Wednesday 15 April 2020

Cleaning the Man Cave: The Lead Mountain

Well, due to COVID quarantine, I've been doing a lot of cleaning and tidying. My man cave got its 1500+ books tidied and I then embarked on a reordering of my gaming collection.

What I DO paint
I noticed a few things about my painting habits, on the proportion of painted/unpainted minis.
#1. Small miniatures get done. This is true in both meanings.  Small minis (1:300) are always painted.  I have very few unpainted models in micro scales.

#2. Small projects get done. I.e. any batch of 30 models or less tends to be swiftly painted. I.e. my Warmachine bands were bough in batches of 3-4 boxes and tended to be painted within a week of purchase.

#3. Easy or fun projects get done.  "Easy" means I can quickly motor through them - i.e. a tank with a base and a drybrush, or zombies with dodgy paintjobs that can be covered by blood spatters and wash.  "Fun" generally means bright colour schemes or creativity. I rather energetically kitbash broken models.

Note to self: buy minis in small batches, and stick to smaller scales or chunky/colourful 28mm sculpts

I loved 15mm sci fi so much, I bought more minis than I could force myself to paint...

What I DON'T paint - unfinished projects.
So time to take stock of minis which are unpainted - in fact, these could be labelled "unstarted" projects - often just based and put together, with an undercoat if I'm lucky. They are far from ready for the tabletop. Some are still on their sprues. These are projects which I have barely started, and neither do I have plans to start them in 2020. Nonetheless, I am hesitant to sell them, as (a) with kids I don't have much disposable income for new minis (b) I'll get to them someday and buying the same minis now would be even more expensive (c) I'm not au fait with online selling.

Robotech. I gave this up after I realised I had to assemble and paint 3 minis to get 1 gaming piece (i.e. you need to build and paint a Veritech in all 3 transmormed modes). Cool models, just not willing to do triple the work. Also, the models assemble like a 1:48  only downsized to in 1:300! Fiddly as heck.

28mm Perry Samurai. Great models, but I gave this up after I realised (a) painting tiny squares of armour was going to be a b*ch of a job, and (b) the repurposed wooden-puzzle scenery I was making for it accidentally broke and I didn't have the enthusiasm to fix it.

28mm Warlord Greek. I had given up after (a) I realised how much ***ing white and bare flesh I'd have to paint (also accidentally basecoated them black) and (b) they are very samey (i.e. Spartans, Athenians - same thing = boring) and sandals and skirts just aren't cool. 

28mm Warlords Vikings. I have a cool 1:48 longship as well. I think I bought these in a burst of enthusiasm after re-reading some Bernard Cornwall/Robert Low books. I even had a LOTR:SBG rules mod to play them.  Just kinda boring to paint, compared to my Confrontation fantasy models. Every time I get out my vikings I ended up painting fantasy minis instead.    

28mm Warlord 70 Years War/ECW.  Basically (a) I got a huge battalion box and the mammoth scale of the task made me give up. Also (b) I originally wanted them for Helldorado + conquistadors pulp world but they were a bit too modern/weren't armoured enough/didn't have crossbows etc.Probably should sell as I don't ever see a future where I am inspired to paint 150-200 ECW musketeers.

Robotech are a pain in the butt to assemble - then I realised I had to paint and assemble three models for every one unit I wanted to use on the tabletop...

15mm Sci fi (Khurasan/GZG/Rebel/Critical Mass). The models themselves are great. I just got carried away - I had successfully painted six(!) 15mm sci fi armies in a row, as they were so easy and fun to paint and they got regular use. So I ordered a bunch more. Then, by the time they arrived, I realized I was bored with 15mm sci fi (both the scale, the Vietnam-in-space rules which everyone uses and indeed the genre itself.) Someday....  ..they are pretty satisfying to paint.

15mm Moderns - (Peter Pig?) Similar to above. I realized I was tired of modern war fire+suppress rules, with models even more bland than sci fi. Also, the war in Iraq/Afghanistan did not end as quickly as I thought - I was jaded from seeing it on the news and so had little enthusiasm to game it.

28mm Infinity the Game. These must be worth a fortune, as I have 20 or so models from every faction. I quit after Human Sphere added 101 (literally) new special rules. I don't want to memorize 5 different stealth rules. It went from a deeply tactical game to "whoever memorizes the most rules for 'gotcha' moments."  Also, I feel so inadequate - painting their tiny details is an exercise in frustration. They are so detailed and fiddly, they drove me to paint 5 Warmachine armies instead. And I don't even play Warmachine!

15mm Blue Moon Mummy/Arab/Ottomans. I had an idea for a 1920s pulp game where factions include an Egyptian Mummy cult, Arab rebels, the French Foreign Legion and the Ottomans. It was to be more platoon-scale. Kinda a fun idea. But my sand table has been shelved due to kids spreading sand beyond its environs, and this project just never seems to make it up my priority list....

1:600 WW1/1930s Tumbling Dice aircraft. Just too damn tiny to be cool. Unlike the 1:600 jets which are big enough to be detailed, they just seem like little shapeless blobs to my middle-aged eyesight.

 Vikings are a project I keep starting, then I get distracted by cooler fantasy models. The era seems perfect for skirmish gaming, but there's only so much excitement choosing between paitning "peasant dude with a shield and spear" or "chainmail dude with shield and spear"

1:300 WW2 aircraft (Raiden?). Nice models. I need to buy more, to replace the above 1:600s, but I don't paint them as I don't have enough to make a game (they are random, from Wyverns to Focke Wulfes), but every time I go to get more, I end up buying more of the much, much cheaper Tumbling Dice 1:600 jets instead. Lack of good WW2 aerial rules kills my enthusiasm.

28mm Quar (Zombiesmith). These are awesome, characterful models, and the rulebooks they come with are works of art. They get taken out to be painted periodically, but somehow I never get around to them. Just so... niche. I always feel like there's something else more worthy of my limited painting time.

15mm WW2 tanks (Zvezda, Bolt Action). Perhaps they don't belong here, as these I've actually used a lot - but I just undercoated them and played with them.  I'll get around to them sometime, I'm just bored with WW2 and whilst 15mm looks better, I have a sneaking feeling 1:300 is a better scale for tank combat as 15mm felt like World of Tanks arcade videogame on the tabletop. Also, there's only so much field grey or olive green I'm willing to paint. Basically it's a project I developed rules for, but it has been shelved as I pursue my 1930s Landships universe.

Well, that's my "cupboard of shame" - models which I haven't painted and have no real plans to even start to paint in the near future.

Perhaps I'll do a post on "mostly complete" projects - the ones that will actually be the aim in 2020....


  1. I'll give you my adress and sacrifice myself by taking all the 15mm stuff you DESPERATELY want to get rid off... Let me shoulder your burden! ;)

    1. You're not the first to make the offer! But that is a scale I may return to - I'm fiddling with a near future homebrew space skirmish which isn't Vietnam in space but focusses on drones, hacking, nanomachines and psychic powers.

    2. Hi evilleMonkeigh, I read your man cave Covid clear out post with some interest because I'm just working through the same process (and I'm sure we're not the only ones) and then followed the link to this post, which is even more interesting. We have so much in common about what we like and dislike about rules and almost nothing in common about what we like and dislike about game genre. But I digress. My reason for replying to your comment was that I entirely agree with you about the unimaginative way that future combat is depicted in sci-fi games and to say that the only really innovative but practical approach to it that I can think of is SPI's game from the '70s, 'StarSoldier'. I don't know if you remember it but it's worth a read up on BoardgameGeek []. It had just enough tactical and resource management innovations to break it out of the standard 'US Marines in fancy battle armour' fare. I thought you might be interested. You wouldn't have to do much work to convert it to a miniatures game, except that I think it was simultaneous plotted movement so that would have to go. All the best, Chris


      I ranted about it more at length at the time :-)

      I'm currently working on a homebrew 15mm set where demons possess sci fi soldiers granting them buffs and inhumans powers. Basically the rapture occured, earth was destroyed but... Revelation never mentioned the moon colonies...

      It's typical hard sci fi, but you have a pool of "essence" points you can assign and the ability to possess your own and enemy troops adds a different layer to it...

  2. *Shameless Plug*
    You should totally get Men of Bronze from Osprey to motivate you to finish those Warlord Greeks!
    *End Shameless Plug*

    1. I hear the author is a talented game designer?