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.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Worst Day Ever!

      Fritz was proud of his promotion to tank commander. No Russians in sight, he accelerated across the street toward the cover of a ruined building on the other side. He was confident in his crew and their...


~ I set out to test some modified damage results for vehicle combat in nuts. I never got to. The game ended after the first half turn.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Galactic A-hole Pre-order

     I don't usually do pre-orders. However I just got off the phone with the mold maker and the production molds are finished for the following codes:

VIC-121      British Firing Line W/ Masks     $5.00

     Click the title for a direct link to the product. Any orders for these will ship late next week.

     Here are a few more photos of these guys painted.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colonial British Deck Guns

     I had an inquiry a couple of weeks ago about the British Naval guns I designed for 15mm games a while back. This person scratch builds models in 1:60 (close enough to 28mm for government work) and was looking for some deck guns. I have no intention of producing these designs for anything larger than 15mm gaming, but rescaling them and making them available on Shapeways was an easy fix.

     OK. Not quite that easy. I set aside the project after the first batch of prints arrived. The 3D prints were great, but they were too accurate in scale. This made them impossible to put through a mold and cast reliably. Some parts needed to be beefed up to work right. Disheartened, I moved on to other projects and tucked these files safely away... somewhere... on one of three computers. Yesterday I revised a months old file for a client that needed to be tweaked. Lo and behold... there were the deck gun files in a nearby directory.

     Scaling the guns from 1:100 to 1:60 is a matter of Math. 100 divided by 60 is 1.67. Easy right? These models were checked with the .stl viewer and any problems were corrected. They were then uploaded to Shapeways where the files are run through their preliminary printing checks. This tells you if the file will print at all and if there are walls that are too thin and may cause problems. Some of my walls were still too thin even at the larger scale.

     When I encounter these problems, my first response is to go back to the modeling software and see if I can thicken the problem areas. So I'm doing this and that proverbial light bulb comes on in my brain.

     In my research of 3D printers I learned that the x-y resolution is not the same as the z resolution. Often the z (up/down) axis is a lot more fine tuned. Instead of struggling through the rebuilding of some parts, what if I just switched the print axis?

     Evidently my assumption that a company's printing software would look for the best possible print direction was incorrect. Sometimes there are glitches and sometimes it just prints what you feed into it. So I switched the up axis of the models and they passed the preliminary checks. Granted this is only for Shapeways frosted ultra detail material and not most of the others. But that's the stuff that gives the best surface and finest resolution, so I'm fine with that.

     End of the story is that now there are three British deck guns available on Shapeways for use in 28mm gaming.

     Nordenfeldt 5-barrel gun:

Hotchkiss QF 47mm cannon

Hotchkiss 1 lb. rotary cannon

     Clicking the title will send you directly to the item at Shapeways.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

To the Sound of the Martian Guns

     My first trials with parts printed in Shapeways' frosted ultra detail were a success. For whatever reason I never got pictures of the printed models. But here is a shot of them after they were cast, assembled and primed.

     I did not do a lot of clean up on these before they went into the mold. I had several other models arrive at the same time so I did various levels of cleanup on them ranging from none to about 15 minutes of fine sanding. These were soaked in a Bestine solvent bath and then lightly sanded.

     There are some deck guns on pintles as well, but I haven't had the time to get them on a small deck diorama.

     Anyway, here are a few photos of the painted models.


     These are 1/100 scale models that could be used for any naval cannon you think they'd fit. I'm still designing the crews and deciding how I want them packaged for sale. I'm leaning toward gun packs by type and separate crews. That makes the most sense to me so people aren't locked into purchasing Martians if they have no use for them.

     The Hill Martian command set is also done. They've been available since Cold Wars this year, but I haven't taken the time to make an announcement. So... here they are.

     There are four figures in the pack. The standard is a bare pole. So add whatever flag you like. Mine is printed on paper and attached with a 50/50 glue/ water mix.

     The last VSF item for the day is a small conversion of the British firing line pack. I needed to bulk out a master mold quickly this week and I've been wanting Brits with masks and tanks on them. So we introduce Victoria's Bug Boys.

     I'm planning to have these in production by the end of August. Earlier if the mold maker's schedule allows.

What a Bunch of A-Holes

     This set of Galactic A-Holes should be available between late July and mid August.

     They are sculpted in 1/100 scale for use in 15mm gaming.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Time to Paint

     Even with all of the work and travel going on here this spring I managed to find some time to paint. I'm working on a few orders for clients. One is a 6pt. Viking warband for Saga. Here are the first of the war leaders.

     These are Gripping Beast. The sculpting isn't the greatest (hooves instead of feet and horrendous work on the hands) and it looks like the molds are worn on some of the models. What I like about them are the poses and the ease of painting. They have character and look good on the table top.

     I also managed to finish up one of my favorite packs from Parroom Station. The Martian Stinger, two-man flier, was released sometime last year. I enjoy most of the Parroom Station figures, but these little fliers just grab my imagination.

     I'll be purchasing more to put in the display case at shows and for my own games. I'm currently working on one in blue. Anyone interested in having some painted, please email me at Highlander Studios, Inc.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Spring Break (Part 2)

     During this hiatus from sculpting I made it my goal to do between 1 and 5 hours of physical labor 5 days a week. I built some shelves in the basement and assembled my table saw. There was also a lot of moving things around in the basement on rainy days. During the fairer weather I was busy outside.

     Several years ago a Japanese Knotweed volunteered itself in the corner of our yard. I'm not sure what the actual species is, but it grows literally like a weed and takes over most of the yard within a month. The plant sends out rhizomes and each individual rhizome can grow to about 2 inches in diameter and 8' to 9' tall. It's some crazy shit.

    We've mowed them, pulled them out by the roots, poisoned them several times and they still come back. The largest concentration seemed to be in the area between our parking pad and the neighbor's garage. So... I waged a little personal war and the battle of Knotweed has begun.

     I started by clearing all the weeds in that area. then digging down to get to the rhizomes.

     I got down about 5 inches and found a layer of asphalt. Ok, it was cracked so I started pulling it out. Beneath the asphalt was a layer of concrete. Tougher going, but not impossible. Under the concrete was the original layer of bricks that had paved the whole back area once upon a time. More fun. I also found out that this was where the original owners dumped the slag from their coal boiler.

     Mixed in with all of that crap was the knotweed rhizome and I still hadn't found the bottom of that. I ended up digging down about 20" to 24" to try to get most of it. I removed yards and yards of the stuff and was left with a big trench.

     Our garbage guys won't pick up construction waste. So I made rubble out of all of it and back filled the trench leaving 8" to 10" at the top for the dirt and clay.

     All told I moved about 5 cubic yards of material. Twice. The knotweed is mostly gone, but I still have some work to do to remove the last remaining rhizomes before they spread again.

     The fun project in all of this was to start building a forge on the back pad. I used Rhino CAD to make a rough drawing of what I wanted.

     The bricks were purchased at our local salvage shop. I dry stacked them and decided I needed a 2' x 2' paver to build on. That will allow me to move the forge if code enforcement guys wanted to make a fuss. 

 I did a lot of reading about masonry before I started, but as with all things, theory just isn't the same as practice. It was time to start throwing mortar.

     You can see the other neighbor's knotweed in the background. I got permission to keep that cleared out this summer. Anyway... I doubt that I'll ever become a master mason. But the base is solid, plumb and level. All that is left is to build the form to cast the firebox. I'm also planning to use it as a charcoal grill and that's what I'm telling the code guys if they show up.

     Until the fire box is built, I still get to use the base for one of it's intended purposes.

     It was a pretty fine dinner that night.

Spring Break (Part 1)

     Spring was interesting this year. I took about two months off from sculpting and painting while I dealt with some family, house and yard things. Some things were time sensitive, like getting the garden in and planning my sister-in-law's vacation away from us. Others were things in which I simply wished to indulge.

     The most important project was building the garden boxes and getting the planting done. Susan and I have been reading Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. His plan is pretty simple so we decided to try it. Please note that when I say we on any of these projects, Susan helped fund them, but I did all of the labor. Anyway, here are a few photos of the work as it progressed.

     The boxes are built from 2"x6" framing pine. I had some paint left over from a sea gaming board I made a while ago so they got painted blue.

     We trucked in about 600 lbs. of potting soil, peat moss and compost to fill the boxes. Then they were gridded and planted. The grid provides the spacing for the individual types of plants. Some need a full foot between them, others need 9, 6 or 3 inch spacing.

     We decided to put in tomatoes, hot peppers, green and black beans, spinach and some herbs. The tomatoes and Franken-beans (GMO hybrid seeds) are growing like crazy. The spinach is having a rough time. The herbs are well with the exception of the basil, which bums me a bit since that's my favorite. We've had a lot of rain and some of the plants just don't seem to like too much water.

Black beans, peppers and the ailing spinach.
Tomatoes and herbs.
Franken-beans and more peppers.

     I also got the bug to try growing hops. I ordered two cascade rhizomes and planted one vertically and one horizontally to see which worked better. The horizontal showed sprouts about a week sooner than the other, but both are doing really well.

     All in all, this raised bed gardening took a bit of work and about $200 to get set up. But now I take my first cup of coffee and walk out every day to survey my realm. Five minute of removing any volunteer plants and another five of watering if it hasn't rained recently and the gardening work is done for the day. It's almost as if I'm cheating.