Sunday, April 23, 2017

Completed Balin's Tomb Terrain Layout

I was extra motivated this weekend to get this terrain finished once I decided how I wanted to construct it.  In truth, I still want to make a well, but that will be easy and add little to the look of the overall game board, so I thought I would just go ahead and share pictures of it.

I found a picture for a board layout of Balin's tomb online for the Heroquest game.  I like their boards because they are so symmetrical and pleasing to the eye.  So I decided to use it as the basis for my own game board for my Balin's tomb scenario using the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game rules.  The scenario in the book calls for a 4' x 4' board, but that's just too big for Balin's tomb.  Also, I want to give the goblin players a chance to actually win this scenario, and the only way that is going to happen is if they can swarm the Fellowship relatively quickly, so a large game board is the goblin player's enemy.  So I went with a game board that is in between the 4' x 4' monster called for in the book, and the tiny 15" x 18" or so board that some scenarios call for (that's actually too small for the number of figures, goblins specifically, that I want in the game).

Of course I wanted to stage the pics of the board with the miniatures so that you can really see how it will look when I run the actual game.  So that's what I did, choosing to represent a moment early in the scene in the movie where Sam comes face to face with the cave troll.

There is the entirety of the board.  It measures about 26" wide and 40" deep.

More of a close up shot of the action and some of the scenery.  Balin's tomb I've talked about before, but putting Gimili on top of it with goblins rushing him just looks cool.  Each corner of the board is a craft box made out of cardboard I got from Michael's on sale for I think $1.49 each.  I just removed the lid, painted them black, and then painted the gray all around on the walls, leaving the tops black.  The pillars of course are different than the ones I did before.  I decided to go with square ones, and these are just wooden blocks glued on top of each other (I believe they are 1.5" cubes) with precut thin wood circles and squares glued to the front side to create visual interest.  The walls (on the front and rear of the tomb) are made from thick craft foam with wooden squares glued to one side flush with the bottom so that the wall will stand up and not tip over easily.  I decided not to do an actual door and just leave the "doorway" open so that the miniatures can easily move through the space.  I might change my mind and do an open doorway, we'll see.  The two sides are made entirely from thick craft foam.  The walkway is 2 inches wide, 24 inches long.  The stairs are just the same thick foam cut of the appropriate length to make a stair step on each side of four stairs each.  In the middle I stacked and glued four pieces of the thick foam to support the middle of the walkway to keep it from sagging in the middle.  I decided not to put a "back wall" up against the back part of the walkway on each side of the room even though one is there in reality.  I think that by not putting in a wall, it will make it easier for players to move the figures for the game without banging into a large structure with their hands, like the walkway, and causing problems during play.  I hope that using the paint shade going from light gray on the front edge of the walkway to complete black for the part of the walkway that is against the wall will at least give the visual illusion that the walkway ends there in a "wall."

Sam bravely confronts the cave troll!

Boromir and Aragorn fend off a horde of goblins!

"Let them come!  There is yet one dwarf in Moria who still draws breath!"

Gandalf and the "wee ones" defend themselves!

Another wide shot of the action, this time from the other side.

I think the club game schedule is pretty full, so it will probably be June before I can run this game for the members, but I'm looking forward to it.  I'll offer it at Barrage in September/October (whenever the convention falls this year) as well.  In all cases when I run it, I'll post a battle report here with pics (assuming I remember to take them in the heat of the game!).



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dungeon Terrain for Balin's Tomb

I've been away from Craftees for a while now, instead repainting a boat load of Mage Knight figures for my biweekly D&D game.  But this week I returned to doing Craftees at least for a little while to get the terrain done for the Balin's Tomb game I hope to run in my club probably in June.  I'm still working on how to do the walls Craftee style, but here are some pictures of Balin's actual tomb, as well as four very large pillars that I will probably use (depends on how I decide to do the walls).  If the walls are more than just a flat surface, then I probably won't need the pillars.  But if they are just a flat surface, I'll need something in the room to provide cover, block line of sight, etc. to make the game interesting.

Here are the four pillars and Balin's tomb with the Aragorn figure included for scale.  You can really see how large the pillars really are scale wise.
Here is Aragorn with the pillars more up close.
And here is Aragorn next to Balin's tomb.
Pillar construction was simple.  Just a very large spool from a craft store with the larger circular thin wooden disc glued to the top (it comes in a pack with small, medium, and large discs all together), with the small discs from the same pack glued around the middle of the pillar to provide some visual interest.

Balin's tomb is a thin 2" x 3" wooden base with the top and bottom "slabs" of the tomb made from 1 1/2" x 2 1/4" thicker pieces of wood that come together in a pack of I believe three or four at Michael's.  The pieces in between the two slabs are six small cubes (1/2" I believe) arranged 2 x 3.

Painting was the same for each.  Base coat of black.  Then I used dark gray to lay out the basic "marbling" appearance.  Then on top of the gray a slightly lighter shade leaving some of the darker gray showing throw.

That's about it.  Next up will be the walls of the tomb itself, hopefully with a door like in the movie.  We'll see what I'm able to put together.



Monday, March 20, 2017

Updated Cave Troll

The more I looked at him, the less I liked his face.  I moved away from my style of painting to trying to make him look like the cave troll in the movie.  Big mistake.  First, he looked surprised not scary.  Not good.  Second, he is supposed to be looking down to his left like he is reaching out to pick up someone.  His eyes were put too far up on his head.  He did not look like he was looking down at all.

So I painted over the face, and redid it in my style, further down on the split ball to make him look like he is looking down and to his left.
Much better.  Scary and looking like he is reaching out to grab an unlucky adventurer.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"They have a cave troll ...'

Took me a little while, but I finally finished the cave troll.  All my friends are at Cold Wars so I have some time to work on my Balin's Tomb game project.  I actually started with another construction, but that one ended up being way too big, so I think it will eventually, if I decide to do the scenario, get turned into the balrog.  But for now, here is the cave troll.
I decided to go all out with the construction.  Body is a larger sized egg.  Legs and arms are both split eggs (and a spool in the case of the lower legs) attached together overlapping somewhat to create bends, the length of the limbs, etc.  The fingers on both hands are tile spacers.  For his right hand, I used an oval bead that I built the fingers around so that later if I want to I can put a weapon or something else in his hand.  I was going to go with a chain, but the one I bought was too big to fit through the bead, and a smaller chain I think will look funny.  I could cut the chain and then use some thin wire to join it back together inside the bead, but that's a lot of fiddly work that I'm just not up to at the moment.  The head is a split ball (smallest size they make I think, I believe it is 1 inch in diameter) and his lower jaw is a small split egg.  His toe nails and teeth are also tile spacers cut and glued on.  His loin cloth is the now ubiquitous paper.
I just looked at images online to get the paint scheme.  Was pretty easy, and takes advantage of my style of blob-like painting for texture.  And now for the action shot to give you more of a sense of scale.
I think he turned out pretty well.  I would have linked up the split eggs a little differently in hind sight, now that I see how his arms turned out.  Perhaps I can take what I learned on him and if I end up doing the balrog, the balrog will look even better.

Here is the new cave troll next to the old one that I did at the same time as the old Lord of the Rings character figures I've already posted before.
At the time, two or three years ago I thought my original cave troll was the cat's meow.  I've come a long way.

Now all that is left for the game is to do the terrain for Balin's Tomb.




Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Fellowship is Finished!

Finally got all the Fellowship finished.  I was hoping to get Gandalf, the last member I needed to complete, finished earlier this week but I got side tracked painting goblins from the Escape from Goblin Town Hobbit box set from GW.  So I ended up finishing Gandalf this morning.
He is sort of tough to see in these pictures with his color scheme, but he ended up being a bit of a challenge.  I put his cloak on first, and then decided I wanted to do another layer of robes underneath, which meant retrofitting the long "skirt" that you can see in the first picture that is closer fitting but the same construction as I used on Boromir, Legolas, and Aragorn.  Ugh.  Huge mistake.  Should have put the skirt on first and then the cloak.  But it's on there, so it all worked out in the end.  The hat is also made of paper, and I thought it would be a really hard thing but it turned out not to be.  The brim is just an oval with a small pie shaped piece cut out of it so that when you then join up the to sides of the circle to close it, it forces the shape to be more of a bowl than just a flat circle.  The pointy part of the hat is essentially the same construction, just with more of a rectangular shaped piece rather than a circle.  Once I made the cone and glued it I cut the larger end at an angle so that it would sit correctly on his head (correctly = pitched backward like you can see in the second picture).  His staff is a tooth pick with a cut tile spacer glued on top.

Here is the entire Fellowship:
Hard to see them because there are nine, but you get the idea.

As I said in my last entry, I wanted to compare these new constructions to the Fellowship I did about 2 or 3 years ago.  The difference is quite striking I think.  My construction complexity, painting complexity, and general skill in building these figures has obviously increased over the years.  Check out the difference in the new and old (respectively) Gandalfs.

And everyone else for that matter ...
I think that over the years I've been inspired by Dale's more detailed figures, and seeing them opening up the possibilities for me to do more complex things with skirmish-based game figures that are only a little smaller than the ones he does.  For the humans and elf (except for Gandalf ... wait, is he really human?) I used the shaker peg for the old figures.  I still really like the piece, mainly because it makes everything one piece except for the arms, but I like the milk bottle look a lot better.  Also, being a bit bigger allows you to do more details in your painting.  I also used to love the felt cloaks and the felt Gandalf hat before I did the new ones out of paper.  Seeing how the paper can be painted to better match the overall look of the other aspects of the figure, making the figure look more contiguous, and the fact that the paper is actually more flexible and easier to shape than the felt, really has sold me on using paper.  The new figures are just so much better.  This makes me realize that I need to do a new cave troll for the Balin's Tomb game.

I hope you have enjoyed the last month and a half adventure into the Fellowship and the goblins of Moria.  I very much enjoyed "remaking" these figures and am overall very pleased with them.  I can't wait to put them on the table in a game!

Now, onto the Cave Troll and onto the terrain needed for these games in the mines of Moria!  Not sure when that will happen, but these two things are next on my Craftees project to-do list!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

36 Goblins, 3 Goblin Officers, and Two Frodos

For the Balin's Tomb scenario in the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game rulebook, you need 36 goblins (12 each of spear, shield, and bow guys), 3 goblin officers, and one cave troll for the evil side.  Of course, on the good side you need the Fellowship.

I started this project about one month ago (I checked on the date of the first posting about goblins I did) which means that I've been working on this project off and on over the past 5 weeks.  During that time I completed 36 goblins, 3 goblin officers, and all of the Fellowship, including an "invisible Frodo," except for Gandalf (who is at this moment on my painting table almost fully constructed, so he'll be finished this week).  There is NO WAY I could have ever painted this many regular miniatures during this time, not to the standard that I like to paint to.  As for the cave troll, I can't decide whether to go with my old cave troll (who frankly looks a little outdated at this point ... he is after all almost 2 years old!) or make a new cave troll with my more developed construction and conceptualization skills so as to be consistent with these newer LotR figures.  I'll probably end up making another one.  But my point is that a little over a month ago, I decided I wanted to put on a fantasy skirmish game for my gaming club.  In what will end up being about 6 weeks time, I will have completed all 50 figures for it (you need two Frodo figures).  Not bad!

Onto the figures.

Rather than showing you the "new goblins," I thought it would be more impressive to show the three different types with an officer all in one picture (almost as units here even though they do not all stay together in the same unit during the game).  So I've got a group of 12 spear goblins with an officer, a group of 12 bow goblins with an officer, and a group of 12 shield goblins with an officer all in the same picture.  I think they make quite the impressive horde!
Event though these miniatures are identical to each other in terms of body and feet, the variation in the arm position and the head tilts really makes them look a bit less uniform (more like a horde of angry goblins!).  I continue to be impressed, actually, with how much just varying the arm position increases the diversity of appearance of these clearly simple miniatures.

Onto Frodo ...

I wanted a regular Frodo and an invisible Frodo.
Nothing new construction wise, and this close up picture makes me realize I need to go back and make his blue pupils round again ... forgot to do that after I added the whites of his eyes.  Obviously there is no way to make a wooden figure "clear," so I went with the "ghostly" gray look for him when he is invisible.  I just stuck with the exact same pose of him holding the ring between his fingers, even though it wouldn't be correct when he is invisible as the ring would be on his finger.
Same traditional Hobbit construction.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, Frodo's clothing except for his bright green cloak is quite boring (just different shades of brown with a white undershirt that you don't really see because of all the layers he wears!).  The only new thing really with the non-invisible figure is Sting.  I just painted the sword blade a white undercoat and then used the florescent blue paint, that I sometimes use on my sci-fi figures for bright lights and buttons, and coated the white blade with this blue paint.  I ran the brush along the edges of the sword blade while the blue paint was still wet to take away some of the paint to allow the white to show through more, giving the impression that it is "glowing."

When I get Gandalf finished, I will do a shot with all the Fellowship, and then I will do a shot with my new Fellowship figures next to the old Fellowship Craftees I did a couple of years ago and let you be the judge of which you like better.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Orc Variant

One of the things I like about the new goblin construction is the head, ears, and shoulders.  I wanted to do an orc with a similar type construction, but in order to make the figure human sized, I would need to use the milk bottle construction method.  I combined the two and here is what I came up with.


Turned out pretty well, I think.  I used a bead that is one size larger than the ones I use for the goblins (I believe it is a 1/2" bead) and split it for the head.  The shoulders are the split 1/2" spool, just like for the goblins, and the ears are cut out of tile spacers, also just like the goblins.  I used paper for the leather "skirt" and tile spacers for the feet just like I did for the Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas figures.  I gave him some upper arm armor plating cutting tile spacers to fit.  You can see this best in the second and fourth images.  This is obviously a test figure, but I think I have enough to go on in terms of making a whole unit of Mordor Orcs, or I could also probably use this same construction method for Uruk-hai.

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