Circa Games

dispatches from terra incognita

Oz, Two Ways

When my lads were young, my wife read them all of L. Frank Baum’s original Oz stories. For many years, though fadingly now, Oz enjoyed a mythical status in the family.

A particular favorite character of mine was Tik-Tok, absolutely due to his steam-punky vibe. Awhile back, Old Glory Miniatures and Chris Abbey from Sally 4th ran a Kickstarter for a new line of miniatures, loosely-based on Oz lore. I got swept up a bit; through my own willful myopia, I mistakenly believed that Colonel Tik-Tok’s Infantry Regiment  was to be led by my old friend. Alas, that colonel is just a run-of-the-mill Munchkin. At any rate, I now have a bunch of Oz-inspired, Napoleonic/steampunk minis, including their take on Dorothy and her crew.

We have here Zoraster the Wizard and the five Adventurers of Ozz — lion, scarecrow, tin woodsman, Dorothy, and Toto. They are all completely whackadoodle, but interesting, I suppose.

Next up are (apparently) four of Admiral Jinjur’s Female Pirates. They are sold on the website in a pack of 20 — I shall have to look back in the box to see if I have 16 more.


For another take on Oz, still, sadly, sans Tik-Tok, we got to my hoard of Reaper Bones. These were characterized as “Steampunk” versions of the Oz crew.

Dorothy with a gun is pretty cool, I guess; the scarecrow looks mean. I thunk someone somewhere converted the “lion” into Hellboy. Anyhoo, I can add all of them to the “Completed” column. In a 2 second search, I did find an STL for a 3D print version Tik-Tok — maybe there is a miniature of him out there somewhere.

Catching Up: Super Dungeon Explore


Perhaps it was because people were posting examples of their lovingly-crafted 3D versions of the game boards …  I don’t otherwise know what would have possessed me to purchase Super Dungeon Explore back when it came out — Board Game Geek says it was 2011, so I probably got it the following year. I painted the dragon and a few of the “chibi” heroes, but then it sat and collected dust for a decade.

As part of my recent effort to finish things before yielding to the temptation to buy new, I, at long, last completed everything in the SDE starter set.

Catching Up: Junque Store Finds

These were some lovely “junque store” finds — some little wooden buildings, clearly hand made, possibly for wargaming, “dust collector” display shelves, or folk art? The first set was meant to be mine. I saw them at the serendipitously-named CIRCA in Charlottesville, VA, while visiting my son, in law school. I initially talked myself out of them, but decided later that day I had to have them. They were still there the next day, which basically never happens with stuff I want, so they were purchased.

Daybreak; a rustic village on the river.

The villagers congregate.


A quick nip, al fresco.

Competing debate societies.


Simple, desultory philippics.

Another day at the mill.

The next set were on clearance at a different junque shop, this time in North Carolina. The wood on these was more cleanly cut, and the windows and doors were “stamped” on with ink. They were perhaps a child’s toy? At any rate, the same sort of debating societies are prevalent.

Posing for a Daguerreotype.

These buildings may inspire me to begin collecting 15mm American Civil War miniatures.

Catching Up: Splintered Light

The minis up next have been nagging at my conscience for years. Many, many birthdays ago, my two boys pitched in together to get me several sets of Splintered Light miniatures anthropomorphic animals. I painted a few, and then they sat. And sat. And sat… What a bad dad they had, Dr. Seuss might put it.

At any rate, in my current push to “finish stuff,” I did just that. I had experienced a lot of silly hinderances through the years. I got out of painting smaller-scale figures (SLM now calls these 28mm, I think, but they are sized like 15mms). I couldn’t identify all the animals, and I was worried there would just be a lot of shades of brown. And, we are huge Wind in the Willows fans, so I wanted those guys to be right. Anyhoo, I’m a braver and more skilled painter now (turns out that when you do something every day for a long time, you get better at it…) so I pressed on to completion. Now I’m keen to get some more of them.

The “Good Guys.”

Wind in the Willows & Uncle Wiggly.


The “bad guys;” a preponderance of foxes.

Catching Up: 54mm Fantasy

These are recent acquisitions. Years back, someone online praised a set of 54mm fantasy miniatures available in a bucket from Toy R Us. By the time I got after them, they “unavailable” and then not too long after that Toys R Us itself went under. For some reason, it took years for my addled brain to consider looking on eBay for the bucket. Once I did, they were an easy catch. I likely paid too much, but there you go. These are all the figures, I believe — so I have several more of each of these. If I practice, I imagine I could kitbash them a bit to come up with some originals.

Originally from Toys R Us.

The leader in the next shot is from that original bucket. The skeletons came from a “Pirates vs. Skeletons” bucket (which I also think was from Toys R Us) but which I was able to purchase years ago. They were present when I built my Hobby Shack. They have Egyptian-looking headdresses, to I guess I could use them to make a 54mm Tomb Kings army.

The Hag Bride and here skeletal minions.

And finally, these fellows were originally a Halloween special from Dollar General (in the US). I bought them from eBay, quite certainly paying more than a dollar. I really like them, though, and wish I had gotten more. They remind me of the quaint silliness of older GW skeletons. I got the mummies too, but they are really silly. I don’t know why the one guy would have wings, and, alas, it was apparently too much for the sculptor to do wings and a rib cage, so he hasn’t one [!]

Catching Up: Empires

While immersed in my 15mm craze years ago, the Demonworld line of fantasy miniatures were customarily extolled. In researching them, I also discovered the Hobby Products campaign game Empires (a knockoff of GWs Mighty Empires). Anyway, I have yet to acquire any Demonworld miniatures, but I did get the Empires box set, from eBay, I think.

The box set comes with two “starter” miniatures, a human and orc capital city.

The included game board is heavy cardstock and there are card “counters” one could use for minis. At some point in my research on the game, and acquiring resources for campaign games, I downloaded pdfs of this and a few other Empires boards. They are somewhat modular, and thus can be combined.

As with Armada, and as will become a running theme, I haven’t played these rules either. The book is a dry read; perhaps the game would be fun. I am planning soon to begin collecting Demonworld minis before they get discontinued.

Catching Up: Armada

I’m endeavoring to share the fruits of the last few years’ labor. First up: Armada.

As I regret that I wasn’t sufficiently solvent nor interested when GW’s Man O’ War was au courant, I vowed not to miss the next one. I don’t know that Mantic’s Armada will ever be a replacement for MoW, but I did get the starter box for Christmas awhile back, and painted it soon thereafter. I opted for midnight blue sails for the orcs.

The whole starter set, with paper play mat and cardboard islands.

The Basilean fleet.

And, the Orcs.

There are more fleets available now, but I haven’t looked at them seriously. I haven’t even tried the rules yet.

At Long Last …

Whoops! There went a year.

I was busy painting but not posting for the entire duration of 2022. I do hope to motivate myself to share some of my progress in 2023.

I shall begin with a major accomplishment — Warhammer 7th edition Battle for Skull Pass. I got this one when it came out in 2006 or so. It sat in my closet for years, until I underwent a conversion in mid-2019 and began painting.

At long last, I have finished it all! Here is the back of the box, which has served as my painting guide for all these years:

And, here are my armies. Forgive the photos; the tabletop seems to have washed out all of the colors.

I somehow acquired one extra Night Goblin spearman and an unfortunate fellow who couldn’t dodge the cannonball. I don’t recall if they came with the set, or I got them from another source.

As the goblins are my favorite, I’ve augmented their forces through the years. Here’s an additional regiment of Stabbas:

some Fanatics:

Squigs and their herders

Forest Goblins of varying provenance

And orcs from the 6th Edition starter set I bought on eBay, in early 2020

I’ve been endeavoring to complete some of my innumerable projects — it does feel good to have the Skull Pass set finished.

Welcome, 2022

More time has passed than I would have wished. It seems I was more affected by my return to in-person teaching than I had anticipated. And, alas, my wife and I rang in this new year harboring an unwelcome omicronian infestation. We are both solidly on the mend and looking forward to better times in the New Year.

It seems my miniature collection has few two-faced denizens — please accept this Reaper ettin as a proxy Janus.

Despite my radio silence, I have been keeping up a steady pace of painting, 3D printing, and mdf construction (though I have been slower to finish painting my buildings). There remains little rhyme or reason to my regimen — one possible theme would be “try to paint a bunch of stuff that has been hanging around forever.”

To that end, I present a second dual-headed miniature, a blast from my past I have dubbed “Onward with Arne and Gax.”

I’ve had these chaps, unprimed and unloved, sitting in a box for 20 years. They were gifted to me during my brief stint as a voting member of GAMA (The Game Manufacturers Association), hoping to inveigle my vote for the Origins award, I believe. I’m still endeavoring to determine who made them. (Thus far, Googling and image searches have been for naught.) I’ve completed a couple of other minis from the same haul, along with three of my first-ever adulthood miniature purchases, all to be shared anon.

Anyhoo, my best wishes to one and all that 2022 will be a year of wonders.

Bones Day

Two Saturdays back (July 3) was “Bones Day” — I received my box of Bones miniatures from Reaper’s 5th Kickstarter. It took me almost a decade to learn, but I finally figured out how to work the Reaper Pledge manager. I opted not to get the Core Set (as I’ve done the previous four times), which has saddled me with a sizable collection of miniatures I don’t really want. This time I used my pledge to purchase various expansion sets and specific collections from the core set. Thus:





































The loose bags contain constructs, Halloween, kid heroes, and townsfolk. The dangerous (to my bank account) news from Reaper is that they have reopened the Pledge Manager for 90 days, so, I could in fact go back and order the Core Set after all…



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