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, 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!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Kingdom For A Storage Solution!

Minis on my desk. Minis in drawers. Minis on box/tote lids on the floor. Minis, minis everywhere! I hate that my work area is always overflowing with minis, and my wife would just assume melt them down and make fishing weights with them (or re-cast them as cute little woodland animals, if only to taunt me).

My collection is more or less divided into four distinct categories: 1) Minis I game with - these are safely tucked away in six Chessex cases, so no worries there. 2) Minis for display - this batch is now crowding what used to be a small DVD stand with four shelves. Some have spilled over onto other shelves and surfaces, but nothing out of control. 3) Minis waiting to be painted - these are on my desk, if only to remind me that some of them have been waiting forever and a day to be finished. 4) Minis waiting to be traded/sold - these suckers are the bane of my existence. They are all over the place, in groups big and small, and in serious need of organization. (My boxed sets are carefully stored in boxes or totes, so they are not in the way.)

So how do you, my fellow leadaholics, keep your armies in check? One possibility I'm leaning towards are clear, shallow totes. I would use segments of PVC pipe as supports, and stack each tote on top of each other to minimize the footprint and maximize storage.

Basically, I need a compact, spacious, and affordable storage option for the minis that are circulating in and out of my life. What say you?

Let There Be (a) Light Box...

...and it was good. So today I FINALLY got around to tackling a project I've been putting off for no good reason, but hey, it's done, so get off my back already! I made my very own light box/tent. Whilst perusing the Reaper forums awhile back, I stopped by the Shutterbug forum and found this totally freaking awesome how-to article.

As advertised, it's affordable - I think I spent $10 on spray glue and bristol board. The box was free, and I used a gently worn white t-shirt for my fabric. I did spend $20 on a swing-arm lamp and another $6 or $7 on a bulb, but still, for just under $40, I now have a great set-up for taking pics of my minis and other random trinkets.

All I need to do now is fiddle around with my camera's settings to optimize my pic quality. You can see the difference if you look at the pic in my first post - the group of Reaper minis were posed on a sheet of blue construction paper on the dining room table. Light was an overhead chandelier and plenty of sunshine from the window directly behind me. The Superior minis I snapped today have much more even lighting, and for once I'm looking forward to taking more pics of my minis!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Superior Resource Solves Superior Mystery

One of the great things about the mini collecting community is the people who comprise the mini collecting community. Case in point: I replied to a post over on the Collecting Grenadier Models group on Yahoo! about the ID of a large winged demon by Superior Models. This demon, by normal conventions, is pretty much your iconic balrog and/or pit fiend: large (almost 60mm tall), leering, wings, cloven hooves, and wielding a long whip in one hand and a sword in the other.
WL-071 Surtur, the Fire Giant

Many collectors, myself included, assumed this fella was WL-113 Large Devil, Pit Fiend. Back to the post on CGM - one member said no, the demon those of us assumed was WL-113 was in fact WL-71 Surtur, the Fire Giant. I replied to that, asking for some sort of evidence to back that up, as the identity of several demons on The Stuff of Legends and Lost Minis Wiki was a source of constant misery...err, mystery. Same for a double entry: WL-112 and WL-114 were both listed as Monster Masher, Catapult.

So in my inbox this morning is an email from Boki Gromdal over at with a small batch of images from what I'm assuming is a Superior Models catalog. And what do you know, the "pit fiend" is in fact WL-71 Surtur, the Fire Giant! Also identified were WL-98 Baalzebul, Arch Devil; WL-113 Large Devil, Pit Fiend; and WL-112 and WL-114 are in fact two different variations of the Monster Masher - 112 has a devil's face with horns, and 114 has a dragon's head.
WL-098 Baalzebul, Arch DevilWL-113 Large Devil, Pit Fiend

The sum of all this for me is a big smile on my face, as a long-standing identification conundrum is laid to rest. Big thanks to Seebrin on the CGM group for bringing this up, and even bigger thanks to Boki Gromdal for his images. You guys rock!
WL-113, -071, and -098

UFOTW #1 - Unidentified Figure Of The Week

Masterpiece Water ElementalThis little gal kicks off my "can you ID this mini?" entry I'll be posting each week. She stands a hair over 1.25" tall, but since she's not standing upright, so she would be pretty damn tall for 25/28mm, but I'm not sure if she would be a good fit for 54mm...

There are no hallmarks that I can see on the bottom of her base, which isn't flat. It's actually kind of textured, like a poor casting. I should post a pic of that. The front edge of her base almost has that Archive-looking angle to it, but the rear of the base is more or less square.

She looks like a Water Nymph or Water Spirit, perhaps even a Water Elemental? Water Goddess? Nekkid Chick having a Really Bad Hair Day? Hopefully someone out there will look at this and know exactly what she is.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pleased to meet you, won't you guess my name?

Greetings and salutations! I have finally decided to join the ranks of bloggers who write and rant about miniatures. A little background about me seems like a good way to get things started.

I'm 43, married to a wonderful woman, and have three children under 10. My days are filled with all the various tasks, chores, and errands that occupy the time of a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Growing up, I had a keen interest in LEGOs and plastic models, the latter mostly of the 1/72nd scale variety. Many wars and battles were re-created and fought with my beloved models, which typically met fiery and/or explosive ends when their useful lives as a model had run out. My parents still find the random charred hulk of a Sherman or ME-109 in their garden after all these years.

I've been gaming since the late 70s, when my older brother introduced me to chess, Panzer Leader, Star Fleet Battles, and finally pen & paper RPGs. I started off with the Holmes Edition box set, and then AD&D when it rolled out. I've been playing ever since! I'm happy to report I still play with my friends of 25+ years. Of course, we're all in our 40s, have families, jobs, and activities that don't allow us much time at the gaming table - but when we play, it's always a good time.

My obsession with miniatures started early. As if poring over tomes such as the PH wasn't enough to keep my imagination fired up, I remember looking at all the blisters and box sets of old Ral Partha, Heritage, and Grenadier miniatures on display at USS Enterprise, my first FLGS. I was captivated by the fact that you could play games like D&D with these little 3D avatars! Once I bought a few, there was no turning back. Then I discovered I was able to paint them with at least a small degree of skill - at least by choosing pleasing color schemes, painting within the lines, so to speak, and even managing to paint smaller details, including eyes.

I still miss the small collection of lead that ended up with one of my first DMs: the Grenadier dragon from The Dragon's Lair (5009), the Heritage bugbears, and the Ral Partha Dwarf Lord (01-031) to name a few. I suppose that is at least part of the reason I turned to eBay two years ago - to recapture some of my earliest miniature memories. Well, that, and also to finally part with some minis that I'll never use and never paint.

Since we're a one-income family, I cannot justify buying minis hand over fist for a hobby. But I managed to convince my wife I can buy AND sell, with the overall goal of at least breaking even. And two years later, I'm surrounded by both lead for my personal consumption and minis that need a good home. So all is well on that end.

I have a couple of collecting interests. My long-term goal is to complete my two collections by Superior Models: the 25mm Wizards & Lizards line and the 90mm Fantasy line. Next comes adding the many and varied critters for use in our D&D campaigns. Giants, in particular, are favorites of mine. But I'll grab anything that catches my eye. For PC minis, I currently use Reaper minis almost exclusively. When we rolled up the characters in our current campaign (set in the 3.5 FR world), I hand-picked and hand-painted each mini to fit each player:

FR adventuring party

In the coming weeks and months, I plan to share musings on a wide variety of subjects: old lead, painting, past and present manufacturers, wargaming lead, WH40K, and whatever else comes to mind. I hope those of you who find this blog enjoy the ride!