2019 Unto You

01.01.2019

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.


computers hate me gaming miniatures random

Toolbots

12.30.2018

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!


gaming miniatures reaper chronoscape

The DVD I should have skipped

12.16.2018

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.


kevin smith movies/tv/dvd

BF2018 & Hobby Check-in

11.23.2018

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!


hobbies movies/tv/dvd

A Bloody Crusader and Really Bad Dodgeball

11.05.2018

Another batch of "taking too long to paint", with only 4 minis to show for it. There was another that I'm not naming and leaving "in progress" although I don't know if I'll ever finish it as it's more of an objective marker piece than a usable figure.

Today's batch is brought to you by "it was on sale". The first two are left over fantasy figures from the last batch.

Above is the wizard Juliette from the Reaper Dark Legends line. This one turned out to be the best of this batch, as I was able to keep to my working method of primer + washes + drybrush + actually paint a few bits of details. The base is hopefully suited to something dungeon-y. Not really sure why her cleavage looks like there's 3 boobs if you look closely. Go look closely, you can't un-see it now.

Last up from the Dark Legends line is the Crusader Justifier. Armored up with a big freaking sword. I didn't want shiny silver armor, and I read Kevin's Weathering Metal Armor Tutorial. I didn't follow said tutorial, as I decided to start winging it after the second step. Between washes, metallic drybrushes, more washes, and more drybrushes, a slathering of blood splatter made sure I didn't end up with "silver". I've gotten used to brushing on the glossy Citadel sealant where needed after a standard matte spray sealant, and it worked well on this one just to keep the cloth from being overly shiny. The base is 50% bigger than normal, as the stance for this mini is so blamed spread out it was needed. Another dungeon-y fitting floor base.

Back to the good old Chronoscape line, this time with the super heroine Incredible Woman. I had nothing specific in mind, other than testing out how to eventually paint Batman. Primer grey with 2 heavy Nuln Oil washes has been giving me a consistent look I like by bringing out the body highlights. The yellow at the collar (eventually for the bat symbol on the chest) gave me fits as my yellow is just ALWAYS too runny and streaks. Citadel's Cassandra Yellow wash works well for me, but it needs a white base/primer to work well on. I still need another good practice run before committing to a Batman. For fun, I topped this mini off with red hair - honestly the orange Citadel wash works great for hear - and I think it turns into a vaguely Black Widow style mini. Same style base as the other two, just because I was cranking them out to the end at this point.

My obligatory crap paint job that was due. I picked this one up on Amazon for $4.79, and I have no idea what the game is that it actually goes with, but Takoshi University - Dodgeball was, well, I could have done better. I covered up the details way too much, especially the face. My dodgeball turned into a soccer ball. The skin tone turned runny, I was trying for a yellow shirt but the shadows came out orange. She's standing in poop. With perfectly white shoes.

Sometimes you just have to realize there's no fixing something and say "eh, I don't have to use it" and file it away.

4 more doesn't feel like a big hit to the overall total, but I'm close to 50% on the realistically painted total.

This is another busy meeting week at work, topped off Thursday by getting a new windshield on the car. Friday, on the way to Florence for Maw-Maw's 91st B'day Extravaganza, an errant pebble found its way to the bottom corner of the windshield well enough to nick it. Over the weekend the nick grew about a foot. With the length and location, the windshield guys said it had to be replaced, and they would have to order the windshield. I had a windshield replaced on the Explorer so it's not my first windshield replacement, just damned annoying. Since there's a good chance of rain Thursday, I'm going back to the Safelite shop to have them do it there instead of wondering if the weather will mess it all up - and force me to take it to their shop anyway.

I think my next fun hobby thing will be to work on the 15" x 22.5" maps for my cityscape that I've had on my list, yet been putting of for a couple of months. It's all computer/Paint Shop Pro work, and usually I do hobby stuff to get away from the computer, but I'm at the point where I've been putting it off for so long that THAT'S starting to bother me the most.


gaming miniatures ninja division reaper chronoscape

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