29 March 2007

Actually, my last post was somewhat inaccurate. I did not recently learn that my fishing skills are no good. I have known that for quite some time. I was merely reminded of this fact because I have spent time recently performing actions that look like fishing. What I've really been doing is throwing lures in the water and sometimes bringing them back out of the water.
My wife and I went fishing at a local pond a few days ago. She had to work late that day, so we only got about an hour of fishing in. I got a couple of nibbles on my line as well as one good bite that probably should have resulted in a fish. She got skunked.
A couple days after that I went fishing at another local pond, but didn't manage to do much but step in the water, lose my most expensive lure, and look like a nincompoop every time I tried to cast. I'm still getting the hang of casting, which is a sad sad thing, especially when the pond is near a road and everyone can drive by and see how genetically inferior I am as a man who was born without the gene that gives you the automatic casting ability. I got the "cast like a blindfolded child swinging a bat at a pinata" gene.
Anyway, I am stubborn about this fishing thing, so I am going to keep going fishing all summer, and hopefully by the end I'll have some pictures of me in the presence of actual fish. I have had a good time going to the store and buying different lures and whatnot. In fact, I'm expecting that my wife will soon be mentioning that certain purchases are probably not in the budget right now and maybe I should hold off on filling the tackle box until I start filling up the frying pan with some fish.
I read somewhere that the reason lures come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors is not because the fish can tell the difference, but because they are designed to lure money from the wallets of anglers. I will readily admit that I am attracted by all the shiny spoons and jigs and spinners.

28 March 2007

In the last two days I've learned that my fishing skills are rubbish.

26 March 2007

My wife and I spent most of the evening at my sister's house, hanging out with her and her husband. We had a pretty good time, but I didn't get much painting done today. These Battle Nuns are killing me.

23 March 2007

Well, What Do You Know?

To my amazement, shortly after I finished my last post Arnold Schwarzenegger broke my door down with his meaty fist and said, "Show me your canine friend! I have heard of his desire to be autographed and I am here to fulfill his wildest dreams!" I produced the dog, he signed Buddy's flank and announced, "I must now get to the chopper, but I'll be back!" Then he disppeared through the hole where my door used to be, presumably to catch a helicopter ride back to the land of California, where governors don't need licenses to ride their Harleys.

And now I must go to bed.
I wanted to go to bed at 3 AM, but I ended up watching Gorillaz videos on Youtube instead, so maybe I'll split the difference between my intended bedtime and my usual bedtime (5 AM) and go to bed now. And maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger will come to my house and personally autograph my Basset Hound.
Oh, I got my prize from the Wyrd Games painting contest that I participated in by voting and commenting on all of the entries. I got a couple of their zombie miniatures, which should be fun to paint up at some point.
I still haven't done much on the Battle Nuns. Maybe tomorrow.

22 March 2007

Just in case you were wondering, the video in my previous post stems from a thread on The Miniatures Page. Someone posted a link to a different version of that video, but I did a search and found a more complete one that captures every awesome piece of choreography.
I tried out my proposed method for varnishing minis on my contest entry by brushing on the satin finish, waiting until it dried, and then brushing on the flat finish. It seems to have worked, although it looks like I've had a couple areas where the flat finish gobbed up a little into a sort of spiderweb pattern. I'm not sure if there was some sort of contaminant on my brush or if I used too much varnish or if I just haven't made sufficient offerings to the paint gods this month and gobby varnish is their punishment for me. It's not too noticeable, so I'll probably just leave it as is for now. I can't bother with it too much as I need to take the mini in to the hobby shop tomorrow. I didn't get it turned in today as I slept in a bit and mostly just had time to get to work.

This Could Be the Most Awesome Video Ever Made

20 March 2007

Painting Contest Mini Completed

I've finished up the base for my competition figure, and I'll probably take it into the shop tomorrow. Now I've got to get pumped up and finish the Battle Nuns.

My Painting Contest Mini

I've pretty much finished the painting of my miniature for the local shop painting contest. I am not extremely happy with it, but I don't think I have time before the deadline to bother with starting over. I don't really like the way the skin turned out. I worked at it for a long time, but I never really got it to be the right colors and it's ended up looking pretty chunky and uneven. The face is a mess. Everything else went pretty well as far as painting at my current skill level, but I've been looking at lots of pictures of expertly-painted miniatures lately and it frustrates me to compare them to my own work. I need to learn some blending techniques and also learn to be more patient so I can use more coats of thinner paint. The only thing I'm really proud of on this miniature is that I stepped outside my comfort zone and did a little bit of freehand on the hem of the cloak. Hopefully the spackle on the base will be dry tomorrow and I'll be able to finish the miniature off. Then it will be on to finishing my unit of Battle Nuns.

I didn't work on any miniatures this weekend as I had my little brother over for Saturday evening and Sunday. We played a rather simple D & D scenario. We each played two characters and I did double duty as the GM. Things moved pretty slowly as we are both learning the rules, but it was a lot of fun. We killed a lot of kobolds and lizardmen, collected a bounty, and have a couple of hooks for the next adventure. We also managed to roll natural 1's on our d20s approximately 50% of the time. It was such a good time that my wife said she might want to try it out sometime. I'm hoping to have enough miniatures painted to play a game of Supersystem next time he comes over to visit.

13 March 2007

Battle Nuns WIP

Here are three of the Battle Nuns I've been working on. Not much to really see or talk about, at the moment.

I just upgraded my blog to the new Blogger. I'm not sure what it means, but one neat feature is that I can add labels to my posts so readers who don't want to hear about my real life can just read wargaming stuff or look at pictures of my minis.
Speaking of photos, I meant to take some WIP pics of the Battle Nuns today, but as usual my camera battery was dead and I did not take any photos. I really haven't done much on them. Last night the paint on their faces dried and smoothed out quite a bit. They don't look nearly as bad as they looked before. They're not great, but the faces are certainly wargaming standard. Today I painted their sleeves and got a pretty good basecoat on their habits/tabards. Once I get a few more layers done on those, I'll just have various metallics and straps to paint. I hope it goes quickly because I have a project with a deadline coming up.
I went to the hobby store in Nampa today (Team Dewey Toys and Hobbies) to check out the details on their Reaper Mini of the Month painting competition. This month the subject is Wizards. To enter, you have to buy a Reaper wizard miniature and paint it before the 25th. Then they judge the contest and whoever wins gets a free mini for the next month's competition. I looked at the entries from last month's contest and I feel pretty good about my chances. I do need to learn to paint better eyes. There wasn't much selection at the store, so I narrowed it down to a couple of minis. My first choice had already been painted by someone and I didn't really want to do a repeat, so I got this mini instead. I think her hair and the unicorn head on her staff should be a fair challenge, but I should be able to do a fine job of painting her and hopefully place well in the contest. I need to get the Battle Nuns done and off my desk so I can get started on her. I only have twelve days, and I imagine the time will go a lot faster than I want it to.
I went to the doctor's office for my first therapy appointment today. I didn't really feel like going as my back feels fine now, but there are outside forces that must be obeyed occasionally, and She Who Must Be Obeyed wouldn't let me just slide on this one. Before doing any stretching or whatnot, the therapist hooked me up to some sort of electrical stimulator that supposedly relaxes your injured muscles.
He said, "I'm going to turn it up and you let me know when you get a comfortable tingling in your back." I let him go a bit too far and my back seized up and I made a gurgling sound, so he dialed it down a bit and handed the controls to me, along with some instructions on how to run the device. Then he set a timer for about 15 minutes and left to take care of some other patients.
I looked at the screen on the controls and saw that the device was set at 48, about half-power. I got to wondering how high I could go with it, so I turned it up to 60. My back tightened up and my arm twitched a bit, so I took it back down to 50. Then I decided to try 70 out. My back came off the table a little and I snorted a little before I took it back down to 50. Then I got to thinking that I couldn't just do my time without finding out what 100 was like, so I pushed it all the way to full power. It was pretty exciting, so I decided to see how long I could hold it there. My back arched all the way up, my arm was really shaking, and I was making funny noises and sweating from my forehead. Then I heard the therapist say he was going to come check on me, so I dialed it back down and returned to normal.

12 March 2007

My brother and I went to the Monster Truck show Saturday night. It was a pretty good show, very loud and filled with monster trucks, smaller trucks, and dirtbike stunts. True to form, several of the monster trucks lost axles, wheels, and two of them even caught on fire. To add to the excitement, my brother and I each picked trucks to cheer for in the elimination races, and his truck went all the way to the finals, where it lost to Grave Digger. When the smaller trucks raced, I saw that one of the trucks was sponsored by the new hobby shop in Nampa. It would appear that the guys who own the shop have their hands in a few other hobbies as well.
We also made a trip to Hobbytown to find miniatures to use as superheroes in Supersystem games. I figure it might be better to get him started on a cheaper game like Supersystem, which only requires 3 or four figures per team, rather than a Warhammer or even a Warlord army that could end up costing $100 to $1000 or more, depending on what you want to put into it. He picked Warl Hellbore, who we wrote up as a sort of shadow ninja who creates shadows and has the ability to essentially teleport through those shadows to anywhere on the map.
I picked up a Clay Golem, who I wrote up as a standard heavy-hitting brick. I've already chosen the other two characters for my team, Mr. Cranium with his robot sidekick and Killshot. I'm thinking I'll paint them up and play them as villains. There are quite a few other miniatures I want to get, but they can wait.
My brother wants a modern-looking mage (maybe something anime-inspired, as he's really into Yu-Gi-Oh) and some sort of brick. We looked at quite a few miniatures online, but he didn't see anything he really liked.
I started working on my unit of Battle Nuns. I've finished their skin, but I'm not very happy with how it turned out. They look as though they were burned badly, mauled by a back-alley plastic surgeon, and then went through a failed Lasik surgery. I can't decide if they really look that bad compared to my previous work or if I've been looking at so many nicely painted minis online lately that my confidence has waned. I think this is one of those units that I'll just have to push through and be glad I'm done with them.

08 March 2007

Today was a rather interesting day for me. Last night my back went out on me again, causing a fair bit of pain. I was able to finish my eight hours at work and get home, but when I woke up today I could hardly move around my house. So I called in sick and went to the immediate care place. The nurse seemed had a really hard time understanding what was wrong with me, although I think I explained it (with help from my wife) in very simple terms.
I explained it something like this: "My back hurts. It's been flaring up off and on for a year, and I've been to the VA Hospital about it twice." She was unable to grasp the concept, so we had to tell her several times.
She finally understood that my back was hurting and said, "Well, what do you want us to do about it? You're just here to get pain medication, aren't you?" I told her that I would prefer to find out what is wrong with my back and work on fixing it rather than just popping pills to mask the pain. She didn't seem convinced, and went off to get the doctor.
Luckily, the doctor seemed fairly competent. He told me some stuff that I can do to help prevent further pain, prescribed a few drugs, and maybe I'll end up doing some rehab-type therapy sessions. So I should be able to return to work tomorrow.
I was able to get some stuff done on my miniatures today. While my wife was watching American Idol I cleaned mold lines off of a bunch of Warlord figures. And after she went to bed I took them out to put primer on them and touch up the primer on my previous batch of figures. Priming is always an adventure, as I have to place the minis on some sort of stable platform, put on some latex gloves, grab my spray can, and somehow get it all out the front door, over the gate into the yard, across the yard, and into the shed. In the dark. I managed to drop one part of my Duke Gerrard figure on the porch while I climbed over the gate and I also dropped the freshly primed Duke himself on the dirt and dog-hair covered floor of the shed. Luckily, he did not absorb any dirt particles and I was able to respray the parts that got dinged up. Now I've got plenty of stuff ready to paint, and I just need to get on it. If that wasn't enough, I also got paint on my last good pair of pants.
I've been looking at pictures online trying to come up with a good paint scheme for my Battle Nuns. So far I've determined that the only color combinations out there are blue/white, black/white, red/black, and red/black/white. I think I'm going to go out on a limb and try a green/brown combo for my Crusaders army. We'll see if it works out.
I also printed out the Supersystem 2nd Edition rules. I figure I can rebase and repaint Heroclix figures until I start adding some other superhero figures to my collection.

06 March 2007

Last night I cleaned up and assembled a bunch of figures. Today I primed them, and at some point I will actually start in on painting them. I had to do some conversion work on a Rat Ogre with some green stuff. It doesn't look that good, but hopefully I'll be able to work with it and get it looking better. I was going to do some cleaning up work on the rest of my Warlord figures and assemble my next unit of Clanrat Slaves tonight, but I got caught up in other stuff and didn't get around to it.
I did make up a list of all the figures I need to buy for my Warlord armies, so I can check the little boxes as I add to my collection. I was going to make some sort of list that involved several check-boxes for each unit so I could track a few categories like Purchased, Primed, Painted, and Based, but if I let myself go too far on lists, I end up spending more time on lists than on miniatures. It's a slippery slope, and once I'm on it I can produce an entire notebook based on 25 miniatures. I am planning on making a painting notebook, though. I will be painting the Warlord units in stages as I buy more figures, so I'll have to remember my color choices.
It always amazes me how much priming my figures cuts down the intimidation factor of painting them. I was looking at my Warlord figures last night and wondering how I would paint all those little indistinct details. But once the primer hits the figures they become so much more defined and I am able to see what and where everything is supposed to be. I'm hopeless when it comes to bare metal, but on primed figures I can see what I need to do. It's similar in concept to what they say about writing projects. The blank page can be intimidating, but once you get some ink down ideas will start flowing.
I dragged my wife to Hobbytown today and picked up a couple of Reaper blisters. We have worked out a little arrangement. There's a Jo-Ann Fabric store across the street from Hobbytown, so I drop her off there and then go on to Hobbytown. She buys yarn and beads and craft stuff, and then she walks over to Hobbytown. It's good for me because she gets excited about the craft store and spends some money, so I get to make more trips and not get a guilt trip about buying a couple of figures or some paints. I also picked up some foam at the fabric store so I can make a transport case for my Skaven army. If this foam works out, I will have a fairly cheap way to keep my armies safe when I move them.
I am taking my little brother to the Monster Truck show this Saturday. I think he will like it. I remember going to see the Monster Trucks with my dad when I was a kid, and it was a pretty good time.
At drill this weekend I was somewhat surprised to hear them call out my name as one of the people to be promoted to Sergeant. I'd expected that it would be at least one more year before I got up on the promotions list, but apparently enough people above me failed their PT tests and I got bumped above the promotion line. Depending on how well my unit can wheel and deal, I may have to transfer to another Troop to keep the rank, but I'm hoping that I can work something out to get the promotion and stay in my current Troop. Either way, it's a little more money coming in every month, and that means more fun for me.
I've started a bad habit. I've been letting my Basset Hound get up on the couch with me at night. He's getting a little older, so he spends more time sleeping and isn't as much of a nuisance when he's in the house. We have to help him get up on the couch because his stubby little back legs can't quite make the step. Earlier today he solved the problem by hopping up at an angle and then rolling onto the couch, but he's already forgotten that method. Our Lab is jealous, but she's too huge and energetic to sit on the couch.

02 March 2007

I feel like posting something, but I haven't really done anything in the last day. I pulled my Reaper Warlord Razig's Revenge (Undead Pirates) out of their box and lined them all up on my desk. I'd like to have a go at painting them next. At the moment I have nine out of the twenty-six figures I'll need to finish the army out. Unfortunately, the sixteen figures I need to purchase won't be in the budget for another month or three, so I may run into the same problem I'm having with my Plague Monks. I probably won't be able to replicate the paint schemes effectively. What I'll probably end up doing is taking all of my unpainted stuff (a couple hundred figures from Reaper, Games Workshop, and Foundry), cleaning it up, priming it, and putting it in my "Ready" box. I hate cleaning mold lines and flash off of figures, so it's best to just do it all in one go and be done with it for a few months. By the time I'm done with that I'll probably have finished buying the last of my Skaven and I'll be able to make a big push to finish the army out and concentrate on something else, at least until the next Skaven army book comes out.

I looked at the Boise State University site today, but the Fall schedule isn't up yet. I imagine I'll take a couple of easy courses to get myself back into the swing of things, like maybe a 100 or 200 level History class and some sort of writing class. If I think I can swing it, I may take an additional internet course, just so I'll be that much closer to getting some kind of degree when Spring rolls around. I don't have a lot of faith in the education system at Boise State, but it seems to be a necessary step if I want to get off the freight dock and get into something a little more lucrative and a little easier on the back and knees. It would be nice to stay with FedEx, maybe in an admin job, but that's all a couple years down the road right now. I hate school, but it'll be nice to feel like I'm on my way to somewhere again instead of just punching the clock and spinning my wheels.
Another random thought. I've noticed that a lot of the wargamers on The Miniatures Page are very snooty about the fact that they have "graduated" from playing Fantasy or Sci-Fi games. They'll often make comments such as, "Like most people, I started out in Fantasy, but soon found that it lacked the intricacies and research I required. It wasn't long before I moved on to wargaming real historical conflicts," or some wordy equivalent of, "You're a lesser being for not playing whatever scale and time period I happen to be obsessed with." The way I see it, we're all playing with little toys. I'd be willing to bet that even historical gamers make marching noises and gun sounds when they play with their toys. I guess I just don't see the point in getting all worked up about anything hobby-related. Of course, this post of mine could be considered an example of a Fantasy gamer getting worked up about Historical gamers. Maybe I'm a hypocrite. I will say this, though. It was a Historical gaming book that got me interested in miniature wargaming in third grade, it was GHQ's catalog the kept me interested throughout my childhood, It was Avalon Hill's Squad Leader and Victory in the Pacific games that I played through my teens, and the first minis I ever purchased were 15mm WWII Germans and Americans from Quality Castings. I do have plans for historical wargaming projects, but they have a lower priority at the moment because I haven't found anyone locally to play historical games with. I wouldn't consider myself a Fantasy gamer, a Sci-Fi gamer, or a Historical gamer. I'd just call myself a Miniature Gamer and stick with that.

01 March 2007

I spent most of my free time over the last two days posting comments on pictures for a miniatures contest held by Wyrd miniatures. My motivation for doing this is that the contest sponsor is going to send prizes to random people who post comments on every entry. I am a sucker for prizes.

I also wanted to see what sort of miniatures were on display as a comparison to my own painting efforts, sort of feeling out the competition, so to speak. I'd say that 40-50% of the entries (I think there were about 100 entries in the various categories) were paint jobs that I thought I could outdo, 10-15% were at about my level, and the other 35-50% ranged from quite a bit better than my best to a level well-defined by the phrase, "Holy crap, that is the most amazing piece of painting I have ever witnessed in my entire life!" So, I'd place myself right around the middle of the pack. To get higher in the rankings, I need to learn a few things, most notably the art of blending. I also need quite a bit of work on painting eyes and skin colorations, which sort of goes along with the blending. I think I have enough ability to do well in a local contest, but these internet contests have some brilliant painters in them. I do admire all of the painters in the Wyrd contest for having the stones to put their work up on display in what seems to be a very critical community.
I posted a link to my blog on The Miniatures Page after I finished the Giant. I got a lot of good comments on it. The big complaint about the figure was the shininess caused by my clearcoat. I chose the shinier clearcoat because the really flat varnishes suck out the colors and completely destroy metallics. I have considered covering my miniatures with the satin finish that I currently use and then covering the non-metallic areas with an additional coat of the flat varnish, but I am reluctant to perform the experiment based on my prior experiences with flat varnishes, both the spray-types and the brush-on types.
I have hit a bit of a roadblock in selecting my next project. I have quite a few different Skaven purchased and ready for painting, but I am a bit burned out on rats. I am also worried about the extra rank of Plague Monks I have to paint for my 3000-point list. The original unit was the first unit I painted, and I really can't recall what colors and methods I used on them. I always mean to keep a "painting journal" that lists that sort of thing for the minis I paint, but so far I have failed to do so. I'm thinking about going ahead and painting up one or more of my Warlord armies, even if they are all only half-complete. I'll probably fiddle around for a while and then get excited about a unit or project again. It's always hard to continue immediately after I finish a big project that I'm pumped up about. There's a big rush and excitement as the project is finished, and then a bit of a letdown and some confusion about where to go next.
I will not have time for any miniatures until Monday, though, as I have to begin preparing for my National Guard drill weekend. I should be excited about it because we're going to be shooting guns this month, but I tend to get agitated and nervous about Guard weekend every month. I think it's a mix of social anxiety mixed with performance anxiety. I am not really a stereotypical military guy, I feel a bit out of place in uniform and doing army stuff. And I get nervous about all of the tasks I have to perform for my job. It's quite irrational, as I graduated from Basic Training with honors, I generally do very well in the testing we are required to do every year, and aside from awful navigational abilities I have never really been at the bottom of the barrel in my unit. I managed to do my job and get through my tour in Iraq safely and without placing others in harm, but I still am constantly on edge and anxious about whether I'll measure up during my training. I always expect that it will go away at some point and I'll stop worrying so much, but it's been 6 1/2 years and I still lose sleep thinking about upcoming Drill Weekends.