Sunday 26 January 2020

The Wraith of God / The Wrath of Odd

After last week's post on the new Sisters of Battle book, I thought that I'd start work on some of the creatures that I'll be using in place of the acro-flagellant models. While I like the armoured sisters a lot, I'm less keen on the half-naked maniacs who seem to make up the majority of the Ecclesiarchy troops. I would have expected there to be more angry monks, for one thing.

For another, I've mentioned in the past that there are only a certain number of visual concepts to go around. The heavily-muscled, bionically-adapted gladiator/slave/executioner look is shared by a few factions, including the Dark Eldar and Adeptus Mechanicus. I think it would be cooler to have something entirely different.

The Sisters have a medieval, religious feel, and it makes sense (I'm using "sense" pretty broadly here) for their flying troops to have an angelic feel. Why not go one step further and have something like a horde of pissed-off angels? Something like this:

[Incidentally, I'll go on record as saying this this is one of the best moments of cinema I've ever seen. The technical skill in Raiders of the Lost Ark is amazing, whether it's in matte paintings, miniatures - or melting heads. The moment where the angel's face changes, and the score goes crazy, and the audience realises that these guys really are very screwed...]

These things could be the spirits of Sisters who failed in some way and were condemned to right their wrongs in the psychic afterlife, or else just fancied another go at trashing things. Certainly the statline of the arco-flagellants would work for an angry ghost, with their high movement, little in the way of toughness, but an invulnerable save from being ethereal.

I've used the fantastic Myrmourn Banshees from Age of Sigmar. Despite the weird name, they are great models and ingeniously designed. What's interesting about the kits is how much is actually "missing" and how insubstantial they look as a result, without losing their overall shape. The faces are clearly skulls, and the robes/skirts and armoured chestplates draw a visual link to the sisters models.

The models come with really nice sculpted bases, which again suit the feel and colours of my army. I trimmed an hourglass off one model, as it seemed unnecessary, but otherwise they're as they came out of the box. For anyone who doesn't like the bases, there's a post about rebasing these models by Rob Hawkins, here: HERE.

Of course, they could do with some protection while they're getting to the front line. Hmm, perhaps a suitable-decorated Rhino...

Thursday 23 January 2020

Old Metal Bloodletters and a Test Model for Reaper Bones Black

Anyway, back to the painting.

This has been a slightly quiet time for painting, as I've been doing a lot of writing, but I did manage to repaint four old metal bloodletters, which I probably bought when I was about 13. They're the first incarnation of bloodletters: incarnations 2 and 3 were big muscley creatures (3 looked somewhat like beastmen, and 2 just looked awful). Incarnation 4 are the spindly plastic models we have now, somewhat like a cross between a medieval devil and the Alien.

Clearly these are old models, and they're small and comparatively lacking in detail. The strange poses of old metal rather help them, I think, in that they look twisted and vicious rather than just angry and strong. I expected them to look dreadful against a modern bloodletter, but actually, they're fine.

Here are the first two, with their younger plastic friend.

And here's the second pair. The new bloodletters look like demons, and the old models look like a medieval person's drawing of new bloodletters.

And I also painted a random model from the Reaper Bones Black line. A long time ago, I bought a load of the white Bones models on Kickstarter. I came to the conclusion that, while they were essentially fine, they lacked crisp detail and had a lot of awful mold lines. Fine for big monsters, less good for characters and smaller models.

I bought one of the newer Bones Black models to see if the range had improved. I'm pleased to say that it has. This model is unconverted, and all I had to so was to undercoat it and cut off a few mold lines. Some of the detail around the leg was a big vague, but I think it's pretty reasonable overall. I could make out what everything was supposed to be, and the face, which has a nicely-sculpted smile, came out well. I've no idea what she's meant to be: I assume from her strange outfit that she's some sort of wizard or druid.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Sisters Of Battle Prattle

"Right, that's it, I've had enough."

Rejoice And Cease Thy Lamentations!

Last weekend, I managed to get hold of a copy of the new Sisters of Battle codex. This is quite exciting, since it's been about 20 years since my army got an army book (I used to play Bretonnia, too - I really know how to choose 'em). In fact, I think the Sisters of Mercy had a release more recently than the Sisters of Battle*.

Leafing through it, I'm both pleased and - not exactly underwhelmed, just not overwhelmed. It's pretty decent. Obviously it's nice to see the space nuns getting plastic kits at last. The new models look excellent and unsurprisingly have a level of detail and movement that you just don't get with old lead models. Some of the characters are pretty much dioramas in themselves. Also, the design style is good and thank goodness the sisters don't have high heels.

Someday... Dominions!

Interestingly, the look of the sisters has changed slightly in that they don't all have exactly the same face. The haircuts of the models have changed, suggesting that the 1920s/Cleopatra style** isn't obligatory, and many of the sisters in the recent artwork aren't white, either. Now the grim darkness of the far future is available to everyone, which is good unless you're in it.

That said, I'll be keeping with my metal army - yes, they're a bit dated, but they're perfectly workable, especially for bog-standard troopers. And I suspect that the new sisters would look weirdly large beside the older ones.

On The Duality Of Kitness

As with quite a few GW kits these days, some of the plastic kits have two options: you can make old Seraphim (jump pack sisters with pistols) or new Zephyrim (jump pack sisters with swords) and I expect the same kit will do both. Likewise the plastic (smaller and weedier) Penitent Engines can be used to make the new (very similar) unit of Mortifers.

There's also a new Exorcist, which is much like the old version except plastic and now probably lighter than a brick. It doubles as an Immolator, which is one of the few models I'm not that keen on: the new version has a huge stained-glass windscreen on the turret which looks awkward, even for an army this silly. Also, the Immolator is more or less the equivalent of a Space Marine Razorback: a Rhino with improved guns and reduced troop carrying potential. The new version costs £50. Ouch.

You're just being silly now

Bring Me Fresh Popes For The Holy Howitzer

This is all good, but I do feel that the new codex has missed a couple of opportunities. Compared to, say, Imperial Guard, it's lacking in range and variety. Compared to Chaos, it's really a bit samey. Also, some of the specialist units (Crusaders and Death Cult Assassins especially) are capped at very small sizes, which was never the case before.

It's missing two of the old special characters: the drunk-looking hermit Uriah Jacobus and his tidier space-pope colleague and book-waver Confessor Kyrinov. Also Canoness Veridyan, better known as the John Blanche picture on the 2nd Ed Sisters Codex, and Amalia Novena, better known as the sister off White Dwarf who's fiddling with her rosary, have disappeared. That seems a shame. And why can't the Ecclesiarchy take stupidly large chainsaws anymore? How will anyone recognise them now?

They could have put in rules for the old Repressor APC, or introduced a new big tank (perhaps some sort of mobile cathedral to rival the Land Raider) or included some kind of disposable rabble on a pilgrimage, like the old Frateris Militia units. Or how about a howitzer that fires popes? They could wear metal mitres for maximum impact. It could be called the cannon of canons. No?

Like this

Replacement Nudists

In terms of the look of the army, I've always preferred the power-armoured sisters to the other troops. The Sisters army has always had a Joan of Arc looking part and a crazy nude flagellant part, including the Repentia and Arco-Flagellants. Personally, the crazy nudists are much less my kind of thing***, although they are handy units in the game.

So instead, I'm going to have the Wrath of God in my army - more particularly, lots of small Wraths of God flying about the place and melting people's faces, as per Raiders of the Lost Ark. They could be the spirits of sisters who aren't going to let minor things like death get in the way of their duties. This would explain their speed, skill in fighting and lack of armour.

I think the Myrmourn Banshees from the Warhammer Nighthaunt range would work best for this: I'd hardly have to convert them at all. It doesn't hurt that they're really good models and extremely clever sculpts that really do look like animated bits of sheet. Hmm... the Wraith of God. I like it!

*If I'm not mistaken, the last specifically Sisters of Battle codex was in 1997, for 2nd edition 40k. The last codex they were in was Codex Witchhunters, in 2003. I may be wrong about this.

**According to the Jes Goodwin sketchbook I've got, the haircut comes from 1920s actress and pinup Louise Brooks, which is about the oddest 40k reference apart from the gay Victorian poet Lionel Johnson, author of "The Dark Angel".

***If you do like crazy nudists, may I recommend the novel God Emperor of Didcot by Toby Frost, which features Arwin Wainscott, commando and bare-arsed maniac?

Sunday 12 January 2020

Skullvane Manse (Well, Some Of It!)

Not by the hair on your chinny chin chin!

Skullvane Manse was a big terrain kit that came out in 2013 or so, a few years after the Empire Fortified Manor kit. In terms of design, it's somewhere between the earlier kits, with their Grimm's Tales/medieval look, and the later kits, which are a big pile of enormous skulls. Quite what use it would be on a Warhammer battlefield, I don't know, as it's really tall and I doubt units could really interact with it.

There's some cool stuff going on here, and some nice design - and it's all horribly undercut by those awful cheesy skulls. OK, a huge castle called Skullvane Manse (what is a manse, anyhow?) is probably not going to look like a 2-bed flat in Chelsea (and would probably cost a quarter of the price), but still, it looks silly.

Anyhow, ages ago I bought part of this kit for £20 on ebay. The bit I got was the main body of the model, minus the octagonal tower and the bridge at the bottom. I had a go at finishing it off a few years back, but it was a bit half-hearted, and this Christmas I tried to make it look properly good. I acquired a huge amount of coffee stirrers and, crazed on caffeine, got to work with sharp implements.

First up was making a ramp to the upper door, along with props to hold it up convincingly. Then I used green stuff to sculpt some bricks to fill in gaps around the stairs. After that, I built a wonky bridge, a handrail (which, in retrospect, looks a bit too solid) and a platform at the end. All of this was done with coffee stirrers. I made some metal strips to hold it together out of blister pack plastic, a trick which I stole off the Gardens of Hecate blog.

It's decently sculpted, but the casting feels a little bit primitive, and it's clearly made to take a certain amount of battering.

It's a long way down!

(Warning: pretentious arty talk ahead)

When converting a model, there is often a sense of movement to the miniature, which leads the eye of the observer from one point to another. In this case, the eye naturally follows the ramp up to the door, along the curve of the rocks sticking out from the side of the model and towards whatever's on top of the wooden supports. Basically, the platform just didn't look sufficiently interesting.

So, I added a cannon (thanks James F), and painted it in fairly bright colours to make it stand out. The cannon can be removed, and I'm planning to use the platform as a landing point for big monsters and flying machines. But for now the cannon - especially the shape of the gun carriage and the angle of the barrel - works for the platform.

And here's a view from the other side. I didn't fancy removing the skull, so I tried to minimise it with grass, to suggest that it was overgrown.

It certainly towers over the landscape!

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Elite Soldiers For Hardwired

A while ago, I painted up some old Sedition Wars models to function as soldiers for the cyberpunk game Hardwired. In Hardwired, successively tougher waves of baddies swarm onto the streets as the game goes on, and it made sense to make some larger troopers to support the rather scrawny little Sedition Wars men.

I bought a sprue of plastic Algoryn soldiers from Warlord Games' Beyond The Gates Of Antares. They're not the greatest of sculpts, but they are big and bulky, and have the sort of smooth, shaped armour that fits both the Sedition men and the cyberpunk look in general. As per their smaller comrades, I sprayed them white and applied Black Templar contrast paint.

It's not terribly subtle and it won't win any prizes, but it looks fine, and it works. Here's one of the new heavies next to a Seditioner.

I've had some other Algoryn metal models lying around for about a year, which I purchased in a sale. I took the chance to paint them up with the contrast paint. These are the bodyguards for an officer, who I'd use as a corporate or alien commander. They're clearly not human, and I painted them green, which does make them look slightly like old Doctor Who villains, or unusually fascist sprouts.

I really like the poses, especially the guard checking her earpiece. And here's the boss:

Anyway, I will leave you with a bonus photo of the Anata No Warehouse, a Japanese arcade modelled on the old Kowloon Walled City. This is how I imagine the game would look!

Prince Rupert

Here's the finished model of Warlord Games' Prince Rupert, leader of the Royalist cavalry from the English Civil War. I painted him very much as I felt and didn't attempt any historical accuracy.

He's assembled as per the standard model, although I replaced his small (and realistic) cavalry hammer with a slightly larger Warhammer axe for drama. The model also came with Prince Rupert's dog, who I haven't added as I wouldn't have had room on the base.

It's a very good sculpt, and I particularly like the leaping horse. I'd like to say that he was a pleasure to paint, but frankly the model was terrible for paint chipping off. That said, I'm pleased with the painting, especially of his horse.

Friday 3 January 2020

"I love mince pies, it is nice"

So, it's a new year and, on wargaming blogs, that tends to involve taking stock of the previous year's painting and looking forward to the next twelve months. Unfortunately, two weeks solid of cheap wine and Christmas food have left me incapable of saying anything deeper than "I love mince pies, it is nice", so here are some chaos marines instead.

These are the plastic models from the Shadowspear box - two sets of the guys fitted out for close assault, to be precise. I have painted them in the vaguely-Black-Legion scheme that I've used before, although these guys have a bit less metal and more gold than their shooty comrades. I did wonder about painting them as Khorne berserkers, but I didn't want them to be red and the berserker helmets look a bit silly to me, so here they are.

Again, I've gone for an unnatural blue colour for the skin, vaguely inspired by the funny men from Prometheus (I'm sure that's not what they were credited as, but you know what I mean). I did a few head swaps in the unit, and one of the champions got an executioner-type hooded helmet from an old Dark Angel, but otherwise, they're pretty standard.

I think GW have done a really good job on the new chaos marines. They're a bit bigger than before but not silly, and they look mean without being covered in spikes and (surprisingly) ridiculous amounts of skulls. I've now got 20 of these chaps painted, along with a dozen old school marines and six chosen chaps. That's a decent horde. I love them almost as much as mince pies.