Friday, April 25, 2014

Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) Army Commission Project WIP (Part 2)

First Completed Squad

     Five down and 36 more to go.  GUH!  I shouldn't say it like that.  How about one squad down and seven more to go?  That's slightly better.  This squad took me about a week to complete from primed to finished.  I can only paint after 8:00 pm and I didn't paint every single night during that week.  I think that I can refine my process and get another five models done in perhaps 4 or 5 days (and that's allowing for some nights were I don't paint).

Thoughts About the Models

     I'm becoming more familiar with these models now.  I want to remind people just how old these sculpts are.  Some of these models are on the near side of almost 20 years old.  That's INSANE!  Unfortunately they show their age in a number of ways.  Obviously the first tell-tale sign is that they're metal.  I've been over that before so I'll move on.  The next big indicator is the faces.  The faces are a bit crude.  They aren't ugly, but there is a HUGE difference in the finer detail that can be achieved via plastic or resin crafted through modern sculpting techniques.  And finally there are just some bad looks that had to be made given the technology of the day.

     When these models are sitting at normal gaming distance, none of these faults really matter.  They still look like a part of the 40K aesthetic.  The only thing that might strike you at that distance is that there appears to be quite a large number of repeat poses.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

First Completed Scion

Astra Militarum Tempestus Scion Showcase

     I've completed my first Tempestus Sci... BAH nevermind that silly name... STORM TROOPER! HAH! Yes I've completed my first Storm Trooper from the new kit.  I'm not planning on cranking this squad out just now, as I've got bigger fish to fry.  I really wanted to completely assemble and paint one of these new models, however, so I could learn a bit more and give you guys a more detailed review of the model.


     This kit, more than any other infantry kit from Games Workshop, demands that you follow the instructions.  On my previous post concerning this kit, I mentioned the instruction booklet (which it actually is, not a single sheet but an actual little booklet) and how impressed I was with it.  After completing the first model, I now know that the amount of detail they put in there was absolutely required.  The power cords coming off most of the weapons require that you match them to certain arms and backpacks.  Test fitting your model before you start gluing is mandatory too.  The backpack's power cord needs to meet up with the weapon's power cord and that determines the angle of the arms.  I would recommend plastic glue for assembly over super glue.  As long as you check and double check the fit of everything prior to gluing, you'll be fine.


     Games Workshop released a two part video tutorial on their YouTube channel (you can find part one here).  I want to first point out that this recent trend of them releasing these tutorials to coincide with their recent releases is actually really smart.  The videos are easy to follow, and well produced.  Even a 6 year veteran to the hobby can still learn some things from these.  I decided to follow their basic path to completion, but I altered colors to match with my existing guard.

Here are my other Imperial Guard Infantry... sorry... Astra Militarum *sigh*

     I tend to fully assemble infantry models before painting as I figure that if it's difficult to get my brush there in order to paint something, it's generally difficult to see that area.  That said, if I were looking to paint this figure up to a competition standard, I would have left the weapon off to better paint the chest armor.  There are some very fiddly details on these models so I also recommend just base coating pretty much everything first, then coming back to clean up prior to applying washes.  This should be pretty standard practice, but with all these fine details (like the metal trimming all over the armor) you want to make sure your base coats are nice and clean, carefully going over all the edges where two colors meet.

     One thing that stood out as I neared the end of painting on this model: no decals.  I wasn't a fan of transfers when I started in the hobby, but after becoming more familiar with all the tips and tricks in applying them, making them blend into the model, and weathering them, I've come to quite enjoy them.  My guard veteran squads all have transfers, each with a meaning as to the organization of my particular regiment.  I like these little visual story bits.  The new Storm Trooper kit does not have a transfer sheet at all, which isn't a surprise because there isn't any actual real estate on which you could apply them.  I decided that I would copy the GW style of paint job on their box-art Temestus Scions and have an arm stripe, but instead of a brighter shade of blue, I would incorporate white, as that can be seen as a common color across my existing guard.  This decision turned out to be a wise one.  Once I added this stripe, the figure seemed to be complete.  If you are planning on following your own custom theme for your Scions, and perhaps you were on the fence about the arm stripe, I am here to say that it's a good idea.  Here are some pictures followed by a few last words.  Enjoy:


     I like these models, but I actually like them a slight bit less than I did on first impression.  These models are perhaps too detailed.  With hardly any larger open surface areas, I found it difficult to express the same amount of freehand blending and weathering.  Weathering seemed to busy up the model a bit too much given the existing level of physical detail.  I'm going to try more edge weathering on subsequent Scion models.  I still like the models, just not quite as head-over-heels as I was when I saw those first leaked pictures.


     The base used for this model can be purchased from the fine folks over at Secret Weapons Miniatures.  This is from their "Urban Streets" bevel edged resin bases line found here.  I like the fine detail that Secret Weapons Miniatures has on their bases, but I have a few points of contention with this set.  The first complaint is that they are a bit "tall" which resulted in this Storm Trooper being about a head taller than my other guard on standard bases. The second complaint is that the beveled edge was rather rough and required a good bit of clean-up.  Both of these complaints certainly aren't deal-breakers, and I will most certainly continue to use them for my Tempestus Scion squads.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kris - The Other Dice God

I'm still figuring out this whole "painting" thing...

Better late than never!

     Hi there!  As I'm sure you've gleamed from my clever post title, my name is Kris.  I started this blog along with fellow Dice God member Sam almost 2 years ago, but this will be my first post.  Right now, the name of the game is Warhammer 40K.  I've previously played Grey Knights and Necrons, and currently have two army projects in the works - an Adepta Sororitas army (to which Sam is lending his amazing brush skills) and a still undecided Xenos army (more on that later).  I'm not a great painter, but I'm slowly trying to get better.  However, for my Sisters of Battle, I'm leaving that to a pro.

I may paint poorly, but at least I'm organized.

     Outside of 40K, my interests are spread all over the tabletop world, including Warmachine (Menoth), Firestorm Armada (Relthoza), BattleTech (Clan Wolf), X-Wing, Magic the Gathering (mono-white Angels), Yu-Gi-Oh! (Dragons) and Heroclix.  I've also got a big box of Relic Knights coming sometime later this year, containing 4 separate armies (Doctrine and Shattered Sword Paladins for me, Noh Empire and Black Diamond for Sam).  I also do a bit of board gaming with a group of friends, including games like Zombicide, Descent and Super Dungeon Explore.

I painted these when I was 11.  Don't mind the dust...

Where did he come from?

     While I'm still relatively new to 40K (having only started mid-way through 5th edition), my entry into tabletop war gaming began almost two decades ago.  It was the summer of 1995.  MechWarrior 2 had just released for the PC and reruns of the BattleTech animated series were airing every morning.  What can I say, I was a pre-teen who liked him some giant walking death machines.  It was no surprise that when I saw a group of people playing BattleTech at my local comic shop, I was instantly hooked.  I spent several years as part of our local MechWarrior's Guild, but then high school happened any my attention shifted to girls and sports.

I won one of these!

Then what happened?

     Graduation came and went, and I felt the desire to game on the tabletop once again.  But when I went looking for the BattleTech community, they were nowhere to be found.  Instead, there were two new games out that everyone was talking about locally: Heroclix and Yu-Gi-Oh!  I dove in head first and ended up playing both at the national tournament level for a while before pulling back to a casual interest level (though I do still dabble in both from time to time).

     Fast forward to 2009 and Dawn of War II for the PC.  I found the world of Warhammer 40K completely fascinating.  I began reading wikis and searching for any fluff I could find.  So, when my good friend Sam mentioned being interested in getting into 40K, I was all in. For the second time in my life, a video game led me to the tabletop.  I suppose the rest is history!

You mentioned something about an undecided army?

     Indeed I did!  My main work in progress 40K army is a heavily mechanized Adepta Sororitas list.  I desire a second army, but I'm unable to decide between the following three ideas:

  • Necrons with Triarch Stalkers, Annihiliation Barges and Immortals in Night Scythes.
  • Iyanden Eldar with Wraithguard, Wraithlords, a Wraithknight and a Forge World Wraithseer
  • The same Eldar above, but dropping the Wraithseer and putting the Wraithguard in Wave Serpents
     I tend to build army lists around models I like and themes I enjoy.  Sure, Necron Wraiths are awesome and Eldar Jetbikes tend to dominate, but neither of them fit my army vision.  I'd rather lose with an army I love than win with a win-at-all-costs list.

     So...  What are you waiting for?  Leave a comment and let me know which army you think I should move forward with!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Scions Kit Has Some Surprises

New and Improved

     The release of the new plastic Storm Troopers (or Tempestus Scions) is pretty exciting for me.  I've had an Imperial Guard army in the works for quite some time.  One of the units I had on my wish list was Storm Troopers, but the metal models turned me off a bit.  The Kasrkins looked alright, but the unit didn't come with the weapons I wanted, so that meant having to buy multiple special weapons models.  The price of a single unit really began to be completely unappealing.  I figured that the Storm Troopers would be redone in the next Imperial Guard codex, and it looks like my guess was spot on.  I'm glad I waited.

     I purchased a box of the new Tempestus Scions ahead of the Astra Militarum codex since I know that I'm going to have at least one unit, and this would allow me to to scope out the models, and plan how I was going to build them.  It has been quite a while since I've purchased a brand new release from GW, and what I found in the box was pretty surprising.

     The density of parts on the sprue meant that they only needed two sprues and they were truly packed with detail.  The one box allows you to build out a command squad or 5 members of a regular Scions squad, including all the options for that.  I am a big fan of the Imperial Guard Cadian Command Squad box, and this reminds me of that.  Lots of extra options and choices for assembling unique models across multiple squads.

     While that's nice, there were a few things that really stood out.  The fidelity of these sculpts is beyond anything I've seen from Games Workshop before.  The details were very crisp, and there was some clever features for helping a modeler assemble the characters properly.  To show off the improved "resolution" of the models, I would like to show an example.  The Hot-Shot Volley Gun has such fine detail that there are actually TINY gaps in between the barrels within the model.  Check it out:

That's impressive!

     The instructions were an improvement as well.  This booklet covered all the different model types you could build out, labeled all the weapons, and showed all the decorative elements.  There are five backpacks that combine with five of the Hot-shot Lasrifles, and five specific sets of arms.  The instructions shows all of these five pairings, gives you sprue numbers and what's great is that the physical arms have the numbers for the set imprinted on them as shown below:

The two arms marked with a "5" pair together with a specific rifle and backpack.
     I'm no fan of Games Workshop's business practices, but there is no denying their technical capability.  This kit is pretty clear evidence of that.  I'm looking forward to assembling these, and when I do I'll be sure to share some more pictures.  Thanks for reading!

Adepta Sororitas (Sisters of Battle) Army Commission Project WIP (Part 1)

Sisters of Battle Project is Go

     A few years back, a good friend of mine asked if I would be available for a commissioned army.  He had long been a fan of the Adepta Sororitas (a.k.a. The Sisters of Battle) and had desired to have an army.  A few road blocks presented themselves for him when deciding on this army:

  1. The Codex - At the time they were encapsulated in the "Witch Hunters" codex, which was generally pretty poor performing in Warhammer 40K 5th Edition (which was the new edition on the scene when he and I entered the hobby).  It was badly in need of an update, but no credible rumor foretold of an imminent refresh.
  2. The Price/Kits - The sets up models that you could purchase from GW were expensive.  Generally they were lacking in the specific weapon choices that my friend wanted to run.  This meant that he would have to spend even more to pick up additional models with the proper weapons, and he'd have a pile of models holding weapons he wasn't even interested in running.
  3. The Metal - In addition to these model kits including or excluding options he didn't/did want, they were ALL metal.  Even after Finecast came on the scene, these models remained metal.  Now metal as a medium for delivering a detailed miniature is just fine, but working with metal for extensive conversions or giving you choices for assembly, metal is terrible.  Compare these metal models to one of the modern plastic squad kits and you'll see the obvious short comings.  Among the units he wanted to field there would be a huge number of repeated models.  And if you had a specific look that you wanted, like helmeted heads, forget it.  You got what you got.
     The arrival of their new (digital only) codex brought them a refresh, but not much of one.  They changed the faith powers (making them a bit more "meh") and tweaked around here and there, but that was it.  No new units, no new amazing special rules, and certainly no new models.

So many blister packs!

The Beginnings

     He decided that his dreams of new kits, amazing new codex, and modular plastics as far as the eye could see were a bit of a pipe dream.  Given that the only constant with Games Workshop is "price increases" he would be better off just buying them now before they went the way of the Squats.  He showed up at my house with some very hefty boxes stuffed full of metal infantry and piles of vehicles.  The journey began.  We spent most of a day just filing, clipping and cleaning up the infantry.  If you've never worked with metal, you might not be familiar with the process.  Just like plastic models, mold lines are an issue, but unlike plastic, metal models can have all sorts of "nibblets" poking out (and 'poking' is the right word as these things can be sharp and generally pointed directly outward from the model at your beckoning flesh) as well as some pretty beefy "gates" where the metal has the be clipped and filed in huge chunks.  In addition to all that, pinning is generally a must for a quality long-living model.  If you drop a metal mini that hasn't been properly pinned, expect an explosion of parts.

Heavy Metal!

     I also wanted to be sure to pin all models to their bases, again assuring that they'd weather the wear of time far better.  Pinning mean drilling.  Drilling and filing combine to make some unhappy metal dust that I would recommend avoiding if at all possible.  I might have shortened my life span working on these models.  The work must go on!

Testing the Paint Scheme

     Long before we began the assembly, my friend had carefully thought out his desired paint scheme.  He wanted something unique that would stand out, and colors that he obviously just liked in general.  He ran these thoughts by me.  This is great because I could work with him to figure out what would work best in color theory, and advise about techniques I had tried so I knew what would work and what wouldn't.  He sent me along a reference picture and I grabbed his one extra Bolter Sister and conducted a test run.  Here are the results:

     This first test was painted slightly rough for speed.  No matte coat was applied so some parts of the model are overly glossy, but I wanted to get some idea of how the color scheme would look, and how the model was to paint.  Learning your way around a model is very important.  I have, at times, sat at my painting desk for a good 30 minutes just looking over a model prior to painting just to understand where things were, and what order I wanted to paint things in.

     This first test was pretty good, but it just didn't feel right to me.  My big concern was the reds.  While they looked red, they really didn't pop.  Looking at it now, it seems like the red is very "realistic" which sounds great but this is 40K we're talking about.  Realism is for historics and people making military dioramas.  I wanted to have another pass:

     This pass was much more along the lines of what I thought this bad ass Space Nun should look like.  I used Citadel Mephiston Red base (or 'foundation') paint.  I just painted directly over my previous Reaper Violet Red.  I then used an orange edge highlight with a yellow final highlight.  This really made the model stand out at normal gaming distance, but still looked great close in.  My friend was pleased with this version and now I'm ready to move along.

In grey primer, they almost look plastic!  If only...

Primed and Waiting

     I went ahead and primed all 41 of the infantry models.  I'll be working on them in batches of five.  A five model batch, I feel, is the right volume in order to do some very detailed painting, while still affording you some assembly-line benefits.  The only down-side to five versus ten is that you might still have some waiting to do when applying washes or other slow-drying techniques.  I save the larger batches for things like Ork Boyz.  It also works out that his squad sizes are nearly all five models, so I decided to just do these as squads which also allows me some (limited) variety in the models that I'm painting.  It's good to mix models up just a little bit within the parameters of assembly lining things to give you a little mental relief.

Stacks on stacks on stacks of vehicles.

Get on the Bus

     These lovely ladies need a ride, so my friend purchased seven Immolators in addition to three Exorcists (to provide some vehicle/elite sniping support).  I think that I can now assemble a Rhino chassis in pretty short order.  I would like to take a moment and tip my hat to the Sisters' vehicle kits, because these are amazing.  For the price of a Rhino, the Immolator offers a HUGE amount of decorative elements that are either Sister specific or just Gothic and grim-dark as all get out.  The Exorcist is no exception.  If you can look past the fact that the quarter and front panels are all metal, along with the massive amount of metal on top of the vehicle, there is some stunning detail here.  I think I would describe it as "lavish" and that's no stretch.  The pipe organ is apparently not to everyone's taste, but I can't think of anything more Gothic than a freaking pipe organ on a missile launcher.  The Forge World alternative is boring, dull and boring.  I said 'boring' twice because it's doubly boring.


"Uhhh... Nottingham... We have a problem."

     All is not sunshine and hugs in the land of Sisters' vehicles, however.  There is an error in the instructions.  I've pointed to the error in the above photo.  There are four lengths of tread per side of a Rhino chassis.  A single tread, a double tread, a triple tread, and the enormous long tread length for the bottom.  The instructions show a triple tread piece being used on the rear of the vehicle, on the top of the tread curve.  This is wrong, however, and you should use a double tread piece.  This error would have been easily caught if I was just assembling one Rhino chassis, but when you're batch assembling 10 vehicles, and you've just clipped out all the basic chassis pieces and put them into one box, you might just be dumb enough to follow the instructions.  Thankfully, after contacting Games Workshop's customer service, they have sent out addition double triple tread pieces so I can complete the remaining three chassis.  

     Maybe this bit of text stops someone from making the same mistake in the future, but I doubt it will come up all that often.  How many people do you know are out there assembling 10 Sisters of Battle vehicles?  That's pretty much what I thought.

More to Come

     There will be more updates to come as I complete some painting.  If you have any questions about these models, or if you're interested in the army list that my friend is planning on running, please feel free to comment or email.  You can also see some more pictures of the test model in my Flikr feed off to the right.  Enjoy and thanks for reading!