Monday, December 24, 2018

New Gang: Sons of Thor (German Village chapter)

The Sons of Thor (German Village chapter) are the next of my fictional gangs in my urban warfare project
 When I first decided to go ahead with this project, I had my eyes on Foundry's Ancient German line of 28mm miniatures. I had one or two for my Dark Ages project and new that a number of them were simply bare-chested guys with pants. Since both hands were empty for most, there was nothing overly Ancient about them. I had my friends Tim and Don, who were heading to Fall In 2018, pick up some from a vendor who I knew would be in the flea market selling them.
28mm Foundry Ancient Germans were the figures I used for this gang, with scratch-built weapons
I picked out twelve that I liked the best, and then sat down to make weapons for them. I decided to make some sledgehammers, pipes, clubs, and chains for them. For the chains, I decided to do an experiment with a metal handle with a length of chain attached. The handle was just brass wire, and the chain was a leftover one from a broken piece of jewelry. I had done this with one of the Bexley Blockwatch, but left the chain handing straight down. For these, I decided to paint them with the chain arranged as if it were swinging through the air. I liked it MUCH better this way. For the hammers, I took tiny little pieces of MDF leftover (punchouts) from the 28mm buildings I have been making. I drilled them with a pin vise, holding onto and squeezing the MDF firmly so it didn't split while it was drilled out. I epoxied in more brass wire, then wrapped a tiny bit of duct tape around the wire for a thicker and somewhat textured handle. I should probably have shaped the hammer head with an X-acto knife some, but I think they turned out okay, too. The pipes were aluminum tubes from the craft store, and the clubs were pieces of craft sticks trimmed up with an X-acto knife.
I like the chains whipping through the air much better than simply hanging straight down
The figures were done with my usual, brush-on white prime base coat. I then painted a craft paint flesh on them, followed by a ruddy orange wash that I have premixed. It really gives definition in the muscles. The jeans were painted with Denim craft paint color and dry brushed a Howard Hue light blue. Some jeans were done in a darker blue, and a couple in black. I gave them dark brown or black belts with highlights. For their hair, I went with a number of blonde or light hair colors as this was to be a gang from German village -- which used to be where many German immigrants lived in Columbus on the south side many years ago. I chose the Sons of Thor as a gang name, and postulated they are the local chapter of a nationwide, Teutonic gang. Thus, the proliferation of blondes, auburns, light browns, with a few darker mixed in. Each was dry brushed with a highlight color. The shoes were done as sneakers, mostly white but with a few blue and red.
The big auburn-haired dude is the only one with cast-on weapons that I used in this gang
The tattoos came last. I did a Google Image search of Viking+Tattoo and picked out ones I liked with elements I thought I could recreate with a brush. My efforts were so-so -- not stunning, by any means, but not embarrassing, I hope! I chose to do the tattoos in dark blue, dark red, and black to give it some variety. Some turned out better than others, some more clumsy than others. All in all, I am pleased with this gang - my fifth for the project. I think I will paint up two more before I start playtesting my rules. So, stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Miscellaneous Urban Terrain

Dumpsters from Miniature Building Authority (right) and Sea Dog Studies
I tend to pick up the odd piece of terrain at conventions, but then it may languish in my unpainted boxes for awhile. Since I am working on my urban gang warfare project, I figured it was time to pull out some of these pieces and prime them up and paint them.
These dumpsters painted up easily and are a great addition to an urban tabletop
First up are three dumpsters from two different sources. The larger two are from fellow Columbus resident Brian Carnes of Sailpower rules fame. He has been 3-D printing ships for his Age of Sail game for quite awhile, but recently added in other types of terrain. He calls his company Sea Dog Game Studios - check out their booth at area conventions. I had my modern Africa games using Wars of Insurgency rules in mind when I bought these, but they will work equally well in inner city America. The smaller dumpster is from Miniature Building Authority, which I believe I picked up at Historicon this year. This is one of their unpainted resin terrain pieces. It is a slightly different style, but that's a good thing! Both of these painted up incredibly quickly. I sprayed them with Krylon Fusion acrylic black primer first. Then, after dry, I brushed on a 50/50 mixture of acrylic black paint onto them to seep into all the detail and make dry brushing more effective. Next, I dry brushed a kelly green craft paint over them, mainly because a lot of the dumpsters I tend to see in Columbus are green. I then highlighted the raised areas in a lighter shade. The lid was dry brushed a medium gray, though that detail tended to disappear after I clear coated them....hmmm. All in all, great urban scatter for the tabletop at a bare minimum of prep time!
Hmm...I don't look like these four Miniature Building Authority police barricades will hold these dudes back!
Next up are four police barricades from Miniature Building Authority. I believe these were also purchased this year at Historicon. MBA has so many great terrain pieces besides the buildings they are famous for that it his hard to resist picking up a few items every time I see them at conventions. The fact that they are such nice guys and loyal supporters of our historical miniatures hobby, makes me even more willing to part with cash when I see them. These were also black primed, then gone over with a 50/50 mixture of black paint and water. Next, I heavily dry brushed Iron Wind Metals "Steel" (one of my all-time favorite paints) over it. I followed that up with a silver dry brush and voila! Three colors and done! More terrain for my urban battlefields.
A pleasant day in the park, and a comfy place to sit - Sea Dog Studios 3-D printed park benches
Finally, two 3-D printed park benches from Sea Dog Game Studios. They seem a bit small for the more heroic scale 28mm figures, but I still liked them so picked them up. I heartily recommend perusing Brian Carnes' booth if you see him at a convention. There is just so much he makes that you wouldn't think about but will look cool on the tabletop. I have a vandalized Coca-Cola machine that is primed and waiting for its turn sitting on my desk right now! These were easy to paint, as well. I did the same spray prime/50-50 mixture as above. I then dry brushed the wood slats Howard Hues Camo Brown, followed by its Colonial Khaki. I painted the wrought iron sections Iron Wind Metals Steel, and honestly, that was it. I plan on doing a park as part of my urban landscape and these benches will go nicely on it.

What's next? Well, I am just about done with my next urban gang - the Sons of Thor, German Village chapter. Look for a post on them soon. Keep checking my blog as I have a two week break from teaching coming up soon, so I am bound to get more done!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner

Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner is a Sarissa Precision 28mm MDF building - here being defended by the Linden Daos
 After purchasing the Sarissa "City Block" 28mm MDF buildings from Wargame Tools LLC, and being incredibly pleased with them, I ordered some more buildings awhile back. Two were for shops or businesses for my city, and the third was a factory. I had already painted up the smaller of the shops before, and so started in on the second one a week or so ago. I was actually quite shocked how much larger this second turned out to be! It measures 10.5"x9.25" length by width, and is 3.5" tall. Thankfully, it will fit in the boxes my terrain gets stored and transported in!
The sign, awning, interior floors, and graffiti are all printed paper glued onto the MDF surface
 I decided to make it into a diner, so actually Googled famous diners in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. It was hard to pass up a name like "Jack and Benny's Old Time Diner," so I picked that one! For some reason, this shop went together easier than the first, smaller shop. Maybe I am just getting better at assembling and gluing these together. I use Tacky Glue and use rubber bands to hold pieces together while the glue is drying. This building has a combined wood and brick exterior, along with a long awning running along the front of the building. The awning was definitely the trickiest part to assemble, but it went together well.
Hated rivals of the Daos, the Bexley Blockwatch checks out the premises, including the roof flocked with gray ballast
After my less than impressive paint job on the smaller shop's awning, I decided to print out a striped pattern and simply glue it on. First, though, the assembled building and separate roof/awning piece was primed with Krylon Fusion black spray. I then painted the wood exterior in sky blue, following that up with a white dry brush. Next, I painted the bricks red brown, dry brushing them Howard Hues Middle East flesh. Next, I picked out the trim and doors in a medium blue, dry brushing it a light blue. I finished off the exterior walls with a light black wash.
The interior of the building is divided into three areas, which I envision as the diner seating area, kitchen & office
The interior walls were done in a craft paint "Quaker Gray." I painted the doors the same blue but left out the dry brushing because I figured the interior would not be weathered like the outside. Then it came time for the floors. I had decided on a black and white checkered floor -- that seemed suitably Diner-ish! I downloaded a Google image of a black and white checkered pattern, resized it in Photoshop, and then exported it into a PDF file for printing at the local print shop. I actually created my own blue and white stripe pattern for the awning and similarly printed it off at the Staples office supply. Likewise, I created my own sign for Jack & Benny's, to be pasted onto the front of the building.
I really like the floors of the diner - the black checkered pattern really makes it stand out
The awning is part of the roof, which I did similar to previous roofs on Sarissa buildings. I like the way the gravel flocking gives the buildings a three dimensional character. One issue I sometimes have with MDF buildings is they can look two dimensional without proper texturing or modifying.
The Grandview Gurkhas have tagged their own wall of the diner, which is sure to provoke a rumble with the Daos
I had gone back and forth while doing these Sarissa Precision buildings on whether to "urbanize" them. Since I will be using these for my urban gangs project, I finally decided to give it a try. I decided to print off graffiti for the walls, too, rather than try freehand painting it on. I did a Google image search of graffiti and found lots of cool images. I picked out two for the long side walls. Then I found a website that lets you type in your own graffiti lettering and save the file. I created a "tag" for both the Linden Daos and the Grandview Gurkhas. In Photoshop, I pasted them onto a "transparent" background, then pasted that image onto the colorful graffiti I had downloaded. The graffiti was rectangular, so in Photoshop, drew an irregular black outline following the images of the graffiti to be the border. I cut these out, painted white glue onto the back of them, and stuck them onto the walls.
The printed graffiti is a nice touch, I think, but could be supplemented by more plain graffiti on future buildings
I like how the graffiti adds a splash of color to the wall. I think I made the graffiti too large, though, and will double-check my measurements next time. All in all, I am very happy with how Jack & Benny's Old Time Diner turned out. Doubtless, it will be the scene of many turf wars once my Urban Gang Warfare project is underway!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

New Gang: Bexley Blockwatch

The Bexley Blockwatch - a fictional gang of suburban men fed up with gangs preying upon their middle class streets
One of the cool parts about getting into gaming modern urban gang warfare is that I could scrounge through my collection and use all those cool 25mm-28mm figures I picked up over the years but had no real use for. Rooting through my trays of unpainted lead, I found I had a lot of 20th century types that looked nothing like what you would consider gang members. So, I came up with the idea of a neighborhood of ordinary, middle-aged folks who were fed up with the crime on their streets and decided to do something about it. Thus was born the Bexley Blockwatch!
The figures come from a variety of periods/sources - including the posh gentleman in the center armed with a golf club!
Bexley is a relatively high to middle income suburb surrounded by a sea of low income neighborhoods in Columbus. So in my fictional gang warfare Columbus, the residents react to an inner city gang moving in on their middle class streets and preying upon their families. All the hotheads and ex-rugby and football players meet to hash out a plan. The next time the gang wanders through the neighborhood, they are surrounded by a growing mob of angry, middle class men. Before long, the men wade in with walking sticks, pool cues, golf clubs -- whatever they had handy, and beat the snot out of the gang. A few weeks of quick reactions to gang members coming in trying to get payback, and the Bexley Blockwatch has control of its neighborhood. The more hot-headed among them decide it was fun busting some heads again, and agree to export their protection services to other neighborhoods in exchange for compensation (of course).
The leaders of the Bexley Blockwatch - from left, The Captain, Cueball, and Wilberforce
The miniatures are from a wide variety of manufacturers, of course. There are few that I actually know where they came from, so I'll mention them in the closeups. For example, the imposing green-suited guy in the center above is a Reaper Henchman -- I think supposed to be Odd Job, the hat-throwing villain from James Bond movies. I don't know where I got The Captain, who dresses in his old ship captain's uniform, or Wilberforce, who looks like a wealthy gentleman out for a stroll with his walking stick. Since the figures come from a number of manufacturers, they are of different sizes. These three are the tallest, so I decided to make them my leaders.
Many of the figures required modification, such as taking the guns out of the hands of the two on the right
A lot of the figures I culled from the unpainted bins for this gang were armed with pistols, including the two on the right. I did my best to trim away excess metals so that it isn't noticeable, but I never claimed to be the best modeler when it comes to that skill! I really like the guy in the center, and think his color combination came out great. He stands ready to wade in with his fists should any young gang punk show his face. The guy on the right has brought a fire axe to the fight, and looks ready to use it! And finally, the civilian on the left is modeled on my friend (and Bexley resident) Allen. I added the bushy gray beard and hair (and the pool cue as a hastily-snatched weapon). Allen does wear glasses, and was an architect at one point in his career. So, the briefcase has his last name on it in tiny letters!
Three more upper crust, middle-aged men keep watch on their streets, ready to deal out a thumping to any miscreants
The figure in the center is one of my favorite. I chose a number of these figures for this gang because they had no obvious weapons other than walking sticks. This guy leans on a golf club driver. What with his baggy golf pants and suit jacket and tie, he personifies Bexley's reputation in Columbus as a wealthy suburb. His jaunty pose and arrogant stare really make the pose come to life! The one on the right, I believe, is a 25mm Ral Partha model because it is noticeably shorter than most of the others in the gang. Speaking as someone who has been noticeably shorter than most other males throughout his life, I can vouch for the realism of including bigger and smaller figures in a unit. He is obviously meant to be a private detective model, and it is hard not to like the flinty stare as he sucks on his cigar. He's unarmed...unless that left hand is reaching for something in his pocket? The left-hand figure was armed with a pistol, as well, and looks like an Indiana Jones type miniature. I kept in the overall brown scheme of Indiana Jones, but added in a more colorful straw yellow vest and red tie. I also added in a brass rod painted to resemble a pool cue.
The final three members of the gang epitomize the variety of sources I gleaned the miniatures from
So, these last three somewhat epitomize the variety of sources I pulled figures from for this gang. The one in the middle is an Old Glory figure from its newspaper reporters pack (from the Spanish-American War, I believe). Thus his campaigning boots, shoulder bag, and cowboy-esque hat. I think he was supposed to be holding a microphone in his left hand, but I switched it to cigar. His rough and ready look shows he would be one of the first residents to volunteer to smash some heads to protect the neighborhood. The one on the left looks like a genteel Victorian gentleman, but his glare shows that he's quite ready to use that cane to thrash any insolent punk that shows his face. I really like his hairstyle, too, the mutton chops giving the look of someone immersed in his bygone age or respect and proper treatment for society's "betters"! Finally, the slighter figure in the suit jacket and tie on the right originally held some sort of electronic device (flashlight, maybe?). I changed this to a steel rod with a nice length of chain attached. I plan on arming a number of gang members in this project with chains, as I have a nice length of it I scavenged from some broken piece of jewelry.

I'm really enjoying painting figures for this project! Already primed on my desk is the next gang from the south side of Columbus, German Village. Stay tuned to see what their theme is...!