Traditionally, Saturday is the day with maximum attendance at a gaming convention in Southern California. And for GenCon, it's no different. The convention parking lot is filling fast and so are the exhibition areas - especially the dealers room.
One of the happy vendors is Robert Kingery, who - along with his wife Crystal - owns Darkson Designs. He's the creative portion of the tema, while Crystal manages the business side.
Perhaps their most visible product is the AE-WWII line of 28mm alternate WWII figures. The range of figures currently includes Russian and German troops - combining WWII elements such as basic uniform and kit, but with modern and futuristic weaponry and equipment such as powered scopes, night vision gear and automatic weapons. There are "traditional" elements given new treatment such as the female Russian sniper with power scope, helmet-mounted optics and modern-style kneepads and elbow guards.
The range is due to expand shortly with the addition of an American NCO and airborne soldier, as well as some Germans in greatcoats. Photos of the greens (along with concept drawings) were on display in the booth, and the former should be up on the website soon.
Robert describes these figures as:
True 28mm with real proportions vs. the cartoony or "heroic" proportions used by other companies.
Robert started Darkson Designs as a painting service 10 years ago. Then he met Crystal, who is not a gamer. She saw what he was doing and encouraged him to expand upon it, and soon the Darkson Designs Painting Guide Vol. 1 was printed.
This full-color, 96-page softbound book contains step-by-step tutorials on painting various subjects such as skin tone, metallics, NMM, and armor, and covers scenery as well as miniatures. Color theory - along with methods for using Vallejo paints, and even painting using oil-based paints - are covered as well. Tutorials are given for both fantasy and historical topics. In addition, there are two dozen "inspiration" pages featuring photographs of various professionally painted figures. Most of the tutorials are by Robert himself, while Crystal did the layout and design of the book.
Their second painting guidebook is currently in development, and will focus on different painting techniques - rather than the tutorials and step-by-step articles of the first. Production will be complicated by Robert's upcoming four-month deployment to Iraq with the USAF. However, with modern communications, they'll still be able to work on the book.
For a small company, based about 15 miles from the Anaheim Convention Center, "it's a bit of a gamble coming here," says Robert. "We've had a lot of people coming by, and showing interest in the products and the books."