Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sigrid and her walker for Dust 1947

So far this year, I've managed to paint more models than in the past two years combined. This is due to a couple of factors.

First, my son Lucas and I are participating in a slow-grow league for Dust 1947 at Giga-Bites. In addition to scoring points for games played and victories, you can earn them for painting your force. Second, since Lucas is in the league and has begun to paint figures for the first time, I am teaching and encouraging him as he learns.

One of the units I really wanted to get painted is Sigrid and her walker, the Snow Lynx. Sigrid is a hero for the Axis, and the leader of the Blutkreuz faction which I play. She can pilot her personal walker, a Jagdluther named the Snow Lynx. Since I am painting my figures for a desert battlefield, I chose to rename the walker the Wüste Luchs (or Desert Lynx).

The Sigrid figure is a resin model that I won several years ago at a Dust tournament, and which has been in storage since then. I thought it high time to pull her out and get her painted.

The walker is a standard Jagdluther, with two modifications. I removed the rear compartment (I am using that for another project that I'll share as soon as it is finished), and I added an antenna.

I've painted a couple of light walkers and some squads of zombie troops as well, and I'll be sharing those here in future posts.

'Til next time!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Using Northstar's Oathmark Dwarves for Lord of the Rings Battle Companies

"I wish I could muster an army of Dwarves, fully armed and filthy" - Gimli, son of Gloin
Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM! Boom! Boom! BOOM! BOOM!”

The rhythmic sound of the goblin war drums carried up from the burning dwarven settlement and reverberated among the crags above. The goblins were too entranced by the dancing flames to look up, but even had they bothered they would not have noticed anything amiss among the boulders and outcroppings overlooking the settlement. A dwarf, tucked partly behind a large gray rock, his stony features almost indistinguishable from the granite beside him, looked down on the victory celebration, gnashing his teeth and weeping in frustration.

Skirfir, son of Nifir, and his small band of dwarf warriors had been away from Khâr Zagâl at the time of the attack, tracking a party of goblin marauders through the mountains surrounding the dwarven town. After nearly three days of following the raiders, they had caught them in a small pass. The fight was vicious, but short, and soon all the goblins but one lay dead. Skirfir's force had not escaped unscathed, suffering three dead and two wounded in the skirmish. As his men tended to their wounded comrades, Skirfir had interrogated the still living goblin. And what he learned chilled him.

The goblin raiding party, though wiped out, had achieved its purpose: to draw the defending scouts away from Khâr Zagâl. At first, Skirfir just stared at the goblin in stunned disbelief. Then the realization that it was the truth hit him like a punch in the gut. During the pursuit, he had wondered what the invaders had hoped to accomplish, raiding so late into the fall. And at times he had felt that tracking the marauders had been too simple, that they were not even making an attempt at covering their tracks. But he had dismissed it, assuming that the goblins had simply grown overconfident and careless, or even plain stupid. In reality, it had been Skirfir himself that had been guilty of overconfidence, and he had underestimated his foe.

As soon as the truth had dawned on him, Skirfir had ordered his dwarves to make ready to return to Khâr Zagâl. Fortunately, both of the wounded were able to walk, although two other warriors were detailed to keep to their slower pace. Skirfir and the remaining Dwarf, Lofar, had made the best possible time back to the outpost. But they had arrived too late to warn their brethren.

From the rocky ledge, Skirfir could see the savages crawling over the structures below. Occasional fights would break out among the goblins over a particularly valuable piece of plunder, or even the remains of one of Skirfir's folk. He could hear the goblins singing, and chanting to the beat of the drumming, as they searched from building to building, with the howls increasing in volume whenever they found a survivor of the attack. Though the pain of helplessness burned deep within him, Skirfir knew that he could do nothing to help his kin. Any rash action would certainly lead only to his death, and the deaths of the dwarves accompanying him, leaving no one to avenge the fallen.

But, he vowed to himself, one day he would return at the head of a great company of dwarves. He would hunt down the rakhâs, and exterminate them. Aye, by Aulë, he would track down this marauding band of goblins and slay every last one. Yes, there would be a day for celebrating, and for singing remembrances to those slain this day. But for that to happen, he and his companions needed to survive, and grow wealthy and strong.

An idea began to form in Skirfir's mind. Recently, tales had begun to be told of a dwarf kingdom that had been retaken, first from a monstrous drake and then from a goblin army. Travelers had spoken of the great war, describing the victory of an alliance of dwarves, men and elves. In this newly restored kingdom, a brave warrior could rise in rank and influence, if he dared. And with that influence, he could draw strong fighters to himself.

After what seemed like hours, Skirfir turned his back on Khâr Zagâl for the last time. He climbed back down from the edge of the cliff and faced the remaining members of his scouting party. “Remember this day, my brothers,” he muttered grimly to his barely visible companions, their grey cloaks pulled low over their faces. “Remember it long, for one day we will have our vengeance. One day the rakhâs will hear 'Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!' But that day will not be soon.”

Skirfir began to walk, away from Khâr Zagâl, away from his former life, into a breeze that dried the tears on his face. As one, his men followed, turning their backs on the smoke rising from Khâr Zagâl into the bright, clear sky.

They headed west. To Erebor.


Some of the players at the local game shop are getting together a group to play the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop, specifically Battle Companies (which requires only a handful of models to start).

As usual, I've decided to start a dwarf warband. Since the Games Workshop models are no longer available, we're allowing proxies to be used. I've chosen the wonderful new plastic dwarves from Northstar. The models are designed to be used with the forthcoming Oathmark rules, but are very Tolkien-esque in design and will fit in wherever dwarf models are needed.

Step one is cleaning up the torsos and putting them on bases.I decided to use the Frostgrave plastic bases. Even though the figures are plastic, I still pin them to the bases for security. I know it is probably overkill, but it's been a habit of mine for a long time.

I like my plastic figures to have a little weight to them, so I usually glue the bases onto a 1" washer.

The hole in the washer has the added benefit of being a perfect place to glue a rare earth magnet, as I keep most of my figures in plastic storage bins with metal sheet glued onto the bottom.


The Northstar figures are plastic, and are easily customizable. And the parts are readily interchangeable with the other plastic sets from Northstar. For example, the two-handed axes for my dwarves are from the Frostgrave Soldiers set.

The models are easy to assemble, and paint up nicely. On these models I simply primed black, drybrushed chainmail on the armor, painted the base colors and gave them a wash before varnishing. That's it.



They won't win any prizes, but they are perfectly good for tabletop gaming. I'm looking forward to getting them on a table and smashing some Moria goblins!

'Til next time!


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Anvil Industries Bits

Yesterday, I received an eagerly awaited package from Anvil Industries in the UK!

Heads for the Goliath gang, and extra goodies.
As most of you may know, last month saw the re-release of a version of Necromunda by Games Workshop. It has some significant differences to the old game, while still drawing from its roots. I got the game, but held off on building any of the figures for the included gangs. I wanted to do something different with them, and just couldn't figure out what that would be.

Enter Ram Sosen, who posted his Goliath ganger conversion on Facebook. As soon as I saw his photos, I knew I had to use his idea! I absolutely love the way the Goliath gangers look with Brodie-style gladiator helmets from Anvil. They add a ton of character to the standard Goliath figures, and will make them really stand out in the Underhive. So I headed over to their site and ordered those helmets for myself.

Gladiator heads.
While I was poking around Anvil's site, I came across some other accessories that caught my eye. Their riot shields look great, and will look even better on my Necromunda Arbites/Enforcers when I add an imperial aquila to them.

Riot shields and modern weapons.
Anvil also makes a sprue of modern weapons that are great for modern and post-apocalyptic games. The set includes six weapons:
  • Tavor
  • Suppressed Tavor
  • P90
  • AK74
  • G36C
  • Custom AR15
  • Kel-Tec KSG
Since I've shot several of these weapons in real life, adding them to any zombie-hunting post-apocalypse version of me that I make is a no-brainer (not a zombie pun). My favorites are the P90 (of Stargate SG-1 fame) and the Tavor.

P90 (left) and Tavor (right) rifles.
Now that the bits have arrived, I have begun work on building and converting my Goliaths. On Tuesdays, I take my son to a PE class and wait in the car. Rather than read or nap, I've put some tools and models in a bin and work on modeling for an hour.

Working in the car while waiting on my son.
I'll post again soon showing how the helmets look on my Goliath gang.

'Til next time!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review - PlayTek Construction and Military Set (Lego clone brand)

Last week I stopped by the local Five Below store to look for pipe straws (for a Necromunda terrain project - which will hopefully be the subject of a later post), when I stumbled across a display of construction and military toy sets using bricks similar to Lego bricks. There is no brand name displayed on the box, just a small logo on the rear for  a company called PlayTek. At $4 each I could not pass them up and bought one from each series to evaluate. This is what I found...

First up, the small Dump Truck. The set is one of a series of eight, that when combined can be used to build a large crane with a trailer and a smaller crane. The box shows the dump truck on the front, and the back shows the entire series that is available.

Front of package.
Back of package.

The set comes in three bags, which unlike Lego sets are not numbered. And it includes a large instruction sheet. The images in the instructions are small, and at times hard to make out, but the overall build is relatively simple so it is easy to figure out. The sheet also has the instructions for the large crane.

Parts and instructions.
Upon examining the bricks, I found them to be good, but not great. The plates had a small dimple on in of the studs. And the tires had little bits of rubber peeling off on one side, the other side was perfectly smooth. Not major defects, in my opinion, but not quite Lego quality. I did find that the bricks held together well, and these issues did not have any impact on building the set.

Plates with dimples in studs.
Tires with rubber "flash."
A bigger issue, I feel, is that the top of the truck has printing on it - a date and a number! I solved this problem (details later) but it definitely is something I was not expecting.

Printing on top of the truck!
The cab of the truck was very straightforward to assemble, and the style of it matches that of many Lego truck designs. The next portion of the build was the real surprise, at least to me. The whole dump trailer is built "upside down," that is to say, the studs all point downwards when it is complete! It's very interesting, and works quite well.

Dump bin completed.
The dump trailer is build "upside down."
As far as the color of the bricks, they are quite close to Lego's light orange color. (The wedge plate is Lego.)

Color comparison with Lego light orange.
The set also came with a small sticker sheet, a sprue with a set of tools, and one extra piece - an axle plate.

All in all, this is a nice little set that will be very useful in my cityscape. I plan on adding a couple more of the small dump trucks, and based on my experience with this set I will also look to get the cement mixer and one of the small crane or dozers. I'd actually be tempted to get more, but I already have a lot of Lego construction vehicles.

Job's complete!

The other set I bought is for a theme that Lego does not do at all - military. It is a small pickup truck with a gun mounted on top - I guess it would be called a "technical" in certain areas.

Again, the series of eight sets can be combined to build a larger model, in this case an aircraft carrier.

Front of box.

Back of box.

In many aspects, this set is the same as the dump truck. The box contains three bags of parts, not numbered, as well as the instruction sheet for this model and the aircraft carrier.

Contents of box.
Once again, the roof piece had a date and number printed on it... although oddly there are two of that piece in the set and only one has the printing.

Again, printing on the roof piece!
This set did contain a very interesting little part - a 1x2 brick with a grill pattern on one side and a masonry pattern on the opposite side. Lego of course makes both of these, but they are separate parts.

1x2 brick with different patterns on opposite sides.
The gun itself is a neat design, using tap pieces on the sides to secure the shielding.

Detail of gun.
This set had several extra parts, in addition to a sprue of weapons, though no stickers.

Completed set.
The weapon sprue includes a headset, combat knife, tactical baton, billy club, machete, walkie talkie, flashlight, pistol, and two types of grenades. I think these will be very useful for my Lego police/military figures.

Weapon sprue detail.
As with the construction sets, I think I will pick up a couple more from this series - the other vehicle and a chopper for certain.

Once assembled, the only thing left to do was deal with the silly printing. I took some extremely fine grit sandpaper that I use for modeling and gently rubbed the printing off. I suspect that I could get an even smoother finish if I used Brasso or a similar product, but I was in a hurry and the job falls under "good enough."

Models after sanding off the printing on the roofs.
All in all, I enjoyed building these sets. While they are not quite up to Lego quality, they're not bad. I was also impressed that they are not copies of Lego designs, but rather original. Considering the price point (the dump truck is $4 for a 136 piece set), they're a good value and I am looking forward to adding more to my collection.

'Til next time.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Painting figures for Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars Imperial Assault

(from left: BT-1, Hera and Chopper)
Recently, I was asked by a friend to paint some figures for the Star Wars Imperial Assault game by Fantasy Flight. He saw some of the figures I had painted for myself, and he liked them.

I agreed, and I finished them yesterday. So here they are, my first commissioned figures ever. Hopefully there will be more to come because (a) I enjoy the work, and (b) I can always use a little extra money.

The figures he asked to paint are all individual characters, two droids and a Twilek pilot. If you're at all familiar with the Star Wars Rebels animated series, you'll recognize Hera and C1-10P (Chopper).

My friend provided me with picture references of how he wanted them painted. BT-1 and Chopper were pretty straightforward, just like they appear in the comics and animated series. For Hera, he wanted something a bit different. He wanted her flight suit to be in more muted tones, and her skin to be a pale blue with subtle green markings.


BT-1 and his reference photo

C1-10P (Chopper)

Chopper and reference photo

Hera Syndulla

Hera and reference photo

Overall, I am very pleased with how they came out (and I hope my friend is as well). These figures are intended for gaming, not for display. They look better in real life than they do in the photos, as extreme close ups bring out every flaw and brushstroke.

I'll share some more pictures of my work in future posts, hopefully some more paid figures. :)

'Til next time!