Sunday, October 29, 2017

October already?

The annual update was meant as a joke initially, but has become a sad reality.

This year blogging has taken a severe hit by Photobucket's policy change. Most will have come across that sad story by now, so I won't retell it here. Since large parts of my blog's gallery were hosted there, almost the whole back catalogue of posts and pictures is rendered useless. I have restored some posts. But it is a huge undertaking to download all albums (Photobucket does its best to prevent that) and reupload them somewhere else. Sure, there are ways to outsmart their service, yet I have no trust that there will be any lasting solution with free hosting sites. Also I don't have the time or will to revisit every post affected.

That is the main reason why I have pretty much stopped using this blog. There are now easier (and less time-consuming) ways to record my hobby activities. Which sadly have become few and far between, anyway. Also, after almost ten years of service *oh boy* this site is in desperate need of a major overhaul, in technical terms as well as in format and style. Even small things like fonts cannot be changed due to an outdated custom template, hence I reckon it requires a lot more effort than I'm able to spend on it at the moment.

I won't scrap the blog completely for I still hope to come back to it in this current or any other format. But if you're interested in my progress – what little there is – you can either follow me on Twitter (see the right bar) or keep an eye on the Lead Adventure Forum, which I roam under the guise of Mad Doc Morris.

Until next year or so.
Cheers all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Didn't see that coming: Thousand Sons (W30k)

Good God, about time for my annual blog update! :D
While time for hobby activities is and will remain sparse, I've kept painting (at glacial speed) for a few core projects. These are either small scale or "crossover" miniatures, i.e. boardgame pieces or models I just enjoy painting up. To my own surprise under that latter category quite a few models by Games Workshop have been added recently.
This is mainly due to GW's increasing range of boardgames and starterkits, which offer far better value for money than their regular ranges and even contain options for games beyond their usual massed-battle nonsense. Hence one of my most recent acquisitions (well, I'm late to the party) was the "Betrayal at Calth" boxed set.

I'm pretty sure most people know the actual theme of that set. However, I decided to change it slightly and thereby resurrect one of my 40k armies of old: the Thousand Sons.

Testimony to my speed of progress these days, I managed to at least paint up a mere squad of ten Space Marines before the imminent release of GW's next "Horus Heresy" installment featuring the very same legion. What can I say?

A few bits and pieces from Forgeworld's upgrade set (helmets) as well as GW's now defunct Khemri range were added, others simply kitbashed. I also experimented with metallic armour effects, but wasn't happy with the results; so I went for the classic plain red colour scheme. Sound advice on that was provided by this video tutorial by Warhammer TV. Shoulder pad markings will be added in one go as soon as the rest of the marines are ready.

Finally I rebuilt one of the command figures to resemble one of the legion's arch sorcerers. The current fluff doesn't provide any guidelines on badges of rank or other insignia among the Thousand Sons (pre-heresy at least). A crest snitched from a Stormcast Eternals character turned out to be a nice fit. Furthermore two scrolls taken from a Khemri banner were attached to the cloak brooches, and a large halberd (a stand-in for the more common heqa staff) was kitbashed from a few Skaven bits. The hardest part was to create a magic gesture on the left hand. My bitzbox is still pretty limited, so I recarved the hand of a marine who carries a rocket launcher – not the greatest choice but okay.

Of course, as I want to use those minis for the boardgame first and foremost (not interested in 40k in its current format), I need an opposing force. Although it pains me greatly, there is really just one choice in this case, and so an advance party of the dreadful Space Wolves has been sighted already…

Further updates on this (and other projects) might appear here somewhere soon. Otherwise, please check my Twitter account – as seen to the right – for more frequent service. Thanks all for visiting!

Monday, October 19, 2015

See Rome and die

Over the last seven days I've run a themed week over at Lead Adventure Forum. This was modelled on an earlier joint venture with Prof. Witchheimer. But since I've been on my own this time, I decided to narrow it down and do something of a (very) special interest: an early Roman warband, set somewhen during the 6th century BC.

The idea was to paint up seven miniatures representing possible forbears of the class-system within later Republican Roman armies. So I got everything from heavily armoured hoplites down to an unarmoured  stone-thrower – which was very kindly supported by Keith from Aventine Miniatures who allowed me to pick and choose from their excellent "Republican Roman" range. This covers mainly the 3rd century onwards, but particularly some Volscian and Etruscan warriors are usable in earlier periods as well.

Not to simply repeat myself here's just the final shot of the warband fully assembled.

The original thread on LAF contains some (not too serious) background details and considerations. At some point I might start a full series on that topic, perhaps along the lines of my Centurion project. But definitely not now since I'm already packing up my stuff again at the moment.
So this is also to inform you about another hiatus – service might (!) resume in the new year, no promises though.

See you all!

Monday, October 05, 2015

HMS Interlude

During my ongoing clear out I recently dug up something unexpected. Or rather I should say, it was something I didn't expect to 'light my fire' so easily. Some time ago, in an impulse well known to any wargamer out there, I purchased a couple of 1:2400 scale sailers.

At least since my first encounter with "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and Steve Maturin (as told by the late Patrick O'Brien and one of the best historical movies ever produced, "Master & Commander"), I've been fascinated by naval warfare in the so-called Age of Sail. However, to an unskilled modeller like me the prospect of assembling, let alone rigging, those fabulously detailed 1:1200 vessels (which seem a wargaming standard for this period) was just too intimidating. So it wasn't until I came across these tiny yet beautiful models by Tumbling Dice that I finally gave in.

Given my background of "frigate action" novels I have actually little interest in formal battles and large formations of ships of the line. Individual ships or squadrons of smaller vessels chasing each other, running a blockade or taking part in landing operations does rather flow my boat (no pun intended). Thus I settled for a couple of generic minor vessels, which may also be usable from the 18th to the early 19th century.

Although the models have good detail I went for quite basic paintjobs. Others may achieve better looking results. But for me this is a fun project, a side quest, which may never get to the table (there's very little interest around, so I've settled for solo-gaming). Surprisingly to me, the most fun part was basing. Filler was applied quite liberally, then painted, washed and drybrushed in various tones of blue and finished with a few white highlights. Perhaps I've overdone the waves; but it's my first attempt, and I actually like a bit of exaggeration.

The labels shown here are an afterthought. I don't like permanent labels, especially since I have yet no specific ruleset in mind (Galleys & Galleons by Nicholas Wright looks promising so far). So I tried to make good use of the magnetic bases – which I cut to a standard size of 45x20mm from a few leftover sheets. Once printed the paper labels were glued onto metal foil, which will hold the pieces in place beneath the bases. This way the generic ships may easily 'change hands' as well. On second thought, though, I should've printed the labels upside down, but that's something learnt for next time.

There are a few more ships to come, and also some boats as seen here. Like said, it's a distraction, something I can do in-between and rather casually. So you may or might never see this again. ;-)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Building Ruins

As time permits I'm extending my collection of ancient ruins and paraphernalia. Thus it's growing veeery slowly but steadily. Let's start with some recent additions.

Not the most impressive type of scenery, these ovens were just too much fun and should provide some 'period flavour'. The cupolas were built from the ever so useful plastic shells found in Kinder Surprise (think that's how it's called), put on top of a simple styrofoam square and "plastered"with wood filler. The hand mill should look familiar to anyone who's visited a Roman reenactment; it's made of styrofoam, cut out with a 20mm punch (originally meant for leatherwork). Like all my terrain this piece might get used in other settings as well, but clearly my ruined city is still home to living people.

The stone wall was an experiment. Its construction roughly follows ancient techniques: the gap between two parallel walls was filled with leftover material, putty and sand, saving on material and weight. While this worked reasonably well, I'm not that convinced by the exterior decoration. This should actually resemble neat masonry or plasterwork like seen on Hellenistic and Roman defensive walls, but didn't turn out as planned. Well, maybe next time – advice is always welcome!

Several sections will follow since walls introduce a feature particularly useful in skirmish games: different height levels. In this instance I just added some makeshift wooden platforms, obviously installed by less talented constructors. They may also serve as a shelter for passersby, heroes and more dubious characters alike.

Speaking of shady figures, I also painted a few Thracians (kindly donated by Prof. Witchheimer, thanks a lot!) as generic minions, cultists or mere sellswords even. Models are by Wargames Foundry, i.e. Copplestone/Saleh/Collier sculpts, and a real joy to paint – although I didn't go crazy copying all the colourful and heavily patterned garments usually ascribed to Thracian warriors.

The miniatures complement King Aietes and his companion painted for our "Jason and the Argonauts" participation game back in 2010/11. These two may well become the leading men in a forthcoming Frostgrave campaign, but better don't hold your breath for that.

And that's it for now. I've already collected all kind of rubble for the next pieces, and trusty Kastor is inspecting only the most suspicious item…

Monday, August 24, 2015

Return to ancient graves

After a long hiatus I've recently returned to Ancient mythology. My interest got reignited by the current hype about Osprey's "Frostgrave". Despite my admiration for the figures and terrain people have come up with already (just have a look at the Frostgrave sub-board over on Lead Adventure Forum), I couldn't afford to start yet another collection of (very) specific terrain and figures for this trademarked setting. Also, I've yet to determine if the game is a keeper.

So I've begun to scratch-build some random ruined terrain, which will fit in with my existing Mediterranean pieces. I could use it as ancient remains in settings up to the present day.

Essentially it's all built from a 3mm polystyrene sheet and based on very thin plastic card. The two pillars are made from a tube containing vitamin tablets, which was cut up; the tube also provided a 'stopper' which was repurposed as a fancy metal decoration on top of an altar.

So far I've refrained from playing any game which involves zombies. The concept and people's fascination with it is, for some reason, completely lost on me. However, "Frostgrave" (like many other fantasy games) calls for zombies – so I tried to add a twist at least: I'm repurposing some Foundry Mycenaeans for the role of "undead ancestors", "earthborns" or other restless spirits that can be called upon.

Still experimenting with colour schemes. These two got a greenish grey skin tone; Foundry's Granite works quite well. The next ones might have a more brownish complexion. And some I might even paint as ghosts – we'll see. For their somewhat decayed or simply ancient equipment I used brown and green hues (Foundry Rawhide & Vallejo Green Grey/Khaki, Foundry Teal Blue for patina effects). Their simple bases are to match my Argonauts, as seen here before.

More to come soon, I hope.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Lion on Crusade

With my thesis finally locked 'n' loaded I started painting again after a (veeery) long hiatus. Admittedly I've done a bit of practicing inbetween, and people say it's like cycling: once learnt, never unlearnt. However, I'm still struggling, and most likely painting won't become a habit anytime soon due to constraints in "real life".
Earlier this year I had been kindly given the promo model for Tactica 2015 (thanks a lot, Alex!), King Richard I "the Lionheart" sculpted by Michael Perry. Although the model is a bit rough in parts (like quite a bit of the Perries' recent output, I'm afraid), I had a blast painting him as a one-off.

Since the sculpt mixes depictions of the Great Seals of 1195 and 1198 anyway, I opted for the more commonly known blazon of walking lions to decorate the horse barding with. Initally a great idea, until I realised the motif was to be replicated four times. Well, I wanted practice, right?!
Of course, there's no king without men to lead. So I dug out a few leftovers and cobbled together a small warband. "SAGA-sized" forces are a favourite of many wargamers these days, and who am I to swim against the stream? Besides, it's a good start when you have just a couple of minis at hand.

This first group of knights on foot was originally acquired (and half-way painted) to be used in games inspired by the Nibelungenlied – or rather its literary background in the Holy Roman Empire of the late 12th and early 13th century. Said background had already inspired the Romanesque artworks of Carl Otto Czeschka, which, in turn, were adapted to the screen most famously by Fritz Lang in 1924. To cut a long story short: That's why a representation of Hagen von Tronje and his distinctive winged helmet (funny wings are by Hasslefree) is included here.

To be honest, almost any shield design has been inspired by German blazons rather than English ones. Some of them are quite local, and none is a hundred percent accurate for the given place and period. My aim was rather to build a generic warband which might roam the Holy Land in 1190 as well as Sicily under Emperor Henry VI or the 'German wastes' in the struggle between Philip of Swabia and Otto IV.

Thus eventually even King Richard might be replaced by a more fitting leader. Unfortunately, though, you aren't spoilt for choice when gaming the period between Norman kite shields and the rise of the Great Helmet, at least in 28mm. The Perries seem to have given up on their venture into the later Crusades, while others have focussed on the later 13th century. So this is the place to applaud Black Tree Design for filling that gap. I may recommend them wholeheartedly – on each occasion I received everything in good order and within a couple of days, and their models are excellently sculpted and cast. Despite a few awkward poses, the models have great and accurate detail (e.g. note the shield straps). Furthermore they scale with Perry minis quite nicely. Don't be put off by some unfavourable photos on their website or the amount of bad-mouthing on the internet. I was, and I was wrong.

My last purchase for this warband so far were these lowly footmen. Again, very nice sculpts full of character and detail. Having assembled quite a few plastic models in the past, good old one-piece metal figures were a relief. First and foremost their poses look a lot more natural than anything at least I was able to create from plastic kits.

And there you have it. In SAGA terms I'm now able to field a smallish 4-points warband, made up of three units of foot knights ("hearthguard"), one unit of militiamen ("warriors") and commanded by a "warlord" in disguise of Richard I (it my be someone else, you know). The all-new "Crescent & Cross" rulebook has just arrived – but I might as well repurpose them for "Lion Rampant", "Lords & Servants" or any other skirmish-sized game set in the Middle Ages. Because this time I'm determined to stay with "No pressure please". ;-)

Painted May to June 2015. Miniatures by Perry Miniatures (Richard I) and Black Tree Design.


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