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We can have nice things

Whenever we came home from a convention, we had fun sifting through the treasures we had found. We always did that and normally sat together in a group and talked for a while about everything we saw and what we are planning to do with our new acquisitions.

There was no convention for us this year, everything was canceled. So, to compensate that a little bit, I took another trip to the shop I wrote about before. And this is what I found:


Looks like the stuff I usually take home with me. Because, whenever possible, I always rummage through the boxes with the old and dusty stuff. Not so much to look for cheap things, it's more like a treasure hunt for me. Finding the unexpected is more exciting than choosing something from new products. If it is a treasure is of course a matter of opinion, but my fantasy world is a little more colorful again.

(The blister with the Future Warriors in the middle doesn't quite fit into the picture. From time to time I pick up material for a SciFi project that is slowly taking shape. )


I was really lucky with the dragon, because that's exactly the one I've always wanted to have because it has a nice action pose, very different from most of the dragons that you usually find. (width about 30cm, lenght 21cm)



The cardboard kit unfortunately only contains the middle floor of a three-story building, but I hope I can add the rest by myself (scan, adapt and print) or convert the whole thing into a single building. 

In the post this morning : Black Baron Hobgoblins!

In January I wrote that the Hobgoblins from the Black Baron range would fit into my project too - if they would still be produced. Today they are here. Found them online by chance and bought them right away. 

This is how foam looks like after more than thirty years...

Despite their age, the figures are in excellent condition. Only the standard bearer is damaged but that can be fixed.


Strange looking creatures.The modeling is nice, but a bit rough, a little bit like a woodcut. If you look very close it's possible to "see" the modelling process.


The Original Box

While looking at the minis, I noticed a little problem with my concept. If I use groups of miniatures in my fantasy game that are so jumbled up and that I cannot expand into larger armies or regiments because they are so old and no longer available, I should refrain from making rules for "races" . Instead, I should just create a simple system of classes or qualities.

By race rules I mean: Orcs do this but hate that, Dwarves hate Elves, the Undead never run away and such. This naturally spices things up and can lead to special events or unpredictable behavior. But it also ties miniatures to a certain behavior or "fate". And do I want that?

The men from Greystone Castle

I bought the Knights on Foot at a convention over 10 years ago. The reason I never finished them has a simple reason: I didn't know for what. So we can conclude that I didn't even know why I bought them when I bought them. But you can always make use of knights and medieval miniatures by integrating them into fantasy scenarios because mostly everything looks more or less 'medieval' in fantasy worlds. Another practical thing about it is: I don't have to worry about the century and scenario in which the figures are "allowed". Fantasy allows everything. I mix them like I want.

They are not quite finished yet, some color on the base and the grass is still missing and Lord Grey also needs a flag. By the way, the renouncement of a colorful and individual design of the miniatures speeds up the painting notably. Choosing a simple color scheme and then painting them in batch does the trick.



The decals are from Games Workshop, I painted a few myself because there weren't enough. If you don't take it too seriously, you actually get to paint stuff like these lions yourself.

"Wear your helmet, it's dangerous outside!" - "Oh mum, cool kids wear headbands now!"



Some details:




Home by the sea: Greystone Castle. The name came from the large rock on which it once was built. From this stronghold the Greystone Family has controlled the mouth of the Akron river and protected the empire from the sea people for centuries.



I jumped in the vortex mixer line - Shake, Senora!

At the moment I'm looking for anything that makes the hobby easier. And so I followed one of the newer trends among wargamers: the vortex mixer. Everyone seems to have now such a device.  Except me. I did not read anything negative about it, so I got one too.


These vortex mixers were supposedly made for chemical laboratories to mix the contents of test tubes. Another popular use seems to be in tattoo studios, where they probably stir the color bottles with these machines. But I don't really know, not my world. Anyway, the wargaming community seemed to have discovered these gadgets two or three years ago in order to bring their chronically dried-out paint bottles into a usable state.

Which is a bit funny, because many miniature painters lamented for years that the available colors were too thin and not pigmented enough. That is the reason why the color ranges that offer strongly pigmented colors have received great popularity recently. Now the same people need machines to stir their rather thick paints. Am I the only one who can see the Irony?

The 'Problem'

Nowadays, acrylic paints very often come in dripper bottles and when it comes to stirring them it is nearly impossible. That's why we all know the annoying and somewhat strenuous process of intensive shaking the bottles. Someone on the net seriously reported that he had trembling muscles from shaking the colors and that he wasn't able to draw a straight line afterwards. Well, I think that's exaggerated. But the shaking is a bit burdensome as we can see in this video from Geek Gaming Scenics. It even became a kind of reflex for me: as soon as I'm in a hardware store and take a can off paint of a shelf, I start shaking it slowly without even thinking about it.

The mixer

The handling of the vortex mixer is very easy: you press the paint bottle into the recess on the soft rubber top and so activate a switch that turns the device on. The machine starts to shake and you hold the bottle against it for a while. The vibration creates a vortex in the liquid that stirs the paint. (If you use it with a glass container you can see it.) As soon as you let go the device stops.

The results depend very much on the condition of the paint and the length of time you hold it to the mixer. After some tries I can say that shaking the top of a color bottle (like shown above) makes more sense than placing it with the bottom onto the machine. Paint is always taken from the top of a container and that's the place where the medium separates from the color. So it is better to press the top of the paint bottle onto the device to get the best results.

The whole thing hums audibly, but you will not wake up your neighbors. One thing is really annoying : the sticky soft rubber on the top collects dust very quick and you can't really clean it.

Mine came for under 30 Euros. There are mixers that cost about 100 (and more) but I don't believe that they will be that much better for this purpose. Except the really professional machines of course. But at the moment I can't tell.

To complete my reflections I just made another test with a bottle of "Barbarian Flesh" (Army Painter) that I haven't used for months: 

  1. First a drop from the bottle without any shaking: Only clear paint medium, no color at all.

  2. 10 Seconds on the machine: Color, but very thin.

  3. Another 10 seconds : Usable color.

Twenty seconds and a good result, that's OK for me.

Would I buy it again?

Yes. I could live without it, but it really helps.


And for the people who don't know what the above title means : Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora) (Wikipedia)  Did anyone say 'Bettlejuice'? (Youtube)

Dungeon or temple interior

This weekend we went hiking. And on the way we were almost killed by a complete idiot on the highway. It was close. Very close.

Today we're pretty tired and I've only finished these parts. Soon coming to a dungeon near to... hmm....me.


The miniatures are from Reaper. The large is one glued only to the round base and can be detached from the pedestal.

The world is a village [updated]

Yesterday I sold some very old horror paperbacks from the 60/70's on Ebay. And when I saw the name and the city in the buyers address it struck me... I know who this guy is!

I did a little research and I was right : It is the man who opened the first shop and publishing house for fantasy literature and wargames in Germany in the 70's. He was also the guy who had the idea to licence D&D for the german market and did some of the first translations. Years later he was the co-author of the (for a long time) most successful RPG in Germany. So he is literally one of the few founders of the whole fantasy-games-thing here.  

A company of which he was one of the owners was for more than 20 years the biggest importer, publisher and producer of everything related to our hobby. The company gave away the licence to their games and finally closed shop in 2012 but he (age 72) is still running a small publishing business in the fantasy genre and so I could easily see that his business address matches the Ebay buyer's address.

Again a sign that our 'community' is in fact extremely small isn't it?

Shall I include a little 'Thank you' note in the package? For all the fun?

I do it. Best occasion.

[UPDATE]

Did it, included a short note. No reaction. Not that I expected something, but also no Ebay rating?


Exhaustion is never normal... keep an eye on it

I have just found that in my post before the last post there was already a sign of my (in fact ‚little‘) health problem. In March I wrote that I am doing the rough things like priming when I can‘t concentrate. It seems that the slow down I encountered was already in full progress month ago. And I was thinking that the weather, the rain and the corona crisis was the reason for my weariness.

One would think that a person with my background would be more careful.


Around this time, 30 years ago, I was in a hospital fighting cancer. I had a very hard time. Heavy operations followed by several month with chemotherapy. Not the ‚soft‘ kind of which I hear of today so often. The kind where the medical personnel was wearing protective clothing when they gave me the infusions because that stuff was so extremely dangerous and aggressive. (Not to protect me from infections because everything else was done without special protection.) I needed a full year of recovery and I had some side effects like neuropathic pain of which I hope and pray that I will never have it again.


I remember watching the news coverage of the Gulf War on a small TV set while I was lying in my bed in hospital. My brain, completely confused by the drugs, was constantly switching between reality and very strange dreams. And when I was dreaming I became part of the fighting! When I see these green night vision pictures of rockets over Baghdad today it still sends me back to that time of my life.


But as time goes by you go back to normal. You forget to be on the watch.


Would you go to a doctor when you feel a exhaustion for a while? Of course not, because we all think that‘s normal. I really think it is not. There is always something accountable for that. Maybe not something medical but there is something wrong that needs to be fixed.


Maybe we should all keep MORE THAN ONE eye on ourselves.



When miniatures can see their own shadow, a long winter is gone

The sun is shining again. I guess you can spot the tricorn.

Do you know this feeling when you can't do anything anymore? When everything is too much? When you are only able to do the 'dumb' stuff but nothing that needs a bit of concentration? That’s the state in which I lived for a while. And for a reason as I found out.

Weeks ago a visit to the doctor revealed that I had less vitamin D3 and B12 in my blood than Count Dracula after a hundred years of sleep. The values were on the edge. No wonder that I was going down, down, down... The first injection of B12 that I got then made me realize why people use drugs: It felt like I would be able to dance for three days without a break. And I actually can't dance. (No, you don't want to see that, believe me.)


My first action with the new energy was that I started to declutter like crazy. I visited the recycling station several times with a completely full car and unloaded stuff that was no longer needed. Old electronic devices whose operation made no sense at all. Lots of old computer parts. A lot of other stuff. Our waste bin here at home was also very busy. I realized that I would never use the old stuff again. Jesus, for what? Definitely not for anything serious.


But not everything was thrown away. There is a kind of welfare supermarket here where they sell donated stuff cheap and all the income is also used to help people who need it. Whatever I found reasonable to be used again or to be sold I gave to them and they where really happy to take it. If you have something like that in your area: use it, it makes sense. And its a kind of real recycling by the way.


At the moment there is still a large pile of books in the trunk of my car that I want to unload at the public bookcase. Our bookshelves look a lot more organized now!


I also had a huge archive of CD‘s and DVD‘s (about 900), full of data, software, projects, backups, games, books, documents, music and movies. Data from nearly 30 years of computing and electronic 'entertainment'. Sometimes data so old that I once copied them via serial cable from a nowadays nearly forgotten home computer to a PC. Or movies from digitized video tapes. Yes, back in the days I did that. That was me. And I tell you : trough the eyes of today the quality was terrible. So I looked through all of it and I needed weeks for that task. In the end, almost everything that was allowed to stay found a place on a single USB hard drive that fits in the pocket of my trousers. What a contrast to a full shelf!


If you wonder how one would use such an amount of discs: I had a database with a complete inventory of the contents that I constantly kept up to date whenever something changed. It always amazed people when we talked about something, I typed a search in my computer and almost immediately picked the disc with the according information, software, film, book or whatever from the shelf. A kind of private internet on discs. But that's over now.


So, the sun begins to shine again, the mood lifts and the power comes back. What felt like a never ending winter is over and some new action is going on:


1. Paint Rack


I bought a color rack that should make painting easier for me. The painting place will be no longer full of bottles that stand in the way and it will be easier or quicker to find the colors. Fortunately, this rack from Vallejo also fits my Army Painter bottles. My copy of the rack, which I bought via Amazon, came a bit warped and therefore wiggled a bit. But a few days later it had settled, exactly as I had expected. Sometimes you only have to use common sense and wait a bit.





2. Airbrush gets new life


I am assembling accessories so that I can now re-enter airbrushing to prime or prepare figures in larger groups. Up to now I used the Army Painter Primer-Spray and it gave me very good results but that had its pitfalls. It smells and spreads of lot of particles and can therefore only be done outside where wind and weather have to play along. And I have no garden or other real good place where I can use spray cans so it was always difficult for me. And by the way, maybe I will use the airbrush again to paint 'pictures'. I did that in the past and I was not too bad.


Nearly there. A new airbrush, cleaner, primer and cleaning pot. The compressor sits under the table. An very old but still working 'big one' from LUKAS. Back in the days bought for a descent amount of money. My car back then cost only 500 ,- bucks more... I tell you: nobody in this country drives cars like that anymore. ;-)


3. Gaming-Table setup


I am buying and organizing material to build a FINAL setup for my gaming table. After a long journey I will settle with a system of square tiles with a modeled surface with some height lines and limited 'deepness' to emulate rivers and holes in the ground.


Mounted on 25 cm wooden squares that I will let be made for me in the hardware store and that I will decorate with material from railroad landscaping. I will not waste my time with strange experiments in self building trees and the like. I am going to end now my endless search for the 'best' landscape solution.


And in this moment, literally while I was writing this blog post, the doorbell rang and the grass mats arrived. Loose grass of the same kind like the one the mats - for movable parts, bases and so on - is on the way.





Tomorrow morning I will visit the hardware store for the fist time in a complete year thanks to the shitty Covid-19 desaster. I have a long list. On top: the tiles for the gaming table. The show will go on.


Reinforcement from the Battle Masters ...boardgame

Apparently the Battle Masters game from 1992 game is only highly valued by board game collectors, who of course prefer the whole thing, complete and in a good condition. Loose and damaged figures on the other hand seem not to get much attention. And for many of today's wargamers, these old minis are rather uninteresting or they don't even know that this game ever existed. Great for me, because if you buy the figures loose, like I did, you get them amazingly cheap. The complete group of minis from that game came for only 25 euros. That's about 0,26 Euros per figure - also for the mounted ones - and that is a steal.


One of the previous owners was probably already on the way to detach these figures from their board game context and to move them into a 'real' wargame. There was a half-hearted attempt to paint one of the mounted knights and priming of the tower (ups, not on the photo...) had begun. Many of the holder bars from the minis have been cut off, probably because the figures were supposed to be mounted on (Warhammer?) plastic bases. And then it suddenly ended. Or the previous owner moved straight on to Warhammer Fantasy Battle, because attracting people to the Games Workshop Game was definitely one of the goals of this board game. Anyway, I'll pick up where the previous owner left off. 

But I have been very busy learning new development techniques for the past few weeks. I have created myself a massive 'tour de force' of books and educational videos to get back on track and examine new application and web development techniques and trends that I have neglected a bit over the years. That's the reason why it was very quiet here.

Since that took and still takes a lot of time and energy, I became a bit hobby-lazy during the past few weeks and so I only did the tower that was also included in the purchase. I always do the rough things like priming or assembling when concentration, motivation or energy is not really sufficient for anything else.

Since the thing is actually meant to be disassembled and stored in the board game box it had many open slots that I had to fill with Miliput after I glued the pieces together. Then I did the priming with 'Dark Stone' followed by drybrushing with 'Castle Grey', 'Uniform Grey' and finally with 'Ash Grey' (Army Painter Colors).

Lo and behold, the tower doesn't look bad. The nice part is that it has a lot of space on top so that you can put something on it and the whole thing is very robust.

And for the rest of the project I now have halberd-bearers that complement the Isenstein archers very well. And especially the 'dark' side of the game has grown considerably: orcs, goblins, wolf riders, chaos knights on foot and on horseback as well as beastmen and chaos archers. Around 60 minis plus for the baddies.


The dead hate the living... always

When I started working on my new fantasy project last summer (that feels so terrible far away now) I realized that I don't have a lot of figures for the dark side of my setup. And this hasn't changed much since then.

But I found something in my box for Ebay sales that took me a step forward. A group of skeletons from Reaper Miniatures that was bigger than I remembered them. I had sorted them out someday because I thought I had enough monsters and evil folks for dungeon crawls. Setting up an new 'army of darkness' was not on my list. 

They are here now and we all know, nothing represents the forces of evil better than the undead, normally shown as skeletons (and nowadays as zombies). A very old cliché that is actually a little bit strange because a skeleton is a part of every human body and we all will be only skeletons someday. But somehow we resent the undead when they return to life and automatically think they are evil. Maybe it's the smell. Consequently, whenever they appear in legends, movies, books and games, the undead always hate the living. 


From the movie 'Jason and the argonauts' (1963). The hero is finally confronted with a horde of skeletons who arise from the ground. The following fight is a masterpiece of stop-motion animation. A typical example of good vs. evil. Although we have to wonder if Jason, the thief of the golden fleece, is actually the good one in this story. (Picture: © Columbia Pictures)




 
The skeletons had not been painted very well and the shield was painted over two or three times because I was never realy happy with the result. Undead may be resistant against a lot of things, but not against a big portion of paint thinner. Don't do this with plastic minis, they would go straight to hell...
 


Here the the are, cleaned and ready for new priming. The archers on the left are from the boardgame 'Descent: Journeys in the Dark'. All in all 25 warriors plus 6 Archers.

 


Priming done and mounted on 25mm square bases. Another pile of bases where I had to close the slots with matchsticks. I would like to avoid this work, but I still have so many slotta bases and I don't want to throw them away.



The first test paint to find out which colors to use. 



And the result. Twenty five guys for the evil side of the game. The Skeleton that is attached to the standard is nothing religious by the way, only a different kind of 'banner'. Spontaneous comment from my wife : 'My God...!'



Progress report : Isenstein archers

Imperial Archers from 'good old' Warhammer Fantasy make up the first unit of Isenstein.

The archer is a Citadel/Warhammer model from the mid 90s. In the annual catalog from 1995/96 it is the archer No. 4. Back then, every piece from the Warhammer range had an order number and it was possible to order exactly the minis you wanted. It was also possible to order every single piece, loose arms, parts from warmachines or monsters. To me that was the golden age of Games Workshop.



I always hated the slotta bases with the diagonal openings so I mounted the archers straight on the square base. Means pinching off the holder bar at the bottom and filing the underside of the feet. The gap in the base was closed with an matchstick glued in place.

The holder bar shows something interesting. The figure is named 'FORSTJAEGER'. That is a pseudo german word because 'Forst' means wood and 'Jaeger' is the word for hunter but this combination of both words is not eligible in german. So the real meaning could be a 'forest ranger' but I can't remember that the empire had any unit like this. Forest rangers seemed to be more a wood-elven thing.


Something is missing in the linup above. A Lord who has only a unit of archers and nothing else would be in trouble soon. At the moment I don't know what minis I can add to make the picture complete.

The only ones I have that seem to fit are henchmen from Advanced Heroquest that I once bought loose on a wargamer flea market. In fact there is one here in the area twice a year and usually you can buy a lot of Warhammer and Games Workshop stuff there. Too bad. If the event comes back my fantasy armies will nearly be ready I think.

Don't know if I should use them in this context. I do not want to put the light blue color on them, a color scheme like this here would suit them better.

By the way, they share the same fate that a lot of plastic miniatures face : The material is a little bit brittle nowadays. The bodies are still ok but the weapons are not so durable anymore.


Fantasy homecasting : Men-at-Arms from Prince August mould No. 674

I said I would do homecasting for my fantasy project so I did it. My first fantasy mould is the Men-at-Arms mould no. 674 from Prince August. (Needless to say the name of the company, nobody else has ever produced fantasy moulds for the mass market.)

The first warriors of Zornburg and Lord Igor Zorn I. himself.

The mould before use.

 

First test. Not bad, but he mould needs some additional air vents.

 

With air vents: the weapons and contours are correct.


I casted a lot because I always cast too much. And as always there will be some minis where I did not see the miscasting in the first place so the amount made will be reduced by some pieces.

The outcome was not great 'art' but OK. A lot of other miniatures from the time when these moulds were designed - take some early Ral Parthas for example - would not fit into 28mm settings. Some wouldn't even pass for dwarfs. The miniatures from this mould are only a very little bit smaller compared to 28mm figures. Mount them on a base (like I did above) and the difference is nearly gone.

One of the next posts will be an overview of the mould series.


Problems with Blogger (UPDATE 2)

Yesterday I activated the 'Followers' gadget and the title is shown as can be seen on the right. And of course there are no followers at the moment because the blog is too new. I waited a little bit to see if I can get into a routine of blogging. And I think I am and so it was time to switch that on.

But now there is no button shown to become a follower. Strange. And in my profile I activated the display of the list of websites I follow. But this list also does not show up.

I ticked all the right options and I also switched it on and off to trigger the process but to no avail. I searched for help online. Nothing. Only the usual stuff: klick here, klick there, follow public. If I would not have done that.

Any idea anybody?

[UPDATE]

OK, the 'Follow' button was a problem for the script blocker. That is a 'social media' function and all of them were suppressed by default. I fixed that.

But the list of sites I follow does not show up, whatever I do.

[UPDATE 2]

Did you ever encounter that so called 'experts' don't have a clue? Look at this 'answer' to exact this problem from a 'Diamond Product Expert' on the support forums. With cryptic words he says to the user : click the checkbox in the 'Edit User Profile' dialog. Then he says something using different accounts that's more or less unrelated.

I looked at the profile of the original poster. His question is from 2019 and the list of his followed sites is still not displayed. And the forum question is closed because the 'expert' had enough of it. 

But he and another 'Platinum Product Expert' who wrote ' Never knew that feature existed."(I think he means the checkbox...) got more 'points' in the support system FOR NOT FIXING ANYTHING.

Is that 'Brave New World' or 'Planet of the Apes'?




The army of Greenwood is ready

A quiet weekend later and the spearmen of Greenwood are also done. This part of the army of Midgard is ready now. Greenwood is not to be expanded beyond this 24+2 figures.

The spearmen with helmets and the hero in front are from Crusader Miniatures. The guys without helmets (and some without hair) are from another manufacturer whom I can't remember at the moment. The other minis have been mentioned in posts before.

I think I must switch back to matt varnish. Most of the time the shiny varnish looks nice when the minis are on the table. Maybe because our eyes like shiny surfaces. But when photographed all the the highlights take away a lot.


Some Normans for Greenwood county

Small update this week. Some Axemen and Crossbows for the duchy of Greenwood. Initially acquired for SAGA, now looking for work in Retrosia. Two of the crossbows were missing so I build them from wood and a small piece of wire for the bolt. Not 'art' but it's ok I think. (At least for me.)

The axemen are from Crusader Miniatures (Dismounted Norman Knights with Axes) but the origin of the crossbowmen is a mystery to me. The Greenwood division of the Midgard army is now nearly ready. The rest is a unit of spearmen that is almost finished, they only need the gras on the bases and a flag.

In the background one can see that skeletons are one of the next units I am going to work on. And, on my other blog, 54mm napoleonic artillery.