Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hobby Time!

One of the deals I struck for my birthday was for some hobby time - I was off work, the baby was at Grandma's, and my wife was working, so lars4life & I got to spend a day hobbying:

It felt good to be working on stuff again.  Above you can see my new portable set-up, which I'll be detailing in an upcoming post...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Itsha Birfday

So, I've noted my fondness for LEGO before on this blog, and just thought I'd share some neat gifts I got for my birthday this year:

...the double-decker couch from The LEGO Movie!  The real story here isn't really the couch, but all the minifigs the set comes with - I really wanted a UniKitty, but the only set I had noticed that it was included with that I was interested in was Metalbeard's Sea Cow, and I wasn't willing to pay two hundred and fifty dollars for it.  It also comes with a ghost Vitruvius (I came dangerously close to paying $50 for a "limited edition" Blu-Ray back around the holidays just to get the Vitruvius fig) and a Benny, which gives me all the feels - the LEGO Space sets were my absolute favorite as a kid.

It also came with a couple of Spongebob Squarepants Mega-Blok (boo hiss) figures that my friend bought because the store was sold out of the individual LEGO minifigs - I'm usually not a fan of Mega-Bloks, or even Spongebob particularly, but this fig cracks me up every time I look at it:


Later that evening, my wife took me took a great dinner with all my friends, and I was presented with this:

The Ghostbusters Ecto-1!  I've really wanted this set - it was about the only thing I was bummed about not getting at Christmas, and it was starting to get hard-to-find, so I just kind of resigned myself to not getting it - it was totally unexpected!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Khador: Vladimir Tzepesci, The Dark Prince

Another model I finished recently:

This is Vladimir Tzepesci, The Dark Prince.  I originally started this model quite a while ago, but it wasn't holding my interest, so it got thrown in my bag.  I dug it out recently because I've resolved to finish all my partially completed/needs repaired/etc Warmachine models before moving on to new ones, and I sat and sat and tried to come up with a novel technique or conversion for this one... turns out, it's just not a very interesting model.  Really.  He has some neat abilities that I want to try out, but as far as the model goes it's just not terribly compelling.  So, I just finished 'em off and ran with it...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Khador: Battle Mechaniks

Hey, look at me - I actually painted a unit for the first time in over a year!

These are the Khador Battle Mechaniks that lars4life got me as a birthday gift... two years ago, I think?  They've been primed and knocking around in my bag since then.  While we were at Adepticon we decided to go downstairs one night and make use of the open hobby area, and next thing I now they were 90% done - a few touch ups, some clearcoat & basing and they're done!  Cetainly not my best work, but not bad for shaking off the rust...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Review: Ironheart Artisans Dropper Tray while I was at Adepticon this year, I stopped by the Ironheart Artisans booth.  Mainly to see what new stuff they had, but also just to say hello - I always enjoy talking with them.  They're great guys (& a girl) and, for some reason, are one of the only vendors with the foresight to bring spare hobby supplies (glue, paintbrushes, etc) to a hobby convention.  (They pretty much sell the hobby supplies at MSRP as a courtesy to us gamers).

Anyways, last year I bought one of their paintbrush racks & a couple of their 4-tier stepped paint racks to organize my airbrush paints, and was pleased with both purchases.  This year, they had a really cool prototype paint tray with handles & locking cover, but the problem was it's designed to fit the P3 paint pots - I really don't use that many P3 paints.  But, another item caught my attention - their dropper bottle tray:

See, since my son was born, I've had to go semi-mobile with my hobbying - I watch him a few days per week, so I needed something to carry the essentials.  I grabbed one and brought it home to try it out.

Like most of the Ironheart pieces, it's laser-cut MDF and comes unassembled:

It went together pretty easily (MUCH more easily than their 4-tier trays) and I just put some wood glue on the tabs & edges when I assembled it:

(Now with 100% more festive Easter tablecloth, courtesy of my wife)

And here it is loaded up with 70 of my dropper bottles:

One of the nice things is that the tray is deep enough to hold the bottles securely, but shallow enough that it's easy to read the labels.  This also makes it easy to group certain paints together - for example, all my flesh tones are along one edge:

...and all my "utility" paints are along one edge:

(You might have noticed that most of my paints these days are Reaper, Vallejo, & Army Painter.  I'll cover the reasons for the switch away from GW in an upcoming article.)

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with it - it's cheap enough to buy on an impulse, but sturdy enough that I can toss it on top of my bag and it doesn't break.  (As long as you use a good quality glue to put it together - I used Gorilla Wood Glue).  So far Ironheart Artisans are three for three on stuff I've bought from them - I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

AdeptiCon 2015 Part II


On Saturday, our first class was "Six Step Eyes" with Meg Maples:

Meg showing us how it's done

In the past ten years or so, I've probably taken half a dozen classes just on how to paint eyes.  It's probably the first major hurdle of taking your painting beyond "tabletop quality" for most painters.  I've tried different methods, technical pens, etc., and it's still 90% luck for me.  This class came closer than any other to giving me the ability to actually be able to paint eyes - I think with a little practice, I'll be able to replicate it consistently.  I'll even give you the six steps so you can try it yourself:

  1. -Paint entire eye socket black
  2. -White oval (eyeball)
  3. -Black dot (outer edge of iris)
  4. -Color dot (iris)
  5. -Black dot (pupil)
  6. -White dot (reflection)

(Optional): Gloss coat eye so it's shiny.

That's it.  And it made sense.  Here are a few of my attempts: it's not great, but this is far better than I've been able to achieve in the past.  Plus, I was having a really hard time picking out the eyes on this model - Reaper claims you don't need to prime their "Bones" models, but I find it necessary just because I can't see the details on that bright white finish they come in right from the factory.

Our next class was "Painting Sheer Fabric", again with Jessica Rich.  Man, this class was hard for a guy who mostly paints power armor 90% of the time.  And, as Jessica warned us, when you paint a model using this method, it has an extremely long "this looks like crap" phase until everything starts to pull together.  Regardless, you can see a (very) little bit of the intended effect in this WIP pic of my model:

Compare that with what Jessica is able to achieve, and it's pretty sad.  Still, it was fun to try.  lars4life & I have already been talking about where we might be able to apply the technique to our own armies.

After classes, we headed out for dinner - we usually budget for one "nice" dinner per trip to AdeptiCon, and this year we went with Weber Grill Restaurant:

...which was fantastic.  We headed back to the hotel and hung out for bit before calling it a night.  The next morning we made one last lap through the dealer room (I made a few purchases that I'll be reviewing here shortly) and headed back home, another AdeptiCon in the bag!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

AdeptiCon 2015 Part I

Thursday after doing little-to-no hobbying for most of the past year (for reasons, see my previous post) lars4life & I headed out for Adepticon 2015.  The big change this year was that the con moved to a bigger venue at the Renaissance Schaumberg Convention Center:

The hotel was pretty nice - pretty much on par (amenity-wise) with the former venue, but much bigger.  It was nice to have more space, but I get the feeling that the folks at the Renaissance didn't really "get" the needs of the con just yet, but hopefully that'll work itself out in the coming years.

After putting our bags away, we headed downstairs to get out badges & swag bags.  As usual, the AdeptiCon swag bag was one of the best out of any convention I attend:

...A Protectorate of Menoth battlegroup, Badger & Reaper paints, brushes from Games & Gears, minis from Palladium, Victoria Miniatures & Soda Pop Miniatures, as well as a ton of coupons for more freebies & discounts in the dealer room.  I really wish some of the other cons would take a lesson from AdeptiCon in the swag bag department.

Since the registration desk was right in the dealer's hall, we took a quick lap while we were there.  I wandered past the Forge World booth and was a bit taken aback that there wasn't a line - last year, I got my stuff after a thirty-minute wait, and that felt like a gift.  I walked up to the nearest employee and said "Can I pick up my preorder?"  He said "Sure!" and grabbed the box.  I kept if pretty small this year - I got the Caestus Assault Ram (just because I've been drooling over that model since it was released a couple of years ago), a Khorne Blood Slaughterer & some chain axes to outfit a Chaos project I've got in the works (more info coming soon!)

After that, we pretty much just wandered around the con, checked out the displays, and said hi to some friends before heading off to bed.


On Friday we had out first class - "TNA: The Art of Painting Hot Chicks" with Jessica Rich.  This class was all about the proper way to shade muscle groups on minis that are sculpted mostly (or completely) nude.  Jessica is extremely qualified to teach this, as shown by her piece that took 3rd overall in the Crystal Brush this year.  Needless to say, my attempt was a bit more rudimentary:

But, I can only accomplish so much in two hours, and the class was extremely helpful in breaking down the steps in painting anatomy.

Our next class was "Hands On With Two-Brush Blending" with Matt DiPietro, a studio painter for Privateer Press.  I had previously taken a version of this class with Meg Maples, who also used to paint for Privateer Press - this is pretty much their "signature" technique.  And, like before, I wasn't really crazy about it.  I get it, and I can do it given enough practice, but I'm just not convinced that the results are worth the effort, or at least that I can't get similar results with other methods that are more natural to me.  Sorry, it just doesn't "click" with my brain for some reason.

Our last class of the day was "Blood, Guts, Puss and Gore" with Michelle Blastenbrei.  I didn't realize it when I signed up for it, but I had actually taken this class with Michelle at GenCon a few years ago - this actually made it kind of interesting, because I was able to see how Michelle had expanded and changed the methods she teaches.  Regardless, it was a lot of fun, and Michelle gave every student a whole box of goodies to play with!

After the class, a friend of ours from out of town showed up, and we all made our way down to the open hobby area in the lobby and painted for a couple of hours while meeting new people and trading techniques.

Next: Part II!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Slight Return, since I've been gone:

...that's Jude.  He came along shortly after GenCon last year.  It was a bit of a difficult pregnancy, and it's been even more of an adjustment being a first-time father while looking down the barrel of my 40th birthday.  Regardless, it's been a blast, and I'm finally found a few ways to get a tiny bit of hobbying in here and there between feedings & diaper changes (which will be the subject of an article in the not-too-distant future).  My Adepticon recap will be going up this week, and keep an eye out for more regular content!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Origins 2014 Recap, Part II


Saturday morning I hit the convention bright & early for an RPG - a Cartoon Action Hour game featuring the characters from He-Man & The Masters of the Universe.  It became fairly obvious what table my game was at when I walked into the ballroom and saw this guy:

...and of course, since it was Saturday morning and we were playing a game based on cartoons, the GM gave out sugary cereal:

...and the game was periodically interrupted by 1980's toy commercials:

Overall, this was one of my favorite events of the con.  The GM, Bryce Whitacre of Fearlight Games, did an amazing job of giving the game just the right mix of engaging action and absurd silliness, and the Cartoon Action Hour system was a lot of fun - I would have bought the book at the convention, but apparently it's in the process of being printed right now.

I had an hour or so to kill before my next event, so I wandered over to the minatures hall to see the sights:

Hey there, handsome

Some nice looking armies in the 40KOrigins area next event was a demo of Infinity - I had seen the game on blogs and at my FLGS, and had been impressed with the models, but never actually had a chance to play it.  The setup was two small teams on a 4'x4' board:

I liked the game well enough - unfortunately the team that was teaching the game was a man short, and our GM was trying to run two tables at once, and my opponent was on the phone dealing with some minor crisis involving workers at his house several states away, so... yeah.  Not the best intro to the game.  I also (out of complete blind luck) managed to stomp my opponent pretty badly, which isn't actually a lot of fun when you're trying to learn the nuances of a new game system.  I chatted with the GM for a bit afterwards to get a little bit of a better feel for the game, and it might be nice to have a small skirmish-type game around for a quick play.  And I do love me some terrain.  (I find it funny that "line-of-sight" has inspired more rage through the various versions of 40K than probably anything else over the years, and this game seems to revel in it).

After the Infinity demo, I headed back to the Board Room to meet up with my group.  I got there right as they were setting up Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries from Days of Wonder:

Ticket to Ride is one of my all-time favorites, and I had never played the Nordic Countries version.  The game incorporated two new mechanics - "ferries" and "tunnels".  I won't go into it here, but the short version is that I really liked the "ferries" mechanic, but hated the "tunnels".  There is also no hand limit in this version of TtR, which I liked a lot - overall this is one I'll definitely consider purchasing in the future.

After the game we decided to make a lap of the vendor hall before it closed - I stopped by the Mayfair Games booth and picked up the alternate maps & mini-expansions that I didn't own yet for Settlers of Catan:

I also browsed their clearance rack and found a copy of Horus for $7.00 that looked interesting:

After that, we headed over to the Paint 'N Take by Reaper Miniatures - this is something we do every year.  Everyone who buys a badge at the con gets a free miniature, plus use of paints & brushes - thanks Reaper!  I almost always choose a fantasy-themed model, but I'm still sick of them after building my Dwarfs army, so I picked a big stompy robot:

Not bad for 30 minutes, 4 colors, and a crappy brush

We finished right as they were shutting the hall down for the day, so we headed off in search of dinner...


Sunday I was back in bright and early for a game of X-Wing Miniatures:

I've been both excited and apprehensive to try this game - excited because I'm a Gen-X male and it's frickin' Star Wars, people! And apprehensive because it looks like it could be waaaay too easy to drop a ton of money on.  Funderhammer & I have discussed this problem in the past:

...and I did have a blast:

...and I did have to talk myself out of buying the starter box in the vendor hall - the only thing that stopped me was that I checked Amazon and it was a lot cheaper there.  I think it is feasible to keep it to a modest investment, as long as you stayed with a few small ships per side, and didn't buy the Rebel Transport or any of the ridiculous-sized ships.  I've added a basic setup to my Amazon wish list, I'm hoping maybe Santa will come through this year...

After the game I made a final lap of the vendor hall (I didn't see anything I couldn't live without), grabbed some lunch, and headed home - another Origins in the bag!  See you next year!