Games Talks: January 2016

There are a lot of different pieces of kit available to the hobbyist. Saws, pin vices, files, there are a multitude of tools that can be used to fulfill certain roles in assembling or converting miniatures.

However there is one fundamental, one essential, tool that all hobbyists must possess. The hobby knife. Technically, there is no such thing as the hobby knife. What is commonly referred to as a hobby knife is actually part of the utility knife family. Utility knifes were originally fixed blades, used for tasks such as cutting and scraping hides or cleaning fish.

hobbyknife01

The modern utility knife refers to fixed blade knives, as well as folding or retractable blade knives. However, for many the term ‘hobby knife’ has come to represent a certain type of utility knife which sees a lot of use throughout hobby and craft activities. Hobby knives are usually made up of four key components; the handle, the sleeve, the chuck and the blade.

The blade fits into the chuck, the chuck fits inside the sleeve, and then the remaining segment of the chuck screws into the handle. As you tighten the chuck and sleeve into the handle the chuck compresses, securing the blade in place. Because the blade is removable, it can easily be replaced when worn out, or a new blade type inserted for a particular job.

There are a multitude of blades available, from the traditional scalpel-like triangular blade, to flat chisel blades, curved blades and oddly shaped blades for performing particular cuts and techniques or for cutting certain materials. Most good quality hobby knives are manufactured from metal.

Cheaper knives often have plastic components, like the chuck. While these are also perfectly acceptable, plastic components wear out and break much easier than their metal counterparts. There are also a number of handles available, from standard metal handles to cushioned grips. It is recommended to try out some different types of handles and select one that feels most comfortable to use.

hobbyknife02

There are a few basic universal safety rules when handling a hobby knife. Always cut away from yourself. Many people take this to mean to cut directly away from your body, but that is physically impossible when doing small or delicate work. What you should actually do is make sure that no part of your body is in the cutting path.

For instance, if cutting a piece of plasticard, hold the sheet at the top or the side, not the bottom where your knife is cutting towards. Where possible, use a cutting mat. Usually you should be able to, as parts of miniatures can be prepared separately and then assembled.

However, occasionally a piece cannot be easily accessible on a cutting mat. In these cases it is best to either proceed with extreme caution, or attempt the cut with a more appropriate tool. Use an appropriate sharpness blade for the job you are doing. When cutting through something, like plastic or card, a sharp knife is recommended.

The blade should glide though the material, rathobbyknife03her than saw or rip its way. You should also make guide cuts, lightly running the blade along where the cut will be made. This allows the surface to break, and your knife to gain purchase in the material.

Once the guide cuts are made you can make two or three more forceful cuts to complete the job. You shouldn’t have to press to hard. The harder you press, the less control over the blade you have, and the more disastrous any mistakes you make. Dull blades have their uses, too. These can be used to lightly scrape away mould lines and unwanted detail. Always put your hobby knife away, or in the very least, attach a protective cap when finished using it.

Many single knives come with a protective cap. Knife kits do not usually have a cap, instead offering moulded indentations to insert handles into and magnetic strips to attach blades too. Lastly, if you are a younger hobbyist, it is best to perform any cutting with a hobby knife under the supervision of an adult

Scenery Workshop: Bring boardgames to the next level

cropped-SceneryWorkshop_logo_transparantPainting your miniatures is a fun activity and greatly enhance your board games visuals. I have “invested” (if we can call it an investment) into some modular workshop system found on the website of Scenery Workshop. This Dutch webshop has really all what you can dream about to establish the perfect your work-area.

I bought the Hobbyzone Benchtop Organizer (WM1) for under 50 euros. It’s big enough to hold all my material (cutters, scissors, holders, glue, pencils, …) together in the handy drawers.

IMG_6877In addition to store all my paints (I have a mixed collection of both Citadel paints and The Army Painter, Vallejo, Rackham, etc..); I bought 3 extra elements to have a good visibility on all my paint colors :

You can see them on the picture over here:

IMG_6878

To be complete, I also have the now indispensible LightCraft Triple Tube Pro Task Lamp – LC8015 – that allows me finally to paint also when it’s dark outside. The usage of this lamp is just amazing. I could not do without it anymore.

IMG_6879

Last but not least, I had a little problem with one of the neon lights in my lamp who broke down after a few hours of usage and Patrick from the Scenery Workshop went to extreme length to get me a replacement (free of charge) that he sent over to me.

The after-sales services is just great with a practical ticketing system you get answer to your questions in no-time.

I highly recommend this webshop because good prices, selection of goods and service is just excellent !

They push the hobby to the next level !

Games Talks: October 2015

Everyone, whether they just paint models or only play games, loves a nicely painted force. There is just something impressive about the skill and dedication it takes to produce such an inspiring site. Not to mention, when arrayed on a battlefield or placed into a displayed, they just look so cool.

What is it about a fully painted collection of miniatures that we find so engaging? I really don’t think that there is a single answer. For me there are a number of things that make a collection of painted miniatures interesting.

Colour choice and model selection are a huge part of it. Miniatures that are well painted always cause a certain amount of awe for the least amount of work, probably because you get such a striking first impression for just choosing and applying a handful of colours really well. Models too are a quick way to impress me, by choosing a selection that not only gives a uniform look, but also introduces variation to create visual interest.However, while these two aspects create a good first impression, they don’t always hold my attention when brought to close scrutiny. So what really impresses me? What makes me remember a collection of models? Above all else, what I always look for is a story.

A lot of people mistake what a story within a collection means. They seem to think this involves having a detailed knowledge of the background fiction, adding minute details from the background and being accurate to the world. This is not the case. Not at all. To me, the story is the element that binds all the miniatures together. Something that takes them all from individual pieces and makes them say “we belong together”. For me, the story means I can look closer at each miniature and see a common thread that ties them all together.

This doesn’t have to slap you in the face, either. In fact, I love it when a story is quite subtle or implied. Being told the story of a force directly is one thing, but I relish those miniatures that I can look closer at, find common elements and construct a story myself. There are a few regular tricks I look for when trying to find a collections story. A feature colour is always the first thing. Is there a colour that has been used to pick out a certain feature, and how has this been applied? This can be as obvious as the general model and his guard having the same colour shields, to as nuanced as patterns recurring among certain models. Another thing I look for is conversions, or use of unofficial models. Swapping out one set of models for another, or altering them, is a good way to create a unique visual that contributes to the story. Like replacing knights that are usually quite ornamental for ones that are more dour and drab.

When creating a collection of miniatures it might seem like a hassle to stop and think about introducing a story. However most people are injecting a story right from the start, whether they know it or not. Normally the models we choose and how we paint them instinctively creates a basic story to bind them together. The challenge is to consciously develop this visual fiction to introduce multiple layers. When you do this you take a good collection and make it really great.