Triumph Renovation part 2a: Warring States Chinese

To take advantage of Museum Miniatures’ January sale, I placed a large order for Warring States Chinese figures to bring my triple army up to date. So far I have painted up a lot of Bow Levy, and rebased my DBA 4Sp figures as Light Foot for Early Warring States.

All of the figures are Museum. The red guys were painted by JM, the rest by me.

After I finished painting up all the Bow Levy bowmen, I read the Meshwesh army list more closely and realized I should’ve gotten crossbowmen instead. I opted not to restart from scratch. I have about 5 more bow figures that I will eventually base as Skirmishers or Archers depending on what the army needs when I’m finished.

Newly painted Museum 15mm Warring States Chinese bow levy.

After rebasing, I got 16 stands of Light Foot out of my 12 stands of 4Sp and assorted spare spearmen. This is not quite enough for a triple Early Warring States army; it looks like I may need to buy a few more packs of spears or just pretend my halberdiers are light foot.

Rebased Warring States Chinese Light Foot, Museum Miniatures

JM’s basing didn’t match mine, and the paste he used ran off the sides of the metal bases, so I decided to rebase his 3Cb as proper Archers, and rebased a few Skirmishers for good measure.

Rebased Museum Miniatures Archers and Skirmishers

Running tally of Triumph Conversions

This post

  • Newly Painted: 12 elements; 36 figures (plus 5 not shown)
  • Rebased: 20 elements

Total

  • Newly Painted: 34 elements; 109 figures
  • Painted/Rebased: 7 elements; 8 figures painted
  • Rebased: 32 elements

 

Triumph Renovation part 1: Greek, Thracian, Macedonian, and Persian

I’ve started playing Triumph. After building a few armies out of my existing DBA figures, I decided to build up my armies to better work with Triumph. Depending on the army, this means either rebasing elements or painting new ones to increase the size of the force.  I’ve had to do a little of both, to get my Classical armies up to date.  Clearly I need to adjust my depth of field  and get some better lighting before I take too many more pictures.

I started with figures I had on hand that extend the armies I already have painted. My first batch was enough Greeks and Thracians to at least be able to field single armies.

Now that Greek Hoplite armies are mostly Heavy foot but with some Elite Foot, I need both more elements in total and some different elements to distinguish between Heavy and Elite.  I painted up some Essex Later Hoplite Greek figures wearing metal breast plates to represent Elite Foot, as well as a dedicated general and a few more linen armored units.  Everything is hand painted including the shields, but my decreasing eyesight is becoming apparent.  Along with my 12 Spartan Hoplites this is more than enough to field most Hoplite-heavy Greek armies or a Persian triple army mercenary Hoplite contigent.

Newly painted Essex Later Greek Hoplites, 15mm

The other major change in Greek armies was reclassification of light troops from Psiloi to Rabble.  I had 2 elements of Greek Psiloi that I rebased as Rabble, and eventually I painted some more to bring it up to 4 rabble. The paint jobs were close enough that none of the figures stand out, once they’re based consistently.  I also painted 3 elements of Thracian Light Foot to augment my Thracian army.

Thracian light foot in the front; Essex figures with maybe a few Old Glory? Rebased Greek Rabble in the rear; Essex 15mm
A combination of rebased and newly painted Greek Rabble: mostly Essex, some Old Glory.

Along with the Greek Rabble, I also painted a bunch of Javelin Cavalry for my Alexandrian Macedonian army. Most of these represent Thessalian Cavalry, but there’s also an element that is more plausibly Thracian.  This is a mix of Magister Militum (Chariot) figures and Essex 15mm. The size difference is apparent if you’re looking for it, but not so bad when they’re based consistently and with only two horses per element.

Newly painted Greek and Thracian cavalry for Alexander the Great. Essex and Magister Militum 15mm

Thinking a bit harder, I don’t remember what order I painted all these in, so I might’ve gotten some of it wrong.  In any case, I also needed way more Hypaspists for a triple Alexander the Great army, and my existing Hypaspist needed to be rebased as Raiders.  I could’ve chosen Pike, but I don’t yet have a full set of Alexandrian pike yet, so I decided to make the Hypaspists Raiders for variety.  These were Old Glory figures I got from JM unpainted.  I declined to paint even more Alexandrians looking like clowns, and chose more straightforward colors for their armor.  The shields and plumes are enough color for these elements. I also had a few elements that were previously “4Ax,” but the closest equivalent in Triumph is Greek Mercenary Peltasts (Light Foot); so, more rebasing…

Newly painted Alexandrian Hypaspists: Raiders; Old Glory 15mm
Rebased Hypaspists (Raiders) and Greek Peltasts (Light Foot); 15mm Essex

Next are some mostly rebased Persians, augmented with newly painted Light Foot. I had 4 stands of Persian 3Ax with identical figures on each set of 2 stands, as well as 6 more identical unpainted peltasts.  I painted the 6 remaining guys and rebased everything with different figures on each base for variety.  You can find the newly painted figures if you look hard enough, but the paint jobs are close enough to match well.  I also rebased a bunch of DBA 3Cv stands as Javelin Cavalry, including the general, who is no longer allowed to go into battle on a chariot.  Good for morale, bad for King Darius’ hemorrhoids.

Persian Light Foot; Essex 15mm. Mostly rebased, with the guy sticking his arm out to the right on each stand newly painted.
Rebased Persian Javelin Cavalry; 15mm Magister Militum (Chariot) and Essex.

At this point I have a lot of options for an Alexandrian Macedonian triple army in Triumph, and limited choices for Later Achaemenid Persians. I may pick up some more Light Foot figures for the Persians, but I have enough mounted troops for now.

Rebasing figures that were originally based on metal bases, attached with either super glue or epoxy, is basically not a problem at all. The figures can be removed easily with an X-acto chisel blade, and it gives me an opportunity to update my basing. I’m not sure how difficult it will be to remove figures from wooden bases.

Running tally of Triumph Conversions

  • Newly Painted: 22 elements; 73 figures
  • Painted/Rebased: 7 elements; 8 figures painted
  • Rebased Elements: 12 elements

Later Pre-Islamic Arabs; Alexandrian Macedonians

In preparation for posting images of newly painted figures, I’m catching up on some older pictures I never posted.

These figures were painted in 2013-2014, but I don’t think I ever posted pictures of them.

First is a Later Pre-Islamic Arab army I built for BBDBA. Most of the figures are Essex, I believe; but frankly I don’t completely remember.

Later Pre-Islamic Arab army, 15mm

Next are two stands of Companion Cavalry for Alexander the Great’s army.

Alexandrian Macedonian companion cavalry, 15mm Chariot (Magister Militum) miniatures

OpenForge: 3d Printed Dungeon Terrain

The availability of a large selection of models for wargaming and RPG terrain was a huge factor in deciding to purchase a 3d printer. Here are some examples of OpenForge dungeon tiles I’ve printed and painted.

OpenForge dungeon tiles and Carrion Crawler models printed in PLA.

Because OpenForge 2.0 “low wall” pieces weren’t available when I settled on what I was going to print, I decided to drop the wall height by 15mm everywhere. This makes things more visible in tight spaces while keeping it visually interesting, but unfortunately the doorways don’t line up perfectly.

I settled on using magnetized bases: each base has a spherical magnet at the edge of each 1″ square, which allows the pieces to align and stay aligned during use. It’s not a strong connection, but it works fine for single floor dungeons.

The first image is an encounter I set up for a D&D game I’m running with Ezra and some of his friends. This is the tower in Thundertree (from the Mines of Phandelver introductory adventure) some time after another group of adventurers came through and killed the dragon.  Carrion crawlers and insects now inhabit the area, preventing local loggers from using and restoring the tower.

A selection of painted and unpainted OpenForge dungeon tiles

Halloween 2018: Ezra’s Death Gun Costume

Ezra’s Death Gun costume

Another year, another Halloween costume!  This year Ezra chose the character Death Gun from the Anime series Sword Art Online II.

This one was supposed to be pretty easy: a mask, a cloak; maybe some arm coverings; he wasn’t allowed to bring costume weapons to school anyway.

Nothing is ever as easy as it’s supposed to be, though.

Death Gun reference image downloaded from tvtropes.com

We started with a foam head from the craft store, and a cool material called Sculpt-a-Mold.  This is basically a mix of paper pulp and plaster. After mixing water to form a pasty consistency, you can form arbitrary shapes out of it. Because of the plaster, it dries in only half an hour; but the paper fibers make it much less brittle than plain plaster.

After many iterations of shaping and sanding, we identified a few fatal flaws with the approach.  The mask was relatively heavy, but it was still too brittle to attach straps securely to it.  More importantly, starting with a head-sized base meant that the mask fit too tightly on Ezra’s face, making it impossible to breathe or even open his mouth.

The abandoned Sculpt-a-Mold mask

Solving this problem turned out to be a great excuse to get a 3d printer.  There was a model available on Thingiverse available, so all we needed to do was print, assemble, and paint it.

Even 3d printers that work well are a bit fiddly and require adjustment, experimentation, and maintenance to produce good results. I didn’t start printing this mask until I was confident I’d get good results, and overall, it succeeded. I didn’t have any completely failed prints, but there was a bit of underextrusion in the chin pieces, which led to a piece breaking off on Halloween night.

3d printed Death Gun mask based on a model from Thingiverse

The lenses were thin plastic from packaging material, painted with Testors transparent red paint.  We just glued them in, instead of using the lens holder pieces included in the 3d model. The mask itself was glued together using 5 minute epoxy, primed grey, and painted with craft acrylics.  I didn’t make any effort to smooth the surface prior to painting, and it turned out fine.  The printing layers aren’t really visible, but the polygonal facets of the 3d model can be seen in the finished product.

3d printed Death Gun mask

The cloak was made from a pattern and fabric found at Jo-Ann Fabrics. We tried several techniques to get arm wraps like Ezra wanted, but they didn’t work well, so we abandoned that.  Under the cloak, he wore all black, with the black strap chest harness we made for the Gaara costume.

This wasn’t the most satisfying costume project, but it turned out well,

Just a Motorcycle

Just a motorcycle, looking like a motorcycle should. It’s perfect for an urban commute, but I’m not planning to ride on highways much.

I was a bit concerned about the kids getting bad ideas when they turn 16, but I learned that anything Dad does is inherently uncool anyway, so no worries.

2011 Suzuki Tu250x; Suzuki Gel seat, custom tank badge.

NERF Mod and Repaint: Ezra’s Velocity Mod

This spring, Ezra had an idea for a NERF blaster mod: graft a battery powered flywheel onto a barrel extension, to accelerate darts shot from a spring-powered blaster.  This is the result.

In-progress shot of the accelerator mod

We cut off the front of a Rebelle flywheel blaster and part of a Modulus barrel extension, and joined them by epoxying them to a plastic bulkhead.  Each half was attached separately, so the whole thing could be disassembled and reassembled easily using the original screws.  The most challenging part was keeping parts aligned when joining to the bulkhead, to maintain a straight path for the dart.  In retrospect, it probably would’ve been easier if we had temporarily installed the internal barrel parts and used a dowel to keep everything in alignment.

Internals, showing the switch placement, battery pack, flywheel, and front barrel segment.
Mod assembled and fit to a blaster, prior to painting

After constructing the mod, Ezra also wanted to repaint it to match, as well as repainting a blaster to match.  He wanted a bit of a “postapocalyptic junk” aesthetic, so we chose a rusty brown and applied metallic highlights. The bright blue and orange parts were maintained for safety reasons.

Repainted barrel accelerator mod, disassembled; flywheel and battery pack visible at top
Repainted blaster, barrel, and shield parts

Now I just need a shot of the finished product!

After the glue joint broke the first time, we added screwed-on metal braces to hold the halves together.  Next he wants a better stock and a spring power mod in the same blaster.

 

Halloween 2017: Ezra’s Gaara Costume

Woohoo, I’m not an entire year late yet!  Since I have some newer projects I’d like to post, here’s an older one I haven’t gotten to yet.

Gaara costume
Ezra as Gaara
Gaara
Gaara

Ezra’s Halloween costume for 2017 was Gaara: a character from the Anime/Manga series Naruto.  The main props we needed to build for this costume were his sand gourd, and the leather bandolier. The clothing portions were all done with street clothing for simplicity.

Here are a few pictures of the finished costume, with a few more showing how it was constructed and made to work.

Gaara costume, backGaara manipulates sand, and so he always carries with him a giant gourd-shaped container made of sand. This prop defines the character, but it’s huge and potentially unwieldy.  Construction was theoretically simple: use paper mache.  However, it wasn’t easy.

As a base, we used punching ball balloons, chosen because they’re larger and thicker than ordinary balloons. For our first few attempts, we taped the balloons together before applying paper mache.  This was a problem when one of the balloons deflated, and the half-finished shell shrank and wrinkled.  Extracting the bad half and replacing it didn’t work well, so we eventually ended up building up the second balloon separately and attaching them with masking tape and then paper mache after the shell was hard.

Gaara's sand gourd prop
Gaara’s sand gourd prop

The cork on top was a natural cork from the craft store, and the lip was formed using Crayola Model Magic, which is basically an air-dried clay with the consistency of foam.  It’s easy to work with, light, and takes paint well.

The whole giant peanut was painted tan, and then the seals were painted on after tracing the outline from a stencil, and cracks were hand-drawn.

Gourd harness
Test fitting the gourd harness. It’s usually worn under his shirt.

After the gourd was completed, it was obvious that the decorative pleather bandolier would not be strong enough to support it without it sliding around and looking horrible.  To solve this problem, I constructed a harness out of leftover nylon straps and buckles.  The picture here shows Ezra trying on the harness for fit. In actual use, the harness went under his black shirt, and the attachment buckle went through a small hole in the shirt.

Gaara costume, side view
The leather bandolier and buckles are slightly clearer here

The buckle was sewn to the red sash around the gourd, and clipped onto the harness.  This made it removable, so he could take it off at school, and supported the weight completely without putting any stress on the leather bandolier.

The leather bandolier was not difficult: I made a pattern out of paper, cut, and sewed it up.  The multiple matching metal buckles came from a snakeskin leather purse from the thrift store, and were hot-glued into place.

The pleather came from one of our many trips to Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, and the white sash and foot wraps were muslin cloth. He rounded it out with red hair dye and Halloween face paint for the eye liner. The forehead tattoo worked better with acrylic paint than cheap Halloween face paint.

No User Serviceable Parts Inside

It used to be that electronic devices were printed with the warning, “No user serviceable parts inside.” That was never true, and it still isn’t. They’ve stopped printing this on most devices, but not because it isn’t true.

Instead, they’ve eliminated any obvious way to disassemble the device. This prevents people from hurting themselves if they’re skilled enough to use a screwdriver, but not skilled enough to avoid shorting a capacitor and blowing themselves up. Luckily, it doesn’t prevent people from learning how to repair things themselves.

Ezra’s hand-me-down iPod had a failing battery. Instead of buying a new one, or paying to have the battery replaced, we got him a battery replacement kit for Christmas, and shared the experience of disassembling and repairing the device.

No User Serviceable Parts Inside?
Ezra unscrews an RF shield

The procedure went smoothly, but not perfectly. Unfortunately the home button did not function after we were finished with it, but Ezra wasn’t bothered by this, since he already uses an on-screen home button. He declined my offer to order another replacement part, and now he knows what the inside of an iPod looks like.

 

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.