New directions and adventures with “the dip”

Welllllll, I didn’t get as much done during the break as I would like.  But that’s not to say I didn’t paint a lot, I did.  I even played a couple of games and that was really great.  But it took some time to wrap up the figures I was painting, but got another unit done within a couple of days.  But wait, I’m not making sense.

Let’s start slower


Dragon Rampant


I played to games during spring break.  The first was a quick walk through of Dragon Rampant.  I played at David Demick’s house and we used 15mm figures.  Dave has tons of painted 15mm fantasy figures.  I was initially concerned about working around figure losses and the zone of control, but we found it was quite manageable.  I ran Orcs and was thrashed by his Men of the West, but it was fun to try.  Like Dave, I have a bunch of 15mm fantasy figures painted and unpainted and I am pleased to find a new purpose for them.

En Garde

En Garde!

Last Saturday David Sullivan and I got together with Phil Bardsley and tried out another set of Osprey Rules, En Garde! It was pretty fun.  Intended for Pike and Shot era miniatures, we instead used David’s 40mm Bronze Age Europeans.  David had to finesse the rules a bit, rating bowmen and slingers rather than gunpowder troops.  In any case, the rules seemed to play well, though we did mess up a key component of melee combat.  You can read David’s observations here.  Would love to try these again with my Musketeers figures.

Quetzacoatl Rampant!

Great minds think alike.  After playing some games of Lion Rampant, David and I both agreed that the Spanish conquest of Mexico could easily be played using an adaptation of the LR rules.  Apparently author Daniel Mersey has a bunch of period specific adaptations of these rules ready to launch, so be watching for them.  But we’re beating him to the punch on this one. After some discussion, we agreed we were on pretty much the same page conceptually for the Spanish, and I really had no clue about the Aztecs.  But David posted some troop types and special rules to his blog.  He sent them to me on Tuesday and I think they’re right on.  Give ’em a looksee.

I’ve picked up a unit here and a unit there for this period, but last night I went whole hog and ordered all the Spanish figures I felt I needed from Eureka USA.  Well, almost all the figures I needed because they were short a few packs of Spanish swordsmen. In any case, they are on their way.  Yes, this is a violation of the no new projects pledge.  Yes, I know you feel my contrition and begging for forgiveness. But we did get a decent tax return and my wife said it was okay, so she is complicit. Blame it on Lorri.



Sooooo if you’re going to start a new project it’s best to paint some figures to get started. I have carefully squirreled away a dozen Eureka Spanish arquebusiers.  And I tried something new.  David and Dave Schueler both chatted up their adventures with”the dip,” using the Minwax Tudor Brown stain over a block painted figure to achieve some natural shading.  I gave it a try with the Spanish shooters.  It was easy, cheesy.  My first time out, my mistake was to not paint on a heavy enough coat.

Minwax Dip

But I learned from that.  For those of you who haven’t tried “the Dip” before, here are the steps I used.

  1. Prime as usual.  I spray prime in white, your inclinations may be different.
  2. Block paint your figure.  Completely paint everything.  Lighter shades are better than dark to show off the shading.  No shading or highlighting needed.
  3. David suggests coating with some spray semi-gloss after painting.  I’ve faithfully done this, but I wonder if just spraying with Dullcoat or some other matte finish would suffice.
  4. Get yourself some Minwax polyshades Tudor Brown.  Not easy to find.  The big box stores don’t sell it, but Ace Hardware and Amazon both do. About $15.00 for a half pint.
  5. I used a big cheap round brush to slather on the dip.  It smells foul, so doing this in a hot, enclosed space is probably not optimal.
  6. If the stain pools, use a second brush to swab off the excess.
  7. Allow plenty of time to dry, before shooting with Dullcoat
  8. Do basing as you prefer. Voila you’re done.

Not bad.  Not brilliant, but they look better than okay.

I did a second batch of figures, a dozen plastic Orcs for my 28mm Dragon Rampant army. They are actually old plastic figures from my boys’ long expired HeroQuest game.  I really don’t want to lay out real money for my Dragon Rampant units, so I took these guys and drafted them into service.  Mind you, the game is about 22 years old and honestly the figures aren’t great . . .12 guys in exactly the same pose with slightly different weapons.  But they were free, and remarkably easy to paint.  I slathered “the Dip” on a bit heavier with these guys and they look a lot better.  There will be a few more HeroQuest denizens that play a role in my Dragon Rampant armies. Don’t tell the boys; they’ll be cranky.

Music to paint by: In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson

King Crimson

I got listening to some of my progressive rock collection, mostly inspired by Emerson, Lake and Palmer and The Nice-but there’s lots more.  One album that kept coming across best progressive rock record lists is In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson, of course. The 1969 record was the first by this storied band.  They had lots of success with lots of different lineups, but Robert Fripp was always in the middle of things.  I really wanted to try this record, because the bassist and lead singer is Greg Lake.  I’ve only listened to it once, but it is an absolutely lovely album, mostly laden with songs about approaching doom and darkness.  Only five songs, with many classical-sounding interludes.  My favorites are “21st Century Schizoid Man” and “Moonchild,” but absolutely all of them are great.

Love the cover

Miss Rock and looking ahead

It’s March 5th and we’re about 12 weeks out from Enfilade. It’s a tremendously busy time for me at school.  We just finished a newspaper deadline, the yearbook is on perpetual deadline, and all that means extra nights at Emerald Ridge. I don’t object.  I really don’t.  I love my job and I love my students.  Add to that a state convention to get ready for and a national convention in six weeks in Los Angeles, and there is just tons of stuff to do.

Unfortunately, that means little time for painting or playing games.  It is what it is and there is just no point in complaining–but to say I haven’t considered what retirement might mean would be a lie.

But I have been able to pick up my brushes a bit and make some progress.  I finished the Miss Rock hydroplane sponsored by KISW radio in 1983.  I loved the color scheme and gave it a try.  Nothing terribly tricky, just black and white with Vallejo Vermillion and Deep Yellow accents. It puts my picklefork flotilla at four with two left to paint for the convention.  They will be the identical hulls: 1973 Pay ‘N Pak and the 1976 Atlas Van Lines.  The hulls are a one and only, as Atlas picked up the Pak “Winged Wonder” as the latter began experimenting with new designs.

Picklefork 1

Miss Rock joins the other three boats.  They will race as a separate event at Enfilade in May.

I really am hoping to pick up some additional boats from Shawn.  I’d like another ten or so–a lot of the cab forward boats so I can do the legendary “Blue Blaster” of 1981 as well as other boats of similar design.  Would like a few more of the classic shovel nose hulls too.

Looking ahead

Will probably be trying the MSD 1/300 Swordfish for the Channel Dash scenario.  Dave, ordered a pair and they definitely look more manageable than the Ros/Heroics planes.  I hate to be a quitter on miniatures, but the Heroics planes are not good.  Building any biplane is hard in 1/300–the planes are small.  But these are super difficult.  I’m also going to order a couple of the MSD PB4Y-2 Privateers.  These are navy patrol bombers based on late war the B-24. They are just nasty both as patrol bombers and defensively, absolutely bristling with guns. It also gives me a chance to try out MSD, who started out with the Luft46 range of planes.

En Garde

I picked up the Osprey En Garde! rules.  I had been waiting for them to come out and overlooked the fact they were actually released in November.  Based on the sucessful Ronin rules, these Renaissance era rules combine skirmish combat with the tactical flavor of the period.  Aztecs, Scottish Border reivers, Three Musketeers are the focus of the rules.  THREE MUSKETEERS!!!  Count me in.  My completed 40mm figures are sitting in the garage waiting to play a game.  Unfortunately, I may have to add a few figures to them to really do much.  Not many figures per side, but I’m thinking a few pikemen and command figures may be called for to make a Huguenot command.

Next week I get together with a couple of Dave’s to try out our Ironclads scenario at the Panzer Depot in Redmond.  I doubt we’ll be able to play through the entire scenario, looking instead to see how the fort fire works and whether the Confederate ships can do enough damage to Fort Pickens.  I’ll also be trying to make sure the game doesn’t bog down too terribly.

Less is More.

Since my last post I completed exactly one miniature, the Miss Rock.  I did make some progress on the Riders of Rohan, but not close to finishing them.  Hoping to wrap them up this week. No new figure purchases + 1 hydroplane puts me at +25 for the year.

Music to paint by

Best of Cream

When I was 13 I bought a copy of Best of Cream.  Yes it was an anthology by the British supergroup. I think I heard two songs on the record before buying: “Sunshine of Your Love,” and “White Room.”  I bought it instead of repaying a friend for an order he made to the Soldier Shop in New York.  I was terrible.

Ultimately, it was a great record I really enjoyed listening to.  Unfortunately it was a record that was relatively unknown by a lot of my peers.  I was in the eighth grade and I brought the album to school and nobody had ever heard of Cream.  I was suddenly the cool kid listening to something nobody else had.  I think that lasted for twenty minutes before I returned to being the nerdy kid who built plastic models and played Avalon Hill games.

I usually avoid “Best of” collections like the plague. I believe you learn much more about a band by listening to all of their music without just cherry picking the best.  Unfortunately, being able to buy individual MP3’s have made us lazier or less mature listeners. Alas, I have no other Cream albums, but some day I’ll have all of them: Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears, Wheels of Fire, Good-bye.  But with “I Feel Free,” “Crossroads,” “The Tales of Brave Ulysses,” “Badge” and other great songs to go with those previously mentioned, this is a very good filler. The cover is cool too.