Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year-end Tanks....

In the spirit of the season, I'd like to start off by saying thanks to all of you out there who have made this blog a part of your day, or week, or however often you come back. When starting off I'd thought I'd be just another voice in the wilderness, and the sense of community around the hobby blogs had just been astounding. I've learned a lot from reading and following your exploits in modelling and gaming, as I hope you have from mine, and I hope to continue to do so in the coming year. 

Anyhow, thanks to a little extra free time during the Christmas-New Year's week, I was able to get  a couple of projects out of the way, not the least of which were my first foray into the realm of pattern Rhino hulls for the Ultramarines. The project was initially spurred on by my purchase of a large bits lot that included some ancient metal Predator bits and an old Razorback turret (in addition to those old mk1 Landspeeders featured in an earlier post).  As with other pattern hulls, the resulting tanks always turn out a bit taller than the originals if only due to the expedient of having armor skirts instead of exposed wheels:

My one regret from the model was that I wasn't able to fabricate any satisfactory exhausts, and had to go with these boxy ones that look a bit like old-style Jeep snorkels. Maybe I'll come upon another bit for the next set of them but this'll have to do for now. The round detailing bits are from Greatcoat Infantry sprues, in case you were wondering. Used sprues will always be the scratchbuilder's friend. ;) 

They're a bit wider too, thanks in part to the width of the plastic i-beams I used for the track sections. The end result is a slightly larger, heavier-looking tank that looks more durable than Rhino actually is.   

I resisted the urge to saw off the barrel from Leman Russ autocannon bit, since I rather like using twin-linked Lascannons (thank you, Vendettas) to bore through the armor of those pesky Ork battlewagons. The metal turret bits (yes, I have another one) sat way too low, however; so low that I had to build up the hull under them to get the turret to traverse past the pintle-mounted storm bolter. Luckily I never throw anything out, and had some Chimera hull bits that filled the bill perfectly. A little plasticard and some riveting later, and I had a rather pleasing set-back Predator with an offset turret.

The sponson mounts were from the same bits purchase, and didn't come with mounting arms, so I made do with rare earth magnets. In retrospect, I probably should've added an HK missile box to the side of the turret, but there's always the next one. That metal front plate was from the same lot as well, and had a Blood Angels blood drop that was easily hidden with a spare Ultramarines symbol. I wish I had more stowage bits, having shot my wad, so to speak, with my IG tanks. Oh well. Being ship-based, I suppose Marines need to travel light anyway. 

Some newly-minted Devastators next to their new whip. Another benefit of the larger chassis is that it actually looks like it could accommodate half a dozen power armored Astartes. Ten... that's still pushing it. 

The old-style metal Razorback turret sits high enough that a hull mount like the Pred's wasn't necessary, which is good, because I wanted to be able to remove the turret and have it read as a plain old Rhino. The hinges on the side and rear doors were inspired by the amazing card work of Klaus Fischer, a modelling deity in my book who's right up there alongside Dave Taylor. If you haven't clicked around his site, go and do so. His vehicle builds are absolutely amazing, particularly his airborne tanks and their working retractable weapons

Weird to end with a plug, but I write these things off the cuff, so there you go. Thanks to everybody who made this such a great year, and for sticking with me. I wish you all the luck and success in the world, and better 2011.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas,Everybody!

In celebration of the season, a nice little diorama of dwarves welcoming in the Yule Beer. I dunno about you, but I always loved seeing the little Christmas Village scenes at the local hobby store when I was a kid. Seeing model trains run through intricately detailed miniature landscapes was probably one of the things that spurred me into our hobby. 

I played WHF before breaking into 40k, and the dwarves, as an army and a miniatures choice, will always be near and dear to my heart. Having missed out on the first few incarnations of the White Dwarf himself, I picked this one up on the anniversary of WD magazine (which, coincidentally, I no longer buy b/c of the price and poor content quality):

Their "official" paint scheme for the model is anything but white, so I immediately painted him grey-white as appropriate. Not the most contrasty paint scheme, but he's called the White Dwarf, which I assume doesn't refer to him being an albino pygmy dressed in reds and greens.  All three figs and the shield were painted separately, and the shield required some major pinning to make it structural. If I ever field a WHF dwarf army again, this model will stand for my general. The published rules for the actual legendary trio are pretty unbalanced (and fun) but I don't see ever using those on the battlefield. 

The beer cart I made for use in playing the first part of the magazine campaign Bugman's Lament, in which you have to defend a beer shipment trundling its way across the battlefield. I'd always hoped the dwarves would gain a beer cart as a chariot choice when the codex was rewritten, but oh well. I still had a lot of fun making this model from bits and bobs, not to mention forgotten minis found in the dark recesses of my local game store. The cart and barrels are from the Mega Miniatures Dungeon Decor line.

Sharp eyes will notice the dwarf as converted from a standard bearer, with the mastehead cut off and shaft bent back into a whip. I cut and reposed the feet, too. The strongbox beneath his bench came from a Grenadier ogre, I think. Those horses were packaged in loose baggies and sold for $3 apiece, and the yoke connecting them to the cart is made of sprue. The stowage hanging off the sides came from the Mordheim Dwarf Treasure Hunters, among other things. 

Because this photo series was done on my kitchen table instead of the lightbox, the lighting here isn't choice, and the colors are getting a bit washed out. Mea culpa.

The idea of the scenario was to get as many beer carts as you could past the intervening goblins and off-board. I went beer cart-light and escort-heavy, opting to blast as many gobbos as I could with Thunderers, and block off any trolls with heavy-armored fighters and a Slayer or two. The special rules for the scenario said you could mount a Thunderer on the cart and fire his weapon in addition to the drover's while on the move, so I did just that. It was touch-and-go for a couple of rounds, but I managed to pull off a win, thanks to the low leadership of the gobbos and the stupidity of the trolls. 

The supporting cast for this little diorama is a nice little cross-section of my dwarf collection. Another Bugman is in there, accompanied by Malakai Makaisson and a bunch of artillery crewmen and clansmen. The two female dwarves are from Reaper Miniatures fantasy line, not to mention being out of the ordinary as dwarf minis go. You don't usually see a buxom dwarf rogue, not to mention a firey Runesmith (Runesmithstress?) in GW armies, and more's the pity. 

Lastly, the buildings. Made from styrofoam, modelling tallus, sprue, and dozens of other bits and bobs. I plan to do a detailed post about them later, since I love working on terrain and don't do it often enough (mostly because I have no place to keep it).

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families. Hopefully this holiday season you're getting together and crashing your armies against one another over some spiked eggnog :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Commissions for the Holidays...

The latest Angels of Flame work is sort of an exercise in bodyguard theater; a Librarian and his Terminator bodyguard, accompanied by a Chaplain and his Assault Marine friends. Even as these (along with their Ironclad buddy)  rolled out, another commission rolled in, and a Hilda Garde III airship (from Final Fantasy 9) is taking shape on my hobby desk. Again, these models appear brighter than the ones from earlier this year because the photos were taken in a lighhtbox, whereas the previous were by virtue of sunlight and bounce cards. 

I quite like the new LIbrarian model, and was hungry for an opportunity to work on one for some time. I couldn't possibly justify purchasing one of my own, as I have two of the older ones in my own Terminator collection and adding a third to the sixty-strong football team of death would just be too much. For some reason, that right shoulder proved highly resistant to CYA glue, and had to be shaved bare and pinned in place. He isn't stock blue because, quite frankly, I wanted him to tie in closely with the rest of the client's army and quite frankly, the blue look doesn't quite work for me, visually (except in the case of Ultramarines, which are supposed to be blue). I quite like the dark, smoldering look of the army, and it carries well into the HQ/special models with their dark-grey robes. 

His pals are some older-model Termies purchased by the client from eBay. Their previous owner assembled some of them with torsos twisted a bit too far, but I didn't break/repose them for fear of ruining the model, and so left them be. 

Likewise, the Assault Marines came with backpacks attached, which made painting the flame motifs on their shoulders a double pain in the ass. Again, removing the packs would've mauled the models, otherwise I would've done so and painted something a bit more ornate as a squad logo. Oh well. 

The Chaplain himself came to my client with the wolf's head helmet of a Space Wolf captain, which I removed and replaced with bits from his Land Raider box, which turned out to be a wealth of bits for the rest of his army. There was a gap near the jump pack's joint which allowed me to pop it off, giving that winged shoulder pad the attention it deserved. I painted the skeletal angel thereupon in flaming colors (it's there; zoom in and you'll see it) so as to tie him in with the rest of the regiment. 

That's the last of the Angels of Flame for a while until we see progress on the Storm Raven, which depends on the client's parts orders/interest. In the mean time, there's another airship to build, and then those lovely tanks seen in the last post. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Commissions: Ironclad Dreadnaught

My client's Angels of Flame army is growing by leaps and bounds, not least of which is another Dreadnought. Although it's the model I completed last, I thought I'd feature it first. If you're comparing it to the last bunch of pics I took of the initial Angels of Flame offerings, keep in mind that this is MUCH better lit, thanks to the lightbox, so looks altogether brighter and more vivid. Again, thanks to Greg for goading me into making one :)

Firstly, the Seismic Hammer might be one of my most favorite weapon bits, ever. I left the joint lose and mobile, so it could be posed punching, and for the better part of a day agonized over whether to do more cutting and pinning so as to make it spin. Maybe if I ever get an Ironclad of my own.....

While I like the concept (and look) of Hurricane Bolters, I think they could've designed the weapon arm better. Why not make a huge right gauntlet ringed with embedded bolters to serve as a counterpoint to the Seismic Hammer? The pepperbox is big and imposing, but robs the dread of a CC weapon; not a very good trade-of if you ask me. The chainfist bit is rather  low-impact, visually. A long, wicked looking one with a hinged wrist and more intricate, jagged teeth (like a real chainsaw) would've been been much more interesting (and possible) on such a large model. Purists (and Battletech fans) will note the searchlight mounted off the left torso, like a Warhammer. Sort of makes me wish the HK missiles were in a little six-shot box. 

I do like the extra beefiness the HKM's bring to the torso, though. I've always been a fan of the boxy dreadnought's squat strength, and this kit doesn't disappoint. While I like the elephant-foot power glove on the standard model, the fingered glove on this one makes a lot more sense as a manipulator. 

The obligatory Super Dread shot, courtesy of magnetized shoulder sockets. While the HKM boxes look sexy, I still wish this thing had the anti-tank punch of Lascannons or Autocannons. The client could mix/match arms and field two dreads with ranged anti-armor rounds, I suppose....

As a last note, on the bench now are a couple of scratchbuilts for my own Ultramarines:

Thanks to some old-style metal bits from an eBay bits-box auction, a Razorback and a Predator will be joining my forces by Christmas. After covering the rest of the commissions next post, I'll do a Klaus Fischer-style photo docu of these things going together. The backbone of any Marine force is its Rhino-chassis motor pool, and I'll be expanding mine for sure now that I have patterns cut out (not to mention enough metal Pred bits for another tank). I ran out of stowage bits back when I was working on my IG tanks, though. :(

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dangerous Territory....

I've been a busy bee lately, what with family/work and all, and then my Angels of Fire client surfaces with a box of new models to paint. Once the Ironclad, Terminators, Librarian, Chaplain, and Assault Marines are finished, I'll post pics of them in all their smouldering glory.

Then he breaks out this box of goodies:

Him: "Do you think you could use these to make me a Storm Raven?"
Me: "You're going to need a few more parts..."

So apparently on the heels of that last controversial post, I'm going to birth a gunship. My own idea for the famously ugly ship was shaping up to look more like this:  (Image is copyright Lucasarts, used without permission) 

But now it looks like we'll be doing the Land Raider/Valkyrie hybrid, which is pretty much what the internet agreed the thing would look like anyway. (GW tried for an "official" kit, but we already covered that, didn't we?) There is hope for the above look, however, as it rings every bell for me except for the "front assault ramp" one. (and that nose is a little far from the Space marine aesthetic; for that matter, so are the boxy engines) I love the idea of a wing/engine cluster hybrid aspect; it solves a lot of design problems for me. For me, it gives me a use for that Tau Hammerhead that's just been lying around.

Sorry, Hammerhead, your days in one piece are numbered. It's a far, far better place you go to, though. 

The other ask is, of course, that it fits a Dreadnaught. I'm going to do my best to make the thing wide as hell so it fits one internally, lying down; that way, all you do is drop the rear ramp and he slides out and stands up.  Personally, I think it'd be scary as hell to see one come running down the front ramp at you, but then the maw would be so gaping as to be Thunderhawk-sized. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Robot Porn for the Cyberpunk Set.

The Sarif Industries website is a nifty little flash site created to promote the upcoming cyberpunk Deus Ex game. Besides featuring a show site for the fictional corporations cyborg parts, there's also a little hacking minigame (any of you remember how Hollywood sees hacking? Yeah, well there you go) that gets you a bit of cool background. Anyway, it's sexily designed and fun to poke around in, so amble on over and take a look. 

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.