Thursday 31 January 2013

Death Company Stormraven Gunship 3

As highlighted in my previous post, the need for some extra firepower and mobility in my current army is paramount. As such, I have skipped on detailing the interior (for now) and proceeded to assemble my Stormraven Gunship, and have it ready for base coating over the weekend:

Ready for undercoating!

Of course, going back and finishing the interior would have been a nightmare had I not magnetised the top to be removable. This allows for a quick outside paint job in a 'three colour minimum' for my local gaming store, while still allowing future conversions and detailing. It also has the added benefit of being disassemble-able for transport!

My current 'light box' is too small for this guy.

The magnetising was a little rushed and I will probably go back an fill a few gaps here and there to make it a little prettier and also stronger, but the basic ideas has worked! Now to magnetise the weapons...

A few gaps here and there, but solid enough for long term use.

You can see the strength of the magnets used in the video below:

Monday 28 January 2013

A Lesson in Chaos

This weekend I played my first few games in a local "Crusade of Fire" Campaign, a great chance to play against some new armies I don't usually game against. I brought my usual Imperial Guard/Blood Angels combination, and lost miserably. I was outgunned, outmaneuvered and out-zombied!

So many Zombies!

First up was a game against the new 'Zombie Horde' of Typhus and his Chaos Cultists with Feel No Pain. Backed by a Noise Marines (ignore cover) and Orks (with Kustom Force Field covered Killa Kans packing Grot Blastas) I had  a hard time choosing the 'best' target for my Heavy Weapons, while my Blood Angels drowned under a horde of Cultists:

Very few places to Deep Strike on a 4'x4' board full of models. 1250 point battles never looked so impressive!

In the end I conceded the game, down 5-1 Kill/Victory Points with very little left on the table:

I conceded before the amusing prospect of an Obliterator manning my Quad Gun became reality.

My second game provided an opportunity to teach an ill-equipped opponent the power of Imperial Guard orders and precision Deep Strikes from my Blood Angels. Facing Chaos Daemons, whose entire army Deep Strike in, I spread out in deployment and crossed my fingers for some bad scatter rolls on their part. Much to my dismay (putting it mildly) only one of my opponent's nine Deep Strike rolls in the entire game actually scattered, leaving my Imperial Guard standing behind a wall of tissue paper as three units of Flamers of Tzeentch landed dead on target, using their template weapons to maximum advantage and completely ignoring my AEGIS Defence Line!

Text book Daemon Deployment with zero scatter.

I rallied (in confidence at least) with the arrival of my Blood Angels, opened up with my Lasguns and made meals of the Plaguebearers and took out a few Flamers to boot. My Lascannon even knocked out a Soul Grinder as well!

Now you see them...

Alas, it all went downhill with the arrival of the 'Masque' who, in pied-piper style, had my Blood Angels dance a merry jig into an even tighter ball for the Flamers to roast. Even with Feel No Pain, some snazzy 'Look Out Sir!' rolling, and saves made against my Storm Shield wielding sergeant, the weight of templates took their toll. I have no idea what this loss means for the campaign, but things are looking grim for the Imperial Defenders. you don't.

These recent games have begun to question the flexibility of an Imperial Guard 'Blob' behind an AEGIS Defence Line. A lack of mobile protection and flexibility are the glaring weaknesses, with the opponent either ignoring the Defences entirely (Flamers) or not really caring about the additional cover (Zombie Horde). One thing is for sure, these games have highlighted my desperate need to get cracking on my Stormraven Gunship!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Imperial Guard Sentinel Diorama: Construction

I started this blog after finishing my favourite model to date, a diorama of an Imperial Guard Sentinal for a local painting competition. I always use it as inspiration when a modelling project drags on too long as it took only one month from start to finish (including painting!) and is a constant reminder of how much modelling I can get done if I put down the computer and get stuck in!

Starting with plastic scraps, a cork and some green stuff...

...I created my usual pavement pattern (inspired by the bathroom tiles).

A few Lego blocks add some height for the 'injured' Space Marine.

Raiding the bits box yielded no legs, so I made do.

Inspired by Trajan's Column I added surface details to the cork.

I saved time by making the wall out of green stuff, rather than complete Lego.

A scale reference for the column details.

The completed model, ready for paint!

Sunday 20 January 2013

Hobby: Spraying models on a cold day

Recently I have had a chance to finish some miniatures and put them up on the blog (see 'Completed' above). I'm never one to tread carefully around them from then on though, with many a miniature getting chipped in transport and through general wargaming use. I've actually been clumsy enough to drop someone else's models at a tournament once (which shattering as it toppled off the table), and spent the rest of the game having my models moved for me as I was politely asked to take a step back from the table.

With this in mind I always try to apply a protective clear coat or varnish to models once they are completed.

The Horror Story:

The models on the centre and right have been sprayed using a matte clear finish, which cause 'ghosting'.

When I first moved to Canada from Australia I had little knowledge of spraying in cold environments and proceeded as usual: cardboard box on a chair, spray the models, leave the can outside while they dry, come back 10 minutes later and spray the other side. Only problem was, I came back only to find severe 'ghosting' had occurred as the clear coat dried, which proceeded to worsen as each coat was applied.

I took the (what I assumed to be faulty) can back to the store with the models and was able to get a refund and a few tips as well as a change of brand, but since then I have always been careful to follow a few simple rules to prevent having to repaint anything in the future!

My initial solution was to apply a clear coat with a brush, preventing any possible spray problems. I have had great success with Games Workshop's Clear Varnish (now renamed 'Ard Coat), and I even use it to seal sections of a model as I finish painting them, to prevent damage to the completed areas.

The reds have been clear coated on the centre model to protect them while I painted the metal areas.

This was all well and good, but shiny models tend to look like they have been 'dipped' to create the shading, and look less 'grim dark' (The Warhammer 40,000 style) and more G.I. Joe. The solution for me has lay partly in the choice of product, and in the method of spraying.

The same model when finished, with the addition of a matte clear coat.

The Solution:

Firstly, it is good to know how the white 'ghosting' occurs. As I understand it, the pressurised propellant and paint mixture rapidly drops in temperature as it exits the nozzle, picking up some of the ambient air in the process. If any part of this mixture (most likely any water in the air) freezes before it reaches the model, the paint does not dry or adhere evenly, and instead forms patches across the surface of the model, causing the 'ghosting' as above.

What causes this to happen? Low Temperatures and High Humidity.

You want to make sure the can is as warm as possible before spraying. The models are outside because of the fumes!

Having switched to Testor's Dullcoat (now labelled as a generic 'Spray Lacquer' with a frosted lid to denote the matte clear coat) I have had zero problems when spraying with a well shaken can, which remains inside at a temperature of 25 degrees celsius (77 F), even between coats. The models can stay outside in low temperatures, I have sprayed right down to 2 degrees celsius (35 F) with no problems. Once the warm paint mixture has reached them the cold temperatures serve only to slow the drying process. Patience is the key for multiple coats! Please note, I have done no high humidity testing, 40k and tropical holidays with your significant other don't tend to work well together!

Always remember the basics when using a spray can, you want light even coats at an equal distance.
Never start or stop spraying at a model. 
The current Testors packaging.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Death Company Stormraven Gunship 2

I said I wouldn't, so I did. I re-made the skulls on the Death Company Stormraven Gunship, this time referencing an existing skull rather than poking holes in a blob of green stuff. Looking good so far, both sides converted, just a few skulls left to model.

I've also taken the time to work out a nifty way of covering the Milliput on the inside by hanging some Blood Angel banners on the interior. This set off a chain of ideas for a gothic interior, but more on that later. Recently Games Workshop have introduced pre-sculpted banners on a lot of their models, removing the need for freehand painting. Knowing I tend to sculpt better than paint, I followed suit with some of my own.

I always look to the obvious for inspiration, imitation is the best form of flattery!

Blister pack plastic card, scored and coated in green stuff. The centre putty was too thin.

Shown above with only their base coat I am quite happy with how they turned out. I actually ran out of black paint and wash so I ended up using Charadon Granite for the black sections, with an Agrax Earthshade for the wash. I may do a little non-metallic metal on the skull 'cup' once the rest of the interior is done. Let me know your thoughts!

I attempted some candles using brush protectors, watch this space.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Completed: Imperial Guard Cadian Squad 1

It's always nice to finally finish a complete squad for your army. With the basing having remained unfinished on these guys for a number of months due to indecision, I'm proud to say this is the first of (hopefully) many squads to be done in the same style. See the matching Zombie Guardsmen here.

There are many basing theories that say you must base a light model on a dark base, and vice versa, and I had originally decided upon a camouflage pattern for the armour, but instead painted it to match the basing colours for the same effect, throwing all theories out the window. The tiles are made from green stuff to match the allied Blood Angels, with a little more grit and grass for variation. I really like how it turned out. I have also decided against weathering the armour to keep them crisp and visible on the tabletop.

This morning was so sunny I used my usual light box in a dappled corner, set up some diffusing baking paper and let the camera do the rest. Still a little fuzzy, but getting better! Let me  know what you think.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Hobby: Magnetising Assault Marine Jump Packs

With my Death Company ditching their jump packs in the near future for a shiny new Stormraven Gunship, I want to continue using my existing models in upcoming games while being able to easily migrate to normal Space Marine backpacks, all without having to purchase or build double the models. Hobby Magnets are an easy way to make weapons, wargear and sections of vehicle removable, and a great way to make models outlast the current 'meta', or flavour of the month.


To begin with I carefully pulled the existing Jump Packs off using a sturdy blade, then proceeded to drill out the sections of both parts to be magnetised. You can file these sections off easily with a hobby file during the assembly process while the models are unpainted, but I found it easier to use a rotary tool to remove sections of the torso without risking damage to shoulder pad or legs.

Best tool for quick converting, a high rpm air drill. A Dremel will work just as well.

I often lament the lack of an airbrush, and living in a small apartment six stories up has been my main excuse not to dabble with them, but my greatest hobby asset is working a manual labour job. If you don't want to shell out for a complete workshop or change of career I have had great success with and can highly recommend Dremel hobby drills.

Magnetising the Model

Once you have made a hole roughly the same size as your magnet I find it best to 'glue' them in with green stuff or equivalent modelling putty. This will set hard enough to hold your magnet while allowing correct positioning without having to file precisely or get your hands covered in glue. The pictures are not exactly step-by-step but give you a good idea of how I applied the green stuff, used an un-magnetised jump pack to ensure a flush fit, then filed down the area once it was cured overnight.

Magnetising the Jump Pack

The following pictures are a little more helpful, showing the size of hole drilled, the extra step of pushing the green stuff up to the edges of the magnet for better grip. I allowed this first stage of green stuff to cure, then applied a second dab to make a flush fit between the magnet at the rest of the jump pack. Before this stage you want to make sure you have the correct polarity! Here I simply attached the line of magnets to the already cured body, then stuck the jump pack on the end. This can be tricky to remove the magnets leaving only one behind, but if you have long enough fingernails you can slide the whole lot off, leaving just one attached. Metal tools make things interesting too.

Magnetising the Backpack

This is pretty much the same as the step above. Check polarity, slide to remove and either add more green stuff to fill gaps, or cut away the excess as pictured. Backpacks have an easy squared of face to make sure the magnet is level, but you can always use the edge of a table or stiff card to square it off.

The Finished Models

All ready for some paint. You may need to touch up any unpainted areas exposed by removing the jump packs.

Painting Magnets?

When I first magnetised my jump packs I tried painting them. I tried double varnish, let them dry for weeks, used automotive touch up paint, all without preventing what you see below: chipped paint. I have since scraped back to bare magnets, as they are designed to be knocked against each other anyway. If you are using them for removable weapons on vehicles you may want to cover the exposed magnet with a decorative attachment?

When it comes to painting the rest of the model, it is very easy to just paint over the magnet as well with your base coat and just scrape the paint off with a sculpting tool. Always avoid filing the magnet during assembly as the metal flakes are difficult to remove and can get into your paints/brushes.

Avoid chips by leaving the magnets unpainted.

Choosing the 'right' size magnet

One subject I haven't touched on is what size of magnet to use. My local FLGS (friendly local gaming store) only had one size in stock the first time, so the choice was easy. I have since tried smaller magnets for my Imperial Guard and found them to be far too weak. My goal is always to have the joint strong enough to pick the model up by the part to be magnetised, and these actually fell off when move the model by the base, let alone picking them up by the arm! The choice is a little trial and error, but bigger is usually better.

"Too small and it will fall off"

An indication of the strength of the magnets used.

Saturday 5 January 2013

Death Company Stormraven Gunship 1

Santa really delivered this year, and in the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of getting to grips with the largest Games Workshop model I have ever built. That is to say, built for it's intended purpose. I once 'put together' a Land Raider for use as an Ork Battlewagon, so let's make the distinction here and say this is the largest model I have ever actually followed the assembly instructions for!

Testing a few ideas, taken from the Blood Angels Codex

As with most of my models I like to add some conversions, and as there is no way of making the 'Flying Brick' any more attractive without major kit-bashing I have decided to leave the structure largely unchanged, and instead add Death Company details to each of the larger panels. The Death Company is comprised of soldiers who have become so consumed with fighting they have lost the ability to function in normal society and are instead destined to die in battle (marked by their black armour), as they are overcome with the memories of their Primarch Sanguinius' final hours where he was cut down by the traitor Horus, ten thousand years before the current Warhammer 40,000 universe.

As their method of transport to their final battle, it could almost be treated as a flying homage to both the Death Company and to Sanguinius himself. This week I started with some easy 'skulls' as pictured above, and continued assembling the chassis.

Click for a larger version.

I used some Instant-Mold to form the mold for the hollow sections, then building them up with Milliput Black (much harder then normal Milliput). A few skulls of Green Stuff finish off the details, and I may go back and make some better skulls in the future. As with most modelling projects it's very easy to get carried away making all the small details as perfect as possible, but in this case I hope to push on and let the complete model speak for itself. Even without conversions I will probably take months to finish this guy!

Size comparison. I can't wait to detail the base!