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…
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 … )
There I was, minding my own business, browsing blogs (as one does) and in a moment, I was swept into a project I had no idea I needed to do.
About three weeks ago, Mark Min, the Man of Tin, in one of his glorious fits of genius, posted a work-in-progress creation of his called Spla-fiti. Using soft plastic skateboarder minis (about which more anon), one scoots about the city, endeavoring to leave the most “tags” on the buildings. Meanwhile, police can catch one and cleaning crews might remove one’s tags.
Mark asserts: “It is another exploration of my interest in non-lethal ‘war’ games,” which I wholly endorse. As a kindergartner teacher, there are few aspects of my hobbies that I can share with elementary school-aged students. This game would be one they might play in school (whenever we get to go back, that is … ).
First step was to acquire skaters. Ebay easily yielded the first set of AJs Toyboarders. As Mark noted, Series Two is a rarer animal. My initial Google forays yielded nought. The following day, however, I unearthed a possible lead. A shop called Jack’s Surfboards claimed to have them in stock. I ordered.
Did Jack email to say he had received my order (and payment) ? … He did not. Were there any further communications about shipping, etc. ? … There were not. I could have emailed or called them, I suppose, but the cost was low enough that patience seemed reasonable. Well, not overly-long afterwards, I was surprised by there presence of a parcel in my mailbox.
And, who should I find inside?
They were eager for exercise after the long flight from California.
I believe I recall police officers — and perhaps fire fighters — in my sons’ toy box upstairs. I’ll need to have a look. Which I have now done, and, alas, they are all over the place, scale-wise …
The next challenge presented by the project was proper terrain. I have a decent collection of modern buildings for 28s, but I have not yet constructed much for 54s, particularly because of the storage issue. My first thought, though, went to another wargaming sub-hobby which I have been neglecting: 3D printing.
I scaled-up some STL files that I have acquired and printed them out. At the 54mm size, the printing lines are much more noticeable. I think I left the printer on a “fast” setting which is fine for 28mm and smaller. As they are intended to be background props, I’m not letting it brother me.
An appealing aspect of working in the larger scale is that it’s easier to model details. That loo roll was a bit of dowel with paper glued on. I impressed perforations for the individual sheets, but I doubt they are perceptible.
I have some small milk crates that I have been meaning for some time to transform into office buildings. I’ll need to fashion a gridded playing surface. And then I may tinker a bit with the rules to add “distractions” personified by video games and snack machines.
An undisciplined approach to painting finds me swirling like an indiscriminate cyclone through the lead pile, whisking up whatever figure catches my eye. One hour of painting might involve a 54mm Napoleonic imagination figure, then to 28mm Darkest Africa, and finally landing in 6mm post-apocalyptic. As such, none of my myriad projects ever creep that much closer to completion. Well, owing no doubt to it being petite, I can finally say I have finished something!
Back in the days of 2017, I backed a little Kickstarter for a new miniatures game called Street Wars NYC by Funky Skull Games. I was lured in, I think, mostly by the terrain set-ups they created for advertising (using commercially available buildings, I believe).
For £60, I got the rules in paperback and two eight-member gangs in 28mm, and one free figure. I seem to recall they delivered more or less on time in 2018. And the newly-cast fellows promptly joined the long line of figures awaiting paint.
One sticking point was that they had that “tang” on the bottom for slot-bases, which I don’t do. I excruciatingly-excised those last year and epoxied the gents to washers. Towards the front of the line, but still in line.
Motivated by the fact that I really could finish something, they left to the painting desk. I did the motley bunch called the Devil’s Outcasts first, more or less following the colors feature in the rulebook. The trickiest bit for me was the biker fellow with pickelhaube, on whose vest I applied a decal of a Hell’s Angels logo. I won’t show you as it didn’t turn out that well…
Looking more closely at the Kickstarter page, I see the colors for these chaps were intended to be blue and yellow; I read it as purple in the literature and was initially put off. I was going to change it, but then realized it had a Minnesota Vikings vibe (my favorite American football team, owing to the circumstances of my birth), and I was all-in. I envisioned a Street Wars Twin Cities-type deal.
I have the beginnings of an urban set-up, mostly Matakishi-inspired cork buildings reinforced with some more recent mdf acquisitions. I suppose I should reward these fellows by letting them have at it…
Opened in 1859, the Academy was yet another casualty of American Civil War, and by 1870 it was closed and the widow of the founding superintendent (Colonel Charles Courtney Tew, first graduate of the Citadel, killed at Antietam) haunted the upper floor, alone.
What remains today? That dirt road in the picture above is now paved and called “Barracks Road;” I run down it 2-3 times a week. The little wooden structure on there right was the “social hall” (according to this website). It still stands, and according to the sign is the All Saints Anglican Church, though I’ve observed nary a soul within.
The most impressive bit is the Commandant’s House across the street, now a private residence. Below is what it looked like yesterday. You can almost make out the cool crenelations. For most of the 20 years I’ve lived in the area, the holly bushes in front were grown up almost to the height of the building and one had to peek through the brambles to catch a glimpse.
Here’s a historical photo giving a better view of the architecture.
This drawing shows the relationship between the two structures.
I shall endeavor to track down more such tidbits that I stumble over in my backyard…
One frequently reads wargamers lamenting their “Gamer ADHD,” the magpie-like distractibility that prevents us from completing our projects. I am thoroughly fortunate to have a dedicated gaming space — The Hobby Shack — which I was certain would sharpen my efficiency and dedication to wargaming. Well… I definitely spend more hobbying time than I used to do; yet still nothing comes to completion.
Some folks implement measures such as “The Pledge,” whereby they keep a balance of new purchases to items completed, forestalling wanton accumulation. I’ve begun to do so informally — for example, I have vowed to finish every mdf kit I have before purchasing another.
Regularly, however, I’ll find myself seated at my painting desk, staring aimlessly, overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I simply have so many projects in media res that I don’t know what to do next. Cracking on to completion of anything feels impossible… And, this is a hobby! (We’ll set aside for the moment the fact that I have other hobbies as well).
I suppose an appropriate graphic representation of my hobbying experience would be one of those slow-moving maps revealing the formation of a tropical depression — lazy counter-clockwise spinning that never attains the fury of a hurricane.
As an exercise, let us examine my past week or so of hobbying. N.B.: I’m on my brief Summer Interruption from teaching (my school is year ’round so it’s only about 5 weeks long) and thus I enjoy the luxury of daily hobby time. Here is what I have been doing — not, mind you, in the exact order I did it, as my records and memory are not sufficiently accurate to reconstruct the timeline.
Way back in early 2016 (!) I was fortunate enough to benefit from the generosity of Tom Foss at Skull and Crown and his Great Wagoning of 2016. He utilized his laser cutting contraption to create some 10mm card wagons and horses for a Warmaster scenario he had planned. Somehow I managed to win a brace of said wagons. Mr. Foss posted them alacritously, and as I gushed about his wooden soldiers and made mention of my own humble aspirations toward same, he graciously included one of his as-yet-unreleased 54mm ImagiNation figures.
Any reasonable soul would immediately email him thanks and set to work assembling and painting as a demonstration of respect, right? [Sigh]. Alas, my prodigious introversion/diagnosable communication defect assured that I would not acknowledge this kind gesture and, perhaps out of associated guilt, the packet has stared at me on the desk for three years.
At embarrassingly long last, one of the wagons is done! (I bought more 10mm stuff from Pendraken back then to try Warmaster myself; it’s also still in plastic baggies). The 18th Century chap is primed and awaiting pigmentation.
I possess the merest scintilla of Mr. Foss’ artistic ability; fortunately he and his laser provided all those little lines to guide my feeble brushstrokes.
Here’s an establishing shot of the painting desk to set up more of this week’s drama:
Top center are the remaining 5 stripped 54mm, possibly homecast guards in bearskins. They are at attention but have got none of mine as yet. Just below the bottle of light blue craft paint you might spy one of my Foundry Darkest Africa figures — my second ever miniature purchase, nearly 20 years ago. I painted him in an hour. There’s a Reaper Bones lass next to him which I also finished. Then a Funky Skull Games Street Wars NYC figure who’s awaiting a decal for his jacket (which will be so small that I’d probably be better off to just hand paint the design). Below them are some Bones vermin — scorpions, spiders, and spider & rat swarms. About half-way complete. Possibly from the Bones I kickstarter, which was probably from about 1909, wasn’t it?
Dominating the foreground is possibly the weirdest twist. Inflamed by an advert for a Printable Scenery Dwarven Airship, I pulled out, and this morning assembled and glued, my Warhammer Battle of Skull Pass figures. I started a bunch of the Night Goblins after buying the set (apparently in 2006, ye gods), but fairly quickly lost interest. I was struck yesterday by a vision of the dwarves (some of whom have pistols and one of whom isn’t wearing pants) and their airship, battling Night Goblins with a Jawa sandcrawler-type-thing which I suppose I’ll have to scratch-build. The sculpts on these figures are refreshingly simple, so it is within reason that I could get a bunch painted up.
I have simultaneously been according due diligence to the aforementioned mdf buildings, the idea being that I could set up a Matakishi-like city board. I’ve been consistently vexed by the immensity of the TT Combat buildings — 1:56, I guess, as opposed to Matakishi’s 1:64-ish creations. They are intended to complement those statuesque Heroclix figures perched on plinths rather than my collection of diminutive 28-32mm souls.
I’ve added the final bits to the trio of Grey Haven Houses (TT Combat) — mostly some Evergreen angle for trim to hide the corner box joints. I have plans to divide the interiors into rooms and add details, but that is for some time in the future. Each of these three dwarfs a Matakishi brownstone.
Save varnishing, I’ve completed the Chinatown square, Hawkers’ Stands, Little Ramen, Subway Entrance, and Phone Booth, all from Knights of Dice. [And to their defense, regarding my previous complaint about the pictured-but-missing tables in the square, I failed to note a critical explanatory asterisk in the photo on the Knights of Dice website].
Thus, I purchased some of said tables, which currently reside temporarily al fresco on what will eventually be an Italian restaurant.
I’m especially annoyed by the gaping door of this shop. The two Funky Skull hooligans are solidly 28mm and the Reaper Chrono-technician who beamed in is 32mm, yet all are barely half as high as the door. I’ll probably create an insert to assuage my fury.
Finally, I’ve assembled and mostly primed Dino Gas (TT Combat), which, as I begin to see, I don’t think I even like that much [sigh]. I’ll likely finish it out of sheer obstinance, but then go with Kraken Petroleum from Knights of Dice instead.
Thus ends the maundering tour of my most recent hobby achievements. Is there a coherent strategy? — 10mm cardboard wagon; dwarf and goblin armies; 19th century colonial explorer, Chinatown accoutrements; elephantine city buildings; vermin —one would say, “No.” This blog post itself should be added to the list. I do, however, feel some sense of accomplished satisfaction. And, it is, after all, just a hobby.
A chance mention on The Miniatures Page led me to a new (to me) Australian manufacturer of mdf terrain: Knights of Dice. The sci-fi stuff — which is what was referenced in the TMP post — is fabulous. The pulp/modern stuff is what hooked me, though.
Chinatown? An amusement park? I hadn’t even realized my absolute ache to have this stuff!
A little digging uncovered the delight that Noble Knight Games carries a bunch of the stuff in the US. I ordered last Wednesday morning and by noon on Friday I had my first three bits of Sentry City. I decided to start small, with Chinatown.
First up, a simple plaza. This one reminded me of street plazas on the Lower East Side / Chinatown in New York City. The only ding I’ll give the kit (and my sole criticism of Knights of Dice thus far) is that the website photo shows a table and chairs in the plaza — which are sold separately — but not included with this kit. I fully realize that when they pose miniatures in photos they won’t come with the terrain; I just kinda thought they might include the tables to dress up the plaza. In NYC, I recall they had chessboards, so I may scratch build some of those instead.
Next up, we have a lovely brace of street food Hawker’s Stands. Check out the details on the image on the KoD website â€” stove grates, cutting board, pan, cleaver. Amazing!
Finally, a smallish restaurant / food stand — Little Ramen. The detail inside the kitchen rivals the street carts. I haven’t begun to search for suitable miniatures to staff them…
I’ve just begun to dry fit some of this together, and everything fits neatly and tight — they should be a joy to build. Noble Knight has a lot, but not everything, that KoD sells, so I will likely be doing some direct ordering from Down Under.
At any rate, I foresee many, many more purchases from Knights of Dice.
Fresh from showing off my counterfeits of Matt’s figures, I should make clear that I also steal from Kenneth Van Pelt. Here are a few pictures of my Square Pegs 54mm craftee VSF soldiers (and some experiments in other genres). Many of the fellows could be used for straight-up colonial combat, I suppose, but I don’t possess enough hard military historical knowledge to paint them correctly…
First up is a British artillery crew with scratch-built gun. I did buy the mdf wheels. (Though, I will say, I made one using the Toy Making Dad’s methods, but it took a LONG TIME so I opted to buy some here). I should also note that these guns do not really fire …
Here are their Prussian counterparts:
The pickelhaube-with-a-ball-on-them are a real thing, by the way. One wonders if it wasn’t just a touch difficult to take them seriously? They were manning a cannon, I suppose…
So that you can appreciate my sacrifice, you see I glued rivets onto this thing. You can’t really see it, but there is also a bolt to turn to adjust the elevation. At one time I fantasized that I would make a firing model; I have given up on that dream for the moment.
Death’s Head Hussars. I cut the tops off the pegs and glued on bits of dowel to fashion the busbies.
Here are some Jægers. I tried to take the easy route by sanding the top at an angle to communicate the distinctive hat. I’m not sure if it was successful.
I think Kenneth was brilliant in devising the pipe cleaner arms, but I agree with Dale that something else — he suggests craft foam — might serve better. The pipe cleaner arms are eminently reposition-able, but they hold guns funny. And [sigh] they make the guys look like muppets.
The field surgeon and a wounded soul. I’m either going to make a scalpel for the medico or buy one intended for Lego people. You’ll see some Lego weapons anon.
A hospital scene, with casualties and nurses. I think one of the ladies from Downton Abbey was serving as a nurse when I made these plucky lasses — I hadn’t seen the costume previously. Note, I have to cut the pegs in half the long way to get them to lie on the cots properly. I don’t recall now how I did it! The blankets are tissue paper soaked in white pva glue.
Here are a couple of civilian ladies and an Indiana Jones-type. Gun and sword are Lego weapons. Hats on Indy and the lady in yellow are some type of metal nut from Home Depot, intended to hold plastic wheels on axels. I haven’t attempted to do a whip yet.
Now we come to some of my experiments. First up, the crew from a famous starship. Phasers are Lego weapons. The figures can be removed from their “starship floor” bases, should I become sufficiently possessed to create exotic planet bases as well.
Feel the need to point out Uhura’s earrings and eye shadow… I have also begun an Orion slave girl (should you even doubt it) but haven’t photographed her yet.
The pirate lass is the favorite figure I’ve done. Her hair is braided, but I had to outsource the task as I seem incapable of learning the art. Tricorne courtesy of Dale’s craft foam tutorials. Lego weapons. Alas, her counterpart is WIP.
Finally, Lara and Tara Kraft, tomb raiders. The only female expression I seem to be able to paint is a smirk… which likely sums up exactly what they think of me.
In order to keep some self-exacted promises, I will likely inflict upon you an uptick in posts on this blog. It is my intention in the newly-arrived year both to write more and to make a dent in the GULP (the Great Unpainted Lead Pile) that lives in the closet.
This motley crew of civilians come to us from the much-missed Mega Miniatures. They remain, I believe, my sole purchase at a FLGS (which has moved, expanded, and undergone a name change between the time I purchased and painted these lovelies…) since 1970-something.
The poor souls have loitered, based and primed, for every bit ofÂ two years before sat down to dash on a coat of paint. Note well that I do not submit them as exemplars of any sort of painting skill. Rather, they have lifted my spirits on this first day of the new year by the simple fact that they are finished at last!
Hexographer is the thoroughly wonderful program I used to create the map in my header. It comes from the mind of Joe Wetzel at Inkwell Ideas, who also has programs for mapping dungeons (Dungeonographer) and, thanks to one of those successful Kickstarters, entire cities (Cityographer). The programs are Java-based, therefore platform agnostic, free for a basic version, and reasonably priced for an upgrade.