Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2014 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint

Now for those of you expecting a posting by Blax The Kleric I apologise for high-jacking your usual dose of “Fantorical”, but rest assured normal service will soon be restored. But for today only Simon and I have agreed to submit a post to one another's blogs, detailing each others ten favourite painted figures of 2014. So what you will find below are my personal favourites from Simon’s output for the year...

No. 10 - German Zombie Captain by "West Wind Productions" - February
Zombies have been very much in 'vogue' for the last few years, in films, television and of course in Wargames though I am reliably informed by one of my work colleagues (who know’s about this sort of thing) that Nazi zombies are the most evil as they were already evil before they were zombies! All I know is that the ones Simon has painted up are rather nice (if that’s the right word to use for zombies), and I particularly like the Captain figure in his shirt and braces still wearing his officers peaked cap.

No. 9 - Albino Skink Champion - "Games Workshop" - December
“Oldhammer” is a thing that could only be unique to "Games Workshop". No other company has such a fast turnover of figures that models from the Eighties and Nineties could be looked upon with nostalgia (most would still have them in their current ranges!). It is however where a lot of us started in the hobby, so it’s nice to see some of these 'classic' fantasy armies getting dusted off and given a coat of paint (even if I would not dare take on a challenge like this!). Now the figure I’ve chosen is one that I know Simon wasn’t that pleased with, but it’s my choice so he’ll have to put up with it. Though it may not be as white as he’d hoped it would be, I love the fact that 'Gluckle The Greedy' looks like he’s seen many a battle and the contrast to the blue skin colour of the rest of the skinks in his unit really makes him stand out as a special character. Sorry Simon I like him!

No. 8 - Judge Death - "Mongoose Publishing" - November
Now Simon has done quite a bit of complaining about the quality of the casting on some of these “Judge Dredd” miniatures, but I’ve not seen anything wrong with any of his finished models. Perhaps he’s just clever with how he photographs them!?!. I have liked quite a few of the ones he’s presented over the year but in the end it came down to the two versions of Judge Death. Both are smashing figures and the way the 'ectoplasmic' vapour was painted emerging from the bottom of the giant helmet only version was most impressive (and something I’ve always struggled with!). But in the end the full bodied version just edged it.

No. 7 - Aliens - "Ground Zero Games" - April
Aliens... Now who doesn’t want an army of these little blighters? After Daleks these have got to be my evil army of choice. They are one of those figures that appear so easy to paint and yet are so difficult to get just right. But that is exactly what Simon has done here with these 15mm xenomorphs. His style of painting and use of gloss varnish finish compliments them perfectly, not to mention that his use of the 10mm “facehuggers” from “Pendraken” is also rather inspired.

No. 6 - Iceman "Wizkids" - December
I love superheroes, I could have nearly filled this entire list with the “Heroclix” figures that Simon has repainted (The Rhino and the Thing spring immediately to mind), but I’ve decided to limit myself to just two for my top ten. So for my first superhero entry I have taken a figure that has only recently been completed and that is Bobby Drake, better known as Iceman, from the X-Men. Now this is a figure I own myself, however needless to say mine doesn’t look anything like this. Still in his original clear blue plastic I actually thought the model looked quite good, until I saw this repaint of him. I know that Simon has put a lot of work into getting a sense of coldness into the figure and it really shows. This is a figure that I know quite few people have commented approvingly about and one Simon himself is pretty pleased with and for good reason. A great example of what these figures can look like.

No. 5 - Modern Middle Eastern Alliance Revered Leader "GHQ" - May
6mm figures can be great. They are cheap, are quick and easy to paint and you don’t need acres of space to play in. Having said all that when I first read this blog entry I thought these figures were 10 or 15mm scale that just shows the levels of detail that there is painted onto on these little lumps of lead. He has also taken the chance to build up tiny little diorama. So what could have been just another pretty boring stand of infantry has been given an injection of personality with the simple addition of the camel (is this a subliminal metaphor for the reasons behind the conflict “the straw that broke the camels back" I wonder?); plus it also makes him easier to pick out on the battlefield. All of this goes into making the stand a rather clever little figure base.

No. 4 - Jesus Of Nazareth - "Space Vixens From Mars" - November
A good blog entry should get a reaction from the reader and this miniature certainly did that. I thought I was holding my own in our “Mo’vember” painting challenge when up popped this little fellow (is it blasphemous to call the son of god a little fellow? I don’t know). Anyway as I said at the time “How do you top Jesus!?!” Though it was never a competition, if it had been I think Simon would have won it then and there. Another excellent paintjob and a figure I would never in a million years of even thought existed. Quite brilliantly well played that man.

No. 3 - Roj Blake - "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - October
I am a big fan of Seventies British science-fiction, and so it would seem is our host here, as not only does he post some very entertaining cartoon strips of his take on classic “Dr who” over on his “Mooretoons” blog, but he has also brought us his continuing painting saga of the original members of the Liberator's crew from “Blake's Seven”. Now if he had finished painting 'Jenna Stannis' I would probably have picked her, but as he hasn’t… (I’m still waiting Simon!), I have picked the main man himself. It’s quite scary how much the finished figure does look like Gareth Thomas, I think he might actually have got his hands on the Master's 'Cellular Compression Device'... I mean you never see the actor and the figure together now do you?

No. 2 - Frankenstein’s Monster - "Graven Images" - October
Simon is actually painting up a second ("Heroclix") version of this legendary concoction of body parts even as we speak and from what we’ve seen so far I am sure this will also be an excellent example of the breed. However for the moment I have chosen this lovely (is that the right word) 40mm “Universal Movies” version. I love old horror films and would much rather watch an old “Universal” or “Hammer” atmospheric classic than one of today’s 'gore fests'. Plus this fellow really captures the essence of Boris Karlov’s iconic performance.

No.1 - Lockjaw - "Wizkids" - November
Now it maybe the fact that I am a big “Silver age” comic fan, or that "The Inhumans” doggie chum has turned up in a few of the classic comics I have been reading of late. But I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for this teleporting canine. If I’m brutally honest when Simon first put him forward as one of his entries into our “Mo’vember” painting challenge, creative as the choice was, I actually found the miniature in question somewhat uninspiring. Therefore it was all the more surprising when he presented the finished figure a couple of weeks later... What a transformation. Here was a figure that I really wish I’d painted. One thing that constantly surprises me on Simon’s blog is his ability to take these “Heroclix” miniatures and, by giving them a top notch re-paint, show what really good sculpts are lurking under the often pretty dodgy paint-jobs they come with. If there’s one thing I’ve come away from “Fantorical” with this year it is “Don’t judge a miniature by the paint-job it comes with!”.

And that’s why he’s made it to the top of my “Fantorical Favourites” of 2014.So that’s it, my top ten of Blax the Kleric's figures for 2014. All that remains for me to do is thank Simon for coming up with the idea behind this bit of nonsense, and giving me the opportunity to share with you my favourite bits of his output for the year. If you’re interested to see what he thought of my attempts at sloshing the paint and such about please follow the link below:

Finally I’d just like to wish you all the very best of new years, and may your paint only flow where you wish it to.Cheers Roger.

Monday, 29 December 2014

28mm Battle Report: Batman And Jesus Of Nazareth Verses the Black Manta

This adventure takes place upon my usual 2x2 gaming board which has been populated with four rocky outcrops and a large swamp in the south-west corner. Four trees will be acting as objective markers, ranging from value 1 – 4, and have been dotted around the board. The winner is the side who holds the most points at the end of the sixth turn. However no-one will know how many points each objective is worth until the end of the game.

This scenario was designed to provide some Yuletide fun and allow us to try out some of the ‘Fury From The Deep’ rules found within the “On Location” “7TV” rule supplement. In particular it was an opportunity to see how special effects such as Saboteur and H20-Oh work as well as equipment such as Scuba Gear and the First Aid Pack. In addition it also meant having a go with the Mysterious Stranger Archetype, and establishing just how effective a Pacifist character, using special effects such as Sixth Sense, Telepathy and Disarm could be.
“The story so far… Gotham City is preparing a festive celebration in Thomas Wayne Park by decorating four Christmas trees. Realising that by destroying these symbols of ‘goodwill to all mankind’ he would deal Gotham City’s Yuletide spirit a harsh blow, the Black Manta and some of his henchmen have swum up a little known canal intent on destroying the trees. However, The Batman has already heard about the ‘fishy’ villain’s diabolical plan and has raced to the Park in order to stop him. But would the Son of Man really standby and let another save his birthday celebration..?"

At the start of each turn both sides would have to roll to see whether any of their models would arrive on the tabletop and a number of House Rules were agreed; in order for the villains to capture an objective they must use a special action to plant some explosives at the foot of a tree, providing an opposing model wasn’t within 2 inches of it, and then have the bomb detonate at the start of the next turn. The criminal’s deployment zone was the swamp in the south-east corner and the heroes would appear on the opposite side of the table.

Having arrived at the park, Batman and Jesus of Nazareth were immediately disorientated by watching a couple of groups of scenery hands pulling down two of the Styrofoam rocky outcrops. Apparently the show’s director had wanted a ‘Sparse Location’ for them to battle within and so had ordered two items of terrain to be removed. As a result the cluster of rocks on the western and northern table edges were gone, leaving the heroes far more ‘out in the open’.
Utilising his ‘You Can’t Have Faith Until You Believe’ [Strike From The Shadows] Star Quality the ‘cloaked crusaders’ won the initiative and raced towards the central tall tree [Objective Four], keeping in mind to remain within 6 inches of one another in order to maintain a double-activation per turn. In front of them the Black Manta and three of his U-Men emerged from the swamp, with the henchmen utilising their H20-Oh special effect and setting up anywhere within the water. One of the scuba-divers then moved west past one of the remaining rocky outcrops before opening up with his sub-machinegun on Batman. Two of the bullets hit home but the Batsuit kept Bruce Wayne out of harm’s way. Another of the scuba-divers then rushed towards the central tall tree [Objective Four], gripping his explosives as he ran.
The second turn saw another U-Man emerge from the swamp, who quickly moved west towards the south-western tree [Objective One]. Another henchman scuttled north up to the western rocky outcrop and then blazed away at Jesus of Nazareth with his weapon. Amazingly none of the bullets struck home. However the good shepherd was far away enough from the central tall tree [Objective Four] to allow the U-Man with the explosives to both plant his device and move towards the north-eastern tree [Objective Three].

The scuba-diver who had previously shot at Batman now moved closer and fired again… one of bullets tearing into the Dark Knight. In return the hero struck home with a bat-a-rang but was perplexed as the snorkel-wearing swine proved ‘Invulnerable’ to ranged weapons for this turn as a result of an Event Card. As a result Batman charged into the villain and thanks to his ‘Fists of Fury’ flattened the fellow. Realising he had moved too far away from Jesus, the Caped Crusader activated his Heroic Surge to strike one of the other U-Men between the eyes with a bat-a-rang and then head back to the Messiah’s side. However Jesus was not about to stand by and watch a second of the Christmas trees be destroyed, as he rugby-tackled the Scuba-diving scum heading towards it. But then threw a couple of punches wide of their mark.
With a loud boom, the tall tree [Objective Four] was blown into splinters, heralding the start of the third turn. Incensed Jesus declared an ‘all or nothing’ punch and flattened the U-Man responsible for destroying the tree. Reaching his side, Batman attempted to throw a long-range bat-a-rang at the Black Manta but was out of range. Unfortunately for him however, the trident of Aquaman’s arch-nemesis was not, and Black manta sent a shock-ray searing into Dark Knight’s frame.
With still no new U-Men appearing, Black Manta urged his remaining U-Men onwards and saw the scuba-diver knocked down by Jesus, return to his feet and try and riddle the Caped Crusader with bullets. The Batsuit saved two of the shots, whilst the third failed to wound. With a snorkelled shout the henchman rushed into Batman and tried to stick him with a diving knife. The blade penetrated the Dark Knight and he could have fallen there and then but for his Luck; and the re-roll was snake eyes. Eager to bring the Rabbi down as well, the Black Manta fired his trident at Jesus but rolled a one. Trusting to his own dark Luck, the villain rolled again… and achieved another one. Realising he could soon be on the wrong end of Batman’s fist, the bug-eyed baddie moved west along the southern edge, out of the swamp.
Dazed by his wounds Batman clobbered the U-Man trying to stab him and moved towards Jesus in the hope of being healed by the prophet. The Son of Man quickly dispensed his First Aid Pack and successfully passed his Intelligence Test to give the Caped Crusader one of his hit points back.

Re-energised Batman moved towards the Black Manta and hurled two bat-a-rangs at him. One of them penetrating the villain’s wet-suit. Sensing that victory could be within their grasp Jesus threw himself at the diabolical deep-sea despot but failed to connect with one of his punches, despite trying his Luck.
Suddenly besides the Black Manta another U-Man emerged from the swamp and immediately poured sub-machinegun bullets into the Caped Crusader. Fortunately all three shots were saved by the Batsuit’s armour. Meanwhile the Black Manta, furious at his plans being so badly stalled, made a series of frenzied attacks upon the Messiah with his trident. However the three-pronged jabs kept failing to penetrate Jesus’ Invulnerable aura

The final turn saw one of the unconscious U-Men groggily rise to their feet, move to the north-eastern tree [Objective Three] and use a special action to plant his explosives. The Black Manta once again attacked Jesus of Nazareth, but again was thwarted by his unwieldy weapon’s inability to wound the prophet. Realising there was still an opportunity to bring Batman to his knees one of the scuba-divers launched themselves upon the Dark knight, desperately trying to stab him with their diving knife. The result was the U-Man tasting knuckle-sandwich as he was flattened by the Caped Crusader. However the Dark Knight was not finished yet and hurling himself at the Black Manta he also chinned the oceanic criminal as well... 
Suddenly the area was filled with the sound of Gotham City Police vehicle sirens and the Black Manta realised it was time for him and his henchmen to disappear back into the swamp. But had he caused enough damage to the Christmas trees to ruin the Yuletide celebrations?

A look at the objectives saw that the Secret Society of Super Villains member had only destroyed one objective worth three points. Whilst the two ‘untouched’ trees also totalled three points between them. The fourth objective, which would have been blown up if there had been a seventh turn, was revealed to have been worth four points. But as it was still intact it meant the heroes had saved the (Christmas) day.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

"There Is Only One Path To Peace... Your Extermination."

These 28mm models of Ultron, Jocasta and three Dreadnought robots are by “Wizkids” and come from their “Heroclix” range of plastic miniatures. All of the models were removed from their ‘clicky-bases’ and superglued to either 25mm or 40mm “Games Workshop” round bases.
Ultron is actually a ‘flying’ miniature from the Marvel Infinity Challenge expansion and is model number 134. The living automaton was first undercoated “Citadel” Abaddon Black and then treated to a layer of Boltgun Metal. I then applied a wash of Nuln Oil before dry-brushing the figure with more Boltgun Metal. Finally the super-villain’s adamantium robotic shell was dry-brushed with Mithril Silver to help bring out its detail. Ultron’s eyes and maw were simply picked out with “Vallejo” Heavy Red and washed with “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson.
This model of Jocasta is from the Marvel Armor Wars expansion and is miniature 87. I painted her using exactly the same method as I did for her creator, Ultron.

These Dreadnought robots are from the Marvel Critical Mass expansion and are model number 13. They are actually 55mm in height and were undercoated with “Vallejo” Gunmetal Blue in order to try and capture the metallic blue-coloured armour the non-sentient robotic combat instruments are comprised of. Each figure was then washed with “Citadel” Nuln Oil before being dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Gunmetal Blue.
At this stage I did consider a further ‘highlight’ of “Citadel” Mithril Silver but found that the dry-brushing had actually turned the robots titanium steel alloy more silver than I had wanted anyway. I also considered picking out the leg and arm rivets with Boltgun Metal and Nuln Oil in order to replicate the colour-scheme used for the Dreadnought 2000 model designed by A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics). However many of the detailed rivets were in some very difficult positions to reach with a brush tip, so in the end I stuck with my original plan of simply replacing the ghastly “Wizkids” pre-paint with my “Vallejo” Gunmetal Blue one. Fortunately once the “Citadel” Gloss Varnish had dried the blue within the paint really shone through both the Nuln Oil Shade and the “Vallejo” Model Color highlights.
Finally I decided to base one of the partially destroyed robots from the “Heroclix” X-Men Danger Room Collector’s Pack as a 40mm objective marker. This model actually took the longest to paint of the lot as I wanted to give the model an appearance of being somewhat rusty. As a result once the “Citadel” Boltgun Metal and Nuln Oil wash had dried, I applied some watered-down “Vallejo” Bronze to all the cracks and crevices found on the model. Once dry I then washed these areas with “Citadel” Agrax Earthshade before dry-brushing the entire model with Boltgun Metal. Finally I picked out the robot’s cyclopean eye with “Vallejo” Heavy Red and washed with “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson.
I'm going to try and stick to this weekly 'super-powered' composition of 5-6 miniatures including an objective base, so have re-based this old "Heroclix" sculpt of the Silver Samurai along with a handful of his Ninja henchmen. I must admit I'm not completely 'sold' on these Hand Ninja figures as they're a bit too large for my liking, and obviously 'bendy' swords aren't terribly pleasing to the eye either. I did though think that this model of Ben Grimm, wearing a mackintosh and hat, whilst leaning up against a 'straining' lamp post, would make a good 'rendezvous' objective, so have placed the rather poorly pre-painted figure on one of the thin-edged 40mm round bases I tend to use these days for goal markers.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Secret Santa 2014 - "Crooked Dice" Federated Security

This year I decided to take part in the fantastic Secret Santa organized by Ian and his excellent wife, Cath, over on “The Blog With No Name” [].

As a result I was absolutely delighted to be greeted with these five Federated Security models by “Crooked Dice Design Game Studio” yesterday morning, and have already managed to spend some time painting up a test piece. Based upon the dastardly henchmen of the Federation from the BBC science fiction television series “Blake’s Seven” these figures look set to be a joy a paint; especially as they’re almost entirely black.

Three of the miniatures, which are slightly thinner than ‘heroic 28mm’ scale and are somewhat sedentary, are sculpted by Ian Mountain. Whilst the more dynamically posed and slightly thicker-set Federation goons are by Martin Buck. All the models come with separate heads.

To begin with I’ve given each figure a double undercoat of black and then dry-brushed them all with charcoal in order to provide some highlights but also to help me see the detail I need to pick out. I’ve seen some photographs of some lovely bright green headwear for these miniatures on the internet but I wanted mine to be somewhat more muted so I have gone with a rather bland green undercoat before applying a wash over the area. I have also seen a number of different colours used for the space henchmen’s visors. I’ve decided to go with red but as I just want the vaguest suggestion of crimson I painted just a single layer straight onto the black undercoat and then washed it with a black shade.
I like my science fiction weapons to somewhat stand out from a model so instead of painting the Federation rifle the brown-tin colour depicted in the television series I’ve simply gone with a metal undercoat heavily washed with a double helping of black shade. I’ve also picked out the belt accessories with silver in order to make them stand out a bit more than my normal “Citadel” Boltgun Metal and hopefully break-up the pure black of the Federated Security guard’s uniform. The model just needs another wash of black shade to help tie-in the charcoal highlights and should then be finished, ready for final basing.

I genuinely can’t thank my Secret Santa enough for selecting these miniatures for me as they’re really helped re-galvanize my “Blake’s Seven” “The Way Back” painting project from a couple of months ago.
 I have also managed to find a little more time to spend on these three models from Dick Garrison of “Wargames Supply Dump” [].

These arrived as a surprise gift from Roger a couple of weeks ago now and I’ve struggled to progress them as quickly as I would like as a result of my commitment to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. However I’m hopefully almost halfway finished with Ballistics Man, and finally getting into the orange and gold layers for Captain Garrison and Ultra Retrovian; two colours I really struggle with at the best of times.

I’ve got some high hopes for these models to prominently feature in a “7TV” campaign set in America during the Prohibition period, which I have planned for 2015. But for now I just want to get these lovely figures painted up to a similar standard to those done by Roger on his “Rantings From Under The Wargames Table” blog []. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

'Oldhammer' - Lizardmen Army - WIP - Part Four

Having finally managed to finish my albino skink champion earlier this month, I’ve spent the past week or so pottering around on the base and undercoat of the skink cold one rider I intend to submit to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as my ‘rider and mount’ themed entry.

Having previously decided to have the bipedal lizard stood upon the lifeless head of a (plastic) skink I have subsequently added half a resin flagstone by “Scibor Miniatures” to the base beneath one of its clawed feet in order to strengthen the large miniature’s stance. I’ve already managed to paint this grey with a black wash, and both layer and wash the green-skinned lizardman head which the beast is stood upon. Indeed, I have actually finished painting the base now as all it needs is a protective coat of PVA glue and some grass flock to be complete. In addition I have also superglued the skink rider to his beast and as a result have been painting around the lizardman with my cold one’s undercoat.
Rather surprisingly the 1996 “Games Workshop” edition of the “Warhammer Armies Lizardmen” supplement, which I’ve been using as both a miniature and painting guide, does not even contain a black and white photograph of a cold one rider, so I haven’t really seen any colour schemes which have particularly inspired me. As a result I have decided to go for a rather lacklustre brown mount for my skink, which should be simple to apply, wash and then drybrush. I did consider painting the beast’s scaly armour in a vivid bright colour in order to really show off the sculpt’s fine detail. But I think the blue skin of the skink will supply enough contrast to make the model 'pop' and I still plan to ‘pick out’ his mount’s spikes and horns in white.
Meanwhile I have finally started to ‘get to grips’ with the small band of skink warriors I was supposed to have finished painting last month. The detail on these tiny models is incredible and as a result I have abandoned my plan to paint them all at once and instead just concentrate on one or two and simply work my way from their tail up. As a result I have finished the first of the cold-blooded warriors armed with throwing spears and am quickly progressing a second…

Monday, 22 December 2014

"Pulp Figures" - Boys In Blue

These ten 28mm miniatures come from “Pulp Figures” Gangland Justice range and consist of all the models from packs PGJ06 Boys In Blue 1 and PGJ07 Boys In Blue 2. The neighbourhood beat cops come in a variety of poses and with an assortment of weaponry as well as a vintage call box and fire hydrant.

All of them were initially undercoated with two layers of “Vallejo” Heavy Blue before their boots, belts, buttons and badges were painted with “Citadel” Abaddon Black. I then applied a generous wash of “Citadel” Nuln Oil over all the overcoats, collars and caps before applying a similarly heavy wash of “Vallejo” Blue Shade. As I simply didn’t want all eight officers to appear too alike to one another l decided to paint a couple wearing white gloves and one to be based upon Sergeant Samuel J. Battle; an inspirational cop who was the first black police officer in New York City.
As a result I painted the hands of five of the models with a coat of “Vallejo” Heavy Skintone and then washed them with “Citadel” Ogryn Flesh before ‘picking out’ their fingers and any flat surfaces with more “Vallejo” Heavy Skintone. For the gloves I initially undercoated them with White, before washing them with watered-down Heavy Bluegrey. As with the bare hands the fingers and flat hand surfaces were then ‘highlighted’ with more of the base colour; this bearing White for the gloves. For Samuel Battle I used a combination of “Citadel” Dark Flesh”, Agrax Earthshade and then Dark Flesh highlights. All of the officers’ faces were painted in the same manner.

Any rifle butts, truncheons or brown leather pouches were painted using “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna and “Citadel” Agrax Earthshade. For the badges, belt buckles, pistols and rifle barrels I used Boltgun Metal and Nuln Oil. The last paint to be applied was a dollop of “Vallejo” Gold on all of the cops’ buttons. I was planning on then washing them with “Citadel” Agrax Earthshade but forgot to do and ended up varnishing a few of the models before I realised what I’d done. However, I think perhaps this was a moment of serendipity, as the ‘brass’ buttons really stand out as they are, and as a result I have purposely left them all alone.
The fire hydrant was painted using a combination of “Vallejo” Heavy Red” and the “Citadel” Shade Carroburg Crimson and will join the vintage call box as objective markers; why else would you have an emergency source of water or telephone in the middle of some grassland…

All but one of these miniatures was very simple to paint, and I especially liked the ‘running’ pose with the open face as this not only allowed you to customize the model with a different hand weapon; such as a truncheon, pistol, rifle or shotgun. But also provided some great facial detail to highlight. The beat cop with his hands clasped behind his back was another favourite, especially as it provided me with an opportunity to ‘try out’ my “Vallejo” White and watered-down Heavy Bluegrey combination for his gloves.
Unfortunately I did struggle awfully with the miniature I chose to be based upon Samuel Battle. The model’s cap appears to be at a slight angle with the figure’s head tilted in the opposite direction, as a result the eyeballs, which Bob prominently sculpts, just did not align themselves in my mind and I repeatedly kept having to paint them then scrap off the paint and start again. At one point I even tried to just get away with painting a single eye with the second being ‘over-shadowed’ by the cap peak.

Eventually I believe I have found a middle ground and painted both eyes in. But I must confess I am not happy with the way they have turned out. This is a shame as the model itself, sporting a wonderful sub-machinegun looks great.
I am currently trying to keep to a weekly painting theme (alongside the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge ones) and have 'chosen 'robots' as my current topic. As a result I've finished drybrushing the metal and silver highlights on my “Heroclix” models of Ultron and his purpose-built mate Jocasta, and am just applying the base layer for their red eyes and robotic maw. I have also dug out a broken robot from the X-Men Danger Room Collectors Pack to use as an objective marker.
In addition I have undercoated, washed and highlighted three Dreadnought robots. These non-sentient combat instruments are 55mm tall and as a result been placed upon 40mm circular bases.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Empire Of The Dead - London Bobbies

These three metal 28mm miniatures are part of the eight figures Andy Cooper has sculpted for the “Westwind Productions” boxed set EOTD-07 London Bobbies. Although these figures are part of the miniature manufacturer’s steampunk “Empire Of The Dead” range, I plan use them as a State gang for the post apocalyptic skirmish ruleset “Across The Dead Earth”. 
The Victorian Policemen were reasonably simple to paint and were all initially undercoated with “Vallejo” Heavy Blue and then given two healthy washes of the “Citadel” Shade Nuln Oil. As I wanted something to ‘break up’ the monotony of their all dark blue colour scheme, I was delighted to see some the Bobbies had been painted with pure black capes on their box’s rear illustration. As a result I just applied a couple of coats of Abaddon Black to my miniatures’ cloaks. I then picked out their silver belt buckles, custodian crests and fastening chains with a combination of Boltgun Metal and more Nuln Oil. Their truncheons were painted with “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna and a wash of “Citadel” Agrax Earthshade.
I’m very close to finishing the eight “Pulp Figures” I intend to make my next submission for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. I’ve really enjoyed painting most of these Boys In Blue by Bob Murch. Though the odd figure has given me a bit of a headache from time to time, and my painting of the eyes on one of the models definitely still irks. Most of the models now only need another coat of “Vallejo” Blue Shade and the odd police cap badge or brass button to be finished.
Next week’s themed entry for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge is Rider(s) and Mount(s). I’ve actually four models which I plan to start work on with a view to this theme, and whichever gets the most attention in the coming few days will be the one I’ll eventually submit as my entry. This means I’ll be doing a lot of painting but probably for little output by the end of next week, so in order to ensure I still paint my target five models per week I will also be working on a number of single miniatures which should be ‘quick wins’ as they’re predominantly metallic.
These three “Heroclix” models are Cyborg, Jocasta and Ultron. I have already cut them from their "Wizkids" 'clicky-bases', re-based them, undercoated them black, and managed to apply the first drybrushed layer of “Citadel” Boltgun Metal on to two of them. The Cyborg model is a lot bigger than the others and as a result has been placed upon a 40mm round base.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

"Stop Fighting And Make Nice! Or Iceman Will Make Ice!”

This 28mm “Wizkids” model of Iceman is number 039 from the “Heroclix” Marvel Xplosion range of plastic miniatures and was not only my first submission for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge but also my Bonus Round Cold theme entry.

The model, which is actually 58mm in height, was initially undercoated with “Vallejo” White before I applied a heavy wash of Blue Shade. Because the figure is made of a light shiny blue transparent plastic, which is significantly more brittle than the manufacturer’s usual soft plastic, I actually ended up having to apply several coats of both the White paint and then the Blue Shade before the model was appropriately covered. In addition there was absolutely no give in the plastic whatsoever, so I ended up having to repeatedly superglue his arms back into his sockets as just the weight of my brushing the paint onto the model kept making them ‘pop out’ at the shoulders.
As I wanted to try and capture the deep dark icy blue of the original plastic I made sure that the acrylic wash was rather heavily applied. Once dry I started the hour or so long process of slowly drawing a lightly charged number 10 round “Royal & Langnickel” brush over the sculpts raised surfaces. With some patience, I eventually found that the white paint transferred onto the founding X-Man's detail and also started to become quite powdery as well. As a result every now and then I’d just gently dab the model with the edge of the brush and create a covering of fine soft white dust over the model. Once I was happy that I’d built up enough of these layers on the model, I more heavily charged my brush and applied a final ‘drybrush’ over the entire figure. This thicker wetter paint gave the mutant superhero a brighter white highlight across his sharp icy edges.

To finish off the model I applied a few layers of “Citadel” snow flock to the 40mm base, and around Bobby Drake’s feet. I was tempted to add some additional snow flock to other areas of the model but as this figure’s ultimate fate will be a place on my wargaming table I thought such delicate applications would soon rub off once the miniature was being handled.
I’m continuing to progress the eight “Pulp Figures” which come from Bob Murch’s Boys In Blue miniature packs, despite something of a demotivating disaster yesterday when two of the coppers’ hands promptly dropped off whilst painting them; a disconcerting sight at the best of times. I am not sure if it was a case of not kneading my green stuff well enough or simply using too much so the super-glue didn’t actually attach itself to both the hand and wrist socket. But whatever the reason it certainly resulted in one of those ‘I can’t be bothered with these any more’ moments which I think we all encounter with this hobby from time to time?

Fortunately, having visited a few fellow blogger postings including one from Anne [ she’s clearly working on her “Pulp Figures”, I was back in the mood and set about cleaning up the models, re-attaching a wooden truncheon here and replacing a pistol with a rifle there; the latter being additionally super-glued to the model’s overcoat to provide it with an additional point of contact.
Two of the models (because I luckily don’t need to paint in their eyes) just need the odd bit of silver and brass being ‘picked out’ and washed. Whilst another, inspired by New York City cop Samuel J. Battle, really just needs his face and peaked cap painted as well as his buttons. The rest still need a bit of work to be done if I am to have them all ready for Curt and my Saturday posting window for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge; but I have finished the vintage call box and fire hydrant models which accompanied the American Police Officers, so I’ll at least be able to post something new at the weekend. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

"If You Struggle, You'll Only Bleed."

This 28mm model of Black Manta is by “Wizkids” and comes from their “Heroclix” DC Hypertime range of plastic miniatures and is one of my submissions for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge 2014. The “DC Comics” supervillain debuted in the September 1967 edition of “Aquaman” and is my favourite archenemy of the King of Atlantis. However having removed the figure from its ‘clicky-base’ some six-seven years ago, I have disappointingly just let it sit on one of my shelves waiting to be painted… until now.

The miniature was reasonably simply to paint following a “Citadel” Abaddon Black” undercoat, as at first I just had to pick out its trident in Boltgun Metal. The three-pronged spear is rather bent and I did consider cutting it away from Black Manta’s leg. But the villain has a nice ribbed pattern running down the sides of his rubber-suit and I just didn’t fancy trying to replicate this with green stuff. In addition, unless I completely cut away the trident’s shaft and replaced it I could not see how I was going to straighten it; additional work I wasn’t prepared to contemplate.

However I did think the model looked rather boring all-black and decided to update the colour-scheme a little bit by painting the bug-eyed helmet, breathing tubes and oxygen tank Boltgun Metal as well. This is far more in line with the ‘modern’ version of the Black Manta. All the metallic areas were then treated to a wash of Nuln Oil before being lightly drybrushed with more Boltgun Metal. His eyes were painted using a combination of “Vallejo” Heavy Red” and the “Citadel” Shade Carroburg Crimson.
These five 28mm U-Men models are also by “Wizkids” but this time come from their “Heroclix” Marvel Mutant Mayhem range. In the “Marvel Comics” world these villains believe in using mutant body parts to augment their bodies and live in specially designed environment suits to protect them from “an imperfect world.” For my purposes however their scuba-gear makes them the perfect henchmen to accompany Black Manta, or any other aquatic character.

As with Black Manta, their painting scheme was simple as I used just “Citadel” Abaddon Black and Boltgun metal (with a Nuln Oil wash). These miniatures did prove a little trickier to paint than I envisaged however, as it was quite difficult getting the tip of a brush in between all their breathing pipes. I also found myself in something of a dilemma concerning their face masks as "Wizkids" simply paint them with a horrible bright blue wash over the metallic paint used for the rest of their scuba apparatus. As I did not want to replicate that effect I did think about tying them closer to Black Manta by painting the visors with "Vallejo" Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson. In the end however, as I want to be able to use this models as a variety of henchmen, ranging from underwater goons through to Third Reich saboteurs, I simply applied a thick wash of Nuln Oil across each diving mask.

In addition I did consider doing something ‘special’ with their bases and creating some starfish and shells from green stuff to populate them with. But again, as I want to use my U-Men for a variety of roles, mainly land-based, I’ve gone with my usual “Citadel” (sea) grass flock. However if you want to see what I was thinking about then Finch on his superb blog really does excel at creating aquatic-themed bases:
 These four "Pulp Figures" come from the eight miniature-set Boys In Blue and should form the backbone of a large number of Bob Murch sculpts I'm planning to submit to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Unlike the "West Wind Productions" Victorian British Policemen I've recently been painting, I wanted to give these law enforcement miniatures a distinctly blue coloured uniform, so have been experimenting using a blue undercoat and then applying a black wash before a heavy blue one. I'm really happy with the final result as it means I can box off each figure's gold buttons and silver badge with black, safe in the knowledge that by the time the "Vallejo" Blue Shade wash has dried, the black undercoat will have turned a deep dark shadowy blue. 
The two Gangland Justice packs also come with models of a vintage call box and fire hydrant; the latter of which I've already based on one of my usual 40mm round (objective) bases and finished painting.