‘S’ is for…

Whilst thinking about this post, I noticed that everything I was planning on including either began with, or had some connection to, the letter ‘S’. And that gave me my Sesame Street inspired post title. Let us begin…

S is for…’Sai’

In a reply to one of Andy’s wonderful Bushido posts over at Da Gobbo’s Grotto, I stated that all my Oriental figures appeared to be male, with only the monstrous denizens of Japanese myth and legend being of the female persuasion – namely my Onryo, Kitsune, Oni and Jorogumo. To rectify this imbalance, I scoured my collection to see if I had any suitable figures, and came across this:

Image result for elektra heroclix

This was the first sculpt of Elektra from the Heroclix Infinity Challenge set. As she is armed with her signature weapon, namely a pair of Sai, I thought she would make a suitable addition to my Oriental fantasy project and even out the male/female ratio.

However, I felt that she was maybe a little under-dressed and a simple repaint would just make her look like a different coloured Elektra, so I decided to repaint her with a bit more clothing.

As I’d already decided that Clan Chouda’s colours were light green and black, and Clan Karasu’s were blue and yellow, to make her stand out as a mercenary who would fight for either faction, I decided to paint her green and gold, as you can see below:

It wasn’t until I’d finished painting her main colours that I realised that I’d used the same colours as Iron Fist’s classic costume. Go figure. She’s not quite finished, but I’m quite pleased with how I’ve managed to make her outfit a bit more concealing, although her skin colour is a little dark – so I might be repainting it.

S if for…’Samurai’

I’d previously given my rebased Heroclix Samuroid (from the Heroclix Flash subset) an undercoat of GW Goblin Green, as the intention was to turn him into an animated jade statue, under the control of whichever Onmyoji activated him.

He was then given a wash of GW Salamander Green, followed by being dry-brushed with GW Ghoul Grey, followed by GW Rotting Flesh, both of which are effectively different shades of green. I then pained his base Goblin Green, and washed this with a 50/50 mix of black and Salamander Green, then dotted in his eyes with GW Sunburst Yellow. And here he is;

Unlike Simon’s Weeping Angels, you will see this statue move, but he’ll be sending you to see your ancestors, rather than back in time…

S is for…’Sakura’

Whilst I’d already decided on the main colour scheme for my ‘Heroclix Ironclad-to-Rikishi’ conversion, i.e. flesh, I was undecided as to what colour I should paint his traditional kesho-mawashi (decorative apron). I was considering doing a variation of the ‘Rising Sun’ motif, but felt that this was a little too modern.

Looking at my paints, I thought that a good counterpoint to the sheer physical might of a Rikishi would be to use…pink, specifically GW Tentacle Pink, which is the same colour as candy floss. And, coincidently, cherry blossom! A base coat of Docrafts Chocolate Brown, followed by GW Brown Ink gave a lovely dark brown apron, which I then dotted with GW Tentacle Pink, to represent cherry blossom.

And Japanese for ‘cherry blossom’ is Sakura…so thus was born Sakura, the professional rikishi. Although he does also look a little Samoan too…

Finally, S is for…’Starships’

Due to Simon’s WIP on his Irregular Miniatures 6mm Star Trek proxies, I’ve been bitten by the Star Trek bug, as shown in my last post, wherein I constructed my own interpretation of a Federation starship.

Having scoured the web, I have found (so far) three companies that sell either ‘official’ Star Trek starship miniatures or proxies.

The official models can be found on the Amarillo Design Bureau website, of which there are two ranges, Starline 2400 and Starline 2500. The former is the larger range, and covers most of the races mentioned in the Original Series, so if you’re looking for Ferengi Marauders, Klingon Birds of Prey or Romulan Warbirds, you’re out of luck. The Andromedan range of fancy saucers remind me of the spaceship that appears on the covers of E.L.O. albums…

Andromedan Dominator

There is no copyright text…you did not see it…besides, this isn’t strictly a website…

Obviously, we also have Irregular Miniatures, as mentioned before, where you will find a range of pretty nice proxy Federation starships under their 6mm ranges.

Finally, we have Ground Zero Games, who have an extensive range of starships for their own Full Thrust game (which is freely downloadable from their website). The range of starships for the Out Rim Coalition are those that look most like Federation starships.

However, if you happen to have some sprues of Warhammer 40,000 weaponry, some GI Joe 3 3/4″ weaponry and a box of buttons, you can make your own…

As I’ve built a couple more starships since last week, both of which are larger than the first, I’ve had to downgrade my first ship. I’ve also decided on some background fluff for my ships, as whilst they are inspired by Star Trek, they aren’t in the same universe…

The planet of New Albion was colonised by Great Britain and is ruled by a hereditary monarchy, the current incumbent being Victoria the Third. As such, all starships in the New Albion Royal Navy receive the designation ‘HMS’, signifying ‘Her Majesty’s Starship’. Currently, the NARN fields Corvettes, Frigates, Cruisers and Dreadnoughts.

This is the HMS Webb, a Bulldog class Frigate.

This is the HMS Moore, a Lion class Cruiser.

And this is the HMS Scott, a Dragon class Dreadnought.

And here are a couple of pictures showing all three ships, to give an idea of relative size.

I still need to construct the smallest starship, which will be a Unicorn class Corvette, the HMS Nash, but the fleet is coming along.

All three ships were initially undercoated in Docrafts Light Grey, then given two coats of watered down Rust-Oleum Gloss White. This is quite a thick paint, so watering down means that you don’t get brush marks and the light grey shows through, meaning you don’t have to give it a wash afterwards. I then picked out various bits and bobs with my own Orange mix. They are pretty much done, although I think some decals would make them ‘pop’ a bit more.

I do have another ship currently under construction – a Tarot class Frigate – from the notorious Dendrassi race, known for their lush green home-world and their piratical ways…

That’s all for this week. Next week I will be continuing in a similar vein, so there will be more Oriental fantasy figures, possibly more starships, maybe a visit to the Super Chibification workshop…

Unless I get distracted by something else, of course – like my proposed game of heavily armed and armoured narrow boat combat “Pirates of the River Thames”…

A Good Solid Base

I tend to base all my figures on circular bases, which can range from the standard 25mm ‘slottabase’ which is mainly used for metal figures, to the humble 2 pence piece, which happens to be approximately 25mm in diameter, gives heft to re-based Heroclix figures and is cheaper that a similar sized metal washer.

However, there is further medium that I have used, as its properties do lend it to basing specific types of figures – rubber tap washers:

The above pack of three set me back the grand total of 75p. Whilst the packaging does state that the washers are 3/4″, they are actually 25mm in diameter and 5mm thick. This means that they are the same diameter and height as a standard 25mm ‘slottabase’, but have a lot more heft due to the material they are made from.

So far, so good, but why use them when both 2 pence pieces and plastic slottabases are more economical to buy? Well, because they are made from rubber, it is quite easy to make holes in them without having to find the smallest drill bit in your toolbox – a simple bradawl will suffice. So, should you have one of the earlier Heroclix flying sculpts, where a small peg was molded onto their foot and then attached to those awful flying stands, all you need do is make a hole in your washer, then simple insert your figure into the base. Your lightweight plastic figure now has a substantial base attached, without having to resort to molding putty around the peg and hoping it won’t pull free.

But, more importantly for me, should you happen to be sculpting a trio of Chibi adventurers who currently have about 15mm of wire extending from the soles of their feet, once the sculpting has reached the point where you are considering basing them, you can remove them from their corks, force the wire into the rubber washers and then snip off any wire that extends below the bottom. You now have three figures on hefty rubber bases, which is necessary for Chibi figures, as their heads are so freakin’ large…

But before you can actually do that, you need to prepare the washers, as otherwise any figure you are attempting to rebase will look like they’re standing on a tyre.

Obviously, you can cover the top of the washer with the basing medium of your choice, but this may get damaged when making the hole (or holes) to insert your figure. So, ideally you need a material that is thick enough to cover the top of the washer and the central hole, but thin enough that it can be pierced without deforming. And if that material also happens to be textured in some fashion, then you’ve saved yourself a bit of work later. Something like this:

So, what we have here is a piece of coarse sandpaper and a sample of textured wallpaper, both of which I am going to use.

I’m using coarse sandpaper, but any grade will do, depending upon how ‘rough’ you want your base to be. I’ve previously used this to make an asphalt base, as once you have your first base coat on, the sandpaper loses its ability to ‘sand’, but still retains its texture. A single base coat and a darker wash and you’re pretty much done.

The textured wallpaper has a kind of canvass-y look to it, so I’m intending on using this as bamboo matting.

First order of the day is to glue the washers to your topping. The best glue for this, due to the materials involved, is PVA, although it does take a while to set. Once the glue is set, cut as close to the end of the washer as you can, so you get your circular base ‘topper’. There will probably be a slight overhand, but this can be tidied up with a file – however, remember to draw the file down, otherwise you risk pulling your topping off. They will end up looking like this;

And to give a better view of the textured tops:

Other than adding the figures and painting, these are ready to go.


Now, for something a little different. In a couple of his recent posts on his blog Fantorical, Simon aka Blaxkleric has been showing some ‘work in progresses’ for some Irregular Miniatures 6mm ‘Imperial Fleet’ miniatures, which are heavily influenced by the Federation starships of Star Trek. I always liked the design of the Federation starships, so had a quick browse through their range and noted that the prices were pretty reasonable. However, as the Gaming Fund is currently a bit low, purchase of starships would have to wait. Besides, I didn’t have any rules to play starship combat with anyway…

But, like a strawberry pip caught between my teeth, it wouldn’t go away. So, hastily scribbled notes were made, crossed out and rewritten. Then my bits box was raided, along with a few more esoteric places, things were glued to other things and the end results were;

1 – A very rough first draft of a hex-based starship combat game in the vein of Star Trek (i.e. big Capital ships, rather than one-man fighters, shifting of power between shields, engines and weapons systems and lots of screaming of “The engines cannae’ take it, Captain!” in a Scottish accent), and;

2 – This:

Using a GW plastic heavy Lascannon, a GW plastic shield, part of a plastic coffee stirrer and a massive button, I now have the first of my fleet, a Scorpion Class Cruiser. And it cost me nothing.

Once I have constructed another ‘enemy’ ship, out will come my black HeroScape hexes (“Asphalt? Asphalt?  I think you’ll find that’s actually Deep Space, my good man…”) and the first play-test of the rules that will be called…Final Frontier.

That’s all for this week. I’ve set myself a deadline of the end of September to complete all my Oriental Fantasy stuff, the Way of the Crow rules and my Chibi figures, but there’s also a high possibility that a couple of starships may show up, and possibly a batrep/play-test of Final Frontier. We shall see…

Oriental (Mis-) Adventures

For those of you who regularly follow my blog, you will no doubt have noticed that last week did not provide any new content. This was because the Sunday after my last posting until the following Tuesday, I was in Cardiff and the remainder of the week was spent ‘making up’ the time at work, due to some draconic rules they have about taking holiday during the first few weeks of employment – the joys of being a contractor…

Anyway, having not had any hobby-time, I made sure that I spent some time with brushes and paint this week, although things did not go quite to plan, as you may have gathered from the title of this post…

We are still staying in the Land of the Rising Sun for the foreseeable future, so my first offering is an addition to a figure I began during my last bout…

I’d previously decided to rebase and repaint Lady Deathstrike from the  ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ Heroclix sub-set as a Kitsune and realised that whilst this represented this creature from Japanese legend in human form, I did need a miniature to represent its fox form. Whilst at Warfare last November, I managed to pick up a two-pack of foxes from Rapier Miniatures, for the very reasonable price of £1.00, which can be found under their Familiars range for this exact purpose. However, it languished in its plastic baggie for months…until now.

Having been based on a two pence piece, I built up the base with Milliput and gave it an undercoat of White. Then using the same Orange I’d used on the human form’s hair, I began to add a little colour to the miniature. But that’s as far as I’ve got with this one so far, as you can see below:


The human form of the Kitsune also needs finishing off, but once they are both finished, I’ll be able to field this character in either form.

Next up we have my Ironclad to Sumo conversion and the first Samurai from Clan Karasu, the latter of which has caused me some issues. I had already painted up one of the Izumi Samurai and two of each of the Ashigaru with Yari and Ashigaru with Harquebus (their spelling, not mine) from the HeroScape game as members of Clan Chouda (dishonourable  dogs that they are) for a friend, and as his chosen Clan colours were green and black, I needed to choose different colours for Clan Karasu. (NB: If you want to see the current state of Clan Chouda, who are almost finished, see this post).

As Master Crow is attached to Clan Karasu, I had decided that the colours should reflect the colouring of the Muppet who inspired him, so yellow and blue. However, I chose the wrong yellow and blue the first time and it looked rubbish, so out came the nail polish remover and cotton pads and buds, as I attempted to remove the ‘wrong’ colours. This resulted in less painting being done than I had planned for the week.

Anyway, below you will find the Izumi Samurai I had chosen to represent a Samurai from Clan Karasu, who currently only has the yellow parts of his outfit completed (the yellow being GW Orc Brown, which is actually a dark yellow).

Next to him, is my Sumo wrestler conversion, or to use the correct term, Rikishi. So far, all he’s had done is his flesh in Docrafts Linen, hair in GW Marine Dark Blue and ‘skirt’ in Docrafts White. As this is a relatively uncomplicated sculpt, this one shouldn’t take too long to finish off, although I’m currently undecided as to what pattern the Rikishi should have on his ‘skirt’.

Next up, we’re getting a little…mystical. Whilst buying the foxes noted above, I also bought what Moonraker Miniatures called a ‘Shugenja’, as they had fallen into the same trap that most role-playing and miniature companies have done, by following on from someone’s incorrect first designation.

A Shugenja is a practitioner of Shugendo, which is a religion that originated in Heian Japan and centred on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling existence. The Yamabushi practiced this particular religion, so a Shugenja should be a warrior monk or, to put it in D&D terms, a cleric. For some reason, all companies dealing with Oriental Fantasy have decided to use the term Shugenja to denote an Oriental wizard – which is wrong and very, very annoying. The closest thing from Japanese myth and legend to what the West would consider a ‘wizard’, is an Onmyoji – practitioners of Onmyodo, which is a mixture of natural science and occultism. For more details on this, and Abe no Seimei, the most famous Onmyoji, read this Wikipedia article.

Rant over.

So, I have chosen to use this figure as an Onmyoji and as the outfit he is wearing is very similar to that worn by Miko (Shrine Maidens), I’ve decided to mimic the colours, so given him red trousers.

Next to him is the Heroclix Samuroid, who I’ve decided to paint up as an animated jade statue of a Samurai. So far, all I’ve done with this one is given it a base coat of GW Goblin Green, but additional washes and sponging should make him look like he’s made of jade.

Finally, we have my Master Crow conversion, which started out as a Heroscape Izumi Samurai, before I decapitated it and gave it the head of a Kroot.

As this figure has wide, sweeping sleeves, I decided to paint these the same colour as his hands and face, to suggest these were wings, using GW Elf Blue, his leggings/legs with GW Sunburst Yellow and his main robe with GW Marine Dark Blue.

Yes, my paints are that old that the colours I’m mentioning no longer exist in the GW catalogue…

His sash will also be Sunburst Yellow, and I have a feeling that the robe will end up with some kind of pattern (possibly tiny little crow’s feet) in gold.

So, not a huge amount of progress to show, but at least I’m back in the game…

Next time, I believe we may be returning to the Super Chibification Workshop, as I show you a use for rubber tap washers that probably hadn’t occurred to you…

Full of Eastern Promise…

For those of a certain generation, the post title will evoke memories of rose-flavoured purple jelly coated in milk chocolate, but I’ve chosen it to describe the contents of this post.

We continue with the Oriental Fantasy theme and I thought it high time that I actually got some figures onto the painting table. However, as three of the figures I was intending on painting had not been completely based, out came the Milliput…

The first two figures are both from the Wizkids’ Heroclix range, namely Scarab from the Indy Heroclix subset and Samuroid from The Flash subset. Having detached the pair from their ‘clix bases, I glued Samuroid to a 2 pence piece, but found that Scarab wide-legged stance precluded me from doing the same with her. However, having used some HeroScape figures for other purposes, I did have a spare Heroclix base, which was the right size. I then smoothed some Milliput onto each base and then stippled it with the end of blunt toothpick.

Currently, the intention is to repaint Scarab as a Ninja or Kunoichi (although traditionally the kunoichi were spies disguised as courtesans, amongst other things) and the Samuroid will either be a Daimyo, as he is rather impressively large, or possibly a demonic Samurai. I’m not sure yet.

Next up, we have another Heroclix figure – Ironclad from the Web of Spider-Man subset. This particular character is one of the quartet of villains known as the U-Foes, who gained their powers in a similar fashion to the Fantastic Four. However, I’d bought this particular figure for one reason only – to turn him into a sumo wrestler! The figure was already suitably muscled and sported a ‘skirt’ around his nether regions, which I have seen sumo wrestlers wearing, but his hair was wrong. However, a Milliput topknot and even without paint, he’s starting to look a bit more sumo…


As anyone who works with any kind of two-part sculpting putty will know, when you’re mixing it up, you either end up with too little for the job in hand, or too much. In this instance, I mixed too much, so rather than waste it I got of my Chibi armatures and used the remaining putty up on them.

First up, ‘Pulp Avenger Hil’. Not a great deal has been done to this figure since last time, the only real addition being her right foot, which was bare metal last time. I’ve also decided to take the WIP picture from behind, so you can see the definition of her calves, feet and…er…bum.

Nest, ‘Clockwork Mage Stevie’. As I need to complete the lower parts of this figure first, before I can sculpt his coat, I needed to make the feet/shoes bigger, as they were far too small. As you can see they are now more ‘shoe-like’.  I also bulked out the head a little more, but it would appear I didn’t smooth out the finger-prints, so it now looks like he has a thumb for a head…

Finally, ‘Shrine Guardian Tarot’. I must have really hit my sculpting groove when I got to this figure, as not only did I manage to sculpt pretty good tabi (Japanese split-toed socks), I’ve managed to make a start on the tunic. Whilst my original intention was to follow the traditional Miko outfit, I think I may have been subconsciously influenced by this image of Sailor Mars…

But with a bit more cleavage on show, as you can see below…

Either way, I’m feeling pretty positive that all three figures will end up looking like I envisioned them.

As next week sees quite a heavy workload, I may not get any new hobby stuff done, so we may have another tale, or possibly some resurrected articles from my old blog. Who knows…😉

“Who Ya Gonna Call?”

The answer, of course, is…

GHOSTBUSTERS!

Given my previous postings on my ongoing Ghostbusters Project, which started back on 4th December 2015 and ran until 27th February 2016, you may be forgiven for thinking that I’d decided to drop all things Oriental and return to it. However, this is not the case.

On 15th July 2016, the ‘reboot’ of the Ghostbusters franchise was released upon the viewing public of the UK. Even though I don’t often venture to the cinema, as I find the prices extortionate, I had vowed that I would see this film. And last Friday, I did.

Whilst I had been aware of the controversy surrounding the ‘reboot’, from the casting of an all-female crew of Ghostbusters to the choice of director, AND I could honestly say that the original 1984 film is my favourite film of all time, having given it some considered thought, I put myself in the box marked “cautiously optimistic”.

As the release date got nearer, the trailers and images seemed to support the fact that the makers were striving to ensure that the fans of the original were going to be well-served by the new movie. Even the new logo was just a slight tweaking of the original:

As people who followed my posts during the Ghostbusters Project on here will know, I have very strong views on what does and doesn’t constitute “Ghostbusters”. Just because something has the official logo on it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it IS Ghostbusters. And the reverse can also be true, as I discussed in my “Beyond Ghostbusters” series of posts, which suggested addition non-canon entries into what I dubbed the “Expanded Ghostbusters Universe”, the first of which can be read here.

So, being an opinionated and self-confessed ‘expert’, IS the new movie ‘Ghostbusters’?

To sum it up in a nutshell, Yes.

 

 

It’s not perfect – the plot will seem very familiar to those who’ve seen either of the first two movies and it does represent a ‘reboot’, rather than a continuation of the film series. However, having said that, it manages to match the original’s balance between the supernatural elements and the comedy without swinging too far either way.  And it IS funny – I wasn’t the only one in the cinema laughing out loud,

There are several new additions to the Ghostbusting arsenal, all provided by McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, and the way these are introduced and tested will remind many role-players of trips to R&D in Paranoia.

The ‘ghosts’ are wonderfully realised and come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including a couple of very familiar faces), and whilst comical looking for the most part, there are a couple of pretty creepy moments. The ‘big bad’ is particularly well-done, being both cartoonish and nightmarish at the same time.

So, it may not be the ‘Ghostbusters III’ that die-hard fans were clamouring for (which was actually covered off by 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game, featuring a script partially written by Ackroyd and Ramis and the vocal talents of all the original cast), but is does represent the ‘Ghostbusters’ for a new generation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original. As soon as it’s released on DVD, it will be joining Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Freddy vs Ghostbusters and the Return of the Ghostbusters on my shelf – more details regarding these rather good fan-films can be found by clicking the links.

“Cunningly Fashioned from Pure Green!”

As regular followers of both my blog and Roger’s Rantings from Under the Wargames Table blog will be aware, Roger very kindly crafted a Chibi ‘Master Crow’ for me as a surprise thank you gift;

CC chibi (8)

Details on how he made this wonderful figure can be found here. However, Roger also kindly sent me a small amount of Green Stuff, as he knows that I’m too cheap to buy my own (and also as a dig for not buying tea for him and Simon at Salute, as promised.)

The reason I mention this is that we are returning to the Super Chibification Workshop and my initial experiments with Green Stuff. Do not expect the level of expertise and craftsmanship evidenced by Roger, as I’ve never used this medium before and found it a somewhat challenging experience. And that was after Roger had provided me with some detailed tips.

However, after two sessions using it (and a variety of colourful profanities whilst doing so), I believe I may have now got its measure…

Anyway, when we last saw the armature that is hopefully going to be transformed into “Clockwork Mage Stevie”, it looked like this;

wp-image-1786968762jpg.jpeg

Realising that the arms were a little on the chunky side, I filed these down and then moved on to the forearms. As these are going to be big-ass steampunk gauntlets, I thought I’d lay down the initial shape of them, to give me some idea as to what they’ll end up looking like. Whilst I had the Milliput out, I also added a bit more bulk to the figure’s head.

The next session involved purely Green Stuff, and I’d decided that the best thing to do was use it to smooth out the figure’s thighs, as it gives a much smoother finish. As the figure had no feet as yet and this particular character would be wearing trousers, I needed to make a start on the feet before sculpting the lower legs. And this is where we’ve got to now:

Next we have “Shrine Guardian Tarot”, who looked like this last time;

wp-image-1335157121jpg.jpeg

As mentioned in my previous post, I wasn’t entirely happy with the proportions of certain…*ahem*… “aspects” of this figure, so out came the needle files to tidy up and reshape the anatomy. As with the previous figure, I then moved onto the forearms.

This figure proved particularly troublesome in respect of the left forearm. I tried on three separate occasions to sculpt this, first with Milliput, then Green Stuff, but for some reason it just wasn’t playing ball. I finally managed to get complete it on the fourth attempt. The right forearm was a doddle in comparison.

I then moved onto the figure’s thighs, using the putty to smooth out the previously rough Milliput, with variable results. As this figure will be having flappy Japanese trousers, as with the previous figure, I needed to sculpt the feet first. As the intention was that this figure should be wearing sandals, I started with the soles first, with the intention of adding the feet after these had cured.

The remaining Green Stuff was used to bulk out the figure’s head a bit more and this is where I ended up with this one;

For some reason, when looking at the picture above, I’m reminded of Bruce Lee…but with breasts…

Moving swiftly on…

Our final figure is “Pulp Avenger Hil”, and this is where we left her last time;

wp-image-285115933jpg.jpeg

As with Tarot’s figure, this one also needed some cosmetic surgery, in order to reshape the anatomy. I then decided to add the left foot, as this character will be wearing knee-high boots. The Green Stuff came out for the next session, and the forearms were added, the top part of the figure’s trousers and the remaining putty used to bulk out the head a bit more. And this is where we are with this one;

I know it doesn’t appear that I’ve done very much, but a large proportion of the time was familiarising myself with the properties of Green Stuff…in other words, moaning about it sticking to stuff I didn’t want it to and not sticking to things I did want it to stick to, getting it jammed under my finger-nails and refusing to come out, and leaving green smears across my cutting mat. More practice is definitely needed until I’ll consider myself proficient, so I’ll probably finish the figures off with Milliput, as I’m more familiar with its properties.

Next week it could be more sculpting, more Way of the Crow rules or maybe some painting. Depends on what type of time I have available.

Eye of the Beholder

Over the past few weeks, my posts have been coming thick and fast, due to the fact that I was between contracts, which meant I had quite a bit of spare time. However, last Monday I started a new contract, which whilst closer to home, is regular office hours.

This has resulted in the bare minimum of ‘hobby time’ this week, none of which is fit to be shown. This presented me with a slight quandary, as I felt I should post something, but didn’t have any concrete ideas about what I should be posting. Should I resurrect one of my old posts from my previous blog, dust it off, tart it up and post it as revised content? Whilst this is something I do intend on doing, I haven’t really had any time this week, so I’m going to do what I did the last time this happened.

That’s right, it’s story-time…

Long-term followers of my blog will know that the last time this happened was at the end of February, when they had the dubious honour of reading the first short story I ever wrote that I considered was fit for public consumption. This particular piece of humourous fantasy, heavily influenced by the late, great Terry Pratchett is entitled “A Bad Day for Murakh T’arr” – which you can read by following the link.

The short story I’m using as a filler piece for this post was originally written for the ‘Pulp Idol’ writing competition, that the sci-fi magazine SFX ran on an annual basis. The story had to fit within the genres covered by the magazine and had to be 2,000 words or less. This was quite a challenge, as when I write, the story takes as many words as it needs and whilst 2,000 words sounds quite a lot, it isn’t.

So I beavered away at it, trimming extraneous words where I could and when I was finally happy, submitted it.

Then I forgot about it.

A couple of month’s later, the issue containing the final ten runners-up and the winner was published. I knew I hadn’t won or fallen within the top ten, as they would have contacted me. However, the magazine did publish a list of the names of those who had submitted stories that had made it through to the final 50.

And there was my name.

Out of the 5,000 odd people who had entered, I had made it through to the final fifty. I may not have won, or come within the final ten, but they did think my story was better than 4,950 other stories that had been submitted. As far as I was concerned, that was a win. So, here it is. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

Eye of the Beholder

By

Jeremy Winstanley

Carla was impressed. The way the artist had captured the hesitancy of the creature, as it cautiously stepped from beneath the overhanging trees, dappled sunlight patterning its flanks, was breathtaking. The detail was amazing too. She could see each individual hair on the creature’s coat, the small soft wrinkles along the lips, the soft delicate eyelashes surrounding the deep brown eyes.

Behind the creature, in the depths of the wood, shafts of sunlight from the canopy above struck motes of dust, or possibly small insects, giving the whole picture a sense of realism that was usually lacking from this type of art. It was almost as if the artist had stepped into another world, armed with a digital camera, and taken photos of the wildlife.

But that was impossible, as the creature depicted in the picture was a unicorn and they do not exist. Yet, the picture almost made you believe that they did and that they should…

The rest of the pictures in the gallery were similar, each showing a creature of myth or legend, depicted in such a way that it was like walking through a room of windows, with each picture showing a different view of a world not our own. Here a faun perched on a tree stump, his face ruddy with drink, proposing a toast with an overflowing tankard to a group of shadowy figures gathered round a campfire. There a scaled wyvern curled protectively and alertly around a clutch of eggs, their shells the colour of a summer sky…

The exhibition was called ‘From Life?’ and, according to the pamphlet she had been given by a girl wearing too much make-up on the door, ‘showcased the amazing skills of an artist who has mastered the nuances and subtleties of the medium of digital art.’ As she had meandered about the gallery, examining the pictures, she had overheard the phrase ‘photo-realistic’ mentioned several times. She had to admit, the phrase fitted.

Whilst she had admired each picture individually, there was something about the unicorn that kept drawing her back. She stepped closer, her lips pursed.

A deep male voice interrupted her thoughts, ‘I’m guessing that you quite like my picture, then?’ it asked.

Carla turned. Standing behind her was a tubby, bearded man in an obviously hired suit. He looked slightly uncomfortable, as though he was not used to talking to women, or people, for that matter.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I do. It’s perfect. Exactly what I imagine a unicorn would really look like. You’re very talented.’ The man looked even more uncomfortable.

‘It’s nothing, really’ he said, flushing slightly, ‘Anyone could have produced this picture, with the right equipment.’

Carla turned back to the picture.

‘But to actually produce a picture like this, and the others on show here, takes more than just “the right equipment”.’ She said, ‘You have to be able to see something in your mind, before you can transfer it into another medium, surely?’

The man looked even more uncomfortable, if that was possible, and started to nervously sidle away.

‘Sometimes, they just come to me…’ he muttered, before making a hasty exit.

Carla turned back to the picture of the unicorn. Yes, she decided, I must have this…

At the front desk, an eager young girl in a baggy white t-shirt explained that ‘due to the versatility of this particular digital art form, whilst the artist keeps the original files, we can produce copies of the artwork at any size and for considerably less cost than buying an original piece of art’. She then launched into a detailed explanation of the type of computer equipment necessary to produce work of this nature.

Carla gritted her teeth as the techno-babble washed over her. She thrust her credit card like a talisman at the eager young thing, an action that caused the girl to finally stop talking and produce a typed order form.

Carla selected the size of her copy, chose the type of frame and arranged delivery.

Her apartment was sleek and clean, almost utilitarian, and a picture like this would offer an ideal counterpoint to the modernistic space she dwelled in. Besides, she had a large blank wall space that needed filling.

A few days later, the picture arrived and, true to their promise, the people form the gallery professionally mounted the picture exactly where she wanted it. She stood back and admired it, which at 6’ x 4’, was considerably larger than the one shown in the gallery. It suited the space perfectly, looking like it had always meant to hang there. Now it looked like her fourth-storey apartment had a window into a sylvan glade, occupied by a mythical beast.

Who needs a wardrobe, she thought, smirking.

Over the next couple of days, every time she passed the picture, she paused. There was something about the picture that was niggling at her, like a loose tooth. Something out of place, slightly off kilter, like a warm toilet seat in an empty house.

But, for the life of her, she could not work out what.

Night after night, she found herself sitting pensively in a chair opposite the picture, scouring it with her eyes, trying to see what her mind was trying to tell her was wrong…

Finally, after spending many sleepless nights tossing and turning, as it preyed on her mind, it came to her. She quickly threw back the covers and padded barefoot into the lounge. Flicking the lights on, she rummaged through her desk drawers, searching until she found what she was looking for. A magnifying glass.

Moving across to the picture, she dragged an armchair close to the wall beneath the picture and clambered up onto its soft, yielding surface.

The eye. There was something different…no, not different…more…about the unicorn’s eye. Balancing unsteadily on the arms of the chair, Carla peered through the magnifying glass at the picture. There was a shape there, very small, but she could just make out what it was…

Realisation struck her like a blow and the magnifying glass fell from her now numb fingers. She slowly collapsed into the soft embrace of the chair, hugging her knees tightly.

She then recollected the exact words the artist had said to her, what seemed like such a long time ago, and realised that every word he had spoken was true.

For what she had seen, reflected in the eye of the unicorn, was the tiny figure of a bearded man, holding a camera…

Way of the Crow – Part Three

The supplicant had returned to the House of Crows, for whilst Master Crow had taught him much, he felt that was much more to learn.

Entering the shadowy interior of the dojo, the supplicant was alarmed to see Master Crow lying face down on his tatami, surrounded by empty Guinness cans. Moving closely, he noted that Master Crow was snoring gently and a musty smell, reminiscent of dusty feathers. As he stepped closer still, he accidentally kicked one of the cans, sending it skittering across the floor. Master Crow immediately sat bolt upright, his eyes staring, although not completely in focus. Turning his head, he stared at the supplicant and said a single word…

“Oonagi.”

Gathering himself, Master Crow shrewdly looked the supplicant up and down. “I am assuming that you have returned to learn more of the Way of the Crow, yes?” The supplicant nodded.

“Master Crow,” the supplicant said nervously, “do you have a drinking problem?”

“Very perceptive, young Padawan.,” answered Master Crow, “I do indeed – my beak is not designed to sup from cans, so I must use…a straw.”

“But enough of the burdens I labour under, it is time for you to learn. Let us begin…”

Welcome back to the third part of my home-brew skirmish rules, currently known as Karasudo or The Way of the Crow. In Part One, I discussed my ‘design philosophy’ and detailed how to stat up characters. In Part Two, I explained weapon skills and gave a brief overview of the main rules and discussed melee combat. Now it’s time to get…crunchy.

Karasudo – The Power of One

No matter how lucky you are, or how good your dice-rolling skills are, there will be occasions that you will roll an unmodified 1 on a d10. This is a Bad Thing, for not only have you reduced the chances that you will succeed in whatever endeavour your character is attempting, in Karasudo it also signifies that your ancestors have forsaken you and something Bad has happened.

This may sound familiar to some and, to be honest, I may have appropriated this idea from the Ghostbusters RPG published by West End Games. This was a d6 based system, which was the precursor of the d6 system utilised in the original Star Wars RPG and used on nearly every game published by West End Games afterwards. When rolling a number of d6’s in the game, one of these dice had to be the ‘Ghost Die’, which had the 1 replaced by the Ghostbusters symbol. If a character rolled this, even if they rolled high enough to succeed, something Bad would happen. If a ghost or other supernatural foe rolled the ‘ghost’, then something Good happened – for the entity. Either way, rolling a ‘Ghost’ was detrimental to the players.

As I liked this concept, I originally integrated this into the missile combat system, whereby rolling a 1 usually meant that the missile weapon had failed in some way – the roll may still have been a success and hit the target, but the weapon was now jammed or broken, and would require a couple of Actions to fix. Not such a problem when supported by other characters, but if you’re pinned down in a mall clothing store by advancing zombies, having your SMG jam at an inappropriate moment can be a little hairy…

So, rather than restrict it to just missile combat, it has now been applied to any dice roll. You roll an unmodified 1 and something detrimental happens. Obviously, depending on what the roll is for, depends on what actually happens, so I’ll break it down by types of roll.

Initiative – Should a player roll an unmodified 1 when rolling for Initiative, not only do they lose the opportunity to go first, one of their characters will not be able to activate this turn. This will usually be the character with the lowest Awareness score or, if more than one character has the same lowest score, the figure furthest from the designated leader. This represents a combination of garbled instructions from the leader and the character in question not paying attention. He’s probably seen a squirrel or something…

If the player who lost the Initiative roll only has one character or model in play, then that character will only activate after the winner of the Initiative has activated all their models. Should have been paying attention, shouldn’t he…

Melee Combat – If a character rolls an unmodified 1 for an Attack Roll during Melee combat, even if they succeed in hitting their target, they’ve managed to disarm themselves. The must now use an alternative equipped weapon (if they have one) or spend their next Action attempting to retrieve it, which is something their opponent may not allow.

If a character rolls an unmodified 1 for an Attack Roll during Unarmed combat, even if they succeed in hitting their target, they immediately lose 1 Health point. This represents a particularly cack-handed attack, such as punching someone right in the armour.

The same rules apply if the character rolls an unmodified 1 for a Defence roll – if Melee combat, they are disarmed of their weapon or shield (controlling player’s choice) and if in Unarmed combat, they take an additional 1 Health point of damage, over and above any they may have received from the attack itself. In the latter case, even if the character managed to soak the damage caused by their opponent’s Attack roll via Vigour and Armour, they would still receive a single point of damage.

As I will be discussing Missile Combat further down, I will explain what an unmodified roll of 1 signifies in that section.

Movement

As previously explained, a character can move a number of Units equal to their Agility score for each Action expended on movement. However, this only applied to Clear terrain, such as grass, pavements, roads, etc. Terrain is divided into three categories – Clear, Rough and Impassable.

Clear terrain, as described above, constitutes flat, even terrain, where there are no obstacles in impede movement and therefore has no penalty to a character movement across it.

Rough terrain constitutes terrain that does impede movement, such as shallow water, thick mud, swamps, marshes or ground that is littered with a large amount of stones or gnarled tree roots. When passing through Rough terrain, a character can only move half their Agility score in Units. However, this only applies to the area of Rough terrain itself.

To give an example of how this works, a character has an Agility of 4 and can therefore move 4 Units per Action. The character could therefore move 2 Units across Clear terrain, but when entering Rough terrain would have their remaining movement allowance reduced by half, meaning that they could only move a further 1 Unit through the Rough terrain before halting. On their next Action, as the Rough terrain continues for a further 2 Units, they could only move 2 Units (4/2 = 2).

There are certain Abilities that a character may have that allow them to move their full movement through Rough terrain or ignore it altogether, which will be discussed when we get to the post about Abilities.

To keep things easy, Rough terrain also includes vertical surfaces, but with an additional complication. Each vertical surface, be it a tree, cliff face or building will have a Difficulty rating, depending on how easy it is to scale. Any character attempting to scale the vertical surface will need to roll 1d10 plus their Agility score and get higher than the Difficulty rating. If they succeed, they may move half their Agility score in Units vertically for each Action expended. Each further vertical movement Action necessary to reach the top of whatever they’re climbing requires a further roll. A success means a further vertical movement of half their Agility, a failure means they remain where they are and an unmodified 1 means they’ve fallen, automatically taking 1 Health point of damage for each Unit fallen. It doesn’t matter how tough you are or how much armour you’ve got on – if you fall, you’re gonna get hurt.

As with horizontal Rough terrain, there are Abilities that will make scaling vertical surfaces easier or prevent falling altogether.

Impassable terrain is just that – terrain that cannot be passed on foot. This may be deep or swiftly flowing water, molten lava, very dense vegetation or solid structures, such as walls or buildings. However, what may be Impassable to an average character, may only be considered Rough terrain to others. Certain types of Impassable terrain will have a Vigour rating, meaning that a character which has a Vigour score equal to or greater than the Vigour score of the Impassable terrain can treat it as Rough terrain.

So, if the Impassable terrain was a fierce and swiftly flowing river with a Vigour rating of 6, an average human with a Vigour of 3 would immediately get swept away by the torrent. However, an Oni, with a Vigour score of 8 would be able to force their way through the river, although at half their normal movement score. The same would apply to dense vegetation.

Buildings and structures are treated slightly differently. Whilst they will have a Vigour rating, they will also have a Health score. This represents how much damage the structure or part of the structure can take before being breached. A character makes an Attack roll as normal, adding any modifiers and deducting the Vigour rating (and any other defensive modifiers) of the structure. The end result is how many ‘Health’ points the structure has lost. Once these have been reduced to zero, the structure has been breached and any character can now go through the breach created. Particular weak structures, such as paper walls or thin wooden panelling will obviously be easier to breach than solid stone. However, if you roll an unmodified 1 when attempting breach a structure, you have either broken your weapon or got it jammed into the material from which the structure is made, so it now unusable for the remainder of the game. If you’re attempting to breach a structure using an Unarmed attack (suggested only for weak structures or very Vigourous characters), an unmodified 1 results in automatically receiving 1 Health point of damage. Unless you’re the Hulk, don’t try to punch your way through a wall.

As with the other types of terrain, there are Abilities that allow you to ignore Impassable terrain, such as Intangibility of Flight.

Missile Combat

Missile combat in the majority of rules I’ve read is pretty complicated, with modifiers for range, the time of day, the weapon being used and then there’s the headache of recording how much ammunition has been expended, ad infinitum. So, I’ve attempted to make it as simple as possible, because all that faffing about annoys me.

Unlike Melee weapons, which provide a bonus to your damage roll, and Unarmed attacks, which the base damage is based on the Vigour of the attacker, all missile weapons have a fixed damage they can do, which is expressed as a Vigour rating. So a Matchlock Rifle has a Vigour rating of 5, or V5. Similarly, every missile weapon has a Range, which is the number of Units the weapon can be used within. This is typically double the Vigour rating of the weapon, so our Matchlock Rifle would have a Range of 10, or R10. The shorthand way of recording this under Abilities is as follows:

Matchlock Rifle (V5/R10)

Typically, missile weapons cost their combined Vigour and Range, unless they can only be used every other Action. So, whilst the Matchlock Rifle above should have a points cost of 15, as it has to be reloaded after every shot, it cost half (rounded up) in points, so 8 points. Weapons that can be used every Action, such as automatic weapons or bows, cost their combined Vigour and Range. To show what I mean, I’ll list some typical Oriental weapons and their costs:

Shuriken (V3/R6) – 9 points

Matchlock Pistol (V4/R8) – 6 points

Longbow (V5/R10) – 15 points

Matchlock Rifle (V5/R10) – 8 points

Okay, so strictly speaking an archer does need to reload each shot, but this is just a case of pulling another arrow from his quiver, rather than loading powder, shot, etc. so he’s going to be a lot quicker.

To make a missile attack follows the same process as attacking in melee, so Agility plus Marksmanship plus 1d10. However, you have to take into account whether your target is in range and you can actually see them – this is what is known as Line of Sight.

So, we’ve established that there are no range modifiers, so a character with a Matchlock Rifle can shoot at any opposing character within 10 Units of them. However, if they can’t see them, they can’t shoot at them. There are three categories that apply to Line of Sight – No Cover, Partial Cover and Full Cover.

If the attacking character can see the opposing character with nothing impeding their view, it counts as No Cover – so you roll as normal.

If the attacking character cannot see the opposing character at all, it counts as Full Cover and they can’t shoot at them.

Pretty simple so far.

However, Partial Cover is where it gets a bit crunchy, but still relatively simple. If the attacking character can see the opposing character, but they are partially obscured by anything else, such as a low wall, vegetation of anything else on the battlefield, they are considered to have Partial Cover. The attacking character adds their Agility score and any relevant modifiers (such as Marksmanship) and then halves this amount. They then make their standard 1d10 roll and adds this to their base Attack roll. The defender rolls their Defence roll as normal and the result follows the standard rules for success or failure.

So, say we have an Ashigaru with an Agility of 3 and Marksmanship of +1, armed with a Matchlock Rifle. We’ve established that his target is within 10 Units and in Partial Cover. Therefore the base roll for the attacker will be Agility + Marksmanship divided by 2, which is 2. We roll our d10 and get a 6, giving a total of 8. The target has an Agility of 3 and rolls a 4, meaning that we’ve beaten the target’s score by 1. Add this 1 to the base damage of 5, means that the target could potentially take 6 health points of damage. Our target has a Vigour of 2, a Health of 4 and no Armour. we deduct the Vigour score of the target from our 6 damage, meaning 4 points got through and as he only had 4 Health points – Boom! – he’s dead.

So, as you can see, a lot simpler than most missile combat.

Of course, we still have to take into account the dreaded unmodified 1. For missile weapons that require reloading every other Action, an unmodified 1 means the weapon has become jammed and will require 2 Actions to un-jam. For weapons that don’t require reloading every other round,  an unmodified 1 means that the character is out of ammunition and needs to ‘reload’, which takes 1 Action. I know this is not particularly realistic, but it does work and saves a lot of book-keeping.

Right, that’s all for this instalment. If you have any questions or think that a particular part could be clearer or needs more explanation, please feel free to provide feedback and comments.

Super Chibification Workshop – Evolution

Welcome back to what I like to call the Super Chibification Workshop! This is where I’ll be documenting my attempts to sculpt three Chibi figures from scratch, to represent some of my friends and fellow bloggers. The three ‘lucky’ recipients of this dubious honour are Steve Gilbert, Hilary Gilbert and Tarot Hunt, who contribute to the wonderfully insightful and interesting blog, The Gamer’s Cupboard, which can be found here.

The first part of this series of posts can be found here, where I explained my design process and the creation of armatures.

So, what have we got for Part Two? Well, previously I’d only created the armatures and begun work on two of the three figures, so felt that I should really start the third figure, to represent “Clockwork Mage Stevie”.

Looking at my initial design ‘doodle’, I decided that whilst the picture gave me an idea of what the final figure should look like, the pose wasn’t particularly dynamic (or heroic looking, eh Steve?). As the general concept for the ‘character’ was a steampunk-ish mad scientist, with massive gauntlets to harness the elemental forces of lightning (similar to Rasputin’s big-ass gloves in the Hellboy movie), I felt that the left arm should be thrust heavenward and the right arm thrust forward, unleashing the power gathered within.

Bearing this in mind, I created my armature in this pose, then added some Milliput to create the torso and head. And this is the result:

It’s almost an en garde pose, but is suitably dynamic and shows that this character means business.

Next, I want to talk about breasts. Being a man, I do tend to look at women’s breasts – I could claim this is a genetic disposition, whereby I’m subconsciously weighing the particular woman’s capabilities as the potential mother of my children, but women appreciate honesty (apparently), so I’ll come clean. I look because I can and it makes me happy. I feel so much better to unburden myself like this…

Anyway, I’ve never sculpted the female form before and the differentiate a Chibi male from a Chibi female, the figure needs to have breasts – ideally of the same size.

So, taking two small balls of putty, I applied these to the chest of the figure that I intend to become “Pulp Avenger Hil”. Unfortunately, applying them as separate balls means that they ended up being two different sizes and not in the right place. Scraping the putty off, I had a bit of a re-think, then rolled a short, thick sausage of putty, applied it in the right area, then blended in the edges, making sure that the slope of the breasts looked correct. I then created the cleavage by indenting the centre of the sausage, then carefully worked around each breast until I got a shape I was happy with. As Chibi figures tend to be somewhat exaggerated, this has lead to me being quite generous. However, no-one can argue that this isn’t a woman now…

Having been pretty successful with this figure, I then moved on to Tarot’s breasts – by which I mean the breasts on the figure that will become “Shrine Guardian Tarot”, obviously. Using the same technique, I then sculpted the figure’s breasts and cleavage, and this is the result:

Looking at both pictures, It does now occur to me that I need to shape them a bit more, so will probably need to take my needle files to both figures. As the putty had started to become unmanageable, that’s where I left it.

New day – new putty. Having only added the torso and head to Steve’s figure, I concentrated on getting a bit more putty onto the armature, so that it was at the same stage as the other two.

This required the adding of thighs, calfs and upper arms, which were each individually added as small blobs of putty, which were then blended around the armature and shaped to the necessary proportions for the body part involved. This generally means that each particular part looks like an extended pear or flattened ellipse, as can be seen from the picture below:

Ideally, as each limb will be covered by clothing, you shouldn’t really make them too thick, so some judicious filling will be necessary on the figure above, to define the muscles a bit better and thin the limbs. This is the advantage of Milliput, as once it sets, it can be filed with no issues. I also decided to bulk out the head a bit more, as having checked some images of Chibi figures online, I realised that their heads are massive!

Moving on to the figures for the girls, I added upper arms and bulked out their heads as well, with results as below.

Currently, all three figures look like Grey aliens, with massive oval heads. The next stage is to add forearms and more bulk to their heads. Then the fun really begins, as I start to add the clothing that will begin to define each figure as an individual.

As there are, without doubt, people out there reading this who are far more talented at this kind of thing than me, any feedback or constructive advice would be appreciated.

Join me next time, where we may be back in the SC workshop, or it may be Part 3 of The Way of the Crow, or I might have actually painted some figures!

That’s why it’s called the Buffet – as you never quite know what’s on the menu!

Introducing…Master Crow

After posting the first part of my home-brew skirmish rules, currently entitled The Way of the Crow, which was introduced by the esteemed and dignified Master Crow, it occurred to me that I really should have a figure to represent him.

As those who had the dubious pleasure of meeting me in the flesh at Salute back in April will know, whilst I appear to be channelling Jack Dee’s voice, the person I most resemble is Sam the Eagle from The Muppet Show…

For those of you who were not able to attend Salute this year, I was given permission to re-publish the report compiled by the noted unnaturalist, Sir David Battenberg, who gives his thoughts on some of the attendees here.

As I appear to resemble this blue-hued patriot, and my online ID is Carrion Crow, it seemed obvious that I would use him as the spokes-crow for the rules. So, having spent some fruitless time scouring the internet I discovered that whilst you can buy figures of Sam, they’re all too big for my purposes. So, being a cunning and inventive bugger, it was off to my figure collection and bits box, to see if I had the necessary resources to enable me to create an approximation of ‘Master Crow’ in 28mm.

Having gone through my collection, I decided that this figure was the best fit:

This is one of the three Izumi Samurai that came with the original HeroScape boxed set. Of the three, it is my least favourite figure – the other two have more character and will be appearing on here during the current focus on Oriental fantasy, one as a samurai for Clan Karasu and the other as a member of the despicable Clan Chouda (boo!).

As I was not overly enamoured of this figure, I felt no compunctions in altering him to my needs…so I cut off his head. This went into my bits box, as I knew I’d have a use for it later. I then gouged out a hollow in the area of his neck, as I had a cunning plan…

When I previously visited Oriental fantasy back in August last year, I posed the question “Could you use a GW Kroot mercenary to create a figure of a Tengu?” The answer turned out to be ‘Yes’. Details of this conversion can be found here.

So having established that a Kroot head can pass for a Tengu, or other birdman of your choice, I selected one of the open-mouthed Kroot heads and cut off the rear ‘feathers’. I then filed down the back of the head until it was nice and rounded, filed the ‘neck’ of the head until it matched the hollow I had created earlier in the donor figure and glued it in place.

So far, so good. Now whilst the dark eyebrows which are a distinctive feature of Master Crow can be created using suitable layers of paint, his tufty hair was another matter. So I turned to my favourite item for creating hair on figures, the humble pipe cleaner. I’ve previously used this on both my Oriental dragon conversion and my Hulk to Oni conversion, and once painted, it does give the impression of shaggy locks, without the tedium of sculpting individual strands. I like easy…

Cutting a suitable length of the correct thickness (as my pipe cleaners are tapered), I bent this around the tip of a pair of needle nosed pliers, then glued it in the correct place on the back of his head. The end result is this.

So, now I have my very own Master Crow, who now only needs an appropriate paint job, and he will be ready to show everyone why he warrants the title ‘Master’.

Join me next time, when we’ll have more Oriental goodness of some description, as I juggle the many balls I have. I shall finish with an appropriate quote from Confucius:

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”