Thursday 28 December 2017

Dirty Spaceship

Some might call me a model-making dynamo, ceaseless in my quest to perfect my art. Others might be more realistic and just say that I need to get out more. Whichever is true, I've been using this holiday to crack on with some projects.

First up is the Mantic Interceptor spaceship. This is from their game Warpath and, like a lot of Mantic products, felt a bit primitive to begin with. However, it fitted together easily and was perfectly well detailed for what it is. I sprayed it white (it was grey plastic to start with), then washed it with a nasty mixture of brown paint and dark tone. Parts were then washed with grey.

I brought the colour back up by using white paint on a sponge. This is quite good as it doesn't leave too many lines, as painting with a paintbrush can do, and doesn't leave water marks, as washes can. I applied more white to the raised areas to represent light catching the upper surfaces, then added some small details such as windows and blackening around the engines.

It's arguably not the most exciting model ever, but I like the Star Wars-type styling of the ship and the fact that it's fairly easy to build and paint. Here's another picture.

I also managed to make some terrain. Thanks to my recreational misuse of Dettox, I've got quite a lot of stripped older models, some of which are out of scale or rather lumpy. I'm also not very interested in Space Marines, so I've got no great interest in making an army of them.

I stuck a marine on an MDF column and added some bits and bobs to suggest technology. I imagine that these grandiose statues aren't of much use to the citizens, and are now being used to support home-made tech that actually does something (probably involving stealing cable TV). That feels very cyberpunk to me.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Introspective Retrospective

Well, it's the right colour scheme for Father Christmas...

It's nearly Christmas and the year is almost done. The planet is just about still here and, given the current circumstances, I'd call that a success.

From my own point of view, it's been alright. My main achievement was to get the sixth Space Captain Smith book, The Pincers of Death, into print. People seem to like it so far, so that's good. I'm still not a multi-millionaire from my writing, which is less good.

 For no valid reason, I thought it would be interesting (for me) to look back at some of the better stuff I've made this year.

In January, I made the first entirely scratch-built model that I've ever done. It resembled a sort of mobile teacup, which was nearly what I intended.

Terrain piece of the year was the bar I made out of a GW ruin and some plasticard. Just the sort of place where everyone knows your name, assuming your name is "Oi, you".

In Summer, at long last, I got around to building the titan that I'd had knocking around for ages. It's probably not my best painting work, but I'm going to put it here solely because I'm impressed that I got around to finishing the bloody thing!

Sir Vaylance The Vigilant

In terms of individual miniatures, my favourites were the Carnivale nobles:

And this big green monster from Privateer Press:

But I think my favourite of all is the guy below. He's not all that exciting, but he was one of those rare moments where the conversion and the painting both go the way I wanted them to. I don't think I could improve him much and there's not much I'd change. So, beer-drinking cyborg guy, you are miniature of the year - at least by the standards of this blog.

Merry Christmas, and if I don't return to bother you before then, Happy New Year!

Saturday 16 December 2017

Big Things Needing Paint

I don't know much about design, but I find it interesting how the same visual styles end up being repeated over a range of games and franchises. Hooded monks, spindly elf-people with sniping weapons, Nazis in long coats and gasmasks, space knights in motorised armour, and many others crop up in dozens of different settings (and in big enough franchises, in different armies - see the wracks and arco-flagellants of Warhammer 40,000).

Anyway, this brings me on to a model that I got very cheaply a long time ago. It's a Privateer Press Cephalyx monstrosity, and definitely riffs off the executioner/wrestler/Frankenstein's monster look that a lot of bigger servitors from 40k seem to have.

It's actually a piece from a board game called The Undercity, and is made of a softer sort of plastic to usual, with a slightly rubbery feel. It didn't take paint very well, and wasn't easy to coat. I decided to paint him with yellowy-green skin, reminiscent of the Super Mutants from Fallout. He could have been less green and more yellow, but still, the shading has come off quite well.

Just in case all this model-making was getting too much like fun, I thought I'd rock out by compiling a list of projects I "need" to do. Over the last few years, I have acquired some large models for the inevitable excellent discount (and saved loads of money by buying them) - and then failed to put them together. Since I've got some time coming up over Christmas, I might as well finish some of them off.

1) Ork bomma. It's not a conversion but it certainly looks like one. I painted the pilot ages ago (let's call him Squiggles) but I need to finish off his gretchin gunner and the rest of the dodgy plane.

2) Metal dragon. A really old metal Warhammer dragon, complete with metal wings guaranteed to drop off at the first opportunity. This is one of those weird dragons that can't decide whether they're European or Chinese, and hence look like a big snake with diddy little legs. Utterly lurid paintjob optional but, let's face it, probably inevitable.

3) Big Mantic spaceship. This was going extremely cheaply as part of their Black Friday deal and, as with a lot of Mantic stuff, it was jolly cheap. I really like the idea of a big, lumpy, battered landing ship.

4) Privateer Press Pirate Robot Thing. It's a pirate robot with a cannon. It could so easily be a Bioshock robot with a drill. Either's cool.

 I think that should see me into the new year!

Oh, and here's a small update: I've been working on the heavy for the new gang. She's converted out of a Wrath of Kings model. The arms came from Dark Eldar, as usual, and the gun is a grenade launcher from a Tempestus Scion. She probably won't actually be carrying a grenade launcher - I just chose it because it looked cool. I used green stuff to bulk up her armour and to offset the worse effects of her crazy boob armour.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Even More Gangers

Even before his fall, the governor was known to be a worthless criminal: corrupt, stupid, incompetent, contemptuous of the poor and needy, prone to childish rages and blatantly in the pay of the forces of Chaos. He was also a dirty old man, and this combination of factors led to him being avoided and despised by all decent folk.

After an unfortunate incident in the Basilica, when Prioress Gwendoline the Irascible promised to hack off the governor's hands with a chainsword, the governor decided to simply manufacture himself a harem. Even the custom-built replicants were not having any of that, and they promptly overpowered their guards and took to the wasteland. Now, assisted by other renegades, they survive as soldiers of fortune, as you do.

I've now finished the five converted gangers based on Prodos Games models. I really like the Prodos miniatures: while the scale is slightly different to GW, the detail is excellent and, once they're painted to be wearing trousers, the design isn't too silly. As before, I've used Dark Eldar weapons and arms, to keep roughly in scale.
The rather solid lady on the left is carrying the equivalent of a shotgun. It probably fires glowing plasma, or something like that.

The fighter on the right - presumably a juve - was a more complex conversion, which involved replacing the upper half of the model's head with a lamp-type device from the corner of a terminator space marine's chestplate. I've no idea what this cyber-thing does, but it looks cool, and in the world of 40k, that's pretty much what bionics are for!

And now, time for a group photo:

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Red All Over

Another week toddles by pleasantly, livened up with mince pies and the works Christmas lunch. I've done another model for the gnoblar horde: this time, a mighty dragon to accompany the diminutive warriors to battle.

I'm pleased with him because at last I've found some decent red paint. The paint I've used is Khador Base, a Privateer Press colour, which has the added benefit of coming in one of those big pots with a flip-top lid, so you can feel that you're 15 again when you're painting (assuming you'd want to - in my case, I'm not keen. I was a right nerd back then - I was into painting miniatures, for goodness' sake).

This model was actually a Warhammer familiar. I think he needs a wash of purple to accentuate the shadows, but otherwise he's looking decent.

Next up is another ganger for the not-Escher gang. I've used a Hasslefree model for this person: I think it's "Wild West Boudicea", which is a rather odd concept really. Anyhow, I replaced some of her very flimsy Winchester to make a more space-age laser gun. I've never got why so many female models seem to have feet that point inwards. But overall, she should be a decent member of the gang.

I'm beginning to work out a backstory for these guys. I reckon they might be escaped replicants. All will be revealed soon enough, once I've made it up.

Wednesday 29 November 2017

A Goblin and a Plastic Lady

I've not done much painting this week, because I was away at a steampunk event in the space centre at Leicester (yes, Britain has one, although it's full of other countries' rockets). I have been able to paint another of the mighty goblin horde, and do some conversion work on one of the gangers for the not-Esher gang.

I seem to have about a dozen of this model, which looks rather odd unless you want to make a baggage train. I made him up as he came, although I swapped a severed head for the less grisly horned helmet you can see above. The shading on his skin really hasn't come out well.

This is the start of either a gang leader or a heavy (or just a random maniac). The lower body was from a Malifaux model (hence the tiny feet), the body and arms come from a harlequin, and the head is a Statuesque Miniatures female head. The umbrella was made from a Tau tank hatch and a bit of plastic drainpipe.

 It will all make sense in the end.

Friday 24 November 2017

One Big Nose

Years ago, I had an ogre army for Warhammer. Whenever you bought ogre models, they came with a couple of little minions called gnoblars, with which you could decorate the bases. Gnoblars were small, goblinish things, nearly useless in the game and prone to dying, running off or both.

Anyhow, reading the Tales From Farpoint blog reminded me that I've got a load of these little guys knocking around. I thought it would be nice to paint a few of them. As time's gone on, I've got less and less interested in huge warlords in armour, and more keen on wonky little creatures. I also had some bases from Renedra that weren't doing anything. So this seemed like a good idea.

The problem with gnoblars is that (1) they are very fiddly to paint, and (2) some of the detail isn't great. At least, that's my excuse. Here are the first two in what promises to be a mighty legion.

The guy on the left is hauling a keg of beer - or possibly gunpowder. The one on the right has a club about as big as he is. They weren't converted. If you can't see their faces very well, don't worry - nor could I. Essentially, they're one big nose.

I've got no idea if I'll continue with these or even if I'll be able to take any half-decent pictures of them. But they were enjoyable to paint. Perhaps I'll do a few more - when I'm not painting my Necromunda gang, my heap of Carnivale models, or the kilo or two of stripped metal miniatures. Oh dear.

Sunday 19 November 2017

And Now With Trousers

This week has been interesting, in that I managed to pull something in my back and get a splitting headache at the same time. Unfortunately, it meant that I wasn't able to go to Warfare in Reading, which last year yielded a vast amount of cheap conversion-fodder. I'm a bit annoyed about that.

Still, I have been able to make a start on a new Necromunda gang. Painting standing upright is strange: it's as if you're about to deliver a speech to the model you're holding, like Hamlet with Yorick's skull.

"To be or not to - sod it, I can't be bothered."

 I think the new gang is going to be all female, which I'm always a little unsure about. I'll have to come up with some sort of rationale for this. Anyway, at Newbury I acquired five Prodos games models which would be perfect as Escher-type gangers. I used Dark Eldar arms, because they are armoured but thin enough to fit the shape of the bodies.

The colour scheme was chosen simply because I hadn't used much blue before, and I wanted to avoid the brown and green style of my earlier gang, the Terror Bird Cavalry. I think the models are supposed to be wearing no trousers, but stuff that because it looks ridiculous.

This ganger uses dark eldar arms (they all do) and a head from a Hasslefree miniature.

This models is probably a juve, given her pistol. Her gun arm is dark eldar, and the mechanical left arm came from a Mantic robot with a space marine's hand. The box on her hip is from a Tempestus Scion. I need to do a bit more shading on her face.

 And this ganger has gone for the classic cloak-and-witchfinder-hat combo. Like all these models, the gun was trimmed of some of its twiddly bits, just to make it look more like a human laser gun rather than some strange elf weapon.

I don't want all the models to be Prodos conversions. I've got some suitable miniatures that could be juves or specialists, and I'm very tempted to make this into their leader:

It might take a bit of explaining, though.

Monday 13 November 2017

Deep Thoughts

More Carnivale this week, and this time around it's the Deep Ones. Unsurprisingly, the horrors of the deep have decided to colonise Venice. This is another great metal model, on a base made by Wyrd.

The base is so detailed that it's virtually a miniature in itself.

And the Deep One sits on top.

For a quarter of a ton of enraged sushi, he's a nice model. There are a lot of Deep Ones on the market, but Carnivale's version is the closest to my own mental image of these delightful creatures. I think he could do with a bit more of a highlight on his back scales, but it's hard not to make them too cartoony. I'll have another look tomorrow.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Two Narns, One Sheik and Some Coleslaw

Narns are chunky alien quadrupeds quite like small hippos. They are beige and greyish in colour, and they taste somewhat bland on their own. Narns are often preyed upon by phallhounds, and can be found around the edge of the Slurry of Curry, soaking up the atmosphere.

In the underhive, where conditions are not suited to larger animals, some locals have trained narns as beasts of burden, and equip them with body armour and metal cases to carry their supplies.

The narns were old epic squiggoths, which came broken. I used the two halves of a plastic barrel as their baggage containers.

Sheik Anvak is a mysterious man who leads a solitary life deep in the wastelands. Although he seems merely to be an old hermit, the raiders take pains to avoid him. Curiously, he never seems to be the man they are looking for. Some claim that he is an ancient mystic, but others whisper that he is really the dreaded crime lord Abdul Goldberg in disguise, lying low in preparation for some new criminal scheme.

Margarita Coleslaw is a respected trader and matriarch of the powerful Clan Coleslaw. The wastelanders say that if it moves, she can get a good price for it - which might explain where several of her more troublesome siblings have gone. 

The sheik was a model from the Spectre line. He was, unsurprisingly, a sheik. I made his hand a bit bigger to keep with the proportions of the other citizens. Madam Coleslaw started off as a Privateer Press miniature called Dannon Blythe. I repositioned her left arm so that she would have her hand on her hip. It was originally holding a sword on her shoulder, which was a bit medieval for my tastes. It's hard to see, but she is holding a coat over her shoulder. I really like the sculpting and the nonchalant style of the model.

Tuesday 31 October 2017

It's Carnival Season

As theatre-going becomes more popular with the nobility, the priesthood condemns playwrights for putting sex and violence on the stage. And they are right to do so: here we see Mr and Mrs Antoinette shortly after watching The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and his Enormously Bosomed Wife, armed and ready for violence on the streets of Venice.

Here are my first two Carnivale models. They are Barnabotti, apparently, and are the foot-troops of the nobility. I painted them in similar colours, to suggest that they are husband and wife, and mounted them on some Wyrd scenic bases. They took a long time to paint, but I'm really pleased with the results.

Mind the step!

Mrs A was slightly converted. Her arm was so spindly that her hand was just going to snap off, so I cut the arm above the shoulder and turned it so that her hand would rest on the front of her dress for extra stability. Otherwise, they are as they came from the box.

How dare you insult my nose!

Sunday 29 October 2017


It's been a slow couple of weeks or, more accurately, I've actually done something other than paint models in the last fortnight. To start with, after a lot of faff and delays, my new book is on the way to being in print.

Buy me!

My friend James came down and we played a few games, including Shadows of Brimstone and Space Hulk. Space Hulk is a funny game. While I can admit it's technical excellence, it is so completely unforgiving that I usually feel that I've basically lost in the first few turns, if not in the actual setting-up of the pieces. I enjoy it a lot, but it always feels like a last stand rather than a winnable game. Anyhow, it's a classic in its own strange way, and extremely evocative of what it's trying to depict.

I also started work on the old metal Carnivale models that I've been stockpiling. They're fantastic but very spindly and detailed. I'm taking it quite slowly because I want to do the best that I can. Hopefully, more of that soon.

The only thing I've made recently is this. It's based on a tractor from the 40k crane set, with arms from a set of plastic blobs I got down the art shop and a face cast in green stuff from a Reaper Bones model (the same one that I used for the shoulder pad of my titan).

My mental image is that the machine rolls around doing tasks, and that the face is the projected hologram of the tech-priest who controls it (and whose remains may be interred within). One of those odd 40k things that happen when you start holding the bits together. I'm not sure if the face and body go together (or clash interestingly) but I like both of them.

The painting isn't my best, but I wanted a rest from the detail of the Carnivale figures. I'd better get back to them while the light's still good!

Sunday 15 October 2017

Who Lives In A House Like This?

This week, I've been working on some terrain. First, I made some improvements on a large workshop that I first built years ago and, appropriately, have been tinkering with ever since.

It incorporates all kinds of stuff: boxes and yogurt pots for the main body, a fuel tank from Ramshackle, some kind of little resin bunker, a crane based around a sentinel cockpit, and what I think was once a movement tray from Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I added some more detail, tidied up the painting (to an extent) and made a few adjustments. Here’s a closer view.

I think it will suit my team of mechanics pretty well.

Every so often, I have a look for useful stuff in the local art shop. This time, I turned up some papier-mache boxes designed to be used as treasure chests. I thought they would look good as buildings, and used some textured plasticard to put together a lower floor under one of the boxes.

I added some random detailing and painted it to resemble the bright green favela-style house that I made a few months ago. I expect that even on Necromunda, there is a suitably vapid publication that shows off the homes of the rich and infamous. So, taken from the pages of Hell-O, here renowned gang leader Algebra Flaps shows us around his beautiful armoured hovel.


I forgot to add this! It's the completed dormouse in his automated teapot. Here he is.


Sunday 8 October 2017

Alice in Warhammerland

"When men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go..."

Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit.

Prompted by a comment on the Tears of Envy blog, and in a desperate attempt not to buy any miniatures for a little while, I decided to repaint my Alice in Wonderland inquisitorial delegation.
I first made these models about ten years ago. I have no idea why it seemed like a good idea to make 40k Alice back then, but it still seems like a good idea, and I still don’t know why. Perhaps Wonderland is in warp space or, more likely, warp space is in Wonderland. Perhaps I should go ask Alice: I think she'll know. Anyway.

Inquisitor Alice has seen it all. Nothing can surprise or bewilder here. She has passed through warp portals, consorted with the lords of chaos (over tea) and defeated not just demon princes but red queens.

Alice was converted from a flying sister of battle torso on an Eldar warlock’s lower body. It's hard to see, but her bolt pistol says "Fire Me" on the side.

Many daemonhosts attack their enemies with blasts of warp-force. The Cheshire Cat (or Grynx) uses the pure weirdness of its smile to mangle the brains of its enemies. Many who have seen this strange, teleporting being remain fatally confused, unable to banish the image of the cat from their minds long after it has disappeared.

The Caterpillar is a wise, if slightly over-medicated, savant, who draws inspiration from his hookah. He hovers on a xenos device and appears to be some kind of alien. His ready supply of medicine can enhance the accuracy of his comrades, much like a Jokaero engineer.

The cat was a GW model mounted on part of a plastic dryad. The caterpillar is a kroot body and arms with a Necromunda Millasaur’s legs. His head came from a chaos model, and his base is a Tau drone.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee are two modified ogryns, who provide long-range support with their gun arms. Whilst poorly-equipped in the brains department, they can be very handy, provided they can be persuaded not to bash each other.

When I first made them, they counted as gun-servitors. Now they would have to be acolytes, armed with storm bolters. The Tweedles (as played by Ray Winston on a bad day or Donald Trump on a  good one) started off as fantasy ogres, and their guns come from an Immolator tank.

If you can keep your head when all those around you are losing theirs... you’re probably the Queen of Hearts. Monarch and executioner, she serves Inquisitor Alice as a handy enforcer – although cutting the heads off the creatures of chaos isn’t a guarantee that they’ll stop so much as change.

The Queen of Hearts is an old dark elf sorceress with new weapons, made from Warhammer and sisters of battle bits. She functions as an acolyte.

If Alice brings order to the Warp of Wonderland, the Hatter exists for chaos. His complete lack of logic marks him out as a true servant of chaos, as demonstrated by his frequent demands that “All change!”

The Hatter (who looks quite a lot like Harpo Marx and slightly like me) is mainly made from old plastic Empire militia bits, with a storm bolter glued on and a hat and teapot made of Green Stuff.

And finally, I thought I’d add a new member to the crew. This is going to be the Dormouse, who lives inside a giant teapot. I made him out of a plastic rat from a skaven set. The teapot is largely leftover parts from the Wolsung giant golem, with a funnel and handle made from Necron and Dark Eldar bits.

Thursday 28 September 2017

Goats On The Racecourse

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Colours at Newbury racecourse to meet up with my friend James and buy a load of random stuff. Perhaps it was the subliminal influence of the horse racing setting, but I decided to purchase some animals for the post-apocalyptic town.

My haul ended up with a strange mixture of farmyard and Middle Eastern themes:

4 goats (Magister Militum)
A sheik (Spectre Games)
A camel loaded with provisions (Bitzbox: 2nd hand GW)
A Tallarn Desert Raider captain (likewise)
2 post-apocalyptic merchants (Lead Adventure)
5 berserker-type ladies (Dice Bag Lady: Prodos Games) which were going very cheap.

A slightly unusual haul, admittedly. I was also recognised by some guys from steampunk events at which I’d been selling books. Who would have thought that there would be an overlap between steampunks and wargaming?

Anyway, I painted up the goats. Everyone likes goats, even Satanists, so here they are.

I also painted the two merchants. The guy on the left is an electrician. I’ve attempted a bit of object source lighting but I’m not sure that it really works. The chap on the right is a car mechanic. I hadn’t realised that the Lead Adventure sculpts were so cartoony, but I really like the how full of character they are.

 And finally I painted these two. The woman on the left is a scavenger from Copplestone, I think. I did a small amount of converting on her: I filled in her chest to hide her gigantic cleavage (I think the torn pattered dress she’s wearing looks rather good) and used green stuff to hide the place where the end of her boot had come off, revealing her toes like a comedy tramp (I reckon that a half-feral post-apocalyptic survivor would either have two shoes or none at all).

The guy on the right was a GW chaos cultist with a flamer. I swapped his head with one from a Mantic soldier with a raised visor. He clearly spends his time cutting things up with his welding torch.

Next up, I’m considering tackling the camel (which is surely a euphemism for something very rude) or going back to my old Alice in Wonderland-themed inquisitorial warband. I also really ought to make a workshop for my mechanics to use.