Sunday 25 February 2018

He-Month: What’s that coming over the hill?

Is it a monster?


It’s actually a Shadow Beast, an ape-like creature that appeared under the command of Beast Man in both the original Filmation cartoons and the 2002 reboot.

As you can see, I’ve gone for a more 2002 look, mainly because the face is more ape-like and the model I was using as a base was a giant gorilla from Crooked Dice.

The model itself is frankly gorgeous, and I’m pleased to mamage to sneak a Crooked Dice miniature into what is ostensibly a 7TV project. All I’ve done is add a couple of horns taken from a GW Beastman (appropriately).

In terms of painting this was an incredibly simple job with a base coat of black, a blue dry brush and a healthy dose of black wash.

Overall, I’m really happy with how easy this was to do and how it’s turned out, which makes it especially annoying that I managed to drop the model during basing and smack three of its fingers off.

My attempt to fix this was to add the rock as if it’s being thrown and attempt to camouflage the offending fingers with some ivy. It’s not perfect, but it will do. 

All in all, this is a pleasing addition to my growing MotU collection, and it should be easy enough to add more by picking up some other gorilla sculpts that are out there, although I’ll also pick up another CD one to paint up in a more convential way for my pulp project.

In game terms, this is the first addition that could potentially form a unit in 7TV when led by Beast Man. At the moment, his Unit Leader trait links him to ‘Beast Packs’, but this gives me the option of creating more unit options for Beast Man to lead as he corralled numerous different monsters during the cartoon runs.

He-Month may be coming to a close soon, but I’ve recently ordered some more models, so the end of February will not see the end of this project.

However, this is probably it for what has probably been my most successful mini-project for some time, and so I’ll sign off from He-Month with a group shot of my creations.

Thursday 22 February 2018

He-Month: Let’s Get Obscure!

Wolf Bats.

You know, Wolf Bats.

Surely you remember the Wolf Bats? They were in two whole episodes of a cartoon series from thirty years ago.

The looked like this...

Yes. They do look stupid.

Anyway, in my hunt for more Miniatures for this project (before the post arrived), I started hunting through my to see what I could use. I stumbled on the pieces that could possibly make a minor villain called Count Marzo, however in researching the Count I came across one of the only two episodes which feature the Wolf Bats.

One thing my bits box is not short of, as an ex-WFB Vampire Counts player, is bats. And as it happens, I also had three Copplestone Huskies that I bought for use as Mine Dogs in my Soviet Bolt Action army before I was bought some of the official models.

I spotted an opportunity.

So, after a good chunk of beheading and drilling I was able to construct a base of Wolf Bats for use in my Masters of the Universe games.

In terms of painting, I’ve gone for a somewhat slapdash (even for me) approach of simple base colours and washes. These are never going to be the centrepiece of a game.

I did toy with basing them individually, but in both of their appearances in the cartoon they don’t really operate alone. Also, I think they look better as a flock.

You’ll notice I used the word flock instead of swarm. Firstly, there’s only three of them, and frankly calling that a flock is a stretch, let alone a swarm. Also, in 7TV a swarm is a specific trait which in my view would make these chaps far too powerful in game terms.

In terms of rules I’ve actually created a trait called Flock for the Wolf Bats, which incorporates the Large and Small traits together so their impact on enemy attacks cancel each other out and the Wolf Bats simply have an extra health point.

For a profile I’ve used the Mothman from the Paranormal Exterminators deck and added the Questionable Ally trait because at the end of the other episode featuring them, the Wolf Bats turn on Skeletor, so allowing that to happen seems appropriate.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

He-Month: He-Man Rules!

Sorry...that should be 'Rules for He-Man.'

As regular readers of this blog (both of you) will be aware, I play quite a few different games. Over the last year I've been playing quite a lot of Bolt Action, Dropzone Commander, Dropfleet Commander, BMG and 7TV, along with numerous other systems I play on and off. Combined with the games I've played in the past (WFB, FoW, WAB, etc.) and multiple editions of all of the above, this means that my head is swimming with half-remembered, and often contradictory, rules. Therefore, when it comes to choosing rules for a new project I need to ensure that the rules for the system will be able to find space in my head, and so I apply the following questions:

  1. How easy are the rules to pick up? I want to be able to play games properly on the first or second try, I'm not one to spend years mastering a complex system or wading through walls of text (Ganesha games rulebooks have a habit of literally putting me to sleep, yet many people like them - go figure).
  2. How easy are the rules to explain? This is important as with all my flights of fancy, I need to convince somebody else to play. No fun is to be had if your opponent is lost in a fog of confusion (BMG, I'm looking at you here).
  3. Do the rules provide an enjoyable game? This seems obvious, but 'enjoyable' is a subjective term, there are plenty of rules sets that many people love, but I just can't get on with...ahem...Frostgrave!
  4. Is there a set of rules that I already know that will fit this project just as well? Despite the plethora of rules on the market, many of them are somewhat samey in the game that they deliver (the transition from WFB to Kings of War was curiously simple...).
  5. Should I just do what I always do and use 7TV?
It's that last one that is usually the clincher for me for all of my mini projects as the 7TV rules are straightforward, fun and familiar. What's more, my gaming group are already familiar with the game, so convincing them to have a go of my latest flavour of the month project is much easier. Additionally, and I think crucially, 7TV assumes that you are going to customise the rules to your own purposes, and actually encourages you to do this.

So, ultimately, I'm using 7TV for games with my Masters of the Universe models.

I've spent the last couple of days putting together some profile cards for the models I've painted so far using the excellent 7TV Casting Agency card creator site. For each of the characters I chose an existing profile which seemed to fit their role (He-Man is an Action Hero, Skeletor is a Sinister Mystic, Evil Lyn is a Double Agent, etc.) and then used the customisation rules in the Producer's Guide to tweak them to be more suitable. Once you get going, it's a fun process as you try to put together combinations of abilities that will at least give a sense of the characters you know.

In terms of the games themselves, I'm going to be using the 7TV rules as written with the only slight change being that I will be using the Future Freedom Fighters Gadget deck rather than the regular one. Mechanically this will change very little, but a Psy-Enhancer seems more appropriate to the genre than a Bulletproof Umbrella. The sci-fi gadgets aren't a perfect fit, but they are less jarring.

With models painted, rules selected and cards created, it looks like there needs to be a game soon. With luck this will happen and I'll have a battle report up over the weekend.

All that leaves is for me to show you the cards I've made. Please feel free to print out and use them for yourself if you wish, although you can probably find better quality images of them on the 7TV Action Facebook Group. I will be creating cards for other characters as I collect and paint them, and I'll endeavour to post them at the same time as I post actual photos of the models.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

He-Month: Oh, oh, oh, he’s magic!

Ha! You thought I was out of models, didn’t you?

Nope, lending his magical ‘expertise’ to the forces of goodness and order is Orko the Great!

The model is from Heresy Miniatures and is a ‘Halfling Wizard’ called...wait for it...Norko!

Painting wise, this is was a very simple job. Unlike Pulpcitizen, and because I’m lazy as well as cheap, decided to keep the hair at the back and paint it as his scarf. I’ve also made a nod to the 2002 version by putting the black circle on the medallion and giving him a ‘gold’ scarf around his waist rather than gold trim on the robe.

Like Beast Man, the eyes were a pain. Unlike Beast Man, I’m still not happy with them, but I’ve messed them up so much, this will do.

Basing is pretty standard, but I’ve tried to position him so that it looks like he’s floating without having a pole up his bum. I’m happy with that bit.

As for the rest of He-Month, I’m still not totally out of models, but things are about to get obscure. 

You’ve been warned...

Monday 19 February 2018

He-Month: The Main Minion

I know during He-Month, I’m supposed to be posting something each weekend, but I was away until lunchtime yesterday, and despite finishing this week’s model yesterday, the light had gone and I wasn’t able to get a decent picture.

So, with excuses for being late out of the way, here’s the quintessential henchman, Beast Man!

This is the last of the Quest Minis (for now) and it’s the only one to come as a single piece sculpt.

I was initially thinking of painting Beast Man in the more subdued colours of the 2002 cartoon version, but a flurry of activity on the MotU Gaming Facebook group gave me the confidence that I could make the hideous combination of bright orange, royal blue and scarlet work, and actually, I think I have.

The eyes were a bit fortunate as the character needs blue below the eyes, and I messed them up the first time round. I decided on the second go to not bother with pupils, as that’s the bits I messed up, however, by complet chance, the pupils I’d messed up, appear just below the whites I’d put in...essentially producing eyes better than I could have done on purpose.

For the base, I decided to do something a little different and place Beast Man in something akin to jungle terrain. A bit of twig (painted to look like...erm...wood), some GW ivy (which I only found again recently after buying it years ago) and a good amount of lichen jammed in, does the trick.

The only slight doubt is the new lichen I bought in York is a little bit vivid. It’s not a problem here mixed in with the remnants of my old stuff, but I might need to be careful when I return to doing jungle terrain, to try to keep things similar to what I’ve already done.

Monday 12 February 2018

He-Month: Surprise Reinforcements

So it turns out I’m not at work today, due to a sudden blanket of snow last night, and that can only mean one thing...

...more He-Month painting!

This time it’s Duncan, a.k.a. Man-at-Arms, the Master of Weapons. I think this might be my favourite sculpt from amongst the Quest Miniatures as it suggests the wrist lasers he used all the time, and has a really characterful face.

One of the reasons I didn’t do him earlier is because I’ve been pondering about his orange armour, considering whether to go with a brass  metallic colour (which I’ve used on his mace). In the end I decided that orange is how I remember him and the Ratskin Flesh paint I use for brickwork isn’t too vibrant and gaudy.

I also tried to give be him the blue helmet the toy had, but combined with orange, green and red it was all a bit too much and so I settled on silver, which combined with a couple of silver details on his armour lends him a bit more of a mechanical look.

Having painted Man-at-Arms, I can’t shake the feeling that he looks like a Bloodbowl player, and so don’t be too surprised if you see a team appear in these colours.

I am on the lookout for suitable models to use as the Eternian Royal Guard, and so this paint scheme may get rolled out quite a bit if I can find some.

I’m now staring down the barrel of running out of miniatures. I either need to leave Beast Man alone for a few days, or get planning and scheming...

...ah well, planning and scheming it is!

Sunday 11 February 2018

He-Month: “I’ve had the time of my life...”

...and I feel EPIC!

Yes, I know I only posted yesterday, and I know that I had a delivery of only six models for a project that is supposed to last all month, but...

...I might have got a little carried away.

I’ve now painted four of the six Quest Miniatures and I’m loving it. A combination of really well sculpted models, bright and bold colours, and a healthy dose of nostalgia is making for one of the most enjoyable painting projects I’ve done for a good while.

Teela was the first model I did after He-Man and mixed two colours I often have issues with, white and gold.

However, the sculpting if her armour makes the gold work, and the fact she’s based on a 2D character helps with the white.

As ever, photos highlight things I might need to address, and the left shoulder might need a little work.

If you’re have any sort of grip about the model, it’s the fact that the reverse side of the shield is featureless, but again, I might go back and add some straps to it.

Enter the big bad himself, Skeletor.

The original character has a really, really simple colour scheme which I decided to liven  up with some detail taken from the 2002 cartoon version, such as the colours on his chest logo, and the black staff with an actual skull on it. I think that they liven up the character and break up the wall of blue and purple.

On the subject of the blue, I know it’s a bit dark. I’m toying with going back to it, but actually it’s growing in me. This project isn’t an attempt to totally copy the cartoon or the toy line anyway, and there will be more significant differences than this (Merman, for example), so I’m tempted just to say that this is ‘my’ Skeletor.

Evil Lyn has proved the trickiest model to paint so far, and this is mainly due to the detailing on her outfit.

Following on from Skeletor, I’ve also been more willing to vary some more of the colours to add greater variety to the overall look.

The additions have includes white fur at the top of her boots, silver arm bracelets and a pink orb on her sceptre, all aimed at making her more visually interesting.

I’ve given her a dark grey cloak, rather than black, but this was more about the deep hatred I developed for highlighting black cloaks during all my Batman painting.

Overall, I’m having a great time painting these models although there is a slight issue on the horizon. My rapid production rates will potentially leave me without models to paint later in the month.

I do have Beast Man and Man-At-Arms still to do, Orko and Trapjaw will potentially be delivered in time, and I have more scenery to work on, but I’m already turning my mind to certain other characters that I can add to my collection.

Watch this space.

Saturday 10 February 2018

He-Month: “I have the power!”

Yep, the postman cometh.
On Thursday I took delivery of the excellent Masters of the Universe miniatures from Quest Miniatures and immediately set about meeting my target for the week with the man himself, He-Man.

This excellently dynamic sculpt painted up ridiculously quickly, largely thanks to being based on a cheaply made cartoon from the 1980s.

The only real issue I encountered was the fact that the sword hand was missing from my order (the only issue in what are a stunning range of models), and so, being both impatient and a resourceful sort, I raided my bits box to solve the issue.

A Bretonnian Man-at-Arms (very appropriate, I thought) drummer donated the hand and axe haft that allowed me to arm He-Man with his battle axe (which comes with the model), and a sword hilt added to the scabbard meant that the sword of power was present and correct too.

All in all, I’m delighted with how this has turned out and really looking forward to getting the other models from the set done: Teela, Man-At-Arms, Skeletor, Evil Lyn and Beastman.

As a piece of advice to those thinking of ordering from the UK, the import charges I got hit with added £20 to the price. It might be worth exploring the cost of ordering in three sets of two miniatures, as paying triple for the shipping might work out less expensive than paying the customs charges.

However, it should be noted that even with the extra cost, these models are well worth it, and still work out cheaper that the individual characters from the Batman Miniatures Game.

Saturday 3 February 2018

He-Month: It’s All A Bit Fishy...

Yes. He-Month.

Leon, from Eclectic Gentleman Gamer, and I have decided to do another new project. This time it’s focussed on one of my favourite cartoons of the 80’s, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and to motivate us were publicly declaring that February is ‘He-Month.’ Each week we will be striving to complete something He-Man related, be that miniatures, rules or terrain, and perhaps even games by the end of the month.

Now it should be pointed out that the frankly excellent project name has been ‘borrowed’ from the Carrion Crow and Rantings Under the Wargames Table blogs, however, they’re cool with us using it and we’d missed ‘He-January’ and didn’t want to wait for ‘Marchsters of the Universe,’ or even ‘Masters of the Juniverse!’

And so back this week’s fishy goings on. Why ‘fishy’? Well, three reasons...

Fishy Goings On 1: Merman

My first miniature for this project is my attempt at Skeletor’s aquatic henchman, Merman.

Masters of the Universe inspired miniatures are not exactly thick on the ground and so my proxy-radar has been in overdrive recently to enable me to locate suitable models. Merman seemed an easy place to start as he’s essentially in the same ball park as Lovecraftian Deep Ones.

The other advantage is that the design of the character in different mediums has varied considerably, with particularly his head showing significant difference between the Mattel toy (which was one of the first I owned, along with Skeletor), the 80’s cartoon series, and the 2002 cartoon series. This means that there’s more wiggle room for what can be an appropriate stand in.

Ultimately I plumped for a Deep One Reef Breaker from Achtung Cthulhu by Mophidius Games. He has the fins on the side of his face like the 80’s cartoon, but teeth gathered at the front of his mouth, which is fairly similar to the toy. I replaced the pipe he was wielding with a serrated (and harpoon-like) sword, as the toy came with one. I was going to create a trident instead, but the pipe was to bulky to make the bit in his hand be part of the haft.

When it came to painting, I wanted to evoke the character I remembered even more, and to I tried to keep somewhat close to the colours used in the toy. A rich green skin tone, the same orange for the loincloth and around the eyes and the sword in gold as yellow was a step too far. I was conscious that the model didn’t have armour, however I have painted the dorsal fins yellow to further link to the colours of the original.

Overall, I’m really happy with how he’s turned out, and I also put more effort into the base than. I usually do, trying to capture the idea of either the sea bed or the shore line. The modern girder is also appropriate as Masters of the Universe mixes Hyborian high fantasy and pulp sci-fi with wanton abandon, and so nothing’s really off the table in terms of ‘historical accuracy’ - if you can use such a term in this context.

Fishy Goings On 2: Jungle Terrain

These two terrain pieces are the beginning of my attempt to create a useable amount of terrain for pulp adventures and lost worlds. However, they’ll do sterling service as Eternia too. I intend to use them as impassable blocking terrain and so I wanted them fairly densely packed. 

I received excellent guidance on how to create them from Michael of  28mm Victorian Warfare, who also linked to some YouTube tutorials. The bases are actually resin pieces I picked up from Wargames Emporium with the rock formations and ground texture already moulded, and they saved me a lot of work. After painting I added bits and pieces I have lying around - GW ivy, lichen, static grass and some plastic fish tank foliage (hence the fishy connection). 

They’ve also served as a proof of concept for me to attempt some larger pieces once I pick up a few more raw materials.

Fishy Goings On 3: A Project Without Miniatures

Currently, Merman is the only model I own for this project and I’ve run out of much of the bits I used for my terrain and so meeting next week’s target could be tricky. I am off to Vapnartak tomorrow and I’ve also got a few orders inbound, and so I should be okay.

However, my emergency fallback is to raid my bits box and try to make Trapjaw, even though a suitable model for him is one of the orders I’m waiting for, but, a target is a target.

By next week, if I’m writing a post about rules, you’ll know my plans have gone as badly as Skeletor’s.