Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Weekly Update For Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 - Holidays at The Workbench

Minicon, 1987. Phil seems amused.

Well, here we are at the holiday season; I was a little preoccupied last year at this time, what with the zipper in the back of my head (I was having my stitches removed) and we really didn't do much of anything for the holidays that year.

This year is different; we're hosting the Annual New Year's Game again, on Saturday, December 28th, at noon. Game starts at one, once everyone has the chance to nosh on the goodies being served on the buffet table in the Lava Lounge. (Note to self - must find a lava lamp!) I expect not-so-great things from this game, which is the idea; it is a very light-hearted romp, with no Serious Business intended.

I am working on getting my three Sro built; these are all the later PHD castings, and the metal alloy shrank a little bit as it cooled. This was back in the days of The Big Lead Scare, in the early 1990s, when various local governments tried to enforce bans on lead in toys - a laudable goal, if I may say so - but the game miniatures industry got caught in the line of fire and a lot of companies had to switch over to lead-free alloys in order to stay in business. After a lot of lobbying by the industry and GAMA, 'war game' miniatures were exempted from the ban and things sort of returned to normal.

Anyway, the Sro - sculpted by Bill Murray of Old Guard - is a big honking lump of metal; it was designed back in the very early days of the miniatures industry, when there was a sort of 'arms race' amongst the small number of miniatures companies to have The Biggest dragon in the industry. The Sro topped the scales at two - yes, two! - pounds of metal in the body alone and another pound of metal in the wings. It was, in my experience, an amazing pain in the posterior to cast up. One had to empty our little three pound melting pot every spin, and I truly hated making the things. To add to the pain-in-the-butt factor, the soft lead-tin alloy we had been using made the wings soft enough so that they didn't support their own weight; over time, the wings gracefully drooped and had to be flattened out occasionally.

The metal mix used by PHD fixed the wing-droop problem - it's a harder, less ductile alloy - but I'll have to use a heap of clamps to position the body sections for gluing. I foresee lots of epoxy cement in my immediate future - tomorrow morning, in fact...


The hot news from The Workbench is that the new PC with the hot Intel chip set is now up and running; I now have fully-functional, fully duplex video calling available through Skype and Google+ Hangouts. The plan for this year is to be able to offer fully interactive games from here at The Workbench over the Internet; I'm not sure if we'll move the PC from the home office into the game room, or simply run some cables from the office to the game room. Either way will work - I'll have a look at the cable inventory and see what we can do. I'm hoping that I can use the huge WEGA monitor in the basement for this, with the USB camera atop it, as I think it'd give the on-line folks a better view of the game table as well as the best audio connections. Worst comes to worst, I'll use our collection of microphones and mixers to get the best audio - experiments are in order, I think.

I plan on being available every Friday evening, here in the home office, for Skype calls; I can be typing away on "To Serve The Petal Throne" on this machine, my Apple IMac, while leaving the PC up and running over on the island desk with Skype up and running. 'Office Hours' should be something like six to midnight in the evening, but I am flexible - I have a lovely old 'retro' Mastercrafters 'World Clock'  (which see:)

that is quite likely as old as I am; I don't remember where I picked it up, but it sits on my desk and tells me what time it is where ever you are. So, drop me an e-mail, and we can talk!


Howard Fielding has announced some new figures, on his Tekumel Project website, and I encourage you to use the link in the left-hand column to mosey over there and take a look.

Mike Burns is starting a new Indiegogo campaign for his range of 'Ancient Egyptian' palace figures that is inspired by both the paintings and art of this fabled land and by the classic 1950's "Sword and Sandal" pic films that I watched while I was growing up - and still do, for that matter. These figures are perfect for the kind of games we run around here, and look quite visually compatible to the figures from The Tekumel Project. Here's the update, and I'll have the correct URL as soon I have it:


A very big news item from here in the Twin Cities is that Fantasy Flight Games has opened a new and greatly expanded Event Center. The old site was pretty cool, but the new one is simply mind-boggling. I am planning on doing more games here in the coming year - lots of room, great access for my carts full of stuff, and good food on site. It's amazing; have a look, and take the video tour:


We are all caught up on our video podcasts; both the November 2013 and today's December 2013 'casts are up on both "qik" and the You Tube channel. Use the links in the left-hand column to get to them, and thank you for watching!