Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2016 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint

Incredibly it’s that time of year again when Blaxkleric loses all sense of editorial standards and lets me loose on his most excellent blog to share with you, his dear readers, what, in my humble opinion are my ten favourite figures (a loose term as you will see later) that he has been kind enough to share with his blogging audience from this year’s Fantorical posts. 

Now this job, a joy as it is to perform, becomes harder each year with the standard of Simon’s brushwork (and it would appear his output!) ever increasing. It is however, also a pleasure looking back over the postings and figures that Simon has produced over the year and indeed this year’s number one figures (yes there are two, and no as you’ll hopefully see, I don’t think that’s cheating) were in fact a couple of chaps I had completely forgotten Simon had painted. But I’m getting ahead of myself, anyway here in ascending order are the results of the North West jury….

"Even after death, however, its presence lingered, as crops grew sickly and many fields had to be torched..."
Though I have to say that I am not the biggest fan of either "Games Workshop" or their Chaos ranges, there was something about this impressive twisting horror that made him stand head and shoulders above his disgusting brethren in my books, and pushed him up to the number ten spot in my list. Simon's superb painting of all of his Nurgle force was suitably “pustulous” (good word that, I should copyright that!) but this is the best figure from his Chaos output for me.


"...By the Sixth Century AD they were already popularly depicted as guardian figures."
Okay, this isn’t exactly a wargames figure as such, but I just had to include these wonderfully painted pieces of scenery in my top ten. There has been a bit of an oriental theme running through several blogs this year ("Carrion Crow's Buffet" and "Da Gobbo’s Grotto" immediately spring to mind) and there has been some stunning stuff on show. Simon's contribution is no less worthy of praise. The colours, finishes and tarnishing on these “Foo Dogs” is superb and just so… right. There’s no other way to put it. These would make a great addition to any oriental battlefield (or Chinese restaurant for that matter).

"Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
I’m a fan of "Irregular Miniatures". I think for the prices they can’t be beaten. To be honest though, some of the ranges are better than others, and these newer spaceships are some of the very best. I own quite a few of the ships myself, but not any of the “Federation” inspired ones that Simon spent a couple of months churning out beautiful examples of. Once again he managed to produce utterly faithful representations of iconic heroes from my youth (albeit this time a starship). Every ship in his collection could make this list, but the very fact that the ship he chose to be his U.S.S. Enterprise was not “line for line” an exact clone of the TV ship, yet he still made instantly identifiable as such, is what made it my stand out of the bunch.

"...Lamenting deeds of which the flowery ground is conscious."
Have you ever seen the film “From hell It Came”? No? Then you should as it is about a malevolent tree stump that kills people, and it’s terrible (but in a good way). The second I saw this miniature I was immediately reminded of that film, though Simon's “stump” is way more impressive than the one in the film. Basing it on a 40mm figure base was an inspired choice and the amount of detail and shading he’s put into the finished product is first rate. If only he’d finished it in matt varnish it would have been perfect (sorry Simon, had to get one dig in about this). 

"The red mist that flooded the creature's vision dissipated, along with the murderous rage."
I rather think Simon would kill me if I didn’t include at least one of his “Guild Ball” players in my list. Especially considering the enormous amounts of trouble they appeared to cause him when it came to putting the figures together. It is fortunate then that this muscle bound hulk of a brute impressed me so much once he was finally finished. Looking like an escapee from a Mad Max movie, the subtle shading on his flesh is what impressed me most about this chap.

"Besides it looks like the bones were bent straight out."
Now does this count as an actual playing piece or a piece of scenery? I’m not sure, but I do know that either way this is one impressive little xenomorph. Simon has impressed me with his “Alien” figures on numerous occasions now, with his 15mm versions making it up to Number Seven in my 2014 choices. Simon is the master of “black” figures, getting the shading just about perfect in my books. Add into this his use of gloss varnish and you have a rather gory recipe for success.

"Don't they know how many corpses there are in the world?"
One of the highlights of the year has of course been “Zomtober”, and as always seems to be the case Simon put his distinctive spin on it once again, taking inspiration from the “Judge Dredd” story “Judgement Day“. All of his Mega City One zombies were worthy of note, but it was this little lady that stuck out in my mind as the star of the show. Brimming with understated menace Simon’s brushwork as is excellent as always and the details and colour choices brought her wonderfully to (un)life.

"Nurtured. You don't mean to say you've been feeding him?"
Following on from the Zomtober entry above this figure was part of Simon’s project for the same from 2015, “The Seeds of Doom”; this was of course the classic Tom Baker adventure and this figure of Arnold Keeler perfectly portrays the character's descent from infected human into what is effectively a big slimy compost heap. I was very impressed with the way Simon blended in the “Krynoid” parts with the human underneath, not easy to do convincingly but carried out with great aplomb.   

"Enchanters are hands-on wizards who work their magic by investing it in objects or people."
Well last year Simon's excellent "Frostgrave" Witch made it into the top ten, and it appears he’s done it again this year with this equally spectacular Enchanter. Once again the level of detail he’s added to the figure is awe-inspiring and his colour choices are as always spot on. If anything I think I like him better than the witch!

"Don't blame me. I'm an interpreter. I'm not supposed to know a power socket from a computer terminal."
As I mentioned at the start of this piece, I had completely forgotten about these two wonderful figures. Indeed, when I was re-working my way through Simon's posts for the year I had initially added one of his (also excellent) Stormtroopers to my short list. But then I came across these chaps and I immediately thought I’d  discovered my potential “top spotters”. The colours are perfect, the details are absolutely spot on and the character in the figures is top notch too. They look as if they had just walked off of the film set. I covet these figures greatly and I think anyone would be justly proud to have them in their collection and that’s why for me they had to be my top choice from Simon's 2016 output.
"The City's central computer told you? R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer."
This is of course just the merest glimpse of Simon’s awesome output for the year, and I’m sure many of you (including Simon) will disagree with many of my choices. There were simply so many excellent figures to choose from I could easily have filled out a top twenty, but special mentions must go to his "Frostgrave" (Witch) Apprentice, The OMAC, Vampire By Night, Captain America, and Manphibian; who would have been a shoe in I’m sure if he’d only finished him! The list could go on and on, but I’m happy with my list as it stands, so it only remains for me to thank Simon, for once again letting me loose with his baby, and to wish you all the very best of 2017’s.

I can’t wait to see what he presents us with then, Cheers Roger.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

"Put Me Down... So I Can Reform Myself..."

"And I'm ready for those power blasts of yours too..."
This 28mm pre-painted plastic model of Charcoal is by “Wizkids” and can be bought as number 089 from their Marvel “Heroclix” Sinister range. Created to be a "Marvel Worldwide" comic book antagonist by Wallace and Kroja Frost, as part of a Wizard magazine "Create-A-Villain" contest, Charcoal would actually go on and join the Thunderbolts super-team, having initially been their enemy. The Burning Man made his first appearance in the November 1998 issue of "Thunderbolts", and was subsequently "killed in battle with Graviton" after the competition winner attempted to legally claim the copyright of the character from Marvel.

Initially undercoated with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal so as to eradicate the 44mm tall figure's disagreeable pre-paint, Charles Burlingame's alter-ego was washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil and subsequently dry-brushed with more "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal. I then 'picked out his rock-hard diamond growths using a combination of "Vallejo" White and "Citadel" Asurmen Blue. Finally his eyes were painted using "Vallejo" Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson.
Doctor Doom WIPs - Victor Von Doom, a Doombot and a Servo-bot
The submission deadline for the first Bonus Round of the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is still a couple of weeks away, and having already begun painting three "Heroclix" robots for it, I had thought I had the matter well-in-hand. However, as the theme is 'Armour' I have suddenly found myself thinking that perhaps a Latverian robotic force, led by their all-powerful armoured monarch Doctor Victor Von Doom, might be a bit more fun to assemble.

As a result I have continued to press on painting my "Wizkids" figure of the Fantastic Four's archenemy and begun priming a large number of the "Marvel Worldwide" super-villain's henchmen; most notably a few Doombots (armed robots who actually wear the face of the real Doctor Doom) and Servo-Guards (sentry robots that are programmed to attack their master's enemies). It's doubtful that I'll manage to get all of these models finished within so tight a target date, especially when I've based twelve of the 41mm tall Servo-Guards alone. But the opportunity to potentially 'field' the genius inventor's court, as once envisaged by co-creator's Stan Lee and Jack "King" Kirby seems too good an impetus to ignore...
Deep Sea Diver WIPs - The figure has been primed, 'black-lined' and had his helmet and boots layered
Similarly, I have found myself mulling over a small(ish) collection of metal models by "Reaper Miniatures". I have previously painted several of these characterful sculpts in an attempt to own enough with which to hold a game set within the "Gamma World" universe owned by "Wizards Of The Coast"; albeit I actually plan to use "7TV" by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" as my rule-set.

In fact, during last year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge I furiously managed to complete sixteen Terminator-like looking Cyber-Reavers as opposition. However, I never managed to then paint enough 'heroic' models with which to thwart them. This time round I hope to correct that oversight, and have subsequently started painting a Deep Sea Diver to represent the (time/universe displaced) Oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau.  

Sunday, 25 December 2016

"For Truth And Justice!"

"A fight's a fight. And I've never lost one yet!"
This 28mm pre-painted plastic model of Captain America is by “Wizkids” and can be bought as number 069 from their “Heroclix” Marvel Infinity Challenge range. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Steve Rogers was used as a test subject for the Super-Soldier project during World War Two, and transformed by scientist Abraham Erskine "into a nearly perfect human being with peak strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence." Cast by the American government "as a patriotic superhero", the Sentinel of Liberty made his first appearance in the March 1941 issue of "Captain America Comics".

Originally undercoated with "Vallejo" Heavy Blue so as to cover the figure's original pre-paint, the model's boots and gloves were treated to a combination of Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson. The veteran soldier's bulletproof shield was then painted with "Vallejo" Heavy Red, White and Heavy Blue. These areas were subsequently washed with "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson, "Vallejo" Pale Grey or "Citadel" Asurmen Blue. Lastly the "First Avenger" had his face 'picked out' with "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone, washed with "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade and highlighted with more "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone. As a last touch, Captain America's blue uniform was washed with "Citadel" Asurmen Blue before the entire miniature was gloss varnished.
"Heroclix" WIPs - Doctor Doom, Darkseid and Machine-Man
A somewhat big dilemma I then faced was finding a suitably-sized pair of five-pointed stars from my collection of decals. The detail on Rogers' shield, despite the model's somewhat thick pre-paint, had been raised high enough for me to simply draw the famous emblem with "Vallejo" White. But I wasn't so lucky with the "Timely Comics" character's chest and back. Fortunately I found a couple of ideally-suited stars (including their overlapping face stock) within my World War Two 'durable transfer' collection, and, after a couple of false starts, successfully put them in place.    

With plenty more "Heroclix" models on my painting table, the vast majority of which are eligible for the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I have spent some considerable time recently re-basing, gritting, and priming a myriad of super-villains such as Darkseid ("DC Comics") and super-heros like Machine-Man ("Marvel Worldwide"). In addition I have finished inking and dry-brushing a figure of Doctor Doom, and started to paint the Latverian monarch's famous suit of armour.
Karanak WIP - The "Finecast" Flesh Hound has simply been undercoated with "Vallejo" Heavy Red
Such an overwhelming number of plastic miniatures has still not stopped me assembling and undercoating my Nurgle Host's latest addition for "Age Of Sigmar"; albeit once again I have turned my attention to an allied Chaos unit rather than one specifically blessed by the God of plague, disease and destruction. Karanak is an especially nasty three-headed Flesh Hound, who can both act as a single model and summon an accompanying pack of savage beasts to "relentlessly hunt down the enemies of the Blood God."

Thursday, 22 December 2016

"A Soldier Who Locks Eyes With A Bloodletter Is Often Frozen Stiff With Fear..."

"Their skin is the colour of hot blood, and their angry eyes resemble burning coals."
This 28mm plastic multi-part model of a Slaughter-kin Icon Bearer comes from the “Games Workshop” Daemons of Khorne Bloodletters boxed set, and due to its Gore-drenched standard can allow me to add D6 more Bloodletters to my unit if I "roll a 1 when making a Battleshock Test". Interestingly, this potential bolstering of my daemonic horde as "reality blinks" is actually just one of two special abilities a standard bearer can imbue his unit of Bloodletters with, on account of this “Age Of Sigmar” kit also containing parts enough for the icon to be swapped with a Bloodsoaked Banner; a ‘flag’ “daubed in the blood of champions” which adds a bonus whenever the Bloodletters slay a Hero. For now though, at least until I purchase another box of the Khorne daemons, my unit will only be carrying the Gore-drenched Icon…
"To battle! Let blood flow in his name!"
Having followed the instructions found within the figure’s box, and assembled the icon carrier from his relevant sprues, I treated the scaly red hided creature to a double-dose of “Vallejo” Heavy Red and washed it with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. The “ferocious” Khak’akamshy’y was subsequently dry-brushed with some additional “Vallejo” Heavy Red before his horns, “slavering jaws”, hands, hooves, back spines and sword hilt were undercoated with “Citadel” Abaddon Black.

I then used some more Abaddon Black to gently blend the daemon's dark hands and trotters in with the Bloodletter’s red limbs. In addition, his “jagged” Hellblade was primed with "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna before being treated to a double-layer of Gold. The “vicious sword”, said “to be as sharp as Khorne’s own hatred”, was lastly washed with a combination of "The Army painter" Strong Tone Quickshade and more "Vallejo" Gold.
Charcoal WIPs - The super-hero has been primed, washed, dry-brushed and partially detailed
Painting of the Icon itself was predominantly achieved using more Gold (for its metallic plates) and plenty of Heavy Red and Dark Vermilion as base-layers for the coagulated blood. In addition, I used Iraqi Sand and white, along with a wash of "The Army painter" Strong Tone Quickshade to ‘pick out’ the skulls. Once dry, the entire standard was then heavily washed with both “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson and (rather appropriately) Bloodletter.

With Week One of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge now well under way, I have continued to beaver away on a large number of “Heroclix” miniatures which I wish to submit as part of the event. One of the many figures will be Charlie Burlingame’s alter-ego, Charcoal; a youngster seemingly capable of transforming himself into a being composed of charcoal.
"The Horns Of Nimon" WIPs - The intergalactic locusts have been dry-brushed and washed brown
Alongside my plastic “Wizkids” figures I have also started work on a number of “Doctor Who” related metal models. The first batch will comprise of five identically sculpted Nimon by “Black Tree Design”. These ‘infamous’ extra-terrestrials initially promised to bring about the return of “the glory days of the Skonnan Empire” in the December 1979 BBC Television story “The Horns Of Nimon”.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

"Got A Feelin' You ain't Seen Nothin' Yet."

"Speaking of which, when can I get a replacement body? I can't stand this old heap of junk."
This 28mm pre-painted plastic model of Robotman is by “Wizkids” and can be bought as number 009 from their “Heroclix” DC Origin range. Created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani, Clifford Steele’s brain was placed inside a metal construct after a race car accident destroyed his physical body and is one of the founding members of the Doom Patrol. “Initially dubbed Automaton”, Cliff made his first appearance in the June 1963 issue of "DC Comics" "My Greatest Adventure”.

Originally primed with “Vallejo” Copper so as to totally eliminate the miniature’s factory pre-paint, the figure was washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade and then dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Copper.  Afterwards, I picked out the super-strong hero’s chest control unit using a combination of “Heavy Blue” and “Citadel” Asurmen Blue, and the device’s wiring with “Vallejo” Heavy Red and “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson.
"Heroclix WIPs" - These heavily armoured figures have simply been washed and dry-brushed
With the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge having (finally) started, and with an eye somewhat fixed upon the ‘Armour’ themed Bonus Round, I am already working on three more rather robotic “Heroclix” miniatures; all of which are heavily armoured. Foremost of these is a 90mm tall model of T.E.S.S.-One (Total Elimination of Super Soldiers), Pat Dugan’s powered armour suit S.T.R.I.P.E. (Special Tactics Robotic Integrated Power Enhancer), and an impressively organic-looking incarnation of Superman’s nemesis, Metallo. 

I’m planning on getting a considerable number of “Wizkids” figures finished over the next three months, and these reasonably straightforward ‘prime, wash and dry-brush’ models should help get the enthusiasm for my long-running “Cosmic Cube Wars” project back on track; especially if I can build up a sizeable force of minions, ninjas, servo-robots, aliens and vampires…
"Secrets Of The Third Reich" WIPs - These British Commandos with carbines still need a lot of painting
That doesn’t mean however, that this month’s drive to paint up some additional units for “Konflikt ‘47” has ground to a halt. Having recently finished enough “West Wind Productions” Commandos with carbines with which to field a minimalist British force for the “Warlord Games” rule-set, I have dusted off a further six “Secrets Of The Third Reich” Tommies, and started busily adding some pigment to their rifles and body armour.

These additional soldiers should help me greatly bolster my reinforced platoon, and, points-wise, provide me with ample opportunity to either increase the number of zombies my obligatory German opposition can use, or encourage me to paint up/re-base another Third Reich ‘Weird War’ unit entirely.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

"The Man Of Steel Is Coming Through!"

"It's the cybernetic hero known as Steel -- Now perhaps Earth's most powerful being!" 
This 28mm pre-painted plastic model of Steel is by “Wizkids” and can be bought as number 068 from their “Heroclix” DC Origin range. Created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove, Doctor John Henry Irons designed and donned a suit of powered armour in Superman's memory following Kal-El's fatal battle against Doomsday. The second comic book character to be known as Steel, the "brilliant weapons engineer for AmerTek Industries" made his first appearance in the June 1993 issue of "DC Comics" "The Adventures of Superman".

Initially undercoated with “Citadel” Ironbreaker in order to completely mask the figure's original pre-paint, the model was subsequently washed with Nuln Oil before being dry-brushed with more Ironbreaker. The superhero's cape was painted using a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson.
"Heroclix" WIPs - Robotman, Captain America and Doctor Doom
Sticking with my "Heroclix" collection, the completion of Steel has helped galvanise me into placing more partially-painted "Wizkids" miniatures onto my painting table. Models such as Robotman and Captain America have stood abandoned to one side of my brush pot for far too long, and as a result I have spent some time cleaning up my previous work on Cliff Steele' mechanical alter-ego, whilst slowly working my way around the Sentinel of Liberty's famous shield.

In addition to trying to finish off some of these old mini-projects, I have also been busy chopping other "Heroclix" figures' off of their 'clicky bases' and priming them ready for the start of next week’s Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. One collection of models which have especially captured my imagination is half a dozen Doombots lead by their master and "the archenemy of the Fantastic Four", Doctor Doom...
"Frostgrave" WIPs - This models are slowly being progressed from their leather boots up
Finally I am still persevering with my goal to paint enough “North Star Military Figures” plastic skeletons with which to game the “Frostgrave” rule-book scenario entitled “The Mausoleum”. Disappointingly though, I've found my momentum for this particular project rather deflated on account of the models I'm currently progressing all consisting of assorted pieces taken from the Frostgrave Soldiers twenty multi-part hard plastic boxed set; a somewhat softly-detailed range of models which badly derailed my aspirations of a swiftly-assembled Witch warband this time last year.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

"...Foremost Amongst The Blood God's Followers In Mortal Life..."

"Slay without pity; triumph without remorse."
These two 28mm "finely detailed plastic" Bloodletters have been built using some “parts and accessories” found within the Bloodletters of Khorne kit manufactured by “Games Workshop”, and have been super-glued upon "Citadel" 32mm Round bases. Accompanied by my previously painted Musician, and ‘captained’ by a Bloodhunter, these are the last of the Blood God's (basic) followers I plan to paint in order to field an allied unit of Khorne daemons as support for my ever-expanding “Age Of Sigmar” Host of Nurgle.

Each “implacable and blood-hungry” warrior was given an undercoat of “Vallejo” Heavy Red and treated to a heavy wash of "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, before being dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Heavy Red. With their basic layering done, the “Slaughter-kin” next had their horns, hands, hooves, spines and sword hilts 'picked out' with “Citadel” Abaddon Black. Some of these areas were subsequently blended into the surrounding red flesh and both Bloodletters' Hellblades were painted with "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and then Gold.
"Heroclix" WIPs - Doctor Strange, Steel and Nightmare 
As a final touch I picked out the Chosen of Khorne's teeth with White and their snake-like tongues with Heavy Ochre. Both areas were lastly washed with "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade and Reikland Fleshshade respectively.

In between assembling, basing and priming a significant number of models for the start of next week’s Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I have been busily trying to clear some space on my painting table by completing a number of partially-finished “Heroclix” miniatures from ‘yesteryear’.

Arguably the most complicated of these past projects, and one whose selection has been inspired by the 2016 theatrical release of Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange”, is my old re-based “Wizkids” plastic miniature of the Sorcerer Supreme. Unfortunately, time has not been terribly kind to one of the first “Heroclix” figures manufactured (c. 2002), especially because of its horrendously thick pre-paint, so I am having to make do without priming and instead apply my brush tip directly over the existing colour scheme as if it were the undercoat. This technique will hopefully work well enough for the majority of the Master of the Mystic Arts, but I’m a little concerned as to how much perceptible detail will be visible once I start painting the former-surgeon’s famous beard…
"Sherlock" WIPs - Based and primed, ready for the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge
Fortunately, neither my figures of Nightmare or Steel appear to have the same issue, and as a result both appear to require fairly straightforward paint-jobs. Indeed, the evil ruler of the "Dream Dimension" and the notable Man of Steel seem so well-detailed that I’m not sure why I actually stopped progressing them in the first place.

Two models which have recently come into my possession, and may still be available to buy from “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio”, are an Investigative Academic and his Dependable Deputy. Undoubtedly owing a smidgeon of inspiration from the 2010 television crime drama “Sherlock”, these two miniatures have already been ‘made ready’ for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge and will hopefully soon grace my “7TV” tabletop.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

"The Sixth Airborne Division Led The Way..."

"...By securing vital positions on the first day of the invasion."
These two 28mm metal models are from the "West Wind Productions" "Secrets Of The Third Reich" blister B-SOTR05 British Commando Carbines, but have had their Gas Mask Heads replaced with some taken from the manufacturer’s excellent ‘Separate Head System’ ‘blister’ SHS-SOTR09 “British Para Heads In Berets With Gas Masks” so as to better represent an Airborne Infantry section on my “Konflikt ‘47” battleground. Equipped with rifles and able to act as "Tank Hunters (if grenades taken)" this squad currently only comprises of four veteran soldiers and an NCO. However, once they’ve engaged the enemy a few times I hope to significantly expand the company with SMGs, an LMG and even a man carrying rifle grenades. 

Undercoated using "Citadel" Doombull Brown and washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, both models were initially painted in a manner identical to that applied to my recently completed regular British Infantrymen. As a result their rifles were painted using "Vallejo" Charred Brown and "Citadel" Ironbreaker, before being washed appropriately with more Strong Tone Quickshade and "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
Balewind Vortex WIPs - The "Age Of Sigmar" scenic pieces just need to be dry-brushed
In order to make the Airborne comatants stand out from the standard soldier however, I used an old OOP pot of “Citadel” Knarlock Green for their body armour, as opposed to my force’s ‘usual’ Calthan Brown. These areas were subsequently treated first to a wash of Thrakka Green, and then Devlan Mud. The  veterans' gas mask filters were painted using a combination of Knarloc Green and Devlan Mud, whilst the eye filters were simply ‘picked out’ with Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil.

Because I wanted to make all my models’ famous berets especially red, their headwear was first painted with Mechrite Red, before receiving a couple of generous coats of Bloodletter. This glazing technique was applied as an alternative to my former concoction of Blood Red and Baal Red as, disappointingly, both paint/wash have long since been withdrawn by “Games Workshop”.
"Bolt Action" WIPs - These three British Expeditionary Force models have simply been undercoated
Having now completed enough "Secrets Of The Third Reich" figures for a “Konflikt ‘47” Great British and Commonwealth reinforced platoon, as well as an accompanying Airborne contingent, I have been able to give my “Age Of Sigmar” Balewind Vortex a lot more attention. This formidably tall “multi-part plastic kit” is arguably now two-thirds complete, due to my washing/dry-brushing the scenery piece’s actual vortex, and I am now persevering with the eerie blue paint scheme for the wizard’s heavily-carved stone platform. 

Finally, and with an eye on the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I have started assembling and priming some of the models found with the British Expeditionary Force boxed set by “Warlord Games”. An impulse buy at this year’s Colours wargaming show in Newbury, these metal miniatures will provide me with a fully-staffed officer, a 10-man section (including NCO) and some heavy-weapon options, such as a Boyes Anti-tank rifle team, Vickers medium machine gun team, and 2″ light mortar team, for both a “Konflikt ‘47” force, as well as one for “Bolt Action”. For starters though I will simply be focusing upon my Second Lieutenant “and two attendant riflemen.”

Sunday, 11 December 2016

"Skeletons Are The Animated Bones Of Some Long-dead Creature..."

"At the height of the ancient empire, necromancers used lesser undead as servants and guards..."
These two multi-part 28mm hard plastic skeletons have been built using pieces taken from the sprues found within the Frostgrave Cultists boxed set by "North Star Military Figures", and are the first of ten such undead warriors needed in order for me to game The Mausoleum scenario from the "Frostgrave" rule-book. "Held together and animated by the power of magic" these 'swordsmen' were originally humans and randomly emerge "through one of the doors in the central building" as a result of the event's special rules...

Assembled predominantly using cultist henchmen parts, and then converted into "undead monstrosities" using skeleton heads and arms, both miniatures were undercoated with "Vallejo" Heavy Violet as I initially envisaged them wearing the colourfully rich attire of hooded fanatics. However, I soon changed my mind when it occurred to me that their clothing should probably be dank and faded on account of the time spent decaying beneath the soil.
"There were probably many thousands active in the city at any time."
I therefore changed my palette to one which used pigments such as Dark Grey, USA Olive Drab, Heavy Sienna, Charred Brown and Heavy Charcoal, and washed the various garments with either "Citadel" Nuln Oil or "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. The bones of the servants of a long-dead Necromancer's were painted using a four-stage process which consisted of "Vallejo" Iraqi Sand, Strong Tone Quickshade, a dry-brush of more "Vallejo" Iraqi Sand and finally a light highlight of White just around the skull's eye sockets and teeth.

In order to give the more oriental-headed skeleton an added touch of antiquity, I painted his ancient armour with "Vallejo" Brass and tried to make his raiment appear somewhat richer than that worn by his undead brethren by using both Heavy Red and Heavy Violet. All these areas were then 'atrophied' courtesy of a wash of either "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade or "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
Abslom Daak and Doctor Who WIPs - Basic basing and priming for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge
Whilst painting these wonderfully animated monsters, I was somewhat disconcerted to read a posting by Jez over on his blog "Carrion Crow's Buffet" which brought a range of 28mm metal models to my notice which I hadn't seen before. "Miniature Figurines & Matchlock Miniatures" sell an incredibly varied selection of figures, most notably a Retro Sci-Fi range entitled "Wayne's World Of Wonder".

To be fair the catalogue currently only consists of nine different sculpts, but these two figures have already been based and primed ready for the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge on account of their "Doctor Who" connection; Abslom Daak - Dalek Killer and the cinematic (First) Doctor. Admittedly, I painted a version of Peter Cushing's silver screen persona last year during "Mo'Vember 2016". But the chance to paint a second incarnation, and base him upon the plastic lipped circular stand I use for my 'Weird War Two' collection was too good an opportunity to miss.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

"Keep Calm And Carry On."

"By this stage of the war the British army had gained considerable experience of modern warfare..."
This 28mm metal model is from the "West Wind Productions" "Secrets Of The Third Reich" blister B-SOTR05 British Commando Carbines. However, rather than use the miniature for Andy Cooper's "Weird WWII game", this Tommy will actually form part of a minimum strength (Regular) Infantry Section for "Konflikt '47" by "Warlord Games". Indeed, my completion of the rifleman now means I can actually field the simplest of reinforced platoons for Great Britain and the Commonwealth using figures taken from my painted "SotTR" collection.

Unfortunately, painting a model in order to match the colour scheme for a force assembled some years ago has not proved an easy task as I have had to partially step away from many of the now 'out of production' "Games Wokrshop" Foundation paints and washes I originally used for my British Commando Carbines, and instead replace them with alternatives from other manufacturers such as "Vallejo".
The Silence WIPs - As soon as the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge starts these aliens will get some attention
As a result the model was initially primed using "Citadel" Doombull Brown (as opposed to Dark Flesh) and washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade (instead of "Citadel" Devlan Mud). Once dry the rifleman's weapon was painted using "Vallejo" Charred Brown, Iraqi Sand and "Citadel" Ironbreaker, and these areas were then appropriately washed with either more Strong Tone Quickshade or "Citadel" Nuln Oil.

Because I still own a pot of Calthan Brown, I was able to paint the soldier's bullet proof vest with its 'original' colour, and also 'pick out' the infantryman's gas mask filter with a long-forgotten pot of "Citadel" Knarloc Green too. A rummage through my collection of pigments even located an unopened tub of Devlan Mud, making it possible to darken both the Tommy's piece of personal armour and his breathing apparatus with the OOP wash. 
Trinity WIPs - These sculpts of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are fantastically detailed
With the commencement of the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge fast approaching I have additionally been spending a portion of my hobby-time basing and preparing a number of other models. The vast percentage of these figures have unintentionally turned out to be produced by "Warlord Games" and none have proved quite so tantalising to finish before the start of the three-month long competition than the company's latest "Doctor Who" release, The Silence. These "genetically engineered 7 foot tall mouthless creatures" should be reasonably straightforward to complete on account of their predominantly grey/black colour scheme, and somewhat tower over the other figures currently found within the "Into the Time Vortex" range.

Far less simple to paint, or even assemble for that matter, are these three "Knight Models" sculpts from the Batman Verses Superman: Trinity DC Universe Miniature Game Starter Set. These models are certainly taller than your average 'heroic scale' figure, but due to their 'realistic' anatomical proportions they've needed a bit of pinning and realigning in order to come together... 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

“Terrifying Horn Blasts Ring Out As They Charge…”

"...Their deafening clarion call resounding in the enemy's ears..." 
These three 28mm “Slaughter-kin” have been built using the "finely detailed plastic" Bloodletters of Khorne kit produced by “Games Workshop” for “Age Of Sigmar”, and were assembled to not only depict two of “the Blood God’s followers”, but also the unit’s musician known as a Hornblower; an especially fearsome Khorne daemon who causes opponents to “re-roll [their] Battleshock Tests of 1 for units that are within 6 inches” of the instrumentalist.

“Festooned with rippling muscles, [and] knotted sinews”, all three of the figures were treated to two layers of “Vallejo” Heavy Red before being generously washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. The “blood-hungry” warriors were then dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Heavy Red and, as I am still very much enamoured with a colour scheme depicted within “The General’s Handbook”, had all their horns, hands, hooves, spines and sword hilts undercoated with “Citadel” Abaddon Black. Afterwards, most of these ‘blackened’ areas were blended into the surrounding spotted skin courtesy of some careful dry-brushing.
"...Even as the Bloodletters' blades, claws and fangs rip through their flesh."
With the majority of the Bloodletters’ flesh completed, I subsequently turned my attention to their formidable Hellblades, as well as the musician’s great horn, by priming the weapons/instrument with "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna. These parts were then treated to a double layer of Gold, a hearty wash of "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade and a robust dry-brush using more “Vallejo” Gold.

Finally, I painted all of the Crimson Death’s teeth with White and their forked tongues with Heavy Ochre, before washing them with "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade and Reikland Fleshshade respectively.
The Mausoleum WIPs - Three long-dead skeleton warriors in various states of completion
Having made a nice sizeable ‘dent’ in my Bloodletter backlog for “Age Of Sigmar”, I have momentarily turned my attention back to the horde of skeletons by “North Star Military Figures” I want to field for the “Frostgrave” scenario entitled “The Mausoleum”. I’ve now developed quite a productive little painting line of miniatures, having added a fourth sculpt to my current queue, and am resultantly progressing through their soiled garments and ragged clothes apace.

However, with my eye on the imminent commencement of the Seventh Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I am a little wary of beginning work on any new models unless it be to simply prime their base with my usual “Citadel” Abaddon Black or undercoat the mini itself with an appropriately pigmented paint. Any miniature I progress beyond this initial stage won’t unfortunately be eligible for entry and as my target once again is 500 points (approximately 100 x 28mm miniatures over three months) I am rather keen to make every stroke of my paintbrush count. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

“You Are Too Clever, Doctor. Clever And Dangerous.”

"Destroy him. Die, Doctor, die!"
These "finely-sculpted" and rather overly-large 28mm scale "pewter" models of six shape-changing Zygons are produced by “Warlord Games” and were some of the first “much-anticipated” miniatures which ‘materialised in stores’ as part of the Nottingham-based company's Doctor Who Miniatures Game range. Arguably based far more upon the “fictional extra-terrestrial race” depicted in the 2013 BBC television story “The Day Of The Doctor”, as opposed to the Warlord Broton’s more obvious rubber-suit wearing brethren from the 1975 tale “Terror Of The Zygons”, these figures are wonderfully detailed sculpts and proved such an absolute pleasure to paint that I quickly went from possessing just a pair of the stranded aliens to owning an intimidating half a dozen.

Originally primed with two layers of "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone, my ‘go to’ pot for portraying flesh since the frustrating cessation of “Citadel” Tallarn Flesh and Pallid Flesh, these miniatures were all predominantly painted using a colour scheme inspired by that recommended on the “Warlord Games” “Into The Time Vortex” website. However, rather than simply ‘build up’ the figures’ shading with increasingly lighter layers of red, I instead just heavily washed them with “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson and then dry-brushed them with more “Vallejo” Heavy Skintone.
"The humans will be following our course by their radar. Transmit a jamming signal."
One somewhat contentious suggestion from the Zygons Paint Guide was to paint their hands and feet in black. Such an obvious physical feature of the “shape-changing humanoids” certainly wasn’t evident during the Tom Baker era, and wasn’t all that noticeable during their recent appearances in “The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion” either. However, as the more ‘modern-day’ monsters now appear capable of firing “electrical charges from their hands that can stun or disintegrate” the thought of blending in some old OOP “Citadel” Chaos Black over the ends of their sucker-covered limbs appealed as I thought it would make the models more interesting to the eye…

With my ‘distracting’ refugees from the Zygor homeworld completed I have finally been able to start working on my monthly unit for the “Age Of Sigmar” rule-set by “Games Workshop”. In the past, I’ve painted up a sizeable gathering of Plaguebearers, Nurglings and Bloodletters, as well as a Beast of Nurgle, Rotbringer’s Sorcerer, Herald of Nurgle and Lord of Plagues. However, I haven’t yet really tackled any of the corking scenery currently being produced for the “tabletop wargame” which replaced “Warhammer Fantasy Battle” in 2015.
Balewind Vortex WIPs - The scenic piece has twice been dry-brushed and had its details undercoated in black
This “multi-part plastic kit” of a Balewind Vortex will change all that, and arguably count as an additional ‘unit’ for my Host of Nurgle, due to the “swirling, violently swaying vortex of fell energies” needing to be summoned by my force’s Chaos Wizard before it can be placed upon the battlefield. Indeed, as far as “Age Of Sigmar” is concerned the “platform from which” powerful spells may be cast cannot actually be set up at the start of the game and instead can only be conjured upon the successful roll of a 7 or higher during the Hero Phase.

A genuinely formidably-sized piece of scenery, I’ve decided to paint the model in three separate pieces before assembling it. As a result I have begun working on the base of the “howling gusts” and not only undercoated it’s skull-festooned icon-covered stone foundation with “Citadel” Abaddon Black, but also started building up the dark foreboding carvings with plenty of dry-brushing.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

(Lead) Mountain Musings - "Konflikt '47" December 2016

"Secrets Of The Third Reich WIPs - The regular British infantryman is almost finished already
This month's randomly themed attempt to try and reduce my ever-increasing mountain of metal, plastic and resin models has been somewhat surprisingly superseded by an impulse purchase of a rule-book at last month's "Warfare" wargames show in Reading, and a subsequent rummage through a box of partially painted miniatures which has stood unattended for a couple of years. Consequently I intend to try and dedicate myself for the next few weeks to a batch of "Secrets Of The Third Reich" figures by "West Wind Productions" and some 'World War Two' models by "Warlord Games", in order to be able field a couple of 'sizeable' forces suitable for "Konflikt '47".

Indeed, as far as previously painted "West Wind Productions" miniatures are concerned, I already own enough 'Weird War Two' figures to deploy a minimum-sized 199 point German reinforced platoon for the "standalone game inspired by the hugely successful Bolt Action"; one which contains both a Leutnant and his two Wehrmacht Infantry Squads, as well as seven "animated corpses of the Totenkorps...
A basic "Konflikt '47" reinforced German platoon, with accompanying Totenkorps Squad
Disappointingly however, I do not yet currently own quite enough finished "Secrets Of The Third Reich" models to field a similarly-sized British contingent. Although I am only short of a single (regular) Tommy equipped with a carbine rifle, and two red beret-wearing, identically-armed, members of the Airborne Infantry.

As a result of these slightly frustrating omissions I am initially focusing the majority of my attention upon three of "West Wind Productions" characterful Commando sculpts, two of which have had their Gas Mask heads swapped for British Para Heads in Berets with Gas Masks. Eager to play my first game of "Konflikt '47" these figures have already all been based, primed and worked upon, with my 'missing' regular Infantryman already close to completion.
British Matilda Mark I Infantry Tank WIP - The vehicle needs to be based before much more work can be done 
One of the real attractions of Chris Hale's alternative World War rule-set is the fact that players can additionally also utilise any of the ('historically accurate') units found within the "Bolt Action" Army books. This has rather inevitably led to me returning to an 'old' metal and resin "Warlord Games" model of a British Matilda Mark I Infantry Tank I actually started painting for a game of "Savage Worlds" a couple of years ago.

Having dusted off "the first of the infantry tank concepts to see production and combat", I have given the 'slow and under-gunned' motor vehicle a generous double-coat of "Vallejo" Heavy Green, and started work on both its turret-mounted Vickers heavy machine gun and accompanying commander. Unfortunately, I don't though currently own any more of the "Games Workshop" 120mm x 92mm oval bases I predominantly super-glue such transports upon, so once I've finished painting its underbelly I'll have to wait until my new stands arrive through the post before I can make any more progress on it.
The Mausoleum WIPs - Three long-dead swordsmen in various states of completion
Such a 'healthy' obsession with "Goblin Clockwork Miniatures" brainchild and all of its 'Weird War' shenanigans does not however, mean that I have forgotten my plans to paint ten skeletons with which to re-enact The Mausoleum scenario from the "Frostgrave" rule-book, and I have still been busily putting pigment to plastic on the first three of my Undead warriors by "North Star Military Figures". Indeed, I have even found time to locate a number of old "Games Workshop" Dwarven shield emblems with which to decorate the bony antagonist's rather bare and formerly uninteresting wooden shields.