Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lead Drift

I always considered myself a GW fanboy. I've been known to buy overpriced sand, gravel and other ridiculous items from their stores out of some strange sense of brand loyalty. I used to be seriously down on aftermarket parts and considered anything non-canonical to be non-legit. However, in the past few years this rigid attitude has thawed dramatically for many reasons and I can happily say that it's made the hobby loads more exciting and rewarding. Let me take you on a journey,...

Go away Xander, you're ruining the photo!

As well as being into little men, skateboarding and other assorted lameness, I'm also a massive fan of Willow Rosenberg the TV show Buffy. When I discovered that Hasslefree had created some sculpts that were (in no way) related to the show, I had to have them. They are the very first non-GW sculpts that I had ever laid my paws on and it was strange. It felt a little like blasphemy. The scale was slightly different, the details finer and more realistically rendered. In short I was smitten by the design and effort put into the figures. 

Buffy Summers and Mr Pointy.

If you've never painted any of the Hasslefree range, I whole-heartedly recommend you pick one of their figures up. The casting is perfect with minimal trim or cleaning needed. They're also really sturdy for small figures too, so no worries for people like me who have been known to damage brand new models before getting the chance to paint them. Buffy was a joy to paint and suited a super-thin, multiple layered wash style of painting to make the textures a little more realistic.

Blurry Blondie Bear.

Not the greatest picture, which is a shame because this sculpt is fantastic. It's must be easy for sculptors to get lazy when it comes to things like long jackets, but thankfully, this figure is a massive exception to the rule. The coat is full of subtle curves at the back and the fineness of the detail is stunning. 

Vampire Willow is best Willow.

Er,..yeah. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't into Vampire Willow. She's the bestest. Really love the proportions on her hips and the outfit is spot-on to the show. I must admit the facial sculpt is probably  the weakest of the three, but it's still a great model.

Buffy and Spike talk about hatesex, whilst Vampire Willow
thinks about throwing matches on things.

So that's Hasslefree. As for other rad companies, one that's recently come to attention is Slow Death Games, who are producing a 'Warriors' esque game using rad looking gangs based on musical genres as inspiration. So far, only Sid the crusty punk has been cast, but there's so many amazing looking greens on the production line - especially an amazing selection of goth girls which look like the most fun to paint. Here's Sid!

Tuff guy.

Tuff guy bad end.

This figure is great. The proportions are great and it's a really nice to paint someone holding a realistically sized weapon. There's a great picture floating the around the web of this guy with a Conflict back-patch which has come out loads better than my attempt at a Crass logo. Kinda wish that I'd been a bit more adventurous with the colour, but it's not my fault that crusties like black denim! I ended up buying two of these models, so I may paint the next one up as a Juggelo and sculpt a little staffie for him.

Sid and Buffy discuss bands they've seen at the Bronze.

So yeah, I can no longer claim to be a GW purist and I think it's a good thing. I'm quite sure that the universe of 40K will always preoccupy the forefront of my daubings, but it's nice to know that there's alternatives out there when things get stale. I've already been scouring the ranges of other model producers to track down a suitable Giles to hang out with the Scoobies. If anyone else out there is having second thoughts about exploring other ranges then do yourself a favour and get in there!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Killing Your Darlings

In the grim darkness of the far-future, no one will clean your tank.

Access granted – Beta level – clearance of Scribe Joachim

Hieronymus lies close to the Sabbat worlds in Segmentum Pacificus, approximately 9000 light years from Terra. Whilst officially classed as a Feudal world, over a quarter of the planet has been dedicated to production of Imperial goods, providing a modest amount of the supplies needed for the Sabbat Crusade under Warmaster Slaydo and Macaroth in 600. M41. She obits the nearby star of Hildegard, has an Equatorial radius of 6241 miles, and a temperate climate with polar regions similar to that of Terra.

Hieronymus is also more often thought of throughout the system for her large Ecclesiastical presence rather than her industrial production. The population are deeply involved with the Cult of the Emperor, and the planet has many reputedly holy sites dedicated to lesser saints dotted around the surface. Her main attraction however is in her principal city of Sophronius, the Cathedral Church of Our Lady of Hieronymus, claiming to be the primary reliquary for the bones of St Sabbat Beati. This is of course disputed by her sister sites on the nearby planets of Urdesha, Balhuat and in particular, the Saint’s homeworld of Hagia. Despite this, Hieronymus seems to dominate the pilgrimage routes around the southern regions of Pacificus, attracting a large number of Adaptus Soritas from the nearby convent world of Ophelia IV.

The planet has respectably sized standing unit of Imperial Guard, consisting of 5 regiments and 3 tank companies. The Hieronian Guard are known to follow a Feudal code, with many conscript companies being little more than barely-armoured serfs. Another notable trait is the regiment’s use of personal heraldry for Barons and Lords, which is often reflected on those troops beneath them. The use of personal heraldry on Hieronymus was questioned by the Inquisition in 959. M41, but was not deemed as a heretical practice.

The Heironian Regiments have only been involved in one major campaign, serving with notable success during the Sabbat Wars. However, they have been pivotal in the removing of heretical cult activity on neighbouring planets, the most recent of which was the Slanneshi cult on Eusebius. At present, their main theatre of operations continues to be within their own system, primarily against the chaotic war-band known as the Bloodpact.

End transmission.

This is a goodbye post, a fond farewell to the army that re-kindled my love of painting little men after a decade long break. Here is the swan song for the Imperial Guard of Hieronymus,...

The initial inspiration for this project was again, rooted in nostalgia. Whilst growing up, my best friend Rory had the raddest combined Imperial Guard / Blood Angel army and always kicked my arse with it. In a way, the genesis of this force was a take on the Cadians my friend had, albeit based on the new multi-pose plastic ones. However, I also wanted to explore the idea of creating a unique Imperial Guard regiment, so introduced elements from the then new Empire fantasy range to give a Germanic, semi-feudal feel to the force. The majority of these figures are nearly 15 years old now and still look pretty good compared to the new plastics. Despite this, it's a collection that I've not got an awful lot of interest in now as they are never displayed. Even when packed away in army cases they take up a lot of room, which is not something that a Victorian terraced house has in abundance. The paint-scheme (although suitably drab) is pretty dull and I've definitely moved on from 'black undercoat on everything' since 2006. In many ways they were great to collect and put together but I feel the time has come for them to move onto grimmer, darker (and more active) battlefields - what better way to send them off than with a self-indulgent walk through the great and good of the Hieronian 2nd?

Commander Helmut Von Kappaschun with two trusted meat shields bodyguards.

The leader of the force, Commander Helmut Von Kappaschun. This guy is joined by two veterans who are there to represent the 'look out Sir AGHH!' rule. These were really fun to put together. There's some really nice bits on these figures and I'm especially proud of the Commander's gorget and green-stuff fur trim. Most parts from these guys come from the Imperial Guard Command squad frame, a really nice kit that has all sorts of rad bits in it. I'm particularly fond of the bandaged arm!

Drama cape!

Some details of the Commander's snazzy back. The Warhammer Empire plastic range was raided and used liberally on all of the army, but is especially visible in this great flappy cape. The paint scheme is pretty unimaginative, but at least it's neat and consistent. This army was the first I ploughed into after a long hiatus, so there's a lot of 'excited to be holding a paintbrush again' free-hand painting and additional parts on most models.

Command squad, now with drummer boy!

If there's one thing I dislike about new GW sculpts it's molded flags. Fuck that noise. Flags and banners should be flat. That said, I do have a few of them in my Dark Angel army -  but they are on the list of things to be replaced, so I'm not a total hypocrite. The banner was one of the first green-stuff projects I ever attempted and I think it came out okay. Again, loads of Empire bits included on these guys.

Obligatory Vindecare Assassin.

Pretty dull paint-wise and not the best version of this model. The Ork skull was the most fun part to paint of the whole model! It must also be noted that this dude has the most detailed buns of any GW model. 

Commisar Greig and his cuffing paw.

This figure is so beautifully sculpted. I'm a massive sucker for anything with books or scrolls and this model ticks all the right boxes for me. The entire range of Commissars that came out around 07' / 08' time are perfect. If any figure is worthy of a big hero base, it's this dude. 

Random Guardsman Squad. 

A great deal of people go on about the original Rogue Trader era Imperial Guard figures, but I think that the plastic Cadians really do come out on top as being the most successful at capturing the feel of the 'nameless trillions'. Don't get me wrong, I have a massive soft spot for the original IG plastics, but the clunkiness of their sculpts and awkwardness of their poseability (not to mention their increasing cost!) is a massive detraction from putting them together. This army features four squads with exactly the same armoury as the one pictured above, separated into two platoons of twenty, headed by a command squad. 

Leman Russ armoured column.

The original Leman Russ tanks from 96' are still my favourite incarnation. The newer versions didn't exactly change anything for the better and the weapon options seem a bit over the top. For me,  nothing says 'Imperial Guard' more so that than particular silhouette. So good I decided to include three! The banner on the lead tank is green-stuff and came out okay. I think I'll miss these guys most of all.

The Hieronian 23rd Irregulars  -Veteren Squad

Not content with painting fifty of the normal IG troops (paint sadist) these guys were the last of the infantry completed for this army. Being veterans, they look slightly more grizzled (helped out by the great GW IG head set) and have loads of kit and better weaponry. The Valkyrie was bought especially to be their ride as the visuals of these guys being deployed amidst a hail of missile fire was too good to miss. Oh, there's some Sentinels in the background too, but they're pretty boring so don't get their own picture.

'God damn sexual Tyrannosaurus'

The leader is a stand-in to represent the heavy-bolter toting Catachan Sgt 'Stonetooth' Harker. He's based on the classic Necromunda Orlock heavy stubber fella. If I ever played this guy, you can guarantee that I'd be annoying the hell out of everyone by quoting Jessie Ventura from Predator constantly.

Von Sharpe's Nuisances.

I love these figures so much. Von Sharpe's Ratlings are flies in the ointment of anyone's plan. My old friend Rory had a squad of these that constantly ruined any hope of victory I may have had.

Rough Riders are a formation that never gets the attention it deserves. I was always obsessed with the idea of using cavalry in future wars and when the Attilians were released I was bitterly disappointed with their look. Those figures really are the pits. I always imagined that Rough Riders would be specific to the planet of their origin, so these guys ended up looking suitably Germanic. These were some of the first finished figures for this army and were painted when the new Citadel washes were released - the washes were instrumental in achieving the natural tones on the horses. That stuff really is 'skill in a bottle'!

Rough Rider Sgt Lossow.

Really like this figure in particular. Pretty sure it was the first plastic horse I've ever painted too. Stoked on how the dapples came out on the neck. Really happy with the pose on the Sgt too. He's all like 'whoa there' and stuff.


More detail of the Sgt. Most of the additional parts for the Rough Riders came from the Empire Pistoliers and Outriders set - some great bits on those kits! Really glad that the newer 40k kits are getting the same kind of multi-unit treatment as the Fantasy box sets these days.

Too big for a shelf!

Pretty sure it wouldn't be an Imperial Guard army without a Baneblade. This thing really is a big kit. It was a moving in present from my Brother back in 2008 and I had a lot of fun painting it. However it really is the biggest thing in the world and it's never on display. One other thing that bums me out about it is that I always imagine playing Warhammer 40000 as a skirmish game - something that super-heavy tanks should rarely if ever feature in. That said, it really does have great tabletop presence.

Wish the engine in my car looked like this.

Love the back end on this, the detail on the altar at the back is a wonderful contrast to the plebeian look of the rest of the vehicle. Using the Imperial Armour Forgeworld modelling guide, I had loads of fun modelling little chips and wear all over the Baneblade. If you're ever in doubt about buying those books, put those niggling thoughts aside and purchase - book one in particular is fantastic.

'Pretty sure we can just park it here,..'

Finally, the Valkyrie gunship. This is another large kit that is too awkward to display. It's primary purpose is to drop the aforementioned veterans into battle. However, more often than not, it's used by me to fly around the house in making aeroplane noises. It's a pretty mundane kit, the best bits are the engines and the spare pilots you get. These guys were modelled to represent downed survivors, using a map to find their way home.


So that's those guys! Pretty sure I'll miss them something awful, but I can't just keep stuff for the sake of 'what-ifs' if I'm only ever playing the game 6-7 times a year. Plus, there's always the chance to build and paint a better, more display-friendly force with the skills these guys taught me. I'll be popping these guys up on evilbay soon, complete with two older copies of Codex Imperial Guard and a large army carry-case. If anyone knows anybody who's after some Space Prussians from the future drop me a line!