Wednesday, June 24, 2020

More Lankhmar Goodness!

One of my rpg gaming groups is starting a DCC Lankhmar campaign on Sunday.  To say I am excited about this is a huge understatement.  The Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books are my favorite Swords & Sorcery stories, so being able to play a rpg campaign in the world I love so much with the characters that inspire me is a true gift and pleasure.  So of COURSE I had to make figures for the PCs!  The GM is turning pictures of them into tokens for Roll20 to use on the maps on that virtual tabletop platform, so it's the next best thing to actually using the figures on the real tabletop.

Here are two of the PCs, the one on the left is my character, a Warrior from the jungles of Klesh, and the character on the right is a Thief from one of the Eight Cities.

Not too much new construction wise from what I've been doing of late, especially with the figure on the left.  Standard upside down milk bottle for the body, bead for the head, tile spacer arms and feet, etc.  He has some cool equipment though.  He uses a blowgun (the bamboo rod hanging off his left shoulder), a small hand drum tucked into the front of his belt (he needs this to cast the one spell he can cast), and a huge two-handed scimitar on his back which you will see better in other pictures.  The bamboo rod is a toothpick, the drum is a toothpick handle with a tile spacer cut into a circle for the head of the drum, and the scimitar is made from tile spacers.  He has a loin cloth (can't see it well in this picture but you will in others) that is paper, and he has a togo/baggy tunic that is paper.  I put a lot of folds and creases in it to give it more visual interest.

The figure on the right is another one of my new action/crouching posed figures.  I'm starting to hit my stride with these figures.  This one is the best one I've done to date.  So as before with the Mouser, in this case it is the rear leg that is the small plug that serves as the bent leg and the extended left leg (on the figure) is a tile spacer.  What I did this time though was add a tile spacer on the bottom side of the extended leg to make it look like pants draping down and then gathering again at the top of the boot where they get tucked into the boot.  It came out really well, it's a shame it isn't very visible in these pictures.  Only other new construction thing with this figure is I did my first "sabre" sword.  Just a toothpick for the handle and blade but I cut a tile spacer in the shape of the hand guard and glued it on after the toothpick had been added.  Came out well I think.

I did a cool scabbard for the sabre as well, you can see it sticking out the back.  Just a tile spacer.  The buddy whose PC this is gave me a picture of a Reaper figure he liked and I used it for inspiration.  I really enjoy making figures like that, using a picture or other figure for inspiration.

The cloak came out awesome!  Much better view of my PC's big two-handed scimitar that he is about to draw.

Can see the loincloth here in my figure a little better, as well as the hand guard of the scimitar in the other figure.

I really enjoyed these.  The builds were fairly quick and the painting was even quicker, especially the crouching Thief figure given it was just for the most part two shades of gray for everything.

I've got a few more on my painting table now, mostly NPC thieves and bravos, and a Mingol Wizard on my building table.  At the request of the player I am using actual pictures of Mongol Shaman for inspiration.  I'm halfway through the build and he is looking pretty cool. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser!

Finished painting the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser miniatures I just constructed.  Of course this has spurred yet another idea for a game based on the story "Ill Met in Lankhmar."  Hey, why not?  Do a Conan game, and a Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser game.  Makes sense, right?

Here are the twain in all their glory!

Fafhrd, the barbarian on the left, hails from the Cold Waste, a rough and rugged land of ice and snow.  Trained as a skald, he has an excellent singing voice but is also a fierce fighter, especially when wielding his sword "Graywand."  He has ventured to the city of Lankhmar in search of civilization, adventure, and riches.

The Gray Mouser, the smaller man on the right, has unknown origins, but likely comes from lands to the south of Lankhmar (for some reason I always think Italy in both culture and people).  Originally a sorcerer's apprentice, the small man has taken up thievery and is an outstanding swordsman, his flashing blade "Scalpel" felling many foes.

These figures were fun to build (I already talked about that) but I have to admit, they were even more fun to paint.  One of the things I really like about doing my own figures is that I don't to paint a bunch of stuff on the figure that I honestly don't care about.  Reaper figures are awesome sculpts, but most of the details on them I have no desire to paint.  If I am not interested in painting it, it doesn't end up on my figures.

Now for Fafhrd up close.

You can really see his leg position here much better than standing on the base on the table top.  I let the paper tell me where the folds in his pants are and I think his legs really turned out well.  The figure is far more dynamic in its pose than most of the figures I have been doing for the last several years.  The inspiration for the color palette and the equipment is from my imagination, but also heavily influenced by the graphic novel that covers many of the original stories.

Table view from the rear.

Laying on his back on the table.  You can see the dagger scabbard a bit better on the left and on the right on his belt is his pouch.  I cut the dagger scabbard so the bottom has an interesting "lightning bolt" shape, just to add some visual interest.  The barrel bead seems to work well for the barrel chest of the barbarian figures, at least it is working IMO for this Fafhrd figure.

And now onto his smaller companion ...

Interestingly, the Fafhrd figure looks a little better in pictures than in real life, but the Mouser figure looks even better in real life.  The colors really came together with this figure and the rapier sword, although oversized, came out well I think.

Now, of course, I need to do some thieves and Hristomilo the wizard for them to fight ... off to the crafting table!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Mounted Serpent Guard

I was able to get these guys painted pretty quickly.  Having done the other cavalry unit before, I learned from my mistakes and had less "repainting" over mistakes this time, even though these guys are much more complicated than the other ones.

Here the are arrayed.

Now for some closer up shots.

And now from the rear.

Turned out pretty good, I'm happy with them.  This completes are the regular troops for the first Conan game.  What is left are the four heroes (Conan, Valeria, Subotai, and Akiro) and the main three bad guys.  For the two henchmen I'm going to do a mounted and foot figure.  For Thulsa Doom I am going to do four mounted figures of him in different positions.  I'll describe what my thinking is about that when I actually get around to doing them.

Now, off to paint Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser ... as well as about 40 metal figures.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Serpent Guard on Foot

Sorry it has taken me so long to post, but I've taken this time at home for the past several months to really work hard on several minis projects that have not been getting any love from me.  Unfortunately, that meant that my wooden project, the Conan game, was put a bit on the back burner.

But, I did today finally get the Serpent Guard on foot miniatures painted ... and am I happy with them!  They turned out better than I hoped they would.  Just as a reminder, here is an image from the Arnold movie that shows the troops I am trying to represent with my little wooden fellows.

So there is Conan with his back to the camera, disguised as a priest, speaking with one of the Serpent Guard troops, actually he is showing him the snake battle standard.  The troops are such a cool combination of several real life Dark Age/Early Medieval period soldiers from in particular the Middle and Far East, giving them a distinctive fantasy, but believable, appearance ... not so much with more contemporary attempts where the armor has shoulder pads larger than those of a defensive lineman in the NFL!  The armor is thick leather but there are leather scales on the skirt and upper arm coverings, with a definite Saracen looking helmet on the top with samurai neck covering.  However, they also wear metal face masks, similar to several elite troops from a number of different armies of this period or earlier in our world.  Just a very cool looking troop type I think.

Here is my interpretation of this soldier for my Conan game.  I left off the snake imagery just so I could use them in other games, but except for that I tried to remain as true as I could to the image above.

The builds on these guys were pretty complicated in terms of the paper.  The belt with the groin cover built in, the samurai-like skirt, the head wrap around the top of the helmet, the shoulder armor all made for a tough build.  The painting, though, was pretty straight forward.  I didn't paint eyes to give them more of a haunting appearance.

Now a view down the line from each side.

I went with burnt umber, a dark and somewhat faded brown, for the armor.  In the movie it looks almost gray in some scenes but in looking at the actual props online when they sold them off at auction it is definitely made out of thick dark brown leather that looks a little gray in the sunlight because the leather is shiny.

Now a shot from the rear.

And a couple of up close shots that are a little fuzzy, but still you can see a little better the details in these pics.

They are now ready to be killed off by the heroes!

Not sure what I will do next, either these guys on horses or the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser or Conan figures.  But I hope over the next couple of weeks to post pics of something else wooden that has been constructed already painted up.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

My Favorites

I have been in a constructing rather than painting mood of late.  So to take advantage of that I thought I would focus more on trying to get more dynamic leg positions.  My last effort was satisfactory, but I thought I could do better.  I think I have.

To enhance my motivation, I decided to try and make my three favorite characters from fantasy fiction.  One of them, Conan, I can do as part of the game I am working on.  So that would be making the Conan who fought at the Battle on the Ruins at the end of the 1982 movie.  He's cool looking, awesome helmet and lamellar armor, funky pants, how can you go wrong ... plus I need him for the game.  As much as I love Conan, though, my favorite fantasy character of all time is the Gray Mouser, with his companion Fafhrd.  Leiber's stories of the adventuring duo shaped me more than any other in terms of the types of rpg worlds and adventures I like to play in and run.  Obviously, my online name comes from this character as well.  So I thought choosing characters I love to try and make some figures in more dynamic poses would only enhance my motivation.

Let's start with my favorite character, the Gray Mouser.

This is a good view of his head, arms, rapier, and torso, not so much the legs which is what I really want you to see.  Onto the next photo ...

Ah, that's better.  His torso is a medium-small flat plug with a split bead glued on top to make the shoulders.  The left leg (the forward one) is a smaller flat plug glued to the edge of the torso plug bottom to create a lunging forward knee bent look.  The right/rear leg is made out of a tile spacer, just like the arms.  Both feet are tile spacers and they are glued flat onto the base for support.  The tile spacer leg is then glued onto the right foot, which isn't very stable ... again, tile spacer to tile spacer joints are always the weakest part of these figures.  However, since the left leg is a plug glued to the torso plug, this is very strong in terms of keeping the figure glued firmly to the base.  So I think this will work.  I used parts of a tile spacer to give him a "groin" (baggy pants look) and some paper to do the same thing around his forward leg (baggy pants/bent leg at the knee).  Not bad, I'm pretty pleased with him.  Here is another shot just to finish out the figure.  The cloak came out really good I think.

Classic Gray Mouser pose, lunging with his rapier "Scalpel" and getting ready to throw his dagger "Cat's Claw" at an enemy.  The rapier is obviously a toothpick ... I wanted a more slender sword.

Now onto Fafhrd.  The barbarian needs to be larger than the smaller Mouser and I wanted a barrel-chested look.  So I went with a barrel bead for the chest and torso, and a split oblong bead for the pelvis/groin area of the figure.  Here are some pics.

In the second picture you can really see the legs.  His left/forward leg is also a small flat plug and he is leaning (rather than lunging) forward a bit on it.  I also used paper to make the baggy pants look for him as well.  As with the Mouser, Fafhrd's feet are flat on the ground glued to the base.  The trickiest part with him was the right/rear leg.  I wanted to try and use a plug with him so I used the plug for the upper part of the leg, but the lower part is split tile spacer.  There are two pieces as you can see, and although it is invisible in these photos that "gap" you see between the two tile spacers is actually filled in with glue, so it will be solid when it is painted.

Here are the twain together.  You can get a better sense for their size difference in this photo.

And now Conan.  This figure was very detailed.  Because he is supposed to be putting together a mish-mash of armor and weapons from the dead left long ago on this battlefield, he has a very eclectic appearance, but this makes for a complex figure to make.  But I like him too.  I didn't want his pose to be as "lungy" as Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and perhaps his legs may have turned out the best of them all.  Here is a photo from the movie that captures the look I am going for:

And here is the actual figures.

Can't see well in this photo but he has the same torso and pelvis construction as Fafhrd, he just has small flat plugs for both legs.  The paper strips are the leather strips he has on these funky pants in the movie.

You can see the legs a lot better in this one.  His upper torso is a barrel bead on its side (open ends are where his arms are).  The pelvis you can see very clearly here is a split oblong bead.  The legs are both small flat plugs with tile spacer feet.  You can see I have a 45 degree piece of tile spacer added to his right foot so that he can be leaning forward a bit.  Essentially, the front plug for his left leg is vertical and if this was a real person most of his body weight would be on that leg.  The right leg is stretched out slightly behind him.  Not the lung of the Gray Mouser or Fafhrd but enough leaning to give the figure a more dynamic pose.

Here he is glued to his base.  The helmet came out great I think and wasn't that tough.  His head is a small split bead glued onto a larger split bead to make up the bowl of the helmet.  Paper is glued around this and will be painted like fur.  A small bead was glued on the top and the "horns" are obviously just cut tile spacers.  Since the split beads still have half a hole on each side from being split, this provides a nice hole to glue the horns into.  I just cut that end of the horns down into sort of a "tab" that just fit into the hole in the head/helmet piece on each side.  Easy and also very sturdy once the glue dries.

This is a picture of the "barbarian's" torso and pelvis.  It's hard to see with all the paper I'm using now but I have come to really like paper for these figures.  I literally can if I keep at it and keep trying, make pretty much any shirt, belt, pants, etc. that I need.  But when I glue it all over the figure it becomes hard to see the wooden "skeleton" pieces.
Hopefully they will paint up well!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Conan Princess Captive

I have been working on some of the terrain pieces for the Conan game.  There are a bunch of these natural stones that stand vertical all around the battlefield.  On one of them is the bound princess whom Thulsa Doom is trying to kill, and Conan and his colleagues are trying to return to her father.

Here is a promo photo from the movie.  This image does not exactly appear in the movie, there is a scene where Subotai actually kills this guard with an arrow that does show up in the movie, but this exact image here does not.  However, I really like it and it gives a good visual of the stone, the chains, the princess, etc.

So this is what I used to inspire my terrain piece for my game.

I used a large split egg so that the side she is on is flat, but the back side is rounded.  It is tapered at the bottom, because it's an egg, so I had to surround the bottom with paper and glue it on to make it more straight up and down.  I made the princess separate (standard construction, nothing new), and painted her up, painted up the piece, and then glued her on.  After she dried I painted on the chains.  The anchor points are split beads that I glued onto the split egg.  But the chains themselves from her wrists to the anchor points are painted on instead of being 3D.  It just wasn't worth it to me to try and do chains that small, and in my experience with other attempts, things like chains are really hard to do.  So I just painted them on.

Here is the finished piece.

I like how she turned out.  I used paint colors for the stone that are consistent with the drop cloth I will be using for the base of the board, so it's not exactly like the movie image.  The thing she is standing on is s premade wooden piece that I think is some sort of spindle or axle thing, but I have used them before for things like water containers, braziers, etc.  A gaming buddy of mine cut it in half for me so that I could make it rounded in the front but flat on the back so that it glued to the split egg well.

Here are some other images.

And finally here is a shot so that you can see it from the side.

I am pretty happy with it, it will look good as a goal piece on the board for the game.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Crouching Figure, Hidden Potential

In addition to doing the construction on my next batch of figures for my Conan game for Barrage in September, I have been working on trying to get more dynamic leg positions for the figures, as Dale and I were discussing a little while back on replies to posts on this blog.

I tried several options, here is the one so far that worked the best.  He is a crouching fighter-type figure, sort of advancing with knees heavily bent.  Here are some pics of him unpainted.

I had to figure out a way to make a torso that wasn't too big.  The issue with the other milk bottle figures is that the torso from the shoulders down and the legs all the way to the ankle are one piece.  So I needed to be able to do a waist to shoulder torso piece and leave the legs off as they would have to be added later in their more dynamic pose.  I used an axle cap glued onto a flat plug to make the torso.  The head, arms, shoulder armor are all the same as on my other figures.

You can sort of see the right leg here.  He is lunging forward with a bent knee and foot underneath his torso. The leg and feet are all tile spacers.  I essentially decided to try and do the same thing I do with the arms with the legs.  The issue is that the elbow bend is much easier to do with tile spacers than a knee because the foot will never bee at the right angle and the end of the time spacer is always small/thin.  This works great for hands, but not feet.  But if the feet are a separate piece that you glue onto the bottom of the leg, I found through mistakes, the leg structure for the figure is way too weak and will not hold up under play conditions.  So you need to have the leg and the foot be one piece of tile spacer.  In this case it is essentially his right hip that goes straight down into his foot as one piece, then I glued on a knee/thigh piece afterwards that is separate.  Because there is no pressure on the knee, however, the figure is not too weak.

Here is a view of the left leg and foot.  Again, it is one tile spacer piece that I cut into a boot shape then the rest that is more forward is the knee and thigh of the left leg.  It is also heavily bent at the knee but for the left leg, unlike for the right, the "missing" piece is not the thigh, it's the hip.  That is easily handled with paint.

You can sort of see here that the left leg/foot is glued onto the bottom of the torso just like the right leg/foot is, it's just at a different angle.

I also took the hot glue gun and filled in any spaces and tried to create a groin area, thighs for both legs that were a bit "meatier," and overall just fill in the leg/lower body of the figure to at least represent legs and such.

And now for the painted version.

Hard to see in this picture from this angle but just above the sword is his right knee/thigh.  The left one is extended behind him in the lunge and you can't really see it well.  You can see a little bit where I filled in and made more of a groin area by using the hot glue gun over the flat plug which is the bottom of his torso.

This is a good view of the left leg and foot.  Believe it or not, the pink part which is the knee and the lower calf and the foot itself is all one tile spacer, I just cut it to be this shape to create this one piece foot/calf/knee structure.  Just like an arm, it is just glued to the side of the flat plug that is the lower torso of the figure.

Can't really see much in this picture except for his coin purse on the back of his belt.

You can sort of see the right foot which is flat on the ground.  The upper pink part is the extra tile spacer I glued on to represent his right thigh/knee, and also it is filled in with the hot glue gun to make the appearance smoother and loot more like baggy pants.

It is hard to see in the pics but for a first attempt, I think it came out pretty well.  You just have to get creative with figuring out how to shape the tile spacers to create the leg/foot all in one piece to make sure that the figure is strong enough.  My first attempt had feet glued onto legs and it was just too weak to support the figure through any play at all.  The figure would break off at the ankle and come apart.  Tile spacer to tile spacer joints are ALWAYS the weakest joints in these figures, even if you use hot glue.  So you just can't have these joints be the place where the figure connects with the base and think that it will hold through play.  It just won't.  So the trick is to figure out how to shape the tile spacer to get the foot and lower leg positioning you want and glue that DIRECTLY onto the lower torso of the figure.  Sometimes that will be underneath the torso piece, but usually it is glued onto the side of the torso piece just like the arms are glued onto the upper torso.  Then you can add it more cosmetic pieces and use the hot glue gun to fill out the rest of the leg area to make it look right.

Matt, please forgive me, but I had to add this picture. I just could not see you work so I downloaded one of the pictures and boosted the values.




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