Big, Bad Bones

There is a fine line every hobbyist walks, where we balance our budgets against our love of our hobby. It’s especially difficult with the miniature hobby, because if you’re not completely dedicated to one single faction in one single game, you’ve got a lot of shiny miniatures competing for your attention!

I think that helps explain the appeal of budget miniature lines like Reaper Bones, which are priced low enough that you can get a decent amount of figures for your RPG or combat game without breaking the bank. But, the quality is often times lacking, which can be a bitter pill to swallow for people who regularly game with minis from Games Workshop or Corvus Belli!

The Reaper Bones Black Series promises better detail out of a new PVC formula, so I bought one to check out. The verdict? Much better! Not perfect, but a skeletal ogre for less than ten bucks is hard to come by, and the figure looks pretty great painted up!

I wanted the ogre to look like his armor has been kept in pretty good shape, but the rigors of time have taken hold a bit. The main body was painted with Studio P3 Menoth White Base, then touched up with Menoth White Highlight. I then went over the figure with glazes made from Daler Rowney inks, acrylic medium, and distilled water, and took some time to layer on some cool patina effects.

The skull was painted a camo green, and then layered up to white. All of the metals where layered up from a gunmetal to bright silver, then given a pretty heavy wash with a glaze made from Pthalo Blue and Burnt Umber inks.

Then I picked out all of the metals with Citadel’s Typhus Corrosion, which then got followed up with a little Ryza Rust effect to get some rust and funk going on with the mini!

I cut a base out of plasticard and built up the textures with Ave’s Expoxysculpt, then painted that grey with some dead grass for added impact. This guy was the unwitting beginning to a dead army, which I had no idea I was going to start when I picked this dude up!

Now the struggle is figuring out a way to make him work for both Vanguard and Oathmark, which are both games I would like to play when the pandemic is over!

Core Space: Skylark Crew

Core Space is one of those games that checks all of the boxes when I’m looking for a game: cool setting, great minis, and terrain? Well, Core Space is from Battle Systems, so the terrain is kind of a given.

I still haven’t played a game of Core Space, and anyone who knows me is probably having a pretty good chuckle at my expense. Yes, there is a pretty good chance that I’ll never play a game of Core Space. I collect and paint miniatures with the assumption that some day I’ll play them, but I know that I’ll just buy more minis to paint.

That’s why there’s four boxes of Runewars minis showing up tomorrow, by the way.

One of the great things about Core Space is the crew boxes, which give you a crew of space traders all ready to go. Sure, you can recruit NPCs, and even put together a crew from other crew sets, too. But getting a box with a crew set to go, and fiction behind them? That’s cooooool.

Jonathan Weaver is the captain, and he’s heading down a dark path. He wants to make it big, and the jobs are getting harder to pull off. He’s running guns and fencing goods, and that’s making his crew feel a bit at odds.

Marlowe Chibueze is Weaver’s conscience, but he also has to be careful because he’s an augmented human, and potentially a living weapon.

Faye Millicent is the rookie, and learning her way through the universe. She’s wondering if maybe she should have thought things through a little before signing on to the Skylark.

MAC is a contracted mercenary, who is using his earnings to continuously upgrade his gear, but no one knows what his end game is.

This is the fist crew I have finished up, but I pretty much bought everything there is for the game, so there’s a ton more to come!

Kings of War: Heroes of Iron and Stone (KoW Dwarf Project, part 4)

This last month has probably been the worst hobby month I’ve had in a really long time. I haven’t been really productive, and have been really distractible by some pretty silly things. Also, those things make perfect sense, too: surviving a pandemic responsibly means finding ways to connect with people without being physically in person, which means the audio group chat in my World of Warcraft sessions has been really alluring.

Downside, though- I suck at video games, and I would rather get my paints going again than spend a lot of hours leveling another character through WoW. So, back to the workbench!

Let’s get some badassery going with a regiment of Dwarf Rangers. This group of hearty warriors is made up of a mix of Mantic, Games Workshop, and Artisan Guild models, with the Artisan Guild figures having built-in magnetic bases so that I can pop them off the multi-base for some sweet Vanguard action!

The Runestone up front is landscape bark from the front yard, which I carved flat on the bottom, painted grey, then hand painted the runes and the dwarf face onto. It adds a pretty cool thematic element, and helps hide the base recesses for my removable figs.

The regiment is led by Herne and Frigga Ironheart, who lead the team together despite Frigga’s near constant intoxication. I really love these minis, and can’t wait to see them on the table. Any table. Someday…

Herne knew that they were in trouble. His group of rangers had been trudging through the fen for a week now, and their spirits were dangerously low. More importantly, their provisions were running even lower. Frigga had been sober for close to four days, and her temper had been at a steady boil since waking that morning.

And a sober Frigga can’t hit the broad side of an ogre’s nursemaid, he mused to himself. But she is capable of making everyone’s life a living hell until she gets something to quench that fiery thirst of hers.

The ranger pulled himself up from his hiding spot, and flicked his fingers in a silent signal to the rest of the regiment, which had concealed itself in the muck and the mire of the fen. Much more of this skulking about, and these warriors wouldn’t have much fight left in them.

They had been tracking a troop of kobolds for weeks, after coming across a horrific scene of carnage that the diminutive beasts had inflicted on a human village. Honor dictated action, and the hunt was on.

Suddenly, in the brackish water up ahead of them, came the sloshing crash of something big moving through the bogs that littered the fen. Whatever it was, it just made the misfortune of becoming today’s distraction from boredom.

Herne leapt up onto a nearby stump and started whooping and hollering, hoping to draw the as yet unseen intruder out into the open. Herne began to dance about on the stump, and at one point burst out into a lewd song about a halfling barkeep’s daughter.

The fen grew quiet, and Herne grew discouraged. He heard a less than amused “tisk” from somewhere behind him, and he knew that Frigga was quietly running through a list of insults to riddle him with.

There was a muffled yelp off to his left, followed by a ferocious crunching sound, and an all too brief scream of pure agony. Something flew through the air straight at him, and Herne barely had time to duck out of the way of the mystery projectile.

Herne hopped down from his perch and hunkered down into a low crouch, darting from the log towards where the mystery missile had touched down. After a moments searching, he found his quarry… or at least what was left of it.

The upper part of Duggart’s body was laying face down in the mud, both arms twitching at his side. A bubble of air popped as it rose to the surface next to the corpse’s submerged face.

His legs were entirely missing, the wreckage of his lower torso only hinting that extremities could have ever worked there in the first place. Duggart’s blood was seeping out in a lazy torrent, eventually mingling with the muddy waters of the fen in slowly swirling eddies.

A low, throaty chuckle purred out from the misty expanse, at once nowhere and everywhere. The hair on the back of Herne’s neck stood straight up, and he slowly unbuckled his daggers. His time on this earth may be coming to a close, but he wasn’t going to go to the Eternal Smithy without a fight.

There was an explosion of movement through the underbrush, and a humongous beast lumbered out of the fetid waters. The creature’s stunted legs ended with gigantic webbed feet, while its long, willowy arms were graced with craggy talons. Its eyes were flashing with wild excitement, its gore caked maw erupting into a vicious grin.

“TROLL!!!” bellowed Herne, even as bolts flew straight and true from at least a dozen hidden ranger’s crossbows. The troll reeled back in pain, then shook off the onslaught and redoubled its advance on Hernes position.

The doughty dwarf shifted his footing into a low fighting stance, and he juked to the left as the troll attempted to barrel into him. He chuckled quietly to himself, knowing full well that the creature had overestimated its odds of a quick meal.

The troll reeled up in sudden pain, scrabbling frantically at its leathery back. Frigga had somehow managed to find a perch between the creature’s massive shoulder blades, and had secured herself to its neck with a climbing harness.

Herne stood by to admire his sister’s handiwork for a moment, then gasped in mock horror as the tirade of obscenities she was yelling went on.

“I don’t think you can do that with a goat, even with a cask of oil, sister!” He shouted out. She replied with a curt suggestion of what he could do with his opinion.

A moment later, the troll fell lifeless to the muddy embrace of the fen, its eyes gouged out and a four inch wide trench of butchered flesh running ear to ear.

Frigga was a sight to behold as she unfastened the climbing harness, the fierce whites of her eyes flashing murder from beneath a mask of bloody gristle and mud.

Slowly, she smiled. Herne laughed. With Frigga able to blow off some steam, their ragged little group might be able to finish off the kobolds and get her to a proper tavern before her temper became truly impossible to manage.

Kings of War: Heroes of Iron and Stone (KoW Dwarf Project, part 3)

I got a little side-tracked while putting together my Ranger regiments for Kings of War, and decided it was time to get my heroes together while I was at it. I kitbashed a pretty nifty Dwarf King mounted on a nasty critter from some Northern Alliance bits I had kicking around, and a few choice plastic GeeDubs Dwarf bits. The end result is entirely unique to my army, and I couldn’t be happier!

I was trying to find the perfect Iron Juggernaught, and settled on a pretty cool Keg Golem from Rocket Pig Miniatures. He’s pretty gangly and awesome, but he wasn’t Dwarfy enough for me yet.

I chopped up some more Dwarf plastics, and now have another unique model for both KoW and Vanguard. Meet Major Oakshanks:

Throgrim Oakshanks was, frankly put, one of the most stubborn Dwarfs to ever grace the Iron Hall, and that’s saying something. He refused to concede in any endeavor, no matter the stakes. If there was an enemy that needed a good thrashing, your best bet was to get Oakshanks riled up and point him at what needed killing. It didn’t matter how grievious his own wound would turn out, his sheer force of will would bring him back to the Iron Hall again and again.

Sadly, this stubborn determination wasn’t limited to just fighting. Oakshanks refused to be bested in anything, whether it be martial, or simple sport.

One fateful afternoon, Oakshanks became enraged when drinking with some younger recruits. The veteran warrior was well into his cups, and refusing to admit that the Youngbeards were putting his drinking prowess to shame. Oakshanks was beligerantly trying to down an entire keg of brandy when a cohort of goblins made the unfortunate mistake of attacking the tavern.

The Youngbeards held their own admirably, but they lacked the training to fight off a bloodthirtsty horde of seasoned killers. This was when Oakshanks entered the fray, laying into the throng of savage creatures with a roar of drunken enthusiasm.

Before long, the greenskins were slaughtered, and the Youngbeards surveyed the damage. The tavern itself was smashed and barely staying upright, with vital load-bearing supports splintered everywhere. The upper floor was groaning and visibly shifting without much to hold it aloft. And the entire scene was caked with the slimy green visera of dozens of butchered goblins.

Amidst the carnage was Oakshanks, propped up on a pile of gore. His left arm had been hewn raggedly from his shoulder, and his lifeblood was sputtering from the stump. His insides were most definitely no longer inside, and his neck barely had enough flesh left to it to hold up the old veteran’s head.

But Oakshanks didn’t care. He was grinning like a loon, and trying to encourage the Youngbeards to finish their contest. The recruits gathered around the venerable elder, and offered him sips of brandy and mead until he passed.

It was a fortnight’s march back to the Iron Hall, and the Youngbeards knew they needed to return with Oakshank’s body so that he could be entombed with his ancestors. They set about patching up the corpse as best they could, but soon realized that the stench of decay would draw un-needed attention from scavengers or worse as they made their way home.

Ranger Stonebrow searched the wreckage of the tavern and found a large barrel of spirits. He tapped the bung, poured off about half the contents, then carefully righted the barrel again. Slowly, he pried off the top of the barrel, then reverently lowered the remains of the old warrior inside. With the top hammered back down, the aged Dwarf’s body would be perfectly preserved during the long trek back to the Iron Hall.

****

Stonebrow and the surviving Youngbeards returned to the mighty fortress keep of the Iron Hall 16 days later. They had encountered brigands, raiding parties, and a troublesome Elf with a pesky habit of setting traps and snares. Despite all of these obstacles, they returned with the body of Throgrim Ironshanks, still immersed in a massive barrel of fortified spirits.

The Youngbeards and Ranger Stonebrow presented the remains to the Iron King, who ordered his bodyguards to take the honored veteran to the clerics, who would then prepare his body for burial within the Tombs of the Ancestors.

The clerics received the body with great care, and gently, reverently removed the pruny, pickled remains from the barrel that had held them so well for more than two weeks. They laid the corpse on a slab of granite, and set about the busy work of preparing the body for buriel.

That’s when they noticed that Ironshanks was staring at them. Then, to their horror, he started moving his lips, then started coughing up think globules of liquor and ichor. He finally hacked up a chunk of something black and wet, then took in a wheezing, challenged breath.

“Put me back in the damned barrel, you mangey taints.”

*****

To this day, whenever the Iron Hall marches to war, Major Ironshanks is sure to be present, charging into battle in a golem that holds his remains, eternally embalmed in the choicest Dwarven spirits. He is as stubborn as ever, but less inclined to argue with the Youngbeards as a sign of respect.

Besides, he hasn’t been sober in years.

So much more to come!

Kings of War: Bring on the Dwarfs! (KoW project part 2)

It’s time that work in earnest began on my Kings of War Dwarf army. The nice thing is that I’ll be able to build up my Vanguard troops while I am at it, which is pretty cool!

The first regiment up is a group of Shieldbreakers, heavy armored badasses with big, nasty hammers!

With KoW‘s multibasing rules, I can put a regiment that represents 20 troopers together with 15 minis, and work in some scenic elements to make the group look cool. So, I worked in some elevation with rocks, a dwarf totem in the back, and a magnetized section for the regiment leader, who will be my Shieldbreaker for Vanguard:

It’s cool getting all these old GeeDubs minis back into circulation, and that unit leader is one of my favorite all time GeeDubs sculpts, so… huzzah!

Here’s the second unit of Shieldbreakers, this group has big, nasty axes just to shake things up!

I’ll have to get the unit leader out and get a photo of his on his own, but this puts me at two regiments of soldiers for my KoW army, and two troops for my Vanguard list!

Next up, I’ll get my Rangers together!

Kings of War Project (part 1)

This is a funny one, because it’s a project about 20 years in the making. In 1999, my younger brother and I rediscovered Warhammer Fantasy Battles and the fantastic Mordheim. We were pretty instantly hooked, and spent just about every Monday evening for the better part of 2 years building terrain, painting minis, and rolling dice.

That Warhammer 5th Edition box was pretty hard to resist, with awesome Bretonian knights facing off against really sweet looking Lizardmen. The hobby was still pretty young, and finding a stockist wasn’t the easiest thing to do. But we had a blast, and really got into terrain building and army painting. Then Mordheim came out, and we fell off of the freaking planet with happiness.

Mordheim was the beginning of my obsession with skirmish games, and I must have painted up about a dozen warbands. My Sisters of Sigmar were an amazing group of fighters, and we had some amazingly fun games.

Sadly, since then, I haven’t been able to scratch that itch. Frostgrave came pretty close, but there was something missing. I’m not sure if it’s the mild goofiness of late ’90s Games Workshop, or the generic stats for soldiers, but it wasn’t quite there.

Frostgrave is a fun and brutal skirmisher, and still near and dear to me. But I’m looking for something a little more… monstery?

I tried Kings of War: Vanguard when it came out, but I really didn’t like the older Mantic miniatures, and got distracted by Wild West Exodus and Infinity, which both have excellent miniature ranges. Saga: Age of Magic was just too fiddly for me, but I still had a good game or two before moving on.

Some of these Dwarfs survived this Saga: Age of Magic battle and will be a regiment of Shieldbreakers!

But now… I have that itch again, and I think I’m finding some relief from Kings of War. I haven’t played a game yet, but the regiment building is bringing back some good old fashioned nostalgia in a big way!

Also, the game can cross over with Vanguard, with results from the smaller skirmish game potentially affecting the larger Kings of War game!

So, there you have it. I’m building my regiments of Dwarfs now, with a few rules baked in for fun. First, I want to use as many older models as possible. I have a ton of old GW Dwarfs that I can mix with some newer figs to bilk out a pretty sweet army.

Second, I want to be able to remove the regiment leaders to use for games of Vanguard, which I will be able to do by building the multi-base for the regiment with a magnetized slot for the leader. I’ll follow up with that on my next post!

Third, I need to finish the Dwarf army before I start the other five!

Until then, I have about a hundred miniatures that I need to finish up!

Nighthaunt Project (part 2)

The second part of the Nighthaunt project is this pair of ponies, which turned out waaaay better than I was hoping for!

I used my airbrush to blend a nice earth tone brown into an eerie green, then pulled out some ethereal highlights with a light blue gray. Then some rust effects for the metal, and I’m calling them good to go!

Next up, I’ll share the leader of this motley group! I have a ton more Nighthaunt I should finish up, they really are a lot of fun!

Marvel Crisis Protocol: The Incredible Hulk

Nothing like being all smug about all your newly-finished Marvel Crisis Protocol figures, except maybe when you realize you never photographed all of the original release figures back when you finished them!

So, here’s the first of the OG MCP figs, Doc Banner’s altered ego…

Mean Green was a lot of fun to paint, but I really haven’t found an MCP mini that I didn’t have fun with!

One of these days I’ll remember to putty in that wrist seam, there’s no excuse really. But I’m still happy with the finished result!

Marvel Crisis Protocol: The Winter Soldier

The story of the Winter Soldier is not only one of my favorites from the MCU movies, I really loved the comics version as well.

Ed Brubaker did the unthinkable when he brought Bucky back from the dead. The running logic in the late ’90s was that pretty much any character death at Marvel could be un-done, except Uncle Ben Parker and Bucky Barnes.

After Bucky came back, I spent a bit of time wondering if Uncle Ben was going to stroll back through the door and scold Peter for making him wait at the library.

I wasn’t initially thrilled with the Winter Soldier sculpt for Marvel Crisis Protocol, but once I got it put together and painted up, my mind changed pretty quick. He’s a great looking figure, and I can’t wait to see how he plays!

Fantasy Realms: Gronk Boomshot

One of the cooler aspects of owning a 3D printer is seeing something you love from a great sculptor, buying the file, and several gooey hours later, holding your new mini in your hot little hands.

One of my favorite companies out there right now is Artisan Guild. The sculpts are gorgeous, with tons of character and expression. The Ogres and Dwarves are neck and neck in my heart right now, but Gronk Boomshot here pushes things over the top.

Peg leg? Check. Bandana? Check. Loincloth barely covering his booty? Checkity check. He’s the whole package.

I also wanted to play with skin tones here, so there is a bit of blue in the shading, and a lot of pinks and reds on his facial skin. A true delight to print AND paint!