Monday, September 28, 2009

GenCon Pictures

And before I forget, I got the handful of pictures I took at GenCon posted to my Flickr site. Mostly random snapshots of things I thought were cool enough to cause me to think about getting out my camera. In particular check out the outstanding Tzeentch chaos marines army fielded in a 40K tournament. Pictures can be found here.

Cruisers ready for priming

After another session spent hunched over my desk, scribing tool and X-acto blade in hand, the last of my Iron Dwarf cruiser squadron has had its panel lines sharpened. All that remains is the battleship which, due to its size, alone will likely take me as long as the entire cruiser squadron. Once that's finished, barring a quick once over of the frigates (which will remain unmodified), I need only wash off the newly accumulated resin dust, affix flagstaffs (which will require some putty work to smooth the join), and prime the fleet. Unfortunately the rapid onset of fall and some unseasonable cold, rainy weather means that priming will have to wait a few days. With any luck I'll soon have posted pictures of the ships just prior to going under the brush.

In other dwarf news, could this signal the return of the Squats? I definitely hope so. I've missed the little guys ever since I used to kick them around the field in 2nd edition 40K and would love for my small coven of chaos squats to have some stunties to face off against. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Drydock

No pictures tonight, simply as they'd be none too exciting. I spent my time rescribing the panel lines on 1.5 of my Uncharted Seas Iron Dwarf cruisers. While most of the panels are defined by prominent dividing lines, a number are sufficiently shallow that I'm afraid even primer will obscure them. I'm not sure if they were an afterthought on the part of the designer, but a fair amount of tedious work is required before they'll "pop".

I've also drilled holes in the cruisers and the battleship to accommodate flagpoles. I wanted to do something to make the figures distinct from the out of the box standard - considered adding bases with sculpted waves, ship's boats on davits, or air vents, all of which one inspiring poster to the Spartan Games forum did - but also wanted to get some paint on these guys so they could join the growing flotilla of painted ships appearing within my gaming group. So banners alone will likely be the only addition. I opted not to add flagstaffs to my frigates simply because I couldn't find a location on them I liked. Instead they'll be painted with distinguishing marking atop their turrets - better for the Iron Dwarf airships to identify them by!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


So this was my competition entry for the GenCon 09 painting competition. I originally purchased her from Wyrd games when they were still producing quirky, non-game specific figures. With the release of Malifaux though, Lillith is now one of the Masters of the Neverborn faction. I'm not sure if she'll end up being a gaming figure for me, as I'm currently working on assembling a Resurrectionist crew for Malifaux, but undoubtedly the siren song of yet another cool game will ensure that a single faction won't be enough for me. sigh :)

GenCon '10 - 330 Days and Counting

So GenCon '09 has come and gone and, like just about every year, I had a great time. Much money was spent, a ton of games were demoed and played, and I walked away with several new games that will likely be taking over my painting table and/or have already started taking over my gaming nights - Uncharted Seas, Malifaux, and Memoir '44. What I didn't walk away with was a place in the GenCon painting competition. I've come to expect this lately as the competition level posed by the elite painters in the hobby are simply too much to compete with. Unlike some, I'm not opposed to the participation of "professional" painters as I recognize it fuels my ambition to get better. Now if only I could find the time to match my level of ambition.

I did however manage a respectable 4th overall placing in the Reaper speed painting competition. Considering the competition consisted of 5 round of 15 participants each, I was thrilled to even qualify for the final round, much less place. And the brief interaction I had with Marike Reimer, the overall winner of the competition and perhaps my current favorite professional painter, made it all the more memorable.

I'll get the handful of other GenCon pictures I took, as well as some shots of my painting competition entry, loaded shortly. But, for now, I'll leave you with a shot of this year's loot pile:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


With only 6 hours of work left, tomorrow's departure for my annual gaming retreat is looming large enough that concentrating on finishing this quarterly report is becoming increasingly difficult. But finish it I must in order to depart, stress-free, for 4 days of self-indulgent gaming.

It's been a bit since my last post, but in that time I have been busy. Besides mini-vacations and a generally hectic summer, I've gotten my first real game of Warhammer in (orcs vs. orcs in which my greenskins walked away triumphant) and actually done some painting! In fact, by the time I leave for GenCon tomorrow, I should have my first completed figure of the year to represent in the tally over in the right column. It's a Wyrd figure, but because I'm entering it in the painting competition, I'm going to hold off posting the completed pictures until after I get back.

Of course the figure isn't finished yet and I leave tomorrow morning, but having to pull an all-night painting session to complete a GenCon painting competition entry is pretty much par for the course for me. With any luck, I'll finish most of her base on my lunch break, leaving a bit less for me to accomplish in my marathon tonight.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ulthuan Invaders

Well I truly hope that I end up enjoying Warhammer Fantasy, because eBay splurges have seen my nascent High Elf army multiply in size quickly. A medium size unit of classic Swordmasters, another bolt thrower, a mounted hero, a huge number of archers, and another handful of spearmen are all on their way to join my growing army. I don't think I'm going to bother updating my 2009 pledge totals until all of these new acquisitions arrive. Hopefully the massive, and likely insurmountable, negative total that results will not cause me to fall into a stupor, unable to actually get anything painted this year.

Fortunately, the GW store at which I won with my Grey Knight terminator is having another painting competition with an August 1st deadline. This gives me plenty of working time and I intend to enter all three categories - single, unit, and large model. Provided they arrive from Australia reasonably soon, I'm intending to enter at least a minimum sized unit of Swordmasters for the unit category. I'm as of yet unsure about single figure, though it might very well be one of my High Elf unit champions. As for large model, I'd like to enter the Imperial Guard valkyrie that I had begun work on last month.

Of course, GenCon falls hot on the heels of the GW competition and I'm adamant that I will finally have at least one entry for this year's painting competition. Despite my intention to do so, I've failed to enter anything for the last 2 or 3 years. Since I've had luck in the past, and GenCon features some of the most extravagant prize support of any painting competition I have seen, this is one opportunity I don't want to miss.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why We Game

Despite lofty painting goals, I haven't more than looked at my painting desk over the last four months. But a series of recent events have conspired to awaken the gaming/painting bug. First, the Grey Knight Terminator I painted a few years ago (and sadly the last figure I've actually finished), was entered in a local Games Workshop store painting competition on a lark, and took first place. Apparently, one of the figures I managed to squeak past for the win was painted by a Chicago Bronze Demon winner. The sort of affirmation that comes with such a win is exactly what I needed to want to sit back down at the painting desk.

Of course, I need a target for these painting urges. Fortunately, a friend has convinced me to finally give Warhammer a try again (perhaps that's unfortunately). I've made a few false starts with the game, but it never grabbed me the way 40K did. I'm still not sure that the game is exactly my cup of tea, so I was adamant that I at least ensure that I'll enjoy the painting and modeling aspect of the game. This requires an army that I'm particularly attracted to. And for me, this means an army that was current when I was first exposed to Warhammer - i.e. 4th edition era armies. Don't get me wrong, I think many, if not most, of the current Warhammer figures are technically outstanding sculpts. But, a quality figure will never surpass one that elicits a nostalgic response in me. The old all metal Skaven armies, Imperial Dwarves, or pre-King Arthur Bretonnians all fall within that latter category. But none were more important to my early exposure to miniatures gaming than the Jes Goodwin High Elves - and yes this includes the static posed plastic archers and spearmen from the 4th edition boxed set.

While I've had Teclis and Tyrion lying around unpainted for the last decade, I've had to work on finding them a supporting force. This has meant daily visits to eBay, Bartertown, and similar sites, scrounging for figures from this era. So far I've been able to pick up 10 of each of the aforementioned archers and spearmen, as well as a trio of champions, a pair of both musicians and standard bearers, a bolt thrower, and a hero on pegasus. I realize that the latter model is no longer a viable option in the High Elf book (why I have no idea) but I'm sure my opponent will happily let me jury-rig something just to get such a cool model on the table.

So all this renewed inspiration to game has seen me reflecting on my neglected hobby. A post on a recently discovered blog that I like a great deal provided an appropriate framework for this reflection - Why do we (I) game?

The reality, is that I don't really game. It's been seven years since I was actively involved in my hobby. At that point I had just finished the only army that I had ever painted to completion, a 3rd Ed Dark Angels Ravenwing army assembled for the Chicago 40K Grand Tournament (though this army was sold mere months later to help fund my departure for law school). Only a short time before that my time as a member of the demo and FAQ teams for Warzone and Chronopia had wrapped up with the demise of their parent company, Target Games. But during their several years of thriving existence (WZ 2nd Ed. outselling Warhammer Fantasy in the US) my annual treks to GenCon included working the Target booth and I was an active presence in the Detroit area hobby shops. At no other point have I been more intimately involved with the hobby I love.

No doubt, memories of these times are a primary contributor to my desire to pick up gaming seriously again. But in the better than seven years that my figures have been languishing in boxes, the hobby has very much changed, both for me specifically and in general. Like all aging gamers, my gaming group has taken on adult responsibilities and new hobbies and either too busy or no longer sufficiently interested to make the investment of time that miniatures gaming requires. The games and figures are very different as well, with both now benefiting from a high level of polish and professionalism. In terms of miniatures, I think there is little doubt that Rackham and their Confrontation line is responsible for raising that bar. Since, between boutique miniatures producers (Hasslefree, Freebooter, Spyglass, etc.) and garage-sized gaming manufacturers (Corvus Belli, Asmodee, Dark Age), the technical skill of the average 28mm sculpt has increased dramatically, dragging larger manufacturers like Reaper and GW with them. While this has been a boon for the high-caliber painter, it's also lead to the younger, newer members of our hobby snorting derisively at some of the classic figures I hold dear. A decade ago I would have thought it ridiculous that anybody would consider my newly acquired Armorcast Warhound titan a clunker. But Forgeworld has done just that.

But it's not just older models that legions of current forum posters and bloggers smirk at, but the entire concept of the gaming that I find most familiar. 40K and Warhammer have always had their tournament scenes. But recent editions, with their increasingly strict list of available armies, has really encouraged this gaming mindset, regardless of context of the game - either an actual tournament or just "friendly". Online discussion focuses primarily on army construction, and it is generally understood that every army list has entries that are stinkers and are never touched. Just as with collectible card gaming, cookie-cutter army construction is adopted once the effectiveness of the Ork Nob biker, Thunder Hammer Terminator, or Bretonnian air force builds are realized. Gone are the wacky army lists of the 2nd Ed 40K I knew so well (Genestealer Cult? Chaos World?). Even 3rd Ed, which I considered a plague at the time due to its radical changes to 40K mechanics, was a wealth of opportunity for gamers like myself. But gone are Kroot Mercenaries, the Lost and the Damned, Feral Orks, Eldar craftworlds, myriad special rules for all of the founding loyalist and chaos Marine chapters, Catachan Ork Hunters, the Vehicle Design Rules, and all of the other creativity-fostering aspects of gaming at the time.

Now this isn't meant to be the grognard complaint so often seen and heard. I genuinely like 5th Ed 40K and am eager to try out 7th Ed Warhammer Fantasy. But the point of this post was to reflect on why I game/am trying to get back into gaming. The truth is, I'm not entirely sure at this point. However I'm eager to dive back into the hobby and look forward to relating my experiences as I go. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In the red

So I'm not doing myself any favors regarding my 2009 pledge. Yesterday a new figure arrived, Cool Mini or Not's limited edition "Army Brat". The figure is a Werner Klocke sculpt, and, typical of some of his best work, the figure is more than a bit cheesecake. But I really liked Klocke's work, and always a sucker for artificial scarcity, the limited edition aspect made it a must buy for me.

Unfortunately, while I was hoping for the figure to be in the 28mm scale of the Reaper models that he sculpts, it is instead in the much larger 30-32mm scale of Klocke's boutique company, Freebooter Miniatures - far too out of scale with most of my figures for her to even qualify as some sort of Amazon. So, she'll probably just end up being a display model for me, provided my respect for her "limited edition" status doesn't see me keeping her locked away inside her blister packaging. :p

I still have a space marine tactical demi-squad well under way on my painting desk and with any luck I'll be in the black by the end of the weekend (I know, I know, I said that about last week too).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hammer Time!

The left arm of the Ironclad Dreadnought is done, I think. Based on some CAD artwork that can be found around the net of the Ironclad's seismic hammer, I've gone for a pneumatic type hammer. Rather than the cluster of small heads shown in that concept work, I've gone for a single hydraulic ram.

I've tried to make the ram look well worn, as if it's been smashing vehicles apart of centuries. We'll see how this looks with some paint on it.

As the body of the Ironclad is about to be painted, the seismic hammer arm is being modeled by another AOBR dread.

The 2009 Pledge

Inspired by pacts on miniature hobby sites like The Miniatures Page and The Lead Adventure Forum, I've decided to create a painting pledge for myself for the year. The idea is to begin tackling the mountain of unpainted lead (and plastic) all of us miniature gamers have. For each completed figure, the painter gets a point. For each purchased figure, the painter loses a point. The idea is to end the year with a positive score, with self-shaming to serve as the motivator to paint and the deterrent to purchase.

I've also included points for unpainted figures sold, as my pledge isn't solely to encourage painting, but to start trimming my collection down to only those things that I value enough to spend time on painting. Pre-painted figures (i.e. AT-43) purchased will not count as negatives, but any work I spend on re-painting them will not count as positive points either.

Although a squad of Heavy Gear figures arrived after the start of the new year, I'm going to choose not to include them as I actually ordered them before the holidays. I'm still starting in the negative however, as I placed an order for a pair of Werner Klocke's Freebooter figures last week (btw, service from Freebooter is great, with the package arriving from Germany in half the time I received an order from the Warstore, which itself is always prompt).

With any luck I'll climb back into the positives by the end of this weekend with a demi-squad of space marines finished. Let the shaming begin!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


With the month halfway gone and the 500 pt painting competition rapidly approaching, I've spent the past several nights clipping sprues, trimming off mold lines, and assembling figures. While most of the figures have been straightforward builds, I decided I wanted an Ironclad Dreadnought in the force. With a pair of the great new Assault on Black Reach Dreadnoughts at my disposal, I got to work.

This is what the front of the Dread looks like out of the box:

After a bit of trimming and filing, I had cleaned the detail down to a smooth base:

Jumping forward a few steps, I present the finished body of the Ironclad Dreadnought. The reinforced plates on the sarcophagus were trimmed off the armor bits from the Imperial Guard Hellhound. The plates on either side of the torso are made of thick plasticard, trimmed to fit, and the rivets were made by drilling small holes and placing short bits of brass rod in them. A hunter killer missile launcher and a fragmentation launcher round out the body.

The next update will hopefully show a finished seismic hammer on the left arm and a hurricane bolter right arm. The latter bit is just waiting on my order from the Warstore to arrive . . . any day now. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And I'm back

Disappearing for months on end seems to be endemic to the blogging society, so I won't apologize for being gone so long. But after finishing school, spending a few months in DC, and starting a new job, I've finally settled back down somewhat and have picked my hobby back up again. I have a slew of projects awaiting me, particularly after splurging at GenCon 08, and this blog will continue to feature my progress on them.

Gone, however, will be the random and unrelated ramblings. I'm working on at least one other web presence which will be the home of these other interests and this page will be the home solely of my modeling and gaming projects.

The first project, once again, is my space marines. After not even making a start with the color scheme presented below, a 500 pt painting competition at my local GW store has prompted me to action once again. And, once again, I have a new scheme that has caught my interest. It should allow me to paint them relatively quickly and yet still look sharp on the table.

The working title for the chapter is the "Mithril Drakes" and the logo will be, obviously, a stylized dragon of some sort. For the 500 pt competition, I will be painting up a 5 man tactical squad, a 5 man sniper scout squad, a basic commander, and an ironclad dreadnought. Expect to see pics of these pieces shortly.