Wednesday, December 30, 2009

By Your Command

Just a quick post of some original series Battlestars and Basestars (and one new series Battlestar that served as a guinea pig). These are from Studio Bergstrom and are for fleet scale battles; I also have his BSG fleet scale fighters after a merry Christmas to me shopping blitz in early December.

These are after painting, before Futuring and Dullcoting. One battlestar (middle) will be the Pegasus, the other the Galactica (left).

I had a good night working through some 2mm miniatures for Kull and Imaro, will post those when I have a good collection to show off, hopefully tomorrow. I've also bought some new storage shelves, to help reduce clutter and minimize anger at having useful things in inaccessible places and useless things getting in my way all the time!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding Findings and Other Adventures in the Local Craft Megastore

First off, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas. I didn't anything on my Xmas list that had a direct bearing on my miniatures hobby, but I did get some nice fringe benefits. First and foremost would be the first in the three part series of Conan audiobooks from Tantor Media. This matches up with the Del Rey edition that restores the original Weird Tales text to Howard's work, and presents them in the order written, rather than in a highly debatable biographical chronology.

I've gone and ordered the two follow-up CD sets, and the Kull set is due out this week. I've been listening to the first set while painting up some 2mm pieces for Kull and Imaro.

I also used some Xmas money to pick up the first volume of the reprinted Kull comics. Besides being able to enjoy Kull in yet another format, I hope to get some inspiration for terrain and scenics.

On that note, while I was blitzing through my bits box last week to photograph odds and ends I'd found (or torn out of stereos), I also took some pictures of some things I've picked up at the local craft megastore, which in my case is Michael's. I know the chain is throughout North America, not sure about the UK or elsewhere. Anyway, it has a lot of stuff that can be adapted to our purposes, and they often have 15 or 20% off your whole purchase or 40-50% off a single item coupons in the local paper. I make use of the bigger discounts for high end items (air brush, cork board, spray primer, gorilla glue), and the smaller but broader coupons for things like these...

These are in the jewelry/bead section, I recommend walking around with a list (of anything) in your hand so it looks like you're a caring, thoughful significant other doing some shopping for the other half. When really you're thinking how great these would look as strange towers or momuments (left and right packets), or VSF ray guns (left and right again, particularly the right), or sand-buried pillars (middle).

Just tonight I went to hit their Boxing Week sale, and while apparently some other wargamers in Peterborough scored all the Christmas trees, I did pick up a packet of findings that will be perfect for the stone tower of Great Zimbabwe, or it's living Nyumbani parallel.

(Side Note: also picked up some really cheap cork board, it was all half price, and some Christmas decorations that are basically disco balls in two or three different small sizes - great space ship material, including at least one Death Star)

Off in the woodcraft section there is a display rack of these. The one on the left could be huts, domed roofs, temples, etc. The ones on the right are definitely huts of greater or lesser dimensions. I've used the smaller ones already in my other African kraal (not pictured here but up in the photo section of the 2mm Yahoo Group).

These are more for larger buildings, or more domed roofs. The one on the left is half a sphere, the other two are straight-sided, sort of yurt-like.

Beyond traditional shapes, these pieces could be used for fantasy scenes or buildings, from giant mushrooms in larger scales (say 28mm) to the strange architecture of Valusia.

And then even stranger structures could be done with these bits. I'll cut off the peg at the bottom before using, but these could be wizard or elven towers (they remind me of the description of the elven cities in the Dragonlance series). Or sci-fi control towers, or laser towers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Things I Learned By Taking Things Apart

Like everyone else I've been collecting bits here and there, but recently I had to dispose of a stereo that was pining for the fjords, and on a whim I took it apart to see if there was anything useful inside. When I'm in a good mode it seems like I see terrain anywhere, so along with what I found thanks to Aiwa, I've included some of my other interesting discoveries and my thoughts on what they'll turn into.

Before I begin, a word of warning on taking apart a stereo - there's a lot of sharp bits! I spent parts of a couple evenings taking it apart and ended up with bloody knuckles both times. Tools used were screwdrivers, pliers, and tin snips.

These could have a number of uses - oil tank targets for 1/600 air gaming, barrels or other containers at 28mm, but my first thought, inspired by things like this, was Victorian Science Fiction (VSF) steam-powered walkers (the giant coffee pot kind). Some of them even have the remains of the connecting wires on the bottom to give them the starts of legs, e.g. the one second from the left.

Any good mad scientist will need coils, so the ones at the front are probably slated for 28mm gaming, but the ones at the back look (to me) like good 6mm turbines, maybe found in the ruins of a power generating station. Good for WWII, modern, or sci-fi.

These were really cool, I have no idea what they actually are, presumably some sort of transformer, but I'm also entertaining there were micro-robotic ants planted in my stereo...

So that's my first couple of thoughts for the five in the middle - giant clockwork ants for 2mm VSF, riding ants for 6mm, pet clockwork ants for 28mm. I like the muted colour scheme they come in, but they could also be bronzed up (or your metallic colour of choice). Legs could just be a few staples still stuck together, maybe angled a bit, done three times to give them their six legs.

They could also be added to ships to turn into VSF space ships, they'd be funky looking engine pods. Turned on their end and keeping the wiring, they look kind of like boilers or water heaters, good for 6mm (or giant ones in 2mm). Added to the coils above, they might also be part of that mad scientist's lab.

The two on thingies on the right are similar, at 6mm they look like they're from sort of piping or wiring system. I'm not sure yet about the ribbon cable at the top, maybe some sort of fencing at 28mm, for this size, I have some narrower cables for other scales. Maybe roofing.

This is the laser mechanism from the CD player, turned on its side like it is here and put into a wall, it would be the interface to a Babbage Engine (clockwork computer), maybe a sentient one.
This photo doesn't capture the indentations on this, which in a former life was the connector for a ribbon cable. In real life, it really resembles a dam face, so it's slated for a 1/600 target scenic. Someone on the 1/600 air combat Yahoo group did a really slick dam target, and I'll be doing something similar, just I'll have my dam pre-made.

There were repeats of a lot of those when all was said and done, but otherwise that covers what comes out of a dead stereo. Now onto other finds.

On the right is a Sensodyne toothpaste cap, I now have a bunch of these to play with. They have a slight ribbing to them about every 60 degrees around, suggestive maybe of pillars or external supports. Perfect for 2mm fantasy temples or palaces, or sci-fi buildings. Maybe I'll add a dome for the roof.

I bought this bottle of orange juice the other day (pulp free "Simply Orange" if you're looking) without paying attention to the cap. Then when I went to pour the first glass I went "hmmmm". It's about 1" high, so in 2mm it could be an enclosed coliseum (again maybe with a domed roof) for fantasy terrain. For modern or sci-fi 6mm it looks kinda like a 1960's public building (Expo '67 anyone?) made of glass and steel. Maybe with a tower rising from it.

"You are young," said the palaces and the temples and the shrines, "but we are old. The world was wild with youth when we were reared. You and your tribe shall pass, but we are invincible, indestructible. We towered above a strange world, ere Atlantis and Lemuria rose from the sea; we still shall reign when the green waters sigh for many a restless fathom above the spires of Lemuria and the hills of Atlantis and when the isles of the Western Men are the mountains of a strange land." (R.E. Howard, The Shadow Kingdom)

So that's some of the setting for Kull, specifically the City of Wonders, Valusia. Lotsa towering buildings, strange architecture, and antiquity. The glue bottles above are on my hit list - once empty their caps are going into the Valusian landscape. The pill bottle cap on the left is another temple or coliseum in-waiting.

The armies swung out of sight around the gem-blazing shoulders of the Tower of Splendor... (R.E. Howard, The Shadow Kingdom)

There's no gaming reason (at least in 2mm) to build the Tower of Splendor and palaces of the king of Valusia, but, but, but, it would be cool. I've sketched out out what the palaces looked like, based on text descriptions and the illustrations in Del Rey's Kull - Exile of Atlantis. So along with bottle caps, I'm collecting anything that could be an imposing tower in 2mm scale. On the left is the end of a ball point pen (conference freebie), on the right is a syringe cap.

For an science education program I oversee, amongst other things, we made frequent use of office water coolers (Greenway), and these are the protective caps from the spouts. About 1" tall. Potential oil tanks for 1/600 targets. Or towers, turrets.

One summer my summer students managed to kill three portable power transformers, and I've saved them for future use. They have a sort of futuristic generator or quonset hut look to them, and obviously the stormtrooper is guarding them for a reason. Use the back end here as the outlet (if a building) or the control area (if a generator).

Was going through my fishing tackle while in a VSF frame of mind and realized I might have a motherlode here for VSF or WWI gaming. VSF and WWI dirigibles and balloons or Vernian VSF rockets. (Caution: This is REAL lead, so even more care is needed than usual when handling)

Like this test VSF balloon, made from a split-shot sinker, rare earth magnet (basket), and beading (connecting "flame).

Other uses for dead pens would be VSF ships/space or regular dirigibles, or REALLY tall towers.

Around the same time I had the eureka moment with the fishing tackle, my deodorant ran out (sorry if that's too much information!). Anyway, looking at it, thinking, I saw some possibilities. The cap, on the left, could be the gatehouse to a 2mm fortification, or a funky manor building (say elven or another culture that is into curves). The rod (centre) that pushes up the deodorant gel looks like some sort of nasty 28mm VSF business, maybe the front of a drilling machine or the barrel of an aether gun. Then while taking that out, I took a look at the bottom of the thing (right). As it happened, I'd been poking around into 18th century India at the time, and had seen photos of this:

Hmmm, yeah, that's it. A 2mm Red Fort gatehouse thanks to Gillette. The shapes don't quite match up as well as I'd initially thought, but I'm only looking to do an impression of the real thing to use for 18th century India or 19th century Mars. Any battles would be occuring in front of the fort anyways (I think, anyway).

FYI, the dial thing was a bugger to get rid of, but after taking the photo, I spent a half hour with tin snips and chewed it up from the inside till it came off.

These are the before pictures, hopefully in 2010 I'll get most of these turned into something.

Happy holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Story So Far, Part III - 6mm WWII

Alright, I know this is two posts in one day, but along with what follows, I have one more I "catch-up" piece I wanted to get up before Christmas and I don't think I'll have time on the 24th. After Christmas I hope to start with current affairs.

WWII is another one of my favourite history subjects, and as I mentioned in my first post, my first purchase when I wanted to get serious about miniatures were some GHQ Combat Commands. Along with historical engagements, I'm interested in playing out some hypothetical battles under the alternative history of WWIII breaking out in 1945 (more to come on the background for that in a future post).

It took me a while to get these first American units done, 16 M4A3 Shermans and various other odds and ends (not all shown here). I have some Russian and British forces on the workbench, then I start on the infantry for all three sides. The rules of choice will be I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! by Too Fat Lardies.

This is just a simple set up from a variety of angles, using some cardboard buildings to provide a setting. After yesterday's experiences in photography, I went without a flash and liked the results better. There is one exception, explained below.

This is a test with the flash back on. I still prefer the darker images without the flash, which I think more reflects how they're seen on the gaming table. But I did want to show off a bit my efforts to muddy and rust them up, which shows better here than in the pic above.

The Story So Far, Part II - 2mm Fantasy with Kull and Imaro

I'm back to catching up with some of my other 2mm plans. I've been a fantasy fan since I read The Hobbit when I was 8 or so, and the Chronicles of Narnia about the same time, or earlier. If I'm remembering things right, I picked up one book or the other because it looked like the other one.

I kept reading on, eventually working around to the literary Conan when I picked up the odd old Lancer paperback while haunting used bookstores. I'd seen the movies as a teenager, but didn't make the jump to the books for a long time. While a fan of the Lancer books, I didn't become a hardcore fan until I hit a motherlode of Robert E. Howard books in a used bookstore in a small town. Someone must have unloaded their entire (incomplete) collection, about 14 books. Less than half were Lancer Conans, the rest were anthologies (e.g. Pigeons From Hell) or other character collections - Tigers of the Sea (Cormac Mac Art), Bran Mak Morn, 3 x Solomon Kane, and...King Kull.

After scoring all this for about $30 (Canadian, probably about $20 US at the time) I worked my way through them. While they were all great - see my short story list in the sidebar to see the impression they made - Kull and his Thurian Age emerged as my favourite. There's something lurking in the atmosphere of the stories that I find really striking, and the shortness of the series leaves only hints for our imagination to wonder at, so I've fleshed out more of the world for my own entertainment purposes, with some help from Dale Rippke's book The Hyborian Heresies. I'll post more about my Thurian extrapolations later.

Through Howard's characters I developed a hankering for sword and sorcery over epic fantasy, and asking around on discussion forums for suggestions of other authors to give me a fix, Charles Saunders and the Imaro series came up.

Before I actually read any of the Imaro books, I'd been on Dale Rippke's now-deceased website that detailed several S&S heroes, from which I scooped up lots of detail on Conan and Kull. He also had an Imaro page, and I printed off the material from there too, including a gazateer, glossary, timeline, and a great 1970's map of Nyumbani, Imaro's continent. It seemed kind of cool, but I wasn't able to round up the books at the time.

A few years later, with Imaro still coming up as a good read, I was able to secure the Nightshade editions of the first two books, and in the last 20 months I've bought the two books Mr. Saunders has published through Lulu, with more to come. The books lived up to their advance billing, it's a fascinating setting completely different than what we've been used to in fantasy for the last century.

So with these two settings and characters, I wanted to immerse myself in them with some gaming opportunities. One way will be "big battle" wargaming in miniature, detailed here, and down the road I hope to add skirmish gaming (bigger mini's though!).

I was originally going to do these in 6mm, but no one has anything remotely matching some of the oddities in either series, particularly Imaro. Kull's oddities are more of my own making, although Frank Frazetta gets blamed for the polar bear-drawn chariots!

2mm will be an easier, but not easy, to convert, particularly for someone of my limited sculpting/detailing/painting skills. The gunkwu (arsinoitherium) will be the biggest challenge, I think it's going to have to be an Indian elephant mod. Most of the rest of the odd mounts (Cape buffalo, rhinos) will be based on Irregular's IK9 (Orc Wolfriders), with the eland-like mounts and terror bird riders (Kull's Kaa-U) will be straight cavalry mods. After all that, zebra-riders will be a breeze!

So like everyone in the hobby, I always have lots to do! These are the Imaro and Kull works in progress, except for the ships in the bottom right, that's another project (well...actually they're for naval Thurian Age gaming). Missing from the picture are about 14 more bases of Lemurian archers, stored in another box.

These photos turned out a bit pants, I need to figure out how to do these better. Anyway, this is Kull, Brule, Kelkor, and the Red Guard, which I've postulated is a subset of the Red Slayers, Valusia's mounted elite. The main body of figures are Irregular's Winged Hussars (RBG15) from the Renaissance line, Kull and Brule are the Barbarian General figure (ABG11).

Across the Lost Lands lies Old Acheron, the forgotten home of the Giant-Kings, pale giants commanding powerful magic. These are 2mm "giants" (IKF2), which leaves them bigger than they should be (assuming a 9' tall "giant-king", they should be 3mm); however, I'm taking a gamer's license with these, since if they did appear on the battlefield, they'd be like Tiger tanks - big in everyone's mind.

The centre and left figures will be sorcerers, the one on the right will be a general, with his messengers/aides beside him on horseback. His 'club' will be painted up as a sceptre, the sorcerer in the middle will have his 'club' become a bolt of flame/lightning.

The Picts' contribution to the Royal Army of Valusia, these are proper troops as opposed to mercenaries. This is the command stand.

Almost nothing is known in the canon about Thule, other than they are a northern nation and part of the Seven Empires. I'll go into them more in future posts, but included in their armies are the fearsome Imperial War Mammoths. This is just one stand, I only ordered three of them as a test (dumb test, I already knew they were cool...). If you look closely, you should be able to see their footprints in the snow, hopefully I can pull this off nicely when I paint the base up.

So that's it for Kull for now, I couldn't get good pics this time around of the reindeer chariots of Thule or the Acheronian war chariots (think Assyria).

On to Imaro!

My only completed unit, five stands of Cushite war lions and their handlers. There haven't been any large battles in the Imaro series to say if this is how they'd be used, but it seems like a good counter to the izingogo of Naama. An older version of the Nyumbani Wikipedia page had details about trained/magical black lions as well, used in ancient times to counter the azuth (saber-toothed ape-bull hybrids!), and while this has since disappeared, Mr. Saunders has said that they are still valid, so that will be a future war lion unit - I figure things are going to get bad enough for Cush and her allies to pull out all the stops.

"Huge, ungainly bodies writhed in arcane ecstasy beneath voluminous robes of iridescent cloth. The heads of the Erriten, human in proportion and thus absurdly small atop the sorcerers' gargantuan bodies..."

"The bodies thus revealed were horrible to behold: an unholy agglomeration of columnar legs; long, sticklike arms; and bloated torsos covered with tentacles that glowed with a green light that matched the bolts blazing from the spheres." (both quotes from the prologue to Imaro: The Trail of Bohu)

So that's the description of the Erriten, the chief earthly villains of Nyumbani, and this is my effort to build one - and for this I'm sure I will only need one, they're that BAD. The figure is actually an Irregular 2mm ent (IKF3) with a small piece of spare pewter put on his "head" to give him a new, "absurdly small" head. I've also tried to cut down the thickness of the limbs a bit. The iridescent cloth and writhing tentacles are going to have to depend on my paint job, although the "leaves" of the ent will give them texture.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Story So Far, Part I - Aircraft

One of my abiding interests has always been aircraft, and much of my family spent WWII in the air or otherwise involved in the air war. One grandfather worked at de Haviland Canada, the other was a bomber navigator. Two of my one grandfather's brothers were air crewmen on bombers in the RCAF, a brother of one grandmother was also in the RCAF (communications, I believe). Another close relative was a flight instructor in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Having said that, aircraft and their role in war are fascinating in and of themselves, from WWI up to the modern day (although unmanned aircraft aren't too jiggy). As much as they may look like unflyable crates today, those first aircraft were the F-22's of their time, the most sophisticated machines man could make.

So, where does that leave me in miniature? I love the 1/600 aircraft of Tumbling Dice and Oddzial Osmy (though I can't spell that without looking it up!), and I've gone in that direction for WWII and beyond. My two current periods are (1) late WWII to Korea, mainly for a hypothetical WWIII in 1945, and (2) helicopters supporting land battles. So in the latter case the 1/600 helicopters will be used with the 6mm (1/300) land forces; the scale difference shouldn't be noticeable since the action on the ground is the main thing.

For WWI I went with 1/300, mainly because there is much, much more available, and the smaller WWI aircraft would probably be mentally unstabling to paint. So far I have a few C-in-C aircraft in hand and painted, as well as two Goblintooth aircraft that came with my copy of Hostile Aircraft. My main source will be Navwar/Heroic and Ros, although they've just changed ownership so I'll wait till that settles down. I'll fill things in with C-in-C, Irregular, and Skytrex.

My first adventures in WWI were C-in-C Hanriots, done in Italian livery:

They weren't too bad to do, once I got over putting them together (more superglue ended up on me than the planes). These are on my standard aircraft bases, which I'll discuss below. I've decided the C-in-C planes will be kept on these bases, rather than stored on nails, as I don't like handling and moving them with my clumsy fingers.

Main lesson learned: It's going to take time and touch-ups.

Bonus lesson: I primed everything before I attached the upper wings and this was a mistake; the two parts fit together when raw metal, didn't fit when the coat of paint was added to both halves. I had to file them down after priming till they fit (yes, I almost cried). So next time I'll either have to complete before priming (which could make getting the underside of the upper wings a right torment to prime) or cover up the fitted bits so they stay raw metal.

I've since finished painting a Halberstadt CL.4 (C-in-C) and the Goblintooth Dr.1 and Camel. Kind of a standard scheme for the Camel, went for the obvious with the Dr.1, and pulled off an ok lozenge scheme on the Halberstadt. The undersides have their different colours too, I'll try to remember to take a picture when I have it out next. These guys have been Future'd, and are awaiting a decal day.

For my 1/600 stuff, I pulled the helicopters out of the first kits I had - Korean War USN and USAF - to experiment on, since I was a painting newbie to pretty much everything. These Sikorsky S-55's were thus my guinea pigs, but I think they turned out ok (more worthy than my photography skills show, anyway). They still need for me to pick up some main rotors, otherwise they're done.

Next were some OO UH-60's, done in a variety of colour schemes: standard brown, camo, special forces grey and desert sand. Currently I'm in an "I hate canopies" funk, so haven't gotten further on them. My basic canopy technique is to paint the fuselage, paint the canopy, touch up the fuselage (remember to get in between the canopy panels the first time, idiot!), touch up the canopy, possibly repeat. I haven't gone for fancy canopy efforts yet (adding flashes of white, for example), but may experiment with these puppies.

So I picked up this basing technique from someone on the 1/600 miniature aircraft Yahoo group (I think - may have been a different group, but either way this isn't my idea). All the aircraft get a tiny rare earth magnet (from Dom's decals) applied, then the base consists of a 1" wooden disk with 3-6 staples glued upright, sort of like [. They then get primed, painted, and sealed. The aircraft then spend their time in the "hangar" perched on nail heads, and are added to the bases for gaming.

I started with standard green on brown or two-brown schemes, but the batch below (first picture) was my second bunch, and I tried out different colours, usually when I still had some paint left in my palette from another project.

All told the bases cost about 20-25 cents apiece, plus about the same for the magnet.

Some were primed blue and left that way, for high altitude encounters. Maybe version 2 will have clouds or contrails added.

For action over water I used Polyfil to sculpt some waves, primed blue (as above), gave them a heavy dose of Future, drybushed whitecaps, then sealed with Future (for the wet look).

For action in the depths of space (Silent Death rules), I just primed some black, dotted white for stars, added a couple of comets (right hand column, second from bottom) and nebulae (bottom left), and sealed. The way over-exposed Y-Wing in the second picture is from Studio Bergstrom, and is awaiting its paint job.

Next up in the Story So Far, 2mm fantasy action with Kull of Atlantis and Imaro.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the Beginning...

So these first few posts are going to be catching up with where I am, rather than what I'm doing. I've been seriously into mini's since the late summer of 2008, but I'd had mini's since the early 80's (had no patience as a kid to do them) and I'd been haphazardly "planning" to get back into them since the late 1990's. In a burst of enthusiasm in July 2008 I ordered some GHQ WWII mini's, and I've been running ever since.

These first few pictures, however, are going to be of my 2mm projects, which I jumped into later that summer with a project set in an alternative 1860's era I call "Rifles and Regiments". The short version of that background is pretty much every twist in history that could have happened in North America up to that time, did. The result is a very balkanized continent, with a Union, a Confederacy, Texas, Chinese and Spanish colonies, and a messed up Canada. Oh, and the Russians are hanging onto Alaska. My intended rule set for this period is the free "Republic and Empire".

I'll also being doing some historical gaming in this period, using other rules, including "They Couldn't Hit an Elephant" (Too Fat Lardies), "They Don't Like It Up 'Em" (also TFL), and at a skirmish scale with Gaslight (LMW Works) or Sharpe Practice (TFL yet again - just realized I need to fix my list of links).

So onto the pictures...

A close-up of my first regiments, of Chinese colonial troops from what would have been California in the real world.

All of my first week's efforts, from a gaming perspective that gives the "big battle" effect, where 2mm really shines.

Troops approaching the plantation/capitol building/courthouse. The building is made from some wooden blocks bought from Michael's, various doo-dads lying in my bit box (including some bracelet charms), and a bit of sheet styrene for the steps and veranda.

More buildings - a factory, hotel, and well-off residences. For when gaming near the edge of a city. All are also made from wooden craft blocks and doo-dads for the chimneys, sheet styrene for the awning on the hotel. The windows are done with a Sharpie, but I've had a bugger of a time with Dullcote then wrecking the windows. Nothing seems to protect the ink, I've tried long drying times and a coat of Future. So for now I'm trusting my terrain pieces to stay healthy without a sealing coat.

Village pieces, mainly made from Sculpey/Fimo or more braclet charms, with a wooden block used for the slave trading house on the right.

A kraal for colonial or fantasy battles (in the world of Imaro/Dossouye). The huts are Sculpey, the nettle wall is a brass sink scrubber, disassembled and stretched out.

For "northern" terrain I'm just using a straight-up green (Shamrock) paint over sand to create a grassy surface, but for my African-esque terrain, it's a bit more complicated, and I've settled on a yellow paint base (Moon Yellow) followed by a very light green ink wash, followed by dry-brushing Cadmium Yellow on top.

I should at this point mention that my link list includes the two best starting guides for 2mm - Tony Hughes site helped with an identification scheme, basing, and how to "do" grass at this scale, and SteelonSand's blog is the most active for in-progress 2mm goodness.