Little Toy Soldiers and Such...

The Blog of Michael T. Murphy and his lifelong obsession with "little army men" and their imaginary glory, miniature wargaming, and other things...

Monday, January 1, 2018

It's a New Year (and first painted figs for 2018!)...

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to 2018!
No...we don't have flying cars, or robot maids, or anything like that, but we do have heat, flushing toilets, food, and unfortunately we are still stuck with Justin Bieber...

However, to start this blog off right, and to show off what I've been doing this very first day, I'm posting some pics of some figs.
There's are still WIP's.
The base paint jobs are done, but they still need sealing, shading/ink/washes, and flocking and final seals to be "complete".
So when I say: "Done": That just means the basic paint job.
Complete: Is when all groundwork, seals, shades/inks/washes, and final seals have been completed and it is now "display shelf/game table ready"...

So here's the first one:

A 28mm Black trumpet player/jazz musician from the Crucible Crush "Cthulhu 28's" line.  Like the famous Pulp Figures Lines, this one has good detail, and was easy and a pleasure to paint.

Next up is one of the "American Mercenaries" pack of figures from Brigade Games. In this case a flying pilot/ace. He too was pretty easy to paint up, and has enough detail to be a charming figure for the game table.

Then we have a Westwind/OG/Blue Moon (?) Gothic Horror "Dr Jekyll" type of character, with a bottle of his "potion".
The initial priming job on this figure wasn't good and the base colors showed a lot of pitting that had to be gone over with quite a bit until there was a good smooth(ish), finish.
The face also left little detail, so I had to do a little improvising and the white highlights on the facial hair really seemed to make a "so-so" figure actually stand out better.

A quick couple of pics of various figures from various makers I am working on.
From L to R: Wargames Foundry Old West, Brigade Games Pulp "American Mercenaries", Crucible Crush "Cthulhu 28's", OG/Westwind/Blue Moon "Gothic Horror", and Ral Partha Fantasy.
The paladin is a replacement of one I had in my original D&D minis that went "away" all those many years ago.

So with these five figures basically done, this is a good start (I hope) to a productive year of painting figures and gaming for 2018!

More to come!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

December (and End of Year) update.

And suddenly here it is December already.

I'll admit between work and other "things" in life, I've lost track of time, painting, and this blog. Holy crap did I lose track of this blog. It was unreal.
So to be honest, since my FIL left in October, and then passed away the second week of November, things have been a little "busy" here. In October I sat down at my paint table for the first time in three months.  It was like meeting old, long, lost friends.
And I slowly started back up.
But now here it is December and I am looking at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, and so much to do, (as well as so little time to do it in).
So here's my "End Of The Year" December update. It'll go over (quickly) what I've been working on, what I've acquired and just a quick hard and fast dirty review of 2017, as well as some thoughts about the hobby and what I have seen.
And then I'll show you some of the recent figures.

FIRST OFF: Where in the heck has the year gone, and why have I done so little???

I'll be upfront with you. I'm a little embarrassed about the progress of this blog. 
It seems that I am always coming back with "I'm sorry that it's taken so long., especially when last year I had 25 entries, vs 9 (including this one), for this year. Meanwhile some of these guys do hundreds of updates a year...How in the world do they do it?
But let me to explain my tardiness.
The months of January and February saw me in Connecticut with work.
Due to issues going on and not being able to finish stuff, I also had to cancel my Little Wars game, and due to the weather that Saturday it seemed that I wasn't the only one.
March and April came around and found me travelling to my sites in Wisconsin, and Ohio, and then a quick one day run up to Little Wars.
The new site is nice, but per HMGS Midwest, it is very pricey for them, so they are looking at alternative options.
May came and I got some stuff done, and then June hit and my Dremel went to the big "something or other in the sky" and died on me.
That's the second one in seven years I've had die.
Also, my painting time was cut down severely due to the fact that my Father-In-Law came to live with us for five months, (finally leaving in October).


Farewell to an Old Friend: 

Something that I think also set me a bit off this year was that in the month of October, TMP'er and friend Robert Gallavan, (aka "Streitax"), passed away from cancer.
I had met him a few years earlier at Little Wars when he played the infamous "El Burrito Grande" in my "Lost Treasure of Chili Verde" game.
We struck up a good friendship and in November the announcement came as to his passing.
It was a shock to me, and was kind of hard for me to get through it. 
I'm at that point in my life where I am seeing more funerals than birthdays and it really is getting to me a bit.
So for the last time for 2017...Thanks Robert for all the good times, chat, gaming, and fun. Hope to see you again on "The Other Side".

On Gaming:

I'm sad to say that my gaming this year was horribly restricted due to the above concerns and issues. I did go with Bill Rosser to Little Wars but the games I was registered for all cancelled. I think the weather had to do with it.
I was able to do a Napoleonics game this year and lost horribly because I misunderstood the terrain and didn't hear something that was a key indicator.
Later on I started planning a short D&D campaign that got called due to FIL being here, and people who wanted to play suddenly having their schedule and life changed. Sadly to say, I think we are at the point where we just can't do the "Let's game on Saturday night" thing anymore like I used to do. Instead it seems that now we have to check calendars, schedules, coordinate, and then still be at the mercy of our jobs, in-laws, families, friends, and any real life drama.
I'd like to get back into it.

I also didn't attend Gen Con this year.  Despite the fact that I only live approx 9 miles from the convention site, I couldn't see myself dishing out 200 bucks for a weekend badge, and then having to pay more money to buy tickets to a game (if it wasn't sold out already), and then finding out that online subscriptions had already sold out all of the badges.
On a secondary note, due to some of the ongoing geo-social/political/"social-justice" silliness that seems to be seeping into Gen-Con, (as well as oozing out of it and affecting the convention), I think that the money I saved is money well saved. There's a lot nowadays that I completely disagree with Gen-Con on, but it's their show. I do think however that they have reached their peak. The 60K mark in attendees seems to be the "high-water mark" that the city and the convention can reasonably handle. Unfortunately I see it still trying to grow and I am afraid that I am going to witness it becoming another debacle like comic-con.

However while at Little Wars, I did rejoin HMGS Midwest.
I feel that if they are going to bust their butts to put on a good con for people, then I should at least be able to pony up a years membership fees to help out.
Plus it keeps me in the loop with what is going on.
Let's be honest folks, for all of the stuff going on, HMGS-Midwest is nothing like HMGS (or as it was known as at one time "HMGS-East"). Every year there are constant accusations of theft, fraud, embezzlement, lies, nepotism, cronyism, favoritism, elitism, apathy, as well as people challenging the board. Every year HMGS looks for a suitable alternative to the run down, worn out, overused, under-fixed, mold infested mess that is the Lancaster Host, and to be honest there is a small but very vocal group (squeaky wheel gets the grease), that fights to keep it there simply because it's close to them and they can do the day trip thing. To hell with anyone else having to stay there. They are coming for the day. Hit the dealer room, maybe some open gaming, see some friends, maybe if they are lucky play a game, and have a drink and then be on their way home for dinner. Then there is another small group that supports the Host simply because they let people bring booze in from the outside. 
Honestly? if you need alcohol to enjoy a miniature war-gaming, then there is a problem and it is with you.

But that's enough of the bellyaching; let's get onto the pictures!

Last year 
I've been pushing 28's hard and fast, but I am going to be switching back to 15's here real soon for a change of pace. I really need it. I think I am beginning to burn out some on 28's.
But here is the latest batch.

PAINTED FIGURES (and some backstories)...

"MSGT Parker, US Army, isn't too easily impressed. He's seen things in The Great War that would make you question your sanity. He rode with Pershing against Villa and then went to France to fight The Kaiser. He's seen it all. "So show me something that will surprise me." He says with his arms crossed while chomping on his ten cent cigar."
Figure: Brigade Games 

Widow Ingallson and her daughter Little Laura, guard their Little House On The Prairie from all manners of creatures big and small. Ma with her double barrel shotgun, and Little Laura with her copy of The Necronomicon that she keeps clutched tightly under her arms...

Figures from Old Glory

Albert Norbert, victim of dirty deeds...

"The Back Alley Boys!" - The newest boys adventure group from Miracle Pictures!
From L to R: Buster McGuire, Leo Hall, Davey Dooley, Forsythe "JJ" Jones, and Joey Owens.
Follow their adventures and hi-jinks every Saturday at your local matinee theater!
And remember....
"If it's a good picture, IT'S A MIRACLE!!!!"
*insert quick witty toe tapping music here*

Figures from: Pulp Figures PGJ18 "Boys of the Bowery"....

"It's Saturday night in the city, and some of the girls are ready to go out and hit the town. The music will be playing, and the gin will be flowin' and the good times will roll!
From what they've heard, there is a good chance they could make the party at that Gatsby fellows place this evening. It's a real shindig from what they've heard!"

Figures from Dixon Gangsters Line

"Sister Mary Agnes has seen it all...
Happiness, Misery, Sorrow, Sadness, Love, Hate, Anger, and Fear...All the emotions that run through God's children and the hearts that need confessing and healing.
She has seen it all.
And "by all" this also means that she has seen the apparitions in the lower catacombs of the convent and the chapel.
First a glimpse out of the corner of her eyes...then later on...a flicker and a sight....then slowly...full on visual witnessing....
But now...they've started to speak to her...
And what they tell her slowly pushes her mind over the edge of sanity...."

Figure by Crucible Crush: Cthulhu 28's....

Fergus O'Shea tips his cap in respect to say "Good Day" as he hurries on his way past his destination around the corner at "The Crown and Anchor" Public House....

Figures by Wargames Foundry: VC002 "The Working Class"

Bert Finnegan hums to himself "A sweep is as lucky, as lucky as can be...Unless ye' bleedin' lose yer bloody footing and slide off the slates and the roof and crack yer skull on the cobblestones below."
Figures by Wargames Foundry: VC008 "Market Traders"

Henry Williams, Grocer...
Figures by Wargames Foundry: VC008 "Market Traders"

Below is one of my favorite figures of this line:

"Chester McAlabaster hurries home with a full basket, after a good day at the market getting some nice red apples for himself. An older fellow, that never married, but is still "eligible"; with a love of poetry and butterfly collecting, and a fascination with trout fishing, (which he has yet to try), and his love for Arthurian legend, he heads back towards his nicely kept brownstone. By now Mrs. Whttlesunder would have completed the daily housekeeping tasks and would have the kettle on. He smiled to himself. Mrs. Whittlesunder was an excellent housekeeper. He should make sure she gets a couple of these delicious fresh apples.
But unknown to Chester, this evening would not be filled with fresh apples, tea, or reading about King Arthur, but instead would find him fighting for his very life and sanity against a creature that he would never have in this day and age believed to have existed...."

Figure from Wargames Foundry: VC008 "Market Traders".

Joseph and Henry Greenwell, Street Vendors...
Figure from Wargames Foundry: VC008 "Market Traders".

"And here's to the last of them!" Old Hud sings, while he hoists a bottle in the air as he slowly shuffles down the Vickley street to the small cottage that he lives in.
It's been this way for many years. When the demons and ghosts in his mind get the best of him, he heads to The Admiral Benbow Tavern and puts one on. 
He's deep in his cups tonight, missing his love, and his mates, and his younger days of adventure.
For Old Hud, there was nothing finer than his lady love, and his mates and his ship, which sadly enough, all three now rest silently in their grave at the bottom of the sea.
For Old Hud is the last one o' them...
So don't be too angry with the large, brutish, fellow. He's seen more, done more, and lost more than you or me will ever know. He's lost his friends, his ship, his true love, and his love of life beneath the cold, endless waves of a silent, uncaring ocean. He'll never marry, never father children, never sit with his grandchild on his knee telling his sea stories. All of that was lost to him so long ago.
So just nod and understand that one day, Old Hud's song will no longer be heard."

"So here's to the last of them!
My gallant, hearty, mates.
Here's to the best of them,
They often beat the fates!
A hearty group of sailors they were.
The likes you'll never see.
But Fate won out in the end;
And now there's only me..."

"So here's to my one true love,
A lady once so fair.
With sparkling emeralds in her eyes;
And golden strands for hair.
She told me that she loved me,
And that she always will.
But her lovely voice is silent now,
And her beating heart is still...."

"So here's to the life i lived,
And where I am today.
I wished to God I was with her and them,
Asleep beneath the waves.
A life I once lived long ago,
And now can never be.
For what I held dear is now gone;
And now....there's only me...."

Figure by: Wargames Foundry....

The "Fools Row Urchins", along with old Archiebal' Bonfrey.
From L to R: Mike, Mickey, Peter, and Davey.

"They're ready to pull a trick on you and relieve you or your wallet, your money, your watch, or any fancy bauble you might have upon yerself. "

Figures from Wargames Foundry: VC003 Street Urchins...

Two "street toughs" from Dixon, (I think). I experimented with the colors and to give more "Variety"...

The mysterious and unnerving Miss Lin Jie.
No one knows whose side she is on.
Rumors abound about her.
Does she work for Miss Lee in Chinatown?
Does she work for someone else?
Or is she simply in it for herself?
She is as dangerous as she is silent and beautiful.

Figure from Crucible Crush Cthulhu 28's

And now for a few scenes....

"You know..." Alice Weatherby started speaking to her friend Lucy O'Malley, as they stood for a moment in the study of his lordships manor home.
"Ever since his lordship received this odd and terrible looking statue sitting on the table here, things just haven't been quite right in this house."
"Aye." Lucy replied while clutching her scrub brush and bucket. "Tis gotten to the point I'm no longer feeling safe here. Soon as I gets me pay, I'm going back to County Cork!"

Figures from Wargames Foundry: VC002 "The Working Class"
Cthulhu Figure from Fantasy Flight Games, (Currently sold out)...

If Albert Norbert is getting robbed by "The Fools Row Urchins" on Uxley Street, then it must be Tuesday...

Closing out: Plans for 2018:

Well, that is it for a poor blog showing for 2017. I apologize again for all that wanted more posts and pics and game reports. Time just got away from and real life stepped in so very much.
I will do my best to make it better next year.

Plans for next year:
  1. I supported Reapers Bones 4 Kickstarter, so I have to do my final buy out soon. (This is going to hurt).
  2. Once again go to Little Wars.
  3. Try to make it to Nashcon.
  4. My wonderful wife and I are looking at trying to go to Reapercon in Texas in October. It'll be a nice anniversary gift to us and a getaway.
  5. Run some games...and get back to my 15's as they have been lacking horribly.
  6. Enjoy life.
And that is it for 2017.
May the New Year bring all of you good things and tidings and blessings.

See you all on the next post!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Egad...November already????

A hearty apology to all of my readers as it seems that the last few months have slipped from me.
Due to "Real Life", (work, a long visit by my Father In Law, more work, redoing the garage, etc.), my attention to my figures, gaming, and my hobby has been on the back burner.
Last weekend was the first time I have sat down at my paint table since August.
Here's hoping that in the next couple of weeks I will be back in the swing of things and getting stuff going for this site.

Stay tuned.
More to come...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today's Acquisitions...

In an effort to keep up with this blog, I got this out this evening...(while finishing off a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label).

One of the things with most miniature gamers, (at least with me) is the amount of "non-gaming, gaming stuff" that we do. This include cleaning worktables, emptying that overflowing trashcan in the game room, organizing your figures, paints, brushes, etc.
To be honest, this seems to take up more of my time than actually gaming.  However it is the little things in life that make it worthwhile and "it is the season for the Halloween stuff to be coming out!"
So today I took a much needed little jaunt, under the guise of taking care of a bill with my eyeglasses company, (who just happened to be closed, so I get to go on Monday), and stopped by Michael's, Hobby Lobby and finally for the first time in over a year my LGS.
The first stop WAS the optometrist, which happened to be closed and seems to keep bankers hours.
So after that it was a quick run down to Michael's to see if their Halloween stuff was out and much to my surprise the first portions of it are out on the shelves!
Summer be gone!!!!

The biggest problem I have with the Halloween decor is simply that "If I was single and had the house to myself, this would probably be up all year around..."
I saw some nice Lemax Halloween pieces that I will be stocking up on soon, Their cemetery gates make nice terrain pieces.

And then it was off to Hobby Lobby...

At Hobby Lobby I was on a mission. I needed to pick up some thin metal rods that they have so I can finish the bars to the jail cells in the Sheriff's Office and put that nightmare behind me. 
Add to the fact that my Dremel bit the big one...sigh.
But I was able to get two packs of the brass rods.

Hmm...these will work quite nicely...

And while checking the clearance area, I noticed that some brushes were on sale, and lo and behold, they had some of the REALLY NICE Windsor and Newton Brushes for 50% off!
I found two nice ones and added them to my collection.

Nothing wrong with getting nice brushes when they are on sale, I always say....

And then it was off to my LGS.
Readers will hopefully remember that I have had mixed feelings and experiences with my LGS in the past years. The store I would really like to check out regularly is over on the other side of town, (a good 30-40 mile drive).
So I really wasn't sure what to expect this time I showed up.
The place is still small, and honestly, sitting in an industrial park area, the rent may be cheap but the frontage is non-existent and even though I have been there half a dozen times since their move, I still need a GPS to locate it.
However I wasn't there for directions or inspections.
Instead I picked up some Reaper Bones figures.

A nice PC cleric figure...or a NPC...

And some more female sword-users

And then I found this and said "Cool, Old School Roper Style monster to give the PC's a problem or
This looks like some promising XP's right soon as they can kill it, without being killed that is...

And then I decided to pick up some of this as something to work with on some ideas I have seen it used on. Let's hope I can master it.

 On the way back I stopped for a quick lunch of Sliders and then made it home.
Relaxing today after a hard week at work, and tomorrow I get to work on the jail...finally!

More to come!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Overdue Update and A Finished Scenery Piece

In the blink of an eye, the year is already half over and we are in August and my blog has suffered from neglect and misuse, and for that dear reader I am sorry.
To be honest, there I've been busy with work, as well as some family and health issues as well as going through a major cycle of depression, and even though I have been painting like a madman, (and later posts will prove this), I just haven't had the "umph" to update this blog the way I should be.
But I've decided to try to get back into the swing of it, and thus starting with a piece of scenery.
A couple of years ago, (late 2015 I think), I picked up an old early 1990's hydrastone casting from the now long defunct Stellar Games "Stonewyrk" line. In this case it was a medieval style gallows.

Yeah this company's been looooooooooong gone...

In the funky old game-store that I have nicknamed "The Tombs", it is kind of like The Island of Misfit Toys, and so many of these things are just waiting for someone to find them, buy them, paint them, and play with them. And sometimes they wait for decades.

The front of the package showing the age....
So I went ahead and got this one and then it became that "Item that we all have that we do "dawdle work" on when we are in the block that all of us get on painting, building, etc. We don't want to sit there at the paint table and go "Duhhhh..." so we find this item that becomes our "Never-Ending Project".
And so I worked on it, and worked on it, AND worked on it for a couple of years.
Finally about two weeks ago, I said "Screw it!" and went into "get this finished!" mode.
It was relatively easy to do, although I did modify it by using a larger dowel rod for the hanging support than the teeny one that was provided.

 You can see here that I also experimented with different groundwork. One side is green blended turf while the other is rocks and sand. I decided to go wit this as there wouldn't me much grass from the front of it from the feet of onlookers.

All in all it was an "okay" kit. A nice addition and background piece, and my wonderful wife (GAWD BLESS HER!), has the right type of thread to make hanging rope nooses out of, so that will be nice.
It's typical of mid 1990's small company quality. Don't expect first rate stuff due to the period that it was done. Overall I would get it a C+ .

More stuff to come.

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Building A Western Town": The Sheriff's Office...

As the building of my Western Town of Rimfire continues, we turn our attention now towards that establishment of law and order in The Old West; The Sheriff's Office and Jail.
Once again, this is one of the old TCL kits that was offered by Knuckleduster before they pulled the line. Word is out though that another version will be offered "soon".

This is a standard "long kit" like approx 50 of the buildings offered, but the kicker here is that the back 1/3 of the building is done in "Stone", so as to represent the jail.

Looking at this I gave it the initial base colors of brown exterior and an antique white interior, while making the back half a dark gray to give an idea of the jail area.

A side shot of the main building shell...

Looking down on the floor. These buildings really take paint quite nicely.

One of the immediate things I didn't like the idea of was that there was only one "large cell", (kind of like a large drunk tank), and it just didn't look "right" to me. So silly me...I decided to do some customization and to make this one big cell into two smaller cells, (plus I didn't want my prisoners to have access to the barred window!)...

Yeah...We're gonna have to change this.

To be honest, this building seriously is crying out for customization.
So with a little bit of time watching "Rio Bravo" I decided to get an idea of what I wanted to do.
The kit gives an optional wall to make another room, so I decided to use that to break up some ore of the "big space".
I found some wanted posters and made some flyer boards and tacked them on.

Here's the main wall, with The Rogues Gallery...

The left portion of the wall, showing wanted flyers for John Wesley Hardin, Jesse James, Frank Doolin, and "The Terror of Hill Valley, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen...

And a couple of more on this side including one of John Wayne's character, Ethan, from "The Searchers"...

Another view looking at the jail...

 And two close up shots of the soon the be changed jail....

A rear shot showing the dry-brushing of the gray stone...

After cutting the jail cell apart, this is how the new version looked. (Don't get used to it, because it changed again...)

One of the things I remembered from "Rio Bravo" was that the Jail had shutters on the windows to keep yokels from shooting inside. So I decided that this too had to be done.

A pic of the side-wall showing the wood and stone, and the cut shutter pieces.

For the stonework, I ran a four color scheme.
Base black, then a mixture of black and charcoal gray, (making a dark dirty gray), then highlighted with charcoal gray, (lighter color), and then a dry-brushing of Vallejo Stonewall Gray to help bring out the detail.

Not bad if I do say so myself...

It's not easy making wood look like stone...

Then I took a look at the door. 
Yeps, that needed fixing too.
So a little more wood and a reinforced door with panels was put into place.
Here's pics of it front and back...

As I said with the new cells, I decided to go ahead and redo the cell pieces. With the cell door I attached it to two wooden blanks to make a wall, and then will use the cell pieces to help form the cells.
Then it was time for a test fitting.

A test fitting of the pieces shows the building layout in it's general setup. Two small jail cells, a middle room, a larger front office. So far so good.

A closer look at the dividing wall and figure scale...

A side shot showing the layout.

I still have to make the jail cell doors, but looks good so far...

Yeps...looks like the hokey is coming along quite nicely...

So while I was working on this, and waiting for parts to dry, etc, I did a little more work on some figures.
I finished the initial painting of "The Big Man" himself, Sheriff John T.

Now all he needs is a drunk, a gimp, and a kid named Colorado....well Angie Dickinson would be nice too but I don't think that's gonna happen...

And that is it for now.
More to come, so stay tuned!