Thursday 31 October 2013

'nids part 106 - Scratchbuilt Tyranid Capillary Towers

Happy Hallowe'en and here's to my mojo! Yeah baby I've turned a little corner on this, although I may stall progress as I've got Hallowe'en tonight and Blog Wars at the weekend which always results in post tournament apathy. Anyway, as you can see I cut me a load of pop bottle ends and even managed a shandy and a Sprite bottle for a bit of clarity.

Here are my 6 chimney spines made from foamboard that the pop bottle plates will be attached to. The largest is the same height as the tallest spine on my Bastion, the other is about 5cm shorter and the remaining four 5cm shorter still.

It actually took me a long time to get here. I'd sourced some Plywood discs for bases, experimented with some cork ones but noticed they were just slightly thicker and I wanted consistency. Beveled all the edges with my Dremel-alike, hence the scorched edges. Before I started the chimneys I'd already spent about 3 hours, cutting the pop bottles foamboard, and discs.

 The tallest chimney has 5 chitin plates made from the pop bottle ends, the second tallest has 4 plates and the smaller ones 3. That will be 21 plates in all compared with the Bastions 20, of which these will probably be all the same thickness as the bigger plates. Considering the smaller plates on the Bastion can be half the thickness I may well be able to start estimating how long this will take to make, should I feel masochistic enough...!

 Each plate is pinned to the foamcard and then I used masking tape to try and hold all the pieces together. It doesn't matter too much what they look like, I'll be filling the insides in a bit with tissue paper or tin foil and then coating the entire chimney with adhesive tile grout, like I did with the Bastion.


The grout makes the entire structure stronger, then the bottle plastic won't flex as much when I apply Milliput or air drying clay. I'll sand it back so it has a consistent surface but still sufficient enough to act as a 'key' to the sculpted surface material.


Lastly I hot glued some foamboard strips either side of the chimney spine just for added support at the base. They may not need it when all the sculpting material and 'crater ruptures' are added but I thought I'd build it up just in case. This was another 1.5 to 2 hours, so I'm on about 5 hours work so far.

So, next up a bit of filling the interior of the chitin plates so they're more substantial and I'm not wasting sculpting materials.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Terrain is everything - White Dwarf Warhammer Fantasy Barn

Another one of the gems from my treasure trove of lost White Dwarfs. This was one of the first modelling workshops that I can recall being in the magazine but more importantly was the first tutorial that I followed. I actually made this barn, I'm not sure if I made the optional 'lean to' but I did make the barn [you can even see the pin pricks in the template where I sued it to mark the foamboard].

For some reason I based it on a very thin piece of card, something no thicker than an expanding card folder, it was nonsense. Then I made the mistake of cutting the card too close to the barn in a number of places.

But the barn was complete and painted, the roof too. Not sure where it ended up, perhaps I left it in the loft at my parents. Anyway, it's super quick to do and the balsa wood panels make a really cool finish even without any effort to distress them. I'd recommend giving it a go if you're after Warhammer terrain. The link is below.


Sunday 27 October 2013

EPIC! Battle Report - Horus Heresy Skirmish

A week or so ago I saw an ebay bargain to die for. A near complete set of 1st Edition Epic Space Marine for £28 Buy it Now! I couldn't believe it, more importantly I could justify getting it, not with a number of gaming purchases already made and a new tyre for the Micra due. But PeteB can see a bargain and snapped it up and he got even more than he bargained for with a bundle of extra miniatures - Orks, their battlewagons and the Space Marines that included bikes, Land Speeders, Terminators, Assault and Devastator units. I think he'd probably recoup a third of his outlay by selling the Orks but we'll see.

With a new game in hand we decided to have a knockaround, we'd spent 2 hours just gassing about the game and I showed off my old copy of Rogue Trader and we giggled. Anyway, we went simple, a Warlord and Warhound each [I swapped around the weapons so PeteB had the plasma and I had the las so we could experience the other side. 3 Barrels on each and Chainfists I also had a Multi-launcher and PeteB had and auto-cannon]. We also had 6 Land Raiders each, and two stand of Devastators, Tactical and Assault troops.

This is after turn 1 [although my Warhound needs to move]. I was trying to flank with my Land Raiders, it's worked on the left but the right is very exposed.

My assault marines jump behind the Warhound.

More of PeteB's infantry disembark and the Land Raiders position to shoot.

His Warhound goes to stomp on the Assault Squad, missing one.

But then as he passes he uses his head mounted Heavy Bolter and Plasma Gun to kill one the other.

Devastator and Tactical squads occupy the buildings.

I manage to blow the Auto cannon off his Warlord Titan with my own.

The building occupied by the Tactical squad takes two damage from my Land Raiders. 

The building PeteB's Warlord was taking cover from is destroyed leaving it exposed.

But his Titan manages to get a Plasma Cannon shot on the Warhound and two Land Raiders.

Leaving the Warhound to stand above the molten slag of the Raiders.

By this time it was getting late, I'm not sure who was winning and didn't really care to be honest. We'd had some real fun and it was a completely different tactical game. It eventually became apparent PeteB had missed the bit where I said all the weapons on the Titan had 3 barrels except the Plasma Cannon. He'd been firing only one shot whit his Heavy Plasma Gun. The Auto Cannon had gone quite early so it wasn't too bad but still, a fair few Land Raiders may have been destroyed other wise.

We're going to be playing this again next week but I'll be bringing my 2nd Edition rules and Expansion so we can take some more interesting models and see what does what.

Friday 25 October 2013

3 up - safe!

Another year under the belt and the blog is now 3! How did that happen? Without a doubt this has been the most successful yet, the blog goes from strength to strength, in no small part thanks to the continued support of the readers, followers and commenters. Thank you one and all for making this blog have a purpose.

Admittedly I've had a fair amount of decent content to share, mainly my Tyranid Bastion which managed to win best Fortification in it's first outing at Warhammer World. That trip in itself was the biggest success ever. Through my efforts to spread the word on various forums I answered a call from a complete stranger to pair up at Warhammer World. Not only did I take the Best Fortification prize, got nominated alongside my Battle Brother Dan for best army but we won all three games and game 2nd overall in 68 pairs. Best of all though it made me realise that there are great people out there and we all share a common interest and even if you've never met someone before you can have some really good fun thanks to the hobby.

I also came second in a local tournament and came away with my first tournament winnings - in cash [vouchers]! Paints too for best painted army. And lets not forget me and my buddies travelling for Throne of Skulls. Nor my win for Armies on Parade or even our Apocalypse battle! I'm also going to round out the year with another day tournament - Blog Wars 6, so that should be fun.

Granted the blog has suffered a little over the last month or but 'content is king' and my 'mojo issues' has meant a poor harvest for content. I'm currently beset by a number of more appealing distractions but I do have some great things planned so when I start back into it there's going to be some really cool stuff to share. As I approach two big milestones - 200 followers and 300,000 page hits I need to make sure I'm providing something worthy of the faith entrusted to date. That adds a certain amount of pressure and we know there's absolutely no point feeling uncomfortable blogging, afterall it should be fun or you shouldn't do it. But I've been here numerous times, short on content and with lacking in motivation and every time I've bounced back.

In the mean time remember I am open to any suggestions you may have, for the content you like most or content you'd like to see. Additionally I'm still on the lookout for other new blogs to share, I've a couple of beauties I've found that I know you'll love. Equally anyone wishing to share their efforts with my STCs or even show my their battle reports with my wound markers in use I'd love to see them. Here's to another 3 years!

Wednesday 23 October 2013

ebay sales I don't regret - Battle for Macragge

I recently had the fortune to secure a near complete Battle for Macragge on ebay for a little over £14 all in! I never got 4th edition, actually I only ever got Rogue Trader and I think I was hobby sober shortly after 2nd came out, so it's nice to have something to close the gap.  

The thing that impresses me is there is terrain and having skimmed through the rule book the terrain features in all of the scenarios. Sure there are less figures than in the current box set but I think that's a shame. I think a big regret is the lost opportunity GW had to bundle a terrain mat in their box like they did with Dreadfleet.

For my £14 I got the terrain, the blast templates, dice and even transfers as well as the rule book.

I got all 10 Termagants [always handy] and five of the Genestealers and one old skool original Space Hulk stealer to make the 6th. It also had the hive nodes and spores mines too. I'm definitely going to make some more Ymgarls just for variety but these were just bonus items for me. I wanted Tyranids for sure, but I promised myself I should be purchasing Marines.

And here's ten of them, the only problem is the pale grey guy on the bottom right, who is a 2nd Edition kitbash. Still I had a spare Marine come with the Land Speeder I also got off ebay recently. So this diminutive marine will be given to my youngest to paint. My only other opinion of note is that the moulding on them is quite bad in places with mis-register in the two halves. It shows how much their plastics have improved since 4th. Still, the sergeant is an awesome model and I look forward to adding some bits to make them less generic.

I also got the Aquila pilot, his teleport homer which is handy, the fuel cell and three of the four force field generators. All in all, £14 is an absolute steal for everything and I may well keep an eye out for this sort of collection again in the future. I don't think I'll get a bargain like this again but it's good to keep checking.

Anyway, I have plans for some of these items, the Tyranids in particular. I don't want to be purchasing anymore nids but if I can pick some up for buttons then I will. We'll see what I can add to this in the next few months, it's a fun idea I have ;)

Monday 21 October 2013

Oi, VIV!

I promised to share the results of painting my brothers lizard vivarium. He started this back in May when I started my Tyranid Bastion and come a long way since then.

There's some useful hobby skills here for terrain builders. Numerous successive coats of adhesive tile grout mixed with acrylic paints has given a rock hard finish. I went over it a black wash and then I've dune successive lighter drybrushes to bring out the textures my brother carved into the foam.

Also I put in the 'sky' and most of the 'clouds' are there to hide where the paint was too thin!

Unfortunately he's had a bit of a setback since these pictures. The matt floor varnish recommended to protect the paintwork and surface has had a reaction, the result is not unlike the frosting problem I've had with Purity Seal. He followed the directions to thin the varnish down and it's painted on, not sprayed and the end result looks like the sugar coating you get on Frosties!

We're not sure how to fix this, I don't know whether its, start from scratch or just cover the areas of frosting, although they're widespread and it'll be a nightmare to blend that back in. It's a big problem and I feel his pain. Hopefully the forums he goes on may have experienced this same problem and have a solution.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Golden Demon Awards 1991 and the origins of Ferron Proxima

A long while back I mentioned that I'd rediscovered a number of lost White Dwarf's going back decades. My Dad had helped me root out some stuff in the lost. It was a real treasure trove of stuff I new would be cool to share but never actually got round to it and now I wish I'd at least scanned them in so my blogging would be easier now I'm short on content. Anyway, there's a link to scanned copies of this Golden Demon awards 91, I went to this one, my parents took the caravan to Worksop and then deposited in Derby on the day and I trundled round getting so excited. I got Jes Goodwin to illustrate in my White Dwarf the banner symbol that denotes a Vibro-Cannon on an Eldar Phantom Titan [it was never included in the concept sketches and sadly I can't find that copy].

I also took part in the madness of the 'crazy prices' in the sale, I think that picture makes it easier to imagine the mayhem, particularly with all those blister pack racks and the staff above, the amount of packs that were mysteriously being removed from the bottom of the rack while people were reaching up to pay at the top. I saw it with my own eyes, goodness know how much stock was liberated! But the most important thing is the blasted Chaos Terrain of Skull Castle [what else would it be called?]

And here you can see the board that inspired me to go Red Planet decades later. Hopefully you can make out some white areas in the hills and on the field too - the mounds of bleached skeletons and rough area terrain that so captivated my attention. Hell it must have been good because all those 90's shell suits, garish colours and ridiculous haircuts are very distracting now!

Anyway, if you want to see the hi-res scans they're here:

Thursday 17 October 2013

'The Hobby Matrix' or 'How to beat your hobby slump' or 'Getting your hobby Mojo back'

The 'hobby matix' is a concept I've been mulling over for quite a while. Its a tool for understanding how you prioritise aspects of the hobby and by understanding what gets you going when you feel de-motivated or have lost your mojo then you can review your matrix and hopefully find some spark to set you off again. It's funny though that I finally write this piece just as my own mojo is suffering but therein lies one of the princeps of how the matrix works - when you cannot find motivation for one aspect to the hobby then switch to another. Before we get into it though understand there's nothing scientific about this, I've just made it up so I can try to analyse whats going on when nothing is going on, but it could also help in time managing your hobby activities too.

So the first step is to assess what you enjoy most about the hobby, to list each aspect and rate from 1-10 how important it is and how much you enjoy it, these are your hobby priorities. I think most people would have the following 4:
  • painting
  • modelling
  • terrain
  • gaming
That's about as simple as it gets but you may even have more priorities and these could be:
  • blogging
  • forums
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials]
If you don't do any of these things you could omit them completely from your priority list or you could add them as zero areas, aspects that you don't participate in but are part of the hobby. The point being that just because you don't have them as a priority doesn't mean they don't exist and by acknowledging them you can always dip into that acticivity and who knows? that may be the spark to rekindle your mojo. Even the smallest spark can start a fire and that's the primary reason for doing this.

So with your priorities rated you end up with a table like this [although a simple list could equally suffice]:

Hobby Priorities (out of 10)

Or if your a visual person a hobby matrix that looks like this:

or this:

However, I see the matrix as a fluid beast, whereas the priority table is your general fixed point - your baseline to judge the matrix.

For instance I believe my hobby priorities would look something like this as a list:
  • painting - 7
  • modelling - 7
  • terrain - 9
  • gaming - 8
  • blogging - 6
  • forums - 9
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials] - 3
and my baseline matrix would be this:
But I can tell you now that's not where my mojo is currently focussed. I like most of those activities but you'd be hard pressed to correleate the quantity of my blog posts with those priorities. I find painting quite tedious in some respects but it's a necessity and can get decent results, hence why it features so much on the blog but really only rates 7/10. Meanwhile, I love doing terrain, I can visualise and think about terrain more than anything, but reality means it sits way down on my list of things to do [yeah that's common with everyone right!]. Therefore it's a priority of 9 but when we look at my current matrix it would look more like this:
And this illustrates that your priorities are not always what you prioritise, because you end up prioritising the necessities. Having a fully painted army is a necessity. I need my Dark Angels done so I can stop focussing on the nids and fulfill that goal of painting them. Of course necessities turn up and shift and change and that is evidenced by my 'to do list' being added and amended throughout the year.

Of course the next step to seeing your hobby in chart from and recognising where your priorities lie is to then allocate appropriate effort to those things you are motivated to do. That can be done with a pie- chart of my baseline matrix:
And then once that's figured out you can then factor in your hobby time to the situation in that if you've two hours of hobby time then the breakdown of what your doing in that time could be:
  • painting - 16.8 minutes
  • modelling - 16.8 minutes
  • terrain - 21.6 minutes
  • gaming - 19.2 minutes
  • blogging - 14.4 minutes
  • forums - 21.6 minutes
  • youtube watching [battle reports, painting tutorials] - 7.2 minutes
Which is wholly impractical that you could try and fit a 20 minute game into those two hours, or that once you've started watching one 10 minute painting tutorial you would stop 7.2 minutes into it because you had 14.4 minutes of blogging to do. But if you were to anally record what you were spending your hobby time doing you could then see if ti correlated with what you thought you should be doing.

However, I think I've definitely discovered something over my time blogging these last [nearly] 3 years and that's you always need to 'go with the flow' whatever is enjoyable at this moment in time then do that. The hobby matrix is really just a last resort exercise, a way to formalise what you like and by accepting those interests you can forcibly kickstart your mojo, but in a direction you already know it wants to go - trying to put a round peg in a round hole, instead of a square peg!

One last option is at least if you have that list you can always dice off what you're going to do with your hobby time!

But where does that lead me and my situation? Well, worrying about my lack of mojo seems to have overshadowed the fact I've recently been brimming with excitement and passion to do print and play terrain. I found my first set of efforts extremely rewarding and I know that for a short time at least I will get a lot of it. Unfortunately I can foresee a point where thats going to prove less rewarding. Investing time that should be spent on things that 'need' to be done should be my real world priority, which goes back to what I was saying about painting not being a priority but sitting high in my matrix. In the eman time though I'm enjoying it and therefore I may well be sharing some of the progress on the blog as I would any other project, as opposed to my usual terrain posting which is 'hey look what I've just completed'.
Best music video of all time!
I've also been helping my brother paint his lizard vivarium so although that's not 40k and actually feels a little pressured - it needs to be done this week as his shift pattern changes next week and I won't be able to do it, it's no different from when I could foresee how long it would take to make my Tyranid Bastion but I know that the end result will be equally impressive. So I may share some pics of that too in due course.

So feel free to comment below if you think this is all a load of pseudo-science claptrap, but in the world of 40k I think it makes certain sense, you really need to feed and treat your own 'machine spirit' and then it'll repay with mojo.