Sunday, January 27, 2019

Alastair Grimsby, 'Titus' and 'Bigby' aka: The Big Bad Wolf

Hi All,

Here we have the pugnacious Alastair Grimsby and his mastiff 'Titus', minding their business, tending their flock of sheep, while The Big Bad Wolf (or simply 'Bigby', for those who have read the brilliant 'Fables' series) lopes in for a quick spot of lunch.

Both Alastair and Titus have a great, 'What the f*ck. Again?!' look about them. Alastair, I believe, is an Artizan Design figure, but I can't for the life of me remember where I got the mastiff (pity, as he's a marvellous beast). At first I had them based separately but found that they looked much better side-by-side. I have given Alastair a natty quasi-Burberry car coat, probably a bit too stylish for the Scottish moors, but that's just how he rolls. His original shotgun was a double barrel jobbie, but it was so terribly warped that I removed the barrel and gave him a classically simple Mossberg 500.

Bigby is from Heresy Miniatures. This pose is probably my favourite of any werewolf figures that I've seen. I just love the animation of his feral, loping run. Just an awesome mini. His deeply sculpted fur required a little filling at the joins, but not a real problem. As to painting, I kept it relatively simple and gave him a mottled grey timberwolf look.

The herd of sheep are from 1st Corps. As soon as I saw these online I had to pick one up when we were at Crisis last year. While the overall look is great I have to say that I'm a little disappointed with the amount of bubbles and miscast bits. I corrected a couple things, but finally gave up and just made do. Still, a great looking and versatile tabletop scatter piece that can be used for games ranging thousands of years. 

Thanks for dropping in and have a great week everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pulp Denizens - 'Val' Sakura, Remi Choppinet and Carson Sinclair

I thought it high time to get a little pulp adventure going, so here are a few figures that I've added to my collection of all things noir, eldritch and slightly odd.

Yoshio 'Val' Sakura - 'The Kamikaze Grifter'

1949 San Francisco. Val is a fixer, private eye and grifter operating out of San Francisco's Chinatown. He 'immigrated' to the United States in 1945 via Kamikaze attack, being a pilot of a Aichi D3A 'Val' dive bomber which was splashed just short of his target off Okinawa. (It was in this crash that he lost his leg.)  Picked up and taken prisoner by a US destroyer, he spent the rest of the war in San Francisco.  Oddly he decided to stay after Japan surrendered, not wanting to face the stigma of being a failed Kamikaze in an all but destroyed country.  Haunted, hard-bitten, but also fair, Val has inadvertently made connections to the local Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads and other even more nefarious organisations along the US Pacific seaboard.

The figure is from Eureka's very characterful 'A Right Bloody Mess' range. As soon as I started working on his face I went, 'Hey, this guy's definitely Japanese', and the imagination went from there. His tough-guy pose just cried out for a cigarette so got out some micro-thin plastic rod and happily obliged.

Remi Choppinet - 'The Bistro Keeper'

1942 France. Remi runs a popular harbour bistro in Biarritz, but he is also head of the local Maquis (and runs a profitable contraband operation across the Pyrenees between France and Spain). Many of Remi's closest friends and confidants are the outlaws and outcasts of occupied France: downed Allied pilots, Jews, gipsies and Spanish Republicans. He likes his food, wine and other comforts, but under this soft exterior is a hard-nosed businessman with the heart of a patriot.

This figure is from the well-loved Artizan Designs 'Thrilling Tales' range. He has such a great, ''Allo 'Allo!' look about him.

Carson Sinclair - 'The Butler'

1928 Arkham. Carson Sinclair is a character from the 'Mansions of Madness' boardgame from Fantasy Flight Games.  

Carson still often thinks back to that fateful night when his friend and employer, one Mr. Hercule Webb, was swallowed up by a dimensional tear, never to be seen again. With Mr. Webb's disappearance, the Webb estate fell into the hands of the Webb's duplicitous business manager, a man by the name of Dupuis. As the sole provider for the Webb children, Carson has devoted himself to proving Dupuis's involvement in the events of Hercule's disappearance and to restoring the children as the rightful heirs to the Webb fortune.

The figure that came with the game was a little uninspiring, so I picked up this fella from Bob Murch's 'Pulp Adventure' figures. Bob's sculpts are so amazingly evocative that you just want to book a flight to Bombay on a Catalina seaplane, pillage forgotten temples in dark jungles and match wits with arch villians with whacky names. That, or pour a finely mixed drink while fighting off eldritch terrors from another time and space. No matter, it's all good fun.

Monday, January 21, 2019

William Tell's Apple Shot

Early in the 14th century, Swiss legend has it that William Tell was made sport of when Albrecht Gessler, the Austian vogt (officer) of the Swiss principality of Uri, demanded that he shoot the apple resting on Tell's son's head.

Mosaic at the Swiss National Museum

This challenge originated from a situation in which Tell pointedly decided not to salute the authority of the Austrian crown as he entered the town of Altdorf (this being Gessler's hat sitting atop a pole placed alongside the road to town). 

Seeing this act of defiance, Tell and his son, Walter, were arrested by the town constables and presented to Gessler for judgement. The Tells were cruelly sentenced to death for William's temerity of not recognising the power of Switzerland's Austrian overlords. Nonetheless, Gessler, knowing Tell was a renown crossbowman, wanted to make nasty sport from his prisoner's expense, and so decreed that he would commute their execution if Tell could shoot the apple off the head of his son.

From Sebastian Munster's 'Cosmographia' (1554 edition)

The young Walter was tied against a tree, with an apple duly resting on his head.  William silently drew two crossbow bolts from his quiver, socketed one, took aim and deftly struck the apple from atop his son's head. Gessler was very impressed, but wondered why Tell had drawn two crossbow bolts when only one was needed.  Tell cooly looked at Gessler and said the second bolt was meant for him if he missed his first shot. 

William Tell's act of defiance has become part of Swiss legend and lore, being recognized as the first spark of the Swiss rebellion which led to the foundation of the later Swiss Confederacy.

The figure shown here, depicting 'Wilhelm von Tell' in victory, is from Lead Adventure Miniatures.  He was sculpted by Igor Karpov who has a very distinctive, characterful style, with lots of heavy detail to loose your brush in. While the William Tell story is from the medieval period, he's shown here in high Renaissance garb, with slashed sleeves and  wearing a tasseted, flutted breastplate. A great figure to paint.

Thanks for visiting. Have a great week everybody!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Warbringer Titan 'The Crucible of Terra'

Late this past summer GW reissued 'Adeptus Titanicus', a game which caused a bit of a stir for some geeks of a certain vintage. The new ruleset is great homage to the 1988 version - easy to learn, fun to play and very evocative of the Horus Heresy/Titanicus backstory. 

Perhaps the biggest drawback to the game's launch was the high cost of the models (actually, still very much a problem) and the weird way GW decided to release the various 'classes' of titans. The initial uber boxed set included only the largest, the Warlord, and the smallest unit, the Knights. This  in turn made it virtually impossible for players to fully appreciate the tactical nuances of the game as the hulking Warlords usually just stood in place, trading long range fire while the Knights usually got plastered somewhere in the middle of the table. It took a few months for GW to get its act together and release both the medium Reaver and the scouting Warhounds, but in the midst of that gap many of us Titanicus nerds were looking around for alternative models to fill the ranks. For me Thingiverse came to the rescue as there were several gifted designers who had come up with great versions of the various titan classes, especially the Warhound and alternative Warlord weapon loadouts.

During one of my searches for possible stand-ins I came across Nuclear Shrimp Games, a small company based out of the Ionian Islands in Greece. These talented guys are doing some wonderful stuff with their own 'Black Earth' range, and also creating a few alternate 'not-GW' designs in the margins. On top of some impressive 28mm stuff, they also have two titans which are scaled on the large side of 6mm. One is an excellent Ork Gargant, and the other is an amazingly close rendition of an early 'Mars Lucius Pattern' Warlord titan, reminiscent of the 'Imperious Dictatio' engine from Dan Abnett's graphic novel series 'Titan' (1999).  Loving the comic series, I immediately ordered one of these bad boys to add to my collection. 

'Imperious Dictatio' from 'Titan'
What arrived from Greece was a relatively clean, but complex resin kit. I would say that it's not for the faint of heart, as it involved a good bit of straightening and filling to get it ready for priming (in fact it's has eaten up a lot of my hobby time since the start of this year's Challenge).

In addition to the main titan chassis, I also picked up a selection of optional weapon loadouts. 

'Jeeves, I think for today I'll go understated. Let's have the Apocalypse Missiles, Hellstorm Cannon and Plasma Devastator...' 

I really like the ridiculously huge Power Fist (as big as a super-heavy tank!) and the rather rude looking Void Missile launcher. 

The titan's power fist next to a Falchion super-heavy tank. Silly but fun...
'Accept the Imperial Truth, or I'll fire these honkin' huge suppositories at you...'

Yup, it kinda cracks me up. Each of these weapon options required a some creative trimming, drilling and magnets to allow the ability to swap them in. 

Something a bit preposterous...

...and something a little less ,um, striving.
'Be honest, do the missiles make my @ss look big?'

Byron kindly provided an appropriately shaped MDF base and I tarted it up with some wreckage and a parked Rhino (probably some Blood Angels trying to find a place for a  decent cappuccino).

'I heard there's a guy named Franco that needs sorting...'

So there you have it, my newest, stompiest titan, 'The Crucible of Terra', ready to blow the Arch Enemy to smithereens, or at least punch them hard in the owchie parts.

Thanks for dropping in, folks. Paint hard and have a great week! 

Monday, January 7, 2019

British Exploring Officer, Iberian Peninsula, 1810

Last week I picked up David Brown's 'General d' Armee' rules and realized that I haven't painted a Napoleonic figure (much less a unit) in an age. This is amazing as when I started this blog years ago that's ALL I painted. It's funny how things go in cycles.

So today's update is a British Exploring Officer serving in the Peninsula, circa 1810. 

These chaps composed a group of intelligence officers that served Wellington during the Peninsular Wars as his 'Peninsula Corps of Guides'. Their primary function was to survey the countryside and make modern maps for strategic planning, but increasingly they were used to gather intelligence on French plans and movements.

The Exploring Officers refused to be considered as spies and so conducted their work behind enemy lines wearing their regimental uniforms. They relied heavily on local partisans for local knowledge, guidance and support. Since they were usually excellent horsemen, mounted on fast thoroughbreds, they stood a good chance of evading French patrols using speed and evasion.

Colquhoun Grant (great name btw) was perhaps the most famous of Wellington's Exploring Officers. He provided sterling service throughout the wars and had many harrowing adventures in French territory (even posing as an American officer in Paris!). Wellington held him in trust so much that during the Waterloo campaign he essentially relied on Grant's reports on French movements to the exclusion of all other intelligence (which, as we know, almost led to disaster).

This figure is from Brigade Games, sculpted by Paul Hicks. I quite like the rider, with his wide brimmed sun hat and jaunty pose, but the mount provided was a little stiff and uninspiring. So I used a damaged horse I had from a spare Riders of Rohan boxed set (Thanks Byron!), feeling that it had a more animated pose. I had to shave off a few bits of offending tack and horse armour and then 'greenstuffed' a more period-specific saddle blanket, blanket roll and a sporty forelock to his noble head. The other issue with the poor brute was that it had one hoof missing - so I sunk the 'abbreviated' leg into a base of greenstuff, affixed both to the base and then masked the mess with some strategically placed groundwork. 


Have a great week everybody!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Fighting Fae - 'Tom Thumb' and his Furies

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder. Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels. Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies. Elves are glamorous. They project glamour. Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment. Elves are terrific. They beget terror. The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning. No one ever said elves are nice. Elves are bad.
Terry Pratchett, 'Lords and Ladies'

I first saw these figures last spring on the Eureka Miniatures' Facebook page (lurking under Sarah's profile) and knew I had to get a set. They immediately reminded me of Brian Frond and Alan Lee's illustrations in 'Faeries' published way back in the late 70s when I was just a kid.

These are about 20mm in height, but their very slight physiques make them look quite smaller. Even though they've been scaled to blend with the other 28mm figures from Eureka's fantasy range, I like to think of them at being 'true scale', 1:1. To reinforce this I have Tom leaping from a thimble (kindly sourced from Lynn, Peter's (infinitely) better half).

I love how dynamic the poses are. In my minds eye, their movement echos films like 'Peter Pan' and 'Princess Mononoke'.

The sculpts are very fine and intricate, with each figure's sword even having a unique basket/guard detail. Really lovely stuff.

So, how do you get these wonderful little gems? I'll be frank here: I absolutely love Eureka's stuff. It's creative, beautifully sculpted and masterfully cast. But don't ask me how to actually source these freakin' models (I finally had to send then a direct query as I was completely stumped). I find the Eureka website has been ingeniously designed to discourage people from actually purchasing their products. It's completely impenetrable and torturous - it's as if the site was designed by the Marquis de Sade and coded by Kafka. By the time you find something you've been looking for you feel like they should be paying you for the aggravation and waste of time. 

Sigh... , but I digress. 

Yes, I'll still be there, searching and clicking like a madman, when the next shiny thing emerges from Eureka...

I feel better now (rocks back and forth), no really, I do.

Happy New Year to you and yours, everyone!