Sunday, July 28, 2013

Canal and Bridge

I know I promised a shot of my Fomorians, but I've been working on these terrain pieces these past couple of days and I just want to show them off.

"You shall not pass, Merneptah!"
fg and I pasted the paper onto the foam boards last week and I cut them to size last night. The six boards give us a playing area of 115cm x 123cm, which is close to the 4' x 4' stipulated in the rules.

I made a trip to the art shop to get some materials to make the canal sections, and since they were having a sale I bought those lovely lamp posts from Barcelona too.

The canal sections are just 1mm foam boards with lengths of square plastic tubing glued to the sides. I unfortunately miscalculated the number required and ended up with only enough for one section - hopefully I can replicate the colour when I make the next one; we will need two to span the width of the playing area. The raised bit to the left of the bridge are bits from a 1/4" square sheet which I used to strengthen the joint between two lengths of tubing.

I sprayed the whole section black, then painted the embankment grey-brown. I then painted the water surface with a brown in an uneven manner to give the impression of flowing water. Once the whole thing is dry I brushed watered-down white glue along the length. This gives the surface a glossy, reflective look - you can see a lamp post and Teddy reflected in the water.

The walking surface of the bridge is made from modelling materials from Wills, as are the sides of the bridge. The sides of the bridge come brick red and are "painted" by rubbing plaster into the gaps between the bricks. Of course from an engineering point of view the bridge isn't really viable, but it's an easy build and looks passable for a piece of wargaming terrain.

We still need a whole lot of buildings before we can have a proper game, but I think we've got a good base to build on.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Balor, King of the Fomorians

Remember when I said I had an idea of a figure for a Balor for my Fomorian warband?

Well, painted over three evenings, I present:

This is the Cyclops Shaman from the Skorne faction in Hordes. He is the only cyclops who looks like a cyclops, because the other cyclops figures wear full-faced helmets. Go figure.

Anyway, when I saw him I thought he was ideal for what I wanted. Most cyclops figures look either too Greek (for good reasons) or too barbaric. Skorne figures have a samurai look to them, but the only obviously samurai parts on this figure are the knots on his vambraces - the rest of his dress and weapon have that Celtos look. To add to that effect I used a 40mm resin base from Fantascape, which has Celtic knotwork on it. The designers of the game probably feel the same way as I do, because they actually gave this figure an 'Evil Eye' shooting attack in the game stats.

Adrian got the figure for me and made it a gift (thanks, bro!); Privateer Press figures are nice but expensive, but this one is a must-have. The cast was quite clean, but the shaft of the weapon was a bit irregular, and so I replaced it with a piece of 1/16th inch brass rod.

I used essentially the same palette as I did for the rest of the warband, but I did use a lighter flesh tone for him. I chose green for the colour of his eye, because he is, well, Irish, and because that was the colour I picked for the gems on my other figures; I guess the fluff is that because their king's eye is green, the Fomorians like green gemstones?

I hope to pose him and the rest of the warband together for a group shot over the weekend. In the meantime, here are a couple more shots:

Front view. I like what I did with the eye.

Rear view, showing the stains on the skirt and the patterned border.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Today was a 'light game' Sunday as fg and I planned to complete the terrain boards for our VSF campaign, and Adrian could only be around for a couple of hours, so I suggested we play the X-Wing game that fg had left at my place a long time ago. As I laid in bed last night I realised that I did not have a suitable game mat for space games, and so I decided I would go to my local market for breakfast and see if I could find something suitable.

As it turned out some guy was selling some cloth and he had a piece of black cloth measuring 5' x 9', which I bought for S$9. A quick pass through the washer and the dryer, and we have a new gaming mat.

Darth Vader battles Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles.
Now I know X-Wing is a highly-rated game, but one doesn't really get that from reading the rules, which are simple and clear. Once the game starts, however, it really comes alive.

A big part of it is the design of the game components. In a way X-Wing is really very much like Wings of War, which I used to own and play but gave away after a while, but the difference in the interface of the games makes X-Wing a much faster experience.

Instead of choosing and placing cards, the use of the movement dial makes things easier and quicker, and honestly there is just something geekily satisfying about fiddling with dials.

The use of thick cardboard movement gauges instead of cards to conduct the movement is also less cumbersome than placing thin cards ahead of the model bases.

And I guess the Death Star Attack scene playing on the TV in the background helped too.

fg and I played the introductory game of two TIE fighters against an X-Wing to get the basics of the games, and when Adrian arrived I managed to teach him the game in minutes, and we squared off with me taking Darth Vader and two TIE fighters against Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles.

Adrian, playing Wedge Antilles, managed to blow up all my fighters by the game's end, including a spectacular one-shot kill on Darth Vader's wing man on his opening shot on the second turn. I was able to shoot the shields off both X-Wings and damage Luke Skywalker's X-Wing, but like my historical counterpart I would come off worse in this encounter.

We all enjoyed the game, and of course we dream of bigger games with more players and ships on-table. The game is rather pricey though, and we reckon we may need another basic set if we are going to get into it heavily, which will in any case give us another set of templates and dice, both of which are helpful.

The other issue is also whether (or rather when and how?) I should decorate my blank black mat to create a star field look...

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dwarf Iron Guards

I acquired these figures the same time I got the other LOTR dwarves you see so often on my blog, but this is the first time you see a photo of them.

I bought the dwarves painted in a lot way back when. Unlike most of the other figures, these Iron Guard figures are metal, and already had many chips on them by the time we started playing Strandhogg regularly. Since I didn't really need them, I just kept them in a box.

A while back, I decided to refurbish them and painted over the chipped parts. Then disaster struck when I decided to protect my work with spray varnish. You can still see the frosting on the edges of the bases.

After that episode, they went back into exile in the box again.

Then yesterday, with nothing left to paint (the Reaper figures I ordered are a full month in the post by now), I took them out and re-painted them again, adding a yellow border on the hem of their surcoats.

I think they look passable now.

I've got 12 dwarven footmen from Red Box Games on order, which when painted will give me something like 80 dwarves. That should be enough to do a dwarven civil war scenario...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gaspez Minotaur complete

At Matt's urging, I decided I push on and complete the Gaspez minotaur.

I think the contrast in the skin tone is mostly due to the lighting - I learnt that it's really quite hard to paint something black under artificial light; I'll have to look at the model again tomorrow to see how it looks like under sunlight.

My favourite view of the model, showing its eye and the curve of its horns.

And here is is posing next to Kord, who will be the warlock for my Hordes Circle Orboros warband. Kord will proxy as Kromac, and the minotaur will be Ghetorix, a giant werewolf who wields an equally giant axe.

Gasthorix and Kormac?

I am now waiting for the arrival of the Reaper figure I plan to paint as Thor for my Norse dwarf faction, as well as a figure I plan to use as Balor...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

WIP 4: Gaspez Minotaur AND Kord completed

No game today, which allowed me (and hopefully the rest of the gang too) to get some painting done.

I'm having some trouble getting the minotaur secured onto its base, but here's a teaser of his eye:

I quite like the look.

I did manage to complete Kord the barbarian, which together with my beastman warchief will proxy as the human and beastman forms of Kromac.

Incidentally, Kord was sculpted by Tre Manor, whose Red Box Games dwarves I love. I ordered a dozen dwarven footmen from his latest kickstarter

Finally, here's the hawk from a Reaper Animals pack which I got for the bear.

 I'm not sure why I decided to paint it. I guess it can be a scenery item or an objective marker.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WIP 3: Gaspez Minotaur

Happily, the resin bases I ordered arrived in the mail today, allowing me to complete my project.

I whittled the putty on the axe shaft to the diameter of the original, and then smoothed it with a file. A couple of drill holes in the resin base, and this is the final product.

I hope to get the model primed and painted over the next two weeks, before my Dystopian Wars Ottoman fleet arrives.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

WIP 2: Gaspez Minotaur and Kord the Destroyer

The Warhammer Minotaur arms and weapons bits that I ordered arrived in the mail today, allowing me to do the next step in my conversion project.

The arms of the Gaspez minotaur are further apart than those on a Warhammer minotaur, so I had to extend the shaft of the axe. To ensure that I have a strong structure, I cut off the middle section of the piece, drilled holes in both ends, and then fitted a steel wire in between. I then applied epoxy to the wire, inserted it into the two pieces, then blu-tac'd the hands onto the main model itself. The telescoping nature of the construct allowed me to adjust the alignment of the two pieces while the epoxy set to ensure that the shaft ended up straight.

The end product was rather long, so I snipped a bit off the end of the shaft, which still gave an eventual length of 7cm, or more than twice the height of a man in scale!

Once the epoxy has set, I needed to build some "meat" around the wire skeleton to match the rest of the shaft with epoxy putty. Rather than sculpting the shaft while the putty is soft, I decided it might be easier to just form a sausage around the skeleton and then shave it down later when it has hardened. I'll let you know how that works out later...

The hands needed a bit of bulking up too.
Also in the package today was the Reaper mini Kord the Destroyer. I got it because I wanted to use my beastman warchief as Kromac in Hordes. Now Kromac is a warlock who has a human form and a beastman form, which meant I needed a human form of my warchief. Using Reaper's Figure Finder, I found and bought Kord, the original form which is shown below.

When the figure arrived, I found that the axe was comically smaller than the one held by my warchief. Well, it can't all be perfect.

I removed all the spikes on the figure, shaved the letter M off his buckle, and decided to take off the nicked dagger in his right hand. The axehead was bent almost 180 degrees onto the shaft when the figure arrived, so I snapped it off and drilled through it, his left hand, then replaced the shaft with a length of wire such that the eventual length of the whole weapon would be the same as the axe held by the warchief, then applied putty to it too.  I also bent the arm at the elbow a little and turned the axehead so it is orientated in a more natural angle so the axis of the blade is in line with the axis of his forearm, and anchored the end of the shaft onto his cloak for stability. It is only now when I am typing this that I realised that I could have placed the axe in Kord's RIGHT hand to better mirror the warchief figure; well, too much trouble to switch it now. Grr.

I epoxied the figure onto a 25mm square base (as the warchief), and then puttied over the integral base on the model and added a piece of cork for terraining.

So when Kromac transforms into his beast form, his axehead also miraculously enlarges, and he turns from being left-handed to being right-handed? Seems legit.
Now to wait for the putty to set overnight. Hopefully the base which I ordered for the minotaur arrives tomorrow and I can move on to the next and final step of the conversion project.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

WIP: Gaspez Minotaur

I don't usually do WIP posts, but the latest model to arrive in my mail is such a neat model, I thought I just had to.

Now I've been looking for a minotaur figure to go with my beastmen force for a while now. It's proven to be quite difficult because it had to have the right head, the right 'clothes', right weapon, right size, and the right price.

When I decided recently to add a few figures to my beastmen to allow me to field them as a Fomorian warband and a Circle Orboros warband in the not-to-distant future, I decided I have to decide.

My choice is this Chaos Minotaur from Gaspez, made for Blood Bowl or other fantasy American football games, and shown here in its original 'green' form.

The head isn't really my "ideal" head for a minotaur - I refer one that is more like a real bull's head - but I really like the horns. The hands come loose, which means I can (and plan to) graft the hands and two-handed axe from a GW minotaur to it. The simple style of his 'dress' fits with the look of my beastmen, which is important for me. It also for some strange reason has Balor's eye on its belt, which sort of sealed the deal for me.

The figure is 6cm tall when assembled, and comes in 9 parts: a head, two horns, the torso, the shoulder plate, two hands, the lower half of the body, and a tail. There are two options for the horns, a pincer-claw and a tentacles option for the hands, and a rear loincloth flap option for the tail.

What is neat about this model is how the parts are "dovetailed" to give a snug fit so you can put it together without pinning. The horns have notches in them that fit to the top of the ears so they not only point in the correct attitude, but are also symmetrical. The tail fits into the butt in a squarish rather than round peg so it orientates the correct way. There is also a large peg on the right hoof of the model, which will help me secure it to a resin base. All in all it is a model designed to make it easy for you to assemble.

In assembling my model I nonetheless decided to make some changes to it.

First of all I decided I would discard the shoulder plate, which has too much of a Blood Bowl feel to it, and sculpt the strap so that it goes completely around the (now bare) shoulder - fortunately for me the sculptor did sculpt the shoulder under the plate. The shoulder plate will go into my bits box and perhaps one day "convert" a non-Blood Bowl figure to a Blood Bowl figure.

I also decided that the tail, while looking dynamic, is really just an accident waiting to happen for a wargames model. In addition, it makes the model hard to store in my newly-made sponge tray. So I clipped the connecting part and positioned it so it has a three-point contact to the model.

Finally, I extended the mane running down the back of the minotaur to its forehead - when I googled about the auroch and Spanish fighting bulls while thinking about a colour scheme I learnt that most bulls have a sort of a forelock.

This is how my model looks so far:

The assembled model, waiting for hands and weapon and a base.

View showing the sculpted forelock and strap.

Detailed view of the direction of the horns. Note also the good detail of the teeth.

Rear view showing how I glued the tail with a three points of contact for more stability.

I now have to wait for the arrival of the hands and weapon bits, as well as a 50mm round base before I can continue the project. Hopefully that will be some time within the next two weeks.