Sunday 28 November 2010

Life in the fast lane

After a good few years of service we've finally retired the old Canister & Grape static site in favour of the blog you're reading now. We've also updated the look, getting rid of the 90's theme. It's almost like we know what we're doing. Almost.


Saturday 27 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the Third

It's done!

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth during the building, but all's well that ends well.

As you can see, the Gorger is all painted and based up now, and I think he's turned out OK, all things considered. Given his muscular definition, and the fact that he's a subterranean monster, I've tried for a high-contrast sallow-skinned look, with purplish shading and a sickly yellow tinge to the highlights.

In recognition of his vague resemblance to a certain star of 70's metal bands and reality television, I couldn't resist adding a little something to the base, viz, a decapitated bat. Here it is clutched in his right hand...

....and here's the bit he spat out.

So Ozzy's done and dusted - at long last!

So let's review the army so far;

  • Tyrant
  • Butcher
  • 6 Bulls
  • 4 Ironguts
  • and the Gorger.
I think we have enough characters for the moment, and I'm getting a bit sick of mucking about with metal, so let's have a change of pace.

A bunch of the little guys, a unit of Gnoblars, is next up. It'll do me good to see another regiment through to completion, so I'll make a start on the 40 or so of these I have stashed away. Although they're crap at fighting, get enough of them and they act as a sort of speed hump (or at least a rucked-up green carpet) for any more mobile enemies that might want to cause problems for the big lads. If they get steamrollered, who cares?

More later.

Sunday 21 November 2010

HOTT Elven Archers

These are a bunch of plastic elves I picked up for a song on eBay - GBP4.99 including shipping to be precise. I bought them to finish off my HOTT "Friends of the Wild Wood", as metal halfling miniatures are proving more than a little difficult to acquire.

Here's how they looked when they arrived. Fortunately there was not much in the way of existing paintwork. I've not seen white(ish) plastics from GW before? Were there ever that many made?

A couple of afternoons later and here is how they look now. Four stands of shooters, 2AP each.

I really must make myself a light box for taking photos as the lamp I use to paint is a very ordinary photographic tool indeed.

Anyway, that pretty much finishes this army off for the time being - 28 points or so now. I really enjoyed painting these and have been lurking about on eBay looking for more stuff to do a full Wood Elf army. This is almost certainly a BAD THING as I have two other HOTT armies sitting ready to go, one of which is High Elves anyway.

Part of what is tempting me is the fact I've finally managed to get my hands of a big bottle of Simple Green, sworn by many as the primo plastic mini paint stripping drop of choice. The thought of being able to pick up any old tat and give it new life is almost too much to be resisted. Will I manage to restrain myself? Only time will tell...


Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part 2.5 - Gorger in Progress

The Gorger proceeds apace, and what an ugly chap he is.

I'm actually feeling more optimistic, and have even given a little thought to dressing him up still further. Basic skin work is done, face roughed out, and assorted bones found and browned as a basecoat.

Here's the story so far;

I decided to give the right thumb a tweak so that he could clutch something in his hand, and I've added something to the base as well. What is it? Ah, that would be telling!

More later.

Monday 15 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the Second: The Gorger

This has been one of the most difficult builds I've ever done. I said last time that this could take a while.

I chose to make the Gorger because he was of a manageable size, and filled a potentially useful slot in the potential Ogre Kingdoms army list. It was either him or the Slavegiant for the rare slot, and I have some big plans for the big guy; but he stayed in the box, and I went with the Gorger instead.

I realise now that "manageable size" does not necessarily mean "manageable". While struggling to drill, pin, cut, fill, and base this monstrosity, I couldn't help paraphrasing Obi-Wan Kenobi, muttering to myself in Alec Guinness-like tones, "He's more green stuff than metal now..."

I finally ground out the torso socket so that the lower half could fit, pinned the join, and ended up with a highly visible seam. It also turned out that top and bottom didn't exactly line up, so lots more cutting, and green stuff, and discreet sculpting of the musculature later, I went on to attach the left arm.

The pose on the model as bought seems curiously stiff, operating in two rather than three dimensions. I decided to try and impart more of a sense of movement by cutting into the elbow and bending the forearm forward and to the model's right. I was quite pleased with the result. This was fortunate, since, as it turned out, it only got harder from here.

OK, let's attach the head; again, pinning to secure the rather pointless ball-and-socket arrangement thoughtfully provided by Citadel's finest. Oh, joy, a seam running right behind the start of his hairline. OK, green stuff, do your... green stuff stuff. I model some straggling hair over the offending joins, but wherever I look, there seem to be more defects to cover. Keep piling it on! Practical upshot, while the joins are now concealed, he's looking more like Ozzy Osbourne by the minute. "Sharon, 'ave you seen my bat...?"

Only the right arm remains to be attached... Bugger it, it won't fit, his right knee is in the way! More cutting, pinning, repositioning, gluing and puttying, and I end up with the Gorger's right hand at a lower level than his right foot. How the f....? When the putty finally hardens, some serious filing will be in order. I like a challenge, but this is ridiculous.

As luck would have it, well-known army painting machine Millsy has published on the topic of basing, so he can back me up on this when I say that a dramatic base can rescue even the wonkiest figure! Now, I know that if I place the Gorger on something elevated, at least the hand can hang over the edge. "Oh yes, I was going for that look the whole time..."

Unlike most of GW's large metal castings, the model lacks the usual peg on the foot to stick him into the base. With a model of this size, this is a recipe for disaster, doubly so given that he's rather top-heavy. So drill and pin the feet, and create a pair of platform clogs out of green stuff to raise him above the base so we can build some rocks around him. The pins stick out of the base of his 'platforms' so that they can be secured to the base.

Now for the rocks. The weather is hot and humid, and the superglue is more like water than an adhesive. I'm sticking my fingers together more often than not, but I eventually get the rocks arranged more or less to my liking. A bit of sand and some decorative whimsy, and he's finally assembled.

So after an hour or so of painstaking basing, he's standing on a rocky outcrop, about to leap upon his prey. Except he looks more like he's lurching up drunkenly after the landlord has called last orders ("Mine's a pint of the black stuff!").

OK, I've seen worse, but a commercially-available figure with this many major gaps and basic lapses in quality control is pretty shabby. Yes, I know that the poor workman blames his tools, but I'm convinced that only an extremely confident modeller (one much more confident than myself) would be able to rescue this from mediocrity. Don't get me wrong, the concept is good, it just seems to have failed in the manufacturing process somewhere. By comparison, the Ogre Maneater figure (the piratey one, also on the to-do list) is cleanly moulded and all the bits fit where they should in the dry run. It's not like Citadel can't produce a decent casting.

I've done all I can with the modelling and basing, perhaps the paint job can give it a lift.

Maybe I'll give him a rest and go back to putting the finishing touches on Briss the Butcher. I'm not that happy with Ozzy right now, so perhaps stepping away for a bit is the best solution. Still, I'm actually building and painting stuff for the first time in ages, so that's got to be a positive!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Painting is Only Half the Job...

I've been working away like a mad man this weekend, modelling like there is no tomorrow in between various domestic tasks and projects. One of the major jobs completed was the basing for two Armoured Rifle Platoons and HQ for my Flames of War (Late War) US Armoured Company. I'll post some pics to back up this post when the light is better for shooting.
All that painting and basing means I had a lot of time to think, keeping the mind busy while the hands were at work. That brings me to my point: basing is just as important as painting, especially with smaller miniatres, say 15mm and under. To my mind there are a number of reasons this is the case. Here's the key ones from my perspective - feel free to add your own as comments.

Pimp It Up!
A miniature is a lot like a car. Anyone can own a plain old sedan but how many people do you know own a car with chrome mags, chop top, fully tricked block and leopard skin apolstery? Maybe that's an exaggeration but you get the point. Make an effort on the base and something ordinary becomes quite extraordinary.

Even better, effort invested in basing can compensate for average painting skills so if you're not the best painter in the world or you want your miniatures painted quickly then decent basing is the go.

Visual Drama
Every miniature's base is an opportunity to add to the drama of the model(s). A paint job says a lot about the model - who or what it is, where's its been before now and more. What it cannot do is put the model in context now. A base does that because it tells a story about where the model is at this very moment and what is happening around it. By chaning the basing style you can change the time, place, season, even the planet!

Decent Miniatures Deserve a Decent Base
You spent a lot of hard earned wonga on those models right? Hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Why would you skimp on the basing when you invest so much elsewhere? It's very easy to make an expensive, well painted model fade into the background with a dull or half finished base.

Basing is Cheap
The core materials for basing are glue, sticks, rocks, sand / plaster and paint. Most of that is either FREE or available at very little cost. All the natural stuff is right outside your door (assuming you live outside a city and even there you can hopefully find a park). The rest is mostly available in discount shops and hardware stores. As an example I use sample pots of paint for basing. One 250ml pot will last years, even at the rate I go through the stuff.

Basing is Easy
The hardest part of basing is the effort of doing it. The actual skills required are simple, easy to learn and can be executed quickly and in a production line method. Some people are a bit better at arranging figures and terrain on a base to reflect an interesting or realistic situation but anyone can space things out, balance materials vs. miniatures, etc.

Bring It All Together
Where there are dfferent units or miniatures in an army the basing is an opportunity to bring the whole force together. That leaves you room to experiment with different paint schemes between units without things looking like a mad woman's breakfast.

Ego Massage
Let's face it, one of the best parts of being a gamer is showing off that new toy to your mates. How much more impressed will they be when the base is every bit as good as the paint work? There's nothing more encouraging than compliments and every time you get one it will spur you on to even greater heights.

Vive la Difference
Unless you're lucky enough to be able to scuplt you're going to be stuck more or less with the same models everyone else has, me included. Even some conversion work or green stuff can only make your miniatures so much different from what everyone else can buy. Not so with basing. Your bases are entirely your own, bringing a uniqueness to your models. Every single base can be different in hundreds of ways from materials to composition.

And That's Enough...
I can think of a good few more reasons to base well - re-sale value, protection for the miniatures, simple enjoyment and more but that wil do for now. Hopefully if you've read this it will encourage you so make a bigger effort next time you're basing your miniatures. If you do get stuck in please leave a comment and a link so others can enjoy and get inspired. Thanks for reading!


Thursday 11 November 2010

Confessions of a Myopic Procrastinator, Part the First

I'm not what you'd call an efficient painter of figures.

I never seem to have enough time to paint an army to completion these days, and as a result, I have a lot of half-completed armies lying around. The last army I completed was a Warhammer Empire army back in 2000 (now lost), and since then I've accumulated figures for various others without really settling on one particular target.

I'm too easily distracted, and by the time I get home from work, my energy levels are just about up to cooking dinner and sitting back with a good documentary or movie. And now I'm all out of excuses.

A few years back, I chanced upon the GW Ogre Kingdoms figs. I thought they're nice big figures, suitable for painting by a chap with failing eyesight, they're mostly plastics, so the price is kept down, and if by chance I ever get to play with them, I won't need a horde to make an army. Genius!

I began my army and got as far as a Tyrant, a couple of regiments of the big lads (6 and 4 figs respectively) and got started on some Gnoblars, whose tiny size meant that I was stuck at that stage for quite a while.

Well, what with the eyesight having deteriorated to the point where even Ogres were getting to be a big ask, and getting married, taking an overseas honeymoon, and setting up a new house together at long last with my lovely wife, the whole army thing kind of moved to the back burner. And yes, well-spotted, more excuses right there.

So a couple of months ago, I decided to get some new glasses. Multifocals are a revelation; my close vision is restored, so no more holding books at arm's length! Even better, I might be able to get started on the army once more...

So that's where I am now. The army as it stood a couple of weeks ago consisted of a Tyrant (Army general and pretty much the ultimate multi-wound combat monster when tooled up properly), 6 Bulls (standard Ogre footsloggers), and 4 Ironguts (heavies with 2-handed weapons).

This motley crew has now been joined by an overnight wonder, the Butcher. I was going for a look of ground-in dirt and blood on this guy, and I finished him from undercoat to this point in the course of a day. Clearly revelling in my new-found vision, I even gave him a couple of Gnoblar assistants.

I think he needs a little more work, most notably on the exposed skin, to give it a bit more highlighting. Needs to look a little more unhealthy, perhaps? We'll see how that goes further down the track...

Next project, the Gorger, an unbreakable killing machine who arrives after the battle has kicked off to take the enemy in the rear (cue Frankie Howerd leer).

This one isn't as straightforward as the Butcher (and he certainly needed a lot of putty gap-wise). The Gorger has a lot of flash, and in some awkward places. It's nearly impossible to shift without a drill, since the socket for the upper torso is almost completely blocked. You get the same problem with the arms and head, so there's a lot of cleanup work required before he's ready for assembly. Pinning is definitely on the menu as well, since I don't trust the way he's put together.

I hope this isn't an ongoing problem with Citadel's metal miniatures; their plastics have been improving all the time, but I'd hate to think they've dropped the ball with the bigger multi-part metal castings.
I'm probably going to be a while with this one...
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