The importance of hobby cross-pollination

Whether I’m painting my miniatures or slaving away at the numbers factory, I like to have a podcast on in the background to keep me focused and prevent myself from being left alone with my thoughts. One of the newer ones in my feed is a scale model podcast aptly, if not particularly creatively, named the Scale Model Podcast. In the most recent episodes, he had Jon Bius as a guest. During their conversation, Jon discussed his experiences with starting out building almost exclusively aircraft and then moving into non-traditional subjects such as Gundam and Warhammer models. That got me thinking a little more about what I like to call hobby cross-pollination; that is, looking for the common ground between similar but disparate hobby communities.

Hobby groups

When I step back, look around, and ask myself “who makes little versions of things out of plastic,” I generally see a few disparate hobby groups. First, there are what I like to call the traditional scale modellers – the often-greying folks who make up groups like the IPMS and who build mainly historical subjects such as cars, tanks and military aircraft. There are the gundam guys, who are younger and into anime and build mecha models from their favourite Japanese cartoons. You have wargamers who build and (hopefully) paint their armies, and figure painters who are often ex-wargamers that at some point discovered they were bad at wargames. There are also model railroaders, toy soldier collectors, whoever keeps buying those Space:1999 kits, and likely some others that I don’t even know about.

The catch is that all too often, these people have their own groups and rarely talk to each other. The gunpla guys have their own clubs, as do the traditional scale modellers and miniature painters. They also all tend to do things just a little differently; for example, armour modellers do great weathering and add lots of little photoetch bits, while figure painters tend to focus more on rendering light and shadow in their pieces. Traditionalists may turn their noses up at models that look too “cartoony” for their tastes, while the gundam guys literally make giant robots from a cartoon. Figure painters use almost exclusively acrylics, while people who work in other genres use a lot smellier and worse tasting paints.

There is just so much that these groups can learn from each other that it’s a shame that they tend to self-segregate and these unique skills don’t get spread around. There are plenty of techniques that I picked up from IPMS members that I use to weather my big stompy robots. Also, there is just a certain cool factor in seeing what each other is doing; when all you see is space marines, a finely detailed Spitfire is a breath of fresh air.

Additionally, some of these groups can use either a bit of fresh blood or some old hands to teach some tricks. One of the perhaps slightly morbid things that Jon and Stuart discussed on the podcast was that given the remaining life expectancy of the average IPMS member, the industry that supports their hobby may struggle in coming decades as their customers literally start dying off. Some people get a little melodramatic about it and start wondering if their hobby and industry is dying. However, if you step back from your Tamiyas and Hasegawas for a moment, you will see that Bandai sells millions of Gundam kits a year and Games Workshop is the best-performing company on the London Stock Exchange. Maybe modelling isn’t dying; rather, younger modellers are just not as interested in cars made 30 years before they were born and military vehicles from a war that ended 75 years ago. But those younger modellers are still interested in the techniques they can learn from the old guys and their decades of experience in the hobby.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there are organizations that cater to all of these groups as they all have their own specialized interests. A lecture on the changes in the rivet patterns on the glacis plate of the Panzer IV between the early-war and late-war variants is something that is going to be very interesting and valuable for only one of those groups, and perhaps the gunpla guys can skip that meeting. And, if you’re only interested in Swedish military aircraft of the WW2 era and are having a blast building them, then maybe you shouldn’t feel pressured to make one of those newfangled gumdan things unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous one day. But sometimes it seems like a shame that the hobby of “making little plastic versions of big things” is so compartmentalized and that people tend not to venture outside their little boxes a whole lot.

My story

When I joined my local IPMS chapter, I have to admit I was a little anxious at first. In part, that was due the background social anxiety that I deal with on a daily basis and the awkward feelings surrounding being the one new guy in the room, but there was a little more to it. I had a couple model airplanes in the stash, but I hadn’t actually built anything that falls into traditional scale modelling since I was about 13. Further, there was a definite demographic difference, which is a polite way of saying that the average age in the room was about twice my own. Finally, there were some other little differences as well that were palpable.

To better explain by way of an analogy, it felt a little like showing up with a tuned-up Honda Civic to a meeting of a classic car group. While it’s fundamentally the same thing – making cars look cool and go fast – there is a bit of a cultural and language difference that can make things awkward. Traditional scale modellers focus more on references and accuracy, while people with a fantasy wargaming background don’t usually worry about getting the exact shade of German panzer grey and instead try for bright contrasting colours that look good from across a 4’x6’ table. One group talks about brands like Tamiya, Airfix, and Mr. Hobby, the other group refers to Games Workshop, Reaper, and Privateer Press. 1/48 or 30mm scale. Unbuilt kits versus unpainted miniatures. Glue-sniffers versus brush-lickers. And so on.

However, instead of being a bunch of crotchety old guys and self-appointed gatekeepers of the hobby, the local group was very friendly and welcoming. They didn’t turn their noses up at my weird pink and purple Khador models, and were genuinely interested in some of the techniques I used. And on my end, despite not actually building model airplanes in a long time, I still had a genuine interest in the subject that goes back to my childhood and my couple years working on 1:1 scale airliners. I like to think that we both learned a lot from each other; I learned a lot about weathering, scratchbuilding, and decals** and actually picked up a couple aircraft kits for my stash. On the flip side, I gave a presentation on painting figures to the group and sold someone a Reaper C’thulhu that he enjoyed and did some nice work on.

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Pictured: not a T-34

Conclusion

One of the strange things about the hobby of “making small versions of things out of plastic and painting them” is that there is often this segregation between traditional scale modellers, wargamers, and gunpla guys even though they are all doing basically the same thing. A little cross-pollination is good for everyone as people can learn new techniques from each other and inject a little fresh blood into each other’s groups. And that can start with you – if you’re a wargamer, go to an IPMS meeting and ask someone how they did the weathering on their tank. If you’re a traditional scale modeller, try a gundam kit or a space marine. And if you’re a Gundam guy, check out how the Warhammer crowd paints their big titans.

Look into other aspects of the hobby, and you’ll probably have fun, meet new people, and you might even learn a thing or two.

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Pictured: A well-balanced hobby diet. Don’t hate me for the Cygnar model in the top right; I swear I only bought it for parts for a conversion.

 

** A little post-script that illustrates the point of this article. There generally aren’t a lot of decals in figure painting or fantasy wargaming; while there are some included in Games Workshop kits, there is a lot more freehand painting in wargaming. So, when I decided to finish painting my first airplane in 15 years, I thought it would be an appropriate subject for an IPMS build day. Since I spent about three dollars on a kit from Communist-era Poland mainly just for something to spray when I started out airbrushing, the decals had long since yellowed and gone completely useless. So, I did what made sense to me — threw them out, googled the plane on my phone, found a nice three-view, and freehand painted all the markings. Which turned out to be quite the shock to some of the other modellers present; I’m still not sure whether they were more shocked that I was mad enough to say something like “these decals are no good; I’ll just hand-paint all the markings” or that it actually turned out not half bad.

Sector Mechanicus: My 10 step method for awesome looking industrial terrain

As part of my foray into Necromunda, I ended up eventually breaking down and getting the core Necromunda: Underhive box. While I parted with the Goliath sprues, due to a mispack that I had to go through GW customer service to resolve, I ended up with twice the terrain as usual, in addition to the massive pile that I bought because when I get into something, I go all in.

Of course, this meant that I needed to find a way to get all that terrain painted. Now, because it is terrain, that means that I could relax and just do something tabletop quality. Unfortunately, because I’m kind of anal-retentive about my miniatures, my definition of tabletop quality is a little different from most people’s, which can be both a blessing and a curse. After a little trial and error, I think I’ve hit on a pretty good method to banging out masses of pretty good looking terrain for the Sector Mechanicus/Zone Mortalis stuff that is commonly used for Necromunda.

So, I’m going to do my own version of a Warhammer TV Duncan Rhodes video. But, since I’m not as photogenic as our lord and saviour of two thin coats; I’m going to do it in my own style: an incredibly wordy article, and also forgetting to take pictures of all my steps.

Also, just as a warning, this method does involve heavy airbrush use. An all-purpose airbrush like the Patriot 105 is a great tool for this sort of work, especially when you’re trying to bang out a lot of terrain in a short time. If you don’t have an airbrush, you could probably adapt some of these techniques, but it may be a better idea to go look up one of the Duncan tip of the day videos. Just don’t think you need to stick to the Games Workshop family of products. Even in this guide, I mention a lot of specific products, but aside from a couple which are so good you probably should be using them anyways (Vallejo Metal Color for airbrushing metallics, for example), feel free to substitute paints from your favourite paint brand.

The Method

1. Clip it off the sprues and assemble it. Duh. The Zone Mortalis stuff is mostly one piece bulkheads that just need some feet glued on, so it’s easiest to just assemble it all up front. For the big complex Sector Mechanicus terrain pieces, it’s probably best to work in sub-assemblies where you have to but leave it unassembled for now where you can, but it’s not hard to figure out the best way to do something like this.

2. Prime it in Stynylrez black through the airbrush. You could use a rattle can of black primer if you want to, or airbrush a different black primer if for some strange reason your primer of choice isn’t Stynylrez. However, airbrushing primer is much easier than using a rattle can, and it can be done inside in all kinds of weather.

3. Airbrush it with a base coat of Vallejo Metal Color Steel or a similar dark silver colour. Someone asked me recently what the best acrylic silver paints were for airbrushing, and Vallejo Metal Color (Not Vallejo Model Air) is a great answer. It has nice fine pigments, sprays like a dream, and covers in one coat. Right now, it’s the only metallic paint that goes through my airbrush.

4. Pick out brass bits. One thing I like to do is incorporate some visual interest in big metal things by having a mixture of grey metals and brass. It’s why I like painting steampunk stuff so much; I get to throw in a lot of brass bits to add some contrast to my metals and machinery. I generally use P3 Molten Bronze for this, but you can use whatever brass paint you like.

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VMC Steel (airbrushed) and P3 Molten Bronze (brush painted)

5. First dry-brush. Get a nice, big, soft makeup brush and a bright silver and go to town. It doesn’t really matter too much if you get the silver on the brass bits; it can actually make for a nice effect as the highest highlight on brass should be silver anyways. Feel free to be heavy on the dry brushing here as we will be taking it down a notch in a later step, and those errant, chalky dry-brush marks that are why real hardcore srs bsns painters use more advanced techniques and leave dry-brushing to noobs (note: my tongue planted firmly in my cheek as I write this sentence) actually make for a decent representation of scratches and scrapes and other sources of visual interest. Don’t be afraid to really beat the devil out of it and take out your frustrations on this terrain.

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My weapon of choice

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Before (bottom) and after (top) the first dry brush. See the difference; it’s looking pretty good already.

6. Pick out non-metallic details. Things like wires, hoses, etc., which are non-metallic. We’re doing this after the first dry-brush because we don’t want to spend a lot of time picking these out only to hit them with our violent, heavy dry-brushing in step 5 and ruin out work. Do them in nice, vibrant colours; it’s better to err on the side of more vibrant, because we’re going to knock it back in the next step.

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Some non-metallic details such as the tanks and hoses picked out.

7. Wash time! Drop some Nuln Oil into your airbrush and spray. Using the airbrush to apply these GW shades is fun; you can build up the shade and let it get everywhere, and if you don’t go too heavy on the trigger, you don’t end up with the coffee staining issue you normally get when you try to apply the shade with a brush. For more visual interest, follow up with some Drakenhof Nightshade in some random areas to get a nice subtle worn mottled look between blue-grey and brown-grey, and/or something like Agrax Earthshade for brown patches.

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Post-wash, note how the washes really dulled it down.

8. Second dry-brush. With the same makeup brush, do a subtle, controlled dry-brush just to pick out some of the edges but without going all over and messing up your non-metallic detail. Focus on the upper portions of your bulkheads and supports and the like, so it looks like they are getting more direct sunlight.

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The effect is difficult to capture in photos, but the second dry brush can really help bring back some of the highlights which faded a little in the wash.

9. Add finishing touches. There are a few things you can do here to take it up to the next level. If your terrain piece is sticking out of the ground like the support pieces for the walkways, you can add some crud to the bottom where dirt, debris, and standing water during floods might congregate. I like to use Typhus Corrosion for this part, which is basically GW’s technical paint that consists of brown with bits of crud floating in it. Basically, apply it to the areas close to the ground with a big wet brush and feather it up and out. This will give the impression that the areas close to the ground have gotten dirty through years of flooding and add a little bit of dynamism and visual interest. If you want, you can also add a little green corrosion to your copper and brass bits with a touch of Nihilakh Oxide. If there are any lights on your terrain piece, you can get a cool, simple OSL effect by painting the light source white and then spraying some artist acrylic inks in the colour of your choice overtop, allowing the overspray to represent the reflected light. You will look like an awesome painter who takes the time to do super advanced and crazy difficult techniques like OSL on your terrain; just keep the fact that it was actually super easy between us.

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Some quick glow effects with white paint, an airbrush, and some artist inks.

10. Varnish. You’re going to be handing these terrain pieces a lot and you’re probably not going to take as good care of them as you do your army, so give it a coat of satin varnish, which is a nice happy medium between a bright shiny gloss and those super dull matte varnishes that makes you wonder why you even bothered using metallic paint in the first place. Again, I like to use my airbrush for this because it makes varnishing much easier than either trying to brush it on or use a rattle can.

The Results

From there, you can start assembling your terrain. I found it’s good to assemble it in modules; this way, you can build your table in multiple ways, but you aren’t taking an hour to quickly lego together some rickety terrain pieces every time you want to play. When you do this, it’s good to think about how pieces might logically go together. Furnaces and the like may have big smokestacks, which should be the tallest things on the table. Pipes shouldn’t go to nowhere, especially when they’re being placed vertically as supports for flooring. Terrain should have enough supports that it looks stable, which has the advantage of actually being stable and not collapsing onto your nicely painted miniatures. It also may be a good idea to make some concessions towards the practicalities of playing the game when you do this — where you place your ladders, how you can get nice cover, and how you can make your terrain such that it can be interacted with and is meaningful enough that it matters in-game, but not so unbalanced that whoever has this terrain piece on his side of the table basically gets a free win.

Finally, once you get it together, you may need to touch up a few areas with paint. Places where you got some glue where you didn’t mean to could use a little love. Further, with OSL and weathering, you may need to add a little bit more for it to make sense. For example, if you have a clean pipe coming out of a dirty tank, you may need to add some grime to the pipe to make it look more consistent. Or you may need to dry brush on a little more OSL if you end up with a glowing bit that is facing another surface.

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This is my terrain setup; it has a few major pieces, but can be arranged and rearranged in a number of ways. The two stories of the section with the large white tank is not glued on, so I can take it off and place it on the gaming surface to have two single story terrain pieces. Also, the large chimney on top of the white tank is removable, and the pipes can be arranged in any number of ways. I think I’m going to get a battlemat to go with it; I was thinking the Cryx Necrotite F.A.T. Mat would be a good choice as it would go with both Necromunda and Warmachine, and could be set up with forests and more natural terrain and not look too shabby either. I’ve also got some fully painted Zone Mortalis terrain; the sort that comes in the Necromunda: Underhive box painted with the same technique to go with it.

As you can see, this painting technique works quite nicely. You end up with some good looking terrain, but because the washes have dulled and blended some of the colours together, it has enough contrast that it still looks good, but not so much that it overpowers the miniatures, who should be the focus of the game.

This isn’t the only technique I used though; on some of the larger pieces, I also did some chipping using the hairspray technique. That would be its own article though. If you want to do this, I would suggest to do the chipped sections first and mask them off while you work on the rest of the terrain piece and be careful about your colour choice; orange and brown rust doesn’t contrast red paint very much.

Conclusions

When you’re painting large things, effective use of an airbrush can be key to getting it done fast and good. This technique here is a nice way to get some awesome looking terrain, but for your projects, you can feel free to adapt it any way you want. Picking out brass bits and other details is really the only time-consuming part of this project. I kind of went overboard on some of the details for mine, but if you just want to get it done up to tabletop standard, paring back on the amount of details you put into the brass and the non-metallic bits you picked out can be a real time-saver.

Good looking terrain is an aspect of miniature gaming that is often undervalued. As we naturally want to focus on getting our armies painted, terrain often lags behind in both painting quality and actually getting it finished. However, there is nothing more satisfying in the hobby than seeing two nicely painted armies duking it out on an attractive table.

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Paintlog: Pink and purple potpourri

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted some of my painting progress so this may be more of a paintdump than a paintlog. However, I’ve done a lot lately that I figure is worth sharing.

Man-O-War

This past June, Privateer Press released a lot of Khador Man-O-War models, which, as you might have guessed, immediately emptied out my wallet and filled my backlog. I’ve discussed these models previously, as I batch sprayed them with the airbrush then got to work, starting with the tankers and then moving on to the medium-based infantry models.

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Anyways, as mentioned in a previous article, I like to do alternate-gender conversions for some of my Khador models, both to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, increase diversity in my army, and put my own little subversive spin on things. Though, between Sorscha, the MoW Bombardier Officer, and some of the fluff in NQP #05, that may be less of a subversion and more of an accurate description of the Man-O-War corps.

IMG_0727.JPGAs a result, Atanas became Atanasija and Dragos became Dragana. Both were done using bald heads from Statuesque Miniatures. For Atanasija, I kept the hat from Atanas and attached that to the head and in both cases I sculpted the hair on with brown stuff. When it came to Dragana, I did a side-swept undercut, allowing me to add in a couple scars to represent the rough and injury-prone life of a Man-O-War, particularly one as renowned for bashing in the skulls of dirty Cygnaran invaders as her.

Atanasija, Dragana, and the standard bearer were all glorious models: nice and big with plenty of detail and some interesting textures to paint. I would go so far as to say that they have pushed aside the Greylord Forge Seer as the best model in Khador.

IMG_0726.JPGWhen it came to the standard, I knew I wanted to freehand something on there but I wasn’t sure what. After mulling it over for a few days, I eventually found inspiration from a slightly unusual source: the flag of the Republic of Angola. Replacing the machete with a hammer created something that had an air of Khadoriness to it. The Man-O-War Bombardier Officer, as one of the few new releases that isn’t actually a named character, was done up in a pretty standard paint scheme, albeit with the double pink shoulder pad to represent the fact that she is an officer, and some hazard striping on her weapon because believe it or not, when you combine a chainsaw and a grenade launcher, you get something that is actually quite hazardous.

Finally, we get to one of my two favourite characters from the Iron Kingdoms: Kommandant Sorscha Kratikoff. In this case, I chose to stick a little closer to the studio scheme than I usually do as I thought she would look good in white and stand out on the tabletop if I’m playing her with a sea of Man-O-War. Howeer, I did retain the pink and purple from my standard army colours. As I was painting her, however, I noticed something interesting about her pose. If you place her flat on the base as intended, she looks to be in a pretty defensive stance, with her feet planted, her weapons at the ready, and her left leg further back to provide support. However, if you lean her forward a little bit, the pose changes. Suddenly, she looks more dynamic, as though she is rushing forwards. And, given that her signature spell in the game is literally called Wind Rush which allows her to make an extra advance, the decision over whether to go with the studio pose or the leaning forward version was kind of a no-brainer.

So, that’s it for now for the Man-O-War. I also have the chariots, but I’ve got some conversions that straddle the line between stupid and stupid-awesome rolling around in my head, so they will probably be a winter project anyways.

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Butchers

IMG_0888.JPGI’ve never been a big fan of the Butcher; guys who go apeshit and murder their own soldiers aren’t exactly sympathetic characters in my book, and when it comes to his little dispute with Sorscha over who murdered who’s father in cold blood, I have to side with my lady Sorscha on this one. Further, when I got into Warmachine, the competitive scene for Khador started and ended with Butcher3 and something about both his playstyle and the idea that if I wanted to seriously compete I had to play Butcher3 rubbed me the wrong way. So, I can say that none of the Butchers have gotten into my gaming rotation, and that may not be likely to change in the near future.

Regardless, I just have to get them all painted. I’ve showed off Butcher1 before, but my Butcher2 and Butcher3 were both interesting conversions that I did a while ago only to have them sit on my shelf for over a year.

IMG_0891.JPGFirst, Butcher3 was fairly straightforward. I had a bad experience with Nyss Hunters back in Mk.II, so naturally, I decided to incorporate pieces of Nyss and a Retribution wreck marker into the conversion. I decided that the dog on the sandbags would be playing fetch, so I added a bow in one of his mouths and an arm in the other. For the other dog, I used the base that came in the package for Butcher and threw on a sword and a severed head because, again, it’s the Butcher, so I have to crank up the gore. Finally, for the Butcher himself, I noticed that the way his left hand was posed, it would be quite simple to add some sausage links to show him feeding his puppies, which I sculpted out of a paper clip and green stuff.

Butcher2_2Butcher2 was more complex. I figured that it might be time for another one of my gender-bending warcaster conversions, but I quickly ran into a problem. If I wanted her to be tournament-legal, I needed to make her out of at least 50% Privateer Press parts. The problem is that, at least at the time I started sculpting, I couldn’t find any female models in PP’s line that had quite the Butcherly presence that I was looking for. Fortunately, a solution presented itself in a somewhat strange place: the Trollblood warcaster Grissel. I figured if I just filed off any of the lumpy troll skin protrusions and found the right head to swap out, then I’d just have to do a simple weapon swap and do some sculpting here and there to make her look more like a Khador warcaster.

Butcher2_2Initially, I ran into the problem of Grissel being so large compared to the average 30mm model that I couldn’t find a head that didn’t make her look like a pinhead. Eventually, I found something that worked – a 40mm scale head from Hasslefree Miniatures from their Kalee model. This larger scale ended up being close enough to Grissel’s size that it worked.

With the head on the body and the weapon swap working out, the next step was Khadorifying the model a little. For this, I needed to sculpt or scratchbuild a few things to make her look less trollish and more Khador. She needed a few armour plates here and there, such as the shoulder pads and the metal loin cloth thing, to cover up some of the most egregious Trollblood details. and give more of a Khador vibe. I would need to sculpt the cape and make it look like the one seen on Butcher and several other Khador warcasters, with the rectangular plates with three buttons or rivets at the bottom. Finally, I’d need to add one of those special coal-fired warcaster backpacks and some fur around it.

All of this I did with sculpting putties such as brown stuff or milliput and bits of styrene here and there. The only exception was the spikes on the shoulder pads, which were from the PP bits store; I believe they were from the old metal Behemoth model. It was also largely done in layers; a lot of the time when you’re sculpting, it’s much easier to get the basic shape in first, let it dry, then do a second layer to get the details.

After the conversion was done, these models languished on my shelf for a while as I never actually played any of the Butchers, until we started getting close to the end of my campaign to clear off my shelf of shame. There wasn’t too much special about the painting; it was mostly just using the same techniques, styles and colour schemes that have been the mainstay for this army. The one thing I did try was the use of Molotow liquid chrome markers and the ink from them to make the very highest highlight nice and bright. They seem to be useful for true metallic metals, though I’m going to need to play around with them a bit more to see if they are something that I would recommend. Particularly, I want to see how they react to brush painting and blending, and how nicely they play with other acrylic metallics.

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Escher Gang

In the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into Games Workshop games in the form of Necromunda, which a few locals have been running. Suffice it to say, it has been an interesting and positive experience branching out, and there are aspects of the game that I find liberating compared to Warmachine, even if there are also some issues that I have with certain mechanics.

The two things that have stopped me from jumping into any of the Games Workshop games before are that I don’t really want to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into a second full-size army game, and that I haven’t yet found a faction in any GW game that really speaks to me aesthetically. I don’t like space marines, boxy tanks or gross nurgley things, and that wipes out a large portion of their line. I like to paint female models, and so many factions have a “no girls allowed” policy. And generally, if I don’t dislike a faction’s infantry, I despise their vehicles or vice versa. The blimpdwarves are okay, I guess, but apart from that, my impression of their style ranges from “ugh” to “meh.”

And then, they released House Escher for Necromunda, which is basically what happens when you give a roller derby team a bunch of guns. Between the mohawks, piercings, and cybernetic implants, GW basically nailed a lot of my tastes dead on with these models. I was immediately hooked, and picked up a box before I even knew anyone who was playing because I wanted the models so badly.

These were great models, though compared to a lot of other miniatures, they aren’t for the faint of heart. There are a lot of fairly small pieces; even the faces and heads are two different pieces. This allows for a lot of customization as once you get the legs and torso together, you can pretty much do what you want for the arms, face, and kick-ass mohawk. Fortunately, they are made of some nice hard plastic and clean up fairly easily, so you don’t need much more than your container of Tamiya Extra Thin to get to work and customize them to your heart’s content

When it comes to painting models like these — a somewhat rag-tag group operating outside of any formal military or anything like that, you want to give each model a little bit of individuality but also have something that ties them together. This goes double for the Eschers with their over the top punk aesthetic. So, I decided to take some common elements and put them in the same colour — their armour plates, chestpiece, and shiny leather boots. With those all the same, I had at least enough of a unified theme that I could go wild and make every model a different combination of hair, skin tone, and colour/pattern on their loin cloths.

As a result, I didn’t really do much batch painting on these. While I’m sure it would have been more efficient if I had, there was enough diversity from model to model that the benefits would have been minimal. Further, I just didn’t feel like it, preferring to at least get one or two more models fully painted before next week’s game.

One slightly odd thing I did was that I added a lot of brass to their guns; while extensive use of brass on guns isn’t very realistic as brass framed firearms went out of style over a century ago, I like mixing brass and steel on my metal bits and love the look of TMM brass with a nice deep purple shade.

Finally, I made myself a little display for them out of a few bits of the sector mechanicus terrain and some sheet styrene. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a nice little extra thing that allows them to have their own special place in my display cabinet.

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Upcoming projects

At the moment, I’m neck deep in Necromunda terrain, trying to get everything I have accumulated for the campaign nicely painted up. However, as I finish that project, I have a few things in mind to do next. First, of course, there is clearing off my shelf of shame. There are only seven models remaining: a unit of Greylord Outriders, a heavily converted Vlad3, and a customized Ruin that spontaneously disassembled after falling off my desk a few days ago. I also have a couple models that I’m planning on using as pets for Necromunda, as the real models don’t exist yet and even if they did, I’m not sure I want to pay Forge World prices for them.

In the stash, I have an Me-109B fighter kit that I want to do up in Spanish Republican colours, representing the one that they captured during the Spanish Civil War. I’ve been a little afraid of some of the small parts, photo-etch and cockpit details included in the kit, but I can’t keep avoiding it forever, especially not if I want to enter it in a themed contest coming up in February. Also, with the focus as of late being on banging out armies, it’s been a little while since I’ve done a display piece, so I’d like to work on either a small model or a bust once I clear my plate.

Finally, there is always finishing those probably ill-conceived chariot conversions. Or, I could just totally blow my new year’s resolution to manage the number of unpainted miniatures I own and totally splurge on sales from the likes of Reaper or Bad Squiddo, but I would never be so irresponsible, would I?

Oh wait, their miniatures come with free candy. Never mind then.

 

 

Sword and Brush 2018 – Retrospective

Well, it’s been almost a month since Sword and Brush, and I figured I should actually get this article out there before it fades too much from memory.

Sword and Brush, held annually in Toronto, is probably the largest and most premiere miniature and figure painting competition in Canada. This was my first time going, and also this year was the first time they have expanded to include some wargaming tournaments in the same room as the painting competition. The painting competition and miniature show took place basically all day on Saturday with tournaments running simultaneously, while Sunday was set aside for tournaments only.

In addition to the show and the tournaments, there were also vendors, raffles, classes, and a buy and sell table.

The Show

I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures, but the level of quality on display was nothing short of amazing. There was a great diversity of models on the table, from Napoleonics to fantasy to sci-fi. The vehicle categories were also a nice touch, particularly the TLAV that came away with the theme award. Without going into too much detail, here’s a dump of some stuff that I liked.

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Nemo bust from Privateer Press. Only problem is that Nemo is some Cygnaran jerkface.

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Nice tartan…

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Did someone say “busts”?

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What is this I don’t even…

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Cool black and white figures on a colour diorama

Classes

One of the planned classes this year had to be cancelled, however there were still two very good classes. James Craig did a class on weathering, showing off how to paint on chipping and scratches as well as fun tricks with chipping medium. Colin Arthurs did a class on sculpting where he went over every step in sculpting a Napoleonic figure. Both these classes were interesting, though I think I’m going to be trying out the weathering techniques in that class a lot sooner than I’m going to try to sculpt my own figures.

Tournaments

Most of the tournaments were for games that I didn’t play and didn’t have any models for, but the exception was Necromunda, which I’ve been getting into as of late. The initial idea was that “Necromunda by night” would be a little tournament, but after one incredibly long, bloody and brutal game, I think everyone was a little tired. I had a blast; lots of crazy things happened in the game such as my leader sniping out the opposing leader with a bolter before getting insta-killed by a mook with a needle rifle, and Jaana, my shotgun-wielding champion, punching someone to death who tried to sneak up behind her and shoot her in the back.

A big tip of the hat here goes to whoever provided terrain; with multi-level catwalks and plenty of cover, there was a lot of very impactful terrain on the table. The aesthetics of this sort of terrain is something that I tend to miss in Warmachine, which is my primary game and which is usually played with mousepads on a flat mat.

Convention haul

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I managed to pick up some interesting stuff, both by doing fairly well on raffles and by being a little bad and spending some money at the vendors and the buy and sell table.

First, I stopped at the Badger table and picked up a few things. I grabbed some of their Minitaire paints, which are a line of paints that I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the opportunity to yet. I haven’t used them very much yet, but they seem to shoot through the airbrush fairly well (which is to be expected from a paint line produced by an airbrush company) and, if you can pick them up at a con, are an insanely good deal on a dollars per milliliter basis. I also picked up some needle lubricant (protip: don’t store this next to your super glue; I almost had an airbrush maintenance disaster) and a high roller trigger for my Krome. If your Badger airbrush doesn’t come standard with this trigger like the Xtreme Patriot, then I would definitely recommending picking up one of these.

IMG_0773.JPGI also bought an International Brigade figure from the Spanish Civil War in 75mm scale from Bent Bristle Miniatures. The Spanish Civil War is a perhaps unappreciated conflict, and the various international volunteers who went to Spain to fight for socialism and democracy are all too often forgotten in their home countries. So, this was one rare case where a historical figure really jumped out at me and demanded that I fork over some money and paint it.

On the buy and sell table, I picked up a giant resin inn to use as a piece of terrain, which is quite possibly the largest chunk of resin I’ve ever seen. Also, there was a Bombardier Bombshell from Privateer Press on the table which I bought because of course I did.

Finally, I did pretty good in the raffles, coming away with a Cerberus model from Aradia Miniatures, and a piece of a saloon from Pegaso Models for use on a display base. The Cerberus is far from my usual jam as I tend to shy away from more beastly figures, but it could be an interesting project. As for the saloon, I’m going to have to find a 75mm scale steampunk wild west model for this thing, which, let’s face it, is probably something that I want to do anyways.

My results

I entered into three categories this year. Amy Johnson went into their historical category, and both my pile of new Man-O-War solos and Necromunda gang ended up in the wargaming unit category. Finally, I put about six or seven models into the fantasy category because that’s my focus.

As mentioned above, when they do the judging, you only get awards for what they consider to be your best models. I managed to come away with two silvers, for my Mary Read and Amy Johnson busts, respectively, and a bronze for my Man-O-War.

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I know I say a lot that you shouldn’t worry about how you place compared to others or chase trophies, but I was quite happy with my results. With all the amazing stuff on display, I ended up doing that thing where you put your stuff on the table, then worry that your stuff is worse than everyone else’s and you’re just embarrassing yourself. Turns out that was just self-hating artist talk. Silver is good, especially for a first time. It’s something to be proud of, but also leaves some room for growth.

Conclusion

Sword and Brush was a blast. Anyone who is interested in miniature and figure painting and who is within driving distance should definitely go. Even if you don’t think you’re good enough yet, then go and learn because with this level of competition, there’s no shame in going home empty-handed.