Monday, 27 May 2013

Dark Angels Darkshroud Landspeeder

This morning I managed to finish a model I've had in the works for a while - a Darkshroud Landspeeder for my small Ravenwing army.

It's an interesting model, if a little weird... The flying statue aesthetic is certainly something I haven't tried before! I decided to build the Darkshroud over the Vengeance Landspeeder, because this model is more interesting and the Vengeance could theoretically blow itself up every time it fires under 6th editio rules! (Seriously, GW, that vehicle is way overcosted!!!)

Here's a close-up of the stained glass windows, which I painted with a white undercoat and then used a blue wash. The metal elements were then blocked out in black, then painted in Leadbelcher.

Anther view of the speeder, showing the new-style Ravenwing icon on the flank...

And here is the offending statue itself! Quite nicely detailed, although I'd fear that the sword will break off. I did think about doing it a "ghostly" green and grey colour, but eventually went with solid colours (the green would have been a bit too pale for the solid blacks elsewhere on the model).

Here is a final shot of the engines; I used MIG weathering pigments on all of the engine components, to stimulate general heat damage. Other than that, I was quite light on weathering - most of my Ravenwing vehicles are only lightly damaged, to suggest that the Dark Angels - pious even by Marine standards! - have kept extra special care of their war gear.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Second Hive Guard Brood finished

I managed to finish the second Hive Guard brood for my client last night. To add some variety, this time I mixed up the scheme a little. The patterning is different, and also I added some additional freckling to the tails and shoulders.

Some close-ups of the individual models:

Then some shots of the carapaces - each has an individual pattern on the back.

So what's left to do? Only a spore pod (not yet delivered), 16 gants and the flyrant... I've been saving the flyrant as a painting goal, but I think I'll do that next...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ideas for 28mm Starship Troopers Mobile Infantry

I recently reread Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Alongside Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, this has to be a seminal novel featuring troopers in power armour. The vision of a mechanised, armoured and highly-skilled military elite has featured in many books and movies since, but Heinlein’s view of the mobilised trooper really started this idea.

When you consider the level of detail Heinlein gave in Troopers, though, you’re left with scant little hard detail as to physical appearance…

“Our suits give us better eyes, better ears, stronger backs (to carry heavier weapons and more ammo), better legs, more intelligence (in the military meaning...), more firepower, greater endurance, less vulnerability. A suit isn't a space suit - although it can serve as one. It is not primarily armor - although the Knights of the Round Table were not armored as well as we are. It isn't a tank - but a single M.I. private could take on a squadron of those things and knock them off unassisted...
Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla, armed with gorilla-sized weapons.” (Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein 1959)

We also know that power armour comes in (at least) three varieties – the Marauder suit, the Scout suit and the Command suit.

So, spurned on by a re-read of one of my favourite books, I decided to take a look at my vision of the Mobile Infantry “fighting suit” and here is a run-down of some of my preferences. 

1. Antenociti’s Workshop: Komodo Personal Assault Suit @ £15.99

This model has to be my favourite. The chunky style seems to suit Starship Troopers just right, and the model comes with a variety of weapon options as well. The example above shows how it paints up well too; I hear that Antenociti’s great customer service, and intend to buy one of these quite soon. The model certainly gives the impression that 3 of them, in a wide dispersion, could take on a veritable army of Bugs… Cast in metal, and I’ve seen forum posts indicating that an open hatch version will be sculpted soon.

2. Blackball Games: American Buffalo @ $13.99

Another contender for “best Starship Troopers stand-in figure”, the Buffalo screams US military and again seems to reflect the aesthetics of the book. That large open casket-type body gives a nice opportunity for weathering or decals. From the photos, I'm not sure whether this figure has a jetpack, but the backpack area certainly seems bulky enough to accommodate one. 

Again, it paints up well and also looks nicely convertible if you wanted to add different weapons (the book is certainly a little loose with availability of particular weapons, and suggested different load-outs became available). Cast in metal, no open hatch version available to my knowledge.

3. Sedition Wars: THI Mattock @ £21.99

This is a slightly bulkier version of powered armour, and looks more like a close combat variant or power loader-type model (I’m not familiar with the Sedition Wars game!). It could even be used as an "engineers" variant I guess.  

I am slightly put off by the lack of a jetpack or propulsion system on the back, which to remain true to the MI would be required. Cast in metal, and I’ve heard many good things about the level of detail on this model. A nice feature is the option to build the model with an open hatch, revealing the pilot.

4. Sedition Wars: THI Maul @ £21.99

Another Sedition Wars model, this time with heavier weapon mounts (but again no jetpack). As with the Mattock, you have the option of building the suit with an open hatch.

5. Mongoose Publishing: Starship Troopers Exosuits OOP
I’ve rolled these two options into one entry, because they are sadly no longer available! The only official choice, the Starship Troopers range by Mongoose was the only licensed miniatures game within Heinlein’s universe. The models were mostly based on the film and movies, but these two were original entries created to reflect the book’s vision. There were two types available – the Grizzly and Cougar – and both came with a variety of weapon options. The underarm mounts again gave lots of opportunity for conversion, and the two types gave some latitude for designating particular models Command or Scout versions.

As an aside, although no longer available as Troopers models, the Grizzly suit is now available from Mongoose rebranded as a “Holocaust Judge” in the Judge Dredd range (priced £9.99)...

6. Westwind Miniatures: Secrets of the Third Reich Wolverine @ £15.00

Westwind Miniatures have a large range of weird and wonderful World War II-type mechs and walkers, and two models that particularly caught my eye as appropriate were the Wolverine and Sarge. These look very nice models, and having ordered from Westwind in the past I’ve found them to be a reliable company.

Should your personal vision of the MI involve larger walkers, then again Westwind has a nice range of bigger vehicles that could fit the role.

7. Westwind Miniatures: Secrets of the Third Reich Codename Sarge @ £15.75

This is another Westwind creation, and I couldn't see the scale from pictures I found on the website but it looks a little bigger than some of the other miniatures considered here. It has no jetpack, but the hunched posture seems to fit Rico's description of a steel gorilla. The arms would probably need some conversion work to make them really fit Troopers.

8. Khurasan Miniatures: Terran Strike Infantry @ $20 (for 5)

I really like so many 15mm models on the Khurasan website, but often forget that they also have a growing range of 28mm scale figures. The Terran Strike Infantry seem to be created as opponents for the similarly-scaled Arachnids available from the website.

I really like these figures, and the hard, clean lines and retro-styling really reflect the look and feel of the MI in my view. They come with a variety of options and also leg variants, and the price can’t be argued with (these are the cheapest in this list). The design-decision on the models was apparently to keep them clean, with lots of open areas to allow of extras to be glued on as required. Cast in metal.

9. Copplestone Castings Power Armour Troopers @ £8.50 (for 2)

Copplestone Castings makes some awesome and very characterful futuristic, historic and fantasy miniatures, and their power armour troopers are a welcome addition to the range. These appear to be single-piece castings, and as with the Khurasan offering the style is very in-keeping with Starship Troopers. The posing is a little too static for my liking, though, although they might mix with the Terran Strike Infantry for a bit more choice. Cast in metal.

10. Games Workshop Tau battlesuits (price varies)

This last entry covers several power armour-type entries, available mostly in plastic from Games Workshop. Isn’t it ironic that the sometimes the best “human” models are actually from the alien ranges?

The Tau range includes the Crisis, Broadside and new Enforcer battlesuits, but my pick from the range would have to be the Stealth suits. The major advantage of these models is their medium; being plastic, they are easy to convert – and being GW, their availability is high. The feet would likely need some work (Tau have hoof-type feet), and the look is a but too high-tech for me but with some converting they might be suitable. 

The GW range of course includes lots of other iconic “power armour” type figures, such as Space Marines (both in standard power armour and Terminator armour), but these too far too Gothic for the Troopers style.  

So, that's my rundown of possible Starship Troopers stand-ins.

Have I missed any miniatures that you think would do the job? Drop me a comment below and I'll add them to the list if so.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Raging Heroes: Kapitan Ivanka Kurganova

This is a small side-commission that I was asked to do at short notice, but it's from a nice model line that I've wanted to paint for a while.

Despite the somewhat comedic name, Ivanka is a very detailed model. The styling is very 40k, although note the dimensions and proportions are not quite: the model line is quite slight, but with ludicrous-sized weapons. The sword is a case in point - but the figure does come with an alternative weapon which is a bit more realistic.

She also comes with a nice gas mask face - this piece could actually be used in a Steel Legion or Death Korp of Krieg army, where her height and proportions would probably be a bit more in-keeping with the rest of the army.

Here's a close-up of the detail on the model. I chose to paint a lightning effect on the sword, and finished that with a layer of gloss varnish. This protects the blade (which might chip easily) as well as making the blade look more dangerous!

The model wears a nicely detailed coat as well, with a heraldic icon the the back. There are still a couple of things I need to do to finish this, actually; I only seem to notice errors after a take photos...!

This piece would make an ideal commissar or perhaps an officer in the right Imperial Guard army!

I'd definitely buy more Raging Heroes miniatures, and look forward to their Kickstarter.

Finished FW Malanthrope

Today I managed to photograph my latest Tyranid creation: a FW Malanthrope.

This is a really nice model, that has a clear parentage line to the Venomthrope, but the maw also harkens back to the alternative Genestealer heads. I of course continued the patterning on the carapace to match the rest of my client's army, and I think that it worked out nicely.

These photos don't really show the head in that much detail, but the mouth feeder-tendrils are in fact much pinker than they appear here - I wanted to differentiate them from the rest of the skin tone.

Note the freckling on the spore chimneys - I chose to do this because the arms are so small, there was little other opportunity to get that detail in!

As it's a FW model, the chimneys also have some nice interior detailing, which I picked out in flesh tones.

The base is painted to differentiate the urban ruins from the encroaching Tyranid bio-carpet (is that even a word!?!). I also added some gloss varnish to the mouth, and to the egg sacs on the base.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

More Ravenwing bikers

A break in painting Tyranids allowed me to get another two Dark Vengeance Ravenwing bikers finished today...

This leaves me with the following to paint:

Dark Shroud Landspeeder
Typhoon Landspeeders (x2)
Attack bike (x2)
Bikers (x4)

.... so, the end is in sight!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Finished Tyranid Hive Guard

After a frenzied evening of painting, I've finished the first Hive Guard unit!

Some individual shots below - because these are Finecast and only available in one pose, I decided to use different patterning on each to distinguish them.

I tried to make these models a bridge between the larger monstrous creatures (which have fully patterned carapaces) and the smaller foot troops (which have pure blue carapaces). These guys, being between the two, have small carapace areas in blue but heads and backs with patterns. I think that the approach has worked out quite well.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Finished Tyranid Carnifexes

Today I managed to photograph the next two monstrous creatures for the Tyranid project...

Firstly, a Carnifex with two twin-linked devourers...

Note the patterning on the carapace - the Carnifexes have large shell areas ideal for this sort of brushwork!

The first 'fex also had a tail modification, to help distinguish it from the second. Note the freckling on the tail as well; again, lots of empty areas are ideal for this extra work.

Secondly, the (almost finished) "gunslinger" 'fex...

My client decided to go with a different head, to again add variety. This guy reminds me of The Tick, with those big antennae!

I continued the patterning down the back of this model, and also onto the tail.

I'm still trying to source another pair of devourers, which are proving very hard to get hold of. I keep scouring the bits sites, but so far no luck. Ah well, I'll keep searching.

I've also started cleaning up the Malanthrope, as you can see below

Some more work to do on a brood of Hive Guard first though, and the Malanthrope will be a nice break from doing those. The end of the project is in sight now though, and I only have a few models to complete - mostly, I've saved the more interesting painting jobs until last (such as the Flyrant).

Friday, 3 May 2013

On the workbench: Carnifexes and Black Dragons

I've started work on the next two monstrous creatures for the Tyranid project - ranged-weapon carnifexes...

These bad boys will be armed with twin-linked devourers - proper dakka fees - and the parts are assembled beside them. I experimented with different patterning techniques on these guys, and I think that it turned out pretty good. 

Just for a side project, I've also starting assembling a squad of Black Dragons Space Marines (see my review on the excellent Death of Antagonis). 

I highly doubt that I will ever do a full army of these, but they were good fun to assemble - I've used a variety of heads, spikes form various WFB kits, and shoulder pads from Chapterhouse. I just need to find some jump-packs and some time to finish them!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

An old classic: FW Cadian Medusa

Little progress for painting this week, but I was looking through some of my older tank models and this one is still a favourite of mine...

The FW Medusa is an excellent ingame choice, but more importantly the model is great. Whilst a pain to put together (there are large resin components that don't sit well with the plastic chassis!), the end result is a nice pseudo-real-world tank. I really like this Armageddon version, which comes with a enclosed crew compartment.

I used basic sponge weathering to dab on paint chips and these were then highlighted by hand. The lower track sections were weathered with MIG weathering powders.

The paint scheme was Cadian because at the time I was considering doing a Cadian army. Whilst I bought a few units, the idea never took off. However, since then I've painted up a few Cadian Guard tanks - they work well as "auxiliaries" for most Guard armies.