Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Kind of Scum - Jabba the Hutt, Dewback Riders and more...

The new figure packs for Star Wars Imperial Assault are a rich harvest. I've already shared some pictures of Luke Skywalker, and now I want to share the others: Jabba the Hutt, Captain Terro, the Dewback Rider and the Alliance Rangers.

When I first saw the new miniature for Jabba the Hutt, I was not impressed. His smile seemed moronic and his pose static. But once my washes had disclosed the true topography of his face, I realized that the sculptor (Thomas Sincich) had precisely captured the half-melted malevolence of the Hutt. It just goes to show that it's a mistake to judge a miniature before its painted. 

"If I told you half the things I've heard about this Jabba the Hutt, you'd probably short-circuit."

Jabba is also a game-changer for the skirmish version of Imperial Assault. Appropriately, he will rarely enter combat (in fact, he will rarely move) but by squatting in the rear he can hatch plans, terrorize his underlings and order hits on his opponents. Once again, the IA rule makers (Daniel Lovat Clark, Todd Michlitsch and Paul Winchester) have done a splendid job of capturing the essential flavour of the personalities that they bring into the game.

Dewbacks, of course, are the great reptilian mounts that we see briefly in A New Hope when the Empire is hunting for the droids (Here is an interesting documentary on the making of these creatures). Fantasy Flight Games released one Dewback pack with two different potential riders: Captain Terro (carrying a flamethrower) or a generic Dewback Rider (carrying a shock lance, like the mounted trooper in Episode IV). You can see both version in the photo above, with Captain Terro on the right.

True to the cinematic originals, I decided to make my riders dirty and battleworn (mainly with the help of oil paint and white spirit). I also spend a lot of time trying to get the colours right on their backpacks, which were sculpted by Dave Ferreira with a great attention to authentic detail.

Dewback Rider with Shock Lance and Binoculars

Captain Terro with Flamethrower

As with Jabba the Hutt (or the Rancor), I tried to create a sense of life in the Dewback by employing glazes of oil paint and white spirit to deepen the skin tones. Getting better and braver in my use of oils is one of my primary goals for 2017 (That and returning some library books that I borrowed in 2016).

And finally we have the Alliance Rangers -- special ops forces of the sort we met in Return of the Jedi on the moon of Endor. As far as I know, these are the first rank-and-file soldiers in Imperial Assault that are female. Well, you should have a healthy respect for their grrl power. I recently played a great skirmish game at For the Win Cafe in Toronto (some people are starting a friendly biweekly skirmish group there) and these Alliance Rangers shot me all to hell.

Thanks for stopping by. And you can find my galleries for all the Imperial Assault miniatures here: 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Making a Desert Skiff for Imperial Assault

I've gotten some questions about the desert skiff that I used in pictures from my last post on Jabba's Realm, the new expansion for Star Wars Imperial Assault. So I thought I'd quickly post to explain how I kit-bashed this skimmer (also known as the Bantha-II Cargo Skiff) for use in 28mm or 30mm games like Imperial Assault

But first, some grousing... Fantasy Flight Games failed fans with their slapdash approach to scenery (like desert skiffs) in Jabba's Realm. The sequence above the Sarlacc Pit in Return of the Jedi is one of the most exciting action scenes in the Star Wars films. Appropriately, FFG attempted to create game scenarios that involved both the Pit, Jabba's barge and the smaller desert skiffs. But the map tiles meant to represent these locations are miserable. The barge is a bland, generic interior; the Sarlacc Pit is inexplicably cut in half; and there are no skiffs at all (instead, players use featureless interior hallway tiles to mimic the skiffs). None of this makes any sense to me. The joy of Imperial Assault is that you replicate almost anything you want on the tiles... it just takes a bit of cardboard.

Well, in any case, since FFG cheaped out on giving us desert skiffs, I decided to create my own. I started by finding a couple old Micro Machine Dune Sea Desert Skiffs on eBay. These are nicely detailed models, but much too small to be used as a skiff in Imperial Assault, since the skiffs must have a flat playing space of 5" by 2" (or 5x2 maps squares). My simple plan was to extend the deck on the Micro Machine while keeping the distinctive features of the skiff itself.

Above we see the original skiff.

Step 1: Disassemble the skiff by removing the screws.

Step 2: Chop up the bow and stern of the top part of the model. Leave the bottom part intact.

Step 3: Reassemble the bottom part of the vessel with the stern.

Step 4: Cut a piece of balsa wood with a 4" by 2" area, plus a projecting beak for the bow. (Not shown: I also cut out a 1" by 2" piece for use as a 'rear deck" to mount on top of the stern. Together, the main deck and the rear deck give the skiff the required 5" by 2" playing space.)

Step 5: Cut out 2 pieces of magnetic tape for the deck (Since I mount all my IA figures on metal washers, the magnetic tape gives them extra stability when the stand on the skimmer).

Step 6: Glue the bow to the balsa wood. Cover the magnetic tape with model train fence mesh. Glue a stiff length of wood in the middle of the deck (between the two pieces of magnetic tape) in order to give strength to the construction. I also glued a support strut to the bottom of the deck.

Step 7: Glue the deck to the bottom/stern of the model. Glue the small rear deck to the top of the stern. Fill in gaps with putty. Sand rough edges. (Not shown: I also glued some metal ball-bearings to the inside of the base to give the whole model more stability).

Painting was fast and dirty. The main body of the skiff was painted khaki and roughly dry-brushed. The mesh was painted black and dry-brushed with gunmetal. Then I applied a coat of Army Painter Quickshade Strong Tone. Rust and oil effects were then added with oil paint and white spirit. And then, of course, a varnish with Dullcote. Now we're ready for the Pit of Carkoon!

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know in the comments if you've made your own desert skiff...

Friday, February 17, 2017

Painted Miniatures for Jabba's Realm

It's took six weeks, but I finally finished painting all the miniatures for Jabba's Realm, the latest expansion for Star Wars Imperial Assault. I've already posted pics of the alien heroes from the set, plus the gigantic Rancor. Now it's time to look at some of the rank-and-file miniatures, like the Weequay Pirates, the Gamorrean Guard and the Imperial Jet Troopers.

These are the first miniatures that I've painted using reading glasses. Or rather, painting glasses, since my optometrist kindly configured them so that things held very close to my face would be most in focus. I've never had to use reading glasses before, but age has made me dim and decrepit. It's now a race to see how many minis I can pump out before the Grim Reaper finally claims me.

Above we see the Weequay Pirates -- made famous for manning the desert skiff used for Luke's execution in Return of the Jedi. The association of the leathery Weequay race with piracy goes back (I believe) to the first season of The Clone Wars (2009), where Count Dooku is captured by just such an outlaw band and observes of them "They are devious and deceitful and most importantly, stupid."

In any case, I'm quite pleased with these sculpts. The armour is right out of Return of the Jedi, while their long rifles are a new touch -- they evoke an Afghan Jezail, thus enhancing the sense of primitive desert banditry. But the best innovation is their skull-like face with its H.R. Giger-esque contours -- it makes them even more menacing than they were in the movies.

These Gamorrean Guards are completely faithful to the originals from Return of the Jedi, right down to the armour, the skull-cap and the vibro-lance. With their porcine snouts and green skin, I've always appreciated the Gamorreans as a direct reference to the pig-faced orcs of early AD&D (and before that, to the "goons" from Sleeping Beauty). And apparently, they taste just like bacon.

The Jet Troopers were created especially for Imperial Assault, although jet packs (of course) go right back to Return of the Jedi and Boba Fett's unfortunate ignition. These miniatures are well sculpted if somewhat plain, and so I added an extra flare by utilizing foam to sculpt a stream of fiery smoke for each exhaust port. I like the airborne pose, although it makes the trooper seem almost carefree, like the bouncing blonde from Jackie Treehorn's trampoline party.

In a phalanx, however, the Jet Troopers seem more threatening...

Thanks for stopping by. In the next couple days, I post pictures of the new Imperial Assault Figure Packs, like Captain Terro and Jabba the Hutt. See you soon for more fun in the desert of Tatooine...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight

I just wanted to share a couple pictures I just took of the new miniature for Luke Skywalker for Star Wars Imperial Assault

This is the first variant miniature that Fantasy Flight Games has produced for a named Star Wars character -- that is to say, after releasing a young Skywalker with the original set ("Luke Skywalker, Hero of the Rebellion") in 2014, they have now produced his mature self ("Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight"). Let's hope more are on the way (ahem, Princess Leia, cough, cough).

The Original Luke miniature

I'm normally bad at painting faces to look like real people, but for some reason I'm happy with the way that Luke turned out. It is a testimony to the fine work of the miniature sculptor, Thomas Sincich. Although it's a simple sculpt, the figure has lots of dynamism and energy. My only complaint (as usual) is the bendy lightsaber, so I replaced the plastic original with a thin, straight length of copper wire.

Does he look ready to take on the Rancor?

Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for more Star Wars miniatures soon...