Sunday, September 24, 2017

Guards! Guards!

Human guards, foot soldiers, etc.

These are mostly from a couple different sets of "medieval knights" from Caesar Miniatures, with a few Accurate "English Men-at-Arms" in addition. I wanted these to be useful for either "good" or "bad" guys; blue is classic for good and red for bad, so I split the difference and went for purple, which sadly is barely perceptible here even after image enhancements. For some reason the pics here didn't turn out very well, so if you get a slightly queasy feeling looking at these, my apologies.

Dudes with polearms. The chap in the middle apparently drew the short stick, literally. These are three poses with headswaps and a few other mods for variety. The halberds on the left are a little bendy; the spears on the right were even more so (as you can see in this post), until I decided at the last minute to swap them for some more rigid Italeri barbarian spears. I was worried that this operation would be catastrophic, but the soft plastic Caesar uses was able to bend and not break. That softness of course was what made the original spears intolerably bendy in the first place; there's some sort of lesson here, but I can't put my finger on it.

Anyway, more guard fellows with livelier poses. The two captains in the middle are the Accurate figures. The one on the right got a headswap with the second crossbowman from the left, which I had actually forgotten about until I tried to find the original figure on PSR. What I'm saying is I think the Accurate and Caesar figures work great together here.

The guards of course complement the bandits from my last big painting project.

I'm sure this is a political metaphor of some kind.
As with the bandits, I tried to mix up my usually Caucasian humans with some duskier skintones. Not historically accurate, but as these aren't intended for historic gaming that's not an issue!

Stay tuned for more mini comparisons. I'm going to give the multi-figure projects a rest for a while and try my hand at some dragons, so look out for those as well!

Monday, September 4, 2017

New Alliance minis! Trolls and demons and war machines

Via the 1/72 wall at Red Box/Alliance keeps chugging along with the new fantasy releases. Check out these preview pics.

Disorganized thoughts: We've seen Alliance's blocky Peter-Jackson-style troll before with their first troll set. They actually paint up pretty nicely. Sets 2 and 4 here look a little too blocky; the Set 3 poses are a lot more dynamic and interesting.

Set 4 is possibly referencing the Orc Catapult set. I'm not really sure what's going on with the huge bases and limited number of figures and poses here. The Catapult itself looks like a lot of fun. Check out the one intrepid orc, apparently ready to take catapult-assisted flight!

The Fire Demons here are the long-promised "balrogs" (It's interesting to look at that post and see all that all the announced sets have now come to fruition. Good for Alliance!). The limited number of poses in interesting. They seem to be a bit larger than the trolls, but I'd also bet that the wings are separate pieces that take up space on the sprue. If the boxes are around $10-12, that puts the per-figure cost close to what Reaper charges for similar figures. True, they might be a bit bigger, but the sculpting also doesn't seem as good. I'd like to see them painted up before deciding for sure.

~Edit for 9/6/2017: I just realized that the box art here says that the Troll set 3 has only four figures total, while Troll set 4 and the two Fire Demon sets only have two figures each! Maybe that's a misprint, as it's a departure from the large troll sets Alliance has released already. But if it's right, then unless these will be much cheaper than Alliance's other sets, that makes the value proposition a little dicier. Even if they are as big as Reaper's larger trolls, let's say, if the boxes aren't cheaper than usual, the per-figure cost between Alliance and Reaper is about the same. And Reaper's figures are just better-looking.~

Still, it's great that Alliance remains committed to new fantasy releases. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with next!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Last Day for Bones IV Kickstarter!

It's the final day of the current Kickstarter for Reaper Miniatures popular line of cheap plastic minis. There's a bunch of good stuff that's been unlocked, so if you are interested and haven't pledged yet, now's the time!

I did a bit of blogging during the first week or so of the project, and my thoughts haven't changed too much. As always, I come at these projects from the weird point of view of looking to adopt these "normal"-scale fantasy minis to the somewhat smaller 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog. That means smaller minis, larger minis, and terrain. The former tend to look good as either medium or smaller critters in 1/72 scale, while the latter two are often more or less scale agnostic and very adaptable.

So I'm super into all the kobolds, for example (including, finally, a kobold archer!), and the goblins look good as well, either for 1/72 gobbos or orcs. Several of the larger beasties, like the rat ogre, or the griffon, or the cyclops, look like they'll work for me as well. A few of the add-ons, like the trolls or the monster skeletons, were tempting but a little rich for me. The same goes for some of the terrain pieces; I liked the Tree of Despair and Baba Yaga's Hut, but they were a bit too much for what they were. On the other hand, the "Fantasy Scenics" set that was just offered broke my resolve: a lot of cool set pieces for $5 each!

That and the core are all I wound up getting, but it's plenty! I was worried that the stretch goals were a little sluggish compared to previous Bones Kickstarters, but the core set seems to have as many pieces as Bones III, and when you consider that this one includes a big old dragon, that's pretty generous. Plus a fair number of add-ons, including four (update: make that FIVE) expansion sets, all of which were quite interesting even if I had no reason to get any of them.

The core set, of course, also includes a ton of medium-sized figures and other stuff that I won't have much use for, so once they ship (Feb. 2019 at the earliest!), I'll have plenty to sell, as I have in years past. To bolster my hobby budget and justify jumping into this Kickstarter after I already backed Mantic's TerrainCrate Kickstarter this year, I'm considering something like a pre-order system. I'm on Wave One and in the U.S., so I'm likely to be among the first to receive these. I'll do a more formal post if I decide to do this, but if being among the first to get some of these minis without backing the whole Kickstarter appeals to you, let me know!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Brain in a Jar

While we're watching the current Reaper Bones Kickstarter, here's an item from the previous Kickstarter that I painted up.

Just like it says on the label, a mechanically animated jar wired to the brain therein. Dig that translucent plastic for the jar.

The metal parts of the jar were painted with silver paint, then drybrushed with medium brown and dark red for a rusted look before getting my standard blackwash. The result is a little more steampunk than I anticipated, but I quite like it.

The brain is attached to the lid, and both can be removed for closer biological inspection. This piece is a gift for someone who is, let's say, in the brain business, so I got some pointers for proper anatomical coloration. Any liberties observed should be interpreted as creative license by the artist.

Rear view of the yellowish cerebellum and medulla, as distinct from the somewhat pink cortex. The wet look was achieved with a layer a Future shine.

Sven and the very big brain. It's too big for any gaming I'd do, but it'll make for a fun trinket in some brainiac's office.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bones IV!

The fourth (fourth!) Kickstarter for Reaper Miniatures popular line of affordable plastic minis has just begun. Anything cool for the 1/72 scale fantasy miniaturist? Let's find out!

8/1 update: Okay, lets see what we actually have here so far. Lots of humans, of course, which look great but of course aren't any good for 1/72. That dragon looks impressive but is probably much bigger than anything I'm after. However, the owlbear, rat ogre, and dire beasts could probably work. Most interesting are the smaller minis; all the goblins, including the armored goblins, could work as 1/72 scale orcs, and the "minitaurs" look great as 1/72 beastmen.

8/2 update: Stretch goals seem to be coming in a bit slower than years previous. However, this Kickstarter is going to run for over a month, so maybe Reaper is trying to find the right pace. It's a little less exciting to observe, but it's certainly also less hectic for the Reaper staff. I'm glad to see more kobolds, though I can't believe that in four Kickstarter we still don't have any ranged units! The devils and trolls also look like they'd be great for larger monsters in 1/72.

8/13 update: Back from vacation. Nothing seems to have changed too much, considering we're now about a third of the way through (remember, pledging now unlocks stretch goals faster!). I do like some of the larger pieces that have been revealed, the wyvern, griffon, and upcoming "cave dwellers" in the core set, plus the optional trolls and skeletal monsters. The upcoming "tree of despair" is interesting: the tree itself is more or less scale-proof, and the vultures it comes with would probably look okay with 1/72 figures; they might actually be a little large, but wouldn't look it at the table.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Made-for-scale terrain in 1/72

Obviously I've been on a bit of terrain kick lately. Most of the stuff I've been discussing lately isn't actually made for 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog, but there are actually plenty of options native to the scale. Let's discuss them, starting with some plastic sets.

Imex has a lot of great detail sets, the Battlefield Accessories and Southwest/Alamo Accessories being particularly useful. Below are fences from the Battlefield set and a well (on the left) from the Alamo set.

The other well above is from Italeri's Desert Tents set. Italeri also has an Urban Accessories kit that is mostly modern but very useable for all kinds of games. Linear-B's civilian sets often come with accessories; their Roman Tavern has a lot of good stuff for fantasy gamers, taverns of course being common locations in such games.

Fountains from Italeri's Urban Accessories set.

There are many more options in metal and plastic. In 20mm scale, there's the metal Moveable Objects line from CP Models and the resin Blitz Bits line from Frontline Wargaming. Phersu Miniatures and Nikolai Modelling also have lines of resin 1/72 scale accessories. Baueda's line of "supplies" is billed as working for "15-28mm" scale, and since 1/72 falls in that range, I'm including them here!

I don't have any examples of these sets. They are unfortunately hard for me to come by, as they are not only fairly pricey, they are also all made in Europe and not sold in the same shops, so shipping would be crazy for me (though with the pound historically weak to the dollar, this might be the best time to go for it). If anyone gets ahold of these and can sell to me in a batch, drop me a line!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Crate work, everyone!

Hey, speaking of terrain:

Crates! These are a mix of Reaper Bones plastic and Rebel Miniatures resin. Painted up pretty quickly using something like the techniques described in this thread. I use mostly Delta Ceramcoat craft paints: here I did a base coat of Burnt Umber, then a heavy drybrush of Raw Sienna, lighter drybrushes of Straw and white, then another light drybrush with Raw Sienna again to balance the lighter colors. Then my standard "magic" black wash. Ecce, mirabiles!

Sven, who remember is about 1 inch tall, among the Reaper crates. These have a lot of great detail but somehow became noticeably warped. The leftmost crate is obviously askew here.

The Rebel Minis crates. These also have pretty good detail, and the resin of course isn't going to warp like the PVC plastic Bones are made of. Unfortunately, some bubbles must have formed when these were cast, leaving some rather bad pockmarks on some of these.

Despite these flaws, they look pretty good as a group.

Sven playing hide-and-seek.
I painted up a few more of the Reaper crates as cargo for my son's toy trains. Painting minis is tricky without a base to hold onto! I added an extra layer of Future Shine for added durability during play. They need a blast of Dullcoat, but it's been too hot for spraying.

And yes, my son painted those hopper cars himself!

P.S. I hope all my dear readers remember that I also have an RPG design blog, which isn't entirely moribund. I just started a series of posts on initiative checks, which will hopefully initiate more RPG blogging in the near future. Remember that the link to new posts can always be found in the sidebar.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Terrain Depot (Twisting Catacombs comparisons)

Last month I mentioned two Kickstarters for terrain projects, one new, one old. The new one is TerrainCrate from Mantic Games, a line of hard plastic terrain in 28mm scale for fantasy gamers. The Kickstarter is officially over, but today they've released their pledge manager, and with it have begun their "late backer" program. This means that if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still get in on the goodies while the pledge manager is open. Just click the link, then click the "Pre-order Now" button. Terrain is often quite adaptable to different scales, and I backed this one in the hope that at least some of these pieces look good in 1/72 scale. Do check it out!

Adaptability is what I had in mind a few years ago when I late-backed the "old" terrain Kickstarter I mentioned. Twisting Catacombs by Zealot Miniatures is a line of 28mm hard resin terrain. It's more expensive that the TerrainCrate pieces promise to be, but also a lot more detailed. I specifically chose the tiniest pieces they had, with the idea that they would more readily look the part for 1/72 scale. Of course I pride myself on scale pedantry, but even I know that when you're dealing with very small pieces, a few millimeters often doesn't make that much of a difference. But is that always the case? Let's compare!

Let's start with these steins. Now if you look with even just a little care, these are too big to be 1/72 scale. The things are bigger than Sven's head, and while such vessels exist, they aren't typical. But if you're not thinking too hard about it, looking down on the table during...whatever gaming situation calls for tactical representations of covered beer mugs, I think they'll look fine. (The table, by the way, is a kit found in Strelets Napoleonic Camp set. It's a truly awful kit, with tons of flash and poorly-fitting parts, but it's the only 1/72 scale table of this size in plastic I'm aware of.)

These goblets and potion bottles are even better. The Linear-B nobleman in holding an in-scale goblet for comparison, and the smallest goblet is just about the same size. The potion bottles are supposed to represent tiny vials, so technically they are a bit too large, but they'd be microscopic in 1/72 scale and pose no problems as far as believability is concerned.

These food items, on the other hand, push credulity a little bit. The cheese and apple on the plate are big but don't seem big, and the pumpkins could of course just be large pumpkins. I can even buy the hamhock as a large specimen in 1/72. But the bread and the pie are just gigantic, and the cutlery is the size of Sven's axe!

We see a similar issue with these desk items. The bladed implements are supposed to be augurs or letter-openers, but look like swords. Way too big for 1/72. Same goes for the scroll, which is longer than Sven's leg! It could maybe work as an objective marker, though. The hourglass is also very large, but perhaps believable as just a very large hourglass in scale.

The books are interesting in terms of adaptability to scale. The biggest is of course quite large, but old books could be all sorts of sizes; the largest ones could easily be large folios. And the smaller ones look just great for 1/72 scale. Books can be so many different sizes in the real world that models of books are almost scale-proof. (The two plastic pieces to Sven's left are harvested from various bases from Games Workshop's "Mines of Moria" set. The comparison shows the advantages that Zealot's resin casting has over plastic injection in terms of detail. I haven't had a chance to mention just how good these pieces look, as I think even my inept miniature photography shows.)

One more tabletop detail is this crystal ball, cast partially in clear resin. Totally believable in 1/72 scale. I always imagine crystal balls in movies to be a lot bigger than they often are, which I think it what sells this piece for me.

Moving to the floor now with these packs of supplies. Here's a case where the excellent detail of these pieces may be a disadvantage in terms of scale adaptability. In the aggregate they look fine, but if you look very closely, you'll see that some of these supplies look pretty darn big. That bow on the right is as tall as Sven! But on the whole, I think these are very adaptable.

Finally, some traps and switches. The trapdoor to the left is another "Mines of Moria" piece for comparison. The switches look excellent. Like the books, switches can be so many different sizes that scale matters a lot less.

I was prepared to wrap this post up with a little bit on terrain made for 1-72/20mm scale, but it turned out to be a bigger topic that deserves its own post. Coming soon!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Battlelore Minis for 1/72 scale

Interested in these figures? I'm selling a bunch on my sales page, along with other minis, including from the recently-fulfilled Bones 3 Kickstarter!

Battlelore is a tactical minis board game produced by Fantasy Flight games that's gone through a couple editions. The first edition was set in a generic fantasy world, while the current second edition is set in the slightly less generic world of Terrinoth, home to Fantasy Flight's Runebound, Rune Wars, and Descent games. The core game and its expansions were on sale at huge markdowns at Fantasy Flight's webstore and at Cool Stuff Inc. at the end of last year, leading to some speculation that Fantasy Flight intends to stop support if not production of these games. But it was an excellent opportunity to stock up on some very interesting fantasy minis.

Why the interest? Because I knew that the minis were sort-of-kind-of close to 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog. How close? Let's take a look.

The core game comes with two factions, the first of which are the noble paladin-people, the Daqan. Shown here are minis from the core game and from the Daqan expansion, "Hernfar Guardians."

An Ironbound, Greyhaven mage, Citadel Guard, and Yeoman Archer. The core game comes with the guards and archers; the expansion has the Ironbound, mages, and extra guards. They seem close in size to Sven, with similarly proportioned features, but note that Sven the comparison viking is on a taller base, meaning the Battlelore minis are actually a bit larger. But they're close!

A Rune Golem, Riverwatch Rider, and Citadel Lancer, with an Eagle Games horse for comparison. The golem and rider are from the core set, the lancer from the expansion. The horses are noticeably bigger, though their human riders are actually about Sven-sized.

The large "Legend" figures: a Siege Golem from the expansion and a Roc Warrior from the core game. The riders are almost exactly 1/72 scale, and the large critters they ride look great next to Sven.
The other faction from the core game are the Uthuk, barbaric chaos-types who are into blood magic, demons, and other such ickiness. Shown here are figures from the core game and the Uthuk expansion, "Warband of Scorn."

A Viper Legion, Blood Sister, Berserker, and Blood Harvester. The core game includes the Legion and Harvesters, while the expansion includes the Berserkers, Blood Sisters, and extra Harvesters. Like the Daqan, these human figures are actually just a bit bigger than Sven, though perhaps they are close enough.

A Grotesque, Obscene, and Flesh Ripper Brute. The Grotesque is from the expansion; the Obscene and Brute are from the core game. These larger creatures look fine next to Sven. If anything the Obscene almost seems too small!

Legends: The Chaos Lord from the core game, and the beetley Doombringer from the expansion.
The third faction, the necromancy/undead themed Waiqar, is available in two expansion sets. The first was Heralds of Dreadfall, the second was Terrors of the Mists.

A Skeleton Archer, Reanimate, Necromancer, and Bone Horror. The first set includes the archers and Reanimates; the second has the Necromancers, Horrors, and more Reanimates. Included here for comparison are two painted skeletons from Caesar Miniatures undead set. The Caesar figures are just a bit shorter than Sven, but are noticeably shorter than the Battlelore figures. This perhaps shows why I'm hesitant to recommend these figures as complements to a 1/72 scale fantasy collection. On the other hand, the Bone Horror looks just fine as a 1/72 scale boney aberration.

A Wraith, Barghest (actually two figures per base), and Death Knight, with an Eagle Games horse for comparison. The Wraith and Knight are from the first set; the Barghests from the second. As with the Daqan cavalry, the Death Knight horse is much bigger than the 1/72 scale horse. The Wraith is huge! You could probably mod it so it isn't so big, though you'd probably lose the cool bands of tattered cloth in the process. Or it can just be a really big ghost.
Legends: A Banshee from the second set, and a Barrow Wyrm from the first. The Banshee is about as big as the Wraith, and its skeletal minders are closer to Sven-sized than the Reanimates. The Barrow Worm looks just as big as an undead dragon ought to.

Conclusions? These are some great-looking pieces, and the larger figures are for the most part unobjectionable. How you feel about the humanoid and cavalry figures for 1/72 scale is pretty much a matter of taste. They are just a bit too big for my taste, but I'm decidedly a pedant about scale. If you like the look of these, it's definitely worth picking up, especially if they go on sale again.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bones III for 1/72 scale

Since starting Cheap Fantasy Minis a few years ago, I've gone through 3 Kickstarters expanding Reaper Miniatures excellent Bones line of cheap plastic minis. While they are standard-sized gaming minis, I've found that many of them are readily adaptable to 1/72 scale, the preferred scale of this blog. For this most recent Kickstarter, I skipped the core set and went for the Stoneskull and the Graveyard expansion, plus a few extra add-ons. The expansions had a lot more small minis and terrain pieces, which I find are best for adapting to 1/72.

My sets arrived last week, so I've taken some comparison shots of the more interesting minis.

The Stoneskull expansion includes six new kobold sculpts, four of which are shown here. I was worried that they might be too large, like the kobold leaders from the second Bones Kickstarter, but they look great. If anything they are a tick smaller and more delicately featured than the original Bones kobolds, making them even better suited for 1/72 gaming. Shown for comparison are one of the original Bones kobolds, plus an unpainted kobold from the Wrath of Ashardalon game.

Other small critters from the Stoneskull set include the gremlins on the left and the "veggie-pygmies" on the right. A Caesar Miniatures goblin is shown for comparison. I'm not sure what a veggie-pygmy is, or what use I'd have for them, but they're just a little under human-sized even in 1/72 scale.

"Stitch golems" on the left; "grave minions" from the Graveyard set on the right. The stitch golems are a little chunky-looking but just about the size of Sven. Similarly, the graveyard minions have somewhat large heads and hands but are otherwise human-sized. As mockeries of human form, they look just fine!

Plant monsters: A "saproling," and a couple of "death star lillies." The saproling is just a bit bigger than Sven, which is what I'd expect from a modestly-sized tree monster. The lillies look big enough for Sven to fit inside, if he gets too close.

Getting a little bigger. Here we have a naga from the Stoneskull set and a "carrion worm" from the Graveyard set. These would be just a little bigger than Reaper-sized humans but look suitably monstrous next to Sven.

Even bigger: a flesh golem, minotaur, and larger stitch golem from Stoneskull, plus one of the ogres from the core set. I always like when large minis are looking down, like the minotaur is doing here. It makes it look like they're sizing up smaller adversaries like Sven.

Finally, the biggest: an absolutely titanic iron golem, and a clear plastic air elemental. The latter should make a fine companion to the fire and water elementals from the previous Kickstarters.

I expect that soon after Reaper finishes fulfilling the current Kickstarter, the Kickstarter for Bones IV: I Can't Believe We're Doing Another One will launch soon after. I'm not sure I have the scratch to back this one (depends on how well I do on my sales page!), but I'll definitely keep an eye on it and live-blog updates. In the meantime, check out this gallery for a preview.