Sunday, 19 June 2022

Old-School Termagants 2

 This time, I've started work on the plastic termagants. They're really good models, considering that they're from 1995 or so. I think they might actually be better-sculpted than the metal versions, although of course you don't get the same variety of poses (although the heads are separate and can be turned or angled as needed). 

One interesting thing about these models - well, interesting if you're me, and not even very interesting - is that they came with special bases. The models had little pegs on their feet instead of the usual slot, and the bases had tiny holes for the pegs. Strange. Perhaps inevitably, my pegs broke. 

Unlike orks, Imperial Guard and other horde armies, tyranids don't have clothes or a lot of gear to carry, and so just a few colours are enough to make a decent go of the whole model. Given that they're cannon fodder, this seems fair on the player/painter.

There's another reason why I have considerable fondness for these old models. When my first novel, Space Captain Smith came out, the publisher, Myrmidon Books, commissioned a cover from the illustrator Angelo Rinaldi. He depicted Smith standing like a Victorian hunter over one of the giant space ants who are the villains in the novel. It's a really cool picture. I didn't imagine the space ants - they're called Ghasts in the story - to look like old termagants, but there's an inevitable resemblance!

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Old-School Termagants

 Back in the days of Rogue Trader, there were two sorts of tyranid: warriors (aka just "tyranid" or "protonid") and zoats. Zoats were later edited out before being edited back in again in a very limited fashion, and the protonid was replaced by more modern warrior sculpts, with their upright pose.

Shortly after that, two new monsters joined the ranks: the screamer-killer (of which more some other time) and the hutner-slayer. Later on, these would be renamed as the carnifex and the termagant.

So what is a termagant? Well, it's not one of these:

That's a ptarmigan, a sort of artic bird. The actual word "termagant" comes from the name of a god that medieval people believed Arabs to worship. Termagant was apparently an angry god, and as time went on came to be seen as female. By the 19th century, a termagant was a word for a bad-tempered woman.

None of which really helps us at all. Next week on "Unusual Tyranid Name Origins" we'll be looking at the dominatrix.


Anyhow, I happened to find a bunch of really old termagants at the back of a cupboard. They date from the early 1990s, and must be some of the earliest miniatures I ever bought: I can remember my dad giving me a lift to Luton Games Workshop to buy a box of plastic termagants and the lurid 2nd Edition tyranid codex. I was surprised to find that my painting back then wasn't absolutely awful (well, I kept inside the lines), but I reckoned I could do better now, and so I stripped them. I also had a few metal termagants, and put them in as well.

I started off with five metal models. Three have fleshborers (the standard rubbish gun) and two have stranglewebs (the standard rubbish flamethrower-type thing). They're old models, and clearly made to fit into a rather flat two-part mold. But I like them: they've got a certain derpy charm, and given the limited options, the poses are quite good. Since the average termagant is a poor in attack and feeble in defence, they seemed just right for a model that wouldn't be spending long on the battlefield.

I used Flesh Tearers Red, a Citadel Contrast paint, for most of the bodies. It worked quite well, probably because there are lots of ridges and bumps for the paint to run into on these small models.

I think I'll try some of the plastic ones next.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

I'm on Instagram! (and here are two more marines)

In a feeble attempt to use modern technology, be down with the kids etc, I've joined Instagram! If you want to see pictures of some of my better models, along with stuff to do with my writing and even me, I'm on tobyfrostauthor. 


In the meantime, I've painted a couple more space marines. Nothing terribly exciting here, although they're both quite old "middlehammer" figures. The first is a Space Wolf Long Fangs sergeant, or was until he joined my chapter. 

This guy is unconverted. He was a pleasant model to paint and, although the lead looked rather old, the detail was crisp and struck a good balance between too much and too little. He was missing the top of his axe when I got him, but luckily I had a metal axe-head lying around and it fitted really well. I quite like the way that it came out.

The next chap is a rank-and-file metal body, with plastic arms. I wanted to keep him quite "open" as I like the armour he's wearing, so I gave him a raised gun and a scanner. Back in the days, it was standard to use the left hand "gun-supporting" arm to hold a scanner. I painted some little lines on the scanner, to suggest a needle and some markings. I'm not sure what the flames on his knee mean, if anything.

That's all for now, although I've got some more marines lined up, and some very old termagants...

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Space Marine Scouts

This week, I dug out some old Space Marine scouts and repainted them.

 The plastic scouts must be one of the earliest kits where the sculpting is more complex, but there are only one or two ways of assembling the miniatures. They're certainly not brilliant models: the heads in the kit are all jawline, and it's very hard to line up the models so that they're looking down the scopes of their own rifles. I definitely wasn't going to use the intended heads.

Given that my other marines are meant to look heroic and knightly, it was hard to know how to incorporate these guys. I decided to paint them a little like grimy peasants, more Grimdark Robin Hood than Tom Clancy's Black Spec Deniable Ghost Wet Recon Ops. I found two suitably beardy heads (probably either Chaos warriors or Empire flagellants) and managed to squash them into place (only just, though). The third head was left over from some Skitarri soldiers, and had a hood and very large lenses for eyes. Again, lining it up with the gun was hard, and I ended up trimming away some of the scope just to get it in place.

All three plastic models had some gaps filled with green stuff, and one got a sculpted hood. 

I went with more muted colours for these guys than the usual marines, and introduced dark green to stress the outlaw bowman look. I added a little shield on each soldier's gun, with the colours I use on the standard marines' shoulder pads, and gave a couple of them a freehand tree symbol on their left shoulder pad. It was meant to look a bit like the symbol of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings but looks more like a spider. Oh well.

Eventually, I tried to strike a balance between giving the models full on heraldry (after all, they're meant to be camouflaged) and making them too dull to look at. They're probably a bit too bright, but after all the Blood Angels have bright red scouts.

The last two were old metal miniatures that I had stripped. I didn't convert them at all. They were at once chunky and slightly fiddly to paint, but I quite enjoyed it. 

To be honest, I painted these guys partly because they were there. But I think they came out okay and the minor alterations I made have improved the models a bit. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Veskit, Skaven assassin

 Back to Mordheim again. At the back of the Mordheim manual is a list of special characters. One of them is Veskit the Executioner, a Skaven assassin. Veskit's story is that, after being horribly mangled on a mission, the scientist/wizards of Clan Skyre put him back together again. Of course, in doing so they made him into a monster.

I recently bought the body of an old metal arco-flagellant on a whim, partly because it was cheap and partly because I thought I could turn it into some kind of undead monstrosity. Looking at the rules for Veskit, it occurred to me that the half-machine, half-scrawny human body of the arco-flagellant could become the basis for a conversion of Veskit.

First, I cut the old head off and replaced it with the head of a Skaven leader I'd acquired ages ago. The Skaven head had a crest, which rather unbalanced the model and had to go. Because the original body was very hunched, it would need to be pitched up on a slope, so to make it more "open" and visible. To do that, I mounted it on a sloped bit of "wood" left over from a terrain kit.

The right arm came from a plastic gutter runner and fitted really well. The shoulder ball of the left arm came from a chaos marine's backpack vent. It had a nice shape and was suitably ornamental. The lower arm was a piece of resin rod with a hinge joint at the end. I've no idea what this was originally, but it looked right. 

The big claws were from some bits that my friend James gave me - maybe from a replacement Necron model. I positioned it so that the claws were resting on the wooden slope. It made the model a bit stronger and looked as if he was about to charge, like a sprinter at the blocks. Veskit got a tail from a piece of resin, probably from the same not-Necron parts. I don't know where the little shoulder pad came from - I found it in the bits box and it looked right.

Because Skaven have big feet, I sculpted over the dinky human feet with green stuff. I also gave him some more fur around his scraggy neck and covered the Imperial symbol on his loincloth. I bulked out the back of Veskit's outfit, so that the tail looked more, er, natural going up there. 

To paint this charming fellow, I used the raw flesh method I've used before - red undercoat with purple washes. The rest was fairly simple. I decided not to make the metal look too tarnished, so it would be easier to see what was what on his body. I added a Mantic skull and a rat from the Frostgrave female wizards set to his base.

All ready to slay his enemies and steal their cheese!

Friday, 27 May 2022

Chaos Terminator Captain

 This week, we're back in the Eye of Terror, that hellish place where Chaos rules, the laws of nature are strictly optional, and most conversations end with someone shouting "or suffer the consequences!". 

I won an ebay auction for some random terminator guns and arms, so it seemed time to make some more terminator marines. I didn't have all the bits, but I could always improvise. The parts I had from ebay were from Nurgle terminators, but that wasn't going to put me off. 

I started with a standard Chaos terminator body, and added the lower legs from a Tau stealth suit. They were the right scale and had a suitable hooved, bestial look. Then I draped some green stuff around the legs to make a sort of skirt. That looked impressive, and bulked the legs out a bit so they didn't look too spindly.

The right arm went on as standard. It's a really nice sculpt, with a great piece of cloth hanging off the shoulder-plate. The left arm is cool too, with its row of weird quills, but the Nurgley sword looked too decrepit for my tastes. I cut it off and replaced it with the top of a chaos knight spear that I'd had lying around for ages. Much more choppy.

The model got a couple of chains hanging down from its waist, which I took from Empire flagellant bits. They just looked like the sort of junk that a chaos champion might carry. I found an odd piece in the bits box that looked like a crown made from tusks tied together. I think it might have been from a savage orc. Anyhow, it was stuck to the model's backpack. One of the best thing about terminator models - which I've never been that sold on, especially the chaos variety - is that you can pile random stuff onto their backs. 

And finally, the head. This was a wood elf dryad's head, cut to fit and green-stuffed into place. Maybe it was once human, but it certainly isn't now.

Now for paint. It - actually, I'm starting to think that this creature might be a she - got the standard chaos paint scheme. I've been watching a few painting videos on Youtube, and one suggested highlighting models slightly further than you normally would. I decided to give this a go, and so took the colours a bit further than usual. I also shaded the deepest folds of the red cloth with dark green, which works quite well.

I painted the flesh a weird "maybe it was once human" colour, and did the eyes and the sword blue to provide contrast to the red and black.

And here we are with the entire terminator squad. I recently discovered that two of them have resin legs that are incredibly fragile. If an opportunity arrives to give them different legs, I'll probably take it.

Monday, 23 May 2022

Sternguard Veterans

This week, I took a bit of a break from the mean streets of Mordheim to paint some space marines. This is a metal squad of veterans that I got from ebay a few months ago. They were going for a very decent price and looked like the kind of vaguely-knightly guys I wanted in my little army. I think they're sternguard veterans - ie old blokes who hang around at the back.

 While I often make fun of the ridiculous Space Marine fluff and GW's obsession with making them bigger and bigger, I do think that some very good models have been released for the non-Primaris marines over the years, and these are some of them. The sculpting is excellent and they're covered in odd details that don't obscure the basic look of the models. I did wonder about de-skulling them a bit, but then I realise that it would be too much effort and the chances of me doing more harm than good were very high. At the end, the only conversions I did were to replace two gun barrels that had been squashed out of shape with bits of plastic rod.

Here are the first two:

Here's the second pair:

And this is the leader (I think):

Here's the whole squad together: