dispatches from terra incognita

Category: Old West Page 1 of 3

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.

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

Painting Progress

Here are my latest figures to go into the “completed” column:

An admittedly odd pair — a Blitz Bowl / Blood Bowl orc and a 3D-printed owlbear-skin rug from Fat Dragon Games.

Continuing with fantasy, we have two well-armed lasses from my horde of Reaper Bones.

And then I circled back to my goblin fetish, with two GW Night Goblin netters. I felt pretty good about adding them to the swelling ranks of my army:

Until I recalled that this is what remains to be painted:

The photo doesn’t do them justice, but these aged Reaper Bones turned out better than I expected. On the left is the iconic Deadlands cover boy by Brom; the skeletal fellow on the right had been a cavalryman, I decided.

“Blondie” was one of those metal figures I was too intimidated to paint for years. I don’t recall who made him. Flanking him are two Reaper Bones who turned out ok. I’m ever shocked that one can paint craft acrylics right on Bones plastic without primer.

And finally, to some 54mm denizens of my imagi-nation, Ascaria. First up are Zafrarian artillery. They came with both mortar and howitzer — I assume they wouldn’t man them both simultaneously.

… And their Ascodali counterparts. I’m getting in almost two hours of hobby time a day, which pleases me to no end. Alas, I’m soon to return to remote teaching, so I’ll likely have to forego one of the daily hobbying hours …

A bit of a jag

Even before the recent “sheltering in place,” I seem to have gone on a bit of a painting jag — the term is, apparently, an Americanism: “a bout of unrestrained activity or emotion, especially drinking, crying, or laughing.” There is no rhyme or reason, just a gentle swirl through the unpainted masses. In the spirit of sharing, we have:

This fellow was a gift from him creator, Thomas Foss. I’ve noticed that his Skull and Crown web store is unavailable; hopefully indicative of a big relaunch. I’ve been hoping more of these fellows to become available.

Let us stay with the big boys. These are the first five Franco-Prussian War Prussians. They are to serve as stock villains for my Isla Victoria VSF setting.

Next up, my current “new shiny object.” When I acquired my Vintage Christmas Haul of Armies in Plastic 54s, one benefit of buying in bulk (in addition to free shipping) was the extra bags of random miniatures. I had long thought that I would press some of these lads into service in an Imagi-Nation. That plan has been set into motion.

Picked from the fellows in the bags plus an additional bag of random AIP Napoleonics I purchased, I have the first unit of Ascodali infantry. I’ll do a subsequent post on what I’m dreaming up.

Now we’ll move on to smaller souls. I’ll note at the outset that my painting style (block colors with a wash) and my not-so-matte sealer make the minis appear a bit blotchy here on the silver screen. They look better— to my eyes, at least — in person.

Here are four adventurous ladies from Wargames Foundry’s Darkest Africa collection. I accidentally captured an appropriate mania in the missionary lass at left.

I tried to create a little vignette for this lone, piratical captive. (Old Glory). Would have been better if I put a little ship in the background, I suppose.

 

Here is a pulp-era Dame or Gun Moll, I suppose, looking quite blotchy. This was my second attempt at sheer fabric (her stockings) which look terrible in the photo and not much better in the flesh [sigh].

When I began painting this chap years ago, I didn’t understand who he was supposed to be. As often, it was likely Maestro Chris Palmer who informed me Reaper intends him to be “a hougan.” I’ve since become better acquainted with the Reaper Figure Finder for positive IDs.

Last historical stop, the Old West. A couple of entrepreneurs in dispute with a cow herder. No doubt, just a misunderstanding. (Foundry Old West figures).

On to the world of fantasy. The leader of my orc army along with a chariot, as yet un-crewed.

Some villagers (Reaper Bones) …

… and an elf, maybe? As I got into the color scheme, I imagined her as a fantasy Bridezilla. Perhaps adventurers will interrupt her nuptials and invoke her wrath …

This one is meant to be a paladin, I think. With my color choices, I asked: what would happen if the god she followed wasn’t obsessed with purity evinced by chastity? Hence, a “Hot Paladin.”

I don’t know if GW does any female dwarf characters at all. I imagined this young lady as a “Slayer-in-training.” Hence, not yet nude (a shirt skirt and training bra-type-thing you can’t see here) and just a bit of the orange dye in her hair.

This fellow has a silly, Peter Mullen-ish over the topness that appeals to me. I tried — and failed — to paint mystical swirlings on the crystal ball. Looks like a bad globe [sign, again].

The final two were “hate painting,” really, just to get them out of the queue. I recall that Chris Palmer didn’t like this lass when he painted her, either. She’s clearly running away from something — something BIG as she seems to be looking backwards and upwards. I’m hoping it’s whoever sold her that outfit …

Finally, Reaper’s “Mr. Bones.” I don’t get what this guy even is. Skull face, which Chris Palmer refers to as “a mask,” which, I guess, it is, as he has regular hands and feet. Who is he? What is he doing? WTF? I have the next-year’s-model on the desk now. At least he has boney hands and feet as well.

The GULP

The very first minis I purchased in my adulthood were a passel of western figures from Monday Knight Productions. They turned out to be a mixture of 25 and 28mm, as I really didn’t know the difference then, and the site doesn’t seem to differentiate. This was nearly 15 years ago, and these wee desperadoes formed the core of my Great Unpainted Lead Pile, or GULP, which also happens to be the sound I utter when I behold its vastness.

Soon thereafter I became enamored of colonial and VSF figures, and made several big purchases from Wargames Foundry, both the Darkest Africa and Western ranges. I think I may have acquired some Old Glory Pirates next (which, I just realized, invalidates my claim a few days back that Mega Minis civilians were my first post-70’s FLGS miniature purchase; I plundered the OG scurvy dogs from the dearly departed War Room in Atlanta).

Falling under the spell of 15mm VSF, I was able to increase the numbers of figures I purchased for the same amount of money. I became an enthusiast for Irregular Miniatures, which remains, I believe, an acquired taste. Reading Wind in the Willows and Redwall to my little boys resulted in a few strategic buys from Splintered Light (those little boys are both teenagers now, one poised to leave for college; the armed mice remain bare metal). With lamb-like dutifulness I followed internet advice to purchase boardgames (Descent, Battle Lore, Super Dungeon Explore) for more figures. I fell hook, line, and lead sinker for the 10mm craze, thinking that 5mm less to paint might get things going. Then the Reaper Bones Kickstarter ambushed me.


Oh, well…

I should note that during this 15 year period, my rate of purchasing far exceeded the rate of painting. Among many curses of the internet is that innocent eyes are exposed to examples of painting skills that far exceed one’s own. No matter how many tips and tutorials I read, my little people never ended up looking like those gorgeous models online. Oh, I could slap a coat of paint on the Irregular fellows, as the usual comment one hears is that “they look disappointing out of the box, but paint up nicely…” But those ladies and gentlemen from the Foundry were expensive and the examples online are so pretty… So, they languished among many others in the GULP. (As you may have detected in the above list, the GULP comprises plastic as well as lead, and, when you think about it, probably contains no lead at all, as I don’t think they use that anymore).

Now, I’m also thoroughly fastidious as well as avaricious, so, I will make clear, mine was not a messy mass of lead. I washed and ogled each and every figure upon arrival. Some sat out for awhile, perhaps dreaming that they might be reborn in glorious technicolor. The vast majority were eventually packed neatly away in boxes, bagged and labelled in anticipation of the day when their turn would come.

In fact, I devised quite the system. Minis “at bat” would be scattered about the painting table (of which I’ve had a number through the years). To the left is the current batch, including some Bones goblins, Foundry Victorians, and a Brigade Games Stealth Squad I bought for a reason that is lost to me. There were 12 Bones kobolds there until yesterday evening.

Minis “on deck” are based and likely primed, and I’ve taken to storing them in stacking tupperware containers from Walmart to keep the dust off. Basing and priming is easy and hints at the promise that I might actually work on a figure. So, there are many, many miniatures “on deck.”

Finally, the sad souls “in the hole” are packed in photo boxes with attractive “old map” prints on the outside.

Lately things have become a bit more lax, as the Super Dungeon Explore figures did get primed, and so are theoretically on deck, but are still piled in the box I primed ’em in.

 

And the Reaper box is just one big overwhelming jumble. (And, yes, lest you worry, the Bones II box is on its way as well.)

 


Of all things, I spent about a year fabricating my own figures out of clothes pegs, the sordid story of which is elsewhere detailed. I will credit my experience of both the Square Pegs and the Reaper Bones with my painting renaissance. Painting Square Pegs was transformational because, well, in the end, it’s just a clothespin. It’s only gonna look so good. And, though the Bones are festooned with excruciating detail, they are just bendy plastic guys and gals, not the solid metal “clean limbed chaps” I bought from Foundry all those years ago. Somehow, it didn’t feel as serious painting plastic —the stakes were not as high — so I made more headway.

I hope that I will be able to maintain the momentum of productivity initiated on this break. To my credit, I have essentially halted buying new miniatures, out of sheer embarrassment as much as anything, so I guess I’m participating in one of those “Pledges” people talk about. At some point I’ll feel sufficiently positive about my progress and find some new pretties that I can’t live without.

Much like my credit card debt, the GULP keeps me getting up each morning and going back to work.

Hexographer

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.

Microtactix

Microtactix was on the leading edge of creating terrain for wargames and RPGs that you could download immediately and print on cardstock. The company has been quiet for some time (viz. the moribund Microtactix website), but a plethora of products remain for sale at RPGNow.

The early buildings, such as Vulture Gulch, are primitive by today’s standards — they’re just line-drawn and you have to color them in yourself(!) Yet, they’re not correspondingly inexpensive…

“Newer” sets such as Twilight Street (added 10 years ago) are fully colored and useful. I have many, many of these sets and retain a fondness for carefully assembling cardstock buildings.

 

Whitewash City

In addition to all of the wonderful products that Eric Hotz has offered to the gaming community, his Whitewash City: Links page is the sine qua non of online Old West gaming resources. If you’re looking for miniatures, scenery, rules — Eric has sought them out and provides you with a link. Many Thanks!

 

Plains War by Pendraken

Pendraken Miniatures has a Plains Wars line which will no doubt be of interest to 10mm Old West gamers.

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