Archive for December, 2011

Signing off for 2011

Posted in Blather on December 31, 2011 by stingersix

Had a pretty good year with my miniatures hobby. The main news item for me was slipping back into painting and playing 40K, which is something I thought I would not do. As far as that goes, I’m enjoying painting the models a lot. The game itself is fun but can’t replace Stargrunt in my heart (!). That said, I think I only played SG once or twice this year, which is sad. But I did have another game of Tomorrow’s War yesterday (that sounds weird) and discovered once again how much I like that game. It’s forcing a bit of a change of perception on both myself and Chris R. as we learn it, but the way it handles things is engaging and fun. I’m looking forward to more TW next year for sure!

As for painting, I’m riding a wave of enthusiasm for painting my Space Marines. Maybe holding back from it for over 20 years has resulted in this pent up wave of energy to paint Space Marines now. Whatever, I’m doing it! I’m sort of entertaining the idea of trying to paint at least one unit, single miniature or single vehicle per month. Then by the end of the year I’ll have a ridiculous amount of Marines to display! <crazy>

But there are other minis that have caught my eye and maybe my wallet. I’d still like to go further into 15mm territory (since I think a game like TW would be really great at this scale). And there are several companies putting out new 28mm sci-fi minis that I’m looking forward to seeing.

One thing I’d like to try to do is push my painting technique a little further. I’ve done some repaints of my older work this year and it allowed me to compare it to the way I paint now. I’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.

So, 2011 was good and I think 2012 will be at least as good, if not better!

Happy New Year!

Drop Pod finished!

Posted in 40K, Minis with tags , , on December 24, 2011 by stingersix

Got that drop pod all restored and finished. Not my best work but good enough and it’s nice to have rescued a $33 model from the trash can (where I was going to put it at first). Thanks to Adan for giving it to me in the first place!

So despite the airbrush failure a few days ago, I managed to touch up the ugly parts of the basecoat with a brush. As I put the pieces back together it started looking more presentable. It’s kind of a boring model to paint – it’s just a transport after all, but I did the caution stripes on the doors, did a little detail on the seat harnesses and painted the gyro – those touches make it stand out a bit more. And I did the obligatory Furinkazan motto of the Rising Sun Chapter in kanji on the doors. They didn’t come out so well, but I was kind of rushing at that point – I need to get my wife to coach my writing.

If there is a reason I rushed it a bit, it’s because I’m hot to get working on the Space Marine Sternguard minis I just got. I have 5 of the metal ones and I’m building 5 more using the plastic Tactical Marines as a base and adding bits of bling to make them look like vets, including converted combi-meltas and flamers.

Anyway, here’s the finished drop pod!

RPG’s too!

Posted in Games with tags on December 21, 2011 by stingersix

As big a minis hobbyist as I am, my main hobby interest is roleplaying games. I also do an RPG blog which unfortunately doesn’t get as much traffic as this blog. So, I thought I’d plug my Game Machine blog here.

If you are a fan of roleplaying games, please check it out!

Airbrush Fail

Posted in Blather, WIP with tags , on December 19, 2011 by stingersix

Totally failed at using the airbrush today. I set about spraying that drop pod and made a huge mess. I wasn’t expecting miracles, just a smooth basecoat. What I got was a runny, uneven, blotchy mess. The trigger on the airbrush basically gave me either full blast or not enough. I tried several paint mixes, thinner or thicker, fiddled with the valve, etc. And despite the moisture trap, it was drooling water all over the place. The paint cup is poorly positioned (under the brush as opposed to on top) and paint would spill out – just a frustrating mess.I’ll probably have to sand the damned thing down again. I remember saying this would probably be more trouble than it’s worth.

Yup.

I get fine basecoats results with a regular brush so I’m going back to that and put the airbrush away.

Drop Pod restoration, pt.3

Posted in WIP with tags on December 18, 2011 by stingersix

After a week or two of soaking, scrubbing, scraping and sanding, I have finally got that beat up drop pod ready to re-assemble and re-paint. Here are all the parts:

I put 1/16″ magnets in the doors and engine housing so the doors will stay up better and so I won;t have to put a rubber band around it, which looks really ghetto.

Now to prime it!

Tomorrow’s War – Contact Front!

Posted in Games with tags , on December 16, 2011 by stingersix

Finally got a learning game of Ambush Alley’s Tomorrow’s War in last night. Although I’m sure Chris and I missed a few things and lingering memories of Stargrunt may have caused a few hiccups, I really love this game!

I mention Stargrunt because TW really is the spiritual successor to that game – unit effectiveness based on troop quality and morale is the heart of the game. The point is, a poorly trained conscript with an advanced combat rifle is dangerous, sure, but I’d rather face him than a Delta Force operator armed with a spear. In TW, what this means is better quality troops are probably going to kick nine kinds of hell out of lesser quality troops unless that difference is made up with numbers. Weapons and technology can provide an edge but it’s not a huge advantage overall.

In play, when a unit opens fire you roll a dice pool and look for 4+, and the dice you roll are based on troop quality;. Regulars roll a d8. Green troops get a d6. You roll one die per figure in the unit and add dice for other factors. For example, my 4-man fire team gets a base of 4d8 (1d8 per guy). The SAW gunner adds an additional d8 and the rocket launcher adds another 2d8 for a total of 7d8. If my troops’ Tech Level is higher than my opponent’s, I add another die for the difference (TL3 v TL2 would give me +1). So when I open fire, I roll all those dice and look for rolls of 4+ (successes).

There is no range measuring, which is nice – if you have an unblocked LOS you can shoot it. If you’re within Optimum range (8″ for Regular troops) you can add another Firepower die to your roll.

Against this the defender also rolls Troop Quality dice, one per figure in the squad, plus dice for armor, cover and other factors. A 6-man team with hard armor (2d) in cover (1d) would roll 9 dice, also looking for 4+. Then the defender tries to equal or exceed the attacker’s successes with his dice, and any that aren’t beaten indicate casualties. In play, this went surprisingly quick once we’d done it a few times. There are no pluses or minuses to figure out, only adding or taking away dice from your pool.

But the real beauty of the game is the Action/Reaction system. If I do an action with a unit in LOS of your unit, you can try to react and interrupt me. We roll off Troop Quality to see who goes first. This system can set off complicated chains of reactions but it definitely works and definitely gives the game a constant level of action. You can set units on Overwatch to try to interrupt enemy Reactions. It takes a lot to explain perhaps, but in play, it makes a lot of sense. The result is a very fluid game with a lot of back and forth and player involvement.

That’s what really sells it for me. I really dislike the Igo-Ugo sequence of play in 40K. Standing there doing nothing while an enemy waltzes right up to you is silly. Plus there’s a lot of down time while you just watch your opponent moving around and you can do nothing to react until he’s all done. Charging an unsuppressed and active enemy pretty much equals suicide, so you do end up having to employ more realistic tactics to reach your objectives. TW makes every move a potential turning point.

TW does have some issues – some rules aren’t entirely clear or even somewhat contradictory, and the organization of the rules is kind of scattered (why is it always like this?) Leaders are present but don’t seem to have nearly the impact they do in Stargrunt (and I still love how SG leaders can reactivate finished units). But just on one play I can see this is a game I can really sink my teeth into. Some more time with the rulebook and a couple more games and I’ll be deep into Tomorrow’s War!

I’ll get some pics of the game up soon!

Paint scheme, plus metal!

Posted in Minis with tags , , on December 14, 2011 by stingersix

Thought I’d put up the paint scheme for my Rising Sun Space Marine Chapter.

The base color is GW Astronomican Grey. The greaves and right shoulder are GW Skull White. The red is Reaper Fire Red and the gold trim is Reaper Antique Gold with Reaper New Gold highlights. I do the kanji characters by hand, with a brush or fudepen.

As I have mentioned before, Japanese themed Space Marines are not a new idea, and there are conversion parts that make them look more like samurai. I’ve chosen not to go this route, mostly because I’ve been painting my Space Marines this way for over 20 years, but also because I feel the addition of the kanji achieves a more subtle distinction – you notice the difference but the outline is the same familiar Space Marine silhouette. The kanji on the back banners combined with samurai crests also is distinctive without being too jarring.

In other news, I got a box of metal Sternguard Veterans. I like the solid feel and weight of metal but was reminded of how hard it is to work with compared to plastic. Cleaning and trimming is a bit of a chore. I mean to work up five more Sternguard from bits and so on to fill out the squad as well.

 

Drop pod restoration pt.2

Posted in WIP with tags on December 11, 2011 by stingersix

Wow. I’ve had the parts for this drop pod soaking in the Simple Green for a couple of days and spent the afternoon scrubbing off the top layer of this cruddy house paint that someone used to paint this thing and it’s still not clean. Modelers, here’s a tip: DO NOT USE HOUSE PAINT. Actually, I don’t know if it’s really house paint but it’s so damned thick and so damned tough (it’s almost like plaster or wall spackle) that I was only able to get the top layers of the stuff off and threw everything back into the Simple Green for some more soaking. The worst part is, the paint has completely covered and obscured some of the fine detail and the only way I’ll be able to get it out of there is going to be carefully scraping and picking it out.

It was missing the seat harnesses so I got some off eBay for .99 cents. So the only thing I’m really investing in this is time. Cleaning it up is definitely going to take longer than painting it.

The question that keeps going through my mind while I scrub, scrape and sand away at this thing is, why would you pay $33 (or whatever you paid) for a new model, and then utterly ruin it by covering it in thick, plaster-like paint?

Drop Pod restoration?

Posted in Minis with tags , on December 8, 2011 by stingersix

Adan kindly gave me a thoroughly jacked up looking drop pod that he picked up at the EndGame minis swap meet that I think he said he got for a dollar? Anyway, the thing was in pretty rough shape – the assembly was sloppy, it’s missing a few parts and was given a slapdash brushcoat of some sort of horrific white paint (apparently to serve as primer?). I swear it looks like house paint. I looked at it for a few days and thought about pitching it, but then these damned things are $33 at full retail and I hate to waste stuff.

So, I broke it apart as carefully as I could – it was put together with messy uneven globs of what looks like Testor’s model cement – and I’ve dunked a few of the smaller bits in the Simple Green to see if that awful paint will come off. If it does, I’ll strip the whole thing, sand down the rough spots, get it back together, eBay the missing parts and repaint. Right now it’s sorta sounding like more trouble than it’s worth ($33!)

Here’s a pic of the pile of parts. Sorta makes me think of a dismembered corpse. We’ll see if I can’t reanimate!

A dog's breakfast?

Sternguard bolters and Japanese pens

Posted in Minis with tags , , on December 3, 2011 by stingersix

Just some random stuff. I don’t have anything I’m painting at the moment – my discretionary funds this month are tied up in Christmas presents so no models for me. But I do have some bits I’ve been working on.

I might convert some regular 40K Marines I have into Sternguard veterans and those dudes have these blinged out weapons called combi-meltas, and over/under weapon combo basically. Their standard bolt guns also have high capacity box magazines, like what you’d see on real world SAWs (like the M249). So with some bits, green stuff and the exacto knife, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Sternguard Bolters

The combi-melta uses the muzzle and fuel tank of the Space Marine melta-gun on a chopped up regular bolter. I used green stuff to fill out parts of the receiver, repositioning the foregrip and bolter muzzle. The box magazines on both weapons are from a Rhino storm bolter, trimmed down a bit to fit properly, and the scopes are stuck on for Sternguard bling. Not bad I think, and I may do a few more and actually try to make a squad up.

Next, I thought I’d talk about the pen I use to write the Japanese kanji characters on my Rising Sun Marines.

It’s called a “fudepen” (pronounced “fu-day-pen”) and it is common writing instrument in Japan used for calligraphy (and I would imagine it’s used in other Asian countries whose languages can be written with a brush).

Fudepen

Back in the day, you’d just use a brush and bottle of ink. But the fudepen eliminates that messy stuff. Since it’s a pen, there’s no need to dip it in ink of course. It has two nibs, one is a fairly standard point like a regular sharpie, the other is the special “brush” tip:

Fudepen "brush" tip

That tip is flexible, like a brush, and simulates the effect you get of using a brush. You’ll notice an even smaller second tip on the end of the brush. That point allows even finer control and what I use to do some of the characters on my minis. Yes, it takes a steady hand!

Of course, you also have to know how to write kanji, but if you do, the effect is quite pleasing. Japanese calligraphy is an art in itself (called shodo) and brush-painted kanji look quite different from kanji rendered in standard fonts. One thing I like about shodo is how you can sometime write a whole character, that normally consists of several strokes, in one single movement of the brush. It’s hard and takes practice to master (and I’m no master!) but for my purposes, my amateur scrawling is effective enough! When I get stuck or need a reference, there are many websites you can go to for help. The Yamasa Online Japanese Dictionary is particularly helpful, since it shows the stroke order of the kanji, as well as what a handwritten version looks like.

To make an excuse for any variations and mistakes I make when writing the characters, in my Chapter fluff, each Marine writes the characters on his armor himself – since one’s calligraphy is a form of self expression, the Rising Sun Battle Brothers can show their devotion to the ideals of the Chapter in this way.

Samurai-themed Space Marine armies are nothing new, and I’ve seen lots of conversions that make them look more like they’re wearing samurai armor. Kromlech’s samurai heads and banners do look cool too. But for me, I like the subtlety of kanji characters. It makes the models stand out but doesn’t change their silouhette. Plus it’s less work!