Sunday, July 30, 2017

Death Castle (Part 1)

Way back in 2008 I began work on restoring a favorite, and very important (to me and my history as a tabletop wargamer anyway) terrain piece; Death Castle. I worked on it off and on for about a year before other projects, career changes, breakups and moves forced me to once again abandon the project. The model is safe and sound at my folks place, although it has become a bit dusty since. While I worked on it back then I chronicled the steps of this project on warhammer-empire. It was my first stab at doing something like this and you could say it was a precursor to what I do with my blog today.

The original post has been linked on my site for years now and I hoped to one day finish the project, but at least I knew this piece of early 'neverness' history was safe on that site. However recently the jerks who run Photobucket changed their policy to be as greedy as possible, and as a result my only modeling thread on that site might be in danger of becoming a broken linked mess. So in an effort to preserve those 9-8 year old (at the time of this writing) posts, I hope to reconstruct them here as best I can and even add a few more comments on the pics as well as some well needed edits. I expect this to be a bit of tedious project that will take me some time to accomplish, but I think it will be worth it in the end. And who knows, this might even motivate me to finish the actual model!

General Grausocken arrives at Death Castle.

Originally posted on May 11th 2008 on Warhammer-Empire.

Death Castle: A restoration project.

Welcome to Death Castle. Death castle is 20 years old this year and to celebrate that birthday I’ve decided to restore it. It was created by my best friend of 20 yrs Dr. TSG, while we were both High School students at Woodbridge England. He made this castle before he met me when he and his friends discovered Warhammer 40,000.

The Ruins of Death Castle.

It’s construction was a simple, yet an ingenious, use of the materials available.

Toilet paper tubes and Styrofoam.

The basic design is a series of shortened toilet paper tubes overlay-ed with strips of Styrofoam. The front veneer was created using stone patterned sheets of Styrofoam that his Dad found at a D.I.Y shop somewhere locally (Ipswich?). Soon after some application of carpenters glue, the project was finished and we had a basic, yet very cool, castle to play with!

A piece of the DYI shop "stone" sheeting.

My very first table-top battle was fought using this castle so the nostalgia I have for this piece is intense. Intense because I soon learned to hate it! The crenelation-less walls were too high, so in order to fire from it, or achieve LOS, you had to position your models at one of two preciously small openings or set your models on top of the wall. Both of those options removed the cover the wall provided thus making your defense redundant. Many units of marines were blown off the walls of this castle. Back in the Rogue Trader days, the weapon ranges were extreme and a target standing on the highest point on the table with no cover was sure to die. Yet we kept playing with this castle! Over the course of many games if became clear that the only way the defending force could win with this castle was to abandon it. In one game a force of eldar abandoned the castle just at the marines stormed it and the marines took the castle only to be slaughtered by the eldar from outside. It was clearly a death trap, and thus we named it Death Castle.

The one attack position.

Death Castle has seen some abuse over the last 15 years. Dr TSG’s early attempts to paint the castle were quite devastating to it. We didn’t know the horrible reaction that black spray paint would have with Styrofoam. The castle became his test bed for other painting experiments as ultimately he was unsatisfied with it and when TSG left England, he gave it to me. When I left England it was used as packing materials! During that point it was cut in half. We still used the castle though, but usually as wall pieces for Mordheim or as a ruin. Much damage has occurred, and you can see from the pictures that some ad-hoc repairs have been attempted. I’ve replaced some of the holes that have been punched into it over the years.

Trooper Rudolph has mastered the art of using cover, Trooper Jenkins has not.

Recently, I rediscovered the castle, and was inspired to restore this castle to the greatness it has always been denied and finish it!  

This is my restoration blog, and over the course of time I shall update it with my repairs and improvements. I intend to make it a full Warhammer piece. I imagine that this castle is a small boarder fort that has seen quite a bit of action, so I’m going to attempt to maintain a weathered and wearied look about it while embellishing it with marking of the Empire. Listed below are the steps I need to take:
  • Add a base. A lot of the damage the castle endured was a result of a lack of a stable base. 
    Crenelations. The castle needs this to be usable as a defendable position. Also enlarge the opening above the gate to be able to support artillery and/or siege defenses.
  • Make a real gate. The castle never had a proper one thus making the opening, which was big enough to let a Rhino pass through it, far too inviting to attackers.
  • Repair wall sections. I have enough left over foam pieces to be able to fully restore it.
  • Enlarge the upper deck. Reviewing the siege rules that have came out over the years, it seems that the upper walls are too narrow and although they easily support one model are just too small to support two. I’ll need to enlarge this to accommodate combat on it without risk to our models.
  • Add an internal building of some kind probably a tower.
  • Add stairs. However I may skip this if I go with a tower that abuts the wall.
  • Level the top of the wall. The melting caused by spray paint has caused stability issues that can result in some models easily falling off the walls. I’m considering making the top magnet friendly.   

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ultramarine Color Scheme Test.

Hello again. While pondering just how I wanted to paint my Reivers  it occurred to me that I haven't completed any Ultramarine models in a very long time. So choosing between painting the Reivers as either Ultramarines or as Celestial Lions would be largely decided by how satisfied I would be with painting the Ultras now. My Ultramarines were painted a very long time ago and if I chose them it would mean the start of a vast overhaul/touch-up project. Whereas going with my Celestial Lions would mean that I would be expanding them from a Kill Team (with options) and into a full fledged army; and that would require acquiring more new models than my budget currently allows.

So I went ahead and knocked one out:

1st completed Ultramarine in ages.
The following will review just how I did it as it involved a few steps and course corrections in mid-stream. I can honestly say this post is more like reference notes for me to refer back at than they are intended for anything else, but hey, I hope you enjoy it anyway:

The "subject"
Honestly, this painting was a rather spontaneous act after an alergy attack derailed Mrs. Neverness and our plans for the day, leaving me with a few hours of free time. Inspired by the paint guide in the Know No Fear book I thought I could quickly do a test painting of an Ultramarine color scheme. I found this model neglected in a box. I got him from Bryan Hunter about 3 summers ago and looking at it I would say he was probably not it's orginal owner. It had a lot of mould lines that need to be scrapped off, which is why it looks so patchy in the above picture.

Space Marine Blue base coat on armor.
The Know No Fear color says they use Macragge Blue as their base coat but I thought this was far too bright. I went instead with Space Marine Blue which was the Ultramarine base color that came with the Space Marine Paint Set from '89. All of our previous Ultramarine models are painted with this as a foundation so it wasn't a tough choice to stick with it.

Basecoats on other area.
After some experimentation I settled on Macragge Blue as the next layer.

Macragge Blue coat on armor.
I followed this up with a layer of Ultramarine Blue around the edges.

Ultramarine Blue layer.
Finally the edge highlights were done using Fenrisian Grey. This follows steps I found in the Know No Fear book as well as various White Dwarf articles over the years. I can never seem to match the colors in those articles but this guy came out pretty damn near close.

Fenrisian Blue high lights.
Finished with the other details such as the gold acquilla, purity seal, etc.

Finished main painting before touch-ups.
After a few more touch ups I figure it was more or less done. And I think this turned out to be a successful color scheme test.  All that is left is a decal or two and I need to expand and model up the base.
Completed painting.
A day later (everything prior to this point occurred the day before) and what the heck, I figured I would base him anyway and do the decals. This actually is an important aspect of my decision as I genuinely loathe applying decals.

Decaled and based! 

OK, so that is done, now back to a choice: Ultramarines or Celestial Lions for my Primaris models? The debate continues...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Leave it to Reivers (Part 1)

When this new edition of 40k arrived last month, I was excited, but not so excited that I had to have it on launch day. Thankfully I had a look at a preview copy to see how little rules content was actually in the $60 hardcover book and decided to pass on getting just that.

The big boxed set had some cool looking models but nothing I felt I had to have. But with the arrival of Know No Fear, a half priced starter set with a smaller book, a lot of the new models and some easy to teach intro scenarios, I decided to go for it. The discounts I got at my local hobby store enabled me to get a a free box of the new Primaris Reivers as well, so I figured that was a win. They are kinda neat and, weirdly enough  I am more interested in them at the moment than I am anything else I purchased that day (although I am thinking a lot about Papa Nurgle). Now let's look at these Reivers...

Little box, big hopes.

I am always happy to see art work on a box as opposed to photos of the models. There is just something about that I appreciate more. Cracking open the box and laying out the contents we get a single blue sprue, 3 bases, decals and a booklet.

For monopose snapfit models they sure have a lot of bits! And the instructions you'll quickly realize are surprisingly vital. Althougn they are easy to comprehend and within a few minutes, give a little bit of time for flash and mold-line clean-up, and presto you got 3 completed marines. Also it is nice to FINALLY see GW produce some 32mm slotta bases. I hope they make these available seperately at some point.

The 3 Reavers assembled.
 That's three completed BIG marines I must stress. Compared to their traditional older Battle Brothers, they are freak'n huge!

Freak'n huge!
But the heads remain somewhat scaled with the older marines, which in turn makes their proportions something like refrigerators, on stilts, with helmets on top of them. Oh, and while I am thinking about their heads I have got to gush about my favorite aspect of these minis: their heads actually MOVE! How cool is that? Oddly pointless as far as the game is concerned, but neat as heck as far as models go!

"Look to the left! Look to the right!"

Ultimately, I think I like these guys even though they seem to be armed somewhat strangely for such big guys. But now I must make the ultimate choice of picking how to paint them. I have 2 Codex Chapters: Ultramarines and Celestial Lions. I am about 85% in favor of the Ultramarines at this point. We shall see in Part 2 which way I ultimately go...

"You all come back now, y'hear?" (In booming speaker-voice).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Celestial Lions Kill Team (Part 10)

And finally, we have arrived to the last man of this unit:

The Sgt with all his bitz.

After finishing the plasma pistol and touching up the red skull decal, it was time to finally create the final componet of this miniature: the back banner. After a few attempts free handing the approximate dimensions of the banner and the lion icon on a piece of notebook paper (hey, it was the only thing I had on hand), I combined the two images into this:

Rough banner drawing.
 I used the same paints that I use on my Lions, but while doing so I had to go outside the margins I set to make the lion mane bigger.

Rough painting.
 I tightened up the painting, added a few minor highlights, and put some stars in the background. I then painted the back side of the paper with black paint. It was now ready to be cut out.

Finished banner art. 
It seems like this whole aspect of back banner making is something of a lost art. Damn near every model in the '90s had a banner. But this went from empty banner poles you had to customize to pre-embosed banners by the time 3rd edition was over. Granted this banner isn't my best work, but it's not supposed to be, it's just a Sgt back banner. The more ornate banner belongs to the Celestial Lions Terminator Captain, and of course, it should.

Cut out and free.

Anyway, after I cut out the banner with an exacto blade, I had to make few minor trims before folding the tabs around the banner pole and glueing them to the back banner. I used Elmer's glue (my favorite flavor since 1st grade -yum!) to glue it down.

Watching glue dry.
It was now time to put him all together:

Arms on.

Backpack with banner attached.

View from behind.

Profile shot.
 And ta-da!
He is finally done!

Next, I will revisit the entire squad (pride?) of Lions and add flock and some battle damage along any other finishing touchs before declaring this project over.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Space Wolves Iron Priest (Part 1)

Back in May of last year (2016) you may recall I painted my Eversor Assassin in a fairly fast and focused painting session. I was quite proud of myself in fact and was sure that I could do it again. That weekend I decided to take part in a local painting competition, which stipulated that you had to buy the miniature from their store during the contest window with all entries submitted by May 31st. It was May 22nd, and I knew that if I focused on this model I could knock it out. But I was woefully unprepared for just how complex this model was, but pushed on anyway.

I had decided long ago that my Space Wolf Iron Priests would wear the traditional red armor of the Adeptus Mechanicus - at least to some degree. Either in full suits or just their helms, the red would appear somewhere. You can see where I did this with the gunner on my Space Wolves Landraider (below). Either way, this extra color palette was going to add additional time to my painting deadline.

Land Raider gunner.

I launched right into this project and didn't take any pics until I was past the base-coating stage. The pic below shows how I like to paint loose heads.

Head on a spike.

When painting models that haven't been assembled yet, I often drill a hole into the bottom of the head with my pin-vice and glue it onto a brass rod or wire. This allows me to hold the wire or rod and get to the details with my brush that I might not be able reach if I were holding it with my fingers. If I don't need the pin-vice for anything else I'll leave it on it and paint it just like that. Which is what I did in the pic above.

Above is the model at the base-coat stage.

 I was making decent progress on this when suddenly the person running the painting contest announced on FB that he wanted to see some entries and started posting entries that were already submitted. There was a bit of a back and forth online over it which left me feeling odd about the whole premature showcasing of early entries, so I dropped out. And instead of continuing on this model I put my focus onto a different model that I needed to use in an upcoming game instead.

The state this was in for about a year.
As the year came and went, I found myself once again considering painting and working on some Space Wolves and as I looked upon this model in it's exploded state, I felt a keen yearning to press on and complete him. There has been additional progress on this model, but we'll save that for part 2.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Celestial Lions Kill Team (Part 9)

Following on from Part 8, I have been working on finishing up the one model that is magnetized. He is a Special Weapons Trooper that I have magnetized three special weapons arms so I can adjust his options as needed. You can see how I did the work of integrating these magnets into this model in Part 5.

I had to decide on the final position for the left arm, as it will be bracing and securing the weapons when attached. I settled on a 'firing' position.

Brace arm attached.
The next few pics shows how the weapons arms attach:
Grav gun.

Melta gun.

Melta gun, lower perspective.

Plasma gun.
Finally I added the head which I positioned to appear to be looking in the direction that the gun is aiming. I also attached the shoulder pads and if you compare the following pics to the ones above you can see how well that they cover the magnet joins and surgical scars left over from the conversion.

Grav gun finished.

Plasma gun finished.

Melta gun finished.

And with that, our Multi-Option Weapons Specialist is completed! The next, and ultimate post, will be about the Veteran Sergeant who I am very much looking forward to completing.

The assembled unit...but where is Sarge?!