Tuesday, January 21, 2020

"Granny Grate" Vehicles

Needlepoint plastic canvas sheets, otherwise known as "Granny Grating", is useful for lots of useful customizations, especially guns. One of the questions I received previously, when working on my WW II troops was when I was going to make a vehicle. As it happens, I generally like infantry more than cavalry, artillery, or vehicles, so I gravitate towards infantry games and those WW II troops were for one. However, I started working on a modern Africa project – something along the lines of the rules AK-47 by Peter Pig/RFCM – and I did intend to have vehicles in those. So what was I going to do about vehicles?

I had thought about it quite a bit in the past. I could see myself taking a block of balsa wood, sketching the outline of a vehicle, and using my Dremel tool to power-carve it out. Another was to do the same thing just for the basic outline, and then adding other elements to flesh out the details. Then one day I was sitting there painting the soldiers and spotted the granny grating...

I knew I wanted the vehicles to look a little "cartoony" because the figures were also. (Let's face it, when the head is bead and the entire body is a bead, the chibi effect is a bit cartoony, so everything else needs to be too.) So I sketched out the shape of a technical (generally  pickup truck with a heavy weapon on the back in the pickup bed) with a black marker.

Here are the pieces, cut out, making it a little easier to see. I seem to have lost the pictures of the truck assembled before I put in filler, but I basically took a hot-glue gun and did my best to make a box, after trimming all of the pieces closely.

Once I had the truck assembled I had to figure out how to fill in the holes. I started with acrylic modeling paste and I can assure you, that is a bad idea. It may look thick and goopy, but it dries thin so it requires a huge number of layers to fill out the holes and smooth out the "bumps". In fact, I still haven't succeeded in the smoothing.

Here is where it is at right now, after filling and sanding a number of times.

The hood of the truck is clearly too small, but it seems like a perfectly chibi-style truck! 😄

So, my next vehicle will still follow the granny grating method – I think it is a great way to beat out a basic shape quickly and easily – but I need to figure out how to fill the holes and get a smoother finish than what I have now. As I am working on a terrain board project right now I am eyeballing that wall spackle as a possible candidate. Another possibility is using wood filler. The latter can still be easily sanded and will take hobby paint very well.

If you have any ideas, please let me know. But I can see that this could be the start of a new series of pieces, as long as I can find a quick and easy way to fill the grating that still looks reasonable and does not resist hobby paint (such as, say, silicone caulk would).

Monday, January 13, 2020

New Project!

Like most of us in the miniature gaming hobby, I am much more productive when I have an actual project to work on.  I do better with goals and things to aspire to where there is a measurable "end" to the project.  I decided that my next game for Barrage in September 2020 will be a Conan skirmish game based on the battle at the end of the classic 1982 movie often called the "Battle of the Mounds."  It's that great skirmish at the end of the movie between Thulsa Doom and his minions and Conan, Subotai, Akiro, and the spirit of Valeria.  As a game, it should please fantasy wargamers, fantasy rpgers, and even military wargamers alike.  Here is a still from the movie towards the end of the battle.  Conan and the large stone markers are clearly visible here.

The board should be fun with the various mounds, funeral pyres, large stone markers, booby traps, etc.  The heroes need to have two of them survive the battle and they have to keep the princess alive until the end (she's chained to a stone but can be killed by anyone, including Thulsa Doom with a snake arrow just like in the movie).  I should be able to do the board no problem.  But what about the figures.

I've done enough games now to know that although I want to start with the heroes, it's best to end with them.  First, doing the other figures gives me even more practice so the heroes are more likely to turn out good.  Second, by doing the less interesting "fodder" figures first, I keep up my motivation for the heroes at the end.  If I do the heroes first, I lose interest in doing the run-of-the-mill fodder troops, so it's best to do them first.

There is already a scenario and map online for the current Conan boardgame that I am using for inspiration.  However, in terms of rules, I will use a variant of the ones I used for my Lord of the Rings games.  They seem to work very well for convention play.

So, what troops do I need?  For the baddies, I need 6 Black Guard troops, 6 Fangs of Set (and for each of these I need mounted and dismounted so that when they get knocked off their horses they can fight on foot if they are not killed).  I also need Lexor and Thorgrim as well as Thulsa Doom himself.  For the heroes, I need Conan, Subotai, Akiro, and Valeria.  Finally, I'll need to do a princess figure chained to a rock.  Not too bad!  I am feeling good about being able to get this project done in time for Barrage in September.

So far I have done one mounted and dismounted version of both a Fang of Set and a Black Guard figure as a test.  Here is a movie image of a Fang of Set speaking with Conan who is disguised as a priest.  I just love the armor and the helmet as well as the face guard.

And here are my dismounted and mounted first try figures for a Fang of Set trooper.

The construction is a bit involved, but I think they look pretty darned cool!  I got the helmet and the armor, the most distinctive features, to come out pretty well I think, and I can't wait to slap some paint on these guys to see if I can get them to look good.  I added a "lower jaw" to the horse head.  I hope it looks good when it is painted.  I also added "hooves" to the horse which is nothing but a split small plug glued flat-side down to the base.  This gives the horse more height, which it needed, and also makes it look more like it has hooves than my old way of just gluing the split egg directly to the base.

The Black Guard are a mish-mash of guys in the movie, but I want some consistency in my figures so I'm going for only one helmet and armor look.  I'm going for the helmet in the following picture for these figures.
I am going to also give them larger shoulder pads that are painted sort of like a snake head.  Here is the mounted and dismounted first try for the Black Guard.
Can't wait to get some paint on these guys too!

So far so good, I'll post some painted pics when I get these guys done.

More Pulp

Did a few more pulp/superhero figures a while ago but am just now getting around to posting pictures of them.  First up, I did a female version of the Grenadier.  Here she is on the right standing next to the male version.

Decided to give her some action and have her throw a grenade.  The only major difference is the use of the peg for her body that I have been using for female bodies for a while now, and her helmet/head is smaller in size.  It's much more proportional obviously.  I like the way she turned out.  I left the bottom of the plug that tapers down on the body to serve as the top of her boots.  Makes her tall, lean, and athletic looking I think.

Next up is a priest, a pulp or superhero "brick" character, and a street thug with a crowbar.

I have always been partial to the supervillain from Marvel comics called the Juggernaut.  I decided a similar type of helmet as his would make a great pulp figure, or even a low-powered superhero or villain.  The priest is a standard construction, nothing new.  Same for the thug.  It's all paint with those figures that makes them look different.
The thug's crowbar is a trimmed tile spacer.  The hero's helmet is a very large bead split in half.



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