Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using D&D Minis in 1/72 scale

Like my recent post on Reaper Bones minis, this post is about adapting common gaming minis in a larger scale to 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog. As with the Bones, D&D minis are a little bit more expensive than what you'd pay for true 1/72 scale plastic minis, but they are useful for adding character and monster types that are otherwise unavailable in the smaller scale. Even so, most of these figures cost me less than a buck a piece (I've marked the figures that cost more than a dollar with a $ symbol).

The tricks here are the same as with other large minis: use smaller humanoids as human-sized minis in the smaller scale, and use large monsters in the same way you'd use them in a larger scale. The painted minis are collectible minis from the D&D Miniatures game, while most of the unpainted ones are from the various D&D board games that Wizards of the Coast recently produced.

Here are Klak the kobold sorcerer, playing the part of a 1/72 lizardman; an Air Mephit$, a Female Halfling Cleric$, a Halfling Sneak, Tomble Burrowell$ from the Descent boardgame by Fantasy Flight games,  and a Mephling Pyromancer. This last was a bit of a disappointment: I bought four, hoping for a squad of 1/72 devil legionnaires, but they're a bit too small and slight for that purpose. I may adapt them as halflings, or see if I can do a head swap to give a devilish head to a larger miniature. The cleric and the Descent figure are also a bit small, but believably human in the smaller scale.

A Grell, a Giant Snake, a Cave Bear, a Gibbering Mouther, and a Grick. The Grell looks a bit oversized, but the rest of these monsters look great next to Sven the comparison viking.

Finally, some swarms: a spider swarm and a rat swarm, with a Reaper Bones scarab swarm to Sven's left.

Update: a few more D&D miniatures: a female Halfling Paladin$, a Halfling Enchanter$, and a Halfling Wizard$. This last one surprised me in that it looks like a halfling even in 1/72 scale. Between it and the Mephling Pyromancer discussed above, I'm wondering if there are other D&D minis that would make suitable 1/72 scale halflings.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kobolds completed

I finished painting my kobolds, my most recent project.

Sorry they look a little washed out. They're Reaper Bones, with some modifications (see here for more). They're shown here with Sven the comparison viking and Mullog the comparison goblin. The ones that stand upright look perhaps a little too tall, but all in all they work great for 1/72 fantasy. I'm hoping Reaper releases some of Ben Siens' other kobold sculpts in Bones plastic to round out my cheap kobold army.
Goblins vs. kobolds! Who will emerge the ankle-biting nuisance monster extraordinaire?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zombies step-by-step Pt.1: Head swaps

Update: Be sure to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this tutorial: Part 3 shows the final figures. Also, I should add that I adopted from Paul's "Head swop" guide for this technique, so thanks to him!

I'm getting ready to start my next project, so I figure I should put together a step-by-step guide for putting together and painting miniatures the Cheap Fantasy Minis way. I haven't painted any undead yet, and zombies are the obvious choice. Surprisingly there aren't many generic zombies available in 1/72 scale, but that's where this tutorial comes in. By cleverly chopping up and reassembling existing figures, you can have a miniature shambling horde in no time.

1. Necessary materials include a hobby knife, super glue, a pin vise with a very thin bit, a pushpin with a round head, a suitable miniature for the body (here, a tan Italeri barbarian), another for the head (a gray Caesar Miniatures skeleton), and a pair of needlenosed pliers with wirecutters. I've already separated the heads and bodies with the knife: When doing so, keep as much of the neck on the head as you can, and remove as much of the neck from the body as possible.

2. Take the pin vise and drill a hole in the center of where the neck was on the body figure. Obviously you don't want to drill all the way through the body, but you can go deeper than you'd think. The deeper you can go, the more secure the bond between the new head and body.

3. Position the head in the pliers as show, upside down with the neck pointing up.

4. Carefully drill all the way through the head with the pin vise. Start slow, and make sure you don't continue drilling through your workbench.

5. Add a little super glue to the hole in the body. Remove the head from the pin vise, impale the head with the pin from the top down, and push the pushpin through the top of the head in the hole you just made, as shown. Push the pin as far down as you can, hopefully just a little deeper than you drilled.

6. Once you can't push anymore, slide the head down to the neck and push it so the glue contacts both the head and body. Push and hold in place for about 30 seconds so the glue sets.

7. Use the wirecutters in the pliers to trim as much of the exposed pin as you can. A little bit will still be sticking out: Push on this proud remnant with the flat part of the pliers until the pin is completely inside the figure. You have to push pretty hard, but be careful not to damage the figure. Hold on tight near the head, and you should be fine.

8. Add a little more super glue in the hole on the top of the head. Once the super glue dries, you can apply some wood glue with a toothpick to any rough areas where the two parts of the new figure have gaps or otherwise don't quite match up.

And that's how it's done! Here's Sven confronting the Unpainted Undead, which was assembled in much the same way as described above. The light gray heads are figures from Twilight Creations' Zombies!!! game. The dark gray figures are the same Caesar Miniatures skeleton that I got the skullhead from. I may bend some of their limbs into different positions and use wood glue to make their bony limbs look a little more fleshy.

Next, prep and painting, probably in several weeks. I'll keep blogging in the meantime.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Using Reaper Bones minis in 1/72 scale

Reaper Miniatures has been making metal gaming minis for years and are arguably the largest company in the business. That put them in a position to experiment with making minis out of plastic instead of metal, hence their new "Bones" line of plastic miniatures. They thus discovered there was a huge untapped market of people (like me!) who wanted into the fantasy miniatures hobby but who were effectively priced out of it when it was solely metal. Reaper began a much publicized and widely popular Kickstarter to massively expand the Bones line, and after months of waiting, the Kickstarter orders have begun shipping.

The Bones minis are not in 20mm-1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog, but many of their figures are easily adaptable to the smaller scale (Bones figures are 28mm scale, by the way). I already discussed their kobolds, which look just fine next to 1/72 figures. I didn't participate in the Kickstarter, but I had purchased a few figures that are already on the market, and I just bought a few of the new figures from eBay (get 'em while they're secondhand!). Many of the Bones work surprisingly well as 1/72 figures, despite being in a larger scale.

Let's start with the Bones humanoids: here are a gnome wizard and a halfling bard standing next to Sven the 1/72 comparison Viking. The Bones figures are 1 or 2 millimeters shorter than Sven, and their heads are just a tad bigger, but I think most people would assume they are all humans in the same scale. The solo hero miniatures are probably going to be around $2, which is usually much more than I want to pay for a single figure, but for characters like spellcasters and female adventurers that are hard to find in 1/72, they work remarkably well.

Note the big chunky base of the figure on the left, which I trimmed down for the figure in the middle so I could mount it on a metal washer. The soft-yet-resilient Bones plastic made the job easy.
Here are some rats. The smaller gray rat is a Skaven bit from Warhammer, shown for comparison. The Reaper rats are the size of monstrous rodents (or a medium-to-large dog), but they are still smaller than Sven, which is perfect.

Some more animals, including a large bat swarm on the left. The single animals are from the Familiars set, which I think is my favorite new Bones discovery. These animals look perfectly sized next to Sven.

More Familiars, these ones a little more fantastical. The tiny critters look just about as tiny next to Sven as they would in the larger Bones scale, while the female spirit nearest Sven is perfectly human-sized in 1/72 (Here's what she looks like next to a Reaper-scale human, by the way, in case you were curious how the two scales matched up).

The third figure from the left is hard to make out unpainted, but it's supposed to be a stock-horror "creepy doll." It might look like this when painted.
Finally, a couple of giant miniatures that I bought before the Kickstarter minis shipped. I'm a fan of how 28mm giants look next to 1/72 miniatures; it makes them look even more monstrous.

I also bought a set of scarab swarm and a clear-green "spectral wall," which would have been hard to photograph well but which also look pretty good with the smaller scale. I think my experiment in using the Bones for 1/72 scale gaming was largely successful. I want to try a similar experiment with Dungeons and Dragons miniatures in the near future, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kickstarter Bones minis are shipping: get 'em while they're secondhand!

Photo credit to Stuart at Redditch Wargaming Society forums
You may have heard about a certain Kickstarter campaign for a certain line of plastic minis from a certain miniature company. It ended months ago, but the orders are finally shipping. The good news for those of us who didn't pony up for the full $100 Vampire level pledge is that some folks are certainly going to try to resell minis they don't want at a fraction of what they'll go for at retail. One guy on eBay is already selling his excess Bones at about a third of the likely MSRP cost for single minis, and others are bound to follow. If you're interested in these minis and missed the Kickstarter, I recommend saving an eBay search for "Reaper Bones" and checking out the results every day (I don't recommend buying from the guy selling full Vampire packages on the promise that he'll ship whenever he gets his order, by the way. It would be complicated to contest if your order never shipped.).

I wonder if this secondhand market is going to hurt Reaper, but as they aren't going to start selling the new Bones until after they ship all the Kickstarter orders, I think they'll be okay. The supply of secondhand minis ought to be dissipated, and the bargain-hunters sated, by the time the new Bones are ready for the general public.