Wednesday, February 24, 2016

8th Wonder of the World, 1st Wonder of my Games Room

So I like Gamera - a lot.  I like Godzilla - a lot - and I consider the first Godzilla movie to be a classic. But my first and truest monster love will always be King Kong, and after some searching and a lucky find on eBay, not only did I get one for my 3" kaiju collection but he fits even better than I'd hoped.

Some researched showed me Konami had made a series of 3" 1933 retrospective figures as part of the 2005 King Kong release, and one of those was Kong on Skull Island, with a couple of hand options, either holding Ann Darrow or holding a big branch, mounted on a base with the dead tree he puts Ann in while he fights off the T-Rex.

The size fits my monster collection - although in the original movie Kong was at most supposed to be about 24' high, not the 150' he needs to be to fit in with Big G - but nothing else (other than the flying monsters) I have is based, and a 15mm Ann Darrow in hand wouldn't fit in with my 3mm infantry and tanks! So I was going to go with the branch-holding hand and hope for the best with regards the base.

I found a seller on eBay in China who had four of these left for sale, and I placed an order, and in a super-quick 10 days from China to Canada my Kong arrived Monday:
Here he is, looking as awesome as awesome can be (the figures are intentionally painted in glorious Black & White), and able to stand without a base!  And the Ann Darrow hand turned out to just hold her by his grip (not a peg and slot like I'd feared) so I'm able to use that instead of the one with the branch. Perfect!

Here he is with his favourite movie prop:
 And facing off against his main challenger for King of the World:
 King of the Monsters vs. King of the Beasts!
On the same day I went looking for another St. Peter's Basilica 3D puzzle (for reasons discussed in my last post) in a local dollar store, and found a bunch of nicely sized dinosaurs.  Here's KK vs. a T-Rex, they match nicely at the 1933 movie scale!
More on the dinosaurs in my next post, you can see them off to the side or in the background of some of these pictures.  While they will work, there are some scaling compatibility issues with them that I'll need to sort out.  I have some bigger Safari ones for 28mm, and I was hoping these new ones will work for 15mm - they will, but not necessarily with each other!

For the Mighty Monster rules I wanted to beef up the "Giant Gorilla" listed at the back, as that rating was 180 points less than Godzilla, making it nearly impossible for Kong to face off against Big G and at a disadvantage against many of the other monsters I've statted up. Fortunately the ratings how-to in the book had some other suggestions specific to a giant gorilla and I'd just watched the 1933 movie again recently, so here's how I have him now:

Name: King Kong, 8th Wonder of the World  
Point Value: 375

Head: Q = 3   C = 2  Fangs, Intimidation
Body: Q = 3   C = 4
Arms: Q = 3   C = 4
Legs : Q = 3   C = 3

Other Special Rules:
1.  Massive
2.  Bellowing
3.  Grappler
4.  Charge
5.  Berserker
6.  Very Tough

Monday, February 22, 2016

First We Take Manhattan

I previewed one piece of this in last week's post, so today I have some more of my Manhattan Island project for giant monster gaming with Mighty Monsters and 3" gashapon figures.  I've picked most of these up in the last few months, the Manhattan-specific stuff from eBay and the other landmarks at a dollar store in the toy section.

When you think of monsters in New York, the Empire State Building is of course #1, so that was my first goal, and a 3D puzzle from China solved that.  From the same source I also got a Chrysler Building 3D puzzle, but now face the slight problem that the Chrysler Building is taller than the ESB! So I'm going to have to make sure I separate the two a bit when I put Manhattan Island together, making sure the ESB is more front-stage.

I didn't want to involve the World Trade Centre buildings with any gaming, so I'm going with a pre-1970 New York, leaving the next landmark in my mind as the Statue of Liberty.  There was another Chinese seller with a perfectly scaled (for 1/600) fake brass statuette on eBay, the entire thing being about 6" high (the real Statue and base is about 300').  Both the ESB and Chrysler Building are somewhere around 1/2000 or 1/2400, but still way taller than my paper city buildings from Germy and cut-down 6mm files.

With that pre-amble, here they are, with Gamera helping by providing a reference size:
The view from the ground:
Some individual shots of the 3D puzzles:

I discovered a bit of an issue with the ESB when I pulled it out for this photo shoot - some of the paper is peeling away from the foam on the base and it's developed a bit of a warp, but some Aileen's Tacky Glue solved the former, and some coffee stir sticks glued under the base solved the latter.  The base for both is about 1-2mm in the air because tabs are projecting through, but most of my buildings are going onto tiles that will be the sidewalks, so I'll fill in the resulting gap when I get the buildings glued to the tiles.

As I mentioned above, the Statue of Liberty is a fake-brass thingy, so I had to paint it up, coating it first with white gesso.  I'm also going to have to build a proper fort-like base for it, around the lowest (and unpainted in the photos above) level, so the arched doors open onto the roof of that base.  But that's for another day (I haven't really thought that through yet).

But here are some pics of the SoL as a work-in-progress:
On the top is the original statuette, out of the box, and below is after the gesso and gesso+brown paint was added.

Close up of the final product (barring the base):

A couple of other 3D puzzles I picked up in early January in a dollar store are a near-1/600 scale Notre Dame cathedral and a 1/1000 or so St. Peter's Basilica.  They don't work right beside each other, and Notre Dame doesn't work right beside the ESB and Chrysler Buildings, but with several blocks of other buildings between them, I think they'll do ok.  Most of the buildings from Germy helpfully lack real scale benchmarks, so if you look at Notre Dame and then scan over to the ESB, you will hopefully sort of ignore the difference.

I figure Notre Dame will fill in for one of the big NY cathedrals, St. Patrick's or St. John the Unfinished (which would actually be off-map - see below), the height is right for one and the footprint for the other. St. Peter's could do double duty as a fancy European state building, university campus, or palace.  You can build it without the keyhole-shaped forecourt too, which will make it an alternate church too by disguising its origins somewhat.  It was a pain to put together (lots of swearing) but looks ok for what it is now.

To wrap up the pictorial portion of this entry, here's a WIP shot of the tiles that will base my monster city buildings.  These are test subjects, of a few tile types and how they take cheaper Bob Ross grey gesso (I save the Liquidtex grey gesso - impossible to find here now - for figures).  I found the cheap dollar store tiles actually seem to be best. They aren't super solid support for the buildings (they're a bit bendy) but to date THEY DON'T WARP!  The thicker stuff (a couple pieces pictured here) warps a little and is really thick; I have some mid-thickness stuff from Home Depot that cost more than the dollar store stuff and it warps.  I have some pending 3mm rice paddy shapes in this Home Depot stuff cut out that have been under about 100lbs of pressure for a couple of years and they still want to warp whenever I let them come out for air (and I haven't painted or based them at all, just cut them out!).

Anyway, the cheapest stuff seems to work.  These are 4" square bases, except for the unpainted 4x8" piece of the thickest stuff.

More to come on these, I still have lots of buildings to cut out and build yet (and more to print).  Most tiles will be 4x4, some will be 4x3, others 4x5 or 6, and yet others will be custom sizes for the type of city block I'm building.  Central Park will probably be 8x8", representing only a portion of the park at the edge of my Manhattan.

Which leads me to what I'm trying to do with Manhattan map - it's going to be a fairly (fairly = highly) stylized representation of the island and part of the river, probably a total of about 7.5' long by 3' wide.  I may make it a bit wider or longer by showing more river, but at its thickest the island will be 3' wide.  So at one end I'll have 18" (maybe 36") of open water, representing the SW approach to the island, with the Statue of Liberty Island at one edge, and Governors and Ellis Islands making appearances.

Then there will be a 18x36" strip of water (representing the Hudson River to the west of the island) and an 18x36" strip of city - the financial district more or less, up to Chelsea.  Lower east side won't be mapped, the Brooklyn Bridge will be partially on the table (using a generic bridge from Shapeways that I'm working on).

Then there'll be a 36x36" section of city, Chelsea to say 1/3 of Central Park - call East 72nd Street the edge of the set-up.

So I hope that'll give me some water for approaching monsters to use before they get to the city, and lots of colour for the eventual fight in the city.  It all looks beautiful in my head.

I also have a 25" (!) Tokyo Tower 3D puzzle to put together, and in the mail is a double feature CN Tower + Skydome (aka Rogers Centre), so my kaiju are going to be able to threaten Tokyo (of course) and Toronto as well as Manhattan and assorted generic cities.

But I ain't building Berlin.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Giant Monster Dance

This past weekend was a long weekend here in Ontario, and through some minor scheduling miracles, the entire clan was able to gather at my mother's - three brothers, two sisters-in-law, and three nephews, two of whom had had their first birthdays in the last couple of weeks. So it was a good family weekend, and as an added bonus, on Sunday my 5yo nephew and I got in a couple of games of Mighty Monsters by Ganesha Games.

Theo's keen on giant monster movies, aided by uh, one of his uncles. So much so that when I arrived Saturday morning, I learned he'd been bet that he couldn't go the entire day without saying "Godzilla".  He lost about five minutes after my arrival, and got served dessert last that dinner.  He loves to look at my 3" gashapon collection and was interested in playing a game, although I don't think he really understood at the beginning what I meant by "game", versus say bashing toys together to see who wins.

However, I started by going over four basic rules we would follow for any games we play with my "toys":
  1. Clean hands.
  2. Be gentle with the "toys".
  3. Follow the rules of the game.
  4. Be a good sport (he's thrown the occasional temper tantrum during games of Double Trouble).
He thought those were good rules, so we set up my black vinyl matting that I'm going to use as the streets for my monster cities.  One interesting thing I learned was that I'd somehow assumed these were 18" by 36", so using two would give me a 36x36" footprint.  Instead these are about 45" long, so I'll either roll with that or chop these down to 36", or do both (I have four in black, four in gray).  I need 36" whenever they're going to be lined up with my 36" square blue felt mats for water.

I then set up what cardboard buildings I had ready, which isn't yet enough to fill the mat - they also haven't been based on gray tile to form blocks.  We filled in the mat with overturned baskets, Duplo blocks, and other toys.  I also had my unpainted Monopoly buildings with me, so Theo built the suburbs with them.

From there we picked monsters and went at it.  Theo of course went with Big G, and I took classic Gigan.  This was my first time with the rules, but things went pretty smoothly - there were a few errors, but nothing that affected the result, and I think Theo got the most breaks. He generally was able to play along, he was doing his own adding and making his own choices.  I gave him the proper set of Godzilla ratings, rather than a simplified version as suggested by the rules, and it wasn't a problem.  

Anyway, so here's a shot of Gigan and Godzilla finally facing off, after taking a few pot shots at each other as they danced towards the middle of the city:
(as always, clicking on the photo brings up a larger version)

Godzilla lay a pretty good beating on Gigan - Theo was rolling well, plus Godzilla is a 450pt beast vs. Gigan's 395.  I finally realized playing the long distance game with Godzilla wasn't going to work, so I closed and tried to go for a grapple to bring my belly saw into play:

I finally got the grapple on, but my free hack at Godzilla with the belly saw failed, and when I tried to activate my head (with two yellow and one red dice), I rolled a one on a yellow and failed on the red, leading to two critical rolls.  Whereupon I rolled a Knockdown, and then a Knockdown, which becomes a Knockout.  So game over for Gigan!  

I'm not entirely sure if you're supposed to only roll once even if your dice roll says twice, so maybe I would have survived another turn, but I was pretty much at the mercy of Godzilla at that point.

Theo then found the Final Wars version of Gigan in my collection, and for game two he went with the original version of Gigan from that movie (the one with the blades for hands, not the chainsaws), and I took modern Gamera.  Both were 450 point monsters, so in theory a fair fight.  

Gigan tried to get a bit cute though, and Gamera was able to track him down and get in hits with both his fiery breath and his plasma chest burst (which I later decided should be a one-shot weapon).  The game was running late and we were supposed to watch a Gamera movie later in the afternoon, so we called it a day on the gaming front with a victory for the great turtle.  Theo's attention was also starting to wander - I suspect he wasn't keen on being on the losing end.    

We went on to watch Gamera - Attack of Legion, his first Gamera movie, and he loved it even though he couldn't keep up with the subtitles.  He asked later to play more Mighty Monsters the next time we're together, and from my list of potential games, also some fantasy (he's painting some Reaper Bones goblins and ogres), using Songs of Blades and Heroes.  He was intrigued that it used similar rules to Mighty Monsters, though when he asked what the difference was, for some reason I missed the obvious - that you don't have to roll for each body party.  

Next I hope to post some photos of other scenery I'm working on for Mighty Monsters, including some useful 3D puzzles and other trinkets from eBay.  Here's a teaser...