Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Terrain Roundup Friday night projects.

Well it's Friday night and tomorrow we are going to Recruits convention but we decided to do some more terrain work. I didn't get pictures of everything we worked on because we were also packing up for the con and I had other things on my mind.
Here's a nice shot of the orc tents arranged among some terrain. I think they look pretty good but I need to at least get a couple fire pits soon or I could hardly call it a camp.

My wife finished painting this small cottage. I think it looks pretty nice. We also worked on two other village buildings. Hopefully we will have a small village done soon.

I worked on some new trees. I had some stands in progress but I didn't like them so I put these together. They are made from pipecleaners with foamcore bases. I added small rocks to the bases to give them some ballast and help them stand up. They seem quite sturdy at this stage. The next step will be painting them with brown laytex paint then I will finish the bases and add terry cloth foliage to the limbs.

Well Saturday we are going to Recruits so I should have a con report either Sunday night or sometime Monday!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Terrain Roundup "Orc Tents"

We decided to bring a project home with us today. We are all going to Recruits Convention in Lee's Summit Missouri this weekend so we took a couple days off work to get some stuff finished. Our daughter is also on spring break at school so we thought it would be a good time to get some family time in. The project we brought home was the rest of our orc tents. Six of them plus the one we finished several months ago.
Just a quick breakdown on how these things go together. First we built the frames out of sticks from our yard and foamcore bases. We used hot glue to put the frame together because it was much easier for this kind of structure than a slower setting glue. We then covered the structure with scraps of muslin and terry cloth. We cut the muslin into odd rectangles that were not too big to look like they could have been stolen from the tents and gear of non-orc armies. The terry cloth we used to simulate heavy fur hides and some of them were even cut into hide shapes. We used Aleens Tacky Glue to glue the cloth to the wood structure. After that set up we coated the entire outside with some slightly diluted Emlers wood glue. After that dried we coated the edges of the foamcore with elmers glue and dipped the base in sand to texturize it and protect it from the spray paint. After the base dried we sprayed the whole structure with Krylon Ultra Flat Brown from their cammo paints. That's pretty much how we assembled and prepped the tents.

After that we applied the paint. We tried to add some variety to each section of cloth and fur. We used mostly dry brushing techniques to apply the colors. Some of the sections we even painted in wide stripes as if they had been taken from a large striped pavilion. We then finished up the wooden supports in the doorways and drybrushed the edge of the base with Delta Cermacote trail tan.

Here are our six new tents and the one we already had done. The basic parts to our orc camp project. We still have to add watchtowers, a boss tent with interior, a slave pen, a gate, and several sections of log palisade among other things.

We managed to paint the six tents in the afternoon and finished just in time for dinner.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring Terrain Project Roundup Continued

Well after the family get together my wife and I got back into the studio with plans to paint up the tiled table. It was looking pretty good with it's cool blue base and considering how long it took to get all the tiles glued on we were excited to see it comming together.
First I laid down a drybrush or ocre yellow. I wanted some warmth comming up through the layers of paint especially with the very cool base.

Here is the table top with the ocre yellow drubrushing. The yellow looks a bit more intense in the photo than it actually was.

We then drybrushed a warm grey over that. We almost considered stopping here as it looked pretty nice over the table.

Here is a closeup shot of the table tiles at this stage.

We decided to mix the warm grey with a warm off white for a final drybrushing. I'm really happy we went to this stage because the table does look much nicer with this final stage of highlights. We were also careful to do heavier drybrushing in some areas to give the surface texture more variety.

Here is a closeup of the finished table top. Colors are a bit off in the photo but you get the idea.

My wife and I took turns drybrushing so I took some time to glue palpatine to his base for my statue project.

Also I've been forgetting to photo the orc tents. We this is one I finished last year when I assembled the rest of the tents. Eventually I hope they all turn out as nice as this one.

Here are the rest of the Orc tents we are currently working on.

All these projects on the table are ones I hope to finish up by the end of this next week. Some of them may not get as much finish as I had intended but they will all get done is possible.

More Spring Terrain Roundup!

Well we got back into the studio this morning and got quite a bit acomplished in a short time. Our daughter is on spring break at school so I'm planning on spending extra time with her this week working on terrain projects in the studio. It will mostly consist of finishing old projects but I've promised her at least one new building for one of her characters.
We got the grassland table top done and I think it looks great! The hills were already painted like this and they look even better on the new surface. I'm sure glad I went back and fixed the problems on this board and finished painting it.

We managed to get the tile table top basecoated with a cool grey coat of laytex paint. I think it's going to look quite nice when it's done. This table has taken literally years to come together mostly because it's tedious to glue down all those tiles and not something anyone wanted to do for long periods of time but I think the work is going to pay off nicely.

With any luck I'll be able to get back into the shop tonight to do some more painting on the tile table and perhaps work on a couple other projects as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring Terrain Project Roundup!

Well spring is finally here and looking around the studio we saw that we had a lot of unfinished terrain projects so we decided to take some time to rap up the ones that looked easiest to finish. We're also planning on wrapping up some of our miniature projects that have been nearly done for several months or longer. Today however we just worked on terrain.
We've been playing games on this 4'x4' table top made from masonite covered with terry cloth and painted with laytex paint. The table was never properly finished. I started painting the table brown then drybrushing green over that then I was going to drybrush some ocre lightly over that. When I did the brown and green I did it under very poor lighting so I missed a bunch of spots and the white terry cloth showed through. Ever since then I've planned to give the whole table a wash and repeat the green drybrush and add the ocre one but as the table was playable we kept putting that off. Tonight we got the wash done so we should be able to finish it up by monday.

I had this old statue project made from a Star Wars Palpatine action figure and a hirst arts base. I had the base done for a couple years now and it's been on the shelf. Today I cut a foamcore top and glued the figures joints so it wouldn't move.

After I got the top cut I used elmers wood putty from a squeeze tube to texture it. The top piece here and the statue will be painted as a weathered bronze while the base will be painted sandstone color.

The girls started this table top over a year ago. It's covered in irregular tiles cut from scrap pieces of mat board. We were going for a lost civilization or ancient alien look. They managed to wrap up the tile work tonight. I can't wait to see what this looks like painted!

A few months ago we cut out and based about 20 of these little paper tents we found a pattern for on the Games Workshop web site. These were suppose to be used in one game but that game fell through so we ended up with the 20 tents just kinds sitting arround. Eventually we got around to painting three of them up as just white canvas tents for a D&D game but the rest just gathered dust. I decided tonight to paint up another three in a drab military style. I also finished up a tan one with a desert base but didn't photograph it yet. We also did some work on some scratchbuilt Orc Tents we did the assembly on last year but I forgot to get a picture of those. If you look through my game reports you should see the white tents in a few places.

Well that was about six hours of work today and quite a bit acomplished. We have a family get together tomorrow but we're taking the rest of the day to try and get these projects a bit further along. We might even go back tonight for a late night session.

Some terrain sets and other products I may start selling.

Hello wargamers! Nathan “Ironworker” Miller here with some questions. I've developed a set of very tough and attractive hills for wargames. I've been using my set for about 9 months and have played dozens of games on them not to mention that my 11 year old daughter drags them out several times a week and plays on them with miniatures while I'm working so they get a lot of use and after nine months of hard play they still look as good as new. I'm been playing miniature games for over 20 years and this is the first set of hills I've owned I have been truly happy with and that have held up to this kind of abuse.

I'm a bit of a mercenary gamer. I've sold a lot of painted minis and some terrain and I've even done a few greens for a small miniature company though I don't really sculpt at this time. I've never really considered offering regular products for sale until recently. Now I have several product ideas I've developed based on projects I have done in the last few years. These projects were all hand made terrain projects and the products I'm looking to sell will all be hand made as well just produced in larger numbers. The hardest thing to figure out is what kind of prices I should put on these products so I'm trying to do a bit of research on that.

The first product I'm testing out are my hills.

This is an example of what I'm calling my “Skirmish” set of hills. It's a six hill set. Three small single level hills roughly 8”x12” base size. Two medium double level hills roughly 12”x16” base size. One large double level hill roughly 16”x24” base size. I may go up to a triple level hill on the large one when these go into production. These hills are made from Styrofoam and will be mounted on Masonite (MDF) board. The ones pictured are mounted on chipboard but they are just prototypes. The hills are textured with terrycloth (the stuff towls are made of) and sand and painted with latex paints. This makes the hills much tougher than flocked hill. Miniatures stand up on the surface quite well and they haven't damaged any of my minis during play.

What do you think of these hills as a product?

How much do you think a set of 6 hills similar to the above hills would be worth?

How interested are you in owning a set of hills like these?

Do you think wargamers in general might be interested in owning a set of hills like these?

If your not comfortable answering these questions in public would you please pm me or e-mail me at:

Here is a nicer shot of the largest hill I took just after I finished my 10 hill test set.

Here is a closeup of a miniature on the lower tier of the large hill.

I'm currently planning on setting up a merchant booth at a local convention this fall with these hills in sets and some other products as a public test run. If your interested in details on that please e-mail me at the above address.

Thank you!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vinnie's Ductrats Finished!

I would have probably had these done at the start of the week but for the last several days I've been pretty sick and not in my studio much. What was suppose to be a side project for a few days took 8 days to finish but that wasn't all brush time. In fact even when I was in my studio I rarely had more than an hour at a time to work on these guys. Although I lost track of my time log I estimate I have under 20 hours in these guys which is still a bit much. I need to get a group like this down to 10-12 hours at most. I got a bit fiddly in places on these guys so they ended up just a tad nicer than what I should consider rank and file figs but not by too much.
Ok tonight I pretty much just had bases and some touch up to do. I started the bases by drybrushing with GW boltgun metal. The Tank on Liza's stand and the ammo box of Vinnie's stand were painted and highlighted before this stage.

Then I applied a fairly dark rust wash that I mixed with some craft paints. I think Delta Cermacote Autum Brown, Midnight Blue, and Black. I like using craft paints for rust washes because they are a bit grittier and more random which for rust is what you want.

I then used some Vallejo Model Color orange brown for some of the newer rusty spots. I want to point out that normally when I paint miniatures on plastic bases I paint the edge of the base black and only "landscape" the top area under the figures feet. For these guys I decided to go a differtent route and continue over the edge with the rusty effects. I just felt it was a better choice for this type of base effect.

After putting down the brighter rust I washed over the base again with a slightly darker but thinner wash similar to the first one. I also added a bit of dark glaze to some of the areas on the figures that needed a bit more definition. It's most clearly evident on Gomez and Fabio the two cats with the submachine guns. You can see where their arms rest against the body of their jackets. That's where I added the dark wash it give a little more seperation and depth. I didn't go overboard on this however because these guys are just rank and file after all.

That's pretty much a wrap on these guys. I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out but I feel I need to loosen up just a bit more if I'm going to start doing big armies again. Clearly these are looser than I normally go on character type figs but you just can't spend 8-20 hours each on rank and file figs in a big project.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Case For Rayguns!

A Case for Rayguns

Ray guns, lasers, blasters, disruptors, phasers, whatever you call them you can't get much more sci-fi than heroes armed with energy based weapons. Why then is it so hard to find 28mm sci-fi miniatures armed with this iconic gun style? It seems most of the major manufactures of science fiction miniature lines prefer to arm their figures with ballistic weapons. The bigger the better and almost always with a banana clip. Now there are some retro sci-fi lines out with classic ray guns but these lines are small and produced by companies that are sometimes hard to find and they don't cover contemporary sci-fi styling. If your model is more Han Solo than Flash Gordon your out of luck. I'm also not taking into account the pre-painted Star Wars minis by Wizards of the Coast. Not only are these setting specific but they just aren't as nice as their pewter counterparts. Hey I own several myself but I almost always choose converted metal minis over the bendy plastics. Here and there you can find an individual armed with some kind of laser but these are few and far between. Let's look at some of the bigger Sci-fi lines out at the moment:

Ah Warhammer 40,000. Where would the miniature game world be without it? Probably smaller but perhaps a bit more interesting. But wait you say. Warhammer 40k has entire armies based on energy weapons. That's true the Eldar carry laser guns and so do the Imperial Guard but if you look real close even these guns have power packs that look an awful lot like clips. They are also the company responsible for starting the bigger is better mentality for their gun designs. What most people however think when they think of 40k are space marines who are armed with big ballistic bolters. Yes their troops in their most advanced armor carry throw back weaponry. I guess that some people find it comforting that 40,000 years in the future trooper will still be loading their guns with big banana clips but I don't.

Infinity is a relatively new line of figures but sadly they fall into the same old trap. Despite a much cleaner and more futuristic look than Warhammer 40k figures most of their troopers are armed with overly large assault rifles with big banana clips. These trooper's guns even have an extra banana clip just in case the first one runs out.

AT-43 is Rackham's pre-painted plastic line is somewhat nicer looking than most other pre-paints out there. I like the look of their troops and the war walkers are very cool but again despite the high tech gadgetry the guns look carried by most of the troopers are assault rifles that look almost as large as light machine guns.

Urban War by Urban Mammoth use to be called Void by Ikore. I've always liked the clean futuristic look of the miniatures in this line and have even converted a few of them for Star Wars and other futuristic settings. However many of the guns in this line are large, clunky ballistic weapons equipped with banana clips.

The Rezolution line by Aberrant Games is another nice looking sci-fi line and there are a few really nice looking energy weapons in the line usually in the form of laser pistols in the hands of characters. However like a lot of lines the bigger the armor the bigger the guns and those guns are often big ballistic weapons with banana clips. One of these days I would like to see some power armored troopers with laser guns. Is that too much to ask?

We all know where the original BFG comes from right? The Alien series. The massive pulse rifles carried by colonial marines. Despite it's energy weapon sounding name this bad boy is clearly a ballistic weapon. Enough firepower to take out a gibbering alien creature with an extra compartment for my lunch and a thermos of coffee. If I see another sci-fi trooper with a knock off pulse rifle I think I'm gonna puke.

So do ballistic weapons belong in Sci-fi at all? Yes I think they do. I've got nothing against settings with both space ships and ballistic weapons. Certainly there have been a number of movies and TV series that have taken that route with their weaponry. I can't imagine Malcolm, Jayne, of Zoe in a shootout against Alliance feds armed with phasers but at the same time imagine if energy weapons had never been dreamed up......

Captain Kirk sure got into a lot of scraps and despite being on a “peaceful” mission he was awfully well armed. He had; phasers, phaser rifles, even those little pocket phasers that look innocently like a communicator. But what if the producers of Star Trek had decided to arm Kirk with an AK instead of a phaser? Can you imagine kirk fighting off a bunch of Klingons on some god forsaken planet turning to Spock and saying “Spock...... I've..... exhausted my........ ammo...... supply. Toss me another clip”?

The setting is Mos Eisley cantina. Han Solo has just taken on some passengers for what seems like a milk run. He'll finally be able to pay off Jabba the Hutt with the creds from this job. He's so taken aback by his good fortune that he doesn't notice the armed rodian Greedo until he sits down across from him at the table. Greedo plans to turn Han in to Jabba and collect oa sizable bounty before Han can pay Jabba off. Han however has other plans. He slips his DL-44 from it's holster while distracting Greedo with small talk. Han kills the bounty hunter with one shot to his midsection. The heavy blaster pistol leaves a cauterized wound but Han still flips the bartender a small credit coin to take care of the “mess”. Now imagine if you will that our boy Han had been armed with a Mac 10 instead of his trusty blaster. He would have had to take out another expensive loan from another ruthless gangster to cover the cleanup on that mess.

Officer Aeryn Sun carries weapons that look a bit like they might be ballistic weapons but as her traveling companion John Crichton pointed out her weapons do indeed fire “little bolts of light”. I'm sure our favorite Peacekeeper would look pretty hot with a Desert Eagle but I don't think the effect would be the same. Lasers are sexier than bullets.

What if Starbuck were armed with a ...... Oops

Ok what if this Starbuck were armed with a SMG instead of his blaster? We've seen how ineffective regular ballistic weapons are against tosters but those old sidearms of the Colonial fleet worked rather well.

I guess it turns out you can save the galaxy with just plane old guns but some heroes just look cooler with ray guns. Energy weapons remain the stuff of science fiction whereas ballistic weapons are more realistic but this is SCIENCE FICTION we are talking about. Where else but science fiction can we realistically use energy based weapons?

Look I'm an American. I like explosions, and fast cars, hot chicks in bikinis, sleek looking assault rifles with grenade launchers. I like all those things and I don't even mind them in my science fiction but there is room for variety here and I don't see a lot of the current manufactures taking advantage of it. I want my: phasers, blasters, distruptors, and laser pistols. I want ray guns god damn it. And flying cars. We were suppose to have flying cars....... but that's for another rant.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rescue on Tatooine

Rescue on Tatooine
Wizards of the Coast produces a fairly nice line of pre-painted Star Wars minis. Normally I don't like playing with pre-paints but we've been using these to test out No Limits and although I've been working on painting up a few I'm no where near having even one army done. This battle is a basic rescue operation at 1000 points. Princess Leia has taken her personal yacht to Tatooine to rescue an Imperial informant. Unfortunately for her the Imperials have caught wind of her plan. A local cell of Rebel insurgents led by Oona Fortella are holding the informant in a compound outside of Bestine Spaceport. A platoon of Imperial Stormtroopers have been dispatched under the command of Lt. Derker Steel to prevent the informants escape. The bounty hunter Dengar has been hired by the Imperials to bolster their strength and probe droids have been attached to two of the three squads.

We went with a split deployment to make things more interesting.

Insurgent leader Oona Fortella draws first blood as she guns down the Sergent of Beta Squad.

Stormtrooper Squads Beta and Gamma advance towards the compound while squad Alpha provides covering fire. Squad Alpha and a Rebel Fleet squad engage in a heavy fire fight from opposite sides of the road. Both squads take casualties but the rebels, lacking heavy armor, get the worst of it.

The fighting gets more brutal across the road but the armored Imperial troops continue to shrug off blast after blast. Let it never be said Stormtrooper armor is mealy ceremonial.

Despite having a height advantage the insurgents aren't doing much better than the fleet troopers. Squad Gamma and Dengar Kill all but a lone Jawa in short order.

The Rebel squad fighting with Squad Alpha falls back from their position. The other Rebels fire on Squad Gamma but most of their squad is out of range so they have little effect.

The Rebels switch their attention to Squad Beta who are closer but again the armor of the Stormtroopers proves it usefulness. Things are looking bad for the Rebels. Their Fleet Troopers have taken heavy casualties and the insurgents in the compound are about to be surrounded.

Squad Alpha leaves their position and this time it's Beta squad who provides covering fire. On the other side of the compound squad Gamma move forward with little opposition.

Suddenly the Jawa insurgent comes out of hiding and shoots a Stormtrooper. A hail of blaster bolts will lay him low moments later.

With no hope of victory the Rebels withdraw to their ship and the insurgents in the town surrender.

Notes: The imperial victory here was due to totally improbable die rolls. I would estimate I made over 60% of my required rolls and that's pretty high considering I only had a 40% or less chance of success on most of my test. My wife couldn't believe how many armor saves I made. Her troops where hitting and wounding just fine but my armor was holding even against weapons with modifiers. I found the probe droids with scanners to be immensely helpful for the squads they were assigned to. All in all I would call it a good battle and Leia escaped so we could have a follow up game.