Step by step…

So I managed to finally clear coat and finish some more bits that I have been working on for some time.

Odds and ends in my bits box auction winnings came together to make this little terrain piece. It should add some character to a village or homestead at some point. The nameplate over the dog has runes of the dog’s name…. “Dog”.

I struggled to come up with a design to put on the sign, so I asked for advice on the Lead Adventure forum. That is where I learned about the runes I used on the dog house. I decided to go with a map icon of water, something pretty universal. Even Orcs need water. The vulture was inspired by the ones that make the mistake of bothering Arnie in Conan.

Then we have a Gripping Beast Late Roman painted up as a warrior of Rohan. I went back and forth on using the Coptic tunic design but in the end decided to go with it. This is a complete repaint from what the previous owner had.

And finally, I finished another Isengard Uruk-hai pike block. These are all repainted from what the previous owners had done… so some have lost quite a bit of detail definition. But I think for massed combat tabletop duty they look ok.

There is still have one more Uruk-hai pike block to do but not sure when I will get around to doing it given our Battle Companies requirements have jumped the priority queue.

Keeping busy…

Odds and ends…

Every piece completed is one small step forward on the ever growing projects that fill my free time. I find that some things jump the queue on my priorities depending on my mood. Lately I have been in the mood to work on terrain.

First up a throne, some stairs and a statue won in various bits auctions on eBay. All were already painted but I did some reworking of the brushwork from the previous owner… and I pit the statue on a stonework base to act as a low plinth.

I decided the statue came out good enough to be a well cared for town statue rather than an overgrown one found in some ruins. My wife likes it so I expect it to end up in Hagglethorn Hollow… when it eventually gets here. Looking like May before it is delivered. Sigh.

Next some rickety old fences.

These were 3D printed bits we picked up in a games shop in Düsseldorf. I am not that keen on how they came out but my wife likes them.

I tried to give this piece some character, even the stone by the door is there for a reason. I considered putting a spear leaning up on the side, anyone who has re-enacted or larped will understand why. But in the end I decided against it… the joke could get old.

A tree with the remains of an iconic medieval fantasy denizen… every low level adventurer ends up facing one of these eventually, a giant rat.

And last but not least a couple of GW fantasy skinks… which may end up in our Middle Earth project or our Pirates of Ghost Archipelago project. I am still undecided.

I won these fellows in auction already painted… I just rebased them and changed a few details, like their eyes. Originally my thinking was for all my lizardmen to use the same color scheme but now I am thinking of using various different color schemes to break up the clone effect caused by limited poses and equipment choices.

More Orcs for Mordor!

In the Service of the Lidless Eye!

I managed to finish a few more Mordor Orcs and go back to rework some others.

I added shields to these Mordor Uruk-hai. Higher tier Orcs, I figure they would be quick to take shields off their weaker kin.

And I went back to rework the shields on these two Mordor Orcs. Hopefully they look less like IKEA tribal decor footstools now.

I am particularly pleased with some little conversion bits I added, such as the rucksack on one and the lunch on the belt of the other. Spare GW bits come in handy to break up the clone effect of repeat poses.

Just in case you did not see the lunch….

Rat and turnip soup for lunch!

I managed to finally catch Prospect… a tidy little B movie movie from Dust.

I quite enjoyed it. Not perfect, some old tropes but a couple of new twists and thankfully I had avoided spoilers so I was on the edge of my seat in regards to just how alien… and dangerous… the planet and it’s denizens may be…. definitely had a Firefly vibe going on. Great inspiration for Core Space!

Another step towards the Forest…

My wife and I managed to get a couple of terrain pieces done. Both are part of the great forest my wife imagines as a key part of our Middle Earth project.

The tree is a 3D printed one we picked up in a shop in Düsseldorf. My wife did the majority of the work, I just painted the animals and a couple small details. All the rest is her work and to her vision.

The stump is a miniature base I won already painted in an auction of bases. Rather than use it as a miniature base I decided to use it as a terrain piece or objective marker. I just added some washes, dry brushing and static grass. Oh, and the exotic reptile to increase the character of the piece… like a Jim Henson project.

We have been doing our homework regarding our Middle Earth wargaming and World Building. My wife has been collecting The One Ring RPG books from Crucible 7 and I have been scouring the internet for interesting house rules to improve the game.

One idea I like is to add volley plunging fire to archer units. Basically the idea is to simulate the ability to use archers in indirect fire mode. The unit treats it’s fire the same as a siege engine. And perhaps increased range. The idea needs some play testing for balance.

Do you know any cool SBG house rules? Feel free to leave a comment regarding this!

In other news, my wife and I finished the final season of Hell on Wheels.

I found the final season unnecessarily, gratuitously in fact, bleak. That said, I did like the exploration of Chinese involvement in building America. The whole series has been very compelling watching but I often felt the characters were inconsistent in their personalities, as if different writers did not agree on the character motivations.

Orcs!

My wife and I were feeling a bit underwhelmed by the starter scenarios in the Pelennor Fields box set so we looked into instead getting right into the Middle Earth SBG Battle Companies Book from Games Workshop. This is sort of the more skirmish game version of the main SBG skirmish game. Think of it as RPG lite, with character progression and enhanced narrative elements.

Whilst my wife has not decided on a company yet I am thinking of going with a Mordor company, so that put some Mordor Orcs at the top of my painting priority list… plus I was in the mood to paint some grungy Orcs.

These are all used models won in auctions on eBay or bought at Crisis, with various levels of painting done. All had more work done on them by me than I expected though…so much for a short cut!

One annoying issue was my ink washes went very poorly. Lesson learned, do not buy used consumables in the future, especially washes. The money saved was not worth the hassle of having to try to fix the problems caused. I had problems with washes cracking, being muddy, frosting in crevices and being glossy.

The internet research I did gave various explanations from just plain bad washes having gone off to not shaking the bottle enough, incorrect thinning, too thick application, rushing the wash without giving the paint enough time to dry first etc, etc, etc.

I think I had a mix of problems but one thing I felt was that when I first starting using washes last year it had been a magically simple exercise with my new Army Painter washes to drastically improve my minis. Now it was not. I experimented with various other washes including Vallejo and Citadel but nothing delivered results like my original Army Painter washes. Now they too were letting me down.

In the end my wife suggested just getting a whole new batch of new Army Painter washes… and that seemed to do the trick, allowing me to finally finish this batch of Orcs.

First up is Shagrat, Captain of Cirith Ungol… the Mordor Uruk-hai who recovers Frodo’s Mithril armor, as you can see on the mini. I prefer the other GW sculpt of Shagrat in heavy armor and with a shield. This one has a pose too narrative specific but I have this one and not the other. I have a second Shagrat in this pose that I converted to remove the Mithril armor and added a shield. I suppose I should try to add heavy armor to that conversion as well.

Next we have a Mordor Orc Captain. Originally I tried a very dark green for the tunic but it made the mini look too dark overall.

Next, a couple of Mordor Orc shamans. Despite having the same pose I tried to make them look distinctively different.

Then we have a Mordor Uruk-hai Captain…. apparently. Some folks immediately think Saruman and Isengard when they hear Uruk-hai but Sauron has his own as well. Not many minis made for this though, in fact whilst this mini shows in the LOTR Army Book as a Captain I believe it was originally produced as just a Mordor Uruk-hai in metal. I have converted some plastic Isengard Urk-hai to be Mordor Uruk-hai but not painted them yet.

Then we have my other two metal Mordor Uruk-hai. I might add a shield to the one with just a sword.

This fellow is an interesting conversion I picked up at Crisis. It appears the previous owner used the conversion sprue that came out with the SBG magazines to create a Guritz model. But he used a regular Mordor Orc Body instead of a Mordor Morannon Orc body. Since I have one of those conversion sprues, I am planning on using this as a regular Orc and converting a plastic Morannon in the future to avoid the high price of the usual Guritz models, new and old.

And there we have a bunch of rank and file Mordor Orcs. In the future as I start to get repeat models I will try to convert and paint them in a manner to avoid a clone army look. A couple of the Orcs have shields with stitched leather that right now look a little too IKEA to me so they may need some reworking.

I also did a couple of Moria Goblins in case I do not get any Mordor Orc archers finished… they will proxy nicely since I am of the opinion that Tolkien used Goblin and Orc interchangeably.

In other news, we saw the first two episodes of Picard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3y4mjGBrB0

I may not agree completely with Angry Joe… also I strongly disagree with him about the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery… but I agree with him in a good bit of his review. I think that I was so worried I would hate it like Discovery that when I did not I found myself being a little too forgiving of the plot holes in the first episode.

I love the acting of Patrick Stewart. Picard is an amazing character and I felt myself strongly identifying with him. In the second episode where he goes to Starfleet HQ it reminded me of what it would be like for me to return to my old US Army or North Wales Police HQ’s. Hubris is definitely something I have been accused of suffering from in the past by more than a few folks.

The swearing was unnecessary and made me think the writers have not immersed themselves in Trek lore I prefer. Admittedly Picard did say “merde” in TNG, I preferred the Kirk era films showing how human language has evolved as the culture has. This lends a sense of the characters being from another time.

I dislike the attempts to make the Trek universe not so much as relevant as unnecessarily relatable.

Some folks of complained about the “hipster millennial” characterization in the show. I cringed when I saw workers on Mars use a replicator to make their food on what looked like WW2 US Army meal trays and then complain about the quality of the food. All too relatable but not in step with the technological utopia presented in other Trek shows.

I get that the show runner wants to comment on the current swing to the right in politics but Roddenberry would normally use an alien culture with this issue compared to the fairly utopian Federation. It is not just Picard or Discovery, this goes further back… if nothing else than the Section 31 plot line in Deep Space 9. Where DS9 gets away with it is because it was so excellently delivered.

Even I start to think the ends may justify the means after this iconic scene in DS9.

But that is a slippery slope indeed….

Proper Core Space…

The crews of the Ion Hope and Black Maria from Core Space.

I have several projects on the go right now, all of which interest me to varying degrees… but Core Space really is something special for me. I do not really know why but I fell in love with it when it came to my attention… and that love turned into near obsession when I met the three guys behind Core Space at Spiele in Essen earlier this year.

That love had me nervous about painting the minis for the game. I wanted them to be perfect or at least as close as my modest painting skills would allow. I procrastinated… but finally got started with the two starter crews.

I consider these among my best work. Painstaking hours of meticulous work to get the right colors, the tiny details, that would recreate the artwork of the rule book. In some cases this conflicted with how the minis were sculpted, as in Lars wearing trousers instead of shorts and in others the conflict was between the illustrations and the painted minis shown. I tried to stick as close as I could to the illustrations.

First up the crew of the Black Maria.

Jace reminds me of Han Solo and will be my starter character.

Whilst not normally a fan of such colors by the time I was done with him I loved the mini.

Lars was a tough one. The model’s right foot had not been formed properly so I had to use greenstuff modeling putty to sculpt a new foot. In the illustrations, and the mini in the rule book, his shoulder throw had stitching that was absent in my mini. I tried to recreate the stitching with paint but I could just never get it to look right. His face was difficult as he had very little definition to his mouth. I accentuated it by carving into the paint on the face a bit with my fingernail.

Renton’s mini reminds me of Frank Castle (The Punisher) for some reason, although the illustration in the rule book does not. I put a lot of effort to try to paint his weapon as per the illustrations.

Next we have the crew of the Ion Hope.

Arianna will be the starter character of my wife. The face you see is a second attempt as I accidentally got some black wash on my first attempt.

Roykirk is an interesting character and was fun to paint… except for his eyes. I hate painting eyes.

Gak is a member of the Quell species… he reminds me of Bortas in The Orville and reminds my wife of Ka D’Argo from Farscape.

Tirgarde is another one of those minis that I was not a huge fan of in the beginning… purple and white… ugh! But by the time I finished I loved the look.

So many great minis in Core Space… plus the amazing terrain Battle Systems is known for. I still have not played a game… I have civilians and Purge to paint first but we will get there. Painting these eight minis have taken me many hours of concentration but al have resulted in pure joy.

I wish I could get the same joy out of contemporary Star Trek… the JJ Abrams Movies were disappointing fan fiction with big budgets. Discovery was a disaster. I fear Picard will disappoint but I shall try to remain hopeful….

The other day I stumbled onto this video. I have not yet seen the Short Trek episodes…but this disturbed me… even more than Discovery. It seems a betrayal of Roddenbery’s vision. Now I will admit the non-militaristic image of Starfleet annoyed the young me that became a soldier but just as the young me grew to favor Kirk less and Picard more as a role model so too have I grown into more peacekeeping police officer than warfighting soldier. Starfleet as a paramilitary policing and exploration organization rather than a space navy appeals to the older me.

Do not get me wrong… I still think the TNG And DS9 Klingons are fun to watch but whilst I may have once wanted to be Klingon these days I am not prepared to trade Root Beer for Bloodwine.

It amazes me how the IP’s of my youth, that I once loved, have gotten so far from what I loved about them. Star Wars and Star Trek today just seem so underwhelming in their cynicism, shallowness and superficiality.

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!

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