Saturday, July 14, 2018

D&D Stirges and Giant Fire Beetles

More finished encounter groups for D&D! Up today are scratch-sculpted and press-cast stirges and giant fire beetles.

Stirges! Bloodsucking fiends swarm the party

A desperate struggle against the stirges
At least they saw them coming! A fight against giant fire beetles
Scratch-sculpted and press-molded stirges

The stirges from overhead

Stirges Making-of


See my previous post for more on the making of the stirges. Making the stirthe hardest part about making of the stirges. The hardest part came at the end, with the making of the flight stands. After experimenting with drilling a hole in the base and keeping a pin at 90 degrees with greenstuff, I decided soldering was the way to go. I cut squares from steel shingle and rigged up a jig using a "helping hands" tool, a mechanics square and a magnet, holding a pin to the helping hands with a magnet and lining it up with the mechanics square. Even after watching a number of how-to videos and buying recommended solder and flux, I'm nowhere close to getting solder to cooperate. When it melts it seems to run to the spot I want it least to go.

A surprise bonus to this basing method is that I can store the stirges on a metal plate with each stirge atop a rare earth magnet. The intervening .04" black plasticard base perfectly lessens the hold of the magnet to where they nicely stay put without holding so fast there's danger of breakage when I slide them off.


The hardest part was soldering these flight stands

Stirges in AD&D


Stirges are vicious in the AD&D game as they are deadly accurate (attack as a higher HD monster) and suck HP until they are bloated full of blood or are killed. I painted them in the canonical colors, rust-brown with yellowish eyes and feet, and a pink proboscis fading to gray at the base. The size is not specified but I made them scale with the illustrations in the game. These may be the only scale stirge miniatures around, though I seem to recall an offering some years back that was pretty close.

Giant Fire Beetles Making-of






Scratch-made giant fire beetle miniatures
The fire beetles are cast flat in greenstuff in a one-piece mold (insta-mold material) but when I glued them to the base, I first glued a block (of off-cut lead) to the base and mounted the beetle on top of this, and then folded his legs down to glue them to the base. This way they are off the ground at a believable height, and I added a dimensionality to them that a flat casing can't provide. I used blocks made of lead to give them a little extra weight as well. The mandibles being off the ground and separate adds a lot, as does having the thorax.

Giant fire beetles in AD&D



Giant fire beetles are the least of the giant beetles at 2.5' long, but well-protected by their exoskeleton and stronger in a fight than their size implies and can cut deep with their great mandibles. They are so-called for their three red-glowing glands, two above the eyes and one near the back of their abdomen. These models are to-scale (length measured from tip of mandible to tip of abdomen).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Heritage LotR Hobbits / D&D Halfings

Heritage LotR and Ral Partha Hobbits/Halflings

Halflings for RPGs


A friend of mine and I have been noting an unplanned synchronicity in recent projects for our respective RPG campaigns, my D&D Borderlands campaign and his WFRP. In response to my last post he mentioned his "bartenders, beggars, and drunk halflings."

Well, the synchronicity continues unabated. My campaign starting local is Gygax's Keep on the Borderlands. Well, many years after the original publication, Kenzer and Company published a return to the keep/ send-up for Hackmaster in their usual style, creatively titled, "Little Keep on the Borderlands," wherein are many new ideas and twists to the original, which I'm borrowing as fancy strikes me. One of these is a camp of squatter halflings which adventurers must pass through to reach the camp. So, have my players also been accosted by drunk halflings? The answer is a resounding yes.

That said, my halflings figures are of a more placid, hobbity sort and are only doubling as vagbonds and rascals when the need calls for it. These are actually Heritage Lord of the Rings figures. If I ever do a 25mm classic Tolkien collection, these will be used for the purpose for which they were intended.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits


For the purist collectors out there here's a pic of just the Heritage ones.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits
I refer those wishing to know more about these figures to their entry in Lost Minis Wiki. They are taken from the following sets:
  • 1750 The Fellowship
  • 1755 Hobbit Sheriff Command Set
  • 1752 Hobbit Townsfolk

Basing


Something about the figures inspired me to introduce yet another base effect to my repertoire. On the one hand, the oldest vein of retro old school miniatures, and on the other, the way outdoor nature scenes are often depicted in paintings and animation. The most representative example I have to hand are the paintings Eyvind Earle made for Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

Then I went and took the pics against a very yellow-green backdrop, making the intended effect an impossibility. I'll come back and take new pics, though, if/when I get a suitable backdrop, probably made of felt. I'm experimenting with simple, cloth ground coverings lately and having remarkable success. I have been shopping craft online shops and cataloging those I'm interested in for various purposes. I might make a post about this.


Not too much to say about the painting. I matched the colors of the Merry and Pippin figures with those used in the Bakshi films. The figures themselves are linked to the films and the designs from it. I like the scheme I came up with for the Ral Partha one, and am debating whether to continue it with other RP halflings I have.

Sculpting


I also can't go without comparing the sculpting of the Heritage figures with the lone Tom Meier Ral Partha one I also included. Both were made around the same time. I presume the Heritage ones were sculpted in Milliput, or something similar, and the comparatively rough, carved quality of the sculpts is indicative, as I think Meier himself has pointed out. The Meier figure, in contrast, is has a silky-smooth quality he achieved with the different sort of epoxy he pioneered, that became the ubiquitous green stuff we all know.

This is another good example to show all the people who buy into the myth of sculpting progress and the myth of casting progress. This figure sculpted in 1979 is a technical marvel, sculpted as well as anything since, and as well-cast as anything as well. The casting also puts 98% of figures cast today to shame, whether by large or small operations. I invite you to compare to the offerings you find in your local game store today. And this figure is 16mm to the eyes. It is literally 1/3 the mass or less of a halfling figure you might find today, if not 1/4 or 1/5.

Tom Meier Ral Partha Halfling, 1979

I thought I could bang out this hobbit/halfling post in no-time and that's why I chose to do this post over others, but it's taken me a good portion of the morning to make it. Such is blogging. After breakfast I hope to get back to painting peasants. Foundry Perry figures this time. I have 10+ here that need just 2-5 minutes each to polish off.

Oh, and last note, last night I just finished two Custom Cast hobbits/halfings that predate these, but haven't varnished or photographed them yet, so they will have to wait for another post.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

D&D NPC Borderlanders

Here are some rustic folk of the sort the players in my D&D campaign are encountering in the borderlands. They'd also work for historical or even Oldhammer, in a pinch.

Denizens of the Borderlands
The children are Citadel sculpted by the Perry brothers, and I think the rest are Soldiers & Swords, but I didn't see them listed in the Lost Minis Wiki. Any help tracking them down?

Peasant Laborers
Slow-witted Villagers

No village is complete without a halfwit or three. Perhaps the guy on the right is merely eccentric, his habits including carrying around rats by the tail.

Perry Citadel Girl and Boy

When the party was mobbed by unkempt children outside Fort Aderath, the party won initiative and the thief snatched away the slingshot as the ranger, no doubt recalling past experience as wilderness camp counselor, clipped off firm, authoritative instructions that had them lined up and marching ahead back to the fort before they could regather their wits.

I'm trying out a new picture setting and a new base style. The bases are meant be as neutral as possible and work inside or outside a village or town setting, or anywhere. I guess I could have made up a town setting for the pics, but already had this one to hand for some other pics I was taking. These figures a good demonstration of why I wouldn't consider any scale but 25mm for D&D. In what other scale can you bring your games to life with ordinary-yet-individual figures like these suitable for any situation, had for a buck each or so?

Old Glory Peasants Carrying Boar



The first of a hundred or more Old Glory peasants. I no longer save the best for last. This duo perhaps best represents the character of my borderlands folk. This is from a wonderful set in the Wars of the Roses range, WOR-24 Civilians with Ox Cart.

Here are the other figures in the set. Ox-carts not shown. I've moved these forward a bit since this pic was taken, and most now have some paint on them.

Old Glory WOR-24 Civilians with Ox Carts (carts not shown)
Also slipping in a few Grenadier AD&D Solid Gold Line adventurers as they seemed to fit the setting. I'm going to rebase the thief here, and I decided not to use static grass or turf on the old figures going forward, I just don't like the look (and the reason there is foliage on the base and it's not painted in the dungeon green-gray like the rest of the adventurers is it had sculpted foliage I didn't feel like carving off or explaining away as dungeon debris). I replaced the bow on the ranger with a plastic one from Eccentric Miniatures.

Grenadier Thief from the 2007 Females Box Set

Grenadier Ranger, also from the 2007 Females Set

And lastly, here are a few more pics with the cavern backdrop for comparison. I realized afterward I had forgotten to include the old guy with the rat. The second pic includes some other NPC types I painted earlier that also seem like borderlands denizens, along with a newly painted blacksmith. I'm  particularly fond of the Perry Citadel citizen in the light blue tunic for being brilliantly non-descript, a true any-man with a in-game utility value outweighing all the rest by an easy margin. what scene of town or country folk would this guy not be at home in, and how many different NPCs could he represent in the course of a campaign? We need more figures like this, please.

Denizens of the Borderlands




Saturday, June 23, 2018

Otherworld D&D Stone Giant

Here is one of my favorite figures in my D&D collection, an Otherworld stone giant sculpted by Paul Muller.  I'm also introducing a new style of photos for the D&D figures, with more like these to come.

In Strides the Stone Giant

Otherworld D&D Stone Giant

Otherworld D&D Stone Giant


After basing, I primed the figure with black, gray and white Dupli-Color, then painted the figure with many washes before finishing with highlights and black lining. A stone giant should be camouflaged in his native surrounding, and so I used a strictly minimal palette. I let the white of the primer show through. I think you can see the texture of the primer and washes in the high-res pics and it strengthens the stone effect. The result is a good example of a figure that please me more than most in my collection, but that is unlikely to win a prize.




Otherworld D&D Stone Giant

Otherworld D&D Stone Giant

Otherworld D&D Stone Giant



This iconic sculpt is among my favorite of all time done in the D&D vein. Any who have thumbed the original Monster Manual will recognize this as being done after Dave Trampier's stone giant piece in that book.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Mordheim Undead Gang

To all you with projects languishing for years on your workbench, I offer hope, for if I can finish my projects, so can you! I'm one of the worst offenders when it comes to open projects, and here's more proof of both my failings and how I'm overcoming them. I started my Mordheim undead gang so long ago I can't remember exactly, but it was some time between 2005 and 2007, well over a decade ago!

Mordheim Undead Gang

I played my first game with these at Kublacon 2018 and Sean over at Sean's Wargames Corner made a great after action report.

As I was making up the gang I was mildly surprised that while the vampire has four special rules (not counting the standard "leader" rules)  but his real supernatural abilities were expressed more in his raw stat numbers. In the game I played he was, in truth, a terror, and people around me with more Mordheim experience than I have confirmed a fearsome reputation precedes him. His minions were taken out in the course of the game but I found myself unconcerned, and as they dropped I had the Vampire charge straight into the fray and assault the opposing leader, shrugging off an assault to his rear and executing his agenda, winning in the end. Not alone, though, but with some strong flanking help from the neighbor possessed gang in this multi-player game.

Reaper Matthias the Twisted, Vampire
I shared the vampire in an earlier post. I realize I probably should have painted his base edge brown for consistency, but for the figure on his own black is more appropriate, and that's the call I made. All I would add is that I have several other vampires yet-to-be-painted that that would also work well in Mordheim, including a standard Mordheim one, a Mordheim courtesan one, and a Warhammer Lamia. Given all the undead figures I have yet to paint, it's not unlikely I'll have enough to make a second gang, should friends and I want to play them against each other.
Mordheim Necromancer

This is a stock Mordheim necromancer. All of these figures were painted over white primer, which is one reason I know they were started in 2007 or before, because in 2007 I joined the cult of black Dupli-Color. While the white probably hindered more than it helped, especially with a gritty undead gang, it did let me experiment with building the leather clothing of the necromancer and gravedigger mostly with washes, glazes and weathering. On the necromancer, the wear on the edges of the leather are actual wear, and rubbed the washes off a little to expose the white. I did an iridescent effect on the skulls, like mother of pearl.

Reaper Gravedigger
Reaper humans are too tall, IMO, to mix in generally with Mordheim figures, but the vampire and gravedigger are conscious exceptions as they fit right in towering over their fellows. The gravedigger in particular is better off for being very tall and slender. Did some OSL here per the demands of the figure, but was restrained about it to suit my own preference for how I want him to look on the tabletop.
Mordheim Dregs: L-R Reaper Monkey, Metal Magic Hunchback, Mordheim Dreg, Reaper Gravedigger
The stock Mordheim dregs are great. Here's one of them, second from the right, and the other is still to go. Can you confirm these are Perry figures? All these years I thought they were, and with older figures, I can spot the Perry style anywhere but the Mordheim figures are their most naturalistic, and show fewer of the signature Perry idiosyncrasies. The Mordheim figures such as the mercenary gangs were the best they ever did for the Warhammer side of things, sort of their swan song. Why I can't recall or tell for sure, though, was there were other great sculptors working at the time such as Juan Diaz.

Along with those I found several other figures from other manufacturers I had to say yes to, and wound up with more than rules allow in a single gang. The monkey is from a Reaper familiars pack, and putting him in this gang fulfills its purpose of existence. It and Mordheim were inexorably brought together. A friend pointed out my Mordheim building needed more fish. I hope I've delivered the fish here! The second from the left is by Metal Magic, purchased from Mega Miniatures when they held the license. He has a minor conversion so he's holding a scratch-made cleaver. Later I got a second copy of this figure to use in D&D, and I thought I had shared him on this blog many years ago, but a quick search hasn't turned him up. Took new pictures of him in a recent photo shoot, though, and have a lot of D&D to share coming up.

Mordheim Zombies: L-R Dwarf, Sister of Sigmar, Marienburg Mercenary
These Mordheim zombies are great, aren't they? These were a later mail-order addition to the range, and I might have got them around the time Games Workshop were making a round of their signature bad decisions, and closing the doors on Mordheim. I recall at the time I was thinking these are Juan Diaz figures, but can't find immediate confirmation here on the web and can't recall if I read that or was guessing. As with the dregs I'd be grateful if you know and could confirm. In addition to these two I have the witchhunter and the dog still to go, and for whatever reasons I passed over the elf and the guy with the wide-brimmed hat. I found a blog post by a fellow painter if you're interested in seeing them all.

Self-consciously, I added a wink to my boyhood self with these zombies.  In a post showing some of my early figures I talked of the pressure I felt as a young painter to use all three primaries plus green. Well... here you are, all three primaries plus green! :D This was funny to me because the scheme overall is so heavy with browns and neutrals, and I wasn't trying to add contrast as seeing what I could get away with in weathering the strong colors down to where they would blend and not break the overall scheme. The figures themselves all but demanded I do this, though, because Sisters of Sigmar and Marienburgers have defined colors, in this case red, yellow blue (and I'm follow cannon except where there is a good reason to break with it). Once I'd committed there it wasn't a stretch for me to decide to go all out and give the dwarf a strong green.


The dwarf has a great hanging eyeball effect I liked so much I later duplicated it with greenstuff on a D&D zombie. For the sister, I used some Walking Dead stills as reference, and that made all the difference in me getting the Sister just right. An awesome sculpt like this demanded some extra investment, and the colors I found using the Photoshop eyedropper were more mauve/murray base than what one might typically think of as zombie flesh colors, and then blue touches to add a death-like cold cast. The eyes have an orange cast.

Reaper Ghouls and Ghast
At the time I suppose I was choosing between these, the Morley 1990s ghouls, the later Paul Muller ones and the official Mordheim ones. I think these may have been new or newish at the time, they were released in '05, and they're by Ben Siens. I don't remember if I had feelings about the official Mordheim ones but for whatever reason, I passed over them. I found a good picture of some painted ones here, if you're interested: http://warhammerfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/File:Crypt_Ghouls_Vampire_Counts_Mordheim_Miniatures.jpg. I'm pretty happy with mine, though. The hair, hunched poses and gruesome visages full of teeth helped clinch the win for these. Ghouls can't earn experience points, so no chance of one of the standard ghouls having "talent" and becoming a hero, which would have been a cool possible entry path to use the larger ghast model. Maybe I'll make a special character for him, and of course I'll use him as a ghoul if I need a third one. Using Tamiya Gloss Red for blood on the snacking one was the final step I did before taking the pictures, and it was satisfying in a cherry-on-top way. Also, did you notice the one minor modification I made to the stock models?
Reaper Hellhounds
Last up are these Reaper hellhounds, or dire wolves, in Mordheim game terms. I was and am thinking of them as black dogs of yore like the barghest rather than wolves. these are by Jason Wiebe and the release date isn't mentioned on the site. For these and all the Reaper figs I followed a laborious basing procedure, cutting the top surface out of the base, trimming the sides of the thick Reaper bases, and embedding the one in the other. In summary, it feels great to polish these off and put them in the case, and be fully prepared for classic games of Mordheim, with figures if not with terrain. Between now and when I'm ready to host games here in San Diego I'll probably have a few opportunities to play with friends up north, as I did at Kublacon this year, and best of all this is one more project crossed off my unfinished list of shame!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Malifaux: Sabertooth Cerebus

Given my old school bent it may surprise you learn I'm nuts about the plastic Malifaux figures. I like everything about them and they scratch an itch other figures don't. 

This is the first one I painted but there will be more. This is from the Claw and Fang box for the Arcanists faction, lead by a guy named Marcus.


Malifaux Sabertooth Cerebus

Malifaux Sabertooth Cerebus

Malifaux Sabertooth Cerebus

Malifaux Sabertooth Cerebus

My plan for these was to have a muted, controlled, horror-vibe pallet after the painter Beksinski and games like Bloodborne. Following the artwork on the box, they will also have blue-green in the shadows or under-lighting. I haven't adhered to the plan entirely and getting them right has also contributed to the project going on to long.

In the meantime, I bought a set painted by someone else on ebay to play with, as I wanted to try the game and life is too short to play with unpainted figures, and I've noticed that bright, vibrant colors are the norm. The dark, horror aspect of the line tends to be downplayed. I'll share those figures in a future post.

However the figures turn out, I plan to go full bore for the Bloodborne pallet in a cemetery terrain set I'm making that is large enough to cover a board, be it for Malifaux, Mordheim or another game.

I decided that game-wise I had to concentrate on one thing if I was going to succeed and I made it my D&D campaign for now, and not sure if/when I'll play the actual Malifaux game again. The community in San Diego is great but the game is played very chess-like, whereas I need immersion to be wholly satisfied with the experience. "Someday" may try some RPG-like short scenarios linked as a campaign with backstory on the interactions between the masters involved and plots afoot in the streets.

Any readers collect and paint the Malifaux figures?

Saturday, June 9, 2018

3 Necromunda Scavvies

I continue to finish figures long languishing on the workbench. With the addition of these three, my scavvies could be put into action, though I'd like to have another scaly and some zombies first. WIP shots of two of these converted figs can be seen in my previous posts on scavvies.
 

Left to right these are a converted Marauder Miniatures scavvy (Aly Morrision), a converted Gorkamorka ork, and a lightly modified Grenadier Future Warriors figure (Mark Copplestone).






Seems I didn't get a pic of the figure with spiked mace before I primed him. At that point I had replaced his hands and weapons and added to his nose and chin to make it clear he was wearing a mask (I don't think that was the intent of the original sculpt). In this pic here I've cut him at the ankles and made him taller, and modified his raiment. After this picture was taken I also added a belt.
By now you know how I am about reference pics. Here's the reference I used for this figure's tabbard in case you're interested. His tabbard is a source of status and the envy of his peers, a relic from the world they're cut off from.