Saturday, November 21, 2015

Warhammer 30K Test Figure: Tactical Ultramarine

If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you'll be aware that I'm not a GW fanboy. Sure, I have a Lizardman army for Warhammer Fantasy, and I sure enjoy some of the "specialist games" from those British Vampires at GW...and yes, I love Middle-earth, so I have too many of their LOTR figures. But really. I drew the line at 40K. Never played it, never wanted to play it. Stupid, unbalanced game. Way too expensive. Blood-sucking army book sales strategy.

And just while I was getting comfortable with my anti-GW smugness and gleefully looked forward to that abominable company's inevitable demise...they went and did this:

A specialist game (in the vein of the excellent Space Hulk) set in the Horus Heresy 30K universe. Screw you, GW, and your infernal stratagems to get my money!

This is essentially a box designed to counter all the hate I have against GW. It is packed full of beautifully sculpted 30K Space Marines and a so-reasonable cost of about $3 per figure. A tight little game system, perfect for small scenario play.

I couldn't help myself.

I was proud to say that I'd never painted a Space Marine. That is, until now. I'm all in. The Shame.

So, before starting into the nearly 40 figures of the boxed set, I decided to try a test figure to see if I could match the GW painting style.

The GW "style" is very different from the way I normally paint. It produces a distinctive "caricature" of a figure, as opposed to the more "naturalistic" style I usually go for. So, I watched a few YouTube videos and tried my hand at bold coloration, black-lining and strong specular highlights.

After a few attempts on this test figure, I think I have most of the techniques down, and believe I have something that approaches the GW house style.

I've been frantically gluing together squads of marines, or "tactical legionnaires" as they are called in this set. Now I've started into some squad painting, and have decided that 5-at-a-time will be the way I'm going to tackle this box.

Starting with the Ultramarines.

'Til next time.

Four Elemental Myrmidons

I'm impressed with the new Gale Force 9 line of D&D figures. I painted the Hill Giant a few months back, so I thought I'd try some of their Elemental Myrmidons.

These four limited run figures each come cast in a plastic resin. The material holds great detail with very few (if any) air bubbles. Each figure averages about 8 parts, which fit together quite nicely. A little putty was required on the Water and Air elementals, but that was about it.

Here, the figures are assembled, primed and inked.

I started with the body colors on each figure. These were all sprayed on in layers. Additionally, the Water and Earth Elementals got a blue and umber wash, respectively.

After the bodies and bases were finalized, each figure only required its armor and weapons to be painted. Pretty easy project, overall.

The air elemental armor was kept very light in color, to stay in the air cloud theme.

After spraying flat, I went back in an drybrushed some more light silver over the armor.

A put a little rust on the Earth Elemental's armor, and finished up with a flat clear coat.

The weapon is a boulder held within the roots of the tree trunk.

By far my favorite figure of this group is the Water Elemental. The sculpt is outrageously good, with plenty of detail. The water was moulded nicely as well. I put a faint blue glaze over the armor.

The miniature was finished with a gloss coat to keep it watery-looking.

Fire is really tough to paint and get close-to-right. I was pretty happy with how this turned out.

The fiery body was juxtaposed with a blackened armor shell and two scimitars.

Well, I'm still a believer in the Gale Force 9 figures. Haven't been disappointed yet.

'Til next time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ruined Tower: A Large Terrain Project Step-by-Step

For the last two weeks I've been working on a large terrain project: this ruined tower, which is part of a Bones release from Reaper.

It's from a boxed set called Dragons Don't Share. The main feature of the box is a really big (and nice) dragon figure. But what caught my eye first was the scenic base that the dragon is supposed to be perched on.

So I started with the terrain set from the box. As is usual for Bones products, it's made of a funky, soft white rubber (or something rubbery). The ruined tower came in about 6 (warped) pieces. After gluing a few of them together, I liked how the ruin looked, and I decided to turn it into a fairly significant terrain project.

I started by gluing the main ruin pieces down on a cork sheet. I then glued down a number of slate rocks to enhance and tie together to various tower and ruin bits.

I then broke away the outlying portions of the cork sheet and glued what remained down to a metal pizza pie plate from the local Dollar Store. I knew I'd be using a lot of white glue in the project, which shrinks as it dries. This inevitably leads to base warping unless you have a really rigid base. Well, metal is quite I went with that. 

I first laid textured masking tape down on the back of the pizza pie plate, so that the white glue I'd be using would have something that wasn't smooth metal to adhere to.

After the main cork base was attached, tallus pebbles were glued down to the entire base. This would form the foundation of all the groundwork that was coming up, and blended the main cork base to the pie plate.

 Next, I put down a layer of more fine-grained sand. In this shot, the sand is just in the process of going down. The idea here was to get a smoother (but still textured) groundwork base down.

After that dried, I used up a can of black spray primer and got everything base coated.

Now the airbrush got a workout. First, the soil areas were sprayed with different shades of dark brown and earth colours. Then the rockwork got coated with several layers of dark and light grey.

Brush painting was next. The stone was stained with several different washes, and was then dry brushed with a couple of light beige tones. The soil was then cleaned up with burnt umber, and ultimately dry brushed with orange-brown and off-white.

The first static grass layer went down next.

And now we skip past several tedious steps to get to the end product. Essentially, the ground cover was enhanced with several passes of alternately coloured flock. After that dried, tufts and wildflower patches were added to the ground and the ruined stonework. Moss, in the form of very fine dark green flock, was added to the ruins at this point...

...along with some ivy crawling up the side of the tower structure.

Anyway...a fair bit of effort, but the result is a pretty cool terrain piece that, despite the warpage of the Bones rubber, is a very playable scenic base.

I don't know when I'll get around to painting the dragon from this boxed set...but it is nice, and I'm hoping for a good end result. In the mean time, this ruin will be used for role playing sessions and a few Frostgrave games for sure.

'Til next time.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just In Time For Halloween

Earlier this year, I ordered up a set of SAGA Revenants. I enjoy SAGA, and the thought of a bit of a fantasy expansion to that Dark Ages game seemed pretty compelling. Well, the figures are by Gripping Beast. Now, I'm not a fan of Gripping Beast sculpts, but I was willing to give them another try. 

The set came with 2 groups of 24 zombies (each group a unique set of sculpts), 2 spawning points and a Necromancer figure. Well, I still don't like Gripping Beast (sloppy sculpts), but having painted half a full set, I do now have A LOT of zombie figures. And the Necromancer figure is actually pretty good. Might use it in Frostgrave. Certainly everything is usable in D&D.

I also painted up a Gale Force 9 limited run figure from their Princes of the Apocalypse line.

This is a really nice miniature, which I'm using as an angel NPC.

We had our Halloween D&D game this past week, and happily, the girls came in costume. Come on, guys, you gotta pick up your game!

Possibly the best photo ever taken. Seana plays a male Dwarf cleric, and nailed her costume with a custom-painted war hammer.

'Til next time.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Two Reaper Minis

I've recently painted up two Reaper monster miniatures. The first one...a small metal Dragonette (which we're using as a newly hatched Wyvern in our D&D game), I quite like. Nice simple one-piece mini. Easy to paint. Quick to get on the table.

An attractive and useful model.

Next, we have Rauthuros, a very large demon figure...and my first encounter with a Reaper Bones soft plastic miniature. This is the pic of the figure posted on the Reaper site.

I've got to say that I admire Reaper for launching the Bones line. The miniatures are CHEAP! But, as you might suspect, the end product also feels CHEAP! That soft plastic does't take detail as well as a metal sculpt...and this figure is so large, the wings flop around and the soft plastic just makes you feel like you're dealing with a throw-away toy.

From the start, I didn't like the figure. But I was determined to get as far with it as I could. I chopped up the moulded-on base to get the figure re-positioned onto a metal base with some weight, so the thing wouldn't constantly tip over on the table.

Then I started spray painting the large surfaces. OK, I'll give Reaper this...for some reason, paint sticks to this weird plastic like nothing else. I primed the figure and sprayed on acrylics, and for the life of me, no matter what I tried (including bending the figure severely), the paint would not crack or chip off.

OK, that's good. Score 1 for Bones.

However, I really couldn't stand anything else about the mini. My pro-metal bias really grates against the Bones philosophy.

So much so, that I could not bring myself to finish painting the figure. I'd say it's about 70% of the way there...but I'm not putting any more effort into it.

I've used it in a game, and it served it's purpose. But as a display piece I'm proud to show, it just doesn't cut it. I really can't finish the damn thing.

I've wound up buying one more REALLY BIG Bones miniature...on this new one, the plastic is stiffer, and the detail is I'll give Bones one more try. But currently, I'm not a believer.

'Til next time.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Warmachine Figures

I recently finished up three Warmachine figures. One Mercenary and two 'casters for Menoth.

First we have the new Steelhead solo, Sgt. Nicolas Verendrye. I've actually been waiting for a 2-point  Steelhead solo for some time, to fill out my Damiano theme list. He fits in perfectly. And he was a lot easier to build than those blasted Steelhead Halberdiers.

Then we have one of the "new" journeymen 'casters. This one for Menoth: Tristan. Cool figure...I like him.

Finally, there's the latest Menoth 'caster, Durst. I've played him several times and really enjoy his tanky ways.

'Til next time.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Witchfate Tor

Hmmm, been a while since I posted. Was pretty busy this summer and got diverted by other interests, Nevermind...back in the saddle. First new model is this large terrain piece from Games Workshop, Witchfate Tor, the Tower of Sorcery.

I had built the smaller, ruined version of this model earlier in the year. Armed with the experience from that project, this one went a lot smoother.

I busted out the box last Saturday morning, and by the late afternoon, the tower was built and primed.

And then the painting was finished up on Monday by about noon (it was Canadian Thanksgiving got Monday off...good for painting projects!).

Here is the top platform of the tower. Hey, it's GW...skulls are everywhere!

Taking off the various levels in order, here's the top floor.

And the middle floor. This kit comes with no floor attachment mechanism, which kind of sucks. Without pins or magnets, the whole thing would fall over the first time you used it in a game. I added two brass pins per floor to keep it all together.

Here is the bottom floor, glued onto the base foundation.

The airbrush really sped up the painting of this kit. I wouldn't try it with just a would take forever. Anyway, gave the main stonework a bluish hue, and then used the old standby, Deneb Stone, for the detail stonework.

All in all, the kit tuned out better than I was expecting, but I attribute this to knowing how to thin down the connection blocks in each level's four wall sections to make a clean assembly (learned the hard way from the associated ruins kit).

Happy with the result. A good piece of RPG terrain!

'Til next time.