Monthly Archives: April 2016

Showcasing Sam: The Old World

So, after all that talk about greenskins and the world of Warhammer last week I realised I’d never got around to the second half of my little ‘Showcasing Sam’ mini-series. Strap yourselves in because a lot of pictures lie ahead!

To recap; Sam has been a good friend of mine for over a decade and remains one of the best painters I know. Recently he’s found that time for painting miniatures is hard to come-by. Always on the lookout for content for this blog I took a load of photographs of his models to put together this showcase of his work. This time we’ll be looking at his fantasy models, mostly for the Warhammer world. For his 40k models click here. I’d also highly recommend his blog, although it’s not been updated for a while it’s full of information about how he painted every model.

First up we have Grimgor Ironhide – famously the most warlike of all Orcs (yeah, you heard me Azhag ya mad git!). I really like the pallid skin, especially on the face, and often wondered if this was chosen to reflect all the time Grimgor spent underground fighting the Skaven.
Of course if you’re going to have ‘da best’ of all Orcs then you need his equal amongst the Goblins; Skarsnik (and Gobbla of course). I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt the loss of Gobbla during the End Times with the kind of intensity normally reserved for family members. I’m also secretly rather impressed that Sam has managed to make the model look so good in spite of painting him with quite a lot of pink.
Standing stalwart against the depredations of these greenskins we have this impeccably dressed Empire Captain.
Another of my favourites is this gorgeous skink. Just look at that jewel on the end of his staff!
I’ve always been impressed with Sam’s range as a painter – everything from that Lizardman to this unit of scabrous Plague Monks. Pretty much everyone in the world has converted the Nurgle Lord but Sam decided to break with tradition and painted the fat man as originally intended. At the opposite end of the spectrum of Warhammer bad-guys from the pie-loving Nurgle Lord is this sleek Dark Elf Dreadlord. I love the way he’s leaning into the strike – someone’s going to get their head chopped off for sure. For the last part of this showcase I wanted to leave the world of Warhammer and take us instead to Westeros, the setting of Game of Thrones. This is one of my absolute favourite pieces by Sam, a diorama recreating the infamous clash between Oberyn Martell and ‘The Mountain’ Gregor Clegane using models from Dark Sword Miniatures. I love all the little details that have been included to set the scene. To my eye the balance between creating context without overwhelming the characters has been struck perfectly. The fallen leaves and tumbled masonry creates a sense both of the changing seasons as the characters prepare for a harsh winter ahead and of the waning of their civilisation, the passing of glory and the inevitable yielding of their endeavours to history. Prince Oberyn shields his head against the Mountain’s swing, making getting a picture of his face almost impossible. The Mountain lines up to do some chopping. Damn but he’s a tall lad isn’t he? Finally, whilst I’m allowing the blog to be taken over by my talented friends, allow me to point you in the direction of Iriselsewhere who, inspired by my recent review of the new Orruks, drew the Weirdnob Shaman performing Hamlet. As one does… Until next time, hope you enjoyed this little showcase of my friends’ talents, do check out their blogs and feel free to make any comments in the box.


In The Service of the Gods – Part 6

The victims of the Warp are many and varied. Since Galath fell in the City of the Swine Brother Asath has been plagued by Empyrean insects that writhe beneath the stern iron of his mask. No longer does his voice boom from its grill, replaced instead by the idiot buzzing of an invertebrate multitude. Yet he remains as effective in combat as he ever was and Valaghast believes that the clues to their return to power may be hidden amongst his gibbered lies.

 —

Finished off another chaos marine for Squad Valaghast. Decided to push myself a little with the greenstuff work on his face and, although it falls a long way short of what those who’re more experienced with the medium are capable of producing, I see a definite improvement. As usual comments and feedback are welcome.

ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (1)

ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (2)

ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (3)

ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (4)


Age of Squigwaaargh!

I do like an Ork. I’m also known to be rather fond of an Orc. I’d probably be quite well-disposed to an Orruk as well if it wasn’t for the fact that saying it aloud makes it sound like I have the hiccups. This week sees a major new release for the Orruks of Age of Sigmar but if you’re a Warhammer player who knows that ‘da old ways are da best’ or you’re hell-bent on ransacking the 41st Millennium there’s sure to be something for you here as well. After all, whenever something new has been released for the Orcs in the past I’ve poured over it trying to work out if I could strap a sluga to it and induct it into my Waaargh! and this time will be no different.

I’ll add that this is not really intended as a review of the release, I’ll leave that to more talented bloggers than I, but more a collection of my thoughts and ideas generated by a first look at the new models.

Orruk Brutes
The meat of this release is the Brutes. For the Ork fan in your life (that would be me) these guys look like a treasure trove of bits for converting even more mean-looking Nobs. For the Orc-lover these could be the Big ‘uns you’ve been waiting for, assuming you can see past the whole End-Times/Age-of-Sigmar/Destroying-Everything-You-Once-Held-Dear affair.Brutes 2Long ago, when I first started my collection of Orks, I set myself the challenge of making every last boy unique. After all, I reasoned, Orks are a fairly (small c) chaotic mob and I like converting things. For the boys themselves there are a lot of options available but for the Nobs the number of possibilities is a bit thinner so these are very welcome to bulk out the selection. The combination of weapon and armour for this one in particular excites me – picture him if you will with a few rusty mechanical ‘upgrades’ and you’ve got a cybork of no mean proportions.Brute 1In spite of a good range of shouty, angry faces though there’s not a lot here that’s wildly unusual or unique, which is a shame. There are also no helmets to tie them in with their new buddies the Black Orcs. Confusingly these are now known as ‘Ardboys – perhaps because people like me were already using them to convert their own 40k ‘Ardboys.
The other major downside of these guys is the lack of a particularly silly name which I can mock shamelessly in my search for a cheap laugh. Luckily this is covered extensively by the rest of the release so disaster is averted.

Megaboss on a Maw-krusha

The headline release here of course is the Megaboss on a Maw-krusha. The trend for GW-unique names seems to have hit a bit of a stumbling block here. Instead of calling this something sensible like a Wyvern they used the name Maw-krusha which puts me in mind of Mantic’s Mawbeasts; perhaps not what the bigwigs in the Citadel had in mind.

Much as I love the Helldrake it’s an uphill battle to make it as a dragon in 40k, rendering this an almost exclusively fantasy beast. For everyone waiting for a Warboss on a Wyvern for their Warhammer army this is it (albeit one that’s been at the pies rather more than is traditional for this normally sleek creature), and well worth the wait in my opinion. The only downside is that you’ll have to pick up a rectangular base for it but I’m sure you can cope. Were I a rich man this is the one I’d be rushing out to buy. As it is, I’m not so I won’t.
Although the Megaboss himself is very much posed as a rider, and therefore liable to look somewhat silly without his mount, he still offers a number of useful components for anyone looking to convert their own Warboss (something we’ll get onto in a moment). This face for instance strikes me as being particularly useful, and packed full of Orky character.Orc FaceThe other variant of this kit is Gordrakk, the Fist of Gork, whose Maw-krusha appears to be in the process of consuming a pair of curtains, for reasons I’ve yet to fathom.Maw-krusha 1

Chaos convertors who want to add Tamurkhan the Maggot Lord to their collection but are looking for something different to the Forgeworld model could also consider sprucing this chap up with spares from the Maggoth Lords kits. When you’ve built it be a good chap and post a link in the comments box so I can see it too eh?

 

Megaboss
This is where I found myself getting a little disappointed. The Ork/cs need a new boss and as it stands the options are thin on the ground. Everyone with the slightest touch of green in their soul picked up the Assault on Black Reach starter set a few years ago which means that the Warboss from said kit became as common as brown rats, town pigeons and moaning people on the Internet. Look – even I painted one!
I’m not denying it’s a cracking model but some variety would be lovely to see. Unfortunately our options are, in the main, the Orc Warboss from Warhammer (a little bit too small), Ghazghkull Thraka (too iconic),  Grukk Face-rippa (essentially an official conversion of the AoBR model) or the old finecast Warboss (nice enough but not that easy to convert). Personally I was hoping that this guy would be the one we’ve been waiting for but sadly his lumpen, over-armoured form leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t hate him, far from it, but I’m not awed either – and I rather hoped I would be. Never mind, let’s see what else we’ve got.

Weirdnob Shaman
This is very much the shaman of old, albeit now with a much sillier name. On the one hand its a beautiful model – one of the real highlights of the release – and would serve nicely as an Ork Weirdboy with a few judicious tweaks. Further conversion could create all kinds of chaos mutants, mechanicus or Haemonculi coven thrall-beasts or the feral-world brutes that hang around with the more interesting sort of Inquisitor. My only real gripe is the sculpted smoke effect but to be fair I almost never like sculpted smoke or flame so that’s really more a matter of personal taste. However the greenskins have hardly been crying out for a new shaman so it’s not really plugging a gap in range. Still when they’re turning out models this nice it would be churlish to complain.

Gore-gruntas
These took some getting used to (particularly the names which have to be the daftest of the bunch) but the more time I spent looking at them the more I decided I actually quite like them. The beards on the boars have already been complained about in suitably hyperbolic terms pretty much everywhere so I’ll spare you a rehash. Suffice to say the bold may wish to cut away the beards, or at least give them a trim, at which point the fact that the front legs of the pig are separate will undoubtedly come in handy.

Boar Boy 1

A lot of people have, by way of criticism, compared these models to the beastmen Razorgors (allegedly the ugliest model in Games Workshop’s catalogue). However I tended to see this from the opposite angle – that here is a model which, with a little judicious converting and mutating, could be turned into an excellent Razorgor. As an aside I’m actually a little surprised that this model has survived the current cull sweeping through GW’s less popular items, suffering as it does from the perfect storms of being an almost universally disliked model in an unpopular medium (finecast) and part of an under-supported range (beastmen).

Sadly the biggest mistake with these models has been moulding the Orc rider directly onto the steed, something which makes both pig and rider next to useless to convertors without considerable effort. I’m sure they had their reasons but to my mind this cripples the usefulness of these models apart from for spares. At least we can raid them for heads – and here at least a little of the variety that is missing from the Brutes has snuck back in.

Boar Boy Head

Warchanter

To be honest I’m really sure what to make of this one. At first glance he looks like some boozed-up frat-boy from an American teen movie, something not helped by the fact that he appears to be wearing shorts. I can almost hear the chants of ‘chug, chug, chug!’ as he holds those cups aloft.

Warchanter

His background fiction also seems a bit hastily assembled. Essentially he likes drumming on things (so presumably those are not drinking cups at all but bones for hitting things with… for some reason). In many ways this reminds me of the ‘crazy blacksmiths of Khorne’; the Skullgrinder, and suggests a lack of joined-up thinking when it comes to the design of the game. Rather than creating a concept which fits the world then designing rules and a model to evoke it, it seems that some of the Age of Sigmar creatures are being sculpted first and shoehorned into the world later.

Once again though his face is delightfully bonkers and would lend itself well to any Ork character. Not worth getting the whole model for though.Warchanter HeadOverall then, I rather like this release. It won’t have me rushing out to buy but then I’m not the target audience. Fans of Orks should find plenty to steal from this release, whilst those who’s Orcs are still raiding the Old World should be able to get more out of this than dwarf players did from the Fyreslayers.

There are a couple of things that strike me about this release however. The first is that, of all the things GW’s fantasy greenskins have been missing none of these – with the exception of the Wyvern – were particularly high on the list. I know this is essentially an Orc release, rather than Goblins, and that this is aimed at shaping the greenskins in Age of Sigmar rather than filling gaps in the Warhammer line. Nonetheless with squigs, goblins, wolf-riders, snotlings, pump-wagons and both chariots looking distinctly elderly it’s hard not to feel that an opportunity has been missed there.

Secondly the alliance of Orcs and Ogres that began back in the End Times seems now to be very much ‘a thing’. With this being the case it might be nice to see some models that actually draw the very different aesthetics of the two races together in some way, rather than just pretending that, in spite of the untold millennia that have supposedly passed since the death of the Old World, the two races have stubbornly kept to their old appearances. With these bigger, meaner Orcs we had an opportunity to mix the two a little, creating a series of models which would help bond the fat men back into the ranks of their greener comrades. The only time this really happens is with the rider of the Maw-krusha. Otherwise the Ogres share much more in common aesthetically with the Fyreslayers (both fire-worshipping mercenaries with a love of stylish facial hair and an aversion to getting fully dressed).

Do you agree with my rambling, or are you readying a rusty choppa and heading down to the design studio to ‘av words’? Do you have a great idea for a conversion based off these kits? As ever the comments box is the place for you!

Edit: Inspired by this post the talented Iriselsewhere drew Orruks performing Hamlet. Now we just need to inspire someone mad enough to make a diorama of this!


In The Service Of The Gods – Part 5

We were the Clawhand’s Own – sons to him as the first of the Mighty were to the Prymarchs of old. We are in the wilderness now. When our lord fell we fell with him, and fell again. Most of my brothers died when the Bitterblade broke beneath Kell’s hand, our pride was ground to dust beneath his heel. Now we are no more than slaves, made mean by suffering, stripped of glory. We are bound to the service of a lord despised by us, and by the Gods; a lord who shamed us. Some doubt we shall ever regain the grandeur of old or take our place amongst the choirs of the ascended.

We are now but a ragged few, yet my brothers still trust in me and I swear before all the gods that come the hour we shall rise!

—–

Although life is pretty busy at the moment I’ve found the time to finish off the leader for my new squad of Chaos Marines; Squad Valaghast. These are the former servants of Kordel Bitterblade, chosen from his elite when he was Master of Purges amongst the Hawkmoth Space Marines. When he and Kell turned from the Throne-world they followed their master into the darkness. As he began his rise to power as the chaos lord Kordel Clawhand they formed his murderous elite, yet having shared in their master’s glory during his reign they must also share his shame in defeat. The journey has not been kind to them yet they have not lost sight of a future in which they regain their old glory. Kell knows this, and recognises also their hatred and contempt for him. Rather than have them slain or banished he aims to harness their gloryseeking ways – for he knows that there is nothing they will not do to return to power.


Showcasing Sam: The Dark Millennium

When I first got into the hobby one of my biggest inspirations came from my friend Sam, already something of a veteran and a painter of no mean skill. All these years later and he’s pretty much hung up his brushes (the demands of being a responsible adult – I’m told – comes for the best of us in the end). What he’s left with is a cupboard full of beautifully painted miniatures and, after visiting him recently, I couldn’t resist getting some photos so I could show them off to you. In the end I turned up so much cool stuff I’ve split the blog into two parts – expect to see the fantasy half soon. I should also mention that Sam has a blog and, although it’s been distinctly quiet over there lately, it’s well worth taking a look at. Who knows, if we drop enough hints we might even coax him out of retirement. He also passed me on a few of his unpainted models which I’ll be attempting to do justice to, so keep an eye out for them in the future as well.

As usual if you want to get a better look at any of the pictures, just click on them.

Njal Stormcaller
As I’ve mentioned before I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Space Wolves. Njal Stormcaller however remains very firmly in the “cool” camp through his combination of shamanic trappings, psyber-raven familiar and fierce control over the furious Fenrisian elements. Sam’s really brought out the rich colour of his armour, from the hearth-warmth of his shoulderpads to the frosty wolf-grey of his rune-carved greaves. The wolf pelt is also, in my opinion, about as close to perfect as you can get, and the unnatural glow of its dead eyes is a brilliant touch. All in all, one of my favourite of his models – even against stiff competition.Marneus Calgar
Marneus Calgar – the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines and one of the most powerful men in the galaxy. Not my favourite incarnation of him to be honest, compared to the version accompanied by the honour guard this one is really showing it’s age. The model always looks a little squat (by which I don’t mean to imply that he’s actually a space-dwarf – although that would be twist to the 40k story wouldn’t it?). Nonetheless I rather like how he’s been painted, goes to show that a decent paint job can make a world of difference to any model. The ice effect on the base really adds to the model as well.

Trygon
The world of 40k is not all about the Space Marines though (in spite of what you may have heard!) The Great Devourer is tearing its way into the galaxy and though my opinion of the Tyranid miniatures range is mixed there’s no denying the Trygon is an absolute beast. Sam’s painted this one in the colours of Hive Fleet Kraken. Of the three main Hive Fleets I’ve always felt Kraken’s scheme to be the most organic and believable. I want my Tyranids to look like real animals and there’s definitely something reminiscent of a giant centipede about this model.

I’ll admit that, as hinted above, I have something of an ulterior motive here – to encourage Sam to pick up his brushes again. After all, as his friend, I know what’s best for him far more than he does! If you agree with me pop a comment in the box below – and just wait until I’ve sorted out the photos of his fantasy miniatures!


Impurity Is Still Our Armour

When I first showed you this model of a chaos demagogue a few weeks ago several readers pointed out something that should have been obvious to me – but of course hadn’t been.
As you can see he’s holding a couple of decapitated heads and so the question was asked – how did he chop off those heads when he doesn’t have a knife? Did he use his teeth? Twist them off with his bare hands? Find them lying around somewhere and borrow them to pose with?

Obviously I needed to provide him with a blade but what to use? I had a plan to use a long bladed axe until KrautScientist suggested a hammer as a way of capturing the chaotic revolutionary vibe (in a style similar to the “Workers rising up with hammer in hand Soviet propaganda!”). Suddenly my brain kicked into gear. A hammer isn’t the best tool to use when chopping off heads but even those like me – who’s knowledge of modern European history has been somewhat muddied by playing too much Command and Conquer as a youth – knows that where there’s a hammer a sickle can’t be far away.

I was tempted to put a hammer in his hand (and I am still a little) but I actually rather like his lack of obvious weapons and didn’t want to over-egg a model which uses simplicity as its core virtue. Needless to say of course, that if you agree or disagree I’d be interested to get your feedback.

Anyway, whilst I was working on the demagogue I decided to go back to this traitor guardsman who I was less than satisfied with when I first showed him. Particularly I thought the rust on his weapon – something of a signature element of mine – looked pretty shoddy. Here’s how he used to look.

And here he is following a little trip back to the painting table for an update.
As usual if you have thoughts it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Get them off your chest in the box below – I won’t tell a soul!


In The Service Of The Gods – Part 4

Another Chaos Marine joins the new squad. ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (5)

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I’m particularly pleased with this shoulderpad.
ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (8)
I also did a bit of work on the base to create something slightly more chaotic than the usual Imperial rubble my legions march upon.ConvertOrDie Chaos Space Marine (9)