Saturday 31 December 2011

2011 in review, and looking forward to the future...

Well, a year in already! (well, technically the blog is a year old tomorrow, but let's not quibble over details). 9,368 page views is a pretty respectable amount, especially considering the fact that I had a slump that lasted a couple of months and meant no new posts...

Looking back at the projects listed in my original post, we can make a breakdown of productivity for the past year:

Zombies: Miniatures painted, rules lost in laptop debacle.
Three Kingdoms: No progress made, still not a single finished figure.
Firefly: Three miniatures painted.
Strange Aeons: the project that got the most love, I now have just enough miniatures to actually start playing some games! I loaned the rulebook to one of the guys at work though, so I probably won't get a game in for a little while...
Doctor Who: Bits done here and there, but still not enough to play an actual game (although if I could just focus for long enough, I should have enough miniatures to play the Canary Wharf scenarios...)
VSF: no progress made, not even on the converted miniatures that sit mocking me in their drawers...
AEWWII: dead project. The only miniature I have on the go for this is a Captain America, and I can't yet bring myself to paint all the tiny white stars on his shield. There's some Tamiya tanks in a box for this project though, so I might get round to building and painting them eventually.
Warmachine: I sometimes take these miniatures out of their drawers and boxes, sigh, and then pack them away again.
Anima Tactics: Pretty much the same as Warmachine, I've four or five half painted miniatures that just don't grab my attention when I'm choosing what to work on.
Evil Genius/7tv: Only two finished miniatures so far, but tons more to come...
Marvel Superheroes: Percentage-wise, one of the most expanded projects. It's probably the fact that each part is only a single miniature, which is so different to everything else in my collection, that keeps me interested.
GW: combining all the projects into one, we get: blah. Yes, that's a giant in the picture. No, he probably won't get painted next year either.


Well, I'm not swearing off GW completely, I'm still halfway through painting my Blood Bowl team, planning to paint a max-size unit of Dwarf Slayers, epic Zombieslayer-inspired Undead army (I've got Kemmler, Krell and the Wyvern) as well as being tempted by Skaven, but who knows what I'll actually get done.

As far as new projects go, it's the generic fantasy that is the biggest, and most likely to get other bits added to it, purely due to it's breadth, and my inability to focus on an particular thing for more than a week or so.

As it's the last day of the year, it's the last time we see the tally looking like this:

122 vs 295 = -173

before we reset to zero tomorrow. Hurrah! Although I kinda wish I'd bought a load of miniatures to go on this tally rather than next year's, since this one was already beyond redemption...

Looking forward to next year, there's a number of new projects I'm considering starting. I'm loving Halo at the minute, and so quite fancy repainting some Heroclix for that. Star Wars is a project that's been nipping at my imagination for some time now, primarily due to the number of plastic prepaints I own - I think it reveals something about my character though that I haven't yet started the project because I don't have enough miniatures to make a detachment of Stormtroopers as described in the old miniature battles book - despite the fact that I'm unlikely to ever need a detachment, and the fact that if I started painting a detachment I'd rapidly get bored and wander off to do something else. Gundam and Evangelion would be awesome to do too, but luckily the fact that they're not in God's True Scale has stopped me from starting either of those (yet). Ooh, and Planet of the Apes - I could use survivor miniatures from the Zombie project for this, meaning I'd only need to convert and paint various chimps, gorillas and orangs armed with makeshift spears... well, an expansion of a project doesn't count as a new project surely?

I might need to do something to sort out my productivity too. These days, I have a couple of drawers of miniatures in various stages of completion, and spend almost as much time going through minis choosing what to paint as I do actually painting, which combined with the fact that what I fancy painting changes from session to session results in how rarely I ever actually complete a miniature (the Christmas Zombies posted recently were the fist time I'd painted something in one session in longer than I can remember). A few years back, when I was just starting my AEWWII project, I had a system. I had three tiny trays (that were originally dividers in the box I store most of my paints in), each probably 2x3". I'd only paint what was on one of those trays, and couldn't start something new until I'd cleared a space by completing something else. Each tray could hold maybe three miniatures at a push, and you'd be amazed at the number of miniatures I finished purely because I'd just bought something else that I really couldn't wait to paint. Admittedly, I don't think I have the willpower to be that strict with myself these days, but it's something to consider...

Friday 30 December 2011

Back online, but only just...

So yeah, back online, but alas my laptop is now empty - no music, no pictures, no pdfs of obscure Gundam wargame rules...

Also, no rules for my zombie game that I'd been working on on and off for the last two years (I did originally start them in a notebook, but soon transferred to the laptop, thinking it would never fail me...)

Olly is sad.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Christmas treats and bad news...

Only one miniature in the Christmas haul this year, and that was the White Dwarf subscribers' mini. It's my first Finecast miniature, and I'm frankly terrified of it (it looks and feels weird...) but I'm sure I'll get over it. We still have 'Christmas 2' to do (where we see Mother's side of the family), but for now that puts the tally on:

122 vs 295 = -173

And now the bad news: my laptop, having not been used since before Christmas, now refuses to start. Bugger. So much for trying to blog on a more regular basis...

Saturday 24 December 2011

Just in time for Christmas...

So yeah, I knew Christmas was coming, and due to my super-preparedness prepped some minis ready for a festive post.
Due to generally otherwise being busy though, I only actually got round to painting them today:

Studio Miniatures' Christmas set, which I think I bought for the Christmas before last... and yes, I know, I really need to get a new pot of TCR, this one's seen better days...

Which leaves the tally looking like this:

122 vs 294  = -172

In other news, I finally got around to seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes today, which set my mind to buzzing with ideas for converting chimps holding various bits of police riot gear; it's lucky I couldn't find any suitable miniatures straight away or next year's tally would already be taking a hit...

Well, that's the last post before Christmas, so I hope Santa brings everyone the toys they're hoping for, and if I don't post again before then, I hope New Year's is good for you all too.

Friday 9 December 2011

Foundry goodies!

Arrived home from work today to find a pile of parcels outside my door, which opened into (amongst other things) this:

Yes, I couldn't help myself , I took advantage of Foundry's one day sale on the Kevin Dallimore books (oh the eye candy!) and used that as an excuse to pick up a couple of Flesh triads I'd had my eyes on for a while.

Also, I helped a nice man (Mr Marx) who was having a bit of a clearout, and took the bits in the middle off his hands. And yes, there's a miniature in there, which takes the tally to:

118 vs 294 = -176

Thursday 8 December 2011

Kung fu, discourse and lighting...

So, after claiming the end of radio silence... nothing for a while. 

I blame a multitude of factors: moving house, halo 2, and in some cases the fact that I've been staring at certain half-painted miniatures for long enough that I'm considering thowing them away and buying new, exciting, shinier ones (and yes, I realise that the sensible option would be to take them from half-painted to fully painted, but hey, sometimes your brain just wants to make excuses to buy new miniatures).

Despite all this, after a period of approximately eight hours of procrastination today (during which I watched several episodes of Adventure Time, drank several coffees, and went out for several cigarettes, so it's arguably not technically a wasted day) I managed to actually finish some miniatures:

A couple of dudes from Black Hat that will serve various roles - the sorceror type I see as being an ally for Conan (since I'm sure there should be at least one non-evil magic user in the universe), but can also slot into the generic fantasy project (like most anything else that gets the conan tag); whereas the martial artist is a monk for the 'paint a miniature for each dungeons and dragons class' that I shamelessly stole from EvilCartoonist and then didn't really do anything with, as well as being able to stand in as a martial artist for 7tv...

Onto the discourse part of the title: there are many miniatures I want, and many projects I want to start. I have a terrible problem with considering every movie I see and every game I play in terms of what 28mm miniatures I could buy to use for it, but never actually finish anything as I've lready started two more projects. I rewatched Sucker-punch and started planning conversions, I'm playing Halo 2 at the minute and planning on repainting some clix (after christmas though, let's hope Santa brings me a brick). I think I've found the secret though, the answer to my problem: 'give it a week'. After a week, I'll have either lost interest, or discovered another three things I want to do, or actually be considering starting something as a project. But even then, it's likely another week will pass before I actually start anything, as I'll have been distracted by something else shiny.

And so, onto the final part of the title: we need better lights in the Craft Room. That was it.

Which, as usual, brings us to:

118 vs 293 = -175

There are 23 days left of the year. If I painted 7.6 miniatures a day every day, I could end up with a score of -1. I've painted two miniatures in the last month, and truth be told they were already more than halfway done. I've said it before and I'll say it again, roll on the new year clock reset!

Tuesday 29 November 2011

End of short period of radio silence

So, it's been all quiet for a while now, due mostly to moving house. The bulk of the back-breaking, soul-destroying part is over, but currently my desk looks like the picture (normally I'd put it next to the relevant piece of text, but I can't see a way to do that on my iPhone...)

Also worth noting is the sheer amount of stuff - a lot of stuff went into storage, but these boxes of games and whatnot are the ones I thought I'd need in the next six months, much to Nicole's consternation...

And, in the interest of full disclosure, of course more miniatures have arrived since the last post, 7 in fact, leaving the tally at:

116 vs 293 = -177

Rapidly running out of year, I think it's safe to say I won't be back in the positives until the clock resets with the new year...

Sunday 6 November 2011

Reaching my Threshold...

Scott Pilgrim references aside, I managed to paint my Threshold Team for Strange Aeons:

These badboys were bought at Salute, a mere six months ago (which is probably a record turnaround time from purchase to painted for me). I'll probably run the capped chap as an Agent with Lieutenant, and the two officers as Civilians with pistols and clubs (their truncheons!)  [and yes, I did remember to go back and paint in the capped chaps teeth after taking this picture...]

This chap however, whilst also being from Artizan, was actually bought a while before the others, and was originally intended to be the basis of a Captain Jack Harkness conversion. However, before I'd managed to make any progress, Crooked Dice released a rather spiffy not-Jack, so I based this chap on a lipped base and boom, a lick of paint later we have a Cthulhu-fighting Character that's also a bit of a lush (hey, it's thematic, I'll probably give him Morphine in-game...)

Which means (shock horror) I've actually got enough minis to play a game! As long as an opponent has enough minis to provide the other force... although I'm getting there on that front too:

It's not been all focused today though, as I also painted this:

An Operative type chap to chase down any naughty types in Firefly games. He'll probably be run using souped-up Swashbuckler stats, as reinforcements for the purple-bellies (just as soon as I get round to painting them...). He was originally a Star Wars miniature of some sort (a Genohadran assassin I think, but don't quote me on that) that had sat undercoated in one of the WIP drawers for god knows how long, and I thought it was high time he actually got some paint on.

So, with that little lot finished the tally looks like this:

116 vs 286 = -170

Creeping back in the right direction, but I don't for a second think that I'm going to end the year in the positive  (short of selling a ton of minis or taking time off from work to paint morning noon and night), I think a more realistic goal would be aiming to finish better than -150...

Saturday 29 October 2011

Blood Bowl Human Team Coach conversion

 So, there I was the other day, so eager to start painting my Mighty Zug that I couldn't even wait for it to be spraying conditions. So I decided to brush undercoat him. Now, I don't know when the last time you brush undercoated a miniature was, but it's got to be a couple of years for me. And it takes ages. And ages. And then you have to go back and re-undercoat the bits that didn't get hit properly the first two or three times round. He's had a couple of passes with the brush, but there are still bits that need another looking at, which somewhat killed my enthusiasm.

Determined to try and keep at least some sort of forward momentum thought, tonight I thought I'd have a crack at a simple conversion I'd been thinking about for a little while: a coach for the team.

Taking an Empire Engineer as my base model:

I carefully cut away his gun (which goes straight in the bits box, waste not want not and all that):

I then sanded down any remnants of the gun in the hand, paying special attention to the pistol grip, and making sure I left a nice flat surface either side of his hand for the next step, attaching a scroll from the Mordheim accessories sprue:

A little liquid Green Stuff was applied to smooth the pistol grip into the scroll: (apologies for the terrible picture, my iPhone doesn't seem to like extreme closeups...)

And, we're done! Wait, why stop there? Thinking he needed to look a little bit more like a Blood Bowl coach rather than just 'weaponless engineer holding scroll', I sanded off the engineer symbol from the medallion round his neck and painted on a football using liquid Green Stuff. I literally painted on the rough shape, building up a couple of layers to give it more depth, before smoothing it down with a damp brush and then tidying the edges with my knife:

And anyway, every good Blood Bowl coach needs to be smoking a fat cigar, right? I drilled a tiny hole between two of his fingers, glued in a teensy bit of paperclip, and then gave it a once-over with some more liquid Green Stuff to fatten it up, which brings us to the finished mini:

Well, I say finished, I'll probably give him a once over with a file once the Green Stuff has dried just to sharpen it up a little bit, especially on the Green Stuff I used to tidy up the ends of the scroll, but other than that he's ready to join the basing queue...

As a slight diversion, here's a quick picture of what I have to look at whilst I'm working at my desk:

Yup, right in my face is drawers full of unpainted models, taunting me. I usually aim to empty a WIP drawer completely before adding anything new to it, but it usually ends up with me emptying just enough space for the next thing (and even then it's usually a close call...)

Olly's final thought: don't download Dungeon Raid on your iPhone. It eats time. You'll never accomplish anything else ever again.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Plasma Gun Cyberman conversion

Having once again decided to be easily distracted, I decided now was the right time to crack on with work on some Cybermen for Doctor Who. Flipping through my copy of 'The Battle for Canary Wharf', I saw that I'd need at least 8 cybermen, 1 cyber-leader, and a cyberman with a plasma gun. Well, that just won't do, I'll want a couple of cyber-leaders, a cyber controller, and enough bits left over to convert Lumic in his chair, the damaged cyberman under stonehenge, and a cybershade (but more on those in later posts). I set to cutting various rubbery Micro Universe cybermen off of their chunky bases and scraping at mouldlines, pondering all the while what I should do about the cyberman with the plasma gun.

Should it be built into his arm? Should it be separate? This is where research comes in handy folks, rather than just racking your brain (which is my usual approach) - cue a quick rewatch of the relevant episodes:

In the episode Doomsday, we see them wielding what basically looks to be Mickey's blaster:

Cheap as chips prop recycling it may be, but it's handy for me as that means I have the perfect donor, the Micro Universe Mickey figure - a few careful cuts and a bit of shaving and we have one plasma gun, with the hand left in place (we'll be attaching it to it's new owner later - and don't worry, Mickey's body won't go to waste, he'll eventually become zombie terrain):

[apologies for the iPhone photos, it was to hand and I didn't want to lose momentum getting out the proper camera]
Two quick jabs with a pin and the gun has a barrel. Now, for the cyberman itself, I used a cyber-controller, as I seem to have more of those than basic cybermen - a few quick snips and some light filing gets rid of the ports on his chest and shoulders and voila, he's been downgraded to a normal cyberman.
As things stand, he'd look a bit silly holding a rifle with his arm outstretched, so boom, off comes his arm:

The newly separated arm gets chopped at the elbow so that we can reposition it, and since we've already got a hand moulded onto the gun, we don't need that any more either. In order to get the arm to fit onto the gun better, a little bit of material is shaved off the inside forearm, and it is then glued into place:

Once that hand's painted silver it'll fit right in.
Unfortunately there aren't any pictures of the next few steps, as most of my time was taken up with holding bits together, having a look, then moving something and trying again. But basically, what I did was this:

Remove some material from the gun wielding arm at the elbow (from both pieces potentially) so that it can be positioned against the body (cue lots of fiddling and general having a play). Only remove a little bit at a time - you can always go back and shave off a little more, but it's a lot harder to stick back on if you cut off too much!

After a lot of fiddling and swearing at pots of superglue that kept falling over, I had this:

Huzzah, he's holding a plasma gun like in the episode! Anything more than a fleeting glance though, and you realise he looks a bit silly, and thus cut off his head so that it can be repositioned to look in the direction his gun is pointing...

At this point I was on a bit of a roll, and as you can see I cut a V-shaped wedge out of the inner elbow of his other arm, so that I could bring it up to look less like it's just hanging there...

And with that, we have one cyberman with a plasma gun. Just the rest to do now... and Lumic in his control chair (I'm envisioning lots of guitar string)... and the cybershade...

Also, the tally has changed since the last post:

111 vs 286 = -175 - I finally got me a Mighty Zug, who's currently having a nice bath in the stripping pot...

Thursday 13 October 2011

11th Doctor, companion, and some more D&D...

Painting, I have been (apologies for the more crap than usual pictures):

The 11th Doctor, ready to join his two predecessors that I'd previously painted. Nicole (my previously alluded to young lady) had a look at all three together:

and judged them somewhat harshly: 'the ninth one's rubbish, it looks nothing like Christopher Eccleston. But it might just be your painting...'. She's lucky I love her so much. She also complained that the 11th Doctor looked like a zombie, but in my defence I hadn't finished painting him at that point (and yes, that second anecdote was added when she leant over and complained that her complaints had not been properly noted).

But what's the Doctor without a companion? (other than more interesting, if the tail-end of the tenth Doctor's run is anything to go by)

The Heresy Amy Pond. I love Karen Gillan, but I really hated painting this mini's face (and yes, as soon as this post is up I'm going to go back and fix the smudge under her eye). But with the pair of them painted up, it means I can do things like this:

On the non-Who front, I've finished a trio of miniatures:

A gaoler type from Heresy. Don't ask why he's based on a square base, or exactly what I was trying to achieve with his basing, as I think I originally started this particular miniature somewhere in the region of three years ago, before there even was a dnd project, when I bought the miniature because I fondly remembered the intro adventure to my generation's 'Red Box', the 'Black Box With A Big Red Dragon On The Front', where your character wakes up in Zanzer Tem's dungeon under the baleful glare of a fat gaoler...

The other two finished miniatures are an unlikely pair of bedfellows:

A Dwarf Fighter, originially a Heroquest mini, that was a bit of a nightmare to paint as some of the detail was a bit stretched (apparently back in the old days all plastic miniatures suffered from this, due to the limitations of technology at the time - sometimes we forget how spoiled for quality we are these days...)

And a Goblin Sneak (well, I guess he can be a Rogue for now, until I sort out a proper Rogue mini...), that was originally a character figure from Mage Knight Dungeons. Odds on if I ever play Keep on the Shadowfell he'll make a funny little Splug stand-in...

Well, that little lot brings the tally to:

111 vs 285 = -174. All I need to do is sell 175 miniatures and I'll be back in the positive! Or, more realistically, wait until the New Year for the count to reset to zero...

Plans for the near future include cybermen. Lots of cybermen. However, if I can't get the last couple I need for conversions, or if said conversions are less fun than I envision, it's entirely likely that plans for the near future will include Judge Dredd (because Dirty Frank in 2000AD at the minute is the best it's ever been), my Blood Bowl Team (Humans if I can finally get a Mighty Zug, or maybe Orcs, since I just saw an awesome Orc Coach conversion over on another blog using a Games Day miniature that I'm sure I own), or maybe even something like some of the Firefly project miniatures I keep getting out of boxes, looking at lovingly, and then carefully putting back away...

Sunday 9 October 2011

Century: 2011

No, it's not an Alan Moore themed post, it's my 100th painted miniature of the year:

A generic sand monster! Originally a Mage Knight mini, lots of drybrushing took me up to a hundred painted miniatures for the year, ready to stomp all over prospective heroes. He's a bit boring though, so I painted a bunch more too:

A snake (originally a dnd prepaint), because Conan spends an inordinate amount of time battling mundane foes!

A giant frog, nature's deadliest predator! (hee hee, look at his funny eyes, and imagine that I'd managed to take a better picture that made the skintone look less flat...)

A Grenadier zombie that I picked up for pennies out of a little bucket on em4's stand at Salute!

A pair of zombies, taking my painted total to 74. The chap on the left is Ken, an old Partizan giveaway, and the surfer dude on the right is from Hasslefree. I like the fact that he's wearing a shark-tooth necklace that has obviously failed to protect him from shark attacks...

And last but not least, my favourite mini of this batch, a snakeman! Originally a Clan Wars Naga Abomination, he'll make a good Conan villain (even though fighting snakemen was always more Kull's thing, but hey, they had Thulsa Doom in the old Arnie movie...)

With that little lot added to the tally, we come to:

106 vs 285 = -179

Still no Mighty Zug (why do people keep bidding the amount he costs new on old grotty ones on eBay?) so no more progress on the Blood Bowl team, so I might see if I can get a Threshold team painted up for Strange Aeons. But, then again, every time I say I'm going to focus on a particular project the following blog posts are as eclectic as ever... And also, a series of Doctor Who has just finished, which is usually when I actually get Who minis painted...

Sunday 2 October 2011

Adeptus Titanicus on ebay!

So, having a bit of a clearout I've listed a couple of bits on eBay, the only one of which most of you will likely be interested in being the following:

The old long Out of Print Adeptus Titanicus game. I'm sad to see it go, but realistically, I'm probably never going to start an epic project (I prefer God's true scale, after all) - despite the loveliness that is all the little different plastic weapons:

For full details (and to bid!) see the listing at:

Saturday 1 October 2011

Monsters of rock!

Now let's see how many hits the blog gets from people searching for 80's metal compilations... (although in other news, I've had two hits on the blog from the search term "obscene miniature figure". What are people searching for?)

So yeah, my plan to remain focused on finishing my Blood Bowl team didn't exactly pan out. I ended up flipping through the rulebook, did some quick mental maths, and then realised that I'd planned to include the Mighty Zug in my team, a miniature that I do not own. So, onto the back burner they go until I can find a reasonably price copy of the Zug mini (although I'm impressed at the guy selling it on eBay at £14.99, more than double the price it's available at direct from Games Workshop...)

In distracting myself from painting fantasy football players, I made a start on some of the minis that got hit with undercoat last week (because I think I'm subconsciously sabotaging myself into having more half-painted miniatures than finished or bare metal combined...), and this beast was the only one that got finished. He was originally a miniature for Mage Knight Dungeons, and was great fun to paint (basecoat, drybrush, wash, go out for a coffee and a cigarette, drybrush, drybrush, drybrush, finishing). He's the first mini finished for my new Conan project, but as Conan's always fighting generic fantasy weirdies, most things for the project can also pull double duty in the dnd project.

On the Conan front though - my original plan was to paint up a few bits and bobs here and there as I worked my way through the Complete Chronicles of Conan, ordering and converting miniatures as the fancy took me story by story. However, I've since finished the entire thing (it was hard to put down, what can I say), and I still don't have a Conan mini! I'm tempted by some of the Reaper ones, but nowhere in the UK seems to keep them in stock...

And as usual, I've been buying things. You may recall a post or so back I mentioned my desire to start an old-school undead army based on the novel Zombieslayer? [well, old-school for me is mid-nineties, I'm only a youngster] - The first few bits arrived during the last week:

Kemmler, Krell, and some of the old skeleton horsemen, which came complete with their original box:

Ahh, the old box design, how I miss thee... I'm torn with Krell, whether to remove the back banner (because it looks silly - how does he get through doors?) or leave it on out of a sense of completeness...

Also arriving in the last week was this little bundle:

"10 human arab style figures", bought via eBay from a chap over on the LAF, as although they're a bit dinky, they'll do quite nicely as one-hit wonders for Conan to punch out. I quite fancy trying the Foundry Dusky Flesh Triad (and they've even got a sale on currently!) but the £8 postage pretty much forces you to buy £80 worth of stuff in order to get free shipping (and it seems they don't do 2000AD miniatures singly any more, only in packs of three...)

Inevitably, we come to the tally:

99 vs 285 = -186, which admittedly is a step in the wrong direction...