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"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ~ Edmund Burke

Monday, 12 September 2011

New direction with my Tomb Kings

Since I've now gained a cheap Wood Elf army I've come up with a plan to kill 2 birds with one stone. The current idea is to do a wood elf army with a storm of magic pact of tomb kings that are painted up and slightly modified to be Barrow Kings. The Tomb kings army will be done now (as it's almost finished) my Ogre army next then finally wood elves.

The story is that the Hordes of Chaos entered Athel Loren to corrupt it and harness it's unpredictable and mysterious power, quick to fight against such desecration the wood elves led by the cunning waywatcher Baequi'Siel came to fight but found they were hopelessly outnumbered. Chaos rampaged mostly unheeded as wretched torrents of twisted magic uprooted the trees and churned the earth.

What they did not expect was for the long dead and forgotten kings of Men and Elves alike to rise again from their slumber and howl with rage at their once beautiful homeland in torment. Uniting with the tired and distraught waywatchers they pushed back the tide, the Eternal guard of King Rethlin'Alai 'The Glade Flyer' and the Barrow Guard of King Hymenopteras 'The Wasp Tongued' marched in formation facing all blows as if they were a gentle glade breeze. The forces of chaos broke ranks and fled but the land they had fouled would never be the same, although small the elves feared for the safety of the rest of the forest and set it apart by surrounding it with warding stones and cleansing song, It was named by the empire as the land of eternal autumn, forever pulling at the souls of the grieving and troubled but offering nought but sombre silence. The Kings and their courts were denied their well earned rest as their burial sites were nothing but churned earth, trapped between worlds they conceded defeat and now stalk the woods preying on those with a grudge against Athel Loren and those who live within.

Baequi'Siel and his waywatchers were tasked with protecting the court of the dead elf and human kings from ill will during their eternal vigil and many years after these events, he still ensures that the restless spirits come to no harm or abuse any more than what they've already endured. Pale and withered, Baequi'Siel and his fellow waywatchers have long since let slip the joy and energy of youth but their souls too seem strangely bound to this place.

As themes go I'm quite pleased, the tomb kings probably won't see much alteration outside of the use of autumnal colours but the wood elves will be painted to have pale almost vampire like skin (think Mannfred Von Carstein) as well as autumn coloured outfits.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Upcoming Model Releases

With the new Ogres coming out next month I'm planning on continuing some of my previous series such as The Sprue Review, sharing with you my planned army list and then some how to guides based on what I intend my army to look like.

It's quite likely that I'll be sticking to the classic stony coloured skin instead of the more modern raw flesh look which is all well and good for demonstrating how far 'Eavy Metal have come but it is just not in keeping with (what I at least) believe an Ogre should look like.

With the release of Storm of Magic it also presents me with an opportunity to continue to use my Tomb Kings that I'm currently painting alongside my new Ogre project and pretty much every other army I have which (in keeping with my Yorkshire heritage) I'm dead chuffed with. After all skeletons make everything more awesome and their lack of flesh means they are unlikely to get eaten by ogres which is always a plus.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Joy of Sprue Fluff

The fun in models for me has always been the ability to create something unique and personal by using parts that are (typically) designed to be constructed in only one way. Without too much effort but with a lot of creativity I can make things that stand out and turn heads for all the right reasons, and I’d encourage anyone to do the same as you will find you start to think outside the box for inovative solutions in other parts of your life as well.

With that made clear I feel compelled to point out that the best model kit for me is one that contains ‘Sprue Fluff’. The term ‘Sprue Fluff’ can be defined as any model component that exists purely to either:

A. Give the modeller the opportunity to lavish his models with additional detail (a good example would be the variety of heads available in the Space Wolves kit).
B. Allow for the modeller to repose his model’s more dynamically (pointing hands and kneeling legs fall into this category, especially if standard hands & legs are provided also) and finally the most interesting category 
C. Pieces that exist purely to occupy remaining space on the Sprue.

Category C parts are what I wish to focus on as the reasons behind their existence vary dramatically. In early kit’s the existence of Sprue fluff was low primarily because it meant more work for the sculptor, on the odd occasion that you did find it, it mostly consisted of things such as knives for Catachans and Space Marine Scouts,  small runic symbols for Eldar and tiny piles of bullets for Ork’s. I specifically mentioned 40k races as early plastic fantasy kit’s were typically devoid of any Sprue fluff and although the fantasy kit’s now contain (in my opinion) the better Sprue fluff of the two game systems it also still has the largest amount of kit’s with dramatically empty Sprues (take a look at the Tomb Kings chariot kit for a perfect example).
As time has gone on Games Workshop has tried to provide Sprue fluff of all three category’s and in the process created fantastically evocative and detailed models that are often overlooked. These include but aren’t limited to the range of Knoblars available in the Ogre Kingdoms kits as seen below,

The dying Orc and Powder Monkey models from the Empire Archers and Musketeer kits respectively,

And even the Zombie Vulture from the Tomb Guard kit.

So when next buying models do a bit of research into what you’re getting aside from just what you expect and do what I do, browse eBay and obscure websites for more fun bitz! After all how can you call any model good if it doesn’t have a racing snail on it!

In time I hope that both Warhammer 40k and The Lord of The Rings game system kits come to contain the same high quality of additional parts just for the fun of it instead of all those grenade pouches and knives nobody ever uses (well unless you wish to stick grenades on to your Uruk-Hai I suppose).

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Brotherhood of the Forgotten - Novice Combat Squad

My Dad tends to vary up his painting within a rough framework I.E. it'll always end up being a part of the army he is currently focussing upon, if he feels like he's painting too many vehicles he'll paint the odd infantry model to keep his buzz going. Recently he's been restoring as best he can an old metal/plastic hybrid 'Land Raider Crusader' that although not completely unusable when we got it, it was in a bit of a poor condition. When it's closer to being finished I'll take a photograph of the box so you can get some sort of idea of how old this thing is as well as the finished article itself.

For now though I have some photographs from the other side of the coin. When my Dad got a little bored of his landraider he cobbled together a combat squad of Space Marines out of spare parts he'd removed from severely damaged models he was given some time ago. Not content with just painting them as reguler Marines he felt they should be painted in a way that reflects their origins.

 Unlike most chapters the Brotherhood consider their colours not so much sacred but extremely meaningful (more so than any markings or awards a Marine may have aquired in their life span) this is because of the sheer variety of fighting men they hold responsibility over. Awarding a guardsman for an act of valour a Space Marine would just be expected to do may lead to dissent amongst the less experienced troops.
 To avoid this all inductees recieve the colour of inner clarity and understanding, Bleached Bone. In time providing they are succesful with their training or their missions they will recieve the colour of devotion and will, Darksun Yellow. Then finally the colour of unity, Calthan Brown is applied. As you've probably noticed although the order is strict the degree to which it is applied varies dramatically (with some emphasizing colours they feel reflect their own personal attributes more than others). As the Shadow Guard made clear though, these colours are not some mark of great triumph or victory, from the lowest guardsman to the mightiest hero of the chapter they above all else resemble the cohesive front they forged to stand against the forces of the darkness and their own personal daemons.

By now I'm sure you've noticed 'Silver Skull' at the front. His backstory is different from most other members of the chapter as he was found already dead inside of a Blackened Sabre Attack Craft that had been boarded shortly after it was immobilised. Wearing grey armour covered in unusual markings his flesh had been burnt away from his cybernetic enhancements. Feeling so inclined to grant him a proper buriel they purified his body and brought it back to their battle barge. After swift analysis by Adraunicus he discovered that the space marine was still alive! After repairing his essential systems 'Silver Skull' was deemed to be one of the legendary Eternal Warriors, however even after offering him a great robe of shadow he still insisted on training the Novices and ensuring that his saviours would find their redemption.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Sprue Review - Citadel Finecast Ork Tankbusters

As promised I am writing a review of the new citadel finecast range in both a general and a specific sense (i.e. the quality of the resin and it's molding process as well as do models look any better in this new material versus their original metal counterparts.) I'll be using my typical sprue review format and if I get the time I'll include a few photographs.

I recognise that I typically start with a first glance of the sprue but I felt that the new 'clamshell' packaging has some points to be said about it. From a structural stability standpoint everything is very neat and tidy and is pretty sturdy meaning that your new model is far from likely to be damaged by transportation at least so that's a plus, also much like the old blisters you retain the ability to take a good look at what you're getting before you buy which trust me is something you definitely want to do (I'll say why later). Another positive improvement is the small graphic on the blister giving you some indication of what your model should look like once constructed (it might stifle the creativity of some in terms of paint schemes but for myself having a bit of guidance as to what is flash or not is always handy). Finally my only negative is that unless your store owner has a pair of scissors around these blisters are a pain in the ass to get open and the plastic is sharp enough to cut you if you aren't careful.

Sprue First Glance
The Ork Tankbusters originally being metal wouldn't have had a sprue which is both good and bad and I'm going to tell you why. Although metal models pretty much always have vent trails left on them they are typically very small and easy to remove unlike plastic kits which when removed from the sprue typically end up with difficult to clean rough patches or burr's as they are sometimes called. More modern plastic kits attempt to ensure that burr's can only form in places that will be covered up or are easy to clean but the new citadel finecast kits have yet to benefit from the experience of plastic model mold makers yet and as such they typically end up with burrs in the worst possible places. However on the plus side though having the model on the sprue means that they are kept perfectly static in transit and unlike metal models they don't rub against each other causing sharp edges to dull off or break.

In comparison to the originals the models look exactly the same. literally zero improvement. I can't say that's a bad thing but is does feel a bit like we've paid more to get less as of course resin is cheaper and the models appear to have benefited little from the process. Of course that doesn't mean to say that applies to all of the models (far from it) as some of the other models I bought look much better. I'd say that if a model is more than say 2-3 years old you're better off getting it in it's original metal as the increased price is not worth it for something so old, however more recent models (Goblin Sneaky Stabbaz for instance) show vast improvement.

Production Quality
I'm not going to lie to you, it stinks. Although for this review I've ensured that the models are pretty clean the original box of Tankbusters I got were so awful I'd have to resculpt their hands, crotch and chins to make them even usable. At that rate I might as well have sculpted them from scratch. Thankfully as always Games Workshop allowed me to exchange the models straight away as well as keep the busted ones (heck I might be able to do something with them). My opinion is that should you be fortunate to get a set of models that are good then they will be fantastic but these models lack consistency and that worries me, I'd like to think I could pick any box of the shelf and it be of a high standard and not be a total crap shoot.

For models of this style and size they aren't any easier to build than the metal one's were but to be fair you couldn't get any easier anyway. Cleaning them on the other hand...even with fancy tools and equipment some parts of the model were literally impossible to clean making all the fine detail on the model irrelevant as I ended up ruining it scraping great big sheets of flash from them. Things like Straps, buckles, stitches and fingers suffered greatly but again I can't say the metal one's were devoid of the problem merely that it was nowhere near as severe.One thing I will say though is that the mildly porous nature of the resin means that parts stick together more securely with less glue so that's positive.

Conversion and Customisation Opportunities
Oddly enough this new resin material is more resilient than metal in some ways but not others e.g. dropping it from a table typically doesn't make it explode apart like metal models used too but on the other hand when it does break it breaks very badly as in comparison to metal models it doesn't break at the glued join but at weak points in the resin itself. The good thing is that it is soft and pliable enough to be cut, filed and generally reshaped to be repaired as well as allow for new weapons and heads or a completely different stance if you are willing to take the time. Specifically speaking though Tankbusters (although fantastic as they are) aren't easily modified, which is not to say it's impossible but creativity will be required. One suggestion would be to make them into Ork Kommando's (if you can't wait for those to be made in resin also) by attaching suitably vicious looking hands holding knives and suitably sleek looking Ork Slugga's. The addition of a jaw plate and a stealthy paint job will work wonders.

Overall Conclusions
So they aren't the best thing since sliced bread (sliced bread is pretty awesome, I'm eating a salami sandwich as I type this). But they are capable of being a positive and beneficial investment for Games Workshop providing they work on their product quality control and make sure that you and your friend recieve models of similar if not exactly the same standard every time. If I had to give the new range a score it'd be 6.5/ 10 as for these Tankbusters (the box that wasn't miscast anyway) 8/10.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Citadel 'Fine Cast' Early Opinions

Typically I'm a person who reserves judgement of a new product until I can feel it in my hands but this current announcement has got me riled up enough to get my views on the situation out in the open earlier than usual.

 I can't really describe how angry I am without it coming off as nerd rage but  I am a devoted fan of classic metal models and this seems to be a method for GW to increase their profit margins under the guise of progress without taking into account the true joy of having a heavy chunk of metal in your hands whilst thinking of the many possibilities that await.

Now don't get me wrong, their are some models that I agree would benefit from the process purely from a financial standpoint but this is where it buggers up. Nearly all of the models on the leaked list are special character models, big monsters or elite infantry units (things like Flamers of Tzeentch and that sort of jazz). With that in mind the R.R.P increase seems absurd, people avoid buying those models currently because they are expensive not because they are metal, making them out of a new material won't help anything especially if they are going to cost more to pay for the costs associated with 'inventing' this new process.

For example, people have been wanting Chaos Space Marine Raptors and Chaos Plague Marines in plastic for ages but not for aesthetic or convenience reasons but purely because they are extremely expensive. Most if not all of the fans of these models like them exactly as they are, they are just frustrated that they can't afford them (myself included and I don't even play chaos). GW finally get the opportunity to reduce the costs of the models (as I'm guessing this plastic resin hybrid material weighs substantially less and therefore is cheaper to transport, so that's some small saving atleast) but instead they intend to put people off buying these models even further by taking away their gravitas and feeling of importance. A model being made out of metal for me always ment that it was something special, I bought plastic kits to screw around and have a laugh with but I got metal kits as birthday or christmas presents and because of that I'd labour over them to get them perfect.

In conclusion, I will purchase these models in order to write an appropriate (hopefully unbiased and fair) review but for the time being I will make it clear, I don't want my special models to feel disposable and tatty compared to older metal miniatures when (if you consider the rediculously escalating prices of the damn things) they are anything but.

Tl;Dr When I hit a guy in the back of the head with my casket of souls or my tomb spyder I want that son of a bitch to stay down damn it, if my model comes off worse than rule breakers than I'll demand a refund!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Ork Army Progress - Fick Fook's Smashy Horde

As unimaginative as the army name might be it does happen to suit it down to the ground. The Unfortunate downside of this naming choice is that the army includes a rediculous quantity of Ork Infantry. As it stands at the moment I have 20 Ork's, 5 Nob's, an Ork Warboss, a Custom Killa Kan (More of a display piece) and a converted chimera that will serve as either a Trukk, a Battlewagon or a Looted Wagon depending on what it looks like when completed.

That's before basing them all *faints*.

It's not too bad really as most of my Ork's are nearing completion and I've nearly finished one of the Nobz (just missing an arm at the moment). As a theme I went with the snakebites as I've always liked the contrast between savage primordial anger and advanced space age technology that Ork's bring to 40k and the snakebites take that contrast to the extreme; especially considering my ork's have flint axes and bow's here and there just to add variety.