Saturday, November 18, 2017

Human Sci-Fi Marines & a Skinny!

It's been a while.  I've been distracted by work and 100 other gaming projects, primarily rules development.  However, I think I never posted anything about the sci-fi guys I've been working on and off on for a while now. Perhaps this is a redundant post, I apologize in advance if it is.

For almost two years I've been wanting to create a 28/32mm version of the old Ral Partha Final Frontier game.  I found a reasonably priced copy on ebay, purchased it, opened it up and had a touch of nostalgia as I rifled through the contents.  Years ago, when I was I think 14 years old, this game came out and I purchased it.  I had never seen a 15mm figure before, nor had I ever played what could loosely be considered a "wargame" before.  I was an old pro at D&D by this point, but Final Frontier was my first exposure to a wargame, albeit a skirmish wargame at best.  I also had the wonderful experience with this game of sending a rules question to the authors through snail mail.  It took about 2 months to get a reply, but they really did write me back and answered my question!

If you are not familiar with the game, the premise is very simple.  The humans of earth have developed space travel and are colonizing the rest of the galaxy.  They come across an intelligent race of aliens who oppose them.  There are three scenarios in the rulebook that add complexity and types of troops to the game as you play through them, sort of like a much simpler version of Squad Leader if you have ever played that classic game.  The point is, though, that you play the game with 15mm miniatures and cardboard counters to represent terrain, cities, stun and wound condition markers, missiles, etc.  What I wanted to do was make a homemade Craftee version of the game.  Progress has been slow, and I got distracted (more on that later), but I am pretty pleased with the core "human space marine" figure construction.  But you be the judge.

In the center is the standard "private" or trooper armed with a hand weapon.  On the left is a missile launching infantryman, and on the right is a heavy blaster infantryman.
Even though it is not necessary, to break up the smooth, uninteresting part of the back of the figure (the larger spool in other words) I put a tile spacer "jump" or "flight" piece of hardware.  In the actual Final Frontier game, it would have no effect on play at all.  If you were using these figures for some other game, well ... that's up to you.
I made the heavy weapons guys higher in rank (hence their different insignia on their shoulder armor).  All of them are constructed the same way.  I believe it is a 1.5" spool for the main body, small tapered plug for the legs (actually one size larger for the heavy weapons guys, I felt like they would need more leg support/strength so that they didn't get moved around when firing their heavier weapons), tile spacer feet just like my fantasy figures.  The arms are a combination of a axle cap for the shoulder and a split 1/2" spool for the forearms  On top of the spool I also put a axle cap and an axle cap serves as the helmet as well.  The face plate of the helmet is just a thin precut plywood circle.  In addition to the back "jump" piece, the weapons are just tile spacers cut into a shape I liked.  The end of the missile launcher is obviously a 1/2" spool as well.  Painting was very simple as you can see.  I used bright paint for the buttons and lights on the equipment as well as the face plate.  Then I took a gloss clear paint and painted the face plates again to give them a shine.

As is usual, I got a little distracted midway through and decided to make a Skinny from the world of Starship Troopers (who I think these humans would be fine for as well!).  I always liked the Skinnies in the book more than the bugs, and I decided to go to the Star Frontiers miniatures game for inspiration.  I used the sketches in those rule books to make my own version.

He is pretty much the same, I just used a 1 1/8" shaker peg for his body and a split egg for his head.  His arms are also all tile spacer, except for the should pads which are axle caps.
I think he turned out pretty good too!  The toughest part of these figures without question is making the guns.  But it was really fun to just let myself go and create whatever crazy looking firearm I wanted to.

Hope you like them!





Friday, September 22, 2017

Female Magic-user and yet another Goblin

Got the female magic-user I was talking about in the last post finished this week along with a test goblin.  I wanted to see if I could make a less "stocky" looking goblin out of the long beads, and a split long bead as it's body armor instead of the plug and split spool construction I used for my Moria goblins for my LotR miniatures game I put on at my gaming club a couple months ago.

I am pretty happy with both of them.  I think she looks great, and I wanted to paint her to be a more "seasoned" magic-user.  It seems like in miniatures we have young and old male magic-users, but only young female magic users.  So I decided to make her a more senior magic-user with her gray locks blowing back from the magical energy she is giving off.

Nothing new construction wise with her.  Tile spacer feet and arms.  Shaker peg body with the "nub" cut off the bottom of the peg.  Head is a long tapered bead that I painted to look like she is wearing a large rigid head covering of some type (a la Erol Otus).  I gave her a cloak with a big cowl, both made of paper, as is her hair.  The hole at the end of the bead made it easy to attach her hair.  Her wand is a toothpick cut to size, and she has a tile spacer piece on her chest as a large metal pin holding her cloak closed.  I actually even gave her a paper belt, so that is more than just paint, there is a bit of texture there with the belt even though you can't really tell that in the picture.

The goblin is a long tapered bead for a body, a split tapered bead for shoulders and chest, tile spacer cut to be shoulder armor pieces, tile spacer sword, arms, and feet, and a small round precut wooden craft piece for a shield.  His ears are also tile spacers and his head is a split bead.  I didn't do anything different on him as far as his head and ears go compared to the Moria goblins I did before, it's just that his body and shoulder pieces are different.  He isn't quite as "blocky" looking in person than the Moria goblins.  I decided to paint him in a scheme that would be familiar to current D&D players since of late they have been making the goblins have yellowish skin.

Here are some more pics, from the rear:

And from the side:

I've got a pretty good collection of female adventurers now.  Two magic-users, two fighter types, a cleric, a thief, a dwarf, an elf, and a halfling.  Here they are in a row.
Here are the magic-users and fighter types up close.
And here are the cleric, thief, and demi-humans up close.
I obviously fell in love with creating hair for them out of paper because only two of them are wearing anything close to a helmet. 

Now, onto their male counterparts!  I've already got a good head start, really I just need to do a second male wizard and the demi-humans.






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Female Fighter/Paladin

Sorry, it's been a while since I've added anything to the blog.  I've been working on painting some of the miniatures from the Conan board game.

I did, however, finally finish this female fighter/paladin this morning before my work out.  She, and also a female wizard that hopefully will be finished in a week, have been on my painting table for a while.  Here are some pics of her.

I wanted to make her "two-fisted" instead of having a shield, so I gave her a sword and a mace.  I also was more detailed than normal with the armor.  Not just tile spacer shoulder pieces, but also tile spacer thigh guards.  The only paper on this miniature is the surcoat (yellow) and her cloak (light brown, visible in the next pictures).  The mace in her left hand is just a toothpick handle with a small round bead glued on top.  Everything else is done with paint.

Rear shot, nothing new with the cloak, I wanted to keep it simple though so that a person's eyes would be drawn to her armor, the coolest part of the miniature.

I like how she turned out and she adds a lot to the other female figures I've done as I don't really have a heavily armored female character yet.  She could certainly serve as a fighter in her plate mail, but could equally stand in as a paladin.

I hope to post the pic of the female magic-user within the next week.



Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rounding out the Female Adventurers

I have been wanting to put together groupings of figures to fit a B/X or other old-school D&D game for a while now, sort of like the old Grenadier figure boxes you could buy in the early 80's.  One of their boxes was "Female Adventurers" so I decided to round out my collection of female adventures that I have done so far with a female dwarf and female halfling, giving me one each of all the possible B/X classes.  Unlike more modern games, where the halfling is almost always an achetypal thief, in B/X D&D the halfling wears the same heavy armor (or could wear) as a fighter or cleric.  I put mine in chainmail with leather shoulder pieces just for fun, and decided to go with a spear as this seems to make the most logical sense of melee weapon choice for one who is going to be shorter and have poorer reach than almost all the enemies she would face.  Of course for the dwarf, I had to go with an axe, but she is no dummy and wanted the benefit of a shield for defense, so I went with a one-handed axe.

Nothing too new construction wise.  The dwarf is made with a flat tapered plug and a split long bead as shoulders.  The head is a small bead, arms, feet, armor plates, and axe are tile spacers, shield is the small precut round wooden craft piece.  Halfling has a body made from a long bead, everything else is the same as the dwarf except no shoulder piece, the arms are tile spacers and so are the shoulder armor plates.  Both have paper skirts that flare out a bit representing the bottom of the chainmail shirts they are wearing.

I'm really happy with both figure's hair, though, especially the dwarf.  I wanted it to be more "flowing" like she was in mid swing, and I'm pretty happy with the results.  The paper can be hard to "tame," but like anything else, the more I work with it the better the results get.  There is a slight variation on the halfling figure for the feet.  If I left the tile spacer full thickness, it made the halfling too tall; she would have been as tall as the dwarf.  So I split the feet in half (which wasn't easy, but it wasn't too bad) to make her a little shorter.  This is actually easier to see in the last picture below.

The back of the figures is usually boring and this is no exception, but I wanted to show the figures from both sides.

And here are the three possible B/X female adventurers, a dwarf, elf, and halfling, ready for adventure!  When I get another female fighter done, I'll post a picture of the "boxed set" 8-figure version of these female adventurers, with one of each B/X class except for the fighter which will have two figures ... because you can't have too many fighter figures!



Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kobolds Take 2

I liked the first kobold that I did, but I wanted to have another go.  He was a bit too tall and stocky and I thought the problem was that I used a shoulder piece for him and that it was not needed.  I also wasn't a fan of the ears.  So I did two more test kobolds.  Here they are.

And from the other side.

The one with the swords left arm is a bit too short, but other than that I like how these guys came out. 

Now here they are compared to the original kobold test figure.


The only differences in construction are that I used tile spacers for the ears so that they were shorter, and I did not use the split bead for a shoulder piece.  As you can see with these guys, it just isn't needed, and the figure looks much more slight and it isn't nearly as tall as the first kobold figure I did.  I also came up with a better way to do the tails, which look a lot better I think.  I used a thin strip of paper, glued it into place, and then covered it with hot glue.  Gives a nice tail appearance, and now I think I'm going to do another otyugh at some point using this technique for the tentacles.

This is a good lesson though, meaning that it is not very often that I hit upon the ideal way to construct these guys first try.  Takes some practice and re-engineering often with all of these wooden figures.  But, that's a lot of the fun of it too.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Premade Trees

I think Dale may have already posted about this a while back, but today while I was randomly walking around Jo Ann Fabrics (waiting for another store to open) I found these premade wooden trees that are of a really good size for the figures I do (roughly 30mm or so tall).  Here is a picture of them in the package.
They appear to be made in China (shocker!) distributed by a company in Florida called Sparrow Innovations, Inc.  I haven't tried to find them online to see if they have other cool things or not.

They were a little pricey, about $2.25 per tree, but that's not so bad considering all you have to do is paint them and they are done.  They already have a serviceable base on them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Two Games Over the Weekend

I ran two games this past weekend, one was the Balin's Tomb Lord of the Rings miniatures game, and the second was a playtest for a tabletop fantasy role-playing game I've been working on.  Only two pictures of the later I'm sorry to say, but I took quite a few of the Balin's Tomb game.

Balin's Tomb
I used the by the book GW Strategy Battle Game rules for this one, with my Balin's Tomb set up that I already posted pictures of before.  Standard winning conditions for the Good side, last 12 turns without Frodo being killed or any 5 Fellowship members being killed.  The rules, and this scenario, are pretty biased in favor of the Good side, so I thought they would probably win, I just wanted to see if the board I was using was too big for the game.

Turned out that three players showed up to the game store to play so I played the Evil side and each player took a set of heroes to play.  This turned out to be a very good thing and when I run this at a convention I'm going to make sure to play the Evil side and have all the players play the heroes.  It was just more fun for them.  And now the pics of the game.

Starting point for the Fellowship, as close as I could get it out of the movie.

At the start of the first turn of the game.  One unit of goblins with a goblin leader (I used an orc figure so it was easy to tell who the leader was in the chaos of the melee to come) has made its way through the door.  This is the only thing I think I will change.  I gave the Good side priority (initiative) like the rules say to do for the first turn, but I'm going to give the evil side priority next time I run the game.  It will allow the goblins to put more immediate pressure on the heroes, and this is a good thing.

Two goblin units in now, this is the end of the second turn.  You can see that the Fellowship are setting up for a bottle neck to the goblin's left of Balin's tomb to try and limit the rushing advance.  It actually worked pretty well.

Third turn.  All three goblin units on the board at this point.  Basically it's a contest of exchanged missile fire between Legolas and Aragorn shooting arrows and a lot of goblins shooting arrows.  Every now and then Gandalf would cast a spell as well.

The big boy makes his entrance and you can see we've got some melee's going on now.  All forces are on the board at this point.

The cave troll makes a go of moving around the open side of the tomb to get to Gandalf and the hobbits on the other side.

He made the turn and was heading for home but the Fellowship won priority and Gimli moved into melee with the cave troll to stop his advance.  You can see Aragorn and Boromir also fighting in a ferocious melee, greatly outnumbered.


Gimli has managed to keep pinning the cave troll and you can see that the hobbits have made their way to the stairs, with Gandalf and Legolas covering their retreat.


Evil won priority for this turn and the cave troll tried to finish off Gimli with one goblin each charging in to occupy Boromir and Aragorn, with a rush of three getting to Gandalf.  Nail biting time!

But, Gimli killed the cave troll, Gandalf survived, and eventually the Fellowship took out all the goblins.  However, Pippin was killed in the process.  The game was a Good victory!

The cave troll is just not tough enough in the game, I'm giving him another wound next time.  Also, I'm going to put some rubble on the floor which will serve as rough terrain for the Fellowship, but not for the goblins or cave troll, so that should liven the game up as well.  But all in all, it was great fun, I love the rules (and I am not a GW fanboy by any stretch), and am looking forward to running this game again in the future.

Dungeon Crawl RPG Playtest
I've been working on a retro-inspired (not a retro-clone) set of tabletop fantasy rpg rules and wanted to test them out.  I won't go into details about the rules, but here are a couple of pictures of the game.  My plan is to run this dungeon (it's about 15 rooms total) at a convention as a rpg-lite type game.  It is sort of like a cross between Heroquest and old-school theater-of-the-mind D&D in that it is played on the tabletop, but the actions of the characters are not really constrained at all, so they can do whatever their player describes.





I had to put the idol from the cover of the AD&D Players Handbook in the game, didn't I!?  He looks too cool not to include.  The thief in this case is climbing up on the brazier to disarm a trap on it before removing the gem eyes.  If you do not disarm this trap, when you go to pry out the gem eyes the brazier shoots a huge blast of flame straight up burning the would-be tomb raider.  You can see many of the heroes I completed yesterday serving as the PCs for the game.

The cave troll is standing in for a demon in the game (I didn't get the demon figure finished).  The party managed to complete the dungeon with only the barbarian dying, so it was pretty successful.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

2 New Adventurers, 3 New Doors

I've been hard at work churning out a couple new heroes, another human fighter but the first with a crossbow, and the other a female elf ranger/fighter/archer.  Here they are.
Not much new construction wise, but I decided to try and paint some scale mail on the human fighter, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  Every now and then I put in a gold scale to break it up a bit.

Now an action shot with the three new doors.
Two human fighters and a human cleric coming up behind the two new heroes to provide support.  There is a new door in the background.  I painted a brick pattern on this one, and put a couple of split bead torch slots on for decoration.
Second new door, this one with the split lady bugs serving as skulls flanking the door.  I'll probably do another one where I put the skull on the door itself.
Third new door behind the troll.  I used the same thin pre-cut wooden small circles as shields as decorations on each side of the doorway. 

And finally a larger scale action shot.  The two new heroes blundered into this room of drow and a troll, with a gray ooze sneaking up on the elf.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

3 New Heroes and a New Way to do Doors

I know it's been a while since I posted but that's because last weekend I was at the North Texas RPG Convention.  I had a great time, met some new friends, and really got my old school fantasy rpg fix taken care of.  And best of all, I got to meet Erol Otus (if you follow this blog you know how I feel about him!) and Jeff Dee, my two favorite D&D product artists from my childhood.  I didn't get to speak much with Erol (he always seemed to be running his games when I saw him) but he was a very nice guy and did stop and talk to me (a complete stranger) in the hallway for a few minutes allowing me to go a little fan boy on him.  Jeff, on the other hand, had a booth for his products so I spent a lot of time talking with him.  Also a very nice guy and we spent a lot of time talking about the new V&V release that he and Jack Herman are putting together, which of course I backed the Kickstarter for.  I got to play in a V&V game that Jack ran at the con, which was great fun.  I'm a sucker for a good superhero rpg!

But, because of the Con, I was busy the week before it getting ready, so today is the first day I got something new done.  The following are three new heroes, a barbarian and paladin/knight redo, and a new generic archer figure.  Also, I tried a new way to do doors.  But first the heroes.

The first figure on the left is a generic archer figure.  Could be an elf, could be a human, could be a fighter, could be a ranger, could even be a thief with those striped pants, etc.  Simple construction, milk bottle with a bead as a head, tile spacer arms, bow, quiver, and feet, paper tunic and hood.  I mainly did this figure to see if I could do a hood that has those saw-toothed edges to it (I'm sure there is a term from the Middle Ages to describe this piece of clothing but I have no idea what it is).  In the middle is my 2.0 barbarian.  Lots of differences here from the old guy.  Bead head instead of the axle cap, paper hair, paper short tunic/skirt, and feet.  Still used the egg as the body and the split eggs and split spools as the arms and forearms, respectively.  Paladin/knight redo is on the far right.  Except for the feet, he has pretty much the same construction as the old one except that I gave this one a shield and put a decorative tile spacer "doo-dad" on top of his helmet (it is painted gold instead of gray so it is easier to see).  I have also started painting all the bases black.  I steered away from that for a long time, but I think it works better.  It essentially looks like the shadow created from their body, and it works regardless of what type of terrain or room color the figure is resting on.

View from the rear.

I'm quite happy with them.

And now some action shots with the new door.  I liked my old doors, the construction idea for them I stole from DMG, but because I travel to my games instead of being able to have them in my house, I have to constantly transport my stuff.  The old doors look great, but they are a little on the brittle side.  I wanted something that was a bit sturdier and could stand up to constant transport.  I already had a precut rectangle that was thick and roughly "door-sized" and some larger blocks that could serve as each side of the doorway.  For another project that is now dead in the water, I ordered a bunch of very thick long but not very wide rectangles which I thought would be a good "floor" and "ceiling" for the doorway.  It is especially nice because the thick "floor" piece is the same thickness as the thick foam I use for rooms.  So I glued it all together and because there is so much wood surface touching each other, these doors are incredibly solid!

The following is an "action shot" with my new figures, one of my new dungeon tiles out of the thick foam, and the doorway.  There is also a hallway dungeon tile in the pic that the heroes just came from, some old friends in the form of a roaring brazier and a statue of an elven goddess, and also I painted up a summoning circle insert that I can plop down on a tile wherever I need it.  It's just a large precut thin wooden circle I got at the craft store and I painted freehand a summoning circle on it that I stole from the internet.
Good shot of the door here.  I forgot to say that I added a small mushroom cap to each side of the door as a handle.  It's all a bit oversized, but I think the chunkiness of it looks good with these figures. 
The neophyte adventurers are baffled!  Why is there a summoning circle in front of the door?  What significance does the statue of the elven goddess of luck have in its positioning?  Why is the brazier lit and who lit it!?



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Two Feet or not Two Feet?

Decided to go through my older figures and put feet on the ones that I could put feet on, and otherwise touch them up construction wise to be consistent with my new style.  Some I can't change much, but most I should be able to "update."

Here are four monsters and four PCs that I updated.

I just added feet to the umber hulk, iron golem, and flesh golem.  The troll also got a paper "skirt" and paper hair.  I like him much better than before.  I unfortunately could not put a paper skirt on the flesh golem.  I wanted to, but the way his arms are makes it impossible to put one on him, so I just stuck with the painted on pants.

One of my first PC figures was the cleric on the left.  He looks great with his new feet I think.  The next one is just a generic fighter, and then the ranger next to him, and finally the Erol Otus tribute fighter.  These all were a little "iffy" for me at first because none of them have, or could have given where their arms are, the paper tunic or armor that hangs down a little lower than their waist.  So I was a little worried that the feet would make the figures look funny, but I like them much better with feet than without them.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Simple is Usually Best

I've been working on a set of retro-inspired (not a "clone" set per se) fantasy tabletop rpg rules and I needed to have some way on the tabletop to indicate that a character who can hide and sneak is doing so successfully ... to use an old-school term, is "in shadows."  Finally dawned on me how to do this simply.  I just took one of the larger round wooden pre-cut bases and painted it black.  During play, when a character successfully is stealthy, I put the figure for the character who is stealthy on top of the black circle.  Let's everyone know that character is "in shadows" and cannot be seen by enemies.
The fighter and the magic-user engage the otyugh to its front, while the thief sneaks around for a backstab.  The large black base that he is standing on indicates that he was successful in his stealth attempt and will be able to backstab the otyugh next round.
Close up shot.  Yep, simple is usually best.  Also beats the heck out of doing a completely new figure painted in some way to represent that he is stealthy (sort of like what I did for Frodo in painting an "invisible" version of the Frodo miniature). 

These pictures also have one of my new room tiles in them as well.  Also simple.  I decided that 1) the floors in a dungeon should be pretty dark, so I need to allow more of the black of the foam or the darkest color (in this case dark brown) to show through with less of the light color showing through to make it look appropriately dark, and 2) by keeping the color on the tile fairly muted, it allows the figures to stand out more and people will pay more attention to them, which is what I want.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Two More Female PCs, a Kobold Prototype, & a Battle Pic

Just finished up two more female PC figures, a cleric and a rogue, and a prototype kobold figure.  Whenever I do a new monster of any type, unless I am 100% sure about construction, I always do a single prototype figure so as not to waste produce when I screw it up ... and I will screw it up!  This kobold is actually the second one I did, the first one didn't even get painted I disliked it so much.
So we have the female cleric on the left, the female rogue in the middle, and the kobold prototype on the right.  First the PCs.

I wanted to do something a little different with their hair this time.  I definitely wanted a "page boy" cut on the cleric (seems pious to me for some reason!), and for the rogue I wanted to try giving her short bangs.  I'm happy with both the hair styles.  Other than that, there is nothing new in the construction of the female PC figures this time, just different hair.  Oh, there is one thing, I tried (somewhat successfully?) to give the female rogue more flared boots using a piece of paper cut into a long diamond shape for the front of each boot, and then flaring out the left and right points of the diamond after it was glued onto the shaker peg to make it look like, for lack of a better term, "pirate boots."  It was somewhat successful, I think I needed to make it more exaggerated than I did (another "lesson" I've learned about these fantasy figures, the more over the top, usually the better it looks).  But for a first effort, not bad.  You can sort of see the boots in the picture above.
The kobold I give about a grade of B.  Some of the things I like, some not so much.  He's made just like the Goblin Town goblin I just posted about last week except that his head is obviously a split oval bead rather than a round one.  I used a cut tile spacer to make his "crest" on his head.  The ears are just the pointy ends of pre-cut long, thin, flat, pointed on one end, wooden shapes you can get at any craft store.  One of my issues with him is that he is too big to be a kobold, but with these guys I don't worry too much about size and scale.  The other issue I have with him is I think I can do better with the crest on the head.
The cleric's mace is just a small bead glued onto a toothpick and trimmed.  I like that it's so oversized, makes her look like she clearly must have the strength of her god running through her to be able to wield a weapon like that!

And now for the battle in the hallway pictures just for fun!  These are new foam terrain pieces I've been working on (very simple, nothing to them) with the newer figures I have done battling it out in the hallway.  The female fighter/paladin went ahead of the party and got surprised by a kobold and a bunch of orcs.  She has been somewhat isolated but the rest of the party rushes down the hall to help her.  The male rogue is hiding in the shadows, getting ready to backstab the kobold, while the other members of the party move into a melee position or provide ranged attack support while some of the orcs continue to close.




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