Friday, 1 December 2017

A weaving of the threads

It's unlikely there's anyone out there who pays particularly close attention to this little ol' blog (anyone other than me that is). But if there was, they might be aware that in among all the jumping around between subject matter, a number of themes have started to arise.

One of the things I've talked about a lot is my fondness for huge great, scary-ass robots. This has been evident in my Miniature Giants series (the first few models of which can be found here, here and here) and also in my almost-complete Giant Robo Alphabot illustration project.*

Another notable theme could be my experimentation with oil paints to apply weathering to models. I now add a little rust or verdigris, in varying degrees, to almost every model I paint. The culmination of this would probably be these wrecked and abandoned cars, where I tried to make them look utterly devastated by painting them almost entirely with oils.

And finally, more recently, I've started adding to my Plague Marines. I bought a handful of troops many years ago, but only started working on them in earnest when the release of Dark Imperium rekindled my interest and turned my small, unpainted war-band into the beginnings of a serious force. My first completed Death Guard model, some kind of lieutenant, can be found here.

Hopefully, the pictures here make it fairly obvious why I'm I going on about all these previous projects. It's because these two new dreadnoughts neatly encapsulate a coming together of those previous three themes: Rusty Death Guard robots.

The idea for spider-noughts first struck me after I bought the Robogear boxset just over a decade ago. Robogear was Airfix's abortive attempt to tap into the wargaming market, and although most of the models in the starter set were not that great, some of the individual components were incredible. Especially at a time before Games Workshop's plastic range was as huge and all-encompassing as it is now.

In this case the mechanical, insectoid legs I used significantly pre-dated Games Workshop's Defiler and Onager kits, yet still managed to make me think they'd be great motive systems for Chaos dreadnoughts.

The rest of the bits were a mixture of Games Workshop parts (bought as individual components from Bitzbox), Forge World dreadnought arms (bought directly from them) and whatever doodads I had lying around from other kits – namely a spare weapon arm, the banners, skulls, censers, and a very live and well Space Marine, who, when combined with an old skeleton body became the much deader impaled marine you can see on the fire support variant (the one with the missile launcher and autocannon).

And then to top it all off, there were a few scratch-built pieces made from cocktail sticks and plastic tubing, and the two lovely, but somewhat hidden, helmets from Chapterhouse Studios.

So with these two newly finished miniatures I'm finally able to adjust my Addiction Challenge score. Hopefully I'll be knocking some more points off with the next post too. More to come...


*My obsession with these clanking monstrosities can probably be traced back to a childhood spent reading the comic 2000AD, back in the early 80s. Anyone who read that comic will remember the ABC Warriors, a group of artificial soldiers of fortune, designed to withstand Atomic, Biological and Chemical attack. They were led by Hammerstein, a humanoid, war robot veteran of the Volgan War, armed with a giant hammer, whose major appearances I've documented here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

More generic sci-fi scenery, but this time because Necromunda

Before we get into this week's post, another apology. It's a big sorry to anyone who visits this blog looking to see models from the Warhammer 40,000 universe (or maybe Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Age of Sigmar). If you've flicked through my last few posts it won't have escaped your notice that things have not been very miniatures-focussed of late.

This is for all the usual reasons, plus a few unusual ones. But essentially it goes like this: really busy, blah, blah, stuff to do on house, blah, blah, looking after the kids, blah, blah, sorting out my career, blah blah, watching Star Trek Discovery and Stranger Things on Netflix, woo hoo.

If you do occasionally visit this blog you may be aware I've been going on about creating a section of an Imperial Hive City. One that I call Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda, on the planet Ancora Fornax, or just Kru for short. You may also know that although I've built civilians, servitors, vehicles, tools, and robots for Kru, I haven't actually managed to finish a single building yet. But that's not to say I haven't started any. A while back I posted some work-in-progress pics of my first piece of terrain – a cobbled together industrial storage depot of some kind. I made much of it using some classic techniques published in an old White Dwarf. There should be some further development on this building in the near future, but in the meantime I've also been working on a second one. It's a Biocidic Filtration Tower, an installation likely to be found alongside storage tanks on Imperial worlds with similar industries to Ancora Fornax.

But more importantly than that, it's a tall open building with platforms, gantries, walkways, and ladders that should be useful in miniature-based wargames, especially the brand new re-release of Necromunda.

It's not quite finished yet, but I think these pictures give a pretty good idea of where I'm going with it.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Quiz of Thrones

This is another one of those posts where I have to start with an apology because I was meant to publish it a long time ago.

As usual, one thing led to another, and instead of getting this done, I ended up reinforcing the notion that I'm a lazy, slack-jawed slob, stuck miles behind the times, clinging on by the skin on my teeth, desperately playing catch-up. Which, as it turns out, is so accurate it's like a window onto my very essence. So much for internet anonymity.

Anyway this should have been posted before the seventh season of Game of Thrones aired on HBO and Sky Atlantic during the summer, because it's kind of a refresher quiz I wrote for some friends who were hosting a small party to celebrate the first episode.

This means that some of the answers might have since gone out of date, become too obvious, or even changed altogether. And that's basically my way of saying that if any Game of Thrones experts find some horribly blatant errors in my answers, then it just wasn't my fault, guv'nor.

I've misplaced the digital file that has all the questions on it (in live type), but I still have the following photos. And with a little luck everything on them should be just about legible.

The folded A3 sheet was designed for the quizmaster (me) to read from, so it had all the answers printed directly below the questions (because my memory is about as reliable as Little Finger's word). Therefore for the sake of anyone who might be interested in reading the questions first, I've crudely redacted all the answers on the first couple of photos.

The eagle-eyed among you (or perhaps raven-eyed) may have noticed that round two, question 13 suggests you look at some cards. These are shown below. Simply narrow down the blue cards till you are left with the six correct dire wolf names, then match each wolf to its correct Stark master (as shown on the red cards). Twelve points if you get everything right.

A word of warning, no-one who has ever played this round has got all twelve points.

And then here are the questions again, but this time without me censoring the answers. Please tell me they are not too small to read.* It's probably not much fun if you've forgotten your glasses. You'll notice there are some additional questions and answers at the end. These were included on the off-chance that people were really enjoying the quiz and didn't want it to end. Kind of like a standing ovation for the quiz... And me... If only.

 *If you can't make out the answers, and want to know what it says, just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Giant Robo Alphabot, part ten

Who said I never finish anything? Well, for a start, probably anybody who has ever glanced at this blog. And that's because when it comes to my hobbies I have a tendency to get distracted. The equivalent of chatting happily with someone, then suddenly walking off mid-

But that's about to change now, because we are rapidly reaching the end of my Giant Robo Alphabot. We're speeding towards the end of this project like a Sentinel hunting the X-Men or a Terminator closing in on Sarah Connor, or Ultron pursuing The Avengers.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Giant Robo Alphabot, part nine

So we've had the beginning of the alphabet and we've had the end, but we're still missing a few letters from the middle. Today's post is simply about plugging some of those remaining holes in my Giant Robo Alphabot, as I prepare to put everything together to see the final, collected poster.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, but are intrigued enough at the sound of giant robots not to click away elsewhere yet, then you can see the entire stream of posts on this subject here, or if you'd rather just read the first one (that will hopefully explain the basic premise) then go here.

Otherwise, there's not much more to add, other than the small selection of stray letters themselves. This time they're all from movies, with two being live action films, and the other two animations.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Bigger and badder than ever before

The new Death Guard are a bit bigger and bulkier than a standard Space Marine miniature. I imagine the scale of these genetically-enhanced giants has crept up in order to have them more consistent in size with the recently released Primaris Marines.

It makes sense for Games Workshop to have bulked them up a little, as they don't have any interchangeable parts with the old range, so there are very few compatibility issues. Apart from the obvious visual one, that is.

But the new miniatures are only a tiny bit bigger. Just enough to not look ridiculously out-of-place when standing next to an old marine.

I've got quite a few old marines, sitting on their sprues, waiting for the moment when I get all excited at the prospect of putting together an entire power-armoured army. But in that lies the rub. I'm not very keen on the idea of building hundreds of under-sized warriors, and yet neither do I like the idea of disposing of them. And complicated conversions are just out of the question for that number of troops, so what I really need is a nice, simple answer.

At the end of my last post, I had decided I wanted to build two more Plague Marines, based on regular marines, but using up some of the off-cuts from my trimming of the Dark Imperium Death Guard. I decided I could use this opportunity as an experiment to see if there was a quick way of giving some of my old marine models a little extra height.

My solution was to add a couple of spacers to their lower legs, and another to their abdomen. I did this by making as straight a cut as I could (working at a fairly hasty speed) and glueing small squares of plasticard into the join.

Once the spacers had set, they were trimmed roughly into place with a knife, then filed down until the fit was pretty good. If you ignore the drying time it was only a few extra minutes of work per model.

The results are not perfect, especially when doing it at speed, but I think the most inaccurate areas could be fairly easily covered by dirt or battle damage.

Once I'd established this basic technique, I then moved on to the fun bit: converting my two upscaled troopers into extra members of my Death Guard squad.

The resultant characters are noticeably larger than a regular Joe...

... yet seem to blend nicely with one of the new Death Guard...

... and don't even look too minuscule next to a Primaris.

Now all I need to do is repeat the process about 100 times, and I'll have a fully upscaled Space Marine company.


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Noxious, nefarious nightmares to add to my numerous nasties

Hobby progress has been slight these last couple of weeks. I've only really managed to build the Death Guard models from the Dark Imperium boxset. I'm going to add them to my handful of existing Plague Marines, in preparation for trying to paint them all in one go, and hopefully put a significant dent in my Addiction Challenge.

The building of ten marines isn't much of a feat, except that I did manage to chop a few of them up to better suit my tastes.

The Plague Champion (above left) was the first to feel the touch of my knife. I wasn't keen on the miniature's existing face, so I cut the whole thing off and swapped it for a Mark III 'Iron Armour' helmet (from the Burning Of Prospero boxset), then sculpted a replacement hood. I'm quite a fan of the addition of cloaks and hoods to some of the Death Guard figures in this release, so I wanted to make sure I kept them wherever possible.

Next up was the Noxious Blightbringer (above middle). I cut off the giant bell hanging from the huge horny spike growing out of his backpack, as I figured there were enough bells elsewhere on the model (at least six), for it not to be missed. I also reasoned that the loss of the oversized bell would put the focus of the model back to the face – and the somewhat unique helmet he's wearing.

With a lot of these miniatures I've tried to cut back some of the horns and spikes growing through the armour. I like seeing one or two of them, but felt that at least a few may have been added simply to hide mould lines, rather than because they look great on the model. The trooper above left is a fairly dramatic example of my tinkering, having had the horns on his helmet significantly reduced (or removed altogether). 

The Malignant Plaguecaster (above middle) was probably the trickiest to convert. I wanted to turn him into a standard trooper, whilst keeping a bare face beneath the spikey hood. However the existing face just didn't cut the mustard-gas, so I had to graft in a new one (with rebreather), while also replacing both his arms. It ended up taking a good couple of hours – or rather a bad couple of hours –  involving the standard glued fingers and uninventive cursing, plus lots of accidental inhalation of noxious glue vapours. In other words, exactly what the Death Guard would have wanted.

The three troopers in the above picture have had very little work done to them. The most significant change was the head swap on the middle one. He's got a Forge World Mark II 'Crusade Armour' helmet with an added spike.

And finally the Lord of Contagion with Plaguereaper. This is a great model and I really didn't want to do too much to him. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the huge icon mounted on his back. Although it was quite cool, I felt it drew focus away from his head to the wrong part of the model. 

Yet it was simple enough to fix – I just cut it off.

But then he looked a bit bare, so I scouted through the bits that had been cut off the other models and found a censer leaking some kind of airborne toxin. It was similar to one already carried by this Terminator Lord, and small enough not to detract the focus from his helmet, so it seemed like a pretty good fit.

In fact this whole process has left me with quite a few random off-cuts that could look excellent on some further conversions, so I'm going to try to make two final Plague Marines, before I start painting. With a little luck this won't take too long and I should be able to share them in the next post at the end of this month.

Everything on this page is a work in progress – there's nothing finished here – so, for now, my Addiction Challenge score remains untouched.