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, September 15, 2013

Robbie Zombie

     When Ed at Two Hour Wargames asked if I'd like to sculpt some figures for an All Things Zombie Indiegogo campaign, I jumped at the chance. One because I like zombie games. Two because it was a chance to get involved with the nuts and bolts workings of a crows funding campaign. And three because I really like working with Ed. So off we went.

     The basic plan was to sculpt 5 survivors, 5 zombie versions and 5 other zombies. There were some stretch goals added. We reached one for some urban fantasy figures, which really got me excited.

     The I did a test piece (actually a set of two pieces) way back in December of last year as a sample. This first survivor and zombie set was a military type with a SAW.

     The next four sets I was able to sculpt during the fund raising period. We did a hunter, a business woman, a female ganger and police officer.

     These were sent to the mold maker early on. You can see the sets of metal masters here.

     For the other set of zombies we decided on six instead of the usual grouping of five figures. These were to be one smart zombie with a shotgun and five more random types. For several years friends of mine have been telling me to make zombie versions of my Rednecks. This was the perfect opportunity.

     So Zeke became the shotgun wielding smartie.

     Mitch, Darla and Robbie became three of the others.

 And two other random zombies were added.

     For the stretch goal Ed wanted a werewolf,

     a pair of urban spell casters,

     and my favorites, the urban vampires.

     I'm happy to say that sculpting wrapped up last week and these last eleven figures were sent off to the mold maker. We should be well on target for our October delivery. Depending on his schedule we may even be a few weeks early. Fingers and toes crossed, people.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

One Down. Five Hundred Thirty Projects To Go.

     Every now and then a project comes along that is just so cool that you're not sure if you can do it justice. Clear Horizons' Hell Divers was the latest for me. Here are a couple of the images sent to me in an introductory email query from Harold at Clear Horizons.

     I loved the concept art. But as with most of my sculpting, the problem would be how to translate the details to 15mm reality. About two weeks of deliberation went into the decision of what details to leave in and what forms to simplify to scale these down into identifiable Hell Divers. My skill with the putty only allows for so much. The physical properties of the putty only so much more. Mold making and casting add even more constraints. My job is to balance all of these aspects as well as I can to create the impression of the original concept.

     I started with the head and the three body forms I would use to build the completed line of figures. The weapon and backpack were designed at the same time so I wouldn't need to sculpt them over and over.

     These were sent to the mold maker to be cast. I was really happy with these basic parts. Here are the masters in metal.

     Metal parts in hand, the design process starts all over again as I decide how to attach the weapons, heads, and arms. This involved a lot of drilling, some gluing, and a good bit of swearing as pieces dropped from my fingers and onto the floor. I worked on two at first so I could get a feel for what the process of completion would be.

Hell Diver Command

     Here you can see the rest starting to take shape.

     Once the first couple are done and the sculpting is worked out, it's just a matter of repeating the process until all of them are completed. There are eight basic troopers.

Kneeling Hell Divers
     Harold started off the project wanting command, rifles, and SAWs. But a few more types were added as the project progressed.

Kneeling SAW
Crouching SAW
Sniper Team
AT Weapons
     The backpacks were left as a separate piece to be added or not as the end consumer wished.

     So you can see a little bit of the progression from start to finish. The final sculpts are not exact copies of the concept art., but are they faithful enough to the idea? Sales will tell.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Long Time Gone

     Yeah... it's been a while since my last post. I've been doing a bit of traveling, a bit of reading and wrapping up a few sculpting projects. But most of that time I've been immersed in a new passion or two. Or three.

      I was taking a break from sculpting one night, checked FaceBook and followed the rabbit down the hole. The rabbit being an ad for making your own solar panels from parts. That, in turn, led to solar heaters made from styrafoam, plexiglass, aluminum foil and pop cans. Which somehow led to the Gingery books on building your own metal shop from scrap. And so on to making your own forge from a brake drum. I finally came to rest on a new recipe for paper mache.

     So there I was with a head full of new information that just begged to be tried out.

     I can't say that I'm a prepper. I simply don't have the overwhelming doom and gloom gene. But I do think some rough times are coming and we need to start getting back to our industrial and agricultural roots and re-learn some survival skills before the government and reliance upon technology breeds them out of us.

      I've always had a fascination with bootstrap video games where you build, beg, borrow or steal everything you need. Two of my favorites are Minecraft and A Tale In the Desert. Now this may seem a total non-sequitur, but bear with me.

     Minecraft is a free form sandbox game where you start with nothing and build the things you need to get or make other things that you want. Surviving that first night is still my favorite part. ATITD is similar in that you start with nothing, gather materials and build, But it also adds a social and political element. Some things you simply can't do by yourself and you need to enlist others to help out. Very interesting game dynamics. The players even create their own legal system.

     So I spent more time playing these games than any reasonable person should. But while I was doing it, I was considering what it would be like if we had to bootstrap our society after the zombie apocalypse. Ok. I really don't believe it will be a zombie apocalyse, but substitute any noun-cause-of-social-disruption you please for zombie. The problem (or maybe the blessing) of spending a lot of time thinking about something is that I usually start meeting people or finding information that relates to what is on my mind. Seemingly happenstance, but we all know better... right?

     Back to the latest obsessions. I purchased the first Gingery book, The Charcoal Foundry, read it and started gathering materials. My first purchases were some tools for black smithing since I'm going to need to do a little work to make the tools I want for the foundry.

     I did some calling and searching on the web for some other items. I decided that for the basic ingot mold for left over melts I wanted a cast iron muffin pan... er... ingot mold. I found one on my trip to visit friends and family a few weekends ago. It was the largest expense to date at $35. It had twelve cavities and shapes that I wanted rather than ears of corn, ovals or circles would have worked. But this was very similar to the one I had seen on line for $25 plus shipping.

     The shell of the furnace is built from a 5 gal steel pail. Most of these have been replace with plastic. So instead of buying one full of driveway sealant or ordering one online, I decided to go with a 6 gal pail.

     The handle will need to be removed from the top and the U bolts inserted into the sides of the lid for easy lifting. I'll also need to cut a hole for the tuyere (the air inflow) and a hole in the lid for the flue. My next decision is to buy refractory mix for the lining or to make my own. I'm leaning toward making it for the learning experience as well as a substantial cost savings.

     I have wood for the sand casting frames. I'll need to check with the die and casting place down the street to see if I can get any used casting sand to recondition. I'm leaning toward making that myself as well, though, because the experience is the thing here.

     Anyway... that's what I've been up to. I've also been working on Clear Horizons' new Hell Divers figures and wrapping up the last five ATZ Indiegogo figures to send to the mold maker this week. More on those later this week or early next.