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!

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!