Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Squaduary Challenge - Week 3 Progress


Nothing like a dark, moody, shot to make a bunch of half painted figures look half reasonable. This week I've been base coating another 5 guys ready for the final work and detailing during the final week of Squaduary. I've been massively distracted by a sudden need to create an entire coven of Dark  Eldar (those few Wracks have caused some kind of unstoppable epiphany!) so I'm hanging on in there with this project; bitterly fighting crazed obsession to the end.

The figures look great though - some really nice Anvil parts are doing most of the work for me for sure.



A veritable panorama of progress...

Monday, 20 February 2017

Texture Paints - Valhallan Blizzard Review



Recently, in an effort to give some bases a little more interest, I bought a pot of Games Workshop's Valhallan Blizzard. This stuff is specially formulated to give a snow effect to the top of your bases. I was interested to see what could be achieved, as it's a relatively easy step that has the potential to add a lot of impact to an otherwise bland base. I'm using my recently completed Wrack as an example miniature for this review.

With the intro out of the way, lets take a closer look at the product.


Ease of Application

This stuff is really thick. I know they say that the new texture paints can be applied with a brush, but in this case only quite a stiff bristled one. That said, there's a bit of leeway in the drying time, so you get plenty of time to adjust it on the model and it spreads ok. It doesn't take long to apply and overall has a satisfying effect for the amount of time it takes.

After a bit of experimentation, I found that digging a bit out of the pot on a sculpting tool worked well, and that once I'd separated it out from the whole it was easier to manipulate with a brush.

Drying Time

Like I mentioned above, it does take a few minutes to cure, and even then I think it takes longer to fully harden. This helps a bit actually as it gives you some extra time to adjust it and as the effect is a finishing touch for bases, there's no problems with letting them sit on the side while the snow cures.

Durability

I found that the snow could sometimes come off on my finger when handling the base (I specifically handled the snow directly to test it). The majority of it stayed on there and I think it would be pretty hard to shift, but one or 2 tiny grains came off the top of some of the "heaps" when handling and I could see it wearing a bit in the long-term. To combat this I gave it a quick coat with some PVA to seal it; which didn't seem to do any harm to the aesthetic qualities, so I'd probably recommend it, especially for models that will see a lot of play.

Look

Lumpy, snowy, check out the pictures for more. In person, I was happy with the effect and it combines well with a painted base to add a nice finishing touch. I added an extra layer of gloss varnish to mine in the end (not too thickly) to add a bit of wet shine to it. I don't think it's necessary though, and its really a matter of preference and what you're going for.

What I particularly liked was that it naturally makes small clumps that look very realistic when you apply it to a base; like little remnants of melting snow. It's a nice effect that gives a strong finish.

Just for fun, I combined in a few blood effects too!

Cost

At the time of writing, it's being marketed at £4.55 a pot (24ml). I think that whether you consider that a good deal or not probably depends on your approach. For me, I wanted to add a dash of snow to a few bases; meaning  it would go a long way. If you were looking to completely cover your bases, or to do scenery, you might want to look at other options as I could see you might end up getting through a lot of pots!

Conclusion


A good product, but one that needs a bit of thought and TLC to reach its full potential. Great fun though and well worth a shot if you're looking to spice up some bland bases. If I was rating it out of 10, I'd probably say 7/10. It looks good, but could be a bit more durable, although this can be treated and it isn't likely to come off easily. I also think that it could be a bit pricey for some uses; particularly scenery or application to larger bases and models. Well worth a punt though for anyone interested.

Shirtless Wrack says "it's cold out here, I need a nice cup of soup!"

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Dark Eldar Wracks - Part 2 - Test Mini

After wracking my brain for secret alien knowledge, I've completed the first test mini for my new Dark Eldar project; and what a mini it is!



If I do say so myself, I've really excelled myself here, and I couldn't be happier with how things turned out. It took ages though and I wouldn't be surprised if this single figure had taken 7-10 hours of work, especially if you include the building time. Well worth the effort though as far a I'm concerned as these are some seriously nice figures, with some incredibly fine detail.

I also tried out some of GW's Valhallan Blizzard texture paint on his base, which allowed me to create the snow. I plan to write a review of it soon, but for the moment suffice to say I think it works pretty well.


I'm so happy with the scheme, I'm thinking of entering the unit in a painting competition (although I've been thinking of entering a lot of things lately with Salute coming up and all). It just makes sense, as realistically there are much better single figure painters than me out there, but with units, I figure I'll stand a better chance.

I'd also like to try my hand at a few more Dark Eldar figures, but I need to take this one step at a time and not start buying bags of Raiders I'll never finish (especially at a predicted 40+ hours a vehicle in this scheme!). I guess we can say one thing for sure - painting and hobbying this intensely sure does give you value for money from a time spent vs. cost point of view.




Anyway, that about does it for now, let me know what you think below (and also don't forget to follow the blog if you don't already).

Until next time, Adios Amigos!



Friday, 17 February 2017

Dark Eldar Wracks

I'm literally wracked with guilt over this latest purchase .... (pauses of laughter.... no, ok). With that chronic joke out of the way, welcome to another bizarre side project.



I'd always loved the look of some of the Dark Eldar units, but particularly the Haemonculus related miniatures (these days we have the supplement Haemonculus Covens too for real fanatics!). Wracks have a really nice evil air about them and I'd be remiss in not mentioning that this is one of the best crafted and most detailed plastic kits I've ever seen. They're not cheap though at £22 for 5, but I really feel that the expense is worth it for miniatures of this quality.




The kit comes with a range of different options; plenty of fearsomely jagged cutting blades for the blood crazed masses to enjoy. You also get a full range of kit for the leader with Scissor Hands and Whips; plus a rather nice Venom Blade that I went with because it looked so cool. The only downside is that they all have their heads locked in a frontal position that didn't make them look too dynamic when I was posing them. To counter that, I cut two of them right at the top of the neck so I could turn their heads a bit. A little greenstuff in the gaps and hey presto; new poses.

I've started these as a bit of a fun modelling and painting challenge. I wracked my brain for inspiration (did you see what I did there?) and came up with a few ideas for the colour scheme and as I'm always looking to expand my horizons, I'll also be trying out a new technique or two,  so fingers crossed they work out (although if you look a bit lower down, you'll see an early first look at the scheme).




After getting the rest of the box built and suitably greenstuffed, I had a go at painting the first model up. He's still a work in progress and I'm trying to get a feel for the colours. At the moment, the only finished part is the high gloss red armour; although now that it's done I just hope the rest of the miniature can live up to it (well worth the 8 coats of paint it took to get that finish! ... unless we're counting undercoat in which case it's probably 11 or 12, what with the unintentional airbrush overspray)



Whether or not there'll be a whole army in a minute? I guess only time will tell. For the moment I'm just going to paint these up, and if that goes well maybe I'll add a Haemonculus or a few more bits to build a little kill team with.

Oh, and if you were expecting an update on Squaduary; I can only say that I've been distracted (luckily I was ahead of the game! but if this continues I'll be wracked with guilt for a second time!)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Anvil Industry - Regiments Review



Today, I'm reviewing the Regiments sets from Anvil Industry, so Imperial Guard players better be listening!

Introduction

Anvil are a small UK based miniatures company that make a range of resin wargaming miniatures. They have vast ranges of bits; heads, guns, combat weapons and many more interesting items in huge variety. They're made variously in scale for heroic "Exo Lords" (who may or may not resemble certain Marines from Space) and  regular human scale miniatures. They've recently produced their own game "Afterlife" too, which is a futuristic skirmish type affair, as well as these rather interesting Regiments kits.

The Regiments range are a set of modular infantry kits that are formed from resin. They offer a range of legs, torsos, arms, heads and weapons that can be combined in massive variety to make custom infantry squads. They also make heavy weapons teams and a range of officer parts and combat weapons are available. Anvil also have a kickstarter running for "Trench Fighters" currently that will add a large number of parts to the range including great-coats, more gas masks and all manner of cool bits.

You can really see the quality of the casting looking at the perfectly crisp hollow barrels on his weapon.

Why I'm Writing This...

At this point, you might ask what got me started on all of this business, well some of you may remember my recent article on Del'Ragio and the Desert Dogs. After reliving the magic and getting all nostalgic, I was stuck by a profound need to update them to my current standards. I really wanted to enjoy the process too and have a good old fashioned kit-bash-up, but also to start with some cool futuristic bits. After a bit of searching, Anvil were recommended, and well, the rest is history. As a spot of luck, it coincided nicely with Squaduary, so I had another excuse in the bag too!

As it was just a side project, I picked all of my favourite parts from the range. I wanted to go for a bulky armoured look. I went with Gothic Void Torsos, as I liked the gorget. Armoured arms and some Afterlife legs that weren't strictly part of the range, but were what I liked and handily Anvil let you pick them as an option (they did warn that the legs would take a bit of conversion, but I wasn't worried - It was just nice to be able to get everything I wanted). In the end, they didn't take a lot of work, But I think it might be a bit to do with the choice of Torso how well they fit.

A unit of fresh recruits; from a forge apparently located in hobby heaven!

Delivery

Receiving the package in the post, I was surprised how small it was. It seems Anvil use slim-line boxes to enable their stuff to be delivered through the letterbox. Worth mentioning for those who may be worried about delivery.

Customer Service at Anvil was also good - with free 1st class post on orders over £35, and only a day or two of processing time till my order was dispatched.

Resin Quality

One of the most surprising things for me was the quality of the resin; I'd heard it was good, but Anvil Industry may have the best resin in the business. As a long-time gamer, painter and man about town, I can honestly say that it rivals the quality of Forgeworld's stuff and may actually be better. The details are incredibly fine, but are all perfectly formed. I didn't see a single flaw, miscast or air bubble; which in 11 full resin miniatures is downright incredible. The details are so crisp too; with tiny vents, edges and points all perfectly formed. For a relatively small operation it really is jaw dropping quality and I can only recommend buying something cheap if you have any doubts so you can see for yourself.


Compatibility

I found that the resin Regiments parts are pretty compatible with normal 28mm heroic type human miniatures. By that  mean plastic Cadian parts, or a few bits I used from other kits of roughly similar scale. I even managed to fit a Space Marine flamer to one with only a minimum amount of work; which just goes to show how easily they fit into a 40k scale.

The Space Marine Flamer in question
 
The beret head is from some Tempestus Scions, but it fits just fine on an Afterlife body.
 
Size comparison with a dodgy converted Cadian I had about the place

Fitting

Perhaps due to the quality, I had no problems fitting parts - infact they lock together incredibly well. There's no warping or bending in the resin, its dreamy, like working with plastic.

Mold Lines

The other thing that struck me was the lack of mold-lines. the casts are very clean and take minimal effort to get ready for use. It sounds like a bit of a side-point, but considering that these are available as full units, it really is a strong selling point. Nobody would want to clean up 10 hairy resin figures, but Anvil's stuff handles more like plastic. A real pleasure to work with.

Pricing/Cost

Full regiments do cost more, but only about the same amount as most manufacturers; and you're getting a lot of customisation. The individual parts are really cheap though; with sets of 6 heads for only £3. If you were looking to spice up some units of Cadians, an investment of £20-£30 would probably outfit the whole force with fresh heads and accessories. Well worth a look if you want to do something interesting, or are looking to emulate one of the less well loved regiments (Chem Dogs I'm looking at you).


Ready for the battlefield? Come and get it Zombies!

Conclusion

Ultimately, it's all up to the design though and whether they appeal to you. Personally, I think it's a great range with a lot of cool parts and I'm very happy with the results I got. The quality is very high and it really isn't an exaggeration when I say it could be the best Resin on the market in terms of casting and detailing. Well worth a look for anyone looking for that extra punch in their army's aesthetic, or just some nice models in their own right. Full units can add up to be fairly expensive, but only about the same cost as any other resin miniatures. So if you like what you've seen from my test squad, why not check out Anvil for yourself, I can personally guarantee the casting quality is just as good as it looks in the pictures! (and basically the only bad thing I can think of to say is that I wish they were free! - although if anyone does want to give me any free models...).

I should probably note that I have no affiliation with Anvil in any way. and I didn't contact them to let them know I would be reviewing their products, so the quality of casts that I received is exactly what you'll get - with no special treatment. I'll add a link to Anvil below for anyone who is interested:

https://anvilindustry.co.uk/

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Squaduary Challenge - Week 2


Another week of progress and I've managed to get half of the guys finished. I know that the official Squaduary thing is to base coat all of the models this week, but I prefer working in smaller groups till completion. This update is mostly pictures, so try not to be too disappointed by the lack of superfluous witty banter.


I'm happy with how they look as a squad. With any luck, I hope to finish the other 5 next week and then maybe do some bonus items or even a game in the last week!





I'm not sure why, but Captain Rikeroni kind of ended up looking like Big Boss' twin brother... 




A tide of zombies is already gathering to consume the still warm flesh of the new Del'Ragians. I guess some things never change.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Squaduary Challenge - Painting Test Mini



Surging forwards; I've finished the first test miniature. The colour scheme turned out to be more of a hassle than I had originally thought it would be. They were going to be blue to match the original Desert Dogs, but when I tried it they just didn't look right and half way through the test piece I started over. Luckily there were some white ones in the original force from 10 years ago; giving me the opportunity to reassess the colours and change plans half way through.

I've tried to really weather him and get a battered look; like they're fighting in an arid wasteland in the middle of a dust storm. It was kind of the idea anyway, but it is fun to have an image in mind sometimes. It can really inspire you and can bring up ideas that you probably wouldn't think of without that cinematic flash of inspiration.



 An example of this is how I used a bit of verdigris on the brass (same technique as I used on that Anime Figure); a colour I matched with green on the base to get some interest in there and inject a bit of colour into the scheme.



Ah, the originals. At the time they were revolutionary, not so much these days. The comparison is pretty funny though.

Like my Genestealer Cult (link to some pictures of the troops); I planned the painting process to allow for batching and to get in different textures and looks without having to spend too much time per model. These guys are bound for the tabletop, not a showcase, so I'm not going to be too precious with their paint as they'll see a lot of handling.

Anyway, I hope people like the scheme; here's hoping the rest go as smoothly. On a side note, I have problems capturing white with my camera. It seems to reflect the light back at the lens or something and the pictures aren't as good as they could be, but I think it'll be better when I have a few more of them in the shot!