Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Bit Of Fluff For The Holidays! - Another Work In Progress

Artfully posed: Tuleng (our star),
and planets Uletl, Riruchel, Tekumel, Shichel, Ziruna

A more 'natural' look at our star system;
I still have to detail the planets, of course.

Every now and then, even the most 'serious' modeler just has to get a little silly. I've always wanted an orrery for the Tekumel star system, ever since Phil took us to see the amazing one created by the Ancients and still in more-or-less working order out in the Tsolei Islands. (Nanotechnology is a wonderful thing.) I've been meaning to get out some dowels and some spheres for decades, but when The Missus saw this little model kit in her usual crafts store, we just could not resist. You do wind up with spare planets, as well as some parts, but I always save stuff like this 'for later' and 'just in case'.

Tekumel's star system is an artificial one; the Lords of Humanspace terra-formed it as a job for the Hokun, who have been living on other portions of the planet since it fell into the pocket dimension. The five planets are grouped into a belt that is about the same as the orbits of Venus through those of the asteroids. Uletl is a little rock ball, and Ziruna a little ice ball. Riruchel is, we think, a relatively stable planet, and of course we call Tekumel home. Shichel is a mystery; it is the largest planet in the system, but not that much bigger then either Riruchel or Tekumel. If you happen to get out that way, let us know if the place is a gas planet or a solid.

I have not modeled the moons; that's for another, larger model. Tuleng will light up, on that model.

Distances from Tuleng are shown pretty accurately, at least in the proportions. This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a scale model.

I switched the planets around a bit from the model kit, so as to get some different detail on each planet. Now that I have the base coats on each, there will be ink washes to bring out the details; nothing fancy, just a little added extra that I like to do. I might try to add some of the planetary map to Tekumel, but we'll have to see how good I really am. In any case, it'll be under the clouds.

All of this really got started when Phil and I were talking about astrology and navigation on Tekumel. He said that they did it, and I worked out all the number-crunching to do it. Had to; we had an astrolabe, and we wanted to know how to use it...

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Chirine At Work - Part-way Through

The job in progress. I still have to bind the books.

Showing my usual lack of self-restraint when it comes to model-building, I fell to with the TRE Games kits after I posted about them to this blog. I used a tacky craft glue, which you can get at all better crafts stores - just ask; tell them you're a model railroader / railway modeler, and they'll understand - and it took about two hours to build everything you see here. One does have to be careful when popping the parts out of the matrix; like any laser-cut parts, they can be fragile. One really nice thing about these kits is that you do get spares of any really delicate bits.

The bench and stool kit gives you six benches, all different, and ten stools of three types. The table kit yields three tables, all of slightly different style. The 'closed' bookcase, on the left, has four shelves, sides, and back; the 'open' bookcase, which frankly sort of scared me when I opened it, has four shelves and is open on all for sides. Both bookshelves come with little blocks to use as books, and what I think is pretty cool are the wrap-around covers; all the books will look a little different on the shelf.

The cabinet comes with doors, and in the photo you can see that they are slightly open. Let's be honest; any group of player-characters crashing into a room with one of these in it is going to have those doors off in three-tenths of a second, if only to get at the goodies in the cabinet. And then they'll use the doors as shields when the annoyed owner of the goodies shows up to see what all the noise is. ("Pesky player-characters!" - Prof. M. A. R. Barker, after a particularly annoying Thursday night.) So, I glued magnetic material on the backs of the doors, and all the way around the frame, so that we can have the doors open and available as separate items.

I will confess that I did use a bit of 'specialist gear' for the open bookshelf. The steel assembly tray is part of my arsenal of model building tools, and usually gets used for making sure that my railway buildings are all plumb; you use the magnets to secure the parts while the glue sets. With this rig, the bookshelf took about five very easy minutes to assemble, instead of the half-hour of fumbling agony that I was expecting the job to take.

I am, I will freely admit, quite taken with these little kits. They go together really easily, are reasonably strong, and have a delicate look to them that I really like. The closed bookshelf and the cabinet look to be strong enough to support the weight of figures, so I expect we'll see some swashbuckling next melee.

(I was so excited by these kits that I clean forgot to mention that I am on vacation this week, so I have plenty of time for this sort of tomfoolery.)

Happy Holidays!

The Laser Cutter Is Your Friend - Buying Locally

Princess Vrisa goes boating. The oars are separate.

Still in the bags from when The Missus got them for me.

Ah, modern technology! Back in 1994, my Missus did the bases for the Hugo Awards on the powerful industrial laser cutting table she had at the place she was working at. The beast cut through 1/2" maple planks like they were butter, and one had to stand by with a fire extinguisher - it was a mighty beast, and mostly untamed. These days, laser cutters and three-dimensional printers are more user-friendly, and we have two examples of how they make my life a lot easier.

First up, the little boats that I think I mentioned a while back. Don Burl Corleone, the Godfather of RPGs at The Source, 'knows a guy' who makes the boats as seen in the top photo. They have two layers glues together, and four paddles/oars included in the shrink-wrapped pack. These are over-sized, but they do not get lost in play. The boats hold six 25/28mm figures in comfort, and you can get more in if you're like us and desperate. I am making decked sections to go with these, for use as floating bridges.

Second, TRE Games ( does all sorts of useful stuff like bases, gadgets, airplanes, and now these packs of 25/28 mm furniture. That's right - furniture kits. The Missus saw these, and was enchanted; I saw then, and immediately thought of drilling out the sword from an upraised hand and replacing it with a stool from one of the kits.

You never have enough furniture to throw, parry with, or cosh somebody over the noggin with.

There are, at present: two bookshelves, one cabinet, one set of three long tables, and one set of benches and stools. We used to run into this kind of thing all the time in Phil's Jakalla Underworld, and looking in the wardrobe used to be a common occupation for us. We don't have a lot of actual furniture on Tekumel, as we mostly have mats on the floor and such, but these sets provide everything one could want for gracious living on campaign or in the clan house; the stools also double as the little tables one finds next to one's mat or carpet. (Mats and carpets: Google search + color printer)

And these are cut from actual hardwood - ash, the label says. There's nothing like wood to simulate wood, we always said in modeling, and these sets need only a dab of wood glue - or your favorite craft glue - to stick them together and they are ready to go.

And they look really good, too; the bookshelf sets include a color-printed sheet of book covers for the little wooden blocks used for the books, and even some scrolls to leave around to get those pesky player-characters into trouble. The wood is 1/16" thick, so these kits look a lot more 'real' then the old cast-metal furniture items I'm used to; they have very thick shelves, as a certain thickness is needed to get the metal to flow into the mold.

So, a little bit of fun from two local manufacturers; I'll have more photos when I get the furniture built...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas - 2015 - And Happy Holidays!

You just know what I'm going to do with this kit, don't you.

We're here at the bottom of the year, and it's a quiet night in at the little house. The Missus is cooking up the holiday dinner, and I am enjoying three days off - followed by the last football game of the season - and then a week's vacation.

It's been a long year, with all too much happening, but we're still here. Our regards to you all, and happy holidays!!!


Update: The Missus has been in touch with David Soderberg, and he is in the process of renewing his website. All of his figures are still avilable; he's just been swamped by sculpting work for various companies. I'll have more on this, as soon as I hear more.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

STOP THE PRESSES! - WAS Spending the Holiday Money - Bronze Age Miniatures

Some guy from Virginia, maybe?
(Photo from Bronze Age Miniatures)


PLEASE NOTE: Sharp-eyed reader Ben Brooks noted that the web announcement of the sale at BronzeAge Miniatures is from 2014, not this year. I missed this, which is why I should not post while tired and late at night. I do not know if there is rally a sale on at this point, and I'd advise e-mailing David to see what the situation is. I am very sorry about the confusion, and I'll be more careful next time. I think I was just too giddy about the idea of getting more of his figures, honestly!


We're coming up on the holidays again, and we're looking at what to do with our little pile of money that we've managed to save up for our wild and extravagant holiday spending. My birthday saw the arrival of a new laptop for me to use on the Internet; it's got the newer Intel chip set for video work that my current desktop lacks - too old, the poor thing - and I have hopes that I can get on-line games with full duplex communication going in the new year.

There's also a new vacuum for me to clean up my messes - the old HEPA one had the motor in the power sweeper head go out, after twenty years of dealing with my construction dust. (There's also a replacement for the old CRT 36" television that the Missus had in the living room; the power supply failed this past week, and so it's gone the way of all old electronics. It was replaced by a 32" LCD, but that came out of our stock of A/V and show production gear, and so does not count as 'holiday goodies' per our accountant.)

There was also the set of four lovely little cast resin islands from JR Miniatures that the guys at The Source put me on to; these, I fear, may be out of production, so you may have to look around for photos of what they look like. Nice rocky peaks, and beaches to please any pirate, buccaneer, or 'Honest Seafaring Merchant' in need of water or someplace to bury the loot. I used my model railroading skills to do these up right, and I am very pleased with the results. This came about because of a renewed interest in the collection of 1/1200 ships from the Valiant Miniatures 'Ancients' and 'Spanish Main' lines; I originally got these for our games out at Phil's, back in the day, and we're still playing with them today. (Avast, me hearties! Shiver me timbers, but much to my astonishment, Valiant is still in business, and the ships still available! Sink me for a lubber, else! Hurrah!)

Also in the nautical line, Burl at The Source 'knows a guy' who has a laser cutter, and this chap makes very handy little rowboats in 25 - 32mm. These will easily take six figures on 25mm / 1" bases, and are very handy little craft. I'm making sets of beams and decks for them, so that I can use them in the bridging train as a modular pontoon bridge - or 'bridge of boats', as the Divine Alexander would have called it.

The biggest news is from David Soderberg, the owner and genius behind Bronze Age miniatures; he's offering a 30% discount on his marvelous products from now until December 27th. There's a lot more, and photos, at:

The Missus has indicated that she's looking at some of the figures; I'm told that my hard-pressed River Police may be getting some badly-needed new troopers, and that there may be a new Dire Peril in the offing as she stocks up for new adventures. I'm very fond of the Bronze Age figures, as they are very animated and just chock full of character. They're just fun, and really great for those swashbuckling games.

In other news, lots of very big changes in the works here, as I am finally on a stable schedule. Things are hectic, but we're managing. I'm now steaming past 115,000 words on "To Serve The Petal Throne", and it's really flowing quickly now as I hit my stride.

More to come...