Monday, 27 April 2020

"They Laughed At My Camel"

I'm still looking through my boxes of unpainted miniatures, many of which I picked up at events purely because I thought they looked cool. I found a camel among them, which I got at an event in Newbury for reasons that I've long forgotten. My main memory is the guys I was with saying "Why the hell would you want that?"

I also happened to pick up an old and broken Necromunda juve in a sale of various old models on ebay. I like some of the old juve sculpts: they have some good poses and expressions. This guy, who is from House Cawdor, was missing his pistol and most of his left hand. It occurred to me that he looked rather as though he was pulling hard on something instead of bracing himself against the recoil of his vanished gun.

So, I put him together with the camel. I drilled a hole in the juve's hands and the camel's harness and connected them with some string. Then I used green stuff to repair the juve's hands, so he would be clutching the rope with both hands, trying to get the camel to move. In my first attempt, the camel didn't quite look stubborn enough, so I cut its neck and bent it back slightly.

Here's the end result.

I doubt he'd have any function in a game, but he could make for a reasonable objective.

I've got a few other models that would work as desert-dwellers and other folks from a supply caravan. I might have a go at making a group of caravaneers.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

From Commissar to Rogue Trader

I'm working my way (very slowly) through my huge box of models that seemed a good idea to purchase at the time. One was a commissar-lord that I got cheaply, because he didn't have any arms. Now, for ages I've wanted to make a model of Isambard Smith, the hero of the books I wrote a while ago (which you can buy HERE if so inclined. They're very funny, I promise). Smith looks rather like this:

I thought that with a bit of work the Commissar might be quite good - not as Smith himself, but as a sort of Warhammerised version. With that, I de-skulled the model, so he'd look more like a Victorian and less like a Nazi, and added some arms from the excellent Tempestus Scions kit and a sabre that I cut from a sprue of Waterloo-type people (goodness knows where I got them from).

Then it was just a matter of painting him. It made a change to be painting an SF model in bright colours, but there's a hell of a lot of detail on this chap, and it took ages. Still, I'm pleased with the result, especially his face. He isn't Space Captain Smith, but if there's a Rogue Trader Smithius out there, this is him.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Chaos and Order: Two Heroes

After that strange interlude, "normal" service has now been resumed. Here are a couple of random models that I've painted in the last few days.

First we have an adventurer, made from High Elf legs and feet, Skitarri arms and coat, and a Statuesque Miniatures head. Her gun was made from two Skitarri weapons mixed together, and her bag came from a Hasslefree miniature.

I started painting her before I realised that her outfit reminded me of a well-known Disney character. So I went for that colour scheme. I'm very pleased with the shading on her skirt, from dark to light grey. Perhaps in the future, I will add a canopy to her gun to turn it into an umbrella.

Next is one of the old Chaos Chosen models that I've been slowly painting, ever since I got them about ten years ago. This one has a great big axe and a lot of bones on his armour, and could make quite a decent Master of Executions for the chaos army. As ever with these models, he's a really good sculpt, miles better than the regular chaos marines of that time. He was a bit tricky to paint, just because he's so very detailed.

Next time, more random models!

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Where are my pictures?

This morning, I found that eight or nine of the pictures on this blog had been removed and replaced by a "not working" symbol. A friend looked and confirmed this on his computer. I've seen this happen on one or two other blogs as well, so I think it must be a problem with Blogger itself.

Obviously at the moment, these posts are pretty much my only hobby output apart from making the actual models, and commenting on them and other people's work has become more important. It would be a shame if it didn't work anymore.

Hopefully this will just be a temporary thing - I've replaced some of the pictures and they seem to be okay. But we'll see what happens. If everything gets back to normal, I'll probably delete this post.

Friday, 17 April 2020

Chaos Rhino

I dug out a very old Rhino from the back of a cupboard and decided to give it a repaint. It came with spaced armour, which was made of lead and meant that the model almost weighs as much as a Sisters of Battle Exorcist tank.

Long ago, I did some conversion work to this thing, and quite a bit of what I did now involved repairing my earlier, slightly cack-handed efforts. I ended up building a havoc missile launcher out of plasticard and old tank parts, and adding some sandbags to the top, which came off an old Italieri model house (of which more later, when I get round to it). They're not strictly in the right position, but this is 40k, where nothing makes much sense, and they fitted so well that they had to go on.

I painted it to fit in (roughly) with my chaos marines. Rhinos are always rather boring, and I'm not that keen on the highly-converted sorts that a lot of chaos armies use, with fangs, piles of skulls and dribbly Nurgle bits (each to their own, though - I've seen some excellent conversions like that). So I went for a battered, brutal look, as if it's been around the block as well as in Hell. Overall, I think it probably is a bit low-key, but I didn't want to overwhelm it. Anyhow, it looks like this:

Of course, Rhinos have always been too small, and I doubt a modern chaos marine could fit into this thing even if he took the horns off his helmet. My solution is that either the Rhino contains a warp portal that makes the troops magically appear within three inches of it, or that they use the magnetic soles of their space-boots to stick to all that extra armour as it zips them across the battlefield.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Peter Cushing, Wargamer

We're in good company! Here is a Pathe News video about the actor Peter Cushing - best known for playing Frankenstein and Van Helsing in Hammer films and Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars - painting some model soldiers and then gaming with them. If you're wondering why wargaming is stereotypically done by blokes, blame H.G. Wells!

Monday, 13 April 2020

Chaos Venomcrawler Conversion

Being stuck here under the ongoing quarantine, I've managed to start some projects that I've had lying around for a long time. Years ago, a friend in the US sent me some random pieces that I could use for conversions. Among them was a spider-shaped robot, which I think is a Russian toy called something like Robo-Clix. I had the body of a Mephitic Blightcrawler lying around, and I thought it would be "nice" to combine the two.

I mounted this thing on a resin base that I got for a few pounds off ebay. I don't usually go for skulls on bases, but I added one to give the machine a sense of scale. I used some garden wire to connect the two halves of the model - presumably pipes that supply it with unnatural nutrients.

The cockpit of the toy part became a tank of foul gunk: after all, it started gross, and might as well get grosser. I painted the flesh using a red undercoat and purple washes, for additional unwholesomeness. The armour will fit in with my not-Black-Legion colour scheme. Here is the creature's enthusiastic face, full of glee about... doing something nasty.

As luck would have it, the new chaos codex (the one they released about two days after I bought the old codex) contains something called a Venomcrawler, which is basically an enormous robot spider. So this weird thing will be joining the ranks of the chaos horde. I'm sure they'll be delighted to have it there.

Friday, 10 April 2020

Blackstone Fortress - The First Few Expeditions

The heroes: "UR-025", "Espern Locarno", "Janus Draik" and "Dahyak Grekh".


Last year, I was looking for one-player games, and I bought a copy of Blackstone Fortress off ebay (minus the miniatures, which I could proxy from my own collection of random space people). I later decided that I'd wasted my money, but in the current circumstances it has come to seem like a pretty good use of £20. The pictures throughout this post are from my collection of models that I've been using as proxies.


Blackstone Fortress is a strange game: it's like a skirmish wargame pretending to be a dungeon crawler. You control a group of four explorers, who are looking for treasure in a space station. In the process, they fight villains and gain items. What it isn't, however, is a literal mapping-out of the floorplan of the station like, say, Advanced Heroquest. Instead, the overall story is described by cards, which consist of either a "challenge" (this usually involves rolling dice to avoid taking damage) or a "combat", where you set out a network of floor tiles as required and fight your way through a horde of baddies to the turbo-lift on the other side. As such, there isn't the same feeling of moving forward and discovering what the next room is like, which I find a bit unsatisfying.


The mechanism by which the characters move and fight in the combat sections isn't anything like that in GW's big games. Instead, it's about expending dice to do things. You roll the dice at the start of each turn, and the things you can do depend on the numbers rolled (there's also a pool of spare dice that everyone can use). So it's about managing your resources of dice to make the most out of your characters' skills. As you might expect, some characters are tough and deadly, others are more about defending and assisting than actually fighting, and some do crafty things that tweak the rules involving turn order, and so on. As characters take damage, they lose dice, and so a character who loses two wounds will lose two dice. In other words, they start off quite good, and if they get hurt, they become a liability very quickly.

Blackstone Fortress is, I think, a reasonably hard game, and wouldn't be easier with more players. It works fine once you've got the hang of the rules, but they aren't very well laid out: what it lacks is a strong, immediate sense of what we're doing and why. I was two missions in before I realised that one of the key aims was to pick up the deployment markers in each combat zone.

A typical day in the Blackstone Fortress

My little team (chosen solely because they resemble the main characters from the Space Captain Smith books) has done reasonably well so far. But it doesn't feel as if they'll get much better. It'll be interesting to see how they fare in future expeditions. £20 well spent, I think.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Serelia of Zimmendell (and some wells)

This week I repainted an old model that I've had since I was 15, when my friend Tim gave it to me (thanks Tim). It's another of the Heroes For Dungeonquest miniatures (I'd really like to get all of these one day) called Serelia of Zimmendell. I really like this model. It's sculpted in a pretty old-fashioned style, but I really like the dragon curled around her legs and the way that she's looking into a crystal ball. I've painted her twice before, and I'll probably end up doing it again one day!

Also, I made three wells that came free with the Carnivale kickstarter. They're made of MDF with greyboard details. I don't usually like greyboard, as it feels a bit flimsy and is slightly nasty to the touch (not sure why, though, as it's basically card). However, these went together easily and have good details.

The only problem was that I lost a couple of side pieces from one of them, so I improvised and made it into a ruined well. I used bits of cork for the rubble.

Saturday, 4 April 2020

A Fantasy Novel For Free

Being the kind of idiot that I am, I completely forgot to mention that my novel Up To The Throne is currently free on Kindle. It'll be free today and tomorrow, and funnily enough I highly recommend it. So, if any of you fancy reading a Mordheim-meets-Assassin's-Creed type story of murder, magic and revenge, please click the link below.

Up To The Throne on Amazon

Giulia Degarno returns to the city-state of Pagalia with one intention: to kill the man who scarred her and left her for dead. But Publius Severra is no longer a mere criminal, and has risen to become a powerful politician - and perhaps the only man who can save Pagalia from anarchy. Now, as Severra stands poised to seize the throne, Giulia must choose between taking her revenge, and saving her home.

I can't see how you would regret it.