Author: jecarlisle13

Born in Fayetteville, NC – November 1971 I moved to the Metro-Atlanta area in 2010 and am currently living in Cumming, GA with my wonderful fiancee, Roxanne. I make my living doing technical support. I enjoy Role Playing Games, reading (mostly fantasy and science-fiction, but I try not to limit my choices). I also occasionally enjoy games such as Diablo III and I used to play World of Warcraft. I use blogging as a method of expression, but it’s mostly because I find the process of writing to be cathartic and relaxing; I make no claims to being a “real” writer.

Primed for Painting

To say that I started painting miniatures eight or so years ago when I moved to Atlanta and started accompanying my, at that time, roommate to the game store and got sucked into the world of tabletop wargaming probably wouldn’t be entirely true. I actually painted miniatures way back in the 1980s when I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games. Back in those days the minis were made of lead (yes, lead – the stuff everyone is afraid of getting poised by in their water supply now). I also did not know any better about types of paint or thinning them or layers and coats so I naturally just pulled out my Testors enamels that I used on my scale model cars. These days I know better and use acrylic paints and thin them properly and know about using thin coats instead of globing things on. I also know how important it is to first make sure the model has a coat of primer first, so the paint will actually adhere.

A decent primer coat is important enough, in fact, that one company has taken it upon themselves to pre-prime their minis before packaging and therefore market them as ready to paint right out of the box! I don’t agree that they are though. While I appreciate the detailed sculpts of the Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder miniatures from WizKids, I disagree with their choice to have already applied primer to them. I understand why they do it; they want to appeal to the novice painter and having them “Paint Ready Out-Of-The-Box!” would certainly appeal to someone just getting started in the hobby. However, there are things to consider before one starts picking colors and pulling out the brushes.

Any mass produced miniatures are undoubtedly going to have been made using injection molding which means a mold is made then the resin or plastic or whatever material that’s being used is injected into the mold in liquid form and allowed to cure and harden before the finished model is removed from the mold. This leads to there being burrs and mold-lines that need to be removed. Let’s be honest, the manufacturer might do some of that but I’ve never bought a miniature that I didn’t have to get out my hobby knife as well files and sandpaper to clean up those rough places. On these pre-primed minis that means you are going to scrape off some of the primer. For the most part, it’s not that much but I recently had one that a lot of the primer came off in one spot.

Notice the section right under her arm on what would be her rib cage. See how much of the primer came off there? What might cause this, you ask? Well, most likely what happened was that the release agent in mold wasn’t fully washed off of the model, then the primer was sprayed on too thick instead of in nice even thing coats. The result it, well, this – a big old chunk of primer getting pulled off while I was trying to scrape of what was a rather small mold line. If I tried to paint or even re-prime over that it would have been very noticeable in the finished product.

So the solution? Soak her in a plastic container full of Simple Green for a couple of days then scrub all (or as much as possible) of the primer off with a toothbrush and hobby knife. Was it a pain in the ass? Yes. Is it going to be worth the extra effort to make sure this mini looks good once I paint it? Also, Yes.

I do feel the need to comment on the primer itself. On one of my Facebook groups where the members share their endeavors at painting minis, several folks had negative things to say about the primer used, which is Vallejo’s Surface Primer. I’d like to say in that regard that that is the same primer I use myself. I don’t think the peeling problem is the fault of the brand of primer but rather the fact that these are all mass produced on an assembly line where it’s very possible to have issues like this and occasionally quality control might miss one that’s been over-primed. After I got all the primer off my Barmaid mini and the rest of the mold lines scraped off, I re-primed here with the very same brand, and color, of primer she came pre-primed with. The paint adheres to it just fine now.

While this is honestly the first WizKids model I’ve ever had do this to me, I have no implemented a self-imposed step of doing this to all of their pre-primed miniatures. It’s an extra step and very adds more un-fun to what was already the un-fun part of the hobby, but it helps insure that the end result doesn’t look like crap. To make sure I kind of have a good rhythm going with the pile of minis I currently have on the “to-be-painted’ shelf I figure I’ll just soak a few at a time; let them soak a few days; then when I’m at a point on a current mini (or minis) where I’m waiting for a something to dry or I’m contemplating color choice I can scrub the ones that have soaked. Eventually I figure I’ll have all the ones I currently own stripped well before I’ll be ready to paint them (especially since I also have another shelf of to-be-painted Reaper Bones which don’t have to be stripped first because they don’t come pre-primed).

Happy Painting!

~JC

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Where Have I Been?

Wow! I didn’t realize it’s been three years since I had written a blog. I guess trying to continue previous “series” such as “Adventures in Home Ownership” would be pointless this far removed, but frankly that is probably, largely a causal factor in my lengthy absence from WordPress.

So, let’s see. What’s transpired from January 2016 until now? I’ve defiantly had further adventures in home ownership including breaking a toilet tank, having to have the cable company rewire the house due to signal loss, ladybug infestations, an abundance of birds and squirrels making our back deck home due to putting out feeders and having to chase away the neighbor’s cats because of it. I’ve lost a job due to corporate downsizing and been unemployed for four months before finding a new one just before the severance pay ran out. I joined and left a D&D group, then started my own using an online application called Roll20. I’ve started working nights. I started painting miniatures again for the first time in several years as well as started making table top scenery to use with them. I’ve made new friends and probably even lost some. I even became an uncle for the second time.

Some of the above will likely end up becoming blog topics since I’d very much like to start writing again. As for the name of the blog, I think I’ll keep it as is. I really don’t see spinning off a “v3”. Hell, I never even finished linking all the v1 titles in the V1 Archive list so I’m not about to have to do that with v2 as well. 😛

Until then, Happy 2019!

~JC

Looking Ahead To 2016

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m certainly not about to start now. Last year, I wrote about certain goals such as quitting smoking (which I’ve accomplished) and losing weight (which I’m still working on). I bought a house in 2015, so there’s lots to do with upkeep and projects I’d like to undertake to make improvements. My career is bit weird right now – on the one hand I was just given another promotion and moved from being hourly to salaried with a raise coming sometime within the next month or so, but on the other hand the product I support is being discontinued which could mean either having to start looking or could be an opportunity to train in something different soon.

I can’t say what 2016 will hold, but if it is even half as successful as 2015 was, it’ll be a good year.

~ JC

Coils, and Wicks, and Vapor, Oh My!

It’s be almost right at a year ago that I bought my first vaping starter kit. It consisted of a EVOD battery and a knockoff of a Kangertech mini Protank that only held a few milliliters of liquid. While vape shops and sites are not legally allowed to call e-cigarettes and vapor products a “smoking cessation” device, frankly that’s exactly what they are – at least for me they have been. Over the following four months I went from a pack a day down to half a pack, to a few cigarettes a day to eventually quitting altogether.* As I found myself craving cigarettes less in favor of vaping, I also found myself upgrading my vaping gear as well. I eventually purchased a variable voltage Vision Spinner battery and switched from the plastic protank clones to glass tanks instead. I liked being able to change the voltage based on the different liquids or as the coils started to wear out a bit, but I soon found out that these types of batteries did not last long. I had two, and was soon having to charge one mid-way through the day. The variable voltage also tended to cause the liquid to break down faster and become bitter and burnt tasting – that’s no bueno. Why would I want to continue to vape if the flavor was going to change and become unpredictable? The answer was to upgrade once again to a “box mod” with variable wattage control.

Going to a variable wattage rig also allowed me to start using “sub-ohm” coils, which I admit I was previously critical of because I didn’t understand the appeal of producing that much vapor. I soon found that sub-ohm coils were not just about more vapor, but better vapor control and better flavor as well. It also meant that the liquid did not get overheated and start to break down since the lower resistance in the coils meant vapor was produced faster so I didn’t have to hold the button down for as long to get the same satisfaction. Battery life is also greatly improved; instead of a battery only lasting part of the day, I can vape all day and even part way into the next before having to switch them out. In switching to a mod and tanks that use sub-ohm coils, though, I have also discovered an interest in the hobbyist aspect of vaping, that of winding my own coils.

I was previously quite satisfied and ok with buying premade coils for my tank atomizers. When I decided to get a box mod (mainly for better battery life), though, I went with a starter kit that included a new tank as well. The Subtank Mini by Kangertech not only uses standard premade coils, but also comes with a mini Re-buildable Atomizer (RDA) for building one’s own coils. I did not attempt it right away. I spent quite a bit of time watching how to videos on YouTube, beginning with how to wick the tank I have since the mini-RBA already had a coil installed as well as a couple of spares. Once I realized how easy that was, I started watching coil building videos and refreshing my memory about Ohm’s Law. Now that I’ve attempted a couple of coils of my own and I’m pretty sold on the concept. Sure it produces more vapor, which I really wasn’t after, but in doing so I get much better flavor and find that I don’t feel the need to vape as often with the older EVOD and Vision batteries with “regular” coil tanks. Still, I need more practice with coil making. I still probably waste too much wire and cotton, but I’m getting better. I had the good sense to order a toolkit called the Coilmaster that includes everything to make coils right, including and ohm meter.

The only problem I have now is finding myself getting sucked into wanting to collect different RDAs and dripping style atomizers. I’ve always used tank atomizers because I could fill them up and they would last me the majority of the day. I’ve also tended to have more than one tank, each filled with a different flavor – if I start off vaping Caramel Cappuccino in the morning, I might want to switch to Skittles later in the day and having at least two tanks helps facilitate that. With drippers, though, all I would have to do is change the wick and give it a quick rinse. RDA drippers also seem to have more options when it comes to coils. I could do either a single or dual coil build, I could try different gauges of wire, or different styles such as twisted wire. I like the mini-RDA on my Subtank as it has been a good starter for a newbie like me, but it is only single coil and as I found out the hard way, it’s tiny size doesn’t allow for very many options when building. I’m pretty much stuck with a single coil that’s been wrapped around a 2.5mm post (I tried 3mm wrap but it ended up too large to fit).

I have no regrets switching to vaping instead of cigarettes. It’s more satisfying, it definitely smells better (my home office smells of maple these days), it’s healthier (3-4 ingredients vs 3000+ chemicals), and learning how to coil build gives me a new hobby. Now if we can just get the fools in government to stop believing the bullshit false studies that big tobacco keeps commissioning to try to discredit vaping… but that’s a whole different blog topic for a later time.

~ JC

* I am sure the fact that I bought my first starter kit right as winter was starting helped, since vaping meant I did not have to go outside in the cold like I did if I wanted to have a cigarette.