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.

Friday 22 September 2023

Colour me Curious

I don't often buy painted figures. I have a modest number in my collection, but cost severely limits the possibility of acquiring more. That and the fact that I'm rather choosy about what matches my own painting style. I don't usually buy 3D printed miniatures either. I have my own printer and much prefer to print whatever I want rather than pay someone else to do that.

So, why would I buy pre-painted 3D printed miniatures? Good question. 

I suppose curiosity got the better of me again. It was an advertisement for Only-Games in one of my subscriber emails from MyMiniFactory that piqued my interest. Hmm, "Pre-Colored" 3D printed miniatures? They were running a promotion with a decent discount so I decided to take a punt. All in the name of research you understand.

Only-Games are licenced printers for a number of independent designers, so there's a varied selection to choose from. I deliberately selected two very different miniatures; the 'Vault-Tec Poster Girl' by Modiphius and a 'Kobold Cleric' by Bite The Bullet Studio. 

I chose the Poster Girl miniature as I felt this would be a good test of how well the printing process coped with representing flesh tones and hair texture. Then there's the bane of the shaky brush; the eyes. I do sometimes attempt to paint eyes but my worst failures come out looking like goggle-eyed freaks. Could colour 3D printing do better? I noticed that the miniature also has an integral base with lots of raised detail that would be a joy to paint in the traditional way. How well would the printing process manage this, I wondered?

I was interested in the Kobold miniature because it appeared to have quite a lot of detail and a number of different colours. I was curious to see whether the 3D colour printing process could represent shading, highlights and colour gradations that were similar to traditional painting.

Only-Games state that all their products are made on demand, with a production time of 10 working days for pre-coloured resin miniatures. I think I waited slightly more than a couple of weeks for the miniatures to arrive, so pretty much as Only-Games advertised. The miniatures came very well packaged, each in their own blister pack. They were protected from moving about inside their individual packs by a 'nest' of shredded paper strips (removed in the picture below) which did a good job of protecting the miniatures. Some time after I had unpacked them I did notice that the tip of the Kobold's tail was missing. However, I suspect that may be due to my clumsiness rather than any damage in transit. In any case, it is a very minor issue.

Blister packs (minus their shredded paper inner packaging).

Only-Games' website shows coloured digital renders of both my chosen miniatures, but no photos of the actual 3D colour printed figures. As you can see from the following pictures, what you see on the website and what you actually get are a little different. I wasn't surprised by this, but it would have been nice if there were pictures of the actual miniatures. To be fair to Only-Games, they do show pictures of some printed miniatures in the Pre-Colored range, just not the one's I chose. 

What you see...

... and what you get.

I was pleased to see that the colours on the digital render of the Poster Girl had been reproduced pretty faithfully on the actual printed figure. The blue in particular is a nice strong colour. There is a slight blurriness that is most obvious at the edges of the yellow trim. I guess this is a limitation of the colour print resolution. This seems to produce a slight graininess that you can also see around the edge of the base. On the plus side, I was happy to see that the miniature definitely has some shading and highlights. Had I painted the figure by hand I would have given greater contrast to the skin and hair, but otherwise the effect isn't bad at all. Close-up digital photos are also quite unforgiving and when viewing the figure at arm's length as it would be seen on the tabletop it really looks quite good.

Oh, and the eyes are there too. I doubt I would be able to improve on them if I had to paint them by hand.

I don't think I would have been able to improve on the base either. The details are nice and sharp and the choice of colours really help to make them stand out. Top marks to Only-Games on the base.

I'm not sure what method is used to apply colour to the miniatures. Only-Games don't say on their website, but I suspect it is something similar to the colour-printed option offered by HeroForge where colour is applied using something akin to a 3D colour 'inkjet'. This means the colour is only on the surface, which you can see in the photo below where the base is slightly mis-printed, revealing the underlying resin. Presumably the pigments are fused with the resin at the printing stage, so should be resilient to wear from normal handling.

The branding had me baffled until I realised that Modiphius hold the licence
to produce miniatures based on the Fallout video game by Bethesda Softworks.

Now, on to the Kobold Cleric...

What you see (Only-Games' digital render)...

...and what you get.

I really like this miniature. The colours are more muted than the digital render but I like it better for that, particularly the paler green skin tones. Like the Poster Girl, there are shadows and highlights, particularly noticeable on the hood and loincloth. Again, definition is slightly weak. If this was a hand-painted miniature I would have made the recessed areas darker and added brighter highlights to the raised areas to create greater contrast. I'd probably have used a bit of black lining too, to better define and separate the various parts of the miniature - for example on the straps and buckles of the bag. 

So my verdict? Well, not bad at all. If these were traditional hand-painted miniatures they would probably have sharper lines between the colours and greater contrast but as I said earlier, at arms length they look perfectly fine. I think the main consideration for me is cost. Had they not been offered at a significant discount I think I would have passed over them. At the time of writing, the Kobold is £11.80 which is comparable to the going rate for a 'table-top standard' hand-painted miniature of this level of detail. However, the Poster Girl is £20.00. I guess the base adds to the cost and there is probably a mark-up for the licence Modiphius pays to Bethesda Softworks, but that's a bit steep for what would be a fairly basic paint job by traditional methods.

The other pertinent issue is the miniatures' intended use. I do think they are aimed more at the Role-Playing Games community, rather than table-top wargamers. In that context, they are probably filling a niche but I think that's a long way from breaking into the wargames market. Now, if they ever start 3D colour printing Napoleonic armies, or troops in Tartan kilts, that would be something else!

Friday 23 June 2023

Back to the Bolsheviks

After a long gap, I have returned to my Russian Civil War forces with a new addition to bolster the Reds. Using my chosen rule-set, Red Actions! by The Perfect Captain, these will represent a company of Red Regulars. I didn't want them to look too uniform since the term 'regular' doesn't really refer to the state of their dress. A mix of Copplestone Castings 'BU03 Elite Bolshevik Infantry' in budenovkas and 'BU01 Bolshevik Infantry' in peaked caps did the job.

I tried something different with the flag this time. My previous flags were simply printed onto plain paper which gives perfectly acceptable results but doesn't reproduced the intensity of the original image colours particularly well. That's fine for representing battle-worn or faded flags, but I wanted something a bit more pristine this time. The answer was to print the flag as before, but then 'paint' it with artists' inks. I printed several copies so I could experiment and practice a bit. It needs a steady hand for some of the finer detail, but I found that with a bit of patience I could achieve an acceptable result. It's really just careful 'coloring in' over the existing printed colours, but the colour saturation is much improved. 

I chose not to represent a specific unit, so the flag is a generic design with slogans and symbols pulled together from various online sources and assembled in Word and Photoshop. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the text, but at this scale and at a distance on the tabletop I think it conveys the right look.

Sunday 9 April 2023

Imperial Alternative

Another small addition to my forces for Star Wars: Legion; an Imperial officer from AGM / Alternative Gaming Miniatures. 

AGM used to produce some interesting Star Wars inspired miniatures and I've added a few of them to my collection in the past, usually when they were running a sale as they were otherwise pretty pricey. They are traditionally sculpted, cast in resin and scale well with the official Star Wars: Legion miniatures. Sadly, they appear to be out of production now. I believe the owner did announce a permanent closure then reappeared briefly, but their website has displayed a 'closed for maintenance' message for a long time now.

This figure came with a choice of two separate heads (helmet and peaked cap) and a choice of two separate hand weapons. Assembly was very straightforward. All the parts were very cleanly cast, requiring a minimum of cleanup and preparation prior to painting. The nice crisp detail on the miniature meant painting was a joy.

I've photographed him here with a couple of the barricades from the Star Wars: Legion boxed set as I had forgotten to include pictures of them in my previous posts.

Sunday 12 March 2023


Continuing the Star Wars theme from my previous post, here's the latest figure fresh off the painting desk; Star Wars: Legion - Darth Vader.

I'd put off painting him for such a long time, pushing him to the back of the queue in favour of other Star Wars: Legion figures. It's probably the thought of painting all that black. There's actually a lot of sculpted detail on the figure and I worried about it being lost with everything turning out a bit on the dark side. (See what I did there! 😉). 

The helmet was the first area to receive attention as I figured if I could get that to look right, everything else would flow from there. It took me a while to get a satisfactory result as to begin with I wasn't bold enough with my highlights. Possibly I could have gone even further with the highlights to give a really shiny effect, but decided to stop when I was happy with it and not push my luck too far. By this stage I was feeling a lot more confident about painting the rest of the figure.

For the cloak and clothing I started with varying shades of blue-grey and toned them down with successive black washes to add depth. This was followed by dry-brushing successively lighter layers of blue-grey to gradually bring out the highlights. This worked well as there is a lot of texture on the figure and the cloak has plenty of folds.

Before I started painting, I already had a good idea how I wanted the lightsaber to look and knew that using a single solid colour just wouldn't give the right effect. It needed to have that red aura, but with a white-hot center. I'd already experimented with painting a paler inner stripe along the length of the lightsaber on the Luke Skywalker figure, but I felt I could have been a bit braver with the contrast and wanted to try this on Vader's lightsaber. This was achieved by painting the lightsaber in an appropriate red base-coat, then adding a thin pink line along the length and then a thinner, almost white line on top. I used several very thin layers to build up the effect so the lines didn't appear too 'hard'. Second time around I was a lot happier with the final result. 

I did have to think carefully about the placement of the white stripe on the lightsaber as the effect only works best when viewed from certain angles. An obvious choice was along the top of the lightsaber when viewed from above as this is how the figure is most likely to be viewed on the tabletop. (See the picture below). I also painted stripes along each side of the lightsaber so these are visible when the figure is viewed from the left or the right. The second and third pictures above show this. I took them from angles that show off the effect to best advantage but on the tabletop, depending on the viewing angle,  you won't always see this. This is a compromise but I decided it still looks better than leaving the sides of the lightsaber plain red. I think the effect works best from angles where the reflected glow on the clothing is visible. 

Painting that red reflection did give me a headache as apart from a fairly cautious attempt on the Luke Skywalker figure, I have not tried painting Object Source Lighting (OSL) effects before. I was already really happy with how the figure had turned out and was worried that I'd mess up the OSL and spoil all my hard work. As it turned out, I achieved the effect I was looking for and do feel a lot more confident about trying more OSL effects in the future. It's always nice to learn a new technique. 

Painting this figure is something of a milestone as he is the last of the miniatures to be completed from my Star Wars: Legion core set. Looking back at the blog, I posted the first group of completed figures from the set about two-and-a-half years ago. Scarier still, it's been nearly four years since I first bought the set. Ah well, as I said in the very first post on this blog; "To begin is good. To continue is better. To finish is best".

May the force be with you!

Sunday 19 February 2023

Farmboy Hero

I fell off my hobbyhorse rather badly toward the back end of last year (long story not worth repeating here) and it has taken me far longer than I anticipated to get back in the saddle - at least as far as painting is concerned. That's not to say the past months have been a complete hobby desert. On-line games via Skype resumed in the New Year and Ian and I have just wrapped up a cracking series of Star Trek games using Fistful of Lead Galactic Heroes. Maybe one day I'll recreate some of those games and post on the blog. 

Anyway, to get back to the painting, here's the first fruit of my labours this year; Star Wars: Legion - Luke Skywalker. 

I like this figure a lot. The sculptor did a great job of capturing the look of the young Skywalker as he appeared on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. He wields his lightsaber, but he's "not a Jedi yet" - and he knows it, which is probably why he still carries a holstered blaster pistol as 'back-up'.

I really enjoyed painting this figure. There's not too much fiddly detail and painting progressed fairly quickly by my own standards. The only thing that caused me some hesitation was figuring out how best to paint the lightsaber, but I think I nailed it. I'm happy with the result and that's what counts.

So a very enjoyable return to painting in 2023. It feels good to get the paintbrushes out at last. Next up in the painting queue; Luke's secret dad, Mr Vader himself.

Till next time.

Monday 31 October 2022

Back of Beyond Misfits

What to do with these guys? They are (mostly) Copplestone Castings 'White Russians in Chinese service'. They're some of the very first figures that I painted from Copplestone's Back of Beyond range at a time when my interest in gaming the Russian Civil War was little more than the germ of an idea. I'm sure Mr Copplestone intended them to be mixed up in some rip-roaring action and adventure in the far east, with the Mad Baron von Ungern-Sternberg, Mongol tribesmen, Chinese Warlords and all that jazz. That's all very well, but my direction of travel pointed more towards Siberia or the Kuban than Mongolia and these chaps look a tad out of place for those theatres of the Russian Civil War. My odd choice of uniform colours doesn't help matters either.

But never mind. Never let historical accuracy get in the way of a good game, to paraphrase some wit called Twain (no, that's Mark not Shania, you philistine!)

Lets face it, there are plenty of examples of 'fantasy' RCW wargame armies with over-represented ''colourful' units, tanks, or elite 'cheka' and the like. Don't sweat it. It's a game.

And I haven't completely abandoned historical accuracy. If you know your Copplestone ranges and look closely, I've painted up a couple of 'Ragged White Russians' and mixed them in to give enough figures for four bases. So then, another unit completed for my RCW forces.

Sunday 25 September 2022

Need For Speed

Okay great, you're an Imperial Scout Trooper. You have a 74-Z Speeder Bike capable of several hundred km per hour. Sure that's fast, but at that speed it steers like a cow. So, where do they send you? Endor. Some god-forsaken forest moon packed full of trees. If the murder bears don't get you, you'll likely end up splashed all over the trunk of some giant redwood.

But these two guys are luckier. There aren't too many trees on Tatooine. 

Yes, here are a pair of Scout Troopers on their speeder bikes ready to join my Star Wars: Legion Imperial forces. As usual, they are based for arid or semi-arid operations, the aforementioned Tatooine for example.

The Scout Troopers were quite fun to paint, which is perhaps surprising after my challenging experience with their Stormtrooper brothers in arms. It's probably because there are only two of them so painting progressed quickly before I got bored. 

The speeder bikes were also a pleasure to paint. Just a couple of main colours with washes and subtle drybrushing to highlight the detail. Nice and simple, but effective I think.