Sunday 29 January 2023

‘Was that a helicopter?’

For the first scenario in my Last Days campaign, I decided that I needed to model a crashed helicopter, as the sort of thing that a newly formed group of survivors might find themselves investigating whilst searching for supplies in the early days of the zombie apocalypse.

Handily, I already had a toy helicopter that I’d cut in half:

This was bought from the poundshop so long ago that it actually only cost a pound. Showing how long I’ve had this for, when I cut out a chunk to make it look slightly buried in the ground, I found that past me had used rizla packet to cover some holes, and I’ve not been a smoker for at least twelve years, suggesting that this broken toy has moved house with me at least three times:

On the other hand, it’s proof to my wife that I will eventually get round to finishing of all those half-finished projects.

So, having cut and sanded away a chunk of the undercarriage, I mounted it to a base cut from my usual scrap board:

and then started building up some ground around it using chunks of cork.

I love cork, it’s lightweight, easily cut, and will also make nice looking rocks wherever I leave it poking out of the ground.

To further build up the ground, to make it look like the crashing helicopter ploughed into the ground rather than just sitting flat atop it, I built up around the helicopter with some filler:

The helicopter’s tail got it’s own base, and had the ground level around it built up more on one side than the other to make it look like it had slid along as it buried itself in the ground:

Once I was happy with how that looked, it was onto detailing! Being a toy, there were a number of screw holes that needed filling - where there was only a void behind some holes, I glued in a little chunk of cork first to give the filler something to butt up against. I wasn’t overly fussed about getting a smooth finish on these cover-ups, as I figured that since I was making a wreck any imperfections would only add to the overall effect once I got to the weathering stage. 

Many years ago when I first chopped this toy in half, I’d put some tube and sprue into the tail piece, to make it look like some internal structures existed that had snapped in the crash, so now I needed to do the same with the hole in the main body of the helicopter. 

Fun fact - lollies don’t come with plastic tubes as their sticks any more, instead coming on a paper stick that is no use when you’re trying to make a miniature tube. Handily, being a terrible pack rat like most wargamers, I had one of the old style ones from at least a decade ago still: 

Which I used to make some broken pipes and a broken rotor housing (as the toy rotor blades had apparently disappeared at some point in the distant past, I figured they’d likely have sheared off in the crash so I could get away with just having a damaged housing for them rather than having to carve some replacements out of plasticard).

I also added some plastic girder (that came with a Fenris Games kit) and distressed some sprue with a pair of pliers to give a suitably mechanical appearance.

Speaking of things that had gone missing at some point, the ski foot thing on the helicopter was also nowhere to be found, so I bent up some leftover model spearshafts to make it look like the legs had bent and snapped in the crash:

Fun fact, after finishing this project I found the exact same part from one of my son’s toy helicopters that I could have scavenged for this if only I’d found it a day earlier, but isn’t that always the way.

Building complete, I slathered the base on my usual textured paint (which is going surprisingly well considering I made it a couple of years ago and it’s been living in a sauce pot ever since), and then once that was dry went back over the piece adding sand and stones to give greater depth and texture:

Then it was time for painting! Big brushes and a simple colour scheme was the plan here, as I knew I was going to weather the bejesus out of it. As there was a lot of deep lined detail on the toy, I figured I go and panel line it as if it was a proper model kit:

Which turned out looking alright, so I was pleasantly surprised. 

I opted for a pale bluey grey, as I figured it was generic enough that I might be able to use this terrain piece more than once, and painted the panel on the tail blue to give it a little pop of colour. I also added a transfer from an old Bretonnian transfer sheet, which has got huge mileage over the years providing me with a variety of generic items and patterns that I’ve used on pretty much everything other than what they were originally intended for.

Then it was a case of weathering, weathering and more weathering! Silver brown and black in various amounts combine to make it look like this crash was a real doozy (even if realistically a crash like this would likely have a few scrapes if it had landed relatively intact, but allow me some artistic license):

And voila, that’s it ready for my survivors to scavenge for supplies!

Sunday 15 January 2023

The Last of Us…

 …if by us, you mean the last of the miniatures I need to start playing a Last Days campaign:

All from Hasslefree, taking inspiration from characters from The Last of Us and The Walking Dead. Fun fact, my daughter was impressed that I’d painted the same design on the shirt of a miniature as was on the shirt of a shark man on Dance Monsters, the Netflix show she was watching this morning.

My not-Michonne is a conversion too, as I couldn’t decide whether to use the samurai sword or the assault rifle arm, so decided to go for both! Don’t look too closely at the hand holding the gun, glueing that tiny contact point was a bit of a pickle.

I also used my second favourite of the available backpack options, as I wanted to use the more backpack like one to make another loot token at some point in the future…

In terms of painting, they’ve come out rather dark haven’t they? Given the subject matter, I’m not super unhappy about that though. One thing that could have come out better was not-Joel’s shirt - there is a checkered brown pattern on the green shirt, that you can only really see if you get it about an inch away from your eyes. Ah well, done is done though, and I can start playing games now!

And so, a group shot:

You see from the other members of the group why I needed to paint some additional miniatures to give myself some firepower! 

The premise for the group is that when things went south, my Leader (and the helper monkey he’d been training - so sue me, I like Y: the Last Man) booked it out of the city to a farm where the young lady in pink at the back of the group had been taking a course to wait out the apocalypse, picking up a motley crew of hangers-on along the way.

So, the first finished miniatures of the year sets the Tally to:

3 vs 0 = +3

Up next, a specific piece of scenery for the first scenario in my Seasons campaign, hopefully…

Sunday 1 January 2023

2022 in review

Ah, the annual post where I look back at the year just gone by, and compare what I thought I’d be doing in the previous year’s review post to what actually happened!


Thanks to the usual last minute scramble to get stuff painted, 2022 ended up on:

85 vs 85 = +0

Which while technically not a positive result, isn’t a negative so I’m still calling it a win. 

Twelve years of stats:

2022: 0 (85 painted)

2021: +16 (52 painted)

2020: -100 (47 painted)

2019: +3 (46 painted)

2018: +52 (52 painted)

2017: -14 (47 painted)

2016: -287 (56 painted)

2015: -96 (59 painted)

2014: 0 (80 painted)

2013: -416 (25 painted)

2012: -103 (68 painted)

2011: -173 (122 painted)

That’s the most miniatures I’ve painted in a year since the very first year I started blogging, which is an impressive achievement! I think the secret to big numbers is batch painting, but I just don’t enjoy that as much as I do faffing around with individual miniatures, so who knows whether we’ll match or surpass this number next year…


At least one post every month bar April last year, and that I think was because I was chugging away batch painting an entire unit of Skavenslaves, which I didn’t finish until June (and the two posts in May were single minis). March had the highest number of posts, but that’s because I had Covid and so played a bunch of solo games of Frostgrave…

Last year’s Challenge

As ever, the Challenge was largely ignored, in favour of projects that I was actually doing. 

  • Finish something years old Gorman Di Wulfe!
  • Finish some terrain (2/3) 
  • Prep all of the monkeys in the monkey box (I mean it wouldn’t be a Challenge without this eternal listing)
  • Play a 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 Frostgrave)
  • Repaint something (either a miniature that I have previously painted, or one that was received painted
  • Convert a miniature and show WIP pics
  • Finish the last member of the Nextwave team
  • Complete the project to have painted miniatures to represent all of the Races in the 5e D&D Players Handbook
  • Add at least 3 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!

Huh, that’s actually not a bad number of things crossed off…

Projects (according to the last end of year post):

Rangers of Shadow Deep

I made the nest trees that I need for the second scenario, so it’s just the webbed victim markers that I made that are sat undercoated to go and I can play the next game…


I managed to paint up my warband, and play through the entirety of the Dark Alchemy campaign, as well as an additional solo scenario to introduce my Captain, making this the best year since records began for games played! 

Silver Bayonet

Thanks to the last minute dash to try and get the Tally out of the negative I actually have nearly all of the monsters I need painted for the first solo scenario - all I need now is to paint the two werewolves that are sat undercoated in the queue and I’m good to go as soon as my unit is painted! Do I need another ongoing solo campaign game? No. Am I excited to do it anyway? Of course!

Japanese Fantasy

In an unusual display of self control, I’ve not added any minis to the pile of shame for this project this year. I’ve got several minis sat undercoated in the painting queue, but I think the fact that I’d have to paint everything from scratch before I could play a game with this project is stopping it from being higher up the queue.

Star Wars

As predicted, I did May the Fourth. I’d like to get back to painting minis for Imperial Assault, but with so many projects vying for my attention who knows if that will ever get to the top of the priority list. On the other hand, my youngest is probably getting old enough to start watching Star Wars, which might accelerate some miniatures from a galaxy far, far away up the paint queue…


Ahh Zomtober, the one constant in this blog, this time with bonus Warhammer!


Despite being sworn off GW, this was actually one of the more successful projects last year, in that I’m nearly 40 models into my 500 points Skaven army list! My opponent has finished the 18 models that make up his 500 point Bretonnian lost though, so I should probably knuckle down and get the next almost 40 models finished to get to the same point level…

Plus, Zomtober last year was also Warhammer, kickstarting the post-Skaven Warhammer project…

2023 Projects


I want to get my 500 points of Skaven painted so that I can play a game. After that, endless plans abound - more Skaven, some Undead (vague plans to update Circle of Blood), or maybe some Mordheim…


For the last decade or so, I’ve been working on a set of home brew zombie rules. I had various mechanics worked out, and a basic working framework. To avoid accidentally plagiarising other people’s rules, I’d intentionally avoided reading any other rule sets. Until randomly one day while doing the washing up when I fancied watching a Guerrilla Miniature Games video on Ash Barker’s zombie rule set, where it turned out he’d already written the game I was writing, only better! Noise mechanics, zombie spawning, a lot of similar things, but just more elegantly designed than my own, so I figured I’d buy both available rulebooks and play that instead! 
The Seasons expansion gives rules for a more complex campaign, tracking survival as well as hunger, warmth etc across the course of a year; so I’d like to play a game every month next year, essentially playing through the campaign in real time. 
One benefit of starting a zombie campaign game is that I already have plenty of painted miniatures, but on the other hand when I started putting together my group of survivors I realised that my collection of Survivor miniatures is very British - more cricket bats than guns, so I need to paint a couple of more heavily armed miniatures to fill out my roster! 
Although I chose what survivors I wanted in my starting group, I’ll use the Chaos Theory expansion to randomly generate any future additions, and just hope that I can find suitable miniatures and get them painted in time before they’re needed for the next month’s game.


Plans are afoot for the continued adventures of Tim the Necromancer - having played through Dark Alchemy, I’d like to start working my way through Perilous Dark, and then maybe adapt Hunt for the Golem to a solo campaign after that. I’ve got the miniatures I need to make the Ballistae for the first scenario, and saw someone make their own Vapour Snakes using hot glue, so maybe I’ll give that a go…

Rangers of Shadow Deep

As previously alluded to, I only need to paint a set of webbed victim markers in order to be able to play the second scenario, so I’m hoping to get in at least one game of this this year! Although the reminds me, where did I leave the fake spiderweb that my wife bought at Halloween that I was going to use to fancy up my nest trees…?

Silver Bayonet

I’ve decided on the majority of my unit, so I need to paint them! I’m still undecided as to how to finish it off though - I’m torn between even more specialists (either a Junior Officer or Monster shunted or something like that) or just getting a couple more bodies on the board… once I’ve decided and gotten them painted up, I just need to paint a pair of werewolves and I’ll be able to play the first solo scenario, and if memory serves I only need to paint the pair of previously acquired vampires I have in order to also be able to play the second…

Star Wars

I’ll do May the Fourth. Anything beyond that, I can’t predict!

Japanese Fantasy has moved onto the back burner, which almost guarantees I’ll paint my Ronin as a palette cleanser between other projects at some point…

New Year’s Challenge

I’m going for some slightly more specific challenges this year:

  • Finish my 500 point Skaven Warhammer army
  • Play at least 12 games in 2023 
  • Prep all the monkeys in the monkey box (I mean I couldn’t delete this one after so many years)
  • Convert at least one miniature
  • Add to the Monstrous Alphabet project
  • Do Zomtober posts
  • Do a May the Fourth post
  • Do a festive post
  • Average at least a miniature a week (so at least 52 completed miniatures across the year)
  • End the year with the Tally in the positive
I mean realistically I know I have too many competing ongoing projects, but I love them all, so let’s see how it went in a year’s time!