Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Scouring Pad Conifer Trees.

Whilst perusing the projects of TerraGenesis, my favorite terrain site, I came across a project where the artist had made some nice looking conifers using scouring pads and bamboo skewers. They looked pretty good but I didn't like the fact that all the trees were so straight up and down. Later while thinking about the project I decided that the trunks would look much nicer if they were made from whittled down twigs. This way the trees would have odd twist and bends in the trunks and not be so uniformly straight. I sat on the idea for a while then I decided to work on it during my move time because it wasn't a big material intensive project. Most of my materials are packed and already at my other house but I still had enough stuff to work on these at night.

Here are the twigs whittled down and stained with some very warm brown paint. I made 20 trunks but then decided to work on them 10 at a time.

I then created the foliage just as the article instructs by cutting disk of scouring pads then splitting them in half and roughing them up into irregular shapes. A couple tips: Use old scissors. The pads are impregnated with abrasives which will wreck a good pair of scissors. That leads to tip number two. Wear a mask or respirator. Tearing the pads apart releases a lot of abrasive dust. I woke up this morning with a sore throat because I didn't bother. The abrasives can be quite bad for you and you might consider doing this projects outside because the dust can linger in the air.
Here is my first finished tree. Another thing I did differently than the article was that I used Aleene's Tacky Glue instead of super glue to glue my foliage in place. Aleene's is my favorite glue for terrain. It sets more quickly than white glue but also dries clear and flexible and it's thick enough to stay where you put it unless you really glop it on which can also be useful in some situations. You can see that some of the glue hasn't quite set in this pic especially at the top but it does dry completely clear.

Here's my first group of ten trees. You can see here how the irregular stick shape adds character to each tree and makes them look more natural. Now I just need to drybrush the foliage with some lighter green and base them and I'll have a nice small wooded area.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Too much free time not enough focus.

Well I haven't had a blog entry in over a week here partially because I'm moving to another town. The good thing about that is that the town I'm moving two has two pretty active game stores and a lot of gamers and the town I currently live in really has neither.

Packing up all my miniatures and game stuff has been both a blessing and a curse. I've found a lot of projects I had lost track of but I also became even more aware of the many projects I have that are in various stages of completion or lack there of. I can't believe how many unfinished projects I've built up and how close some of them are to being done and have been that way for years. I also became aware of how many gaps I have in my collection and how unfocused my miniature painting has been. I've got a few minis painted for lots and lots of different game settings but most of them are not well covered. For instance I have a good collection of Star Wars minis for RPGs and I'm getting a good collection of Pulp era figures but I was shocked to find that I have fewer than a dozen character minis for D&D because I've sold several over the years and have not been replacing them. I've got a few modern minis and a lot small faction lots from various war games and not one of them large enough to field a good "army" at this time. Sure they look impressive all together but they really don't amount to much. I'd say ebay has been a factor in this situation because I've sold off a lot of my old stuff but I've also been pretty bad about picking up minis for too many systems and not getting enough painted for any one army. I still own thousands of minis though and I would imagine I have no more than a few hundred painted.

Another thing I've noticed lately is just how many unfinished web pages I have made over the years. I've had five different pages dedicated to miniature games all of which seem incomplete.

The Moto Bushi School is probably my oldest and it's dedicated to Clan War. Naturally the demise of that game didn't help.

Valhalla Painting Studio is something I set up back when I was selling painted minis on ebay. I started out just selling off minis I didn't want but then I started selling off minis from my collection just to keep auctions up on a regular basis. This burned me out pretty bad and left me with pretty big gaps in my collection. I've sold minis on e-bay since then but never on a regular basis.

Star Wars Adventures in Miniature is an old page from about 2001 or 2002. I was doing a lot of sculpting and converting back then although I still didn't have a good camera so I was laying most of my minis on a flat bed scanner.

Nathan Miller's Art of Miniature Gaming was an early attempt to get all my spread out material under the same roof or at least be a hub for my previous attempts.

My Cool Mini or Not Gallery by 2003 I finally had a good enough camera to post some pics in this cutthroat community. Unfortunately I don't paint for contest so I never got very good scores. I still post randomly on CMON but oddly most of my best minis I don't bother posting there.

The Border Princes was my old Warhammer club. We hung together for about a year or two but then everyone started moving away. Most of us stay in contact but the club is mostly dead. I may start it back up again after my move because there isn't a lot of support for Warhammer Fantasy where I'm moving and I think it's a far better system than 40k which of course had a big following.

My Displaced Miniatures Gallery lately I've been posting a few figs on Displaced Miniatures. For some reason however the feedback features seem to be disabled so all you can really do is put minis up and look at the pretty pictures.

Then there is this blog which I hope actually surpasses all my other attempts. So far I've been much better at updating it than most of my previous web pages. I guess I'll just have to start staying focused. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Spring Recruits 2008

Well it's been four days since Spring Recruits 08 so I decided I better get my convention report done before I let it slip past. I had never been to Recruits before so I wasn't sure what to expect. We arrived mid day on Saturday later than we expected due to some scheduling problems and the convention was in full swing.

The first thing I did was locate the Rattrap demo table which had three cool looking games set up. I snapped a couple of pics but didn't introduce myself since they had people.

Near the Rattrap table was a nice ACW set up. I've got to say I was amazed at all the great paint jobs and terrain I saw on the historic tables at this con. I have been resisting pure historic games up till this point but a lot of these games really looked great.

I really wanted to check out this table which i think was 100 Years War but they seemed pretty stuck in when I got there so all I did was snap of couple photos and move on. Unfortunately they packed up the table after this game and didn't run it again. Next Recruits I'm going to have to make it on time so I don't miss out on this kind of thing.

Then I saw my opportunity to get in on some of the great looking Rattrap action. Even better the .45 table was open and that was the game I was most interested in playing. The guys who were running the tables were also members of The Lead Adventure Forum so I introduced myself as Ironworker. I met UncleRino (Ryan), Treadhead, Cwchmc (Chuck), and Easy Eight (Dan). Dan was running the .45 game on a very cool looking table he had created. It was a very impressive Junk Yard with gates that opened and closed and some great looking features. Chuck had painted the miniatures and they looked amazing. I was playing Mafia Boss Mulroney and my task was to find three bodies my boys had buried there before someone else found them. My wife played Sam Steel Private eye. He was accompanied by a reporter and photographer to document any evidence they found. Her job was to expose me and get hard evidence of my crimes.
The game didn't start out well for me. I had to check the encounter markers to look for the bodies because none of my men could remember where they were buried. As luck would have it the first encounter I ran across was the junkyard dog who promptly mauled my tommy gunner to death.
To make matters worse a pair of cops just happened by so I had to try to keep things quite. Not easy when your digging around in a junkyard looking for dead bodies.

We managed to get one body loaded and found another when a crazy old man living in the junkyard crawled out of his car/house and wounded one of my boys pretty badly with a leg shot. Now I was one thug down and one thug badly injured. The boss had no choice but to pitch in and help recover some of the bodies himself.

Unfortunately this was just the opportunity the photographer needed. He snuck up behind some rubble and snapped a photo.

And there it was a great shot for the front page of the Daily Enquirer. A nice shot of Boss Mulroney loading bodies into the back of his truck. The only option I had was to finish loading the bodies and try and nab that camera.

My plans however were foiled by the cops who were wondering by. They had heard a short exchange of gunfire and decided to investigate. I decided to try and use my status as a mafia boss to intimidate them but these gents were not backing down. A fight ensued between the rest of my gang and the coppers.

This left Sam Steel and company plenty of time to get in their car and escape with the evidence and not a scratch on them.

After the .45 game we played the Fantastic Worlds demo. Now I'm not a big Retro Sci-Fi fan or anything. I don't know Flash Gordon, from Buck Rogers, from John Carter, and I couldn't tell you anything about them. Anyhow in this game Flash Gordon and his catman friend who's name escapes me were searching Swampman village for his girlfriend Dale (is that a girls name?) who had been abducted. Unfortunately for him King Voltan and his Hawkmen were also searching the village. Some strange poison or something had killed all the swampmen.

I was playing Voltan and my wife was playing Flash. I had two to one odds and my men could fly so I sent my men to spread out and search as many huts as I could. I lucked out and Voltan himself found dale tied up in a hut. Unfortunately Voltan isn't too bright. He was smitten with Dale and spent a few minutes ogling her before he was able to snap out of it and make off with his new prize. This cause a bit of trouble for my men who had now turned to fighting off Flash and his house cat, man, thing.....

Eventually Voltan came to his senses and started to fly off with Dale. Flash made a heroic leap across the field to try and save his "girlfriend" Bob ummm..... Dale but Voltan fought him off.

Voltan flew off with John Dale and all poor flash could do was stand there with his fancy raygun unable to take a shot with out risking hitting his ummm lady love.

One great thing about recruits is that it's very kid friendly. People are encouraged to bring their kids and GMs are required to allow them to play in their games. Of course this was made easy by the fact that the first table at the con before you even got into the main room was occupied by a very impressive looking tournament of champions table. This is a great game for kids and in fact our daughter and her friend spent most of the day there playing and watching as did most of the kids their age. That's her sitting by the bell. She apparently set out a round when she managed to draw a character she felt had too many skulls on it but she played several rounds and had a good time so we didn't pester her about playing other games.

When we went back on Sunday things had slowed down a bit but there were still several games to play and purchases to make.

With no tournament of champions table many of the kids including out daughter were playing board games. There were plenty available and the GMs at those tables were doing a great job working with the kids so again we left them to their play.

Oh did I mention there was a Flames of War tournament that was being played on over half the tables at the con from the start of the thing to the end. Nope..... Well there was. It sure looked cool but the only demo game they had was scheduled on Friday so I missed it so all I could do was watch. Personally this was the only downer of the con. I feel that they should have had demos going during the duration if they were going to have one tournament take up that much space. This is only a minor complaint though as the tables were nicely done and all the figures on every table were nicely painted. This made the role of bystander much more pleasant.

I had been eyeballing this WWII dogfighting game Saturday but hadn't had a chance to play it. Sunday I made a point to get in on the action. My wife and I and a friend of ours we had come to the con with played the role of the Japanese Zero pilots trying to stop a pair of Dauntless pilots from bombing our carrier. The Dauntless also had a pair of Corsairs as escorts. I only took a few shots at this table because the game went pretty quickly and I was paying a lot of attention to maneuvering my plans. It took a little getting use to . In this shot I'm flying the Zero on the far right side and the one closest to the camera. I had intended to have both of my planes on the tail of my targets but I had written down the wrong order for one and he flew off in totally the wrong direction.

This game as a lot of fun as a homebrew system based on a WWI game called Canvas Eagles. It really felt like a dogfight and our team did pretty well. I lost a plane out of my wing pair and it was the only plane shot down in the game. The Dauntless were like flying tanks. Our Zeros were all over them and we poured lead into them for several rounds but they just kept flying.

In the end one of the Dauntless was damaged badly and could only make right hand turns. The other one had a wounded pilot but was otherwise in pretty good shape. The worst thing about the Dauntless wasn't their durability but their rear gunners. I got pretty shot up. I lost a plane an my pilot in the other plane was badly wounded at the end of the game. Both my planes had hit a couple of times but the tail gunners had chewed my little Zeros to pieces. We did however manage to turn back the attackers so it was a tactical victory for Japan despite the fact that we took much heavier damage. Our plan was to have two of our planes flown by my wife to tangle with the escorts while two wing pairs attacked the bombers. It worked fairly well but had the game gone much longer I think our casualties would have been worse.

We had a great time as the con. Not only did we play a lot of fun games but we picked up some nice loot from the dealers. Apparently our cat Milo approved of the purchases we made because I found him the next morning lounging dragonlike among our treasure horde. I can't wait for the Fall session.