Sunday, December 25, 2016

'Twas the night before Christmas...

...And Santa was busy using a portable heater to dry out the finish on some miniatures.

Hope you and yours are having a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Something to look forward to in 2017

Sisters of Battle in plastic at last:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WIP - Christmas Gift

No prize for guessing what this figure for my sister is.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Weekend Frustration

This weekend we had an afternoon of warmer weather, which I wanted to take advantage of.  After a disappointing home improvement fail, I dutifully got out some figures to be sprayed with primer and sealer (and which I did not mix up!).

Primer went on splendidly (Citadel black primer from at least 10 years ago), and so did the Testors flat sealer... which almost immediately ran out. Now I have to buy a new can, and wait for the weather to once again be suitable for spraying to finish off the fellows with the mixed matte and glossy finish.

So here is a small preview of some figures that will some day grace this blog.  (and at this rate the primed figures will make it first!)

Friday, December 2, 2016

WIP - The Hywayman

This picture turned out rather more poorly than I expected, but here is a result of my painting at lunch time this week.

This figure fills the "gunslinger" archetype, which normally seems to go in a western cowboy or gangster direction.  I had the idea for this figure about seven years ago, and dutifully set some bitz aside in a little baggie, where it sat for another six or so years.  Then by chance, the Catachan surgeon head came into my collection (I was after the other medic bitz) and I thought that the head looked rather like a highwayman's bandanna mask.

As you may be able to tell, he is mostly built from Empire Militia bitz, with Empire archer arms, and some sculpted elements. Once I had the head in place the idea for a curled wig hairstyle just came to me.  The hardest part of the conversion was actually getting the right arm to work out, because "reaching for a gun" is sort of critical for this pose, but of course most empty right hands are either splay fingered or "just released an arrow".

I will try to come up with a better photo later, but as long time readers know, I rarely remember to do this...

[Edit: updated picture on Saturday]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Twenty Years

Somewhere around the middle of November, 20 years ago, a college student mail ordered the Warhammer 40k boxed set from The Armchair General.

I have discussed previously how I found a brochure called An Introduction to Games Workshop at a local hobby store, which as one might surmise from the title served as an explanation of the various GW games.  [And six years ago (!) Tony from Dampfpanzerwagon sent me a copy of that same brochure]  After I got that brochure, I poured over it for hours and hours, and eventually connected the games pictured to Battlemasters and Heroquest, which I obtained at about that time.  I did not ever actually play 40k in those days though, as lack of access and lack of cash were definite problems.

Later, when I was in college, I started viewing the old usergroup for some reason or other, and immediately realized that this "40k" thing was now starting to be accessible online. I worked up the nerve and bought the starter box and a few miniatures, starting me off a long road.

Hard to believe that twenty years later I am still at it, and that it has been so long.  Maybe some day I will finally paint all of that starter set...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coffee Box Buildings

As I mentioned in prior posts, I expected to play a game or so of 40k and so I cast about for some scenery for the game.  I have a few plastic buildings, but I wanted something a bit more futuristic, and more colorful than unpainted plastic. A year ago, I worked on some ideas for turning waste boxes from our work coffee machine into buildings, but discarded the idea as not workable due to the size and condition of the boxes.

This time however, I was in a time crunch, so I made a "skin" for the buildings in MS Publisher, printed the skin and stuck it on. You can see version one without the balcony floor, and version two with it.

I think the results are ok (certainly enhanced by the graffiti), but more as LOS blockers than as playable terrain. These never saw the table (we played x-wing all weekend instead) so they are dust collectors for now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Weekend X-Wing

Two TIE/D, TIE/IN, TIE/B, and four TIE/LN vs. some rebel scum
So this weekend my family was away with my mother-in-law, doing fun stuff at the coast.  Aside from doing some pretty serious outdoors work, my buddy TheDocta came over and we played X-wing.  Quite a lot of it in fact. Pictured above is one of our larger games (160 points if memory serves), although we did make it up to 260 in our final blowout game, which took several hours to play, and was a mad scrum of bases in contact. The defender is a fun ship to fly, and the tractor beam is great fun indeed. (and absolutely crushing "Luke Skywalker: greatest hero in the galaxy" is a particular treat)

Unfortunately our grander ambitions of playing 40k and Axis and Allies fell by the wayside, but there was talk of doing this again for his forthcoming milestone birthday.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Finishing What I Started - Space Marine Scouts

A while back, probably in 2002, I started painting some metal close combat Space Marine Scouts, got them about 90% finished, and stopped.  They then languished, like many projects in a drawer.

I am (hopefully) hosting a few games this weekend, and aside from painting some things that I am anticipating using in the games, I noticed these guys, and realized that they were "low hanging fruit" so to speak, and brought them forth for completion. Some paint touch up, inking and some base work, and they were completed.

Possibly a bit too much sun
It appears that I am not any better at freehand painting insignia than I was lo 14 years ago. The figures still need to be flocked/tufted, and sealed, but are otherwise complete, which is better than they were previously.

Still, it is nice to get them this far along.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Quick Color Test

Sorry for the silence lately, I actually have a number of articles pending, usually waiting for some final step or another or better photography. 

Anyway this weekend I did a quick color test for some "hardwood floor" I am making for a base. 

I took a Popsicle type stick, scored it with a razor saw, and painted it with three different washes.  From left to right we have Citadel "Drakenhof Nightshade", a custom mix I make with Citadel Black ink (from 20 years ago!), and last is Citadel "Reichland Fleshshade"(which probably would have benefited from another coat).

What do you think?  Which makes the best hardwood floor color?  

Friday, October 14, 2016

William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life

Nicely colorized version of the famous Mathew Brady photograph
Wednesday I finished reading William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life, by James Lee McDonough.  This is a quite readable biography of Sherman, which draws substantially from the prolific correspondence that Sherman conducted with his wife, family, and others.  Through this book I learned several new things about Sherman's life, particularly the period during which he lived in California, first as an army office, and then as a banker in boom-town San Francisco.  I was also unaware of the political connections of his family, his father-in-law serving as a Senator, and then Secretary of the Interior, and his brother as Senator from Ohio.

As is usual with this sort of book, it would have been nice to have more and better maps of campaigns and battles, and this book also uses the frankly antiquated practice of putting photos together in the middle of the book, rather than interspersed chronologically.  Another drawback was the lack of information from Confederate correspondence, of which I assume there is a large volume.

These few complaints outstanding, I quite enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in American Civil War personalities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

White Dwarf Monthly

Like many in the blogging world I picked up a copy of the "new" White Dwarf Monthly Magazine.  This issue was released on September 2, 2016, and since I was out of town (playing Risk legacy), I picked it up the following Monday from my FLGS.  Many of you have no doubt read all you need to about the magazine by now (or have a copy), but if not, read on.

White Dwarf Monthly Cover #1
As the bottom of the magazine states, it is in fact "Bigger, Better, Brand New"... well, at least the first two.  The magazine is fairly long, even by the standards of prior monthly White Dwarfs, and certainly in comparison to the weekly issues. The paper quality is very high, and as you can see from the picture above, it retains the weekly White Dwarf gloss/matte printing for the cover, which can really enhance the picture.  Photography is likewise excellent, with none of the muddy backgrounds that sometimes were an issue at the end of the prior monthly era.  You will also note that "Games Workshop" does not appear at the top, but rather "Warhmmer", in keeping with recent branding efforts I think. 

Another feature is that with more text there is more space for "British-isms", something that this Anglophile appreciates. The White Dwarf of the Paul Sawyer era was full of various references to local culture and turns of phrase, which added to the allure for me.  Letters to the editor return as well, including one by a former White Dwarf editor by the name of Guy Haley... 

This particular issue has a very large section on adding rules to the boxed games released in the last few years (including Space Hulk 2009/2014).  As I have none of the boxed games mentioned, this was interesting but of little use; however I am sure that it would be very interesting to anyone who had one or more of those.  
Lost Patrol White Dwarf Advertisement
 One of the unfortunate aspects of the magazine returning to a monthly format is that advertisements returned as well. As you can see in the picture above the right page is an advertisement for various Warhammer digital products.  To be fair, you could call most of the magazine an "advertisement", but new product announcements and the like have at least some use (and more so now that they are more "secret" until the magazine is released.)  By my rough count there are 12 pages in this magazine that are solely advertisements for existing products, and therefore have little added value. Certainly not much compared to a non-hobby magazine, but still a bit annoying.

Another feature that I missed was the lack of new rules.  With the weekly format, miniatures often released before the codex/rulebook to which they belonged, and White Dwarf would fill the gap with the necessary rules.  I really enjoyed this feature, as I am unlikely to buy any new codexes, but may buy some of the miniatures for other purposes and games (mostly older GW games anyway). Hopefully this feature comes back (for the rumored Genestealers?) in future issues.
Inq 28 Blanchitsu
Blanchitsu - Inq28
One of the most exciting features, to me anyway, is that Blanchistu returns to White Dwarf!  In the era of the weekly White Dwarf, this "article" series was relegated to Visions instead, so seeing it return to an accessible location is quite nice. I am certainly looking forward to seeing some of the figures from various games and blogs in high resolution photography soon.

Anyway, enjoying the magazine very much, and unlike the last few monthly magazines (to say nothing of the weekly pamphlets), I am still reading it. I expect to pick up the next few from my local store, and if things keep up at this level, I will resubscribe for the first time in quite a few years now.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Ghoul King

Last week I finished reading Star Wars: Bloodline, and was finally able to move on to the second book of the Dreaming Cities, The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley.
I read the first book at the beginning of August, and quite liked it.  Like the proceeding book, this was more of a novella, but this time it felt like the story was more complete in the pages presented.  Following directly on from the prior book, the knight Quinn is dragooned into exploring the ruins of the Dreaming City of Columbus Ohio, which was nuked by the other Angels roughly 20 years prior.  In this story we learn a bit more about how much Quinn differs from the baseline of humanity, and to what lengths the Angels will go to prevent the spread of forbidden knowledge.

As with the first book I really enjoyed the setting, and would like to read more about it.  I did not have quite as much of a "ooh, D&D" response to this one, and instead was thinking about how to game ghouls vs. plucky lower tech survivors (possibly played by cowboy types). I expect that most of the post apocalyptic miniatures games could easily handle a couple of scenarios about having to guard horses, or withstand waves of ghouls departing the city like bats at sunset.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Risk Legacy

This past weekend, I visited my wife's cousins and as is customary after the children were abed, we broke out some board games.  This time we got out Risk Legacy , a version of the classic game where you change the board as you play.  Released in 2011, the game is best thought of as a "Risk overlay", that is it starts as a slightly quicker version of Risk played as a campaign.  Players select a faction, and a starting position, and then expand to rule the world (through collection of star tokens/bases).
Then you start "scaring" the board with stickers which change the value of territories, making them harder to defend, or easier.  Then after someone wins, they sign the board, and gets to add a major city to the board, or rename a continent, or add some other change.  Those that did not win the game, but were not eliminated also get to change the board, so that after a few games, the board is heavily marked up, with cities spread out all over.  Cards get marked up and destroyed.

Board after three games
In later games, or even in the middle of a game, players open additional rule packages when the conditions are met (eliminate a faction, use up the minor city stickers, three missiles used in a single combat etc.).  And the game changes again. Heady stuff, and the constant changing conditions make each game a little different.  When I left Sunday one of the cousins was carefully adding in new
rule stickers to the rule book, and now I am wondering what the new rules say...

Risk was never "my" game, and yet this variant is the game I most want to play next, and we are already talking about buying Pandemic Legacy when we "Finish" this one.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Song of Achilles

Last night I finished reading The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller.  A fairly good retelling of  the Patroclus/Achilles relationship, and how their lives intersect with the Trojan war (mostly as told by the Iliad). The story is told from the point of view of Patroclus, and starts from before his meeting with Helen and ends somewhat after the death of Achilles.  I particularly liked how Odysseus is characterized, and how the gods are more like creepy alien beings with alien goals, rather than glowing heroic humans.

Now of course what a book like this is really good at is making one want to wargame the conflicts in it... which in this case means the siege of Troy, particularly the "heroic" actions relating to that.  It seems like a larger skirmish game would be the way to handle these battles, something that has a hero emphasis like LotR, which happily has pretty much all of the elements needed already, including chariots and rules for mounting/dismounting, which could be applied to the chariots.

As far as I know, there are two sources of miniatures for this period, Wargames Foundry, and Eureka. Both companies have various supporting lines of ancient civilians and allied states that could prove useful as well, particularly if you are more interested in the fantastic aspects of the battle than in the strictly historical.

Foundry Classical Heroes - TW015

Forthcoming Eureka Dark age Greeks

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Workbench Late August

Blurry late night cellphone picture
The family was out of town with my mother-in-law on Monday, and I got a little bit of hobby time after getting all the necessary chores done.

I got some sculpting done, which moved a number of Inq28 figures into the "ready to paint" category, which if you see the tray at the left of the picture is a bit large.  Center are those that need more work, and lower right as another six or so figures that need to have various sculpting and filling done.

Honestly, while I love building these figures, I have grown tired of having my work space dominated by their half completed bodies and the thousand little bits of guns, hands, arms, heads and so on you can see to the right.  I think that after a few more figures are completed, the remainder, and all the bits will be tidied away for a while. Working at the kitchen table just to have enough space is not very sensible when I have a whole desk that should be used in that way, rather than as a large bits box.

Also, with the renewed interest in Xwing, and the forthcoming release of Killteam (and discussion with my buddy Thedocta about getting him into 40k), the space may be needed soon for other projects.

Also visible to the keen eye, Baneblade of shame, converted dwarf longbeard, Necromunda gang, Empire general and warrior priest. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bloodreavers - Part 2

The puzzle have been solved!  Just a quick post to show off how my various conversions paid off and allowed me to rank up my Bloodreavers in an effort to make them serve as Chaos Marauders.

Certainly these chaps look a bit Chaotic, what with the arms going every which way...
As you can see from the photo, I numbered the bases with a pen, because they really only fit the one way!  

Most of my conversions are head and left arm swaps, with a few weapon or right arm changes too.  Being plastic, the figures were relatively easy to modify, and I fortunately had a bunch of Chaos bits to draw on for the conversion. 

I will show more of these figures later, but I was just excited that I was able to get it done at all. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Emperor's Railroad

I have been on vacation the last week, so have not had much hobby time, but I did get a chance to read a few books, including the Emperor's Railroad by Guy Haley.

Set roughly 1000 years past an apocalypse of some sort, this novella is a recounting of an experience a young boy has with the Knight Quinn as he helps the boy and his mother move from one town to another.  A knight is something of a paladin sort, with access to tools and technologies forbidden to the general population by the Angels. (Aliens? AI? Actual fallen/descended Angels?).  There are also technological artifacts and the undead, which makes for a dangerous trip.

Anyway, the book was good, and I liked its very gritty look at a post apocalyptic world. Characters were well written, and I got a grasp of their motivations and histories fairly quickly. Unfortunately the "book" was very short at 176 pages of fairly large type, and more, it felt a bit short too.  A longer version of this same story would have been very welcome.  That said, I am looking forward to reading the next volume in the series, The Ghoul King, which just was released a month ago.

Another part of this book that I enjoyed was thinking about how well it would fit for a sort of "gonzo" D&D campaign world.  Want to do dungeon crawls where you might fight Zombies/Robots/Dragons/AI/cultists?  Knights with swords and pistols? Well this setting could easily handle all of that, and plenty of detail is available from this book to give your future world a nice gloss. Just the sub title of "the dreaming cities" gets my brain working on ideas, and really that is the sign of a good setting.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Imperial Veterans

For my birthday this year, my sister and her family got me the new X-wing expansion Imperial Veterans.  A larger expansion box for the X-wing miniatures game, this box gives you two repainted miniatures (one TIE Bomber, and one TIE Defender), as well as an array of different upgrade cards, and a new scenerio.

Many trees died to bring us this information...
Probably the most interesting cards in this expansion are the new title cards, which substantially improve the TIE Defender, and add an interesting new option to the TIE Bomber. 

Of these, the TIE/D title is the most exciting, since it allows you to shoot a secondary and a primary at the same target, which when coupled with an ion cannon or the new tractor beam, allows you to damage and restrict the movement of a target in the same round. 

I had the chance to actually PLAY the game this weekend with my buddy, and now my head is awash with grand X-wing campaign ideas... we will see if any of that comes to fruition. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Night Goblin Wolf Rider

In what is a pretty obvious direct (yet inferior) copy of Sebastian's work over at Eastern Empire, I converted this chaos hound to be slightly more wolfy and mounted a night goblin on his back.  This required cutting off the original legs at the waist, using gnobler legs on either side of the wolf, a bit of sculpting, and then result.

I have a few more of these planned, so that I can have a tiny unit for use in some eventual far future Warhammer game (or for various other skirmish/RP usage) 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Warhammer Marauders from Bloodreavers

Recently I won an Ebay auction for the 20 Bloodreavers in the Age of Sigmar Starter set.  I had been bidding the same low price for approximately eight months, so I was pretty pleased!

The goal for these figures is to make a Khorne marked marauder regiment for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which will mean some conversions are needed to get them to rank up.  The models actually fit rather well on 25mm squares, but as they were designed to be skirmishers, they have axes and swords and arms swinging around every which way and it will certainly be a puzzle to get them all into the regiment.

Comparison with my converted Reaper Chaos Champion
Speaking of puzzles, the figures are very cleanly cast (as one would expect from contemporary injection molded figures), but as they are designed with computers for molding, they have what seem to be unusual cut lines. For example the unit champion figure (you get two) has three pieces, body, arm, and unusually, a combined head/arm piece.  Receiving the figures stuffed in a small bag as I did made for a challenging cleaning session, as I tried to match up the various parts.

Comparison with a standard Marauder and between "Franz" and "Jean"
As compared to the older Warhammer Chaos Marauders, you can see that these figures are approximately the same height and mass, however, they are proportioned slightly differently, in that the newer figures have slightly shorter legs, smaller heads and hands, and broader chests... all of which makes them seem slightly more "realistic", at least as much as blood crazed cannibal barbarians can be realistic!

As compared to the older Warhammer Chaos Warriors, you can see that they are again around the same height and mass; however, the Bloodreaver is broader in the shoulder (making allowances for the armor and fur cape), and obviously more chaotic in pose!

Anyway, I will post more pictures when I get the regiment built up, and eventually painted.  With all of that skin, these figures seem suited for a cream colored zenithal highlight...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Necromunda Sniper

Back in the good old days of GW mail order bitz orders, my favorite thing to do was to build custom units created from scouring the catalogs for various alternate figures.  These were still aimed at the usual army book or codex entry, but might feature unique heads, or weapons or alternate figures.  Making the unit for cheaper than retail price was a particular thrill. (E.g. Empire pistoliers made from the Empire command sprue and bitz heads)  My first Steel Legion squad was built in this way, and consequently it featured the elusive Necromunda sniper figure as a regular guardsman.

At the time, I intended to have just the one Steel Legion squad, used as an Armored fist squad in my otherwise foot bound army (made mostly from Catachan plastics, Cadians not yet being available).  Consequently, rather than buy a Steel Legion boxed set, I ordered various blisters and bitz to build the squad, and ended up using the Necromunda sniper figure as an alternate guardsman.  Currently the figure goes for relatively silly amounts on Ebay (One auction in progress has it at £9), but I bought the figure for $4 or whatever the bitz price was.

Necromunda Sniper bare metal
Picture from Collecting Citadel Miniatures Wiki
If you examine the figure closely, as I have while painting it, it becomes clear that this figure was sculpted by someone other than a Perry, and further, that it was probably a trainee piece.  The conclusion can be reached by the somewhat uncomfortable pose of the figure, and because the equipment is clearly not the same as used on the other figures of the range, particularly the bedroll.

Comparison shot of the rear of the figure and some standard Steel Legion troopers.
Necromunda Sniper rear Steel legion
(Photo from bcderue's bucket, found via Google)
Since the Fanatic range tended to release more dubious sculpts from trainees or hired sculptors, it makes sense then that the Necromunda Sniper came out under that banner (as a Necromunda Sniper) rather than as some sort of supplementary blister for the Steel Legion.  Indeed, at the time, the only snipers that the IG had were ratlings, which were later effectively replaced by regiment specific sniper sets, themselves replaced by the Catachan and Cadian command boxes (which includes sniper arms).

In any case, in this man's army, he is just a rifleman, and I have another figure converted from a heavy bolter gunner which I use as a sniper.

Friday, July 1, 2016

INQ28 - Venator part 2

Way back in December of 2014, I showed off a converted Venator figure I made after being inspired by JB the "Asslessman" of Leadplague (an excellent blog you should already be reading).

After quite some time, I finally finished painting the figure, and even better, this weekend I sprayed it with matte sealer so it can be shown off in all of its gritty glory.

Also of note is the base, which marks my first completed INQ28 base.  I decided to go with a fairly typical ruined industrial type of base, which you can see here.

I have a couple of others made up for other figures, but I think that I will be buying the new Sector Imperialis bases to save time.  Adding a few details on top of a base is much easier than creating them all from scratch!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Vinyl Sampling - Part Four Abdul Goldberg

As mentioned in Part One, following Suber's lead, I selected a few Star Wars Miniatures for conversion to use in 40k.

This final figure is special, because I chose him to become the most infamous of Rogue Trader Characters, Abdul Goldberg.  Abdul has been all over the internet lately because the facebook group The Emporium of Rogue Dreams had a contest to create the figure, and Rick Priestly even picked a winner. 

Anyway, my Abdul Goldberg is made from this figure:

I cut off the original head, added a belt and a dagger, and changed his mon calimari wrist into a controller of some kind.  I have liked the look of a keffiyeh scarf for a while, and it seemed in keeping with the background, so he got one. Abdul seemed like the sort of fellow that would have a big belt buckle, so he got one of those too (it is a little hard to see, but it has Alpha Gamma written on it in Attic Greek letters).  The white uniform was inspired by watching the trailer for Rogue One for the 100th time.

That concludes this round of Vinyl Sampling, but I am sure that there will eventually be more... I do after all, have a large number of excess SW figures...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Vinyl Sampling - Part Three

As mentioned in Part One, following Suber's lead, I selected a few Star Wars Miniatures for conversion to use in 40k.

This time I used the following figures as a base:

The first guy is sort of a cheat, since all I did with him is repaint. The base figure is quite good, although a bit slender for 40k, being more "true scale".

The second guy got a new head and a scarf, which transformed him from an alien into a gangly pilot.  As I worked on his helmet, I was inspired by a fairly obvious source...

Bases are unfinished, but will eventually match all the other Inq28 figures.  I did go back and paint them black, which helps the figures look better in the short term (or given my project speed, long term) before they are rebased.

More to come in Part Four with a special character.