Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hobby Retrospective: A reflection on 2015 and plans for 2016

As we approach the end of the year, I thought I'd take a look back over 2015 and see how things went hobby-wise and take a look at the plans for 2016. Buckle up, it's gonna be a long one! I have a gallery page on my website where I organize all my pics and have started keeping track of dates on the armies, makes a post like this easy to do, I suppose. Turns out it was a pretty productive year!


(links go to the relevant blog posts about the various projects)

Heresy-era Thousand Sons - At the beginning of the year I was in a race to finish off the Thousand Sons and get them battle-ready for the Las Vegas Open. They performed admirably, and then they went on the auction block. Definitely dialed in the paint scheme, and learned a few things that I'll be doing differently in the next incarnation (see below)!

Knight Household Krast - I had wanted a group of Knights to accompany the Thousand Sons, and thought the original heraldry of House Krast (boo to GW for making all the mechanicum-aligned schemes red in the reboot) would be fitting, a not-so-subtle nod to the yellow-and-blue scheme usually associated with Tzeentch. Sadly, they too went on the auction block to cover some unexpected expenses but over the past year I've picked up a couple of the new expanded knight kits so House Krast will walk again!

Heresy-era Mechanicum - This project never really coalesced into an actual army, and ended up being sold off piecemeal to help fund the Imperial Fists. Really enjoyed working on them, but in mid-project the updated Taghmata rules dropped and invalidated a number of builds. Would likely do a small Cybernetica-only allied force at some point in the future when FW releases the next round of Robots.

Heresy-era Imperial Fists - This was a challenge project for me, wanted to see if I could pull off a yellow army. Tried about a dozen ways to paint yellow and settled on a recipe that yielded rather good results! That said, I never want to paint another Imperial Fist marine again as long as I live. Hah!

Adeptus Mechanicus War Convocation - When GW dropped the new Adeptus Mechanicus it was enough to briefly snap me out of my all-heresy-all-the-time mode, and I have to say early on I found the models to be at once brilliant and frustrating. Loved how certain models looked, while others left me a little cold - the same can be said for the FW mechanicum line to me as well though. Once I got my hands on 'em however I found I loved the whole line - took a bit of adjustment to the aesthetic but once I came to grips with it I really like how they tie into the Knights design elements. Another small force may come into play as vassals to the House Krast redux (with the new plastics in the yellow and blue heraldry to match).


Heresy Era Prospero Spireguard - With the Thousand Sons going up for auction earlier in the year, the associated Prospero Spireguard allied force I'd been working on was put on hold with a bunch of models assembled but few actualy painted. It too suffered from codex drift as the much-more-appropriate Imperial Army list came out in Book 5: Tempest, and certain units were invalidated. At some point I'll need to pull out all the models and see what is actually viable. Essentially the whole project was an excuse to warrant the purchase of a Stormhammer...

Heresy-era Geno Five-Two - A project that has been simmering in the back of my head for years, I finally was able to start getting them down on the tabletop. Coupled with the allied Alpha Legion section it forms a tidy little boutique force. I successfully managed to avoid it blooming into a 5000 point monstrosity, wonder of wonders! The infantry side of the force is rapidly approaching completion, though the tanks that I'd ordered over a month ago have yet to ship, which is a point of frustration. The force has recently been pre-sold, so I have a fire lit under me to get them finished and out the door to help fund the upcoming Thousand Sons!

Heresy-era Alpha Legion - The other half of the boutique fluff project is a small allied Alpha Legion force. Very experimental inasmuch as it was my first exposure to the Betrayal at Calth plastics, as well as going with the purple scheme as described in the book. Now that I'm about 2/3rds of the way through them the verdict is I love the plastics, but I am not enjoying the paint scheme. I have a feeling that they may be mothballed/sold piecemeal before ever reaching completion.

5 projects done and out the door in 2015 and two more nearly complete - not a bad output for the year! With that out of the way it's time to look ahead...


More Heresy-era Thousand Sons - With the recent release of the FW bits coupled with the awesome and (comparatively) cheap plastics released with the Betrayal at Calth box, the Changer of the Ways has been whispering in my ear to go back to my first love in the heresy, the Thousand Sons. I spent some time putting some lists together based on the BaC sets and the inevitable leftover bits and kits from previous projects, and it turns out that I have nearly half of the planned 5000 point army on-hand already.

...What, you thought I'd do another boutique army? Hah! The plan is to try out some things that I didn't do in the previous incarnation, though with the rules still a year-plus out I'm trying to keep it fairly generic (as I'm forever having units/builds invalidated it seems). Every self-respecting heresy force has gotta have a couple big 20-man tac squads, and the missile launcher team performed admirably in the previous incarnation so they make a return in the new list as well. Want to try out the new Leviathan Dread so that goes in, and the Venator was absolutely the star of the Imperial Fists army for me so one of those is a must have as well. While rooting around in the Closet of Doom I uncovered a pair of Armoured Proteus Land Raiders that were initially intended for use with the Imperial Fists but completely forgot about (along with a 20-man breacher squad that I have no idea what to do with). It's like finding an extra $20 in a coat pocket from the previous season, except it's 15 pounds of resin!

Still in the bits-gathering stages, but plan to use a mix of kits as I have in the past. While I absolutely love the shoulder pads and torsos that FW has released, the heads leave me somewhat cold. They're neat, don't get me wrong, but I think I'll continue to use the MaxMini Steam Knight heads, the one on the far left just matches my vision of the look. I have a couple leftovers that will be used to build some test models with the BaC plastics, pics to follow on that front. There will be the usual Kromlech Khopesh-style power weapons and some Wargame Exclusive upgrades here and there as well, for the most ostentatious of the characters for the force.

DOUBLE EXTRA HERESY - For those of you with weak stomachs, look away now.

Infinity Morat Aggression Force - Occasionally I'll dip my toe into other game systems, and I have had a couple folks tell me that Infinity is worth checking out. I have to admit the overall anime vibe of the minis I saw when it first came out didn't do much for me, and I hadn't subsequently given the line much further thought. Spent some time going through the now surprisingly expanded catalog of minis and found there were a couple 'new' (well new to me) factions released in the intervening years, and I quite fancied the look of the Morat Aggression Force - crimson-faced murder apes from beyond the stars? Sure, sign me up! As the total buy-in for the game hovers somewhere around $150 and consists of less than 15 models I figure it's worth at least giving it a try. The game rules are free to download, and from what I'm reading it seems like it could be a fun little skirmish game to tide me over until Necromunda is re-released!

That's the extent of the plan for 2016 so far, no real resolutions or anything like that - other than the usual "try and get more stuff out the door than you're bringing in" plan! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday, and best wishes for the new year!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

...Or based on the minis should that be Merry Fishmas? It's been hellacious in Real Life(tm) of late, but I have been puttering away at the rest of the Tau Hunter Cadre for the Inq28/Rogue Trader RPG minis when I could steal a little time behind a brush, and after a couple hours this afternoon I got 'em more or less finished up!

When all is said and done it ended up being a nice 10-strong unit, that breaks down into essentially 2 mirrored teams. The miniatures all came from Wargame Exclusive and they all really have a ton of character. albeit a little on the cheesecake side.

For leaders there's the cigar-chomping Big Shas, and a jet-pack equipped fusion gun-toting Little Shas.

A pair of techs/trackers - the more cheesecake-y of the two got the 'buns out' treatment, while I went with a bodysuit for the other.

Similarly on the snipers, one is quite risque while the other is a bit more modest.

The pair of gunsliners were quite dynamic, went with the red cloak on the male to tie him in with the red hair on the rest of the unit.

Lastly are a pair of swordmistresses, went with the jade green swords to tie the spot colors back to the other models here and there. Was pretty fun working with the muted/limited palette!

Definitely a fun little artistic palate cleanser, now it's time to dive back into painting more of the Geno Five-Two. Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season, and a wonderful new year in 2016!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Heresy Era Alpha Legion - Tactical squad nearly complete!

I've been enjoying the dual nature of the current project, allowing me to bounce back and forth between the two paint schemes which has kept my interest on the boil! After working on the Geno characters it was time to buckle down and work on another Troops choice, the Alpha Legion tactical squad this time around...

Still waiting on the transfer sheets to see what I might use on the blank shoulder pads. Still have some errant static grass on the models, usually I'll let 'em dry overnight and then give them a good brushing before they get the initial sealant pass. However that's going to have to wait a bit, as this is what I woke up to this morning:

We ended up getting another couple inches after that. Gonna be a little while before I'm able to spray seal anything it seems! Colorado being what it is however, we're supposed to be in the mid-50s by the weekend. Gotta love wintertime in the Rockies!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Heresy Era Imperial Army - Geno Five-Two Command and Recon squad painting (almost) complete!

Had a relatively quiet Friday evening and Saturday morning, and managed to crank out a fair chunk of 'the fun stuff' from the Geno Five-Two! Naturally, the penultimate step in virtually all of my painting projects involves taking a picture of 'em and then realizing all the little things here and there that I've missed when reviewing the pics for publication. Doh! Nevertheless, here's some pics of the recent batch of not-quite-finished minis to (very nearly) roll off the painting line:

Leading things off is Hetman Peto Soneka (generously donated to the cause by the always-awesome Dai of The Lost and the Damned and the Stunted) and his command squad with a Voxcaster and (what will eventually be) the Company standard. The other three members of the squad are armed with Heavy Stubbers, which I've always liked as a support weapon.


Next up is the recon squad, all armed with sniper rifles. Tried to come up with a camo pattern that matched the bases for the cameoline cloaks, and decided to go with yellow interior lining to tie them in with the rest of the force. They performed admirably on the table recently, as well - very nearly taking down a Bloodthirster all by themselves!

Lastly are the Gene-whips, Franco Boone and his prods Roke and Pharon - with the leadership of the auxilia lists being on the low side, the addition of the proto-commissars is a welcome addition!

I missed the weather window on these and woke up to snowfall this morning, so there's still plenty of time to go in and fix up all the little misses and errors. After that's done, it may be time for a brief Inq28 break, as a fun little package arrived on my doorstep earlier in the week...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Heresy Era Alpha Legion - Lernaean Terminators painted

Just a quick hit this afternoon - Took advantage of the nice warm day to flock and seal the Lernaean terminators after finishing up the last highlighting stages. Also managed to flock and seal the Geno Five-Two as well, pics to follow.

I'm awaiting a small package of joy from Forge World that includes the recently-released Alpha Legion transfer sheets, after application the models will be getting some weathering as well - happy that I was able to get 'em sealed in preparation!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Heresy Era Alpha Legion - Lernaean Terminators painting continues

As mentioned previously, slogging through all 46 models to completion at once is just not feasible - I like to batch paint as much as the next guy, but let's be reasonable here! I figured I'd start off by cracking on with the terminators, then do the 20-man tac squad in a batch, and finally the Headhunters and scouts to finish it all up. All the power armoured marines were set back into the queue and away we go...

First things first, picking out all of the weapons, armour trim, cabling, joint ribbing and whatnot in boltgun metal, which helps clean up a ton of the slop from the earlier purple drybrushing paint-spatter-o-thon.

Then to help the various metallics stand out against each other, the trim got a blue wash to start a silvered-steel look, while the weapons and joint ribbing got a black wash, dulling them down and making them much more stark.

Next up I started blocking in the various contrast colors - initial earthtones and washes for the leather pturges, and the reddish-orange tones on the power cabling (on the back), the Volkite heat vanes, and the power fists, so they'll eventually match the earlier Contemptor dread. Still another whole session of further highlights to go - another pass of silver on the trim to brighten it up a step, the leather will get another khaki highlight, and the red/orange sections will get some minor yellow edge highlighting to help 'em pop. It's supposed to be gorgeous the next few days (hopefully allowing me to flock and seal the recent Geno Five-Two models), then another couple weeks of cold on the horizon. Gotta paint quickly if I want to take advantage in the break in the chilly weather we've had of late!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Heresy Era Alpha Legion - Batch painting gets out of hand!

Got the heads on the Geno Five-Two, but the weather is chilly enough that I can't warrant primering 'em yet. That means it's time to switch gears and get stuck in with the Alpha Legion, and it was time to fire up the batch painting machine! Started off with the 20-man tactical squad, and suddenly got the idea that I may as well knock out the base purple on all of the models at once. I've often wondered how many models is too many. It turns out 46 is too many. Hah!

I started off with a basecoat of Vallejo Night Blue, which is a very dark blue/violet. Almost indistinguishable from the black basecoat in the pics.

Next up was a drybrush pass of Vallejo Dark Blue, which to me is much more of a dark violet/purple than blue in my eye. Definitely on the cooler end of the spectrum.

The next step was a much lighter drybrush of Hexed Lichen just on the upper surfaces of the models, leaving the naturally shadowed areas far darker.

Lastly the models were all given a wash of GW's Druchii Violet to tone down the purple and blend them all together. Bit of a slog plowing through all the models at once, so will likely break the units out for the detailing stages - trying to do all of them to completion in this batch size? That way lies madness!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Heresy Era Imperial Army - Geno Five-Two Autocannon teams painted

Cracking along with the Geno Five-Two, feeling like I have the paint scheme dialed in pretty well at this point, and was able to bang out the Autocannon heavy weapon teams over the last couple nights. Really been nice getting back into the swing of painting once again!

Still waiting for it to warm up enough to do the initial sealant pass and get the static grass on. Up to 45F tomorrow they say, but that's still well into what I consider the danger zone for spray sealant. Better to wait for warmer days than risk 'em frosting over, I think... In other news, the long-awaited heads finally arrived after being lost in the warp for weeks. Time to crack out the greenstuff and get the rest of the infantry re-capitated! Once that's done, all the infantry will be built, which means at this point the only thing I'm still missing are the three Leman Russ tanks I have planned for the army. 

In Legion, while they mention the Geno had tank support, other than the Centaur there isn't a specific name/variant mentioned, so just to be a little different I'm thinking about going with the MaxMini Gothic KV-2, as I quite dig the quasi-Ragnarok look which I think suits the Heresy vibe of the army. I'll likely leave off the side sponsons and swap out the hull weapon for a proper lascannon. Gotta wait to rebuild the hobby fund a bit first - too much coming in and not enough going out of late!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Heresy Era Imperial Army - Geno Five-Two infantry squad almost done!

There's always a point when painting a model where I think "this looks like garbage, ugh", which is where I'd more or less left off on the models yesterday. Intellectually I know that pushing on and adding the next couple steps generally absolves that feeling and I was able to sneak a couple more hours of brush time last night and this morning and got the models up to a point where they're really coming into focus and I'm starting to be quite happy with 'em!

Still a bit of clean-up and detailing to go - there's always one or two models that missed a step here or there in the batch painting passes. Once that's done they'll get some static grass and a sealant pass, but seeing as the high is supposed to be about 20F today that's not going to be happening. Argh!

Sadly it's seemed that the second wave of heads I ordered from Meridian Miniatures has been lost in the warp, it's now been six weeks since the order was placed. I've been in contact with 'em and they've assured me that they'll make it right, but that does mean the rest of the Geno are headless and on hold. Guess that means it's time to start getting some of the associated Alpha Legion models painted up! Sort of a fun aspect to this project, the two disparate paint schemes of the two halves of the army means that if I get tired of painting one set of colors I can switch over to the other. I think the purple/green of the Alphas should set off nicely against the yellow/black of the Geno when all is said and done!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Heresy Era Imperial Army - Geno Five-Two infantry squad painting begins!

Could it be? After what seems like ages, I've finally had a couple hours to put paint to miniature again. Huzzah! Not a particularly exciting bit of progress to show, but progress nonetheless:

The dark grey/black uniform with the yellow capes which turns out to be pretty striking, but until the rest of the detail gets picked out (belts, boots, glareshields, etc) they look a little drab at the moment. The red of the bases should set off nicely against the yellow capes to give the models a bit more pop, and the color wheel suggests that they ought to get a little blue spot color somewhere as well. Easy enough on the bashaws and their power swords, so I'm leaning towards making the glareshields blue as well, should help draw the eye.

So far so good, hoping to get another couple hours in over the weekend!