Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dindrenzi BB WIP - Part 4

How is it that I have even less time for painting while I'm on vacation than when I'm working?

Sigh. I did get a little painting done in the last week plus. I masked off the gluing surfaces and hit the under coat with a light layer of matte sealer so the masking tape wouldn't remove paint when it came off. After that, I masked all of the areas I planned to use for trim colors.

With the masks in place, I took the opportunity to practice my (sorely lacking) air brush skills. I broke out my bottle of Vallejo Game Color "Scurf Green" and mixed it with some water and flow improver to get a nice thin paint. I was able to get a pretty even coat with the air brush, but I still had to go back and touch it up with more green paint. The subtle pre-shading I had applied did provide some panel detail on the model, but not enough to satisfy me.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dindrenzi BB WIP - Part 3

I got all the parts primed last night:

It's not too obvious, with the white primer against light grey resin, but it's there. I chose white primer, not because I want a white base, but because it's getting colder in the northeastern US, and I find the white primer is a little more reliable in imperfect weather conditions.

I wanted to try pre-shading on this model. I've never tried it before, but I think I might actually go mad, if I tried to individually panel and shade something this size by hand. To get started, I gave the whole hull a very dark black wash. The overall effect was a dark grey with darker, almost black panel lines. Sadly, I neglected to photograph that stage.

Once the wash had dried, I took out a very large brush (one I usually reserve for painting terrain), and went over the whole model with a heavy white dry brush. The result is here:

The theory is that when I mask off the gluing surfaces and a few details, I can airbrush the hull with a thin coat of color, allowing the black and white undercoat to show through. We'll see how it goes.

I am going to leave the engine pods unpainted until I test out the shading method on the hull and gun decks. Next time: Masking and color!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dindrenzi BB WIP - Part 2

Once I had most of the flash removed, and the parts sanded to a reasonably close fit, I started working on installing a base for the model. The battleship does not include a hole to accept the 1/8th inch acrylic post included with the base. I assume that is because of the gap in the hull, which would coincide with such a mounting point. Obviously, I needed to add a support post, but I decided to go the extra mile and try to add a removable base. Separating base from miniature should make transport easier, and it will make it trivial to re-base the miniature, should I ever desire to do so.

I started by running to my local hobby and craft store to buy a supply of brass tube and rod stock. I also swung by the hardware store for some tiny steel hex nuts - you'll see why later.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Newer Parts

I got my Dindrenzi gunship and heavy cruiser. Unlike the battleship I've been working on, these are relatively simple models. The gunship is cast in just one big piece!

Both of these ships were released after the initial Firestorm Armada rules and fleet boxes, and it shows. The casting is near-perfect, and there is no sign at all of the odd "ridges" defect I saw on the Battleship. The flat surfaces are smooth and clean; the engraved panel lines are sharp and clear.

There is some flash, especially at the tail end of the heavy cruiser. It is not excessive; I don't think it will be hard to clean it up. There is also a hefty pour stub at the rear of the gunship, but it is in a place where the detail is trivial to clean up once I've removed it.
I am currently resisting the temptation to run out and buy a whole fleet at once. I plan to take my time building and painting these models and playing one or two more games before I commit fully, but the temptation to jump in is strong.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dindrenzi BB WIP - Part 1

I am going to post this build log in multiple parts. I am still a long way from completing the model, and there will be many steps along the way. This post is part one of an ongoing Work-In-Progress project. (hopefully the first of many)

From the get-go, I decided that I was going to try to paint this model in parts. There are a lot of hard-to reach spots, especially in among the engines and along the lower gun deck. My plan of attack will be to assemble the two main hull halves and detail parts, but leave the two forward gun deck pieces and the engines separate through the priming and painting stage. To make that even remotely practical, I need to make sure that everything will fit after the paint has been applied, so I can minimize the last-minute corrections and changes that will be required after I glue the parts together. To achieve that goal, step one is to carefully dry-fit the parts and sand, sand, sand.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Look at the Dindrenzi Battleship

I Managed to get in a test game of Firestorm Armada last weekend, and I received my Battleship model in the mail, so I've been playing around with that too. I'm going to hold off on sharing my thoughts on the game until I've had a chance to mull it over and write a more thorough review, but I thought I'd share my initial impressions of the Battleship model now.

First off, I'll say that this thing is huge. I have toyed with the idea of building scale models a few times, but nearly all of my real experience has been with gaming miniatures. At around 17cm (about 6.5 inches) long the Dindrenzi BB is pushing the boundary between the two. It's going to be a challenging build, but will look very impressive on the gaming table. Battleships are the biggest models included in the race starter boxes, and this one, at least, seems to be the most complex by far of the initial release of Dindrenzi models. They have since released an even bigger dreadnought model, but I haven't seen it in person for comparison.

The complexity of the kit is likely to be a bit daunting for a  beginning modeler. The ship comes in nine parts, not including the base:

I'm no expert in resin, but the casting appears to be crisp and well done. I didn't find any voids, and there aren't very many bubbles in the resin. As you can see, the big pieces were bound together with elastic to keep them from bouncing around. There was some flash on most of the parts, but nothing serious.

There is an odd texture molded into the large pieces. I couldn't get a clear picture of it, but there are very fine ridges forming parallel lines on all of the flat surfaces. They are quite shallow, much smaller than the engraved panel lines and other details, but they are definitely there. It is definitely a drawback, but not a major one. It will make washes or dry brushing a bit trickier, since you won't want to emphasize it.

Fit is challenging. The "gun decks" which sit along the ship's spine are too wide to fit into the spaces left for them on the hull, when the two halves are put together:

At first, I thought I had miscast parts, or that I was missing a piece, but, after perusing the Spartan Games Forums, it looks like that gap may be intentional. The art for the ship does show a 'groove' in the hull along the center line, but it would be nice to have a part which fits in the center of the ship  as a spacer, and to prevent light from showing clean through the model.

I don't have a rating system worked out yet, but I would sum up this ship this way:

I love the design. Spartan Games has some great artists working on their designs, and they produce some beautiful models. I am enamored of the look of the Dindrenzi fleet, and I am very likely to buy more of it for myself. I am disappointed with the extraneous texture on the casting and with the needlessly complex assembly requirement. I would highly recommend it for an experienced modeler who wants a new game, or just some cool looking space ships. Novices that love Firestorm Armada might want to look for an appropriate proxy until they get some more experience, or try a different fleet. Several of the other Firestorm races look like they might be easier to assemble.

I'll post some pictures of my progress building this beast later.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Into the Unknown

I've been thinking about trying out one of the games published by Spartan Games over the last few years. They sound interesting, at a high level, and many of their models look pretty cool. In the last week, I managed to convince a friend of mine to try out Firestorm Armada. I ordered the core rulebook and a Dindrenzi Battleship to look at.

I received the rule book on Friday, and we should have enough materials to try out the game without any assembled miniatures. I'll post my first impressions here once we've had a chance to play it once or twice.

In addition to being a new game, this is also going to be my first experience with cast resin models. (I haven't bought any of GW's "Fine Cast" minis, as of yet.) I've read about the quirks and foibles of resin, mostly in articles about larger scale models, rather than gaming miniatures. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Then and Now

Today, I thought I'd share a comparison of two miniatures:

The miniature on the left is the oldest still-painted miniature in my possession, dated from roughly 1992. It's not the first miniature I ever painted, but it is definitely within the first ten. On the right is the miniature I painted for a contest on the Battletech forums this Fall.

I've been a war gamer for over 20 years now, but I've only been putting in a serious effort to improve my skills on the miniatures front in the last few years. Part of my plan for this blog is to share my experiences with the learning curve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's all this then?

This blog is intended to cover the gaming miniatures, and the games which use them.

Any of my friends can tell you that I've threatened to start a blog one day, and I really meant it, three plus years of empty threats not withstanding. I think my chief reservations were that I didn't have a topic in mind, and I didn't believe that I'd update a blog more than three or four times before forgetting its existence.

As you no doubt deduced from the first line of this post, I have solved issue one: I have a topic. Issue two is, of course, still a sticking point. However, I can't let the internet pass me by forever, so I'm going to start out and see what happens.