Saturday, 27 June 2020

Miniatures Without Borders raffle

A quick note to say get yourself over to the excellent raffle set up by Echoes of Imperium. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. The collab between myself and Jellyrovers is one of the prizes and there are some fantastic others in there.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Converted Epic Silver Tower

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a… what is that thing? It’s like a large, kind of silver floating tower. Ah, it’ll probably be fine. If we ignore it, it’ll almost certainly go away...

One of the great opportunities my crazy-tiny Epic project has provided is to re-appropriate 28mm Citadel components to 6mm. I suspect I’m going to be doing a lot of this for terrain going forward. But another outcome has been a re-imagining a classic war machine using modern bitz. Just like the goold old Tzeentchian Silver Tower. My previous post talked about the genesis of this project and the build.

Now the painting is finished I can sit back and enjoy the view. And pray to the Emperor that this terrifying (yet graceful) war machine doesn’t happen to float this way.

Painting turned out to be a two-part affair insofar as I left the main tower off and painted it separately, correctly surmising that it was going to be tricky to reach some of its detail. Spraying the base white and the tower silver was a good start, and then I went crazy with Retributor Amrour, various Contrast Paints and finally some gloss varnish on the gems.

I’m pretty happy with the result. I feel like I captured the vibe of what I set out to achieve, and while not exactly as Rapunzel-tower-like as I imagined it’s suitably weird and adequately imposing when placed next to the tiny Epic infantry models.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Epic adventures continue

My tiny foray into the diminutive realm of ‘pocket 40K’ continues! The largest addition, both in terms of size and work, has been a terrain tile. In fact, it’s less a tile, and more a glorious millionaire's-shortbread chunk of a thing.

I had been thinking for a while that my tiny guys deserved a setting, which led to a bit of pondering. While my tiny minis are taking on a 2nd edition vibe, I wasn’t keen to mimic the terrain of the era. It was super-colourful to the point that the minis often got rather lost on the boards. That bright green and yellow Orks might blend in is saying something!

During the lockdown I’ve watched a documentary or two about WWII and the images of war ruined cities like Berlin and Stalingrad burned into my mind. Looking at photos of them I was struck by how the palette was both so monochrome and so… inverted. In many cases the ground was dust-choked to the point it was almost white, while the buildings were black thanks to the awful fires which raged up them.

The other thing that was interesting was the undulation of the ground. Piles of rubble would tower over the roads, while in other places the ground would collapse into the sewers or basements. I wanted to reflect this rather grim reality of war in the tile.

With the main sculpting done I added some of the amazing Specialist Games plastic Adeptus Titanicus terrain. The tiny objects are stunning! They really bring it to life… and into the 41st millennium.

Painting was super simple. It was a mix of rattle-can spray with washes over the top. Instead of modeller’s pigments I tried, seemingly with some success, a combination of Citadel’s Contrast Medium mixed with creme or grey paint to mimic the dust. I think I mixed in some baking soda to add grit. The smooth transitions of the white ‘dust’ works well I feel and it’s less of a faff than pigments, which need setting with further chemicals or they rub off on your hands if you touch them. Which is annoying. I also drybrushed in black, rather than light tones. This mimicked the way the dust would sink into the recesses while the upper surfaces would remain dark. Counterintuitive, but it looks pretty good.

I wanted the tiles to act as display bases too. I chose the 9x9cm format as I had found some dinky little 10cm³ display cubes on ebay. But being impatient for them to arrive I began the sculpting before the display boxes were delivered. More due to blind luck than anything else, it all came together perfectly. The tile fits the box like a dream.

My itsy bitsy Blood Angels and Chaos lads have also received reinforcements. These take the form of classic red Terminators and Death Company for the former, and some Thousand Sons for the latter.

The iconography on the loyalists wasn’t easy but I felt it came out well enough. By 2nd edition the BA system of markings had solidified, with the Studio having rolled-out the Sergeant’s black shoulder pads to the Terminators too. It’s a very visible way to make him different so it works well at Epic scale.

Alas as I clipped off the Thousand Sons from the sprue, their little head-crests kept snapping. I was left with a bit of a mess. So I made the unwise decision to convert them by adding tiny bits to make up for the lost details. This was… challenging. But the result is a nice variation in their silhouettes, with one sporting the more modern pharaonic headdress which has come to signify the automaton-like sods. In the photo below they’re pretty much done apart from their bases.

There is perhaps an incongruity between the super-bright 2nd edition style miniatures and the rather somber verisimilitude of terrain. But I feel the dull surface actually makes the minis pop all the more. They jump out from the dull grey of the background in quite a pleasing way, so I’m calling this a ‘win’.

Next on the ever-longer to-do list of doom are some Chaos Trolls and [gasp!] a Silver Tower!

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Kitbashed Silver Tower

What floats, is nominally made of silver and worth its weight in silver on ebay? Epic Silver Towers of Tzeentch, of course!

Here's my version for 2020, kitbashed out of lovely parts from newer plastic ranges:

I've always adored the lore surrounding Silver Towers - they strike me as opulent, menacing and fractal, perfectly exemplifying their patron god. Unlike many other Chaos engines they transcend IPs and feature in all three of 40K, Warhammer* and Age of Sigmar. Of course the Age of Sigmar Warhammer Quest explored just such a tower and I was fortunate enough to make the logo when I was in the Studio:

Anyway, as my little Epic collection grows I thought a tower would be the perfect addition to the Chaos side. The old Epic models are both somewhat pricey on ebay and are a design of their times, not quite evoking the splendour of more modern depictions of the towers.

So I decided to kitbash one out of modern plastic parts. It has been so nice to see the Tzeentch range get fully fleshed out for 40K and AoS in recent years and this provides a wealth of bitz to cannibalise. Add to this some appropriate Aeldari and Drukhari parts and you, mi auld mukka, can be the proud owner of your very own silver tower! My version is pretty chonky compared to the old metal ones making it reassuringly ominous as it slider over the heads of the bewildered Imperial troops below.

More photos soon of course as I add the finishing touches and start to paint it.

*Arguably - Dave Gallagher's silver tower picture appears on p9 of the 8th edition Warhammer Daemons army book, although they're not mentioned in the text I don't think. Things called Bane Towers appeared in Man-O-War which could have been an attempt to do the Warhammer version, but it's unclear.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Black hell - a vision for the Ravewing

Some things you just can't escape.

I've done a lot of work in smaller scales of late and I thought it was high time that I returned to the comfort of grim-dark 28mm.

I've always wanted to do a Ravenwing army. At least ever since Forge World sculptor Will Hayes destroyed me with his Dark Angel bikes at a tournament way back in about 2012. Well, Master Hayes, your time has come...

One of the things that's held me back is not really finding the 'edge' I want for them. Don't get me wrong; they've always been cool. But I've just not found a way into them that suited me. The artwork is inspiring, but I couldn't figure out how to translate it to miniature form. Then I remembered these guys:

Yep, that's right. The 'Black Skulls' from the topsy-turvy-black-metal-nightmare this is Mandy. LSD freaks who have very much slipped their leashes and who exist in a hallucinogenic padaemonium all of their own.

I began to imagine the Ravenwing less as mounted medieval knights and more as lone-wolf outriders. Elite huntsmen who spend great lengths of time in small bands way beyond the reach of civilisation. Much like the various American troops we meet in Apocalypse Now, each squad has gone a little bit bonkers, sliding into their own version of reality with the help of prolongued feral isolation, their obsession with finding their traitorous brothers and probably a fair few doses of obscura. And how would their contact with The Fallen affect them? I think the influence of the traitors will have rubbed off on them - they will be vicious and terrifying.

How is all this going to play out in miniature form? Well, for a start the vehicles are going to take on a rat bike aesthetic as they've been in the field for years. The Dark Angels robes will transform into ragged spec-ops ponchos and they're certainly not going to look like noble knights. They're going to be...spikey.

This being some sort of half-baked plan, that's all for now. I'm amassing the bitz I need to do this and I'm so glad I saved the six bikers from the old Dark Vengeance set of yore.

So that's me and the Cheddar Goblin signing off.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

An Epic update

Does my 10mm stuff make your eyes hurt? Well put up, shut up and look at my 6mm lads.

My initial idea of mimicking Space Crusade has given way somewhat to doing little armies which equate to 2nd edition collections. Back in the heavy-lead days of the 1990s an army of, say, 25 miniatures was quite a force. Coupled with the bright palette of the era this really suits my style.

So, without further ado here are the latest bits I've completed. What's nice is that I've now got enough to do little diorama shots on terrain which I'm enjoying composing and photographing.

I've got a couple more Blood Angel squads on the painting table, but then I'd like to do some converted terrain which puts a stamp of individuality on the lovely scenery kits produced by the talented Specialist Games Studio.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Death in the Drakwald - the village of Dunkelhof

"If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise..."

And that surprise would be a giant Nurgling, it would seem! After a few weeks of work, my Warmaster Drakwald project is coming together. The village of Dunkelhof, as I have dubbed it, is growing in all its German Expressionist glory. I'm quite pleased how faithful the buildings are to my original concept sketches. Below are shots of the final terrain pieces.

So, what's next? As further inspiration I've been reading about German folklore and mythology and especially about the great Hercynian Forest which is a key part of the cultural underpinnings of the German people. I've also been rewatching Lang's Die Nibelungen and tying my hair in plaits. Very soon I'm going to have a kind of name sign to add to the collection. It's a bit hard to describe (I am not sure if the object has a descriptive name) - but if you look at Altdorfer's Battle of Alexander at Issus painting you can see one right there in the sky. Thereafter I'd like to do at least one more building, perhaps another stand of trees and then I'll be adding some more miniatures (likely High Elves).

However, I'm currently finishing off a batch of Epic models which I'll show very soon, and then I have a very grim-dark 28mm project to tell you about.

Stay safe everyone and avoid the Nurglings...

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Death in the Drakwald - Landschaft mit Seele

Now I'm safely out of the gravitational pull of the Bucephalus space hulk, my attention is turning once again to my 10mm Warhammer project - Death in the Drakwald.

The Drakwald itself is a vast, ancient forest running from the edge of the Wasteland to the far end of Hochland. While Mankind has made settlements there, some deep within it, the forest holds many secrets, and it does not give them up graciously. Dragons terrorised the ancient tribes and early Empire from there, until an Emperor killed the last of their kind. Still, foolhardy treasure hunters brave the depths of the Drakwald to seek the riches of a lost dragon’s lair, or perhaps their eggs, which are said to remain fertile forever and only need great heat to hatch. Deep under the forest eaves also lurk Beastmen, descendants of raiders from long ago, who breed and wait, occasionally attacking the lone farm or small group of travellers, until the time comes for Chaos to claim the north. The nobles and burghers of the province occasionally mount expeditions to root them out, but survivors always flee deeper into the forests, to wait again and regrow their numbers.
Sigmar's Heirs, 2005
I've been thinking about more terrain. Probably thinking a bit too much, if I'm honest.

While the little cottage I painted some time ago is cute, it is a bit 'generic fantasy'. And, frankly, a setting as amazing as Warhammer deserves something better.

Previously I've touched on the psychology of early twentieth century Germany and how it led to the romantic construction of the forest volk. This prompted me to read more about the art form of the period - German Expressionism - and in particular the critical work of Lotte Eisner. While the Expressionists' attention was often on cities (most notably in Metropolis) the forest appears too in works like Die Nibelungen. There are even wonky medieval buildings in the Jewish ghetto of Prague in Der Golem. This got me thinking along the track of Expressionism as a style for my terrain.

It's tempting to think of Expressionism as the caricature that it had become by the late 20th century - twisting chequered floors, janky corridors and crooked skylines all of which were endlessly cutesey-fied by Tim Burton imitators. I was pretty inspired when I discovered the intent behind the movement, which can be summed up by the term coined by Kurtz and Kalbus; landschaft mit Seele - 'landscape with soul'. The Expressionists argued that verisimilitude of the real world was simply imitation that lacked spirit. More powerful was a design which evoked the feelings of a place with shapes which had more emotional resonance.

It was this that spoke to me the most.

I've seen quite a few hobby projects which go the the n-th degree to create the miniature world in extreme detail, replete with a million kinds of flock. I must confess these can sometimes (but not always) leave me a bit tired. Something more stylised can have a much greater effect on me. Expressionist film, theatre and art wasn't all in oddly angled corridors. Der Golem and Die Nibelungen have huge exterior sets which wonderfully textured and leaning stucco buildings. It was these that inspired me to sketch out some options.

I've started sculpting my first couple of buildings. They're not quite at a stage yet where I can show them but rest assured they will get their own post soon.

Stay safe everyone!

Friday, 28 February 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - bon voyage!

I realised I hadn't posted photos of the finished Space Hulk terrain set. Sorry about that! Here are all the pieces in their final painted glory.

I'm taking a little break from hobby for a few weeks to travel and whatnot, but have plans for some crazy conversions and more scenery as we roll into spring.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

All aboard the Space Hulk - battle report

Last weekend the boarding torpedoes ruptured the ancient, scarred hull of the Bucephalus and delivered a dozen excited gamers deep into the bowels of the space hulk. Each commanded either 'scratch' squads of beautifully painted Terminators, or waves of gnarly genestealers. While the miniatures were stunning, they weren't, of course, the stars of the show. That accolade went to the hulk itself.

cpt.normandy admiring the swathes of miniatures

Each participant used the latest GW kits to make 3D versions of hulk corridors or rooms. It was a riot of twisted creativity. Offerings ranged from Quatermass-like alien abominations to gloriously polychromatic industrial sections. My own meagre offering of the medical bay was put to good use and the tiny hospital beds got used here, there and everywhere. And caused much amusement.

Rules masters in the form of the brothers Hartman initiated proceeding. While we had originally intended to play three games as either Marines or Xenos, then swap sides and re-play, the tides of the warp dictated this wasn't to be. We played three games and each kept to being humans or genestealers. I was a genestealer. My extra arms and purple skin were probably the thing that influenced that decision.

Now that's not something you see every day...

Progress was neck-and-neck at first. Marine losses were (satisfyingly) heavy at the start. And the broodmind was pleased. However, on the second game it was apparent that learning was occurring among the puny, fleshy invaders. They fared much better. A cunning use of Command Points allowed one plucky Custodes to claim the objective in this second game. I didn't know someone in Terminator armour could run that fast. Things were very even in the final game right up until the last few turns. Some sneaky (although admittedly beautifully painted) Black Templars managed to almost claim one objective. But the weakling was snipped in two by a regular 'Stealer. A Custodes did manage to find his way to the other objective. But two were needed and so it was a technical Genestealer win. Hurrah!

For me events like this are never really about the games themselves. It's the shared experience among friends I value. This is especially so when folk travel great distances to contribute to the gatherings. And that's the great thing about this hobby - it brings people (and Genestealer Hybrids) together for a shared passion. And no one minds that your skin is a bit purple and you really don't want them to meet your parents.

If you enjoyed my journey then do check out the work of all the brave hulk-skulkers:
secrets of the void