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  
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Charmed, I’m sure

Everybody steals everything online, it seems. I never mind when someone legitimately swipes pictures or quotes from my blog when they’re writing about swords, dorkery, or swords and dorkery, but occasionally weird content farmers steal entire posts just populate their awful little adfarms. Most recently “Cellulite Planet” started swiping my posts, in their entirety, though I have jack-all to say about cellulite. Must be hard to sell cellulite on its own merits or something.

They even took the trouble to the text through some kind of paraphrasing script, too.

I don’t mind admitting I’m kind of psyched that my book is now available on DriveThru RPG. The Lost Pages store is the place to get the hard copy, shipped from Scotland (I also hear some copies may be showing up at the better conventions too). But obviously Drive Thru RPG is an important distributor, and I’m glad people might be able to stumble upon my book even if they’ve never heard of it. 

becomes

I don’t thoughts admitting I’m sort of psyched that my schedule is now readily available on the subject of DriveThru RPG. The Shed Pages keep is the put to grab the tough copy, shipped from Scotland (I likewise hear some copies could be showing up at the much better conventions too). Yet obviously Drive Thru RPG is an crucial distributor, and I’m pleased individuals could be able to stumble upon my schedule also if they’ve never ever heard of it.

They paraphrased my title as “The Unsatisfactory Pilgrim’s Almanack” too. That’s pretty harsh for a robotThey didn’t even have the decency to include a link to buy my damn book. But they are like #5 or 6 on the Google hit list if you search “Poor pilgrim’s almanack” (as I might do occasionally to see if anyone has taken notice of it).

As a librarian, I’ve run into some really shady operations that publish books this way swiping Wikipedia entries, which they’d be allowed to do if they gave proper attribution, but then no-one would buy their crap books, so they leave out the attribution. When people started catching on to this, the next evasive action was to paraphrase the articles, much like my post was paraphrased above. It gets dangerous though with some of these — I’ve seen books like this on various medical and legal topics, which could probably get someone killed or in jail.

Published in: on March 9, 2017 at 4:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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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)  
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The Poor Pilgrim’s Almanack now on Drivethru RPG!

I don’t mind admitting I’m kind of psyched that my book is now available on DriveThru RPG. The Lost Pages store is the place to get the hard copy, shipped from Scotland (I also hear some copies may be showing up at the better conventions too). But obviously Drive Thru RPG is an important distributor, and I’m glad people might be able to stumble upon my book even if they’ve never heard of it.

What is the Poor Pilgrim’s Almanack? (And here I begin just quoting the blurb:)

An historical supplement on pilgrimages, relics and religion in the European Middle Ages.

The Poor Pilgrim’s Almanack is filled with painstakingly researched essays on religious life (and death) in the middle ages. It lets you use relics and pilgrimage as the basis of an alternative conception of clerical magic. Also included are details on travel, burial customs, catacombs, and the business of relic theft. A travelogue of shrines and other pilgrimage sites, detailed rules for relics and reliquaries, and a listing of historical miracles (corresponding to familiar clerical spells) make this 128 page sourcebook a treasure trove of inspiration. Dozens of adventure seeds and tables for generating encounters on the road, graves and grave goods, and randomized catacomb generation and stocking round out the contents. A new class, the Palmer, provides a novel take on religious adventurers. 
But wait! Don’t take my word for it. Here’s something someone said:

An excellent and necessary supplement if you’re wanting your campaign’s religious culture to feel more European Medieval and less the polytheistic/pantheon style used in mainstream D&D

– James Raggi, Lamentations of the Flame Princess

Published in: on February 26, 2017 at 8:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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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)  
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Another mystery mini (solved)

A friend of mine was recently gifted a nice cache of old-school minis — mostly Grenadier AD&D stuff, with a handful of Heritage Dungeon Dwellers and Ral Partha. Apart from a detached set of wings, the only one we could identify is below. I have only seen this photo so I can’t say if there are base markings of any kind but it looks like an old Citadel figure to me. (That’s the bottom half of another figure behind her, not a cape btw!)

Mystery mini

I couldn’t find anything quite like her in the Armory’s Guide to Fantasy Miniatures (all the other figures dated to the early 1980’s so it seemed like a possibility). The Lost Minis Wiki and Collecting Citadel Miniatures didn’t turn up any thing either. Early Ral Partha seemed like a possibility too, or perhaps something from Asgard or Castle Creations — the details are very “Sword & Sorcery” to my eyes, and the sculpting is a little primitive.

Update: A list minute look at Grenadier’s Wizzards and Warriors line provided the solution! It’s from Grenadier W11, Female Adventurers. That last bit I wrote about the base made me reconsider and think “that sure looks like a Grenadier base.” Bingo.

As an aside, the Wizzards & Warriors line was a very uneven range. Many were repackaged as the AD&D line, some were revived after the AD&D license was lost, and some are converted picked from the older ancients & medievals ranges. A number of them were modified or re-sculpted repeatedly, perhaps because Andy Chernack was getting better at sculpting, had ideas from improvements, or perhaps to have them cast more reliably. I am struck by the clear lineages for example the “Sorcerer with horn” clearly was redone as the Liche with horn (and the detail of the horn retained)  and the W&W ghoul was converted to the kneeling AD&D pose. The very early vampire was eventually redone with much more detail too. It’s fascinating to see Chernack evolve as an artist, while sticking to the original designs.

Published in: on January 13, 2017 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Clerics

Last weekend I painted four clerics in between chores and doing a ton of preparation on other figures. One thing I’m trying out is putting grout in the bottoms of the plastic bases of some hard plastic miniatures to make them more stable. I’ve used modelling clay  for this before but it eventually exudes oils and I wanted a more permanent fix, as many were skeletons. I hope to start working on my remaining undead figures next, but after all the demons some clerics are needed for balance!

The first is a monk from the Ral Partha “1200 AD” line. (These are back in production, in fact!) It’s a nice sculpt and was pretty easy to paint.

partha-monk

Useless trivia: The 1200 AD line was originally called the 1100 AD line in early Ral Partha catalogs. By the time this guy was produced in 1983 or so, it was called 1200 AD. Sadly, he’s one of the figures that got pretty badly messed up by my cheap matte varnish. I’m glad I got a photo before sealing him.

Next up another Ral Partha figure. This one is cleric from a boxed set sold some time around 1981. The box had other adventurers, all very nicely done, and pre-size creep, so they are true 25mm like the monk above.

Ral Partha cleric

He suffered a bit but not as much from sealing. His face detail was always shallow and the sealer obscures it further; again I snapped this photo before the sealing. I’m not completely satisfied with the hood color but I wanted him to be a little more colorful and thought it might contrast well with his darker skin tone. Unfortunately his sidelong glance is not very clear any more under the sealer. He’s based on a 20mm mosaic tile rather than a 1″ piece of matte board like the others. A similar variant is still being made by the revived Ral Partha, with a snake for a staff (!).

Next a Heritage “Dungeon Dwellers” cleric.

heritage-cleric

This one came in the Caverns of Doom boxed set, and I had to replace both his hands. The replacements are a little big (most figures have wacky proportion anyway) and this is especially noticeable with his tiny feet, but I think he looks ok. The original had an ankh in his right hand and an open left hand, but I gave him a cross and a vial of holy water! He’s got glossy sealer only in this photo too.

Lastly, a Citadel dwarf.

dwarf-cleric

He’s not really necessarily a cleric (he’s from the DC line of warriors) but he’s armed with a big hammer in his hand and a smaller hammer tucked into his belt on his back. He’s got some glossy sealer but no matte in this photo. He was one of the of lucky ones who did not get all frosty looking from the matte varnish.

Published in: on January 11, 2017 at 12:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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A cautionary tale

Since it’s too cold to take anything outside to spray with a sealer, in the winter I use a brush-on acrylic sealer (the floor polish formerly sold as “Future” floor finish). It’s really glossy but dries quickly and is a very good protector. I decided to kill the gloss with some matte varnish sold as “Aileene’s” — a house brand at Jo-Ann’s craft stores. It created a horrific, dusty-looking mess of my figures.

20170108_222007

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

However I noticed that brushing on some water restored the original look, at least as long as it was wet, so m next idea was to scrub off as much of the varnish as I could and re-apply the Future finish, since it leaves a “wet” look.

20170108_222459

Not quite where I hoped, but a little better.

You’d think I would know by now to test this kind of thing out before applying to 20-30 minis. Fuuuuuuck.

I may try scrubbing them a nit more with water to see how much of the matte varnish will come off the Future finish, but it’s encouraging that the worst of it can be fixed. Will I never learn?

 

Published in: on January 8, 2017 at 10:31 pm  Comments (4)  
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Pandemonia

So here are all my demons, devils, and efreeti. Gargoyles, fire elementals, salamanders, and fire giants did not make the cut; nor did Cthulhu-type entities or angels. Still, probably enough to ruin a D&D party’s day.

demonomania

I think the majority have been featured in previous posts as they got painted, but I noticed a handful of Ral Partha demons and devils that could be touched up or repainted. Just making a head count I find:

  • 10 Grenadier
  • 2 Heritage
  • 15 Ral Partha (if we count the MageKnight knock-off and 2 Citadel/Ral Partha joint releases)
  • 1 TSR
  • 6 Metal Magic (MegaMinis recasts)
  • 1 RAFM
  • 8 Reaper
  • 1 WOTC
  • 4 WizKids (possibly knock-offs of other companies)
  • 6 scratch-built (larvae)
  • 10 plastic toys or board game pieces
  • 1 repurposed Christmas ornament

 

Published in: on January 6, 2017 at 7:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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The last of the devils and demons

lastdevilswip

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to paint any miniatures. But on New Year’s Day I had some free time and decided to finish up the devils and demons in my collection. As you can see in the picture, I have a Reaper Bones marilith, a Reaper Bones female devil, a Grenadier efreet, a Ral Partha “gremlin,” a demon or gargoyle of unknown vintage (recast in plastic by WizKids for Mage Knight), a Ral Partha efreet, and two Heritage avenging angels. Apart from an incomplete figure or two, and some Mega Minis figures that look more like random monsters than demons, those are the last of the demons & devils.

The marilith is still not done. But the rest are finished. I didn’t take quite as much time as I sometimes would, such was my enthusiasm to get a category of minis finished.

Apologies in advance for the image quality — new phone, too much gloss in the sealant, and still figureing out the flash.

First up, the efreeti. Actually these were both figures I painted decades ago but stripped to repaint a bit more aesthetically. The Grenadier efreet is the last version they made for the Tomb of Spells set (I vastly prefer the older sculpt based directly on Trampier’s illustration but this guy is ok). The Ral Partha efreet I purchased some time around 1983 when I was on a family vacation to Baltimore. The three things about that trip that stand out are visiting the aquarium, paddling around the harbor with my brother (where we found a number of dead seagulls floating on the waves), and the incredible hobby shop in the mall on the harbor that had glass cases filled with miniatures from every manufacturer I knew of and many I never heard of. Any money I had at the time was spent there. I’m not sure what other minis I might have bought but I recall my brother getting an ogre and troll made by Castle Creations. I used the efreet as a half-ogre for a while. (all photos, click to embiggen)

efreeti

Next up are a trio of devils. The crouching figure may or may not be an original sculpt for WizKids’Mage Knight line. The guy with the spear is a very old Ral Partha. I couldn’t figure out a way to straighten his spear without removing it entirely and replacing it so I left it alone. The female devil is by Reaper.

3devils

The avenging angels are pretty unusual. I couldn’t find any painted examples in my googling, and they may be fairly rare. They were made for the Knights & Magic line, and would have come in a blister pack with one each of an angel with a flaming sword (like these), a spear, and a bow. I picked these up second-hand from a toolbox full of old minis at hobby shop that has since gone out of business (or at least gone online-only — Spellbinder’s of Kent, Ohio). The odd thing was there were only two wings, and when began assembling them I realized they were both the right wing. So one angel has plastic wings clipped from a plastic toy bird (the neat rounded feathers on the right) while the other took some reconstruction. I bent one wing into shape and added some Liquid Nails to the top edges so they look more symmetrical. They almost look like they were meant to be this way. I love the raggedness of these wings too — it seems like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. (Actually, the bird-wings could be out of Brazil and the original wings out of The Fisher King, maybe).

angels1

Unrelated, but not appearing here before, I had a couple more minis that I painted over the summer and never photographed. They are a Reaper fire elemental and a very old Grenadier cleric. The cleric (who I always think of as Cedric the Cleric) lost his mace long ago and I replaced it with a somewhat oversized morningstar from the plastic Zvedza Orks kit.

clericandelemental1

Published in: on January 5, 2017 at 9:53 pm  Comments (3)  
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