Well, that was 2020 was it? The year which shall henceforth be referred to with the tagline “If you like dramatic global upheavals you’ll love this!”. Honestly I wonder how the script writers for 2021 can ever hope to top it. Well done on making it to the end by the way, assuming of course that there’s anyone else out there and this message from my lonely bunker isn’t going out to a world stripped bare, echoing across weed-choked streets, rusted vehicles and piles of corpses with startlingly clean bums.
I started the year with a picture of a Noise Marine and the bombastic declaration “Alright 2020, let’s get this party started!”. With retrospect I should probably have said something more like “Is it safe to come out?” to which the answer would of course have been a firm “no”.
Still, it was a good year for fans of painting miniatures, with many of us achieving a guru-like status as we taught our friends and communities how it’s actually very easy to remain indoors for weeks at a time. With huge piles of plastic, lead and resin stashed around our homes we were ready to do the right thing, socially isolating with the vigour and aplomb of true heroes. Frankly I’m disappointed that my efforts in the public good have not been recognised by inclusion in the New Year’s Honours list, although of course if the Queen is reading this it’s never too late to pick up the phone. Alternatively erecting a statue of me would be entirely appropriate, especially as there are a lot of empty plinths around these days.
The pandemic which raged throughout the year played merry hell with miniatures’ releases but we still saw some very cool new stuff all the same, starting with the long awaited return of the Sisters of Battle. For as long as I’ve been a hobbyist (and we’re talking a loooong time now) people have been saying “But when will the Sisters of Battle get new models” to which Games Workshop have replied “Meh… I dunno – someday maybe?” Finally however sense was seen, and the armies of the Adepta Sororitas marched. After such a long wait, and a considerable build up, GW managed to sneak them out of their warehouses and into the hands of hobbyists with the apocalypse already close at hand. Were they worth the wait? Damn right they were!
I’ll admit that the Sisters aren’t one of my favourite armies, and that I watched this release with detached interest rather than avid fanaticism, but there’s no denying these are gorgeous models. Could there be a small army of them in my future? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted.
We also saw the launch of Warhammer 40k’s Ninth edition in July, bringing with it a wave of new releases for both Space Marines (as ever!) and Necrons. These latter have been inveigling themselves into my heart for pretty much the entirety of my hobby career so it was probably inevitable that this was the moment when I took the plunge and fell under the spell of our new mechanical overlords. Plus, with centrepiece models like the C’tan Shard of the Void Dragon how could I resist?
Rumour has it that I found one of these underneath the Christmas tree this year…
The new edition was spearheaded by the launch of the Indomitus boxset. On the whole Indomitus lead to a lot of mixed feelings – on the one hand the models were fantastic, on the other it sold out in less than 15 minutes and many fans (yours truly included) weren’t able to secure a copy before they were all snapped up by scalpers to be resold on ebay. Note to self; spend 2021 convincing Games Workshop that I count as some kind of “influencer” and should be sent plenty of free models… Obviously such rapid sales of the set must have caused delight amongst GW shareholders but it left something of a bad taste amongst fans. Luckily those shadowy overlords in Nottingham aren’t entirely daft and what looked set to be a spectacularly public own-goal was transformed at the last moment, rebounding off the bar at the final moment to the delight of the crowd. The set was rereleased via the “Made to Order” service, leaving those cheeky chappies on ebay with egg on their faces. In the end even I was able to get my grubby paws on a copy. Of course I’ve not actually painted very much of it yet but to be fair it took until a few weeks ago for it to actually reach me so I’ve not had a great deal of time. Expect to see my Space Marines reinforced, and perhaps even growing into a proper army at last sometime in the coming months. To begin with however I’m going to opening up the stasis tombs and ordering the machine legions of my dynasty to march forth and reconquer the stars. I’ve already spent a lot of time tinkering around trying to come up with a suitable colour scheme (probably to the frustration of my readers, as I bounced excitedly from one idea to the next). I think I’ve made up my mind though so hopefully real progress will be made soon.
Over in Age of Sigmar two new armies emerged, sneaking their way to release between one lockdown and another. As a fan of both Chaos and Destruction (the AoS Grand Alliances not the global events!) I must confess I was drawn to the mighty Mega Gargants and even wrote a piece on the subject. However somewhat surprisingly it was the Lumineth Realmlords, successors to the High Elves of Ulthuan from the WHFB era that ended up on my painting desk. So far I’ve only finished one of them but I’m highly tempted to put together a Warcry warband of these snooty gits in the near future. Indeed despite my long standing affiliation with the grubbier and more evil side of fantasy I painted two high elves this year, one from the days of WHFB and one of the new Lumineth. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’ll become a habit!
And just to keep things balanced I countered these supercilious swines with a couple of old-fashioned, down-to-earth dwarves. I keep promising that someday I’ll paint a whole army of them…
Necromunda started the year with a bit of a bang, launching the House of Chains – a book dedicated to exploring House Goliath as never before. After that things became a little messy, with Covid shaking up the release schedule, but by the end House of Blades (Escher), House of Iron (Orlock) and House of Artifice (Van Saar) arrived – with the postman dropping off this little lot just before Christmas.
Indeed with four more books in hand I’m starting to build up a nice little Necromundan library.
When I wasn’t reading about the gangs of Hive City I found time to paint them instead, with a Cawdor crusade joining the Goliaths, Eschers, Van Saar, Genestealer Cults and Chaos Helots already active in the underhive.
That said my other gangs aren’t as far forward as I would have liked – something to work on in 2021.
On the other hand I did manage to assemble a small mob of civilians with which to populate Hive City’s roughest districts…
…And a clan of muties to come crawling up out of the badzones during the downshifts to gobble up unwary workers.
After a quiet start 2020 also proved to be a big year for Blood Bowl. Not only was there a new edition launched, and a nice new boxset to go with it, plus four new teams (including the two in the box) but, in even bigger news, I finally got around to painting my Orc team.
Did I stop there? Did I hell! After claiming that a human team would be following along (and they will – you just have to be patient) I instead started working on a couple of elves for an Elven Union team. Expect to see more of them at some point in 2021.
Oh and I painted a very old undead player who after years lost in someone’s garage has now risen to shamble forth once more.
Best of all though, just before the end of the year I painted that hero of the sporting arena, Akhorne the squirrel.
However when it comes to skirmish games the biggest news round my house this year was far and away Warcry. Over the course of the year I put together warbands of the Iron Golem…
… the savage Untamed Beasts…
… the spooky ghosts of the Nighthaunt…
… the ghoulish Flesh-Eater Courts…
… the rascally Gloomspite Gits…
… barbaric Orcs…
…and some big fat ogres.
And I even dipped a toe into Lord of the Rings and painted up a few orcs to serve the dark lord of Mordor.
Although fantasy rather than sci-fi seems to have dominated my output this year I certainly haven’t forgotten about the 41st Millennium (as the aforementioned Necrons go to prove). Indeed the biggest project I tackled all year belongs firmly to the Dark Millennium and the twisted warlords who rampage out of the Eye of Terror. That’s right, I finally finished my Chaos Knight!
Nor was that the only thing I tackled for the forces of the Chaos space marines and their various allies. The global pandemic may have put me off painting very much from the forces of Nurgle but it didn’t stop me from completing my 40-strong mob of poxwalkers. Each of these plague zombies is unique – and if you’re curious to see how I converted them to achieve that there’s a showcase you can pour over here.
Against such threats the defence of the Imperium remains a little thin on the ground, although I did get around to painting up a few soldiers of the Adeptus Mechanicus at long last. There will be more in 2021 (I promise!).
In terms of getting miniatures painted then I didn’t have a bad year all told. By my tally I painted 161 models (although I’m writing this with a few days to go so I might manage to add a couple more to that before the bells, in fact I might even have done it before this is published). In terms of output that’s a bit of a step down compared to the last couple of years (2019 ended with 250 miniatures finished, and 2018 with 277. Mind you a lot of those were Skaven and Night Goblins, and exactly none of them were Chaos Knights…). This year however was the first year in which, as well as keeping a monthly tally of models painted I also started keeping a record of how many I bought (the penny finally dropping that if I’m going to collect data I ought to make it meaningful). I think I’ll keep the latter number to myself as it’s embarrassingly high. Let’s just say it’s a little higher than the number I painted and leave it at that – despite my love of Slaanesh, boasting about excess isn’t really my style. In 2021 I’m going to try to rein this in a little, to buy a lot less and to concentrate on painting the models I already own. I make no promises that temptation won’t get the better of me sometimes but at the end of the day I don’t have the cash to squander on models that never get assembled let alone painted so a bit more restraint is going to be in order.
Beyond that however I’m not going to set myself any hobby goals for 2021, I tried that in 2019 and the results were pretty hit and miss! I do however have lots of schemes I’d like to tackle (more Warcry warbands of course, more Necromunda, a second Blood Bowl team and a whole dynasty of Necrons for starters). Before any of that happens however I just need to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year, and all the best for 2021. Oh and if Grandfather Nurgle comes anywhere near you tell the poxy git to get lost – we’ve seen quite enough of his sort this year!