Sunday 27 September 2020

LOTR: Mounted Citadel Guard & Beregond

   I haven't felt that I have had any 'finished' things to show off for getting on for a year.  Even though I don't currently have any opponents for Lord of the Rings, my fondness for the game and its models has not abated.  Now that Games Workshop is Under New Management and has really made an effort to unite, balance and reinvigorate the Middle Earth range I have found the lure of it irresistible.  

  Unfortunately, there are still many, many gaps in the official model range, including discontinued and Out Of Print models, alongside ones that never got an official release to cover the options available in the rules.  3rd party suppliers have tried to fill the odd gap, with mixed results.  These three models are by Unreleased Miniatures, and were the very devil to put together, with big gaps needing lots of green stuff to fill in and smooth over.  They weren't cheap, either, but I am glad I've given them a go.

  The bases are from Dragon Forge, and I used brass rod to pin the pewter models to them.  There was an unfortunate incident involving the squished looking one on the right hand side, and eventually the back legs will tear / snap.  When that happens I'll have to re-pin and re-paint bits of it but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

  I used a Dheneb Stone equivalent from Instar paints for the stone of the base, washed it with Agrax Earthshade, then drybrushed Ulthuan Grey.  I tried various colours around the edge of the base to emphasise the pale stone but none of them worked so I just went right back to Chaos / Abaddon Black which I think works best.

  Next, I am going to work on the official GW models of these figures dismounted!

Wednesday 2 October 2019

EPIC: Space Wolves Vehicles

  I haven't posted in a while!

  I have managed to get some energy for painting my Epic, concentrating on my Space Wolves.  This is due in part to finding a local person who has been kind enough to really teach me the rules of Epic: Armageddon and about list building.

These Drop Pods are figurative models, used more as markers than actual vehicles in the game.  Technically you could just use a marker for them but I mean, that could be said about absolutely anything in wargaming!  They had an in built base but I worried about it getting chipped in handling so I glued them to Renedra 40mm round bases.

These Predator Annihilators are anti armour tanks.  These are the original Games Workshop models, which are a bit chunky.  As with most of my GW models they are from the last hurrah of Specialist Games just before the range got scrapped in 2013.  As such they are latter day casts and are a bit wonky but paint hides a lot of sins!

These Predator Destructors are the much more modern and svelte fan-casts which are sadly no longer available.  Predators in Epic can be mixed and matched in pairs, so usually I deploy them in formations of two of each so that they can target both enemy armour and infantry effectively.

These Razorbacks have a rather muddy yellow on them as I started painting them with discontinued colours half a decade ago and couldn't face the rigmarole of stripping and repainting them from scratch!  I thought I wouldn't be using them so much but now I'm wondering if I should have more.

These rhinos have some symbols on them from when I used to fuss and get incredibly over ambitious about projects without actually finishing them!   One is a Warhammer 40k scale Wolf Guard Terminator shield, one is a Forge World brass etch, the other four are resin symbols, again from Forge World.

These tanks were ones I had started painting with now discontinued colours years ago - but I stuck with them, repainting them in Army Painter 'Wolf Grey' and I'm really glad I did!

On my table next are more Wolves, but I have got some Orks and Tyranids on my mind as well!

Monday 18 February 2019

Epic Space Wolves: Now With Snow!

  Things have moved on a bit!

  I don't have as much painted as I would like, which is an Eternal Mood, alas.

  I have been challenged by someone new I have met at a local gaming club to concentrate on Epic and really get at least some of one of my own armies ready to play with.  So, I went and properly polished off my infantry and salvaged the first of a series of Space Wolf tanks, variously from Games Workshop or third parties.

  When I started these, it must have been half a decade ago. I finished a single Rhino tank on a Flames of War base and it wasn't bad for essentially a 'first properly painted model'.  Since that time, though, Games Workshop have, in their eternal wisdom, decided to change their entire paint range.  In addition, third party suppliers have either provided their own paints to compete through quality, or to compete through offering gaps that Games Workshop have opened in the market by discontinuing older colours that long term fans may be a fan of.

I've decided to make the main colour of all of my Space Wolves the Army Painter 'Wolf Grey' paint.  I think it's a good compromise between the different shades that official Space Wolves models have been painted by Games Workshop over the years.

  It's all still a learning process but have decided to try for better contrast and brighter colours as I evolve as a painter.  The Whirlwind tanks up above are much brighter with grungy but still eye catching dirt painted into their recesses.  The tanks I began painting years ago are being painted anew to give them the same look, and mounted on round Renedra 30mm bases so they 'look right' to my eye.

  I found a problem with the 'strip' bases.  Epic are 6mm scale troops, small but with chunky base bottoms, designed to fit into slots.  Games Workshop stopped selling those bases along with all Specialist Games stuff in the Great Dying of 2013, but thankfully, third party bases sell equivalents, the best ones currently available being sold by the excellent Vanguard Miniatures.

  I finally had a couple of games at a local club to learn the rules, thanks to a chance encounter with a new friend.  I struggled with some of the basics of Epic: Armageddon, which is very different from the old Space Marine game I used to play as a kid, but I think I am getting the hang of it after a couple of games.

  I managed to get a hold of some wonderful Eldar proxies in 6mm, but I want to force myself to concentrate on the Space Wolves before splitting my attentions between two armies.  One 'cheat' I've found is the new texture paint from Games Workshop, 'Valhallan Blizzard'.  I was very skeptical of a lot of the new Citadel range as they are very hit and miss for me, but I gave this gritty fake snow a try and it works a charm.  They claim you can peter it out a bit to make it look like slush but I haven't managed to get that looking right.  I also tried using the Citadel gloss varnish called 'Ardcoat to do that but again, didn't get the right look.  In any case, I've found it a superior addition to these bases compared with how the old Citadel Snow white flock looked.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

EPIC: Space Wolf Infantry Formations

  These are not technically finished units, as they are unvarnished and have no snow or scatter on their bases.  However, I wanted to post something to prove I'd made progress.

  First up are some Blood Claws.  The fan-made Space Wolves army lists in Epic are still being play-tested.  This means that I might simply proxy these as Tactical Marines in a vanilla Codex Astartes list.  With all of these models I went for brighter colours than might be expected - favouring red on the chainswords and bolt pistols, as well as on the backback exhausts.  I wanted different units to 'pop' and be 'readable' from across the table.

  These are the Grey Hunters, who are ostensibly the backbone of a Space Wolves force.  They lack heavy weapons but that can be compensated for by having Razorbacks supplement their free Rhino transports.  The younger Skyclaws and Bloodclaws I painted with red and pale hair and beards, with the Grey Hunters and Scouts having more black and brown hair, to suggest their relative age and experience.

  The Scouts are quite small and fiddly, their official colours dominated by blue-grey, which made them a bit duller to paint.  The trousers they wear are a khaki though, which adds some contrast.  They're not technically meant to have sniper rifles unless you pay for them as an upgrade but I needed to add those so as not to use duplicate sculpts on each stand.

  My finished Skyclaws are my favourite.  Essentially the same sculpts as the Blood Claws, just with jump packs instead of backpacks, these break up the outline of the model and allow some bright blue exhaust colour to add contrast.

  There was lots of fiddly detail all over these models, such as wolf pelts and wolf tail totems.  I'm sure I probably missed something here or there, but there's point where you're squinting at tiny little toy soldiers a quarter inch high and you realise there's only so much effort you can put into them!

Wednesday 4 July 2018

EPIC: Space Wolves WIP

  I've been wanting to learn and play EPIC: Armageddon for years.  Space Marine 2nd edition, as it was then called in the early 90s, was my first ever GW experience, bought by my older brother, who collected Space Orks.

  I never really stuck with a side as a little kid, barely understanding the rules and mostly making them up as I went along, hopping from one bunch of unpainted plastic to another playing on a bedroom floor.  I enjoyed reading the background and poring over the artwork even more than rolling dice.  Eventually I got a grab bag of Eldar 2nd hand to try out Epic 40,000, but again, that was moth balled.

  Eventually it was Warmaster which caught on in my local club when I floated it, in terms of an obsolete, unsupported Games Workshop game, and that is where my painting and modelling energies went for a few years.

  A few years ago I bought a mix of Space Marines, Grey Knights and Eldar but never got a head of steam to really paint them up properly.  A couple of people in the new clubs I've visited have suggested an interest in Epic and it would be great to get people to dig out their own old abandoned projects and revive them.

  So, I've dug up the models and I can see the really obvious mistakes I made painting them first time around, and how I've improved painting in the years between.  In addition, a couple of Games Workshop colours I used no longer exist so I've had to figure out a new paint scheme. I've tried repainting some of the old tanks, using these Whirlwinds as a test formation and I think they're coming along really nicely.

Instead of slathering wash / shade all over the models like I did in the past, I'm pin-washing; carefully applying shade into recesses.  Also, I'm mixing orange and bright brown into a rusty looking glaze to suggest wear and tear and accumulated grime.

  This is my first test stand for infantry, starting with Skyclaws, who are in essence, assault marines for Space Wolves.  I'm going for quite bright colours, more red and yellow than I would perhaps do on 28mm models because I really want things to stand out and be readable from a distance.  I figure their Great Company shoulder markings might as well be Ragnar Blackmane, simply so that I get an excuse to do a flash of yellow on what might end up being very grey looking models, overall.

  I'm really happy with these, so far.  They're going more slowly than I would like but it's more progress in a fortnight I've made at all over the past  few months or so.

Friday 18 May 2018

Still Alive!

I feel like I've settled into the North East nicely, and it's lovely to be near more of my family.

I'm lucky enough to have a car so I can explore clubs that are further away from me than MAD Gamers was down South.

So far I've explored five, and experienced an exceptionally warm welcome in all of them!

Newcastle Warlords
Whitley Bay 3D Gamers
Contempible Little Wargames Club
The Rusted Revolver Gaming
Heaton Games Society

A useful website which collated a list of such clubs was the Edge of Empire podcast blog, which has a general North-East club list in the link, there.


People play all kinds of different games.  Often the age range of the players determines what is fashionable at any one time.  Clubs with younger folks definitely stick more to newer games and the systems that Games Workshop have currently available.

With that in mind I tried to get a hold of some Age of Sigmar figures and that's why I dug out my Space Wolves to paint some test figures for them.

Of course, being the self-sabotaging make-everything-difficult-for-myself kind of person I am, I decided that the paint scheme for my Stormcast Eternals should be one of the harder ones to do.

Instead of the "chapters" which Space Marines are organised into in Warhammer 40,000, the Stormcast Eternals are instead themed around "Chambers" with different colours and icongraphy.  One which appealed to me is called the Knights Excelsior, with a mostly white, blue and gold scheme.  The iconography of this faction is meant to be an eclipse, not the hammer of the starter set models.

  However, there is a similarly coloured chamber mentioned in the Stormcast rulebook called the Maelstrom of Light.  I thought that that was a good enough excuse to be able to mix iconography in my force.  I haven't quite finished this test model, it's not been varnished and I haven't added any grass to the base, but felt it was good enough to show off a picture.


  I also began my second 40k squad, this time of Space Wolf Scouts.  Again, going back to models I glued haphazardly half a decade a go then mothballed reminds me of all the mistakes I made and learned from.  There are so many fiddly, hard to paint nooks and crannies in these models due to how I glued them!  I have to remind myself: these are not Golden Demon models, they just have to be good enough to push around a tabletop.


And here is evidence of me actually playing a game!  At the Contemptible Little Wargames Club I demonstrated a game of Warmaster; Chaos versus High Elves.  It was a lot of fun as Warmaster is the only game I can lay on entirely by myself, terrain and armies, fully painted.  Even two full armies and terrain don't fill up too many boxes as it's only 10mm in scale.  This photo is from me tidying up a lot of casualties at the game end, most of them mine!

A couple of other wargamers have mentioned that they might have some models for Warmaster lying around.  It was never as popular as Epic but it does create some fascination in being an official Warhammer universe game in a smaller scale.  I hope that if I convince others to join in for a game or two I might get some regular opponents - even if I have to provide the models!

Sunday 28 January 2018

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolves Long Fang Pack

A fortnight later than intended, I have completed my first ever Warhammer 40k squad!

I learned a lot with these chaps and hopefully the next models in the army will go slightly quicker for me.  There's still things that I haven't quite got the hang of yet like painting certain jewels or the eyes of Space Marine helmets, but my edge highlighting and glazes and layering are all improving.

I built these years ago without thinking about the logistics of painting and getting my brush into corners etc.  So there was a lot of wasted and duplicated work on the chest / face / weapon as a result. The heavy weapons are worst, I think the others won't be as bad. I actually find the large, flat surfaces frustrating as I want to glaze them then highlight them.  In addition, free hand looks really awful unless it's perfect.  I gave up adding stuff to the purity seals as it looked amateurish and I redid the text on the leader's shoulder pad twice until the made up runes looked tidy enough.

I had some trouble learning how to do the Transfers as well.  Unfortunately, Forge World have stopped producing the large Space Wolves transfer sheet which has the full range of Great Company markings, so I have to be extra careful not to mess up these ones as I put them on.

Games Workshop currently produces a Transfer Sheet but it focuses on the three most well known Great Companies and doesn't have as much variety as the old Forge World one.  These folks have a mix of honour markings, runes on their knee pads and pack markings as I'm not going to be too concerned about creating perfect packs with matching symbols a I may need to swap around different weapons or change pack sizes.

These chaps are all from Gunnar Red Moon's Great Company.  The Space Wolves have 12 Great Companies, roughly equivalent in size to the standard Companies of normal Space Marine chapters.  Each is led by a Wolf Lord who picks his heraldry on ascending to the position.

 My rough idea, even years ago, was that I would like a Space Wolf army that suggests a mixture of different packs from different Great Companies, to allow different armour colourations and just generally to make it a more visually interesting army.  In the Codex, the Wolf Lords are described as having particular preferences for different units and tactics - Gunnar Red Moon favours Long Fangs, hence my decision to give them his symbol on their left shoulder pads.

Before I put on any transfers I used a Gloss Varnish to create a smooth surface on the area.  I used Games Workshop's "'Ardcoat" diluted with a little Lahmian Medium and that worked well enough.  I used Vallejo Decal Medium and Vallejo Decal Fix, but confusingly the official video tutorial from the Vallejo Youtube channel contradicts the FAQ PDF file on the Vallejo website.  One says to put the Fix on first, then the medium, and the other flatly says the opposite.  In the end I went with the water based fixer first, then used the alcohol based medium to soften the edges of the transfer once it was in place.  I used the medium several times and the edges of the transfers are much less noticeable now.

Another thing I had to learn to do was to get flat transfers to conform to curved surfaces.  This is a bit tricky and required something a lot sharper than my bog standard Citadel Hobby Knife.  This tutorial from the From The Warp blog was very helpful in explaining that it helps to, if possible, create relief cuts in the decal to allow it to conform to an uneven surface   My Dad gave me a spare scalpel he had with a fresh blade and I went about giving it a go.  The result isn't perfect but I am happy with it so far!

Wednesday 10 January 2018

New Beginnings

 It is Future Year 2018!

I have moved into a new area and am seeking out new life and new civilisations!  Or perhaps i'm just after a chance to roll some dice in a new wargaming club.

Thankfully, the closest club, the Newcastle Warlords, is only 15 minutes drive away.  Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40k are popular there so I have dug out some neglected, amateur models from half a decade ago to give 40k a punt!

There's a lot of things wrong with these models - lots of mistakes in how they were put together.  However, the time when I would have stressed out about that has long since passed and I am going to do the minimum of fussing as I prepare and paint them.  I am trying new things as I haven't painted 28mm in years and what I did was for vastly different models such as Dark Age plastics for SAGA or Infinity Ariadna forces.

The picture above is the first finished "test model" of a Space Wolves Long Fang, a long range support model.  I'm still learning how to use transfers and get consistent colours on such large, smooth surfaces that armour like this offers.

I hope to be posting a lot more here than over the past few months where I got very little done.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Perfect is the Enemy of Good

Sometimes I should just leave well enough alone.

A second attempt at spraying my LOTR chaps, this time with a pale grey, ended up with horrible "frosting" across much of them.  This was an attempt to "fix" the initial grey paint which I felt wouldn't stick as a primer.

So - a month of off and on paint stripping, regluing, rebasing etc. began.

However, whilst that's been going on, some packages have arrived and I have been busy prepping some new models.  A mix of Unreleased Miniatures models and Games Workshop ones now make up my army, with some bases from Dragon Forge and Micro Art Studios.  Now they are finally "ready", if unpainted, it feels good to say there is some visible progress!

I love the Kingdoms of Men generally and like the idea of allied forces from different regions. My main desire was for Fiefdoms with Minas Tirith allies. Frustratingly a lot of hero and even troop models are OOP so I've had to be patient on eBay.

I am hoping that with Games Workshop re-investing in Middle Earth as a setting in 2018 there will be opportunities for new models or re-releases of older ones as time goes on.

Sunday 17 September 2017

Autumn Beckons

Summer ended, not with a bang, but with a whimper!
I just realised that I haven't posted in a couple of months - mostly because I have ground to a halt, hobby-wise!  I got most of the way through an Empire Knight unit for Warmaster and thought it looked superb.  Here's the finished test strip with a coin for scale.

Alas, I burned myself out and felt I must do something different, having spent so long doing nothing but Warmaster.

Then an unfortunate thing happened - I got excited about another army and game system!

So I have been on eBay and on the GW webstore and have some lovely Lord of the Rings armies of Good - namely "Fiefdoms" and Gondor.  Essentially, Fiefdoms is a catch all for allies of Gondor - including all the things mentioned in the books that didn't even get a nod from Peter Jackson in the films.

I love the idea of having a pool of troops to make a small army or warband in a similar scale to a SAGA battle but with fantasy elements.  LOTR focuses less on units but rather each individual model and it's placement and luck in combat is important, with different elements able to support one another.

I splashed out on nice resin bases from Mico Art Studios and faffed about basing them and prepping them, then the first thing I did was make a huge cock up!

I went to undercoat them with this grey spray paint I got from GW.

Well, apparently, the non black and white colours that GW have are not actually primers like the ones from rival companies are.

They are still meant to be sprayed over primer.

So now I have 10 infantry and 6 cavalry which look OK to the naked eye but I'm googling and getting mixed answers from people who say it will peel and others saying it's fine.  After leaving it for a day the paint did not scrape off even when scratching my nail across it.  My current thinking is that - I can't be bothered properly stripping all these fellas, so I'll only strip the metal models as metal chips so easily.

Then I'm going to buy an Army Painter white and blast them all with that.  When I finish painting models I always paint on Vallejo Matt Varnish in a few coats, so I'm hoping that will be good enough to secure against my indiscretion.

Always read the fine print, kids!