Plastic pirates

I’m a little shocked at how many figures in my backlog fall into the “pirates and swashbucklers” category. Doing another sweep I remembered I still had 20+ plastic pirate crew from the “Weapons & Warriors” game, 10 or so dwarves with guns and horned helmets that seemed seaworthy, and about a dozen Landsknechte (who technically would be a little early and landlocked for Age of Sail gaming but who are a) flashy, b) mostly unarmored, and c) armed with guns or Zweihanders, so they really fit in better here than Medieval fantasy or Modern/Sci-fi which are the other two categories I tend to put RPG minis into).

The plastic pirates were a challenge because there are so many and they ought to be non-uniform. What I ended up doing was limiting them to 20 and breaking them up into groups of five, each of these four groups getting a single color for their shirts and trousers. Then I chose five different colors for their bandannas and sashes, and used them on up to 1 from each group of four. Lastly I used dark brown on half and black on half for their vests and shoes. So, no two are exactly alike but I can easily form groups of various sizes (4 blue bandannas, or 5 blue shirts, or 8 blue anything, or 10 black vests, etc.). I will probably number their bases too.

I used a lazy but fast shading technique that I’ve been experimenting with a bit: a black wash (which I used to do back when I started painting, knowing no better) but with some Future Floor Finish mixed in to greatly reduce the surface tension and allow better pooling into crevasses than plain paint and water would. This basically creates an effect like black lining (which is very tedious) and adds a simple shading in one step. I’ve tried Minwax “Polyshades”for the same purpose (with has the added benefit of being a polyurethane varnish too) but it tends to make things look too dirty, like a regular black wash. The new wash mix is not perfect, especially on the orange and yellows, but pirates should be dirty so I’m OK with it. I can’t imagine getting 20 pirates done in three 1 hour painting sessions otherwise!

At some point I may add eye patches (to the ones with the sloppiest eyes) and mustaches (the figures look like they either have bushy mustaches or really heavy sneering lips). I might also go back and give half of them darker skin tones, since historically pirates could be from anywhere.

They all seem to have a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other, with what might be a knife tucked into their sash. (One detail that I like is that the swords are manifestly NOT cutlasses, which only became common in the early 19th century. In the golden age of piracy, the swords might be anything, and the short hangers they have look right).

Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

When you go into the woods tonight

Admittedly, some of my conversions and scratch-builds are goofy. My daughter was getting rid of some old “Care Bear” miniatures she’d been given by a friend, so I thought I’d do a quick paint-only conversion to make them Scare Bears. I’d already covered a few of their bellies with gore before it occurred to me that they could have crude icons of some kind similar to the symbols on the Care Bears’ bellies. Maybe later I’ll be inspired. They still need their bases flocked and perhaps some touching up, but for the minimal effort I’ve invested I’m pleased with the results.

Obviously I just base-coated them black and added a few grey highlights on the areas that had tufts of hair sculpted on. Then I added exaggerated eyes, teeth, and claws. They were about 2″tall and are based on 40mm bases, so they are approximately ogre sized compared to other D&D miniatures.

Now I just need to find a suitable mini for Prof. Cold Heart.

 

 

Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags: , ,

The skeleton crew

Still anticipating a swashbuckling game some time in the future, I painted all the undead pirates I picked up on clearance a few years ago and a couple of ghosts someone sent me gratis (Thanks Scottsz!). I spent a little less time than usual painting these, knowing that they would not see a ton of use and having so many to get through. A nice dark wash cures many sins and makes the undead look suitably grotty, though I regret some of the hamfisted highlighting I added on the bones which came out too heavy and covered too much of the shading.

 

Mostly Reaper, except for one stray Citadel plastic skeleton from the 1990s. The one in the red coat was painted some time ago but I added a little detailing on his coat now that I have a better sense of how the cuffs and lining can contrast with the rest. The two zombies and the plastic skeleton got a rust effect on their weapons (orange and brown mixed into the silver) but I wasn’t completely happy with it and did not do this to the others.

These guys were a lot of fun. The violinist was a musician for some fantasy army but makes perfect sense to me for a ghost ship. The jolly spirits are Rafm. The skeletons, Reaper.

Last yet more Reapers. The one on the far left has no jawbone, which makes skeletons so much more creepy IMO. The guy in the blue coat behind him is not shown at a very flattering angle but he has a crow perched on his shoulder and his face came out pretty good, honest.

Some day all the pirates and swashbucklers will get better basing — maybe sand or if I get ambitious, wooden planking to suggest a deck. I also thought about adding seaweed draped over some of them but haven’t thought of a good way to accomplish that.

Published in: on April 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

Classic Miniatures

As of this writing the website for Classic Miniatures is not operational, which is a shame. Mr. Thomas is producing excellent re-casts of much of the old Heritage Models line. It’s a hobby more than a business (he has a job, family, etc.) so we’ll just need to be patient. However after a conversation on the Heritage Yahoo group I purchased some of his recasts to fill some gaps in my collection and replace a few long-lost or broken minis. Here they are — I cleaned off a tiny bit of flash and put them 25mm square bases.

First up, a pair of Knights & Magick knights and two Dungeon Dwellers.  The mace-man must have been lost a long time. The knight next to him was always one of my favorites from that line because of the horned helmet and axe. My original lost the axe-head a long time ago and has had a series of replacements. It’s nice to have a complete one again. The dwarf is unarmored and just has an axe and a small bag in his hand. He was included in the original Crypt of the Sorcerer game and I lost mine a long, long time ago, so I was happy to find a replacement. I’m sure he’ll paint up nicely. Lastly the cleric is one I never owned but always liked — he looks more like a pilgrim or monk than a Templar.

There’s my other axe-knight below, painted green because of course a knight with a giant axe is the Green Knight.

A pair of knights from the Knights & Magick line; axeman’s axe is a replacement

Next are two knights with two-handed swords. They are from the Chivalry line and Knights & Magick, respectively. Apparently Chivalry was closer to true 25mm scale; K&M and the Dungeon Dwellers were closer to 28mm, like Grenadier or Citadel. These two are both new to me, and I really like the K&M knight’s pose and the fact that the sculptor (Max Carr?) thought to attach the plume on his helmet to the blade in order to create a sturdier model. While the Chivalry line was theoretically “historical” I seriously doubt you’d see two-handed swords in the 12th or 13th century, which these guys appear to be emulating.  Still, great for RPGs.

Finally some more Knights & Magick models I’d only seen online: on the far left, “The Warlord” (who also has a mounted version and a squire in the complete set; I just wanted him for a well-armored cleric) and three “Giant Knights.” They stand about 7′ next to other Heritage models (the warlord is comparatively tall too), but would be normal-sized compared to any modern miniatures. They look great though. The axeman has a “Norman” kite shield on his back and would make a great Huscarl. The guy with the flail is leaning in and looks ready to engage (never mind his flail is “resting” — at least it won’t break off). The last one with the mace looks a bit like an early Citadel chaos warrior. His mace-head has a face on it (not visible from this angle as it faces the back) and the ornate helm and spiked armor are good.

Here’s one next to Reaper Bones half-orc, which I’d call 30mm scale really. Next to the regular knight, the “giant” knight is pretty fearsome, but scale creep strikes again and he’s just a knight next to the Reaper mini.

Anyway here’s hoping the Classic Miniatures site goes live again soon. I should point out that these castings appear to be in lead/tin pewter — the flash was easy to remove and when rubbed on paper they leave a mark. I’d venture to guess they are a higher tin content than original Heritage castings though because some barely left any mark and they seem a bit shinier. They base markings are partly obscured or absent — whether that is intentional or not I couldn’t say; I don’t know if all Heritage models had them back in the day.

Published in: on March 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Busy, busy, busy (3) — almost all the pirates

I’ve been on a tear painting minis and haven’t kept up with photographing them. Lately I’ve been trying to get things a little more organized and the cheapest storage solution I’ve found so far are small “bead organizers” you can find at craft stores for about 2 or 3 dollars. The “Darice” ones are made in the US and often come with no shrink wrap, so I feel a lot better about the reduced environmental footprint too. Recently Michael’s had a 40% off sale on all “bead & jewelry making supplies” which also covered the organizers. I line them with foam sheets, mostly, saved from packaging. The 18-figure capacity is pretty ideal for sets of figures organized by types, and the one over-sized compartment accommodates bulkier figures nicely. I also have a number of larger tackle boxes that I started getting for storing my 1/72 armies, but a lot of them have been displaced by D&D stuff. I don’t often buy tackle boxes any more because they have gotten a lot more expensive and almost always are made in China.

So anyway here are almost all the swashbuckler and pirates minis now. I did cheat and buy a collection of used, and already painted, orcish pirates via Noble Knight. The price was good and I’ll just need to touch them up a bit. The modest sales of my book at DriveThruRPG funded that purchase, which is awesome. I still have a handful of swashbucklers, some civilian types, and box of undead pirates to go, but this project is very near completion.

First up, the pirates (in one of the larger tackle boxes)

 

Most of these have already been on the blog before. There are some unpainted dwarves with blunderbusses in the top left, which I’ll get to eventually. They’re actually Warhammer minis, so they have horned helmets and the backs of their coats show some mail, but they’ll do. The green lady on the bottom left is one of the minis I bought already painted. The two chunky guys with big ‘staches are cheapo plastic pirates from a bag at the dollar store. The one with orange pants is carrying a swivel gun which is from a 1/72 artillery set. These slightly over-sized guys look way out of scale next to true 25mm figures but the Reaper half-orc at the lower right is just as big as them. I originally intended them to be ogres or half-ogres though.

Next up, buccaneers and musketeers. The top row are some Heroscape Revolutionary War era soldiers. I got one of the core sets a long time ago when they were clearanced at Kay-Bee Toys and a booster or two later. They had some great stuff — the Revolutionary War guys came with four werewolves! The guy with a blunderbus is Reaper.  There is another plastic pirate on the lower left; the rest are Wargames Foundry, I think.

Next, some swashbucklers! Quite a varied lot, Ral Partha, Grenadier, Rafm, a Marauder dwarf, and the guy in the powedered wig is possibly Old Glory or Foundry.

Lastly, the orcs. Mostly West Wind “50 Fathoms” minis, though the top row includes a Reaper goblin and four Citadel orcs. I’ll need to repaint the West Wind guys some — giving them the more orange skin tone the top row uses, and I’ll probably swap out the sledge hammer on at least one of them for a boarding axe or belaying pin. The two shaman types are a little odd — they’re holding voodoo dolls that really look like gingerbread men, and funky wands. One of them will probably get a weapon swap too.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Seth E. Green must be destroyed

I’ve known some horrible people in my time but the worst of the worst is definitely Seth E. Green. This god-damned motherless bastard does a bang-up job painting miniatures, and even worse he’s only been back at it for a year or two after a hiatus. This scumbag fartsack has he temerity to do some of the best painting I’ve seen, despite being colorblind. And don’t get me started on the bases. It’s enough to make me apoplectic. The NERVE of some people.

Seriously don’t take my word for it, stop by his site and leave a comment or two!

Published in: on March 19, 2017 at 11:09 am  Comments (1)  
Tags:

A few of my favorite things

A freind asked me recently what my favorite miniature was and of course I couldn’t even begin to answer. I usually think of my Grenadier AD&D “Dragon’s Lair,” but while I’m certainly proud of it, I don’t really have a lot memories associated with and painting it was more of a duty than enjoyable. I might also think of my orcs, which I have a lot of, or my skeleton army, which I really like too, but most of them were painted without a lot of care and only really look good as an army. After a little thought though I realized my favorites must be the figures that always end up on display on the wally. I have an old “printer’s drawer” that can hold a lot of minis, but it is an antique and I always worry about overloading in. More recently I picked up a small display that I imagine was made for thimbles or shot glasses at a rummage sale. Some of my favorite adventurers, and a few monsters, are displayed prominently on it in my gaming area.

The red velvet backing and arches really class it up, huh?

L to R, top: Citadel dwarf (one of my all-time favorite dwarfs), Grenadier hireling, Reaper fighter or paladin; bottom: Citadel knight Templar, Grenadier archer, Grenadier gnome illusionist.

L ro R, top: Heritage knight, Minstril from Groo the Wanderer (Dark Horse), bottom:  Heritage elf, Heritage knight, TSR fighter.

Grenadier thief, Grenadier halfling lookouts, Ral Partha gnome, Reaper mushroom king, Grenadier fighter, Grenadier efreet.

Grenadier halfling, Grenadier thief, Grenadier magic-user, Citadel chaos warrior, Grenadier goblin hero, Heritage sorcerer.

Some of these are pretty well painted in my humble opinion, though some are pretty crude. The chaos warrior actually placed in painting competition at a convention in the late 1980s, though I knew he was not up to snuff compared to what I was seeing in White Dwarf. He’s served as a half-orc fighter many times since, as has the goblin next to him. Apart from those two, I believe the rest of the paint jobs are less than 10 years old. I’d say I’ve gotten a lost faster, and perhaps more garish in my colors and contrast, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten much better. But I’m on track to at least finish painting all my figures before I go blind, so there’s that…

Published in: on March 13, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Busy, busy, busy (2) — Swashbucklers

So my brother mentioned he might run a swashbuckler type campaign once the current Boot Hill of Cthulhu campaign is over. We have some time before that seems too likely and that gives me time to start working on the pile of unpainted pirates and swashbucklers that have been sitting unattended.

First up, the inevitable Three Musketeers. (D’Artangnon was already painted long ago.) These three are fairly late Ral Partha — the sculpting is not up to their old standards when Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, etc. were there. I would have guess they were by Rafm. But they have nice clean designs and were fun to paint.

Next, a pair of conquistador types, also by Ral Partha. Shorty on the left is a Tom Meier sculpt. Honestly he’s a weird mix of elements — Landesknecht trousers, morion helmet, gladiator-style partial armor, and sawed-off poleaxe. On the right, another later Ral Partha sculpt, perhaps from the AD&D license years. Because of the morion helmets, I think of them as conquistadors, though in reality the conquistadors did not have morions.

See for example this contemporary illustration of consquitadors at work:

Image result for codex spaniards

Anyway the guy on the right reminds me of Klaus Kinski in Aguirre: wrath of God so I gave him bugging eyes for that crazed look.

Next up, some dwarf pirates. Left, a Mage Knight figure I touched up a little, with a mortar on his back. Center, the classic Grenadier dwarf thief. I have another of these I gave white beard and black cloak. Last, a Citadel dward sapper. My brother painted this one years ago, and he needed some touching up where the paint had worn off the edges. I mostly touched him up, adding some darker lines on borders between colors and giving him more distinct eyes, highlights, and so on.

Elven swashbucklers were surprisingly rare when I started collecting pirates and swashbucklers in the mid 1990s. These Rafm miniatures were for their Flintloque (fantasy Napoleonic) game. I’d painted a couple of other figures from this set who were in less formal attire.

And if there are dwarves and elves, there must be at least one half-orc pirate. This bruiser is by Reaper.

And here are two lady pirates. The first is very, very early Ral Partha miniature. True 25mm scale, perhaps small even for 25mm, she might pass for an elf or even a halfling now. On the right, another Mage Knight figure I touched up.

The last swashbuckler today was a civilian from a set by, I think either Wargames Foundry or The Foundry. He looks like a middle-aged gentlemen and I can’t help but associate him with Peter Laughton’s Captain Bly (the jowls I guess) or maybe Stede Bonnet.

For context, here are few of the above lined up to show the “scale creep.”

Really the Ral Partha lady is the odd one here. I consider the half-orc a little oversized too, but they are the extremes. I’m actually pleased with how well all the different manufacturers compare.

More to come…

Published in: on March 11, 2017 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Busy, busy, busy — now with pics

With the holidays winding down and no yard work or major home repairs to do, I’ve been making time to paint again! Here’s some stuff. I’m still using my phone for photos because although the image quality isn’t as good, it’s a lot faster and doesn’t require file transfers. <Update — turns out you can’t just copy pictures from your Google Photos — they will only be visible to people you already shared them with.> Click to embiggen them.

First up, some seasonal minis — two Reaper leprechauns. (Sadly the third from this pack is MIA. I gave it to my daughter a few years ago and she lost it. 😦

I think the flash really doesn’t do the paint job any favors, but it is a bit messier than usual even for me. I really rushed these guys to keep ahead of St. Patrick’s Day.

Speaking of sloppy painting, here’s a Reaper Bones marilith. Bones minis are usually pretty crisp but this one’s face has very poor detail and I really couldn’t distinguish her eyes. In the end I painted them like lidless snake eyes. Again, too much flash.

Next up, yet another Reaper mini — an earth elemental. My only gripe with this figure is the tombstone integral to his base. It’s kind of out of place, in my opinion. But it was nicely sculpted. I still need to flock the base.

Lastly a passle of “razor wings” from the Descent board game (Fantasy Flight Games).

In hindsight I should have done something about the heads — varying the angles of tilt. It would be a simple fix to cut them off and rotate them a bit before pinning them back on. Maybe later.

Next time, a whole lotta pirates and adventurers.

 

Published in: on March 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (8)  
Tags: , ,

Are you ready yeti?

The first large box of D&D minis I remember seeing was the “Monsters” assortment. Those Grenadier boxes were a little bit like boxes of chocolates because you never really knew for certain what would be inside — almost every box seemed to have a miniature broken or missing, and/or a miniature not shown on the insert, and/or a duplicate of some miniature. It never occurred to me back in the day to complain to the company or ask for a replacement; I have no idea if they would have. The “Tomb of Spells” was perhaps the worst offender: I didn’t get the lamia or night hag at all, which were on the insert, though I did get alternative sculpts of the djinn and efreet (not the ones on the older insert though; the ones in the blister).

Anyway in the case of the Monsters box, I got the set as shown on the insert except that my Yeti was the later version. (For some reason I always remembered having both versions in my collection, but I can’t think of way to account for having two yeti, so maybe I never had the original.) Anyway a recent trade yielded not only the cone-head yeti but a sort of missing link between the two sculpts: the ogre from the Wizzards & Warriors range. (I also got the earlier, smaller ogre with a similar face but he’s not hairy enough to pass for a yeti so I haven’t painted him yet.  So here are the three yetis side by side.

3yetis

The original design is closest to the Monster Manual version — especially if that is not just a tuft of hair but a misshapen cone-head.

Image result for yeti monster manual

Yeti from the Monster Manual, via Wikipedia. By David Sutherland.

yeti-cone

His replacement has a more rounded head. Mine has had his nose squashed a bit from falling on his face, and looks more upturned than it would be fresh out of the mold.

yeti-final

So the interesting thing to me is that the older Ogre design was clearly the source of the new face. (In this picture you can see a really severe mold line on his outstretched arm. I filed away as much as I dared but the dry-brushing really betrays all the imperfections.)

yeti-ogre

If you look at the three of them, what’s interesting is that the final yeti design incorporates the older yeti’s pose but many elements are clearly from the ogre. The loincloth is different on all three, but look closely at their backs and feet.

yeti-backs

yeti-bigfeet

 

Published in: on February 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , ,
This Stuff is REALLY Cool

Young scholars enthusiastic to tell you about COOL RESEARCH STUFF

Fail Squad Games

Tabletop RPG Products

Cigar Box Battle

An online resource blog for gamers and geeks focused on wargames miniatures and board games and role playing games

terribleminds.com/ramble/

Chuck Wendig: Freelance Penmonkey

Save Vs. Dragon

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

POWER WORD KILL

Old School Roleplaying and related musings

Hobgoblin Orange

My return to the world of miniature figure painting and RPGs

booksandopinions.com

The Book Reviews You Can Trust!

Dawn of the Lead

Zombies and Miniature Wargaming

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

hosercanadian

Miniature Motivation

Take On Rules

Jeremy Friesen - a poor soul consumed by gaming.

Age of Dusk

Roleplaying, reviews and associated paraphernalia.

Roll to Disbelieve

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different."--Kurt Vonnegut

A Book of Creatures

A Complete Guide to Entities of Myth, Legend, and Folklore

Making the Past

Diary of an apprentice swordsmith

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Using De Bellis Antiquitatis, with the odd diversion...

Riffing Religion

Prophets should be mocked. I'm doing my part.

Cirsova

An encyclopedia of the Cirsovan empire, thoughts on Gaming, Music and more.

2 Warps to Neptune

Surveying the Gen X landscape and the origins of geek

Inside the Shadowbox

Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer

A collection of advice, essays, and rambling rants about tabletop gaming and other geekiness. Often updated Monday-ishly.

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

inthecitiesdotcom

Just another WordPress.com site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"

chieflyill

gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

%d bloggers like this: