Friday, December 11, 2015

Heartbreaker: rethinking the critical hit (plus new Alliance minis!)

Time for more of Heartbreaker, my sub-blog about my purely amateur interest in d20 fantasy design. Again, I'll start with a quick news blast for the Cheap Fantasy Miniaturists here who don't care about RPGs, then I'll continue with the meat below the fold.

Via's 1/72 group, here are some intriguing pics from Alliance, one of the two big 1/72 fantasy hobby miniature lines out there.


The description the Alliance guys give for these is interesting. When they were making their Amazons sets, they were thinking of whom the Amazons might fight and came up with the figures on the left. They describe them as Conan-esque (the Russian word for barbarian transliterates as "varvar," by the way), though they look a little like Chaos warriors to me. The figure on the right looks more like how I wished Alliances Amazons looked—less cheesecake, more Joan of Arc. Not many details on when or how these might show up, but they are very interesting.

Now to the RPG stuff. Just click the "Read More" link below the "You Might Also Like" stuff.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Giganticisms (and Bugbear-icisms)

Time for a new project, yes? Actually this is one I started a while ago but am just getting around to featuring. You may remember these nifty Tim Mee cavemen. They make great 1/72 hill giants, no modification necessary. But I just couldn't leave well enough alone.

The red guys are the cavemen. The gray heads are bits from one of the Warhammer ogre sets, acquired via Hoard o Bits. The green bod is a World of Warcraft board game ogre. The white is a Reaper Bones ettin. The Warhammer heads are great, but they have big gaps in back that I had to fill with glue and putty. They are arguably a little bit too large, but I think they look pretty good. Here's a shot of them primed.

I also have a few more bugbears I'm working on.

These are all D&D boardgame pieces with some mods. The left is a Temple of Elemental Evil bugbear with a Warhammer bit for a shield. The middle is a ToEE hobgoblin with a headswap. The right is a Wrath of Ashardalon orc with arms from the same bugbear that gave the hobgoblin its new bugbear head. This last figure has a close cousin that I already painted; the armswaps are so it doesn't look entirely like a clone.

Here they are primed, along with another old D&D bugbear I just got for pretty cheap.

Painting? Who knows?! It's the holidays, which are of course busy, but maybe not as busy as they could be this year. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Introducing Heartbreaker! RPG-design sub-blogging here at CFM!

A while ago I mentioned/threatened my interest in blogging about my purely amateur interest in role-playing game design here at Cheap Fantasy Minis, which I am calling "Heartbreaker" for reasons explained below. When I asked you guys, those who responded mostly said they'd be interested, largely preferring that I keep all my blogging here at this familiar blog. Still, there were plenty of responders who admitted to being utterly uninterested in such blogging, so being the solicitous fellow I am, I had to come up with a way to please all camps.

So my solution is to start with a brief item pertinent to cheap fantasy minis, then continue below the fold with the game design stuff. It could be news, or a cool blog post or forum item, or some other such thing. So let's start with the news:

I had thought that Caesar's elf set was more or less defunct, but I'm seeing clear signs of resurrection. Caesar's new store lists them as in stock. So does Taiwanese seller Always Model, which seems to have a close relationship with their fellow patriates at Caesar Miniatures. Other retailers list the set as "in stock soon." Interestingly, the Caesar dwarves are now the set that seems to be harder to find. Still, it's good to see that Caesar is still interested in the older sets of their fantasy line.

Now onto the RPG-design stuff:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dollar Tree Halloween scenery for fantasy gaming

Tis the season! To raid dollar stores for cheap horror-themed bits for gaming! I picked up some resin bits at Dollar Tree several weeks ago, including some figures. The figures are way too large for 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog, but at $1 for a set of three figures, I decided they were worth getting to experiment with.

As you can see, the painting is awful, but the poses and detail aren't terrible, so I think they hold some promise for repainting. I have them in groups of three, as per the 3-pack they came in; that is, each group was purchased as a single set. In the northwest, some mummies and a gargoyle. Northeast, a creepy tramp, witch, and werewolf. Southwest, two mad scientists and their assistant. And in the southeast, a Frankenstein-esque monster, some sort of goblin-person, and another creepy tramp or possibly a scarecrow. Again, most of these are too tall compared to Sven the 1/72 comparison viking (that gargoyle isn't bad, though), but they seem like they'd be great for more conventional 32mm figures. (Note that Sven is exactly 1" tall from foot to crown.)

Here are some scenery items, $1 each at Dollar Tree. The gazebo and gate are from last year, but they are selling basically the same pieces this year. I think they are a little too tall for Sven, though I can't imagine anyone broader than Sven fitting through that narrow gazebo doorway. The mausoleum on the right is more like it, if I can think of something to do with that spider on top.

Chris Palmer recently painted up some of the scenery items Dollar Tree sold last year, and I think they look pretty nice. Repainting can do a lot to reclaim the value of these pieces. When I bought these a few weeks ago, the folks at the store said they were already selling fast, so unfortunately I don't know if they are still in stock. If they are, get them while you can, or wait until next year!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Struggling With My Demons

See the end of this post for more about my reader poll. Also, check out my sales page, please!

I finally got the demons done, about a month later than forecasted. It's not that they were especially hard to paint, though it did take me a while to settle on a color plan (short version: red). It's just that Real Life, dread foe to all hobbyists, reared its head. No one big thing, but lots of little things.

Again, these are mostly Caesar knights with 15mm demon heads from CP models. Tails are dramatically bent florist wire. The middle guy above has a goblin head, also from Caesar Miniatures.

Another set. I think the metal armor looks good for "demon legionnaires." The red fabric/quilted stuff looks fine, though I'm not sure how diabolical it looks.

The two big guys above are Twilight Miniatures demons, with one head swap and another head reposition. The female demon is a Caesar elf with bat wings taken from a Safari Ltd. "good luck mini."

Comparison with Sven. There are a lot of different materials used in this project: plastic bods, metal heads, wire tails, rubber wings. I wasn't sure how well paint and primer would take to all these, but they seem pretty cohesive. I'm particularly impressed with how well the CP heads work with 1/72 models, despite being made for smaller scale minis.

Uncompleted is this big guy, a World of Warcraft board game piece with a pitchfork from a LotR Mines of Moria troll. The trick is the red detail, which I somehow thought could be painted in its own color. The fact that it's raised makes it a little easier than you might think, and I know any blackwash I use can hide some of the sloppiness. Still kind of a big job, so he'll have to wait a bit longer.

So I'm going to run my poll a little longer. Thanks to respondents so far. The majority seem interested in the idea of RPG rules related posts, but there is a substantial minority that is uninterested. This suggests maybe starting a new blog, except most of the "yes" votes want to see them on this blog. So maybe I'll start a new blog but be sure to mention new posts in this space.

Anyway, the poll is below again. Please answer if you're a regular reader and haven't done so yet. Also, sales page!

(The poll should be embedded above, but if not, it should be found here.)

Friday, September 18, 2015


Pic cred to Sam.
To pass the time until I finish painting those darn demon minis, I thought I'd share some miscellaneous items. Please read to the end, as I've been toying with some new blogging ideas I want to gage interest in.

First, a reminder to please check out my sales page. Current items for sale include lots of D&D brand minis, mostly unpainted from the Temple of Elemental Evil board game, but a few prepaints as well. There are also still a few Reaper Bones available, plus some 1/72 figure sprues and a few other items.

Plastic Soldier Review has a very helpful new post about 1/72 figures in board games. Lots of interesting finds. "Risk 2210" is an interesting find for those looking for sci-fi figures in 1/72. Also, I didn't realize that "Age of Mythology" publisher Eagle Games' "Defenders of the Realm" was 1/72; I just sort of assumed it was 28mm. This pick seems to confirm it, though.

The red and the small dark gray figures are Defenders figures. The larger ones are from Talisman, I believe. See here for more.
Speaking of board games and scale comparisons, I'd been meaning to share this tidbit about BattleLore and 1/72 compatibility since the new edition of the game came out.

The third guy from the left is a Caesar Miniatures 1/72 adventurer. To the left of him is a 1st edition BattleLore figure; to the right are two 2nd edition figures. One way or another they close but not quite 1/72, still probably quite adaptable. See here for more.
[Update: I knew I forgot about something. So I stumbled upon this blog post from last year about GAMA, a game publishers trade show, and found this image.

Look familiar? I asked the folks at Twilight Creations about it, and they said they hoped to have these bags on their webstore soon, and in distribution by the end of the year. Something to keep an eye on, especially since the Bump in the Night board game is out of print and a bit hard to find.]

Finally, an idea that I've had for blogging. I know that many of you readers aren't necessarily gamers, but I used to mess around with rules and hacks for roleplaying games. I've been thinking about some of those rules lately and would kind of like to share them, but I don't know if there would be any interest, hence the poll below. d20-ish OGL fantasy, to give an idea. If enough of you answer honestly, it would give me an idea of whether or how to proceed, so I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

(The poll should be embedded above, but if not, it should be found here.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Dungeon Forge in My Pocket: small-scale fantasy minis Kickstarter

Via CFM reader Carl is this intriguing Kickstarter. Dungeon Forge In My Pocket is an attempt to make a truly portable dungeon crawl for fantasy RPGs. It sort of reminds me of Rob Dean's Portable Fantasy Game project, and like PFG it relies on smaller-scale minis to accomplish it's goal.

Which scale is a bit of a mystery if you go by the Kickstarter description, but I asked Raúl the designer, and he kindly responded, "The height of a miniature of a human is fed up 20mm." Sounds to me like he means 20mm from toe to crown, around HO scale, which as we learned last month is a bit smaller than 1/72, the preferred scale of this blog. On the other hand, the dwarf is 15mm tall according to the Kickstarter page, while the minotaur (a stretch reward) is 25mm. As it happens the 1/72 dwarves from Caesar Miniatures are also around 15mm, and a 25mm minotaur would look human sized in 1/72. So while the humans may look a little small, there's plenty of potential for adaptability if you want to use them for 1/72 fantasy gaming.

You can see that the full set includes minis, dungeon tiles, and terrain, all cast in resin. The figures I'm a little ambivalent about; they seem a little static, like they were chess pieces or something (Carl says the style is reminiscent of the classic board game HeroQuest, so that may be why). Plus they are mostly for figure types I already have in 1/72. The terrain, on the other hand, is excellent; a variety of great pieces, all seldom seen in 1/72.

12€ (about $13.50 plus shipping) gets you the figures and terrain shown above, plus some duplicates. To get the tiles, case, and stretch goals, you need the 36€ level (about $40). That may wind up being a really good deal, depending on what future stretch goals are like.

The project comes out of Spain, for what it's worth. This is the designer's first Kickstarter, but he's already met his modest funding goal, and he already has prototype models of everything instead of 3D concept art, both of which are good signs. There's a week left of fundraising, so there's still plenty of time to jump in!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Temple of Elemental Evil board game minis

Many of the minis featured in this post are for sale. Please check out my sales page!

I'm a fan of the D&D Adventure System board games as a source of cheap unpainted plastic minis. They are in heroic 28-32mm scale, much larger than the CFM-approved 1/72 scale, but are often readily adaptable. Temple of Elemental Evil is the first such game released since the new version of D&D was published. Today I'll show most of the minis in the box, even those that aren't particularly good for 1/72, as non-1/72 fantasy fans might be interested in these. Remember that Sven the 1/72 comparison viking is exactly 1-inch/25mm tall from foot to crown.

Heroes. Regular readers may recognize these as unpainted versions of the new DnD starter set minis. The female dwarf makes a decent if stocky 1/72 human, while the halfling looks a bit like a dwarf rogue in 1/72.
Monsters, ranging from the ridiculously huge gnoll to the nearly-human-sized troglodyte and doppelganger figures. The bugbear in the middle is just about right for my idea of a 1/72 scale bugbear. I like the blue salamander and the "flying" firebat on the right as well.
Cultist, who naturally inhabit the titular Temple of Elemental evil. Each sculpt represents a different element: from left to right, water, earth, air and fire. Clearly too big for 1/72.
Elemental monsters, also apt for the ToEE. Left to right, a hideous fire elemental (looks more like a mud elemental!), earth, air, and water. I'm a sucker for translucent plastic minis like these. This water elemental is a little larger than the one from the Legend of Drizz't game (source).
The ettin. A smaller Reaper Bones ettin is on the right for comparison. If the D&D ettin were scaled down to 1/72 size, it would be about the size of the Reaper ettin.
Not pictured is the flying black dragon mini, which like the firebats above has a cool clear plastic "flying" base. It's not super-large, no bigger than the blue ettin shown above.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

1/72 =! HO (an informative diatribe on scale)

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I am sort of a pedant about scale (and other things, but let's move one). One particular bugaboo of mine is the rather widespread use of HO ("aitch-oh", the popular model railroad scale) as a synonym for 1/72, the favored scale of this blog. I have seen this use in forum posts, eBay auctions, even commercial sites, but it is not at all right. The National Model Railroad Association defines HO as 1/87.1 scale. HO scale figures are about a head smaller than 1/72 figures. They are simply quite different scales.

Left to right: a D&D 32mm cultist, Sven and another 1/72 figure, a Star Wars MicroMachine (which I believe is OO-1/76 basically HO scale), a Preiser HO passer-by, and a Splintered Light 15mm rogue.
So how did they get mixed up? Let's look at the history of model railroad scales. Model trains used to be much larger. German manufacturer Märklin had trains in 3, 2, 1, and 0 scales, with 0, or "O", being the smallest at 1/48 scale. O scale is still in use and is now one of the larger modern model railroad scales. When machine technology advanced to allow for smaller model trains, HO scale—that is, "half-O"—was invented and became popular in both the United States and continental Europe.

In Britain, though, they had a bit of a problem. Their real-life trains were smaller than those in the U.S. or in Europe, such that if they wanted to build model trains in true HO scale, they would have to be physically smaller than what was possible at the time. Their solution was sort of odd: they used HO scale tracks and wheel spacing, but they put larger scale cabs and cars on top of these. Buildings, figures, and other scenery were also in this larger scale. They called this scale OO, which like HO also essentially means half-O, and which is defined as 1/76 scale. (Astute readers will note that having different scales for the wheels and cabs means that OO scale is not really proportional to real-life trains, and indeed OO trains do have sort of a chunky look.)

Maybe you can see where the seeds of confusion sprung. In the sense that HO and OO models can run on the same track, one could say that the two scales are compatible. And in the sense that 1/76 is really similar in size to 1/72, which was already being used for military models, one could say that those two scales are also compatible. But it's a category error to say these two different senses are the same sense, if you follow me. Nonetheless, if OO scale was said to be compatible with both HO and 1/72 scale, if in different ways, it was only a matter of time before someone made the mistake of claiming that HO and 1/72 were compatible as well.

I have know direct knowledge of this, but I suspect that someone was Airfix, for a few reasons. Airfix was a British company and would have been more exposed to OO scale than, say, Atlantic or Revell. They were around when these new model railroad scales were gaining popularity. And they actually put "HO OO scale" as a description on their old boxes, which reveals that they thought the two scales were compatible in size—entirely incorrect, as we have seen.

Pic credit: Plastic Soldier Review
A lot of this I got from the Wikipedia articles on HO and OO scales, which are good places to start if you want to know more about these scales. Now that you know the difference, maybe you can spread the word and make this scale pedant's life a little more restful.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


[Painted and completed, 9/26/15!]

While we're waiting for the latest Bones Kickstarter to end, I'll finally share the demon mods I've been working on.

This crew is made up of various Caesar Miniatures knights, most with demon heads from CP models. The green head up top is a Caesar goblin. The tails are pieces of florist wire. If you do a project like this and know anyone into flower arranging, ask to borrow just a piece, which is all I needed for all these tails.

Other demonic critters. The big guy is a World of Warcraft board game piece, with a hand and trident from a GW "Mines of Moria" troll. The demonette is a Caesar elf with bat wings from a Safari Ltd. "Good Luck" mini. Her tail is a paperclip, which is a lot harder to bend into shape than the florist wire. The other guys are Twilight Creations demons: one got a head swap, the other a head repose.

I finished painting the female demon and goblin-head. You can see that I added some horns and a little goatee, made with the tiniest, fiddliest bits of Milliput I ever hope to work with. Superglue plus a layer of Future Shine to seal will hopefully keep these bits attached.

A view from the back, showing off the wings and tails.

I'm making pretty good progress on the other demon legionaires when I actually have time to paint. I hope to have them finished in a month or so.

Friday, July 10, 2015


As I was painting these fences, I was also working on some other scenery items. As it happens, they were all fountains, or other water-bearing structures.

These first two are Reaper bones pieces, a "Well of Chaos" and a "Water Weird. They are a bit oversized compared to Sven, of course, but I think they look okay. The "weird" has been modded so it doesn't loom quite so tall over Sven.

Subtitle: "The Joy of Drybrushing." The texture on the stone made these a breeze to paint: several layers of gray, a bit of brown, some gold on the details, and a blackwash.

The water is just some white glue, with a couple coats of Future Shine. Looks pretty good here, though I had some trouble with this method on the 1/72 fountains below. I think it works here because I only needed a few thin layers of glue for it to look like water. The water flowing from the tap is also Future Shine, mixed with a bit of black paint.

This piece was cast in blue plastic. To make the "Weird" more 1/72 compatible, I chopped off part of the base and took about half the height off the water elemental. The stonework was painted using the same techniques above. The water got much the same treatment as this large water elemental.

Here are a couple fountains from Italeri's "Urban Accessories" kit. These are actual 1/72 scale models; If the models above were 1/72, they'd be about this size. The one on the right is built per instructions. The one on the left has a lion head taken from Hat's "Jungle Adventure" set; I'm pretty sure I got the idea from Paul. I had to fill in some gaps with putty, which looks a bit rough, as does my attempt at highlighting. The water is again white glue with top layers of Future Shine. Unfortunately, I had to use more layers of the stuff to fill the basin, which despite my patient applications meant that the glue doesn't look very clear.

Finally, the small well on the left, from Imex's excellent "Southwest/Alamo Accessories" kit. Not much to say, but I think it looks very nice. On the right is an Italeri desert well, which I discussed previously, along with some other sources for 1/72 scale wells.

Let's wrap up with a quick discussion of other 1/72 scale fountains.

This piece is a resin cast from Airfix, designed for WWII games but perfectly suitable for other genres. The box shows a sort of spigot that's not included in the kit; the hole in the top basin is part of my attempt to install one. A similar piece is by Armand Bayardi. It's a bit more expensive and harder to find, and whether you get it direct or from Michigan Toys (only store I found that has it), the shipping is awfully high. Still, it's a very nice-looking piece.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Reaper Bones III

They're doing it again. Reaper's third Kickstarter for their much-favored Bones line of plastic minis launches tomorrow morning. I had some fun live-blogging the first day of their last Kickstarter; we'll see if I have time to do so this time.

Update (7/7, 10:05 am): It's live! Already some interesting small minis, animals, and giants that would fit my purposes. They're saying that minis in different sizes will be a focus this time, so this may be very interesting to me. PS: it's already funded, of course.

(10:48): Okay, I backed it. Wave 2 shipping! They're behind on their updates, understandably, but there should be more to come. I've decided a day at the zoo with the little one might be better than hitting refresh on the KS page all day. I'll be back later.

By the way, you can help me justify my expense by taking advantage of my sales page :).

(1:55): I'm back! What'd I miss?

Hey, rewards updates! None of the add-ons seem too amazing yet. I like the yetis in the core set, and the torture room stuff is promising. Scenics seem to be a bit undersized in Bones, so they might be adaptable to the Scale of Choice.

(9:40 pm): New rewards! I'm sort of tempted by the Stonehenge scenery, but it's a little rich for me. We'll have to see.

Does it seem like the new rewards aren't coming as quickly this time around? Either people are bidding more slowly, or Reaper has spaced them out a little more. Not complaining, just an observation.

(7/8, 10:57 am): A new day, a new stretch goal. Hey look, ogres! And they're core! Interested in these.

Stonehenge, I just noticed, is huge, dwarfing even Sir Forscale. Way too big for 1/72, so I feel okay about passing.

(7/10): Any future updates I'd like to make will be in a new post, I think. Stretch goals are certainly slower than I remember; a quick comparison between this and the last Kickstarter on Kicktraq shows that pledges are indeed coming more slowly this time, which I guess is not surprising. So it's not as exciting to watch, but they're still set to clear $1 mil by the end of the day, which by any standard is still excellent.

By the way, I like the arsenal update. Even though the weapons may be oversized for my purposes, I can think of enough uses for them that I may even spring for two sets.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spidermen, spidermen!

Check out my sales page, now full of cheap 1/72 scale sprues suitable for fantasy, in addition to Reaper Bones figures and other goodies.

Spidermen! No not that kind, this kind:

Driders, or "drow-spiders," or spider-centaurs. Dark elves punished (or rewarded, depending on edition) by their spider-goddess Lolth with an aspect of her spidery form. One of those curiosities from D&D that's somehow stuck with fantasy gamers. Recall that these are mostly Alliance elves patched onto "jorogumo" figures from Arcane Legions.

Melee guys above. Archers and sorceress below; the sorceress bod is a Caesar elf. I worry that she looks either like Mrs. Santa Claus via the Brothers Grimm, or else a Star Trek bridge officer after a teleportation accident.

Side views, showing off the spidery livery this crew is wearing for some reason. Not the greatest freehand you'll ever see, but looks okay on the table.

Let's check out the larger drider figure, maybe an alpha drider, or possibly an avatar of Lolth herself. It's a Reaper Bones "Spider Centaur" archer figure. I swapped her bow arm with a Skink bit—should have either swapped both arms or else just trimmed the bow from her original hand. Looks kind of wonky. I also regret that her face is a bit obscure. Should have put more black around the mouth. I think it's not too bad overall, though. It's actually a smaller figure than you might expect, pretty close in body size to Sven the 1/72 comparison viking.

The spotted pattern on the back is loosely inspired by actual black widow spiders, which also inspired the general red-white-black colors of this squad.

This was a fun project. I'm really pleased how the mods turned out on the 1/72 figures. Painting was a quick and dirty affair for the most part, but I like the overall look. They'll be a nice addition, or counterpoint to, the drow figures I painted a month ago.

Coming soon: demon legions, and other hellish beings!