Saturday, December 9, 2017

Clean up the beach - make cool terrain!!

Hi everyone,

Here's our *Process Flow* of steps for taking Ocean Plastic from the beach to create Tabletop Gaming terrain!

Here's an interesting (and fun?) or at the very least positive idea for those of us who like the beach and like table top games!!

The beach on the Eastern Shore or Oahu.  Lots of plastic washed up onto the beach after days, weeks, months or years in the Pacific Ocean.

1) Go to the beach (when you can - or ask a friend who is going)
2) Collect beach plastic (which doesn't belong there anyway)
3) Make terrain and bases out of the weathered plastic pieces

Over the recent holiday we had the chance to visit Hawaiian island Oahu.  It was lots of fun.  But, sadly there was a lot more trash-plastic on the beach than when one of us was a bit younger and we visited the same location.  Realization for us that the concerns about ocean plastic are very real.

Here's a pile of several of the pieces of plastic we hauled to the trash can.  Some had been in the water a long time - others much less time.

What to do?  Well, we thought we'd do our share and put plastic in the trash can.  We may have filled a trash can up over our several days there.  And, the good news is that the stretch of beach we worked on did seem to stay a bit cleaner -- meaning the more plastic didn't wash up again over night.  So, it does seem possible to attack the problem.

Here are several of the plastic pieces we saved and brought home.  The water created fascinating textures.  This is what got us thinking about using them for modeling.

And, while we were at it, interesting discovery.  Time in salt water does amazing things to plastic!!  Need plastic which looks like cobblestones or ancient concrete?  You're all set -- just get some beach plastic.

Not sure, but we think this was a piece of a shoe....

We ended up using some to make Sci-fi looking bases for some of our Starfinder Minis.  And, thinking of lots of uses for Ork structures and terrain for 40K.

This piece is more weird - very orange inside.  We wondered if it might have been part of a ball because of its curvature??  We liked how it looked a lot like cracked stone.

We also shared some with our good friend Mr. S at Game Kastle -- knowing that he is a big fan of finding materials which naturally create the textures of real-life for his super detailed models :)

Here are some pieces which must have spent some time at depth.  Think the blue piece was the bottom of a bottle.

We even found a six sided die on the beach.  No idea how long this guy was in the water.  The little dots are pretty worn down.  But, after some scrubbing we could sort of see which side was 6 and which side was 4....

What was that role?  I think we got a 6!!

Caution:  some of the plastic you find is really brittle.  While this might not be great for modeling with, we figure this is some of the most important to pick up and put into the trash so that it doesn't break up into little micro plastic pieces which (as we understand) can really mess up fish and birds.

We've cut a piece of the Ocean Plastic *Shoe* out for mounting on a base.

We put the mini band-saw to work and cut some pieces to mount on square miniature bases.

Here's the miniature we mounted on our shoe plastic :)

We mounted our Starfinder Android mini on the piece of shoe plastic.  The granularity of the pattern on the Ocean Plastic seems perfect to us for the scale of the miniature.  Make it look like the android is standing on a very old concrete surface. 

Here is our Starfinder mystic miniature mounted on the reclaimed Ocean Plastic

And, we mouted our Starfinder mystic on the ball plastic.  Makes it look very much like a rocky alien surface.

All in all -- lots of fun.  Beach gets cleaner, we get weird plastic pieces for models :)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Starship models for Starfinder RPG

Hi everyone,

We've really been enjoying our Starfinder Campaign - been playing pretty much every Sunday now for about eight weeks.

One struggle, though has been finding models for things -- especially Starships.  We're really hoping that there are some nice models released by Paizo or other companies.  But, since there aren't any released yet, have been working on finding solutions.

Recently there was a great post on the Starfinder RPG Facebook group -- a brilliant suggestion to take a look on Amazon for:

US Toy Mini Space Ship Cruisers Vehicle (Lot of 72), Assorted Color

...for under $10!!

 Here is our little bag of "Space Cruisers" from Amazon

Well, after a week or so, ours arrived :)

Here are the little *rubbery* models fresh out of the bag.  Some Amazon reviews mentioned a strong plastic smell.  We didn't notice that.

And, sure enough what a lot of nice little spaceship models!!!

What you get....
  • Some 70+ little models which are just the right size for use on the Starfinder hex flip map
  • They come in three colors - not great - but not horrid
  • There are about 20 or so different ship models - which is a pretty great variety!
  • They are "rubbery".  Not sure if they were meant as erasers - but they certainly do bend easily
 We sorted ours out by type.  Seems like 20 different types of space ships.

We were able to paint them....  First tried our super-shiny gold paint (thought it would be cool to have a gold colored spaceship).  No-go.  That rubbed off the surface of the little rubbery models.  Then tried our "Army Painter" primer (tried grey first).  No issues - these colors worked fine.  We painted some white, some grey and some brown.

Army Painter primer worked well (cans on the left).  Our other fun paint (which is very shiny gold) didn't work - smeared off.  You can see our white, grey and brown models along with the original blue, silver and bronze rubber.

This looked good going on -- by smeared right off.  Painting with Army Painter primer first did the trick tough.

After we added some details and weathering, they looked pretty nice.  By the way - when it comes to weathering, we found the bottle below "Weathering Mix" for $8 online (we searched Model Railroading Websites).  Much lower cost than little tiny bottles for the same price you can find from miniature painting companies....

 Our $8 bottle of "Weathering Mix"

Working on adding some details to our models....

Before and after adding details to the models....

Checking our models for scale on the Starfinder Flip-Mat.  Pretty good fit :)

And, so, pretty happy, overall.  Not sure whether we'll create bases for them - or just use them flat on the mat.  Since they are a little bit rubber, it's actually not bad to have them right on the mat where they don't slip around....

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Creating Starfinder RPG maps from actual maps

Hi everyone,

Have had a bunch of things going on lately - and time to share updates on those!

One item - we've been enjoying playing Starfinder!

We have more to say about how and why we've been enjoying the game - but a quick write-up on one things we've been up to....  And, that's creating *maps* for our Starfinder sessions.

A challenge (early on) with Starfinder is that there aren't very many modules released yet.  And, even if there is an old adventure module to use (from D&D or Pathfinder or something like that) - the maps might not be quite what we need.

So....  We've been taking actual maps - from Google Maps - and then converting them for game use.

It works out pretty well!

(As a quick Spoiler Alert - we've been playing a Pathfinder - Starfinder hybrid.  A top secret wormhole has connected the Starfinder space station home base for the party with a fantasy (pre-gun-powder) world setting.  So, we're eager to make maps which match.  That being said, the same tricks here would work to make higher tech looking maps for a 100% Starfinder campaign.)

1) We picked an area with interesting geography (we actually picked the LA basin -- and in this example, showing what things looked like when we used an area around Pasadena).

 Here's our map with all of the roads and signs turned on.

2) Then, we went into Google Maps and with the options, turned off roads and signs.

Here's how the map looks when we turned those off.  (Or course you can still see in the satellite image where the major roads are -- but this is cool because we can use these for our RPG road locations).

3) Then, we grabbed a screen-shot of the Google maps.

4) With that finished, it was tablet time.  We used our iPad to and Pencil to draw over the top of the map - tracing the features we thought were useful.  We used the app "Procreate".  Here's how things ended up.

Here's how our drawing turned out.  We had looked a bit at JRR Tolkien's maps and noticed that he drew little mountains and shaded them.  So, we tried to do the same thing....

Some thoughts for improving....

- We could certainly have a layer of hex's or grids in the iPad app and have those as part of the map
- We could also use icons instead of our hand-drawn things if a more crisp image was important

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Spork and Fork's 40K Ork Tie Fighter - Progress Report

We're thinking it's a pretty common question -- "What happened to Darth Vader after Episode 4?"  And, from what we read, the answer is that he managed to fly to a nearby space station.
Darth Vader's TIE fighter spins out of control after crash with his wing-man....

The next question isn't answered very well -- "What happened to Darth Vader's TIE Advanced after the space station team jettisoned it as trash??"

Here's what really happened :)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Spork and Fork's trusty Ork Hulk the Da Runcible of Ruin burst from the warp.

The Warbosses found themselves in the midst of a huge pile of debris....  

[Why?  It must be that the intensely Waaaagh-warfare filled warp energy had drawn them across space and time to a location near Yavin.] 

Fork:  "Doze squishy 'umies been fightin' 'ere!!"
Spork:  "Yeah!  And, look ats all of duh great dakka we cud loot from dem!!!   Waaaaagh!!!"

And, so, we have started to build a model of the Ork-looted TIE Advanced :)

Key points of the project:
  • Project costs have been low.  We got the TIE Advanced for $3 at a thrift shop

Here is our humble TIE Advanced as purchased from the thrift store.  No cockpit hatch; no Darth Vader miniature....
  • Decision have been challenging.  There are so many options of what to add (or subtract) from a TIE fighter.
We decided to add Ork flyer wings to the TIE fighter.  This gave us a place to mount more dakka -- with swing-mounted guns (looted from Imperial forces).
  • Wires and hoses.  We are certainly going to use Mr. S's advice from Game Kastle -- and use real things to represent real things.  Going to have hoses and wires all over when we are finished.
  • What to call it?  We still have no idea.
  • Adding metal.  Why?  So that Orks and Grots with magnet boots can stand all over the place on it.
The Orks use a lot of metal -- not that funny carbon fiber stuff -- to patch up the TIE fighter.  This also gives spots for the Ork Nobs with magnet boots to stand :)
  • It needs real engines.  Orks have no idea what makes a TIE fighter move.  They need things which are more burny and shooty.
Fork and Spork's Ork Mek got the power plant hatch open on the TIE Advanced -- and decided to keep it propped open so that they could tap in to this to power the systems they were adding to the fighter....

 The Mek added thrusters from a Space Marine speeder to the back of the TIE.  An exhaust pipe was also added -- 'cause there will be a lot more smoke coming from the TIE fighter now

The Orks added more good stuff to the bottom - this is one of the places where we'll add hoses and wires :)
  • Other Star Wars models to loot?  Who knows what else is in that field of debris ??  And, well, we already have an X-wing and a Snow-speeder on the Ork-Mek-Chopping-Block!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Repainting old 40K terrain

Hi everyone,

A while back we came to realize that there had been some Games Workshop / Forgeworld terrain pieces -- such as the ones with the crashed Imperial flyer (the Aquila Lander which has crashed on Macragge).

After a bit of a search, we found some affordable ones on eBay - and have had fun with them several times.

Here is our Aquila Lander Crash site terrain as purchased on eBay.  We realized that as our painting skills had progressed, we could improve on the original artists paint-job.

Then, more recently, we got to talking about dry-brushing.  And, a more crude version we've used quite a bit -- painting with a hunk of foam :)

And...  several times recently we've worked on repainting our Battletech minis.  This is mainly because our painting skills are getting better -- and we realize that we can now do fun things like make cockpit windows look more high tech than we might have in the past (etc....)  When we've done that, we've worked on stripping paint off (Wow! we used to use think globs of paint) -- and then repainted.

However, since this lander was supposed to be a dirty wreck, we tried out the following -- new primer, then attack with drush sponging.

 Here are the models after we primed them....

And, our friends at the Warhammer store in Reno taught us about painting the blue and green tinted GW paint over silver to make cool high-tech glass effects -- so we took a shot at those as well.  [In this case we used a scramble of blue and green tint over silver.]

And, here's our repaint effort so far.

Our take-away from the project -- never give up on old models!!!  (If nobody else will use them, Orks can always loot them!)

Visiting Orc Town in Seoul (Travel Log from our Ork and Space Marine)

Hi everyone,

Found ourselves with little extra time in Seoul, South Korea this week - and wondered if there might be a local game store which carried Warhammer 40K.  (Always nice when traveling to have a chance to talk to people in other parts of the world who share a love for table top battle games!)

After some Googling we discovered Orc Town - in Seoul. 

Pink Ork and Space Marine Travel Log
Our Pink Ork and Space Marine at Orc Town in Seoul

Here's a link to the web-site
오크타운 온라인 스토어

Or, in case you're still learning how to read the Korean alphabet like we are:

The question was, how to get there....

Step 1 -- translating the Korean on the web-page.  That sorted out using Google translate.  Here's what we learned :)

Step 2 -- finding our way there.  We ended up using Google Maps for that.  It was a bit tricky.  Google couldn't understand us typing the address in English.   

Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Nonhyeon-ro 26 Road 46-8 B1F (Dogok-dong, Samho Building) ORCTOWN

But, of course, it did know where "Orc Town, Seoul" was located!!!

We sorted out how to get there by sub-way.  Turned out to be pretty easy coming from City Hall.  One stop on the Green subway - transfer to the Orange Train, and hop off at the Maebong Station.

Here's a cut-out from our Google Map set of directions

From there, it was a short walk.  And, sure enough, there it was on the street in one level down (that's what the B1 means).

And, here's a zoomed-in version of our directions to Orc Town.  These are helpful if you need directions in English :)

After following the directions, we spotted the "Orc Town" sign on the right hand side :)

Popping inside, we had a quick chat with the Orc Town team.  Overall, very nice store!!  Here are a few of our highlights:
  • Very fun terrain in the store - including one really long table.  (Have only seen a cool long table like this at Warhammer World.)
  • A really complete set of Warhammer (of pretty much all types)
  • And, extremely reasonable prices - in fact, it sure seemed to us that some of the prices were lower than what we could find in California
We chatted a little bit about other games - such as FFG's X-wing.  And, we learned that in South Korea it is not easy to import pre-painted models.  Turns out they are viewed as toy products - and require careful analysis of paint materials to make sure nothing is toxic.  40K models, on the other hand, are consider grown-up hobby materials - and since they are unpainted, much more straight-forward to import.

Our Ork and Space Marine were really happy to be able to spend some time at Orc Town - and thoroughly enjoyed the gaming tables and terrain!

Fun taking photos with our Ork and Space Marine on the (very nicely painted) Orc Town gaming table :)

Cool to see a Plasma Obliterator on the table....