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A New Beginning…

Tinkering with Artwork and Ideas!

The more complex the mind, the more the need for the simplicity of play.

— James T. Kirk
Let‘s go on an adventure!

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Odds and ends…

Taking much longer than I expected, I finished a display base for the plastic Games Workshop Fellowship. Unfortunately I had not taken the Moria themed base into account when I based the minis…. hence Gimli looking a bit out of place on Balin’s tomb.

In addition to this I experimented with another Eaglemoss piece for another variation of Galadriel.

It was not difficult to tidy up the original factory paintwork, redo the eyes and decorate the base. The idea was to use it to represent a very angry Galadriel spell casting… you can see the scale difference here.

In other news, I finished the second season of The Purge. That did not go the way I thought it would go…

Whilst my wife has no interest in watching The Purge she does watch Hell on Wheels with me and we finished season 4. I find myself strangely compelled to keep watching despite it being incredibly depressing. Anson Mount is a great character but I find the Bohannon character problematic at best. The show is very cynical with corruption and vice rife. Horrible people are repeatedly shown in sympathetic, almost reverential light. Still, annoyed as I may be by that I keep on watching.

Star Wa… er I mean Core Space….

I realize I have been procrastinating on my Core Space project but I had some Wizards of the Coast Star Wars miniatures gifted to me for Christmas by my friend Tom. These seemed like a quick and easy path to having some extra Core Space minis finished.

They come pre-painted but anyone familiar with them knows the painting is… uninspiring.

First up, the Verpine Technician… should make a cool engineer in Core Space. This figure was the most difficult due to rebasing and the feet.

Next up a Rhodian Raider. I tried to make it a little more colorful with small details whilst remaining as true as possible to the original paint scheme. The eyes were a headache because of the tiny sculpt. The light you see in the eyes is a reflection from using gloss matt coat just on the eyes rather than painted highlights.

Then a Bith Rebel…. guess he gave up on his life as a musician.


Followed by a Trianii Scout. I changed a couple of things on this one. I added the plume on the helmet to match an illustration I saw online. My wife recommended the green for the cloak to make it look less monochrome.

The bases on all four are 1.5 x 25 mm Litko bases. I really prefer these to the more commonly available 3 mm bases but are much more difficult to source here in Germany.

In other news, I managed to watch Illang: Wolf Brigade. A South Korean take on a Japanese story. Much better than I was expecting.

I liked the changed background of a future reunifying Korea, although I would have liked to see the international aspects of that explored more.

A new year and a gaggle of Hobbits…

You may want to grab your favorite tasty beverage before starting this one… because it looks to be a long one!

First blog post of 2020 and there is a lot of things to cover. We begin with the completion of a bunch of Hobbits… although it is misleading because it is only four characters!

Here we have Frodo… in metal.

Getting Frodo’s Rucksack correct required some research.

https://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Hobbit/Frodo/Fellow/Backpack.htm


One Frodo is in plastic. This one is commonly done to suit Moria. I considered doing the base to reflect that but decided in the end to use my usual all purpose base design.

Next up we have Sam in metal.

As you can see, his rucksack is very different.

We also have a plastic Sam. My wife And I are fond of the weaponized frying pan but the sculpt is not as good as some of the others. This is made even worse by my painting over the previous owner’s paintwork.

Next we have Merry in metal.

And plastic…

And finally we have Pippin in metal….

… finecast resin…

… and plastic. His scarf on all these were particularly difficult so I tried to just convey the general idea rather than accurately replicate it. And his cloak is still a bit too bright, I may go back and put on a strong dark brown wash.

I tried to be a bit more screen accurate than Games Workshop, where I could.

https://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Hobbit/Fellowship.htm

In addition I finished some unit formation bases.

With it having been the holiday season, I have not gotten as much painting time as I planned but I did finish my Christmas gift for my Mother in time. But sadly it did not arrive on time. That said it is there now…

My Mother likes Brian Froud artwork so this seemed appropriate… the Rat is named Charlie.

In other news my wife and I finished the Witcher. Overall I really enjoyed it. I tend to agree with Angry Joe except for the bard. I did not like the writing for the character. Too often his dialogue sounded too contemporary for my taste.

With some improvement for season 2 this could be an amazing show. Get a better armorer and battle choreographer!

We also got caught up on season 2 of Lost in Space.

We enjoyed it. I had hoped for more but it was alright. By the end of the season I started enjoying hating Doctor Smith and stopped disliking the actor. I still miss the old tv series Doctor Smith though.

I also finished season one of Mars. It really made me wonder about crime and mutiny in both the Antarctic and a potential Mars mission. It really irks me that humanity still bickers over natural resources rather than I unifying to conquer frontiers. I expected us to be considerably further advanced by now, with sustainable underwater habitats, space stations and colonies across the Solar System.

On the topic of bickering… we finally saw Star Wars 9, The Rise of Skywalker. Let me start by saying I have been a huge Star Wars fan since I was a little kid. I memorized dialogue from A New Hope… before I knew it was A New Hope.

For the record I believe A New Hope is the best Star Wars. The definitive Star Wars. A science fantasy fable that is as important a myth as King Arthur. I know many think Empire Strikes Back is the best but I respectfully disagree.

I was not a huge fan of the prequels. Rogue One and Solo were ok but not monumental. Force Awakens was disappointing overall. Some interesting ideas poorly executed and some just plain ridiculous ideas.

The Last Jedi… no. Just… no. The wounds have not healed yet.

I went into Skywalker with low expectations. I am glad I did. It was much like Force Awakens but no surprise with JJ Abrams at the helm. Some good bits but some dreadfully bad plot holes and poor decisions. Gorgeous cinematography, costumes, set design and special effects. But the writing was weak and the team just did not seem to have a good grasp of the canon Star Wars universe.

I agree a good bit with Alex on the Angry Joe review discussion.

And that should wrap up this blog post… finally! Respect and thanks to all those with the dedication to read all the way to the end! As always please feel free to like, share and comment in order to keep the blog going!

Christmas loot!

The season of giving… and receiving. My friend Tom was exceedingly generous in his gifts to me this year as can be seen in the photo above.

Star Wars, Sedition Wars, Star Saga…. and Hammer’s Slammers all added to my ever growing backlog of cool things to paint!

Talking of Sedition Wars, I had thought I got one at a great price with a buy it now auction but the seller said they can not find it and cancelled the sale. Of course we are still waiting for our refund. EBay, you win some and you lose some. I am hoping to win another auction at roughly the same price but whether the refund actually comes through or not remains to be seen.

And that backlog of work…. my wife was extremely generous in adding to it as well!

First, a Ziterdes ship wreck for our Pirates of Ghost Archipelago project. The previous owner did a brilliant job with it but I see a few things I would like to tweak to personalize it for us.

She also spoiled me for our Sci-fi Core Space based project.

Since we both love Firefly this one should have been obvious.

But also….


I am curious what I can incorporate from various games into our Core Space Expanded project, especially horror elements.

And… as if I did not have enough to paint….

Pretty much everything for Mantic’s Star Saga. So. Much. Stuff!

But it is not all just about what I received… I can now show off some pieces I worked on as gifts.

For my mother-in-law, who loves collecting little tortoise figures, I did a shaman from Dark Sword.

For my brother-in-law I saw the perfect Goblin… I just needed to add some personal details tailored for him…. such as Düsseldorf and his favorite football team. Given how much he cooks for the family at holidays it seemed a perfect fit.

He was more of the opinion that it is a Gremlin rather than Goblin….

In other news, we managed to watch episode 4 of The Witcher last night. Whilst far from perfect some elements are so compelling they make it easy to overlook the flaws. For example the Dryads were completely uninspiring, all I kept thinking was the kids from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. But the palace scene was on the other hand amazing.

It seems Angry Joe generally shares the same opinion in his non-Spoiler review.

I like that he can have his personal dispute with the showrunner yet still be professional enough to prevent that from poisoning his opinion of the show. In general I agree with both his compliments and criticisms of the show.

As always please feel free to comment, like and share. The more folks do that, the more you ensure this blog continues!

Lizards?

With the holidays and family commitments not much painting has gotten finished… so today we have a look at some lizardmen I finished a few months back.

Originally the plan was to use them in our Middle Earth project… my wife knows I love lizardmen and came up with the suggestion that they can be from south of Far Harad.

However, we are now thinking of using them instead for our Pirates of Ghost Archipelago concept. We are thinking of a future project mixing the Archipelago game with a Golden Age of Piracy setting. Maybe take elements of Blood and Plunder as well.

I really love the newer Lizardmen sculpts from Games Workshop… or should I say Seraphon? I dislike the lore of the Seraphon in Age of Sigmar so I wonder what we will see from GW when they bring back Warhammer Fantasy.

I won these in an auction already painted. I rebased them, changed a few small details but really the look comes from the original owner. The shield colors are my own and the banner. I really love how the banner came out as I experimented with trying to get a carved jade look.

As soon as I saw these I knew I had the color scheme I wanted rather than the more common blue lizardmen. But now I am thinking of using a mix of color schemes on the host of unpainted lizardmen I still need to do. This should break up the overly uniform clone effect given the limited poses and equipment available normally.

Whilst I did not finish any minis I finished another Honor Harrington novel.

A great read, exploring the nature of POW treatment as well as the friction between pure military forces and political paramilitary forces.

We finished Season Four of The Expanse. The episodes got a bit better at the season went on thankfully but it was still the weakest episode so far for me. My love for the show felt strained. Amos was entertaining as always. Some character deaths made me sad, which proved the show still makes me care about characters but is not afraid to make me sad from time to time in order to keep the stakes high. Overall it felt rushed. So many shows feel rushed lately, trying to tell too much story too quickly, rather than letting things develop at a more natural speed… such as the character evolution of Bobby, which I empathized with felt forced given the speed of it.

An interesting review that does not completely agree with my view but makes some good points. Beware spoilers though.

With Expanse finished for us for now we started watching The Witcher. I am more familiar with the game than the books…

I went in with low expectations but high hopes… it is far from perfect. There is a very annoying bard for example with terribly out of place music.

But Cavill has surprised me with how good I find his portrayal of Geralt of Rivia. Originally I doubt his ability and wanted Anson Mount for the role but I have to admit that so far Cavill is pretty perfect in the role. He is occasionally let down by poor scripted dialogue that sounds out of place but otherwise I love how he can convey things with just a facial expression.

Costuming is generally good, if larpy but the armor tends to be rather poor in design and fit. The fighting makes up for it in the smaller fights. That said the bigger battles are not well choreographed.

I am surprised at how engaging I am finding Yennifer‘s backstory but Ciri so far is underwhelming. Granted we are only a few episodes into the season.

Once we finish The Witcher we will go right into season two of Lost in Space.

It looks good in the trailers anyway.

Anyone that knows me well will be surprised to find out I have not seen Star Wars Episode 9, Rise of Skywalker yet. Family commitments have made it difficult and to be honest the trailers and reviews have not encouraged me to push for it. I could have pushed for it yesterday but I really did not want to do that, then run the risk of coming out of the movie like Angry Joe….

And so with that in closing, those of you reading this blog I wish you a very Merry Christmas. I appreciate each and everyone one of you making the time to read my thoughts. Many people asked me to create this blog but few read it. Each of you encourage me to continue and I thank you for that.

In the Hills…

I have a gaggle of Hobbits on the top of my to-do list that I just could not face doing so I let myself get distracted with some terrain.

This was part of an auction I won quite some time ago and I just had not gotten around to making my desired adjustments. It was a decent piece when it arrived but I wanted to change a few things.

The first thing I did was put it on a new base in order to deal with the warping it was suffering. An effect of moisture at a guess. I wanted to also make it a little less square looking.

Then it was a case of adding little details and removing one big one. Originally I loved the rail lines in the cave. It screamed mine to me instead of cave. The idea was excellent but the execution was slightly flawed. I tried to improve it but only made it worse so I removed them.

I added some wildlife to give it character.

Overall I am pretty pleased. I would not have added grass to the top if I had built it from scratch but I decided to work with what I had. And I would have liked the entrance to have been big enough to add some Mantic mine rail lines but I think it works well enough as is for a hard working Dwarf.

As always suggestions, feedback and advice are welcome. Please feel free to leave a comment, like or subscribe!

Holding out for a hero…

I was finally able to clear coat some recent work… some old Citadel GW heroes I believe. I won these in an eBay auction already painted but I wanted to personalize them to better fit our table.

Here is how they looked before I painted them…

I had already begun rebasing them when I took the photo. One of the advantages of getting minis previously painted is that the original owner may chose colors that you might not. Using these as a guide but making modifications where necessary to match your own color palette allows for some increased diversity.

First up, a mage. I was not a fan of the big paddle bladed sword and over the top staff so I changed them out. The torch was inspired by his clothing embroidery. Given the lower fantasy level of Middle Earth my thinking is that he may just be a scholar in the militia of somewhere like Bree. Maybe he is a part time lamplighter. I tried to make him look dingy and weatherbeaten.

Next we have a Wood Elf that I originally thought was a Human Ranger. Once I started painting him though the little details caught my attention and convinced me to add him to the Elven armies of my wife. I really struggled with his eyes for some reason. I had to redo his face several times but eventually I got something I could accept. Unfortunately his photo makes him look more bug eyed than he does in person.

The next couple are a pair of the same mini. Some sort of assassin I think. One version I converted into a Ranger the other I went with the assassin concept. My wife said the Ranger looked like our friend Martin. Now Martin is someone I always think of as a knight, cavalier or paladin but I had to agree with her. So now he is Martin, a Ranger of the North.

And his Doppelgänger is going to be a proxy for Dalamyr, Fleetmaster of Umbar. One of the things I disliked about Star Trek: Discovery, and I really disliked that show, was the obsession with the Mirror Universe. But I have to admit I gave Dalamyr here a goatee as a reference to a Mirror Universe Martin.

And finally the Druid. I am not sure how we will use this mini in Middle Earth yet… suggestions welcome in the comments! My wife disliked the sickle and the skull on the original staff so I changed things up a bit and to be honest I am very pleased with the result.

In other news the second episode of The Expanse was a bit better but somehow it is failing to feel as comfortably excellent as season 1. The pacing and editing just feels off. Like watching a bunch of disjointed scenes jammed together without flowing seamlessly.

I keep watching the Angry Joe reviews of the Mandalorian, despite the spoilers… and that show looks so good! I am loving even just the clips. The costuming, set design, and dialogue seems great. Really looking forward to watching the full episodes one day.

Whilst surfing YouTube I was surprised to discover Games Workshop released a bunch of new Rohan stuff… in particular the building kits look amazing!

https://www.games-workshop.com/en-EU/Middle-Earth-Rohan-House-2019

Of course I am not sure how well they will fit in with the Hagglethorn Hollow buildings we hope to have at some point in the first quarter of 2020 according to the latest on the Kickstarter.

Two hands…

No miniatures finished the last few days thanks to high humidity weather preventing me from clear coating. So a look at some Rohan troops I finished a few months back.

I know what you are thinking… Rohan troops with two handed axes? Not the done thing in Middle Earth SBG, except for Grimbold of Grimslade.

But we have a house rule that the Helmingas that follow Grimbold, which in the rules have Strength 4 instead of Strength 3, get to have two handed axes.

Mostly plastic Gripping Beast Saxons and Vikings, although 2 metal miniatures are there. The shieldmaiden from Bad Squiddo and the one with the shield on his back from an unknown sculptor. That particular mini is not the best quality, I tried to improve it with a cloak made of greenstuff and a new shield to cover the damaged on it originally had on its back. Actually damaged, as in not molded correctly rather than sculpted to have battle damage.

I do not currently have a Grimbold model. The one I created to proxy for Grimbold ended up as part of a gift for my mother as it was based on a larp character of mine.

One of the details to make the miniatures look more fantasy Rohan and less Dark Ages historical was a suggestion from my wife to use brown on the dome of some of the helmets. I was skeptical at first but I think it worked out well actually.

Whilst I did not finish any minis I did finish a couple of other things…

Such as the first season of The Orville.

Overall much better than I expected. Some thought provoking themes, some jokes that made me laugh, cool ship but also a number of things that irritated me. The casual atmosphere of the crew reminded me more of The Office than a professional uniformed service of the future. But maybe this old grunt is out of touch on how casual the military is these days…

Speaking of military I finished another Honor Harrington book.

Focusing more on piracy, commerce raiding and Q-ships it also surprised me with a good junior enlisted ranks subplot. It reminded me very much of the painful lessons I had in the military about the realities of service. Whilst you can have some amazing Band of Brothers bonding you also have to deal with some very terrible human beings. Harrington handled things better in the book than the Officers and NCO’s I served with when I had physical confrontations with other soldiers. I am still bitter to this day about some of the injustices I had to endure.

With the end of season 1 of Orville, we could start season 4 of The Expanse. I was so excited! Too excited it seems because the opening episode was disappointing. It felt disjointed, too fast and overly clever for its own good. The pacing felt off. I can only hope it improves.

EDIT: Thinking about it, The Orville reminds me a bit of F Troop….

Bits and pieces…

Thanks to the weather finally drying out I managed to get some things clear coated today…

First we have the yearly Christmas mini I do for my son. A young dragon napping on its holiday hoard. This is a metal mini from Reaper.

Some other Christmas minis the dragon will be joining…

Also finished is an unarmored metal GW Glorfindel… although he actually has a maile shirt if you look closely. The newer armored version is more commonly seen but is also typically more expensive.

Next up a plastic Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy Battles High Elf mage. I won this piece in an auction already painted. I repainted it to match our color palette and tried to get it to look more in keeping with the Elven Army my wife has. More blue, less white. I changed the spell effect from the original purple to the bluish white effect that came out ok I think. It is a bit more high fantasy than our other pieces but my wife likes it so it looks like we will be keeping it. The only thing she does not like is the long stole around his neck. I have another unpainted on that I will cut the stole off and change the staff.

I also finished a rework of an Ent. Originally it had an orc corpse on the base from the original owner. I dislike corpses on figure bases… so I hid it with a bush. And I added a bird to one of the branches. My wife likes little details like that on her Forest creatures.

Then a quick addition of a banner to a previously finished Rider of Rohan.

And finally, I think I may have settled on a paint scheme for the Mantic Marines that I want to associate with my UCM Dropfleet ships.

Originally I was inspired by some Anvil Industry Unity Council Marines painted by Dwartist….

….but in the end it turned out looking more like MNU troops from District 9.

I think it certainly looks better in person than in the photos…

I figure that at some point the Marines will get used in a Core Space scenario…. something inspired by Umtali Station…

https://umtalistation.wordpress.com

I encourage you to look at the Umtali Station campaign blog, that has inspired my long term sci-fi project goal.

More sci-fi distractions…

So yeah, I have not been the most focused of late. In addition to trying to finish some holiday minis, I got sidetracked with the power armor which can be put to dual purposes and some Mon Calamari…. oh, and my first Core Space…

First, a couple of old Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Miniatures, technically a mercenary and medic.

Not a lot of work to repaint and rebase them. I changed to uniform colors to match each other. No idea what I will use them for, perhaps Core Space. I just think Mon Calamari are cool.

One thing I did take away from doing these, it is not hard to get a decent looking mini even from what many may consider a rather poorly detailed or inexpensive mini.

Whilst I have not started any of the Core Space minis yet, I did decide to do a quick paintjob on one of our turn counters.

It is interesting to see how a simple bit of paint can drastically improve the apparence.

I finished the next Honor Harrington book… a great read, quite the page turner….

… and I stumbled across this interesting video with the author himself talking about a number of interesting topics. Seems his background is that of a military historian rather than being a veteran. I find this interesting because my mother wanted me to be a military historian instead of a veteran.

As for movie news, I saw Hunter Killer with Gerard Butler and a number of other good actors.

Sadly the film felt a bit flat, formulaic even. Everything by the numbers making a predictable but watchable movie. Gary Oldman yelling is always fun. I am an old grunt, but part of me wonders how I would have done if I had joined the Navy instead, perhaps as an officer. I suppose I would have ended up like Denzel Washington in Crimson Tide….

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