Sunday, December 24, 2023

Ancient Germans and Sisters Repentia!

Now how about that for a random combo? First up here's the first models in the "opfor" that'll be facing my Early Imperial Romans... they're ancient Germans from Wargames Foundry.

Great models, these. Ancient Germans rarely wore shirts apparently and one of these guys is an early adherent of the... ahem... "naturist" lifestyle.

Painting was pretty easy once I figured out an easy flesh technique. The Romans I did with a really drastic "Dallimore" style of Cadian Flesh over Doombull Brown, but I wanted to do something quicker for the Germans. So I started with Doombull, then used a heavy drybrush of Doombull mixed with Cadian, Mixed with Kislev Flesh, up to straight Kislev Flesh, all in gradual steps. Pretty quick and looks OK I think. The axe handle is Mournfang Brown highlighted with Vallejo New Wood.

Here they are with one of the Foundry legionaries. More to come on this one!

Next up here's a couple more Sisters Repentia for the Sisters of Battle. I wanted to get these done before New Year's Day and the annual game - this year it's 40K fifth ed. with Sisters vs. Tyranids. These two were also done before the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge but never fear, today I finished seven more that were started before 21 December, so they'll go on the Challenge blog.

Super fun figures - not my favourites ever to paint, but they look cool when they're done.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

New Plastic Mark III Marines for GW's "Age of Darkness"

Reinforcements for The Warmaster! New Mark III plated plastic Space Marines from GW.

Well, it's been a...month, give or take, since posting anything, but you know, the usual excuses, work, travel, blah blah. Who cares, right? The important thing is I finally have some stuff to post. This is a veteran tactical squad wearing Mark III plate and the colours of the XVI Legion Astartes, the noble Sons of Horus! These are multi-part plastic figures from GW's new "Age of Darkness" range, the long-awaited - and slightly feared - new "take" on a popular subject, that being the Mark III Space Marines of the Horus Heresy setting.

Old vs. new...a Forge World Mark III marine on the left, and the Sergeant from the new plastic sprue on the right.

Why "feared"? Well, it is replacing a very popular segment of the previous Horus Heresy figure lineup. The previous generation of Mark III models - released first in resin by Forge World - were, in a word, awesome. Their ominous, proto-dark-age look and feel aligned so perfectly with the setting of both the "Great Crusade" and the subsequent Horus Heresy. The rimmed armour plates and assorted bits of gilding that make them somewhat formal, but the rivets, the segmented plates, the deep-seated helmet lenses hunkered behind the thick grill of an ominous helmet...the only "enlightenment" to reasonably expect from these fellows will be the flash of bolt gun fire as your society is "brought into compliance".

View from the front...

Rear more overlapping armour segments :(

GW then released plastic version of the figures, which were faithful to the look and feel of the originals from Forge World. This brought the average gamer a chance to fill the table Mark III-plated Space Marines for a real "Age of Darkness" look! I love the look of this armour, and the original plastic Mark III kit is one of the best GW has put out.

Veteran Tactical Squads can choose from an assortment of special and heavy weapons, with one available per-five Marines in the squad.

Fast forward to this year, and news breaks of a "new" Mark III kit. Trepidation fills the air. Even as the new "Age of Darkness" sets have been, in general, a home run, we have also seen evidence that a spirit of artiste-types who insist on fixing that which is not broken has been loosed to run amok within the design studio. These are the same people who "fixed" the new Mark VI models to make them taller, thought making the studded shoulder plate into a two-piece kit was a GREAT idea, and decided a kafka-esque system for the use of special and heavy weapons with the new figures is JUST WHAT WE what would these hipster sculptors do the beloved Mark III?

Well, as you can see...quite a lot. It's not all bad, far from it in fact. Of course, your tastes may vary. But let's cover some of it, and you can judge for yourself, hopefully assisted by the photos of this first new squad.

Another view of the officer. I should have put something on that breastplate...maybe for the next one.

Maybe we'll start with what is the same or similar to what came before? Well, the new-look Mark III retains, IMO, a sense of proto-medieval armoured appearance. There are extra edged plates on the arms, thighs and legs. There are big, chunky and ornate knee plates and elbow plates - although these are not circles as on the old kits. In a very general way, these new sculpts do, IMO, capture the "spirit", such as it is, of the old Mark III. 

If you have custom heads or custom embossed shoulder plates from older Mark III kits, these will work on the new plastic kits. So that is useful too. But it also where the compatibility immediately ends...

Melta gunner and vox-caster.

If you are as nutty a fan of the 30k setting as I am, there are a lot of important differences between new and lets run through some differences that stood out to me.

Start with the height and proportions of the new models. The new Mark III match the new Mark VI in terms of height and proportion, with the same net effects. The heads on the new ones are actually smaller than the heads of the previous figures, even as the new figures overall stand taller than the older generation ones. This is annoying, but give the sculptors their due - I find the proportions are also more sensible on the new ones - not that the previous ones were bad - but I do find the length of the legs, the size of torso etc all look a little more "correct" on the newer sculpts. 

Group photo one more time...

All of us have our own quirks when it comes to mixing models of different styles etc, but FWIW I would say you could not mix new plastic Mark IIIs and old plastic and resin Mark IIIs in the same units, but it would hardly be an issue to include squads of both generations in the same army. YMMV.

Let's move along...assembly on these new ones is such that conversions will be very difficult. Any unique/legion specific marines which made use of previous plastic Mark III bits (like, for example, the Templar Brethern of the Imperial Fists) will require expert modelling. Basically, if you want to convert the figure, you need to build the entire leg/torso assembly, then carefully start cutting. I've seen it done online, so it is not impossible, but you need caution, patience and modelling talent...I am not blessed with any of those attributes myself...

The armour is still segmented, but the segments don't overlap, which is too bad...the slightly cleaner look is, in contrast to the previous Mark III, a step backwards...but not the end of the world.  

The new's "chonky"! I rather like the look of it, but it is different in a notable way from the prior styles, and if you want to use old bolt guns, you'll need to source some hands and, as above, be pretty crafty and careful. As with the new Mark VI kits, specific bolt guns are matched to specific pairs of arms.

Speaking of the boltguns, that is a good segue to move to the general "weapons ecosystem" - basically, these new Mark III figures share, and fit, the same accessories, special weapons and heavy weapons as the new Mark VI models. The bracing hand is sculpted directly on the weapon, and you need to carefully match specific sets of hands with specific weapons. You get used to it pretty quickly with boltguns, but it gets downright Byzantine when trying to equip them with heavy or special weapons - be SURE to save your instructions.  

It's an "attention to detail" of sorts...these are the spare vambraces needed to convert the Mark VI arms in the special and heavy weapon kits to match the look of the Mark III troops.

This is a particular challenge for the new Mark III marines, as they come with an ENTIRE SET OF VAMBRACES so you can make use of the otherwise Mark VI arms in the special weapon boxes. This mindlessly complicated? I mean, it makes sense to take steps to have your new Mark III kits match the new special weapon sets, but here I am not so much being critical of the Mark III kits as I am being critical of the decision made at the outset to even require a whole new special weapon/heavy weapon ecosystem at all. Particularly when you see that an outcome is the need to expend a fair bit of space on the sprues for spare vambraces you only require if you are doing special weapon/heavy weapon marines.

Who did this make sense to in the GW studio when they approved all of this? It is not the end of the world...and, from a certain point of view, evidence of great commitment to help your new Mark III's work for all bits...but this is also evidence of what must have been considerable resources invested in solving a problem that wasn't a problem until they made it one. How to the shareholders of this company not lose their minds on this kind of stuff? I digress...

Let's look at another sore point from the previous Mark III kits - the backpack! Is the backpack still hell to put together? Well...not quite. Fans of the previous plastic Mark IIIs will no doubt recall much swearing, wondering how and why it made sense for the power packs on the back to be two pieces, creating an awful seam along the exhaust vents that was very hard to manage. Now, it's one piece...but be warned, it is not a clean cut from the frame. They seem to have achieved this one-piece result by including a bunch of extra cables on the power packs. Obtaining a "clean" backpack is still a challenge - although one without glue.

Last, but DEFINITELY not least, I will touch now on what I see to be the biggest change on these new Mark III figures...the helmets. As you see, the figure designer has opted for spiked helmets. For someone totally new to this game and setting, you might see this and go "hmm, OK, whatever, seems to add to the ominous ambience".  But many, many fans of the game see that specific feature and immediately think "Death Guard" - after all, this manner of helmet spike is a common feature of the Death Guard's Heresy-era imagery and you see it in the custom bits the Forge World/GW sculptors designed for that Legion. To include helmet spikes on the new Mark IIIs is, IMO, an odd design choice here, given this context.

"Let's cook it for the Warmaster!"

With that said, one can easily remove the helmet spikes, or just use custom helmets sourced from Forge World/GW or 3D printed options. All the same...I just don't get this design decision. Again, I wish more adults were keeping an eye on the hipster artistes in the studio...

Covering fire, anyone?

So, on balance, if you are new the game and setting and don't care about any of the above well, first, welcome! And second, you will enjoy these kits. They look cool. They are fun to paint. They seem like the ominous, scary "older brothers" to all the guys running around in Mark VI armour.

If, on the other hand, you are a dork like me, you may have some reservations with these kits...but that said, I still enjoyed them, and will certainly be assembling more of them in the months ahead! 

Speaking of the months ahead...

On The Move Again

Our home in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, during its brief time on the market...

So, this is happening. With the pandemic now in the rear view mirror, I need to be in the same city as my office, and so we will be moving to Toronto. The move is likely to take place in late January of next it won't be the best time for painting, but there will always be stuff to paint, and I hope to find new folks to game with even while keeping in touch with friends.

That's all for now, thanks for reading, and stay tuned for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge!    

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Early Imperial Roman Veteran Legionaries!

OK! Here's the start of a new project well underway, it's 28mm Early Imperial Romans!

Here's the first unit in the army done. The project will be early Imperial Romans and (one of) their traditional opponents, ancient Germans (coming soon). This is kind of a full-circle project for me as nearly 25 years ago, after I'd first moved to Winnipeg from the distant countryside, I acquired painted Early Imperial Roman and ancient German armies. They came from either the TMP classifieds or Bartertown (remember those sites?) and I bought 'em sight unseen - not even pictures.

Of course I asked questions before hand, like "who's the manufacturer of these figures?" and the answer came back "Wargames Foundry I think." Well as we say nowadays, the words "I think" did a lot of work in that answer. The models were decidedly NOT Foundry models, more like Minifigs or something - they were not good. I put a wash on them to make 'em presentable, we played one big Thursday game with them, and they were moved on. But I always really liked the period and those two armies.

Fast forward nearly 25 years and I'm back to the project! These Romans are (mostly) the plastic EIR Veteran Legionaries box from Warlord Games. I didn't buy the box, but just have accumulated sprues from various Warlord sprue sales. I likely spent less than half the retail price on the unit. 

Anyway these Veteran Legionary plastics are really super. They're easy to assemble (just right arm, head and shield to stick on), nicely detailed, have good variety, and are easy to paint - just what you want from plastics. And on sale I think I paid about 70 cents each for them. This is the Centurion, leader of the unit, carrying the traditional vine stick.

At the right above is the Cornicen with his horn, but at left is the sole metal model in the unit - the Aquilifer, also from Warlord. This one puzzled me a bit - he came with the Aquila (eagle) standard of the Legion, but is wearing a lion headdress. What's weird about that? Well, from everything I've read (ranging from Phil Barker's classic Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome to Ospreys), the Aquilifer, in the early Imperial era at least, was always bare-headed. So rather than offend sensibilities (my own mainly) I gave the Aquilifer model the plastic standard from the plastic Veteran sprue. I had to convert that a bit too since it had a spike on it and not the "hand" that the Manipular standard traditionally bore. But no worries, I cut one out of plasticard and stuck it on. I think it looks OK. 

Some really nice detail on the standard bearer. The lion skin looks great.

I gave the Aquila to the plastic model from the Veteran sprue. He has a head from the bits box onto which I sculpted a Romanesque hairstyle. He's pictured here with metal Foundry models.

The Veterans, like I said earlier, are great. Some of the heads are bearded, unhelmeted, or otherwise battle-weathered. Likewise their scuta (shields) are hammered and worn, some with holes or with the wood showing through. They look great. Of course the designs were hand-painted :-)

Honestly the idea with this project was to paint enough models to just do a skirmish game - SPQR or something similar - maybe 30-40-ish models a side. But as I started accumulating, the goalposts shifted somewhat (as they do), and now I'm thinking Warhammer Ancient Battles. That would REALLY bring things full circle as that's the game we played with my original armies all those years ago!

Monday, December 4, 2023

Citadel BC2 Monsters Starter Set!

I love painting old models. They're metal, for one thing, and they're characterful, for another. And these Citadel box sets that came out back in the day are primo for sure.

I posted my work on the BC1 "Adventurers Starter Set" over 4 1/2 years ago (!) and it took me awhile to find the Monsters Starter Set. It was released way back in 1985 but I gotta say, the quality of the sculpts (for the most part) is bang up to date and just as nice as pretty much anything you'll find nowadays.

Here's the whole set together. I picked up the box complete with 6 of the 8 models for a pretty good price, but of course I had to find the missing two models separately. They came from eBay too. Some of the models were painted but I did tune them up myself to a lesser or in most cases, greater extent.

First up - the Vicious Giant Wolf. 

This one was painted plain grey, but I spiffed it up a bit in the style of a painted one I saw on Stuff of Legends.

In fact I got a lot of inspiration for all of these models from Mike Curry's excellent work there. I find that a significant blocker to me finishing these fantasy models is figuring out a paint scheme...

Here's the Orc Champion. Green-skinned of course.

The bronze cuirass is cool eh!

Next up - Vile Goblin.

I like the kind of Mongol vibe this guy has with his cool lid.

Lesser Goblin.

He's just a li'l guy!!

This was one that was missing from the box - the Evil Dark Elf Captain.

This one I painted from scratch, it came as bare metal from a different seller. A really cool model, I gave him white hair. Eternal Champion, anyone?

Manic Hobgoblin Hero here. If the horns look a bit wonky, that's my own fault...

I had to strip the model as it was poorly painted. I used alcohol as usual. But when I was scrubbing it down, the left horn came off and went down the drain :-(  But I attached a piece of wire and sculpted a horn over that, I think it came out OK.

Ogre Champion here. I have to say that this is probably my least favourite of the set, it just seems a bit... meh. Not as cool or dynamic a sculpt as the rest.

The other annoyance was that (as you can see) I used round bases for the group rather than the square ones they would've come with. This is because all of my other fantasy "character" models are round-based. But the problem with this dude was that he wouldn't fit on a 25mm round... so I have to put him on a 32mm base, which doesn't fit as well into the box. Oh well.

Lastly, here's the Warrior of Chaos. He's OK but I'm not crazy about his helmet, it covers most (but not all) of his face, which made it pretty tricky to paint.

He's all right though, I hand-painted the planks on the shield, the model had a flat surface there. Also Mike Curry's idea.

Well that's it for the set, I'm glad to have them done but they were pretty fun to paint. And I love the style of these models, especially the goblins and hobgoblin. They're cool. But I think the next thing I'm going to be onto is the opposite of these fantasy models - it's back to some historical subjects!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Steel Legion vehicles and more Doomed

 I finished two more vehicles for the Steel Legion. They're from Mortian Models and represent another Chimera and Hellhound. My game with Dallas showed that the stormtroopers need a more dependable ride, so they'll get the chimera. I painted the unit markings blue to represent the vehicle detached from a different company. The Hellhound turret weapons are magnetized and also come with different weapons to represent the different options for the vehicle. These are the last Mortian vehicle I have. I'd like to pick up one more Russ from them, but they're being re-designed and aren't available yet.

Comparison to GW Chimera

I also completed a third unit for The Doomed - The Inheritor Courts. They represent the last remnants of law and government in the world and are supposed to be some kind of techno-knight. I didn't paint them up as grungy as they should be a bit more put together than the other factions. I used a mix of Bretonnian Men-at-arms, Frostgrave soldiers, a space marine and a Chaos Warrior. I do hope to actually put on a game soon.

An assortment of warriors and minions for the knights

A Judge and a Sheriff to lead the rabble.

Thanks for visiting!