Thursday, December 08, 2011

2012 Eldar Rumors!

Take these with a grain of salt, but these are some rumored rules I've heard about a 2012 upcoming Eldar book!

Wisdom of the Ages - Eldar Farseers are masters of controlling psychic powers. Any psychic test roll of 10 or less made by Farseers automatically passes unless other modifiers negate this, especially anything by forces of the Imperium.

Made Of Freaking Glass Or Something - Eldar are frail and break if glared at harshly. All enemies re-roll rolls to wound against Eldar models. Enemies that would normally get a re-roll to wound get a second re-roll, overriding the "one re-roll" rule completely.

Ninja Throwing Star Gun Pew Pew - Eldar shuriken weapons are especially deadly against unarmored foes. Any enemy model with no armor save or invulnerable save wounded by a shuriken weapon automatically takes one wound.

Flying Tanks! - All Eldar vehicles use a "bottom" armor characteristic of 6 instead of front, side or rear when targeted by anything on the ground. Grav tanks that have disembarked troops that turn and have not moved since are exempt from this rule until they move.

I'm Pretty Sure I Have Some Art To Do - Eldar guardians can always choose to be wiped out in assault, since they'd really rather be pursuing other interests.

Ancient Enemy - An opponent fielding any unit aligned with the Chaos god Slaanesh may touch the Eldar player in a sensual and potentially confusing way immediately before each Eldar shooting phase.

Alright! Time to start saving my pennies for a new army!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kamikaze Credit Where Credit Is Due

Kamikaze from Serious Sam, c. 2001
With a new Serious Sam game being released, I thought I would pay homage to the first shooter I remember that had a suicidal bomber enemy that would run kamikaze at you... and it's not Serious Sam.

I really liked PC games from the mid-90's through the early 00's. I typically had a PC that could handle them too. It was Doom that convinced me to drop my Amiga and get a PC, and from there it was a non-stop shooters, RTS, and just about any other game I could find. I was present for the birth of hardware accelerated 3D, and it was good. Demos were plentiful too, and although high speed internet was much more rare than nowadays most computer magazines had a CD of demos tucked in the sleeve. (Remember those? Printed magazines?) In 2001, FPS games had gotten a little crazy in complexity and narrative. Everyone wanted to have Doom's success, but with more thinky. Along comes this out-of-nowhere development team, from Croatia of all places, with a fun, fast, mindless romp of an FPS called Serious Sam. It was universally loved. If you didn't love it, get out of my universe. Old Man Murray even interviewed its creator. Twice.

One of the many web-based reviews was going on and on and on about how great it was, and gushed on about how original the screaming kamikaze bombers of Serious Sam were, a new enemy never seen before. Immediately, I thought to another shooter I had played, MDK, which also had screaming kamikaze bombers. MDK was released in 1997 and it wasn't a big hit, so I suppose it was a forgivable oversight on the part of the reviewer. I decided to send a quick and friendly heads-up to the reviewer... something along the lines of:
Regarding your Serious Sam review, the kamikaze bombers are very cool but this isn't the absolute first time we've seen something like them. MDK had kamikaze enemies that ran at you holding a bomb over their head. Thanks for the great web site, etc, etc.
The one-line response from the reviewer was something like:
I don't remember anything like that in MDK.
 Well, that will teach me, won't it? He doesn't remember it, therefore we may imply that it didn't happen.

Fast forward ten years, and the Amazon App Store free download of the day is "Serious Sam Kamikaze Attack" and memories of this whole forgotten exchange flood back. What was the name of that game again? What web-site was that? I may not remember the web-site that had the review, but I was able to dredge up the name MDK and here is incontrovertible proof of the MDK bomber dudes existed, via the miracle of youtube (time 5:30-6:00 roughly.)

Ha! Take that, ten year old computer game review! 
Plus, you gotta admit... MDK was pretty amazing for its time.

The Escalating Hello Kitty Project

A woman I barely know at work has seen some of my miniature painting, since I sometimes paint at lunch. She had all the usual comments and questions for someone who doesn't know much about the hobby, but seemed to appreciate the work. About a month ago she asked me to paint something Hello Kitty for her daughter's birthday.  I assumed that she wanted me to personalize a toy by painting something on it. "Sure, whatever you need," I answered.

Do you see the problem with that offer? I didn't at the time. Next thing I know I'm not only painting three Hello Kitty figures, but sculpting them as well based on a page from a coloring book. Oh, and they are big. Here is a regular terminator for scale.
He has a 3++ save against cute.
In retrospect I should have corrected the issue immediately, but instead I just ran with it like I knew that was the plan the whole time. I didn't want her to feel like I had agreed to something and was backing out just because she and I didn't have a complete understanding of what I would be able to do well. This is really the first time I've sculpted something like this. After about 20 hours of work and several serious miss-steps, I was finally able to get them together and paint them (poorly) and am delivering them today. They are by no means sturdy, so I hope they survive transport. I was fairly happy with the little dance floors I made for them.

So, the take away here (which you would think I would already know in my line of work) is to define your scope and set expectations early.

Hmmmm.... maybe I'll use what I've learned to sculpt my own Teddy for Malifaux.....

My Strange Children and the Waffled Cheese Sandwich

I was home with my kids last weekend, and prep for lunch started. They clamored for grilled cheese, so I dug around in the drawer that houses our Salton sandwich maker. One of the kids spotted the waffle iron in that same drawer and suggested we make the sandwiches in the waffle iron instead. Hmmm. Strange idea, but why not?
Hey, that's not a waffle
It actually worked out pretty well. Once done, the bread had a distinctly waffle-like quality to it. The sandwiches were definitely a unique twist on plain old grilled cheese.
It's a waffled cheese sandwich!
Warning though... the bread and cheese left little burned spots on the waffle iron that came out as black dots in the next waffle I made. Next time I will definitely take more care to clean the waffle iron when I'm done.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Thing That Ate Nino

This was my Rotten Harvest entry in the "Things That Go Bump In The Night" category. Since the contest I have added a few rocks to the base, just to break up the sand texture a little.

The inspiration for this piece came from playing a game of Malifaux against a guild player using Nino Ortega. We put far too little terrain on the board, but as a new player I didn't know any better. All I remember was thinking, "Something had better eat him before he kills all my models." Behold that something.

The model is scratch built, sculpted initially from Fimo polymer clay around an aluminum foil core.

The Fimo / Sculpey version
After the Fimo was baked I used epoxy putty (green and gray) to sculpt on the features. To give the mouth some depth, teeth were sculpted on the model, and the lips were sculpted over them. Lots of watered down Milliput was used to get the body as smooth as possible but it still took a ton of sanding to get it even close to where I wanted. The little legs are based on an illustration I saw years and years ago from a book of Arthurian legend depicting a battle with a Wyrm with many short, taloned legs in a very centipede-like layout. I figure everything in Malifaux has to be at least obliquely referential to something else, right? I had intended them to lay more flat against the body, which probably would have looked better.

The original plan was to put him on a 50mm base, since that's the largest base used in Malifaux, and to have the hat sitting on the ground in front of him to suggest who the victim is. My hobby group convinced me to use a larger base to get my narrative across, which I appreciated. My stubborn insistence on using game appropriate bases limited my Space Marine vs. Howling Banshee diorama to 40mm, and for the life of me I don't know what I was thinking. After switching to the larger base size, my daughter saw the sculpted hat and declared that he should wear it. I resisted the idea for about 10 seconds until I saw the genius of it. "I ate you, and now I'm going to wear your hat." It reminded me of the very old Far Side cartoon of vultures eating some carrion, and one of them has a cowboy hat on doing his cowboy impersonation.

The translucent image of the victim was always part of the plan, but it didn't go quite as well as hoped. I'm not entirely sure what I should have done differently, but it could just as easily be an image on the outside of the stomach as the inside. Some people in the comments obviously got it, others did not.
Getting closer. Just needs his lunch painted in.
The cactus was an interesting challenge. Each lobe was sculpted separately, and the whole thing glued together with the tiniest of contact points. Touch the thing and it falls apart.

So there it is. My first fully sculpted and painted miniature. I'm pleased with it despite the flaws and lessons learned.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wyrd Rotten Harvest Entry - Ghost Girl

This started out as an entry for the "Harrowing Harvest" duel category, with Reaper's Clarissa painted as a ghost (using the water sculpted on the base as a sort of "spectral splash") facing off against an undead hunter, utilizing OSL. The two figures just never really popped on the base together, so I decided to use Clarissa on her own. Most of the critique mentions the disconnect between the base and the mini, and this is mostly due to me having painted the mini separately and gluing to the base later. I really should have gap filled better between the "splash" and the grave, but I really didn't notice how bad it was until looking at the photos later. Most of the time my angle of viewing during painting the base (directly overhead) obscured the disconnect.

I had considered adding a tree, some clumps of grass or similar to make the base look busier, but in the end just was running too low on time. The snake (which I will post later) was my main entry, and most of the time went to him, being fully sculpted. I'll probably add some more details, clean up the OSL in some spots and then post this to CMON.

At the end of voting, she got 3rd place in her category, with which I am very pleased. Kudos to my wife for suggesting the red eyes. The original eyes were yellow-green, and Stef knew that a little touch of complementing red would give the model a nice focus point. Was she ever right!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Hako" Means "Absent" in Swahili

And I regularly live up to the name by fading away for a few weeks.

Rotten Harvest pics have been up for nearly a week. Today is probably the last day to vote, so if you are so inclined and already have an account on Wyrd's forum go take a gander. Do not create an account just to vote on stuff (specifically mine) because you'll potentially get the person disqualified for vote stacking. After the contest is over I'll post photos of my entries along with some WIP shots. I can't say I'm 100% pleased with any of my entries, but they aren't terrible overall. Only my accursed photography is terrible. Of the three entries only the ghost girl photos look halfway decent. The other two are so overexposed (is over-saturated the term?) that the qualities of the color are lost. The base on the snake looks completely yellow, much to my dismay.

So I suppose now I should start dragging myself back into life... answering my phone, returning emails, etc.

EDIT: Woo! Pulled off 3rd place in "Not Quite Dead Yet" with 21 votes for the ghost girl! I even managed to get 9 votes with the snake in his category, putting him in 5th place!

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Waiting Game

I've been waiting for the voting galleries to be open for Wyrd's Rotten Harvest. The deadline for submission was midnight on Halloween, and judging by the time it's taking to get the images anonymous and ready for comment/voting I'm guessing there are a lot of them. Some of us have been having some fun in the contest thread while we wait.

It reminds me of waiting on pins and needles a few years ago, just after my bronze Golden Demon. I eagerly awaited the White Dwarf issue showing off all the Chicago winners. For some reason, I was completely stoked by the idea of seeing something I had created appearing in glossy print, even if it was in GW's $7 advertisement magazine. After many months of waiting I mentioned how eager I was to my local GW store manager. "Oh, hey. I don't know how to tell you this, but Golden Demon coverage got discontinued this year. They're going to show all the Slayer Sword winners in one issue when all the Games Days are done, but that's it."

Hopefully this waiting won't be quite as disappointing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sorrows ... and more

Bill's Sorrows, about which he is pleased.
The lunch time painting continued this week, with Bill putting most of the finishing touches on his Sorrows. They are looking good! I stuck some Vallejo black lava to the base, since all other basing ideas he's had would just take too long on our big Malifaux project plan. No, we haven't made a Gantt chart. Get your PMP out of my toy soldier hobby.

"But Mike," you ask plaintively, "aren't you going to tell us what you've been working on?" Okay, but only in the vaguest of terms. I have been working on three entries for Wyrd's Rotten Harvest painting competition. Two of my entries are definitely complex... almost as complex as my Golden Demon entries have been. One of them in particular has taken me the better part of a month to get to this point, and I'm really hoping to have it done for Monday.

Additionally, I have been putting some time into a new web venture. It's just getting going but it has a lot of future potential and I'm doing all the programming, mostly in PHP, to interact with Google Docs / Google Checkout. Once I get the scaffolding around the product, I can start to fill in the details and it's going to be very, very cool.

Add-Additionally, I have been programming in the Corona SDK. The end result will be games in the Android Marketplace first and eventually the Apple AppStore. Nothing incredibly fancy, but simple games in a genre that is underrepresented in the marketplace now. Hopefully, under-representation and reasonably quick time to market can result in sales. I need to fork out $200 for the Corona Indie license, so hopefully I'll have that available after Progressive is done repeatedly violating my desiccated corpse. As it is I may be liquidating some of my minis to fund Yule-tide festivities.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Behold The Legal Process!

Yup, apparently Progressive Insurance has decided to sue me over the little mishap that I had two years ago. As it turns out, my car insurance had lapsed (by about 30 hours) when the accident happened, so under Michigan law I am apparently not covered under the "no fault" law. That means I am directly liable for all the damages paid by Progressive for the  other person's car. Whee. And the insurance company carrying my policy at the time (although not exactly that time) ... also Progressive. In fact, I'm still a customer of theirs. Go figure.

The lesson here, my little internets, is always pay your car insurance.

Also, thanks to this video for showing me how to make the curvy text in Gimp.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thank You, Dennis Ritchie

Unbeknownst to me, mere days before I posted this little homage to my introduction to programming as an adolescent, Dennis Ritchie died.

The death of Steve Jobs did not affect me greatly. I appreciate the attention to elegance and detail that Apple applies to their design, but I have barely used Apple products in my adult life. What Mac aficionados must have felt at Jobs' passing, I am feeling a bit of that with the death of Ritchie.

Dennis Ritchie created C, which I have repeatedly referred to as my "first language" as a programmer ("first" being akin to "native" in this case.) Every other language I have worked in I have done so with a C accent. C was beautifully small and efficient, fast in execution and powerful in capability. It is the language crafted to build the UNIX kernel. You could create code that practically read like English, or you could create code that stomped rampantly over anything in memory. Even the manual was a concise, elegant work, telling you everything you needed to know in an impossibly short format. "C is not a big language, and it is not well served by a big book," the preface of the 2nd edition of "The C Programming Language" reads.

I began programming in C in the late 80's, after buying my Commodore Amiga. I had programmed games in BASIC for what seemed like ages, but the speed of that interpreted language always bothered me. I had successfully learned to program in the compiled language Pascal, and now I was ready to try something that could do what I wanted really fast. There were numerous C examples showing how to access the Amiga's graphics and sound, and I dove in (with limited success) to learn to do that. It wasn't until I got a PC (an AMD 486 clone) in the early 90's that I acquired Borland's Turbo C and really got to work. Game programmers like Id Software and how-to authors like Michael Abrash opened the gates of knowledge to the arcane VGA card to me and my friend Jens. When we acquired a student discounted edition of Watcom's C/C++ compiler with its integrated Rational Systems DOS/4G Extender, the flat memory model became available and I felt like something magic had happened. All of memory was available to me without all that XMS/EMS and segment/offset malarkey.

Professionally as a test/measurement software engineer, I wrote C programs to access hardware, to process test data, to display user interfaces and graphs of results. When I came to my current job, I wrote a few utilities in C at first, but found scripting languages like Perl or UNIX shell more useful for what I needed to do. Still, as I said, I approach every new syntax I learn with the silent question of "I know how to do this in C. How do I do it in X?"

Thanks, Dennis.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Generation 6502

I read a post at headcaseGames-Blog that got me thinking. What makes a programmer? Way back in the late 1970's, the very forward-thinking Bill Brown, principal of Miller Elementary, allowed students' families to "rent" the school computer for a weekend at a time (for a paltry $10.) On several occasions, my family did this. My younger brothers and I would load games that used Commodore's character graphics set off of cassette tapes and were in complete bliss. The poor Atari VCS (which was actually a Sears Tele-Games, if I recall correctly... there was no "2600" nomenclature back then) sat unused in the presence of the COMMODORE P.E.T. with its mighty 8k RAM.

My dad observed what we were doing and asked, "Why don't you just write your own game?"

"You can write your own game?"

"Sure. Let me show you." (Cue clouds parting and sunlight pouring down.) In about 10 minutes my dad had figured out how to use the machine's built-in BASIC interpreter to write a little "guess the number" game. My brothers and I took turns changing the target number in the program and then reveling in watching each other guess and be told by a computer whether their guess was high or low. Upon correctly guessing, the number of attempts would be reported. It was pure magic. Those ten minutes my dad spent showing us how to write a tiny BASIC program charted the course for the next 30 years of my life.

Like many of my nerdy friends, I ended up buying my own computer, and we all were programmers. Well, we all programmed anyway. Between the Vic-20's, the TI-99/4A's, the Apple II's, the C-64's and the Atari 400/800's we had a diverse little platform group, most of which were based on the MOS 6502 CPU. They had their differences, but at the core they all had a BASIC interpreter built into ROM. Sure there was lots of software available on cartridge or cassette or even the mythical 5.25" floppy, but all of us put a great deal of time into writing our own programs. We even performed the time consuming activity of typing programs into our computers that were published in Compute! magazine or its ilk. After a few hours of typing (typically with one friend dictating) we would hold our breath and type RUN. If it didn't work we would pour over the code and figure out what we typed wrong, often one number in the endless blocks of DATA statements.

So not only did we hunger to program, but we had endless good examples of simple programs to help us understand how the whole thing worked. There was voodoo that we didn't understand yet (Interrupt requests! Player/Missile graphics! Machine language! Sprites!) but we marched relentlessly forward in our knowledge. I clearly remember learning about string variables by analyzing a program I had loaded, forever loosing me from the constraints of only storing numbers.

Years later I wonder how any kid gets into programming today. My daughter is at the age when I was obsessed with programming. She loves computer games, but the idea of programming has no real appeal for her. Everything she could do, all those little triumphs I experienced, have been done 100 times better already, and there is too much competition for her free time to make those first steps seem appealing. Maybe if I get her an Android phone I can get her interested in the Corona SDK.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sea Monster Self-Portrait?

As reported here, a husband/wife team from Mount Hol­yoke Col­lege are asserting that the fossilized remains of several bus-sized ichthyosaurs at Nevada's Ber­lin-Ich­thy­o­saur State Park are actually the remnants of prior meals of an enormous ancient octopus, and that the beast had arranged the bones, specifically the vertebrae of the ichthyosaurs, to make something of a self-portrait. You can see what resembles a sucker pattern in the image here.

Is this possible? My first thought was "infinite monkey syndrome." Given enough time, there eventually will be an octopus lair with bones that make a reasonable facsimile of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. Perhaps, but not terribly likely, even with the sorts of time they are talking about.

So now I ask myself, how does it affect what we know now if this self-portrait assertion is true? Other than being a terribly interesting fact about a long dead animal, I can't really think of any way this changes our reality . We have already established that octopus are pretty smart without assessing their skills of an artist. The real question, for me, is whether or not I want to live in a world where horrific sea creatures in some dark past would devour other monstrosities and decorate their lairs with the remains.

Yes. Yes I do.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

How Sunbeam Almost Burned Down My House

Title is a bit hyperbolic.

Everybody loves CF bulbs, right? They are shaped funny, they use less energy, and they supposedly last longer than regular incandescent bulbs.

As I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my laptop, one of the four CF bulbs I have in the overhead fixture started flickering and making popping noises. I've had many CF bulbs burn out on me, so I wasn't terribly surprised, but I've never actually watched it happen.  Like I said before, they are supposed to last longer than incandescent bulbs but all the ones I've bought have been determined to prove that assertion wrong.

Anyway, the bulb sputters and dies, and I had two thoughts:
  1. That name brand bulb didn't last as long as the ones I bought from the dollar store.
  2. Looks like I'm going to have to change that ... sometime.
I went back to working, but within about 30 seconds I had an additional two thoughts:
  1. What is that burning smell?
  2. Maybe I should remove that bulb before it ignites.
I turned off the fixture, removed the bulb (clearly the source of the odor once I was close to is) and inspected it. The base was hot to the touch, and you can see the burned area in the photo. I can only imagine how much worse if would have gotten if I had not removed it within 60 seconds. 

From now on, all CF bulbs shall be turned off before we leave the house.

The marking on the bulb say: Sunbeam 120V, 60Hz, 475 mA, FE-IIS-26W, 26W, E217916, 53SJ
The bulb was not used with a dimmer, was not in a totally enclosed or recessed fixture, or used where exposed to the weather. 1007.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Lunchtime Painting 28mm

Hmmm. Shoot the enemy, or make him sad....
so hard to choose.
Bill painted Sorrows. I painted Kell Bailoch while the 15mm minis looked on jealously.

We did a little time analysis, and it's taking Bill about three sessions to paint a Sorrow now. Given that we have about 30 sessions in his 15 week term, and that 10 of them are gone, the goal of getting the entire Pandora box painted in these 15 weeks seems unattainable.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

PSA: Talk To Your Kids About This Tragedy

A friend of mine buried his 14 year-old daughter today. Abi had been experimenting with self-asphyxiation (called "the choking game" among other names) and things had gone wrong. There is an absolutely heart-wrenching information video/presentation at that explains more about this. Caleb and Kassi are determined that the truth about this to be known so that other kids don't cut their lives tragically short as their daughter did.

I know a lot of you hobbyists are parents. I have kids myself. As hard as it's going to be, I will be watching this with them tonight. I ask that you do the same.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Galactic Grenadiers 15mm WIP

Galactic Grenadiers, 15mm Militiaman (done... I think) and Planetary Guard (WIP)
I decided to do the militiaman in a stereotypical "army man green" scheme. I had actually put some paint on a couple of these guys back in the 80's, but for some reason chose orange for their helmets, probably because they resembled construction helmets. Who knows what drives the twelve year-old mind? The planetary guard (far left) are used as police in one mission, so I figured I'd paint them blue. The eyes on the suit are so big that I made an attempt at sky-earth reflection. (Who knows what drives the forty-three year-old mind?) I included the completed Grenadier because... well, mostly because he was within arm's reach when I took the photo. The militiaman doesn't have much "pop" right now. I think I need to highlight even lighter, maybe a selective scorpion green or livery green.

I had kept the name of the game these belong to un-revealed in the hopes that someone would recognize them. Upon reflection, my scenario of someone stumbling onto my painted minis and exclaiming "Those are from Ral Partha's 1980 tabletop game Galactic Grenadiers!" seems ... unlikely.

Rules can be found here. Each turn (page 2) is a strange twelve phase ordeal including six specific shooting phases. Combat results are determined by calculating the difference between attack and defense stats of models and rolling 2d6 and comparing to a matrix. One thing I chuckled at is that Imperial elite grenadiers are attack 4 defense 4, while the more basic human militia are attack 3 defense 3. I feel like I've seen that somewhere else... Interestingly enough, models stats go down as they get wounded. To the credit of my younger self, every last piece of the game is accounted for. I was the kind of kid who would keep electronic toys in the original packaging, Styrofoam and all, when not in use.

Paints used, mostly for later reference:


  • Astronomicon Grey base
  • VGC Ghost Grey 1st HL
  • VGC Skull white 2nd HL
  • VGC electric blue visor (mix with white for lower half)
  • Reaper grey liner
  • VGC blood red (w/ hot orange) for accents
  • P3 greatcoat grey for weapon, VGC cold grey HL, electric blue muzzle
  • Basing: calthan brown db + cobra leather db


  • Knarloc green base
  • snot green highlight
  • orkhide shade shading/lining
  • calthan brown+devlan mud for boots,pack
  • P3 greatcoat grey weapon, cold grey HL
  • electric blue sunglasses/goggles

Planetary Guard:

  • Mordian blue
  • electric blue mixed in for highlight
  • mord blue/electric blue/white/cobra leather, cl+black for lenses

Friday, September 30, 2011

First Stab At 15mm SciFi

Does this guy scream 1980 scifi or what?
I am not displeased at how this power armored soldier turned out. He's about 14mm from feet to top of head, so I'm critiquing my performance accordingly. Of course I picked white for his scheme. I mean if you are going to try a new scale, why not pick a color you have historically struggled with, am I right?

The arms on this sculpt are mysterious. They don't seem to have hands, and all I can assume is that the length from elbow to terminus conceals a hand underneath. Some of the other sculpts for the game have exquisitely sculpted hands, so I can guess it's all by design.

So one down, thirty-nine to go! Only twelve of the forty are similar to this fellow. Of the others, twenty-two are far more human looking (militia) and another six are wearing a lighter armor (planetary guard.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tiny Dudes with Tiny Guns

I have decided that 28mm is too easy, and so I am painting some 15mm sci-fi minis. I painted some at lunch today, although I can't say I covered a lot of real estate in an hour. Giant 28mm fig included in the pic for scale. I can't even imagine what painting 54mm must be like. I'm not sure I even own brushes that big!

More to come, if I can overcome my basic lethargy. I'm still keeping the name of the game my little secret (like anybody cares) in the hopes that someone might stumble upon my pics and have an "ah ha!" moment.

Oh, and the first person to lecture me about size of mini not making painting any easier officially unlocks both the "tl;dr" and "fail sarcasm" achievements on my blog.

Weekly Hobby Group - Really Small Minis and Nearly Done Kroot-a-saurus?

Kell Bailoch towers over the tiny hordes of 1980
Seth and Jimmy were in attendance for last night's weekly hobby bonanza. Coffee was consumed.

In the true spirit of hobby ADD, I dug out a 31 year old game I have stashed in the basement and decided to base its 40 minis. Super-double-kudos if anyone can figure out from the photo what the game is. They are really nice 15mm sculpts, and I plan on channeling my inner NSA to try and paint them.
Kroot-a-saurus really needed knee pads
Jimmy put even more work in on Kroot-a-saurus. It's getting quite armored now. I seriously wonder if it's close to completion, or if Jimmy will just keep adding things until the original dinosaur toy is entirely obscured. (Kidding!)

Seth continued work on his FW Chaos Dwarfs. He's trying to get a recipe for the red armor that he likes, including how to blend to the shade colors. It's looking really good! I really should get a picture of WIP some day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gremlins Done Blowed Up Stuff

I got a game of Malifaux in at RIW last night against Jake's Ophelia list. I have Nicodem, Mortimer, 2 Belles, 2 Flesh Constructs and a convict gunslinger against .... well, a lot of gremlins but no pigs. Scenario was "Shared A Line in the Sand" and Jake took attacker. We flipped corner deployment, and he placed the dynamite counters all within one half of the board.
Nico and Mortimer hang back and let the other models
knock each other around a little.
Gremlins are hilarious to play against. Their triggers, abilities and special rules all read like a comedy routine. They appeal to me for the same reason that Skaven appeal to me in Warhammer fantasy. They can be incredibly destructive or humorously self-destructive. Jake ended up doing about as many wounds to his models through "Reckless: Fast" as I did with attacks. The dynamite counter needed only a (1) interact to arm but a (2) interact to disarm, so I was constantly trying to get into position to be able to disarm the next turn (since disarming uses an entire activation normally.) Gremlins, on the other hand, can move 10" and still arm a counter, provided they take a wound from "Reckless: Fast."  By the way, Punk Zombie + Bolster Undead is such a good combo.
The corpse counters are started to accumulate, but
the dynamite is now armed!
Even with Nicodem raising Punk Zombies and Flesh Constructs, I still couldn't keep up. We both were able to achieve our schemes (I took Army of the Dead and Bodyguard: Nico, and he took Hold Out and Bodyguard: Ophelia) so the game came down to scenario VP's. If the game had gone to turn 8 (not likely) I probably could have disarmed another counter to tie. I made a fairly egregious tactical error by summoning a flesh construct near the end of the game when I really needed something to disarm counters. The flesh construct started slow (because he was summoned) then proceeded to walk toward the nearest enemy due to "Ceaseless Advance" in the start closing phase. If I had summoned a model that had stayed put (or if I had conveniently forgotten about ceaseless advance) he could have disarmed the counter on turn 7 for the draw. I also should have summoned a model specifically for running into his deployment zone and denying him the 2vp for the Hold Out scheme.

In other news I was able to pick up Twisting Fates (Malifaux book 3) and talk to Bowen a little bit about it. Bowen brought his Nightmare Edition Lord Chompy Bits and played on a Terraclips board, which was an impressive sight. NELCB is huge, seriously 4x the mass of the standard model. Bowen has a distinctive painting style and did a great job on the model, but did I get a picture? Noooooo.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lunchtime Sorrow and Kell Bailoch

Bill worked on the smoke effect for the Sorrow today. Yes, the photo is overexposed. It looks quite nice in person, with a base color of Reaper leather white, blending into the snot green of the body with skull white highlights. He's calling this one done so he can move onto the next Sorrow (of 3.) Basing is still indeterminate.

I worked on Warmachine mercenary sniper Kell Bailoch. After all that talk about Eldar and all the work on the Belles, why Kell today? I have no idea. I honestly have no idea.

What I can't show you is the work I am doing for this year's Rotten Harvest painting competition. The entries cannot have ever been shown online or in print, so I must remain stealthy... for now.  This seems strange, since normally I am about as stealthy as a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Harlequin Departs!

I am finally sending Tristan (of GWPertinent) the Harlequin I painted for him. Here he is, photographed warts and all. The white bit on his left foot is a bit of reflection rather than missing paint, and it caused me to panic for a bit when I first saw the photo. Considering this is a piece for a Necromunda gang, I gave him a healthy coat of Minwax Polycrylic lacquer for protection, then used Testor's Dullcote to remove the shine. Along with the Harlequin I am including a Warlock Engineer for Tristan to paint for me. Some of my favorite models are the ones painted or converted for my by other people.

This was quite an enjoyable mini to paint, although I can't really say I had a complete vision in mind when I started. The paint job definitely evolved over time. Purple and yellow complement well, but doing the shirt purple seemed uninteresting. The blue seemed a good contrast to the red sash, but it was too stark, so I added the stripes. Only later did I notice that "tiny power fist" included a portion of the arm that I had painted as shirt. Changing that part of the sleeve to yellow/gold would have really changed the symmetry of the figure, so I decided to leave it as is. Why can't tiny power fist realistically be partially blue with stripes? When exactly did Space Elf Clowns start to seem unrealistic to you? Completing this fellow also has me thinking more and more about painting more than one model for my own Eldar army.  Of course I never play, but I like the idea of painting them...

So there you have it! I look forward to seeing his adventures against the rival gangs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lunchtime Painting - A Lesson In Insufficient Light

I have a few regularly scheduled painting times per week. Monday and Wednesday on my lunch hour and Wednesday night. The work lunch hour schedule is a new one set up for painting with a friend who is on-campus two days a week. He bought a Pandora "Legion of Sorrows" box (along with other Neverborn models) and plans on painting the box during his 15 week classes. I have been taking the opportunity to teach him what I can about technique. One lesson I was reminded of today is "don't skimp on lighting." Bill is actively seeking to become a better painter, and his Sorrow (middle) is coming along nicely. My Belles show the sorts of mistakes and ham-handed highlighting that is common with basic room lighting. I have a goose-neck lamp with a CF bulb in my office, which I let Bill use. I actually have a fluorescent strip light that I can use on the other part of my desk, but did not remember it until long after vandalizing the Belles as I did.

Tonight I will get the good lamp out and the magnifying headset and try to fix the highlights on the purple Belle's dress. I will also endeavor to make Blondie's eyes look less..... wrong. Sure, she's a zombie but those eyes just don't look intentional. It really is my #1 rule of painting... whatever you do must look intentional.

In other news, after the figs shown I have only 5 unpainted Malifaux models for my Rezzer army. Time to get out that credit card! I could probably use a couple more Macaw Vultures.....

Oh, and I have found that the purple background makes photography with the crappy phone camera (HTC Evo 4G) so much easier.  Here it is for your download and printing pleasure. Put the miniatures at the bottom and incline the rest no more than about 30 degrees to avoid light reflecting from overhead.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ruinous Powers Grocery?

My painstaking research is complete, and I have come to the only reasonable conclusion. My local Kroger has turned to Chaos. "Certainly not Kroger," you scoff. "Are they not a purveyor of fine foodstuffs, including affordable Kroger brands?"

Let us consider the evidence.

At first glance, this appears to your average sign announcing to the world that fine groceries, produce and sundries may be purchased within, but upon closer inspection we find...
Spiky bits! The whole sign is covered with spikes, presumably a mutation provided by the dark gods when Kroger gave their devotion, indeed their souls, to Chaos!

The far entrance, like the main sign, looks innocent enough. "Clearly if it is food you seek, here you will find satisfaction," it beckons.

But no! More spikes! The only food you will find is the taste of your tears as you fall before the unstoppable hordes of the Ruinous Powers!

A closer inspection below the "food" sign reveals the image of some dark goddess or daemon! Could this be the work of Slaanesh?! Or is the entire pantheon of Chaos in league to corrupt this establishment?

Shameless! They are even advertising that they will intentionally inject flu viruses into your very blood! There can be no mistaking the noxious touch of Nurgle upon this wretched place!

The final piece of evidence. The siren song of Chaos, set before man to appeal brazenly to his basest of instincts. "Buy one," the seductive voice croons, "and get one free." Who can resist this foul temptation?

On the down side, I will have to start looking for another grocery store at which to shop. The =I=nquisition will undoubtedly have  purged this one by the time I need groceries again. I suppose I should be happy that it's not just planet-wide Exterminatus. I must remember to look on the bright side.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Opportunity For Improvement

Steve brought in his Nikon again today. I knew the Belle needed some fixin' up, but ... wow. We created a custom backdrop, since all the cool kids on CMON are using purple in the top 10. Dramatic as it is, I don't think it would elevate the Belle's score at all.

I decided to point out the flaws, so that in future posts you can critique my improvement. They are many and varied. Well, not that varied. The base is also a custom job that was meant to resemble my resin bases from Secret Weapon. Justin is in no danger of losing business from my homemade bases, that's for sure.

For reference, here is the same model from my HTC Evo 4G phone camera.
EDIT: It's also pretty clear from looking at the model that she must be wearing some sort of corset. Two -thirds of the breast volume is above the material, so my choosing to paint the material sheer was ill considered.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Need: Miniature Bat Wings

Does anyone know how I can get miniature bat wings.  Something 1/4" to 1/2" long (.6cm-1.3cm) per wing would do the trick.  Thanks!

The Eerie Silence After 9/11

This picture does not convey the sober
tone of the post, but I loved the image
as a child.
Ten years ago I heard an NPR news report on my morning commute that some sort of aircraft had hit the World Trade Center. I was not immediately alarmed by this, since I had very recently read of another aircraft striking a New York building. When I arrived at work, a coworker asked me if I was aware of what was happening and informed me that a second place had hit. We decided to walk to the McKenny Union (the nearest place on campus we knew of that had decent TV reception) to watch the news. A crowd had gathered around the TV's, which were high enough that everyone could see, and we watched almost silently until the collective gasp when people realized the the South Tower was collapsing (it wasn't immediately clear what was going on when it started to collapse.)

I want to convey the confusion of that day to those of you who were too young to really grasp it at the time. We had absolutely no idea what was going on, or what the scope of it was. I heard a remembrance over the weekend of a man who was in Ukraine at the time, and all he saw were videos and images of buildings and explosions and fires. To him and his travelling companions, unable to understand the audio of the news stories, it looked like every city in the U.S. had been attacked. To those of us huddled before TV's on that day, we wondered if that was going to happen. Tension and uncertainty remained even after it was clear that the attacks were complete. I remember one of my coworkers saying, "The first person who makes a joke about this gets punched in the stomach."

In the days following the attacks, all U.S. commercial aircraft were grounded. My workplace and home are in the flight path of passenger and commercial airports. Seeing and hearing planes, and a sky filled with contrails, are commonplace here. The complete lack of all civilian aircraft during those days was eerie, evocative of a time at night when all the crickets and frogs suddenly go silent. The sky was clear and free of the normal vapor evidence of air traffic. It looked like air technology had been set back 100 years.

Even after the air traffic started again, we found ourselves pausing when an aircraft passed over. Conversation would stop until it had passed. It was months before we stopped reacting to anything passing overhead.

Oh, and it only took until Wednesday for someone to make a joke about it. We were sitting in the break room flipping through channels on the crappy TV there to watch any news, but stopped trying and left the TV on "J.J. the Jet Plane" on the local PBS affiliate. A coworker (Sheila) asked, "They aren't going to crash into any buildings are they?" We all just stared at her. Sure, some people react to stress differently than others. Other people are just idiots. Nobody got punched.

Friday, September 09, 2011

...And Rankin/Bass Begat GW Orcs?

John@Plastic Legions mentioned the 1977 Hobbit cartoon created by Rankin/Bass in a recent post, and it inspired me to post something I've been thinking for a while.

What was the artistic interpretation of Orcs prior to Warhammer? I know Warhammer Orcs aren't Middle Earth Orcs, but we can agree that there is definite artistic lineage between the two. So let's take a look at a few pieces of art separate from the GW interpretation.

Captured by Orcs
The Hildebrandt brothers had an animal-snouted impression of Orcs. This reminds me a lot of the artwork for Orcs in the Dungeons and Dragons books I had in the early 80's.
The Great Goblin
John Howe's Goblin King interpretation is more human looking, and is closer in line with the artwork for Grom the Paunch than anything else I've seen in GW terms. The goblins to the lower right look somewhat in line with earlier edition GW goblin artwork I've seen.

Rankin/Bass Goblin

Rankin/Bass Goblin King
Rankin/Bass took a very different approach that suited their animation style better. The design of these creatures fascinated me as a child, especially since I hadn't read Tolkien but loved fantasy. That said, what they did with Gollum's design was.... regrettable. (But, oh my, Brother Theodore's voice acting of Gollum is a thing of pure beauty.)

And now we come to the current look of GW Orcs, represented by the artwork from the last army book, the image on the Warboss box and an Orc Shaman mini.
7th ed. GW Orcs & Goblins book cover

GW Orc Warboss box

GW Orc Shaman

They certainly seem much more in line with the Rankin/Bass imagery than any of the others I found. What artwork depicting Tolkien Orcs have you run across, and how similar to GW Orcs is it?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Weekly Poor Photography Update - Nurgle!

If you don't like the blurry photo, just pretend
Papa Nurgle gave you some seeping eye disease.
Jimmy stopped by tonight to work on Kroot-a-saurus, which got some armor updates.

I worked on Angelos's Forge World Nurgle Chaos Sorcerer. I've been working on this guy on and off since Sunday, and I'm very fond of how he's coming along. I need to paint all the bony spikes coming out of him, and give some love to the Nurglings on the model. I wanted some positive texture on the spearhead, so I applied some watered down Vallejo Black Lava selectively. I really liked the result.

An observation about FW resin... dip a bent spearhead into some heated water and it will immediately straighten from just gravity. Seriously, this stuff gets soft with heat.

Oh, I was supposed to ship Tristan's Harlequin tomorrow, but he's not packed to go. Curse my meandering thought process!