Friday, May 11, 2018

Norman Crossbows

Finished these a bit ago, but just now getting around to posting it. Enough for a Saga game!

These are from Black Tree Design. Nice figures, but it does mean there are two of each pose in the unit. I can live with it. Painted with the usual mix of Vallejo and Testors.

I now have a full four points of Normans for Saga, five if I add a priest. I have a few more odds and ends to paint, but what I would really like are some mounted warriors without armor, and some archers. Gotta have some archers in a Norman force.

While Saga places a great emphasis on mounted Normans given the options on the battle board, I'm not convinced it was all horses all the time back in the years after 1066. Horses are expensive, and transporting difficult. And the terrain wasn't always suitable. So I will probably do at least one or two more units of foot troops.

Need to get a game in one of these days!

The full force so far

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

NASA Said There Would Be Days Like This

Maiden flight. And first crash.
Somehow, I've gotten myself on a bit of a rocket kick lately. (Squirrel!) I guess the kicker was when I took my dog for a walk one evening last week down by the field at the end of the road. It was a clear, windless evening, and the farmer had not planted his crops yet. (Corn this year, I think.) In other words, ideal rocket launching conditions!

So I dug through the stash, did some repair work on some, completed one kit that's been lying around for a year, waited for another ideal evening, and off we went.

Well, sort of. Some went off. Some went and came down hard. Some just went boom. Or fizzle. Or whatever.

First up was the little Yankee rocket to check wind conditions. That one went well on an A8-3 rocket, streamer out, nice landing, no damage. Then the troubles started.

Second one, I somehow missed that the launch lug was missing. No go.

Then the parachute troubles began. Of the following five launches, only one actually opened. Damage was a couple broken fins, and one lost one as my helpers were a little eager on retrieval and failed to fully check the rocket before removing it from the LZ. Oops. Not the first time I've had to cut a new fin. Too bad it was that rocket's maiden flight.

Epic fail
Then I tried the shuttle. It felt a little sticky going on the launch rod, which should have told me to abort. But no, I tried anyway, and as the engine went, it just sat there and burned a hole through the shield! It was actually kind of funny when the parachute and wadding popped out, kind of like that old NASA video.

We didn't want to end the evening like that, so I switched engines on one that had been a dud earlier. Then the igniter fizzled. This thing just didn't want to go! I should have listened... when it finally did go, the shock cord snapped! The nose came down nicely on the parachute, but the body fell to earth with all the grace of a falling sack of door knobs. Night over.

Plus the gnats were atrocious! I've never heard them so bad. Yes, heard. Sure you could see the clouds of them, but I don't know that I've ever heard such swarming noise. Weird.

Anyway, I took some notes in a logbook, which I wish I had started years ago. It's back to the repair bench, and hopefully another launch date this summer. Where, I don't know. Once the corn is in, it gets tough!

Those engines burn hot!

Monday, May 7, 2018

It's May! So I finished an Indy car!

I honestly don't remember when I started working on this. Two years ago? Three? Heck, it could even be four. Darn life and other projects kept getting in the way. But since the calendar turned to May, I was determined to finish this.

So here it is: the 1963 Tropicana Special Novi as driven by Bobby Unser in the 1963 Indy 500. Well, not for long. He completed only two laps before crashing in turn 1 to finish in last place. An inauspicious debut for an eventual three-time winner, to be sure. But, dang, that's a good looking car. And it's tough to beat the roar of a Novi!

This is built from the excellent kit by Lance Sellers, with decals from Indycals. Paint is Tamiya, and went on smooth. And the decals are awesome, as usual from Michael. I don't know why it took me so long. It was a fairly straightforward build with no unusual challenges. The two worst parts were really more my fault - I lost the arm guard at some point and had to scratch build a new one, and I struggled a bit with the vac formed windscreen, but, I mean, who doesn't? Any errors are mine alone. :)

Although I am just about out of display room, I really hope to build some more Indy cars. Lord knows I have enough in the stash! Who knows, there may be a couple yellow ones on the bench right now...

All three of my Bobby Unser cars

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Horses, horses, horses! It's pretty much all one of my daughters thinks about. Horse stuffed animals, horse pillows, horse blankets, horse coloring books, horse shirts... you name it. And, of course, Breyer horses.

This past Christmas, my wife gifted her and me with a set of Breyer paint your own horses. Fun! A few weeks ago, we finally sat down for a daddy-daughter craft day and busted out the paints.

Here is one of my efforts. I mostly used the paints that came with the kit, which were surprisingly good and in realistic colors. I did supplement with some Vallejo for the hooves, eyes and such. And I used a Vallejo ink wash to simplify the shading. But overall I think it turned out pretty well.

And the best part is, it was more painting time with my daughter. Always a bonus! I just wish I had taken more photos.

Oh, as a sidenote, she has also talked us into a family trip to Kentucky in July for Breyerfest. Should be horse heaven for a little girl!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Sleeping Beauty

Wake up! Oh, I'm supposed to kiss her? Well, that's kind of weird, since she's only about 7 inches tall.

I think painting her was enough, don't you? Yup, I finally finished another one of these Disney Paint Your Own Statue things. I painted Snow White a couple years ago, then got busy with other things. But now with my mantra of catching up on old projects, here is Sleeping Beauty. Or Brier Rose, if you prefer.

These are quite fun to paint. You can do them as simply or as elaborately as you wish. My daughters have painted up a few to practice their brush skills, but I use an airbrush to try to get as smooth a finish as possible. I actually use Ceramcoat craft paints, thinned with water and a bit of a flow agent. You have to be careful not to get them too thin (first coat of her dress, ahem), but too thick and it can really clog the airbrush. Like most things, practice, practice, practice!

The hair I actually did use a brush with some Vallejo Pale Yellow. Same for some facial details, including the lips and eyebrows, with some drybrush rouge. I did the eyes with a technical pen.

I still have a bunch of these in the stash, with Belle up next, followed possibly by Ariel. But it's not all princesses - there are some Monsters Inc. characters, Mickey and Minney, and Starlord and Rocket Raccoon. Enough to keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

More Normans

More Normans! Four knights on foot with spears, and a warlord! And a banner! And two extra guys for good measure.
I know, they would do better in Saga with horses. But as I noted before, I have to believe a significant portion of the Norman army still fought on foot. So there it is. And don't worry, I have at least one more unit of mounted knights to paint. And with word of Footsore Miniatures Normans coming, I surely will be tempted to get a unit of mounted warriors. And some archers.

Wait, wasn't this supposed to be a quick side project?

I actually thought I would need to paint up at least one more unit to reach a four-point Saga force, then I realized I could just spend a point on a priest. So technically, I think they are good to go. Anyone?

Oh, the knights with spears are from Black Tree Design, while the warlord and his pals are from Crusader Miniatures. All very nicely done, clean and easy to paint with the usual mix of paints. 

One final note, I had planned on using some Little Big Men Studios transfers on the shields, and while they are very nice and I have had great success with them on Saxons and Scots, they didn't quite fit these shields as well. Not their fault, they weren't designed for BTD. So I used them as a guide to paint the shields. They turned out all right, I think.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Addicted to Saga?

Yesterday I wrote briefly about how much I like Saga. So last night I decided to quantify that a bit and look at the figures I have painted up and grouped into units for Saga. And the first step is admitting I have a problem!

Mind you, not all of this is painted, and in some cases point counts are estimates, but this should give you an idea.

Most of the Saxons
Anglo-Saxons: 10 points worth. That's four units of hearthguard, five units of warriors, and a unit of archers. Consider I have two more hearthguard units with Danish axes, and an Anglo-Dane force could be even larger.

Vikings: This one surprised me a bit. Again not all of this is painted, but most of it is. I'd call it about nine points, including four hearthguard, four warrior and one archer unit. I also have some berserkers, some painted, some not.

Scots: Or Picts. Whatever. I'll call it about six points for now. Two hearthguard (only one painted, the other is on the table), two warrior, one javelin and one archer. This is a faction I definitely want to try sooner rather than later.

Normans: The most recent faction I have started painting, after having them sit in a box for a few years. So far I have the one unit of mounted knights and one of foot warriors done, with one of foot knights nearly complete, along with my warlord. Next up will likely be a unit of crossbowmen, giving me four points, enough to start playing with them. But in the stash I have at least one more unit of mounted knights, and I think maybe two of foot knights. I'd like to get some archers and mounted warriors to call this one good.

Irish: Digging through the stash, sometimes you find things you forgot you even had! Looks like enough to do a four point force in there. I'm not so much of a purist that I might bolster that with some of the Scots noted above.

Era of the Princes: Yeah, this one doesn't fit in with the British Isles theme of the five above, but I like them. I have the four point starter pack, and the black hoods to add to it. Not a one is painted, but someday!

So, yeah, that's a lot. Six factions! That's ore than I thought. And like any good gamer, I'd like more. Skraelings, anyone?

Many of these were actually painted more years ago than I care to admit, long before Saga came out. I was waiting for Saga, apparently, I just didn't know it. While I've consistently used my Saxons in Saga games up to this point, look for that to change!