Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bring on the Big Boys: The Heresy-Era Thanatar Siege Automata

So, time to put on our Jeremy Clarkson hat and take a look at the FW Thanatar. Though fiddly, this model, when you finally manage to get it together, is a great piece. I only wish it were hollow plastic, because it begs to have LED light stuffed into it to illuminate the plasma mortar. 

Look at that thing. How is it this came from basically the same place as those revolting robots they put out for the CultMech books? There's some real artistic schizophrenia going on over there.

If the Mechanicum are such tech-hoarders and so reverent about their machines, then a great deal of these and other automata should have feasibly survived the heresy era. Sure half of them went to Horus, but for pete's sake, half didn't. Also, if the AdMech do anything, it's stuff things in vaults. Where'd all those crab tanks and walker cavalry units come from? They weren't stuffed in turkeys, you know. 

Or maybe they were. Who knows how big turkeys got at the height of the Imperium. 

Three things about it are shit, however. The first is FW's insistence on "heat and twist" ammo belts. They're awful. They never bend and flex properly. If someone over there had half a brain they'd cast the belts in pewter so you bend and shape the hell out of them, or better yet, make them actual plastic belt-link chain feeds, like these. Note the price of those kits, by the way.

In retrospect, I went a little overboard on the source lighting.
The second thing is the Hellex plasma mortar support mechanism. This flimsy bit of resin just does not have the strength to support this immense block of resin, and quite honestly, needs a set of hydraulics to elevate and  stabilize the thing. Sorry, FW designers, but you need to step it up and stop phoning it in like this. It's the details that make your models and stuff like this just won't do. 

Yes, there were wee pistons that go dead on the backs of the legs.
Yes, I left them off, because I lost one, and frankly, he looks just fine anyway. 
Third, the unnecessarily complicated hips. Why are they jointed in the middle instead of the more dynamic and more sensible ball joint? Quite honestly, posing has been FW (and GW's) biggest problem as they don't seem have a grasp on the basics of composition and dynamic form at all. Never mind the over-produced look everything has been getting on the GW side nowadays. Have you seen the Terminator Captain and Librarian? They're utter shit. Boring, under-detailed models in boring poses. The previous models were ten times better. Who quit or was fired from their models department? 

The base is from Secret Weapon Miniatures, and has this dreadful rut on one side. I was obliged to fill it with sprue to give the model more contact area and stability. SWM is really stepping up their game nowadays, and giving the Dragon Forge stuff a run for its money. This didn't stop me from investing in their kickstarted, though, and you should too. Especially if you have a machine-y army like, say, Admech or Iron Warriors. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Assassin's Creed: 40k Ed Part 2: the Bad and the Ugly....

Honestly, I'll probably never have a Chaos army, as much as I like the pre-Heresy Death Guard and some of the models, like the Forgefiend, so this is pretty much as close as we're going to get to anything like Chaos, ever. Also, the fluff text talks about the boss as a sorcerer, so I decided to go Thousand Sons with these guys because I didn't see Khorne worshippers staying calm long enough to get any serious sorcery accomplished. With that detail out of the way, the entire adversary war band just sort of fell into place. 

That said, working on these was a treat, especially Zehket-Ka the Inscrutably (and some might say unnecessarily) Obtuse. Word to the wise: never ask this guy for directions to the can. As I was futzing with the parts to assemble him, I almost said "fuck it" and made a better Abaddon, but the lure of the Changer of Ways is strong. 

How is he supposed to go plundering space hulks and outlet malls with that wildly impractical helmet? Only Tzeentch knows. Maybe all the little eyeballs adorning his armor give him 360 degree sight, or he has magic rearview mirrors or something. 

I'm very satisfied with the way his blue crystal Chaos spike came out. I suppose it's a hellish torture to inflict on your followers to make their chiefs be perpetually climbing slightly uphill. I imagine they all have calf muscles like steam pistons. 

Instead of using the stock Chaos familiar from the box set (man, how boring is that little robed guy compared to the old models from the RT days?) I opted instead to use this rather sinister cat mascot from the Raging Heroes Toughest Girls of the Galaxy Kickstarter. He's covered in weird jewelry, and suitably Egyptian enough to be little Tzeentch fiend. 

A big thanks to the prolific Joel of Mordian 7th fame for the Thousand Sons bits that adorn Aknot, Akenet, and Aknehmet. While the catastrophe mentioned last post killed their sapphire paint jobs a bit, I think they held up rather well. They still need to some shoulder iconography, though. When I have time, I suppose. 

GW could have hit one out of the park by making this game more modular (like Space Hulk) and introducing more missions, and more of a weird mix, but they didn't. I guess they felt like they were floating a trial balloon, or that it wasn't worth the effort to begin with, or something, but despite that the art direction is very good and everything is generally very well-produced. The whole business is a bit confusing. Maybe they plan to expand with an Inquisition tack, or something? A series of games along the lines of a campaign might be a great way to revive, say, Necromunda. 

Or do they think that far? I wish we knew. Anyway, more models.

As cultists go, the Order of the Azure Shroud is your run of the mill bunch of fanatics who don't see sunlight very often, and just watch The Mummy and the first half of The Ten Commandments in their basements non-stop. I imagined climbing the hierarchy in the cult meant wearing more blue as you went on, and picking up more things like gold masks and shrouds. In more practical terms, this meant introducing variation so I didn't get bored. 

These guys turned out to be a treat, particularly the chief cultist with his flaming head. Tzeentch is pretty much the king of dubious boons. Hey! Your head's a plume of blue fire now! Here's a kickin' rad hat! Thanks for worshipping!

I feel I didn't do the crow guys proper justice. I wish I'd been able to find some kind of wide-brimmed hats to make them look more plague doctor-ish, but oh well. I did try to make the one on the far left look more chaos-y by giving him a glowy mutant eye under that mask. 

I wish they had conical cultist hoods like the Mordheim ones. These hooded guys are actually kinda boring. 

And, of course the gimps. Under those masks are three perfectly normal guys who thought this was a cosplay club, and now they just want to go home because there are no girls. 

Happy Friday, gang. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Assassin's Creed: 40k ed., Part 1

So there's a new combi-pack of a score or so 40k miniatures that happens to include a simple-to-play side game. It costs too much, the art direction is excellent, and at the end of the day you get a bunch of decent minis, two of which can't get the life-saving cover saves they need to... save their lives. But that's okay, because you also get a really beautiful non-modular board you can use to play one mission. 

Anyway, the miniatures. 

I don't know why I like this banana hatted bag of hammers so much, I just do. Maybe it's that confusion of tubes that sits so improbably atop his neck, maybe it's that you can surround him with a bunch of Librarians and inflate his head-gun's assault value through the roof.

The problem with assassins is that once they appear, everyone wants to shoot them to the exclusion of all else, and rightly so. The further problem with the minis in this set is that the ones that really need to get cover saves are meticulously designed so as not to get said saves. "But", you say, "They get a 4+ invulnerable save!" 

Bollocks. 4+ never saves the common Guardsman, and it won't save these chaps either. 

I do like the way they give him a bit to leap off of, though, and it's such a good idea that I went against common sense and used this instead of mounting him straight to a base. 

I wish Vindicare had been aiming instead of skulking, but it's still decent, solid figure, and unlike the stupidity of the Eversor and Callidus' designs, didn't have any fiddly bits that connected at the wrist, or lower torso that separated at the ass. That little shrine in the ruin is a nice touch. 

This thing is a straight-up nightmare of a design. The contact point for the foot is insanely small. The long braid is separate from the head, the ass is inexplicably in two pieces, the boobs separate from the chest, the hands a separate at the wrists... it's as though they expected you to store it on the shelf, never transport it, and never even use it except occasionally as a conversation piece. In short, it's the most fragile, badly designed thing ever. To boot, they give you a high thin plinth to secure her to, apparently with equal parts luck and prayer. At least the neck isn't a separate microscopic piece as with the Necron ark driver, but I'm sure they fully tried to make it be. 

So, I took my smallest drill, and put in paper clips to reinforce what I could. Also, I mounted her to a spare resin base that would potentially give her a cover save if I chanced to move behind something shorter than, say, an Imperial Knight. If ever there was a reason to march into GW HQ and ask them what the shit they were thinking, it's this thing. Yes, it's probably their best female mini to date (in that it actually looks vaguely feminine) but good God is it ever built not to stay in one piece. One of the precariously small fiddly plastic cables leading from her neural shredder to her backpack even snapped as I was painting her. As you can see, we did not replace that unnecessary bit; they could've run power contacts along the lines of her suit as they did the other three models, but noooOOooo. 

Now the paint. You'll notice they look a bit splotchy. They didn't before I spray-finished them. Prior to that they were lovely, with meticulously applied directional highlights. 

The horror came when I set them to dry near an air purifier, which sucked every dust mote in the house past them into itself. The result was that they (as well as 3 Thousand Sons Chaos Marines)  dried, matte-clear, with a zillion dust particles stuck to them. 

I know. I was utterly devastated. 

First, I lightly brushed them with a dry brush. 


Then a wet one. 

Still nothing.

Then I got out the lacquer thinner, sighed heavily, and wet a brush to dilute it further. 

The particles came away. 

The paint..... well, you can see what happened. Fine detail=ruined. They are good from afar, but far from good. My only consolation is that the CYA wasn't dissolved, causing them to fall to pieces. Nonetheless, we shan't be doing that again. 

Next time, the bad guys. 

Happy Wednesday, people. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bang Bang.....

Just some gun servitors today, courtesy of the Raging Heroes Toughest Girls of the Galaxy Kickstarter. The only real mod to these was to the one in the center, who was wearing a fright mask that made her look more Chaos-y than I would've liked. So, I added a respirator tube to her mask. The TGG minis are very nice and highly detailed (almost too highly for my old eyes). I really do recommend them. They even have an amazing female Magos scheduled, and she can't get to my door soon enough.

You never read about female servitors in any of the 40k books, and for their part, these look almost a bit too ghoulish. I wonder if their were convicts, or if some tech priest just couldn't let go of his exes...