Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Slow Progress - But A Good Day - And A Rant

I was enjoying myself too much on Tuesday  to do much painting or much of anything else really and yesterday, well I think I just fell asleep. This was supposed to be Tuesday's post but what the hell. It was only really been late last evening that I have managed to get down to painting. This seems to be much like the old days. Even so I managed to get a few colours down and all twenty five figures for the week now have some paint on them. Today I have faired a little better so far and things seems like they are going well. I might get the first batch of the Home Guard done relatively quickly.
Some progress but still a bit too blobby fora closeup
Some of my time has been spent on doing some work on my Viking game. Specifically rules for slaves, or thralls in this game. It made me kind of awkward. Part of me knows it's just a game that I am trying to recreate an ancient world in. ANother part of me knows that there are a few people that would object to the whole idea. Don't get me started on religion. I fell short on doing some things that were bound to offend some people.

Then I think what I am trying to do is recreate a world as it would have been a thousand years ago. It's not a world I want but it is what the world was like back then. For some reason I take exception to rewriting the world. making the world that used to be something different in whatever form of drama, takes something away from it. I watched the new Mary Poppins recently. For sake of an argument we will say it was set a hundred years ago. In that movie, a male of African origin played a nice bank employee. All well and good in the modern world. Back in the world of the time Mary Poppins was set, it seems doubtful they would have been allowed to enter many banks. It's tragic, but that was the way it was. Rewriting history takes away from the struggles and the people that stood up for their rights by making it look like the world was a much nicer place back then.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Beginning Of A New Week - Just A Quick One

Just a quick one today. This is post 900 in seven hundred years so I am relatively impressed with myself. It's rare that I stick with anything this long. My hope now is to get a thousand posts in this year.

I have done a few faces but little actual painting. Mainly it's been prepping and priming. Here is where I would probably be posting some pictures but for various reasons I am without a phone charger so I can't upload anything. When I get round to it I will post some pictures so there may be an update soon.
Aforementioned update
Another twenty five figures to do this week and another mixed bag. I have a load of Home Guard to do so I thought I would start out by doing the ones with helmets. The rest are mainly odds and sods. I think one is a Frostgrave figure, two are CP Models dwarves and the rest are Pulp Miniatures.

Blood Bowl might also see some progress this week if I get through these. The Home Guard should be relatively quick. Maybe there will be a chance to move on. The Chaos All Stars are ready to go and just need priming.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The End Of Another Week - The Catch Up Continues (25)

The New, New Cruelty is very happy with me this week. I have hit practically all my targets and exceeded. Obviously you are not too interested in most of them but as far as figure painting has gone I have done pretty well. Twenty five more figures down and set against the tally for the year. I would like to be at 80 and could settle for 40. Another two weeks of producing at this level would mean that I have caught up with wear I want to be.

At the beginning of the week I was starting to get a little discouraged with the Stormtroopers I wanted to paint. There is a good solid plan for these soI am relatively well motivated to pint them. White is not my favourite to paint. this time around I think I have managed a fairly good job of it. I am not saying that I couldn't put some more effort in and improve these but for now at least they are good enough. These have been painted for an RPG so I doubt i will be painting more any time soon although it looks to me that there will be plenty more Star Wars stuff in the pipeline. These are a relatively recent gift so to my mind haven't made a big dent in the mountain.

For most of the stuff I paint I have a solid and clear plan. With these Frank figures this is not really the case. When I got them they were, and still are, going to be bad guys. I think I probably brought too many. Still they were there and I wanted something to paint. The Frank models have been sat around for at least two years if not more soI am happy that brings them to my attention.

The week ahead sees another mixed bag. There are 14 28mm figures above and a few larger figures below that are my main queue. There are some primed Home Guard I could move on to and some Blood Bowl stuff if needed.

All in all things are on the up.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

What Next?

So I am in the middle of the biggest painting binge I can remember and I am worrying about my mojo going. It's not quite irony but I can't think what else to call it.

I was saying that I have been enjoying painting figures for my Viking game. Viking history has been a big part of my life during this process too and I have learned a lot and enjoyed the process. Over the years gaming has caused me to do a lot of reading especially in the area of history so it has to be a good thing. So I guess I am looking for the next thing to catch my imagination

Part of me wants to say that I am running out of figures to paint for this game (I think have painted at least 550 figures so far). Obviously I am not running out of figures. No figure painter ever does. There are boxes of the things, some older than most of the gamers I know.

The thing is what I have isn't lighting my candle much into a few weeks away. Having been subject to the random shaftathon that is life I have gone from being relatively wealthy to being the poorest I have ever been. Taking inflation into account I haven't been this poor since I was a student.

Now is the time to look back at my annual plan. Titansgrave (with some double use for Shadowrun) is on my mind and I like the idea of painting this. At the moment I have no players that are interested this game so it isn't lighting my fire. Post-apocalypse is lighting my fire but I don't think I have figures to paint. I have plenty of plastic Frostgrave stuff but again I don't have a game to run and they don   't fit with the dark-age vibe of the Viking game or anything else. Some of the gnolls were expected to go into Titansgrave but, well, erm...meh. General fantasy is a way to go but I lack the energy and enthusiasm for this. X-Com is still floating around and whilst I would be happy to work on that I don't think I have any actual figures for that project. I have a load of Star wars Legion rebels to do. My plan was to convert a load of them so they were more useful for an RPG I just can't find the stuff  I need to convert them as almost everything is still in boxes.

Last year saw my worst ever output in terms of figure painting and the start of this year hasn't been good either. My plan, for now at least, is to catch up for the year so quick wins would be nice. There are a ton of zombie and zombie related figures to do. These should be reasonably quick. This is kind of more appealing. A few months ago I primed a load of Home Guard. These two should be fairly quick. There are a couple of Blood Bowl teams ready to go but this will take a lot of work so not a quick win.

So the time where I am looking into the lead (and resin and plastic) mountain is here. Having made a lot of inroads into the mountain in the last few years I feel I should be working on that (especially as this needs to be a frugal year). Somehow I can't help but think there is a new project out there for me.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Clearly The Bad Guys - Frankish Warriors

Tired of Stormtroopers today. Will come back to them soon.

In the fantasy RPG game based in the Viking era the Franks are a bit of a hard luck story (imagine a Frank being a hard luck story 😕 because I can't). They are being hammered by all their neighbours except those to the North and they hate them more than anyone else. The only thing between the Northmen and the Franks is the heavily defended pass and the biggest actively defended wall in all of Europe. It is also the only way they have to go without killing their own.

I wanted a barbarian like race in the Viking game (it's good enough for Skyrim). The models themselves are Roman era Germanic tribesmen so in many ways close enough in geography and equipment to what was probably there at the time. Not so outrageous that they wouldn't look out out place in a Conan film or even Thrud the Barbarian either (way to D&D for me).
Part of my plan for the game involves running a mass battle system. One of the battles would be the war against the Franks as they try to slip over the border to get away from their impending doom at the hands of the Carolingians. These figures have been in the queue for a while.

I got these a few years ago with the idea of using them as bad guys for the game and painted about thirty. These are what is left. Not sure the plan would be to get any more but who knows. See how the game goes. This game has taken up most of my painting time since mid 2013 and still seems to draw me back to it.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Progress on the Stormtroopers

I don't seem to have done much other than painting white today. My love of Star Wars as a child was legendary this process is testing that love at the moment. There has been a little bit of progress since then and I guess I could now paint the base rims, do  a bit of touching up and a few more details and I could call them done. A bit more work would get them above tabletop standard. I am probably going to move on to something else tomorrow but I will probably come back to these at the end of the week.
If I get what I have on the bench done (including what I am starting tomorrow) that will be fifty five figures completed in two weeks. This would be almost a record if not an actual personal best. By my reckoning I am now doing better than my minimum expectation for the year although I am still a little way off what I have aspired to.  Another couple of weeks of this rate of production would see me caught up. The other stuff I have to do is a little less inspiring or a lot more intensive which will make catching up a little harder.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

How Much Do I Hate Painting White? - Or Stormtroopers Part 3

I haven't painted anything involving this much white in a long time. Come to think of it possibly ever. the are two reasons for this. 1) There isn't actually that much that is mostly pure white and 2) It's such an awkward colour and I normally don't forget this fact which I have since I started this project. Still better than yellow I guess. It didn't really start out as a project for me either. A friend was running Star Wars and the figures were a bit limited as they were using either tokens of the old Star Wars Miniatures game figures which I personally hate.
Still in need of a bit of work
So the Stormtroopers. Too much damn white. They are primed, details and washed. I am shading the white which is taking an age. This is a little discouraging. Even more so is the fact that I am probably going to have to do the whole process again although that should hopefully be a briefer process. Then I will have to look at basing them and I would be much happier basing the on discs or 2p coins as this takes much less time.
The truth is I am never going to be happy with them. At the moment I am hoping that I will get to the stage that I am happy enough.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Modernish Barricades

The post apocalypse is never far from my mind, at least in a gaming sense. Despite Bethesda recently ruining my gaming experience, I do not feel that the world is about to end. I think my interest goes back to reading The Postman by David Brin after reading a review in White Dwarf of all places. A quick reading and rereading of Day of the Triffids and I am kind of a fan of the genre. Zombies and nuclear war seem to be my preferred way to end the world. The Walking Dead and Fallout out gave been my most recent influences in tabletop gaming but I have a lot of love for ideas from the old RPG Aftermath and almost anything done George Romero and a number of other books and computer games.

Finding players has been hard in the past so I haven't pushed it. In there here and now things are not so bad on that score.  So I am looking at this as a possibility again so I figured it might be time to do something about it. I don't have many figures left to paint and those that I do have I can't find. What I can find is some terrain.

In the end (so to speak) it's close enough to the modern era that the terrain at least should be able to do double duty. What is available is a bit of a mixed bag. I wanted them to all tie together and look relatively uniform and with a lot of the longer I wanted a bit more stability and I wanted it to match what I had done in the past.If I do get X-Com off the ground this year I will need some terrain for that.I have medium terms plans for a zombie and one based in post nuclear war London. Part of me wants to get into 28mm modern but I have a few reservations about that.

I wanted a range of sizes some of which, if not all could be used as barricades and general scatter. Large quantities of tire piles seem to figure highly in a lot of games so I purchased some from Crooked Dice. These first four are produced by them although there is a crate found in my bit's box (I have no idea who by) added to make up the length. Then is is also an oil drum which I think is Tamiya.

The crowd barriers are from Ainsty Casting. I love these guys for terrain. Hopefully these will hold up to the punishment but will need to be carefully look after.
Most of what I have to hand is from Mantic's The Walking Dead : All Out War. Nice details on the terrain as I am starting to expect from Mantic. Some have been added to with stuff that I have handing around to make up the length. Some of the barrels are from a Tamiya kit I got back in the 1980's and other bits have been around for well over a decade. It's nice to get some of things used rather than just hanging around.
In total there is just short of three feet/ninety centimetres of stuff. It's never enough but it's a distinct improvement. I have some Mantic supply tokens to be done. These are a lot smaller but have a bit more detail. Think these will be a project for next week as I expect the Stormtroopers are going to take a lot of work.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Stormtroopers - Part Deux

Not much of an update today. I have primed the stormtroopers. A base coat of a light grey followed by a good hard zenithal coat of white. Hopefully this will give them a bit of pre-shading so I won't have to go overboard on the washes. Then I did the black bits and that's where I am.
Still way too much like Mr Blobby for a closeup
Things look like they are progressing for me so hopefully I will get these done pretty quickly. The big man is in the background. I need some black primer which I haven't got. I have painted a few things primed in blackin the last year or so but they were probably primed a decade ago. Will have to go out and get some.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

End Of The Week - Back In The Saddle (32)

For a while Sunday evening was the time that I looked back at the progress of the week. Progress has been somewhat limited in the last year since moving out of my last home. This has been a major disappointment for me but I just haven't had anywhere to paint. Now I do and I have gone at it with some gusto this week.

My plan, according to The New, New Cruelty is to catch up on my planned painting schedule. This is a minimum of five figures per week with hopefully ten figures per week and this must include catching up on the figures I have missed already this year. So I have managed to finish thirty figures. This has got to be my best week ever. If I am looking at five figures then I am already almost caught up, if not I am now up to date for February. If I can keep the pace up for a couple of weeks I will be more or less up to date.

A few years ago I was planning on running a Weird War Two involving time travel. These were some of the figures I got for that. They are Nacht Jager are from Artizan Designs I think. They got put into the queue last year when painting was on my mind again. So they got primed and have sat there since November. It would be nice to have a couple more packs of them.

My plan at the time called for some quick wins and as well as painting the Germans in armour I have some Home Guard figures to paint. So when it came to priming them in British uniform I sprayed a load of other figures in the same colour. This includes all of The Department of Paranormal Studies by Artizan and I the others are by Pulp Figures. These are first to come under the brush was some figures planned for Weird War Two. Some scientist types and a few others.
There were also some civilian figures which I think are Warlord French Resistance figures. Partly for weird war Two and maybe for Very British Civil War. As I wanted a bit of variety in the ten I only painted three in British uniform.
In the queue was one Frostgrave figure. Not my favourite on the range which  is probably why it hasn't been painted yet. I need to replace the sword as I have managed to drop it and badly mangle it in the painting process.
Every now and again I come across a figure that I hate painting and worse still hate the finished item. When I look at it I think in terms of holding on to it, hiding it or taking a hammer to it (a nerdy version of the TV show Snog Marry Avoid).  This is a Reaper Bones figure which I usually like. the quality is rubbish and the detail is soft. It looks like it should have come out of a mid-noughties board game. Size wise it doesn't fit with anything. Currently I am thinking of hiding it.
In the same colour batch I did some more Viking game figures. These are a bit of a mixed bag. Some are Celtic figures from Conquest Games (it is a bit of a North Star fest tonight). They were purchased because they fit my concept of Franks for the Viking game (which is nothing like what they were but it's a fantasy game and it works for me). I assume they are sculpted by Mark Copplestone who is a designer I really like. Sadly one of the slinger poses seems to have a dodgy hand. Other bits I think are Gripping Beast.

More of the Conquest Games celtic figures again. This time done in a different painting style. More wash than paint here.

I have done a fair bit of prep for next week. The Stormtroopers I prepped a few weeks ago are primed and ready to go. I have some more Franks to do which I will do in the same "wash style". I have also prepped some post apocalypse/modern scatter terrain. There is a plan to have a play about with some older terrain and update it a little.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Dick Churchill

As a kid I watched the film of The Great Escape pretty much every year. It was a Christmas staple. The message I took from it was that in times of turmoil take solace in your purpose and quietly raise a couple of fingers at those who would do you down. There was a print out of the poster for the film on my wall for many years. I guess it is a nice piece of fiction. Whistling "Colonel Bogey" became a habit of mine when dealing with crap at work (my whistling is so bad nobody ever knew).

But a fiction it was in the most part. One of the truths in it was that many of the escapees were murdered by the Nazis. The first time I saw the film my jaw dropped. Unlike some of the other details in the film this bit was true.

Not many got to safety and of those that didn't not many survived. Dick Churchill was a damned lucky man by his own account. Of the seventy six men that escaped seventy three were recaptured. Churchill considered himself lucky that he was not one of fifty that were executed. Sharing a surname with the then Prime Minister led to the Germans decision not to have him shot, saving him for possible leverage later on.

Despite the loss of life he felt the break out was worth the cost. Churchill had been a squadron leader and flew in medium bombers. He wanted to get out and get back into the war. This was despite the terror of going through the tunnel. I get the feeling from listening to him that he felt that there were times that things needed to be done and when it came they should be done properly.

It is true to say that most of my heroes are anything but. Dick Churchill however was a great man, if a little lucky.

The New, New Cruelty

About two years ago I came up with an idea to motivate myself. It is easy for me to focus on somethings and not on others and in the round I know I need to give a little time to all. For me this became difficult  soI set myself a list of things to do each week with the intention of keeping to most of them, most of the time. Nothing too slavish but enough to give me a steer on what I should be doing. I called this The New Cruelty. The name comes from a Nazi themed restaurant In Steve Martin's fim, L.A. Story which is one of my all time fave films. It features Patrick Stewart (yes the guy that played Picard) as the maitre'd barking at guests and telling them what they could and could not have off the menu.

So as I am turning things around with the blog it made me think about the idea and that maybe it was time to revamp it. Things have changed in my life so things have probably changed with my approach to the New Cruelty.

1) Paint five 28mm figures (minimum) in a week or the equivalent thereof in other scales. By the end of the year I must have caught up on what I have missed so there must be at least 260 figures complete.  I aim to get ten per week done. 
2) Participate in at least one game of something per week be that wargame, RPG or board game.
3) Surf the net for less than four two hours a day (ouch). Tougher one than last time I was looking at this. Anything relating to my blog does not count.
4) Exercise is something I need to keep up with. I have a target on the FitBit. Whilst it is acceptable to miss targets on any given day I will meet the overall target for the week. I can't take the dog for a good long walk any more as the ex got custody of the dog.
5) Write ten blog posts per month. It was once per day when I initially started this but that was the idea for the year that year. No way I can keep up that pace. If at all possible and I can do a post around every other day I will get to a thousand posts by the end of the year.
6) Stop intending to do things and do things instead (well this still stands although I feel I have got more of a handle on things at the moment). 
7) Work out and stick to a morning and night time ritual.
8) Take vitamins etc.
9) If there is something that I need to do, write in a blog post so that it will get done (this is perhaps the most painful aspect of The New Cruelty).
10) Do something every day that helps me find a job and that advances one of my life goals.
11) Get out of the house and do something interesting or worthwhile at least once per week.
12) Eat less crap.

So some stuff has changed but maybe not too much. My life priorities are still pretty much the same with the exception of the last three points. Maybe I need to tighten this up a bit so I can use it a little better. Maybe next week.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Shedding Light (Well Lamps)

My eyesight seems to be getting worse. A few years ago I started to need reading glasses and it was never much good anyway. I have been using a magnifying lamp for years and this helps my figure painting become acceptable rather than a bit blobby. Still, I do okay I think.

When I was in the process of setting up the table I went to find my old lamp. The picture below shows you what I found. it was a bit of a blow. It was a great lamp. Good magnification and the anglepoise made it pretty much perfect. On top of that it was mispriced when I got it and it cost less than half price. An absolute bargain. It's well over ten years old and has seen some action.
Even more of a blow as I am a little short of money at the moment. So it came as a pleasant surprise when I found this in Aldi for £20. It's a fair but smaller, not anglepoise and for the most part the magnification is not quite as good.

Cheap has a quality all of its own. For something this cheap it works well enough. There is enough posability to make it work. The lens, although not massive is comfortable and has a sweet spot which, whilst small, is probably better than what I had. All in all a good waste of £20. If you need a lamp it is well worth the money.

I did find a couple of alternatives at Hobbycraft. they do look much better but are more exspensive

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Operation Clear Out

Every now and again I come across that something that reminds me of how old I am and how far I have come. When it happens I always have a little bit of a smile on my face. It is now time to get rid of some of the stuff that I am never going to use again.

Perhaps I am beginning to think I might have a slight hoarding problem. Not a massive one but maybe enough that I need to have a clear out. So I have been doing this for the last few weeks. It has been hard for some of it and maybe not so hard for others. This was perhaps not so hard but it did make me think back.

Some of what I have is stuff that belonged to my mum and dad but the majority is mine. Some good memories and some not so good. One of the things I found was a box of terrain. It is all stuff that has been sat in a box for at least fifteen years. As I probably wouldn't use it now, my skills have moved on a bit, I don't really play the game I made it for anymore, I thought it was time to get rid.

The first to go are some hedges and stone walls. I am pretty sure that this was the first actual wargame terrain I ever made. This dates it to about 1983 or maybe 1984. When I realised that I had a bit of a shock. It last came out of a box in anger  in the last millenium. On top of that the hedging is starting to disintegrate. It did get a lot of use at one point and way back when it was pretty good compared to what my mates were using. Still time to go.

A fair bit later I got into playing Command Decision. Whilst initially it was all 1/300 World War 2 I got into my own Spanish Civil War game which was in 15mm. I built a load of entrenchments for it (the thing on the right). The wooden walls are actually an imprint of a plastic railway fence cut to the right size. The green flocked bases were barbed wire sections which I think I made with fuse wire and later replaced it with the wire often used for barbed wire. It has been a long time since I used flock and Basetex for basing stuff and I can see why.

Having come on a long way and having long since seen it's prime it is time to go. I am a little sad to see it go but the time has come.

Monday, 11 February 2019

A New Workbench

I have been without a workbench for almost a year now. Post clearout I now have some space for a workbench in my bedroom. Whilst it's not what I want I guess it's close enough. To be fair, I have never had what I want so I think this will do for now.
Right now I can see a point in the future where I will look back on this day and be complaining that I don't have enough space, as much space or any space at all. In the meantime I should be thankful for small mercies.

Looking back at some of the iterations of the bench (here, here and here) including looking at the background for the page I am pretty sure that this is not the best. But I am happy that I have something.

These a few pictures if you are interested.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

End Of The Week - The First In A While

I have been wanting to post for a few days now as things start to be changing around for me. Over the course of the last few weeks I have been decrappifying my life. To date I think I have filled up the car six times with stuff that seems to have been taking up space in my home. Some of it belonged to my parents but it would be a lie to blame it all on them. There have been a few things I think I will miss but to be honest I think that there is very little that I had an emotional link to and the amount of stuff I have been keeping just in case I need it was getting crazy. Still, I don't feel like a hoarder just that I don't like throwing away things I might use some day. Maybe this explains why many gamers have mountains of stuff in boxes for games they are never going to get round to playing.

Last week I went to Vapnartak in York. At the moment I am not flush with cash but I did manage to come away with a few bits and pieces which have also given me the urge to get things moving again. Couple this with the fact that I am running an RPG at the moment I guess there was not going to be a better time to start painting again.

It is not that I have been doing nothing. A few weeks ago I was working on putting some Stormtroopers together. Along the way I started a few other projects that I didn't post about but I should do something about that in the days to come.

Some of the stuff that has gone has been furniture. This has allowed me to find a space for a workbench again. Whilst it isn't the ideal space (whatever is) it is better than what I had before which was round about nothing.  I am just grateful for a chance to paint again. It has almost been a year since I painted anything and I have been missing it badly.

There is still a lot of stuff for me to do. Not least of which is find a job. My sense is that I am definitely on the up at the moment. The clearout has lifted some weight from my shoulders and reminded me of what I have. As well as the painting I have found some XBOX games so I will hopefully find the time to play some of them as well.

With all of the good stuff I have to say I am thankful for the support that I have gotten and this has been instrumental in getting things done. Hopefully I will be looking back at this post some day and remember why I was thankful.

Maybe I need to be looking back at The New Cruelty and revisit what motivates me.