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)  
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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)  
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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  
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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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Splice the mainbrace! (repost)

Avast!

‘Tis talk like a pirate day, you scurvy dogs!

“Arrr….?” — oh scupper that squiffy talk!

All you lubbers, if you’re ready to go on the account, lookee hereand here and you’ll be barking like a real son of a gun, belike!

Some scallawags fit for the hempen halter...

Originally posted 9/19/2010, without the image.

Published in: on September 19, 2011 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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GURPS flashback: Naval minis extension

Back when we were playing lots of GURPS, and particularly a Swashbucklers setting, we wanted to use some of my Man-o-War figures to fight out the all too frequent naval battles we engaged in. (Hint: if you are pirate, you really don’t want to fire upon, and sink, treasure-laden ships. We often did anyway because because these rules were really fun.)

These extensions still rely on having the GURPS Swashbucklers book for ship damage tables and stats for ships’ minimum crew, fire power (FP), hull ratings (HR), etc., and a Man-o-War “turning key” is needed. You can find a turning key (and all sorts of stuff) at the Yahoo Group “Sea of Claws,” although you need to join to look at the files. Our playing group was always big and we had players take the offices of Captain, Quartermaster, Bosun, Sailing Master, Master Gunner, and First Mate, some of which are referenced below. As this was fantasy, Vikings sailed in longships, and certain fantasy races had other oddball craft, like dwarf steamships and massive goblin barges. I probably have a list somewhere which I’ll post if there is any interest in these rules.

(more…)

Published in: on July 17, 2010 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Pirates

The undead pirates I scored a while back at my FLGS remind me that I have a huge backlog of swashbuckler figures to paint. Huge. But here are some finished pirate and swashbuckler figures. Most are pretty old, and nowadays they market is lousy with pirates, but back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when most of these were made, there was not a lot of selection.

Here’s a scurvy crew indeed, sons of guns all.

Three Grenadier pirates, from the mid-1980s.

A Grenadier (Julie Guthrie, I think) rogue and a bard, most likely Rafm. The skull & crossbones on the hat turns a bard into a pirate, despite the little mandolin on his belt.

The guy on the left is a Castle Creations superhero figure (my brother got a set of two dozen super hero figures that were advertised in a Dragon Magazine some time around 1983, when we were playing Villains & Vigilantes). The guy on the right is Rafm, I think, and was sold as an elf marine in a set with several others I still need to paint.

Two landlubber orcs (a Nick Lund sculpt, Grenadier, sold as a war ogre, and a Citadel crossboworc).  I need to rebase these, and probably repaint the Lund orc.  My brother ran a “fantasy” pirates campaigns in GURPS (basically the historical Caribbean but with fantasy races, monsters, and a little magic added), which must be the best game I ever played in. This inspired me to adapt as many fantasy figures as possible to be pirates. I should post the naval rules we cobbled together using GURPS and the Games Workshop game Man o War. We had some great fun. The game had up to nine players at a time, plus the GM.

Two Dwarfs. I think the one on the left is by Marauder (an offshoot of Citadel) but the other one is a classic Citadel dwarf lord. He has a powder keg (or beer keg?) strapped to his back.

Two later Ral Partha figures, a pirate and a musketeer (D’Artagnan, no doubt).

A Reaper skeleton pirate and a cheap dollar store toy. The toy represents a half-ogre pirate.

Scale creep on the high seas. The Grenadier figure is a short 25mm and the Reaper stands almost 40mm!

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Harvester of Sorrow at the FLGS

There are three friendly local game stores (FLGS’s ) in my town, although they have managed to keep their markets mostly separate.  The oldest is JC’s Comics and Cards, which sits between a record store and video store, and mostly sells comics and cards, as the name suggests.  A few games can be had there, but it is just a sideline.  The only figures they had, last I checked, are a few collectible pre-painted plastics (HeroClix, etc.).  Down the street is the newest store, Underhill’s, which specializes in board games but also carries a lot of WotC product and a few other RPGs.  They mostly carry D&D pre-painted plastics too, as well as a few odds and ends like game pieces for Zombies!!! which are sold in bags of 100.  (Yeah, I’ll have to do some zombies some time).  The third is a JAC Games, which I don’t frequent much, but the last time I was there they had almost exclusively Games Workshop products and figures.  They did not even have dice bags.  Both Underhill’s and JAC have large gaming tables in the store and I think they are doing it right.  Underhill’s even holds mini conventions (games days) right in the store!  (There is third game store that moved to a new location that is harder to get to and they have shifted to mostly card & video games which don’t interest me).  I hear that there is a gentleman’s agreement among these three not to compete for the limited slices of the markets that exists and since they are competing with Amazon.com and other online corporate welfare queens, good for them!   But if I want to buy figures, I have to go all the way to another town to Kenmore Komics & Games, which carries pretty much everything from games to comics to models and anime videos.  The RPG selection is the best in the area, and the figures are mostly Reaper and MegaMinis, two companies I do like a lot.

Anyway, Kenmore Komics is liquidating the Reaper Warlord line, and the last time I was in I got, for less than $40, this:

That is mostly undead pirates, but also a goblin pirate, two human pirates, a monkey with a powder keg, and the Overladen Henchman figure.  In the front are a skeleton playing a violin and a wraith that came with a ridiculously huge flag; I replaced it with a sword.

So, pirates may be next big project (I have a goodly number of older pirate figures still waiting to be painted, but perhaps this will get the juices flowing.

So on one hand I do feel bad about Kenmore’s loss.  I know they are losing money even if they recover the cost of the minis because these figures have been taking up retail space for a long time.  But on the other hand, a whole freaking pirate crew for well under $40!  Score!

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 11:07 am  Comments (3)  
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