[40K] Been Painting: Middlehammer Chaos Space Marine squad

I aten’t dead.

I’ve felt like it, particularly during mid-October when literary festival week caught me by the cobblers and dragged me round the back for a good seeing-to, but I have neither died nor abandoned the hobby. Even if I did have to cash out of Resurrection 2, to my chagrin and also that of my Wild Riders, who were quite looking forward to the outing.

After several fallow months I finally mustered the gusto to paint some moon men and, well, here are the results.

Four years to prime. Four months between batches. Four days to finish. They’re going to be Fourth Claw, and that’s an end on it. They are the 2002-ish plastic Chaos Space Marines I retrieved from Jess’ stash and rehabilitated with bits from all over the 40K range. While I have a lot to say in favour of solid single piece miniatures these days, I do appreciate the sheer range of interchangeable parts offered during this range. Their poses are not as infinite as all that – there’s not a great range of things you can do with them before they start looking a bit gormless, and we’ve all seen miniatures assembled with more enthusiasm than anatomical know-how in our time – but the variety of components I was able to use on these with minimal fine motor control involved makes those poses pop. Perhaps a close up or two to illustrate the point.

The relatively plain front and centre plasma gunner has parts from, let’s see now: Khorne Berserker legs, Iron Hands and Mark III arms, Mark III plasma gun, Possessed shoulderpads, Forge World head and vanilla Chaos Space Marine backpack. Not sure about the chest plate, it’s quite possibly off the Vehicle sprue. Not an outlandishly posed or painted figure but has a lot going on, in a quiet sort of way.

The Aspiring Champions, of course, are a bit more extravagant.

I personally subscribe to a “they may not believe in Chaos, but Chaos believes in them” approach to the Night Lords, which permits me to use some of the more grobbly nobbly daemon bits off the sprues and not feel like I’ve somehow betrayed my Legion. I try to walk back the more extreme “full Chaos” units like Possessed, blending in some more mundane bits to ground them a little more.

This squad, I think, have been around the block a few times. Marooned, perhaps, in some backwater warzone or derelict spaceship; the survivors have been reduced to augmetics to replace missing limbs, endured mutation over amputation, and generally done the best they can with a bad lot. They are probably travelling companions to Hexander, my Sorcerer from the aesthetically compatible 2008 plastic kit; I like to associate kits in my mind like this as it groups together models that don’t quite match up in scale or style and makes something productive out of the visual discord.

With these done I am free to assemble a few more at the front end of the queue. A reasonable person might start putting together plastic infantry from the contemporary range, which were purchased earlier this year. A person like me, with a birthday on the horizon, might instead acquire some new Raptors to round out their squads with the appropriate members of the Ablative Brotherhood (the previous owner of my squads went large on special weapons, apparently deciding that the Codex was for suckers). In any case, the Possessed are also primed and have been waiting longest, so it’s them next.

When, I cannot say. This will definitely be the last army I paint – with both arthritis and tendonitis working against me, I am simply no longer capable of painting in volume or at speed. Five models in two leisurely days is an accomplishment in the circumstances, but to someone who normally sits down after breakfast, paints till teatime, and gets the project done come what may, it’s a bit of a comedown. I am no longer the man who can crank out twenty Skeletons in a day and I just have to accept that.

All the more reason to take my time with these and make sure they look as good as I can manage. They don’t quite meet the heights of my best Warmachine-era paint jobs, but they are head and shoulders above the quick and dirty Wood Elves and experimental, “maybe not like this” Orks I did earlier this year, and that’ll do.

[Been Painting] Night Lords Kill Team (1/2)

Because the weekend before a WFB tournament is the BEST moment to get the 40K brain worms.

It started innocently enough. Wrapping up my entry to the Old World Army Challenge got me thinking about Orks. That got me writing a retrospective on my previous attempts at an Ork army. That got me thinking about all the Ork conversions for which I’ve had ideas for years and years, and maybe doing a little army to host them all…

… except, of course, that it’s Orks, and all the cool tank conversions and economical “stick the spare arms on Kromlech bodies” scams in the world can’t disguise that it’s mobs of thirty walking wound counters who think vets and bovva boots are enough to keep their entrails from becoming extrails when boltguns are on the line. (And anyway, the Ork Boyz whose spare arms would have been the keystone of my Kromlech-based economy drive are about to be booted from the range anyway.)

Thus frustrated, I loaded up Dawn Of War II: Retribution in an attempt to excise the Orkoid impulse from my brain. Which reminded me how great Chaos Rising had been. Which reminded me that I had a whole Chaos Space Marine army hanging around, stalled out for the best part of four years, three squads and a Sorcerer primed and ready to paint.

Then things started to escalate. In chatterings with Mr. Ængle and Mr. Steven it became clear that actual games of third and second edition 40K could be in the offing. A look at the available fixed-pose modern plastic Chaos Space Marines suggested that judicious eBaying would build me a bigger pool of bodies. Enough for a ten man squad, a five man squad and a four man retinue, as well as a Chaos Lieutenant if I repurposed Obsidian Mallet McBovril or whatever his name is from Black Crusade. And there’s a version of the infamous 3.5 edition Codex on Battlescribe.

And, er, now I have a 1000 point Chaos Space Marine army in various stages of done. The above are the first “new” models to be completed. The full story of their acquisition isn’t really germane here, but you can find out more there. I’m doing a “five in, five out” thing where I have to get the primed models done before I can build any new ones, and likewise have to paint up my Sorcerer before I start on my Lieutenant.

For the sake of reference, I’m going to document the method I use on my Night Lords here as well as adding it to the army summary:

  • primer: grey gesso
  • trim and cloth and skin: wash: thinned down Dark Flesh (Vallejo)
  • trim: drybrush: Solid Gold (P3)
  • guns and pipes and worky bits: drybrush: Cold Steel (P3)
  • trim: wash: Seraphim Sepia (Citadel)
  • guns and pipes and worky bits: wash: Nuln Oil (Citadel)
  • plate: tWo ThIn cOAtS: Stormy Blue (Vallejo)
  • cloth: highlight: Sanguine Base (P3)
  • skin: thin coat: Ryn Flesh (P3)
  • bone / plasma / spooky Chaos bits: thin coat: White Scar (Citadel)
  • skin and plate and bone: wash: Drakenhof Nightshade (Citadel)
  • spooky Chaos bits: wash: Nighthaunt Gloom (Citadel)
  • bone: second thin coat: White Scar (Citadel)
  • flesh: second thin coat: Ryn Flesh (P3)
  • base: Astrogranite Debris (Citadel)
  • base: Drakenhof Nightshade (Citadel)
  • base: Valhallan Blizzard (Citadel)

I find the gesso primer much easier to work with than any amount of spray paint, because I can’t aim for shite and also live in a tiny house with no real outside space. A nice mid grey with plenty of tooth is dark enough for the metallics to settle well on, but doesn’t render the other colours too drab.

I generally use Vallejo paints for anything that needs a thin coat or a bit of finesse, P3 when I want a nice strong colour for little effort, and Citadel for anything technical (they still make the best washes and effects on the market, for my money). I would use Citadel Shining Gold for the trim, but after 25 years my pot is almost out and I’m saving it for Vampire Counts where I want to colour match.

They will get transfers eventually, but I’m not prepared to mess around with those in hot weather when my skin is greasy and my temper short. Transfers are not something I’ve historically messed with and I only have so many on this single Horus Heresy sheet what I own – I’m not taking risks with them.

All of this is about as much effort as I’m prepared to make on a miniature. I can do five of these in two days and I tend to get the shakes somewhere in the middle of the plate stage. I am, however, quite pleased with the results. These models don’t all have as much obnoxious trim as the later Chaos range (probably because a lot of the bits are from Iron Hands or Heresy era kits) and have come out looking a little plainer, but I think that works for a team of operatives who’ve been out fighting the Long War forever and a day – hence designating them a go-to Kill Team who may eventually be rotated out of the lines as new models join the army.

I’m also working on the Eye of the Warmaster, my Sorcerer, although I’m not entirely pleased with him yet. That black undercoat has really done the drabs on him and I suspect I’ll need to give the gold a nice strong highlight to put some pop back into him. I may also flip the base colours around so there’s something nice and pale directly under his feet: at the moment he’s one big dark-n-boring blob. The final option is giving up on the “token member of the Black Legion” conceit I originally had in mind, and just painting him up as a goddamn Night Lord. Or Thousand Son. He does look quite… Tzeentchy.

I’m open to suggestions, if you have any.

[Been Painting] A Pale Rose, a Reference, and a Large Arboreal Friend

Well, I did it!

Hot off the heels of OWAC IV, my second army what I dun painted in the last six months.

With one weekend to go until Resurrection I have slapped some paint on every member of the Deadwood Covenant, or at least enough of them to make a 2000 point army.

Kinband of the Pale Rose: 20 Eternal Guard

These were a bit of a bugaboo, which I actively avoided doing anything about for oh, at least a fortnight. I’m still not Sure about them as models, these Oathmark Elf Infantry. They look a bit too High Elven for me, even with only one helmet in the unit. A lot of their faces have blobbled a bit, the Technique having failed me, and they badly need some differentiation in hair colour. But they are three-colours-done and I can take them to a tournament and that’s what I set out to achieve.

“I’m Gwydion…”
“… and I’m the Druid.”

Much happier with these two. While Gwydion is every bit as heroic scale as I’d feared, he IS the last unbargained scion of his line and can afford to be a bit larger than life. He is a hero, after all: the point around which the Asrai of Deadwood rally.

The Druid, meanwhile, represents something of an evaporation of gumption on my part. I’d intended to go without Lords, but in need of Dispel dice, better Leadership, and options in the magic department not dependent on trees, I caved and sought out a Spellweaver. The prospect of playing fifth edition, and thus securing access to High Magic, was merely gravy.

Uchelwydd…

This was… bigger than my usual figure. I tried a few things to add textural variety, a bit of Typhus Corrosion blended in here and there, the deeper blue showing underneath the major logs. I also built the base up with ye olde Milliput so his feet had something to anchor into, rather than just the little points of contact with his fetching high heels. If that doesn’t work, it’s time for MAGNETS, but I’m hoping they won’t be necessary.

[40K] To All The Orks Wot I Have Left Behind

Waaagh It All Began

Second edition 40K is technically where I came in.

I didn’t really play properly – I must have set up and played the Battle for Armageddon scenarios (compressed onto a barely 3′ by 2′ folding table) half a dozen times in my grandparents’ house, but other than that I think I played two chaotic games against other eleven year olds who had even less grasp of the rules than I did and hadn’t even bothered with “army lists” or “staying within one Codex”.

SOMETHING about it had me by the throat, though. I think it was the sheer density of the thing: the rich, vibrant, busy art style; the encyclopaedic Wargear and Codex Imperialis books alongside the rules; the short fiction, some of it really haunting in how it portrayed the futility of life in the forty-first millennium (‘Griznak at the Bridge’ gave an Ork a kind of self-doubting, self-aware tragedy you’d never see in today’s tie-ins, and ‘Dark Communion’ is still the essence of Chaos for me) all the damn cards and templates, some of them for strange weapons I would never see fired in anger. And dear god, some of those rules were complex, some of that art was grim!

I know there was hue and cry on the early-days domestic Internet about GW “dumbing down for the kids” with the rise of the Kirby era box sets (my first Internet fight was with one Christopher Valera over his Burger Workshop pastiche, when I was one of those very kids and defending the space opera genre with intensity only the barely pubescent can muster – I doubt he remembers, and I would prefer not to). Having looked from third edition WFB to fourth I can see where that came from, but I’m not sure how it sits with 40K. Second edition 40K was a complicated beast for an eleven year old to grasp, and artwork like the Pontifex Maximus (which still gives me the conniptions to this day!) still made it in.

I played Necromunda, though, and found the rules (especially hand to hand combat – sweet mercy, what a mess that was!) much more accessible when single models were targeting single models. I suppose that’s what I really remember second edition as, in retrospect: rules for individuals, creaking and groaning as whole squads were forced through them. It took another go around for 40K’s developers to work out how it needed to be more than Fantasy In Space: the increased complexity of movement/placement, and the varied weapon loadouts in squads, were accommodated by knocking out the modifiers and conditions that applied much more smoothly to a regiment.

But all of this is just preamble. You see: I collected Orks. They were also in the box and Adrian Wood’s piece about his own army was in my first ever White Dwarf and look, Space Marines just seemed boring. The Orks were in this for a good time, a bunch of lads doing their best in a hostile universe. They had Gretchin with silly names, they had the comedy voices, they had that cool as shit Dreadnought with the four arms. And nobody wanted all of theirs so I ended up with a lot of extra figures.

No photos of that Goff army survive. This was 1996, and nobody was about to waste physical film on taking (bad) photographs of toys.

Continue reading “[40K] To All The Orks Wot I Have Left Behind”

[Been Painting] The Court of the Crag (2/2)

Told you there’d be more down the line.

First up, baby’s first Special choice: some Tree-Kin, formerly known as Spite-Revenants.

I’m not entirely sure about these. They’re a little bit too blue, I think, and I don’t particularly trust the only white paint I have to hand as a highlight or next layer. But anything else I do with them has come out looking a bit naff, so I’m going to call them done until an idea presents itself.

Their completion gives me the full 1000 points I need to finish The Maven & The Witch, so all being well expect a wrap up on that this time next week.

I am pretty sure of Prince Hywel of the Crag. Even if each successive photo highlighted another thing that needed tweaking, after the fourth I am very satisfied indeed. Made a bit more of an effort on him, introducing a little bone and a platinum highlight here and there. Nothing that breaks the palette, just… nudging it a little.

In game terms, he’s an Alter Noble or Highborn; great weapon, “light armour and shield” (half-oaken body and a parrying stance), Glamourweave and the Helm of the Hunt.

I hadn’t planned on a Lord choice, but  I want to give myself the option. Having signed up for Warhammer: Resurrection (two day event to be held in the summer, lockdowns permitting), and pledged the Wood Elves to the cause, I shall have to get some test games in and see how the No Lords policy holds up.