Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Michael's Models - World Aids Day

You may ask what aids has to do with painting and mucking about with little men. For most people, it has zero connection. However, in my case, it has a massive part of how my hobby and personal landscape was formed. My Mum was and still is a community nurse (correction, community matron and a very good one at that!) and she was one of the first people in our old area to look after a patient that was dying of aids. At that point, there was a lot of stigma around the disease and the work my Mum did went a long way into structuring the process of palliative care people suffering from aids received. The guy she cared for was in his early 30s, and was named Michael; apart from a story about how he and his partner showed my Mum with beer one Christmas as a surprise, I sadly know little more about him. I imagine my Mum spoke to him about my hobby of painting little men at the time because he did the same thing. Micheal had a large collection of mostly Mithril Lord of the Rings miniatures, but with a selection of Grenadier, Prince August and Citadel figures too. They were all painted in a neat, matte style and some with carefully colour-coded bases. These, alongside a hardback copy of Lord of the Rings were gifted by him to me as the disease robbed him of his sight.


Every tray of this case is filled, in some cases, with more than one model per slot.

Small example of the Mithril LOTR range. Bonus Ring-Wraith lurking in the back!

Nasty little Hobbitses. Love the little dioramas that Mithril do - the Gollum and Bilbo one on the right of this is awesome.

I imagine that for someone so talented with a brush, to loose his vision must have been unbearable. Sadly, I don't think I appreciated this fact at the time. For a narrow-minded kid of 11 whose only example of fantasy miniatures were in the Citadel style, I didn't know quite what to do with them. There was also a horrid shadow of schoolyard homophobia that lurked over me at that age. Being a skinny see-through white kid who was no good at sports meant I over compensated somewhat in the pre-pubescent big-mouth masculinity stakes. Thank the gods skateboarding was to come and save me from team sport mentality only a few years later. Of course I was grateful to receive all these models alongside a book that would shape my taste in fantasy literature for life, but the enormity of this gift didn't strike home for a long time afterward. At that point in time, the gift as well as the context in which it was received just didn't fit my soft-eggshell world. However, their arrival in my life was the nudge I needed to reconsider many previously held thoughts and beleifs.


Most of the Citadel figures - those Dwarf adventurers are sick, although my addition of  the painted eyes leaves a little to be desired.

Mithril Orcs - Stoked on the mixture of Mordor and Isenguard guys here! The diorama is proper grim too!

A selection of the Prince August sculpts - these are really nice models.

Thankfully, I had sense enough to store these models in the best way I could at the time. I took a long break from any kind of painting from the age of 13 and Michael's collection was stored in the attic along with my other models. When I returned to the hobby (being slightly older and wiser and with multiple readings of LOTR under my belt) I knew I had to make sure these figures were stored safely. They now all belong together in a hard case, but sadly many of them were damaged during the interim storage years and it'll be a project to restore and repaint where necessary in the future.


Another selection of Mithril LOTR figures - the armoured elf and the Iceni-esque female fighter are great  sculpts.

This fucking book. Micheal's references are on the right. One day I'm just going to bake a load of biscuits and go walking just to see where the road takes me. Then I'll meet some Elves and get drunk - it'll be awesome.

I have no idea what life must be like to have the main boulevard of creative output removed from existence. What I do know is that Michael's gift made me a better person in more ways than one. Firstly, they helped make my world bigger. They made me realise that there's more out there than just what I'd hear at school or see in magazines. Secondly, they opened me up to different ways of painting. These figures were some of the first that had a sense of personal style to them and also the first that used fictional references for colour schemes. Lastly, they helped me to overcome my preconceptions of people with different lifestyles. I acknowledge that it should have never taken something like this in order to do so (you and me both want to give 11 year old me a proper kick in) but that's how it happened. I hope Micheal would be happy that his work is still thought of and continuing to inspire me to this day. Be sure to drop some cash into the donation tin during world aids day and remember Michael's work when you do.

Cheers fella.



Sunday, 6 November 2016

Armies on Parade in a Space Hulk

Agh, can't believe that the Armies on Parade comp was over three weeks ago now! Thankfully I managed to get everything finished in time and I was pretty pleased with the board in the end, having successfully managed to play with some weathering powders to create some different effects. Again, our local store had the most entries on the planet, beating Warhammer World itself as well as the previous record set last year. The entries were fantastic, so many different styles of painting, force composition and narrative on display. My particular favourite was a multi-level Genestealer Cult vs Inquisitorial force, complete with atmospheric lighting! I didn't manage to take any of my own photees, so I've nabbed them from the local shop Facebook page.


Who's competing with that? So sick!

There were so many other great entries too, standouts including Lewis's fantastic Vampire Counts army complete  with a towering, skeleton festooned tree, Gaz's Orcs with a beast of a Mawcrusher and a great narrative board based on the film Zulu, featuring the excellent and under-exposed Praetorian Guard regiment against some brutal looking Orks which came complete with a soundtrack! An honourable mention goes out to the excellent Helm's Deep diorama, a Khorne / Nurgle Daemon army which featured some excellent freehand and loads of sculpted eyeballs and the the pictured Imperial Guard / Mechanicus force that had some great airbrush and weathering work.


Such symmetry, very balanced, much pleasing to my OCD.

Here's my entry, in it's final form.  kind of wish I could have done a little more the the board, but overall I'm really happy with it. I particularly enjoyed painting up the battered gold Shrine of the Aquila and working out how to do scorch-marks with the sooty weathering powders. It was awesome to get good feedback too, I was a little worried that after the varnish frosting incident the army would look a little dull.


The faithful few of Istvaan.

I've already got plans for next year and I'm hoping to pull off a narrative board, based on a battle between my half completed second edition Tyranids and another force I've yet to decide upon. Either way, it's going to be super fun to do. In the meantime, there's a fun little mini competition coming up in December based on whatever you can fit onto one of the larger model bases - I'm hoping to use that as an incentive to finish off the Emperor's Children force. Since finishing off the Armies on Parade project, I've returned to painting up more terminators. I've pretty much finished the RTB09 boxed set and saved the best of the classic figures for last - the Captain and Librarian.


Nearly thirty years old and still rad as fuck.

These are figures that have been on the 'always wanted to paint' list. I think I've painted the Librarian before, but the Captain was certainly a first. Sadly, the Captain's left shoulder icon was a little battered, but aside from that, both models were still pretty sharp casts. The Librarian provided a great excuse to try out contrasting colour highlights on the weapon, something I may play around with more in the future!


In the 41st Millennium, 80's Van Damme haircuts are legit.

The Captain stands out as one of Jes Goodwin's (have I mentioned how much I love Jes recently? Because I do) most iconic sculpts. There's something so solid about the composition and feel of this figure. Despite it being a relatively simple three-piece model, it oozes presence and character. One of my old friends had this miniature and I always loved the way he'd painted it. Whilst it's not an exact replica ( I seem to recall more yellow / white on his) it's definitely a little nod to the past.


Iconography based on the sculpted kneepad
May add more to this one, feels like there's too much blue space now!

I'm really pleased at how the freehand on the right shoulders turned out. I've recently changed brushes and I'm having much better results with the new ones as they hold a point without splitting and seem to be a little more robust than the older ones I've used. So now I've only another squad of five of these to do and I can officially play nearly all of the original Space Hulk scenarios! I'm also currently working on a squad of five second edition Deathwing as well as finishing off the five Emperor's Children Cataphractii terminators. It's amazing to see how much the scale of these figures has changed so much over the last three decades whilst still remaining some of the greatest models to paint. I hope to have all of these project wrapped up before Christmas so I can start on something different in the new year - need to get a move on!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

EC Show and Tell

I can't ever recall painting as many figures this quickly before. Over the past few weeks, I've been constantly surprised walking into our front room and seeing the force slowly growing every morning - stoked to know that it's possible for me to churn out a decent sized force in just over a month given proper incentive and enthusiasm! That said, I've had a little more time in the last week to work on painting as I've been off looking after my partner who has been recovering from surgery. I'm hyped that I've been able to spend time helping them to get back on their feet and hack away at some crafting too!


Meat and Potatoes.

Long-range Pudding.

This is the main bulk of the force - apologies for the awful photos! As part of the narrative, all the models have been based on ashy, grey bases with white marble chipping to represent the ruins of the Choral City on Istvaan. Being a massive cheapskate, I didn't spurge on special EC units from Forgeworld; instead I based the core of the force around basic bitch legionnaire tactical squads and support squads from the afore mentioned excellent Betrayal at Calth boxset. So far, I've two tactical squads of fifteen completed and one heavy missile launcher support squad, but I've got enough parts to work on another lascannon-armed support squad after the AOP event (which is to appease my OCD for symmetrically organised armies as much as it is for tactical reasons). I also have a certain suspicion that I may be getting a Landraider Proteus for my birthday (kjsdnvo[ ere'a /nvasgi[bv !!!!!!) and that'll look amazing in the middle of the whole ensemble.


Ancient Rylanor. 

The Contemptor Dreadnought is an absolute dream of a model - so many posing options! This is the largest resin kit I've worked with so far and it wasn't as scary as anticipated. He's based roughly on the concept art featured in one of the black library books, but I went for the more basic chassis as I'm not keen on the fluted armour of the venerable versions. I also got to use some of the FW etched brass on this guy too - love that stuff!


Captain Saul Tarvitz.

Really enjoyed modelling and painting this guy up too. His body is mainly composed of EC Palatine Blades bits, whilst his sword comes from an old Terminator. His gun (which you can't really see) is a proper Frankenstein kit-bash and is made up of about 6 separate parts. Whilst I'm not 100% happy with the hair-sculpt (I'm crap with green stuff) I think this guy makes a good Captain stand in, regardless of loyalties!


THIS IS MY HAIR. I DON'T WEAR WIGS.

As for the paint job, he's pretty much exactly the same as the rest of the force. However, I did experiment with trying to do blended reflections on his massive sword. The result isn't quite what I was hoping for, but if I find times before the event to touch it up I reckon I can sort it out! The only super lame thing that happened whilst painting these guys up was an unfortunate incident with the final varnish. Sadly I frosted the shit out on the majority of the force and had to re-wash and re-paint some stuff to bring it back. However, the overall look adds to the dusty, war-ravaged nature of the narrative I'm going for, so no real damage done. All I have to sort out now the actual display board which hopefully shouldn't be too much of a rush for a change! If I get chance, I'm going to see if I can speed through painting some Terminators too.


Not that much to do then,....



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Faithful Few

I've had a soft spot for the Emperor's Children for a long, long time now. Right from the earliest mentions of them in old cannon, their search for artistic and martial perfection coupled with their tragic downfall ticks all the inspiration boxes for me (plus the colour scheme of purple and gold is badass).  Now that the Horus Heresy universe has had a good decade worth of fluff and excellent miniature support built around it, it seems like too good an opportunity not to make a commitment to building up a little narrative force. I'm going to be theming them as loyalist survivors on Istavaan led by none other than Saul Tarvitz, who should be really fun to convert. Until recently, the only figure I had got around to painting was this classic, post-heresy fella. I'll be using this colour scheme for the force and will be adding crap tons of weathering too.


Essentially evil Rimmer in power-armour.

I've never been overly fond of working with resin despite how wonderful Forgeworld's models are and I was stoked to see that GW is now supporting core parts of the HH universe in plastic. Last week I finally got around to picking up a copy of the amazing Betrayal at Calth boxset, and with the local GW's Armies on Parade kicking off in October, I thought it'd be cool masochistic to try and get the majority of the contents painted up for it. So far I've work my way through base coating up all weapons, torsos and backpacks as well as finishing off the bases which is lighting fast considering how slowly I usually paint! At this rate, I'll have all the marines done by the end of August, which leaves me with a month to sort out the Contemptor and Saul Tarvitz conversion. I'm also planning on constructing an Istavaan-themed board to display the completed project on, which may be pushing the realms of realistic expectations!

If all else fails, I'm sure the old Orks won't mind stepping in for their first public outing!

More painting updates when I have more than bits lying around the front room!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Yellow Hulking Peril in Space

Having returned from a wonderful holiday, I've been lucky enough to have some spare time to wrap up a few bits I've had sitting an the hearth (literally, the front room has the best light in the house - crafts project central). Firstly, I've been trying to paint up some of the random figures I've collected over the years either as parts of job lots or as trades and have managed to make a little Lamenters force out of them. One of the aims of this project was to paint everything - no-decals involved. This was a little bit of a chore to begin with, but pretty sure I've got the gist of painting checks and circles. So stoked to have finally gotten over the fear of painting bright colours too - no going back now!


Psychic Mohawk.

I'm a huge fan of the 1994-65 range of Marine figures and painting this fella up was a treat. I must admit that painting the black design directly onto the loincloth was a little scary, but thankfully it worked out okay.


Sgt Lorenzo.

I've had a massive thing for this figure ever since I first painted one up over 20 years ago. That dynamic posture is so sick and the little crux terminatus swaying from his belt is just the best. One thing I didn't recall about this figure is how small the shoulder pads are compared to the plastic versions - was a real challenge to try and make everything scale up correctly!


Squad Lorenzo.

I have no idea where this strike force box set MK8 marines came from, but they look awesome! They're more imposing than their later MK7 brethren, with wider helmets and stockier stance. I did have to trim their arms lugs off to accommodate the later arms, but other than that, they're straight up marines. The heavy bolter was a pain to put together though, forgot how guff those devastator arm/weapon assemblies were!


'If it bleeds, we can kill it' - The original Predator.

This Predator was an ebay rescue gamble that cost around £8.00 if I recall. It was missing sponsons, exhausts and some other little bits that I luckily had in my bits box. After being stripped, sanded down, undercoated and sanded down some more, it sat waiting for a year or so  before I could decide what chapter to paint it. Really stoked on how this turned out, although I managed to drop the entire thing near completion and have lost one of the sodding exhausts - so frustrating!

I'm toying with the idea of painting up a chaplain, an old RT terminator squad and a second edition Dreadnought for these guys too, but that won't be for awhile yet. For the meantime, they'll hang out with my existing Blood Angel army and bemoan the fact they'll only ever get played with once a decade.

The other project I've finished (well the first part of anyway) is a squad of classic RT Space Hulk terminators. I've a copy of the new version of the game and enough painted Genestealers to run a full campaign, but until now, no appropriate terminators. Whilst the figures included in the modern version are amazing, I've not felt compelled to paint them yet. Here's the first squad more or less completed. I plan on adding some more guff to their bases and maybe adding some kill marks to the armour to differentiate them.


In the woody depths of deep space, nobody can hear you alien quotes.

The first squad! I'm already prepping the second as I made the mistake of assembling one with an assault cannon rather than a heavy flamer (because it looks loads better) which is used more in the primary missions. Once the second squad is done, I will have a game of Space Hulk. I promise. Honestly.

So fucking red. 

Very much indebted to Pob for sending me this figure - thanks fella! One thing I noticed with all of these models is how soft the lead is. I've got some figures that have been hard to paint up with crisp edge highlights because the edges simply aren't there anymore. Thankfully these guys weren't too bad, but it's such a shame are these are such nice sculpts.


Dakka dakka dakka.

Couldn't resist copying the paint-scheme used by McVey in the 90's for these guys, I messed up with the hazard striping, making it a little wider than the original, but the thought is there! You can just about make out some of the damage to the crux terminatus on his shoulder plate - will try and make a feature out of it perhaps!

So once these guys are all done, I'll be painting up a set of Deathwing terminators, complete with the original Bill King inspired character names and stuff because I'm so fucking sad. By a weird stroke of coincidence, I also have enough Genestealer Hybrids to make up a complete set for all of the original blip tokens which could be interesting! So, theoretically, in a years time, I could be running a weekend-long campaign like I was 14 again. 

I need help.

  

Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Green Ripple

Over the past few days I've finally had a chance to finish off the Ork project I was hoping to have wrapped up by February (yeah, I'm ever the optimist when it comes to self-imposed deadlines). The whole army was a blast to work through and although I'd like to eventually add a dozen or so more gretchin and maybe another few boys, the army is pretty much complete. As a note of gushy fanboyness, I can't say thank you enough to both Kev Adams and Paul Bonner for being massive inspirations for this project, and also a massive thanks to Pob and Melon for flowing me some excellent models that help kickstart and finish off the project - you guys rule!


We've seen this battlefield before surely??


As I tend to do with all big projects, I saved the best thing for last, finishing off the classic 1991 Battlewagon donated by none other than the Melon which thankfully didn't need too much repair work doing to it. Considering this kit was launched around the same time as the original Rhino, Predator and Land Raider, it's a much more complicated and interesting kit to construct and comes with a shedload of bits such as wrenches, oil cans and spades. Sadly, I was not able to do much with the original plastic axles and had to replace them all with some heavy-duty brass rod. That unfortunately means that the driving compartment was not able to be painted up and occupied, but I did get to make up a cool little scratch built door!


Battlewagon!

I love this thing so much. I decided to place it on a base to give it a little extra height, plus it fits in with everything else too. Originally I was going to do something with the mast (why does it have a mast?) such as adding some rigging or pennants, but decided against it as it'd make it difficult to get models off the deck area. Here's the mob's acoustic backup 'The Squigsters of Mercy' borrowing it for there upcoming tour.


Azzbutt and his sweet ride.

I can safely say that I've made my peace with the evilest of the primary colours, yellow. Infant, I'm kind of enjoying painting it! Although the majority of the colour scheme is a dirty, musty tone, it still took a fair few layers to get right. The only thing I'm not completely happy with is the paintwork on the flames. Thankfully, the chips and damage help cover up the shonkier bits, but I still can't quite work out how to get the perfect 90's 'Eavy Metal style flames on the go.

Rammy end.

Not unsurprisingly there were a few bits missing, which is to be expected for a kit of this age. However, I was lucky enough to have some good bits floating around, so instead of scythes on the front wheels,  I got to use these old goblin shields with appropriately fitting moons on them as hubcaps. The headlight came from some unused Imperial Guard tank parts and work surprisingly well with the rest of the kit.



Don't you open that trap door!

I know it's lame, but this is probably my favourite part of the model! A little scratch built door to the crew compartment made from sprue off-cuts and a handle. You can jut make out one of the rad little glyph plates that come with the kit too, the moulding on those pieces was so sharp and crisp.


IN THE TEMPLE OF WAAAAAAAAGH!

So that the end of those guys for awhile! I'm stoked to finally have a little Ork force to be able to use in mini second-edition campaigns and hope to pit them against some of my other armies soon. The next projects to finish off will be a small force of Lamenters Space Marines, the rest of the Chaos AOS army and some scenery that's been languishing in a cupboard for months. Will hopefully have all that done before August!



Monday, 18 April 2016

Spaceman Lust

I'm pretty sure that everyone involved in the Games Workshop hobby has a space marine story to tell and it seems fitting with the 30th anniversary of their creation just passed, that I should ramble on about my experience with the 41st Millennium's answer to Chuck Norris made out of guns and skulls. My first exposure to space marines that made a real impact was via a piece of Jim Burns artwork that was used for the original box for the Epic gaming system.

No words.
I spent so much time looking at this particular image that it pretty much shaped the entire palette of miniature painting for my formative years. Everything was undercoated black. Even when it shouldn't have been. Despite, it's proto-goffick influences, this image beyond all captures (for me) the essence of what a space marine looks and acts like. They're direct, thick-necked unrepentant super soldiers with 10000 years of psycho-religous programming that eat testosterone for brunch. They are unapologetic sic-fi versions of that nob-head in Predator that are humanity's only chance of existence in a universe that is bleak even by Hobbesian standards. To a pre-pubescent spaghetti-limbed kid, these were the coolest thing ever (until the Eldar came along with their much sassier hair).  On a more chapter specific note, this artwork by John Blanche will forever be the defining imagery of the Dark Angels.

Did I mention how much I adore John Blanche? 

Ignoring the terrible photo as well as noticeable scale and perspective issues, this is another piece of art that I've lost hours peering into. Even now I find new details or ways of looking at it and it's been a constant point of reference for my painting. I love the early 90's period of Blanche's pencil work (his forays into portraits of various Inquisitors at this point are of particular note, with bizarre references ranging from Sean Connery to obscure renaissance firebrand priests such as Bernardo Gui) and I would love to see this piece in real life one day.

So these influences begat my love affair with the Unforgiven and later, with the Blood Angels. At that point in time they shared a Codex and whenever I regularly played it was against my friend's Blood Angel / Imperial Guard allied force. That love affair continues to this day with my not insubstantial collection of both chapters. However, my favourites will always be the former because they're well miserable and goff, hate pretty much everyone and really easy to paint. Here's how the army looks these days,.


Obligatory Deathwing.

First tactical squad. 
Second tactical squad (with devastators and support Dreadnought hiding entrenched behind.
Ezekiel and chums. 
Command squad.

Sgt Ted Crilly Naaman and scouts.

I imagine I'll always be chipping away at this army. At present it features nearly a third of the entire 3rd company and I've a substantial Ravenwing biker contingent and additional Deathwing squad that is ready to be worked on too. Recently I've taken a break from painting up AOS stuff to paint up a model I've sat on for a few years and have been too scared to take on, namely Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing.


Inexplicable zooming noises.

Sammael has such a good face.

Apart from being an outstanding sculpt, this has got to be one of the easiest multi-part metal models I've ever worked with. There was very little flash or mold-line removal needed and the new thick super-glue that GW does is fantastic at keeping the whole thing together. My only real issue has been holding it without touching it too much as blu-tac on a cork really won't do in this situation! Thankfully I've been able to just rest the piece on foam when needed so it's not been as much as a chore as first thought. My only real problem was with the cape as I have a real problem with sculpted detail on material or banners - I have no idea why GW insist on doing this as it'd be so much easier to attempt to free-hand the design rather than compensate with chunky, blocky embroidery. I hindsight, I would have filed the whole thing off as I'm not 100% happy with the end result. However, I'm pretty stoked on how this project turned out considering how intimidated I was to begin with, very much looking forward to building up some bikes and land speeders for him to hang out with in the future.