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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

42mm samurai: Samurai with katana

Well, that one got finished right quick and in a hurry! Three more to go, and a second order is on its way. The next group of minis is mostly ashigaru plus another peasant and a samurai.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

42mm samurai: Samurai defending with yari

My first armored samurai. It turned out all right (the armor lacings are honestly a bit sloppy; it's difficult to see in these pics), but I'm still happy with the overall figure.
I'm also glad the carp tail helmet crest turned out. It's not part of the original sculpt; I sculpted it from green stuff right onto the helmet. The sashimono was replaced (as it was on most of the other figures) with brass rod and thick paper stock.

Monday, December 28, 2009

42mm samurai: Unarmoured samurai

Ahh, finally, my first samurai. This was, and probably will be, the easiest figure to paint out of the whole range (hmm, yes, even easier than the peasant.) And what a great basic samurai, standing there, swords still in scabbards, taunting his enemies to test their attacks against the speed of his draw.
I'm happy with this color combination, too. The hakama and kataginu (skirt and jacket) were painted with a base of (Foundry) Russian Green 69A, Forest Green 26A and 26B (with an intermix between each layer). The kimono was a straight three-layer covering of (Foundry) 102 Red Oxide (A, B, C) with a final highlight of Spearpoint 13A. The open diamond patterns on the kimono were freehanded using Rawhide 11C; I wanted a lighter color, but I wanted to keep it muted enough so that the pattern wouldn't look too busy and distract from the rest of the figure.
The mon (the little symbols on his chest and middle of his back) were fairly easy: I painted a light grey diamond, then used the Russian Green to paint two thin lines crossing each other and dividing my original diamond into four smaller diamonds. A very easy technique that yields a nice result for the beginner.

I enjoyed painting this figure, and I'm thinking about getting another. I'm mentally debating how difficult it would be to convert the figure so that he is holding a drawn sword instead of the fan. Or, possibly, a bow? The problem would be that I need to turn the hand the hand slightly in so that the sword (or bow) isn't sticking straight out to the side (which would look too static for my tastes.)
Dang, now a bow is sounding good. I'd have to figure out how to thread the bowstring under his arm, and I'd definitely have to turn his hand. I'd also have to plead with Steve Barber for an extra quiver of arrows. Still, if I could pull it off, wouldn't that just look dandy?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

42mm samurai: More ninja

More ninja. Nothing special, just a quick drybrush of dark gray, and picking out a few details. i have nothing but samurai left over now.


Here's where it started, Grandpa Cerra tinkering away in his little workshop. He built doll houses for his daughters and grand daughters. The only things I can remember NOT being scratchbuilt on those houses were the light fixtures, carpeting and wallpaper. He was a master among masters.

42mm samurai: Ashigaru with bow

It keeps snowing, so I keep painting. Here's the latest ashigaru (and last on the table until I order more). Even at 42mm, it's still a bit of a pain to paint the lacings holding the tassets together (the armor layers covering his groin and hips).
The figure's bow originally came with the portion below the hand attached to the figure, and the portion above the hand as a separate piece. I felt the upper portion would be too fragile to glue in - it WAS provided with a socket in the hand to deal with this - but I still opted to bend out a new top portion of the bow out of brass rod and drill the hand a bit for a more solid fit. I also didn't have the patience to do new wrappings (those little black stripes) all the way up the new bow portion, so I simply painted them on.
The arrow in the ground is a piece of brass rod with flights cut out of paper. It was fiddly too. In general, this figure was an all-around pain in the ass (somewhat). But it turned out ok, so I'm happy. I'm certainly not getting anymore archers; looks like my men will be veterans of Nagashino (more guns).

Friday, December 25, 2009

300 posts and a display table

Yeah, I really didn't have anything planned for my 300th post. Maybe I'll do something for No. 500 (contest for one of my miniatures maybe???)

Just wanted to show off my display table. 15"x60", this table in my living room is where I display whatever miniatures range or time period I'm interested in at the time. For some of 2008-09 it was prehistorics (oh sigh, I had to put to storage my Sculpey pieces: dead mammoth, huts, burial site, accessories), and in 2007-08 it was my 40mm Old West. Now it is my tiny collection of 42mm samurai. To them I hope to add either a small shrine or japanese house with all the accessories. I also might make a new pond- maybe I'll even put some koi in it? (Koi ponds weren't popular until the early 1800s, so a koi pond would be a little out of place with my samurai. Still, it would look pretty cool- and yes, I would make the koi out of Sculpey, paint them and suspend them in the clear epoxy resin as it dries; gotta do it right! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BIG trees revisited

Back in May 2007 on this blog, I showed a method for making large trees using floral stems. I hadn't made a new tree since then (those I had were plenty for my purposes.)
Well, with the 42mm samurai, I wanted something JUST a little bigger and fuller. This tree is made from four full floral stems, gathered together, and wrapped with floral tape at the bottom to form a trunk. The floral tape was then given a rub down of wood glue to hold it together and give it a little strength.
The trunk was still a little tall, so I sawed a few inches off the bottom. I epoxyed the tree to a CD base, painted the trunk, flocked with static grass (I still need to do that bit) and done!
The last picture shows some of my 42mm ashigaru at the base of the tree to give you an idea of the tree's size. It stands 24 inches tall, and is about 18 inches in diameter at its widest point. I only made one this large; I think that's all a battlefield is going to need to make an impact. It may serve as a focal point for a scenario or two: something like, "Duel at Okinaki" (translated ((by Google)) as "Big Tree.")

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dad's been workin' on the ship!

Here's a few more pics of Dad's ship. The barbette of that gun has a plastic bag inside of it connected to the gun barrels. A little talcum powder is put into the barrels, then the bag is given a squeeze, and BOOM! Ok, well it doesn't go boom, but the powder shoots out simulating firing guns.

It's pretty cool. Watching him build this (through pictures) reminds me of the old days when I'd sit in the basement with him and watch him build model airplanes. I remember as a kid thinking that was about the coolest thing ever, him building and painting those models, making it look so easy. He still has some kick-ass modeling skills. I get it from him, and he got it from my grandfather who built dollhouses from scratch.

For me, modeling, painting, converting etc, is done for a couple reasons: To have some figures for playing wargames or RPGs, to practice another area of art, and to get into a good zen mode. When I paint, my mind is focused on one thing; Sure, I'll sit there with thoughts of the day going through my head, but after a while at the painting table, my mind clears and my only thoughts are, "Put paint on figure. Clean brush. Dip brush into new color. Apply to figure. And so on."
I come out of a good session of painting with a clear mind: Painter's nirvana, ahhhhhhhhh.

42mm samurai: Ninja kneeling (with Kusama gari)

Here's a pretty sweet ninja figure by Steve Barber, crouched, kusama sickle tucked close under his leg, ready to leap into action. This is also the figure that pushed me to buy the long reeds you have already seen on a couple of the other samurai. Here, the reeds/tallgrass is shown at full-heighth (uncut).
I've finished another ninja, but the Foundry black paint I used has a glossy finish, so it was reflecting the light something fierce. Once I get a matte coat on it, I'll get a pic posted. That may not be for a bit; I varnish figures in packs.
Other than that, I didn't do anything special with this ninja; I just added a couple layers of dark grey highlights, then picked out details such as the kusama chain and a coupe ties.
Still, for as little work that went into it, this is one of my favorites of the samurai figs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

42mm samurai: Ashigaru loading arquebus

The first of my black-armored figures. I'll do this ashigaru, an ashigaru bowman and one or two samurai with black armor; maybe I'll do some different color lacings. I'm not trying to paint figures to be all part of one army, but I am trying to paint them enough to split into two motley groups for skirmishing: Red armor vs. black armor.
I DO like this palette of black, green and light blue. It may be worth repeating for another ashigaru or two (after I order more :)
I still haven't decided on a mon, and now I'm thinking they really don't need one; I think the figures look just fine without.

These have really been a joy to paint up. I think I may treat myself to a few more for my birthday comin' up here in a couple days.

Here's a better pic to illustrate the size of these figures. The other figure is a Games Workshop Empire gunner. He stands 28mm from foot to eye (an industry standard):

Sunday, December 20, 2009

42mm Samurai: Ashigaru standing with yari

So, to combat my fear of painting with red, I decided to paint something with lots of red. And, hey, it turned out all right! I have a samurai I also want to put into red armor, and that's all of the red I'll be dealing with for a bit.
I have two more ashigaru left, one with a bow, and one loading an arquebus. They'll both be in black armor.
I still haven't decided on a mon (clan symbol.) I may just leave the ashigaru without any mon.
The ashigaru have been painting up fast and easy; My next order will probably include a majority of ashigaru.
In the meantime, I can't wait to see how Steve's monks and ikko ikki sculpts turn out.

It's snowing again!

So I'll probably get a little more painting done today.

Friday, December 18, 2009

42mm Samurai: Ashigaru with yari, wearing straw rain cape

I like this figure a lot. That may be due to the fact that it's only the second of the range that I've painted so far. But I like the minor oddity of a straw rain cape; and Steve Barber has done a nice job of letting the ashigaru's armor show through toward the bottom of the cape (pancho?)
I was worried about how the red would turn out, but it looks good!
I've settled on a flesh recipe: Foundry Spearshaft 13B as shade, then Flesh 5B, and Flesh 5C.
I also like blue lacings with the red armor; I'll probably do one more ashigaru (standing with yari) in the same scheme (red armor/blue lacings). I also plan on doing one red samurai. That will be enough painting with reds as I can take- I just don't have enough patience to wait for multiple clear layers of red to dry (Foundry, as do most paint companies, has thin, transparent reds. Honestly, I'm sure the red pigments are one of the more pricey- so the paints are thin to save costs. Can anyone recommend a good red? I do have some old Reaper Pro Paints reds, but they're old and have a few rogue crumblies in them.)

Oh well, back to the samurai!

"Samurai noodles!!! Samurai noodles!!!!" (3 points if you can name the movie)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

42mm Samurai: Peasant with yari

Ok, same peasant, better picture (and a comparison shot with one of my old, large trees, more of which I am contemplating making now.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

42mm samurai update: Peasant spearman finished

Here's a quick shot of my first finished 42mm Steve Barber figure, a peasant (with poor lighting.) I'll get a better photo later; I just wanted to celebrate my first finished figure of the range. I'm still working on a decent Japanese flesh tone recipe. This one is Foundry Dusky flesh6A as a base, then successive highlights of Foundry Flesh 5B. It looks all right, but it still feels a bit drab.

Now I wonder how those reeds are going to react to the spray varnish? I may have to make some kind of screen/mask. I hope it works out, I plan on reeding up one of my ninja bases, too. I reckon' I could varnish figures first and then add the reeds? Oh well. We'll see what happens to Takezo Musashi here first.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The slow ox: 42mm samurai update

Still waiting for some 40mm bases to arrive from the Warstore; the blizzard, I'm sure, has delayed them. In the meantime, I've based and primed what I could. I can't wait to start paining these. I've chosen an ashigaru (charging with yari, wearing straw rain cape) and a peasant to paint first. I want to start easy before going on to the more complex samurai armor.

I'm also going to have a terrible busy next two weeks at work (newspaper never sleeps!), so I may not be as prodigious with these figures as I have been in the past. They WILL get painted; it'll just take some time. And maybe what I need right now is to take my time painting.

The ox is slow, but the earth is patient.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quick and dirty bayonets

There's a thread over at the Lead Adventure Forum asking how to make durable bayonets. Here's my solution, though it's not the easiest (especially at 28mm) and doesn't have the best results (asthetically speaking). But it will provided a tough (and SHARP) bayonet.
This is just a hypothetical solution; I haven't actually tried this.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

When it looks like this outside....

It usually looks like this inside:

With the first blizzard of the year raging outside, I had plenty excuse to stay indoors and work on my samurai. And, well, I finished all the build work! Still waiting for bases to be delivered (and will be waiting longer because of the storm). I'll be using 40mm bases for these figures; this size of base is maybe a touch-JUST a touch-too big, but 30mm was way too small.

Usually, I'll cut away the integral bases and pin the figures direct to a greenstuff-filled display base, but that's usually because I'll have the figure standing on stone of some sort. This time I'm leaving the integral bases on- one-because these are substantial bases which would require a lot of work, and two, the figures will mostly be standing in grass with some shrub and tallgrass accents. Anyway, here's my little 42mm samurai gang all put together with new weapons, various sashimono and new crests.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dropping the hammer! Making your own swords; no fire needed

I prefer durable blades for my minis, so I usually clip the lead blade off my minis and forge my own blades out of brass rod. Above are the tools I use: A jeweler's anvil (about $20-30), hammer, clippers, needlenose pliers, some brass rod and, most importantly, safety glasses! My hammer is a little bit rusty; this is a good indicator it should probably be replaced. You also should grab a metal file to smooth off any burs (rough barbs left on your brass rod after clipping.)

Since I'll be making a katana, I'll need a curved blade. So before I do any hammering, I use my needlenose pliers to gently bend the rod into a slight curve. Do this slowly and in small increments or it will look like you have a kink in the curve of your blade. Done, now it's time to hammer!

I don't think it makes a difference which end you start on, but I prefer to start at the tip of the blade. Lay the rod on the anvil and strike the end of the blade with your hammer, then move down a couple millimeters and strike again. After some practice, you'll find a nice rhythm and striking force. Hammer down the length of the blade and then back up to the tip, making your strikes at equal distances and with as much as the same force as possible. This will keep your blade's height as constant as possible. After couple passes down and up the blade, turn the blade over and repeat the process.

You'll notice the rod starting to curve on you, making for a crooked sword. Simply take your needlenose pliers and gently bend the sword back into shape. The brass rod will build up a little heat as you hammer, so bending and plying should be a bit easier. (It won't get so hot that you can't handle the rod, though.)

After you've hammered a blade to the length and height to your liking, clip the tip to make the point. Since I'm making a katana, I only need to make one diagonal cut. Make the cut, then use your file to smooth off any burs.

Clip the blade off the main rod, viola! You have a blade! Drill a hole using the same drill bit you use for whatever size of rod you use. There will be that part of the blade near the hilt where the flat blade merges with the round rod. Enough of this area will be hidden in the drill hole in your mini, but if it bothers you, you can use a sharp, flat file to carve out more of a slit-shaped hole so that more of the blade fits into the hole, making for a more natural look.

So this blade turned out pretty good! It's a little long, so I just need to clip the tip further down the blade, otherwise, it just needs to be fit and glued! And Bob's your uncle.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Steve Barber models: You get what you paid for

Oh boy!!!! My samurai have arrived, and they are fantastic models! After having them in hand, suddenly the price seems inexpensive; these are hefty models (NOW I understand the 30% shipping charge- these were heavy!- Shipping is worth it). They are also great sculpts- my compliments to Steve Barber.
The models come loose in ziplock bags with weapons, sashimono (for most figures) and random samurai crests for the samurai. The ashigaru who have nageyari (long spears) are actually provided with steel pins and separate lance heads. The yari and bamboo pole (peasant)are still pewter and maybe a touch (just a touch) thin, but I planned on replacing them with brass rod anyway; I'll use the original weapons to accessorize terrain, bases are what not. I also plan to hammer out my own katana and no-dachi blades on the anvil. The blades with the figures are just fine, but I prefer (and do this with all my new figures now) brass blades for their durability. The figures also come with pre-drilled hands to accept yari pins, or other weapons and accessories. These are low-maintenance figures, which will allow me to focus on painting.

The size comparison photo is of Steve's ashigaru w/straw rain cape (SAM27) next to a Warcrow samurai figure. Keep in mind the Warcrow figure is actually about 33/34mm from to to the top of his head. Steve's figure in this photo is standing on a 40mm display base.
Note: On the armored samurai photo, you'll see a small hole in his lower back; That's to accept the base of the sashimono (them cute little flags samurai wear on their backs.)
Ok, that's enough for the inadvertent figure review- I was just psyched to get these. Time to get some more bases ordered, figures cleaned up and weapons hammered out. I also think I'll peruse and see what I will purchase in my next samurai order.

(By the way: These arrived just in time- A blizzard will be underway starting tonight through the next day and a half. I love Iowa.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

(Shameless plug) When in Kansas City...

...or more specifically, Overland Park, Kansas, have a visit to Table Top Games and Hobby. Lots of minis (including a lot of stuff I usually have to get through mail order) good terrain/modelling/basing/painting bits, a good selection of games (board and RPG) and an excellent collection of painted figures on display. The shop also has a very nice and comfortable gaming room with what looked like a dedicated painting area.
The place is a little difficult to find, it doesn't have a storefront that can be seen from the road, but it's worth the little search. You could also give the owner, Phill, a call (913-962-4263) and he could probably guide you to his store better than I.
I don't normally plug stores, but this one was nice, and the inventory seemed very minis and mini-painting friendly. And Phill (Phill, was that you I spoke to?) was a friendly and knowledgeable person. All my visits to Uncle Nick and Aunt Dani will now include visits to Table Top Games.
Phone: 913-962-4263
Web Site:
Physical address: 6840 W. 105th St., Overland Park, KS 66212

Note: To follow up the Baron's comment below, here is the web site for Recruits:

Monday, November 30, 2009

What Dad is doing

So I'm in Kansas City, and Dad showed me the ship he's making out of cardboard and duct tape. What you see is entirely cardboard and duck tape- absolutely no glue or any other material was used here. Dad says this represents about a month's worth of work:

Scale is 1/2"=1'

Back to the big scale (42mm Samurai)

I've placed my order and should hopefully be getting started in the next couple weeks on a new period and scale: 42mm Samurai! Thank you to Steve Barber for allowing me to post a few of the photos from his web site. (Help me pay him back by dropping in and taking a look around his site- better yet, buy something! :)

I'm looking forward to this; these will be the first samurai I've ever painted, any time or any scale. This will also be a chance to make some Japanese accessories -- pots, stick bundles, tools and implements, architecture, shrines etc. (anyone have ideas of what else a rural Japanese scene might include?), so now I have another reason to dig the Sculpey back out! I'm not sure if I want to build a Japanese Shinto Shrine or a farm house yet. The house will have more to it and be simpler to build, but the shrine will be smaller (where space is limited) but be a bit more difficult to build (curved wood corners/roof) and I would not have to furnish it.
Hmmm, I think I may go for the house- give me a chance to build a few items to go inside of it.

Hmmm, again, maybe skip the rural scene and build a gambling house; has anyone seen the latest Zatoichi film with the "lights out" fight inside the gambling house?
Well, I have some figures to paint first, so there will be plenty of time to think about it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How could I forget about these: Steve Barber Samurai

So I was tromping through the internet, looking through all my old haunts, and I came across Steve Barber Models 42mm Samurai range- Holy cow, I love these figures! I remember seeing them when Steve first started selling them. In fact, when I decided to try 40mm scale figures, it came down to HLBS's old west figures, or Steve Barber's 42mm Samurai. I chose the Old west, and it still isn't a decision I regret; there was simply a greater range of figures from which to choose at that time.

But now I see Steve has added a lot more figures to the range since then! So I'll be counting my money, and ghost-shopping figures, working out how much this will cost me. I won't be buying a bunch of the samurai- not enough to make the Hojo Army battle Line seen at Steve's site- but I'll probably pick up between 10-20 figures for a good skirmish game using Two Hour Wargames' Chain Reaction Swordplay rules. Steve does offer up his own skirmish rules; if anyone has played them, leave a comment and let us know how well they play.

Also, with Samurai, I don't plan on building a Japanese town, at least not as extensive as my 40mm, scratchbuilt old west town. But I would like to make a nice little temple/shrine/tea house (something small like this) to place among my large trees (seen here being used in an old west game)- some pretty terrain for some honorable combat.

First thing's first; I have to buy some samurai figures (oh yes, and ninja too)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Just wanted to let y'all know I'll be on vacation for a week or so; I'm gonna use the time to visit parents and get some short stories written up, so there won't be time for painting (and I don't plan on bringing any of my supplies along anyway.

But there is plenty of stuff to look at in the archives, so have a look through before you run off, and I'll be back and painting as soon as I can.

(For your viewing pleasure, here are my finished Games Workshop figures for display ... and some more that are waiting to get some color.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mordheim Reiklander youngblood

Here's one more for the display shelf. Not my best, but much better than he was. Sometime soon, I'll take an ensemble photo of all the display pieces. Looking back, I wish I had painted the figures to represent each of the city-states/provinces/states of the Empire (for you Warhammer fans who are in the know.) Maybe I'll go truckin' through eBay, and maybe they'll have a bunch of classic metal halberdiers that need some painting.

The other figure is the champion from the previous post after being rebased. MUCH better, I think. I only had to retouch his footwear.