Monday, August 13, 2018

Reaper Miniatures Updated Picture for Ankheg - 77230

I wasn't quite happy with the Ankheg pics - the larger models I use my mobile phone for the picture and it has a tendency to oversaturate the colors on the model.  I placed them on a black mousepad and retook the picture from further away using zoom and a bit more indirect natural lighting.  I think this picture is a better representation.  Can't wait to use them in a game!

Reaper Miniatures Ankheg - 77230

I had some fun today painting up a squad of Ankhegs.  These were from the Bones line by Reaper and again I can't say enough good things on the value of this mini in Bones.  For $3.99 versus $13.79 for the metal version, you can build an entire squad at a reasonable cost - $16 versus $52 is some significant savings!

I painted these using the same technique with the difference being the undercarriage of the beast.  I wanted to give each one something different for some flavor - one set is purple, one green, one blue, and the other brown.  I also based these on Reaper's round bases that came with one of the Kickstarters.

The Ankheg was sculpted by Kevin Williams and I'm starting to get a liking for what he's done - recently I painted the four small dragons - red, green, blue, black and the two flower pods (death star lillies) as well as the fly demon.

Painting instructions for Ankheg (I went back to my Vallejo Game Colors)...

Step 1: Undercoat model with Charred Brown - gave entire model and base solid coat
Step 2: Drybrush Gory Red
Step 3: Drybrush Bloody Red
Step 4: Drybrush Orange Fire
Step 5: Drybrush Sunburst Yellow
Step 6: Use Black on claws
Step 7: Use Night Blue as highlights on claws
Step 8: Use Night Blue, Magic Blue, Electric Blue on undercarriage
Step 8: Use Scurvy Green, Jade Green, Foul Green on undercarriage
Step 8: Use Beasty Brown, Leather Brown, Plague Brown on undercarriage
Step 8: Use Royal Purple, Warlord Purple, Squid Pink on undercarriage
Step 9: Drybrush Earth on base
Step 10: Drybrush Khaki on base
Step 11: Drybrush Desert Yellow on base
Step 12: Drybrush Bonewhite on base

Kickstarter paint total: 110 + 4 Ankhegs = 114

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Reaper Miniatures Factory Tour...

I've been meaning to post something on my Reaper Miniatures factory tour and Reapercon 2017.  The Reapercon article(s) might take a while (Reapercon 2018 might come around), but I'll take some time this 4th of July holiday to post some thoughts and pictures of our fantastic tour through the factory.

Flamingos at DWA
Dealey Plaza
Three months ago I took my boys up to Dallas (we live in Austin) for a weekend to take in a Monday night Dallas Stars hockey game.  Over the weekend we spent time in downtown Dallas doing the touristy stuff.

JFK assassination site and The Sixth Floor Museum at what was the School Book Depository at the time of the shooting (which was surprisingly interesting and well presented).

The Dallas World Aquarium which I think has more birds and mammals than fish.  If there ever was a bird that was more fantasy than reality, it would have to be the flamingo - everything about them from how they look to the way they walk is just amazing and as if taken right out of the D&D Monster Manual.

Monday we had time during the day prior to the evening's hockey game and decided to make a visit to Reaper's HQ.  We called ahead of time before making the trip and they said yes, come on up and they'd schedule us in.  I have to say, in a world where seemingly the art of customer service is lost, the folks who work for Reaper have it and then some.  Everyone we encountered from my initial phone call until the end of our visit was extremely courteous and helpful.

The facility is located at 9062 Teasley Ln, Denton, TX 76210.  The location is all-in-one - game store, showroom, factory, and office.  Here's what I wrote in my 5-Star Google review...
The ultimate mecca for fantasy miniatures.  This store carries all their product lines.  The display room is amazing - filled with glass cabinets with thousands of amazingly painted miniatures.  Can spend a solid hour and still not see all.  We had the factory tour by John who is caster and mold maker.  He was fantastic!  Really understands the business and enjoyed taking us around the facility and explaining the process of what goes into manufacturing paints and miniatures.  Highly recommend the visit to anyone interested in the hobby or American manufacturing.
That's the summary of our visit.  The public entrance is through their game store where they have wall pegs of all their various miniatures, some open boxed boardgames, and several tables to sit around.  We were quickly brought into the miniature showroom which was simply awesome!  Every painted miniature that graces their website was presented in glass cabinets with plenty of lighting.  No matter how good the picture, there's nothing like seeing these miniatures up close, in person, and in 3d versus a flat 2d picture.

Glass cabinets filled with painted miniatures.
There's glass shelf upon glass shelf of models as well as many of the dioramas that have been created over the last 20 years.  Here's a sampling (I snapped over 100 pics)...

We were able to take in quite a bit of eye candy as we arrived just a bit earlier than our designated time slot.  However, I could have easily stayed in that room all afternoon.

The factory is typical of an American small manufacturing facility - I've spent a career implementing enterprise software in small to medium size manufacturing and distribution facilities.  There are shelves for inventory, machines producing product, computer terminals, and all sorts of conveyors for moving material around.  The difference is this factory has very cool pirate flags!

Inside Reaper Miniature's factory operations.
Our factory tour was guided by John.  Whatever they pay him is not enough for his courtesy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the operations and casting.  He was an encyclopedia of knowledge and provided details on every aspect of what goes into producing your miniatures.

John took us through the rubber mold making area where we viewed the process of how they generate the molds in casting metal miniatures.  He then brought us into the booth where they pour molten metal into a spin-caster which fills the cavity of the molds.  Pretty much instantly the metal hardens and upon opening the mold there are approximately a dozen miniatures.

The miniatures then go to a QC inspection area where they look for any bubbles or gaps in the figure - if so, then those are reviewed to determine why prior to being re-cast.  After passing QC the miniatures go to packaging where they're inserted into blister packages.  Upon being sealed, the packages move into shipping as they momentarily wait for your internet order - the computer prints out a pick ticket and your miniatures are pulled, packed, and shipped.

A great operation!  When we finished the factory tour we did get to see the paint mixing and bottle filling.  A piece of customized robotics fills and seals the little dropper bottles of paint.  We were also taken upstairs to the office area where we saw new miniatures being designed on CAD equipment, a very cool 3d printer, Reaper Ron in his office (super nice - takes time out of his day to greet and thank you for visiting), and marketing.

There's lots of eye candy in regards to drawings, posters, etc. everywhere but what really caught my eye, which is hung by the stairs going up to the office, is a Keith Parkinson lithograph in a shadow box which also has their first box set miniature sculpted by Sandra Garrity.  Displayed in the bottom of the shadow box are three items: an unpainted set, the box itself, and a painted set.  Super cool!

If you can't tell, I highly recommend making a visit to Reaper Miniatures facilities if you live anywhere near Dallas or happen to be heading there.  They're located in Denton which is a suburb north of the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area.  In the middle of the day, we were able to make the trip from downtown Dallas in about 45 minutes.  There's a Chick-fil-a as soon as you get off the highway which is a good stop for lunch prior to making your visit.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

WizKids Troll - WZK72573

A fantastic sculpt from the new WizKids unpainted line which is right from the Dungeons and Dragons 5e Monster Manual.  Again, I give them a big two thumbs up on distribution and pricing of these plastic models - $3.99 gets you one large or two medium creatures - in this case, the Troll is a large and comes in a single pack.  This is from their Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures line -

I'm also quite impressed with the plastic material - it's mostly rigid with just enough give that it shouldn't break if dropped at the gaming table.  The rigidity keeps the creature's appendages from deforming - they also package the miniature in a two-part plastic sleeve that ensures no bending, deformation, nor breakage during the distribution process from their factory to your home.  Best of all it's already assembled and primed with Vallejo grey primer.  Kudos all around for a fantastic product.

My only negative is not knowing the sculptor - I feel that it's an important part of the hobby.

Painting instructions for Troll...

Step 1: Use Mossy Green on entire troll body
Step 2: Use various mixes of Mossy Green and Pale Saffron - the wet pallet was perfect for this - just kept adding more yellow but reserved my previous mixes - the boils were more Pale Saffron than Mossy Green
Step 3: Use Crimson Red on loincloth and tongue
Step 4: Use Rich Leather on belt
Step 5: Use Solid Black on hair, fingernails, and base
Step 6: Use a wash of Solid Black on loincloth and belt
Step 7: Use Crimson Red on loincloth to highlight
Step 8: Use Solid Blue on hair and fingernails as a highlight
Step 9: Use Tusk Ivory on teeth
Step 10: Drybrush Concrete Grey on base

Friday, June 29, 2018

Reaper Miniatures Demi-Lich - 77352

This is a fun sculpt that looks like it's only in the Bones line from Reaper.  I did some generic searching and looked through the Dark Heaven Legends line as well as the Warlords line and didn't come across a metal version of this sculpt - which is too bad, the metal version of this model would be great.  My only other critique is that I think it would be more fun if the skull was enlarged just a bit.

This model makes a great figure for the Flameskull monster which finally made its way out of a Forgotten Realms specific monster book and into generic Dungeons and Dragons lore.  It's used spectacularly in the 5e basic set in the Mines of Phandelver introductory campaign module - which, in my opinion, is the best "starter" module from any edition of Dungeons and Dragons - it's going to go down as a classic.  I had so much fun with this guy in our home game that I'm going to figure out how to use him again in another campaign.

Painting - normally I would have a really good set of instructions and paint used.  This model confounded me a bit.  I was expecting this one to be a quicky; but it went through a few variations and tried a bit of layering, washing, drybrushing - pretty much all the tricks.  I also couldn't get the exact colors I was wanting to use - the picture in the monster manual had some blue and white flames in there as well and I just couldn't get it to look right.  In the end, I used the Retro Emerald color which was distributed at ReaperCon 2017 mixed with various amounts of Solid White.  As this is supposed to be a flame, the inside would have the white with the darker green towards the ends.  I then did a splash of a watered down green on my cobblestones to give the aura of the flame playing across the dungeon.

The end result is alright and I'll look forward to using this guy often.

Kickstarter paint total: 109 + 1 Lich = 110

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Reaper Miniatures Gargoyle Warrior - 2379

Third of three gargoyles that I had sitting around and used as a bit of humor ala Fable (the rpg video game) during a recent family game night.  I initially thought I might paint them as a red stone and then they could do double-duty as a small demon, but finally decided to go with a traditional stone color.  Painting was really simple - basecoat of black, drybrush of concrete, drybrush of arctic, and finally a wash of nightsky blue.

Reaper Miniatures Gargoyle Warrior - 2374

Second of three gargoyles that I had sitting around and used as a bit of humor ala Fable (the rpg video game) during a recent family game night.  I initially thought I might paint them as a red stone and then they could do double-duty as a small demon, but finally decided to go with a traditional stone color.  Painting was really simple - basecoat of black, drybrush of concrete, drybrush of arctic, and finally a wash of nightsky blue.

Reaper Miniatures Gargoyle - 2038

First of three gargoyles that I had sitting around and used as a bit of humor ala Fable (the rpg video game).  I initially thought I might paint them as a red stone and then they could do double-duty as a small demon, but finally decided to go with a traditional stone color.  Painting was really simple - basecoat of black, drybrush of concrete, drybrush of arctic, and finally a wash of nightsky blue.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Reaper Miniatures Chimera - 77257

This was a fun model to paint up and should prove to be a good wandering monster as the party makes their way through the Fields of the Dead just north of Baldur's Gate.  Hopefully I can burn them to a crisp, maul them with a paw, and gore them with a horn.

Painting instructions for Chimera...

Step 1: Undercoat model with Stynylrez green primer (this is awesome on bones)
Step 2: Use Maroon Red on dragon head, tail and wings
Step 3: Use Garnet Red on dragon head, tail and wings as first highlight
Step 4: Use Brilliant Red on dragon head, tail and wings as final highlight
Step 5: Use Griffon Tan on lion body
Step 6: Use Desert Tan as highlights on lion body
Step 7: Use Umber Brown on lion mane
Step 8: Use Ruddy Brown on lion mane
Step 9: Use Sunburn Flesh on lion mane
Step 10: Use Armor Grey on goat head
Step 11: Use Dirty Grey as highlights on goat head
Step 12: Use Maiden Flesh on goat nose
Step 13: Use Tusk Ivory on horns
Step 14: Use Maiden Flesh as highlights on horns
Step 15: Use Solid Block on lion nose and the base
Step 16: Use Armor Grey as highlight on lion nose
Step 17: Drybrush Concrete Grey on base
Step 18: Drybrush Arctic Grey on base as highlight
Step 19: Drybrush Solid White on base as final highlight

Kickstarter paint total: 108 + 1 Chimera = 109