Monthly Archives: December 2018

A Little Something on the Side…

Or perhaps, “Some Side Action”.  Either “double entendre” title would work.

For my last post of 2018, I thought I’d share what I did in December, which is clean up “the side pile”: that group of partially-painted/assembled  miniatures that collects in the corner of my workspace over time; things I plan on getting to, but for whatever reason shunt them aside in favor of other projects. These sad miniatures collect dust and stare at me in silent accusation, wondering why they are neglected. Not having any other project slated for December, I decided to devote my entire month’s efforts to these orphaned miniatures.

A couple of these miniatures were supposed to be painted for my failed AD&D campaign, which ended back in 2012. Some of them have languished in the side pile for longer than that!

First, an old-school fantasy ogre, made by RAFM. I’ve had this guy for decades. RAFM still makes a variation of this miniature, but this particular guy is out-of-production. He was originally supposed to return as a member of the Cudgel Gang, that group of highwaymen that plagued my gaming group throughout the campaign. Length of time in side pile: 8+ years.

Another miniature intended for the AD&D campaign, this is Finari, from Reaper. This is the metal version; she’s since been reissued as a Bones miniature. Length of time in side pile: 10 years or so. Yes, 10 years. Easily.

Next is Kjell Bloodbear, another metal Reaper miniature. I really had no idea how I was going to paint him, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the end result. It was a long time coming, but he’s finally done. Length of time in the side pile: 7 years or so.

This is Duke Gerard, yet another Reaper miniature, this time a Bones version I got from a guy who bought into the Kickstarter. Apparently, he has a weird back banner-thingy that I didn’t get, which is ok, as I like him better without it.  Length of time in side pile: 4+ years.

This is Herryk Aesir, a dwarf that has a back banner-thingy I actually like. He’s another metal Reaper miniature (they make a Bones version, too). He’s been in the side pile the least amount of time; I intended to paint him for Dwarvember two years ago, but didn’t get around to it. Length in side pile: 2+years.

These snipers are from Demonblade Games for their Shockforce post-apocalyptic skirmish game. I didn’t play the game, but I liked the snipers. They’ve been primed and ready for a long time. Length of time in side pile: 7+ years.

Last but not least, some Reaper Toolbots, from their Chronoscope line. I don’t remember why I bought these guys. I think I wanted to use them for some Retro sci-fi gaming I never really pursued. They’ve been primed and based with a gunmetal silver for years. Once I decided to change them to this yellow color, I painted them in no time at all. I just couldn’t get motivated to paint them until I made that switch…strange how our minds work. Length of time in side pile: 6+ years.

That’s closes out the year. I thought I’d have one more side pile miniature done before the ball drops, but it’s not happening. As it is, I cleared out a fair bit of space and put paint on some figures that have been waiting far too long for it, so all’s well that ends well.

Bring on 2019!

What I Got for Christmas

Another holiday season has come and gone, and it’s time to tally up the loot under the tree. I won’t bore anyone with detailed descriptions of my new socks and aftershave…after all, no one who reads this blog is the least bit interested in that. Instead, what gaming goodies did Santa Claus leave at chez Piper?

Well, Santa himself didn’t leave much, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get some cool stuff.

First, Tanks, from Gale Force Nine. Three plastic tanks, some cardboard terrain and everything else you need to play a quick miniatures tank battle game right out of the box. If I like it, I can buy some expansions, much like X-Wing. A pretty darn good value for the $20 I hear Santa paid for it.

Next, Santa brought me Ronin, from Osprey Games, which is something I asked for. Why did I ask for Ronin. when almost all of the samurai miniatures I own are from Clan War, and are unpainted? I don’t know the answer to that. I really don’t. But ask for it I did, and it was under the tree on Christmas morning.

And that’s all the gaming stuff Santa brought me this year. Of course, every year, while shopping for friends and loved ones, I become my own Santa. So…

A close up of the Arid Land mat.

Cigar Box Battle Mats had a pretty cool Christmas sale…buy 3 mats, get 20% off. And I almost went for it, until I saw how much I was spending, and how much the shipping wipes out of the savings. That being said, I love Cigar Box, so I started my self-Santa-ing by buying myself a mat for both Old West and Post-Apocalyptic games. I chose their Arid Land mat.

Looks like it works well for Gaslands

And for whatever Old West skirmish set I decide to use.

I’ve just discovered a podcast called Mission Log, which apparently has been around for years now, in which two guys watch every episode of Star Trek from every Trek series, ever, and dissect the show; providing trivia, commentary and thoughts on morals, meanings and messages contained therein. They’re somewhere in season two or three of Deep Space Nine right now, but they’ve already made it through the Original Series, the Animated Series, and The Next Generation, not to mention all the TOS movies (up to Generations). A few years ago I binge-watched every episode of DS9, which may be my favorite Trek series. (I say may be because it’s kind of a tie with TNG. Both these series came out when I was in high school/college, so they were “my’ Trek era.) Every Trek series is currently available on Netflix (including Discovery, over in Europe), so it makes re-watching them pretty easy, should you be so inclined.

Several months back I became aware of Modiphius’s new Star Trek miniatures from an issue of Miniature Wargames magazine. While shopping on Amazon this year, I stumbled across these sets at somewhat irresistible prices, so a couple of clicks later, the cart was empty. What are irresistible prices, you ask? Well, these sets retail for about $50 each, which makes them quite resistable, as that’s just insane even for foreign-manufactured, licensed character miniatures like these. BUT, on Amazon I found the TNG bridge crew (8 miniatures) for around $25 including shipping, and 10 Romulans for $16! That’s less than 2 bucks per Romulan! Sold!

Of course, then I discovered there was a game to go with these miniatures…

So I bought this bundle, which includes the “new” (about 2 years old now)Star Trek: Adventures roleplaying game, a book of 8 ready-to-play adventures, a combat screen and reference sheets, a map of the alpha and beta quadrants, and this spiffy spaceship pin.

The first thing I did was cast aside the pin with complete disinterest. (I mean, really…if you’re going to include a useless pin in a bundle of gaming stuff, couldn’t you make it a TNG communicator or something cool? ) Then I looked though the core rulebook, and I fell in love.

I’ll probably do a review of the game and the miniatures soon, but for now I have some lingering projects to finish before the new year. Then I have to give some serious thought to what I’m going to do in January…

Happy New Year, everyone!

Kraven the Hunter

Kraven the Hunter is one of my favorite Spider-Man villains. I admire his lion-face vest, his zebra belt, his leopard tights and his cute green booties.

Sergei Kravinoff was considered by many (especially himself) to be the greatest hunter in the world. If it was alive and worthy, he hunted it, from big game animals to great cats to superheroes. Kraven was particularly fixated on Spider-Man, who cleaned his clock on more than one occasion. Kraven even helped start the Sinister Six hoping that with a little help he could say he defeated Spider-Man, but it never really happened for him.

Eventually, Kraven lost his shit and decided it wasn’t enough to just beat Spider-Man, he had to BECOME Spider-Man. Thus kicked off the “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline, which was pretty dark for Spider-Man, wherein Kraven “kills” Spider-Man and assumes his identity, running around New York crippling and killing criminals in an attempt to fully understand what it means to be the ultimate predator, The Spider. Then he eats a gun and blows his own head off. End credits.

The story, which ran through three Spider-Man titles back in 1987, was actually pretty good, and is considered one of the best Spidey stories of all time. Some have criticized its dark tone as being Marvel’s response to the critical acclaim of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, both published by DC the previous year. Maybe there is some truth to that. It’s certainly more adult in nature than what Marvel was publishing at the time, and it was set in the general continuity of the Marvel Universe. I liked it because it was drawn by Mike Zeck (Secret Wars, Punisher), and I love me some Mike Zeck art.

Since Kraven’s demise, which as far as I know is still permanent, his mantle was taken up by his son, Alyosha. I know nothing about Alyosha Kravinoff, so check Wikipedia if you want to know more.

Anyway, I actually wasn’t kidding when I said I like Kraven as a character. He’s definitely a second-stringer in the Spider-verse, a tier down from Green Goblin, Doc Ock and Venom (who I can’t stand).  He’s more on the level of Rhino, Electro and Scorpion, but he has a unique charm all his own.

Kraven doesn’t technically have any super-powers, but through ingestion of rare herbal potion he can do some pretty cool things. He was able to run super-fast for long periods of time. He was also an Olympic-level athlete and a superb fighter, who preferred archaic weapons like knives and spears over guns (which he considered dishonorable). He was the greatest hunter in the world, able to track his quarry using enhanced senses, much like Wolverine. His aging process was slowed dramatically; at the time of his suicide, Kraven was over 70 years of age, but was in the peak physical condition of a man in his 30’s.

Kraven is one of the villains in the old TSR Marvel Super Heroes adventure Lone Wolves, which I will shortly be converting to Super Mission Force. In other words, I had several reasons to do what I did, which is repaint a Kraven Heroclix miniature.

Over the years, Kraven has had several Heroclix sculpts. Above is the original version,  from the Critical Mass set. I removed him from his dial and stuck him on a base. To be clear: this is the original paint job and NOT my work. This is what came out of the blister pack back in 2003.

Here is my repaint. I decided to give him some real knives instead of the weenie dagger he had strapped to his thigh. I got rid of that, then I put some old GW space marine knives in his hands and sculpted some sheaths out of Magic Sculpt. I considered giving him a spear, but I think his two-fisted knives look pretty good.

Here is my Super Mission Force build for Kraven the Hunter:

Kraven (Brawler) Major: Scrapper, Minor: Fast, Super Agility

(I gave him Fast because Kraven can reportedly run as fast as a cheetah for short periods of time, and this increases his Move to a 13, which I think fits. I could swap it out for Enhanced Senses; either one would work.)