Welcome to the Highlander Studios blog.

I won't promise any earth shattering revelations here. What I will be trying to do is post some new products as I release them, share some thoughts on gaming and show some pics of games and other stuff that I enjoy. So come in and make yourselves at home.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Headless Soccer Team

     I had the pleasure of doing more soccer players for a client this last month. These are still a nice stretch for my skills and I'm learning new things each time I work on one.

     I don't have to exaggerate the muscle masses so they take a more delicate hand than usual.

     The poses are mostly from photos of players in motion. The goalie pose was described to me and adapted from another figure.

     The sockets were all made from the same head. When I do the other heads the bottom of the necks will all be fitted to the original pose. Things should fit together well for end user assembly.

     It's been fun working from real people instead of drawings and sketches. I wouldn't want to (and couldn't) do it all of the time, but it has allowed me to get back to my roots in fine art for a bit.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Custer Buster Part 2

     I wanted to get a few shots before any of the detailing was done. So here are the photos of the final underpinnings.

     The arm, head and chest are bulked up and the approximate locations of the the cuff, hairline and neck muscles are sketched in.

     This piece is made to be viewed from the front and doesn't hold a lot of visual interest from the sides. However in this view you can better see the angle of the head and inclination of the chest.

     The back isn't as interesting as the front, but there is still some interesting positive/ negative space stuff going on.

     After sitting with this for a couple of days. I can see the bust mounted on a longer irregular piece of driftwood, a branch or an old fence post. I like the look of the square plinth in the sketches, but the stretched, irregular base may work better with the bust. The beauty of having these cast is that I can experiment with several options and keep all of the ones I like.

     Now on to the final detailing. I've not uses Apoxie Sculpt before so this will be a good learning experience. I'm three hours into the project at this point. I'm estimating I have a good thirty to forty to go.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Custer Buster Part I

     For several years I've wanted to get back into making larger sculptures for art and display purposes. Don't get me wrong, I love creating miniatures for gaming. It's a 13 year old D&D player's dream come true. But I also just like to create larger works for the joy of it. I've played with wood, stone, clay and mixed media in the past. Now I'd like to take the skills I've been practicing in my miniatures sculpture and use them to create larger works for shows and galleries.

     In the library of my home town there was a bronze by Carl Kauba titled How - Kola. I would spend a lot of time just walking around this piece and viewing it from all angles.

     There was also a local jewler who had a couple of shelves of similar works; some in bronze, some in German porcelain. The subjects were not just western. They also included a lot of fantasy pieces. I fell in love with them all.

     The other day I was doodling while I was watching TV. I was thinking about larger sculpture, bronze casting and a particular piece of cover art from the Custer Reader that I like. The prospect of a full figure is daunting so I started thinking about busts. That would allow me to sculpt in a larger scale while keeping the overall size of the piece within reasonable bounds.

     A simple sketch with notes regarding the composition and basing was the result. I decided on 1/6 scale; large enough to show good detail and be seen from a distance, but also small enough that it wouldn't take forever to complete. I broke from the traditional bust because I wanted the arm extended. The mass of the left shoulder and the upward sweep on that side should balance the composition.

     About 3:00 AM I found myself wide awake, mind going in circles about the project. I raced upstairs to my computer and started manipulating the cover art image to use it as a scale card behind the figure as I worked. I printed it, made a few notes and went to the third floor to start gathering materials.

     3:30 AM found me in the basement drilling holes in some wood for a temporary base and gathering wire, aluminum foil and Sculpy modelling clay to start work. The armature was built from some 14 gauge steel wire that I had been using to make mail. I wrapped some aluminum wire around that to give some grip. The foil that bulked up the chest, head and arm was held in place by more wire. By 4:30 AM I was ready to add the first of the clay.

     The oven preheated while I was smoothing clay over the armature. It was ready to bake about 5:00 AM. I was finished for the night and finally able to sleep at 5:30. Not a bad couple of hours of work.

     I'll add another layer of Sculpy to finish bulking out the piece and use Apoxie Sculpt for the final detail work. I'll post updates as I go so you can watch the work progress.

     I'm considering several options for having this cast. Ultimately, bronze would be the coolest. But I'll explore ceramic and porcelain as well and even cold cast bronze (resin). If I work it right I can do all of the above to allow several style and price options for the end consumer. I have several leads to explore, but if any of you have specific information that would help, please don't hesitate to speak up.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

5150 Monkey Boys - 15mm Zhuh Zhuh Mercs WIP

     Ed at Two Hour Wargames has been shooting me ideas for figures to populate New Hope City. The Zhuh Zhuh list alone is a bout as long as my arm. I put the project to simmer on my brain's back burner for a while. Here's what's cooking so far.

     I decided to make 5 figure packs of residents of New Hope City. The first denizens will be the Zhuh Zhuhs since there aren't a lot of stand-ins available on the market. And they have a certain appeal to me for sculpting. The first pack will be Mercs.

     This pack will include 1 merc leader, 2 mercs w/ assault rifle/ SMG, 1 w/ shotgun and 1 heavy water cannon/ energy weapon.

     This one still needs some work, but you can see where I'm going with it. I plan to have these available at the end of September.

     In other news loosely related to 5150, I've wrapped up the Carolee Drive figure for QWIK: Game of the Wastelands.

     Ed and I discussed making her a Qwik, but it was decided to put her in the Drive position. So she has a stick, fairly heavy armor and a helmet. The overall look was inspired by the Lingerie Football League. I was researching football pads and these images of yummy women kept popping up.

     Here are the stats for QWIK: SAV: 7, STR: 5, SPD: 7, PRO: HA, Signature: Agile, Brawler

    She'll be put into production with the next round of molds. So I hope to have her available for sale by the middle of September. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Space:1889 and Beyond Sample

     The first book of the new Space; 1889 and Beyond series launches within a week. As part of spreading the word, bloggers who contacted Mr. Frankham-Allen were sent a partial text to post. So I give you...

By Andy Frankham-Allen

It was impossible! Aether flyers were not, by definition, designed for a crew of one, a fact that Annabelle Somerset felt with ever increasing dismay as she raced from the control to the navigation station. Just getting the Annabelle (yes, God bless her uncle, he had named the flyer after her) out of the gorge had been hard work. Starting up the boiler single-handed, then rushing the length of the flyer to the control room to check the instruments to make sure the water was creating enough steam, then back to the engine room at the rear of the flyer to set out the rocket engines her uncle had designed especially to combat the awkward gravity of Luna.

She cursed Tereshkov once more, and squeezed her eyes shut for a brief moment.

 I have to do this, she continued to tell herself. She had survived much worse. Annabelle almost laughed at that. Living for two years amongst Geronimo’s band of Chiricahua Apaches had tested her when she had been a mere slip of a girl. She had survived that, and she was certain she would survive this. That she had no choice was beyond question; there was no other left who could get the message to Earth. Uncle Cyrus’ life was in the balance and she could not allow herself even a moment of weakness in her endeavour. She had let her parents down, and she refused to let history repeat itself with her uncle. 

She was not a little girl anymore, and the Russians be damned!

Instruments were laid out before her on the navigation station; some of standard design like the orrery, a mechanical analogue of the Solar System, and an astrolabe which allowed precise measurements of the planets positions; others were of her uncle’s making, and these she did not even know the names of. They were recent creations of his, and her decision to join the expedition had transpired late in the day, ill affording her the time to study these new inventions. Annabelle was no expert at reading the standard instruments, but she understood enough from having watched Blakely at the station to ascertain the current position of the Annabelle. The flyer was barely a kilometre from attaining a low lunar orbit.

She scrambled across to the control station once more, almost colliding with the bulkhead as the flyer shook around her. The damage sustained to the aether propeller by the Russians was too much. When she had first set her eyes on the propeller she had been certain she would never be able to navigate the flyer, despite the relatively unscathed nature of the aether propeller governor. She was fortunate the Russians did not recognise the governor for what it was, or they most certainly would have found a way to remove it from the Annabelle, and if not the whole apparatus then certainly they would have taken the diamond that served as the aether lens. Without it the governor would have been less than useless. 

She gripped the aether wheel, a small ratchet-operated wheel that controlled the aether propeller at the rear of the ship, and turned it slightly. Annabelle looked out of the window and was elated to see the distant shape of the Earth, and before it, barely a speck in the depth of space, Her Majesty’s Orbital Heliograph Station Harbinger.

When she had first happened upon this plan with K’chuk she had hoped to be able to pilot the flyer to Earth; it was a difficult task, one fraught with many dangers, but the odds were not insurmountable. Upon seeing the damage rendered by the Russian okhrana, Annabelle knew she would have to adapt her plan. Obtaining a lunar orbit was the best she could hope for, but it would be enough to put the Annabelle in a position relative to the Harbinger. It was operated by the British Empire, and that served her purposes perfectly, as the help she required was located in England and not her native America.

She turned to the heliograph apparatus and was just about to start tapping in her coded message when her eyes espied a most terrible image through the port window. Annabelle’s finger paused over the key, and her eyes stared wide. Its iron clad surface reflected the light from the Sun, rising from Luna like the Great Beast of Hell.

“No,” Annabelle hissed. “This cannot be the end.”

So, she determined, it would not be. The Russian flyer was closing in, its gun ports no doubt opening as she looked, her mind trying to catch up with the increasing beat of her heart. Uncle Cyrus’ flyer was not a warship; he was an inventor, and his flyer echoed that. It was designed for exploration, not for battle. Any armaments it did have were minimal, and even if Annabelle were able to get to them in time, she doubted greatly their effectiveness against a fully armed Russian ironclad. 

Annabelle turned away from the approaching flyer and focussed her attention on the heliograph before her. She began typing out her message, praying that the orbiting station would pick it up and relay the message with haste.

Space: 1889 © & ™ Frank Chadwick 1988,2011
Logo Design © Steve Upham, 2011
‘Journey to the Heart of Luna’ is © Andy Frankham-Allen & Untreed Reads LLC, 2011

Space: 1889 & Beyond is published by Untreed Reads Publishing, and the first series begins late August 2011. You can now buy the season pass, and save 25% directly from;

Friday, August 12, 2011

Space: 1889 Wilderness Adventurers

     I'm still trying to strike a balance between getting the house ready to sell and getting the real work done. So work has slowed a bit more than I like while I paint 7 rooms and start pointing the foundation. However, I did get the other two wilderness adventurers done this afternoon and I have a good start on the two new poses of steppe tiger.

     The first is a great white hunter loosely based on Alan Quatermain.

      The second is an explorer based on Stanley.

      In other news, I'll be running some games at Fall In in the New Holland room. Same game, once on Friday night and once Saturday night. Here's the blurb:

Last Stand on Mars

Having survived his ignominious defeat at the Little Big Horn, Custer had become somewhat of a problem for the War Department. He was quietly demoted to Captain and transferred to the 5th Cavalry. Custer shipped out for Mars with the 5th in 1886 seeking to regain his former glory. A routine reconnaissance to investigate rumors of a Martian uprising finds Custer and his company once again surrounded by angry natives. Can he break out or hold on until the relief column arrives? Or will history repeat itself?

Rules: Modified Two Hour War Games
GM: Rodrick Campbell
6 Players
Duration: 3 hrs.
Sponsor: Highlander Studios, Inc.
Children with parent
     I'll be using as many of the new Space: 1889 figures as I can to fill out the Martian troops and mounts for the U.S. Cavalry. I probably will not have the cavalry troopers sculpted by then, but with a bit of luck and some hard work, there should be an impressive showing of other miniatures.

     The last item I have is to point you to some 54mm figure sets I have for sale. I am finally admitting that I just don't have the time to do all of the projects I want. So things have to go to help finance the new stuff. Take a look and see if there is anything that interests you.

     Now... back to work.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So you think you can dance like a zombie?

     Let me start by saying that my fiancee thinks I spend entirely too much time thinking about the coming zombie apocalypse. Granted, I question the defensibility of most buildings when I see them and I wonder how stable a mechanical lift would be as a firing platform. Or how many zombies it would take to knock it over. But most of my research has value for surviving most forms of apocalypse or natural disaster. You know, the important stuff like herding pigs for methane collection or collecting waste from restaurant grease traps to make bio diesel to run the generator. And of course you need to make lye from wood ash to help purify the bio diesel and make soap from the glycerin by product. All useful stuff, no?

     OK, so I hope it never happens, but in the meantime, I've started taking that walk down the literary path. I want to write stories. Short stories for now, but eventually novels as well. The last year has been filled with the absorption of information on writing. Some of the books have been really fun to read, some have sucked and some were dry, but filled with a lot of good information. The latest on the nightstand is Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. I'm not far into it but the last chapter was about finding ideas. And, man, has it set off a storm inside my tea cup brain.

     Tonight's barnstorm came from America's Got Talent. Yeah, yeah, I know... but it's something Susan and I do together while she winds down from work. And TIVO is amazing. We watch the cool stuff and speed through the garbage. Anyway... the act was the West Springfield Dance Team or some name close to that. They do dark, gothic, zombie-esque dance interpretation. Not a bad performance but I started thinking. What if...
     It has long been thought that moving like a zombie while among them could actually prevent or greatly reduce the chance of a zombie attack. This is especially effective when the slow, shambling movements are combined with the scent of death and decay. Shortly after the current necrofilovirus outbreak became less of an immediate threat, local clubs began to have zombie nights. Patrons would dress as zombies and go bar shambling. Some of the more enterprising establishments held contests for the best costume, most convincing moan and other themes relating to zombies. These became quite popular as a way to blow off some steam and poke fun at a very serious fact of daily life.

     The current trend for thrill seekers started when some of the less discriminating businesses started hiring wranglers to capture the living dead to provide atmosphere in their clubs. Zombies in cages or behind glass became the norm in the seedier edges of town. When one chained zombie got loose and wandered toward the dance floor, a seminal change occurred in the whole club experience. A quick acting bouncer put the zombie down before anyone was bitten and the club was closed by the authorities until an investigation was completed. Rather than scare custom away, the incident seemed to fuel their desire for risk taking. The club was filled to capacity every night after for a month.

     It was just a matter of time before an unscrupulous owner opened the first zombie dance corral. Customers paid a premium to dance in an enclosed space with zombies. At first they were de-clawed and wore mouth restraints for the patron's safety and there were very few incidents. But some wealthy customers convinced a manager to stay open after hours for a private dance. This became a true test of the whole move like a zombie theory. Some were less than successful. However, their deaths have furthered zombie survival research. For example, we now know that zombie parts are much more reliable than last month's roast beef science experiment for masking scent. And bathing less than a week before a dance is a dead giveaway.

     All of this has led to the drafting of new local, state and national legislation regulating and restricting the presence of zombies in public places. But until the laws are passed, zombie wrangling is on the rise and has become an extremely lucrative profession for those with the knack. Television viewers also eagerly await the first season of  a new reality TV competition, "So you think you can dance like a zombie?"

     So it's just an idea with a bit of flesh on the bones. But I think it can be added to a story somewhere down the road. Can't wait to see what new ideas pop up tomorrow.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Space:1889 Adventurers and Steppe Tiger

     I just wrapped up the third and fourth figures for the American adventurer set.

     One female adventurer with repeating rifle. Nothing too outlandish here.

     One male adventurer with two pistols. This one is loosely based on the Custer Reader cover. I left one of the pistols plain. The other with the flaring can be an electric gun/ raygun/ whatever. Those who just want a second plain pistol can easily snip the flaring off.

     And last, but definitely not least, the steppe tiger. I'm considering at least one more pose and maybe even a third for the packaging. How many steppe tigers does one need?

     The photos are off to Frank for approval. I should have the third and fourth wilderness adventurers to show on Monday and the London adventurers preview at the end of next week. Then they are off to the mold maker and I start the work for the end of August. Things are moving a bit more slowly than I want, but the project is building up a good head of steam now.