Sunday, 24 February 2013


I decided to take a bit of a break this week both from painting Gangsters and from painting in general.  I feel its important to me that painting never starts to feel like a job even if I am getting paid for it.

So with that in mind, i've only painted two things this week, and one isn't finished.  The first is a brilliantly sculpted resin Skeletal Pirate from Black Scorpion Miniatures and the second was a set of barrels for scenery from Renadra.

The first pirate is a bit of a mix as far as i'm concerned.  The sculpting is excellent and the pose is good, the detail is clear.  In fact there's nothing wrong with the miniature at all.  But my approach didn't work out quite as well as I had envisaged in my mind.  I wanted a grimy, dirty look which I got but it wasn't easy.  In fact it took a lot longer than I expected and still isn't quite what I had in mind.  

The non metallic metal work on his sword came out well despite needing a lot of work to get it right.  I repainted it twice before getting a look I was happy with and if I wasn't committed to improving my NMM work I probably would have thrown in the towel and pulled out the metallics.

But in the end it came out well I think.  The wooden floorboard resin base from Tiny Worlds Wargaming came out really nicely and shows off the model to great effect.  I can't recommend those bases enough!

Now the Barrels were much easier.  I started with a base coat of US Field Drab from Vallejo Model Color (70873) on the wooden parts and Lufftwaffe Uniform (70816) on the hoops.  The wood got a wash of Agrax Earthshade to pull out the details and the hoops got a Nuln Oil wash.

Thats as far as i've got though.  The plan is to finish off with a Grey Blue (70943) highlight on the hoops and to glue them all to a base so they can be used for lots of different games.

I'll put up some photos of the finished work soon.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

New Painting Table

I mentioned in my last post that I set up a new painting table and that i'd share it with you, well here it is.

I paint in my living room, this isn't a perfect solution but does have the main benefit of me being able to be sociable with my wife.  So when she's watching soaps (which I can't stand) I can occupy myself without having to endure them.

But painting in the living room does have some drawbacks.  First the painting table needs to be mobile so when we have company over it can be cleared away.  Second the level of noise has to be low so no electric drills or dremelling allowed. Third the amount of space is limited so the workstation has to stay organised and tidy.

I'm using a small computer desk with a pull out draw. It's on wheels so can be moved around easily and has plenty of storage area underneath for my basing materials, spare brushes, and the paint colours I don't use very often.  The pull out keyboard draw is the perfect place to keep my palettes.

Its a big improvement on my last table as the storage shelves mean I can keep the work space clear.  My angle poise magnifying lamp fits on one side and my little bench vice on the other.  

Both these tools are excellent additions to anyone's painting table in my opinion.  I don't use the magnifying glass too often, mainly for eyes, but the extra light is invaluable.  The vice comes in handy for all kinds of things including drilling miniatures so they can be pinned and holding them still while I file or cut them.

On my right I have my computer so I can reference photos for inspiration and listen to music, especially when Eastenders is on!

When the table needs to be cleared the paints and miniatures get packed away in plastic boxes and go onto the shelves the lamp gets unplugged and the whole lot gets wheeled into another room.

On the table at the moment are five of Bob Murch's Pulp Figures to finish for my regular DM's Pulp game, four Undead Pirates from Black Scorpion that I have no real need for but couldn't resist buying and two sets of barrels I picked up for £2.50 at Clifton Road Games this week.  They should come in really handy for all kinds of games.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Say hello to my little friend!

In what has started to seem like business as usual I've had another busy week.  What with new staff to supervise at work, Valentine's day and helping my mother move home I didn't touch my brushes until the weekend.

However, mainly due to my wife being wonderful I ended up with some free time this weekend to get some painting done.  I also set up a new painting table but i'll cover that in another post once i'm all settled in.

I finished five more of the miniatures Mubaris needs for his 1930s Pulp game, they're a rather diverse bunch. One is from Bob Murch's Pulp Figures the others are all Copplestone Castings models from the Gangsters range.  

All of them are good models but I have to admit I find the Copplestone figures much easier to work with and I think they have more character.

The Spy is supposed to be wearing a Cashmere coat, I think it worked out quite well and I like how the battered suitcase turned out.

I hope you, and hopefully Mubaris, enjoy them!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Games Workshop, Overprice much?

£8.00 for 4 figures

During my recent visit to Clifton Road Games I picked up a set of four Resin Undead Pirates from Black Scorpion Miniatures, they cost me £8.00 which is in my opinion excellent value for money.

£45.00 for 4 figures
So you can understand perhaps why I had a bit of a jaw dropping moment when I went into Games Workshop the same day and saw the White Council set.  Four Resin Miniatures for £45.00!

So are the Games Workshop miniatures worth nearly six times as much as the Black Scorpion ones?  Are they made from the Resin of the legendary Tree of Life?  No, guess again? Then perhaps they were hand sculpted by Leonardo Davinci, hidden in a secret vault for 500 years and finally unearthed by Games Workshop Archaeologists? Nope wrong again. Well at least they must be in dynamic poses and have complex levels of detail.  Um...not so much.

So in fact, they are reasonably well sculpted but simple miniatures in very prosaic poses priced at £11.25 each but not sold separately (in those poses/outfits).

Well the Black Scorpion miniatures must therefore be in comparison really badly sculpted? Nope, they're really well sculpted actually.  Well maybe they're made of the toxic death poison known as lead? 'fraid not, they're high quality resin too. 

So why do they cost £2 each then, there must be a reason they cost nearly 6 times less than Games Workshop miniatures?




Spotlight on: Clifton Road Games

I love Games Shops, wherever I go I like to look them up and see how they do things.  I've been to Games shops all over the UK, in Italy, France and even in Florida and Indianapolis.

From now on when I visit a new one i'll do a little review and share my thoughts with you, I hope you find it useful. Leave a comment if you like the idea.

So first in the series will be the shop I went to today. Clifton Road Games in Exeter (UK).  I've been aware of this shop for a few months and despite living just half an hour away I haven't found the time to visit until now.  That's a mistake I'll be correcting on a regular basis if I can.

An entire wall of Flames of War

They have a Facebook page and a pretty well constructed website.

Clifton Road Games has a very deceptive entrance.  Through a tiny corridor opens up into a fair sized shop with a very, very, generous games room.  

Gamers Paradise
The member of staff (the owner I think) was friendly and helpful as were the other customers.  In my experience its a characteristic of Games Shops that the customers want to help other gamers and this store was no exception.

So many miniatures, so little in my bank!
The store had a really great selection of miniatures, a whole wall of Flames of War, Warmachine, Dystopian Wars, Black Scorpion, Rackham, West Wind and loads more. I can't remember another shop I've been to that had such a comprehensive offering.  The few I didn't see included Copplestone Castings,  Reaper Miniatures (a personal favourite as regular readers will know), Hasslefree and Games Workshop (an omission I consider to be a major point in Clifton Road Games' favour).

Even more Miniatures
Along with miniatures there was a massive selection of boardgames, RPGs, Wargames Rules, Vallejo paint (Air, Game & Model Colour ranges), scenery and general model supplies.  There was also a pretty extensive selection of Card games like Magic and the shop is clearly very active in tournament hosting.

The Games area, they were moving tables at the time
This leads me on to another major strength of the shop. The Games area.  It was HUGE.  Plenty of tables and chairs for Friday Night Magic and Tournaments and it was big enough to hold lots of big wargames or skirmish games.  

Did I mention Gamers Paradise?
I would estimate that their playing area is around ten times the size of your average Games Workshop.  The store hosts weekly Card Games nights, Wargame nights and Boardgames nights.

Before I say this I want to make it clear that I don't know anyone at the shop, I don't get paid anything by them or have any ties to them.  

I could have spent hours at this shop, and if my lovely wife wasn't with me I certainly would have.  This is an excellent shop with a really great games area and if you live in the Exeter area (or anywhere nearby) I'd strongly recommend paying a visit to Clifton Road Games, I'm sure they will make you very welcome and I'm sure you'll become a regular.

Now thats my kind of mural. OOTS FTW

Sunday, 10 February 2013

More Gangsters and where to find inspiration

Hi everyone, apologies for the delay between posts but once again its been a busy time at work.  To make amends i've got lots to show you in this post.

Due to terrible weather here in the UK I've had a fair bit of painting time this weekend and managed to make some progress on Mubaris' Pulp Gangsters.  Five more completed and five more primed, based and started.  Hopefully i'll have the remainder finished soon so I can start painting some fantasy miniatures.  I guess I just miss chain mail!

One of the challenges when painting these gangsters is all the reference material is in black & white.  Colour photos from the period don't exist so I had to look for inspiration from film and television.  

Luckily, Boardwalk Empire, The Untouchables, Once Upon a Time in America and Public Enemies provide great visual inspiration and their researchers did a great job on keeping the look authentic.  Google has lots of great stills from these movies and tv shows and I keep these open next to me on my computer while I paint.

One of my friends has just started painting and mentioned that he finds it hard to focus (mentally) on painting and asked if I had any suggestions.  I gave him the only answer that works for me, others may have different answers but mine is this.  

Miniatures that you like are easier to paint than those you don't, if you enjoy what your doing you'll focus naturally so pick models that interest you.  Also listen to music if it helps you, I listen to Movie scores like Gladiator, Braveheart and 300 while i'm doing fantasy miniatures, and Big Band Jazz while painting these gangsters, I find it gets me in the mood and helps me focus on what i'm doing.  

Now I want to paint some Star Wars miniatures so I can listen to the theme again!

What do you do to help you focus when you paint?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Copplestone Gangsters & Pulp Figure Videos

I was rather pressed for time over the weekend so didn't get to put these videos together before posting the photos.  I hope you enjoy them!

Bob Murch's Pulp Figures

Copplestone Castings

Copplestone Castings

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Dapper Assassin & The Madman

These two are also Copplestone miniatures, the first is from the 'Frankie's Fingermen' set.  I tried a strong white pinstripe which worked quite well although not as well when blown up to large size in a photo!  The face on this sculpt is excellent and has great character.  

I wanted this one to be a blonde and painted the hair on the top of the head a paler blonde than the bottom half with the back being a bit darker again.  Hair is rarely a single shade throughout and blonde hair looks a bit unnatural if it doesn't have shades worked into it.

For speed (I have so many of these gangsters to do!) I painted the gun with metal paints, i'd have preferred to have worked on some Non Metalic Metal painting on these, they would have looked much better I think.  But with another nineteen miniatures to paint for Mubaris's game some shortcuts are having to be taken.

The next miniature is from Copplestone's 'O'Hare Boys' set.  This one just looks amazing, the character in his pose and the facial expression just screams 'Bring it on!'

This one was both easy and hard to paint, easy in that the face practically painted itself, the expression is so well sculpted it's simplicity itself to bring it out.

The difficult part came with the colour I chose for the suit.  I wanted a pale dove grey but with a blue tint to differentiate it from the base's cobbles.  Unfortunately the I mixed in too much blue and it looked wrong so I had to start again.

When I showed this model to Mubaris and another friend, Rob, I explained that I used the wrong blue for his suit and although it looked ok it wasn't quite right so I had to repaint it and Rob accused me of being a perfectionist.  I suspect he might be right!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Spirit & The Agent

Two more miniatures finished for the 1930s Pulp game.  The first is a spare miniature I had, The Creeping Claw from Bob Murch's Pulp Figures.  I wanted the Steel Mask miniature from the Weird Villains set for my Weird Wars game so this one was just sitting in the pile of unpainted figures.

My character for the Pulp game is based on The Shadow, one of the first Radio adventure Crime Fighters.  In this case though 'The Spirit' is the crime fighting alter ego of a german jet propulsion scientist who opposed and fled the Nazi's.  Arriving in New York he saw the same oppression of freedom but from the Mafia and swore to continue his fight. 

The painting of this model was pretty simple, a dark grey base coat with black shadows and lighter grey blended highlights, it did need some colour so despite it being a bit of a cliche I decided on a red lining for his cloak which does give the model a bit of style I think.  
I actually wanted to use the Black Mist from Reaper (its included in the Kickstarter set I have coming) but unfortunately that won't arrive until March.   

The second of the miniatures today is one of The O'Hare boys from Copplestone Casting's Gangsters range.  I thought he looked more like an FBI agent though.  He needs a coat of Anti-Shine as the Vallejo Model Colour I used for his suit came out a bit shiny.

When I first started painting these Copplestone models I thought that they were more realistic than the Bob Murch miniatures but lacked a little bit when it came to character.  I can only admit my mistake publicly.  The character in these figures is subtle but really well defined.  The poses and expression are very easy to bring out with paint, at least I think so!  

All of the miniatures for the Pulp game will be based on the Tiny Worlds cobbled bases, I have to admit these are much better than the ones I normally use, I paint primarily for tabletop use so normally don't do much with the bases but these ones are just too nice to pass on.  Tiny Worlds have just put up a really good tutorial on how to paint their rocky bases which I can recommend very highly.

I'll have another couple of Copplestone miniatures to show you all in a day or two.  Another one of the O'Hare boys and one of Frankie's Fingermen