A most Prestigious Award

When Vincent Zeng first got in contact with me about making an acrylic trophy in the shape of a Semicolon my first thought was “OH NO!” I didn’t quite know how to dance around the sensitive topic of suicide while also somehow being a light hearted ‘gag’. Fortunately I would quickly figure out that this was a joke about computer science. Which was a relief.


For anyone reading this who feels like they might need help or is thinking about suicide please call or click to chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Project Semicolon is an organization that seeks to raise awareness and funding resources: https://projectsemicolon.com/


 

Now this was a great project for me because I had this huge piece of acrylic laying around that I had been carrying from house to house over the years as i moved. I originally acquired this from Gordon Kirkwood of Whimsey Engineering fame. He used to hold an annual “Mad Science Garage Sale” in PGH that was a ‘don’t miss’ event. I picked these up from him (They must have been offcuts from something epic) and had been hoarding them in hopes of finding a perfect project. This was a couple years back so I was in a hurry to divest myself of these, and I had just gotten access to a huge CNC router table at Iontank.
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Neither myself nor vincent had a solid direction for how this should look so we bounced around some ideas, we did want it to be kinda chintzy like a participation trophy but we had a lot of room to experiment, I threw out some ideas:

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Alex contributed the idea for a hanging Semicolon and I really liked that concepts I may revisit this sometime in the future.

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We eventually settled on a general shape, mostly because of the need to incorporate text to have the joke land. Some of the above designs I think are fairly clever but less practical…and maybe look a little bit too much like a tombstone.

 

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Once we had settled on a design I nested it inside of my circular workpiece, I wanted to get the most out of it that I could.

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I made a 3D model of all the parts and then did a quick rendering of the finished part and the frame I would need to cut out of some scrap wood, the frame would be used to register the circular part on the table and to assist in work holding while the cutting was happening.

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Autodesk generously includes a fairly robust CAM suite with their free Fusion360 software and this was the basis for all my toolpathing for the CNC router.

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The part was cut in 3 steps, first bolt a sheet of scrap wood to the sacrificial router table and cut a circle in it slightly smaller than the circle of acrylic and then hammer in the acrylic and bolt it down to the table, achieved in this instance with two screws. Step two was a wide facing pass that left a little material, and then the bit swept back in and cut out that last hundreth of an inch to ensure a consistent surface finish.  Final step was a contouring pass around the outside to free the new trophy from the remaining scrap.

Voila! The surface finish on this was good but not perfect and there had been some chipping, so it was brought home for sanding and polishing

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This was sanded and polished using a router with a buffing bit for the tighter areas but mostly by hand, exhausting work, but with fantastic results.

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This was a laser test to nail the engraving settings, I also sent this file and image to V in order to confirm all my spelling and the layout of the text.

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Into the laser! If this messes up for any reason the whole thing would have been for not and I would have to go back to the beginning.

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Final photos taken by Vincent Zeng. Thanks V, these look awesome!

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Not-Pro but it still goes, Somehow

This story is not a good story, it is not a story that should have ever happened, it’s not one that should ever be told. This is a story about shaving a yak.(*)

It’s January 12th and I have a commission to make another Bulbasaur planter. I think that this is a good opportunity to document in detail the process that goes into 3D printing and cleaning up a sculptural object, for me process does not drastically change no matter what the project is.

For documenting the print I had it made. Dillon set up an aftermarket system attached to the 3D printer which allows us to, upload files, queue prints and control the printer from any locally networked machine in the house, thanks Dillon and thanks OctoPrint!  In addition there is a feature on this web interface that allows us to time lapse 3D prints, so that was easy, taken care of. In fact I’ve already got the video. 

But to capture the whole process, so i needed to record, well a lot more stuff, and to do that we have a go-pro! Ideally I will mount it to something and position near the work table…But the only mounts it came with were adhesive backed, for action sports helmets and similar use-cases. I’d like a more versatile solution then that.

Well attaching things to a tripod just requires some threads in the bottom right? What kind of threads…(we google it) a ¼-20!? That’s great I used tons of those I must have purchased hundreds of 1/4-20 nuts and bolts over the last year for projects at work. Let’s take a look around the house; oh, I don’t have any? I bought so many and miraculously didn’t pocket a single one and bring them home. Well shoot….

I guess we won’t resolve this tonight I mean all we need is a nut…

But we have taps. Taps thread stuff! What do we have to thread…well we don’t keep any billet aluminum around that’s for sure, Neither Dillon nor I have invested in the tools we need to do quality home machining. But I do have these huge offcut chunks of solid ¾” ABS.

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And I know this is stupid, it should have never been done but I tell you what I did, punched a center hole traced a circle with a compass on the plastic. Then drilled the center with a #7, tapped it with a ¼”-20, then I cut it out on the band saw an cleaned it up on the bench sander and I’ll tell you what I wound up with it was a really ugly looking big plastic bushing with a  threaded hole in the middle, and ya know what, it did exactly what it was intended to do, which was to bolt down to the tripod.

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But that thing looked so stupid, and it was such a roundabout way to make a nut, the kind of thing that gets created in the fervor of the moment, where we get so consumed with ‘can we do things’ we forget to ask ‘should we do this’?

I did a quick design in Fusion 360 that incorporated a 1/4-20 nut, an object that costs <10 cents and was available at our local hardware store less than a mile away. 

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I quickly followed up with preparing the file for print on our Prusa I3 Mk3 using Slic3r. swore that first thing in the morning I would print something worlds better and go buy the bolt I was too stubborn to consider picking up the previous day. 

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The pentagon shape was great, based on the kind of hand-turn knob this shape ensured you had a great grip on the part (rather than the gopro) while screwing it into the tripod.

Unfortunately a print error and a design oversight left me with a cracked support and an unsightly glue blob on the bottom desperately trying to retain a bolt that could easily just fall out.

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I had to design a better bolt retention system so I cooked up a model that captures the bolt inside of it and is retained by a snap-in clip that helps there be contact on all 6 sides of the bolt.

Below is a cross section without the top of the fixture in place.

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Here is the prototype of the fixture:

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It works great!!

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Look at that retention clip fitment, I even shined a light up through the bottom to make sure that the retention tabs had slid into place. That thing is never coming out.

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So with my first round of prototyping out of the way and a lot of damaged and sub-par solutions on the bench it was time for the next iteration.

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New design Version 4, gives up on retaining the M5 bolt, there was simply not enough space available to make a strong enough print (with PLA filament), it integrates the clip retention for the 1/4-20 bolt. (Mixing SAE and Metric is a cardinal sin I know, but I prefer to work all metric and they standardized camera equipment)

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Here’s how she looked after the support material was cleaned up it was all assembled:

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The nut was firmly pressed into place captured inside the bottom of the part. I really like this clip-retention system, it was easy to design within the constraints of the part and it feels very secure, time will tell if we have issues with this design caming out and stripping all the surrounding plastic but for not it’s secure.

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I admit that it really looks like the valve on a hose spigot. I really like that this mount allows you to maintain a solid grip on it while screwing in the captured bolt from the tripod. Traditionally I remember needing to hold tight to the technology, gripping a camera for dear life as you carefully thread the mounting plate onto the bottom.

Here we are finally performing the task it was designed to do!

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Stay tuned for footage of future projects from slightly above and to the right of the work area. This is a great addition that I hope I’ll have ample opportunity to use.

Small Scale Home-Making

Alright I’m back on the miniatures train choo choo! This was spurred by a recent trip to Philly to attend the board gaming convention Pax Unplugged where I had a chance to play some really cool miniature games including “Hail of Fire” by Retro Boom. In addition my housemate Zach Urtes and his beau got bit hard by the miniature painting bug and my house is now littered with tiny figures that shockingly don’t belong to me!

I thought I would ease back in with a terrain project. I love making miniature terrain because it’s much more forgiving than painting a hero mini that someone is going to inspect ever micrometer of. The example I used was that if you misplace a brush stroke while working on a face someone will notice, but if you’re painting literal dirt on the literal ground nobody’s going to scrutinize that.

So the terrain I build is generally for tabletop war games or board games. On the whole most of the miniatures I own fall into the category of “28mm” scale. What does that mean? Nothing. Generally it’s accepted that 28mm will be the height of a character, but it varies wildly. For my purposes I treat this as 1:60th scale or more simply 1.5cm in the game equals 1 meter in the real world.

But what was I going to make? I had a lot of ideas for new projects but something had been lingering. A family friend of mine Bougie Hopkins who worked for years with my mother had heard of my interest in miniatures (probably through my father who has set aside a whole room in my childhood home just for trains)

She bought me a little sheet metal building that has a hinged roof panel so presumably you can store things inside of it, I think candles was the intended use, which would honestly be cool, maybe I’ll get those LED tea lights.

THANK YOU BOUGIE! You made this project possible!!

I don’t have any picture of the original structure but it was basically an aluminum box with the windows cut out and the roof in place. I decided to spruce up the metal box with one of my favorite building facade designs which I thought would fix nicely in a fantasy setting while also still being at home in a contemporary city/town. This design is sometimes called “Timber Framing” or “Tudor Style”.

For the framing I am using some 3mm or 1/8″ ‘Sintra’ aka foamed PVC sheet. It cuts very easily with a knife and I had some off-cuts lying around from a project at work last year.

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Here you can see the process which was to draw out the design in sharpie right on the sides of the house, then scuff up the areas where the sintra was getting glued down otherwise it wouldn’t adhere (Believe me I tried). I am gluing these parts on with CA (cyanoacrylate glue) aka “Super Glue” or “Crazy Glue”.

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All the framing took a couple of hours mostly to trim the pieces to fit nicely in the corners. It was then taken to the spraybooth and given a coat of matte primer, something that I know works well on metal and plastic is Rustoleum Camoflage. The Rustoleum is also very very matte which I prefer for all my miniatures projects. The lack of a gloss finish makes them seem less like toys.

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I took some suggestions for what else the house should have and built it a little storm cellar door. I think this was a really nice suggestion that made the house seem more grounded and less just plopped down on some terrain.

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Speaking of plopped down, here is the base for the house! The house isn’t glued down yet but we’re starting to get a feel for how this will look when it’s finished. The sand is just cheap hardware store sand held down to the base with white glue. If you attempt this don’t make the mistake I did masonite or hardboard will warp very badly when using white glue directly on it. This can be prevented in by applying a layer of primer or gesso the top AND BOTTOM of your board before applying glue. It also couldn’t hurt to put down a ground color before gluing the sand.

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Once again separated from the base the house got a coat of white primer over the green just to bring up some of the tones. Below we can see the house after it has been airbrushed with a brown I love working with the airbrush it really brings up the level of quality I am able to achieve quickly.

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At this stage I realized I made a major mistake, instead of painting the timber brown and then masking the timber, I should have painted the house white and then masked off the house! Ugh, it took me the better part of two whole days to mask off every little beam I had installed. Ya live and ya learn

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After the masking was all done the house got a fresh coat of white primer with a satin white over top of it. Pull the tape off and BAM looks like an awesome crisp new house on the prairie. But we don’t want a new house, we want some old, maybe abandoned, weathered old husk, so I applied some brown washes to it, some grey washes, did some highlighting on the timber…. and here’s the results:

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Foam flocking was added as well as some larger foam foliage in order to give the house a feeling of being abandoned or overgrown. I also boarded up a few of the windows to drive this point home.

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It is an amazing coincidence how well this worked in scale with the miniatures I use, there is no way that was part of the initial design and fabrication of the building.

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I love how this thing turned out and now all it needs is some extras, maybe some dilapidated trees, maybe a shallow fountain overgrown with algae, time will tell how it gets used.

 

 

 

 

 

Dreidel Dreidel Dreidel I made you out of…

The ideal was originally spurred by my coworker Dave who made a simple wooden dreidel for his wife who is a teacher. She wanted to demonstrate the game to her students.

With the holiday season fast approaching I  was thinking about family and identity and of course gifts. I knew that I was going to go home and record my folks stories about their childhood, and I also knew that it would probably be enough that I was secretly coordinating with my sister to bring her home from Shanghai for the holidays but I had an extended family to think about and Alex! Well we had just gone to Israel with Taglit Birthright in August, so what about some jewish cultural artifacts?

I had appropriated a chunk of walnut from the garbage cans at my previous job. We had used hundreds of feet of beautiful american walnut and the offcuts were getting tossed. Out of one I made a little pedestal, mostly to test out my new hand router.

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These offcuts combined with a small sheet of maple that I picked up from Rockler made some lovely accented blanks. These were glued up, sanded flat on one side and run through the table and miter saw to square them up.

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Before I dig in I had to plan out the profile. Now the dreidels of my childhood were round on the bottom:dreidel-sides-letters--e1449268869620.jpg

So I attempted to make a test dreidel with a rounded bottom, but it wasn’t working very well. While testing my housemate Dillon challenged me to make one with a pointed base.

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Now I was resistant to this idea at first, that wasn’t how I remember dreidels looking but there is apparently a metric ton of literature regarding spinning tops and advanced physics. After making a quick mockup out of some 2×2 we had lying around the house the results spoke for themselves, and honestly it’s much easier to make consistent points then it is consistent curve, unless I had a lathe….hummm

 I digress, the next step for this was to plan out the final design and in a move that was very in character for me I went and made a 3D model. These didn’t need a 3D model but I feel like creating CAD designs allows me to start to solve problems in 3D space I otherwise might not have ever thought of…

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Armed with the design I glued up those three off-cut pieces that can be seen above into my “Test Dreidel” If you look closely in the image below you can see that it’s made from three smaller pieces laminated together.

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This fella worked great and all the other pieces admired it and wanted to be like him:

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But dreidels aren’t just a profile cut they also have emblems embossed on the sides so with Alex’s help I sat down and used some simply typographic techniques to design a hebrew ‘font’ all my own. I got some push-back on some of the letter, especially the original Shin seen in the image below but eventually I had a batch I was happy with and set up a file to be laser cut.
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Making the test piece convinced me that if I wanted to be consistent I would need to do the inlay before cutting the points, the work just became too difficult to handle and register once it was in its final shape.  So all of these parts got drilled with a forstner bit and inlaid with a laser cut piece of maple!

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All of the maple inlays were sanded flush on the disc sander.

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When it was finally time to cut the points I made a jig that allowed me to more accurately replicate the same cut on every piece. The bottom of the inlay was lined up with the marking on the jig and then rotated till each face was cut.

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I managed to miss a step in here but before the points were added the tops of all of the blanks were drilled with a 3/8″ bit to allow the stems to be glued in later.

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You may be wondering about the little stems, they were actually made out of a narrower piece of the same walnut that got roughed to something resembling an octagon on the bandsaw and then chucked into a drill and turned against sandpaper till they were round. This is not a good way to make a dowel because it 99.999% of the time results in a taper. But I actually wanted a taper for these, it felt good in the hand and meant I needed to be less accurate with my hole drilling/ fitting.

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After a final glue up and sanding all of the parts were finished with 3 coats of a wipe on polyurethane over the course of 3 days, sanding in-between of course.

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If you looked at these and went “Hey the hebrew isn’t in the right order” congratulations, you’re better at this then I am. Even though I consider my girlfriend a jewish scholar and my sister is running a jewish community in Shanghai I was not knowledgeable enough at the dreidel game to know that the characters went in some kind of order. But now I know the phrase:
“Nes Gadol Hayah Sham”
נ  (Nun), ג (Gimmel), ה (Hey), and ש (Shin)

Literally: “A great miracle happened there.”

You can be sure that knowledge will be incorporated into all future projects!

Final Photos:

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Happy recipients:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsR2zXBDBSmjtR0omFQM9R7QZute_7Yf3C1-340/

“Geary” the making of a cardboard robot

I recently took a job at the Y Creator Space, which is part of the Homewood Brushton YMCA. I will be here for 10 months as part of a full-time AmeriCorps term of service. During that time I will do my level best to teach lessons about engineering and STEM to youth age 9 – 13 every day after they are done with school.  But first…we needed some kids to teach. The Y Creator Space was short on attendees as we went into this new school year, which was crazy since this is a free afterschool program that also feeds the kids dinner!

Part of our recruiting strategy was setting up a table at local events and luring parents and kids in with cool projects from the Makerspace. I thought a great showpiece might really bring them in, and since we’re all about inventing with cardboard and making robots, I needed to combine the two ideas.

While I had this project in mind for a while it wasn’t till the director of youth programming at the Y suggested we make a robot secretary, and the shape of the bot materialized. With Tank in mind I set off, made a quick plan and started cutting cardboard.

Before long I had a prototype:
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Right now you’re looking at two servo motors glued inside of a box each with an empty tape roll attached directly do it. It had been a while since I had worked with puppetry, and I had never worked with animatronics, but I’ve been a sculptor for long enough that I knew I could get something working…

Now I need some kind of linkage to attach the mouth to a servo motor, and of course it would have to turn to look at people…

Here it is all finished up a few days later!
The whole thing is 4 servo motors rigged up to 3 potentiometers, controlling both eyes, rotation and the opening and closing of the mouth. The controller is a Hummingbird Duo, the same controller that we teach the kids on and they all have access too.

Normally a Hummingbird must be hooked up to a computer to a function but for the sake of portability I wanted to take advantage of the Hummingbird Duo’s ability to hold a simple arduino program. I was running into some issues with ArduBlock so I dug deep into my programming history and hacked together some example code to make each potentiometer which gave an output from 0-100 control each servo which takes an input from 0 – 180, thanks to Tom Lauwers and the team at Bird Brain Technologies for making this easy enough for even me to do!

Geary has been a big hit around the Y Creator Space and at the events we attend. I’m very proud of this creation, it’s been a great teaching tool!

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Echo Echo Victor Echo Echo

Eevee is a Pokémon that has so much potential. It can fill whatever niche your missing in your team, it can be cuddly, slimy, spiky, frozen, or a plant. As long as there have been pokémon people have been speculating on what the next new eevee ‘brother’ will be (I assume brother because a newborn eevee has an 87.5% chance of being male). We were theorizing a green eevee evolution as early as 1997 10 years before the 2007 release of Diamond/Pearl and Game Freak canonized existence of Leafeon.

Needless to say I love Eevees. The illustration above is from a Platinum play-through showing my method for “EV training” my Flareon (I don’t care if it has no moves it’s so fluffy!)

A good friend of mine Caroline C knew of my love of eevee and during her short stint at the 3D printing company Piecemaker she printed off a shiny eevee for me!

 

Look at that support material!

Regular eevee’s are brown: Shiny eevee’s are grey: 

If you don’t know a “Shiny” pokemon is a palette swapped version of the original that has a 1/8192 (Generation 4) of occurring randomly in the wild. Many people will play through the entire pokémon franchise without ever encountering a shiny pokemon. I lucked into a shiny eevee while breeding a team of all 7 of the brothers available in Platinum version. With a mother eevee from Alex F and a father Linoone from Lynne G that she wonder traded in from Japan; I successfully utilized the “Masuda Method” which reduces the chances of breeding a shiny from 1/8192 to only 1/1638. I got mine in less then 80 eggs. As a wise man once said never tell me the odds.

The whole point of this blog post was to talk about the model eevee I was making….after I was given the 3D print I celebrated, this thing is so cool. Then proceed to hack it up. Cut the support material, hit it with a little sand paper, use a file to get into the tight areas and knock the ridges down and then throw down a layer of primer…

There are many methods for cleaning up 3D prints but this is the one I decided to try: the process is something like prime and sand, prime and sand, prime and file and sand, and prime and paint.

The primer sits heavy in the ridges and builds up to a smooth layer. keep this up until it’s a smoth outer layer.

Then it was painted:

Before it was finished I made a base on the laser cutter with some translucent plastic in red and white and some thinner plastic in black.

 

 Put the finishing touches on it, (eyes are hard man)

I made some extra bases because they were rad.

Now I have an awesome one-of-a-kind homage to my favorite pokemon that more then a few of my friends have contributed too!!

It goes great with the “Once in a Blue Moon Umbreon” that Alex crafted for me out of sculpty! ❤


Dredge Cosplay; A saga in the traditional sense. [Day 0]

Banner saga was a game that captured my interest in a way that few games do. I haven’t been one much for video games in the past few years but this one stuck with me grid based tactics games feel like board games, they feel like wargames…In many ways they play like them too.

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Banner saga had a lot of things going for it, the art style; the sprites are clean and the animation smooth and simple, it sells it well. The music was done by Austin Wintory of “Journey” fame, he is a master at his craft.  It’s setting is a world like that of Norse Mythology but also not quite Norse… all the gods are new and unique…and dead! The fantasy races are not that of Elves and Dwarves but of Varl and Dredge and Valka. The Varl all male and each individually crafted by their god stand 8ft tall, and have great horns sprouting from their heads, very cool.  Then there is your adversaries…

The Dredge

What are the Dredge?…grey skinned humanoids wearing stone armor, speaking in strange sounds and seemingly emotionless fighters. These are the antagonists in Banner Saga and as we play we learn more and more about them…but their design is great I really want to dress up as one. But there’s not a lot of detail defining them in their game-sprites or in cut scenes, I might need a little more to go on…

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When’s the next opportunity to cosplay? The inaugural PAX Unplugged in November.  That will be a great opportunity to get dressed up…but going as a Video game character to a Board game convention…faux pas.

Luckily I can kill two birds with one stone here:
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A company I really like called Megacon Games made a skirmish board game about the banner saga world! They made some really beautiful miniatures that also gave a bunch more detail to the design of Dredge armor and clothing.

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So I went and bought a set of the miniatures! YAY! More stuff to paint. Here is Alex F. learning to use an airbrush and priming a Dredge warrior in a dark grey so he can be painted.

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I also went and picked up some EVA foam at Costco to make the armor plating.

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This will be my first project like this so the plan currently is to model the helmet in Blender and be able to make templates. I need to do some scaling and the vast majority of the work will be done in the amateur cosplay making techniques widely available online.  I can’t wait to get started, I dropped into the Discord channel of the Banner Saga team everyone seemed excited about an idea like this.

Kingdom Death; The following of Adam Poots

I met Adam Poots in a basement Apartment in Brooklyn New York. My cousin Shoshanna F.-I. had brought me there in the early ‘aughts on some new years eve to escape from our folks. The residents were playing a new Silent Hill game in their basement in the dark and I was excited to learn someone in the house also played Warhammer 40k. Adam’s miniature collection was awesome, and his paint work nothing short of aspirational for pubescent Ethan and the fact that he worked at Atari made this some kind of man of legend. Anyway Adam Poots would walk back into my life a few times after that point…

He had some kind of public falling out with Atari? I still don’t know this story but here it is from him: (I wouldn’t bother watching it)

One year I was attending Otakon some cosplayer walked up and handed me a business card for a competitor to Facebook (which was new at the time) it was a social media platform called “I Heart Poots” (poots.com) I couldn’t believe this was the same guy, but sure enough I called up my cousin to see what Poots was up too and it was him.
I kept an eye on the URL who’s content shifted over the years until it had become about creating and sculpting this dark, but sexy, horror miniatures game, Poots had partnered up with some artists and sculptors and began releasing one off miniatures for a board game he’d make in the future. The game was vaporware but the sculpts on the minis were good and he’d develop a following. Production runs of 150 miniatures would sell out overnight…I had to get my hands on some. So I stayed up late and ordered myself a “White Speaker’ when it became available:

and a “Grand Mother”

They were really cool…but the miniatures were TINY TINY and I didn’t feel as though my painting skills were up to snuff, and to this day they remain un-built and unpainted.

YEARS LATER I checked back in on Poots and found that his game was finally becoming a reality, in 2009 kick-starter had come into existence and was helping aspiring board game designers bring their products to market. In November 2012 Poots launched the kickstarter for Kingdom Death Monster asking for $35,000….a goal which was met 90 minutes after launching the campaign.  He would go on to raise more then 2 million dollars the most successful board game on Kickstarter at the time. The Oatmeal would go on to break that record with some garbage that could barley be called a board game. (I’m not linking to it) But there is justice in the world, Kingdom Death 1.5 would break the Oatmeal’s record and raise $12.3 million dollars!!

Anyway I paid less then $90 for the Original KD: Monster box which had, through various kickstarter promises, ballooned in scope and become an unwieldy beast of a project. Poots had made a lot of promises he was unable to keep the biggest of which was thinking he be able to deliver a product by November 2013. (HA!) I didn’t see my copy of Monster till July 2015, but I had been waiting for Poots to make this game for years and years, another couple years wouldn’t hurt me.

As soon as it arrived I opened it up, everyone was thrilled, we had to play it! It was a legend! I took one look at those miniatures, so intricate, so detailed. I couldn’t do them justice with my painting experience and I put the lid back on the box and carried it around for the next two years.

But it’s finally time. Here is the starting sprue that includes the 4 basic survivors and the first boss “The White Lion”, and also “The Butcher”
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I remember back then looking up painting guides for these game pieces, and seeing assembly guides for the starting figures…I scoffed, HA! Was it the first time these people had assembled a miniature before, who needs a guide?

Now I understand.

These simple characters have no fewer then 6 pieces…

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The problem isn’t that they are complex, but that they have very very similar looking pieces to those around them, and only the exact right ones will fit.

Again with these also Airbrush has been a game changer. It lets me get down some subtle changes in skin tones and otherwise.

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I “kit-bashed” some of the armor kits together to make a D&D miniature for a Drew I.  who is leaving for Seattle. I did the miniature for him back in December but didn’t get around to painting it until the week before he left…funny how that works.

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The base is from http://sciborminiatures.com a place I’m going to need to be order from again very soon. All their products are awesome.

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Anyway after nearly a decade of following Adam Poots and his game I think I might finally be able to play it some time in the next few months. Only time will tell.

More updates on Kingdom Death to follow.

 

Dungeon Delving in 8-Bits

First of all, It’s down home cooking day at the Labyrinth!
In an effort to use up all the food in our house in our waning days here we’ve taken to making more and more elaborate meals….

We had leftover meatloaf that Dillon L. made from his family recipe, so we spice’d it up with home made vegetable gravy, mashed potatoes and some small portion from the remaining instant stuffing. Hearty food, perfect for two no-longer growing boys who are spending most of their day on the couch. But love to eat.

Super Dungeon Explorer

From Soda Pop Miniatures.  I bought a copy of the first run of this game WAY back in 2011 before Kickstarter (was big). There was a day when a publisher had to take a random guess at how popular their first printing would be, get it wrong; make too many and risk going under therefore not being able to make more games… or make too few and have people decry their inability to produce a game fast enough.

I got my first edition, first printing of Super Dungeon Explorer, it came with a fantastic set of miniatures in a “Chibi” or “8-bit” style that I instantly fell in love with… and an utterly incomprehensible rule-book. To this day people who got to experience the first play-throughs still talk about how bad the first edition rules were. But we persisted, ad-hoc’d, errata’d, balanced, and loved the game. But we didn’t play very often, I had always wanted to paint the miniatures and was ashamed that I hadn’t yet so I wouldn’t bring the box out to play.

Matt B. helped me get over that when I moved in with him in 2015, he had loved the game when we played it as young-yinz and demanded that we break it out. He even wanted to paint miniatures with me. We went ahead and bought the new “Expansion” Forgotten King that was also a stand alone version WITH UPDATED RULES and some “Caverns of Roxor” miniatures to add to are hero and villain pool. The updated rules were worlds better and became essential to a good SDE Experience, especially for first time gamers.  Matt initially acquired both for himself but after opening up the Forgotten king box I needed to paint those trees so I purchased it from him.

 

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These are so cool….

One day I’ll finally put together a cheap light box and take some really good photos of all the painted miniatures, and put them on the blog of course.

But this week I tackled Candy and Cola who were a special edition hero as far back as the first edition…and totally broken to play with. I’ve been using Zach U.‘s airbrush that he lent me, and this thing has been a game changer.

Here is candy. After a coat of white primer, a coat of purple base from the airbrush and some work done on her hair. After DSC05656

Candy was unique for a few reasons, by the time I got around to buying her she was “Out of Stock” so to speak and I had to grab one off ebay. Thanks resellers! Additionally out of maybe…150 miniatures from Soda Pop that I have she is the only metal model. Which poses it’s own painting challenges, but most amusingly she’s really heavy when people pick her up, and they don’t expect that.

After her hair I went and put down a base of flesh tone, then went in and did detail work on the eyes. Doing the eyes well is one of the reasons I’ve avoided tackling the hero models for years now, but I think I did an okay job on the first try. Thanks to the Ninja Division forums for people offering tips and giving examples of their work.

I have censored the next image…the model is wearing clothes I swear, it just does not look like it in this picture and I want to keep everything PG on this blog.

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After that I added some sand to the base and busted out the airbrush again for a base coat on the sand and to get another thin layer of skin tone down. This one also censored.Primer

While waiting for paint to dry, literally I went about making  a little prop to add some interest to her base. In the game she is “Soda Master Candy” and can be seen drinking from a soda bottle on her card, but they didn’t include this in the sculpt, so I wanted to put it back in…This time the poor girl has some clothes.

20170530_201747Soda is sort of her schtick I was surprised it wasn’t included in her sculpt. The Kingdom Death version features one…okay call the blog PG-13.

After some final refinement I got the model to a point that I was okay with fielding it, and I just couldn’t look at the tiny piece of work anymore and called it done.
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She’s not perfect but she’s ready for play and this marks a pretty big turning point for me. Candy was among the first heroes I had… and now then 50% of my total SDE miniatures are painted, and I’m finally starting to do the player characters. A light at the end of the tunnel can be seen…and behind that light, BUYING NEW MINIATURES!

Fear not this cycle never ends. Hit me up for a game of Super Dungeon Explorer, it will give me a reason to hurry up and paint more.