Wednesday, July 04, 2012

July 4th Memories

I am 16 years old, sitting at the desk in my bedroom as my Dad works the grill outside. I've got the Twilight Zone marathon playing on my six-inch black and white on KTLA (this is back before SciFi/SyFy/PsiPhy/whatever bought up the rights) and I'm working on some 15mm Napoleonic Prussians (the first of many forays into historical miniatures - this one didn't work out too well in the end). It's a sweltering L.A. day but I've got my desk lamp on and I'm painting.

Ever since then, despite the heat, summer always puts me in the mood to paint miniatures.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

[Project Ork] Finis

Many moons ago I blogged about drinking the Kool-Aid and embarking on a Warhammer 40,000 collecting and painting project. At the time I promised pictures as the project unfolded.

What ended up happening was that rather than slowly building the army up over the course of the year, as intended, I painted everything up all at once in a stretch of about three weeks and then essentially put the figures aside, where they proceeded to sit in my display case without a whole lot to say or do. I felt unmotivated to take pictures and felt disappointed in the work I'd done.

So I've decided to sell the collection. Ironically, in the course of taking photos of the figures I've come to appreciate the paint jobs that I did, as well as the modeling and conversion work. I think my demoralization came not from the quality of the work, which in retrospect was up to my standards, but rather the realization that I wasn't going to use them for anything. It's a nice collection and I hope it finds a good home, but the project taught me that Warhammer 40K just isn't for me. I intend to use to proceeds generated by the sale of the Orks to fund a return to World War II skirmish, albeit in a scale new to me in that genre: 28mm. I've already bought a couple sample figures from Artizan and I'm quite excited to be working in the larger scale. Pictures (and hopefully some battle reports!) will definitely follow for this project, albeit at a slow pace. I'm determined to pace out my WWII project as I had wanted to do for the Orks.

But enough of future plans; let us take a moment to bask in the glow of what-might-have-been, Project Ork. The conversions and paint jobs were based on World War One German forces, inspired by an influential 'Eavy Metal spread from a White Dwarf of my youth featuring the work of the late, great Carl E. Cordell, aka the Orkmeister. On with the show, then - click and ye shall maketh the pictures to become larger.

Three Nobz with resin heads. I was very pleased with the Micro Art heads - without them, my concept wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

A squad of Stikk Boyz. Note the gunner of the Heavy Bolta and his gasmask!

I couldn't resist adding a unit of Shootas with a Rokkit Launcher and all those big guns!

Another Nob. I exercised my experience with painting WWII figures to add fun little details, like the chipped paint on his shoulder plate.

The other unit of Stikk Boyz.

Kommandos. "They're doin' their best, do what they can..." I was particularly pleased with how their masks turned out. The ones with goggles had their lenses painted with day-glo green paint to make it look like night vision.

The Kommando Nob, a resin monstrosity from Forge World. That axe is the most 40K element in the whole army. Ridiculously wonderful.

Killa Kans. I had a blast painting the WWI-style camouflage.

Looted Leman Russ tank. I added an Orky flame-thrower on the sponson mount, an Ork heavy bolter on the co-axial, and bolted-on armor. I was also quite happy with how the hand-painted Blood Axe logo on the turret turned out.

A bit of weathering, too.

I found this Cybork Mechboy on eBay, complete with the little helper  Gretchin; I added the dynamite chucker in the backpack.

My warboss. A mashup of the plastic Boss from the Assault on Black Ridge set, the resin banner pole from the Forge World Kommando Nob, and the original metal Kommando Nob. The cigar clenched in his teeth made him the perfect Patton-esque Blood Axe boss.

Another view of the first unit of Stikk Boyz.

I drilled out the barrels on all the guns. Maybe I did get a little carried away...

The Shootas again. I was really pleased with how the Rokkit Launcha turned out. The "rokkits" added a nice splash of color to all the earth tones.

Kommandos! You get a nice view of the night-vision goggles in this shot.

What a bad-ass.

I've always loved Gretchin.

I was quite happy with the bolted-on armor plate. It looks suitably funky and rusticated.

I have to say that Killa Kans with WWI camo was my original mental image around which the collection coalesced, and this shot pretty much matches that image exactly.

And we can't forget the Death Koptas! I patterned the paint jobs on German biplanes from Richtoffen's Flying Circus. My only regret here was that the Koptas didn't have more surface area to show off the colors!

In the end, the project was a success, but ultimately I realized I'm just not going to be playing any 40K and I'm not enough of a collector to be okay with having a display of minis that never get used for a game. So the Orks are off to find a new home (maybe your own?), one where they can hopefully do all the shootin' and stikkin' and blastin' their little green hearts desire. On to the next project!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Why I'll Always Love Miniatures Gaming

The RPG side of my gaming hobby has been experiencing a sort of golden age of late. I'm currently involved in...let's see, four campaigns, easily a lifetime high. (It's one of the reasons posts around here have gotten a bit thin on the ground--been too busy gaming to write about it!) But I've also been thinking a lot about the other side of my gaming hobby: miniatures wargames.

I've talked in the past about how that side has been subject to increasing atrophy over the years. Back in high school I'd say I was involved in minis wargaming at least as as much as RPGs. Nowadays I'm lucky if I can get in a game every six months. Most of my hobby today consists of painting figures. (Still gotta post pics of my Germanic Space Ork army that I put together last year...). Although this is partly down to a question of lack of time (viz. the "four campaigns" mentioned above, ahem), I also feel this is due to the wargaming and RPG hobbies going their separate ways over the last 10-15 years. There just simply aren't as many RPGers who play minis games as there used to be, it seems.

There are a variety of causes behind this, I think. Certainly, Games Workshop played its part by very much intentionally nurturing the perception of miniatures wargaming as its own thing (or, as GW calls it, The Hobby). I also think the emergence of pre-painted figures played a major role; people who were reluctant or indifferent towards painting no longer had to. The irony, of course, is that over the same span of time, D&D's various successive editions have become evermore miniatures-centric. Pre-painted figures enabled the quick and easy acquisition of lots of single models or small groups of models. But the idea of building and painting a large army and making the terrain to go with it? I've shown my miniatures cabinet to about a half-dozen gamers, ranging from total noobs to old grognards like me, over the last year. To a person, they have reacted with a sort of ambivalent amazement. The overall impression was summed up by one of their words: "I'd never have the patience to paint all those figures!" As if I did it all in a week of cocaine-fueled frenzy.

A while back I saw someone post some provocative words online. (Just the once?) The words were to the effect of, "Miniatures painting is a craft. It's not an art. Get off your high horse." I was a little taken aback at first, but the more I thought about it, the more I tended to agree. But I'd add a corrolary: done right, playing a miniatures game is where the art comes in. The sight of a table full of lovingly-crafted terrain and hand-painted miniatures is something to truly give one pause, to remind one of the beauty of human endeavor and creativity, hours of work simply for the sake of having a fun afternoon in the company of a few friends. I was reminded of all this today when I followed a link from the always-excellent World War 20mm blog to a series of pictures taken at a recent club game. Here's a selection of my favorites; the rest can be found here.

Those are pictures taken from the game in progress, not just posed to look pretty. That organic, almost alchemical process of figures interacting with terrain to create spontaneous vignettes...if that's not art, I don't know what art is. Aside from my own selfish reasons, I really wish more RPGers were also miniatures wargaming enthusiasts. It's such a rewarding aspect of the gaming hobby, and it's because of pictures like those above that, as much as my participation might have shrunken over the years, I'll never truly walk away from miniatures gaming.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...