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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reading Trumps Painting

I've been doing a lot more reading lately, which has been cutting into my painting time. Can't say that I'm complaining, because I've enjoyed the hell out of my recent reads. The books came from my father-in-law's library, who is also a collector - his passion is military patches, uniforms, and whatnot, with an emphasis on medevac units. He even published a book on the subject! You can get a copy of United States Army Air Ambulance directly from the author (email him at mark.hough at or find it on eBay if you prefer.

Anyhow, I finished reading two books authored by WWII veterans that described combat in both the European and Pacific theaters. The first was David Kenyon Webster's Parachute Infantry, and the second was Eugene B. Sledge's With The Old Breed.

They are both extremely well-written, and give you vivid accounts of life on the front lines as only someone who was there is able to do. Webster's disdain for war and the Army is only surpassed by his attachment to his comrades in the 101st. Sledge is able to survive his hell in the Pacific in part due to Marine esprit de corps.

I can highly recommend both tomes without hesitation or reservation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spend $50, get $65 at Center Stage Miniatures

There are only two days left to score yourself $65 worth of Center Stage Miniatures for only $50. And it's worth mentioning that there is NO EXPIRATION DATE on your certificate, so you can always wait and see what else CSM is going to create down the road. Like a Glacial Wyrm. Or Fog Giant. Or Baphomet...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lead Market Report - July 2011

You buy, you sell, you collect, and sometimes you paint. Here's another installment of the Lead Market Report. Enjoy!

Archive: The umber hulk - I mean, AMBER hulk - is another nice example of a classic AD&D critter. $20.50 is a decent price.

Citadel/GW: Santa with a shotgun for $12.20? I love some of the rare and limited edition stuff from Citadel. These Marauder ogres went for $51, along with some unidentified archers. From the AD&D line, we have the umber hulk ($21) and an incomplete beholder ($5.40) that I'm pretty sure could be fixed up with some thin wire and greenstuff. Or if you prefer, a complete NIB beholder for $32.

This gothic Chaos chick went for $17.89. I was trying to remember where I had seen her before in the blogosphere, and then I remembered - it was here, on The Realm of Zhu. Thanks Zhu. And from the Star Trek files, I give you Mr. Spock, some Redshirts (?), and Arcturians. Prices seem more than reasonable IMO.

And from the "Never Underestimate the Power of the Bitz Bag" I give you this bag of Dark Angels bitz for $54. I can't see what exactly makes it so valuable, but there's nothing like a well-stocked selection of bitz when it comes to WH40K army builders and customizers.

GHQ: 100 Panthers and Mk IVs for $80 is a pretty good buy if you need a bunch of armor to bolster your Panzer forces.

Grenadier: The massive Goblin War Giant usually commands prices hovering around (and even over) the $100 mark. If you don't require the original Grenadier casting, why not consider the newer one from Mirliton for $68? For the completists, consider this lot of inserts from several box sets for $10. I've never been a big fan of this Cloud Giant sculpt, but I've always had my eye on it merely for the sake of completing my collection of Grenadier giants. $14.50 is a decent price, but still too high for me to bite.

The allure of Gamma World is such that GW collectors will pay $61 for an incomplete set of Adventurers (only missing 2 minis, but still). The Juggernaut is another big hunk of lead, which always makes NIB copies for under $22 seem like a bargain to me. And speaking of bargains, $10.88 for a NIB King Arthur set - seriously? That would make me happy if I was a Grenadier completist.

On the non-bargain end of the spectrum, these LOTR sets by Grenadier went for quite a bit more than I have seem them cost in the past. I know, I know, they are all NIB. Isengard was $73, Shelob's Lair was $58, and Hillmen of the Trollshaws was a fairly modest $44.

Heritage: Dungeon Dwellers boxed sets, in particular those still in shrink or otherwise in pristine condition are always a sure thing. But I think the buyer who picked up Level One Monsters AND Magic Users & Clerics for $60 got a nice deal.

Leading Edge: $50 for a sealed Alien Queen set? Yeah, I would have snapped that up too if I was working on an Aliens set.

Minifigs: Orcus strikes fear into both adventurers and collector's wallets. $34 for this nice example actually seems to be a fairly reasonable price in my opinion.

Ral Partha: Dragon box sets headline RP this month. $255 for the Dragon Duel set really has that WOW factor if you happen to be the seller. On the other hand, this set went for $10. Hmm. I would have been happy to be the buyer who picked up this copy of The Great Red Dragon for $80.80, considering how much other sellers typically ask for this outstanding dragon. The Dracolich is another one on my "one of these days" list, but not this one for $120. I'm more inclined to drop $4.02 on The Antagonists, but as I've admitted before, I'm a bit of a cheap bastard.

I'm guessing the buyer of this $86 lot had his/her eyes on the Peryton, Otyugh, and Yuan Ti. I've always wanted a Catoblepas, if only to have it for the sake of having those odd critters from the pages of the MM.

OGRE collectors have never been shy about shelling out for the massive Mk V Combine. This one went for $36.56, which seems about right (if not slightly lower) compared to previous sales. Battletech types still put out for classics like the Warhammer for $41.

The RP Mystery Listing of the month goes to this Armored Cloud Giant that sold for $34.56. It is packaged in an 11-Series blister with the text mysteriously missing. I wasn't aware this particular model was part of the 11-Series, and always thought it was from the Imports product line. Either way, it's a mini I'm still on the hunt for.

Did someone say Molydeus? Someone said it for $118.50 for their MIB Moly.

Most humorous listing this time around goes to 11-055 Manxam the Beholder, or in this case, "Ral Partha Bloob 9 Legs Strange Lil Toy Pewter" - LOL! $12.58 isn't a bad price either, if you're buying. You could have picked him up for BINs of $15 or $9, also great prices.

This 11-Series lot that went for $392 seems like a lot, but when you think about it, you get almost 40 blisters for right around $10-12 each. Not bad, not bad at all.

Reaper: The Mancubus is not something I'd like to encounter if I was a space marine type of guy. This one was $27.50.

Superior Models: Cutter & Leetah of Elfquest fame can usually be counted on to sell well, especially if properly identified in the title & listing. This pair for $16.59 may have been touted as Ral Partha, but they are undoubtedly Superior in origin.

Well, that wraps up July's LMR. I should probably get a jump on August, now that September is nearly upon us. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Vacation is Over; Back to Painting & Collecting

Detective John Kimble poses in front of John Jacob Astor Elementary School with his pet ferrets.

"Stop whining! You kids are soft. You lack discipline. Well, I've got news for you. You are mine now. You belong to me."

OK, so that's me and my dogs in the pic, but it is John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, OR where parts of 1990's Kindergarten Cop were filmed. I'm not big on doing touristy type stuff, but every year when we pass through Astoria on our way to Seaside, I always think to myself "we should stop and take a look." This was the year. On our way back home, we stopped at the school, sat in the shade of a large tree out front, ate lunch and took some pictures.

We also hiked to Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, which was a 3-mile roundtrip and was quite beautiful, with some really nice vantage points looking out to the Pacific Ocean. According to IMDB, some scenes for Kindergarten Cop were filmed at Ecola, as were some scenes from Point Break ("I am an EFF...BEE...EYE agent!") subbing for Bells Beach, Australia.

What I'd really like to do is take a nice, long vacation in New Zealand and geek out on all the LOTR filming locations. Do you think they sell any "I got hammered at the Prancing Pony" t-shirts?

Now that summer is all but over, it's time to get back to business and resume painting. Too many projects are cluttering my workbench of shame, so let's see if I can hammer some of those out. I'll also be listing some old lead for sale on eBay soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Myth Drannor - The Palm Springs of Faerun?

We managed to once again rally the troops and pull together a full D&D session on the 6th. Last time we played, we ventured into the Underdark, one of the most dangerous places in all of Faerun. This session we ended up in Myth Drannor, perhaps THE most lethal place in Faerun, period. Well, it seems that way, anyhow...

The party is resting up back in Relkath's Foot when trouble once again is heaped upon us via Nikola and his murderous ways. Before we go there, however, there is first some information to disseminate. Garrity's parents (and Nikola's adoptive parents) had shared the news that Nikola's birth father was indeed dead, and that his sword - The Red Sword - was likely now in the hands of T'See Larak, the weaponsmaster of House Larak. Furthermore, the Red Sword is attuned to Nikola, and T'See wishes to change that. How? Funny you should ask. First, the drow assassin wishes to kill Nikola, and break the attunement the old-fashioned way. Second, it is rumored that T'See is heading to Myth Drannor, where another rumor is going around that there may be some ancient source of magic that allows attuned items to be re-attuned. Swell.

Before we can decide our next move, it is forced upon us by Nikola. We wake up with a dead Relkath's Foot guard in our quarters, and Nik seems to be the killer - although he has no memory of anything prior to falling asleep that night. The funny thing is, that this has happened once before to Nikola in Mithril Hall (yes, THAT Mithril Hall). Dead dwarf guard, bloody Nikola, hasty exit, etc. This time around, we have the power to fix the problem at hand, thanks to Posht's ability to cast raise dead. Long story short, we try to do some 'splainin, piss off the locals, and are quickly shown the exit (Menhir Ring, of course) by Garrity's father before all hell breaks loose. More on this mess later.

We portal out and head to a podunk fishing village, with the aim of hiring a boat to take us to Cormyr. We secure passage and set sail. As luck or fate would have it, we are sharing the trip with a couple of Zhents. Are they truly average Zhents on a trading mission to Aglarond, or are they Zhentarim? I'm sure that our DM just gets a kick out of watching us decide what to do. While we are dealing with the Zhents and attempting to scry on a certain drow assassin/weaponsmaster, we have yet another run-in (or should I say fly-in?) with our bestest enemies, the Thayans. Walked into that one, we did.

Leaving the cover of the Yuirwood, we no doubt popped back onto the Red's radar like the Spruce Goose buzzing the tower at Miramar. One fine evening, our ship comes under attack from above: a griffon-mounted Red Wizard comes alongside the ship, exchanges pleasantries with one of the Zhents, and then proceeds to launch fireballs into the ship from high above us.

While we run around on deck, trying to keep the crew alive and the ship more or less intact, Posht breaks out his Ebon Fly and takes a Zhent with him to engage the Thayan. The Thayan blasts away at his new targets, scorching the dwarf a bit, and doing enough damage to the fly to cause it to revert back to statuette form. The Zhent appears to off the Thayan before he and the dwarf plunge into the waters from several hundred feet up. This is fatal for the Zhent, and very painful for Posht.

Palau swims out to help the soggy dwarf (and relieve the Zhent of a few valuables). The Zhent, sadly, is lost at sea. Hmmm. With the soggy dwarf and halfling back on board, we do what we can to help the crew put the ship back into sailing shape and continue on. I should note that Posht used a make whole on the ship's severely damaged main mast the following day that made it possible for us to continue on at regular speed. We reach land and continue our journey to Suzail on foot.

Once in the royal capital of Cormyr, we consult with the War Wizards. They direct us to some learned colleagues who can help with these types of private endeavours (show them the money!). The wizard who is helping us with our search for T'See discovers that his scrying has been detected, and even worse, he thinks the target knows who is looking at him! He is more than happy to teleport us close to our quarry, if only to throw some bodies in between him and the drow. Normally, this would have been perfect for us. But we usually don't appear in the middle of a hill giant raiding party...

The giants are a tough lot, but we are even tougher. We are fine, except that a lot of Posht's healing has been expended. Pressing on, we aren't able to catch up with the drow, but we do reach the fabled city/ruins of Myth Drannor. We are pleased to discover that there is a large friendly presence here who are in the middle of a grand operation. They wish to reclaim Myth Drannor! Block by block, building by building, large bands of scouts, soldiers, spellcasters, and experts are clearing and cataloging the ancient city. We join up with them and enter the city, both to see what we can see and also try to catch T'See and his minions.

During one of our sweeps, Palau finds an old sealed hidden door. The reason why it was both hidden and sealed is quickly discovered: a pair of hezrou (or Type II, if you prefer) demons have been banished to this room for hundreds (if not thousands) of years! Their stench causes all sorts of problems for our heroes, and all the barfing and dry heaving that followed would have been comical if only the demons weren't trying to tear everyone apart. We FINALLY kill one, and some help arrives to rid us of the other one.

Searching the room, we find a pile of old silver pieces and a bastard sword. The sword turns out to be magic. VERY magic. Magic, as in the +4 Holy Chaotic Bane variety! These details are not lost on Callum. Callum is our paladin, by the way. Remember in Conan the Barbarian, when Conan finds that sword in the tomb?

(photo used without permission of

That's pretty much how Callum looked when he picked up his new sword. And it was soon put to good use! On another foray into the city, we finally meet up with T'See and his pals. They spring an ambush on us, sneak attacking Nikola and nearly killing him. In the ensuing clusterfuck, we come face to face with a monstrous retriever. This is actually good news for Callum, since the paladin's new sword is able to unleash its full potential on this evil, chaotic outsider. His +4 bastard sword is now +6, and does bonus damage against evil and chaotic outsiders. Booyah!

We kill the demonic spider, round up Nikola (who had r-u-n-n o-f-t with some elves) but lose track of T'See. We head back to the expedition's fortified base and contemplate our next move. Remember how our story began? Murder, Nikola, Relkath's Foot? Esteyr (Garrity's father) shows up and has some interesting news, to say the least. Turns out the dead guard we raised was a Thayan agent! So we are exonerated of that crime, and perhaps not outlawed from the haven of Relkath's Foot after all. But was still don't know how Nikola is being compelled to become a sleepwalking spykiller. Is it the Red Sword, reaching out to its human companion, guiding his sleeping hand? Is it the mind flayers who probed his gray matter when he was captive? The Thayans? Too many scenarios, in any event. At least for now.

So it was another fun and exciting session. We drank many quality beers (as always, thanks Steve, aka The Beer Meister), watched the Sounders slay Kansas City in the dying minutes of the match (Sounders 'til I die!), and best of all, a group of friends got to hang out with each other for a solid 15 or so hours of gaming and companionship. You guys have been, and always will be, my friends. Come on, Matt, you know you want to say it! 'uman (and look over the top of your reading glasses for good measure).

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Golden Demon 2011 winners (North America)

Games Workshop posted the winners of the 2011 North American Golden Demon awards. Check it out to see some really fantastic Warhammer, WH40K, and LoTR minis.

I'm blown away by all the work shown, but in particular the Gold and Bronze dioramas are stunning, and the Gold 40K squad is just plain freaking sick!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gamers helping gamers - the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund

I was catching up on my TGN (Tabletop Gaming News) reading when I came across this entry. As a parent, I cannot fathom losing a child. My heart goes out to the Vasel family.

We've already seen how gamers are a generous lot (most recently Heroes of Armageddon and of course Child's Play), so it doesn't surprise me at all that Tom Vasel would keep the ball rolling and start a fund to help out other gamers in their time of need.

You can read more about the memorial fund at so stop by, take a look, and perhaps make a donation.