Television is rather a frightening business. But I get all the relaxation I want from my collection of model soldiers.
Peter Cushing

Thursday, 25 August 2016

"I Kill Where I Wish"

"I kill where I wish and none dare resist. I laid low the warriors of old and their like is not in the world today. Then I was but young and tender. Now I am old and strong, strong strong."
― Smaug, The Hobbit

 No miniature collection is really complete until it has a dragon. I've attempted a couple before but lost interest before they were finished and came close with the rescue project on the Carnosaur. But this summer I rediscovered my mojo - Middle Earth Mojo, as it happens - and so I decided to finish off in a grand fashion.


This is the GW Middle Earth Dragon. It's been another of those on-off projects since before the kids were born.

Here's the final construction. As you can see there's the usual horrific gaps you get with large lead models. 

I'm quite happy with the gap filling on this one. As you can see, once undercoating the large ones on the haunches are more or less seamless. 

I also sculpted some new, shorter, blunter horns. The horns that came with the kit were quite long and I felt they spoilt the shape of the head - see here; I went with something that helped the bullish, squat look of the model.

I was also not a huge fan of the GW suggested colour scheme. Smaug was certainly red (with a jewel-encrusted underbelly) but the Lord of the Rings films tried to make everything look very natural. So I wanted a colour scheme with a certain level of verisimilitude. Luckily, Tolkien himself sketched what he though a dragon of his Middle Earth should look like:

So with the colour scheme set, time to crack out the airbrush. 

And here's the basecoats done

Then I started adding some dark glazes to shade:

And some lightter glazes to pick out specific scales

Then a red glaze to help with the fleshy, leatherly look of the wings and also to match the red of Tolkien's sketch. 

Red glaze in the mouth and Tamiya transparent red for the tongue. 

Final highlights on the skin

And then the horns and spines. 

And finished.

And a couple more shots with the good camera to let you see the colours more accurately. 

Dragon IIDragon III

Overall a nice little project to finish the summer on. Next up... Not quite sure, actually. Stay Tuned....

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Board game roundup

Myself and She Who Must Be Obeyed have been trying to get back into the habit of having a weekly game night with just the two of us and have also been having some friends round to play so this seems like a good time to do some potted reviews. 

Letters from Whitechapel

This is a classic of the hidden movement genre of game. One player is Jolly Jack, attempting to commit his vile crimes and get away from the other players, taking the role of the police. 

This is game of deduction and logic. Every time we've played it it has been very, very close and this one was no different. The only problem with this one is that it is very challenging puzzle and is not exactly what you would call a relaxing game. 

The view from Jack's end of the table

The components are absolutely gorgeous; the main board being an 1889 map of the Whitechapel district which is lovely to spend aged pouring over. The playing pieces are nicely turned wood making the whole thing a lovely tactile experience. 

This is great game that works well with two people but brilliantly with 3-5. 


This is another classic. In this case it's a co-op - it's all the players versus the game. You play the crew of the CDC trying to deal with outbreaks of disease around the world. 

The core of the game design is an engine which causes the diseases to accelerate like a snowball causing an avalanche. The players have to Marshall their resources and think about how to head off the rapidly advancing disaster. 
Things are not going well in the Far East

We've only played this once so we're just starting to get a handle on the nature of the decisions that need to be made; however it looks like a good one. 

The world is doomed! Head for the hills!

The components really work well at giving you the feel of planning a campaign on one of those big world maps you see in movies. The disease cubes being clear plastic is a nice touch as it adds to the modern feel of the game. 

My only small concern is that because the engine of the game - the AI, if you like, is driven by a fairly simple card mechanism, could it become slightly predictable? Only a few more plays will answer that question. 


This is simply fabulous. It's a co-op game but very different to Pandemic. Imagine Cluedo but with the dead man trying to finger the culprit. One of the players is the ghost of a murdered man in a Victorian mansion; the other players are psychics tasked with finding out what happened. The only problem is that the ghost can't speak - it can only send dreams. 

The possible suspects, locations and weapons. 

The dreams are art cards - and they really are little works of art - that the psychics have to link to the possible suspects, locations and weapons. We've played it with two people and are trying it with four this week: but this a great, great game. You should definitely get this - it works particularly well with a family as it shows exactly how well you can communicate with each other. 

The view from the afterlife

Roll for the Galaxy

We've played this a few time before. It is basically a stripped down 4x game where you are building a little galactic empire. As you can see from the photos, my empire in the most recent game was, frankly, crap. 

Seriously. Some tax breaks and a shipping contract to a pirate planet. Hardly Dune

The design of this game is incredibly elegant. The core dice rolling mechanism means that dice become workers, goods and currency all at the same time. It's a fast game as well it plays in about 45 minutes. 

The Empress of Known Space has a very neat playing area. And she won, damn her eyes. 

I would heartily recommend any of these games. 


Arrrrgh. Pay day is looming and I'm suffering from serious gamer's ADHD. The middle earth stuff is on hold til I've done the dragon which is an airbrush job; this makes it quite a serious undertaking and is enough to grind that little project to a halt for a while.

So it's new project time; and lo! paralysis has set in. The choices are:

Chariots for Favtvs Fvrivs
28mm Dune
Master and Commander style Napoleonic sail - either sails of glory or some second hand miniatures I've just spotted on eBay.
Back to the Normans and Saxons

Price wise all of those are roughly equivalent - apart from Sails of Glory unless I can find a starter set very cheap second hand; and unless I decide just to treat myself to the Floating Fat Man from the Dune range I've found.

So what do I do?

Any advice gratefully received as I am totally torn.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Great Goblin

Ever had one of those little projects that becomes more complated than you expected? I picked up a miniature of the Great Goblin in one of the £10 middle earth job lots I keep buying on eBay. I figured it would be a relatively quick job; after all, how hard can it be to paint Barry Humphries?

This is tricky one to paint. Because he's an entirely CGI character there's a few things which are difficult to replicate; mainly the slightly translucent skin.

In the event, I decided to use a variety of glazes to build the skin up over a dark wash. This allowed me to put in stretch marks, spots, veins and warts which would then appear to be under the final skin layer.

As always I mixed glazes using Vallejo's Galze Medium which is worth its weight in gold. First I'll show the finished article and then a few WIPs to show the build up the glazes.

Great Goblin

Great Goblin II

Great Goblin III

Great Goblin IV

And here you can see the various layers of glazes being built up.

And that's about it finished. Really very happy with this. Looking forward to the next little project...