Thursday, 3 March 2022

Necromunda Ash Wastes inter-spire light haulage rig and escort runner

In anticipation of the release of the new Necromunda Ash Wastes vehicular combat game, I've dug out a handful of unfinished models and given them a coat of paint.

At the time of writing there's some speculation about the forthcoming game, but not many hard facts. As far as I can tell it looks set to introduce something like the Road Warrior aesthetic of the Mad Max films into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And not for the first time either. Games Workshop has gone down this route before. Previous instances of the company riffing on George Miller's post-apocalyptic Australian action film series have produced the games Dark Future, Gorkamorka and Speed Freeks.

These three games all have various crossover points with what I imagine the new Necromunda expansion to be, but Dark Future, released in the late 80s, was the only one that focussed on human gangs – even if the models were in a slightly different scale to everything else. Coming in at roughly 20mm tall, the miniatures were way bigger than 6mm Epic scale, yet smaller than the 28-32mm of most of GW's other games.* But that didn't stop them being brilliant. Here are a few pages from White Dwarf around the time.

The game bonded a kind of sports car, go-faster aesthetic with the darker Mad Max look and feel, and the results ended up being occasionally grimdark, and occasionally colourful, and occasionally somehow both.

This started me thinking about what I call the Star Wars paint-job. It's the colour schemes we find throughout the Star Wars franchise, where vehicles are painted in predominantly flat, neutral colour tones: greys, creams etc, with a single, brighter, accent colour injected for detailing. And then the whole thing is beaten up, battered, and generally made to look as if it's seen better days. Luke's X-Wing in the original movie is a classic example, and it felt like an interesting direction in which to take a couple of ground vehicles.

The car below is a Marrua Gaucho from Antenociti's Workshop. It's a solid chunk of resin, and I've talked about the pre-paint clean-up here. I've decided this is going to be an escort runner; a fast set of wheels used to accompany a slower moving vehicle, providing extra tactical options, and additional manpower.

Meanwhile, I've called the truck an inter-spire light haulage rig – mainly because I'm anticipating the land train in the forthcoming Ash Wastes boxset to do a similar job, but to be significantly heavier. The model is actually a Pegasus Tactical Vehicle from Puppets War. You used to be able to buy the trailer (seen in the top image of the below set) that afforded a few different ways to construct the whole thing. I wanted to keep this modular capability as open as possible, so I talked about magnetising the various parts in an earlier post, here.

Below are some of the various different possibilities from the kit, seen from a few different angles. It was important to me that the two alternate cabs had individual paint schemes, but that the rest of the parts would be completely compatible with both.

And last, and probably least, I also quickly painted up the following little fella. It was kind of a test model for the other two, where I could brush up on the techniques and see what worked. The model itself was just a cheap toy car that I found in a pound shop a few years ago, and thought might be good for just this purpose. I don't love the paint job or the vehicle, but it's good enough to pass as a bit of background texture, tucked away in a dark corner, out of full sight.

So now all that remains is to await the new game and see if these models fit with its as yet unseen contents. That and paint the other 6 or 7 hundred other miniatures I've already got kicking around at home.

*And, of course, a lot smaller than the 54mm of Inquisitor

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Pack it up, pack it in

Let me begin.

I'm currently facing an issue with the amount of stuff my family owns, versus the limited space in which we have to keep it all. There's a slowly rising tide of belongings that never quite fits anywhere and ends up leaving our home looking cluttered and untidy. I expect this might sound familiar to a fair few others out there.

I wonder if this problem still persists in the 41st millennium: Space Marines with more marks of armour than fit in their cupboard, Aeldari Rangers with helmets that are too tall for the shelf, Catachan Jungle Fighters with nowhere to keep their spare headbands.

If only there was somewhere to tuck all this surplus gear away.

Fortunately, if there's one thing that almost always improves a good sci-fi setting, it's crates. Crates in all shapes and sizes. Crates in a variety of exciting paint schemes, left lying around in any empty space that's in need of some extra detail. 

You see them in all sorts of science fiction media: movies, shows, comics and especially video games. Sometimes they are there for good reason, and sometimes they are merely set dressing. And Warhammer 40,000 is no different. Adding crates, containers, boxes and cylinders to the game's terrain can look so good I often have to consciously stop myself from randomly gluing them down all over the place. Little clusters of storage material, firmly fixed to some narrow gantry, completely blocking any access for actual miniatures, rendering the piece fairly useless in game terms, but really making it look the part. 

Really making it look the part, provided, of course, you can suspend disbelief for a moment and not question why something was neatly packed away, only to be left lying around in a completely inappropriate location.

Anyway, here are a couple of pieces I've just finished painting, ranging from big (completing the set I started back here) to small (using parts from a variety of sources, including Mantic Games, Citadel, and even some glued together bits from a broken one of these.)

They'll be joining the other pieces of scatter terrain, already in my collection, some of which can be seen below.

So now that I've stopped and thought about this, next time I see something similar, pushed into a spare corner of whatever science fiction story I'm looking at, I'll be asking myself what I think is actually in these crates, and, if it was worth packing up, why isn't someone stealing it?

Sunday, 9 January 2022

The cold, dark days of Winter

During the last few weeks, my warband of Chaos Warriors has received a handful of reinforcements. I've added the above twenty troops to their wintry ranks.

These guys are followers of Gshtaad, a Chaos god (or perhaps daemon) of my own devising, who is said to somehow be the offspring of Khorne the Lord of Skulls (god of blood, war and murder) and Nurgle the Plague Lord (god of disease, decay and despair). As such I like his worshippers to include a mix of models not just from Games Workshop's basic Chaos Undivided range, but also their Khornate and Nurglish lines.

You may also notice that a few of the miniatures shown here are not from any of the current Games Workshop Chaos ranges. This is because, over the years, I've drawn on a number of diverse sources for this collection, including Heresy Miniatures, Avatars of War, Rackham's Confrontation and older, now out-of-print, Citadel lines. In fact some of the older Citadel models are from my earliest purchases back in the 1980s, converted, or at least repurposed, to find a home here.

I usually try to blend these disparate sources together a little, in an attempt to develop some level of unity within the army, swapping helmets and weapons, and sculpting fur out of green stuff.

Wood, bone, leather, flesh and rusty metal also feature heavily, as do various shades of the colours green and red.

Some of the miniatures here, on the smaller bases, represent Marauders, rather than fully-fledged Warriors. In my mind Marauders are not just lighter-armed Chaos troops, but also less capable. So as well as big, brawny fighters, the likes of which are found in the Citadel Chaos Marauders box, their ranks might also include younger characters, or less enthusiastic conscripts, forced to fight: scrawny cannon-fodder who likely won't last through their first conflict.

Once finished I popped these on the shelf with their kinsfolk and took a quick snap. It's not a great picture, so I'll try to do some better ones when I can, but at least for now it starts to hint at the growing extent of my little Chaos warband.

Friday, 17 December 2021

Hammer time! (*hammer not included)

ABC War Robots. Atomic. Bacterial. Chemical. Mass-produced, automated troops, designed to withstand the most hostile warfare environments. I may have said this before, but it's definitely worth saying again: everyone needs one of these in their life. So here's mine, Hammerstein, leader of the ABC Warriors, and now my stand-in model for any dangerous, humanoid robot in any science fiction miniatures game you care to mention.

I decided I wanted a model of this implacable metal soldier after completing my squad of Adeptus Arbites Enforcers inspired by the Judges from the 2012 Karl Urban Dredd movie

As a continuing homage, I thought it would be cool to revisit the earlier 1995 Stallone movie, Judge Dredd, and try to build one of the Judges' main foes.

This guy

Seen here deploying signature 'red steel' 'looks to kill.'

However I soon stopped short when I realised I had no idea whatsoever how to go about doing this. No idea whatsoever until I saw something rather excellent on Twitter. Enter Martin Carcosa and his ancient cybernetica combat unit, based on the same high-cheekboned, killer robot.

So thanks are due to Martin Carcosa, not just for this wonderful inspiration, and for working out which parts from other kits looked awesome, but also for being kind enough to let me copy it, and even actively encouraging me to do so.

However there was one downside. I liked what Martin had done so much, it became kind of pointless to simply try to make an exact copy. He had already created what I considered the definitive WH40K version of the Judge Dredd movie robot, so what was the point in me doing the same?

Instead I figured I'd do what I did with my Judges' bikes and go back to the original comics and take some additional inspiration from there. So a quick flick through several hundred pages of collected stories and I'd found the following images:

A panel from the original ABC Warriors strip in the late 1970s, with art by Mike McMahon

The above image showed I could have Hammerstein's iconic ROVER badge on the back of his waist, instead of the front where it's usually found. In my design for the model I wanted V-shaped pistons below his stomach region, rather than a wide, flat space for text.

Hammerstein in classic 80s story The Black Hole, with art by Simon Bisley

In the Bisley picture above we are seeing the character's rank markings on his arm, with a single arch-like sweeping shoulder pad to frame them. This felt like a good look for my version.

Hammerstein in Khronicles of Khaos, with art by Kev Walker

As the comics went on, Hammerstein took more and more knocks, with his armour starting to look heavily pockmarked and battle-scarred. I suspect images like the one above (circa 1992) had quite an influence on the movie version, which hit the cinemas just a few years later.

A page from The Volgon War, with art by Clint Langley

Skip forward another decade or so, and the square-jawed war droid appears to have rebuilt and repaired himself and given his bodywork a new coat of paint. I figured using that blue-grey colour for my model would be a very obvious way to differentiate it from Martin's and would give an instant clue that mine wasn't wholly based on the robot from the film. Although I am still partial to a bit of rust and weathering, so my version isn't exactly what you'd call factory fresh.

So in the end it made sense to base my model around the same head and arms that Martin used, emphasizing Hammerstein's flat-top, crew-cut, and giving up the hammer in favour of those over-sized hands, whilst at the same time keeping all the exposed cabling and pistons from the movie version. But then mix in some of the comic book cues seen above. 

For anyone interested in the construction side of kit-bashing and scratch-building, you can see the, er, 'nude' version of my model below.

And finally, if, like me, you find this monstrous metal infantryman strangely fascinating, and want to know more about the character's appearances in various media, you might be interested in this earlier post detailing some of his history.

Monday, 13 December 2021

Lost and found

A very short post today. Just over a year ago, I completed my Addiction Challenge with five final models that took me over the line. But in my haste to publish the article, I forgot I'd taken a few work-in-progress shots of two of the more complicated models.

The other day, while starting to put together a longer post, I stumbled across the below...

... three photos that show some of the cut-up and glued-together scraps of rubbish, that I seem to find so exciting.

Here are the completed models again:

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Fast forward 12 months

It's been almost exactly a year since my last post. That's a huge gap, but the good news (at least for me) is that, although this blog has been dormant, my hobby activity has not, and I have plenty of bits and pieces to share over the next few posts.

But firstly, let's start with why. Why have I been quiet for so long? Well, the main reason is that this time last year, my wife and I began to undertake some fairly extensive work on our family home. Work that saw us completely pack away all my models, tools and paint, that saw us remove most of the top section of our house, that saw at least one ceiling fall in, and two people fall through them (neither were injured), that had rain water pouring down internal walls, a bedroom completely open to the elements for several days, and that ended up taking more than twice as long as originally estimated. But after everything was over, and finally complete, work that gave us a whole new floor on our house. I'm talking, of course, about a loft conversion, but after the painful, drawn-out process that we went through, it feels like so much more than just those simple words.

When we first started the work, I had no idea that I'd be putting this blog into such a long slumber, even though the building work had been planned many months in advance. I just never put two and two together and realised quite how disruptive it would be. I hadn't accounted for some of the intense mental anguish that would occur, while watching one's home being quite literally torn apart.

But it's done now and the upshot of the process, as far as this blog is concerned, is that instead of a dingy space, in among the rafters of a dusty roof, I now have a properly appointed office for all my work and hobby pursuits.

When fitting out the room we ensured there was plenty of shelf, desk and storage space. Me so that I could fit everything in and it would still be neat and functional, and my wife so that she could guarantee there wouldn't be any of my toys elsewhere in the house.

One of the biggest boons of this, and of being forced to organise everything from scratch, is that when placing finished models on shelves, I was able to set them up as little displays – almost like dioramas. 

Chaos troops man the ramparts of a town they have taken...
... in defence against the approaching Undead horde
Dredd style Arbites Enforcers bring riot suppression weaponry to bear
An Ork armoured brigade starts to amass in preparation for their next Waaagh.
The streets of Kruenta are alive with all manner of Imperial citizenry

There was a lot more to the last 12 months than just the moments I've touched on above, and there's a fair bit more to my office than just these images, but I think it's probably best to leave it here for now, to ward against the dreaded approach of boring and excruciating detail.

What's that? Too late?

Monday, 23 November 2020

Days of thunder

The Earth was being torn apart. Continuous warfare was ravaging its surface into a desolate, apocalyptic wasteland. The last scraps of its long depleted resources were being fought over by hordes of brutal, genhanced warriors. Humanity, at one time unified in its conquest of the stars, was now, once again, in the midst of bitter infighting. Techno-barbarian warlords were attempting to seize and consolidate power, splitting the planet into powerful, feuding factions, while swathes of mankind's collective knowledge were becoming lost forever. All while massive Warp storms swept the galaxy, cutting off Earth from its interstellar colonies, and ushering in an era of fear, anarchy and collapse.

In Warhammer 40,000 lore this was the Age of Strife, around the 27th or 28th Millennium, roughly 13 thousand years before the game's current timeline. It was against this backdrop that the mysterious individual, who would later become the Emperor, stepped from the shadows and declared his intent to reunite the planet.

Into the turbulent affray he unleashed his Legio Cataegis, precursors to the Space Marines; larger, tougher and more savage than his later warriors, but prone to both physical and mental instability. These troops came to be known as Thunder Warriors, due to the Emperor's thunderbolt and lightning symbol often sported on the torso of their proto-power-armour.

They wrestled back control of the planet, and by the 30th Millennium the Emperor was ready to continue his crusade off planet. He phased out his now defunct Thunder Warriors, replacing them instead with the first Astartes (or Space Marines) – more rounded warriors, better suited to the wider theatre of battle, the decentralised leadership, and the potential need for diplomatic solutions.

His earlier troops were thought all but extinct.

But that was not quite the case. At least a handful of Thunder Warriors managed to deny their genetically imposed expiration, and survive right through to the end of the Great Crusade and the beginning of the Horus Heresy. Exactly what happened to these cunning champions is clouded by time, but by the 41st Millennium they must surely all have perished?

A few years ago, hot on the heels of my little Custodes project, I thought I'd have a crack at making a single Thunder Warrior – one of the Emperor's first attempts at creating genetically and surgically enhanced super soldiers, designed to fight in the Unification Wars on Earth. Bigger, but more basic than their Astartes successors, they were meant to be all but wiped out by the beginning of the Great Crusade, circa 30,000 AD. But this is WH40K and, let's face it, anything can happen. Strange relativity effects (a là Interstellar), or weird Warp-based time dilations, or poorly understood arcane techno-magic, or even just because Chaos fancied it, somehow this lone warrior survived long enough to join my collection of 40th-Millennium-era toy soldiers.

His construction involved quite a bit of jiggery pokery, and took a ridiculous amount of time for a single miniature. Here are some of the initial pieces I put together for him.

The greaves on the front of the legs were recast (using Instamold) from one of the Slaughterpriest models. These were then combined with boots from a Chaos Warrior, armour plates from Mark II or III Space Marine legs, plasticard and a bunch of badly hand-sculpted chainmail of some description.

A bit further down the line, the sifted, sculpted and combined pieces started to look like this:

Which, with the inclusion of arms (from what was then the freshly released bona fide Custodes models) plus a load of straps, packs, grenades and armament, ended up looking like this, when assembled:

And now, after a conversation with my five year old son, where he told me he wanted to see a 'tiny soldier man wearing green' my somewhat-slim-thighed Thunder Warrior is finally sporting a little pigment.

As the last of his kind, this model has given me an inkling as to how he may become the first of my new challenge. But I'll talk more about that at some point in the future.