Sunday, June 30, 2019

Painting Poll


I've been watching a lot of painting tutorials of late, but I do wonder the reality of their implementation amongst mortal gamers?  Please help sate my curiosity by responding to my little poll:

One question to change nobody's life!

I have in mind I'll write something in relation to this subject and the poll in due course.  I know for a fact I operate on a very spartan paint set up compared to most gamers and painters, yet I think I get decent results, so it will be interesting to see what develops of this....


Monday, June 17, 2019

The Forbidden Tower


I've been three times to the enormous folly known as the Forbidden Corner.

It's a weird little place tucked away in the Yorkshire Dales, a personal fantasy land of a wealthy businessman, opened to the public a couple of decades ago.  I wouldn't like to spoil to much of the place, but if you enjoy mazes, fantasy worlds, whimsy and a dash of horror, and have children between the age of 6 and 90, it is well worth a visit.

On my latest visit, a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a souvenir with obvious gaming potential:

Stan for scale
This is a moneybox based as you may guess on one of the folly features, cast in a thick and firm plastic that reminds me of the resinated plastic used for some modern games miniatures.  Aside from the garish facial details it also has a slot in the roof and a plug in the base for the insertion and extraction of your (modest) savings.  It was the princely sum of five pounds.

Which is peanuts really for something like this.  Most hard plastic or resin castle towers seen to retail from wargame companies around the £20+ mark, and lack much in the way of fantasy features (except GW of course, who instead have probably too many fantastic elements!).  Of course you may not find the retail outlet especially convenient to reach, but these can be purchased online for £10 with postage in the UK, which still seems good value.  Moreover, the model is perfectly scaled for 28-32mm models (and it would look okay with 20mm too I guess).

However, as nicely detailed as this is, I was not happy with the paint job, that needed improving.  And once I got to looking at the details I decided I wanted to add a small stockade to the model too.

Ready to paint
 I cut a hardboard base and then built up a parapet in card.  Then a small gateway with a bastion atop it.  The walkway was in part to make the door on the tower seem less tall and better protected.  Buy the model and you will see why.  Wooden coffee stirrers provided all the woodwork.  The gatehouse is modelled with a simple gangplank type bridge, but access to the tower is only by clambering up the inside of the wall with help from footholds on the battlements!

I.e. I forgot to add a ladder.

Painting was a simply affair.  I spray undercoated in black to seal everything, and then hit the base and woodwork with a deep chocolate.  Then it was a simple case of building up the layers of drybrush.  Greyish brown for the stockade wood, sandy brown for the soil, stony grey for the walls.

Note the steps behind the tower - they were a bugger to do! 
Then I did the wooden door and window panels a more reddish brown; suggesting better cared for, oiled wood.
Note the ajar gate in the wooden tower 
Lastly, I did the face, wanting it to look less goofy than it originally did.
Face now looking considerably more demonic
The interior was done a darkish brown flesh, the teeth then started from a lighter shade of this, toned up to white.  The eyes are about 6 or seven layers from a blood red up to an orange, with a few detail points, to give a flaming appearance.  I added a little off-source lighting to the brickork around the eyes - no more than a drybruash of midrange reds - which came out really well.

This looks great, and I'm really pleased with the overall result.  Although reasonably generic, I think the thematic place for this model sits with my Knights of Derpabury (fantasy-enhanced Feudal English).

I would urge you to check the source out, and if you like what you've seen here, picking on of these up whilst you are there, or online would be a great investment!


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Upper Canada Militia


These miniatures are now ready:

They represent typical, if well appointed, Canadian Militia of the period 1813-14.  In particular they are inspired by accounts of the issue of surplus red jackets for the 41st Regiment to militia troops in Upper Canada.

These are constructed, as I may have mentioned before, from a pile of Victrix Miniatures spares I had lying around.  The conversion work is relatively extensive, with webbing for knapsacks being carved away, cross-belts re-sculpted, and tall hats made in Blue Stuff moulds from Green Stuff!

all angles view
I wanted these to look like regulars, but it is also clear from the sources that regularised equipment issue was incomplete, and not always consistent with standard uniform.  As is clear these wear red, but green jackets with red facing were probably issued just as often, and reports of other colours also show up.  Here I added grey trews and a white and red plume to the officer, who also has sourced himself some crimson for a sash; he cannot be very senior however, otherwise he would probably have purchased himself a dark blue coat.

They are a charismatic little unit for Rebels and Patriots, offering something distinct from my Peninsular War British.  I need at least one more militia unit of Canadians, and so green jackets may well appear too; although a mash-up of Perry ACW figures may better represent the non-uniform attire of civilian volunteers. 

Stay tuned for more...


Monday, June 03, 2019

UK Games Expo 2019


For the fourth year in a row, I made the trip down to Birmingham, with friends in tow, for UKGE.

I would guess only Salute can even hold a candle to the size of this event in the UK for gaming.  UKGE boasts footfall in the tens of thousands over the weekend (21-39,000 in 2018 depending who you count, compared to 9,000+ for Salute in the same year).  The event fills two halls of the Birmingham NEC, along with the Hilton Hotel across the way from it.  As a result there was a lot to see on our one day at the event, and the camera ended up sitting resolutely in the pocket for most of the day.

I know most of my readers are primarily miniatures gamers, so I will make mention of that field first.  The show caters for the Out the Box, complete world already made, skirmish game mostly.  If you have a licensed property for miniatures gaming, or are building your own IP this is the place to be to see the newness.  Games Workshop, Fantasy Flight, Ares Games and many others in attendance, with the likes of all that's new for Warhammer, Star Wars, Film, TV and Video game licences and beyond.

Historical fan?  Well, Warlord Games were there, and Rubicon, showing off new 1/56th scale Panzer IV variants, but beyond that, you'd be pretty much out of luck.  UKGE is not the place to go to pick up boxes of Perry plastics or some additions for your 15mm Marlburian French army, but if you need another 35mm heroic scale Orc or an enormous resin demon, it'll offer you all the choices under the sun.

Also, whether miniatures or board/card gaming, if you want to try before you buy, you couldn't ask for a better event.  Though again for the former, don't expect any huge display games.  Literally every stand will have playtest or demo stations for the games on show, or at the very least someone capable of explaining it to you.

Personally I am at UKGE for this, I was looking for new games and something a bit unusual, to go with my various gaming groups, so the chance to get hands on with games beforehand is great.  Essentially it was a massive shopping experience, in a big relaxed shop, with endless chill-out room space (open play areas and a games library you can borrow more or less anything from, if you've time), and extortionate food prices (£8 for a sandwich, bag of crisps and a coke; thanks NEC!).

This said, we also found an hour to spend in the playtest section, trying games that had not yet reached publication (or even Kickstarter).  It's a nice giveback, and you may hit upon a gem, though looking at some of the prototypes on display you have to wonder if the 'designer' has even paid attention to where gaming has gone in the past thirty or forty years.  We tried a weird computer themed flicking game that looked more like hockey played on a Jackson Pollack painting, and a fun little card game based around a flying in a hang-glider race.

After the main show finished, we went to the Shut Up and Sit Down Podcast for some entertaining game related banter.  The convention has numerous free and paid for seminars and shows, another feature few wargames shows can or will offer, and it makes for a nice break of pace.

'Internet famous' 
Listening to Matt and Quinns discussion a bizarre book of solo imaginary role playing was a particular highlight, as it threw a spotlight on an author who could only be described as deeply, deeply strange.

As for purchases, buoyed up by petrol money from my companions I did pick up several bits and pieces:
Monty's Haul
Only 6 miniatures amongst that lot, but good picks for the price I paid, destined for Star Wars and Dragon Rampant.

As an aside, of sorts, I was pleased to discover after the event that Rebels and Patriots won 'Best Miniatures Game' at the show. 
A great endorsement for the rules, not least being at a show mainly concentrated on fantasy and sci-fi miniatures gaming (it's competition being star-ship fighter combat and fantasy viking skirmishing).

In conclusion, another great and greatly worthwhile day out, if you've never tried it before, I would urge you to give it a try; if like me you are underwhelmed by the experience of most wargames shows, this is a revelation.

However, convention funk is still very much a thing....