Fort McHenry Project: Naval officers

US Naval officers, ready to repell and other nautical words!

Naval Officers

I'm getting close to finishing up the Fort McHenry commission project (yay). The rangers have been more than patient with me, as I realized that this was a much bigger project than I thought it would be.

US uniforms, aft view
 These US and British naval officers are the last troops needed; now I have 9 civilians to do up, then focus on the ships, which are already half done. I am excited to see this all in the hands of the fort, and put to work.

British officers- all prim and proper

British stern costume


Breaking Lances: A Grail Knight and Joe Con

"grail knight" mounted and foot versions

Breaking Lances at Joe Con!

This weekend I had the privileged to run a breaking lances tournament at Joe Con, a 3 day convention my pal Joe puts on at his house. One of the great things about the con is all the faced I may not have seen throughout the year, many of them fellow SCA members (although I've been inactive for about 15 years now).
The Tournament table set up with great bayeux backdrop. Note foot combat area in the fore

So with the latest version of the rules cleaned up, I set up a table or 8 players but quickly expanded it to 10 players as the crowds demanded more action!  The other big thing we did was to give the foot combat rules a real shakedown.
Another view of the field, knights at the ready

Action commences! After the first couple of runs, the cheat sheets went away.

I unfortunately didn't take any pictures of the foot combat in action- but I had all 4 fighters participating, all were SCA fighters and at least one was a knight! This providing for great "feel and pace" feedback. And also, a few good laughs! Thanks guys!
Josh tries his hand role playing Sir Brion Beletrix.

 Rules wise, I think that they are all ready to go, sans some editing work, and adding in stuff like a better crit chart for foot combat, and how to run a tournament. My durrent goal is to set this off as a Kickstarter in Q2 of 2019. Fingers crossed.

Grail Knight 

This is a new design I finally had a chance to finish painting, as I needed 4 foot knights for the playtest. The color choices were inspired by Alan Lee's painting the blue knight, where He uses a great contrast in colors. In Watercolor! The man is a constant inspiration!
Alan Lee, The Blue knight

Different shots, on grey background. I need to build a bigger lightboxc

Well, that wraps up 2018!

What's on the docket for 2019?   stay tuned blog followers, and may you all have a wonderful, prosperous and happy new year!


Cool Yule!

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you all for showing up at my blog from time to time, and especially to those who have commented. This year I've had over 20 new followers and over 250K views!  Next year we are going to hit 500K views, and I'll  have a cool giveaway...somehow.

Again, thanks for you joining in and making this hobby special!   And if you haven't you should take a look at some of the folks that I follow (on the side board)- I am continually inspired and awed by the work they do and great tips they have.

Cheers and have a cool Yule- see you in 2019!

I remain, your most obd't toy maker


Eagle knight Zombie

8 deer gets ready to take a bite out of his lunch.

Antediluvian Miniatures

My pal Andrew Taylor, owner and proprietor of  Antediluvian Miniatures knows my love for the Aztecs, and was kind enough to send a pre production cast of this Mixtec Eagle knight zombie from his new kickstarter line.  Needless to say, it got primed and painted ASAP!

Growing up in California, and in a working class white and Chicano neighborhood, the lore and myths of the Meso American culture was all around me. Even our Jr. High School mascot the Warriors, was an Eagle knight!

Because of this it has been a passion of mine, especially the art- and in particular the art from the Codex Nuttall, a wonderful book from the period. Sadly few of these books have been discovered, but there are recordings of the Spaniards burning thousands of them.  Dover has a wonderful facsimile of the codex. The original is in the British Museum.
Buy this book! 

It was the color choices in the Codex that inspired my painting palette; yellow ochre, that dark red and the jade/ malachite greens, along with white.
I went a bit brighter on the yellow, to help make the mini pop a bit

A page of the codex, for reference

All in all it is a wonderful miniature to paint, and I thank Andrew Taylor for the early Christmas present!  Looking forward to getting the rest of the set!

Did I really use that many paints on one mini?!


Mecha!: Zentraedi War Pod

I've got my mind on my Mecha, and my Mecha on my mind

Back in the Late 80's my self and a group of college buddies launched a new game company called Seventh Street Games. The name was the based upon the street where the house that most of them lived. Our first foray into actual publishing and making models was a game called Mecha! "An Explosive System for Science Fiction Combat!" The rules turned out pretty well and were distributed to many stores across the states- it almost ended up paying for the publishing costs- but it was a great spring board into my career. And because of that, and the fondness of mech combat, I'm dusting off the old rules, seeing what still works well, and then updating them for 21st century game play.

Here's the cover, and  the Intro, that basically explains the game approach.

Rules Cover

Intro Blurb

Mech Models: Then and now

Back in the day we were really trying to recreate the fantastic Macross genre fights between all the Zendraeti  mechs vs the stalwart human pilots in their Veritech mechs. The trouble was, those models were rarer than hen's teeth to find, even though I lived next to some of the best stores in Japan Town for a source.

But those days are now over!

Thanks to the Robotech Kickstarter, both Veritech and, more importantly the Zentraedi War Pods (my personal favorites) are very easy to come by via Ebay and flea markets. I scored a bunch and although a bit smaller than the old school models ( a pod measures 70mm to the end of it's top barrels)  the details are tight and models are easy to assemble- and fun to paint!

Examples of model sprues

War Pod Test!

here's my first war pod test paint. I based it on a wonderful blog post that I found by Collection DX
Which features some nice weathering and the grey legs instead of the typical white.  Here's my take on that theme.

Death on a stick!

My war pod is mounted on a battle pole using the battle nipple (yeah, it needs a new name) That I had cast up for my starship! game and models a decade ago.  I may update it, but honestly it works really well, and protects them models much better than having magnets as an attachment.

So, we'll see how this shakes out- I am keen on painting up a slew of these and getting the gang back together for some battles! Stay tuned for more!

Oh, if you have any of your own mechs to share, I'd love to see them. Also looking for any extra decal sheets :)


Fort McHenry Project: US Volunteers

US Volunteers 1812: Baltimore boys

Finished up 24 of these bright and bold lads for the Fort McHenry Project. Overall super happy how they came out. Even better, weather permitting I'll be taking photos of all the troops I've done so far and then packing them up to send off to the Fort. 

Ready for Review
What commanders usually see

These Woodens take about 2 hours each to paint. Most colors are three layers, especially all the Non Mettallic metallic bits, like buttons, gun barrels, etc. 

The over all look gives them a "printed page" effect similar to the period. I'm super happy as to how these guys turned out. 
On the march- Regulars and Volunteer troops side by side

What's next?

I have a few naval officers to paint up, and then 3 sets of 3 civilians do design and cut (and paint), including Mr. Francis Scott Key himself. Then I move on to finishing up the ships for the project. The Hulls are all done, but I am still noodling with the best way to make the masts and sails so that the park rangers can use the models in exhibits and teaching moments without them being too fiddly and fragile. 

Thanks for following along on this adventure! 


Fort McHenry Project: Mounted US officers


These last two weeks I've been hot in closing in on finishing all the soldiers for the Fort McHenry Project. I still have to photograph all the ones I've painted up, but here's the US mounted officers

A bit too big for the studio shot

 I only need 3 for the project. The other is a Christmas present. Here's some single shots.

 And lastly the Dramatic shot

Thanks for stopping by and checking them out! 


Lightbox Backdrops

Lightbox backdrop prototype

 I've had several queries about my Lightbox backdrop and figure display stand, so I thought I'd do a bit of a write up and show the "behind the scenes" of it all.

Origin Story

So a while back I laser cut some buildings for my 54mm Imaginations woodens based upon some designs that my pal and erstwhile partner in crime Jaye Wiley designed. They all fit together to make a hollow "town" as a terrain piece. Looked like this.
Town in use, with entry gate. Invading army sold separately.

Erm, I never quite got them finished in time for the battle...

These worked like a charm,telling both the story needed and, being hollow, a way to hold the troops who captured the town.  During packing up after the game I dropped it and, as I only had it lightly glued together ( it was still a WIP painting wise...) it came apart. No biggie, I was going to take it apart anyways.  I packed them away until the next battle.

Ideation Time

 On the drive back from the convention, I had a thought. These sections reminded me of stage flats.I need to take some pictures of troops, wonder what they would look like as a background? 
Basic building cut outs, with a stain and some grey on the stacks
So, I laser cut a base of cobble stones using crafting foam and glued it onto a piece of 3mm ply. this piece had slots for me to glue some triangle supports to hold the backdrop of buildings up.  The size of the backdrop is made to fit in my small lightbox that I bought off of ebay for $20.

Back view, kinda cobbled together.
Once I had it all in place, I started painting the stage front, taking a few pictures along the way. The flat was... too flat, so I added some depth to it by layering frontages, window frames, barrels and a sidewalk.

Early stages shot with little layering and WIP paint

side view showing"layering"
While doing this I experimented with various window treatments, from just etched lines to etched in windows to fully cut out. The best technique turned out the be etched lines, which is actually the easiest.  Once finished I just pop it back in my light box, with the sky backdrop showing through.  

Cobblestone street is 2mm hobby foam. I like the texture and it paints up well

This shot has an extra side building as a test.

What Next?

Like I said, I've had a lot of questions on how I built this, and a few folks wanting to commission me for one (I'm booked solid till next year).  My next steps are to design a backdrop that assembles easy with slots, possibly easy to take apart for travel and storage. I've also been drawing up some new building types, as well as a "scary woods" and a dungeon backdrop.  All fun stuff! 

Depending on how things go, I might just present this as a small Kickstarter mid next year.  If you have any basic terrain skills of your own, this kind of thing could easily be made out of foam core and balsa.

I'd love to hear feedback from you. What size would be good for you? What style(s)?