Saturday 30 December 2023

Introspective Retrospective 2023

 So, 2023 comes to an end. It's been a fairly drab one here in the UK, and hopefully 2024 will be an improvement. I've had a busy time making models this year, and here are the highlights.

For me, 2023's big project has been retro Eldar. I've painted a lot of models, including some great Jes Goodwin metal miniatures. I went for colours inspired by old, trippy science fiction, especially the pictures of Moebius, Chris Foss and Roger Dean.

Here are some vehicles.

Converted "Vitriol" skimmers

Converted jetbike squad

Wave Serpent

Another Wave Serpent

And some infantry:


Fire Dragons

Swooping Hawks


And a couple of oddities, which aren't GW models but still work for the Eldar:

Not a Grynx

Not a Farseer


So, that's the Eldar. I also did some other models. I painted a rather stoned-looking dragon that I'd had knocking around for ages:

I also made a couple of gangs for Mordheim:

Heavily-converted Sisters of Sigmar

Marienberger mercenaries

But really, I save the silliest for last. I made a model of the Black Beast of Aaargh from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Most of it was sculpted by me, except the head.


The final thing isn't a model at all. It's a book called Legion of Bones, the third in my fantasy trilogy Dark Renaissance. It's a tale of murder and intrigue, set against a massive uprising by a horde of undead. All three of my fantasy novels are available HERE  - trust me, I'm a much better writer than I am a painter.

So it's been quite a busy year. I'm pleased with the progress I've made in painting. Eldar are rather unforgiving models, and require a "clean" painting style that I find tricky. I've really enjoyed painting them, and making the kind of army that I would have really liked to own thirty years ago!

Here's my favourite model of this year, the leader of the converted Vitriol squad. I hope you have a very happy new year, and lots of enjoyment and success with your models in 2024. 



Friday 29 December 2023

Fire Dragons

 Back to the Eldar again, and this time it's the turn of the Fire Dragons. The Fire Dragons were one of the original six aspect warriors in the first Eldar codex (I'm not counting the Shining Spears, who had rules but no models). They carried meltaguns and were nominally supposed to destroy large monsters and vehicles, which I suspect happened a lot more in theory than in practice. 

Anyhow, here are mine. I used a brass/bronze look for their helmets, as it's easier to paint than yellow, but otherwise they're quite like the ones from the old codex.

I've still got the exarch for these guys to paint, who will be a little more elaborate. As ever, they're Jes Goodwin models and they're really nice!

Saturday 23 December 2023

A Dock for Mordheim

 For a long while, I've thought it would be cool to add a dock to my Mordheim/Frostgrave terrain. This would involve making some raised levels to represent the harbour wall and the dockside, and would be quite a big job. This week, I finally got around to it.

First, I ordered some foam from ebay. I thought that I was getting foam blocks that I could sculpt into shape, but unfortunately I ordered the wrong thing and got a lot of sheets of foamboard instead. This is basically two sheets of card with foam in between. Oh well. I thought that I'd make the most of it and use that instead.

I bought some textured plasticard from a model shop and got to work.

The first thing to do was to cut the shape of each dock piece (three in total) out of foamboard. They're basically upturned boxes. I stuck pieces of plasticard onto the boxes to represent the upper surface and to hide the joins down the sides. (By the way, use superglue. Plastic cement melts the foam.)

The plasticard was already textured, but for the walls, I scored a brick pattern into the board with a knife (be careful not to cut too deep). Then, to make the bricks look more rounded, I went over the scored marks with a ballpoint pen. This widens the cut and pushes the "bricks" apart. With a base coat of (unsurprisingly) grey, the dock pieces all looked like this:

I then painted it grey and put a lot of washes on. Because of the sea, I used quite a bit of green further down the wall, to suggest algae. 

I added some details with bits and pieces. First, I made a load of little rings that boats could be tied off to (or tied up to or some other preposition). This was done by cutting a square of plasticard for the back piece, then gluing on a ring of thin wire that I bent around a paintbrush handle. The gap was covered in green stuff. 

I also made some mooring posts. These were very simply map pins pushed through plasticard squares and then pinned onto the dock pieces. Little blobs of superglue were added to the rings and posts to suggest bolts. They were painted in a rusted metal colour.

I added a bit of detail to the first dock piece with two baskets of fish left over from the Lord of the Rings River Town houses.

This piece got a bit of string wound around one of the mooring posts, partially to make it more visually interesting and partly to make it clear what these things are for.

Bits of grass (made from sliced-up basing tufts) were pushed into the bigger gaps between the stones, to give the impression that I'd honestly intended them to look like that.


I've been plotting this piece of terrain for a while, and I bought an Age of Sigmar terrain set ages ago to go with it. Two statues were included in the terrain set, which I separated from the kit and put onto Warmachine bases. I painted them to look like tarnished bronze. They will be looking over the harbour.


And this is the finished dock!

It been quite an epic project but I'm really pleased with the end result!

And on that note, it's almost Christmas. So, a very happy Christmas to you all!

Sunday 17 December 2023

More Lowlifes For Stargrave

 Just a fairly quick post. I've been working on some scenery for my Mordheim/Frostgrave town, but it's quite big and will require more explanation. In the meantime, I've finished off a unit of bandits, cultists, maniacs and traitors, largely based around the Stargrave Scavengers plastic kit. Here they are:

Also, I made a couple of space weirdos from the Frostgrave female barbarians sprue. They converted surprisingly easily, with a little cutting and green stuff.

Monday 11 December 2023

Archira Pt 2

 Having built the chassis of the jetbike, it was time to make a rider. I had the upper body of a warlock left over from a conversion, and some Guardian legs that would fit onto the bike.

Unfortunately, they didn't fit. It took a lot of cutting and mucking about to get them to sit on the bike properly. I had to make him some new kneepads, which were a bit too big, but never mind.

Then I added some arms. The one holding the handlebars is from a recent Dark Eldar trooper. The one raised in the air is from an ancient Dark Eldar. I'm not sure where the sword came from, but it was in the bits box and seemed to work.

I sculpted an open robe/coat on the rider, being pushed back by the speed of his bike. This was... daunting. One side is much better than the other, but I'm not going to say which! The handlebars were made of bent paper clip wire, fleshed out with green stuff.

And now for some paint!

This is the whole thing so far:

I like it, but I can't help thinking that it needs something... more. Maybe some detailing on the canopy would help?

Sunday 3 December 2023

Archira, Part 1

This week, I've been back on the Eldar. First up, I painted an ancient model that dates back to Rogue Trader days. It's an Eldar Guardian (actually, probably just an "adventurer" back then, as Guardians hadn't been invented then) with a big gun that I suspect is meant to be a lascannon. 

The armour is quite different to modern Eldar armour, with some odd tear-shaped bulges, but the shaped plates and conical helmet are there. I painted him in the same colours as my Guardian squad, with some extra detail on one shoulder pad (I think this tiger-stripe pattern denotes particular skill on Craftworld Zandros). 

I think he looks like something off the cover of an old Science-Fiction novel, which is what I was aiming for.

Then I thought that I'd try to finish off an old conversion. Many years ago, I chopped off the back of an Eldar jetbike and stuck it to an engine (at least, I think that's what it was) from a broken Zoid toy, to make a sort of huge-engined flying bike. I found the pieces of this conversion, which had long since broken, and realised I could do a lot better now.

I added the canopy of an old Eldar jetbike onto the main chassis, so that it would look a bit more "space elf". That looked a little obvious, so I used DAS clay and green stuff to fill in the gaps and blend the canopy into the engine. This was an absolute sod. My respect for people who can sculpt in this stuff grows and grows. I'm still not sure that it looks any good.

I found some "wings", which came from an elf chariot that I dismantled years ago. They were a bit on the delicate side, but they counterbalanced the huge and clumsy engine somewhat. To tie it all together and for bonus Eldarness, I added bumps made out of green stuff to the front.

So here's where we are so far: 

Any thoughts and suggestions would be very welcome!

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Swooping Hawks

 I went back to the old craftworld Eldar and had a go at painting some Swooping Hawks. My eventual plan is to have a (small) squad of all of the Eldar aspects in the first Eldar codex, with the exception of the Shining Spears, who didn't have models back then. 

The Swooping Hawks were lightly-armoured troops who used their jetpacks to fly above the enemy and drop grenades on them, to deadly effect. In theory. In actuality, they were very hard to use, as their attacks were very specific and their armour was tissue-thin. Back then (and probably now) much of Warhammer 40,000 was about covering your men in armour, and the Swooping Hawks tended to die very quickly.

Also, as I discovered recently, the models are top-heavy and fall over all the time. That said, they're also Jes Goodwin sculpts and are excellent miniatures with a remarkable amount of motion for their time. I put mine on slotta-bases, and made some grass and ruined pavements for them to stand on.

As with the whole Eldar project, I tried to use vibrant colours somewhat like those used by Moebius and Roger Dean. I like the Eldar having a slightly retro, psychedelic feel. Here's the whole unit. For some reason, they were very difficult to photograph.

I don't think I've made a bad job, but I did find them fiddly and not all that satisfying. Still, I'm glad the unit is done, even though - if I actually played 40k - I'd never use them in battle.