Category Archives: Insanity Pile

Monster May(hem) 2022 Begins!

Just a short post to let everyone know that Monster May(hem) 2022 has officially begun! Here is our list of participants this year, in no particular order:

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow; from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Roger from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Matt from PM Painting

Azazel from his eponymous Azazel’s Bitz Box

Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Tom from over on Instagram

and a couple of newcomers to Monster May(hem) this year:

Fellow Super Mission Force enthusiast) Jon from Jon’s Hobby Desk,

and Simon, aka Blax the Kleric, from Fantorical Wargaming!

And me, of course. As usual, I will update my blogroll as I post my own contributions, to point the way towards everyone’s great work! I have a few miniatures planned; but I’m not certain how many I will get through!

It’s not too late to join if you’re on the fence. Here are the rules, such as they are. Just let me know if you’re interested and I will add your name to the roster of painting heroes, and link to your site/account/ blog (ass appropriate).

Happy painting!

The Cimmerian

For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men. Not women. Not beasts. This you can trust.”

Conan’s father was right, of course. Blades before bros, babes and beasts every time. Sadly, he was just another wise man who was torn apart by dogs. Such is life.

The year of pop culture continues! For my character of the month, painted for Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty over on Instagram, I decided to paint a barbarian. Not just any barbarian: THE barbarian. I present: Conan of Cimmmeria, born on a battlefield, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.

This is “The Cimmerian (FTF07)” (also labeled as “barbarian with sword”), a classic Ral Partha sculpt from 1984. I have probably had it since then, but I never got around to painting him until now. Wish I knew who sculpted it. My best guess would be Dennis Mize.

I could have just painted him bare-chested (as is the barbarian’s wont); but I was inspired by the body paint from Conan’s raid on Thulsa Doom’s temple, arguably the coolest part of the Conan the Barbarian film (a movie with a LOT of cool parts).

One of the best things about the movie is the amazing soundtrack; which I absolutely listened to while painting the miniature. It’s so great!

I made sure to add the blood splatter from Conan’s many kills; but I seem to have forgotten to add blood to his sword. Maybe he oiled it just before the slaughter.

Here, Conan explores a temple and discovers a strange inscription. What could it mean?

So, to recap: this miniature ticks a lot of boxes for me: he’s my character of the month, my entry for Tom’s IG challenge, he’s a pop culture miniature AND he’s old-school lead!

(Drops mic)

Monster May(hem) 2022

It’s that time of year…

Here at Dead Dick’s Tavern, Monster May(hem) kicks off the annual painting challenges that I look forward to most: Monster May(hem) in May, Forgotten Heroes in June, and the Summer of Scenery in July and August (Dave gives us an extra month so we really have no excuse). Participation in my humble challenge has grown steadily over the years, and last year Matt and Azazel in particular really showed us what can be done in just thirty-one days! I look forward to hosting this challenge every year!

Anyway, what is Monster May(hem)? Why, it’s the month you paint monsters, of course. Any monster will do, although it should be a proper MONSTER; no skeletons or orcs. I mean something truly beastly; like a wyvern or a shoggoth or an owlbear. Your monster(s) doesn’t have to be strictly a fantasy miniature, and it may be any scale and from any manufacturer. Wanna see past Monster May(hem) stuff? Just check the archives for May; staring in 2018. or, if you’re too lazy to do that, you can get a pretty good idea what I’m talking about by looking at this post and this post. Everyone is welcome, of course. Just inform of me your intent to participate in the comments below. I will link to your stuff throughout the month, and (if it’s not there already) add your blog/website/social media to the blogroll on the side! If you don’t have a site of your own and still want to participate, I’ll happily host your pictures here and ensure you get proper attribution!

I’ve got a few plans already for this year; but as usual I’m not sure if I’ll get to all of them.

So…who’s in?

“Would you kindly…?”

It’s pretty tough to overstate how much of a big deal Bioshock was when it was released back in 2007. It still holds up today; both graphics and gameplay, and as for the story, forget about it. Your plasmid-fueled trip through the failed, Randian underwater dystopian city of Rapture is a tale well worth revisiting and replaying, even fifteen years and two sequels later. Scary, thrilling, darkly comic and somewhat grotesque, Bioshock is art.

Among the many adversaries you will face as you traverse the leaking, seaweed-choked halls and passages of Rapture, the most iconic (and deadly) are the Big Daddies. There is no escaping them. You will meet them, you will kill them; and you will most certainly be killed by them. Many, many times.

The Big Daddy’s sole purpose is to protect the Little Sisters, who are the main source of ADAM, the raw material substance which allows genetic alteration. In game terms, this is how your character gets cool abilities and powers. Little Sisters were once normal young girls who have been altered to reclaim ADAM from the corpses of genetically altered people. When meeting a Little Sister (after killing her Big Daddy first), you have the option to either Save her or Harvest her. Saving her returns her to normal and grants you some ADAM; harvesting her kills her and grants you a lot more.

I’ve been called heartless before; but I save all the Little Sisters. (I’m not a fucking monster.)

The Little Sisters call the Big Daddies “Mr. Bubbles”. For my “Mr. Bubbles”, I chose this “hardsuit” miniature from Recreational Conflict. It’s about as close to a Big Daddy as you can get.

After priming it black, I based it with Citadel Tin Bitz before layering on Vallejo Bronze. I didn’t like the look of it (too uniformly metallic), so I washed it in Vallejo Sepia Tone. This gave it a really nice, warm color. I highlighted up with more Bronze and finally, Citadel Shining Gold. I also used some Brown Ink to line the seams, and some Citadel Typhus Corrosion to grime it up a bit.

I fucked up on the base, though. I should have mounted him on a Tech Base, but instead I based him on a 40mm MDF disk, which I then covered in sand. I couldn’t remove him without having to assemble him all over again (screw that), so I did what I could. Big Daddies can go underwater just fine, so I added a starfish made out of Magic Sculpt (I stole the idea from Matt’s zombie shark base; thanks, Matt!). The seaweed is the remains of a Heroclix cape from a DC Hypertime Hawk model. I used the main body when making Blue Diamond for Forgotten Heroes, way back in 2017! I never throw anything away. ( Looking back on those Liberty Legion conversions, I realize I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I can’t see shit anymore. If I was doing them today, I think they’d look a lot better, thanks to my magnifiers. Maybe I should revisit them…)

For the seashell, I took a trip to Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts. Actually, it’s not much of a trip, considering I live within spitting distance. Going to the beach just to get a shell reminded me how much I take living near the ocean for granted. Although I’ve lived here all my life, I hate going to the beach in summer, because I hate people, I burn easily, and I don’t like to swim in salt water. Horseneck Beach is also good for a great white shark sighting or two every couple of years; but just because you don’t see any on a given year doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. (They are.) I usually get bored and annoyed very quickly when I’m forced to go to the beach; but days like this, when it’s overcast and windy and I’m the only one in sight…I could get used to this.

Up next, a return to Trek!

“Arioch! Arioch! Blood and souls for my lord Arioch!”

Continuing the year of Pop Culture, I figured I’d dip in the world of Fantasy Literature; a genre that grabbed me tightly as a kid and has never once let go.

Of all of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion material (and there’s a shitload of it), the only tales I read were his Elric stories. I just reviewed the chronology, and it seems I’ve read most of the main sequence of tales up until the end; but I didn’t read much of Moorcock’s later Elric works that took place at uncertain points in the main timeline. I have a weird relationship with Elric of Melnibone. I read the stories at an age where I didn’t have the maturity to fully appreciate them. I recall loving almost everything about the character of Elric (albino sorcerer with a soul-sucking sword) but hating every story he was in. I found them incredibly boring. (I think I need to reread them, but I got rid of my old paperbacks a long time ago. I just found out they’re going for $75 bucks each on eBay. What the actual fuck?!)

Elric is by far the most famous of Moorcock’s characters; the original emo anti-hero. He was angst-ridden and emotionally tortured long before it was cool. He’s the disaffected prince of a dying race who sees the end coming and laments it. He’s a drug-dependent sorcerer who makes deals with demons because…why not? Eventually, he finds Stormbringer, a magical sword of great power that gives him vitality and formidable fighting skills and feeds upon the souls of its victims. Carrying a sword like that is never a good idea, and (spoiler alert) Stormbringer is ultimately responsible for the destruction of everything Elric cares about.

I’ve had this miniature for a long time. It was in one of the first orders I made when I got back into miniature painting around 12 years ago. Bronze Age had the John Carter stuff, so I added this figure to it and it’s sat there in the blister all this time. This is the “Elf Anti-Hero”. He (deliberately, I think) looks a bit like a certain albino Eternal Champion, so that’s who I painted him as.

As stated above, he’s also only one incarnation of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion archetype, which is so fucking confusing I’ll just reproduce what Wikipedia says about it here: (The Eternal Champion is…) an appointed paladin of Balance who is bound to exist in each and every world and age of the Multiverse, so that Law and Chaos are perpetually kept in check. There are about thirty different Eternal Champion characters, and I couldn’t give a shit about any of them. I get the feeling it’s probably somewhat incomprehensible, and although I would give Elric another go to see if my opinion has changed with maturity, I just don’t have the energy to really get into anything else. To be honest, looking at the sheer volume of characters and series, I’d have to be way more of a Moorcock fan than I am (which is to say not much) to even attempt it.

Still, the fact remains that Moorcock has influenced a lot of writers who have come after; and was a huge influence on the development of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, the characters from Elric were originally included in the very first printing of Deities & Demigods, along with Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian entities, before Chaosium got the rights to both and put out their own games (Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu, respectively).

He’s definitely pop culture, that’s for certain.

I’m trying to publish a bit more regularly; so if you are a casual visitor to Dead Dick’s Tavern, don’t be surprised to find more than one post waiting for you on your next visit. I make no promises about how long that will last; but for now I have a few things in the pipeline to get to. Up next is likely a return to the Enterprise-D, for what I hope will be the last prose post before I actually start the gaming part…

Cloaked Assassin

A brief interlude from Star Trek for my Character of the Month, and to show off my mad organization skillz, brah!

For Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge over on Instagram, I present my Character of the Month from Ral Partha: The Cloaked Assassin, by sculpted by Bob Charrette, from their Fantasy Adventurers range (03-058).

I’ve had this fellow for thirty years or so; another occupant of my pile of shame that I never got around to painting. He was, however, primed white, so I must have at least intended to paint him at some point. I primed him black over the white before I painted him this time, however.

I’ve never been a big fan of putting assassins in adventuring parties. In my mind, assassins should be either adversaries to the PCs or something else entirely, not a character class. Why would an assassin go on an adventure? They have a pretty limited skill set: they know how to kill people. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to stick to what they’re good at? Garroting someone in an alley seems far safer than kicking down a door in a necromancer’s crypt and fighting his undead minions, doesn’t it?

So, let’s call this guy a thief instead. Or rogue, if you prefer the current nomenclature of D&D 5E.

This was my painting desk up until a couple of months ago. Although you can’t really see them, most of my paints sat on a pair of old spice racks. These cheap plastic racks were not designed for paint (duh), and I often had the annoying chore of picking up paints from the floor, where they had fallen between my desk and the wall after being knocked over or jostled from their precarious perches on the too-narrow racks.

Something needed to be done, so a new rack was constructed from XPS foam. This one measured the entire length of my desk and was designed to fit flush along the wall. The shelves were intentionally made wide enough to accommodate multiple rows of bottles of all different types, from dropper bottles to pop-tops to even the dreaded (and hated) old-style Citadel twist-off paint pots.

Here’s what it looks like now. Although I would have been content to just slap together some pink foam and use it as-is, my better half flatly refused to even consider such a stupid idea and wouldn’t allow it. She painted and wrapped the whole thing in adhesive shelf paper, so now my paint rack looks like it’s made of solid marble.

I love it. No more falling paint pots. Room for all may paints and then some (which just means I will fill the space eventually). Naturally I took photos because I know it will not look like this for long. So far I’ve managed to keep it tidy.

But wait, there’s more! I decided to take this opportunity to organize my gaming closet, too. So, here it is!

Thirty-plus years of roleplaying games on the left side.

Board games and RPG boxed sets in the middle.

More board games, miniatures games and terrain (including a Mighty Fortress!), and collectible card games on the right (last played circa 2004 or so).

Last but not least: the pile of shame; or as I like to call it: the Insanity Pile. Old miniatures, new miniatures, abandoned projects, projects I know I will never get to but won’t say are abandoned, projects I intend to get to one day, and projects I will actually work on. The plastic cases at the bottom hold Owen’s miniatures; the white boxes on the second shelf are mostly Heroclix, and all the shit you can’t see behind what you see here is mostly bitz on sprues and unopened armies and units for 40K and WFB. On the Naya rack is unpainted Plasticville scenery and most of the High Elf Army I’ll never get to. And of course, on the top are all my old-school miniatures, some painted, some not. The plain cardboard boxes hold various projects, including what I have left from last year’s order from Wargames Terrain Workshop!

Gotta say, I like this organization thing a lot. This stuff was all over my basement, and I got tired of hearing about it. I took these pictures to remind me what it’s like to be responsible and put away my toys.

They also make it clear that I really need to get rid of stuff.

Next: back to the Enterprise-D!

“I step on necks.”

Continuing with my year of pop culture, I decided to finally paint a set of miniatures I’ve had for at least ten years, “Action Dude” by East Riding Miniatures; from their Golgo Island line (which I now think is owned, or at least managed, by Hasslefree).

“Action Dude” is a set of four miniatures who are obviously NOT Chuck Norris. First up is Chuck as Colonel James Braddock, from his “Missing in Action” film franchise. In the first film, Braddock, a Vietnam veteran, returns to Vietnam to free POWs who are still being held captive (kinda like Rambo). In the second film, the timeline flashes back to when Braddock himself was a POW; and shows how he escapes (by killing all the guards, and beating Soon Tek Oh, the commandant, in hand-to-hand combat). The third film, Braddock returns once again to Vietnam; this time to find and rescue his son whom he unknowingly fathered while over there the first time. Here’s the trailer for Missing in Action III, in which Braddock delivers the greatest movie line ever, which is also the title of this post.

Next is Chuck as Colt, from Way of the Dragon (released as Return or the Dragon here in the US). This one doesn’t end well for Action Dude; but then again, he is fighting Bruce Lee, so that’s to be expected. Enjoy this classic fight, and remember to manscape every once in a while, lest someone pull out a fistful of your manly, 1970’s wookie-like chest hair.

Invasion U.S.A. is hands-down one of the shittiest action movies ever to come out of the 80’s, and that is truly an exceptional distinction. Chuck, as Matt Hunter, wears a lot of denim in this movie and carries twin Mac-10 submachineguns in a shoulder rig that he likes so much, he doesn’t bother to take the guns out of it while he kills people with them. The movie features Richard Lynch who really stretches his acting muscles (and injures himself terribly) when he attempts to affect a Russian accent. He’s the leader of an “army” made up of international terrorists and other assorted assholes who would, conceivably, succeed in invading the USA if not for Action Dude himself. Watch the trailer below. It looks like this terrorist army is made up of about 87 guys, against the entire US military. We’re fucked!

Finally, here’s Chuck from arguably his most famous role, “Walker, Texas Ranger”. I never watched Walker regularly, but I’ve seen enough episodes to know that they follow a pretty standard formula, much like the old A-Team or Incredible Hulk TV series. In those, there would usually be two fights per episode, and at least one of them would end up with Mr. T or the Hulk throwing someone in slow-motion over a car or into some collapsible set pieces. Substitute a patented Chuck Norris roundhouse kick for the throw, and you pretty much have the same thing. The best part of Walker, Texas Ranger is that Chuck Norris sang the theme song. If you didn’t know that, you can hear it for yourself below. And you’re welcome.

That’s a heapin’ helpin’ of pop culture for ya this time around; but I’m just getting started! The year is still young.

Arianna Moonshadow, Enchantress

For Fembruary, and also for my Character of the Month, I chose to paint a Sandra Garrity classic from Ral Partha: Arianna Moonshadow, Enchantress.

I decided to paint her as a druid instead, She’s got a belt made out of animal teeth, so why not?

I have had this miniature since she was released (sometime in the early 90’s would be my guess). She been unpainted all this time, so I’m making good on my plan to use Tom’s challenge as an excuse to paint some old-school miniatures. Plus, I love me some Sandra Garrity!

It’s been a hellish month at work and I’ve just kicked off a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign; so I haven’t had much time to do very much hobby-wise. But expect a flurry of posts soon as I endeavor to catch up!

Lord Gunthar uth Wistan

I’m getting a slow start on 2022, mainly because my painting desk is in complete disarray as I look for a better way to organize the paint racks of doom. Still, I’ve managed to paint a couple of miniatures this year so far, one of which is my Character of the Month for Tom’s (@the_goodground) painting challenge over on Instagram. If you recall, Tom came up with the completely original idea of painting one miniature each month of an official Dungeons & Dragons character class from the 5E Player’s Handbook. Well, who am I to turn down that kind of challenge? It’s pure genius!

Of course, anyone taking part might be tempted to write a complete backstory for the miniatures they paint in a challenge like this, but not me. I’m content with simply painting my miniature and showing it off, thank you very much. Who has time for back stories? That way lies madness.

I decided Tom’s unique painting challenge is a good excuse to paint up some old, classic lead; something I have long chastised myself that I do not do enough of. So, I’m starting things off with a classic Ral Partha miniature from their AD&D Dragonlance line: 11-073, Lord Gunthar uth Wistan, Knight of the Rose and Grandmaster of the Knights of Solamnia. (Sadly, I don’t know who sculpted this miniature.) Both of those honorifics are simply fancy titles for what Lord Gunthar is, at heart: a human fighter.

That’s Lord Gunthar on top of the dragon, there; in pretty much the only picture I’ve ever seen of him. This was from the 1985 Dragonlance calendar and was painted by the great Larry Elmore. Lord Gunthar is a guy in plate armor with a huge mustache. He isn’t described much differently in the books, and he isn’t a primary character. (On a side note, although I love Larry Elmore as much as any kid who grew up in the 1980’s playing Dungeons & Dragons does; I’m not wild about the dragon in this picture. I think he looks kind of insectoid.)

Anyway, the picture doesn’t really help much, since most of Lord Gunthar’s body and his rear are not depicted. The miniature doesn’t include the dragon, either; so he’s far less impressive than he is in the painting; and it’s not exactly faithful to the image (although it’s close). So, I had to wing it a bit.

Here he is: The Grand Master of the Knights of Solamnia: Lord Gunthar uth Wistan, who should be about a 15th level fighter or so. If you want to read his backstory (but why would you?), you can read the original Dragonlance Chronicles. Or, skip that and find the abbreviated version here.

The miniature is fine, I guess; but the Knights of Solamnia are renowned for having highly stylized and ornamental armor. Lord Gunthar’s armor is kind of plain. Even his scabbard is unadorned. Not really living up to the whole Grand Master of Knights look.

I think I will enjoy this challenge a lot this year. I had fun painting this classic miniature and I’m looking forward to doing more.

2022 Resolutions

Well, it’s that time again: time to rate how faithful I was to my hobby resolutions from last year, and time to make some new ones for 2022. Last year I decided to keep it simple and not set too many lofty or unrealistic goals for myself (including goals that just seem to be set every year and never started; like my Old West scenery or my Wargames Factory Shock Troopers). In fact, this what I said: “I’m going to paint whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want…with some minor guidelines.” Sound advice, and it will be more of the same this year.

So, how did I do last year? I only set four goals for myself. They were:

More Roleplaying Stuff: Goal met! I posted some write-ups of a Marvel Super Heroes game I ran way back in January. The game was much more fun to write up than it was to play, because two of my four players didn’t exactly enjoy a return to the old 1980’s TSR system, (One really didn’t enjoy it, but that’s another story. ‘Nuff said.) Still, for myself and the other two, it was a lot of fun. I didn’t manage to write up any further Star Trek Adventures games, although we did play a few times. I hope to return to running both these games again this year, although likely with a new group of players (see below).

One Character a Month: Goal met! You can see the results here if you want. Some were late for their respective months, but all made it in by year’s end.

Painting Challenges: Goal Met! In addition to the one I set for myself, I hosted my now-annual Monster Mayhem in May, and I took part in no less than six other painting competitions: Leadballoony’s Fembruary (although I posted my miniature in March), Carrion Crow’s Forgotten Heroes (my favorite painting challenge!) in June, Dave Stone’s Season of Scenery (July-August) and Apocalypse Me challenges (October, although I posted her late), Orctober (October), and, although I didn’t “officially” enter, I painted a miniature for Deadcember, an Instagram challenge.

More AARs: Goal met! I posted After Action Reports with original scenarios for two games: a couple of Green Hornet .45 Adventure games, and a return to Super Mission Force, featuring The Crimson Hound!

So,I grabbed all the rings, despite being annoyingly late a few times. I also got two more personal projects completed: all the Star Wars: Imperial Assault miniatures in the Twin Shadows expansion, plus the accompanying Ally and Villain packs; and all the miniatures for the Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps game, including the Ultimate Badasses expansion. Not too shabby!

So what about this year? Well, these goals should look somewhat similar.

More Roleplaying Stuff: This year, Dead Dick’s Tavern will feature even more RPG content. Roleplaying games were my first love and my initial entry point into the miniatures hobby. I love playing RPGs, I love running RPGs, I love talking about RP games and game systems. We are in a golden age of RPGs; with tons of small-press and creator-owned content sharing the market with amazing companies like Free League Publishing and Modiphius. I will (hopefully) discuss RPGs old and new, post some game write-ups and reviews; and if possible, maybe even get to play in more games as a result.

Through Instagram and Discord, I have been fortunate to meet some roleplaying gamers from all over the country and play games with them. It’s been a pretty fun experience, and one I plan to continue this year. If you look at the top of this blog, you will see there is more than one page. (Yeah, I know. I didn’t realize that either for the longest time.) Anyway, a new page will soon be up there, talking about which RPGs I hope to run in 2022. If you are interested in playing anything I list (remotely, of course), then by all means contact me for the particulars!

One Character a Month: Maybe more, actually. As I said, I won’t be hosting this challenge, but it’s open to anyone who has an Instagram account and wants to participate. It’s essentially the same challenge as mine (though no backstory required): paint a D&D character class each month. I’m using this as an excuse to paint some classic lead: Grenadier, Ral Partha, RAFM…I will post my submissions here, too!

Painting Challenges: I’ll be paring it back a bit this year. Aside from the above Character of the Month, I will absolutely be hosting Monster Mayhem again, and I will always do Forgotten Heroes for as long as Jeremy hosts it. I can’t say no to Dave’s Season of Scenery, either; he’s so accommodating by giving us two months, and it’s pretty much the only time I force myself to build and paint scenery. Other than that, we’ll see what comes my way.

More AARs: Yes! This year will see a return and conclusion to the Green Hornet adventure. I would also like very much to do some more Star Trek skirmish games; perhaps this time using the TNG crew; and of course, Super Mission Force.

Personal Projects: I don’t like to make promises to myself that I don’t keep (although it happens often)…BUT…I’m going to be focusing on getting all my Star Wars: Imperial Assault miniatures painted this year. Will I be able to get through 3 more boxed expansions and 20 + blister packs, a total of 63 miniatures? Probably not. We’ll see. I have some other things I keep looking at, thinking I should start or finish them. As always.

Get Back Out There: I’ve been neglecting the blogs of others for a while, as real life has reared its ugly head. I hope to be once again be more of a nuisance to hobbyists everywhere.

Well, that’s about it. Keep watch for that new RPG page, if interested. (I have no idea what I’ll be posting next, but it’s a good bet it will have something to do with the miniatures hobby.)