Monday, 18 December 2017

Azrael: a 40K journey

Hi folks,

Do you have a Warhammer 40K character that particularly resonates with you? Perhaps there is a character that you have used more than any other, or one that has a particularly interesting background story. Maybe they allow you to use your favourite army in a certain way, which improves the whole gaming experience for you.

When I first laid eyes on the Angels of Death Codex, Supreme Grand Masters Azrael immediately caught my interest. His stats were average for his rank (lots of 7s for those who know what I am talking about), which put him behind the likes of Dante and Mephiston, who were also in the book. He had a higher strategy rating, which meant a higher chance of getting the first turn. He had the Sword of Secrets, which could take heads pretty well, and a combi-plasma which could put out a fairly high volume of shots. He also came with a nifty little helmet bearer, which provided a protective bubble of invulnerable saves. Rules-wise, pretty solid. But more than this... his sword was also a key. The helmet bearer wasn't human. The helmet wasn't his.

For the sake of that first game, I made a cardboard cut-out to represent Azrael. I took on a squad of Wolf Guard Terminators and Ragnar Blackmane, which I picked off with my Devastators under the cover of the Lion Helm. When I started running out of bodies, I ran Azrael up the field and gutted the Wolf Guard in close combat. We ended the game after many, many, turns of Azrael and Blackmane trading blows and making saves. As far as Lion and the Wolf games go, it was an epic first encounter.

40K had sunk its' hooks into me.

I couldn't afford any 40K miniatures for a long time after my first game, so I made a bunch of these folded card proxies. I couldn't afford a codex either, so I painstakingly hand copied the Dark Angels army list to use. That kept me going in the game for about a year! At some stage I started getting some pocket money, which a spent on 3rd edition Magic: The Gathering cards. I had a great time playing MtG with my mates and won a heap of cards playing ante. When it got stale, I sold them off* and bought my first 40K figures. When Legion of the Damned didn't work out for me ("too cheesy", cried my soulless** friends). I turned to my first love: Dark Angels. I did end up getting an Azrael figure; KuriboGoomba threatened to eat my helmet bearer after one fateful game, but I painted it pretty badly.

Fast forward 20 years, and I sent Sgt Waz off with an Azrael proxy that I had converted (me and Azrael proxies go way back). He returned with this beauty.

I will call him "chip"

To ensure that he fit in with the rest of my army, I replaced some of the red and white of the tabard with brown, bronze and gold. I also dry-brushed some extra white over the helmet bearer, to match my other robes, and re-based both figures. I don't think any of the changes constitute an improvement over the original, but up against the rest of my models, he now fits in very nicely.

So, it feels very much like I have come full circle. Today I picked up my copy of the new Dark Angels Codex and I have a spiffy Azrael proxy to use. Now all I need is some Wolf Guard to gut :-)

See you across the table,


* I bought my old MtG cards back online for my Birthday this year. Gah! The nostalgia!

** Seriously, the Animus Malorum wargear card used to drain the souls of enemy models and use them to resurrect Legion of the Damned Marines. I had great fun with that one... perhaps too much fun.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Paint My Present: Grand Master Voldus TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

I am working on a couple of Grey Knight figures for The Trooper at the moment and Voldus is the first to reach completion. That is despite an overwhelming amount of detail! The Trooper had requested for me not to add too much gold to the scheme, so I was able to cut a few corners this time. If I got some for myself though I can see them taking me months to paint.

One of my jobs was to drill out the barrels, which I always find a nerve-wracking job, particularly with stormbolters. When there are two holes that you need to drill in relation to each other it is easier to see mistakes, but I haven't done these two too badly. I drilled small pilot holes for these ones using a hobby knife, followed by a smaller drill piece, before using the bolter barrel sized drill piece.

The head was really fun to paint, with lots of interesting parts, i.e. the cap, hose, eyes and beard. I have never painted a bearded marine before, I think next time I will paint the head before I assemble the model.

Looking at this photo I think I will need to touch up the purity seal on the shoulder pad: the joys of miniature photography! There is also a spot of red that shouldn't be there, I'll give you a biscuit if you can see it :-)

I am pretty happy with how the robes turned out, even though I didn't spend all that much time on them. I also had a bit of a giggle giving this guy a Big Black Book. I'm sure Voldus can rules-lawyer some daemons into oblivion :-)

So, apart from a few little touch-ups, I'm calling this guy done. Next up I have 5 Grey Knights and a Predalien (!) to paint, as well as some fun stuff for my Nids. I am also hanging out for the release of the Dark Angels Codex!!

See you across the table,


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Clan Ghost Bear: Second Line Star TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

My mate KuriboGoomba came over a few days ago and was searching through out Facebook messages to see when it was that we agreed on this paint scheme. To my chagrin, it was over four years ago! That is a long time to sit on the shelves unloved. Ahhh well, apart from some decals, I'm finally calling them done.

For those of you who do not plat Battletech, here is a quick rundown of what you see:

1) Incubus

Armed with a suite of pulse lasers and a very powerful engine, this little guy runs circles around just about every other Mech and fires highly accurate shots.

2) Horned Owl (conversion from Shadow Hawk IIC stock)

A bit slower than the Incubus, but with extensive jumping capability it doesn't need to run circles around anything. It just jumps behind you and cores you out with its pulse lasers.

3) Grizzly

A tad slower than most Mechs its size, but more resilient, the Grizzly continues the theme of delivering highly accurate pulse laser fire. In addition to this close range punch, it can also snipe with its gauss rifle and LRM 10 launcher.

4) Stone Rhino

With two gauss rifles, this beast is a head-capping nightmare. Taking it out is extremely difficult, as it is massively armoured.

5) Kodiak

Sheer brutality in Mech form. Eight extended range medium lasers are enough to destroy just about anything in the game with a few volleys. Add to that an ER Large Laser for sniping, two Streak SRM 6's for punching holes in vital bits and an Ultra AC 20 autocannon for DELETING things, and you have yourself one hell of a totem Mech.

Now for my next trick: Grey Knights!

See you across the table,


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Hivefleet Numereji: Tyrannocyte Proxy

Hi folks,

Today I took a trip to my favourite hobby shop: Combat Company. I was on the prowl for a Christmas present for Sgt Waz (more about that later) and some curios. All things considered, it ended up being a very fruitful visit.

Combat Company is one of those shops that I could pitch a tent in and stay for the weekend. They supply a whole bunch of different miniatures games and loads of conversion parts, terrain, bases and playing aids to go with them. They also sell paints, brushes, hobby tools and rare earth magnets. As someone who really loves kitbashing and conversions, I go a little bit crazy. So many possibilities!

Being no great fan of the Tyrranocyte spores, and aiming for a Jormungandr feel, these "Hive Lurkers" from Micro Art Studios caught my attention. They are about the right size, they are borrowing nicely, have armour plates that fit the Nid aesthetic and for $23 AUD for two... well, I couldn't say no.

I think those eyes will look great with the glowing green effect I use on my Tyranid figures. The material is a light plastic foam, so I am not game to spray undercoat it. Just to give you an idea of scale, here is one next to a termagant:

They have double the footprint than the Tyrannocyte, which may cause some troubles with placement at times, but I think that is a small price to pay for something so characterful. Obviously I won't be rocking up to GW with these.

I also picked up a couple of Aliens themed objective markers from Secret Weapon, to go with the Tyranid Warriors I am working on.

Finally, I picked up some simple, industrial-themed bases, for a squad of Deathwing Terminators that I will be adding to my Space Hulk collection at some point. With new rules coming out for Genestealer Cults in Space Hulk I am really looking forward to playing a few more games. It'll be a good excuse to pick up some Hybrids as well!

When I haven't been buying stuff, I have been working hard on the "Paint My Present" projects I blogged about a few days ago. I am getting close to finishing one of them, which I am hoping to post about tomorrow.

See you across the table,


Monday, 27 November 2017

Paint My Present!

Hi folks,

With Christmas looming, it is time to take stock of the projects I am working on for my mates. Ideally, I want to get all of these done before Christmas Day, which is going to take some shenanigans. Thankfully, I am only two weeks away from school holidays, which should give me some free time.

1) Grey Knights

The Trooper has been on a real painting kick this year, getting heaps of models finished for his Blood Angels army. I gave him these Grey Knights a couple of years ago as a moving in present (to ward off lingering Daemons and all that...), and he decided to have a craic at them too. With all of the base colours and the most important washes done, these guys are ready for some detail work. Included in this lot is Grand Master Voldus, who I would like to spend some extra time on.

2) Haramaki Zensenbutai with Missile Launcher

This guy is a left over from last year's epic 300 pt Yu Jing speed paint-fest. After playing his Infinity army a couple of times proxying a missile launcher, The Trooper actually went out and bought one of the blighters. Having painted a couple of them last year, I am pretty confident I can knock over this job quickly. I am not looking forward to taking him on again on the tabletop; last game this model sniped from a rooftop and took out the majority of my Ariadna force single-handed.

3) Ghost Bear Mechs

These miniatures for Battletech are long overdue, but I have been making quite a bit of progress with them. I'm hoping to get the last three finished for KuriboGoomba by the start of next week. Just a dozen or so tiny lenses to go...

4) Guija Yu Jing TAG

Sgt Waz got up to this stage before running out of steam; all airbrushing and washes by the looks of it. To free him up to do some more pressing projects, I have agreed to finish this one off for KuriboGoomba as well. NMM is the standard for these figures, so I am going to go slightly crazy painting this one.

5) Sapphon, Dark Angels Master of Chaplains

Something for me! This guy is going to have a jump pack and bounce around with my newly reformed Assault Squad. I have been using this model on-and-off since I started playing the game; super excited to be finally painting it ;-)

See you across the table,


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Dark Angels Nephilim Jetfighter: TO-DONE!

Hi folks,

There is something a bit... Batman... about the Nephilim. When I decided to repaint this one I wanted to make it a lot darker than what I was used to seeing, which meant changing the wing colour scheme and the missiles so that it all blends in a bit more with the black fuselage. I think what I have produced is decidedly more grim/dark, but I will let you be the ultimate judge of that.

I have never been a huge fan of flyers in the 40K game. When they were introduced it felt a lot like a game of scissors-paper-rock had turned into scissors-paper-rock-lizard-Spock (and my army had no lizards, or Spocks). I still feel that they are a little misplaced on a 40K gaming table, particularly when other gaming systems have some pretty neat rules for flying units that make more sense (looking at you Battletech: Alpha Strike). To give me the push that I needed, my mates gave me this Nephilim and a Storm Eagle transport, which I split between my Dark Angels and Iron Snakes.

I really enjoyed painting the metallics on those wings, I was really rough with it which felt liberating after all of the detail work on the lenses. One of the last jobs I had to do was the black highlights, which I kept pretty sharp.

I played around with the colours on the engines a little bit, painting some of the internal parts gold with a green wash just for kicks. I like the way that the colours match the base, creating a kind of visual link between the two; I'm weird that way.

I also added a bit of a blue/purple glow to the end of the engine, just to add a bit of light coloured detail to the rear view. Again, the colour ties in nicely with the river on the base, which is a technique I like to use.

As I mentioned last post, my mates added some Epic scale Space Marine figures to the base to establish a bit of forced perspective, to make the flyer look like it was flying higher above the battlefield. I loved the concept to bits, so I added to it a fraction with the addition of a river and some trees, which match my gaming board appearance pretty closely. The effect is great for a display piece, which this model will be for most of the time. Of course when it is next to other models the suspension of belief is a lot harder to maintain. That doesn't bother me too much, flyers shouldn't be pulling such tight maneuvers 20 m off the ground anyway!

Overall, I am very happy with how this project turned out. I think I have made it look a little more sinister, whilst still maintaining the features that my mates worked so hard on. Drum-roll: big orange stamp!

See you across the table,


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Forced Perspective Bases

Hi folks,

The last step of my Nephilim Jetfighter project is to finish off the base. As I mentioned last post, when my mates gave me the model they had based it with some Epic-scale figures, to introduce some forced perspective.

"Forced perspective is a technique which employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera."

In this case, the figures on the base are supposed to make it look like the Jetfighter is doing a higher altitude pass over the battlefield. When I saw what they had done I loved it, I don't think I had ever seen anything like it before. As part of the re-painting process, I decided I would add some extra details to the base but retain and enhance the forced perspective. To kick things off, I scraped off some of the old basing material and marked out where I wanted the river to be with a white base coat.

Next I painted the river using Caledor Sky for the deeper water, blending from Teclis Blue to Lothern Blue on the shore.


I was planning to add some sandy shores to the river, to match the river on my gaming board. The material I used on my board was shell grit, which has some fairly large shell pieces in it. To enhance the forced perspective I used a mortar and pestle to crush some of the grit into much finer grains. I cleaned the mortar and pestle with vinegar when I was finished (it dissolves the calcium carbonate of any left over shell).

To apply the grit I used PVA glue, which I painted on with a brush on the banks of the river. 

So that was the neat, tidy... rational, painless part. After that I sprinkled the crushed grit on the base and let it dry for an hour or so. Stupidly, I used my breath to blow the excess off the base and got a fair whack of it in my eyes. Thankfully (?) I have had some experience with this kind of accident, so managed to keep my eyes jammed open until I could get under the shower and flush them thoroughly. Ten minutes later the excitement was over and my eyes were 0% gritty. Next time, I'm just going to give it a blast with my airbrush, or wear some damn safety glasses (I have enough pairs of them).

 To cover the bulk of the base I used the summer/spring flock mix that I always use. I mixed a big batch of this stuff when I first did my gaming boards, the day it runs out I swear the sky will fall.

I added the two remaining Epic-scale marines to the base, which had fallen off during the removal of the original basing material. I also chopped up a Citadel jungle tree and used the smallest fronds to represent some larger trees around the base.

To finish it off I applied a 1 mm layer of water effects to the river. The surface tension of the water effects is very strong (the intermolecular forces are strong in this one...) so there were no troubles with it flowing over the shoreline or the edge of the base. 

...and that's how I left it for the night. It usually takes over 12 hours for the water effects I use to set, so I didn't touch the base again until the next day. Then I whipped some black around the base edge and called it done! Tomorrow I'll post the final pictures of the whole project.

See you across the table,