Welcome to my blog. Here you will find an irregular record of my haphazard progress through an eclectic mix of projects, games and other assorted wargames-related nonsense.


You came here looking for toast and tea? Pop in a couple of slices and put a brew on. This blog is best enjoyed with hot buttered toast and a mug of strong, hot tea*.


*Warning - may contain puns.


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Air/Raft

I discovered plasticard (aka styrene sheet) some time in my mid-teens. Wonderful stuff. It's been a staple of my model-making and scratch-building projects ever since. Whenever an idea popped into my head, out came the plasticard and solvent. There's never been any rhyme or reason to this; just wherever inspiration took me - often into the realms of Science Fiction. An appetite for Sci-Fi novels, Traveller RPG and SPI's 'Universe', the art of Chris Foss, and tabletop games of Laserburn all fed my imagination and spawned a collection of vehicles and other 'gubbins'. Here's one example; another model rescued from the back of the gaming cupboard and given a spruce-up. 

It's a 25mm, 3-seat air/raft or grav-craft. Looking at it now, the finish is a bit rough-and-ready but considering it was made from scratch and pretty much made up as I went along I still think it's really neat. I had to add a new headrest and windshield as both had broken off and been lost. Other than that, it's just as it was originally finished many years past. It did need a flight stand though. I don't know why I never made one for it before, but now I've rectified that omission. 


Now it really just needs some crew. That's slightly problematic as it was originally built to scale with 25mm figures and most of my figures are now 28mm, (or 35mm in the case of Star Wars: Legion) and way too big. I think a 3D printed crew is the way to go as I can easily scale to fit. Maybe some 'smaller than human' aliens would work, so it will still fit in with my existing miniatures. I just need to find some that are seated, which isn't so easy. Scanning....



Sunday, 10 April 2022

Golden Heroes

More nostalgia. While I was digging out my old RuneQuest miniatures I found another box of vintage goodies from the 1980's; Golden Heroes. 

In 1984 Games Workshop published their superhero role-playing game, Golden Heroes and Citadel Miniatures released two boxed sets of miniatures to tie in with the game. At the time I really wanted to play some table-top superhero games but there was nothing really designed for that purpose so I picked up Golden Heroes, hoping to adapt it. Of course, I bought the miniatures too.


As a gaming project it was a bit of a failure. The role-playing rules were good and full of inspirational ideas, but not really adaptable to a free-flowing wargame. I never got used to the name either. A minor quibble, but I always thought it sounded like a breakfast cereal. The miniature boxed sets didn't help much either. Unlike the RuneQuest boxed sets with their nice foam inserts, Golden Heroes miniature boxes had flimsy vac-formed plastic inserts. They just felt inferior and offered zero protection to painted miniatures. The miniatures themselves were a bit of a disappointment too. Perhaps I'd previously been a bit spoiled by the quality of Citadel's RuneQuest miniatures, many of which were sculpted by the Perry twins. The Golden Heroes miniatures are sadly not in the same league. I'm not sure who the sculptors were, but surely not the Perrys. I painted up the miniatures that I considered most tolerable and left the rest. The paint-jobs are my original efforts (Humbrol enamels again) with minimal repainting and a bit of tidying up to repair chipped areas here and there. Some of the miniatures are anatomically odd and rather stiffly posed - a bit cartoonish, but I guess that fits the subject matter. Looking at them now I like them a lot better than I first did. Maybe that's the nostalgia kicking in again. Anyway, you can judge for yourself from the photos. 

Galactigirl, The Phantom Stalker and Bluebottle

Paragon vs. El Maestro

Brainchild vs. The Atom
(No, don't ask me how Brainchild got his hands through his sleeves)

Now a confession. I lied a bit about none of them being Perry sculpts. 'The Phantom Stalker' in the pictures above is a bit of an interloper. He wasn't part of the Golden Heroes boxed sets at all. In fact he is of an even earlier vintage, circa 1979 to 1982 and part of Citadel Miniatures original Fiend Factory range, FF5 - Phantom Stalker to be exact. And the sculptor? Michael Perry. I discovered that I had adapted the miniature a bit by sculpting on trunks and a pair of gloves (sorry Michael!), though I have no recollection of doing so. It does go to show the lengths I went to at the time to get suitable miniatures for superhero games.

Paragon's flight stand is a new addition. The original was one of those 'classic' clear plastic 1 inch hex-and-post flight stands, but I wanted something taller and pose-able. The answer was a homemade flight stand made from a clear acrylic round base and a length of 3mm diameter clear acrylic rod. The ball joint attached to the miniature was originally meant for radio-controlled plane linkages. The rod is topped with a short length of rubber fuel hose, again from radio-controlled plane supplies. I slipped the hose over some brass rod temporarily so I could poke it into a pencil sharpener. A few turns and it produced a nice tapered finish to the top of the hose. The ball joint pops into the top of the hose and is held firmly, but allows for rotation. It actually works better than neodymium magnets which suffer from a tendency to 'windmill'. It's nice and simple to produce and I think this will be my standard flight stand solution in future. 

Is it a bird...

It wasn't until 2002 that I revisited the idea of superhero games, this time thanks to SuperSystem by Scott R. Pyle of Four Color Studios. This was what I had been waiting for; a dedicated set of rules for Superhero slugfests. Inspired by the rules, I added to my superhero miniature collection, mostly from Westwind Productions SuperFigs line, with a few other conversions from various sources.



Lone Star

Black Ice vs. X-Ray

Dreadnought and Blaze

Overlord

Rampage
("yeah, no one will recognise me in this mask")

SuperSystem served my superhero gaming needs well, but it's been a long time since I last gave it a spin. The rules have been through several editions since I bought my copy, but I never felt the need to upgrade to the latest version as the original edition did pretty much everything I needed it to. None-the-less, I was curious to see what was out there now and discovered that Scott Pyle had produced a new set; Super Mission Force, already in it's second edition so I have rather fallen behind with developments in the superhero gaming genre. There were enough glowing reviews, game reports and enthusiastic comments on the web to pique my interest, so I ordered a copy. They look good to me. The SuperSystem DNA is clearly evident, though the whole thing appears to be more streamlined. I've not tried them out yet, but - well, we'll see. If nothing else, they may nudge me to open up the box of unpainted SuperFigs that I know are buried somewhere in the cupboard. 


Sunday, 20 March 2022

Your Glorantha May Vary

I have only one wargaming regret - a lesson learned the hard way; never, ever sell your painted miniatures.

Back in the late 1970's my friends and I discovered role-playing games. Inevitably this involved numerous sessions of D&D, until one of my friends introduced us to Chaosium's RuneQuest. This was something of a revelation. The percentile based game mechanics, logical character progression, realistically lethal combat - and the Bronze Age, rune-magic infused world of Glorantha; everything about it just struck me as so much more 'grown up' and believably coherent than D&D's cartoonish medieval fantasy tropes. 

Looking back now, I can see that there was very little actual role-play to our games. No 'theatre of the mind' for us. It was mostly about cool miniatures, battling monsters and slaying stuff. No wonder I became a wargamer not a role-player.

And those cool miniatures? In 1982 Citadel Miniatures released the first of their boxed sets of 25mm RuneQuest miniatures to support the Games Workshop UK edition of the rules. Over the course of infrequent pilgrimages to Games Workshop's Birmingham store I managed to collect 9 of the eventual 12 box sets that were released. I must have been far more productive in those days because I painted every miniature and amassed quite a nice collection. They didn't see much action in their intended role as RPG miniatures, but did get repurposed as table-top troops for fantasy wargames. 

Time moved on, my wargaming interests changed and the RuneQuest miniatures remained packed away in their original foam-lined boxes. By 2010 I found myself in a financial tight spot and looking for any way to make a bit of extra cash. Out came the RuneQuest boxes and on to eBay they went. At the time I rationalised that they had been tucked away unused for at least a couple of decades and would probably see out the next couple in the same state, so there was no point holding on to them. Better to let someone else have them and get some use and enjoyment out of them.  I had a few moments of hesitation at the time, but how I wish now that I'd talked myself out of selling them. Looking back, it was a bit like throwing out a collection of old family photos. They were memories, part of my early gaming experience. I still feel a pang thinking about it. Well, there it is.

Enough of this maudlin nonsense!

I still have a small collection that escaped the 'sell off'. Just one original (empty) box and five miniatures; a griffin, a wyrm, a pixie and two Aldryami runners. I dug them out the other day. The miniatures were a bit chipped in places, probably from when they last saw action on the tabletop, but nothing serious so I decided to spruce them up a bit.  I restricted myself to retouching the small areas of damaged paintwork rather than doing a complete makeover as I wanted to keep the miniatures as close to their original state as possible. My only improvement was to replace the old square cardboard and flock bases with some proper round textured bases, which really helped to make the miniatures 'pop'.

I found it interesting to compare my current painting style with that of 40 years ago. It hasn't changed that much, but I used a lot more drybrushing back then.  Everything was painted in Humbrol enamels with white spirit or turpentine as a brush cleaner, so with that and all the drybrushing I must have got through cheap synthetic brushes at a fantastic rate. I can't figure out how I managed to paint any kind of detail with manky split-haired paint brushes, but I seem to have managed okay. My eyesight was a good deal sharper back then, even if the brushes weren't. 

So, here they are:

The Wyrm

Pixie

Griffin


A pair of Aldryami runners




That pesky pixie again, with a 16mm die for size reference. Tiny 'lil blighter he is.

In a fit of nostalgia I briefly contemplated rebuilding my original collection but quickly abandoned the idea. The boxes of figures do show up on eBay fairly regularly, but for eye-watering prices. A better plan would be to slowly add something new. There are a few miniatures from my Mythic Battles: Pantheon collection that would be perfect, so I already have enough to get me started. I'd also like to 3D print some miniatures that fit the look and feel of Glorantha as I envision it. This will be my personal take on Glorantha. Your Glorantha may vary.

Oh, and just because digging out the old miniatures gave me a sudden hankering for all things RuneQuest and Glorantha I bought this on impulse:


I have no intention to start role-playing but couldn't resist a purchase for curiosity's sake. It's a boxed set, which was a clincher for me. Proper RPGs always came in a box back in the day. It is a beautifully produced and presented set that I shall treat as inspirational reading. Fantastic!

Hmm, wait, there's a solo adventure in there...


Sunday, 20 February 2022

Bolshevik Commanders

Another small addition to my Russian Civil War collection. I resolved to pick some small, easily achievable goals to get my painting back up to speed. These chaps fitted the bill perfectly. Copplestone Castings miniatures are always a joy to paint and with their greatcoats providing some large areas and minimal additional detail I got them finished and based in double-quick time.







Sunday, 13 February 2022

Wayside Cross

This little project kept me happily occupied and out of mischief on a Sunday afternoon. The capped orthodox cross was made out styrene strips, scored with a sharp point to add some 'wood grain'. Constructing and painting the cross took up the majority of the work. The base was already textured, painted and ready to use. It had originally been intended as a test piece for some snow effects, but I had abandoned the idea and it was just waiting to be repurposed. Drilling a few holes for the foliage and cross, gluing everything in place and adding some ground cover was all that was needed to complete the piece.

I think it should look right at home as a terrain piece for my Russian Civil War project.





Sunday, 16 January 2022

Bucketheads

It only took 269 days to get these guys done. Boy did they kill my painting mojo dead. Endless shades of pale grey, white and black with nary a hint of colour just drained all my motivation. If you were wondering why this blog had stagnated, now you know the answer.  

To be fair, I can't pin all the blame on a bunch of Stormtroopers. There have been other factors at play, but really my enthusiasm and energy for painting has been at an all time low.









Never have I been happier to finally add a splash of colour!

Now, at last, my Star Wars: Legion Rebel Scum have some opposition.

So now that I'm happily wielding a paintbrush again, what's next? Well maybe some more additions to my Star Wars: Legion collection, or perhaps my long neglected Russian Civil War project. Or some other distraction? Watch this space ;-)