Category Archives: Repaints

Forgotten Heroes 2018, Submission 1: The Water Wizard!

It’s June, which means it’s time for Forgotten Heroes!

Last year my fellow miniatures enthusiast Carrion Crow invited me to take part in the Forgotten Heroes challenge. I played hard to get at first, but then when I saw how much fun it was going to be, I begged him to let me take part. He graciously agreed. I converted and/or repainted the entire Liberty Legion, along with special guests Spirit of ’76, Patriot, Union Jack and Bucky! This year, I’m hoping to submit three Forgotten Heroes, not a whole team. So, without further ado, here’s the first:

 

The Water Wizard is a really lame Marvel villain with water powers. In fact, it turns out he can control almost any liquid, not just water. You would think this would make him pretty powerful, but Water Wizard is an idiot. In 1977, he made his debut in the Ghost Rider comic book and promptly got his clock cleaned by Ghost Rider, both in his initial appearance and pretty much every time they met after that.

He actually fought some other Marvel good guys, like Captain America, with predictable results (he lost). He was recruited by criminal financier and Hugh Hefner lookalike, Justin Hammer, but ran away when he had to fight Iron Man.

After a while, Water Wizard changed his name to Aqueduct, which is an even dumber name than Water Wizard, and tried to continue his criminal ambitions. Instead he joined the Thunderbolts and that’s about when I lost track of him.

To make this conversion, I used three figures. Because I never throw anything out, I had a headless Quicksilver left over from when I made Jack Frost in my first Forgotten Heroes challenge last year. . He’s been grotesquely hanging around in a corner of my hobby space since then. I thought that the head of the Weather Wizard (similar name, different publisher, equally lame bad guy) would look pretty good on the body. His  hair is already blowing around, so it would match pretty well with the running pose. For added effect, I thought I would use this water spume on the Aquaman figure for something…

An idea took shape. I re-headed and rebased the miniature, and sculpted his fashionable hip waders out of green stuff. (A side note: I suck at sculpting anything. This is problematic, as my next Forgotten Heroes submissions will require much more sculpting. Thus I have sought the aid and advice of a sculptor extraordinaire to guide my efforts henceforth…)

I removed the cumbersome Aquaman model from the water spout and attached it to a base of green stuff sculpted to look like water (I can handle that much). Now it looks like the water is moving with him. Then I painted the model to resemble Water Wizard.

Hi running pose actually looks pretty accurate. I only have to face him away from any hero model since Water Wizard often flees. I don’t have a Daredevil-like sense of touch, so I couldn’t tell if the diagonal slash on Quicksilver’s costume was raised or if it was just a painted on until I painted over it. Turns out it’s actually part of the sculpt, which is unfortunate, as you can still barely see it through my paint. Also, I now have a headless Weather Wizard where my headless Quicksilver used to be.

Forgotten Heroes 2018 submission 1: complete!

 

 

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!!!!!!”

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.

 

 

 

First Gaslands Build: Coughin’ Joe!

I discovered Gaslands by reading Miniature Wargames magazine a couple of months back. It’s a game of post-apocalyptic vehicular combat put out by Osprey.  It’s designed to be played with standard Matchbox/Hot Wheels cars that you convert into Mad Max-esque death machines, and it looks like a lot of fun.

While my experience with Osprey Games has been hit-or-miss so far, I figured why not give it a shot? After all, the entry cost to a game like this is minimal; you only need the rules and a bunch of toy cars to play. The rules are reasonably priced at under $20, and toy cars are easy enough to come by. They’re pretty cheap even brand new, and better still; there are tons of thrift shops, flea markets and secondhand stores where you can pick up used and banged up toy cars for even less! (If you have kids, you can probably find a bunch laying around your house on inconvenient places, like stairs.) You’re going to convert them anyway, and cosmetic damage is the look you’re going for!

I went by a thrift shop and bought a bag of 6 cars for $3.00. It contained this car, a “Plymouth Hemi Cuda” by Maisto.  I actually know a guy who owns a 1969 Plymouth Barracuda. He drove it all through high school and still has it to this day, some 30 years later. It gets about 3 miles to the gallon, but it’s absolutely the coolest car I’ve ever been in, and it hauls balls, to put it mildly.

I decided this is going to be my first Gaslands conversion.

Images abound on the Interweb of Gaslands vehicles; simply Google “Gaslands” and you’ll see for yourself. There are also many Youtube videos to view on the subject. One particular creator, JH Miniatures, does a terrific series entitled Wastelands Workshop. It’s a bit technical, but you don’t need to get as fancy as he does. I highly recommend his videos.

If you’re like me, i.e. an obsessive hoarder of bits from previous kits, then rejoice, for Gaslands is the game for you. I played a lot of Warhammer 40K back in the day, using Space Marines (of course) and Imperial Guard. In other words, I have a lot of old vehicle bits that have been sitting in boxes for a very long time. But you don’t need to have a ton of fancy bits like me, or be as technically savvy as JH Miniatures to get to work on Gaslands conversions. DM Jim over at Game Terrain Engineering does a bunch of Gaslands videos, and this one in particular shows how to use common junk items as weapons and armor. Good stuff!

But back to me…I decided not to go too crazy with my first car. I’ve opted to use some bolters from some old Rhino kits and smoke launchers from a Leman Russ tank as conversion bits. The bolters are machine guns, and the smoke launchers could represent turbo boosters, caltrop or glue droppers, oil dispensers, or…well, smoke launchers, which is what I’m going to use them for. Coughin’ Joe, get it?

For armor, I used some old material I had laying around: these textured craft foam sheets. Each package cost me a dollar, and you get six different texture patterns. Four of these have patterns that are useless (like the one pictured), but there are two that could work.

The orange stuff is the craft foam. It’s easy as pie to cut and glue, and the grid pattern makes it look industrial enough to serve as armor. I also clipped some plastic mesh from a needlepoint sheet (I think that cost a dollar, too), and glued it around the front wheel wells to offer the tires some protection.

The smoke launchers glued easily to the back of the car. The bolters have little mounting pegs on them, so I decided to drill tiny holes to accommodate the pegs. This was surprisingly difficult, even with my Dremel on max rpm. Turns out I needed a cobalt drill bit to get through the car. One quick trip to Home Depot sorted that out, and voila! Front mounted machine guns!

Once assembled (it took less than 20 minutes, not counting my trip to Home Depot), I primed it black.

I used a mixture of Vallejo, Cote D’Arms and GW paints. I based the car in Military Green (V) and highlighted it with Cayman Green (V) before giving it a thorough wash in Nuln Oil (GW). I painted the armor plating Gunmetal Grey (V) and the guns and wheel rims with Gun Metal (CD) and washed all the metallics with Armour Wash (CD). Then I liberally applied some MIG rust pigments to the armor sections and the rims. I used some Stirland Mud (GW) on the wheel wells and the front and rear bumpers. A light drybrush of Dawnstone (GW) on the windows, and that was that.And here he is, in all his grimy glory…Coughin’ Joe!

Rear view. Most people never see this on account of the thick black smoke pouring out of those launchers…

If you see this in your rear-view mirror, you’re about to get shot. A lot.

I read somewhere that it’s easy to get addicted to converting cars for Gaslands, and I am already hooked. I have a bunch of toy cars and bits scattered around my hobby space as we speak. More Gaslands conversions soon!

 

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy has become one of my favorite Batman villains, although it wasn’t always so. (Take the movie Batman and Robin, for example; like Arnold Shwarzenegger’s Mister Freeze, the less said about Uma Thurman’s portrayal of Ivy, the better.) I didn’t really start to like her until the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Harley and Ivy”, in which the two ladies team up to take over Gotham’s crime scene, at least until Batman and the Joker find out about it.

Ivy appears in all but one of the Rocksteady Batman: Arkham series of video games, of which I am a huge, obsessed fanboy. And now, with a particularly cold-blooded version of Poison Ivy running amok on the current season of TV’s Gotham, I thought it was a good time to feature her here.

This repainted Heroclix Ivy is from the DC Cosmic Justice set. It’s the classic, early version of Ivy, before she got chlorophyll for blood and became more plant than human. I based her on a small piece of Spanish moss. Behind her are some of her pets: the big monster plants are Dragon Plants, new from Reaper’s Bones collection. The pod plants are also from Reaper Bones; they’re Death Star Lilies.  The big Man-eating Plant in the middle is from Armorcast.

 

The little plant people are Vardu Sprouts, from Hydra Miniatures’ Primal Dawn range. When I ordered them I thought they would be bigger than they are, but they’re sprouts, after all. I just based them two to a base. I plan on having the pod plants spit them out as a renewable source of plant henchmen.

Lastly, the big guy is an old version of Reaper’s Swamp Shambler. I painted him years ago, and he looks a lot like a certain…bayou-dwelling…Plant Elemental…known for…punctuating…his speech…with lots…of…elipses…but in this context he’s Ivy’s bodyguard, should Batman ever get too close. He’s better than that horrible version of Bane in Batman & Robin, anyway.

Man, was ANYTHING in that movie any good? No. Not a thing.

Anyway, here is my Super Mission Force build for Poison Ivy:

Poison Ivy (Wild Card) Minor: Barrier, Entangle, Summoning, Telekinesis

I can hear some of you already: “Now hold on a second, Angry Piper! Barrier and Entangle, I can see. But since when does Poison Ivy have Summoning and Telekinesis?”

To that, my friends, I would say you must think outside the box a bit. What is Poison Ivy’s main power? Plant control. Unfortunately, there is no plant control power in SMF. Ivy can get plants to do a lot of stuff, like entangle enemies or form barriers…or grapple enemies at range with super strength, bear herself aloft to higher elevations (a’ la Jack and the Beanstalk), or manipulate objects at a distance using plant-y tendrils. (In other words: Telekinesis, only using the plants instead of her mind.) She can will plants to fight for her and pretty much instantly mutate normal plants into killing machines. Kind of sounds like Summoning, no?

Of course, if you don’t like my version of Poison Ivy, you could substitute some or all of these powers with others you may find more thematically appropriate, like Armor, Damage Field, or Enhanced Senses, to name a few. When using Ivy in a scenario, I would let her have a few plant guardians and/or henchmen in place at the start of the game. She’s really not that tough, otherwise; and she would likely be defeated before she could use her powers to summon reinforcements. Just my 2 pesos.

 

 

Juggernaut and Black Tom

Juggernaut is a classic X-Men villain, a physical titan who is counterpoint to his brother Charles Xavier’s mental mastery. Unfortunately, he often hangs out with Black Tom Cassidy.

Black Tom is the cousin of Sean Cassidy (not to be confused with Shaun Cassidy, the Hardy Boy), better known as the X-Men’s Banshee. Black Tom was created by veteran X-Men scribe Chris Claremont, a man responsible for many great X-Men storylines and characters. Unfortunately, he’s also responsible for many horrible X-Men characters (like Black Tom Cassidy), as well as the nightmare “alternate-reality/timeline” clusterfuck that characterizes the X-books to this day.

I have mixed feelings about Mr. Claremont. On the one hand, his X-Men work with John Byrne in the late 70’s/early 80’s is iconic. But then, in the 90’s, he created Gambit.

No matter how conflicted I feel about Mr. Claremont, my feelings about Black Tom are crystal clear. Like many of Claremont’s characters (Moira Mac Taggart, for example), Black Tom suffers from ridiculous ethnic stereotyping. He’s all “begorrahs” and “boyos” and “blimeys”.  I get that he’s a comic book villain, but fer Chrissakes, man. Black Tom also channels his powers through a shillelagh, because of course he fucking does. 

In case you can’t glean as much from the tone of this post, I actually hate Black Tom Cassidy more than I hate Gambit (I didn’t know that was possible). Nevertheless, he hangs out with Juggernaut, so….

Here are my Heroclix repaints of Juggernaut and Black Tom. I look at these and while I’m happy with the repaints, I have a slight problem…Juggernaut is way too small. According to the Marvel wiki, Juggernaut is 9’5″. The fact that he’s hunched over (no doubt plodding forward) doesn’t help, but I feel like Juggernaut should be HUGE. Take this screen shot from the Marvel Super Heroes video game:

Yeah. That’s Juggernaut. Not someone slightly larger than Black Tom Cassidy. He can fit his whole hand around Iron Man’s waist! (In the video game, he’s actually bigger than the Hulk.)

There are other Heroclix versions of Juggernaut, but, IMO, this one is the best sculpt. I wish it was bigger, but I’ll live with it.

As far as Black Tom goes, his sculpt is fine, although the flame coming out of his shillelagh (why does that sound dirty?) is made out of that translucent ‘Clix plastic I hate so much. I painted flames over it, for better or worse.

Here are my Super Mission Force builds for Juggernaut and the reviled Black Tom Cassidy:

Juggernaut: (Super) Major: Super Strength, Minor: Armor, Density Increase, Resistance, Tough

Special Rules: Unstoppable: Juggernaut’s Density Increase power is ALWAYS on. He doesn’t have to activate it, nor can he choose to deactivate it. This makes him immune to knockback at all times. It also means he can’t charge, only move at his normal rate. Juggernaut can be Entangled, but only until his next activation. He automatically wins any opposed roll to escape an Entangle. He just plods forward. Juggernaut can be grappled normally. (If you want try grappling Juggernaut, good luck.)

Black Tom Cassidy: (Blaster) Major: Power Blasts, Minor: Clever, Rapport (Juggernaut)

Note: this is the old version of Black Tom, the one I know and hate from a few decades ago. Apparently, Black Tom is now part wood, and can control wood. If you prefer, I guess you could give him Armor and Melee Specialist instead of the minor powers I gave him to reflect his current version. He’ll still suck, though, because he’s still Black Tom Cassidy.

 

Cowabunga, Dude!

I first discovered Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a freshman in high school. It was 1986, a pretty amazing year for comics as a whole. That year would see the publication of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, two pivotal and iconic stories that would rock the foundations of the comics industry and change comic books forever.

Up until then I only collected Marvel titles, and all of those were in color. Black and white comics, i.e. small press titles,  were unknown to me. Then my friend introduced me to TMNT #7, and I was immediately hooked. I hunted down as many back issues as I could find. They were surprisingly scarce and first printings of the first 3 issues were well above anything I could afford even if I could find copies. I managed to get everything from issue 4 and up, but even to this day I do not own copies of the first three issues. Instead I had to content myself with the First Comics graphic novel, which reprinted all three issues in color. (Prior to this reprint, the only TMNT color material was in a Munden’s Bar story in Grimjack #26. I bought that for the turtles, and ended up becoming a much bigger fan of Grimjack than of TMNT!)

The original turtles, by which I mean the version as presented in the comics prior to the first (1987) animated television series and the (1990) live-action movie (featuring the great Corey Feldman as Donatello), were a bit different than what we know today. The comic, although a parody of Daredevil (among others), was kind of dark. It managed to take itself somewhat seriously even in the midst of its absurd premise. For example: the turtles killed people. Lots of people. Ninja henchmen, mostly, but still people (I guess). When Leonardo slashed with his swords, someone bled. Obviously, this kind of thing didn’t make it into the cartoon, which was unsurprisingly targeted towards children. Also (as we knew from their early colorized appearances) the original turtles all wore red bandannas. The only way to visually distinguish which turtle was which was by the weapons they carried. Among other changes, the cartoon toned the turtles down, outfitted them in different colors, created a catchphrase (“Cowabunga!”) and inexplicably made them go crazy for pizza.

TMNT’s success spawned many imitators and started a “funny animal” comic craze, giving rise to the likes of such mercifully-forgotten titles as Pre-Teen Dirty-Gene Kung-Fu Kangaroos, Geriatric Gangrene Jiu-Jitsu Gerbils, and the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.  None of these were any good. All of them were pretty blatant ripoffs. Nonetheless, the Hamsters seemed to enjoy the most success as a poor-man’s Band-Aid in between the irregular TMNT publishing schedule.

My friends and I got so hooked on TMNT that we played many hours of the Palladium RPG: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (see above). This, in turn led us to Heroes Unlimited and later, briefly, RIFTS, before we abandoned the Palladium system altogether in favor of other games.

Before we did this, though, I managed to get my hands on these TMNT miniatures, released in very limited numbers from Dark Horse (yes, THAT Dark Horse). These figures go for a pretty penny nowadays, especially the other releases in the line (like the Mousers). I remember I bought this pack on Martha’s Vineyard on a day trip. Retail space isn’t cheap on the Vineyard, so who would have thought that Martha’s Vineyard would have had a comic shop, never mind one that sold miniatures, too? (Aside: even though I live on the South Coast of Massachusetts, I haven’t been back to the Vineyard since I bought these, mainly because I hate boats.) They’re supposedly 25mm scale, but they’re more like 15mm. Between my awful paint job, Donatello’s miscast staff, and Leonardo’s broken sword, they’ve seen better days…

And so, when I heard Wizkids got the license for TMNT Heroclix, I was happy. When I saw this set marked half off at the FLGS, I didn’t hesitate. Here’s what they looked like out of the box:

It appears I’m unlucky with turtle miniatures. Brand spankin’ new, both Leonardo and Donatello suffered from bent weapons that can’t be fixed. Bummer. They’re also all a  bit too bright and cartoony for me. I knew I wanted to repaint them as the original badass turtles of my youth.

Here is the result:

To continue my run of bad luck, somewhere in the painting process I appear to have broken one of Raphael’s sai. Drat! I based them on Armorcast sewer bases that I purchased specifically for this project. I don’t know if I will ever use them in a scenario, or what system I would use if I did; but, since Super Mission Force is my current favorite gaming system, here are my SMF builds for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

Aside from the weapons they favor, the turtles aren’t much different. The easy way to build them for SMF is to make them all the same.

All Turtles: (Brawler) Major: Scrapper;  Minor: Armor, Super Agility

Of course, that’s not much fun. The other way I would do it is to make them all Wild Cards. Yes, I know that is against the “two wild cards per team” rule, but who really gives a shit? In this case the turtles would lose the Scrapper power (which is one of the best major powers in the game, IMHO), but would gain powers that would represent their personalities; in other words, make them different from each other in tangible ways. All of them are turtles who can kick ass, but they fill certain roles within the group: Leonardo is the leader, Donatello is the brain, Michelangelo is the clown, and Raphael is the hothead.

Leonardo: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Enhance

Donatello: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Savant

Michelangelo: (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Clever

Raphael:  (Wild Card) Minor: Armor, Melee Specialist, Super Agility, Rage

(I couldn’t really think of a fourth minor power that would “define” Michelangelo, so I chose the “Clever” Boost purely for the team initiative bonus, since the turtles are rarely caught flat-footed). Mike has a tendency to ride around on a skateboard, so I guess you could substitute the “Fast” Boost instead, which would increase his movement by 4″.)

This little rush of nostalgia was so much fun I reread the first three issues of TMNT last night. And….well…let’s just say some things are better left in the past.

“Yesterday’s Lead”

It seems I took the month of January off from blogging, quite accidentally. For Christmas I was gifted with Mass Effect: Andromeda for PS4. It was released back in March of last year, but I’m not the kind of (video) gamer that needs to get a game as soon as it’s released. Thus I tend to spend less money on video games overall, as I can wait until the price drops. I am a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, and although this latest game was (unfairly, IMO) derided,  at least in comparison to the previous trilogy, it has accounted for my free time throughout January.

Anyway, it’s nice to be back.

I rarely pick up Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine these days. Although it’s a fine publication, it’s not for me, as it is primarily geared towards the historical wargamer, and even casual visitors to this site will know I don’t fall into that category. The other day I found myself at my newsagent (see what I did there? I used a British term) by complete happenstance ( I was purchasing coffee and donuts for a work meeting at the Dunkin’ Donuts next door), and, since the latest issue of Miniature Wargames magazine hadn’t arrived yet, I gave in to whimsy and purchased WS&S #92. As expected, it had little to interest me as far as gaming goes. I am unfamiliar with most of the historical periods and battles covered throughout the issue. But what issue #92 did have was a worthy article by the great Rick Priestly, entitled “Time, Tide and Yesterday’s Lead.”

You might think Mr. Priestly waxes nostalgic for the early days of Citadel and Warhammer miniatures, but he quickly sets the record straight. Despite his involvement in Warhammer’s development, his particular enthusiasm is the Minifigs line of the 70’s, as those are what led him down the garden path to wargaming.

I must confess that since I live in the United States and I was born a good decade or so after Mr. Priestly, I am unfamiliar with Minifigs. Like so many others, I started gaming through Dungeons & Dragons, circa 1983 or so. I’m pretty sure I got the red box for my 10th birthday and it took me a year or two to start running “The Keep on the Borderlands.” I never played a miniature wargame until I was in college in the early 90’s. Predictably, my first introduction came through Warhammer 40K, then quickly moved to WFB. But I had already been collecting and painting miniatures before then. Despite all my failed attempts to introduce them into my roleplaying games, I found them really cool (an obviously still do). I certainly share nostalgic feelings for the miniatures that got me started down my own path, some 35 years ago. And those miniatures, primarily, are Grenadier and Ral Partha fantasy figures.

The first set of miniatures I ever bought was the often-reissued Grenadier Tomb of Spells set. It’s the second one down in the left column. Starting from the top left and continuing clockwise, we have Specialists, Hobgoblins, a Dragon Lords set that once included paints, Thieves, Denizens of the Swamp, Orc’s Lair, and Wizards. The Wizards set was the second set of miniatures I ever bought, and I repainted the set a couple of years ago. You can see the results here, if so inclined.

With the arrival of AD&D 2nd Edition, TSR started packaging miniatures under their own name. The above sets are examples of this era. I bought the Marvel Super Heroes and Dragonlance sets when they came out, and a friend gave me the Magic-Users set long ago. The remaining sets were all recent eBay acquisitions.

I probably paid too much for the Indiana Jones set (it’s rare). I paid less than I thought I would for the Star Frontiers and other AD&D sets, but again, probably more than I should have considering the quality. I’ve said this elsewhere: this era of miniature manufacture leaves a lot to be desired. The sculpting is pretty sub-par across the board. Scale is pretty much an afterthought, even between models within the same set (Star Frontiers is by far the WORST for this). I have been painting some of the Marvel miniatures for use in my supers gaming alongside Heroclix models, which should give you a idea of how random the scale is. Some are compatible with Clix models while some are on the small side of 25mm. To top it off, I have no idea what metal was used to cast this line of miniatures, but for some reason, they do not take paint well. Prior to sealing them, even casual handling can cause the paint to rub off, which is kind of a pain during the painting process.

The last of my old sets are above. The Grenadier Secret Agents set is really good, containing lots of mercs and soldiers for use with Top Secret or any other skirmish wargame. Grenadier released two sets of these. I know I had both at one time, but I can’t remember what happened to the other set. (As an aside, the box art above was painted by famous Grimjack artist Flint Henry!) Below them is an exceptional set of ninja by Ral Partha. I recently bought a second set, because as everyone knows, you can never have enough ninja. The bottom row contains dragon models; a Ral Partha T’Char (one of the best dragons produced, IMO) and a couple of Julie Guthrie Grenadier Dragons. I painted up her Red Dragon a while back. You can see it here.

Nostalgia, as Mr. Priestly aptly observes, exerts a powerful force that drives one from affection for times gone by to collector’s obsession. All of the above boxed sets were purchased either on eBay or at a flea market over the last couple of years. With the exception of the Skeleton King’s chariot (top right), all these sets are complete and pristine. (I even managed to replace the 54mm Batman set with one that included a Joker this time.) The DC Heroes sets were a real find at $10 apiece, all bare metal! I painted up the 54mm Batman a few years ago, and recently painted the Grenadier Halfling set above. Batman is here; the Halflings are here.

Which brings me to painting, or rather, repainting. In his article, Mr. Priestly mentions that most Minifigs of the time were likely “favored with a hefty coat of Humbrol Enamel…and then gloss varnished to within an inch of their little metal lives.” Again, I can relate. Here in the States, Testors enamels were the model paints of choice, and I laquered many a miniature in them before “discovering” acrylics right around the time I started playing 40K. Prior to that, every miniature I painted, including many from the sets above, were done with Testors enamels and gloss coat. I shudder to look at them now, but if you’d like to see some before and after shots, look no further than here.

The question then becomes “To strip and repaint, or not to strip and repaint? I am a big advocate of repainting. I’m not the best painter in the world (not even close), but I am exponentially better than I was 35 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the old miniatures I have repainted recently, and I think they are the better for it. But, if even if I were to strip and repaint 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.

What do you think? Do you get dewey-eyed for a certain manufacturer or era of miniatures? Do you advocate repainting, or are you content with (and perhaps comforted by) viewing your early efforts for what they are?