Are your “Old Figures Washed up”

One of the first boxes I made over 20 years ago! Even in the cleanest conditions dust will accumulate over time!

One of the first boxes I made over 20 years ago! Even in the cleanest conditions dust will accumulate over time!

Over the years I’ve amassed a pretty large collection of miniatures. Recently I have been going through them and paring down periods and scales to stuff I’m really going to game with or at least build in my lifetime…. My buddy Steve and I used to be “Big” into American Civil War and built up large collections of 15mm figures for our then favorite rules Johnny Reb 2. Well over time you find other periods and scales and the figures find themselves on the shelf, disused for years.

 

Even in the case, and the case in a cabinet, dust manages to creep in over the years! The outline in dust shows were the first figures have been moved for washing.

Even in the case, and the case in a cabinet, dust manages to creep in over the years! The outline in dust shows were the first figures have been moved for washing.

Recently in going through my collections I took a look at my ACW collection, recalling all the fun times had playing with them I remarked to Steve “we should start playing these again” he agreed. I gave my figures another look over and noticed they just did not look as nice as I remembered them?Over the years a fine layer of dust had coated them, even stored in my custom cases dust had crept in. What to do? Well a bit of air and a soft brush might help but I have always found that it was tough to really clean them well that way as the brush misses a lot.

For almost as many years as I have painted and played minis I have pushed the boundaries of prepping and painting them. Long ago and before it was common or even popular I was priming with “automotive” primers to give the paint a secure “bond” to the metal, resin, or PLASTIC! Years ago I began gloss coating my figures before “Dull” coating to protect them from damage caused by dropping, pizza fingers, and normal wear during play.  I knew that since these figures were some of the first I had used that method on that it would be safe to WASH them!!! Yes wash them… put them under a “gentile” stream of room temperature water and brush them gently with a large, VERY soft, long bristle,  brush. I use either a cheap one from a craft store or better yet one of my wife’s “old” makeup brushes.

By having the water directly hitting the brush it will spread the bristles and push them into and across the figure.

By having the water directly hitting the brush it will spread the bristles and push them into and across the figure.

Gently drying, no het. I'm also blowing in an oppisite direction of gravity to help from blowing figures off to floor. this would be better done over a table with a soft clot below.

Gently drying, no het. I’m also blowing in an oppisite direction of gravity to help from blowing figures off to floor. this would be better done over a table with a soft clot below.

If you try this I recommend doing only a few figures at a time so you can monitor the effect of washing and if there is a problem stop before it affects your entire army. Gently work the brush around each figure as the water flows the dirt away.

You also will need to force dry your figures. Just letting them set and “air” dry is not recommended as you may get some “spotting” from the minerals in the tap water. I should mention at this point that ALL my figures use a magnetic basing system (some figures directly on magnets, some on metal, with either metal or magnet lined drawers). The magnet makes the process much easier since the figures will stick on the surface of the metal or magnet covered board I use to wash and dry them on. This keeps the water and air pressure from tumbling the figures off the board… If you have a distilled or water filter system on your sink use that.

Using air compressor (on low)

Using air compressor (on low)

So once you have washed your figures you need to dry them and you can do this several ways. I use air pressure (soft) just enough to blow water off and leave a clean dry figure. I have a air compressor in my shop with adjustable nozzle, but a small can of “Dust Off” (compressed air) or a hair dryer will work fine. If you use the hair dryer don’t use the “heat” just the cool air. Heat may damage the paint or basing material (some magnetic sheet material has a layer of plastic glued to it and heat may cause the glue to melt and the sheets to separate). You need to decide what works best for YOUR figures.

 

Those dusty Confederate figures cleaned and returned to their clean drawer. Its a bit hard to see the difference in web pictures but its very apparent in person. These figures need some re-flocking but I'm going to re-base them for "Fire and Fury" anyway.

Those dusty Confederate figures cleaned and returned to their clean drawer. Its a bit hard to see the difference in web pictures but its very apparent in person. These figures need some re-flocking but I’m going to re-base them for “Fire and Fury” anyway.

Another reason for “drying” the figures is that most of us are using regular PVA (wood glue) for applying our basing materials and this glue will break down when its wet to long. I get my figures fairly dry, no standing water on them and let them air dry the rest of the way. WARNING!!! all my basing is magnet, steel, plastic, or some combination of these “water” resistant materials, if you are using cardboard stock (dude it’s 2015 not 1972!) be careful as the water may/will damage your basing. I now gloss coat my basing materials after the figure is finished so its sealed along with the rest of the figure. (I’m sure my figures will last many generations beyond me!)

So trot out those old figures, wash them up, and give them a new lease on life!

Bill Witthans

Old Glory figures after their "bath"

Old Glory figures after their “bath”

 

ZULU Nation

 

ZULUHospitall

Alphonse_de_Neuville_-_The_defence_of_Rorke's_Drift_1879_-_Google_Art_ProjectThought I would post a few pictures of an ongoing project of mine. Years ago at the “HISTORICON” wargaming convention I picked up the “Old Glory” 15mm “Rourke’s Drift” ZULUHospitall3set. It’s a great set with all the buildings and figures you need to do the classic battle of the ZULU war where around 120 British Soldiers held of over 4000 Zulu warriors. The British finally defeat them and force their withdrawal!

ZULUHospitall2

Well it sat on my shelf for over 10 years without me painting it! Just to many other shiny projects got in the way….well I finally decided I was not going to ever do it and offered it for sale! it was bought by a good wargming buddy John Curran. Unfortunately John then convinced me to paint it on commission, dang I sold it because I did not want to paint it and now I was…lol!

ZULUMain

ZULUMain2Johns a good “egg” and has given plenty of time so I thought I’d put up some pictures of my progress for him as well as let those of you thinking about buying the set see them out of the box and painted! Below are the “Cook house”, “Kraal”, and the “Redoubt”

ZULUKrallThe castings are all pretty good and require only a little work to make ready for paint. The roofs do need a bit of work and I installed some little balsa wood blocs to keep the roofs aligned properly. I also hand made the porch roof supports on both buildings. The colors are as close as I could determine from evidence and I painted it with a fair amount of weathering. The casting were all washed, primed with automotive primer, painted, and thumbs_rorkes_drift-0001then coated in clear gloss followed by some matte spray.

Cant have “Rourke’s Drift” with out “Zulu’s” here are a few “regiments” married and unmarried. The different “Zulu” regiments had different colored and patterned “cowhide” shields for unit identification.ZULUfig2a

ZULUfig1

For now they are being stored in a custom case made out of an old wine box. So we have four 24 man regiments.

ZULUfig2  ZULUbox ZULUbox2

 

 

 

An “Unexpected Journey” Kingdom Con in San Diego

cpsdentrance-for-flip_home_masthead

Your view as you enter less than a block off the freeway! quite pretty when compared to the “LA” con venues, and moments away from Mission Bay beaches, Old Town, and Coronado Island,  hint…”wife appeal”

With no Spring gathering of HMGS-PSW during their usual April con period (whats up with these guys?) Steve G and I went to San Diego’s “Kingdom con convention” held April 24-28, 2014, one of the rare gatherings on the US West coast for miniaturist  in what we call the “Desert of the Wargaming World”. When we locals call this area a desert we don’t mean there is no miniature wargaming around, no there are many places that have far less gaming going on, we in fact have quite a bit going on, its just that like life in the desert its hard to find, you have to look under rocks and behind bushes to find it. Over the years many of us have tried to bring the southern California Miniature Wargaming scene closer together under one roof so to speak with varying degrees of success and in Kingdom Con we have yet one more group trying it.

Kingdom con has been going on for several years and has been doing better each year. I had never attended it as local LA cons and my involvement with HMGS-PSW kept me busy enough try to get things better in the Los Angeles area. This year would be different as my break with the Los Angele’s conventions and in fact HMGS-PSW of whom I had been a member for more than 20 years had left me with both the time and the yearning to attend a different gathering and meet different people.

Since my time as President of HMGS-PSW had brought me into contact with a lot of the different groups around the Pacific Southwest on a organizational level, I was on a lot of their yahoo groups, mailing list, and various events still dropped into my email box.  When the announcement for this years Kingdom con arrived and a quick glance at their event list revealed at least 3 miniature events I’d be interested in including a SAGA Tournament event I became very interested. Like I said earlier most of us are gaming in our own circles (some under rocks) and it’s sad we seldom venture out to see and share with others the fun, passion, and camaraderie of the Miniature wargaming community. This is particularly prevalent in the Historical section of the hobby where many of the old stick in the mud’s bemoan the state of the “Historical Wargaming Hobby” but can’t be induced to rise up off their “lardy arrses” and get out and participate! Such was my feeling when I tried to get a bit of interest in some of us making the drive down to see what was going on there.

So after lifting a few rocks and bushes I found a few stalwarts who decided in favor of making the trek down. Tim Daun (another former President of HMGS-PSW) his wife Jen, Steve Gausche (my #1 gaming bud and also a former member of HMGS-PSW, 15+ years) all were up for playing SAGA the DARK AGES historical game tourney with a different group and away from our own rocks. So cutting to the chase we all made the almost 2 hour trip (for us) Saturday morning down to San Diego arriving at the Crowne Plaza hotel in beautiful Mission Valley just in time for the sign in, checking of Warband list, and the 10am start time for the first of 3 rounds of competition.

Before I get into the Con and the Tourney lets talk about the drive because I know a few of you “Lardies” are already thinking “1 or 2 hour drive!!! I’m not doing that! Ahh horrible, horrible, why can’t they have the convention closer to me? in fact cant it be just up the block!” Well the people who put these things on, do all the work to bring you a bit of fun, and rarely get to enjoy their own con do the best they can for the most part. Cons are not easy things to put on (I know I’ve been responsible for more than half a dozen) and the least we can do is to come and support them because only through that support they will grow into the cons we all dream about attending. That 1-2 hour drive in both directions…well call some friends and carpool, it was a very pleasant time for us to sit and kibbitz on many things, wargaming, cons, painting, and life in general. The drive was really much the same as the pre-game “bs” that normally goes on with all gaming groups except we were moving at 70 miles per hour……..

My, My, I do get up on that soap box don’t I…..

So we arrived at the Crowne Plaza Mission Valley right off the freeway, where a quick right and left brought us into the parking lot were the attendant politely asked if we were here for the convention, “yep” “great sir, $3, please” $3? Dam I haven’t seen parking that cheap in 20 years at a con! And you got in and out privileges with out being a over nighter!!!!  The parking lot was very large and had ample parking despite becoming quite full during the day always had spots open. There were two convenient doors available to load in and out from and within moments we had gathered up our mini’s, terrain, rules, and with a short walk stood in the lobby. Déjà vu! I realized that it was the same great hotel that my wife and I would occasionally stay at with the kids back in the day when coming to visit relatives here in SD, lovely place with a great pool area, beautiful grounds, pleasant helpful staff, and unbelievably…a fair priced restaurant with good food! (ok the restaurant is not cheap fast food but its not overpriced crap and you don’t have to walk our drive out)

The people at the Kingdom con registration desk were very friendly and after plopping down $20 bucks for our one day badge they pointed us in the direction of the upstairs “Historical miniature’s” area in the Grand Pacific Ballroom and even sent a “guide” along to make sure we found it…or was it to prevent us “Historical” guys from wandering around and ruining the rest of the con?…just kidding!

King12

Nice Room, plenty of elbow room and well lit! Local Wargamers Steve Gausche (3rd on left and Tim Daun (1st on right) prepare for the first round. Tony the events organizer is on the right just past Tim.

The room was nice 30 x 70, well lit! and filled with plenty of tables and chairs.  Several games were already going on and in the middle there were 2 long sections about 4 x 16 with terrain in-place for the SAGA tourney.  Tony the SAGA events organizer Tony was there setting up terrain and getting everyone’s Warband info recorded. The turn out was better than I expected 7 locals and 3 of us “northerners” for a 10 player 3 round competition. I planned to run my “Normans” and in a basically “stock” formation, levy bows (12), warrior Crossbows (8), 4 Hearth guard units (4×4=16), the Hearth guard would fight in 2 four figure units and one 8 man unit. I figured this would be fairly balanced and give me a good chance in most situations. Tim Daun was also going with his band of choice the Anglo Danes, Steve who I thought was going to run his Vikings switched up and brought out the Byzantines!! (he regretted this a bit later when we found out how the different rounds were to be played)

Everyone quickly got down to business, slash, hack, charge!

Everyone quickly got down to business, slash, hack, charge!

Now I’m not a tourney player in fact this was my first real experience at a tournament, not that I haven’t seen them or have a general knowledge of how they work, it’s just I do not play games that lend themselves to tournament type play. SAGA is different for a historical game and follows a trend of “newer” historical games to be designed along a one on one competition ala the “War hammer” mold. Yes guys get over it the younger generation of gamers who started with Warhammer and not Napoleons battles or the traditional type Historicals we learned and were brought up with are now getting into historicals and the resulting games often have a flavor or play style that harkens back to their roots! Of course many of the traditional wargames like WRG, DBA, and others have similar styles of one on one competition play. I like some of these newer games and think they help give new life to our hobby of “historical Wargaming”, people and times change and we have to change with them or fade away….

That being said I figured the tournament would be 3 rounds of fairly straight forward SAGA with the winner being the chap who did the best, period…Yes it did end up being the chap who did the best but the “straight Forward rounds” were quite a different matter. Tony had mentioned in an email that each of the scenarios would be different, I assumed they were the scenarios out of the book and that where things started to go wrong for me and my Normans… then came the announcement that we would not as normal be rolling terrain up but playing on pre set boards, well there was strike two for the Normans as terrain placing is quite important for them as a mobility/range weapon warband…oh well into the fray.

Paul and his "Breton's" my first opponent. Great player, calm and scary at the same time!

Paul and his “Breton’s” my first opponent. Great player, calm and scary at the same time!

My first opponent was Paul a very nice San Diego player (as they all were) and he brought out to my surprise another horse army the Bretons! Much like the Normans except the hearth guard are all missile /javelin troops! They can run up and shoot! then melee before you can say “Jack be Nimble”. As I mentioned the terrain was pre-set something I was a little disappointed in since I think “setting” the terrain is a big part of many warbands depending on who they are facing and this coupled with my javelin armed opponent had me a bit un-nerved. I fought hard but my Normans were unprepared for the Javelin armed horse so my poor die rolling coupled with Paul’s good play and good roles soon had me on the ropes. This round was a win by casualty points we marked our battle report cards, handed them in and went for a lunch break.

My Normans appear to be "stunned" at the ferocity of Paul's Breton's as they sweep round my Hearth guard delivering devastating Javelin attacks.

My Normans appear to be “stunned” at the ferocity of Paul’s Breton’s as they sweep round my Hearth guard delivering devastating Javelin attacks.

 

Our lunchtime view from "Islands" resteraunt in the hotel! was beautiful as well as relaxing!

Our lunchtime view from “Islands” restaurant in the hotel! was beautiful as well as relaxing!

For lunch Steve and I almost went out but then decided to try the Hotel, always a dicey proposition, but the place “Islands” had fair prices (for a hotel) great service, and the food very good! So we ate relaxed, talked about the mornings battles, soon it was time to walk back up to our final two rounds. Both Steve and I were apprehensive about our next battles feeling we had used the “wrong warbands” for this shindig but we were having fun, and learning quite a bit about other Warbands.

The next round for me was a “Sacred Ground” scenario with 3 pieces of terrain laid out evenly across the center of the board that had to be taken and held each turn. At the end of each of your opponents turns if you held an Un-contested piece of sacred ground you received points according to the value of the figures there.

Rene ponders his opening combos.

Rene my second round opponent with his Welsh, ponders his opening combos.

Now  I was facing a Welsh Warband and felt much more confident going in as I knew my Warband would have some of it strengths come into play, it’s mobility, and it’s ranged weapons. For this game my die rolls were also better and I won the initiative roll and used my Cavalry’s mobility to move out to the objectives securing them by the second turn before the Welsh. On my left my Crossbow men moved in to secure one objective while some Hearth guard Cavalry secured the center section, now I had two of the three objectives and it was only turn 2 and the beginning of scoring. The Welsh player (it was Rene….) moved his Javelins into the far objective  and brought more of his men forward to try and push me off the objectives but my opening moves had seemed throw him off his game much like what happened to me in the first game and he now had to play catch up.

My Warlord and a small Hearth guard secure the center bit of "Sacred ground"

My Warlord and a small Hearth guard secure the center bit of “Sacred ground” while my larger Hearth Guard deals with his left flank units. My crossbows are just to the left holding the other objective.

I had placed my levy archers in a position to be able to cover both left and center objectives, this with back up by my Hearth guard cav coupled with the fact that I only had to fight defensively gave me the advantage and after a bad third round his losses forced him to abandon the one objective he held and join his other troops trying to force me off the  the center one. He briefly took the center, long enough to get two points, then a flock of arrows and a charge by another of my Hearth guard retook the center objective for the Normans. It was not a good day to be the Welsh, Norman win for game two (15 points for Normans, two points for the Welsh if I remember).

Fierce fighting for the center bit of "Sacred Ground" by the Welsh looked great but failed to help them as my larger Hearth guard having defeated the left flank switched to the center and drove the Welsh back with heavy loses retaking the center objective!

Fierce fighting for the center bit of “Sacred Ground” by the Welsh looked great but failed to help them as my larger Hearth guard having defeated the left flank switched to the center and drove the Welsh back with heavy loses retaking the center objective!

Steve was having better luck with his Byzantines and managed a draw against a tough opponent (the San Diego guys were ALL tough, well, practiced opponents who knew their Warbands!) Tim was now 2 and 0! Woot! I must mention here again that all the other players we met here from the San Diego area were great opponents, many allowing slight adjustments or corrections to be made during the game, very fair guys, who made even losing to them fun!

Dave was to be later mt 3rd round opponent, Anglo-Danes with lots of sharp Axes!

Dave was to be later mt 3rd round opponent, Anglo-Danes with lots of sharp Axes! This was the terrain for “Slaughter Fest”

My third game I faced the Anglo Danish with their great Dane Axes! This games was a mess from the first move! Tony the event runner gave us the scenario sheet as we sat down (would have been better to hand these out in the beginning of the day or even posted on the con event outline) and as I read it and Tony explained it I knew I was lost with my Normans. The scenario was called Slaughter House and points were to be awarded only for those figures killed in Melee!!! “What” I asked…”Melee only?” and me with a shooting warband who’s warrior crossbow figures get no credit for bow kills and have armor like his levis coupled with guys on Horses that are on bigger bases thus getting less figures into melee much of the time.  Well, it’s going to be fun trying this…..ohh and by the way figures who are killed regenerate into new warbands that can basically come back onto the board anywhere as long as they are not on your enemies home edge and must be “short” away from any enemy warband. The only Warband of his (8 man Danes Axes Hearthguard) I wiped out appeared to my rear right after I killed it at the beginning of his turn. Normans as expected went down in flames…..

Tim Daun brought his Anglo-Danes, his "A" game, and fought with a "northern fury" to take First Place in the field of 10 players! Well done Tim!

Tim Daun brought his Anglo-Danes, his “A” game, and fought with a “northern fury” to take First Place in the field of 10 players! Well done Tim!

So despite a few problems (mostly with my choice of Normans) I felt the tourney was very well run, we all had a great time, and our hats are off to all those guys in San Diego who worked so hard to put this together!!! Thanks, Tony, Rene, Paul, Dave, and all the rest well done!

The results well Tim Daun from our local group the “Dogs of War” took first place with a 3-0 win count! Way to go Tim! For his efforts he took home a 6 point Scott’s Warband from Gripping Beast! Nice!!! 2nd and Third place I believe went to Dave and Paul, One took a plastic Gripping Beast set and the other a full boxed set of Vallejo paints donated by me. Now yours truly also took home a prize because in the end my defeated, battle worn Norman’s were still judged to be the best looking Warband of the ten there! I got an Osprey Viking book I did not own yet! Our first SAGA tourney was over….

The rest, well since we spent most of the time in the SAGA room so the rest of the con was not well investigated…we took a stroll around the con at lunch and after the tourney and it was looking pretty well attended, not as big as a Strategicon convention but it felt much more vibrant, “younger” if that is the right word and it also seemed to have more miniatures stuff, not so much historical (although that is steadily growing) but the War Machine and 40K guys filled the larger ballroom! (60×160) There were many demo games scattered around the foyer and main hall with one catching my interest (sadly I did not have time to play) it was a miniature game with a beautiful board taken from the 1960’s movie “The Naked Prey” where Cornell Wilde plays a white man chased for sport by natives across the harsh African landscape while wearing nothing!!! Great idea! I happened to see local gamer Harry Morris (the Bengal Club) and his son playing in that one.

Robert Boyens always one of the "rocks" at conventions showed up to run his "Signal, Close Action" wargame. Looked mighty nice and would have loved to try it!

Robert Boyens always one of the “rocks” at conventions showed up to run his “Signal, Close Action” wargame. Looked mighty nice and would have loved to try it!

Robert Boyens (HMGS-PSW member) was down there and ran his beautiful wargame in the age of sail. I also saw a few other LA area gamers there in various games. I saw a large 28mm “DR. Who” game with very nice Victorian terrain. The Minis in the Sci Fi/Warhammer/Warmachine area were also a treat to see, some very nice work. Judging by the paper cups, large bottles of “the good stuff” those boys know how to game! Privateer Press had a BIG presence here! there were also “living history” re-enactors, Board gamers, RPGs, and all the rest one finds at a “mixed” venue.

The dealers room was packed but little for the “Historical Gamer” perhaps that will change with better attendance by historical gamers.

That pretty much ended our day we loaded the car, then walked back to the restaurant area where the bar had opened and had a few toddies, some delicious sushi rolls, and discussed the days battles….

So my overall impression with Kingdom con was very favorable, I admit the Historical side was still lacking and without more support from the locals it will not grow but they do have the makings of a great con if they can convince some of those “locals” that “if we build it they will come!” With a few more Historical games and better advertising it will take off! For us from the Los Angeles area it was in reality almost less hassle then one of our local airport cons… It was in a great city, in a great location, with great people, I plan to put on a game and take wife next year!

Bill Witthans

Links to more info on this event.

Kingdom Con

Dark Ages Terrain

I have a pretty busy life with work, family, and life’s other distractions so when I do paint or build I tend to be very, very intense and as such I have one bad habit that eventually causes problems for me while painting or building. The problem is that I tend to multi task or have several projects going at once in various stages…while that is not necessary a bad thing it can cause quite a mess on my work bench. Now before I start whining to much I must say I’m extremely lucky to have the work bench and tools I have since this is more than most miniaturist ever have, I’ve worked hard for years to put it together and I’m very thankful for it. This “gripe” is just about using it and that applies to all of us no matter how big small your setup is. So the problem in doing several projects at once or moving to fast through any “one” project is that I have a habit of just dropping one tool and picking up the next one, scraps, shavings, paint, and anything else is just pushed aside to save time, finish a project and get it on the gaming table….This leads to a work bench that although bigger than most only has a tiny space in the middle for working. I also find dust and scraps form other projects contaminating my current paint jobs! Well the other day I got fed up and decided to do a major cleaning and re-organizing of it and despite my initial unhappiness at doing it instead of actually painting something I soon got into the swing of it and actually had fun! I soon found items I had lost or forgotten, the barrel of a Russian T-26, the machine gun off a Russian JS3, half a dozen various minis in different scales and periods, a “new” bottle of glue, a long lost “favorite” paintbrush, and a dozen other little gems buried in the rubble of dozens of long finished projects. I cleaned and tossed large pile of old paint bottles, broken brushes, scraps of every type, pile of minis I decided I would not use, and on and on….ok long story short after going through the whole area including drawers and shelves and reorganizing them I had a work bench back that was 4 times the size I was working on, I had a spot that was organized and I could now be twice as fast as I was working in the “cluttered” space as before. I now did not waste time looking for things….”ah so much better!”

Ahh, the pleasant time I've spent here!

Ahh, the pleasant time I’ve spent here!

So after basking in the glow of a job well done I decided to rip into a new project that I had been putting off specifically because I had so little “working” room on that bench! Dark Age terrain and buildings.

The buildings as I got them off "ebay" the original owner had just given then a once over with brown paint....

The buildings as I got them off “ebay” the original owner had just given then a once over with brown paint….

I love terrain! Even badly painted miniatures look good on a nice bit of terrain! My latest foray in miniatures took me to a period I’m not very familiar with, the “Dark ages” and after buying and painting a few Warbands it was time to delve into some real “Dark Ages” terrain. A few scans of EBAY brought me someone’s cast offs, a couple of Saxon / Viking buildings (by Architects of War?), some Wattle fencing, and a couple of small fishing boats. These were either unpainted or just had a bit slapped here and there. In many games building and terrain need to be clearly defined to avoid disagreements as to who’s in and who’s out of it. In SAGA when troops occupy a building any enemy troops that come within “VS” (very short) or 2” must melee defending units or stay out side the “VS” range. This leads to lots of measuring and re-measuring, in some games. I like buildings with bases because it gives me a chance to better blend the terrain feature into my matt; the buildings I had bought had no bases. I decided to add my own and incorporate the 2” melee zone into them so that at a glance we could tell if a unit was in the zone or not.

First thing you want to do is find the proper basing material!!! I can’t stress this enough!!! Wrong choice here and all the rest of your hard work will be for nothing. I cry every time I see someone put their lovingly painted $40 building on a .50 cent base!!! “ok” you say smart guy “what should I use?”

You want a material that is;

1.    Is easy to work with and not to cost prohibitive. Remember though that going cheap here may cost you in the long run!
2.    Will not warp! (Art board, Card board, etc…bad choices) Plywood, MDF, and other materiel may work but HEAT and HUMIDITY affect these materials as well as the thickness you use. So consider local conditions and “chose wisely young Jedi”
3.    Is easily obtainable for later building projects to give your terrain consistency!

I have been in this hobby longer than some LAFers have been alive and one of the things I learned over the years was to base my figures and buildings well as this increased my (and others) enjoyment of them as well as later on if I decided to sell them they always sold faster and for a better price when the buyer realized he would not have to re-base!

Yes the plastic used in the base was also used to re-surface my workbench!

Yes the plastic used in the base was also used to re-surface my workbench!

I use plastic sheets (Styrene) from 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Its easy to cut with many different tools and in a pinch can be just “scored” with a sharp knife and snapped in two. I having LOTS of tools available to me around the shop so I used a band saw but the same angled cut can be done with a “copping saw” (see picture) and they are handy and not expensive. A very good investment for the terrain builders work box!

Coping saws for fine cuts in wood or plastic. A great tool!

Coping saws for fine cuts in wood or plastic. A great tool!

The plastic used here is not from a hobby shop but direct from a plastic supplier. I can’t stress enough that many times we miniaturist need to think “outside” the box of getting all our materials from only “hobby” sources! Many times you can get your materials much cheaper from other sources, however you may have to purchase much larger pieces or quantities at first costing more, in the long run you will save a bunch! The sheet you see here came from a 4 foot by eight foot sheet!!! Yes and it cost about $50, but I had them cut it in half for transport and ease of working later. I have had and used this sheet for a dozen projects over the last 10+ years and saved $100s plus dollars it would have cost if I hard gone and tried to get the same stuff at a “hobby” shop and I still have another half sheet! There is also the fact that the largest sheets most hobby shops sell are 8”x12”!

The first cut of the bases showing clearly the contrast of the square base verse the roundness of the house. The base material is almost 1/4 inch thick. Not to worry it wont be very noticeable when we finish.

The first cut of the bases showing clearly the contrast of the square base verse the roundness of the house. The base material is almost 1/4 inch thick. Not to worry it wont be very noticeable when we finish.

Most projects I do I’ll think out a plan that gives me my general direction and most things are worked out in advance but since the miniatures hobby is visual there are many things that can change once you “see” the project develop in the flesh so to speak! On this one I was thinking of just have the bases square since I was having them determine specific gaming areas per the rules but when I looked at the base under the building I realized that the square corners would look way out of place on a “Dark Ages” rural battlefield! As far as the rules it would require to “fudge” a bit but would still be a clear definition of where your troops were.

You can cut bases perfectly square BUT I like to slightly curve and vary my edges on most base’s as this helps blend the base into the rest of your scenery since your eyes will tend to pick out straight lines as not being in nature. Of course the exception to this would be say in a town or fortification where it is man made.  I also like to “angle” the cut made along the base, at least a 45 degree angle to further soften the transition of terrain piece to game mat. Now some of you are saying “humph, I can’t be bothered with all that” well fine if that what you like but this hobby is all about the “visuals” and every little bit helps.

Base's re-cut with with a gentle curving pattern and the edges "softened" with the sanding block.

Base’s re-cut with with a gentle curving pattern and the edges “softened” with the sanding block.

After the base is cut I use some fine grit (220+) sand paper to smooth edges and also a bit on the top to give some “bite” to the surface to help the paint stick better. Wrapping the sand paper around a piece of foam to make a sanding block works a treat (they also make pre-made sanding pads) I then primer the base either before or after I set the piece to it. I use JB WELD (fast set version) a 2 part epoxy to affix my bases to the buildings as it make a very good bond (better than “super glue”) but any 2 part epoxy will work.

The bomb! one of my favorite epoxies!

The bomb! one of my favorite epoxies!

While we are on the subject of gluing with “super glue” I can’t stress enough about using GOOD glue!!! The cheap “super glues” you find at the super market just are not up to the task. Most people I have ever heard say they had trouble gluing figures together or have their models later drop pieces off have used CHEAP “super glues” Go to the local hobby shop or online and by the best cyanoacrylate glue you can find!!! After all it is one of the foundation items your miniature collection is built on.

2310 CyanoacrylateGlueNow many castings are not completely flat on the base so some work might have to be done to smooth it out so it sets flat on its new base. Don’t fret to much as the next step will hide any little gaps. I have been doing miniatures for quite awhile now (25-30 years) and have learned a lot from others in the hobby, I have also I think developed many ways of doing things on my own that over the years have gone out into the community and are now accepted practice. Yes I do have a bit of an “ego” about “raising the bar” for wargamers over the years and I have the trophies to prove it…lol…ok to the point…I learned a lot of build and modeling stuff from my father who was a great carpenter and all around builder of real stuff and also did some modeling and “train set” work. I was exposed to a whole world of materials and how to work with them that was absent from the “Wargaming” or “Miniature Painting” world. One of these items was wood fillers, a whole range of “putties” and fillers used to fill gaps in wood that I saw could be used in basing and modeling…yes parallel development that others around the world also see this over time, but I like to think that I was one of the first (ego creeps out!) and I’m certain the way I do it is unique to me (at least it was).

Always use "Quality" materials in your projects! This can of Durham's Rock Hard cost about $10 but contains enough for years of projects and NEVER spoils!

Always use “Quality” materials in your projects! This can of Durham’s Rock Hard cost about $10 but contains enough for years of projects and NEVER spoils!

I use “DURHAMS ROCK HARD” water putty. It’s a powder that you mix with water into a paste. Now by its self I found it works BUT is a bit delicate when put on thin and roughly handled as you might with your terrain. To toughen it up I add not only water but white wood glue in a ratio of about 65% water to 35% glue added to the Durhams powder. I mix this adding more water or glue until I get a mixture about the consistency of yogurt.

This little trowel is OLD and was found at a garage sale, used by sculptors of big statues it has a another end that is rounded, made in Germany its one of my all time favorite tools!

This little trowel is OLD and was found at a garage sale, used by sculptors of big statues it has a another end that is rounded, made in Germany its one of my all time favorite tools!

Basic baseing finished.

Basic baseing finished.

Using a small hobby trowel, butter knife, or even a wedge cut piece of card board I spread this onto the base, from the edge to the mini or in this case the building. The “filler” can then be worked smooth, rough, left high in some spots, or what ever you like.

On these buildings I also sprinkled broken sand and rocks to create rough spots as well as blend in the walkways from those on the original building casting to the “new” base.

Adding rock work and defining paths.

Adding rock work and defining paths.

I use a big medium stiff bristled brush dipped in water to move around and smooth the filler. Any of the additional materials such as rocks, pebbles, gravel, ect, can be added while the paste is still soft and wet to help it blend. Let the “Durham Rockhard” filler dry over night and then I prime the whole thing with “Krylon Automotive” black primer.

 

primed

Now your model is ready for painting, and finish details. I’m not going to detail my painting to much here as most of you are masters beyond me already. Questions will be answered of course…lol.

One thing I’ll mention is that for “terrain” I ofter use “cheap” craft paint for the big areas and save the good stuff for details. I also have a box of old paints that I try to use up on terrain when they they are replaced or deemed to old for first line use. The two bottles in the picture are the same color, the little Vallejo bottle is $3 for about 1/2 ounce (17ml), the big “Creamcoat” bottle from craft store is 8 ounces and $3.50. While I would not use the big bottle stuff on a mini as it just not near as good, it is fine for larger less important projects and will work fine generally it is so much cheaper!

Paint1

Then it’s on to flocking and such. Years ago I was able to pick up some stainless steel tubs in a few different sizes (flea market) and I use these when I’m flocking and applying terrain material it catches all the fall off and allows you to return excess flock clean to the flocking container as well as keeps your work area “flocking” clean!

Any kind of non-stick pan or tub is your best friend during the flocking process!

Any kind of non-stick pan or tub is your best friend during the flocking process!

I then let it dry over night. One step I will mention and it’s a good one you may not have thought of. To finish up I SPRAY clear gloss on the model as well as all the flocking, grass, bushes, and trees…. Why? Because it helps to “bond” the “flocking/brush” material more than the glue you used to lay it down originally. It seals the whole thing and keeps the flocking from not rubbing off from handling and game play. It also allows the gentile rinsing with cool water your pieces that gather dust over time. I use Testor’s in my air brush for mini’s but on larger projects I go with Krylon fast drying clear Gloss (in a spray can). The Gloss will darken the “flock/brush” a bit but it will lighten up a bit as it dries. Let it dry for a few hours and then you can DULL coat the entire model to taste! You now have a well protected model ready for some hard action!

I was toying with putting in a LED light and flasher to show the fire but this was deemed “overkill” since it would be seldom seen!

Here is the finished project, I was happy with it I hope you all enjoy it as well!

Bill W

My "Flemish Mercenaries" cant wait to plunder these baby's!

My “Flemish Mercenaries” cant wait to plunder these baby’s!

CLICK on photo for larger picture!

But wait there’s more!……One of the invaluable tools I use is a “hot glue gun” I use a bit of it on a nail of in the case of these larger building a short piece pf plastic pipe. This gives me a handle on the piece or miniature so I can firmly grip it and maneuver it almost 360 degrees in all directions with out touching it! I combine it with a few weighted upright “stands” to slip the pipe over, holding the piece upright while it dries.

RoofStands1RoofStands

The Gods Decend! My almost LPL8 entry….

Well there has not been a post lately because as some of you know I was painting for the Lead Adventure forums annual painting challenge. Entry’s cannot have been posted elsewhere on the internet before. Well the best laid plans of mice and men go awry and despite painting like a fiend and having my entries ready (first 15 of 50, 5 new ones each week for ten weeks!) I worked all week shooting on a TV show 16 hours a day all nights, outside, and was a wreck by the weekend I was to have a few hours to take pictures and submit them. I was such a wreck I misjudged the time difference (it’s a European based worldwide competition) and realized in the middle of prepping photos that the deadline had already passed.

So the good news is that I can just post them here and at my leisure. I can also continue with other projects and gaming….heck its not like I was winning anything great just a small icon by ones name….lol!

VIKINGgodsRnd1a

Thor (Donar) – God of thunder and battle, Freyja – Goddess of love, fertility, and battle, Lofn – Goddess of forbidden loves, Odin – The “All Father” God of war, also associated to wisdom, poetry, and magic (The Ruler of the gods), Magni – god of strength. Son of Thor.   VIKINGgodsRnd1bb