Thursday, 1 June 2017

Giant Slayer

I'm hoping to take part in the suicidal Giant slaying slugfest at BOYL this year. Only problem is, I only have a few of the vertically challenged fellows in my lead collection, just a handful, but I'd never painted one of them up. So, I dug out this Chaos Dwarf and set to work. I also pulled out my old shield design sheet too and had another crack at "painting" them.

Here he be!

Smiling or grimacing? Hard to tell.

I "think" the shield works.

The red skirt looks a bit like a dress I'll admit, but I wouldn't want to point that out to him to his face. 

And here's my old project, ready for another outing:

I just picked one and attacked it with a blue fineliner.

Inks & paint just bleed into the paper. I'm still trying
 to figure out how to get the best out of them actually. 

I banged this guy out in about an hour. They're damn easy to paint up dwarfs, not much on them at all! I hope he lasts more than one round of combat with the big fella at BOYL though. Still gotta come up with a name for him'll be something inappropriate, don't worry :)


Friday, 26 May 2017

Eldar Space Pirates done & dusted.

As part of my preparations for BOYL this year I needed to come up with a gang/warband for a game of Shadow Wars Armageddon (aka Necromunda) at Warhammer World. I wanted to use something oldschool, but I wasn't too sure about which race to go with. Then I remembered my languishing Eldar contingent that I'd shelved for over year. They'd fit the bill nicely I thought :)

If you've not been following me for very long, or have completely forgotten what I did over a year ago, then take a look at these old links to see where it all began part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Ok, enough chit chat, roll on miniature porn!!!!!

Obligatory group shot, eighteen of the trouble makers in all.

Here's the first of the Eldar that I converted last year.

Here's a picture of their arses.

The original minis that they were converted from.

Artillery spotters converted into active members of the squad.

Bumb shot.

Carrying boom boxes into battle is the only way to kill & maim in style.....or so I've been told.

The next guys to get the chop treatment.

The guy on the right is about ready to torch his pal I think.

Leader & Harlequin....a bit out of focus, but you get the idea.

The rest of the ne'er-do-wells.

One of my favourite Eldar mini's in the range.

Burn baby burn!!!!!!!

And who can forget Las-cannon guy? A cool looking dude, just chillin.

 Ready to fuck someone up with his boom stick if the need arises. 

For a bit of the back story to the colour scheme I chose for these guys, I wanted to do something very different than the normal black armour, yellow helmet, black stripes shtick. I had recently been watching some nature doco's with my son and in it they showed a few of those poison dart frogs, and I thought viola! They've got some crazy, interesting and 80's style camo going on. So after the show I went online to find a suitable frog to steal his skin design from. These are the two that piqued my interest the most in my search:

Really deep blue base colour, black blotchy patterned markings of varying sizes, encased in a bright blue halo. Sexy beast!

This last one was really interesting too. I liked the deep red top half of it's body, which bled down into its blue abdomen.

After having a think about the practicality of trying to replicate one of these two two designs with a paint brush, I decided on a bit of a compromise. I would use the red head of the last one & the deep blue from the body of the first frog, but without camo. I realised that it wouldn't work in 28mm. You may not be aware of this little painting conundrum, but shrinking real life, effective camo down to our scale just works too damn well. It works so damn well that it just ends up hiding all of the nice physical elements of the sculpt. So I dropped the camo idea...even though it looks ace on the frog.

During my my painting journey my son commented that they were looking a lot like Spiderman. He was right, I knew I had to change some element about him lest I bear the derision of my friends for the rest of my natural life. That's how I came up with the bright green stripe pattern on their helmets. Not even remotely similar to that super hero I hope.....did I pull it off?

Ok, waffle ended :)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Playing with brown waste.

Please note:  This blog post is quite long, and as such, has the distinct possibility of boring the average human to death. If you have an extremely short attention span and/or find long blog posts akin to the experience of dying or physical/mental torture then you might want to skip've been warned.

The topic for today's blog post is: Turning molded pulp packaging into wargame terrain.

You know what I'm talking about don't you? They come in just about everything you buy (or steal? I won't judge) that contains electrical goods. Bizarrely shaped structures, made from recycled cardboard pulp, used to support said electrical items during transit. Still confused? Ahhh, I give up.....just look at the pic below, it's probably a lot clearer that my rambling anyway.

This stuff!

Know what I'm on about now? If not, too bad. Proceed blindly!

Now generally, most wargamers use these cardboard constructions as is, without much embellishment. Usually as desert structures, or Sci-fi buildings, with the addition of a few gubbins to spice them up a bit beforehand. In both of these roles they look OK, they cut the mustard on the tabletop just fine. But, I like to make my life difficult don't I, their just not good enough for me....corners are too rounded, details very soft.

For me, the best part of these packages is on the inside. There's a lot more detail internally, and in a Sci-fi role, harder edges are more desirable. The problem in my mind though has always been, how to get the the negative shape and detail into a positive mold....cheaply? After all, If I wanted cool looking buildings on my tabletop then I could easily go and buy a selection online. We're pretty spoilt for choice nowadays. It's just a question of how deep your pockets are. Mine aren't very deep at all, and besides, I like a challenge :)

Rounded edges and no detail.

But look at that beautiful stuff on the inside though!

I tried a few different ways to try to accomplish my goal, all of them failures to varying degrees. But I thought it'd be more informative if I showed you all the ways that didn't work for me, as opposed to my success, so you'll know what not try if you ever want to go down this path.

List of shame:

No 1: Expand-a-foam. I coated the inside of the package with Vaseline and then sprayed the foam inside. But even though I was thorough in my application of the Vaseline, it still stuck to the cardboard in a few places! That stuffs damn near impossible to prevent from sticking to things you don't want it too. But that wasn't the worst of it, even after I had left it to cure inside the package for an inordinate amount of time, upon removal it still expanded some more. As soon as I managed to pry the bastard out it grew about 20% more FAIL.

No 2: Fibreglass resin. I applied this to the inside, but this didn't work well either, as it wouldn't cure in a uniform thickness. Oscillating the packaging while it cured, to try to get it to settle evenly, just resulted in it setting into a thick, non-uniform jelly in a matter of seconds. It's not really designed to be disturbed while curing. FAIL.

No 3: Adding tissue paper as a binding element with the fibreglass resin. This solved the uniformity issue, but introduced another problem i.e. the resin wouldn't flow into the details of the packaging, preferring to soak into the tissue instead. It was also a pain to work with too, the tissue paper kept tearing when I was trying to work it into the crevices of the mold. FAIL.

No 4: Kids clay-foam. It's light, air hardens, easy to work with and is quite inexpensive. Below is a few pics of my attempt:

Sexy package no!

Worked the foam-clay into all the recesses.

But then getting the bugger out proved a tad difficult. Some of the foam-clay had adhered to the cardboard....Damn! 

So, I used some water to try to soften the cardboard. Mistake! It made the foam-clay go soft too. FAIL!

Ok, so here endeth the list of total failures. Next is the partial failure, on the road to imminent success!

Partial shame:

While out shopping I came across some ready mixed Paper Mache'. I'd seen this used to make wargame buildings before, when Brian Roe of Roebeast fame posted a pretty cool tutorial about how he uses the stuff. The main difference between what he was doing & what I wanted to achieve was obviously the packaging type. Brian uses plastic containers, whereas I wanted to try and get the same sort of results with cardboard pulp containers instead.

I'm not sure why this idea never dawned on me before? Maybe I'm just dumb? The probability is quite high.

But while I was trying to figure out how to seal the interior of the package without Vaseline, which I never liked using actually, because of the fear that it might effect the painting process later....if I was ever lucky enough to get it to that stage that is. So, I decided to try and paint the interior with a few coats of cheap arse gloss enamel. It took about four or five I think because the cardboard kept soaking it up. But once it started to develop a sheen then I knew it was done.

Another step I took this time which I had neglected to do in all of my other previous attempts was to bolster the sides with thick cardboard. I did this with the hope that it would prevent the sides warping during the application of the Paper Mache'. I attached these cardboard strips onto the package with hot glue. Below is the bloody obvious process, immortalised on the internets for evaaaaa!!!!

Step one. Paying attention?

Followed by? You guessed it, Step two! Better not warp ya bastard!

A bag of coke Paper Mache' and a painted up, bolstered "mold" ready to go.

After that excruciatingly difficult process I then laid into it with the paper mache'. This was a rather simple process, which I wont go into detail about as it's just paper mache' for Christ's sake! After I had coated the interior surface with approx 5mm of the stuff I put it outside to dry for a day.

After a day drying out.

Upon closer inspection cracks had started to appear internally.....wasn't boding well.

A day later and it was still soft, so I put it in the freezer (as recommended by Roebeast) for a few hours. Once it was frozen solid I removed it from the freezer and went about cutting the cardboard off. I had to repeat the freezing process a few times as it began to "melt" a bit, I live in a tropical country you see.

Once the cardboard had been completely removed I put it outside to dry again, but it didn't. I think I left it out there for a few days in the blazing sunlight, but it just wouldn't harden up (insert dick joke here). So, becoming quite impatient at this lack of progress I bunged it in the oven at about 50-60c for the entire day! My wife was away OS so I could get away with this step. But it STILL wouldn't dry out! To make matters worse it also began to crumble, because it was still too soft to hold it's own weight....Arrrhhhhhhh!!!!!! :(

At this stage I was just about to throw in the towel on this project. It looked like an impossible task. But as you can tell by this rather lengthy blog post that I'm nothing short of dogged when I have an idea in mind. I decided to try and rescue it by spraying expandable foam inside to "glue" it together. It sort of worked, but this example has, in my estimation, failed. I think I'll try and make it into a blown up building. It certainly has the realistic look of one!

Some would call this rubbish, their mostly right.

After all that experimentation, disappointment and failure you'd think I'd be ready to chuck in the towel now wouldn't you. But what's that saying again? "You only learn from your mistakes"? Well, if that is the case then I'm a fucking university professor on this subject! I've got one more idea I wanna try before I call it quits.

I'm going to skip the normal way of making Paper Mache' with water and use Fibreglass resin as the liquid binder instead. This will hopefully address two of the issues I'm having with it i.e. the drying time and strength. In the first case the Fibreglass resin will cure regardless of thickness and climate. And secondly, the resin infused, paper mache' mix should be tough as nails.

Hopefully this last iteration will work a treat, stay tuned for the next update on "Playing with brown waste" :)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Wargaming, blah blah blah.

I've got nothing to show you, toy wise, so I thought I'd sprout a bit of verbal diarrhoea at you instead. Sit still, while I fling this in your general direction!

I've been on the hunt, unconsciously and/or consciously, for the perfect rule system all of my gaming life I reckon. The wargames that I've come across in the past (that I've liked enough to want to play that is) have only ever catered to one game mechanic really well, while failing, or butchering the rest. And while I've not found the perfect system yet, I've been more than happy enough just playing with the closest to perfect system instead. I can't be the only one who thinks this way. Or am I? Maybe I am? Read on if you want to learn more about my possibly solo delusion.

My main problem with rule systems (to date) is that there are generally two types. Ones that have a whole a huge tome that you have to plough through to know how to play the game, lots of tables, stats and other game critical information spread throughout. But the tabletop only ever contains the "playing material" i.e. the minis, terrain etcetera. An example of this would be RT or WFB. The second type, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite. A paper thin rulebook, with straight forward rules, and maybe a small reference sheet. But the tabletop is covered in a shit tonne of counters, as well as the minis! Just to keep track of everything i.e. Stargrunts II.

And while enjoy playing the above mentioned wargames, their less than ideal. Their just missing a few key elements that would making them the perfect game system for me i.e. no counters on the table & intuitive rules.

Pulp Alley is one rule system I tried a few years ago that promised to address some of the problems I mentioned. The weapons and combat mechanics had been simplified, in a good way, but the rest? Not so much;

I'm not a fan of their card system as it replaces much of the skill element I like in a game with too much randomness instead. Card systems are fine if they introduce "some" randomness to a game, but not when they play a critical role in deciding the outcome of the game. If my input is not really having any meaningful impact upon what's transpiring, then what's the point in playing? Might as well be playing Snake & Ladders.

The objective locations are a little meh :( It's nigh impossible to come up with unique objective locations every single game, so they just end up becoming same same.

The almost impossible chance of killing head honchos is pretty annoying too. And yes, before you say it, I know it's a game of pulp, but it just ends up feeling like your efforts are pretty useless sometimes. The big guys manage to elude death time after time, head shot after head shot.....bloody infuriating!

So, where am I now then? In my search for the ultimate system, my holy grail of gaming? Well, I've given up on finding it in print that's for sure. So I'm in the process of melding/shoehorning what I think are the best elements, in my limited experience, of what I've played into one system. I'm erring more with Stargrunts II to tell you the truth. It has an ace dice system that takes care of many different mechanics i.e. ranges, troop quality, injuries, cover's quite snazzy really!  But it's proving to be quite a difficult task to coming up with a way of separating the squad element of the game into that of an individual character system instead. More work required :(

Well, that's enough rambling from Mr Papafakis for now. I've got a lot of other gaming related projects that require my immediate attention. Till next time brothers :)

Sunday, 2 April 2017

"Yes, but will it fly Jim?"

Strange title, but bear with me :)

About a year ago my son handed me one of his toy guns and asked me to fix it."Of course I will my son, what else am I here for?" I said :P

So, after stripping it down and having good look at it I soon realised that it was too far gone. All the internals were worn out from all the pretend combat that it had seen. Time for the bin I thought? But wait, hang on a minute! On closer inspection, with my miserly kitbashing goggles firmly fixed in place, I spied a "space-shippy" kinda thing hidden within the shape of the gun.

And this is where my journey began, almost a year ago. I've been plugging away at this, on and off, while completing other projects. Want to know more? Read on.......

Ooooooh, I can see a spaceship in there, I just know it.

With a bit of hamfisted photo editing magic, this is what I came up with.

So, out came the butchering modelling tools and I set to work.

These sections were going to be used as the landing gear hatches.

I wanted the body of the ship to be much wider than the engine pod.

So, I spaced all the screws holes out with plastic tube. And installed longer screws to compensate.

The top handle for the gun got transformed into a window, ala cardboard backed up with plastic for proper alignment.

Next up was the engine pod. I fixed a plastic tube along the entire length of it.

Then I added a plastic shower rail section into the body of the Spaceship. This had the exact I.D. of the engine pods pipe O.D. 

Starting to make sense now? The engine pod fucks the spaceship but good!

After that mechanical sexual encounter was over, this is what the Spaceship looks like.

Next up was the landing gear. the trickiest part of the build I must say. Trying to find something that would have the right
geometry, as well as the required strength, was quite a task.

In the end, I opted for a set of quad-copter landing legs. Cheap, strong,
cheap, having the right geometry.......and cheap. 

Here's the ugly fuckers in place.

And here's me trying to figure out the correct angles for the entry hatch.

Getting there.

It was at this point that I took another look at the silhouette of the ship. It wasn't really "doing it" for me. The engine pod was looking too long, basically not bad arse enough for my liking. So, after all that work, getting it to mate up perfectly to the ship, I decided to go back to the drawing board.

I wanted something a little more subtle. A smaller, more rudimentary engine arrangement.

So I dug out these old toy bongo drums and set to work.

And I came up with this. Nothing too flashy, just an engine way too big to be technically sort of RT :) 

Coat hangers, speaker wire and toy bits were sacrificed at the kitbashing alter.

A yo-yo, plastic cup and a pen lid channel the thrust of this engine.....pretend like.

This is how I joined the wire together to fill in the empty spaces in the engine compartment. Hot glue to the rescue! 

I filled in the spaces between the two halves of the ship with old public transport cards, as you do.

Then I used body filler to fill in the spaces to the correct height.

Another tough part of the build, bulking out the legs. Their not finished yet, but you get the general idea :)

Remember the hatch angles I was playing with before? Well, this is the hatch at the moment. Gunna magnetise it I think.

So, this is the "used to be a gun, but now a spaceship" project as it stands today.

Next up is the landing gear bay doors, entry hatch, front window, a couple of turrets and a few other bits and bobs.

Stay frosty :)