Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Gaslamp Alley" Sarissa Precision MDF buildings

Just spotted this on the The Illustrated London News Blog.

New Victorian themed buildings from Sarissa Precision, as I hinted at in an earlier blog post.

They look superb and just what us Empire of the Dead players have been hanging out for!

These will be added to the shopping list once available, no doubt!

Well done Sarissa, I look forward to more!

Now I really can't wait for my EotD Requiem Kickstarter figures to arrive!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Empire of the dead Requiem - LAST GASP chance...

Roll up roll up , read all about it...

9 hrs to go till the end of the Empire of the Dead Requiem Kickstarter ends!

We thrashed through the last stretch goals and Uncle Thulu has been added and more besides!

We're only £2k away from completing the final goal of the Kickstarter and releasing "The Phantom" with the £90,000 mark of the target.

OK, the UK and Europe have gone to sleep now, so its up to us 'internationals' to hit this one out of the park! So all you Aussies who have just got up, and Kiwis going about their day, and Yanks and Canadians, sitting down to dinner looking forward to your evening, nows the time to log in and pledge away!

Have you pledged yet!? If not , time to visit here.

Come on guys I am sure we can hit this final target!

Fingers crossed...

Well done to Andy and Wendy Cooper for managing a superb Kickstarter project!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Empire of the Dead Requiem Kickstarter - Just over one day to go!

Attention Attention!!!

Just over one day to go till the end of the Empire of the Dead Requiem Kickstarter pledge period ends.

The last day or so has seen a roar of activity, shooting the pledge level up to just over £78,000!!

If we can crack £80,000 , we can free up Great Uncle Thulu ! I simply love this concept figure... a wonderful tongue in cheek nod to the Lovecraftian world of Cthulhu.

This kickstarter has been a run away success... what started off as a hope to get £5,000, has managed to draw in almost 16 times that initial required amount!

Clearly this period and setting appeals to a great many gamers out there!

I have to say I am quite thrilled. And as the kickstarter grew I couldn't help but get drawn in a little further, and the addition of the pledge booster was a great idea, allowing you to more or less customize your desired financial input.

Not only are we seeing 'fighting faction figures' but a whole host of background figures and vehicles to really set the scene.

The stretch goals have rocked along at a wonderful rate securing all Requiem level pledges an amazing array of unique miniatures available only to those who dare to dip their toe in the kickstarter.

If you are still sitting on the fence for this one you have one last day to make the decision to jump on in. So come on in, the water's lovely! ;-)

If you want to grab all these unique stretch goal models you'll need to stump up £74, but this will get you:
"Requiem 18 - (+all stretch goals) 18 human sized models from Requiem. + Choose any single boxed set from Lycaon, Vampire, Brotherhood, Gentlemen's club or Zombies. + Nadezhda Durova, a Kickstarter only Limited Edition miniature. + a Pdf of the Empire of the Dead rulebook."

This is a damn good buy in to the game, giving you a PDF copy of the rules, a starter faction set of 8 figures, and a choice of 18 figures to add to this from the kickstarter, plus Ms Durova and all the stretch goal figures, currently at another 10 figures, so that's 37 beautiful metal sculpts from Andy Cooper at WestWind at £2 a figure. I think that's great value.

Of course you could pledge more and grab more great figures!

So its your choice, pledge away and join in the fun!


Check out the Kickstarter here.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bilbo, Gandalf and a Hummel

Well the 20th of March finally rolled around and marked the finale of the Analogue Hobbies 3rd Annual Painting Challenge.

I had a bit of a problem after finishing my Goblin Town models, my detail brushes gave up the ghost entirely.

I often make do with cheap synthetic brushes I get from the post shop, but these although cheap, only seem to last '5 minutes' before the tips curl and or the bristles start splaying out...

I do love the Windsor and Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable range, but I have not found a source of these here in NZ. They are pricey and then there's shipping too, which makes them quite an investment... So I had a look around for other options, and decided on the Army Painter range of brushes, and ordered a set from Warlord Games.

Whilst waiting for these to arrive, I got on with another item that wouldn't need super fine brushes; a 15mm Battlefront Hummel for Flames of War. This I did in my 'usual' style for German three colour camo...

Getting the Ranging Posts done was the only tricky bit, and I swore and cursed as my brushes couldn't manage this! I ended up cutting away most of the bristles left on an old detail brush till there was literally only a few hairs left... it worked but so few bristles can't hold much paint so it was a bit laborious back forth. But I got there in the end.

So this Hummel brings my Heavy Armoured Artillery Battery to 4 Hummels, which in game terms means the battery has a little longevity before it's reduced to 2 models firing with its reduced effectiveness, and at this size they get 2 observers. Of course the downside is the battery is getting rather expensive in points cost!

Finally with 2 days to go, my brushes arrived from Warlord Games...

Yippee. Well package and the bristles were good, and the brushes good to go!

I had already base coated and shade washed Bilbo and Gandalf and now I could finished them off.

In the The Hobbit starter set Bilbo, comes with a choice of two arms, one holding Sting and the other his staff. Whilst the pose with the staff was quaint and more hobbit-like, the game is about fighting and I think a sword would suit Bilbo better in these situations! So it had to be Sting.

Here Bilbo explores Goblin Town and finds a bundle of the dwarves gear...

Next up Gandalf comes to the rescue! Some folks have said they don't like the pose of the model but I rather like it.

I have been using the The Hobbit Visual Companion book, by Jude Fisher, as an aid to getting some of the colours and little details correct on the figures. One thing which I found from the book, was the colour and decoration of the belt for Glamdring, the sword Gandalf finds in the troll cave.

I would never have thought of painting it blue! But blue it is with small star symbols. I couldn't manage stars at this scale so white spots would have to do!

Gandalf catches up with Bilbo in Goblin Town.

So that was my final submission to Curt's painting challenge, and finished just in time, the flock was still drying on Gandalf's base as I took these pictures and got them submitted by email to Curt with 30 minutes to go!

I must admit I fell well short of my target of 600 points, but I knew I would have several things on the go that would score no points - during the challenge I made the Goblin Town board which took 3 weeks, and also I converted the Goblin Throne, again a 'terrain piece', and had my experience with Finecast painting up Groblog, an LOTR model that wouldn't be accepted as a model for the challenge. And then to finish off I made my paint store carousel!

I did fail to get the required Ronin figure in on time, but that is on the painting table now and will be winging its way to Curt ASAP.

Again I have to say special thanks to Curt for running a wonderful competition. He must have been working like a man possessed to get all these submissions up on his blog!

Congratulations to all that took part, the standard of work was a joy to behold.

The final positions have been noted and prizes will be awarded to the winners, but there remain some little extra spot prizes to be had, the challengers voting for their favourite submission, and the blogging public can vote for theirs too! So pop on over the Curt's blog and cast your vote, but making a comment on the blog.

Shameless plug; here's the list of my work on Curt's blog!

Vote away gentle reader...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Carousel Paint Storage

Having got part way through the paint challenge, my decent brushes have finally worn out. I have tried all over locally trying to find a decent miniatures sable brush.

Back in the UK the local art supply store in Newcastle had a great selection including the much vaunted Windsor and Newton Series 7 Miniature range.

Sadly I haven't found a supplier here in NZ... Recently I came across the Army painter range which include some sable fine detail brushes. So I thought I would order some of these from Warlord Games. So while they are winging their way across the globe to reach me... I started doing a few other things that don't need such good brushes...

I found the 4th Hummel I got for my Flames of War German heavy armoured artillery battery. So after a few days work, that is now just awaiting varnish and decals... more to show on a another blog post.

With this nearing completion and whilst there are not 101 things to do on the painting table, I thought I'd give it a tidy up... but no matter how I juggled things around I am still struggling for space with all my paint pots arrayed on every flat area... then a brain wave hit me...

Having recalled some of the rotating desk top display units we have for a range of items in the pharmacy, I thought something like that would be useful for my paints. On going back to work, I had a rummage in the stock room, and found an old one that wasn't being used anymore, and was just waiting for the skip...

So home it came with me.

I cut the rotating base off with an angle grinder, then set to with the MDF sheet and a length of dowel. And a few days work, with allowing glue time to dry between stages, I have a tidy paint store that will take up a fraction of my desk top space...

Made from 3mm MDF sheet and a length of 16mm dia dowel.

The rotating carousel base from the display unit
Just take hold of the black taped 'handle' at the top and spin to rotate the whole carousel.

Lots of triangle bits to add strength to the layers

All my paints stacked up nicely.
Now I'll admit its not a thing of beauty! In that respect I am far from an elf in my craftsman skills, more orc-like in that respect! But the main thing is it's functional, only took a few days to make, and cost me nothing!

Tidy painting table here we come!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Police Inspector - Empire of the Dead

Some time ago I completed a patrol of police men for my Empire of the Dead gaming, though I was missing a Faction leader for them and a 'police inspector' figure was needed.

 Again WestWind came to the rescue with a set of police inspectors from their Vampire Wars range of models that are perfectly compatible with their Empire of the Dead range.

I selected a suitable model from the pack and trimmed and prepped him ready for paint... and then the The Hobbit boxed set arrived and painting and modelling focus was instantly changed here at chez Bowman!

Now having completed for the most part building Goblin Town, and then painting up all the Goblins of Goblin Town (see earlier post), I felt like a little change before pressing on with the company of dwarves, and so fished this model out again and got him finished.

Being roughly historic in appearance, he forms a small part of my Painting Challenge submissions.

Here he is in both 'urban' and 'rural' settings...

I am not sure whether I would choose to run a routine Police Faction in the game, the main motivation for this group of police, was that one of the post game events, in the campaign setting, is to be "Captured by the Peelers", so the follow up mission becomes an escape from custody, hence the requirement for the models.

Now there appears to be a formal Police Faction being done for the game as part of the kickstarter so we'll wait and see what develops... So here are Holmes and Watson leading an intrepid bunch of police into the catacombs below the city... what 'fiendishness' awaits them?... who knows....

Monday, March 11, 2013

An unexpected gift!

For Lord of the Rings fans, living in New Zealand often brings unexpected encounters with places and people who were involved in the movie making magic that went into filming and producing the movie trilogy.

In a bid to get in to better shape, my wife recently took on a personal trainer; Abigail from BodyFix here in Kapiti.

As we got know Abigail, it transpired she was involved in the movie. Abigail is quite petite and very fit and was perfect as a stunt double for Gimli, and also she was used as the movement capture element for the creation of the movement of the Moria goblins as they descend from the roof of the caverns of the Dwarrowdelf, and down the pillars... and several other extras roles, including the little orc who turns to chat to a fellow orc on the top of the Black Gate (bottom picture below).

After finding this out, I naturally mentioned my love of the movie and books and showed her my figures and terrain I have made. She seemed suitably impressed with this, and realized I was a 'real fan'.

The next meeting with her she said she had something for me, and would bring it next time.

With great curiosity I waited for her next appointment with my wife...

Do you remember the following sequence from the movie? As Aragorn , Gimli and Legolas take the Paths of The Dead, they confront the King of the Dead and his undead 'court'... and then go on in their struggle through this hazardous realm.

In the Extended DVD version they are hit with an avalanche of skulls...

I recall watching the 'making of' disc, where it was described how they had to make hundreds if not thousands or tiny resin skulls, to film this shot...

Well guess what Abigail turned up for me...?

Having some contacts in the know, she brought me one of the resin skulls used from the movie! How cool is that!? So it now resides in pride of place in my display case alongside my figures...  with the bad guys of course! ;-)

Here with Aragorn, just for a sense of scale.

And here is Abigail, the chatty little orc, (second from right)!

Great to have friends in high places and all that! :-)

Friday, March 08, 2013

Groblog the Goblin King - a first (and last?) experience with Finecast!

During the course of the painting challenge, another model I have had on the go is Groblog, the Goblin King, a Finecast model for the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle game.

Interesting to have two different Goblins Kings on the Painting Table at the same time. If they ever 'got into it' my money's on the Great Goblin! ;-)

I knew Curt wasn't accepting LOTR submissions to the challenge, only Hobbit ones, so I didn't bother submitting it.

This is the first Finecast model I have bought and assembled and painted up. Whilst I have a goblin army, and this figure will do well to add to those forces, my main motivation for buying it was to see for myself what the Finecast material was like to work with it, and is it worth the hype, or is the criticism well placed.

 Here he is in a few poses with differing backgrounds and angles as they can set the model off differently. He was a little tricky to photo due to his crouched-over pose... and thus some of his detail hidden in shadow... but hopefully you can get the drift.

When I first bought the model from the store, I looked at the few that were on the shelf, and whilst browsing was approached by the sales assistant, who approached me in the typical 'GW Manner'...

I asked him about the Finecast and its high cost, and he thus extolled its virtues. To this I mentioned the backlash and critique I had seen on the web and he assured me they had the problems sorted now, and that if I wasn't happy with the model once bought I could bring it back for an exchange, no questions asked... OK thought I, I'll give it a go...

 So I glanced over the choices in store, to decide which to buy. I found it rather difficult to choose as all models were covered in a load of flash that would need to be trimmed away, and I could see several tiny bubble holes in the resin material already visible through the clear packaging. In the end I picked the one that was the best of the bunch, I hoped!

And shelled out my NZ$31 for this one little figure...

I didn't get to work on the model immediately as I had several other things on the go on my painting table at the time, but eventually I got round to him and with some trepidation opened the pack and set to work.

The material is fairly soft and cuts easily with the clippers or scalpel blade. The problems I had were where the flash joined the model to the sprue.

straight out of the blister pack...

lots of flash to trim away
Click on pics for a larger view...

bubble holes and flash all over

more holes and flash

Where ever this occurred, the flash had to be trimmed away, and whatever detail had been on the surface of the model where the flash had adhered to was instantly lost...

Having made the best of this I was then put in the situation of looking at all the tiny bubble holes to fill, of which there were several. Now it might be said to be easy to use the new liquid greenstuff to fill these, but experience with this product has been that you apply it using a paintbrush to the best of your ability, and you think you have the hole filled, only to have the material dry out and shrink and there's the hole back again.

So more liberal applications follow, to get rid of the hole yet this invariably covers the surrounding area too in an excess of material, clogging this wonderful 'Finecast detail', making it pretty much a waste of time, and expense.

I first discovered this using the greenstuff to fill the same bubble holes on the resin buildings I got for Flames of War from Total Battle, and Kerr-and-King. The excess greenstuff on these building wasn't so much an issue as they were mostly flat surfaces where the material could easily be blended in. Not so easy on a 'detailed figurine'...

Some of the frustration here was some small  bits of flash / mold line had obscured the model's face and as this was trimmed away, away went the some of the detail of the models nose and mouth. These I had to bodge back into shape using more liquid greenstuff and etching the shapes, including nose and teeth and shape of the mouth, back in as best as I could with the scalpel blade point. Far from easy on the tiny figure... and wait a minute... I paid how much for this wonderful material???

Having made the best of this that I could, I then tried to position the model as it was a multi-part pose; the pillar column and arm one piece, the kings body and outstretched sword arm another and the cloak the last part.

I tried super-gluing these first, thinking that would be sufficient, but a small amount of routine handling while prepping later had the model come apart in my hands.

So out with the drill and pinning techniques... Eventually I got it put back together and secure.

So once assembled, painting was fairly routine for me, and I followed the colour guide from GW imagery.

I used my now adopted black spray primer "metal primer" by Plastikote, and the material took this fine. Once dry, painting commenced with the usual base colours, followed by an all over black wash, and then bringing out the base colours again followed by some highlights and facial detail work and the jewel effect too added as a final touch, though not sure how well this shows up due to the models crouched over pose?

Model was finally finished with a coat of DIY polyurethane gloss varnish, followed by a coat of Vallejo brush on matt acrylic varnish.

Et Voila!

So I think the figure turned out well in the end. The pose is certainly dynamic, though whether it could have been done equally well using metal or plastic instead of Finecast I am unsure. I suppose for the pinning, the Finecast material was easier to drill than the equivalent metal material.

I am beginning to wonder that as GW realize their market is probably, for the most part, teenage youth , with still developing modelling skills - drilling and pinning metal models can be a difficult business, so perhaps this change to a more pliable material may have been the reason for the change. My past purchases of 2nd hand models that have been bodged together with all kinds of inappropriate glues and other adhesive materials certainly bears this out!

Is it worth it? Is it better than metal or plastic? The material is easy to work with being fairly soft and trims easily with a sharp scalpel blade, and flash and mold lines are easily removed BUT there is a lot of flash material and where-ever this has to be cut away, surface detail is lost! And there is a lot of bubble work to fill. This all takes extra time and effort just to prep the model for painting. And yet we are paying through the nose for this improved surface detail on this wonderful new material.

To be honest I don't see it. The models are OK , but I don't think they are anymore super detailed than the equivalent metal model. Nor is the material any quicker to work with, its just different with its own issues and problems ...

Is it worth multiple times the cost of an equivalent metal model? Not on your life!

NZ$31 for one small toy soldier... is it worth it?

I really don't think so... that much money would buy you a whole unit of models from other manufacturers.

Or to put in real world terms at today's prices... for the same cost I could buy about 19 litres of milk... or I could buy 14 litres of regular 91 octane unleaded petrol (thats 'gas' for you American folks reading this)...

Is one toy soldier worth that?

Frankly, I don't think so...

Will I be buying more? I seriously doubt it, though time may tell if I become desperate for a model for my collection... and that's where they have you by the short and curlies... if you want a certain model... there is only one place to get it, though thankfully I can consider getting from cheaper UK sources..., but then you lose the chance to examine the model in store before buying - buyer beware!

You pays your money, you takes your choice...

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Goblin King's domain

After some work I got my 4th submission into the painting challenge; The Goblin King, or 'Great Goblin' as he was also known, his Scribe and two Goblin captains including Grinnah, all from the The Hobbit boxed starter set.

 I painted them all to match the existing Goblin Town goblins, in my prior post.

As usual, click on pics for a larger view.

Here is the Great Goblin, a huge loathsome hulking figure, played wonderfully in the movie my Barry Humphries, and superbly rendered by the team at Weta digital.

He's a huge figure, standing some 6cm tall to top of his crown, towering over his minions and adversaries alike.

In the game, classed as a monster, and with the new monstrous combat abilities, he's going to be a real handful to deal with!

Great Goblin

Next up is a diminutive goblin captain, un-named though I suspect he may be the character that wrestles Bilbo in the movie, and falls to his doom with him...

Goblin Captain
The second Goblin Captain, Grinnah, bears a large  spiked flailing whip, with which he keeps his charges in line.

Grinnah, Goblin Captain
Next up is the goblin scribe... this little fellow, notes the Great Goblins proclamations and orders, and in the movie is seen to be ordered to 'send word to the White Orc!', concerning Thorin's capture...

In the game, he brings much needed reinforcements to the goblin forces...

The following did not make it to the painting challenge as, though part of the The Hobbit boxed set, it would be classed as 'terrain' and thus dissallowed, but it has taken a fair amount of time to convert and paint up; The Great Goblin's Throne.

The throne was a multi-part plastic kit, like the rest of the boxed set contents and went together well, though I left the base piece off unattached to paint separately.

The only issue I had with it was that the back of the kit was an open void, which looked pretty naff if you had just left it like that. So I decided to fill the void with foam and clad it with bark chip, to effect a rock surface.
I checked back to the movie imagery, just to check for shape and proportion, and did note the throne forms part of the top of a giant spur of rock jutting up from floor of cavern, (see below pic), so needed to maintain its angled slope.
Goblin town
Back of throne clad with bark chip
And though not noticeable, that I recall, in the movie, the figure sculptors went to that level of detail typical of a Jackson movie; a hole in the seat of the throne for the Great Goblin to crap into a bucket positioned underneath!

There were also skeletal remains and entrails suggesting remnants of his last meal! Difficult to see once assembled but I painted them none the less!

So there we have them all, The Great Goblin, and all his minions in his domain of Goblin Town!

Great Goblin and goblins of Goblin Town

Now I just have to press on with Bilbo, Gandalf and a company of 13 dwarves... and not forgetting Radagast too!
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