Initial thoughts: GSW Colorshift and Scale75 Metallics

As part of my hoarding of paints and tools, I’ve been trying out some new products lately, and figured I would share some thoughts on them. One caveat before I get into the reviews — I will include photos, but because of the nature of metallics and especially color shift paints, it’s going to be difficult to capture the effect on film.

Green Stuff World Colorshift

These paints are a little unusual. I’ve gotten all three sets, because every time I would see a new set at a show, I would jump at it, only for it to collect dust because I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Where I kept getting hung up was on shading and highlighting. When I do my metallics, I don’t like to just paint something silver and call it done. It has to be shaded and highlighted, just like the rest of the model. Shade and highlight colours are dictated by colour theory, which brings up an obvious issue. If I’m painting with paints that change colour depending on the viewing angle, just what colour am I supposed to use to shade and highlight something that is green some of the time and purple others?

Anyways, I had somehow manage to mangle the assembly of a Bandai HG ball gundam (no small feat, given how idiot-proof Bandai kits are), so I figured I woudl clean it up as best I could and use it as a testbed.

The instructions say that you are supposed to apply them over a gloss black primer for the best effect, which seemed a little odd to me. After all, the point of primer is to adhere to the model and provide a surface for the paint to adhere to, and a smooth, shiny surface is by nature going to have less tooth than a matte surface.

However, I did spot some gloss black Stynylrez at a hobby shop, so I figured I would give it a go. I’m not sure if it was the product or something I was doing wrong, but I found this to be a little tricky, with the application being nowhere near as idiot-proof as the regular matte Stynylrez. I eventually found priming with regular black Stynylrez then going over it with the gloss to be a better approach than trying to spray the gloss straight onto the model.

The first issue I had, which is immediately obvious as soon as you take the paints out of the box, is that the colour(s) of paint in the bottle has little to no relationship with the colour of a surface painted with colorshift paints. So, you will have to paint the lids of the bottles with the corresponding paint if you have any hope of knowing what colour is which, which is something that I do to all my paints anyways.

The biggest issue, however, has to do with coverage and consistency. Coverage is pretty poor, and isn’t helped by the fact that the instructions dictate that it is to be applied over black primer. Further, it has to be applied in very thin coats, otherwise the medium ends up drying in a sort of thick, milky consistency. Doing all this over a gloss black primer can be extremely difficult with a brush, and even with an airbrush it is very easy to flood the surface and ruin the finish. As for touching up mistakes, forget about it.

I will give them this though, they go through the airbrush pretty nicely.

With the airbrush, the shading and highlighting issue actually turned out to be not much of a problem. Since they need so many coats to build up coverage and are applied over a black primer, simply varying the number of coats between your highlights and your shadows will help give it a shaded effect. Go for full coverage on the first couple coats, and from there, you can transition into just doing a zenithal for your last coat or two.

So, it’s tricky to apply, but how does it look? Well, to be honest, I’m kind of underwhelmed. First, the colour shift effect isn’t as pronounced as I was expecting it to be. Second, there is a bit of an issue with the finish. The pigments are fairly large, so on a close examination, it looks less like smooth, machined metal and more like something that was covered in glitter.

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In spite of all that, I do think it can still have its uses. I think it would look good on something like a Convergence of Cyriss army, and at gaming table distances, large, sparkly pigments are less of an issue.

Scale75 Metallics

When it comes to metallic paints, I find myself agreeing largely with Vince Venturella, who is better than me at both painting and creating content. I like true metallic metals; there is just something about the shine that pops when you’re looking at the miniature in real life. The problem is that most metallic paints designed for miniature painters are basically trash.

The one exception to this rule is Vallejo Metal Color. Not Vallejo Model Air, not Vallejo Game Color, but Vallejo Metal Color. The stuff that comes in the bigger bottles with the black and silver labels. This stuff blows your GW Leadbelcher and your P3 Quick Silver out of the water. However, there is one problem. Since it is designed to cater to the scale model crowd, specifically aircraft modelers, the range isn’t well suited to what we do. Out of their 16 or so colours, they have about five different colours of aluminum but only one copper and one gold — and the gold isn’t even very good, having a weird green tone to it that might be useful if you’re painting the golden scepter of some evil lich lord who just radiates corruption and necrotic energy, but isn’t great otherwise.

So, after hearing a lot of people talk up the Scale75 metallics and seeing them being used on twitch streams, and seeing a local game store get a rack of Scale75, I decided to take the plunge and try it.

Now, before I get into the product, there are a couple things that I would like to address. First, there is the question of availability. It’s still difficult and expensive to get Scale75 in Canada; only a very small number of stores in Canada carry it, and ordering from the Scale75USA website means you get to deal with the joys of currency conversion and customs. Even if you are lucky enough as I am to have a local store that carries it, it is still a little pricey. At the one local store that carries it and which has good prices on most of their products, I’m paying $6.50 a bottle. This is definitely above average for miniature paint, and for me, there is a bit of a psychological leap between being able to get a bottle of paint for a fiver and not.

Second, I feel like Scale75 is one of those brands that there is a lot of hype out on the internet for. They’ve successfully positioned themselves in the market as the serious paint for serious painters. The paint itself might be that good for all I know; I haven’t seriously tried out their non-metallic paints yet. However, I tend to be naturally suspicious of things that look like fads, so there is something that rubs me the wrong way about these paints. I’m not going to run out and get rid of all my paints to go all in on a new brand just because it’s the new hotness, and I’m content with my current paint collection for now, so unless it turns out to be legitimately that good, I’m happy to stick to my assortment of mostly Reaper, with a few P3s, Vallejos, and Citadels for flavour. After all, if Reaper paints are good enough for Kirill, I suppose they’re good enough for me.

Anyways, Scale75 has about ten or twelve different metallic paints, in various shades of silver, gold and copper. The gold and brass colours are my main focus because they fill in a gap that all my other paints have left.

The first thing you will notice when you compare Scale75 to its competitors is the the pigment size. If you look close enough at most metallic paints, you can see that the tiny glitter-like flakes in them, which is simply the nature of metallic pigments. As a result, it’s impossible to get the very smooth finish that you might see on machined metal. Scale75 metallic paints seem to have pigment ground much finer than most of their competitors, which contributes to a better finish than most.

With their finely ground pigments, they also airbrush well. I had no problems with my Xtreme Patriot with the 0.35 mm nozzle. You can airbrush them almost straight from the pot, however a drop or two of flow improver can go a long way.

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The top part of these… things… were airbrushed with Scale75 gold metallics

Playing with the hairy sticks, I was immediately struck by how much smoother they are than most of the metallic paints I’m used to. Consistency is a bit thinner, but not Vallejo Metal Color thin. Coverage is decent, though Duncan’s advice of two thin coats probably applies here as with most metallic paints. You can highlight with them and get decent blends, though I’ve get to do a big, display-level TMM project that has large metallic areas with them.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that they behave in a way which is fairly similar to normal acrylic paint. This doesn’t sound like much, but as anyone who has dealt with metallics can tell you, it’s a big compliment.

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Stabby guy with some brass bits done in Scale75

I think I still prefer the Vallejo Metal Color just because of the sheer coverage and workability of the VMCs, however the VMC has a very thin consistency, closer to an ink than most miniature paints, which can take a little bit of practice to get used to if you’re coming from something like Leadbelcher. This also isn’t always welcome when you’re utilizing techniques that prefer a thick paint like drybrushing. The Scale75 is a little closer in consistency to traditional metallic miniature paints, however it blows them out of the water. I do also have the Badger Metalsmith paints to compare them to, but that is more of a paint system than a paint and I’m too lazy to play alchemist every time I want to lay down some gold paint.

In short, these Scale75 metallics are a great addition to your hobby arsenal. Out of all the gold paints I’ve tried, they’re the best on the market, though they kind of win by default as most gold paints are pretty mediocre. If I was to give someone advice on what metallic paints to start out with, I would probably tell them to buy VMC for the silver metallics and supplement that with Scale75 for the golds.

The most important question

In this review, you will note that I may have left out one of the most important questions as it pertains to any miniature paint: how does it taste?

For the Color Shift paints, since they are best applied with an airbrush in multiple thin coats, and you probably aren’t going to be blending them, it shouldn’t really come up very often. As for the Scale75 metallics, they don’t taste bad right away, but if you keep working with them, licking your brush as you go, you will notice a bad taste in your mouth. However, they are so much better than other gold colours that you might as well grab a beer and wash it down.

The final verdict is that I would probably give the GSW Colorshift paints a C, and the Scale75 paints an A. The GSW Colorshift paints just don’t quite live up to my expectations, though they can still be useful, while the Scale75 metallics are my new favourite gold paints though they haven’t dethroned Vallejo Metal Color for my silvers.

Citadel Product Review – Mouldline Remover and Water Pot

When it comes to hobby tools such as paint brushes and knives, I tend to avoid the Citadel/Games Workshop family of products. Generally, it feels like I’m paying a premium for official GW products, and I’m not getting anything better than if I went to an art or hobby store. For example, I’m not sure who in their right mind would pay $36 for a hobby knife.

However, once in a while, the industrial designers at GW manage to hit a home run, making a good product at a not-unreasonable price that makes it onto my workbench. The latest two I’ve picked up have been their Mouldline Remover tool and their Water Pot.

Mouldline Remover

Citadel’s Mouldline Remover is about $20 and can be found at your local purveyor of Games Workshop products. Essentially, it’s a scraper that does what it says on the tin – by running it over mold lines and applying a touch of pressure, you can scrape them off.

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The concave curve on the inside in action!

The tool is a stiff scraping blade a couple millimetres thick, with a handle screwed on either side. As it is pretty much just a big chunk of metal, it feels pretty solid in the hand. The edges of the blade are square and crisp and work well for what they do. The blade has three main shapes to it: A flat backside, a rounded tip, and a concave curve on the front. This allows the modeller to choose the shape that best matches the part he is working on. The inside, for example, would be useful for scraping mold lines off pipes and tubes without leaving flat spots.

It works on both resin and plastic, as well as certain filler putties, and in addition to removing mold lines, it can be used to even out slightly misaligned parts. The nice, stiff blade is easy to control and it makes the task of getting rid of mold lines easy.

The one downside is that it is a little big for certain jobs. It may be perfect for things like Sector Mechanicus terrain and tanks, but on a small, highly detailed model like an Escher gang member, it’s probably just a little too big for some of the work and you should resort to something like the back of a hobby knife blade.

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This tool is definitely a good addition to my hobby arsenal. Nice and sturdy, it does what it says on the tin. It’s great for erasing mold lines and evening out misaligned panels. Also, this would be a good tool for younger modellers who might not be ready for a knife yet.

Water Pot

Normally, I wouldn’t spend $10 on a simple water pot. However, I had seen it on the desk of a couple twitch streamers and heard good things, so when I was negotiating a trade with a friend who works at the LGS and we were getting close to a mutually acceptable deal, I said “throw in one of these and we’ll call it even.”

I’m a little persnickety about my painting area, always experimenting with ways to more efficiently sort things out. This probably goes back to my time working in aerospace where a clean and well-organized workspace was essential because you really don’t want to lose a tool only for it to be found bouncing around inside a jet engine at 30,000 feet. Also, I don’t exactly have a large hobby space, having to keep most of my hobbying confined to a small LINNMON table from Ikea. As such, I like products where some thought was given to maximize functionality and ergonomics — a tool that has three uses takes up less space than three separate tools, and every square inch I save on my desk is another square inch that I can clutter up with works in progress.

This is one of those products. I mean, Citadel could have just taken a coffee mug, slapped their logo on it, and raised the price by 400%. But they didn’t do that. They crammed this thing full of little features that may not be apparent at first glance, but that painters will appreciate.

First, the shape of the thing. It is about the size of a large coffee cup, however it is wider at the bottom than it is at the top. This means that it is not likely to tip over like so many bottles of Nuln Oil. Further, with the unique shape, it is unlikely that you will mix up your paint water and your drink.

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Citadel Water Pot: ribbed for your pleasure?

On the inside, it has a number of ridges that make cleaning paint off the brush easier. The sides of the cup are gently ribbed, which should help knock stubborn paint out, while the bottom has some sharper ribs. While you probably don’t want to be grinding a kolinsky sable brush against the bottom, these ribs are useful for things like knocking paint out of your beater brushes and cleaning off the makeup brushes I use for dry brushing. Since cleaning your brushes out is important to make them last longer, anything that helps make cleaning easier and more efficient is a welcome feature.

Speaking  of cleaning your brushes, the top has a curve molded into it so that you can place your brush sideways on top without it rolling off. This is actually a good idea for when you’re finishing a painting session. You don’t want to leave a wet brush point up, as that will encourage the water and any debris in it to migrate down into the ferrule. This curve allows you to, at the end of your session, place your brush down on top of the water cup and let it dry out sideways.

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Brush holder in action

 

Finally, there are a series of grooves cut into one side. By running a brush through these grooves, they allow you to reform the point of the brush. This gives you an option to quickly reform the point without eating paint. While this works good in theory, old habits die hard, and I’m still licking my brush and using the corner of my mouth, so I would rather Citadel just focus on making their washes taste better. Further, I’m not sure they work for all sizes of brushes, so it might have been good for them to have an array of different sized grooves so you can use it to form the tip on your big beater brushes you use for terrain.

My only gripe, and this is minor, is that I wonder if it would have been better to cast it in a clear plastic. That way, you can somewhat see the ribs do their work, and it’s easier to tell looking from the side when it’s time to clean your water. On the other hand, it might be hard to see anything anyways with the refraction of light on the water, and the cruddy water look may not have been what they were going for.

Of course, similar to the Redgrass Games Everlasting Wet Palette, the main issue is that it’s hard to compete on value when your main competition is essentially free. Yes, this product has some nice features, but you can probably get away with using any old container or jar indefinitely and save yourself $10, so long as you are careful to choose a container that isn’t too similar to your coffee cup. Still, if you have a bit of cash burning a hole in your pocket and you’re at the LGS, you could do far worse. Like spending $36 on a hobby knife.

Conclusion

I am far from a GW fanboy, and don’t see the need to use official Citadel-brand products very often in my painting. However, I do like both of these products. If I had to give them a letter grade, I would give the mouldline remover an A, while the water cup would probably get a B+, only because although it’s not that expensive, it can’t compete on price with free alternatives.

 

Everlasting Wet Palette – Review

So, I’ve been preaching the gospel of the wet palette for a little while now to anyone who will listen. It’s an amazing tool that had in a short time really improved my painting, and now I don’t go painting without it.

For the uninitiated, a wet palette basically consists of a container, a sponge-like material to absorb moisture, and a semi-permeable membrane. You put the sponge in the bottom of the container, add some water, and put the membrane on top. You can put acrylic paints on top of the membrane, and the small amounts of water that permeate through will keep the paints nice and fresh throughout a painting session and beyond, which allows you to mix paints and keep the colour on your palette for more than a few minutes, or utilize advanced techniques such as blending.

Various art stores and game companies have been selling them for a number of years, and you can make one yourself out of a sandwich container, paper towel, and baking parchment, but last year, Redgrass Games put out a kickstarter that got a lot of people’s attention, claiming to have come up with “the Best Wet Palette for miniature painting.” I, of course, was not immune to this hype and went in for the Painter version.

The product

This product consists of a few pieces. First, there is the top and the bottom of the palette, made out of sturdy ABS plastic and sporting a rubber watertight seal between the two pieces. The studio version is about the size of a piece of paper, while the painter size which I have is about half that. Together, they are about 1″ thick and held together for travel by an included elastic band.

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Closed up

The foam on the inside is the most interesting part. It’s only a few millimetres thick, and claims to be mold-resistant, though I haven’t had it long enough to test that claim. The palette actually comes with two pieces of foam, so in a pinch, you can use the lid as a second palette. They also include the. Initially, the company wanted to produce a reusable piece of paper, but that didn’t pan out, so instead they’ve provided 100 pre-cut sheets in the box, which fit over the sponge nicely. Simply hold the paper down on each corner for a few seconds and spread it flat; it will want to curl initially, but as the paper absorbs the water, it will stick to the foam.

Finally, there is the “Wavy” attachment, which is a small plastic piece with five paint wells which magnetically attaches to the side of the palette. This is used for anything that you don’t want to get onto your palette, such as metallic paints or inks. I’ve found it to be a useful addition, though I often find myself bringing an additional dry palette with me as five wells often just aren’t enough, especially if I’m working with metallics and inks.

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In use, with the wavy clipped on the left side. Using baking parchment instead of the provided paper.

The Good

First, any wet palette is good. If you are painting with acrylics and you don’t have one, get one now. Whether it is this one, one of its competitors, or a sandwich container with paper towel and baking parchment, there are a myriad of reasons why you should be using a wet palette. While it does help save paint, the real reason you want it is because it makes advanced painting techniques that much easier.

This is a well-designed and well-made product, and it’s clear that the people behind it have put a lot of thought into the various features to make it the perfect tool for miniature painters. The case feels sturdy, and the two halves are held tightly in place with the elastic band. With the elastic on, it seems to seal quite nicely. The foam spreads out nice and flat, which makes it easy to lay down the paper on top without many air bubbles.

The palette is also pretty close to the perfect size for me. It’s a got a little more surface area than the P3 wet palette (which I’ve shied away from as I’ve heard mixed reviews on it), and is not as big as the Mastersons brand that I’ve seen in art stores which would just take over my entire painting desk. Further, the slim design allows it to easily fit in a backpack or a bag if you want to paint somewhere outside your home base, and the low profile of the sides make it a little more ergonomic to move the brush between paint and model as you aren’t reaching with your brush down into a deep container.

Most fascinating, you can actually close the lid, put the elastic on, and turn the palette upside down and the foam will stick to the bottom, the paper will stick to the foam, and your paint will stick to the paper. As such, so long as you don’t have too much or too little water, you can probably even take your palette on the go and open it up and start painting again. Further, with the elastic band holding it closed, you could easily tuck a couple brushes or some other tools (I usually bring a slim dry palette for inks and certain metallics) under the elastic and be ready to go.

The Bad

The only actual flaw I’ve found with this product is that the paper is a little fragile. Now, I may have been a little rough with it, using some large, cheap synthetic brushes to get large amounts of paint for things like painting the rims of bases, but I had noticed small tears beginning to develop underneath my paint, which in turn caused paint to leak down through the paper into the sponge. After a few sheets, I’ve personally switched back to baking parchment, which is still better than any wet palette paper I’ve tried.

Beyond that, there is the question of value. Yes, this is a good product, but 37€ retail (Don’t worry, mom, I didn’t spend that much — I got it on kickstarter) is a steep price to pay for just a better version of something you can more or less make for free out of a sandwich container and some paper towel. On the other hand, given the amount of time I spend painting, I’ll probably get that down to a few cents an hour in no time, but not everyone has the same hobby budget as I have.

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The competition. Not as good, but hard to beat the price…

Conclusion

At the end of the day, this is a well-designed product with a lot of thought put into making it perfect for miniature painters. However, the price tag is the biggest issue, and whether it is right for you is going to depend on how well a sandwich container and some paper towel meets your needs and how well it can fit into your hobby budget.

For me, as someone who has a small painting desk and who regularly takes my painting supplies halfway across town to paint at local museums and game stores, one of the things I’m always looking for is a way to improve the efficiency of both my painting space and the space in my backpack. This product succeeds on both counts, and while the price is a little steep in comparison to its main competitor, it lives up to its tagline.

What I’ve been up to – Man-O-War new releases

So, I’ve had a bit of radio silence on this blog, and aside from some personal and family issues, people who know me well enough have some good idea of what I was up to and why my social life and wallet have both taken a hit over the past month or two.

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Lock and load… airbrush time!

That’s right; after a long wait, the new Man-O-War models for Khador released a month or two ago, and being a good son of the motherland, I had to pick up the full FA right away and start getting them painted. There’s been a lot of discussion online about the competitive viability of the Armoured Corps releases and what casters to pair them with. But, since I’m not actually good at this game, I’m going to talk about the most important part: the models themselves.

Tankers

The tankers are pretty cool and look powerful on the tabletop. The sculpts are sort of a cross between a Man-O-War and a warjack. They are mostly resin with a few metal bits, and they are not multi-kits, which is kind of a disappointment as I think these guys would have been prime candidates for a hard plastic multikit. However, the resin is pretty good. On both of these models, the head, body and legs are the same one piece, aside from a couple metal bits on the knees. They are distinguished by the weapons on the arms, as well as the big shoulder-mounted gun on the suppression tanker. They’re nice sculpts; I would say they are what you would expect for something halfway between a Man-O-War and a Juggernaut-chassis warjack.

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My tankers

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masking is fun… it’s even more fun the second time when your first layer of paint comes up with the tape

The shields pose the modeller with a couple questions. First, you’re definitely going to want to paint in sub-assemblies, and it can be a touch tricky to get the arms installed in a manner such that the shields line up correctly if they are being held together in front. Second, the shields cover up a lot of the model, so there are a lot of details that you won’t see as they’re being blocked from view by these big shields. On the other hand, they do provide the modeller with a decent-sized flat area which can be a nice canvas for some freehand. Personally, I used some 2mm Tamiya tape to mask off a hazard stripe pattern, then added some fun little subliminal messages in Khadoran runes to the effect of “Play it painted” or “3 Colours Min” before weathering. Additionally, I converted the arms on a couple of mine to repose the shields so that I at least have one or two where the detail underneath is a little more visible.

Aside from that, there were two minor issues I had with the sculpt. First, for some reason, my Siege Tankers weren’t quite up to the same level of quality as the Suppression Tankers, with more mold lines to clean up in some tricky spots on the legs and a couple air bubbles to fill. Since the issue is mostly confined to the legs, you can conceal any mistakes in the mold line removal process with mud and weathering, so it’s not that bad. Also, they’re far better than cleaning mold lines on the old restic MoW. The second issue with the models is that the shields themselves are paper-thin and you have to be careful not to damage them when you’re cleaning up the mold lines. However, there is a simple solution to that issue if you have share that concern or if you accidentally stabbed the tip of your hobby knife through the thing while trying to clean mold lines (not that I would do that) – take some plastic from a PP blister pack, cut it to an appropriate size and shape, and super glue it onto the back of the shield to reinforce it.

Solos, Units & Attachments

The Man-O-War Bombardier is okay. I mean, it’s a fine model and I didn’t have any quality issues, and the combination chainsaw grenade launcher is one of the coolest infantry weapons in the Iron Kingdoms, but it also doesn’t hugely stand out like the character models released – which is totally fair, because it’s a non-character model. Yeah, it’s a little plain compared to the other awesome releases in that it isn’t much of an improvement in the looks department from your average MoW mook, but it’s not terrible, aside from one little problem. It’s missing the small bandolier of rockets on the right shoulder that all the other Bombardiers have. This is a bit of a problem because it hurts the cohesiveness of the unit, and it just doesn’t feel right to see the officer without them. Typically, the unit leaders and officers are supposed to be a little more ornate on the details than the grunts, and without the bandolier of rockets, it’s actually kind of opposite as well.

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Bombardier Bombshell

Though, while I’m at it, I will touch on the conversion rules, as a lot of people are looking at the Bombardier Bombshell as a substitute and “is this tournament legal” keeps coming up. This is a cool model, and it’s one that I’ve used as the basis for a conversion a while ago, so it’s no surprise that with this awesome model in existence, people are going to want to use it to represent the most important model in the unit. However, since the Steamroller document specifies that the Bombardier Bombshell has to be used as a grunt, not the officer, and you can’t proxy in a tournament, doing so is technically not tournament legal. On the other hand, technically, anyone who makes a big issue about that is an ass, especially if it’s well-painted, because it’s such a cool model. Finally, if you really want to use her, I think there is a loophole. All you have to do is do a little conversion on her shoulder pads, making them a touch more ornate and looking more like the officer’s, and it’s now a conversion and not a proxy and therefore legal. Just don’t quote me on that if you get into an argument with a tournament organizer or one of the Wills at PP.

 

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Some of the new releases…

On the other hand, Dragos, Atanas, and the standard bearer are straight up awesome. Until now, the Greylord Forge Seer has stood out as clearly the most amazing looking model in Khador, but now he has some serious competition. Dragos has the heft commensurate with his character background as a big badass who dual-wields giant hammers, and has plenty of characterful details in the form of pelts, skulls, and battle damage. The ornate detail on Atanas and the Standard Bearers is just a wonderful touch, and I feel like it’s going to look really well when I finish it.

 

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Sorscha3. My first reaction when I saw the concept art was “shut up and take my money”

Kommandant Sorscha, aka Sorscha3 is great as well; they’ve captured the Man-O-War feel, but made some changes in proportion and design to make her distinct. With how the gun and the armour look, there have been a number of jokes at her resemblance to Samus Aran from the Metroid games, and I’ve jokingly inquired if I can use a tennis ball as a proxy. One thing I’ve noted as I paint her is that if you tilt her forward a little, you can really change the pose from one that gives the impression of Sorscha at the ready or slowly advancing to one that gives the impression of movement, as though she is running. I haven’t mounted her to the base yet, partly because for this model I’m preferring to paint her separately so I can get at all the tricky little places on the leg, and partly because I haven’t figured out my basing strategy yet.

 

Chariots

Image result for man-o-war assault chariotFinally, we get to the chariots. I was a little worried on this front for a couple reasons. First, they are sold by Black Anchor Heavy Industries, which is Privateer Press’ direct-order subsidiary for huge-based models. I was initially a little concerned on this front for two reasons. First, there are the well-documented concerns that the international WMH community has with BAHI and getting dinged with customs, currency conversion, etc. that raises the price of BAHI models. Second, I have seen some of PP’s large resin models suffer from quality issues as of late. That is not to say that PP’s resin models are bad; far from it. When the quality is there, they are great. But if you get unlucky and get a bad model, you can end up with a dumpster fire of mold lines, misalignments, and resin bubbles. Fortunately their customer service is great, but having to wait for the company to ship replacement parts internationally isn’t good for anyone.

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Pictured: Stupid conversion idea.

However, in this case, my concerns turned out to be not well founded. At about $85 USD, the models aren’t that expensive as far as BAHI goes. Further, they are multi-kits and you are provided with both gun and shield assemblies which appear to be relatively easy to swap out, so you only have to buy one kit to get both. Second, the quality was spot on. A couple of the horses had some small mold lines, but the rest of the twenty or so resin parts that make up two of these kits were great. And the horses don’t really matter to me because I have some stupid conversion ideas rolling round in my head.

 

Representation

I’ve been known to do a lot of gender-swapping conversions on my army, in part to balance out the gender imbalance, in part to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, and in part because it’s a creative exercise in making the model very different while keeping the spirit and distinctive elements of the model intact. Man-O-Wars tend to be common targets for these sort of conversions, because due to their bulky armour, conversions are as simple as swapping out the heads.

But further to that note, I’m glad to see that we have a couple female Man-O-War models in this release in the form of Sorscha3 and the Bombardier Officer. I’m a big advocate of gender diversity in miniature gaming for a lot of reasons, ranging from grand political concerns about representation to the simple fact that the more diversity you have in a miniatures line, the more cool miniatures you have to paint and the more likely you will have at least something that everyone will like.

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Zarya: not your average video game girl… but still a badass.

Thing is, gender diversity means more than just the male/female ratio of your models. If you have a lot of female models in your line, but they’re all skinny white girls who are either lightly armoured ninja types or backline spellcasters, then that can be a bit of a problem. First, it undermines the goal of increasing diversity in a miniatures line. Second, there is a harmful stereotype in a lot of fantasy settings that women can’t be the tanky front-line paladins in full plate and are relegated to either sneaky roguish or backline support duties. A good example to counter this is Zarya from overwatch — she is a popular character is because she’s a big, physically imposing female character who plays a tanky role in the game.

 

I think Privateer Press has been doing a lot better on this front in recent years. I was a little critical of them in the past because while they had a reasonable number of female models in their line, a lot of them were kind of samey. They had plenty of high-DEF low-ARM models that fulfilled the wizard or rogue archetype, but not a lot of heavily armoured or really physically imposing female models (outside of the trolls, pigs and gators, who are all trolls, pigs and gators). Aside from the aforementioned questions of representation, from a practical matter, it made my still as yet unpainted Butcher2 conversion kind of tricky because it was hard to find a female model with the requisite body type from PP’s line to use as a basis for the conversion. However, there have been a number of releases over the past couple years that have filled in that hole quite nicely. Sorscha3, the Bombardier Officer, and Sofiya Skirova for Khador are all badass, and other factions have been feeling the love as well with models such as Gwen Keller and Beth Maddox in Cygnar, Cyrenia in Protectorate, and even Iona, the upcoming Circle warlock.

As a result, I think putting Sorscha3 in the Man-O-War suit was a stroke of genius. Not only does it expand the diversity of the line by adding physically powerful female models in Khador, but she’s one of my favourite characters and taking the lightly armoured, high def, extremely mobile Sorscha character and sticking her in this armoured suit really turns her on her head. Before she was teased, I was hoping that we would eventually get a Sorscha3 on a horse (Horscha?), but this is even better. Not to mention that it’s a welcome departure from the “this caster gets two friends” concept when some casters have gone epic as of late. Some people said it should have been someone like Harkevich instead who got put in the suit, but as much as I am a Harkevich fan, that doesn’t really make sense in the context of his fiction.

So, big ups to Privateer Press for this move to increase the diversity in their line through recent releases, and keep ‘em coming. Just don’t steal my thunder by releasing a Butcheress Mini-Crate before I finish painting mine.

Conclusion

Aside from the chariots, which are a little on the expensive side for those of us who don’t live in ‘Murica, these models should be considered a buy by just about every Khador player out there. I know a lot of column-inches in this article have been devoted to my tiny, niggling issues with them, but those are just that – small technical issues on otherwise awesome models that can generally be resolved with a moderate amount of modelling skill. Dragos, Atanas and the Standard Bearer are particularly wonderful models that rival the Forge Seer for the title of best model in faction, and the others are must-haves for anyone who likes steam powered badasses. And if you don’t, then shouldn’t you be playing Cygnar?

No Quarter Prime #1 — A quick review

Last week, I picked up the much-awaited first issue of No Quarter Prime, Privateer Press‘ reboot of their long-running No Quarter magazine. For about $10 CAD, you get 112 pages of ad-free content and artwork, as well as a free bonus miniature.

Packed full of content, the table of contents shows long sections on Company of Iron, Trenchers, an IKRPG module, and the story of first battles in the liberation of East Khador (or, as the despicable swans and ungrateful eastern bandits call it, the “occupation” of Llael)

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All right, but apart from public order, infrastructure, protection from the Menites, jobs in the warjack repair depots, and removal of the corrupt nobles, what have the Khadorans ever given us?

The section on the opening stages of war is a great read.  Privateer Press has decided, since Warmachine has massively increased in popularity and experienced a lot of churn since it was first launched, to retell the story of how the Iron Kingdoms got to be in the situation they are in Mk.III.  I think this is a great idea; it gives newer players an accessible way to get caught up on the fluff behind the game.

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Much of the story is written from the perspective of the Khadoran warcasters who led the invasion, and as a Khador player, I think they did a good job of offering a balanced portrayal of the motherland, rather than falling on tropes of Cygnar as the good guys and Khador as the evil Russkies.  And the fact that they had a teamup of my two favourite characters in the Iron Kingdoms (Harkevich and Sorscha) was a particular highlight for me.

Another long section is on Company of Iron, which is their new skirmish-level version of Warmachine.  It comes with a couple pages of fluff about Agata & Lt. Gwen Keller, some inspiration for alternate colour schemes, three scenarios, and a writeup on strategies to use with the models in the Company of Iron box.  With CoI releasing in three weeks, I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but the scenarios do look like the sort of interesting, narratively-based scenarios that I think Warmachine could use more of, rather than “stand in this big circle to get points to win.”

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Here.  Now there is no excuse to play unpainted.

There is a brief section on the Tower Judgement, a massive Protectorate fortification, temple, and torture chamber, which features prominently in a custom four-player scenario that includes custom terrain features and guides on how to make them.  A long section on an IKRPG module I mostly skipped over, just because when it comes to RPGs, I’m not a huge fan of the ’90s style D&D 3.5e inspired tomes with tons of tables to roll on and hyper-detailed rules governing things as simple as climbing up a rope.  Give me the freeform nature of the Savage Worlds system any day…

But back to the magazine, there are guides on how to paint warjacks and warbeasts from every faction using simple five-step processes, which means that while it may not be a top quality paint job, new players can easily get something that kind of resembles the box art.

A large portion of the issue is devoted to trenchers, both a review of the CID process and a long section on Trencher lore, equipment, etc.  The lore section is packed with detail about these tough bastards, and as a fan of steampunk guns, the artwork included there really jumps out at me.  Details on alternate colour schemes are also included, as well as three scenarios.  My only criticism here is that they included a couple pages with pictures of all the new cards, which was nice, but I think it would have been better if they had the new cards all on a couple pages at the back and formatted in such a way that you could cut them out, sleeve them, and use them in play.

Overall, NQP has some great content.  Aside from the tiny issue with the cards, the only other thing I would have liked to have seen is perhaps a little hobby content on how to make some trenchworks or other terrain pieces relating to the trencher theme.  But with all the content crammed into only 112 pages, I can see why it might not have fit.  I think my favourite part, aside from all the Khador parts, was the alternate colour scheme ideas.

IMG_2089.JPGAnd did I mention the free miniature? You get Eilish Garrity, who comes on a resin sprue with the base. There is some flash and mold lines to clean up, but apart from that, there is plenty of nice, crisp detail that is going to be good for painting. Eilish is a mercenary who will work for any faction, and he provides upkeep removal, which given how much Denny1 is stomping the meta right now, means that you will see him hit the table just to get rid of Crippling Grasp. Puppet Master is also great, and I can definitely see him getting a lot of play in Khador because for five points, he gives us two things which are not easily available in-faction, and inability to remove enemy upkeeps from our models (aside from beating it off with Ruin’s mace) is one of our weaknesses in a Denny1 world.  I suspect that people could buy NQP just to get the miniature, tosss out the magazine, and still not be disappointed.

In conclusion, NQP #1 is a must-buy for anyone interested in Privateer Press products. With a boatload of content and a free miniature, how could you go wrong?