Back from Orlando!

Hi everyone! We’re back from Orlando safe and sound… and tanned, my arms almost match colours now! We arrived home around 10:30pm last night after a lengthy drive from New York City, which was preceeded by a flight from Orlando to La Guardia airport.

We had a great time and managed to see and do pretty much all the parks in Orlando except for the water parks. For most parks we did two days so that we could cover everything at them that we wanted to.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom was a lot of fun, it’s boken up into several main parts. There’s Mainstreet USA, which is filled with all kinds of neat shops. Then there’s Frontier Land, which is all western themed. The next one, Adventure Land, was all the adventurous Disney themed stuff, like Agrabbah from Aladdin and the caribbean port towns from Pirates of the Caribbean. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was cool, I got some snazzy souvenirs from the gift shop for that one, including a cursed Aztec coin medallion. Liberty Square is another USA themed area of the park, this one borders Frontier land and is the civilized counter-point to the wild west of Frontier Land, it had a huge steamboat that you could ride along a large circular river, as well as the Haunted, House, which I didn’t get to see. Fantasy land was your typical Disney magical themed stuff like Peter Pan, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, basically all the princess themed stuff. Also in Fantasy Land was the It’s a Small World Ride, which I have to admit, I really enjoyed. And lastly in the ring that is the Magic Kingdom, there’s Tomorrow Land, which is where the attractions for the various sci-fi themed Disney characters are, like Buzz Lightyear and Stitch, Buzz’s ride was fun, it was a rail-shooter ride, which was fun.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Deb Bry and I rode the the Star Wars Star Tours ride a couple times, it was really fun, we got to visit Coruscant, Hoth, Kashyyk, and Naboo. And of course Bry and I built ourselves lightsabers in the gift shop afterwards. The Disney animation studio at Hollywood Studios was really neat, you get to see how the animators at Disney do their work, learn about the creative process they follow, and do some interactive stuff, to try it out yourself. We got to meet characters there, too, like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey, and ever Mr Incredible and Frozone, I got my picture taken with them. Deb’s favourite part at the animation studio was the drawing lesson classes. You get to sit in a room lined with rows of light tables and learn how to draw a disney character from an Disney animator, I really enjoyed it, too. At Holloywood Studios, we also went and saw the Muppet Vision 3-D, which actually got Bry to like the Muppets and really got me stoked for the new movie coming out. We also saw the Little Mermaid stage show, which was actually really cool and had all kinds of lights, sounds and water effects mixed in with the show to make you feel more immersed in the story. We took a quick walk through the Walt Disney One Man’s Dream museum, which was very interesting. And of course, we couldn’t visit Holloywood Studios without checking out the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular which shows you a behind the scenes look at how the stunts are done and it was awesome. You can feel the heat from the pyrotechnics halfway up the seats and Deb, Bry and I sat third row, closest to the finale with the exploding jet fuel. I was almost worried I’d come back without eyebrows, but it so much fun to watch.

We also visited Disney’s animal Kingdom where we went on safari and saw the Lion King show, which was incredible. We also saw the Finding Nemo musical, which was really neat.

Epcot was probably my favourite of the Disney parks, though, all because of two things. The first is the ride inside the epcot sphere, called Spaceship Earth, which was really fun and interesting, and was narrated by none other than Judy Densch, which was even more awesome. And the second was the Epcot World showcase, which is a huge area that circles a large lake in the center and covers countries from around the world, each country is organized into a little town embodying the most well-known aspects of that country, with authentic cuisine, shops run by people from that part of the world, as well as music and street shows related to those countries. The countries, in counter-clockwise order (which was the order we did them in thge first day) are: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan, the US, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico. My favourite countries to visit in Epcot were the UK, Morocco and Japan. In the UK on the first visit, we ate at the Rose and Crown, an honest-to-God english pub, complete with traditional english fare and a full range of beers and spirits. I had bangers and mash with a pint of Guinness and felt like I had died and gone to heaven, it was so good. In the Japan Pavillion, which was done up like Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, had the largest shop out of all the countries in the showcase and carried everything from kimonos, to katanas, to paper fans, to pokemon, to pocky, to tea, to domo-kuns, to miyazaki toys, to paper umbrellas to Gundams. And even a choose your own clam pearl stand where you buy a chance to choose a clam from their tank and they open it for the first time in front of you to see what pearl you’ve bought, sometimes coming away with some exceedingly rare pearls worth far more than you paid. As for Morocco, I pretty much just liked the way the whole thing looked and smelled and even sounded like an arabian market, lots of incense, tile mosaics, stone archways and winding roads.

Another place I loved was Downtown Disney. Honestly, if it hadn’t started raining both times we went or I had been able to fit more in my luggage, I would have spent so much more time shopping around there. Downtown disney has the largest stores out of the entire range of Disney resort attractions. There was even a large Lego store, that’s right, an entire store devoted to nothing but lego. I ended up finding one of my favourite purchases from the entire trip, the thing I splurged on the most there. It’s one of those Lego board games they’ve been releasing lately, but one that hasn’t been released in Canada yet. It’s called Heroica and there are four sets to it, which, of course, I bought all of. What makes it so great is that it is essentially, drum roll… Lego Heroquest. As for Downtown Disney itself, though, I highly recommend it, especially if you’ve spent a couple weeks checking out the parks and want to bring back souvenirs for family, pretty much any souvenir you can get at any of the Disney parks, can also be bought at Downtown Disney somewhere, which the exception of some really specialized stuff, like they had a bunch of cool books at the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop in the Magic Kingdom, that were not available elsewhere, even downtown Disney as far as I had seen.

I have to say, though, one place I really enjoyed was Universal Studios Islands of Adventure There was so much stuff to see and do there.The Spiderman ride was cool. And it was fun visiting Jurassic Park and walking through the Visitor’s Centre Pavillions. But my favourite part of Universal was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Deb, Bry and I got to drink butterbeer (which is delicious by the way and tastes somewhat like a butterscotch vanilla float, but smoother and so much more addictive). We also got to visit Ollivander’s Wand Emporium and we each got ourselves a wand appropriate to us based on a signifcant date of our choice, using the old Celtic calendar of 13 months. Bry and I ended up getting the same style of wand since he chose his birthday as his signifcant date (January 10th) and I chose the day my mother died (January 2nd), which both fall in the same range on the celtic calendar and so we both have the same design of wand (a long, rough-looking almost druidic style of wand), though every wand has slight differences. Deb also chose her birthday (May 20th), which ended up giving her a short, finely carved, smooth wavy wand with rings of colour along it’s length. I also got a leather-bound hardcover pocket notebook with a metal Hogwarts crest on it, which is really nice. I almost bought a house Ravenclaw robe, but didn’t because it was too expensive, good thing, too, since I found out later I would be house Gryffindor, not Ravenclaw as I originally thought. Although Bry is Ravenclaw, so the baseball cap I got I gave to him, which he was happy about.

There was lots more stuff we did and saw, but off the top of my head I can’t remember them all now, I’m sure they’ll come up in conversation at some point. So, I apologize for not updating during the trip but I was so busy just enjoying it that it was hard to find the time.

FanExpo 2009

So, Amanda and I are thinking it might be fun to go to FanExpo this year. The convention is like a celebration of all our geeky interests in one big place. Comics, Sci-fi, Anime, Gaming, and Horror all rolled into one. The event is in downtown Toronto on the 28th of August to the 30th. Tickets are between $10 and $75, depending on which package you get. Bring your wives, your girlfriends, your friends, whoever you want! When we know who’s coming, we can sort out the details of meeting near the convention centre and going in together, or whatever works best for everyone. Let me know if you’re interested!

http://www.hobbystar.com/fanexpo/

Experiments!

So, further adventures in my quest for WH40k modifications and scratchbuilds. After some deliberating I can’t yet re-alocate enough cash to buy any Green Stuff for myself to help me build my Autarch. But since I’ve been wanting more and more to get my army playable, I’m becoming more willing to experiment if it means getting things done.

So, I did some research, and found this little gem. From what he says on his blog, he used basic hardware store epoxy putty to completely mold from scratch jetbike chassis for a squad of six eldar jetbikes, and used leftover bits from wave serpent/falcon sprues to build the rest. So this inspired me. The main thing I needed my greenstuff for was to make one or two extra warp jump generator carapaces for my autarch and possibly a secondary one should I have the available limbs, torsos and desire to have more than one weapon layout. And as basic hardware store epoxy putty suffices for the thick jetbike chassis, it will no doubt suffice for the thick carapace I needed. So off to Canadian Tire I went and picked up some Mighty Putty. For a paltry $11 after tax, I was able to purchase more of Billy Mays’ favourite all-purpose putty than I could have got green stuff for several times the price.

Now, I’ve done a lot of research on the subject, and the main reason many modders advise against Mighty Putty is two reasons. One, it hardens in about five minutes and essentially needs to be carved after that. And two, it hardens much too hard to replace delicate plastic pieces, more into a chunk of rock or concrete than into a hardened plastic. But as I will be using it mainly to replace thick metal pieces by making molds and then pressing fresh putty into the cured molds, flexibility and working time is essentially a non-issue as thick metal pieces aren’t supposed to bend. I had been warned that it had a strong smell, but having foolishly worked in closed quarters with fiberglass dust and paint fumes, I felt I could deal with any chemical smell.

So, I arrived home and after spending some time with the family and Deb had gone to bed, it was time to try out my new miracle putty and make Billy proud. No sooner had I opened a tube and cut off a suitable chunk to cast a mold, was I hit with an odor not entirely unlike a clogged ceptic tank. Why Billy? Why didn’t you warn us of this terrible evil curse surrounding your beloved putty? The immediate reaction of dropping it on the floor and trying to kill it was a difficult foe to beat, but beat it I did. And so I proceeded to spend the next 3 minutes rubbing this foul-smelling clay between my weakening hands, each squeeze producing another noseful of decomposing sulfur. And it got really warm as the chemical reaction took place. But eventually, I placed the putty, fully kneaded, onto a small piece of paper and pressed the carapace down into the blob, and then carefully removed it. And lo and behold, a perfect impression! So I set the mold aside to cure and quickly went to wash off my now sticky hands and carapace. So I’m pleasantly optimistic that this will provide the results I’m looking for. I’ll see tonight how well the mold has cured.

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Thank you Billy Mays, thank you, you crazy frenetic bastard.

Concerning the hunt for Green Stuff

Hey guys, decided I’d make a post out fo this rather than flooding the chat some more. Well, after some poking around, the best overall price for buying any of the epoxies commonly used for miniature modifying is either www.greenputty.com or www.thewarstore.com. The only place that beats them is, of course, eBay. Now, greenputty.com sells their green stuff for $20, but has much lower shipping ($7.59 for an order of one roll of Green Stuff and a brick of Brown Stuff, which I’ve read is better for sharp details). The war store sells Green Stuff for $12.99 but has twice the shipping price ($15.00 flat rate to Canada). This might make it seem like a no-brainer to go with The War Store, but greenputty.com offers bulk bundles, for an extra $18, you triple your order of Green Stuff (or add ), so now, you’re looking at $38 for 3 bricks as opposed to $39 at the War Store, which seems negligible until you remember the lower shipping at greenputty.com. This comes out to a final total of $45.59 from greenputty vs $53.97 from the war store. Both places offer both the tape and rod varieties of Green Stuff at the same prices.

So really it’s a matter of what you want to get a lot, or a little. By the same token, If you really wanted to go nuts, greenputty.com offers a bulk bundle of 24 units of green stuff by adding $200 to the base of $20. So, to compare if you really needed a lot of green stuff, to say, build a bookshelf out of or something you would be looking at $227.59 from greenputty, or $346.76 from the war store. The savings!

And just for the fun of it, what does Games Workshop charge you for the same amounts of green stuff? Well, assuming you go the cheapest route and buy it in-person at the GW store.  For one package of the stuff it comes out to only$13.80 after tax! But oh, wait, that’s for a third of the amount so it’s really $41.40 for the equivalent of one brick. Or, if we wanted 3 bricks worth, it would be $124.20. And lastly, how does GW compare to the massive bulk order of 24 bricks of green stuff? With a whopping $993.60 after tax, that’s how!

The moral of the story, don’t go with GW unless you really only need a little of the stuff and don’t ever intend to use it again.

John’s Warhammer Adventure

Hey all, figured I’d post a progress update on how my army is coming along. Biggest bit of news, Deb’s birthday present to me was a trip to Le Valet on Saturday, whereupon she had me pick a bunch of stuff and bought it for me. Most notably a Seer Council boxed set for my Eldar army. This now means that I have 2 farseers and 3 warlocks at my disposal. She also got me several boxes of the new D&D miniatures, the pre-painted ones, we’re thinking of introducing Bry and his Cousin Jasmine to D&D and felt that using the minis, which are really inexpensive by miniatures standards, would be a good visual appeal to the whole process.

Hey all, figured I’d post a progress update on how my army is coming along. Biggest bit of news, Deb’s birthday present to me was a trip to Le Valet on Saturday, whereupon she had me pick a bunch of stuff and bought it for me. Most notably a Seer Council boxed set for my Eldar army. This now means that I have 2 farseers and 3 warlocks at my disposal. She also got me several boxes of the new D&D miniatures, the pre-painted ones, we’re thinking of introducing Bry and his Cousin Jasmine to D&D and felt that using the minis, which are really inexpensive by miniatures standards, would be a good visual appeal to the whole process.

Anyway, that aside, and back to my eldar army. I also did a re-count of my figures and it turns out I had a fieldable squad of Warp Spiders all along! So, after updating my army list, my totals are:
Army Total w/o Wargear: 1576
Fieldable Army Total w/o Wargear: 1386
Current Battleforce, Wargear in: 1249

So that puts me at a current battleforce build of:

HQ
2 Farseers
3 Warlocks

Troops
4 Dire Avengers + 1 Exarch
10 Guardians
8 Ranger Pathfinders

Fast Attack
4 Warp Spiders + 1 Exarch

Heavy Support
1 War Walker
1 Heavy Weapon Platform
1 Wave Serpent Transport

So I’m quite pleased with my army list and now that I’ve got that taken care of, I’ve started on assembly the units for my battleforce that you guys go tme for my birthday, and even have some photos!

So, I spent a couple hours carefully picking through my battleforce box on Saturday night checking to see which units I had instructions for and which I didn’t and which would be the easiest to start with. So eventually I realized that I had no instructions for heavy weapons platform and its two accompanying guardians. The had pretty easily identifiable pices and since they had no instructions I figured if I could puzzle them out, there would be less guess-work later when I moved on to the guardians, which also had no instructions. So, first I put the weapons platform together and opted for the eldar missile launcher mount as it offers two missile choices and provides a blast weapon with a good range and strength. I got it together quite easily, and the turret portion turns nicely should I want it to move, and the hover base seats cleanly into the baseplate, so I was pleased. I then moved on to the two crew guardians for the platform, they had their legs, and chests as a single piece on the sprue, so I only need to glue on the back, arms, heads and any accesories, which I did. There was a loose Shuriken catapult for the guardian that couldn’t hold his, so I glued it fo his back, making it look kind of like an antenna, which sounds weird, but actually fit the styling of the eldar units surprisingly well. Please excuse my pictures, I took them with my cell phone.

Surveying the field
Surveying the field
Assault at White Loaf
Assault at White Loaf

So, quite pleased with my assembled minis, but very tired, I went to bed. Then last night, Deb was tired and decided to turn in around 10:30, so I took the opportunity to assemble the rest of my guardians. Having done the other two succefully, I felt more confident to tackle the rest of the little buggers. Of course, the standard guardians, unlike the weapon crew ones, come in 10 pieces instead of 5. So, I very carefully cut the pieces for one guardian out fo the sprue, made sure they my cuts were clean and satisfactory, then began meticulously glueing them together in sequence. It went really slow, but went well. So I tried another, my morale boosted, quicker, but just as well-assembled. So here I was now fully sure of what I was doing, and what sorts of freedoms and lee-ways I had when assembling the figures and I began to carefully stream-line the process. By the time I had finished the first 4, I had determined a method to quickly, effectively, and easily assemble the last 4 guardians simultaneously, adding slight variations to poses and placements to make the squad look more dynamic and life-like. Take a look:

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Hanging with the Heavies
Hanging with the Heavies

So far I’m very pleased with my progress so far, next up is likely going to be the war-walker and then the dire avengers. The Wave Serpent I’m likely going to leave for last as I need to do it in two parts since I have to prime and paint the cockpit before I can fully glue the thing together. So, I’ll leave you with two more pics, one of my Seer Council units, and a very blurry one of my currently fieldable army.

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Closure

I don’t play alot of flash games these days (and I know I JUST posted another one), but a blog I read mentioned this and I was so blown away I had to mention it here. I’m not going to say anything about the game, cause I don’t want to spoil it, just see for yourselves.

Closure.

Warhammer Fantasy: The Painting

Well I commented in Curts 1st post that I would post pictures of the progress on this end. I have to say it has been pretty fun tossing our techniques back and forth and actually seeing results. I am so jealous of the primer spray Curt had but will so be buying one next time 😉

So here is the setup that I am currently working with. I pretty much kicked everyone from the kitchen table and confiscated it for the greater good that is miniature painting. I typically used my computer desk but me and Marie are sharing it right now for office space so that is a no go.

The Setup

Here are some pictures of my figures in various angles. There is quite a bit of detail, some of which I have no even got to yet like skulls hanging from their belts. But it give you an idea. I probably plan to drybrush some blood color on a few of the orcs blades, that should give them a more menacing (as if the severed head on the belt was not enough) look. I have 34 Orcs, 34 Empire soldiers, Cavalry, Wagons, Artillery and much more to paint so it is gonna take some time lol

I have learned a lot though in the past day about various brushes and what works well with what. Also coloring and inking are quite cool but difficult to implement at times. I would say the hardest part so far is painting the tiny studs in the armor as well as the leather ties on the back of their uniforms as it is such a tiny area. Go fine brush go!

And last but not least Warhammer Fantasy is endorsed by my cat Eigan. Cats are indeed wise

Cat Loves Warhammer