Friday, 28 February 2014

Imperial Knights: Inbound tomorrow....

Tomorrow is the release of the newest big plastic kit for 40k - the Imperial Knight!

We've gone from this in Epic...

To this in 40k...

So, will you be buying an Imperial Knight? I really like the model but think that the codex is a wasted opportunity to introduce a proper new army... I'll definitely be buying a knight, but not from GW: the discounts on this bad boy are huge at Wayland Games, Darksphere and Total Wargamer (if you can stomach the inevitable weeks-on-end delay of ordering from them!!).

Such little painting time this week, but finishing up a couple of commissions which I hope to post next week.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Review: Judge Dredd Miniatures Game from Mongoose Games

I've posted a few Judge Dredd miniatures since Christmas, and today I'm going to be reviewing the core rulebook.

Firstly, I think that this is a great product! The whole book is a joy to read. Weighing in at 240 pages, in large format, and hard backed - it's a lovely item to own and look through, even if you never play the game. It is richly illustrated with art  from the comic books, as well as some lovely painted miniatures throughout. Mongoose definitely has the right idea about presenting nice examples of their figures, and their studio painter is excellent.

The book covers simple and advanced rules, then campaign play, and finally some fluff/background. The basic premise is that you pick a gang type (from Judges, to Demonic Cabal, to Sky Surfers), and engage in a small scale skirmish. There are various missions and objectives detailed in the book.

The game mechanics are simple and easy to master. It's a basic gang war, I-go-you-go affair - nothing groundbreaking in terms of dynamics. But the rules do feel very Judge Dredd: with special actions allowing arrests, hiding, etc. Overall, very easy to learn but definitely geared towards "beer and pretzels" type play. The whole thing feels very early Rogue Trader, but with much better presentation. It's a nice break from 6th edition 40k, where the rules seem to have become so bloated that it takes forever to get through a game....

Heroes deserve a separate mention. They have "talents" - special skills which separate them from minions. The talents add an interesting extra dimension to the game, although I found finding them in the rules cumbersome at times (especially for experienced heroes like senior judges: they quickly acquire a huge range of skills).

A point worth making about Judge Dredd is that it is very much a skirmish level game. A starting Judge gang might have 3 figures, whereas a gang of Cursed Earth Desperadoes may have half a dozen to ten. Every figure really counts!

A mixed observation is the introduction of mercenaries. I found this mechanic unusual, and it might well reflect the manner in which Mongoose intends to expand the game.  As noted, you start by picking a gang. This gang then has access to "reinforcements" - usually a long list of extras figures, often with more exotic weaponry and equipment. The idea is that when your gang faces another, bigger gang, you can induct the difference between credit values for the gangs but in mercenaries. These mercenaries can't gain experience, but otherwise act as part of your gang. The difficulty with this approach is that certain miniatures seem to be core gang members for some gangs, then mercenaries for others, and the decision as to who is a gang member and a merc is pretty arbitrary. Some mercs are really just typical gang members but with particular talents or weapons. However, the benefit of doing it this way, I suppose, is that Mongoose can release figures on an ad hoc basis: there are already lots of PDF files on their website, and I could easily see new characters being made available in this way.

Finally, we come to the price. This can be a deal breaker for may war gamers, especially with companies really upping their prices recently. I certainly found the price of £30 for this product very reasonable - it's such a nice book, that I could justify the price. Even better, many websites have it on a discount - Amazon lists it for £22, for instance.

Overall, Judge Dredd: The Miniatures Game is highly recommended!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Batman Miniatures Game: Silk Spectre II from Watchmen - and some re-photography!

Another Batman figure today!

Knight Models produce some Watchmen figures for their Batman game. I'm a great fan of the movie and comic book, so decided to paint this faction up as well.

Another great model to paint, which came together very easily. Laurie comes as a main body, two forearms, and a head, as well as a plastic base. The parts went together no problems.

I went with a deep blue/black instead of real black. Highlights were achieved by adding the old GW Space Wolf Grey with Dawnstone and Administratum Grey.

Meanwhile, the yellow portions of the costume were painted with Tausept Ochre - a nice dull yellow, superb for blocking out over a black undercoat - with increasing amounts of Yriel Yellow. I felt that the end result nicely matched the Silk Spectre costume.

This shot demonstrates my only real complaint with this miniature: it is quite "flat". The other Knight Models figures I have are really dynamic, even if in static poses. This figure is obviously in an action pose, but appears flat side-on.

The hair was quite challenging. I eventually used Rhinox Hide as a base, adding Gorthor Brown, then mixing in a little Kommando Khaki (an older paint). I then carefully washed back the highlights with Agrax Earthshade.

I also got a comment from a reader a while ago that they disliked the red backgrounds on some of my earlier Batman photos! What can I say: it was an experiment that went wrong... So I re-shot some of my earlier figures, and they are shown below.

Finally, here is a "usual suspects" shot of my collection so far - note Bane's imposing stature, as well as the Dark Knight's height.

I think I have enough Batmen for now, but hoping to paint up Ras al Ghul or some Gotham cops in the near future...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Batman MIniatures Game: "Arkham Origins" Batman

I'm a huge fan of the BMG, and recently picked up the newest version of Batman - "Arkham Origins". This figure represents a "Year One" level Batman, from 2013's Origins game. That received mixed reviews, but I quite liked it.

Origins Batman comes in four parts - the main body, the left leg, and both forearms. He is cast in soft white metal and comes with a plastic base.

I decided to paint him in a rougher, more weathered way: I already have two "showroom ready" versions of Batman, so wanted to do something a little different. This reflects his appearance in the game as well - by the end, he's looking pretty battered...

The under suit was painted with GW's old Charadon Granite - a really nice mixed grey/brown. Sadly, there's no replacement in the current range. I highlighted the suit with increasing amounts of Dawnstone, then Administratum Grey.

The black armour portions were done with Mechanicus Grey, Dawnstone then Administratum Grey.

I would have liked the cape to appear a bit more ragged - this again would have reflected the appearance in the game. Nonetheless, it is nicely sculpted and has a good impression of movement.

I added weathering with Ironbreaker, and a tiny sponge (held in tweezers) loaded with Rhionox Hide - added barely visible chipping to the under suit.

The most difficult part of the model was the face. This is hardly visible, but for some reason the detail just didn't seem to pop up. I couldn't get the mouth to look "snarling" as it does on the blister, and so settled on the grimace we have here. The flesh tones were very slightly greyed, to suggest stubble. I could've gone further with this, but I was concerned that the chin would "merge" with the black/grey tones elsewhere on the model.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hivefleet Behemoth: Tyranid Haruspex

Codex: Tyranids was released a few weeks back, and the dust has begun to settle. Some commentators have moved away from the initial criticisms of the book, but I remain stalwart that this is a serious step backwards for the Tyranids...

However, I was impressed with the new Haruspex model and when I saw it I immediately wanted to get one. Several weeks of delay from my regular miniatures supplier, and it finally arrived last week. I got started, and set most of my hobby time over the past ten days or so working on it.

The Haruspex is certainly one of the larger Tyranid beasts, not as bulky as the Tervigon but much larger than a Tyrant or Carnifex. It'll look suitably imposing on the battlefield.

I painted this miniature in the same colour scheme as my existing army (see my analysis of the Codex for my decision to keep my old army!), and overall I think that the Behemoth scheme fits this beast well.

First impressions on this plastic kit were actually mixed... The model is formidable, yes, and goes together nicely, but there are virtually no extras in the entire kit. As it retails for £44, I was disappointed by this. Yes, it does make an Exocrine as well, but if I only want to make a Haruspex, then these parts are wasted! This is a real weakness in GW's current policy of making "dual build" kits, in my view - you end up with a pile of potentially wasted parts, which you have to pay for in the box price. I would have liked to see some adrenal glans, some extra spikes, etc - the older plastic Tyranid kits came with these parts, but the current thinking seems to be moving away from these optional extras.

Secondly, the detailing is quite "shallow". This has always been a problem with 'Nid plastics, but is quite pronounced on this model. Don't get me wrong, I do like it - but differentiating a claw or talon from surrounding flesh wasn't easy. The box picture shows some exquisite blending on the claws (going from bone white through to deep purples), but for most hobbyists this is going to be too difficult to achieve.

All that said, the mouth has a lot of nice detailing going on. The head and claws are the only parts that differentiate the Exocrine from the Haruspex, so it would probably be possible to attached magnets and interchange the parts. I was surprised by the limited differences between the beasts!

The red was achieved simply and effectively:

1. Spray entire model with Mephiston Red (use masking tape to cover black carapace and claws);
2. Wash red areas with Carroburg Crimson (this is such a nice deep red wash!);
3. Use a "wet" dry brush to pick out detail on flesh areas, with Evil Sunz Scarlet;
4. Use same method but very lightly applied, with Will Rider Red (be careful not to overdo this, as Rider Red is very orange);
5. Apply a careful and controlled glaze with Bloodletter, drawing all colours together;
6. Apply Nuln Oil to skin "vents".

This could also be achieved by careful brush application, but I always think that organic tones on 'Nids look nice dry brushed. The actual red is a bit deeper than it appears in these photos - red is quite a tough colour to effectively photograph with my set-up!

I found an interesting use for Nihilakh Oxide! The vents in the carapace armour received a thin layer, which I think worked nicely as well. I am usually stumped as to how to paint these, so I might go back over my old monstrous creatures and do the same.

The mouth received a coat of Vallejo Water Effects - left to dry overnight - then the tongue and some inner teeth were painted with a thin layer of gloss varnish.

So, all in all a nice plastic kit and a good addition to the Tyranid range.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hasslefree: Morgan

Very small update today! I was recently asked to paint a number of "special agent" type figures, from a variety of manufacturers, and I have just finished one of these: "Morgan" from Hasselfree.

Hasslefree has a huge range of quality miniatures, from sci-fi to fantasy - if you are ever in a painting rut, then check out these guys. They are a really nice company and always have something to test your painting skills!

Morgan is a nicely detailed real world model - suitable for use jun sci-fi or modern espionage types scenarios. 

I chose two complementary colours for the clothing, and as I was only painting a few models I really highlighted these up to pastel colours. I did the same with the hair - the pale colour palette worked out well.

For scale, here is the model alongside Mongoose's Psi Judge and a GW Chaos Cultist. Morgan is naturally a small statured figure, but note that Hasslefree models are also quite slender in proportion (28mm scale, but nowhere near as heroic as some manufacturers).

Monday, 10 February 2014

Gang Wars from Shapeways: Gun Girls in Trenchcoats (aka Necromunda Delaque)

A while ago, I placed an order with Shapeways for a number of interesting conversion bits and figures. Whilst some of these turned out to be not as interesting as useful as I would have hoped (the female Space Marine conversion set was just too much work!), I was really impressed by the Gang Wars female gangster set. 

I forgot to take a picture of the models as they came, but they were basically crisp, semi-transparent resin/plastic. They are one-piece sculpts, and fit slottabases easily. They take superglue well. 

They had no clean up at all, but did have a slightly pitted/rough finish on set smoother areas of the model. This was frustrating to ry to remove, and in the end I just sprayed a decent undercoat to try to get rid of the imperfections. The models took Halfords spray paint well.

And here is the end result...

I dropped this model during painting, and broke off the outstretched arm. Note that these models are very delicate - the plastic is quite brittle. They would be fine for general gaming though, and I reattached the arm easily enough.

The sculpting to the face is a little rough - the features are quite minimal, but again as gaming figures these do fine. All of the models have lots of nice little details such as pouches, belts etc.

Probably my least favourite of the three miniatures, due to the pose, but I still like it.

For scale, I also took this shot - as you can see, the sculpts are quite slender but fit well with 28/30mm scale models. Understandably, the Space Marine Scout towers of them.

The Gang Wars webshop can be found on Shapeways. These models aren't available in their current incarnation any more, but a newer, chunkier version is - check it out here.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Warforge: Alicia von Gaut

Warforge produces a couple of great sic-fi miniatures, suitable for use in 40k. This company has really nailed the 40k Gothic aesthetic, and when their female commissar was released I was very eager to paint some of their models. Then came the Alicia von Gaut miniature, and I knew that I had to buy one. 

This is a 28/30mm scale miniature, available in either resin or metal. I went with metal, and I'm glad I did. The scale is perfect for Warhammer 40,000 but be aware that the figure is quite slender - I would be wary of breaking it in resin (especially the haft of her mace). 

It is supplied in several pieces - the main body, the head, the hair, two separate arms, and the resin base. The latter is a nice touch!

I based on colour scheme on the Warforge website, but made some changes - opting for more red and white, and going with auburn hair over blue. The red was done with my new favourite layer combination: Mephiston Red, washed with Carroburg Crimson, layered with Evil Sunz Scarlett, highlighted with Wild Rider Red. 

The arms were unusually annoying to attach. They are such thin pieces that they cannot be pinned, and instead I relied on superglue. It took some filing and repeated gluing to get them to stay in place.

Alicia also wears some fetching plate mail leg greaves, but also comes with a larger pleated skirt piece. This looks quite Victorian in aspect, and can be attached to her back. I chose to leave this off.

Note that the feet needed a little work. I added some pins to the feet, creating pseudo heels. This allowed the model to stand properly and also created some appropriate detail for the legs and shoes.

The most obvious use for such a figure is as a female inquisitor, either in an Inquisition or Grey Knights army. Here she is with some second edition Stormtroopers - standing quite tall, but definitely in scale.

I also took a scale shot, to demonstrate her height and proportions. From left to right: Alicia (Warforge), Stormtrooper (GW), mutant ganger (Mongoose), cultist (GW), zombie (Hasslefree). She scales up fine to the GW figures (remembering that she has a slightly elevated base and posture), but would struggle against Hasslefree I think.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Batman: Poison Ivy

Continuing my interest in the Batman: Arkham City miniatures game, I recently painted the Poison Ivy model. 

This was a very nice model to build and paint. It has some nice surface detail, and stretches your ability as a fine-detail painter (look at the vines/plants on her body - those required a steady hand and a very fine brush). The model has some real character, although I'm not such a fan of the Arkham Asylum/City version of Ivy - I'd prefer a more "classic" interpretation. That being said, Knight Models have actually released several versions of some Batman characters - so a further version can't be ruled out I guess!

I did find the individual parts quite "fiddly" for this model though. The head and arms (or at least one arm) are separate, but so small (probably a 3 mm across) that I couldn't pin them, so had to rely on superglue. 

Previous Knight Models figures have been very detailed but quite chunky - I already have DKR Bane, DKR Batman and Arkham City Batman, and all of these are substantial miniatures. Ivy has some quite thin arms and a very feminine outline.

I toyed with the idea of doing this model in flesh tones, maybe washing it back with green. I even considered going with a white undercoat, then washing with Thrakka Green (or the modern equivalent). In the end I thought bright greens over a black undercoat was best - there is a lot of definition in this model, so I think it worked out well.  

I added some foliage and static grass to the base, which adds to Ivy's plant-like nature. The figure already comes with a metal plant as part of the slotta base.

A close-up on the face - note that the hair has more highlighting than appears on this photo. For some reason the reds and browns have washed out here.

What's next for the Batman collection? I've just bought (another!) Batman (Arkham Origins version), and also the Silk Spectre II - hoping to get working on those in next few weeks...

Monday, 3 February 2014

Farsight: Drones

My Farsight army requires quite a few drones to bulk out the list, and this was part of the painting process that I was dreading! So many identical models, with annoying detail which just cried out to be highlighted!!!

In reality, this was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I still have several drones to do, but I'll put those off until I get through the remaining battle suits. 

These are two shielded missile drones. I actually liked doing these: the chunky build is easy to paint and highlight.

Then I painted up four missile drones, two for each Broadside in my list.

Finally, I'm gathering lots of marker light drones. These are quite difficult to find: I managed to convert two with parts from the Broadside kit, combining those with drone bodies from regular suits, and then I used one from the stealth suit kit. I have another five or so to do before I have enough of them...

All the drones together!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Some more Ebay listings....

My January clean-out continues, with the selling of more projects that I've just never gotten around to finishing...

Firstly, some Shapeways "female space marine" conversion sets - these are nicely detailed and will require some modelling experience to put together...

Secondly, some resin conversion torso pieces for Imperial Guard...

Next some Iron Hands shoulder pads - I'm still doing the Hands, but will be using only decals for the chapter emblem...

Finally, an "event only" Forgeworld model - the Death Korps of Krieg Quartermaster model - an awesome miniature, but I can't see myself painting him up (or starting that Krieg army I planned years back!)...