Saturday, 31 July 2021

Another Weird Rider

 Most of the time, I work on one model at a time. However, sometimes I'll chip away at a miniature a bit at a time, in between making other things. 

I've been making another weird rider for a while. The basic steed was a de-boobed steed of Slaanesh. The rider's lower body and head came from a high elf wizard. The hardest aspect of the conversion was getting the legs to sit on the steed. I had to cut away quite a lot of its hips and thighs - too much, actually, as I had to fill some of the legs with green stuff. The legs still didn't quite meet, and I ended up using Das clay to smooth it all together.

The upper body came from an old plastic eldar, and the arms were skitarri (I've got a lot of use out of that kit!). I had to bulk out the waist with clay and some space marine boxes, as it looked rather spindly and didn't fit the robes. I chopped off the top of the helmet to get away from him being a pure high elf, and as a nod to the big, flat-topped hats favoured by some of the characters that the artist Moebius draws.

As with the other riders, I used a similar colour scheme to that in Moebius cartoons. I wish I'd kept some work in progress pictures of this model, but I'm pleased with the outcome. 

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Vampire Sniper (and some random thoughts about blister packs)

This week's random person from the bitz box is some kind of vampire marksman (well, markswoman). I just sat down with a load of old bits and stuck them together until something interesting happened.

The model's upper body uses a dark elf corsair chest and cloak, with an enormous jezzail-type gun from the Adeptus Mechanicus skitarri, and a head from one of the Age of Sigmar Stormcast Eternals. The lower body was made from scratch.

Here's the start of the lower body: a piece of sprue pinned to the base at a suitable angle.

Here, I've added some Das clay around the sprue to make the rough shape of the skirt. I wanted it to follow the direction of the cloak and the jezzail. Once the clay is dry, I painted it with thinned-down PVA glue for a bit of extra solidity.

And here it is with green stuff wrapped around it and pulled into folds, next to the upper body. I sculpted a foot but later redid it to be a boot. 

Then I stuck the two halves together and added paint! A dark, vampirish scheme seemed right.

After a close call with the local vampire-hunters, the Lady Louisa needed for an easier way to feed off human life-force. The traditional method of neck-biting was too risky, but her considerable alchemical skills enabled her to develop an enchanted rifle that would steal the vitality of each victim it killed. Now she works as a sniper for hire. Living in the shadows has never been more profitable.


Over the last year or so, it's been possible to buy individual models for the skirmish game Carnevale from TT Combat's website. Human-sized models tend to be between £5 and £8, which is a decent price. This week, TT Combat proposed stopping this, and making the models available in groups, costing £15 or so. This got me thinking about models and the way I buy them.

A lot of this hobby is nostalgia. There's the pleasure of building and painting a model well, the sense of escapism that you get from the hobby, and the nostalgia for making little armies when I was at school. We used to build up small armies, paint them terribly, and then play battles with a very limited grasp on the rules. Once a month, we'd read the new White Dwarf and see what brightly-painted miniatures had come out for the three armies that GW seemed to care about.

I also have considerable nostalgia for the experience of buying miniatures as a kid. You'd pick through great rows of dangling blister packs and fork out £5 or so, often for some random thing that happened to look good (back in the days, there weren't any army lists). I bought two zoats and a genestealer patriarch that way. They were impulse purchases, and they rocked.

It's very hard to do that now. Most GW character models are at least £15 each (usually more) and rank and file models of almost all systems come in boxes for £20 or so. If you want to buy some random cheap thing that just looks cool, you've usually got to look on ebay, which is much less fun than going to the local model shop.

Is there a point to this rambling? Not really, just that I miss that sense of wandering to the shops with a bit of pocket money, to purchase some interesting monster or space explorer. Last month, I found a plastic bag marked "£6" at the local shop. It contained two metal robots. I've no idea who the manufacturer is. I bought them anyway, and felt very pleased with myself. One day I might even paint them!

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The Path To Gory Glory

 I thought it was time that I finished up the various Chaos models that have been lurking half-finished on my desk for months. So, here we go.

It is said that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. If you're a chaos cultist, however, it's probably paved with bits of other cultists, who are just as disposable as you. The Imperium is crawling with criminals, lasgun nuts and crazies who think Horus should be emperor, and it only takes a small push to send these dupes rushing forward to soak up some bullets for the chaos gods.

This guy was made out of a metal Catachan torso that I got in a job lot. For some reason, he was missing both legs and one arm. I added plastic Catachan legs and a sword arm from an old chaos marauder (they're the only models with muscles as silly and over-developed as the Catachans). Now he is leading his colleagues forward to glory (ie horrible death).

Many chaos marines are veterans of the Horus Heresy, or are renegades who have defected from the Imperium. After all, the Imperium is already halfway to being a hellhole, so you might as well go the whole hog and fly your spaceship into a literal hole to Hell. On occasion, the chaos powers themselves will conjure up a marine from scratch, and once in a very long while, a cultist might even survive long enough to ascend to the ranks of marinehood.

These two marines combine old parts with new arms. The chap with the meltagun has an ancient body (probably from before 2000) and arms from the newest set of marines. They go together surprisingly well. The missile launcher bloke was made from a mangled metal model of Kharn the Betrayer, again from around 2000, which was missing its head and both arms when I got it. I added a missile launcher and backpack from the new marine set. His head was from a fantasy chaos warrior, mainly because none of the heads with horns would fit, and I gave him an ork topknot as a plume to make his head more interesting. Interesting how models that are over 20 years old can still work well with new parts.

Most chaos marines honour the chaos gods equally (or just despise everyone). Some choose to devote themselves to a particular god, such as these plague marines of Nurgle. The rewards for doing so are great, and include rusted weaponry, broken armour and hideous blobby growths. Awesome!

These are older plague marine models. The standard bearer and plasma gun man are from around 2000, and the little chap with the nurgling on his shoulder is even older: he appears in the blue catalogue from the 1990s. The tubes coming from plasma gun man's helmet had been hacked up, so I sculpted some unpleasant biological pipes instead. The standard bearer had a couple of rusty spikes added to his shoulder pad, to mimic the ones on his banner and helmet.

The really old marine wasn't converted, but I'd been saving him a suitably ancient backpack, which turned out to be very big and which attached at a weird angle that I didn't like. Instead, I gave him a leftover backpack from the old Dark Vengeance set, which is smaller and fits the model very well. He's especially dinky, and his two friends are noticeably smaller than the current batch of plague marines, but maybe Nurgle has favoured them with a delightful shrinking disease. That's the great thing about chaos - anything goes, and it usually goes very wrong.

And then, after many centuries of raising Hell and dodging spawndom, a chaos marine may rise to commanding his own squad - perhaps his own warband and a deeply unwholesome familiar. Best of all, such a warrior will receive a helmet worthy of his status. Lucky chap!

This is the last of the five champions based on Havoc bodies. He's huge, like the other ones in the group, and I'd probably field him as a terminator. This guy has arms from the new chaos marine sprues, a backpack that I've had lying around for ages, and a completely ridiculous helmet that once belonged to a fantasy chaos knight. I modelled him shaking his fist, for maximum arch-villainy. He'll be indestructible, provided that he never nods again.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

House and Cart

 This week I've been painting another of the Mantic terraincrate models, a horse and cart. This was made of the same rubbery plastic as the stalls and, while nowhere near as warped, was slightly out of shape. I made a small base for the horse out of plasticard and glued its feet to the base, which got rid of some slight bendiness in the legs. The poles at the front of the cart were a bit bent too, but I was able to straighten them out with hot water.

There's not much to say about the painting: I did the horse in a reddish colour to avoid it all just being brown, and went for a vaguely shire-horse look. It's not terribly exciting, but it's functional and will be useful as either an objective piece or some more cover.

The next bit of terrain is big, but was quite easy to make. It's a three-storey house I found on ebay, by Krysoff Designs and made of laser-cut MDF. It came painted, in that the outside walls were sprayed off-white and the timbering was sprayed brown. Also, the roof tiles (which are greyboard) came in strips. All of these were considerable time-savers when I was putting the thing together.

It assembled pretty easily, overall. I did a bit of extra shading and weathering on the wood, and I cut the ends off some of the tiles to make them look less even and more decrepit. I felt that the roof was a little bit bland, so I made a dormer window and the bases of two chimneys from card and scraps of MDF cut from the sprues. Cue awful WIP picture:

The chimneys were made from a pillar and the bottom half of a font-type object, both of which were from Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures. They have a nice ornate Tudor feel. I also added some detailing in the form of shields and a sword to make it feel a bit more Warhammery, and I made door handles from the horns on an old chaos warrior's helmet, along with plasticard hinges.

Overall, I'd recommend this kit. It went together reasonably well, it's big and well-designed in terms of looks, and it was easy to customise. The pre-painting and the pre-cut roof tiles were a huge help as well. The three storeys add some height to the town, and there are floors, so people can shoot out the window if necessary. What more could you want in a home?

Friday, 9 July 2021

Market Stalls

 In the distant past, I signed up for a Kickstarter for Mantic Games' "terraincrate": basically, a load of discount fantasy terrain, most of it fairly small. I thought it was about time that I painted some more of this stuff up. I decided to do the two market stalls that came in the Kickstarter.

Terraincrate scenery is made of some kind of rubbery plastic: pretty durable if dropped on the floor, and capable of holding a good quantity of detail. The more solid bits are generally excellent. Unfortunately, it's extremely succeptible to warping. The two market stalls had good canopies and twisted, unworkable frames. Even if I could straighten them out, they would be very wobbly and prone to bending.

I decided that no amount of boiling water was going to sort this out, and that I'd need to replace at least some of the frames with something more solid. Time to chop up some wooden drink stirrers! 

I made new columns to hold the stands up, and little wooden bases so that they'd be more stable. For extra solidity, I added cross-pieces at the top, which would be hidden by the canopies, and glued them to plastic bases. Much more sturdy.

Then it was a matter of painting them. I went for pretty standard colours: for some reason, red and white stripes seemed like the default colour for one of the stalls, and blue and red looked suitably vibrant for the second stall. 

Not bad!

Now, having spent the first part of this post pointing out the problems with terraincrate, here's something that I really like. To go with the stalls, I painted up two terrain pieces of "goods": sacks, boxes and barrels heaped together. It was tricky to work out what some of the fruits and vegetables were supposed to be, but I went for fairly bright colours to offset the brown wood and cloth. The piles of "dust" were painted to look like sugar and spices.

And here are the new bits in the town. Clearly it's market day!

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Home On The Strange: Weird Riders

 A lot of the time, I'm making models for a specific army project: at the moment, Chaos and Tau. But every so often, it's a matter of looking at the bits boxes and thinking "What would be fun to make now?"

This was definitely one of those moments. I'd had some steeds of Slaanesh knocking around for a while, and, while I like the models, I'm less keen on the daemonettes that ride them. So, I decided to use the steeds as the riding-beasts of some other models, in some kind of weird science-fiction way.

The first step was to carefully de-boob the steeds. I cut their tongues off too: too many Warhammer monsters have their tongues out. Otherwise, they were put together as usual.

I made two riders. The first had the legs of an eldar guardian (not much else would fit around the steed's body!) and the upper body of a long-trashed Mordheim soldier. The arms came from a Skitarri ranger (I really wanted the ornate scrollwork on the gun), and the head was from an old Warlord Games Russian soldier. 

The second rider would be a robot, slightly like IG-11 from The Mandalorian TV show. His lower body came from Necron parts: specifically, the broken necrons on the Ghost Ark. I got them ages ago in a sale of other bits, and at last I've found a use for them!

His upper body was all kinds of stuff. The arms came from an Imperial Guard stormtrooper and an old Eldar; the head was some sort of Tau device, and I've no idea what the chest and backpack were. With the help of a wheel from a 10mm tank, they looked reasonable, as if he'd been in a few fights and done a few repairs to himself.

The paint scheme was very much inspired by the pictures of Moebius, who I've mentioned before (HERE). I used bright orange and red contrast paint on the steeds to distance them from the usual pink and purple of Slaanesh, and used blue, white and purple normal paint on the riders, along with some fading. They're weird, but I like them!