Back during this year's Black Friday shopping (maybe), my Miniature Market order needed a little padding to reach the free shipping threshold so I tossed in the Plast Craft Games Urban Furniture set.
Plast Craft makes a nice little assortment of low-effort scenery. Slightly high density foam with pre-printed graphics along with laser cut wood accents for the buildings that I've gotten so far. Interestingly, for each building I've made I always do something wrong but manage to cover it up well enough. That kept true this time.
Compared to the cover pic, the 2 Bus Stops are mirrored from how they should be. My fountain is a little Pisa inspired. A couple of the wooden pieces on the benches didn't get cut very clean. Way to start off 2019!
None of this is horrible. I added my favorite water feature to the fountain, but I got air bubbles I couldn't completely get rid of. I can touch up the marred wood with some paint here and there and it will end up lookng fine. My real reason for making this my quick one-off project to start off the year is that now I'll force myself to make the 4Ground Playground pieces Keith gave me a year ago. The Potham City Park needs a child friendly area... for the zombies to find snacks?
Upcoming on the hobby front:
- This Sunday I take my first art class in decades as I follow through with "How to use my airbrush". I'll save whatever details there may or may not be until later.
- Next actual hobby project is a 1:48 Tamiya M1A2 Abrams Tank. I'm not sure when the last time I made an actual plastic model was. I picked this up on my trip to HobbyTown last July-ish.
- My map-tile making project has stalled out and I'm going to see why I've lost my gumption there.
It's that time of year to reflect back and plan forward. I like planning forward as having a goal helps to keep me from sitting like a knot on a log. But I shall start with looking back and checking off that reflection part.
This year Russellmania was more of a hobby blog than anything else. It helped hold me accountable for making progress on all the stuff I've accumulated to paint over the years. So how'd I do?
Green rows had more minis painted than I started the year out with; Yellow rows are the inverse; The other rows had no change
118 minis got painted.
105 new minis got bought.
Net gain: 13 minis painted.
That doesn't feel very productive.
The crux of those additions come from the Star Trek Adventures RPG game (52 new minis). A game I'll likely not play, but I do want to paint those minis. Zpocalypse might be a typo along the way, unless there was a good sale somewhere that I forgot about.
This doesn't include any of the scenery I made this past year. Scenery was something I didn't start out tracking so I don't really, at least easily, know how much progress I made there. I did make a lot of stuff, printed out a lot of stuff to go with it, and enjoyed it.
The rest of the 2018 - honestly nothing really stands out. I'm ok with that.
What does 2019 bring?
Hopefully more than a net gain of 13 minis painted. The first thing associated with that is that I'm going to look into taking a mini painting class at Lowe Mill which will force me to finally take the airbrush out of the box! I visited the place last week forthe first time, and think I would be comfortable learning from the folks there. The last time I took any type of art class would have been circa 1980. I'm still enjoying painting minis and scenery, so for now that's still going to be my hobby!
This is also a big year for me in other ways. I've had Russellmania.com registered for 20 years, and a bug chunk of that has been my blogging hither and yon. At one point I had all the old version of the site saved off where I could reach it/them, but to be honest I'm not sure where those burned cds have gotten stashed to. In March I'll turn 50, and although I have no big celebratory plans I'll no longer be able to joke about being old. I'm going to be old. A couple of months after that, I'm scheduled to make my final mortgage payment. Now that is seemingly a big deal. With luck, the house won't fall apart before then.
2019 also brought something I've been expecting for a year and a half. At 7:30 this morning, my wireless router died. Luckily, I had a replacement waiting in the garage since something happened in April 2017 that made me think the then-8 year old router was going to die.
The router ended up lasting a good 9 years. This morning while watching Supergirl on Netflix, the wireless connection went down and all the lights on the router were out. An hour later the new network was up and running. It took and extra hour and a half to get everything that's supposed to use the wireless network re-connected. Smart lights, Echo Dots, tablets - I just have lots of wirelessness. And I just remembered 2 laptops that have to be connected.
That was a good router though.
It's been almost 2 months since showing anything on the hobby front. When I have a bad batch, which although on 1 out of 4 was really bad, it left a bad taste in my mouth for painting figures. The thing is, I wanted to paint some more figures and not vehicles/scenery/etc. The key here - what's something I couldn't screw up? Or at least have a hard time screwing up. Enter the Chronoscope Toolbots.
I have no need for little robots in anything I can see myself playing in the next half decade. Luckily that has no bearing most of the time in picking out what I'm going to paint. After scouring the interweb for some reference pics of how other people have painted these, the majority aren't painted very well. A low bar! That's perfect for the taste that's been in my mouth!
I found a color scheme I liked and decided to emulate at least parts of it. Each bot would be a different color, but little details like collars, visors, and knee joints would be the same color.
Like most of my painting, this batch was wrought with mistakes to cover up. I never do well with bright colors on top of grey primer (so why start that way?). Yellow is always too... streaky? Blue went on too thick. I used 2 shades of green on 2 bots, but they ended up looking the same to me. Metallic gold and silver went on a little thick sometimes, too.
I got to try some things that worked out too. The beveled bases got leveled out with Tamiya Putty, and a decent enough job for concrete-looking floors. The caution pinstripe tape I got at HobbyTown in Kinnesaw worked well on those floors, too. I tried out washes that matched the base colors - that might be why those 2 greens turned out more alike. I dipped into the fluorescent colors for neon green and orange, which I applied with a toothpick and holding it like a miniature pool cue to help steady it.
While not great, I don't think they suck. I used more paint than my normally successful prime + wash + drybrush method.
After a year, I discovered I've been calculating my Percent Complete incorrectly on my little spreadsheet. I've been using my total painted vs remaining unpainted, instead of total painted vs total (unpainted + painted). Just for consistency, the final tally for the year shows the old method while I'll kick off the "right" way with whatever is painted next.
Next time - maybe the Year In Review. Year End Review? 2018 Summary!
I greatly enjoy my DVD collection. I've been collecting, actually buying, them since 1997, starting with the first Starship Troopers movie. Somewhere along my path of life (I think when I was working in the video store) I decided that if I wanted to watch a movie I would just buy it in case I wanted to watch it more than once. With the advent of video on demand, that's not quite as cost effective as it used to be. Storage space for all these discs takes up room vs keeping everything in the cloud. It's actually easier to just click a button and buy/rent a movie when I want to watch it than the hassle of ordering a disc, waiting for it to ship, then remembering what shelf I put it on when I'm finally in the mood to watch it.
But that's not what this is about.
My man-love for Kevin Smith is well documented, albeit waned a smidge over the past year as I finally got to the point where I'd seen/heard him talk enough that any given topic or snippet I'd seen/heard 75% of it before. This past year I went with Dr Blondie to see Kev at the Ryman, and 75% of what he talked about I'd heard on podcasts, twitter posts, or whatever other random path of information flows between he and I. I expected it. This event was about 3 months after his heart attack that didn't kill him, which he mentioned was being recorded for Showtime.
I like Kevin's Q&A's more than his movies, the man can tell a good tale. If he's released a Q&A on disk, I've got it. The special for Showtime popped up a couple of months ago. I don't have Showtime, but I thought about getting it. In the end, I did not. A few weeks ago Kevin posted, on one of his many information flows between us, that iTunes was going to have his Silent But Deadly special on whatever date he mentioned. I've been cutting back my iTunes purchases, and use in general, but maybe I would start some digital downloading of Kevin?
If iTunes has it, maybe he's releasing a disk? I went to Amazon and there in the available Blu-Ray section is Silent But Deadly! Click, bought, ship it to me, it was only $13!
This next part is connected, trust me: As part of my Alexa Echo/Smart (Special Needs) Home 2018 Initiative, I upgraded my Amazon Music to Unlimited (oooh, snazzy, huh?) account to have what can only be described as "more stuff". I'm still amazed at what is actually available there. 1987 Open Sesame album by Whodini is there. I think I was the only person in Alabama that listened to that when it came out. On cassette. That I bought at Murphy's Mart. That detail isn't relevant other than Amazon streams some eclectic stuff. Remembering this, I searched for Kevin, and they did indeed have Silent But Deadly available for my listening pleasure. As such, I joyously listened!
And I found that the hour that constitutes Silent But Deadly is the first hour that he talked about when he was in Nashville. It makes sense as far as a stand-up/speaker being on tour, but it was a little disappointing. I'd never thought of this being 100% the same. 100% the same of something I'd heard 75% of before. It's not a total wash - I re-listen to Kevin stories all the time, but that makes the expectation of hearing a golden nugget for the first time so much higher.
Now the disk will go in the stack of everything else, and most likely forgotten for a long time. Hearing a story, paying to see it told in person, and then hearing it again when thinking it might be with something new - those stories will stick with you for a while before they'll get a chance to be heard, or seen, again.
Ah, another bout of quiet on the blog-front. Usually that means I haven't done anything hobby-worthy. That was indeed the case. To be honest, after the disappointment of the last batch of minis I wasn't all fired up to do something else. Oh, I had a list that didn't involve painting minis (more on that further down) but I lacked the gumption to follow through on any of it.
Thanks to Jer enjoying his gaming rig and regaling me with stories of adventure in Elite Dangerous, I managed to switch my free time focus to flashing back to my teen years and sat around playing video games. I'd tried playing Elite Dangerous before but just couldn't get the hang of the controls - I could never complete the 2nd dog-fighting tutorial. Thanks to some tutelage from Jer, I spent the better part of 3 hours customizing my controls to be more intuitive, and eschewed dog-fighting and instead stuck to delivery missions. Intergalactic UPS! It's been oddly fun.
I've also been prepping for Black Friday 2018. Much like last year, I started cutting back on my DVD ordering early and had a list of what to go after, with Skyscraper being at the top of my "This isn't worth $25, but I'd pay $10" list. Thanks to Amazon, Target, and Best Buy making more sale items available online starting Wednesday I was able to get all but 1 thing on my list by the time Black Friday actually rolled around. Season 2 of Lethal Weapon is avoiding sale coverage. It will be my grail item of the season!
Outside of DVD shopping, 4Ground had another 25% off coupon sale this year. I decided this was a good time to get some Mayberry-esque commercial buildings that would fit in with the rest of the scenery I've been making. RPGNow had downloads of Star Trek Adventures, for 25% off, rules that had been sitting in my wishlist for a while. While I was there, I picked up some maps that I've got plans for (more on that further down).
Outside the realm of game stuff, I took holiday sales as an opportunity to enter the realm of the smart assistant and got some Echo Dots. I've been using my Fire tablet to stream stuff when I go to bed, and the idea of a Dot had been appealing to me for a while. There was a good sale on a 3-pack, so now I have Dots in the bedroom, kitchen, and garage. I'll be a streaming fool! Or at the very least I can ask what the weather forecast is from 50% of the house.
This Is Further Down
My hobby list has plenty to do, but as stated before I've been lacking gumption. One of the things to do that keeps staying on the list is making maps to print via Poster Ninja. My standard map tile for Potham is 7.5" square. The specialty tiles I made for the mini mart and coffee shop were 22.5" x 15". Piecing together 6 pieces of paper together didn't work as well as I hoped. Enter poster size (affordable) printing! At Poster Ninja, I can use their 36" x 48" poster and fit four of my over-sized map tile layouts. If I get 4 of those posters, I reach the free shipping threshold. 16 special tiles. I can plan that!
The easy route is to alot half (eight) for full grass or asphalt coverage. The other half will be more specialized, or more than half if I need it. I printed sidewalks and driveways for houses, and glued those to thin sheets of plastic and cut to size. While it works, it doesn't look that good. With larger tiles, I can dedicate the sidewalk and driveway per house. The same with any commercial buildings and parking. To do it right, I should make the building(s) and have the proper footprint and know where sidewalks and driveways should go. That doesn't sound crazy.
Now, instead of trying to print off everything and then make the buildings, I'll make a building, measure, and set out the lot on the map. That sounds a lot more grown up than I intended. I'll start by setting up the buildings already made (phase 1) and go from there. Hobby path forward is set!
As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).
Tags have been added to posts back to 2005. There may be an occasional old blog that gets added to the tag list, but in reality what could be noteworthy from that far back?
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