Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wargames Factory Spartans - Base 1

Happy New Year, wargames and RPG enthusiasts! As they say, what you do this night will be what you do for the rest of the year, so I ate some tortilla chips and guacamole and assembled some toy soldiers.

I had decided I would assemble and base my Wargames Factory Greeks, Amazons and Persians for Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames - I bought a stack of 50mm x 100mm bases to glue groups of figures to; eight figures to a base for heavy infantry, six figures to a base for archers and skirmishers, four figures to a base for cavalry.

In proper gamer fashion, I rolled a die to determine which unit I'd do first - my plan is for three bases of Hoplites, three bases of Persian Archers, three bases of Persian Immortals, and three bases of Amazon Archers/Skirmishers.

The dice came up with Hoplites, so I pulled out the box and got to work after dinner.  It's been a long time since I've assembled a multipart plastic kit like this - I think the last time I'd done one of these was back in high school when I was still doing Warhammer figures, more then a decade ago now.


So with this first batch of eight Hoplites there's a couple where the poses ended up a little wonky but by the time I reached the sixth Hoplite or so I was feeling pretty confident, and the next eleven bases I'm going to assemble will look darn good.

They're not glued down to the base yet - I'm going to sticky-tac them to a couple of popsicle sticks, prime them, paint them, paint and decal their shields, glue those on, and then glue the figures to the base.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Quick Idea from Today

It's called "The Back of Beyond" - the region of Central Asia encompassing the Gobi Desert, the Altai Mountains and part of the Russian Steppe.  Here, Bolshevik patrols hunt down ragtag remnants of the "White" army, Mongolian bandits ride much the same as their ancestors in the Golden Horde did, and Chinese warlords vie for power among themselves, overseen by German and British "advisors."  Now, a new threat has arisen - an extraterrestrial race has established a beachhead in the Gobi, and have begun to advance East, West and South, taking advantage of the destabilized nature of the region.  Alien tripods march across the desert, heat rays playing across Russian, Chinese, and Mongolian encampments alike, while cloned dinosaurs - products of the aliens' biovats - hunt down survivors.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

D&D 5E, BRP, and Other Acronyms

I received, as a slightly belated Christmas present, a copy of the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide.  Currently this makes the only two editions I own a complete set of core rules for 5th and 1st Edition AD&D.  I've got a couple of coworkers that have expressed an interest in playing some D&D or another RPG, and they're all good people that I think I'd really enjoy running games for.

Part of me wants to run D&D in some form, simply because that's the universally-recognized short-hand for "role-playing game."  But I'm not feeling overly inspired on that front.

I think it would be a harder sell, but I think I'd rather (and would be more successful) run an alternate/secret history game like my last campaign, which pit Elizabethan-era pirates (the player characters) against the forces of a Spanish Empire backed by alien Greys in a world where the Roswell crash happened four centuries early.

Doing a little reading, I came across the mysterious circumstances surrounding Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark Expedition fame)'s demise.  While the official verdict is suicide, and there's certainly evidence to back that up, there was enough funny business around the site at the time, and enough people with motive, that in some ways it looks an awful lot like a murder.

In short, he was on his way to Washington to negotiate for reimbursement of expenditures accrued in the process of serving as governor of the Louisiana Territory (modern day Missouri) - reimbursements he'd previously been denied due to the libelous campaign of his secretary, Frederick Bates, who'd sent letters to Congress claiming Lewis was profiteering on the side.  After suddenly changing routes halfway along his journey, Lewis ended up spending a night at Griner's Stand, a small inn.  The innkeeper's wife heard gunshots and someone crying out for help in the middle of the night, but waited until morning to send her children to summon Lewis' servants to check on him.  He was found bleeding out with wounds in his stomach and head.  Add to that the fact that Lewis was a tremendously unpopular governor due to upholding treaties made with the local Native Tribes instead of throwing them over the barrel in favor of white settlers and he was up to his eyeballs in debt, and it starts to look a lot less like suicide.

So I think that would make an interesting campaign - Thomas Jefferson assembles a team of investigators to look into the circumstances of Lewis' death and determine if it really was a suicide or not.  Along the way they'd encounter road agents, hostile tribes, wild animals and perhaps supernatural threats from America's primordial past.

I'll run it past them and see what they think.

The Kraken Wakes

Here's the first set of shots of Cthulhu finished:





As you can see, the "nature-inspired" pattern I mentioned yesterday has resolved itself into a series of leopard-spots, done in dark green and a deep, nearly-black purple to break up all the medium green and because who else has a leopard-print Cthulhu? No one, that's who.

I've got to start getting ready to drive out to Buffalo for the finale of Christmas, so some close-up shots of things like his eyes and the spots themselves will have to wait until I get back.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

From The Eternal Sea He Rises

Work has been continuing at an excellent pace on my Reaper Cthulhu - in fact, by the time you read this, I'll have completed work on him.  Yes, my painting is happily outpacing my blogging, but I wanted to stop and show you some "in progress" shots.

First off, a good shot of the tonal changes on his belly and thighs:


Next, a headshot, showing the color gradients from back of skull to tentacles:


His nails have been done; it doesn't show up real well here, but they're a very dark gray, not quite black:

And this is the beginning of something a little sneaky; I decided that I didn't want my Cthulhu to just be simply green...I wanted some patterning to him, something inspired by nature.  My first thought was a fine stippling with a dark green down the spine, but that morphed a bit...


Friday, December 26, 2014

One Hour Wargames

I got Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames: Practical Tabletop Battles for Those with Limited Time and Space on my Kindle yesterday and gave it a quick read-through.  For an ultra-light, ultra-streamlined game I have to say I like it; it looks like there's some things it's not built for (wargaming the Mongol Invasions of the 1200s, for example) but Thomas comes right out and is open about it, especially in the chapter on Ancients Wargaming - no horse archers, no scythed chariots, no elephants, but still a solid little set of rules.

The rules for the nine eras of warfare - Ancient, Dark Ages, Medieval, Pike & Shot, Horse & Musket, American Civil War, Horse & Sabre, Machine Age, WWII - are simple and straight forward, filling generally no more than 2, or at most 3, screens on my Kindle, and involve armies composed of 4-6 "elements" chosen from a short list of element types - for example, the Ancients list is composed of Infantry (including Hoplites, Roman Legions, etc.), Archers (such as those employed by the Achaemenid Persians), Skirmishers (quick-moving Peltast-types) and Cavalry.  Games consist of turns, with each player performing all their actions - moving, shooting, melee, etc. -  at a go, then their opponent doing so.  Elements are removed from play after suffering 15 "hits," which are calculated by rolling a six-sided die and adding or subtracting modifiers for troop type, terrain type, etc.

The rules take up maybe a third of the book, and then the second third is different scenarios to play through - and Neil Thomas really kind of opened my eyes here, because he comments on how often "tournament" games are two perfectly matched armies lined up and slugging it out in a pitched battle, and I realized that yeah, every time I've seen a Warhammer tournament that's exactly what's going on at every table.

The final third of the book covers solo and campaign play, which I'm looking forward to experimenting with as well.

I think once I finish Cthulhu (which honestly shouldn't be long now - I'm at the point of doing detail work, more or less) I'll base my Greeks and Persians as described here and start playing around with these rules.  I ordered a stack of 50mm x 100mm bases as a Christmas present to myself, enough to base two full-sized armies for One-Hour Wargames -- a little smaller than the 4-6" frontage Thomas recommends, but still a respectable size.

I think I can squeeze on 8 figures to a base (two rows of four) for Infantry such as my Hoplites, and then do six to a base for Archers (such as Persians) and Skirmishers (such as, perhaps, my Amazons).  Or maybe just four to a base for Skirmishers.  This also models the relative toughness and damage-dealing capacity of each type of element.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All

As a gift, the first draft playest rules for A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. is now available for download on the right there.

Gina was kind enough to give me a set of noise-cancelling headphones for Christmas - I can now safely work in my office without having the endless gossip of the people around me drowning out my music or podcasts - I'm thinking I'll test-drive these babies on Monday with the Hardcore History podcast's series on the Mongol invasions - nice, relaxing listening with an educational bent; I strongly recommend it.  I listened to the Mongol series almost two years ago when I was at my last job and enjoyed it; I've got some vague ideas about building a Mongol DBA army and some of their enemies in 1/72 scale plastic once I'm done with my 28mm plastics so I'm jonesing to listen to that again.

I've gotten a little more work done on Cthulhu with highlighting and shading, but it's subtle enough that while he looks good to the eye, the camera isn't picking up the tonal changes real well.  Pictures to come once I've got something done that will show up.

Gina's estranged from her family, unfortunately, but we spent the evening with my mom's side of the family last night and had a very good time and on Sunday we're driving out again for brunch with my parents and sister.  This is our first Christmas actually spent together despite having been a couple for four years now; long distance relationships and all that.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Can I Paint With Madness?

Just a quick post to show that I am finally moving forward with Cthulhu - he's all primed and a base coat of "Spanish Olive" acrylic paint has been laid down.





Sunday, December 21, 2014

Going Mad with Cthulhu; Charging Forward with A.R.M.Y.M.E.N.

I'm currently a little frustrated with my Reaper Bones Cthulhu project; it's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die...ahem.  Sorry, CASABLANCA flashback there.  As I was trying to say, it's the same story many painters have had regarding Bones; getting the paint to stick.

I primed the head and body separately because I wanted to be able to paint a lot of the detail in the head without straining my wrist holding up the entire figure.  Even though I primed them the same way, at the same time, in the same conditions, the body is completely fine, but the head is tacky and flaking.  I tried putting the head in baking soda, as was recommended to me, for 24 hours (I ended up giving it 72 because I haven't had much time to work on painting lately), to alleviate the tackiness and this doesn't seem to have done anything.

I'm going to have to think on this.

***

In other news, the first draft of my Accessory Rules Making Your Military Escapades Nerdy has completed, and comes to 15 pages including "identifying your troops" photos.  I've got a couple friends interested in helping playtest the game, which I find heartening.  I decided to splurge on playtest materials; instead of going to my local junk shop and buying a $1 bag of badly-cast, detailless army men made from brittle plastic, I spent a bit more and ordered some better-detailed, well-cast Greens and Tans, as well as a couple vehicles,  I also did a quick walk-through my local pet store to check out the plastic aquarium plants for sale - I'll be back on my next paycheck to pick up a few I can build a forest from.

As an aside, while I have Amazon Prime and can get free two-day shipping, that would put my delivery date for my stuff at December 24th.  My dad's a mail carrier, and I know what hell this time of year is for them.  I'm not about to put more work on my mail carrier, so I opted for a slower delivery and so won't be playtesting until around the first of the year.

If anyone's interested, let me know and I'll put up the playtest rules for A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. up for download.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A.R.M.Y.M.E.N.

I've been looking for a wargaming club in my area, and there just don't seem to be any; everything I've found reference to either went defunct five years ago or more, is Warhammer/40K exclusive, or has broadened its gaming scope to be all-inclusive and thus there's one wargamer sitting amidst dozens of people playing Magic: The Gathering or trading Pokemon on their vintage Gameboys.

There are actually a large number of gaming clubs in my area; we've got a plethora of colleges, including my alma mater, and they all have gaming clubs and all put on their own annual conventions.  I was a member of the Geneseo Area Gaming Group, the organization for State University of New York at Geneseo, all four years of my college experience and an officer of some stripe or another for three of them, rising as high as the rank of treasurer, though primarily holding ceremonial posts such as "Minister of Wargames and Board Games."

But the thought occurs to me that now, as then, if I want wargaming to happen in my area I need to be the one to make it happen.  Running GAGG, the convention put on by the Geneseo Area Gaming Group, is rapidly approaching; I'm actually scheduled to run a couple sessions of the Call of Cthulhu RPG, 7th Edition during the course of it.  I feel like I've booked myself heavily enough for this year's convention; I need to have time to do the ordinary grown-up stuff of the weekend as well, like grocery shopping and spending quality time with Gina.

For the future though, it might be worthwhile to try and draw some people into wargaming with a big, flashy table display and bring a co-GM to help demo the game.  But how do I do that on my current shoestring budget?

Army Men.  Green and Tan Plastic Army Men.  They're cheap and plentiful to be had, they're big enough to where they and scenery would be eye-catching from halfway across the room, especially once you add in tanks and halftracks and helicopters and the like.


So I, assuming that there's nothing new under the sun, went looking to see what rules people had written to accommodate Green Plastic Army Men (when not melting them with a magnifying glass or, as my dad used to do in his youth, heating up a nail and pushing it into the poor blighters to create "battle damage").  I found a couple and did some reading, and none of them really spoke to me.

So I decided to write my own.

Tentatively entitled "A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. - Accessory Rules Making Your Military Escapades Nerdy," I'm trying to keep the rules as simple and straight-forward as possible to accommodate the player new to wargames altogether, while allowing for complex and creative tactics and strategies.  I'm not attempting to model any actual military with any sort of accuracy or realism; as I'm not and have never been a soldier, I think that trying to do so would be an exercise in futility on my part and would leave me feeling like I was being disrespectful to the brave men and women who actually serve their countries.

The warfare of A.R.M.Y.M.E.N. is the warfare of movies like THE DIRTY DOZEN.  It's meant to be dramatic and over the top, and above all provide a degree of spectacle.

The core mechanic is simple; individual figures and vehicles have various abilities such as Melee Combat, Ranged Combat, Morale, each with a numerical rating between 2 and 6.  To succeed at using an ability (for example, if a squad of Infantrymen wants to Shoot an enemy squad), roll under the rating on a six-sided die; a result of 1 is always a success, a result of 6 is always a failure.  Infantry figures have, effectively, one "hit-point" - on a successful hit, they're removed as casualties.  Vehicles can take more hits before breaking down and becoming part of the scenery.

I've got some rules for some additional stuff as well; while the default Infantryman is assumed to be carrying a rifle, figures cast with mortars, minesweepers, bazookas or flamethrowers can be upgraded to carry such weapons in game, for example.  Gray plastic army men are assumed to be mercenaries, and can be used by either side as cheap allies (though with poor morale compared to the Greens and Tans - the Grays would rather live to get paid another day!), and blue, red and black army men likewise represent special troop types.

One bit I'm particularly pleased with is that either side can be upgraded with the ability to, once per game, call in a long-range strike.  When this ability is activated, the player using it takes a step or two back from the table and uses a dart gun, such as those manufactured by Nerf, to try and take out enemy soldiers.  They get one shot and if they miss, too bad.

I've still got some writing to do but once the first draft is finished I'll post it here and include After Action Reports of playtest sessions.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Dream and a Review

I might be spending too much time ogling toy soldiers on the Internet lately, because I dreamed about buying figures last night.  Or rather, I dreamed I was agonizing over which figures to buy while taking advantage of a sale (that isn't actually happening) at Brigade Games.  Is that just the saddest thing ever? That even in my dreams I sit there being indecisive and arguing with myself over whether the French Foreign Legion or the Seleucids will be more fun to paint and/or see more action at the table?

Actually, I think the reason I had this dream is because the yarn shop Gina (my loving and supportive better half) frequents also has an online presence, and is doing a "12 days of Christmas" sale right now and she's torturing herself trawling the deals and trying to decide (as money is tight right now, and she can't just buy 40 lbs of Crazy Zauberball sock yarn) which has the greatest value to her - what I was doing in my dream (the sale was 50% off all infantry figures site-wide) was exactly what she's doing right now as she sits across from me.

In other news...

I finished reading Harry Pearson's Achtung Schweinehund!: A Boy's Own Story of Imaginary Combat, which is something of a memoir of wargaming.  I'd read a review of the book at 28mm Victorian Warfare in which Mr. Awdry spoke very highly of it.  While I enjoyed the book, I think there's an age and continental gap; much of the book was really enjoyable, but there were quite a few points where I found myself rolling my eyes at Pearson's almost-calculated curmudgeonly attitude.  His tirades against fantasy gaming and the smugness that came across in his explanation of how he came to collect only 20mm Napoleonics sculpted before 1968 kind of felt like he was affecting an attitude to try and maintain a sense of superiority.  Of course, I don't know the guy personally and I'd probably really enjoy gaming with him as long as I didn't try to put any orcs on the table.  And again, I think there's an age gap; he was born in 1961 and I was born in 1987; my introduction to wargaming miniatures came via the same fantasy figures he so vigorously decries.  I'm actually planning to pass the book along to my father; while he's not a wargamer, he was a military modeler from around the age of 8 until his late 30s when deteriorating eyesight made it harder for him to assemble kits - and a 1/32nd scale E-100 tank frustrated him so thoroughly by having each link of the tracks a separate piece that he finally stopped.  I think he'll find the book amazing and appreciate a lot of what Pearson has to say as well; given that dad was born in 1959 they're basically the same generation just on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Serving Pharaoh


So, I'm a bad boy, and bought more figures.  More specifically, I backed Mike Burns' Egyptian Miniatures IV Indiegogo.  It's in its final stretch so if you want some topless Egyptian women gracing your painting desk, now's the time to get in.  I kept my donation modest - just enough for a pack of figures and the "Mummy and Victim" add-on.  I figure there's only so many bare-boobed women I can sneak past my loving significant other, even in 28mm scale.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Can We Just Talk About How Great This Is For A Second?

This is the Persian Infantry sprue bundle from Wargames Factory.  For $2 and change, you get six of these little sprues, each of which has the parts to produce two infantry figures in a variety of armament configurations.  I bought ten of these bundles, because I have problems like that.  I don't even have any plans to do anything that would require or even suggest the use of 120 Persians.  I just bought them because they were cheap and look good and give me a lot of stuff to work on or convert from.

Do you see what I see in the corners of those sprues? They're designed with peg and cup connectors so that the sprues stack super neatly and actually kinda stay together.

I've never seen this before.  Ever.  And yet it's so obvious.

Why hasn't anybody done this before? Seriously, why didn't someone think of this in the 1960s when plastic model kits first hit the scene?

Other then that revelation, not much to report here.  I bought a couple decent-sized Tupperware-style tote containers to organize my painting stuff; I've got a big one for upcoming projects, two medium-sized ones for paint and tools, respectively, and a smaller, three-tiered one to use as a bits box.  Gina advised this course of action, which may have something to do with containing the sprawl of growing projects and keeping me from going too bonkers with buying miniatures.  Which is fair; I know myself well enough to know that left to my own devices I'd be buying far more then I could ever get painted or would ever use at the gaming table.

I got Cthulhu's wings attached and puttied; 24 hours to cure and then Monday morning it looks like the temperature will be high enough and the humidity low enough for me to prime successfully.  That's the hardest thing about being a miniature painter here in Rochester, or nearby Buffalo where I grew up - it's a pain to prime figures when it's -9 degrees outside!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Not Much Has Been Done, But Much Has Been Considered

Confession time: I've not done a lick of work on Cthulhu since Sunday evening.  I just haven't been able to really set aside the time and energy to give him the attention I want to be able to give him.  I have decided that I want to attach the wings and putty the gaps in them before painting, so I've got my fingers crossed that I'll be able to get on that tomorrow so he's got all Sunday to cure.

In the mean time, boxes - boxes upon boxes - have been arriving at my apartment.  The three orders I'd placed with Wargames Factory during their Black Friday sale event all arrived this week - one on Monday, one on Tuesday, and one on Thursday that would have been Wednesday if it weren't for the damn snow storm.

So let me just do what my girlfriend does whenever she buys new yarn for her knitting habit - spread it out over the bed and take some pictures so she can carefully catalog her "stash" and remain knowledgeable of everything she's got in her collection - and given that she's got two huge tote-bins in the closet filled to capacity with carefully packed skeins of yarn, that's quite a bit!

Those are her little pink piddies in the background, by the way.
Not mine.
I actually see a lot of similarities between her knitting and my miniature painting.  In both cases we're engaging in a certain degree of crafting, from which we derive a great deal of pleasure, and then there's a practical aspect (in my case, the simple joy of pushing figures across a table to simulate conflict; in hers, having a warm neck during these bitter Western New York winters).  And while we both can spend a considerable amount, it's because we're buying quality; when it comes to yarn, she has Cadillac tastes - no $3-a-skein acrylic fiber yarn for her! And with me, sure, I could buy a bag of green plastic army men for $3 at the toy store, but I'd rather have the crisp detail of someone like Wargames Factory, or Bob Murch's Pulp Figures, or even Games Workshop.

And in both cases, the ratio of enjoyment-derived-per-dollar-spent is pretty high.  Sure, she might spend $30 on a nice skein of Malabrigo Worsted, but she's going to spend 5-8 hours, at least, using a pair of chopsticks to turn a ball of string into a hat (which, to me, is pure sorcery), plus the countless days she'll wear the hat.  That $30 ends up going a very long way.  Likewise, for example, during the sale I bought a box of Amazons that was marked down to $16-and-change.  Factor in the hours I'm going to spend carefully clipping the pieces from the sprues, sanding mold lines, assembling figures and then painting, and even before I put them on the table and play a game with them, that $16 investment has gone a pretty long way.


And that's not even taking into account that I'm planning to convert half of them using pieces from the Persian Infantry sprue bundles I bought to bring them a little more in line with what "actual" Sarmatian/Scythian warrior women would have probably looked like, and that stretches the enjoyment even further as I plan conversions, carefully cut pieces apart and glue them together into new configurations.  No longer will my Amazons have frigid nethers as they fight in tiny leather skirts on the arid steppes; nay, it's trousers for my ladies, I say!

I bought enough of these Infantry bundles to assemble into 120 figures...
And in both cases, my toy soldiers and her knitting, it's a hobby where realistically we're going to be doing a lot of work in our pajamas, sitting on the couch with the TV going in the background, some show we've heard rave reviews of playing on Netflix, and we'll poke our heads up and realize that half a season has gone by and we have no idea what any of the characters look like.

I've made a few mentions of pushing figures around on the table, and I may have mentioned previously that I'd been casting around for a good ruleset to use with these Greeks, Amazons and Persians.  And it dawned on me today that I already *have* a great ruleset handy.


I'm a big fan of John "Buck" Surdu's G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. (Glorious Adventures in Science Loosely Involving Generally Historical Times) skirmish ruleset.  The rules are fast and easy to learn, the number of figures required to play are very low, and it really puts a lot of emphasis on creativity and fun.  While ostensibly designed for Victorian Science Fiction, I see no reason why I couldn't quickly and easily adapt it to any setting or genre imaginable (well, I can imagine that a romantic comedy wargame might be a bit tricky).  Strip out the steam-tech and throw in something to give shields and armor some value and I think I'd be ready to go with a "Bronze Age by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T." game.  Heck, there's even rules for strange beasts in the G.A.S.L.IG.H.T. manual - no conversion really necessary to start churning out mythological beasties for more Mythic games.  For that matter, leave in the steam-tech and call it Atlantean technology or the handiwork of Daedalus and we're good to go!


I've got plenty of figures for Amazon, Spartan and Persian factions for Bronze Age by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., maybe I should get some Egyptians, Macedonians, Scythians...and of course the mythologicals; I'm going to want minotaurs, harpies, cyclopes...And since I bought those British Colonial troops I should buy some Zulus, maybe some Prussians and French Foreign Legion as well...


According to Gina, in the knitting community there's a term - SABLE.  It's an acronym, standing for "Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy," referring to knitters who accumulate more yarn then they can reasonably knit up before shuffling off this mortal coil.  Immediately upon hearing the term I had to laugh, because I know miniature painters do the exact same thing, but I don't know that we have as catchy a name for it as SABLE.  So I'd like that to maybe catch on and get used by wargamers in reference to their overflowing closets of projects and shelves groaning under the weight of unpainted lead.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cthulhu Update: Not So 'Armless Afterall

C'thulhu's arms and tail have been attached to the body and the slight gaps where the pieces meet filled in with Green Stuff.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out; this time around, I was smart and, true to my human heritage, used tools instead of trying to just work Green Stuff with my fingers like I did back in high school/early college.  I completely forgot to take "in progress" shots again (something I hope to be better about once I reach the painting stage) but all I did was roll out a small dab of Green Stuff into a thin "sausage" and then wound that around the edge of the arms and tail where they would meet the body.  Dabbed some superglue onto the pegs connecting the pieces and pressed them together, then smoothed out the Green Stuff and cleaned away the excess.  Simples, as they say across the Pond.

Here are some shots; I love how dynamic the figure's pose is; he definitely feels like he's lurching forward - as Lovecraft put it, like "a mountain walked or stumbled."







The one thing I'm still iffy about is whether or not to attach the wings prior to painting; I know I want to leave the head off because of all the detail, but I feel like if I leave the wings off then I can paint the back of the figure more easily; however, test-fitting the wings to the body reveals some significant gaps.  I suppose I could paint body and wings and then attach them, work a little putty in, and then carefully paint over the putty to match the body as best I can.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cthulhu Update: Happy Feet!

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to be able to share this news with you.  I resumed work on my Reaper Bones C'thulhu again last night, and successfully repositioned his feet so that the pegs and slots on his feet and the base line up neatly and he slots right into his base without difficulty.  


Not going to even pretend I wasn't nervous as hell about doing this.  I've never done much in the way of repositioning miniatures (other then the occasional straightening of a bent sword or a slight arm adjustment), and never in the polymer that Bones are cast in, and absolutely never on a scale as massive as C'thulhu's.  His legs are as thick as my fingers, for crying out loud!

I don't have photos of the reposing process, because both hands were busy and my girlfriend had gone to bed.  So let me walk you through the process anyways, even though I can't illustrate it step by step.  



I brought a pot of water to a boil and prepared an ice water bath right net to it in a large bowl.  Once the water was good and boiling, I submerged C'thulhu into it up to his knees; I just wanted to repose him from the knees down, so there's no point in having his whole body soft and floppy.  I held him in the boiling water for 20 seconds - even used the timer on the microwave (right above the stovetop in our apartment) to make sure I was keeping good time.  

Taking him out of the boiling water, I lined up his left foot peg with the hole in the base, and used that as leverage to bend the legs exactly right so that the right foot hole lined up with the peg on the base as well.  Once I was satisfied, I lifted him off the base and deposited him in the ice water bath for about 30 seconds.  A second test fit to the base showed that one of his legs had shifted a little before going in the bath, so I popped him back in the boiling water for about 10-15 seconds, refitted him to the base, let him cool down slightly while still on the base, then put him back in the ice water for a final setting.  



Now why the hell didn't I take a "before" shot to show how misaligned his feet were to start with? As an aside, I haven't glued him to the base yet - that'll be the last step once everything's fully painted.  The plan for this afternoon is to spend some time with the superglue and Green Stuff and get his arms and tail attached to the body and the gaps between the pieces filled in and smoothed over.  The head and wings are going to be left off until painted, so once this is assembled and the Green Stuff sets fully I can begin painting - probably some time early next week, either Tuesday or Wednesday night after work.  

And honestly, not a moment too soon.  My stress and anxiety levels have been through the roof lately as my responsibilities in the office increase and the amount of time I end up spending working through other people's mistakes goes up, and I'm really looking forward to spending some quality quiet time with the brush and paints and letting myself Zen out while basecoating this figure.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Steam Tank Follies

The first of my packages have arrived - one, containing my shiny new self-healing cutting mat, my sculpting tools and my Green Stuff; the other, my 1/72 scaled Mk A Whippet tank.  Opening the second, I carefully took the sprues out of the box to inspect what I'd be working with.

Hilarity has already ensued.

I couldn't find specifics regarding how big the completed kit would be online, but knew that since it was a 1/72 scale kit, it'd be, well, 1/72nd the size of a real one.  Looking up the measurements of an actual Mk A Whippet, I did some rough calculations and came out with some numbers suggesting the assembled kit would be between 4 and 5 inches long.

I miscalculated.

The assembled kit will be closer to three inches long.

Here's some shots of the sprues (one of the big chassis pieces broke off the sprue in transit), including a shot with a nickel for scale.







So now I need to recalculate a little regarding converting this into a "Land Ironclad" for Steampunk/VSF wargaming.  It's still getting converted (into a one- or two-man Ironclad), don't get me wrong, but I need to do some rethinking about how I go about it.

I think I'm going to assemble the chassis, minus things like the Hotchkiss machine guns and the exhaust pipes, and use that as a frame-work to build a Land Ironclad over; a couple pieces of plasticard cut to the appropriate size and shape glued over the Mk A will create a bulkier vehicle, and then I can put a turret on top - Brigade Games has a couple nice ones, and if I fatten this bad boy up a little I can put the 1" turret on top of where the fixed turret of the Mk A is.  Speaking of, I think I want to turn the tank around; on the Mk A, the turret is above the back end of the tank, with the engines encased in the lower area in front.  If I turn it around it'll resemble a more "modern" tank in general outline and I can put a boiler and smoke stack on the "back" behind the turret.  Then I'll just glue the Mk A tank treads back on over the plasticard body.  Prime, paint, seal, get it on the table.

Now, this is not a priority project for me by any means; Cthulhu needs to be done first (I'll be doing some good work on him this weekend), and by the time that's done I should have all the figures I ordered from Wargames Factory in hand and can plan my next project.

Speaking of, I noticed that they've got a Persian Infantry sprue bundle deal, where you get just the figure sprues from the Persian Infantry boxed set minus some accessories, for $2.49 per set of six.  That's $2.49 for twelve figures, six each of archers and spearmen.  I ordered ten bundles, which brings the total number of Persian Infantry I've got coming in the mail to 144 infantrymen.

2015 might be the Year of the Achaemenids.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I Was Bad This Weekend

I spent a lot of money on gaming supplies this weekend, taking advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales where I could, but I still spent a lot of money, and fairly selfishly at that.  Yes, I did half my Christmas shopping this weekend as well, but still...

I bought:

A tube of Green Stuff epoxy putty and some sculpting tools so I can finish assembling and filling seams on Cthulhu.  I also bought a self-healing cutting mat to use to trim pieces on as opposed to lining the dining room table with newspaper.

I bought a 1/72 plastic model kit of a Medium Mk A "Whippet" tank, as fielded by the British during the First World War, which I will be converting into a "Land Ironclad" for Victorian Science Fiction/"Steampunk" wargaming.  I refute the difference in scale (1/72 scale is equivalent to 20 or 22mm scale, not 28mm) by stating that early tanks were small and cramped, and a fictitious predecessor 20-30 years earlier would probably be even more so.

(As an aside, "Steampunk" is the only thing on earth I'm a snooty hipster about.  I grew up reading Wells and Verne, and was really into VSF/Steampunk as an aesthetic starting around 1999, 2000.  So when people started throwing brass gears onto top hats I was originally very excited, but eventually discovered that a lot of the steampunk enthusiasts I was encountering had no understanding of the literary origins of the subgenre or the historical narrative of the Victorian Age and merely thought it "looked cool," and I subsequently kind of cooled towards Steampunk - but I still confess myself an ardent enjoyer of Victorian Science Fiction)

photo courtesy Wargames Factory.  Used without
permission.

And then I went kinda nuts with Wargames Factory's Black Friday Weekend sale.  All their kits were at least 25% off, some as much as 50% off.  So I basically stocked up for 2015.

First off, I picked up a box of British infantrymen from the Anglo-Zulu war; paired with the Land Ironclad I'll be building off the Mk A, that gives me a pretty solid core of a British army for G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., my favorite set of skirmish rules and, truth be told, the only wargame I've ever played.  I highly recommend it.  Somewhere down the line I'll find some 28mm Prussians or Martians or the like and have a pair of warbands so I can demonstrate the game at conventions.

From their Legacy of the Greeks line, I picked up one box each of 28mm plastic Hoplites, Persian Infantry, and Amazons.  I honestly have no idea what I'm going to do with them - I'm tempted to base them for De Bellis Antiquitatis, though I think most people playing DBA play at the 15mm scale.  I also kind of half-want to simply do the Hoplites up as a diorama piece showing off the famous phalanx.  I know I want to do the Amazons as archers, and the Persian Infantry will be assembled for their famous sparabara formation, with a wall of shield and spear-armed warriors protecting a second rank of archers.
photo courtesy Wargames Factory.  Used without
permission.

I picked up a box of Orc warriors because they're some of the most gorgeous I've seen - way better then the cartoonish sculpts put out by Games Workshop and their imitators.  These guys I'm thinking will be diorama fodder; I've got no real interest in fantasy wargaming as such and don't see myself buying boxes and boxes of these for something like informal Warhammer tourneys, though maybe they'll get based as an army for Hordes of the Things, the fantasy version of DBA.

So that's...139 figures and a tank, if my math is right.  That should keep me busy for most, if not all, of 2015.  And I'm forcing myself to finish Cthulhu before I begin work on anything else.

photo courtesy Wargames Factory.  Used without
permission.
All photographs (save for the box art on the Mk A up there) belong to Wargames Factory, and if they want them taken down, I'll gladly comply.