Friday, June 28, 2013

Toy figures for cheap fantasy gaming

[2-20-2014] Welcome all! My stats show that a ton of visitors are coming to this post via Facebook, but I can't tell who sent you all. If it wouldn't be violating anyone's expectation of privacy, I'd like to know who it was; I'd like to shake his hand, as the song says. Anyway, there's more to this site than comparison shots of Tim Mee cavemen, so again, welcome, and please look around!

Part of finding cheap fantasy minis is keeping an eye out for things that were never meant for gaming but which are readily adaptable. I've found that many hobby-shop-style toys are perfect for my purposes. They aren't marketed for gamers and so aren't premium-priced, but can be as good or better than miniatures made specifically for gaming. Here are a few such toys I recently purchased.

These are new cavemen models from TimMee Toys. They make fantastic hill giants versus 1/72 minis. There are four sculpts and twelve models of each sculpt, which is probably more hill giants than I'll ever need. I may try to sell some of my extras.

Half the toys in the bag are in tan plastic. One thing I like about these minis is that on the tabletop they look like they're looking down at a 1/72 scale human-sized figure.

Up next are these skeleton figures from Toysmith. You used to be able to buy these without any other toys, but they now come in a set marketed as Battling Pirates, accompanied with several large swashbuckling figures and nautical accoutrements. Even with all the extra stuff, they're still pretty cheap and make excellent giant skeletons in 1/72.

By the way, shortly after buying these, I saw that Sgt. Slag has used both the cavemen and skeletons for the very purpose I intended. Obviously he stole the idea directly from my brain somehow. Actually, I'm glad for the proof-of-concept, as they look great!

For the last set of figures we go from large to small. These are Lucky Minis from Safari Ltd. You can get them from counter displays at some hobby shops and many museum and zoo gift shops for 59 cents a piece. They are made of some sort of rubbery material, so I'm not sure how they'll paint up, but they look terrific.

The bat makes a fine oversized fantasy critter, and I've already used the wings from another bat mini for a demonic conversion project. The jellyfish I got because I like the idea of making a 1/72 scale flumph, even if I'll never use it. The gorilla and bear may seem undersized, but they're actually just about right for 1/72 scale mountain gorillas and grizzly bears, if National Geographic is anything to go by:

So what are some other toy products you've adopted for gaming miniatures?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Warhammer skinks as 1/72 lizardmen

Update: see painted lizardmen here!

I've been working on building and basing some Warhammer skinks and other lizardmen to use as 1/72 scale lizardmen. This isn't a new idea: Kris mentions it in his blog post on 1/72 scale gaming, as does Ron at his 1/72 fantasy blog (both are great inspirations for this project of mine, so thanks guys!). I've taken the idea a bit further and started making a whole squad of cold-blooded RPG antagonists.

These archers are from the 1996 edition of Warhammer. They can still be found for pretty cheap on eBay if you're patient. To their left is a Klak the kobold sorcerer figure from the Castle Ravenloft board game, here fitting right in with the 1/72 lizardmen crowd.

Some newer Warhammer minis; these are mostly Stegadon riders I got from Hoard o Bits. These are about the right size, but the hands and weapons are off, especially the shaman figure's totem. There's not much we can do about the hands, but we can fix the weapons.

I just used some leftover Italeri Barbarian spears. For the totem, I used some decapitated skulls from Caesar Miniatures undead set and some feathers taken from the original totem.

Here are the new spears. I just removed all or part of the original weapons, drilled holes with a pin vice, and inserted the new spear. The shafts of the original and replacement spears are about the same size, but the spearheads look like they are in the same scale as Sven, now that they are not the size of Sven's head.

These big guys are saurus warriors from the older Warhammer edition. They work well as large 1/72 bruisers, but I decided they ought to be wielding the same quasi-Aztec macuahuitl as the newer figures instead of their original scythe-like weapons.

Luckily I had a few large macuahuitl bits left over. I kept part of the bits' arms attached and carved them to a point, then drilled a hole in the saurus' hand, filled with glue, and pushed the new weapon into place.
I could do a whole tutorial on how I based these, but I'll spare you and keep it quick: I just glued some styrene disks to the washer, put pins in the miniatures feet, drilled holes in the base to match, and effectively pinned the base and miniature together, along with some superglue.

I'll paint these up in the next month, if I don't get distracted by something else.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Arcane Legions for generic fantasy gaming

This is essentially a repeat of a post I made at ENWorld a few months ago, but since I still have a few of these miniatures and other related items for sale on eBay (see the sidebar!), I thought I could talk a bit about Arcane Legions miniatures.

Arcane Legions is a miniature fantasy/quasi-historical wargame produced by some refuges from Wizkids, the company that makes Heroclix, Mage Knight, and other popular miniature games. It was unique in that its miniatures were in 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog. Maybe it's because of this "weird" (not 28mm) scale, or its unusual setting, but despite some innovative ideas, the game recently went defunct after a few years of production.

Their loss, while unfortunate, is the cheap fantasy miniaturists gain, as it means an already cheap minis game is now being liquidated in many places. Miniature market now sells booster bricks (60-70 painted figures, including several larger figures) for $24, and the core game, with over 120 unpainted minis, for $15, as well as individual army and cavalry boxes for $8. For generic fantasy gaming, the core game might not be very useful unless you need a lot of centurions and other bronze-age troops. But the boosters have a lot of figures useful for all sorts of fantasy genres. I'll detail some of my favorites here (note that they look a bit taller in these photos than they are, as their peg bases meant they had to be mounted a few millimeters from the backdrop.

Some moderately modified centaurs, with headswaps from Italeri's Barbarian set (the originals had Greek-style helmets that I chose to replace). Most of the spears are from the Egyptian cavalry, while the rest of the centaurs are from the Egyptian booster brick

A large undead, a cyclops, and two minotaurs. The minotaurs are Roman boosters; the rest are Egyptian.

Some "great ones" from the Han booster set.

More Han boosters, which make suitable generic quasi-Asian fantasy heroes and troops.

A Roman wolf, Han foo-dog, Egyptian sta, and Han yeti.

Nuwa, and two jorogumo, both Han boosters. I included an Age of Mythology medusa and a toy Halloween spider for comparison. The spider is actually about the same size as the spider-people; it just has a flatter pose.

Three constructs, and three ghostly figures. The two middle constructs are Roman, the rest are Han booster. The ghosts and the woman sorcerer are cast in clear plastic. I may try to see if I can strip the paint.

Some Egyptian heroes. The pharaoh on the far left is a painted Age of Mythology figure for comparison. The mummified pharaoh to his right is about the same size, just on a smaller base (for now). I think I'll repaint him with a more vital complexion.

Some Egyptian monsters: a sphinx, an Anubis guard, and a criosphinx. The tan minis are Age of Mythology figures, there for comparison.

Some unpainted Egyptian undead, from the Egyptian army set (and core game).  The Age of Mythology mummy and Caesar Miniatures lich are for comparison. The Arcane Legions figures are not really over 30mm tall, but they are a bit taller than other 1/72 figures.

All of the preceding paintjobs, except for the centaurs, are from the manufacturer. I plan on repainting most of these. Here are some comparison shots to show what a decent paintjob can do for these figures (these are all Roman boosters, by the way).