Sunday, April 27, 2014

"Real" Fire!

This big guy is a clear plastic Reaper Bones Large Fire Elemental. I haven't painted it yet; what you see is the result of "real" flickering fire action, effected by a cheap, disassembled tea light inserted into the mini. It's a cool trick, one that I've seen elsewhere many places. Frankly you could just as well skip this little tutorial and check out the much better one at Chris Palmer's excellent "All Bones About It" painting blog. One thing I tried to do was make the tealight accessible in case it ever needed replacing, so if you're interested in what I did differently, feel free to soldier on!

Here's the tea light, painstakingly torn apart with the aid of a hobby knife and razor saw. You can see where I slit down the middle of the base to begin getting inside the thing. Also shown is a regular 2" metal washer.

The guts of the device, glued to the washer. There was a lip at the bottom of the tealight that I had to slice off to make it flush with the washer. I also had to be sure that the switch at the bottom was accessible through the washer and had enough clearance to operate, and that I didn't get glue in the switch!

I built around the electronics with Milliput. At the time I had the figure glued to the base and had both in position over the electronics; this way I could sculpt around them and not get any putty in any sensitive bits. You can see that I've already primed the base in this shot.

I did a lot of cutting to make the base as short as possible while still containing all the gizmos inside. You can also sort of see where I drilled into the base of the figure so the lightbulb would go in. You can also see my new approach to attaching the figure to the base: I drilled three holes with a pin vice, inserted push pins from the bottom, and trimmed them so they were about a centimeter tall. I then drilled holes in the bottom of the figure to match.

Here you can see the bottom of the figure with the base attached. Note the three pinheads.

Here's the figure standing with the base attached, but disconnected from the full assembly.

And here it is fully assembled next to Sven the 1/72 comparison mini, who is feeling unaccountably warm all of a sudden. I did the best I could to minimize the height of the base, but it's still rather tall.

Totally worth it, though!
I still need to figure out how I want this critter painted. Chris has some excellent ideas. I'm pleased with how it's going so far though; I can take everything apart and reassemble with little effort, and it's already all glowy and cool. And glowy and cool is about everything I want out of a fire mini.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Replacements! (Castle Ravenloft monsters in 1/72 scale)

So this is the rather involved and curious project I'm undertaking. I recently thought to myself, why not buy all the D&D Adventure System board games, replace the minis with 1/72 equivalents, and sell the rest on the secondary market? This sort of thing only begins to make sense if you are already collecting 1/72 fantasy minis (and who doesn't?). A few reasons one might be interested in this: you do what I did and buy the full game, keeping the minis you like and selling the rest. Or you can buy all the game pieces separately at places like Auggie's or Hoard o Bits, and get cheaper minis for the game as shown here. Or maybe you just like to see what minis can be found in scale. To be honest, this last point is also part of my motivation: it's a bit of a challenge to see if I can recreate these game minis in my scale of choice, and gives me some direction when considering what minis to seek out next.

This will be first of a series of posts. I'll start with the monsters from Castle Ravenloft, the first D&D Adventure System game. I'm excluding villains for a later post. I'm also excluding the rat swarm minis, as they also work for 1/72 scale, so I have no interest in replacing them. These shots include the original mini and their smaller scale replacements for comparison.
Gargoyles. The replacements are Twilight Creation demons.
Ghouls, also from Twilight Creations. You wouldn't think of them as undead, but they have both the pointed ears and the edible hand of the original mini which is a rather unusual coincidence.
Wraiths. These are mods from Caesar Miniatures undead. Read more about these (and the ghouls and gargoyles) here. Arcane Legions has some clear ghost minis, but they're dressed in Chinese armor, so I decided on something more generic.
Skeleton warriors. This one was easy, just Caesar Miniatures undead.
Blazing skeletons. I despaired at ever being able to find something like that in 1/72, but I realized that they were basically skeletons with ranged attacks. So these skeleton archers from Caesar will serve as adequate substitutes. I suppose some clever work with skeletons and Milliput could also work, if I ever have the inclination.
Zombies. The 1/72 guys are mods between Italeri barbarians, Caesar undead, and Twilight Creations zombies. More here.
Giant spiders. The original mini would probably have been just fine as a slightly more giant spider in 1/72. Other alternatives would be the giant spider from the World of Warcraft game (the blue mini), or the toy Halloween spider.
Kobold skirmishers. These are Reaper Bones minis. Clearly these are spears and not the "javelins" the monster card describes, but they are perfectly fine. The original mini is just a little too tall for my taste, but would probably look okay in 1/72.
Wolves. Depending on your taste, the original figure might be just fine in 1/72 scale. The ostensibly 1/72 Iberian wolf from Arcane Legions is not much smaller. I happen to have three of the Reaper Bones dog familiars, so I'll probably use them to replace the three Castle Ravenloft wolves.
I may feature monsters from other games before I undertake villain and hero minis. They're doable, but may take some work. At any rate, I hope this feature will be at least somewhat interesting, and not entirely peculiar or esoteric.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Zombie Animals (and other not-so undead wild beasts)

Like these figures, but don't need 90 of them? Check out my sale page, where I'm selling sets I don't need.

Okay, zombie animals weren't exactly something that was on my bucket list, but when I found out that Twilight Creations had a new expansion to their popular Zombies!!! game, and that it had a ton of animal minis in six different poses, I had to check them out. Twilight Creations usually only has one pose per set, but when they have multiple poses and sell them cheap, they're worth a look. They look like this:

A hyena, tiger, lion, bear, gorilla, and chimpanzee. Spilling entrails and rotting flesh included!
Let's ignore the zombie-ness of these figures for a moment and consider them just as animals. Here are some real-life comparisons between these animals and humans, courtesy of National Geographic:

Hyena, tiger, lion (no mane)

Grizzly bear, gorilla, chimp

Apart from the large hyena—which could be adapted as a bear—, you can see that these figures are actually a pretty close match for 1/72 scale. That's actually great, because 1/72 scale wild animals are pretty hard to find. I figure a little bit of Milliput or even wood glue in the, um, exposed areas will suffice to make these look like normally vital megafauna. And if you happen to need a 1/72 scale zombie chimpanzee, you'll have plenty.

Comparisons with other animal figures:
Comparisons with a lion, wildcat, and monkey figure from Hat's Jungle Adventure set (formerly Airfix's Tarzan set). Not bad figures, but that lion looks absolutely tiny. The middle figure is actually pretty accurate as a lioness, though.
Comparisons with a polar bear and gorilla Safari Ltd. Good Luck minis. Yep, that hyena will definitely work as a bear.
The figures themselves are actually of a harder plastic than the usual rubbery Twilight Creations material, and are quite durable. I paid under $18 for the game, and with 90 minis included, that comes to under 20 cents a mini. Not bad if you need a ton of zombie animals or don't mind converting them into un-undead beasties.