Monday, September 30, 2013

Grim Angus

I'm calling him done.  There are a few things I could do to touch him up, but my interests have moved on.

While I'm half-tempted to finish the rest of the Trollbloods I started this past month, I need to use my time wisely.  The prospect of playing Hordes with these miniatures any time soon has fallen to the wayside.  Therefore, I must steer my energy towards nearer-term gaming opportunities and/or competitions.

This week, I redirect my attention to the Orcs & Goblins.  Or more specifically, the Goblin Squig Riders.  They are the one unit I still need to paint in order to play the Regiment of Renown variant of Warhammer.  A 40K campaign is also on the horizon, so that opens the door to Tau, Kroot, Eldar, and Orks.  I will definitely take advantage of that opportunity to finally build and paint the Gnarlock beasts.

Tonight is the final deadline for the WAMP forum's online contest for the Darklands range of models by Mierce Miniatures.  I already submitted my entry, the wicked "Scar-Scath" vermin lord!  I'll post the montage of that figure to my blog in a day or two.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mountain of Mayhem - Godslayer

With all the recent activity associated with NOVA Open and the NCMSS show this past month, I'm a bit behind on posting to the blog.  I've accumulated a backlog of items that I've added to my "lead mountain", or "grey horde", or whatever else folks like to call the evidence of their addiction to this hobby.  I'll call it my......Mountain of Mayhem!

I'll roll out the goods to the blog gradually, starting with one of my Kickstarter pledges -- Godslayer.

Here are the two full-size soft-cover books.  The top book contains the world setting, and the book below it contains the rules.  They come in this very fine slip-cover:

The world setting is impressive.  I get the feeling this guy has been writing this background for 25+ years, since he was a kid.  The style is old-school fantasy, hearkening back to the classic Worm of Ouroboros of the 1920's.  Worlds float in a breathable aether, and the races are reflections of classical history and mythology.  It's great to see a fresh take on a fantasy setting -- something other than yet another Tolkien derivative (much as I love Tolkien), and yet something that still feels familiar and appropriate...mmm....classic.

Now I wish I could say as much positive about my first impression of the rules.  My initial take is that they are just another basic skirmish rule-set.  There's nothing that sets it apart at first blush.  And it continues the tradition of not allowing pre-measuring -- one of my personal pet peeves.  But, hey, I will reserve further judgment until I play a proper game.

The miniatures are nice (and metal!).  The poses are dynamic, and the sculpting is skillful and painter-friendly.  I look forward to working on them. 

I purchased the Greek-styled Halodyne faction....

and the evil Banebrood to challenge them in battle....

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NCMSS Show 2013 Recap

The NCMSS show is held annually in Northern Virginia.  This year, it was held on September 14th, and the show had a solid turnout.  There was a downturn in fantasy figures, but that was largely due to a competing show in New Jersey, which stole at least three of the NCMSS's regular fantasy painters.  Still, attendance was strong, and we saw a great variety of high-end painting and creative modeling.

Last year, I served as an apprentice judge for the NCMSS show.  Since then, I've accumulated even more experience in organized competition painting -- as a participant, as an event organizer, and as a judge.  This year, the NCMSS invited me to bear the mantle of a full-fledged judge.  One thing that has surprised me since I began judging, is how time-consuming and intense it can be.  This particular exercise, beginning with the judge's organizational meeting and following through with team walk-through's, individual scoring, and special awards scoring, consumed three-and-a-half hours!  That left very little time throughout the rest of the day to study pieces in detail, take photographs, and peruse the vendor hall.  I ended up rushing through all of those other activities.  Still, I like being involved in the organizational side of the hobby and helping it carry on its traditions and reach out to new enthusiasts.

In no particular order, here are some highlights that I managed to capture. 

The following two entries were neck-in-neck to earn the special award, Best Ancient.  The Greek hoplite barely squeezed out the win over the Roman cavalryman.  On the bust, the textures on the woods and metals were superb.  I also liked all of the extra added-on details on the inside of the shield, like the scuffs, tassles, and loose cord.

The photo doesn't show it very well, but the base is an incline that is suspended in air.  Note the powdered snow on the horse's legs.  I like the dull colors -- makes it realistic for the period and helps sell the illusion of a cold winter day.  The shield design is freehand.

A diorama that tells a lighter story.  Nice to see, compared to the next one!

This was a phenomenal piece.  So realistic

This one shows how much you can expand the scene, when you use a smaller scale.  Excellent groundwork.  Really puts your head in a wintry, ankle-spraining field.

This is a close-up view of Joy Schoenberger's St. Patrick.  This piece won a Gold at the NOVA Open two weeks before, and it won another Gold at NCMSS, along with two special awards: one for Best Medieval and one for Best Irish or Irish-American!  Note how the floor and hem of the robe show the effect of light coming in off-frame through a stained-glass window.

Freehand clovers.  This figure is probably true 25mm.

A fine piece by Kevin Townsend.  I first saw this one at the MFCA show.  I was glad to see it again under better light.  The tavern section has so much character, it's practically "the 4th Minstrel".

Another fine piece by Kevin.  Now do it in 28mm, Kevin!  ;-)

My jab at Kevin reminds me of an amusing aside.  I was chatting with a fellow after the show, about how I've slowly moved from painting game figures towards dipping my toe in display/competition painting.  I remarked how display painting is typified by those "larger-scale 54mm figures", which I have yet to do.  He laughed and said that was the first time anyone has ever referred to his miniatures as "larger-scale".  That was an interesting eye-opener, about one of differences in these flavors of the hobby.

Speaking of smaller scale, check out the sunflowers, the poker cards, and the dog in guy's shirt!

Check out the footprints in the sand.

This piece was amazing.  Had all sorts of moving parts.  The propeller was spinning all day long.

 Look at the tile floor on the bathroom.

This piece might have had the best weathering, rust, and dirt effects I've ever seen.

This was a really cool forced-perspective piece.  Never seen something like this before.  It took you off-guard at first, because the far tank crew used smaller-scale models.  The scene made sense only if you looked at it from this viewing angle.  It worked even better if you closed one eye.

A similar idea.  This artist is having a blast, ha, ha.

This is a great off-beat piece by Tim Stormer, the NCMSS's very hard-working Adjutant.  I think he said he did this using pastels like weathering pigments.

Here's the latest work by Kevin Townsend.  This won Best of Show for Fantasy.

Here's another stunner by Kevin, which I first saw at MFCA.

Two more by Kevin...

Here was a favorite of mine.  I think it got a Silver, but I think it deserved a Gold.  Mounting it on the machine nut is a great touch!

And finally, here is Rhodes Davis' Wolverine -- a better photo than what I captured at NOVA Open.

Ah, I almost forgot.  I won Gold awards for my Alkemy and Malifaux figures, my "Border Dispute" diorama, and the Wargaming special award for my Freebooter Pirates and Dystopian Wars Prussians.  Yay!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back to painting -- a weekend of WIP

After the intensity of running the Capital Palette, I rewarded myself with two straight days of  painting -- Saturday with the NCMSS and Sunday with the DC Mini Painters.  This was the first time I visited the DCMP, since it takes about an hour to drive there.  But I was eager to observe the techniques of the painters I know who go there, and it was a good excuse to check out the new location for Games & Stuff (Glenn Burnie, MD). 

On Saturday at the NCMSS, I worked on two of the Trollbloods -- the Fell Caller and Grim Angus.

I'm still struggling to choose colors for the Trollbloods.  Here on Grim Angus, I think the orange loincloth pulls the eye away from face-to-gun line, where the focus should be.  But I'm running out of neutral brown colors.  I still need to paint stripes on the pant-legs, and I need to bring out the NMM some.  I also need to work on the face, and just do a lot of general clean-up and tightening.

The red color in the kerchief fits well with the outfit (real Western style and look), but I think the red clashes horribly with the skin tone.  Technically, Grim Angus is supposed to be albino, but I think it's silly that there are two Trollblood warlocks that are albinos.  Albinoism should be pretty rare and distinctive, and be unique to just one hero, in my book.  So I give Grim my alternative Trollblood skin tone.  To make the kerchief work, I'm thinking of going a pale purple.  That will give me a more balanced triad on the color wheel, instead of a harsh complement.  Purple is not as manly as red, of course, but hopefully Grim can pull it off on personality alone.

On Sunday, I worked on yet another project.  This is my WIP entry for the Darklands contest, being held on WAMP, due in a couple of weeks.  While I prepped the resin pieces fairly decently over a couple of evenings, I hastily assembled the model, so that I could work on painting it at the meetup.  This pic shows 3 to 4 hours of base-coloring.

The assembly has some shortcuts.  Only the feet are pinned, and I should have green-stuffed the join for the tail.  But ultimately, he'll be a game-piece, and I'm not too worried about its display quality.  These days, a display miniature needs to be on its own dedicated plinth, with a little scene and all that jazz.  Knowing that most of my stuff is destined for the gaming table gives me some relief.  I don't have to pressure myself too much. 

I like the direction this guy is going.  I want to make him more like an albino than the studio version, but I like the coloring on the fur, so he'll be a "pale rat", instead of an albino.  I'll be enhancing the pinks, mauves, and purples, as I go along.

Monday, September 2, 2013

NOVA Open & Capital Palette

NOVA Open is "done and dusted", as they say.  The Capital Palette, for which I was responsible as a chief organizer, saw a very respectable turn-out, in terms of both quantity and quality.  There were some phenomenal figures on display, across all three Divisions:  Fantasy, Historical, and Sci-Fi.  We saw a tremendous cross-section of model manufacturers, painting styles, and creativity.  We met and surpassed my goal to expose the breadth and depth of the hobby to the convention-goers.

Here are the cabinets on Friday morning, already showing a solid turn-out, compared to the previous year.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind later during the convention to take another photo to show the competition at its height.  Suffice to say, we filled all the cabinets.  Good thing NOVA Open purchased two, new floor-units!

As a first-time co-organizer, I have to say the experience was exhausting and stressful.  I was certainly prepared for the inevitable snafus and brushfires, but the trials thrown our way were of the lightning-strike variety that I'm sure every organizer fears as worst-case scenarios.  The good news is that we all worked as a team to deal with the emergencies and work our way through them.  Thank you, to all the NOVA Open staff who lent a helping hand!

But miniatures are the first order-of-business, so let's take a look.  Again, my own opportunity to take photos came to an end by Friday evening.  But I'll share a few of my own, and I'll link to other sites and add them to the list below, as I become aware of them.

My photos of 40K tournament armies.
My photos of an Infinity gang.
Flames of War and Capital Palette, from the Itty Bitty Soldiers blog.
Joy Schoenberger's entries, including her Gold for Historical Single, on MamaGeekMinis blog.
The official NOVA Open gallery.  All podium awards shown here, plus galleries for the larger convention, plus archive galleries.