Friday, December 28, 2012

Another year almost gone but refocusing for 2013 :)

Well the start of a new year is upon us, which means it's time to refocus on priorities. This year was more invested on my family, and with whatever extra time I had, I spent it trying to learn calculus and level up on Skyrim (which ended up taking 8 months of my spare hours at night). While the Christmas break is a great time to get some projects done for many, it usually means giving up my hobby space for our Christmas tree.

Here is my hobby space currently. I would complain but I do enjoy Christmas so it is a minor sacrifice. Although I am sure my family rather see the tree year round then my desk with all my junk on it ;).
One of the biggest realizations this year is that I will never find the time to build and paint my 3rd edition Space Hulk game. I bought it when it got released and to this day all I ever did was remove the shrink wrap. So I went ahead and placed it on ebay. Well if you are inclined to get a copy mine is listed here: Space Hulk and ends in a few days. 
So while it was a dry year for hobbies, 2013 will hopefully be more devotion to getting a couple hobby related things done in my spare time. That will also be a challenge since I am realizing that my spare time is becoming more scarce since my son is getting older and we are enjoying more outdoor activities together.  
But at the same time he is also starting to take interest in some of my hobbies so eventually that spare time will become quality time with him....well one can dream right ;).

Right now X-wing seems to be a game I can play and do easy projects for. One of those being building a Death Star board. My wife purchased a 6"x 6" mold from Combat Wombat miniatures so I can make it possible. I've already cast 4 tiles using Smooth-on 300 and they came out pretty well. 

Combat Wombat also sells a completed 3'x3' board with turrets for 99 dollars. While it was tempting to just purchase the whole thing, I want to have the versatility to build a Death Star trench if I wanted to. Of course as of this writing it seems like a lot of folks want their own Death Star so he has ceased production on the 99 dollar board till he can catch up with orders. Depending on how much you want to spend money or time to put work into, the cost of both the mold and the board will pretty much even out.  

After doing some math I figured I spend 45 dollars for the mold, I can usually get Smooth-on 300 for a 30%-40% discount and would need about 2 pounds worth of casting material so that would be about $30-$35, add the 6 turrets he offers for $15 and you pretty much hit his price point give or take. The benefit to the mold will be if you can make the mold survive the 36 casts required for a 3'x3' board you can then use it to make a trench run board.

Here is the mold I received from Combat Wombat. Now from what I read on his website, he is a Army veteran which I have the up most respect for. I gladly support someone who defended our country and is trying to make a living by selling products they made. But as a fair warning if you go the mold route, don't expect to get a mold at the level of quality of Hirst-Arts. My mold had a few defects, and while it may require some sanding to even out the tile casts, the tiny defects on the surface are hardly noticeable. Some of my casting defects can easily be fixed with putty or light sanding. My only worry now is that I got some tearing on my last cast even after spraying it down heavily with mold release. So just a precaution if you are planning to purchase the mold.

Now I don't want to be overly negative or leave on a sour note. The tile cast themselves are very detailed and with Smooth-on 300 they are durable and will last a very long time. I recommend picking up a set or a mold if you want your own Death Star. With the Falcon and Slave I release on the horizon, I am looking forward to recreating the trench run from Episode IV.

So hopefully you all got some great hobby gifts this year. Here's to a hobby filled 2013!! Happy New Year and as always keep on gaming!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Imperial Landing Shuttle

Well I can't really say I've been consistent in my hobbies lately, but so many fun games have been released lately that I've just been getting the hobby bug and no real focus to stay on one project long enough to completion. My latest project has been an Imperial Shuttle to use as an objective in the X-wing board game by Fantasy Flight Games.

It's amazing what you can do with a little bit of styrene sheets and rod. I tried to make it to scale but finding a comparison of an x-wing and an Imperial shuttle was hard to find. So hard that it is non-existent. But for an in game objective it will work.

It is a work in progress. I am probably going to add some more styrene to the wings to give it more of a Star Wars feel. The best part is that I went searching around the web and found a website that sells some bases made for the game. Eventually I can design some specs for it and use it in game as a stolen shuttle with the rebel forces or a troop lander that is trying to board a bigger rebel ship. I also managed to snag a used Tantive IV from Micro Machines that I plan to modify to use in the game as well. Too many hobbies not enough time to game. I guess that's life huh?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weapon Modding Ninja Turtle Style

OK I know what you are thinking...Ninja Turtles? What does this have to do with miniatures? Well everything. Modifying action figures was my intro to the hobby of scale models and basically how my obsession carried over to gaming miniatures as well. I had the Turtle Fever back in the 80's and well into the 90's...heck I even paid to go to their musical concert as lame as the premise of it was. But now being a parent of a boy who is just discovering Spider-man, Super-man, and all the rest of the Marvel and DC universe I had to pick up all 4 turtles from the new upcoming Nickelodeon TV show to give a new generation the Turtle Fever. These figures are probably one of the best renditions of the radical 4 turtles Playmates has ever brought out. The articulation is above average for action figures in their price range. The one main draw back came with my second favorite turtle Michelangelo. His nunchucks were terrible. They were very stiff and the plastic stressed as soon as you made him hold one with both hands. It took 1 day of my 3 year old playing with them till one of them  finally snapped :(.
Well lucky for my son, his dad is a hobby nerd and unfortunate things like this are more of an opportunity to improve on the original design intent. So I broke out my tools and got to work and ended up with the result in the photo:

Much better wouldn't you say? Well now that one is fixed might as well make a matching pair with the other nunchucks. It's a rather easy modification, you can find all you need at the local Hobby Lobby or Michael's and the end result will insure durability for even the roughest of fights against Shredder and his Foot Clan.

You will need the following tools starting from the top: Pin Vice with a small size drill bit(sorry I didn't know the exact size but it's fairly small), Hobby Shears/Cutters, and Hobby Pliers. Not shown in the photo is a hobby file with a 250 grit. You don't really need it but it makes it easier to drill the top of the nunchucks later.

You will also need the following materials both found in the jewelry section of the craft store:
A necklace that looks like a chain roughly to scale of the action figures( I don't know off hand what scale they are but take one of the nunchucks for reference). 2 miniature eye-bolt screws. I found these attached to some potion bottles in the jewelry section. These might be harder to find locally, but just in case, you can find them here. Be sure to buy 2 since 2 come in one package and you'll need 4 of these. 

Yeah you'll be shopping a lot in the jewelry section and if you are a guy, the lady shoppers will probably stare at you with a puzzled look on their face wondering why you are in the jewelry section. I get a little self-conscience at times but the jewelry section always has some of the best items to use in a model miniature scale. It's worth all the stares from the ladies to shop for those things ;).

Now it's just a matter of snipping the plastic chains off. See how the tops look bumpy? Here is where your file would come in handy just to make the tops more even.

After sanding the tops, take your Pin Vice and drill the top of the nunchucks just enough to get the eye-bolts situated. You will need to try your best to get the pin vice centered but if you are off just a bit, you won't really notice with the end result.

Once you can get your eye-bolt situated on the hole you just made, you can then just screw in the bolt by hand till it's flush with the top. Got big hands? The pliers also work as long as you don't use too much force. Now rinse and repeat the steps with the second nunchucks handle.

So once you have something similar to the top photo, it's now time to get these nunchucks chained together and ready for some Ninja Turtle action! 

Next you'll want to grab your pliers and necklace and basically start at one end of the necklace and open one of the necklace links at the length you need. I started out with 6 chain links on the nunchucks but then it looked too long so I cut it down to 4 links and it looked better. I found the second time I did this I can open the chain link with my finger and thumb and then close it with the pliers after I get them situated. So once you get one side connected, the other side is a piece of cake

And you are finished! Like I said it is a fairly simple mod and your kids will love it now that Mikey's nunchucks look like the ones on the show. The nunchucks are now pretty durable and if they break again, you have plenty of necklace chain left to fix it again. My son is currently on day 3 of the new nunchucks and they already lasted longer than the stock ones

Cowabunga Dude! I think Mikey likes it. I also plan to modify the other extra chained weapons that were included with the turtles. I think Donatello has a chain-like bow, and Michelangelo has a chained hook. So my work isn't over just yet. 

Perfect fit. I recommend you pick up a set of the 4 turtles if you are a fan. You won't be disappointed. Of course you can also just hold off and wait since the Turtle fever seems to go dormant for 3 years after the TV show gets canceled then comes back in full force again :P. Now to go kick some shell!
Keep on playing!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Princess Ruby- When Priming goes Wrong

Happy August! Just a small blog post here to feature my latest project Princess Ruby! If you are like me than you probably are getting excited about Soda Pop's upcoming Caverns of Roxor expansion. Lately I've been trying to go with alternate paint schemes to give my miniatures a more personal look. For Princess Ruby, I took some inspiration from the not so popular Nintendo character Daisy. I always liked Daisy better than Princess Peach. I guess it's because Peach always has to be rescued from the same villain over and over, whereas Daisy just seems like she has it all together and doesn't need rescuing. Also I broke a few of the speed records in Mario Kart Wii using Daisy. But enough chatter, here she is

Well unfortunately she was not without flaws. The biggest one being that the finish looked grainy. Doesn't matter how great the blending or highlights look, the grainy surface just ruins it completely for me. I posted it on the sodapop miniatures forum and the comments I got about it where on par with what I thought. Her eyes supposedly look crazy as well. I wasn't offended by any means but after considering the comments and the finished look, I just couldn't convince myself that it was to the best of my ability. So as of right now Princess Ruby got a dip in some Simple green and got stripped down to bare metal so I can give it another go with paint. Hopefully this time the weather will be in prime(no pun intended) condition to, :).

Still plugging away with the painting tutorial. It's hard having to stop my groove and photograph my progress as I go, but I am hoping to have it posted late next month. So keep an eye out for it. Until next time, keep on painting and keep on gaming muchachoes.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Super Dungeon Explore Rex

Finally got some painting done for my Super Dungeon Explore set. After my wife bought me a SDE Battlefoam tray, I felt it necessary to start painting these guys up. How do you like it?

I went with a Trollblood base color scheme. I am currently working on a painting tutorial to paint the Mini Art way. Yes I know I don't have any golden demons or crystal brushes so your question is why would anyone want to learn to paint the Mini Art way? Well I like minis that look great on the table, and painting SDE has showed me I can paint decent looking minis fast. Will they win any awards? Probably not but painted minis will add a new dimension to your games. So keep looking here for a tutorial. But for now, Keep on gaming! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Greens for bases

Happy Memorial Day!!
I don't know who reads my blog, but if anyone is a serviceman or servicelady in the armed forces I just want to thank you for giving your lives so people like me can enjoy freedom and enjoy fun hobby stuff like this in peace. THANK YOU!
Well the Super Dungeon Explore bases were not as successful as I thought they would have been. I sold 2 sets at a decent price but after months of not selling any more sets I sold the remainder of my inventory for a bulk price to someone who originally purchased one of the sets off the Etsy store. The molds have now been destroyed and the originals have been stored away till I can at least get a better mold made and there is interest in them again. Here's my sad face----------> :(.
 In the meantime I began to work on some bases for a Bretonnian Army for Warhammer. Honestly I never thought I would get into Warhammer Fantasy but I liked the Bretonnians and all the models they have for them so I ended up trading some gaming stuff  I had lying around for a battle battalion box, a box of the knights errant/ knights of the realm, 2 pegasus knights, 2 lords of Bretonnia and a King Leouen Leoncouer miniature. So lots of miniatures to base. So I busted out the sculpting tools again and began work on some bases with a cobblestone and dirt theme.

What do you think? I thought the greens turned out great at least. As you can see I only sculpted the ones I needed for the Bretonnian miniatures. I know I have a few base sizes missing including the 50mm base. I figured since I only have one miniature on a 50mm base, there was no point in molding it since I only need one copy. So it's off to the molding station to mold these bad boys.

And here is my finished mold with a few casts from it. I was worried about the basing sand and how it would react with the silicone. But since I added a few extra coats of Future shine to seal my bases, it actually turned out fine. I spent the extra dollars and got some Mold Star 30 silicone to mold them. This stuff is the best and way better than Oomoo 30. The casts are pretty detailed and will probably look great once they are painted up. So will I sell them? Nope probably not in the short future unless I get some significant requests for them. Casting resin is too expensive and there is no guarantee you'll even break even with selling them. But it is not a definitive no.

In other news, you've probably noticed I changed my blog logo a bit. It's been a work in progress for awhile. I was never 100 percent satisfied with my original mascot/character. I wanted it to have a more anime feel. I think I must have drawn about 30 different sketches before ending up with this one. In addition, I also added a little tribute to my favorite video game that I have probably invested more time in than my miniatures hobby ...Skyrim. So who knows, maybe the logo might actually be attached to an awesome game or product someday but until then....
Keep on gaming ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Burn In Designs Paint Rack Review

 For the longest time I have been shopping for a good paint rack to store my huge collection of hobby paints. I went with one of the Rubbermaid plastic storage bins that have multiple compartments to store your things. While this was a good solution to storage, I still ran into problems with easily accessing my paints. I just happen to run into a small laser cutting company named Burn In Designs. If you know me well, you'll know I like to support small companies that do hobby stuff. So after seeing their Facebook page full of laser cut awesomeness, I went ahead and ordered their paint rack that holds 50 paints in the standard wood. Here is the finished product on my desk.

Now for a review. Ordering from Burn In Designs is a bit more complicated in the sense that you have to email the company to request an order. Sure it's different but after using to sell  and then using Paypal for transactions myself, your profit margin takes a hit. So their method doesn't bother me at all. So you'll just have to have faith and trust them that you'll get your item(you know, the old fashion approach to business). Shipping is fast and I got my paint rack within 3 days.

Before I ended up with the photo above, I had a pile of wood that looked like puzzle pieces that needed to be assembled without the help of any instructions or diagrams. Not to worry it is easy to figure out, even by the novice, but I am sure some people may have a more difficult time figuring out how the pieces fit and need that extra bit of help. I mean even Ikea stuff comes with some form of diagram right? I used super glue for construction against my better judgement only because I didn't want to wait the 24 hours for wood glue to dry.
The paint rack is constructed in 3 parts. 2 rectangle shaped paint racks that hold 25 paint pots each and the rack stand.  I started by building one of the paint racks. Now I have quite a bit of experience building architectural models but even with all my experience I managed to screw up building the first rack. I glued the sides to the top rack with the hole cut-outs but then I couldn't glue the bottom of the rack and it fell apart. 
After a few attempts to glue it together, I found that the best way was to glue the 2 smaller sides(the side that says Burn In Designs) together with the top and bottom of the rack and then that makes it easier to glue the longer sides after(which is why I reiterate the need for a diagram or instructions). The second rack was a lot easier and it was glued together with less stress.
Now the rack stand was another story. My wife saw the difficulty I was having with keeping it glued together that she thought I was duped out of my money for something that will never work. I was almost convinced of that too until I finally got it to stay together through some feat of hobby skill. I was almost afraid to put the paint racks on it since I thought for sure it would collapse. I nervously put the racks on the stand and then carefully moved it to my desk, making sure to hold my breath so it wouldn't move and started to fill the rack with the paints that I use most often. Then my wife and I stood by my desk and stared at the fragile but oddly sturdy awesome paint rack that now adorns my work space. My wife thought for sure that the whole paint rack would collapse during the night but here it is 3 days later still standing. 

The cool thing was that included in my package was some little trinkets of laser cut skulls and advertising discs. I didn't have another use for them so I glued them to the rack for aesthetics. For my paint rack I glued the wood piece with the company name on the outside so when any gamer friends come over they can see who makes it and also I like the font on the company name, but you can also glue it with the name facing the inside of the paint rack to give it a more clean look.
Final thoughts: I give this paint rack an overall score of 8.5 out of 10
Here's how I grade it:
-.5- for slight difficulty of  overall construction
-.5- for not including a diagram or instructions on how to build
-.5- one of my racks had a circle that was not fully cut so I had to cut it with an xacto knife. It was a very obvious QC issue that could have been easily noticed when packing it up for shipping.(even I have gotten knocked for QC when I was selling my bases)

Other than the QC issue it would have been a 9 overall, and I highly recommend buying from them. It is pretty sturdy even if it doesn't look it at first. They also have many options to choose from. If you don't like wood(or the smell of it because it will smell like burnt wood for awhile, just the nature of laser cut products) they also come in a variety of colored acrylic which costs a bit more, and they have another variety of paint rack that replaces one of the paint racks with 2 drawers for your hobby tools. I am sold on these and would most likely purchase from them again in the future.
Keep on gaming! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

It's been a long time-Lifeguard tower W.I.P.

Well I haven't posted at all this new year but I finally have something worthwhile to post. After purchasing the surfer dude miniature from Reaper, I didn't know exactly what to do with it so I decided to build a beach and lifeguard tower diorama. Don't know what it's use would be? Maybe if space marines were storming a beach?  It's still a work in progress but I hope to get it painted up soon. Enjoy!

and remember Keep on gaming!