Safe & sound

Like many gamers I am always looking for safe storage solutions for my miniatures.

For years I have used expensive foam miniatures boxes. These are fantastic if you intend to put your miniatures through an airport baggage handling system or in the back of an armoured personnel carrier travelling across open fields.

This year though, I have decided to try something a little cheaper and more suited to normal handling. For some time now my companion-in-arms Charles has used a classic steel cantilever toolbox and cut magnetic sheet to stick to the bases of his figures.

So off I went and did some research. Despite the growth of the ABS plastic toolbox industry, places like Screwfix and other trade tool companies still have these robust items. I got mine for £14.99, less than the cost of a single figure from GW.

Then I went on the hunt for magnetic sheets. Quite a few hobby companies have these in various sizes, but none at a realistic price, until I came across the Magnet shop. This company sells to crafts people who like to make fridge magnets and similar gubbins. The nice thing is that they do a variety of sizes, thicknesses and shapes, and most importantly they are self-adhesive

For £3.95 I got 70, 25mm diameter, 0.85mm thick circles. They arrived in no time at all and I found that they fit perfectly on the bottom of the 2p pieces I use for bases.
I also found that they will adhere perfectly well to the bottom of 25mm slottabases. Something I had not expected as there is not a lot of plastic to stick to on the hollow bottoms of these.

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The thickness of the magnetic disks means that they do not raise the figure up and are unnoticeable on the tabletop.

I have now half filled my cantilever toolbox and still have room for another hundred figures or so. It is heavy with all that lead in it, but no figures have ever fallen over in transit.

I was lucky enough a few years ago to get my hands on a metal drawer cabinet. This has ten drawers each 50mm/2″ high. When I pulled out a drawer often my miniatures would fall over or slide about. Now they are magnetised everything stays in place.

Special note: I collect 2p pieces in a jar and, when I have enough, I soak them in full-strength cola overnight. Despite the myths, this does not make them all shiny, but it does remove all the finger grease and other detritus from them. A quick rinse in warm water and they are ready for use.

You can find the magnet shop here in the UK.
http://www.themagnetshop.co.uk/product-category/self-adhesive-magnets/circles-dots/25mm/

I am pretty sure there must be similar companies across Europe, the USA and former British dominions.

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Saleh & Son

Imagine my joy this morning when I opened a small parcel from Saleh & Son, aka Lucid Eye Publications).

Lucid Eye 2
As many of you may know Steve was one of the two brilliant sculptors of North Star’s original IHMN figure range. His figure’s clean lines and immense character were part of our success and we have oftimes saluted him for this.


So, when I saw the photographs of ‘The Plot Device’ range, I had to have some myself.
Well, he has not disappointed at all. Each figure is crisp and as lovely as the promo photos. The fine detail on these white metal figures would not disgrace the best resin can offer. I expect that they shall be a joy to paint, even with my fading skills.
I shall be using them to create a villainous company for IHMN, led by the mysterious and finely dressed gentleman ape.

Lucid Eye 1
You can find out more about this range and his other sculpts at https://www.lucideye publications.com or here:
https://www.facebook.com/lucideyeminiatures/

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Big Autumn Project 3

As I am going to be building a lot of houses over the next three months, I thought I might take you step-by-step through my basic method.

Tools

Retractable blade heavy craft knife
Scalpel blade knife
12″/30cms steel rule
A pair of good scissors
A few drawing/bulldog clips
A cutting board

Materials
5mm foam board – I buy these in A1 size sheets from Hobbycraft
Cereal box card
Cat food sachet box card (corrugated and stiffer than the cereal box card)
Mounting board/card
PVA wood adhesive
Wooden lollipop sticks and coffee stirrers

Specifications
The house whose construction I shall be demonstrating needs to be 100mm square to fit on my board.
Each floor shall be 40mm high as this gives plenty of room for most 28mm figures.
It will have a peaked roof which shall rise to 40mm above the building. It will have a ground and first floor, so the total height of the building is 120mm.
The ground floor shall have rough stone walls, and the first floor will be timbered with a lath and plaster in-fill.
The gable ends will be 100mm wide and thus, to fit on the 100mm square base, taking into account the 5mm thickness of each wall, the side wall shall be 90mm long.
I have decided to have a door in each of the gable ends. Then a fairly random assortment of windows as befits a medieval building.
One first floor window shall have a large window that will allow goods to be hoisted up and into the building.
As this is for skirmish games, I want the insides to be accessible so this will mean a separate lift off roof and first floor.

Method – Part A, the outside of the building.
1. Draw up the gable end and side walls onto the foamboard and then cut them out.
Note: the building shall not be assembled until each wall is complete and painted, inside and out.
2. Now decide where you want your doors and windows. Draw them on freehand and cut them out.


3. The ground floor walls are 40mm high and will be stone on the outside. So you need to carefully strip off the paper with the scalpel. You do not need to do this on the inside as it will make the foam board too weak. So we shall pretend that the occupants have plastered the insides.
Do this as carefully as you can but do not worry if this leaves the foam beneath a little messy. This give texture to the walls.


3. Mark out the stones into the foam with ‘special tools’. I use a 50mm length of coffee stirrer. I cut one end straight then sharpen it. This can then be used to mark out the edges of each stone block by pressing it in 1mm or so.
Pay attention to the ends of the walls and around openings. There should be larger blocks at the building’s corners and you will need lintels for the doors and windows. The rest can then be filled in a a bit randomly.
You might like to have regular rows of masonry blocks, though I prefer a rougher look for most smaller buildings.


4. Before you do the timbering have a look at pictures of medieval houses and decide just how complex you want it to be. Consider that every beam will be need to be painted, so less beams is often better.


Timber beams should look like they serve a structural purpose, and you need to timber around doors and windows.

I shall continue this series as I build this house, so keep watching…

 

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Autumn Project Part 2

So,  a few days have passed and I have managed to get a few more things sorted on the project.

The first of these is that House A1 is close to complete. The longest part of any card house construction is always the roof. I am going for rough/worn wooden shingles on this one and as you can see below I have completed all but the top.

The shingles are made in rows from cereal packet card, snipped and distressed to look worn. Underneath the card is some stiffer card from cat-food sachet boxes to support it.

The overhang is not too big as I want to leave room for people to be able to move figures down the alleyway next to it. This will then be undercoated, washed with the shingle colour and then it is ready to go.

Inside the house is a detachable upper and a lower floor, both with wooden planks inscribed on them. A space for the staircase allows me to easily remove the upper floor. The height of each storey is about 40mm, which allows most 28-30mm figures to fit reasonably well.

This house will be one owned by a merchant so I have painted the plaster a rich blue, and I shall put a shop counter and dividing wall downstairs.

Here are two shots showing how the board looks with a few more buildings on. None of these are complete, they mostly just need repainting. I have added a few figures for scale.

I have about a dozen older card buildings that I shall be reworking to fit this project. In all they cover most of the first three boards. I think that I shall have to create about four more. Then it is a matter of adding yard walls and fencing, some incidental terrain and the first three boards will be done.

After that I have the Abbey with its monks hospice and cloister board to and part one of the project is done.

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Craig’s Big Autumn Project

Well here we are, summer’s over so now I need a project to keep me busy this autumn. So why not make it an ambitious one?

A while back I challenged the stalwarts on our Facebook pages to determine how many possible combinations there were if I built nine, 1ft/30cms square boards, each with a unique street layout on, in a 3×3 format. The answer was truly staggering, and a lot more zeroes that I can easily remember.

Thus I have begun creating nine such boards. Each one is hardboard, with a layer of 5mm foamboard upon it. This allows me to strip back the paper on the topside and imprint flagstones and cobblestones into the foam.

The square layouts will be geomorphic so you can put them together in any combination of streets to produce a unique part of the city/town you wish to fight across. The buildings are being made to fit each board and will be permanently mounted on them.

Each building is made of 5mm foamboard, card, and thin wood, with lift off roofs and internal floors, so the battles can rage through them as well as around them.

2017-08-27 14.36.21

Noble Knights and their retainers fight off an ambush by rascally goblins!!

In the example above you can see a square with a street down one side, and three tight alleys leading into a sheltered courtyard. Around it shall be six buildings, small and large. One space may not be a building but a walled garden/yard.

The building itself is held together with blutack for the photo. It will be completely painted and detailed before final assembly. There will also be balconies, walkways across streets/alleys and even roofways, so games can be played in three dimensions.

I will post here my progress with the project and shall be relying on you to keep me going.

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Sad news indeed

Today we learned that two UK games companies have had to close their doors.

Most gamers knew of Spartan games, the producers of Dystopian Legions, Firestorm Armada and Halo, amongst other games. Their incredible drop ship model at Salute spoke highly of their creativity and their ambition.

The other was Tor gaming, smaller, but just as creative, with their Relics game.

We, at the Ministry, wish the good people of both companies all the best in their futures, Creativity like yours should not be wasted, so we hope you find new homes within the industry.

Many look at our industry and think of companies like Spartan as giants, when in fact most companies of their size and reputation are just a couple of dozen strong. Such businesses find it very hard to take on the financial commitments needed to grow from a small to a medium enterprise. Add to that the shock of the pound dropping so hard in the wake of Brexit, and it becomes almost impossible.

They gambled their creativity against an uncaring business environment and lost. So, what can we do? Well, we can support those businesses we like, through regular small purchases. Kick-starters are nice, but it is the regular customers that keep the cash flow healthy, and the shiny goodness coming.

Well there we have it, let’s hope this is just an isolated coincidence, and not the beginning of a trend in the industry.

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The Other Partizan 2017

The Other Partizan 2017

As is our custom, shortly before dawn my good friend Hairy Dave and myself crossed the border into England and began the trek to Newark. Upon our arrival we found the hall thronging with busy traders and games presenters.

As usual the good gentlemen Richard and Laurence and their splendid crew had everything in fine fettle and we found our alloted space in mere moments.

Once set-up, we able once again to take in the full glory of Partizan’s new home. The beautiful Kelham Hall has nothing really to compare to this light and airy cattle shed 😉

A quick tour around the traders relieved me of a few pounds sterling (see more on this below) and allowed me to renew a number of acquaintances, too many to recount in this short report though I shall select a few for your delectation.

The Big Squiddo herself, Annie Norman, and her lovely mother were running a petting zoo in one corner of the hall. Really, if she is going to bring livestock she should cosplay the Nurse Joy from Pokemon 🙂

Dave Wise and the gentlemen from COGs were putting on three IHMN games, as they have done at every single wargames’ show in the UK for at least five years. The man deserves a medal.

I did a brief tour around the Demo zone which only made me more determined to up my game. The many tables there were absolutely gorgeous and this is one of the few shows where you have the time and space to fully appreciate the effort these fine people have put into them.

Unlike some shows all the games presenters were happy to engage with the great gaming public. I had a chat with a lovely chap on the Very British Civil War table. I always find the concept of this game and the good humoured way in which it is carried out refreshing.

At this show we decided to something a little different and run a historically accurate recounting of the Saga of Ranald and Miko. Though many people questioned my sources this is a story as old as time. Boy drags longship over the Canadian ice pack, find a mystical island chain, falls in love with the Daimyo’s daughter and attempts to elope with her, only to be stopped by a bunch of drunken Ronin.

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Hairy Dave inspecting our arrangements before the show began in earnest.

What this did do was show how easy it is to mix our games together, with the Ronin following the Daisho rules and the Vikings following Blood Eagle.

A hearty thanks to those chaps who managed to swallow their incredulity and participate in this famous action.

During the day a number of open-minded chaps attempted this task and, in most cases, the Viking prevailed, but usually with terrible losses. The question though still remains, who was able in combat, Samurai or Vikings?

A new friend made was Jonathon Haythornthwaite, author of Osprey and Northstar’s Dracula’s America. A delightful chap with an interesting set of rules. Hairy Dave had a play of them and pronounced them to be simple and fun.

Indeed I levered open my coin purse and purchased a blister of figures, two of which are artfully displayed below. Various traders were heard to audibly gasp as I actually bought something (I may be expelled from the Cult of Luff for this).

The behorned gentleman may become a magister of the Hellfire Club and one always needs more cultists.

It seems that at every show I visit these days I come across Carl Brown lurking in some dimly lit alcove promoting his Open Combat skirmish rules, and this day was no different. Carl is the classic one-man-band games author, and part of the growing number of independents with excellent products that the great gaming public should have a look at instead of being entranced by the lure of the next megabox kickstarter.

So, another excellent day out – well done the Partizan meeps! We have already booked for both shows next year so we shall no doubt see some of you there.

This the last show we are attending this year. We are hopeful to begin the 2018 season at Vapnartak in February.

 

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