Monday, May 26, 2008

Repainted Wizkids Mage Knight Tower

Several m0nths ago, a local comic book and gaming store was blowing out their remaining Mage Knight Castle sets. I picked up the Castle Tower for a paltry $4. Unfortunately, I hated the paint job. It just did not look like the type of tower any self-respecting Eastern European vampire would call home. The photo to the right is the original brown and tan scheme, which never looked as good in person as the pre-production photo Wizkids has on their website.

The upper floor has a large knob that turns a large hit-dial beneath the floor. Unfortunately, this means that the floor has an area cut out so you can read the Mage Knight stats. I puttied up this hole, trying to make it look like part of the surrounding stone floor.

I then spray-primed the entire building black. I drybrushed the walls several shades of gray, painted the metal ornaments using P3 Pig Iron, drybrushed them with Ceramcoat's Dark Brown Oxide, then highlighted with Ceramcoat's Red Oxide. I was going for a different look on the stone trim than I was planning, but discovered that Ceramcoat's Mudstone looks like dried bone. So the "stone" trim is supposed to be skeleton bone. I will also be using Mudstone on my skeleton army. The door is brown, trimmed with drybrushed P3 Burnished Bronze and Pig Iron. When done, I "spooked it up" as my son says with some drybrushed mud colors.

We'll be using the tower along with my Arnica shacks for some seriously spooky vampire hunting using my skirmish rules I have been working on the past several years. (Just had a hugely successful final playtest this past weekend!)

For the price, it is an excellent piece of scenery for anything from fantasy to horror to pulp gaming. Even though I wasn't sure what to do with it when I bought it, I'm glad that I did.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

15mm Iron Brigade

As promised, here are photos of my recently completed firing line unit of 15mm Iron Brigade figures from Battle Honors. These were the first 15mm I have ever painted. I really am pleased with the results, especially considering I have been painting figures for a short time. I just wished BH had more poses in the firing line. I wasn't sure which way to face the fellows loading, so I used my best guess based on how they could fit on the stand. While I like four-figure stands, I decided to base three figures on 1"x1" 3mm- thick masonite bases from GF9 to save a bit of money on figures, to protect the figures, and to make the stands easier to pick up. I tried for a more ragged looking line befitting the American Civil War.

I painted the frock coats using Ceramcoat Navy Blue, which looks perfect on my gaming table. I painted the trousers with Reaper's True Blue, the closest blue I had on hand. Since then, I have switched to Vallejo's Deep Sky Blue, which is less intense and still looks good on the table. The hat tassels are the same blue but drybrushed on.

I wanted to make my stands look like real bumpy ground, so after gluing the figures to the base I spread Elmer's wood putty about the bases like I do for 25mm figures. I ignored the spaces between the legs, and added a few large rocks here and there. When that dried the next day, I spread white glue over the bases and dipped them into a mixture of fine sand with a bit of larger grit tossed in. The sand is cheap stuff from Wal-Mart. After drying the bases with a blow dryer (my best friend in this project!), I painted the entire thing including sides with black gesso. I let this dry overnight.

The next day, I dabbed Games Workshop undiluted brown ink onto the sand, heavier in some places, lighter in others. Next, I drybrushed the sand with Americana's Sable Brown, followed by a lighter drybrush of Ceramcoat's Latte, and then a very light drybrush of Ceramcoat's Golden Brown. The Golden Brown may sound odd after having drybrushed the lighter Latte, but the Golden Brown oddly tied it all together. I drybrushed rocks with Ceramcoat's Rain Grey and then Ceramcoat's Quaker Grey.

With the entire base drybrushed, I dabbed on white glue in spots and dipped the stand into Scenic Express' Pasture Blend flocking. When dry, I brushed the base edges with Ceramcoat's Dark Brown. Finally, I glued a cut down twig onto one base and glued some more flock around it. When everything was dry, I gave the entire stand a shot of spray Dulcoat.

My process takes a bit longer, but I tend to look at every stand as a small diorama and the larger unit a larger diorama. I guess it's the model railroader in me. On the work table, I have the rest of the Iron Brigade (about 30 figures) primed with flesh painted, another 50 primed Union marching, and 50 primed CSA in kepis firing.

For rules, I am using my own regimental set. I used to use ACWarmaster, which I had a small hand in tweaking many years ago, but it just didn't work for me on a regimental level. I'll post more info on my rules as time goes by.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Recon 2008: 28mm Modern Iraq

One of the largest games being played on Saturday at Recon 2008 in Orlando was a 28mm game using buildings from Miniature Building Authority. I had seen this game being played the last time I was at Hurricon in 2006. According to the description in the convention catalog: "An Open-Conflict Scenario representing multiple factions with conflicting goals in modern Iraq. Players are broken into four teams (Sunni Insurgents, Shia Militia, U.S Forces with Iraqi Police and Private Security with MATO/Coalition Forces). All miniatures and other gaming materials provided." The rules being used were home-grown. As the photos show, there was plenty of action.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

All The King's Men: 54mm AWI

When I was a kid, I had a box full of large plastic toy soldiers. Not the small 1/72 "green army men" that we all had, but the really big toy soldiers in 1/32 scale. Several years ago, I bought my son a couple boxes of plastic 1/32 American Revolution figures from Accurate. Great figures with 20 in a box for $12 retail.

At Recon this past weekend in Orlando, I was pleased to meet Ken Cliffe, the owner of All The King's Men. Ken has his own line of "54mm" AWI figures, which scale out to 1/32. We had a nice chat about his figures and his rules, which he was demoing all day. (I tend to chat and paint miniatures more than play games at conventions.)

Ken's 54mm figures capture the look and feel of Accurate's 1/32 plastic soldiers, but weigh significantly more. Of course, all this metal comes at a price. On average, ATKM's figures cost $2.50 each. Not bad considering the price of 28mm figures from Perry. They are even cheaper in their army deals. Still, this is four times the cost of plastic figures. I'll let you be the judge. ATKM figures are well cast with little flash. Right now, you can purchase Continentals and Hessians, plus artillery. This allows you to fight the Battle of Trenton.

They also make 1/32 buildings and scenery out of resin foam. Being a structure junkie since my model railroading days, I really liked these and thought them a good deal.

ATKM also has their own set of toy soldier AWI rules, selling for only $7. They seem to give a nice game and are well-printed. You really can't go wrong for the price.

I enjoyed chatting with Ken. I was tempted to purchase a bag of eight figures for $20 but was trying to keep focused on my spending. I'm sure I'll pick up some in the future, even if only to paint them and display them in the china cupboard.

I look forward to seeing ATKM at future cons. In the meantime, check their website and online store at