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After some interesting plumbing adventures the family and I are out of the house for the next couple weeks while repairs are made. Knowing that I'd need something to do in the evenings I had to make a tough call. I could gather up my painting supplies or I could grab one box, a knife, glue, and clippers. I obviously chose the easier route. So during our little forced vacation I'll be assembling the Robotech RPG Tactics starter box and giving you my thoughts on it. Not that I think anyone particularly wants to hear my thoughts on it, but if I'm going to build all this I'm going to talk about it.
Before we jump into it I do want to mention that if you've ever heard anyone talk about this set I'm probably going to say a lot of the same things. I do however think I bring at least one new idea that somewhat redeems this box or at least changes the way you think about it.
Right off the bat I've got to say it does have a nice box. It's fairly solid and the art not only on the outside but on the inside is a nice little addition.
When I first bought the box it was my intention to build the three configurations of a Veritech and stop. I already have too many projects and this was to be the reward after completing everything else. You better take a look at them before I start ranting.
It was during the build of these first three models that I couldn't help but notice problems, you know the very ones we'd all already been warned about. The instructions are not always clear, all you get for each model is a deconstructed picture that can leave you guessing. Then to make it just a little more fun some components that are shown as being multiple parts just aren't. There is nothing like searching a sprue for a piece needed to complete a part before you realize its already attached.
Then of course when it comes to "fiddly" bits these may be the fiddliest I've ever seen. There are a ton of parts that are tiny to the point of the simple act of removing them from the sprue breaks them. Remember this because we'll definitely be coming back to it.
Even the larger pieces have their problems though. Most of the bigger pieces are multi-piece parts for no real reason. Maybe they're there to lull you into a sense of false comfort right before you start in on the "fiddly" bits.
Now we come to the sprues themselves. They're not exactly horrible minus the times when you break a "fiddly" bit trying to remove it but they're not great.
After only assembling three I really wondered how they'd stand up to use on the tabletop. Even for display pieces they feel fragile. The detail is there but the construction and contact points are just bad, again we'll get back to that.
Confidence was not high after the first three figures. Then came about our impromptu vacation so I pressed on with the assembly and next up were the other Macross defenders, you know the cannon fodder, the Defenders and the Tomahawks.
This is where I hit my stride. Overall I assembled them quickly, with many of the same complaints, but by then I'd become familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the set. It's also where I had the revelation that completely changed my attitude.
You see these aren't miniatures and they really aren't game pieces, they're models. Models complete with all of the "fiddly" bits and needless multi-piece assembly you could expect. Once I started to think of them as models it bacame easier to accept the flaws and oversights. I couldn't exactly forgive or forget them, but at least they made a kind of sense. They're made like a Gundam model where the real accomplishment isn't in building it, it's in the fact that during the assembly you never threw it against the wall.
Armed with my new outlook I started work on the special Zentraedi models. Even with the new outlook there were issues. Here are some "fiddly" bits I broke while removing them from the sprue. See just how tiny some of them are?
Oh and remember those contact points I mentioned?
That's how a leg attaches, a leg, you know the thing that is meant to support the whole model.
Eventually I did complete the three special models however.
After reading all that it would be easy to think I hate this box. It'd be even easier to think I wouldn't recommend it. Even with all the issues however that isn't the case. I think under the right circumstances, I can recommend this to everyone they just have to meet certain criteria.
Firstly you need to be a fan, because you'll need that love of the source material to keep going. The box needs to be on discount (bought mine for about $50 and that seems fair). It also helps to know exactly what you're getting into; before buying I'd already heard plenty of horror stories (still ended up buying it and I'm glad I did). Finally you need to think differently about the figures themselves, honestly once I started thinking of them as models like Gundams or even highly detailed planes everything bacame easier. If you check all of those boxes this is probably right up your alley. Don't ask me about gameplay however I already know I'll never find someone to play with, I just wanted the models.
Let me preface this with I got back into serious fantasy gaming with the advent of FrostGrave. While I was waiting for my Kickstarter to arrive, I wanted to build up a couple of warbands, but I didn't want to invest a huge amount of money. I went down to my FLGS and found a box of FireForge Teutonic knights on sale for about 12 dollars, so I snatched that up to build my soldiers. I turned around and saw a huge rack full of Reaper Bones miniatures. The stark white miniatures threw me for a loop, but the price was right so I grabbed about four different minis for various soldiers and wizards.
Let's just say that the first lesson I learned about the Bones miniatures is that spray primer or any primer is unnecessary. As a matter of fact, the spray primer that I have always used had an absolutely horrible effect getting both tacky and fuzzy. It was so bad that I set the minis to the side to revisit on another day. From that point forward, I only use Gesso or airbrush primer, and only if the figure is intended to be primarily dark or metallic. Anything else, I just paint directly onto the figure.
Some of the figures I've picked up were distorted, but having been an old hand with resin, I already knew about the hot/cold water tricks. One thing I've noticed is that the thicker the piece, the longer it needs to soak and the water needs to be hotter. I tend to get water to boiling level and let the piece soak as needed. When I was repositioning my Hydra, it took boiling water and about a 5 minute soak to get the necks flexible enough to reposition. The legs took almost no time in comparison. The ice water bath locked it in place.
I've noticed that the larger figures seem to be better at holding their details in the white Bonesium material. I'm hoping the new darker Bonesium will prove to be better at holding details for all of the figures. I picked up a 77058: Almaran the Gold, Paladin. The facial details were non-existant. I cut off the head and replaced it with a FireForge helmet.
Conversions: I have to say, the Bonesium makes conversions a breeze. I picked up the Kobold set which comes with 2 each of three models. I was able to swap arms or hands on 4 of them so I would only have two duplicates. The Bonesium material cuts easy and superglue sets it almost instantly.
These have been my observations and as with anything else, your mileage may vary. I don't think I would want to replace all of the figures with Bonesium, but if you're looking to save some money or bulk up on your critter collection, Bones is definitely the way to go.
Just saw this pop up in my email. I didn't get in on Foldio 1, but I might get this one.
Foldio2, â€œBIGGER & SMARTERâ€
Foldio is the first pop-up studio for your smartphone. It becomes bigger and smarter. Feel the thrill of taking awesome photos.
About this project
We believe that it is possible to show that photography is no longer difficult and burdensome for non-professionals, by creating a better environment in which everyone can easily take high-quality pictures with a smartphone
Foldio becomes more powerful and easier. You can experience the thrill of taking great photos by yourself with Foldio.
HOW IT FIRST CAME ABOUT
People take pictures with smartphones easily enough, but itâ€™s difficult to get high-quality pictures due to random lighting or the background, especially for photography intended to promote a product.
In comparison, a photo studio has backgrounds and lighting which are completely controlled, which results in high-quality pictures. However, much time is needed to get the setting right, and the rental cost is quite hefty.
So we started to design a photo studio for use with a smartphone - a simple, easy-to-use portable studio for everyone.
Foldio (a portmanteau of "foldable" and "studio") is portable photo studio with a foldable design for smartphones. Foldio allows anybody with a smartphone to easily take studio-quality pictures. This is our ambitious project intended to unfold a whole new level of possibilities in smartphone photography.
WHATâ€™S SPECIAL ABOUT FOLDIO 2?
Foldio 2 is bigger and smarter in order to overcome the limitations of the 1st version of Foldio. Yet, we still focused on maintaining the portability and all-in-one studio style of the original.
Bigger Size - More Subjects are welcome
We increased the volume by 200% compared to the original Foldio.
It allows you to take pictures of a wider variety of subjects. Get in touch with your tremendous creativity.
Brighter Atmosphere - Powerful LED Strip with Adapter
LED brightness is improved by using dual LED light strips twice as long as the original one.
To maximize the LED light stripâ€™s ability, we are going to use an adapter for Foldio 2. The Foldio adapter helps to make the lighting conditions and atmosphere consistent as well as being more practical than using batteries.
If you have existing lighting devices also, itâ€™s perfect for taking pictures with Foldio.
Simple Magnetic Structure - Set Up the Studio in 10 Seconds
Weâ€™ve gotten lots of positive feedback about the foldable magnetic structure from 1st-gen Foldio users. So we will apply the same structure to Foldio 2 for convenience and simplicity.
So, I busted out my newest brush last night for the first time, a spanking new Da Vinci Restauro 5506 #1. I thought I would give a short review here on my thoughts, since people frequently ask questions about brushes.
The Technical Jargon first. This brush is a Da Vinci 5506 Restauro #1 Kolinsky Sable. I paid around $15 for it. I decided to try it because I wanted a brush with shorter bristles than the W&N S7 and RMS, but not as short as the W&N S7M.
So far I've only done two base coats with it, but I have to say I am mightily impressed. This thing comes to a point like a dream, with almost no effort involved. It doesn't hold as much paint as the S7 and the RMS, but it is amazing for details. I think if I stick with this model for painting I might step up to a #2 for base coating and general work. Obviously I can't speak for longevity yet. As far as quality of materials I would say they are easily as good as any of the W&N and RMS brushes I own (which are pretty much my go to brushes). I will definitely continue to try out new brushes as the need arises, but I think this will be my primary brush for fine detail and eyes. It seems to be a good compromise between a S7M and a S7 brush.
When I first started photographing my minis, I built myself a light box out of a cardboard box and tissue paper:
I thought this was the best way to take macro photos, but thanks to some advice from professional mini painter Aaron Lovejoy (olliekickflip), I recently ditched the light box, and have gotten much better photos ever since!
Here's my new setup:
I've since updated the macro photography tutorial on my website, if you want the nitty gritty of how it's done.