Griffon and Land Shark

My latest two “monster month” projects have arrived! Presenting: the Griffon and the Bulette (Land Shark).

(Astute observers may notice that the model in the middle of these two monsters has changed since the last post. That’s because I couldn’t seem to find that human fighter who found himself between an Umber Hulk and a Purple Worm, and then between a hungry Troll and a Basilisk. Perhaps his luck finally ran out…)

The Bulette, also known as a land shark, is a terrifying predator that lives only to eat (much like a regular shark). It burrows beneath the ground and bursts to the surface whenever it detects the vibrations of movement. A bulette has a territory of about 30 square miles, and will attack anything it comes across, completely consuming its prey (clothing, armor, weapons, etc.). When it has eaten everything in its territory, it will move on to another area.

Bulettes are not usually smart; however there is a famous case of one land shark ringing the doorbells of unsuspecting victims, fooling them into opening the door by pretending to have a delivery of something (flowers, candy, etc.). Once the victim opened the door, the land shark would strike!

This bulette is a Reaper Bones “land shark” (appropriate, no?).

A griffon, as everyone knows, is a majestic beast with the body of a lion and the head, wings and front legs of a great eagle. Griffons are fierce predators and enjoy eating horses most of all. Griffons are semi-intelligent and are much prized as mounts for heroic characters, as they are capable of being trained by those with enough daring and skill.

This griffon is yet another of Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures.  I used the hot water/cold water bath method to reshape its wings somewhat, but that’s about it. In all my years of painting, I have never painted a griffon before. I really like this miniature (score another for Nolzur’s); therefore I have named him Merv.

You see what I did there?

 

 

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 6

Miniatures Purchased: 0

Total: +6

Basilisk and Troll

Monster Month continues with a couple more beasties: the dreaded basilisk and the AD&D version of  a classic monster: the troll!

The troll is from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, and I am hard-pressed to recall seeing a finer version of the classic AD&D troll. I absolutely love this sculpt. If I have one criticism, it’s that he’s a bit too big; most trolls are 9 feet tall or so; this guy looks like he’s twice the size of the fighter next to him. In addition, his built-on base is somewhat problematic if you plan on mounting him on the included 50mm circular base, as it overlaps the circle somewhat due to his wide stance. I chose to use a bigger (60mm) base, but that meant I had a lot of space to fill. I used some cut-up pieces of craft foam to simulate dungeon flagstones and here is the finished result.

Everyone knows what a troll is, but the AD&D version of a troll is particularly nasty, as they regenerate all damage—including severed limbs—given enough time. The only way to put a troll down for good is with fire or acid. Other than that, run. The AD&D troll has a somewhat unique look to them as well; the long arms ending in ragged claws, the rubbery body, socketed eyes and wiry hair. They’re pretty horrific. And they’re always hungry. Thankfully, they’re not that bright, so it’s somewhat easy to outthink them.

A basilisk is an eight-legged reptile that petrifies victims with its gaze, much like Medusa. A significant difference between the two, however, is that Medusa decorates her lair with the statues she creates, while the basilisk just eats them. Yes, a basilisk is fully capable of eating the stone bodies of its victims. Basilisks are about as smart as your average reptile. In other words, not very.

This basilisk is a Reaper Bones version. This was a miniature that I was unhappy with throughout the entire painting process. I felt like I chose the wrong colors and I everything I did just seemed to make the miniature look worse. Finally, I applied a wash of GW’s Fuegan Orange to his spine and the tips of his scales, and everything looked a million times better. Now I’m pretty happy with how he came out.

 

Insanity Pile Progress

Painted Miniatures Thus Far: 4

Purchased Miniatures: 0

Progress +4

 

Umber Hulk and Purple Worm

Monster Month kicks off with two classic AD&D monsters straight from the Monster Manual: the Umber Hulk and the Purple Worm—two very good reasons not to adventure underground.

The Umber Hulk is from the Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures line, which is a new-ish Wizkids line of computer sculpted miniatures that are both inexpensive and impressive. Wizkids has the rights to produce all the “official” AD&D monsters like the Umber Hulk, which is why you’ll see them called by their true names and not by a knockoff (i.e. Reaper’s  rust monster, the “oxidation beast”). I have to imagine that Wizkids is taking their cue from the massive success of Reaper Bones, because the Umber Hulk cost a mere $3.99. He’s a pretty decent size, too, as you can see from the (very nervous-looking) 28mm Reaper fighter standing between him and the worm. The Purple Worm is a Reaper Bones version of their “Great Wyrm” sculpt. I believe it also retailed at $3.99. Again, great price, decent size, great sculpt.

These Nolzur’s miniatures are, like Bones, supposed to be ready to paint without priming; in the case of Nolzur’s, they are supposedly primed already. Regardless, I choose to prime both Nolzur’s and Bones miniatures with Vallejo surface primer, because the paint rubs off if you don’t (no matter what they say). The Umber Hulk miniature required a little additional preparation prior to painting. Like Bones, many of the Nolzur’s miniatures set in weird positions after the casting process and need to be repositioned, which is actually pretty easy to do. Initially, this Umber Hulk’s mandible hung lower than its base, which would have made standing him up impossible. A quick dip of the miniature in some hot (but not boiling) water allowed me to bend it into a more upright posture, then a quick bath in some cold water made sure it re-set that way and wouldn’t go back. This method also works with Bones and even Heroclix, depending on the thickness of the plastic you’re trying to reshape.

Once he could stand up without stepping on his own jaw, I got to work:

According to the Monster Manual (3.5 edition in case anyone cares), an Umber Hulk resembles a cross between an ape and a beetle. It dwells deep within the earth, and can rip through solid stone like it was paper. AD&D player characters fear the Umber Hulk for several reasons. It’s covered in armored plates, it’s strong and can dish out a lot of damage, and it can hypnotize you with its eyes. But perhaps the scariest thing about an Umber Hulk is that it’s smart; often, it’s smarter than the PCs. The average human ability score (including Intelligence) is a 9. An Umber Hulk has an average Intelligence of 13!

The Purple Worm is another well-known AD&D monster. It’s a massive scavenger worm, covered in purple chitinous armor. A mature Purple Worm has a 6′ diameter mouth and is about 80′ long. (This one must be a baby.) It can easily swallow prey whole, including humanoids. To top it off, it has a poisonous stinger in its tail.

Being a Reaper Bones miniature, it’s not an “official” Purple Worm. I just painted it up that way.

Unlike Umber Hulks, Purple Worms aren’t smart. They’re just huge and mean and very tough to kill.

Insanity Pile Progress

Off to a good start, even though it’s only the first week. I’ve painted more than I’ve purchased. Good on me.

Painted Miniatures: 2

Purchased Miniatures: 0

Progress +2

Monster Month (and Getting My Shit Together)

First up, the good news: May is Monster Month! Now that my Gaslands project is (somewhat) complete, I’ve decided to get back to my first love: fantasy miniatures. And to that end, I have decided it’s high time I got around to painting some good old-fashioned monsters!

With the arrival of Reaper Bones and other inexpensive miniatures like Nolzur’s Marvelous Minis, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on some large beasties for not a lot of cash. And for the most part, the sculpting is top-notch on these miniatures, whether sculpted by hand (Bones) or 3d designed (Nolzur’s). Some of the monsters I’ll be painting this month have been in my insanity pile for years, whereas some are relatively recent purchases. Some are metal, some are plastic or resin. Old school, new school; the point is, they’re all monsters, and they’re all getting painted this month!

Now, the less-fun news. A couple of months back, I reminisced about the early Grenadier miniatures that were my first steps into what would eventually become my wargaming hobby. If you missed that post, you can read it here (if so inclined). One thing  I wrote in that post has been on my mind ever since.

Here’s what I said: “…even if I were to (paint) one miniature every day for the rest of my life, I would likely never finish what I already own, never mind any future tempting purchases. A somewhat sobering and morbid thought, but true nonetheless.”

Guess what? It is true. And it is sure as hell sobering.

(Actually, what I wrote was about stripping and repainting old miniatures, not painting new ones, but that changes nothing. Between what I have that I would like to strip and repaint, and what I have that has never yet seen paint, the reality remains the same. It ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime.)

Like many gamers nowadays, I am of a certain age. I am not the oldest grognard wearing a “Keep Calm and Cthulhu Fhtagn” T shirt, but neither am I a youngster any more. I’m in my mid 40’s, and I’ve been gaming since I was 12, collecting and painting miniatures since I was 13 or so. While mid-40’s is hardly old, especially considering the well-known and often-discussed “greying of the hobby”;  and although I’m reasonably healthy at the moment (knock wood), I have no illusions about my life.  In addition to other vices (like indolence), I really like scotch and gin, and I’ve liked them for many a long year now. The sad truth is that I have a lot of lead, both painted and unpainted; and a lot of half-started and wish-list projects I’m simply not going to ever complete.

As I’ve stated elsewhere in this blog, the last big gaming convention I attended was Gen Con in 2012. In addition to a comprehensive review of the convention, that post includes a list of all the stuff I bought when I was there. I knew buying most of that crap was a mistake as soon as I got back home. Most of it is still sitting right here in the original packages. I haven’t painted or used most of it, and it doesn’t look like I ever will.

Herein lies a problem faced by many wargamers: Let’s say you drop dead. What happens to your stuff? Many wargamers would naturally pass their armies on to the next generation, assuming their children had any interest in such things. I don’t have kids, and likely (and hopefully) never will. So what then?

It goes without saying that it becomes a problem for those we leave behind. Someone (or, if you’re lucky, several someones) who probably doesn’t need any more to deal with while grieving your death, as it may make them reach the “anger” stage of grief much faster. In my case, it’s not just my painted miniatures and the insanity pile that would be left behind. (That link leads to a description of my insanity pile that is outdated by several years. Like Scrooge, I have labored on it since.) It’s also the thousands of books and comics that I have amassed in almost four decades of collecting. All this stuff is going to land squarely in the lap of people who may love me, but may not necessarily love my hobbies and want to deal with 30 plus years of accumulated academia, esoterica, and plain-old geekery after my death.

It’s time to get real, and prioritize what I can realistically keep and what I should just bid a fond farewell to. And like many gamers, I need to STOP BUYING NEW STUFF. Not just new stuff, but old “new-to-me” stuff too, no matter how great a deal it is. I have to start saying no.

To this end, I’ve come up with an action plan.

Part 1: As a way to motivate myself to shrink the lead pile, I’m stealing an idea I saw on fellow TMPer Oiler72’s blog: the lead mountain progress total. With every post, Oiler keeps track of the number of miniatures he’s painted vs. the number of new miniatures he’s purchased, for a plus or minus overall progress total. I’m doing that, starting with my next post. I’m not about to count what I already have (that would make me mental). But whatever the starting point number may be, it should be easy to track whether I’m up or down relative to it if I keep logging painted vs. purchased.

(Note: this is for miniatures only. I do not consider terrain projects or things like Gaslands conversions, which are technically not miniatures, to be any progress towards adding to or shrinking the lead mountain.)

Part 2: I need to narrow my interests. I need to decide what games I’m going to focus on and what projects I can realistically complete. I need to look at the stuff I already have, and decide, once and for all, whether to keep it or get rid of something I know I’m never going to paint and/or play with. Is it worth the investment in time and/or money? If not: adios, muchacho. When deciding what to keep, I should consider whether it can be used in multiple games or whether it will only be used in one system; for example, unpainted police miniatures can be used for zombie, pulp, supers or any other modern game, whereas pirates can pretty much only be used as pirates.

Example: Wow, those Firestorm Armada ships look really fucking cool! Should I keep them? Let’s see:

  1. I’m never going to find anyone else near me who plays Firestorm Armada,
  2. Spartan Games went out of business, which means the game is no longer supported,
  3. While I could conceivably use the ships for other games, I don’t have any other space games except for War Rocket and X-Wing, neither of which match the theme or scale,
  4. I don’t want to buy any more space games,
  5. I have way too much other stuff to paint.

So should I keep them? Sounds like a big fat NO.

Firestorm Armada was easy. I have many other games/miniatures to consider, and many miles to go before I sleep.

 

Gaslands 6: Grond: Going Big with the WAR RIG!

Well, the end of April brings me to the end of my Gaslands posts, at least for now. I’ve saved the best for last: ladies and gentlemen of the wasteland, I present Grond, the war rig! (The Tolkien-philes among you may recognize the name Grond: it’s the name of the huge battering ram the forces of Sauron used to sunder the gates at the siege of Minas Tirith. I feel it is an appropriate name for my rolling death machine.)

From the moment I first read the Gaslands rulebook, I knew I needed to make a war rig: a big, diesel-burning armored machine of death to crush my enemies, see them driven before me and hear the lamentation of the women. Originally, I wanted my armored bus Marstorius to be a war rig, but there’s one small problem with that: although Marstorius is certainly big enough for a war rig, it is not articulated; meaning it has no separate cab and trailer. It’s all one piece. Whether or not a war rig is articulated is a pretty big deal in the game, as it affects such things as hazard tokens and vehicle orientation.

 

I started with this Hot Wheels truck. It was the most money I spent on a Gaslands car thus far: almost $7.00 brand new. In my haste to get started, I neglected to take a picture of it before I started work. So here’s a YouTube video review of it by a somewhat enthusiastic Hot Wheels aficionado. You may notice it comes with a another car (Maybe it could be a performance car, see below), so I guess for seven bucks it wasn’t a bad deal.

I wanted to use a flatbed-style truck because I wanted to have a turret-mounted flamethrower, and I didn’t like the look of it on top of a full-sized trailer. It just looked too high up.  The flatbed seems pretty unprotected, however, so I started armoring up the sides. Before I got started, I built my flamethrower turret and made sure it fit inside the bed.

The side rails are coffee stirrers. The flamethrower turret was made from a couple of rubber faucet gaskets, a fender washer, a lock washer and an axle nut, much the same as the turret on my monster truck, Rock-n-rolla. The flamethrower itself came from a Imperial Guard Sentinel sprue (I think). I decided to use a GW oil can as a fuel source and clipped some old speaker wire to use as hoses. I cut slots in the rubber gasket to accommodate the wires; that way it would look like the barrel was supplying oil to the turret through the hoses.

I applied some wire mesh, craft foam and plasticard as armor plating, mounted a GW heavy bolter to the cab roof, and a plow blade from a Tonka bulldozer I got at a flea market. A war rig has the most build slots of any vehicle in Gaslands, a whopping 5. The flamethrower took up 2, the machine gun and the plow took up one each. That left me with one more build slot. I could just use the extra armor, but a war rig doesn’t really need any more armor. As you can see, I have a lot of room left in the bed of the truck, so I started thinking about a mine dropper.

Instead of traditional mines, I thought it would be cool if Grond dropped explosive barrels off of his tailgate whenever any pursuers got too close for comfort. I had some of these old barrels around and they fit the bed of the truck perfectly, so I painted them in the ubiquitous “explosive barrel” color scheme familiar to anyone who plays first-person shooter video games.

One may question the wisdom of having a 360° flamethrower operating in close proximity to volatile, explosives-filled barrels; but I can assure you not one crewmember aboard Grond ever thought twice about it. Not for a second. What could go wrong?

Here’s a close-up of the bed of the truck. I’m quite happy with the way the flamethrower turret and the barrels came out.

Here’s the back. The bars were made with coffee stirrers (a different kind), the sign from a piece of craft foam. If you take an explosive barrel to the face, you can’t say you weren’t warned.

And a close-up of the front. I considered writing some pithy statement on the blade, like “Here I Come!”, but decided against it, as it would have to be written backwards in order to be read in a rear-view mirror. If you were actually facing Grond, you wouldn’t need to be told as you would see it coming, thus rendering any warning somewhat superfluous. So I drew this dead smiley face instead.

The finished product: Grond, the war rig!!

Painting for all my Gaslands vehicles is pretty much the same. I used a mix of Cote D’Arms, Games Workshop, Reaper and Vallejo paints. Grond’s body is based with The Fang (GW), with a highlight of Shadow Grey (CD), then given a wash of Nuln Oil (GW). The armor plating was painted with either Gunmetal Grey (V), Gun Metal (CD) or Tin Bitz (GW) before being washed with Armor Wash (CD). The machine gun and the plow were painted Adamantite Black (R) and dry-brushed with Necron Compound (GW) and Tin Bitz (GW) before given a wash of  Nuln Oil (GW). I used some Typhus Corrosion (GW) and Stirland Mud (GW) on the tires, wheel wells and the plow. Lastly, I used some MIG rust pigment on the armor, wheels and body.

Well, that about does it for Gaslands for now. I want to focus on some other projects and perhaps get some actual games in before I start on any new cars and/or terrain. One thing I didn’t build were any performance cars, which are a separate type of vehicle that is really good at evading collisions. They can reach the highest gear, which allows them to activate more often than most other vehicle types. They tend to be more elegant and less rusty and Mad Max-y then the other cars; more finesse than brawn. Perhaps in the future I’ll convert some performance cars, but other than that, I think I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got so far: seven cars, two buggies, a monster truck, an armored bus and a war rig.

Next post: May is Monster Month!

Gaslands 5: Sunday!!! Sunday!!! SUNDAAAAAAY!!!!!!!

I’m unsure about the rest of the world, but those of us who live in the USA periodically have these things come to town called “Monster Truck Rallies.” Basically, they fill an arena with loose mud and junk cars and unleash monster trucks to crush, spindle and mutilate everything they possibly can in the span of a few hours or so.

It’s not my thing. At all. Then again, not everyone likes bagpipes, so YMMV. Different strokes, as they say. Live and let live. Judge not lest ye be judged, and all that.

Often, these monster truck rallies are accompanied by loud music and scantily-clad women and are usually hosted by local radio personalities or former WWE or NASCAR “superstars”. As the title of this post implies, these events tend to take place on a certain day of the week. Watch this video, which is a parody (but isn’t far off the mark), and you’ll get the idea.

Sponsors include Bass Pro Shops, Wal-Mart and Bud Light. Priceless. (I know I said I wouldn’t judge. I lied.)

You can find actual monster truck commercials elsewhere on YouTube, lest you think I’m being unduly critical. (Here’s one.) In short, it’s shitkicker heaven; a pageant of redneckery that I believe is somewhat unique to America. It is less popular in the region where I live than in other parts of the country, and it’s not something that has ever interested me in the slightest.

Until now.

Ladies and gentlemen of the wasteland: I present my Gaslands Monster Truck: Rock-n-rolla!!!!

You may recall from my last post that Rock-n-rolla began as a Ford F-150 Hot Wheels car. I de-riveted it and applied some wire mesh to the windows before re-assembling the chassis.  My initial purchase of cars was a grab-bag at a thrift store, which included a junky military SUV of a larger scale. I promptly cannibalized it for its roof-mounted gun, but as I looked at my disassembled pickup, I suddenly realized that the SUV didn’t really need it’s wheels anymore, either. A quick fit-check and some minor alterations to the pickup chassis, and….Rock-n-rolla was born!

Time for MONSTER TRUCK MADNESS!!!!!

For some reason, a monster truck only has 2 build slots in Gaslands, which is the same as a car or buggy. (If I had left it a pickup, it would have 3 build slots.) I guess this is done for game balance, because a monster truck simply runs over anything it collides with (see above video). The point is I didn’t have much to work with as far as weaponry was concerned, so I gave it what I could.

I built the minigun turret out of a gasket, fender washer and axle nut glued to some corrugated plasticard. It fit snugly in the bed of the truck. For the actual gun, I could have used the gun I pulled off the SUV, but instead I raided an unopened box of Wargames Factory Shock Trooper Heavy Weapons Teams  for the double minigun. This is the first time I went outside the bitz box for something, but I think it was worth it.

Here is the finished result:

I put a ram on the front end, but I used an extra shield I had from a unit of Black Tree Ironclad Dwarfs. I like the fist emblem; it seems to fit a monster truck ram nicely. I added some armor purely for aesthetics, as Rock-n-rolla has no more build slots to spend on armor. Thus, no game effect; it just looks cool.

Here’s a shot of Rock-n-rolla next to my first car build, Coughin’ Joe. As you can see, he’s much taller, as a monster truck should be, thanks to the wheels I purloined from the larger-scale SUV.

 

For those interested in the painting/weathering process, it’s pretty standard by now if you’ve read any of my other Gaslands posts. I used a mix of Cote D’Arms, Games Workshop, Reaper and Vallejo paints. Rock-n-Rolla’s body is based with Twilight Blue (R), with a highlight of Lupin Grey (CD), then given a wash of Nuln Oil (GW). The armor plating was painted with either Gunmetal Grey (V), Gun Metal (CD) or Tin Bitz (GW) before being washed with Armor Wash (CD). The gun turret was painted Adamantite Black (R) and dry-brushed with Necron Compound (GW) before given a wash of  Nuln Oil (GW). I used some Typhus Corrosion (GW) near the armor plating to further the grimy look, and I used copious amounts of Stirland Mud (GW) on the tires and undercarriage. Lastly, I used some MIG rust pigment on the armor, hubcaps and body.

I never thought I would ever say this in my life, but I think this monster truck is pretty cool!

I’m hoping to have my final (for now) Gaslands post up by the end of the month, as I have some big plans for May. I’ve saved the best for last, or at least the biggest for last….

Bigger than Rock-n-rolla? Yep.

Bigger than Marstorius?

Oh, yes…

 

Gaslands 4: Cars Galore!

After building one car, a couple of buggies and my armored bus, I realized I needed more cars, as one car does not a wasteland racing team make. Here’s what I started with:

Three cars, including a classic ’57 Chevy, and a Ford F150 pickup (the preferred vehicle of the Angry Piper’s brother).

This was the first time I needed to de-rivet the cars, as most of them had open windows and I wanted to add some wire mesh to the inside before I repainted them. I found this how-to video on Youtube from, of all people, Mike Hutchinson, the creator of Gaslands, wherein he shows you exactly how quick and easy it is to take apart a toy car:

Except, of course, it isn’t. At least not for me. What I discovered was that you need a cobalt drill bit if you’re planning on going though anything metal, otherwise all you’ll do is lock your drill bit and say nasty words. Once you get a cobalt drill bit a little bit bigger than your rivet, start drilling on a low setting and you’ll eventually get there.

Anyway, once de-riveted, I set about adding wire mesh, weapons and armor to the cars. Never mind the pickup truck for now, I had other plans for him.

Here they are completed: Bully-boy, Bullwhip and Stagger Lee! Bully-boy has a front-mounted machine gun and a forward ram. Bullwhip is actually the official name for the Hot Wheels car I used, and it sounds cool enough that I don’t need to rename it. He has front-mounted machine guns and a caltrop or oil slick dropper. Stagger Lee, the converted ’57 Chevy, has front-mounted machine guns and a nitro booster.

Of course, I then, quite innocently, found myself at a place where they sell yet more Hot Wheels cars. So I bought three more.

After the usual conversion process, I present the results:

I present: Surrender, Dorothy!, Black Betty (Bam-a-Lam) and Red Asphalt! Surrender, Dorothy! is equipped with a heavy machine gun and smoke launchers (much like Coughin’ Joe), Black Betty has a front-mounted rocket launcher, and Red Asphalt has a front-mounted machine gun and an oil-slick dropper (or a nitro boost, depending on how I feel).

Together with my first Gaslands build, Coughin’ Joe, that makes seven cars in total. More than enough to play the game with a friend! (Note to self: make some friends.)

If you’ve been following my Gaslands build posts thus far, my painting technique should be pretty familiar. Basically, the cars all get weathered and highlighted the same way: after applying my chosen colors, they are all washed with Nuln Oil. All the armor and metal bits are painted either with Gunmetal Grey, Gun Metal or Tin Bitz, then washed with Nuln Oil, Armor Wash or Agrax Earthshade. Then I apply some Stirland Mud, Typhus Corrosion and usually some MIG rust pigment to weather they cars further. And that’s pretty much it.

Wondering about that Ford F-150 Pickup? Well, next post you’ll see what I did with it. For those of us in the United States, here’s a hint…

“Sunday! Sunday! SUNNDDAAAAAY!!!!!!”

Aryllus Thenra

A brief intermission, if you will permit me, from all things Gaslands.

If you’re a longtime role-playing gamer like me, then you probably have a character or two somewhere that you would have liked to play more often than you were able to. This is one of mine.

When my friend Chris decided he wanted to run an AD&D 3.5 campaign about 10 years ago, I decided I would play a standard (non-specialist) wizard. (Prior to this, my only real experience playing a magic-user was a 2nd ed. AD&D campaign back in college, when I played a shameless Raistlin ripoff; and a MERP game where I played an acrobatic Dunedán mage. Please don’t ask.) Chris’s campaign was called Jamestown, and it involved the political intrigues of rival brothers against a backdrop of standard monster-slaying and fantasy ass-kickery that you would expect from an AD&D game. Like many games and campaigns I have played in over the years, it was over too fast, as lack of time and the responsibilities of real life soon got in the way.

In Chris’s world, mages are rare and mysterious, and command a certain respect simply by virtue of their profession. Aryllus was a young and talented wizard with a calculating and detached manner. He was soft-spoken and carefully considered his words and actions. Although he was certainly capable of laying down offensive magics, Aryllus was more of a support player in the party. I chose a wide variety of spells for him that would enhance allies and hinder enemies, rather than having him go full Tiltowait (kudos if you get that reference!) all the time. Aryllus was content to let the fighters fight and the cleric heal. His job was to make their jobs easier.

Sometimes he forgot that. Like when he tried to blast the gates of a fortress open with a Fireball spell. Since the fireball wasn’t explosive, all it did was light the gate on fire. Dumb.

Aryllus had a raven familiar named Corax (original, I know). Corax was useful as a scrying tool; Aryllus could see through Corax’s eyes and could instantly communicate with his familiar over a respectable distance. Corax had his own personality and was essentially a second character. I found the interplay between the two to be a lot of fun.

I’m not sure why, but I had a lot of trouble painting this figure. I couldn’t settle on a color scheme that I liked and I just kept putting it off. Since I’ve been painting up my favorite RPG characters lately, I decided it was high time for me to finish Aryllus. This miniature has been in my side pile for around ten years, with only a basecoat of blue paint on his jacket. He is Reaper’s Piers, Young Mage (02836), sculpted by one of my favorite artists, the great Sandra Garrity. He shares an Armorcast gallery base with Corax (a Reaper familiar from Familiar Pack VIII). I bought the miniature long before I created the character. When I decided to play a mage I used this figure for inspiration.

For whatever reason (perhaps my failing eyesight), this miniature looks much better in person, away from the unforgiving high-resolution camera lens. I must admit that in the pictures, he looks kind of sloppy in some places, but the flaws are not as glaring to the naked eye. Anyway, he’s done now, and out of the side pile. And he’s not going back.

Up next: more Gaslands! Vrrrrrooooooooommmmm!!!!!

 

 

Gaslands 3: Marstorius!

Well, I said I would post something that wasn’t Gaslands, but I lied. I’m too hooked. My Gaslands kitbashing continues on, with my first “big boy”. Ladies and gentlemen of the wasteland, I present: MARSTORIUS!!!!

I got the name from an old fighting game. Marstorius was a big wrestler from Fighter’s History. Here he is giving a bull a suplex, because as everyone knows, bulls are assholes. Marstorius was a poor imitation of Zangief; but that’s hardly surprising as Fighter’s History was a poor imitation of Street Fighter II. I like the name, and it fits my latest project nicely.

I need a bully: someone whose sole purpose is to ruin the day of anyone he meets. Someone who can dish out a curb-stomp like no one else, but can also take whatever punishment comes his way with a bloody, gap-toothed smile. In other words, I need an armored bus.

I started with this fire truck. It’s not a Hot Wheels or Matchbox; it’s sold at CVS and made by a Chinese company that makes cars that are (mostly) compatible with 28mm miniatures. In fact, I own a lot of those cars and you can see them on After Action Reports all over this blog, if so inclined. This fire truck is the same size as most of their cars, which of course means it’s totally out of scale (i.e. too small) with the rest of their line, but it is perfect for “Hot Wheels” scale, as it’s much bigger than a standard Hot Wheels car (about the size a fire truck would be next to a HW car). Hopefully that makes some kind of sense.

Anyway, the first thing I did was remove the side ladder, the siren lights and the extending ladder. The extending ladder could come in handy for use as scenery in other games. Removing it left me with an empty bracket on a 360° rotating platform, which is perfect for a turret emplacement.

 

Many of the scenarios in Gaslands are races, or variations thereof. Being an armored bus, Marstorius won’t win any races, but that’s not his job. His job is to make sure YOU don’t win any races.

With that in mind, I attached a turret from a Matchbox tank to the extending ladder mount, giving it a heavy machine gun with a 360° field of fire. This will allow targeting pretty much anywhere in range. Then I added the armor. Lots of styrene sheeting, craft foam and plastic mesh slapped all over this baby. It’s armored EVERYWHERE. I had some leftover rubber gaskets I had bought to replace on my outdoor faucets, so I cut them and fitted them around the wheel-wells of the truck so the armor panels wouldn’t be attached to the truck directly, and wouldn’t affect wheel rotation.

I knew I wanted a ram on the front, so I went with this buzzsaw arm. It’s an extra bit I had from an Armorcast Frank-N-Steam model I bought years ago. They don’t seem to make that model anymore, but it’s a variation of the other “Frank” models, only with two legs. I can just see Marstorius turning any vehicle foolish enough to get in his way into an instant convertible! I stuck a searchlight on the top and some auto-launchers on the back, both from old Leman Russ tank sprues. (Gotta love the bitz box!) The auto-launchers represent caltrop droppers, lest any pursuers get too close. It is unwise to tailgate Marstorius.

In Gaslands, a bus has 3 Build slots. The heavy machine gun, caltrop droppers and the front buzzsaw (ram) take up a slot each, which means the armor I festooned Martsorius with is pretty much just for show. If I wanted to make him tougher, I could forego the caltrop droppers for some extra armor instead, making him more like a war rig than a bus. He’s certainly big enough!

Here’s how he looks painted up. I used a mix of Army Painter, Cote D’Arms, Games Workshop, Reaper and Vallejo paints. Marstorius’s body and the turret is based with Necromancer Cloak (AP), with a highlight of Ash Gray (R) and Concrete Gray (R), then given a wash of Agrax Earthshade (GW). The armor plating was painted with either Gunmetal Grey (V), Gun Metal (CD) or Tin Bitz (GW) before being washed with Armor Wash (CD). The buzzsaw wires were painted various colors and given a wash of Nuln Oil (GW). I used some Stirland Mud and Typhus Corrosion (both GW) to further the grimy look. Lastly, I used some MIG rust pigment on the armor and body.

It’s not as obvious as I would like, but I painted this skull visage on the front of Marstorius’s cab. It’s tough to see behind the buzzsaw arm, but it’s there. I painted it with some watered-down white paint to simulate a spray paint effect.

I decided to add some other small touches, like this hash-mark tally of the vehicles Marstorius has sent to the junk heap. I free-handed the grafitti on the armor panels and searchlight and added the bullet holes with a Dremel.

Here are some shots showing some more battle damage. Marstorius tends to attract gunfire.

Another shot showing the rotation of the turret. That’s an old GW tank decal on his rear side panel.

Overall, I’m happy with my armored bus. I have some other cars in the works, so watch this space for more Gaslands conversions, coming soon!

Gaslands 2: Nitro Burn and Oil Can Harry!

I was warned this would happen. I have officially been bitten by the Gaslands bug. I guess that’s why I decided to convert some buggies next.

These are what I started with. I bought both of these cars brand new (a dollar apiece at soon-to-be-gone Toys R Us). The one on the left is a Hot Wheels car, the one on the right is Matchbox. Both are open-topped buggies. I really like the look of the one on the right. It has two front seats and a raised back seat, perfect for a gunner!

Buggies are light vehicles in Gaslands, meaning they’re pretty much just there to cause as much trouble as possible before they blow up.  I put minimal armor on the frames, since armoring up a buggy is a waste of a build slot, IMO. Still, I wanted the overall “Road Warrior” aesthetic…

Nitro Burn, on the left, had that ridiculous I-don’t-know-what on his roof, so I got rid of that immediately. For “armor”, I glued some some wire mesh to his canopy and some styrene to his back window. I gave him a GW storm bolter as a front-mounted machine gun and stuck a flamer tank to the side as a nitro booster.

Oil Can Harry, on the right, got two space marine bolters mounted on his roll cage as machine guns. I made an oil slick dropper from an old heavy flamer nozzle (pointed downward) and some flamer tanks. For “armor”, I covered his front and side windows with plastic mesh, and gave him a spiky front bumper.

Here’s what they look like after some painting and weathering. After priming both black, I used a mixture of Reaper, Cote D’Arms, Vallejo, Army Painter and GW paints. Nitro Burn got a basecoat of Black Red (V), highlighted with Rusty Red (R), while Oil Can Harry was based with Dusky Grape (R) and highlighted with Faded Purple (R). The metal on both buggies was Gunmetal Grey (V) and the wheel rims and guns were Gun Metal (CD). The gun casings were painted Necromancer Cloak (AP). The colors on both got a wash of Nuln Oil (GW), while the metallics were washed in Armor Wash (CD). I also used some Dawnstone, Administratum Grey and Tin Bitz (all GW) to pick out some dinged up and rusted spots. I used some Stirland Mud and Typhus Corrosion (both GW) where it made the most sense. Lastly, I applied some MIG Rust pigment to all the “armor” and to the rims.

As a final touch, I decided to have a little fun with Nitro Burn. I attached an old GW Fantasy round shield to his rear, painted up like a smiley face. I figure Nitro Burn likes to live dangerously. He likes to taunt his opponents by speeding ahead of them, forcing them to look at that infuriating yellow smile. Naturally, that face is a prime target for weapon fire, so I drilled a small hole and stuck an arrow in it, no doubt fired by some enraged wasteland scavver!

My next Gaslands project is a doozy, but I think I’m going to try to paint something non-Gaslands related first.

But I make no promises.

 

 

 

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