A more beautiful Beast

Editor’s note: It’s been a while since I’ve written an article here, I know. It’s been a rough time for all of us, and I’ve been having some difficulty adjusting to everything. I’m doing fine, all things considered. When this all started, I thought it would be nice to spend some time indoors and focus on personal projects for a few weeks, and then things would get back to normal.

Yeah, about that. It’s been four months, and things aren’t looking like they are going to get back to normal any time soon. The pandemic has us all stressed out and even those of us who have a lot of time on our hands are finding it hard to concentrate on anything. While my mental health has probably suffered a little, I’m still lucky in a lot of ways in that I have a stable job that I can do from home, and I haven’t had any close friends or family come down with COVID-19. A lot of people are struggling hard right now, between a global pandemic and all the racism and political issues we are dealing with — issues that have always been there, but have been boiling over these past couple of months. It’s a stressful time for all of us, but it’s also a time when it is important try to be good to each other. Be nice, okay?

Except to fascists, they suck.

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Ah, scale creep. It’s a common thing in the world of miniature gaming – a company will start out by making their figures in a certain scale, but eventually the temptation to start models that are a little bigger and have a bit more presence on the table will kick in. It’s not necessarily bad – bigger, cooler, better-looking models are objectively a good thing – but for people with large collections, seeing the old next to the new can make the old models look bad.

Warmachine is no stranger to this issue. When they first launched the game, it was all metal models because plastic is for people who don’t have testicles or something. At least, that’s what it said on Page 5. These metal models may have been fine for the time, but next to newer plastic and resin releases, they look tiny and kind of… pathetic.

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Wow. This aged terribly, and given that 2003 wasn’t that long ago, it probably sucked when it was new as well.

Unfortunately, not every model in their catalogue has been updated. In some cases, the community adapted. Guides existed online for enterprising Khador players to make a better-looking Behemoth out of various parts from the Privateer Press bits store, though PP did eventually come up with a resculpt. However, there remains one warjack in the Khador stable that desperately needs a resculpt – that is Beast 09, Sorscha’s character warjack.

Beauty and the Beast

Beast 09 is supposed to be a badass. An aggressive, ruthless, killing machine that strikes fear into the hearts of anyone in its path. With a giant axe, it cuts swaths through flesh and metal enemies alike, wrecking anyone and anything that gets in its way. Unfortunately, these qualities do not carry through into the model when you place it on the tabletop.

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See how badass he looks in the official art?

There are two issues here, namely that the sculpt that had some problems back in the day, and it did not age well in the twelve or so years since it was released. Like many of the old metal warjacks, as soon as the first plastic warjacks came out, they immediately looked tiny, obsolete, and not very intimidating on the tabletop. These issues are compounded by the fact that the pose is very squat and not very dynamic, with the knees bent, making it look even shorter than it actually is. And… is it just me or is it weird that the axe has an icicle hanging off of it? You would think the icicle would immediately break off as soon as you swing it, especially that swing connects with a Cygnaran warjack.

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This sculpt isn’t horrible on its own, aside from the dumpy pose, but next to any other warjack, Beast-09 looks more like Beast-0.9

Like with the old Extremoth, the answer to this issue is a conversion. Sure, you can probably do a conversion using a regular Juggernaut kit, but this is Beast 09 we are talking about here – as a character warjack, it should have more table presence than your regular, non-character warjacks. Using an Extreme Juggernaut as a base, you can make something that, in the absence of a huge-based model, can be a centerpiece of your army.

What you will need

For this project, you will need a few things. Since Beast 09 is basically an upgraded Juggernaut, the Extreme Juggernaut (PIP 33115) is a natural starting point. In addition, you will need a few bits from your collection or the PP bits store. These include:

Black Ivan upgrade kit (PIP 33087) – you will need two spiked shoulder pieces as well as two of the claw bodies. Each kit comes with two of the shoulder pieces and one of the claw bodies, so you might be better off just buying two of these these kits and throw the leftover parts in your stash of bits.

Torch upgrade kit (PIP 33082) – the medal on Torch’s chest makes a good stand-in for Beast’s decorations; this is something you can probably get from the bits store though, unless you need the other parts for another project.

Spikes – when you are trying to make a warjack look badass, festooning it with spikes is a good idea. I used ones from my stash, but I think they were a couple Berserker spikes from the old metal sculpt and a sprue of metal Drago spikes. They’re just good to have around in your bits box, and adding a few bucks worth of spikes to your PP orders once the bits store reopens is a good way to source them.

In addition to your usual tools for working with metal warjacks, like a pin vise, drill bits, and glue, you will also need some basic sculpting and scratchbuilding supplies. These include:

Some brass rods and tubes

Plasticard/sheet styrene of various thicknesses

Meng rivet setthese are good for adding or replacing rivets, and are useful in a lot of conversions like this. Simply shave off the rivet from the plastic sheet with a knife and glue it onto the model.

Putty – I recommend Apoxie Sculpt as it is more easily workable than Milliput, but files and sands a lot better than green stuff or brown stuff

Tools – files, sanding sticks, and a saw.

Don’t Skip Leg Day

It’s natural to want to start with the legs, and one of the first things you will notice when you do so is that Beast 09 has some additional details on the legs not present on the juggernaut. Fortunately, you can add most of this detail with sheet styrene. Simply take some thin pieces, cut them roughly to shape, and glue them to the plate. Then, using a knife and some files, remove the excess overhang over the edges of the armour plate. Finally, add some rivets.

The tow rings can be added by taking a piece of plastic tube, cutting a small piece off the end, and sanding down the edges so it resmebles more a donut than a section of pipe. Glue that on, then simply sculpt a little ring to hold it on.

On the center plate, start by filing it flat. Some small bits of styrene tube can be used for the edges, and you can cut the runes on the plaque out of sheet styrene. The same process as we used on the thigh pieces can be used for the row of armour plate on the bottom, and more rivets can be added.

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On the back, you will also notice that in place of the butt-flap armour plate, Beast 09 has some square chunky parts. I built these up with thick pieces of plasticard, then filed and sanded it into shape. After attaching it to the body with super glue, I filled in the gap with Apoxie Sculpt and smoothed it out. This may not be necessary because it’s hardly noticeable, but I think it’s a nice touch.

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Warjack butts. L-R: Studio Juggernaut, Studio Beast 09, and my conversion. Sorry, I forgot to get a pre-primer shot.

Also, I did some work to change the pose of mine in order to make it more dynamic, balancing the entire model on the ball of one foot as though it was charging forwards. You don’t have to do this, but if you do, make sure it is securely pinned not only to the base, but that the foot is securely pinned to the leg.

Torso Time

The torso on Beast 09 has a few distinctive elements that we want to add. Most distinctive are the additional spikes in the shoulder area. The shoulder spikes from Black Ivan make a good substitute, though there are a few things you need to do to get them to fit nicely. Since the Black Ivan spikes are located using the rivets that are molded into the body, I find the best way to line them up is to use one of the rivets to locate them and file the rest off as they won’t line up with Black Ivan’s. The curve doesn’t quite match, so there will be some filing and putty work to blend these spikes into the rest of the body. Finally, the armour plate that these spikes are attached to on Black Ivan has rounded edges, while Beast is much more square. To address this, you can build up the corners with Apoxie Sculpt, filling out the rounded edges, then file them back down so they are square as opposed to rounded.

While you have the Apoxie Sculpt out, it’s also a good time to deal with the plaque around the neck that has the symbols on it. Simply use your putty build up the collar area, then once it dries and you have it sanded smooth, you can use small plasticard rods to make the edges. Then, carve some runes into the plaque using your scribing tool of choice. For the medal, I simply used Torch’s medal and made a couple ribbons out of plasticard, then pinned it in place on what would be the chest area.

Finally, Beast 09 has the Khador symbol on that top piece of armour plate. I didn’t want to try sculpting it, so instead I threw on some of Drago’s spikes so I would at least have something cool there and it wouldn’t be blank, and I think it definitely looks more intimidating than the original. I also didn’t bother with the additional detail on the smoke stacks, as I didn’t have a particularly good way to make six identical curved pipes for the exhaust tips and thought it looked good enough without them.

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To Arms!

If you want, you can probably get away with simply using the arms that came in the Extreme Juggernaut kit, but I didn’t think they looked quite right. The Extreme Juggernaut has some very rounded elements to the armour plate on its arms, while Beast is a little more square and boxy looking. We can address this be replacing the hand parts from the Extreme Juggernaut with the claw body of Black Ivan.

First, you will need to remove a section of Black Ivan’s claws, using a saw and a file to get rid of it. Then, pin the claws of Black Ivan to the forearms of the Juggernaut. This will look a little weird as the forearms are rounded but the claws or square, but you can fix that with putty – on the armour plate on the Juggy next to where it meets up with the claws, build up the rounded areas where the corners should be, then file and sand it back down in a more square shape. Add some rivets and maybe a spike, and you’re in business.

Finally, pin the fingers of the Juggy in place onto the claw body of Black Ivan. These fit decently as they are about the same size as Black Ivan’s claw fingers, however it will need a little bit of putty to make them mate up properly.

Axe to face!

Since I wasn’t a fan of the icicles on the original Beast 09 sculpt, all I had to do with the axe was extend the shaft a little to represent the 2” reach on Beast as opposed to the 1” reach of the Juggernaut. Remove the existing shaft, and replace with brass tube – it’s a pretty simple conversion, and it will give you the added benefit of a straighter, stiffer axe shaft that is less likely to get bent or broken. In addition to using a second tube to incorporate a bit of detail, I made sure to drill all the way through the axe head and allow the shaft to poke through the top of the axe a little, just to make it look a little more interesting.

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Final steps

That’s it for the conversion process; the rest is just assembly. Since the shoulders, elbows and waist are ball-jointed, you do have some flexibility in the pose. I find that, like with many warjacks, it’s a little easier do a sub-assembly, with a pin in the waist, so you can paint the legs separately. From there, it’s just a matter of priming, painting and basing, which I did using my usual techniques plus some playing around with oil paints.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Beast 09 is the Khador model that is the most badly needs a resculpt. I was hoping we might get one when they released Sorscha3 and the new Man-O-War models, but sadly, it was not to be. Fortunately, it’s something you can do on your own with an Extreme Juggernaut, some spare parts, and some basic scratchbuilding skills.

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One of these things is more extreme than the other…

 

Bonus Content: Léa

Lately, I’ve been playing around with doing figures in unusual light settings, such as at night with some sort of OSL as the main light source. This is my first try at doing it on a large-scale model such as a bust.

The model itself is from Ouroborous Miniatures Exquis kickstarter. Exquis was a series of busts of normal, modern-day women, which I went in on for Léa and Yon. The subjects were interesting and unique, the sculpts were good, and the casting was the quality I expect for a resin display model — some small mold lines to clean up, but overall pretty good. I was most impressed with the turnaround time on the kickstarter. If I remember correctly, I got my product only a couple months after the kickstarter closed, which is a pretty impressive turnaround time. I’d have no qualms about recommending Ouroborous Miniatures kickstarters in the future, as you’re not going to end up waiting for a while unlike certain failed kickstarter projects.

Anyways, this sculpt spoke to me the story of a lost girl or a runaway, so I decided to paint her as though she is lit by a streetlight at night. To set the scene, I built a backdrop, painted it black, and stippled on some a little bit of light everywhere but directly behind her, which would be in her shadow.

I think it turned out fairly well — it’s probably not perfect, but it’s also the first time I’ve done something like this. I’ll definitely be playing with this sort of thing some more, though in the meantime I have some other challenging projects on the go so I probably won’t return to it for a little while.

Siege Strider: I hate painting horses

Yep, it’s true. The one thing that annoys me about miniature painting is painting horses. I’m not good at it and I don’t enjoy it. So, last year, when Privateer Press announced that their new releases for Khador would be chariots, I was initially a little disappointed, because that meant I would have to paint up some horses.

Fortunately, the part of my brain that thinks of dumb conversion ideas rescued me from this fate and decided to instead deliver me from the frying pan of painting horses and into the fire of expensive, possibly ill-conceived conversions.

I’m not sure where the inspiration came from, to be honest, but one of my miniature painting weaknesses is that once I get an idea for a conversion in my head, it’s hard to shake it until it’s done. So, Siege Strider it was. And, since I’m a glutton for punishment and a completionist when it comes to my Khador collection, I needed to make two Siege Striders.

Supplies

Of course, the first thing I needed to do was source the parts. Basically, this a kitbash of two boxes, the Siege Chariot and the Storm Strider. I used the legs and lower body of the Storm Strider, combined with everything but the horses on the Chariots. Also, a random assortment of plasticard sheets and tubes, which are very useful when doing these very mechanical conversions.

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I ended up using a few different glues and putties. I used brown stuff for general filling work, but switched to milliput for areas that I was going to need to sand to make smooth, flat surfaces. Finally, I also used a bit of “sprue goo” — that is, some plastic sprues dissolved in Tamiya Extra Thin — to fill gaps and glue together pieces of plasticard that weren’t quite coming together perfectly.

Finally, I got a pack of rivets and bolt heads from my local hobby shop. These are made by Meng primarily for automotive dioramas and come in various sizes. Simply shave them off the flat plastic piece they come on with a scalpel and glue them to the model. The advantage to this over doing something like dots of glue is that you get a uniform rivet size, which is close enough to what makes sense, especially when you need to add 263 rivets…

The Chariot

While the legs were the most important part of this conversion, there were a few things that needed to be done on the chariot. First, since we aren’t going to need wheels on this thing, I filled in the wheel wells with putty and plasticard and sanded them smooth, after which, I continued the line of rivets along the bottom of the side all the way across where the wheel well was.

I was left with the area where the axles for the wheels go in, and while I could have removed them as well, I decided on a different approach. I scratchbuilt a series of tubes out of plasticard tubes, putty, and those Meng rivets and connected them to the outriggers. The ends of the outriggers were cut off and replaced with some more tube stock, modified to turn them into exhaust pipes. With that done, I removed the attachment for the tow bar and filed that area smooth, and added a thick piece of flat plasticard to the bottom where it attaches to the legs.

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Modifications to the chariot. Note the wheel wells and scratchbuilt exhaust system.

Apart from that, it all went together in a pretty standard fashion, with some cleanup on the resin parts and some pinning. For ease of painting, I left the driver, shield, and gun in separate sub-assemblies to be done later.

The Legs

The legs were from the Storm Strider, but they had to be heavily modified to remove some of the Cygnaran influence. Cygnar models tend to be very rounded and often feature plasma conduits and electrical doodads. Khador has a more utilitarian feel, with more sharp corners and boxy shapes and tends to resort to raw power more than fancy electro-weapons. While most of the legs could have passed for any of the main Warmachine factions, the feet of the Storm Strider were distinctly Cygnar.

So, the first thing I did was shave and file off the little electro-pimples, because those just don’t fit in Khador. With those out of the way, it was time to scratchbuild some armour plate to go overtop of the existing filed-down feet. I started by playing around with some paper and cardboard, cutting and folding until I figured out the shape that I wanted. Once I got that sorted out, I made a template out of cardboard, from which I could cut out pieces of styrene. These were then scored and folded along the edges and roughly glued together using sprue goo.

Once I had the basic shape of the armour, I used plenty of putty and glue to attach it to the legs, covering up what remained of the rounded parts. I also made some covers for the top part, again out of plasticard. All this plastic origami ended up giving me the basic shape if what I wanted, and after backfilling it with milliput, I was able to file and sand down the rough edges to get the shape just right.

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Left, leg after electro-pimples filed off. Right, leg with armour plate overtop, and some sanding and filing done to smooth it out.

From there, I had to add some surface detail. So, I printed off some Khador symbols and traced them onto a piece of plasticard, then cut them to shape. Finally, I festooned the edges with rivets to add that Khador industrial feel.

With the feet done, it was just a matter of pinning and gluing everything together. I also had to scratchbuild some pipes, pistons and tubes in between the center section where all the legs come together and the body of the chariot in order to raise it up so the legs nicely clear the body.

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Ready for the paint booth…

Painting

With all the conversion work done, it was time to paint. For this project, I chose to paint in sub-assemblies, with the legs, body, driver, gun and shield being separate parts to be joined later. I did a zenithal prime with black and white Stynylrez, then sprayed some sections in pink, masked off a couple feet and a couple stripes, then brought out the purple. As usual, highlights and shade colours were applied to accentuate the contours of the model, using the same colours as the rest of my Khador army which I have discussed many times on this blog. From there, it was a matter of brush painting all the rest, adding weathering, and putting it all together.

Conclusions

Did I mention that I don’t like painting horses? Well, I don’t, and thanks to some scratchbuilding and some crazy ideas, I ended up with something unique and cool. And, with some of the spare parts, I was able to make a couple neat terrain pieces that can be used in narrative scenarios or simply to spruce up your battlefield.

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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.

 

 

Fixing your pikemen

The Iron Fang Pikemen, whether they are in their vanilla or Black Dragon version, are one of the bread and butter units for a Khador player. They hit fairly hard, have reasonably decent stats, and between the UA, solos, and soon-to-be-released Sofiya Skirova, there are a lot of buffs available to them. Not to mention that there is a whole theme based around them, and a number of casters which excel at delivering them to their destination.

There is one problem, however, and that is the spears. If you have an older metal kit, you’ve got some very fragile spears that will bend and break if you dare take them to the FLGS for a game. If you have the newer plastic kit, they will just look droopy. Either way, you end up with either broken or just plain bad looking models. Then you start a game and run into even more problems.

The big problem when it comes to play with these IFP is that they are a melee unit with the shield wall unit, so they usually want to either be base to base with each other to get the benefit from shield wall, or getting up close to the enemy to stab them. Unfortunately, when we combine the long spears which overhang the base, a desire to be base to base with each other or up close to the enemy, and the occasionally ridiculous level of precision that the average Warmachine player is used to, we run into a bit of a problem. It’s actually quite difficult to place them down on the table where they need to go because those spears get in the way, and that can cause unnecessary frustration, and, if you’re playing on a clock, burn your clock time.

Fortunately, there is a way to solve both of these problems, and it works for both the metal and the plastic IFP.

Repose and brass rod

The best way to fix the issue with droopy or bendy spears is to replace the spears with brass or steel rods. These will be a lot straighter than the plastic spears, and a lot stiffer and more durable than the metal spears. However, if we’re doing that anyways, we can also repose them, such that they are holding their spears vertically, pointed upwards towards the sky, rather than downrange. The pose will still look pretty natural, and they will still look like pikemen with long reach, but the spears will no longer get in your way on the tabletop.

How to do this

In order to do this, you are going to need a few tools. A jeweler’s saw, a knife, a file, some pinning supplies, and a bit of green stuff or your putty of choice is going to be necessary in order to do this properly, in addition to the lengths of approximately 2mm brass or steel rod you’re going to need for the spears.

Before doing anything, cut the rod to the appropriate length. You can make these spears any length you wish, but if you want to stick to the original length, cut them a little longer than the original spear shaft, as they will be extending into the end pieces.

arm.jpgThen, you’re going to need to cut up the spears a little bit. Cut them away on either side of the hand and then cut off the end pieces, as shown by the red lines in the picture. You can throw out the spear, but keep the arm and the end pieces. Since we’re going to be drilling at these cut lines, it’s best to file down the remaining pieces, just so you have a nice flat spot to start drilling into, which will make positioning your holes easier.

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Don’t lose these end pieces…

From there, we can start drilling out the holes for where the brass rod goes. For the end pieces, this may be a little tricky because they are so small and you have to be fairly precise on both centering your hole and drilling at the right angle, otherwise you will either end up not having enough room for a big enough hole to insert the brass rod, or have the bit come out the side on the bottom pieces.

As a result, what I like to do is start by making a tiny divet with the tip of an exacto knife, right in the center of the piece. Then, I can start drilling with a small drill bit to get the hole started, and widen it to a smidgen more than 2mm by switching to an appropriately sized drill bit. Perhaps I just have some dull drill bits that need replacing, but I find this much easier than trying to go at it with a 2mm bit right from the start.

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A hole for a spear

Next, we’re going to need to make a space in the hand for the spear. For this, we’re going to need to drill out the remnants of the original spear using the same technique as we did for the end pieces. You can leave either a hole or a U-shaped channel to insert the spear into. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but so long as you don’t completely mangle the hand and leave a nice surface to glue the spears on later, it’s good enough.

Anyways, with those done, we can put the spears aside and get to work on the meat of these conversions — reposing the arms.

Reposing the arms

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The original poses of the bodies without arms

In order to get these spears pointed vertically, we’re going to have to repose the right arm of the figures. There are four techniques we can use to do this:

  1. Hot water bending (plastic only)
  2. Cut and bend (metal only)
  3. File and pin
  4. Pin and rotate

Hot water bending is the simplest, however it will only work on your plastic models. Simply dip the model in some hot water so the plastic becomes pliable, repose the arm to the position you want, and then dunk it in cold water to fix it. This is quick and easy, and doesn’t require any pinning or green stuffing, so if you can get away with it, do it.

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How to cut and bend

The metal equivalent is the cut and bend technique, which is useful for changing the position of elbows and hands. What you will want to do is take your jeweler’s saw and make two cuts into the metal at the point you want to bend it. You will want to make a V-shaped cut on the inside of the bend, and a straight cut on the outside. The V-shaped cut is so that you can remove enough material to actually bend the piece. Once you’ve cut away enough that the remainder of the material will bend fairly easily, simply bend it to its desired shape. Fill the gaps with green stuff or your modelling putty of choice, and as long as you left enough material, you should have a strong joint without having to do any pinning. This can be done on elbow and wrist joints to change the angle.

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The original (left) and the one with material filed off in preparation for pinning

Filing and pinning is another technique which is necessary on some of the metal models; mainly the ones holding the spears above their heads. This is simply a matter of making a pin joint at the elbow, but filing down one or both sides to change the angle of the joint from the original sculpt to the desired angle. In the picture shown, we can see how by removing material from the elbow, we can change the angle of the attachment to the arm. Then simply pin the forearm to the body as usual, at this new angle.

Finally, one can pin the model at its intended joint, but rotate the piece around the pin to get a new angle. This is useful on a lot of the shoulder joints, particularly on some of the plastic models, where simply rotating the arm around the shoulder will get a fairly realistic pose of a model holding the spear vertically.

All of these techniques, with the exception of the hot water bending, will likely require some use of green stuff. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to replicate the chain mail armour that these pikemen are wearing by inserting a blob of green stuff and poking it a bunch of times with a hobby knife to get a decent approximation of the intended texture, and most of these joints are in places that are not super noticeable such as armpits and the inside of elbows.

Finishing up

From here, it’s a simple matter of arming your pikemen. Take some super glue and glue the shaft of the spear to the hand and then glue the end pieces onto the spear. If you have a big enough hole for the spear that you have a little play, you may need to wiggle the spear around a little to get it just right. From there, simply slap on some shields, prime, and paint, and you’ll be enjoying your pikemen in no time!

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The “finished” product

Conclusion

Iron Fang Pikemen are a great unit and a pretty good sculpt, however they are let down by the spears getting in the way on the tabletop and bending and breaking. I suspect PP recognized this, as when they released Sofya Skirova, they had her posing with the spear held vertically. Also, I’m not sure whether they used a different alloy or simply made it thicker, but her spear doesn’t really bend like those of the old-school metal pikemen.

Anyways, this is a conversion that will likely appeal to both the hobby gamers and the hardcore tournament crowd, as nobody wants to fiddle around with their pikemen while the deathclock ticks down. If you want to get your pikemen on the table without those spears getting in the way, definitely consider making this modification and it will make playing your Legion of Steel list a whole lot easier.

 

Simple Custom Warmachine Flag

In Steamroller, the standard tournament scenario packet for Warmachine, there are a number of scenario elements, including zones, objectives, and flags.  Usually players just use a round disk or extra base in the appropriate size, but creating your own custom objectives is a good way to add a little visual interest to the tabletop and make your battles look a little more cinematic.  Here, I’ll show you how to create a simple statue that can serve as a flag marker in SR2017, which uses only some simple techniques such as basecoating, dry-brushing, and washing.

For this, you will need:77303_w_1.jpg

  • A 40mm Base
  • A Male Paladin (77303) from Reaper
  • A Warmachine infantry model that would look good as a statue
  • Your usual modelling supplies (brushes, glue, pinning supplies, etc)
  • A few paints, including a dark purple, some dark brass colours, some greys, a dark wash, and GW’s Nihilakh Oxide

The first step is to assemble your model.  Take a sharp knife and separate the Male Paladin from the base that comes with the figure, and then throw the figure himself in your bits box.  We don’t need him; we’re using the base that he comes on as a plinth for the statue, which should fit perfectly onto a spare PP 40mm base.  Glue the plinth onto the statue, and then pin your model on top, trying to cover up the area which the Paladin was kneeling on.  Make sure you clean the mold lines well, because with the techniques we’re going to be using, any missed mold lines will stick out like a sore thumb.

From there, you can prime your model and start by base coating your model with a very dark purple.  I’ve used Reaper’s Nightshade Purple, which is just a hint away from black.  Rarely when painting miniatures do you want to go all the way to a straight black, and I feel that purple shadows tends to give some nice contrast with brass things.

IMG_1964.JPGNext up is a heavy drybrush with a dark brass colour.  I used P3’s Deathless Metal, which is one of the new paints in their Grymkin set.  This, along with their purple ink, were the new paints I was most looking forward to.  As a very dark brass metallic, it is a welcome addition to their line.  I suspect it will be very useful for true metallic metal techniques as it extends the range of their top-notch gold metallics into something much darker.  Now, if only they would replace their terrible, terrible paint pots with some nice dropper bottles…

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Finish up with a light drybrush of a slightly lighter brass colour, such as P3’s Molten Bronze, and we’ve got a great start for our bronze statue.  At the same time, feel free to start working on the plinth, base coating it grey, then giving it a dark wash and dry-brushing it back up to really show the shadows and highlights on the stone.

Now, on the statue, we could stop here, but I wanted to give it a more aged look.  One thing with these copper/brass statues is that over time, they tend to oxidize and form a green patina which you can see on all sorts of old statues.  Fortunately for us, there is an easy way to apply this effect.  Grab a pot of GW’s Nihilakh Oxide, which is one of their technical paints (a line specifically designed to make certain effects such as blood spatter, rust, etc. easy to create) and, well, I’ll let Duncan explain the next steps.

Finish off the stone, clean up the base edge, add a layer or two of varnish and maybe some vegetation around the edge, and we’re in business!  We’ve got a great little flag marker that can add a little more visual interest to your tabletop than a round disc or extra base.  And, in a pinch, you can just drop it on top of a large base to serve as an objective.

Since we’re using a lot of simple techniques such as washing and drybrushing, you can easily and quickly bang out some nice looking flags for your next Warmachine game!

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