Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

You saddos reading a miniatures blog on christmas day.

I decided to extend the Kickstarters of 2013 post instead of breaking into several parts. As well as wanting less well known ones to be the content, rather than being the 1001st blog to go 'look at the Bones! Pretty!' I wanted them to be ones I could pull up information and images of the final products. I have a list of about twice as many kickstarters as I posted about, but a lot of them don't have retail standard products for viewing yet. I guess in a month or so I will do the follow up part covering the kickstarters that have actual products and not just promises to show.

I've been working on Kaladrax the bone dragon for the past couple of weeks for a goon. Been taking lots of pictures and even filming bit of the process. Filming the process of me going mental as I shave the billionth mould line off a foot long jaggedy tail. Whoo.

It's actually a gorgeous model and fun to manipulate but goddamn do I want to start painting it already. If I was doing the equivalent amount of plastic in normal sized miniatures I'd have a bundle off them perfectly polished and primed by now, and feel like I have something to show for the effort. Instead I have a single huge miniature that I still have not managed to finish cleaning after a couple of weeks solid effort. I think I've put in over 20 hours of filing and filling thus far.

In my downtime from inhaling probably carcinogenic dust I've been collecting lots of inspirational pictures and texture images to work from. Since Kaladrax is a bone dragon this means I now have hundreds of pictures of bones on my laptop. Most are excellent shots in and of themselves, and do have an artistic value even outside of research. But if someone looks at my images folder without any context I think my laptop might end up with the police.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Kickstarter 2013

The year is coming to a close - as are many more kickstarters. The advent of the crowd source funding has been a boon to tens, if not hundreds by now, of miniature and game makers. I went back over the last year of succesfully funded miniatures projects and picked out the ones I found most interesting to share with you. Rather than list the obvious ones like the massively successful  Reaper Bones kickstarters I've looked for some you may not have noticed or seen. I'll be doing it from a painting and collecting perspective. I have absolutely no idea how the games work or play because I've never been interested in that side, so won't be able to comment on how good they are. Let's start from this time last year!

Fantasy Arc Bug Hunt Corridors

Company: Fantasy Arc
Website: Coming in the new year. Here's the facebook:
Category: Terrain - Modular - Sci fi - MDF

This kickstarter began with an asking amount of $6000 and ended with $81,683 at 263 backers. Laser cut wood seems to be the next big thing in miniatures. This range is based on the same aesthetic as the Alien films' ship interiors. There's a surprising amount of detail on these. The design is excellent in general and I was struck by how atmospheric some of the views down these tiny bits of wood are.

There's straight corridors, t-sections, x-sections, ends sections, airlocks, storage rooms, stairways, loaders, and storage crates. The doors can be opened or closed as well: they sit in spaces between the joining sections and can be pull up and down with a tab at the top. You don't have to choose between permanently open or closed.

I love the aesthetic (very much a fan of Alien and Aliens) and am definitely going to get my hands on some of these when the site and store goes up. And I have a job. And money. 

CMON commissioned a fully painted set to showcase the Sedition Wars skirmish game at a convention. This was assembled, sculpted and painted by Rob Hawkins. The models on the board are for the Battle for Alabaster game, and the infections and organic details sculpted on.

He has a blog which includes a set of detailed photos of the finished board. The rest of the blog is worth a look too - terrain tutorials and more well produced work to look at.

This blogger also received Bug Hunt Corridors and has a post full of very large, clear photos of all the pieces in various stages of assembly.

I am very, very jealous of his terrain order!

He reviews the terrain pieces, the assembly instructions, easy of assembly and shows what each piece looks like fully assembled. Well worth a perusal.

Arena Rex

Company: Red Republic Games
Category: Miniatures - 35mm - Skirmish Game

I don't know how they managed to make the Clash of the Titans films so boring. They took insane, incredible stories about heroes and monsters and made it dull. The Greeks and Romans knew how to design crazy monsters. Their heroes knew how to slay them. These guys know how to make gorgeous minis that let you act out the same thing on a tiny scale. All without having a charisma vacuum playing the main character.

To start with the artwork drew me in. Watercolour tones and a cell shading quality made me go 'ooh' and click the link to see more. The miniatures are at once detailed and interesting without being crowded or fiddly. Varied dynamic poses, variation in equipment and clothes, and some cool female models who aren't just tits on a spine for once! The models have clearly different bodies types as well which is quite unique for a minis range.

As well as Roman gladiators there are some Egyptian themed characters, and Vikings started making their way in towards the end. What is striking me as extra impressive now is how representative the artwork has actually turned out to be for the finalized miniatures. In one particular case the actual model is a big improvement on the concept art.

And some of the monstrous sculpts.

There is one model in particular I'm looking forward to, that hasn't been sculpted yet. This girl:

I should move onto the next kickstarter but I really could just post sculpts and WiPs from Arena Rex. I really want all their female models. I hope they become available soon.

Heroes of the Dwarfs

Company: Oathsworn Miniatures
Category: Miniatures

This is a collection of new dwarf miniatures. I like them because the very crisp sculpting means that they have oodles of detail but aren't overwhelmed. Sometimes I find on models like these it gets difficult to paint and keep track of everything. On these I think it would be easy to paint everything distinctly without getting lost or overdoing it.

That and the shambling mound model looks awesome. Would be great for a D&D set. 

Maki Games Scenery

Company: Maki Games
Category:Terrain - Modular - Sci fi - Plastic

This was another terrain based kickstarter, this time cast plastic pieces rather than laser cut MDF. These guys had a trick up their sleeve that I haven't seen anyone else do yet: the terrain is reversible and features a different theme on each side. First is a standard modern/sci-fi texture. Second is much more in line with the sci-fi future gothic style that is popular in a lot of 40k scenery.

The pieces can be used to make cargo containers (cutely referred to as makitainers on their website), multilevel structures with stairs, bridges, or interlinked corridors. As the kickstarter progressed they introduced new 'themes' to some of the panels meaning more variety and customization. Even the dedicated floor pieces have something different on each side!

I just think being able to flip pieces over for a different theme is a great move.  Hopefully someone will want me to paint up some of these for them soon. I love painting scenery!

HD Stencil System

Company: Anarchy Models
Category: Painting - Stencils

This is a little different from all the others listed previously. A large set of stencils to add detail to your painting. It is easiest to use stencils with an airbrush but really you can use any way of painting with them. They unlocked quite a large selection over the kickstarter and yet again I am quite jealous of all the people who got in on it.

Examples include really cool hexagon and scale patterns:

And some that would probably see much broader appeal, such as tradition camo, digital camo, hotrod flames, tiger stripes, symbols for spraying on tanks and planes.

My favourites though would have to be the tiny sexy ladies, the tiny tanks, and the skulls:

I mean seriously. It's a tank with tiny tanks sprayed on it. It's all I want to paint now. Just painstakingly assemble and paint tanks. Do everything else normally and as well as I can. Then just spray hundreds of tiny tanks on it. Then weather it as normal. Act like I hadn't done anything unusual. Just rock up with my tank covered in tiny tanks.

I think it's a good thing I didn't see this kickstarter when it was up because I would be the owner of hundreds of stencils and a ruined house. My housemate sleeps through me using my airbrush. I would definitely spray tiny sexy ladies on his face the first time he fell asleep in the living room. 

Acheson Creations Terrain

Company: Acheson Creations  
Kickstarter: Fantasy Terrain:
American Frontier Terrain:  
Category: Terrain - Resin 

I nearly didn't click on the link to the fantasy terrain kickstarter. Their advertising image for the front of the KS was really unappealing and did not showcase their unique selling points. I was rewarded for my faith on the other side of the link. 

It's a massive apple pixie house! How cool is this? I'm having James and the Giant Peach flashbacks. I don't like the film and I don't know why. Maybe something bad happened while it was on? I still like peaches so couldn't have been too big a deal. Perhaps I thought the cinematography was poor. I can't think of another opportunity in miniatures to paint up a giant apple.

This bridge may not be as unique as some of their more fairytale inspired pieces but it is 19 inches long. It manages to have the individually sculpted bricks without being overwhelming on detail too. 

And as a stretch goal they unlocked an eldritch horror's anus. Great painting opportunity, both looks fun to paint and can be done in a number of horrific colour schemes. A bloody centre, or bubbling bright green pus. 

Their fantasy collection as a whole looks great for D&D RPG centrepieces, or as bases for diaramas and display models. 

There's a balance to be found in sculpting between having enough detail to convey texture and material, and not having so much that it breaks down the scale and overwhelms. Even though it is more standard terrain I also like the pieces from their other kickstarter based on old american and indian type buildings. 

I want longhouses and wigwams like I have never wanted them before. They have a large range already established on their site. Even outside the kickstarter the prices look good so I really recommend you check them out. 

Battle Systems Terrain

Company: Battle systems
Category: Terrain - Sci fi - Prepainted

These guys have made up some snazzy sci fi terrain that just needs to be assembled. It comes prepainted. I normally avoid anything that comes prepainted because a) they tend to be awful and b) for me the point is the painting!

However these are actually very well designed and themed. It is a general sci fi futuristic metal base set, nothing too specific to keep it open to the most game systems possible. Multistory set ups are possible and there's numerous components that can be set around each room you build including; med bays, computer terminals, pipes, crates, ramps, cloning chambers and battle damaged versions of most things. 

It this stuff was plain plastic terrain you need to paint up yourself I would be super excited. It's nicely detailed and very clear. As it is I think it would be great for people who are less inclined to enjoy painting and building as I am, and more want some really snazzy looking terrain without having to spend hours to get it.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Pheonix Rises! And then rests gently on its side while I make its base...

I finally finished painting something again! The main model of the High Elf Pheonix from games workshop.

From a technical perspective it isn't 'finished' as there are some parts of the models that are not completely painted and only received basic colour blocking. But these are all parts of the model that aren't usually visible and thus were parts I wanted to contrast with the bits that were focal - like under the wings. I made it so if they were visible from a position they weren't distracting or looked outright unpainted, but didn't spend a lot of time on them. This mini was neglected for quite a few weeks as the length of time it was taking to paint was burning me out. I ended up stopping when I decided I need to paint something else, rather than when I thought the mini was good and finished.

It was another one that I used to try out lots of new things on and so took far longer than it would if I sat down with a particular goal in mind and just steam rolled towards it. Nonetheless, even as a learning piece, I really like the way it came out.

I was going to sell it originally - been offered quite a lot of money for it actually - but I've decided to give it to my nan instead. I don't think she quite understands why I like painting models the size of my thumb but I know she will be over the moon to have something I've made given to her, and that is is far more worth it in my opinion. It's also the only model I've painted in a long time that isn't some kindof monster or vehicles, so the first one I think she will actually like having around!

I have also been improving my photography!

My favourite artistic look at the moment is the same kind as featured in the Torchlight games and to a lesser extent Borderlands. The piece of wall terrain from the Garden of Morr set showed it applied to a painted mini. I still want to get good at the more traditional style of mini painting that aims towards (relative) realism. On this one I decided to combine them so I didn't get bored and also because I thought I would end up with a better looking model. 

 The tail was repainted several times. Luckily it only takes half an hour in some diluted dettol to have it scrubbed completely clean and ready for painting again, so it wasn't too painful. At one point I had to redo it because it was painted perfectly and then I slathered it in wash instead of another piece of the model. Despite my best efforts it turned into a gloopy gritty mess.

You can see here that the gems aren't fully painted and that the underside is simple compared to the upper side. I tried to give the helmet good contract to make up for the fact that I wasn't doing much else fancy with it. 

Here's a breakdown of what I focused on and achieved across painting the model:

I worked on unifying the colours across the whole model. There's a balance of gold across all of it. I used the same shade of white/ivory as the final highlight across all of it to link all the different shades of blue/turqouise together.

I focused on creating higher contrast than I normally do by using the colour green in the turqouise base. I also used green to try and create temperature variation where the two parts of the wings meet. I applied lots of very thin blue/green washes between the feathers to deepen the colour chance.

On the individual tail feathers I used lots of tiny brushstrokes to simulate real feathers. It is harder to tell through photos but its given them lovely texture in person and sets them apart from the surrounding 'magical' feathers. Was also very zen.

I had to do lots of fancy hand work with the airbrush to get all the highlights and fades in the right places. The inside of my nostrils are still blue.

I also got some good freehand practice. All those white highlight lines were draw with a steady hand, rather than using edge lining. I can now paint short white lines like a pro.

I hope one day these new skills will serve me in life.

I am currently painting some high elves and swearing alot. Everytime I pick up a paintbrush it's like everything I know falls out of my head and I just stab wildly at the model shrieking 'Why it no work precious?!'.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


I have been painting the new(ish) High Elf pheonix model - the ice version rather than the fire version. I've seen a number of them painted up and everyone seems to have gone for very similar paint schemes, none of which I liked very much. I found them quite boring and wasting alot of the detail on the model. I'm not going to link or display any here because I really doubt people will be happy for me to show their photos as examples of work I don't think is good.

I have of course got the GW studio pictures to hand. The Phoenix has two model types: flamespyre and frostheart. Original names I know. The model itself is gorgeous. Very well sculpted. Interesting, with a good balance of details across the span of the model and along it's length. It has enough unique elements to set it apart from the pre-existing griffon and flying models that are out there.

But the paint jobs are just so damn boring and minimum effort. I thought two things to moment I picked up the box; 'That's a really nice sculpt' and 'I can paint that better'.

Flamespyre Phoenix Side View

Flamespyre Phoenix Top View

Frostheart Phoenix Side View

Frostheart Phoenix Top View

It's all just really basic, dull shades with half hearted highlighting. Whats the point of having those details - the extra flame licks, the snowflakes, if you are just going to paint it the same as the surrounding model?

I went for the Frostheart model because I like the cold elements more and wanted to paint something not red after the ordeal that was my Ork Bomba a while ago.

Putting the model together was straightforward. No mold lines that were hard to remove - it seemed like they'd put some more thought into it than usual and everything was easy to scrape off without going around delicate details. Very sturdy as well. All the individual tails parts and feathers are firm and wont break easily.

I decided that although I liked the blue for the base colour I did not like how ... bland the original paint job looked, or how dull the base colours were.

Here's my current progress on the model. I know I am sorely lacking in technical skill compared to alot of the phoenix paint jobs out there, but I'm much happier with this design than the standard one. For each section I'll list the colours I used and how I painted it.

I left the model in sections because I wanted a couple of sharp colours changes without needing to masking tape hundreds of fiddly bits.

I started with the Vallejo model colour primer in white, applied in 3 fine, thinned layers with a airbrush. Then I laid down a basecoat of deep blue, again with the airbrush.

Then I used a turquoise colour (I started with hawk turqouise but changed to the VMC equivalent, much nicer paint) in the airbrush and sprayed it over the model at a 35 degree angle. I kept the paintbrush aimed as I usually do - for me this is angled diagonally down at the desk - and then tilted the model so the bottom of the feathers were pointed nearly straight down. I used light, quick coats. 

Doing it at an angle meant that there was a natural fade in the colour and it developed contrast and shadows straight away. I did this with progressively lightened shades of turquoise - made by adding in lighter turqouise paint and then a cream colour paint - and sprayed at a progressively sharper angle. The closer I was to the wing tips the more fine and delicate I made the spray. The sharpness of the shadows and strength of the contrast between the feathers did reduce but I knew I was going to bring it back with washes later on, so focused more on getting a pretty fade than precision application.

I didn't take many pictures of the step by step progress because I was having too much fun to stop painting. I applied this technique to the head as well, and the section of feathers that go into the indentation along the spine that you can see above. 

This image is a bit further alone in the paint process but illustrates the pieces that I'm talking about and how they look with the airbrushing applied. You can see as well; when I finished airbrushing them and began brushwork, I painted the tiny snowflakes in between the feathers in white. These details were neat but fiddly to get good coverage on with pooling or the patience of a saint. The helmet got a silver basecoat in advance of gryphon sepia and devlun mud washes to give it an old, majestic gold look. There's also a gloss coat because the paint was fragile. 

Next step was restoring the contrast and shadows. I diluted asurman blue wash about 1:2 or 1:3 wash:water and, using a 0 winsor and newton brush, applied it about a millimeter away from the overlap of the feathers and then drew the bristles up towards the corner where the layers met. I did this with minimal wash in my brush. You need a lot less than you think you do to get a meaningful amount of colour down. It is better to start of with less than it is to start with more and accidentally swamp the model. If this did happen, I just used a clean, tiny bit damp, fluffy paintbrush I had to the side and sponged it up. 

It took about three layers to build up proper shadows again. I knew the mixture was right and I was painting in the correct amount when the first bit I laid down was dry by the time I had worked it into the crevices on the rest of the wing. 

Again these pictures are from further along in the painting process but after the washes the shadows were left alone for the rest of the painting process. You can see where it goes into deep, softly blended shadows between each feathers and between each layer. I also added a few dabs of wash between some of the feathers on the top of the main body, but it was less necessary than on the wings because there is a much sharper transition between feathers on the back. 

 After I had re added the shadows I decided I wanted the outermost feathers to fade closer to a creamy, almost white turqouise colour. You can see this in the above pictures. It was just achieved by mixing light turouise (VMC) with cream paint and airbrushing on successive layers and occasionally adding a touch more cream to it.

This still didn't have enough detail or contrast for me so I decided to mix in some of my favourite painting style, that you've seen when I posted my garden of more WIPs. I diluted the cream colour I had been using about 1:3 paint to water. Using a winsor and newton 0 brush again I held the model so the feathers were pointing away from me. With a slow but steady hand I pulled the brush away from me on all the outside edges of the feathers. I did one layer on each feather before going back and repeating it. I also drew the highlights down the centre of feathers that had a prominent line sculpted into them.

It took 3 or 4 layers to get the strong, full cream colour coat. Now this meant that I had the lightest colour next to the darkest colour. It also meant I had a bit more than just 'airbrush blend' on the model. I was really pleased I had gotten my favoured painting style mixed into the more natural blending style.

This is what it looks like across the whole wing spread now. 

That's the state the body is currently in, and I'd say it's 95% finished. I applied the technique I'd used on the wings to the crest as well. 

I used a paintbrush to add in the last few turqouise blends, using thinned layers and a gradual increase of cream paint to keep the transition smooth as it is on the rest of the model. I couldn't do this part with the airbrush because the details were too fine. The shadows just got coloured in. I also reinforced the shadows here the same as I did on the wings. Then I took my trust W&N 0 and the cream paint again. This time I only thinned it 1:1. I had carefully loaded up on a small bit of paint and then brushed it out until the bristles were flat. Then I ran the flattened bristles perpendicular to the edges of each flick. I didn't paint it the same way as the feathers because these bits aren't flat and there was too big a chance I would slip a tiny bit and just paint white in the crevices.

I did this a few times, starting further up the section as I went so the white was stronger and lighter at the top. The final colour was still lighter than the white snowflakes though.

I used brushwork again to finish the highlights on the feathers of the head for the same reason as on the above piece. The helmet was heavily washed with devlin mud. When that had fully dried it received a layer of gryphon sepia. The top section was highlighted with a dense gold colour. This was washed again with gryphon sepia. The edges of the gold was blended in with careful, diluted layers of devlin mud and gryphon sepia painted starting just after the join and then pulled towards the outside of the model.

The eye was basecoated white, the tongue red, and the beak shadow grey. The raised sections of the eye area with painted with the lightest colour that had been used on the surrounding feathers, and dilute blue wash painted carefully into the creases.

 The wing tips were painted and scrubbed clean at least three times before I settled on a look I liked. I decided I saw them as magical extensions of the wing, not just extra long feathers. Like a magical, icey trail behind it. I wanted it to have a sharp colour change but still be within the same theme. Up until now I had use warm versions of all the colours I applied, or as warm as I could. I started with a mix of VMC emerald as the basecoat, to give a blue green tint to the most shadowed section and a contrast to the main model. Then I made up colder versions and started with a very pale mix of VMC blue-green and white. This was applied with an airbrush over a couple of layers. 

This was then switched for a nearly pure white, thinned with water and medium until it was translucent. I airbrushed this onto the last 1/5 of the feathers. I started at the furthest part of each tip and gradually made my way inwards using very delicate and very fast movements with the brush. I kept angling the piece when I airbrushed it like I had done with the body before, to make sure I caught the lightest colours on the edges and left the darkest shades in the deepest parts. 

I was originally going to paint the snowflakes here white but thought it look too boring against the pale background. I decided I would paint the smaller ones white - as I had done on the front section of the model - and paint the larger ones gold to match the armour on the model. I didn't think I would be able to paint them silver and then wash them without having to painstakingly draw lots of thinned wash layers over each one, so decided to go with a straight gold from VMC. This turned out to be too bright compared to the helmet so I have ended up spending hours colouring them in with mud and sepia washes anyway. The golds are slowly starting to match though!

 I have found it almost impossible to photograph this section properly. I need to get a couple of extra lights then put it on a dark background I think - everything is too washed out with a light background. For now I guess this shows it off fine.

I redid the same things with the shadows as I did earlier - this time with the wash very heavily diluted and with a tiny touch of green in. Disaster struck when I was painting one of the wings. My asurman blue had died without my realising and as a result I painted speckly, grainy blue into the shadows of one wing. It looked awful. I had to repaint alot of the wing - and all the blending - by hand using a tiny paintbrush. It was awful! I was actually holding them over the dettol tub about to drop them both in - because the blue wash had made it look so bad - but stopped myself at the last second.

I was quite chuffed though. When I have the right set up I'll photo them both side by side. You can only see the difference looking very closely. The power of hundreds of thing layers!

That's where I'm at so far.

The tail section is currently bare plastic. I had it partally painted and then accidentally washed over something with the wrong mix and ruined it. It has since been for a swim in dettol and scrubbed clean, just waiting to be sprayed again.

The final details; gems, armour, eyes, etc will be painted over the following week. Check back soon!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Tomb Raider

I have been very distracted by the new Tomb Raider game, and finding my copy of Xenoblade Chornicles. I'm going to be doing LPs of both so it's going to steal some more time away from all this.

I am working on a new blog/site too - that will have all my stuff on it. So the LPs, the painting, the articles, the artwork I'm doing. It will be snazzy.

Keep painting!

Oh and buy the new Tomb Raider. Goddamn I can't remember the last time I felt this powerful and awesome playing a female character.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Reaper Bones Megaset

This is just a quick post about the Reaper Bones megaset.

If you don't know, Reaper launched a massive kickstarter to help launch their line of bendy plastic models. The idea was that they wanted to return to cheaper, but still good quality, models. The kickstarter allowed you to 'purchase' a massive set for incredibly cheap.

General cool guy goon Invictus has a set of 'Vampire' level pledges which includes all of the following models for sale at his ebay account here.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

New (Tiny) Faces of Wargaming (Part One)

For most people the face of miniature wargaming is Games Workshop. It’s the only company with dedicated shops in most towns and shopping centres. As a commercial entity, and as a set of gaming systems, GW and all associated works has upsides and downsides. Until recently there were not many contenders to the warhammer throne. Miniatures are expensive: especially playing in game systems where you are required to have models painted and based to be allowed to use them. Not just expensive for gamers, but for people wanting to start their own companies and game systems up with the already established warhammer behemoth looming over them.

But with the serious push from crowd sourced funding reducing the personal funding needed, the steady state of recession making people look for higher quality for their money, and developments in the technology involved in sculpting and casting miniatures making it cheaper and easier to provide that quality, a new wave of games and miniature companies to step forward.

I’ve been poking around and looking at what companies (new and already established) have been pushing forward in the last year or so with new game systems and models. I’m still 100% a painter – so I can’t comment on the quality of the proposed gameplay – but I’ve tried to gather together work that looks interesting or unique.

Some are from big, established companies, Some are from new individuals. Some you will have seen or heard of, but hopefully there will be some new and interesting things in here for everyone.
Basically it’s a description of the gameplay, features and models that caught my eye for either good or bad reasons, and reviews from people who’ve got them. The article looks long because – as usual – there’s hundreds of pictures.

There's actually a hell of alot of this kindof stuff going on

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster – Minis and game

Let’s start with one of the biggest, which I can’t stop calling Battle for Sebastian.

A non-sexualised girl and a black guy on the cover. It is awesome :)

Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster is a skirmish based sci-fi/horror miniature game created by Studio McVey, published by Cool Mini or Not and funded using Kickstarter. It – alongside the original Zombicide game – was one of the first tabletop gaming entries to completely explode through the crowdfunding model. They started with a goal of $20,000 to get the basic game boxset into production. This included (to begin with) 50 miniatures, board to play on, tokens and stat cards. They were fully funded within six hours of starting.

After that they added wave after wave of stretch goals. More and more miniatures were added to each reward level. More parts of the game and planned expansions were revealed. Materials were upgraded from cardboard to plastic, different varieties of models became available and so on.
They posted their design ideas, rough drafts and concept art, stories. Kept updating on how the commercial side of the process was going. It wasn’t all smooth sailing – there were delays and a couple of upsets in production and delivery – but now the kickstarter seems to have been a booming success for them even as it flew past their expectations.
It finished with over 4000 backers and nearly $1,000,000 total pledged.

A large part of this success was not only because of the quality of product and IP on display. Studio McVey are already very well established in the miniature business community. Both Ali and Mike McVey have been professional painters and sculptors for years, and have previous experience not only working for miniature companies (Games Workshop) but also building a company with new IP (Privateer Press, Warmachine/Hordes). ‘Studio McVey’ exists as well as a site they display and sell unique sculpts to be collected and painted – not associated with any gaming systems but instead with the hobby itself.

Ali McVey is one of my favourite sculptors and painters

I went in for the Kickstarter and bought a number of things including the base boxed game. When everything has finished turning up I will do a separate post on the sets as a whole. Skirmish based miniature games are really trying to push their way to the front at the moment. Not only are games trying to distinguish themselves with better quality materials, sculpts, and accessibility but with how long the games actually take to play. One consistent problem with miniature wargaming is the length of time required for proper games and matches to be played. Pretty much every game I’m going to cover in this makes a point of how you don’t need hours upon hours free to get good use out of them.

Battle for Alabaster is one of the games coming forward as something you can play as part of an afternoons activities – not as what your whole afternoon with friends is going to be. 

I’ll let the ‘gameplay’ videos sit here and speak for themselves if you are interested. I’ve tried to dig about and find people’s opinions of the actual gaming side of each set as well.

Sedition Wars describes its battle system as being more involving at the same time as being simpler than your current average wargame. The rules reflect this. It comes with a neat little colour booklet describing gameplay with examples, and each model comes with a little graphic card describing their stats and gameplay. There’s no large expensive book to buy for the core game and then expansion books to buy to be able to play a specific force.

I really like this about Sedition Wars and the other games taking the same approach. I have always felt very put off, and more than a little annoyed, that to play officially with the expensive models I had bought and spent hours prepping I would also have to spend lots of money and time on books and all that word learnin’ stuff. Reading? I think it’s called reading. I’m dictating this article to a typewriting monkey.

I know the use of decks and short rule books isn’t new and certainly not being lead by Sedition Wars, but this is the first time I’ve had the option sat in front of me and I am finding myself going ‘Yeah I might actually try this’. Normally I sit in front of a GW model I’ve painted for 40 hours and the idea of learning how many dice I roll to see if the matt varnish frosts makes me want to fling it out a window.

I don’t know want to have a bit of my brain permanently taken up by knowing that a level 4 arch-lich rolls a d6 to mindflay someone or whatever. I don’t want to flick through a book to find it in the middle of a game either. Looking down at the table to a little card with my happy little liche’s face and stats on? That sounds good. 

Gameplay is very much a bonus for me though, and what really drew me into the kickstarter and made me put my (parent’s) money where their paypal account is was the design and sculpts.

Two things;

They are all really cool and the art direction is fantastic.

Lots of female miniatures with nary a sign of Tits McGee, the physically impossible imaginary girlfriend of men who have never touched a really woman, or even a fake one bigger than 1 inch.

The bad guys in the game follow the trend that everything seems to have fallen for at the moment. Variations of infected/zombies/parasites seem to be the only bad guy available for gaming this year. There’s enough spin on the design to keep them interesting and different though. The McVeys also produced some painted versions of all their miniatures at the beginning to showcase what could be done with them.

Examples from the initial Kickstarter post

The bare sculpts all looked very clean, finely detailed and offered something different to the standard. Everything was more in proportion and less clumpy than GW type models. Even the most sexualised model - the bottom left monster figure in the image above - isn't suffering from boobitus.

Painted models from the Kickstarter post
And here they all are in their pretty studio paint jobs. Despite being out for a couple of months I really can't find any painted up models from the set outside of the company's own. Ali McVey has painted up a couple of gorgeous versions of the main character 'Kara Black'.

Zombicide - Minis and Game

Crowdfunding Dates – May 6, 2012.

 Goal Funding – $20,000

Received Funding – $781,597

Backers - 5258

Zombicide was the first really big miniature game that grabbed everyones attention through Kickstarter. Not just gamers but anyone looking into the crowd funding model. Another product published by Cool Mini or Not, created by Guillotine games. It’s the first output from the company, but not the first work from the people in it. The head honchos are a collection of Rackham veterans including ones who worked on Confrontation.

I’ve looked up the guys they list but can’t immediately find any of their work. The best that pops up is this when I type in Jean-Baptiste Lullien 

Possibly not the person we're thinking of

I should have written this one first but I guess I was biased by my ownership of Sedition Wars. It’s so pretty…

Anyway. Zombicide had similar selling points. It was presented as an all in one box set game – everything you needed to play in one box including 71 miniatures, gaming tiles, tokens, deck of cards for gameplay and of course the rules. It was short, offering several difficulty levels with games lasting between half an hour and three hours. It also came with a couple of different game modes and scenarios. You can actually view a number of them on this page:

You may notice something else on this page: an editor! They also released an editor for designing and changing scenarios and maps, and blank item and character cards. I will have to shuffle about and find someone that has actually used it. In principle I think it’s quite nifty and a good inclusion. It has the official artwork and objects of the game. 

No matter the quality of the base game, not only allowing but enabling players to make their own ‘versions’ is a good thing in my opinion. Even if the groundwork is poor it lets people take the parts they like and produce more (possibly improved) improved content and share it. I think it shows a better side to the initial creators in that they want to share the whole world with the players, not just the parts they produce for money. 

Here’s some reviews and coverage of gameplay. 

I have had the opportunity to peruse a copy of Zombicide at my local nerd-games store. The minis are slightly more bendy than normal plastic which was odd. They are described as being 28mm ‘heroic’ scale miniatures but this is as arbitrary a descriptor as usual. The human models are a little smaller in all dimensions than a standard human GW figure. This image from the kickstarter page shows some of the player models and zombie models next to a space marine. Not the most useful comparison but better than nothing I suppose! 

It is quite a nifty, sturdy set in person like the Sedition Wars one. 

The majority consensus on Zombicide seems to be that the game itself is somewhat lackluster. People have had fun but overall say it’s not as good as it could be and its popularity somewhat outstrips the quality of the gameplay. But as far as price per mini goes it’s quite good.  

Esteemed goon colleague posted about his groups' positive experience with the game in a thread:

King Burgundy:

"Reasons my group loves it:

1) Cooperative. Cooperative games are a bonus for a few of our players who prefer those games to the more cutthroat ones we rotate through.
2) The feel of playing it really does evoke a lot of the same scenarios one would expect in a zombie movie. Dilemma's like splitting up or staying together based on the scenario you are playing, being overwhelmed, etc.
3) Turns go pretty quick, not a lot of waiting around, very easy to learn and play. One of our regulars is really not the type that would play a normal miniatures style game like 40k and as a result I was worried he wouldn't be in to this either, but he loved it. It may end up being a bit of a gateway game.
4) The survivors are a pretty fun lot to play as, quite a few nods to pop culture, it lends itself to a lot of fun around the table, trash talk, etc. Oh, and like suggested above, our group DOES love pop culture reference chars/zombies, so that definitely plays a part.
5) It's difficult, depending on the scenario, you can't just blaze through it and expect to win, but not soul crushingly so, like Arkham Horror.
6) Plenty of leeway for designing your own scenarios and adjusting things to increase or decrease the difficulty or change the way the game plays.  "

In general Zombicide tried to push a 'pulp' aesthetic. Pretty much every player character is a reference to either a particular character or stereotype.

As you can see the basic player set include rifle toting old guy, asian girl with katana, and a... skating waitress with a chainsaw. They also produced Sheldon from Big Bang Theory and Machete from... Machete as stretch goal models.

Ofcourse the Maxican model is in brown plastic.

Big Bang Theory is a terrible show. I would get Sheldon eaten by zombies everytime.
The game was successful enough that they have launched a second 'season' of zombicide, as well as an add on pack compatible with either the first or second main boxed game. This is out as another kickstarter and includes tens more referential characters with every one from Shaun (Shaun of the Dead) to Hannibal Lecter (Ancient Carthaginian).