‘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…