Oscar Night SciFi Superfest 2018

It’s that time of year again already! M trekked across the street for her annual Oscar party, and I settled in for some science fiction flicks that I’ve somehow managed to never see. First up?

Primer (2004).

Primer must be one of the most recent movies I’ve ever watched on Oscars night, but it’s still been on my list for entirely too long. If you’re not already aware, it’s a super-smart independent time travel film. This particular DVD has been sitting on my shelf for the better part of a decade; I knew it was complex and intelligent, so I didn’t want to sit down and only half watch it, as I knew I’d get lost doing that.

I’m glad I gave it my attention. Partly because it was really solid, and I liked it a lot, but also because I’d heard right… this movie had some serious expectations for its audience. I paid attention throughout, and I’m no dummy, but I still checked online the next day to make sure I’d caught everything (I did pretty well if you’re curious). Really glad I finally got around to seeing this.

This is the first year that I actually invited other people to join me for Oscar night. Life being what it is I still ended up mostly soloing the first and last films, but I had a couple other viewers for the most anticipated movie of the evening:

Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity (1985)

Daria and Tesa, ready to fight back.

This was pretty much just as amazing and bad as we all expected it to be. Chunks of plot seemed to exist purely so they could justify the title, and it was way beyond cheesy. High points included the bickering androids using ‘robot voices’ to accuse one another of shirking work and tattling, the completely random insertion of a ‘phantom zone’ (full of zombies, for the record, and no phantoms at all), and a villain that – from about 2/3 of the camera angles – looked like an uncanny-valley clone of Christian Bale.

Creepy, right?

The plot is ostensibly a ‘most dangerous game’ sort of deal, but it takes most of the movie to get to the game itself, and the main hunt only lasts about 20 minutes. We were all very entertained, though, so we’ll call this one a win this time around.

Daria leads Rik back to the castle, after a long night of setting up two traps that will accomplish little to nothing…

Silent Running (1972)

This is probably the youngest I’ve ever seen Bruce Dern. He cares for one of the Earth’s last forests, in a dome attached to a spacecraft. The other 3 members of his crew don’t care so much, and when they receive orders to jettison and nuke the forests so that their ship can be converted into a commercial freighter, poor Bruce is the only one not thrilled with the orders.

Careful, Bruce. You’re going to start freaking them out.

Tragedies occur, things go south, and Bruce is left trying to care for a single surviving domed forest with the help of three squat little bots; he renames them Hughie, Dewey, and Louie. Tortured and alone, he eventually reprograms the drones for medical needs, poker playing, and other useful skills, and goes a little stir crazy while he’s at it.

I liked this one as well (it was a good year for SciFi night), and I’ve been meaning to watch it for ages. It’s on tons of ‘you need to watch these’ science fiction film lists, but it always got bumped for other things. No more! It wasn’t exactly a fast-paced film so it may not be a great fit for everybody, but it certainly feels timely (environmental issues haven’t exactly faded into oblivion over the last few decades), and was a fine closing to 2018’s Oscar Night SciFi Superfest. Here’s to next February!


SAGA – Viking Hirdman

February brought me my new Saga books along with some viking dice, wire spears, and a couple of new units. The wire spears meant I finally finished assembling all of my previous units (I’d been holding out, avoiding those soft metal spears they came with).

All of this also got me jazzed to paint something for the local shop’s historical miniature painting contest, so I picked out a hearthguard that was already prepped and primed and got cracking.

You’ll notice I’m also using my citadel painting handle for the first time. I picked it up a little while ago, but I’ve only painted cars for gaslands since then so this was my first real opportunity to try it out; colour me impressed. Even using the non – beveled Renedra base, it kept a good grip throughout the project.

Flat Earth for the ground, Red Leather for the helmet, Golden Yellow for the hair/beard, and a Game Colour orange for the tunic. It was a very bright orange (I think I’ve previously just used it for Escher gangers), and I had doubts right up until the final clear coat.

The pants are a Heavy Opaque Blue (I love the coverage the heavy Game Colours provide) and mostly Gory Red on the shield.

Oily steel for the metals, and I mixed some of my Red Ochre pigment into my gore to get it a bit chunkier and I liked the results; I’ll definitely do that again.

And that’s my first Viking Hirdman, all painted up and waiting for me to paint up some fitting compatriots.

Gaslands – Mazda RX-3 and ’65 Corvette

I was so happy with the results of my Vallejo pigment experiment that I picked up an additional pigment (dark red ochre) to use with my next two cars, a Mazda RX-3 from the Hot Wheels ‘Japan Historics’ line, and a thrifted 65 Corvette convertible. I think they look great, but let’s spend some time seeing how each of them got to where they ended up.

Hot Wheels ‘Japan Historics’ Mazda RX-3.

This car actually cost money, sort of. Almost five bucks Canadian. Which is one of the things I’m loving about Gaslands. $5cdn is an *expensive* miniature. Hahaha. I’m not sure why, but this one called to me from the rack; there would be no leaving it behind.

It got some extra exhausts and armour plating from the good ol’ pile o’ orky bitz, plus a buzzsaw ram that looks like it probably came off a Nob. That’s just a regular piece of coated copper wire connecting it to the hood (same stuff I use for pinning, I’m still working through a roll that I got about 25 years ago while going through a ‘learning about electronics’ phase as a child). The plating on the front window is actually just plastic from the car’s blisterpack, with the ‘rivets’ pressed into it from the other side. I cut the passenger seat out (1 crew means this will be a performance car), mounted the heavy machine gun from the roof, and dropped a block of engine-looking mechanical goodness into the space where the rear window used to be.

Next I cut some viewslats into the ‘windshield’ (I meant to do that before mounting it, but I was excited and got ahead of my process, haha), and glued some window screen into the side windows for a welded wire cage effect. That came out better than I expected.

I painted up the interior (I didn’t prime the RX-3 interior as I didn’t originally plan to bother with it, and wow did paint ever bead up on it at first, haha…), even though it’s almost totally hidden away behind the plated windscreen and the cage windows; gives me a sense of completedness that I don’t think I would have otherwise. It was tempting to put a driver in, and I *do* have some at this point (more on those shortly), but they’re not exactly free so I think I’ll be saving them for convertibles and other ‘open’ projects.

Next I painted up the various bits and hit the original paint job with some Vallejo Matt Varnish (just so additional weathering would have a little more to stick to, rather than that super glossy enamel finish). Citadel Reikland Fleshshade washed over everything (especially the ‘metal’ parts) and things were starting to come together. At this point I finally got a real sense of what that windshield plating would look like, and it was pleasantly close to what I’d envisioned.

Weathering time! This time I had two distinct tones of pigment (Vallejo’s Brown Iron Oxide and Dark Red Ochre) so I worked up from brown to red and then added some dust with Citadel Agrellan Earth. Ready to hit the road!

The 1965 Corvette.

The Mazda was now ready for the Gaslands, but it wasn’t the only car in the garage that week. I was also putting together a 65 Corvette. I realize most corvettes are fiberglass so the heavy rusting isn’t necessarily a logical weathering process for this guy, but then I thought, ‘who cares?’ Grin. Seriously, though, If you were taking a Corvette out into the Gaslands for a demolition death rally every couple of weeks, you’d probably have had to replace the fiberglass pretty early, right? So that’s what I’m picturing. I think this guy came out of a 49c bucket at a Duluth Goodwill.

The Corvette got some fancy upgrades in the form of a turreted heavy machine gun and some significantly heavier rear wheels. Slicks don’t seem like they’d generally be a great option for the gaslands, so I found something that felt a little more offroad. Can’t remember what they came off of, but probably either heavy equipment or the Sting Rod II. For the turret effect I just did a long pinning that I didn’t fully glue and then game the car a similar treatment to the Mazda; some paint on the modified bits, a matt varnish, and then some Reikland wash.

This car is a convertible, which meant it was going to be super obvious that it lacked a driver, so I hit the internet looking for some solutions. I decided to try a couple options, and ordered a variety of 20mm drivers, gunners and riders from Stan Johansen (the magnificent Stan packed a few extras in as well!) and dug in. I actually used a gunner for this one, and bent him a little to turn his loose standing pose into a low profile seated position. Mostly I just needed to shift the arms and head a little.

I did much of the Corvette’s rusting before putting the windshield in so that it could get really crusty where the edge of the metal met it. I also lightly sponged (‘dry-sponged’?) some of the Agrellan Earth onto it and drilled a couple bullet holes. the spiderweb cracks were just scratched into the plastic with a blade. It wasn’t until after I’d put it all together that I realized that my driver was either pretty lucky, or not the first driver of this car.

These two cars come in at about 50 cans between them, so they’re pretty much a starting team on their own. I fielded them last week alongside a little Meyer’s Manx that I haven’t done anything to, yet, in terms of modifications. Soon, perhaps. See you in the gaslands!


Gaslands – Cobra Daytona

In the interest of making sweet rusty post-apocalyptic death machines, I decided to pick up and try one of Vallejo’s pigments. Snagged brown oxide to start and just used it as a final coat on my Cobra Daytona, having used various reds and browns first and feeling like it just wasn’t crusty enough. The Cobra got primed and painted purple before I started with the rust effects, although it was probably not super necessary, given how much rust and dirt I put onto it.

This car was among my first real modifications. I’d already done a bunch of Gaslands cars (see my previous post) but most of those just involved gluing stuff to the exterior. For this one I drilled the rivets out so that I could get everything apart. I cut the passenger seat out of the interior and mounted the gun to the roof, and I used bolt cutters to trim the rear wheel wells, making them big enough to tuck the wheels from a Space Marine bike into them. The wheels got drilled a little off center so I could pin them into place without worrying about increasing the rear of the chassis to move the whole axle.
The ‘windscreen’ is a piece of a ladder, the wheel spikes are old skaven shield decorations, and the rest is mostly a hodge-podge of ork and imperial bits. My favourite is probably the tabard turned into driver’s side window shielding, but I haven’t had any luck finding more similar bits so far.

I cleaned up all the mold lines (probably could have done that pre-photo, but meh), and settled into the painting process. My favourite brush-on primer (take that, old man winter!), and then the car got a purple basecoat, with Vallejo Oily Steel on the ‘metal’ parts. A heavy wash of Citadel Reikland Fleshshade to give it its first rusty tinge, and then a few shades of deep dirty red (Vallejo Burnt Cadmium was the main one here). I painted up the interior while I had everything open, as I planned to enter this into the local shop’s Modern/SciFi miniature painting contest and wanted to cover all the little details just in case. I was feeling pretty good about it at this point, and was ready to get [c]rusty!

I just had the one pigment for this car, but got pretty liberal with it, leaving it pretty thick and dabbing it roughly into place with an old brush that will probably serve this purpose to the end of its days now. Finally, I added some dirt in the form of some inherited Citadel Agrellan Earth (?) technical paint.

I particularly like that armour plating on the passenger side.

Next I needed something to use as a base. Gaslands doesn’t require bases, but the aforementioned painting contest has basing points, so I put some cracked highway together. I broke up a piece of corkboard and glued it to a plastic sheet, then glued some sand into the gaps and painted it brown. The cork got a grey plus drybrush and my quick and dirty asphalt was practically complete. Thinking I’ll do up some bigger chunks to use as actual terrain, perhaps with the plastic extending out further so I can make a bevelled dirt zone on each side…

And voila! The Cobra Daytona is ready to rock the Gaslands!

I definitely liked working with the pigment, and have since purchased an additional one. Looking at these zoomed pictures I feel like my transitions could use some work, but I think part of that is just having the one pigment to work with. We’ll see what happens next time…


Gaslands – Putting a New Face on an Old Obsession

I have more time for hobbies these days, but I keep using them for hobbies, and not for writing about hobbies. Also, M gave me a PS4 for Christmas and Horizon Zero Dawn is amazing! Grin. So that’s a factor. And finally, while I haven’t posted in a while, it might be in part because one of the blogs I occasionally check out introduced me to Gaslands. Post-apocalyptic death races played out using modified toy cars. I’ve played two games now, and I’m hooked (although, let’s be honest, I was 70% hooked before I’d ever laid template to mat). But let’s start at the beginning.

As I said, I saw mention of Gaslands on Steinberg Shed Space and immediately got excited about the concept. A fresh new Car Wars? Already scaled for Hot Wheels? I decided I should at least try to find somebody else to try it out, so I don’t just end up painting a bunch of models and never using them (fingers crossed, Saga! one of these days!). I outlined the basic concept to my friend CP, she was immediately sold on the idea, and so I ordered 2 books instead of one. I hit up the downloads section of gaslands.com and started putting some cars together based on the rudimentary knowledge I could glean from the build side of the quick reference card.

I selected the Gaslands rulebook as my staff pick at work (picking a gamebook seemed weird, but what the hey), and then I built some more.

I’ve raided the bits bins at the local shop a few times to bulk out my own bits supply now, and eventually our books arrived. I read through it and we set a date for our first test game.

We were now both totally committed to this one. CP had live-posted her way through our game (those are some of her black and white photos above) and netted us a whole pile of additional interest, along with a number of admirers for my modified taco truck. People started asking about it, and now we’ve got a 16-member facebook page for local players… which brought me to my second game; Demo Night at the shop.

Had 4 people take part in the first stage of a race, and several more checked it out and asked questions; I’ll probably do at least one more demo session before we set up a regular Gaslands night. I broke my various builds down into several 50-can teams of 2 cars each so that people could play before having to build anything, but everybody that played was similarly pumped about the building part of it, and so everybody had cars ready to go. I only took one picture (one of these days I’ll improve!); it’s pretty much the second shift phase of the game. Note to self, don’t make people corner right away.

The hobby time that I’ve spent lately has mostly been building, with a little painting mixed in, but I think I’m going to make that into a post of it’s own.


Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago – Atl-Atl #1 by Freebooter

First two Freebooter Amazons to be painted will be one of the Atl-Atl pair, and Occepa; today I’ll be focusing on the former. I expect Occepa’s crocodile armour will take a bit more time and energy and I wanted to get one of these finished for this month’s Paint the Thunder painting competition, so Atl-Atl #1 will be painted first.

That’s her on the left.

Initially I was thinking I’d work on them simultaneously, so the base flesh coat can be seen here on both of them.

I’m making use of Vallejo’s Red Leather quite a bit for the armour on this one; I’m a big fan of the colour and use it a lot, which I like to think has the unintended side-effect of bringing my warbands together. Like they all shop at the same armourer, haha. My minor focus on Frostgrave over the last year or so has resulted in me having more varieties of blue than in most other colours, so I’ll be making use of those as well. I also just really like using the blues; they generally look pretty good on most models, and seem like a colour set that’s not impossible in a fantasy setting. Of course, in a fantasy setting, I suppose *any* colour is reasonable… you just need to tailor the setting to provide the dyes. Grin. Still…

It occurs to me that I might have to consider using a larger wet pallette…

Skin tone is a Vallejo Medium Flesh (it generally feels darker to me than the Dark Flesh does, but maybe that’s just me), with Vallejo Charcoal grey for the hair. I’ve been liking it as an alternative to black, because it darkens well with a wash, while still retaining some depth, which avoids me having to try and build depth with drybrushing and/or highlights, which I don’t feel very strong at (especially where hair is concerned).

My initial washing effort involved a Vallejo Skin Wash, which seemed insanely dark. I always think I’m going to like it, and maybe if I did a lot more highlighting as part of my process I would, but it was just so much darker than expected. Even then, it would probably have worked just fine, but it’s also redder than I think I expected. I might try it with one of my other Amazons – like I said, I feel like it should work for them – but it just looked too much like the Red Leather (oh, that left foot!), which sort of muddled the entire paint scheme. Ended up going with the old standby, Citadel Reikland Fleshshade, and I feel good about the result. I did make use of the Skin Wash for the armour, and I really liked the result I got there. The Vallejo washes are significantly more intense, and I’m never quite prepared for what I get when brush first hits model. What I probably really need to do is just sit down with some miniatures I *don’t* care so much about and get in some practice.

The base is Citadel Stormvermin Grey, I think, washed with Citadel Agrax Earthshade and drybrushed with Citadel Flayed One Flesh. I used some Vallejo Dark Green (I think?) wash to add a bit of colour and depth afterward.

Close enough for my first Freebooter Amazon, I think. I’m not very good at taking pictures of the process, am I? Once I get painting I just don’t really think about it, and there are way better painters than me out there providing tutorials. Ha. Nonetheless, I am writing a blog so I’m trying to provide a little more detail in case something I’ve done actually does grab you. No reason to make it impossible to suss out. Next time: Occepa!


Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago – Freebooter’s Fate Amazons

In anticipation of Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago, I’ve been browsing around for fun and appropriate miniatures I wouldn’t generally have a use for. Freebooter’s Fate came up in one of my searches; I was leaning pretty hard into the Amazons. Shipping them was going to be a pricey option and the shop I’m at doesn’t have any easier access than I do, so I did some research and lined up a couple destinations to hit up while I was in Toronto a couple weeks ago. They had most of what appealed to me in stock, so I spent some moneydollars and got me some Amazons.

First off, they come with interesting bases. Square plastic bases with a recess that holds a molded metal piece. I was originally planning to put these minis on round bases, but these looked interesting enough that I decided to give them a shot. Annoyingly, they stick out significantly as is, as they’re a little taller and wider than really fits in the recess. This might be intentional (I suppose I could have glued them in place and then used green stuff to bevel/fill the base edges), but I opted to trim and file them until they fit in nicely, generating a little more of a defined edge.

The first one I put together was Canita, who stands on one leg and has a sizable headdress of sorts. The mounting hole in the molded metal base piece was a little on the large side, so I had to green stuff her into place. Unfortunately she’s pretty top heavy, so I had to get creative to keep her aligned (she kept falling over when left vertical).

Next up was a paired set which went pretty smoothly. I pinned the limbs (most of these Amazons are pretty slender, so the majority of these minis were pinned with staples) and the feet fit much more snugly into the base piece. Chicomeh and Matqueh complete.

The Atl-Atl pair is what things got frustrating again. The miniatures themselves are very clean, super minimal moldlines and almost zero flash. Unfortunately, every time a piece is attached to the ‘sprue’, it’s attached at a joint (you can see this in the initial Canita image as well). This means a whole mess of garbage metal in all the spots you desperately need to fit together cleanly. By the time I’d trimmed, filed, and cleaned a given part, I was left with some annoying gaps.

Given how many parts these are (Occepa is a *7 piece* miniature), this got old fast. Fortunately a lot of the pieces were arms, hair, and other forgiving joints, but it would have been far nicer to see the flash/sprue on the actual part, where I can clean and file it without obliterating crucial surfaces.

The end results generally looked great, but required a little more work to make fit properly than I think they should have. The arms had bumps and divots at the joints to allow for solid non-pinned connections, but then there’d be so much garbage metal burying the ‘bumps’ that it served zero real purpose anyway. I always ended up filing and pinning anyway.

Occepa is my personal favourite. She’s big and powerful, and wears armour made from a crocodile. But 7 pieces! Arrgh! Torso/legs, left arm (shield), right arm (hand weapon), hair, upper croc jaw, lower croc jaw, and croc tail.

Part of me was pretty tempted to paint some parts before assembling, but I ended up deciding that with this many finicky parts, I’d be better off putting everything together first, so I could be a little rougher during the process.

Painting is going to be a pain, but I’ll figure it out, no doubt. Lots of the trouble spots are going to be pretty hard to see, anyway. The tail and loincloth covers a lot, and the shield blocks much of her left side. Frustrating as I expect all aspects of this to be, though, I am super excited about it. I never realized I needed this miniature until I put it together, and now I want a dozen like it. It’s going to look great!