Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Hobby Group Update: Servo Arms, Armor and Nid Wins

Seth, Jimmy, and Mike came over to hobby last night.  Seth wasn't in the painting mood so I got out Space Hulk and we played mission one a couple times.  Nids always won.
Jimmy, crushed by the "scrot-a-saurus" comment from last week's blog, finally took all of our advice and added armor plating.  It helped that I gave him a sheet of plasticard and a paper cutter to use.
Mike wanted to show off his Iron Warriors models, complete with servo arms.  The one on the left is converted with a nifty shield, but the black priming sucks all the light out of the photo.
Meanwhile, Stef and Mimi watched "Wire in the Blood" and discussed the portrayal of various religions in film/TV.  Mimi doesn't think witches are getting a fair shake.

And me?  I haven't done anything of note lately.  I've been working on a coding project, but it makes for boring blog posting.  (What?  You want to talk about SQL queries?  You are a sicko.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Ominous "S"

I returned from fetching lunch to find this at my desk.
A tiny square of paper with a bold capital "S" on it.  Who could have left it?!  What does it mean?!!?!?

Superb 40k FanFic "Radical"

I do not normally read a great deal of fanfic, but Commissar Carrie got me hooked on her amazing narrative battle reports and that just flowed naturally into her superb 40k fanfic entitled "Radical."

Go check it out.

Chapters: HellHealingHeretics, Hymn, and Hero
She's got kind of an "H" thing going on you see...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Playstation Network Update

2011.04.21: Network halted for upload preparation
2011.04.22: Wetware sychronization initiated
2011.04.23: Wetware disconnect complete
2011.04.25: Cell network reprocessing initiated

PENDING: Cell process neural network distribution completion
PENDING: Network restart
PENDING: Ringing phones in sequence down a hallway to indicate success to nemesis
PENDING: begin global nuclear bombardment

Weekly Hobby Group: Kroot-a-saurus, Zombie Fish and Bad Pants

Who can resist a title like that?

Jimmy and I hobbied it up on Thursday.  Chips flew.  Glue dripped.  Paint was applied.

First up, Kroot-a-saurus got some work.  Jimmy (aka "King Kitbash") started with some head enhancements and went on to trying to make some armor.  It was supposed to look like giant turtle shell pieces bolted to the side, but it never quite got there.

Next up, Jimmy brought the zombie fish bowl he's been working on for his roommate's belated Christmas present.  I helped him by painting the tombstone last week, and he brought it over to show me the finished product.

Hive Fleet Emervac's hormagaunts got some more attention.  I'm probably one serious night away from finishing this unit.

And lastly, Tristan's Harlequin got some pants.  I am decidedly unhappy with the consistency of the yellow.... so chalky.  The plan is to go over it a few more times to try and smooth the color, then shore up the borders with more purple so that the lines are sharp.  Maybe I'll blackline around them...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Egg Drop Soup (with Helicopters)

Today, for reasons I cannot now fathom, we took the kids to a 30,000 Easter egg "hunt" where some of the eggs were dropped by helicopter. Sounds.... crazy, right?  It was.

After two days of rain, it did not occur to us that the whole thing would be a horrific quagmire. It was.

By the time we were actually in position for the drop 2 of my 3 kids had fallen and were covered in mud.

People came from miles to partake in the spectacle. It was packed. Once the call was given to go, the mad scramble left some children with huge bags of eggs, and some children left crying, empty handed.  My 6 year old got 5 eggs (and was not happy) and my girls got 5 eggs between them. This is definitely one time where the meek are not blessed.  Aggression and assertiveness win the day at an egg drop.  At least the organizers had the forethought to leave a few eggs in reserve for the poor kids who got none.

Once the eggs had all been collected, the search began for each child.  Parents were everywhere hollering names in every which direction.

We had planned on heading to my parents' house after the event, but with everyone covered in mud and our house almost an hour in entirely the wrong direction we decided to stop off and buy some clothes for them on the way.  $135 later, we were on the road again.  Admittedly, $20 of that was me impulse buying "Tales from Earthsea."  I didn't realize Miyazaki had adapted Ursula LeGuinn's stories (which I read as a teen) and I loves me some Miyazaki.

Egg dropping and a very curvy rotor.
Seeing the helicopter was fun, and if someone can explain to me why the rotors appear so curved in the photos?  I just can't figure why they would be in focus let look so curved, or why one side would look curved and not the other.  If it was from the motion of the rotors you would think both would be equally affected.

Rotors curving upward oddly.  Feel free to hum "Ride of the Valkyries" here.  I did.
Rotors curving downward...oddly.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Legion 1/0 ... Protectorate Still 0/9

We haven't played any Thursday lunchtime battles at work in a few weeks, so it took me unawares when our local Khador player (aka "wins all games") IM'd me that he was up for a game.  I could have played the house Skorne army, but decided to test drive Matt's Legion.

My Legion:
  • Lylyth
  • Carnivean
  • 5 Shredders
  • Strakhov
  • Marauder
  • Juggernaut
  • The Three Bears
  • Gorman DiWulfe
So what happened, you might ask?  Did you not read the title?  I won!  It turns out Lylyth is deadly with that bow.  POW 12, 12" range and ROF 2.  Anybody with less armor than Karchev is going to feel that one.  I pretty much raced off to one side (leaving the Three Bears alone on a flank) and tried to swarm him with Shredders, which put a little pressure on.  On Lylyth's feat turn, those little rabid jerks will get 4 dice to hit and boosted damage.  They aren't going to miss.

One note about running a slew of Shredders... you need to have some way to identify them!  I could have written on the base or something, but I decided to give them nicknames based on their poses.  Lefty and Lefty Jr. had an extended left foot (Lefty far more than his namesake) while Up and Down seemed to be looking in the direction of their name.  The Agonizer was, no surprise, an Agonizer that I was proxying as a shredder.  

So how did it end?  He ended up focusing on the swarm of shredders (out of necessity mostly) and moving the Marauder back to screen Strakhov from Lylyth's killer bow.  Strak is immune to fire or I would have dragon breath'd him with the Carnivean.  Instead, I slammed the Marauder (a taste of its own bitter medicine!) into Strakhov and the knocked down models opened the door for Lylyth to step to one side, pop her feat, roll 4 dice to hit against a model with DEF 5, and do the remaining 5 or so damage to win the game.

I like typing that part.  I'm going to do it again. win the game.

Earth Will Be Victorious!!

I just received an email from "Environment Michigan" detailing our plans to defeat Mercury on Earth Day. While I understand the symbolic significance of an Earth Day victory, I am very disappointed in how visible the campaign's timeline is.  The element of surprise is vital to a decisive victory, and by advertising that we will be attacking Mercury on Earth Day we are giving them ample time to shore up their defenses in preparation for the invasion.  I assume our vast fleets are en route as we speak, assuming Venus gave us permission to cross their orbit.

Plastic Vanguard Vet w/ Relic Blade

Ron Saikowski's Astorath conversion writeup made me think a bit about how to model minis (marines specifically) holding weapons two handed.  How would I do that?  Then I remembered... I already did!
(Yes, sounds like Professor Fansworth's Smelloscope.... sadly.)

This guy is one of a few conversions I did a while ago that never got posted here.  Each got to about 80% completion before I ADD'd off to the next idea.  The arms are the gunner arms from the Adeptus Mechanicus tank crew member found on every Space Marine vehicle sprue... you know, the guy nobody seems to use?  Yeah, that one.  His hands are flat enough on top to press them together in a reasonable facsimile of a two handed grip.  I drilled through them and placed a thin rod so that they would keep their orientation, then pinned the blade and the pommel (?) to the extending ends of the rod.  The arms will not fit completely flush at the shoulder when the hands are together, but a little putty and the comically huge shoulder pads will completely obscure that.  The blade is the Black Reach captain's blade.  

At roughly the same time frame I did this fellow, meant to be a Chapter Master.
I was getting all fancy with the magnets, so I gave him a bolter, bolt pistol or plasma pistol.  He's a converted Black Reach captain with a regular marine chest plate in place of the rather unique one that the model normally uses.  The cloth covering his bits there hides the fact that his legs just sort of terminate into nothingness.  There are no bits to cover.  It's not really visible unless you turn the model completely upside down.  The little crest on the helmet is green stuff.

Everybody has their little rock to stand on too.  It's standard issue once you reach a certain rank.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Third Time's A Charm?

Well, two winners have been chosen in my oh-so-closely-watched 100 (or so) followers celebratory giveaway, and neither winner responded.  You'd think it would be easier to give stuff away.

So now a third winner has been chosen.  I'm hoping the fact that this user actually has a profile pic in Blogger means that he will respond.  Email has been sent!  You have a week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Growth Over Time

It is an interesting phenomenon that when a certain character is illustrated over a long period of time, certain aspects of illustration will get enlarged.

Take, for instance, Bloom County's Opus the Penguin.
I won't begin to speculate why the nose gets bigger over time.  Smarter people than me have probably done all the analysis ever needed on that subject.

After seeing the post on MWC with associated artwork, it occurs to me that Marneus Calgar's armor has gone through much the same tranformation.
Okay, so maybe the later version is supposed to be him in his special terminator armor... I dunno.  The one on the left looks merely anatomically impossible.  The one on the right looks like Dreadknight Jr., and has notably fewer dinosaurs.  Would you turn in your leopard skin cloak and dinosaur attendants in exchange for very cold lighting and giant armor?  Well, would you?  I didn't think so.

Monday, April 18, 2011

<3 Michigan

This state is crazy.  A couple years ago we had a white Easter and a green Christmas.  Today, it's snowing like crazy.  My grandfather told tale of his birth in June being the day of a snowstorm.

Ah, who am I kidding.  I love it.  Crazy, wonderful, unpredictable, Michigan weather.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Games Day 2011 Chicago... NOT sold out

NOTICE: I just got a nice email from Megan at GW saying there was a web site problem. Tickets are still available.  Thanks for the quick response, Megan!

I just went to buy Games Day tickets (here) and .... no longer available?  Did I miss something?  Did Games Day tickets sell out?

I haven't been to a Games Day since they went to the format of having only one in the US.  It never occurred to me that demand might be high enough to sell out before May.  I have emailed GW to ask.

Anyone actually know for sure?

This could seriously hamper my Golden Demon plans...

This is What a $10,000 Mini Really Looks Like

...and one of the reasons Marike Reimer is one of my favorite painters.  I'm glad she posted pics because the Crystal Brush photos just didn't capture how amazing this piece really is.
This is a closeup (lifted unapologetically from her website.)  She has also posted it on CMON.  Painting last night trying to achieve this level of precision was... frustrating.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surprisingly Offensive

I just got called a name that offended me.  I am not easily offended.

The name was "boss."

Am I being too sensitive?  I'm a middle aged white man.  To have a young (20-30 year old) black man call be "boss" made me feel like I had just called him "boy."  I don't think I did anything to deserve that.  I was stopping by my favorite pizza place to pick up an order for my family's dinner, and I had to ask him to repeat what he yelled to me when I first walked in the door.  "HAVE... YOU... ALREADY... ORDERED?" he repeated in comically exaggerated enunciation.  Whether or not that was the precipitating event, I was "boss" from that moment on.  It wasn't a single time either.  Each of the three or four times he addressed me he called me boss.

I said nothing.  I'm not a terribly confrontational person.  Maybe this was a glimpse into what it's like to experience subtle racism on a regular basis.  Maybe he thought I wouldn't notice his subtle slight.  Maybe he didn't even realize the implication his words had.  Whatever his intent, I felt accused.

Post script:  A few weeks later I went back to that same place and observed a white employee calling a black patron "boss."

Language is a funny thing.  It has been pointed out to me for years that seemingly meaningless phrases actually have a lot of built-in baggage.  When I was a kid it was commonplace to tell others to "get your cotton-picking hands off of me" or something similar.  Describing something as "cotton picking" did not have any other purpose than emphasis for us as children, but it has distinctly racial overtones.  As an adult I have endeavored to eliminate phrases like that from my speech.  I forget that some things just lose their meaning as they are diluted in the culture.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Stef! (And a Nice Word About Ubid)

Today is my lovely wife's birthday.  (Perhaps I'm biased, but she does not look a day older than when we met, some 19 years ago.)  She loves electronic gadgets, so this year I bought her a 2go PC SL10 for what amounts to a huge discount from   We haven't gotten it yet, but it has shipped.

For a brief time, I wondered if we would get it at all.  

Ubid suffered a denial of service attack on the day that particular auction was scheduled to end.  As a result I was unable to access the site to check the auction or up my bid if needed.  The end time came and went, and I was left to wonder if I had won or not.  About 2 AM an email came to me saying I had won for a ridiculous 50% of retail price.  Considering the DOS attack, and the fact that another email from ubid said that auctions running during the DOS would be extended by 24 hours, I wondered if they would honor the price.  It could certainly be argued that the auction was invalidated by the DOS, and that the prices were artificially low.  These items were actually being shipped from ubid itself, so they certainly had the leeway to do what they wanted.  Today, I got notification that the item had shipped at the auction price.  Hats off to ubid for going the "happy customer" route in this case.  Perhaps I'm biased because I got a good deal.  Perhaps I'm biased because my wife will be happy.  Probably a little of both.

Friday, April 08, 2011

My Busy Hobby Shelf

I should either finish some of these or move them to a safer locale.  This is the shelf from which the Wraithlord and Treewoman made their various drops.

So what's up there....

  • the Avatar of Menoth with his stained glass goodness
  • an Ultraforge Treewoman in progress
  • a couple Warmachine mercenaries (Anastasia DiBray and Madelyn Corbeau) unpainted
  • a Reaper Elf Mage that I was painting as part of a challenge vs. Auberoun at Digital Waaagh.  
  • High Exemplar Kreoss poking in from the side
  • the Ral Partha Elf Blademistress I've been trying to paint lately
  • Skaven Lord Skrolk, who may end up a Golden Demon entry if I can improve him dramatically
  • a Wraithguard in a sad state of WIP
  • a panda made from polymer clay by one of my kids
  • Reaper Jolie, also painted by one of my kids
  • a Razorback turret with heavy bolters
So what does this demonstrate?  That I am incapable of finishing a project?  Maybe....

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Hello? The Winner?

So the winner of the random-painted-mini-follower-contest type thing hasn't responded, and it's been more than a week.  It isn't anyone whose name I recognize, so I don't even know if that person is real or a puppet account.

Anyway, if I don't get a response on or before this coming Tuesday (4/12) I will  pick another winner randomly.  If you are a regular follower but not a "google-friend-connect magical space robot follower" then let me know and I will add you to the choose-o-matic list.  I will also re-generate the list from google friend connect as well, so if you became a follower between the last drawing and now you will have a shot at winning.

While you're here, take a look at that phone.  Remember the sound dialing used to make, or the satisfying impact of your finger on that metal stopper?  And the phone company charged extra for touch tone?  Yeah, now I dial by touch screen or just think the name of the person really loud.  Progress.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Crytsal Brush: Wish List for Next Year

Crystal Brush is over, and umpteen thousands have been awarded to some of my favorite painters.  Sure it had its hitches, but I suppose it went pretty well for the first year.  I loved the idea of taking part in the online voting, which ties in well with CMON's whole "thing."  After participating, I thought I'd mention a couple things that might improve the experience for next year.
1. Add the ability to change my vote. I had at least one experience where I realized after looking at the mini later that I really low-balled the score. The ability to fix that would be great, and shouldn't be infeasible since we're already logged in.
2. Display entry counts. Just some idea of how many entries we've voted on out of a total count would give a sense of scale, since we're not there to look at all the models physically. "You have voted on 11/23 in this category; 34 of 91 overall" or similar.
3. Display my vote in gallery view. Goes back to #1.  The only place I could see what I voted on something was each time I case a vote and a new entry was displayed (my prior vote was displayed on the left with score.)
4. Inclusion in CMON annual. This may be a no-brainer, but I thought I'd mention it. A nice spread of the winners each year in the annual would be nice.
5. Improve the photography.  This is definitely a case of "testing would have helped."  The reflective black backdrop was distracting and many of the pics were slightly off focus and over-saturated.  They seemed to get it right for pics of the final winners, so hopefully next year's competition will all have that quality.
So thanks to CMON for giving me some enjoyable painting competition participation, even if only vicariously.  I really hope to compete next year!
(Also, Steve Buddle has some excellent points on the subject.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Crystal Brush: Photography Is Difficult

If you have ever participated at CMON, you know that two hobbies are on display there, mini painting and photography.  A bad picture of a great mini will get a mediocre score.  Whoever is doing the photography for the first Crystal Brush painting competition is having a very frustrating day, I'm sure.

When voting came online, about 11:30 PM Eastern time, it became very clear that photography was not going to tell the story of many of these pieces.  Some were clearly amazing.  Others... less so.  Some it is impossible to tell.  I was going to include some images of the minis that I really liked and some that I just couldn't discern the quality level from the Crystal Brush photo, but in the spirit of not commenting on an ongoing competition I will save those for after voting has closed.

After voting on a hundred or so minis, I have to wonder if a purely judge-based system isn't the best way to go.  I'm giving it my best to score these, but I just don't feel like I'm in possession of all the data.