Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sphinx Jr.

For Steelonsand, here's a couple of shots of the nearly done Sphinx Jr. (aka Sphinx for 2mm). I've also included a shot of the pyramids that came with the set, however, the fact the Sphinx towers over them suggests they aren't quite Cheopian in scale, so I've declared them to be Cushite (or Kushite) funeral pyramids, rather than Egyptian or pseudo-Egyptian colossai. Both will be background scenery for fantasy or alt-historical games.

They came from a Safari Toob pack, the rest of the goodies in the pack will make 25/28mm scenery pieces - various statues and sarcophagi. The sphinx and pyramids were a bit of a bugger because while painted, the paint job had picked up a stain that wouldn't wash off, almost like they'd been covered in chewing gum. The rest of the toys don't need any work, but I had to prime and re-paint these, which did let me do them a bit differently.

As always, clicking on the photos brings up a larger image; the first sphinx picture in particular gives a good close-up.

This shows off sphinx jr. relative to the pyramids, and you can see in the background some of my elephant grass project. The taller grass is for 1/72 gaming, the shorter stuff for 3mm. Some 2mm riders are in the foreground for scale.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inevitable Return of the Great White Dope

The last few weeks have been hectic, with a conference and trips all over the map. So my home time has been pretty idiot-proof, catching up on sleep (finally happened last night) and not challenging my brain or dexterity.

I have had a number of terrain pieces on the table and have minor progress through them. I'm almost done about 75 elements of elephant grass for 3mm Vietnam. I also have a few other grass pieces done with static grass.

Then there's the odd situation of having both a 2mm Sphinx and a 28mm Sphinx on the same table. The 2mm Sphinx, and pyramids, came from a Safari Toobs package I picked up on sale.

The Splintered Lands ship is ready for painting and is in the line-up. I also got all the VC/NVA figures cleaned up and ready to base. US forces are next.

So then amongst all that mucking around, I got distracted by the AK-47 rules for post-colonial Africa and have them on their way from the UK. I figure on doing them in 3mm, lots of figure and vehicle options and it's a scale where I can dabble without blowing the bank. I'm not sure if I'll use the AK-47 in their entirety or just use the campaign rules and then swap in B'Maso by Too Fat Lardies.

And so it goes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bamboo U, Part the Last (III)

Ok, so another hour of playing around got these two test stands done, except for the sealing (which could be where I blow it - I've blasted foliage off trees before).

To sum up, I'm pretty happy with these. These pictures do kinda make them look like broccoli, but they don't from a distance (e.g. the chopper-view pictures below). I also really need to get some jungle trees done, without the reference I keep thinking these are proper trees. The 'proper' trees will be at least half again as tall, with grey-brown trunks. It's just a mindset thing.

Changes to my method, now that I'm done:

  • Paint the tops of the pins a dark green, so any pin peeking through the flock will look like foliage.
  • No need to do ground cover in the interior of the impassable bamboo! Just focus on the edges of the stand, if you want again (again, appears to have been highly variable).
  • Can probably ixnay the brown trunks, it causes me mental confusion with trees, and slows things down to switch paints over. Maybe for any special stands, but for mass production I'll fill with "fresh foliage". On the plus side, for other genres brown would work for proper trees in 3mm.

Shaky view flying in on the chopper...

About ready to land, hope the bamboo tree-line is empty...

Grunt's eye view of the passable bamboo stand, with room for 3 fire teams.

Grunt's eye view of the impassable bamboo stand.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bamboo U, Part Doo (II)

The next step in Project Bamboo was painting. Did the bases, then the bamboo shoots (trunks?). The only thing left is flocking some ground cover, then seeing if my plan for the top foliage works.

A top view of the impassable bamboo. You can see in a horizontal line through the middle my tests of different paint colours for bamboo. I left them in because I wanted to see how it looked finished, and whether some variety would help the finished product. I'll go with two at least, a typical green and then a brown representing dead or mature bamboo.

So starting from the brown trunk on the left (passed the test, will be the standard brown trunk), there's the near-yellow "Lemonade" that I thought would be my standard green/yellow trunk...but it failed. To its right is a green that wasn't bad, but is choice #3 of my greens. Then there's a brown trunk in the middle (leaning), that was too close to the base brown. Then there's the green that passed the test ("Fresh Foliage"). Finally another, flatter green that would have been ok if I didn't have Fresh Folliage.

Side view of same.

Side view of passable bamboo, meaning I can fit bases (pennies) onto it. I left room for three pennies all told.

Still also have to figure out what shapes to build the production stands. Narrow strips to border the bamboo forest, then using felt in the interior, or rounds like the above. Some rounds will be useful to include in the interior in any case.

Vietnam Heavy Weapons Figures (3mm)

With help from Marcin of Oddzial Osmy (aka O8), I've sorted out the figures that come with the US and NVA/VC heavy weapon/command packs, and I've prepared some labelled pictures below.

The US comes with 3 types of sprues: two of individuals that can be separated (one of 3 figures, one of 5), and one that has both an aid station and a positioned M60. I didn't include a photo of the latter, as it was hard enough getting photos of the other sprues and it should be easy enough for anyone to tell the difference between the two.

The NVA/VC come with 2 types of figures, a sprue of 5 individuals, and one of two heavy weapons. The sprue of 5 does come with a variation, at least in the current collection, as one figure has a leg that isn't visible in some of the sprues (the other leg is), giving a standing appearance, as opposed to running. I didn't even notice the lack of the leg until it was pointed out to me, I just figured it was an upright dude.

Anyway, the sprues are as follows:

US "3"

US "5"

NVA/VC "Heavies"

NVA/VC "5"

As I mentioned, these were tough to photograph; it took about 30 pictures to get 4 that were halfway in focus. An issue with my photography skills more than the miniatures. There is a lot of detail here that will show up once painted.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bamboo U, Part I

There's been a lot of discussion on the TooFatLardies Yahoo group about making bamboo lately, in scenic anticipation of the forthcoming Charlie Don't Surf Vietnam-era company-scale rules (an IABSM offshoot). What we're all trying to model is this:

To the sides we see what an "impassable" stand of bamboo looks like, with a handy trail through the middle.

This shows some of the top foliage, which will be the trickier part to get right. It looks generally like it's only at the top, but it does run down a bit. This would be "passable" bamboo.

A distance shot of a bamboo forest, showing that from further away the foliage seems to be clumpy at the top, which I think will be my main objective in getting right in the end.

Most of the ideas have been for 15-20mm scale terrain pieces, which has been helpful to me in thinking of what to do for my 1/72 (20mm) bamboo for FNG skirmish-scale Vietnam gaming. But for CDS, which I'm doing in 3mm with Oddzial Osmy's Vietnam range, I've had to go smaller.

So after realizing toothpicks were too big and my cheap plastic plant material was also out of scale for bamboo (good for elephant grass though), I scaled myself down to trying pins. Armed only with a 40% off coupon and my steely nerves, I made my way into the needlework section of my local Michael's and picked up 800 13mm sequin pins. They aren't really different than regular flat-headed pins, just a bit shorter and maybe a bit sturdier than your usual "new shirt pins".

I've started with just a test project, using the following proof-of-principle method:

  • Cut out a suitable base shape in corrugated cardboard (I'm using a lot of odd pieces that are lying around).
  • Dab white glue randomly around, at higher densities for "impassable" stands and with much more room for "passable" stands (for my figure basing I'll need to fit pennies on the base).
  • In each dab, stick a pin through the top of the cardboard, being careful not to stick it all the way through! For variety, stick some in at angles, or curve the pin, or cut it down (from the pointy end). Also for variety, stick in two or three pins into one dab, with some of them angling off to the sides.
  • Use some polyfill to patch up the sides and add some base texture.
  • Prime with spray paint.
  • Paint the base brown, with some green.
  • Paint the pins a very light green (I have a green called "Lemonade" that I'm going to try). Maybe some trunks can be mustard yellow-brown (first pic above) or a near-white (second pic above) too.
  • Flock some ground cover shrubs/low-lying trees, or not (it seems highly variable, with denser stands having less).
  • Add glue to the pinheads, and in some cases down the body of the pin to get the effect seen in the second picture above.
  • Roll the pinheads through flock, either a grass or maybe some extra-shredded shrub or tree flocking material. Or both (clumpy for top, finer for lower down). Definitely want a light, bright green though.
  • Seal.
So far I've gotten the first three steps done, so here's my work-in-progress:

Top view with 3mm US command figures for scale.

Side view.

With Oddzial Osmy's palm tree in for comparison. Despite my fingers, the tree is set so it is at the height it would be on an actual base. 08's trees actually have a little pin in the base, which gave me the idea of sticking things into corrugated cardboard in the first place.

If painting the pins once mounted turns out to be a real bugger, a smarter method might end up being:
  • Cut out base and texture with polyfill or basing material of choice.
  • Prime the base, paint, and flock.
  • Prime and paint the pins loose, even if it means dipping the pins in paint.
  • Add glue and pins as above.
  • Flock pins as above, and seal.
It's a bit overkill for 2mm, my usual forest method (cork + scrubber) would work, but some may want to try it. Here's the bamboo stand with a handy 2mm Acheronian chariot beside it; probably the only chariot that made it to Vietnam in the 1960's...

It also works ok for 6mm too, but one might want to try bigger pins. GHQ has a pretty good Vietnam line, and I suspect other companies produce appropriate pieces too. Here's the bamboo stand up against a 6mm Russian field piece; the gun crew is crouching/kneeling, so it's not a proper comparison, but it'll give y'all some idea of what it would look like.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

There's no basing like sno' basing

I guess it's kind of appropriate that I had a warrior from Thule in my last post on 28mm Thurian Age figures, as I've been working on painting the bases for my initial 2mm Thulian forces. I have a complete unit of reindeer-pulled chariots, a polar bear chariot leader unit, and partial units of polar bear chariots and mammoth howdahs.

Since Thule is the one real northern nation in the Thulian Age, and their mounts all have a basis in the snow and tundra, I decided to do up their bases differently than the others, trying to capture a wintery environment.

So I spent January and February looking out on the landscape as I drove or trained around. These are some pictures of what I've come up with, the bases have gone through a bit of a process of doing and re-doing things that didn't quite work. I'll give my "mostly final" method down below.

So to do these bases, my method was:
  1. Mount figures on base.
  2. Glue some spots on the base and add sand (my usual basing method).
  3. Where the base was still bare, add polyfill (spackle, what-have-you) for the snow drifts.
  4. Prime.
  5. Paint the sand areas a medium brown ('Mississippi mud' for me), representing dead, low ground cover.
  6. Paint the snow drifts (polyfill/spackle) an off-white (I used a 'winter white'); this will take a couple of coats if you prime in anything other than white.
  7. Dot and sponge white over the brown, representing vestiges of snow. If you have any flat areas (bare base, basically) in the sand areas, paint this white too.
  8. If you put in wheel tracks, run white along the track (when the wheels beat down the dead vegetation, they expose the snow underneath).
  9. Dot and sponge with a different brown ('spice brown' is my default dirt colour) anything you want to be muddy.
  10. Drybrush a dull yellow (I use 'antique white actually) the brown sand areas, representing taller dead vegetation (long grasses, corn, shrubs), which stays yellow during the winter.
  11. If any of your dotted and sponged white sand areas look like they could be improved, drybrush either your medium brown or dull yellow over them, representing the dead vegegation sticking out of the snow. This can be tricky, because I found that either the brown colour was now not dark enough (being on top of a white base) or I was painting the snow, rather than the sand bumps. Try somewhere, and see what your results are before going in whole hog.

Other than fantasy, or maybe some Viking uses, the only time I really see this basing method being useful is for 2 or 3mm WWI or WWII East Front stuff. Or the Winter and Continuation Wars of the USSR vs. Finland.

Now I just need to paint the blasted figures on the bases!

New Figures for the Thurian Age (and a completed snake statue)

At long last I have some things completed, rather than in half-finished states, although there are still lots of those projects lying around upstairs.

As mentioned previously, I had ordered some more D&D Collectible Miniatures Game figures for the Thurian Age, to fill in some gaps and add more snakemen and skeleton options.

At last - Thulsa Doom, although this shot doesn't do his skull face justice. A nice miniature, although it really matches the Thulsa Doom from the version of Riders Beyond the Sunrise that was completed by Lin Carter, rather than what we see of Thulsa Doom in Delcartes' Cat. But beggars can' be choosers, and he is cool looking.

Also as mentioned earlier, I was awaiting a new figure for Thelo CurKail, one of my new Thurian heroes, for skirmish games. This is the new Thelo, the old one has been relegated to tavern villainy.

A massive piece and the blue hair and skin don't quite match up with my version of Thule and its mammoth-riding warriors...but it'll do for now.

I've also finally completed one of the wooden Creatology puzzles I've been picking up for props. This is the snake statue for the Temple of the Serpent:

After spray-painting with flat black, then a satin green.

Finished, with details and ruby-eyes added, then coated with crackle medium paint to age. The final product, after being coated with Future Floor Polish, actually tones done the silvering you see here, which I'm going to call cobwebs if you see them from a distance.

A close-up of the final product.

Still on the table - cog, castle, tower, dirt cottage, dragon statue, sphinx.
Sill in the box - more birdhouses cum Splintered Lands buildings, Temple of Heaven puzzle, pirate schooner puzzle, another castle puzzle.