Friday, January 29, 2010

A Matter of Scale

You'll remember how utterly thrilled I was about the Warmachine Cryx plastics? Well, my overexuberance got the better of me and I ordered 3 of them. The package arrived today, and upon opening, I was crestfallen to behold just how damn SMALL the things are. They are not, as hoped for, the size of Carnifexes. They are the size of Tyranid Warriors, maybe Hive Guards. So, to sum up:

(pictures are copyright Privateer Press and Games Workshop, used without permission)
That is truly how each would look side by side, based on the size of the bases that come with the models.  That little Warjack is incredibly well-detailed for its size, but otherwise, it's far from being as big as I needed it to be. Maybe if I took the torso, mounted it on a Sentinel pelvis with Sentinel legs, and then added a Destroyer hover-skirt (cut in half, with each half glue to the shoulder) to bulk out the body, we might be getting somewhere. I tell you readers, I'm this close to getting a stock Carnifex off of eBay just to be sure of the scale, because this is downright confounding. The thing must be absolutely immense. 

The plus side of this is a wealth of parts. Elsewhere in this blog is a borrowed photo of the smorgasboard that comes with one of these kits. Multiply that by three and you'll get an idea of what I now have to work with. The downside of that is that given their scale, they're suited for Warrior size and little else. Oh, I'm sure I could bulk the thing out as conjectured above, but I doubt that would even but up to the huge-base-overflowing bulk of a Tyrant or 'Fex. 

Is this project scuttled before it begins? Never say die, true believers. Something will cobble itself together yet...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vampire Counts: Skaven Pt 1: Characters

I always liked the Vampire Counts army list from Warhammer Fantasy, but playing a bunch of Bela Lugosi-style vampires wasn't my cup of tea. I mean, really? Guys in red capes and crap like that? Come on. Besides there's lots of fluff text in the Codexes and old issues of White Dwarf about the Skaven raiding ruins and graveyards for warpstone, stuff to eat, etc.  It makes more sense (to me, at least) that some warped Warlock-Engineer from Clan Skryre went even more crazy and decided to start doing things like reanimating dead rats, making Frankenstein's Monster style boss monsters, etc etc. I mean, the Skaven do that sort of thing anyway (Boneripper, Clan Moulder, etc). Thus, my third WHF army was born. 

This fellow was really the seed of the whole thing. I had been using him in my stock Skaven army as a Lord-level character. Based on an Reaper Orc character, he really was too monstrous to be any old rat with delusions of grandeur. Thus, the figure got a complete makeover (sorry, no before- pictures) and gained white skin, dingier-looking armor, and a wicked blade-arm where his weensy little sword used to be. You can picture him storming back into the rat-warren in the dead of night and sucking the blood out of everything in sight. Of course, such a monster needs a sidekick, which leads us to the Skreinlich Skremmler, the Sklichemaster:

I had originally planned to make him a rat-parody of the old Heinrich Kremmler model, complete with wide-brimmed hat, but when I saw a particular steampunk wizard from the Warmachine range (my old standby for years to come) I thought what an awesome Skaven he'd be, and voila! My necromancer was born. There's a champion character from the Necromunda range that rides a humongous undead rat, so maybe another character will appear someday, riding a "zombie dragon" with helicopter engines and rotors in place of wings.  Ahhhh skaven engineering.... Speaking of which:

This mad fellow and his crazy-ass mount came after I had finished the skeletal-giant rat cavalry. A steam-powered wight-skaven with a warpstone glaive packs quite a punch in the battle line. Another reason I wanted to use a vampire  counts army was their fear-generating cavalry, something neither my first army, the Dwarves, nor my second, Skaven, had access to. The new Skaven book has all sorts of new, awful things (for that matter, so does the new VC book) but until I can find another WHF opponent around here, upgrades to that army will have to wait a while. 

Here's another view of the rear of this thing. It really is one of my favorite models, from the mono-wheel and heavy suspension to the warpstone globes behind the saddle. Come to think of it, he sort of looks like a little Doomwheel. For my skeletal cavalry (which you'll see in part II of this series) I ordered a bunch of skeleton horses from Reaper (their prices are real steal!) and then cut and bent the pewter parts until they resembled a rat skeleton I found photos of on the web. I botched one rather badly, but the ribs, head, and tail were intact, so this model was really sort of an accident as well. It was another case of a model just building itself after a certain point. 

In life I suppose he was a bit of a daredevil, as all Skaven are, so I gave him a WWI German helmet made out of an old Tamiya 1/35 infantry hat and a bayonet. That shield is a leftover from the Black Tree Design regiments I used to build my skaven army. His skull is from the skaven plastic sprues I eventually got on the cheap on eBay. Who knew every 5th head was a skull? It helped when I was building those regiments of skeletal Skaven.

This fellow is one of two Wight characters to join either my Grave Guard or Skeleton formations. He's a simple conversion based on a re-bent Necron Flayed one, as is his drinking buddy:

A bit more heavily-armored than his fellow, he fits in a bit better with my Grave Guard models, who are more than a little "enhanced" themselves. I guess that Skavromancer thinks power fists are as good as Wight Blades. 

Next time, Cavalry! Yeeeehaaa!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tyranids, eh?

I like the new Tyranid codex, enough to want to play the army, but I don't want to go through the expense of buying a whole new army. My Necrons are just sitting around, so I thought I'd combine the two. So the whole week I've been wracking my brain trying to map Necrons to 'Nids, and of course, I keep coming up short on the monstrous creature front; I mean:

Necron Warriors=shooty Gants
Flayed Ones=stabby Gants
Necron Warriors with weird scratchbuilt flight systems= Gargoyles
Scarab Swarm=Ripper Swarm
Wraiths= Raveners

and then the whole thing falls apart from there. You have a whole pile of MC's with no evil machine equivalent, all the way up to the Hive Tyrant. I suppose Tomb Spyders could map to Tervigons (it's a stretch), but other than that, there's a long way to go. So, in search of ideas, I meander around the web, ending up here, on the Privateer Press site.

Evil machines with green power sources? The horns and skulls don't say "Necron" but everything else kinda does. Then we have the new plastic Cryx models: (pic from BOLS)

Oh my.  It's a MC with no organic gribblies. I see crushing claws, scything talons, even some kind of gun that I'll replace with a gauss cannon anyway.  One thing I was agonizing over is that, beyond a certain size, Necrons become all slab-sided and float everywhere. You know what? Screw it. The minions of the Void Dragon/Outsider aren't gonna do that. They're going to scuttle, crawl, run, and not WBB all over the place. Also, the word "Hive" will be replaced with "tomb", and I'll add the suffix "cron" all over the place. Tomb Tyrant, Tomb Guards, Trycron. Mawcron. Sure. It works. For those of you who haven't seen my Destroyer Lord:

Those flight bases are large enough to be MC bases themselves. He also looks sufficiently serpentine to be a Void Dragon minion. Of course, Hive Tyrants bulk larger and have more weapons, but.... yeah I can see it. I might have to make a mk.II of him. 

Watch this space for updates.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Heroes of the Imperium Part I: SPACE HULK!

I always regretted missing the chance to buy a copy of the original, with its magazine supplements, crappy terminator models, and really solid rules set. Nevertheless, GW decided to re-release it late last year, and I preordered a copy without delay (which is a good thing, because it sold out in about a day). When the great big box appeared on my doorstep, I was in heaven. $100 for so many plastic minis is a steal no matter how you slice it. The ones they cranked out for this box had flaws from the robosculpting, but... that'll be covered another time. It took me two weeks to get everything from the box painted up. Here are the Terminators:

These sculpts are in many way the pinnacle of quality for GW's work, and at the same time you can tell they were rushed through. There are details that are fine from the front, but they were only lasered away from that angle too. When you turn them to the side, the cut continues straight back. This required a lot of sneaky painting involving darkening certain parts to make them "recess" into the shadows of the model. The Genestealers were especially heinous in that regard, despite also being incredibly great models, but we'll cover them in a future post. An unexpected bonus was this fellow:

Probably one of the coolest objective markers, ever. I painted him in darker colors than the standard Blood Angels to denote the extreme age of him armor. He was obviously a hero before he died on the space toilet, so his armor would've been old and scored when he was alive.  Since Space Hulk is a Blood Angels story, that's how I painted them. Besides, it would have taken forever to file off all that imagery and replace it with something else. Also,  I already have more than enough Ultramarines. 

There they are, the first Citadel minis I ever bought so many years ago. I still love the old Terminator model. I think it's one of the nicest designs in their inventory, and that's saying a lot. These were painted badly long ago, and more recently stripped, re-posed, re-based, and re-painted. They've never seen the inside of a Space Hulk either; only ever a 40k battlefield. Of course, being Ultramarines, there are ton of them in my collection. Group photo, lads!

Go ahead and click on it for the large version and count, if you want. There are 35 of them in there. I prefer to field my Terminators in squads of 10. I'd combat squad them out, but until they become 2-wound models with 6 toughness to reflect the fluff text, well, I'll stick with the larger squads. To date, the only plastics in my collection, besides the Blood Angels, are 5 plastic Thunderhammer models. I wanted to finish out the squad, and an excuse to try the new multi-part ones.  You'll note in the photo are other models that didn't get photo-write-ups (such as the Chapter Master with his massive spear) but rest assured you'll see them featured later, in detail. 
I liked the 1st box of metals so much I went and got another one, but many of those models made their way to other chapters, mysteriously. Shown here are what remains, joined by a pair of Deathwing-specific tactical models. This was the result of more of the same restoration process detailed above, with the addition of a bunch of Dark Angels parts and gear from an eBay bits buy. The massive halberd Belial is carrying is actually a weapon from a Grenadier ogre, embellished with a plasma pistol. If the right arm shield looks odd, it's because it's a Dark Angels-specific storm shield. I wanted to save detail pics of him for the next post in the series.... so I will. Sorry. Likewise the Librarian, who looks a lot better than the more spartan version he came as, thanks to bits from the Flagellant sprues, which continue to be the gift that keeps on giving. Seriously, if you have any Imperial armies, get one of those sets. You will not be disappointed. 

The Black Templars Captain is another classic conversion with an oversized Grenadier Ogre weapon in his fist, this one a massive claymore. Seriously, the ogres had weapons in their hands and came with metal bits in their blister, including more ogre-sized weapons. Actually, now that I recall the line is called "Mercenary Orcs" (and is still in production) but I'll call them ogres because A) they're ogre-sized and B) make up my Ogre Kingdoms army. This squad is also unique because it features a Chaplain. The BT's apparently don't do Librarians, and more's the pity. I decided to dress him up a bit with bits and gave him a cowl, as well. Cutting through that metal torso to re-pose him was incredibly time-consuming, and not something I'd willingly repeat on another model. Besides, the Terminator loses about 3mm in height, and he's already that much shorter than the plastic model.  

The Grey Knights are just so damn cool it makes you sweat. Their detail is as baroque as it gets, their weapons are extra-cool gun/melee hybrids (at least, they were) and they're all psykers with super-swoopy powers. If a squad of them entered a Space Hulk given the psyker abilities in that ruleset... well, it just wouldn't be fair to the monsters. That said, 5 of the 11 models shown here didn't start life as Grey Knights at all. Captain Lysander you recognize, but the other 4 are Terminators that have been rescued from the bits box and given weapons, armor, and bits. One of them even has a titan purity seal on his halberd, and another a "storm bolter gauntlet" made from an old Rogue Trader Dreadnought hand. Don't ask me how that ended up in my bits box. It will make you cry. Just leave it be. 

An Adeptus Mechanicus Archmagos in Terminator armor. The Deathwing are, to date, the only chapter with Terminator models outside the standard (that being a medic; in the previous codex they also got a techmarine), so this fellow is a bit of an oddity. He started life as Obliterator, and rapidly hoovered up good bits and green stuff until he became the monstrosity you see here. He and the army that I field with him owe their existence to a write-up of an AdMech army created by the fantastically talented Dave Taylor. While mine have taken rather a different path than his, I still give him full credit for inspiring them. 

Part II of this series will feature character models, many of them Astartes, not all in Terminator armor. As for what's coming next, I think we'll segue into Warhammer Fantasy for a little while. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seats 12 Comfortably...

One of my (many) complaints about Games Workshop has been the scale of their models, and how something like a Land Raider couldn't possibly accommodate 10 little Marines, much less 5-8 Terminators, plus all the guts you'd expect a tank like that to have. That coupled with the price caused me to resist buying their overpriced model and thus from fielding a Land raider in any of my armies. Then I happened into my local hobby store and found a fantastic WWI mk I Male kit from Emhar:

Here's what he looks like on the box. When I got my first White Dwarf (issue 115! woo!), this was what Land Raiders looked like: big angry monsters with wraparound treads. That prow even look like it could open up. It doesn't, of course, and converting it to do so would've compromised the structural integrity of this kit, which, in my opinion, is far from being the greatest in the world. However, it's big enough and angry enough to make a fantastic Land Raider:

I bought a set of LR sponsons and hatches dirt cheap from a retailer on eBay, and off we went converting. The side sponsons took a bit of cutting mount the LR lascannons, but the sizes were dead on from the get-go, which made this thing go together in an afternoon. I didn't even lose any articulation on the sponsons. After that, it was just a matter of glueing hatches and radar/missile launcher bits on to taste. The thing looks like a little rolling battleship.

There's my old metal Terminator Captain, having just jumped out the front hatch. I had a bunch of scrolls and eagles left over from my old Leman Russ cloning project (to be seen here later), which went a long way towards Imperial-izing the tank. In hindsight, I wish I'd added a periscope or something for the driver to peer through, but the thing seems to have enough little red-eye sensors on it that I don't mind. One of my biggest gripes about the kit are the rubber treads, which, while wide and tread-y looking enough, were the devil to glue together and secure to the tank. I was doing this on the cheap and didn't want to go looking for 40k treads when a pair came with the kit, but man, if I had to do it again, I would. 

I bought a set of Flagellents on eBay as infantry for my Adeptus Mechanicus army, and it turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. Those little scrolls, bells, and things are fantastic for detailing, and really dress up practically everything in the GW range. I suppose at some point it's a little too much, but, as with everything, the key is to use juuuuust enough. If that weren't enough, I went back and added some scripting next to the hatches and things, as you do with military vehicles. For some reason, I love the engine section with the slim twin-exhausts:

I suppose if I were going for a truly mk.1 Land Raider look, I would've put the Lascannons in an over-under configuration, but the side-by-side guns just looked cooler.If Forge World were honest, they would've made a true "pre-Heresy" Raider with wraparound treads  and different detailing, rather than just a stock new LR with over-under sponsons. the thing just looks half-assed and a little sad. C'mon FW, you put so much effort into your super-heavies! Speaking of which, next to the (undersized) Rhino, this thing approaches SH size:

Although it's not that much taller. Oh well. I like the Redeemer and Crusader designs enough to want to build another one, but for now I have other things I want to work on...

Sunday, January 17, 2010


In case you aren't familiar with the term, and X-Plane is an experimental aircraft used to test new technologies. More often than not, they look weird and do weird things, like sweep their wings back (or forward), land facing straight up, shoot lasers, etc. In case you're curious, there's a whole tumblr page devoted to them here.

I love converting models, most often to make things that don't exist or should. So, whenever you see the X-Plane header in this space, it's probably because I've made something odd, such as this Space Marine Bike: 

Now of course there are no rules in 40k for Techmarines on enormous trikes, so this one functions as an attack bike in my Marine army. Something that I find happens quite often when I'm converting models is that, after a point, the model seems to build itself. for this one, I had a rather nice jetbike chassis from some obscure range, and a pair of leftover imitation-SM Bike forks (metal ones, of all things) from a manufacturer that was sued out of existence by GW ages ago. I used the bike bodies for a project you'll see later. Anyway, the more I rifled through my bits containers for things, the more this odd bird seemed to take shape, until I added the Techmarine with his multi-melta backpack as an afterthought at the end. The rear tire is, in fact a pair of 1/35 scale jeep tires, mounted using Ork bike weapon mounts:
 I've been converting things like this since the old days of Battletech, when you could field just about any 'mech of your own design, whether or not you could modify a model appropriately (which I frequently did). The Techmarine rider is, as you may have guessed, not even originally a marine model (well, parts of him). The head is from a Sentinel pilot, the torso, shoulder armor, and arms are from a Marine tanker gunner (all of my tanks are "buttoned up", so I have gunner/commander parts I never use) and the legs are from an old metal cavalryman I had (for some reason), bulked up with green stuff into Space Marine legs. His servo arm is the leg of an old Battletech Locust. The whole model is rather heavy (being 90% metal) and has a very Batman-esque look to it, probably thanks to the B-52 intake between the "forelegs":
Those are mounted by way of legs from an older large-scale Heavy Gear model, of which I bought quite a few out of love for their Votoms-based designs. Many of these became fodder for other models, unfortunately (partly due to the utter lack of interest in playing the Heavy Gear RPG/wargame in this part of the country). I've committed more heinous crimes against old minis, such as the utter destruction of "classic" 40k Dreadnought models (let's be honest: the designs were rubbish)  and the use of a Castellan robot's body as the fuselage of a bomber. I wish I had kept those things somewhat intact now (even just to sell intact on eBay). Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. 

As a last note, I understand that people will want in-progress pics so they can see what's running through my mind as I make these things (not to mention make some of their own)  however many of the models you'll be seeing here have been built way before I even thought of blogging, much less documenting the creative process. The next project I start (which, at this stage looks like Necron Tyranid models; more on that later) I shall endeavor to document, but for you kind readers (thank you for your comments about the Warhound!) the next few blogs will be things which have been built and, as such, are photo-ready. This includes the strange armies I have built for Warhammer Fantasy. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Starting big....

To get myself active in blogging again, I've decided to move this blog from stream-of-consciousness type to more of a showcase for my nerd hobbies, that is, modelling and painting SF miniatures and models. I also love photography, and will be flexing those muscles as I document the things that roll off my hobby desk. As such, we'll start big with the biggest thing I've scratchbuilt to date: a Warhound Titan for Warhammer 40,000. 
There's the big chap in all his glory. I built him to spec using measurements taken from, of all things, the 40k Landspeeder model. Since it featured two pilots, side by side, I reasoned it  would do for the dimensions of head, which is a bit wider and longer now due to armor, etc. For those of you who need something for scale reference, here's a picture of him with his Techpriest minder:
As you can see, while there's a pile of detail on him, he's still missing the Collegia Titanicus iconography, as well as a detailed war-banner on his crotch plate. In my defense, however, he's articulated at the neck, hips, shoulders, elbows, and ankles. I had to glue the "knees" in place because the mechanisms turned out to be far too frail for the weight of the model. Yes, you read right. I said he's posable. I like my toys to move. I found some large-size ball joints from the new Zoids hobby line on eBay, and they were perfect... until the model was assembled, and the sheer weight of all the plastic made some parts looser than others. Oh well. At least I can disassemble him for transport, if necessary. Here he is plodding towards you to say hello (by way of his large-bore cannons).
As far as parts go, a lot of him is made from plastic card reinforced with sprues. I used legs from an old Gundam model for the rear reactors, bits from the Manfactorum set (notably the gorgeous Mechanicus cog on his carapace), legs, arms and a torso from an old Dougram model, shields from WHF grail pilgrims, and a variety of other bits and bobs from my bits box. More pics:
The Vulcan Mega-Bolter as presented in the Apocalypse rules is woefully underpowered for its size, and a twin-mount model (that's 10 barrels! Yikes!) would require the thing to pull a cart twice its size for its own ammo. So, I made a massive single cannon with a big ammo drum (yes, that's an old paint pot). I think it looks much more imposing, although the elbow joint has started to losen, so the cannon sags after a while. Strangely enough, the Plasma Blastgun arm stays up and won't go down at all. Somewhere (where I can't reach) the mechanism got stopped by another part inside the blastgun. Wish that'd happened with the vulcan....

The Blastgun was another case of things just coming together after a while. I would've preferred some kind of green transparent tubing, but being a cheapskate, I settled for plastic tube painted accordingly. The sheer size of the model allowed me to add all sorts of other little details. The thing has vents all over the place (sold as "stairs" in varying sizes), and I even stuck a little Adepta Sororitas sign in there. (See? Next to the head?). I have the terrible habit of saving everything "in case I need it later", which is where I got little panels for fine detailing. The Manufactorum box helped an awful lot, as you can see from the top view and the rear.

I had the most trouble with the feet, and they turned out rather undersized for the model. This thing has enough one-of-a-kind parts to make it a one-of-a-kind itself. It would take a lot of finding to replicate it perfectly, but I don't need another Warhound anyway. I play 40k sporadically enough nowadays, and Apocalypse never, really. Still, I'd like to roll this thing out on the gaming table at least once, even if doing so results in my opponent's entire army blowing it away. 

The paint scheme is what I imagined for the Legio Invicta from Dan Abnett's Titanicus novel, although there are enough "undocumented" Titan legions that he could be from any one of a number of them, really. The red scheme matches my Adeptus Mechanicus army quite well, actually. You'll see a showcase of those posted here later on. 

Till next time!