Sunday, 19 January 2020

The new count

Today I'm laying to rest the Undead project that I started 21 months ago. Bar a few spare arms and perhaps the odd torso, I've gone through my entire collection (over 30 years worth of miniatures) and constructed and painted every ghoul, zombie, skeleton, and vampire that I could find.

Of that last category I've only really got a single model. The metal Winged Vampire Lord, probably sculpted by Brian Nelson and released around 2009 as part of Games Workshop's updated Vampire Counts range. A semi-armoured Nosferatu-style vampire, caught midway between his human and bat forms.

I thought he'd make a decent, potential general for my teething, rotting masses of undead, giving me an interesting, additional option for the allegiance of the entire force. Now, with a simple swap of leadership the army can go from being the re-animated thralls of a crazed necromancer, to the demented followers of a cabal of Chaos sorcerers, or the mind-slaved minions of a lone vampire.*

Talking of necromancers, I thought the middle guy above would make a pretty good proxy for one – especially as I don't currently have one in my collection. He was originally constructed to be a ghoul, but while painting all the incredible detail, I started to think he might just pass for a character model. And not necessarily just an undead-loving-mage – those spiky teeth of his could also see him playing the part of a vampire lieutenant.

Either way, he's seen above flanked by his new-found zombie Chaos warrior bodyguards.

And tucked away here at the end is another really old model that has recently had a slight make-over and fresh paint job. Given the context, I suppose I ought to say it's been "re- vamped". It's an ancient Citadel Miniature, the Arcane Monstrosities Monstrous Orc War Machine from 1983, and is probably one of the oldest models in my collection. Along with a few other rock lobbers, catapults, wagons and bolt throwers, I'm going to use it as a freelancer – switching it between relevant armies and/or terrain pieces as, when and if the need arises.

So that's 16 newly finished miniatures – more than I managed in the whole of last year – meaning I have less than a quarter of my addiction challenge to go. Here's the new count:


*I actually prefer seeing it spelt 'vampyr' for that extra little dose of gothic-horror-ness. Although while I'm on the subject, the term 'haemophage' as used by China Miéville in his excellent Bas-Lag trilogy, is probably even better.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Rest in peace with the rest of the pieces

Hot on the heels of the previous post, here are the very last miniatures for my current Undead collection. I can hardly believe I'm this close to finishing a whole project. It's such a rare occurrence for me. In fact I'm not sure any of my other collections have ever got this far.

Apart from the Vampire Lord and the skeleton cow, these final models are basically just made up of all the bits 'n' pieces I had left over from the earlier builds, simply glued together as best as I could.

The cow is an ancient model coming from what I believe may have been the very first Undead wagon (or war machine) of any sort to be released by Citadel Miniatures – the Plague Cart, from 1987. If it's not the first, then it's certainly one of the earliest. I've decorated the base a bit, and added a beaten up bell hanging from its neck, but otherwise it's pretty much as it was back at the end of the eighties.

Most of the other miniatures are from the Zombie Regiment (with a few Chaos Warrior parts thrown into the mix), but there's also a straggler from the original Skeleton Horde (with swapped weapon and shield), a Ghoul from Mantic (with new arms), and the remainders of three Ghouls from Rackham (all with head swaps, and the odd new limb).

My goal is to get them painted before the year is out, so the challenge is on. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Elephants and memories

Inside I'm smiling. In fact, outside I'm smiling too. Because I've finished the other skeleton war mammoth that I started way back here, about a year and a half ago. Even though I started it a long time ago, I couldn't just forget about it. I feel a commitment to all the projects I start, and the guilt of not completing them means I will keep revisiting them until they are done. Even if it takes years – which it often does. This is mainly down to my lack of hobby time and skittish tastes, but also because I tend to paint at a lumbering speed, probably not dissimilar to the one an undead elephant travels at. An undead elephant stripped of all muscle, and carrying a small house on its back.

This newly completed model only mildly affects my Addiction Challenge score, but every little helps.


My Undead project is nearing its conclusion now, with both mammoths finished, the cavalry from last week, and all the troops from last year. There's just a handful of stragglers left to build and paint (mainly to use up some of the left over bits 'n' pieces from the previous models). It's kind of exciting to see a project nearing the finish line, so hopefully this will keep my momentum going till I cross it.

But let's not celebrate too early. 

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Rattling back into action

It's been a long time. A very long time. Nearly five months since this blog has been updated. Some may have thought Torva Tenebris abandoned. Terminated. Dead. Buried six feet below the ground, never to be seen again, but that's not the case. It simply had a bit of a break over the summer, and it's taken a while for me to get it up and running again.

But now that I've reanimated it – breathed new life into its old dead bones – I'd like to share a completed unit. It's the Undead horsemen that I put together about this time last year.

If you read the earlier posts about their construction (here, here and here), then you may be aware that most of these models are from the 1980s, but have all been chopped about a bit. In fact, some have undergone a considerable amount of jiggery-pokery to make their size more consistent with their companions. Hopefully the paint and 'dirt' hides most of the crimes I committed during that process.

And these six newly finished miniatures mean my Addiction Challenge score is finally taking a dent.


Hopefully there'll be some more dents soon.

Monday, 15 July 2019

The start of something big (but small)

Since my last post I've been furiously prepping my horde of Grots: cleaning, gluing, filling, basing, and undercoating my way to a force of Gobbos that are ready to start taking paint. 

Contrary to what I said in my previous post, I've decided to try an entirely new method of painting them that will involve green washes on the skin and maybe some yellow Contrast paint on the fabric. This means one of the preparation stages is slightly different to normal, so I've outlined the first few steps below.

Stage 1. I started by roughly trimming all the individual parts and gluing them together on the base. Some bits were plastic, some were metal, and some were resin, so I used liquid poly for plastic to plastic joins, and superglue for anything else. If a join looked weak, I drilled out both bits using a pin vice, and pinned them together using superglue and a paperclip cut to fit.

Stage 2. Using a scalpel and a Citadel Mouldline Remover tool, I then cleaned up any obvious flash and excess material left over from the casting process. I also filled any holes and/or joins with green stuff.

Stage 3. I then textured the base, by covering it in white PVA glue and dipping it into a small container of thick, coarse sand and tiny stones.

Stage 4. Although this picture looks almost identical to the one before, it is nevertheless an extremely important stage. You have to paint watered-down PVA glue over the top of the sand to give it any chance of staying in place. I think I probably use a roughly 1:1 mix of PVA to water. Maybe a little more PVA, as the water is simply there to help it flow.

Stage 5. This is the undercoat stage, and is the bit that is slightly different to my normal process. I usually just prime everything in plain black, but with these guys I wanted a pre-shaded, much lighter finish to take the washes and Contrast paints. Therefore I started by lying the miniature down, with the bottom of the base facing me, and lightly spraying black from underneath. At this point I don't want to cover the model, but just to get a little darkness into the deepest down-facing recesses – like armpits and groin regions. I then stand it up and spray grey from all around, at a roughly horizontal 90º. And then finally white from above and about 45º off. It's a bit of a faff, but I'm hoping it will prove an effective shortcut for adding a little extra shade and highlight.

And that's that. But before I could start painting, I just had the small matter of repeating the entire process another 43 times.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Lads, lads, lads

These seven diminutive bad guys (six if you only count the bases) were originally meant to be test models for a larger force. They were a small precursor squad to get the colours and tones right for the main bulk of the Grots, Gobbos or Gretchin that were to be found scattered throughout my Ork Armoured Brigade. Some as armed combatants, others as mechanics, medics and helpers for their larger, even more unpleasant, Ork overlords.

I painted them several years ago, hoping to quickly iron out the method and go on to do the rest of their mates. But alas, as is often the case, that plan never came to fruition and these guys remained alone, holding their own, surrounded by their bigger, brutal cousins, for way longer than I ever anticipated. 

So recently I've been cleaning up the remaining miniatures in the hope I'll be able to continue with them en masse. I've got 40 or 50 more of the nasty little blighters, so they could be just what I need to finally put my Addiction Challenge to bed.

Or, as might be the case when relying on horrible little goblins for anything, this whole project could end up completely running amok, cluttering up my desk, sowing chaos and confusion across other, more worthy, pursuits and generally taking up way too much of my already depleted time.

Let's see, shall we?

Thursday, 20 June 2019

What's on the desk, then?

In the absence of any real progress on either my small squad of Judge Enforcers or my little cluster of Undead, I thought it would be a good idea to share a few photos of some of the other projects currently cluttering up my desk. Not just to keep this blog up to date, but also for my own mental well-being – a visual list of the outstanding things on my plate, that I've mentioned here before, but still haven't finished. Starting with those aforementioned skellies.

These guys have got a bit of colour on them, and are slowly making their way towards completion, but there's still a way to go.

Scrap-built, modular, industrial terrain (and Games Workshop shipping container) for the city of Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda, or Kru for short. The larger pieces are primed, with the odd spot of colour, but I'm having a bit of a rethink about doing them all grey.

Kit-bashed Sisters of Silence (Or Psilence, as I prefer) and Thunder Warrior. I'm not sure I've ever mentioned the big fella on here before, but he's very much part of my six-strong band of 30K style warriors (my kit-bashed Custodes being the other three).

Mercenaries, henchmen and adventurers. A bunch of converted characters, likely to be found in the city of Kru, undercoated black, with a grey zenithal highlight spray, but otherwise currently going nowhere fast.

Rag-tag Ork vehicles in various stages of completion. It's always a joy to glue random bits of plastic together until you see something you like.

Plague Marines. At some point this little skirmish force will be joining their two Spider-Dreads, but for now they haven't got much further than a base coat in an appropriate shade of green.

And finally here are the civilian vehicles that are siting on my desk. The articulated (and satisfyingly modular) lorry is from Puppets War, and the two cars are from Antenociti's Workshop.

That's it for now. I'm hoping to have some progress on the Judges soon, so I'll hold off showing them here for the time being. Also, there are quite a few as-yet-unseen other projects lying around on my desk, but I'll probably introduce those on a one-by-one basis, as, when and if, they ever show any signs of significant development.