Saturday, March 18, 2017

Storage Solutions

[RPG fans: Don't forget that I have a stand-alone RPG blog! I've been putting up a few new posts lately. Some are reposts from when I did RPG blogging on this blog, but there's also new content to check out. Please do so!]

One could say that I've painted a few minis, but I was never too satisfied with how I was storing them. I have a few drawer sets atop my painting table, including a mini hardware set of the sort intended to store screws and washers and things like that. It stores most of my 1 inch high minis quite well, and each set can live in its own somewhat portable drawer, but I have a few problems with this system. For one, it's not a display solution; it hides my completed projects instead of showing them off. More importantly, these drawers aren't at all airtight. That's not a problem for bolts and nails, but for minis it means they get quite dusty. So over the past year I've been leaning toward a better way.

Let's start with my new approach to storage trays.

Special points if you know what you're looking at. It's an Arcane Legions movement tray, of the sort that I've accrued in a plethora. I cut and superglued a bit of magnetic sheeting to fit, the kind designed to let you print your own refrigerator magnets. The magnet is strong enough to keep my metal washer bases in place so long as they aren't rocked too hard. I can even turn some of my lighter figures upside-down and have them stick for a bit. This way I can keep my little troops together and move them all at once.

But I still needed a place to put them all.

It's an Ikea display case, dubbed a Hemnes, to be specific. It was actually a Father's Day present from last year that I managed to finally build in the fall. It's a very nice piece, though I admit that the price tag is not exactly consistent with the Cheap Fantasy Minis ethos. I considered the cheaper Detolf that is often mentioned for mini storage, but while I liked the unobstructed all-glass look, it has a number of gaps on the edges and is not at all air-tight. If I wanted a dust-free solution, I had to splurge a bit. I'd like to upgrade with a Dioder lighting kit, and possibly some more shelves, but it looks pretty good for now.

Let's see how everything looks up close. Sorry for the intense flash on these.

Ranks of little troopers.

A mass of larger beasts.

My small but growing collection of stony terrain.
Regular CFM readers may realize that the three above shots do not represent everything I have painted. I need to make more magnetic trays and migrate everyone else to their new home. Ironically, that means that all those Arcane Legions movement trays I've collected, which were previously an albatross, are now in hot demand at the 1Mac household. Seriously, if any readers have any they'd like to be rid of, drop me a line!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fountain and Bridge

Here are some terrain pieces I finally finished painting last weekend. The first is a resin fountain by Airfix, first mentioned here.

Sven and Reaper fountain added for comparison.
Painting is done, though I'd like to add some water effects to the basin and fount. Painting was a simple gray basecoat and a few stones painted brown for contrast, with a couple layers of drybrushing and a blackwash to bring out details. Some of my drybrushing was a little coarse, but I'm very pleased with this overall.

Next is a nice bridge kit by Italeri. I think I first read about this kit on Sean's blog, though I can't find the post.

Even though it's marketed as 1/72, it's a pretty big bridge, probably designed for scale vehicles to drive over. It could definitely be used for larger-scale gaming.
The One Inch Guild square off against some pesky goblins for control of a key strategic landmark.
Sven hides from the obligatory bridge troll.
Painting was basically the same as with the fountain, though the drybrushing is even rougher here. The resin fountain had a nice stone texture that was completely absent from the Italeri plastic, so my drybrushing was really a sort of sloppy highlighting. The kit went together pretty well, though I had some issues getting the curved bed to fit in the sides, and the seems on the support bits at the base are pretty obvious. Still, this is an attractive, solid piece of terrain. I've already let my son play with it (while supervised!), and it handles toy cars going over it without a problem. Speaking of, here he is, helping daddy with the basecoat.

Little helper.
P.S. Thanks to those of you who posted comments this month. Sorry they are only going up just now. I only caught them in the "Awaiting Moderation" cue today. I love hearing from my readers, and I'll be more diligent about posting comments in the future.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Alliance Trolls comparison

Slowly getting back into the habit of blogging, starting with some pics of the new Alliance trolls. EY already has a nice review, and new 1/72 fantasy blogger Philotep has a great how-to on painting one of them. My contribution will be this comparison shot with some similar miniatures.

Left to right: a Reaper Bones "Cave Troll," Sven the 1/72 comparison mini, one of the Alliance trolls, a Bones "Mountain Troll," and a Games Workshop "Mines of Moria" troll. These Alliance trolls are big; not as big as some "normal"-scale gaming minis, but big enough to compare favorably. Even if you don't game in 1/72 scale, they're big enough to work, and at 8 figures for ~$10, they're quite a deal. Stylistically they are quite similar to the Mountain Troll, which could serve as an alpha or captain of these Tolkein/Jackson-inspired bigguns.

Here's a quick height comparison with Sven:

And here are the four poses in the set, of which there are two each. From the front:

We gonna stomp your citadel!!
 And from the back:

Oops, wrong citadel.
Flash is a bit of a problem, as is sometimes the case with Red Box/Alliance. The poses are maybe a bit flat (to simplify the molding), but not as much as they could be. And the detail is actually really good; again, check out Philotep's excellent "tabletop" paintjob to see just how nice they can look. That Bones Mountain Troll is clearly a better figure, but it also retails for over $5 (it's metal counterpart is $22!). The dollar-to-quality ratio of the Alliance figures should be very tempting. Good, not great, and on a budget, which is sort of the motto around here!

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year review

Hail, loyal readers! Since 2016 was a bit slack on the new CFM content, and since New Year's is a good time to consider the past and look forward to the future, I thought you all might appreciate knowing what's going on with me hobby-wise.

I've not had as much hobby time recently as I'd like, which I regret. I have an excuse though! I started a new job in the fall, which I love, but which calls for a lot more time than my previous job. Between it and my normal parenting duties, I'd probably still have been able to do more hobby stuff than I was able. The big wrinkle is that before I was even looking for a new job, I also committed to a big freelance project that's still taking a lot of additional time. I probably wouldn't have taken it on if I knew about the new job, but now I'm obligated. Again, I'm happy to do it, but something had to give, and if you can believe it, making and painting tiny figures had to take a back seat.

The good news is that once this freelance project is finally complete, I believe I'll get some balance back in my life that I can dedicate to more hobby time. Hopefully I can get in done in the next few months. In the meantime, I've done a little painting, including these guys. I've also been doing some collecting: I got many of the new Caesar and Alliance fantasy sets in trade that I want to do review/comparison posts for. The same goes for the Battlelore 2nd Edition figures I got when the games were marked down in a recent Cool Stuff Inc. sale.

I've not given up on the hobby and hope to do more posting in the future. So keep an eye on this space! Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

More News! (Alliance trolls, Caesar orcs, mystery Strelets)

Here are a few quick news items to complement my last news post. First, Alliance released previews of their first troll set.

This earlier preview shows that these will be large enough for scales larger than 1/72. They look pretty good, plus 8 large minis for less than the $15 Alliance sets tend to retail for is a really good deal! Now we just need to wait for images of the "balrogs" they promised.

Second! Caesar released these preview shots of their next orc set.

Via Michigan Toy Soldiers.
The heavy blacklining makes the detail look a little exaggerated, but I think these are compatible with Caesar's now sort-of classic set (which now seems OOP). Pretty nifty! The old set was heavy on the primitive-looking orcs; these aren't exactly civilized, but seem to be a better mix of armored and unarmored. Note the chieftan/shaman dude in front.

Last bit of news: As noted in this forum thread, Strelets has a new "campaign" (i.e. historical era) listed on their site. This one is mysteriously called, er, "Mystery." There's nothing there currently, but such a heading invites speculation. The aforementioned thread suggests Strelets may be jumping into fantasy or some other non-historical genre, which seems like a natural conclusion. Of course we'll have to see, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

New Alliance minis!

We've been awaiting these sets for a while, but Redbox just recently put up previews of many of their new sets. Check out the new "Modern Amazons" and "Cimmerians."

The "Modern" part seems to simply mean the opposite of "Ancient" or "Hellenistic," as these have a more generic look that Alliance's previous Amazons. I had half a notion that "Modern" might mean something like "appealing to more modern, edified ideas about women in fantasy;" I think it's safe to say that's not the direction Red Box took the line. These are still pretty heavy on the cheesy, chainmail bikini side of things.

But let's look at the figures:

It's always hard to tell with the low-contrast red that Alliance uses for their preview shots, but the figures are certainly consistent with the battle-stripper look of the box art. They don't seem too egregious, though, and may be adaptable for more sanely dressed female fighters. And I can see that this previewed, super-sensible figure is in the middle of the bottom row of the first set, so maybe they won't be so bad. But I'm not really thinking too much about that now, because holy smoke, unicorns! That's right, the cool Amazon mounts that were previewed ages ago have materialized, and they're more bizarre and wonderful than I expected. Stags! Felines! A gorram dinosaur, for goodness sakes! Here's hoping Redbox puts out an "Amazon mounts" or "Exotic mounts" set, similar to their wargs set. It could see a lot of use for all kinds of modeling beyond fantasy mounts.

Let's move on to the "Cimmerians," Howard-inspired barbarians with a definite Chaos look to them:

The box are features a generous gamut of barbarian archetypes, from bare-chested Conans to horsey steppelords to the bundled-up Viking type in the middle. The figures are similarly variegated.

Two foot sets, unlike just one for the Amazons, presumably because they've already released an Amazon foot set. Again, a mix of shirts and skins here: I actually like this, since more variety means more use from a single set, but they'd certainly make a ragtag unit! Also, lots of horns, spikes, and oversized weapons, perfect for fantasy Chaos warriors. Note the shaman-guy in the bottom left of Set 2.


Normal mounts this time, though unsaddled. Again, pointy bits and crazy arms galore.

So far I like these. The Cimmerians could see a lot of uses in fantasy gaming. The Amazons disappointingly seem once again to be a little heavy on the cheesecake, but the crazy mounts make up for it. I haven't seen them available on Hannants yet, but I look forward to it!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Guards and Bandits and Bondic

No I'm not dead, real life vs. hobby time, etc. Let's move on:

I finally got a chance to take some pics of my next project, these bandits and guards.

The bandits are a mix of Hat's reissued Airfix "Robin Hood" figures and Zvezda's medieval peasant levy. The guards are mostly Caesar medieval soldiers, with a couple Accurate knights (acquired in a trade with Mike) thrown in. Most are out of the box, but I indulged in a few mods.

Fantasy guards are often depicted with polearms and crossbows for some reason, so I tried to select the Caesar figures that were so armed. This only left a few available poses. The answer: headswaps, plus some knifework to remove scabbards and the like for variety.

The bandits didn't need as many mods, but some of them that would otherwise have been wielding scythes and similar peasant weapons got armswaps (a scythe-wielding bandit seemed very strange!). Here you can see my new fascination in use. Normally when doing mods like this, I'd use wood glue to fill any gaps. But lately I've been experimenting with a newish product called Bondic, and I'm pretty happy with it.
Bondic is a non-adhesive bonding agent that's sort of magical. It's a solution with various plastic elements as the solutes. These plastics tend to form a solid, except the solution prevents them from doing so almost indefinitely. Zap the liquid with a UV light (the orange device in the pic above) after applying it with the pen-like tip, though, and the solvent evaporates. [edit: I didn't have this exactly right. See my comment below] The result is a solid mass of plastic in about four seconds where there once was a liquid. Magic!

I've found all sorts of household applications for the stuff, but the relevant use is for filling gaps in modded figures.

I also made up this bard-type figure, using an Imex pioneer figure for the torso (Sean did something similar, but I can't find the post right now).

You can perhaps see that the gaps around the arms of the gray Zvezda figures have some clear plastic around them. The base of the tan Hat fig also has some to fill the visible part of the hole in the washer I used as a base. That's the cured Bondic in use. The big advantage Bondic has over glue for this sort of thing is ease of control: you can add as little as you need, it tends to flow into crevices, and you can always build up applications if you need more. It's also a lot more durable than glue, as it's solid plastic. Just remember that it can't be used to glue things together like adhesive, but for filling visible gaps it's hard to beat.

I also took some shots after priming, just so you can see how it looks painted. No gaps!

I'm still in the middle of a big freelance job, but hopefully I'll have more time to work on figures soon. Thanks for checking in!