Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's Here!

I've been waiting for this kit since the 1/144 version was released by Fujimi four years ago, and it was leaked that Soar Art was preparing to make the 1/72 version.

I'm going to have to finish up a lot of my other projects before I can get to this though, since I don't have any room on my workbench to assemble it. I guess it will give me time to find a cheap copy of Gerhard Taube's Deutsche Eisenbahn Geschützen in the meantime.

Hopefully I'll have some time to look over the sprues on the weekend.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


For my Halloween post, I've decided to debut my near-finished first complete sculpt. The figure is the Tall Man from one of my favorite horror films, the 1979 cult classic Phantasm. I've always wanted a miniature of the Tall Man to use as one of the baddies in gaming, but I could never find a figure with the right look. I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and sculpt a figure myself.

More John Houseman than Angus Scrimm?

The arms are actually removable at the moment, because I wanted to cast up the body by itself so I could have the figure with different arm poses. I initially scaled the figure to 6'8" in height, because that was Angus Scrimm's actual height with 4" lifts, but I decided to go a little taller because he just didn't seem tall enough in 1/72 when compared to other figures. To go with the Tall Man, I rolled up some 1mm balls of Kneadatite to create sentinel spheres. The ball in his hand was glued to a short segment of clear sprue that was stretched over a flame.

Below is another silver sentinel spheres on a longer piece of sprue. Follwing it are two gold sentinel spheres which are just round head map pins painted in gold. I would have liked to find some 1mm round head pins for the silver spheres as well, but I couldn't find any (I know it is pedantic, but the silver spheres are smaller than the gold spheres). The paint was somewhat of an issue because I could not get the chrome-like finish on the spheres like in the films. I discovered that my "chrome" silver spray was not chrome silver, and that the metallic golds that I used was too dark. I gave the gold spheres a wash with a lighter colored gold, but it made the spheres lose their metallic luster.

This final picture is of Star Wars MicroMachines Jawas, which can be used as Lurkers - the compacted reanimated zombie slaves of the Tall Man. The first four poses of Jawas comes from the Jawas figure set (66076). The fifth Jawa came from one of the Mini Head sets, but I don't remember which one, and the final Jawa came from one of the large MicroMachines playsets, again I don't remember which one.

Now what do I do for a balding ice-cream man with a ponytail and shotgun?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

While the Vorpal Sword made it into the corpus of material associated with AD&D, the poor Jabberwock did not. Nevertheless, it is still a popular subject for fantasy miniatures. There are several versions of this beastie modeled after the Jabberwock illustrated by John Tenniel for Through the Looking Glass, but the classics are always the best in my mind.

Below are a Ral Partha Jabberwock (01-095) and a Citadel Jabberwock (Young Dragons & Other Monsters C29).

Scale creep has lead the Ral Partha Jabberwock to be dismissed as being too small, but it works perfectly for 1/72 scale. I believe that this version was also released by Citadel with a [possibly] different style of wings. The C29 Citadel Jabberwock is something I only recently became aware of, and is a new addition to my collection. I'm glad I found it because I wanted to paint up a Jabberwock in green, but didn't really want to have two Jabberwocks in the same pose.

Citadel Jabberwock with Ral Partha wings.

This next picture contains a Jubjub Bird from the Ral Partha Bandersnatch and Jubjub Bird set (01-122), a decapitated cat from Mega Miniatures, and Problem Child Alice from Hasslefree (HFA027J). The Jubjub Bird is just meh in my opinion, though I really like the head(s) and the way the feathers are sculpted. I would have loved it if the body was that of a large hunting bird like Gastornis. The cat on the other hand, was originally going to be the recipient of a new head that I sculpted (modeled after the Tenniel Cheshire Cat), but in an ironic reversal, the head flew off and vanished into thin air when I was pinning it to attach to the cat body. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to get it back from the Carpet Monster. Finally there's Alice, who is too big to be a Lewis Carroll Alice, but may work as an American McGee Alice (especially with the butcher knife).

"I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Tribe of Moro

This is the final installation on miniatures that can be used as Forest Gods, and covers the giant wolves belonging to the Tribe of Moro.

The first miniature below, is Fenris Wolf from the Marvel HeroClix line (Hammer of Thor #46). I really liked the way this wolf was sculpted, and the look is really close to the character design for Moro in the movie, but it is much too large for a 1/72 representation. The second miniature is a Vampire Dire Wolf (Unhallowed #59) from the Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures line. The figure has a bit more bulk than I would have liked, and the slavering jaws are a bit too wide, but it wouldn't make for a bad representation of Moro either.

The first miniature in the next image below, is a Winter Wolf from the DDM line (Underdark #60). Somehow it did not look quite the same as the image that is used in the advertisements for it. The head has an odd appearance, and the limbs are very thick. Not a very good sculpt in my opinion. Also with the Winter Wolf are a Giant Wolf from the Legion of Darkness Wolf Pack set (RAFM 3200), and a Dire Wolf from Reaper (2415).

In this next image, is a Dire Wolf from the former Dazed Miniatures line. I believe that it will be available in a slightly modified form in the future from Acheson Creations under their Primaeval Designs line. It is followed by a Warg from the Grenadier Lord of the Rings line, and last is a Dire Wolf from the Horrorclix line (Base Set #019).

The next wolves are five of the seven wolves from the Ral Partha Wolf Pack set (01-035). This is a mix of wolves of different style, some of which appeared in other sets.

The image below compares a Mage Knight Glade Guardian, which is a plastic version of the Ral Partha wolf from the Wolf Pack set (above); a DDM Timber Wolf (Deathknell #27); a Great Wolf of the Night from Ral Partha (Wizards, Warriors, And Warlocks E691/W691); two wolves from the Reaper Wolf Pack (02830).

The final image begins with a Great Wolf from the Ral Partha Fantasy Collector Series; a Citadel Devil Dog (FF10-1); a Great Wolf from the Armies of Arcana line (formerly of Thane's Games and now available from Lone Gunman Games); a wolf from the Grenadier Wolfpack set (Fantasy Legends 3111); and a wolf from the Reaper Familiar Pack I (02018).

Even with this many choices, it was difficult to find a good representation for the wolves in the film. One of the main problems was the inconsistancy in size for the wolves in different scenes.

For my choice to represent Moro, it was either the Vampire Dire Wolf, or the Winter Wolf. Frankly, I felt the size of the Winter Wolf was probably closer to how big Moro should have been, but the miniature was just too ugly for me to use.

To convert the Vampire Dire Wolf into Moro, I chopped off the various spikes protruding from the wolf (I guess nowadays when a creature is labeled "dire," it is assumed to be both larger, and covered in spikes), and carved away some of the fur, so that the figure would look a bit leaner. A pin was inserted into the base of the spine as an armature, and a second tail was sculpted from Kneadatite.

The figure was then painted in white, and dry brushed with a yellowish off-white color.

For the two Sons of Moro, the choice was a bit harder. I picked three pairs of different sized wolves as candidates.

The first pair would be the Reaper or RAFM wolves. In some scenes, the Sons of Moro are depicted as being really huge, and these miniatures actually look the best in relation to the Vampire Dire Wolf as far as size is concerned.

The next pair would be the Grenadier Warg and Dazed Dire Wolf. This pair is really nice because of their dynamic running poses. They look fine in relation to the Vampire Dire Wolf, but they don't look good compared to human sized figures or the Gemsbok. Maybe it is because their heads look too big compared to the animated wolves.

The final pair are one wolf each from the Reaper and Ral Partha Wolf Pack sets. These two wolves look good in size compared to humans and the Gemsbok, but unfortunately they look too small compared to the Vampire Dire Wolf. They do however look in scale when posed with the Winter Wolf.

At the moment I'm leaning towards going with the final pair of wolves, but that means I'll need to find a replacement for Moro. Who makes a nice wolf that is about 30mm to the shoulder?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Tribe of Okkoto

As the film Mononoke Hime approaches its climax, an army of giant boars gather to repulse the humans who are encroaching on the forest. They range in size from the colossal Okkotonushi...

To behemoths like Nago,

Down to merely gigantic rank-and-file boars.

To represent these beasts, I rounded up a number of different boar miniatures. The line-up begins with a 15mm boar from the Reaper Shadow Corp line. The head is nicely sculpted, but I felt that the body looked kind of stunted. Next is a GW boar of about the same size as the Reaper boar, but much better proportioned, followed by a Citadel Fiend Factory Giant Boar (FF67-1). Last is a boar from Amazon Miniatures. Of the lot, this miniature is my favorite as far as size and appearance are concerned. I ordered four of them last year after seeing a fantastic modification on the Ferrous Lands blog. Unfortunately I only received two, and subsequent inquiries to Amazon were ignored.

The great mystery to me, is what happened with the GW/Citadel boars. I just don't understand how they went from the beautiful sculpts above, to the ugly, sway-backed Warhammer boars. I don't have any examples of GW boars, but suffice to say they are similar to the BTD boar (or rather the other way around) that is shown below on the left. In the center, is a giant boar sculpted by Werner Klocke für Das Schwarze Auge line of miniatures. Again, a nicely sculpted head, but with a strangely undersized body. The final boar on the right is an old Heritage giant boar. The right profile doesn't look too bad, but from the left side, it looks like a giant rat.

The last batch are of plastic toy boars. First up is a boar from the Noah's Ark playset by Auburn (other colors for this boar include black, navy blue, light blue, white, and red). Next is a wild boar by Britains. Metal versions of the Britains boar exists as well, but can be fairly pricey. The last two are a piglet and wild boar by VEB Plaho.

I still have my work cut out to collect enough boars to recreate the futile attack of the army of giant boars against the human forces. Amazon does not seem to stock their boars any more, but even if they did, I would have second thoughts about buying from them again. IWM does carry some old Ral Partha giant boars that may be suitable, but I have not yet been able to determine how big they are. Another hurdle is also to find a giant boar that can pass as Okkotonushi in 1/72 scale. Preferably with head raised and squealing in fury.

Even if every one of us dies, it will be a battle the humans will never forget!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Deer Tribe

I've always thought that the film Mononoke Hime by Hayao Miyazaki had great potential for wargaming, and have been trying to assemble miniatures representing the various characters in the film for quite some time. This entry will be the first of three entries covering the Forest Gods.

The main Forest God is the Shishigami(シシ神) or Deer God. There are several large scale statues of the Deer God, but luckily I was able to find one that looks the right size for use with 1/72 figures.

I've included the red elk, Yakul here as well, because it is a member of the deer family. There are a couple of miniatures that can be used as proxies with a little modification. Red elks have appeared in an earlier work by Miyazaki as well.

The Journey of Shuna (シュナの旅) is considered a precursor to Miyazaki's epic Nausicaa, and includes many designs that appear in his later works. I'm surprised that it has not been published in English yet, but then I guess many people would consider it too Old School.

On to the miniatures. The first figure is the Deer God, which I received with a bunch of Studio Ghibli merchandise, mentioned in an entry I posted back in May. It used to be part of a cell phone strap, but since it seemed exactly the right size for 1/72, I cut it off to use for gaming. The hole that ran through the center was filled in, and painted over.

The next two miniatures will serve as the basis for my red elk conversions. The first figure is a Gemsbok from the Ral Partha Veldt Animals set (31-032). The body is about the right size for what I want, but the neck seems a bit short, and the horns are different. The next miniature is a Psychotic Goat Llama (Chariot S20X1) from Magister Militum. This miniatures comes with tack, so is not as useful as the Gemsbok. It's legs are also too short, though this can be remedied. The best part of the Goat Llama however are the horns, which look spot on for red elk horns.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pilots & Pin-ups

Recently I've been trying to find pilots for some airplane models that I plan on building in wheels up configuration. The older Airfix and Monogram kits almost always used to come with pilots, but the problem with model planes nowadays is that they never come with pilots. I tried looking around for some pilot figures, but the pickings were pretty slim.

The first pilot is a WWII American Pilot (200MSC01) from Eureka. It is 20mm and seems to scale out close to 1/76. Next in line is a Hobby Master WWII US Pilot (HP0001). It comes in a set of five identical pre-painted figures in soft vinyl. The upper torso seems to match well with the Eureka pilot, but the legs are really short. The next three figures come from the Hobby Master WWII Pilots Set (HP0003), which contains two RAF pilots, two Luftwaffe pilots, and one VVS pilot in soft vinyl. The RAF pilot comes in a particularly wooden pose, but is not to bad as far as scale is concerned. The German and Soviet pilots however, are noticeably smaller than the other pilots, and are probably no more than 1/87 scale. The German pilot has a large head relative to his body, so would probably not look too out of place once he is placed in a cockpit, but the Soviet pilot is particularly poor, with a hollowed out back and a tiny 1/87 head to go with his puny 1/87 body.

Typical of model pilot figures, all of the figures are sculpted in the typical staring-straight-ahead-hands-in-the-lap pose. But really... someone needs to make a decent seated pilot figure. Maybe with his head turned to scan the sky, or giving hand signals to a wingman.

I'm not going to complain too much about the short legs, since this allows figures to fit more easily into a wider variety of cockpits, but using 1/87 figures for 1/72 planes just looks wrong. The only other pilots that I know about are from the Revell Pilots and Ground Crew: German Airforce WWII set, and those come with tiny 1/87 scale pilots as well.

And now, I shift gears and present Pin-Up Gals (PIN1) from Sgt Major Miniatures.

The pin-ups come languorously posed in typical pin-up fashion, but are much larger than the typical 20mm miniature. I would say that at least a couple of them are larger than 1/72, though their size is not so obvious because they are not standing up. The figures are decently sculpted, though I believe that the size of the head is out of proportion to the body. The first gal has the most promise. She looks about the right size, and could be used seated on the wing of a plane, or maybe on the deck of a boat.