Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 was a good year in miniatures

Over on my 'gaming' blog, http://modernappendixn.blogspot.com/2013/12/onward-to-2014.html, I talk about why I hated 2013. For gaming and well, life.

But miniature wise? There were some problems but those were relatively small.

For me, the biggest problem is Kickstarter. Companies being late, companies having crappy quality control, companies just being bad businesses.

But one of the big wins was also some late delivered Kickstarters. For example, Stone Heaven Miniatures came out of no where and kicked ass multiple times. They haven't been afraid to listen to customer feedback and haven't been afraid to switch things up.

But overall, it was more a feeling of awesome things coming out.

Games Workshop for example, man they get punched in the face all the time. I'm sure it's in part for being the big dog but in part its because of crappy products. When Privateer Press decided to jump on the 'restic' bandwagon, yeah, the quality of things took a huge crap in the customer service dumper and there has been a lot of flak flying back their way, rightfully so because of it.

But those were, for me at least, small things. Games Workshop coming out with 'technical paints' for different special effects? Yes, a lot of people can achieve those effects already, sometimes just with some thinning agents or careful color selection. But for those who don't care about that and just want to dip a brush into the paint and go? Right on.

Vallejo came out with several new products this year. Right on for them.

Scale 75 came out with a boxed set and several themed painting sets. Excellent work.

There were a ton of great figures that also came out. This doesn't count the delivery of Kickstarter products to the retail channel like some of the Bombshell Sidekicks or Reaper Bones or Center Stage Miniatures Demons and Devils.

There were a lot of efforts at new products like double ended paint brushes. For me, the quality of them was terrible but the price wasn't bad, and they were on time. Neutral.

For others, who were smart enough to get in on them, Miercer miniatures delivered the goods in a huge way with their Kickstarter.

It seemed that for miniatures, Kickstarter was the way to go for a lot of things.

For me, I've cut way back on supporting them. It's not that there isn't some awesome things going on, but look at Redbox. This guy is a fantastic sculptor, but his first Kickstarter, from his last post, sounds like the death knell of the company. Innovation is not necessarily paved on the path of the best and brightest and most enthusiastic, but the bones of those who went before it would appear.

Speaking of Bones, I'm waiting for an announcement that some company is licensing the material. Let me be clear, I'm not starting a rumor, I don't know any company currently doing it, but the price point is too sweet and the potential benefit of using an already established partner too clear as opposed to trying to use say, Trollcast as a viable alternative to metal.

And it's not that I love Bones. The price is good, but I'm not impressed with the detail of the figures. This doesn't mean there aren't many positives. For example, you can easily cut and modify Bones as opposed to say, metal. You don't feel, well, I don't feel terrible if I mess up a paint job on a Bones figure. And of course again, the affordability. The price of metals and resins has quickly escaped the industry.

While 2013 sucked in a lot of ways for me personally, painting wise it was great and I hope that 2014 brings even better times.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Amon and Winter Wolf

Amon, a Duke of Hell in the old Dungeons and Dragons mythology, and his Winter Wolf companion are relatively simple miniatures sculpted by the talented Jason Wiebe whose done work for Reaper and other miniature companies. The 'official' paint job on Amon seemed more Oriental Adventurers to me, but I figure he's got a Winter Wolf companion so I didn't think the black would be appropriate and for some reason, I quickly made up a bad story in my head about Amon being one of the fiercest hunters in his tribe but not for noble reasons. Not as a protector. He did it for the thrill, for the challenge of the hunt and it lead to the destruction of his own people so when the opportunity came to become something more, he took it and joined those things in the outer planes as something more than human.

Both pieces are resin and very light weight. Both are on 40mm bases.The wolf for the most part is mold line free. Amon on the other hand has a few bits here and there and I would recommend after giving him a base primer coat, that you go over him with a fine tooth nail because the mold lines were so fine, I didn't catch them until I had thrown a few coats on, and if you've read my blog before, you may realize that I'm lazy so those mold lines are still there for those who look carefully.

The sculpting detail on both is great and the Winter Wolf, much like the Cheese, can stand alone. On the other hand, I don't see it being sold separately and I don't think anyone wants to pay $29.95 just for the wolf. Amon's wolf headed hammer could probably be straightened out too as it's resin and an application of some hot water would probably allow me to do that. However, I like the idea of a weapon where the haft is bending due to the weight of the weapon so didn't correct that.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Horned Devil One and Horned Devil Two from Center Stage Miniatures

A few days off means I get to torture your eyes with bad painting and bad photography! In this case, it's a few more models from the 28mm Demons and Devils Kickstarter by Center Stage Miniatures.

Horned Devil 1

Ah, my camera skills continue to, what is the word? Ah yes, suck. This happy little fellow is metal and comes in five parts. The left hand holding the fork is one piece, each wing is one separate piece, the main body, and the base.

Assembly is probably best done with a pin vice. The wings, at least on my model, did not have any plugs for the holes in the devil's back. This required some brass rod and some drilling. The hand was flat enough that it could benefit from pinning, but I did not go that route.

The base is a 40mm one I believe. I didn't size comparison it to the one from Moloch or any of the other big boys.

In terms of appearance, I know that most players from say, 3rd edition on are going to wonder what type of Horned Devil is this supposed to be? The answer, like some of the other bits of inspiration, comes from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 1st edition. The pose here is very similar to the one in the Monster Manual although it doesn't have the scales.

Horned Devil 2

Now this one, despite my terrible camera skills, is probably what most people are expecting. The scaled version with the metal whip.

Each wing is a separate piece. Each wing, is in my opinion, too big. You might not notice it from the white background here, but those wings are touching the ground. I thought they would be too heavy to be in a mid air pose. They do come with slots and pins but could probably be further strengthened. I went the lazy route of course.

The head is another separate piece.

Each hand is a separate piece and the wrists are a little large for the hands. If you have the hands turned out like I do however, no one is going to know unless they look at it from the side.

The chain in each hand is attached to the hand proper and the links do not connect but each piece is thin enough that it should prove easy to quickly bend them into place. Gluing them might give them extra strength but I didn't see the need in this case.

The base is also separate here and again, I believe that it's a 40mm base.

I imagine that in resin, this guy would be a snap to put together. The winds weight wouldn't be an issue for example. The only negative I can think of would be how easy the chain was to bend into place.

The flash and mold lines were minimal on the figure. I could probably have done some more clean up on the wrists to blend the separate hands to the arms but again that whole I'm lazy thing hits. Details were well sculpted and someone with a lot of patience could really make the various scales pop.

On the Center Stage Miniatures website for example, is a very nicely painted version that's much darker then mine with a lava style base. This one is very modestly priced at $14.95. Good thing too as they are often encountered in groups!

In both instances I went with the Vallejo base and the Games Workshop multi-generational red paints.

Going through the red quite a bit with this Kickstarter!


Federico Genovese whose responsible for many figures in the Center Stage Miniatures Kickstarter I believe did both of these.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moloch from Center Stage Miniatures

Among the various Kickstarter projects that I have backed, the miniatures from Center Stage Miniatures 28mm Demons & Devils recently arrived. Among them was Moloch, one of the arch devils that has been in the Dungeons and Dragons pantheons for a long time.

The bad news for me was that I couldn't find anything that resembled this miniature in terms of design. Mind you, that isn't a knock against the miniature itself. When I first review a miniature, I tend to look it over in terms of what color I'm going to paint it. When say comparing this version of Moloch against Frog God Games and their version from the Complete Tome of Horrors, there is no match. When looking at Paizo and their version? Man, I WISH this looked like that version. That artist did a Moloch who is a gigantic armored tank.

Throwing a quick edit in here to note that thanks to a kind hearted soul, I've been informed that the look here is inspired by the Moloch from the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual II or yesteryear lore. Strangely enough, while I still have my Monster Manual I for AD&D, my II has long since passed this world. Maybe we'll get lucky and WoTC will do a premium reprint of that since they did Unearthed Arcana.

Mind you, there is nothing wrong with this version. Federico Genovese who I believe sculpted this puppy, did a great job of providing the buyer with a large resin miniature on a 50mm base. The muscle tone is well crafted and the lack of extraneous things like dozens of belt buckles, pouches, daggers, skulls, chains, and other bits that seem so common to some sculptors are thankfully missing here.

The miniature is three pieces. The main body contains head, torso, left arm and both legs. The base is a separate piece that you will need a knife to cut open to insert the tabbed figure into. The right hand holding the flaming whip, Moloch's signature weapon, is a separate piece. Because it is resin, it's a light weight piece and doesn't necessarily need to be pinned, but wouldn't be hurt by pinning.

Clean up on the miniature was minimal. I did clean the tab a bit to insure a proper fit and a few snips on the bracers but that was essentially it.

I primed the figure with Vallejo German Red-Brown and followed up with three generations of Citadel paint. I provided a almost complete basecoast of Mechrite Red, one of the 'new' Foundation paints. I then used in lesser degree, Mephiston red, the new paint. The final layer was Blood Red, one of the oldest paints by Games Workshop that I still own but still in the small bottles. The gold was done with Vallejo Alcohol gold with a wash of GW's Sepia and more GW pain for the talons and teeth and whip. I made the eyes a dark blue because I read either in the Tome of Horrors or the Paizo book of the Hells that his eyes were blue.

While I could have thrown a few washes on him to darken the red or a few coats of red ink to enhance the red tone overall, since I don't have any planes for Moloch to be a power players in any games any time soon and I just wanted a 'win' in the complete column, I was happy to finish him off at this stage.

The base is Army Painter flock with army painter tufts. I do have the Games Workshop ones, but for some reason the glue on the bottom of those continues to stick out like a sore thumb after their put down and unless their put down first, it is really a sorry site to see. I gave the dark gravel a few drybrushes of progressively lighter grays to give it some contrast.

While I may not use this figure as Moloch proper, depending on what setting I run next, if ever, I would have no problem using this figure, which fits snuggly on its 50mm base as a chaos giant say, one of the variants from Mayfair's old Role Aid line that were corrupted titans, or a fire giant wizard or even a effereti or some other type of otherworldly servant. While it doesn't scream Moloch to me, it does scream big friggin miniature.

I'm working on a few others now including the two Horned Devils and others. Has anyone else started working on their Center Stage Miniatures backlog? Any favorites thus far? Any avoid at all costs? Any assembly problems?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tome of Horrors Miniatures I'd Like To See for next Kickstarter

Well, the Center Stage Miniatures company seems to be on the right track. A lot of people, including myself, have received their goods from the first Kickstarter as well as other things, like the gigantic frog demon that was up for preorder.

But they've already given the backers of the Tome of Horrors a quick heads up that it's going to be late AFTER they asked everyone to finalize their orders and collected funds for shipping and handling.

That part there pisses me off. It means their sitting on money that they know they're not going to use for months. Don't misunderstand me, it's not just Center Stage Miniatures that's done that particular bit. "Well, you know, we want to make sure that we have everything in place" is a perfectly valid thing if you know, you're shipping out on time or soon after that. It's not quite so useful if you're shipping out months and months after that.

Anyway, enough belly aching. I was looking at Moloch from the Center Stage 28mm Demons and Devil's Kickstarter. Yeah, probably won't be using him as Moloch as it doesn't match the version from the Tome of Horrors nor the one from Pathfinder. The one from Pathfinder by the way, is visually very kick ass.

But as I wandered through the Tome of Horrors Complete, I thought, man, there are still a lot of monsters I want to see.

Adherer: I know, you can always use a mummy for this, but hey, the reverse is also true. You can use an adherer for a mummy!

Cat Lord: Human and Panther Form.

Bat: Mobat or doombat. I need more giant bats damn it.

Colossus Jade: Man, that lord of demons they did for the 28mm thing in resin is fantastic. If they can get the same guy to do the Jade Colossus as they did that sucker it would be fantastic but a hell of an add on. A center piece for sure.

Demonic Knight: aka the Death Knight. The one in the book has a great look and if the picture is captured in metal, it would make a great leader type in Warhammer and other fantasy games.

I would go into devils, but the Unique Devils section of Tome of Horrors deserves its own Kick Starter as there are so many great illustrations and personalities there.

Elemental Dragon Water and Air not because they look awesome or fill out some unique niche in the game, but seeing the glass drake that Center Stage Miniatures did for their Tome of Horrors Kickstarter, I can easily see a blue resin and another clear resin miniature that would both bee awesome.

Flind: Hey, we need a leader for the gnolls that Center Stage Miniature first put out exclusively through Facebook right?

Giant: All. Hey, I'm a fan of the old Grenadier Giant of the Month and wish I managed to keep those from when I was a young man. Wood Giant? Awesome. Make it so.

Golem: There are a few I like. For example, the Mummy Golem. With some ancient Egyptian styling, I can see this going to a Tomb Lords game for example.

Half-Ogre: If they could capture the picture, I'd be down for that one. He looks like a trouble maker I say!

Huggermugger: A small humanoid with swords? Yeah. Could be used for quite a few things like halflings, gnomes, and other small races.

Ronus: These are egale headed hounds You would need a pack of them though. Great combination and reminds me of some of the monsters from Michael Moorcock's Elric saga via the Dharzi Hunting dogs.

Skeleton Warrior: A classic and easy to use for other purposes.

The N'gathau: Really these guys deserve their own Kickstarter. Some very Hellraiser inspired bits here.

Mind you, I haven't picked up the new Tome of Horrors and there are a lot of things I left out of here that would be a PIA to make due to their size or simply because I'll probably revise the subject yet again when/if another Kickstarter comes around.

How about other people Any particular monsters you want to see sculpted from the old Tome?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Center Stage Miniatures: Fog Giant, Mountain Giant, Friblog Giant Reviews

The above represent three figures I received from Center Stage Miniatures for their 28mm Demons and Devil Kickstarter. But Joe I hear you say, those aren't demons, their giants! Yes, I ordered some of the existing stock. I have a fondness for giants but due to their size, their often very expensive. The Kickstarter had them for a nice sale price. Note the Fog Giant is missing but from left to right we have the mountain giant and two friblogs. The friblogs are a little tall for my taste as my recollection of them is kind of like 'noble hill giants' but not quite so stupid. The mountain giant on the other hand is a nice side.

My problem if you will in the sculpts is the wide leg stance on the mountain giant and the middle friblog. The fog giant has the same 'issue'. Mind you, this isn't a problem in terms of the pose. I find them all in good stance. The problem is that the width of the leg stance forces them to go on larger and ever larger bases which I could hold off on when possible.

The figures are light on detail. This means that their quick to paint. I got the set Monday and finished these four off today. I love some figures from Werne and Tre but man, belt buckles, skulls, ropes, straps, bones, and lord knows what else are hanging from them. These have a few pouches and belt but nothing crazy.

In terms of figure preparation, they were 'dirty'. It wasn't lead rot, they weren't crumbling or anything like that, but there was a lot of mold release agent or something on them. I would recommend some fine sandpaper, some files for the easily reached areas and a nice wash of warm water and soap. I probably could have did a better job on these guys in terms of cleaning but

For assembly, each figure had one connection point except the fog giant. For the fog giant, it was the hands to the two handed sword. The body and legs, up to the pelvis, are also separate. Pinning that would make for a good strong connection. For the mountain giant, it was the arm with the club. The shoulder attaches to the body. For a good attachment, you might want to pin it. I brushed it down with sandpaper on both contact sides and just used the old superglue. The club runs along the shoulder so I popped some glue there as well. In all cases the fit was fine and didn't require any massive playing with or chopping or green stuff. For a lazy person like me, that's vital. I want to assemble and paint not assemble assemble assemble.

The middle friblog is similar with a join in the hand and leaning against the shoulder. The third one has two contact points, one for the hand to the wrist and one for the sword point to a point in the base itself.

Here we see the same figures, again minus the fog giant. The reason these three are together? Army Painter Barbarian Flesh primer. It's a great thing that you can just spray over the whole figure. Perfect for when the majority of the figure is one color, as in the case a lot of these figures were.

And as we see, I still can't take a picture to save my life. The flesh is mainly a few washes of Ogryn Flesh and Delvan Mud from GW with a few touch ups of the medium flesh color.

Regretably, more dark photos. It's like the three lights I have on top of them are not shedding normal light or something.

The fog giant is the largest of the bunch. He's also the one I used the least amount of actual paint on. His flesh is a light blue primer from Vallejo, followed up with some white primer. The armor is the old GW blue wash a few times with the studs picked out. The hair has nuln black wash thinned down while the belt is nuln black wash without being thinned down. The flesh was washed with the same blue wash but thinned down again to make it less blue.

With the right primer, you can cut out quite a few steps. The only thing? If using washes like I did to 'paint' the figure, be sure to put some protection on it between painting. I knocked the fog giant down once and rubbed off a whole bunch of ink causing me to have to repeat the layering process on those parts.