Carpathian Kitten Loss

The title of this post is a phrase used by Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters II, referring to what Vigo the Carpathian is suffering from and why he looks so grumpy in his painting.

It’s also… The. Best. Title. Ever.

After my brief diversion to announce the Forgotten Heroes 2019 event, we return to my ongoing Ghostbusters project and something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but not got around to yet.

As I’d previously built the first room of my museum ‘board’ (go here if you missed this genius idea) and discussed in the comments that it could be used for any large internal space, including an art gallery, this started those insidious cogs turning in my brain…

As the villain of the second Ghostbusters movie spent the majority of the film as an oil painting, to have a ‘complete’ collection of 28mm Ghostbusters and related characters, I really needed a scale representation of this. I mean, I’d just built a museum hall, so how difficult could it be?

Turns out there were some teething issues, but as I’ve now overcome these, I can show you the best way to create scale paintings for your scenery, that are; 1. easy to make, 2. dirt cheap and, 3. with the right bits, can be added and removed from your scenery without any issues.

So, the first thing to do is to find the relevant images that you want to replicate. I decided that my portrait of Vigo should not hang alone, so decided to source some other images of like-minded folk. Having selected my ‘Rogue’s Gallery’, I used Google Images to find the largest, most detailed version of the picture I wanted, then simply copied and pasted these into a blank Word document.

Using the Formatting facility, I then reduced these images in size to what I felt was the correct proportions, ensuring that the aspect ratio was locked, so it didn’t distort the image. Using the ‘Picture Styles’ Formatting option, I then added a “frame” to each picture, using ‘Compound Frame, Black’. Having done this, I then printed this out on a piece of A4 paper, using my colour printer, along with one other image, like so:

So, Vigo is at the bottom left of the portraits and above him is a portrait of Ivo Shandor’s mother, which features in Ghostbusters – The Video Game, which I’ve mentioned before. As for the other three portraits, they are all historical personages and anyone who can name all three gets bonus points and my everlasting respect.

The final image is the actual logo for Stay-Puft Marshmallows that appeared in the first Ghostbusters movie, on the packet that Dana had on her kitchen counter. Yes, I am THAT much of a geek…

Interestingly, the image of Mr. Stay-Puft is a bit more angular than the one that manifested in the final reel and I’m tempted to try and recreate this…but maybe not full size.

Anyway, as I had printed this out on A4 paper, I decided to cut out the pictures and glue them on to thin card using a gluestick…

This was a mistake, so don’t do this.

The glue make the colours run and you get weird lumps everywhere. Instead, print the images straight on to card, as most home printers will take the sort of white card they give to kids to make greetings cards from and is therefore available from most stationers and handily comes in A4 size. (As a side note for any overseas readers, A4 is a standard paper size in the UK, equivalent to 8.27 × 11.69 inches, because having it 9 x 12 would be FAR too easy…)

Once you’ve done that, use a steel rule and a craft knife (as even with the best will in the world AND a steady hand, you won’t cut ’em straight) to cut out your paintings, like so:

You will then need to colour the edges of your ‘paintings’, as otherwise when viewed from the side, you’ll see the white card they’re printed on. This can easily be done with a black felt tip such as a Sharpie, although someone’s wandered off with mine, so I had to paint the bloody things. Don’t do this – it takes too long and you can end up with paint, ironically, on your ‘paintings’.

The next stage is to cover the paintings with transparent sticky=backed plastic. I used a 50p roll from Wilko, intended for covering school books. This is to protect the images when being handled, as ink from an inkjet printer will wear off if treated too rough and gives the ‘paintings’ that sheen that you see on oil paintings. Once you’ve done this, flip them over and glue 1 pence pieces to the back of each one, like so;

It doesn’t have to be a 1 pence pieces, you can use any coin of your choice, or a washer, although washers do tend to be more expensive than a penny each. The important thing is that the coin (or coin substitute) be of a composition that is ferromagnetic…

And the reason for this is because that way, by placing a strong enough magnet on the reverse of the wall you are intending hanging the ‘picture’ on, it can be placed anywhere on the wall and removed just as easily, so will not be a permanent fixture.

To show you what I mean, here’s Dr Floyd Petersen of the Rookhaven Ghostbusters franchise, examining a portrait he has discovered hanging in the museum, which appears to be giving off a significant amount of Psychokinetic Energy…

“There are no strings on me…”

Did I hear someone say… ‘genius’?

Until next time…

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Patriot Games

As it has been somewhat quiet of late here on the Buffet, as 2019 has thrown various curve balls my way, you may be thinking that as June creeps ever closer and that my stalwart supporter and faithful sidekick (that’s you, Roger) has hung up his tights, that the annual craziness known as Forgotten Heroes would not be happening this year…

Well, it is.

Now, as alluded to in a previous post, things will be a little different this year.

Firstly, Forgotten Heroes 2019 will be run exclusively from this site and to take part, you have to either post a comment here or send me an direct email. I will then post a list of all those taking part just prior to the start of the event, with links to the participants blogs or websites, so everyone can follow along and see the fruits of your labours. This ‘blogroll’ will feature in all my posts during the month of June, which is Forgotten Heroes month, for those of you unfamiliar with this event.

Secondly, the rules have changed a little bit, as this year we have a theme, hence the title of this post…

Captain America Shield

So, during the month of June, you must create a single wargaming figure, in a scale of your choice, representing a costumed patriotic hero. He, she or it, may be an existing patriotic costumed hero, such as Captain America, Red Guardian or Union Jack, or a new creation of your own devising, but if the latter, must have a costume that will enable anyone viewing the character to be able to recognise what country (or state) they represent. Furthermore, the base figure from which you are creating this figure must not be a representation of the character you are creating. Other than that, go wild.

So, relatively straight-forward and simple rules, and an opportunity to let those creative juices flow. Will you choose a patriotic hero that has yet to have a figure made of them, such as Jack Staff, the Fighting American or Yankee Poodle?

Image result for jack staff   Image result for fighting american      Image result for yankee poodle

Or will you venture into the uncharted reaches of the Multiverse and bring forth such creations as Captain Cornwall, Liberté or U.S.Ape?

Image result for captain cornwall

Hmm, turns out there already IS a Captain Cornwall…who have thought, eh? Although, strictly speaking, it should be Kapten Kernow…

Anyway, enough digressing. The announcement has been made and you have been given just over three weeks in which to plan and prepare your patriotic pièce de résistance!

Forgotten Heroes 2019!

Only Available on Carrion Crow’s Buffet!

Accept No Substitutes!

Come join the fun…

Unnatural History

Anyone who has visited one of the big museums, such as the British Museum or the Natural History Museum in London, will know that not only are they filled with cool and interesting things, but they…are…HUGE. I’m not just talking about the exteriors, but once you walk in through the front doors, you find yourself within a cool, marble-floored hall, whose ceiling and walls stretch away from you – almost to infinity. This sense of scale, of grandeur, is deliberate, as it puts you in the right frame of mind to full appreciate the artefacts that you will shortly be viewing.

Now, back in 2009, Sony released Ghostbusters: The Video Game across various home console platforms, including PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii. There were two ‘versions’ of the game – realistic and stylised – depending on which console you had, but the general plot was the same.

It was set in New York in 1991 and the Ghostbusters, with the addition of a new “Experimental Weapons Technician” (controlled by the player), attempted to thwart the convoluted plan of Ivo Shandor to return from beyond the veil and complete the work he had begun back in the 1920’s.

Now, unlike a lot of the games published under the Ghostbusters banner, the script and story for this had been created by Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis, and featured the actual vocal talents of the majority of the original cast, including the notoriously reclusive Bill Murray.

And it was awesome, especially on the Wii, as you actually felt like you WERE a Ghostbuster.

You may be wondering how this video game and my introduction regarding museums are related to one another…or to wargaming, which is the purpose of this blog and probably why you’re here in the first place. All WILL be explained, so read on.

So, one of the levels of this game featured the American Museum of Natural History, star of the first Night in the Museum movie and novel Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (NB: the movie based on the latter – The Relic (1997) – whilst not too bad, moved the action to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, so not the same place.) You got to explore various parts of the museum and bust a variety of supernatural menaces along the way.

This got me thinking that having a tabletop representation of a museum – a museum ‘board’ if you will – would be a great location to play a variety of games on. A heist of a valuable artefact could be thwarted by costumed vigilantes or uniformed police; a group of stalwart, square-jawed adventurers could sneak in to prevent cultists from opening a portal to another dimension and releasing some squamous horror; paranormal exterminators or meddling teens could investigate and eliminate a haunting, whether real or faked. Just think of all the movies you’ve seen that have featured a museum or art gallery as a major location and think of what fun YOU could have with your figures, if you had one yourself…

Now, I am aware that Sally 4th does as part of their Terra Blocks range, under the sub-heading of Exotic Locations, The Museum of Antiquities, which is constructed from 17 100mm cubes, that can be rearranged to your heart’s content, for £17.50.

However, whilst nice, this doesn’t really convey the scale of the big museums to me, so I sat on this idea for a while until I had one of my unbelievably genius ideas. You may be somewhat sceptical at this point, but just you wait and see…

Right, first thing you need is a box, but not just any box. You need a box that is pretty big, robust and deep. I was initially going to use a box file for this, as they’re pretty cheap and easy to get hold of wherever you happen to be in the world, but then remembered that Ikea do black storage boxes for a very reasonable £2.00 each. Obviously, being Ikea, you’ve got to build them yourself, but no tools are necessary, as these are the only parts you get:

As you can see from the instruction sheet, this box is called ‘Tjena’, and comes in three parts; the pre-assembled lid, the sides and folded bottom and a flat insert to go in the bottom of the box for added stability. The box is 13 3/4″ long, 9 3/4″ wide and 4″ tall (or 35cm, 25cm and 10cm, if you use Metric) and looks like this once you’ve built it;

You can now see why you have a insert, as the folded part of the base of the box means it hasn’t got a flat bottom.

Each one of these boxes will represent one hall within our museum, so depending on how large you want your museum to be depends on how many boxes you buy. As each ‘hall’ is only £2.00 (in the UK at least), your playing area and budget will dictate how many halls your museum has.

Once you’ve decided how many halls you are going to have and the approximate layout, you need to cut openings in the relevant walls of your halls, so that the visitors can move between halls. Make sure that the openings in each hall are the same size, so that when you put them together, they marry up. I have decided that as my museum may have exhibits such as prehistoric animals or modern art in the form of giant plastic pigs, the openings need to be 3″ wide and this hall will have three openings, so I cut these out.

The reason I did this first is because whilst the box, insert and lid are coloured black, the card it’s made from isn’t, so the cut parts show the original colour of the cardboard it’s made from. As the next stage involves paint, it’s better to have all the bits you’re going to paint on show at the same time.

As museums tend to have neutral coloured walls, out came my £4.00 can of Wilko ‘Soft Taupe’ spray paint and the interior walls (and the cut parts showing the base card colour) were given a liberal coat, then left to dry whilst I moved on to the next part. And this is what it looked like once it was dry.

However, whilst it was drying, I tackled the ‘floor’. The idea here was to cover the card insert with suitably patterned self-adhesive decorative vinyl. Having found a role of said product that featured 1 inch squares, that looked like floor tiles (and is actually fairly similar to the tiled floor of the British Museum) in Poundland, I thought it would be ideal.

So, I cut a section big enough to cover the insert and overlap the edges, peeled of the backing paper and carefully applied the sticky-back plastic to my card insert, like so;

As the walls of my hall were now dry, I simply dropped my floor into place and had the first of my basic museum halls completed;

And to give a sense of scale, here’s Jake Hudson of the local Ghostbusters franchise facing off against some Oriental beastie stalking the halls of the Rookhaven Museum of Natural History;

Now, it’s not complete, as I am intending on adding skirting boards, light switches and power outlets to the walls, to make it look more ‘real’, but I wanted to get this up on the blog so others could see just how simple, quick and inexpensive creating a large interior space to play in was. It doesn’t need to be a museum – it could be ANY interior. And it doesn’t need to be a room this size – it could be easily divided up into smaller rooms, to represent a secret base or a prison or…well anything YOU need.

And, once you’re done playing, pop the lid on and stack it up with the other halls you’ve built. Robust, quick and easy to build and store, and cheap.

Genius.

‘Nuff said.

Size of a Cow…

Like the other seasonal holidays, whilst Easter does see the shelves of our favourite discount stores filled with suitable bits and bobs, unlike Halloween, these don’t tend to be of any use to the average wargamer.

Having purchased a small wicker basket from Poundland, with the intention of filling it with a veritable cornucopia of small chocolate goodies for my wife, I found that I’d left it a touch late to buy the ‘goodies’, so had to buy normal eggs instead.

This left me with an unwanted and unnecessary item. As I detest waste and have absolutely no shame, I took it back to Poundland and exchanged it for something else…because that’s how I roll.

And what I got was these:

Five injection-moulded hollow plastic bath toys, representing various farm animals, in suitably restrained colours. For a £1, so that makes them 20p each. Bargain!

Now, you might be wondering why on Earth I bought these in the first place and why am I featuring them on the Buffet. Well, in typical Jez fashion, I saw these and immediately started thinking outside the box. The cartoon-like styling of these, their size (they are approximately 3 inches long and 2 inches tall) and their weight (being hollow, they don’t weigh very much) means that I immediately started thinking they could be used as parade balloons, fibre-glass restaurant signs, or corporate mascots brought to unholy life and unleashed on the Ghostbusters…

This give a better idea of how big these toys scenery items are, compared to a standard 28mm Crooked Dice figure. The horse/pony and the chicken are a bit taller, being 3 inches tall and the chicken certainly looks like it should be gracing the roof of a “Chicken Shack”…

However, looking at the pig next to my Ghostbuster figure….

And remembering the beginning of the second Toy Story, where the evil Dr. Porkchop has a vast pig-shaped spacecraft, I thought that this would make a good shuttlecraft for….Pigs in Space!

Of course, in order to do that you’ll need some 28mm Space Pigs…

Luckily, Interloper Miniatures has some;

Join me next time, when we’ll be off to the museum…

 

Ghostbusters – Down Mexico Way

The Universe works in strange ways…

I’d previously posted about my intention to add an Aztec-inspired villain to my Ghostbusters games on 1st April – and this was not a prank, although the subject matter may have led people to believe it was… You can read all about “The Jewelled Fowl” here.

Bearing in mind that I had already made a start on this project when I posted on 1st April, the fact that on 28th March I was notified from my Blog feed that Antediluvian Miniatures had just released their Conquistadors of Mictlan range in their shop, which contains Conquistador Zombies, Mictlan Zombies, Mictlan Jaguar Warriors and Mictlan Liches, seemed rather…serendipitious.

And then, on the 6th April, I attended Salute 2019 and although I failed to attend the “Bloggers Meet” (as I thought it was at 1pm, rather than 12pm) and didn’t actually buy anything (as nothing within my price range grabbed my interest), there were a couple of things that caught my eye…

Firstly, the American laser-cut MDF building company Things From the Basement are now working with 4Ground in the UK and one of their new ranges is The Lost Archipelago range, which I suspect was inspired by the Frostgrave – Ghost Archipelago game, but is suitable for all your Incan, Mayan and Aztec needs.

Then there was the injection-moulded plastic scenery from Archon Studio, who have some kind of link with Prodos Games. This system, called “Rampart” is a modular scenery system that was launched on Kickstarter and has a delivery date of May 2019, but you can enter a late pledge via the Archon Studio shop, the lowest level being the $49.00 starter pledge.

Now, I normally wouldn’t look at a Kickstarter, but having actually handled the components of this one, I was suitably impressed, especially as the second theme of the initial release is the Kazumi Temple, which looks like this:

As I am a big fan of plastic terrain items, especially stuff of this nature, this bears keeping an eye on, as I can see several uses for this kit. However, we will have to see if they deliver on their promised shipping date and how soon after this the items appear for general release.

All items that could enhance my intended venturing into the realms of Aztec horror…and all still with their manufacturers, as I have a tiny budget at present.

However, when has that ever stopped me in the past? Let’s see how the project is (slowly) progressing so far.

The “Blighted Reavers” from the Arena of the Planeswalker boxed game had most of their mold lines removed and a generous (perhaps a little TOO generous) layer of sharp sand added to their bases, then were undercoated in white. They were then given a couple of thin coats of grey, then their loincloths were painted beige and one of them (as a test) had his torc and bracelet painted gold.

20190415_0936166103593817544461524.jpg

Still a little darker than I originally envisaged, but a touch of high-lighting will sort this out.

With my human form Chalchiuhtotolin, he’s now been based and undercoated, but only his head-dress currently painted, as I was waiting for his base to dry properly.

I have got significantly further with his turkey from, as you can see below:

I decided to go with a the standard turkey colouration initially, which appears to be blacks, whites and greys for the plumage, with a red and blue head. I will be introducing a hint of green to the proceedings, as he is the “Jade Turkey” and am considering whether this would be better done as a green ink wash over his feathers, giving a slightly shiny, metallic look to them. Currently undecided on this, but was suitably impressed with the detailing on this cheap plastic toy, as it has come out rather nicely.

And finally, a group shot;

Coming along nicely and should you see these – or anything else strange in your neighbourhood – you know who to call…

Until next time…

Ghostbusters – Evil-ution

Having watched with interest as Steve Gilbert has taken a bunch of 54mm plastic figures (including cheap plastic army men and cowboys and indians sourced from China at 4p a figure) to re-fight the Anglo-Zulu war, over on his new blog Reveille, this has got me out of my gaming “funk” and re-focused my mind on what I want to achieve for the fourth year of Carrion Crow’s Buffet.

As you can probably gather from the title, I have returned to one of my true loves, that of the boys in beige themselves, the best, the beautiful, the only…Ghostbusters!

So, 2019 will see a return to the Ghostbusters project, as I complete painting up all the figures I have bought specifically to play GB games with and actually play some games with them. As my gaming budget has taken a bit of a hit, everything “new” for this project will be re-purposed from elsewhere or some of my usual innovative and inexpensive build solutions.

But it’s all very well talking the talk, but you’ve got to walk the walk as well, otherwise it’s all just hot air…

Let us begin with an insight into my fevered imagination, as I show you just exactly how my mind works. You have been warned…

So, the underlying premise of Ghostbusters, as a horror/comedy, is that whilst the ‘baddies’ should be somewhat horrific, they should also be a touch ridiculous. Take the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – he’s quite cute, being the mascot of a confectionary company, but as the avatar of a “moldy Babylonian Sumerian God”, dedicated to destroying the World, he is pretty terrifying too.

Therefore, in order to create a new foe for MY Ghostbusters franchise, I need to embrace this premise and come up with something that is in equal parts terrifying AND amusing. I have done this once before, for the tabletop Ghostbusters RPG, where a franchise based in Reading, Berkshire had to deal with various Christmas-themed entities – The Ghost of Cows Past haunting a McDonalds, the Ghost of Christmas Presents – a giant jack-in-a-box trying to wrap the world and, finally, the big bad himself, Father Solstice – the Ghost of Christmas As It Should Be, the spirit of a Druid burnt at the stake trying to return the winter festival to its pagan roots. It was very silly, but a huge amount of fun, as the players embraced their pre-generated characters and just went for it.

One thing that had stuck in my mind from a visit to one of the farm parks that masquerades as a zoo, because it has a few things that aren’t strictly farm animals, such as otters (which absolutely reek) and penguins (which are pretty stupid, from my experience), was an encounter with a turkey. Having only ever seen pictures of them or as a Christmas dinner, I wasn’t prepared for the real thing. This was the grandaddy of all turkeys, being a good four feet tall and this bird slowly stalked forward, a malevolent look in its eyes that caused me to back away from the flimsy looking fence separating me from it. It was faintly ludicrous looking, but gave of a palpable aura of menace, as though it was thinking “you’re lucky that fence is there…”

So, when looking for a suitable villain, I was thinking along the lines of something turkey related and one of my bizarre google searches led me to Chalchiuhtotolin, the Jewelled Fowl, an Aztec God of disease and plague.

The idea that there was an evil Aztec turkey God, whose presided over disease and plague, started ideas bouncing around in my head – would he manifest just after Thanksgiving, having taken over the local dump and animated all the rotting turkey carcasses to plague the living? Where could I find 28mm zombie turkeys? And similar thoughts…

I picked up a Mayan Chief figure from Gringo 40’s 28mm Mesoamerican range to use as the human avatar of Chalchiuhtotolin at Salute, but that’s as far as I got…

However, with my recent purchase of the Arena of the Planeswalker game (as detailed in this post) and the realisation that three of the torc-wearing zombies would make pretty cool Aztec Ghouls, this encouraged me to revisit this idea. Of course, I needed an avatar of Chalchiuhtotolin in turkey form, so needed a big freaking turkey, so a quick rummage in my loft uncovered this:

Super-glued to a pre-puttied two-pence piece base, which, for our non-UK readers, is a copper coin approximately 25mm in diameter, this hard rubber toy is about 2″ (50mm) tall. Quite nicely detailed, it just needed a few mold lines removed and is now ready for painting.

To give a sense of scale, here is Chalchiuhtotolin in full-on turkey avatar mode (a sentence you never thought you’d ever read) with his Aztec ghoul minions, which are about 30mm tall, so pretty beefy themselves.

I need to base up his human avatar form and then we’ll be into painting him and his minions up, to bedevil my Ghostbusters.

Weird, unique, yet interesting content…I’m back, baby!

Re-Scaping

In my last but one post (I’ll Put a Hex on You…), I discussed my plans regarding re-purposing my Heroscape hex terrain to make it less ‘cartoon-y’ looking. I have decided to christen this “Re-Scaping” because…I can.

Now, I am aware that not everyone is as familiar with Heroscape as myself, so I thought I’d do a quick history bit first. It was originally published/released in 2004 by Milton Bradley and was a complete turn-based miniature wargame, which came with 30 pre-painted miniatures. The main difference from other games of this ilk is that it came with interlocking hex tiles, which could be combined in whatever fashion you chose, to create your battlefield. Lego for wargamers, essentially.

Until it was discontinued in 2010, several expansions were released, introducing different coloured tiles to represent different types of terrain, including dungeon, snow and lava field tiles.

At one point, I had a copy of every terrain expansion released, bar the castle set, but various financial issues resulted in me selling off the Volcarren Wasteland (lava-themed), Thaelenk Tundra (snow and ice-themed) and the Battle for the Underdark (Dungeon-themed) sets.

This still left me with a fair amount of tiles of varying types of terrain, which are shown below:

Starting from top left and going clockwise, the green/brown tile is a Grass tile and the grey/brown is a Stone tile, both from the Rise of the Valkyrie base set. Grass tiles are those you get the most of. Next we have a cobbled Road tile, from the Road to the Forgotten Forest set. You get about 20 of these, so not enough to cobble the entirety of Blackwell. The black tile is an Asphalt tile and the light grey is a Concrete tile, both from the Marvel base set The Conflict Begins. I ended up with three of these sets, as The Entertainer was selling them off at £10 a set. The two-tone green tile is a Swamp tile, from The Swarm of the Marro set and the yellow tile is a Sand tile from The Arena of the Planeswalkers set.

Typically, each type of terrain comes in 1-hex, 2-hex, 3-hex and 7-hex tiles, with certain variations, like the 24-hex Grass tiles.

Those who are fully conversant with the game and the sets I have mentioned will have noticed that one type of terrain tile is missing – the cream/brown Sand tile which featured in the base set as well as a few other places.

This is because I took ALL my Sand tiles and with a can of ‘Soft Taupe’ Gloss Acrylic Spray from Wilkinsons (£4.00 for a 400ml can), re-coloured them all. However, whilst the spray gave a nice coverage, it did teach me two important things regarding doing this type of re-colouring. Firstly, don’t apply the spray too thickly, otherwise your interlocking tiles will fit a bit TOO snugly together and it will be a bugger to get them apart and, secondly, the colour of the can’s lid and the sample board showing the spray applied will not match the actual paint that comes out. Both the lid and sample board suggested that ‘soft taupe’ was a browny-grey colour. It is…but it’s not as dark as it appeared, as you can see if the picture below:

The bottom tiles are a light grey concrete tile on the left and a dark grey Road tile on the right. Above them is the ‘soft taupe’ tile, which is a pretty similar colour to the Concrete tile.

After some gnashing of teeth and a bit of compound swearing, I resorted to Plan B – in which the B stands for ‘Burnt Umber’. Utilising a bottle of Docrafts Acrylic of this hue, I grabbed the 24-hex tile that I’d sprayed with ‘Soft Taupe’ and gave it a liberal coating of this, as a test piece.

And do you know what? It came out rather well, as can be seen from the quick scene I set up below, featuring some of my other ‘Re-Scaped’ hexes that had cheap trees from China attached and a Time War Dalek, who is hunting squirrels…

So, as I now have a solution, I just need to give all my ‘Soft Taupe’ sprayed tiles a coat of Burnt Umber and I will have my first set of Re-Scaped tiles, which I think shall be dubbed Mud tiles. Should double up as patches of earth, dirt roads in the countryside or possibly compacted dirt roads in urban environments.

Of course, the comparison with the original Grass tiles now shows that they need Re-Scaping too. Luckily, Wilkinson’s does have at least 3 different shades of cheap green spray paint, so hopefully at least one of them will be a closer match to the colour I want.

I shall finish up with a small piece of good news – it appears I will be attending Salute this year after all, so keep your eyes peeled for the grumpy old crow stalking the aisles and descending upon the Bloggers Meet in a flurry of feathers.

Jez

It’s a Kind of Magic…

Those who regularly follow this blog will know that I’m not usually the sort to buy boxed games. Not only do they tend to be somewhat pricey, but they also don’t really represent good value for money, in my opinion. And as I don’t have a huge gaming budget, they merely represent ‘nice ideas’ rather than potential purchases.

However…

Sometimes you come across, purely by chance, an absolute bargain and just have to snap it up…such as this:

This is the Magic The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers boxed wargame, which contains 35 plastic miniatures and 6 interlocking cardboard tiles to create your battlefield, which has a recommended retail price of £29.99. However, Amazon in the UK are currently selling this game for £8.48…

You read that correctly…£8.48 for a boxed wargame with thirty-five plastic miniatures…even if you don’t actually ever play the game, that works out at approximately 24p per figure. Bargain!

However, as I’m not known for knee-jerk purchasing, why exactly did I get this game?

Well, whilst it may be branded “Magic the Gathering”, this is just a variation of Heroscape. The only real difference I can see from reading the rules is that your hero character – the Planeswalker – can cast a certain number of spells per turn, as well as having special abilities like a standard Heroscape character. The movement, dice rolling and general look of the ‘army cards’ is very reminiscent of original ‘Scape, which is unsurprising really, as this game was written by Craig Van Ness, the chap responsible for the original game.

To be honest, though, I wasn’t aware of this until after I’d got it. I bought it because you got 35 figures for under a tenner and each one is an individual sculpt. But you also get these:

Six interlocking cardboard tiles, that cover an area of just over two feet square. The tiles feature pre-printed artwork depicting desert wastes with water features, and can be rearranged is several different configurations, depending on the particular scenario you’re playing. You also get two cardboard ruins (not shown) and two 3-hex sand tiles and 2 1-hex sand tiles – which ARE actual Heroscape tiles, but in a solid yellow colour.

But let’s move on to the figures. As Magic the Gathering has five different types of mana, unsurprisingly there are five factions, one for each colour. Each faction gets a pre-painted Planeswalker figure and two squads of three figures, representing the forces that particular faction can bring to bear.

The White Planeswalker has a squad of Rhino men, which are the weakest sculpts in the whole box and a squad of desert tribesmen types. I could look up the actual names, but it’s the actual figures you’re interested in, so you probably don’t really care what their “official” names are…

Next we have the Black Planeswalker, and her two squads of Undead – three axe-wielding skeleton/zombies and three ghoul/ghast types.

Next we have the Green Planeswalker and her elven archers and nature elementals.

The Blue Planeswalker and what it apparently illusionary doubles and “Leyline Phantoms” – which are the four-armed demon-types.

And lastly, the Red Planeswalker and her squads of phoenixes and firecats.

Each individual figure is a unique sculpt and is cast as a one-piece in a the relevant coloured plastic, except for the Planeswalkers themselves.

Other than the Rhino-men, who could have been cool – but just aren’t, all the figures are pretty decent sculpts. Some of the bases don’t sit flat, due to how they’ve been shipped, but as they plastic is fairly flexible, the old hot water/cold water trick should restore the slightly warped back to their correct poses.

Whilst the overall theme of the set is Fantasy, I think it’s fairly obvious that once you’ve got these figures, what you do with them is up to you. I’m currently trying to decide if the ghoul types would be better used as minions of Skeletor or some kind of Aztec tomb-guardians.

Lots of figures, lots of possibilities, not much outlay – typical Jez-type post.

Should you want a box yourself, it can be found here.

I’ll Put a Hex on You

The combination of a 3-hour daily commute and the reduction of your gaming budget does give you a lot of time to think about what you actually have sitting in boxes or on shelves in cupboards, rather than compiling a ‘wish list’ for the upcoming Salute…

Which, due to my current circumstances, I probably won’t be attending this year. Which is a bit shit, but them’s the breaks…

So, having discovered that my ‘cheap and cheerful’ vinyl gaming tiles have not stored well and need replacing before I can venture back on to the streets of Blackwell, I cast my mind through my ‘mind cupboard’, where I memorise all the gaming stuff wot I’ve got, to see what alternatives I already had.

Now, I DO actually have some modular, interlocking cobbled tiles…namely those that came with the Road to the Forgotten Forest expansion for Heroscape. They are pretty nice=looking, have the necessary texture and are pre-weathered, but you don’t get that many. For those of you unfamiliar with this product, this is what they look like;

Heroscape - Large Expansion Set - Road to the Forgotten Forest by Hasbro

You only get 28 hexes in this set, which just about covers a 10″ square. Even taking into account the churchyard and pavements – which could be constructed using other ‘Scape hexes, I would end up with not much in the way of cobbles, which are pretty much needed for this genre. So, a potentially nice idea scuppered by lack of available hexes…

However, this did lead me down the avenue of thinking about my collection of Heroscape hexes in general. I like the modularity of them, but am envious of those who play on detailed battlemats or custom boards…so was there a way to customise my existing Heroscape hexes to make them less plastic-looking and more game=board-ish?

Now, I’m not the first to think this, as there is a whole thread on the Heroscapers site for custom terrain and scenery, and the end results do look rather nice, but it involved painting and gluing and flocking, which even with the best will in the World, requires a lot of resources and time and the end result will shed. The whole point of the plastic hexes is that they are robust and can be lobbed into a box with no major issues. Can’t really do that if you’ve spent all that time applying flock to each individual hex top, can you? This is the kind of results you can get if you put you’re mind to it;

As the Marvel Heroscape ‘concrete’ and ‘asphalt’ hexes are uniformly one colour, I was thinking of using some cheap spray paint (hobby or car) to re-colour the ‘grass’, ‘sand’ and ‘stone’ hexes, so the grass hexes would be all green, the sand hexes would be all yellow and the stone hexes would be all dark grey.  A further application of stippling or sponging in a lighter shade on the tops would then give the illusion of flocking, but without little bits dropping off all over the floor.

So, if all goes according to plan, I get a modular battlefield that looks closer to those wonderful yet expensive rubber mats that all the cool kids are playing with, for the price of a couple of cans of spray paint. Of course, that still doesn’t solve my cobbles problem, but moving slowly forward is better than not moving at all.

Jez

Better Late Than Never

Having checked the calendar, it’s actually over a month since I last posted on my blog and, embarrassingly, I missed posting on the 4th anniversary of this blog, which was 6th February…

Yep, that’s right, I’ve been unleashing my inner vision and opinions on hobby-related stuff for just over 4 years!

But regular visitors will have noted that I’ve been rather quiet of late, both here and on as a visitor elsewhere. This is not entirely through choice, as 2019 has proved somewhat challenging – in respect of both time and finances.

My ‘new’ job eats up a lot of my time, both in commuting and additional hours required to ensure that you’re meeting your quota/target, meaning that there’s not a great deal of evening left by the time I get home. And, like the M-113 creature from the classic Star Trek episode “The Man Trap”, it sucks the life right out of you…

Image result for m113 creature

Combine this with a…financial miscalculation…on my part regarding certain monies payable to HMRC and I find myself in somewhat of a hole.

When you have various personal issues hanging over your head, like the allegorical sword of Damocles, it’s not surprising that getting some miniatures out and either painting them or playing a game with them is not top of your agenda. Especially when what free time you have is either spent searching for alternative employment or cataloging a reasonably sized comic collection, with a view to selling it on (other than the bits I simply cannot possibly part with, naturally).

In respect of this blog, and hobby-related content for it, it means that posts may be somewhat infrequent and there will be little in the way of ‘new’ content, as my hobby budget has been reduced to zero for the foreseeable future.

However, this does mean that I will be concentrating, when time permits, on completing those figures I already own, those projects that have been started…and not finished and “making good use of things that I find”.

So, please bear with me…normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Jez