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Archive of the Idea of the Week: Figures

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* Giraffe Men

* Rhino Men

* Ftagn Larvae

* Recapitations

* Pumpkin Men

* Legions of the Priests

* Cyclopses

* Character Builder Daleks

* Undersea Conversions

* Anime Bikini Girls with Guns

Under the Sea

So, what's good for underwater adventure and warfare? Well, there are a few existing things and a couple simple, fun, and really good looking ways you can create an underwater environment for your mayhem. The following set of pics show some just-buy-it, repaints, mild conversions, and full up builds that allow you to populate the undersea environment. What to do when you get there? Well, after the last picture is a set of simple suggestions that can make gaming underwater easy and actually fun ... but first, the eye candy!

Starting simple, here are some Mage Knight and HorrorClix figures ready to play denziens of the deep right out of the box. Right out of 70's D&D. Right out of 30's Lovecraft. Still, well executed and lots of fun.

Also, not much to say here. There are lots of dollar store toys out there ready to be mounted up. Some requre painting. Some, like this figure, are ready to play.

Dreamblade minis (remeber Dreamblade?) this time. Just a small paint job to make them look more like live fishmonsters. Also, that's not redeye photography. Since fish (especially deep water fish) look OK without irises and pupils, different eye color on bunches of identical models is an easy way to tell the "leader" fish from the regular old fishsticks.

Straight out of the sewer. OK, these are not the best conversions, but they're not bad for being done by an 8 year old several years ago. The point being turtle conversions (ninja or not) can be done with nearly any figure and a puff of putty.

P.S. (No, I'm not done yet, but I forgot about these guys when taking pictures for this article. Due to the magic of editing, they can appear in sequence where they belong. Due to the magic of me being lazy, they can appear with an old picture instead of one with a background that matches the others.) Forcs! That is frog-orcs. Tim Barry orc bodies with dollar store frog heads put on them. The simple flip-side of the TMNT converion.

Sharks with lasers! These guys were simple assembly conversions. All I had to do was decapitate a few Safari brand mini sharks and pop the heads on some Khorne torso, Tau leg bits, and Tim Barry shocktroop arms from Hoard o' Bits . Just grab, glue and paint.

Of course, the problem now is I have a bunch of shark bodies lying around after making sharks with lasers. So I made some more ... sharks with lasers. These are miscelaneous weapon bits I had lying around, attached to the headless sharks. And also...

... eels and "seahorses" made with spare lizard heads and left over horse heads.

I don't know what is more amazing ... how good these look or how little effort they took. A two or three dollar bag of seashells from your friendly neighborhood craft shop provides a ton of options for creepies and crawlies. I just filled the gap with some kneadatite (green stuff) and shoved in miscelaneous limbs and other parts.

Since the big ones looked (enough) like Garathim from Labyrinth, I left them all black. The other shells had such nice texture, I felt the need to drybrush some dark grey one them for highlights. Of course, you can also skip the painting ...

... and make armoured jellyfish warriors! These are just three shells glued together with a dab of air-dry clay (Crayola Model Magic) to hold the tentacles (and floral wire) in place. I went with three large tentacles and five pieces of floral wire to keep these guys away from bilateral symmetry. I think that makes them more creepy. But not more creepy than ...

... a siren of the deep. This is the most complex conversion, requiring pairs of shells to be glued together in various states of being open and some marginal molding of the clay (as opposed to just shoving it in the crack of a shell). Again, floral wire comes to the rescue for tentalces. The siren figure is a Tim Barry sculpt of Boudica from a chariot set, but pretty much any female figure would do. Tentacle optional.

Again, simple yet nice effect. The hardest part of these guys is you need to lean the shell up against something while the clay dries. I had a half a dozen failures before I figured that out. Must have run me almost 10 cents worth of materials...

OK. I don't know what I was thinking. But the spare GW carnifex head looks really menacing on the snail. Also, the mechanized snail of doom ... Well, I said I don't know what I was thinking, right?

These guys, however got good old Fimo clay. You can cook the shells with the clay inside, no problem. I also cooked the spare arms (everyone has spare mini arms, right?) right on the piece. When I used the 265F/10min directions, no melting. When I used 275F/15min, melting. Results are representative. Mileage may vary.

And sci-fi snails, too. Gotta have a sci-fi snail army.

This is just a size comparison with a couple of representative GW figures that I thought would provide a bit of perspective. I recommend taking a Joe Nobody mini with you to the craft store and lining it up with the different bags of shells available until you find the match you want. I do this a lot with a lot of different things I am looking for at the craft store. People stare. I don't care.

I think part of the problem with underwater RPGing and wargaming is the inordinate complexity of the rule systems. With a little bit of brain grease and a lot of trial and error, the following simple ideas are offered to make underwater gaming fun and easy enough to actually play without learning a new game.

To start with, lets just use regular figure stats from your game, and count them as aquatic natives. You don't need any special rules for them. (We will give our invading non aquatic natives (NANs) penalties for being out of their environment, which gives the aquatic natives, operating without penalties a decided advantage.) F'r'ex, if you need a school of sharks, how about use a pride of lions instead? The regular guys who are encountering them will have to deal with the following issues ...

Tiny Outfits, Large Guns

So ... ya wanna be an arms dealer? Or manufacturer. Or you just want a bucket of scifi weapons to arm up some unseemly horde or ne'er do wells. Well, this is the spot for you! We're beginning with some simple pieces and doing a simple conversion. These won't win any sculpting awards, but they'll do, especially if you have some figs that are just for fun or you want some one-offs and don't want to invest a ton of money or time in arming them up. These conversions also work well for B-movie scifi, which is exactly who these ones are being made for.

So, the first thing you see is we have some coffee stir things. I am using the "double straw" kind. There are a couple of standard size for coffee stir things which can be the base of a couple of different levels of ridiculity in the size of your weapons. These are pretty much the top of the food chain, so they will be nicely oversized.

You'll note that we used a regular size 28mm weapon as a gauge for the length of the weapon overall, not just the barrel. In this picture you can see why we have both nippers and regular pliers. Once the weapon is cut, I mooshed the end to make a stock, again using the nicely done (Tim Barry sculpted) weapon for reference. Now it comes down to rinse and repeat as many times as you need to outfit your force.

Two additional things. First, there are three doubled double barrel weapons (made with an extra piece of barrel on top of the first. These will be the fire team leader weapons, which both gives some variation and gives us an easy way to tell the fireteam leaders apart from the rank and file soldiers.

The second thing is our old fried, puff paint. I added some dots of puff paint near the stock of the weapon to give the weapon some additional detail and a little character. You can go as far as you want with decorating them up. Sword hilts make nice add ons. Using two different size stir things can help. And I fixed bayonettes on four of them, so one fire team (including its leader) has laser cannons with bayonettes. Why not?

So this is how they look painted up. The weapons got a coat of gunmetal (silver paint mixed with light grey paint), a dark grey wash, then some pure silver highlights. The final touch was to hit the puff paint nubs with some color, so they might look like indicator lights or somesuch.

The figures themselves are pretty simple. I used two figures from HeroClix, BoomBomm and Sydney Savage. Both of these are fairly "open" figures, by which I mean the arms aren't up against the body in the green, blue, or purple areas and the hair doesn't cascade over the shoulders in the red area. That makes a little cutting and regluing yield a decent degree of variation in the figures, even with only two base figures to start. Color helps a lot, too. Five skin tones and six hair colors make a big difference to your eye. Color also helps unite; the retro silver barelythereotards give a unity to the figures even though the base figures had significantly different proportions.

So, I wouldn't recommend this gun method for each and every figure, but it does work well with these and should for similarly campy or anime styled figures.

Here's another set of women with guns, in tamer style and raiment. Since there's been some discussion on inexpensive figs and conversions and such, and I was already doing these this week, I figured I would offer them up. These have nicer guns, and a broader range of base figures (though all HeroClix), but still make a good unit. Again, the standardization of the outfit (are jeans an black t-shirts a uniform?) gives some consistency to the set. While HeroClix are notoriously out of scale with each other in nearly every way possible, so are people, really. I think the HeroClix scale problem is more of a problem when I care about why Lex Luthor is taller and broader than Clark Kent and less of a problem when I see that the bald guy in the suit is bigger than the other guy in a suit wearing a fedora and glasses.

Here is another set I did this week. Similar idea ... cut and prune a little from a wide base of HeroClix figures. Get a lot of consistency back in the set from the grey coverall uniform. I like the variation I can get this way. I always wondered if even Napoleonic forces could really have the consistency multiple versions of one or two poses gives anywhere except the parade field. And I don't think that these make such a bad set. Possibly better than some sets that are more detailed (more closed, and more difficult to cut and reglue without significant rework) but have a limited number of poses. At least, they could have the potential to, if someone with a little more professional painting skills took a whack at them.

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