Monday, 5 September 2022

The chain-gun gang, Ork meganob heavy hitters

Ugly, brutal and mean, my Ork meganob squad is comprised of a handful of the old metal figures from circa 2000, alongside the then-Ghazghkull-Thraka-model. They were most likely designed by Brian Nelson as part of his original revamp of the Ork range. At the time, I vaguely remember thinking these juggernorks were some of the chunkiest metal infantry miniatures I had ever handled. In fact, seeing as their slightly larger, contemporary replacements are now cast in plastic, they still might be.

As per usual I did a bit of choppin' and changin' to make the models more my own. But because the base models were already so damn good, I kept my tinkering to a bare minimum, mainly just opening up a little extra diversity in the weapons or pose.

Regular readers* will notice I switched my predominantly red colour scheme to yellow, as I thought the brighter colour might hint at the idea of Ork nobility, and perhaps give the wider army a bit more visual interest. I also decided that, what with the Ghazghkull miniature having that giant bovine skull on its back, I'd use a bull's head icon as their unit badge. Like by using a bullseye theme it references Ork sharpshooter* abilities and points to the fact that these guys are seriously elite (rather than signifying Goff klan allegiance, as it usually does with Orks). It's tricky to see in these pictures, but each of the four regular nobs has a water-slide transfer of a horned, black, bull skull stuck on a random armour plate somewhere.

The idea of different units having their own personal markings is quite appealing. Something that sets them apart from the rest of the army, but ties them together with each other. Especially if it isn't immediately noticeable – like it's buried another layer down from all the most obvious stuff. Hidden, so that it requires more than a furtive glance to find it. A puzzle that's its own reward.

Subtly recurring markings appear in a few other places within my Ork armoured brigade. I guess I find it interesting thinking up some strange internal logic as to how these mean green fighting machines might think. I've got a few other units nearing completion, so I'll probably share some more ramblings on the matter in future posts.

*Hahaha, who am I kidding? There's no such thing

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Deffkopta jetbikes, part two

"Why float around da sky on poxy rotors when we can tear it in half wiv jets and frusters and stuff?"

This, or at least a question a bit like it, was what I imagine the warboss in my Ork armoured brigade asked his meks at some point after tasking them to come up "wiv a way of 'urting fings from abbuv". 

I also imagine it preceded a point where several brave* Ork test pilots were accidentally retired or sent to the doks for snazzy, but much-needed Cybork "upgrades".

As with a lot of my Ork army, I finished the original, test model (on the right, in the picture of all three, above) a long time ago, possibly even before the birth of my eldest son, who recently celebrated his tenth birthday**. It then took the release of an assortment of jetbike parts from Ramshackle Games, some years later, to help me complete the next two conversions.

Plus the mek-bashing of a bunch of flying 'splodey things, before I could even start

And then another few years before I got the paint on them, touched up the original, rebased them all, and finally reached the stage shown here. It's quite a timeline, so it's a major relief to finally get a whole squad finished. There can't be that many units left now?

"Right lads, where are dem Cyborks? Let's get 'em to da front lines. And also dat Dread Mob? Cost me a lot of teef, dat – lotta boyz eatin' nuffin but soup. Which reminds me, where's all da grots round 'ere? And where are all my trukks? And 'ardboys? And Meganobz? What is dis, an 'oliday camp? Let's get movin' before I try fitting a boot-shaped fing in a butt-shaped hole."

**Happy birthday big guy. You're the very opposite of an Ork, you're a bright, talented, caring individual, and it's a pleasure being your dad

Monday, 11 July 2022

Va va kaboom. The Ork buggy bandwagon, part three

The noise is deafening. Engines revving way past their limits. Ignited fuel spitting sparks from armoured exhausts. Vehicles straining and shaking like caged animals. Twin-linked big shootas firing test volleys at anything not quick enough to take cover. Throaty guffaws and maniacal chittering every time a hapless critter is vaporised by a stream of high caliber slugs. Mud thrown up in great geysers, mixing with thick fumes from dirty oil, tinged with the smell of cordite and sweat. A heavy musk, hanging in the air like a starting flag, ready to wave.

My Ork armoured brigade has always been a work in progress. I started it well over ten years ago, and still enjoy reacquainting myself with it whenever I feel a bit of inspiration. During the last few weeks, perhaps as a result of thinking about vehicles for Necromunda Ash Wastes, I've revisited some of the greenskin army's unfinished projects and tried to get them to a more presentable level. The first of which, that I'm sharing today, are these three light vehicles, which will be reinforcing my little unit of buggies, trikes, trakks and skorchas.

I've liberally covered them all in my usual combination of dirt, dust and weathering, not just because I think it's appropriately Orky, but also because I'm not the greatest or most patient painter, so adding all that damage is a great way to give models a quick, and often quite effective, extra layer of detail.

The trike was created years ago, and has been hanging around, waiting for its final layers of paint, for most of that time, but the two scratch-built, armoured buggies are relatively new, as I only really completed their construction in the last couple of months. You can see what they looked like, towards the end of that phase, below.

These three vehicles have been mentioned on this blog before, when I last talked about Ork buggies, a few years back. I've just taken a look at that article and seen exactly how much (or more accurately, how little) I've managed to achieve in all that time. And it's not even over yet. I've actually still got plans to add one or two final buggies to the squad, to round the whole thing out. 

But I'll put those ideas aside, as they're a task for another day. For now here's all the mucky glory of the buggy gang as it currently stands.

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.