Friday, January 31, 2014

The Mike Lung Gallery #23 - The Ambearican Revolution

Not to be outdone by my prodigious output, my good friend Mike Lung has upped his talents and offered up the first glimpses of his Ambearican Revolution.

His new terrain board is a paint and flocked set of foam floor tiles.  Easy to store and interchangable.  He's been furiously painting up a number of unit's from Eureaka's Teddy Bear line.

And with a lack of Hessian bears, I *guess* that gnomes will do....

Nicely done, Mike!

Hopefully we can see some battle reports real soon!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fezzes Are Cool, Unless the Dudes Wearing Them Are Trying to Kill You

Bob Murch, owner of Pulp Figures and sculptor for the RAFM Call of Cthulhu 7th Edtion Miniatures Kickstarter tweeted ( @PulpFigures ) some of his sculpts for the Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter.

Introducing Turks #1, #2, and #3
These will be part of the miniatures set that was offered with the Kickstarter.  I hope they can see the light of day through another avenue.

One realization that does worry me is that the the Kickstarter for Horror was funded in September 2012 and the complimentary pdf draft for supporters' perusal/proofreading wasn't sent out until Christmas 2013.  As of right now, I'm happy I stayed away.  Hopefully Chaosium proves me horribly wrong.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

(Kickstarter) Tales of the Crescent City

On the Kickstarter front, I finally put a placeholder pledge on the RAFM Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Miniatures Kickstarter.  With our annual cruise to the Bahamas less than two weeks away, I want to make sure everything is copacetic (and the tax return submitted on Friday), before dropping fat stacks of cash on hobby items quite yet.  I also have to consider my pledge will eat into my annual 5% of the tax return going to fund Cold Wars. 

Another thing to eat into my con spending cash is Tales of the Crescent City by Golden Goblin Press. 

New Orleans is ripe with inspiration for any type of horror role-playing, and the Mythos are no exception.   A pledge of $35 nets you the book and the pdf, which in this day and age is a fair price.  I did miss out on the $50 pledge, which the first two hundred got the book, pdf, and a copy of Secrets of New Orleans.

With this one, I have a bit more time to ride it out and see what sweet add-ons, if any, appear.  The campaign ends on March 4th, so once my Cold Wars shopping list (and massive painting endeavour) is complete, I can make my pledge.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Is that a forbidden......SQUIRREL!!!!!

Recent data suggests that young people are leaving Facebook in droves, as older folks continue join.  

So long as pictures like this surface, I don't care.

There is something gaming related to this, I swear. My friend Nate, who plays Dr Nathaniel Millheim in my Call of Cthulhu game, also played Cthulhu many moons ago in high school.  

His most memorable character?  A mentally retarded man who picked up road kill.  He took a particular liking to to a particular squirrel carcass, and as high school games are wont to do, somehow the damn thing got bronzed and he began using it as a weapon. 

I blame Hoyce.  He went to high school with him AND he was the Keeper.  

That saddest thing is I've met people who have made even sadder character concepts.  

So beware of squirrels. 

And those dudes who pick up road kill off the side of the road. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

RAFM CoC Miniatures Kickstarter Goes Above and Beyond

I mentioned RAFM's Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter right before it went live.  A day and a half later, the program looks to triple their initial goal, and the add-ons keep coming in. 

It looks like I'll pledge at the $50 (Canadian) level, which will get me the ten Masks minis:

 There is another $10 (CDN) charge for shipping to us down in The States, but it also opens up the add-ons, one of which is your friendly neighborhood Shoggoth for $10 (still CDN):

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

(Samoa) Crunch Time Begins... Now!

I put in a good deal of overtime at work yesterday, partly to get my drive home to fall within the time the snow finally gets cleared off the roads but before  point when the rock salt becomes ineffective and the roads refreeze. 

Gotta be honest, I spent the waning moments on Amazon, figuring out what to buy with the gift cards the staff gave me for Christmas.  My cruise is going to be stocked with tasty reading vittles:

  • The House of R'lyeh for Call of Cthulhu
  • Imperial German Colonial and Overseas Troops 1885-1918 from Osprey
  • George F Kennan:  An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis.
I was a Kennan freak back in college and read everything I could get my hands on.  Just because it won the Pultizer back in 2012 doesn't mean Gaddis will interpret everything correctly, as many have failed to do.  I can't be too harsh, it is my lounging book for the balcony.  Hopefully the girls (wife included) won't lock me out on it.

If that wasn't enough I had a package on my dining room table when I got home:

Don't know why Blogger is loading this one upside-down, but it's still awesome.
Now only the hardcore Pulp Figures fan would ask, "Viscounteric?  Why did you only get ten packs when the ordering policy gives the 11th for free?"

Well, my child, that one may be a surprise for Cold Wars.  Let's not ruin yet, ok?

That order completes all the figures I need for Cold Wars.  A little cleaning and mounting later, here's my workload for the next six weeks:

I'll probably order "Samoa" after the con *rimshot*
The pictures don't inlclude the eight Matala'afan Elite Guard that are hiding on the table, but with them my workload is 108 figures.  Luckily, the first 22 figures (Samoan Spearmen and US Marines) painted up right quick, and if you notice, this is a LOT of repetitive painting, with  only a small variation to differentiate Rebel  and Loyalist Samoans. 

Since they were all primed up this morning, tonight I shall feast on Samoan flesh, as I paint skin tone on all the figures!    I hope that single pot of paint from Foundry holds up.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RAFM Kickstarter for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Minis...

I normally hate the sponsored links that overwhelm my news feed on Facebook, but this showed up last night, from of all places, RAFM:

This is concept art for one of the CoC 7th Edition mnis RAFM is putting together for it's Kickstarter staring Wednesday, January 22nd.

Their fundraiser through indiegogo was a success, so they've moved on to cover investigators and creatures from such classics as Masks of Nyarlathotep, Fungi from Yuggoth, and House of R'lyeh.

If Brady can be made in the same style as this figure, I'll be satisfied with the project.

A large number of sculpts (like the one above)  will be done by Bob Murch, who has not only done a number of previous Cthulhu figs, but makes most of my figures for the Second Samoan Civil War at .  Yes, they're under Melanesian Island Warriors or Provisional Fighters, but I know they were meant for Samoa and the Greater Polyneisan Community.

I was slightly foolish to miss out on the first minis fundraiser.  I'll check out the pledges first, but I think I'ld be a bigger fool to not invest in this at least a smidge, especially since my tax return should come back right after it ends on February 11th.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Samoan Spearman

So, another unit is finished off, this time ten Samoan Ceremonial Spearman, using Melanesian Island Warriors from Pulp Figures.

The oversized weapons are a bit unwieldy to secure to the figure, but I believe they'll last the game.  

During the Second Samoan Civil there are plenty of pictures of Samoans in ceremonial garb, but pictures of them using spears in action, or even marching with them, if they exist, escaped my research.   These fellows will be used for recon during the game

Yes, Samoans don't grow beards, and at 30mm compared  to the 25mm US and British figures, they're about 70 years early for the size we now associate with them, but the figures will definitely be in a variety of scenaros.    And with the small force of western forces staring down a large angry army of Samoans with spears and rifles, the Samoans will at least feel ten feet tall.
Pulp Figures 30mm vs Old Glory 25mm
With some staffing changes at work, I finally got a shelf for my cubi-office so the figures have a safe place to be displayed without little hands getting onto them.  Hopefully it gets crowded ASAP.

Next Up:  Samoan Rifles,  Matala'afa's Elite Guard and LOTS o' banana trees.

Sometimes, the Ayes Don't Have It

I'm plugging along with the painting, although I took a night off to watch some Doctor Who reruns and remove all the malware my wife put on the computer. We're investigating his and her models with our refund check, and after tonight, that sounds like a brilliant idea.

While I'm knocking these minis out, I continually remember just how a difference 25mm is from 30mm and especially 30mm+ "gnome" minis.  Everything I've learned about painting recently has come from Jim "The Gnome Guy" Stanton and his Three Foot Technique. Essentially, the each figure doesn't need to be award winning quality, so long as the display on the table looks great collectively from, you guessed it, three feet away.

I've been able to take full advantage of the techniques for my gnomes, but tackling smaller figs, especially 25mm Old Glory figs was a bit painful. Now Bob Murch's Pulp Figures are beautfiul, clean 30mm figures, but the dman eyes elude me.  Perhaps it's as simple as not having small enough brushes, or cutting down on the caffeine jitters, but the eyes have been even more erratic than with my gnomes.

It's matter of practice and a run to get newer brushes, but I still have a LOT of figures to paint up (4 units minimum, and two of those are already blocked out).  With the Samoan spearmen that I need to set up for a photoshoot, I've done as two fewer figures in the past week than all the individual minis I've done over the past two years!   I'm still knocking the rust off, but Cold Wars is coming faster than I want to imagine.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kenneth Hite on the Miskatonic University Podcast

I had essentially given up on podcasts. I had neither the time nor the place to invest sixty minutes or more on a quality production. However, with painting in full swing, I needed better background noise for late night painting than my Thrash Metal "High School Relaxation Music" station on Pandora.  

I went back to the Miskatonic University Podcast and was please to discover their latest episode (#47!) has Kenneth Hite as guest host. I'm about an hour into the podcast and it's simply awesome. It also helps that Hite has the same "meh" attitude towards Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, except he can wax poetically on it far better than I can.

Show notes and link for downloading the episode here.

Coming Soon:  The Samoan Spearmen are almost done, as are Matala'afa's Elite Guard, and two units of Samoan Rifles. Here's hoping for a relaxing rest of the week.  Shooting for a playtest before we leave for our cruise in February.

Preferred portions of my Pandora Playlist available for posting upon demand.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Coffee Mug of Distributor Nostalgia

As I'm furiously painting away while I have the chance, I can't help but look at my painting mug and wane nostalgic.

There was once a time, little children, where there weren't anything overbearing industry dominating distributors in gaming.  Well before this intraweb thingy was all the range, distributors held sway over their little regions.  Distribution exclusives weren't a promotional item, it was the simple fact that a small press publisher got his foot in the door with one distributor, but had yet to do so with the others. 

Wargames West was the first distributor I was aware of, simply because of their advertisements in Dragon Magazine.  Their "consumer" catalog was free and I spent many a day perusing it, and highlighting everything I wanted if I ever made more than $3 an hour washing dishes.  The best part of the catalog was that most book entries did have a little blurb describing the product. 

The Wargames West catalog.  Thanks to for the nostaligia here.

As I started working in retail, The Armory reared it's head.   I had known the name from their line of paints and brushes, but as a distributor they were a pretty swanky joint:  Everything was computerized with dot-matrix-printed invoices!  They were also the one universal distributor in the PA/NJ region.  Every game store, comic book shop, and kiosk selling Magic cards in the mall could get an account with them.   For the love of God, the infamous Wizard's Cove in Bangor had an Armory account, and they gave hole in the wall stores a bad name.  This wasn't a regional preference...

Chessex was actually located in Phoenixville, PA, a bit closer than Armory's Baltimore location, but they seemed pickier.   Their invoices were still written in pen, but their catalog was a pick slicker, and driven towards a store manager, rather than its customers.  The one thing I remember most from Chessex was that once you got "in" to their club, you got a slighlty (1-2%) better discount, and terms (usually seven days same as cash) were far easier to achieve.  Nowadays, Chessex is only remembered for their dice, lots of dice.

In the mid 90's with Magic ruining the industry model, and the comic book industry already in a merger tailspin with Diamond, Capital, and a failed self-distributing Marvel coming back into the fold, Chessex and the Armory merged.  More specifically, Diamond, having reigned victorious in the comics mergers, purchased Armory and then acquired Chessex, moving all operations to the Baltimore area as Alliance.   Sure, there were other distributors, but if you were on the East Coast, and wanted one-stop shopping with a decent discount structure, you were forced to work with the evil empire of Diamond/Alliance. 

It definitely had more to do with Magic forever altering the landscape of gaming, but the Alliance catalogs never had the same effect on me.  Companies gutted their backstock  to pay for the the next big CCG they were developing, or some other gimmick game.  For others, Alliance would ignore more small press projects (too many anecdotal stories from designer posts on the web to completely refute that).    Sure, Alliance's Game Trade Monthly/Game Trade Magazine makes the old solicitation books from the distributors look a diner check written by a drunk waitress at 3am, but I don't think it has ever been utilized properly by most game stores.

Anyway, my mug.  When I was managing Griffon Games, I had a great rapport with our sales rep and utlimately got invited down to Baltimore to view what I believe were the brand new Alliance digs.  I went down with my trusted Chief-of-Staff/Assistant Manager Brian and it ultimately resulted to a quick tour of the offices, a paid for lunch at Fuddruckers, and a long lesiurely stroll down up and down the isles of the warehouse, cherry picking the items for the shipment we were taking back with us.  The one thing I learned from the trip firsthand was that pre-orders are important.  At least ten different items we had picked out were unavailable, despite having a whole pallet of them in the warehouse.   Sixty copies of a book/model/dice set?  If all are held for pre-orders waiting to go out once the store ordered again, it didn't exist to to the part of the inventory system that mattered to us. 

The one thing that wasn't affected by such an issue was the coffee mug.  It may have been out of date, but the nostalgia for a simpler time won me over to pay the buck or two at its wholesale cost.

Even if it did mention Armory West's location on the other side.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

US Marines in Samoa, 1899

This "polar vortex" that has struck over half the country should have been expected.  I have actually accomplished some painting, so Hell has frozen over, indeed.

Sorry, no fancy set-up and I'm not going outside at this point for natural lighting.

These are US Marines attached to the USS Philadelphia that participated in the Second Samoan Civil War.   The majority of photos of the conflict have the Marines in various states of dress and four different styles of headgear, so I kept it simple.  I went with 25mm Spanish-American War US Infantry from Old Glory, because the standard kepi-wearing uniform was never seen anywhere in photographs, British sun helmets (which were despised) were only worn during guard duty and formal functions, and day to day gear resembled that of some pictures from the Philippines in 1902.

One unit down, five more to go and I'll have enough figures for a full table for my Cold Wars event.

Next on the painting table (after we eat dinner tonight):  Banana tree basing, priming and base coating some Samoan volunteers, and hopefully I can almost finish the fictionally named, but entirely plausible Mataafan Elite Guard.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Daddy? When Can I Play With MY Toys?

Thank God, the holidays are over, unless your Orthodox, then you get the benefit of post-Christmas sales AND have a cool beard.

It was an okay Christmas in ViscountEric's stronghold, as okay as a house with two adults, two children, two dogs, and two cats can be.  There was no giant gift for the girl's this year that had "some assembly required," so my wife gave me the next closest to impossible task:  open up the Cinderella's Castle Playset. and set it up amongst the presents.  Opening up piles of styrofoam and twist ties, I cam upon this beauty.

Let's just say that Daddy found something else for the gnomes to play in.

While the parapets are perfect for 25/30mm gnomekind, it's proportionately better suited for them than the parade of Disney royalty that's included. 

This weekend is my youngest, Amelia's birthday extravaganza, and once that's over the shoebox town is coming out with the birdhouse churches and towers, and we'll figure out a proper game for gnome and princess alike.

The best part for frugal Dad is that my wife snagged this for 60% off, and the girls rabidly play with it to begin with, eschewing all the other full-price toys Santa brought. 

Excuse me, I have to stat out the Beast.