Sunday, 28 December 2014

Blood Angels on New "32mm" Bases

I was just putting the finishing touches to my Blood Angels re-basing project when the first rumours of a new Blood Angels codex for 2014 surfaced mid-year. Not wanting to go through the pain of pulling weapons off arms or trashing painted models entirely (I'm looking at you, Rechlusiarch!) I stuck with a three colour minimum and played many games while waiting for the right time to start painting the Sons of Sanguinius in detail. Well, not only am I now painting them with different weapons and characters as expected, but Games Workshop have thrown me under the bus with a new base size!

You may recall I had been using the Imperialis Basing Kit (now out of production) for some of my non-power armoured models, so I thought I would extend the theme across to the new base size. The Imperialis kit includes a set of five 50mm bases, so I was able to create some 32mm bases by cutting and rounding off these resin pieces. I also purchased a Manufactorum scenery kit and cut the walls to size, creating some nice bases to match the Imperialis kit. Below you can see the start of my Assault Squad, making use of new Tactical Squad parts to add more Blood Angel details.

I am yet to go over the joins and pin holes with green stuff, but already I love the "stance" of the new models. Sure you may have trouble fitting models in scenery but they certainly won't tip over as much as the 25mm wobbly bases. I also love the way a whole squad of power armour looks, with the amount of board space occupied much more fitting for heavily armoured models.

With my new (basic) airbrush I look forward to quickly painting these guys up ready for battle. Tactical Marines have been a Blood Angels staple for me since Second Edition, add in a Heavy Flamer and they're bound to be my go to unit for 2015, riding in their Razorback. With an extra 12" movement thanks to new psychic powers there's no need for jump packs!

Librarian on the left, Inquisitor on the right. The new base size definitely adds extra height and "look at me" factor for power armoured models. I will probably end up using my Inquisitor as my Warlord as I much prefer the Ordo Xenos Warlord Traits and standard Tactical Objectives than the Blood Angels offerings. Hopefully the smaller base size and weedy looking model will make him less of a target for opponents.

Finally, a comparison between the two base sizes. No overhanging feet, the power armour shoulder guards frame up well with the edges of the 32mm base, and the whole model feels a lot more stable when positioned in difficult terrain. I look forward to sharing some painting progress photos with you in the New Year.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Blood Angels 7th Edition Codex Thoughts/Review

As the name of his blog suggests, I am a big fan of red armoured Space Marines, having danced around the board with the (nearly) invincible Mephiston, stuck my tongue out at Daemon Princes and hive Tyrants thanks to Corbulo's 2+ Feel No Pain, and driven my points reduced Objective Secured Land Raiders and Razorbacks over many a Tactical Objective in the latest iteration of the 40k rules. So what does the new codex bring to the table, given all of the examples above have been removed from the Codex? With the Codex in hand for the last two days and the internet seemingly devoid of any analysis other than rules listings I hope to share some of my opinions and ways this book will be changing my army lists.

Hardcover Quality or price gouge?

I must say I was very skeptical of the price increases when the hard cover books were launched. I picked up the cheaper digital Codex Adeptus Astartes when it was released as I was already sick of lugging too many books around (and allied most of the cost reduced portions as 'counts as' Blood Angels) but found the lack of tactile feedback really reduced the whole army building and gaming experience. Sure I could tap to gain special rules instantly, but when you've been playing since 2nd Ed you don't need to know the stats of a Plasma Pistol. This time around I reserved my copy of the physical book (noting that GW have split the digital editions into three confusing price levels) and have flicked pages to my hearts content all weekend. The price did sting a little and the level of hobby content in the Codex is way below any previous version, way too little for a supplementary rule book. The pictures are not flattering (I can see paint chips and mold lines), the painting guides have been removed, and everything aimed at the collector and gamer rather than the hobby enthusiast. The layout is much improved, however, with paper quality, full colour printing and excellent new artwork making up for the lack of conversions or special scenery display pieces.

So many Special Rules!

With the changes from 5th, to 6th, to 7th Editions of 40k "Special Rules" drastically changing the way the army played it has been difficult to keep up with the options available to you when building an army. Thankfully, GW have streamlined the new book. Furious Charge is now army wide and listed in the model stats, the bonus to Initiative when charging is now conferred by Corbulo or the use of the "Baal Strike Force" detachment (which removed Objective Secured by the way!), and the increased Weapon Skill of certain models is now a bonus from Sanguinary Priest's Holy Grails. This should not be confused with the general "Apothecary" Feel No Pain, as the Sanguinary Novitiate of the Command Squad now confers FNP without the bonus to WS provided by a grail (and actually matches the model to the fluff!). It's been much easier now to compare army lists and units in this way, and with the removal of units like Honour Guard and no more Force Organisation Chart manipulation with Special Characters I enjoy mixing and matching units based on their merits rather than being "auto include" to make X troops and so on. Everything now scores, even Death Company! (I still remember running those guys in 5th Edition and having them charge headlong through dangerous terrain and die with no saving throw. Progress!).

WYSIWYG and GW's new "Detachments" army building model.

Speaking of the merits of certain units, I still feel GW don't know their left arm from their right with regard points costs of certain characters. Tycho is an absolute joke, going from striking at initiative and ignoring armour to now having absolutely no hand to hand combat weapon! I understand the need to match the rules to the model ("what you see is what you get") but we might as well save the trees or just glue the pages together as I certainly won't be fielding him any more. I will save any discussion of Mephiston until I can game with him (and tear off the wings I modelled to his backpack...) but Dante is the word on the street and tops any "what's hot" list even without any of the upcoming Jump Infantry Detachments adding further bonuses. I really like the new way of building armies with Detachment bonuses. I can mix and match between Objective Secured troops and paying extra for Corbulo's special rules, or striking at Initiative +1 army wide with the new Baal Strike Force detachment included in the codex. Add in the option of taking an Inquisitor as my warlord for Preferred Enemy/Hatred Warlord Traits, and the game is really moving forward to match many of the contemporary rivals in terms of flexibility and variety of options when list building. I certainly see merit in collecting less armies but being able to access a variety of campaign supplements, digital dataslates and white dwarf rules to change each army list drastically. Putting an Inquisitor with Liber Heresius inside my Land Raider for a 12" scout move? Who needs Baal Predators anyway!

The new balance?

I was quite underwhelmed when Codex Orks was released, there seemed little to be excited about now the game has moved on from the "every codex is better than the last" release schedule which changed the game drastically every six months. I may have had my misgivings regarding the increased release pacing (and sold one of my four armies to pay for rules and new models for the others), but I am now excited to work with what feel like much more balanced rules set. 7th Edition tidied up a whole lot of loose ends, things like battle brothers embarking on transports combines nicely with the move of transports to fast attack, and the removal of Corbulo's 2+ FNP and Mephiston's 12" move-then-charge options don't seem such a loss when army/detachment wide buffs inspire the return to mass troops and elites of editions past. I always felt a bit awkward with the "hero hammer" side of things, and love the artwork where hundreds of models and tanks do battle with each other, rather than one model absolutely dominating. Eldar/Tau aside I really feel the new Codex releases are keeping the long term health of the game alive, as no longer will the most junior gamer at the store be hampered in buying a few boxes of troops to start painting and gaming with only to have one model steamroll through the whole lot. He/she can always get a Lord of War for Christmas as payback ;)

Forcing my hand.

The first and last things which really jumped out at me with the new Codex Blood Angels are the new Psychic Powers and Tactical Objective cards. First because they seem amazingly useful compared to recent releases, with Tactical Objectives rewarding fast assault based army selection at the Victory Point level of the game (there is even a Noble Sacrifice card which gives you a victory point if your Warlord dies in combat!), and the return of awesome Blood Angel Psychic Powers like Blood Lance (S8 AP1 Lance) and Unleash Rage which adds attacks and stacks with the Rage Special Rule! Lastly because I had a quick glance at the Librarian page today only to find these powers replace my beloved Telepathy options. No more Invisible Land Raider unfortunately, though Shield of Sanguinius is now an invulnerable save, rather than cover save, and can be cast before the Assault Phase once disembarked which is useful. It's also worth noting the new Blood Angel specific Tactical Objectives replace six Secure Objective cards, so if you like to zoom around the board with fast bikes and rhinos seizing objectives you may be better off trying for a non Blood Angel Warlord as these are now mandatory if you plan on using Dante or similar to lead your forces.

In Conclusion.

So I've laid all my fan-boy cards on the table as you can probably tell, though the new Codex price really hurt to the point of dropping one of my armies given the shorter release window and limited hobby time. I am enjoying building army lists using the adjusted prices and newer wargear (hello Graviton!) and will be relying less on heroic models and more on Troops and Elites to do the heavy lifting. With bonuses to Strength, Initiative, Weapon Skill, Attacks, and the usual Feel No Pain and Fleet options all available, I am looking forward to combining units on Jump Pack and in transports to keep the flexibility and mobility of previous Blood Angels armies. A squad of Scouts have been objective sitting for me since 7th Edition was launched, and if Tactical Marines in Razorbacks is the new way of running a Combined Arms Detachment then I don't have a problem dusting off my Jump Pack infantry now the points are more reasonable and I can model the chainsword models on foot as a Command Squad. Everything does a bit of a shuffle, and you can always run Unbound for a full Jump Pack army! Definitely once of the better 7th Edition releases, can't wait to have a game or two.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

54mm Terminator (Part One)

I have always wanted to try and make a model from "scratch" though I have found the standard Warhammer 40,000 size difficult to sculpt without losing detail when compared to similar scaled miniatures. I tried making a few armatures earlier this year but never returned to complete the actual sculpting, and my armature tool had sat unused in the cupboard along with the small wire frames on equally small corks. Recently I have seen sculptors and painters using much larger wooden blocks to grasp their model, so I set out to replicate these blocks. One thing led to another and I found myself measuring an old terminator, twisting some wire and breaking out some Sculpey!

I purchased a cheap table leg at a hardware store, found the (new to me) area where they let customers at a handsaw with no supervision, scanned the barcode at the self-serve checkout and piled the whole lot into the bag before any questions were asked. None of the available dowel sizes were correct, and balsa wood was way too expensive and felt too light in the hand. I also picked up some thinner wire and set about making an armature, hastily covering it in green stuff before snapping any pics.

While the green stuff cured I set about measuring the size for a terminator, debating and researching as to whether Games Workshop sizes their models at 28mm or 32mm (opting for 28mm so the terminator would seem even larger and in proportion if placed against any other 54mm models) and scratched a few notes along with some basic measurements to follow while sculpting. The armature had a lot more mobility than I had initially planned, so the first application of Sculpey all over every limb was quickly abandoned for a section-by-section method, baking for slightly less time so as to not overcook the model and cause cracking.

If you look closely in the photos you might be able to tell which piece of artwork I am working with, but as the model is very early in the creative process it bears little resemblence so far. The eagle chest plate is not fitted to the model, so I created a series of plugs using felt tip pens and various items from the bits box to vary the surface textures. As I have found in the past it is difficult to paint in details when you have none to work with on the model itself!

I am very pleased with how the armature supports the Scupley, as you can see a previous test piece above (which used 32mm base measurements) has been pinned together and has no way of holding the sections together rigidly. It became quite brittle after too much handling and was difficult to glue together without the green stuff holding the metal to the Sculpey. With the torso on the new version finished (and correctly proportioned) it will be much easier to work in the rest of the model, and I look forward to fitting some sculpting in around the holiday season this year.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Imperialis Basing Kit

I recently dusted off a few older metal Games Workshop models and, along with some evil henchmen from cultist parts, have started attaching them to some of the fantastic bases which GW released back in August with their Sector Imperialis gaming board. This was initially intended as a review post, but with the bases no longer available (there is one kit in France according to ebay) I thought I'd simply share some of these cool models in their fresh "Simple Green" birthday suits. I'm certainly glad I didn't try basing a whole army with this kit as it's not longer made!

You can find some of my in game photos of the full Sector Imperialis Ream of Battle here, where we found it quite difficult to roll dice on the uneven surface. As you can see from the photos, I found it equally difficult to find flat areas to pin the models without leaving gaps. I will be going over them once more to check for flash, and to add some more gravel under foot before undercoating. It has been a while since I painted non alien flesh tones, so I look forward to the challenge!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

JRN's "Post-Centaur Painting"

I had been following the miniaTEXTures blog for quite a few months before I realised the author "JRN" was Jakob Rune Nielson, a multiple Golden Demon winner and artist I have admired since I was a teenager growing up with White Dwarf as my sole window into the world of miniature painting. A few page clicks later and a copy of his "Post-Centaur Painting" was on my doorstep. Inside are a collection of his single miniatures and related projects for the period April 2011 to December 2013, detailing his love of the Warhammer universe(s), sketching, painting and photography. All have been a great source of inspiration, particularly his conversion work with specific Games Workshop models as well as information about creating a general tone or palette across a group of miniatures painted many months apart. I won't share any photos as it is a limited run printed item but you can find a post here by the man himself with more information.

For my own part, his little orange booklet has inspired the notion of creating models without worrying about their gaming requirements, factional weaponry or insignia, and so on. Above is my take on what I would imagine an Inquisitor in the 41st Millenium might come up against when fighting a heretical cult taking root in a hive city. There are so many INQ28 warbands, what about the evil guys they have to face? The model is based on a Warhammer Chaos Sorcerer and I can't wait to try out some "objct source lighting" from the candles as well as painting his detailed face!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

"Charosian" Horus Heresy Diorama (Completed)

"The conflict on Isstvaan III was the first battle in the history of the Imperium when Space Marines of the same Legion fought on opposite sides. Former comrades and brothers-in-arms became bitter foes. Betrayel and treachery abounded. On the devastated planet it was kill or be killed. No quarter was asked and none offered... " 

- Visions of Heresy, Alan Merrett (2013)

I called this diorama complete today, mainly because I spent the half of my last allocated painting day trying to rework "just one more part" of a rather speedily assembled and painted project. Sometimes you just have to roll with it and call it done, knowing you could spend days repainting certain sections and washing/dry-brushing rocks until you are lost in internet image searches looking for the perfect boulder photo to copy with a certain mix of glazes!

The inspiration from this project came from a picture in the recently released Visions of Heresy, depicting Space Marines of Emperor's Children (the elite "Charosian") and Sons of Horus fighting in the battle for Isstvaan III. The "Eye of Horus" flag is being raised by (presumably) turncoat Emperor's Children over the defeated (loyalist) Sons of Horus who survived the virus bombing and orbital bombardment, represented by the deceased model in the lower left. Technically I should not have included plants as they should have died in the virus bombing, however I felt the basing needed something extra and the story is already quite detailed for what should just be seen as a "cool" diorama.

If I were to make this diorama again I would take more care in detailing the Rhino and Emperor's Children, as I found it difficult to paint in details which would have been present or more crisp on an official model, rather than the green stuff versions I have created. I also set myself a goal of painting the majority of the model using a new (to me) technique of "two brush blending", which I am still learning. Combined with the use of my new airbrush for base coating, it made for a speedy three week painting project with less than 40 hours total time a rough estimate. I enjoyed the challenge, and look forward to spending a little more time painting some upcoming projects, especially a few single model display pieces which I have not really attempted yet using my newer skill set.

You can find all the posts relating to this project by clicking on the "Charosian" tag, or on this link.

You can vote for this model over at Cool Mini or Not.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Behind the Scenes (Horus Heresy Diorama #6)

Well I honestly can't believe I only started painting this diorama three weekends ago (having scratch built the rhino nearly three months prior!), and the time has certainly flown by. Tomorrow I aim to finish all the small details and reward myself by heading to the local cinema to see "Fury" (promising myself not to buy any Bolt Action models - Thanks John!) before dropping the model off at the store for judging this weekend. I will be working 7:30am to 6pm on the day of the competition but hope to sneak away early if things are slow. I encourage all painters in Vancouver to head down to Strategies on Saturday before 4pm and check out the great selection of painted models. I love seeing all the different projects folks are working on, whether it be a large model or unit for their army, the first model for a new project, or a once off model created specifically for the competition.

So what have I been up to? Tidying up all the things I rushed in my enthusiasm to assemble and paint this ambitious project. I have had to sand the wooden edges with everything attached (including the three Emperor's Children), paint in missing details which were missed before generously applied superglue left no sub assemblies for easy access, while at the same time ghosting a lot of the top of the tank. I feel like I woke up on the wrong side of bed this week! I pulled the top rail off the Rhino so I could paint shadows more accurately, then half the paint flaked off the brass rod and green stuff banner due to handling. I probably have enough material for a "how not to" blog entry on this model alone. A big shout out to my friend Harry who is working on an air-brushed large model entry, I spent a few hours last week painting at his place which kicked things along nicely.

"The internet never shows you the rear of models..."

Now that the project is fully assembled and nearly finished I am only just beginning to realise what weird colour combinations are involved, and how it doesn't quite work as a complete diorama. The same could be said for the artwork, but buried amongst hundreds of other garishly coloured Heresy artwork it doesn't seem as awkward or out of place. I think this is all 11th hour blues, but the model looks as fitting a representation as I could have hoped without resorting to eBay and Forgeworld, along with almost double the paint time to get things "perfect". With the next few projects already taking shape in my head, who has time to wait for the post when you can just build you own?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Scratch and Dent (Horus Heresy Rhino Diorama #5)

For those that can read the scrawl on my painting calendar for this project, you will know that today I should have already finished painting the rubble, Rhino, and both Sons of Horus, and be moving on to the detail work on the Emperor's Children. Alas, I have become distracted in my detailing of the Rhino and moved everything along one day into one of my "catchup" days at the end of the month.

After a great start thanks to the use of my new airbrush to quickly and evenly lay down the base colours, I moved on to the rubble base and other models as I couldn't quite get the level of detail or smooth finish on the large flat surfaces of my sculpted Rhino. After another stall occured when painting the gold edging on the Sons of Horus, I returned to the Rhino and worked on the "Eye of Horus" painted on the door, using some masking medium and the airbush for an even coat of red. It was around this time my camera died, so please excuse the rough snaps!

The eye turned out splendidly, though the level of detail on the scratches and dents on the doors now far exceeded those on the rest of the hull. I had no intention of over-working the model, and was aware of my painting deadline ticking closer, so I moved on to the rest of the models, and even sat on the couch browsing blogs on frustration. It was at this point I stumbled across some excellent non-metallic metal guides (cue further anguish for my basic attempts thus far), but I took a small detail from a Russian blogger's guide to silver and gold, and applied it instead to my Rhino. Using small and thin lines of paint, simply dark and light strokes placed in correct light source order, extra detail could be added to larger areas and break up the colour transitions. 

So I am almost done with the base, having omitted a few of the larger scratches and extra freehand in the artwork as I feel it would look too 'busy', and have started detailing the models both 'on' and 'in' the Rhino. I feel the sword in the centre will be a fitting last detail to paint before I can call it "finished". 

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Scratch-built Emperor's Children (Horus Heresy Rhino Diorama #4)

I'm not sure if this counts as "scratch built" but I have been making use of Instant Mold and Green Stuff to make all the extra parts for the models in my current diorama. In August I took a trip to Toronto for a work commitment, and my bits box and tools followed me so I could make the helmets, "eagle" torsos and shoulder pads for my Emperor's Children, though I forgot to snap any photos before starting on the undercoating. I realised then that something was missing, and set about re-creating some of the extra details of the armour on the legs of the models.

I raided my bits box for an approximation of the width I would be needing, after two failed attempts with green stuff or strips of card. A spare dreadnought sarcophagus provided the required piece, which I was then able to copy using Instant Mold. I created various depths and planned to stick to one model at a time, but with my self imposed "start of painting" deadline approaching I ended up making many many copies to glue all in one evening and smooth over the following night with some more Green Stuff.

Pretty soon I had a production line rolling, and for only three models it was quite a quick process barring the usual super-glue-and-fingers swearing! I have always wanted to start an Emperor's Children army (who doesn't want to strike at Initiative 5 in combat? Hello 5th Ed. Blood Angels!) but a project like this gives me a fraction of the effort for almost the same visual reward without doing 50 of these guys and losing my patience with little green strips! After allowing the Green Stuff to dry it was time to clean all the residue from the glues, resins, and so on that might be stuck on the surface which would prevent paint from adhering. A quick undercoat with GW spray and I was ready to choose the right shade of purple.

I haven't been taking many painting progress shots as I change the colours and glazes daily, so any photos may not match future work, though I have a quick snap of the most developed part of the diorama to share with you. It's definitely a work in progress but you can see the final armour I have been putting together using green stuff. This model started life as a 4th Ed Space Marine from my bits box and all the additional parts have been copied from various banner tops (for the chest eagle), Power Fists (for the shoulder guard) and some of the work you see above. I have just started on painting the gold and added the loin cloth to reduce the negative space on the model.

For now it's back to the painting table, though I have also been reading Dan Abnett's "Pariah" in anticipation of a new book in the trilogy this year. Sending you some "get things done" vibes from my painting table Dan!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Photo Post: My Painting Calendar

I'm not sure if anyone else has tried this, but I was inspired by a post by Roman Lappat of Massive Voodoo fame where he describes making a "progress bar" (or running sheet) for individual sections of a larger project to keep motivation going when you feel like you are not making much of a dent despite many many hours prepping and painting a model. Last year I tried a very basic schedule of "one model per week with x number of weeks remaining" to get my Know No Fear diorama built quickly to match my painting speed at the time.

This year I felt I was running out of time until I sat down and made a sheet of all my available painting days (My weekends are Monday/Tuesday this month), split the project into workable sections, and mapped the two across a single sheet of paper. With two "catch up" days and modest goals of base-coating only during the first few days I am already ahead and inspired to continue working on the project rather than dreading the amount of painting still to be done. Who wouldn't love to schedule in a whole day for some freehand? I encourage you all to try this on your next project! Many thanks to Massive Voodoo!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Green Stuff Detailing (Horus Heresy Rhino Diorama #3)

The two-fingered hand from the bits box didn't look quite right.

With less than a month to go for the competition deadline for this diorama I am starting to worry about leaving enough time for painting! I have been doing my best to speed things along by using a lot of "Instant Mold" to re-create the smaller details by taking elements of other models and incorporating them into the bits box parts I am using for most of the model. You may recall I made the Rhino with Sculpey, and so far I have not purchased any specific models for this diorama. I did make one purchase this week, a fairly overpriced Master of the Marches so I could use the hands for my weaponless Marines (which you can see above).

Because Instant Mold is so easy to re-use I simply make many molds until I find one that works, Here you can see the extra pressure required to create the fine details of the hand. I carefully split the mold down the middle before pushing small amounts of Green Stuff to the area of the fingers. You can stretch the copied part easily if you don't let it dry overnight so patience is the key with this sort of work! I then hunted around for something to copy for the vents on the side of the Rhino, as a trip to the hardware store yielded no appropriately sized mesh. With the addition of the rivets it's really starting to look like a proper model!

Last on my "I have no idea how I am going to make this" list was the banner held by two of the Emperors Children on top of the Rhino. No banners from other models were in the right 'pose' and I had gotten as far as making a wire frame to illustrate rough location for framing the scene and the rest of the models. It was actually at this point that I paused working on the diorama out of fright, having bitten off more than my modelling skills could chew. In a fit of "gotta get this done" I grabbed some left over Green Stuff, rolled it flat and applied some lubricant so I could easily slide it off again if it looked terrible. After only a few minutes I could already see I had a winner on my hands, and on I went with a few other details while the banner dried overnight.

With a majority of the detailing done, I have undercoated the base and am on my last weekend of modelling before painting begins. I am thankful I didn't try sculpting any hands or even a complete model as I had planned earlier in the year, though with less than a month of painting (I usually estimate one week for each figure plus another week for the base) I am running out of time! I hope your painting projects are going well, and I encourage you all to try entering a competition as you do learn new skills and try new things that army length painting projects don't always allow. Below you can see the unpainted and nearly completed diorama, with only some fiddly detailing remaining on the Emperor's Children Space Marines. Let's do this!