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.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More Goblins and More Fellowship Members!

Six more goblins, archers this time, and two new Fellowship members, Sam and Legolas.
Nothing new, just a bit more of a crisp paint job (practice improves performance!) and a bit more dynamic poses for the shooters.  I'm trying to embrace my inner Marvel comics way of doing things, the more over the top the body position the more powerful and striking it looks.  Also used the new lighter skin tones, just so that there will be balance between the different goblin types (shield users, archers, and spear men).

Now, onto the Fellowship members ...
Samwise and Legolas.  Yes, of course I had to put the frying pan in Sam's hand given that the main game I am making these guys for is a Balin's Tomb scenario.  "I think I'm gettin' the hang of this!" 
As you can see I continue to improve on my cape construction. 
Leggy's quiver is just a tile spacer I cut to the right shape.  Sam's frying pan is a small round bead cut in half, then a toothpick was glued into the slot in the middle left over from the hole in the bead.  I had to trim down the toothpick a bit but the Craftee gods were on my side, I did it in one attempt which amazed me.  I thought for sure I would go through a dozen toothpicks before being able to cut a small sliver off one that would make it the right depth give the slot in the split bead.
I went a bit crazy with cutting the tile spacer for Legolas's right arm.  I really wanted to see if I could do an arm position with a hand that was a bit more realistic in terms of how a person really looks when they pull back a bow.  In the past, I've done more of an "Impressionistic" right arm position for bowmen, which is fine for these figures, especially the rank and file troops for a large historical minis game.  But for these slightly larger figures designed for Lord of the Rings skirmish games, I wanted to be a bit more detailed.  I'm pretty please with his arm.  His "skirt" is paper, the same as I did for Aragorn and Boromir.  However, his flares out a bit less, so it is closer to the width of the milk bottle at its widest point.

Pretty pleased with them!  Onto 6 more goblin spear men (which will mean I will have 36 total goblins at that point, 12 of each type!), and Frodo.  I'm going to do a regular Frodo and then a Frodo with the ring on.  I have an old Cave Troll that I'll just recycle for the game (I'll post pics of him later).  That will leave me just Gandalf and the Balrog to do.  These two figures, however, will be the most challenging ones I have to do, especially the Balrog.  We'll see how I do with them.  I might end up doing Gandalf first by himself as I think the Balrog construction is going to be something that takes me a while to do.  My ideas so far are a bit too involved, so I need to scale them back to something that I can actually do.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

More Gobbos and Fellowship Members!

Got another 6 goblins finished and two more members of the Fellowship done as well.  Here are the goblins.
Nothing really new here construction wise other than a few different arm poses (like the angled shield guy in the middle).  But, painting wise I did use two new skin tone colors.  Can't decide if I like them or not, one is a light greenish gray color and the other is sort of a "sand" color.  In this next picture, on the far left and right are the two new skin shades, while in the middle is an old figure that has the skin tone that I've been using to date.
I like the variety, but I have to be honest, I think I like the middle one the best in terms of skin tone.  And now onto the two new Fellowship members ...
Pippin and Gimli!  Pippin is obviously a variation of the "hobbit construction" I used for Merry, I just changed the angle of his arms a bit and had him facing to his right instead of to his left.  Gimli is the same construction as the hobbits except that I used a tapered plug for his head/helmet.  I also had to give him the axe and the throwing axe both.  For one, I think it looks cool.  Second, he used both during the time the Fellowship were in the Mines of Moria which is the game that these figures will be used in, at least initially.  The first Gimli I made years ago I used a slightly larger spool to make him a little taller than the hobbits.  With the addition of his feet, it just seemed to make him too tall if I used the larger spool for this figure when I lined him up next to the humans.  So I went with the smaller spool.
As is often the case, the more you do something, the better at it you get.  Pippin's cloak turned out quite nice and better than Merry's.  I got a better angle on the hood, the transition between the spool and the hood is seemless (important because the top of the spool is a part of the cloak when it is painted!).  It is easy to get carried away with these hero figures and try to do too many details on them.  There are a ton of things I could have done with Gimli.  His armor and coat are very complicated (do a google image search on him and you'll see what I mean!).  But he is still very small, and keeping with the minimalist approach with these figures, I decided to pull in the one thing that made him unique in appearance from the other Fellowship members, and that is, beyond his helmet, his blue bed roll slung across his lower back.  It's just a tile spacer cut to fit, but the blue color and the lighter colored ropes not only are indicative of the real character, they break up the high amount of ruddy browns of various shades to give the figure a bit more visual interest.
Pretty happy with them.  Now onto 6 more goblins and two more members of the Fellowship.  Hmmm ... who should I do next ...?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

33% of the Fellowship!

Okay, there is no way I am going to be able to wait to post my Fellowship figures until all of them are finished.  I like them too much and couldn't wait any longer to post pictures of them, so here they are.  They turned out WAY better than I even hoped.
Here we have Boromir, Merry, and Aragorn.  Now let's see them one at a time.
Waahhh!  Waahhh!  Waahhh!  Boromir, Son of Gondor, with his famous horn.
And his shield strapped to his back.  He, like Aragorn, was made using the regular old upside down milk bottle construction like I've been using for my fantasy figures for a while now.  Thing is, both he and Aragorn wear a coat-like piece of clothing (not to mention Aragorn's leather armor has a skirt to it), and this clothing sticks out from their bodies.  I could have just ignored this and painted it all on the milk bottle.  But the problem with this is that the milk bottle tapers smaller as you get down to their feet.  So it just would not have looked right.  In other words, had I done that, Boromir's black leather coat would have been wide at his shoulders and very narrow at his feet.  That just doesn't look right.  Speaking of feet, I actually put tile spacer feet on these guys, which is also different than the other fantasy figures I've been doing (the heroes anyway).  To make the coat, I used a piece of regular white paper and cut it to the right shape, put some glue on the milk bottle, and wrapped the paper around the wooden milk bottle.  It was a little fiddly, but honestly, once the glue dried, it is a really sturdy coat.  It only goes half way up the milk bottle but to remedy the extra thickness of the paper, I just painted the top lip of the paper as his belt, which makes it look very natural.  Everything else is standard construction except for his horn.  I just cut it out of a tile spacer.

And now to Aragorn ...
Same basic construction.  His coat/paper piece is the same except that it's a bit shorter in length, and I also cut two levels in it because the green coat is longer than the skirt of his leather armor.
Not the best picture but I learned from my other Ranger figure how easy it is to do a tile spacer bow and glue it on the figures back.  Did that with Aragorn too, as you can see.

And finally, Merry the hobbit ...

My favorite things about this figure are a) the feet, and b) the cloak.  The feet you can see well here.  They are tile spacers just like I did for the goblins (in fact his body is the same 1/2" spool as the goblins), but rather than leaving them consistent in thickness (like a pair of goblin boots would be in my mind), after gluing this figure to the base, I cut the feet down at about a 45 degree angle from the edge where it glues onto the spool body until you get to the end of the tile spacer.  Makes for a nice tapered foot shape I think, especially after I painted the hair on the top of the feet with the toes sticking out at the bottom.
The cloak is just two pieces of paper.  The first is a rectangle glued over the back.  The second is a crescent moon shape that is glued into place to make the hood.  Then I just painted it.  I have done some Fellowship figures in the past where I used craft felt to make the cloaks.  They look good because they are "fuzzy" like cloth (because they are cloth!), but they are pretty tricky to make and only super glue will hold them in place.  And invariably you get super glue all over the fabric which changes its texture and color, or worse than that all over your painted figure because you can't paint the figure once the cloak is on it without getting paint on the cloak, which of course ruins everything.  But the bad part is that you end up getting super glue on the painted figure usually when you are gluing the craft felt cloak into place, which is also a problem.  The paper was a lot easier to work with, I could use regular white glue to put it into place, I glued it onto an unpainted figure, and once the glue dries it is very sturdy.
Good luck at the sword arm and the other foot, as well as the profile of the cloak.  That was another problem with the craft felt cloaks with figures at this scale, they were just too thick.  The craft felt cloaks look more like parkas than cloaks.  Good look at his other hobbit foot too in this picture.

I hope you like them!  I'm working on another batch of goblins now as well as Pippin and Gimli.  Gimli is giving me a little trouble, but I'm confident I will work it out eventually.



Popular Posts

Labels I Use in Posts