Wednesday, December 14, 2005 

Featured "d00d" of the indeterminate Time Period - Ironbar and Road Warriors

Gosh! I almost forgot to feature a d00d! It seems like it should be a Wednesday thing - except now that I said it would be a Wednesday thing, I'm totally going to forget about it for 3 weeks. :)

Today I want to feature IronBar and some road warriors. I started working on a bunch of post-apocalyptic warriors after my local GW store held "Rhino Races". What the races involved is for players to bring in 1 rhino and 5 warriors. The warriors were to fight and race their way across the table to their rhino and then back to the starting table edge. I wanted to do something fun and road-warriory, so I came up with some "Lost and Damned" troops. I had less than 5 days to do all the conversions and paint everything up so it had to be done quickly - on top of this I was working on my Deathwatch Rhino and Deathwatch Marines so my sweetie could play also. Definitely a nerve wracking week. How'd I do? Turn 1 a band of Khornite berserker cut through my entire crew like they were wet tissue paper :) Jenna faired a little better with the Death Watch, at least she scored some kills. :)

So first up was the Rhino. I ended up buying a "damaged" rhino boxed set (they were getting rid of it because it was the old model rhino) - so I took some bits from my bits box and made a pulpit using the unused hatches from a predator kit. I also added some spikey bits to give it a suitable chaos feel. I then cut two chunks off a sprue to make the posts on which I tied two victims made from a mix of zombie and catachan bits. Here is a picture of it, you can click it for the full sized image. :) It's a pretty straight forward paintjob. I wish I had figured out how to do rust like I do it now, because I could have really made the dozer blade look great and the weathering better - but it's not too bad for a hasty construction. It definitely is a fun conversion. :)

The warriors were a blast to do as well. Lord Humungus (yes, that is how it is spelled - it's not one of my typical typos) is made from a Mordheim pit fighter body and gorka-morka ork arms. If I had more time I would have used greenstuff to make the shoulders a bit more smooth. I made the hockey mask out of greenstuff as well. I have no skillz with the greenstuff. Wez is a straight up Necromunda Goliath gang member. The dude with the axe and the autogun is a Necromunda pit-fighter.

The guy with the 'hawk and crossbow is a ratskin juve. I "shaved" his head with a dremmel and made shoulder pads and a mohawk from greenstuff. These game out a little bit better :) Their bases are different because I have a display base for them called "White Line Nightmare" I had the audacity to take it to Games Day Toronto and enter it into the Golden Demon as an open category - simply because I thought it was a rather amusing set of figures and I wanted to show it off. :) Man! The competition was brilliant that year. The pictures in WD and the web *NEVER* do the figures justice - and I guess this year the competition was particularly stuff because the year prior there was a huge blackout the day of GD and the competition wasn't as hot. Whew! Those guys and gals can paint :)

And lastly is IronBar - the guy who just won't die in Beyond Thunderdome - and the model I'm proudest of. He started life as a Ratskin juve as well and had his head shave - tricky to get it all smooth. I also smoothed the end of his blunderbuss. The mask is just a blot of greenstuff in an oval shape (cause I can't sculpt faces) - and the hair is made from strands of greenstuff to look like dreads. I submitted him to Harbinger magazine - and he actually appeared in an issue - either 10 or 11, I forget which. Like an idiot I sent the picture as 72 dpi rather than the 300 dpi for print. Lesson for you all - if it's for print, make *sure* it's 300 DPI. Anyways, I had no idea it was going to be printed - so I came home from work after having a miserable day and found the new Harbinger magazine. I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw my figure in the reader gallery - it was a total pick me up!

I think I'd like to do the project over again now that I can do it with no time constraints - so see what I can do differently and better. I'm sure I can paint the figures better - but perhaps the conversions might not be as carefree and as fun as they would be in the heat of the rush to get things done.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 

Trigger men, trouble boys and twists - Pulp Adventures

I was fortunate enough to play .45 Adventure for the first time at Historicon this year and I must say that I am hooked!

Probably the best thing about this game is its simplicity and open-endedness. I really appreciate a game that I can pick up by the second turn - to me that is a sign of good, easy mechanics that makes for an enjoyable evening of beer and pretzel gaming. You can check out a .pdf copy of the rules yourself, which give a great overview of the system. You'll want to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed if you don't already. The open-endedness of the game comes from the fact that the character arch-types are generic enough that you can pretty much use them for any modern period from late Victorian to modern day and near-future. They work best with the 1930's era pulp, but you really aren't limited - you can play an adventure of heroes from the 40's foiling the plans of a maniacal genius, and then again in modern day as that genius's son looks to exact revenge for his father's downfall.

Characters come in 3 levels, Grade 1-3, and this is how the "points" values are worked out. A grade 3 character, which is a main character like The Shadow, is roughly worth 3 Grade 1 characters which would represent street cops or petty thugs. Characters have 9 stats that they need to worry about. Shivs - or how they do in h2h, Heaters - or how well they shoot, Dodge - pretty self explanatory, Brawn - or how strong they are, Speed - how quick they are, Brains - how bring and intuitive they are, Guts - their morale and lastly their defensive rating and their weapon strength. Since all dice rolls are opposed d10 rolls, actions and resolutions are a snap to figure out.
For example, when shooting at someone the attacker takes their heater score, any modifiers that might apply such as range and then adds that to what they roll on a d10. The Defender add his dodge skill with any modifiers he might have, such as cover and add the roll of a d10. If the attacker wins, the model is hit. If the defender wins - then the attacker missed. A tie, and the defender is possibly shaken by such a close call. Characters have a hit location and wound level table that has modifiers on it. This might sound somewhat complicated, but it's not. Basically when a guy gets hit, you figure out where he was hit and how much damage he takes. Then you simply cross a box out on his stat chart and look at what the modifiers for the next turn will be. Getting hit in the arms means your brawn and shiv skills are going to take a hit. It's hard to slug it out with a limp arm.

The other really nice thing about the game is the ability to either play a quick one off scenario - like one of the two that come with the rulebook in which The Gargoyle and his sidekick break up a mob meeting and need to grab two ledgers to put the boss behind bars - or you can play a series of interconnected scenarios that might take the adventurers from the gritty streets of a bustling metropolis where they are fighting off gangsters to the steaming jungles of South America where they are evading natives in a quest to find an artifact. Since the game mechanics are so simple and streamlined and the game isn't played with hoards of miniature, adventures become really character driven and it become very difficult to not slip into the role of the characters you are playing. In this picture here, you can see a familiar blog writer in a Hawaiian shirt - who spend the entire later portion of the adventure he was playing blasting away at gangsters in the jungle as a matter of a blood debt. "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." Honestly, it was probably one of the most fun games I have ever played. I'm currently painting up some gangsters and cops so I can start playing .45 Adventure at the shop near me - since I know many of the guys I game with would really enjoy it. I'm really hard pressed to find something to counter all the glowing praise I have for the game - except that it doesn't work very will with loads of minis on the table. Want to have an all out gang war with two families going at it, with 25 gat men on a side - well then .45 Adventures probably isn't for you. It also has some basic allowances for vehicles, so drive-bys and running car battles are possible - but not the core of the game. There are enough basic arch types to keep almost everyone happy, and new profiles are always being created. There is also an active Yahoo Group called "Hot Lead and Steel Sinews" where there is quite a bit of discussion and support on the game. Just recently I asked a question about using zombies and had a response back, complete with character stats for the undead within an hour.

You should definately hop on over to the .45 Adventures website and check the game out further. While you are there, you should take a look at the Gargoyle strip by Rich Johnson and Christopher Weeks. Here is a little taste:

The Good: Easy to learn, leaves lots of options for different adventure styles and eras, great support. Players can't help but to get sucked into their adventurer's role.
The Bad: Not a good game for large scale actions
The Ugly: Poor Timmy the news boy after failing his brains check and accidentally setting off a package bomb, tearing off his arms.

Cool Pulp Links:
Pulp Miniatures links

Monday, December 12, 2005 


Let me just start by saying right away that I have fallen in love with the 15mm landsknechts from Venexia Miniatures . For 15mm figures, these are beautiful - they have detail on them that puts a great many 28mm figures to shame.

I'm thinking about recreating my empire army in 15mm - although to be honest, I might simply do them in a different color scheme to make them that much more exciting. Since the guys often play in 15mm - I think they'd definately get used - and I'm having a blast painting my WFB Empire army (I'll have pictures of units as soon as I fully complete units - it takes me a while to get 25 swordsmen done). Speaking of colors, it took me forever to decide on a color scheme for my empire army - and I eventually decided on black, bone and red (big surprise for anyone who knows me - I paint everything these colors it seems). This brings me to a nifty point. I'm really fond of many of GW's models because they take something from history and add their own little dark "gothic" twist to it, or mix verious flavors to create something new and exciting. The Empire for example are an italian renaissance army complete with mercenaries. Much of the Imperial Guard for 40k is borrowed heavily from WWI and some from WWII. Space marines are a great mix of the Roman Legions with a healthy dash of catholicism and arthurian legend.

Anyway, back on topic... As far as mounted models go, I'm not entirely sure what to call these lads - but I really like these knights with the barding. I guess they are called "gendarmes" which comes from the french "Gens D'armes" or roughly translated "men-at-arms" - but I'm not sure of their nationality. In a nutshell, I want d00dz that look just like the d00d to the right here. -->

Venexia has venetian, french, imperial and spanish gendarmes. I don't know which is which right now, so I'll have to do some investigating. If anyone has any idea, let me know! Looking at Old Glory's website, it appears as if this lad might be french. As an aside - here is a great link of Holy Roman Empire flags of the Italian Wars from, which is simply a *brilliant* resource for any wargamer.

Does anyone know what happened to GameZone Miniatures from Spain, btw?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 

Spyglass miniatures calling it quits?

Posted from Heresey Miniature's forum:

"The house that Shae built huh?

Well, there are times in life where you come to a crossroads. In many ways for me, at the moment, I am at such a place. All kinds of considerations to be taken into account and...hard decisions to be made.

A few months back I finally got back to releasing stuff for Spyglass. You may remember various comments along the lines of 'vote with your wallets', with regards to zO. Well, you did, and the public in general did too. It's been cool that you guys rabidly asking for zO have mostly backed it up with some sales coming my way. Alas, the public at large did not. Not so much a case of slightly slumped sales as rather tragic.

Eventually you reach the point where you have to do the sums and paperwork that you've put off...

Spyglass is not making the money it needs to. I'm not talking big picture here. I know I've been away dealing with other things. It'd be unlikely that I'd return and be making money hand over fist (planning luxury holidays and so on..) without a build first. But unfortunately my profits don't cover my living costs. Frankly they wont cover my costs if I leave the rent out of the equation. Or if I don't count the rates too.

A few weeks back I had decided to stop Spyglass Miniatures entirely and just do something else. I've since changed my plans a little but it's not exactly great news. Just a little less drastic.

Basicaly Spyglass will be scaled back on two counts.

1. New releases. I can't justify the time it takes to produce new sculpts for Spyglass. Not as a rule. There's the possibility of the odd new release in the future if I get the urge to sculpt something that fits the ranges but otherwise I shall be stopping. Best chances for new figs will be zO. Mainly because I like the idea and, chances are, I'll have the urge to sculpt something now and then. But, for the moment, it's time to think about my financial future.

2. Sales. I will be stopping direct sales soon and Spyglass will only be available through a few trade accounts. I'll have a list of retailers sorted soon. I'll be wiping out the the Spyglass website and replacing it with a list of retailers page.

So, somewhat the end of an era for me. I would really like to thank everyone for supporting me over the years. Especially Andy, who has let me pimp my wares through this forum.

It's been a fun ride, but I have to take the route that will make the future brighter for me. Spyglass is not that route.

As for the future, there are a few irons in the fire as we speak. And I've not been put off the idea of running my own minis company. But I think I'd do it differenty with hindsight. Easy enough to say but then the minis industry has changed a whole lot in the last few years.

Cheers one and all.

Steve B


The Great War

I've had an urge for some time to get and paint up some WWI figures. I did actually purchase some WWI Americans from Old Glory, but I'm not horribly thrilled with them - largely because they are just so... brown.

I've had my eye on some of the Renegade french troops , and think they'd be fun to paint with the red and blue. A large part of why I chose a certain line of figures has to do with how fun I think they would be to paint up - since I'd have to paint quite a few of them. Selecting a warhammer fantasy army took some time before I settled on an Empire army - and even then, my color choices when through a few changes before I settled on black, bone and red. (Yes, everything I paint tends to be black, white and red)

I also really like the early war germans because of the colors and the pickelhaube :) - well, and the late war germans as well - but sometimes I get the urge to do something different. With 10mm WWII I chose to paint up germans because I really like the tanks, and it gives me a few options for different color choices. Some of my tanks have an early war grey color scheme, others have the desert yellow, or 3 color camo. Oddly, I now want to do american tanks because I'm fond of the idea of painting everything OD and adding decals.

The late war germans I could slip into WWII skirmish games without too many people noticing, and they'd also be great for pulp games - however the renegade miniatures tend to run a bit on the tall side, and would probably look silly on the table with the others. I'm still really torn - but I think I am leaning towards early war germans and french. And don't even get me started on the English Civil War!

So anyone who plays - any suggestions?