Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tyracron Update: Harpies!

Two Harpies for the Tyracron army. I thought of calling them Banshees, but the nomenclature would confuse people further as to what army I was playing (the Void Dragon!) For some reason these two took longer to kick out than usual, but I'm pleased with the result. Somehow I thought they'd be less coppery, but the paint scheme  just worked out that way.  At the last minute I also decided to  leave the forelegs and wings unglued. They're on some pretty long/thick pins anyway, so I can disassemble them for packing, and the sockets hold them rather snugly, to boot. I thought about magnetizing them, but after some experimenting the weight was distributed such that they'd rotate downwards out of position, without fail. 

Most people would say those gaping openings on the destroyer skirts are hover-thrusters, although the truth is on the Harpy they function more as intakes, to allow greater airflow over his heat exchangers. The "wings" are field radiators, allowing him to pitch and pivot in midair like a wasp. Pinning also has the extra perk of making them posable, so I can swing the talons up into attack position (as above), or back for some cruising; 

Harpies Zero-One and Zero-Two aren't completely identical; I only had one plastic Wraithlord head and prices were to high to justify another, so I used an oblong airplane fuselage part, plasticard, and some green stuff instead. Tyranids are suppose to have biomorphs to suit their needs anyway, right? Zero-One's thorax is also different, too:

The jet fuselages I used from the thorax were at the waaaay bottom of a box of Gundam and other plastics, and this one was missing a bit on the bottom. Luckily this Carnifex tail end fits nicely. I figured the thorax was more for storing its load of Spore Mines; although for Necrons they'd be what? Floating skulls surrounded by ghost-fire, most probably. Zero-Two doesn't have this spiny biomorph ( I only had one of the 'Fex bits; these were all from a bits lot) which makes him more aerodynamic, I suppose:

From the heavy hydraulics on those wings, this monster probably uses them as forelegs when it lands, balancing on his forward four limbs. Really, I should've put longer limbs in the back, since insects commonly use those to push themselves along. (the middle two are for shifting weight forward and balance, and the forward ones for sensing)  The Warmachine talons (glued, not pinned) worked much better in the back, adding to the hunched- over look I wanted.  I think the arrangement gives it a more aggressive forward posture. It probably spends most of its operational life floating around anyway.

How's the army shaping up? Well, as you can see, from the usual suspects: 

That poor fellow on the far right is a vintage Mk I Necron trooper. I scored a big lot of them when I was first building my Necron army, and refitted most with new Warrior heads so they'd blend in. Now they'll have wimpy Termagaunt stats and no WBB...

But there will be swarms of them (providing my Tervigon generation rolls work out). For the record, I decided to frame my initial buildout around Stelek (of YTTH fame)'s Peekaboo list, which is comprised of :

Two Hive Tyrants with Heavy Venom Cannons
Four Zoanthropes in two teams of two, in Mycetic Spores
Two Tervigons
Two Harpies
Twenty Gaunts (two squads of ten) 
Two Mawlocs

Or, if you want to use the Tyracron names:

Two Tomb Tyrants with Heavy Gauss Cannons
Four Zoancrons, in two teams of two, in Mycetic Crypts
Two Tervicrons
Two Banshees
Twenty Necron Warriors
Two Void Serpents

How's that for sticking with a theme? 

So moving forward, next on my build list are the Tervigons (Tervicrons) and Hive (Tomb) Tyrants. Trygon/Mawloc bits are scarce on eBay right now, and I need to sell some more items to raise building funds anyway. Other monsters I want to make are Tyrannofexes (I love the stat line and weapons loadouts) and the essential Hive Guard  (guns that need no LoS? Yes please!) but I'll shoot for completing one army list and supplementing more monsters for other lists later. 

My thoughts on the Tervicrons are for a spider-like creature with an immense gate generator for a thorax. The Necrons don't come from larvae, but rather gate in en masse from their tombs. While I would've loved to make some sort of giant transport beast, the randomness of Gaunt generation means there's a semi-infinite amount you could make, with fortunate rolling. So, rather then them unfolding from a rack like Battle Droids (although that would be cool) the Tervicron opens a gate directly back to the tombs and out they walk, ready to fight. If I knew more about wiring light-up bits, I'd make cool light-up gate generators...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Heroes of the Imperium: Dreadnoughts

It took GW a while to get the Dreadnought to the point where it didn't make your eyes throw up. The stopgap version between this (current) and the Rogue Trader version looked like complete ass, and the awful was compounded with the retconned "Pre-Heresy" Mr. Potato head:

Apologies to those of you who spent hours painstakingly making one of these, but man, that thing is so incredibly ugly I don't want to touch any of it with a ten foot pole. I had a pair of the old Rogue Trader ones, and now have only the "figure 8" torsos. Maybe I'll convert them, maybe I won't, but I sure as hell won't make Golden Army bots out of them. "Who?" You say? Well, then, take a gander:

Look ma! I'm Pre-Heresy! Man, it was bad enough that this movie killed the franchise. The Golden Army soldiers were neat in their crab-faced clockwork sort of way, but that also made them kind of comical and as a big a threat as, say, the evil super-elf villain (elves? hah!). Anyway, on to the blocky-stumpies:

I've spoken before (haven't I? ) of my preference for metal models over plastic, and all of my dreads are big honking pieces of metal, courtesy of eBay. They weigh a ton, and should. I honestly can't visualize how the thing runs at any speed at all. With its center of gravity being so low, why don't they mount battle cannons and other ordinance weapons on them?
Anyways, back when you could do such things, I bought a several cheap scroll/purity seal steam tank bits, and have been adorning vehicles with them ever since, and my dreads are no exception. 

Many people assume that lower round bit on the end of the assault cannon is the muzzle, but if that were true it'd quickly overheat and melt down. Vulcans spin to keep the barrel temperature down, otherwise they'd warp something awful and the the gun would be useless. GW would benefit from having someone with engineering expertise on staff, or at least someone who looks at military hardware once in a while. Oh well. 

I was sorely tempted to complete the "Rifleman" look by giving him a radar wing, but AC dreads don't get any extra bonuses vs skimmers like Hydras do, so what would have been the point? The smoke discharger is more useful on the battlefield anyway. Here's another look at his cannons:

Which, like so many others out there, are based on the Defense Line twin-linked AC's and bulked up using plasticard  and other oddments to fit the dread chassis. Other people mount them stock, but they looked too spindly to me by themselves, hence the armored housings. 

This poor beast came to me with all of his frontal detail filed off. Luckily I had a plastic sarcophagus armor bit to restore his good looks, along with a grail pilgrim shield to hide the scraped-off remnants of his sensor array. The right torso wasn't as bad off, so I went with the old campaign-list motif. 

I prefer to have all my dreads stomping along/reacting to something instead of standing pat and firing, not an easy feat with the metal legs. However I find that the effect is much more pleasing, and forces you to turn the model and look at it from all angles, rather than just the one. I would've made my Harpy models coiling and reacting to things too, if I could've, but given the parts it just wasn't possible. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Completing the Brood...

In addition to finishing Deathleaper, I also used up the last of the 'Nid Warrior parts and Tau legs on hand to flesh out a Tyracron brood. I really am glad I decided to stick with the Crisis suit legs; the posability they give the models really is head and shoulders above the old 'Nid ones. For instance, they can react to something in a blasty-killy way, like this fellow:

Unfortunately, by the time I got to our friend here, I'd run out of regular Crisis suit feet. Luckily, I had these metal ones lying in the bits box. It makes sense he'd have the extra stability anyway, with the larger gun he's toting around. One the other hand, this chap's pretty eager to get stuck in, getting ready to follow up a scything talon one-two with an axe blade:

One of the problems people had with my using the Necron arms was that they looked too spindly next to the 'Nid ones. Spiders and insects have different roles for different sets of limbs, beyond just moving about on them; with spiders, the front two are feelers, the back two are spinners, and one is even used for reproduction. Similarly, the Tyracron's middle limbs are for finer work (like firing weapons and operating their arcane technology), and so don't need to be as bulky as their forelimbs, which are more useful for things like climbing, leaping about, and of course, killing you.

Speaking of things that want to kill you, the Harpies are nearing completion....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tyracron Update: Deathleaper!

This week, another specialty Tyracron: the Deathleaper. That Alien Queen model is the gift that keeps on giving, and her lovely legs were the basis for what turned out to be a fantastic model. I reposed the legs into a sprinting stance, cleaned the lines a bit with green stuff, and anchored them with a brass peg in one stiletto heel. She ain't coming off that base, and she's balanced enough not to tip over:

Since Tyracrons don't have tails (the non-MC ones don't anyway) she has to use her rending claw arms for balance as she vaults along, and probably moves like a gazelle, courtesy of those monstrous Gauss Lances on her other set of arms. They're mounted side-by-side on her shoulders, which makes her sort of a monstrous swiss army knife of metal death. 

Her head is mostly green stuff, combined with a teardrop-shaped metal bit and a plastic Necron head. It's also intentionally not white, as Deathleaper isn't a synapse creature. Since she's a stealth unit, I mixed browns and blacks in with the metallics to keep her overall paint scheme dark. Of course, she probably uses some kind of Necron cloaking device to hide,  since she towers over regular models. 

Those Cryx bits really set the model off, don't they? I had to cut an remount one of the lances onto an opposite assembly from a different arm; lucky for me the upper arm bits were identical. I thought about using Gauss Lances for all my Lictor-based creatures, but decided to give the others the Cryx mecha-talons. After all, Deathleaper's a special girl.

The rending claw arms do have full-length upper arms, they're just bent at a right angle. Most of the metal bits are back over the base's center of gravity, lending the model extra stability. I wanted her forward in an aggressive pose anyway; the GW Deathleaper is just sitting on his haunches and waving at you, which isn't very threatening for something that's supposed to be a horrible assassin-monster. He also isn't leaping, and she is. Take that, GW model-designers.

You perv. You can't stop looking at her ass, can you? The Alien Queen leg bits had these ridge-plates on the outside that, when moved to the inside and welded together via green stuff, made a perfect lower body/hips to go with the Necron Destroyer torso. I had to mold an abdomen plate with green stuff, and reinforced the knees with brass and green stuff as well to  make them even more structural. I toyed with idea of giving her breasts as well, to reinforce the femininity of the model,  but the result would have just looked too silly. 

The photos suggested a turntable anyway, so I thought I'd make a composite. Mass production Necrolictors will probably use recut 'Nid Warrior legs and Warmachine mecha-scythes, but 'Nid Warrior bodies are a little too heavy-duty looking. I might go with a composite of Destroyer upper bodies instead, but time will tell. For now, there are the Harpies to work on, and Tyrannos and Tervies to design and resolve. 

Monday, March 8, 2010


Sort of a side post this week , to fill in the time while I work on the Harpies some more, among other things.

Some time ago, back in the heady days when there was still a FASA (sort of?), the Crimson Skies board game and metal miniatures came out (at the time, my gaming group and I played the hell out of it; it's great fun) Given what was available, I embarked on a side project to re-create some of the airships from the Final Fantasy games. Mind you, this was years ago and I'm a better modeler now by magnitudes. Anyway, instead of presenting them in the order in which they were made, here they are in order of the games:

Setzer Gabbiani's Blackjack from Final Fantasy VI. The PS1 version had beautiful trailer and all new (at the time) cg cutscenes, not to mention a gallery of stills for me to ogle while I worked on the model. That's a Reaver torso in there, along with jets from some old metal jump packs. I couldn't find a sailing ship hull that small, so an epic Ork Fighta worked nicely.

Those rather baroque tails are old thin hex bases from Aerotech fighters (which fetched an alarmingly high price on ebay). I liked the Blackjack much more than the airship you exchange it for halfway through the game, which looked like just a blimp with jet engines.

The High Wind from Final Fantasy VII. Still my favorite ship from all the games so far. Hey wait a sec-- something looks odd about her tail section...

Why, those elevators are monstrous! What happened to the overly complex series of rudders and flaps? Well, if you'll recall, it looked like this:

Each nacelle had a lower set of four rudders and three elevators; a veritable grille. Although I'd be up to the challenge now, I don't want to break up a venerable miniature. At the time I must've just said "to hell with this" and gone with the whale-tail. That propellor shaft needs to be longer too, but oh well. It looks nice on the shelf. 

Final Fantasy VIII's Ragnarok. At the time, I was hard-pressed to find decent reference material (and that red is too much on the orange side...) . The original artwork makes it look shockingly complex, until you realize it's just a mecha dragon with a bloody big cannon on it:

Given what was available, I think I did a decent job, although again now I'd do certain parts entirely differently. The cannon is an old metal bright lance I somehow came by back in late '80's/early '90's. A guy at the (now closed) Fairfax GW store just GAVE me a huge handful of metal bits. Man, but those were the days. Of all of these models, the Ragnarok bulks the largest.

Another comparison shot for you. Finding the parts to replicate this thing was an ordeal. If they hadn't put out a series of fish-like tanks for an obscure Babylon-5 based ground combat  game (it had a lifespan of 5 minutes) then the model probably wouldn't even have been possible.

The Hildegarde III from Final Fantasy IX. Thankfully, crazy-ass designers took a turn for the delightfully steampunk. Some people hated that game, but it hit the right spot for me on a lot of levels. If I could've gotten some stills of the summoned convertible airship Ark, I would've made that thing, too. Once I got the summon, I used it almost exclusively; it was cool as hell. 

The boat hull and steamship paddle wheels came from an obscure mini I found at the local gaming store. Looking back there was a lot of detail on the original that I just glossed past. I must've been working on some kind of "good enough" mentality back then. 

That's the last one. The airships for FF-X and so on were so outlandish and unnecessarily complicated it would've been impossible to make them without significant amounts of green stuff and a lot of patience. I'm not even going to go into that bizarre thing from X-2 and its weird arm/wheel nacelles. Jeezus.

Speaking of Crimson Skies, I can do a post of the airplane minis some time. They're great designs and were a lot of fun to paint and use in the wargame. I didn't do the full range, though they're still readily available. I'm guessing the video game kind of eclipsed the hex-based boardgame, which is sad, really. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

More Tyracron WIP....

Some successful eBay auctions gave me the funds to buy bits for this beast. (a pair of them in fact, as sharp eyes will discern from lifeless husk in the background)  Since Necrons use ghostly Vampire Counts-y names, I thought of calling it a Banshee instead of a Harpy, but that'd just confuse people even more

Yes, those are Eldar cannonry bits. Just go with it for now. 

Happy Saturday, people. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vampire Skaven Part 3: The Doomtrain

Now that we're past the footsloggers, here's my favorite model in the entire army, if not my Warhammer Fantasy collection. The Doomtrain came about in those heady days when you could just order bitz willy-nilly from Games Workshop. The Storm of Chaos had just come out (yes, I've had it that long) and with it, the lovely Hellcannon kit in all its awful glory. About the same time I was painting dwarves for my friend Brian, and he paid me in trade with an Imperial Steam Tank (yes, the old-school metal model). A Hellcannon and a few bits orders later, and this monster came about.

This is another one of those cases of a model practically building itself. The Hellcannon and Steam Tank parts went together like they were made for each other, and the Screaming Bell bits followed shortly thereafter. The thing was an absolute joy to build and paint, to boot, from the little furnace full of soul-fire in the back to the wight-skaven drivers. It's also too long for even a chariot base, so damned if I know how I'll ever use it in battle.

The little stools of the Warp-Lightning Cannon's engineer minders actually fit right into the little peg-hole in this steam tank deck piece. I particularly love the little gauges and dials, which fit the skaven to T. 

The huge jaw piece for the Hellcannon still sits in my bits box, but the bigass skull piece needed minimal embellishment before fitting to the Steam Tank hull-turned-cowcatcher. I fitted skaven icons over the Empire shield mountings, and the warpstone reactors just fit the model perfectly. The end-bits even run into the grooves on the massive cog-wheels. 

The warlock-engineer hanging off the little platform to the side was an afterthought, as were the chains streaming off of the smokestack on the front. Of course, since this thing is powered by the souls the machine sucks out of the living, what's the stack for? I don't even think the steersman can see over it, anyway. If I could come up with a base to fit it, I might even enter it in a Games Day mini competition. I'd have to come up with track bits that would even hold it up, but it weighs a ton, so stability is ensured. If I did enter it, I'd also want to make a tender for it, if not some other, equally interesting car. 

Here's a shot from the other side. No crewman here, owing to the theory that odd numbers and asymmetry are more interesting. Those warpstone reactors look cool any way you turn them, so no problems with symmetry here, either. I thought of fielding it using Black Coach rules, but it looks even more durable than one of those, if not more deadly to the surrounding troops. 

This is a beauty shot, not an actual battlefield pic. If it were, the thing would steamroll right over that poor rat swarm in the front. Next time, we polish off the army showcase with cavalry. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cloning Tanks Part 3: The Proxy.

Part of the the fun of 40k is is making and fielding army lists, as we all know, but sometimes you just don't have that amount of models in your collection. Who keeps four Hydras anyway? What about when you want to field that many Hellhounds instead? Well, my answer for this has always been the Proxy Tank. This little fellow was my first:

A simple M8 mortar tank model, gifted me by a friend (he was moving and giving piles of stuff away) I fitted him with Sentinel multi-laser and painted him up in my Skitarii regimental armor colors (we're from a mountainous planet, hence the rocky camo). This little fellow stood in as my first Leman Russ for a while, until I found a LR kit cheap on eBay.

As you can see, they're nearly the same size. This little tank as also doubled as a Hellhound, a Chimera, and Demolisher, bless him. I was tempted to modify it with sponsons, but that would've pushed the model too far in one direction. The proper Proxy is an amorphous thing that could be one model or another, because it reads as both. If you're playing against good natured folks they'll give you the benefit of the doubt. Now this guy:

He's a sure departure from the norm, but he fits the theme of a Mechanicus force, which you'd expect to have weird war machines. I came up with him after seeing these things:

(image is copyright: Lucasfilm, used without permission) 
The Star Wars prequels suck ass, but honestly the Clone Wars TV show has to be the best thing to happen to the franchise since Return of the Jedi left theaters in the '80s. I loved the look of this bug-eyed artillery droid,a nd had been wanting to mess around with the Defiler chassis for some time. So, a few hatches and headlights later, you have Mr. Crabby:

Not exactly an accurate port. I probably could have mimiced that armor carapace using the Aegis Defense Line barricade set, but I also wanted to use the Defiler torso as a turret to tie him visually to my Leman Russ clones. The cannon barrel is from the Manufactorum sprue. I cut plastic card into cog shapes for the armor plating, thickening the leg shields and bulking the model out satisfyingly. Since he's supposed to stand in for a tank and not stride into hand-to-hand combat, I elected not to order the set of Defiler claws. I struggled for a while with the idea of replacing those foot claws with tread units running up the lower leg, but treads would buck the idea of having legs in the first place.

The turret is also magnetized (he's getting a Hydra turret soon)  and I kept the legs unglued because A) I like posability (though it's bitten me in the ass, as is the case with my posable Warhound) and B) transportability. Mr. Crabby disassembles extra-small, and fits into a cubby hole designed for a Sentinel model on my Vendetta's foam tray. He measures up quite well with Leman Russ models, too (although he's a bit taller):

That list down the foreleg is a list of campaigns and worlds. It's a nice little element that also adorns the hull of my proxy superheavy and a couple of Dreadnought. The superheavy is an old Sherman toy I resurrected and fitted with a massive Zoids Gojulas cannon:

That scroll under the eagle on the hull says "Ordinatis Minoris". I used it once in a friendly game as a Basilisk, but honestly the model is so much larger than a Chimera chassis, that it was just better for all concerned for me to make those clone Basilisks featured a few articles ago. I don't see that gun being anything lighter than a Titan's Volcano cannon. The thing is just too damn big.

Nonetheless the size of the model allowed me to do some cool things, like that little shrine inside the back compartment. I thought about making a roof to enclose the gunnery section, but the tank is as tall as a three-story building (apologies for not having an infantry model for scale) and realistically, an AP round is going to bore its way right through those slab sides anyway. I need to make a template for Mechanicus symbols; hand-painting them is a disaster. The half-cogs for my standard tank insignia come off well enough, but that one on the side of the SPG took forever to fine-tune and correct. If I ever make another one, I'll probably just use more Manufactorum panels.