Monday, 10 December 2018

Naughty Chaos Spawn

I love the Spawn kits with all their wibbly options. I intend to add a trio of these degenerates to my Night Lords army. I got them all to a certain stage of prep, then rushed ahead and completed this guy.

After his black undercoat I hit him with Mephiston Red spray from one side. This did much of the complex blending for me, and I highlighted him up from there. I added a tiny bit of armour plating to each's shoulder. This allowed me to apply the distinctive Night Lords metallic blue which defines the collection. The red Blood For The Blood God really added a bit of 'pop' at the last stage as it vibrates against the blue.

You can take Spawn as part of the Chaos Cultist Necromunda gang (the rules for which were printed in White Dwarf a while back). So he's double the fun (which is totally an expression which needs to be used in conjunction with Spawn).


Thursday, 6 December 2018

Krawl - dungeoncrawling in the Age of Sigmar

Dungeons? In Age of Sigmar? This must be...

I've been really enjoying building up a collection of Citadel fantasy 'randoms' (for want of a better term). Odds and sods from the history of Games Workshop, from classic Oldhammer lead minis to some of the beautiful plastics now available. I just choose what I like. And it turns out what I like are little 'grunts' - just rank and file guys. Few are heroes, most are just characterful fellows representing the archetypes of their race or faction. Some are converted, many are not.

But I wanted a structure to what was clearly becoming serious collection. And I love branding. And the dungeoncrawl genre. And card floorplans. So when you mix it all together you get this:

The thing I like about the dungeoncrawl genre is that it doesn't rely on multiples of miniatures. Finding a grot, a tzaangor and an ogor in a room in a dungeon is just fine, thank you (though goodness knows what they were doing there before you kicked down the door...). Games Workshop has explored the genre a little with their Warhammer Quest series of games and in doing so produced some excellent floorplans. While I own and treasure the Silver Tower set, sadly I don't own the Hammerhal ones. As long-time readers will know, I also have an extensive archive of Oldhammer floorplans dating from the late 80s.

So, AoS_Krawl is about...
  1. Collecting whatever random individual minis you like;
  2. Slapping down some 2D floorplans (be they Oldhammer, modern or homemade), and;
  3. Letting your hero(es) krawl, level up, equip loot... and krawl some more...
How am I going to achieve the last of these aims? Krawl isn't wedded to any particular system. In the same way as its genetic material is a hybrid of old and new, I suspect any rules I employ will be a fusion. Heck, I might even be tempted to dig out my old Combat Cards and work with them (which, incidentally, have been rebooted for 40K). Let me get back to you on this.

Here are some alternate modes to try:
  • Roguelike: While traditional RPG dungeoncrawling was about a party of cooperating holier-than-thau-goodie-two-shoes, there emerged in video games the 'roguelike' where a lone hero would chop his way through a dungeon. Perfect if your single, unhinged Vampire Blood Knight wants to go on a murderhobo killing spree.
  • Splatterpunk: Inspired by 1980s horror genre of the same name, this is all about grotesque, excess gore. In my head this looks like the Splatterhouse video games. Why not create alternate duplicates of tiles swamped in body parts and blood to mark the progress of your 'heroes'? 
  • Ironic Hipster Indie Adventure: WHY DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP KILLING EVERYONE? Stop being a murderfiend and talk to the denizens of your dungeon. To avoid this getting twee, go and play Sword and Sworcery [sic] to see how a good script can turn a simple set of encounters into a beautiful and hilarious fantasy tale. Then kill things.
  • Crawl: No, this is not unimaginatively titled, but the name of a great multiplayer cross-genre video game. From Wikepedia: 
    The main player advances through randomly generated dungeons as a human hero while up to three other spirit players control the dungeon's enemies and traps to kill the main player. The spirit player who kills the human hero swaps roles to become the next main player.

    This game is hilariously fun and frenetic and is begging for a tabletop conversion. I think I've just done it right here. You can have it for free.
  • Nidhogg 2: Based on the game of the same name, with an awesome soundtrack. Kinda hard to explain, but two opponents face off in the centre of a long corridor of rooms and go at one another as they try to reach the opposite end. When one dies, the survivor can pick up the abandoned weapon, but, either way, the victim immediately respawns between their enemy and the end with a shiny new weapon. Rinse and repeat going back and forth until one combatant gets to the opposite end. Cue much gaffawing.
Fancy some music to accompany your delvings? Check out Heimat der Katastrophe, pioneers of 'dungeon-drone'.
Great dungeoncrawl movies to check out are:
Big Trouble in Little China
Indiana Jones
At the Earth's Core
Lord of the Rings (the 1978 version, obviously)

The Mummy (1999)
Trapdoor (the 80s kids claymation series, which is surprisingly good and hilarious to boot)
I was going to recommend 80s classic Knightmare, them I re-watched bits on YouTube and remembered it was bobbins.

Wow. That's a lot. Please have a go at Krawl yourself as a framework to justify collecting and painting all those fantasy randoms you love. Let me know in the comments how you get on.

Friday, 9 November 2018

(More) Chaos Cultists

I finished a trio of Cultists for my Night Lords. These chaps join the quintet I completed a few months back. I'm kinda regretting the blue shaded black. It looks lovely but it's proving quite laborious to roll out over so many minis. Lesson learned about considering workload if I intend to paint a whole army.

I think I have another three to go before I'll call it done. This forthcoming batch include the leader, who I'm rather looking forward to lavishing a bit more attention on.

Of note is the photography. I'm pleased with the result but I need to refine the process a bit as the minis are currently proving quite laborious to clip out. The gloss black bases and gloss surface look really nice and lend even these fairly basic paint jobs a touch of class.


Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Remember these guys? Me neither, apparently.

Turns out I'd criminally forgotten to post my squad of Warlocks. I must have finished them a couple of years ago and they've had a few outings on the tabletop.

I'm quite disappointed by my choice of colours for them. I feel I applied the principle that they sport the colourway of the Craftworld too rigidly (in this case, a very early Rogue Trader-era scheme). This has left them rather dull I feel. When these sculpts first appeared, the Studio Eldar army was a gloriously multi-coloured affair. Not only did each of the Aspects having its own colourway, each individual Warlock sported different livery. This gave them a sense of being special as befits their background. If I do a second unit I'll go down that road I think.

Actually I want to make any future units of Aspect Warriors a bit brighter and more varied. I've gone down the 'grey' route too much for the Dire Avengers I feel, but the Scorpions and Spiders are a bit brighter and that's something I want to pursue.

Craftworld overly-Greyjoy.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Nobody expects...

...a T'au Stealth Suit!

No, me neither. This guy was very much an experiment in both colourway and painting technique. I wanted to see if I could knock something out quickly and I'm fairly pleased with the result. Clearly the spatter was a a big part of this, done with Citadel Shades and a tooth brush. The colours are based on a submarine interior. Clearly this chap has had some contact with humankind as he's sporting an Arabic numeral. This gives him a 'Maschinen Krieger' feel.

Not sure if I'd do more T'au, but I'm thinking of varying my Blood Angels a bit by adding some Angels Encarmine Death Company, who invert the scheme to be red crosses over a white base.

Ah, hobby dreams...

Thursday, 1 November 2018

The crazy world of Giger knock-offs

Let’s face it, even if you don’t like or appreciate his work, Giger had an immeasurable effect on many different creative forms. His uncanny, gothic, necrophiliac finger prints can be felt to this day in films, comics, sci-fi and horror art. His most famous creation, the ‘big guy’ from Ridley Scott’s Alien, has entered the cannon of horror archetypes, alongside Karloff’s Frankenstein and Lugosi’s Dracula. The alien has even solidified into stone, and graces this cathedral as a gargoyle.

Sometimes these derivative works are quite good. Most of the time, not so much. But there is a breed of lurid, psychedelic, technicolour Giger-inspired design that emerged in 90s video games which is close to my heart. What follows is a whistle stop tour of some of the greats. I going to forgo individual commentaries and just discuss what they have in common.

Clumsy handling of the bio-mechanical aesthetic is one shared attribute. But I love the way Giger’s subtle, transparent necrotic flesh is reinterpreted (badly) as lumpy airbrush forms. His fine arterial-like pipework becomes chubby vacuum hoses that cling awkwardly to surfaces. His voluptuous, almost-human mouths with ever-so-slightly enlarged canine teeth become goofy maws filled with fangs that would make a deep sea fish jealous. But the 90s was an era of hope after the po-faced nuclear despair and depression that dogged the 80s. And the decade’s optimism can be detected in video games, which, with the dawn of the 16-bit era, now had enough pixels and colours to actually represent what customers saw on the box art. Thus, titles like Alien Storm brought you face to face with knock-off Giger baddies to blast away.

Kudos needs to go to blogger Why I'm Not An Artist, who had the exact same idea for this post two years ago. And Bloody Disgusting. But by the time I found their pieces I'd written this, so I figured I'd publish and be damned anyway.

Alien Storm - teaching kids how to win friends and influence people

Xenophobe, a bit earlier than the era I'm concerned with, but the artwork is so 'great' I couldn't resist including it.

R-Type didn't even have the decency to even try with their advertising - the artist just drew an alien and figured that was fine.

Shadow of the Beast creators Psygnosis enlisted Roger Dean to create their box art and gave us some Giger homages in a couple of their levels.

Turrican's boss looks familiar, in a clumsy way. Kind of like a puppy. With too many teeth.

Z-Out didn't want to be left behind so channelled some Giger love. Consonant-[shortword] was clearly a popular name choice thanks to R-Type.

Contra III also got in on the biomechanics action.

Devil Crash even managed to get some Giger into a pinball game.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Nikon EM

As a symptom of my obsession with the 1970s I'm starting to collect Nikon cameras from that period. I think I'm going to end up like Dennis Hopper from Apocalypse Now.

Or as Raoul Duke's ill-fated photographer Lacerda from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Both of whom carry Nikons.

Anyway, I bought a 1970s Nikon EM. Here's the little fellow:

History, or 'her'story

Nikon dominated the pro camera market in the late 20th century thanks to their rugged builds and comprehensive mostly-backwards-compatible lens system. Alas it's only in the 21st century that poor Nikon has rather lost the lead. Canon took over as the pro's favourite thanks to superior autofocus and lens quality.

Despite their market dominance, Nikon made a bit of a miss-step in the late 70s too with the poor little EM. Nikon Corporation was revealed to be a bunch of inept patriarchs with their rather misguided attempt to market a camera to women. They believed women were too stupid to understand the complexities of manual SLR photography so they developed a cheap camera body which dispensed with... well, choice. And because women love it when you remove their ability to choose, we quickly sussed the EM was a rubbish option and sales were low. The model was discontinued after only three years.

Don't forget to practice in front of a mirror, girls! The EM manual.

The geeky bit

The EM is an aperture-priority-only camera. It has no speed dial. The internal light meter is used to tell you, you stupid woman, what shutter speed you should have selected, had you been given the choice. It does, however, give you a 'B' (bulb) option and a mechanically controlled 1/90s option if you were blonde enough to let the batteries die. For those freaks-of-nature of womankind who can comprehend such things, it also offers limited control with a -2 exposure compensation button. But careful ladies, overuse of this could be dangerous. Probably best to concentrate on kittens and children.

You can, in fact, 'fool' the camera into more subtle exposure compensation by adjusting the ISO dial on the fly. Ha ha! Take that, Nikon!

So why bother?

Good question. Well, a couple of reasons. Today these cameras are dead cheap (mine was £25 in mint condition) and it's a nice addition to my 1970s collection. With its f-mount any of Nikon's top quality lenses can be used so you'll get really nice results. Also, while the build quality was inferior in the 70s, that was the era when They Made Things Properly. In the words of Ash from Alien, the EM is actually a 'tough little son of a bitch' by today's standards. Sure, not as rugged as my FM, but sturdy nonetheless (although the rewind crank on mine seems a bit weak). It's also a bit smaller and a lot lighter than my FM. So I'm going to chuck it in my travel bag safe in the knowledge that if it gets lost/stolen/dropped (or, as a woman, I just forget it while I'm thinking about dresses) then it's no big deal.

I'll post some photos. In about a year when I've taken them, had them developed, then had the time to scan in the negs.


A Woman.