Sunday 24 February 2019

He-Month: The Epilogue

We come to the end of another successful He-Month, which has not only added another 16 miniatures (almost doubling my collection), but has introduced the Evil Horde, encouraged me to try my hand at sculpting and has completely removed my MotU painting backlog.

I now need to go and buy some stuff for the next one. Therefore, it’s time for a round up and plans for the future with each of the factions.

The Heroic Warriors are in good shape and to my mind the only really notable absence is Battle Cat, although that will be remedied fairly soon.

I also want to add Mekanek and Buzz Off as the last of the core characters in the 2002 cartoon, some Palace Guard as cannon fodder, and a vehicle or two, such as a Wind Raider or Sky Sled. I’ve also got my eye on a suitable Moss Man. At that point I’d be happy to stop adding characters.

The Evil Forces of Skeletor are also well represented, and back up with monsters and robots.

As with the heroes I have a few characters I want to add, such as Webstor (a particular favourite) and Whiplash. As I’ve decided not to do the Snakemen, I would like to add Kobra Khan to the Evil Warriors. Additionally I want some vehicles, such as the Roton or even the Collector, but that would be big.

Beastman opens up opportunities to for large gribblies in this faction and I have a Griffon in my lead pile that would be more that suitable - I might even get another Beastman to ride it, and assuming I make another order from Quest, I’m likely to replace my Merman proxy.

The Great Rebellion are not that great at the moment (a bit like the embarrassing shambles they are in the first episode of She-Ra) and they really need She-Ra to come along and take over. I’ve already spotted how I’m going to create She-Ra, so she’ll be along in in the next wave.

The Rebellion characters seem to hold least interest for the custom sculptors out there, so finding other characters is a bit of a challenge, but the release of the Netflix series at least gives me variant outfits to consider that might open up more options.

However, beyond She-Ra my additions to this faction will depend entirely on what I can find.

Although not much of a ‘horde’ yet, the Evil Horde are in good shape to expand. I’ve already bought an Imp to fight by Hordak’s side, and some Horde Troopers are being designed that I’ll probably buy a bunch of. What’s more, I have a few harpies that can repurposed into Hunga’s Clan to add an an aerial element to the conquest of Etheria.

In an ideal world I’d add Shadow Weaver (you’d think shadowy robed women would be plentiful in fantasy miniature ranges, but they’re not), Entrapta (in her Netflix guise), Leech, Mantenna and even a Horde Tank.

Like with Kobra Khan in the Evil Warriors, I want to put Tung Lashor in the Horde as I had the toy, and despite not being fussed about the character, Ninjor seems too easy an opportunity to pass up as miniature ninjas are ten a penny.

So that’s it for another He-Month. Until next time...

Saturday 23 February 2019

Here Be Monsters

I know I’ve been churning out Masters of the Universe stuff for the past few weeks, but in gaming terms, we’ve decided to return to our Descent campaign. This meant me finishing off a couple of monsters as we’re nearing the end of the initial campaign and there are a couple of creatures I’ve not used yet due to lack of paint: the Merriod and the Shadow Dragon.

The Merriod (I’m disappointed they didn’t go with the name: Sharktopus) is a walking shark with tentacles coming out of its head with lamprey type mouths at the end - clear evidence of a design meeting compromise.

I’m really pleased with how this has turned out, especially the lighter colour on the underbelly. I also like the details like the second row of teeth in the mouth.

The Shadow Dragon, I’m less happy with. I’m not sure my combination of inks and drybrush is really cute the mustard on such large expanses if skin.

However, I’m more disappointed with the spines, which probably needed a lot of time spent on stripping mould lines, so all I. All he’s a bit of a mess if you look closely.

Still he’s done, and if I really want another crack at it there’s another version of the same model to do as I’ve only painted enough of each creature for a three player campaign.

Not only does this quick and dirty post add another two to the painted pile, but I’ve also sold a Rumbleslam model that was too big for m purposes and I’m giving Matt a billboard for a 7TV project (however, he’s giving me something in return). I’ve also avoided more free models from Wargames Illustrated as I’m passing a couple of Lancers on to Pete in he hope of encouraging him to do some Napoleonic French.

To cut a long story short, the gap has closed a tiny bit.

Acquired: 62
Painted: 21

Friday 22 February 2019

He-Month: Green Fingers

He-Month continues to grow and bloom and I’m reaping the harvest of seeds sown some time ago. This time my green fingers have blossomed into more reinforcements for the Evil Horde: Scorpio, a Slime Monster and Catra in her Dylinx (purple panther) form; along with some more Eternian terrain.

The terrain is the continuation of an idea I had this time last year and is simply some plastic fish tank plants based to look like a bit of jungle - hence its inclusion in the ‘green fingered’ theme.

The addition of the blue fronds makes it suitable for use as an alien planet, or even a lost world environment for my pulp adventures. The vibrant colours certainly evoke the landscape of Eternia or the Whispering Wood on Etheria.

In order to get it to match the similar terrain pieces I did last year, I needed to redo the static grass I used at the time as I bought the wrong shade when I restocked recently.

However, the addition of a particularly livid green grass only serves to make the terrain even more garishly appropriate.

Force Captain Catra is able to take on the form of a dylinx (a large purple panther) when she puts on her magical mask, and so I needed a model to represent her in this form.

This panther is from Mantic Games’ new Vanguard range and comes in a bundle with other models. However, I was fortunate enough to pick up a single panther for a few quid from eBay.

I was torn as to whether to use this as Skeletor’s pet Panthor, however it’s perhaps a little small to serve as a mount, and I’m hopeful that somebody might get round to sculpting Skeletor on Panthor at a later date.

Why ‘green fingers’? Well, because the original model has wings on its helmet that needed cutting off and smoothing down, a job I finished off by rubbing in some greenstuff.

On the subject of greenstuff, I’ve ventured into the realm of sculpting for the first time with Scorpia, which is based on another of the Hydra Miniatures range of Valkeeri that I have used for both Catra and Glimmer so far.

I began by cutting off the hands and replacing them with GW Daemonette claws (I did consider using a Daemonette for Scorpia too). I then pinned a wire into the base of her spine (or up her bum) and curving it over the model into a position like a striking sting.

I then wrapped greenstuff around the wire and used a blade to cut the segments. The ball of the sting was added last with a bit of a zombie’s pitchfork embedded as the tip of the sting.

It was a bit rough and ready, with more than a few fingerprints and folds, so, once it had dried I set about trying to smooth out the worst bits with a modicum of success.

When it came to actually painting the model I cheated a bit and used the Blood For The Bois God technical paint over red that had been washed brown. The sheen of this paint has hidden a multitude of sins and ultimately I’m really happy with how she’s turned out.

However. I don’t think I be starting a career in sculpting any time soon.

The final model in my green fingered theme is a Slime Monster which has fingers that are green.

This model is actually Tox, a superhero model from Kitbash Games upcoming range of miniatures which was kindly given to me by Leon, Pulp Citizen. This is a great model to paint and a high quality sculpt, and I’m really looking forward to this range hitting Kickstarter.

It occurred to me that Tox would make a suitable victim for Hordak’s mind-controlling slime pit. Although it was typically He-Man Who this was used on, it seems likely that Hordak would also seek to take control of other powerful creatures and unleash them on his enemies.

Again the tally has moved in the right direction, although I’m still suffering from the AVP ambush:

Acquired: 63
Painted: 19

Wednesday 20 February 2019

He-Month: “We’ll get you He-Man!”

Another batch of Masters of the Universe figures done, but this time is the Evil Warriors who get some backup in the shape of Clawful, Tri-Klops and Screeech.

However, I’ve decided to do something different with this post as I’ve had a couple of comments about folk being interested in getting some He-Man miniatures. So I thought I’d use these three as a guide to the different sources of miniatures for Masters of the Universe. Hopefully, some of you might find this helpful.

Source 1: Quest Miniatures

Tri-Klops is from Quest Miniatures and as such is based firmly on the Filmation cartoon. I initially thought the pose was a bit odd, but I have to admit that once painted and based at an angle, it works well. What I’m most pleased with about him is that I initially messed up his skin by being sloppy with other colours, but my attempt to remedy my mistakes actually ended up with me improving the flesh beyond what it was before.

Quest Miniatures are the most obvious way to get into this peculiarly niche area of gaming as they are the only company currently producing a range of MotU specific miniatures. Quest currently have 14 different miniatures available, including almost all the major characters you remember. As the sculpts are based firmly on the Filmation cartoon, this makes them easy to paint, and the poses are dynamic. It’s worth noting that the most recent additions to the range (Clawful and Moss-Man) were not done by the same sculptor and so there’s a bit of a difference there.

They are towards the smaller end of 28mm which puts them in the same scale as most traditional miniature companies but they look small next to bulky GW stuff.

In terms of price, they are reasonable. Even when I got hit by customs charges on my first order, the final cost was still much less per figure than I had been paying for BMG minis.

Quest Miniatures
Pros: consistent range, generally excellent sculpts, reasonable price, convenient
Cons: change in sculptor, possible customs charges in UK, no She-Ra characters

Source 2: Custom Sculpts

Clawful is a fantastic model that blends the design of the original toy with some of the features of the 2002 version, whilst still keeping the traditional size of the character. It hasn’t to be said that the spikes and depth of the recesses ade this a bit of a pain to base-coat, but the model is so good, washes did a lot of work for me. As he’s based on the toy, I went for my take on the toy’s colour scheme.

Since Quest launched their range, a little cottage industry has grown up of sculptors producing miniatures which may or may not be designed with MotU gaming in mind.

Some of these miniatures have been done to fit with other games (my Trap-Jaw comes from a sculptor trying to bring variations of MotU characters into Necromunda), some are reinterpretations of characters (like Clawful), and some are direct representations of Filmation or 2002 characters (e.g. Hordak).

As such, the variety of purposes and sculptors means that there is a significant variation of scale and style available from different sources, for example Ram-Man and Fisto are much larger than other models I own, so this is something you should check that you’re happy with before buying.

On top of this, the cost can be quite high. This is due to covering costs with only a limited production run. However, the custom sculpts I’ve bought have been almost universally excellent, and I feel well worth what I’ve paid for them.

As time has gone on, the miniatures that have started to appear have become increasingly eclectic as people look for characters that there is a market for. I imagine this will continue.

Custom Sculptors
Pros: high quality sculpts, eclectic range, interesting takes on characters, some She-Ra characters
Cons: price, scale and style variations, you need to track them down

Source 3: Searching Existing Ranges

Screeech is the same model as Zoar, with the same flaws, but it works. I’ve deviated from the colour scheme of the toy to give him a metallic beak and claws as a nod to the fact that in the Filmation cartoons, Screeech was actually mechanical.

I have to say that I really enjoy scouring miniature ranges to find models that, with minimal conversion work, could work as MotU characters. This does mean that you neve quite get an exact representation of a character, but instead aim at ‘close enough’. However, it also means that you can end up with some really obscure characters and creatures...Wolf-Bats for example.

So far, my most productive source of suitable models has been Hydra Miniatures, but I’ve also had success with Reaper, Killer B, and Crooked Dice, and there are plenty of others I’ve got plans for. You’ll also be surprised what you can root out of your bits box.

It is time consuming, and you do need to research characters before looking. Also, be aware that once you’ve created a proxy, if someone produces that character, you may end up with the desire to replace it down the line - something I’m currently experiencing with Merman.

Existing Ranges
Pros: obscure characters, affordable, thrill of the hunt
Cons: not quite right, duplication, some conversion required, time consuming, variable quality

So there you have it. There are other options available that I don’t have experience of like Heroforge, but I find that prohibitively expensive for fairly clunky models. Also, some kind folk have started creating vehicles for 3D printing, but that’s not something I’ve explored yet.

Hopefully, my ramblings may be of use to somebody. If not, so be it. I’m enjoying waffling. Another three onto the painted tally is also having a positive effect.

Acquired: 62
Painted: 19

There’s just one more batch of MotU miniatures to do this month before I need to start hunting again, and these will focus on making the Evil Horde a bit more like a horde - although still stretching the term.

Monday 18 February 2019

He-Month: [Title Redacted]

Given my appreciation of a good (or not so good) pun, there really wasn’t a blog post title that I could use for this model that wouldn’t bring in the wrong sort of traffic.

Why? Because Fisto...

I really don’t know what Mattel were thinking when they named Fisto. Perhaps the 80’s was just a more innocent time. Perhaps they were cynically laughing their heads off in the planning meeting. 

Whatever the truth of the matter, this extract from one of the mini-comics (that came with the toys they sold to children!) suggests they were either really naive or really, REALLY cynical.

Anyway, my Fisto (stop sniggering at the back) is based on the 2002 cartoon version and is sculpted by the same chap who made my Ram-Man (I said stop sniggering!), and as such he’s a fairly large chap (this is your last warning!).

In 7TV this means that he’s on a large base and gets an extra wound, but a easier to hit in combat. I’m not sure how I’m going make his ‘fisting’ work (no, lubricant will not help!) as an attack, but I think there are attacks that allow you to choose whether to do damage, stun or push the opposing model, so that might be something I’ll try.

In the 2002 cartoon series, Fisto is Man-At-Arms’ brother and, it was hinted before the show was cancelled, Teela’s real father after a wartime liaison with the Sorceress.

The addition of Fisto makes this the first post in a while where my tally is starting to make movement in the right direction. On top of Fisto, my idea to use an eagle for Zoar has struck a chord with Leon (Pulp Citizen) and I’m sending him my spare eagle, which takes one off the acquired pile:

Acquired: 62
Painted: 16

There’s still a long way to go though.

Saturday 16 February 2019

He-Month: Birds of a Feather

After the Great Rebellion and the Evil Horde, it’s time to reinforce the Defenders of Grayskull with the addition of an an Air Force. This comes in the shape of Stratos, chieftain of the bird people of Avion, the Sorceress, guardian of the secrets of Castle Grayskull, and Zoar, the alternate form of the Sorceress.

Stratos is from Quest Miniatures’ second wave of Masters of the Universe miniatures and is a faithful rendition of how the character appears in the Filmation cartoons. As such, he’s not the most exciting model to paint, but he was simple enough.

In retrospect, I probably should have based him differently, as he blends in to the rock base a bit too much. However, standing on rocks seems appropriate for the leader of a mountain people.

The Sorceress is also from Quest Miniatures and is in her classic pose from the title sequence. I really like this model. But I’m a bit irritated by the eyes, which may get redone.

I’m not sure how I’m going to represent her in game terms, but I’m pretty sure she will have the Psychic trait - but it not clear what else I’ll add from there.

The last model, Zoar, is the alternate form the Sorceress takes when she leaves Grayskull. Much reduced in power, Zoar will be an extra which will serve as an advance scout for the forces of good.

The model is one of three 15mm giant eagles from Hordes of Things, that I realised I wasn’t using in my Wood Elf army since I repatriated my two 28mm Gianf Eagles back to Lord of the Rings.

As such, I’m going to have a go at Screeech, Zoar’s evil counterpart, using the same model, which is fitting as that’s exactly what Mattel did.

The model isn’t amazing, and the beak is the wrong shape (it makes Zoar look a bit mike a parrot. However, I didn’t have to but it saves me buying anything.

On the subject of buying things, I have actually bought a couple more things for Masters of the Universe. Also, I’ve finally received some custom models that I ordered over a year ago and sodespite this week’s progress, the ally continues to get worse:

Acquired: 63
Painted: 15

However, it’s half-term this week, so I have a bit of a chance to make a dent in my lead mountain.

Sunday 10 February 2019

He-Month: The Evil Horde

Okay, the term ‘horde’ might be a slight exaggeration, given that there are only three of them, but the Evil Horde are the, accurately labelled, bad guys in the She-Ra stories, and they are what the Great Rebellion are rebelling against.

My first additions to the Evil Horde are a good chunk of its leadership. Force Captain Catra, the savage beast Grizzlor and none other than Hordak himself.

Hordak is one of the many custom sculpts that have popped into existence since the Quest range appeared last year, and it scales with that range well...some would say perfectly.

It’s a really characterful mini and I’m really happy with how he’s turned out, especially the face (although the picture above doesn’t really show this off). I also like that he has the transformed arm blaster, and I look forward to using 7TV gadgets to reflect Hordak’s convenient ability to turn parts (or all) of his body into whatever plot device was necessary.

Catra carries a personal grudge against her former comrade Adora (spoiler: it’s She-Ra!) and has the ability to transform into a large purple panther by pulling her enchanted mask down over her eyes. I’m not sure how I’m going to represent this ability in game yet, and it might require another model to be painted.

This model is Empress Xenovia from Hydra Miniatures Retro Raygun range (the same range that Glimmer came from). This is clearly a more adult interpretation of Catra as despite appearing to wear a longer skirt, it’s actually somewhat more revealing and she’s clearly wearing no Evil is that?

The headdress and costume are similar enough to Catra’s to work with the right paint job, but I’m currently not sure about her weapon. I’m either going to conver the rod to look more like a Horde stun baton (which she often wielded in the cartoon) or replace it with either a sword or a whip which were Catra’s weapons of choice in print and in toy form. I’ll leave it as is until I decide.

As a side note, the rendition of Catra in Netflix new She-Ra series (which is actually rather good) is very different but really interesting, and the dynamic between her and Adora is really well developed. I would probably break my personal embargo on buying duplicate versions of characters if a modern Catra appeared.

Grizzlor was a minor character in the cartoons who barely ever spoke and was never really fleshed out. He was also the same size as the other characters and frankly looked a bit daft (but not as daft as the toy, which was fluffy!).

This chunky custom sculpt is a real improvement on the character and adds a really imposing model to the Horde. In game he will be a large (and so tough) extra, who will also serve as a unit leader for the Horde Troopers, when I get some.

So that’s another week of He-Month done and it’s time to leave Etheria (as I’m currently out of models) and head back to Eternia. I think we’ll fly there...

That might be a clue as to what’s next.

Although still unhealthy, I’ve at least begun the process of rectifying my painting scores:

Painted: 12
Acquired: 56

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Game Over Man!! Game Over!

Readers who have been paying attention will remember that at the start of the year (which was only a month ago), I made some gaming resolutions, two of which were:

  • No New Games
  • Paint More Than I Acquire
Despite an initial shortfall due to purchases at Vapnartak and freebies from Wargames Illustrated, these both still seemed achievable.

However, today a parcel arrived.

A large and heavy parcel.

This was due to my drunkenly entering a Facebook competition around New Year to put a funny caption to the cover image of Prodos Games new expansion to their AVP: The Hunt Begins game, AVP: Hot Landing Zone.

I added a couple of innane comments to the massive list of entrants and thought nothing more of it. 

Well, it turns out I’m a comedy genius and I won (no, I don’t think it’s that hilarious either, but clearly Prodos Games did) and lo and behold I am now the proud owner of AVP: The Hunt Begins, AVP: Hot Landing Zone and the clear plastic predator models.

So much for ‘no new games’.

However, it would be churlish to look a gift horse in the mouth and so a merrily cracked open my new acquisitions to see what I’d got my hands on.

As with many games like this, I now have a whole bunch of interlocking board sections, which could be useful for all kinds of scenario and settings.

Admittedly the alien goop and Weyland Yutani iconography on many of the board sections are a bit of a bind, but they are good quality.

The box itself has a neat storage feature of a foam tray for the miniatures (yes, I’m well aware that there are 23 of them), and each hole has an image of the model on the base section which will clearly help with tidying up.

The miniatures themselves are fantastic. They are single piece models in a substance Prodos call Unicast, and the detail is amazing with very little flash.

Take a look at these.

You’ll have noticed by now that, unlike many similar games, there are three  ‘sides’ in the game: the Predators, the Xenomorphs and the Colonial Marines. This could be problematic in a gaming group of between 4-6, but it does make a change from the one vs many games like Imperial Assault and Descent, and so I’m sure I’ll be able to convince someone to give it a try.

AVP: Hot Landing Zone takes the action out of the spaceship and into the jungle, and so I’ve also got a load of jungle boards. I’m not sure the multipurpose potential of these is that high, as I’d prefer 3D terrain for exteriors, but they’re still good quality.

This box also has the handy storage tray for the extra 12 miniatures (that’s 35 so far, if you’re keeping count), which are of a similar high quality, although not making this set coloured like the base set seem a bit of a misstep for people who want to play more than paint.

AVP: Hot Landing Zone adds a Predator Tracker (that’s a Predator that tracks), 5 Xenomorph Spitters (Xenomorphs that spit), a Synthetic (think Ash or Bishop), and 5 Prisoners (similars to the slew of British actors that get slaughtered in Alien 3).

It seems a bit unfair that the other sides get bigger and stronger versions of what they have already, whereas the Marines get reinforcements in the shape of blokes with bits of pipe.

One thing that is a bit of a disappointment is that the scale is clearly different between the two sets and even the bases are different sizes. It’s only really an issue with the humans, but again, seems like an odd decision. I might be tempted to replace the Marines with the first edition models (which are apparently bigger) if it bothers me too much. 

Another slightly odd feature was that one of the decks of cards in the box was in Spanish, but it was packed with other English cards. What’s more, the cards are quite thin and will need some sleeves to prevent them getting dog-eared.

I’m not going to gripe too much about quality control in something I haven’t paid for, but it’s a shame that a game with some really excellent features (like the models) drops the ball like this.

The clear plastic Predators (meant to represent them in stealth model) are surprisingly multi-part sprues that don’t look fun to build as I’ve really gone off this sort of thing. I’ll get round to them when I can get some plastic glue with a brush, as I think I’ll need it.

The clear Predators take the total of new miniatures up to a whopping 38 making my ‘paint more that I acquire’ resolution look somewhat futile.

Painted: 9
Acquired: 56

I would like to point out that I’ve only actually bought 9 of those 56, so it’s not really my fault.

In terms of AVP, I hope to give it a try soon, but I’ll need to sort the Spanish cards out first. However, even if this game doesn’t take hold, I can certainly find use for these models in 7TV; just think of the possibilities...

I’m not sure whether I’ll pick up more for AVP (at least for a while) but if you are interested - even if just for the models, which are excellent - you can pick up almost the whole of Prodos’ range at Outpost Games with the usual 20% off, just follow the link.

Saturday 2 February 2019

He-Month: The Rebellion Takes Flight

In a bid to get myself motivated to paint, I’ve decided to make February another He-Month. Basically this means I aim to get at least one Masters of the Universe miniature painted for each week of February. I do have a bit of a He-Man backlog, and so it will be good to get some/all of them finished.

This week (well, today actually) I’ve managed to get three models painted to add to my burgeoning Great Rebellion from the She-Ra cartoons.

These are Flutterina, and two guards from Brightmoon, the heart of the Great Rebellion. Flutterina is a Reaper Bones miniature I picked up on holiday and the Brightmoon Guards are custom resin sculpts.

Flutterina is not a model I’m overly happy with. My wash heavy ‘style’ doesn’t go well on plastic miniatures with shallow details on, and Reaper Bones have some really shallow details.

To compound the issue, some fool in the 80’s designed he character with an orange dress, pink wings and purple hair. That was never going to work.

However, I’ve got her to a point where I’m happy enough with her as a really minor character. In game terms I’ll be using the stats for the Poltergeist from the Paranormal Exterminators programme guide as it flys, the ghost trait imitates her ability to shrink to the size of a butterfly and it’s telekinetic strike neatly reflects her using her wings to generate powerful blasts of wind.

The Brightmoon Guards are great sculpts, accurately reflecting their appearance in the cartoons, complete with tiny shorts (I bet Queen Angella enjoyed designing these uniforms). They have a very ‘space opera’ feel to them and wouldn’t look out of place in a Flash Gordon game.

I’m not exactly sure what their staff weapons are, but I’ll be using the Security Guard profiles and assuming the staff can be used as a cosh and generate blasts with a similar effect to an SMG.

And so that’s the Great Rebellion so far. Obviously, the most noticeable absentee is She-Ra - I’m still looking at a few options for the best way to represent her.

However, at the moment their limited numbers are not really a problem as there’s nobody for the Great Rebellion to rebel against. I’ll have to do something about that.

This weekend’s work has briefly taken my painting tally back to breaking even - Painted 9, Acquired 9 - however, the respite is only mometary as I’m off to Vapnartak tomorrow, which will include a visit to Crooked Dice, and there’s no way I’ll escape without miniatures. Looks like I’ll have to pick up the pace if my painting.