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.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Objective complete

It's a major celebration. A few days ago I finished painting five more miniatures, which took me over the finish line on my Addiction Challenge –  and the whole country erupted in fireworks.

For anyone not familiar with British customs, I should point out, however, that the two occurrences were not related. The former was conducted at home, alone, over a number of days, and the latter was Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) celebrated in the UK on November 5th, come rain or shine or Covid 19.

But even though the fireworks were not for me, it doesn't take anything away from the fact that I've finally completed my Addiction Challenge. This was a self-imposed ban on buying any new models until I'd completed 100 existing ones. It's taken nearly three and a half years to do, but it was definitely worth it. It upped my motivation to find hobby time, got me focussing on painting instead of just constructing and converting, and curbed my incessant desire to buy the next new shiny thing, before completing the last.

These latest five models are a return to my fantasy (or Age of Sigmar) Chaos Warrior army, with the first three below representing a suite of related objective markers for my warriors to fight over. They are 
made up entirely of spare scraps from my bag of Chaos bits, that I couldn't find a home for elsewhere, so I'm pretty pleased I was able to do something constructive with them.

The other two models could be objective markers too, but could also be more like freelancers, similar to the models from this post, that can be attached to any army or terrain piece to add a bit of character or firepower. Like the first three models, they too are made from unused bits that were lying around waiting for a purpose.

So now that these are all finished, and I've completed my Addiction Challenge, I need to find another way to keep my motivation up for future projects. Another little challenge to undertake, or objective to head towards. But more importantly, before I do that, you'll have to excuse me while I nip out and buy a truck load of brand new miniatures.


Friday, 16 October 2020

End of the line, creep

Engage smug mode. The project that prompted me to create this blog has been completed. The final four Dredd style Arbites Enforcers are below. I was meant to be working on my fantasy Chaos dudes, but once I picked up one of these guys a few weeks ago I just couldn't stop. And it's always good to harness a bit of hobby energy. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, right?*

I added weathering powder to each of these characters in an attempt to emulate that dusty look the Judges have in the 2012 Dredd film (you can see the reference picture I was aiming for in this post), but when I then gave them a light spray of Munitorum Varnish, all the powders subsequently disappeared. In the end, after varying my process three times, I got worried that the powders were subtly dampening all the rest of the painting and gave up. In fairness it's still visible in the odd location, and these guys don't exactly look pristine, so I'm happy to draw this project to a close...

... for now.

Here's a quick shot of the gang altogether.

To celebrate the fact that I'm getting close to the end of my Addiction Challenge, in my next post I'm going to try something a little different. There will be words, and there will be photos, but quite unlike anything I've done on here before.


*Unless you live in Troy

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Riot suppression

A few more Dredd style Arbites Enforcers today. These next three models include the areas that needed the most freehand work – namely the lettering on the riot shields and the illuminated number 3 on the side of the Sentinel. Freehand isn't my strong-point, so needless to say the results are passable at best.

But any finished miniature is a win in my book, and I always knew I'd struggle with the lettering, so on balance I'm pretty pleased with how this project is turning out. Below are a couple more shots of the Sentinel.

And the good news is that this takes me below the remaining 10 mark on my painting challenge, so not long now before my house is totally overrun by an influx of new, tiny, plastic toys.


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Dread reckoning

These last few days I've been taking a short break from the Chaos Wastes to pop back to Kru*, my WH40K hive city, in order to visit my Judge Dredd inspired Arbites Enforcers.

The Arbites project was the reason I started this blog, way back in 2015, and was my attempt to create a small unit of Enforcers or Judges for Necromunda/WH40K, based on the design aesthetic from the 2012 Dredd film.

I was never a huge fan of the converted Suzukis ridden by the Judges in that movie, so I decided to look to the comics for inspiration. It's taken me a while to paint them, but here are the first two of my Judicial Enforcer Squad – the LexDominum urban patrol bikes that I built back here.

Once these guys were finished I took the level of weathering on the riders, let's call them Yosef Phargo and Dolman Rico, and finally went back and finished the Enforcer below. It's only really a bit of powder on his leathers, and some rust on the metal areas of his boots, but I think it adds the level of detail that was previously stopping me from calling him finished.

So these three models are now complete, and my Addiction Challenge score inches ever closer to the end.


*Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda

Thursday, 24 September 2020

The axemen cometh

My little band of winter warriors is growing slowly. I've just completed these next five troops, all of whom came from the Chaos Chosen set. The only thing I did to them, prior to throwing on the pigment, was adjust their helmets a little – either with head swaps, or by cutting down the amount of extra stuff mounted on their existing lids.

This is in keeping with the rest of my warband, where I'm trying to keep the level of ornamentation to a minimum (at least on most models), preferring instead to play up the simple textures like iron, wood, bone, fur, skin, leather and maybe a bit of brass.

My feeling is that this will give my followers of Gshtaad a more earthy and rugged appearance, suitable for warriors who are in it for the fight, living off the land, preferring deeds over ostentation to mark them out. And besides, I think all those natural textures and colours look really nice set against the snow on their bases.

I've also finally got around to finishing my original, metal Lord of the Rings Cave Troll. At the time of his release, before the ubiquity of multi-part plastic sets, this guy was a hulking brute of a miniature, striding across the Mines of Moria, swinging a mighty hammer*. He was one of my favourite miniatures from The Fellowship of the Ring range, released by Citadel shortly after Peter Jackson's movie. I switched the hammer for a scratch built cleaver, and added a bunch of scaly spikes growing out of his back to signify the corrupting influence of the dark gods. Of course these days he looks tiny next to some of the creatures out there, but I still prefer his look to that of the standard Warhammer trolls.

And finally, next to him are two really old tiger models that I tried to adapt many years ago. They came from an old Orc chariot kit, that was produced by one of the other companies operating back in the 1980s. I forget who it was. I never really liked the model (no idea why it ended up in my possession), so I did everything I could to attempt to salvage it. I was going to ignore the tigers completely this time around, but eventually figured what the heck, it might not take too long to rebase them as part of this batch. The only image I've been able to find of their original appearance was this one, of a heavy version of the original chariot, that currently appears to be part of Magister Militum's range of miniatures.

So six of the above miniatures are freshly completed, meaning I have a new Addiction Challenge score to share, which in turn means I'm at last approaching that final straight. Can I cross the finishing line before the end of the year**?


*As far as I can tell, Games Workshop's official Cave Troll miniature has now been replaced by this one.
**Let's face it, if you've ever read this blog before, you're probably as aware as I am, that this is pretty unlikely. As the saying goes, my chances are between Slim and None... and Slim's outta town.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Old dogs, new tricks

The last few weeks have posed an interesting challenge for me: trying to update all my existing Chaos Warriors to fit in with the new look I'm after, without entirely repainting them.

My previous approach to Chaos Warriors was to work on them one at a time with their own colours and markings, and make them look as individual as possible. You can see a bunch of them in their previous conditions in this post.

However this time around, as the force is starting to grow, I want them to look more cohesive, more like some of the groups of warriors and knights shown in the films I mentioned here.

Therefore it was never going to be a case of simply re-basing them on the larger, round Age of Sigmar bases, and adding a bit of snow flock. I was also going to need to darken them down, make their armour look metallic, perhaps even rusty, mute most of their colours, and even, in extreme cases, repose them and replace their heads or helmets.

But obviously I didn't want to spend ages doing all this to old models when I could be doing it to new ones, so the further challenge was to do it quickly and simply, and without adding so much extra paint that more detail would be lost, or worse, taking the models to such a bad place that I'd be forced to strip the paint off them completely and start again.

It made sense to add a couple of unpainted models to the batch, just to check everything was progressing in the right direction. The two models on the left, in the above picture, are new ones that had never been completed before. And while I'm going on about this, the warrior on the right is one of the old models that I gave a new head as part of his refresher.

So, although 21 models have been given new paint jobs, only two of them count towards my Addiction Challenge score. This means I'm down to the final fifth, but have still got further to go before I can get out there on a massive, toy-soldier-based spending spree.