Electric Dreams

Strangely, two of the blogs I follow have both recently posted regarding the use of AI generated artwork – namely Harry over at War Across the Ages and Dave Morris (he of White Dwarf, Dragon Warriors – amongst many other things – fame) at Fabled Lands.

Now, whilst I do consider myself a “reasonable” artist (i.e. things I draw usually look like what they are supposed to), people won’t be banging down my door for an original Winstanley.

Having seen what could be achieved utilising an AI art program, and based on Harry’s recommendations, I decided to download and give StarryAI a try, as the rules I’m currently adapting could do with some artwork.

What you have to remember is that StarryAI is a computer program, so the more ‘prompts’ (i.e. instructions) you give it, the closer to what you want you’re going to get.

For example, if you put in ‘Medieval pirate port city,’ which I thought was pretty straight-forward, you get this;

Which, whilst cool, wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

However, one you get the hang of what kind of input the program needs, you can get closer to what you want.

So, in the Rushlight settting, the Whispering Gods can imbue mortals with some of their power, creating avatars that can act on their behalf.

The avatar of Kaustos, lord of fiery destruction, for example, is known as the Burning Knight.

Now, as I ideally wanted a medieval style illustration, my prompts were ‘evil burning knight, medieval illustration, woodcut, Gustav Dore.’ Of the four pictures I got back, the one below was the best;

Having seemed to have got the ‘prompts’ right, I tried for the Avatar of Mavia, lady of discord and insanity, more commonly known as the Pied Piper. Of the pictures the program returned, the one below struck a chord, although the piper doesn’t appear to be piping;

As I said to Harry in the comments on his original post, whilst I can see the utility of using such programs, I can’t see it ever replacing human artists. An AI can compare various pieces of artwork accessible on the web and create art that apes this, but lacking imagination or a human perpective, they’ll always be something not quite right about it.

However, if you’re writing a Call of Cthulhu adventure and what some unique and slightly disturbing artwork for free, StarryAI has got your back;

Character Building

His name was Weaver and he claimed that he was merely a travelling herbalist.

However, certain members of the party had seen him perform minor acts of magic and his pet crow appeared to be somewhat more intelligent than normal, so they believed him to be a mage…

Other members of the party had witnessed him slipping through the shadows, to suddenly materialise behind a sentry, and, after a brief struggle, leave the guard dead on the ground, eyes glassy and green foam dripping from the corner of their mouth. These party members assumed he was some kind of assassin…

Whatever the party believed, as Weaver would either launch into an elaborate tale that was clearly made up on the spot or merely smile, they learnt that if they came across an intricate, elaborate puzzle or trap, Weaver was the best person to deal with it.

Weaver was actually a 2E Bard, who’d taken the Riddlemaster kit and spent 2 additional slots on the Herbalism Non-Weapon Proficiency to allow him to brew some low-level poisons (with the agreement of the DM). He never used his bardic inspiration, because he was a bit of a self-serving, mercenary git. However, he was great fun to play and, unlike some of the party, when facing a rampaging red dragon, did not stand in the open on a stone bridge… so was able to tell the tale afterwards.

I recently came across his character sheet when having a sort out and thought it might be a fun exercise to see if I could recreate him using the Romance of the Perilous Land rules, as it does share some similarities with AD&D. However, as the RoPL Bard class features are all about performance and provide buffs for allies, debuffs for foes and minor healing (for some reason), the Bard class is not the best choice for recreating this character under this ruleset.

But if you select the Thief class, this gives you access to the full set of Thief class features (Sneak Attack at 1st lvl, Trapfinder at 3rd, Critical Stike at 5th, Disguise at 7th and Deadly Strike at 9th), a choice of Acrobatics, Bluff, Perception, Stealth and Thievery (choose 3 of 5), light and medium ranged and melee weapons and light and medium armour. Plus you automatically get a dagger, leather armour and set of lockpicks.

Now, if you combine this with the Assassin background from the Heroes of Avalon supplement (available for a very reasonable $2.00 here) you get Nature and Stealth skills as bonuses and get access to 5 talents that are only available to Assassins, including Poison Crafter, which allows you to “spend 10 minutes creating one poison with a single use” (there is a list of 5 poisons with specific effects within the supplement). However, if you take Magic Initiate at 1st level, rather than an assassin talent, this allows your character to “cast spells up to level 1,” which gives you the minor spellcasting ability that you would associate with the 2E bard.

So, we now have a 1st level Thief, with the Assassin background, who can cast 0 and 1st level spells, and when he hits 2nd level, will be able to craft his own poisons. This is basically what the concept of Weaver was when I tried to shoehorn him into the AD&D 2E rules, so RoPL actually made it easier to create this character. And there’s more…

Because the rules give an overview of each of the eleven kingdoms, based on my concept, I can easily slot him into the game’s background. So, Weaver (if that’s his real name) is from Lyonesse, and was trained by the Night Ward, a secret organisation of assassins that dispose of spellcasters in that land. Whilst King Meliodas officially denounces their actions, he privately appreciates their work (as he fears all spellcasters) and fails to crack down on their activity. However, when Weaver discovered his own spellcasting ability, he realised that if this talent was revealed, he would be the next victim of the Night Ward, so ran south. Finding Eastland to be a bit too lawless, he fled further south and ended up in Ascalon. Unfortunately, this was where he was caught and rather than compete in Hykaria’s death pits where criminals fight to reduce their sentences, is now working off his debt as an indentured ‘servant’ to Lord Talbot.

Now, once you have a character you want to play, you then start casting about for a miniature to represent them and having heard good things about HeroForge, I decided to see if I could translate the image I had in my mind’s eye of Weaver into an actual miniature.

So, this is the closest I could get to Weaver from my mind’s eye, so what will HeroForge charge me for having my own custom-built miniature? Let’s have a look…

$19.99?! And that doesn’t included shipping?!

Well, whilst it’s a nice idea, I think that’s a little out of my price range. However, as I am the Master of Web Fu and can generally find a figure to represent anything I want, I’m sure we can do better than THAT…

So, Dungeons & Dragons Critical Role Unpainted Miniatures Hollow One Rogue and Sorcerer Male, from Wizkids. Approximately a fiver (£5.00) for both figures, so I get a figure to represent Weaver for £2.50 and a weird sorcerer chappie to use elsewhere. Result!

And to be quite honest with you, I prefer the figure I found to the one I actually built, as it looks more like what I think Weaver should look like. AND I happened to find that my FLGS had one pack in stock, so I didn’t even have to pay shipping!

My Web Fu is Strong…

“Spider on the Spot!”

Bearing in mind that I only had to paint a single figure white, then add spots to it, you’d think it wouldn’t take very long…

Au contraire, mes amis! I failed to take into account the consistency of my white paint, which needed several coats to give a suitable solid base of white. I initially painted the whole figure and supplementary stand with GW Corax White, which as I’ve mentioned several times in the past, is actually a pale grey. I then went over the Spot’s body and disembodied fist with Docrafts Blanc and the floating “spots” with Docrafts Noir.

And then a further coat of white… and another… and another.

Once I’d finally managed to get a level of whiteness I was happy with, I then gave the white parts a wash of Corax White, to define the musculature of the figure, which wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. However, it did give me a base on which to start adding spots, as shown below:

Now, there are various different interpretations of how the spots appear on the Spot, including a relatively popular version which has a single ‘spot’ in the middle of his face. However, this makes him look like the Marvel character A.D.A.M. Unit Zero, a character associated with Cable, so I decided to go with the original version from the Spot’s first appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Now, you may think that adding spots of varying sizes would be slightly tedious, but it was actually quite cathartic. Although it did take slightly longer than I’d anticipated…

However, I think the time was well-spent, so I can now present my finished Spot conversion;

I have to admit, I am pretty happy with how he’s turned out and therefore decided to take several pictures of him, showing both his front, as above, and his back, as below;

And because I was particularly pleased with the expression I managed to get on his face, here’s a view of it;

The base was textured using a ball of kitchen foil, to give the look of concrete and then painted with several cost of my own mid-grey mix, which although does take several coats, does allow for a graduation of grey, which is quite handy. The white residue in the clear column is due to it being partially hollow, so when I filed the top down, it gathered in this hollow and wouldn’t bloody shift. Oh well…

Looks like Spidey has fallen afoul of the Spot;

Anyway, that’s my entry finished. As for the others;

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table has completed Captain Kremmen, Carla and Dr Gitfinger from Kenny Everett’s radio and TV shows and very good they are too.

Simon from Fantorical has used the HeroForge site to create character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels.

Keith from Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed both the obscure character Rainbow Boy and the Spidey villain Hypno-Hustler in all his 70’s Disco glory.

Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog is working through the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and now has over half of these sculpted AND painted.

Matt from PM Painting has not yet posted his entry, having had to consign two attempts to the bin, but he’s still got time before the event finishes and if it’s anything like last year’s entry, it will be worth the wait.

So, another successful year of Forgotten Heroes! And you know it’ll be back next year, so you’ve got eleven months to come up with something…

Maybe 2023 will be the year of the Big Wheel…

X Marks… the Spot

So, having had to revise my initial plans, how far have I got turning this;

…into this?

Well, the initial part was lopping off limbs, so that was pretty simple. But how to replicate the Spot’s ability to throw a punch through another dimension?

My original idea was to take the plastic from a blister pack and using a hole punch, make two identical circles, then glue these to the stump on the Silver Surfer figure and the fist from the Hydra figure.

Whilst I did do this, creating a stand for the ‘floating’ fist proved somewhat challenging, so I had a bit of a rethink.

So, I had some transparent shafts from flight stands, but in order for it to be the right length so the fist was at the right height, this needed to be cut down. I then glued this to a 1 pence piece, then filed a groove in the top of the shaft.

The  reason for this was that I’d decided to replace my initial plastic discs with two small black buttons from the sewing box. I glued the spare fist to one of these, then glued it into the groove.

It was then just a case of adding Milliput to the base, texturing this and then filling in the holes in the button.

So we ended up with this;

The Silver Surfer was cut from his flying stand, then cut from his board. I then reduced the part he was standing on to two platforms under his feet. After filing these down, the figure was glued to a 2 pence piece and the base built up using Milliput.

After texturing the bases, the second button was glued to his forearm and the holes in the button filled.

And this is how this part turned out;

So, the idea is that the Spot punches through one of his ‘spots’ and his fist comes out of another one, which as this  on a separate base, means I can position this wherever I like – like so;

Obviously, I didn’t realise the button attached to the main body was at an angle until I’d put them together. However, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Once these are painted up in the matching colours, it should be more obvious that they are part of the same figure.

I think it works, but until it’s done, we won’t know for sure.

So, that’s my current progress. Be sure to check out the other participants;

Roger at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table is doing Captain Kremmen and crew, Simon at Fantorical is doing character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed Rainbow Boy and is intending on doing a further character, whilst Dave is working on the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and Matt has yet to post anything, but is beavering away behind the scenes on his entry.

That’s all for this time, but join me next time when hopefully you’ll have spits before your eyes…

Redo From Start…

Sometimes, the best laid plans go awry…

I’d set aside some time Saturday night to crack on with my entry for this year’s Forgotten Heroes challenge, prepared all the bits I needed, with only my donor figure needing stripping of the various layers of paint that had been applied.

This did not go well. Having attacked the figure with various cleaning agents and tools, after an hour or so scrubbing the little git, I was left with a figure still caked with so much paint that you could hardly see any of the detail. So, after much cursing, I consigned him to the bin and then spent another hour or so searching through every box that possibly contained donor figures, which meant a visit to my garage and clambering around in the Aladdin’s Cave of Crap that I call my loft.

I could only find two figures which had possibilities, the first of which is this;

A 30mm figure of a “Steampunk female” from a game called Kaosball, which I bought a couple of years ago from Tritex Games at Salute. This is my “back-up” figure, which should my other cunning plan not work, will be painted up as Harley Quinn, as the outfit does resemble the one she wore in the Arkham Knight video game.

However, Harley is a little too… cool for Forgotten Heroes, as I generally try to do obscure (i.e. crap) characters.

The only other full donor figure I had was spare HeroScape Silver Surfer, as who needs two?

So, if we clip him off his flying stand and reduce his board down so that it fits on a 25 mm base, what can we do with him? If you ignore the coloring, he’s a generic, bald-headed chap in form-fitting costume.

My initial thought was to add some putty to his face to smooth it down a bit and make him into Lightmaster;

But, given what those who’ve posted this year so far have done AND taking into account that I did a blinding M.O.D.O.K. last year, I needed something a bit… more.

So, my revised entry will be the obscure Marvel supervillain, the Spot:

First appearing in Spectacular Spider-Man #97, Dr Jonathan Ohnn did not become the Spot until the following issue. He was attempting to replicate Cloak’s powers on behalf of the Kingpin, but ended up being able to generate “spots” that traversed another dimension, enabling him to attack at distance, as shown in the image above.

Now, rather than just repaint my spare Silver Surfer as the Spot, I’m going to attempt to replicate his ability to punch at a distance, by lopping off his right forearm and creating a separate base with his fist coming out of a “spot.”

Now, as the Silver Surfer is not actually punching, I needed a clenched fist, so I elected to take this from the figure below;

“Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!”

As he’s Hydra, it will supposedly grow back – not sure the Hydra goons actually believe that, of course.

Anyway, that’s my new plan.

regarding the others taking part, Roger at Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has made serious inroads into Captain Kremmen and his crew, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging has posted his first creation, Rainbow Boy, with more to come and Simon at Fantorical will be painting up some 3D-printed versions of his own creations from his Time’s Rambler graphic novels. Matt from PM Painting and Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog are taking part this year too and I’m sure we’ll see something from them soon.

I mean, I can hardly talk – all I’ve done is tell you what I’m going to do. All because of fucking stubborn paint that won’t come off… *sigh*

Forgotten Heroes 2022

I can’t quite believe that this is the seventh year running that I have hosted this month-long “community art project”, but it’s back again this year, giving you all the opportunity to create that unique figure of a character who has been overlooked by the manufacturers.

That’s right, it’s time for Forgotten Heroes!

For those of you new to Forgotten Heroes, here are the rules, such as they are…

During the month of June, you need to produce a figure of a character who has yet to have either an official or unofficial character made of them yet or create your own version of character that matches your  vision of what that character should look like. Any scale, any genre, the choice is yours.

This can as simple as repainting an existing figure as a different character, such as repainting a Heroclix Blue Beetle as the obscure Marvel villain Goldbug, or converting an existing figure into something new, like re-purposing a Games Workshop Imperial Commissar as Marshal Law. Alternatively, you could create a figure from scratch, if your sculpting skills are up to it.

If you wish to take part, all you need do is comment on this post, stating you’d like to take part and providing a link to your blog or wherever you’ll be posting your progress. Your first post should inform us of the character you will be attempting to create, preferably with reference photos, so we know what you’ll be aiming for.

I’ll create a blogroll here, so we know who’s taking part and what they’ll be working towards.

So far, Simon from Fantorical Wargaming has thrown his hat into the ring, along with Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table and Dave from Wargamesculptors Blog.

But as it’s literally just been launched, there’s still time to join in, so let me know if you want to join us and I’ll add your blog to the list.

Now, not being as organised as previous years, I had to rummage through my box of figures to see what I had that could be repurposed for this year’s challenge. Luckily, I had a figure that had previously been rebased and painted, but didn’t really work for me, so got put to one side. However, I now have an idea and a purpose for this figure, so he will be stripped of his crappy paint-job and converted.

The base figure is the Dreamblade Knight of Tomorrow:

And the character I am intending on converting this in to? The Marvel hero/villain (depending on your point of view)… The Crimson Dynamo!

The Crimson Dynamo was Russia’s answer to Iron Man, and first appeared in Tale of Suspense #46 in October 1963, created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.

Over the years, just with the various iterations of the Iron Man armour, there have been 12 different suits, the only unifying feature being the name and that it’s mainly red in coloration.

So, that gives me free rein to create my own version, taking elements from all the previous versions and hopefully creating something that is familiar enough that people will realise who it’s supposed to represent.

My initial thoughts regarding my base figure is that he requires a head swap, removal of his staff and ridged shoulder pads, similar to the picture above. I’m also contemplating adding a chest piece in the shape of a star, similar to the version below:

We shall have to see how successful I am.

Forgotten Heroes Assemble!

Monster May(hem): The Last Straw…

I’ll have to admit, I was getting a little concerned that I wasn’t going to get my “monster” completed before the end of May.

I’d sat down, fully intending on making some in-roads into everything I’d previously started, then discovered that the reading glasses I use for detail painting had snapped, meaning I couldn’t use them.

My mother-in-law had given me one of those magnifier headsets, with removable lenses, so I thought this would be an ideal time to try them out…

Shouldn’t have bothered. For something supposedly designed for this exact purpose, they were remarkably crap. The lenses are too small, so you’re almost cross-eyed using them and whilst they are standard magnifications, I couldn’t find one that met my needs. I ended up going out and buying a cheap pair of 3.5 magnification reading glasses for 99p – whichnis what I should have done in the first place.

So, the only thing I’d managed to do during this debacle was give the figure and base an undercoat of Docrafts Linen.

As this is pale yellowy-white, I thought it would give me a head start on making it look like straw.

I then lined up my yellow and brown paints to see what would be the best colour to go for next. I ended up using an ancient pot of GW Swamp Brown, which is more yellow than brown.

And now we were cooking with gas!

The next stage wad to provide some depth, with a wash of brown. Viewing various images of hay bales online, I decided that probably Docrafts Chocolate Brown would be the best option, so a watery solution of this was mixed, then liberally applied to the model. I also used the same colour, but unwatered, to paint the muddy base.

Looking at the model, I thought it looked a little one note, so went back online to se how others had painted it. Unsurprisingly, the first one that came up was the one from Crooked Dice’s website, followed by one on Brummie’s Wargaming blog and Simon’s version at Fantorical.

Looking at all three, I noted that both CD’s and Simon’s had varigations in the painting, which upon closer inspection of both the pictures and the model itself, I realised were actually branches/sticks lashed into it’s body. Looking at the brown paint I had, I decided they were a bit too brown, so mixed some Chocolate Brown with some Docrafts Dark Grey until I had a colour I was happy with. All the ‘sticks’ were then painted and some of the bindings given a highlight of Linen.

As I wanted the eyes of the Straw Man to look as though they were glowing, I filled the cavities with a generous wash of GW Mithril Silver, followed by a coat of GW Bogey Green, which I also used to touch up the straw round the eye holes, to look as if the light was reflecting from within.

I then turned my attention to the base, giving the broken planks another coat of Linen, then washed the mud part of tge base with Docrafts Burnt Ochre. The planks then got a wash of mid-grey, as wood tends to go this colour if left untreated and then weathered.

I was almost going to call it done, but something was niggling at me. If you’ve ever been to a farm or anywhere that has hay or straw, it doesn’t matter how well bound it is, you always get stray strands scattered about. That’s what was missing.

Luckily, the sewing tin had a reel of cotton the right colour, so several lengths were cut, then PVA painted around the figure’s feet. I then sprinkled these about, adjusting where necessary, until it looked right.

I think it adds a little something.

So, Monster May(hem) done and with time to spare. As I had to wait for the figure to dry, I decided to crack on with AND finish my Action Man-inspired figures.

First, the finally completed Bulletman;

Next, Atomic Man;

And yes, he does have the silver piping on his sleeves;

And finally, what was originally a HeroQuest plastic Fimir, but with a little Carrion Crow magic, is now The Intruder- “Action Man’s Greatest Enemy”;

And as the three above are “Forgotten Heroes” this leads nicely into the announcement for this year’s ‘community art project.’

For those who are not aware of what this is… where have you been? We’ve only been doing this every year since 2016!

Joking aside, if you’ve not taken part before, the “rules” are simple:-

During the month of June, you must produce a recognisable figure of a character that has either not had an official or unofficial figure made of them or has, but you want your own version.

Any scale, any genre – your choice. You want to paint up a GW Imperial Commissar as Marshal Law? Go ahead! You want to sculpt the ultimate version of Venom? Go for it! You want to use a discarded Hulk action figure head to make a 28mm version of M.O.D.O.K.? Um… I may have beaten you to it…

If you want to take part, just drop a comment on here and I’ll add you to the blogroll. Your first post should introduce the character, as if it’s a touch obscure (like when I did Bananaman) people may not know who it is.

Any questions regarding this, feel free to ask. At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun, so no need to take it too seriously and, if you do rake part, at the end of June, you’ll have a unique figure that no one else has.

Roll on Forgotten Heroes 2022!

A Brief Diversion to a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Waaaaaay back in May last year, I backed my first Kickstarter, details of which can be found in this post.

It was supposed to ship around September 2021, but various issues led to delays, but finally my pledge arrived last Monday! Yay!

However, I wasn’t in when the postie turned up, so had to wait until last night to collect my goodies. I pledged £30 ($40) for a squad of 28mm Astroguards cast in white metal, which would have been 8 Astroguards, so £3.75 a figure. However, due to the success of the campaign, I ended up with the bonus add-ons, so ended up with 22 figures, which works out as £1.36 a figure. Result!

Here is the Astroguard squad, with two female Astroguards swapped out for the duplicate sculpts from the original squad, along with two of the bonus figures, armed with heavy weapons – a light repeating laser on the left and a meson blaster on the left.

They kind of remind me of the cloud car pilots from The Empire Strikes Back, so I may very well paint them to resemble that uniform.

Next, more bonus figures. These are, left to right, top to bottom, “cantina celebration” aka party walrus-man, Gary, Beefhead Elder, Rod Roebuck, Space Cadet, Ensign Packman and Man Hunter.

Obviously, you can see these were inspired by Star Wars, Star Trek and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but all will join my Distant Stars project.

Finally, we have the droids…er…bots. A Power Bot at the top, with a selection of arms and four Scouter Bots, all with a different head. I may add the two spare arms to one of the Scouter Bots, if I feel inclined.

Nice clean sculpts, although some flash on a couple of the figures, but nothing major. Strangely, they were supplied with 20mm slotta bases, rather than 25mm, which is fine for the Bots, but look too small for the others, so these may have to get swapped out.

These were just the figures from the basic pledge, so there are more in the range. Should you be interested in getting some for yourself, this is what the Kickstarter page has to say;

“Missed the campaign? Don’t worry, there’s still an opportunity to pick up figures from the Star Schlock Astroguards Kickstarter. 

Visit starschlock.com for info!

That’s all for this brief diversion, as I still have a giant made from Shredded Wheat to paint up before the end of the month – then we’re in to Forgotten Heroes territory!

God knows what I’m going to do for that… I’m not quite as organised as I was last year. I have a vague idea, but we’ll have to see if if will work.

Monster May(hem): Lost in the Mists

I can’t quite believe that I haven’t posted on here since March…

Whilst what time I did have spare has been used for hobby-related pursuits, it’s not been miniature-based and not really stuff that could be posted about.

And no, Keith, I’ve not been battling sky-pirates on Barsoom, clad in an outfit that would put Sean Connery to shame…

I was actually scooped up by the Mists of Ravenloft and have been spending my time negotiating the tangled history of the Demiplane of Dread, in order to make some sense of it…

In other words, I finally got my arse in gear to start typing up my revised version of this setting for AD&D Second Edition, picking and choosing the bits I liked from the setting (supplemented with fan-created content from The Fraternity of Shadows website) and revising those Darklords that I thought were a bit weak or incomplete.

Obviously, this is a pretty major undertaking and one that I’ve been planning on doing for a while (although some of my musings on revised Domains is available on the Café du Nuit forum on the Fraternity’s website, should anyone be at all interested – the Crow flies to many places…).

Anyway, as June is looming ever closer, which means Forgotten Heroes is on the horizon (yes, it will be back again this year), I needed to get my hand back in, so decided to take part in Keith’s annual Monster May(hem). So naturally, I needed a monster.

As the “Straw God” is actually a creature in Children of the Night: Demons, a fan-created netbook available at the Secrets of the Kargatane website and I happened to have the below languishing in a box, I decided to combine the two:

So, first order of the day was to plaster the base with Milliput, texture this with a rolled up bit of tinfoil, then jam the figure’s feet into this to set. I then attempted to attach the arms, initially with Milliput (didn’t work, as would have required me to sit there holding it in place for far too long), then Loctite Multi-Purpose Strong Adhesive. The latter is, quite frankly, rubbish – unless you want to cover your model in stringy bits of glue that stick to everything, but fail to stick together what you actually need it to.

So, we went with the old faithful – Wilko’s own brand ‘power bond adhesive’, which is the cheaper equivalent of No More Nails. I should really use this first, as I always end of using it and it works… Seriously, forget your expensive superglues in their tiny tubes – get some of this stuff. Squeeze a little out on to a spatula and spread as you please. Sets pretty quickly and as it’s designed to attach skirting boards to walls, etc. it’s pretty damn strong. And you get 300g for £2.60, which is cheaper than a 20g tube of superglue. It’s a no-brainer really…

Anyway, the base was looking a little empty, so some suitably snapped coffee stirrers and cook’s matches were snapped and distributed to reprsent broken fencing and we had a figure almost ready for painting;

However, I do have a plastic box somewhere which has some small white plastic birds, suitable for either pigeons or crows depending on how they are painted, which were from a model railway site. The idea is to add one or two of these as ‘crows’ to either the base or perched on his head and/or shoulder, but I couldn’t remember where the box was…

So, I may not have set the bar particularly high for myself (compared to others taking part), but I’m hoping that I will end up with a cool model that I’ll be able to use in my upcoming Ravenloft games… just don’t tell my players.

That’s all for this post, but rest assured I will be posting a little more regularly over the next couple of months.

The Lord of Menadine

I was first exposed to fantasy fiction when I lived in Kuwait, with the limited library the school had having a single copy of Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis. This opened my eyes to the fact that there was a whole World of fiction out there that catered to a young boy who was more interested in the fantastical than the mundane.

When we returned to the UK, my uncle lent me with his battered paperback copy of The Lord of the Rings, advising that I should read it, so I did, reading it under the covers when I probably should have been going to sleep.

I have recently reconnected with my uncle, as for many years, influenced by my mother’s opinion of him, I only sent birthday and Christmas cards. However, whilst my uncle is quite outspoken with his views, he is not as black as my mother painted him and as we share similar sensibilities, so I reached out and have been corresponding with him ever since.

Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with hobby stuff, but I shall explain. Since 1969 (the year of my birth) my uncle has styled himself as Adrian, Lord of Menadine, with all his letters bearing the legend O. L. A. S., which stands for ‘On Lord Adrian’s Service’. This persona of his is a warrior king, lord of the trees and has appeared in paintings (as he is an artist) accompanied by elves and dwarves, as I believe that Menadine exists, at least in my mind, somewhere in Middle Earth.

Now, due to my hobby leanings, I thought that it would be nice to create a custom miniature of Adrian, Lord of Menadine and send it to him, so suggested this to him. He liked the idea and decided to send me some reference pictures from his years as the Lord of Menadine, as he has accumulated various items of apparel and weaponry to realise this persona of his.

(I also remember seeing black and white pictures of him dressed as a Cavalier, complete with basket-hilt Claymore, taken at Hampton Court. Not because he was part of the staff, but because he wanted pictures taken with the appropriate backdrop for his costume. I guess that at the time, tourists would have assumed he was part of the experience, as this was long before you’d regularly see Anime characters on the London Underground, heading for Comicon…)

So, having got the necessary reference pictures, including one showing the emblem of Menadine, a phoenix rising from the flames, I searched through my figures to see if I could find a suitable donor figure and chose this:

This is Thorgrim, the Viking Champion from the original Heroscape boxed set. As my uncle does sport a beard, I thought this the best fit, although it did need some adjustments…

I first cut off the wings, like so…

Then I reshaped the helmet to make it less fussy and removed the sticker from the kite shield, so as to give a blank canvas for my attempt at recreating the emblem of Menadine. The figure was removed from the base, a drawing pin fixed underneath and the base covered in fine sand to give it some texture. Once this was dry, the figure was then reattached to the base, with the spike of the pin going up inside his right leg.

I then got out out my paints and started to add some colour;

Whilst I was painting for a while, as I had to wait in between coats for the figure to dry, other figures got a lick of paint too, with all my Chainrasp Wraiths being undercoated and some additional work done on my Action Man inspired figures – which I failed to take an pictures of…

As I’ve not been active hobby-wise for a while, I’d forgotten how cathartic sitting quietly and painting can actually be, so hopefully I’ll be a little more active going forward.

And before anyone suggests it (I’m looking at you, Keith), the reason I haven’t been active on here isn’t because I’ve been sojourning on Barsoom, as evidenced by my lack of tan. I have been chronicling Alexander Crowe’s attempts to prevent reality being overwritten in the novel I’m attempting to write, which I mentioned back in this post. It’s currently sitting at 127 pages, which is the longest continuous narrative I’ve managed, and as I have yet to suffer writer’s block, should continue until it’s done.

Of course, having spent so long with these characters, I now want to know what happens to them after this tale is done, so a sequel may be in the offing.

And this was in the face of someone saying to me recently “There’s no point in you trying to write a book, as you’re not as good as you think you are and you’re too old to get published.”

Given that this person has NOT actually read a single word I’ve ever written AND that everyone who has read it so far has both enjoyed it and wants to know what happens next, I think we can safely disregard their opinion.

Right, that’s all for this time. Next time more Lord of Menadine, hopefully with some of the reference photos, so we can see how close I’ve got to the real thing…