Tag Archives: Skaven

Rodents Of Unusual Size – January

Back at the tail end of 2016 I found myself looking at my Skaven collection and wondering what to do with them. I’d loved the ratmen for a very long time, indeed the first miniature I ever owned was a skaven given to me by a friend when I was just a nipper, and my verminous host was long overdue for paint. Indeed, inspired by dreams of Skavenblight’s dominance I bought another friend’s army when she decided to get rid of it and added a whole new mountain of grey plastic to the one I’d already accrued myself. Now the thought of actually climbing that mountain appeared beyond my capabilities, it was just so vast a task that I found myself doubting I was up to the challenge. Enter “The Year of the Rat”.

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My challenge to myself was simple – every month of 2017 I would finish something for my Skaven collection, no matter how small or insignificant. Some months it was indeed next to nothing, others I managed to churn out a reasonably sized host, but no matter the result the ball kept rolling, the army kept growing and I started to believe that I could do this, that someday I would be general to a rat army not a shameful, unpainted blob. By the time 2017 rolled to a close I didn’t want it to end, and I feared that without this goal to keep things rolling my Skaven would soon stall. Of course the answer had to be – why stop at all? In spite of the progress I’d made there are still plenty of unpainted rats waiting for attention. I may not have reached the summit of that unpainted mountain in 2017 but I’d crossed the foothills, now it’s time to shoulder my metaphorical pack once more and make for the summit.

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At the same time as I was making the decision to forge onwards with my rats Azazel of Azazel’s Bitz Box blogged about Painting Decemb-uary, a hobby challenge which takes some effort to say and is damn near impossible to spell. Essentially the idea is to make use of the Christmas/New Year holiday and, for those of us in the northern hemisphere, the darkness of midwinter that keeps us indoors anyway, to paint something big. Whilst some hobbyists are naturally drawn to the big, impressive kits and struggle to finish a single foot-soldier others – and I count myself amongst their number – can paint infantrymen until the cows come home but fly into a panic at the sight of anything larger than a dreadnaught. Azazel’s challenge to us was to tackle those centrepiece models that we otherwise cower from, and I knew just the one I wanted to take on; the Screaming Bell.

If I had my time again one thing I’d definitely do differently is the building of this kit. I bought it fully assembled and, somewhat foolishly, thought that meant the job was partway done already. Heed my advice if you’re planning a screaming bell of your own because this proved to be a real error and an unmitigated headache. By trying to paint the model fully assembled (bar the grey seer himself who’d broken off along the way) I found myself struggling with numerous sections which proved next to impossible to reach with a paintbrush. Worse the open appearance of the model means that rather than being hidden these awkward corners are displayed for all to see, making getting in to fix them was even more imperative, if no less difficult. Hopefully my perseverance paid off although I’m still dreading the (highly likely) possibility that one of you will spot a section I’ve missed. If you do feel free to hoist me by my own habit of encouraging conversation on this blog and draw my attention to my error in the comment’s box. I’ll even thank you (albeit through gritted teeth…)

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Of course the completion of such an imposing centre-piece model is a fine excuse for another group shot, even if it is only a month since the last one.

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Once again my thanks to Azazel for setting up this challenge and giving me the push to get this model finished. If you’re not already familiar with his blog I really do recommend you take a look, both for the quality of his own work and to see the creative output of everyone else who joined in with Painting Decemb-uary.

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The Year Of The Rat – December

And so, as the lights go down on 2017, it’s time for a final update on the progress of my Skaven army. Roughly a year ago I made a promise, to add something to my Skaven army every single month in 2017 – even if it was only a lone clanrat. For too long my dreamed-of verminous horde was nothing more than unpainted, unlovely grey plastic. At times I would pick up a model or two and get painting but the scale of the task was too great and time and again they were set aside in favour of more immediate projects, or the next idea to captive my feverish imagination. By setting a modest target however I kept the ball rolling, I forced myself to keep picking up those rats and stopped the motivation from guttering out. Of course some months I managed more than others (turning out just a single model in November, compared with a rather more inspiring 14 In July) but all in all it’s been enough to transform my Skaven collection from this…

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…to this…

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In old Warhammer money that’s a tidy little army of 1151 points. I’m afraid I’m still behind the times with Age of Sigmar so I’m not sure what it tallies up to nowadays but it looks good to my eye anyway.

Indeed so pleased am I by the success of this little project that I’ve decided to do it all again next year (albeit under a new title – “The Second Year of the Rat” would sound a bit silly and, as keeps being pointed out to me, this wasn’t the year of the rat anyway). However before we get onto that let’s take a look at what I’ve managed to add this month.

I decided to make December all about finishing squads (or at least bringing them up to fighting strength – despite the fact that I’m highly unlikely to play any games with them any time soon). Most in need of bolstering were the stormvermin who gained a banner last month but still needed a Fangleader…

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…and a musician.

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With the squad’s commanders suitably bolstered the whole pack is ready for action.

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That done I turned my attention to the hulking rat ogres that act as the muscle for the army. In my opinion these are some of the ugliest models still in the GW range (against stiff competition from the likes of the zombies and the Khorne berserkers). The best I could hope to do was turn their ugliness to my advantage and try to create something in keeping with the hideous lab-experiments that the Skaven use as shock troops. After all if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and if you can’t make something less ugly try making it more ugly.Skaven Convert Or Die (23)

Two heads are better than one and all that.

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Back in May I added a warpfire thrower to support one of my clanrat squads so, in the interests of preventing any inter-squad jealousy boiling over in vicious backstabbing, I decided it was about time I added a poison-wind mortar to accompany the other.

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That may be all the finished models for this year but there’s still plenty to come for my verminous horde. Lurching its way onto my painting desk comes a rather bigger model than I usually tackle, the wonderfully ramshackle screaming bell. This one’s been waiting for a coat of paint for a while and, thanks to Azazel of Azazel’s Bitz Box its time has come at last.

In order to encourage his fellow hobbyists to tackle those bigger, centre-piece kits that tend to get pushed to the back of the shelf (something I’m extremely guilty of) in favour of smaller and easier to completely infantry models, Azazel has inaugurated Decemb-uary. The aim of the exercise – simply to get a big model painted up between the start of December and the end of January. As it stands the bell still has a fair way to go but the early layers and down, the first washes are applied and the whole crumbling edifice is slowly rolling in the right direction.

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Whilst the bell itself still needs a lot more work before it can be called complete the grey seer that rides on it is pretty close to being finished (unless of course someone points out a glaring flaw that I’ve overlooked).

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Beyond that I’m planning to paint up a warlord to replace Queek at the head of the army, the battle standard bearer I showed back in July, a few ramshackle warmachines and, of course, lots and lots of clanrats. Roll on 2018!


The Year of the Rat – November

So after being fairly productive last month I only managed to finish a single Skaven in November. He does have a rather nifty banner though.

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The Year of the Rat – October

After a few quiet months things have been a lot more productive for my Skaven over the last few weeks. For those who’re new to this project, I’ve been collecting Skaven for a number of years (since the release of the most recent army book for Warhammer in fact, which was quite some time ago now). However the actual painting was proceeding at a snails pace – something only exacerbated when I purchased a friend’s collection and the pile of unpainted plastic grew overnight into a mountain. In order to remedy this situation I’ve challenged myself to paint something new for my Skaven army every month in 2017 – even if only a single clanrat. Truth be told some months I’ve come pretty close to achieving only that minor goal but, I’m pleased to announce, this month wasn’t one of them.

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This brings the current clanrat total up to sixty – which means it’s high time for a celebratory group shot.

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That’s not all however, this month I also managed to reinforce my stormvermin squad with four more of the rat elite.

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Now much as I like the models I’m not sure I find stormvermin that much fun to paint – they’re jagged, vicious little things that fought back almost constantly, jabbing me painfully in the fingers with their various spikes every time I tried to handle them. That said I’m already planning a second squad, this time made up of the albino guards of the Council of Thirteen. Before that however this squad will need a command group to finish them off.


The Year of the Rat – September

With real life continuing to be busy, time for painting in short supply and my available energies focussed on the 41st Millennium, my Skaven army has suffered another month of less than inspirational growth. Still, every rat is another body to expend in the pursuit of victory for Skavendom so here’s two more ready to connive their way into the rearmost ranks of the ratty advance.

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Speaking of ranks, those who still think in old fashioned warhammer terms will be pleased to discover that the addition of these two scabrous vermin adds another rank to my block of spear-rat infantry. I myself sit in a rules no-man’s land, not being particularly familiar with either ruleset, but my rats still sit on square bases and I still think of them as living in the Warhammer world rather than the Mortal Realms.

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What’s more my hulking, ugly rat ogre may still be awaiting the arrival of a brother to fight alongside him but at least now I’ve recruited a handler to keep him lumbering in roughly the right direction and stop him from eating anyone who the packmaster hasn’t earmarked as a direct threat or rival (which, now I think on it, will be a slim list indeed in the cruel and complex world of Skaven society).

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The Year Of The Rat – August

With real life shenanigans ongoing I’ve not had a lot of time behind the painting desk this month, with the result that my Skaven output has been rather low this time round. Still – I promised at least one rat per month in 2017 and on this occasion that’s exactly what you’re getting. Fingers crossed normal service will resume in time for a more sustained output in September.

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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!