Thursday, 18 November 2010

Space Marine Armour Variants - Part 1: Mark IV

I love the history that has been built up over the years to name and explain the evolution of the power armour of the space marines and some of the best miniature sculpts that GW produced in the nineties were produced to illustrate this. Mark IV or Imperial Maximus Armour is one of the most interesting in my opinion due ti the fact that it was intended to be the culmination of the previous types and consolidate their strengths while also making up for their weaknesses. Stalled in production by the Horus Heresy and then hijacked by the traitor legions that overran Mars, the suit ssems to me to hint at the direction in which the Imperium was headed before it was doomed to superstitious stagnation after the Emperor's internment in the Golden Throne.

Although Forge World have recently started making components for some of the early armour variants, it might actually be cheaper to search out these original miniatures on Ebay and other second hand sources. This is due to the fact that they sell for typically sell for under fiver including P&P and the FW components are in excess of\twenty pounds and still require a tactical marine box set to assemble. In addition, these are discontinued miniatures and as such will only appreciate in value, adding to the value of any collection.

The Mark IV sculpts are fantastic miniatures that are a must for any marine collector and in addition represent an alternative type of power armour similar enough to later types to make the inclusion of even a single model in a unit a point of interst.

PS: You may have noticed that part one of this series focusses on Mark IV armour rather than Mark I. This has nothing to do with anything other than my own shambolic organisational skills. But here's a fun game - try to guess which armour type I'll be looking at next!

Space Crusade: Chaos Goes Clank - Part 2

Image property of used under fair usage rules

In the first part of this article I had a look at some of the marines and the weapons from the Space Crusade boardgame and in this part I want to take a moment to mull over the mechanical minions of chaos that populated the game. These were the biggest bad in the chaos player's arsenal in the form of the Dreadnought and the Androids.

The Dreadnoughts were so awesome and scary that they even got their own expansion: "Mission Dreadnought"...or "Missie Durfar" if you lived in the Netherlands and played "Starquest" (the Dutch version of the box seems to be the only one on the net!). The expansion allowed the chaos player to churn out dreadnoughts and androids faster than UK china factories are currently producing tat in anticipation of the upcomming royal wedding.

Now the original Dreadnought was a towering hulk of plastic that sported two heavy weapons and a pair of chained bolters, but then the expansion introduced this monster with a whole extra pair of weapon mounts. In response the marines had access to a tarantula weapon platform, but they must still have been filling their pants looking down the barrels of six weapons.

No amount of desperate rummaging has been able to turn up my own version of the impressive four-armed Dreadnought, so you'll have to make do with the standard version that I painted back when I was at uni in the late 90s.

At the time I painted this I was pulling together a selection of odds and sods to make an Imperial Guard penal legion squad and the Dreadnought got painted in their colour scheme. As far as I'm aware, this design for a dreadnought was only ever used in the Space Crusade game and bizarrely in the epic scale Space Marine game. No other GW dreadnought, chaos or otherwise, that I've seen has been but humanoid in design.

The Android fitted in somewhere as being more deadly than the Orc, but not as scary as the Chaos Space Marines in the game. To me they always seemed to be somewhat like the Fimir in the Hero Quest game, an odd addition to bolster the ranks. Perhaps they were so evil because they violated the taboo in the Imperium about AIs that imitated humanity?

It was only when I was stripping and repainting these miniatures for this article that it struck me they bore a striking resemblance to the Necrons in terms of their poses and design.

I wonder if someone went on a bit of a scavenger hunt when GW was looking for a new 40k race back in the late 90s?

I'll be trying to wrap things up in the last part of this article and have a look at the Chaos Marines, some more of the bad guys and some of the marines themselves.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dark Heresy: Carbon Empire Conspiracy

Image property of Fantasy Flight Games and used under Fair Useage

It was about three years ago now that my old friend Lee presented me with a copy of Dark Heresy on my birthday and at the time my feelings about the game were mixed. As a GM, when a player gives you a rulebook the situation can sometimes feel like that of a cat owner who has been presented with a freshly killed rodent by his feline companion. You appreciate the thought behind the gift, but both the player and the cat are saying: "This is what I want!"

My initial scan of the book was mixed as I was impressed by the presentation and thrilled to have on paper rules for all of the 40K hardwear that GW have come up with over the years. But at the same time I was somewhat turned off by the premise of characters being acolytes of an inquisitor and disappointed not to see more rules for things like space marines, eldar and orcs.

Of course I was far more enthused with the idea after I read the Eisenhorn and Ravenor novels and insisted that my players read them as well before I would even contemplate sitting down to write anything for a campaign. In the end it was all down to Dan Abbnett and his magic words that made me do a complete 180 on the whole idea and so late last year whilst on a holiday around the islands off the coast of Scotland, I started to jot down ideas.

There were a number of things that I wanted to focus on in the game that I felt were important to make it different from the things that I had read and translate the feel of the Abbnett novels at the same time. The first was that I wanted the threat in the game to be something other than Chaos and daemons, a threat that was internal to the Imperium and far more sinister in nature. The second was that I wanted the Inquisitor to be a far more remote and indistinct figure than the central characters of Abbnett's novels.

I set the game in a region of space known as the Argolid Cluster, a dense region of stars that had been cut off from the rest of humanity more due to bureaucratic errors than wild warpstorms. In that time the worlds had made their own way and deviated from the Imperial way, a matter that was set to rights when a taskforce arrived to bring the region back into concordance. The effort to achieve that has been ongoing for more then 300 years and the acolytes step into the tale when some of the darkest secrets of what the region has been hiding are being revealed.

I intend to keep making the occasional post here on the progress and content of the game and see where it takes me.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Son of the Son of the Apocrypha

Things have been a bit hectic recently, not least of all due to the fact that my family has just epanded to welcome the birth of my first child and as anyone in the know will tell you, the little angels can be quite demanding as far as your time and energy are concerned!

I still have a fair few things that I'm working on when I have the chance, including the second part of my trip into the retro world of Space Crusade and some modern and RT era rhinos that are the first vehicles I've ever painted for a WH army.

I'm also addressing the issue of some of the duplicate miniatures that I have managed to amass by taking a new look at the first marine chapter that I drempt up in my youth: The Astral Paladins. In addition I have some RT era Eldar that I want to have a twiddle with as well.

Hope to have something to post soon.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Book Review: The Horus Heresy - Nemesis

Image property of Black Library and posted under Fair Usage

I looked back and realised with something of a shock the other day that the Horus Heresy series has now more a dozen titles to its name and the saga seems to be in no hurry to reach the duel between the Emperor and his errant son high above Terra. For me the series has been the usual mixed bag of fantastic highs and plodding lows I would expect from such a large undertaking by the Black Library and it's coterie of regulars. As usual Dan Abnett and Graham McNeill stand out head and shoulders above the rest, but some of the other titles in the series were worthy of praise in their own right as well. On the other hand titles such as Descent of Angels and Battle for the Abyss seemed like nothing more than throwaway titles to keep the series rolling along.

So where does Nemesis fall in that spread? Well, somewhere inbetween is the only answer that I can give to that one as it's as much a mixed bag as I just claimed the series was itself. My previous experience of James Swallow was the first omnibus of his pretty awful Blood Angels novels and that set me off worrying about Nemesis from the start. But after a few dozen pages I was pleasently suprised by the novel and found that the combination of the assembling of the Imperial team of assasins juxtaposed with the lawmen hunting their daemonic counterpart worked quite well.

Swallow appears able to give life far better to the human characters that he creates than the superhuman staples of the Heresy setting that I suppose he has no choice but to include in a title from this series. Here the characters of Malcador the Sigillite, Rogal Dorn, Constantin Valdor and others come across as little more than parts of the scenery that have lines in the script. But the assassins and the people they interact with are an interesting lot and more than make up for it.

The gathering of the assassins from across Terra introduces a disparate and interesting collection of killers and at the same time takes the reader to some nice locations on the homeworld. Each of the assassins has an interesting bundle of murderous personality and back story and the interaction between the supposedly professional killers is suitably catty and vindictive enough to add an air of reality to the whole thing.

Perhaps the one thing that lets the book down as a whole is the daemonic assassin known as "Spear" in whom Swallow creates something that comes close to the first "Mary Sue" characater to appear in the Heresy series. Staring out from a pretty tame few random kills, the complexity of these pretty much lost due to Swallow's inability to describe them, Spear soon becomes and all singing and all dancing killing machine that grows new powers and abilities as he needs them. By the end of the book the character is killing everything in his path and offs the assassins one by one in a way that makes his inevitable death seem very improbable.

All in all Nemesis is not the worst of the Heresy series, but not the best either.

Read as something to keep you going until Prospero Burns is released.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Space Crusade: Warhammer 40K's Poor Cousin? - Part 1

Image property of Milton Bradley and posted under Fair Usage

When GW decided to team up with Milton Bradley to come up with the board games Heroquest and Space Crusade, they really had something potentially massive on their hands. They managed to invade that seasonal trench of marketing that makes so much profit every year and at the same time elevate themselves and their products out of the crowd of rpg manufacturers and actually break into the mainstream. Suddenly it seemed as though everyone had either one or both of the games and was in love with the plastic miniatures that filled the boxes. Now you might look at the stuff that was packed in there and wonder what passed for quality at the time, but you have to remember that most of the kids who got their clammy little hands on them had never seen anything of the like.

I was lucky enough to have both of the games and still have most of the miniatures in various tins and boxes hidden away in my study at home. Some of my first experiences as a GM were from behind the screen of the Heroquest set and in some ways that game has fared better with the passage of time than Space Crusade. Perhaps that happened due to the fact that GW were so successful in breaking into the mainstream that the subsequent generations that took up 40K and adored the newer space marines were quick to distance themselves from the more primitive offerings in the older game. Some people openly deride them and seem to have nothing but scorn for those dogged little marines, but they have their place in history all the same.

When I was starting out collecting there was something to be said for the fact that I had twelve marines and three sergeants right there waiting for me in the Space Crusade box. That's one entire 10 man squad with some marines left over right there and so they formed the first part of my space marine army and have been there ever since. I love to think that those marines that have been with me from the start are still there, making up the numbers in the background alongside the generic marines from the 90s. And so taking into account my own nostalgic love for these marines, I wanted to post something on the miniatures from the Space Crusade box and some of the ways in which I have tried to use them in my modern collection of marines.

The sergeant was of course the most iconic and impressive of the marines that graced Space Crusade with the best choice of weapons and the most bling on his power armour. Although I always though that the white colourscheme on the box was striking, I could never bring myself to use it. Over the years I've used this type of miniature as a sort of testbed for whatever techniques I was trying to master at the time. In this case I was experimenting with aged gold effects and sculpting basic additions from modelling putty for the loincloth, which when combined with a sword from the chaos warrior sprue to replace the somewhat tame version on the original, gives the miniature a different character to the standard Space Crusade sergeant. Of all the marines in the box, this is the only one that I will snap up if I come across it in a bits box as the guy is just very useful and a nice simple miniature to modify and paint.

In one of those strange but welcome coincidences that happen only every so often in this hobby, the plug weapons that came with the Space Crusade marines are an almost perfect fit for the modern solid marines. Here the addition of a bayonet to the bolter just adds a bit of variation to the marine.
Dull, wet and cold weather? Fear not, with the Space Crusade heavy flamer, it's always barbeque season wherever this marine goes! Hope you like your heretics well done.

Here's one for all those old-school gamers who hate the tubular rocket launcher; one that looks and feels like the ancient RT era monstrocity with a dirty great big ammo clip. Am I the only person who thinks moounting that clip on top and at the front of the weapon would mean it blocking your line of sight and also over-balancing the damn thing? Ah well, who cares.

And finally on the catwalk today we have boring 90s marine sporting the "Emperor Knows" cannon which due to the fact I threw away all the non miniature related elements of Space Crusade, I have no idea what it's supposed to be.
Anyone have a clue, because I don't?

In part two I'll be looking at some of the other miniatures in the box including the dreadnought and something that looks as though it was in the idea cupboard when GW went to raid it a few years back. I might even let some of the actual Space Crusade marines in on the act if the ugly little brutes behave themselves and don't break the camera lens with their horrible visages.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Book Review: Space Marine Battles - Rynn's World

Image from Black Library posted under Fair Usage

Rynn's World is one of those terms that has hung around the 40k setting like a misasmal memory of the earliest days when squats roamed the universe and marines were no taller than the average burly man down the pub. Perhaps the most iconic of the covers that ever graced the Warhammer 40k rulebook, the image of the Crimson Fists in their heroic last stand against the full weight of an orc Waaargh (typing that feels so stupid) should have made for one of those marine titles that makes a fan eager with anticipation.

So perhaps I shouldn't have been suprised to find that this one would suffer from the cardboard marine syndrome that seems to affect most of the Black Library novels on the subject not handled by the more reliable authors in their stable. When done well, a marine novel excellently juxtaposes the mythic nature of the astartes in the eyes of common men and the reality of the god-like but often flawed beings inside the powered armour. When done badly you have a plodding tome in which the humans are either fawning or pathetic and the marines either rabid killers or indecicive types more given to self-doubt and contenplation than heroics.

Allessio Cortez and Pedro Cantor fall into each of these roles respectively as the orcs make amazingly short work of their homeworld and chapter; the former champs at the bit and the latter worries about what will become of them all. The reader is left wondering at the idea that these two are such close friends when they seem so starkly different and opposed. Meanwhile the pitiful humans dash around at their feet and generally get in the way while the orcs just want to have a laugh and kill everything twice over.

The shame is that the opening parts of the novel detailling the splendor of the Fists' fortress stronghold and the politics of the captains vying for glory started things out quite well. But then everything goes boom and the reader is left with a small band of marines trailing after Cantor and Cortez through the wilderness and wrestling with the problem of getting the job done or messing about with puny mortal survivors along the way. This resembeld far too closely the terrible tradition in modern fantasy for long and boring treks through the wilds to fill the space and pad out the book.

Even when reuinted with the remnants of the chapter, Cantor and his band still fail to really come alive as they track down the nasty orc warlord responsible for the whole mess. The baffling climax of the story comes when the showdown between Cantor and the orc Boss, who seems awfully keen on proving that he's tougher and nastier than the marine Chapter Master, ends when the orc cuts and runs by jumping into a waiting helecopter in front of his own troops. Great way to show you're the hardest greenskin in the galaxy: by basically turning tail and admitting defeat!

By the standards of the average Black Library novel, Rynn's World is just that: average. While I was not impressed by the standard of the writing, there's nothing to stop someone else with less exacting standards getting a kick out of the generous amounts of greenskin blood shed here. But it seemed to me that this title was pretty lightweight, printed in very large type and hyped up to be more than it was. Even the maps included to show the locationn of the events in the text were pretty bland and lacking in detail.

Not the worst book I ever read, but far from the best the Black Library has to offer.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Psychic Warfare: Librarians Part 2 - The Warhammer 40K Era

As with most of the marine range, the librarians really started to come into their own in the nineties when standard armour patterns, sculpting scales and iconography allowed the miniatures to excell in individual style whilst fitting in alongside the rest of the marine range.

This was the first librarian that I ever owned and back then, due to the fact that I was using the same colour for their armour as that of the standard marines, I decided to mark them out by painting their hair with peroxide stripes running through it. When I recently came to review the miniatures that I had and decided on new colour schemes for them, needless to say that seemed bloody stupid and it went into the ideas bin.

A fairly simple paint job here that highlights the basic ideas behind the scheme that I use for all my librarians. The armour painted with Mordian Blue provides a flat background to allow the detailling of the helmets and other metallic elements to stand out.

Another fairly standard librarian that shows the concept of the helmet and psychic hood that are meant to echo the use of a golden halo on religious icons. In retrospect I would probably snip off the spike on the top of this guy's poweraxe...seems, I don't know, too pointy to me.

The psychic hoods on most of these librarians featured an icon of some kind, usually an aguila or horned skull. But that bugged me for some reason, reminding me of expensive cars sporting big showy badges and too much bling. So they went the way of the peoxide stripes so that more attention is centred around the helmets.

This is probably one of the librarians that I'm most happy with due to the combination of the open-faced helmet and the F***ING wierd scrollwork on his staff. Again I think that removing the aguila from the top of the psychic hood makes the miniature more balanced rather than a mad riot of detail that detracts from the overall feel of the character.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

What's on the boil?

Sometimes I feel like the old RTB01 marines look at the side of their modern counterparts: battered, confused and always bending down slightly as if in need of a toilet stop. At the moment I'm an agonising one miniture away from having everything I need ready to put up a special post that I've been working on regarding Space Crusade and at the same time suffering from some kind of rather vile stomach bug that means I'm never more than dashing distance from the toilet.

In other news it seems as though Forge Wolrd have responded to the fact that there are so many people out there making Pre Heresy conversions and companies offering parts for "Steam Knights" and the like, that there's money to be made. To this end they are about to crap out a pretty impressive looking series of marine parts featuring earlier mark power armout components and weapons styled after the original RT era bolters and heavy weapons.

Seems as though there's still some love for the classic marines in the GW collective consciousness that goes beyond a paltry amount of bits on the standard tactical sprue after all. Of course the new parts are a more beefy version of the originals to be in keeping with the fact that modern marines are more like demigods than the rather more humble originals, but these more chunky versions certainly look nice.

I'll hopefully be able to post something more useful soon, but until then the toilet beckons.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Guardians of Faith: Chaplains Part 2 - The Warhammer 40K Era

For me the chaplains have always been one of the strongest elements of the space marine range and in the 90s the quality of the miniatures on offer just seemed to get better. I seem to modify alsmost all the miniatures that I paint and this one was no exception. I found him in an odds and sods box at a local game store with the limb that should have been holding his crozius chopped off. A chaos marine chainsword and a powerfist from a chaos terminator with the pointy bits filed down gave the miniature what I think is a very distinctive look and makes him my favourite of the dozen or so chaplains I have painted.

This is another chaplain deprived of his crozius, but this time on purpose. Around the time one of the previous incarnations of the Legion of the Damned was released, White Dwarf suggested a conversion with this chaplain replacing the crozius with a powersword to make a captain or hero for the mysterious band of warriors. I made the conversion, but never completed him in the LotD colours and he sat around in by collection until I recently stripped off the old paint job and decided that he would look best as a chaplain after all.

This was one of the more "conventional" chaplains that I painted. Pretty simple and uncomplicated apart from the addition of the waistcloth and a skull-themed backpack from a Dark Angels character. I was amazed at how adding just those two elements to the miniature added a great deal of personality and depth. Is there any chaplain model out there that couldn't benefit from more skulls? If so then I haven't seen it yet.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Random Marine: Master of the Fleet

For some perverse reason I found that I couldn't assemble any of the four miniatures in the spacemarine chaptermasters box with the original heads and instead replaced them with pretty standard helmeted heads instead. One reason for this is that I believe less is more and in the case of more elaborate miniatures the addition of a bare head can be too much. Adding a standard helmet tones down the whole and puts the attention on the miniature as a whole. Conversely I find that adding a bare head to a simpler model such as a sergeant makes the miniature more interesting and enhamces the otherwise standard nature of the other compenents.

Random Marine: Mid 90s Spacemarine Captain

One thing I think is a constant for the marines sculpted in the 90s is the fact that they seem to have a good balance of pose, wargear and pomp to them. Take this guy for example: he has a powersword and a stormbolter, a bulky combination of weapons for a marine in standard powerarmour. But the addition of the dramatic pose and the sweeping cloak balance this well.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Cowboy Techadepts: Techmarines Part 1 - Rogue Trader Era

Techmarines inhabit a strange world of split loyalties with one foot in the chapters of the Emperor's spacemaines and the other in the cult of the Machine God of Mars. As such I always thought of them as somewhat akin to a cowboy builder or electrician who can talk a good fight but that you secretly suspect might be in over his head and telling porkies about the job at hand. I'm sure that's not the case and that no techmarine has ever looked at a totalled landraider and sucked his teeth or commented that the previous work done on a rhino was that of a "right amatuer".

Seems to me that the issues surrounding the RT era apothecaries sculpting are non-existant with the techmarines. Their poses are good, the detail fine and the proportions just right. In addition the theme of massive tools and the shoulderpads in the form of talons on the right and exposed tech on the left are something that unfortunately (in my opinion) never carried over into later editions of the range.

With the techmarines I thought that it was important to keep away from effects such as bone and gold detailling and instead to make them seem more functional. Growing up in Sheffield I was surrounded by museums full of machinery from the industrial age and most of these towering engines seemed to have been painted a deep green, so it was a logical step to apply that same colour scheme to the techmarines. Also I feel an odd echo of the "Green Goddesses" the military fire engines used by the British army.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed this guy didn't have the same kind of oversized tool as the others (I'm still hunting for the techmarine with the massive monkeywrench!), so I console myself with the idea that he's looking at his wristchron in exasperation. Perhaps he's waiting for a transport that's late or cursing the servitor that he sent down to the stores to get him a screwdriver the size of a garden rake.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Space Marine Dreadnought: Brother Deimos

I suppose that sooner or later as a space marine collector you find yourself in possession of a dreadnought regardless of wheter or not you really planned it or not, it's just one of the things that seems to appear in your collection after a number of years. I never really intended to buy one myself due to the expense and the fact that I spent years moving about from one place to another and as a result I was forced to keep my collection as potable as possible so I limited myself to smaller miniatures that would fit into standardised carry cases.
Assault on Black Ride came along years later and left me with a dreadnought that sat in the box, as if taunting me to take him on for more than a few months before I finally got round to it. I assembled this guy, undercoated and drybrushed him and then left him on the sidelines again for a while before I got that perverse urge that I sometimes get to try something different on a whim. So in the space of a night he was completed.

I named him "Deimos" after the Greek of the rout in battle and intend to eventually have a twin for him called "Phobos" after the god of fear. Both were sons of Ares and fed on warriors fates and emotions on the battlefield. The scortch marks on the meltagun and the tarnished metal of the sarcophagus represent some of my attempts to mix the arts of drybrushing and the use of washes to add life and grime to my marines.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Chainsword Surgery: Apothecaries Part 1 - Rouge Trader Era

My apothecaries ended up being red for the same reason that my chaplains ended up slate gray, I simply have no ability when it comes to painting solid blocks of black and white and making them look like anything but an undercoat. The upshot of the red armour was the fact that I flipped the colours for the weapons and eyes of the helmet.

I know that I have a real thing for the RT era marines, but the apothecaries really stretch that affection to its limits. I'm grateful to have these guys in my collection and enjoyed painting them, but the proportions and detail on this miniature really highlight some of the worst aspects of that period for GW in terms of uniformity and general quality. Take the chainsword for example; it looks as though it was made by a drunken squat on his lunchbreak. And what's the story with the massive crotchplate and no discernable waist? The marine equivalent of nappies?

At least this guy has a waist, but it seems that he's been afflicted with some strange wasting disease that has left him with the legs of a sickly teenage eldar. You'd think that an artificier would have been able to make his legs look more manly in power armour, not leave him to be the laughing stock of the battlefield. And what's he got in his right hand? I presume that it's some kind of medical device that eventually evolved into the narthecium. But to my eye it always looks like some random engine part the guy just found lying about on the ground.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Psychic Warfare: Librarians Part 1 - Rogue Trader Era

I tried an alternative colour scheme for my librarians as I had with most of the other speacialists, but for some reason I chose to paint them in Deadly Nightshade, which is one of the prime colours of the rank and file marines. After having a long rethink, I decided that this was one case that sticking closer to the more traditional approach might be the answer. So I adopted a base of Mordian Blue and have been very pleased with the results.

One thing that I hate is to paint a miniature and do nothing original with either the way the model looks or the colour scheme. In the case of the librarians I settled on the idea of trying to make their helmets resemble the halos common to religious icons common in the eastern orthodox church. The aged white of the outer parts of the headgear was a simple double coat of white washed with Devlan Mud. The interior gold consists of a basecoat of Graveyard Earth drybrushed with Burnished Gold and then highlighted with Shining Gold and finally washed with Badab Black.

Though these are miniatures from one of the earliest stages of the WH40k history, you can still see some of the themes that carried on into the later librarians in the 90's and beyond. The horned skulls adorning the shoulderpads and the writhing patterns on the power weapons are probably the most noticable. I've tried to keep these details on the weapons a uniform red for every librarian that I've completed.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Guardians of Faith: Chaplains Part 1 - Rogue Trader Era

Some newer collectors and painters that I've come across seem to have an issue with the marines that came out during the original RT era. They dislike the fact that the marines often seem too small in stature, badly sculpted and look to have been given the most unlikely poses possible. But as a collector myself I've managed to amass quite a number of marines from this era and when painting them always find that the experience is great due to the quirks and odd little touch that the sculptor gave them back in the day before marines were acknowledged to be ten-foot demigods.

For most of the specialists in the chapter I wanted to use a non-codex colour scheme that still fitted with the function of the marine and kept with the darkling feel of the chapter and their medaeval homeworld. To be honest, I've never had much luck painting marine armour black and so after spending a holiday in the Lake District surrounded by buildings made from the amazing local slate stone, I settled on that shade of grey for my chaplains. A coat of Charcedon Granite provided a perfect slate effect allowing the bone highlights to stand out more than would have been possible with black.
It would have been an idea in retrospect to replace this guy's rather unimpressive chainsword with something from a later marine or paint it in bone as well, but I'd already removed his bannerpole and it just seemed to slip my mind. The bannerpole was pretty dreadful anyway, so good riddence.

The legs and shoulderpads on this chaplain make up for the fact that his helmet looks like the enbalmed visage of a particularly ugly chimpanzee. With marine plasma pistols I have been trying an approach of basecoating in Enchanted Blue, drybrushing lightly with white and then applying a wash of blue ink in the hope that it will simulate the energy cells of the weapon without drawing too much attention away from the rest of the model.

I'll be posting next some images of chaplains from the mid-nineties over the next few days and then moving on to more contempory models as soon as I have the time to post.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Blood Bowl Orcs: Scoring is Secondary to Carnage

One of the things that always marked GW out as something different in a rpg market that sometimes seemed more pompous than a room full of upper-class twits was the fact that there was always a vein of silly and sometimes quite juvenile humour than ran through the stuff they put out in the late eighties and early nineties. The original RT hardback was full of daft jokes about the hobby and thinly veiled pokes at certain parts of the UK and it's populace. And Bloodbowl was perhaps the game that for me summed it all up most sweetly and with the most fun involved as well.

I'd always had the idea of a BB team in the back of my head, but when a friend found that he had not only his own first edition of the game in his parents' loft, but the three copies that his childhood friends had left with him as well, the chance to play some games seemed too much to resist.

At the time another member of my gaming group was having a birthday and as he's not either a collector or painter of miniatures, I decided that I'd use some of the WHFB orks that I had lying around my study to make a team up for him.

These are my favourite miniatures from the main line-up of the team, huge, mean and beefy greenskins covered in plate armour and intent on doing nothing more than steam-rolling over the opposition. In the second edition of the rules the ork teams had black orks as blitzers and I suppose that these guys are probably part of that strain of super ork.

The linemen are the backbone of the team, the poor grunts who have to form the defensive line, take the punishment from the star players on the opposing side and generally perform any role that a specialist isn't on the spot to do. I think these two sum up the differing styles of ork BB tactics quite well, on the one hand you have the guy on the right with his helmet and head stuck straight out to absorb whatever punishement comes his way and the one on the right who simply doesn't care and just wears his colourful cap and leaves it all up to chance. The guy on the left is also an example of using an ork head from the Assault on Black Reach boxset in order to add variety to the team.

As well as a collection of linemen, throwers, catchers and blockers, I thought the team could do with the ubiquitous chainsaw-wielding loony and a musician to play the team onto the pitch. The loony is the only model that actually comes from the WH40K range, but thankfully the differences between that and the WHFB orks are so small as not to notice. The drummer is a really old WHFB ork with a drum from the Chaos Marauder boxset. I wanted to sculpt a mohawk on his head, but for some reason it just ended up being the most ludicrous quiff I have ever seen instead. But somehow it just seemed to fit with the feel of the model and the team as a whole.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Chapter Badge

When deciding on a chapter badge, the initial temptation can be to go for something very flashy and over the top. When I was working on my first DIY chapter (the Celestial Paladins, more on them another time), my idea was for the chapter badge to be a blazing ball of blue and white flame that looked like a celestial comet. The problem was that it was so time-consuming to paint on every model and my skills were so basic that it took more time to get right than to paint the entire rest of the miniature.

Without doubt the best advice that I can give to anyone who wants to come up with their own chapter badge and is not planning on using either a transfer or supurb painting skills is to keep it as simple as you possibly can.

The star-burst design above was one that I came up for within a matter of minutes some years ago and I still think that it's one of the best bits of iconography that I have ever designed. All in all the design requires nothing more than five brush-strokes, not accounting for corrections afterwards, and still manages to stand out as a stark and unique part of the chapter image.

As for the fluff behind the image, that's a bit more vague. Perhaps it signifies the dropships that brought the elements of the chapter to their homeworld of Basilisk for the first time, descending like heavenly warriors from the skies. Or perhaps it represents the hope of the marines that comes with the dawn. Maybe it stands for the light of far Terra, visible only as a tiny point of light in the night sky.

Who knows?

Tactical Marine Colours

It's been a very long time since I got round to adding anything at all to this blog, but in all that time I haven't been idle and as a result I have a good amount of stuff to post around here to make up for the long peroid of silence.
I thought a good place to get started would be with this, the standard colours for the rank and file of the SOTA chapter.
The most obvious thing is that this is in no way a codex chapter, individual squads are more likely to be marked out by unique badges or heraldic devices than by traditional methods. The helmet, breastplate, abdomen, right arm, right leg and backpack of the power armour are a deep midnight blue and the left arm and leg a dark crimson. The chapter badge is marked on the right shoulderpad, though this may vary for veterans or specialists within the chapter.
There is a bit of fluff behind the choices here and I'll get to that with a later post.

Add Image