Friday, March 25, 2011

Alien Attack!!

A slight deviation and a short break from my historical path(ology)... 

Gaming with flying saucers is another area I've always wanted to delve in. Again, I'm going out with myself but the reference to the earlier, vintage era of 1950-60's SciFi films is again being invoked. There's a great collection out there of examples to get you all fired up. One of the many being "Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers".

Revamped movie poster for DVD 

Another pre-CG Ray Harryhausen masterpiece  
Alas, Mars Attacks! was an utter and typical Hollywood disappointment saved only by it's special FX and not by much, either. :(

Of course, those Hollywood morons thought that an A-list cast would more than make up for it's sucky plot ad nauseum. Barf!
Last year at Mag Con 2 I happened upon a wacky game that was truly in line with my kind of beer n pretzel / wacky gaming. I sat down at a demo and was hooked. The minis were Reaper with game designed by Frontline Games (

Box Cover Art
The Earthlings that's aptly renamed from the original rules set.
Left to right: Scout Master Willy (aka LTL Dad) and his three sons: Nick, Gabe and AJ

The Aliens: from left to right: Cheezo, Addar and Bob (original names from the rules set)

The object of the game is to ensure that the Aliens don't abduct the Earthlings. Played on a 24" x 24" mat and uses a card deck activation system. Eventually, I'll substitute this saucer for the one I have on order from Pegasus Hobbies.

Of course, I'll have to paint these guys green.
Meanwhile, back to historical minis...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Viking Posturing Part 1

On to the next project... To populate my completed Long Ship, my long awaited package from Wargames Factory finally arrived. (woohoo) Drawing upon the plethora of imagery available from the web is really inspirational.   
Classic pose
And aside from pictorial references from the web, my private library of acquired books such as the Osprey series illustrated by the great Angus and movies like 'The 13th Warrior' has given me ideas on what I'd like my raiding war band to look like. Since I'm painting figures for skirmishing, I'm more into individual, dynamic poses rather than a regimented, line unit look. 
How I wish for the hodge podge but more realistic cobbled up armor from 'The 13th Warrior'. 
These are a very cost effective approach however their look is still a bit regimented b/c of the mail hauberks.

Out of stock, DAMMIT!
I thought that these figs were just fine for doing a WAB or FoG army. The number and variety of poses was more varied upon completion. Plus I've been really pleased with the results. Ideally and in retrospect it would've been nice to have both boxes so I could've mixed and matched parts and pieces for that look I was trying to achieve.

At first I was a bit hesistant and overwhelmed about putting 32 of these bad boys together. In fact, the first figure took me a couple of hours b/c I was researching poses on the net. But after the initial figure and getting over the learning curve it became a cinch. 

Mad double-handed Axemen

Sword wielding warriors

More Mad Axemen

Spear chuckers

OK, what about these dual weapon wielders?

More dual weapon wielders.

And of course the Archers.

Additional varietals.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Joining the 'Arena Race' Part 3: DONE

Without further ado...

Finally my Governor's Box and stands are done. I decided on a trellis for some al fresco viewing with a fabric awning covering option (see below). I've also simplified the Doric columns and added spikes for that 'barbaric' look.

Review of condemned prisoners.
In lieu of Roman figures I'm proxying my Mongols for scale and for the downright fun of it!
A minor Khan of the Golden Horde. This command pack is from The Assault Group (TAG).
TAG Mongol slavers keep the Chinese PoWs in line for the upcoming games.
Sentencing by the Khan while the ominous drummer keeps the beat.
Gladiators (from BTD) are reviewed as some Arabic peasant riffraff from Old Glory look on.
"Ave, Governor! We who are about to die salute you."
And now a word from our sponsors... 

I've always wanted to create ancient and classically themed ads (ala NASCAR) to enhance my scratch-built Colosseum for running chariot races back in the 80s. So I've finally done it here. 

I had a lot of fun researching these familiar icons. 
The cheap seats.
Execution commences.
The other cheap seats.

Now all I'd need is to get some female gladiators... 
1974 blaxploitation film starring Pam Grier and Margaret Markov

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Joining the 'Arena Race' Part 2

Construction has progressed for my 'barbaric' wooden arena set in the outer fringes and frontier outpost of the Republic / Empire. Images that inspired me from recent films like Centurion has given me great ideas for the overall look and feel.

I love all the look of the rough hewn timber. 
With these images fresh in my mind and those lessons learned from the massing model I then incorporated improvements to the finish model. Namely a taller height for the Governor's Box. It makes the addition of the portcullis gate opening more proportional thus allowing me to add more details and embellishments to this structure. 

Available foam that I had laying around in my scrap pile that forms the structural core to be clad in wood. 

Thankfully, this project has used most of my Popsicle sticks from the 80s.
For the Governor's Box, I decided to use pavers to represent an upgraded flooring material. Nothin' but the best for the Governor. BTW - material used for this was acquired from the Doll House department at my local craft store. They're sheets of embossed styrene that represent ceramic bathroom tiles.
Base color applied and ready for a much needed dry brushing and weathering. 
Side by side comparison: weather or not?
Dry bush and ink wash cycle (lather, rinse and repeat) to get the desired effect. Here's where the warping effect actually aided in the overall look and feel of weathered wood brought out by dry brushing. 
Almost done.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Joining the 'Arena Race' Part 1

With all the great examples and inspiration from both Hetairoi ( and Soldat ( of recently completed arenas I realized that I needed to build my very own! I was fortunate enough to have played in Soldat's arena which he brought over for game day last week ( At that point I was hooked and sorely convinced that I needed to start abuilding.

First things first, deciding on the general shape of my arena. Having played on Soldat's arena taught me a few lessons. Its rectilinear shape made more practical sense. I also wanted to model the viewing stands and Governor's Box on just the one side for ease of playing. Finally, I didn't want to build things that I didn't feel necessary especially if it could be represented by alternate means and can be easily acquired. 

For my arena floor I chose a cork bulletin board with a very fine cork texture because:  
  1. the rectilinear shape allowed for better storage and portability,
  2. it had a big enough area for my minis to battle in,
  3. the color and texture of the cork simulated sand very well
  4. and it's premade. :D
Bottom line: it satisfied my criteria from a purely functional, practical and aesthetic stand point. And you know I'm all about the eye candy.
17" x 23" Bulletin Board easily available at most craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Forgive the lack of focus.

Relative to the recent and excellent examples mentioned above I also wanted to model my arena on the outer fringes of the Republic / Empire. Some backwater hellhole and outpost on the frontier bordering the barbarian lands. 

What that translates to, IMHO, is an arena mostly constructed of wood with minimal stone or marble since those materials would be slated (pun intended) for priority items such as walls and the Governor's villa.
Foam mock-up and massing model.
Close up of the Governor's Box.

Materials - Popsicle sticks I've had since the 80s and other assorted wood bits, fabric and other miscellaneous items I've found at my local craft store. 
Very important tool and an absolute must for scratch build projects. 
Detail studies.
Palisade and portcullis.
After the obligatory massing model was completed and studies done I proceeded to the construction of the actual stadium stands.

If you look carefully, you can see the mock up and massing model beyond.
Stands completed and ready for painting.
Warping was unavoidable but a welcome effect nonetheless.

Construction continues in earnest...


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