Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reaper Miniatures Bones Kickstarter

I've been keeping an eye on Reaper Miniatures Bones Kickstarter. The original "Vampire Level" pledge was a pretty sweet deal at a $100 for over 60 fantasy miniatures. Still, I decided to wait and see.

When it hit the point where the $100 level worked out to less than a buck a miniature, I just couldn't justify waiting any longer. It was too good a deal to pass up.

At the time of this writing, the Vampire pledge gets 111 miniatures. This includes the original 67 and those unlocked by the project achieving several stretch goals. It does not include the optional rewards that require raising the amount pledged. Those optional rewards include paint sets, a figure case, and additional miniatures. All of which was nice deals at the prices Reaper is offering.

Which presents me with two problems.

First, that's gonna be alot of miniatures to paint.

The second is the temptation to raise my pledge every time this thing hits another goal...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Work Bench #3 - More Gamecraft Miniatures Buildings

These are the other two MDF terrain pieces I purchased from Gamecraft Miniatures. Much of what I wrote about the Small Cargo Module applies here: 15mm, made for Ambush Alley's Tomorrow’s War, and expect a wood smoke smell after getting the parts out the package.

The larger piece is named the Garage/Shop Module (15MTW003) and has the Optional Raised Detail (15MTW003-1) added. The cargo door and the building itself are a little small to hold most 15mm vehicles, so I'm not sure about calling it a garage. It works fine as a workshop or storage building, though.

The Small Module (15MTW001) also has the Optional Raised Detail (15MTW001-1) offered for this piece. It could represent a small residence, office, or storage building by itself. On the other hand, Gamecraft Miniatures made it just the right size for another option: stack it on top of a larger piece in the same product line. Placed on the Garage/Shop Module, it becomes a second story office or on-site residence.

Assembly was fairly simple, but I did run into an issue not present on the Small Cargo Module. I used super glue for the initial assembly followed by watered down craft glue to seal off any gaps. The roof and corners were still uneven after assembly. The MDF parts fit together well, but not perfectly, resulting in small gaps. I spread some filler (the same stuff used to fit holes in drywall) over the top and on the corners. A day and a little sanding later, the issue was mostly resolved. Some of the gaps can still be seen, but are not really noticeable at table top distances.

I used almost the same painting methods as on the Small Cargo Module. The only difference was going easy on the weathering for these pieces. I wanted them to look used, but still kept up.

The laser etched detailing is pretty good. It is deep enough to be seen after painting, especially if using thinned paints and washes.

The optional raised detailing does add to appearance of the pieces. It has a much stronger effect than the laser etching and is clearly visible even from across the room. It also almost doubles the cost of each piece. Personally, I like the optional detailing, but I can see how the choice between it and more pieces for roughly the same price might be an issue for some folks.

Overall, these are good, solid pieces that I'm looking forward to putting on the table. I plan on buying more when time and finances permit.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Austin Boardgame Bash 2012

Spent most of Saturday afternoon, all of the evening, and a fair chunk of early Sunday morning at the Austin Boardgame Bash. It's only the second year for this convention, but it's already proven popular for the local gaming community. I tried out some new games and enjoyed the chance to catch up with some familiar faces. Best of all, some commemorative dice to remind me of the event!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Work Bench #2 - Gamecraft Miniatures Small Cargo Module

I picked up three of Gamecraft Miniatures' 15mm scale MDF terrain pieces during one of their recent sales. The ones I purchased were made for Ambush Alley's Tomorrow’s War game. That said, there is nothing so distinctive about these pieces that they can't be used for any futuristic game.

This particular piece is a Small Cargo Module (15MTW031). Not being familiar with assembling and painting MDF, I decided to use it as a test piece before working on the other two (which will be seen in a later post).

The piece came unassembled in a plastic bag. I noticed a strong, smoky smell immediately after unsealing the bag. This is to be expected as the parts are laser cut wood. It wasn't unpleasant, but the smell was still noticeable days after taking the parts out of the package.

Assembly was straightforward. Test fitting revealed that the parts fit together well. The piece went together quickly and without a struggle. I used super glue to hold the parts together during assembly. After the super glue set completely, I applied watered down craft glue to the seams to strengthen the piece and to seal any gaps.

Although it is called the Small Cargo Module, the piece is a good size for a terrain piece. It is big enough to provide cover, influence maneuver, and effect lines of sight. It is also small enough to be added in without dominating the board or getting in the way as players move and measure.

The assembled piece is very durable. It survived getting knocked off my desk without damage. This piece should survive years of gaming with nothing more than touching up the paint.

Painting took longer than I expected. Online research suggested that priming would not be necessary and that the best approach would be multiple layers of thinned paint. The MDF absorbed the initial layer while barely changing color. It ultimately took four layers until I was happy with the coverage of the basecoat.

My initial concerns with filling in the laser etched details on the piece proved unfounded. The etching is deep enough not to be effected by the layers of thinned paint. I did apply some Reaper Black Wash (09255) over the etching to being out the details a little more, just in case.

The next step was highlighting. I gently brushed on a thinned down linen color over the medium gray basecoat. I paid particular attention to the upper edges where light would catch on a real structure.

Finally, I detailed and weathered the piece. I used some thinned down Reaper Black Wash to simulate shadows in between and below the panels. Some thinned down Reaper Brown Wash (09254) went into the lower parts of the piece to represent the build up of soil and dust over time.

I'm pretty happy with the piece. Its price is offset by its quality, durability, and utility. It would not look out of place as part of a near-future location here on Earth or in a far-future space colony or industrial world.