Sunday, 22 October 2017

Zomtober: I Hate Horses!

As promised, this week's offering for Zomtober is Rick, on a horse, from Mantic's Walking Dead game booster called, 'Rick on a Horse', which features a model of Rick on the aforementioned horse, and a zombie, one of the aforementioned walking dead. It's an example of extremely clear labelling from Mantic, something that other companies could possibly learn from.

Taking a similarly Ronseal-like approach to labelling, the post title for this week, 'I Hate Horses,' is because I hate painting horses, and Rick's horse is no different. I think it's because the smooth contours of miniature horses don't really suit my wash 'n' go style of painting, and I lack the inclination to become better at painting them because I hate painting horses.

My antipathy towards painting horses has caused many a wargaming project to falter in the past:
  • my Bretonnians for Warhammer never really got past 1500 points and featured far too much infantry,
  • I abanadoned my Bretons for Saga before I really started assembling them,
  • there have been some Napoleonic Dragoons for the War of 1812 sat in my lead pile for at least half a decade,
  • my Bolt Action Russians will never be joined by Cossacks, 
  • my 6mm ACW Union army is distinctly lacking cavalry or artillery (which are pulled by horses) for the same reasons.

And so you can understand why I approached this week's offering with some trepidation.

And I have to say, I'm still not happy with the horse. I think I need to go back and maybe put a bit more effort into highlighting it. However, I always reach this stage, where the horse is passable and any attempt to improve it, might actually make it worse and cause me to have to spend even more time painting something I dislike painting. Have I mentioned that I hate painting horses?

Also, looking at the pictures, I've not only noticed that I've forgotten to do the eyes properly, but there's an ugly mould line above the left eye that I'd not seen.

Gah! I hate horses!

What I don't hate, is Rick. Another cracking and characterful sculpt which I've painted to match the version on foot that I finished at the beginning of the month. I'm very happy with how he's turned out. So much so, that he probably does a good enough job of drawing my eyes away from the hated horse to make my not worry too much about it, especially as this isn't a model I can see myself using all that much. The horse only features in one of the solo scenarios, and in regular games I'm not sure how useful the horse would be, as despite making a character much faster, it also causes lots of noise and so will constantly be moving zombies towards it.

As well as hating horses, I also hate free-handing writing on models, it never goes well. Therefore I love it when models have raised text sculpted onto them, as it helps me out immensely. The lettering on the police bag is an excellent example, and adds a nice detail to what would simply be blank if it were left to my 'skill'.

And so there we have it it for another week. This coming week is half-term for me, and so I have plenty of time to work on what will hopefully be a decent finale for this year's Zomtober. I also hope to find time for a few solo scenarios now that I have the necessary models, and so there might even be a return of my comic strip game reports if you're lucky. See you then.

By the way, I am fully aware, that if they are reading this, my usual gaming group will now be plotting to get me some horses should they draw my name in our annual Secret Santa. Yes, they are bastards. However, so am I, and I am also plotting along similar lines. Mwahahaaaaaaa....

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Zomtober: Equal Bites

After poor light last week, a sudden spurt of good weather has meant the I was battling with it being a bit too bright to photograph this week's offering. I got there in the end, but many pictures were taken in a variety of locations.

The observant amongst you will have noticed that all of the zombies I've painted are African-American, and this has been a deliberate choice for my week's painting for several reasons:
  1. Some people (actually, quite a lot) are black. Therefore, surely the same would be true of zombies. In fact, roughly 50% of the population of Atlanta (where the early parts of 'The Walking Dead' are set) is black, and although the demographics on the outskirts of the city (such as in Woodbury) would be different, I felt it necessary for the purposes of authenticity.
  2. The walkers I've already done for this game are all white, and games were potentially going to look like this short!
  3. Some of the models in the game are clearly meant to be black, and would look daft if this were ignored.
Interestingly, the lack of equal representation amongst the zombies is something that's been commented on about 'The Walking Dead' TV show. There's some interesting discussion about this issue which raises ideas such as unconscious bias in the casting process, acting (and therefore extra work as zombies) not being viewed as a viable career choice by the black community leading to more white extras being available, and even 'scientific' arguments suggesting that as bodies decompose, the skin would lose pigment leading to more zombies looking white.

Whatever the cause, I prefer a 'freshly dead' look to my zombies, and so, to cut a long story short ("Too late!" they cried.) I felt that there was a need for me to paint some African-American zombies.

This lady came in the Morgan booster and even though all the sculpts in the game are based on images from the comic series, Mantic have cunningly boxed Morgan and Duane with a walker who bears more than a passing resemblance to Morgan's wife in the TV show - she doesn't appear in the comics.

You may notice the use of a flash during daylight in this image. This is because that the bright day was causing me issues with picking out the details on the darker colours I used. You can't quite see, but he's dragging his mangled foot behind him.

This model, I actually have two of, and the first has already been painted. It's one of two zombies that Mantic were giving out at Salute in April, and my diversity project this week seemed a good way to avoid obvious repetition in my shambling horde.

I really liked painting this model. There's something almost cliche about the zombified waitress lurching out of the kitchen in an abandoned diner. I've actually already done a waitress in the same uniform when I painted my Wargames Factory zombies - I like to think that they both worked in the same diner chain, just in different locations (due to basing and sculpt size/style I'm not going to use my Mantic and WF zombies in the same games).

So that's this week done.

Next week you can look forward to Rick. Yes, I know I've already done him, but this time...he's on a horse!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Zomtober: The Walking Dad (and his son)

Ahhh...Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That can mean only one thing...

...crap photos start showing up on my blog because the light outside is rubbish.

This time the crap photos (severely adjusted to ensure that you can see anything at all) are of Morgan and his son Duane.

This is an odd pair of models as they were a booster set is was really keen to get my hands on. Partly because they feature in the earliest scenario from Days Gone Bye, but also because Morgan and Duane offer some interesting gaming opportunities as you can play out their off-screen antics whilst Rick is in Atlanta.

However, the reason why they're odd, is despite how keen I was to get them, I'm not keen on the models themselves. In fact, I think it was these two that cause my initial hiatus in painting my TWD collection.

Morgan is a bit of a dull pose in comparison with almost every other model in the range. He's just stood there (this also contrasts quite sharply with Duane's action pose). He just doesn't stir the imagination.

I think I may have gone for too much of a dark colour scheme and I can't shake the feeling that I'd like to repaint his shirt in white to liven him up. Overall, my impression is of a drab model painted drably. What's more, I feel I might need to highlight his skin a bit more, but I have a constant struggle with getting black skin right.

Despite the dullness, Morgan is at least well sculpted. Duane isn't. His face and head are distinctly characterless. I don't know if I've just got a duff one, but it's not good. You can't even say it's because he's a child and so smaller, as Sophia is probably my favourite TWD model I've painted so far.

Again, like Morgan, I may need to go back to highlight and brighten the model up a bit.

Anyway, they're done, and the gods of Zomtober are appeased for another month. At least I can start playing through the campaign now.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Zomtober: Give That Man A Hand

I'm back!

It's Zomtober!

It's Rick Grimes!

I've had a slightly enforced break from blogging due to being, well, busy. However, Zomtober is here and it's given me a bit of a kick up the backside to get painting again. Starting with my backlog of models for The Walking Dead from Mantic Games.

Rick, pre-amputation, is one of the models in the main game box and, obviously, features in most of the scenarios from the Days Gone Bye expansion, so it's quite important to get him done.

In all honesty, he was mainly painted back in May when I lost my mojo for the Walking Dead, and so he was an ideal candidate for getting finished for the first weekend in Zomtober. I've tried to make sure that his police jacket matches the one I did for Shane, so the can actually serve as partners, should I choose.

If you're wondering what the hell Zomtober is, it a little joint project a number of bloggers take part in each year where you commit to painting at least one zombie or survivor per week dueing October, with the deadlines being the weekend. If you're interested in joining in head over to Brummies Wargaming Blog to sign up.

I've already got Morgan and his son Duane in the pipeline for next week, with some Walkers shambling up behind them. My overall goal this month is simply to make a dent in my backlog, and I'll hopefully find time to do some solo games as further motivation. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Master & Servants

So I said I needed some Dr Who villains, so I decided to get some from 1971. Enter the Master and some Autons, ostensibly from 'The Terror of the Autons,' which was the Master's first appearance in Doctor Who, but the Autons' second.

Yes. I've been Googling.

The Autons are the, now unavailable, Crooked Dice Plastons that were part of the goody bags participants received at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV last month. They are a remarkably undynamic bunch, which isn't really a surprise seeing as they are meant to be shop window dummies come to life.

Because of this necessary lifelessness, I tried to keep the colours fairly drab, although I couldn't resist giving one of them a purple polo-neck - because all polo-necks in the seventies were purple (in my head, at least).

Here they are looking like the aryan Beatles...

To lead them, I have the Master. This wasn't a plan, it's just fortunate happenstance that these villains appeared together. The model is another from Crooked Dice, it's their original version of the Guru, the leader of the 7TV evil secret society SHIVA. It was a model which, until recently was unavailable as it had been replaced with a more dynamically posed model.

I was delighted by the model being made available again for two reasons. Firstly, it's one of the models that drew me to 7TV in the first place, as it is packed with character. Secondly, there is the fact that the model bears more than a passing resemblance to Roger Delgado, who played the original master.

I actually had a bit of an accident when assembling him (the model comes with a choice of three heads - resembling Ernst Blofeld and Ming the Merciless respectively) and clipped off a bit of his beard (don't ask me how). Fortunately I was able to fix this with liquid greenstuff and I'm not sure that you'd know the difference.

This almost gives me a starter sized villainous cast for small games of 7TV, and I supposed I could add some regular henchmen under the Master's hypnotic influence to make up the numbers, but I'm looking at adding a few more Autons through the cunning use of alternate heads.

I've also got some Daleks. But they've currently got me hiding behind the sofa in terms of painting them.

Friday, 25 August 2017

With A Little Help From His Friends

Just a short update today with a couple of models to round out the good guys for my Doctor Who themed games of 7TV: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and River Song.

The Brigadier is the last of the Army starter cast from Crooked Dice that I had left to paint. I'd left him until last because I wasn't sure how to reproduce the correct uniform colour. In the end I decided to stop worrying about it and use washes over a khaki base until I was happy with the colour. Any complaints can be forwarded to the BBC costume department.

He's a characterful little chap, with a great military bearing - very Graham Chapman. He's even holding a swagger stick behind his back. As well a serving in U.N.I.T. this model will be useful in other military scenarios with the rest of the army chaps I did recently. 

When I first saw a painted version of the model below, I immediately thought that is was specifically designed as a 'not' River Song. However, time and a little research has proven my memory to be flawed as Alex Kingston never wore an outfit like this in her many appearances in Doctor Who. I thin it was the blonde hair that made me not realise that the Science Officer, from the Counterblast range of Bombshell Miniatures is actually much more like Ellen Ripley in Alien.

However, she also works as River, and also completes my team of companions for the Matt Smith version of Doctor Who. I now just need to track down a Roman Centurion who looks a bit like Arthur Darvill. I had intended to swap the datapad for the blue book of spoilers, but then I realised that I couldn't be bothered.

Sorry. :)

So I now have the Doctor, Amy Pond, River Song, the Brigadier and U.N.I.T.

Looks like I need to do some villains...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

"Even gods must die!"

Regular readers of my ramblings will know that a few weeks ago, a combination of good fortune, wacky scenarios and a small field of opponents allowed me to come away from a Batman event victorious, and my chief prize was a starter set for the new LexCorp faction for the Batman Miniatures game. Had I not won them, this is not a set I would have bought. However, it was a choice between Lex Luthor and Professor Pyg, a character I REALLY hate, so the choice was obvious.

"Why might I not buy Lex?" I hear you ask. Well, those that know me, might be aware that I'm a bit fussy about what qualifies as 'proper Batman,' and this often leads to me disregarding the more outlandish reinterpretations of characters from the console games (Firefly, I'm looking at you), and frankly all of the New 52 versions of characters. Although Lex Luthor doesn't fit either of these categories, he is very much a Superman character, and Superman stays out of Gotham (mainly for fear of getting his ass kicked...again), so Lex was in now way a priority.

Nevertheless, with my recent push on breaking out of a painting rut, I decided to have a crack at LexCorp.

You'll notice that the set features Lex Luthor and three, rather futuristic looking, LexCorp troopers. These are another reason I wasn't overly keen on this set, as they're a reminder of the overly 'sci-fi' feel of most of the DC universe outside of Gotham City. As such, I have already taken to referring to them as the Lex Marines. Having said that, I quite enjoyed painting all three, and this has made me keen to build up a full LexCorp crew.

Lex Luthor himself, is a very classy looking model. A simple but menacing pose that oozes character, clutching a lump of kryptonite, which amusingly has no effect in regular games as there are no Kryptonians in the Batman Miniatures Game, although there is a special 'World's Finest' scenario that allows Lex and the Joker to be pitted against Batman and Superman.

Lex was ridiculously simple to paint, with the trickiest bit being deciding how bright to make the kryptonite.

In game he might be fairly tricky to use, as his abilities are mainly used in the set up to the game, and he is worth extra VP's to the opponent, making him a fairly soft and valuable target. An energy field might not be enough to keep him safe if I'm careless with placement.However, he should be able to upset enemy plans well, and brings additional funding that will provide his troopers with lots of extra equipment.

The LexCorp troopers were a bit trickier, as I experimented with washes and highlighting to get a green that I was happy with. However, this was more to do with decision making than actually difficulty, and so I enjoyed doing them.

LexCorp Trooper 1 is a close combat master, giving him re-rolls in combat, which is unusual in a henchman. Combined with his reinforced gloves and Strength of 4+, this means that he is a fairly reliable source of damage, and should be good for threatening the higher defence models in the opposing crew.

Trooper 2 is armed with an energy blade which wounds on a 3+ and does that magic blood/stun damage that converts to to two blood when delivering coup de grace. This makes him ideal for finishing off downed opponents, including those who have been knocked out by the reliable Trooper 1. He also comes with the Follow Me trait which is useful for getting the crew moving quickly.

Trooper 3 has the only ranged weapon in the set, and it's only short range. This means that he will have to get across the board quickly to use it. Fortunately, the LexCorp equipment list features a jet-pack, and the fact that his hand cannon is a beam weapon that largely ignores cover, delivers three blood damage and pushes opponents, potentially makes him really good for chasing down enemy snipers.

All of the LexCorp troopers come with medium armour, which will provide them with excellent protection from enemy attacks, especially in close combat. However, the fact that they are only Endurance 4 means that weight of ranged fire can bring them down fairly easily due to the 'just a scratch' rule. This probably means that this crew will need to be used fairly aggressively.

In terms of building the crew, I have already painted the comic version of Talia Al Ghul, who is affiliated with LexCorp, and brings a bit more speed and range without negatively affecting the budget for equipment. To bring this crew up to 350 reputation, I simply need to add the Heavy Trooper, who comes armed with a...Laser Cannon!

What did I say about sci-fi?

As a final bonus, this crew is part of the Multiverse range, which meant that it not only came with the game cards for BMG, but also with cards for the DC Universe Game. This is essentially the same system as for the, now defunct, Marvel Universe Game, and so they may also see action against Mike's Dark Avengers, Wes' Guardians of the Galaxy, or even Pete's Justice League (if he ever gets the urge to paint them).

All in all, for something I didn't really want, these have been surprisingly satisfying.