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.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some more finished samurai

I finished the rest of my samurai, including a couple Reds and a couple ronin. The two kneeling Red ashigaru are a couple of my older figures repainted. I repainted them to help beef up my smallish Red faction, which will oppose Lord Kaage's retinue.

I also have a couple more ronin here, so that I have some more sword-wielding options when deciding on scenarios for games.

I kept them simple, with muted colors -- nothing too bright. I converted these by filing away the kataginu shoulders, and repositioning the swords (by filing cutting away the original sword guard and adding my own facing in the direction of the new blades.)

From here on, I think the plan for this range is to add a couple more ashigaru to the Reds, maybe another ronin/samurai or two, and to start figuring out some civilian conversions (I have two or three ideas already.) For the time being, though, I have enough figures for three buntai for Osprey's Ronin game (and a mess more figures than I'll ever need for some micro-skirmishing using Two Hour Wargames' Red Sand Black Moon rules.)

And just for the hell of it, here's a picture of some of Iga's finest:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Kaage takes care of some local ikki trouble

Nope- this isn't an AAR, I just wanted to take a couple "posed" shots of all of the new figures. Before I do any proper battling, I need to varnish most of these figures first. That'll be a few days yet because I still have a few figures on the table (a couple ronin and a couple reds.) Until then, enjoy these pics of Lord Kaage assaulting a peasant village who have the audacity to defend themselves:

42mm samurai: The Retinue of Kaage Kazuhito

And finally, here is Kaage Kazuhito himself, along with his sashimono bearer. The banner man/sashimono bearer started off as an ashigaru standing with a yari. I simply replaced the yari with a wooden sign sashimono I made using green stuff for the sign (and heavy tassles), and plastic for the "roof" pieces. I added the sword to the sashimono bearer almost as an afterthought, but I think it works great.

 I left the sign blank under the premise that when Lord Kaage is forced to visit your town, the peasants must decide on and write out their own punishment on the sign; if Lord Kaage is happy with their decision, he dispenses the punishment, and if not, he chooses the punishment (he usually ends up choosing.) Either way, the sign is left at the town.

The figure I used as Lord Kaage started off as an armored samurai defending himself with a spear. I rotated each hand which gave the figure an almost perfect stance for holding a sword. And for that sword, I chose a nodachi, which I hammered out myself from brass rod. The hand guard was sliced off of a cylinder of cured green stuff.

I also used green stuff to make the helmet crest. This took a while to get it even and smooth, but I'm happy with the result. Historically, this style of crest was meant to represent a cliffside that two samurai fell over while engaged in unarmed jujitsu during a battle (Kato Kiyomasa and an unnamed opponent at the battle of Shizugatake.) I chose the crest design as a piece of irony for Lord Kaage; he is secretly a coward, who dons the heaviest armor of any of his men, and the largest sword, with no intention of ever engaging in one-on-one unarmed combat with his enemies.

And, of course, as with the rest of his retinue, Kaage and his sashimono bearer have both been given haori jackets.

I love how this group of figures looks together. I based their haori designs on one of my unarmored samurai wearing a jingasa (seen in the group pic below.) I hope my red faction looks half as good as these guys come out; it might be difficult though because my red faction is simply a few of my figures repainted in red armor, and all bearing the same sashimono; there is no gimmick or overall theme to them. Maybe they'll look better than I think, once they're finished.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

42mm Samurai: Archers

Here are the archers for Kaage's band. These are my favorite of the group, mostly because they are so colorful. I'm hoping Steve Barber eventually does an unarmored samurai archer.

I love the look of samurai bows (yumi in Japanese.) I like their varying colors, their asymmetrical construction and their shear size (over two meters tall- taller than most samurai of the day.)

These figures, just as my yari squad, have had haori jackets added with green stuff. I've also replace part of the bows. The original figures have the bottom half of the bow as an integral part of the figure, but the top half is a separate piece you attach to the figure. I replaced that top half with pieces of lightly hammered brass rod. I replaced the bows so that I could have a more durable figure and so that I could have a much larger bow.

Next up are Lord Kaage and his banner man.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

42mm Samurai: Kaage's yari squad

I finished the spearmen of Kaage's retinue. In case you missed previous posts, these are 42mm figures by Steve Barber Models.

I've added the haori jackets using green stuff. Steve's ashigaru figures come with (steel) nagae yari (long spears) with separate cast spear heads, but I replaced them with smaller spears made from hammered brass rod. I chose to do the smaller spears so that the figures will be easy to move around the game table without toppling other figures, as well as to make it easier to store the figures in a case.

I still have some archers, a banner man and Lord Kaage himself to finish the retinue. I also have a couple ashigaru to paint for my red forces, and I have a couple unarmored ronin/samurai yet to paint up.

And I've been informed by my friend Jeff that his Reaper Bones figures have arrived. Oh, and I also have some Cast in Ruin (Gamma World-inspired) figures as well as my first batch of Low Life figures. I won't have to buy any new figures for a while (though, I might get a few more samurai once I work out some new ideas I'm thinking of.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

42mm Samurai: Kaage wip continues

I went ahead and painted all the haori jackets. I'll be doing assembly line painting for all the parts that will be constant among Kaage's retinue -- haori, havelocks, armor, weapons. Then I'll slow down to paint the clothing and armor lacing on each individual. I'll try to post as I finish each group (spearmen, bowmen, then Kaage with his banner man.)

The two samurai in the back with the blue sashimono are for my other warband which I've simply dubbed the "reds" for now, owing to their red armor. I also have two unarmored samurai yet untouched, who will be a couple more ronin. This latest batch is proceeding nice and slow, which is what I had hoped. But I think they'll be done in time for the arrival of Osprey's Ronin rules.

Note: Those bases are 40mm bases from Proxie Models. You can see all the real estate on them -- lots of space to spread grass and rocks and flowers. I'm not sure how individualized I'll be making these bases; there might be a random rock, flower bush or tall grass clump here and there.

Finished reading "Musashi"

So yesterday, I finished reading (all 970 pages of) "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa. Musashi is about the early life of (actual historical figure) Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's greatest folk hero/swordsman/ronin/etc.

He went through life as a vagabond (also the title of the manga series about Musashi) and fought many duels against a variety of weapons. Two of his more famous fights were against the entire student body of the Yoshioka sword school and against his most well-known rival, Sasaki Kojiro (who carried a nodachi which he named, The Drying Pole.)

But wow, what a ride that was. Before I bought the book, I had been looking for some samurai fiction to inspire some gaming and scenario ideas (for my 42mm samurai collection.) "Musashi" was the perfect choice.

Besides the many individual fighters in the book, there were also a few factions that could be easily gamed (especially using Osprey's upcoming Ronin rules.) Among those factions are the Yoshioka School, the Obata War school, the lance priests of Hozoin, the Mountain Devils (bandits), and the Hangawara construction gang.

I also (and predominantly) game smaller skirmishes (duels really) using Two Hour Wargames' Red Sand Black Moon rules, and "Musashi" has many individuals who would make great fighters for the game: Ronin, samurai, bandits, otokodate (early yakuza), priests, peasants, thugs -- armed with katana, wakizashi, nodachi, bokken, bows, muskets, lances, bo staff, kusamagiri -- even a blowgun makes an appearance.

And somewhere between all this action, Yoshikawa managed to put together a pretty good story. I recommend "Musashi" for sure. Don't let the high page count scare you; the book is an easy read and moves along quickly. There is very little down time.
I think I'll read it again soon. The next time, I'll put together a map so I can follow along with sort of a geographical journal of Musashi's travels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

42mm Samurai: Kaage Ashigaru

Here's the first of Kaage's ashigaru. The black armor, haori colors and design, and natural wood spears will be the constant for all of Kaage's ashigaru. Other clothing will differ in colors and patterns.

I chose the natural wood for the spears because it contrasts nicely with the darker haori. I think I'll paint anything wooded the same way, which mostly will be spears, the bows and Kaage's banner (the wooden sign.) Perhaps Kaage has some spiritual background in which all wood his forces use must be pure/unpainted.

The haori design matches the costume I gave one of my unarmored samurai. This was intentional. The unarmored samurai will be Kaage's right-hand man, who is so skilled with his blade that he chooses not to wear any armor.

Monday, June 17, 2013

42mm Samurai: Market goods

Here is some more terrain (really only accessories) for my 42mm samurai collection. I mounted these pieces on 25mm x 75mm pill bases by Proxie Models. The long bases make it easier to use the pieces to form barricades.

The barrels and urns were easy, but the food stuffs took a little work (but add some decent color to the pieces.) I'd like to make another base or two of just foods. I'd also like to make some more rice bales, though those are also slightly more labor-intensive.

I'm trying to think of other accessories I could make to litter the battlefield; I can't think of much more. Maybe a stone lantern, a well, a stack of wood. I'd like to make another house or small temple, but I want to sell off some minis first to make room.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

42mm Samurai: Banner man

Since Kaage's retinue has a banner carrier, I went ahead and made one for my Red ashigaru group. This figure already had a nagae yari (long spear), so I went ahead and turned it into a banner pole. I gave the banner some wind action to give movement to the static figure.

The banner is just some paper cut from an old Wargames Foundry catalogue pamphlet (my favorite paper for making flags and banners.) I cut it double sized, folded it in half lengthwise supergluing the two halves together, then folded/curled the banner before the glue had time to set; this helps the banner to hold its wind-swept form.

I'm giving the primer a little extra time to set on Kaage's force. Painting should start soon.
I also have my market goods to paint. Hopefully, I'll start everything sooner than later.

I've organized my collection into rough buntai (warbands) for playing "Ronin." I have two bushi buntai, and an Ikko Ikki buntai (my peasants and a couple samurai). I also have plenty of extra samurai, armored and unarmored, as well as some ninja to fill in all the blanks.

I'd like to make some bandits, but that'll be sometime in the future after I work out some new conversion ideas. North Star Figures has some great 28mm warbands for the new game, but I'm playing 42mm since I already have plenty of figures (and they don't cost that much more than the 28s.)I'd love to create in 42mm the bandits North Star is offering.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

42mm Samurai: Almost ready to paint

I wanted to show one last shot of the converted figures before I primed and readied them for painting. Jackets are done, weapons affixed and bows are strung. I gave them short yari more for convenience of maneuvering the figures easily on the table during a skirmish.

I still have to make a couple sashimono for a couple other figures I'm repainting for my red bushi, then time to prime!

And dammit- every time I get a batch of these samurai, I think to myself, "Well, these are the last ideas I have on how I can convert these figures." But no, I have more ideas now; I'm contemplating putting together a sohei warband. Maybe I'll start by stripping the paint on one of my older samurai first, then seeing if I can indeed add the longer robes of a warrior monk to the figure ....

Saturday, June 8, 2013

42mm Samurai: Ashigaru wip

Just a quick update, here is the Kaage retinue, ashigaru all in haori jackets.
All the weapons are pounded out, shaped and filed. The bows will be glued in and strung once the haori are finished.

The haori represent about three or four days' work, on-and-off. I'm doing the jackets in steps so I can try to keep the lines clean and blended. For each step, I use a flattened piece of uncured green stuff that I've cut into a specific pattern, depending on where it'll be placed on the figure. I started with shoulders, then did front lapels and upper backs, allowing the green stuff to cure fully between each step. Later, I'll go back and patch up any stray cracks or seams.

Hmm, now that I know that I can (sort of) do haori, I wonder how difficult it would be to use the technique to make longer robes? Then I could make some sohei! (warrior monks.)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

42mm Samurai: Lord Kaage wip continued

Here's Kaage Kazuhito with all the conversion work finished. It's rough in a couple spots, but not so bad that some good paint will hide it. I like this pose, it fits the sweep of that large sword. I don't know why I hadn't seen this possibility earlier (with the sword that is).

I still have a bunch of work for the rest of his guards: Clean up, bows (and bowstrings?), haori jackets, bases. It's taking a little longer than usual, but that was intentional; I enjoy converting and painting, especially the samurai, so I purposely bought a good number of figures (without going overboard) and challenged myself to a new level of sculpting, all so that this project would simply last a little longer.

In the mean time, my lead mountain grew yet again: I already have some figures from the Low Life kickstarter, and today, I received figures from Cast in Ruin, which are some Gamma World-inspired figures. I haven't even gotten them out of their packages yet (I'm enjoying my samurai too much.) It'll be days and says of priming once everything is cleaned and/or converted.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

42mm Samurai: Kaage Kazuhito wip

So this latest group of samurai (who just arrived in the post today) are being organized around the buntai (warband?) system presented in the upcoming Ronin skirmish game.

My new buntai (bushi) will have a leader, his henchman, four ashigaru with yari (spears), one with a naginata (glaive), and three with bows. To tie the group together, I'm foregoing all the sashimono (back flags), and giving all of these guys haori jackets. And, of course, they'll all be getting a similar paint job.

This figure I've started with is Lord Kaage Kazuhito himself. His weapon choice was easy; I looked among my collection to see what weapon was missing: The nodachi - or odachi - essentially a Japanese greatsword.

I used my usual hammered brass rod method to create Kazuhito's nodachi. Since the blade was much larger than I've done before, it was a little difficult to keep it even for the entire length, but I got it to a point that I'm happy with. The hand guard was cut from a cylinder of cured green stuff. (I specifically rolled the cylinder to the right size that I could cut sword guards from it. I have about 20 guards now for use whenever I need them.)

To fit the sword into Kazuhito's hands I had to reverse their positions (ie, if the palm was up, turn it down, and vice versa.) The back hand as easy because the hand came as a separate piece. The fore hand was almost a problem; I was trying to bend the arm back a little bit to close the distance between the hands (they were originally positioned to hold a spear), but I broke the entire forearm off!

No worries: I used a piece of bent brass rod to form a simple elbow, reattaching the forearm piece while repositioning it at the same time. I added some green stuff over the rod, sculpting some simple chain mail and armor plate over the elbow. And that was that.

Since taking this one photo, I've added a helmet crest, already. It somewhat resembles (or at least was inspired by) the crest seen worn by Shingen in "Kagemusha."

All Kazuhito needs now is his haori jacket. His will get long lapels on his haori (those on the ashigaru will be much more simple, without lapels - almost like vests.)

I'm liking how Kazuhito is looking; he will certainly look intimidating on the battlefield.
One more quick note: Kaage's buntai will be evil. I put them together to terrorize my peasants. "Kaage" means shadow (an apt evil-sounding name.) And "Kazuhito" means Benevolent one- I chose that one to be ironic.

His right-hand man will be Tadao (Loyal Soldier), though I haven't chosen a family name for Tadao, yet.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Random goods WIP

I had the spare bits sitting around, so while I await the arrival of the new samurai, I threw together some more random goods. I just wanted to show everybody a quick in-progress shot, so that you can get an idea of how everything is put together.
These are great for accenting terrain, providing objectives and serving as sections of barricade.