Sunday 25 November 2012

Zombie! Guardsmen WIP

Greetings all,

This week saw the first of The Hobbit miniatures go up for advanced order on Games Workshop's website. As a fan of The Lord of the Rings models and game when it was first released, I collected and painted the Fellowship, some Uruk-Hai, and even went as far as to model some of the scenes from the movie. The end result? The game was a flop, and all my little hobbits are collecting dust in a spare room half way across the world. You can imagine my excitement upon hearing about the upcoming movie, and then horror when I learned it was to be screened in three parts, a money grabbing exercise if there ever was one. My jaw literally hit the floor, however, when I took a look at some of the pricing for the models, especially in my native Australian dollar (which has been hovering at or above USD parity the last 2 years). $140 for a book? $200+ for a starter set? I always compare the value of purchases vs a holiday to Las Vegas, and Elvis has left the building (on a West Jet flight out of Bellingham...)

Zombies are always more exciting with an exclamation mark.
So what's a keen (and thrifty) hobbyist to do? Well recently I have been looking to expand my Imperial Guard, and can't quite stomach the cost of a full Battleforce. The online deals for the old 20 guardsmen in a box were looking like a winner, but I do love to support my local Brick and Mortar game store as much as possible. I had been looking to do some 'alternative' models for Penal Troops or Conscripts, and recently came across some cheap human models which suited any future Chaos Cultist modelling plans, while at the same time passing as slightly 'unwell' Guardsmen, or literal meat shields!

As the first non Games Workshop box set I have ever bought (such a fan boy) I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it all went together. The only slight snag is that these models are true-scale 28mm, whereas my Imperial Guard are 'herioc' scale and look very well fed and toned by comparison. These are meant to be emaciated re-animated corpses, however! With a little green stuff and patience during assembly I am hoping that once painted they will match the rest of the army and create interesting ideas for scenarios and further modelling opportunities.

'Heroic' 28mm scale, left. 'Jim' on the right.
I have always shied away from non 'GW' models in case I ever need to play my army in a tournament, but after a combined 12 years of gaming I have only attended three tournaments, and come on... 30 models for $25??? That's partying like it's 1999 all over again. 

Until next week, hold on to your Las-Rifles, and be sure to confiscate Jim's cos he doesn't look too well...


Update: The finished models can be seen here and here!

Related Links:
For a much better review of Wargames Factory Zombies! Check out the Tale of Painters Blog
Another Zombie Guard army

Sunday 18 November 2012

Hobby: 28mm Armatures: It's all about scale!

This week I have been nearing the completion of a couple of 'complete' sculpts for my Imperial Guard army, and discovering there's much more to armatures than just twisting some bits of wire together and then fixing any scale problems later with green stuff. Both of these were created using the '7.5 Head Height' theory, but ended up being far too tall when compared to my existing models!

Where it all started.

Commissar, left, and Primaris Psyker, right. GW Guardsman for scale.
Yes, I did cheat a little bit by using existing arms/faces/hands, but for me the experience was making a model from 90% sculpt, rather than the usual 10%. The photos may not speak for themselves, but scale wise I have made a giant! Once the boots are done they will stand a good 1/2 head height taller than my other models (Space Marines included). Maybe they grew up on a low gravity moon or something? I'm looking forward to painting him this week and using his Leadership to prevent my Guardsmen running away so much!

High Five! The pose is based on a sketch from p33 of the Imperial Guard Codex.
On my second sculpt (above) I set out to create my own hands and face, which requires immense patience and lots of cross-eyed headaches! I have literally torn off three hand sculpt attempts and started again, each time the ball of green-stuff reducing in size. I also wasn't happy with the lips and chin, so I added a beard to obscure the imperfections. The latest hand was a two stage process, using wire to support the fingers.

My second style of armature, this time I will sculpt the head separably and attach it later.
With my third sculpt I have set out to spend a little more time getting the armature scaled correctly, and rather than using the '7.5 or 8 heads high' technique from my first two (very hard to measure 28mm models based on head height) I have basically eye-balled the scale against an existing model. Less scientific, hopefully more artistic. I may end up using this model for a future diorama so I plan to spend a little more time on the details, whereas the other two are just for gaming. Wish me luck!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Hobby: How to (Re) Use Instant Mold

Instant Mold, a product my local store has stocked for only the past 12 months or so, has proved invaluable in creating the bases for my army. Being a hobbiest at heart, I am always impressed by those that go the extra mile with basing their army. I have used Instant Mold to create the bases on my army, copying a design I sketched out 12 months ago, and applying it to bases of various shapes and sizes, and cut down a 30 minute sculpt into a 30 second mold process.

Original Sculpt, left, and InstantMold copies, above.

From sketch to sculpt, this time no InstantMold. Very time consuming!!
See the finished product in my first blog post.

 For those not familiar, Instant Mold uses near-boiling water to soften, then cold water (or air) to set once the desired shape has been pressed into it. Further uses as a two-part/three-dimensional mold can be extracted from the product by freezing a half mold including the model itself, then pushing the top half of the mold into the bottom so it won't stick together and can be removed easily. I have had minimal success with this personally, too many air bubbles are created and you have to use the exact amount of new material to avoid losing details.
Original in "Brown Stuff", molded bases in "Green Stuff"

However, there comes a time when you really want to make another mold and, like me, are too cheap to buy any more Insta Mold (currently I am saving for some new brushes). Anyone who has tried to re-use this stuff knows how easily it pick up air bubbles which then affect the quality of any further molds. My solution was discovered by chance when I left a small, flat piece of the InstantMold in the hot water too long. It flattened even further and became almost like a rubber coating on the surface of the water, and most notably losing all the trapped air bubbles. 

Let the InstantMold soften completely until it's completely soft, then fold gently to remove air bubbles.

Always use gloves to avoid burning yourself! I like to roll mine into small balls when storing them.

So what's the secret? Really hot water, let it soften for a long time, then fold it in on itself whilst being very careful not to introduce any new air bubbles. I like to roll mine into a ball for storage, but the choice it yours!

Another great idea to speed things up: use a little lubricant on the mold to release the putty even before it sets.
In this way you can make infinite number of bases without waiting for the "Green Stuff" to set!

Sunday 4 November 2012

Hobby: Sculpting with Fimo over Cork

It's been another busy week working on my Guardsmen, though I did manage to fit in my first 2000pt battle in about 2 years. Having previously played Orks exclusively, I'm no stranger to large numbers of models but it was still impressive actually pulling out all the 'painted' models I own here, having only started with a Blood Angels Battleforce in August 2011.

2000pts Blood Angels + Imperial Guard Allies
Man of the match goes to my Ratlings, actually, as they weathered the entire first turn's worth of shooting by going to ground and surviving, thus preventing the 'First Blood' victory condition (which went to the Death Company Dreadnought, jumping out of his Drop Pod and turning an enemy Dreadnought into molten slag), and preventing a single I.G. casualty, who in turn let rip with everything and brought the enemy to his knees! At least that's how I saw it, in reality his commander was 1" short of denying an objective and the game ended at turn 5. Booya!
My heavy weapons teams proved so successful that I have started to wash and layer them up a bit. Once I was happy with the basics I jumped at the opportunity to try out some weathering techniques courtesy of  Tale of Painters. Not quite a vehicle as such, but man-portable heavy weapons would certainly see their fair share of battle damage.
Rust, Chips and Soot add some 'realism'

Work-In-Progress, this guy has been on the sauce and is totally unprepared for a dawn assault!

Aside from playing with and painting my I.G. I have started a new (for me) novel by my favourite Warhammer author, Dan Abnett. His Eisenhorn trilogy was very popular in 2004-5. I am barely 50 pages into it and absolutely hooked, however every chapter begs for a diorama to be made of a key scene or two. I have begun sketching out some ideas and creating a few 'proof-of concepts' using Fimo as it is much cheaper than making an entire scene out of 'green stuff'. Alas, I need to scuplt in smaller sections as I discovered the oven-hardening causes the Fimo to crack if spread too thin.

This was to be a steam-punk like column, or inside of a spiral staircase,

An example of the details possible with Fimo, very rough paint scheme to illustrate.
By comparison, I have included a couple of photos from my last 'Cork' column from my first ever diorama:

By using cork and other materials the cost and weight can be kept to a minimum.

AAA battery for size reference. Small sections sculpted at a time.

The final column, the detail probably wasn't even noticed when the entry was judged!
Needless to say, it's back to the drawing board with Fimo for the moment! Any guesses for the inspiration for the last photo? It's from a familiar book. I am certainly not shy about copying while I am still learning to sculpt, but by using Eisenhorn as inspiration I hope to create detailed dioramas without resorting to pre-built scenery and previously created imagery. Watch this space!