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Great rack

April 5, 2014

While cleaning up my painting desk, I got to thinking that one of these ‘paint racks’ that everyone seems to be talking about could be a good purchase. With pre-cut mdf popping up everywhere, I went looking. Happily I didn’t have to look very far before I ran into a great review of paint racks available from the Miniaturicum website. The review was enough to sell me on the rack, so I suggest you go and read it. In fact I was going to review it myself, but with a solid review (that I agree with 100%) existing already, I figured it wasn’t worth writing. Go check the review out, it’s well written and describes everything you need to know about the rack.

The rack arrived from Germany to Finland in less than a week and with clear and easy instruction assembly took me roughly under 10 minutes. It’s sturdy, neat and houses 72 paint bottles. I especially like the shelf design, as I use a variety of paint brands and I can fit all of them easily on the rack. With taxes and shipping it set me back a little under 33 EUR, so while not cheap, it’s good value for money.

So, as a result of blogospheric marketing and German engineering, I’m now a proud owner of a lovely Farbständer. I definitely suggest buying one of these, if you’re looking for a way to organise your paints or make room on your desk. There are different designs avaible too. You can check them all out in the Miniaturicum webshop.

Below is a picture of my painting table now. I love how neat and organised it is, and how much space I now have to clutter…

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

As a final note I must apologise for the terrible pun in the post title. It was inevitable.

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Housecleaning

March 29, 2014

I haven’t painted anything in what seems to be ages. These painting slumps aren’t anything new to me, but usually I’ve gotten past them fairly easily. This time it seems to be taking a lot of time, so I started thinking about what might be causing my reluctance – I have a solid, ongoing project and I’ve done plenty of work on it, so why no painting?

That’s when I took a look at my painting desk.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

See? Small wonder I didn’t feel like painting, as there was no room to paint in the first place. So I removed everything from the desk and cleaned them up. I was left with this:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

After first attacking this with a dust cloth and then wiping it with a wet cleaning rag, I started putting the stuff back. This was a good chance to give paints a bit of a shake and to organise them according to colour. The final result is shown below.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Pretty neat (literally), isn’t it? This also inspired me to buy a paint rack from Miniaturicum.de.

To recap, here’s a before and after shot:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

I think the whole operation actually worked, as painting feels like a much more appealing idea now, and I’m actually looking forward to getting some painting done. Great success! If you’re ever stuck in a painting slump, this just might be the key.

By the way, this led me to cleaning up the room I paint (and write these blogs) in. A nice working environment really does wonders.

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City planning

March 23, 2014

Work continues on my Pacific Rim board. I recently made the base for the game board by first taping the edges of a 60 x 120 cm Finnfoam sheet with blue masking tape, and then gluing wallpaper (see this post) to it. The operation went fairly smoothly – literally – as there were only a few small bubbles left in one part of the sheet. I actually used a rolling pin to smooth it! The key was in the mixture of PVA glue and water, as it needed to be runny enough to make sure no place was left unglued. There are two seams, and they turned out very neat and tidy as well.

Here’s a look at the board itself:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

And with added buildings:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

At this point it looks nice, but still a bit too sterile and clean, so I figured I’d throw in a bit of (WIP) scenics, a few creatures, a tiny tank and some fire and smoke:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The buildings are a mix of paper ones from Sarna that I’ve customized, and Monsterpocalypse buildings. They fit together quite nicely, but I still need loads more. I thought of making separate streets, but figured it might be too much of a hassle and create a potentially unnecessary slew of more loose elements. Then again, streets would probably make it look more like a cityscape and less like a grey field. Of course, this is still very much a work in progress thing, but the question of streets keeps bugging me. Do I need them, or will simply adding more variety to the cityscape work? What do you think?

 

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Giant monster inspiration

March 16, 2014

godzilla

When I’m doing a project, I tend to go crazy over inspirational media related to it. In that spirit, I present to you two film trailers linked to my current Pacific Rim project:

Enormous

From GeekTyrant:

The film picks up years after E Day, the worldwide attack of massive insect like beasts, as the remaining humans from all walks of life must band together to survive and fight back against the monstrous invaders. Viewers are introduced to Ellen (Ceren Lee), a mother who has lost her child, and watch as she prepares to play a major role in the human resistance. The cast also includes Steve Braun (Wrong Turn 2), and Erica Gimpel (Veronica Mars).

The hit graphic novella series Enormous, tells of how humanity is plunged down the food chain when an ecological event creates gargantuan beasts that decimate civilization. The series explores how humans react and cope with survival from multiple points of views and from multiple settings around the planet. In the tone of Cloverfield and The Walking Dead, Enormous focuses on strong characters and complicated relationships with the monsters as the background.

Sounds pretty groovy to me. It’s a web series, and premieres on March 20th.

Godzilla

Oh, you ‘ve probably never heard of Godzilla. Apparently it’s some kind of a monster movie.

From IMDb:

An ancient colossal creature is accidentally awakened by mankind, and seemingly leaves nothing but destruction in its wake, as its presence becomes known to the world.

Official site can be found here. The movie premieres in the US on May 16th.

Really looking forward to both of these!

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Street life

March 13, 2014

One of my all time greatest challenges when designing an urban board has been the creation of the city streets. Fixed or modular? Plastic, sandpaper, cardboard, felt? Should I paint in road markings? Maybe print out graphics and stick them to something? Seriously, plenty of projects have fallen on the wayside because I haven’t been able to figure out a good way to make all the streets before enthusiasm for the project has waned. As I don’t want my Pacific Rim project to go down that road, something had to be done.

I took a trip down to a hardware store. I had a plan to buy some vinyl flooring mat, if I could find a suitable texture or print. On my way to the flooring section, I happened to pass through the wallpaper section, and there were some pretty nice designs there, including one that had a suitable grey colour and some lovely texturing. I ended up buying a roll, which is approximately 10 times more than I’ll probably ever need in my wargaming life. The texture might be a bit large for 2-3mm scale, but then again pretty much anything apart from sandpaper is. This also allows me to use the wallpaper for building streets for 28mm as well. The wallpaper is surprisingly durable, and any small wear simply shows up as small white spots which don’t look out of place with the texture.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Now I had a roll of wallpaper looking an awful lot like blacktop, but nothing to attach it to. The smart guy that I am, I marched into the fiberboard section and bought some thin fiberboard. I then got home, cut the fiberboard into two smaller sections, taped the edges, glued some wallpaper on and had a perfect playing field! Or rather, would’ve had if I had remembered a little something called “warping”. As it was, I ended up with a wonky piece of fiberboard, which I simply binned rather than try and spend time to straighten it.

Next I turned to an old favourite of mine, blue insulation foam. I had used this to build a Blood Bowl pitch and most of an Aliens game board (which I really should finish one of these days), so it was a familiar material. I picked up a leftover piece, tried gluing some wallpaper to it with PVA glue and well…

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

…it turned out lovely, actually. What did we learn here? Find something that works (blue foam) and stick (wallpaper) to it. With this, I’ve bought a few sheets of Finnfoam which is our local brand of insulation foam. We’ll see what comes out of this! Comments welcome as always.

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Pre-painted buddies

February 23, 2014

Two more additions to my Pacific Rim project, which is pretty much complete when it comes to miniature acquisitions. Now all I need to do is start actual work on the project instead of just buying things. That’s not entirely true, actually, as I’ve got a fair few buildings put together already! More about those in a later post.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

First up is Sasha Hammer. It’s a Heroclix mini, and the character portrayed is apparently an enemy of Iron Man’s. Just so you know. The mini itself is actually very nice, and fits the Pacific Rim aesthetic. With a slightly forward leaning pose, bulky upper body and reverse-jointed legs, the model gives off an air of menace. Sizewise it’s comparable to the other mechs I have, see end of post.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Joining the kaiju side is Zorog. Part of the Monsterpocalypse line, Zorog is an impressively large model. Most of the Monsterpocalypse (or “Monpoc” as it’s often called) minis are too cartoony to use in serious giant monster gaming, but Zorog fits in nicely – even with his massive pincers. Tall and bulky, Zorog received a larger 50mm base as opposed to the 40mm ones on (under?) the rest of the cast.

Both of these miniatures are actually quite nice as far as pre-paints go, and the vinyl is quite rigid. Of course they will be repainted, but if you were feeling lazy, they could be used as is. Both were fairly easy to pop off their bases.

Here’s a comparison pics to illustrate their size compared to my earlier purchases:

L to R: Sasha Hammer, Reaper CAV Weasel, Zorog, Pacific Rim Heroclix Scunner

L to R: Sasha Hammer, Reaper CAV Weasel, Zorog, Pacific Rim Heroclix Scunner

Now to actually get painting!

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CAV mechs by Reaper – a review

February 6, 2014

As part of my Pacific Rim project (see previous posts) I ordered some mechs from Reaper Miniatures‘ CAV line. They were such nice models that I figured I’d review them for the benefit of other hobbyists as well.

By way of disclaimer I have to say that I know nothing about the CAV: Strike Operations game, so I’ll be reviewing these purely from a “giant robots to be used in Pacific Rim style gaming” point of view. I’ll happily take the liberty of interpreting the designs as I view them, so vents might become guns and so on!

All the miniatures are sculpted by Chris Lewis, and have integral metal bases. I’ve glued them to 40mm plastic bases. There were no major casting issues, only minor mould lines and very little flash on some models. All except one of the models are four part castings consisting of torso, legs and two arms. The parts fit together nicely on all the models.

You can find all the miniatures in Reaper’s online store. Prices are from approximately 7.50 EUR to 8.30 EUR.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Hawk has a strong Transformers vibe, mostly due to the chest reminiscent of Optimus Prime. Hawk stands at around 49mm from the bottom of his soles to the tips of the things on his back. I’m not entirely sure what they are, although their design and the mech’s name suggest some sort of jet engines. They might be weapons, too. Anyone more familiar with the game, feel free to comment! Hawk’s smallis stature made me put it on a washer to give him a slight height boost. Of all the models in this review, Hawk might be my least favourite one – it’s just a bit boring. Hawk is the exception to the “models come in four parts” rule, as his back..things add an extra two parts.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

If Hawk was Transformers, Spitfire is Gundam. With sharp edges, reverse jointed legs and sloping armour, this one is the most high tech looking of the selection, and the first word that springs to mind is “sleek”. Spitfire isn’t too tall, standing at approximately 47mm from the bottom of his soles to the top of its head. This is a lovely, lovely design, and one of my favourites. Spitfire’s bracers have hollows that I envision as weapon barrels or housings for retractable weapons.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Weasel reminds me of an old boxer with its arched back, long arms and broad shoulders. The somewhat retro pose and design further reinforce this thought. Weasel is surprisingly characterful for a giant robot! While Weasel only stands at around 43mm or so. However, the squat design with the head a part of the torso makes the model look bigger than it is. There are four barrels on Weasel’s chest, and the pose suggests that they’re about to fire something. A bit like this piece from Pacific Rim:

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

The first impression I got from Hemi was “lanky”. With a fairly short torso and long legs, it reminds me of an ent from the LotR movies. Of course this ent is metal and has a pod of six rockets on the right shoulder, which makes a slight difference. There are also four barrels/vents on its chest, a searchlight on the left shoulder and two fins on its back. There’s something very menacing and purposeful in the design. Hemi is roughly 46mm tall.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Dauntless might be my favourite of the lot. 50mm tall, clunky, bulky and swinging two massive fists, Dauntless is definitely the Cherno Alpha of  this group. In addition to the very heavily built legs, Dauntless has two cannons on its shoulders. While the mech is only a few millimetres taller than the rest, it’s roughly 15mm wider than Hemi for example. You can really see the difference in the comparison pictures below. The size combined with the gorilla-like stance makes Dauntless look believably brutal.

waraxe

Click for a larger version

Waraxe is the tallest of the models reviewed, at a whopping 56mm. As the name suggests, the mech carries a large axe. No, seriously. It’s a giant robot wielding a giant axe. How’s that for awesome! In addition to its namesake axe, the robot has a shoulder cannon as well as another gun in its left hand, reminiscent of a tonfa (aka nightstick). It has a slimmer build than Dauntless, and to my eye it looks a lot like a cylon from the new edition of Battlestar Galactica. The shoulder guards on Waraxe bug me a little bit, as they’re completely flat on the inside lending them an unfinished look.

Overall verdict: Well, these are some fine models. While writing the review I found it surprisingly difficult. Having never been into giant robots as a genre, I didn’t have many things to compare these to. I bought them for use in my Pacific Rim project, and for that they will be lovely as they’re a very characterful bunch. With good casting quality and nice sculpting, the main risk here would be boring designs for the robots, but that has been avoided here. Well ok, Hawk is a little boring, but he can be the exception to the rule. While I have a very specific use for the models, I can see them getting use in plenty of contexts and scales, so if you’re looking for some nice giant robots, you could do far worse than these.

The comparison pictures show the size of the mechs compared to each other. I also threw in some Pacific Rim Heroclix kaiju, as I figured there might be interest.

weasel_dauntless_hawk

L to R: Weasel, Dauntless, Hawk

waraxe_dauntless_hemi

L to R: Waraxe, Dauntless, Hemi

waraxe_spitfire_hemi

L to R: Waraxe, Spitfire, Hemi

L to R: Heroclix Knifehead, Spitfire, Heroclix Scunner

L to R: Heroclix Knifehead, Spitfire, Heroclix Scunner

 

 

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