Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Batch Of Beasties!

Last week my lovely wife and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. As everyone knows the first anniversary is the miniatures anniversary. Having the awesome wife that I do, she purchased me enough stuff to get me started in the Strange Aeons game of Lovecraftian horror and mayhem. I've done some painting in anticipation of this event (since I've known I was getting it for a while now), but I haven't had anything official to work on until now.

I received not only a Bundle of the Beast, but also the Threshold Agents I and the Fishmen I packs, plus a membership in the Cult of the Black Goat, complete with Giant Deep One (and a banshee, captive and submerged Deep One). Needless to say, I have a nice pile of stuff to work on. The Threshold agents are primed and in progress, but I couldn't help but knock out the Fishmen real quick. Being mostly robes, it was easy work. I chose turquoise robes to evoke images of the sea.

The pieces were easy enough to paint. The details are limited and subtle, and the sculpts pretty basic. I haven't worked with this particular resin material before, and I did notice some hefty flash/mold lines as well as some areas of bubbles. I'm not terribly skilled at removing/fixing such things, so I left them be. I don't think they are too noticeable. I really enjoy the sculpting style, but I will say that for the price ($12 CAD for 2 models plus $10 shipping from the great white north) I think I may be limiting my purchases. The quality to price ratio just doesn't hit as square on the head as I would like. Still, there are a few packs I will splurge on in the future if funds allow.

Slightly before I received my SA stuff, I finished off a model I've been meaning to paint for years. During my true love affair days with Warhammer (about 6-7 years ago) I picked up a box of chaos spawn for roughly half the price of what they cost now. I was a Lovecraft fan at the time as well, so naturally I built them up as Mythos-y as possible. I discovered them while searching through minis a while back and figured this was an opportunity to paint one up. I of course chose the one with the most tentacles.

The paint job on this guy is about as basic as you can get: base, wash and re-highlight with base color. The only thing I got "fancy" on was the eyes. I went for hourglass shaped pupils and huge yellow irises to give them a really unnatural look. I figure this guy will make for a great Formless Spawn or maybe The Horror if playing a Dunwich scenario. Here he is with a victim for scale:

I truly can't wait to get these guys on the table. I have to finish up my agents first though. Now if I could just get past the color choice on that splendid waistcoat...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


My family has always been a clan of moonshiners. Myself, I haven't mixed up a batch in a few years. I don't touch the stuff anymore. I haven't had a drop of any strong drink of any kind in almost 30 years. Not since that night.

It was not uncommon, back then, for a group of us to gather out at my cousin's still to party and drink. Deep in the woods, we were far from the law and could hoop and holler as loud as we wanted. We would drink, fight, sing and laugh long into the wee hours of the night. Most of the time we would all crash on the floor of the shack that housed the still. If we were feeling particularly brave, some of us would pile into the old truck and drive, swerving wildly and dangerously, back toward our various homes for a warm bed. I am still amazed we all made it in one piece over the years, because each drive was a harrowing afterthought when dawn finally broke, bringing pounding heads with it.

One night, however, I decided that I was drunk enough and that I would walk home. I couldn't tell you now why I made such a decision. Walking home was something we never did. It would be all too easy to get lost among the trees and the area was famously known for bears and coyotes. And knowing I would be talked out of it, I didn't bother to tell anyone. I simply filled my flask with some shine for the road and toddled off out the door and past the treeline.

I do still miss that flask. It was a beautiful thing made of crystal with a stainless steel cap, purchased by my father in France after the Great War. It passed it to me after his death and I kept it as full as he did. I wish I could still pass it to my son, but then if it weren't for that flask, I probably wouldn't be here to pass it along anyway.

As expected, I was soon wandering among the trees, all turned about. I was more angry than panicked, filled with a fair amount of liquid courage already and taking the occasional bracing sip as I stumbled along through the brush. I was a lucky bastard, though, and soon ran across the old train tracks. Abandoned years ago when the old bridge finally gave in and collapsed, I knew I could follow them back to civilization without fear of being run over by a train in the dark.

I began walking along the tracks, occasionally tripping over the ties and singing loudly, though I don't remember what now. It was maybe 20 minutes before I ran into the old tunnel, black and gaping, which of course meant I had been walking in the wrong direction.

Cursing and swearing, I began to turn to go the other direction when I spied something down the tunnel. It was two pinpoints of light low to the ground, like the shine off of a cat's eyes in the dark. That must be what I had decided it was, because in my drunken state I crouched down and began making clicking and cooing noises, trying to coax it out into the open so I could pet it. And that's when whatever it was stood up.

The pinpoints suddenly widened to large, saucer-sized pools of pale light and began to rise from ground level until they floated about five feet high in the darkness of the tunnel. Spooked, I also rose, my hand clutched tight around my flask, my body tensed. I did not know what I was looking at, but I was scared to make any sudden movements.

Suddenly those round, pale saucers began to bob down the tunnel towards me at speed, and I could hear the heavy thumps of limbs pounding against the ground, belonging to something big. I panicked and hurled the first thing I had at hand down the tunnel toward it, my crystal flask. I missed it, but I must have come close because I heard it crash against the ground and the thing stopped short. The cap must have hit a rock or a metal spike because there was a spark and a sudden whoosh of flame as the moonshine inside caught fire.

In the light of the flame I caught of glimpse of a pale shape, something akin to a gaunt, naked ape with huge eyes and long, sharp teeth, its skin covered in patches of greasy black hair. The fire caught some of that fur and the beast began to burn, the flames quickly covering its body. Howling, it began to run away toward the other end of the tunnel, its screams echoing down the length. As it went, the orange light of the flames bounced off the walls in the dark, faintly illuminating other shadowy shapes that scurried away as it passed. More points of light appeared in the darkness.

I turned and ran. I do not remember how I got home, only that I was glad that I had. I tried for many days to dismiss it as a drunken fantasy, but I could not forget those pale eyes in the dark. I still can't. I don't go walking in the woods anymore. And I don't drink.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Agent Mick Francis, reporting for duty!

This is a reasonably historic post because two things are happening for the first time here:

1) I have painted the very first miniature from my Bones Kickstarter
2) I have painted up my first miniature intended exclusively for the game Strange Aeons

The miniature I chose was a gunslinger, who looked like he'd fit in perfectly with some 1920s Cthulhu Mythos investigators acting as some extra muscle for those candy-ass, four-eyed bookworms with all their scrolls and whatnot. I don't actually have my copy of Strange Aeons yet, but I feel confident I will find a place for him.

I am quite pleased with how he turned out. I am used to painting fantasy and sci-fi miniatures with bright colors and plenty of detail This more simplistic miniature with naturalistic tones was a minor challenge in that I had to create variation among various shade of grey/brown.

Given that he bears more than a passing resemblance to NCIS's Muse Watson, I chose to name him Mick Francis. I imagine him as a tough, no-nonsense gunman, a former law-man whose chance encounter with strange creatures from beyond got him recruited to Threshold. Gruff and direct, he isn't suited for a leadership role, but his fighting skills are invaluable when things go South (as they often do in his line of work).

As far as working with a Bones figure for the first time, I have to say I'm impressed. The figure was one of the lucky, unwarped ones, so no reposing was required. It took both paint and primer easily, without having to be washed  first. Though flexible, the paint doesn't seem to crack, so it should be pretty durable.

I only have two complaints about the material so far. The first is that the Bones-ification process seems to cause a fair bit of softening of the detail:

Original Figure (Picture copyright Reaper)
Bones figure (Picture copyright Reaper)
 It's not bad, but it is enough that I had a hard time not making the figure look like a D&D pre-paint repaint (and I'm not entirely sure I succeeded). The second is that mold lines are a real pain. While not excessive, the material can't really be scraped off like metal or hard plastic. Instead, you sort of have to carefully filet it off. I have difficulties enough with regular mold lines, so I left them on. That also doesn't help the pre-paint feel.

So there you have it. I still have 11 days until I receive my SA books and Mike here can go on adventures, but I'm glad he'll be ready for action at the drop of a (10-gallon) hat!

Happy gaming!

I Have The Weirdest Bones-er Right Now...

After almost a full year of waiting, my Reaper Bones Kickstarter has arrived. My goal is to go through the minis bit by bit and take pics (don't hold me to it) but for now, I'll just do an overview.

The moment I got my shipping notice I started making a high pitched squeal of glee that I believe lasted the full four or so days after until it arrived. I had sent it to my parents' house for two reasons: A) My post office would be closed when it arrived, delaying it until the Monday after and B) I knew I could get my mother to bring it to me at work as soon as it left the delivery man's hands.

After many assurances that she was the best mother in the world and that my work would indeed be finished despite the Christmas-like event that was about to take place, my mother deposited a large brown box on the counter and left. I assume that was because what she was about to witness could be liked to what happens when a pack of hyenas finds a fresh wildebeest corpse.

Successful scavenging or Kickstarter unboxing? You be the judge. 
I had gotten the Vampire pledge, plus a few extras so I had plenty to look at. I was greeted with a very lovely Vampire Pledge box, something I was surprised to see. Happy, though, because it would make a great storage box for all that was inside.

Opening it was shocking. I was not prepared for what I was about to witness:

It's blurry because I was so excited that I was vibrating.
Now, what you are seeing are bags chock full of individually bagged miniatures. If the idea that someone sealed each and every one of those little plastic warriors in little plastic bags makes your mind boggle, I must inform you that there are two more identical bags under those. That's right, there was so much miniature madness that I was unable to capture it in a single picture.

In a couple of separate bags came my extras. Since I couldn't resist opening them, they all ended up in this bag here for storage. In there is a hydra, some fishmen (the Deep Dwellers add-on) and the black dragon, Ebonwrath. As a fan of black dragons, I already had several of the D&D pre-paints in several sizes (including gargantuan) but I couldn't resist having one more to paint up as my own.

Another add-on was a figure case. I swapped out the Sophie miniature for this because I didn't feel like owning a naked, motorcycle-riding succubus and I figured I would need the 150 miniature spots.

I expect a call from these gentlemen soon.
I ended up a little disappointed in the case. The spots inside are a little small, so only 25mm or smaller miniatures without dynamic poses would fit comfortably inside without altering the foam (thereby reducing the storage space). The foam is also denser than I expected, so it seems a little less gentle on the figures. But there is plenty of room inside for anything that fits the criteria:

And of course the piece de resistance of the order:

I am a huge Lovecraft fan, so I absolutely had to add Cthulhu to my pledge. At $10 it was an absolute steal. I was amazed at how detailed the sculpt was. I was able to dry fit the various pieces together snugly to take a picture:

He stands over 9 inches tall and is filled with antediluvian bad-assery. He ended up being the first figure fully assembled. I have to say I am a fan of the bones material so far. It is light, flexible and glues almost instantly with superglue. My only negative to it is that several of the figures came warped from the tight packaging, bit it's nothing a hot/cold water bath won't fix.

That's it! Stay tuned for a look at my first painted Bones mini very soon!