Tag Archives: Hobby

2019 – For Anyone Who Missed It

Well, that was 2019 was it? In terms of miniatures releases it’s been an incredible year, packed to the gills with exciting releases – the downside of which is that, despite painting like a dervish all year I’ve still got projects queued round the block waiting to be completed (or in some cases even started). Never mind eh, there are worse problems to have – although I’ll certainly be aiming to buy a bit less and concentrate on catching up with myself in 2020.

The early part of the year was certainly non-stop with the kind of releases I dream of, to the point where I started to pray they’d turn their attention to the Tau, Stormcast Eternals or something else which doesn’t really interest me, if only to give me a chance to catch my breath. No such luck!

In January GW opened the batting with the arrival of the Gloomspite Gits, an AoS reinvention of the old Night Goblins accompanied by lumbering trolls and a sea of bouncing squigs. For me this was a bit of a weird one. I’ve always regarded Night Goblins as the iconic WHFB species, representing for the Old World what Stormcast Eternals do for AoS or Space Marines for 40k. Seeing them in the new Realms was just weird, they looked out of place, visitors from another world scurrying around the ankles of Sigmar’s golden champions, flying dwarves, undersea elves and other inhabitants of this new and creatively-inspired setting. To me they represented the “proxied” quality of early AoS. Much in the same way as we’ve all seen new games tried out with existing models standing in for those as yet unpainted or unpurchased, the early years of AoS saw the Realms populated by the existing WHFB races, many of whom had seen next to no effort spent on incorporating them into the new setting.

Feeling strongly that Night Goblins had no place in the Mortal Realms, and that when I started painting up an AoS collection it would be for one of the new races, I went ahead and – in the closing months of 2018 – finally tackled my unpainted WHFB Night Goblin army…

…only for GW to produce the Gloomspite Gits at the beginning of 2019 and throw everything I thought I knew into disarray. Like a fanatic crashing through the front ranks of my preconceptions  they overturned my previous conviction that Night Goblins could never be successfully integrated into the Mortal Realms. At first I decided I’d pick up some of the new kits and incorporate them into my WHFB army (almost all of the new releases having suitable Old World equivalents), then I decided to leave the Gobbos as they are and make a Trogherd (that’s an all troll army to you and me) and now I’m slowly being corrupted by the Gloomspite and starting to get tempted by the idea of rebasing the whole lot of them, covering the land in fungal spores and dancing beneath the sickly glow of da Bad Moon. To begin with common sense tells me to paint some of the new stuff and see where I decide to go next. After all, despite falling for the new range in a big way so far I’ve only got around to painting these three squigs.

Hot on the heels of the gobbos came the next major release from GW, the genestealer cults. Again, this was something I’d been working on during the latter part of 2018, putting together a gang for my partner to use in Necromunda. As it stands I’m only planning to roll some of the new kits into this gang but if I only complete half the ideas I’ve come up with we’ll probably still have more than enough for Apocalypse!

However almost as soon as they’d appeared they were overshadowed, for me at least, by a full scale Chaos invasion of realspace, spearheaded by Abaddon himself. As a devoted servant of the Ruinous Powers this was huge news; we saw new Chaos Marines, new Obliterators and all kinds of new characters, headed up by the big man himself. Again other projects have eaten up a lot of time so I’ve yet to really get my teeth into these, although I have started chipping away at a new squad of Chaos Space Marines with which to found my next Black Crusade.And things didn’t stop there either. The forces of Chaos continued to go from strength to strength, with the arrival of new Daemons of Slaanesh (including a downright gorgeous Keeper of Secrets), a few more Khornate daemons (you can never have too many of those after all) and a kit for Chaos Knights (and yes, I know my converted Chaos Knight remains unfinished after yet another year, you don’t half nag you know!).

However the really big news for Chaos fans, apart from Abaddon and co. of course, was the arrival of Warcry in the middle of the summer. I may not have painted very much for it (a solitary dwarf so far) but that hasn’t stopped me enthusing about it non-stop ever since. The fact that it’s Chaos meant it was always going to grab me, as was the chance to really explore a corner of the Realms entirely warped by the Dark Gods, but it was the sheer quality and originality of the miniatures that had me hooked. Plus it’s that rarest of things, a game system that I’m actually enthused about playing. I’ve got my fingers tightly crossed that GW continues to pour support into it in 2020 (early indications look hopeful anyway) – either way expect to see plenty of models appearing here over the next few months, with the Untamed Beasts and Iron Golem leading the charge.

 

Warcry Iron Golem Chaos Dwarf Wudugast (1)

Dipping my toe into the Bloodwind Spoil…

The second half of the year was a bit more sedate in terms of releases, from my point of view at least. In many ways that’s no bad thing, having so many of my favourite factions enjoying attention one after another is great in theory but my unpainted pile, and my unpurchased wishlist, were attaining truly mountainous proportions, with the former now so big I needed to install a ski-lift just to get to the top. There were plenty of Space Marines, mostly of the modern, stealthy type that forms the Vanguard Chamber, and as these aren’t really my cup of tea at all I was more than content to let them pass me by. That said they did release a few others including a Salamander so stylish and imposing that he almost made me forget my deep-seated enmity towards the Sons of Vulcan.

Stylish Salamander

Midsummer also saw Contrast paint arriving, which promised to revolutionise painting into an almost magically quick and simple process. For my money this can only be a good thing; the fact is that there are plenty of people out in the world who like to play games but don’t have the time/interest/skill to paint their models well. On the other hand nobody actually wants to play with unpainted models, despite what edge-lords might pretend. All other things being equal you’ll have a better time playing with painted models than unpainted ones, just as you’ll have a better time playing on beautifully crafted terrain rather than a bare tablecloth. Secondly, if you can paint something quickly and have it end up looking decent you’ll undoubtedly feel more enthused about the process and are more likely to paint more, and to put more effort into your painting, than if you struggle laboriously to end up with something that looks a bit duff.

Ultimately there is no technique or tool that will magically make you a better, quicker painter apart from enthusiasm. The way to paint more is to want to paint more, and if Contrast makes your painting experience quicker, easier and better then you’ll be more likely to do more with it. Looking forward to painting = spending more time painting = getting more things painted = painting better; it’s as simple as that.

For me I’ve not found myself overturning my old painting techniques and relearning everything with Contrast, I’ve got close to two decades of experience as a miniatures painter and I have no inclination to learn something completely new. On the other hand I know I’m something of a neophile when it comes to paints and I’ve found that mixing Contrast into a project alongside your traditional paints can lead to some very useful results, so even if it’s not your thing I recommend picking up a couple of pots and having a play.

October saw Jain Zar receive a new and wildly dynamic new miniature (which only serves to remind me that my old metal version remains stubbornly unpainted) alongside a rather pedestrian looking Drazhar (I must confess I expected more from a man who calls himself “The Living Sword” but there you go). It did however get me thinking about all the other old GW models that it would be nice to see replaced, something that crystallised into a bit of fun wishlistingaround the time that Mephiston appeared.

However the really big news for the latter part of the year was the Ossiarch Bonereapers, a new faction of undead bone constructs which served to demonstrate AoS’s continued evolution away from the Old World. I’ve been a fan of GW’s Undead since I fell under the spell of the Vampire Counts years ago and having been drawn ever further into Nagash’s service by the Nighthaunt that appeared last year I was very curious to get a look at these newcomers. On the whole I’d say this range is a bit more hit and miss than the Nighthaunt but when they get it right they really knocked it out of the park – and despite my longstanding love affair with Neferata I’m forced to admit the Bonereapers have far and away the best looking Mortarch of the lot (more on him below!). It’s almost inevitable that I’ll be starting a small collection of these undead taxmen, the tithe must be paid after all!

The final major event on GW’s calendar for the year was the arrival of the Sisters of Battle, who came marching out for a brief but dramatic crusade of faith. A full release for the range is due early in the new year but it was preceded by a limited edition boxset which – to the surprise of precisely no-one at all – sold out in less time than it takes to blink. I may not be a big fan of the Sisters but some of these models are really outstanding, and after twenty years of waiting fans of the range are in for a real treat. Junith Eruita, for instance – a Canoness Superior character soon to join the range – rides around on a flying pulpit, which may very well be the coolest ride in the entire setting. Needless to say I’m sorely tempted to evict her from it and put a tech-priest up there in her place – praying to the Emperor is all very well but the truly devoted need look no further than Holy Mars!

Junith Eruita

Meanwhile some scurrilous individuals have been asking how this lady manages to hold up a banner made of solid stone. Faith, heretic scum – that’s how!

Nuns on the run

Of course 40k and AoS are all very well but I prefer something a little more gritty. Glorious crusades of faith and titanic struggles are to be applauded but most of the time you’ll find me down in the grubby back alleys and beneath the streets, where rats rule and Inquisitors roam. Thus the setting which speaks to me the most of all those which GW has to offer has to be Necromunda. After a hugely enjoyable 2018, which saw all of the original six houses given new plastic gangs, 2019 was considerably quieter. In the first half of the year we saw only an Ambot and of course that never-knowingly-humble hero of the Underhive that is Kal Jerico, but it wasn’t until August that things realy kicked off again with the arrival of the Palanite Enforcers (that’s the long arm of the law to you and me). Later in the year these were backed up with more Enforcers, this time the shock troops of the Subjugators, which is just as well because a bloodthirsty cannibal cult is on the loose and looking for their next meal. Needless to say, I have plans…

Necromunda

I’m hopeful that the relatively quite spell for Necromunda in the early part of the year was just the calm before the storm and next year will see the inhabitants of the Underhive back in the spotlight. Blood Bowl also saw a quiet year after the first wave of teams that followed it’s re-release and now they enjoy a new team every quarter. This year saw Halflings, Wood Elves, Lizardmen and Ogres arriving on the pitch and I’m hopeful we’ll see a similar performance next year. I love the aesthetic of this game and once again I’m reminded that I really need to get a team or two painted up.

Gnoblars

I’ve not been paying quite such rapt attention to the world beyond GW as I might have been but there have been a few highlights that have caught my eye. Anvil Industry’s Daughters of the Burning Rose kickstarter arrived – and although so far I’ve only painted this Alchemist I’ve got a box of models just waiting to get my teeth into. In some ways I feel a little sorry for Anvil here, after years of GW ignoring the Sisters of Battle range entirely they decide to tackle them with their “not-Sisters” range, and GW immediately get the finger out and start producing some truly outstanding miniatures of their own. Not that I’m conflating the two events, the argument that “GW had to do it ‘cos Anvil was” is frankly ludicrous when you compare the relative sizes of the two companies and their fan bases. Anyway, I’ve never been that interested in the Sisters of Battle – either GW or otherwise – but the Daughters of the Burning Rose range also contains some miniatures which are just great for Inq28 without any conversion at all (which is probably some kind of heresy).

Meanwhile Knightmare Miniatures continued their series of kickstarters, expanding their ranges for Chaos, Greenskins (of various types), Greenskin Hunters (can’t an honest gobbo live in peace?!) and even Space Goblins. As I’m a sucker for old school Chaos and Goblins I couldn’t resist dipping a toe into these and now I have a nice box of lead waiting to be tackled soon.

Space Gobbos

Finally Ana Polanscak of Gardens of Hecate ran a kickstarter for some of her wonderfully dark and weird models. I’ve been a fan of Ana’s work for some time (if you’re not following her already where on earth have you been?!) so there was no way I was letting this one pass.

Gardens of Hecate

Miniatures of the Year:

Mostly, I’ll confess, this is a thinly veiled excuse to look at some cool miniatures. This year saw a whole heap of really outstanding miniatures released and I’m not going to pass over an opportunity to take a look at them again! As with many things on this blog my focus has been heavily slanted towards Games Workshop and so that’s what I’ll be focussing on here, although I’ve no doubt there’s been some amazing models from other companies which have managed to pass me by. Nonetheless GW really did the business in 2019, from the hulking beast that is the Ogre Tyrant to Nayam Shai Murad who seems to have stepped straight out of the Inq28 scene’s collective unconscious, to the underrated brilliance of the Chaos Sorcerer and of course the character-packed (and monumentally wasted) Shroomancer. Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favourites.

I almost declared Orpheon Katakros to be my favourite and it remained a close-run thing, he really is a wonderfully imposing and powerful miniature. I’ve been tempted to buy him ever since he was released and sure enough he turned up under the Christmas tree thanks to my amazing fiancée, so expect to see him appearing here sooner or later.

Katakros Chrismas Tree

However there can only be one winner and my top-pick has to be the Warmaster himself, Abaddon the Despoiler, probably my favourite 40k character (and easily one of the most important figures in the story of the 41st Millennium) and now with a miniature to match his stature. Needless to say, as well as being simply awesome he’s also proved to be deeply intimidating to paint so as yet my Chaos forces will have to make do without his authoritative presence, hopefully I’ll pluck up my courage and break out the brushes soon though.

Top 5 Black Library Novels of 2019

As well as painting miniatures, and all the other hobbies I enjoy, I’m a keen reader – and I’ll confess that Black Library novels are something of a guilty pleasure for me. A lot of them – I’ll be the first to admit – are basically pulp silliness, high of melodrama and blazing bolters, low on the kind of emotional or intellectual punch that makes a book stick with you for life. Never mind that though because most of them are good fun, and that’s good enough for me. Plus some of them are actually, dare we whisper it, really bloody good. Inspired by a conversation with Savageddt of Wordaholicanonymous I decided to pick my top Black Library novel of the year.

It’s been a strong field, with some cracking novels appearing. Spear of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski-Bowden was as excellent as you’d expect, and although I’m only part way through Requiem Infernal by Peter Fehervari is shaping up to be another contender. This was also the year that Horus finally reached Terra in the Horus Heresy series. Things started well enough with The Solar War as the heretics fought their way across the solar system but things really kicked up a gear when we reached the throneworld itself in The Lost and the Damned. Partly it’s just a case of the new series finding its feet, partly it was the tighter cast of characters – as opposed to the zoo that populated Solar War, and partly it’s because – for my money – Guy Haley is one of Black Library’s better authors. Sanguineous of course is front and centre – he’s on the cover after all, but all the Primarchs get a good showing (Angron rampaging around being himself is always a fine thing to see). Zardu Layak remains a wonderfully moustache-twirling baddy, that rascal Gendor Skraivok, ‘The Painted Count’ reappears, Lucoryphus of the Night Lords puts in a cameo that fans of the Aaron Dembski-Bowden Nights Lords series are bound to enjoy, and the relationship between Lotara Sarrin and Khârn remains as compelling as ever. Oh and Legio Solaria walks, which is usually worth the price of admission by itself for me! However the real standout here is Abaddon, clearly well on his way to becoming the next Warmaster as Horus is consumed by the forces to which he has bound himself.

However if called upon to pick a favourite I’d have to choose Honourbound by Rachel Harrison. I’d been following Commissar Severina Raine and the 11th Antari Rifles since their first appearance in the short story Execution and it was great to see them get a full novel to really stretch their legs and demonstrate the depth of their characters. The plot is good enough, there’s nothing wildly out of the ordinary here, simply the long shadow of treachery and corruption against the flames of grinding, attritional war, a small group of people trapped between the enemy without and the enemy within, and a woman attempting to prove her worth from beneath a family legacy that contains vaunted heroes and hated traitors in equal measure. It’s the characters however that really make the book; Raine herself is always compelling, Andren Fel continues to demonstrate that you can have a straight-up “good guy” even in the grubby darkness of 40k, whilst Daven Wyck leans to the opposite end of the spectrum, a hero so deeply flawed he totters constantly on the edge of damnation. Meanwhile The Sighted make for excellent baddies, subtly Tzeentchian in much the same way as the Corpse Grinders of Necromunda are Khornate, it’s there if you’re looking but we’re not seeing Thousand Sons and Pink Horrors tramping all over the place – and that alone adds to the sense of scale and depth in 40k.

Honourbound

I had hoped to include a picture of my finished Severina Raine miniature but alas she’s going to need a lot more work before she’s done – and an Imperial heroine of her stature deserves the time and effort that will require.

My Projects

Anyway, enough about a model I didn’t paint, let’s turn our attention to things I did. Necromunda continued to dominated my painting desk in 2019. After a slow start in 2018 House Escher spent the year growing into a veritable army of the 41st Millennium’s best dressed…

… whilst the similarly tardy Chaos Helots eventually unleashed a horde in the name of workers’ rights and some poorly understood rituals involving “dark gods”.

Inevitably, drama ensued!

They wouldn’t be allowed to dominate the Underhive alone however, with the murderous nerds of House Van Saar soon putting in an appearance.

Inspired by the Genestealer Cultists released early in the year the Cult of the Abyssal Gaze did a bit of recruiting, and I plan for more to emerge in 2020.

Genestealer Cults Wudugast ConvertOrDie

And not to be left behind House Goliath called in a few more boys as well, before their turf is entirely over-run.

Even House Cawdor got in on the act at last, with the first steps on the road to a crusade of faith to shake the hive to its roots and remind these heretics and non-believers that the God-Emperor judges all.

About time they turned up really – this place has been crawling with muties lately!

And speaking of ugly creatures I also painted the deeply divisive bounty hunter Ortruum 8-8 (known in some places as “the flying testicle”). GW pushing the boundaries of their creativity to new heights or the most hideously unsightly thing you can imagine painting – I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

It’s not just muties, gangers and other scum though, the Underhive does contain a few upstanding citizens, just trying to make a living. I have a lot of plans for this, as yet mostly unrealised, but here to set the ball rolling are three weird looking characters from Black Crab Miniatures. 

The other project which dominated my attention in 2019 was Blackstone Fortress. After playing a few games of it last winter, in which unpainted models fought various unlikely proxies in the twisting halls of the xenos starfort, I decided that this year I’d get the whole set painted. And, barring a few of the explorers, I have – we’ve certainly got enough now that never again need our heroes step into the unknown without a coat of paint to armour them, or face a mob of goblins pretending to be spindle drones.

My Chaos Space Marines army is looking a bit straggly at the moment. Having grown over recent years into a veritable Black Crusade progress slowed down following the arrival of 8th edition 40k. The coming of the Primaris marines only served to emphasise how tiny and oddly proportioned those old Chaos Marines were and my enthusiasm for the project, once so unassailable, began to dwindle. The release of the new models earlier this year was a real shot in the arm however and I’m hungry to get back to them now. As a precursor to this the army has been split into three parts; models I’m happy with, models I plan to retire and pack away (or break up for bits) and models I still like but which need a bit of a re-paint. It’s these latter which are causing the hold up, I do want to sort them out and include them in the collection but right now they really don’t look that good, and there are a lot of them. Sooner or later however the Beasts of Ruin will be unleashed once more. In the meantime here’s the start of my first squad of the new models (and there will be plenty more to come in the years ahead).

My Death Guard, on the other hand, look considerably healthier (if such a word can be used here!). With their first plague marine recruited and a reborn daemon prince to lead them, they trudge into 2020 with an air of purpose. I’m aiming to complete the poxwalkers early in the year and then tackle adding some more plague marines. After that – who knows, maybe some terminators, a daemon engine or two, or perhaps something even bigger…

Death Guard Wudugast

However my biggest 40k achievement was the completion, after over a decade of slow progress, of my horde of 100 ork boyz. Regular readers will know the story all too well by now so I won’t bore you all by repeating it, if you’ve not read it before or if you want to hear it all again click this link and all your questions will be answered! For the rest of you, here’s a reminder of what 100 angry orks looks like. Waaagh!

And here’s the whole army, a sea of green and rusty metal – and with plenty more waiting in the wings ready to join the ranks.

2019 was the year that HeroQuest turned 30 and so, inspired by KrautScientist who painted up an entire HeroQuest set (plus extras) in one of the year’s “must see” projects, I dug out a couple of old models and got them painted. I’m rather proud of the Chaos Warrior, and for my money the miniature still holds up very well even today. The same cannot be said of the Fimir of course – perhaps there’s a reason why one range continues to stand out amongst GW’s catalogue whilst the other has rarely emerged from the mists over the past three decades…

And if that doesn’t sate your hunger for old plastics I also painted this elderly proto-Necron, scavenged from the same box of dusty miniatures.

Whilst we’re looking at odd, one-off projects, I also painted my first ever Lord of the Rings miniature this year. Will it be the only one? Despite a long standing love of Middle Earth (books and films) the miniatures have never really grabbed me but who knows, the future may surprise us all.

This year also saw me taking my first steps into the Age of Sigmar. Up to now AoS has been something of a closed book to me – not because I was fundamentally opposed to it or married to WHFB – but simply because I understood the Old World and found it difficult to get enthused by the combination of pseudo-mythology and open-ended vagueness which characterised the new setting in its early years. The second edition has tightened that up considerably and the result is a living world of fantastic dimensions and possibilities. Inspired to give it a go I put together a small skirmish warband of Khornate savages led by a brutal Slaughterpriest.

Khorne With The Wind

Naturally these violent barbarians needed someone to fight so I followed them up by putting together a Nurgle warband, combining some new models with others cannibalised from my 40k chaos army.

Nurgle AoS Groupshot Wudugast

Despite assembling these Chaotic savages I’ve still not actually played any AoS Skirmish. Perhaps I’ll find the time during these dark mid-winter nights, although really I’d like to take a crack at Warcry – and for that I’m going to need to finish off some miniatures…

2019 Hobby Goals

In my round-up of 2018 I set out a series of hobby goals for 2019 – and then spent the year failing to complete most of them. With retrospect I’m not sure that annual hobby goals really work for me, for most of the year the deadline is comfortably far-off and I can relax and ignore it, focusing instead on whatever takes my fancy at the time. Then suddenly it’s bearing down upon me with no time to spare, by which time it’s far too late to do anything about it. Smaller monthly goals work a lot better to my mind so next time I’m aiming to finish off a project like that this is likely to be the technique I use.

It’s also worth noting that hobbywise I had a very productive year indeed, completing a not-inconsiderable 250 miniatures in 2019. That’s down a little on the 277 I painted in 2018, although in fairness those numbers were boosted considerably by the fact that many of them were Night Goblins, and it’s certainly well up on the 129 I painted in 2017 – the first year that I kept any kind of record. Nor was I entirely scattershot, I knuckled down on a lot of projects – some of them longstanding. I powered through almost the entirety of the Blackstone Fortress set, knocked out some Necromunda gangs and AoS Skirmish warbands, finished off my Skaven army (more on that below) and completed my long-planned horde of one hundred Ork boyz. However the goals I set out at the end of 2018 remained mostly unfinished. Let’s take a look and remind ourselves.

Skaven; one of my key plans for 2019 was to finish off my WHFB Skaven army and I’m proud to say that one is very much in the bag. Well where is it then, some of you might be asking? Fear not, although the final models might be finished (pending, perhaps, the odd added detail if I find a spare few minutes to fuss over them in the next couple of days) I’ve not managed to get the time (or sufficient ambient daylight) to get them photographed. Expect them to come crawling in at some point in the next week or so, as soon as I manage to get the whole army set up and some decent pictures taken. In the meantime here’s the army as it looked back in June, suffice to say we’ve seen plenty of growth since then!

Necromunda; again I’ll count this one as a success, especially because my original goal was pretty vague (basically amounting to “paint some gangs”). I certainly managed that, adding to the Goliaths and Genestealer Cults and getting the Eschers, Chaos Helots and Van Saar up to fighting strength. Last January I put together a post summarising everything I’d done so far and everything I had planned for the future and it really helped to focus my ideas, so I’ll probably do something similar this year – if nothing else it’ll certainly encourage me to get some of my current batch of test-models finished!

Terrain; this is where the wheels start to come off. I knew this was going to be a big and intimidating project and I expected progress to be slow but I did intend to do a lot more than I have. This is a bit of a “white whale” project for me, something I’ve planned to tackle for many years, and I’ll definitely be coming back to it soon – especially as Dark Uprising has equipped me with a lot more of the materials I need to construct the Underhive. However as terrain is bulky, and we’re planning to be moving house in the next couple of months, I’m pushing this onto the backburner for now, until I see what kind of space we have to work with at the new place.

Poxwalkers; I may not have finished this one but I have managed to break some ground. My aim was to complete a horde of 40, yet as it stands I’ve only finished 32. Still, better than a poke in the eye as they say, and with luck I’ll get the rest done in the early part of 2020.

Poxwalkers Wudugast ConvertOrDie Nurgle

Chaos Knight; I’ve been chipping away at building and painting a Chaos Knight of my very own for a number of years now and I really thought 2019 would be its year – especially since GW released Codex: Chaos Knights and a multipart kit for them back in the summer, giving my enthusiasm for the project a huge boost. Alas, the year has ended and the knight remains as unfinished as ever…

Blood Bowl; 2019 was supposed to be the year I finally got around to painting a Blood Bowl team yet the year has ended and I’m no closer to that goal. The game continues to interest me however so hopefully 2020 will be the time that it all comes together at last.

Given that setting myself goals for 2019 didn’t really pan out as intended I’m cautious of repeating the idea for 2020. In fact, when I add in the forthcoming move, and all the various other “real life” events that either will or are likely to take place in the coming year, I think it’s very probable that I’ll be a lot less active over the coming year than I have been in the past. That doesn’t mean I’m going to vanish entirely, spending time painting miniatures is extremely important to me and I’ve no intention of stopping, but – beyond the odd quite spell in the height of summer – I’ve kept up a torrent of posts here over the last couple of years and I don’t foresee myself managing to maintain that. We’ll see how it goes, I would like to tackle a couple of Warcry warbands, some more Necromunda gangs, the rest of the Blackstone Fortress heroes and finally get that Blood Bowl team painted so don’t relax entirely – you haven’t see the last of me!

Whilst we’re at it however, a couple of pieces of housekeeping in regards to the blog. Firstly, as some of you may have noticed, I now have a links section in the side-panel, something I’ve wanted to include for some time. All the people listed are interesting, talented hobbyists and I do highly recommend you check out any or all of them. This is where I go for my inspiration, and these are the people from which I steal all the best ideas and pretend that they were mine to begin with. If you’re a talented blogger yourself and I’ve not included you on the list it’s probably because I’m an airhead and I’ve forgotten, please don’t take it as an insult (if I mean to insult you I’ll come round your house and do it properly). I do intend to keep expanding the list so just keep being awesome and sooner or later I’ll realise I’ve missed you, suffer a twinge of embarrassment and update the list.

Secondly, I’ve discovered that many of the older posts were missing their pictures (a side effect of using various external hosts in the early days and then not moving everything to wordpress as I thought I had). I think I’ve fixed them all but one or two may have slipped through so if you’re reading one of these old posts and you think there ought to be pictures but there aren’t please help me out by leaving a comment to catch my attention and I’ll go and fix it.

Anyway, all that remains is to wish all my readers a happy New Year and here’s to plenty more hobby shenanigans in 2020!


Boyz Will Be Boyz – Part 8

Time to tackle something nice and straightforward that doesn’t require too much brainpower, something to scratch the itch to paint without actually demanding any real effort – and with that remit nothing fits the bill quite so well as a couple of orks!

Ork Boy Convert Or Die

Ork Boys Convert Or Die (3)Ork Boys Convert Or Die (4)


The Year Of The Rat – July

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley

– Robert Burns, To A Mouse…

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Like all Skaven warlords I had a grand and cunning plan, and like all Skaven warlords it went spectacularly and horribly wrong. My scheme was to build up my Skaven army into a filthy horde of clanrats, rank upon rank of the little devils. I’m not usually a batch-painter or a speed painter but I was determined that, by the end of this month, I would have added sufficient rodents to my collection to create a swarm vast enough to terrify all sensible cats and farmer’s wives (regardless of how many carving knives they might be armed with).

I won’t go into the details, they’re far too unpleasant and personal to share here, but suffice to say that real life instead dealt me and my family a vigorous kicking of the kind that puts all other activities on hold. Expect output on this blog to be fairly erratic over the next little while and my apologies if a few projects disappear into the warp for a while.

Regardless the Great Horned Rat often moves in ways that are mysterious to his servants, and when I sat down to count the rats I had managed to paint I found the total to be  a suitably auspicious thirteen.

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But wait, that’s not all. I’ve also managed to cobble together a battle standard bearer for my rats (sorry Age-of-Sigmarites, I still think in old fashioned terminology, dunno what you call the guy who rallies the whole army in this modern era we live in but I do know that anything which discourages my ratties from running away is to be encouraged!). He’s still very much at the tacked-together stage right now with lots still to be done – that Khornate icon needs more work to removed it from the banner for example – but this should give you an idea of the overall concept and direction I’m heading in. As usual feedback and suggested improvements are welcome.

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But wait, that’s still not all! When I uploaded last month’s last minute addition, this Skaven assassin, Azazel noted the similarity between the rune  worked in the guard on the weapon clutched in the rat’s left paw and the rune of Khorne.

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Of course, careful examination reveals that it is intended as the Skaven rune but nonetheless, once seen the Khornate influence is just too obvious to overlook – and as no ratman would ever be brave or foolish enough to dedicate himself to the Blood God it had to go. As it turns out there wasn’t much needed to fix the problem, a couple of quick snips and a bit of touching up and it was done. I did wonder about cutting back the guard a little further to emphasise the look of the Skaven rune but in the end decided to leave it as it is, slightly more subtle and concealed – like the Skaven assassin himself.

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A before and after shot highlights the difference.

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So, perhaps not the glorious expansion that I had planned for my ratmen this month but when it comes to mustering the verminous hordes a few setbacks are to be expected and thirteen completed models are not to be sneezed at. As I always say, any feedback you have is welcome, and fear not – accepting setbacks is a talent all Skaven warlords have to master. I may be less active for a while but you won’t get rid of me that easily!


Dreadnaughts I Have Known

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I painted my first dreadnaught at some indeterminate point in the past, although exactly when is hard to tie down now. Assault on Black Reach had been released and the Orks had drawn me into 40k’s grim darkness at last but I was still unfamiliar with the universe and its protagonists. Having picked up the Black Reach boxset purely for the greenskins within I found myself with a bundle of space marines as well – and almost no interest in painting them. Only a grudging sense of duty got me through the tactical squad, although I admit I tackled the terminators with rather more enthusiasm. The only thing that really grabbed me however was the dreadnaught.

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He’s been tweaked and improved once or twice over the years but even those improvements still look rather old and somewhat lacking in comparison to my modern standard. Still I was hooked, on dreadnaughts if not on space marines. Thus when a friend of mine was clearing out his cupboards and gave me his copy of Assault on Black Reach and the Chaos Space Marines codex I knew straight away that the next dreadnaught I painted would be something much darker, angrier and spikier than before. It was also at this point that I was discovering the joy of converting models and, although there remained much for me to learn, I was well on my way to becoming the kitbashing, greenstuffing heretic I am today.

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Next up was an Ork deff dread – completed mere days before Games Workshop announced the release of the current plastic model. Sadly he was never the best of creations, leaning rather too heavily on Orky qualities of ‘cobble it together and hope for the best’ and now resides in the bottom of the bits box waiting for redemption and reconstruction.

With Dark Vengeance the chaos dreadnaught was reborn as the helbrute; the angry, spikey box of before replaced instead by the fleshy, unnaturally-organic beast of today.

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Of course painting one of them wasn’t enough for me, especially after the release of the putrid blightkings made it possible to create a bloated, Nurgly hulk.

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Nor was that the end of my dreadnaught obsession. Last October feedyournerd ran the Dreadtober event which aimed to encourage as many people as possible to paint a dreadnaught (or similar sized model) in the month of October. Seeing the brilliant work that others were producing provided the spur I needed to crack on and bring this Khornate monster into being.

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At the time I asserted (rather boldly) that if this event happened again I’d be sure to join in. One year on and it’s time to live up to that claim as DreadTober returns. This time responsibility for the event lies with Broken Paintbrush so I’d recommend getting across there to take a look at what’s planned. I’ll be taking on this unfortunate-looking former Crimson Fists dreadnaught. His loyalist masters may have abandoned him to ebay but I feel sure that, with Nurgley and Khornate dreadnaughts already in the bag, he’ll do very well indeed in the subtle embrace of Slaanesh. dreadnaught-convertordie-2

Naturally these events work best when lots of people join in so I encourage (nay – implore!) you to dig your own battered and abandoned dreadnaught projects out of the bitsbox, or take them down from the shelf of shame, and get to work on them. This is their moment!


Battle Hymn

Ok, I admit that I said a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t let anything distract me from Khorne until all the Berserkers were done, but I slipped. After painting Kharn I found myself overexcited about the idea of painting things red (the inner Ork rising to the surface perhaps) and flailed around eagerly until my hand fell on this chap.warrior-priest-convertordie-4

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The priest, although sharing a distinct similarity to Games Workshop’s Empire warrior priests, comes from MOMminiaturas, a Spanish miniatures company who combine low-low prices with excellent quality models and are well worth checking out. One minor issue is that the website is almost entirely in Spanish, which makes the ordering process a little difficult for those of us who don’t speak the language. Then again most people in the world have the same issue with websites in English and they make do without too much complaint so I’d recommend manning up and applying a combination of common sense and the (debateable) charms of google-translate to get you where you need to be. Or better yet, make friends with an actual Spanish person – making repeat orders considerably easier and providing you with a boon companion and all the joy that results from having another human being to share life’s journey with.

As usual comments and feedback are welcome.


Grombrindal Rides Again

White DwarvesJune 1977: a legend is born… I know what you’re thinking but it wasn’t me, I was still seven years away. No the hero of which I speak is the White Dwarf, the magazine which for many of us provided our first peak into the world of fantasy miniatures. Back then Games Workshop was a very different beast to the one that stands astride the gaming world today and the pages of the magazine ranged far beyond the contents of their own stable.

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That first issue opened with the line “Over the past two years the state of the art of wargaming has seen dramatic change”. What they described was the birth of Dungeons and Dragons and the emergence of fantasy and science fiction into the world of gaming. Before that, the editorial asserted, there was nothing but historical miniatures, “only tanks, French Hussars and Ancient Britons” as far as the eye could see. Then suddenly, a revolution, a Big Bang, a singularity from which erupted all the orcs and aliens we know today. It’s quite a claim, and certainly one that puts the dawning of the Age of Sigmar into context doesn’t it?

The really interesting editorial however, when thinking about the recent history of the magazine, came with Issue 3. Describing the success of the first two issues they note “This does not, however, mean that the editorial staff of White Dwarf can become complacent and let the magazine drift into a safe, stereotyped format. We want to keep it alive and bubbling with new ideas and interesting articles. We put into its pages that which we find of interest”. Sadly, many would argue that in recent years this promise has failed to be fulfilled.

I joined the readership of White Dwarf much later of course, with Issue 351 in March 2009.White Dwarf with Stompa

Unlike (I’d suggest) the majority of people, I’d been painting miniatures for a long time already, and even had several years of collecting Games Workshop’s models under my belt before I finally picked up their magazine. Old hands would argue that by then the rot had firmly set in by then, but just as everyone remembers the James Bond of their childhood as the best one* so everyone hails their first White Dwarf as a classic from a golden era of miniatures journalism. All I can say is that Issue 351 ticked a lot of boxes for me; conversion articles on Warhammer heroes and the (then newly released) Stompa, a showcase of several enormous armies, an Ork painting tutorial and a well-rounded article on all things Lizardmen. Best of all there was an enormous battle report in which a ridiculously sized Ork army commanded by six different players took on an equally vast Imperial host across four different gaming tables simultaneously.

*Again, not strictly true in my case – Brosnan never cut it for me.

After that I bought it fairly often, although I didn’t subscribe until October 2012 when the magazine entered its next incarnation.White Dwarf Oct 2012

Straightaway it was clear that this was a classier beast, bigger and thicker than its predecessor, packed with beautiful images and genuinely interesting and readable articles. We had designers’ notes on the new Chaos Marines, painting tutorials, showcases covering painting, converting and terrain, a look back at the development of the Horus Heresy and Jervis Johnson and Jeremy Vetock rambling on (the latter two something of a guilty pleasure to read – I always complained about their wittering but I also always turned to them first…). Best of all there was Army of the Month (on that occasion showcasing the kind of Skaven force I’d feverishly dream about if I was able to eat cheese) and the return of Blanchitsu as a regular feature. To my mind those were the glory days and I’d have been quite happy to see something similar continue forever. Alas it was not to be. On the 1st of February 2014 White Dwarf transformed again. Like an amoeba reproducing it tore itself in two. The monthly edition was replaced by a slimmer weekly to reflect the new weekly release schedule, as well as an image heavy showcase piece entitled Warhammer: Visions.

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To the surprise of no-one at all the internet was chock-a-block with negative reviews, GW-bashing and revisionist history in which a lost golden age was lamented. So vehement was the rage in some quarters that contrariness drove me to want to enjoy the new magazines but it was an uphill struggle. The weekly magazine was hard to get excited about and easy to overlook. With limited space for content there rarely seemed to be enough to warrant making the purchase and even when I did I was generally disappointed. Visions was far better, primarily because it retained Army of the Month and Blanchitsu (both enjoying more space) but the lack of actual text left a lot to be desired and the hefty price tag meant that when my subscription expired so did my interest. For a while it looked like the old dwarf must finally yield to history, swept away by the same digital tide that assails all print media and finally capsized by the disinterest of its captains. Old hands would lament the magazine of their youth and newcomers, if they looked up from their shiny stormcasts at all, would wonder what the fuss was about.

Let’s cast our minds back to that editorial from Issue 3. From being a statement of intent of the most admirable quality it transforms into a prophecy of End Times proportions as the magazine did indeed “drift into a safe, stereotyped format”. Could the editorial staff honestly claim, hand on heart, that it’s pages contained “new ideas and interesting articles” that they “found of interest” – or was it the case that they had in the end become complacent? To the last point at least let’s give them the benefit of the doubt because, whilst I and many others had given up on it, the old dwarf was fighting back.

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Two Khorne worshipping gents enjoy a theological debate on the cover of the newest issue.

The contents of the new White Dwarf, which came through my letter box a couple of days ago, are all over the internet already and much has already been said about this latest iteration of Grombrindal’s august organ (ooh la la!). To my relief all the usual suspects are back; Army of the Month, Blanchitsu, Parade Ground, a Golden Daemon feature, Designer’s Notes, A Tale of Four Persons-Who-Paint-Little-Models, even a terrain feature. Slightly more innovative features include Temporal Distort (a White Dwarf that dares to run the gauntlet of reader nostalgia by comparing itself to an issue from yesteryear! Balls of steel on display there!) and Illuminations, in which GW gives their art department the credit and showcasing they’re so desperately due. Hopefully this latter heralds a resurgent recognition of the value of their artists and no more abominations like the most recent Dark Angel’s codex will be allowed to escape into the wild.

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Having seen the Ruins of Dras’shiel showcased in White Dwarf I sought it out for a closer look at Warhammer World.

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The article explains how the striking jade green buildings were painted, as well as describing how the team experimented and challenged themselves to create something truly outstanding.

There’s also a chunky battle-report, something people have been banging on about wanting to see given proper coverage in the new edition since it was first mooted. Now normally I’m not a big fan of battle reports (in fact I tend to think they’re often unbelievably dull) but the one in Issue 351 (my first issue)  inspired me with its sheer scale and complexity. For one thing the commanders of the two armies (in other words the leaders of each team) were fighting over an orbital fortress ‘The Destroyer Moon’ in a different part of the building to the other players – communicating with their underlings via written notes and photographs. The objective at the heart of the Destroyer Moon was a huge gun which allowed the controlling player to bomb the world below, whilst their teams fought over three boards representing different regions of the beleaguered planet. Flyers zoomed from table to table and every player had his own secret orders which often contradicted those of their team mates (my particular favourite; one player must protect the colonel of his team mate’s Imperial Guard, whilst his team mate needed to martyr him in a glorious and inspiring manner).

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Just a snapshot of the action in Issue 351 as four Chapters of Space Marines, two Imperial Guard regiments and a company of Sisters of Battle take on six Ork clans.

Sadly the battle reports in the issues that followed failed to match this standard. Indeed most showcased a fairly standard set-up in which one side was whatever faction was enjoying a big release that month. Nonetheless they remain a popular staple of the magazine and something that many people have been crying out to see in the new magazine. As someone who’s generally not a fan of battle reports I asked around to get an idea of what people wanted to see. One friend replied “A battle report tells a story about a battle, often within the context of a grand, sweeping campaign. I like to see how it all unfolds and get a chance to see tactics in action, rather than just in theory. So it’s a combination of story-telling and application… I like reading about the players and their reactions to their extreme bad (or good) luck with the dice. There’s always a lone infantryman who refuses to surrender against all the odds and a greater daemon who rolls no wounds in close combat. There’s the sportsmanship, the gamesmanship and the good-natured ribbing.”

It seems that someone must have thought to pass this advice on the team at White Dwarf because their latest showdown – although not a patch on that fondly remembered battle described above – is a vast improvement on the rather stale and formulaic “this guy moved then that guy moved, then we rolled some dice, then some paint dried” tedium that we’ve been wading through since. Effort has been put in  to make the battle look engaging with lots of arrows to show troops moving and snippets of descriptive text to explain key moments. The text itself also strikes a good balance, not getting bogged down in fiddly explanations but ensuring enough clarification is provided that those who’re not familiar with the rules can follow along anyway. Certainly it managed to keep me engaged with the progress of the game and that’s no easy task.

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From the battle report in the new issue: a Stardrake takes on the unenviable task of getting me excited about Stormcasts and succeeds.

The best thing of all about this newest incarnation are the words – there’s lots and lots of them. Visions gave us plenty to look at but if you actually wanted something to read, and an insight into the process behind the models, then there hasn’t been much worth bothering with in recent years. It says it all that my copy arrived a couple of days ago and I’ve still only skimmed it – whilst I powered through the weekly issue in half an hour tops. Welcome back old friend – you’ve been missed.

All images copyright Games Workshop and used without permission.


Pure Hatred – Part 2

As promised here we have the second new Khornate terminator. With this one I wanted a more restrained pose that emphasised the bulk and power that I associate with old-school terminators which could act as a blank canvas to play with. I’ve also wanted to make use of a pair of wrathmonger legs ever since I discovered they fit neatly onto a terminator body, and the rest of the pose flowed naturally from this stance. As ever I’m happy to hear some feedback so let me know what you think in the comment’s box.

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Berserker Terminator KhornevertOrDie (1).Of course, with two new units added to the squad it can only be group-shot o’clock. If you want to find out more about the others in the squad you can look here, here, here and here. ConvertOrDie Khorne Terminator Group Shot


Pure Hatred – Part 1

Before I take on the next batch of berserkers I wanted to give myself a little breather – but without actually deviating from the Khornate theme and wandering off to get lost in the tangled undergrowth of other projects that waits hungrily on the edge of my painting desk. That, I fear, is the way madness lies and so I won’t let anything sway me from my course – not Skaven, or Plague Marines, or those Orks I’ve been meaning to get round to for ages, or indeed anything that does not worship the Blood God with unrelenting fury. However a man cannot paint by power-armour alone and life is at its finest when there are lots of terminators around. Whilst a standard space marine (of either chaotic or loyalist persuasion) takes a little effort to look as good as it should a terminator looks fierce straight out of the box, lording it over its smaller, weaker brothers like the warrior-kings they are (indeed, by giving us access to imposing looking marines for minimal effort painting terminators is in many ways like true-scaling for lazy people!). This blog however doesn’t have ‘convert’ in its name for nothing. Time to start chopping up chaos terminators, khorne berserkers and wrathmongers.

I love the huge flails carried by the wrathmongers and they seem like the perfect weapon for a Khornate terminator – a man who combines the speed, skill and raw strength to wield such a weapon with the uncompromising desire to do as much damage as possible without caring about the danger to himself or any allies that stray too close. If I was writing or painting the scene I’d probably have the heads of flails on fire as well to add to the shock and horror inflicted on the poor guardsmen he’s attacking. However as I absolutely hate sculpted fire I decided to avoid that and stick to straightforward blunt trauma.

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I’m rather pleased with the skull emerging from his armour under the shoulder pad – my little greenstuff reference to the skulls embedded in the flesh of the Age of Sigmar Khorne models.Berserker Terminator ConvertOrDie (5)

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Nor is this angry man alone. His battle-brother is currently standing at the ‘part-painted; looks atrocious’ midway stage of painting but hopefully I’ll get him finished off over the weekend and show him off to you all early next week. In the meantime here’s a ‘pre-primer’ WIP to tide you over.

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As usual comments and feedback are welcome!


All That’s Left Is Blood – Part 4

Fear not gentle readers! I have neither died, fallen into the Warp or been reduced to a gibbering Spawn – although I will admit to having lost momentum a little with my horde of Berserkers over the last week or so, mostly because real life has been gobbling up the time that I might otherwise have been painting. In an effort to get back on track I decided to finish off the last member of my first squad of Khorne Berserkers. You may recall that I had recently decided to split my growing horde of blood-mad warriors into two separate squads of eight men each.  Squad Kadrax – the second squad -– are already well underway but before I go any further with them there’s one last model needed to round out the first squad.

Like all frustrated Warhammer fans I know that no squad is complete without a banner and to my mind there are few things as evocative of the impractically pseudo-medieval quality of 40k than warriors rallying to a flag or an icon of the gods. With that in mind I rounded out the squad with an Icon of Wrath to remind my berserkers that they battle in Khorne’s name and for His glory.

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And there we have it – the Blood Beasts are complete at last and, if all goes according to plan, a second squad is soon to follow. Until then here’s a couple of group shots to keep you going.

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All That’s Left Is Blood – Part 3

A productive weekend has been had tackling the Khornate horde that’s still waiting angrily on the painting desk. No radical conversions here (those will come later), just an irascible man with a big axe.Berserker Axe 1

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And his battle brother, an equally irate chap with a dangerous looking sword.

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The completion of these two got me thinking that the Khornate squad is now getting rather large (thirteen models to be precise) and although I have a predilection for hordes of Chaos Marines I’ve decided to appease the Blood God by dividing the squads into two groups of eight warriors each. Truth be told this is almost entirely an excuse to make a new squad champion without having to retire old Magok Bloodcaller, the current squad champion. The idea has revitalised my interest in Khorne and a new champion is already half-built. Naturally I’ll need some more warriors to fill out the new squad as well so watch this space!