Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: Happy Seppuku Basing Stamps

The impact of Kickstarter on the gaming hobby exploded in 2013 - judging by the amount I funded this year (6) compared to 2012 (2). Most of my experiences were good, but the Happy Seppuku basing stamps were the rarity that delivered on time and as promised. They delivered shortly before Thanksgiving, and after a month of use, I have some reasonably presentable results.

The stamps are in the form of a stiff rubber-like mold, about 3x5 inches.  A bit of two-part putty can be placed on a base and pressed into the stamp to give it a certain texture.  Also, some of the accent stamps can be used to produce small bits for your terrain or scenery.  

Across the top: swamp accent, brick, treasure horde and tavern accent.   On the bottom row: snow/mud, sand and the sampler stamp.  

Below are some bits assembled from the tavern accent stamp:

Above, a primed mini pressed into the wood grain texture.  Below, the finished result.  

The swamp accent stamp used to add a stump detail to a terrain piece.

Final recommendation: For the historical wargamers, these stamps are probably of marginal use.  Basing a large army of figures to this detail is not an effective use of your time. The swamp accent piece might be the best choice for adding details such as vines, limbs and stumps to bases. However, if you are also an RPG GM or have an interest in fantasy/sci-fi skirmish games, these bases become a lot more of a value.  

Speaking of value, two part putty isn't cheap and that is perhaps the main drawback of basing most or all of your figures this way. On the other hand, an $8 pack of Miliput could easily create 50 or so bases and bits so the cost might not be too much of a negative incentive.    

I am still exploring the potential of these stamps, such as combining or overlaying textures and pining figures flush to the bases.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bring Out Your Dead...Or Wounded...Or Maybe Just Drunk

This past week's painting project was to create some casualty markers out of wounded or dead figures I have acquired and not yet used.  The four following pieces were inspired in toto by a Rick Priestly article for Hail Caesar.  A dice sized square was cut from a 60mm plastic base, glued on top of a piece of heavy cardstock and then prepared accordingly.  The die face can be used to indicate fatigue in SAGA or casualties in Hail Caesar.

Below, a couple of vikings dead in the snow.

Above: I suppose he could be wounded, but I picture him as a drunk Varangian for a Byzantine urban skirmish I'll be running soon using Ganesha Games' Song of Shadows and Dust.

Above: a Viking casualty for a ship combat scenario. The basing was created out of putty pressed into a mold from Happy Seppuku. I'll do a full product review on their basing molds later this week.

One other note and a word of warning.  Most of the vikings that I have posted recently were purchased on ebay in a lot from a single seller.  They look to be Gripping Beast, Crusader and Wargames Foundry; not in blisters but shiny new.  The models also had a bit more flash than what I have usually experienced from those manufacturers.  With that, and the amount of figures the seller continues to offer, leads me to suspect recasting.  Not knowing more about manufacturing and casting prevents me from naming the seller and carrying it further, but it is something I will look closer at in the future.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Indian Warband Completed

Some projects and purchases take longer than we expect to finish. Case in point: I purchased this Skraeling warband for SAGA in the Summer of 2012.  It was definitely a one-off oddity for the game. Few people seem to use them, and there has been no strong call on the forums to include them in an official release, as was the case for the Byzantines and Steppe Nomads. But, I had to have them because the Vinland Saga is one of my favorite sagas and my interest in the Mississippi mound builders

It is probably not with the most politically correct intentions that I was in part inspired to finish by the Thanksgiving Holidays.  Before Thanksgiving, elementary schools in America put a happy face on relations between the early colonists and the Indians.  My two grade school age children both learned a bit about pilgrims and Indians leading up to the holiday, and I did my best to give them a slightly fuller view of the early encounters between Europeans and Indians, without getting too Howard Zinn on them.  

Of course, six centuries before the arrival of the English, an encounter between Europeans and the native peoples was less a cause for  Thanksgiving.  The European advantage due to metal working was there, but not enough to overcome the natives' numerical advantage.  Calling the people they encountered "Skraelings," we know very little about how they looked or fought.

Gripping Beast's Skraelings are a very well produced set of miniatures.  It contains six variations of 24 warriors and three poses for the 12 archers.  Flash lines are minimal Historically, they probably miss the mark. While there is much that is unknown about the "Skraelings" encountered by the Norse settlers, they were probably of the Thule culture. The Thule were precursors of the Inuit and had similar lifestyle, based on the hunting of sea mammals for food and clothing. With their light clothing and deerskin clothes, these models might be more appropriate for Mississippi period mound builders.

Here's the whole warband, minus a couple of figures undergoing conversions into Shaman types: 

The other reason I was motivated to finish the warband was attending a field trip with my Daughter's third grade class to the Etowah Indian mounds. Are any museum diorama builders also wargamers?  If so, they must surely be tempted to give their layouts a test. Pardon the glare, but here is a model of how the Etowah might have appeared at its peak in the eleventh century. 

A recreation of a ceremonial deer mask, based on fragments approximately 900 years old.  It should make for an interesting priest character. 

Stone axe heads from the Mississippi period: