Monday 31 July 2017

Steeler (G.I Joe)

Steeler is a bit of a touch-stone for me, so I am very happy to add him to the G.I. Joe ranks. Back in 1983, my 10-year self was fortunate enough to receive the Z Force Battle Tank and Steeler as a Christmas present, and I loved it. Motorised vehicle that could go forward, backwards in different directions? What was there not to love! That Action Force (Z Force was one of the four arms of Action Force in the canon) tank was a repaint of the original G.I. Joe set of the MOBAT and Steeler. The character was adapted to the Euro-centric Action Force and the colour scheme changed.

I decided to use the G.I. Joe version colour scheme as my primary influence, recalling a kind of bright olive green for his fatigues on my toy version so working that in instead of the standard green I have been using. Then there was the case of differentiating three different types of 'black' and ultimately it was a fairly straightforward paint-job.

In the Marvel US G.I. Joe comics Steeler is a character who has some key moments in earlier issues then is featured sparingly afterwards. But he has a tank to command, and that is the key thing!

I hope I can carry some of the momentum of the past couple of months into August and progress further into my G.I. Joe Project.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (13)
G.I. Joe team: 10*
Cobra: 3**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0
Red Shadows: 0

Sunday 30 July 2017

Red Ninja Viper (Cobra)

Red Ninja Viper (or Red Ninja depending on which version of the source action figure you refer to!) is my latest addition to my G.I. Joe Project, serving the enemy forces of Cobra. I prefer the longer Red Ninja Viper name as it just sounds cooler to my brain and ear.

The character is far from a leading light of the canon, and is among a plethora of ninja types that thread through the G.I. Joe mythos. It is a character 'after my time' so to speak, and only one I came across while researching options for the G.I. Joe Project. In Squad Wars games I am probably going to pitch him as an individualised character, but effectively an 'extra' type for bulking out the Cobra forces with some extra individuality - that may change though. The mini itself was a spare copy of Storm Shadow that I had from a friend's private commission, so be sure to expect a white-clad ninja before too long.

For painting I went with a bit of a hybrid of the various incarnations of Red Ninja/Red Ninja Viper. I started painting the mini at the same time as Jinx but fell behind with this one while stuff like Stalker, Timber, Shipwreck and Short Fuze got finished instead. Thankfully I have been able to retain some painting momentum and was able to get the mini finished while working a little on some other characters.

I reckon Red Ninja Viper may get a run out before too long as Brummie has recently gone into painting overdrive (check out his blog to see what I mean - link here), meaning that collectively we have a lot of characters to choose from to start gaming with.

Coming up I have a mix of Joes and Cobra in various stages including: Baroness, Duke, Gung Ho, Rock N Roll and Roadblock. Of course with my random approach to painting that could mean something else entirely like a Cobra Ninja gets painted instead....

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (12)
G.I. Joe team: 9*
Cobra: 3**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0
Red Shadows: 0

Sunday 23 July 2017

Short Fuze (G.I. Joe)

Short Fuze marks my ninth Joe character finished, and eleventh mini for the project as a whole. I started this one a whole ago but slowed down as I found a few bits awkward to paint. I picked him up again this weekend and was able to make more headway, enough to want to finish him.

Most of the original G.I. Joe team had very similar uniforms, so expect a few more that don't look too dissimilar before too long in among the more varied later characters. Regardless of the uniforms though, I will probably mainly stuck to the same base green colours for fatigues and helmets to add a little coherence. The original figure had black webbing straps and a green backpack; I decided to go for a dark olive colour as a bit less stark than black. In my overall painted minis tally for the month, quarter and year, I am counting Short Fuze and his mortar as two separate minis - that seems fair as they are on separate bases!

Short Fuze was the team's first mortar specialist (but not the only one!). In the canon he is a solider from a military family, with a logical and thoughtful side although with a noticeable temper. Reading the comics, he is certainly not a top tier character, and is generally just 'there' in the wider ensemble.

In developing Squad Wars, Short Fuze gives me a chance to try out the rules for mortars which naturally have a few wrinkles to them.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (11)
G.I. Joe team: 9*
Cobra: 2**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Shipwreck (G.I. Joe)

'In the navy, come on people and make a stand' - ah, Shipwreck is my latest G.I. Joe Project addition, and with his naval attire he will stand out a mile among the mainly greens and browns for many of the G.I. Joe team uniforms!

Shipwreck is a tough petty officer who calmly faces any situation, not easily rattled. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, there were a fair few naval personnel in the G.I. Joe ranks.

The mini is from a private commission which I was thankful to get hold of. I decided to swap the pistol weapon he had for something heavier looking to give a little more 'grounded' look - the irony of that choice is not lost on me given he walks into battle with a parrot on his shoulder! The painting was nice and straightforward, and once I had blocked in the main two blue colours and flesh, I started working from the waist down before tackling the remaining bits.

One of the most fun things for me in this project so far has been creating the rules cards for the minis; basically distilling how the characters are described in their file cards and the Marvel comics into a set of rules that feels right. Suffice it to say a lot of cards are done and a lot of conversions bubbling into mind.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (10)
G.I. Joe team: 8*
Cobra: 2**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0

Saturday 15 July 2017

Prepping for Squad Wars Play-tests

When play-testing I like to have game materials to make things easier. For Pulp City, this meant facsimiles of game cards where possible, as well as a copy of the rules text to hand.

While developing Supers Unlimited and Squad Wars under the Kitbash Games banner, I have taken things a step further. These projects are obviously deeply personal to me, and so I want to get things as right as possible. Just having a very rough draft copy of the text to look at helps me think about how pages could be laid out, the sequence of things, etc. In the past I would work with pdfs of simple Word layouts. This time, and to help my own personal thought processes, I decided to go a step further and get mini books printed.

In addition, with my G.I. Joe Project underway - and which will be the main vehicle for play-testing Squad Wars - I decided to get cards for the various characters printed up as a motivator to play. That may sound unnecessary, but from my time with Pulp City I saw that testers gave more feedback if they had print outs (from Word) at roughly game card size for characters than a primary Word document not formatted down to game card size. They gave more feedback again if they had draft versions of the final cards. So from that learning, I have developed cards as something to hang games of Squad Wars onto, and will do the same with Supers Unlimited at some point.

Since both games feature 'build your own' rules for Characters (they have some nominal IP, but that is to help give some contextual pointers and supply pretty pictures to look at!), players can just as easily use a roster sheet, whatever takes their fancy, they don't have to use cards like I have developed (although templates will be made available at some point).

Friday 14 July 2017

Street Wars NYC: 1970's Street Gang Miniatures Game - Kickstarter

Like the sound of 70's style New York street gang skirmish? Then Street Wars NYC: 1970's Street Gang Miniatures Game could be just your thing!

The project is funded with 15 days to go and has some very cool minis - I am already backing and looking forward to what Iain and Funky Skull Games will unleash next!

Street Wars NYC: 1970's Street Gang Miniatures Game -- Kicktraq Mini

Thursday 13 July 2017

Timber (G.I. Joe)

Timber is Snake Eyes' wolf companion, and not a mini I envisaged doing at the outset of my G.I. Joe Project. Painting got underway on the project in the last few weeks and it was then that Brummie mentioned he was doing one, so with that in mind I cobbled some rules ideas together, and that is how plans quickly change!

It may seem a bit bizarre, but a number of Joes and Cobra operatives had animal companions; therefore, excluding them wouldn't have been right. Brummie and I have been talking about ideas of how we can include a few more of the characters who had animal companions.

The mini was given to me by Brummie, but I have no idea where it is from. The painting was pretty easy, although I had to touch up the fur on one side to even out the patterning better. I tried to give a nice look representative of the various toys to the fur colouring, and even researched timber wolves' eyes colours for reference!

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (9)
G.I. Joe team: 7*
Cobra: 2**
Arashikage: 3*
Iron Grenadiers: 1**
Oktober Guard: 0

As I mentioned, I have prepped rules for personal use, to be able to use Timber in games of Squad Wars alongside Snake Eyes of course (either in a G.I. Joe team or an Arashikage Force).

Wednesday 12 July 2017

Stalker (G.I. Joe)

Stalker is my sixth member of the G.I. Joe team finished, and my eighth G.I. Joe Project mini in all. He is a character I like a lot in the comics, probably because he was in the first G.I. Joe story I read (which was a reprint of the American stuff).

Although the pictures have washed out most of my highlighting on Stalker, I am reasonably happy with how he turned out. I decided against painting a camo stripe pattern as the base green colour is quite dark, and I opted for a fairly light contrast with his webbing and backpack. I started Stalker before Jinx, but finished the latter first which is pretty typical for me.

I have a few other members of the G.I. Joe team underway, and I hope to finish at least two or three more before the end of the month; Brummie and I have provisionally set early August for our first Squad Wars play-test. I have being prepping lots of materials for the opening games and I am looking forward to seeing if things work as I want them to.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (8)
G.I. Joe team: 6
Cobra: 2*
Iron Grenadiers: 1*
Oktober Guard: 0

Sunday 9 July 2017

Jinx (G.I. Joe)

First up a big apology to regular readers for accidentally removing content from 100 comments from the blog; a slip of the mouse button while trying to sort out a load of spam comments caught me out and Blogger has no recycle bin unfortunately. Lesson learned!

Jinx is the latest mini completed for my G.I. Joe Project, and one of the characters less familiar to me until recently. I came to G.I. Joe through Action Force and the IDW comics published form around 2008 and onward. And so it is now I am making inroads into the old Marvel G.I. Joe comics, and shamefully have still not watched the movies (I have them on DVD, just too little time as always!). The upshot is that I have yet to see how much of a bad-ass Jinx seems to be but I hope to rectify that before too long!

Jinx is one of the good guys on the G.I Joe team, a protege of sorts to Snake Eyes, trained by the Arashikage clan. If there is one thing G.I. Joe canon is not short of, its ninjas....

The mini is one among a private commission I was fortunate to be able to get minis from. I started painting her a few days ago when I realised how I could paint up a spare ninja that I had for the G.I. Joe Project. Since both minis would be predominately red I made start on the pair before concentrating on Jinx's highlights and final work. By my standards it was a pretty quick turnaround which is always very welcome.

In the next few days I hope to finish Red Viper Ninja (Cobra) and Stalker (G.I. Joe), and after those I have a few more in the project painting queue.

G.I. Joe Minis Painted (7)
G.I. Joe team: 5
Cobra: 2*
Iron Grenadiers: 1*
Oktober Guard: 0

Working on the project has given me minis which I will be able to use to test out Squad Wars against Brummie. As a consequence I have been translating lots of characters from the G.I. Joe milieu into game stats for Squad Wars. And when I say, 'lots', I am not joking....

As an example of a character as defined in Squad Wars terms, here is the card I have prepped for Jinx. This is for personal use and won't be featured in any of the commercial side of Squad Wars when it is eventually launched (that will have IP that is my own for obvious reasons). The  game is designed to use a fairly low model count and mix solo characters as well as squads. Players won't need to use cards, a simple roster sheet will be fine, I just like having gaming cards and so while designing a simple template for free use, thought I would do some G.I. Joe characters with the template.

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Quarter 2 2017 Painting Summary

2017 Quarter 2 was a big improvement over Quarter 1, I am happy to say!

I got off to a very strong start painting 11 minis in April alone (I managed just 7 in January to March).

April certainly had a very much 'supers' flavour to my hobby outputs as I was also finishing up the draft text for a rules set (Supers Unlimited) I plan to release through Wargames Vault later in the year, and my first BMG tournament of the year (with a poor placing compared to last year's successes).

With the supers focus, April saw me tackle some minis which have been long overdue completion, as well as some ranges I haven't revised in a few years - a 'good thing' for me.

May and June combined saw me paint or finish another 11 minis, and in all the three months put me back on track with my overall target for the year after the slowdown I had in February and March. I started doing some work on new and dormant projects during this time:

  • My SMG Project: essentially conversions of Knight Models stuff to add a few more options to the SMG crew ranks; the game may be dead but I have a few ideas I want to execute for it yet, complete with rules profiles for any new characters I do.
  • My G.I. Joe Project got 5 new models added, meaning I am track towards having playable forces for another project....
  • ...Squad Wars; a rule set I started working on a couple of years ago got a dust off and some heavy re-writes and is now almost ready for some play-test games; the game is intended to recreate military pulp-action scenarios from classic 1980's series such as G.I. Joe, Action Force, M.A.S.K., The A-Team, MegaForce etc. The game is not attached to any existing IP, just intended to emulate some of the things you might expect from gaming this kind of over the top genre.

It has been much happier for me hobby-wise in the last few months, mainly as I feel more productive in recent months. This has coincided with me taking a decision to leave the Pulp Monsters partnership (responsible for the Pulp City game). There a number of reasons behind that decision which I won't go into here, but the ultimate gain for me has been more time to mess around with projects which interest me. It has meant I have completed two draft game manuscripts ready for play-test, and have a third around half done.

I have been able to explore some new skills, getting to grips with GiMP and Photoshop as far as I need them (recently with GiMP very much so, especially as Fotor is essentially becoming a paid platform for generating collages).

So all in all, things have felt much more productive lately, in writing and design, as well as painting, which has been a good thing personally.

Painted in Q2 (+10 from Q2 2016)
BMG: 11
GI Joe: 5
SDZA Supers: 3
Other Supers: 2 minis
SMG: 1 mini (SMG Project)