Sunday, August 30, 2015

Star Wars X Wing Miniatures: Ghost Final (Cake Topper)


I have been working on this on-and-off for too long. That's why I have to be done! I worked to make this look like the color palette in the source materials, in the McQuarrie style. This is a complete repaint of the Ghost, not a touch up of the original finish. I added brass barrels on the gun positions which were barely an original detail and I did layers of grime, wear and subtle chipping. There were a few points during the painting where the details on this cake topper decoration just sucked, frankly, and I moved on. Perfect example is the main cockpit bubble.Ugh. I had even filed parts of the canopy to get it to match up across the upper and lower sections. Still, it was a good exercise and my son is thrilled to have a Ghost to use in X Wing as an Outer Rim smuggler, until the FFG Ghost drops. All-in-all, worth it for 8 bucks!

Here's a before shot, followed by final after primer and paints.




Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bushido: New Board Pics Plus Material/Assembly Notes



While the river board I made previously for Bushido is good for a few scenarios in the Bushido Tournament Scenario Pack, it is not good for every mission, specifically where Zones Control is involved as a mission condition.

So I built a flat Bushido board and took the chance to try out a new feature I have been thinking about, raised wood trim.

Parts List:

1.       One 2’x2’ piece of MDF
2.       Textured wallpaper
3.       Oil based slow-drying primer/sealer
4.       Mod Podge
5.       Cutting implements and tools of destruction
6.       Paints
7.       Flocks
8.       Assorted Paint brushes
9.       Trim (optional but recommended)
 Stain (try water based)

Granted, most of the time spent on this build is drying time. Looking at the parts list you will see a few decisions were made ahead of time. Some explanation is in order.


MDF: Normally I avoid MDF. It can be finicky with glues and paints. It can warp when stored improperly in locations like the average basement; humidity can have its way. That said, the local DIY had them on sale for US$1.88 which is a tremendous deal, so there it is.



Textured Wallpaper: I had a huge stockpile of this stuff from a decade ago when I worked for paint and wallcoverings company (I made the huge batches of paint that trucks delivered to large companies like Amtrak. I also made the house paint for the movie M. Knight Shyamalan movie,
Signs.) This stuff is basically paper with some foam texture embossed onto it. I think it was supposed to look like… well, I have no idea. I only see dirt and rocks. I use this on everything from miniature bases to large terrain projects. It has served me well but it has a fatal flaw. The foam can tear up when gamers drag miniature bases across the features relentlessly, because at it's heart, it's just light foam. I learned this the hard way when a terrain board I had built for a local game store started being stripped of the texture. So I went back to my roots and solved the issue with the right coating as a base, which is up next.



Oil Based Slow-Drying Primer: There is always somebody who is confused about oil primers and acrylic paints. I will get into that if anybody asks in the comments section below. Suffice it to say, it works no problem. The beauty of slow-drying primer is that it penetrates everything (like Carlor) and that means the foam features are soaked to the core by grey primer, which makes it rigid and durable when it dries. If it was not slow-drying it would dry down before it soaked all the way through. I have been in the habit of using this primer on all foam features I build with. It has a modest capillary filling action for the micro features of foam, which is great to seal up foam from spray solvents. But it treats detail very well too. The only issue is clean up, since it is oil based. Buy a good disposable brush (called a chip brush here in the US) and skip the mineral spirit clean up. Just watch for shed bristles drying in the primer from the cheap chip brushes.

Mod Podge: I have also been using this stuff for everything. I used this to glue the wallpaper to the MDF and used it to glue the flock down. Just be sure to use Matte Mod Podge. It really does dry clear and non-shiny.

Stained and "Nude" trim.  This is also my new band name.
Trim: For smaller boards like this one I find they tend to need a few points for presentation. Something that lends a classy finish. So I tend to trim my boards where I can; it isn’t always practical, especially when building out in foam, but it is usually worth it if your board will see lots of handling and God help me, storage on its side. Trimming assumes you know your way around a mitre saw, can make a clean join and you can swing a tack hammer or fire a finishing nail gun. Before you even think about attaching the trim you should lightly sand off the shop finish, burrs, spars and stickers. Then stain with your favorite stain. I work in water based stain so I can avoid clean up with explosive liquids in my basement. Once the trim is dry you’ll have it on hand to make your cuts for the board.

Assembly: Assembly on this is exactly what you'd expect. Mod Podge glue coating over MDF, textured wallpaper on top. Oil based primer, let dry 24 hours. Stain the trim in the meantime; I use water based stain for the easy cleanup, in a Verdigris finish. Once primer is dry, I spray primed with Army Painter colors. Then I got some paint layers on there with acrylic wet brushing and dry brushing to pull out detail. Once the detail was dry I added on some "moss" mix to some exposed stone areas to tie in with the scatter terrain and objectives  I made earlier, which also has moss.

Without Zone Control templates.
With Zone Control templates down.

I used Matte Mod Podge for all the flocking, using a mix of Woodland Scenics static grasses and sponge material for variety. Once dried and brushed to catch loose flock, I used a mite saw to make my cuts in the trim and a bastard rasp to smooth the joints. Note that I kept some stain on hand for touching up the trim after I made my saw cuts and passes with the rasp. Just re-stain the bare wood before you attach the trim with a finishing nailer. That's it.



The raised edges really help placing models and terrain. Trim also helps keep models and dice on the board too. Finally, it matches my token and dice caddy, finished in the same stain. I think the trim is functional and actually adds a nice visual appeal. I am not sure the visual appeal would work for all games of all genres, but in this case I deliberately picked out a design that seemed Asian enough to pass. More pics later when we get a game on it!




Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bushido: "The Messenger" Batrep Pics

"Prepare for flight, little Bushi..."
Not sure why I never posted these before but here they are, pics from one of our last games of Bushido. This was on my buddy Pete's fine village board and it was a straight box set fight to the death, set to the tone of The Messenger scenario from the Tournament Pack, his Silvermoon Syndicate vs my Clan Ito.

My blurry Ito
Pete's better-lit and beautiful Silvermoon Syndicate
Game start

Forces spread out and advance in

Chiyo starts sprinting to the Torii gate to intercept an incoming Syndicate thug, while the rest of the Ito try to deny flank.
Syndicate set their attack as the Sumo stomps towards the market where the Ito stand ready.

Sakura curses the Sumo with venom enough during the game that it probably had more to do with his death than katanas did.

The Temple Bushi attacks the Sumo who seems to only wince at the swordstrike and then proceeds to body slam the Bushi across the square into a fishmongers hut, as Itsunagi saunters forward rolling his shoulders...

... and then totally dissects the Sumo, but not without getting hurt himself. Itsunagi has so many abilities that it takes time to process what works best and so, requires use to get familiarity.
 Flankers which had gone out from both forces as secret and real messengers bluffing their way up the board got intercepted and absorbed into the middle meat of the fight.A Silvermoon crossbowman comes in and displaces the Ito as they swarm around a rallying but wounded Bushi, who had been thrown by the Sumo.
Ito intercept a suspected messenger making for the board edge while Itsunagi warily watches the other Syndicate walking towards him.

Throwing his rice bowl into the air, he eviscerated Itsunagi before the shirtless wonder could say "Blood or Orichi". Catching the bowl when the Ito champion collapsed to the cobblestones, he chuckled and walked towards the faltering Ito line.
In the end Pete's true messenger made a run for the endzone. Sakura tries to poison lithe woman as she breaks through...
... but was caught and slain by Akimoto, who had enough energy left to catch and kill her then promptly go into a forest-burning drum solo of the gods! Ito wins! Great game!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Warmachine: Koldun Lord


This guy has been sitting nearly finished for longer than I care to admit. I'm trying to get a 35pt painted Warmachine list finally finished so I knocked out various parts I never completed and based him. The Greylord Ternion are almost done too and I am hoping they'll be done tonight. I'll post up a group shot together when they are all done.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Star Wars X Wing: Ghost (Cake Topper) Part 2


I've had this on the paint bench for far too long. I got this cake topper for my son then got discouraged by the wrong base color. And it sat. Well, the boy asked for the Ghost again so with no delay I re-based in OOP GW Space Wolf Grey and made with the painting. This thing was like US$8 bucks, so not expecting much but the lack of detail is daunting. The canopy is a real test but so far it's passable.

Now I am at an impasse. I mixed the colors based on source pictured and generally nailed it but the question is now one of finishing. There is some yellow stripe and detail painting that needs doing but really it comes down to hard lining: do I use technical pen or something brush-based like Nuln oil which won't be as harsh? Hard to tell really, looking at the source material you would to try to keep contrasts lower than how FFG would finish the model. But this will roll alongside other FFG models so I guess get with the idea that contrast will join it. Stay tuned for the finishing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Star Wars Rebels: Season 2


I won't be making Rebels part of the fabric of the blog often but I am compelled to say that episode 1 of Rebels season 2, The Siege of Lothal,  was the most exciting Star Wars-anything I have seen in a long time. They took serious notes from movie Episodes 4-6 in terms of visual styles and aesthetics and I appreciated the hell out of it.

Being a McQuarrie fan since childhood, I see so much of his handiwork embodied in Rebels, from Lothal itself to the profile of Vader's mask and while I have enjoyed how Disney deployed his conceptualization from the beginning, something really congealed in this episode, really pulled together his signature influence and the classic Star Wars look from A New Hope onwards. Visually, it was more Star Wars than I though a cartoon could get, in due part to the "classic" look of everything on screen (no offense Clone Wars) but also the spotlight on Vader and how the universe "felt right." GOOD lightsaber fights, A-Wings, CR90's lumbering around, Imperial scapegoats... and Vader. Such Vader. Wow.

Season one was a bit childish and weak (even my 11 year old says so) but it is desirably dark now and feels so Star Warsy it has me scrambling to play Imperial Assault and X Wing (well played Disney).

If you haven't watched the series until now then you could simply jump into this episode and maybe feel thrills you forgot you once had, even without all of the back story there. Those with the Lucas-trope gene will know how to fill gaps in motives but if you had a choice I would say watch Season 1 first.

You may be surprised at how into it you get. Either way, enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Star Wars Imperial Assault: Probe Droids


Imperial Assault is a blast and despite my efforts to resist, I started painting the minis for the game. It's a catch 22. Some of these figures are made for painting and some are not. And this is a big social game for me. Plenty of people will be handling the figs, it won't just be me, so wear and tear is huge on my mind. But once you paint the figs that call out to you, well, it becomes really obvious that some are painted and some are not. Sigh. So much for building and painting Robotech in June. 



I ordered some clear bases and rod from Litko for rebasing. I have been wanting to try my hand at clear bases since I saw someone do it for Mansions of Madness. I really wanted to do it for Robotech but I see a few issues with that and since the terrain on the tiles in Imperial Assault vary (and will continue to do so in the future) this seems like a good time for bases that blend. So I removed the droids from their bases (which was alarmingly easy), tapped a hole in the droid, taped a hole in a base and cut 3 rods at varying height. I used Litko's non-fogging clear cement for the flying bases and while tricky to use, it worked well, even had some surprising gap-filling qualities. The paint was straightforward and simple. I messed with OSL on lenses but there is some rough, non convex surfaces on some sensors/lenses so in the end I elected to paint them black and top coated with Tamiya Smoke for a great gloss effect.

I would be really surprised if I painted the whole box set but I have to admit that painting up classic heroes and villains is probably something I've been subconsciously waiting to do my whole life...