Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2017 - An "Undercoat" Personal Choice

I was somewhat surprised but also extremely chuffed to be asked to choose my top ten miniatures of 2017 as posted upon Blaxkleric’s “Fantorical” blog. My selection is a personal choice and I am sure people will disagree with some or all of my choices, but if we all the liked the same things the world would be a dull place.

Before I get to the miniatures however, I just wanted to add a small amount of context to my choices. I have known Simon for a long time and vividly recall my first gaming session with him. I had been a long time collector of miniatures but unenthusiastic painter, so seeing his fully painted forces with superb terrain to play on was a revelation and inspired me to paint more. Indeed, I have painted more miniatures in recent years than I have for the previous few decades, and that in part is down to the motivation of wanting my forces to be painted so I can face Simon’s. “Fantorical” has also been a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me too, as well as those websites it links to.

When I started looking for my top ten it quickly became apparent there were a lot to pick from and my choice would be very hard. It is clear that this has been a year when “Doctor Who” has massively influenced this blog, as there are numerous gorgeous models I could have picked but sadly left off the list as I did not want it to become the “Doctor Who” show! Anyway, enough rambling from me, here is the top ten in time honoured tradition starting with number 10 and counting down to the top slot.

'The Interceptor' - Accompanied by Mad Max and Imperator Furiosa
I have cheated here and included two miniatures as one, but in my defence the two go together and can’t really be separated. I must confess to really enjoying the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” as I feel it really captures what a post-apocalyptic world could be like. The figure of Max is well painted and captures the film character well. However, what elevates this entry to the top ten is the imaginative use of an historical armoured car to become Max’s new interceptor. Who would think of that? Not me, that’s for sure. But you know what, the madness works and they look brilliant together. Also the car’s excellent rusting techniques really stand out and make this a memorable 2017 entry.

"Supplies of all sorts were inadequate, discipline was breaking down, desertion was increasing..."
I didn’t think I would choose this model as there are far more appealing miniatures that have appeared during the year in my opinion. However, when I took the time to look at the paint job it made me realise the effort that had gone into it. Massed ranks of soldiers don’t normally get this amount of love, so the fact the face was painted with great eyes and features, combined with the clean bright colours and straps that make soldiers from this period really stand out, makes this more than worthy of appearing in the top ten.

"You are curious. You have seen the words, too. I can hear them tick inside you."
The “Doctor Who: Exterminate!” range of miniatures from “Warlord Games” have featured quite prominently on this blog and Simon has shown he clearly loves these models with the amount he has painted. I love how his Daleks and Cybermen are great examples of just how metal should be painted, but the Fisher King stands out for me for a number of reasons. Firstly, the creature itself is different and imaginative, secondly it looks evil and has a presence on the table top, and thirdly, it is a great example of painting with a limited pallet that captures the feel of the on-screen creature perfectly. The cloth pieces look old and dirty and compliment the bone-like sections of the monster really well, whilst at the same time providing just the right amount of contrast too. Great paint job.

"The Gorgon is a magical beast that resembles a bull, covered in dusky metallic scales."
I always thought a Gorgon was from Greek myth, but again I was educated in the wider world of miniatures when this gigantic brass bull smashed onto the blog and took my breath away. First of all it is a great sculpt, but painting metal can be a tricky thing, especially if you don’t want it to look boring. This is weathered to look like it has a patina of age about it and the verdigris effect is just brilliant. I find this aspect of painting quite a challenge, so this is how you pull it off with style. A formidably-posed "Bones" model with its great paint job has consistently kept this one in my mind.

No. 6 - Putrid Blightlord by "Games Workshop" - March 29th
"Each of their number has been touched by Nurgle..."
One “Games Workshop” miniature that demonstrates just how the Nottingham-based company are so clever at creating models with depth and negative space, such as the intestines looping out of the stomach, is the Putrid Blightlord. Simon has been perfecting his rotting Nurgle skin for a while now and his Chaos Host as a whole is worthy of praise as an army that looks amazing on the table top. But this particular figure, which both looks great and poses a challenge to the painter, stands out for me for a number of reasons. The skin is done well and conveys that diseased and bloated gift the plague god gives to his followers, yet on top of that Simon has picked out boils, pustules etc, as well as created areas of distressed skin that just make this thing really stick in my memory. Another example of a good "Age Of Sigmar" sculpt and a good paint job coming together to create something special.

"Ahhhh... Excuse me. Your device will do what? Triplicate the flammability?"
I included these three “Doctor Who: Exterminate!” miniatures as they sum up what a well painted model should do: they make you smile and inspire you to paint and create something as good. The paint job is relatively simple in terms of the colours used, but that shouldn’t take away from what is achieved here. Firstly, if you have seen “Doctor Who” you instantly know what this is! Secondly, it captures these slightly comical aliens perfectly, and thirdly, it makes me want to have these figures. The bright colours, the well-executed painted job, everything about this is just awesome!!

"Dr Pepper, so misunderstood."
I usually prefer miniatures over scenery, but this "Dr Pepper" vending machine is just a superb creation. Painted to be a rusted and forgotten piece of machinery on a starship for his “Barrier Peaks” project, this has everything for me. Excellent painting, a masterclass in weathering and the use of a decal that has been blended into the paint job seamlessly. A highly imaginative piece that just looks awesome.

"See the target, shoot the target is his philosophy."
I had heard of “G.I. Joe”, but that was about the limit of my knowledge of this miniatures range. So when these models first appeared on “Fantorical” it reinforced my opinion that Simon will always be able to surprise me with the figures he finds and paints. This for me was a great paintjob first and foremost. The face is just excellent and is the focal point for me, but then the other elements are so well done, such as the naval shirt, the lovely blue trousers and that superb parrot - the whole thing comes together brilliantly. Having seen this miniature for real it is even better than the blog posting! Just a great overall piece.

"Hand me down the shark repellent Bat-spray!"
Comics and super heroes were not something I was that interested in until I met Simon. But his painted miniatures for this genre, combined with his encyclopaedic knowledge on the subject when he answered my never ending questions, made me look into them more. His “Brown Bag” comic blog also got me inspired, so now I am a fan of the Batman Miniatures Game and even read the comics (I am currently catching up on “Batman Rebirth” at the moment). This posting stuck in my mind for a number of reasons. The paint job is great and captures the sixties version of the Batman character perfectly, with the bat symbol lovingly picked out and the cape well shaded showing the care that went into it. However sometimes emotions elevate things in your consciousness and the fact that this was posted as a tribute to the actor Adam West, who had sadly just passed away, made it more than just a well painted model. It became a tribute; something done and posted with feeling, and you can never underestimate the power of that.

No. 1 - Balewind Vortex by "Games Workshop" - February 2nd
"...Summoned by a wizard as a platform from which to cast powerful spells."
“Games Workshop” seem to divide opinion like no other, although I am not always sure why. The company has made significant strides in 2017 to engage with the community and I feel it has changed for the better; albeit their technically impressive kits are not always the easiest to paint. Having faced this fiendish creation while battling in the’ Mortal Realms’ I can confirm it is quite annoying when the Balewind Vortex is conjured into existence. However, it’s always a delight to look at because of how well painted it is. It’s made of several contrasting elements such as the magical vortex and the platforms made of various materials such as stone, metal and bone. All of these are done to a high standard: the vortex looks magical when you see it and the stone elements of the platform just look brilliant. Time and effort clearly went into this and it shows.

Well that concludes the top ten and the reasons behind them. Happy New Year to all the readers of “Fantorical”.

Friday, 29 December 2017

"We Didn't Leave Earth To Be Safe."

"Seal all inner doors! Mother, any additional ammo on board?"
These three 32mm scale resin "Prodos Games" miniatures of H.R. Giger's Aliens are from the company's "Alien Verses Predator: The Hunt Begins" board game, but can also be purchased separately as AVP Alien Infants. Each model comes in a number of separate pieces so as to provide numerous different poses, and resultantly caused me a little head-scratching as to which way their wonderfully-detailed tails should be attached.

The "hostile, deadly and numerous" extra-terrestrials have their tail spines protruding out of the top of their lethal appendages according to the photograph of the company's officially painted models, and this seems to fit with the motion picture versions too. However, I have also seen numerous versions of the kit where the tail has been super-glued the other way round too; a position which seems to be particularly popular with those hobbyists wanting to have the tail rearing up from behind the Alien like some sort of stabbing venomous serpent.
"What happened here?"
In the end I went with the second option, as I actually felt the resin pieces themselves literally bent far more favourably with the spines pointing down. Although even this 'safe option' didn't stop one tail from snapping in half when I was trying to re-position it in order to ensure my future handling of the figure on the tabletop was more manageable. Indeed, with hindsight I believe that one of the reasons I may well have held back from painting these miniatures for so very long was due to my concern over (mis)handling them...

I initially gave the Alien Infants an undercoat of "Citadel" Abaddon Black before simply dry-brushing each model with "Vallejo" German Grey. The Stalkers were then washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil before I applied a second, significantly lighter dry-brush of "Vallejo" German Grey over the figures' more prominently raised surfaces. Each mouth was painted using a combination of "Vallejo" Gunmetal Grey and "Citadel" Nuln Oil, whilst their head carapaces were treated to a final thick coat of Abaddon Black.
Dungeon Wall Tile WIPs - The 3D printed piece has been primed, washed and dry-brushed
Having previously painted several "Horrorclix" versions of this iconic monster, it is clear that the "Prodos Games" sculpts are infinitely superior, if not a little less robust. This has meant that despite my application of the same recipe the "Vallejo" German Grey appears far more visible to the naked eye than it does upon the "Wizkids"models; presumably because there are significantly more ridges on the newer miniatures for the pigment to sit upon.

Lastly, on the sound recommendation of PulpCitizen ("Eclectic Gentleman Tabletop Gamer"), I have purchased a large room's worth of "Dragonlock" 3D-printed tiles from the Ebay seller "3D Horizons". These somewhat hefty 'plastic' pieces are apparently sold "under agreement from Fat Dragon Games" and will hopefully form the start of an entire dungeonscape to rival that of any produced by "Dwarven Forge" and at a significantly cheaper price; albeit I obviously have to paint my own parts up...

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

"We Found And Destroyed The Enemy."

"Ogrons. They're a form of higher anthropoid."
These 35mm tall "pewter" models of three Ogrons are manufactured by “Warlord Games” and are designed for use with the Nottingham-based company's "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" miniatures game. Living "in scattered communities on an unnamed planet on the outer fringes of the Milky Way, far from the central spaceways", these "hired mercenaries" first appeared in the January 1972 BBC television story “Day Of The Daleks”, and were employed as "police officers" in "an alternate 22nd Century".

Originally undercoated using two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, these figures were all heavily dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and had their trousers layered using some Heavy Brown. The "low-intelligence, ape-like hominids" then had their shirt sleeves painted with Iraqi Sand and their belts, straps and wrist bands layered with Heavy Sienna. All of these areas were subsequently washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade.
Tenth Doctor and Daleks WIPs - Early days yet for all three primed miniatures
I then moved on to some of the Ogrons' more fiddly parts, and applied a combination of "Vallejo" Charred Brown and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade to their hair and arms. I also dry-brushed some additional "Vallejo" Charred Brown across each brute's furry face and hands, but washed these facial areas with "Citadel" Nuln Oil in order to darken them quite considerably. Finally, the primate-looking aliens had their disintegrator guns 'picked out' with Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil.

Sticking with "Warlord Games" and their "Into The Time Vortex" miniatures range, I have started work on two more of their plastic Daleks. I've previously already finished a couple of black-headed drones in order to help distinguish them from the all-gold Kaled Mark III Travel Machines I usually field as part of a simple "Dalek Patrol". However, "Warlord Games" have since released the Recruitment Card for the actual "Emperor's Guard", so I now need a third dark-domed Skaro mutant if I want to use a unit specifically "dedicated to protecting the Emperor Dalek at all costs."
Alien Infants WIPs - These large resin extra-terrestrials have been primed and dry-brushed
In addition, I thought I would also make a start on the three Daleks required for the "Cult Of Skaro", as well the "Gale Force Nine" resin Tenth Doctor model I recently got for Christmas. I plan to differentiate my Dalek Thay by pigmenting his fender dark silver, instead of being my usual pure black, and my second David Tennant figure, by giving him a dark brown suit, as opposed to the blue one I've previously painted; thereby perhaps allowing me to use him as the Human-Time Lord Meta-Crisis version.

Lastly, in trying to help clear up my painting space as part of the Partially-Painted Pledge Challenge, I have finally put some "Vallejo" German Grey 'highlights' on three Alien Infants by "Prodos Games". These multi-part resin "Alien Verses Predator" figures have been sat languishing away on my table for close on two years, having been purchased directly from the Warwick-based company's stall at "Salute" 2016 as part of a semi-large pre-show order.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

"I'm Nothing Special. Everyone Has A Day Job."

"I mean, life's not a comic book, right, Doctor?"
This 40mm-tall "pewter" model of the Ghost, as played by actor Justin Chatwin, is produced by “Warlord Games” and forms part of the two-figure strong "The Return Of Doctor Mysterio" boxed set which I recently reviewed for the "Doctor Who News" website. Having mistakenly swallowed the Hazandra instead of medicine in a childhood accident, the masked super-hero teamed up with the Twelfth Doctor against the Harmony Shoal in the 2016 "Doctor Who" Christmas Special and demonstrated that he could fly, had super-strength, super-hearing, and x-ray vision and was a

Initially undercoated with two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, the pyrokinetic's angular armour was roughly dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal,  'highlighted' with Heavy Blue, and later washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil. I then 'picked out' the crime-fighter's chest insignia with a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson, and was going to try and actually 'draw in' the emblem's metallic 'G' which is so visible on the official "Into The Time Vortex" professionally painted miniature.
Jamie McCrimmon WIP - The Highlander has been based and primed, ready for detailing
Unfortunately, I didn't like my chances of making a good job of it, so, fearing I might 'botch-up' my somewhat clean, existing paint-job, I decided to simply leave well enough alone and move on to the Ghost's skin. These small areas were quickly covered using a coat of "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone, a watered-down wash of "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade, and a few additional dabs of (more) "Vallejo Heavy Skintone. Finally, I shaded the super-hero's "Vallejo" Turquoise cape with some "Citadel" Nuln Oil.

Sticking with both "Doctor Who" and Christmas, I was rather pleased to receive "an exclusive miniature of Jamie McCrimmon" for the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" tabletop game as a Yuletide present. This figure is only being sold by Frazer Hines via his "website and at events", and is seemingly sculpted to replicate the mid-eighteenth century Highland Scot during the 1968 eight-parter "The Invasion". Perhaps this metal model's most attractive feature however, was that it came with a personal message from the English born actor wishing me a "Happy Xmas".
First Doctor & Twelfth Doctor WIPs - Both Timelords have been re-based and primed
Similarly exciting for me, has been this year's "Doctor Who" Christmas Special, "Twice Upon A Time". I actually got to see Peter Capaldi's swansong a few days early, due to being asked by the "Doctor Who News" website to write a thousand-word review of the programme, which could then be published just as the show's transmission ended. This activity really got me in the mood to paint up a second Twelfth Doctor and, obviously, the "Gale Force  Nine" version of the "original" Timelord.

Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, I've already 'cut' both resin figures off of their stands, super-glued them onto a couple of 30mm lipped circular bases, and primed them "Citadel" Abaddon Black and "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre respectively. William Hartnell's model strikes me as being especially challenging, on account of his patterned trousers, but, thanks to some incredible hatch-markings actually cut into the resin, I'm hoping a shade and subsequent dry-brush might suffice..?

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Doctor Who: Exterminate! Report: The Daleks Verses The Fisher King - Part Two

"The story so far... Having witnessed the Daleks and Shadow Proclamation creep ever closer to a destructive confrontation, the Fisher King has launched a surprise attack against Skaro's mutants in an attempt to expand his own territory. Momentarily perplexed by the arrival of the alien warlord's (Judoon) Ghosts, an enraged Dalek Sec has watched the ruler of Tivoli successfully steal a number of rare crystals imbued with Vortex Energy. However, having finally exterminated one of the giant alien's incorporeal spectres, the Daleks have finally started to make their superior numbers and firepower count..."

Frustrated at the seeming invincibility of the Fisher King despite his fellow drones' superior weaponry, the Dalek in the northeast corner of the battlefield (once again) attempted to hover over a piece of heavy-duty piping and reach Vortex Node (2). This time the Skaro mutant was successful and collected an additional two Victory Points for his Emperor.

Seeking some semblance of revenge upon the Dalek which had disintegrated one of his ghosts, the ruler of Tivoli aimed his "Very big Gun" and blasted away at the Kaled Mark III Travel Machine. The Fisher King was a considerable distance away, but because he used some "Additional Sensory Input", he was able to "ignore any... rule that make the shot inaccurate" and initially "Shocked" his target.

However, with a growl of satisfaction, the lumbering extra-terrestrial played a "Lucky Hit!" and changed "the result" to a kill. Such smugness quickly evaporated though, as the Dalek made an "Escape Plan" which allowed it to "ignore the Extermination result on one of your characters on a Damage roll." - stalemate... Mindful of his master's orders, the Ghost in the north phased through Vat Alpha and almost reached the Dalek which had so recently collected Vortex Node (2).
Sensing that the fight could well badly turn against him, should one of his drones become an incorporeal ghost, Dalek Sec ordered the "Upgrade: No Mercy!" and activated "all [his] fully operative Daleks... for an additional Shooting sub-phase at the beginning of the Upkeep phase." As the leader of the Cult of Skaro's faction also had the trait "Override", this meant that even those units "affected by Under Fore markers" could "still resolve Shooting actions"; albeit they'd only be "scoring hits on [an Exterminate] instead of [a Shock] due to the effects of being under fire."

Dalek energy blasts scorched into the Fisher King's ungainly figure, and finally the huge alien was "Shocked". The drone beside Dalek Sec cackled evilly and fired at the momentarily prone extra-terrestrial, but incredibly failed to do any more damage than had already been done.

To the northeast, the (Judoon) Ghost attempted to chop apart his Dalek opponent, and would have done so too, if the former commander of the Seventh Incursion Squad hadn't decided to rescue his drone by using a Fate Token. As a result, the puzzled incorporeal spectre simply retreated back an inch...
Dalek Sec hovered over the piping near him and collected Vortex Node (4) and an additional one Victory Point for his faction, whilst another Kaled Mark III Travel Machine joined the drone facing off against the Ghost by Vat Alpha. The rest of the Emperor's forces remained still, waiting to use the full force of their energy blasts upon their hated enemy.

The Fisher King urged his lone incorporeal minion forwards once again, and then strode east towards Dalek Sec using some heavy piping to partially protect his right flank. Three Daleks blasted away at him, and the ruler of Tivoli was forced to use one of his (two) Fate Tokens to resist their exterminating effects. Another Skaro drone "Shocked" the extra-terrestrial tyrant, but he managed to remain standing by playing "To Arms!" and "immediately" recovering "all Shocked characters" in his faction (i.e. himself).

Unfortunately for the towering alien, Dalek Sec then fired at him, using the Dalek Leader's +3 to Shoot statistic to full advantage. The sizzling beam would have badly wounded the Fisher King if he hadn't spent the last of his Fate Tokens to avoid its blast. Unfortunately, its use though also meant that the fearsome dictator was unable to save his (Judoon) Ghost from being atomised by a Dalek's "Full Blast" just moments later.
The Fisher King was on his own, and could only helplessly watch as a drone slid south to join Dalek Sec's side in the very heart of the battlefield. With an angry roar the ruler of Tivoli blazed away at the all-black armoured Dalek Leader, sensationally managing to "Shock" him, despite the Kaled Mark III Travel Machine's four Armour rolls. The leader of the Cult of Skaro admittedly quickly 'righted' himself, but had been moderately impaired as a result of an Under Fire Token.

With all their attention now firmly fixed upon the somewhat slow, lumbering alien tyrant, the Daleks simply fanned out their formation a little in order to try and encircle their foe. As a result, the drone in the north which had dispatched the Fisher King's final Ghost travelled west alongside Vat Alpha, whilst the Skaro mutant by Vat Omega trundled so far north that only some piping separated him from his opponent's formidable form. the rest of the Daleks remained stationary, hoping to once again use their "Full Blast" upon their hated enemy.

Realising that retreat was undoubtedly the better part of valour in the circumstances, the ruler of Tivoli headed north towards the blue container and away from Dalek Sec's central killing zone. However, the Dalek behind him, by the blue-stained heavy duty piping, was still within range, even though the shot was "considered inaccurate with a -1 penalty." The blast initially just "Shocked" the Fisher King, but then went on to "Wound" him when the former commander of the Seventh Incursion Squad ordered the "Upgrade: Maximum Extermination" and turned "any one Shocked result on a Damage roll into an Extermination instead."
It was clear that although injured, their foe was still clearly capable of being a serious threat, so the Dalek by Vat Alpha also fired upon the Fisher King, and managed to achieve a (second) "Exterminate" result. The ruler of Tivol was still alive, able to survive "Wounds [4]" before he would fatally fall, but he couldn't take such consistent punishment for long. He needed to create a distraction, and that meant "capturing the life energies of enemies" and converting them "into incorporeal ghost-like minions."

The alien tyrant raised his "Very Big Gun" at the drone in front of him and fired. The Kaled Mark III Travel Machine glowed hotly, but was only "Shocked". It would quickly recover and meanwhile the rest of the Daleks would soon have the ailing Fisher King encircled... Plus, Dalek Sec's faction still owned two Fate Tokens with which they could "save" any drone he "Exterminated". Clearly it was time to return to "the most conquered planet in the galaxy" and lick his wounds.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

"You Stay There, K-9. You're In Charge."

"Affirmative Master."
This 15mm-tall resin model of K-9, is produced by “Gale Force Nine” and is currently available for free when “you buy all six doctors” in the “Warlord Games” “fantastic multi-buy set!”; a deal which includes the First, Fourth and Tenth Doctors, as well as the Fifth, Eleventh and Twelfth. Never “intended to be a recurring character”, the robot dog was created by Bob Baker and Dave Martin for the October 1977 “Doctor Who” adventure “The Invisible Enemy”, and later went on to become the central character in no less than “three of the series’ television spin-offs.”

“One of the doctors most loyal companions”, the figure had to initially be somewhat delicately pried off its stand's rectangular-shaped peg, in order to be permanently affixed to a 28mm lipped circular base. He was then primed with “Vallejo” Heavy Charcoal, washed with “Citadel” Nuln Oil and subsequently dry-brushed with more “Vallejo” Heavy Charcoal.
Ogron WIPs - The hulking mercenaries have been layered using various "Vallejo" brown paints
With the basic layering now completed on Professor Marius’ invention, I ‘picked out’ his tracking sensors (ears), side insignia, radio signal booster antenna (tail) and dog tag with some “Citadel” Ironbreaker, and computer visual display unit using a dab of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey. I also coated K-9's servo-mechanism for articulating his neck through the vertical plane with some “Citadel” Abaddon Black and shaded all of these aforementioned areas with Nuln Oil.

As a final stage I painted the radio-controlled companion’s retractable data-com probe and visual orientation circuits with “Vallejo” Heavy Red and washed them “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson. I did consider whether to try and ‘highlight’ some of the buttons and switches on his operator’s console for manual programming, but felt that as the minute detail appeared so fiddly, it was probably beyond my skill with a paint-brush (or at least mental sanity) to try ‘spotting’ the odd red button here and there.
Ogron WIPs - The aliens will be shaded using "Citadel" Nuln Oil & "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade
Impressively, despite this "Scientific Genius" being a "freebie" manufactured by a 'rival' company, "Warlord Games" have still released his PDF rules for "Doctor Who: Exterminate!", and a fearsome travelling companion the diminutive robotic dog makes too; armed with both a Laser Scalpel and Muzzle-mounted Shock Wand. Indeed, the "Good Dog" can not only transfer any wound upon himself if he is "within 6 inches of The Doctor or a Companion", but can also form part of the Timelord's crew without counting towards the faction's Recruitment Card total, if he is instead 'called' by the Adventure Card, "K-9 Whistle".

Having been lucky enough to watch a preview showing of the "Doctor Who" Christmas Special, "Twice Upon A Time", I have perhaps unsurprisingly turned all of my hobbying attention towards "Warlord Games" "Into The Time Vortex" range, and made good progress on half a dozen Ogrons. These hired mercenaries of the Daleks have momentarily proved a little puzzling to paint on account of their rather dark and dour palette. However, I've now settled upon a seemingly suitable concoction of brown paints and shades, and am thus carefully making my way through their belts, straps, holsters and hairy arms...

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

"We Have Ruled Your Lives Since Your Lives Began."

"You should kill us all on sight."
These "finely-sculpted" and 40mm tall "pewter" models of three Silents are produced by “Warlord Games” and are designed for use with the Nottingham-based company's "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" miniatures game. Genetically engineered to be the confessional priests of the Church of the Silence, these mouthless creatures first appeared in the 2011 BBC television story “The Impossible Astronaut”, and were "capable of obliterating enemies by absorbing electrical energy from the air and discharging it from their hands at a vastly more potent level."

Initially primed with a double coat of "Citadel" Chaos Black, these miniatures were all heavily dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and then washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil. Two of the bony-faced humanoids had their discoloured shirts 'picked out' with a combination of "Vallejo" Iraqi Sand and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. Whilst the third figure had his arms slightly repositioned (through careful bending) and his collar painted in "Vallejo" Verdigris and "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade in order to mark him out as the faction's Leader.
"But you will never remember. We weren't even here. Your will is ours!"
All of these members of the "religious order created by Tasha Lem" had their ties re-painted with "Citadel" Abaddon Black and their pinkish skin pigmented with "Vallejo" Heavy Warmgrey and some watered-down "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade. These areas of flesh were then highlighted with some additional "Vallejo" Heavy Warmgrey, before receiving a final wash of "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade in order to 'blend' the pigments together and create some extra shadowing.

In the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" game the faction certainly have some interesting special Traits, such as "Hard To Hit", which means that "all shots against a character... count as inaccurate", "Sneaky", which means that a Silent Veteran "may always claim cover even if in the open", and "Forgettable", which can allow one of Madame Kovarian's allies to "double its range if its not in the line of sight of an enemy character." In addition, the Silence's Adventure cards, such "Hypnosis", which gives you control of an enemy miniature "within 6" of one of your Silent characters" can really throw off an opponent's assault, whilst allowing the aliens to release the fearsome might of their "Electrical Discharges."
"Space Vixens From Mars" WIPs - Uhura, Mathews, Rand and Rayburn
Rather embarrassingly, I began work on these four “Space Vixens From Mars” miniatures some eighteen months ago, and never got past undercoating them. The 28mm metal figures are actually the first of several 'Federation' sculpts from the manufacturer's 'Personalities of SVfM' range that I began painting up as proxies for a “Star Trek” campaign, but were then sidelined on account of their uniform's elaborate and fussy chest insignia.

At the time I did try cutting the medals and war ribbons off with a sharp modelling knife and priming over the top of them with "Vallejo" Heavy Red. However, this then left each figure with a distinctly flat and noticeable area on their chest, which I have only now managed to 'grind' away to my satisfaction (having bought a set of small metal files).

Sunday, 17 December 2017

"This Is The Captain Of The Enterprise."

"We come in peace. Shoot to kill."
This 32mm scale "soft resin" model of James Tiberius Kirk is manufactured by “​Modiphius Entertainment” and was supposedly only made available to those signing up for the official "Star Trek Adventures" play-test at the London-based company's stands whilst they were at "GenCon, Essen Spiele and Dragonmeet." Fortunately, I was able to acquire one at  last year's "Warfare" in Reading, when I happened upon their stall and realised that they still owned a few 'castings' of the Constitution-Class Starship Captain. Needless to say, as a major fan of "Star Trek: The Original Series", I didn't hesitate for a second to 'bag' Jim, despite “​Modiphius Entertainment” still having some Jean-Luc Picards on hand as well.

Because the single-piece figure stood upon a moulded circular base, I had to cut Kirk's stand down in order to accommodate it upon a 28mm lipped plastic base before I primed him with  "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre and "Citadel" Abaddon Black. I then 'picked out' the officer's famous chest insignia with a combination of "Vallejo" Gold and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, and momentarily contemplated doing the same with the Captain's rank insignia on his sleeves.
The Silence WIPs - The "confessional priests" just need some washes to be applied
Unfortunately, despite being very-well proportioned, the detail on the sculpt is extremely fine and thus requires a far steadier hand than I in order to 'highlight' such an intricate ridge pattern with a paint-brush; especially using my 'tried and trusted' black lining technique. In the end therefore, I settled on simply washing James' shirt with some watered down "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade, and caused the "Games Workshop" Shade to pool somewhat more in the area of his braiding.

Kirk's phaser was painted using some Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil, whilst his hair was treated to a layer of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and a splash of "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. “​Interestingly, "Modiphius Entertainment” have stated that this particular model will be made available "as part of various sets", but, having bought their Star Trek Adventures Miniatures: The Original Series Bridge Crew, there's a disappointingly clear 'chunkiness' difference between this lean free pre-release figure and that of the regular beefier version.
Professor Yana and Chantho WIP - Early days yet for this pair of Malcassairo-based scientists
Sticking with science fiction, I have made some more progress on a trio of "Warlord Games" Silents I need so as to be able to field a three Recruitment Card faction of the religious order for the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" officially licensed desktop miniatures game. I've actually stepped outside the "confessional priests" canon colour-scheme by providing their "Unique" Leader with a blue shirt, and thereby making him 'stand out' on the battlefield a little bit more...

Finally, having bought the recently-released "The War Master - Only The Good" audio boxed set by "Big Finish", I've also based and primed the two "Into The Time Vortex" miniatures from the Nottingham-based company's "Professor Yana and Chantho" expansion. This particular sculpt of the Master's (good) alter-ego has taken some criticism on fan forums for its soft detail, but I'm hoping I'll be able to persevere and get him (and his companion) up to table-top standard.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Doctor Who: Exterminate! Report: The Daleks Verses The Fisher King

This game was played using the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" rules by “Warlord Games” and in essence, followed the parameters established for the "Guide To The Time Vortex" skirmish scenario "A Meeting Of Metal". However, in order to allow both sides to get to grips with the Fisher King faction's unique Special Traits, a couple of minor 'House Rules' were also followed concerning Fate Tokens and Adventure Cards. Whilst Battle Cards were not used at all. Lastly, a few 'tweaks' regarding General Deployment and Winning The Game' were necessary so the battle could be accommodated upon a 2' x 2' gaming mat instead of the recommended 3' x 3' table...

“The story so far… The Daleks, Cybermen and Zygons have decided to try and establish their dominance over the Universe once and for all, by conquering numerous planets, moons, stars, and galaxies in an effort to be declared the undisputed master of all space and time. Determined to thwart their plans however, is the Shadow Proclamation; whose mercenary police force, the Judoon, have begun retaking space-time in the name of galactic justice..."
"The campaign so far... Having witnessed the Daleks and Shadow Proclamation creep ever closer to a destructive confrontation, the Fisher King has decided to launch a surprise attack against Skaro's mutants in an attempt to expand his own territory. Landing upon one of the Dalek Empire's occupied worlds, the alien warlord has dispatched his (Judoon) Ghosts to collect a number of rare crystals imbued with Vortex Energy, which will allow him to harness the very power of the Time Vortex and dominate the planet. But the Dalek Emperor isn't about to give up the planet's valuable resources without a fight, and orders Dalek Sec to intercept the ruler of Tivoli and his incorporeal minions..."

The Dalek Faction consisted of three Recruitment Cards, thus started with a Patrol Leader (Dalek Sec), a Dalek Patrol which generated three Daleks, and another Dalek Patrol which generated two Daleks and a Fate Token. In addition, the Patrol Leader, a special character, also created two Fate tokens to be added to his faction's Fate Pool. Finally, the Daleks received five Adventure Cards "to use during their game." These were "Escape Plan", "Upgrade: No Mercy!", "Upgrade: Destroy The Deviant!", "Upgrade: Maximum Extermination" and "Strategist".
The Fisher King began with just himself on account of the "One Man Army" trait, which means he "can be the only Recruitment Card you take." However, in addition to generating two Fate Tokens, the conqueror of Tivoli was also allowed to field two Ghosts within 6" of him because of the "Ghosts" Adventure Card. As with the Daleks, the Fisher King received five Adventure Cards, the rest of which were "Lucky Hit!", "Additional Sensory Input", "To Arms!" and "Spatial Distortion."

Having deployed on opposing table corners, and placed six Vortex Node markers on the battlefield, the Fisher King immediately played his Adventure Card "Spatial Distortion", which when discarded "just after deployment", allowed him to "move any two Vortex Nodes up to 4" from their original position." As a result, Vortex Nodes (3) and (5) suddenly tumbled north-east towards the alien tyrant's starting position.
Realising that his towering opponent had already gained a distinct advantage over him, Dalek Sec immediately glided north towards Vortex Node (4) along with three drones. The remaining Kaled travel machines moved west, past the grey container, and captured Vortex Node (6). Davros' creations discovered that the "great resource" would not only provide the Daleks with three Victory Points, but because the node was a temporal anomaly, it would also grant them an opportunity to "immediately resolve a free Shooting action." Unfortunately for Skaro's mutants however, no target was within sight.

Waving his incorporeal minions forwards, one of the Fisher King's Ghosts moved straight through the blue container by Vortex Node (1), whilst its spectral companion and the alien tyrant travelled south.
As there was to be no Shooting on this occasion, the Daleks started to fan out even more, with two drones heading north towards the piping and sight of Vortex Node (2), Dalek Sec and a drone moving west towards Vortex Node (4), and the remaining two Kaled travelling machines gliding west along the southern edge of Vat Omega.

In response, the Ghost which had phased through the blue container collected Vortex Node (1) and gained a single Victory Point. Whereas its counterpart reached the previously displaced Vortex Node (3) and attained three Victory Points. In addition this particular node was a Spatial Disruption, which permitted the axe-carrying spectre to travel further south towards Pylon Beta and ever closer to Vortex Node (5).
With their battle computer calculating that the Kaleds were slowly losing the 'race' for the Vortex Nodes, the two Daleks south of Vat Omega moved further west towards Vortex Node (5) and obtained a good view of the fast approaching Ghost. To the north-east, the two golden-armoured drones attempted to hover over the heavy piping before them, but only one of them succeeded. Dalek Sec attempted a similar manoeuvre in order to capture Vortex Node (4). He also failed. The final drone glided up alongside the leader of the Cult of Skaro, and trained his blaster upon one of the Fisher King's incorporeal minions.

The Ghost by the blue container moved further east towards Vat Alpha, whilst the Fisher King clomped south and stood in front of a 'wall' of radioactive barrels. The alien tyrant's other Ghost reached Vortex Node (5) and was awarded with one Victory Point. It was also given the opportunity to have a free shot at one of the nearby Daleks, but could not as "Ghosts cannot used Ranged Weapons".
Eager to finally put the invading spectres in their place, the Dalek in the south-west corner which was closest to the apparition that had just taken Vortex node (5) fired his energy weapon, and as a result of three hits, exterminated his prey. The drone beside him then targeted the more distant Fisher King, resulting in the weapon receiving a -1 penalty due to the ruler of Tivoli being twice its effective range. The Dalek was unable to penetrate the towering alien's six defensive dice.

To the east, Dalek Sec and the drone alongside him also fired at the alien tyrant. But the Fisher King benefited from some additional cover, courtesy of the heavy piping near him, and none of the shots struck home. Ordinarily though, the "One Man Army" would still have been 'weakened' by some Under Fire Tokens. However, because he was also "Fearless", the Fisher King ignored "the effects of [any] Under Fire markers" as well.    

Dum Da Dum, Diddly Dum, Oo-ee-oos… 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

"I'm The Doctor. I've Lived For Over 2,000 Years."

"I've made made many mistakes, and it's about time that I did something about that."
This 38mm-tall "pewter" model of the Twelfth Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi, is produced by “Warlord Games” and forms part of the five-miniature strong "Twelfth Doctor And Companions" boxed set. "A lifelong fan of the series", the Scottish actor had previously played Lobus Caecilius in the 2008 episode "The Fires of Pompeii", and made his (official) debut as the travelling Time Lord in the December 2013 BBC television story "The Time of the Doctor".

Originally primed with two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, the Gallifreyan's trousers, waistcoat, sonic shades and guitar strap were dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and then washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil. His electric guitar,  apparently "a limited edition 1966 Epiphone SG-400 Pro with the addition of a Bigsby Vibrato" was painted using a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson.
Ogrons WIPs - The "ape-like hominids" have had their trousers blocked in with "Vallejo" Heavy Brown
The time traveller's collar was simply 'picked out' with a sliver of "Vallejo" Dead White and a dab of Pale Grey. Whilst his greying hair was initially layered with Heavy Bluegrey, washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil, and then dry-brushed with both (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey and Dead White. As a final touch, I added some additional "Citadel Black" to his boots and coat in order to help them slightly contrast with the Timelord's off-black trousers and waistcoat; a somewhat controversial colour choice considering that the official "Warlord Games" palette provided him with an all-red jacket, whereas the actual televised costume contained a slightly visible dark red inner lining.

To be honest I'm in two minds about this particular sculpt of the Doctor. It's clearly based upon ‘The Hybrid will stand in the ruins of Gallifrey…’ BBC publicity poster for the December 2015 story "Hell Bent", and resultantly, does a very good job of conveying Capaldi's grim-faced determination to outwit the machinations of Rassilon and the High Council. But, its also been criticised by others for being far too sedentary for a war-gaming figure, with the "Gale Force Nine" resin alternative version proving to be infinitely more dynamic a pose. Personally, having now spent some considerable time handling the figure, I rather like the pose and simply dislike the fictitious character's guitar and (arguably contentious) sonic shades...
"Victrix Limited" French Fusilier WIPs - The soldier is slowly having all his straps 'picked out'
Momentarily sticking with the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" miniatures game by "Warlord Games", I have made some slow-going in-roads on the half dozen Ogrons I started working on over three months ago. These "low-intelligence, ape-like hominids" have yet to have their Recruitment and Adventure Cards published as a PDF on the "Into The Time Vortex" website, but have now languished on my painting table for long enough and should help push along my Partially-Painted Pledge Challenge personal tally once completed.

Likewise, I am determined to bring an end to the outstanding single Napoleonic French fusilier I need to finish in order field a fifth infantry stand for Bob Cordery's "The Portable Wargame" rule-set. This particular 28mm multi-pose plastic soldier is actually proving a rather enjoyable painting subject, as I increasingly become familiar with Bonaparte's undoubtedly detailed uniform and (hopefully) improving my eye for all its straps, cuffs and pouches.