Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mecha Month: Interrupted for Breaking News

(image is copyright Games Workshop, used without permission)

What happens when I take too long to pump out  a model? Somebody does it for me. 

This ungainly monster is close to what's sitting in my "to-do" bin for my other Tyracron Hive Tyrant. He's severely lacking in Necron parts, sure, but man, is that ever close to what I had envisioned for Ultima Weapon. 

Well, minus the giant cannon. And the utter lack of mechanical parts. 

Then there's this from Privateer Press:

"Booga booga booga!"

Okay, those arms are a little ridiculous. I'm sure the thing is going to cost a mint, too. Good luck pushing that stuff, PP.  Remember their giant freaking cannon and electrical power station kits? How many of those did you see on clearance? I saw quite a few. 

Hopefully, I can show some Rik-Doms Jovian Chronicles stuff before the week ends and Mecha Month is up. These were sort of mecha, but sort of not, sooo....

Anyhoo, happy Wednesday, people. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mecha Month: Gundam, the Bad and the Ugly.

Back into the Hall of Ancient Miniatures we go....

So in the late '90's, Jovian Chronicles surfaced, concocted by the Canadian game company Dream Pod 9 as their answer to Mekton and Battletech. Being rabid Gundam fans, their designs (and source material) borrowed heavily from that series, much as Heavy Gear did from Armored Trooper Votoms. Like the starting generation of their Heavy Gear line, the first crop of JC miniatures were larger, and the quality control of the miniatures producer RaFM left much to be desired (lots of blisters with missing parts). Nevertheless, they were very nice sculpts, one of which formed the basis for the GP02 Physalis conversion seen above. There are also a huge amount of parts from RaFM's old Mekton line (remember R. Talsorian Games? Makers of Cyberpunk? Ah, good times, good times...)

As you can see, this was at the height of my airbrush period. Shortly after this my compressor conked out and I slowly migrated over to an all-brush production (also, airbrushes are a bitch to clean, which you have to do with every color change). I suppose I could've modeled the GP02 with his shield-binders open in flight mode, but this works just as well. His head is actually comprised of two heads; that of a Wyvern and a Pathfinder. I think it was partially because I bought a Wyvern blister that had arms, legs, and head, but no body. 

The enormous Xamel was a design so in need of custom parts that my approximation, bits hog that it was, scarce does the original any justice. Nowadays I'd be better about sticking to the original design, instead of improvising a huge gatling rifle and legs that are for walking instead of just supporting the enormous artillery piece. At the time I also used it as a Battletech Atlas mech, even though A) it has heavier armaments by far, and B) I owned 2 other actual Atlas models. 

That monster cannon is from a Micro Armor artillery piece kit, built out with other bits. I still love this mini, despite its shortcomings. The legs are made of old Dreadnought legs, Grey Knight torsos, Rifleman arms, Shadow Hawk Backpacks, and Omnimech missile pods. Oh, and Archer legs. The shoulders? Those are Cicadas. Yes, I'm a conversion maniac.

The skirt is made of not one, but two flying basis  and part of a bottle cap. Insane, no?

I started out trying to build my own Sazabi, but went off the deep end a bit. There was a larger version of Char Aznable's Sazabi arch-villain mobile suit called the Mockingbird, which basically sported longer skirts, more remote bit units, etc, which this thing resembles more. Sharp eyes will notice three aerospace fighters and a Marauder in there. 

With the array of thrusters this thing has, it must be fast as hell. Of course, Gundam routinely jumps the line between realistic physics and "Star Wars" physics, so who knows? I really should dust my miniatures shelf more. Look at all that dust on the rear armor! 

Of course, he's fallen and been rebuilt a half a dozen times, which is why he's all chipped to hell. He's held up well overall, especially considering there are dozens of tiny parts in there with utterly no pinning. 

Aw, the lowly Zaku. I really wish there had been an outfit like Dragon Forge back then; I could've used the cables to make this him a bit more true to form. Those skinny legs are disappointing though; I really didn't have anything better at the time. I dig that spiked shoulder pad and drum-fed machine gun. If the head looks a little weird, it's because the top half is an actual Nazi helmet; another failed experiment. 

At one time I must have been really flush with Shadowhawk backpacks, because I used them for absolutely everything. Anybody been keeping count so far? They've been all over the mecha from these two posts. 

Next time, some sexy powered armor....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mecha Month: Gundam, the Good

I really need to get the jump on these posts; 2 entries does not a Mecha Month make. 

Anyway, back in the heady days of the early to mid '90's, Gundam went through sort of a renaissance in Japan, and we got series like Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Gundam F91, and Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory. Battletech miniatures were also plentiful then, and I was doing a lot of converting,  which led to the creation of mecha like our friend there. At the time, I was also entering my airbrush period, which meant a lot of experimenting with tones and setting. In short, this is why the mini looks like butt, but it's an early work, and unlike some others, I haven't the heart (or time) to strip it and start anew. 

Basically, he's a an old Shadow Hawk mini with a Commando head and shoulder armor made from a set of Silent Death fighters. I can't remember why those pads seemed like a good idea instead of square ones, but oh well. Sharp eyes will notice some GW parts in there too, namely the older SM jump pack (a nod to to the GP01 Zephyranthes) and Reaver shoulder pads fused together to make the shield. I should've put the beam sabres on top of the backpack instead of the bottom, but I think at the time it made more sense for the machine to reach back and draw his sabre underhand, rather than rotating those enormous shoulders around. 

The Gundam Sentinel series was a book-only story (with model tie-ins by Bandai, of course)  set almost entirely in space, and the mobile suits featured therein were hideously over-armed, leading to the inspiration of our friend here, who's obviously not meant to walk anywhere. Being space-based comes with certain advantages, such as being able to carry unreasonably large rifles that have a range, presumably, of thousands of km. I suppose that, coupled with his psycho-frame system (which allows for control of little remote weapons called bits or funnels) makes him a bit of a sniper. 

Hmm, there are also some archive Dreadnought parts in there I could use. I wonder if I could strip those two cap pieces off of there without ruining the model? Ehhh, probably not. As you can tell, bases larger than the BT hex base were a little hard to come by back then, at least for me, and there were no online bits sellers, so getting them was more of a neat trick. 

Lastly, this GM (which stands for Gundam Mass-production). He owes more to Gundam F91's Heavy Gun than he does the standard GM, but either way, the GM's were cannon-fodder, and almost routinely got blown away in large numbers in the series. I'd like to think the heavier armor and over-the-shoulder cannon make him a bit more survivable, but in the Gundam universe something big an devastating almost always comes along to exterminate the rank and file in large numbers. If you're the love interest of the main character, that's usually a death sentence, too. 

Next time, villains. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mecha Month: LED Mirage

I'd always loved the tall, graceful designs of Five Star Stories. Unfortunately, the Mortar Hedds, as they were known, were only in garage kit form for the longest time, and prohibitively expensive (as in, they stood around 3 feet high and cost over $700). So, when I found this mini in a hobby store, around 1993-94, I scooped him up immediately. I'm sure he was part of a series, but I've never, ever, seen any of the others, so this one is a rather rare bird indeed. He's barely taller than a Space Marine. 

The actual backpack and cannon assembly were sold as separate upgrade parts, and the entire thing is a weighty little wad of metal. That piece on the end of the cannon was nearly impossible to attach and fell off all the time. Recently I made use of my smallest drill bit (which, while hair-thin, still barely fit) and pinned the damn thing in place. 

Since the Japanese seem to eschew small miniatures in favor of plastic and resin kits (from what I've seen), that makes finding a model like this (or of any mecha, really) doubly rare. I'd always held out hope for finding a Knight of Gold, but oh well.

As you might've guessed, my computer's back with a new hard drive and logic board gratis from Apple, so now the updates will be coming fast and furious. Unfortunately I had backed up after processing photos a day before it crashed, so the photos of my Talos and DE jetbike/Venom converions are lost. I'll be playing some 40k with that client this weekend, though, so the Dark Poofs may yet return. This month, though, is for walking war machines, so you might not see them for a while anyway ;)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hardware failure...

Seems my faithful MacBook Pro has seen fit to have motherboard issues this week, so it might be a while before the next post. On the one hand, this leaves more time to work on Anubis. So, my gateway to the Internet is an iPhone, which has already resulted on my hitting the wrong button on numerous occasions (sorry James S). Hopefully the techpriests at Apple will have the ole' cogitator up and working soon...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mecha Month Begins: Knight Warden Titan

At long last, the Knight Warden is finished, and  I can clear the decks for other projects (including another artculated ZOE model). Unlike the Warhound before him, he got off to a pretty rough start. That head was totally unlike the one pictured until the last minute, and the hips took about a month to finalize, mostly because the toy it was based on was pre-posed with one leg extended. Also, it was only after everything was glued and set that I realized the carapace armor plates should overlap heading the other way. Oh well.

Like the Warhound before him, he's covered in shields and parchment, most of which would get blown off pretty quickly in pitched combat, but look lovely otherwise. With the head as low-slung as it is, I probably should have used heavy flamers or assault cannons, but given that the face shield came from a Gundam mode, the HB's were somehow appropriate, so I left them on. That right arm has an autocannon, complete with feed mechanism:

As always, feel free to click on the pic to zoom in. At a certain point the thing was just flying together, and I even had a shell magazine from an old tank kit that fit that notch on the arm perfectly. I still need to ink in some saint's names below the angel statues. on the knee guards. That thing peeking out from below the armor, by the way, is a campaign-shield commemorating a joint action with the Blood Angels:

I know, it's more than half-covered by the knee armor. That's what happens when you add detail after the fact. There was this perfectly good circle on the piece I used for the leg armor and nothing to fill it with, so I ended up making it a campaign shield (sensing a theme here?). There's a better one for the Imperial Fists on the other leg:

I wonder if the IF chapter would be insulted that it's under the main Titan Legion campaign badge on the knee armor? Honestly, it was this or some kind of campaign banner, and I still can't get those looking the way I want them to. I was going to hang one off of that rod under the Laser Destroyer barrel, but again, it just didn't look right..

Wardens are supposed to be long-range defense units, so rather than a battle cannon for the left arm (or the rather silly bolter clusters on the Epic model) I equipped him with a Laser Destroyer (featured on the IG equivalent of the German WWII Hetzer). I figured it was a nice anti-vehicle weapon to complement the Apocalypse Launcher on his back . No bulky clip or ammo feed for that arm, although it does have a huge heat exchanger on the back. That left arm is the only thing articulated on the model, by the way. You can also spin the barrels of the Apocalypse Launcher by turning the crank on the back, but that's about it. 

If you're this close and have this view, you're probably in a Reaver or Warlord about to get a face full of everything this guy has to fire. Either way he's too slow skip out of the way of what's coming next, so that pilot's just going to sit unload while his machine slowly trundles away in reverse. 

Hmm, speaking of which, no exhausts for that reactor. Maybe it vents forward, out from under the armor plates? Or maybe the designers implemented a cold fusion reactor, and it doesn't need to vent? To be honestly, I was torn with stemming some big exhausts off the rear, and may yet if I can find the proper parts. I was determined to make this model with what I had-on hand, as I had no cash to buy new parts. Otherwise, I would also have worked out an assembly for a separate pelvis. As it is, that pilot's going to be really uncomfortable whenever this thing moves. Maybe that's the reason for those monster shock absorbers on the back of the head?

In general I think he's a pretty successful build, although there's always room to improve. I need to finish off some detailing and base him before the deadline for the Titan contest. Hopefully, he'll hold up against all of those larger Warlords and such. The other glaring problem here is, of course, the lighting I've been using in the light box. Too many harsh glares, and I've had to compensate not only by using the tungsten setting on the camera, but also with a cooling photo filter in P-shop. When I get a job, and some money, hopefully I can upgrade to one of those photo-tents that Brent was showing on his site a while back.