Monday, March 31, 2014

Entry #1 to the 8th Lead Painters' League: 30mm Goblin War Party

As I mentioned last week I decided to join this year's Lead Painter's League (LPL) over at the Lead Adventure Forum. I participated in the event last year and I found it good fun and a great source of impetus to get some work done on my own projects.

This year the LPL kicked-off only three days after the end of the Challenge which put me in a bit of a flap to meet the deadline requirements.  Since the LPL rules require the first three entries to be sent together, AND all three entries have to be 'unpublished' miniatures, I had to keep some figures back from the Challenge, which was a bit of a bummer. So, fellow 'Wild Bunchers',  if you were wondering why I had 'flatlined' at the end of the Challenge this is why.

The first round of the LPL gave bonus points for aligning to its theme which was 'Realms of Fantasy'. I was wracking my mind trying to decide what to do and then discovered that Tom Meier has his own company, Thunderbolt Mountain which has a range of 30mm fantasy figures which provide a modern, arguably more sophisticated, take on the classic work he did for Ral Partha in the 80s. So I plunked down for a set of groovy looking goblins and waited for them to arrive. 

And waited. And then I sighed heavily and waited some more. 

Finally, when they did arrive, it was only a few days before the LPL deadline, right in the midst of the closing Big Push of the Challenge.  In the end I had to burn some (more) midnight oil in order to crack them off in a few frenzied hours of gluing, painting and flocking. I don't know if it was the time crunch or what, but I had a hard time getting any real traction with these guys. It's certainly no fault of the figures - they're wonderful castings, clean, crisp, with great character and requiring very little cleanup. Nevertheless, I staggered to the photo-booth in the early morning light not really feeling the love. 

That all being said I actually had fun working on them. I'm not a big fan of GW's ubiquitous bright green used for their orcs and goblins so decided to go with a darker, olive hued skin, with mottled charcoal patches on their arms, upper legs and shoulders. I also played around with the hair of the drummer, making him a blonde. I thought I'd follow a spur of the Tolkien canon, I think it's from the Silmarillion, which postulates that orcs and goblins are corrupted  versions of elves.  Along this line I'm thinking of having some sort of debauched elf warlord as the leader of this force - I'm imagining something like a Dirk Bogarde with pointy ears.

Bonzo 'Boom Boom' Thrakka with his dwarf-skin bass drum (assisted by junior goblin roadie)

Not surprisingly, I got completely curb-stomped in the first round by this excellent D&D themed group of adventurers painted by Frank. (As I lamely pointed out, with the LPL organizers matching us up they managed to cover off two great adjectives for this round. Y'know, 'Curt and Frank'. Get it? 'Curt and Frank' ...Ahem. Okay, move along...)

I particularly like the faithful pooch sitting on the far right.

While I really enjoy many elements of the League, such as its efficient (and patient) administration, painting towards ten weekly targets and the camaraderie of fellow contestants, I do find some of the rules a bit byzantine. The restriction of just one 800x800 image for each round seems cruelly limiting. Why not allow  a few more images, at a greater size, with varying angles? These are three dimensional objects after all, not flat figures. As it stands now viewers miss at least 50% of the work put into the submissions with this restriction. It also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on participants to compose one good image to convey the best of their work.  While some participants are gifted photographers (my stuff is serviceable at best), many people do not have the patience or skills to consistently create 'good copy' of their submissions, even though their paintwork may be brilliant.

The other thing that sort of piques me is the elaborate backgrounds that the organizers allow, well, actually encourage. To me this seems to fly in the face of a competition that compares figure painting. I often read the comments from visitors of how they are impressed by the use of particular backgrounds, terrain, etc. This is completely understandable, but I often wonder to what extent some of these backgrounds skew the consideration of the voters. By my understanding, this event is supposed to compare painted figures, not the settings they are placed within. Accordingly I've stuck to using my usual black backgrounds as it forces the viewer to just see the figures, for good or ill.

Anyway, these minor peccadilloes aside I really do appreciate all the hard work put into the event. Anything that can bring hobbyists together in a well-run, constructive forum over ten weeks is a great boon.

On a final note, Round 2 of the Painters' League is now up so I invite you to go check it out. 

For this round I've posted five more of my 1812 French Retreat figures that I kept back from the Challenge. Alan Perry really hit the ball out of the park with this range of figures - they're absolutely gorgeous castings. I'll have the lads posted here next Sunday when the round is finished, but you can get a 800x800 preview of them on the Round 2 League roster. :)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Voting is Open for People's Choice and Challenger's Choice for the 4th Annual Painting Challenge!

Hi All! We now come to the final part of the Challenge were we go through the selection for the People's Choice, Challenger's Choice, Sarah's Choice and Judge's Choice awards.

For People's Choice this year I'm going to use the same handy-dandy survey tool I used for the later bonus rounds. So, I invite all of you who were not directly involved in the Challenge but who enjoyed visiting and viewing the great work on display to take the time to place your favourite three choices in the free text box seen on the right. If you cannot see the tool (Blogger was being a bit petulant when I was writing this) please visit the survey at this site.

For Challengers Choice I ask all the event participants to email me with their three favourite entries ranked from 1 to 3. 

I will make the announcements on all four categories next Sunday, April 6th.

Enjoy looking over the entries and I'll see you in a week!

Curt want's you, yes YOU, to cast your votes!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Challenge V Entries in Retrospect

I've really been enjoying the galleries that many of the Challenge participants have posted on their blogs which display all the figures they submitted during the three months of the event. So in spirit of joining the fun, I thought I'd kick in with my own little retrospective of what I managed to eke out during the Challenge. 

Also, while I have you, please stay tuned later this weekend as we begin selection for:
  • Challenger's Choice
  • People's Choice
  • Sarah's Choice
  • Judge's Choice
So, start looking over the entries for the past three months AND all the bonus theme rounds in order to make a list of your favourites!

The Last Walk of The Wild Bunch

It's not over until...

French Paratroopers in Indochina, 1954

French Retreat from Russia, 1812

French Officer and Radio Operator at Dien Bien Phu, 1954

Post-Apoc Neo-Soviets

Cossack Sledge Gun


Circus Maximus Chariots

40K Priest

French Sledges and Cossacks

Belgian Refugees, 1914

Russian Peasants, 1812

Aubrey & Maturin

Eagle of the 18th

Pike's Pause

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Miles' Challenge Statistics & The Lead Painters' League

Well I feel much refreshed after sleeping a good portion of the weekend. I received his excellent note from Miles the indentured Challenge Statistician:

Yes, it’s now the part of the Challenge where I prove to the world that I’m a geek of astonishing geekness - here are the stats of this years Painting Challenge
Total Points Scored 59,263!
That’s the equivalent of 11,853 28mm infantry figures being painted - that’s a full division in 1:1 scale!
So how can we assess this years spectacular performance?  First off there’s the economic impact
If we assume the economic value per figure is the following
Figure $  2.50
Paint $  0.30
Basing $  0.25
Painting Time $  7.50  (30 minutes a $15.00/hour - I raised this estimated from last year given the comments I was too stingy)
        Total $10.55
Base Value Created $125,049.15
Velocity of Figure Acquisition Multiplier: 3  (we we acquire 3 figures for each one painted)
Total Value Created  $375,147.45!!!!! 
Yet again, the Challenge is a veritable miniature economic stimulus package - I hope that figure manufacturers across the globe are ramping up production as we could face severe shortages in the coming months based on the predicted buying activity to replenish our stocks.
Another way to look at the success of this years extravaganza is from an efficiency viewpoint.  This year we had 61 participants generate 59,263 points, with the average per participant coming out to 971 points.  Last years Challenge generated 42,079 points from 47 Ronin, yielding an average per painting Ronin of 895 points
So lets see here, the Challenge produced both increases in participants (reach), gross production (volume) and efficiency (rate) - that’s a very rare triple win in the business / investing world.  One usually gets an increase in one of the three factors at a cost to the others.  If this was a company we’d be going to IPO land with these kind of results.
Anyway you look at it, this year’s Challenge was a smashing success - well done to all the participants and Mr Campbell for a wonderful experience this year.

Great work Miles!  Thank you for your valued if rather bizarre insight to our little venture.

On another note I've decided (against better judgement) to join this year's Lead Painters' League (LPL). As in past years this season will be made up of 10 submissions, one per week, with extra points being awarded for brand new work and specific themes. 

My painted versions to follow in a week...

This first week has 'Realms of Fantasy' as its theme and so I decided to order some wonderful Goblin figures sculpted by the talented Tom Meier from Thunderbolt Mountain Miniatures. They have this wonderful 1980's feel to them, much like his early work for Ral Partha. They remind me of many carefree late nights playing D&D with my dorky friends.

Unfortunately the figures arrived during the last days of the Challenge and so I had only a few hours on Friday to work on them, in addition to the two of the other five-figure submissions required for entry. In fact I had to pull another all-nighter on Friday to make the Saturday submission deadline (sounds familiar). Consequently they are bit of a rush job, and definitely not my best work (I'm deservedly getting trounced in this first round), but I still had fun working on them and I really wanted to participate in the League as some motivation to get some of my own work done after being so absorbed with the Challenge.

Anyway, I urge you to check out the League in order to see the great efforts of all the participants. It's good fun with many beautiful miniatures on display.

In accordance to the LPL rules there is a photo blackout on the painted stuff until the round has concluded. With this being the case I should have some pics up for a bit of show-and-tell next Sunday.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

So Concludes the 4th Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge


Holy smokes. I actually made it though all, eh!? 

From my last count I posted 38 entries in the final twelve hours of the Challenge. It was an amazing, final-push by many of the participants that left me buzzing through the night, updating the blog every few minutes. Great fun.

First, I want to congratulate the top three finishers in the points roster.  It was a UK sweep this year with DaveD, KevH and the unstoppable AndrewS showing the world what could be achieved in three months with a small brush, a few pots of paint and a bit of glue. Bravo to the three of you!! 

I will be contacting each of you regarding your prizes which have been generously provided by the following sponsors:

On that note I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of the Challenge sponsors for their incredibly generous support. Of course the event would proceed without prizes, but they do provide a nice sparkle to all the hard work, noise and glory! So, again, I thank you!

In the coming week I will be announcing voting and selection for Challenger's Choice, People's Choice, Sarah's Choice and Judge's Choice. So please stay tuned...

One of the great surprises to me was the overall success of the theme bonus rounds. I was really delighted by the response to them, both by the Challengers and from the viewing public. I received many emails from visitors who thought this to be one of the strongest elements of the event. I will take the lessons learned from the process and think of how to improve it for the next time.

And yes, there will be a next time, but with qualifications. Four years ago the Challenge started out as a very small affair, but it has gained support and greater interest over the intervening years. This year I have to admit I barely kept it all together. It was a hell of a lot of fun but I think I may have hit the limits of my meagre abilities. But don't worry, I have a few ideas for improvements for next time so rest assured, the show will go on.

Finally and most importantly, I wish to thank all the Challengers for their support, enthusiasm and tremendous good will during the event. The Challenge is all about you and your efforts, and in both of these things you put on an incredible show of talent, energy and good sportsmanship. Our hobby can often seem rather introverted and isolated so I delight that our little event allows us to reach across the world to meet new people and create new friendships. 

In closing, I will take my usual prerogative by submitting the last Challenge entry. 

I opened the event with 'The Long Walk of the Wild Bunch',

...and so I thought it fitting to close it with 'Pike's Peak' (thanks for the great title Miles!)

This is a 38mm figure from Onira Miniatures. Excellent sculpt and casting. 

I adjusted the posing of the figure to shift Pike from a purely shooting pose to give him more of a sense of taking a pause amongst the furor of the moment, reflecting on the end - I think it gives an interesting introspective quality to the scene. In a sense it is an fitting figure for me to end the Challenge. 

So, my 'Wild Bunch', there you have it. With this last entry I officially close the 4th Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  Thank you all for making it such a wonderful experience and a great success.


The Votes are in for the 'Last Stand' Bonus Round

Our final bonus round was rousing success with many excellent entries spanning a wide variety of periods and topics (and visions of reality!).  

So, without further ado the runners up were:

MartinN's (Nick's) poignant  'The Death of Arthur' 

Curt's 'Eagle of the 18th'

On the podium we have in Third Place MichaelA's inspiring 'Say Hello to One's Little Friend'

Michael will receive 25 bonus points for his wonderful vision the the Empress in action!

In Second Place is DaveD's fabulous 'Butch and Sundance'

Dave will receive 50 bonus points for his fantastic rendition of these iconic screen legends.

First Place was claimed by Millsy with his amazing 'Ney and the Rear Guard, 1812' 

Millsy will receive 75 bonus points PLUS a generous gift certificate from the folks at J&M Miniatures.

All of the bonus points have now been tabulated and the FINAL points tally is now reflected on the chart. 

I wish to thank all the bonus round participants for their support of this new element of the Challenge. Your enthusiasm and amazing entries made it a unqualified success! Bravo to you all!

From AndrewS: 28mm Napoleonic French Infantry Battalions (203 points)

I thought it best to have Andrew, our top-ranked Challenger in the points standing, to bring up the rear-guard before I officially close this year's Challenge.

From AndrewS:
For my  final submission I wanted to return to the Napoleonics and go out on a high these should take me over the 4000 point mark if I have done my sums right.
3 battalions of 28mm French and allied forces. These are all Perry Figures with a splash of Foundry to make up the numbers.
First up is a 16 figure regiment of line in greatcoats with flag again the mix of figures has worked well for these.
Next is my Battalion of 12 figures of the 1st Swiss all Perry plastics, playing black powder at the reduced scale we do really works for the smaller table we regularly play on and does save on the time getting a unit to the table.

Finally I present 12 figures representing the 1st battalion of the 2nd Berg regiment a mix of figures, these guys were a touch more work but I think I got the campaign look just right without detracting from the unit as a whole.

Well that is all I have for this years challenge it has been a very good one this year thanks for having me along for the ride.

Ah, it's great that you end with figures for 'The Beautiful Game' - thanks for this Andrew. Lovely work as usual but I have to say that those lads from Berg are very fine indeed. I really like the campaign look of these fellows.

These three battalions will give Andrew 203 points which will be more than enough for him to break the 4K level. Fabulous stuff Loki and congratulations on your First Place standing in the points race - a monumental (and inspiring) amount of work. Bravo!!

On an administrative note: I'm going to be tallying the bonus round and posting my last entry later today. This may be a few hours as I've been up for quite sometime (yawn). Please check back for the wrap-up... Thank you all!!