Wooden Weapons

The kids aren’t allowed to get wooden weapons at the Renaissance Festival, because then I don’t get to make them.

A wooden hammer (maul) prop I made for Ezra’s Dwarf costume. Wooden curtain rod, pine wood head, craft foam and fake leather on the handle.
Details of the hammer head show the Gunnerkrigg Court symbol carved into the side of the head, just as Ezra requested.
Short swords for Martine’s Ranger costume. Pine board blades, and masonite reinforcement at the hilt. Handles wrapped with pleather.
The props in use.

 

Fantasy Dwarf Helmet

Before I can post this year’s costume creations, I need to do last year’s.

Here are some in-process photos of a fantasy Dwarf helmet I made for Ezra’s costume last year.

It all started with a baseball batting helmet I found at Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, and some chunks of 2×4 I glued into blocks.
I cut the helmet down and roughed out horns on the blocks.
I carved the horns with a spoke shave, and sanded them. They’re bolted into the helmet using large lag bolts from behind, with hot glue to fill in the gap between horn and helmet.
Details were applied using flexible craft foam attached with hot glue.
I sprayed the entire helmet black, and then painted most of it metallic steel. After spraying a protective varnish, I added fur to the horns.
The finished costume included a “wizard” beard that we braided, scale armor made from aluminum flashing that I had when I was a kid, one of many home made cloaks, and a wooden hammer I’ll show off in another post.

DBA Army III/70b: Georgians

Here is my recently completed Georgian army for DBA 2.2+.

DBA Army III/70b: Georgians. Essex miniatures.
Georgian 3Kn General and 3x3Kn.  Essex Miniatures.

I painted this army for the God Wills It! First Crusade Campaign Theme, which will be run on Saturday night at Fall-In 2013.

The primary factor for me choosing this army was that the slot was still available in the campaign.  However, I also had a number of the figures on hand, as leftovers from other projects.  I chose the rest of the figures based on what Jack Sheriff used in his Georgian army.

Unlike Jack’s figures, most of mine are stock, unmodified Essex miniatures.  The exceptions are four Light Horse models, which were Bulgar archers.  They had large toggles on the front of their coats, which I removed to make them look almost identical to the Essex Kipchak/Cuman figures.

III/70b: 4x2LH. Essex Miniatures.
III/70b: 2x4Sp. Essex Miniatures.

The Knights are a mix of Essex Georgian knights and other similar knights.  The general and his supporting figures are a generic Eastern European command set.

I had a hard time finding any definitive information on colors and shield patterns for this army. I would not use this army as an example of what Georgians are supposed to look like.  I was inspired by a few other painted Georgian armies online, and pictures of

As usual, these are painted primarily with Vallejo acrylics. I use a combination of painted highlights and several colors of ink washes for shading.  Shields are hand painted.

III/70b: 2x3Bw. Essex Miniatures.

III/70b: 2x2Ps. Essex Miniatures.

25mm DBA Army III/62b: Early Polish

DBA army III/62b: Early Polish; 25mm figures.

“Since when do you play 25’s?”
“Why are you playing 25mm?”

I’ve gotten a lot of heckling from my friends, but the explanation is simple: at Fall-In 2013, there is nothing else going on during the 25mm tournament, and I’m not going to use up my whole Saturday without playing anything before the campaign event.  If I did that, I’d only go buy things.

So, I built a 25mm army from figures I had on hand.  I didn’t paint this army, I bought the figures already painted.  I only touched them up, applied some ink, and based them.  They’re brighter than they’d be if I painted them, but I didn’t have to put the effort in, which is fine with me.  I’ll save my limited 25mm painting for HotT armies.

DBA Army I/51: Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid

In preparation for the Assyrian campaign event at Fall-In 2012, JM and I ordered Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid armies from Magister Militum.  JM planned to paint his for the campaign event, and I’d paint mine so we could build a BBDBA army out of them.  Yeah, that was a year ago.

DBA army I/51: Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid; Magister Militum figures
Assyrian Chariots; Magister Militum miniatures.

As with many plans, this one failed to survive contact with the enemy.  JM didn’t go to Fall-In, and I didn’t have an occasion to paint the Assyrians for BBDBA until this year.  I planned to go to Fall-In 2013 with Mike Kaizar (there’s that “plan” thing again), and wanted to play Assyrians in Big Battles. I got as far as painting this army in September before Mike cancelled, and I found another Big Battle partner who already has Assyrians painted.

Assyrian Spearmen; Magister Militum miniatures.

I didn’t do much research for color selections with this army.  Essentially, I had a vague memory of seeing Assyrians in light blue-grey and red, and did that.  The army painted up fairly quickly due to the few number of colors used, and I’m happy with the way they turned out.

Biblical armies are my “dump stat,” so I don’t usually spend much time on them despite tending to enjoy the fast pace of Biblical battles. Luckily it’s often fairly easy to get a good look for them since they typically have simple clothing.

Assyrian Spearmen; Magister Militum miniatures.

I like the Magister Militum figures. I believe these were originally Chariot miniatures before Magister Militum purchased the line.  They’re sculpted well, and have a “toy soldier” feel, with very limited and static poses.  The overall effect is good, though it has a bit of a “retro” feel compared to more modern figures.

The figures they provided for the Horde elements are interesting. They sent an even mix of archers and lightly armed spearmen. I decided to base them up similarly to Pavisers, since it doesn’t make much sense to put the spearmen behind the bows.

Assyrian Auxilia; Magister Militum miniatures.

Assyrian Cavalry; Magister Militum miniatures.

Assyrian Psiloi and Horde; Magister Militum miniature.

HoTT Army: Professor Hans’ Metal Minions

Here is my latest Hordes of the Things army: Professor Hans’ Metal Minions.  I just made that up.  I finished this army before Cold Wars, but didn’t get a chance to post about it yet.

Professor Hans’ Metal Minions
Professor Hans and his Avatar: Magician General.

Professor Hans was afflicted with Polio at a young age.  For years he studied Science, Technology, and the dark arts of Alchemy to try to find a solution to his frustrated confinement. After receiving a small mechanical assistant robot from his uncle, he began experimenting with building ever more complex mechanical bodies.

Eventually he invented a mind-machine interface that allowed him to give his creations the autonomy they deserved. This army is the result of years of experimentation with transplanting insect and animal brains into mechanical bodies.

His work must continue until he feels he can successfully transplant his own brain into a suitable host body.  In the mean time, his army gives him the tools he needs to find human subjects for further experimentation.

Professor Hans’ Brass Spiders: 4x Beast

This army is built primarily out of Mage Knight figures, but there are a few from other prepainted sets: Dungeons and Dragons and Dreamblade.  I repainted, touched up, and/or converted all of the figures in one way or another.

Professor Hans is a figure called “Gent” from the Dreamblade series of prepainted miniatures.  I repainted him with a brass colored integrated wheelchair.  In his hand he holds the Aetheric Impulse Controller for his Avatar, who can shoot its Aetheric Wave Gun at enemies that Hans has a particularly strong interest in.  Hans’ Avatar is a repainted Mage Knight figure.

Professor Hans’ Camel Backs: 2x Shooter

His brass spiders are early creations that use a spider’s brain to control their steam powered bodies.  They are Mage Knight figures that originally had riders.  I removed the riders, filled in the seats, added smoke stacks, and repainted them all.  These are Beast elements.

The Camel Backs are an early success with Hans’ use of the mammalian brain.  They carry steam boilers on their back and shoot cannons instead of spitting. These are Mage Knight figures repainted silver with brass highlights.  They are Shooter elements.

Professor Hans’ Turtle Men: 4x Blades

The Turtle Men use brass bodies controlled with the brain of a snapping turtle.  They are mixed Mage Knight figures, also repainted in a better brass color with matching color highlights.  They’re Blade elements.

Papa Bear is a giant steel mech controlled with the brain of a bear.  It’s a Dungeons and Dragons prepainted figure. Most of the paint is original, but I changed the highlights from copper colored to brass so they’d match the rest of the army.  This is a Behemoth element.

The Dragonfly combines Hans’ insect brain interface with a flying mech that uses his newer, smaller power sources.  It’s a flyer. This is also a Mage Knight figure that had a seat and a rider. I filled it in and repainted portions of the figure.

Now all I need is a stronghold!

Professor Hans’ Papa Bear: 1x Behemoth

Professor Hans’ Dragonfly: 1x Flyer

DBA Army III/67b: Early Hungarian

Soon after I started playing DBA again in about 2009, I decided that I wanted an Early Hungarian (III/67b) army.  It’s been a long journey since then, but finally my quest is complete!  I finished a double army just before Cold Wars.

Double DBA army III/67b; mixed manufacturers.
Early Hungarian knights by Essex and Black Hat (Gladiator).

I was attracted to this army for several reasons.  I am 1/4 Hungarian, and identify most closely with that part of my heritage. The composition of the army itself seems almost perfect for my tastes: 2x3Kn, 1x3Cv, 3x2LH, 3xSp, 2x3Ax or 3Bw, 1x2Ps. It’s one of the few Medieval combined arms armies I’ve seen with more than one Auxilia.  It also fits well with other armies I have from the same period: German, Leidang, Polish, Russian, and Mongol Conquest… even though I bought most of those armies only because they were good enemies of the Hungarians I didn’t have yet.

Cuman and Hungarian Light Horse by Black Hat (Gladiator)

My first attempt at building this army was purchasing a “not for the squeamish general” army pack from another gamer on the Fanaticus forums.  It had the proper composition, but as I should have expected, I didn’t like the figure selection very much. It was mixed manufacturers, but chosen based on whatever he had lying around and not based on what he thought the army should look like.  After not painting it for quite some time, I donated it to Mike Kaizar, who is still working on it.

Hungarian spearmen by Black Hat (Gladiator).

My second attempt came when Wargames Minis had a clearance sale on their Essex Miniatures packs. After long research discovered no good solution for Early Hungarians, I settled on buying a bunch of Essex later Hungarian figures that might work. They were so cheap, I bought two armies worth! But when it came time to actually paint them… I hated them. Closer inspection showed me that they were far too late for any part of the Early Hungarian list.

Early Hungarian bowmen by Black Hat (Gladiator)

By this time it was late 2012, and I needed this army for Cold Wars 2013.  After talking to David Kuijt, I settled on the figures shown here.  The General stands and a few of the other knights are Essex figures from my previous order.  The remaining knights, light horse, spears, bows, auxilia and psiloi are all Black Hat figures from their Gladiator range.  The Cavalry are a mix of Essex figures, Black Hat, and a few whose manufacturer I do not know but I happened to have on hand.

Early Hungarian cavalry by Black Hat, Essex, and others (unknown).

The Black Hat figures are not specifically sold as Hungarians, other than the knights with round helms. Many of them are from their general Feudal range, and some are from slightly inappropriate areas, but look good enough that I wanted to paint more of them.

Early Hungarian Psiloi by Black Hat (Gladiator).

I knew the primary heraldry I wanted to use was red and white, but I didn’t want another red and white army since it’s the most common color combination I have.  David told me that repeated heraldry wouldn’t be common in this period, but I am also not a fan of a widely varied, garish palette.  I decided to use a lot more yellow and yellow browns, and rounded out the palette with green. It’s definitely not red and white army I feared it would be.

Hungarian Auxilia by Black Hat (Gladiator).

I’m not sure if I prefer the green and the brighter reds I used here, but otherwise I’m quite happy with the color scheme. For the white on the shields, I used an “extremely off-white.”  It’s closer to beige than white, but in contrast with the surrounding colors it’s bright enough, and doesn’t add too much contrast. Looking at the shields, I’m reminded of Hoplite shield patterns more than garish Medieval heraldry.

I’m very happy with the way this army turned out.  After playing it in BBDBA and the campaign at Cold Wars, I also enjoy the way the army plays.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with all those Later Hungarian figures, since that army has so few spears compared to this one.

BRE Datsun 510

ABC Hobby BRE Datsun 510 #46 body on Tamiya M-05 chassis.

After smashing up the Honda S800 body too much, I got a replacement.  This is an ABC Hobby BRE Datsun 510, #46.  This one is closer to a 1/12 scale body, compared to the S800 and Mini bodies, which are 1/10 scale versions of smaller cars.

Brock Racing Enterprises (BRE) set up some Datsun 510’s for racing, and entered them in the 1971 and 1972 Trans-Am “2.5 Challenge” for smaller engined cars.  Datsun destroyed the competition both years (though Alfa tried to cheat to avoid their fate in 1971), and the series was shut down when the European manufacturers picked up their toys and went home crying.

The body shown here also comes with bumpers and better headlights, but I decided not to use any of them since I expected to beat it up racing anyway.  Unfortunately I must have scored the body when trimming the paint mask, because it almost immediately split right up the left front corner between the red and white areas.

Fitting the body over the wheels was a bit challenging, and required some creative trimming around the wheel wells to keep it from rubbing around corners.  Unfortunately the M-05 battery compartment pushes the battery wires into this body, which flexes it on whichever side the battery protrudes from.  It’s a tight fit, but it works.

Sakura S Zero

Sakura Zero S chassis with HPI Honda NSX GT body

In anticipation of On-Road racing at PT Raceway, I decided to get a second on road car so I could race in two classes instead of just one.  I chose the Sakura Zero S chassis from 3Racing because it looks very good for its price, it’s a kit, there are many replacement and hop-up parts available, and it gets good reviews.

The Sakura Zero S is an entry level version of the Sakura Zero chassis. The main differences are that the S version has plastic parts instead of aluminum; fiberglass instead of carbon fiber; gear diffs instead of ball diffs; and it costs about 1/3 as much.  It’s a 4 wheel drive touring car chassis with a twin horizontal plate design.

This was a very fun kit to put together.  Its plate chassis is very different than the other kits I’ve built recently: the Tamiya M05 and HPI Savage XS.  Unfortunately, the Sakura also suffered from Crappy Screw Syndrome, just like… well, apparently this is just like every RC kit everywhere.  This time, instead of starting out driving the 3mm screws straight in with a 2mm driver, I threaded every hold with a screw that had a larger 2.5mm head.  This destroyed my hands, but I stripped fewer screw heads (unfortunately more than zero). As much as I didn’t like the phillips head screws in the Tamiya kit… at least the heads didn’t strip easily.

Sakura Zero S chassis with HPI Honda NSX GT body

The chassis has very adjustable suspension geometry, but the stock dampers don’t allow unlimited adjustment of ride height. I doubt this will be a problem in the short term. It doesn’t look as durable as the M05, but it’s also not a giant block of plastic.  I think at the speeds I’ll be running at the track, it won’t matter.

Other than the screw heads, there are a few problems with the kit.  The first and most universally well known problem with the Zero S chassis is that the stock motor mount is inconvenient, because you can only access one of the motor screws by sticking your tool through a hole in your spur gear.  This is inconvenient with some pinion sizes, and impossible with smaller spurs.  There’s a vertical motor mount part available, but this requires you to also use a new top plate and flip your differentials to swap the side each belt runs on… and that causes your belt to run into your battery on the other side. This kit is not ideal if you’re planning on changing pinions often… but it’s still a lot better than changing pinions on the HPI Savage XS.

The other minor problem I have is that the turnbuckles seem to have undersized flats, making them difficult to turn without slipping.

For a body, I was in a hurry and couldn’t find anything I fell in love with, for sale at the same place as the chassis.  So, I settled for “acceptable and inexpensive” instead. This is an HPI Racing Honda NSX GT.  It retains a bit of the car’s distinct look, especially the air scoop on the rear roof.  Hopefully I won’t have any problem with traction roll, because I don’t think the scoop will last long if the car is upside down.

The body fits the chassis perfectly.  Figuring out where to drill the body mounting holes is a pain, though. You can’t drop the body onto the car and mark them until the posts are cut to approximately the right height, but you can’t cut the posts until the body is on the car to see where it sits.  I ended up measuring the body posts in relation to the center of the wheels, and transferring their locations onto the body using the center of the wheel cutouts as a reference point.  It worked, but it felt like there should be an easier way.

Since I’m going to race this instead of admire it on a shelf, I used the external headlight stickers instead of the internal light cans.  I think it’d look a lot better with the light cans… until I hit a wall and crack the body, in which case I’d rather have more room to repair it inside instead.

For electronics, I used what I had on hand: a 27T brushed motor and ESC I replaced in the RC10, and a Hobbyking Orange Rx Spektrum receiver.  I’ll start out with this slower setup, and once I like how I’m handling it (or once I burn out the motor) I’ll probably upgrade to 17.5T brushless. So far I don’t see hugely different times at the track between the three other cars I drive there (Tamiya M05 with stock 27T brushed; XXX-SCB with 17.5T brushless; RC10 with 17.5T brushless), so I expect the current limitation is my own driving skill more than the technology.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the first on-road race day on December 1, and I won’t be able to make it on the 15th either. Maybe they’ll run on-road on the 22nd, but if not I can make it on the 29th.

XXX-SCB: New Body

Losi XXX-SCB with body painted by Alan Ferrency

After a summer of bashing the XXX-SCB in the yard, and then rolling it over trying to tune it for racing at the track, the original ready-to-run body was cracked at the front shock corner, and generally really beat up.  I ordered a new transparent body to paint up myself, and here’s the result.

I don’t like modern, garish complicated paint jobs very much, so I went for a cleaner, simpler look.  The general contours of the colors was lifted from a real Lucas Oil Offroad Series pro buggy, but I used yellow instead of white.  I got the numbers printed at the same time I made decals for the RC10, but the rest of the stickers are for manufacturers whose parts are on the car.  I’m not a huge fan of the “rolling billboard” livery look, so I didn’t cover every possible surface with advertising, but I think the limited use of stickers add to the scale look.

At this point I have the car handling really well on the carpet track, I just need to get out on race day and see if I can manage to not crash for 5 minutes in a row.