Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Find

Our annual Christmas visit to the homeland (Chicago) was very brief. My wife got almost no time off. The kids and I drove up and then I picked up my wife from the airport two days later. My mohter still insists on cooking our various traditional Christmas meals. This is nice, but at 85 year old, its getting harder to do everything. I spent my time, running around to various butcher shops and grocery stores picking up the items for the various meals. We were back on the road the 26th. No trips to Games Plus, or visiting old friends.

While hunting down some cooking pan in my mother's basement, I came across a old copy of Seapower II rules:

Apparently, I had opened them, but I don't remember spending any time reading them. I paid $12.95 for them, which for me at that time (late 70s) was a lot of money.  I never did get Seapower III, even though its says at the very bottom left hand side to ask for them. ALNAVCO still sells them, so if I like them,  I will take the plunge and get them.

This is likely my last post of this year, so happy holidays to you! May 2015 be a safe and happy one!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making Rivers for 6mm, Part 1

In a previous post, I was babbling on about my need for more terrain, specifically, more forests. After looking at the map for the first battle of the Second Chalupistan War, I decided to start making rivers.

I wanted to avoid the usual strips of rivers. They are probably easier to make, but they look too much like water canals. Plus, I thought each segment might be a little more stable on the table top. I used the plastic powder holders that I talked about in that previous post as a template and cut out a whole bunch of hexes.

Template to make the hexes. As usual, the 15mm Corporate Suit
tries to direct the hex-making operations.

I then decided on how wide my rivers should be and make a template so that the width of the rivers would be consistent.

After marking the widths at the edges, I drew the river boundaries, scored them with an X-acto knife, and then peeled off the paper. I then scraped and gouged out some of the exposed foam as seen below:

Rivers are rarely straight for any great distances (putting my geology degree to good use), so I also made a number of curves. In addition to scraping and gouging, I took the back of a paint brush and pushed in some lines paralleling the banks:

I also decided to make some that are double hexed, figuring that it would avoid the individual pieces to shift around too much while on the gaming table.

Double-hex straightaway. The 15s came out to inspect the work.

I am not sure why, but the hexes became slightly warped. Not enough when I looked at each hex individually, but it was apparent when I laid them down on the table end to end. It seems to be due to the removal of the overlying paper and some of the foam because the strike (another geology term) of the warping runs the length of the river.  To fix this, I gently cracked each hex along the length of the river. It was just enough to do the trick, but the hex still maintains its integrity and isn't floppy. The crack isn't even really visible, but I put a tread of PVA glue along it. The glue didn't seem to re-warp the hexes.

The next phase involves building up and painting them. I don't plan to build them up too much, just a little along the banks. I hope that whatever I do to them doesn't warp them further.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gift From My Students

I was both surprised and touched by the gift I got from my comparative anatomy students. They were a really wonderful group of kids, and I would proudly say that, gift or no gift.

It is a detailed model of a wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus). Usually at this time of year, I get, if anything, a box of candy or nuts. This to me is far more special.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Not Connor MacLeod

I was placing an order for more metal bases from War Games Accessories and needed to measure some to get the sizes I wanted.  I popped this guy out of a box to measure his base. I was taking pictures of the hexes that I made (shown in a previous post), so decided to take a few pictures of him:

He is a Demonworld Warlord of Thain. They are a mixed lot of barbarians. Some are the stereotypical, mostly-naked, Conan-the-Barbarian, he-man types; whereas others look either Germanic and/or Scottish Isles or Highlander types. I've seen some gamers use them to supplement their WRG DBA/DBM Scots Isles and Highlander armies lists. He comes out of their heroes and commanders pack. OK, so he isn't an exact fit for Connor MacLeod from the movie Highlander 
(the first movie; i.e., the best one), but he reminds me of him in the flashback scene early in the movie where he is riding off to battle and meets the Kurgan. You have to admit, the Demonworld Thain definitely has better hair than Conner MacLeod! I'm not one to talk, but Connor needs a hair stylist.

Two things regarding the figure. First, I didn't see his grisly trophy head on his horse until after I painted it and didn't bother to go back and paint it. Second, I couldn't think of what to put on his shield, so I left it blank.

I hope that War Games Accessories never goes out of business. I use their bases for pretty much everything except my 28mm figures. I've tried other companies that make steel bases, but War Games are uniformly cut to the proper dimensions. I've even used some of the larger ones as a straight edge to cut thin card stock or styrene sheets.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rangers of the North Part 1

"An increase in blog posts is directly proportional to the increase in hobby activity."
--Me, 12/05/2014

I've been getting some time in at night to work on hobby stuff over the past two months. One of my goals is to whittle down the huge pile of 15 mm fantasy figures. I pretty much grab things and try to paint them up.  Recently, Splintered Light has been putting out a line of RPG characters. One of which is their Warriors of Nature. It consists of combination of rangers and barbarians, with two druidy-looking dudes for good measure. It inspired me to paint up a big collection of rangers that I have accumulated over time from various companies. Here are some of the first ones finished so far:

Demonworld Miniatures
The dude above is a Demonworld ranger from their Empire group. Now that Ral Partha Europe has taken over the line, you can buy smaller sets of them rather than the complete sets, which were pretty darn expensive. There are several poses, and this is one. He is wearing what I perceive to be scale armor, which is a nice alternative. They seem a little larger than the others, particularly Chariot Miniatures, but it doesn't bother me that much.

Chariot Miniatures
Chariot Miniatures
Next up are two rangers from Chariot Miniatures. These are now made by Magister Militum. They come in two poses as seen above. They are a little on the small side compared to other manufacturers like Demonworld, but again, its not dramatic enough to be that big a deal. All of the manufacturers that make rangers both in shooting and not shooting poses. I will show more of the non-shooting poses in another post.  

I am almost certain this last is a single figure from Grenadier, which I painted a couple of months ago. It was from their barbarian mammoth model. There were two passengers, the archer shown above and a spearman. I showed off the mammoth in a previous post. Mirliton has yet to make the barbarian line of Grenadier 15s, if ever. I remember when Mirliton took over that line, there were a lot of groans in the 15 mm fantasy community especially about the pace of production...basically non-existent. I guess I should be happy that they have put out the ones that they did. The war mammoth they do sell on their site is not the same as this model. I have nothing against Mirliton. Their medieval line of 15s is fantastic. I just feel that if you are going to take over an existing line, you should manufacture the whole line.

Anyway, back to the above figure. He and his comrade did not look barbarian enough for me. I still have not figured out who to man the mammoth. I did like this guy and thought he'd make a good ranger/hero type. All my fantasy characters are mounted singly. I will probably include his spear-wielding buddy as a ranger, but a part of the rank-and-file. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Husband & Wife Dungeon Crawl Team

Hingus and Hinga, dungeon crawl adventurer team:

Hinga on left, Hingus on right
Hinga is a Ral Partha figure.  I painted her several years after Hingus, so there is more highlighting and shading on her. You can't see it, but she's wearing a small backpack. She's no beauty queen, but she makes up for it in personality and joie de vivre.

I got Hingus out of a bin of miscellaneous fantasy figures at a Little Wars convention back in the early 80s, and paid 25¢ for him, if that.  I haven't a clue who made Hingus because I filed down the bottom of his base for stability, but I think I saw him once on a web site that identified him as a Empire of the Petal Throne miniature. He looks pretty cool as a generic semi-barbarian fantasy warrior.

I'm coming to the conclusion that if I could, I'd take all my pictures of my miniatures here in my office. Even though its florescent lighting, its a lot better than at home. There are never any harsh shadows on the figures, and I rarely need to do any color correction on the photos.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Forest Dilemma

The other day, I came to the realization that I am really far behind in my preparations for my first battle in my fictional, modern ImagiNations campaign. I made this realization when I compared the map that I made for the first battle with what I already have in terrain, I lacked roads and rivers, some agricultural pieces (orchards and cultivated fields), and a lot of forests. I needed to get going so that I can get in at least one game before I retire!

For a long time, I have gone back and forth on terrain tiles. There are a lot of pros and cons to them, but I have ruled out using them for the entire battlefield. First, I would worry about them staying in place. Second, even if I used smaller hexagonal ones, I feel that my battlefield would conform to the tiles and not the other way around. What I have now settled on is a sort of limited terrain tile system. They would be limited to rivers and possibly roads, and act as boundaries for larger forests.

Most of my potential forests consist of individual trees that I have lovingly made. Because of the love, they took forever to make. In the time it takes to make one tree, I can crank out an entire village of my little acorn cap roofed huts.

Forest Tiles
Probably about 6+ years ago, I began experimenting with making hex tiles out of CD disks as I have a bazillion of them.  My idea was to make the hexes and then cover them with green felt. I would then set my little, lovingly-made trees on them; the number of trees per hex would indicate the density of the forest. I figured that I could also run some sort of road along the tiles. I could have just used them as is and make forests that had circular boundaries, but no, that would be too easy. I had to make hexes out of them. What a major b*t*h it was to make them! It was difficult to accurately draw the sides to be cut off. Have you ever tried cutting a CD? Not fun! It does not score very nicely. Plus all that silvery stuff comes off of it!  Van der Waals forces were certainly in action as it was impossible to clean up those silver flakes. Then, gluing the felt on was another chore. I managed to make six of them. All that being said, they have three advantages: they are very strong, they don't warp,  and they very thin.

What are my material alternatives? Well, everyone out there seems to use the mysterious 1 mm MDF board. Its mysterious to me, because I can't find it that thin where I live. Also, I lack a power saw to cut them into hexes. Next is highly compressed, PVC foam mounting boards that come in very thin sheets, down to 1 mm thckness. This stuff is not the same as foamcore. They are often used to make signs with. Sintra is a brand name of this stuff. I got some free scraps from a local sign making shop, though all they had were 3 mm thick stuff. It is very strong and I expect that it does not warp easily. Again, I don't have a saw to cut them with, though I might be able to score it. It is somewhat expensive relative to foamcore board. That leaves me with foamcore. The thinnest that I can find is 1/8" which corresponds to slightly greater than 3 mm. The issue I have with it its still a little thicker than what I want it to be, and IMHO, its a pain to cut out. Even with a metal straight edge, I don't always get a straight cut. Maybe I just stink at cutting stuff out. Here is shot of a foamcore hex vs. an evil CD hex:

Foamcore on left, CD w/felt covering on right.
The foamcore hex is larger because I used as a template, one of those disposable styrene containers that holds powder chemicals in order to measure the chemical's weight (sorry, mass). It was hex shaped.

Now that I have put you to sleep about the hexes, I will go on to the whole forest thing. There are several blogs that have tutorials on how to make massive forests. They involve making a canopy out of material such as foamcore that has been heavily flocked. To the bottom of the canopy is mounted sticks, rods, tubes, or whatever to represent the trunks of trees. The bottoms of the trunks can either stand on their own, or be mounted on some sort of base. Some tutorials make them so that there are no trunks in the middle of the canopy so to hide units in them.  I have decided to use foamcore for the canopy. Finally, a decision has been made on something! Next question what to use for the trunks. At first I thought toothpicks:

Toothpicks: in case you don't know what they look like.
However,  I would have to cut them in half, which increases increases the chance that some would be uneven. My solution was sitting on a shelf in my garage:

Big box-o-nails
Nails. Specifically, this huge box of 1" roofing nails that I had to buy in order to use all of eight of them. They are cheap (but so are toothpicks), but have the advantage of being consistent in size, much stronger than toothpicks, and have nice flat bases that can be glued. The plan is to cut out irregular shapes of foamcore for the canopy, press the nails into them, then flock them, then glue the nails to the hexes. I bought some black foamcore to hide and gaps in the flock. I am going to use this for very dense forests. For light forests I will continue to use my lovingly-made individual trees.

Postscript: This morning, I ordered some sheets of Sintra in 1, 2 and 3 mm thickness. The sheets themselves are not overly expensive, but the company ships express mail, which is what really jacks up the price on this stuff. I will see how well it does when I get the order.