The Leadheads of Darkness

This weeks painting ends with some of my oldest miniatures rebased and repair-painted. A wild mixture of mostly Essex and Copplestone miniatures I think. Right on time for Halloween.


Contrast Colors and a visit to a local Wargames Club

Some weeks ago a friend invited me to come over for a paint session. He introduced me to the (for me) new Contrast Colors from Games Workshop and so I tried them on some Reaper Miniatures.

Here are the (not completely ready) results. The lizards where primed and then simply painted with "Contrast Ork Flesh" and "Contrast Mantis Warriors Green". No washing, no shading. The giants leather jacket (can't find the name of the mini) was painted with "Contrast Snakebite Leather" and the nice leather effect came immediately. Again, no other paint, no further work step. The Troll was painted with another contrast color I can't remember and then washed with "Strong Tone" from Army Painter. Most of the painting was done in a few minutes, details came later.

I must say that these paints are an astonishing product. They may not be suitable for all kinds of miniatures and used too much may result in creating a very specific look, but chosen to paint some parts of minis can bring nice effects and speed things up. I am definitely going to try more of the contrast colors.

And while I was visiting him, I took a photo of his painting place. Like a lot of the younger generation he is all into the Kickstarter and 3D-Printing thing. Which will become (or is?) the biggest threat to the business model of Games Workshop and the like I think. When he started printing I was very skeptical but he has his 2nd printer now and the quality of the miniatures is really high.


On that Sunday we also visited the Club he is a member off. They reside in a large bunker and during the Covid crisis the club grew from about 30 members to around 100 members. At the moment they are in progress to double their space and furnish another floor of that building.

One of the three(!) playing areas.

Part of the building and painting area. They also have a special room for spray priming.

And it's Friday again, only some month later. Or: The other side of the hill.

Some tough months later, filled with suddenly appearing serious heart problems and different other health problems, a short stay in a hospital, a lot of meetings with doctors and an operation to repair a damage I (probably) received during that cancer treatment decades ago. And all that with the war, the energy crisis, the problem of rising cost of living looming in the background. As if I don't have enough to care about.

Maybe I should have blogged about it. That's what blogs once were created for. But I was not in the mood for anything. It's strange how much these things can hold you down. Even when your health problems don't really stop you physically the mental hurdles can become sky high. I am absolutely not the guy for depression but it killed the spirit and slowed me down.

But finally all seems to become better. My doctor was really amused when I walked into the examination room the day after the operation, saying that I am the only one walking in there like nothing had happened. In the time after it the wound from the operation healed extremely fast and two weeks later it did not hurt anymore.

And with the help of an incredible amount of medication my heart also seems to have recovered. So I had the opportunity to see something you may not see so often : a cardiologist who is really happy with the result of his work. In March of this year I was only weeks away from getting a defibrillator implanted and now he is talking about getting my heart back to normal performance. That was a relief.

It's of course not over by now, but I think I am on the other side of the hill.

(And if you are to polite to ask: no overweight, no smoking...)

The most stupid thing I did during this time happened on a day trip (exactly two days after my last post) to an old steel plant that is now open to the public and used as a recreation area. After climbing the stairs to the top of this blast furnace and arriving on the platform 70 meters above the ground my heart made a strange jump for a moment. Only one. That was before it had recovered and it gave me a little shock. But I am still not sure why this happened. Was it exhaustion - I made breaks going up there - or only the simple and completely irrational fear of height? At first I did not want to go because half the way up I felt a bit uncomfortable (and I was not the only one) but then I decided that I have to overcome it. I think I have to work on that.

The second furnace seen from the first one. An exact copy of the one I am standing on. The thing down there is a man on a bicycle. Funny, there were hundreds of visitors running around and I managed it to take a photo with only one person on it.

By the way, in August of this year they shot some scenes for the upcoming new Hunger Games movie "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" there.

Friday Night

The last Vikings for Nordmark and 10 archers from Battle Masters. Mothers day is on Sunday, so I had to finish these guys.  Time to clear the diner table now. (that's where I paint)

Cleaning old miniatures: Let the water do the work

A new(?) technique for people who want to get rid of the paint on old figures: instead of laboriously cleaning the figure with a brush after bathing them in paint thinner for some days, simply remove the remaining paint in the shower with a very strong beam of water.

It's much faster and more accurate. You don't have to remove so much flakes manually afterwards. And because it's faster, it also avoids having to inhale too much of the smell or having to touch the figures while there's still some paint thinner on them. The miniatures are of course put into the shown bowl WITHOUT paint thinner!

The bowl prevents the figures from being thrown around and loose parts such as swords and shields are also caught. To get the best results I pick up every miniature and hold it under the stream to mill off the remaining paint flakes. 

The result. As always there is one who does not want to be cleaned. In every group, believe me. A clear case of pure resistentialism.

And for the environmentalists: I catch most of the paint flakes before they can go down the drain! There's a grate over the sink with small holes that catches most of them. And the used paint thinner is of course always collected and brought to the recycling center. Yes, that's used paint thinner above, not orange juice. I punched holes into the lids to let gas out when the miniatures take their bath. Don't know if I had to, only to be on the safe side.

An 8% jump

The vikings I wrote about a long time ago are finally ready. I bought a good part of them painted on a crisis convention years ago. For a while now I was on and off working on re-basing, repairing and partly repainting them. Yesterday evening I was ready and the guys went straight from the painting table to my (IKEA) miniature cabinet. I should have waited a little bit longer... the PVA glue on the bases was not dry enough and now I have to clean the glass. But I was so happy. And tired, it was very late.

So where is the jump? Well, I have an spreadsheet file that I use too manage my collection. The front page shows an overview of all projects with the amount of planned miniatures, how much missing, how much painted and so on, the project themselves are on separate sheets where they are split in armies and units.

A few days ago.

With the vikings now ready and the Brigant archers from last month the percentage of miniatures painted for this project jumped from 36% to 44%! Of course, the Vikings may not be ‚fantasy‘ miniatures but at the moment they belong to Retrosia and so are counted like that. Here they carry the name of the NORDMARK army and belong to the land of THULE.

(THULE is split in three kingdoms now: Runestone (Barbarians), Nordmark (Vikings, also called „the Sea People“ in this game) and Fimbul, the home of the northern Dwarves.)

Some leftovers still have to be done, one of them is missing his right hand and that means modeling a bit. I hope I can help him. As you can see commanders, champions and heroes get a slightly bigger base now to make them recognizable.

I think I will have to make the vikings a little bit more future proof. To make it possible to take them out of the fantasy context one day and use them for SAGA or other historical games I think I will have to add some archers or so.

So, enough for today. Happy Easter days to everybody!

Cleaning can bring unexpected revelations

These days I made a cleaning test. I took samples from some groups of the newcomers to find out if the paint is easy to strip. And there is a reason for that. Sometimes the old paint definitely does not dissolve and you end up having minis that stay half painted. Horrible to work with...

So I put these guys in paint thinner and forgot about them for more than a week. And I was right to test it beforehand. The male and female barbarians and the dwarf on the top left have kept most of their paint and therefore should not be treated with paint thinner. Now I know which groups I can clean easy and on what figures I have to work on top of the old paint.

Yes, I know, I said that I don't want to strip the paint this time, but working on some of the miniatures I found out that working on old paint that once was applied to thick is not so funny. A lot of the details are lost. I changed my mind on this.

Remember the miniatures I called 'Smurf Elves'? I did so because of the blue skin they have. But now one of them is free of paint and glue I was able to read what's written under the base: "Garrison" and "SS87". According to the StuffofLegends website this is a "Man-goblin with bow and spear" from their Sword & Sorcery range. "Sculpted by the late John Braithwaite and based on the Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian novels" (LostMinisWiki)

Fine, now let's find out what a "Man-Goblin" is and where they appear in the Conan stories... ;-)

The "Orc" has the mark "RAF" and "C." and "1985". I did not believe for a second that the Royal Air Force ever made orc miniatures so the next guess was RAFM miniatures. And I was right, I found them on the LostMinisWiki ( LINK ):

"RAFM originally released this Orcs series as "Legions of Darkness" and they were part of RAFM's "The World of Repauria" setting. This range of 25mm figures featured Orcs & Goblins and used product codes in the 3xxx range. All the models were sculpted by Bob Murch apart from the Chaos Goblins by Stephen Koo. In the UK, Portage Miniatures had the rights to manufacture this range. "

Brandors Archers are ready

With the news on here the whole day, it's gotten really hard to focus on anything else. Programming is also very difficult for me at the moment because all the time I have the feeling that I am missing something. I really have to force myself to stop constantly following the news. Seems that I'm still hoping for a spontaneous change in the situation that will end the madness.

However, one thing is clear. After what has happened during the last days we will probably not be able to find our way back to that (relative) calm in which we made ourselves so comfortable. (Here in Europe) We must not again succumb to the illusion that our old enemy, the Soviet Union, is really gone. It was only sleeping. And so were we.

Well, besides that, by working a little bit on miniatures every evening, I still managed to get something done. Brandor's archers are ready, 31 men in all.

Next come these figures, which need a repaint and repair. They also will be part of Brandors Avengers. Most of the minis are so called 'Forest Warriors' from the World of Greyhawk series made by Minifigs. Meant as a kind of wood elves I believe. Even though some of them look more like Aztecs don't they? But I think in the 70's an 'exotic look' was enough to be seen as a fantasy figure.  Maybe also in real life.

These gentlemen are bandits who once followed a certain 'Robin Hood' on his crusade against the establishment. (Figures by Hinchcliffe). According to the Lost Minis Wiki, they were also sold as playing pieces for a boardgame.

I have not yet been able to identify these two guys. Any ideas?

The Always Forwards Hobby-Strategy

In a comment to my last post Maudlin Jack Tar wrote ' I've never seen so many of these figures together in one place!"

Somehow I needed some days to see what that really means. It's so right. Who, back in the early days when these minis came out, bought so much fantasy miniatures? Nobody had something like that, fantasy wargaming was not a big thing. And later, in the 80's, people had different miniatures I think. From Ral Partha, Grenadier or Citadel(?). 

So someone really took the bull by the horns, right?

I don't know how the collection once was build up and I can't speak for the previous owner. As for me: I'm not rich. The opposite is the case. In fact, I got these old figures so dirt cheap that you would fall out of your chair if I told you how cheap they were. You could have dinner with your wife in a restaurant for what I gave. But it wouldn't be enough for a second time. OK, I heard you falling...

So I just grabbed an incredibly good opportunity. And that's the strategy I follow for while now.

In the past I have observed again and again that even people who - based on their financially situation - had the chance to get ahead more easily in their hobby (or other things) but always just plan, talk, hesitate, hesitate and then do nothing. They have this one quirk: they can't decide. These are people who could sometimes purchase anything they say they want or need for their favorite project with the money they can easily spare in just a single month. But then always just talk about it, so that in the end nothing ever happens.

At some point I realized that hesitation is nonsense.

To be honest, the things that we need for our hobby, for example, are actually not out of reach for most of us. I have therefore decided for myself that I will seize a good opportunity if there is one.

However, sometimes you have to take a risk. As a (nearly former because I'm about to give that up) trader - I'm maybe a little more used to jumping in at the deep end and saying "yeah, give me the three boxes." And don't let me be bothered by the fact that some deals come with a bit of junk.

I did that again a few days ago. I was offered a large stock of old moulds still in their original packaging and I bought them all. I will take some for my collection to exchange existing used ones for good new ones and the others I will probably sell and get most of my money back, if not more. 

Collectors have always done this. They take advantage of the fact that most people are afraid of the risk of a bulk purchase. And they don't shy away from the effort of selling the surplus again or using it as barter goods. Some collections can only be completed in this way because if you are waiting to buy things individually without 'risk', you may be looking for forever.

By the way, not that the impression arises that I would like to seek some kind of absolution for my purchases here because I said in my "Mission" that I would like to go the cheapest way possible. Not at all, I only want to explain that I am currently pursuing a kind of 'forward strategy' and that it seems to be working. And it also works in other areas of life, I've found.

The Great Reinforcement - Box 2 - Woodelves, Hobgoblins, pig-faced Orcs and Smurf-Elves

Here are the contents of the second box from my big figure purchase. With both boxes, my fantasy collection has grown by the enormous amount of 465 miniatures and the number of figures for the project has now exceeded the mark of 1000 pieces.

You could say "stop, that's enough". And that would be true. That was my first thought too. But then I decided that it would be foolish to say that because I wouldn't stick to it anyway (I know myself). And secondly, it's still possible to get old treasures at the moment for a reasonable price sometimes. That will become harder and harder. I've watched the prices for classic miniatures and other old Wargaming and RPG stuff rising like nothing else in the past few years. So I keep on looking.

The miniatures now have to be restored and partially repaired. I think I'll save myself the stripping of the old paint this time, it's just too much effort. I hope the existing paint layer turns out to be a usable foundation.

You could already see some of them in my blogpost from Monday. Maybe you remember the archers, which I was able to reinforce during my 'time travel experience'. They once were 3 miniatures hopeless alone and are now 30 pieces strong, a fairly large unit.

These hobgoblins complement the Black Baron miniatures I found last August. If you think that they look a little bit weird: the design is based on the illustration in the first D&D Monster Manual form 1977. So this is how D&D-Hobgoblins originally looked like...!

Ahh...pig-faced Orcs, also an early D&D design. Everybody should have some, no household is complete without them.

Orcs in the background but what's that in the foreground? Smurf-Elves?

I went down the rabbit hole almost to the beginning with this purchase. You can hardly go much further back in time. In this post here on the blog 'Where the sea pours out' we can see that the the hobgoblins were already available in June 1977 when Minifigs announced them in the Battle for Wargamers magazine. The pig-faced orcs were available in 1978. 

Perfect timing, it seems the TSR and Minifigs worked hand in hand. The D&D Monster Handbook was released in 1977 and miniatures based on drawings in that book are produced and sold in June of the same year. In those days Minifigs had the sole rights to produce figures under the D&D label and at that moment in time they were somehow at the forefront of the fantasy hype to come...

(By the way, has anyone seen miniatures from this collection in action anywhere, does anyone know who the previous owner was? From the rest I've seen during the sales, the owner was a very busy wargamer. He had big armies for the ECW,  7YW, Romans, Greeks, Persians, also medieval knights and armies for the Malburian age. Old school miniatures, armies for both or more sides or nations. What was sold must have been about 10-15.000 miniatures, if not more. Nearly everything painted, the pike & shot minis often based in groups of 4. I don't believe that nobody has ever seen them.)

The Great Reinforcement - Box 1 - A lot of stuff from the "World of Greyhawk"

As already mentioned, I haven't painted or built much in the past few months, but of course I haven't forgotten my hobby. Late last year I came across a number of online auctions from a dealer I know who had bought up a very large Wargaming collection and was selling it in bulk. And among them were two boxes with fantasy miniatures. Luckily nobody had discovered these offers and so I was able to acquire them without having to fight over it.

And here are the contents of the first box. Most of them seem to be figures from Minifigs 'World of Greyhawk' series released around 1980.

Of course I checked it and found out that you can actually still buy some of the figures. (Or again...?) But the whole nature of the mentioned collection as well as the very old-fashioned paint job and the practically 'antique' grass on the bases suggests that these are actually very old figures. 

A first look at the content. Fortunately, they came
all in large groups and not just single figures.
The legacy of a wargamer.

Hmm what is that? Elves with blowguns?

More men for Brandors avengers?

Barbarians. If you still have doubts about when they were designed,
check out the haircuts...

Nice, I always wanted to add some amazons.
Or are these just female barbarians?

Not dead yet

September, October, November, December AND January. That's a long time. Not that I had no hobby activity, but it really wasn't that much. And I had no time to write about it. The end of the year was a very busy time for me and January was not better.

One funny thing happened last December. I found out that I had collected a tremendous amount of 'points' on Ebay because during the whole year I had sold a lot of stuff. I remember that I once clicked YES when the system asked me if I would take part in a 'points program'. Of course, why not? What could go wrong? 

And then... I totally forgot about it until the moment I clicked the menu item out of pure curiosity.

So realizing that I had some 'virtual money' there I looked at my Amazon wishlist, looked the same stuff up on Ebay and when I found it I used the points and bought it right away. It felt like getting the stuff for free. Of course it was not, a seller pays a lot of fees and these 'points' are somehow included there. But it felt like free.

So for two weeks DHL was at my door nearly every day. I bought a lot of books about software development and I added more than a meter of books to my library. Yes, that sounds a bit old school, but a lot of this material is still not available digitally. And you can buy books used and get more for the same amount of money or 'points'. I still like real books by the way.

What else did happen? I bought a MacMini. Because I want to switch development to that environment. Difficult to explain but some things really work better on a Mac than on Linux. Comes the day when you are tired of reading "...oh, and if you would like to install it on Linux look at 'Appendix A' or this website here where it is explained for some Linux distributions but not your generic one...". And often the explanation is wrong or too old. I am really tired of that.

I am still in the process of adapting to MacOS. Making a good mechanical keyboard working on the Mac (in my case a HyperX gamer keyboard) was one of the problems of last days. But the machine is set up for the moment and for the projects I am working on during the next weeks and months.

And now, while looking for a picture to illustrate this post I saw from the dates of the photos on my phone that my routine was disturbed exactly on the day after my last blog post. The day when a water pipe in our bathroom broke...

Interesting to see how single events things can move your attention away and break habits.

So, a sign of life for today. I hope I haven't killed the interest in this blog because it will go on for a long time. 

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.