30 April 2013

Painting Step-By-Step: Sin Assyris part 1

This is Sin Assyris, a special character for the Alchemists of Dirz faction in Rackham's ill-fated flagship wargame, Confrontation. Luckily, this model is also usable in the Hybrid board game (hence I bought it) and it has sat in a figure case, in a constructed state, for nearly 10 years. I thought it was time to do another painting guide/demo/docu and wanted to look at another forgotten model.

As you can see, the Rackham models had an immense amount of detail for 28mm. They can be so delicate that pinning joints becomes a work of art that only keyhole surgeons should attempt. It has to be said that Sin Assyris is not so bad in the build – a head and two arms went on relatively easily (from what I recall).

So, I dusted off the model and gave the base some treatment. I went to file off the mould lines but the majority of these figures had mould lines so insignificant you really do struggle to see them. This was one such model. I did find a few and they were promptly dispatched and the model undercoated.

I gave the miniatures a quick, delicate blast with spray undercoat, then followed this up with a brush. I used very watered down black paint and gave the model a couple of coats to give it a solid black finish that didn't obscure any of the lovely details.

I airbrushed colour onto the 'skirt' of the model. I used my Cryx colour palette as it seemed appropriate for the Alchemists of Dirz (with its greenish hue) and will fit in with my other Hybrid models already painted. I started with a Black/Cryx Bane Base mix moving on to a pure Cryx Bane Base pass.

Once this was looking solid I started to add Cryx Bane Highlight to the mix until the colour was pure. At this point I switched spray angle to be more from above the model and had a final Cryx Bane Highlight/White pass with the airbrush.

As with my other airbrushed models, it's looking a touch highlight heavy but I'm looking forward to developing the tones with a brush. I did a trial using only a brush on a Cryx Warwitch model with great results so this should develop nicely.

The rest of the model caught a lot of overspray, which I'm regretting a little – my enthusiasm meant I jumped in and got spraying without thinking, doh! However, It's only the last highlight where the paint was a little thicker that may have left a slight texture (see his sword to the left), but not so much that it can't be pulled around. It's all a learning experience I guess (more water in my paint!).

Now things start to get interesting!

You will notice I've got several painting projects on the go, lots of irons in fires. I only get small pockets of time so my posts will switch between all these projects and ensure that I don't get bored painting the same thing and there's always something new to look at on the blog.

To be continued…

29 April 2013

More Vikings!!

You may recall my enthusiasm for the last lot of plastic vikings I bought has waned somewhat. The issue with the hands not holding the weapons properly did little to inspire confidence, never mind fear in the enemy. I had heard good things about the Gripping Beast Vikings and was compelled to take a closer look.

This box set is a little more expensive than the last lot but has 44 models in it! That works out at roughly 40p a model which is quite unbelievable value (remember I've lived a sheltered, expensive gaming life thus far). There are tons of options on the sprues and hands that actually hold the weapons!

I have counted five different body poses and ten different heads. However, even better than all that is the command sprue that is included – actually the box has two in it which is even better. I can now make a leader (or two) without the need to spare bits or greenstuff.

The details seem sharper and the kit just seems to be better all round than the previous vikings I bought. In addition the proportions, next to my Romans, seems better though admittedly not much.

I have already built my initial four models (as I have with all the kits) and I may even splash some paint on them at if I get the urge… but let's not be hasty.

27 April 2013

The (not) Salute Spoils…

You may remember that I came away from last weekend's Salute 2013 show with no purchases at all. This was mostly due to the fact that when I went to pick up the stuff I wanted, I noticed I could get it cheaper elsewhere (I thought Salute was all about deals?!).

Anyway, my non-Salute purchases arrived this week and here they are…

First of all we have the Conquest of Gaul box set from Warlord Games: this includes the Hail Caesar rulebook and almost 100 plastic minis!

There is a second Cryx Helljack for my fledgling Warmachine army. I already have a Slayer from the starter set but this kit will build one of three types.

Then I have the gorgeous Slave I expansion for X-Wing. I've held off buying this for a while, after picking up the Millennium Falcon, but couldn't resist any longer.

To round things off I've got some Orange and Purple gem D10 dice for my secret project. Progress is being made and there may be an announcement on the blog soon.

26 April 2013

Nurgle Biker Champion – part 4

Nurgle Biker Champion – part 3

Having sat on the painting desk for the last two months I thought I would use the Nurgle Biker conversion as the next test subject in my airbrush experiments.

I started by giving the whole model a coat of Burnt Umber. I did a couple of passes to make sure the colour was solid but did leave the black undercoat in the deepest of recesses.

This was followed by a pass or two of English Uniform, which you will remember has become my base colour of choice for the Nurgly marines. I sprayed from quite a wide angle so that the hidden areas would remain largely Burnt Umber.

A pass of Bleached Bone across the most exposed areas was followed by some white over just the highest areas. This procedure is rather similar to the zenithal highlight technique I watched on a Miniature Mentor video by Thomas David.

Once I was quite happy with things I moved to the brushes. Just like the Bonejacks from my previous trial, the airbrushing left things very highlight heavy… on purpose. I gave the model a wash of watered down English Uniform to unite the colours in general. Once this was dry I gave the entire model a wash of GW Agrax Earthshade (dark brown).

I had to leave that some time to dry so decided to go back at a later date. Using a similar technique as the Bonejacks, I will go back in with a brush and darken the shadows across the model. Once I'm happy with that I can go to town on highlights and details.

To be continued…

24 April 2013

More Cryx Airbrushing Trials

So after giving my 20-year old airbrush a run out with a Cryx Slayer I had sitting around, it was time to try again. I had several bonejacks from when I started my fledgling Cryx force so they would do nicely. I took the two Deathrippers, based and undercoated them ready to go.

I mixed a little black in with the Cryx Bane Base colour and used this as my first pass, leaving black in the lower parts of the model. I then went for pure Cryx Bane Base, followed by Cryx Bane Highlight. Because the paint in the airbrush is considerably thinned, it took a couple of coats for each pass.

I used bits of kitchen towel to loosely mask off parts of the model to avoid the overspray that occurred with the Slayer in my first go with the airbrush. The photo above shows the post airbrush results. As you can see the armour is highlight-heavy, but that was all a part of the plan.

I then switched to a more conventional method of painting – brushes. Taking small amounts of paint and a lot of water, I gradually added more depth across the entire armour, dumbing down the highlights as I went. I then added thin layers of black to the shadows to just help crank up the contrast across the armour plates.

I used my version of the two-brush method throughout: I add some very thinned black paint to the bottom half of the armour plate. I then quickly rinse my brush but don't dry it – just drag it across some kitchen towel to remove excess water. Then, starting at the very top of the armour plate I paint the water on and when I reach the black paint I blur the line with the water to create a smooth(ish) graduation. By working top to bottom with the water I don't bring the shadows too high.

I then repeat the process with the Cryx Bane Highlight, except working the other way round – paint on the top half and water from the bottom. I then started to add some GW Bleached Bone to the Cryx Bane Highlight and added edge highlights to the armour on the legs.

Once I was reasonably happy I painted in the metallics and added Black and Brown washes to knock them back. Ironically I think the armour is now looking too 'fresh from the factory'. You may also have noticed that the main body armour (behind the shoulders and legs) is looking odd. Whilst I was using the airbrush I thought this was going to be metallic and only when I'd moved on to the brushes did I discover it should have been the Cryx Bane colour. I will be going back in to fix this later, but for the purposes of the trial my technique is working so far.

Lots more Cryx Bonejacks to paint so I'll be getting more practice soon.

21 April 2013

My Salute 2013

As in previous years I was rather excitable in the days before Salute this year. I often have a particular game that's obsessing me going into the show, but this year I was more concerned with meeting people and having a chat about the wheels that drive the industry.

We arrived at 10.30am, pretty much at the same time as everyone else then. A huge queue greeted us when we entered EXCEL, however, it kept moving and we were inside the show in no time. Immediately upon walking in it became apparent that the show was definitely busier than previous years – uncomfortably so at first. There were more stands than last year and more smaller companies seemed to 'club together' to have a presence – great to see and very encouraging. In contrast I noticed that Privateer Press seemed to have merged with the ever-dominating Wayland Games stand, which was a disappointed – I do understand the logic though: why have a stand selling gear at 20% more than the discount retailer across the room?!

There were lots of demo games going on, new and very creative gaming boards. I particularly like the Victorian London board – a skirmish game being played across rooftops whilst below, the rest of the table was covered in cotton wool smog.

This year I decided to leave the camera at home so no photos (sorry). The funny thing is that, judging from the photos I've seen elsewhere on the net today, everyone else seemed to be at a different show to me. It appears that I missed so much despite being in there for 4 hours. I went in full of gusto but after a lap of the room was quite worn out with information overload and my brain began to slowly turn to sludge

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly meeting people. I didn't get to speak to many industry insiders as intended but I met up with several individuals from the blogging community and finally got to put some names to faces. Great to meet folks, didn't get to chat to as many as I would have liked but time flies when you're gas-bagging and the group gradually dispersed. Just prior to that I 'bumped' into my former housemate who I haven't seen properly since my wedding – quite an emotional reunion and a definite highlight of the day.

As the afternoon rapidly passed 2, I was all talked-out and all walked-out – it was time to spend some money and make our way home. I had the shopping list in mind before leaving, but even I outdid myself this time. My haul for 2013 consisted of…nothing!

That's right. I walked away with nothing more than the freebie plastic model and solitary dice in my Salute bag.

But why I hear you ask?!

I had noted the week before the show that most of the things on my list were available online for less, so had already ordered some bits. The things I did go to pick up (literally) were put back down when I discovered I could get those cheaper elsewhere too!!

I'm not normally so frugal – I can convince myself to buy pretty much anything if I want to – but buying the things on my list at the show made no financial sense. I placed another online order when I got in so there should be parcels galore arriving next week.

In the meantime I've been practicing my airbrushing and getting a little more painting done, so will have some photos for you in a day or two.

As for Salute, another great year – possibly the best I've been to so far – and already I'm looking forward to next year. However, there's a lot going to change on my hobby table between now and then so who knows what next year's show will bring…

18 April 2013

Bombshell Kickstarter…

Patrick Keith, a rather well known and very talented sculptor, got a Kickstarter project going at the back end of last year to create a range of sexy minis. Naturally it caught my eye and I promptly contributed a token amount to reap my choice of three plus the Kickstarter limited ed mini.

Six months and a £15 customs bill later they have arrived.

Strangely, I ended up with 5 minis, including resin base inserts and a stack of postcards showing the entire range. As begrudged as I was to have to pay more to pick up my parcel, once the packet was opened I was very pleased with my investment.

I have to say that the detail on these models is amazing and the resin inserts are extremely crisp and defined. They will at some point be available to the public so keep your eyes open.

Whether these models will ever see paint whilst in my possession I cannot say. They may end up on Ebay in a couple of months, given away as birthday presents or even a blog competition in the future.

It does go to show how a well-devised and executed Kickstarter can produce some truly amazing end results.

Elsewhere, on the hobby table, the Nurgle biker got an undercoat as did a couple of Cryx Bonejacks. Should have an airbrush-related blog post featuring these models soon.

See you all after Salute… or at Salute!

16 April 2013

Rant: The Post Office Just Mugged Me!

I appreciate that when you're selling off old miniatures you have to consider them having no value, so that whatever you get back is a bonus. That's all fine in theory, however, this weekend's Ebay sales were less than stellar – models that I paid £6-10 for going for £2-5 and being as new, still in blisters. A bit gutting, mainly because it was my Salute fund, which has come in at less than 50% of projected.

Yet this was just a minor blip. The real kick in the trousers came when I went to the Post Office yesterday to send off the first batch of sales. I had priced everything as Second Class and charged people £1 (80p stamp plus envelope). Alas, the actual cost of posting a blister in a small padded envelope was £2.60!!… Second Class!!

The upshot of this is that, in some cases, I have sold £7 figures for 60p.

Now, I will hold my hands up and admit that this is partly due to me not researching the recent Post Office price hikes. Historically, I've always been able to gauge the postal costs of something and this has speeded up the Ebay process no end. This time is has truly bitten me on the backside.

Needless to say, all future Ebay sales will be heavily researched for postage costs with a minimum of £3 likely. I also think that the days of the 99p staring price are gone. Going to have to give this some more thought.

Kudos to the sellers on Ebay who offer free postage.

11 April 2013

Cheap Malifaux Models…

We're coming to the end of my "Mikie needs spends for Salute" sale event on Ebay.

The majority of things up there are individual Malifaux models. There are also some Hordes bits as I clear the decks of the "really can't see these ever being painted" models. There's even the Joker's gang from the new Batman Miniatures game which I just don't have the time to look at, which is a shame.

I have hung on to a few bits (much to the wife's chagrin) that I was going to sell but am struggling to let go just yet.

All the miniatures went on at 99p, with the exception of the bigger stuff, but the way things are going you could pick up quite a bargain!

All auctions finish at the weekend.

10 April 2013

Warmachine Airbrush Test

I mentioned the other day that I had finally reclaimed my airbrush and compressor, dusted it all down and given it its first run out in over 20 years. Thought I should post a couple of pics.

As you can see I kept things simple, using it only to lay down some initial colour on the armour plates and get some highlights done. What it has allowed me to do is get some very smooth grads painted that would be near impossible with a brush (and my skill level). In addition it took less than an hour which meant I got a lot more done in the time available to me. I'm at least 60% done with this guy in an evening, which under normal conditions would have taken 2 or 3 evenings.

As I mentioned in my last post, I do need to refine my close control. Overspray became a problem when I went in to do the leg plates on this model, and highlights ended up being bigger than I intended.

I've got six small Cryx 'jacks, which would normally fill me with dread and sit on my tray for months. I'm quite confident that I can get them almost complete in a couple of evenings, which I could never contemplate previously.

The next test though will be on some terrain. I have the Chaos plastic temple which I am in the process of building. The airbrush will allow me to paint it very quickly and get highlights and details done in virtually one sitting.

To be continued…

08 April 2013

Monday Update…

It's been an interesting weekend but not a lot to show you lovely folks. So in lieu of any solid hobby developments (that I can talk about) and piccies, I thought I'd do a quick update.

First on the news front is that I FINALLY got my airbrush up and running. I've had my Devilbiss Aerograph Sprite since I was in college back in 1992, it was an upgrade to the cheap Humbrol one I'd used to learn airbrush illustrating with. Alas it was never used – I was introduced to Macs and Photoshop soon after and never looked back. I realised some time ago that it had a potential new lease of life in the hobby environment pending, I just had to retrieve it from the attic at my mum's house in Wigan. It took me two years to get around to it but my airbrush and compressor made it Kent last week and over the weekend I got to have a go!

No photos of my test piece yet, which was a Cryx Slayer for Warmachine that I bought this time last year but has been sadly neglected for the last 12 months. Despite some initial hiccups I have to say that I am very pleased with the results – large areas of armour plating with super-smooth grads. What would have taken hours to do with a brush and watered down paint took about 30 minutes and looks far superior. It allowed me to then go in with a brush and add detail.

I still need to get my close control back – I'm fine with the large areas but smaller, more detailed areas resulted in a lot of overspray, which was a shame. 20 years since I last used an airbrush and I've never used a gravity-feed airbrush before, so mixing colour in the paint well was a new experience. Very exciting.

The other very exciting news was a trip to see Bull on Sunday. We did some sterling work on the secret project and made a lot of progress. As a consequence it won't be long until I can start talking about it openly on the blog, something that I am really looking forward to.

I also had a host of stuff go on Ebay last night – the first round of my "Mikie needs Salute spends" event. More on tomorrow night. I'm having to be quite ruthless but at present have over £300 (retail value) worth of stuff going up, most of it brand new. The majority of the stuff is Malifaux with some Hordes and a Forgeworld Dread soon. Let's hope I buy lots more stuff at Salute that can sit in a box for 12 months and be sold on Ebay next year – I love this hobby.

05 April 2013

Another Review: Plastic Vikings

Well, it seems I've got a bug for this reviewing lark.

Next package for the secret project arrived yesterday – 28mm plastic Vikings. These models were from Wargames Factory and their series called Hammer of the Gods. I bought the armoured Huscarls (from Ebay) as a starting point and was very interested to see how it compared to the Roman kit I've been building.

For those of us who play at the more expensive end of the hobby, the idea of paying less than £1 per model seems alien. With this particular plastic box set the models cost less than 50p each – absolute bargain in my eyes… and even cheaper than the Roman Veterans from Warlord Games!

You open the box and are greeted by a stack (literally) of sprues. There are multiples of two different sprues, each set making up 4 complete vikings. There are 4 different body sculpts but then you have 12 different heads, 20 different arms and an immense selection of weapons to choose to complete the figure. To say that there will be bits left over is an understatement. Once complete you have a whopping 32 models to game with.

This has by far the largest selection of options I've ever seen in a plastic kit. Weapons-wise you have several shields (all the same sculpt), swords, spears, bows, axes, two-handed weapons – the options are mind-boggling.

The models go together easily enough. The strangest thing I found was that the weapons are not attached to hands at all, so you literally have to glue every/all weapons into hands. On the one hand (pun – sorry) this is great – you can use almost any hand with any weapon. Unfortunately the flip side is that the hands never look like their quite holding the weapon properly – a bit Action Man before he had gripping hands – swords look like they might be dropped at any moment. The only other thing to niggle is the necks can be quite long on some of the heads and some of the poses look hunched, but I'm really picking now.

The quality of the plastic is good, sticks well and there's almost no mould lines. The poses themselves are alright, a little wooden perhaps but that could just be my choice of arms, heads and weapons together. There is scope for some converting due to the sheer volume of extra bits and I wouldn't be afraid of hacking some of these guys up to get just the right model.

There is no stand out leader in the box set, unlike the centurion and standard bearer in the Roman plastics, but it wouldn't take much imagination or greenstuff to promote one of the vikings to commander status. I have to say I really like this kit.

There is a big issue I've noticed, but it's not with this kit. Scale. It's not something I've ever come across before with the games I've played because all the modes came from the same manufacturer. The photo above shows the difference between these 28mm Vikings and the Warlord Games 28mm Roman Veterans that I reviewed earlier – not much in it but the Centurion is definitely looking on the diminutive side (though the angle of my shot hides the true difference). Thanks to Myincubliss for pointing it out after my last review – I totally see what you mean!

The scores…

Price: 10/10
A jaw dropping 32 models for 15 quid!

Plastic Quality: 9/10
Great quality and, whilst some of the weapons seem delicate, nothing's bendy at all.

Sculpt Quality: 7/10
Not as sharp in places as they might be, but not at all shabby.

Poses: 7/10
Lots of options, just not sure about the weapons in hands.

Extra Bitz: 9/10
Never seen a kit with so many extras and options. The only thing missing was extras to use on bases, pouches, trophies, alt shields, etc.

Overall: 8/10
A cracking set and lots of models for your money. I would have given this kit a higher score but the whole hand-holding-weapon thing annoys me so it misses out on a 9 or 10. If this is the way historical plastics are going then the future is looking rosy… and my bank balance too!

I wonder what I'll be reviewing next…?!


I have to say that I am quickly going off this kit. The 'weapon in hand' issue is becoming a pain – it looks really poor and weapons keep falling out. Shame really because it's a pretty good set of sprues.

Overall: 7/10

03 April 2013

Roman Veteran Progress

Having been away for a long weekend this Easter there is little evidence of progress on the painting table. Keen to get some colour on my new plastic Romans, I used a couple of hours yesterday evening to get started. Naturally I jumped in with the Centurion.

I went to town on his cloak, trying to apply my usual techniques to a model that was significantly smaller than I'm used to. I discovered that I have little use for my size 2 brush, so most of the work was done with my 00. My hat is off to any of you gamers who paint smaller scale models, I'm not sure my patience (or eyesight) would stretch much below this size.

Several layers of Dark Flesh, Blood Red, Blazing Orange and Sunburst Yellow later I was washing the cloak and tunic down with Baal Red, then some brown in the folds.

While that was drying I moved onto some of the leather elements with Burnt Umber, Snakebite Yellow and a touch of Bleached Bone. This too was washed in the brown, hence it's all looking very shiny at the moment. Elsewhere I added some Oily Steel and Vermin Brown to block out the armour and skin and give me an idea of where things were heading. Looking ok so far, but we'll see how things progress.

The rest of my Roman posse looked on patiently. I have filed, based and undercoated one Legionary, but the other two are looking quite raw with their polyfilla-ed bases and mould lines still on show.

I'm starting to feel that I should have based them on the slightly larger 30mm bases that I use for Warmachine and Malifaux. The models would look a little more lost but each one would be a mini diorama. I'll reserve full judgement until these guys are finished and I can build some others to compare.

And talking of compare, for those 40k gamers who need a point of reference, here's a Legionary next to a Space Marine. The Roman's looking a bit scrawny in this pic and the marine a little more true to scale.

For those of you wondering, the scenery in these photos is actually the ruined chaos temple kit that I bought at Salute last year – I knew it would come in handy… eventually!