Frostgrave: Hirst Arts and Foamcore Building

Wizard House Painted Front We’ve been playing a few warm up games of Frostgrave recently on my old Mordheim table, and it’s quickly become obvious I need a lot more cover! Frostgrave’s combat is considerably more brutal than Mordheim’s, and a few lucky rolls with archery or line-of-sight spells can spell a short end to your warband. I’m used to the dreadfully mediocre archery of Mordheim and my table is usually set up with fairly wide open avenues of fire.

To combat this the first thing I’m going to do is start playing Frostgrave on a 3′ x 3′ table which will allow me to pack my existing buildings into a smaller space. The next thing I’m doing is finishing some outstanding terrain projects to add a few more bits and pieces.

Wizard House Painted Rear First up is this ruined Wizard house, which is based on a Hirst Arts Fieldstone foundation that I built as an early experiment with the excellent Hirst Arts Ruined Fieldstone mold. The photos include an old Mordheim Pit Fighter Hired Sword for scale.

The upper floors are built from foam board with balsa trimmings and the whole thing was speed painted in a weekend, hence the somewhat heavy handed dry brushing on the Hirst Arts blocks. To keep things a little more interesting I tried added a bay window to the first floor, as well as a bit of signage out the front which is meant to indicate an Alchemist or Wizard’s goblet of some kind.

I’ve also thrown together a handful more balsa wood walkways and ladders for the table, and plan to build another three for four fence sections too. As well as carefully considering Frostgrave spells that actively block LOS like the Elemamentalist’s “Wall”, Illusionsist’s “Invisibility”, or the Witch’s “Fog”.

This is Not a Test: Pig Iron Productions Militia

Pig Iron Production Kolony Militia I’m painting a variety of figures at the moment, and latest off the paint station are these three Pig Iron Productions figures for a second “This is Not a Test” warband. They’re built from a couple of the Pig Iron Production sets: the heads are Kolony Militia covered helmets, while their torsos and legs are Kolony Rebel parts.

I mixed the heads and torsos because I wanted a bunch of raggedy-assed looking military survivors. Perhaps they were in the National Guard before the Fall happened, or perhaps they’ve raided an Army depot afterwards. The Kolony rebels have nice variety of tattered uniforms, but the helmets and gas masks still make them look like a unit.

I’m also experimenting with painting a couple of different camo options on them too. I’m trying to produce a camo scheme in 28mm that sort of suggests modern “digital camo”, without having to paint a million tiny squares. Here I’ve tried to paint a couple of desert schemes, as well as a sort of autumn woodland scheme. I plan to try a few others, perhaps a blue/grey urban scheme, and a scheme which is a little heavier on the green for a woodlands camo.

The figures are based on a mixed variety of resin bases I’ve picked up from Mighty Ape sales. I’ve used both Secret Weapon Miniatures bases, and Micro Art Studio bases.

These Pig Iron Productions metal figures are just a joy to paint. They’re pewter so feel lovely and heavy in your hand, something I miss with resins and plastics. They have plenty of variety in poses and detailing to keep the painting interesting. For example I didn’t notice that figure on the left was wearing some kind of rigid carapace armor or vest until I primed him up. He also has a bunch more webbing packs, so half way through painting he became the team’s medic. Pig Iron Productions figures aren’t cheap, but they are lovely and worth what you pay for them. I absolutely recommend them if you’re looking for any kind of sci-fi or post apocalyptic soldier in 28mm. I’m looking forward to painting the rest of the warband.

TCOW: Bludgefest!

TCOW Bludgefest 2015 This weekend at TCOW, I was supposed to play a game of This is Not a Test against another clubbie. Unfortunately I miscalculated on the amount of fantastic bargains that would be available at the ‘Bludgefest’ swap meet that was going on at the same time. The photo shows about 1/3rd of the nerdy goodness that was available for trade or purchase.

I spent the whole afternoon talking nonsense, and pawing through various boxes of sprues and metal soldiers on a bunch of tables set up in the sun. It was glorious! I parted with a few things I didn’t need any more, Star Wars Armada (which I found a disappointing game with very expensive expansions) and a Warmachine Cryx starter set. That gave me plenty of spending money to pick up a bunch of random stuff from the various tables, which I probably also didn’t need…

TCOW Bludgefest 2015 Haul My haul consisted of two partially stripped sprues from the older Warhammer Skaven Battalion box, which gave me enough bits for two Rat Ogres for my unpainted Mordheim Skaven warband for $3. I also picked up a bunch of OOP Skaven metals from various releases for a $1 each, which gives me plenty of character models for the warband too. Deathmaster Snikch in particular is a beautiful bit of sculpture. A rather impractical figure for Mordheim but he’ll be fun to paint.

The half price Panzer II will go into my DAK force, since it did actually appear in North Africa, unlike my early Pulp painted Panzer 38(T). It’s the older Warlord resin model, which is still a lovely bit of kit. In Bolt Action the Panzer II is only 10pts more expensive than an SdKfz-222 armored car, has exactly the same armament, but is a full tracked and enclosed light tank. It’ll probably be just as effective as my Panzer III against infantry and armored cars, but at around half the points cost.

Finally a gent was flogging off his ‘Toughest Girls in the Galaxy’ Kickstarter figures. These weren’t cheap, so I only grabbed three. They’re lovely sculpts, even if one of the figures has an annoying miscast issue which I only noticed on assembly. I plan to paint them up as civilian volunteers as part of my second This is Not a Test warband.

Next TCOW I must remember to actually play a game of something!

Ultracal 30 Suppliers in New Zealand

hirstArtsMordheimTiles I used up the last of my USGS Ultracal 30 years ago and haven’t done any casting since then because the supplier I used closed up shop. I’ve always cast my Hirst Arts molds with Ultracal 30 because it’s a superbly hard, quick setting, low shrinkage gypsum plaster.

Asking amongst my hobbyist friends a while ago, Kim recommended New Zealand Ceiling and Drywall Supplies who I’ve finally got around to trying. Their price for 22 kg bag of Ultracal 30 is a little more than my previous supplier, but they deliver to your door for free, and they’ll happily deliver even a single bag, which surprised me. Their delivery is super prompt too, I ordered on Monday and a bag of Ultracal 30 was on my doorstep by Wednesday lunchtime.

That’s great service, but beware they’re delivery naked paper sacks of plaster so you probably want to order during summer rather than winter because you don’t want them getting wet. However because of the price and service, I’ll definitely be using NZCDS again when I need more good casting plaster.

So now I have Ultracal 30 back in the garage I’ve gone on something of a casting spree. The photo shows the last four 1′ x 1′ tiles I’ve cast up, assembled and dry brushed this past week for my Mordheim table. These four tiles mean I now have enough to cover a standard 4′ x 4′ play area. Unfortunately it also means I have another 4 square feet of table that needs to be covered with ruined Mordheim buildings. So I’ve dug out a couple of medium to large Hirst Arts projects and am just considering how I’m going to finish them off…

Desert Cadians – Speed Painted

Speed Painted Cadians Right! Here’s the squad of plastic Cadians I primed with Army Painter Desert Yellow around a week ago – finished and varnished already. I think they look perfectly acceptable for rank and file.

The colour primer helped speed up the process immensely. I over-painted it in a few places where shadowing left too much grey showing, but generally didn’t bother. Over the primer went a base coat of Vallejo paints for the armor, bronze and gold for the insignia and metallics for the weaponry. The only parts that had any more than a base coat applied were the flesh tones which were highlighted in a couple of steps, as well as the weapons. The bases were drybrushed a lighter tone to cover the model railway ballast a little more. After that Wattyl ‘All In One’ satin varnish in the colour of ‘Kauri’ was painted on carefully (avoiding bubbles and blobs) and then left to dry. Followed by a dusting of Testor’s Dull Coat lacquer.

I’m busy assembling a second Cadian squad. I think for this lot I’ll try my hand at a ‘pea’ style desert camo just out of interest and to distinguish the squads a little.

Linka Dublo Brick Corner Store – Painted

Dublo OO Scale Corner Shop Here’s the Linka Dublo corner store, painted and varnished. It was painted with a mixture of old Games Workshop paints, and Vallejo game colours. The bricks were dry brushed with GW’s Graveyard Earth (which is apparently no longer produced?) and then several were picked out on each wall in a variety of colours, just to break up the monotony. You can’t see it in this photo, but I’ve done the same with the roofing slate, painting some areas darker or lighter to try and suggest repairs or weathering.

The window glass is just cut from a sheet of laminating plastic, and the curtains are just small pieces of A4 paper glued to the inside of each window. You can see into the interior space if you try hard enough, so the middle floor has a bit of foam board separating the front and back windows to stop you looking straight through. It works quite nicely to suggest there might be an interior space to the building.

For the larger shop front windows I had to resort to wedging the ‘glass’ in using matchsticks at the corners, one of which you can see on the right side of the smaller window. The items on display are glued onto a couple of pieces of foamboard cut at an angle to match the recessed doorway.

I’ve applied a bunch of suitable 1930’s signage from the Model Railway Scenery website. A mix of posters have been applied to both sides of the building so it can be stacked at either end against the row of terraced houses I built earlier. The shop front signage was just whipped up in Inkscape using some free ‘Western’ fonts from dafont.com.

The final building is only loosely based on the famous ‘Open All Hours’ store. The building used in the show actually had a bay window above the main shop front. The shop front itself also had more woodwork over the door and display windows. Modelling at this scale provided some constraints which meant I didn’t got for an exact match, but rather something that would be easy to build and at least appear similar to Arkright’s store.

Linka Dublo Brick Corner Store – Open All Hours

Dublo OO Scale Corner Shop Several years ago now I built my father-in-law a row of terraced Dublo OO scale shops using Linka Molds. Now I’ve got him again for the family present exchange and have decided to create a small corner shop using the remaining Linka casts that have been sitting in my garage for seven years. After digging them out I was happy to find I do have enough casts left to make another small building.

The photo shows the basic frontage for the store built up using scrap plasticard and foam board, before I started patching the gaps Linka molds occasionally produce. I’m aiming to build something that looks like the corner shop from a classic 70’s British sitcom: Open All Hours. It’s not going to be an exact match because I don’t have the patience to construct bay windows using Linka molds – although of course that’s possible with careful cutting. It’s also going to be the same height and width as the older buildings I constructed, so they fit together nicely on a Dublo railway table.

The shop windows will be cut from OHP transparency plastic, and populated with items from various Model Railway Scenery PDF files, which are a very reasonably priced source of OO scale printable railway scenery. They also provide a nice sheet of 1930’s era advertising, which while a little anachronistic for Open All Hours, works nicely for a Dublo train table. I intend to slap a few of these on the blank side of the store to break up the monotonous brickwork.

PAX Aus: From Pixels and Putty Panel

PAX Aus LogoI attended PAX Aus this weekend. Fortunately the Melbourne Exhibition Centre was a much better venue this year, and one of the many excellent panels I made it to was ‘From Pixels and Putty to Awesome Tabletop Miniatures’.

The speakers were:

  1. Andrew Lum and Robert Sakaluk from Aetherworks
  2. Peter Overton from Twisted Miniatures
  3. Kosta Heristanidis from Eureka Miniatures
  4. Craig Clarke from CNC Workshop
  5. Jake Schneider from Dark Wolf Studios

Victoria Lamb was supposed to turn up too but couldn’t make it for some reason alas.

It was a great panel, and covered a bunch of stuff from traditional putty sculpting over a wire armature for figure work, which I’m reasonably familiar with from years of wargaming, to more modern hard edge work using CAD packages like Sketch UP and 3D rapid prototyping.

The panel consensus seemed to be that consumer grade 3D printing was probably ten years away from being capable of producing the sort of detail you’d want on a war gaming figure. However I’d argue that depends perhaps on what scale you’re working in, and what you’re trying to produce. It seems possible to produce reasonably decent hard edged terrain and vehicles with the consumer grade 3D printers you can buy today, if you’re willing to rework the prints a little. Human 28mm wargaming figures are another story of course, there the 10 year window does seem more reasonable.

Sketch Up was mentioned by two of the sculptors as being their preferred tool, and as it’s a free product I definitely need to spend some time practicing with it. CNC Workshop use Sketch Up to lay out their MDF laser cut terrain kits, and Dark Wolf Studios are using Sketch Up mainly for vehicle parts to customise 40k kits. Dustan also bought himself a Makerbot 3D printer a while back and is going gang busters on it too, so I know at least one local who can render Sketch up plans into ABS plastic.

The panel also lamented how awful Shapeways was for any kind of figure or small scale war game work. Somebody recommended Moddler instead for producing finished resin masters from your plans. They look very professional though, and quote for individual work so best make damn sure you have something in a final form to print.

I live in Ubuntu these days because I find it a heck of a lot more productive than Windows. Fortunately Sketch Up can apparently run under Wine according to these instructions. Time to try putting together something to send to Dustan!

Army Painter Products in New Zealand

Slavetopainting.co.nz My gaming buddies have just pointed out there’s a new online store in New Zealand selling Army Painter products: Slavetopainting.co.nz.

I haven’t used Army Painter products in the past myself because the cost was prohibitive by the time exchange rates and international shipping were added. I resorted to mixing my own dips instead. However now there’s a local supplier for Army Painter products with reasonable prices I may have to give them a crack. I’m also particularly interested to see how matt the Army Paint matt varnish is, considering Moana varnish is no longer being produced locally.

Slave to painting also carry a nice line of priming and basing products which also look intriguing, and are certainly considerably cheaper than Games Workshop’s equivalent products.