Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cornmeal and Corkboard Bases

When I first got into miniatures painting as a hobby, I did not really understand the principles of basing your minis. I would paint the whole mini up, and leave the base a little dirty, or simply paint it black.

Mind, I was eleven at the time. And since I was brand new to painting, it isn't as though my paintjobs were wonderful things being ruined by poor basing. There were a lot of basic principles that I couldn't really figure out back then.

For a while, I simply used the different kinds of flocking materials I found at hobby shops and game stores. I even tried out the green gravel that matches all of GW's basing from the 80s.

Anyway, since then I've learned how do some great basing, and how do do some good basing without a lot of work. One of my favorite tricks now is basing with cornmeal. I found out that some major painters use cornmeal for basing.

Yes, you go to the grocery store and get a cylinder of stuff that you might otherwise use to make corn bread. Glue it to the base with PVA glue or superglue, and you'll have a wonderful surface that you can paint and drybrush over.

The unpainted base tends to look like this:

Sure, the stuff is a sort of radioactive green to start out with, but after you've painted it it looks quite good:

Just a little normal base coating and drybrushing will do that. I like to apply static grass or snow over the top of cornmeal bases, and it works beautifully.

Another thing I use a lot is cork board. It gives great edges for rock surfaces. Tear a piece of cork board off of a larger piece, and glue it onto your base. Do not cut the cork board out, becuase that will give you straight edges, and the uneven look is perfect for rocks.

When painted up, cork board can look quite pleasing.

Aside from that I use normal static grass, snow flocking, water effect etc. for my basing. I found a great tutorial for applying all of these techniques for strong basing at

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Praetorians in action

Many of the forces that I paint come to me in manageable batches. That's fine for me, as it helps my customers be able to spread out the costs of getting a large force painted.

The only trouble is that I often do not get to see the whole force on the table together. Well, one of my customers just posted up some images of the Praetorians marching through a piece of terrian.

You can see those images here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cake Toppers are Minis Too!

So, a little while ago I was commissioned to do something rather extraordinary: I was commissioned to convert and paint a set of cake toppers!

The bride was to be a zombie, and the groom was to be a post apocalypse survivor with a gas mask. Truly, one of the greatest projects of all time.

So I went to work on it. First I got the cake topper, and started up on the conversion. Sculpting the bride into a zombie was a lot of fun. I cut most of her hair and a lot of her face off so that I could show the skin peeling off and the muscle, brain or other gore underneath. I re-sculpted all of her hair and veil as well, since it just didn't fit in otherwise.

The groom had to be geared out, full gloves and boots, along with a few extras, but his big event was his gas mask and oxygen tank.

The colors for the painting was all on request. As I understand it, the groom wore a red and white stripped tie to the wedding, and the bride wore a red dress. I was already a fan of these people before I knew that, but honestly, they're awesome.

I had to hold off on posting these when I did them because the cake topper was a surprise for her. Since the happy couple is now married, I can post all I want.

So, here are some pics of the finished topper:

And after the wedding, I received this picture of the cake topper in action. I am told that it was a big hit.

Best wishes to the happy couple, and thank you for letting me do this project.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Warmachine Mark II full rules are out of the bag!

Privateer Press have done something that I don't think I've ever seen from a miniatures company. They have just released the full rules for their 2nd edition version of Warmachine (due to be released next January).

You can download the full rulebook and complete stat cards as two separate PDFs from their website.

From the announcement, it seems as though all of the rampant speculation from the Privateer Press forums (and people bothering him at conventions) has led Matt Wilson to get a little frustrated. I think I can understand why he'd want to put a stop to the speculative doomsaying, I really never expected them to release the actual rules like this.

Anyway, I haven't finished reading any of the rules yet, but summaries from the forum tell me that there are some substantial changes.*

A lot of individual minis have been altered quite a bit since the Mark II field test last April. Many units have had a power boost, some have had a power drop. Most fixes are slight compared to the field test. The new point system is now in place (allowing for more fungibility in force creation) and the new rules for unit coherency allow for units to move as circles around their commander instead of in lines.

Perhaps the most significant thing to come out of this, though is the announcement that the Hordes Mark II field test will be for official tournament use until the released of the finished rules and stat cards. Matt Wilson claims that this is because Hordes cards aren't going to change as much as Warmachine cards have, but it is kind of nice that Hordes won't have to be in limbo for six to nine months.

We'll see how that pans out. I'll go back to reading all of the cards now.

*Don't believe too much of what you read on the forums, a lot of those posters were just skimming the rules and misread something. Rather, download the file and see for yourself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Space Hulk Terminators

I recently finished a commission to do all of the terminators from Games Workshop's new version of Space Hulk.

The difference between the minis is night and day. Of course, I should expect that from the twenty year gap between the original Space Hulk and this new set.

The minis fit together a little like the Black Reach or Battle for Macragge box sets. They can snap together and fit very tight. If you aren't going to paint them, they probably don't even need glue.

But unlike the Battle For Macragge and Black Reach marines, these Blood Angels are stuffed with crazy details and individuality. In the box, there are 12 Blood Angels terminators, and each and every one of them is a unique sculpt, with heraldry and character all his own.

So here is the set I've painted. Note that I did not paint the Genestealers for this client, and also he was planning on using them in his Warhammer 40,000 force, so he is likely going to mount them on larger bases himself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tabletop Gaming News is looking for award jury members

Tabletop Gaming News has just announced that they are looking for jury members for their yearly awards. They want experienced miniatures enthusiasts who have the time to plod through product releases since December and nominate some of them to be voted on for the Reader's Choice and Editor's Choice awards. They're hoping to add four to six new jury members, so if you are interested, let them know.

Tabletop Gaming News is a wonderful source for updates on all things miniatures related. Although their reviews archive is not very comprehensive, the reviews they give to miniatures games are very detailed and well thought out. As are their awards- this isn't just another internet award here, the things they nominate are always worth a look.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Avatars of War looking for feedback on the new Minotaur Lord

Avatars of War has released images of a new mini in progress on their forum. They're currently looking for feedback on this mini:

They're looking to see if anyone has ideas regarding the armor this mini should be wearing, how much fur he ought to have, any possible weapon options he should have and where details like spikes and skulls should go.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, make sure you let them know.

Avatars of War is Felix Paniagua's personal line of miniatures. Felix is responsible for sculpting a lot of our favorite miniatures, including a lot of Dragonblood orcs, and a good number of Hordes Trollkin (my favorite of his is Grim Angus). Avatars is a line of brilliantly detailed sculpts that work well as heroes for Warhammer Fantasy, characters for role-playing or really just minis to challenge the painter. They have some very brilliant mini in their line, and I suspect this minotaur will end up on par with Felix' excellent line.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Classic Praetorians

I recently finished another commission for a classic Praetorian Imperial Guard force. Yeah, and these are still some of my favorite Games Workshop minis.

There is just so much to do with their faces. There's a lot of expression and character in these guys, they really feel like the noble underdogs of the universe that the Imperial Guard are.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

the Juggernaut's Extreme Axe

People who have been keeping up with Warmachine will know about their newest of extreme sculpts: the extreme Juggernaut.

I honestly could not resist. This massive jack comes in a rubble pile that makes the Deathjack look simple to put together, and he can be put into almost any pose imaginable (even the fingers are separate bits that fit into ball joins).

The extreme sculpts are known for their extreme size, and this is no exception. However, on Privateer Press' website, they only did a size comparison against the already large non-extreme juggernaut mini.

After I pulled the bits out of the box, I noticed that the Axe on this juggernaut is larger than most of the minis that I have.

Here is the axe next to Professor Pendrake. He's a normal size infantry model, and he is roughly as tall as the axe blade.

Now for height. I put the axe next to some cavalry minis that I own, and it is taller than the mini (so taller than a horse and rider). Here, I've put it up next to one of my larger warjacks, and the axe itself is just that massive.

Now the Warpwolf isn't small mini, and this one is standing on a rock. But still, I think he'd need Monkey Grip to use that axe- even two handed.

Here's the opposite idea from what PP did. A gobber, one of the smaller minis they've produced stands dwarved by most things in the Iron Kingdoms. I'm glad that from a game mechanics perspective he doesn't stand a chance of surviving a blow from that axe.

From looking over the bitz, it looks like the juggernaut is going to match the axe size and pretty much dwarf everything on the battlefield that is not extreme. I'll make sure to do some more size comparisons when I get him all put together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Studio McVey minis... wow.

So, Studio McVey started producing resin miniatures recently. And my, oh my, they are leading in with some fine pieces.

Studio McVey
is run by Mike and Ali McVey.

You might know Mike McVey from his work with Games Workshop- he was leading up the 'Eavy Metal team in the 80s and 90s, and had a major hand in starting up the Citidel's line of paints. You might know him from his work with Privateer Press, he was one of their original sculptors and painters and as Rivet Head studios wrote a number of the Warmachine Painting Tutorials- and he started up the P3 line of paints. You might even know him from some of his other works in sculpting and painting miniatures, since he's done a lot.

Ali McVey, on the other hand, is simply one of the very best painters in the world, and is only a little quieter about it.

So I can't say that I'm surprised that when they put together a miniatures line, they're only producing brilliant miniatures for painting. So far, they only have two sculpts available, but they are both georgeous sculpts.

By the way, both are limited edition sculpts, only 750 are available. So we'll see if they're still available in a month.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Classic Space Hulk Mini

Ok, so a while back I found a few of my very old minis and decided to paint them up. I started out with this gem from Space Crusade.

More recently, I decided to paint up an old- 1st edition Space Hulk mini that I found. Yes, this is a terminator cast in one piece of plastic. His storm bolter just kind of melts into his arm and shoulder, his pauldrons are oval-ish and overall, he's pretty much exactly what I expected from a plastic marine from the Rogue Trader era.

Here's hoping I can find one of the old fully posable plastic beaky marines.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A look at Arcane Legions

Also at PAX, there was a lot of hubub around the Arcane Legions booth. This game is some kind of semi-collectible, semi-prepainted miniatures game.

Semi-collectible because, from what I hear, it just isn't that hard to find anything in particular. You can buy a random box of minis for your faction rather than having to collect everything together, and no units are particularly rare.

Semi-prepainted because the plastic minis are sometimes prepainted- a lot of the troopers come out of the box on a sprue (sometimes with colorful shields that need to be attached). This makes the painted characters and elite units stand out a little- that is, if you aren't painting the troopers yourself.

The game itself is a regimental combat game, streamlined and a little elegant. All units use the same size base, which has a lot of slots drilled into it for the minis to stand on. Each unit comes with what looked to me like a sticker that fits over the base itself. The sticker has the statline for a mini standing in each individual slot on it (shown in dice- red dice for attack, white for defense, and blue for ranged attack). The interesting part is that the different slots add very differnt things to the regiment. For example, the slots towards the back might add defense dice- so if your unit decides to reform to put more models towards the back, then you are actually putting them into a defensive formation.

A nice, simple yet elegant system.

Here is a sphinx that doesn't have the sticker on his base yet. I'm pretty sure he was a preview, and his statline might not be fixed yet. Large monsters like this take up the whole base that would normally have a bunch of cavalry or infantry on it.

So, now for the craziness. According to the people I spoke with, it is possible for you to make custom units through a program they have online. That's nothing new, but with Arcane Legions, the units you make are 100% tournament legal.

I'm not quite sure how to take that. It would be quite a task to make sure that there's no way to abuse the system, but with a system this simple, it might just be possible. I think we'll have to wait and see if there's some special rule that finds its way onto every custom unit, or if they've balanced it enough that a force without any custom units can take on a fully custom force.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Warmachine at PAX

Well, there was quite a bit of Warmachine stuff going on at PAX. The biggest part of that, of course, was the new Retribution force. Privateer Press actually sold out of the new plastic myrmidon jacks, or else I'd be overlooking them right now.

But there's a whole lot of Retribution stuff out there. The forums have that area really well covered.

There was really only one mini in their case that they hadn't already previewed. Here she is:

From her placement in the case, and her outfit, she is clearly a mercenary of some sort. As for what sort, well... we don't know anything for sure. I don't remember who, but someone told me that she's Llaelese, so that means that the Highborn Covenant will have a new solo exclusive to their contract. Otherwise, I think she's dressed a bit like a pirate, but who knows?

Another interesting thing they had at PAX was the Mark II quickstart rules. These include the finalized cards for the four battle boxes. There have been a few changes since the massive field test back in April.

The biggest change is that Denegra has lost Dark Seduction entirely. It has been replaced by a strange spell called Influence that does something similar but in the opposite way. For 1 focus point, Denegra can now take control of a non-warcaster/warlock warrior model and make one attack with it. I can see some use in spamming this spell to make the back ranks of the Iron Fang Pikemen kill off the front ranks, but I'm still going to miss the longshot game-breaking ability to take over an enemy's cavalry unit.

Other than that, these cards don't look like they've got a lot of alterations to them. The defiler is still weighing in at a hefty 5 points, but has a spray attack, Sorscha's Icy Gaze does not freeze enemies that are immune to cold (from the box sets, that's just Sorscha).

The cards themselves look pretty nice. Overall, I'm still looking forward to Mark II.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Monsterpocalypse NOW from PAX

At PAX, I got to visit the Privateer Press booth. I spoke with some of the developers, one of them told me that they have all of the Monsteropocalypse sets built up through set nine, (although sets seven through nine are still subject to some change). No one let slip too much about things that aren't announced, so I didn't get any really terrific scoops.

I did get some pretty good photos of the Monsterpocalypse NOW miniatures.

The new Protectors:

The Elemental Champions still strike me as an odd concept. It seems like they summon a giant superhero to fight for them (Captain Planet style). It is a sort of cheesy concept, but Monsterpocalypse has a dozen cheesy concepts in it, so they should fit right in.

Also, they did a very good job on the minis.

The new Devourers:

I wasn't sure what to expect from the 50's giant bug faction. The cockroach that ate Cincinatti seems like he'd be right at home here. But no radioactive ants are comming. Instead, we've got a giant Rhinoceros Beatle and a praying mantis that reminds me just a little of a monster from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The new Invaders:

I was skeptical of the fish people. I really thought that they would be the worst faction of the bunch. But looking at them from here, I think they look fantastic. They have some very nice minis coupled with strong paintjobs on them. The second one does have a little Dagon flavor to him (but just a little) and you can see a few references to both Creature from the Black Lagoon and 20,000 leagues under the sea. I think these guys will be far more popular than I had anticipated.

The new Fiends:

This seems to be a cyper-moleman faction. Maybe they come from some films that I'm less familiar with, but they look the most original to me. The sculpts impress me quite a bit, the musculature is wonderful. I'm not really thrilled with their painting on these guys, but I can fix that myself.

I wonder if these guys are experiments gone awry or if they're some kind of invading force.

The new Collaborators:

Ok, these guys have the very best concept out there. They are the Mecha Godzilla faction, and that's just cool. So, we'll be seeing mecha versions of alot of our favorite monsters coming up. I can't wait for some kind of Mecha-Cthugrosh or even a mecha giant insect.

I'm not personally fond of their coloring, but since I'd repaint them anyway, that doesn't matter.

The new Radicals:

Giant Gorrillas. Yes, the film that started the genre needs some recognition here. So we have two King Kongs (I suppose one of them might be "son of Kong"). The sculpts are nice, their colorings are strong, and I guess that Green Fury has started developing weapons and equipment for the giant apes to use.

These two monsters don't look very different from one another. I wonder how much the giant ape concept is going to grow, because it is fine to have two giant gorillas with different poses, but by set 6 I want to see something very different.

This hyper is the only one that was featured in the case. I don't know if he's the ultra or if he's one of the event and prize hyper forms, but he looks very nice. I think he's clearly one of the best hypers we've seen.