Sunday, February 22, 2015

Firers at the Ready

Another Sunday afternoon, another brief hobby update. Managed to tidy up the last remaining dorf crossbowmen this week, so the army is very nearly done. If I keep telling myself that, hopefully I will put the wrap on the whole thing sooner than later, right?
Dwarf Crossbowmen; Hasslefree (left and center) and Reaper (right)
The first two in this pic are yet more squeeky-clean sculpts from the talented hands of Kev White at Hasslefree. The last fella is my final Reaper dwarf, again looking a bit "heroic" in scale for my tastes, but that's the basic schtick for humanoids in the Dark Legends line.

Here's the full unit, arranged skirmisher stylie for your perusal (and my documentation):

Trompin' through the gravel of Ye Olde Worlde. P-Choo! P-Choo!
Wish I had something more important to say than "Hey! Look what I done!" Not feeling particularly deep or wordy these days.

Hope your world is either suitably characterful or 'orribly grimdark, whatever you fancy these days. Take care, brethren.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Tough Pill To Swallow

This week's hobby goodness features one of my ten favorite Citadel miniatures of all time, Brian Nelson's incredible orc shaman. To me, this mini always stood as a kind of island of old-school character amid an ocean of slack-jawed, GIANT-AXE!!!'d, skull-festooned silliness that the greenskins turned into at Citadel circa 1997.

Citadel Orc Shaman; sculpted by Brian Nelson

My copy, bought as usual at great discount on eBay, lacked the sweet short sword on his back, so I had to sculpt a wee waterskin to hide the peg and open area on his back where the sword was supposed to go:

Given my extremely limited sculpting skillz, I am pretty happy with how the flask turned out.

The reason for the post title today, though, is because of an utter failure on my part to see this great mini through to its planned finish. I really wanted to do a nice checkerboard pattern on the hood opening around the face and on the sleeve ends, but after attempting said pattern six separate times, re-basecoating and starting over each time, I finally threw in the towel and went for this rather drab finish instead.

A few years ago now, I painted these Harlequins up, and they were covered almost head to toe in various check patterns:

So, I thought I'd be able to paint a little black and white patterning with no problemo. Perhaps it was the extremely folded and curved surfaces on the orc's robes, but I think my utter failure has more to do with my advancing age/decreasing eyesight/failing patience .No matter what I tried, or how slowly I went, I ended up each attempt just looking like a very messy painter. Oh well. The shaman will fit into a Skulldred warband just fine as he is. Alas.

It was not an easy thing for me to decide mid paint-project that my plans were too ambitious for my talent and skill to see through. I am sure it won't be the last time, unfortunately. . .

On the topic of Harlequins (by the way), GW finally listened to the 4 bajillion email, forum posts, and comments made in retail stores I have made over the years on the subject and announced this week that the Harlies are finally going to be their own army, with a brand-new hardbound codex (do they still call them that? Dunno.). I assume that there will be several plasticrud sets released as well, to go along with the $60 army book and $30 painting guide coming out in a few weeks.

Too little, too late for me, I'm afraid. I admit I got a little excited at first, but those price tags just hammered home how done with the current iteration of GW I am. When I paint more harlies, it will be my old metal Jes Goodwin figs languishing for too long in the pile. My checkerboard patterns will probably end up looking like crap, but I'll still love them so much more.

//End grumpy old man rant.

Until next time, brethren- may the paint brush gods grant you a nice pointy, hairy bit every time you need it.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Brain Games

Today's mid-80's monstrous offering comes from the days when 28mm actually meant, well, 28mm. One of the more interesting monsters to grace the early days of D&D, and still going strong through every edition since- the mind flayer. I doubt he was used much in the early days of D&D; at least not as he was originally designed by Gary Gygax, since the mind flayer relied heavily on using the psionic rules. If you've never read through that appendix to the original AD&D Player's Handbook, go have a look now- just realize that, about two paragraphs in, you're gonna be using math skillz you probably haven't had to utilize for quite a while. Those psionic rules, as written, are easily some of the most complicated calculations ever needed to make a victim (first) feel inadequate and afraid and, (second) pliable enough to wrap your head tentacles around, bite off his skullcap, and suck out his brains.

Ral Partha Mind Flayer. He wants to eat your brains.
I went for a much more "natural" octopus look on the head (obviously), rather than the more standard TSR/WOTC mind flayer color scheme, which I have always seen portrayed in pale aqua/teal shades. I wanted to keep the robe simple, so I went for this satiny black with gold trim. The model was pretty boring after my first pass, so I added the scripting on the skull and sleeves to jazz him up just a wee bit. The fluorescent green spot color on the eyes and gems was chosen just as a complement to the orange flesh.

Older Ral Partha sculpts like these do have the unfortunate design feature of these really large fixed bases. Unlike the Grenadier or Citadel fixed bases which are much slimmer, there is no real way to remove these, so I opted here to simply gouge the metal base with my hobby knife to "match up" with the textures on the flagstone base. Hopefully, the mind flayer appears to be standing on a rounded step or platform- that's what I was going for, anyway. My favorite thing about slotta base figures is the ease with which I can cut that tab away and mount the figure however I want. . . Ral Partha got it figured out eventually as well.

Take care, brethren. Thanks for the look in.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

In any list of the most-quintessential D&D monsters of all-time, surely the Displacer Beast would rank fairly high.
Displacer Beast, WOTC. Image appears courtesy of the OGL.
Hands-down one of the absolute worst sculpts from a hobby-friendly standpoint I've ever come across, this guy comes cast in soft white metal in two parts. I don't mean body/tentacles, nor torso/head, no, no, no- those things would make perfect sense. This guy was cast with . . . left body/right body, split down the middle. Making matters worse, the mould was very clearly distorted by the time this particular one was cast, as the "pegs" the designer put in to aid with assembly in no way lined up with their corresponding holes, requiring me to do some massive filing/filling to get the two halves of the body to line up right. Those "tufts" of hair you see poking up on his back are actually liquid green stuff peaks that I sculpted on to hide the worst of the gaps.

Adult Assembly Required
He's a bit on the smallish side for a 6HD beasty, if you ask me, but then Wizards have never paid much attention to such details. The older Ral Partha sculpt of the Displacer Beast seems more in scale to my eyes, but it also comes with a hella higher price tag on eBay. It did give me another blending practice opportunity, as I got to go from black body to purple tentacles to pinkish suction cups at the end of the tentacles. And as I am fresh out of jungle terrain bits for basing, I decided that the tall static grass here would have to suffice.

I sure am enjoying painting random D&D monsters these days, with no concern over gaming use or army needs- just grab what looks cool in my lead pile. Something about the one-off-ness is definitely feeding the hobby mojo right now (shut up, dwarfs!). Mind Flayer to follow soon. . . get your psionic defense stats up.

Take care.