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, 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!