Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Epic Squat Project

If that headline isn't enough to to make you wonder what you're in for clicking the link then I don't know what would. Fortunately for yours truly Google is smart enough to work out what I mean when I type "Epic Squats".

Not these EPIC squats! The other ones!

OK, so anyone who hangs around me or has read the blog for a while knows I have a soft spot for the left-field and/or less popular faction from any given game system or genre. That being the case, if a collection of models was produced by Games Workshop in the late 80s to early 90s and is now loooong OOP, plus the race behind the models was subsequently (and unfairly!) killed off in their 40K fluff I'm more than likely going to be interested.

That brings us to the Squats in Epic Armageddon, GWs mass combat game that was so specialist and so popular and so *not* 40K it had to die. Squats eh? Dead race? Tick! Long OOP? Tick! Hard to find? Tickety-tick! Comparatively expensive to collect? Tickety-flipping-tick! Never actually an official list even though they made the models? Tickety-tickety-dang-tickety-boo! Heck, they've got the lot! Like a Labrador outside a pie factory on baking day there was zero chance I was going to be distracted by something else once I came across these wee chaps...

Anyway, over the last couple of weeks I've been faffing about the painting table desperately searching for my mojo and guess what? I found it painting little hairy space men and their over-compensatingly large vehicles and weapons red-white-black. Here's a sample...

That's better. Although the buns were admittedly rather nice...

So this is the beginning of yet another slightly mad project. Once I get a shipment of bases from Martin and Diane at Warbases I will really kick into it but for now I'm just enjoying myself again at last. Stay tuned!

PS. Yes that *is* Snow White painted on the nose of the airship 1940's bomber style. What else would Space Dwarves [ahem!] Squats paint on there?


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Soooooo........ Reaper Bones...

If you've not heard of Reaper Miniatures' "Bones" project you may well be the last person alive who hasn't. Since it was launched it has been something of a phenomenon. Yours truly was sorely tempted by the Kickstarter but in the end resisted. I'm glad I did. Read on for why...

Last week I thought I'd give Bones a stab and duly picked up a handful on the cheap whilst at MOAB. Some where unwanted figs from someone else's Kickstarter, some where from the blister range. Having now spent a bit of time with them I've got some seriously mixed feelings and thought I'd share them to see what people think and what kind of opinion others have of the Bones range....

POSITIVE. This one's a winner obviously. You can't argue with a list price around 50% (or less) or the equivalent miniature in pewter. What's not to like?

Detail Level
POSITIVE. Again, a winner. Despite the fact they are plastic the detail is right up there and I've found there is no discernible difference between the plastic and the pewter.

POSITIVE. As they are for the most part copies of existing Reaper Minis and therefore from the same stable of sculptors the miniatures are as a rule quite lovely sculpts. Lots of character, interesting poses and not too bad scale-wise. OK, some are gigantic but I could see that before I bought them.

Plastic Material
NEGATIVE. They're bendy. Like seriously bendy. Much bendier than I had expected. Which is fine for the majority of the miniature but I found removing mold lines a pain. Painting small or thin parts like weapons and belts was also seriously tedious as the miniature flexed away from even the gentlest brush strokes making a smooth finish very difficult to achieve.

Why Are They Standing on a Soap Box?
NEGATIVE. The bases are thick. Amongst the thickest I've seen for some time and out of step with what the majority of manufacturers are capable of. I've had to apply gloop around the base to avoid a noticeable step between the figure and the rest of the base. Something I never normally have to do and which just added more time.

Applying Paint
NEGATIVE. This one's the killer. I read plenty about prep beforehand and am generally quite careful. Unfortunately despite that my preferred enamel spray primer remained extremely tacky no matter how long I left it. This lead to a lot of bleeding and certain brands of paint, especially Citadel, to require multiple coats. In one case even a fifth coat of paint still cracked the following day. Now I've heard tell you can apply paint directly to the plastic but why would you if you really like to paint? My preferred primer gives a consistent, smooth surface which paint adheres to really well and which helps me produce a consistent standard at a great pace. Note: To be fair regards cracking and bleeding, the current Citadel paint range is also awful and I'm replacing them but still other paints like Vallejo and P3 had similar issues...

EDIT: I've just taken some photos of how easily the paint rubs off. One good swipe of my thumb and my golem is back to bare plastic.

Paint rubs off easily. Most likely a primer issue but why the issue to begin with?

Paint cracks and bleeds over time. This is just a couple of days. How about a week from now? A month? A year?

Over all, NEGATIVE. I'm NOT a fan. I didn't enjoy painting them, all the extra effort extended the time required considerably and in the end the result is nothing I can't get from metal or traditional plastics. If I worked out a cost benefit then my time lost cost a lot more than I saved in the purchase price.

Who else has painted them and what do you think? I'm really curious to see if I'm the only one who is more than a little underwhelmed.

PS. A rant for a 300th post? Sure, why not :-)


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

6mm Sci-Fi Terrain

I've been scratching about looking for projects or even just odd jobs to try and win back a bit of modelling mojo.

I'm slowly getting there and when I couldn't sleep this morning the following items of terrain for 6mm sci-fi / Epic Armageddon got completed at long last. They are made entirely from wombled items from my terrain bits box, including lids, tyres, gears, pipes, plastic nuts and even a toy chest.

Power generators / reactors / things that might explode

Command bunkers / ammo stores / things that might also explode

Not too shabby for something that cost next to nothing, took very little effort and which I enjoyed putting together and painting. In terms of the generators there is little to identify the scale so the can easily be used anywhere up to 28mm too.

In other news I've also been working on some fantasy miniatures I picked up last weekend at MOAB in Sydney including some Reaper Bones. I've got mixed feelings regards those but an explanation can wait til I post the finished items.

Lastly, I've just realised this is the 77th post this year which equals last year's total. It looks like we might break the 100 post mark this year for the first time and as we're currently sitting on 197 followers I'd say we'll break the 200 mark there as well. To everyone who pops by or follows a big thanks.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Old Dogs, New Tricks, So Throw Me A Frickin' (Reaper) Bone Here

I'll be honest, I'm the kind of painter who pretty much plays it safe where technique is concerned.

I tend to paint in a very straightforward style, lots of emphasis on layering rather than blending (acrylics always dry too quickly for me to get a proper handle on that particular method), and I don't tend to move outside my comfort zone.

Until now.

I've seen some of the work being done around the place by talented painters who have mastered the Non-Metallic Metal (NMM) technique, and it looks brilliant. I am filled with admiration for those individuals who, as if by some sort of alchemy, can transmute grey paint into silver. or browns and tans into gold.

For a while now, I've been telling myself that I'd never do anything as cool as that, ever. But then I thought, "well, if you never try, you'll never know one way or the other." So I grabbed a Reaper Bones Battleguard Golem at my local gaming emporium, figuring that it was

a) a figure with enough metallic surfaces to practice NMM on,

b) sufficiently detailed to make it interesting, and

c) cheap, so if I screw up, no harm done.

The figure is a nice sculpt, and puts me in mind of the old D&D Eberron setting's Warforged PC race. A bit different to working with metal, resin, or hard plastic though, as the softer plastic from which it is cast poses some challenges when trying to get rid of mould lines; it certainly doesn't lend itself to being filed. On the plus side, if any part of the figure is bent out of shape, it can easily be repositioned if you quickly dip the affected area in very hot water and then run it under the cold tap once you're happy with the new look. To give you an idea, my own figure was armed with a wickedly sharp banana until I went to work with the kettle - he's now wielding a straight sword again.

Deciding to go for a 'steel' finish, I undercoated in black, I mixed equal parts Citadel Abaddon Black with the old paint range's Shadow Grey, and applied it as the base layer. I gave it a wash of Badab Black ink and waited for it to dry completely before going on to the next stage.

Adding more Shadow Grey to the base coat mix, I worked it up through progressively lighter layers and began adding small quantities of Space Wolves Grey, which was used on its own to provide edge highlights to the individual armour plates.

Here's the result so far;

"Blue(ish) Steel!"
Of course, he IS a work in progress...

I'd like to be able to give him a few glints of light on the most salient points of his armour, but I'll need to study the fall of light more closely to determine the best course of action from here. and that there magicky-lookin' sword will need something REAL special. Ye Gods, will this figure see another first for Ev, namely Object Source Lighting...?

I'll just have to keep going and see where this takes me!.

Stay tuned...


Saturday, September 27, 2014

ECW Cavalry Skirmish at Scratchy Knob

Today I played out the third battle in our ongoing long-distance ECW campaign using Victory Without Quarter. You can download the scenario for Scratchy Knob here. This one was an all cavalry encounter between two roughly balanced forces. Parliament were outnumbered by one squadron but had one more trained squadron to compensate. If either commander could drive his opponent from the field by night they would be the victor.

The Parliamentary commander (Adam) instructed his horse to hold a line between the heavily wooded Srcatchy Knob and the copse across the road. He determined to let the Royalists come on in their usual fashion and counter charge when the opportunity presented itself. The Royalist commander (yours truly) elected for a frontal charge with 2/3 of his force and a small flanking manoeuvre with two squadrons.

Initial dispositions, Royalists on the left, Parliament on the right

Due to the vagaries of the card activation system the Royalist charge was fragmentary and less effective than it might have been. The low quality nature of troops on both sides however meant that counter-charges were few and far between.

Royalists advance

Royalists begin to charge home while Parliament do nothing?

My initial expectation that Raw horse would favour poorly vs. Trained horse was only somewhat correct. Being caught at the halt is a far greater crime. The greatest crime of all however is failing to save hits in combat!

In the thick of it!

As both Adam and I predicted this quickly descended into a slogging match. Initial early gains by the Royalists were overturned by some lucky dice rolling by Parliament. Even the arrival of the Royalist flanking force did little to effect the balance.

Flank charges galore but to little effect

A long, slow grind until night falls

The combat see-sawed back and forth with neither side able to establish a winning majority on any one part of the field. Eventually Parliament lost 3 of their 6 squadrons (all raw) and the Royalists 2 (all trained) but the quality of respective losses kept things even.

As darkness fell the Royalists clearly had the upper hand as you can see in the last photo, but the Parliament commander was able to scurry away with his tail between his legs as night closed in.
A draw then, but who would be the more happy to report the outcome to headquarters?

Once again Victory Without Quarter proved to be a robust, fast system with plenty of period flavour.
I think I will add a negative for being flank charged to make combat a little more direct. I was surprised there wasn't one in the rules to begin with to be honest. Only a minor quibble and I love the rules overall.

Stay tuned for the next instalment...

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