Comic-con 2011: The debriefing

San Diego Comic-con International… you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

I’ve heard my co-workers tell horror stories about SDCC — not because it’s a terrible event, but because it’s the most physically demanding show we attend all year. The hours are long, it starts a day earlier than the other shows we go to, the concrete floor makes you wish for death, and you’re surrounded by 120,000+ folks who are clamoring for the latest, greatest toys. Bearing all that in mind, I was fully expecting a week of hell.

Instead, I got a week of decent discomfort, food poisoning, and some pretty solid geek-out moments.

We came, we saw, we were exhausted.

Had I actually planned this out better, I would have done a few days of posts. Instead, you’re going to get a pretty substantial image dump with some text mixed in — assuming the cider doesn’t go to my head. 😛

This is what greeted me when I walked through door D into the exhibit hall.

I had no clue what this thing was. I'm told it's from "Adventure Time."

So many Doctor Who goodies, so little money.

I was unprepared for the strong showing from LEGO. Mind. Blown.

The mad rush Thursday morning. We were there for preview night, but the crowd was tiny by comparison to opening day.

Oh, the places we could go, dear TARDIS...

G4 interviews Duke next to our booth.

Cool-looking statues draw crowds at SDCC, and our very own Ironclad, dubbed “Big Blue” drew huge crowds on a daily basis — to the point where we needed a staffer to stay close to ask people not to climb on it, learn on it or otherwise disturb it. I haven’t had a chance to look yet, but I suspect Blue ended up in a good many Comic-con photo galleries. Pretty neat stuff.

It was awfully quiet for a Dalek...

SDCC is all about demos for us. Here, Ed "The Beast" Bourelle demos Voltron.

Paul "SRDragon" Luna hams it up with Captain America.

I *am* standing!

Neat banner, still not 100% sold on the new series, sadly.

It wouldn't be a convention without a giant Pikachu pic.

Bedlam ruled. Leaving the convention center was almost as challenging of navigating the exhibition hall. Madness.

One of the best things about Comic-con is that it is a full-on geekfest. Movies, comic books, toys, costumes, TV shows… it’s an entertainment extravaganza that borders on the obscene. It’s far more an entertainment show than a comic book show, which is kinda sad. Speaking of comics, it’s kinda funny that I had to travel 1,300+ miles to meet two of the paragons of geekdom.

Jerry is a teddy bear. Don't let the pic fool you. Mike plays Legion of Everblight but don't hold that against him.

Geek-out, freak-out 1: Early Thursday morning, I made my way over to the Penny Arcade booth. It was frigid there; they were right under an A/C vent. I introduced myself to Mike “Gabe” Krahulik and we chatted a bit about HORDES: Domination and some of the nasty things coming out for his faction of choice, Legion of Everblight. A few minutes later, Jerry “Tycho” Holkins arrived. I started to introduce myself and stopped. He was grinning.

“Hey, I know who you are! I read your blog all the time! You probably don’t have any idea who I am!”

I was stunned. And then he hugged me. “Of course I know who you are! I’ve seen you on your TV show!”

We chatted a bit about painting and what sort of Warmachine goodies we had back at our booth. I had to run back to our booth since the hall was opening soon, but promised to come back and visit them before the show was over. I’m not gonna lie: It still makes me grin that Jerry recognized me and that he thought I wouldn’t recognize him.

Geek-out, freak-out 2: The Friday of SDCC, we were lucky enough to be invited to a party by the good folks at NCsoft. This was doubly cool because I got to hang out with fellow blogger and tweeter Nate Birkholz, who is the lead producer of City of Heroes and a fellow Warmachine/Hordes addict and chat more with NCsoft community manager Andy Belford. We got to see content for City of Heroes: Freedom and Guild Wars 2, both of which look pretty cool.

The highlight of the evening, however, was going to see MC Frontalot at the Ruby Room and getting a formal introduction. Andy and Damian (that’s Front’s “real” name) go back a few years — both of them had documentaries premiering at the same time at SXSW. I’ve spoken to Damian a few times at his booth, but it was very cool to meet him. It was even cooler to see him at such a small venue, especially since my first experience seeing him play live was at Benaroya Hall at PAXPrime 2010.

I don't think I could duplicate this effect if I tried.

MC Frontalot put on a fantastic show.

*That* close to the king of nerdcore.

Saturday and Sunday were all about survival and keeping myself entertained. I finally remembered to break out my “good” camera instead of relying on my cell phone.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I. Don't. Know.


Bender & Frye!

Once again, I *am* standing...

501st attended in force on Saturday.

I thought this was the best Tenth Doctor at the con.

Yes, they're wearing trucks on their heads. Yup.

"Yes, we can get you started with a fantastic Warmachine army for under $100."

Ed does his Sean Penn impersonation.

*Everyone* loved Big Blue.

Ferret and Total Fan Girl!

Steampunk gathering with Big Blue!

For every amazing costume, there where others that… well, I’m just gonna post the pics, mkay?

Transformers... more than meets th— OK, maybe not.


Gotta catch what?

They see em trollin'...

This is OUR HOUSE.

We work hard and we play hard. At the end of the show, we had our staff dinner. Many margaritas and a host of helpless crustaceans paid the price. But boy were they delicious.

The pay off.

King crab and shrimp. Not pictured: steak and chicken. I did not finish it, but found good homes for all.

The aftermath.

Until next time!


Trollbloods: The rebirth

The first time I painted Trollbloods, I had the bright idea they should be neon pink. They were going to be drunken frat boys who ate a lot of shrimp and flamingos and that was the backstory to their brightly colored skin.

When it actually came to painting them, it was a royal pain in the ass. Florescent pink doesn’t cover well over black primer and I hate using white primer. I lost interest in painting the army and playing it.

In the interest of full disclosure, here they are. I'm sorry.

Fast-forward to life at The Mothership, where I’ve successfully completely two 100-point painting challenges and learned a thing or two about painting quick and not-so-dirty. The 100 points of Cygnar that I painted in 2010 damn near destroyed my will to live, but it reinforced the importance of inks and washes and painting cleanly and quickly. The 100-points of Circle from earlier this year was an exercise in subdued colors with a brighter accent.

But why Trolls, and why now?

Retribution has become my primary Warmachine faction. I love me some Angry Elves and that’s not going to change anytime soon. I love me some Thyra, Flame of Sorrow, and her horde of angry widows that scamper across the board, especially as a tier 4 theme force. There’s also Constance Blaize, who has roped me in for another tier 4 theme force and has me excited about Sword Knights again. So with three Warmachine factions competing for my attention, what could Hordes possibly have to catch my eye?

Jarl Skuld, Devil of the Thornwood.

Jarl, you rogue you. With your two pistols and one eye...

I can’t say much about Jarl, other than I think he’s awesome and I really dig the sculpt. I happen to like his rules and he’s the one model that’s got me excited to take the up the cause of the kriels yet again. And did I mention how much fun these guys are to paint now that I don’t have to worry about retina-searing pink? And they paint up fast.

I didn’t give up on pink entirely; it’s still very much a part of this army and it’s important to me that it remains so. I chose a non-studio paint scheme yet again in order to make sure the pink was a good fit and I’m happy with how these models have turned out. They’re table-top quality, which is good enough for me. I want them done so I can play with them. (I have a thing about fielding painted models now.)

But enough blathering. I spent the better part of the evening trying to get these pics to work, and I’ll be damned if you’re not going to see them. 😛 We’ll start of with something that resembles a step-by-step.


Metals — I still do these first. Painted on instead of drybrushed. Better results.

Skin tone. Vallejo French Mirage Blue.

Leathers — Bloostone for the big stuff, Boot Strap for the smaller bits.

Metal accents — Brazen Brass

Black wash over the skin.

Washes over the metal bits and leathers.

Highlights on the skin. I'm lazy. That's all that really gets a highlight with these guys.

Details: Quills, bumps, faces, eyes and a splash of pink.

Battle box with Madrak resculpt.

If not for becoming enthralled with Capt. Jack Harkness and Torchwood, I could’ve had the light beasts done in about a day. There was also Independence Day and quality time with Awesome Dude, so I’m not really sweating the fact they didn’t get finished with Dicewraith-like speed. They were very fast for me and they’re done, which is the important thing.

More full disclosure: I painted up the Madrak resculpt a week or two ago as my primary test model. You might have seen him before, but this is his debut on my blog. 😛

"It's the end of the world as we—" whoops, wrong Madrak.

Madrak: Angry from every angle.

I did manage to get a model done in one sitting, and I’m pretty happy I didn’t paint him up sooner. I don’t think I would have liked him in pink.

Gunnbjorn says you better recognize.

"That's right. Real Trollbloods wear pink. Suckas."

Yep. That's the angle I'll see most often...

I’ve had the Fennblade UA since it came out forever ago. Some how, those models wandered onto the painting table last week too.

Born on the 4th of July: The drummer made me think of the Revolutionary War. Also: Angry Troll nipple.

Yeah, I need to do the bases...

"They'll never take... our FREEEEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!"

"I don't wanna work, I just wan—" Yeah yeah, we get it. Should get that eye checked out...

Impalers at the ready.

Time to go? Already?

"Say good night, bag whelp."

So there you have it. A photo dump and a quasi step-by-step. I’ve got some big things planned for Jarl and his merry band, but that’s not something I can inflict upon the masses for a few months. The best news about the new color scheme is that I thought I’d have to strip models to get the gray to work, but it turns out it covers the pink pretty well, which means I can get this army turned around pretty fast. If only I could feel as inspired about some of these other projects I’ve got going on.

Gun Bunnies and War Rabbits? Yeah. Those guys.

Le sigh…

A list

Wow, been forever since I’ve posted here. This isn’t much, just a way for me to get this information to the masses. 🙂

I’m finally in position to play fully painted Vyros Tier 4 at Lock and Load Gamefest in June. I’ve got 7 models to finish, maybe 8 depending on the state of the Griffon. I realize there’s a risk in people building lists to face this, but that’s their choice. I’m playing this list, and that’s that. 😉

My little ponies, Angry Elves ponies...

Army Name: Dawnlord 50 L&L
Retribution of Scyrah
Theme Force: Legions of the Dawn Tier 4
50+6 points, 28 models

Dawnlord Vyros  +6 points
* Hydra  9 points
* Manticore  8 points

2x Dawnguard Destor Thane  4 points each
5 Dawnguard Destors  11 points
Dawnguard Scyir  2 points
* Griffon  4 points
6 Dawnguard Sentinels  6 points
* Sentinel Officer & Standard
6 Dawnguard Sentinels  6 points
* Sentinel Officer & Standard  2 points

I’m looking forward to it, win or lose. I’ve got two games lined up so far and I suspect there will be several more that weekend. Then maybe I can put the Elves aside and play something else.

Oh, who am I kidding? 😛

Root of the issue

Sitting at the painting desk doesn’t make it happen. If you’re not in the mood to paint or you lose steam, it’s not going to matter if the motivation isn’t there. This has been an issue for me since November.

There are any number of reasons why a person doesn’t feel like picking up the paint brush. For example, I’ve got a commission I need to deliver in a week that I should be working on, but I’m writing this blog instead.

So what gives?

Simply put, it comes down to time management, something many gamers are notoriously bad about. It doesn’t help if there’s a desk full of models demanding your attention. If you’re a magpie gamer like me, the new shiny catches your eye and demands your attention. In my case, it’s not always pewter-related.


Oh Atari 2600... you were the beginning of the end.

My gamer roots can be traced back to the Apple II and Atari 2600. Even at the tender age of five, I couldn’t get enough. My family owned neither of these devices, so I got my gaming in at friends’ and at my cousins’. Combat, Indiana Jones, Space Invaders, they all called my name — until there was a new game to play.

Damn you, Bub and Bob. Damn you to hell...Fast-forward to the halcyon days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the first console to grace the Ferret family household. My brother and I jockeyed for screen time, and we played the hell out of our handful of games. Bubble Bobble, Jackal, Top Gun, California Games, Contra… those were the days. Our next system was the Sega Genesis, but a year or two into that system’s life and only after we had save up and combined our allowance to make the purchase.

My introduction to miniature gaming came in college with Necromunda nearly 20 years ago. I took great pains to convert and customize my Ratskins, coming up with back stories for every member of my gang. Back then, there wasn’t as great of a concern regarding getting the new shiny. I had my toys and was generally happy with my Ratskins, House Escher, Cawdor and Delaque. Hang on a minute… Uh… I had four gangs. So disregard that part about not needing the new shiny, mkay?

There was a brief interlude with collectable card gaming, but I’m not going to dwell on that. Nor do I want those repressed memories any closer to the surface than they need to be. 😛

Miniature gaming gave way to video games, especially after acquiring a Sega Saturn. This was the cusp of 32-bit gaming. I had no interest in the Sony Playstation because, well, what did Sony know about game consoles (A LOT more than Sega, as time would sadly tell). I painted the occasional mini during my evolution as a full-fledged video gamer, but it was more of a distraction than my passion. I’d paint if I didn’t have anything else to do.

NiGHTS... what a magnificent love affair.

There were a handful of Sega Saturn games that held my attention, but none more than NiGHTS Into Dreams and Panzer Dragoon II. To this day, I can’t think of two days that demanded so much of my attention. Gameplay, music, story, visuals, theses were such a big part of my gamer evolution. It’s where the OCD really manifested itself — especially with NiGHTS and the desire to score “S” rankings on every level I could. To date, it’s the only game where I’ve accomplished that, or have had the desire to do so. I loved NiGHTS so much that when I got my first tattoo, I chose an image of the main character.

In 2005, I was introduced to Warmachine and the Iron Kingdoms. Sure, I knew about 40K and Warhammer Fantasy from my Necromunda days, but this stuff was different. There were stompy steam-powered robots. The big red guys looked kind of Russian, the guys in white were religious, but I didn’t buy that they were the good guys. There were these undead guys, and then the guys in blue. They had knights. Really cool looking knights. And guns and electricity. Alright, I’m in.

Sword Knights, painted on commission c. 2009.

June 2005, I bought a Cygnar battle box. That same day, I struck a deal with a guy at the shop to buy his Cygnar. So in a very short amount of time, I had 500+ points worth of models. It didn’t take long for me to add models into the mix. What does this do? Those look neat. Hey, I like what this model does, I want a second one, or a third one. Then there’s a book release, more new models and the insane desire to own all of it.

Magpie, fly by. Bye-bye, Magpie.

The funny thing about collecting damn near everything for a faction: You run out of stuff to buy. So you start another faction. This is where the magpie REALLY reared it’s head. By this point, I was thoroughly invested in Warmachine. There was no turning back. The weekly games, the bull sessions, the friends I made. Painting wasn’t really playing as big a part at this point because there was so much to learn about the game. I didn’t have a complete grasp on Cygnar, but that didn’t stop me from buying a Protectorate of Menoth army on the cheap.

Since 2005, I’ve acquired Mercs, Trollbloods, Circle (sold), Legion (battle box), Minions, Cryx (battle box), Khador (battle box), Retribution, Minions and Circle (again). I can’t turn my head without seeing something I want to grab for one of my armies. The words “That would be fun to paint” are just a smoke screen to get more models. And given my current situation, acquisition of models isn’t a huge issue. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Time keeps on slippin', slippin'...

So why all of the history regarding video games, and my similarities to that black and white bird up there? Because my life has changed, and painting is no longer my only means of recreation.

There are things like Netflix, the PS3, Nintendo DS, games on my iPod Touch, chatting with friends online and heaven forbid, spending time with Awesome Dude when he’s not working. I’ve started to explore up here a lot more, and if the sun is shining, chances are I’m grabbing my camera and driving somewhere new to see the sights. Thank you Google Navigator (even if you’re Skynet and will kill us all). Painting was something I did because I didn’t have anything else to do, or didn’t want to find anything else to do. Yeah, it’s cheaper than going out, but some time you just need to go out.

I’m still passionate about it, and the hobby side of gaming is what I’ve really enjoyed for the past 3+ years. I’ve recently discovered how much fun it is to play with a fully painted army and that’s how I want it to be when my models hit the table. The cool thing is, I’ve got at least 100 points of painted Cygnar, Protectorate and Retribution that I can throw down with.

All of them. Must. Have. All. Of. Them.

Moderation is key, however. During November 2010, I painted up 100 points of Cygnar for a staff challenge that damn near killed my will to live. I got it done, but it cost me my desire to paint and a small part of my sanity. I barely got models done for Templecon and didn’t touch a paint brush for the rest of February and didn’t pick up a brush in March until a few days ago. It doesn’t help that I’ve got Mass Effect 2, Pokémon White or any number of iPod Touch games to distract me.

I’m slowly getting my motivation back, and right now, it’s more important for me to paint every day than to have the marathon painting sessions that had become the routine. I do have a delivery to make, and it won’t take too long to get those models completed. Then I can knock out the other commissions that have been dogging me forever. And paint my stuff. And figure out which faction I want to focus on for the rest of the year.

But that’s an entirely different blog post.

Eye candy

It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything anywhere. Here are some pics of models I’ve painted in the past year.

Siege Brisbane & his pet 'jack, Triumph. Painted as part of the Privateer Press Insider's Impossible Dream painting challenge.

Grenadier and some buddies.

Journeyman warcaster

Here they are again.

Woldguardian, painted up for Project Orange Crush (hunger awareness)

Stonkeeper UA says hi.

I like the idea of the entire stone being glowy.

Better detail shot of Captain Stompypants.