Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Fight for racial justice and LGBTQ rights

Since I’m not returning to hobby blogging for some time, I wanted to make sure the top post here was useful. Want to support Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, and related causes? Here are some ways you can help.

This Carrd is packed with actionable items for supporting racial justice: links to organizations that need your financial help, protest resources, and petitions.

  • If you can’t protest, donate
  • If you can’t donate, sign petitions
  • Contact your city council and other local officials

Here are a few specific recommendations, in case you’re not sure where to start:

  • Find your local bail fund and donate to it. Here’s a list of mutual aid funds throughout the US. Donate to LGBTQ Freedom Fund, which bails out LGBTQ folks.
  • Find your local Black Lives Matter chapter and make a donation.
  • Donate to The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services, and The Okra Project, which hires Black trans folks to feed Black trans folks.
  • Want to go national? Split your donation among multiple bail funds. Here’s a tool for doing that. Or donate to a national organization fighting for racial justice and progressive causes, like the NAACP, GLAD, or ACLU.
  • Find out who your city council members are and contact them. There’s probably an online tool for your city; here’s the one for Seattle. Not sure what to say? Demand that they disband the police department and drop all charges against protesters.

Whatever you do, do something. Start small. Build momentum. And then keep going.

Black Lives Matter.

Trans rights are human rights.

Love is love.

Every Confederate monument should be torn down.

Fuck Trump.

Fuck bigotry.

Abolish the police.

Categories
Miscellaneous geekery

Black Lives Matter

I’ve been largely quiet here about news and the state of the world because this isn’t that sort of blog. It is, generally, my hobby outlet. I want it to be a place readers can come to find — again, generally — posts about RPGs, miniatures, Gunpla, comics, books, and all the other geeky joys in my life.

But as this pandemic stretches on, with over 100,000 Americans dead; with my country’s national response bungled and actively opposed by the racist, misogynistic, venal buffoon that ~40% of the electorate variously loves, supports, or tolerates; as centuries of systemic, endemic American racism are laid bare — again, always again — by the murder of George Floyd by racist cops, and by the subsequent response from white supremacists, Republicans, militarized police departments, and the national disgrace that is the current administration; this doesn’t feel like the time to blog about miniatures.

Black Lives Matter.

Trump is a piece of shit. How anyone can in good conscience support him is a complete fucking mystery.

If you support Trump, or if your first response to the phrase “Black lives matter” is “all lives matter,” you are not welcome here on Yore as a reader or commenter.

I’ve made a donation to Black Lives Matter. If you have the means, I encourage you to do the same — or to donate to the ACLU, local causes, or other organizations fighting for progressive causes and against injustice.

I’m taking this week off from posting here on Yore, maybe longer. Stay safe out there.

Categories
Gunpla

More Gunpla: building an MG Astray Red Frame Kai

With my HG Gouf Custom built and tucked into the toy display on my desk, I returned to my first MG kit, the lovely Astray Red Frame Kai my wife got me last Christmas.

Nestled inside its chest is its tiny pilot.

Pilot Lowe Guele

The undergated parts make this kit a dream to get off its runners. Most parts have their nub protruding from an internal surface, almost like it’s been slid up alongside it, rather than attached to it or on an external area. Just nip, trim, and move on — it’s awesome.

Undergated parts

After 90 minutes of work on my second night (first since late December 2019), I had a finished torso. So. Many. Parts!

This kit is going to look so cool when it’s done
Working on the arm inner frames and joints

The Google Translate app makes assembling Gundam kits a lot easier — and sometimes it adds a dash of humor, too.

Words to live by
This right here is a really neat arm
Look at that bend!
One arm down

I love the use of a reflective foil sticker underneath the clear plastic element on the head. It really pops, and it’s such a clever approach.

Now we’re cooking with gas
Still needs hips, thighs, and ankles, but I’m starting to get a feel for how tall he’ll be

By the time I got to the legs, I was back in the groove and moving more quickly. But between the weapons and the rest of Astray’s body I’ve still got several hours of building to do.

Categories
Comics

The comic book that started it all for me

I grew up in NYC, and when I was a little kid most of my comics came from bargain bins, the school fair, or the hole-in-the-wall newspaper shop/convenience store nearest our apartment. What I read was a grab bag largely determined by circumstance — and, in the case of the little shop, actual grab bags: They would bag three comics, with the outer two covers visible and the inner one a surprise, and charge less than the cost of all three for the bundle.

So while it’s possible — maybe even likely — that I read a superhero comic before this one, the first one I actually remember reading as a little kid was Marvel Tales #139, published in 1982. That’d put me around age five or six, which tracks.

When I started getting into collecting CGC-slabbed books a few years back, I thought it’d be fun to slab this one — but I also wondered if it would hold up as an adult, or if I just remembered it fondly because I loved it as a kid.

So I dug it out and reread it.

The One, dog-eared, read and reread, and much-loved

I opened it up and saw that 1) it was a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #2 (I didn’t know at the time that Marvel Tales was a reprint line), and 2) it was a Steve Ditko/Stan Lee joint. No fucking wonder I remembered loving it!

So yeah, absolutely still a great comic as an adult. And just look at that Ditko cover! Iconic.

One of its stories, which features the Vulture dropping Spidey — who has run out of web fluid — into a New York water tower is the reason I can’t look at a water tower and not immediately think of Spider-Man. (And, more broadly, see or be in NYC and not think of Spidey.) We had one on the roof of our apartment building, which my best friend and I regularly snuck up and climbed — and it sort of terrified me.

It was locked, or our dumb asses might have considered going inside.

Anyhoo, I didn’t want to frame The Actual Issue because that felt sort of sad. Why lock it away? It’s fun to read, to hold an actual connection to my childhood that has so many connections to my adult life. So I set about finding a copy in good condition — which, given that it’s essentially worthless, was a challenge!

But I eventually found one and sent it off to CGC. It came back at a 9.6, and damn is it gorgeous.

Marvel Tales #139

Slabbed books are a real challenge to photograph well, but someday I should try and get a few good shots of the ones I have up. I love them all, but so few people get to see them!

Categories
Gunpla

Dipping back into Gunpla with an HG Gouf Custom

I haven’t built any Gunpla kits since I started on the — rather intimidating! — MG Astray Red Frame my wife got me for Christmas, mostly because miniatures swallowed my hobby time whole (in a good way). But on Sunday night, unable to sleep, I was in the mood for Gundam.

The Astray is my first MG and I was feeling a bit rusty, so I jumped into one of the other two kits I currently have on hand instead — an HG Gouf Custom. HG kits are super-relaxing to work on, simple but rewarding, and this was just what the doctor ordered. I popped on Community in the background and tucked into it.

HG Gouf Custom waist, torso, and head done so far

I’m still a Gunpla newbie; the Gouf is my fourth kit, all HGs (Leo, Barbatos, and Astaroth Origin are the other three). After working on plastic miniatures, I have to switch grooves a bit — double-nipping, multi-stage sanding and polishing, no glue, no painting, etc. It’s a fun mental shift.

Sunday night’s stopping point, before I realized I had the shoulder joints on upside down

I started making mistakes around 1:00 am Monday, so I went to bed and picked up the Gouf again at a more reasonable hour.

The combination shield / scabbard / 35mm cannon / gatling gun
Such a cool feature of this kit
Done except for panel lining

After finishing the kit, I grabbed my trusty black Gundam marker, pulled off the arms, shoulders, head, and gun, and set to panel lining. Come Monday night, I had a finished Gouf.

Finished and posed

I figured I’d stretch the capacity of my little lightbox and get a shot of him in there, too.

HG Gouf Custom

This was a fun kit to build, and now I feel like I’m back in the groove. Time to start working on the Astray!

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

Painting the weekend away

On Saturday, I wanted to work on another character. As chance would have it I was just about to paint the black elements on my Sternguard, so I fired up my Chaplain, Arrius, and figured I’d paint everything but black — his dominant color — so he’d be in sync with the veterans.

Chaplain Arrius

I love this mini, and while I found resin to be a pain in the ass my guess during the assembly process was correct: That pain faded once I started painting him. It’s such a great sculpt!

I was feeling a bit down, and also a bit out of it, on Saturday — so much so that I completely forgot I always paint bases first. Nothing on his legs would make it risky to drybrush around them, so I wrapped up his non-black colors and switched gears.

Closing in on a finished base — and base coat

As I gain confidence as a painter, I’m also going off-book more often. I love his studio paint scheme, but that’s not a Blood Angel. (I mean, intentionally so; he’s a “generic Chaplain” by design.) I gave him a Blood Angels backpack, but he needed a bit more to tie him into the chapter; I figured a red knee pad with a chapter symbol would do the trick. He also has black armor, which means black suit gaskets aren’t going to read well — not to mention a mix of red elements that need definition and separation.

Which means it’s color guide time!

Chaplain color guide

  • Black: Abaddon Black > Eshin Grey > Dawnstone
  • Bone and parchment: Rakarth Flesh > Agrax Earthshade > Pallid Wych Flesh > White Scar
  • Metal and piping: Leadbelcher > Nuln Oil > Stormhost Silver
  • Armor gaskets: Mechanicus Standard Grey > Nuln Oil > Dawnstone
  • Leather and piping: Screamer Pink > Carroburg Crimson (skipped on gems) > Pink Horror > Emperor’s Children
  • Gold: Retributor Armour > Reikland Fleshshade > Auric Armour Gold > Liberator Gold
  • Eyes and tubing: Moot Green > Agrax Earthshade > Moot Green
  • Book cover: Khorne Red > Agrax Earthshade > Wazdakka Red > 50/50 blend of Wazdakka Red/Kislev Flesh
  • Knee pad, gems, purity seal wax: Mephiston Red > Agrax Earthshade > Evil Sunz Scarlet > Fire Dragon Bright

Other hobby work swirling about

I also looked at my painting queue for May and decided I wanted to make my stretch goal the Sanguinary Guard — as planned — but that doing Dante and the Sanguinary Ancient (with his massive banner) might be too much of a stretch. Still, having primed Dante, I figured I’d take him through basing.

Commander Dante

…And get the Guard and Abaoz through basing as well, so I’d be covered no matter what.

Squad Remiel and Sanguinary Ancient Abaoz, curing overnight
The state of my painting area this weekend
Squads Remiel and Adamo

I put in less hobby time than I thought I would this weekend, doing more other stuff instead, but kept my hobby streak up — Monday was day 93! — and laid the groundwork for what comes after my Sternguard.

Wrapping up the Chaplain and Squad Amedeo should definitely be doable before the end of May, and really going beyond that — 1x Rhino, 11x Marines — was a stretch anyway. But I won’t discount the possibility that a couple of banner painting nights sneak in, say, all of Squad Remiel by May 31, either. It happened last month, after all!

Categories
Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Amedeo

With Squad Dolos finally painted, it’s time to get my Sternguard, Squad Amedeo (1st Company, 3rd Squad), up on the painting handles! As always, I’ve completed their bases already (except for varnish and tufts, of course), and I’ve dabbed a bit of paint on them whenever I had extra on my palette.

One of the things I love about Blood Angels heraldry is that they use helmet color to indicate battlefield role — yellow for fast attack, blue for heavy support, gold for veterans, etc. — which looks great, provides variety, and is just sort of neat. (I also love that, in addition to regarding the Codex Astartes as a set of loose guidelines, they also break their own rules — like having Terminators eschew gold helmets for plain old red.) So when I built my initial army list I tried to squeeze in all of the special colors.

The battle-brothers of Squad Amedeo are my first foray into colorful hats. I love painting gold! And they’re going to drip with so much gold.

I love their little gold helmets!

So, so much gold.

Done with gold, I think

Although one thing I learned from painting Squad Ultio was that it’s also fun to lean away from gold, even when it’s my first instinct. Mix in some white, some silver, and some black where I might otherwise have put gold — and give each model a loose little theme based on those color choices. So while Squad Amedeo is going to get its fashion sense from the imperious, bling-loving Sergeant Amedeo, there will be some other colors in the mix as well.

I’m also diverging a bit more than usual from the studio paint scheme, as I’m not sure how to do the gold fabric (nor whether I’d like it), white on red doesn’t feel right for them, and I’ve probably used rather a bit more gold overall.

One night of base-coating

This was one of my favorite squads to assemble, and so far they’re an absolute joy to paint. They’re detailed without being fussy, with nice separations between their elements, and I just love them. I made great progress last night, laying down base coats in every color except Mephiston Red, Abaddon Black, and whatever I go with for their incidental wires and whatnot.

Categories
Miniatures WIP it good

Turiel’s scenic base

I love working on miniature bases, creating little landscapes to complement and set off the actual figure, so for my second Dreadnought I picked up some plain 60mm GW bases on Ebay to give me a blank canvas to work with. I gather that a lot of folks don’t love basing, so I figured I’d talk a bit about my process — not because I’m an expert (I’m not!), but because maybe some of that joy will be passed along.

I start by looking at the figure and thinking about their role in the battle on the plains of Armageddon — that’s where all my Blood Angels are fighting, base-wise. Then I dig out my bits box and pick fun stuff that seems like it might work.

Starting to get a good idea of what I’m after here

I test out my ideas on the base, moving stuff around until I can picture a cool finished product in my mind. Then I literally test out some elements — like making sure this upright grate/hatch thingie won’t get in the way of Turiel’s body. I also think about whether I want to add tufts, and how many, so I can leave room for a couple.

Will it fit? It will!

I also make sure to leave some clearance around the figure itself, to give myself room to, you know, actually paint it. I’ve bumped stuff up too close to models on past bases and made things more difficult for myself. Ditto on avoiding the edges, since I like to have room to put texture paint around everything.

Final test configuration

My first Dread, Narses, has prominent vertical elements on the front and back sides of his base. I thought it’d be fun to give Turiel a mostly flat front, but couldn’t resist playing with height in the back.

After I’ve got stuff pretty much how I like it, I trim the nubs, get rid of the mold lines, and glue it all down (plastic glue for plastic, superglue for rocks).

Front view
Rear view
From above

After Turiel’s glue cures overnight, it’s on to painting the debris and then surrounding it all with texture paint!

Categories
Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Squad Dolos brings me up to 730 points of painted Blood Angels

It took me longer than I’d like to take Squad Dolos from this state, where they languished for a few days:

Partially base-coated

To this one, starring the worst base-coating work I’ve done this year:

Fully base-coated

And then to the “starting to not look like shit” stage:

These are such simple models — look how few colors I’m using for layers/highlights!

And finally through the undocumented and quite frustrating stage where I discovered that the ~20-year-old knee pad decals I’d planned to use were — at least as far as I could tell, still being pretty new to using decals — too old to soften properly despite repeated applications of Micro Sol. I was hoping to avoid freehanding their squad markings; in the end, that’s what I had to do.

…But I finally got there!

Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad
Rear view

I have to say that these weren’t my favorite models to paint. Their highlighting was fun, but they’re kind of basic — excellent sculpts and detail, but with so few ways to personalize or pose them that the end product was not all that exciting. I didn’t cut corners on them, but it always felt like a bit of a struggle; I suspect that’s why it took me so long. Ah well.

Thus far I’ve painted more troops than anything else, so my current point total of painted figures (730/2,000) is low relative to the number of models I’ve completed. I’m one figure shy of the 50% mark now, and it’s all characters, elites, and fast attack — plus one massive tank — from here on in.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to match April’s record month, but you never know. Next up I’m going to paint my Sternguard squad and my Chaplain, and fitting in one more squad of five after that — which feels like a stretch right now! — would match April’s tally.

Categories
Miniatures Warhammer 40k

My first 40k army: 2,000 points of Blood Angels, fully assembled and partially painted

With my final squad assembled, I now have 100% of my first army list — exactly 2,000 points of Blood Angels with WYSIWYG wargear — assembled, primed, or painted. Which means it’s photo time!

2,000 points of WYSIWYG Blood Angels

I haven’t quite worked out how best to take this sort of photo, but it is my first go so that makes a bit of sense. Hopefully future shots will turn out a bit clearer. Still, I love seeing them all in one place for like this!

Breaking it down

23 completed (20 Marines, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank, 1 teleport homer):

  • Squad Karios, 2nd Company, 1st Squad — Battleline Space Marines
  • Squad Ultio, 1st Company, 2nd Squad — Shooty Terminators
  • Squad Cain, 10th Company — Scout snipers
  • Narses, Librarius — Librarian Dreadnought (HQ)
  • Relentless, 2nd Company, Rhino 3, designated transport for Squad Karios

35 works in progress (32 Marines, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank, 1 teleport homer):

  • Commander Dante, Chapter Master (HQ)
  • Squad Dolos, 2nd Company, 3rd Squad — Primaris Infiltrators
  • Squad Barakiel, 1st Company, 1st Squad — Close combat Terminators
  • Squad Remiel, Sanguinary Guard
  • Brother Abaoz, Sanguinary Guard — Sanguinary Ancient
  • Squad Zahariel, Death Company
  • Squad Adamo, 2nd Company, 7th Squad — Jump Assault Marines
  • Squad Amedeo, 1st Company, 3rd Squad — Sternguard Veterans
  • Turiel, 1st Company — Furioso Dreadnought
  • Arrius, Reclusiam — Chaplain (HQ)
  • Judgment, 1st Company, designated transport for Squad Barakiel — Land Raider Crusader

Here are all the kits I used:

2,000+ points of Space Marines

One of my original goals was to use 100% of the minis I bought for my initial army in my initial army, so if a kit was 10 Space Marines, I’d include all 10 in my force. But I realized a few weeks into assembling it all that I’d have more fun with 5 Infiltrators instead of 10, so I swapped in 5 Sternguard and juggled the wargear on a few units at the same time. So I came pretty close!

And it’s not like those 5 Infiltrators will go to waste: They’ve just joined my backlog, and will be part of my larger army — available to swap in as needed.

I’ve wanted to have a 40k army since I was around 10 years old, and I’ve spent the better part of the past 30-plus years being alternately frustrated with, disinterested in, or occasionally enjoying painting miniatures. It’s been a joy to rediscover — and, at the same time, discover — the side of myself that enjoys painting minis, and a new hobby that I love. Painting my Blood Angels has been a blast, and I’m still going!