Sunday, 25 October 2020

Zomtober 2020 week 4: I don’t want no scrubs

This year’s big finish for the final week of Zomtober is the cast of Scrubs as zombies, another set from Studio Miniatures:

And now, a number of pictures that mostly show that I need to give the backdrop in my light box a good dusting:

It’s JD, I think they captured his haircut quite well.

It’s Dr Cox! Another good likeness, although admittedly the proportions are a little cartoony.

It’s Bob Kelso, curmudgeonly head doctor man. This sculpt is pretty much the Dr Cox sculpt with a new head and added paunch, one of those details that once you’ve noticed it you can’t unsee it...

Carla! Normally my zombies are all the same shade of grey, but as these sculpts are based on actual people, I tried to paint them to actually reflect their actors rather than whitewash (greywash?) them. I mean, they’re still pretty grey, but you get what I’m shooting for.

Turk! Another slightly bobble headed sculpt, but I absolutely love his expression...

The Todd! This was the additional miniature gotten for purchasing the horde pack, and was an opportunity to both try out another skin tone as well as some wonky freehand (that is supposed to be flames on his bandanna)

Ted! The only two part sculpt in the bunch, his briefcase is a separate tiny part. I really like this sculpt, and it’s not just fondness for the character - I think the pose is so different from the rest that he stands out to me. I may have gone a little too heavy on the blood splat on his shirt in hindsight...

I also painted his briefcase to look like he’d been using it as a weapon, but presumably it wasn’t enough as he finds himself shambling round as a zombie now...

Eliot! Not much to say about this sculpt, other than to remark that I really enjoy grunting up zombie miniatures. I mean, a lot of the time I could probably get away with just basecoat and washing before applying weathering, skipping highlights entirely, and achieve much the same results...

The Janitor! Did he ever have a name? Again, not much to say on the sculpt other than my enjoyment painting the plunger (which reminds me, I must get round to working on my zombie rules again, and write a plunger weapon card...)

Finishing these draws this Zomtober to a close, and brings the Tally to:

42 vs 111 = -69

Also, something that I unusually haven’t done before,  Zomtober totals to date:

2020: 17 zombies, a full Studio Miniatures box set. Hospital themed, including the Scrubs personalities set.

2019: 5 survivors, no theme beyond being all survivors, as well as a belated ‘big finish’ of Alexia and the Risen for Warmachine

2018: Walking Dead themed, 18 zombies and a corpse pole spawn point

2017: 5 Wizard of Oz themed survivors, 2 zombies, and a zombie reindeer for A Song of Ice and Fire

2016: A Song of Ice and Fire themed, 3 White Walkers and 24 wights

2015: my first zomtober, 1 survivor, 4 zombies, 3 spawn points, and a horde base that had 20-something zombies on it!

Zomtober seems to have been dwindling in popularity over the last couple of years, but I pledge to do it again next year, and will continue to post about it on Instagram and Twitter too, in the hopes of encouraging people to join in!

Special shout out to Colgar6 and Miniature Mayhem who have both also been plugging away this year! Disappointingly, if you google search for Zomtober in the last month, I don’t appear in the first few pages of results, but instead several other more popular bloggers appear as they have my posts coming up in their blog rolls! Ah, c’est la vie...

So what’s next? It’s only 10 more minis to hit that one a week average for the year, so watch this space,,,

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Zomtober 2020 week 3: here come the girls

Week three brings the female counterparts to last weeks crop of zeds:

Apologies for the super dark pics - they were even wonkier before I got the light box out!

The zombie on the left being clearly pregnant made me somewhat uncomfortable given the implications, so she was left entirely blood free. The other two were given the usual liberal dousing of gore though!

I went for a variety of colours for their gowns and hair just to add a little visual appeal to the horde (there’s well over a hundred painted zombies in my collection now). You might also notice that out of the over a hundred zombies, the one in the middle is the first of my ‘proper’ zombies (the Walking Dead ones don’t count, I guess?) that has grass on their base. I could claim that again it was to provide some visual appeal and break up the expanse of grey in a horde of bases, but really I spilled water on it and it turned out it wasn’t actually as dry as I thought when I started dry brushing the base, resulting in a chunk of material coming up, leaving me to cunningly disguise it with foliage rather than trying to re-sand it!

As well as completing that particular Studio Miniatures pack, finishing these three (and in a shocking twist of events, for the first time in living memory I finished the miniatures for a Zomtober post during the week rather than midnight the night before the post is due to go up) brings the Tally to:

33 vs 111 = -78

What’s next? Will there be a big finish, or more of a whimper? Tune in next week to find out (hopefully)

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Zomtober 2020 week 2: the boys

 Well, to a certain degree of boys:

More hospital zombies from Studio Miniatures joining the two from last week

Tee hee, zombie butts.

I love the Studio Miniatures zombies, they’re beautiful sculpts, but they sure do love to recycle sculpts with slight details changed. I mean, I know the classic GW Nurgle Champions did the same thing, but with them at least the majority of the model was different rather than just moving the arms and adding a bandage to the head... it’s not a dealbreaker, and not something you’d notice once they’re in the horde, but something that grabs your attention when you’re looking at them in a small batch like this. 

Minor grumbling about sculpts aside, finishing these brings the Tally to:

30 vs 68 = -38

...or at least it would have done if I hadn’t won a competition on the Wargames Foundry Facebook page, where they sent me enough miniatures to destroy any hope of crossing off ‘end the year with the Tally in the positive’ from the Challenge this year:

Once these are factored in, the Tally plummets to

30 vs -81

Which means I’d need to paint (brief pause to do some quick mental maths) exactly one miniature a day for the rest of the year, which while pleasing how exactly it matches might be a tall order, having a full time job, two children, and dare I say it other hobbies too...

Even if I don’t get the Tally back into the positive, I’m still shooting for the ‘average one miniature a week’ goal, which at one miniature every three and a bit days still seems manageable!

So, what’s next? More zombies, of course, and given that I’ve painted two thirds of a pack over the first fortnight, you can probably guess what’s coming next if you’ve been on the Studio Miniatures site... after that, back to making scenery so that I can play Rangers of Shadow Deep, although that doesn’t help with the painting totals challenge... 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Zomtober 2020 week 1: bagged, tagged...

...and ready to frag:

Not that I actually talk like that, but it fit the rhyme scheme...

So, Zomtober is here, the one month of the year where I take a structured approach to my hobby and posting schedule! Sadly, it looks like Zomtober has been in decline in the community over the last few years (looking at various hashtags on Instagram and Twitter reveals... well, not a lot actually). Colgar6 from Colgar6 and the Infinite Legion of Toy Soldiers and the Infinite Legion of Toy Soldiers has vowed to participate, so have a look over there too! Also, they have not posted in several months, so if they don’t make some sort of ‘back from the dead’ pun with their first post that’s a missed opportunity...

This week’s offerings are a couple of bodybag sporting zombies from Studio Miniatures, who were selected as they were the two in the mass of minis I prepped with the least extraneous details, and thus most likely to actually be finished in time for the first post whilst potentially giving me a head start on next week’s painting target too!

Painting these two brings the Tally to:

27 vs 68 = -41

So, over the halfway mark to the goal of finishing 52 miniatures over the course of the year (which the next couple of weeks of Zomtober should hopefully push me towards completion of), but it looks like I won’t be able to make my usual mad dash between Christmas and New Year’s to get the overall Tally score into the positive, as I’ve just won a load of miniatures from Foundry! Expect a pic of me cradling a hamper of miniatures like a newborn in the near future...

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Zomtober 2020 anybody?

 Is anyone else frantically prepping for this year’s zomtober?

It happens every year, before you know it September is ending and that first October Sunday looms!

(On the off chance you’ve not heard of Zomtober, the aim is for bloggers to post at least one zombie related miniature each Sunday in October, and it’s one of the few challenges I do every year!)

Saturday, 29 August 2020

A kobold in the hand is worth two in the bush?

So soon after my last post, I've finished some foliage to block line of sight and generally make my tabletop look a little livelier (modelled here by my daughter's repaint of a Doctor Who miniature): 

I decided I wanted to make some bushes mostly because I felt that it would help fill the table for the second Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario from the rulebook without having to make quite so many trees! 

Like so many terrain projects, inspiration for these came from a Lukes APS video on youtube, except rather than using Brillo pads, I used wire wool (excellent for cleaning paint from paint tiles and blocking mouseholes alike) teased out into interesting shapes and then hot glued to a board base with it's edges bevelled:

In hindsight I should have sanded the edges of the bases down after bevelling them to get a smoother transition to the table, but it will be fine either way...

I made seven bushes overall, ranging from a dinky little poofy bush to great big overgrown out of control hedges - the style I'm going for is those overgrown gorse bushes that if you fell into drunk as a teenager you'd know about it the morning afterwards!

They then (after coating the bases with glue and sand) got spray undercoated black, and the branches got several heavy drybrushes of brown:

The paint must still have been wet in that last picture, as each time I gave them a coat, it would dry to looking almost invisible, as you'll see in the next picture...

There's a saying that goes something like 'proper planning prevents poor performance', which isn't what I did here. In hindsight, I should have finished of the bushes and painted the bases last, so that any overspill could easily be painted over, but instead I drybrushed the bases first (with the usual selection of  Wilko tester pots that I use for painting terrain), as that was something I could do whilst sat watching a movie with my wife. Ingenuity will overcome, though, as when it came time to sprat my bushes with hairspray to stick on the flock, I knocked up this newspaper shield to protect the finished bases.

I mean, it didn't work very well and I abandoned it fairly quickly, but still, it's the thought that counts right?

Then it was just a case of sprinkling on my home made flock with the help of my tiny assistant and using an old brush to brush away any overspill that ended up stuck to the bases:

Home made flock you say? During lockdown, we made flock by bashing together sawdust, paint, water and a little splash of washing up liquid, again following instructions in a Lukes APS video.

We made three shades, so that we could go for that Foundry system style of shade, mid tone and highlight:

The colours were selected mostly by rooting around in my wife's box of acrylic paints, and mixing from what I could scavenge from there! We left them to dry for several days (which wasn't ideal, as I'd used most of the baking trays we own to dry them out on), then bagged it up to await it's time to shine... which took a couple of months more than expected, as having to go back to work put something of a dent in my hobby time!

Which brings us back to the present - here are the bushes with a couple of coats of hairspray and flock:

We started with a light sprinkling of the darkest flock, followed by absolutely dousing it a couple of times in the medium green, before finishing it off with the lightest sprinkling our our yellowish green at the highest points.

Daughter also decided that she wanted to flock the bases of the miniatures she had been painting:

Top tip - paint with your children! Bonding is all well and good, but it's also surprising what ideas you'll pick up! For example, I stole my new method of painting light blond hair (as seen recently on my Rangers of Shadow Deep Tracker) using an incredible pale flesh tone as the base from my five year old, who looked at the paint and decided that was what colour she wanted to use, rather than being bogged down with two decades of 'painting knowledge' and so always painting things the same because it's in your head as the 'right' way to do it...

Then it was just a case of sealing everything so that the flock would stay on! I'd already scavenged a spray bottle with a 'mist' function from work just for this purpose that had originally held spray sanitiser (thanks Covid!), but unfortunately after the first test spray, it stopped misting and instead shout out watered down PVA in a strong jet that knocked flock out of place with wild abandon. Somewhat frustrated, but determined to continue, I instead sprayed the mix onto the back of a spoon so that it could drip down onto the bushes and hopefully not dislodge too much flock:

The advice in the video I watched was to absolutely drench it, for maximum hardiness, but between the spray bottle malfunction and this much wet glue all over it it left me with some bare patches both on the bushes and on the bases:

I did briefly consider going back over the bushes with another layer of flock to cover any sparse areas, but decided against it, as having the occasional bit of exposed thorny branch was entirely within the scope of what I was aiming for, and if anything makes these bushes look less inviting (this is why they block movement rather than just being rough terrain that models can move through at half speed). The flock also dried much lighter than my initial pictures, but I guess that's to be expected, with wet things often looking much darker...

The bases were an easy enough fix though - any bald spots got touched up with the base grey. Weirdly, the highlight had been dulled on them, so they got another drybrushing with the cream tester pot, and then adding some moss and grass to both blend the bushes into the ground to make them look more like part of a living ecosystem, as well as covering any dodgy spots where there was no basing material, or I'd missed a bit when brushing off the loose flock!

And so finished, a bush looks like this:

Job's a good'un!

So, that leaves the checklist of things to complete before playing the first scenario (you'd never guess that I'm an Operations Manager in real life would you) as:

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Bushes
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
  • Treasure tokens (I forgot about this last time I posted, so I'm sneaking it onto the list now)

I'm halfway through making the trees currently, but I might switch gears and work on something else for a bit rather than ploughing through the more labour intensive tree making...

In other news, it's my birthday on Sunday, so feel free to send Blackstone Fortress Expansions, Rangers of Shadow Deep books and Frostgrave miniatures to the usual address!

Friday, 28 August 2020

A hovel to call my own


Here are some buildings that I’ve prepared to be able to play the first Rangers of Shadow Deep scenario (pictured here in the garden, to take advantage of the brief appearance of natural light today - although admittedly it's nearly midnight as I type this, so potentially yesterday by the time you read this!).

I knew that I had a Perry plastic building tucked away awaiting building - word of advice, don't get distracted messaging a friend about how productive you're being and accidentally glue one of the walls on upside down:

(don't worry, I noticed soon enough to be able to fix it before the glue dried!)

but knew that I'd need more than just the one building, so set about digging out the raw materials to make some of my own:

Making everything from scratch is all well and good, but these were planned as a quick project to get playing as soon as possible (although admittedly, I only finished them four months later, but that's neither here nor there), so I decided to take the shortcut route and essentially decorate a pre-made box to cut some corners:

A box of fruit tea was the basis for my house, and an oxo cube box was the basis of my smaller shack. 

Ordinarily, I'd have used that much beloved crafting material of coffee stirrers, but unfortunately we were mid pandemic lockdown, and so I didn't have ready access to any bar the half a dozen or so I already had in the house, which I knew wouldn't be enough. By a stroke of luck, I discovered that I did in fact have a bag full of tongue depressors, which it turned out were about three times the width of a coffee stirrer, and so I was able to (with somewhat mind numbing repetitiveness) cut down some suitable replacements:

Then it was just a case of sticking bits to the boxes to make them look like little houses!

I spent some time looking at various different styles of medieval houses on Pinterest for inspiration, but rather than slavishly striving for realism largely winged it.

I decided that I wanted the shack to be completely timber, rather than just being a smaller version of the main house, and had great fun putting in wonky and broken slats to give it a real ramshackle look.

After placing my first few timbers, I realised that something was missing, and that despite actually being made of wood, my beams just didn't look... wooden! So I set about adding more steps to the process, individually weathering each beam with a wire brush, knife and files to give it some texture that I hoped would later lend itself to drybrushing.

I also added some windows using trimmed down pieces of matchstick:

For the roof, I fell back on my secondary school education and knocked up a net (complete with attachment tabs):

And who says you never use anything you learned in school? Apparently I didn't take any more pictures of these steps, but despite the lack of step by step evidence I added some braces to keep it vaguely straight, glued on the roof, and decorated the sides with more faux coffee stirrers to match the rest of the house:

Now, the thatch! Many years ago, I picked up an offcut of fake fur whilst trailing round after my wife in a fabric shop (although this was so long ago that she was potentially only my fiancée or girlfriend at this point) which I then dutifully stored away waiting for the right time to use it.

I carefully measured and cut out my fur, before attaching it to the existing cardboard rooves of my miniature buildings:

Brief side note - it was at this stage that I allowed some realism to creep into the project, and figured that the roof on the shack should probably be angled to allow rain to run off of it, rather than a flat roof that would probably pool water and rot the thatch, so I knocked up a shallow angle using more faux coffee stirrers:

At this point, having never made teddy bear fur thatch before, I had some concerns that I was about to ruin everything that I'd achieved thus far, so spent some time trawling various blogs and tutorials to prepare myself as best as I could. The sum total knowledge I gained was pretty much 'douse it in glue, shape it, let it dry', so I cracked on. (Also, re-reading this before posting, I seem to have neglected to mention that I textured the walls by carefully stippling filler on between the beams, so I'll just tuck this here!)

Here they are before their sticky bath:

(with 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist' playing in the background, which reminds me that I don't think we ever watched the last episode while it was still available...)

and after:

I went for three ridges of thatch on the house for no other reason than I'd seen someone else do it while I was preparing for it. In hindsight, it's a bit much, but not so much that I'd consider ripping it off and starting again...

Then came painting! All the buildings (both homemade and Perry plastic) got a coat of poundland rattlecan black, and then the wood was drybrushed various shades of Wilko tester pot grey. The fences that came with the Perry house also got the same treatment, but it seems I didn't take any pictures of that, so you'll have to believe me when I tell you that they did, and then were finished off with more drybrushing, this time with much more expensive GW paints. The walls themselves got a coat of a creamy coloured Wilko tester pot, that didn't cover particularly well with a single coat, but that actually added to the effect I think!

The shack on the other hand got plenty of drybrushing in brown and tan to bring out the texture in the wood, before the thatch getting similar treatment from tan up to cream. 

Then it was just a case of adding some Vallejo smoke to dirty up the walls and make them look lived in, and they were finished:

(the hanging curtain in place of a door on the shack was inspired by flicking through my copy of  'How to make Wargames Terrain', and was a dried out and cut down baby wipe glued into place, shaped and then soaked in watered down PVA).

Excitingly, this is the first thing this year that lets me cross something off of the Challenge:

  • Finish something  old
  • Finish a piece of terrain
  • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box
  • Paint all of the miniatures in a boxed game
  • Play a board game with fully painted miniatures
  • Finish a complete skirmish force for a project (at least 16 miniatures, unless it's for a much smaller scale game like Batman)
  • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
  • Convert a miniature and show WIP pic
  • Finish the last member of the Nextwave team
  • Complete the classes project (potentially adding the races from the Players Handbook to the mix)
  • Add at least 4 entries to the Monstrous Alphabet Project
  • Average at least a miniature a week by the end of the year (so, paint 52 miniatures)
  • End the year with the Tally in the positive!

So, where next? While I've got a couple of ruined buildings that my DM gave me a while back that could step in to bulk up these one, I've got an idea for a relatively quick (famous last words) build that would also amuse me, so I'll se how far I get with that. I need some foliage, and since the second scenario requires trees, I might as well make some now to use in the first scenario too, which will reduce the workload needed before I can play the second scenario too! I'd also like to make some scatter terrain for a bit of character too, like a cart, well and woodpile, as well as needing to paint some of the ubiquitous wargames crates and barrels that conveniently get left in places that block line of sight and make for a more tactical experience than brawling in an open field.

So, things to do, in no particular order:

  • Mystery additional structure
  • Bushes
  • Trees
  • Cart
  • Well
  • Woodpile
  • Crates and barrels
  • a playing surface!
Plus, my wife and I watched Hamilton last week, so I've been hungrily perusing the Perry American War of Independence range, fighting the urge to start yet another project when this one is actually getting to the point where I might be able to play a game!