Sunday 30 September 2018

My Big Dark Fantasy Novel

So, slightly different post here.

Both of you who read this blog will already know that I write books. More particularly, I wrote the Warhammer 40,000 novel Straken, about Colonel Straken of the Imperial Guard killing a lot of space orks, and the six Space Captain Smith books, about Captain Isambard Smith of the British Space Empire killing a lot of space ants.

Now I've got something else planned. In December 2018, I'll be releasing a new book onto Kindle. It's called Up To The Throne, and it looks like this:

Giulia returns to her birthplace to kill the man who scarred her and left her for dead - only to find that he is no longer a gangster but a powerful politician, and may be the only person who can save Pagalia from its enemies. As she carves her way closer to vengeance, it becomes clear that her revenge may destroy the entire city.

It's a dark fantasy story, a sort of revenge thriller set in a magically-supercharged Renaissance, full of clockwork tanks, haunted ruins, flying machines and a lot of menace and intrigue. I'm not that keen on the term, but if you want to call it Grimdark, feel free.

This is a first expedition into the world of self-publishing, and I'll update you guys as I go along. It's pretty daunting, to be honest, but I'm looking forward to it too!

Thursday 27 September 2018


Last week, I tidied my desk. Most of this involved clipping parts out of sprues and putting them into little plastic pots from Ikea: tedious, but strangely satisfying. Under the heap of parts, I found my old set of modelling tools in their sinister little roll.

Is it safe? Is it safe?

I got to work on a conversion that I'd had in mind for ages. A while ago, I'd purchased a box of broken Privateer Press models, which included a headless thing which I think was originally a bison with a saddle. Armoured legs were sculpted onto the saddle.

I used the head of an ancient (and not very good) orc boar, and blended it to the body with quite a lot of green stuff. I used a chaos knight's arms and torso, and added a Brettonian head for a suitably enormous helmet.

A few other bits were added, a base sculpted from a lump of clay, and then it was time to paint this chap. It took ages - every time I'd finished, I found something new. But I have to say that the result is decent. The bright colours and weird concept go together quite well, I think: he could work in either Mordheim or Frostgrave.

The mysterious knights of the ancient Order Of The Pork Rampant are known for riding enormous mutant pigs instead of steeds. While they are regarded as eccentric by their comrades, and are often the butt of sausage-related jokes, there can be no doubting their prowess in battle. Many a hungry orc, thinking himself about to get a cheap luncheon, has been horribly gored by the grunting warpigs of the Order. Here we see the bold knight Sir Plusse de Requirements, looking for glory while his steed looks for truffles.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Welcome to the Guard

While the effectiveness of the Imperial Guard has varied from time to time, it has always been an inescapable truth that the individual guardsman is crap. That's the point of the army, really: the Guard are (or is?) a horde army, using loads of little people to wear down the enemy by force of numbers. What this adds up to is that the average unit of guardsmen makes the cast of Dad's Army look like the Special Operations Executive.

Of course, in a smaller-scale setting, one man can make more of a difference. I found a few old Guard models, added weapons where necessary from the ever-excellent Genestealer Acolytes set, and painted them up to look like a second-rate security team, rather like the not-very-fearsome riot police in the 1970s Dawn of the Dead. I think the lack of uniform gear rather helps.

The other reason why they're in blue is that they don't clash too much with my genestealer cultists ("they don't clash" - what is this, a fashion show?), and so could pass as recruits if needed to bulk out the numbers. They've got similar (ie rubbish) stats to low-level cultists, and so could easily join the ranks with the rest of the cannon fodder.

I'm expecting a Beastie Boys cover out of these guys

These aren't the best-painted models I've ever done, but they'll be fine (probably). The face on the middle chap was either a bit miscast or not a great sculpt: I've done what I can, really.

The sunglasses are a feeble attempt to look tough and competent

These two look a bit more professional. They're still really old sculpts (they both appear in the ancient blue Citadel catalogue) but I added new plastic arms, which fitted remarkably well.

Last weekend I went to Colours at Newbury Racecourse. It wasn't quite as good for random broken stuff as last year, but I did manage to pick up a few decent things. One of them was this whopping great lump of resin in the shape of a Hummer armoured car. Ideal for the security forces, or the genestealer cult.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

A Few Eldar More

Here are a few more members of the Eldar squad. The first is another metal combat drone. This model is at least 25 years old, but I think it's still pretty cool.

The second two are based on Privateer Press Scyrah models. The first was converted to hold a modified Dark Eldar rifle, which was bloody fiddly. The second was given a left arm from an Empire spearman. I also cut the decidedly odd boob-plates off her armour and sculpted her a smooth chestplate from green stuff.

Again I went with a vaguely cyberpunk painting style, livening up the outfits with red details and trying to keep it as clean as possible.

I've given them unusual hair colours (at least, the ones who actually have hair) to make them distinct and to go with the futuristic style.

I'm actually not sure how many of these guys you'd have in a Kill Team squad, but six seems a decent number so far. I've also got some old dwarves to do for Frostgrave and a group of security guys based off Imperial Guard models for the town. It's a busy life painting little metal men!

Sunday 2 September 2018

War and Warpstorms - Eldar Mercenaries

As well as being the title of a long-lost Jane Austen 40k novel, war and warp-storms are a hazard to all spacefarers in the local system. They have trapped a small number of Eldar on the planet's surface. Although they tend to keep to themselves, the Eldar live on reasonable terms with the human population and are respected for their intellect, skill and delightful cheese and wine parties.

I find it very hard to resist the lure of broken miniatures. I recently acquired a load of broken Privateer Press models, including some characters from the Retribution of Scyrah faction. The Retribution are basically steampunk elves, but they don't have the archetypal steampunk look like many of the other Privateer models.

I didn't like their oversized weapons, but I thought that the basic models were really characterful and well-sculpted - much more so than most GW Eldar, which are fairly dull sculpts. So, I decided to add some different weapons where necessary and paint them as vaguely cyberpunk Eldar mercenaries.

This lady had a new sword and pistol. I really liked the complex armour on the model.

This guy is a sniper. He's a terrific miniature. I went with black on the gun instead of the usual metal, to suggest that it's very advanced.

I realise that the market for this is rather niche, but if you're wondering what the back of a space elf marksman looks like, here you go.

The last eldar so far is a GW model - but a very, very old one. Years ago, when you bought an Eldar dreadnought, you got a little robot dude thrown in for free. They were called combat drones, and I think they look awesome. I'm not sure why I like these models so much - I think it might be the sheer weirdness - but the Eldar mercenaries have a little robot friend.