#oldorcs finis

My #oldorcs submission took me longer than anticipated; after all, it’s just one orc model. I should have been able to complete that in an hour or so. But the more I looked at it, the more I put off actually beginning to work on it. I really wanted to capture the Oldhammer painting style; a style I haven’t used since, well, since the Oldhammer days of my youth. I painted the basic green skin tone and left the model to sit for a bit while I prepped my Vamp for Vampifan, the Red Duke.

I’ve been having an odd sleep schedule lately, and I found myself thinking about him at 3 am. It was a night of soaking rain here. Usually that helps me sleep, but I had Ork on the brain. I got up and went to my painting table, and I stared. I stared at the Ork for 15 minutes or so, while the rain came down on my bulkhead. I stared, and he stared back. And then I knew what I was going to do.

I decided to make him a Death Skull; because I’ve always been partial to their blue facepaint. Once I did that, the rest of the model came pretty quickly.

When I painted my Warhammer Orc and Goblin army decades ago, I used the same orc skin recipe on almost all the models: Snot Green base, Goblin Green tone, Scorpion Green highlight (all are avialable through Coat D’Arms nowadays). I didn’t want to do that here, so instead I used a base of Citadel Caliban Green, followed by Reaper’s Turf Green and Meadow Green. This resulted in a slightly darker skin tone than I liked, so I once again added some Scorpion Green highlights. For the blue face paint, I based it in Vallejo Prussian Blue, highlighted with Reaper’s Dragon Blue, and then a final highlight of Vallejo Andrea Blue.

The rest was pretty easy: I just went back to the brightly-colored John Blanche/Mike McVey Oldhammer palette that was the norm when I first started playing. You can see plenty of examples of it in old White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, if you have them; or of course any old codices, catalogs and army books of the time. Barring that, there’s always the Internet…

This was a fun little diversion and my first Instagram painting challenge. Thanks to Old Man Paints for hosting it! There are prizes to be won, but they weren’t my motivation. I really just needed the kick in the pants to get back to hobbying.

Now, back to the bloodsucker…

A Vamp for Vampifan: Part 1

Roger from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has organized a tribute to fellow blogger and miniatures enthusiast, Vampifan (Bryan Scott), who sadly passed away earlier this year. I knew Vampifan from his blog, Vampifan’s World of the Undead, and from Painting Challenges like Zomtober and Forgotten Heroes. We tread the same internet and blog byways, but I can’t recall ever corresponding with him directly. I wish I had. By all accounts, he was a great guy, a veteran gamer generous with his advice and encouragement; a good friend, a real credit to the hobby, and a man who will be missed.

This month, to honor an absent friend, Roger has proposed painting a vampire miniature in lieu of simply raising a glass in Vampifan’s memory (although feel free to do that, too). I’ve got a vampire miniature, so count me in.

The miniature I have chosen is one I have had for about 25 years: The Red Duke, by Games Workshop. I bought him right around the time GW split their Undead army into Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings. I chose to go with (though never played) Vampire Counts; the Red Duke was to be my general.

As you can see, he was primed black some time ago, and 25 years of being knocked around in a box has worn some of that off. He also had a cape at one point, but I seem to have lost it. No matter. This Heroclix Hobgoblin shall donate his. You may recall this particular Heroclix has already donated his left arm to my Nexus Forgotten Heroes submission earlier this year. I’ve also removed his head and cut him off the glider. Waste not, want not.

You never know when you’ll need an empty goblin glider. Ask Norman Osborn how dangerous they can be…

Anyway, I don’t want him to go on a boring cavalry slotta base. I’m going for a more dynamic pose: I want him on a rearing skeletal steed! The billowing cape should help the overall effect. I chose a 60mm round base, then added a 30mm base for height and applied some Magic Sculpt to level everything out.

A bit of green stuff, drilling and test-pinning, and I think I’m ready for a re-prime. I’m going to paint the Duke and the steed separately before fitting them together. It seems I may have to use more of the dreaded green stuff to sculpt some reins, as his new, more dynamic pose doesn’t “sit the saddle” the way it was intended.

At this stage of the game, I’m happy with what I have. It looks like this could be a good-looking miniature when I’m done, if I don’t fuck up the paint job. Fingers crossed!

#oldorcs

The other day I stumbled across an Instagram painting challenge for Orctober. Old Man Paints is running his Old Orcs Challenge. The rules are on his site (which is a cool site to visit anyway), but put simply they are: paint an old orc miniature from the Oldhammer era (mid 80’s-early 90’s) and post it on Instagram by the end of the month. (There are hashtag requirements and stuff like that, but that’s about the gist of it.)

Well, if there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s Oldhammer Orcs. Sadly, all of mine are painted already, and one of the rules is a “before” picture is necessary. It seems I was out of luck.

Well, it just so happens I have had a 40K Ork army as a planned project for about 10 years. This makes no sense, as I don’t play 40K anymore; but who among you can say you don’t have similar nonsensical ambitions in your pile of shame? I have a ton of Orks, most still on the sprue, just waiting for assembly and painting. (I’m in no hurry.) The vast majority of these are from this millennium. In other words, most of them.

Then I found this guy, along with a handful of other Rogue Trader-era Boyz. I’m back in business.

I have no expectation of actually winning this challenge, considering the level of talent I see on Instagram; but I figure I can pretty easily paint one ork in my sleep by the end of the month, so why not participate? Next time you see this guy, he’ll have paint (and arms) on him.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

In a hole in the ground there lived a piper…

It’s not exactly a hobbit-hole, but it’s comfy enough. That’s where I’ve been spending my time lately. Every time I come out I can’t seem to get back down there fast enough.

Obviously I haven’t been here at the Tavern in a while. I’m just not motivated. Not for hobby stuff; I’ve been doing plenty of that. In fact it’s about the only thing that’s keeping me sane. I’m just not motivated to write about anything lately. I think the state of the world and of my country in particular is finally getting to me.

My country, in case anyone doesn’t know, is Bizarro World. Everything is fucking upside-down and backwards, and has been for four years and counting. But don’t worry. I’m pretty sure it’ll be over in a month if not sooner, when my country completely fucking explodes. I’ve never been happier about not having any children.

Dead Dick’s Tavern is generally a politics-free zone. No one comes here for my opinions on why science is a good thing; why putting children in cages is a bad thing; why deploying secret police on peaceful protesters is a bad thing; why endorsing overtly racist supremacist groups are a bad thing, why health care for everyone is a good thing; why shooting unarmed people in their own homes is a bad thing; and why arguing about wearing a mask when over 200,000 people and counting in my country alone are dead from a virulent, airborne plague is the supreme height of fucking stupidity.

That debate…what a fucking fiasco. Jesus.

So, I will stay in my basement, I guess. It has my miniatures, my video games, my gaming table. (I’ve had a solo game set up and ready to go for a month, but thus far haven’t felt the urge.) Unlike an actual hobbit-hole, it doesn’t have a bedroom, a kitchen or a bathroom. So I will have to ascend from time to time.

As I said, I am still painting miniatures. I post them on my Instagram page, because not every one is worthy of a blog post. Check it out if you like; there’s a link in the sidebar.

I’ll probably play that game at some point. Then I will post an After Action Report. I’m also planning on running a game of Slasher Flick before Halloween. Perhaps I’ll write about that, too.

In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, everyone.

Grimjack

First off: I hate this WordPress theme, and I’m looking to change it as soon as possible. I just need to find a theme that doesn’t screw up my photos. This was what I could find on short notice. Change to come soon.

When I was a lad, I collected mostly Marvel comics, with the exception of a couple of black and white titles my friend introduced me to in high school. The only one of note was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike most comics, TMNT didn’t come out monthly; it came out whenever the creators made a new issue. As a result, we were always hoping for more turtles, and were often disappointed. So, when my Friendly Comic Shop Owner slid a copy of Grimjack #26 in my reserve box, I wondered why… until I discovered the back-up feature, Munden’s Bar, had a story featuring the turtles…and it was in COLOR.

I bought it, of course. The turtles story was fine. The main story was much better. Thus I was introduced to one of my favorite comic books and comic characters of all time: Grimjack.

From Wikipedia: Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden’s Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect. All this is true. but it’s pretty bare-bones as far as the character’s full biography goes. He’s a war veteran, sure…but he’s a veteran of the Demon Wars, which has given him some sensitivity to magic; which is also a thing, depending on where you are in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure. Although this hardly needs be said, he’s also a fucking badass.

There were three main incarnations of the character throughout the comic’s 81-issue run, the entirety of which was written by John Ostrander. A small British miniatures company, Wayne’s World of Wonder (available through Matchlock Miniatures), makes a version of all three. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend, specifically the lovely and talented Carrion Crow, I now own these miniatures. A real bon homme, that Crow…when I opened the unexpected parcel last holiday season, I almost squealed with girlish glee. (OK, I did squeal.) As some of you may know, I have been in a bit of a painting slump lately…so these figures were just what I needed to get my groove back.

First up, the “original” Grimjack; as immortalized by the great Tim Truman’s artwork. This is the version we see at the beginning of the series: Gaunt as a man slightly past it, pushing fifty and hardened by a life of violence and loss. Hands-down my favorite version of the character, this is also the version they brought back when they finally began publishing Grimjack comics again, some fifteen-plus years after the comic ceased production upon the demise of First Comics. (I converted my own versions of two other First Comics characters, Nexus and Badger, for Forgotten Heroes back in June. Forgotten Heroes: a Carrion Crow joint.)

After a while, Grimjack comes to inhabit a much younger, cloned body of himself, and goes by the name “Chaney”. It doesn’t really fool anyone for long, kinda like when Wolverine started calling himself Patch but still popped his claws every issue. Tom Mandrake took over the bulk of the pencils for this incarnation, and it is the version of Grimjack I like the least. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s more that what came before and what comes after is so much better…

Then, in Grimjack #55, the timeline jumps a couple of hundred years. Grimjack is reborn (in fact, he’s doomed to be reborn forever) in the body of James Twilley. Twilley didn’t know he was Grimjack until he was in high school and killed someone; then it all came rushing back. Some of the best Grimjack stories were written during this run, which lasted until the series’s end; and Flint Henry’s artwork is so, so good….

Of course, while painting these miniatures I had to dig out my comics for visual reference. This prompted a re-read of the series, currently ongoing. I’m on issue 31, and aside from some unfortunate, racially-insensitive language (you could get away with that stuff back then, although it adds nothing to the story) and the horrid (yet blissfully temporary) art of Tom Sutton, it holds up pretty well. I remember why it’s so great and I’m looking forward to what I know is coming.

This post also marks the return of my long-neglected Insanity Pile tracker. Sadly, This year I haven’t painted as many miniatures as usual, but neither have I been purchasing many. Once again, I do not count miniatures I repaint (like Heroclix), or Gaslands cars that I convert.

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 30

Miniatures Painted: 46

Total +16

The Summer of Scenery: The Sludge Pool

First: You may have noticed a new look to Dead Dick’s Tavern. I’m experimenting. I’m open to suggestions…

More important: I finally finished up my submission for Dave Stone’s Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. Behold: The Sludge Pool!

While waiting for my Vallejo Still Water Texture to arrive in the mail, I did a bit more highlighting and texturing to the base piece. I weathered the barrels and the machinery with MIG rust pigments and a bit of Citadel Typhus Corrosion and Ryza Rust. I added some Vallejo Diesel Stains to the base of the machine and gave the whole thing a blast of Dullcote to lock the rust dust in place. I highlighted the green water coming out of the pipes with some Vallejo Yellow Green.

Then it was time to add the water. I could delay no longer. I was pretty nervous about using the water effects, as the only stuff I had ever previously used was “Magic Water”, a 2-part floral product that requires precise mixing to cure properly. The last time I used it was several years ago, and the swamp scenery I made is still tacky. But my friend Dick Garrison swears by Vallejo Water Texture, and he has achieved some amazing results with it, so who am I to argue with success?

I poured some into a plastic cup and added a few drops of green craft paint, the same kind I used to paint the basin. It mixed together perfectly, and I poured it out and moved the base this way and that until it covered the bottom. It flows like thick water, kind of like motor oil, so it was quite easy to work with. My first layer was done.

I noticed a problem about 12 hours later. Vallejo Water Texture is a “self-leveling” fluid. My workbench is level. The bottom of the piece is level. I found out the hard way that the inside of the basin, where I was pouring the texture, was obviously not level, because the water effects began to pool on certain sides of the basin. Dumb, rookie mistake. Since the mixture was still fluid enough to flow, albeit slowly, I quickly mixed and added more water texture and paint to shore things up. Then I played around trying to get the stuff to flow where it was needed. I wasn’t entirely successful, as you can see.

I added a second layer of clear (no paint added) texture out of the bottle, hoping that would obscure the uneven bottom layer. It didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong: I love this product, and I think it looks amazing. But it took more like 48 hours for it to cure before I added the next level, and then another 48 hours before I thought it was ok to touch.

Overall, I can live with how it looks. I think the Vallejo product is pretty impressive and easy stuff to use. After 2 layers (3 mm thickness or so), I have about half a 200 ml bottle left. The area I covered wasn’t small, though. Note the Space Marine for scale. The bottle cost me 17 dollars (US$).

So…I’m thinking of adding one final layer of clear water, but I’m not sure if it will really do anything aside from make the basin look deeper. Thoughts?

The Slump is Here…

I’ve hit a bit of a painting slump. Actually, it’s a bit more than that. It’s a general hobby slump. I haven’t painted a miniature since I finished up Kratos for Forgotten Heroes. In fact, I’ve barely done anything at all since July 1st.

Partly this was due to real life work anxiety getting in the way of any pleasant diversions I might seek. Now that that is mostly over, though, my painting mojo still has yet to return. A quick turn around some of the blogs I follow shows I am not alone in this; for whatever reason, we all hit a slump every now and again, or as The Dude would say, “strikes and gutters. man…strikes and gutters.”

So what HAVE I been doing? Playing video games, mostly. I recently did a replay of The Last of Us and the DLC, Left Behind; because I don’t know how long I can resist buying the long-awaited sequel, released a couple of months ago. The Last of Us is a true masterpiece; the only video game that I have ever played, finished, and immediately replayed. I did the same thing again recently. It’s an amazing storytelling experience, and it serves very well to get my mind off of shit I don’t enjoy thinking about. My mind naturally goes to these places when I paint; hence the whole no painting thing lately.

I’ve also been making some Starship Corridor tiles, using Heroic Maps Starship Corridors and DM Scotty’s 2.5D method. There’s a pretty great video on it here by The Mighty Gluestick (ironically not by DM Scotty, but whatever). It’s pretty quick work, but I’ve since run out of double-wall cardboard and need to get some. I really don’t want to buy it from a craft store, but I don’t have any heavy-duty boxes lying around.

I still plan on producing something for the Summer of Scenery over at Wargames Terrain Workshop, but it won’t be as much as I would have liked. In other words, no Western town or graveyard; but as you can see, I managed to give the sludge pool a quick basecoat (space marine included for scale)…

…followed by a black wash and some texturing with Stirland Mud. I’ll hit it with some light drybrushing before beginning the weathering process. Hopefully my Vallejo Water Texture will arrive by month’s end and I can complete this thing soon.

In the meantime, I need to find a project that will drag me back to the painting table.

The Summer of Scenery

That’s the name of the challenge hosted by Dave over at Wargames Terrain Workshop. I’ve decided I can certainly find some things to make or paint over the next two months. The challenge for me is to make scenery that I will use, but also to clear out some stuff that’s been sitting idle for a long time.

Like this thing. I bought it about 12 years or so, by my best guess. It’s all one piece, constructed out of some kind of foam. It feels a lot like solidified ‘Great Stuff”, that gap-sealing foam that comes in a spray can.

It’s not a small piece. I should have included a miniature for scale, but I forgot. The barrels are definitely 28mm scale oil barrels, if that helps.

The pool area is deep enough for water effects. I’m not great at it (mine never seem to dry completely), but I’m strongly considering using them, as I think it will really make this piece stand out once it’s done.

Now, one terrain piece should be easy. But why stop at one? I’ve had another project sitting in a labelled, white box for about a decade. With a recent Reaper order, the time may have come to complete it…

I’ll give you three guesses…

Apologies.

While fifteen days between posts is hardly a rarity here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, my almost complete absence from the blogosphere during that time certainly is. So, to all my friends, new and old, whose blogs I regularly offend with my presence and inundate with my witticisms, I humbly beg your pardon.

The fact is that since my last post, I have been consumed with real life apprehension which culminated in the object of my terror: an accreditation survey that was conducted over the past two days via Microsoft Teams, a program that, until 10 days ago, I had never used.

These surveys are never fun. Ever. They are, by definition, audits. And when was the last time anyone had an audit where the auditor didn’t find something you missed?

It has been a stressful two weeks, friends. This past weekend was the worst. I think I slept a total of three hours from Friday-Monday morning. Anyway, it’s over now. I think I did ok. I’ll know for sure in three weeks or so.

So, I need to get back into the swing of things. I’m currently taking a class at the RPG Writer’s Workshop that I am already a week behind in (see above), so I need to make up some time there. But I recall that Dave Stone over at Wargames Terrain Workshop is hosting a terrain challenge this month and next, and although I’m bad at terrain-making, I’m all in on this one. I have way too many scenic pieces awaiting my attention, and this is the kick in the ass I needed. Plus, Dave was kind enough to participate in Monster May(hem), and to provide support and encouragement to all and sundry. Can I do any less?

(Well, I HAVE been doing less, but that’s over now. Promise.)

I have to go figure out what house I’m gonna paint, or whatever else I decide to do. I’ll be back soon!

“I AM THE GOD OF WAR! I WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER!”

God of War (2005)

The first God of War game was released in 2005 on the Playstation 2. I played it, and I’ve played every single God of War game ever since, including the latest, released in 2018, also entitled “God of War.

Here’s a summary of the whole series: you play as Kratos, a Spartan who is the son of Zeus. Ares kills Kratos’s family, so Kratos kills Ares (God of War, 2005). Along the way, and pretty much thereafter, Kratos kills EVERY FUCKING THING he sees. Every monster, mythical creature, hero and god in the Greek pantheon probably gets gutted by Kratos at some point over the course of the next five sequels and prequel (God of War II, III, Ghost of Sparta, Chains of Olympus, and Ascension). Kratos is an angry guy, and killing shit is what he do.

After slaughtering his way through Olympus, Kratos decides to grow a beard, hang up his Blades of Chaos (more on those below) and retire to a nice, quiet life as a mortal somewhere in Scandinavia (it’s not really clear where). Time passes. He marries a woman and has a son, Atreus. This all happens between the previous God of War game, and the latest one.

Of course, leaving Kratos alone would be the smartest thing anyone could possibly do. Naturally, that doesn’t happen. The Norse gods discover who he is and decide to fuck with him. And that’s the premise for the latest God of War game. Kratos and his son murder their way through the Norse realms on a quest to scatter his wife’s ashes in Jotunheim. Of course, there’s a lot of father-son drama along the way. Kratos has kept who he was, or is, from his son all his life; and as you might imagine, Kratos is a somewhat distant and severe parent. He’s way better at killing things than connecting meaningfully with his son.

Ever since the original God of War, I have wanted a Kratos miniature, and I guess the reason I don’t have one is that sculptors are wary of sailing too close to the wind to attempt a “not-Kratos” sculpt, as it’s an easily recognizable IP owned by Sony. While Kratos is hardly a “forgotten” hero in the literal sense, he definitely qualifies for Forgotten Heroes; to my knowledge, no “official” miniature exists. Thus I decided to make my own, but sculpting the Blades of Chaos is far beyond my pitiful skills.

via GIPHY

The Blades of Chaos are a pair of chained short swords made by Ares. Kratos whirls them around and things die. See above.

Sadly (yet lucky for me) in this latest incarnation, Kratos has traded in his Blades of Chaos for the Leviathan Axe. I say lucky, but this bummed me out a lot as a player, as for sheer violent delight you just can’t beat the Blades of Chaos. The Leviathan Axe is pretty “meh” by comparison. It’s kind of like playing a Wolverine game and not being able to use Wolverine’s claws; you get a baseball bat instead. Still, the absence of the Blades of Chaos made conversion a lot easier. I quickly found this guy in my pile of unpainted, unopened lead:

Goldar the Barbarian

That’s Reaper’s Goldar the Barbarian, sculpted by Matt Gubser. He’ll do.

I added a green stuff beard, which is pretty much all I needed to do prior to painting. In the latest game, Kratos runs around with the severed head of Mimir (Kratos severed it for him), which constantly gives you counsel and recites Norse legends and lore for your benefit in an inexplicably Scottish brogue. I used an old GW zombie head for Mimir (or, as Kratos calls him, “Head”), and sculpted his horns from more green stuff.

Here’s the result.

I thought I was pretty hot shit for coming up with this conversion and couldn’t understand why no one else had thought of it before. Of course, someone HAD. One quick trip to Cool Mini or Not and I saw that I was hardly as clever or original as I thought.

Anyway, here is the finished result of my efforts. You should be aware that Kratos’s tattoo is done as a mirror image; that is, in reality it’s actually on the left side of his body. However, since the miniature’s left side is pretty well covered by his shoulder armor and the straps that hold it up, I opted to paint it on his right side so it could be seen. No one cares, I know. (Except for the asshole who, twirling his mustache, waits for the perfect moment to spring out and tell me I got it wrong.)

I guess I’m ok with it. I mean. I like the miniature, but to me, Kratos just isn’t Kratos without the Blades of Chaos. (Spoiler alert: you eventually get the Blades of Chaos back in the latest God of War, and the developers must have known that you’d be missing them by that point. Because the next few minutes of the game, wherein you reacquaint yourself with how fucking awesome they are, is one of the most viscerally-satisfying moments of gaming I have personally experienced.)

This wraps up my Forgotten Heroes submissions for the month. Not sure what I’m going to do next, but I have no shortage of projects, and since our Covid numbers are going in the wrong fucking direction here in the US (although not in my state, thankfully), it looks like I’ll be home for the foreseeable future. I should be able to find something…