Friday, December 13, 2013

Ask the CFM: Greek Monsters

Photo credit
It's "Ask the Cheap Fantasy Miniaturist"! Every now and then visitors ask me questions about where to find various minis in 1/72 scale, and I do my best to answer in the comments. Since I'm on a hiatus from the hobby, I thought it'd be good to feature some of these Qs&As.

Let's start with Dave, who in this thread asks:
Hi, was wondering if you have any harpies, satyrs, driders or half snake type D&D minis, and if so, how well do they fit into 1/72.
They look ideal for adding to an ancient Greek army I'm slowly putting together; but as i'm UK based I don't want to waste any money on ordering from either the US or overpriced UK stockists if they're too big/small.
Thanks for any help! Love the blog :-)
My answer:
Hey Dave, thanks! You'll find that most DnD minis will look a little large next to 1/72 figures. The ones I use are actually meant for small critters in DnD scale; a lot of those halfing minis look about human sized in 1/72, but that also means that most human figures in DnD scale look too big in 1/72.
There are some other possibilities. For satyrs, try Splintered Light in 20mm. For snakemen, you might be able to modify these Armies of Arcana 15mm figures, or just settle for smaller snakemen. Similarly, you may be able to make these 15mm Demonworld harpies work. For driders, you can try to find jorogumo figures from Arcane Legions, or just buy a Han booster brick. I discuss these figures here. I'm going to do some body swaps on the jorogumo figures with some Caesar Miniatures elves to give my driders more variety.
A recent post at 1/72 Multiverse shows that this harpy figure is also a good match for 1/72. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out my snakemen conversions. For other Greek Monsters, check out the Roman or Egyptian booster brick for Arcane Legions or the Greek Age of Mythology set from Eagle Games.

I've got a few more of these questions I'd like to feature. If you have anything more for me, feel free to ask!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Old stuff: 1/72 Centaurs!

Since I'm currently occupied with other projects, I've been thinking of posts I should feature until I have time to begin hobbying again. One idea is Old Stuff: cheap fantasy mini projects I completed before I started this blog, which I may have featured elsewhere but not here. And since the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale at Miniature Market means their already fantastic prices on Arcane Legions are even lower this weekend, I thought my centaurs would be a good place to start.

These guys are of course Arcane Legions figures. The archers and the spearman in the middle are Egyptian Boosters, while the other figures are Egyptian Cavalry. Apart from the sable centaur ("Achilles," apparently), these aren't the original heads, which wore Classical-style crested helmets, like these:
Photo credit to Men in Boxes.
Clever idea for a sculpt, but I decided I liked the wilder look of the more classic, uncivilized centaurs I remember reading about from Hercules and other legends. The solution was a bunch of head swaps with Esci/Italeri's out-of-production barbarian figures, complemented with a generous coiffure of fabulous Milliput-sculpted hair. I don't have many WIP photos of these, but this shot might give some idea of what the process was like:
Note the Milliput beard on the "wizard" centaur on the left. Apart from Achilles on the right, that's what all these minis' hair looked like before priming.
Finally, some lineup shots with Sven the comparison viking, looking somewhat out of place but nonetheless in scale with all the horse-dudes.

You can see how I was limited by the small number of poses available, but I think the shot at the top of the article shows how the headswaps combined with the variegated paintjobs lend more variety than one might expect.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My newest miniature

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been working on a big miniature project, along with my wife. It's larger scale than I'm used to, about 1: 3 1/3. The proportions are a little squat and cartoonish, but I think he still has a certain charm.

This little guy is probably going to take some additional time, so there may be a shortage of new projects featured here, but I have a few ideas for future posts, including some posts on older projects, and "Ask the Cheap Fantasy Miniaturist!" Ask me about where to find cheap fantasy 1/72 minis, and I'll do my best to answer.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cheap Fantasy Minis gets (slightly more) social

Photo credit to Paul's Bods.
I'm a social media luddite, and would rather that this blog be a vehicle for sharing interest in my hobby, not my personal life. So I don't appreciate the way Google has been pushing Google+ into all its products and services. That's why I've been remiss in including more easy-to-use follower features, even though I'd like to make it easy to follow my blog. Luckily, thanks to this helpful tutorial, I've figured out how to resurrect Google's old, un-Plus follower gadget, which you can see on the right. If you prefer, you can still follow via email or subscribe via RSS feed using the gadgets at the bottom of this blog.

Out of curiosity, if you are a regular reader, how do you keep up with my blog? RSS? Bookmarks? The blogroll on your own blog? Posts I make on TMP or elsewhere? Haruspicy?

Also, may I take this opportunity to introduce this 1/72 -20mm fantasy Google+ page? Obviously it's not my doing: I found out about it when the guy who started it put up a very kind and flattering post on my ENWorld thread. Right now it's largely just him with some pretty cool stuff and ideas, but it's also worth a visit to see that Kris Richards is still painting 1/72 figures. Unfortunately I can't figure out how to participate without violating my precious anonymity, but hopefully it develops into a great place for fellow 1/72 fantasy enthusiasts (a niche within a niche if there ever was one) to meet and share ideas!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Big Minis; plus using Future Floor Finish

Have you been watching the Reaper Bones 2 Kickstarter? It's already a great deal, and the more people pledge, the better a deal it becomes. The Kickstart is in its last few days, so don't miss out!

I'm trying something new by painting a bunch of larger monsters, rather than the hordes of smaller minis I usually do. This is also my chance to try out Future Floor Finish as a sealant and wash medium. I had used Minwax Polyshades (aka "The Dip") for this purpose, but after a few successful uses of the stuff, I started running into too many problems. I could handle the messiness, the unreliability, and the noxious fumes, but when I found out it was actually eating some of my figures, that was enough. I was looking for another cheap and easy alternative and discovered Future, a commercial floorcare product that's basically a clear acrylic that hobbyists of all kinds have been using for years (This page tells you almost as much as you'd ever want to know about using Future for modeling purposes).

Let's start with this Purple Worm from Reaper Miniatures.

This is one of those figures that looks a lot better next to my smaller figures: it's not anywhere near menacing enough next to larger Reaper hero minis. This was a pretty simple painjob for my first large mini, just lots of purple with some light-purple drybrushing. I washed it with undiluted Future mixed with a little black paint. I didn't do anything to kill the gloss because I wanted the worm to look suitably slimy.

Next is this ogre, an Arcane Legions "Great One."

He looks a little more slovenly and less noble than the original paintjob, which I think is great. This time I made a mix of "magic wash," based off of this recipe. The one variation I used was to start with a jar of Tamiya Flat Base and mix it 1:10 with Future (as described in the "Complete Future" page I link to in the first paragraph). The Flat Base kills the shine, so you can wash and seal and not have to worry about matte spraying. I then diluted that mixture 4:1 with water, as the original recipe indicates. Note that this gets you about a liter of magic wash, so you should be more prepared than I was to store the mixture.
This squeezy mustard bottle and old salsa jar was almost enough to store all the wash I made. The bottle of Future (now marketed by Pledge) is on the left.
The squeezy bottle is good for dispensing the wash. You can see that the flat base settles at the bottom of the mix, but you can shake the bottle to mix it up before using. It makes bubbles, but contrary to the page I got the recipe from, I didn't find that to be a problem. After dispensing the wash, I used a brush to mix in enough black paint so the it just turned opaque, then brushed the mixture on the mini. I probably made it a little too dark, and I need to work on a more even washing technique, but overall I'm quite pleased with the results. The shading is right where it needs to be, plus I got a nice matte finish without an extra step.

I initially thought The Dip was a good quick finish to my minis because it seemed more or less all-in-one; everything was premixed, so I thought it should be easy to work with. That simply turned out not to be the case. With the Magic Wash, it took a little extra time to make the initial mixture, but the application and cleanup is so much easier. So far I like what I'm seeing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mod Squad (a squad of mods, that is)

I'm doing a little bit of painting, but it's a little bit tricky with the basement renovation going on. I did have a chance to play around with some mods and conversions, though. Behold my handiwork!

You've already met the demon legionnaire on the left; he's a Caesar Miniatures knight with a CP Models head. To his left is an earlier experiment with the demon legionnaire concept, which involved a head swap with a Caesar goblin. The female demon is a Caesar elf with some bat wings borrowed from a Safari Ltd. "good luck mini": she's also got a tale made from a paperclip, but it's hard to see. Fighting against these diabolical forces is an angelic warrior, made from an Arcane Legions hoplite and a pair of metal bird-wing charms. Less eschatological but no less fantastic is a 1/72 scale warforged, contrived here from a DDM Warforged Scout and the legs of a Caesar knight to give it height.

Dollar-store Thor gets a bit of an upgrade, as his hammer looked a little dinky in this particular sculpt. He got new hands and a sword from a Reaper Miniatures Battleguard Golem. I don't know if the golem figure will get Thor's old hands or something else.

Last are a bunch of hobgoblins. Hobgoblins in D&D are basically socially advanced, more militarized orcs, so I just used the more heavily armored Caesar orcs. Headswaps with Caesar knights allowed for even better armor, and weapon swaps with other orcs, along with some shields borrowed from my Italeri barbarians set, gave them some variety. I primed these guys today, so after I paint the larger minis I'm working on, these guys are probably my next project.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Heads by CP Models

I'll probably keep updating my Bones II post throughout the month. For now, this:

I mentioned these heads in an earlier post. They are made by CP Models for 15mm scifi miniature conversions, but I had a hunch that they'd work well for 1/72 scale. I think I was right!

Sorry for the blurry photo and indirect poses. From left to right are a walrus head, a gas mask, a cyclops, a bug head, a reptile head (which looks more pig-like than saurian to me), a squid head, and a daemon. I'm missing the amphibian and chimp heads. The cyclops looks a little small, but all the other heads are about the size of Sven's.
Conversion time! I set pins in my styrofoam blocks, with little bits of Sticky Tac to hold the heads in place. I then put Superglue on the pinheads and positioned the heads, then allowed to dry. The heads have little niches that are just a little smaller than the pins I used. Next time I may try a smaller pinhead, or just clip the pinheads off entirely. 
The permanently mounted heads. You can see there are little bits of metal flash, but I wasn't prepared to deal with them until they were more securely glued to their new bodies.
For the rest, I more or less following the steps I described for my zombie conversions: I drilled a fairly deep hole in the neck, trimmed the pin so it wasn't too long, added glue to the hole, and pushed the remainder of the pin until the new heads were flush with their bodies. Pushing on the head with a folded piece of paper towel ensures you have enough force without damaging the fine metal details on the heads. I then used a needle file to remove the bits of flash remaining on the heads.

The completed mods: A Caesar Miniatures knight and Hat druid become a demon legionnaire and a mind flayer.
Pros to the CP heads: Great detail, lots of variety and character available, most work perfectly for 20mm/1-72 scale conversions. Cons: some flash, conversions aren't easy with the pins I use, though paper clips or piano wire of the right gauge would work just fine. They are also just a little expensive: I paid about 50 cents a head, which puts me over my ideal budget of 50 cents a figure when you add the cost of the bodies. The random assortments are a little cheaper, with the tradeoff that you don't know what you'll get.

All in all I recommend these heads for the cheap fantasy miniaturist looking for a little variety in his collection. I bought a bunch of the daemon heads with the idea of putting together a demonic legion. But that will be a later post.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bones II Kickstarter launched, funded!

So you've probably heard about this:

It was funded in under three minutes. It looks like they'll have trouble keeping up with the stretch goals on the main page, so if you really want to stay up-to-date, be sure to check out the Kickstarter's update page.

So we all know that Reaper Bones are just about the best value out there for a variety of high-quality, 32mm gaming minis, but what's in it so far for the 1/72 cheap fantasy miniaturist? Well, there are a couple of small-sized heroes in the core set that could be useful, plus a good number of animals that are probably easily adaptable. The "Dungeon Monsters" should be great, as aberrations adapt well to any scale. The Dragon add-on will be usable (though they've made plenty of dargons already); even more so the Kraken. I'm somewhat less enthused about all the bugbears and gnolls, as those figures don't work well at all in my chosen scale, but I can't say I blame Reaper for expanding these popular hoard-type monsters. Also, I'm still waiting on more of the Ben Siens kobold sculpts, which are great and which I already know work well in 1/72.

All in all, an exciting morning! Watch this post for more updates.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Even more Bones for sale!

I did it again; bought more Bones than I need, and am selling the rest. I also bought an Arcane Legions Han booster brick and will list some of those figures on this blog. Check out my sales page. Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Arcane Legions on super-secret-double-liquidation

I've written about Arcane Legions before: they're a touchstone of my cheap fantasy minis collection. They're now even cheaper: Miniature Market has just slashed their already low price for Arcane Legions Roman, Egyptian, and Han booster bricks, from $24 to $12. That's around 60 prepainted 1/72 fantasy minis for 20 cents a figure. I mean, wow. Plus, they still have a few copies of the core set: 120 unpainted minis for $15.

Not only are these great minis for cheap; there are only a few of them left for grabs. If you have any interest in 1/72 fantasy minis, you ought to take advantage of this deal now. Otherwise you're going to feel quite silly later, and you don't want that.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Halloween toys and dollar stores

Welcome readers of Sean's Wargames Corner, and thanks to Sean for his kind endorsement! If you haven't noticed, there are some subscription widgets at the bottom of this page; take advantage of them if that's your thing, or just keep coming back for more on cheap fantasy miniature gaming.

It's Halloween season, at least as far as our retail stores are concerned, and for the cheap fantasy miniaturist, that means bags and bags of outstandingly cheap toy critters for use as fantasy miniatures. Lots of plastic bugs and other creepy beasties can be had for very little at all kinds of stores. The color figures are from a bag of bugs I bought at a Spirit Halloween store last year, while the black plastic ones I just bought at a Dollar Tree.

Beetles, and a grasshopper and mantis.

A huge bat.

A somewhat smaller but still pretty large rat.

A lizard, snake, and centipede.

A housefly, bee, dragonfly, and wasp.

Scorpions. The smaller white figure is a Reaper Bones figures. All the Reaper bugs are about this size.

Spiders and an ant. The green spider is from the World of Warcraft board game.
While at the Dollar Tree, I also picked up these cheap Marvel action figures that I had my eye on. indigo777's clever giant conversions at the DM's Craft forum pushed me into making the purchase.

Speaking of dollar store finds, in addition to indigo777's great work, I also dug these cool beastman conversions featured at Irrational Number Line Games, using cheap dollar store animal toys and some Warhammer bits. INL has lots of other nifty cheap mini projects in their Idea Archive.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cheap Fantasy (metal) Minis!

I haven't made a secret about my preference for plastic minis over metal. Not only are they cheaper, but they are lighter, easier to perform conversions on, and you never have to worry if your minis are going to poison you. And since modern plastic-injection techniques offer miniatures that are almost indistinguishable from metal in terms of casting, I simply don't see the advantage of going metal when plastic is available.

Of course plastic isn't always available, as the one advantage metal has over plastic is that it's cheaper to make metal molds than plastic injection molds, meaning there are more metal manufacturers out there than plastic, and a greater variety of figures. So I've been keeping an eye out for metal minis worthy of the name Cheap Fantasy Minis.

Readers, meet Syr Hobbs Wargames. It's a niche little hobby shop out of the Kansas City area that seems to specialize in imported metal miniatures. What attracted me to them is that they have a lot of already cheap mini lines on clearance, making them competitive in price with the cheap plastic minis I know and love. Here's some of what I ordered:

The boar is a 15mm figure from East Riding Miniatures. Though it's supposedly in a smaller scale, it looks pretty good next to Sven the 1/72 scale comparison viking. Syr Hobbs sold a bag of 6 for $2—one of which was unfortunately miscast or damaged, but it was still a good deal for 5. The fellow to the right is a 20mm "octopoid priest" from Elhiem Figures—the bit to his left is a tentacle arm which I may use, or I may use a replacement arm. Either way, he'll make a fine Mind Flayer. The two blobby things to his right are "night horrors," also from Elhiem.

I also bought some Elhiem tentacles and some 15mm scale heads from C-P Models for future conversion projects. Turns out most of the C-P heads will work just fine for 1/72 conversions. I'll review the heads in greater detail in a future post.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Snaky cultists and culty snakes

Check out this previous post for how I came up with these figures: they're mostly Caesar Miniatures undead with various headswaps. It's an idea I've seen a few other places, though the snakemen are my own invention.

This congregation would like to know why you interrupted their services.

The head cultist. I'm pleased with how the cover of his necronomicon turned out. 
Some of the more devoted cultists have taken on the aspect of their evil snake god, manifest here as an unpainted Wrath of Ashardalon gamepiece.

Bishop Ophidean kindly requests that you refrain from taking photographs until after the liturgy is completed.

Comparisons with Sven. They look a bit smaller because most of them did not come on a separate plastic base. The second mini from the left is a Hat druid from their Celtic Command set.
Here's the part of the blog where I complain about the dip: I've become convinced that something about the Caesar plastic resists the dip from curing. The bods are still a little tacky and shiny even after days of drying and layers of matte spray, while the heads are fine. The matte spray seemed to help, so I may try a hobby matte varnish.

We're doing some renovating in my hobby space, so it may be a while before my next project. I'm still trying to decide what to do next. Here are some ideas: hobgoblins (Caesar orcs painted ochre instead of green), gnolls (modded WoW gamepieces), a swarm of rats of various sizes (Reaper rats, Warhammer skaven bits, Castle Ravenloft pieces), or some larger creatures like trolls or ogres. Any preferences?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

More Reaper Bones for sale!

I didn't think I'd do it again, but I went and bought another lot of Bones minis on eBay, and as before, I'm putting most of them up for sale. Save up to half off MSRP. Check out my sale page for more info, or just go straight to my seller page. Happy buying!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The nearly-ultimate guide to D&D halfling and gnome miniatures

As I've previously mentioned, I have an interest in adapting D&D miniatures for my own 1/72 fantasy minis collection. Maybe that's why you'll find this post interesting, or maybe you just want to know how big these minis are. The original collectible D&D miniatures line spanned several years, after all, during which time the idea of scale proved to be quite flexible. Maybe you are starting your D&D minis collection and crave consistency in scale, or you just want more information before you start buying.

Whatever your reason, I hope you find this post useful. I'm missing a few halflings and gnomes, so my collection isn't entirely comprehensive, but it's close. I've also included a few halfings and gnomes from other miniature lines.

Sven the 1/72 scale comparison viking is on the right side of each shot. I've also included a 1/72 scale Caesar Miniatures sorceress on the left, as Caesar minis are just a bit smaller, and I thought the further comparison might be useful. Minis are grouped by size in four pictures (note that I'm going by presumed full height, even for minis that are crouching), and I include the name and year of production for each mini. I'm not including the particular release for each mini, as it's not particularly relevant to the secondary market, but the production year ought to show some interesting trends. Click images to enlarge!

The smallest minis, suitable as halflings and gnomes even in 1/72 scale. A gnome rogue from the World of Warcraft boardgame, a halfling wizard (2004), a Talenta halfling (2005), a mephling pyromancer (2005), Lidda the halfling rogue (2003), a halfling tombseeker (2007), and a cleric of Yondalla (2003).

The next size up, still suitable as halfings, possibly suitable as 1/72 humans if you squint. A gnome recruit (2003), a Pathfinder gnome fighter (2011), a halfling brawler (2007), a halfling slinger (2005), a halfling veteran (2003), a champion of Yondalla (2005),  and a gnome fighter (2003).

The next group is shorter than Sven, but within head height of the sorceress. They make fine 1/72 humans or elves, or possibly dwarves. A female halfling cleric (2009), a feybound halfling (2008), a gnome trickster (2006), Tomble Burrowell from the Descent boardgame, a cleric of Garl Glittergold (2004), a dark creeper (2005), and a skullclan hunter (2005).

This last group is within head height of Sven and are definitely human or elf-sized in 1/72 scale. A halfling rogue (2007), a halfling sneak (2005), a halfling enchanter (2007), a halfling paladin (2008), a soldier of Bytopia (2006), and Lidda the halfling adventurer (2004)
You can see that for halflings, the production year centers on 2003-2004 for group 1, 2005-2006 for groups 2 and 3, and 2007-2008 for group 4, especially the ones standing upright. Gnomes follow a similar trend, though they started larger. Of the gnomes and halfling I'm missing, I would guess that the halfling ranger belongs in group 1, Nebin the gnome illusionist in group 2, and Ulmo Lightbringer in group 4 (I'm open to correction!).

I'm also interested in other D&D minis for 1/72 scale fantasy gaming, as I show here. Here are some more recent acquisitions of mine that I think work particularly well for this purpose.

A deep legionaire (2007), a warforged scout (2005, disappointed this wasn't 1/72 human sized!), an abyssal skulker (2005), a kruthik hatchling (2005), and a fire mephit (2007)
D&D miniatures aren't the most cost-effective way to build a 1/72 fantasy mini collection, but they are great for certain character types that aren't readily available in this scale, such as spellcasters, rogues, and female fighters. It also turns out that many are suitable as 1/72 halflings. I've been thinking of using 15mm miniatures as halflings (like these guys), and I'd be interested to see how they'd compare, but that will be a later post.