Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Servo Skull.

The eye socket lights are just placeholders in this shot.

Here's a project I've been playing with for a while. Using an old Lindberg skull kit and some other bits and bobs. The Imperial Aquilas are made using Instant Mold pressed onto the GW luggage tag and a vintage Predator tank hatch. Casting them out of green stuff allows them to be bent easily over the shape of the skull. The hoses are electrical conduit and a flexible part of a barbeque lighter. The connecting rings are PVC pipe and plastic hemisphere stick ons, the same ones I used on my Landstrider build. The hook latch on the front is carved from plasticard.

Still lots of work to do on it inluding a purity seal and lenses for the sockets. I'll be wiring the eyes to have red LEDs and eventually I'd like to convert it into a desk lamp.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Freakin' Awesome Network Interview.

Check out my answers to 10 Questions on the Freakin' Awesome Network:

Plus there's a Twitter contest to win some great comics!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Art of Chelsea the Chainsaw Cheerleader.

Art by Phibbz Abando. Colors by Brian Roe.

Chelsea is set to be our second miniature if we succeed in our Kickstarter goal. Please help!
Zombie Plague Kickstarter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zombie Plague Crissy Hot-Rod Concept Art

Just a quick post of the concept art for Crissy Hot-Rod from my game Zombie Plague. I'm currently running a Kickstarter campaign to create a comic and revamped rules for ZP. The first miniature sculpted for ZP will be based on this concept art.

I'll be posting new art as I get it and in the meantime check out the Kickstarter campaign:
Zombie Plague

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mummies and Pterro-Man from Forge of Ice.

My northern brother Alex Bates recently sent me a package of his newest Forge of Ice minis to check out. The Forge has some of the most creative minis going as they seem to be following some dark logic and twisted narrative of Alex's imagination. He's making up a story with these, he just hasn't let us in on it yet.

First up in this batch are four creepy Nyarlathotep possessed mummies. These poor suffering buggers are being torn apart by sprouting tentacles and don't seem to be enjoying it very much. These are sculpted to a true 25mm scale so are a bit small compared to other miniatures. But they match up perfectly with the pre-painted Arkham Horror minis so I can see them being useful with these.

Painting these was a blast. Basic damp-brushing then Citadel Washes followed by picking out more detail with simple layers. A coat of 'Ardcoat gives the tentacles some slime.

The possessed mummies with a couple of Arkham residents.

Basic attacking with tentacle.

Tentacle with mouth and nasty little teeth.

This fellow seems resolved to his fate.

And the creepy crawler mummy. Being a fan of Resident Evil
I decided he needed a massive eyeball popping out of his back.

You ever have one of those days?

Next up is one of the Pterro-men. From Alex's description:
"The Pterro-Men rule whatever parts of the Lost World that they inhabit, using their mystical/mental powers to enslave the brutal prehuman races that inhabit the land..."

This flying terror has pulp villain written all over him. With his sinister and commanding pose I imagine him ordering forth great flocks of pterosaurs and quetzalcoatlus to attack foolish interlopers. Why? Because I imagine stuff like that all the time is why. Jeeze...

I love being a miniatures hobbyist in this day and age because we have so many choices for interesting miniature subjects. Alex is keeping this idea going by creating some very personal miniatures and sharing them with us.

Check out The Forge of Ice miniatures here: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Warbots Destro Walkers.

In 1984 Grenadier Models Inc. was producing some of my favorite miniatures. I was just getting into Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu and Grenadier had both covered with their Dragon Lords line and the official CoC miniatures. I used to get the Grenadier Bulletin and stare with covetous eyes over the assortment of new minis, read every word of the adventure scenarios, and groan at the unfunny cartoons. Getting to go to my local game store was next to impossible so I would often re-read these bulletins over and over, memorizing certain photos or drawings and instilling them into my personal mythology.

One of the Grenadier Bulletins that I most remember was dated November 1, 1984 and contained a small article stating "Robots Invade!" The grainy black and white photo included with the story showed two insectile robots that seemed to be peering down at a small tank or hovercraft in front of some oddly out of time buildings that looked like something out of Ireland in the dark ages. The article explained that these two walkers were the beginning of the Warbots range and that there were rumors that other game companies were interested in created giant robot games as well. Oh boy, the industry scuttlebutt back then was fierce.

The article from The Grenadier Bulletin.

The Warbots designs and setting were the brainchild of John Dennett, at the time long known as one of the industry's best sculptors of fantasy miniatures, and were such a complete departure from his normal sculpting that these came as a bit of a shock to me. The designs were widely varied from the strange amalgams of the Activoids, the previously mentioned Runner Pods, and the mecha that I'll be talking about here, the Destro Walkers.

There were two boxes of Warbots released, The Runner Pod Attack Team and The Armored Destro Squad. The Armored Destro Squad contained three Destro Walkers and a much smaller Type IV Battle Trooper (this little fella will be discussed in a future review). The three Destro Walkers were meant to be very large walking mecha that could mount varied load-outs of weapons depending on their usage.

Much like the destroids from Macross all of these walkers shared the same leg sections. Although this must have helped somewhat with miniature production it also worked within the design framework of giant robot design from Japan. The torsos and arms also implied a modular system so that a gamer could create the weapons load-out that they wanted.

The three designs included in the Armored Destro Squad are as follows:


Code Name: Devastator. Armed with dual cannons, a long range missile rack on its back, and a battle claw this walker appears to be useful for long range bombardments. The front seems to have a huge radiator system which might be useful for long range units that don't require as much frontal armor.


Code Name Pulverisor. Armed with a gatling gun and and larger single barreled cannon. This walker seems to be more heavily armored and more of a close assault unit. It is designed to go in all guns blazing with a fast firing rotary cannon for quicker units and a large bore tank gun for more heavily armored foes.


Code Name Eliminator. This walker again appears to be a long range bombardier with a arm mounted pod of swarm missiles, the lovely kind you see streaking through the sky before any Macross engagement, plus three cannon which seem to be battleship weight weapons. Although the claws on both the Devastator and Eliminator could be used in close combat I also see them as useful for loading munitions on these walkers.

One of the super cool things about the original Warbots sets were the filler sheets that explained paint schemes for the various Warbot units. I chose the Tigersharks scheme of overall yellow with black and red trim. I used some microscale decals to add some unit markings and even attempted a shark's mouth marking on the Pulverisor gatling. Unfortunately this decal was really too small too look correct but would have fit right in with the Tigersharks' markings.

The Warbots line was originally designed for micro-armor scales but I think that they work equally well with 15mm minis. They are very cleanly sculpted which makes them a breeze to paint and gives lots of surface area for graphics or camo schemes. And the modular design allows them to be modified or converted easily. It would be really useful if the arms and torsos could be bought separately at some point to allow for other load-out combinations.

With Combine Infantry from OGRE Miniatures.
With 15mm Titan Marines from Rebel Minis.
I scored an original box of these, thanks to The Dozing Dragon from The Lead Adventure Forum, and was amazed at how crisp the castings were from twenty eight years ago. They are very smooth and even, something that the sculptors of Battletech miniatures struggled with during the same period. It's pretty amazing to see how John Dennett could switch from excellent biological to excellent technical sculpting without missing a beat. I guess he's just that good.

All of the original Warbots miniatures have been re-released by Mirliton in Italy and can be found here. Thanks to Stefano from Mirliton for making these available again and to John Dennett for his support.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Terror of Shindig Sandbar Now Available!

From the depths of a radioactive ocean comes a terrifying hybrid straight from your worst nightmares! 
SEE! Part Corpse! Part Fish! All terror! 

SEE! Beautiful young women ravaged by undead creatures from the sea! 

HEAR! The swinging rock and roll sounds that all the kids are crazy for!

Nameless Design Miniatures presents: The Terror of Shindig Sandbar!

Here we see the fetching zipper option. Available at checkout.
Based on my love I of black and white monster movies I have sculpted this homage to the creatures from the Horror of Party Beach. This movie dares to ask the question: How can you defeat mutated fishmen that seem to be immune to bullets and basic common sense? Answer: Sodium! And although it's not logical it's really a lot of fun.

The costumes for Horror of Party Beach seemed to be made from garbage bags and novelty store monster gloves, topped off with papier mache heads. The actors inside must have looked through the teeth of the head as they hunched around stalking nubile young women and drunks.  

These crazy monster minis can be used as deep one stand ins, atomic era fiends, or simply for a guy trapped in a monster suit. The Terror mini is 38mm from the bottom of the foot to the top of the fin and comes with a 40mm base. I'll even sculpt a zipper on the back if you want one!

Price is 8.00 USD plus shipping and handling. S&H for The US and Canada is 2.00 USD and International is 4.00 USD. Please click on the Paypal Button to pay with Paypal or a credit card. Email me at hellbox45@hotmail.com with any questions.

Miniature + Shipping
Would you like a zipper?

Just for fun here's a Horror of Party Beach tribute by Indianapolis punk legends Sloppy Seconds.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some New Stuff from Gen Con 2011

Just a quick post to show off some of the great new minis from Mongoose for the Judge Dredd Miniature game. 

If you read my last blog post about painting Citi Def troopers for John Blanche Block you'll remember that I ended by hoping that Mongoose would do some new CD troopers. Well apparently the scryers at Mongoose heard my plea because they have created a brilliant new set of Citi Def heavy weapons troopers.
The set includes a Citi Def Trooper with a heavy spit gun and his loader as well as a missile launcher trooper with her loader. Each loader is armed with a spit gun as well as ammo for the heavies. The heavy spit gunner comes in two pieces and assembles into a dynamic yet sturdy looking model. The missile launcher trooper, also in two pieces, is a female who wears what appears to be a blast skirt and is posed in a nicely dynamic pose. One of the elements of these models that really appeals to me is the authentic 2000AD design of helmets, knee pads, etc. These troopers really seem like inhabitants of Mega City One and not just random sci-fi folks. And each figure has a raised "CD" marking which will make painting them even easier.
Also from Mongoose is a new mini of the infamous Judge Cal. Well sculpted and imperious this megalomaniacal menace to Mega City One will be a great part of an assassination based scenario. Rumors of a Judge Fish mini have also been floating around.

It was a great Gen Con this year and I'll be posting pics of the minis that I picked up as I complete them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Citi-Def Squad for John Blanche Block

Just a quick post to show my recently finished Citi-Def squad for either Gangs of Mega City One or the newer Judge Dredd Miniatures game. I picked up two sets of GoMC1 as well as one of the Street Gang expansions for 5.00 a piece about three years ago at Gen Con. I figured that the minis would be useful for random sci-fi bad guys and they were a good price overall. I've been using them as examples on several blog posts but never sat down to finally paint some.

Here's what I learned from working with these minis:
They are not very well thought out at all.

Although I love the idea of modular miniatures based on the Judge Dredd comics these minis really don't capture the design style of 2000AD. Sure they have knee and shoulder pads and some of the guns look like they should but the biggest issue is that they don't want to go together in a way that looks good at all. Trying to get these Citi-Def troopers to look like they are actually holding their spug guns correctly was going to take a lot more time than I was willing to invest. And the poses are very static overall even if you use the various arms and leg combinations. 

One thing I do like about them is the inclusion of two helmeted heads in each set that can be used to make Citi-Def troopers so I set about making some for my first city-block The John Blanche Block. Even this proved to be a bit more work than I cared to put into them. The mold lines are brutal and the previously mentioned wonky parts fit made them a pain to assemble.

I painted them in red as that always seemed to be Blanche's favorite color when he was painting for Games Workshop. I was planning to do more text painting on them, which is one of my favorite stylistic ideas from the Dredd comics, but honestly I couldn't be bothered. So they get a quick CD on the helmet and then off to the Block War.

As a fan of Bob Naismith I'm not sure what caused these to end up so badly. Mongoose seemed to have some plastic production problems with their Starship Troopers line as well so I'm going to assume that Mr. Naismith turned in lovely sculpts that were changed drastically in the casting.

Maybe next time we'll get some Citi-Def troopers from Mongoose that really look the part. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Messing Around with Instant Mold.

So Cool Mini or Not carries a product called Instant Mold that promises to help you create pretty much any bit the you'll ever need for miniature modeling. Having some experience with metal and resin casting I was at first skeptical that this would work well at all. Boy was I wrong.

I have been using green epoxy putty for a while to replicate small details on miniatures like amulets or purity seals. This can be a hit or miss process since the putty likes to stick to the mold and often details can be very soft. Instant Mold has several great properties including a tenacious un-stickiness. The only putty I tried it with that would even stick while uncured was Aves Apoxie Sculpt and even this released immediately once it was cured. I did tests with Kneadatite green stuff, Procreate, and Apoxie Sculpt and they all released perfectly once cured.

Instant Mold comes in a pack of separate bars. Each one is plenty to replicate a small part and you can combine them for larger bits. Basically you soak the Instant Mold in boiling water for two minutes. Take it out of the water and dry it off. This helps to keep water from making distortions in the mold. Then you can press the Instant Mold over a part for a flat piece or wrap it around for a complete casting. The basics of this are shown in the following video. But be warned: This dude's knife handling is flinch inducing.

So after ordering a pack of Instant Mold from Cool Minis Or Not, I set about seeing how much cool stuff I could make with it.

I started out with a Capital assault rifle from Warzone. I wrapped the gun in IM and then put it into the freezer to set up. A few minutes later the mold was ready to be split. Since the putty is translucent I was able to see my XActo knife blade as I cut the mold. Be careful with this step! I can see a lot of cut fingers and thumbs coming from this. And you want to be careful so you don't damage your original.

Once I had the mold I used Aves Apoxie Sculpt to cast the rifle. I filled the mold with a little more putty than I thought I would need and squeezed it to form the part. Try not to twist the mold and keep your pressure even. This squeezing will produce a huge amount of flash but it tends to be very thin. One of the reasons that I use Apoxie Sculpt is that it is very sand-able once cured. This is especially important for hard edged mechanical parts.

A gang member from Gangs of Mega City One
Once painted the gun looks pretty good. I can see this being very useful for special weapons and for older bits that are hard to come by.

The next part came from a little Tiki fellow from a magnetic skill game. The sculpting on these pieces is very sharp and clean and this helps when making a part with Instant Mold.

I cast some of these in Procreate and used them to make a pulp inspired base. Casting architectural parts is one of the most suitable uses for Instant Mold. Toys, keychains, jewelry, or knick knacks can all be used for creating small detail bits for larger buildings as well as for miniature bases.

I've heard a couple of folks discussing the possibility of using Instant Mold to copy entire miniatures. I decided to give it a shot using one of my own sculptures of a cult leader and his evil Cthulhu cult sword. 

This mold was more difficult to cut and had some problems with trapped air and parts that didn't fill in. Since this mini is such a simple design this wasn't a huge issue but it would be a real pain with a more complex miniature.

A Cthulhu Cult Leader surveys the ruins of Tiki Island.

Besides the ethical issues, using Instant Mold to create whole miniatures is frankly too much of a hassle to do much. I'm glad that I can use it with my own sculpts to give me an idea of what a painted version will look like or to replicate parts that I will need several of. I also imagine it will be useful for texture stamps. But it's really a pain and doesn't create a detailed enough piece. 

The final bits that I created were shoulder guards and a shield for an Imperial Champion. The splinter guard shoulders are from a Games Day limited edition mini and the shield is a Storm Shield from a vintage Thunder Hammer Terminator. I cast the shoulder guards as solid pieces and then ground out the inside with a Dremel tool. The shield was cast flat and then sanded to the thickness that I wanted.

Overall I was very impressed with Instant Mold and for 13.00 bucks it is a value, especially since it can be reused indefinitely. It is best used for small details that can be cast in one piece but even two part molds can be made to work with a bit more effort. For the scratchbuilder, convertor, or sculptor it provides a very quick way to replicate parts and should be added to your hobby toolbox.

Check out some of the other stuff I've made with Instant Mold:
Crackle Texture Bases
Imperial City Base

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Trash Bash 2011 Final Results.

First off a big thanks to the participants, sponsors, and judges who helped to make Trash Bash 2011 possible. It has been inspirational to see how contestants have solved the challenge of using a discarded deodorant container to create a vehicle. And it's been a lot of fun to read the back stories and parts lists that accompany all of these models. Check the comments box below for links to each contestant's blog or website for more information on each entry.

Great work everyone!

First Place: William Burke- B86 DROF Motors Road Utility Surface Buggy

Judges really responded to the completeness of concept for this vehicle and its somewhat odd configuration. The final paintjob ties it all together and the backstory of a beleaguered Quar named G'wible really added to the concept of the vehicle. William used the clear, green plastic of the deodorant container to great effect and his use of decals looks realistic and well thought out.

Second Place: Ward Shrake- Russian Heavy Hovercraft Tank and German Scout Car

Ward created two models for his final entry and the level of finish on both vehicles is amazing. The back story for these models not only assassinates Joseph Stalin but also implies a future of man portable beam weapons. Ward is truly a mad scientist of modeling, using heat tools to fuse plastic and "Sharpie Juice" and model glue to color and texture his creations.

Third Place: Duke Dreal- Pirate Hovertank

This entry was created in the true sprit of trash bashing. Other than a few Hirst Arts castings the whole thing is cleverly constructed out of household refuse. The paint scheme and design concept are pure Star Wars and the tank fits right into a game of Star Wars Miniatures. Duke has used a stockpile of discards to create a really useful gaming piece.

Honorable Mentions:

It was exceedingly difficult to choose only three winners for this contest so I'd like to also recognize the other contestants and their entries. Everyone single one is inspirational in its use of trash bashing techniques and overall creativity. (The following are listed in no particular order.)

Clarke Payne- Yiksossi Reaver Raiding Skimmer:

Tom Perrin- The Shark Amphibious Assault Vehicle:

Larry Hammer- The Coarse Hare River Gunboat:

Jess Carver- Star Frontiers Explorer:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Retro Review 1: Chainsaw Warrior with Reaper

When I first got into the wargaming hobby I was young and constantly broke. My 1969 Chevelle Malibu took any extra cash I had and extended sorties into various gaming arcades took the rest. So when new miniatures came out I was often without funds to pick them up. And prior to the internet, ordering miniatures from Citadel, all the way in England for crying out loud, was a daunting task indeed. My local game store did a fine job of trying to get new product but often by the time I got there all the cool stuff was gone. All that was left were the many packs of Space Marine heavy weapons that all seemed to have conversion beamers. I still believe that there was a severe overcasting of conversion beamers in Nottingham and they made sure to secretly pack away as many of the as they could to The US. So many dopey conversion beamers.

But I'm off topic. My idea for Retro Reviews is so that I can revisit miniatures that I used to to have or that I could never get my hands on. I'm a better painter now than I was at nineteen so I'm looking forward to painting these figures without the stress that I used to feel. Time to have some fun and check out some classic miniatures!

I'll be starting out with a Chainsaw Warrior from Citadel Miniatures. This miniature was sculpted by Bob Naismith in 1987. It is one of four Chainsaw Warrior minis that Citadel produced. They were created to support the solo-play game Chainsaw Warrior but were sort of shoehorned into Warhammer 40,000 as Imperial Guard troops since there was actually no need for them to be used to play Chainsaw Warrior. First lesson of making miniature games: make miniatures necessary to play the game.

After picking up this little fellow pretty cheaply on Ebay, I took a long look over it to see what kind of shape it was in and how I might improve it. And other than sharpening up the edges on the shoulder armor and reaper cannon I didn't have to do much since Naismith had created such a really impressive miniature. The sculpting is on par with other things that Citadel was producing in the day. The details are a bit soft and there is some interesting anatomy with the gloved hands. But honestly this mini is still really groovy.

The proportions and stance of the Chainsaw Warrior are outstanding. The reaper cannon that he carries is instantly recognizable as what it is, basically a big autocannon for making bad things die. The mini is also equipped with a combination headset microphone and camera (a pretty obvious inspiration from Aliens), two pistols, a communications device, and a canteen. The overall look is very 2000 AD which makes sense as the lead comic artist on Chainsaw Warrior was Brett Ewins of Rogue Trooper fame. Naismith does an excellent job of capturing the 2000 AD vibe while creating a character that works within the Chainsaw Warrior storyline.

The mini was cast in a lead based alloy and this helped to remind my of why I hate lead miniatures. My needle file gummed up just like in the 80s, my X-Acto knife stuttered along seam lines instead of gliding smoothly. And I know that a lot of detail has been softened over the years by simple abuse. All that being said the mini was in pretty good shape. Overall cleaning was followed by a matte black undercoat.  I wanted to use all military colors but still break up the figure so that armor was clearly defined from cloth, boots from pants, etc. I settled on a mix of olive drab, black, and urban camo for the BDU pants since for some reason all super soldiers in the 80s had to wear camo pants. I went with an olive for the gun housing since I wanted it to look like it was made of various types of materials. Drybrushing the whole thing chainmail would just be boring anyway.

A face only a mother, or drill sergeant could love.

One of my favorite parts of this mini is the face. Overly craggy and almost Neanderthal this guy seems like someone who has been around a battlefield or two. His crew cut is easy to paint and the headset really makes him seem like he's on a mission.

I built a quick base using a piece of corrugated plastic, a plastic tube and some wires to make a broken electrical conduit, and some scattered shell casings made from aluminum tube. Since the Chainsaw Warrior game takes place inside of an abandoned skyscraper I didn't want to add foliage or grass. It adds to the post apocalyptic feel anyway.

Overall this miniature still holds up as a tough as nails super soldier type character. It is big and bulky and wouldn't look out of place with today's standard "super heroic scale" minis. I'm looking forward to tracking down his three other brothers, even the sort of goofy Timescape version, and giving them matching paintjobs. It's been great to finally find a miniature that I've wanted since 1987 and have the time and skill to enjoy painting it.

Go deep into your lead pile and look around. Find some of those orphaned minis of yesteryear that you might have forgotten about. I think you'll be surprised by how much fun they still are.

Next Time:
Winners of Trash Bash 2011 Announced!