Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Blood Axe Boyz (Part 2)

Made some progress on these boyz in that these models now have color on them.

"Da only col'ah dat matterz is green!"
I proceeded with the plan as layed out in Part-1. I started out with a Priming Base Coat of Tamiya Khaki. A color I originally purchased for use with my Bolt Action models but first used on my Blood Axe Dreadnought last year.

"I'm so KHAKI!"
That was done in late July of this year. Work and other projects have taken my time in the interval. It is now the 3rd of September and I found a few loose hours that allowed me to add the next stage, which is Caliban Green, that I applied to the skin areas.

Caliban Green skin.

Next was a layer of Goblin Green.

Goblin Green layer.

Followed by a mix of Green Ink, Yellow Ink and three drops of water. I mixed it until it was about the color of anti-freeze, and then I glazed the flesh areas.

Glazed in glorious green!

...and that's as far as I have gotten so far, there are about three more layers to go and the ork flesh will be complete. And obviously there is quite a bit more to go besides just that, so watch out for the next update.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Review: Inquisitor

Inquisitor (Book One of the Inquisition War Trilogy by Ian Watson.  This book was first published in 1990. The original printing was filled with amazing black and white illustrations by some of the best GW artists of the time. Particular works by John Blanche and Adrian Smith stand out strongly in my recollection. It was reprinted a few times, sans illustrations, until it was re-edited, reprinted and re titled Draco by the Black Library. It was the first full-length novel to take place in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

In recent times I have heard it mentioned a lot on podcasts, particularly in regards to a few...overly descriptive lurid scenes. In fact, these scenes have even over-shadowed the entire work to the point that saying "Ian Watson" incites a barrage of moans and groans on these podcasts. So what's going on with that? Well, when this book was written and released, the market Games Workshop was catering too was a bit more mature, the Realm of Chaos books were vile and edgy for their day. GW was just as focused on producing death metal albums as sound tracks for their games as they were with partnering with Milton Bradley to cater to a broader audience. It's safe to say in hindsight that they were finding their way. Just a few years later ownership would change and the focus would be tightened up and the images would be as well. This book was a product of those darker visions aimed at a more mature audience.
"Shaken, not stirred." -Draco. 

But it was a highly influential work, one whose echos still resonate in the 40k setting to this day.

I first read this book in the spring of '94 while in art school. The edition I read had the illustrations in it, and I have always felt that these are among John Blanche's best work. Of particular fun is the fact that he based Draco off of Sean Connery's character from Red October*. As a result I found it difficult then to read his lines without invoking a Sean Connery accent. (Seriously, say "exterminatus" with the Connery Scottish accent. Delicious, yes?) In fact, as I read these lines again this year, I found myself doing it again: "In an Imperium of  a million worlds, what does the death of one world matter in the cause of purity?" Fun stuff, but I do digress,

What is this book about, and why is it still such a big deal? Well, beyond the fact that it's old and was written during the early molding of the now established Warhammer 40,000 lore, there's the previously mentioned lurid scenes, but really it's the over-all story involving the Inquisition. Or rather the Hidden Inquisition. Crazy stuff, that challenges itself to be canonical now just as much as it did when it was written.

Ad for the Boxtree reprint.**
Needless to say, SPOILERS are ahead.

We start with an introduction to the book that is a first person prologue that sort of sprinkles spoilers into it immediately. It's a weirdly arrogant introduction where Draco tells us that he is going to reveal his story but not tell it in 1st person for some reason. -It's weird.

The story opens up properly where we find Draco and his entourage camped out in a luxurious hotel room in the capitol city of Vasilariov on the planet Stalinvast. Note at this point the near flamboyant lifestyle of Draco and his entourage, even if they are masquerading as a Rogue Trader and his crew, they are embracing the role a bit too aggressively. Inquisitor Baal Firenze, we'll call him Draco's boss for the sake of simplicity, has sent him here to assess the campaign of another Inquisitor, Inquisitor Harq Obispal, who is waged a military campaign against a Genestealer Cult uprising. After this campaign is concluded, a curious fellow,  Zephro Carnelian, a.k.a., the Harlequin Man, essentially hacks Draco's Emperor's Tarot to lead him to another city's underhive. There he reveals the tentacled entity seemingly made from the immaterium called the  Hydra. Detecting that this is capable of infiltrating the entire planet, Draco senses that this threat is very much real, but upon returning to his posh hotel room, he discovers his navigator is bound up (he pooped his pants in the meanwhile, Watson needed us to know this, but honestly, it's not unrealistic but still...) and that his Jokaero spying equipment has been stolen.

Meh'lindi by John Blanche.***
 Draco resorts to calling Carnelian's bluff in the most grimdark way imaginable. He visits the Imperial Governor's palace in order to borrow his Astropath. As he relays the order to call down Exterminatus to the planet of Stalinvast, the Hydra coils are noted to retract almost immediately. Obviously he is being spied upon by the master of the Hydra, and orders the Astropath not to send the Exterminatus order. The Astropath is tricky old witch and is able to psychically implant a homer into The Harlequin Man without him knowing.  Joining Draco's entourage the Astropath leads Draco and crew to a Space Hulk in the Warp, but not before informing Draco that she sent the Exterminatus order anyway. Because she hated the people there.

On the Space Hulk Draco and crew encounter not just the Harlequin Man, but Inquisitor Harq Obispal and Baal Firenze who are part of a group of even more Secret Inquisitors calling themselves Ordo Hydra. Draco is essentially press-ganged into service with this Ordo, and presented with a piece of the Hydra to take with him. Their goal is spread the Hydra around the galaxy so as to one day enthrall all of humanity with it so that they may be better controlled. It's a plot Draco is not a fan of, and immediately begins plotting against it.

Renegades from Chapter 13, by A. Smith
After ejecting the box with the hydra piece into space, Draco is compelled to go to the Eye of Terror to seek out the origin of the Hydra. His Emperor's Tarrot guides him to a Slaaneshi Daemonworld where they encounter Queem Malagnia and a motley host of other degenerates before being attacked by the Harlequin Man. But before I go into that, I need to point out why this is one of the most controversial piece of literature in all of the 30 year history of Warhammer 40,000. Without quoting it directly or getting too caught up in it all, let's just say that it seems clear that Ian Watson loved this place and these creatures. To be fair, yes, his source material was Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness which was rich with Slaaneshi innuendo, but it was Watson that pushed on through and went full-hedonist. For example It takes him about three full pages just to describe the appearance of the renegade warband. The monstrous Queen Malagnia (I'm both thankful and bummed that this character was never made into a model) whose massive breasts deflated when her nipple rings were removed, to describing the Slaaneshi Daemon city itself as being a metropolis of buildings shaped like sex organs that are in a state of grinding engagement. It's both a fascinating thing to imagine, assuming one is fascinated with learning about the contents of someone's sexually frustrated nightmares. Say what you will about Watson, but it was Adrian Smith that took it a bit further and attempted to illustrate all of this! (see the Renegades image). This image, by the way, was also printed as a full page spread in Realm of Chaos: Lost and the Damned. So GW, at the time, was pretty much all right with this so long as the images weren't too explicit.

The Emperor's Gate by John Blanche.
After realizing that they have burnt their bridge with Ordo Hydra before they could even get off of it, Draco and team flee the Eye of Terror and go straight to Holy Terra itself. Draco gets the idea that the only one he can go to is the Emperor himself. Did I mention already that this guy is a bit arrogant? The final chapters of the book is a about their journey to Terra and through the massive chambers of the Imperial Palace to reach the throne room itself. It's still a fascinating read, as it was the first attempt to really describe the Imperial Palace in a novel. After murdering their way through the various walls of the palace they eventually reach the Emperor himself. They psychic conversation between the Emperor of Mankind and Draco is...weird.

The story pretty much ends here, with an Epilogue that sort of dismisses the whole story as if it was a hoax. A stand that I think the Black Library has mostly embraced. Oh, and that Draco is now a Renegade Inquisitor wanted for blowing up Stalinvast.

  • Did I like it? Oddly, I like it now more than I did at the time. It's rooted in the 40k lore as it was circa 1990****, and since this is when I fell in love with this game and setting, I feel quite at home here, sans the sexual over/under tones.  
  • Was it hard to put down? Actually no, it's a surprisingly engaging book. Particularly this second go around. 
  • Could I care about the characters? Yes, although I found myself mostly concerned about Meh'lindi, especially after her "psychic rape" by the Harlequin Man. The male characters were a bit likable with their personality quirks and flaws, but in the end their mutual carnal desire for Meh'lindi made them all seem like lecherous predators waiting for their first opportunity to bed her, which is something only Draco himself manages to achieve (Yes, this book has a sex scene). It was disturbing then, and creepier now. 
  • Did the writer truly grasp how the 'world' of the 41st millennium works in the sense that it doesn't betray or retcon previously established (as I know it) lore? Or is this the work of a hack ? To be fair, with exception to the short story pieces that appeared in the game books or White Dwarf, there wasn't much else to go on back when this was written. Ian Watson's work played in a hand in establishing the lore and feel of the 40k universe at this time. 
  • Was I being talked down too? Absolutely. The first time I read this book I found the tone to be arrogant and aloof. The fact that I needed a dictionary to navigate through this thing was a distraction for sure. Here are a few random quotes to help illustrate what I mean:  "...cloacal effuvium of sewers." and "...since those selsame entities had agglutinated from out of the foul passions of once-living souls." I have seen other reviews of this book where this abuse by thesaurus was also a negative sticking point.  Rereading this thing 25 years later this was less of a challenge to me and I got through it just fine. Either my vocabulary has simple grown since those times or I too, have become an arrogant, aloof prick...
  • How predictable is this story? If you like unpredictable, this is your book! In fact, there isn't so much a plot as it is a stumbling of circumstances. 
  • Do I recommend this book? Hmmmm... yes, but only if you have the mindset to encounter slaaneshi nightmares, and don't get hung up on things like Imperial Guard having Land Raiders (because back then, they did). Most will tell you that this is a bad book. I don't think it is. But this book is not recommended to be someone's introduction to the 40K setting. It's age does show (although, in many ways it does still stand up) and is properly more suited as a curiosity for collectors and people with Rogue Trader era nostalgia.  
  • How do I get this book for myself? I mentioned earlier that this book was reprinted by the Black Library and they took many editorial liberties with it, changing things to fit in better with the modern lore and retconing the Squat character by turning him into a Techpriest. I haven't read this version and I am reluctant to do so. Also, the character no longer looks like Sean Connery... anyway, you can find this in an omnibus called The Inquisition War or as individual books. This book is now sold as Draco but again, this is the altered version. Say what you may about this author, I do prefer to read the intended work vs. the altered version as changed by editors. If I do read this version I may write a comparison review. 
The Black Library edition.

*Citation: White Dwarf 139 July 1991, Illuminations-John Blanche.

**Snippet from Games Workshop house ad from White Dwarf #160 April 1993.

*** This image of Meh'Lindi was photocopied from a first print edition of this book white I was in art school back in '94, solely for the intent of inspiration and reference. It sat above my drawing table on a wall for about 15 years before I took it down, thus the aged tone. I am glad I kept it as I have been unable to find any version of this piece anywhere online.

**** "GW gave me all the manuals existing as of about 1990 plus printouts of material still under development, regarding Necromunda for instance, and the Eldar; not to mention a stream of White Dwarfs where such material was appearing bit by bit. I was very well briefed, and in fact I still have all that material in a couple of boxes. Writing 40K required encyclopaedic study, whereas medieval Warhammer could be generic fantasy within the less enormous medieval Warhammer setting." -Ian Watson, via ianwatson.info/a-bundle-of-interviews.

Imagines and text snippets are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for review purposes and are not intended as a challenge to Games Workshop's Copyright. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Where is Neverness?

Regular readers might have noticed the shroud of silence over the past couple of weeks here at the Hobby Chronicle. I don't like tacking on real-life updates onto actual content posts, so I figure this deserves it's own post.

 Back in early June I lost my job. You might have noticed a content burst around then, as I was able to find some time for hobby stuff between job searches. But I started a new job in the middle of July that has just been an unexpected beast to me. I come home very tired and worn the hell out. So my hobby motivation is sparse to say the least, but what time and energy I can muster has been going into producing 2-D art. Yup, I am doing art again! This time for a Fantasy Roleplaying zine.

Self portrait: when I come home from work.

 I am quite happy to be inking and drawing again to say the least. This will be the first art I will get in print since the last issue I did for Armorcast's Inquisitor magazine back in the late '90s (it was a Squat themed issue!). I am posting only a few (poorly lit) snippets/teasers here as I don't want to undermine the editors of this zine, or spoil any surprises, prior to publication.

Of course I will post details on how to acquire your own copy of this zine, if you desire one, when the first issue is released. I am excited to be part of this and I look forward to seeing this reach fruition.

Oh, just guess!

Fear not, once things normalize with my job (or I find a new one) I should be back to painting little toy soldiers soon! I am eager to finish some of the painting projects I have going, but all in time...

Scurry on dude.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Blood Axe Boyz (Part 1)

Some time last summer I Spelled out my intention to create separate Ork detachments based on the clans. You can see some of this progress over on the Orks page. The Goffs have the biggest collection so far but the Bad Moons are starting to catch up also.  The only work done so far on the Blood Axes has been a single Rogue Trader era Dreadnought. I linked the first part of the project because I described my intended vision, and inspiration, for my Blood Axes in detail there.

Blood Axes assembled!
Due to the size-creep on the Ork range my original RT-era Orks are looking very small these days.  But the details on these old lead figures, and the character, is just unsurpassed by the later models, good though they still are. However I do think the older miniatures look so much better on 32mm bases. It will take me a bit of time to transition all of my Orks to the new bases, but for now this is a good start.


In a recent comment on our FB Group regarding Rogue Trader era miniatures, we talked about using RT era models in Kill Team but also in trying to get a squad of RT era miniatures painted in a timely fashion. It got me thinking about my oldest unpainted miniatures, which are my Orks. I realized it was 30 years ago, almost exactly, that I got my first Citadel miniatures. I bought five random Orks from a kid at school for a couple bucks. Back then, each ork was highly individualized and unique, and crammed with details. A bit ironic considering their size vs. their modern counterparts, yes? These details intimidated the young painter in me and I never attempted to paint them.

Where it all began for me. 

But, to the best of my recollection, these are those first few orks! Definitely the one with a splotch of black paint on his face (in the middle of the group) as he came to me that way with that first purchase from a kid at school.

Later that summer ('89, indeed 30 years ago!) The Dr and I went on a bus tour around East Anglia  and I greatly expanded my metal orc collection. I don't recall the name of the shop in Colchester, but the one in Ipswich was called War and Peace.  This fellow below came from one of those blister packs. We always loved the character of this chap, and dubbed him "Da Mad Thunker" at the time, as he seems very much mired in contemplation.

"I wonderz if dat fing ov'a dare can blows up big?"

A few months later, the first multi-part plastic Space Orks box would be released and these would become the first Orks I would paint. I cut my teeth on those miniatures more-or-less teaching myself how to paint in the process. It took me a few years though and I didn't finish that set until '94 when I was living with The Dr in New Mexico!

Fast forward to 2019 and I decided to first prep a few of the Orks, four regular Boyz and a Nob, just to see if I like how they would look on the 32mm bases. Not much really to say at this stage other than I like them on these bases. Even these old miniatures seemed to spill off the old 28mm bases so the 32mm is a refreshing improvement.

Accept this guy, he still looks small. Da Yoof gone wild?

Don't know what he's thinking, but it looks menacing. 

They didn't make enough "Foreign Legion" style heads.

I love that serrated blade...wicked looking huh?

And finally the Nob: this model was originally released as a Blood Axe Warboss. He was very big at the time of release and absolutely spilled off of the 28mm base and still does a fine job filling up the space on his 32mm one. But with the size boost that the Warboss models got back in '99, this guy is now more fitting as a Nob.

Da Nob. 

And here they are with their bases gritted up and with additional bitz added on. One of the Boyz has a classic Dark Eldar helm on it. One of the blades was bent which reminded me of battle damage, so perhaps this was discarded during the fight? Or, maybe there's a head in there...?

"Weeze got grit!"

The next step is to prime these guys before the painting can begin, just keep your eye on this blog for future updates!.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Space Wolf Primaris Reivers (Part 2)

This trio is finally done! (I know you can only see two in the top pic, but trust me here...) Moving on from Part-1 was a slow undertaking. I dabbled on them a bit while painting the Stormhawk Interceptor but it wasn't until I finished with that model that I really gave these guys the proper attention.

The Space Wolf Grey stage. 
In April I replaced my old cutting mat with a new one by The Army Painter. The pics Ibhave been taking have been more interesting however it's not a self healing mat and it's already taking damage from the brutality that I inflict on surfaces while I build models. I will likely have to replace it soon.

Also in May our dog died. I bought a miniature of a wolf that I am going to paint as a homage to her, and this pic shows what the mini looks like next to one of these guys. (More on this in a future a post).

"You're about to piss, aren't you?"
Deciding on how to paint this guy's hair was an interesting challenge. I painted in FoltArt English Mustard before giving it a Brown Ink wash.

English Mustard hair.
After that I dry brushed on Mournfang Brow, highlighted with Averland Sunrise and glazed with Agrax Earthshade.

Hair by Chapter Serfs.
 I used Averland Sunrise for the banding on the wire that's on the back of his left arm.

Decals fun time. So using the technique I talked about in Stormhawk Interceptor Part 7 however that technique was done on flat surfaces for the most part. Marine pauldrons on the other hand...*sigh* ...these things are just a pain in the ass. I had to combine that technique with my previous method using Microset. After a few complications I got the decals finished.

A few touch-ups and some grass clumps, and these guys were indeed finished.

And, despite the cloudiness, it wasn't raining for a change, so out we went for some location shots.

Scout'n about.

Against the psychic attack fungi of Unicoius Prime.

What's next for these guys? I am tempted to expand them up to a 5 man team just so I can use them in 40k games, but for now they will likely see action in games of Kill Team if at all. If that happens I will do a Part 3. But this particular trio is now finished.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Venom #2 (Part 1)

Hello, and welcome to the start of my 2nd Venom project. I thoroughly enjoyed working on my 1st Venom last year and have every intention of building my second one whenever my attention returned back to the Dark Eldar. So probably not until like this Fall at the earliest? Well, that changed when Da Masta Cheef (he who trolls me), gifted me with this wonderful venom. For reasons that baffle me, he decided to part with it, and instead of selling it or repurposing it, he gave it to me after we had our recent Ork vs. Ork game.


Knowing how speedy and random I can be about finishing a model construction / painting project he likely assumes that it will be well into the 2020's before I finish it. And that might likely be true if not for the fact that I keep fiddling with it!


So some back story on this thing is necessary (I hope I don't screw this up, but I am sure Cheef will embellish in the comments if need be). He had intended this to used with his Eldar Corsairs but since their list was only given half-ass support from Forgeworld when 8th edition arrived he got rid of most of them. Regardless of all of that, the point is that this is not a standard or conventional Venom, but rather one that had been repurposed.

Instead of the typical Dark Eldar weapon options we find instead that there are two Shuriken Catapults on the bottom of the hull. I am trying to figure out if these should stay or go...hmmm...

Also the pilot is not the murder elf one would expect to find piloting a Venom but a well dressed fellow in a brown outfit with red hair (Screech?). The gunner was also going to another Guardian converted over to fit the Corsair role, but this chap was never assembled. He sits crooked for some reason (again, Screech?).

Is this where he gave up?

Now, I have no intention of keeping this model looking like this, and I have no doubt Cheef wouldn't expect me too considering that he never finished it either. I am going to paint it to match my paint scheme. However I intend to make a slight exception: I am going to leave the pilot alone! Call it a tribute to the Cheef and the origin of this piece, but that guy is done and I just don't want to alter him. Even though he sits crooked. Also if that is supposed to be Screech** I like the idea of him press-ganged into service for the Drukhari. (Cue sinister laugh).

A comparison of canopies.

Back when I was working on the 1st Venom,  I was Indecisive on which canopy to use so I painted them both. Now I have a purpose for the other one, and it will be used to enclose in this pilot. Below you can see the test fit and also get a possible sense on how this might look when I am done with it. Which hopefully won't be in 2020!

I think I might leave the display blue also...

See you back for part 2!

*Yes, I know, a photography student loses it's soul each time a photo is composed with a corner in it...*sigh*

**The Cheefs old ward and now Imperial Guard conscript. 

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Wolf Priest Jorvik Blacktooth (Part 1)

Wolf Priest Jorvik Blacktooth has existed in my lore for a long time now, usually appearing as a correspondent. And those letters are usually in response to some treachery performed by Da Masta Cheef (a very treacherous fellow indeed). But he has yet to appear on the tabletop or even have a model to represent him. Well, we now have a solution for that!

Current WIP level.

This is the rather rare limited edition Wolf Priest model released in 2002. I believe he was a Games Day promo model. He was only released in metal. It took me ages to find this miniature at a sane price, and two years ago I did. But I have only recently got around to painting him.

Here he is primed black with a base coat on his base.

And here he is with most of his base coats:

Mostly base coated. 

And here he is, in his base coated state, leading his Space Wolves to victory! Well, at this stage he is directing more than leading, but a leader never-the-less!

"Don't blame me, it's 8th edition!"

And here he is once again, truly leading now by making the decisive shot of the game that killed the enemy Farseer/Courier. Not too shabby for a first game, and being only base coated!

"This is how we Kill xenos boys..."

 Obviously with a show like that he need more paint, so to the front of the queue he went!
Brown base coats and a bit of blue.

I kind of went back and forth in these early stages of trying to decide how to paint his various wolf skulls. At one point I was just going to make them a metallic gold, but with so much stuff on this guy already picked out to be that color, I decided some contrast was necessary.

Brown base coats applied! 

So I followed the examples I have seen of this model online and went with making the winged skulls a bone color.

"I've gotta bone ta pick with youse." 

And this is as far as I have gotten on this guy so far. He is a far trickier miniature to paint than one would think, as I keep realizing more details as I progress. But so far I am pleased.