Monday 27 June 2011

Toy Soldiers: Displaying your collection?

As a wargamer, I generally keep all my painted miniatures lovingly stored away in padded cases and toolboxes ready to be carried along to wargaming sessions. However, realistically speaking I rarely get a chance to actually game with my miniatures, so they spend most of their time hidden away where no-one ever sees them. A real shame after I have spent so much time and effort working on them, modelling, converting, painting and basing them.

Old Shelf 01Old Shelf 02

Years ago I bought a small shelf system from Ikea that I used to display one or two of the large figures I had sculpted or painted and a few other figures and statues. It served it’s purpose was was really quite small and as I recently discovered was a real magnet for dust! I ended up have to literally immerse most of the figures in soapy water to remove the years of dust that accrued on them. This made me realise that I needed to do something to protect the figures from the dust, and so the idea of a glass (or acrylic) fronted cabinet came into my mind.

At this point I also realised it would be nice to actually display some of the my favourite figures, rather than leave them buried in storage all the time.

Now, the existing shelves were tucked away on a piece of, basically, dead space on the wall over the stairwell. This was fine as it meant the wife didn’t complain about them cluttering up anywhere special, and yet I get to see them every time I go down the stairs. So I started to form plans for a new “fronted” cabinet, that I could hang in the same place.

I happened to have some nice 18mm (3/4”) pine shelving in storage that I had ripped out of a store cupboard and so I set about designing the new cabinet to utilise this. I bought a metre square sheet of 3mm thick clear acrylic sheet to use as the door, and then set about designing the layout.

My first consideration was cutting the acrylic. I had already decided to use my works laser cutter to cut the sheet, as it gives a polished edge, straight out of the machine, far easier than trying to clean it up myself afterwards. The maximum sheet size that the laser cutter will take is 600mm x 450mm. So this meant I had to work within that size for the the door. So I ended up with two acrylic doors, 600mm wide by 590mm high. I then proceeded to build the cabinet around them.

I divided the areas that would be behind each door to suit what I felt would give me a good variety of spaces for displaying different sized miniatures. I also allowed an internal depth (front to back) of 120mm, as I sometimes base larger figures or small dioramas on old CDs or DVDs.

I built the outside of the cabinet, and also the dividing shelf, from the 18mm pine. While cutting these bits on the table saw, I also cut a slot in the them to act as a runner for the acrylic doors. The back of the cabinet is made up of two pieces of 3.6mm ply. I then thinned down the rest of the pine (using a planer/thicknesser) to 12mm for the internal shelves. This was both to reduce the weight and also for the aesthetic look of the cabinet. The whole thing was simply glued together with Evo-stik “Resin W” Wood Adhesive, sash clamped and left to dry. Once it had all set, I gave it a quick sanding down and then varnished it with a clear satin varnish. The whole process from start to finish took barely a days work.

I hung the new cabinet over the weekend and put the figures from the old shelf back into it. I am very pleased with the result and now I just need to look through all my figure cases and toolboxes and settle on which miniatures and models are worthy for display!

New Cabinet 01New Cabinet 02

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Wednesday Eye Candy: Death Dealer Bronze by William Paquet

Not a lot to say about this really, a well sculpted representation of Frazetta's Death Dealer, sculpted by William Paquet, cast in Bronze and limited to only 13 castings, can be bought from Sideshow Collectibles for a tidy £2,453!

See more of Quarantine Studios work at their website

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Wednesday Eye Candy: Great White Ape of Mars by Casey Love

I am not a great fan of busts, I have always preferred my sculpts to be full bodied, however, the quality of sculpting on this bust (and Casey Love’s other work) is just fantastic. It really captures the feel of these fearsome beasts that terrorise the ruins of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom!
The attention to detail is wonderful, and the paint job is damn near perfect as well.
Although most of Casey Love’s work is fairly grotesque there is no denying the quality of the sculpting.
For more of Casey Love’s work check out his website at
He also has a Gallery on Deviant Art.

Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!
Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!
Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Friday 10 June 2011

Friday Eye Candy: Age of Ra by Marek Okon


I like this painting by Marek Okon because it almost feels like a modern photo of troops advancing across the desert. However it has enough to just take it over into the Sci-fi genre.

The painting is featured on the cover of the book The Age of Ra, published by Solaris Books. In this case I am leaning towards judging a book by it’s cover and buying it, purely because the cover are is so good. I really hope that the novel inside lives up to the cover…

For more of Marek Okon’s art check out his website, OkonArt or his Deviant Art gallery.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Wednesday Eye Candy: Okii Jijin Monk by MumboJumbo

Okii Jijin Monk by MumboJumbo

Quite a whimsical piece this, and not a style that I would normally be attracted to. However the execution of the sculpture is really very nice. Not detailed to a minute scale, but finished in a very polished and quirky way.

I love the whole balance of the piece, with the monk on one foot, the branch and the lantern, it all just works really well.

This sculpture is based on an illustration, so the sculptor Alena, known as  “MumboJumbo” on Deviant Art, can’t take full credit for the design, however, to be able to reproduce the illustration so faithfully is an achievement in itself.

Okii Jijin Maquette Final by MumboJumbo

For more  of Alena’s work have a look at her Deviant Art gallery.

Monday Eye Candy is Pulp themed, offering beautiful artwork to inspire and amuse!

Wednesday Eye Candy is sculptural, offering some of my favourite figure sculpts and models!

Friday Eye Candy features painting and visual images that capture the imagination and offer inspiration!

Thursday 2 June 2011

Toy Soldiers: Steampunk Skirmish Games

With all the steampunk novels I’ve been reading recently (see my Pax Britannia reviews) I am in the mood for doing some steampunk skirmish wargaming. I like the quirky styles of some steampunk miniatures, and feel that to really show off their character I prefer to stick with 28mm or larger sizes. I have two or three 54mm figures, including these two from Black Crab Sculpting Studio.
Black Crab Studios - The Lizard KingBlack Crab Studios - The Judge
However, with the price of miniatures ever rising, and metal prices still going up, I think I will probably go for 28mm figures, even though I am only planning on having very small groups of figures on each side (I would think up to an absolute maximum of about 20 per side).
There seem to be a good selection of steampunk style miniatures available from a growing band of manufacturers.
Steampunk DorothySteampunk Dorothy
I have just ordered the Steampunk Dorothy figure from CoolMiniorNot, and I am preparing an order for Design 28 Miniatures.
Design 28 Miniatures Iron MenDesign 28 Miniatures Vampire HuntersDesign 28 Miniatures Victorian Policemen
I also have plenty of the Scheltrum Miniatures Selenites (well I did sculpt them), and their other VSF figures. In fact, I still have the 28mm scale airship that I made around 10 years ago (vac-formed balloon with resin and white-metal gondola)…
Scheltrum Miniatures SelenitesVSF Airship 11VSF Airship 05VSF Airship 06VSF Airship 10
There is also Wyrd Miniatures Malifaux, some of their figures are very nice, although they are a premium priced range, so I don’t really want to buy too many of them. Of course one advantage of going with Malifaux, would be the associated rules system, but I don’t really want to be restricted from using other companies figures.
Malifuax Mannequins
I also have plenty of 28mm colonial figures, from various manufacturers, that could be pressed into service for the odd steampunk game. Off the top of my head, some of Foundry’s Darkest Africa range and similar, as well a large collection of British Sudan campaign figures.
So, which rules to go for? I want a game that has small parties (up to about 20 figures at the most) on each side, but most of the steampunk wargaming rules seem to be mass battle rules.
I picked up When The Navy Walked and it’s expansions from Wargames Vault the other day, which looks interesting, but still too large scale for my taste. I see from their website that The Armchair General are planning a set of skirmish rules for When The Navy Walks, but I want to get going with this just now. I have also been considering G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., which seems to be popular and has been around for quite some time. I have even considered using a slimmed down version of some of the role playing rules that are out there. Talking of role playing rules Space 1889 does have their wargaming rules Soldier’s Companion, but that seems quite restrictive, and I really want something more skirmish based.
When The Navy Walked9090759093
What I was really looking for was something like .45Adventure from Rattrap Productions. Unfortunately all of their different rules sets, which are all wonderfully “pulpy”, miss the steampunk genre, however, as I have most of them, a little conversion work could be a possibility.
.45 Adventure 2ed.  from Rattrap ProductionsFantastic Worlds from Rattrap ProductionsThrilling Expeditions from Rattrap Productions
What is looking most promising at the moment, however, is the rules set In The Emperor’s Name, that is being developed on the Forge Of War/FUBAR Yahoo group. It is a set of rules to fight small scale actions between two “Retinues”. ITEN is actually set up to use the Warhammer 40K background, but having chatted in the group a little, there is quite an interest in developing a separate rules set, to be called (at least for now) In Her Majesty’s Name…
All in all, I think that skirmish is the perfect type of game for the Steampunk genre, so I am really surprised that there are not more rule sets out there yet.
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