Sunday 3 December 2023

Archira, Part 1

This week, I've been back on the Eldar. First up, I painted an ancient model that dates back to Rogue Trader days. It's an Eldar Guardian (actually, probably just an "adventurer" back then, as Guardians hadn't been invented then) with a big gun that I suspect is meant to be a lascannon. 

The armour is quite different to modern Eldar armour, with some odd tear-shaped bulges, but the shaped plates and conical helmet are there. I painted him in the same colours as my Guardian squad, with some extra detail on one shoulder pad (I think this tiger-stripe pattern denotes particular skill on Craftworld Zandros). 

I think he looks like something off the cover of an old Science-Fiction novel, which is what I was aiming for.

Then I thought that I'd try to finish off an old conversion. Many years ago, I chopped off the back of an Eldar jetbike and stuck it to an engine (at least, I think that's what it was) from a broken Zoid toy, to make a sort of huge-engined flying bike. I found the pieces of this conversion, which had long since broken, and realised I could do a lot better now.

I added the canopy of an old Eldar jetbike onto the main chassis, so that it would look a bit more "space elf". That looked a little obvious, so I used DAS clay and green stuff to fill in the gaps and blend the canopy into the engine. This was an absolute sod. My respect for people who can sculpt in this stuff grows and grows. I'm still not sure that it looks any good.

I found some "wings", which came from an elf chariot that I dismantled years ago. They were a bit on the delicate side, but they counterbalanced the huge and clumsy engine somewhat. To tie it all together and for bonus Eldarness, I added bumps made out of green stuff to the front.

So here's where we are so far: 

Any thoughts and suggestions would be very welcome!

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Swooping Hawks

 I went back to the old craftworld Eldar and had a go at painting some Swooping Hawks. My eventual plan is to have a (small) squad of all of the Eldar aspects in the first Eldar codex, with the exception of the Shining Spears, who didn't have models back then. 

The Swooping Hawks were lightly-armoured troops who used their jetpacks to fly above the enemy and drop grenades on them, to deadly effect. In theory. In actuality, they were very hard to use, as their attacks were very specific and their armour was tissue-thin. Back then (and probably now) much of Warhammer 40,000 was about covering your men in armour, and the Swooping Hawks tended to die very quickly.

Also, as I discovered recently, the models are top-heavy and fall over all the time. That said, they're also Jes Goodwin sculpts and are excellent miniatures with a remarkable amount of motion for their time. I put mine on slotta-bases, and made some grass and ruined pavements for them to stand on.

As with the whole Eldar project, I tried to use vibrant colours somewhat like those used by Moebius and Roger Dean. I like the Eldar having a slightly retro, psychedelic feel. Here's the whole unit. For some reason, they were very difficult to photograph.

I don't think I've made a bad job, but I did find them fiddly and not all that satisfying. Still, I'm glad the unit is done, even though - if I actually played 40k - I'd never use them in battle.

Monday 20 November 2023

Dangly Cage Thing

 I've been painting some old Eldar swooping hawks, which are both delicate and fiddly. As a break from squinting and trying not to break anything, I thought it would be good to scratch-build something that I could paint in a rough manner.

A while back I was given some spare bits from the Warhammer Giant model, including a wicker cage that the giant can wear on his belt. I decided to make one of those suspended cages that crop up in fantasy films. I used plasticard and thin dowel to make the basic shape. The "rope" was added with green stuff: I tend to find that real string frays too much. 

I felt that it needed a bit of balancing, so I added some rocks to the end of the cross-beam. They were taken from the top of an ogre's club.

I added the cage and painted the whole thing. It was fairly simple to do. My trick for painting wood like this is to add a bit of grey to the highlighting stages.

Instant storage for monsters and peasants!

Monday 13 November 2023

Nun Shall Pass!

 And now for something completely different... Well, not completely, since it's the last members of the Sisters of Sigmar warband. I decided to make a larger, more imposing sister to lead the unit.

For this, I used a Novitiate Superior model from the Sisters of Battle Neophyte squad. I took off a few sci-fi details and gave her an double-handed weapon from the Frostgrave female barbarian sprue. It took quite a bit of trimming. I replaced her original backpack with a steampunk-style burner and a symbol from the staff of a Sigmarine wizard person, symbolising the comet of Sigmar.

She's joined by a small mascot-type being that was left over from a set of similar beings that I bought from Raging Heroes ages ago. 

And here's the whole unit. They're weird, but they look good together. 

Sunday 5 November 2023

The Black Beast of Aargh

 Some models seem like a good idea, but take a long time to get round to making. Ages ago, I backed a Reaper Bones kickstarter, and got a large box of varied (but generally not great) miniatures, made of bendy rubbery plastic. Among them was a beholder, a sort of floating eyeball monster from Dungeons & Dragons. I thought that the beholder looked a bit like the head of the Black Beast of Aargh from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The Black Beast, which is actually green, is a large monster encountered by the knights of the Round Table during their search for the grail. It eats the helpful monk Brother Maynard, and then goes on the rampage. As they tend to do, the knights run away, and are chased by the beast. The beast is only stopped when the animator suffers a fatal heart attack, at which point it vanishes.

I thought it was finally time to have a go at making this silly thing. I started by cutting unnecessary details off the beholder model. I made a neck out of bits and bobs and plasticard, and an armature for its horns out of twisted wire. 

Then I sculpted over this with DAS clay, and added some details with green stuff.

Luckily, the beast doesn't have much in detail. It has two legs, ending in clawed feet, but not a lot else. Rocks were added with torn corn cut to fit.

I sculpted the feet out of green stuff. I made these separately, using blister pack plastic to build them on. I cut them from the blister pack and stuck them onto a base, and then stuck the rest of the beast on top. It got a little fin on its back, left over from a troll.

After that, it was time to paint this thing. I think that Terry Gilliam used an airbrush to draw the beast: it looks very shaded, but simple. I tried to replicate Gilliam's style, but it was tricky. The end result looks rather like it was sculpted out of cake icing.

The main lesson here is that if you're going to sculpt a model of something, sculpt a model of something that looks stupid to begin with. It reminds me that sculpting is really really hard - at least with clay: maybe it's much easier on a computer. 

Normal service will be resumed shortly. 

Sunday 29 October 2023

Second To Nun - More Sisters of Sigmar

 Here are some more Sisters of Sigmar for Mordheim. They will be joining the augur that I made last week. These models are all from the defunct game Wrath of Kings, slightly converted so that they're all carrying hammers. This basically involved swapping some hands around.

I used cork for the bases, and added skulls and bits of foliage to make them more interesting. I chose a blue colour scheme because I'm a bit tired of painting off-white (ie brown faded up to bone). 

Unfortunately, the models are made of some crappy resin-plastic sort of stuff, which attracts mould lines like poo gathers flies. I found it quite hard to work with. It also doesn't hold detail as well as the plastic that North Star or Games Workshop use, so it was very difficult to dot in the eyes on some of the sisters.

That said, I'm pleased with the result. They're probably not filthy and mad enough for Mordheim, but they do have some comically large weapons. 

Sunday 22 October 2023

Scinari Cathallar to Mordheim Augur

 This week I've had a change from the endless Stargrave explorers. A while ago, the local gaming shop (affectionately known as Notgames Workshop) had a sale of various models and games they couldn't shift. One of the boxes was a squad of "House Teknes Warsmiths" for the now-defunct game Wrath of Kings. 

I know nothing about this game, really. It seems to have had four or five rather weird armies, and the style of the models reminds me of both manga and Rackham's models for the old game Confrontation. The basic idea of these models seems to be that they're women in armour and robes, carrying big hammers. They also seem to have odd bits of machinery strapped to them: breathing apparatus, perhaps.

I thought they could be quite good to represent a Sisters of Sigmar warband in Mordheim. The Sisters were an order of martial nuns, who lived in a castle/monastery in the centre of the ruined city. They were the closest thing Mordheim had to an objectively good faction, and spent a lot of time smiting evil with hammers. More of them later.

I also bought an Age of Sigmar elf model called a Scinari Cathallar. Leaving aside the fact that this sounds like a painful medical implement, the Cathallar seems to be some kind of maudlin wizard. I thought that, when converted, she could make a good augur for the Sisters. The augur is a blind seer who wears a nightie-type gown and goes into battle barefoot and unarmoured.

This is a really lovely model weighed down with a load of useless detail. I cut off a lot of the fiddly bits, gave her a new head from Statuesque Miniatures, and replaced her bowl of smoking stuff with a mace. I mounted her on a ruined stone head scavenged from a Stormcast miniature.

I think taking off the extra bits and bobs really stresses the elegance of the miniature. 

I made a base from hacked-up bits of cork mat. This is a new technique for me, and I was interested to see whether it could be made to work. I stuck her on a lipped plastic base. I generally don't like these, but what the heck.

I wanted to use quite soft colours rather than the bright designs on other Mordheim models, and I was tired of painting things in shades of brown and beige. So I went for a soft blue. Here she is.

I'm really pleased with this one.