Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zen Again: The Unpainted Minis Pile

I've been collecting miniatures wargames figures for over 30 years. During that time, I've amassed quite a collection of little men, be they plastic, pewter, or white metal. I've never taken the time to count them, but I easily have a few thousand of the tiny buggers.

Roughly half of the minis I own are painted. While I've painted my share of figures over the years and really enjoy the artistic process, a simple lack of time has resulted in my purchasing the majority of my painted minis off of eBay or from vendors & flea market traders at HMGS East conventions.

Lately, I've been trying to make more time to paint miniatures. I've done more painting in the last few months than I've done in a very long time, although my output is still extremely low in comparison to those highly devoted mini hobbyists out there. Anyway, at least I'm trying.

Recently, I finished a pretty cool piece of terrain; a Viking long-house (Acheson Creations). It came out well. I'm currently painting 2 regiments of Swiss Gnome arquebusiers (12 minis in all) and they're about 70% complete. I'm also 95% done on a trio of Troll spearmen (Privateer) and a River Troll (Citadel), with just some final detailing work to do. I'm also 85% done touching up a large group of Reptilian Cavalry (GW), and 35% done with a huge Dire Troll (Privateer). So real progress is being made, and it feels good.

That leaves the "other half" of my collection, the unpainted masses who have yet to see action on the fictional battlefields arrayed across my dining room, and whom have never been shown off on a shelf or in a display case. Poor bastards. This afternoon I took a look into the large tub of blister packs that I had. It amazed me as to what was in there, so I took a few pics. Check this out...

Within this tub of figures there are minis from Crocodile Games, Eureka, Bronze Age, GW / Citadel, Reaper, Black Orc, Foundry, Mirliton, West Wind, Otherworld, Alternative Armies, Fenryl, Privateer, RAFM, Irregular, Brigade Games, Marauder, DragonRune, Heartbreaker, Grenadier, Kenzer & Co, and Ral Partha.

Wow... So many cool figures! What should I paint next?

Perhaps Wargods Sebeki (gator-men) or those nifty Eureka frogs? Maybe some Barbarians from Bronze Age, DragonRune Orcs, or Sidhe celtic elves from Alternative Armies?

How about that classic limited edition Thrud the Barbarian from Citadel circa early 1980's? Or what about those awesome pig-faced orcs from Otherworld?

The list seems endless. And what's even scarier; I have another large box of unpainted boxed-sets to boot (Warhammer stuff, Dwarf Wars, Ral Partha Gnolls, Front Rank medievals, etc.).

Ah, the life of a veteran wargamer; so many unpainted figures, so little time to paint them all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall In 2010 -- Quick Convention Recap

Last weekend (OCT 29th and 30th), I travelled down to Lancaster, PA for Fall In 2010, the third and smallest of the three annual miniatures wargaming conventions run by HMGS East. This year's event was held at the Lancaster Host Resort on Route 30 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

I had an absolute blast spending 2 consecutive days shopping for figures/terrain/paints/rules at the large Vendor Hall, hunting for bargain finds in the Flea Market, and observing some massive wargames in progress. I didn't play in any wargames this time around or spend any time at the painting workshops, but that didn't dampen my enthusiasm. Tiring as it is to spend 6+ hours on your feet shopping for toy soldiers and other geeky treasures, it sure beats the hell out of working!

My good friend Kevin and I carpooled down to the convention on Friday. Compared to the past fall conventions over the last 5 years, it seemed as if attendance was appreciably down this year and fewer games were being played. Part of that may actually be a mirage, and can probably be attributed to the move from the cozy confines of the Gettysburg venue to the more spacious Lancaster Host. But the fact that the con conflicted with many people's plans for the Halloween weekend definitely hurt attendance, and resulted in a few regular vendors (Splintered Light, Wargames LLC, the Last Square, etc.) not appearing at the convention. That wasn't a big deal to us; we had more room to maneuever through the flea market and shopping hall. 

I didn't leave the Vendor Hall empty handed. I scooped up 3 blister packs of Gripping Beast Viking hirdmen and 4 sets of LBM shield decals from the Architects of War booth.    

I also purchased a very nicely painted and reasonably priced undead warband (about 16 figures) which included a really cool dark necromancer, a skeleton jester, and ogre-like demonic hero.

Added to that was a McFarlane Dragon for $10, and 6 new pots of paint (some Privateer P3 and some Vallejo acrylics). All things considered, it was a nice little haul for about $100 total. 

I didn't find anything that tickled my fancy in the Flea Market, although Kev got some truly great deals on near-mint board games ($5 for Pirate's Cove, and $20 for Knizia's Lord of the Rings co-op game + first expansion) that I would have scarfed up had he not discovered them first!   

On Saturday, I took a 14-year old boy named Landon down to Fall In. It was his first exposure to miniatures wargames on a massive scale and it seemed like he had a really fun time. He mentioned that he would be interested in going again (perhaps to the March convention), so maybe I just brought another young-gamer into the fold. Let's hope so! 

We flitted from table to table, watching a bunch of games that were being played and soaking in the wargaming atmosphere. Just seeing the beautiful terrain, massive array of painted minis, and wide variety of games across every period imaginable is exciting. I know that's what really drew me into wargaming, and I wanted Landon to get a good taste of it. All of the pictures in this blog-post are from ancients games going on in the main-hall next to the Flea Market, but that was just the tip of the iceberg, and there were numerous games with much prettier terrain and larger hordes of well-painted minis. 

Landon's interests are focused mainly on World War II and sci-fi games (Warhammer 40K in particular), but he seems open to just about anything which is kinda cool for a young guy. After thoroughly scouring the flea market, he decided that the best way to spend his limited funds was to buy a unit of nicely painted space marines and a late 60's era plastic model kit of a Walther P38 pistol. Well played kiddo, well played.  

I snagged a lovely, expertly painted,  whip-wielding demon in the Flea Market for $10 (sort of a small-sized Balrog). But other than that, my flea market take-home was non-existant. Kind of a disappointment there to be honest.

I returned to the Vendor Hall and snagged 2 really well-painted Orc Chariots for $40 total, and was quite pleased with that pickup. I also visited the friendly folks at the Cavalcade Wargames booth and purchased some of their Samurai Orcs (freakin' awesome figs!) and a Minotaur that's not yet available in their online store. Not only do I like the range of figures that Cavalcade is releasing, but I'm always willing to support nice people in the hobby. So I'll surely be visiting them again at future cons. 

All in all, it was a great weekend. Hopefully, I will take some pictures of the new acquisitions and share them on the blog when I get a chance. Stay tuned.