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.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Alphabeast reminder

This is just a friendly reminder that the Alphabeast Soup Kickstarter (for which I have a handy picture-link at the top left of this blog) ends in a week. It started fast but has slowed down and will need lots of help.

If you are the parents of crazy children, have been "committed" to the asylum, or simply enjoy whimsical children's art drawn by a crazy, blind, mute hobo-priest who lives alone under a tarp in the mountains of Nepal, then this is the book for you!

Here's that link again: Buy! Buy! Buy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gladiator Helmet: Step-by-step

Here's my promised step-by-step guide on how I sculpted my gladiator helmet.

1: I started off sculpting this basic shape out of one piece of green stuff. I carefully pinched at the bottom to draw out the neck guard, from which, after the gs had cured some, I cut the notch in the middle where the two halves of the face plate came together. The eye holes were made with a pointed clay pusher tool, and the seem in the middle was etched with a needle, all while the gs was still fresh. (Not, if you want eye holes with clean, sharp edges, you can wait until the gs cures, and then drill out the holes with a pen vise.

2: To make the front half of the brim, I laid down a small roll of gs across the top of the mask.

3: First I blended the top half of the newly laid roll into the crown of the helmet ...

4: ... Then, using my fingers (wetted with a bit of water), I gently pinched the middle and bottom half of the roll into the brim's shape, while trying to keep it even around the front. Note- You do NOT need to actually "pull" the gs into the brim shape; the act of pinching it will provide enough "pull" to get the shape you need.
At this point, you can keep the brim level around the front, or you can pull down the sides a bit for a curved or other-shaped helmet.

5: Once the front half of the brim has cured, do the same with the back half. Lay down a roll of gs ...

6: ... Blend it into the top of the helmet ...

7: ... Then pinch it into a brim shape, making necessary adjustments here and there to keep the brim even all the way around.

8: I cut the crest out of a piece of cured gs and glued it to the helmet (dry-fit it first). If you have a gap where the helmet and the crest meet, you can use a touch of gs to fill it in.

This should be all the helmet you need, but you can go further, adding a horse hair crest (I'll add one on this helmet once I've put the helmet on a body), or some engraving around the helmet. There's a couple ways you might try the engraving (that I have yet to try); You can lay a thin layer of gs over the areas to be engraved and then either use the press-mold technique or grab a need;e and actually draw whatever images or designs you want on your helmet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sculpting a gladiator helmet

Well, as you can see, I've already finished sculpting a gladiator helmet. I would call this one a smashing success (especially since this is my first try at a proper helmet.) It's rough all around, but that's easy to explain away: It's a battle-worn helmet. (Or, I was lazy.) Both of these helmets are roughly 54mm scale.

I only realized halfway through the process that I should have been taking photos. That's why I started a second helmet (shown on the right in the above photo.) The first step on my first helmet was to apply a thin layer of green stuff over a head-ish shaped piece of already-cured green stuff (the core). With my second helmet, I've bypassed the core and sculpted the, head mass, face mask and neck guard all with one piece of green stuff. It's a little more difficult to keep things clean, but it was worth it to skip at least that first step.

The next step on the first helmet was adding the front of the brim. After that cured, I added the back half of the rim, and then the crest whose shape I cut out of a piece of cure green stuff. Later, I added the extra plate on the front of the helmet and some extra green stuff around the crest, which I could then engrave a little bit. Excess from the crest was pulled down to fill in the gaps where the crest and crown of the helmet met.

I'll try to show later, as I complete my second helmet, a little more detail in how I did each of the steps I just described.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proxie Models Bases: Not too shabby

My small delivery of Proxie Models bases arrived today, and I think I'm going to be happy with them- enough to make them my go-to base for all my basing needs.

The base I'm showing here is a 30mm base - what I use for most of my figures. It's the same width (of course) as the standard lipped base but the lip is much less pronounced, allowing for more space on top of the base. There is still a slightly discernible lip around the top, giving me just enough of a border for when I want to drop in some green stuff to make a flagstone base or what not.

From left, 25mm standard slotta, 30mm Privateer Press lipped and 30mm Proxie Models round bases.

Though the bases are shallower than the usual lipped or basic slotta base -- and shallower is actually what a lot of people prefer -- the base is also solid. It's not hefty, but when you hold it, it feels like a solid, well-made base. The shallower aspect will also make for a more stable base. I'm also kind of partial to the bit of texturing on top of the base. All you need is to drybrush a couple layers of browns, drop on a couple grass tufts and you're good to go!

Another thing you should note is that these are NOT slotta bases- they have solid tops. So if you have slotta figures that you might want to base on a Proxie base, you'll have to clip the tab off the bottom of the figure and pin the figure to the base. This is not a problem with me; it's almost a standard procedure.

Another minor improvement these bases will add is when basing integral-based minis. The issue I have with putting an integral base mini on a a standard base is that once it's flocked/grassed (to hide the integral plate), the figure appears to be standing on a small mound. Having the extra area on top of the base should minimize this by providing a slightly longer, and thus smoother transition from the base tot he bottom of the figure's feet. Again, this is only a slight improvement, but an improvement nonetheless.

Another curious little thing is that a standard 25mm slotta base will fit nicely on top of a 30mm Proxie Models base. So you could easily use some Proxie Models bases as color-coded status markers.

Proxie Models seems to have all the standard base sizes: 20, 25, 30, 40, 50 and 60mm rounds, 20, 25 and 40mm squares, chariot bases, cavalry bases, GW style bike bases, DBX bases and even seom 30mm hex bases (which I plan to get to augment my Dreadball bases, which I believe are also 30mm. I'd use Proxie Model bases to rebase some old Blood Bowl figures for use in Dread Ball.) Update: Looks like Dread Ball bases are 25mm. I'll give Proxie some time; I bet they'll make some soon enough.

Lastly, the price is right! Every pack of bases is $4. Of course there are different numbers of bases in each pack. A few examples are 24x 30mm bases per pack, 32x the 25mm round or 30mm hex bases, and  8x to 12x for the much larger bases (Chariot, 50 and 60mm.)

Anyway, it's a small company, they don't sell much, but all of their bases seem to be perfect for the hobby. Here's there link one more time for you: Proxie Models

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frother's Cthluedo figure

I don't what this one is called, but this is one of the figures from the Frothers forum sculpting competition from last year; the theme was cthuhlu mythos figures for use in a Cluedo-type game.

This one was straight forward: I only used three triads (all Foundry paints) - Storm Blue, Yellow Ochre and Bay (?) Brown. I also inked the yellow to help better define the tentacles.

Other stuff: I discovered (through Kings Miniatures blogspot) Proxie Models bases. These look fairly interesting -- something a little different than the usual lipped and/or slotta bases. They seem to be a lipped base but with a much more shallow aspect topped with a little more area on the top to allow more space for scenery or for those wide-stanced figures.

I've ordered a couple packs of bases to check'em out. I'll let ya know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

54mm Apocalators: Light Fighter Varro

Here's my representation of the ill-fated Varro from the (Starz) Spartacus series. I've outfitted him similarly as he was during his fight with Spartacus, bareheaded with sword and shield, and high greaves on both legs. (A minor difference for those sticklers who might be reading is that my Varro has switched weapon and shield hands. I've also added more of a galerus ((shoulder guard)) than the engraved lion armor seen in the TV series.)

This is my favorite of the bunch; I like that he has enough elements to fit in with my Roman gladiators. In fact, the unorthodox shield design is the only non-classical element on this figure.

The shield was made using the paint pot lid method I posted earlier this week. You can see the nice lip on the inside of the shield on the photo; this came from the groove in the paint pot lid. The rivets and panel lines were inscribed with a needle when the green stuff was fresh.

Next time I get a group of generic figures from Bronze Age, I think I will try one or two classical Roman gladiators (Thraex and Murmillo.) Though, I still need to learn how to sculpt proper gladiator helmets.

54mm Apocalators: Heavy fighter/poleaxe

This one was pretty straightforward. A bunch of armor, a nasty weapon, a bit of paint and done. This figure is a little difficult to sculpt over, mostly because those upraised arms get in the way of the head, and squeeze the shoulders closer to the neck. The smaller space makes it hard to squeeze tools in to shape green stuff. This is why this pose (all the different versions I've converted) have simple head coverings.

One more figure to go: Varro the light fighter. I look forward to painting him. He'll be done either later tonight or tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

54mm Apocalators: Vulgar Chain fighter

"Vulgar," for those who might remember (I didn't until reviewing old posts last night) is an apocalator class that refers to Qwik players who fight using their juggers equipment (considered vulgar equipment in fighting circles).

There are chain fighters, but the color scheme here makes it look like he belongs to a "team" of some sort, so I went with it, giving him the backstory as a Qwik player. That's two players with that yellow ochre I've painted so far in this group; maybe I should make them into a Qwik team? This figure has certainly given me some ideas on how to paint future potential Qwik players.

A couple modeling notes: The chain is a piece of jewelers chain. I "froze" it by coating it in super glue once I set the position I wanted it in. The mace head is a bit from one of my Heresy figures. The shield is another piece of plasticard that I melted, distorted and shaped using a lighter.

54mm Apocalators: Awakened heavy warrior

This is my favorite of this group so far. I couldn't say why; Maybe it's the lively yellow loin cloth, or the nice mountain of armor, or the pelvic bone chest plate - I like it all. It just "works" for me.

The pelvic bone was a piece of free-forming with the greenstuff. It was originally just going to be a shaped leather piece of armor. I was just about to apply the paint when I realized the shape was similar to a human (or a large mammal) pelvis. The blade on his polearm is a piece of plasticard, cut, shaped and drilled.

One thing I like about Bronze Age Miniature's 54mm generics is that they are not all the same height. The males are taller than the females, and then some males and females are taller than other males and females.  It's a nice mix and it really allays my compulsion to try to match figure heights when getting figures from different companies for one collection. (Though, this minor obsession did result in some fun conversions for me; I converted my tramp steamer crew because I wanted them to match my other Copplestone figures, and now they are among my favorite figures.)

Septimontium setting info: I've been thinking about other minor cultural things about the Awakened. The Waiteri are a tribe who have knowledge of how the apocalypse actually went down, and they protest the current evolution of Septimontium's civilization by shunning most technologies. But one or two of my Apocalators are Waiteri and are equipped with said tech. This is where the Awakened come in.

The Awaken share the same historical knowledge as the Waiteri, and similarly are not generally friendly to the common citizens of Septimontium. But the Awakened accept the current technologies, in fact, they are skilled enough to develop their own.

Since the Waiteri and Awakened are allies, the Waiteri will accept, in some instances, the technology of their sallow-skinned friends.

Monday, October 15, 2012

54mm Apocalators: The Awakened

It's easy to make a mutant, just paint the skin an unearthly color. This figure and another still on the table got the same color treatment for the skin (Foundry's Drab), so I figured I'll make a new race for my Septimontium setting. This is about as close to an "undead" race as I will have in my world.

Right now, all I have is a name: The Awaken. Perhaps they were simply humans who went into the fallout shelters, evolved there, and only recently have come back onto the land? That would explain how they're just "mutant" enough to change skin color, and why they are called the "Awaken."

And since their knowledge of the old world is better attuned to the truth, I think these will be allies of the Waiteri tribes (who also know the true nature of history.)

The concrete hammer was made with a length of brass rod and a piece of cured green stuff cut into a hammer head.

This was another case of the figure (specifically the colors) dictating the history of my setting. In this case, the dark, soft brown coupled with the cold gray, bandage padding around her leg and arm seemd to me reminiscent of a mummy. And a mummy seemed a perfect representative of the Awaken race- someone preserved through history (with a little rotting.)

Shields: I also took a quick picture of how I make my round shields for these figures. I gently press down on that ball of green stuff, making sure to keep it as perfectly round as I can. If I'm lucky, I'll have put just enough green stuff (but not too much) so that the edge of my shield will rest in that circular groove on the Games Workshop jar lid.

It's that groove that puts a nice lip on the inside of my shield. The lip of the shield on my Varro figure came out well, so eventually, you'll see it when I finish painting him.

After you've shaped the main structure of your shield, you can grab your tools and gently etch panel lines, designs, rivet holes or whatever device you want on your shield. Since mine are from the post apocalypse, I chose metal panel line with rivet holes (as seen on the fighter I posted most recently.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

54mm Apocalators: Simple fighter

The helmet and sword cause this fighter to stand out from the other sword-and-board fighters I have. The helmet came about as I was pushing green stuff around in a free-form manner. The shape emerged, I went with it, and then I poked some holes in it so the fighter could breath and see.

The "sword" actually started off as a nasty looking pole-ax. I decided to shorten the pole to a simple hilt (I don't know why I shortened it- this figure was mostly free-form, so I was just going with it until it was finished) and got this short and heavy blade that looks like it could either be a heavy sword or a hand ax.

I made the shield by taking a small ball of green stuff and gently pressing and forming it over the top of an older Games Workshop paint bottle. Leaving the green stuff on the lid, I used a needle to engrave the panel lines and bolt holes. I only removed the shield after the green stuff had fully cured. Shields are quite easy to make using this method- I think it could easily be adapted to making simple hoplite shields.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

54mm Apocalators: Miss Murmillo

The armor arrangement on this one was inspired by the murmillo class of ancient gladiator (hence, her name: Miss Murmillo.) A Roman murmillo had one (smaller) greave on the shield-side leg, a large scutum, and fully-enclosing helmet.

Miss Murmillo differs by having the greave on the opposite leg (actually just a mistake on my part- but no one in the post-apocalypse will mind.) And instead of the helmet she has the nice, creepy hockey mask. I like how her head is cocked to the side as if to say, "Want some candy?" Maybe I'll change her name to Candy, or a Latin alternative (Saccharon?)

I made the shield using a piece of plasticard and some plastic mesh from the terrain box. I used a lighter to gently melt and distort both pieces, then I pressed them onto a wooden dowel to get the curve of the shield.

The sword is a piece of hammered brass with the hilt wrapped in twine (for appearance and to help the blade fit better into her hand). I used needle files to make the serrated edge. Everything else that wasn't the original figure was made using green stuff (including armor, loin cloth, mask, manica and hair.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

54mm Apocalators: Mutant Executioner

No, not one who executes mutants, but a mutant who executes everyone else. This conversion came out good for me, and I'm happy with the choice of skin/tentacle colors.

I think I'll go back and redo the loin cloth in a different color however. I tried it in off-white (granite) as well as this French gray color, and I don't like either. I think I'll go for a yellow ochre to contrast heavily with the blue; I don't want him to be too colorful, but I still want the loin cloth to contrast with the surrounding colors. I might also try red or reddish brown.)

Last minor thing to do to this figure to finish him off will be to add a couple grass tufts; the PVA/white glue hasn't quite dried yet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Latest round of Apocalators built

The conversion work on my most recent batch of post-apocalyptic gladiators is finished. Painting will probably start this weekend or next week (I still need to drill holes in their feet to pin them to the bases, and that takes a little bit of energy.)

My favorite of this group is my "Varro" figure (in the lower right corner of the photo.) He was inspired by the character Varro from the Spartacus series; I left his head bare to show off his curls. This figure is actually quite close to the look of a traditional (closest to a thraex) gladiator (without a helmet of course.) In fact, except for being able to smith a proper gladius or shape out an actual gladiator helmet, I think I can sculpt my own classical gladiators. When and if I reach that point, I may sell off my 54mm Roman gladiators. To push my Varro into the post-apocalypse, I made his shield look like it was made from aluminum (aircraft?) panels (you'll see it better when I eventually post pics of the painted figure.)

My other favorite is the Nyarlathotep mutant. I'm going to paint the tentacle/tongue black with red tips. The tentacles will be blended into a blue body. I chose blue for a couple reasons: I have another blue-skinned gladiator who could be one of this guy's followers/minions, and the blue will be easy to blend into the black. I want the red tips to be reminiscent of blood.

A minor note: On my Varro figure (and a couple others), you'll notice the strap attached to his manica. This strap was made but cutting thin strips from an old Neosporin tube (a toothpaste tube will work, too.) Thanks to David at Bronze Age Miniatures for the idea. Another note: It's best to glue/secure all the straps on your sculpt first, then start adding your armor.

Just today, I ran out of green stuff AND got my new batch in the mail! 72" of ribboned green stuff! Not only that, but the new GS is about the freshest I have ever purchased. It was oh so pliable and nice to work with. Maybe I'll practice sculpting some of those classical gladiator helmets. Anyone out there sculpted gladiator helmets before? Any advice?

Monday, October 8, 2012

3rd generation of apocalators are coming along

I'm well into the creation of my latest batch of apocalators. Here are a few. I figured it was time to add old Nyarlathotep into the mix here.

I'm also happy with my new hammer fighter with here distinctive armor; I'm not sure if I'll paint it as quilted padding (as seen on classic gladiators) or as segmented leather. If my other hammer fighter wasn't already in black leather, I'd do this one up in black, segmented armor (as rubber perhaps?)

One of the hard parts (but also fun) about all this is trying to create new helmet designs. I like the helmet here on the far right, even if it's roughly done (I try my hardest to sculpt well, but I also know I can cover some of it up with decent painting.) The diamond "face" you see on it is actually the "mouth." Later, when the figure is finished and painted, you'll be able to see that there are indeed ventilated eye holes on either side above the "mouth."

Among the other apocalators are a few couple more pole-armed fighters, a ball-and-chain fighter and a few more basic sword-and-board fighters (including one who is my tribute to the character Varro from the Spartacus series; he'll get no helmet and lovely blond locks.)

I also left off a helmet on my chain fighter (though I made add a mask.) I wanted a little practice in sculpting hair.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Making my own weapons

The latest batch of 54mm figures from Bronze Age Miniatures has arrived, so I go right to doing one of my favorite things with these figures: Making nasty little weapons.

These weapons are an amalgam of brass rod, plastic card, thread and braided copper wire (thanks to Dad, who gave a trove of tiny copper wires), and green stuff. I always enjoy hammering blades out of brass, and I feel like I've improved a lot. I've moved the majority of a blade's creation after the actual hammering. Once the brass rod has been hammered flat, I clip off the end (for that Tanto blade look), then I take needle files with which I can more finely shape the blade I want.

I use the thread and copper wire to wrap the handles/hilts. I use copper wire when I want the look to be more cosmetic, and I use the thread when I'm trying to get a weapon handle to better fit into the hand of a figure.

For the shields, I stepped away from the road signs and tried the heavy, dented sheet metal look. I used a pair of pliers to hold each shield, and a lighter to slightly melt the plastic into that dented, roughly shaped look. The third shield is simply flat green stuff with added boss for a classic Norse viking look.

I went heavy on the pole arms this time because I've separated my Qwik teams out of my Apocalators, and that took away a lot of the original heavy weapons from the fighters. That, and it's also slightly easier to make pole arms (they're also easier to secure to figures).

Something I noticed after getting all my new figures armed is that I have enough for another Qwik team (three drivers, a chain and - well, almost enough- I'd need to make another qwik.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pantheon vs. Pantheon!

copyright: Comfy Chair Games
Ok, ok, ok- You're all probably sick of me talking about Kick Starter projects ("Dammit, Carmen, paint something!") But I'd like to mention this one (which I haven't backed .. yet?)

It's called Dominion of the Gods, and it's a skirmish game using miniatures (mostly LARGE minis) representing the deities of well-known pantheons. For now, only the Greek and Norse are available, but as the Kick Starter progresses, it looks like there are plans to add pantheons for Celts, Cthulu Mythos (Specifically related to Innsmouth) and Hindus (oh boy, fun!)

The figures are looking great so far. The cyclops is massive, and the minotaur looks like a great sculpt -- just a bit of the old-school sculpt (a good thing) with a nice dynamic pose.

And what a marvelous array of great sculptors they have on board: Gene Van Horne, Patrick Keith, Vlad Junger, Tim Prow, Bobby Jackson, and Jason Wiebe (one of my favorites).

It's difficult for me to find opponents with minis games, so if I end up backing this project, it would simply be for the figures. But the figures (like all figures) are usable for other games. Most likely, mine would get used in D&D sessions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For folks with kids, or young at heart or who have eaten a child recently

Andy Hopp of "Low Life" and "Where the Deep Ones Are" fame is also a wonderful illustrator who -- did I say wonderful? I meant holy-bat-shit-crazy-FUN illustrator who has started another Kick Starter, this time for a children's book: Alphabeast Soup.

This will probably be the most lavishly illustrated alphabet book you've ever beheld (too many superlatives?) It's not that much to back the project for the PDF, but the book itself (starting at only $35) will be signed if you get it through the Kick Starter project (click here! NOW!!)

So at least take a look if you have two minutes. And no, this is not a paid ad- I'm just super-keen on Andy Hopp's work ... and somewhat bat-shit-crazy-fun myself.