Monday, 26 January 2015

New Stuff Times!

After a few weeks away from painting it seems like it’s a good time to get my teeth in the first of this years projects! The main inspiration for this (as always) is the excuse to paint up some of the figures I missed out on as a kidling. Other inspiration comes in the form of the amazing artwork that was around during the late 80’s and early 90’s, in particular, this amazing piece by Dave Gallagher.

You don't know how disappointed I was to find the vouchers were out of date.

This was the cover to issue 147 of White Dwarf and I remember coming across this at a car-boot sale. The cover image instantly affixed itself one of the cannon Eldar visuals in my head (which was helped by my innate love of red-heads and the fact that one of the troopers looks a bit like Sweet Dreams era Annie Lennox!) I still love the vibrancy of the colour scheme and little details such as the banner/sash squad markings and the power-fist giving the horns gesture. I think this must be the only artwork that makes guardians look hard too. I never got around to painting an Alaitoc army as I was all about painting Ulthewe black as a baby bat. However, looking back over their fluff as a Craftworld full of wistful, potential rangers, it seems odd that I never went down the path of painting blue (i think it was my loathing of Ultramarines). A year or so ago when this project first came to mind, I decided to do some test models to see what they’d be like.

Primary colour camo schemes!

Still an amazing and iconic design after nearly 30 years.
The guardian was a fun paint job, although I’m not looking forward to all the yellow! The aim of this was to try and make it as vibrant and clean as possible, just so I knew it could be done without it being a chore. The Dreadnought was super easy as all the components could be painted as sub-assemblies, reducing the danger of secondary colours. It's not going to be a huge force, but will definitely have a heavy Craftworld feel to it as I'm not too fussed on painting up any Aspect warriors right now.

Project times!

So here’s the first batch of trimmed and based figures ready for undercoating. It’s going to be a predominantly ranger force with a small squad of guardians and a large troupe of Harlequin allies. I’ve also got a Warlock and Farseer on the way soon, but still need to snag a couple of the more dynamic Harlequins as I reckon I'll need about ten in order to brake up all the blue and yellow. I'm also considering putting the effort in to track down around five of the original guardian jet bikes, but they seem to be well expensive at present. Will give it a few months and see how the army is looking then. So incredible to think these were all sculpted by Jes Goodwin over twenty five years ago and they still look amazing. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

The Lure of the Cult,..

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you not only to Olrygg from Realm of Chaos for mentioning me in his new blogs post, but to everyone who has popped by to check out my pile of guff.  So rad to be featured by such a sick hobby journal and so good to think that my stuff might inspire new projects and whatnot. Anyway, enough gushing, onto the little men!

There was always something alluring about the Cultist forces listed in the second edition of 40k; the was just enough fluff to ignite the spark of interest, but little enough rules and miniature support to make developing a force a real challenge to create and play with. Despite always wanting a Cultist force of some persuasion as a kid, I never had the money to make a real go of it. There was an abortive attempt at a Genestealer Cultist force using the third-hand remnants of old Space Hulk Hybrids and Necromunda proxies, but it never yielded the kind of army I imagined. That's why I'm kind of so bummed out on my recent, second attempt of a Genestealer Cult not really working out; maybe it was never meant to be!

Anyway, a more successful project came in last year when I found myself at the end of an army project. I was once again bitten by the old desire to create a Cultist force, though this time inspired both by nostalgia and the insane work coming from the spiky rat pack collective. This time around it was to be Chaotic in tone. Again, my main source of inspiration was from the late Rogue Trader and second edition 40k period, but more specifically from a certain piece of art. There is the most amazing Adrian Smith drawing of a group of Nurgle Cultists in Codex Imperialis that for me, defines a Chaos Cultist force better than any other illustration. The version below however is taken from the Lost and Damned book.

Utterly brutal. Adrian Smith ist kreig.

The picture has such weight to it, you can almost feel the press of bodies as the pestilent masses push against the swamped marines to the left and forward towards the viewer. The work has a distinctly unhealthy, tainted feel to it, all of the subjects being somewhat warped and damaged versions of the people they once were. However, they are all seemingly vulnerable in their barely-armoured state, yet give off such an air of brutality and madness that they still inspire great terror.  My modelling and painting skills are nowhere near good enough to do justice the the illustration above, so I resolved to model this army in the spirit of this picture. I also wanted to create a Nurgle themed army that didn't look overly Nurgley either, so played with the idea that the force is made up of Cultists and Imperial Guard from a recently turned renegade force. Thankfully the task was made easier by the availability of the excellent cultist miniatures from the ubiquitous Dark Vengeance boxed set. With them as a base and with some Imperial Guard and Forgeworld bits, I got (albeit slowly) to work. The end result were these guys.

Don't look under the bucket.

Okay, so it's a massive cliche to be using this guy for anything these days, but he's just so perfect. It's no wonder GW capitalised on his success and came out with those Blightknights recently. This loveable brute acts as the leader of the force, hence why he's the gribbliest looking one. There's no major conversion work on this guy, just a weapon change and some guitar wire. Stoked that I finally found a use for the Tamiya buckets I've amassed over the years! One massive breakthrough with this force was the use of Laimian medium for mixing flesh transitions - where has that stuff been all my life? It's especially useful on large, flat areas of skin. Well worth trying!

Distinctly unhealthy.

This is the only close-up shot I have of the 20 cultists I haven but they're all very much the same. Some of them have hoods sculpted up from the original heads as a nod to the Smith artwork and some of them have buckets over them instead because er,.. buckets! In all seriousness, the buckets were a little nod to the dark humour that permeates the earlier version of the 40k universe and it balanced out the grimness of the Forgeworld stuff in a kind of Mad-Max way. Other than that, all of them feature heavy weathering and differing levels of blood smears on weapons and hands. The FW apostate preacher at the front was especially fun to paint, so many differing textures to play with.

Love Sentinals, such great models.

The force has two Sentinals, both pretty similar to the other in terms of paintwork and armourment. The motif on the placard has been lifted from a John Blanche Plague Marine illustration from the original Codex Chaos.

Improvised weapons are awesome.

Managed to snag this fella from ebay super cheap as he was originally covered in several lumpy paint-jobs. Thankfully he stripped easily and there wasn't that much missing from him. Love the narrative behind this figure, the up-rooted street light really gives the impression of hulking power. Mark Bedford made an incredible job of the Vraks renegade range; all the classic GW tropes are there, but all turned up to 11 in terms of grimdarkness.

It's all gone a bit Event Horizon,..

This renegade pysker is one of the most disturbing figures Forgeworld has ever produced; well done Mark Bedford on the grimdark front! I think the things where his eyes are are supposed to be bolts or screws, neither having any business being in that area! It also looks like he's wearing someone else's skin over his face, so that's why there's a horrific/comical amount of blood.

Every army needs at least one tanky-thing.

This is the first new version of the Chimera chassis I've painted and it was okay - I kind of preferred the original with its silly one-eyed skull motif thing. The Wyvern turret thing was fun to assemble and paint though. As always, weathering tanks is a joy, especially when you get to do old regimental markings and stuff!

The completed force on my modded Necromunda tile.

Here they are, the Opridian Seditionists (okay, so not all of the fluff was nicked from second edition) ready to ruin somebodies day. I doubt they'd ever be winning any battles, but I'm sure they'd at least ruin the carpet or something. I came third in the GW Chester Armies on Parade competition in the end which I was stoked with as there were some amazingly painted forces entered. I'd like to build on them more in the future, perhaps using some of the Empire flagellant figures as a base for more Smith-esque cultists. The idea of a swarming mass of cannon-fodder baring down on a small, elite army is also quite exciting!

So yeah, Cultist themed armies will always have a soft spot in my heart and will always inspire me, no matter how many times I leaf through old codices and magazines. They'll never be popular as mainstreams armies as they're difficult to win anything with without diluting them with predictable allies. On the plus side however, for smaller skirmish games or narrative campaigns, I imagine they'd be characterful and fun things to play with and make great side projects as you don't need too many models for them. There's also so many avenues of modelling and painting ideas to go down, so if you're looking to challenge yourself you can't go wrong with a good Cult!

Unless you bump into the Rev Jim Jones that is,...

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Miniature Defeats.

Never realised they were emerging from a giant blue colon eh?

Continuing from where my last post finished off, the past week has been spent finishing off some Genestealer related bits and pieces. Having always wanted to paint these figures, I never stopped to even consider that they wouldn't actually be that fun to paint. As sad as it is, I think these figures were some of the most disappointing that I've ever worked on and there's a few reasons for this. 

#1 - The sculpts are actually kind of weird in a bad way. When I think of Genestealer Hybrids, I think of the amazing Dave Gallagher artwork pictured above. They bestial, brutalistic and driven creatures - but there's also a strange kind of alien sensuality to them which these sculpts just don't capture. I'm aware Bob Olley is known for dividing opinions and sadly, I'm starting to see why. His ornamental, Geiger-esque organic designs have an unfinished, rough feel to them. The accessories on the miniatures seem rushed, with two of the figures carrying what look to be like cheese-graters on their belts! Lastly, I'm not overly keen on the facial sculpts of the three forth generation hybrids. They seem almost ogreish and cartoon-like. Even the Patriarch, which is an iconic model, failed to get me hyped, which is weird because the throned version was amazing to paint. 

#2 - These figures are a bitch to get the arms right on. Luckily, I've a little stash of original Imperial Guard clothed arms that I was able to play around with, but not without more green-stuffing that I'd have liked. There's either too much detail on the chest or not enough space in-between the head and legs to fit anything properly! In addition, the Hybrid arms don't afford any pose other than a stiff, cardboard gunslinger look. 

The only previous Olley sculpt I've ever painted is the Throned Patriarch, which was a joy to put together and paint. I'm not going to slag Olley off too much because it's obvious that his style works for some things and not for others - I think it might be to do with scale. Perhaps there's just too much going on with the Hybrids? Even the running Patriarch seems to have too much detail on it, whilst the larger, sitting version managed to get away with it because it's almost a third bigger than his smaller, jauntier self.

He's a biggun.

However, they've been ticked off the list of things to paint before I end up dead, so that's an achievement in itself. I think because I was initially so excited about these it made the fact that they were awkward all the more lame. You live and learn. Anyway, here they are!

Creepy green plasma guy and wavy fist fella.

Heavy stubber and cowelled lasgun dude.
Fuck the Patriarchy.

Despite it being a bit of a disappointment, it wasn't all bad. The guys below were a treat to paint and I'm beginning to suspect that the Magus advisor or Genestealer Familiar aren't Olley sculpts either. They seem more refined and in keeping with the Hybrids/Magus featured in the previous post. I think they're talking shit on the rest of the Brood.

'Don't tell him I told you about his weight problem and alopecia,..'

So yeah, that's that done. I might see if I can pick up the odd third or second generation Hybrid to replace the fourths as I'm just not happy with them. However, they'll do for stand-ins for a Cult Necromunda gang. I suppose I'd better make a start on the Eldar project now!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

It Begins.

So, one of the things I wanted to do this year was to create a hobby-specific blog of some kind. There's already a million other amazing blogs out there, (some say, maybe two million!) all of which will be doing it better than I am. However, I still thought it'd be a good way of keeping a record of completed projects, ongoing projects and thinking about doing stuff that is probably never going to happen. To all those that may find themselves adrift in the interwebs warp, I hope you'll be into what I'm up to. Pretty much everything I'll talk about will be somehow connected to Warhammer 40000 and its various offshoots, but I may drift into muckier (re Fantasy/Historical) areas too.

For my first entry I thought I'd share my small, but growing collection of Genestealer Cultists. Pretty sure everyone in the world loves these figures and they really do capture the vibe of the Warhammer 40000 universe around the early 90's. I've lusted after these three particular figures since they appeared and have only just got around to acquiring them without resorting to selling half a kidney. I'm pretty sure that these are all Jes Goodwin sculpts as they seem more refined than the Bob Olley interpretations and more in-keeping with the then emerging in-house style that Games Workshop was beginning to form at that time. They've all been painted in the same or similar pallet and style as the classic Mike McVey versions.

Predictable paint job number one

Predictable paint job number two

 In the future, everyone will need purple camo

These guys really were a joy to paint and the 20 year long wait to get my paws on them was more than worth it. All that time spent pouring over old John Blanche artwork and miniature catalogues as a kid and more recently, the amazing Bryan Ansell collection; if only I knew one day I'd have some! The Magus in particular has great tabletop presence and oozes alien menace. To start with, I'm planning on putting together a band of around eight hybrids of various generations to represent a Necromunda gang. From there I plan to paint up a similar sized force of Rogue Trader-era Imperial Guard to function both as Brood Brothers and as a small Guard army in it's own right. I doubt very much if they'll ever get gamed with as I'm both terrible with remembering any rules or making time to play. They'll be there if I remedy either of those things though!

I hope to put these guys to bed soon as I have one big project I want to work on in 2015 which is a Rogue Trader/Second Edition Eldar army. Was thinking about trying to get it done in time for BOYL, but we'll see how I get on as I'm painfully slow at painting!