Monday, January 21, 2013

First Game of Hell Dorado

Over the weekend, I gave Hell Dorado a shot. I've been really enjoying skirmish games lately (if Mordheim and Necomunda weren't enough of a clue). Something about small model count, quick games has been really appealing. I prepped and primed my Westerners warband but things have been a little crazy lately, so I didn't get a chance to get any further than that with them.

Hubs actually managed to get his whole band painted up. I assume that's why the Westerners were slaughtered. Dice always roll better for painted miniatures. It didn't help that all but one of the cards for my warband were in French, either. Now I have been known on occasion to parle le fran├žais, but it's clearly been too long since I used it actively. My rusty linguistic skills did nothing to improve my chances.

Certain people failed to mention that all the information on the cards for each character is in the rulebook until the 4th turn... but I digress. English cards have been ordered for future games so all is well. Speaking of the rulebook, if you haven't seen it, is gorgeous. The art in it is just lovely.

Overall, though, I liked the mechanics of the game. The way dominance worked confused me at first (blaming the French cards here) but an interesting idea. Gives one band a slight advantage in the beginning, but that can quickly change and be very important. I'm looking forward to playing some more Hell Dorado in the future, especially once my band is painted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Need For Better Alternatives

A recent post on Bell of Lost Souls was brought to my attention and I was asked for my opinion. Unsurprisingly, I have a few. There's three parts to address: the BOLS post, the Save vs. Sexism post BOLS responded to, and the Kingdom Death Kickstarter that prompted the original post. The easiest thing to do is to start with Kingdom Death and work chronologically.

Kingdom Death ran a Kickstarter campaign called Monster that was successfully funded earlier this month to the tune of over 2 million dollars, with over 5,000 people who backed it. Sounds pretty great, right? I'd seen people posting about supporting it and heard talk about how nice the sculpts were for a while before I actually saw the miniatures.

But when I did, I was pretty floored. I've never seen a set of miniatures that so enthusiastically degrades women. If you want to see them, go on over to Kingdom Death's website and look at their gallery (do not do this at work). I'm not posting them here.

From a technical standpoint- they're fantastic. The models are incredibly detailed, and I have to say, you need to be pretty creative to have lots of details on a model when the person is 85% naked. But the skill is undeniable. Some of the sculpts I might have considered buying if it wasn't for the overly sexualized women in the range (I say range as some models are for the game and some aren't).

Most of the female models on their web shop suffer from the problems that plague so many female miniatures across all major miniature ranges- nude or barely clothed, ones with just enough armor to cover nipples and crotch, and cheesecake poses.

This is not a problem that suddenly arose when Kingdom Death came along, but it's a problem that they turned to 11 with the ridiculously sexualized "pinup" minis they included in their Kickstarter solely to entice people to spend more money. The pinup options have absolutely no other purpose. It's the lowest common denominator of advertising and while it worked, their success doesn't make it any less objectifying.

It's unsurprisingly that their choice of promotional materials created some backlash. Lillian Cohen-Moore with Bitchmedia wrote Save vs. Sexism in response, and while I agree with most of what she wrote, it created a bit of a backlash of its own. She took the time to respond to most of it in a follow up under her original post.

Like Cohen-Moore, I don't care for the theme behind the Wet Nurse, but it's a horror monster and if they want to make "ballsack-breast monsters" that's their prerogative. It's not degrading anyone, it's just kind of weird. Same goes for their other genitalia-related monsters. Weird, but not offensive and the aesthetic is in line with the horror theme of the game they're trying to create.

That's what makes the female models so unnecessary- they don't fit with the aesthetic. She articulated one point particularly well, saying it's upsetting they "clearly prioritizes making quality figurines (and) chose to make those same quality figurines out of astoundingly sexist material." As I mentioned above, the quality and talent is clearly there. Why spend the time and talent on something degrading? It's completely unrelated to the product they're trying to sell, their only purpose is to be sexual.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In My Hobby Box: Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover came up recently in my twitter feed, and it got me thinking about all the non-hobby items that get used for hobby related reasons. Probably the most helpful of these non0hobby items is nail polish remover. That's because nail polish remover (acetone) is the mortal enemy of super glue (cyanoacrylate). They get along about as well as Russ and Magnus.

It looks more like Russ than Magnus to me.
I really love this bit of chemistry because it means that you don't have to suffer with glue all over your fingers or accidentally peeling off your skin while trying to remove it. I only use cyanoacrylate glue because it works on everything- metals, plastics, resins, your fingers- it doesn't care. But having glue on my fingers just drives me mad, so I don't put up with it. Get a cotton ball, put a little acetone on it and press it against the dried glue for 15-30 seconds.

It will peel off much more easily and painlessly than before- and it won't take your skin with it. Even though acetone leaves your skin intact, it isn't super nice to skin, so make sure you wash your hands with a little soap afterwards. If it's a really big area of glue (which has happened, as I'm the clumsiest hobbyist ever), I'll also put some lotion on afterwards because acetone dries skin out pretty aggressively.

Two things to bear in mind: First, this only works with cyanoacrylate glue, it probably won't help you with epoxies, cements, plastic glues, or any other adhesives you might be using. They're not mortal enemies of acetone. Second, make sure your nail polish remover actually has acetone in it. A lot of nail polish removers have non-acetone versions because fake nails are really popular but are made of plastic and glue which acetone dissolves. Read the labels carefully, non-acetone nail polish remover will not help.

Alternatively, if you don't have any nail polish remover lying around, you could also go to the hardware store and pick up a container of straight acetone (nail polish removers have a few additives like dyes but nothing that alters the effectiveness). You'll find it with the paint thinners and it'll cost a little more, but it does come in a cool metal jug (or at least it used to).

In addition to cleaning off your hands, you can use it to get the glue off your clothes and lots of other things, but beware. It's great for getting glue off natural fibers, but acetone will eat some synthetic fibers so don't go pouring it on your favorite shirt without checking the label. You can also use it on your tables, tools, etc, but there's a danger of discoloration.

Test a small, hidden area first- especially if it's a dark surface. Don't just put some on your great-grandmother's antique coffee table and hope for the best. You'll probably end up with a white spot where the acetone reacted- it likes to eat varnish. So don't use it on a varnished surface. Remember, this stuff is in the paint thinner aisle for a reason!

I have successfully gotten glue off several surfaces using acetone, but please do be cautious. Wash your hands afterwards and test items inconspicuously before going all out. A spot of dried glue is certainly preferable to a large white splotch in the middle of your table.

I hope this helps you avoid gluey fingers in the future. Happy hobbying!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hammer in the New Year 2013 Success!

After much preparation and worry, my Hammer in the New Year tournament ran yesterday and was, if I may say so, quite successful. 16 people showed up to throw some dice. The overall response has been positive and I'm glad everyone had a good time.

Just a few pictures from the day:

I held the event at the Game Parlor and things were a little tight for all of us. Depending on the volume of participants next year, I may have to look into an expanded venue. Any more than what we had would be too many.

Prize money is always great, but I think having a little something special is nice, too. So I made some fun hammer trophies for the winners. 

The winners were:

Best Painted: Phil R.
Best General: Chris S.
Best Overall: Vaden

Congrats to you three and thank you all for participating. I will almost certainly be running it again next year.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Iron Painter Challenge

Over the weekend, the GW in Bowie, MD held an Iron Painter challenge: a 24-hour long painting competition. They had several catagories you could choose from, including painting a 2,000 point army (Hubs' choice), a force from a starter set, an allied detachment, a monstrous creature, a tournament display board, or a warband of at least 12 models.

I initially wanted to paint my Space Wolves, but with the holidays I didn't have enough time to finish their conversions. Instead, I chose to do a warband, as some friends and I are starting up a Necromunda campaign soon. The models didn't arrive until two days before the event (much to my panic) because of a GW snafu, but they overnighted them to me. I had enough time to scrape, convert, and prime them so all was well in the end.

Photos weren't taken with my usual set up, but I think they turned out pretty well just the same. That's most of the gang. My gang, so far, has 14 models total. I won't need that many at first, but I wanted to get enough that I could expand the gang as the campaign continues.

If you've never done an Iron Painter- do it if you get the chance. It was a great time and I got a heck of a lot of painting done with minimal distractions (and only a little bit of brain damage from sleep deprivation). For a while there, I didn't think I'd make it all the way through the night, but I did.

It was 24-straight hours of hanging out with fellow hobbyists and having a good time. We met some nice people and it was definitely better than just sitting at home painting. The important part was to pace myself and do some of the "trickier" things while I still had a steady hand (and a steady mind). I painted all their flesh first and then went straight to doing their eyes because I knew there was no way I could do the whites and then dot their eyes at the wee hours of the AM.

Every hour throughout the night, I tweeted a picture of my progress. Initially, it was just to help me make sure I was on track time-wise and to document my progress, so I didn't get bogged down on any one part for too long. But then it turned into this wonderful, fantastic thing because a lot people who follow me really got into it. They were tweeting me encouragement all night long, and it was quite amazing. I appreciate all the love you showed me, it made the night go by a lot faster!

Now for the fun part- the finished product!

My gang leader.
These Escher gang ladies have some pretty outrageous hairdos, but they were incredibly fun to paint. It's not too often that you get to use some of the more vibrant colors available, so I took this opportunity to make the most of their hair.

My favorite one, with a Dark Elf sword.
This is the first model I finished during the Iron Painter, and she's definitely my favorite. I gave her a quick little conversion- I swapped out her gun for a sword I pulled out of our bits box. I also cut the gun out of one and gave her a flamer. I had forgotten how much more involved doing conversions on metal models is- doing that flamer took forever.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January White Dwarf Review

I decided to pick up the latest White Dwarf as it’s been a few months since they revamped it. I wanted to see how it was progressing and if things have changed at all. You may recall I had some problems with the revamp of White Dwarf, but overall felt it was a big improvement over what the magazine was previously.

Right off the bat, I noticed that they didn’t red light the Dark Angel models in this issue. Thank goodness. I am so happy they photographed them with regular lighting. It really made the Chaos models look awful. The sculpts for these new models are pretty cool, I’m really impressed with the Dark Talon.

The first third of the magazine is still just an advert for their new models, and not much about that has changed. However, there was a bit more detail about the kits themselves- either how you have the option to equip different guns on the fliers, there are extra guns, it includes spare heads, etc. This is very helpful information to have and I’m glad it was included.

Army of the Month was still a great section, this time it featured the Tyranid collection of WD’s editor. The color scheme is striking and I enjoyed reading what he had to say about them.

Jervis Johnson’s short response to a letter was very engaging. A young hobbyist wrote him asking for motivation advice because sometimes seeing the Absolutely Amazing And Gorgeous stuff other people do can be discouraging. As someone still relatively new to the hobby, I can really relate to that feeling. Sometimes you see something so wonderfully executed that you think “well, time to put down my brush”.

But Johnson makes an excellent point- the models in the WD are painted to an “inspirationally high standard” but that (as with all things) as long as you’re practicing, you’ll always be improving. I can attest to the truth in that- take a look at my Daemonette project post. The model I painted in 2011 is, honestly, pretty awful. But the one I just painted shows great improvement. It’s not always easy to see the improvements in the short term – but long term the results are sure there.

The Battle Report, shockingly, pitted Dark Angels against Chaos Space Marines.The report was just as long as previously, which I expected, but this one was much more engaging than the previous one. The same thing can be said for the Blanchitsu- far more interesting this time around.

 Parade Ground killed it in this issue- it features Golden Daemon winners from several countries and it was fantastically jaw-dropping. Kit Bash was also much more impressive, featuring a particularly fabulous Mek's workshop piece.

Unsurprisingly, the Paint Splatter section remains somewhat lacking. The exception is the Fortress of Redemption section. The techniques there are both useful and complete, unlike the previous ones. Additionally, I was somewhat disappointed by the Hobbit "poster". While technically fitting the definitely of a poster, it just features shots of the minis and no actual artwork. Not exactly riveting stuff.

Overall, it's definitely grown into itself a bit, and moving in a positive direction. It's better than the first new issue. There's a lot of things it has going for it and I am happy to see it has improved. I still feel that it's too much of a catalog and not enough of a hobby magazine, but they sure are trying to make it more like that. There are things in there to appeal to every aspect of the hobby, which I really appreciate since there's so many parts of the hobby that I enjoy.
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