Friday, December 4, 2015

Happy Holidays

  Hi Folks.

    Where has the year gone? Things have been busy as usual, with much less accomplished than planned. This is mostly the by-product of working 2 full time jobs. Keeping up with orders has gone pretty well, with only occasional misses in products being available. The construction job has gone as expected and has allowed me to amass a bit of reserves to invest in some new stuff.

Here is the new Maker style 3D printer.

    It was a bit of a chore to assemble and calibrate but it is finally working. Here it is printing out a hood for a Firebird.

  The purpose of this item is to test fit everything before molds are created.

 I am hoping to print out some other things with it, such as this fancy dice cup I sculpted-

  As well as the project that has been on my mind for 5 years now. The 70 Mercury race car.

 It has taken a long time to shell out the model and create 2mm thick walls, and frankly I am not expecting to sell these.

  This is just one of those things I always wanted so it is more of a personal project. The car shown above was driven by Wendell Scott. He was a person who I have a lot of respect for, the last of the renegade independent Nascar drivers. After years of struggling with sub-par equipment and no budget he finally borrowed the money to buy a top of the line Cyclone. He lasted 17 laps before getting caught up in a crash that resulted in career ending injuries.  I just got to put one of these on the track. 

 The club was out doing a demo at the fairgrounds show again this year-

  On a more industrial level, one of my collaborators has set this monster up in his garage.

  It is an EDM machine. Something very useful in creating complex molds. I have been waiting for some time to see if it can work in the manner needed and it finally completed a successful test. This one is a 3 phase machine. I only have one place to operate 3 phase electric and a single rotary phase transformer.  After seeing what the machine can do I am going to be adding one to the shop. It is going to be a single phase machine for ease of connecting, and it is a little on the used side.  ( OK, a lot used) 

  Might take a bit to get it operational but it is going to make things a lot easier in the long run. I am taking a trip to pick it up next week. After that I am going to cut back to 2 days a week of working so it allows me more time to be in the shop working on new stuff. 

  So it may seem like nothing is happening on the surface, behind the scenes the infrastructure is being built to support some of the crazy projects in planning.

  And I would be remiss if I did not offer an update on the gremlins wars. The news is not good. After seeming to fall back they have staged a counter attack of epic proportions. A new mold being cut for some figures was ruined by an electrical surge, and after consolidating their position in the shop they have been launching raids.

  First the brakes rusted off my truck. Who cares, it has air bags! I fixed the brakes and then the air bags sensors rusted and failed. Who cares, I fixed the brakes! But then the brakes started getting very soft. I finally had to bight the bullet and trade it in. In gremlin terms this is going nuclear.

  And then there is this-

  Typically when you here the term "wet bar"  it does not mean having sewage water poured over your head while you are having a snack.  This is the second failed pipe this year and 13th since I moved in to this gremlin infested shack. I have torn through walls and ceilings and replaced every bit of copper pipe with plastic. 

  So that should put an end to their unchecked aggression for some time. 

  I hope all of you have a great Holiday Season and hopefully we will all be looking forward to a new and great upcoming Year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

15 minutes of infamy...........

  Well hello again folks and welcome to another collection of random nonsense. Things have been busy as usual, with more or less going on depending on my energy level.

  I have been working on some larger scale models. At work we are building 1/1 scale modern or sci-fi terrain.
  Once you get used to all the climbing about it is not too bad. 1/4" steel does require something a bit stronger than Zap a Gap.  This particular piece goes on top of a 60' silo, and the crane to lift it rents for about $2000 per hour.  I can't wait to retire..................
  In the work shop I finished the Magic tokens. It gave me a chance to play around with color changes. I kind of like making things in colors. It seems like another step in the right direction.  The bad part is you end up with a pile of Technicolor trash as the new color slowly pushes out the old in a swirling mess.
    Next up is going to be a couple of egg shaped bases to folks rebasing their cavalry and chariot to Age of Sigmar.  Progress will be slow.  I am really behind on even keeping up with stuff already made, and I would love to just make a batch of everything. The limiting factor is time. At least for the near future.
  I ran across a flier for a local convention filled with old stars- famous people
One of the first folks on the list is Lee Majors. As a kid Lee Majors was pretty much the top of the food chain as far as Hollywood stars. First off he was bionic, he fought against a freaking Sasquatch, and his wife was the hottest starlet on TV. It is kind of cool to see him still out there meeting fans.
  Which brings me to another project in the pipeline-
  Let's just say I am as excited as a very excitable person who has something really exciting to get excited about.
  I look at it as a small step towards a Lee Majors lifestyle. OK, a very small step. Just slightly closer to maybe e-mail communicating with someone who actually may have been in the same office with someone who was potentially in contact with an extra on an online fan based series.
  As more things come out I will keep you posted.
  Have a great fall everyone.  The meteors were great last month and the best time of year is right around the corner.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Future is Getting Closer

  Hi folks,

  Well, been super busy of late but still plugging away. 2 jobs is a bit of a blessing and a curse. Little free time but some extra cash.

  Sales are keeping me hopping. I am trying to keep everything available and usually succeeding with at least the popular stuff. I have a couple new molds done, some 32mm round bases and working on some tokens. My kids started playing MTG again and I realized I needed some tokens so I made some.  I will put them in the store when I can. Sorry about the female sci-fi figures. I have simply not had the time to finish the other half of the mold. But I will someday.

  Also planning an oval cav base. Because a lot of people are going to be re-basing. More on that later.....

  Later this fall the new laser cutter will be here. It is a monster and features dual cutters and a 4' X 8' working size. A friend also picked up a sinker EDM machine. Once things get sorted that tool will be in the arsenal as well.

  I have been active in the maker movement.  This is pretty nice and even though I am still working on my projects solo the collaboration is allowing people to share tools.

  The point of all of this is that in about 2 years I plan on leaving my outside job and retiring to tinker in my shop full time. With access to 2 CNC machines, an injection molder, a 3D printer, a giant laser, welder, torch, and an EDM machine.  Unfortunately I can never hire any employees, as per the dictates of my local government overlords. I am allowed to have a "no impact" home based business. If they catch me with employees they may throw me to the sharks- meaning changing my tax status and the inevitable bloodbath and the hands of the school tax board.

  So, be patient. Right now I am simply happy making what I can. This week sees me shipping almost 200 packs of bases. So for the record I am announcing that I have beaten the system.  Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen and if there is any way I can help others via the maker movement I intend to.

  In local environmental news, deer have eaten my entire grape harvest, and muskrats have dug holes in my stream and drained my pond. I wish those snakes would come back and eat them, but alas I think they have all perished at the hands of my marksmanship. I promise not to kill them ( any more)  if they just come back and eat those stupid rats.

  Which brings me to the future. I need to think long term and try to look at trends and predict what would be popular in the 2 years from now when I have time.

  So I have been slowly digesting this whole "Sigmar" incident. My reactions were pretty typical, from the initial projectile vomiting to the eventual waking up in a fetal position miles from home with no knowledge of how I got there.

  Overall the ambition is quite brave. Not a lot of companies would make such sweeping changes. Some of the concepts are simply revolutionary. Just throw down and have fun. The company simply declared all out war on the tournament scene. I have to agree to some extent as I have seen what people can do to twist logic in order to win. Maybe they got tired of being beaten up on forums by players demanding they balance their game. Maybe they are just saying-" Balance this!" and throwing up the 2 fingers.

  It does really put the game in the hands of the player, and that finally made me come to grips with the ideas and think that what they did was remarkable. It is totally up to you how and what to play. I actually might like it. Even though on the surface it sounds utterly horrible. I mean really, really dreadful.  I am buying Kings of War, just in case my initial reaction was correct.

   Let's take a moment and look at the future and see what it will be like if this trend continues...........

    This picture is of a possible game of 10th edition. Scale creep is a little more noticeable as you can see from the older mini placed in between the battling Norsicanauts.  (A new faction for this edition). Army sizes are smaller, coming in at 1 figure per side. The guy on the left is a Skull Blood Laceration, and the fighter on the right is a Scabby Blood Skull Smash Face Stab-master Arson. And in an industry first products will come with financing options similar to other premium products like Ferrari. You will have to insure your army until it is paid off.

  ( If you want to find the most inventive names, I once again refer you to those witty girls of women's roller derby-

   The current standard is 4 pages of rules and 600 pages of exceptions and special rules. (Sounds like a bill from congress in a way).  In the future even this will be more streamlined. There will be only one rule of 10th edition, and that is there are no rules.  None.

  However, special rules will be much more plentiful. As in there will be an infinite number of them. Players will be allowed to shout at any time during the game and create a special rule in the moment. Simply by saying the words "special rule" before stating the new rule.  As such the game will be a lot more fun and laughs and no 2 games will ever play the same.  In the end the players will create a story that will be a lot of laughs. If the current version is a "beer and pretzels" game the next version will be a lot more fun when other states have adopted Colorado style drug laws.

  So that is a glimpse of the future. More of us guys flying under the radar and keeping our heads above water any way we can.

  Have a great weekend and keep trying to beat the system.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Back on the Diving Board

  Hello again everyone.  Well it has been some time since I wrote anything about goings on, so I figured I should at least quell the rumors of my death.

  First off, I am keeping up with orders and also working a regular job.  It might be a surprise to some that this is still a one person part time operation.  It is not supposed to be, but my talent for alienating folks is damn near miraculous. This will become evident as I proceed to piss in the pool from the diving board once again. Read on.................

   The real issue is mostly I am in a wait and see mode regarding what to do next. I have a type of ADD which causes me to hyper focus on something. I get interested and really immerse myself in a project. This flies in the face of current market trends.  It is no secret to anyone that reads this blog that kick starter is less than my favorite thing. Kick starter is geared toward the other type of ADD person. The stereotypical " Ooh, look a new shiny thing....." type of person. When I was gaming much more than I do now we went through scales and periods with reckless abandon. My ADD requires me to build huge armies, all fully painted and then to prepare extensive campaigns. I build my own Army Builder files if I like a game for crying out loud.  This is not the current state of affairs, where I actually have read about people losing interest in a game before it has even been delivered.
    I remember dropping a couple of hundred bucks on a Flames of War army, painting the entire thing, and playing ONE time before my friends lost interest and raced on to something else. This frustrated me immensely and ever since then I have steadfastly refused to be drawn in to the new and shiny unless I was certain it had long term potential. Eventually I just lost all interest in the constant cycle of consumption without really taking the time to enjoy the purchases.  I want generic stuff that can be used over and over again. ( this is what I try to make also)  My goblins have seen combat in at least a dozen different rules sets, having fled in each end every one of them!
   Which brings me to kick starter. New products are coming out faster than anything I ever could have imagined. Some of them seem really cool. But my brain has simply gone in to shock and shut down. There is too much stuff. Way too much. My brain is defective and is unable to grasp and understand this much stimuli.  I am going to cover my head until this blows over. And it makes no damn sense at all to me.
   I think being a wise old person allows me to explain the facts to young people once again.
  Years ago we had things called credit cards. The slogan was play now-pay later. You could buy all sorts of things and start enjoying them right away. You could figure out how to pay for it later. I was riding in my old black Mustang and the wheels, tires and Hurst shifter were not even paid for. Who cares? I was enjoying it NOW. I got started at Montgomery Wards with a VHS player. And I was watching movies before I ever even thought about paying for it.

  Kick starter lets you pay now and play later. Maybe. Back in the good old days, if you actually got a little carried away with your spending you could hire a lawyer to fill out a couple of forms and file bankruptcy.  Then all the payments went a away and you got to keep all your stuff. Some people actually PLANNED this. A couple would have one person run up a fortune and filling the house with all sorts of televisions and other goodies. That person would file bankruptcy and they would get it all for FREE. Then for the next seven years if they needed credit the other person could borrow. After the 7 year period was up the second person would run up huge debts and file bankruptcy, and the first person now had good credit again and they would switch places.
  The credit card companies accepted all the risk. The consumer was in the driver's seat and calling the shots.
  Compare that to kick starter and you will see a mirror image. Now the consumer is paying up front and taking all the risk. If the project goes bad, the creator walks with a bundle and has no real penalties.  Was this the idea all along? Who knows? 
  Young people have no idea how upside down this is. Seriously, back in my day no one would have agreed to this. Now people do not only agree to it, they PREFER it.  Consumers love kick starter and are voting with their dollars.Millions and millions of them.
   Companies love it too. It offers better than a reward, it offers a PRE-WARD.  It is like dropping a $100 tip before you even get seated at a restaurant.
  My brain has been scrambled beyond the capacity for rational conversation.  I simply have no idea what the hell is going on.
  So, I have been trying to keep my mouth shut, knowing that my opinions are toxic and sure to anger the folks who simply love kick starter.  This post represents my failure to stay shut up. Sorry.  :(

  What would Moe do?

  ( watch that again and check out the follow through. Moe was at his best in that one!)

   As usual there are a couple of personal projects I still mean to get to. Mostly some plastic bits for my old WFB troops. Some contract work is always trickling in as well.
   The big project is to build a new die assembly. The old one is 6" X 6". The new one will be 8" X 8" and feature a side cam action mechanism that will allow for the eventual production of molds with 4 or more parts. This will allow for details on the sides. And hopefully some car models, as well as larger tanks and bits.
  Here is how the cam action works- it uses spring loaded wedges.
  The blue parts are hardened steel and attach to the base plate. Matching wedges on the top side are spring loaded and push in and out when closed against these wedges.
  The other side is pictured here. Again the blue is hardened steel and the green is the base plate. The pink rods are the guides that the blue plates slide upon. As the 2 sides come together it closes.  There is still a lot of work to do on this, and the metal is going to cost $1000. If it works I will be able to make some decent stuff. If it fails I can sell the metal for a couple of bucks and figure it looked good on paper. Learning to accept frequent and epic failures takes some practice but becomes second nature over time.
  I can press 1.9 cubic inches of plastic at a time. If you spread that thin enough it can cover a decent area. Some day I want to really test the limits of what it can do.
  In the meantime we are still racing as often as possible, and I have built a couple of new cars.

  The only thing that really stinks about building custom slot cars is knowing they are going to get the crap beat out of them. You want to talk about melee combat, you should check out a digital slot car race with the maniacs I race against. Imagine if my old Copplestone barbarians actually got scars after each game.  That would be sort of neat but frustrating. I got red paint on the roof of my white Corvette and I got a good idea where it came from.

  Was also at my local game store recently and had a nice chat with the owner. Seems that board games are really big lately. 40K is making a comeback, but other minis are sort of so-so.  I have sold my 40K armies.  The guys I know who used to play sort of rage quit. It would take an act of congress to get them back to playing it.  The odds of getting back in to it are slim to none. I did really enjoy running my Gaunt's Ghost themed IG troops. It did not matter how the game went I just loved seeing them on the tabletop. Someone else now owns them so let's hope they roll well for them.  I have a huge collection of AT-43 troops  rebased for 40K to use for sci-fi games. They are generic enough for many systems.
  I am in the market for a horde Skaven army and a Lizardman army for WFB. If the rumors are true and they are dropping those I got to get them while I can. Then I will have every army from the Ravening Hordes list. A long term goal of mine. (now you can see what I mean by ADD)
  And that is what is going on.  In the morning I am going to be back at cutting molds for the first time in many weeks. Hopefully everything will still work and I can get something new finally in the store. I know it seems like things are moving at a glacial pace, which frankly is a pretty accurate assessment. But the old tortoise and hare story might wind up being true after all.

  It looks like spring is here this week, so I am going to start coming alive like the earth.

  Enjoy folks.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guest writer- Elliot

  Hello again everyone.  It has been some time since I had anything interesting to talk about. Just keeping on with tinkering, making models, slot car racing, reading some books, and wondering what is going to happen with my favorite fantasy game. The rumors of 9th edition are kind of troubling. Actually I am sort of stuck in the past in more ways than I can count and will keep on sticking with old versions anyhow.  I have always intended to build every single army. Lately I have sort of soured on lizardmen anyhow. Just too New World for me.

  So really that is not that interesting.....Work has been keeping me quite busy and currently I am not able to find the energy to carve out the free time needed to venture in to the frigid wasteland of my workshop and set for hours working on anything new.   And there are some distraction that are always going on. Right now the idea of writing and creating an animated movie has captivated me. I watched this crazy movie over the holidays and now making something like this is on my mind.

  This movie was made in Denmark I think and they must do a great deal of cursing. I have always found profanity very amusing, since my first exposure to it in boot camp. My drill sergeant literally cursed about everything all the time. It was one of the funniest times ever.


   So, today I have something interesting from my friend Elliot. He went to a convention on Baltimore called unpub 5.  It is a place for people to display their games and network and find ways to get published. . He had a great time and is an aspiring game designer.  Below is his report:

The Unpub convention was fantastic, a true hidden treasure, that’s been hiding from us for five years. How that happened, I have no idea. All the people there were absolutely fantastic and friendly. If there was any a place to gain inspiration, new ideas or insights, this would be one of them. It was a two day event with prizes for anyone to win. The First day jam was packed with people but no shortage of games to play or people to talk to.

With around 75 tables in 2 rooms, 2-4 games per table and developers sometimes switching back and forth on a table to help improve the lack of table space, there was definitely no lack of games to be seen. I will highlight some of the more unique games I saw or played.

Here is a game with a very unique game play, shoot’em up space ships, a very get in their face bet ’em up with a wings of war style turn sequence created by two very cool retired dudes. There were also some younger creators 2 tables over that had the coolest and fun mecha battle card game, as well as a hexagon parachess like game.

When it comes to unique game play this ,known as the rts game at the moment, takes the cake as there are no turn sequences but hourglasses that count down to the time you may activate a unit again. Units are of course the poker chips which also act as health.

As for the other room I have to say one of my favorite games I played there was known as the sheep game a fantastically simple and blend of what felt like two different worlds of games, the styles were of a deck building game like dominion and a resource grabbing game like Carcassonne. You build fences or mess with sheep with different cards then place your sheep within the fences. A simple and fun game.

For the more hard core gamers, this very pronounced and artistically pleasing game was one of the main attractions. It was magic the gathering meets table top board game, units are placed on the board edge and maneuvered to try and reach the other end to destroy the opponent’s base all the while having magic thrown at them buildings aid or hinder them and other unique units trying to do the same. A fantastic idea I do hope develops as I see great promise for this game.

A fantastic convention, I hope to see unpub convention again next year in the Baltimore convention center.

  Elliot seems inspired so maybe if you are into designing games you might want to check out unpub next year.

  Ok, I will keep an eye out for anything remarkable and then promptly remark on it.  When I was younger I had a UFO encounter, lived in a haunted house and was in close proximity to a ghost, and saw undeniable evidence of bigfoot. That is the Triple Crown of cool things I can assure you.  Since then, NOTHING.  After such a promising start I thought by now I would have landed the Loch Ness monster on 12 pound test and then vanished in the Bermuda Triangle.  Maybe there is still time for all that...............

  Seriously though, things are going pretty well and the future looks quite promising.  Thanks to Elliot for his superb recon work and writing up the report.