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, October 28, 2013

Mega Man: The Board Game

As a former Nintendo Game Play Counselor and fan of all things NES, I couldn't help but to smile when I came across a recent entry over on TGN: a Mega Man board game based on the Mega Man video games! If their proposed Kickstarter campaign looks good, I may have to back it. Lots of fun memories battling Dr. Wily and his various minions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Godspeed, Scott Carpenter

M. Scott Carpenter - Mercury astronaut, Naval aviator, SEALAB aquanaut, author - passed away on 10 October 2013 at the age of 88.

I met Mr. Carpenter in 1993 when I was working at Nintendo of America and we were launching Star Fox for the Super NES, or SNES in gamerspeak. I'm pretty sure the event was held at a Super Kmart in Cleveland, Ohio. I'll have to dig around through my archives to see if I have any papers relating to that event.

Mr. Carpenter and I shared a limo ride from the hotel to the Kmart. Even though its been 20 years since that day, I still remember it fairly well. Mr. Carpenter was personable, polite, friendly, and engaging. I asked him how he ended up promoting a video game, and his answer was something along the lines of "If it gets kids interested in space, then it's worth my time." I could tell he was truly passionate about getting the next generation of future astronauts started early, and if it took a space shooter console game, then so be it.

But Mr. Carpenter didn't want to spend the whole ride talking about himself or his interests. He wanted to talk about me. So we chatted about what I studied in college, sports, my family, things like that. He asked me if I was a football player or a wrestler, because he thought I was built like someone who played those sports (stocky and broad-shouldered). When I told him I was a soccer player (goalkeeper), he didn't change the subject or disparage my game, he wanted to talk more about it.

The ride ended way too soon, and I had a game to launch. One last memory was this one: the PR gals had some Star Fox posters, and they wanted us to sign them. Us, as in Scott Carpenter and yours truly. I protested, because no one wanted a poster signed by Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter and some dude from Nintendo. I was overruled, so my apologies to anyone out there who has one. They made me do it!

In addition to the achievements listed above, Scott Carpenter was also a nice, genuine person. I was fortunate to have met him, if only for a short time.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

David Sutherland's DragonTooth Saurians

It has never been a collecting goal of mine to acquire miniatures painted by other artists. I always figured I would paint minis for myself and for my group, and that was that. And then two years ago, that all changed when I received Asmodai, painted by Ron Saikowski. Having a mini in my collection with a story behind it and a paper trail (or at least electronic trail) makes it interesting, if only to me.

I still wouldn't say that I am actively seeking miniatures painted by others. However, if the right opportunity comes along, I am always willing to consider it. Such is the case with today's feature:

Lean mean fighting machines.

Old-school leadheads will recognize these DragonTooth Saurians (SMC1 Saurian Mounted Champion on Giant Lizard) despite the fact they have been been partially to heavily modified. What's even cooler is that they are products of the skill and imagination of legendary fantasy artist David C. Sutherland III. And it's possible that at least one of this trio is modeled after a rather famous illustration from the Holmes Blue Book seen here:
Colored by yours truly back in the day.

Art imitating art.

It is also possible that the picture was based on the miniature, but I don't know how we could verify that unless someone who knew David was able to chime in. The single horn is unique to the mini, and the rider is sitting in a more upright position. But the polearm and quiver of javelins (complete with skull) are clearly depicted in both print and on lead.

At first glance, they appear to be nicely-painted minis. Upon closer inspection, though, the attention to detail and skill becomes apparent. Each rider carries a unique polearm. Each lizard has a horn or horns sprouting from their heads. Skulls dangle from the horns. The riders hold hand-made reins. Various weapons are slung on the riders and/or their mounts. And there's even some bling in the form of tiny gems here and there. David used drafting pens to accentuate scales to varying degrees on the lizards, as well as on the shields and other bits. You can also see the letter S scribed on a few bits. Is that S for Sutherland, or S for Saurian? I'll go with Sutherland.

It gives me great joy to have these three miniature works of art as the centerpiece(s) of my collection. I hope that David's family would approve that they have passed from one collector to another, and that they will continue to be treasured and cared for.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From Lead to Life

I recently picked up a small booklet entitled From Lead to Life - The Art of Preparing Miniature Figures by Robin Wood. It is one of those items that appeals to my love of printed matter, stuff from before the dawn of Al Gore's Internets. This is something I wish I had been looking for back when I was a budding miniature artist and didn't know my acrylics from my enamels.

 8.5" x 5.5" of printed goodness.

As the week ticked away before the auction ended, there was something about the author's name that stood out - where had I seen the name Robin Wood, and why did it mean anything to me? A Bing search reveals she is a fantasy artist, known for her Dragonriders of Pern work as well as some Dragon magazine covers. OK, getting warm. Further investigation reveals a pair of articles in Different Worlds:

Different Worlds #14 (September 1981) Painting Miniature Figures by Robin Wood

Different Worlds #17 (December 1981) Miniatures: Conversions in Lead by Robin Wood

Now we're getting a lot closer. But still not there yet. Hmm...and then I have my "a-ha!" moment and realize exactly where I have seen Robin's name before: Issue #1 of the OSFMapa!

At some point after she had the above two articles published in Different Worlds, she went ahead and compiled a booklet that covers miniatures from prep to finish, including sections on conversion and even scratchbuilding!

Something I would have liked to have known a long time ago.

The section on conversions is quite detailed, with over eight pages dedicated to modifying your minis. Besides the expected topics (adding or removing features, changing poses, etc.) Robin even shows you how to give your minis a sex-change operation if you desire something other than a chainmail bikini, and even how to make chainmail out of underwear!

More things I would have liked to have known.

Robin devotes four pages to scratchbuilding, including how to make ghosts, Runequest dragon-snails, gelatinous cubes, winged creatures, and snakes. A future project could see me attempting to create my own creatures using her advice and techniques. I'll put that one on the backburner for now and hope that I don't completely forget about it.

Circa 1983 or 1993

All told, From Lead to Life is a wonderful how-to booklet that is a fun and informative read, and I'm really happy to have stumbled across it and added it to my library of printed miniature reference material.