Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Peter Jackson's New Movie Poster

Peter Jackson just posted a teaser movie poster for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on his Facebook page.  All I can say is WOW!


Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Save vs. a Cold or Suffer 1d6+2 Days of Misery

The title says it all.  I went away for a short mini-vacation and brought home a souvenir I neither wanted nor expected - a summer cold.  For the next week that little cold exploded into a major ailment and brought me to my knees.  Either it had some super secret ingredient to make it more potent or maybe I'm just getting older and unable to recover as quickly.  Either way, I felt terrible and spent my free time resting on the couch or going to bed early.  Needless to say, both of my blogs suffered from my inactivity (apologies for the crosspost if you arrived here from the other blog).  My cold is gone now though and I feel like a new man.  It's time for a blog update.

*  I'm working on a few pirate ships for Legends of the High Seas.  I purchased them as a Christmas gift for myself but I am only now getting around to them.  They are from Laser Dream Works and so far I think they will be quite nice.  I'll write a post in the near future reviewing both of the ships I purchased:  HMS Fly and USS Lee.

*  With the nostalgic resurgence of D&D taking over much of my hobby time, I have found myself spending more time painting various miniatures from Otherworld Miniatures.  I love working on minis with an old school feel without dealing with the poor quality of true old school miniatures.  I am using the elven fighter/magic user to represent my character in a Moldvay Basic D&D campaign I'm currently playing in.  The plan is to finish him first then move on to a group of pig-faced hobgoblins.

*  Finally, though it's not related to D&D, I have another hobby item to share.  I've been interested in photography for a long time and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy taking photos.  I've wanted to try aerial photography for a while now but the cost has always been too steep for me to justify.  No longer... Prices are now a bit more reasonable so I just dropped some cash on a new quadracopter and have been experiencing an entirely new side of photography.  Allow me to share one of my early practice photos.  Here is a shot of my neighborhood taken from 130 feet of altitude.  We can call it a "dragon's eye view" photo to help tie in this blatantly unrelated photo to D&D.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Meriadoc Brandybuck: Fictional Dioramas & Functional Usage

File this miniature under the 'better late than never' category.  I started this particular Meriadoc Brandybuck mini well over a year ago for a Hobbit Day diorama I was working on at the time.  Hobbit Day 2012 came and went with only Bilbo Baggins complete, so I abandoned Merry and onto the queue shelf he went.  Months later, I picked him up again with the goal of finishing the now near mythical diorama for Hobbit Day 2013.  That day too came and went without a completed miniature. Back on the shelf he went.  Finally, I was able to finish him last week.  Maybe, just maybe, Hobbit Day 2014 will see a completed diorama.

The planned diorama was to depict Merry spying on Bilbo in the Shire.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins approaches Bilbo from a distance.  Not wanting to deal with her antics, Bilbo quietly slips on his magical ring and disappears until Lobelia has safely passed him by.  Bilbo then reappears and goes about his day, oblivious to the extra company hidden beside the road.  According to the text, this event was the downfall of Bilbo's well-kept secret and a catalyst to forming the 'conspiracy' that was finally unmasked years later when Frodo tries to leave Crickhollow without his friends.

When completed (if that ever happens), Lobelia will be positioned near the bottom of a small rise continuing her walk down the lane towards Hobbiton.  Bilbo will be positioned in the lane some distance behind her, holding his trusty ring in the palm of his hand with an obviously pleased look upon his face for having avoided the dreadful creature.  Merry will be off the side of the road hidden amongst the brush and grass, not quite believing what he just witnessed.  If done correctly, I think the diorama will depict the scene from the book quite faithfully.

This version of Merry (from the Merry and Pippin vs. Grishnákh blister) is the perfect mini for the job.  He is already kneeling/hiding so no conversion was necessary.  More importantly, the look upon his face, while originally sculpted to show fear of Grishnákh, seems to show surprise as well....perfect for my project!

I'm a firm believer of double-duty miniatures.  As such, I did not want to paint and base Merry solely on the description of the Shire encounter.  I also wanted to be able to use the model for additional encounters.  I painted Merry in his Fellowship attire, including the Lothlorien cloak.  The look was flexible though.  To me, the color scheme could just as easily fit the well-tended fields of The Shire (for the diorama) as well as the wilds of Middle-earth (for gaming in general).  The main alternate use of the mini would be for its intended purpose.  The encounter that the blister was meant to depict occurred in Rohan near the eves of Fangorn Forest.  It was easy to adopt the imagery Peter Jackson used for Rohan in the movies and tie it in with The Shire with just a little stretch of the imagination.  The base could be cultivated winter wheat or natural grassland, both of which work for either use.  Now, instead of just sitting in a diorama, I can pull him out and use Merry on the game table.

There is one part of the  model that would preclude Merry from being in Rohan (as depicted in the book and movie) but it takes a sharp eye to find it.  I'll leave that one detail open to guesses in the comments section.

Though the time frame of completion may indicate otherwise, I actually enjoyed painting this miniature.  This sculpt predates GW Finecast and represents the good ole' days when GW LotR SBG products were worth the money.  The lines are clean and the details crisp.   If I remember correctly, I had very little prepping to complet before priming and painting.  That's never the case with Finecast miniatures.  Though I have plenty of GW LotR lead still to paint, working on this miniature made me miss the days when I eagerly awaited the next issue of White Dwarf to see what LotR goodies were coming out the following month.

Ending Note:  I apologize for the photos.  I tried a new lens on my camera for this session.  While the lens does a great job in other areas, close-up photography is not one of them.  The photos look very fuzzy and not at all sharp.  I could have retaken the photos but I was feeling much too lazy, just like a fat hobbit!

Don't forget to provide your guesses below.  I wonder how long it will take to spot it.  As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

DSM Dragon Diorama WIP: Please Don't Make Me Paint More Coins

OK.  This is it.  This post will be the last WIP for the base.  The next will not go up until the base is completely finished and the dragon is ready to be mounted.

All the gold coins have been painted.  Each and every little coin was done by hand.  Though I was tempted (OK, very tempted at the end), I was able to avoid drybrushing.  It took forever but I'm glad I stuck with my original plan.  

All that is left to do now is go back and change a few of the gold coins to silver to break up the monotony of gold.  That shouldn't take me very long.  A good number were already completed at the last WIP post.  Plus I'm keeping the total number of silver coins fairly low.

A bit more work does need to be done to the rest of the base, however.  The stone needs two additional layers of highlighting and then some weathering.  The weapons have only received basecoats so they will need some more work as well.  The gravel will require the most attention though.  I plan to layer up to a rather light brown then attach a significant amount of flock and foliage.

Though I did not take photos, the dragon has also received several basecoats.  Whenever I needed to rest my poor eyes from painting tiny coins I would work on the dragon.  Before I knew it the dragon was prepped, primed, and coated in dark red.  I like it when work gets done without effort.  I just wish that would happen more often.  Once the base is finished I will start working on him full time.  He is MASSIVE!

This project is taking up a large portion of my hobby time but I have not abandoned the rest of my miniatures.  I just completed a hobbit for the LotR SBG and a pirate for LotHS.  I'll post photos of both minis soon.

Thanks for checking in on the WIP and thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dark Sword Miniatures G.R.R.M. Masterworks Kickstarter Loot

I received my Kickstarter loot from Dark Sword Miniatures on Monday.  The box actually arrived on Saturday but I wasn't home to sign for it so I had to wait.  After getting my greedy hands on the package and ripping into the blisters, I found that the wait was definitely worth while.  The new G.R.R.M. Masterworks miniatures are absolutely beautiful.  I received 28 total miniatures (exact contents are listed at the bottom of this post).  Unfortunately I had to pass on most of the add-ons because I already had many of the selected miniatures in my collection (not a bad problem to have).  Overall I still got a great deal on the minis though and I can't wait to get my brush on them!

Just like the previous Kickstarter by DSM, Jim and his crew certainly had their act together.  Immediately after the project ended I received a backer survey in the mail.  I submitted my choices then waited.  The wait was not long however, unlike many other Kickstarter projects.  The time between the end of the fundraising period until I received my backer's reward was less than 2 months.  The estimated delivery date was right on target.  Well done guys!

In addition to the great miniatures, I also received this nice document signed by Jim Ludwig (the president of DSM), Tom Meier (the sculptor) and Mr. George R. R. Martin himself.  Of course the miniatures were the reason I backed the project.  Little extras like this however, prove that the company cares about the hobby and about their customers.

Here is everything displayed all together for a photo.

Once again I am very happy with both the company and their Kickstarter project.  I will not hesitate to back any future efforts.

Reward Contents

Pack 1 of 10
  Jeor Mormont
  Davos Seaworth
  Arianne Martelle

Pack 2 of 10
  Brynden Tully
  Limited Edition Sorceress

Pack 3 of 10
  Maester Pycelle
  Barristan Selmy

Pack 4 of 10
  Prince Joffrey
  Male & Female Minstrels

Pack 5 of 10
  Mounted Khal Drogo

Pack 6 of 10
  Mounted Ser Loras Tyrell

Pack 7 of 10
  Lady in Waiting
  Brothel Worker

Pack 8 of 10
  Scribe of Westeros at Writing Desk

Pack 9 of 10
  Cocky Young Hedge Knight x2

Pack 10 of 10
  Brothers of the Knights Watch

Add Ons
  Exclusive Variant Sculpt of the Scribe of Westeros at Writing Desk
  Kev & Tre Tribute Sculpts

Anyone else back this project?  If so, are you happy with the quality of the miniatures and the speed in which the rewards were delivered?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Game of Thrones Theme on Wine Glasses

I simply could not resist posting this video.  This guy has talent.  When I have my wine at dinner tomorrow night I'm sure to be tapping out a rhythm.


Friday, April 18, 2014

DSM Dragon Diorama WIP: Of Bases and Coins

Work continues on the base of my Dark Sword Miniatures Elmore Dragon Diorama.  The work has been tedious and at times rather boring. But I know I'll be happy with the end result when it is finally completed.  Slowly but surely the treasure horde is coming along.

I've kept to my goal of not drybrushing the coins.  Each coin thus far has been painted separately by hand.  I'm glad I have done so.  Though it may be difficult to tell from these low resolution iPhone photos, the coin horde is quite striking to the eye.  I do have to admit however that I am doing it the hard way.  Each coin, or stack of coins, has to be painted from several different angles.  I usually start with the top of the coin, then I hold the base at eye level and rotate it around, brushing on color where needed.  Otherwise the coins would look two dimensional without their sides painted.  Drybrushing the coins first, followed by the stone gray color probably would have solved this problem.  But I truly think the effect would be much less dramatic. 

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, most of the coins are/will be gold in color.  As you can see in the photos, the gold really does contrast nicely with the gray.  However, to break up the mass of gold I decided to add a few silver coins here and there.  The effect is subtle but does the job nicely.  When I finally get around to painting the assorted weapons and armor included in the treasure pile, the golden mass will be broken up even more.

I've dry fitted the dragon to the base.  Wow!  I had forgotten how massive the miniature megature really was.  The vast majority of the base will be covered by his body while the dragon's impressive wingspan will drape most of the treasure hoard in shadow.  These factors lead me to wonder if I am wasting my time by painting all the individual coins, especially when I will be the only person to really appreciate the detail.  What do you think?

I guess I should get back to painting coins.  I estimate that I'm a little over halfway finished.  Hopefully updated photos will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!