Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hot Glue

Generally speaking, I stay away from Hot Glue and Hot Glue Guns. I inevitably burn my fingertips by smooshing it into the molten glue at some point. More importantly, I end up covered in thin glue threads. (If you have used hot glue, you know exactly what I am talking about.) All that said, hot glue does have its uses.

First off, it sets very quickly. It is not unreasonable to expect it to be fixed in place within 30 seconds. It also has a pretty good grip, and parts that do not take shearing stress will stay stuck. It is also fairly water-resistant, unlike white glue. If you ever do need to remove something glued with hot glue, however, an X-Acto knife will go through it quite easily.

Hot glue also has one other interesting property: it can easily and quickly create or modify shapes. Need a nose added to a sphere? A dot of hot glue will do, plus it can be roughly shaped about 15 seconds after application (note the 'burnt fingertips' statement at the start, however) and can be carefully carved with an X-Acto knife after it has set. Do not use a rotary sander, like a Dremel, unless you absolutely want to throw away that sanding drum, however. Hot glue will gum up sandpaper, sanding blocks, and sanding drums in a heartbeat.

When I went to Cold Wars 2012 it was to participate in Matt Kirkhart's and John Acar's recreation of the Battle of Zama using Matt's rules Arrayed for Battle! and Matt's and John's 25mm ancients craftee armies, shown below.

Seeing their armies online inspired me to create my own army, for DBA, in the same scale and style.

Note that these figures are 25mm, whereas most of my other figures are 40mm, as they are based off of the wooden "Boy" game piece. I started thinking about building a companion Seleucid DBA army for the Early Armenian army pictured above, so I went to the workbench and looked at the wooden shapes that I have on hand and started experimenting.

Mushroom Button    Spool        Disc                      Toothpick
Helmet and HeadBodyShieldPike

Note that the above pictures are not to scale.

The button-and-spool build is pretty standard. In fact, John Acar was a guest blogger here and showed us how he made his figures for Zama, and he used those same shapes. I like the look of the figure, but what I was trying to avoid was cutting out all of those arms (usually from plastic tile spacers).

The first step I took was to hot glue the plug to the spool to make the basic body. From there I used hot glue to attach the toothpick to the spool, where the butt end would not touch the 'ground', and about where a person might grip a pike. I used a little extra hot glue to make the shape of a right arm and hand.

Next I used hot glue to attach the shield to the pike and to the spool. Where it connected to the pike, I added a dot of hot glue to represent the left hand. Where it attached to the spool, I put a blob of hot glue to represent the left arm. I was going for a look like below; a smaller shield on the left arm where the hand protrudes, so it can grip the pike.

Here is what the unpainted model looks like.

The glue is not very easy to see, so here is the painted model. From the right side and rear you can see the hot glue used to create the shape of the hands and right arm.

Two other views, allowing you to see the left hand and arm.

As you can see in the last picture, I am continuing with my new style for painting faces. By using a darker flesh color you can give the impression of 'five 'o'clock shadow' beards rather well. Something I have not really been able to achieve before. Maybe a painting tutorial on that, if there is any interest.

The shield design is a shield transfer scanned, shrunk down, and printed onto paper, then glued onto the wooden shield. (I did not do the scanning, however, as I found the design on the Hät website.)

All in all I think the figure looks pretty good. The figure also takes significantly less time to make and paint than the 40mm figures I normally do. Time to think about starting the entire army…

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wooden Trees


First, let me start by welcoming new reader jimduncan779. I hope you enjoy the articles. Know that posting comments is welcome, as is suggesting future topics.

Simple Trees

I posted on the Wargaming on a Budget forum on Yahoo a link to a tutorial (scroll down) where a guy was making alien trees for his science fiction games with wooden shaker pegs and hot glue. I decided to give it a try, but with a little twist. I did not want to use the plastic flora from Michael's, but rather to use some wooden shapes that you can also buy cheaply from Michael's, called Woodsies 330ct Teardrops, Ovals, and Circles Pack by Loew-Cornell.
Let me apologize in advance for any blurriness in the photos. My workshop/man cave is unheated at the moment and we are hitting below freezing weather here in Arizona. I guess my shivering was causing more of a problem than I suspected!
I started off with a shaker peg (3"+ long), a 1 ½" disc for the base, and some of the shapes that come in the package.

Generally the pack comes with three sizes of teardrop, ovals, and circles. I started by hot gluing a ring of medium-sized teardrops to the top of shaker peg.

After that I used a series of small teardrops, ovals, and circles to cover the gaps on the top. I added a second layer of medium teardrops under the first to flesh out the foliage.

Once everything is in place, I squirt a lot of hot glue into the underside of the model to bind everything together and give the whole model strength.

As for cost, the greatest expense is the shaker peg in the center. I bought a two-pack for $2.00 off of the shelf of Lowes (a DIY hardware store, for those from other countries), which is hardly the cheap route. You can get them as cheaply as $0.16 in bulk (500; $0.20 each for 100) from craft parts wholesalers on the web. If you plan on making a lot in one go, this could be pretty cheap. More to the point (for me), is that it has that "craftee" look that goes so well with my soldiers.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dark Ages Huscarls (1)

I started painting my huscarls for some 40mm wooden gaming of Saga. Some of you may have seen my previous Dark Ages Warlord, who is now no longer a Anglo-Danish Warlord (who must have a two-handed axe), but a Welsh Warlord. (I added a javelin to the left hand in order for him to qualify for that role. It was easier than working a two-handed axe into the figure.)

You can click any image for a larger version.

For my first huscarl I wanted to try a "spinning wheel" style with the shield. I have been seeing more and more 28mm painters use a two- and three-color scheme for a single "color" on their shields. A number use a "banded" style of painting, but my am not sure what it is supposed to represent. Painted leather stretched over a wood planked shield with the dark spots representing the low spots between wood planks? In any case, I like the spiral effect this gives. I may try it more. (I have five more huscarls to go for this army.)

Next up is the Warlord, and with the requisite two-handed axe, qualifies as an Anglo-Danish one. I gave him stripey pants and a plume on his helmet to signify his status better. Still no cloak though.

I am not really happy with how his shield turned out; the design just fell flat. The great thing about mounting figures singly, however, is to ability to go back and re-paint or touch up figures between gaming sessions. So I will leave him as he is, so I can get him on the field faster. But someday I am going to figure out how to fix that shield without simply re-painting it entirely.

My next huscarl is sporting fancy red boots and silvering on the axe. The shield's cross is hand-painted. I was going for slashes on the shield, but in the end I think it detracts from the cross. Oh well.

This huscarl has a lot of time in on the shield design. I hand-painted all of that criss-crossing for fun (it really was!) and I think it turned out pretty well. Note that I did not slash up the shield!

I put wrinkles in the pants along the line, front and back, separating the left and right legs. I think it looks okay, so I may do it more. Compare it with the figures above where I did not do it.

The Fab Four
Someone once said that what really makes these figures unique are the faces. I could not agree more.

The Warlord's face (far left) is painted a little more traditionally, with full flesh colors and painting the darker recesses. I did not realize at the time of painting that the black line makes it look like the Warlord lost one of his front teeth, but I like it!

The remaining three figures are painted in a new style. I painted a darker flesh color (more of a bronzed look), then the eyes and hair, and finally painted "spots" of lighter color for the nose, brow, cheeks, lips, and chin. I think it turned out pretty interesting.

Monday, December 24, 2012

On the Workbench


First off, I have been remiss in welcoming my new readers. Welcome to Maverick Collecting, Scott B. Lesch, Foss1066, Dan, el frances, littlejohn, Mark Burgess, David Crook, SA ROE, Mr. Monkeytail, and Hammster Chomiczewski! I hope you enjoy the articles and, although a blog is not much of a medium for discussion, I hope you post comments and suggest future topics.


Some new blogs out there that have caught my eye (and are related to this): Little People Go to War, Go! Game Labs, Beighton's Shipyard, and the Skull and Crown (of the famous Wooden Wars project). You really need to check these out.

Of course, blogs I have highlighted before (or think I have ...) are: Toy Making Dad, John Acar's Craftee section, and the Penny Whistle's clothespin work. Again, good ideas and inspiration.

Last but not least, join up on the Wargaming on a Budget forum on Yahoo. There are a lot of like-minded people there. Not always wood-oriented (paper does not count!), but still good information.

New Goodies

I found out that there is a Woodcraft store in Tucson, about 80 miles away from me, so I went and visited it, hoping to pick up a Proxxon jig saw. No luck. They don't carry Proxxon anymore, but could order it. I can get it on Amazon cheaply, so I passed. I did, however, pick up rotary drill bits for sanding and power carving (i.e. carving with Dremel type tools). A total of 120 bits (four sets of 30 bits, each of a different grit level) for $32.00. I was happy. All kinds of shapes and sizes, so I will have some fun experimenting with them.

Leibster Award(s)

Update: I forgot to mention that this blog was nominated for Leibster Awards by John's Wargames and Kingdom of Katzenstein. Thanks guys, I really appreciate it. I highly recommend that readers check out these blogs and the others that I have mentioned above. My Dale's Wargames blog was also nominated and I pointed out some blogs to read there too. That said, the goal of the Leibster Awards is to point people to some of the less traveled blogs, and I hope I have done that here.

On the Workbench

I have a number of projects going simultaneously, mostly because I suffer from distraction. Starting in the workshop, where the cutting, sanding, and gluing goes on.

My fascination with the miniature rules Saga has got me making a Dark Ages army (or three). I am starting off with the Anglo-Danish. Still being built are the Warriors, which will have spears and shields. Right now I have finished the basic helmet shape and am using heavily-thinned wood filler to try and smooth out the curves.

The horses are for an upcoming Welsh army. I will have the Hearthguard mounted.

I always keep a couple of sets of spare arms and feet, just in case I want to do some experimentation. (I sound like Dr. Frankenstein!)

I have had these Napoleonic cavalry – British Light Dragoons and a mounted British Officer – for a long time now. As I decided that I liked the new style of horse (with a spool as the neck), I broke apart the unfinished models and re-worked them. Wait until I do that with fully painted models ...

I accidentally left my wood filler out with the lid not fully closed, causing it to dry up badly. I was about to chuck it into the trash, but decided to look up on the internet and see if there was a way of bring it back. It turns out that Elmers recommends you simply put water into it and stir, stir, stir. I put a little too much and it came out thin. I started experimenting a bit with the thinned wood filler and found that I could use it like "Green Stuff" putty and "sculpt" limited shapes, like beards and long hair. Here I have decided to dip the heads into the wood filler and build up a helmet or cap. As this experiment progresses, I will keep you updated.

When I was doing the hat experiments (in a previous blog article), I had not finished them, especially with regards to the peaks of the caps. Here are some of the previous experiments, along with two new Knightly experiments (on the right).

I wanted to experiment with sheet foam to make pelisses for hussars, so I needed to make some basic hussar figures first. Here they are, but no pelisses. (See, this is what happens when you get distracted by new projects before the old ones are done.)

This picture came out a little dark, but it is the modern African soldier in a beret (hat experiments), with an AK-47 (Insta-Mold experiment to make small accessories), I like the camo, but it was tedious to paint. I am not sure I could do a whole squad of them, all in one go.

I played a big game of Napoleonics (skirmish) and it inspired me to start painting these Prussian Jagers hat I built six months ago. The officer is a little red faced because I seem to have misplaced one of the painted soldiers, but found two others that I forgot to paint with the others!

Here are the Levy bowmen of the Anglo-Danish army I am building for Saga. The bows were power-sanded from spare bits of wood. They are starting to come together.

These are my current pride and joy! The Anglo-Danish huscarls with 2-handed axes were just plain fun to put together. Axe heads and arms are made of foam. I glued the arms to the axe handles and once dry, glued the arms to the body. Once that was dry I rubbed super glue (Gorilla Glue Super Glue, of course) into the foam and then pinned the arms and axe handle into the position I wanted. Once the super glue was dry the pose stayed put. I then glued on the axe heads.

You can see the Anglo-Danish Warlord, with his Danish axe, started on the lower left. Using sheet foam and zig-zag cutting scissors I created a horse tail plume for his helmet.

Well, that is it for now. Hope you like the sneak peek at the projects to come.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

French Napoleonic Carabinier (1807)

This is why I paint Napoleonics. It is because of uniforms like this. I first saw a picture of the 1807 French Napoleonics Carabiniers in a copy of a Funcken uniform book and I always wanted to paint it, but I never got around to it … until now that is. Granted, it is not an entire regiment, but these four guys will run roughshod over many an enemy in a game of Drums and Shakos.

Click on any images to enlarge.

There are actually a lot of new changes to how I build figures in these models. Although the horses still have a "camel head" look (I need a split egg size between this and the one I use for 25mm horses), I think they look much better using a small thread spool for the neck. The image below shows the spool in better detail.

Also, you can see the new sabers, made entirely from foam. They flex a lot, but they won't break!

I had never really been happy with the horses' hair. I had tried modeling material to make a mane, tail, and ears, and they material was hard to control (as it expanded when it dried) and very fragile. I've replaced all of that with foam sheet.

In #1 you can see the tail, cut from a brown piece of foam sheet. I used alligator teeth scissors to cut the shape, then scrapbooking scissors to "bevel" the edges a bit. #2 was done the same way, except that you can see I made the hair from three separate pieces of foam sheet. By layering two pieces I got a taller mane. In #3 you can see a variation of that mane. Also, you can see that the ears were cut out and simply glued to the back of the split egg. When looking closely at the detail it does look a little strange, but at arms length I think it looks pretty good.

These are the alligator scissors. You can find them in any scrapbooking section of craft stores. There are all sorts of shapes and designs to the teeth. I used these in my Troglodyte experiments.

The image below show some of the detail of the rider. In #1 you can see I put a lot of detail into the uniform. It was later (after I finished, but before I painted the buttons on) that I realized that you will never see that detail when the rider is mounted on the horse! #2 shows the detail of the saber. This time I cut the arm and the saber from foam sheet separately, then glued them together. Next time, it will all be one piece. (Live and learn!) #3 shows the legs of the rider made from foam sheet. As the rider is a shortened pawn sitting atop the spool horse, I needed legs to extend past the end of the pawn and around the spool. In the past that was wood; now it is foam sheet, which follows the curve of the spool much better. Finally #4 shows a change from previous figures. I used to model the epaulettes with wood and modeling material. Now I do not even model them at all. When viewed from the side, painting the epaulette with a dark color, then detail with a light color gives the illusion of depth, and looks fine. (#1 shows what it looks like from the front, if you look really hard.)

It is interesting that building and painting these figures – especially the more complex uniforms or the cavalry – takes a long time overall, but that is largely because there are a lot of steps and I have a tendency to do several projects all at once (building 20+ figures at a time). In a way you don't really have much interest in the figures at the start. They are simple shapes, and although you can see the potential, they are not really exciting. Then you come back to it, add a bearskin and a plume and get a little more excited. You can start to see it. They you start adding basic paint and get a little more excited. It is when you start reaching the end that you start to see the figure. You want to finish quickly, but for me, I just want to keep adding detail. Finally, it is done and you paint the bases, photograph and then blog them, chomping at the bit to go play a game with them. But, you look over at that table with the other 16+ unfinished figures, and see even more potential just waiting.

I hope you enjoy looking at them; I really enjoyed making and painting them to show them off.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dark Ages Warlord in Sutton Hoo Helmet

I finally finished my Dark Ages Warlord. You can click on the images below to get a close-up of the detail. Painting the Sutton Hoo-style visor on the helmet was fun and really adds character to the figure. I experimented a little with adding 'scars' to the shield (that's what those ugly, out-of-place lines are). Next effort will be better, but I am not upset with the results. The lines are just a little too fat. The chainmail turned out fine, but I am still debating whether to add a cloak to the fellow.

Not only did I use foam for the arms on this figure, but I made the sword from it too. I have been re-thinking which elements should be foam and which should be wood (or some other material). On my upcoming French Napoleonic Carabiniers (1807) you will see some new uses of foam. I am putting the finishing touches on the horse's paint jobs, so it should not be long. But, I will be making their swords from foam too. I decided to try a few foam weapons because of all the "casualties" I have had with my figures so far, it is the wooden swords that have fallen off the most, My theory is that because the wood does not flex, when the figure is accidentally bumped or dropped, all it can do is absorb the impact (i.e. glue holds, but is weakened) or break. The foam will flex, so it should survive. We will see, and I will report on it here.

I have already started building my Anglo-Danish army for Saga. I have the basic figure, helmet, feet, and base for eight Hearthguard and eight Warriors. I am still working on the 12 Levy, but they are almost complete (making them, that is; painting still a ways off). As for an opposing army, that is even further off.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sutton Hoo Helmet

In the Hats, hats, and more hats article, I created a Dark Ages figure (the one with a round shield) and I admit that it looked a little quirky unpainted. What I was aiming for was something like a 'Sutton Hoo' helmet, as shown in the photos below.

The images below show the results painted up. My gilded moustache and lips are a little bigger, but I think the effect is shown pretty well. Essentially one cut on a stock figure, one cut on a dowel, a little sanding and putty, and you have a Dark Ages figure.

I just need to detail the helmet a little more and finish the body and I will have one fine looking Warlord for Saga and Dux Bellorum.

About Me

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").


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