Monday, December 30, 2013


In my last post, I covered some of the changes that Spartan Games has made to Firestorm Armada in its new, second edition release. Spartan is also releasing a whole series of revised models to refresh the product line along with the new edition. I was thinking about waiting until I had a selection of those models in my hands before posting anything, but it looks like it might be some time before I get a hold of any, so I am going to comment on the new Directorate battle station that came with my rulebook.

Last time, I included this photo as a teaser. It isn't always easy to see detail in a picture of unpainted resin, but Spartan has certainly continued to improve both their sculpts and their casting quality as they have advanced their game lines. The first series of ships they put out were cool, but the ones I have definitely had some casting issues, especially the Dindrenzi cruisers that came in my original fleet box.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Edition, New Models

Spartan Games has just begun the relaunch of Firestorm Armada with a new rules version, and, like any good miniatures company, a complete refresh of their line of models for the game. I have not ordered a new fleet, as of yet, but I thought that now, almost two years after my original review of the game, might be a good time to comment on the new version, and on its history.

The new rulebook was just released this book, and includes a substantial overhaul of the game system. The book is nicely put together, with beautiful photography showcasing the models in the studio fleets, and numerous example diagrams to illustrate the rules. A new feature of this edition will be dedicated fleet books for each race. Basic statistics for an introductory fleet appear in the main rulebook, but players will need to obtain more complete information to play more complex fleets. Fortunately, the fleet books should ship next month, and Spartan has made the fleet lists available for free on their web site.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I few weeks ago, I was out in the San Francisco Bay area on a business trip. I didn't have a whole lot of free time to spare, but I did manage to wander past a local game store to check it out, and see what it was like. I travel out to the Bay area every once in a while, and knowing where to stop in for a quick break can always come in handy!

The store in question is the Game Kastle, in Santa Clara, CA. I can't say much for its location, tucked into the corner between the 101 freeway and San Jose Mineta international airport, and sandwiched between an auto body shop and a trophy seller. Still, the store was friendly, and amazingly full of both popular and obscure miniatures of all varieties.

Even better, it turned out that I was there on the day of their semi-regular gaming flea market. People were in from all around the area with piles of used miniatures, books, terrain and other items to be sold off at discount prices. I got to talk to a few sellers, and even picked up a small number of bargain items that could be crammed into my overflowing suitcase. It was a great way to round out week on the road.

I gather that the unadorned garage space to the side of the sales floor is normally made available for gaming space. All in all, it seemed like a nice little shop which caters heavily to the metal and plastic crowd. I would say that it's worth a look, if you're in the are, and can manage to find parking.

I will try to go back on a future trip to see what it's like on a regular business day.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


I am not normally an advocate for multitasking, but, in this case, I am finding it quite pleasant. As I have blogged previously, I am working on a large dragon miniature:

As you can see, I have made quite a bit of progress. I have even mounted the beastie to its (his? her?) base, but the process of painting and shading hundreds of scales takes its toll on the sanity. In an effort to mix in a little variety, I started work on the shiny new TDR-1C Thunderbolt miniature from Ironwind Metals - released at Gencon last month.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Experience is Everything!

Sadly, no pretty pictures for this update.

I was at GenCon a few weeks ago, and I had a great time at the show. I was able to play some great games with gamers from all over, including some good friends that I only get to see once or twice a year at conventions.

The two miniatures-related highlights for me were the painting classes I got to take from Sue Wachowski (a.k.a. PaintMinion) and some time I got to spend pestering sculptor Patrick Keith for tips and advice at his booth in the vendor hall. Both artists were incredibly friendly, helpful and full of good advice. My big take away from the con is: "There is an easier way to do everything".

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Think Big

As is probably clear from my past updates, the majority of my painting projects are more or less "conventional" single-figure sized miniatures. The largest things I commonly paint are usually Battlemechs, which are bigger than your average 32mm "heroic" figure, but are still not titans in the miniatures world.

With the arrival of my Bones Kickstarter I am awash in inexpensive plastic miniatures, including a variety of large monster models, perfect for terrorizing PCs in fantasy role playing games. Given the low cost of Bones (especially at the KS rates), I wanted to try my hand at painting a big model, so I buckled down to paint "Deathsleet", the Ice Dragon.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

I have never worked on a substantial sculpting project before. I never really had to deal with the patience it takes to watch putty cure. It's almost exciting as paint, but it's much more monochromatic. Even so, there is something pretty satisfying about watching a three dimensional object slowly take shape, one tiny patch of putty at a time.

After last time, I had just about completed the chain barding along the bird's neck. You can see that I had also installed a series of brass loops along the armor and gear to attach to the straps and belts later on.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Nothing Ventured...

Not too long ago, I posted this image as a teaser for a future project:

That project is now underway as a grand experiment in sculpting and conversion work.

I decided to set out on this project as a way to stretch my sculpting skills. I have done a number of conversion projects, and I have used putty to reconstruct damaged or incomplete miniatures in the past, but this is, by far, the most extensive reconstruction and modification project that I have undertaken to date.

It has been fun so far, and it brings me one tiny step closet to being able to sculpt a whole part, or even a whole figure, from scratch.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Bones-apalooza Arrives

My Reaper Kickstarter Bones have arrived!

It will take me a little while to go through them and make sure everything's in order, but for now:


Note that the small mountain of plastic in front is just from add-ons. The Vampire box is lurking in the back of the pile - that's where the real numbers are.

I had better get painting. :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Hawkman Revisions and Conclusions

Last time I walked through the marble technique I wanted to try out on my Hawkman's base. I am happy with the technique, but, as mentioned, I wasn't completely satisfied with the warm-tone floor I created, when set against a very cool-themed miniature. Rather than randomly paint and repaint the base (which I had foolishly epoxied to the painted miniature before reaching this stage), I clipped some styrene tiles from spare stock and experimented with colors.

I didn't use any of those patterns exactly, but I was much happier with the greyer and bluer marble style for this figure.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Darksword Hawkman Continued

I made lots of progress on the Hawkman WIP last week. I started painting in his sword. I painted the trim on his robe. I even started in on some experimental basing techniques - more on that below For now, here is his state, as of last week:

Read on for tinkering with base-painting

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Darksword's Hawkman

I thought about naming this post for a certain popular novel whose title revolves around a tremendous variety of monochrome, but didn't think it would drive the right sort of Google traffic.

As a part of playing around with Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder game, I built a Tengu character and decided to build up a miniature for him. Sadly, Tengu miniatures are in rather short supply in the industry, and about half of the ones I could locate don't really fit the look Paizo has chosen for their bird-men.

Fortunately for me, Darksword miniatures has an absolutely beautiful sculpt that is close enough, and, I am pleased to say, is turning out to be an absolute joy to paint.

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Cool Kickstarters

Fractured Dimensions is running a campaign to fund some absolutely beautiful Demon and Devil sculpts(well, impressive may be a better word) by Paul Muller. If you like these sort of things for your fantasy RPG, I think you will be impressed by the sculpt quality.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Social Painting

The thing that I have most enjoyed about ReaperCon, the two times I have been there, is the social camaraderie of sitting in a room full of painters. First off, it is nice to just have people to talk to while you are hunched over a tiny piece of metal or plastic, focusing on some fine detail.

Even more than that, it lets you swap stories, share ideas and give mutual advice with people who share your interest. There are local paint clubs in various areas, but I have not, so far, belonged to one in my own home town.

This year, I decided that I should go out and try to create the thing that I desire, rather than sit at home and bemoan its absence.  Upon return from RCon I set the wheels in motion to pick a time and lure some people in to paint, hang out and socialize.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

RBG Keeper Completed

I found time to put some extra time into the "Keeper", from Red Box Games. I'm declaring him complete (for now).

I am quite happy with his color scheme and over-all look. I am going to have to retry a this skin tone, or a variation of it, on some undead in the near future.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Things to Come

I'll have an update on the Red Box "Keeper" figure from my last entry later this week. He's nearing completion and will, hopefully be done very soon.

For now, I wanted to post a teaser for an upcoming project:

I based the art on this sculpt, which is going to be the basis for the work. I am still in the very earliest planning stages for the project, but expect to see it start showing up before too much longer.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back Home and Ready to Go

I returned from my second trip to Reaper Con late Sunday night.Just like last year, I had a wonderful time, and I got to play around with Reaper's Bones material for miniatures. I am still hugely impressed by the stuff, but even more importantly: This year I brought along some portable lights and managed to get some real painting done during the event.

I picked out the "Keeper" model, from Tre Manor's Red Box Games Kickstarter. I previously commented on Tre's new line of spin-cast resin models here. I've been itching to paint this figure, and RCon was the perfect chance to get started.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Painting: Update Three

I'm already running late, so I'm going to make this update quick. I will try to post one more before ReaperCon starts next week.

With the base shading complete, I decided I wanted a break from the Thor's endless sea of green and yellow panels. Instead of working on that, I pulled out my halfling caster model and implemented one of my color scheme designs from last week. (As it happens, not one of the ones shown in the last update.)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Painting: Update Two

One more week is past, and I squeezed in another few hours of good painting time. For the most part, I continued to focus on the Battletech Thor model I've been working on, but I did put a little planning and thought into one of my RPG models.
As planned, I finished the NMM blue shading Monday night. I will go back to smooth out a few blends and add some further details later on, but I am satisfied with the work, as far as the initial shading process goes.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Painting: Update One

Tonight, I present the first progress update on my drive to complete some projects ahead of ReaperCon this April. I started with the least complete and most recent project, the Summoner A omnimech that I started this month:

On Wednesday evening I put in a little bit of time cleaning up the primer and residual mold lines on the model while I finished applying the green base coat to the 'mech's body.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bones-apalooza approaches

The Reaper Bones Kickstarter is set to start shipping within the next week. I'm pretty excited to get my hands on all the plastic goodness, and Dakkadakka recently posted a photo of their giant bone dragon, Kaladrax, fromt he GAMA trade show:

Those are regular sized, 28-32mm figures in the background, cowering in fear. See the full sized image here.

All I can say is... wow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Setting Goals

My "Shelf of Shame" has been growing. I've been playing in a variety of games lately, and I keep picking up a miniature to represent a character or fill out a unit roster and... starting to paint it. sadly, only a few of these new projects are actually done. The problem has reached the point that I can almost hear them all mocking me from their place on the work bench or, worse, the book shelf.

This is a common malady for painters, especially for those not painting towards a hard time limit, like a contest or a tournament. Sometimes deadlines are not just good, but necessary.

To remedy this, I have decided to set a target: I am going to try to finish five of these projects between now and ReaperCon, in just four weeks. If things go extra-well, I will enter at least one of them in Reaper's Master Series Open painting contest to be judged.

The projects chosen are a Summoner Omnimech (top), Barghest Battlemech (right), Reaper Bones Gnoll (left), Warlord Bow Sister (middle-left) and Halfling Sorcerer (middle-right)
To help motivate me, and keep me honest, I will post an update each week, listing my progress, or lack thereof. My progress tonight was to paint the green and yellow the Summoner model. Tune in next time to see what's changed.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Storm Zone Update

The past few weeks have been consumed with preparation for a business trip (now over) and for Total Confusion 2013. With the convention in the can, I am hoping I can turn my attention back to painting.

Part of my preparation for TotalCon was to help a friend to prepare a demo of Firestorm Armada. We staged it as a reprise of our past Aquan vs. Dindrenzi starter fleet battles, this time sitting on the sidelines and watching while our demo-ees locked horns.

The demo was small, but I think everybody had a good time. Only time will tell if it will lead to an expanded local community.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lack of Focus

I've been spreading myself a bit thin lately. I have joined several new gaming groups in my area, and I have not withdrawn from any of the ones with which I was already involved. To top it off, I am racing to prepare for this year's Total Confusion, where I will be both playing in games, and also running several events.

A quick glance at my painting station shows all of the projects that have piled up as I lurch from one priority to the next.

My main goal right now is to finish the Firestorm Armada ships you see on the left for TotalCon, as I promised to have them there for a friend's demo game. After that, I want to finish up some of the RPG character models I've been working on. Of course, I also want to paint up a few competition pieces for upcoming events. (One of which has been partially blurred in the picture.)

The good news is that I should have WIP entries for some of the projects before too long. I have high hopes of actually finishing several of them in February.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cool Stuff for Battletech Fans

If you like Battletech, or at least, like giant mecha, you might be interested in Ironwind Metal's inaugural Kickstarter project. They are trying to raise funds to produce the "Spectral" land-air transformable mechs (LAMs) introduced at the tail end of the Word of Blake story line.

Even if you don't care a wit for the game or for the story, I hope you'll agree that they're an interesting take on the classic transformable mecha concept. You can find out more by visiting them on Kickstarter.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kickstarter Fullfillment

Last week I received my miniature rewards from the Red Box Miniatures Kickstarter from the fall. I wasn't sure what to expect, but some of the concept art and early work that the sculptor (Tre Manor) was working on looked pretty cool, so I jumped in at a moderate level.

Since I started exploring the wider world of miniatures not tied to major gaming licenses, I am pleased to be able to get these fresh sculpts and get a feel for some of the new stuff on the market.