Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I, Dolores...

Resin kits are a tremendous pain in the ass.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

As you may or may not have figured out, I'm a tremendous mecha-head. Two of my all-time favorite games are Zone of the Enders and ZoE: Anubis for the PS2. They're high-speed, kickass 3rd person mecha-combat games from the same crew (sort of) that brought you the Metal Gear Solid series, and the designs are simply amazing. The producers made several half-assed attempts to expand the series into other media. That brings us to this tragedy:

I bought kit before I saw the series, and lord, the series ain't good. It's a lighthearted farce that makes a mockery out of an otherwise very serious game universe. That big trucker fella on  the right? He spends the series driving that pink mecha in the back. The pink mecha? She has an AI personality laughingly made to resemble a 12 year old japanese girl. 

I am not kidding. 

It made me very sad. 

Brave lil trooper that I am, I watched the entire series. 

Later, I had to cleanse my brain by watching the grittiest episodes of the Band of Brothers series. 

I will leave it at that.

Anyway, because the ZoE protagonist mecha, Jehuty, is my grail kit (more on that in another post) and Dolores isn't a bad design at all, I quickly jumped on the chance to buy a pair of kits from a recaster on the cheap (and I mean CHEAP). They came like this:

Also, because I like toys, I decided to articulate as many of her joints as humanly possible with aid of readily available (and really, really cheap) ball joints from Kotobukiya and Wave. Let me tell you, if you love drilling and power tools, then take on a project like this, because you'll do a lot of it. Just be sure to mask up, because resin dust will kill you. In addition, Dolores' original paint scheme was... well.... hmmm...

So I took it upon myself to change things up a bit, and added a lot more black and crimson:

This was a fixed-pose resin kit, so there was some sanding and green-stuff remodeling involved, primarily around the knees, hips and torso. She's jointed in the neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, hips and knees. I wanted to joint the wrists, but they were just too slender to cut into and joint. In fact, I ended up having to repair them with some fine metal rod (aka paper clip). I ended up with a kit that is, quite satisfyingly, posable:

Although those knee joints give me pause. I may have to hunt down hardier ones in the near future. 

That wire base thingy holding her up is $4.50 and sold in packs of 2 from Hobbylink Japan, which is where I also purchased the joints. I'm rethinking the decision to leave her wings black, and may paint those pink so they accent her engine nacelles. Yes, those are double-ball joints. They have amazing articulation and hold up quite well. 

Anyhow this was such a fun and satisfying project that I may do this to other things not meant to have joints, like 40k kits. If you're hobby-inclined and like a nice involved project, I recommend trying it yourself. Word to the wise, though, do your drilling somewhere well-ventilated and wear a mask to keep the dust out, because it's very fine and will get in your lungs. 

Happy Thanksgiving, people. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pure, Unfiltered Awesome.

You have to admire when someone really, really hits it out of the park. 

Yes, it's a detailed, scratchbuilt cut-away of Mega-man.

Yes, it can be yours. Link here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tyracron Update: The Cyclopean Annihilator, Tyrannofex

I struggled with this one. I really did. 

If you recall, my Tyrannos were originally going to be an attempt to resurrect the "Death Barge" concept from the old GW sketches. That idea got scuttled when the only dino ribs I could find at local hobby shops were either enormous or far too small (I still want to build a Death Barge though; maybe I'll just make a superheavy one)  Thus, I fell back on the tried and true (not to mention readily available and cheap) Carnifex chassis. Now, when you use the same parts, you risk things coming out the same, a trap I definitely didn't want to settle into. The other problem was the enormous gun, which had to be Necron-flavored.  The prototype had two double-thick legs, a big double-barrelled cannon, and looked like a cross between Metal Gear Ray and a turkey that really, really had to take a shit. 

What came out looks like it should have been chasing down Gelflings in The Dark Crystal and blasting them to atoms. I had already built three head/gun combinations with the guns side-by-side, like enormous tusks. I wouldn't have been able to put green rods on the inner bits before painting, and from the side they only looked like one Heavy Gauss cannon; pretty underwhelming on such a big model. After a lot of hemming and hawwing I ripped one apart and put it in a derringer-style over-under config that looked so imposing I remade the other two the same night. I had to bore into the Carnifex torso to set them in, but once I did, they were solid, and, as is the case with other models, this one started to build itself after that. 

The head is from a plastic Cryx kit secured with some Dragonforge white metal power cabling. As for the secondary guns Gauss flayers were way too small (see the Tomb Stalker) and I had these Eldar bits lying around for what seemed like forever from a bits lot. The clawed missile launcher meshed with the "salvo" part of "stinger salvo, for me, and the other gun is my stab at a Necron template weapon. Those gimbals are the little mounting points from Tau drones, reinforced with some metal rod. They fit right into the notches on a Carnifex carapace with no trouble at all. 

If you click and zoom in you can tell just how far back the gun mechanism goes. Originally the legs were all going to have curved carapace armor on them, but my mock-up simply didn't look heavily armored enough, so I settled on the huge i-beam shields instead. After all,  as with the Tervigons and their armored gate generators, once these monsters get to be a certain size, they start  picking up the slab-sided aspects of the Monolith. I had also wanted the middle legs to be swung out to the side more, as on insects they're responsible for shifting the creature's weight. The reason they're mounted forward is simply to make the monster look more imposing, not to mention shield the body from incoming fire as it blasts away. 

I noticed a number of things after the frenzy of building/painting was over. One of them is the huge block of nothing in the middle of the back of the big middle legs. I should've stuck some more power cabling in there. Likewise the eyelet in the mounting point on the stinger salvo launcher. What I am enormously happy with is the triple row of exhausts down the back of the monster. I thought about carrying down another stabilizer strut from the nub left by the tail, but my early mock-up looked like it was connected to the ground, so I left it off. 

I also only had two plain carapaces, and rather than leave it with holes or green-stuff ridges, I decided to make one of the Tyrannos a "command tank" type with extra optics above his little head. If you zoom in and look at the carapace and the side of the i-beam, you'll notice a kind of stippled bubbling. That happened as a result of the primer, and although it's usually something you don't want (and should sand out), here it made the bits look like extra-heavy, rough-surfaced metal, so I welcomed it and drew out the detail with some careful drybrushing. 

Yeah, there's some envy in the ranks now. Sorry little fella. The middle legs on a couple of models were even wider than the already-wide oval base, so I had to stick some flooring on there in order to base them properly. I ran out of forlorn looking skeletons, though. Maybe one of these days I'll find some terrified Imperial citizens to base with. 

It's too bad you can't buy them in squadrons, like Carnifexes or Leman Russes; Grievous could join a brace of them and stomp around the battlefield killing things. Oh well. He'll have to settle for terrifying people by himself. I really should make him some Tyrant Guard flunkies, though. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crimes against Design, if not Humanity. AGAIN.

(First seen by me on on YTTH. image Copyright, Games Workshop, and they can fucking keep it )

I like to balance the good with the bad, so let me first say what I think is right with this depressingly ugly model that was designed by sightless, mindless, tasteless morons. Do remember that these are the same demented troglodytes who brought you this slab-sided piece of shit literally, on a stick:

(image copyright Games Workshop and Forgeworld, and again, they may keep it)

Remember him? Cestus the Ram? With his shipping container hulls and nonsensical wings? He remembers you. How many people have plunked down 92 Pounds Sterling for one of these flying garbage trucks? Less than FW hoped for, I'll bet. You think there's going to be a stampede for Stormraven kits? 

Actually, I think there will be, because unlike me, a majority of people won't care what it looks like, just that it exists. 

Quick side trip to art school: which design more embraces the established Space Marine aesthetic?

Remember, their first production aircraft 40k design ( I chose to ignore the ancient Epic line, for purposes of this discussion) was this:

(image copyright Games Workshop and Forgeworld. they may keep it to ignite the pyre for the first two)

If you answered "the first one" to the above question, then give yourself a gold star. You're right. They belong together and were designed to look similar.  Now, the Thunderhawk is still slab-sided, ugly, and has design features that were stuck on there by people who had no idea what they were doing, but at least it started as something halfway cohesive. Then that jerk came along and ruined it with the stub lascannon wings, the big dumb gun and those laughable gun mounts. He's the same guy with the lego collection who decided to build the Stormraven, and he used less than the 15 minutes he'd had for the first one. But, at least he had an eye on all the other Space Marine kits, unlike the drunken retarded troll who made the Cestus station wagon. 

So, what do we do with this new kit?

Rip the wings and engines off and put them in a little pile next to you. Now rip the turret and hook thing off of the fuselage. Rip the lascannons off and put them in your pile. Chuck the turret. Chuck the hook thing. Keep the fuselage and its attendant bits and bobs and put them in your pile. See the pile of bits next to you? Keep them. They're good for that next thing you're going to build. Maybe it's a dropship, maybe it's not. Those other things? Maybe they're useful, maybe they're not. But for the bits you get for the money you're spending, you might as well go buy a Land Raider and some Valkyrie parts on eBay and carry on. You'll probably end up saving yourself some cash. 

Happy Veterans Day, and to all of you who have served and are serving, thank you. If I ever meet you, beer's on me. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

RIP, Yoshinobu Nishizaki

The creator of the Space Cruiser Yamato series, a man who habitually lugged around illegal amounts of serious firepower, has died from injuries suffered as a result of falling from his 485 ton boat, the Yamato in Tokyo. He was 75, and lived more in his 3/4 of a century then most of us will in.... well, a century. Probably. Link here.

Rest in peace, Yoshinobu. Your destiny is a sea of stars.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Codex: Royal Necrons

Because I usually take long daily hikes that last an hour or so, I have a lot of time to ruminate on things and stave off crippling suicidal bouts of depression. Today I started thinking, as Necron players do, of how to make the old war-horse better and more fun to play. In terms of what it offers in terms of sheer gameplay, Codex: Necrons is dry, simplistic, boring, and easily misunderstood by the thick and unwary. You have a couple of good builds, but are hamstrung from using many of the things in the book by sheer cost and practicality, not to mention the appalling lack of variety for all the cool-ass fluff they wrote. An enormous, star-spanning (and devouring) empire built on.... a bunch of skeletons and some spiders? Meh. 

So, as you do when you trudge for miles surrounded by nature, I started to think aloud. What follows is a listing of my vocal notes, with more things added later as I thought of them:

Necrons: are Relentless and have FnP
Gauss Weapons: are Lance weapons autowound on a 6, ignoring invulnerable saves; vs vehicles they
 ignore cover/obscurement saves and autoglance on a 6.

Gauss weapons are a tough nut because they need to be effective against vehicles without mowing down troops and such willy-nilly. I thought about giving them the Melta ability but then no Necron packing one could successfully wound an Eldar Avatar, and the Eldar are really who they were made to give fits to. Plus, they're supposed to be the army that inspired the creation of the rest of the other races in the galaxy so the list, as a whole, should be hard.

C’tan: Nightbringer, Deciever, Outsider. 
Wraith Lord- Wraiths may be bought as troops; +1 to FNP for
             Wraiths and Ghasts
Destroyer Lord: Destroyers maybe be bought as troops; Heavy 
            Destroyers get twin-linking; both types get +1 to FNP
Flayed Lord: may buy a retinue of Pariahs that can deploy with it;
             Flayed ones have +1 to FnP

Std Lord: may buy a retinue of Immortals that don’t count on ToE;
          Necron Warriors +1 to FnP

There. Now you have an additional C'Tan, plus a variety of Lord choices that empower different selection of other things. They're expensive, so you really shouldn't buy more than 1 or 2 Lords for the entire army, and certainly not more than one C'tan. 

Pariahs: for 36pts, they are now T5, have 2 wounds, Fleet,
         Move thru Cover, Stealth and the Necron Stat
Immortals: are T5 and 2W, but otherwise unchanged
Poltergeists: expensive shooty creatures armed with a 
              Gauss Destroyer, are ethereal (3++ and MtC) like
              Wraiths (but have normal mvt), have Etheric Tempest 
              ability as per Nightbringer. 
Gate Spiders; a big tough MC that allows other Necrons to be
              reserved and DS as per Monoliths

Now we're seeing more constructs (with decent WS/BS), not to mention carrying forward the "undead army" theme that was half-assed by the 1st book. Also, finally, some anti-tank in the Elite slot.

Necron Warriors; are T5, and have Immortals as sergeants for
                 upgrade cost, Tomb Spiders are cheaper, and now 
                 bought as upgrades, are treated as part of the
                 squad, and allow a reroll of FnP within 12”
Flayed Ones; Pariahs as sergeants; have fleet, stealth, and MtC;
             may assault after DS
Ghosts: assault troops that are T3, ethereal/move/save as per Wraiths

We don't entirely suck in assault anymore, and get a little more bang for our 18pts/model cost. Spiders no longer generate Scarabs, but who cares? Now they make Necron Warriors much, much tougher. Flayed ones are now worth playing with.

War Barque: Dedicated transport; cheap with tiny anti-infantry guns.

You didn't think this army was just going to walk or plod around in Monoliths, did you?

Fast Attack
Banshee: tough shooty MC that moves like a jetbike
Destroyers: squad max size of 8, are 2 wound models; for every 5,
            1 destroyer may be upgraded to a Heavy
Wraiths: are still Ethereal, but now 2 wounds, T5 and bought in 
         squads of 6. +D6 attacks on charge. 
Scarabs: May be upgraded to include Scarab Queen (1 higher S/T/WS,
         W, generates scarabs as TS used to)

Now Wraiths are tougher and worth buying (as they should be) and Destroyers reward you for buying 5 of them without punishing you for not saving points for heavies. Yes, you can still put all of your points into scarabs, but honestly, they're there so you can buy them as a screen for your legions of other guys.

Heavy Support
Monolith: as per codex
Tomb Stalker: is really fighty, but has disappointing guns
Cyclopean Annhilator: a shooty monster that has a big gun or three
               and some minor melee ability, should it get rushed. 
Heavy Destroyers: as per codex

Though the Heavy Destroyer listing is unchanged, buying a Destroyer Lord gives your snipers twin-linking, which is huge for the Necrons. The other creatures are there as big tough distractions to draw fire alternatives to boring old Monoliths.

Lastly, if this list looks a little Tyranid-y  at first glance, that's because it is. I wanted a Necron list that used my Tyracron models, so there. No, it's not balanced. These are just notes, not something you should bring to a table as of yet. I have a few too many side projects to go writing rules and codexes, but if I did, this is a nice jumping off point.

Thoughts? Criticisms?