Monday, September 21, 2020

54mm Fantasy?

 While I have been casting about for inspiration this month, one other idea (other than Prince Valiant, that is) has been given a new push.  I have noticed recently that there are now two boxes of soft plastic 1/32 scale fatnasy creatures available on Amazon (and probably elsewhere). The Series I box was $20, and the Series II box was $25, within my impulse purchase range, so I decided that I would order them and have a look.

Series I contained orcs, griffins, skeletons, unicorns, minotaurs, wizards, dwarves, two headed somethings, snakey medusas, dragons, centaurs, knights, faeries, and elves, in a mix of light and dark plastic. Numbers were fairly even; 7 of each although I was apparently short a faerie.  For scale, they are shown below with a knight from Accurate Miniatures from my Medieval Mayhem collection. The sculpting on the figures is fairly basic, but the human-sized creatures are not a terrible match.  The dragon is a bit small, and would probably be more comfortable looming over some 1/72 scale figures.  There are no pose variations, so any units would end up with a bit of an old school Minifigs aesthetic going on.

The Series II figures were more of a mix.  They included Cerberus, Amazons, frog-men, wolves, lizard men, cyclopes, a second unicorn pose, a headless horseman, a phoenix, a militant mermaid, a berserker, and a harpy.  The numbers were more random.  I was short two figures of the 56 promised, and had 1 Cerberus, 2 phoenixes, and 2 frog-men.  As with Series I, size of the humans is a reasonable look next to the Accurate knight.  The cyclops, like the dragon, would be happier with the 1/72s, and one phoenix may also find his way into that project as a roc.  

The plastic is pretty soft, so a test of paintability will need to be done.  There are plenty of spares of things I won’t need in units to test compatibility with spray primers...

I’m not sure what I would use for rules; adding a bit of fantasy to Medieval Mayhem seems possible, and playing Dragon Rampant (perhaps with half-sized units—a default of 6 foot or 3 mounted rather than 12 or 6).

In addition to these new figures, I also actually have a bucket of plastic toys laid by when Toys R Us closed out in 2018.  They had a bucket of Mythical Warriors in their “True Heroes” line (there’s a mis-naming...).  It had included 7 different figures, a female rogue, a hero, two witches, an orc, an elf drawing an arrow, and a dwarf(?) with a hammer (who is big enough to pass for human, so possibly equally usable as a berseker).  

Each bucket included some rudimentary toy scenery; a bridge, a couple of pillars, a prisoner cage, some rocks, some machine gun nests (?) and a pile of candlesticks, plus an odd structure I’ve dubbed the “mystic gateway”.

As you can see from the picture above, the mix of figures was pretty random.  I got one rogue, three heroes, four orcs, and thirteen elves.

They also are not a bad match for the Accurate knight.  Unfortunately, with Toys R Us out of business, the molds are currently idle, so there’s no chance of acquiring more rogues or orcs.  

There’s more to follow on this, but I am enjoying considering whether I could finally have a 54mm D&D game...

(For the record, I am aware of Irregular Miniatures 54mm fantasy line...I may end up with some of those if I do get started on this; the humans tend to be rather taller than the Accurate figures, at least going by the Irregular 54mm medieval civilians I have for Medieival mayhem.)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

“We’re sorry, all available Muses are busy inspiring other artists...

 ...Your inspiration is important to us.  Please be patient, and you will be inspired by the first available Muse.”

That’s what it has felt like this past month.  However, I mentioned in my Gencon post that I had the opportunity to play in a session of the Prince Valiant roleplaying game.  After the convention, I ordered a boxed set of the first three volumes of the Fantagraphic reprints of the Prince Valiant comic strips, covering the years 1937 to 1942.  When I reached Volume 2 and saw this cover... call to the Muses was answered.  (I might note that I feel like this falls within Calliope’s portfolio for “epic” rather than Clio’s portfolio for “history”.)  In fact, my cup has overflowed slightly...

Last year at Barrage in September, I picked up a Zvezda “Royal Castle” model.  It was rather large and intimidating, so I went out looking over the usual sources for something a little smaller, and turned up one of these “Medieval Castle” models as well.  I have several boxes of Zvezda siege machines, inclujding two siege towers, a trebuchet, and four or five boxes of the smaller pieces, such as ballistas, rock throwers, rams, and mantlets, all in 1/72 scale, of which I have great store.

In fact, my son Norman recently posted about the Zvezda ballista he’s finished for his Mongol army.  So one possible route which the Prince Valiant inspiration could take me is down the path of expanding the 1/72 medieval/fantasy project to include the castle(s) and siege engines as scenario seeds.  I would not end up using the Prince Valiant background, but would translate this into the ongoing Northlands/Portable Fantasy Campaign.

However, there is another somewhat reasonable possibility for a more direct inspiration.  Back in the 1990s, when I was first gaming with large scale figures, I bought a bunch of 60mm knights and such, classic toys whose molds had been put back into production.  Most (all?) of them were Marx Robin Hood and Sheriff of Nottingham figures, and various Reamsa and Jecsan figures from Spain and France.  

This was a project which mostly did not pan out, mostly because the conceptual space for it ended up occupied by the Medieval Mayhem project.  I had at one point intended to get the kids involved, and painted character figures and retinues for each of them.  I think we got one game in before it got set aside. According to my game logs, I hosted one game for a HAWKs meeting in 2004.  I had, in fact, decided to sell them off a year or two ago, so I pulled out the two character figures for my sons, handed them off to them for display, and boxed up the rest, along with the stock of unpainted figures. However, nobody bought them, and I brought them home (all 60 foot figures, 2 mounted figures, and the unpainted stocks) and stowed them away again.

Now, Ross Macfarlane has his Prince Michael project using 40mm Elastolin figures, so I knew that Elastolin once had a license for Prince Valiant figures, which they made in 40mm and 70mm.  However, I also recalled that somewhere in my unpainted stock of 60mm figures, I had a Reamsa Prince Valiant figure. I have no idea whether it was a pirate copy, or whether they had a propoer license.  Anyway, I did a little basement archaeology, and found these two:

The Valiant figure, on the left, is not quite in the same pose as the Elastolin, but Sir Gawain is nearly identical.  So, it would appear to be possible to do something with those, in a skirmish line, given that I already have 60+ figures painted ... We’ll see what the future holds. 

Meanwhile, I’m into Volume 3, and a boxed set of Volumes 4-6 arrived this week.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Since Gencon Online ... catching up

It has been a bad month and a half for blogging, and a rather middling one for hobbies.  Hence, I have decided to go ahead and catch up on what has been happening lately.  

Inspired by Gencon, my brother was kind enough to run a Chaos Wars game on the 8th of August, with Ral Partha elves vs. orcs.  Run remotely from his house, I took the elves, and for the first time in a number of remote games, the home player (i.e. NOT me) won the game.  Chaos Wars makes a reasonable remote game; it doesn’t involve a lot of units (usually) and it’s not too fussy about geometry.

(Screen capture from my iPad near the start of the 8 August Chaos Wars game)

It was my turn to host a game the following weekend, and Ross Macfarlane and Norman, my older son, took command of my collection of 40mm home cast Renaissance figures for an “imagi-nations” Civylle Stryfe in Ardenn game.  We used Scenario 22 from C.S Grant and Stuart Asquith’s Scenarios for All Ages.  Without actually looking it up, it’s called something like “Best of a bad lot”, and involves a tired column running into an army in camp, so that neither side would have chosen to fight under the circumstances.  

Ross ended up with the column, as Duke Frederick (the usurper; see As You Like It, by the historian Shakespeare), and Norman ended up with the camp (the loyalists, commanded by Italian soldier of fortune Mercutio). We were trying out a new variation of the Rough Wooing home rules designed for 40mm home cast figures using 1 stand = 1 company of ~100 men.  This turned out to be fussier than expected, and perhaps need a few more tweaks. On top of that, it was not a scenario we’d tried with these troops, so my attempt to implement the scenario conditions and impose a mechanical penalty for the tired attackers was perhaps too much.  So, a reasonable game, but it could have been better.  As the central gamemaster in a remote game, I ended up too busy following both sides’ orders to take as many pictures as I would have liked.

The camp’s defenses (to the right) have formed up to meet the Usurper’s tired troops

Screen capture from the central game server...

Theat wasn’t a bad weekend for games; I also finally set up and played a Dragon Rampant scenario generated by my solo campaign, which had been awaiting resolution for several months.  The nice thing about a solo campaign is that the opponent doesn’t get bored while waiting for the next move to be resolved.

I used some orcs borrowed from Norman and some of my general purpose fantasy/medieval 1/72 scale figures to resolve an encounter out on the eastern borders of the human kingdom of Darmis. I ran the “Into the Valley of Certain Death” scenario from the rule book, in which both sides have stumbled into some inhospitable territory.  In this case, I considered it to be an area of traps left by the elves, who are happy to wear down either or both parties.

The board is supposed to have 50% of the area covered in scenery, and any unit entering a terrain feature for any reason takes hits.  The units were, for the most part, able to maintain control and stay out of danger, so I was glad to be playing solo. I don’t think that it would have been too much fun as a regular two (or more) player game.

Captain of the Darmish forces (upper right) faces off against two companies of orcs

Nevertheless, it wasn’t a bad way to while away a pandemic era afternoon, and the path was clear to resolve the next month in the campaign.

Norman provided the fourth (and final) game of the month on the 30th.  He has been working on various Bronze Age DBA armies, so we tried out his Sea Peoples (a new army to us) against the Egyptians. We played two sessions, because my Egyptians were quickly smashed by the Sea peoples in the first session, and I wanted to see it it was bad luck, or whether my plan was flawed, so we just did a partial reset back to the starting positions.  In DBA terms both armies are “Littoral”,  which gives them the option of an amphibious landing on their first turn.  We both reserved troops for this; switchin up the actual landing locations for the two games.  I lost the second game as well, though by a somewhat smaller margin, but I am nevertheless forced to conclude that my plan was probably fatally flawed. 😕 

There hasn’t been a game yet this month, so that’s it for recent games.

I’ve gotten a little bit of painting done.  Inspired by Gencon, I painted two more relatively random figures for my proposed Urban Fantasy game:

Leon is a Reaper Bones Chronoscope figure, rebased, and Lucia is a Hero Forge custom figure.  She’s a fae character of some sort, with faun legs and big ears, though dressed in imported human styles.  That’s hoof polish, by the way, not pink slippers.

The next time I sat down with a brush, I ended finishing up a stand of Hordes of the Things “beasts” for the Portable Fantasy Campaign, consisting of a Caesar Miniatures elf sorceress...

... and two Reaper Bones “saprolings” as tree creatures of some sort.  This is the second (of two) of these stands.  The first was finished back in March.  

For my most recent micro-project, I stayed with the 1/72 scale fantasy theme with some baggage and a camp follower/NPC.  While cleaning up recently, I found a group of figures I had washed prior to priming some months ago.  Included in the group was a small flock of sheep, which I had started when I did a campaign battle last October, for which I had needed three baggage train items for an escort mission.  I had two, and filled in the third with a mounted Maid Marian from the Airfix Robin Hood set.  The sheep are from the Pegasus farm animals set. I decided after I had started them that I wanted a shepherd of some sort, so another Robin Hood set figure was drafted for the purpose.  For figures the Plastic Soldier Review lists as having been released in 1964, they hold up very well considered alongside some of the modern manufacturers.  The pregnant woman came from the Linear-B/Strelets Roman transport set.  The review notes that her costume isn’t particularly accurate for Roman times, but she fits right in to the generic fantasy themed collection.

I’ve got several things on the painting desk this weekend, so I shall hope to finish something tomorrow.  I have been using the desk as my work at home space, and I will need to be cleared off again by 7:30AM on Monday.