Sunday 29 May 2016

SDE: Fireflow Denizens


In my last post, I suggested that I might show some more Super Dungeon Explore figures.  Since that suggestion wasn't met with howls of protest, here we are.  This post describes the Fireflow Denizens, a band of assorted creatures that live in or near the lava rivers of the caverns of Roxor and don't welcome visitors.

The Spawning Point

As with all SDE warbands, the Fireflow Denizens have a spawning point for use during the game.  In this case, it's a mysterious crystal, wreathed in flames.  Dark magic indeed...

Can I say at this point how much I dislike painting crystals?  There are tutorials on the web for doing this (though they seem mostly aimed at computer art rather than 3-D miniatures), but I've found them over-complex and long-winded.  This is my version of a crystal, distilled from such online advice, and it caused me a lot of frustration whilst it was being painted.  Even now I'm not totally convinced that it looks right...

Blaze Beetle

One of the largest critters in this warband is the Blaze Beetle.  Apparently, these creatures tunnel through the hot rocks and occasionally break through into the caverns.  Yes, they can shoot flames from unlikely locations!

I've broken my own rule about copying the publisher's artwork when I painted this beastie.  The animal itself appeared to be made from flame in the game's reference card, but I'd had enough of painting flames by that point.  Instead, I went for a metallic blue body, though it hasn't come out quite as iridescent as I would have liked.

Ember Hounds

The Ember Hounds are described as "concealed by a cloud of ash", yet the sculpts and the artist's rendering clearly depit them as creatures of pure flame.  I've followed this pattern with my own painting.

It's fairly obvious even from just looking at them that these models are unbalanced; they're very front-heavy.  I had to add weights into the bases before they would stand at all reliably.  Even then, it doesn't take much to topple them over.

Burning Gels

The last of the flame creatures in the set of Fireflow Denizens are the Burning Gels.  These are large, evil, (un)living fire monsters.  They were something of a challenge to paint, mainly because the models are mostly large, featureless expanses!  Additionally, it was significantly difficult to reach into the extremities of the mouths with a paintbrush.

Fire Gels

So, what happens when you kill/destroy a Burning Gel?  Well, it turns into 2 Fire Gels!  All the heroes can do is break up the creatures into ever smaller bits and then stamp them out too.

All Together

To allow the sizes of the various models to be compared, here is a picture of the entire warband.  I think they're my favourite group so far, at least from the SDE monsters that I have painted.  Mind you, just wait until I have finished my Kodama (plant warriors); they might just become my new favourites once they are done!

I note that several of these sculpts have been reissued as part of the V.2 Mistmourn Coast warband, where they play the part of fog/mist monsters.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Tintin and the Zorgls


Time for a quick, mid-week post.  Here are some models that I've completed recently...

Tintin & Snowy

I've mounted Tintin on an Escenorama urban base and sculpted a simple, matching base for snowy.

This pair should need no introduction; there are few pulp heroes more famous than Tintin and his faithful & highly intelligent companion, Snowy.  I've even heard that Indiana Jones took at least some inspiration from the many adventures of this young Belgian journalist.

Mind you, Tintin's history is somewhat tainted by a few of the early books in particular, which were deemed racist and ignorant even at the time of writing.  Information on this is readily available for those who care to research it, but I wouldn't bother if I were you.  Just stick with the middle and later works and enjoy the story...

Both of the miniatures here are from Copplestone Castings' "GN9 - Sleuths" pack, which also includes a very nice Humphrey Bogart lookalike and a couple of other investigators that I don't recognise.  This set of 5 models can be had from North Star Miniatures for £8.50 .

Now if I'm going to create a Pulp band with Tintin as leader, then I'll need to find some other figures as well!
  • Captain Haddock is essential; I've got my eye on "Fisherman with pipe and gun" from Black Cat Bases (though I'd swap the gun for a bottle, of course).
  • Thomson and Thompson are also a must.  I'm not sure where I can get suitable figures for them, though.
  • Professor Calculus would round out the group nicely, adding some real smarts to counter the dim-wittedness of the other sidekicks and followers.  Again, I'm still hunting for a model which can represent him.


Time from some hairy monsters, I think!  These are Zorgls, from the somewhat patchy, but always inventive, Golgo Island range.  They aren't the most detailed figures I've ever had and the separate arms were a real pain to glue (& needed quite a bit of filling as well).  Those are the bad points.

In their favour, though, are 2 very important things:

  1. They're really easy to paint: base coat, drybrush and some detailing on the face and claws.  I did these when I wasn't feeling very enthusiastic about model-making, but the sense of achievement at completing them so easily brought back some of the joy...
  2. I can think of quite a lot of pulp genres which can make use of the "men-in-a-rubber-suit" style of monster: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Scooby Doo, to name just a few.  These will fill that role very nicely!

The Zorgls come in a pack of 4 from East Riding Miniatures and cost just £5.  There is an "Alpha Zorgl" available as well, though he doesn't quite fit in with my plans for these creatures.  The Alpha Zorgl has a deep sea diving helmet on top of his gorilla costume and is clearly modelled on "Ro-Man" from one of the worst sci-fi films of all time: 1953's "Robot Monster".  A nod to such an awful B-movie is very much in line with the bizarre world of Golgo Island, I think (and don't get me started on the giant zombie hamster!)

Next time: probably more Super Dungeon Explore, though I haven't really decided yet.  Wait and see...

Sunday 22 May 2016

This week I have been mostly painting...Chibi


Recently I've been painting some heroes and villains from the Super Dungeon Explore board game.  Now this isn't (quite) the first time that I've displayed such miniatures - my Rock Top Gang can be seen in part 1 of my "6 Projects" series - but I think I'm beginning to get the hang of these figures.  There are some differences in the way they're painted from more "realistic" models that I have completed.  More on this later, but first here are some example Chibis:


Marie-Claude is a hero who comes with the Stilt Town Zombies box set.  She's supposedly an innkeeper who runs the nearest establishment to the zombie infestation; this makes her a tough woman quite capable of dealing with anything from Saturday night drunks to maurading zombie hordes.

By complete accident, the paint on the back of Marie-Claude's frying pan makes it look as if the pan has a big dent in it (it's actually flat on the model).  Could this be a head-shaped dent after Marie-Claude has flattened some opponent?  You decide...

I'm very pleased with the way that this model turned out.  She was my first human (or humanoid!) chibi miniature and as such the model could have been awful.  Not so, I think.

Questing Knight

Next up is the Questing Knight.  He comes from the Forgotten King box set (i.e the starter set for version 2 of Super Dungeon Explore).

The Questing knight is slightly unusual in that his face is covered and cannot be seen.  Apparently, the original chibi were characters designed for low-resolution computer or arcade games quite some time ago.  It made sense to exaggerate the head so that facial expressions could be made out, even when the entire character was only a small number of pixels high.  Or so my 19 y.o. son has told me...

Since the Questing Knight is wearing a full-face helmet, there are no eyes to paint.  This probably makes him a lot easier to finish than the other figures in this article!

Royal Warden

Another character who comes with the Forgotten King starter set is the Royal Warden.  He's a sort of cross between a Tax Collector and a Bow Street Runner (i.e. early policemen, bounty hunter and/or detective).  As such, he has the full force of the law behind him and some "arresting" powers in the game!

Although I'm pleased with the way that most of this model turned out, I'm still struggling a bit with the bases.  I cannot bring myself to cover the moulded detail with flock, but equally my quick "paint + wash" technique isn't producing a great result.

Jack Scarecrow

My 4th model tonight is a villain rather than a hero; a mini-boss, to be specific.  Note that the model comes with stats to use him/it as a hero instead, but Jack Scarecrow is sold as a separate mini-boss and that's how I'll be using him.

I'm really not pleased with the way the pumpkin's eyes turned out.  The trouble is that I just cannot figure out how I might have done them differently...

Usually with these models, I've noticed that the illustration on the game card(s) is a pretty close match to the physical model.  However, Jack's neckerchief is sculpted very oddly, as if it was just part of his shirt or some other piece of clothing.

As with all of these models, I've attempted to follow the colours and patterns on the game card fairly closely.  This is not because of some lack of imagination, but rather because it makes it easier to associate the figure with the relevant card when playing a game.  For that reason, I've attempted to replicate the red/white checked neckerchief from the card's illustration, despite the model's little oddities around the neck line.


There are some significant differences between the way I paint "regular" 28mm figures and these chibi models.  I hadn't really appreciated the need for this change of style when I attempted my first warband (i.e. the "Rock Top Gang") and I think it showed in the disappointing result for them.  Now that I'm getting the hang of it, here's what I've noticed so far:
  1. Eyes are important.  Indeed, they might even be the most important parts of the model! Paint them well (there are many tutorials on "chibi eyes" to be found on the internet) and the rest will follow,
  2. Chibi are essentially cartoon figures.  They work very well with block colours applied using simple layering techniques (e.g. base coat, darker shadows and lighter highlights).  I've had less success with complex blending or washes; the results just don't look right to me.
  3. Colours need to be vivid.  This is a situation where the bright, primary colours are more useful, so put away most of those subtle, natural tones.  I've also noticed that hair colours can often be very unexpected: Marie-Claude above has grey-green hair and the Royal Warden's hair is red .  Not orange or ochre, but bright scarlet.  Didn't notice that, did you?

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Jedi Starfighter: Revell easykit


Let me tell you about an impulse purchase that I made this week.  I found a trader on eBay that was disposing of large numbers of the same old kit.  I can speculate that these may have come from a distributor that has gone bust or a shop that is selling off excess stock.  However, that's just a guess; I don't really know how these models came on to the market.

Anyway, I bought a couple of the Jedi Starfighter kits at £3.75 each (including postage!).  Now the problem I have is what to do with them!


Actually, I have seen this kit before and therefore I know that it makes a very nice, small sci-fi flyer which is pretty much perfectly scaled for 28mm gaming figures.  I know this because my younger son went through an intense Star Wars phase some years ago and built pretty much all of the relevant "easykit pocket" kits from Revell.  They're not to a constant scale (nothing like!), but all of the models in the range are about the same finished size, somewhere around 10-15cm long.

So, I've borrowed my son's rather dilapidated Jedi Starfighter and posed various figures alongside it to try to inspire a colour scheme and back story.

Spectrum "Angel Interceptor"

My first idea is that I could paint the 2 new starfighters white and give them Spectrum (Captain Scarlet) markings.  They would then make good alternatives for the iconic Angel Interceptor craft and I could use them in games of 7TV or the like.

I'd prefer a "real" Angel Interceptor, but I'm pretty sure that nobody makes a model that is even close to 28mm (though there is a paper model available somewhere on the Internet, I think).  Mind you, even if such a model could be found, it would probably be quite large for a games table!

If any purists gag at the idea of calling this an Angel Interceptor then I could call it something else.  After all, Spectrum had quite a range of aircraft in their fleet; this could easily be some previously-unseen jet.  Perhaps it's an "Angel Scout" or something like that?

Viridian Flitter

Alternatively, I could give the models a green/gray splinter camouflage to blend in with my sci-fi Viridian army (or paint them cream/black for my Syntha faction instead).  If I did that then they would be some type of reconnaissance or light ground-attack craft.  Sadly, I cannot see that they'd ever be used in a game since I don't really use any of my VOID armies and cannot see this changing in the future.  Still, they'd be nice to collect.

Star Trek mini-Shuttle

My final idea is that the starfighters could be painted up pale grey (for Federation) or dark grey, green or blue (for Klingons) and used as single-crew shuttles or fighters.  This doesn't completely fit in with the Star Trek universe; such tiny craft don't appear very much in the canonical version(s).  However, there are enough occurrences in spin-off works to justify pretty much anything.  In any case, it's my universe and I can do what I like, so there!


Have you ever bought something without having a need for it, either immediately or in the future?  Just because you liked it and thought that it might come in handy some time?  I'm pretty sure that most people do this at least occasionally!

I don't really know what to do with these kits.  I could even paint them up as non-airworthy sci-fi objectives, perhaps  being maintained and with inspection panels open.  Alternatively there must be many other ways that I could integrate them with one of my existing collections of figures.  I suppose that I could even start collecting 28mm Star Wars figures to go with the starfighters - but that'll not happen; it's a crazy idea!  Ah, what shall I do?

Sunday 15 May 2016

6 Projects: part 4

<== Part 3 is this way


Earlier this year, I started my "6 Projects" meta-project.  The first 3 articles were posted from late February to early March, but around the middle of March I suffered an almost complete model-making and blogging meltdown.  It's time to try to recover from this, so here, for the first time in 2 months, is another 6 Projects update.

Previously Finished

Well, the good news is that the previously-finished statues, turtles, cannibals and horses are still complete!  That may be unsurprising, but it's part of the deal that the status of each sub-project is mentioned in every update, so there we go.

Newly Completed

Finished: 3 pyramids and 4 ceremonial bowls (which can be used to top the pyramids).

The 5th project (the pyramids) has been completed since the last update; they are ready to be used in a game (and indeed, can be seen in action here).  In the end, I decided not to model vines & creepers, snow drifts or any other clutter over these models so as to keep them as generic as possible.

I can't help feeling that the pyramids are a bit bland as they are, so I might make some separate snowdrift or jungle "scatter" pieces to fit on the base models.  Hmm, if I do that then does it still count as part of the same project?  Perhaps this task isn't quite as complete as I had thought...

Lagging Behind


My first Frostgrave warband made from the "official" figures is slowly acquiring colour.  However, there's still quite a way to go before they're finished.  Mostly, it's details such as hair, weapons, backpacks and other accessories that yet need to be painted, as well as the bases.

These Frostgrave figures are proving to be a real millstone around my neck; I'm finding it very hard to motivate myself to work on them.  They've taken so much effort already, but there always seems to be more detail that needs to be painted.  It's quite depressing!

Oh, well: 5 projects down, just 1 to go!

Sunday 8 May 2016

Carronade 2016: Quality time


It's been a while since I've posted anything.  No, I've not been away or been seriously ill.  I haven't had any computer disasters or anything like that.  The truth of it is that I've just not felt like putting the effort in to writing anything for my blog.  Indeed, I've not spent much energy on reading other blogs either.  I have no idea what has caused this malaise, but this post is an attempt to pull myself out of it and resume normal service.


It's show season again, at least for me.  There are not many games shows that I can attend, but Carronade (Falkirk and District Wargames Club) is an excellent event and after enjoying it so much last year (here) I was determined to attend again.  Indeed, my younger son (A.) was very much of the same mind; he had been looking forward to the show for some time.

Due to ongoing engineering works at Glasgow Queen Street railway station, A. & I decided to drive to Falkirk this year.  We could have taken the train, but with restricted services and poor connections, it would have taken much longer than normal.  As it turned out, it's a very easy drive from Helensburgh, taking perhaps 1 hour and 15 minutes.

As before, there were no queues for entrance and the doors were open even before the official start time - very nice!  An interesting touch: the entrance tickets were MDF tokens, rather than paper tickets or stamps on the hand.  These will certainly find a second use as bases for some models, rather than being discarded after the event as paper would have been.

The Hobbit

Once inside the Graeme High School buildings, we searched for some games to play.  First up, we were introduced to The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game, one of Games Workshop's better rules offerings.  This game was run by (I think) the Stirling Wargamers.

My son and I each took 2 dwarves (Fili & Kili, Gloin & Oin - if I remember correctly).  Our goal was to carve our way through goblins and across platforms within Goblin Town until we could reach the far side.

We started well (mostly; Gloin struggled to kill his first goblin) and advanced half-way across the bridge quite easily.  There we stalled for a number of turns; no matter how many goblins we killed, there were always more arriving.  Kili was wounded and for a moment it looked as if we might fail in our escape.  Then Fili and Gloin changed up a gear and started to kill multiple goblins each turn.  By the last turn of the game there were no more enemies left and our 4 dwarves simply strolled forwards to the victory area and escape!  It had been close up to that point, though...

For our participation, we were each given a goblin model; A. also gained a Hobbit badge.  Nice!

Dropzone Commander

After the Hobbit, we played a small game of Dropzone Commander from Hawk Wargames, put on by the Glasgow Gaming Group.  Our PHR enhanced humans force (tan, lower half of the picture) took on the demonstrator's Shaltari aliens (red, upper part of picture).  We shot down most of his ships and took apart one alien infantry squad and all his flak tanks.  This left us in total control of one of the buildings, although it took us a couple of turns of searching for us to actually find the objective.  In the meantime, his tanks took up position on the central high ground and his other infantry squad started to search for the other objective.

Fortunately for us, the game ended before the aliens found the item for which they were searching, so it was a draw (the Shaltari scored 1 point for the "focal point" high ground; we scored 1 point for the objective that we had found).  Perhaps we spent too much effort on (successfully!) destroying material?

From the little I've seen, Dropzone Commander seems like a capable, larger scale sci-fi wargame.  I'm not totally convinced by the premise that both sides would be airlifting forces into the battlefield at the same time, as opposed to a mobile attack on fixed defences.  Maybe that's just this scenario, though?  I was taken by the aliens' heavy dependence on teleport gates; it had the potential to make their force play very differently from the humans.


Before and after lunch (and thank goodness that I remembered to pack some sandwiches this time, rather than relying on the typical show's overpriced, under-nutritious, crowded canteen!), A. and I cruised the traders and Bring & Buy stalls looking for stuff.

A. found the following:
  • 2 packs of Perry Crusader knights (6 figures), for his incipient Crescent and Cross warband.
  • 1 second-hand Tau APC/tank.  This has been built to a moderate (not great, but not totally botched) standard and then undercoated white.  A. is very keen to expand his small Tau force for Warhammer 40K, but I jib at Games Workshop's new prices (and at many second-hand prices too!).  So far, I've managed to prevent him from spending his inheritance before he has received it...
I bought these items, most of which were on my shopping list even before the show:
  • Some matt varnish.  I had accumulated quite a backlog of models that needed to be sealed after I finished off my last can of varnish.  Postage cost for aerosols is silly these days, so I had waited for the show to make this important purchase.
  • 1 pack of Nightfolk, from Northumbrian Tin Soldier.  These are very whimsical and I'm looking forward to painting them.
  • More zombies, from Studio Miniatures.  Everyone needs a zombie in a chicken suit, right?
  • A 7TV cameraman from Crooked Dice.  Actually, I also bought a "not Captain Jack Harkness" model as well, but we couldn't find it in the bag when we returned home.  I'm pretty annoyed about losing this!  It's not so much the money, but rather that I think of myself as very careful & aware of my surroundings.  For this purchase to simply vanish without trace hurts my self esteem.
  • We saw an expansion for Zombie Dice (Steve Jackson Games).  This seemed like an appropriate gift for my other son, J. , who owns the base game.

Mad Max

The final game of the day that we managed to join was a Mad Max-style game hosted by Greenock Wargames Club.  We were warned before starting that the game might take a couple of hours.  This was about right, but even though that ate up almost all the remaining time of the show, it was well worth it!

There's a tanker truck full of fuel in the middle of the wasteland.  Victory goes to the person who manages to drive it off the table, so that's nice and straightforward, isn't it?

5 gangs started from different edges of the table.  Each had 5 or 6 vehicles with (usually) a variety of crew, weaponry and toughnesses, as well as 3 or 4 motorbikes.

A. and I took control of the "Buzzards"; 6 custom hot rods with spiky armour welded all over them.  We had very little in the way of ranged weaponry but some advantage in a collision.  So we decided we'd just accelerate as hard as we could and blitz our way across the table ("we're going that way").  This tactic resulted in a diagonal line of smoking wrecks from our edge to the far side of the table.  Some of our drivers even got up to 6th gear (or was it 5th gear + nitro?) and were throwing a d30 for movement each turn.  You cannot change course at that speed!

At the climax of the game, the truck was taken over by one of the players and it started to move towards the far table edge.  As it picked up speed, 3 of our Buzzard gang vehicles arrived alongside the tanker and we made a number of boarding attempts.  Each time, our crewman would manage to jump onto the enemy vehicle, only to be fought off by the defender.

One other player also closed with the tanker, with a large car that had 4 crew and a boarding gantry (so his odds would have been good!)  However, before he could proceed, a lone biker from the defender's side jumped onto the attacking automobile and fought his way through the entire crew to take control of the vehicle.

This seemed to seal victory for the current defender (a  grown-up who was currently in charge of both the tanker and the "gantry" car).  However, in the very last move of the game, a kid on the other side of the table used his last vehicle to tail-end the truck.  The car was destroyed, but the driver leaped onto the tanker and proceeded to fight his way into the cab before driving off into the sunset.  An unexpected, but well-deserved victory for the boy!

This was a thrilling game with a massive amount of carnage (though the monster truck was a bit disappointing) and it could have gone any of 3 or 4 ways at the end.  A. came home with a set of the Greenock club's home-brew Mad Max rules, with visions of using his Hot Wheels collection in new and exciting ways!


The return journey was uneventful.  We stopped briefly on the outskirts of Falkirk so that I could have a coffee (I've sometimes felt very tired when facing a long drive at the end of the day).  A. slept for most of the way back; this is not unusual for 13 year old boys.  However, before drifting off, he did ask me if we could go to Claymore (Edinburgh) in August.  I think he must have enjoyed the show!