Monday, August 26, 2013

USS Arkansas BB-33 1:1800 (Shapeways)

My latest shapeways order arrived Thursday, so this model went to the front of the line.  I had tried to order twice before, but due to some technical difficulties shapeways could not print it.  I guess 3rd time is a charm.

IMO the designer did an excellent job on this model.  The turrets do not turn like a some shapeways models and it does not have as much deck detail as some others, but she fits in very well with the WotC models in comparison to detail and that is really what it is all about. Squint did do a great job fitting in all the AA gun tubs for such a small BB which gives it great depth.

Since the model represents a modernized USS Arkansas I decided to go with a late war paint scheme as opposed to the early war schemes I like for all my other USN Dreadnoughts.  It was difficult finding a color picture, so I went with what I could find and used the colors based o known camo patterns.

My version:

One thing this designer does that I which all shapeways designers did is he puts that Ships name on the bottom of most models.  I am sure it takes a bit more time and probably adds a few cents to each model, but this would save me a lot of hassle if they all had it.

As mentioned above Squints models general compare very favorable to WotC models.  To show this I took a pic with USS Iowa, USS Washington and USS California.  IMO USS Arkansas fits in very well and has as much or more detail than the WotC models.
Top to Bottom: USS iowa, USS Washington, USS California, USS Arkansas

Overall I am very please with the end result.  Once again the initial grainy appearance of the WSF has completely disappeared using the finishing process I have previously detailed in my other blog entry


Friday, August 23, 2013

X-Wing Wave 3 Just Arrived (Pics of ships, cards and dials)

I have not done any posts on X-Wing yet as the majority of my gaming is historical themed.  This is the only Fantasy/sci-fi game I currently play although I have played a few others in the past.  I am not opposed, just prefer the historical line-up with my limited gaming time.  As mentioned though X-wing is the one exception. 

Like many my age I was part of the Star Wars generation growing up and it is still one of my favorite film series.  Last fall when I returned from overseas a friend suggested I try X-wing out and sign up for the Kessel Run Tournament since it is "a lot like Wings of Glory, but different".  So I did and I have been hooked ever since.  In fact, I placed second in the local Kessel Run tournament and won the Slave1.

Anyway, on to the subject of this post, X-wing Wave 3.  This has been long awaited and finally hit the shelves at GenCon for limited purchase. I did not attend GenCon but heard it was for sale, so on a lark I messaged a friend who was attending to see if he could get me a set.  I was stunned when he replied back last Sunday that he had them in hand and would mail them this week.  They arrived last night and I was able to open them up and take a  first look.
Four Ships in front of the FFG shopping bag
I did not have time yet to do alot of analysis on the different cards and new upgrades.  There is some very cool looking stuff in there.  The Moldy Crow has been referred to as a support ship, and it appears it will live up to that description.  The tie bomber can take a full load of weapons for anyone brave enough to invest that many points in a single ship.

Anyway without dragging this out to long I took some pics of the cards and maneuver dial for each ship, so others can get a feel for what is coming.  I know this is available in bits and pieces elsewhere, but figured it would be nice to have in one place for those that have not seen the ships yet.

I apologize in advance that the pics are not better, but you can get the general idea.
Four ships opened
Lambda Shuttle check out the 0 maneuver
Tie Bomber-This thing can come to the party with a big load
B-Wing-Packs a heavy punch with little evasion
Hawk 290-Brings many support options for your squad
My hope is to give these a test run this weekend if I can find some worth opponents.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shapeways and a new era of miniature gaming

Some time ago I was introduced to Shapeways 3D printing service due to my involvement in a couple of games (War at Sea and Wings of Glory).  As gamers we all have a desire for miniatures that are not yet produced by the traditional gaming companies.  Apparently 3D printing is a solution to that problem.  The issue is 3D printers are very costly, so along comes Shapeways.

As I understand it Shapeways either owns a bunch of 3D printers or out sources their work to 3rd party printers (I suspect a combination of both).  Either way they allow individuals who have knowledge of the CAD software to upload their designs and then print them on demand.  Once a design is uploaded and approved anyone can order it.

The buzz started about Shapeways on gaming forums I am a member as gamers started to turn to it as a source to create new minis or obtain hard to find collectible minis.  I was skeptical for some time and resisted trying it.  Now that WotC has more or less abandoned one of my favorite games, War at Sea, and there have been two new fan produced "sanctioned" card decks I decided to give it a try.

Once ordered the models arrive in about 10 days give or take with a flat shipping charge of $6.50 no matter how many models you order.
Two orders placed close together arrived on the same day
WOW, am I impressed.  The minis do not come pre-painted and do require a little work.  You can order products in various materials which increases the detail, but also how fragile it may be.  So far I have only ordered white strong flexible (WSF) which when it first arrives appears to have a grainy texture. 

First Shapeways minis I ever ordered upon arrival

After some trials I can now produce minis that are hard to tell apart form the factory made ones WotC produced and in most cases the detail is much better.  Most importnatly it is a means to get models that are playable in the game that no comapany has produced or are not easily proxied with existing models.

This is the basic process I currently follow to produce my desired results:

Some of the products I use
1. Brush the model with a soft bristle tooth brush to remove all excess material that may be present.

2. Blow of the model to ensure all residue is gone.

3. Brush on two heavy coats of matte varnish (Currently use Vallejo).

4. Spray on gloss coat of clear finish (currently use Rustoleum)

5. Spray on Gray primer (Again use Rustoleum)

6. Paint desired colors

7. Apply black wash to desired affect

8. Spray on Gloss coat

9. Dry brush to desired affect

10. Spray on 1-2 coats of Tester's "Dull coat" matte finish

Step 1 and 2 complete and models sorted with their stat card
Step 3: Two coats of Matte Varnish applied
Step 4&5: Gloss Coat and then Primer applied top and bottom
Here are some completed examples:

Super Yamato "Tsushima"
B-14 Flying Fortress
HMS Roberts (Monitor)
Once completed using the above method the Shapeways models looks and feel just like the WotC factory produced ones.  I will admit a very small amount of detail is probably lost due to the many coats of varnish and primer, but this completely eliminates the issue of the model having a grainy finish that some complain about.

Obviously this is not for everyone.  If you have no desire to paint what so ever than 3D printing is not for you.  The process is pretty easy now that I have it done.  I can get a batch of models to the prime stage in one evening.  Then I can paint to completion several at a time.

Here is a video on how it all works:

My guess is many will have questions about cost.  So far I have found the cost comparable more or less than most WotC models.  In some cases they are much cheaper due to the collectible nature of the WotC models.  A few I have avoided because the cost seemed a bit high to me.  Over time my guess is the costs will start to come down as the 3D printing process is further refined.

Later on I will likely replace some of my duplicate WotC models with Shapeways and sell the WotC version which will cover several shapeways models due to the highly collectible nature of some of the WotC models.

In the end I am very happy with the results and 3D printing has opened up a entirely new realm of possibilities for my gaming.