Friday, 31 January 2014

Glue: Sprue Cutters Union #26

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome once more to the workshop. 

This week the members of the Sprue Cutters Union (#spruecutters) have been asked a rather sticky question, one which I am sure we each have our horror stories about...

- What glue(s) do you use, and how do you apply them? -

Well, this is a very simple one for me, because I only use one kind of glue...Loctite Super Glue with brush applicator.

This reasoning behind this has come about over an extended period, bearing in mind that it will be twenty one years with the coming of February's issue of White Dwarf since I began in the hobby of miniature wargaming, not counting a couple of years or so with HeroQuest and Space Crusade before that, so I have been through some glue in my time.

I use superglue because it sticks fast, which is great when you have an entire army to build, and when I started out in the hobby, most of my minis are wholly or partially metal, so Super Glue is the obvious choice for that reason as well. Its 'rapid reaction' also makes it good for impromptue field repairs for that inevitable damage in transit on the way to a games night.

The reason I use super glue instead of poly cement for my plastics is two-fold: superglue sticks faster, and you can take models apart again later to help with painting. You can also take apart models that are glued with cement, but that requires the use of a chain axe...

You might think that this was enough to answer the question, and I guess it is, but the inner workings of my cogitator is never as simple as that, no sir it isn't.

I guess I could say a few words about using the particular glue I use. Quite simply, the reasons are as follows:

  • You get what you pay for in my experience. For something that you might only buy once or twice each year, why skimp, when a decent brand of glue might save a year of headaches?
  • I find the brush applicator to give the best control over where the sometimes tiny quantities of glue end up. I have heard good things about nozzle applied gel super glue, also by Loctite, but I can say for certain that the humble foil tube gives about as much control as a scale modeller at a 99% discount kit sale the day after pay day.
  • When using a bottle of liquid super glue, whether a brush applicator or not, always store it upright. Never let it lie on it's side, even for a couple of hours. I learned to my cost a couple of times how quickly bottles will glue their lids on tighter than a Dwarf misers purse strings. Don't do it. It's not that you then have to pay out to replace what could well be half a bottle of glue, it's the inconvenience of coming to use the glue, and finding you can't because the son of a nutcracker won't open without a hacksaw.
  • Last tip. Superglue has a shelf life, so when you start to find that the glue is getting lazy, starting to congeal and plainly just isn't doing it's job as well as it did when it was new, just resign it to the Great Hobby Heaven in the sky and buy a new one. As I already said, it isn't worth quibbling over a few quid when you only by two or three bottles each year, and you can lose hours removing, cleaning and re-gluing the same piece over and over because the glue has decided to play silly beggars. Just buy a new one.

So, there are my thoughts on which glue and how it is applied, and a few pointers I have picked up while using it. Let me know if you get stuck with any of them...

If you would like to read more posts on this same topic by a variety of miniature modellers, I invite you to have a look through the links below to the blogs of other Union Members, and to the main Topic Hub over at the Combat Workshop, where more members will post their links.

I also invite you to check out this link, which explains how you too could become a Sprue Cutters Union member. All you need is a blog of your own, whether you are a seasoned blogger or would like to start one for the for the first time, and more importantly you need a passion for miniature modelling of one kind or another. We are indeed a varied bunch...

Thanks for reading.

P.S. Here are a couple of photos of my completed Chaos Warriors, The time, something quite different.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Time Management: Sprue Cutters Union #25

Greetings fellow Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to the couch...

This week, following a topic suggestion from Fill 'n Sand, the Sprue Cutters Union has been asked to tell the world how we find time for the hobby in a busy world where many of us have other important commitments, like work and family. This will be something of a refreshed view of of a post I wrote in the very early days of this blog called Gaming Around Life, right back at the furry end of 2011. Let's see if anything has changed, as we consider...

- How do you find time for the hobby? -

These days I think most of us can agree that life is often a question of priorities, and how we shoehorn turn things we really want to do around all the things we are compelled to do by our wider commitments. It's nice (and rather important) to find a little time to ourselves her and there, which can sometimes be difficult, and if you at anything like me as a hobbyist, then most free time you get is likely to be spent doing something related to miniature modelling and/or gaming.

I think it's a good thing that my enjoyment of the hobby takes a variety of forms, whether it's modelling, painting, gaming, army list creation, reading or catching up with the community by listening to podcasts or dropping in to a forum, so however little time I have, as long as I can muster the enthusiasm at the right time, then I can do something.

For example, I tend to do most of my listening to podcasts while driving and while painting. I can't do anything else while driving apart from listen, and I find that listening to podcasts while painting helps to reduce the level of focus I need to keep painting by blotting out any outside distractions. I tend to find that listening to podcasts also helps the time sale by when doing household chores or DIY jobs. I even sit with my headphones on while waiting for our little boy to nod off when putting him to bed, because I can be quiet without going stir crazy for the fifteen or twenty minutes it takes him to doze off after we're done reading bedtime stories.

Actual painting and assembly of models tends to take place during my lunch breaks at work. Quite simply, this gives me an hour every day with a table and well lit canteen to sit and paint or put models together while I listen to podcasts, between bites of sandwiches or re-heated curry from the night before. Because demands on my time at home make modelling and painting impractical (without even considering the destructive capabilities of twomcats and an enthusiastic toddler - all in good time boy, all in good time), I have found this to the best and most productive use of my lunch hour, and it also means I can sit at home and spend time with my family without getting withdrawal symptoms.

Fortunately for me, my wife is a big reader these days, which works great for me because after our son is in bed, my wife can read her book of the week while I read the latest army rule book, White Dwarf Magazine (yes I still have a subscription), or consider my army list for an upcoming game...which at moment means considering how to tweak my Dark Eldar list to allow me a better chance against a fairly static Tau gunline.

Gaming. Now this is a very important part of my hobby, because quite simply, as a wargamer first and a modeller and painter second, if I'm not painting models so that I can use them to fight cool looking and exciting battles against a challenging opponent, what's it all for? I currently attend MAD Wargamers, a club about twenty minutes drive from home, where I have been playing fortnightly for nearly a year and a half. The club meets weekly, but my other commitments don't really allow me to attend as frequently as that unless we have a special event on or something like that. At the moment, with work being busy as well, that works fine for me. The club has come to a critical juncture at the present moment, where we would like to expand into larger premises, but have to time it right so that we have a strong enough member base to support the move...exciting times.

Who knows, with my wife having agreed to give Blood Bowl a try, perhaps gaming and family life might begin to overlap...

Finally, we come to another important part of my hobbying - writing. Whether it's background material for an army or the club campaign, a new scenario I'm working on, or as Jon over at the Combat Workshop alluded to, writing blog posts, I like to spend time writing, but this is probably the thing I find most difficult to fit in around everything else. So here I am, sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning while my wife has a lie in, and my son and I are up and about. He plays with toys, terrorises the cats, and rots his brain for an hour with back to back episodes of Peppa Pig, while I get a little typing done. In our house a lie in early extends much beyond 8am, but because my son and I are  by about 06:30, this gives me what is probably the only time I can find to write.

Pretty much the only other time I could dedicate to writing is the time I currently spend painting, and that time is precious. Plus, I don't want to change the routine I have established for my modelling and painting. The balance is good at the moment. So here I am, sitting on the couch, typing away on my tablet.

If you would like to read posts on this topic by other members of the Sprue Cutters Union (#spruecutters), then I invite you to check out the links below to their excellent blogs, and to the main Topic Hub over at The Combat Workshop where other members will post the links to their posts as they add them for our perusal.

And of course, if you might fancy yourself as a member of the Sprue Cutters Union, look here for more details. All you need is a blog of your own, and passion for miniature modelling.

As always, thanks for reading...

P.S. As promised last post, here are work in progress pics of the Chaos Warriors I am working on. Nearly done now, and once these are done, something a little different...

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pet Peeves: Sprue Cutters Union #24

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and welcome to this week's Sprue Cutters Union post (#spruecutters). This week it almost feels as though I am being baited by our esteemed leader, Jon B over at The Combat Workshop, as one of my New Years Resolutions for 2014 was to make a conscious effort to complain less, despite the fact complaining effectively forms a part of my job role. However, this week's question is...

- What do other modelers do that gets under your skin? -

Now though this may sound like an opportunity to simply point super glue encrusted fingers and have a good gripe, it's not. This question is not intended to stir deep seated hatred and factionalise our hobby along lines of modelling preference, it is simply a chance to have a bit of fun with the little things that make us shake our head disapprovingly and sigh. This is a 'fun' hobby after all.

As is often the case, my response to the topic will come with a helping of my 'Wargamer's perspective', because there are a great many areas where the preferences of wargamers and hobby modellers overlap. Now, deep breaths...

Worse for Wear

The first point I want to talk about is the general condition of models that gamers deploy on a battlefield. Wargamers choose their own models to collect, choose in large part how to pose them, paint them and command them on the tabletop, but I feel we owe a certain courtesy to our opponents to at least try and engage their carefully painted and prepared toy soldiers with equally presentable models of our own.

I can live with unpainted models. Heaven knows some of us are not the fastest painters in the world, and some armies take a goodly long while to complete. I can even sympathise when a model is damaged in transport, and a gamer has neither the time or the tools to effect a suitable field repair before the game. What I have never been able to accept is a collection of models which bear long term battle scars, and little to no effort on the part of their owner to repair the damage. Models that have been missing weapons, arms, even heads, for so long we can't even remember seeing them before they were damaged. Tanks with main guns whose barrels broke off when John Major was still Prime Minister. Even models that have had such makeshift repairs that they are barely recognisable under all the encrusted superglue and even sometimes blu-tac!

I wish some people would just sit down and take the time to make their models presentable. Thank heaven I haven't seen anything like that at the club I currently attend.

Vantage Points

Here is another one. Gamers who 'model for advantage'. I don't mean gamers who decide to use either an older version of a model or a newer model because it's taller and so has a better line of sight than the alternative, or shorter and so can make better use of cover, I mean people who deliberately model their miniatures in such a way as to exploit an advantage they were never intended to have. For example modelling an entire unit laying down, so that they can hide behind a low wall and avoid being targeted by enemy fire, or modelling weapons onto an armoured vehicle on an exceptionally tall turret to allow them to see over intervening terrain that typical tanks of their type never could.

I'm all for conversions that look cool, even if they are unusual, but modelling a miniature in an unlikely way purely to gain an advantage or exploit a rule is a step too far in my book.

Smoke and Mirrors

Though I could quite possibly go on for some considerable time yet, I will address just one more point, that of Proxying...

The practice of using a model to represent something else is not all that uncommon in wargaming, and often gamers may employ proxy models because they want to try a unit out before they decide whether or not  pay out a wedge of cash for the correct models, or don't have enough miniatures equipped with a particular weapon type to represent what they want to use, or even because they simply dislike a particular model and have created or bought an alternative set of models to use as a substitute. 

As long a gamers are clear and open about what they are proxying and ideally tell me why they are doing it, I won't have much of an issue. I have even done it myself on occasion.

What does grate on my nerves is a gamer who regularly proxies models or units, sometimes with wholly unsuitable alternatives, simply because they can't be bothered to model the correct (or at least more suitable) models or are not prepared to pay out for the models that they probably should be using. I'm not trying to penalise players who simply can't afford to buy as many new models as they would like, but in my experience the kind of gamers who regularly and unrestrainedly proxy with ambiguous or unsuitable models do so for 'in game benefit': that unit works best against this enemy, so I'll proxy it. Will I ever pick up the models to represent that unit? Nah, what for? I can just use this Swiss Army unit to stand in for pretty much anything, regardless of how confusing it might be for my opponents or how many times I am asked 'what was that unit again?'.

An example of this might be vehicle weapon selections. Many wargamers are choosing wherever possible to assemble their vehicles in a way that allows their weapons to be interchangeable, using magnets or metal pins perhaps, so that when they play their is no chance that their opponent will misunderstand or forget what the vehicle is mounted with and make a tactical error, because the vehicle will always have the correct weapons mounted on it. 

It may take a little more effort when modelling the vehicle initially, but is satisfying when complete, shows a degree is modelling skill, and also shows courtesy to your opponent who will make game decisions based on what they see trundling/hovering/flying/running across the table towards their models.

So that's me done. Being honest, I don't think there are many other modelling related gripes that cause me any consternation, and even these points I have raised will not cause me to throw my dice across the table and stomp away. We play for fun after all.

If you would like to read more blog posts on this same subject from the points of view of the varied members of the Sprue Cutters Union, check out the Topic Hub over at the Combat Workshop, where other members will post the links to their responses - all worth a read. Typically I would post the links here, but it seems this week I am the first to post!

Also, if you fancy joining the ever expanding Sprue Cutters Union yourself, check out this link. All you need to join is a blog of your own, and a passion for miniature modelling.

As always, thanks for reading...

P.S. From now on, I will end my blog entries with a photo of what I am currently working on, a parting shot if you will, so here are the Warriors of Slaanesh I am close to finishing:

Friday, 10 January 2014

Something to Talk About: Sprue Cutters Union #23

Greetings Wargamers and Hobbyists, and a very Happy New Year to you all. I sincerely hope that you enjoyed the festive season, whatever it was that you got up to, and of course that you were blessed with hobby related gifts and activities. Welcome to 2014!

I for one was fortunate, as I got to spend Christmas (when I wasn't working) in a cabin at a country resort with my family. My Birthday was yesterday as well, and between Christmas and Birthday have amassed some Fireforge Foot and Mounted Sergeants to join my Bretonnians as Men at Arms and Mounted Yeomen, the new Tyranid Codex, and one of the new Harpy/Crone kits, so not a bad haul at all. I may also have just enough cash left over to buy the new Dwarf book 'if' that happens to be the next Warhammer Fantasy release next month - *nudge-nudge, wink-wink*

More important by far, I received a very special gift from my wife: a voucher promising her time to try out playing one tabletop miniatures game! This is certainly not something I ever expected to receive, and intend to treat it with the utmost care and reverence. Willy Wonka can keep his golden tickets!

Anyway, on to the topic. For the first topic of this bright new year, the Union Members have been asked to talk about what we would like to talk about, by which literary muddling I mean that we have been asked:

- What three topics would you like to see the Union address? -

Though I know that John would always welcome suggestions for topics from members without having to be asked, I also think that this is a great topic to start us off for this year, and really did make me think, about what I might like to discuss but also about what might be suitable for the other members to discuss as well.

So, after quite a bit of consideration (believe it or not!), here are the three subjects I came up with:

1. Good colour, Bad colour

For this topic, I would like the members to tell us about two paint colours; the one they like to use more than any other, and the one they like to use least of all, and why. With my painting, there are some colours I love to use, and some that I would rather avoid.

2. Got Skills?

For this topic, I would like the members to discuss the one aspect of miniature modelling they have the most trouble with. This isn't necessarily something they hate having to do, but the thing they find most challenging to accomplish. I am confident that we all have at least one skill that we struggle with and would like to improve on.

3. I was there...

For this final topic suggestion, I would like the members, many of whom are scattered across several countries, to talk about the organised hobby event that they most like to attend or would like to attend. This would be a formal event like a convention or exhibition or some kind of competitive event for modelling or gaming.

So, there are my three suggestions. I honestly will not be offended if my suggestions don't appear in a Sprue Cutters Union post near you anytime soon!

If you enjoyed reading this post or would like to how much better my Union comrades did with this topic, I invite you to check out the links to their blog posts below:

Digital Sprue
Phil 'n Sand
Greg's Models

Also, check out the Topic Hub over on The Combat Workshop, where further links will be added as members post them, and where several have already listed their suggestions for topics.

And finally, if you fancy yourself as a Union Member and maintain a blog of your own, please have a look here for more details. A blog and a passion for miniature modelling are the only qualifications necessary to join.

For the first time this year, thanks for reading.