Monday, 29 May 2017

Imperial Guard Mechanised Platoon

For many years now I've been feeling that 40K needed a major overhaul. The last few editions didn't go far enough for me, but as yet almost everything I've read about the new edition is encouraging, and thus my ancient love of 40K is stirring. Stirring like a kraken from the depths of my loins.

Now I'm faced with a conundrum. Clearly this excitement demands that some stuff gets painted and, come release day, some 40K must be played. But there are two armies I could go for: my fledgling mechanised guard, or more speed freeks. I love both armies dearly and I'm too slow for both. Ultimately it'll probably be orks but I do love me some guard, so before diving into painting more kustom trukks, I made a point of at least finishing the platoon I started waaaay back in 2014.

It's not that I'm a slow painter, it's that the river of 40K love really did run that dry.

Let's face it, these guardsmen (and women, all two of them... good luck spotting them) have been given a mediocre paint job. Better to have twenty-five mediocre troopers than three masterpieces and twenty-two regrets. In the vanishingly unlikely event that you want to know how I painted these dudes (they are hella quick to paint) I wrote about it here. If you're curious about the true-calibre Leman Russ, you can check it out here.

As with all my projects, I had to know who these dudes were. I'm no longer capable of just painting some random spods. This is Lieutenant Adi "Bolt" Kahurangi's platoon. Bolt is known as a rash and enthusiastic officer, often picked by his captain when she needs someone to take an objective, but she wouldn't generally trust him to stay inside a defensive position, hence his nickname. He was given his now signature weapon - his boltgun - in recognition of his various acts of successful recklessness (his detractors point out that this was essentially rewarding an idiot for being lucky). A casting director would probably pick the likes of Dwayne Johnson to play him. In fairness you'd have to be gurt hench to haul a boltgun about.

Lt Kahurangi was a relatively simple conversion achieved with nowt but some careful scalpel action; no green stuff needed. The arms and hands needed a fair bit of angling and repositioning, since funnily enough, there are no models of a guardsmen running forwards blazing away with a bolter.

Ankran unit designations are contained within their squad markings. They're the 2nd platoon of the 3rd company of the 5th battalion of the 107th Ankran Mechanised Infantry, and with the exception of the regimental number, here's how that works on the model:

- The battalion is indicated by a coloured shape on the right shoulder pad, orange being 5th.
- Company numbers are indicated by the number of sides to the battalion shape, so a triangle is 3rd company.
- Platoon numbers are displayed in roman numerals within the battalion shape.
- Squad numbers are displayed on their left shoulder pad. The command squad and chimera use an icon chosen by the lieutenant, a hangover from the heraldry used by Ankrah's old noble houses.

Why yes, I am a nerd.

2017 continues to be a productive year; I've now painted almost all of the models needed for the next BFG campaign, and then next month it's on to a genestealer cult army I need to produce by the end of July for another Deathwatch scenario. I can't share the BFG fleets until the players discover them in-game, but I'll be blogging about my endeavours with the genestealers as I go, so you can all laugh as I try to find a fast-yet-fruity method of painting them.

Here's to a new edition of 40K! Hopefully you're all as excited as I am.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Hobby Brain Explosion

Today I would like to talk. About how Project Get Things Finished is going. About why I have butterfly brain. About how I react to creative urges when there is no outlet, or direction to them. Also about what I want from the hobby.

Firstly, Project Get Things Finished. This is actually going well so far in the sense that things are getting finished. I can say that so far this year I have ticked the boxes on a Frost Grave warband, and the board and scenery for Frost Grave. I've finished off the few Tabletop world buildings that were sat ready and waiting for the love. Whilst we're talking about scenery I've also got a usable amount of scenery for my desert board as well as starting to clearing out of the backlog of my industrial scenery which should be all done this month. As for models, well we have finished off the Ogre Scrap Launcher that I never got around to, a bunch of German Veterans for Bolt Action, as well as a fairly large pile of Thousand Sons. Oh, and the Storm Raven. So all in all a successful first half of the year.

I still have a squad or two of models to do to get the Thousand Sons finished off and playable. I have an entire German Afrika Korp army to build and paint and a few other odds and sods related to Bolt Action. There is also some undead stuff kicking about as well (there is always more undead to deal with). The Empire I've struck off the list as the only reason I was including them was because there was some spare space in the figure case, and not because they felt incomplete or unfinished. The Tyranids I've also struck off because, frankly, I can't paint them. Simply I cannot find a scheme that balances between the organic style the 'Nids need, the speed required to get through the hundred odd models, and the standard I'm happy with. Which means it's kinda killed the whole project for me and I'm going to be honest with myself and say that I'm never going to enjoy doing it, so no point in forcing it just for the sake of doing it. One has to know which battles to fight I guess.

While I have finished a lot of things under the name of Project Get Things Finished, I've not stuck to the plan as rigidly as I first hoped that I might. Nor have I been quite as focused as I should have. This isn't a complaint, this is me being flexible. I wasn't in the mood to tackle the Undead, but in the mood to work on the Thousand Sons so I swapped things around. Also changing priorities due to need as well. Charlie saying he wants to do part of a campaign in a shipping yard, but doesn't know how to model it and I happened to have a boat load of unbuilt shipping containers say on my to do list (that Charlie didn't know existed). So I've swapped things around based on needs and started working on those instead. This is me being flexible. That doesn't mean I've been totally good about things. I've started finishing things and then not finished them because I wanted to finish something else, or had a mental flap about finishing something that wasn't as finished when I really should have finished something that was closer to being finished first. Anyway, TL;DR shit is getting done, one way or another.

My butterfly brain hasn't made this easy. Nor has the news about Warhammer 40K 8th edition and all the information being released. It's very exciting and has left me with nursing a seriously large creative boner. I've had about a billion and seven ideas for new projects. These include:

- Ork Goff Mob led by Warboss Grommel
- Expand my Dark Angels 3rd company
- Dark Angels from a different company
- Dark Angel successor chapter
- Imperial Fist project (because I found a tutorial for painting yellow that I liked)
- Blood Ravens chapter (because I've not done a red army)
- Make up a totally new Space Marine chapter
- Loyalist Imperial Guard army using Cadian models
- Loyalist Imperial Guard army using Victoria Miniatures models
- Loyalist Imperial Guard army using Mad Robot models
- Renegade Guard army using forgeworld bits
- Renegade guard army using Victoria Miniatures models
- Renegade guard army using Mad Robot models
- Pre-heresy Spire Guard army
- Post-heresy Spire Guard army
- Tzeentch daemons army
- Pre-heresy Thousand Sons army
- A mixed faction daemons army
- An undivided chaos army
- Iron Warriors chaos army
- Tau, painted in blue/white (because I had an idea about a colour scheme)
- Necron army in a purple/gold (again because I liked the colour scheme)
- Some kind of Eldar based project (because I've never really looked at doing an Eldar thing).

That is just a list of the one's I can remember, and just for 40k. I've had similar mental dealings with Fantasy, Bolt Action, and doing static display models. It becomes a cycle of musing on a vague idea. followed increasing excitement as I decide on what models I want, read up on the background, figure out what to get from where etc. Then the sensible part of my brain kicks in and goes through all the reasons is a dumb idea, normally along the lines of: Maisey, you don't like painting Orks Remember? Maisey, not ANOTHER Imperial army, try doing something non-Imperial for once? Maisey, you already HAVE a load of Dark Angels why don't you just add to that? Maisey, you already HAVE a load of Dark Angels, why don't you do something new? Maisey, are you really going to convert all those vehicles? Maisey, do you actually find Tau the least bit interesting? Maisey, Eldar? on so on and so forth. Not only is it mentally exhausting, it's also very frustrating having lots of ideas but never actually following through with them. Either because of practical reasons such as time or money, or silly reasons like how do I explain that I want to do another Dark Angel army? Is it because I think this time around I can do it better? Even though my current Dark Angels are done to an acceptable standard so why am I not satisfied? Repeat ad nauseum for each and every project. Anyway, all of this just leads me to wanting to do a hard reset.

A Hard Reset, where I ditch everything and just start from fresh because my brain has become so clogged and tainted that I stop being rational for a while and the only I thing I think of doing to shaking the whole thing like an etch-a-sketch and starting again. This is because I have, like most people, a few character flaws that contradict each other. The relevant one's are:

1) I have fairly poor impulse control when it comes to toys. Sure, I think a lot of us have this one, it's part and parcel of being a hobbyist.
2) I have a wide range of interests. Oh how I envy those with a consistently themed and focused collection. I really do. It looks amazing, I envy your passion and dedication, and I'm somewhat jealous of it.
3) I have a short attention span. Ohhhhhhh look at the shiny new thing.
4) and this is the big one. I really dislike things getting complicated. I like things to be clean and simple and focused. However, because of the above, just can't stop things from getting complicated.

I know, this is probably a little deep for a blog post about little plastic mens, but I think it does adversely affect my enjoyment of the hobby because I'm stressing myself out over the contradictions in how I wish to hobby and what effect this has on my hobby group (because none of us hobby alone). I do have to fight myself between being expansive and being focused. I'm still trying to find the middle ground, and with every new project there is a little glimmer of hope that this is the one, the one that becomes my all consuming focus. It, as yet, has not.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Getting Your Just Deserts

This post is a bit of a two for one special offer this week. Firstly we have a rather large selection of photos of my finished desert board including a few with the 8th Army boys from before. The second part is a step by step of how I made the trees/scatter pieces for said board. If you want to get straight to the step by step feel free to just skip to the end.

So here come the pictures. The buildings I got from Timeline Miniatures and the earthworks I picked up from Red Dragon Gaming. The trees/scatter were scratch built as I'll show below.

Tree Scatter Tutorial

Now for the tutorial/explanation for the scatter pieces. I do have to state right out the gate that I've not really done anything like this before and I was kinda making it up as I went. Which, seeing how they turned out, is probably the best bit of advice I can share from this. Just give it a go and see what happens, even if it goes a little wrong it can always be fixed or adapted. As Bob Ross so rightly said, there are no mistakes, just happy accidents.

Right, step one. I found some 2/3mm plywood in the shed that I had thought would be useful to keep. Turns out I was right and it seems to make a good base. Since I didn't really know how big anything was going to get, I kept the wood whole and just cut around it afterwards. So I picked up some cheap air dry clay from the local hobby/craft shop for about £4 and a bunch of stones from the garden. The trees I found on ebay and it cost me less than £5 for 28, including postage. I think they are intended for aquariums and came in rather plain brown and green plastic and needed a little clean up first. As for fixing it all together the stones and trees were either molded into the clay or smothered in PVA and hope. A few bits fell off later but they just got more PVA glue and left overnight to dry properly.

Once I had finished all the pieces the clay needed a few days to dry out properly before I could do anything further. After it had all dried (I left it for 6 days just because thats how my shifts run) I marked out the bases and got to cutting them out with a stanley knife. This is the bit where you really should get some adult supervision. Then I sanded down the rough edges to get them nice, neat and rounded. 

The next stage was to smother everything in PVA and modelling sand for texture. Once it has dried properly everything got a thinned down PVA layer to seal in the sand, stone, and any bare wood ready for painting. 

Painting was mostly a simple affair, layers of dry brushing our pre-mixed desert board colours, with a little tonal variation (Ding!) in the rocks. The tree trunks got a base coat and drybrush of various browns. I can't actually remember which ones now, but I was looking up some reference photos online to get the colours and picked the closest matches I had.

The leafs were spray painted using a Humbrol Grass Green paint from a rattle can for ease. I stuck a match stick in the hole of each leaf cluster to make it easier to work with. Then the leaves got a yellow/green over brushing on the outside edges of the leaf. You can also see here why they call me Doctor Green Thumb.

Once everything was dry and set, just needed to stick the leaf clusters back on and we're all done and ready for the table.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Tabletop World Guard Tower

The rule for the Bunkerettes this year is simple: finish old projects, don't start new ones.

I broke the rule.


In my defence, there was a UK webstore selling Tabletop World's Guard Tower for a reasonable price, which meant no epic wait for the thing to come all the way from Croatia, and no chunky VAT charges. Furthermore, said UK retailer ( only had one left in stock. My sweaty little fingers could hardly whip out my credit card quickly enough. I know, I know... I've got problems.

Having broken The Rule, it became a matter of honour that this 16" architectural wang should get painted damn fast. As soon as I finished my Frostgrave warband, I stuck to a rule of doing at least one stage on the tower every evening. This often meant spending only fifteen minutes painting, so I didn't get daunted by the hugeness of the building and just plugged away at it for a month in little bitesize chunks. 

At last I finished, and proudly plonked it in the light box for photographing. At this point a logistical problem emerged: sometimes a gentleman's tower is just too meaty for the box in question.

Well this is awkward.

Well-intentioned yet sleazy lothario for scale. Thanks, Oskar.

Like the other buildings I've had from Tabletop World there weren't any bubbles in the resin, and aside from the standard wash in warmish water, no preparation was required. The only gripe was that there were some moulding issues on the corners of the roof which, unless I were to spend a long time with some sculpting putty, would have been impossible to clean up without damaging the surface details. Given that I can just about see the same thing happening on Tabletop World's own paintjob, I'm assuming this is just a byproduct of this being one of their earlier sculpts.

Painting was simple enough; a basecoat drybrush of the same grey-brown emulsion I used on my Realm of Battle board ensures one has sourced local stone, after which I drybrushed a variety of greyish mixes on individual bricks to achieve some tonal variation (ding!) before tying it all together with a light grey highlighting drybrush. The wood was just a three-stage drybrush from dark brown to bone, and the verdigris on the roof was achieved by basecoating dark silver, then bronze (it needs the silver since bronze is pretty transparent), then brown ink, then nihilakh oxide, which is something I cannot thank GW enough for producing.

Given the texture, I suspect they made the plaster out of actual plaster.

Again, like other TW buildings, this thing has interior detail. The tower's floors are held in place by sockets in the sculpt, and it seems reasonably secure so long as no-one elbows it mid-game. The join between the ground floor and the first floor is surprisingly hard to spot:

It's fair to say I was pretty lazy about painting the interior--I imagine it won't see the light of day that frequently--but I can always go back and fill in the details if it ends up bothering me.

There's other stuff TW do that I'd love to get; the ruined townhouse would be perfect for Frostgrave and fantasy battles alike, but I really must move on to the next thing on 2017's hit list: the ships of the next Battlefleet Gothic campaign.

At some point we should probably get a photo of all the TW buildings the Bunker's members have accumulated. At this point it's a decent-sized village... possibly even a very small town. It's alarmingly close to having a collection of dollhouses. MANLY DOLLHOUSES.