastly, I need to give credit where credit is due. I cannot help but think of Edgar Martinez and his Eagle commercials, back when Gar was still playing ball for my Seattle Mariners. "I have a little project..." is his tagline, and it always seemed like Gar had a lot of little projects going on, much like I do with my various endeavors in miniature-land. So the title of this entry is dedicated to Edgar Martinez, pretty much the nicest guy to ever play the game. Oh, and he could hit, too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Deadline Week!

My D&D group has a session on the books this coming Saturday (the 22nd), so I'm busy this week painting up some monsters for our DM to ambush us with.

It's a fairly eclectic mix of minis I'm working on: a couple of Heritage slimes (green slime and black pudding), a Grenadier wight, and some Reaper undead - two older Ed Pugh skeletons (2014 and 2015) and three newer Barrow Wardens by Kev Williams (3220 and 3221). Those, and the RP Frost Giant that is my Giant of the Month Club project for May.
The Grenadier wight started as an afterthought, really. For some reason (OK, it was the "Don King" hairdo) I had it in my mind that this was one of those early Grenadier sculpts that I didn't really care for too much - you know the ones - wrong proportions, goofy expression, strange pose, etc. But I had recently primed it in a batch of minis to be worked on, and after examining it closer, I realized just how wrong I was!
Sure, it still has one feature that stands out for the wrong reasons: the Julia Roberts lips/mouth. Other than that, I really like this mini. Nothing odd about the pose, cool & creepy elongated fingers, skull and bone fragment on the base - good, solid undead look and feel. And if memory serves me correctly, whenever our DM placed this wight mini on the table 20+ years ago, everyone always groaned and puckered a bit. No one wanted to lose a level!
That wight is long since gone (well, it went AWOL with a bunch of my older minis when our first DM quit playing), but I'm happy to have acquired his evil twin, Skippy. I'll post a pic of the finished product in the next couple of days, along with any others I finish before I head out on Saturday.

UPDATE (5/26/10): Now with pics! We had a fun and successful session on Saturday, and the boys were happy to see new lead added to the collection.

The wight was a fun paint, and I put the most work into him out of the group. I tried to give him sickly white skin, not stark white. Since he's wearing a cape, I went for purple - he must have been a noble, merchant, etc. And finally, for a touch of high fantasy, I painted his eyes green - dark green, light green, and finished with black pupils.

The skellies were pretty straightforward, bleached bone undercoat, inked, and then drybrushed with three shades of white. I decided against mounting them to an extra base, so they retain their broccoli base-drybrushed-minimalist look.

The slime and pudding - how do you make them look, well, not sucky? On the green slime, I went for several different layers of very thin, bright green washes. A dark green ink filled in the various pockmarks and craters for some depth. But I wasn't happy with the larger bubbles - they just didn't pop (heh). So I painted them bright white (a couple of coats to cover the green) and then glazed them with bright green again. I like how it turned out! I contemplated using some clear gloss for that extra-slimy slime look, but was fine with how it ended up after a couple coats of Purity Seal.

The black pudding, hmm, I don't think it turned out as well as I could have done. A couple coats of black (over white primer), some gray wash to give it some depth and contrast, and then purplish rims on the boils/craters. I think the purple needed some lighter highlights applied to that for better definition. Ah, hindsight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

UFOTW #3 - Unidentified Figure of the Week

Heartbreaker? OgreA face only a mother could love! I like this ogre because his face is so...non-traditional? It has almost a cartoonish quality, something more anime or sci-fi than high fantasy. The bottom of his base is totally devoid of any sort of hallmark, and the shape of his base could be a couple of different brands, so my best guess at this point is Heartbreaker - but that's just a stab in the dark, really.

I'll have to post a painted pic of him, as I let my 7-year-old son paint him up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hindsight is a LOT more than 20/20...

Back when I started painting minis, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't do any research, I didn't know acrylics from oils, nothing. Paint was paint, and a brush was a brush. I picked minis that I liked, and chose colors that I thought looked good. My goal was to simply apply paint evenly, stay in the lines, and make it look good. Little things like small details and eyes were icing on the cake!

Recently, I found the small booklet shown here on eBay that I truly wish I had stumbled across, oh, 20 to 30 years ago. It's an interesting read, and if I could go back in time, I can only wonder how much better a painter I would be now, if only to read Section 7 - Special Painting Techniques. It's all there: Shadowing, Highlighting, Washing, Staining, Dry Brushing, and yes, even Blending.

Of course, it would also help if I was a more motivated painter, because there's nothing like practical application (practice makes perfect) to bolster one's skill level. I'm just happy that there is an abundance of information freely available today, from sites like Dr. Faust's to instructional DVDs along the lines of Hot Lead.

I feel like I've learned a lot over the past five or six years, and just being able to look at what kind of results I can produce now compared to a few years back is the best kind of reinforcement that I'm heading in the right direction. I just need to paint more, so it's time to wrap up this entry and head back to the workbench.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

UFOTW #2 - Unidentified Figure of the Week

TA-HR SB-01 Skykat?

Take a good look at this big fella - I know for sure this is a TA-HR miniature, but beyond that I'm at a loss. The hallmark on the bottom of his left rear paw reads "TA-HR SB-3 © 1980" but even then I'm only about 90% sure it reads SB-3, and there is only one creature listed in the Lost Minis Wiki with the SB- prefix, the SB01 Skykat. The 25mm Broadsword mini in the pic is for scale reference.

It's a hefty mini, weighing in at 5 ounces (135 grams). It stands about 2.25 inches high (5.5 cm) and is 4 inches long (10 cm). It is a three-piece casting, consisting of the main body, right front paw, and right rear paw + tail. I would say it is feline/canine in appearance with dragon-like plates running the length of the underside from jaw to tail tip. A sharp spine protrudes from the back of each front leg, and it has a small horn on the tip of the snout. I do not see any teeth.

There is a small saddle just behind the head, but if I have the rider, I'll be damned if I know which of my mount-less minis sits atop this critter. My hope is that one of you vintage minis experts (specializing in rare and/or obscure lines) will look at this and give me a positive ID. The icing on the lead cake would be some sort of reference photo that goes along with it, if only to also let me know what sort of person/creature is supposed to be riding this beastie.

UPDATE (5/10/2010): The good folks over at have some TA-HR minis in their collection, so at least now I know I do NOT have the Skykat. What I have still remains a mystery, at least for now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Giant of the Month Club - May

So back in January, I decided I needed at least one goal-oriented system to keep me painting on a semi-regular basis. I took stock of my unpainted minis and what types of creatures were needed in the cases of gaming minis. What I needed to paint were more giants!

I've always been fond of painting giants, and we have had many a memorable battle on the gaming table that involved large numbers of giants attacking us. As the years wore on, and gaming took their toll on the poor giants, coupled with my desire to re-paint a good number of my giants, I noticed that I had more giants on the workbench and less in the gaming cases. Unacceptable!

I hit a little snag along the way, or more precisely, a snag hit me. On the right index finger. Broke it. See, I'm a football (soccer) player. Have been for over 30 years now. For the past 3+ years, I've only been playing indoor soccer at the arena 5 minutes from my house. Did I mention I'm a goalkeeper? Back to the finger. I took a shot that jammed my finger...except three weeks later, it was still swollen, although not terribly painful. When I had it checked out, the results were immediate and swift. It was broken, and it needed to be fixed ASAP. The doc put two pins into my digit, and attached a button to the bottom of my fingertip. Then he looped some thread around the tendon to keep it in place, and attached the thread to the button.

The pins and button came out about a month ago, and I have since been cleared by my physical therapist (yes, you even need PT for a broken finger) to resume playing. I'm happy to report I have two games under my belt with no problems associated with my now-repaired finger.

So back to painting! In January, I decided to start the GotMC with this little fella:
RP Frost Giant

That's Ral Partha's AD&D Frost Giant 11-436. The one I acquired did not come with the standard-issue shield, so I will paint mine sans shield, and wait to see if I can find a proper OEM shield. If not, I'll probably leave it as is.

I had only laid down the colors you see in the photo above before my unfortunate injury. I'm using Vallejo Game Colors, and went with Hexed Lichen as my skin base and followed up with Ice Blue, and plan to lighten it up with whites from there, as an experiment to see if his skin turns out the way I have envisioned it. Now I have the rest of the month to finish him, so look for pics of the finished product in just under a month from now.

Wish me luck!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Paved With Good Intentions #1

My own personal road to hell is paved with the good intentions of tackling various miniature-related projects. I'm sure many of you can relate - you acquire some minis for a very specific reason (diorama, gift for friend, one-off encounter, etc.) - only to find that weeks/months/years later, the minis and your project are languishing in to-do hell.

PWGI #1 is my WH40K Dark Angels army. Back in 1999-2000, just before I jumped ship for my tour of duty at WoTC, I managed a FLGS in Bellevue (WA) - the now-defunct Games & Gizmos. Fun job, good crew, small but loyal crowd of regulars who hung out, etc. I was familiar with GW and WHFB/WH40K, but in name only. I had never played a GW tabletop game, and up until then, had never thought about playing one.

Of course, how are you supposed to talk and/or sell one of your larger product lines if you know nothing of it? My co-workers and the regulars all pitched in to help me learn the ropes, play an intro game of each, and things of that nature. At the time, I remember it being fairly easy to learn, and entertaining, if not outright fun.

When it came time to pick my 40K army, I did my due diligence and studied up on all the various factions available. There are several armies that caught my attention right off the bat: Space Marines, Imperial Guard, and Tyranids. The IG was appealing because of their armor-heavy roster and the themed units: jungle fighters, winter warriors, etc. The Tyranids are just badass, both in looks and unit composition. The Marines, though, were the most appealing in the end: variety of troops, armor, elites, and just their looks in general.

I chose the Dark Angels because to me, they had the most compelling history amongst the Space Marines. That, and I thought (and still think) their dark green armor just looks kick-ass. Their iconography is gothic and brooding, and I like the Deathwing and Ravenwing elements of their organization too.

So I used my employee discount and purchased my DA army. I started out by assembling two Rhinos and a Whirlwind:
RhinoRhino HedgehogWhirlwind

The Rhino on the left is your standard Rhino, without details like the radio antenna, etc. The Rhino on the right is my first attempt at a conversion. I was inspired by the WWII hedgerow cutters attached to US tanks during the Normandy invasion. I took two Rhino cutters, snipped off the teeth, glued them together, and then glued on the teeth at the proper angles. The Whirlwind is a nice-looking model, and there is something reassuring about the weight added by the metal bitz on it. I also have a Land Raider or two, but didn't get far on them.

There are also two Dreadnoughts in my army. One is still untouched, and the other is about this far along:

Still a long ways to go, but I like the look of these metal monstrosities.

Enter the Deathwing:
Deathwing Terminators

My terminators started out primed white, then Bleached Bone, liberally applied with an ink wash, and then on to dry-brushing. I actually prefer a finished product closer to Ivory or Bleached Bone instead of Pure White. I don't know why, and I know it kind of goes against canon, but I like what I like.

I picked up another idea that is pretty much a project in and of itself, even though it is related to this army - swappable arms! Stitch over at The Angel's Talon (and The Other Talon) is a wealth of information on all things DA and 40K in general. Of course, when I will ever get around to it is a story for another time...

And finally there is the bulk of my army, still tucked away, still patiently waiting their day on the workbench. I don't even want to think about that! My goal is to finish what I've started at this point: Rhinos, Whirlwind, Dreadnought, and the Deathwing termies.

So there you have it! My first (and possibly largest) unfinished project I'll be sharing with you - with the primary motivation of trying to light a fire under me and get some of these projects cleared off my never-ending To-Do list.

If you feel up to it, leave a comment and tell me what's sitting around on your workbench - misery loves company!