Archive for May, 2008

Pirate Flag

Pirate FlagFor my daughter’s 3rd birth day we threw her a pirate themed party – and that required a pirate flag. The skull and crossbones shape is a hand drawn stencil applied to a standard black plastic tablecloth using doubled sided Scotch tape. The spray paint took well to the plastic sheet, bleed thru was minor around the stencile, over spray was moderate (windy day) and the double stick tape holding the stencil easily pulled off with the paper.

As a gaming aid, I can see a lot of uses for table mats created using this method. Imperial Eagles, cammo patterns, cobble stone streets – just about anything could be cut into a stencil and sprayed onto a plastic sheet. Don’t feel like making your own – check out Litko’s selection of pre-made stencils.


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Reveiw: Master Basing Kit

Spectre Hobbies was good enough to provide a Master Class Scenery & Basing Kit for review here at Chicago Terrain Factory. The package includes 4 seasons of turf & static grass, long strand field grass, snow cover, assorted cork, wood chips, white glue, water effect, sand, Texture Paste – White, Mineral Texture Gel and a few supporting items such as bases and stir sticks. The kit retails for $21.99 and is a quick and affordable way to stock up a modeling collection.


My favorite components of the basing kit are the two jars of paste. The Texture Paste is a creamy white material which applies sort of like shaving cream. Mineral Texture Gel contains sand and does a fine job of adding grit to the base of a model. Use either to cover slota base holes or to provide dry brush ready texture. The Mineral Gel dries solid, but retains an elastic property – I found this the hard way when trying to cut holes for field grass. Once my jars run dry, I’ll be looking to restock from Spectre.

Weighing in at .2 oz, the bags of turf and static grass are more than enough for an army sized basing project. When finishing my Pirate project, I based 19 figures using both turf & flock and barely put a dent in the amount supplied. The color range is similar to ground covers sold by Woodland Scenics, adding the stronger colors sold by Noch would be a nice upgrade to this kit.


I’m not sold 100% on cork as a rock substitute – it always seems to look a bit “corky”, but look at the example base to decide for yourself. Rather than supplying three types of cork, the kit might better supply single sheets with instructions to rip into rocks. I used one of the flat sheets on the base above and quickly began to generate my own cork rocks.

The one part water effect provides a high gloss finish to an already textured surface (see Texture Paste above). I’d rather have seen a 2 part kit included that is able to create a 3D water effect.


The field grass packages are much too small – creating 4 plugs for the pirate bases used up half of supplied grass.

The wood chips for use as slate are much too big. Of the two pieces, the smallest covers a 30mm base and the largest is better used on a CD sized base.

Full Disclosure: Spectre and CTF have an on going business relationship. This review is not compensated and not part of that relationship.


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Lava Bases

Concept pieces for a new line of lava bases. A friend of mine is building a new demon army and is looking for a set of custom bases to highlight the force. His design calls for solid rock over glowing lava cracks – sort of like the thumb nail to the left. After creating a pair of bases matching the design, I threw together two other ideas just to see what else I could come up with.

The first two bases are made using Apoxie Sculpt. The material is inexpensive, but continues to display deficiencies when sculpting fine detail. The lava channels in base #1 are shallow due to the loss of flexibility in the epoxie after about 10 minutes of working time. Surface texture is from a piece of concrete. Base #2 is all “cold lava” with no channels for hot lava. Texture is from a bit of resin rubble.

Base #3 is made with Procreate. This epoxie has none of the rubberyness of green stuff and takes detail very well. The same concrete rock is used to apply the texture, but this time the detail is much more complete and deeper. Base #4 is a complete departure from the design request. This base uses floor tile to create free floating flagstone in a pool of lava made from basing paste.


WAB: Arabs and Saracens army building

I’ve taken a recent interest in Warhammer Ancient Battles. Building a list is a bit more complicated than the 40K/WFB rosters I’m used to, not only do I need to figure out a new set of rules with hundreds of army lists available – but I also need to hunt down appropriate figures for the army.

Army Selection

When creating a new army I look to balance four elements:

  1. Will the army look nice? I have to enjoy the models.
  2. Does it have any fun units? The army has to have several ways of playing.
  3. Will the army play well? I have no time to paint up a force only to find the list is a dodo.
  4. Is it affordable? I know the hobby is expensive – but there is no need to spend $600 if $300 will do.

I think a Muslim force may meet all of these goals. The units are well priced for both calvary and infantry. In the absence of any true heavy cavalry in the game, skilled horse archers will need to take care of my need to play with horses. The list has access to Elephants and flame throwing archers – how cool is that! The Arab style units with robes and turbans will allow for natural color choices and keep metallics to a minimum. I’ve also been advised that the list covers about 800 years, making it an easy army to keep in period. Finally, the list can also be allied to a Crusader force – a good way to recycle units if the list does not work out.

Arabs and Saracens 1000 points

General – composite bow, light armor, shield, Warhorse 152 pts
Arab Light Cav #6 with Thrusting Spear, Light Armor and Shield. Leader, Standard, Musician 135 pts
Turkish Light Cav #6 with Composite Bow, Leader and Musician 118 pts
Turkish Light Cav #6 with Composite Bow, Leader and Musician 118 pts
Arab Spearmen #24 with Leader, standard, musician, Thrusting Spear and Shield 183 pts
Religious Volunteers #23 with Leader, Standard, Musician, Hand weapon and Shield 153 pts
Auxilliary Infanty #7 with Javelins, Shield and Naffatun 62 pts
Arab Archers #10 with short bow, Musician and Naffatun 79 pts

Miniatures Choices

Arab/Moor forces are produced by a variety of companies, most of whom are based in the UK but have retained US distributors for those of us who like to shop in dollars and want nothing to do with customs roulette.

Perry Bros on sale at War Store : Well done figures in the Crusades – Islam army, but I’ve been advised that the figures are a true 25mm and may not fit well with other figure lines.

Musketeer Minis on sale at Little Wars: More pleasant looking figures in the Armies of the Caliphates line, price is similar to the Perry Brothers with $6 horsemen and $2.50 infantry.

Gripping Beast on sale at Old Glory 15s: This group may well be the winner. Not only are the figures recommended, but the line prices well with $4 horsemen and $1.50 infantry. One slight problem, Old Glory has the Moors product line on their web site, but not the Armies of Islam line. I may need to do a bit of mix and match if I can’t get cavalry in the US.    edit:  Appears that Old Glory 15 is no longer carrying Gripping Beast – the product is no longer posted on their web cart.

Artizan Designs on sale at BrigadeGames: Forgot to mention this line of Moors. The infantry are attractive, the calvary not so much. But to their credit, Artizan is one of the few to post large, clear photos of their figures. Price point is $2.50 infantry and $6.50 calvary.

One minor rant – I had trouble finding lines on the US retailers at both War Store and Old Glory 15. For reasons know only to themselves, the product lines are re-titled in the US listings, causing all sorts of confusion for a WAB rookie like me. Fortunately, both stores promptly returned emails detailing were the product was listed.

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