Monday, July 22, 2013

Fun with Bones: Ellen Stone

The saga of the Bones goes on, as more and more people try to straighten weapons and identify missing body features. I can't say I'm disappointed with the group overall. This was, after all, a kickstart. There were inherent risks with producing that many minis that quickly, but given Reaper's track record these sorts of failings didn't even occur to me. Nevertheless, I'll take the opportunity to dredge out an extremely old joke, just for the occasion.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bones Case Study: Aviriel Tellerion

The last mini in my metals collection to get the Bones comparison is Elf Paladin Aviriel Tellerion. The Bones version is roughly the same quality as Lysette, in that there are no obvious places where the model appears to have been smashed with a 2x4. Like Lysette, some of the hard angles suffer from a little over-radius-ing. (Is that a word? It is now!) The shield corners are nice points in metal and a little rounded in Bones. The hair has a typical Bones issue... very fine locks in metal turn into dreadlocks in Bones. Not really thick dreadlocks, but dreadlocks nonetheless.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bones Case Studies: Lysette and Autumn Bronzeleaf

Now that I have my Reaper Bones kickstart minis, I realize that I already had a few of the included models in metal from ages past. Last night I popped the blisters open, gave each a wash of Agrax Earthshade(tm) and photographed for comparison.

First up, perennial favorite Elven Mage Lysette, sculpted by Werner Klocke. 
 The face and hair details are reasonably intact but the cheeks are more cut on the metal version. The ears also protrude more in metal. The crystal on the staff also appears to suffer from the lack of hard transitions. The clothing detail however translated quite well. The buckles and lattice all seem to have translated well to the newer medium, as did the runes on the sword. I think she could be painted in such a way that it would be difficult to discern which version of the model was used.

Next, Autumn Bronzeleaf, sculpted by Jeff Grace.
Poor Autumn didn't make the transition as gracefully as Lysette, I'm afraid. While the clothing details are again quite accurate, the face and hair have lost a great deal of their fine cut. The nose especially took a beating in the transition. The locks of hair falling over the forehead are decidedly thicker than the metal version. Oddly, I didn't notice before that my metal Autumn has a malformed left hand, so I am unable to compare it to the Bones hand (which looks fine to me.) I can understand how potentially the sharper cuts like Lysette's crystal might be a problem for Bones, but if the clothing details can be reproduced so well it is counter-intuitive to me that the nose or hair would be so different on Autumn. That lock of hair in the front is certainly no thinner than some of the other details reproduced more faithfully.

So all in all, not terrible. Mostly. I will probably approach any detail I am not happy with on a Bones model asking "was this as bad on the metal model?" I assume that sculpting for the Bones medium will take a certain style and that sculptors will get better at it over time. Like injection molded plastic, it has its strengths and weaknesses, and we're only at the very beginning of learning how to tease out those strengths. I have one or two more of these to compare at some point, so maybe I'll do another post like this later.


Checking in on the Cloud Giants and my attempts to straighten out their weapons, things were mostly back to bent last night. I can't tell if they are starting to slightly straighten with multiple iterations or it's just wishful thinking.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Country Review: Canada

I rake up too many of these
things to find it inspiring.
Having spent Tuesday night through Friday evening in Canada a couple weeks ago, I feel knowledgeable enough to give a review of the nation in general.

The Arrival: I hadn't received my "enhanced drivers license" (sort of a local passport thing that Michiganders can get for entering Canada) in the mail yet, but the Office of Homeland Security assured my wife that a birth certificate and official photo id would be sufficient. The Canadian border agent was nice enough about it, and encouraged me to get a passport so I could take my wife somewhere nice.

The Driving: This was just off enough to be disconcerting. No, not the transition from good ol' 'merican miles to sinister kilometers but the fact that all the signage was just a little different than I was used to. Word and arrow placement was just varied enough to make me have to think about what each meant. Does this sign mean that if I stay to the left I will be going toward the stated road, or does it mean I should be following those arrows off to the right? Hmmm. I obeyed the 100 kph speed limit on most Canadian highways rather rigorously, and that meant feeling like I was going slooowwwwww. I was fun to pop my instrument panel back and forth from English to metric units and watch my speedometer go back and forth from 100 to 63.

The People: From what I can tell, nearly all the people who work service jobs in Canada are non-Canadians. From the hotel desk staff to any number of people in town, a dizzying variety of accents made understanding what people were saying challenging. I can do okay with accents, but having to adjust to such a rich tapestry of unfamiliar pronunciation made my brain a little dizzy. Everyone was super-nice though. Seriously. Not just regular nice.

The Hotel: The training and amenities were at the Hilton Garden Inn, and it was certainly passable. I understand that $40/day for parking is not unreasonable right downtown, but I still grumbled about funding Paris Hilton's lifestyle. The room was nice. The restaurant was crazy overpriced ($10 for continental breakfast? Really? Oh, and I can upgrade to some eggs for only $8 more? Wow.) At least breakfast was provided in the training (the same fare as the hotel continental.)

The Money: The bills are weird. Some have transparent sections. I think one of them sings when you spend it or something. The coins are weirder. Canadians seem to hate coins, yet have coins for their smaller denominations of dollars. If you purchase something they will routinely round the purchase price to minimize the number of small value coins involved, then give you your change in all coins. One of their coins even looks like a coin stuffed in a donut coin. Your money frightens and confuses me, Canada.

Work In Progress: As best as I can tell, Canada is a fairly new country because they still seem to be building it. Everywhere I looked there was construction. The only thing that could have used some serious work were the sidewalks in Toronto. It was like the third world from the ankles down.

Tell me again why Canadians
aren't all morbidly obese?
The Food: this was pretty close to what I was used to... a hamburger (presumably) made by Wayne Gretzky, some chicken fajitas, Thai combo platter.... the only decidedly unique experience was poutine.

If you've never had poutine, it's an interesting mix of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. At the franchise poutinerie (yes, that's what they called it) there were many varieties to be had, and two sizes: more than you can eat, and more than your family can eat. I got the bacon and chili poutine, which was tasty. Stef got the steak fajita poutine which she reported as being tasty but which looked revolting. Luke got bacon cheeseburger poutine, which looked as good as my bacon chili version. None of us could finish the whole serving. I will refrain from mentioning Tim Horton's in terms of the food. It is well known that any Tim Horton's establishment in any country is considered Canadian soil for diplomatic purposes, so you can probably experience that for yourself.

The Return: The U.S. Homeland Security agent was somewhat less nice than the Canadian border agent had been. He informed us that all the paperwork we presented him, the same paperwork that we have used to sign up for our enhanced licenses, was all easily forged by illegal aliens. Hmm. It made me wonder why it was good enough to get an enhanced license but not good enough to get me across the border. Eventually he poked at his computer screen and looked irritated enough to make us feel like we had made his day difficult and let us through without detaining us Checkpoint Charlie style.

The Verdict: it was pretty nice. I'd go back.

State of the Bones

A 10.8 lbs box of Reaper goodies arrived at my house last week. I am now 268 miniatures further in the painting hole than I was previously. My wife has already claimed about 20 of them, but considering she has painted about 1/2 a mini in the past 10 years I expect they'll stay white for a while.

Okay, so what do I think of them, you ask? I have decidedly mixed feelings. First off, I am glad I didn't "double Vampire" like I heard some did. There are plenty of figures here for a while, and if I ever want more they aren't that expensive.

Casting quality: I have not seen more than one or two issues with the casting, and even those were fairly minor. The flash and mold lines aren't terrible, but removing them is a pain. I haven't done a side by side comparison to their metal counterparts, but after priming the Tre Manor Ettin he looks very nice. I'll look through my collection of unpainted Reaper metal and see what I have duplicated in Bones.

The bending: This one is daunting to me. I have been told that boiling water/cold water will allow these to bend/harden so that warped elements of the figures can be corrected. While that appears to be true to start, the pieces seem to slowly warp again over the next couple days. The Cloud Giant woman in the photo is a good example of this. I have tried multiple times to straighten her club but when I come back to it it always looks like it does here. Thinner things like axe handles seem to have stayed in position after heat/cold alteration.

Taking paint: I painted a Bones Minotaur a while ago, and one of the things I loved about it was how well the model took and kept paint, without any sort of prep on the mini. Compared to my normal models, where paint sloughs off if I look at it harshly, this is a very welcome change. The Bones I have tried from my Vampire box have been very hydrophobic, so either the mold release was different or was washed off for the retail package and not the kickstart packaging. I hope their domestically manufactured minis are more like the Minotaur in that regard.

Gluing: Some pieces require assembly and some come pre-assembled. I have no idea why. In my experience a very thin cyanoacrylate (superglue) gives the best results. Maybe because the material is a little porous... I dunno.

The figure case: So some of the 10.8 lbs was the figure case, which is good not great. I was hoping for that big Reaper logo on one side, but the case is blank. As such, there is no obvious front/back, so opening the case is a crap shoot if you haven't marked which way is up. The first time I opening it after filling it with minis I dumped half of them on the table. Whoops. The cells on the foam trays are quite small, so I ended up cutting the walls on many of them to accommodate larger figures. Even so, I have all the infantry for my 2k+ Eldar army stored in there, minus anything on a 40mm base. It absolutely will not do 40mm based minis on their sides (unless you put two trays so their cavities face each other, which I was not willing to do.