Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Today is Christmas Day, and I wish a very fond one to all who celebrate it!

I'm posting an image of a Nativity set that has been in my family since at least the 1940s. It belonged to my Great Grandmother, who in turn gave it to my mom when she turned 16. They've been in her possession ever since, but they've been a fixture in my holiday experiences since childhood.

These "Baby Jesus action figures," as I used to call them, have been set up by your's truly for the past several years in a row. It's a tradition dating back  long time.

This is the 2013 setup! I set it up as soon as I got home after flying out from Washington, DC.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

1st Annual Krampus Race

The legend of the Krampus goes back ages. While Santa Claus brought presents and candy to all the good little boys and girls of the World, the Krampus took care of the naughty ones. Sometimes a companion of Santa and his nemesis other times, Krampus collected all the bad children in his sack and took them off to be punished!

Having finished my Krampus figure earlier today, and tonight being Krampusnacht, I figured why not celebrate? The folks over at Wargame Vault have a mini game called Krampus Race you can download for free. While you don't necessarily need miniatures to play (they provide all the pieces for you to print out), what's the fun in that?

I coaxed my girlfriend into playing a round tonight after dinner. Like Turkey Shoot! on Thanksgiving, I intend to make this a new holiday tradition!

Und jetzt, meine Damen und Herren, die Krampusrennen 2013!

The object of the game is to collect as many naughty children as possible while making it to the finish line first. You role a D6 and move the appropriate number of spaces on the board (which I spruced up with some trees from the dollar store). Afterwards, you draw an action card and do what it says, such as moving back a space, collect a child, etc. Then it's the next player's turn. This goes on and on until everyone has reached the end.

Since I didn't have another Krampus figure, Teresa elected to play as a turkey. Krampustruthahn! My girlfriend went first as she rolled higher than I did I'm an upstanding gentleman.

For the entire game, however, Teresa failed to pick up any naughty children. But this worked to her advantage because she kept drawing the action cards telling her to put kids back.

"Smart kid dumbfounded you with a riddle and saved his brother. Lose 1 child."

I move my Krampus forward a few spaces.

"Stuck in Christmas shopping traffic. Lose a turn."

In the end, Teresa got to the finish line before I did. This immediately gave her 10 points. But finishing first does not necessarily mean winning in Krampus Race. I got 5 points for finishing second, but also received 5 additional points for each naughty child my Krampus collected. With two kids in my sack, I squeaked by with 15 points and won the game.

All in all, Krampus Race is quick and fun little game to play. It's seriously taken me longer to write this post than it did to play the actual game. Definitely making this a new tradition!

Gruß vom Krampus!

Gruß vom Krampus!

Saint Nicholas and his traveling companion, Krampus, have been fixtures of Alpine and Germanic traditions for centuries. The two of them are said to travel the land on the night of December 5 (the eve of Saint Nicholas Day) to respectively reward and punish children. Like his Americanized offshoot Santa Claus, Nicholas gives gifts and presents those kids who have been all year. Bad children, however, are punished by Krampus. Think of him as the "bad cop" to Saint Nicholas' "good cop."

These punishments vary by tradition. In some, Krampus gives naughty children coal or swats them with a bundle of birch sticks. More sinister traditions, however, say that he kidnaps them and takes them back to his lair.

So in the spirit of this holiday tradition, I present to you Krampus!

This Krampus figure was produced by Reaper Miniatures (who seem to make anything and everything under the sun in 28mm scale). I painted this guy up in about an hour while I was taking a break from my final projects.

Gruß vom Krampus!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

1st Annual Turkey Shoot!

It was Thanksgiving and Mordecai was told to "go get a turkey." Seemed simple enough...

So begins the rules for Turkey Shoot! It's a one person game in which the player assumes the role of a Pilgrim who, as the name suggests, has to shoot a turkey for dinner.

Yes. It's a Thanksgiving wargame!

After stumbling across these rules about two months back, I knew I wanted to make it a new Thanksgiving tradition. I rushed to find suitable models, which was more of a challenge than you might think. But after scrounging the internet for a while I found exactly what I needed. The turkey was completed with plenty of time to spare, as well as some of the necessary terrain. The Pilgrim, however, was put on the back burner due to school and so I didn't have a chance to finish him before Thanksgiving. But that sure didn't stop me from playing!

So without further ado, I give you the 1st Annual Turkey Shoot!

Mordecai was walking through the woods with his musket at the ready. There has to be a turkey out here somewhere, he thought to himself. The Pilgrim had been at it for hours and was about ready to turn back when he came upon a clearing and saw a very welcome sight...

A turkey! Unfortunately, however, the bird sensed Mordecai's presence and began to scurry away.

To his good fortune, however, the turkey emerged from behind the trees just a few feet away from the Pilgrim. Mordecai couldn't believe his luck! With a clear shot, he leveled his musket, took careful aim, and fired.

The powder flashed and a satisfying crack filled the air. The turkey was knocked over and Mordecai smiled to himself. But to his disbelief, however, the turkey got up immediately took flight. 

Again, however, the bird stopped just a few feet away from the Pilgrim. After quickly reloading, Mordecai fired another shot.

Sulfuric smoke again fired the air, but this time Mordecai completely missed. The turkey took flight and vanished from sight.

Looks like Mordecai and his family wouldn't be getting turkey tonight after all...

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Die Göbbla Göbbla Tørkey

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I felt compelled to do something appropriate for the holiday. I therefore present, as the Swedish Chef would say, "Die Göbbla Göbbla Tørkey!"

Or, just a turkey.

He's a Pegasus mini I picked up on eBay for cheap (along with three other others....there may need to be an army of turkeys at some point in the future). I based him on a 40mm round base and then added the appropriate scenery: a rock (pebble), fallen branch (twig), and autumn leaves (colored birch seeds).

After studying several images of wild turkeys, I settled on this golden-brown color scheme. I had never noticed the purplish color of their heads before, and it was a challenge to try and match it to the photos. But I'm happy with how it turned out.

Overall, I don't think this was too bad for a first attempt. The turkey itself is alright, but I'm exceedingly pleased with how the base turned out! I've been really aching for a chance to try out these "autumn leaves."

Also, I discovered that there is a Thanksgiving wargame out there called "Turkey Shoot!" 

Yes...this exists. 

The rules were a little hard to come by. All the links to it were dead, but through some careful navigating of the internet I was able to find and download them. It's a one player game that is, quite literally, about a Pilgrim trying to shoot a turkey for dinner.  

And yes, I do fully intend on making this a new holiday tradition! 

And in closing, I must echo the words of the Swedish Chef:

"Børk! Børk! Børk!"

And after this, I will be returning to the diorama. I just needed a little break from it before moving on to the next phase.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Many of those trees were my friends!"

Wargaming terrain is something I've never really done a whole lot of. I suppose I've never really had the interest or wherewithal to work on it until now. But after seeing what awesome work my friend Ben has done with trees (here and here), I've been inspired to steal the idea try it out for myself.

Here are the results!

The project started off with a pack of Woodland Scenics evergreen trees and round wood bases from Michaels. After sanding the edges smooth, the "trunks" were glued to the base, which in turn was coated with Golden's coarse pumice gel (I love this stuff!). I managed to find some twigs in the back yard that looked like fallen branches, so they were added to the base as well. Everything was allowed to dry overnight before priming.

I then coated the "dirt" with a dark coat of brown paint, which was then drybrushed with a lighter color. The grass was then added and the whole thing was sprayed with a sealer. The trees were then finally glued into the stumps, and everything was good to go!

Here are the trees in comparison to a 28mm Warlord Napoleonic Polish Vistula officer. Pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Overall, this was a fun and quick little project. I can't wait to do some more of these in the very near future! They'll be done with different styles of trees to add a bit of variety.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part VIII

What a productive afternoon! I was able to stop by the Lee-Fendall House after work and get some significant work done on the diorama. This assistant curator/model maker/nerd is quite happy!

It all started with sawing the edges off the railroad tracks. This was essential because they had to fit on the board diagonally due to its odd size. Of course, however, I realized after the fact that I wanted them to go the other direction. 

As the great Homer Simpson says, "Do'h!" 

But upon reflection (and some mild swearing to myself), I realized this was okay and that it actually worked out better. It won't look like the tracks and the road intersect. So I glued them in place and set to work on the trees. Many of them were strategically placed to conceal the staples in the board. I'm thinking I may go out and get another pack or two of trees just to thicken the "woods" up a bit.

Then gravel was added to the train tracks, which was a fairly messy process. The gravel is very loose and so I used a spray adhesive to hold everything in place. Hopefully it worked, but we won't really know until it comes time to move the diorama.

I've been working on the railroad all the live-long day...

After all that, I started working on the dirt roads and finished them in less than 15 minutes.

This is what we had at the end of the day! 

In my opinion, it looks far better than it did on opening night. Seeing this in the museum at its present stage makes me feel a lot better about the whole project. I've always been very critical of my own work (as I imagine most artists are in one way or another). But I'm really liking how the diorama is progressing. 

I just wish I could have gotten to this point a few days ago but, as the French say, c'est la vie.

The next big goal is to get the train cars painted, assembled, and installed. They're sitting on the dining room table, counter, and sideboard (in various pieces). My goal is to have them done by next weekend.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Exhibit Opening: "Beyond the Battlefield"

I just got back from the "Beyond the Battlefield" opening at the Lee-Fendall House in Alexandria! Overall, it was a pretty fun evening with a surprisingly good turnout. I say that because, you know, it was Halloween and all. We were worried that no one would show up!

Several of the donors were in attendance and, despite the diorama being incomplete, seemed to enjoy the display. Everyone was very kind and understanding about it. This relieved a lot of my anxiety.

And now, here are some photos from the event taken by my girlfriend Teresa, who also happens to be the other curatorial assistant for "Beyond the Battlefield."  

People gather in the exhibit room.

Myself and the exhibition curator, Kyle, address the crowd.

A view of the diorama as it appeared this evening.

Kyle shows off a reproduction hospital bottle.

Did someone call for a Doctor? Eh...Doctor Who?

Funny thing about that last photo...I totally forgot to remove the Sixth Doctor before the presentation started. What's funnier is that I don't think anyone really noticed he was there.

The Invisible Man

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part VII

So, I'm not going to meet the exhibit deadline.

I've been dragging like crazy with only four hours' worth of sleep last night. This is on top of having revised a research paper, attending a two hour class, drinking more coffee than is probably healthy, and fighting a cold. I just can't do it everything I need to do by tomorrow.

But that being said, quite a bit got done tonight. Teresa and Kyle helped out with the prepping, priming, and painting the of the ambulance, train car, and fences. I cannot thank them enough for their help tonight!!

With "Gettysburg" playing in the background we worked for several hours. Most of the pieces are not painted and just need assembling now. I'll try to fit that in after class tomorrow afternoon.

It is a real shame that I won't be able to have everything ready by tomorrow, though. I can't help but feel a little let down and disappointed in myself.

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part VI

Just a brief update without many progress photos since I've been so busy lately: I've just finished two big assignments for school and can now devote most of my time to getting the diorama done. That's pretty important since, you know, the exhibit is opening in less than 48 hours.

Yup. It's coming down to the wire.

Am I nervous? Yes. Am I worried about getting everything done on time? You bet. Would I rather be doing something else? Not a chance! I'm really excited for the opening and look forward to hear what everyone thinks of the diorama. I'm quite proud of the work I've put into it so far.

But now it's time to stock up on coffee and buckle down....things are going to get a little crazy here.

My girlfriend has been very helpful during my paper-writing craze these last few days. Being the wonderful person that she is, Teresa volunteered to paint the train tracks for me while I was agonizing over early 20th century bank architecture. They turned out quite well indeed!

Making tracks!

The minimum goal for the next day or so is to finally finish that %#&^@*$ firing line, an ambulance, and both train cars. Even if I can't get the remaining figures done by opening night, with those in the diorama I feel that we'll have something solid at least.

And just in case you're all wondering....

I'll try to get another update in before the opening, but I can't make any guarantees at this point.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Death Korps of Krieg Lord Commissar

Just taking a quick break from the Civil War diorama to show off another Warhammer 40k figure I've done. Don't worry, I'm not neglecting my responsibilities...this chap was finished a few months back and I'm just now getting around to posting.

This is going to be the Lord Commissar for my planned Death Korps of Krieg army. As this character can take a dedicated transport, I'm going to have him mounted on a Chimera transport that's been modified with a heavy flamer. So it essentially becomes a Hellhound. I've got all the parts I need for that, but alas, no time at present.

In keeping with the World War I theme of my army, I painted this guy up as an Imperial German officer. The piping on his tunic was a challenge, but a fun one. And I do like how the Feldgrau looks with that particular shade of scarlet.  

When the diorama (and a little thing called grad school) is done, I hope to do some more work on the Death Korps. I have two full squads standing by to be assembled, primed, and painted. But we'll see how it all goes. I want to at least finish the Lord Commissar's transport before the New Year though.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part V

Two updates in one day?! What is the world coming to?

I managed to finish off a few more figures and some stretchers this afternoon (though not the Federal firing line that, for some reason, has been the bane of my existence for some weeks now). They came together pretty quickly and I'm pleased with the results.

A few wounded Union soldiers. Is it just me, or does the cavalryman on the left look an awful lot like Chuck Norris?

Oh no! The Rebs shot Chuck Norris! How is that even possible?!?

And here we have the only Confederate who will be in the diorama. He's going to be just in front of the Union firing line to show the progression of the battle.

So that's all for the diorama right now. I'll try to push through that firing line in the next few days and then start on the railway tracks and cars. There's some big stuff coming this way soon!

And as if I didn't have enough on my plate already, I'm planning to do some special pieces for the coming holidays. Just some fun stuff that I really hope you all like. Stay tuned for that! First figure is already done and will be posted on Halloween!

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part IV

Just a really quick update. Following a very successful "Spirits, Suffering, and Society" event last night, we did a little bit of work in the exhibit. The diorama base is installed and the first 20 or so figures have been added.

Here we see my friend Kyle (the exhibit curator) working on putting some of the trees together.

The figures haven't been permanently affixed yet, but this was just to give us and idea of where things will be placed in the finished product. There are still plenty of figures that need to be added (not to mention ambulances, fences, train tracks, and hospital cars). This is just the beginning.

Myself with the diorama. I have to admit, everything looks a lot more impressive under Plexiglas. Not so impressive, however, is my hair (to be fair, though, this was after a long event).

Also, here's a little sneak peak at the rest of the exhibit....

And that's all for now! I need to back to the grindstone, but please stay tuned for more updates!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Civil War Medical Diorama: Part III

As promised, here are the figures I completed last weekend. I'm surprised at how quickly they got done....hopefully I can keep it up!

First up we have the ambulance corpsmen. They were the ones responsible for retrieving wounded soldiers from the battlefield and getting them to an aid station.

And now, the surgeons. There were lots of little details on these guys that I know visitors won't really be able to see (like the green fields on their shoulder bars), but I really had a fun time going the extra mile. Besides, they are officers after all...they should look their absolute best. 

Now we have some of the wounded. And I just realized that the fellow in the yellow shirt looks exactly like Doc Holliday at the end of "Tombstone." 

Next up, the ambulance driver. He'll look a lot better sitting in his wagon (when it's done).

Last, but certainly not least, is the figure of a Berdan sharpshooter that I call "Cuddles." It's a bit of an inside see, many years ago I used to reenact with a fellow who had that nickname. It just so happened that this mini looked exactly like him. It was too perfect not to do.

Well, that's all for now! Tomorrow we'll be installing the first part of the diorama at the Lee-Fendall House. I'll be sure to post photos and report back on the progress.