Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blood Bowl Hill Dwarf Death Boar Finished

Just in time for the Talk Fantasy Football forum challenge deadline, the 'Death Boar' counts-as Death Roller is finished.
I'm really liking this mini. Sometimes all it takes is one miniature to cause you to build a whole team around it, and I suspect this is one of those minis.

Here he is: (click to see larger)

Argh! Mad Dwarf! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Plugging Warploque Miniatures: A Sale & Cool Free Hobbit

One of my favorite Independent Minis sculptor is having a holiday special!
Warploque Miniatures, the source of my favorite troll, the Hippo Troll, is having a special with free shipping, even international shipping!  Which is great for those of us who live oceans & continents away from the U.K.

Plus, if you order 35 GBP or more you get an otherwise unavailable Halfling Feaster:
This guy is so full of character. I can easily see him as a sideline mini for Blood Bowl, either cheerleader, coach, halfling chef (sampling his wares), etc. So of course, I couldn't resist.  I ordered a set of halflings to make a fantasy skirmish warband (he's working on archers now too) along with another troll and a prehistoric bird creature. Great stuff! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deathboar: Painting W.I.P.

Had a bit of time to start the painting of the Hill Dwarf 'Deathboar'...
I really enjoy painting multi-toned fur. I love this sculpt, so it's great fun to paint.

I cleaned up the helmet and I also removed the norse runes from the shield and increased the size of the boss.

Progress shot after today:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Death Boar! Conversion Nearly Done

Talk Fantasy Football forum is starting up painting challenges, which is always fun.  These things are a great way to motivate you to start a project, or to get back to an old project, or just to paint up something different. All the challenges will be Blood Bowl related of course, but there is still a wide variety within that to explore.

The theme for the inaugural challenge is 'Secret Weapons'.  Unfortunately the due date is end of November, and I just started today.  Will I finish? I don't know, but I'll give it a try.

The mini I decided upon is a Dwarf Deathroller.  But I wanted to do something a bit different than a standard Deathroller.  Over a year ago I picked up some minis to make a 'Hill Dwarf" team: more rustic & savage than typical dwarves.  So naturally, they wouldn't have a machine to cause mayhem with, but they do have access to the beasts of their woodland hills, so enter the 'Death-boar"!

Still need to work on the helmet some, once it's cured completely. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

War Rocket: Test Schemes for Imperial & Zenithian

Aiming for metallic and easy to paint for these, what do you think?

Here are the Zenithian test ships (I'm probably going to change dome reflection to 'triangular zaggy lines' rather than 'sheperical bloomp' style.)

Imperial test ship: going for bronze metallic instead of the red or orange hulls I've usually seen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Imperial War Rocket: Review & Tutorial: Ming the Merciless Eat Your Heart Out.

Nearly three months back (you can see how little time I get for my own hobby projects, especially lately) I reviewed the Zenithian fleet for War Rocket by Hydra Miniatures, which you can find here. At the same time I ordered the Zenithian ships I also ordered the Imperial fleet, since I have a compulsion to have at least two factions for any game that tempts me.
Now that the second fleet is assembled, on with the review & tutorial.

The assembled fleet, containing one fleet pack (nine Class I ships and 3 Class II ships) and I upgraded the order to have a Class III & a Class IV ship to round them out.  So let's get to building:

On opening the bags and sorting the pieces this is what you'll find:
The small Class I ships are simple single piece minis.  The higher class ships are a little more complicated than the Zenithian Class II-IV ships, needing several separate pieces.  The Class II ship is the ship design that made this whole line of miniatures a 'must-buy' for me.  The Imperial Class II is my favorite ship of any of the fleets: it's just dead sexy.  Unfortunately, shipping wasn't kind to them:
The one on the right is only a bit bent, but the other two look like mosquitoes that tried to bite Superman.

I started with the Class II, since the bent spikes was very distressing. It took some careful bending and reshaping, but they came out all right in the end.  The Wings then needed to be glued to the hull:
Next small problem found: quite a bit of a gap as you can see above.  Luckily this is only visible from the underneath, which means it will never be seen, and a little green stuff fills it in fine. So it didn't bother me much. 

Class II's complete.  Just a little extra attention and they're showroom ready. 

The Class I ships are very easy. Just trim flash and file.  There was moderate extra metal in the inner curve of the tail fin, so that needs to be carved away and then file to clean it up. 

On to the Class III:
It also had a bit of a gap for the wings underneath, but same solution as for the Class II. 

The Class IV worried me just a bit.  It's wings are in 2 pieces, and I wondered how stable they'd be.  I've run across other miniatures with individual wings that are a nightmare (none more so then the current GW Dwarf Gyrocopter!) But I was relieved and impressed.  The design for the wings and two-part hull is elegant. 

Each wing fits snugly and there is a recessed area that covers the wing's turret. You can't help but assemble it perfectly and it is very secure.  If only all miniatures were designed so cleverly.

The Class III & IV 's hulls are cast from resin, and it's very smooth without any defects.

The flight stand and connection spots are the same as the Zenithian ships: holes are much too big for the connector stub, which is a blessing: clip them off and attach directly to the top of the flight stand.  See the Zenithian Review for those pictures.    Like I did for the Zenithians, I added a few longer flight stands to vary the heights for a few of the ships. 

**Important Note: if you plan to use the ships for War Rocket, please remember to line up the ship facing a flat edge of the hexagonal flight base, not a point, as that is important in the game rules. **

The Class IV ship however felt too heavy to me, with it's thick metal wings, so I pinned it to the flight stand.  It comes with a metal flight stand luckily, so simply drill down into the flight stand and into the ship and reinforce with a pin.

Speaking of flight stands, since many of the ships are metal I felt it'd be best to weight the base down, to help against ships being knocked over.  I did this for both fleets.  I put a bit of green stuff in the base and glued in bits of left-over metal from base tabs and sprue.  Since I work with so many minis I must have a few pounds of this saved up.  I could have used washers, but that costs a bit of money, and this solution is free ;)
It's not quite up to 'weeble-wobble' standard but it's close. 

And so the Imperial Fleet is assembled:

And facing up against their foe:
From top to bottom, a comparison of Class IV, Class III, Class II and Class I. 

Hydra has already released the Class I ships for the Space Pirate faction, and they're my current favorite Class I ship.  If the future releases are as good I'll be adding a third fleet I have no doubt. 

The Imperials are a human-like species with an overbearing powerful military and royal family.  If you are thinking 'Ming the Merciless' then I bet you're pretty close to the mark.  The ships are fast, but not the fastest in the game.  They are also not the most (but not the least) maneuverable.  They have a decent amount of firepower, but seems their greatest strength is in their durability.  They're easily the most sturdy ships in the game. 

So how do I rate the Imperial Fleet?

Casting: 8/10
Cleverness of Design: 10/10
Aesthetics:  10/10

Again I'm very pleased with the items from Hydra Miniatures. 
I hope to have a chance to paint them in the not too distant future.  My plans for them are pretty simple actually, so they shouldn't take too long to complete if I can find time to start them.  Hopefully that can be done before they release any more of the Space Pirates!

Enjoy the movie!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cheer! Whether for Blood on the Pitch or in the Goblet. New Blood Bowl Cheerleader

If you look through the updates with the 'Blood Bowl' tag you'll find many about cheerleaders and other sideline miniatures. I'm a big fan of such minis. I think they can bring a team from whatever level of visual impressiveness they are at, to a couple notches higher. It shows extra style, care & love. I'm an aesthetic junky. Given the success of companies like Fantasy Flight Games with their highest production value board games, it's clear many others are as well. I would rather play with nice looking components than chits if it is possible. Afterall, you could play Blood Bowl with coins with numbers on them "these pennies are my goblins, the quarters are trolls, the dime is the chainsaw and nickle is my fanatic"... but that's the draw of miniatures games, the look of the game draws you further into the game. So when you have the chance for a nice looking cheerleader miniature, instead of just a mark on your team roster, I say take it!

Impact! Miniatures wanted me to paint their latest cheerleader, but asked for 2 versions of her, one as a goblinoid and one as a vampire. Looking at the sculpt I can see why: she's not only a great sculpt, she's very versatile. I can easily see her representing a number of races... she could be orc, goblin, hobgoblin, vampire, ghoul, dark elf, slanneshi chaos... I have plans to make a team for my Hobgoblin team roster, and so will undoubtedly paint one of these in a mustard skin tone for them.

As one of my friends said, "Looks like orcs are pretty lucky guys" ;)
So here she is:

Vampy Style

Goblinoid Girl

Friday, November 18, 2011

Blitz Action, or, 'How I let Nostalgia Drain My Wallet, Blood Bowl Style.

Yeah, I'm addicted to minis. No surprise there.  I didn't even start playing Blood Bowl until 3rd edition came out, but I did start in on Warhammer in... 89? So the old sculpts strike that 'golden era' chord in me, so when I saw several complete 2nd edition Blood Bowl teams on Ebay I just had to.  I didn't worry about buyers remorse because at least 9 months ago I was 'watching' an Ebay auction for a 2nd edition Orc team, and forgot at the last minute and missed out.  And every couple weeks since I remember that and look for them.  Sure, some of the sculpts are repetitive, and are not as dynamic as what I could make from kit bashing, but they do have charm.

So, no regrets: I bought.  I picked up an Orc team, Elf team and Skaven team! Plus a couple goblins and a Troll (O.K. and some extra orcs on the way from UK since the Orc team doesn't have as many blitzers and black orcs as I'd want).  Earlier this year I painted a 2nd ed. Skaven team for a client and really fell in love with those sculpts.  Not as dynamic as some others out there- I'm painting the Impact Ratman team next month and looking forward to those a lot- the latest 3 additions to it are really nice.. but nothing wrong with having both types of teams! I did say I'm addicted to minis right?

So here is what I got:
When will I find time to paint these? Only the gods know, but I'm looking forward to it.

When I first got into miniatures, a friend of mine, the one who inspired me to start painting, had an amazing orc army, so this orc style brings back great memories. The skaven I like better than the 3rd edition, and the elves will be fun: I like the Pro-Elf roster, so that's what I'll be aiming for with these.

These 2nd edition teams came from 1988.  Yes a real flashback.
So enjoy the music below, one of the songs on near constant play for me at that time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Maude Lebowski : the mini that abides

For any fan of The Big Lebowski, you might enjoy this.
Impact! Miniatures just released a Valkyrie cheerleader that comes with an extra set of arms to create someone who might remind you of Maude Lebowski from one strange trip down bowling lane.

If you don't like it, well that's just your prerogative man, and if you do like it, just remember not to treat your objects like women, man.

With standard arms for a Cheerleader or Bloodwiser babe:

Now enjoy the movie and see what condition your condition is in:
:Caution: brief moment of partial nudity, though appears to have been fine for YouTube.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Movies to Game By: Review of Outlander

Like many people, I'm a fan of movies.  I like a lot of different genres of movies, but I'm as biased as the next person so I have some big dislikes as well.  But unlike the general movie-going audience, I'm a gamer, and chances are if you're reading this, you're likely a gamer too.  I can appreciate a movie in many ways, and sometimes one of those ways is 'as a gamer'.  There are times I've seen a movie and thought 'I want to game this" or "that would make an awesome army to build".  So a new feature here will be reviews of movies that I have this reaction to: Movies to Game By.

In Movies to Game By, I'll give my review of a movie, both for it's appeal as a movie in general as well as it's inspiration value for gaming. I'll try to refrain from any spoilers.  Every review needs a review system, and rather than steal from the D6Generation's d6 system (which I was tempted to do) I'll instead steal from classic Dungeons & Dragons.  The armor class system was from unarmored AC10 down to Plate Mail AC2, and below for even better or magical armor. The higher the number, the less armor- and in the case of the movie reviews, the higher the number, the easier it is to have a 'hit' & less resistance to adapting it for gaming.

Or simpler: 10 very good.  0 very bad.

On to the Review:

Outlander, from 2008.

Late arrival to the US it seems, and released in Europe for several years.
Starring James Caviezel, John Hurt, Sophia Myles, and Ron Pearlman.

This movie scratches the itch of two of my favorite genres: Sci-fi & Historical-ish.
A soldier of an intergalactic conflict crashes in Norway of the early 8th century. But he's not alone: one of the big bad nasty aliens is lose as well.  There are a lot of interesting interactions between what is essentially 'man of the future' and Iron Age Vikings. Without any of his technological advantages, it brings about the 'great equalizer' that a person is just a person, and it's his cunning and creativity that is what will save him (and others) or not.

Some details are a bit historically off the mark, the main hall looked too big... but did look very cool, and a few times people fired arrows in an incorrect manner, but overall it had a pretty decent level of authentic feeling to it.  The Norse people were not presented as bloodthirsty barbarians, but as people in a dangerous world, who were accustomed to it, but also references were made to the far flung trade relations they had.  Unlike many 'Action histori-fantasy/sci-fi' movies, the world and culture of the people did not feel as 'thin & false' as is typical for these genres.

The action was good and tension was appropriately thick in the right places.  It had a good amount of character insight moments and humorous moments so characters didn't feel completely two dimensional.  And there wasn't nearly the amount of "unfathomably stupid" actions so typical to action & horror movies.
The photography is beautiful.  There are some really nice scenes in the wilderness, that if it wasn't for the hulking hunting alien, it'd be nice to spend some time there.

This movie is high in the gaming factors.  It'd be very easy to adapt the ideas to the gaming table.  Skirmish games like SAGA, Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, Songs of Blades & Heroes, and others could easily be used, just add your favorite large alien beast. Really, the sci-fi elements are very low here.  It's an interesting background for the movie, but doesn't have a lot of effect on the gaming table: you're not going to equip your vikings with ray guns for example.  But if you watch the movie you can see how you might give some better weapons to some characters in some scenarios or in a designated turn.  In an RPG game it could be a great challenge to a fantasy setting world to have an alien creature that is not susceptible to the standard weapons and tricks the party is accustomed to. It could also be interesting to have a 'future world' human, stranded on their world as one of the Player Characters.

I give this movie an Armor Class of 8 (out of 10) for both enjoy-ability and for inspiration for the table top.
An easy hit and not much resistance to making for good gaming material. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gator with an Axe: Painting Bloody Barnabas

No surprise to those who know me, I love to paint swampy things, especially gators & the like.
The Gators of the Hordes Minions have always tempted me, and though I really like trolls, I could see myself painting a whole Gator force someday.  So having the chance to paint up the warlock Bloody Barnabas was a treat.

I went for a similar look to the Privateer Press studio version, with a few minor changes.
A swamp water base was a must.

Here he is:

Swamp water bases never photo very well: very reflective & always look darker than they do to the eye. 

Viking Berzerkers: Conversions for SAGA

Continuing on with the very slow progress on SAGA, squeezing in 15 minutes here & there, and another unit is assembled.  The Viking list's elite, the Hearthguard can have a unit be Berzerkers instead of standard Hearthguard.  They die easier, but they kill easier too.  The vikings I'm going 'on the cheap', so I stuck to kitbashing from the Wargames Factory boxes I have.  The weapons & heads are from the vikings, but the bodies (except for one) are from the celt box.  One warrior is armored, but he doesn't have a shield, and swinging that axe in a two-handed chop over his head looked pretty berzerking to me, and I wanted the overhead Dane Axe for variety sake.

Here they are:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Putting the 'Fantasy' in Fantasy Football: Amazon Theme Conversions for Blood Bowl

Latest team finished for a client, is an Amazon team roster using the 'Sinister Elves' from Shadowforge.
Shadowforge exclusively make female miniatures and I've seen and played against, Amazon teams made from them, both the 'Bunny' team and the 'Nuns'.  The client wanted to use the dark elf team, but remove any sign that they were elves, since Amazons are humans.  So big pointy ears were removed and tucked back inside their helmets, or clipped, shaved and rounded back to a standard human looking ear for the ones without helmets.

For theme he wanted 'sexy' with an idea that each position type could be a different color and different fantasy/fetish.  The Blitzers look pretty tough, and have a full mask, so 'Dominatrix' was an obvious choice, with all black leather.  I wanted to sculpt gas masks over the mask, but he preferred them as they are, so not a problem.  Here's how they turned out:
He also wanted a variety of skin tones, which you can see here- I didn't use the African tone on these, needing more contrast with the solid dark uniform. In the team I've gone for northern-caucasian, asian, mediterranean, latin-american and african. 

Next are linewomen.  I had thought maybe converting them all to have little skirts and do them as French Maids or Catholic School Girl style, but the minis don't really lend themselves to either style or skirts, so we decided on a basic 'sexy red' since that seems to be one of the most popular lingerie colors... 
All of the ears are removed and are safely inside their helmets now, away from gnashing orc teeth! 
I also removed the little skulls from the uniform. They worked with the Blitzer's dominatrix theme, but not for these 'Fredrick's of Hollywood' style girls. 

What about Catcher's? The models had big hair and a pointy headband.  So I added another layer to the headband to create something that looks like the silly bobby-pinned on Nurse hat.  This would allow me to make them 'sexy nurses' and have a striking contrasting uniform color: white. It's a Halloween costume favorite, but personally I've never understood that particular fantasy.  I spent 2 months in the hospital bolted to a bed in traction, and found the whole experience anything but sexy. But hey, there's something for everyone!

Lastly the throwers.  They're the 'stars' of a team, and the most given to showing off, so I wanted something bold with a lot of 'look at me' personality.  So I thought of Leopard-print. here's the result:
I'm really happy with these.  I'd like to do a team for counts as Amazons/ Wood Elf combo, all in leopard print. 

And here's the team shot, which is now in the Hall of Fame Gallery

(Can click to see it bigger)

I'm often undecided if I like different color uniforms for different positions.  It's become pretty common for Slann teams, and it's a good way to easily tell the positions apart, but sometimes I worry it breaks a 'team' look. But I'm siding with 'like it' this time.  I'm happy with the different looks as part of a unified theme, and with a team like Amazons, where the different positions can be very hard to identify, this type of system is going to make gaming with them much easier. 
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