dispatches from terra incognita

Author: Scott Larson Page 1 of 12

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…

 

 

Spring Update: “Bits & Pieces of Everything”

While things do progress apace on the painting front, I have been a thoroughly lax chronicler of my activity… In addition, I’ve been recalled to the classroom for in-person kindergarten. I have to be grateful — my family remained healthy, employed, and educated. But, alas, my glorious anno hobbyoso has come an abrupt end.

For the past year, I managed to squeeze in an hour — and often twice that — of hobby time daily. I completed a number of “sets” of miniatures, along with odd bits of terrain. I began a Hirst Arts “ruined church” inspired by this one and resumed 3D printing — until the heat bed on my Monoprice Mini finally succumbed to a well-documented design flaw. I even built a battleship, based upon Bob Cordery’s directions.

I picked up the History of Wargaming Project reprint of Joseph Morschauser’s How to Play War Games in Miniature. I love his clear and engaging writing style, but was stung a bit by the lines:

It is up to you to decide which type and scale you prefer. Consider carefully all the advantages and disadvantages of each. Then, when you make your decision and start building up your collection, stick to your choice until you have two complete war game armies. If you start making changes mid-point in your program, you will end up with bits and pieces of everything, and nothing complete.

It is quite possible and perhaps desirable to own a number of different sets of armies, each of a different type, scale, and historical period. Many war gamers do. But collect them one at a time. Mid-point change is costly and wasteful.

Joseph Morschauser’s How to Play War Games in Miniature, p. 21.

The above heterogeneous mess represents a significant portion of my hobby labor over the past year. Some intention and persistence is evident; but also, alas, too much caprice.

The excellent Graham’s Wargames blog is entirely responsible for this flight of fancy. His “canal city” setup was just too, too tempting. The buildings are from TT Combat (I have some modern buildings of theirs) which is acquired through eBay. I’m planning a moire extensive “MDF Roundup” to review my purchases from various companies.

Here’s my Bob Cordery battleship, before painting. He built his by laminating many, many pieces of basswood. I took the measurements and attempted to cobble it together from scraps in the workshop. I’m going to make one or two adjustments on this one, and have another go to see if I can do it better.

The painted miniatures range from some 54s, a lot of 28s (mainly Reaper Bones, Super Dungeon Explore, and Zombicide), to the 1:700-ish ships from the Armada Starter Set. I did my Orc sails in dark blue rather than red (to make them look more raggedy) but I believe it was a poor decision.

I’ll put together a more thorough tour of this stuff in the near future.

Hobby Giving II

The long-awaited parcel from Hasslefree (last mentioned here) arrived, all ordered figures present. On a whim, I checked again on the site an, lo and behold, Daphne and Velma were back in stock. So, I expeditiously ordered them, along with another go ’round of the whole Mystery, Inc. team (standard and post-apoc) so that I could paint them up for myself. They arrived in reasonable time, so it had been the holiday mail holding up things in December. The figures are a joy to paint — I’m hewing as close to the iconic livery as possible.

And so, my younger son’s gift was complete — just a few months after Christmas.

I also finished my elder son’s girlfriend’s gift — the duo from Supernatural:

I wanted them to have a monstrous foe; a little research turned up a “scarecrow” as a serviceable villain. They don’t look like that in the show, but this chap was one of my countless Reaper Bones, now gone on to a better home. (The next edition of Bones — is it 5 now? — was promised for this month, but likely won’t make it until May. Which, of course, is just as well, as I have to many yet to paint from the first four … )

A Year About the Place

My absolute favorite place upon this Earth is my home. An unanticipated bright side to this year was that I got to spend a lot more time there. My wife and I made an extra effort to document the year along the way.

This post will concern some of my other hobbies — gardening, carpentry, sky-gazing …


January

Nandina bushes and a patio bench on the 1st day of 2020.
Front of the house, 1/1/2020.

February

New “prep” table. All eggs laid by our industrious hens.
Unusual February snow in North Carolina.
The new “solarium” I was in the process of finishing. Began life as a simple deck, then a larger screened porch. Now glassed and heated/cooled.

March

Cherry tree blossoms.
Front corner of the lot. I have been an unlucky beekeeper. The hives are empty.
Tulips.
Signs for the garden, fashioned by my younger son & niece.

April

Dogwood blossoms.
Sunset
Called “the Wonderland,” Hobby Shack in the background.
My wife’s birthday feast.
Peonies.
Working to enclose the garden vs. varmints.

May

Sustenance in order to persevere.
The garden, complete.
Most prolific garden we have had in 20 years.

June

One of the aforementioned varmints, helping herself to my chickens’ feed.
The “solarium,” largely complete.

July

Marital collaboration: birdhouse and post by me, sign painted by my wife.
Summer flowers, and basil in the background. The counter is cherry, made by me.
Luminaries on our street, in honor of a beloved neighbor who died.
Bounty from the garden.

August

Zinnias.
The “cutting garden,” source for the zinnias.

September

I believe these marigolds made a previous appearance on this blog.
The okra plants gave all summer.

October

Bought from an artist, years ago. A favorite.
Lightly haunted.
Swamp sunflowers. A favorite — I am surprised every year when these open.
Sunrise.

November

Red maple in its glory.
Morning in the kitchen.
Front porch on Veterans’ Day.

December

Reminiscent of Owl’s living room in the Arnold Lobel children’s book, Owl at Home.
The room was built to hold this tree.

Thanks for sharing this journey!

I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn. The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Henry thoreau, Walden, 1854

Packing Away the Year

This one has been a mess for so many. I feel fortunate to have remained healthy, employed, and amongst family. I hope the new year brings better things to everyone.

Here is a good bit of my painting progress of late:

The Cthulhu Collection, Reaper Bones all.
A lovely suite of torturing stuff; also from Reaper.
Weird-lookin’ columns; Reaper.
Scatter terrain from Super Dungeon Explore.
This stuff sat primed for a LONG time!
Super Dungeon Explore kobolds and kobold-ogres.
I hate “mimic” monsters, but they make sense for SDE I guess.
I tried to go full “silly” by painting the handles to look like eyes.
Here’s the whole gang. People online describe them as “fun” to paint. I found this not to be so.
Another pair of poker players, from Monday Knight Productions, maybe? I shared the rest of the quartet awhile back.
Reaper Bones fantasy. Not bothered to straighten weapons, and ok with that …
Zombicide figures. These were kinda fun to paint.

Hobby Giving

Heretofore, hobbying has been a personal pursuit for me. The vast majority of my time is consumed by painting miniatures, building terrain, and questing for the perfect organizational system for same. Occasionally I get in a game.

This year, my heart apparently expanded like the Grinch’s, and I was possessed to offer some of my work as gifts. Someone’s post on The Miniatures Page (I believe it was) alerted me to the existence of minis representing the cast of a favorite TV program from my youth.

While painting them, musing that they would likely be for display only as I wouldn’t have much of a gaming use for them, I was thunderstruck. My elder son is also a M*A*S*H* fan, and might enjoy the novelty of possessing these as his first miniatures.

A bit of spray-paint and a sadly-rendered door, and I had a suitable “Swamp.” Owing to the fact that I already possessed all the pieces for this gift, it was completed by the Big Day.

Inquiries uncovered that my son’s girlfriend is a fan of a show with which I am, alas, unfamiliar.

Dashing to the web for research and commerce, I was able to locate their iconic vehicle in two scales (1:64 and 1:43). To my surprise, Hasslefree do passably recognizable versions of the stars as well. Ordered in November, they remain, purportedly, winging their way across the seas.

My younger son has invariably drawn sustenance from Scooby-Doo. As recently as last month, when he spent both Thanksgiving and his 20th birthday isolating with a (thankfully) mild case of COVID-19, he could be found curled up in bed watching the original TV show.

A simple visit to Wal-Mart provided appropriate “wheels,” and as fate had it, Hasslefree also do appropriate miniatures, in both “stock” and “post-apocalyptic” poses.

Once the package arrives, I’m not entirely sure what will be inside. Several characters were marked “out of stock” and others as “pre-orders.” They did take my money for what I attempted to order, so we shall see. This gift may have to continue on to next Christmas …

Wisdom of the Ages (WotA)

This purposely portentous category will be a catch-all for the occasional gleanings of guidance I run across on the web. I’ll begin with two nuggets of wisdom that have guided me for years, and one that may guide me in the future.

The first comes from a foundational text of my wargaming: viz: David Helber’s Major General Tremorden Rederring’s Colonial-era Wargames Page. Mr. Helber formed and continues to shape my aesthetic sense of how a properly laid-out wargames table should appear.

In miniature gaming, structures should be as small as they can be without looking ridiculous.

David Helber, Building Construction for Colonial Wargaming, Major General Tremorden Rederring’s Colonial-era Wargames Page
Template belongs to David Helber.

The Major General’s site is a treasure trove of inspiration and counsel. I have printed out most of the pages, gathering them in a binder for perusal. I’ve read that some gamers use buildings of one scale smaller than their figures. That makes sense, but to my eyes, seems too board-gamey. If you look at David’s structures, they look appropriate next to the troops, but you can fit more of them on your table. And, they’re easier to store. I’ve loved the mdf stuff I purchased from TT combat, but, good golly, those are immense.


The site that likely persuaded me to begin collecting 15mm (really 18mm) figures, lo those many years ago, was Bryan Brooks’ DyeHard’s Victorian & Edwardian Science Fiction page. In addition to his Helber-like tutorials and guidance, Brooks freed me from the shackles of “dead matte” miniatures. No matter the make of spray varnish I used — including the venerable Dullcote — my figures always retained a bit of a shine.

Bryan used the stain method of dipping, rather than my Chick Lewis Future Wash, but the final appearance is similar.

I was very skeptical about this dipping method at first, but now I love the effect. I have even grown to love the candy coat shine over time. I use to be a dead flat paint kind a guy, and one could go back a spray on a layer of Dull-Coat to reduce the gloss effect. After mounting the figures on bases and adding some grass flock, I do give them a quick spray to cut the shine just a little. Beyond the shading effect, the dip also will provide a very strong protective coat over your paint job.

Picture belongs to Bryan Brooks

Here you can see how the technique brings out the details like buttons and metals on a figure, while adding shading to folds in the uniform. Also, despite the focus, you can see the contrast of the dead matte paint of [the] side of the landship and the gloss of the figure. To my eyes, it makes the figure look more animated. [Emphasis added]

Bryan ” Dyehard” Brooks, The Dip Method of Shading, 15mm VSF

And I just have to agree with Mr. Brooks. The slight glow evinces each miniature’s élan vital — the spark of life.


Today’s final bit of philosophy was shared recently by a miniature painter whose work I admire: Chris Palmer of All Bones About It. Chris has been intrepid in his endeavor to paint all the figures in the Reaper Bones I Kickstarter, and subsequent editions as well. He’s been unfailingly generous in sharing details of his process, decisions, and techniques. I only began painting eyes following his tutorial.

Lately he mused after completing some unsatisfying gnomes:

Well, there they are.  They turned out okay, but my heart wasn’t in them.  I have decided life’s too short for me to paint stuff I really don’t like, so the remainder of the set, is going in my sale/trade box. 

Chris Palmer, All Bones About It, Monday, September 21, 2020

This one remains more of an aspiration than a practice for me. I have 1 gazillion unpainted metal and plastic miniatures, including most of ALL OF THE Bones kickstarters … [sigh]. I’ve painted more than ever while working from home during the pandemic. Some miniatures I like, some I grow to like while painting them. Some I don’t like at all, but I soldier through … The lesson of my Warhammer boxed set keeps me from giving them all away, though — it took me 15+ years to realize I did like those figures. And, it doesn’t cost me anything to store them.

Thrifting in NC

Here are the fruits of several recent sojourns to new thrift / antique / junque stores in my corner of North Carolina. The first find was a pair of pairs of Native American Indians. 54mm, metal, old-lookin’, but with no indication of manufacture on the base.

A different store had a bit of a trove, but the fellow wanted too much for them I was forced to be discerning. This chap is a Britains, complete with the swingy arm. I have yet to research who he might be — I don’t recognize the uniform, alas.

By their headgear, I’m assuming these are WWI infantry. They are marked “ENGLAND” in raised letters on the bottom. The kneeling soldier with field glasses has it tattooed upon his leg, as did my kneeling Highlander.

The next two are clearly marked Britains. Both suffer from broken rifle barrels — I haven’t decided on how to best repair the damage.

I wouldn’t usually go for 15s, as I have so many unpainted, but these fellows looked so lonely, jumbled in an old take-out food container (which I’ve already thrown out).

They proved to be a fascinating collection:

I wonder if some of them were home casts, as there were globs of metal and tags with letter markings. The biggest bit of metal was mysteriously marked E WINDS. Then there were gun carriages and limbers, and what I assume are 6mm tanks and trucks.

Then there were some Roman types:

And the majority were Napoleonics:

I figured if I ever wanted to do big battles in Ascaria, this would be an economical start. Tossed in amongst the 15mm mess was this 54mm knight:

He very nearly got binned because I assumed by his gaudy appearance that he hailed from a Safari Toob or some such. Astonishingly to me, he is a Britains figure, though made in China. I later ran across a blog post of someone staging a whole battle with these knights.

All in all, I have been moderately pleased with the “finds” I’ve made. Of course, most of the enjoyment comes from the hunt itself.

Autumnal Splendour

Though working from home, I’m still working — and thus my poor hobby blog has suffered. One consequence of spending so much time à la maison is that the flora about the place has been pampered. Featured above are marigolds, zinnias, and lantana, showing out for fall.

Dipping in and out of various genres, time periods, and scales, I soldier on with painting. Here are a bunch of Foundry Old West figures, along with a couple of Reaper Bones who tower over them. These are some of the first miniatures I bought, based and primed for a score of years.

Next up are some poorly lit Armies in Plastic Woodland Indians. Inexplicably, I’m having a hard time finding suitable inspirational images online as models for the costume. Hence, I’m somewhat makin’ it up as I go.

Below are a quintet of winsome fantasy lasses, all Reaper Bones. I am storing the majority of the first four offerings from Reaper still unpainted, with the fifth offering arriving early next year. Enough to keep me painting for the balance of my days …

Next are plastic miniatures from the Zombicide boardgame. They are pleasingly characterful and paint up nicely. Once I get enough of them completed, I might even be able to try a zombie game.

These fellows came as an infrequent but pleasing surprise — a major miniature purchase that I did not recollect! I knew that I had some Foundry Darkest African native figures, but as I sorted through the blister packs, it became apparent that at some point, I had purchased the entire “Warchiefs & Witch Doctors” collection. I would have come into these soon after the Old West figures, nearly 20 years back. I am occasionally an impulsive purchaser, but I usually recall the caprice.

High Chief and Retinue: Marungu, Moobarik Bombay, and a chap in a “hideous mask”

Squigs. One of the many aspects of Warhammer goblinity that so tickle me. I bought a box of squigs a year ago, and have finally got ’round to painting them. Here are the herders. We’ll see the “beasts” themselves in the next update.

We’ll close with one of the rare metal Reaper miniatures I’ve acquired. I was reading through my Metamorphosis Alpha, 4/e RPG for the first time, really, since I bought it in 2006, and thinking putting together a game where characters awaken on a “colony ship” where things have gone mysteriously, and utterly, wrong. I would incorporate bits of Metamorphosis Alpha, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Planet of the Apes, Space Hulk, Mutants and Death Ray Guns, Traveller, and perhaps the kitchen sink.

50331 Rand Daingerfield, Space smuggler, apparently

Page 1 of 12

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén