You'll find a little of everything here. Genres covered in this blog include (so far) prehistorics, fantasy, old west, swashbucklers, pulp, Blood Bowl, Ghostbusters, gladiators, nautical, science fiction and samurai in 6mm, 15mm, 28mm, 40mm, 42mm and 54mm sizes. You'll also find terrain, scenery, basing, gaming, modeling, tutorials, repaints, conversions, art and thoughts in general about the hobby.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tusk Mammoth Hunting: The film crew

I put together a draft of rules I created for playing a 1930s era film crew in the game Tusk.
You can find the PDF here, if you want to try the rules out. I've seen a couple miniature film crews out there (Eureka and Pulp Figures) so you won't need to convert any figures like I have (I used Copplestone Castings figures to build my own crew, seen here.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nice book to inspire your samurai games

So I picked up and have been reading "Samurai Swordsman: Master of War," by Stephen Turnbull (of course.) This is a general history book; imagine reading an Osprey book, but 200 pages. What I find interesting about the book is its smaller discussion about major battles to make room for more discussion about samurai fighting outside of major warfare.

In it you'll find discussion about Samurai in society, Sword schools (and their sometimes violent transitions,) Sword pilgrimages (musha shugyo) by the likes of Musashi and Bokuden among others, Street gang warfare (my favorite chapter), Samurai during the Tokugawa peace through the Meiji Restoration. There's even a chapter covering samurai women.

Among the chapters, my favorite sections (so far) include an interesting (if short) discussion about Edo firefighters battling one another;) a few accounts of samurai vendettas including one that spanned almost 30 years; and the chapter about street gangs in the Edo period (this chapter contains the firefighter section.)

I also recommend the small sections about the "Spray of Blood on Kojin Mountain," which Turnbull calls the "O.K. Corral" of old Japan, and the "Quarrel in the dry riverbed of the great Tonegawa," which also serves as the backdrop to the very first Zatoichi film (The Tale of Zatoichi -- 1962.)

There are indeed a few chapters on major warfare, and Turnbull gives a nice discussion on the evolution of the samurai from mounted archer to swordsman (via the spear.) He also does a great job of giving small accounts of battle, street fights, duels, killings and vendettas. Many of the accounts are somewhat detailed (though, not blow-by-blow.)

The book is illustrated mostly with Japanese prints, but there are also a few photographs of reenactors. I would recommend the book LAST as a reference for painting minis, but first if you're looking for some good stories without getting too scholarly.

Hetairoi's Tusk

I converted these 54mm figures from Bronze Age
generics into cavemen so I could play "large"
games of Tusk. I never did finish that 54mm
mammoth ... hmmm.
If you've seen any of my cavemen on this blog (28mm or 54mm), all of those were originally painted specifically to play Tusk, one of the great beer-and-pretzel prehistoric hunting games. One of the neat mechanics the game introduced me to were the reaction tables, simple charts that controlled the behavior of the animals being hunted.

I liked the mechanic because it allowed me to play the game solo; I enjoyed many a fun Tusk game. I sought out games with similar mechanics, and this led me to Two Hour Wargames which takes the whole action/reaction system a few steps further. I got heavily into many of their rulesets, and Tusk got tucked away.

Well, Hetairoi Wargames has been doing a few figures for Tusk, and he's doing it right; the fire looks great next to the other figures; the cavemen have some fun styling; I think there will be some great looking Tusk games in those figures' futures. So anyway, go check out Hetairoi's blog! (It's one of my favorite.) Here are a couple links to get you started with his Tusk stuff: Fire!, Elasmotherium, Cavemen, mammoth.

If you're interested in playing Tusk, the game was meant for 15mm figures (there were figures made specifically for the game), but it works with any scale with a few changes in distances. I think Irregular Miniatures still sells the game, along with the original figures.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Army Painter Spray: Great Bones primer

A quick post (to update my many Bones rants)
Thanks to Sgt. Obidiah for the heads-up on using Army painter sprays to prime Bones figures.
It works great! There's no tackiness, it dries fast, and it has a strong bond to the figure. But there are a couple minor MINOR issues:

-- I have a can of "matt" black, but it dries shinier than my gloss coat. This is remedied with a quick brushing of some black paint that dries matt, enough to kill the shininess so I can see the figure details as I paint. There's also still enough grab for the paint to stick to, so no issues there.

-- Army Painter -- at least this can -- sucks for metal figures; Army painter chips off metal like regular paint chips off Bones figures. Oh well, no biggie, I still have my metal preparation down pat.

Like I said, a couple minor issues but with easy solutions. If you have some Bones figures, and you like a strong undercoat, I recommend Army painter spray/primer. Otherwise, for metal, stick to whatever else you use.

So- the short of it:
-- Works great with Reaper's Bones!
-- Dries fast
-- Strong bond to the figure; (it's so strong, it's like it primes and then varnishes itself all in one step.)

-- Matt dries shiny (but paint still sticks fairly well)
-- Doesn't work well on metal.

Note: I haven't tested Army Painter on hard plastic yet.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flash Point: Firefighter generalists

Here are the remainder of my basic firefighters for playing Flash Point: Fire Rescue. Also here are the Veteran and the Dog. On their way in the mail will be the specialists, which I hope to paint soon. And behind the specialists are a few more samurai because, you know, I like samurai.

One more thing I did different from the first firefighter I painted was to add a nice coating of dust and grime (a simple dusty drybrushing of some light drab.)

Bones -- some good news?

I'm feeling good about the varnish (Testors Dullcoat) holding these paint jobs together (on the Bones-like material.) But I tried something slightly different in preparing some Bones figures.

Instead of washing them in dish soap, I soaked some Bones figures for 24 hours in a bath of Simple Green (giving it a couple swirls in the mean time.)

Then I tried a little paint directly onto one of those figures (no primer) and gave it plenty of time to dry (and fully set,) and it seems to be holding really well! The paint can still scratch off, but not nearly as easily as before; it'll hold for sure during the painting process. And once the varnish is on, everything should be golden.

Now, Bones are still not my favorite -- some facial and other small details on a lot of the humans are still shallow -- but plenty of the other figures such as monsters, dragons, skeletons, goblins, orcs and such are great as Bones figures.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Mouse has fun

I'm working on the remaining firefighter figures; I just need one good session to finish them ... but work.
In the mean time, here's another drawing of Mouse:

"Does anyone else hear a tiny giggling in the air?" asks Raccoon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flash Point firefighter

I was bored, so I dug out these little guys to paint. This is one of the basic firefighter figures from the board game Flash Point: Fire Rescue. I wasn't too much for the cartoony style, but it was at least fun to paint. The simple lines and deep engraved lines also made the painting very easy. I think I can paint the rest of the figures (eight, plus the veteran and the dog) all in an hour or so.

I kept the palette simple, inspired by the Chicago Fire Dept. The reflective tape was easy to fake: It's a bright lemon yellow with just a TOUCH of light green. The rest is easy -- a couple layers of gray to highlight the black, and some jewel-technique painting for the visor.

I'll get to those other firefighters, but I'm using this one as a test figure; these figures, though a bit stiffer, seem to be made of the same material as Reaper's Bones. Or at least this material has the same qualities. So the initial problem is getting the paint to stick. I'm using the same technique I use for Bones figures: Delta Ceramcoat Black as a base coat, paint as normal, then spray varnish, which seems to work best for me. But I'm still a little wary.

Minor Bones rant (old stuff really)

I would really like to see what others are doing that their paint doesn't chip off their Bones figures.
People keep saying Bones don't need primer -- well, neither do metal figures, unless you want the paint to stay. In any case, I tried it without primer: All I had to do was look at the figure wrong and the paint would chip off.
They says to clean your figures: Done, extensively, tried dishwashing liquid, tried undiluted Simple Green.
They say the Bones are hydrophobic: OK, keeping the water out of the paint
I'm still getting a helluva lot of chipped and rubbed-off paint. (pre-varnish)

But on the flip side, I did see a youtube video where a guy hit his painted Bones figure 12 times with a hammer, and only had one chip; I would LOVE to know how he painted/protected that figure. Once I can put together a better method  (where I can hit the figures with a hammer) than my own, I think I could really launch into paint the rest of this Bones pile sitting next to my table.

Honestly, I'm guessing maybe it's all in the varnish -- just which one, I don't know.

-- So if you've tried something that works (ie, I can hammer the hell out of my figures), please share!*

Back to Flash Point

If this method I use works for the Flashpoint figures, I'll paint up the rest of the crew I have (as well as purchase and paint the expansion that has the specialist figures.) I'll paint the specialists in colors closer to the illustrations on the cards, though, I'll switch any canvas coats to the black coats as per the figure shown above.

*I guess I haven't checked up lately to see how those Bones figures I painted for Jeff are doing. I'll have to go see; maybe my method, indeed, works just fine?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Basic pattern elements tutorial (for samurai and fantasy)

I got a request for a tutorial on how I do the floral elements on my samurai, so I figured I'd just show how I do most of those design elements. Except for some random kanji, stripes and freehand work (my Edo gang boss's Hiroshige waves, for example,)  I only use these very few elements to create the designs on my samurais' clothing.

I think the illustration is self-explanatory (strokes and order,) but I'll offer a few notes here:

Dot Florals: The dot florals are just that, a set of dots arranged in a circle (or triangle if you only use three.) They can be placed as a grid on the clothing, or alternating (like the stars in the U.S. flag), or randomly strewn about.

Stroke Florals: The stroke florals are simply a series of short brush strokes radiating from a common center. You can stroke the brush out from the center or in toward the center, whichever is most comfortable for you. Try to keep the strokes even.

Rings: If you're unable to freehand good rings, try this alternative method. Paint a circle in the color you want your rig to be, then paint a smaller circle of your background color inside that first circle. Done!

Blocks: These are a nice Asian element that are easy to do. Simply paint a large diamond, then subdivide it using two thin strokes of your background color.

Combine! You can use these few simple elements to create a lot of different designs. Try other things such as alternating the color or length of your floral petals. Subdivide your block across its corners so that you create four fitted triangles instead of squares. See what other animals you can create using dots and strokes. Try painting a stroke floral pattern within a ring to create a wagon wheel design. There's plenty to try!

More samurai quilting

I finished the latest batch, but I wasn't ready to stop painting samurai, so I stripped the paint off this guy, repositioned the arms and katana and gave him enough paint to join the hatamoto-yakko.

The haori/jacket was added using green stuff. Since the arms are one piece, it's difficult to pin them to the torso, so the jacket serves to strengthen the joints.

I thought about the paint scheme for a few days before settling on the assymetrical quilt pattern for the jacket, and the floral pattern for the kimono and hakama. I also wanted to keep the colors stylish but not too bright; I think this fellow will fit nicely either in the gangs or as an independent ronin.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Edo Street Gang and the boss

Here is the last figure from the latest order. I repainted him a couple times because I wasn't happy with the other designs I had picked put for the haori and kimono. I finally settled on the Hiroshige waves.

The head is an old man head that isn't yet available; I'm having all of my commissioned figures come with separate heads so that maybe I can have Steve put together a "head pack" for all your 42mm conversion needs. The body is from SAM38 unarmored samurai in haori. The only other conversion work I did with the boss was to replace the separate (but included) pewter scabbard piece with one I hammered out of brass (to add extra durability; I like my figures to be able to stand up to rigorous handling.)

It was fun painting all of these, and they form a nice colorful gang; finally, a group that can go up against my small entourage of sword school students. I think I will get a few more of the bandit swordsmen and another figure to be their boss, and form another gang. I have enough of Steve Barber's 42mm samurai now for plenty of skirmish action -- small OR large.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Down from the mountains

Here's my other yamabushi. I used the straw-hat head from the new samurai figure on this figure. And since he had a travelling hat, I painted him up in more "traveling" colors. I armed him with a hammered-brass naginata.

After figuring out where everything was on my first copy of this figure, it was much easier to paint the second copy.

Just one more samurai to paint (then maybe another small order, and maybe JUST maybe yet another commission.) The samurai I saved for last is the samurai drawing his sword- but this one has the head of an old man; this figure will be the boss of my new Edo (or other urban center) street gang.

If you're thinking about samurai skirmish games, I recommend you at least take a look at the 42mm options offered by Steve Barber Models.  Niche scale yes, but all the figures you would need are available, easy to paint, and fun to play on the table.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Art Interlude: Mouse walking in the rain

Nothing special, just a random piece from my sketchbook.

This is from a series of "Mouse" pictures I've been drawing/painting.

I do these to relax when I need a break from the minis (though, I don't need a break -- I'm ready to paint more samurai!)

(For the technical-minded: 8.5 x 11" pencil, pen and watercolor. And yes, copyrighted.)

More samurai

Perhaps a young samurai hero, lacking experience but full of passion and righteous ideals.
This bandit will give the gang plenty of reach.
Here are a couple more samurai. The samurai with the katana hasn't had much work done to him, just a new head from one of the ronin figures (SAM9a-b). The spear-wielder uses the body from SAM9 but uses a head from the new bandit figures (posted earlier this week.) The blue-gray and red palette for the yari ronin was decided on the fly, but it works for me; I like it a lot.

I have just two more samurai to paint. I have another yamabushi, who will be next. And finally, I have the boss for the new Edo street gang I've been putting together with this batch of figures.

I've also been reading up on the street gangs of Japan again; re-reading the PDF available from Wargames Illustrated, but I've also ordered a Stephen Turnbull book (Samurai Swordsman: Master of War) which devotes most of its pages to talking about samurai conflicts/fights/skirmishes that occur off the battlefield. The Quarrel in the Dry Riverbed of the Great Tonegawa, The Spray of Blood on Kojin Mountain, The Kameyama Vengeance: How could I NOT buy this book when these are the names of the battles and skirmishes? There's even a section on "Fighting Firemen." (I saw a Google preview of the book in case you're wondering how I know much of the content.)

The book also talks about the otokodate, city police, and other usual samurai offerings Turnbull has given us in many other titles. I look forward to reading it, and to getting some inspiration for setting up some actual skirmishes with all the new figures.