Friday, 9 December 2016

Black Flash

I've got a rare weekday off today so I'm trying to work my way through 2 larger projects but I had this guy sitting off to the side and decided to get him done during breaks in between waiting for things to dry, etc.


In DC Comics the embodiment of death for characters who have access to the Speed Force is Black Flash.  The basic idea being that Death needs an avatar who can 'catch up' to speedsters when their time comes.

Having the figure is a bonus when playing the Batman Miniature Game as a speedster can inadvertently trigger the arrival of the Black Flash which effectively gives their opponent and extra model in their force.

Hopefully I'll have a Warzone update later tonight and some Mirkwood at some point this weekend.

-Jay

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The return of the black plague!

After being away for the weekend when I got back I wanted to wrap up something fairly quick and easy and I've had these 7 figures mostly done for over a month.


I still haven't played Zombicide Black Plague but my intention is that I bought the box  for the figures which I am basically using for other games.  To maintain continuity with my Frostgrave and D&D models I cut these figures off their flat bases and re-based them on cobblestones.  Now that I've done that I'll probably go back and re-base the first 21 zombies I did from this set to match.

I've got a Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings itch I need to scratch so it might be a few more days before I circle back to the superheroes.

-Jay

Thursday, 1 December 2016

How many Floyd Lawtons are enough?

Back to my Suicide Squad box set!  Today's addition Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton.

This is actually the third Deadshot model I've painted so far.  To put that in context I still haven't painted a single Batman or Joker for the Batman Miniature Game...but 3 Deadshots.  Other than Amanda Waller herself there is probably no character more identified with the Suicide Squad than Deadshot.  Its probably fair to say that he is to the Suicide Squad what Captain America is to the Avengers, he hasn't been part of every line-up but somehow it doesn't feel like the genuine article unless he's there.


Deadshot has the checkered past typically associated with members of the Suicide Squad but he got a ton of additional character development during his time (pre-52) in the Secret Six.  Lawton is arguably the most pragmatic and realistic member of both the Squad and the Six which makes some of his actions seem shocking in the context of comic book stories.

The Suicide Squad box comes with 2 different heads for the model.  I chose his classic masked head but the other one is Will Smith's likeness from the movie.  I think Will Smith is great but I couldn't help shake the feeling that him being unmasked through most of the movie reminded me of Stallone being without his helmet in Judge Dredd.  It feels like once a studio pays for an a-list Hollywood actor they want the audience to see the actor rather than the character once they're up on the screen.  I also would have had a hard time gaming with the model with the Will Smith head without constantly making 'Fresh Prince Of Belle Reve' jokes.

I'll close out by asking; now that I've painted 3 versions of the same character is it bad that I'm waiting on an Arrow-verse version next?

-Jay

Up On A Soapbox - Is it the free market, or is it me?

Back up on the soapbox today but less in the vein of a rant and more in the vein of introspection.

When it comes to the gaming hobby I've always been a proponent of the idea of being financially supportive (ie being a paying customer) of businesses that I liked and not only enjoyed their products but aligned with their ways of doing business rather than being negative and outwardly expressive about companies I don't like or don't align with.  Truthfully I've never understood why people invest time and energy into expressing their negative opinions about things they don't "need" to buy or going on a company's forums or Facebook page to broadcast their status as non-customers.  The analogy I've always used is that as someone living in the middle-class I certainly can't afford a new car as often as I'd like but I don't go on car companies' social media sites and complain that their vehicles are too expensive or not for me.  It's always just seemed weird to me.

But in the last couple of months something has changed.  I'm honestly not sure if it's my perception, the industry or just that I'm officially entering 'crusty old man' territory but things don't feel as black and white as they used to.
First up I am NOT going to change gears and start complaining about companies with whom I don't align.  Having said that I now feel I have a third category of companies which makes me understand some of the things I've seen in the past.  Before I was very binary, there were two options:
1.  I like you and therefore I will buy your stuff
2.  I don't like you, therefore I will not buy your stuff
In the past couple of months a third category has wormed its way into the mix:
3.  I don't like you, but I like your stuff enough that I'm willing to overlook that
And this is where the problem comes in for me.  The issue isn't whether or not I should or shouldn't be buying things from manufacturers that I'm not enthusiastic about, the issue is that I have a finite amount of hobby money to spend so anytime I buy from a company I don't care for those are dollars I don't have to support companies I do believe in.

Its a real ethical question for me.  Not because any company rises or falls based on the spending of one hobbyist, but because I feel that the companies that are most likely to get the short end of the stick in these situations are the mom & pops where every sale counts.  I've never been a big fan of living in the grey and  the truth is it actually makes me uncomfortable.  I've been faced with two decisions in the past couple of weeks and to be transparent about it I feel like I made the 'right' choice in one case and the 'wrong' choice in the other.

Tell me what you think?
First situation:
A long-time established company is running yet another Kickstarter to release a product that has already been fully developed and requires NO additional work beyond the actual manufacture of the units they will sell.  This company has been around for 30+ years and this is at least the third time they've done this exact same thing (pre-ordering masquerading as crowd funding) in the last two years.  Every time they do this they almost completely cut their wholesale and retail partners out of the loop in spite of the fact they they wouldn't be where they are today without those partners.  Having said that I REALLY want the stuff they're Kickstarting.  In spite of that my decision was to not order and wait until I can get it through brick-and-mortar retail.
Second situation:
A company that's been operation for 4-5 years and has always made terrific high quality  products that I enjoy I recently purchased a set from and found one of the pieces to be defective.  Defects happen all the time and no one should feel bad about it (lets be fair).  But in spite of that I know based both mine and other people's history with this company that any communication I send them will be completely ignored and my issue will not be resolved.  I can and should be angry about that.  But in spite of that I've just decided to work around it and continue to be positive and enthusiastic about their products.  So am I part of the problem now?

These are two recent examples but things like this happen all the time and we make value decisions about these things all the time.

I've always been a proponent of "put your money where your mouth is" and I'm just not sure I'm as consistent about that as I have been in the past.

-Jay







Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Katana

Perhaps its oddly fitting that the one member of the Suicide Squad who isn't really a member is the one I got a defective figure for and then had to substitute with a non-Suicide Squad model.

Katana is a character that has hung around the fringes of Batman comics for years but to be honest I didn't truly become aware of until she showed up on Arrow.  Katana is a classic Batman character in that she isn't a meta-human but is someone who has undergone an unbelievable amount of training and has one additional element (in this case the Sooultaker Katana) that makes her extraordinary.


From a game mechanics point of view Katana is extremely useful for securing objectives as she is a volunteer and not subject to the normal Suicide Squad rules which can result in models suddenly (explosively) being removed from play.  I'm assuming Rick Flag will also have this rule but I'll have to wait until he's released to take advantage of that.

This figure is from the core Batman Miniature Game line as unfortunately the Katana I got in my Suicide Squad box was miscast to the point of not being salvageable.  Having said that I do like this figure and I'm extremely happy with how she turned out.

Well, this is what I got done on my lunch break today so with any luck I can still get Deadshot done after work today.

-Jay

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Two more recruits for Task Force X - movie edition

Over the last couple of nights I've gotten my next two members of The Suicide Squad done.

First up is Boomerang (I guess by the time line of the movie he hasn't been promoted to Captain yet).  I've got to say that as much as Boomerang has been a staple of comics and animation for decades he was one of the characters I wasn't confident would translate well to a movie.  The character is fantastic but his comic book costume has always made me think of a 70s era flight attendant.  I really feel like the movie team did a great job updating the character's look and feel without falling into other even worse tropes or stereotypes (although the Fosters was a nice touch).  I also feel like after at least 10 years of Hollywood trying to make Jai Courtney happen this might finally be the breakthrough.


Next on our list is Killer Croc.  This is going to sound really minor but one of the things I like about the inclusion of a character like Killer Croc in the Suicide Squad from a cinematic-world-building point of view is that he feels like he subconsciously forms a bridge between Batman and Superman.  The question/challenge most non-comic fans have had with the idea of Superman and Batman existing in the same universe is their power disparity.  The idea that it's hard to believe both these guys can be considered 'superheroes' in the same shared universe.  Killer Croc is effectively the first non-Kryptonian meta-human we've seen so far in the DC Cinematic Universe, this gives the audience a practical frame of reference to understand that there are beings in this world that are significantly more powerful than Batman who aren't nearly on par with Superman.  To me that starts to fill in some of the grey space and start to make the cinematic world feel more like the comic world.


I'm happy with how both figures turned out but of the two I'm definitely happier with Boomerang.

If everything stays on track I should get Katana and Deadshot done tomorrow night!

-Jay

Sunday, 27 November 2016

First 2 members of Task Force X - movie edition

This week I was able to get prep work on a lot of miniatures done but with Black Friday craziness I didn't get much actual painting time in.  I've got a small cluster of fantasy figures I'm hoping to finish when I have time this week but my primary focus will be on two separate sets of superhero figures.

This afternoon I finished the first two members of the Suicide Squad from the Suicide Squad box set for the Batman Miniatures Game (soon to be DC Miniatures Game?).  I decided to start with two of the easier figures to paint which resulted in my painting one of the most interesting and one of the least interesting members of the Suicide Squad.  <spoilers ahead>

First up is Slipknot....poor Slipknot....
There's something of a tradition in new and/or one-off adaptions of Suicide Squad stories that the writers need to establish that the danger is real and unlike most comics the characters lives are in real jeopardy.  To establish this the writers always have to offer up an early death to sell the audience on what they're seeing/reading.  To my recollection the only story to break this rule was the Justice League Unlimited  episode "Task Force X" that due to being a cartoon marketed to kids probably wasn't going to have any neck bombs going off.  In the New 52 launch Voltaic drew the short straw, in Assault On Arkham KGBeast decided to test The Wall, in Arrow the character played  by Sean Maher (who's name I didn't even catch before he got neck bombed) learned the hard way that escape wasn't an option.  When the cast poster came out there were two things that struck me right away:
1.  Slipknot had less of a 'costume' than any of the other Hot Topic models in the movie
2.  Adam Beach is playing Slipknot!  Wow I haven't seen him in a major studio movie since....oh....
If you knew the formula it was pretty obvious that getting emotionally invested in Slipknot was probably not a good idea.  In addition I consider myself a comic-book fan of reasonably extensive knowledge and I don't think I've ever owned a comic with Slipknot in it.  Totally unrelated to DC Comics or this movie I would also like to point out that when my daughter was younger she watched an educational PBS show called Word Girl that had a superhero theme and the one villain that never got taken seriously (even on a show directed at 3-6 year olds) was "Amazing Rope Guy", draw your own conclusions.


The other side of the coin is El Diablo.  I hadn't been reading much DC stuff in the years before the New 52 launch so I'm not sure how prevalent El Diablo was then but when New 52 Suicide Squad title launched there he was and he was one of the characters that work best in stories like this.  He's clearly not a hero and he's done some terrible stuff but he's got a conscience and he's not a one-dimensional psycho.  But once again, unfortunately for El Diablo he has a place to play in fulfilling the Suicide Squad formula and it can't be every version of the story where Rick Flag is either the noble sacrifice or the good man left behind.  Sorry El Diablo you were (ironically) too good for this world.


There you have it (so far).  I've got Deadshot and Killer Croc on my table next as well as some newer Pulp City figures.

-Jay