MOTB: Stone Guardians

SKELETON! WARRIORS!

A while ago I become obsessed with the Yu’Vath – a long-dead Chaos-worshipping alien empire with a penchant for corruption, sorcery, and warp-based technology. They all got bumped off (supposedly…) a few thousand years ago, their empire long in decline as they had fallen to the worst of their perversions and excesses.

The only thing that remains of them are their undiscovered facilities, filled with strange technology and powerful guardians animated by warp-sorcery. The perfect Cthulhu/Necromantic crossover that can spook a 40k RPG group that thinks they’ve seen all the universe has to offer!

They originally appeared in the Rogue Trader RPGs, and I was so hooked by a particular enemy that I knew I had to assemble them. That enemy has yet to surface in any of my photos, but what I did end up with was a box of skeletons that was just begging to be turned into skeleton warriors.

Box o’ bones

I ordered a wholesale lot of cheap plastic skeletons, which came to less than a fiver including shipping (2017 was a wild time).

They came in this charming box of pepper sachets, which excitingly enough, still contained a single sachet.

Holy moly that was a lot of skeletons. It was at this point that the thought struck me to make more than one project out of these lads – even the most elaborate construction wouldn’t use up as many skeletons as there were here.

“Why not a bunch of giant skeletons?” asked my professional degree-worthy creative genius.

Building a bunch of giant skeletons

It wasn’t obvious from the pictures when I ordered them, but these skeletons are big lads. They’re easily 54mm scale rather than the traditional 28/32mm of regular 40k miniatures, which was a pleasant surprise. It meant they were the perfect scale for any skeletal Inquisitor shenanigans.

I was impressed at the variety of poses too, and despite them being obviously very goofy, I could have a variety of weapons and armour to keep any encounters interesting.

At the time I didn’t have enough round 40mm bases to mount them on, but I had loads of square bases from my time with Warhammer Fantasy in the early noughties. A big square base inset with a smaller one gave the perfect statue plinth look, and when attached at a jaunty angle, the skeletons looked like they were stepping off the plinth and coming to life, Jason and the Argonauts-style.

It has to be said that these are probably the worst miniatures I have ever worked with. Obviously I’m getting exactly what I paid for, but I’m still allowed to be mad.

They were covered in mould lines and connection points, and the plastic was some awful cheap stuff that was too hard to scrape clean but too soft to file down, so they all ended up with these horrid jaggedy marks around them where I couldn’t be bothered to clean them up any more. Not only that, but nothing seemed to stick to them, even when pinned down, I had to bathe their feet in superglue to keep them attached to the base.

The bases got a light smothering of the new (at the time) textured paints to break up the monotony of the classic WHFB square base texture.

I cleaned up what I could be bothered with, knowing that I’d get diminishing returns on something I paid a few pennies per model for, and gave them a blast with some grey primer.

I did mention they were tall, right?

Painting the skeletal horde

The painting scheme for these guys was minimum viable product – I had a game lined up with them in a few days, so they just needed to be game-ready. They weren’t going to win any beauty awards, so they just needed a wash, a drybrush and to pick out key areas.

NYAAAAH!

The recipe was simple – wash them with Nuln Oil over their black primer, then a drybrush of grey, with a lighter drybrush of lighter grey.

I rejected the classic boney skeleton look as I wanted these to be made of stone rather than the skeletons of some huge 10-metre race of humans.

The metal sections were a mid gold colour and a liberal application of another technical paint I hadn’t really experimented with, Nihilakh Oxide, to get that lovely tarnished effect. The Oxide was applied liberally, then roughly wiped off the raised areas with my big sausage fingers.

Once they were done, I felt like they were missing something. Of course they looked cheap and cheerful, but they didn’t look spooky enough. I toyed with the idea of giving them classic glowing eyes, but that just didn’t feel right.

I wanted to give them an other-worldly glow and the chest cavity seemed like a great place to start. It my first time experimenting with Object Source Lighting (OSL), and at the time I feared that I had overdone it, but on reflection I don’t think I went far enough! The purple is very subtle, and I wanted a more powerful and obvious glow to it.

Whereas traditionally for undead constructs you would remove the head or destroy the brain, I wanted to slightly subvert that for these guys. Our Voidmaster has become an expert at headshots, and I wanted him to have to put a moment’s thought into the encounter when realising that it doesn’t immediately work.

I figured whatever sorcerous artefacts are powering these constructs, they are doing so from centre mass. I made an effort to explain how they were glowing from the chest cavity, and how blowing off their arms and legs didn’t seem to bother them at all. Even when their heads were removed they seemed to unerringly detect the players, as though the creatures that created them didn’t know or didn’t care about the function of the humanoid body, it only mattered that it looked like a terrifying visage of death to them.

The story began to build around that – these were not Yu’Vath, nor were they created by them. They implemented Yu’Vath technology, but they were build by some humanoid race in thrall to the Yu’Vath empire out of fear, necessity, or both. Why were they built? Who built them? These were all exciting questions outside the scope of our Rogue Trader game, they only needed to exist to build a bigger picture of a wider universe, and reiterate how small our characters were in it.

All in all I’m very happy with how they came out! For a project that was technically part of a different project’s budget, I’ve got some nice tropey villains that work at any scale and can be inserted into a game without much effort. Chuffed!

Skeleton gallery

I took some more glamour shots alongside my recent arcane ruins, crystals and Demeten Hastati too for a flavour of how they all work together.

MOTB: Void Whale

Finished product first!

With a triumphant, haunting cry, a titanic creature bursts into realspace, a wave of pure warp energy following in its wake.

The augers shriek in protest. The great void creature is nearly five times the length of the vessel with the mass of a small station.  Its sleek body is pockmarked with strange lights and lashed with deep scars, and it propels itself through the void on massive pinions.

It lets out another fearsome psychic wail and banks through the asteroid field to bear down on the Unbroken Resolve, its terrible vantablack jaws open wide.

Creatures of the void sea

What’s space without vast, unfathomable creatures borne from the dark between the stars?

Our Rogue Trader campaign is packed with exploring the stars, and while the 40k universe has plenty of strange aliens to interact with, sometimes you just want something really alien.

Every space game needs space whales, and with our adventurers travelling to a domain called ‘The Void Sea’, it was a perfect opportunity to come up with a very large encounter.

Life, uh, finds a way

Many moons ago I picked up a pile of cheap dinosaur toys with the express interest of using them as a basis for conversions. I was sure there was something I could do with this lad.

The head was obviously not intimidating enough, and his lil leggies had to go, but the shape was good and it was covered in lots of interesting bumps that would paint up nicely.

Off with his head!

Tyranid bits are a classic, although you have to be careful disguising them if you want to make a non-Nid creature. This is the enhanced senses biomorph from the old plastic Carnifex, the multiple eyes and big antenna seem perfect for tracking prey in the depths of space.

I wanted something that looked like flippers or wings – something to propel him through vacuum on strange alien biology. Some nice Tyranid scything talons fit the bill, and mounted sideways gave him lots of lovely girth.

Even more yranid bits for the underbelly, this time like the extra leggies on the underside of a horseshoe crab. There was a lot of Tyranid pieces in this build, so I’d have to be careful painting them to avoid making this creature look like a Tyranid.

Blending the bits together with some green stuff did the trick. It helped smooth the joins between the legs and the body, and made the head look like it was part of a whole rather than an angry turtle.

I did my best to match the patterns of the shell and blend it into the remnant of the armour plate on the head, disguising the Tyranid origin a little better.

Time for paint!

Colours of the deep

Ugly undersea fish were my inspiration for this, and a chance to paint with some of the brighter colours in my collection.

I love how a basecoat can pull together a modelling project, and bringing out some of the textures with a simple pinky/purple drybrush was a delight.

I was imagining different biologies and what could sustain a creature this size in the nothingness of space. Perhaps its main prey (space jellyfish!) have inbuilt solar reactors, generating food from nuclear energy in a similar way plants do, so this big boi has to feed to keep its own plasma drive equivalent running.

It does mean a player’s spaceship would look an awful lot like a big, delicious jellyfish…

The paintjob was a simple one – drybrush everything purple and pink, darken down some areas with washes, then pick out the key details.

I tried my hand at blending between the pink and blue areas, but it turned into an indistinguishable grey so I don’t think that worked very well. The extreme blue highlights are enough to tell the story, so you don’t really notice the failed colour blend.

It’s got this lovely angry fish/turtle feel to it, I’m very happy with how all the separate pieces came together to make something quite frightening.

[Jurassic park theme intensifies]

I did’t want them to kill it, just drive it off. It’s psychic as well (naturally), so the Astropath would be able to pick up weird signals from it. After wounding it, I’d want it to limp away crying for its mummy.

Wait, so this was just a small one?

Every victory should always come with a sense of dread in the Void Sea.

Overall I’m extremely happy with how this project turned out! It cost me 90p in dinosaurs, helped reduce the size of the bits box, and made for a thrilling session.

It’s got me thinking what else could be lurking out there…

MOTB: Slaugth Infiltrator

Finished product first!

Our once-regular games of Rogue Trader took a side bar for a small Inquisitorial investigation into a psychotropic drug made of ground up psykers. The criminal organisation responsible was headed by a shadowy figure called the Principal, a powerful Slaugth Infiltrator complete with hidden moon base, brain-worm zombie minions and its own terrifying technology.

The Slaugth are a pretty horrid bunch, described as “a vague humanoid shape composed of seemingly hundreds of writhing, half-melded maggot-like worms covered in viscous, necrotic mucus.”

They first appeared in Dark Heresy as a fascinating villain and party-wipe machine even on their lowest setting, and although I desperately wanted to unleash them on one of my player groups, I figured only the Rogue Trader party would be able to stumble blindly into an Infiltrator and make it out intact.

Slaugh Infiltrator from 40k Fandom wiki
Deadliest catch

On the board they’re as horrifying as their appearance – they’re amorphous, regenerating, terrifying and immune to toxins, fatigue and critical hits. They’re horrifyingly fast, can hide just about anywhere and can punch a character’s hit points clean off in a single blow.

They also rock around with terrifying Slaugth weaponry. This one is partying with a Necrotic Beamer – a magic wand with a lascannon packed inside, with the fun additional trait called Disintegrate. Any victim suffering Critical Damage from this weapon is blasted into a cloud of ash and vapour and is completely destroyed. Time to burn a Fate Point!

Building a monster

No Slaugth miniatures exist and with only a handful of pieces of artwork to work with, I had a fearsome amount of artistic licensing. There were a few other Slaugth conversions on Google at the time, but I wanted a particular bunch-of-worms-in-a-cloak kinda look and none of them really grabbed me.

I was going through a period of converting up Reaper Bones minis for use in Rogue Trader, and found the Wraith model suited my purposes. It couldn’t be that hard to fill it with lots of tiny wriggly bois, could it?

The mini arrived and was a little smaller than I’d hoped, so I popped him on a wider base to give him some gravitas on the board. I wanted him to have some kind of sceptre to represent his necrotic beamer, so that would be held above his head to give him a bit more height.

The wormy lads were just tiny rolls of greenstuff with a tapered end, stuck into place with a dab of super glue and bent into shape with a sculpting tool to make them look wriggling and grasping.

You can never have too many worms! I would add maybe a dozen tiny tendrils each modelling session, letting them cure fully so I wouldn’t stick my stupid fingers in them while I was adding more. It wasn’t a particularly time consuming process, but I’ve learned from my many sculpting mistakes that it’s far better to do it in lots of small chunks rather than try to do too much and ruin the progress you’ve made with a clumsily-placed thumb.

Their tech is described as unfathomable, corrupted, and a blend of synthetic and organic. I wanted to avoid him looking like an angry wizard with a simple cane with an orb on the end, so I snipped the end off a Plaguebearer’s sword and inverted it for the ‘handle’, and used the smokin’ skull from some Nighthaunt kit for the top.

This had the added bonus of giving it some extra height while also drawing attention to the weapon it wields, giving me an opportunity to do some fancy special effects when it got painted.

Painting a million worms

Time to splash some colour on!

I went for a dark and eerie palette with splashes of unnatural light for the weapon. I trialled a dark brown for the cloak but it looked very bland, so I covered it up with dark purple.

Luckily I didn’t have to paint a million worms. Each got a couple dots of grey along their uppermost ridges to look like segments, then they were all covered in a liberal amount of gloss varnish to rack up the icky-factor.

The base was originally going to be a gunmetal grey to match the evil lair, but it was too drab and didn’t contrast enough with the dark robes and black squigglybois. A light sandstone colour was perfect to frame the mini on, and gave me lots of evil ideas about running a Mummy-style scenario being chased around a pyramid by a swarm of angry worm-men.

The staff was painted a very dark green and given a few black washes to darken it even further. The extreme edges were picked out in very light colours, giving it an eerie jade-like appearance. I wanted it to look otherworldly and dangerous without it being Chaos, as that’s not what this chap is about.

I wanted it to look like malefic energies were spilling from the skull at the top of the staff, and it was my first time painting lightning and I think it came out rather well! It involved lots of consecutively lighter thinned-down layers of paint, starting at dark green and working up to almost pure white. Drybrushing the smoke didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, however.

Overall I’m extremely happy with how he turned out. It looks like an unfathomable cosmic horrow, the perfect kind of Xenos for my games! It got a great outing in our Rogue Trader campaign, causing one of our characters to burn a Fate Point almost immediately, and took the entire party plus retinue to gang up on it, setting it on fire, slinging plasma and stabbing it with an Eldar witch-blade to take it down.

How a Dark Heresy party is supposed to take these on is beyond me!

I’ve got big plans for more Slaugth, especially their horrible flesh-constructs, and I’ve been eyeing up the Nighthaunt range for larger minis to base my cloaked horrors on. My partner has just subscribed to the Age of Sigmar monthly magasine, so fingers crossed one of the Cairnwraiths turns up that she doesn’t want…

MOTB: Demeten Hastati

A new normal

It’s been almost 5 months since I posted last, the combination of global pandemic, criminal negligence from the people elected to look after us and the largest civil rights movement I’ve ever lived through hasn’t given me much headspace to create content. I’ve been sat with the same 9 draft posts for months, some are from an Inquisitor campaign that is looking increasingly like it’ll never see completion, some are of projects from 2017(!), some are writing or design that I never got round to editing.

I’m still mourning what I’ve lost, and while thankfully I still have my health and all my loved ones (we were quick to go into isolation while our government arsed around and delayed a proper lockdown), I’m coming to terms with what a new ‘normal’ will be.

I’ve done a heap of hobbying over lockdown, occasionally sending snapshots over Twitter, but I’ve neglected the proper writeups and lovely images that come with it. I’ve been putting off my ‘welcome back’ blog post for a while, either because I wanted to do a big, explosive return with lots of exciting new content, or I wanted to sneak back in under the radar and pretend nothing happened, or something in between.

Lockdown has given me a lot of time to be introspective, and logging back in to find there are still dozens of people accessing the site daily despite zero activity on my part has given my spirits a lift. The world is in a strange place right now but knowing I can bring pleasure to people with the things I create is enough to dust off the keyboard and get back to publishing.

I’ll be tinkering with the format of the blog, hopefully with more emphasis on the RPG stuff I’ve been working on, but for now I’ve got a tonne of cool minis I want to show off…

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves

It all started with some easy-build Imperial Guardsmen and some heads from Anvil Industry.

The last push-fit model I made was when Goblin Green was all the rage

Super easy to assemble, I got a box of five for less than a fiver on the internet. After making a bunch of weirdness for various RPGs I was running, I was looking forward to batch painting some soldiers.

I guess he’ll never be the head of a major corporation

Snipping the heads off was straightforward, they just needed their necks hollowing out with a craft knife to make room for the Anvil heads.

Assembled!

I picked up a Cadian command box from my FLGS Asgard Wargames so I could make a gunner and sergeant of some kind. I also happened to have a spare ogryn in my bits box, so guess who was getting some auxiliary muscle!

I was pretty deep into our Orthesian Dynasty Rogue Trader game and we’d just started discussing the possibilities of recruiting an army, so naturally I became overly obsessed and planned out half a dozen different Imperial Guard regiments using the Only War regiment builder. None of them got used, but one of them got lodged in my brain and the only way to work it out was to assemble them.

Anvil Industry don’t make Ogryn-sized helmets (yet…) so I had to assemble my own pith helmet from green stuff to complete the look. I had no idea what I was going to use this squad for, but I knew they were going to crop up in our Rogue Trader game and give my PCs a headache sooner or later.

By this point I’d settled on the name – Hastati mercenaries from the planet of Demeter. They’re modelled on the Imperial Guard, but they’re a bunch of bastard-hard mercs who specialise in planetfall, ship-to-ship combat and bringing the local flora and fauna to heel. They’ve identified a niche as an army that specialises in just about everything a Rogue Trader needs on a hostile planet, and they appreciate that rivals showing up is all part of the paycheck…

Trooping the colours

I knew I wanted them hella flashy, with rich colours for their tunics and elaborate metalwork to show off their wealth. The Ventrillian Nobles were an inspiration, as were the obvious colonial redcoats their helmets are based off.

Boys on patrol

A nice bronzey metallic with two coats of wash then edge highlighted with the same colour gives an easy-win expensive look. The real bollock was the white – just when you think you’ve done enough thin layers…

The fatigues and tunic were the same idea – base colour, wash and layered on the top. I didn’t want to paint more than a dozen, but if I *did*, I’d want a scheme that could be batch painted. I don’t even need to actively punish myself, I can potentially punish myself in a hypothetical future. Cosmic brain hobbying.

I still haven’t perfected my plasma coil recipe. I always go for the cop-out of lighter colours on the ridges, as I can never get the under-glow right. One day I’ll be brave enough to attempt the anti-highlight, but it wasn’t on this project.

PS don’t tell anyone but I absolutely did not drill out this barrel.

I toyed with the idea of having them on jungle/desert bases because it fit their aesthetic, but I really liked the juxtaposition of cold, hard starship flooring. They might be adept at traversing alien worlds, but their home is made of steel. It’s not terra firma under their feet, but grav-plating.

I’m very happy with how the big ogryn lad came out. The whole squad was designed to be an encounter on an alien world with a rival Rogue Trader, and I couldn’t shake the idea that trekking through the unknown with a heavy weapons platform didn’t seem right. Your heavy support should come with its own set of legs, and aside from avoiding the odd dark enclosed spaces, should be relatively self-sufficient.

Mid-level Rogue Trader RPG parties are capable of putting out an astonishing amount of firepower, but aside from the odd defense-heavy Explorator, aren’t capable of withstanding a whole lot of return fire. As glass cannons go, they just get an awful lot more cannony – relying solely on deleting threats before they become a problem.

Ogryns are strong and tough anyway – coupled with some decent armour and a shield made of space magic and suddenly they’re a potent threat. Your sniper character can’t one-shot it, so you have to dedicate some of those precious resources you’d use to delete more dangerous threats.

All in all a lovely little patrol group. Trained human mercenaries are not high on the list of things you expect on an uncharted alien planet, so I hope it’ll give my players a run for their money!

MOTB: Crystals

The money shot

I’ve been banging on about the Gorgon Crystals campaign a lot recently, and for it I needed some battlefield tokens to represent the.. uh… crystals. I’ve mucked about with carving crystalline structures out of plastic sprue before, but I didn’t really have the fortitude to create at least half a dozen markers out of the stuff.

Cue Bad Squiddo Games! I’ve been following their stuff for a while now, and even picked up some of their Cargo Supplies and Food Supplies kits to build my market scene (which is still lying unpainted in a box somewhere…), and knew their set of crystals would be perfect.

p a c k i d g e

I put in the order and waited. Even though it was a busy post-Christmas period, it still turned up within days of me ordering. A++ service!

p a c k i d g e

The minis came out the blister perfectly – no mould lines in sight. The only tidying I did was shaving down one or two bottoms where they’d been clipped from their sprue. A two-minute job and it’s time to hit the spray.

Blue tack woes

Now, in my haste, I didn’t give them a proper soapy bath that you should always do with resin minis. This is to clean off any releasing agent to make paint adhere better and make them a little less slippy.

I was too proud and lazy to do this – after all – what’s the worst that could happen?

Turns out, the releasing agent is basically vaseline for blue tack. I had to hold them with needle nose pliers and superglue them to paint pots because blue tack wouldn’t even pretend to hold onto them.

I kept telling myself that yes, this was a far easier and more efficient method than just doing what you’re supposed to do.

Time for the pink

I knew I wanted a purple/pink colour scheme to add that alien quality I was looking for, but I didn’t know how to paint crystals. I knew there was something funny about the direction you blend colours to make them look like prisms, but I couldn’t even begin to figure it out. Time for a tutorial!

A cursory google provided me with this great tutorial on painting gems/crystals, and I just substituted the blues for pinks and crimsons to produce an effect I was really happy with.

It was, however, quite time consuming, and I was sick of the sight of pink and purple by the end of four very long evenings of painstaking wet blending. I’m glad I did though, because I think the results speak for themselves!

They’ll appear in plenty of Inquisitor battle reports over the next few weeks, and hopefully I can get more Bad Squiddo bits to paint up in the near future, so watch this space!

MOTB: Arcane ruins

Finished product first!

I guess there’s a theme with recent MOTBs, so it’s a good time to post ruins! Truth be told, I’ve had these ruins ready for quite some time, but having only just purchased a lovely new battle mat from Pwork Games it was a great time to get some photos done.

Out with the old

I must have owned this kit for over a decade, getting dragged around between uni, house moves and all sorts. A few years ago I had a weekend spare and I wanted to finally get it from sprue to battlefield.

Original box art!

I had a tiny problem – much of the kit had been lost to the annals of time I was missing at least one whole upright pillar, the top of the monolith and at least one bit of broken pillar. I’d need to get creative.

In with the new

Luckily my pals at Hobgoblin 3D had me covered. I’d been doing some work for them and I was paid in scatter terrain (can all my paychecks be in scatter terrain please?) and I found the dungeon brazier fit perfectly in the gap at the top. Result!

I’d been using it for practising painting techniques, so it wouldn’t matter if it was getting repainted.

They were quite impressive all assembled. I’d used a cheap readymix DIY filler and smeared it all over, giving the flat edges a bit of texture and tidying up some of the more heinous mould lines.

It was a shame I was missing a few pieces, but it’s supposed to be ruins so the mismatched appearance would be fine.

Weirdly the bits I was missing the most was upright pillars, and the ones I did have tended to be two of the same half, so they didn’t fit together particularly well. Plenty of hacking and filling was needed to finish them off, and the final upright was made from two chunks of ruins glued on top of each other. It ended up with a very wonky appearance… but ruins!

The final upright didn’t have a back half at all, and with not enough pieces to bodge together a second upright, the final freestanding ruin had to be laid down. I wanted to make it look like it was being reclaimed by the earth, and I had some more plants from Hobgoblin to fill the gap and make it a more rounded piece of scatter.

With plenty more filler applied and a long drying time, it was on to the undercoat!

All white on the night

I wanted to avoid doing MORE grey ruins – my collection of terrain was 90% drybrushed grey over a black undercoat which is incredibly dull to look at. I was looking at some tutorials for painting wraithbone structures for our Rogue Trader campaign at the time and I enjoyed how striking Seraphim Sepia was over a white undercoat, so the plan was set in motion.

All dressed up

They existed for almost two years before the gaming mat was purchased, and it’s such a lovely backdrop for these minis I had to finally take some photos!

The stone was painted with washes of Seraphim Sepia and Agrax Earthshade, with progressively lighter drybrushes of boney colours, finishing on an edge highlight of pure white.

I was playing with my latest new technical too – Nihilak Oxide – to do some patina on the bronze. This was just Warplock Bronze painted straight over the bits I wanted to be metallic with the Oxide dabbed messily into the recesses. With a bit of rag, I wiped it off the most prominent edges and that was that.

The downed ruin had some extra textures to paint, namely the ground and plant. I had another half a dozen plant bits that I batch painted at the same time (more on those in another post), so this was done to replicate that. Otherwise, the ground was a dark brown base with lighter browns drybrushed over the top, with a few select grassy tufts from Army Painter.

When they’re separated, the ruins take up a decent amount of board space. I doubt they’d ever be big enough to use as a focal point, but as some LOS-breaking scatter I think they perform quite well.

Plus, the big bonus is they appear to work extremely well at both 28mm and 54mm – something that is becoming (again) increasingly important to my collection!

A final size comparison with an as-yet un-photographed mini – a Demeten Hastati. Again, more on those guys in a later post. The ruins make great cover!

Very happy with how it all came out! For a weekend’s worth of work, I got something striking and practical for the tabletop using bits that were just gathering dust. I’d been meaning to shoot them for some time, and with the new battlemat arriving, it was a great opportunity to use them as a backdrop for some other minis too.

Watch this space…

MOTB: Medicae servitors

Finished product first!

I was lucky enough to get on board Anvil Industry’s Daughters of the Burning Rose Kickstarter back in 2018 and thanks to a birthday present top-up found myself with a decent amount of credit to spend on toy soldiers. I didn’t need any squads at that time, so fancied picking up a load of the special characters to supplement the various games we play as NPCs.

Excitingly, many of the special characters were still in the concept art stage when they were ordered, so it was a crapshoot as to what would turn up. One set that I knew I definitely wanted was the “Cyborg Surgical Assistants”, as at that point I’d lost count of the number of games I’d set in a morgue/hospital or with a Boss NPC surrounded by legions of assistant servitors.

The horde arrives

I ordered a bunch of minis and promptly forgot about them for a year until a large box of resin arrived on my doorstep.

What a mystery! Half of the fun was figuring out what I’d ordered (looking at the invoice is for casuals), and luckily Past Me had furnished Present Me with plenty of fun new toys to play with.

I had a Dark Heresy finale coming up that required a pair of medicae servitors, so I assembled those first, popping them on small Necromunda bases to fit in with my other minis.

As with other Anvil Industry stuff, they were a dream to put together. Minimal mould lines and everything fit together without any pinning. Out of the two claw hands and two chainblade hands, I opted for one on each servitor. As much as the idea of Mister Clamps and Mister Stabs appealed, the practicality of having two chainblades on a medicae servitor was a little suspect.

Scrubbing up

I knew I wanted a sterile, hospital-themed colour scheme to help visually set them apart on the tabletop, but I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Luckily, a video on how to paint UR-025 from Blackstone Fortress was doing the rounds at the time and the minty green was perfect for what I wanted – and I had the paints to hand!

An undercoat of white then a layer of Nihilakh Oxide gave me hospital scrub green, with another pin wash in the recesses, then edge highlighted with a very light grey.

Metal bits were simply painted metal, then given a brown and black wash to make them really mucky. Chips were painted on with a little line of dark brown, then highlighted underneath with a little line of light grey.

Flesh was Ironrach Skin, washed purple and Ironrach layered over the top again to give them a very unhealthy skin tone (plus a little dab on the corners where flesh meets metal – gotta make it look inflamed as well).

The goop tanks were painted red, stopping roughly horizontally to look like liquid in the tank. A thin line of lighter red as a highlight, then a healthy coat of gloss varnish to finish off the look.

And they were done! I’m very pleased with how they came out – the colour scheme was simple to do but incredibly striking on the tabletop, and stands apart from other minis they might be deployed next to. I’m already planning my next Anvil build, so watch this space…

MOTB: Ryza-pattern ruins

New year, new scenery! I’ve had a quiet spell for hobbying over the past month or so, the time I’d usually spent painting is time I spend buying cheese, eating cheese, or planning how to get 12 people round an 8-person table to eat cheese.

Luckily past me grabbed loads of photos of projects I hadn’t showcased yet, so I’ve got lots of material to work with while I get back in the hobby groove.

Older and ryza

I acquired some of the Ryza-pattern ruins completely by chance, having been decidedly indifferent to them when they were announced. When a sprue was included in Conquest magazine last year, not only did I get one for free from someone who didn’t want it, but the price of them dropped through the floor on ebay the week after the issue hit doormats. Crazy how nature do that. I figured two sprues were better than one (and could get reasonable coverage on a table) so I picked one up for about £6.

For my sins, I took absolutely zero WIP photos. Imagine then, if you will, the above and below photos but TOTALLY NAKED. They were uncomplicated to build – the only assembly required being where two sections slotted together. The hardest part was cleaning the darn pieces up – one of the ruin sections has no less than 28 points of contact with the sprue, so that was a LOT of plastic nubbins to clear up.

All painted up

As with all my scenery schemes, the technique I used was far too complicated for how they came out. Everything got hit with a black undercoat, then a grey zenithal undercoat. The ‘panels’ got a pale flesh drybrush with a sepia wash, and the ‘uprights’ got a boltgun metal drybrush with a brown wash. These got a rough edge drybrush with boltgun metal again to make them look chipped and worn.

The red horizontal sections were mephiston red, black wash and edge drybrush with a lighter red, and the yellow and black stripey cables got a black wash as well. My two favourite technical paints were then liberally splashed on afterwards – Blood for the Blood God and Typhus Corrosion to mucky them up a bit.

They’ve already been super handy in games of Necromunda to expand the pool of scatter and cover terrain, and they scale up well to 54mm too which makes them double-useful for my nefarious 2020 plans!

For now though, simply enjoy these unbesmirched images of good, wholesome background terrain in its natural environment.

MOTB: Magos Greyfarn

Finished product first!

I recently got involved in a Dark Heresy 1ed game (and not one I was running for once!) which gave me a great excuse opportunity to buy another mini.

I’m obsessed with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and always excited to explore more facets of them. As the Mechanicus are basically space wizards (simultaneously hoarding secret knowledge but desperately wanting to show off how smart they are by building giant towers filled with weird inventions), I wanted to make a quintessential wizarding archetype – the doddering old genius.

I’m also a huge fan of Futurama, so after watching Bender’s Big Game, I knew what needed to be done. I set about finding a mini to perfectly represent Hubert Farnsworth in the 41st millennium.

My search ended almost immediately with Artel W’s offering – Preacher Ignacius Fahrnsworth. Well heck. Straight into the basket you go.

Delivery for… I. C. Wiener?

My experience with Artel was superb, starting at the point my delivery arrived.

Look at it! Having ordered a couple of things from Russia with varying levels of sturdiness, I was delighted to find a hand-wrapped brown paper box plop out the jiffy bag, with a red wax ‘Artel W’ seal.

Mini companies take note – customer experience starts from the moment the parcel arrives!

Inside was another box, clarifying the ‘W’ stood for Artel W.

And there he was!

Very delicately packaged, and lots of lovely bits.

The second heap of praise I have is the quality of this fella is unparalleled – I’ve never put together anything quite like it. The mini is exquisitely detailed, there were no mould lines at all, and only a couple of bits of flash that needed trimming off. The actual mini itself went together like a dream, everything fitting precisely where it needed to.

I’d assembled him within half an hour, no need for anything to be pinned. Everything felt sturdy. He even came with multiple arm options, and although I had planned on converting him somewhat (I wasn’t sure what, I just have a compulsion to change things to make them my own), I couldn’t bring myself to do it – the mini was just too lovely!

Hanging out with the #squad

He scales up nicely to other GW minis too – here he is hanging out with the rest of the party. Enough dilly-dally, on to the paint!

Hail science!

He’s an old-school Magos so he needs some old-school threads. Classic Mechanicus red, with black and white checkerboard trim (none of this fancy new cog trim).

Everything was painted with the same technique – base colour > wash > base colour > lighter colour. It’s simple, easy for me to remember what I’ve used, and works well with my high contrast/cartoony style of painting.

I love all the little details on the mini – I’m pretty sure all those heads are supposed to be the other Planet Express crew. He’s even missing a shoe, perfect for a forgetful old Magos.

I’ll definitely be using him as a hanger-on in Necromunda too… perhaps a Heretek or Rogue Doc. Maybe even as a VIP in a scenario? Always good to add to the catalogue of Citizens!

It took me a bit of trial and error to work out how the hood and mantle worked with each other – there was lots of repainting sections trying to figure out where the red bit ended and the black and white bit started.

Typhus Corrosion was applied around the bottom of the robe and shoes to help mucky him up a bit and tie him into his Zone Mortalis base a bit better.

I think this was my fourth (?) time at painting fire – somehow I’d escaped almost 20 years of mini painting without having to learn how to do it, then a bunch of fire-based projects come along at once. I think I’m getting better at it, I just need to practise my Origin Source Lighting to help give it that warm glow. I tried it a bit here, but I chickened out before doing too much.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do on the banner, so I went for a cog design. I’m not super excited about how it came out, so I’m blaming the waviness of it. Yeah. Finished, not perfect, right?

Very happy with how he turned out! It was a bit of a slog to get through, especially all the little fiddly technical freehand bits (and painting fire – boo hiss), but I’m glad I did.

Good news everyone – I will DEFINITELY be going back to Artel W for more minis in the future!

MOTB: Asteroids

Finished product first!

Big rocks – mankind’s oldest foe. As much a threat to planetsiders as to voidsmen, and despite space being really really big and really really empty, they do have a tendency to turn up in space battles quite a lot.

Given our Rogue Trader campaign is heading back out into the wilderness, we’re likely to come across all kinds of really big rocks. Why not put a few together?

I wanna rock

I’d recently acquired some cork for basing materials. When it comes to cork, a tip I received from a local hobbyist was to pop to Wilko and buy a few place mats and tear them up rather than pay loads for ‘hobby’ cork. It all comes from the same tree!

This was a quick turnaround for construction, so for all my shame I was unable to get any WIP photos of them pre-primed.

Cork is lovely to work with – you can simply gouge chunks out of it with any implement (even fingers) to create great texture. The smaller rocks were made from scraps from the larger ones, carefully vetted to avoid any flat edges.

For the big lads I glued a few slabs of cork together until they were an inch or so thick. Once thoroughly dried, I set about carving huge chunks out of them to create more realistic shapes. Again, great care was taken to avoid any obvious flat edges or glue marks. You can kind of see the ‘grain’ of the cork in the top left asteroid of the photo above, so I was keen to avoid any more of that.

In action!

The support struts were a mix of cocktail sticks for the thicker rocks and lengths of paperclip for the smaller ones. I bent a right angle at the bottom of each paperclip so there was more surface area connection, then padded it out with green stuff anyway. I build for table-play, not dis-play. Aha.

Finally, I applied plenty of textured paint into the nooks and crannies that still had grain on them.

Celestial bodies

Painting giant space rocks was, you’ll be surprised to hear, incredibly straight forward.

Primed black, drybrushed grey, then washed with Nuln Oil. Another few lighter highlights were drybrushed on, ending in almost pure white at the very top.

I did actually (for once!) look up reference images, as I couldn’t remember if asteroids were brown or not. (They’re not)

Finally, using the end of a cocktail stick, dabbed some white dots in a random pattern to simulate the infinite vastness of space (and break up the dodgy sanding job I did on the bases).

Very happy with how they came out! It’s definitely a technique I’m going to replicate in the future. I notice TTCombat has a new ‘modular space station‘ kit that is awfully tempting – perhaps some space stations built into asteroids? Or perhaps.. *gasp*.. a scale model of Mercy?

Omnissiah protect us, for that would be a mighty construction project…