Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lead Painters League -- entering the fray once more!

My decision on whether to enter this year's Lead Painters League or not came down to the wire. I barely finished the minimum 3 teams by the deadline date. That should have been a warning to me, but I enjoy entering the league every year. It forces me to get backlogs of unpainted miniatures completed, plus it also pushes me to try improve my painting skills. I tend to do an extra level of detail on entries for this league, so it makes my output -- my painted miniatures -- look nicer on the tabletop.
So, here's a turn by turn account of my run in Lead Painters League 11.

Round 1: Raid on Deerfield

These were figures I'd painted (but not posted pictures of yet) prior to the announcement of the start of the league. They are from Knuckle Duster Miniatures, from their War of 1812 line: Grand River Nations in Winter Dress. I had previously painted up some winter dress Indians from Conquest Miniatures, and needed some more to run a winter scenario. In fact, the scenario was the convention event my friends and I would be running this year using my Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules: The Raid on Deerfield. This photo uses my log cabin with LED votive candles and cotton to give it a burning effect. I honestly wasn't as happy with this set of miniatures -- they don't have the detail that Conquest Miniatures do. Still, they were good enough for me to squeak out a 4-vote lead (which counts as a Draw in the league rules).

Score: Draw, 164-160.

Round 2: Are We Mice or Men?

Of my initial batch of 3 "teams" or entries in the league, I liked this photograph the best. I thought the colors and the look of the Splintered Light Miniatures mice really popped in the photograph. These are part of an ongoing painting project for my own set of fantasy miniatures rules. I am getting a few armies painted up for them before I playtest because the rules call for multifigure, whole unit bases. These mice slingers are done in a variety of fur colors, but with matching medieval style uniforms. I give each army a theme, and this army's is a Medieval European style. Despite how much I liked these figures, they fell to a much-better painted entry. As soon as I looked at my opponent's figs, I knew it would be my first loss in this season.

Score: Loss, 93-269

Round 3: "We Who are About to Die"

This project came about when I saw somebody posting online trying to get rid of some 28mm gladiators. I contacted the seller and worked out a trade between some French & Indian War figures I had, and that he wanted, and these. I was VERY happy with how these figures looked. They were clean castings, great poses, and not ridiculously detailed. Since they had so much flesh on them, I decided to try a new technique for my Caucasian flesh tone. I mixed up a bottle of acrylic matte medium with a dull orange color to use as a wash. It worked like a charm. Speaking of flesh, I also decided to mix up the nationalities and painted some African and some Arabic flesh tones. I also had made a concession to advancing age and purchased an giant, illuminated mirror that attached to my painting desk. With its additional magnification, I was able to great fine details on the shields. The voters must have been impressed, as this was my first clear victory, evening my record at 1-1-1.

Score: Win, 244-140

Round 4: Africa Uprising, 20mm

My next rules set that I will release with First Command Wargames is my Modern Africa rules. So, I took the League as an opportunity to paint up some more 20mm figures. I knew I would need some more militia, so dug through my unpainted Liberation Miniatures and grabbed a big batch to paint up. One of the things I like about 20mm for this period is that you can paint up lots of them relatively quickly, but they have a lot more detail and heft than 15mm. Since these were for the league, I put a lot more highlighting on these, touching up a highlight color for straps and other gear. Ironically, I was matched up against an entry that was several stands of 15mm WW II Flames of War figures. Honestly, this was the only round of the 10 were I thought I should have won that I did not. I ended up keeping the vote close enough for it to count as a draw, but I'm still pretty mystified why these guys did so poorly. 

Score: Draw, 186-192

Round 5: Wrong to Meet Dr. Jones

 One thing that spices up the Lead Painters League is that there are three "theme" rounds. I usually can field figures from my collection of unpainted minis to cover them, but every once in awhile I have to get creative or purchase something. Luckily, Round 5's theme was "Ship's Crew." I had bought an entire bag of Old Glory 25mm U.S. Sailors when I began playing Pulp years back. So, it was a snap to pick out a handful to paint up. One thing, though. As affordable as they are, Old Glory figures tend to be of marginal quality. True to form, the figures painted up okay, but nothing exceptional. Wanting to eke out another win, I decided to go wild on the diorama I set up. It actually sparked some discussion about if voters are basing their choice on the figures or the picture. Speaking of which, did you notice the pygmy cannibals emerging from the jungle to surround the sailors? I won this round feeling a little guilty that I had bamboozled the voters.

Win,  263-128

Round 6: Trail of Tears -- Iroquois Raiders

I like this photo so much that it actually ended up on the back cover of my Beaver Wars Campaign Rules & Scenario Book. The five warriors in the foreground are from the excellent Flint & Feather line from the producers of Pulp Miniatures. As you can imagine, I've become quite comfortable painting Native Americans, and this was one of my better sets. The lighted magnifying glass allowed me to put in even more detail in the designs on their clothes and the tattoos. I really liked my color choices, too. The voters were kind to my entry, and I won this round fairly handily. Most of my contests were quite close this league, but this one was one of the exceptions. My record improved to 3 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws after this round.
Win, 250-103

Round 7: Satyr-day Night Specials, 15mm

In Round 7, my foray into this year's Lead Painters League began to derail. I'd started another batch of gladiators, but did not get them done in time. Sadly, this lack of progress would continue for the next three rounds. So, rather than have them re-run my previous entry for another week, I found the time to photograph my old 15mm Splintered Light Miniatures Satyr army for Hordes of the Things. the army is definitely one of my favorite 15mm fantasy armies I've painted, but it was unable to when this contest. With the league's Swiss Chess pairing, I had risen high into the standings. I was due for a smack-down by someone of more talent, and this duly happened.

Loss, 150-283

Round 8: "Khmer and look at this!"

Awhile back, I had painted three Pulp figures for a friend's series of games he was going to run. We were using the smaller Pulp Alley leagues with just a Hero, Sidekick, and Ally. League rules dictate that there is a minimum of five figures, so I recycled a couple previously photographed miniatures. Once again, this was a "no new team" entry, and lost me the 10 bonus points I would otherwise receive each round for entering newly-painted miniatures. I decided to take a page from my early "Dr. Jones" entry, and set up an elaborate Southeast Asian temple complex. Unfortunately, I was still floating relatively high in the standings and was matched up against a painter well beyond my skill level. The result was another thumping -- my worst this season -- and my record dropped to exactly .500 percentage -- 3 wins, 3 losses, 2 ties.

Loss, 104-258

Round 9: From the Pits of Gundabad, 15mm
To be honest, I was at my lowest morale point here in this league. For the third week in a row, I was unable to field a newly-painted league. Granted, I had things going on in my life. I had chaperoned our school's 8th grade Washington D.C. trip for a week. I had been working my butt off to get the Beaver Wars book ready for print. And the same group of gladiators remained almost finished on my desk. Honestly, I could possibly have finished them for this round. However, I knew there'd be no way I'd get a new team done for Round 10. With that round being a theme round, the gladiators would actually fit perfectly for it. So, I threw in one final previously painted entry. This one was my 15mm Wolf Riders army. I have always liked the job I did on the wolves, so took it as a chance to showcase them. Would they be good enough to squeeze out a win? If I lost this round, the best I could do would be breaking even. As it turned out, I had sunk low enough in the standings that I was matched up against an entry that my wolves could handle, as it turned out. This took me to 4-3-2 going into the final round.

Win, 198-133

Round 10: "Um, Who's Got the Big Guy?"

The theme was "Big Brother" (larger version of the main figures), and as the picture above shows, this was why I saved the gladiators for this final round. At the local Michaels Craft Store, I found this plastic gladiator who was easily twice as tall as my 28mm ones. He was a prepainted figure, so I primed him black and repainted him to join the 8 gladiators I'd been working on for nearly a month. Once again, I was very happy with how the Crusader gladiators painted up. There are a couple items of equipment that I had to ponder over, but for the most part, they are incredibly clean castings that are a snap to paint and look great when finished. I was really happy with my shield patterns on these, as well (though I do admit to starting over on the one carried by the spearman in the back). Another contest that was not a blowout, but happily a victory for me. This finalized my record at 5 wins, 3 losses, 2 ties. 

As the Leaderboard pasted below shows, I finished 18th out of 32 contestants. This was probably my lowest finish in the last couple years. However, if I *did* manage to put in new entries in all three rounds that I did not (read = receive 30 more points), I would have finished up in 13th. In my opinion, that is too high. There are easily more than a dozen painters in this league much better than me. So, perhaps this finish is a more accurate rating of where I fit in the league this time around. Who knows? Even with three rounds of recycled entries, that is seven batches of newly-painted figures I finished up. So, on that note, my foray into this year's league must be counted as a success!

Win, 201-143 

These guys are NOT my figures -- but are part of the final Leaderboard image. They're a good example of entries from those painters who make my efforts look journeyman, at best!




Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Mummy, or should I say, "The Skeletons"?

French archeologist controlled by Mike S arrive at the door to King Tut's tomb
For a change of pace, Keith hosted a take-off of the modern, Brendan Fraser “The Mummy” movies. The game was set with the opening of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s, but with competition between various European factions to be the first in the tomb. Keith was using Flying Lead rules from Ganesaha Games, with a generous helping of the fantasy Song of Blades and Heroes thrown in, too. Keith had picked up a bunch of painted skeletons last weekend at The Bookery in Fairborn, OH, and wanted an excuse to get them onto the tabletop.
The British archeologists peer through the doorway and see movement where there shouldn't be any...
With a big turnout — 1 GM and 7 players — we had four European factions and four “bad guy” factions — mostly skeletons. Allen started off with a force of Arab tomb looters, and was supposed to die off quickly and become the third skeleton command. However, his looters held off the Europeans for longer than anyone anticipated, which meant for the first part of the game the skeletons sat around like…well, they’d been sitting there for thousands of years!
Having guarded against tomb raiders for thousands of years, the Pharaoh's skeletal soldiers are ready to repel the incursion
Once the Europeans made it into the tunnels leading to the tomb, they were a little gun-shy about entering the complex. Several turns were spent with skeletons waiting to pounce on the Europeans as they entered the tomb, unable to pour out because of the “magic” involved. Eventually, Keith let the magic flow out the doors and we took the battle to them (I was playing a skeleton, along with newcomer Brett). Keith had thrown in special event cards, which chiefly had the effect of allowing the Europeans to interrupt or steal our actions when we rolled them. There was one glorious moment when I played my first, hard-won card (you received them only when you eliminated an enemy figure) and knocked down “The Moose”, one of the burly European raiders.

The first instinct of the Europeans was to try to stay at the door and shoot down the skeletons
Seven players in one game tends to make the action move a little slowly at times, and we ended up calling it quits just before 11 pm. Steve’s Chinese archeologists were close to breaking into Tut’s inner chambers. Mike S had moved his French into the same room, and was busy holding off the skeletons. My “rabble” skeletons were doing their best to hold off Joel and Mike W’s factions, though it would not be long before they broke past my weak command.
Once the Europeans entered the tomb complex the skeleton guards tried to swarm the doughty, well-armed archeologists
It was a different style of game, and was definitely fun once the Europeans entered the tomb complex. A little less preamble (and a little better rolling command rolls by the Europeans) might have produced a faster game that was fought to a conclusion. All in all, it was a good chance to get new figures and Keith’s new scratch-build dungeon complex on the tabletop!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Raid on Deerfield Convention Game

The Raid on Deerfield (a Massachusetts frontier town) gets under way as raiders set fire to a house
Each year, I pick a new game to run at conventions to promote my French & Indian War rules, Song of Drums and Tomahawks. This year, along with my coauthors Keith and Mike, we decided to stage the 1704 Raid on Deerfield, fought as part of Queen Anne's War between the French and British. This wintertime raid by roughly 300 French and Indians devastated the Massachusetts frontier town. They took dozens of captives back north to Canada with them. However, the interesting thing was that some of the houses fought out till relieved by a force from neighboring towns. Unlike the Raid on Schenectady (which was our original choice), the execution of this attack was much more haphazard. It seemed like a better fit for a man-to-man skirmish game.
Our Deerfield -- pooling together the buildings of myself and my coauthors Keith and Mike
The three of us met one Saturday, bringing all of our 28mm buildings, to lay out the map. At that time, we were still planning on Schenectady, and we laid out each of the four 3'x3' battlefields which would be arranged in a square. A couple weeks later, when we decided to change to Deerfield, I referred to my catalog of buildings and online images and layouts to create a Deerfield version. A key part of our multiplayer Song of Drums and Tomahawks games are that each pair of opponents essentially plays their own one-on-one game. The four games are tied together strategically and tactically -- with players being able to send reinforcements if they wish to another table. But to make it work in the eyes of the players, I needed clear delineations and blocked sight lines between neighboring board sections. I decided to use fence sections to accomplish this, and was pleased that when it was all laid out on the tabletop, the battlefield did appear broken up.
More French militia and Indians pour into the town looking to create havoc and take captives
As part of getting this ready for the tabletop, I needed to create four new battlefield mats to represent a snowscape. Prior to the raid, it has snowed heavily and drifts piled up against the town palisade actually permitted Indians in snowshoes to climb up them and surmount the walls. These infiltrators then opened up the gate the rest of the force. A trip to Joanne's Fabrics produced a white felt with glitter set inside it, which was subtle enough to give a reflective sparkle here and there, like light reflecting off of ice and snow. I used the same method I'd used for my other felt battle mats. I used a sifter filled with Woodland Scenics blended green Turf, shaking it lightly over the surface. I then sprayed it with a 50/50 mix of water and Acrylic Matte Medium. It is important to spray the mixture up and let the droplets settle on the felt rather then squirting it directly. Once the first coat has dried, the second coat and be sprayed more directly onto its surface.
Some townsfolk men rally together to try to save some of their neighbors
I also painted another batch of winter dress Indians, this time from Knuckleduster Miniatures. These Grand River Nations (Winter Dress) Warriors are not as detailed and nice as my normal Conquest Miniatures, but they add nice variety and a few of them are quite striking. I also touched up my some of my friends' contributions to our pool of women and children townsfolk -- a few of which weren't flocked and needed this to look nice on the tabletop. Similarly, I touched up a few buildings my friends had donated (but shh, don't tell them that!).
My first running of the Raid on Deerfield filled up with 8 players
We ran a playtest of it one Sunday evening, and I was glad that I did. We came up with two key instances that the rules would need to be modified for the scenario. I was satisfied with the solutions I came up with both, but it is always better to encounter these situations when playtesting rather than on game day. The first convention running of the Raid on Deerfield, 1704, would be at the brand new DayCon 2017 held in Fairborn, OH, Feb. 18. The night before I had laid out all four battlefields and packed all the buildings and scenery needed for each sector of the battlefield into their own separate boxes. Being anal like I am, I even put a sticker on the bottom of each terrain piece recording its location. For good measure, I took a photo of each with my cell phone so that I could refer to it when setting everything up. As it was, the table size I'd requested turned out to not be available. Instead of a 6'x6' square, I was given an 8'x5' area. This required some squeezing together of each sector of the battlefield, which actually worked out better as it broke up the sight lines even more.
Townsfolk spot some Indians lurking in a copse of trees and rush to attack them
I had a full 8 players for my afternoon event at DayCon. All eight had played the rules before, so this abbreviated the introduction time and let me get into explaining the scenario more quickly. Essentially, the four French & Indian players each start with a force of 8-9 figures entering on one corner of the board. The Townsfolk started with four armed men in the opposite corner. Each board had six buildings containing random numbers of townsfolk. They could include more armed men, armed women, unarmed women, and children. When either the raiders or townsfolk player had figures open the door of the building, the townsfolk player reached into a bag and drew a chip which designated what was inside. To enter a building, you had to batter down the door, which could take anywhere from one to five turns depending on the player's roll and the number of figures battering away at it.
A rare shot of me here on my blog, center, teaching two new people how to play Song of Drums and Tomahawks
The goal of the Indians is to take captives. I ruled that any time a French or Indian player wounded (killed) a townsfolk figure, they could count it as knocked out or subdued. Then, they could shuttle it off board by moving it to a designated point on the edge of the board, returning after dropping it off with the off-board forces marshaling and stringing together the captives. Historically, the French wanted to simply create havoc and chaos, terrorizing the frontier. So, players were equally free to simply kill townsfolk. The objective of the townsfolk was to try to save as many of the women and children as possible. The game was a lot of fun, with each player having a lot of leeway in how they tried to accomplish their mission.
Townsfolk also could go house to house, collecting up their neighbors to try to save them from the raiders
We received a lot of compliments on how the table looked. There certainly were a LOT of buildings on the table. One of the four sides of the town was lined with my Acheson Creations fort palisade. I think it would have been really cool to be able to line all four sides. Who knows? Maybe I can get them to cut me a break on more fort wall pieces -- I certainly showcase their products a lot in my games...ha, ha!
A French officer surveys the havoc being caused by the raid
The only sour note of the process of getting this game ready to run at this year's conventions was that we missed the deadline for Cincycon. I was so busy that I simply did not see or notice the deadline had come and gone. It is unfortunate, as I have been running games there for a number of years, now.
Successful Indian raiders lead off two captives for the long journey north to Canada
Otherwise, look for The Raid on Deerfield at the following conventions:
May 6: First Capital Gaming Convention, Chillicothe, OH
May 19-20: Drums at the Rapids, Fort Meigs, Perrysburg, OH
July 12-16: Historicon, Fredericksburg, VA
Oct. 6-8: Advance the Colors, Springfield, OH

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Another Blast from the Past: Viking Turf Hall

28mm Viking Hall from Acheson Creations (with dragon heads on beams and shutters and doors added by me)
I've decided to "rescue" posts from my old Lead Legionaries blog -- especially ones that show great buildings or other terrain. Here's one on a Viking Turf Hall that I purchased from Acheson Creations way back in 2013:

So, this beauty is my payment for running my Viking Raid game at Origins. Well, essentially. I was given $60 in credit to be used either at restaurants, dealers, etc., to go with my weekend pass for running my game three times at Origins. This very large terrain piece by Acheson Creations is one of their pricier ones, and I was hemming and hawing about whether I wanted to pay $80 or not for it. When Acheson's convention rep, Bryan Borgman, stopped by my game I told him about my indecision. He offered to knock a bit off the price for me since I was using so many of his buildings in my game and urging all my players to visit his booth. I accepted Byran's offer and I now had two Viking buildings to use in my Dark Age skirmishes. 

The building represents a sod-covered Viking Hall -- a building technique that the Vikings employed both in Scandinavia and the British Isles. Rather than try to represent the color with different layers of dry brushing, I hit on the idea of using Woodland Scenics flocking for the sod. I began with my usual black spray paint and watered down black acrylic base coats. Then I did a wet brush (essentially a heavy dry brush) over the black using my earth red color I use as my ground. I then painted on straight white glue and sprinkled Woodland Scenics "Burnt Grass" on thickly. While it was still wet, I also sprinkled tiny patches of brown "turf" and "Blended Grass" to give it some depth. I am really happy with how it turned out, though I think I had too much glue run down the roof and collect on the edges giving the turf an almost liquid look. I'm honestly not sure what I could have done about that with the slope of the roof.
View of the interior of the 28mm Acheson Creations Viking Hall. The only thing I added here was trimming up and gluing down some craft sticks as logs in the firepit.
As it says on the caption above, I modified this Acheson building as well. I used the same Dragon "Toob" from Hobby Lobby and cut off the heads of the soft plastic dragons. I drilled a hole with a pin vice in the beams, glued in a straight pin with tacky glue. I drilled a hole in the soft plastic dragon head, too, and pressed it onto the trimmed down straight pin. I also used corrugated balsa wood to scratch build shutters for the windows. One is propped open and the other is closed. The same material was used to create a door.

This building will be a great centerpiece for a "Hall Burning" or similar type scenario. Like I said, it is a bit pricey compared to the deal that most Acheson buildings are, but it is a very large piece at 10" wide, 6" deep and 6" tall. At some point soon, I'll also be painting up my Acheson "boat-shaped grave mound" terrain piece I picked up at the same time. Other than that, I'm done for a little while with my Acheson terrain. I have more to do in my boxes -- ruined wall sections, a multi-section bridge (which can be used as a pier, as well),  and various other terrain pieces. But I'm going to take a break from it and fill out some holes in my 28mm Dark Ages troops. Up on my painting desk now are 12 Dark Age mounted warriors. I also need to do some unarmored Vikings for my campaign (all mine are armored ones), some monks, and maybe some more Dal Riatan Scots-Irish. My next big scratch building will be coming up soon, too. I'm going to do a Celtic monastery inspired by the UNESCO World Heritage site of Skellig Michael.

Build Something Contest - Steampunk Leonardo Helicopter

Leonardo da Vinci's sketch of his idea for a helicopter using an aerial screw
Perhaps unwisely, I decided to enter the Lead Adventure Forum's "Build Something Contest" the other day. I may have bitten off more than I can chew on this, especially since another project deadline recently got accelerated by more than a month.
What looks to be like an MDF model of Da Vinci's helicopter
Nevertheless, I decided to press on, and quickly got an idea when I read the theme was "Flight." Leonardo da Vinci is a personal hero of mine. I tell my students every year that I think he is the most talented and smartest man to walk the Earth, so far. What's more, I own an Italian army for my friend's Victorian Science Fiction/Steampunk games. My friend Tom has written and published his own rules set, For Queen & Planet: The Imperial Wars of Earth and Mars 1845-1930. Check them out -- they're a lot of fun!
One of our games of For Queen and Planet, with fanciful war machines on the tabletop
Tom's rules allow for flying and other war machines, and I had been wanting to scratch-build something for my army to use in our games. The contest is a perfect opportunity. And what better choice for an Italian army than a Da Vinci inspired design?
My Italian army for our Victorian Sci-Fi/Steampunk games
So, my thought is to modify Da Vinci's Helicopter, or aerial screw. With the invention of steam power in our game's time period, his screw no longer needs to rely on man-power to turn the screw's fan blades. I plan on cooking up some sort of lightweight steam power and gear assembly to replace the man powered crank in his design. Obviously, this is steampunk, so it doesn't have to be scientifically accurate or a blueprint for an actual vehicle that could take flight. However, I want to make a nod at the science part of Victorian Sci-Fi, and make it not outrageously unfeasible.
An image I found of a model someone had built, demonstrating Da Vinci's idea of employing human power
 I am still working out what kind of armament it would employ. My first thought was it would be a bomber, able to attack units it overflies by simply dropping bombs down onto them. Anther thought was to make it a helicopter gunship, of sorts, with a gatling gun mounted in some sort of swivel mechanism either beneath the helicopter or out front. So far, no sketches have been made. However, I  have ideas bubbling like the steam engine building up power. Hopefully, something productive comes out of this -- and I actually complete the model, unlike many of Leonardo's designs, which never left paper.

In bocca al lupo!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Blast from the Past: My all-time favorite scratch-build!

Scratch-built Saxon church, made using Hirst Arts bricks, cardboard and various other materials scrounged from the local craft store
I went looking for my post on this scratch-built, Medieval Saxon style church today and it took me forever to find it. I created this -- my all-time, favorite scratch-build piece of terrain way back in March of 2013. That means it just missed being on this blog, and instead resides on my old Lead Legionaries site. The way I organized the site back then makes it harder to find individual entries. It was more of a running log of projects I was working on. So, I thought I'd repost it over here so it is easier to find.

Without further ado, my words from 2013 on this build!

First off, I've decided that I'm going to pick up my 28mm Dark Age skirmish gaming again. I finally came up with a cool idea for a campaign I want to run for my Sunday night gaming group. So, to do that, I need to fill out my collection. I have plenty of Vikings and Picts, but could beef up my number of Britons and Dal Riatan Irish. And I owned zero Anglo-Saxons when I made that decision. I took care of that glaring need first, purchasing 25 Anglo-Saxon foot from Steve -- a guy who regularly sells Foundry 28mm figures at flea markets for just $1 a piece! My friends Steve V and Keith were planning a major purchase, so Steve actually drove down to Columbus on a Sunday night and brought his figures. I bought about $40 worth. In addition to the Saxons, I picked up some Irish, peasants and even some French & Indian War troops.
I immediately started on the Saxons, and they went very quickly. Within a month or so, I had all 25 completed. No pictures of them in this post, even though I have some because...well, I'll get to that later! Anyway, my campaign I am going to run for the group requires me to have a variety of Dark Age buildings. The focus of the campaign is raids by various players on each other's territory. And a main target of raids in the Dark Ages were those banks of the time, churches! So, I decided to scratch-build an Anglo-Saxon church. I did some research online and found a relatively simple design that I thought I could reproduce using leftover Hirst Arts bricks. A long time ago, my friend Zeke cast me up a bunch for a Pictish broch. He said to hang onto the bricks I didn't use, though. After deciding on a design and size, I sat down one night and began to stack the bricks up on my desk to see if I had enough for the church as I envisioned it. I did...barely. It was so close that I had to switch from a rectangular chancel to a rounded one to have enough!

The Hirst Arts bricks all laid out on the wooden plaque base
I based the whole thing on a cheap wooden plaque from Michaels craft store. Those Hirst Arts bricks are heavy, and need something thick and stable. There are 3 joined together sections to this building -- the long rectangular nave, a rounded chancery, and the small squarish portico entrance.  
The cardboard roofs are fitted, but the tiles aren't glued on yet
The next photo shows the model with the three roofs in place. They are made to lift off for gaming, of course. These were completely scratch-built, using a styrene base, foam core eaves, and cardboard roof. Next up will be to put cardboard shingles on the roof. You can see the decoration I've added for the eaves. The coarse gravel and Hirst Arts bricks combine to give a mixed building material look. The angel will be painted stone, of course, and comes from the local craft store. I picked a bag of them up about a decade ago and am finally using a couple of them!  And another view showing the portico entrance, with more simple decoration over the door.
The roof tiles were cut out in strips of cardboard and then glued on. VERY tedious, but looks nice!

It had been awhile since I used the Hirst Arts blocks. I found I needed to put 2 coats of primer and two of watered down black paint to completely black coat it. There were still some plaster gray spots peeking through. I was never one to use the min wax "dip" method, but now I'm wondering if it'd be quicker and do a more thorough job. Next, I constructed the roofs. I used the method suggested by my friend, Joe (from "An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields" website). However, I stupidly used very thick cardboard for the first roof I tried -- the small portico entrance. You can see the difference in the photos. After that, I went out and got some ordinary black cardstock and it worked much better. Joe was right, cutting and gluing the strips of tiles into place was tedious. It took me two hours to do the large roof alone. As a facing, I glued on a piece of textured bass wood to hide the edge of the corrugated cardboard roof. I could have done a better job measuring and trimming the pieces up so they match. Live and learn!

I've also added in a few detail elements, as you can see. First, I took some craft store crosses and glued them to the peak of the eaves of the large roof. They were dry-brushed to resemble stone. I also put a washer over the door of the portico, and then cut off the head and shoulders of a 1/72 scale plastic figure as relief carving of a saint or Mary. 

I took some advice of other modelers and picked out individual tiles in contrasting colors...really made the roof "pop"
You can also see the windows I made, which were quite the pain, really! They are a sandwich of 4 layers. The outer layers are simply cardboard trimmed to fit the opening. The inner layers are clear plastic and a black mesh material I picked up at the craft store. It was difficult to fit them exactly to the opening in the Hirst Arts molds. I think they turned out okay, though. I also used some leftover bricks and made a small bell tower. The bell itself is a wooden tea bell from the craft store with the handle snipped off. Another charm cross sits atop the bricks.  
Top-down view of the interior of the church
I decided I wanted to jazz up the interior of the church, too. You can see the tombstones I laid in the floor, which are simply painted rectangles of styrene glued atop a styrene sheet brick pattern painted to look like stone. The tapestries are images I downloaded from the internet, photoshopped to the right size, and had printed out on linen type resume paper. The sconces and candles were scratch-built using beads, hook and eye clasps, and wicks for candles as the actual candles themselves.
The scratch-built altar of my church
 The curtain separating the nave from the chancel is made from ribbon material I picked out at the fabric store. The statues are 1/72 scale plastic figures, while the altar table is balsa wood and hook and eye legs. The candle sticks are fancy beads. As you can imagine, this was a very time-consuming model to create. I love how it turned out, though, and it will be the centerpiece of the games I run at conventions this spring and summer.

Now...why no pictures of my Saxons? And why am I GLAD I didn't update Lead Legionaries for 2 months? Well, the Lead Painter League has rolled around again. One of the caveats of your first three entries is they are not allowed to have been published online before. So, the fact that I never put up pictures of 2/3's of the Raccoon army and none of the Saxons helped me out! With just what I had finished, I could make up entries for 7 of the 10 rounds.  I loved competing in the leauge, but the deadline pressure was very stressful last year. Now, I get to compete pretty much without the deadline pressue since more than half my entries are done, they just need photographed.

As I am writing this, the first round will be ending soon. My Anglo-Saxon command group won its round. So, for the first time ever in the leauge, I have a winning record. I will post the image from each round on here as soon as the round ends. So, stay tuned for at least weekly updates...!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

28mm Tables & Rifle Cases

28mm Resin table I picked up awhile back from a vendor I can't remember...!
I had some odds and ends in resin that I'd picked up at various conventions that I felt needed to be painted up. The first of these was a set of three 28mm tables. I honestly don't know who I purchased them from. Doubtless, it was at a convention when I was browsing a vendor's resin terrain. I always like to support the dealers as much as possible, so I must have picked these up intending to paint them one day. Well, Christmas break from school afforded me that day -- or several days, as it turned out.
The plain table with nothing molded on top of it -- MUCH simpler to paint up!
I followed my usual method for resin terrain -- beginning by spray painting the tables black, following that up with a 50/50 mix of black acrylic paint and water. I wet brushed them Howard Hues Camo Brown, following that up with a dry brush of Colonial Khaki. I then went back and painted all of the items on the tables black, again, to provide a sharp relief from the table surface.
I really like how this one turned out, with my scribblings actually looking the part of writing on the scroll and book
The most time-consuming part of getting these ready for the table -- no pun intended -- was painting the various items on each. One portrays a meal with silverware, plates, various dishes, food items, and so on. The other portrays a scribe, doctor, or perhaps even a wizard's desk. These were fun to paint up, though I had to guess a couple times what each little resin lump on the table portrayed! In the end, I decided to base the tables up to help with wear and tear, using a small piece of styrene which I flocked with Woodland Scenics Earth Turf.
Gun crates posed with some of my 28mm Pulp figures (U.S. sailors)
The last two items were crates with firearms. I have also forgotten which vendor these came from, as well. I'm sure I was thinking they'd make good objective tokens for Pulp Alley, or even just warehouse or camp clutter for other games. They were also a snap to paint up. I based them all a couple of the last of my magnetic bases I used for DBA Ancients. I've been using the Renaissance Ink bases I had collected in my DBA years for various terrain or scenic items. The supply of them has dwindled till they are almost all gone, now.
Next up, some more terrain for my Modern Africa games!
Next up, I will be painting some plastic Quonset huts that I purchased at Advance the Colors 2015 -- yep, not last year's, but the previous one. They'll make good terrain for my modern Africa games. So, look for that update relatively soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Destroyed Concrete Wall sections

25mm Acheson Creations Concrete Wall sections with my 20mm Modern Africa figures
At Advance the Colors 2016 this Fall, I was sorting through Bryan Borgman's bins of Acheson Creations products. I was looking for some more terrain I could use for my 20mm Modern Africa games. One of the things I really like about this scale is you can often find 25mm and 15mm accessories or even buildings that work for it. I saw these Concrete Wall sections and began to wonder if they'd work. I decided they'd make a perfect ruined factory building, or destroyed warehouse complex.
The Concrete Wall sections come in a variety of angles, corners, and straight sections
They make a number of different pieces -- some straight wall sections, some corners  -- including those with either the left or right adjoining wall destroyed. I loaded up my bin with eight of the pieces of different sorts. Acheson terrain is always very affordable, with these pieces running only $2 each. They could be rearranged in a variety of positions to create the effect I want for the scenario.
The posters were simply downloaded images from Google searches and resized in Photoshop
I did my usual Acheson method of painting them -- starting with running them through the dishwasher to get rid of the mold release agent. Then I spray painted them with acrylic black, following that up with a 50/50 mix of black acrylic paint and water. Once dry, it was a simple two stage process to get the color I liked. I began with a thick wet brush of a darker gray. I followed that up with a drybrush of Howard Hues Rebel Gray. While drybrushing, I discovered a very nice lined effect that was modeled onto their surface which made it look even more like concrete that I'd anticipated. Normally, I do a black wash at this stage. However, I liked the color exactly as they were and was afraid the wash would darken it too much.
I really like the subtle "grain" that Acheson Creations molded onto the surface to look like concrete
I flocked them by painting the ground a reddish earth, and then with white glue and dipping them into Woodland Scenics Earth Turf. Next, I painted blotches of the dry turf with white glue and sprinkled on Woodland Scenics blended grass. Finally, I added dark green or light green pieces of clump foliage. Once dry, I dullcoated them with Testors spray.
These pieces can be rearranged to produce a variety of options for scenarios
At this point, I decided that perhaps they looked TOO plain. The thought struck me that some wall posters or graffiti would really spice them up. Previously, I'd done Google Image searches on African Independence propaganda posters and saved a bunch. I opened these up in Photoshop and resized them to an inch tall. I printed them out at the local office supply store in color on white cardstock. Trimming each, I painted the backs with Tacky Glue to apply them to the walls. After they were dry, I had to go back and paint the white edges of the paper with black paint to make them appear to blend into the walls. The graffiti was easy, too, simply painting various slogans on in black paint directly onto the wall surface.
The graffiti was simply painted on with a thin black brush -- any irregularities can be blamed on the spray painting vandal!
I was very happy with how the wall sections came out. I *may* have gone overboard on the posters, but it certainly looks better than a blank concrete wall. They will add to the atmosphere of my African games.