Thursday, 20 January 2022

Wendy, I'm home

 Well that was a bit of a hiatus.  Nearly a year since my last post and I didn't do any hobby at all until the Christmas break.  I suppose I could put it down to Covid blues but I've got nothing to whinge about really.  I don't even know anyone who has tested positive apart from friends and relations in the UK.  I've had more or less unrestricted movement (domestically) for months.  New Zealand has weathered this storm pretty well but at the end of the day we've only stemmed the tide, not stopped it.  The spectre of plague looms over my head.  I can't quite put my finger on it, its just a vague feeling of impending doom (Climate change? Tongan volcanoes? Northland tsunamis? Listening to too much Creedence Clearwater Revival?).  I quit my lucrative contract job before the break and landed a permanent, salaried position with a bank, which offered free life insurance, a discount on my mortgage and pension contributions in the package.  If I didn't know myself better, I'd say I was running scared.  Or getting old.  Who knows, I might become a doom prepper.

Anyhoo, this was a Christmas present from my son, a 'WizKids D&D Beholder'.  He knows I've always liked these beasties and it was a subtle reminder to get back to the hobby station.  Even my ex-wife asked why I'd stopped painting. 

It is a cool model.  Nothing says D&D quite like a Beholder.  Well, apart from a Dragon I suppose.  Or a Gelatinous Cube.  Or a Hobgoblin.  Or an Umber Hulk.  Come to think of it, trying to pigeon hole D&D like that flies in the face of all that it stands for.  But it's a very familiar monster in the manual.  The kit comes with several alternative options; different eye stalks firing various bolts of nightmarish magic.  I didn't use them in the end, preferring the unsettling gaze of eleven floating eyeballs. The plastic isn't the sort you can use polystyrene cement on and there were some hideous mold lines.  Who puts a mold line directly through the surface of an eye ball, for God's sake?  But it cleaned up really well and has some lovely detail. I'm such a bloody GW fanboy, I rarely look at other products, which is a shame.

The iris and pupil are sculpted in an inverted way, which I found fascinating.  At first I wasn't sure why the sculptor did it like this.  But it models the parts of the eye much better this way.  It certainly makes the pupil look more realistic since it properly mimics the shape, which is to say, a hole.  The kit comes with a translucent 'cornea' which slots over the whole eye socket.  I experimented but found that I preferred it uncovered.  I could have merged it more seamlessly around the edges than in the photo but I didn't want to wreck the paint job, so I just got rid in the end.

The stem which connects it to the stand is translucent plastic too and I don't think you are supposed to paint it.  I got a bit lazy and couldn't be bothered basing so I tried to make it a 'pouf' of smoke.  Sort of like a magician's flourish, or an ungodly fart.  It turned out alright.  You've got to keep experimenting.

Now that I'm (sort of) in the mood, the spectre of my painting backlog looms over me.  I started on the Fusilave which was only half finished for the Maelstrom tournament back in 2020.  Man, I've really gotten out of the hobby habit.  As soon as I started painting, I decided that I didn't like it.  But instead of drifting back to the Playstation for another 2 months, I hacked its nose off and replaced it with those Mechanicus crane-block, crab-claw things that came with the Galvanic Magnavent terrain kit.

I think the spider skull block-and-tackle looks awesome and was very reluctant to cut it up when I opened the box and got a good look at it.  I was really careful with the surgery however and I can still use the rest of the parts for some pure folly project in the future.  I'll just roll up some greenstuff mechadendrites to patch it up.  Maybe even a bit of Necron tech.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Primaris Apothecary

Painting marines white is harder than I thought.  Hats off to all you White Scars players out there.  I wanted to give him a bluish tinge so used Drakenhof Nightshade for the recess shading.  Trying to replicate the glorious version of the the Apothecary painted by the GW team (is it still 'Eavy Metal?) is an exercise in madness.  There was no way mine was going to be as good but it was definitely inspiration.

Nevertheless, this was really enjoyable to paint. There is just something about the sculpt which fires my imagination.  The Apothecary is touted as a healer, but isn't he also a necromancer of sorts?  In the books I've read, I rarely see them doing much actual healing.  Their main role seems to be defiling the corpses of their brethren, salvaging arcane and unnatural organs which are then resurrected inside the bodies of neophyte recruits.  It all sounds a bit sinister and Frankenstein, I mean just look at Fabius Bile.  He's technically an apothecary, or at least he was.  

This sculpt shows the good doctor resting his boot on the chest of a fallen comrade.  Blithely examining the progenoid gland he just ripped out of his brother's neck. Illuminor Szeras has got nothing on this guy. You can even see the exit wound.  This sort of casual brutality sums up the noble Adeptus Astartes for me.  Yes, he's technically a healer and is performing a necessary service by preserving the precious genetic heritage of his chapter.  But at his core, he's just another dehumanised warrior-fanatic and the Emperor's Peace amounts to efficient resource collection.  Its macabre is what it is.  

I suppose I could have painted the dead marine on the base from an enemy chapter.  It still amounts to desecration of a fallen enemy.  Something Achilles did in the Iliad which ultimately sealed his fate.  Hector was the hero in that story, trying to protect his people and his family, not Achilles.  I decided to paint my 'patient' as a Red Scorpion and tell that story, but I've seen a lot of other people rebase the whole model. Removing the dead marine entirely, presumably to make it a less grisly scene.  But it's one of the reasons why I like the model so much.  It's a vignette, it tells a tale and is an insight into the nature of the Angels of Death.  I'll probably never play a game with him, but it's a brilliant model that I just had to own.

My favourite apothecary in 40k lore is probably Talos Valcoran from Aaron Dembski-Bowden's disturbing 'Night Lords' series.  Valcorian's bedside manner certainly leaves much to be desired and you would not want his fellow Apothecary, 'Variel the Flayer' anywhere near your bed, except in your darkest nightmares.  Ironically, it is Variel who does all of the actual healing, albeit in a most unorthodox manner.

I read somewhere that they made Red Scorpions a successor chapter of the Ultramarines, or at least strongly implied it.  How very disappointing.  Part of the allure of this chapter for me was that it was an unknown founding.  The Scorpions could have been an Emperor's Children successor chapter.  The Sigillite could have ordered the captured geneseed from the fallen legions to be preserved instead of destroyed.  

What a waste of resources to purge an entire legion just because their leader went batshit crazy.  Mind you, they all carry the genetic material of their fathers in their implanted glands so that doesn't bode well I suppose.  This Apothecary could have been safeguarding a bit of Lorgar's heritage for all we knew.  But now its just boring, boring smurfs. (Granted this is what I play them as in game, but that's not the point!)

Sunday, 17 January 2021

This Way Up


And so my descent into the howling interstices of the Immaterium continues with the latest heretek Warglaive fresh off the assembly line.  It's not quite freefall; I just bought the Primaris Apothecary model which is so good I daren't convert it.  I might finally pluck up the courage to paint a marine in white armour.  A crisp marine would be just the right palate cleanser after this fella.

The beast is an attempt to placate Grandfather Nurgle.  I have a feeling it might not be fecund or tumescent enough for the Great Plague Lord who likes his corruption bloated.  If machines could have weeping sores however, I hope they would look like this.    

I did another glory hole 360 video and you can see the poor old turntable twitching and wobbling away.  I think I've worn it out.  Forcing it to rotate endlessly with hefty models and weighted bases balanced on top has probably overstrained the mechanism.

I can hear something grinding inside it now as it rotates and the bottom has come loose.  It's probably time to get a new, industrial strength turntable that can take the weight of a spitting cat.  That could provide a lifetime of fun.

Speaking of animals, I not sure what I was attempting here.  Something raptorlike and Dinobot for sure.  I think it ended up a bit ratlike however, skittering through the wasteland.  Spewing filth from strange, ventral orifices like a 41st millenium muck spreader.  I'm not sure you'd want this particular bio-mechanical horror to fertilize your crops.  Not unless you were hoping for a very grimdark version of Jack and the Beanstalk outside your window when you woke up the next morning.

I've been dicking around with the model for months now.  When I finally realised that I was never actually going to finish it, I just stopped.  I painted the rim, washed my brushes and started taking photos.  I think it was the right decision really, I was in danger of over-egging the pudding.  GW Technical paints are too much fun.  Whoever invented Nurgle's Rot deserves a medal in my opinion, but you've got to stop short of pouring the damn stuff all over the model.

I wanted the front to be clean with the Warglaive becoming more and more messed up along its length.  The base would reflect that too.  But I found some pictures of wet rust online and really wanted to give it a go on the tongue.  I liked it so much I did various bits and pieces in the same way to balance it out.

The pinned foot has held up well, surviving an accidental kicking across the garage floor after being dropped.  I wanted a distressed look but this was taking it a bit far.

I really liked the simple, almost stylised mark of Nurgle which was donated by Jordan at some at some distant point the past. And there's a little fly on the side of the weapon.  That's about it for obvious signs of devotion to the god of poor hygiene .

I think the back end is much more nasty and I experimented with all sorts of weirdness here.  Skin on barbed wire.  Cracked, leaky and rusted pipes.  Noxious fluids spilling from a mess of tubing on the underbelly.

I think I'm finally channelling my inner Covid.  I just sprayed a succession of technical paints, glazes and contrast paint on the base with a toothbrush.  I was making a mess and loving it.  It took about 10 minutes and is a good reminder that you should never skimp on the base.  And always paint your rims to signify that you are finally done with it!

The bloody stools shooting out of its undercarriage and skin on the barbed wire were lovingly created with cat hair, Nurgle's Rot and Blood for the Blood God.  I'm definitely not tired of that technique yet. 

Finally a shot of the whole gang.  Well, the whole gang so far.  The Budgie of Slaanesh needs to be tackled next I suppose.  It's not very Slaaneshi now that I think about it and doesn't really fit with these three anyway.

Monday, 4 January 2021

I Am The Law!


This is my interpretation of Joe Dredd, without his helmet.  And a chainsword instead of a stun baton.  Silly really, because Dredd never takes his helmet off.  Plus this is a sergeant, who should be setting an example to his men on battlefield protection and the use of headgear.

It wasn't until I went to basecoat the models that I noticed I'd modelled the sergeant's body on the wrong legs.  So now one of the troopers had 2 helmets, one clipped to his belt and one on his bonce.  What a schoolboy error.

Normally, I would berate myself harshly and immediately begin dismantling the offending models.  Usually with a craft knife.  Then spend another 10 hours undoing the damage whilst I tried to reassemble them correctly.  Slipping into an OCD loop of self loathing and failing to notice that I could have just swapped the heads back.  They weren't even glued when I discovered this obvious blunder.  I could have just put the damn Sergeant's head on the damn Sergeant's bike and have done with it.

It wouldn't be difficult to prise the heads off now and swap them.  I'm not going to do it though.  The enraged, almost psychotic look on his face coupled with the mohican absolutely  belongs on the bike plunging into the Ripper swarm in my humble opinion.  His subordinate has obviously been designated 'Helmet Carrier'.  That poor, long suffering marine just follows his Sergeant around into battle desperately waving the forgotten helmet.
'Don't forget your...  oh ffs!' 

The Genestealer model turned out alright and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours creating blood effects with cat hair and Blood for the Blood God.  I was a bit more ambitious with it this time compared to Sawberus.  Obviously, there's less blood, but there's more cat hair, which is the tricky part.

The sergeant is still my favourite though and seemed deliberately built to slot into that Forgeworld Ripper base.  It's almost like a Meat Loaf album cover.  He was also much easier to assemble and paint and I'm pretty pleased with his eyes.

I struggled with the eyes again at first.  I thought my fine motor skills were beginning to deteriorate.  A chilling thought.  Then I realised that I was just going even more blind than usual.  So it's my eyes that are deteriorating.  Fortunately we live in the modern age and a 10 dollar pair of super-strength reading glasses came to the rescue.  When worn over the top of my other reading glasses I can count the individual whorls of my fingerprints.  It was something of a revelation and I think I need to go to the opticians.

So my 2021 New Year's resolutions are:

1.  Visit the optometrist

2.  Try to be less miserable

3.  Eat more medjool dates

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Riders On The Storm

I forgot to give her a sword.  So now she's got one.  I wouldn't class it as a relic or even master-crafted weapon but rules don't matter on this model so it is a venial sin rather than a mortal one.  A venial sin only weakens the soul.  In order to atone for my sins I imposed a penance of 'no converting' on the rest of the marines in the army.  

This did not work out well.  I didn't actually kitbash or convert the Outrider models themselves but all my Red Scorpions are themed with Tyranid base decorations.  So adding a few Genestealer skulls wasn't breaking the rules as far as I was concerned and it only got slightly out of hand.  I built one of the Outriders in the stock pose at least.  He reminds me of Judge Dredd and that's good enough.  Cruising through the mean streets of Mega City One, administering justice with his Lawgiver set to 'High Explosive'.  He's tough, but fair. Sheriff Woody on warp dust.

Which brings me on to my attempt at a textbook slide-pivot U-turn on an all-terrain Astartes ground bike.  This one's right out of the manual. Performed in order to rapidly change direction on rough, confined terrain.  

It can also unbalance an encroaching enemy and avert disaster by diamond hard chitin.  Any attempt to disable/dismember said enemy whilst performing this maneuver displays both flair and overconfidence.  

Genestealers have six limbs, each capable of instantly killing an unarmoured opponent.  This is in addition to rabid jaws and a prehensile tongue, tipped with a fate worse than death.  A bolt through the skull should be sufficient to dissuade them.

In a similar vein, it can be seen that rash behaviour when confronted by overwhelming hordes of insignificant Ripper Swarms will often have dire consequences.  Static cannonades from fixed line squads are much more effective.  <<CHAPLAIN INTERJECT : Bellowing 'For the Emperor!' whilst impetuously charging the foe is in fact Codex Compliant>>.  

I think the Forgeworld Ripper Swarm works very well here as the worlds most expensive base decoration.  I feel the need to to add more Rippers.  I've started pulling them off existing, finished bases.  It ain't right, I tell ya.  

What the hell, it might finally motivate me to atone for the Forgeworld unmentionables I was ill-advised to purchase in a moment of weakness about 3 years ago.  I might even get round to painting them. One of them at least.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Dirty Harriet

Another reminder that I dislike painting gems, eyes, cloaks and fucking plasma coils.  This is why I never started a Dark Angels army.  Well, not since 1988 anyway.  I really should learn how to do it properly and I do watch tutorials, but I always end up saying to myself, 'No, I've had an idea and I got this.  I know better.  Oh shit, this is the twelfth coat of paint and it's starting to look like blancmange.'

"..being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off.."

Her left eye was so deeply embedded that I ended up using a pin to scratch paint in there.  I honestly don't know how these pro-painters do it.  Gallons of patience, practice and talent I suspect.  And I lost patience eventually so no extreme close ups I'm afraid and lots of backdrop frippery to draw your eye away from her goat eye.  You can't really see it from the photos but I know it's there.  It will keep me awake at night.

Ah, I think I need a break from painting (having done practically none for a month).  It might be time to immerse myself in Path of Exile:  A free to play Diablo clone. It has to be a mesmerisingly addictive game, surely?  Which should be setting off klaxons in OCD police HQ, who carefully monitor all gaming activities from the safety of my forebrain.

Some of the reviews on Steam are hilarious.  One critic from the user base gave it a 'NOT RECOMMENDED' and wrote, "This game has become ridiculous and it is over to me." Having logged over 2,600 hours in the game.  I'm not kidding.  Every reviewer has their game time tagged in the review to prove that they've actually played it and not just for 5 minutes.  That's well over a year of full time work!  How is that even possible?  If you don't hear from me again then you'll know I got sucked in.