Friday, 31 January 2014

My ongoing quest

Herein lies the tale of my quest: three years, three long years now have I sought that which I seek, but to no avail. I am, of course, referring to the release of the excellent 'Broom Riding Wizards' sculpted by Soapy:

(male and female sculpts viewable on Soapy's blog here and here)

For three years now (as of January 16th, and yes, I emailed on that day to announce that it was the third anniversary of my campaign to get them released), I've been bugging various people in the hopes that they will take my money. Every Salute, I ask Soapy, and he says ask Gripping Beast; every Salute, I ask Gripping Beast, and they say 'oh yeah, send us an email in the week and we'll look into that for you'. Every few months, I leave a comment on Soapy's blog, or I email Gripping Beast, and always the same answer: yes, but not yet. If anything, they seem to be getting further away from me, despite the number of times that they've been 'bumped up the queue of production', but still I live in hope (I mean, had they been available when I'd first enquired, it's entirely possible that I'd have even gotten round to painting them by now!)

So what's the point of this blog post? It's not going to make them get made any faster; and I'm going to ask about them again at Salute even though I've been told they won't be ready then; this is just to let people know that they could potentially exist, and to document my approaching ridiculous perseverance (and hey, the male sculpts were originally done in 2009, so there's probably someone somewhere that has spent five years emailing Gripping Beast every few months, rather than my paltry three).

Many many (around fifteen) years ago, I wrote (well, half-wrote, the campaign rules never got finished) a set of rules for a tabletop version of Quidditch, researched extensively through poring though the original release of 'Quidditch through the Ages' to ensure that it was the most accurate representation of a fictional sport with nonsense rules that I could make, so I guess having waited this long for suitable miniatures to become available I can wait a few more...

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

First figure of the year: test nerdmarine finished!

So, I managed to finish my test marine today:

Knarloc Green and Boltgun metal are the two main colours, with Dheneb Stone as the base of the cream accents. I'm fairly happy with how he turned out, although I could always be a better painter - my edge highlights are somewhat iffy in some places, and in hindsight Fenris Grey may have been too 'blue' a paint to use to highlight the black, but I guess you live and learn... He's not had any decals applied yet, as I'll probably wait until I have a squad's worth and do them all in one fell swoop!

With this lone finished miniature, this brings the tally a step back in the right direction, to:

1 vs 5 = -4

In all honesty though, I think the thing that I'm most surprised by is the lack of 'you can't call them nerdmarines that's not canon' comments on my previous post, maybe I pitched my tent in a more civilized corner of the internet after all...

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Space Marines, shoulder pad moulding and the Tally's (inevitable) first hit of the year...

So, I ran into someone I hadn't seen on a train the other day, and we ended up discussing GW. Despite the conversation involving a lot of fist-shaking and cries of 'I know, they want how much for three figures!?', I came away with a refired enthusiasm for 40K, and some half-formed thoughts about painting up a 600 point skirmish force of Space Marines.

as you may or may not remember, a while back I mentioned that I already had plans (and the bits) for a custom Space Marine chapter - but then I thought to myself 'hey, Space Marines with metallic colour schemes look pretty snazzy, no?', and after a little playing around on an online Space Marine painter I came up with this colour scheme:

Fairly similar in concept to the original scheme, but with the addition of dark metallics and the two-tone helmet, purely because I think that they look quite striking. As you'll see later, I decided to keep their chapter logo as a book (due to my profession and general nerdity), which started me thinking about what sort of Chapter they'd be. Maybe they're a mysterious Dark Angels successor chapter, or have a higher occurrence of Librarians like the Blood Ravens? With all these ideas and more bubbling round in my head, I couldn't decide, and in the end decided to run them as vanilla Marines, maybe try out a few different chapter tactics to see how they feel, and worry about fluff and background until later, so for now, they shall be known as my Nerdmarines (TM).

The proof of the pudding is in the eating (or in the case of our hobby, painting), so I set about digging out a test model from one of the old starter sets:

After a quick clean up, having his bolter drilled out and a few dabs of glue, he was ready for basing and gesso-ing, and left overnight to dry.

Finding myself with a couple of hours spare today, I thought I'd see about giving him a lick of paint to see how the colour scheme looks when used in anger... Before I managed that though, I remembered that a while ago, I'd bought some Grey Knights shoulderpads with a mind to making a press-mould of a book themed chapter logo (because hey, it's easier to make uniform than trying to freehand something), and thought I might as well have a crack at it on the test marine (since if I like the results, he's going to be part of the force, so he might as well match his brethren). Unfortunately, I'd apparently had a tidy up,or they'd grown legs and wandered off, but I eventually managed to hunt down the sprue:

Once a suitable donor was selected, I carefully shaved off the ridge to make it match a standard Space Marine shoulderpad (the idea being that the mould will slip snugly over a standard shoulderpad, reducing the potential for misaligned insignia)

 And then carefully shaved and filed off the sword, to leave me with just the desired book:

As is traditional, I mounted the part on a square of plasticard (for ease of handling and to provide a flat surface for the edge of the mould):

 And then (after eventually finding my Blu Stuff after a ten minute search, as apparently my wife had also had a tidy up), following the standard instructions, I set about making a one-part Blu Stuff mould:

Which came out looking like this:

And with a little trimming to make it easier to handle (and more likely to actually slip over a plain shoulderpad) it ended up looking like this:

As I'd already undercoated my test marine, I set about scraping off some paint (so that my dinky green stuff book would be able to stick directly to the miniature rather than getting a less secure hold on a layer of paint):

Which was the point where I realised that, trying to dry fit my newly made mould onto the newly nude shoulderpad, having already glued my marine together, his bolter was massively in the way. Rather than trying to cut him apart (or more sensibly, just going and getting another marine out of the box and starting afresh), I set about making a new, skinnier mould, that would fit inside the shoulderpad's outer ridge, rather than covering it in its entirety:

(luckily, my slightly wonky cutting on the right hand side won't negatively affect the results, as it's only the raised book that will be transferred, the outer edge is purely for alignment purposes...)

A little (incredibly cold and dried up but still just about workable with a lot of kneading and swearing and prayer) Green Stuff later and we have a result!

He's currently sat on the radiator to cure, but I'm pretty happy with that result! Once he's had another dab of gesso he'll be ready (again) to test out the colour scheme on (although I'm not sure how I'll paint the book - should I paint it like an actual book, or metallic, or some other option?).

As you may have guessed from the title of this post though, that's not all. As usual, I made myself the vow that this year, once the tally reset over the New Year, I'd paint some miniatures before I bought anything new, to give myself something of a positive buffer (before Salute hits and the tally takes a nosedive). Somehow though, yesterday I found myself in Games Workshop with my wife, buying toys:

I think the logic was that she'd bought herself a new bag because it was (literally) shiny, and I said 'hey we have that in my hobby too but shiny-bloody-itis is usually more metaphorical' and the Starbucks we were in was just around the corner from GW and so yeah I bought these. I'd been looking to pick some Fenrisian Wolves up for a while now, to use as Dire Wolves in my Song of Ice and Fire Project (as they're quite frankly just the nicest dynamically posed wolves on the market, and not badly priced all things considered), and I picked up a pot of the new Technical Paint 'Nurgle's Rot', as an incentive to myself to paint the Nurgle Path to Glory warband that's been sat undercoated for a number of months...

Which, with a heavy heart, leaves the tally for 2014 at:

0 vs 5 = -5

I think what I really need is another WOMP...

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Tea based display board...

As previously mentioned, I had been in the process of making a small display board to use for skirmish wargaming and to provide a better backdrop to my pictures of painted miniatures, using recycled tea rather than sand as an alternate basing material. Having some time last night (and in part spurred on by the realisations made in my 2013 in review post), I've managed to finish it off, and so can post pictures of the process now:

Having previously acquired my cork pinboard to use as a base (available to order if you've not got an office supplies shop or decent sized supermarket near you), I made up a mixture of dried tea, various grades of fine and coarse sand and tiny slate pieces (and, like every good recipe, a secret ingredient - I kid, it's even more grades of sand and grit) that would be used to cover my board:

(this would later turn out to be nowhere near enough to cover the whole board)

I also set out the other essentials - beer and glue:

Diluting the PVA to a consistency that it could be easily spread with a large paintbrush, I masked off the frame and started slapping it on:

Working in sections, I'd coat the board in glue, then pour on some of my tea/sand mix:

Until I'd covered the entire board:

Despite giving it a fairly good coat and patting it down as I went to make sure it was well attached, after leaving the board overnight I went to tip off the excess loose material, and rather more than I expected came off:

So I went back and glued some more down again, left it to dry, tipped it off, glued it down again, tipped it off... One issue I found with using tea was that when I'd reapply glue, it would soak it up like a sponge and get very moist, and start to lift if I was too rough with the paintbrush... In the hopes of getting the amount of material to stick to the board that I actually applied, I set about trying out some solutions to seal it down. Attempt 1: Spray Mount:

Pro: readily available in the house. Con: Didn't really do much in the way of sealing the board. Pro: Fun to use. Con: left me with a very sticky board for a while... So, I went for the traditional, tried and tested method of sealing - a good coat of watered-down PVA. As already mentioned though, getting the tea and sand mix too wet led to it lifting, which required careful tamping down (and lead to problems later on, but we'll get to that...). Once that was all done, I was left with one bumpy board:

Which was when it was time to start painting. At night, lit only by a headlamp worn by my wife:

As is the case with all my scenery, the basecoat comes from a poundshop can of grey car primer:

Which is then touched up with watered down Astronomicon Grey:

Next, comes a hearty wash of watered-down Vallejo Smoke, to grubby it up and give a little bit of depth:

You may remember earlier I mentioned the problems I'd had with the tea getting moist and lifting? So yeah, where I thought I'd previously completely sealed the board, this step proved that assumption to in fact be incorrect, as some of the material began to lift, leading to further touch ups and another coat of watered-down PVA:

Which is as far as I'd gotten until yesterday. Mostly complete, with a few mishaps along the way, but just some finishing to do, which was completed in the usual fashion, with a drybrush of Codex Grey, Fortress Grey and then Bleached Bone:

Which, as you can see in this staged shot with a couple of miniatures ad some scatter terrain, will do me nicely:

Although I will admit that after taking that last picture I did go back and give the board another coat of Bleached Bone to make it a little lighter so that it would better match the bases on my terrain and miniatures:

In hindsight, I should have taken extra extra care to ensure that everything was sealed properly, which would have saved a few headaches along the way. I should also potentially have re-started the entire painting process after I had to re-seal the board following the application of Vallejo Smoke, but honestly at that point I was just keen to get the whole thing finished (after it having lain dormant for a little while) and so cracked on with the drybrushing...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Third Anniversary, and 2013 in review...

Wow, so this little irregularly-updated corner of the internet turns 3 today!

2013 was a funny old year for me personally, managing to contain both the highest of highs (getting married! Honeymooning!) and the lowest of lows, and because of this was fairly quiet hobby and blogging wise. I mean, I only managed 27 posts last year, an average of one a fortnight. I'd planned (and prepped miniatures for) a Doctor Who post to tie in with the Christmas Day episode, but alas I didn't get to actually paint them, and thus there were no posts at all in December. I mean, the thing is, I'm not any less geeky than usual - here's a picture of our headboard currently:

(I dug out some old survivor miniatures to use as alternate playing pieces in a family game of Zombies over Christmas, which are currently living in the bedroom until I get around to re-packing them)

I think part of the problem on the lack of posts front is my tendency to only post on completion of something, which when crossed with my tendency to get easily distracted and flit from project to project leads to a folder of unpublished pictures of projects that are half-finished that 'I'll get around to finishing one day', like stripping Batman Heroclix, a set of Chaos themed scatter terrain and a set of wip pictures of my old-school influenced Chaos Spawn conversion that has been sat undercoated for at least half a year now... Resolution - post what I do as I do it, which will hopefully keep momentum high...

As is now traditional, I got a White Dwarf subscription for Christmas from my good lady wife, the exclusive miniature for which is this rather nice vampire-hunting dwarf, which leaves 2013's tally at:

25 vs 441 = -416


2013: -416 (25 painted)
2012: -103 (68 painted)
2011: -173 (122 painted)

The less said about that the better, I suppose - although this year's massive minus is mostly (entirely) due to stocking up on lovely multi-part plastic kits at Salute for my ASOIAF project (and I'm sure I'll pick up a couple more boxes this year to make sure that I definitely have enough bits...)

On the Christmas front, I also got some paintbrushes from one of our friends that works with my wife, which I thought was rather sweet of her (and I guess shows that my nerdity isn't as subtle as you might otherwise think):

Looking at last year's review post, let's see how wildly inaccurate my predictions for projects for the coming year were:

Path to Glory: As mentioned earlier this post, my Chaos Spawn conversion is done (but just not posted), and the entire warband has been sat undercoated waiting for my attention to swing back their way. I've got a set of half-finished Chaos Wastes scatter terrain to go with them too, that match my previously completed set of generic rocky terrain so as to be able to play some games... You'd think that the low model count needed to be able to start playing games would be a good incentive to get them finished, but hey, go figure...

Batman: What do they even paint the more recent Heroclix figures with? I've had a bunch sat in the stripping pot getting the occasional scrub for what feels like an age, and there's largely no less paint on them than the day I bought them (they are however exceptionally clean). Again, low model count needed, so it would only take a tiny, tiny amount of focus in order to have a useable set of figures...

Zombieslayer/Slayers: One day. gadget, one day... Potentially if (as rumours suggest) the next edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle has a starter box containing Empire, that might kickstart this project, or if I get a chance to read the three latest Gotrek and Felix books that I've got waiting, but until then it stays on the backburner...

Star Wars: Again, one day, gadget, one day. Curse my tiny attention span! There's plenty of Star Wars media on the way though, so I may end up making some progress in the future...

Other bits and bobs:

I painted a number of generic fantasy miniatures, but other than that all my predictions were wildly inaccurate.

Projects for the coming year (aka the framework for next year's year in review post):

As well as all of the aforementioned half finished projects that are only a few steps from completion and posting to little internet fanfare, my (planned) projects for 2014 are:

A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones):

The project that got started after I said I wouldn't be starting an more projects - as previously mentioned (and you can potentially just about see in the previous picture), I've got a bunch of Lannisters painted, and an equivalent amount of House Stark troops converted just awaiting basing and undercoat. I've got boxes of miniatures and assorted bits set aside for this project, so it should be fairly easy to make progress (famous last words) - admittedly though, I have been fairly tempted to buy some bits to start converting some Wildlings, pretty much the only Westerosi force that I don't already have suitable miniatures for, but I think I'll be able to hold focus on the Staks versus Lannisters for now (although one day I'll get around to writing a blogpost outlining my general plans for the ASOIAF project...)

Dungeons and Dragons

Much delayed, but not forgotten...

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The release of a new '...of the Planet of the Apes' film should hopefully inspire me to get back on track with my ROTPOTA project - I'll probably pick up an 'Aiko and Gorilla' from Bushido from GCT Miniatures (because that's a much hencher gorilla than the one I had previously bought), dig up or adapt a suitable skirmish ruleset and we're away!


The backburner projects are still there: Halo, Three Kingdoms, Doctor Who, Blood Bowl, and all the rest - although as we've seen, listing something as 'not a priority for the near future' seems to be the way to ensure that it gets some love when it comes to my hobby focus... I also sporadically get the urge to go back and try and rewrite the set of rules I was going to use for the Zombie project, that were lost when my laptop wiped a couple of years back, but that would involve literally starting from scratch...

I should also hopefully finish the display board that I mentioned in my previous post in the near future, which will allow me to start posting some more visually appealing pictures of painted miniatures (when I get around to actually finishing some, hyuck huck...)

Last but not least, when we were putting up our (artificial) Christmas Tree, one of the branches fell off:

Bad news for Christmas, but good news for wargaming craft supplies - my wife agreed that we could just have that side of the tree facing the wall, and I now have the means to experiment with making wargaming trees out of leftover bits of Christmas Tree...