Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Top Ten Models.... according to me: #6 Big Boss

I must admit that I dithered on this selection for a good, long while. I remained uncertain in large part because he is posed in one rather solid block of a lump; his posture is not exactly dynamic, and thus he might seem to contradict quite a lot of what I had argued for in my selections 7 and 8. Indeed, this Big Boss is about as straightforward as a modern HQ model will come.

Still, there are some redeeming moments with regard to the aforementioned design elements; for example, the wind that catches his tabard and the fur above him pulls the eye toward the Klaw, while the tubes into his arm and connecting wires push the eye back into the body of the model. And yet, the right arm and the head create an entirely new axis that have the potential to stunt the design effects that I am trying to describe. At the end of the day, the effect is neither as potent nor as subtle as what we saw with the Haemunculus, but then… he’s an ork.

Well. Never mind all that. Here is why I believe this model has earned his spot on the top ten models.

He is amazing. If the pose is reasonably lumpy, and the design straightforward, he compensates adequately in three simple categories.

1. The model is ferocious and imposing. He genuinely lives up to the orkish script. I am not one to “waaagh.” Ever. Nothing against those who do, mind you, it is just not in my nature. This model, however, is the closest I will ever come.

2. He is positively loaded with details that make the above true. Look again at that Klaw…  at that Boss Pole… at his buckle… at the pair of shotguns on his back. That is great stuff. There is quite a lot of visual complexity (if not design complexity), and this rewards the painter of any level. The better  you are, the more you can pick out. etc. Look, for example, at the way the shotgun handle interacts with the hair above. Clever stuff.

3. He is plastic. If one desires, this otherwise bulky model is ready to be chopped and glued and treated to all kinds of conversion goodness. Consider this level of detail in relation both to the ancient plastics that I discussed in the honorable mention, as well as in comparison to item 2 above. This model brings a new measure to what can be accomplished with plastic. In my humble opinion, that is tremendous news. More plastic, I say. More.

Monday, June 27, 2011

FAARIS IV: Campaign Glory

++edit: for some reason beyond my abilities to comprehend, the first efforts with these links had been re-routed by google translator. I have, therefore, reattached new links to the Italian original. If, by chance, you don't speak Italian, you will need to click on the English Version tab at the right (and adjust if/as appropriate). After that, Bob's your uncle.++

Perhaps the greatest single characteristic of this whole blogging business (in my humble opinion) must be the manner in which the blogosphere intersects a genuinely stunning array of talent from across the planet.
find out how to organize and register a campaign game with your friends
I can think of no better example of this particular characteristic than Grande Maestro. He is an Italian blogger (though you can read his blog with the help of google translate –and I have take the liberty of doing so in these links) and he is a talent extraordinaire.  Some of you might remember that I mentioned his very cool, very beautiful PWORK in a post from some time ago.

sign up and play the new campaign for WH40K and BFG
The real matter here, however, is the FAARIS IV campaign that the one and only Grand Master has recently launched. This is only the latest in a series that he has assembled over the years, but this most recent campaign has unquestionably reached new levels of class, beauty, and sophistication. Again, check out the campaign here. At the present, it is designed largely as a “national” campaign; having said that, this kind of excellence deserves global attention …and perhaps participation if you are willing and able. Certainly, I would encourage you to do so. A greater network can only make this event more and more and more dynamic.

I should also mention that, in a lovely bit of inter-connectivity, the PWORK also supports this FAARIS IV campaign. Check out the downloads here.

Just beautiful. How about that blogosphere. How about that. Enjoy. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

HoA: Table Progress (3)


So. The idea has been to pre-paint as much as possible before even cutting the lumber for the progress of the tables. While in some respects, this approach has stalled our momentum before it even started, and otherwise directed significant attention to pieces that may end up either on the floor or underneath more pressing details, the disposition stems largely from the lessons we learned creating the AdpetiCon tables back in March. Namely, early attention pays off in spades later.

Last time, we found that quite a few hard-to-reach places became bothersome, sloppy, and, indeed, quite irritating when we had to approach them after assembly. Moreover, every single cut of the saw pushed those details further and further from our control.

Resolved to sort finicky details before thy got on top of us, I tried a little experiment and pushed Winsor&Newton’s water colour Masking Fluid well beyond its intended parameters. First, I was absolutely not using appropriate water colors. I was (am) using house paint. This was a gamble, as the paint was likely to overpower the masking fluid and simply lock the intended detailing underneath my paint. At this early stage, I had nothing to lose with an experiment.

So I generously dabbed the fluid across the rusted areas on the one-by that I intended to have poking through.  I left that to dry and got straight to work one masking phase two.

I have also learned that painting yellow over black is a bit of a mare. I reversed the idea this time and stripped the pre-painted and textured yellow basement floor level with 1” masking tape across two tables (actually three now).  

When that was set, I blanched the one-by with a pale whitish-bluish color (left over from babyzilla –aka “the love blob”-’s room –not to be confused with boyzilla who is still at large), and blacked over my yellow efforts. This is always a rather tense moment as quite a lot can go wrong.

For example, the black and pale bluish both looked a bit too… I don’t know really, solid. So I textured each a bit with brown and some of the bluish color mixed into the black. I was working quickly to remedy an apparent problem and, admittedly, it looks quite horrible (and bright) here. 

I took a few deep breaths, reminded myself to have both patience and faith in the process, and then began to peel back the masking tape, as well as the Winsor&Newton. The tape came up fine and a touch of further weathering with the brown has pulled the whole this round quite nicely, if I may say so.

The masking fluid was a bit of a chore to pull up from underneath that house paint, but hard work builds character ...they tell me.

And so we have quite a lot of wall material and quite a lot of floor space that will, inevitably, be covered as they are both meant to represent some of the space belowhive in this mad caper. These final two photos from the day suggest how the wall and flooring might look -although there is some significant amount of weathering and of other detailing before we will call these finished and done.

As before, I would like to end this post with a few more photos from around the neighborhood, all which have helped get me thinking about how this monster could and should look.

This first section is all about the vivid hues of rust as well as the way in which a city can layer itself (even one as lamentably flat as Chicago –apart from the obvious skyscrapers). I intend to recreate, at least in some manner, the bridge, walkway, and stairs combination at several points on the table, as well as the grated flooring with glimpses of what rests below (still give me the geebies when I walk over those things). Finally, rusted stairs -vivid, inspiring, if not exactly comforting.

The second batch here stems from the contrast and layering of green paint and rust, which I hope to evoke in the “above ground” spaces in the hive. 

And finally, yet another bit of trivia and local lore. While searching for green and rust, I ambled once more past this notorious building about a mile from my own doorstep. Former owners of this site have claimed that on February 14 1929, the green frontage was a single garage that acted as the site of Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Other, perhaps more reputable and/or accurate, sources claim that the original garage was demolished in 1967 and that the massacre took place in what is now the front steps of a nursing home… 

If the story is not true, it should be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wargames Illustrated: Love

Well how about that for a pleasant surprise!

Since some foggy time lost in the mid-early 80’s, I dreamed of having my work appear amongst the images that I stared and stared and stared at each month in a certain hobby publication. Admittedly, I had long since placed that dream snugly upon the shelf, and left it there among others, almost forgotten, certainly abandoned.

…and then Wargames Illustrated (the world's premier tabletop gaming magazine -not hyperbole) issue 285 arrived in my mailbox this afternoon.

I am chuffed beyond reckoning. Thanks Signor Taylor and company. You have made a 38 year-old boy’s dream come true. 

As it turns out, the mention of Special Operations: Killzone is rather timely, as we are currently adding some much-needed polish to the Killzone experience and hope to have a new release of the basic rules, the mission mechanism, and the codex errata quite soon. Keep an eye on Big Jim’s site for more.

Saturday, June 18, 2011



Alas. I will never paint these tiny morsels of OOP menace, and I would prefer that they find a decent, respectable home rather than wallow underneath my sofa for perpetuity.

I cannot be bothered with ebay. Please accept my apologies if this decision inconveniences anyone. Still, I am quite keen to relinquish the ownership of this motley assembly of OOP Chaos Dwarfs plus a few more items that merit relinquishing; I presume that somehow, somewhere out there an interested party lurks. 

Here is how this will work.

-I have identified five bundles of differing miniatures below. Please email me if you are interested in acquiring any/all of these five bundles. I will be checking the internets consistently today in order to make arrangements with potential buyers. First come. First Serve. I will update the site as the bundles go.

-Paypal is the only option. I will ship the models immediately after proper correspondence and payment has been received.

-The price I have quoted includes shipping, presuming that you do not live in the Antarctic or somewhere similar that would clobber me for shipping (if so, we can either split the headache or come to some modest arrangement, I am certain). Otherwise, the price is non-negotiable. I would prefer a straight purchase and will unashamedly favor potential buyers who agree. I believe the prices that I have suggested are both fair and compelling.

-The models will come to you as you see here, though I have heightened the contrast in the photos so that you might get a better peak. I am unwilling to mix-and-match bundles for convenience sake (namely, my own). What you see is what you get.

-Having said that, if you buy it all, I will absolutely slap in a few outstanding extras that didn’t make this cut.

Here is what is on offer:

SOLD  OOP CHAOS DWARFS (35 models in all):
A quick internet search tells me that similar models are being sold from anywhere between 2.00-7.00 USD as an opening bid and without shipping included. You are extremely unlikely to find a similarly massive bundle anywhere; those aforementioned models are going one by one (what hassle), which means assembling a group this size would take years ...and potentially something like 275.00+ USD. Here, you are basically looking at 3.00 USDper.

These are slightly mismatched but also extraordinarily rare to see in such numbers. Have at you.

That is notably less than half price to you and me.

The current plastic equivalents look worse and are going for five dollars more with five models less in the equation. I studied English Literature, but that looks like good mathematics to me.

OOP Runesmith, Whatever His Name Is from the very old Regiments of Renown, the Female Dwarf, that other Dude with his Pipe... In my opinion, this is the best deal of the day. There are some randoms, to be sure, but the rarities in here compensate adequately (she is second in from bottom right)… and the price will not be beat. I promise.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

HoA: Table Progress (2)

Last time I mentioned some drawings, and suggested that these were an integral part of the build process. To be fair, most of these drawings simply do not merit photographing, as they would appear little but a collection of scribbles with more scribbles layered over the first; the were created in an effort whose singular matter is to make sense for yours truly; however, this project is its own beast, and I have found myself in a press to sort through the rubbish in a more practical manner.

Namely, the sequence of construction has been the main monster here. Each part of this puzzle reaches to differing heights, and we have had to take some considerable time to think through the actual process of the construction –in part because I wanted to be certain that each step would make the previous one harder if not impossible both to amend and/or to correct, and in part because the manner in which each table must work independently of the others, with its neighbor in order to create a 6x4 table, and with the adjoining pair in order to create the 8x6 table. It was all making my head swim a bit.

Enter translucent vellum.

I placed the first layer of vellum over my chickenscratch and sorted out the base level. I was then able to add a layer of vellum for each current layer of the table (3), and thereby isolate each of the elements. This, by the by, has helped the long-suffering Tall Paul visualize what on god’s green earth I have been banging on about these last weeks.

This time round, we have to get it right from the ground (or rather from below ground) up. So the first drawing represents the wall sections (mostly, but also a bit more) that will be “belowhive.” This space will be playable to varying degrees on all four individual tables, and is intended to invoke the city upon city upon city of the hive structure, which rightfully extends outward to the very foothills. It will be derelict and rusted.

The second layer (the image above and right) offers the major parts of the build from just above ground level and upward. As might just be able to imagine, the city primarily lifts on the SW corner of this particular table, suggesting that strong vertical leap common to almost all hive images I have found. By contrast, the NE corner and environs is meant to leave space for those all-important industrial wasteland areas so fundamental to Armageddon itself while still hinting at development and abandonment.

The final layer of vellum does not show much really, but leaves me some space to think about how and where this table will reach its apex. To be candid, I need to see the height and feel the weight of these first three basic levels before reaching higher on this table.

The final images here show a bit of visual research that I have been collecting on my newfangled phone while walking in the city; it never ceases to amaze how much inspiration lays around town waiting for me to notice.   

The first two photos were taken above one of the seedier blues bars in the neighborhood, which seems oddly appropriate. The real interest, to my way of thinking at least, is the manner in which the blue-gray color offsets the rusted elements breaking through underneath.

The second two photos show smaller details, but again with the same contrasting rust. The utilities cover makes another nice contrast while the random rusted pipe cannot possibly be up to code. I hope to invoke both across the industrial hive grit.

The final photos are of the “L” train near my house. There are several elements here that I want to translate onto Armageddon: the rust (naturally), the layering of transit above ground (with workable space above and below), and the rhythmic and skeletal complexity of that structure.

I have several more sets of “visual research” photos from around the neighborhood, each of which will be featured and discussed in some manner. Moreover, keep an eye for next post when I show the pre-assembly painting progress on the belowhive areas, and the aforementioned rusted decay.

Also, I strongly urge you to contribute to the Heroes of Armageddon project, and thereby to Doctors Without Borders, until it hurts.

[and now for the second installment of Chicago trivia on this blog: Chicago’s L train earned its name because it is “elevated,” though some will argue the same because it is “electric.” Obviously, I am in the first camp. That concludes the trivia portion of this post.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

WarmaHordes: Menoth progress (p.3)

So here is the growing gang of zealots all together.

As mentioned, Kreoss is (and will be) my go-to Caster until I actually figure the game out a bit more handily. To bolster his end of the equation, I have purchased some more Menoth plastics… but not those of the Jack variety. No points for guessing. These fellows will be painted in the current Kreoss fashions, and I am genuinely excited just to get them together –which reminds me a bit of how I felt when I first got into this hobby a good while ago.

More on the new plastics soon... along with a Bronze recipe in the mix.

The Choir, as I see it, will work splendidly with either Caster –well, perhaps not splendidly in my hands, but well enough.

As for Raza, he will get a touch more work from the brushes and then take his rightful knee on the sidelines until I get myself sorted in this game. I do not expect that his end of the faction will get any more attention in the near term, but expect that a Vassal of some description will find a way into the Razian force eventually.

Finally, with the second plastic starter kit, I have another Kreoss in the wings. I have been toying with the idea of really sitting down and taking my time with this model –trying to paint a bit more slowly and certainly more deliberately and with the utmost of my ability. It has been quite some time since I really, genuinely made that effort. Genuinely. Without doubt, the model deserves it and, well, he has little else to do on my shelf.

We shall see.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

WarmaHordes: Menoth progress (p.2)

As mentioned in the previous post, a few weeks back Joe was kind enough to put me through my paces for my third and fourth game of WarmaHordes. These photos merely display my painting (and photographic) progress while the text talks about those games. On to the good stuff.

Game four: Joe switched gears entirely and gave me a different look with Kromac the Astonishingly Brutal. We also upped the points a bit, which gave me the opportunity to field two Heavy ‘Jacks in one game. That was a lot of responsibility for a novice like myself, and I regret to say it showed.

In fact, I made a remedial and quite critical “facing” error in this game that allowed Joe to sneak furtively around my flank and crush one of my heavies. It is a lesson learned in the only painful manner that would likely make it genuinely stick.

While I did tussle a few Warpborn Skinwalkers in that game and even managed a good stab at Kromac himself with my Repenter (again, loving those Light ‘Jacks), in the end Joe’s Feral Warpwolf charged me down, minced one of my Heavies, cut a path through the Choir that was “shielding” Kreoss, and gutted the unfortunate caster without ceremony or circumstance.

It was certainly one of those, “oh look, you lost” turns that we mentioned from my first posts on the Warmadynamic. So it goes.

Never worry. The day only left me itching for my next bash at it all.

Moreover, I have made some considerable progress in dealing with the PP “plastic” that is not really plastic, and feel quite comfortable with the stuff at this point. The Heavy pictured above, for example, went together with the kind of ease that I have come to expect (demand? have I become that spoiled and/or jaded?) while working with GW plastics.

I wanted these new 'Jacks from my second starter set to look distinctly related to Amon Ad-Raza rather than dually compatible with Amon and Kreoss, and I did this by simply emphasizing the turquoise-ish color in both of the Raza ‘Jacks. I also wanted the Heavy to look distinctly more worn and cranky, as if the old codger had been exposed to the elements with greater regularity than his more righteous twin. Perhaps he got tangled in that flailing chain here or there.

As for Raza, I have not placed him on the tabletop yet (Kreoss still runs the show), but I have enjoyed tremendously the work on him thus far. His skin still needs some smoothing and whatnot (left shoulder, I am looking at you), and there are other details that could be treated with more care and attention (eyes again); still, he is good enough to stand on a tabletop and swing that chain around for a wink. Perhaps someday he will get to do more than just that.