Sunday, May 26, 2013

Painting/Modeling - Tau Devilfish

It's been irking me having the rings unpainted on the Devilfish's Gun Drones .  After using the model in a game two nights ago, I finally decided to get that done today.  With that done, I couldn't resist working on some more of the metallics, and then that led to finally taking that brave step towards trying some weathering techniques.

It's funny, I know I've had this model on pause for a while, but today I tried to remember when I last worked on it -- Christmastime!  That's a half year.  Amazing how the time flies by.

I wanted to see how the second half of the hairspray technique would work.  I applied alcohol to the areas where I wanted to scratch and rub.  I was surprised how fast and thoroughly the alcohol works.  If I hadn't been careful, I would have been able to wipe away the entire paint-job just using the brush that I used to apply the alcohol!

Now that said, the alcohol penetrated the first layer of white paint.  It really didn't penetrate the camouflage layers of paint.  I had to finally resort to using a metal tool to scratch down to the hairspray layer (which I ended up doing on only two spots on the nose).  I'm thinking the camouflage layer is tougher because the gray-blue paint was a Testor's spray-paint.  It might have been enamel.  I suspect that's what makes the difference.  If anyone knows, please comment!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Friday night game - Warhammer 40K

This is my first game trying out the new Tau Codex.  Despite the new codex, I've been adjusting my attitude for Warhammer games, and I'm giving more serious attention to list-building.  Those two drivers, along with slowly acquiring/preparing new models, resulted in the following adjustments for 40K army (we played a smaller, warm-up game of 1000 points):
  • Put aside Eldar allies for the moment.
  • Try out the Devilfish.  Try to move troops around the table.
  • Try out the Stealth team.  I'm excited about using a combined Homing Beacon and Positional Relay to potentially guarantee a flank attack.
  • Try out the new Cadre Fireblade.  I really like the idea of a line infantryman earning hero status.
  • Go back to using a Drone shieldwall in place of the Aegis Defense Line.

Here's a view of Turn 1.  Half my army is In Reserve.  Oh, and I finally painted those damn craters, which have been primed black for about 3 years.

Here's a link to the full battle report.

I ended up losing the game, but I had fun.  Understanding why this particular list build & match-up put me at a disadvantage eased the sting of being on the back foot for most of the game.  I've always said that the Deployment phase and Turn 1 make 50% of the game in 40K, and this was no exception.  I'm ready to tweak my list and try again!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Scratching the itch

Since returning from Adepticon and MFCA, I've been itching to paint.  I've forced myself to be disciplined, however, because I needed to devote time toward a house project -- replacing the air conditioning.  While baby-sitting contractors at home, I took advantage of the time at home to attend to years-old organizing and cleaning projects.  I was true to my goals, and I forsook the paintbrush for digging through bins, closets, and bookshelves.

With mission accomplished, I rewarded myself today with a couple of painting sessions.  I just wanted to focus on one figure -- no big projects.  Not even one where I necessarily want to apply all the ideas that are brimming in my head from the shows.  Just something to warm up and ease my way back into it.

This orc was my first victim.  He is among a multitude, an army of orcs of goblins, but he got singled out for special attention.

I might add some more color to his face and/or decorate his shield.  Or I might just leave him as is.  I'll sit on it for a while.

With the orc and I pondering one another, I decided to finish my Toad Shaman for Alkemy.  I played a game last night, and I'm tired of seeing my Aulok Nation half-painted on the tabletop, especially the Toad.  He is now ready to shower his healing blessings on his brethren.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


On a bit of a lark, I decided to attend the Miniature Figure Collectors of America show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  I never heard of the show until a few weeks ago, when my fellow hobbyists at the National Capital Model Soldier Society mentioned it.  I was discussing at our meeting the strong European presence at Crystal Brush, and my friend, Rhodes, explained that the MFCA was probably the one show that attracted the most European talent to the US and that it would be worth my while to go.

It turned out to be about a 3-hour trip, but that was nothing compared to the 16-hour drive, I think it was, that fellow WAMPer, Wendy, and her family made from Michigan.  It was a pleasure to meet a non-NCMSS WAMPer for the first time.  Wendy and her family have attended the show for six years, and she educated me on a lot of the logistics and history behind the show.  For example, one reason the show attracts so many Europeans is that local businesses (mainly law firms, apparently) donate stipends to fly the artists over.  I'm curious as to what the selection process is, to choose from among all the talent over there.

Here is a link to my full gallery of photos, but I'll show a few highlights here.

Here is an overview shot of the show.  There are 3 Categories:  Historical, Fantasy, and Ordnance.  Each Category has two Divisions:  Painters and Open.  The Painters Division is for stock or slightly converted models, while the Open category is for full-out conversions, dioramas, scratch-builts, etc.

It's interesting to me that the Category label denotes the higher tier, organizationally, than the Division label.  Now I think I understand why the NOVA Open organized their art competition that way last year -- they were following established precedents.  I'm organizing it for 2013, and I flipped the labels around, because I just thought, in the English usage of the terms, Division is a larger construct than Category.  Now I learned that I'm defying established conventions, and I'm probably going to confuse everyone.  D'oh!

Here are a couple of Wendy's pieces.  This first one she entered in the Crystal Brush.  I wasn't sure if she attended Crystal Brush, so I didn't know this piece belonged to her.  I recognized it instantly at the MFCA show, though, and I finally made the association.

I love this next one.  It's a little hard to tell from this angle, but the top figure is a cow on a snowboard.  Wendy sculpted the penguins herself!

This next figure is by Rhodes Davis, one of my fellow hobbyists at the NCMSS.  This is one of my favorite pieces by him.  Rhodes serves as head judge at the NCMSS show, and he's been a great mentor to me and anyone else in the club who seeks his help.

This was an interesting scratch-built sculpt.  The sculpting is masterful -- very classic lines and volumes.  It's like a steampunk/fantasy Michelangelo in miniature!

Here is a "flat" by Marion Ball, a Grand Master of the MFCA.

A member of the European contingent, here is Diego Estaban.

And here is his piece that won 2nd place in the Crystal Brush last year.  What a surprise to see it in person!  This alone made the trip worthwhile.

I don't recall ever seeing a photo of the back of the piece.  Check out the tatoo and shield!  Not to mention the fantastic skin tones.

Here is another masterpiece by Diego.  I asked how he achieved the soft lines of the tatoo, but the language barrier was a little too much for us to understand one another.  The best I got out of him was, "lot's of blending, lot's of blending".

I'll wrap up with some other highlights from the show....

I just ordered this Scarecrow figure for myself.  What a coincidence to see the actual paintjob that was done for the box cover art!

This one is by David Powell, another NCMSS member.

This one is by Jim Richey, yet another NCMSS member.  I gave him this figure in a trade!

One of my fellow NCMSS members said this next piece was auctioned off for $65,000!

Now these were neat.  I had never seen miniatures in lightboxes.  Phenomenal work!

I am pleased to report that I actually earned a couple of medals!  The judging is "open judging", which means that the artists are measured against a standard, and any number of bronze, silver, and gold medals can be awarded, if enough entries meet those standards.

I entered my 'Border Dispute' diorama that I entered in the Crystal Brush (official photos are forthcoming), and it earned a bronze, which I'm very pleased with, given the incredible standard on display at the MFCA.

On top of that, I earned a silver for my Brotherhood of Assassins figures for Freebooter's Fate!  These are figures that didn't score very well on Cool Mini or Not, which I was kinda disappointed about.  I feel a bit redeemed hat they earned a silver at an international show!  Maybe presentation has something to do with it.  They're not on an elaborate base like most of the other pieces in the MFCA show, but it's a more formal approach than what I used on CMON.

In any case, I'm motivated yet again to push myself in the direction of competition/display painting.  Crystal Brush and MFCA have certainly put some wind in my sails.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Adepticon Diary - Entry #8 - Poker and Wrap-up

So this ends my Adepticon journey.  My buddy, Oko, hooked me up with a ticket to the Sunday night poker tournament. 

Customized poker chips - specially made for Adepticon
After a very fine dinner buffet, exclusive for the poker players (where Oko made off with half the desert tray to munch on later), we gathered in a conference room to play Texas Hold 'Em.  The rounds were timed -- the ante increased with each round, pushing out the weak hands.

The event started with around 7 tables of 10 people per table.  Every 20 minutes or so, the rounds rolled over and increased the ante.  After about 3 hours of playing, I shocked myself by surviving the eliminations to make it to the Top Table!

Not a bad stash.  The chips closest to me are the higher-value ones.

left to right:  the guy who took most of my money; Ben Curry of the Bad Dice podcast; Scooter, one of the Maryland contingent, and Warhammer Fantasy tournament organizer for the NOVA Open; some dude

left to right:  some dude; a volunteer dealer; Oko; some other dude

I was excited to finish in 6th place!  And I was happy to lose my final hand to my own local gaming partner, Oko, who went on to win 1st place.  Congrats, Oko! 

Everyone who made it to the top table earned some really nice swag, too, so I walked away with yet more miniatures and boardgames, including one gem, Blood Bowl Team Manager.  As if I have any more room for more toys.  But I'll take it!

And one final picture that didn't fit in with any of the other posts -- my celebrity pic with Ms. Joey Berry of the Warhammer Joey YouTube channel!  I love her British accent.  You rock, Joey!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Adepticon Diary - Entry #7 - Vendor Hall studio minis

This post shows some highlights from the vendor hall, mainly close-up pics of minis in the Cool Mini Or Not booth.  But first, let's start with Jeremie Bonamant Teboul's table, for his collective company, Figone.

Where all the other vendors set up elaborate booths, peg-boards, showcases, banners, and displays, Jeremie simply had 3 tables and a chair.  He dumped on the tables a knapsack of miniatures in plastic baggies and then sat down to paint.  Given all the hoopla at the other booths, guess where I spent the most money....

I love the painted squirrel on the left.  Apparently so did Jeremie.  He turned down an offer from a passing admirer to buy it outright.  Then Jeremie offered to paint for the gentleman a new and separate one for free!

I picked up 2 or 3 of these large-scale figures, along with a good handful of the 28mm minis in the baggies.  I justified the purchase, in that I didn't have to pay S&H all the way from France.

Zombiesmith was a pleasant surprise to see in the hall.  This is another vendor that is hard to find anywhere except direct from their website or at shows like this and Historicon.  I'm a huge fan of their Quar characters -- WWI-style aardvark dudes.  The display case is filled with the minis, which are a little hard to see, but you get an idea of what they look like by seeing the giant-scale version!  They also had yarn versions that a fellow vendor knitted for them last year, ha, ha.

Here are a couple of Hell Dorado figs from Asmodee, I think it is.

OK, here's one of the highlights of trip for me -- seeing the studio paint-jobs on the miniature lines for Dark Age, Wrath of Kings, and Confrontation Legends.  The non-metallic metal (NMM) treatment, weathering, color schemes, and blending styles were all illuminating for me to see.  I'll be studying these photos for some time to come to improve my own techniques.

Starting with Dark Age:

I love the metals and weathering here.  All NMM!

These are called Pud Throwers, ha, ha.

A 28mm paintjob that does total justice to Brom's original oil painting:

The new Kukulkani faction.  Love the colors.

And again, all NMM:

This griffon rider is from an independent range of figures, I believe.

Wrath of Kings models:

I bought the initial release of resin figures for the pig faction...

And finally, Confrontation Legends: