Tuesday 31 January 2012

Monthly Mini Porn Issue 1

Welcome to this new section of the blog. I spend an unhealthy amount of time browsing mini-related sites on the web. I get to see lots and lots of shiney new toys that I know I will probably never own, because I don't have enough money or time to spend on them. And so they tend to fade away, lost and forgotten. This little corner of the blog will summarise the minis I have been admiring in the past few weeks. Then, one day, if I win the lottery*, I can read back through my mini porn collection and buy them all. 

Forgeworld released not one, but two sets of minis that really caught my eye this month. The Fimir transported me back to my early days in playing Warhammer. I think they would make very nice one-eyed ogres in my chaos army, maybe as part of my growing collection of monsters (ogres, dragon ogres, trolls, etc). Alternatively, they would be lovely models to paint on scenic bases, imagine them wading through a swamp with a few celtic scenery elements.

They followed this up with an astounding set of chaos dwarf characters. I once owned a chaos dwarf army which I sold a few years ago. Recently I have really regretted it, so maybe getting a set of these models and painting them would help to fill the void.

Continuing the short, stout, bearded theme, check out these World War 1 Russian dwarfs. They are a hobby project by Akula's Armies. Have a look at his blog for more of the same. Lovely stuff. 

From 20mm marvels to 54mm finery. I have a growing desire to paint a bigger model, but the choices out there are vast. Just this month Andrea Miniatures announced two figures that really caught my attention. 

Finally, I have been looking at vampire character minis, particularly alternatives to the GW female figures. If you like your vampires to be a bit more "lithe" then there are plenty to choose from, but this Guild of Harmony blood priestess caught my eye as contender for queen bee. 

That's it for the first issue. These are the figures that have really caught my attention in the past month. I might never own them, but at least now I can refer back to them whenever the fancy takes me. 

*highly unlikely as I never buy lottery tickets!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Vampire Counts book first thoughts

The new Vampire Counts book arrived last week. For an old timer like myself, this is the fourth edition of the army list (if you count the original Undead book that also included mummies, catapults, etc). So how does it compare to previous versions?

Let's gloss over the cover, quite possibly the worst in all of history (hence the randomly selected picture above). Inside there is some nice artwork, a potted history of the Vampire Counts, a bestiary and the army list.

The background is very familiar to veterans. In fact, it's word for word exactly the same as the previous book in many sections, or maybe slightly rephrased in parts. There's an added chapter on the latest actions of Mannfred and the Lichemaster, but overall there's nothing new. I found this section to be a little dull. In fairness, it's hard to imagine a complete rewrite for the background so some duplication is bound to occur, but I reckon there was scope to include more of the vampire personalities rather than just the same old von Carstein story. On the plus side, there is a very nice new map of Sylvania, one of the best warhammer maps I have seen.

The bestiary is also subject to a lot of duplication from previous books. Of course, there are some new entries to cater for the latest additions to the army. There's a colour illustration for each entry, and a few paragraphs of text. What more can you say about a bestiary? Similarly, the colour section containing photos of the models is familiar to all gamers. Most of the page spreads have already appeared in White Dwarf or on the web, so few surprises here. As an old timer with my own painting style, this section is the least inspiring of the book, but I know for a lot of newcomers these pages will prove invaluable.

As a hobbyist rather than a gamer, I never thought I would say this, but it's the army list that's the most interesting. It's nicely laid out and there is a lot crammed in. The choices for players have never been so wide, and points costs are much reduced in many cases, so there is plenty of scope to include lots and lots of models if that's what you like. I took an existing army list that I had used from the previous book and found that I could afford to double the number of skeletons and add three more hero characters!

Overall, I am reasonably pleased with the book. It's not an instant classic, but neither is it a damp squib. There's not much new in terms of background, but there are plenty of new models and army selections to ponder. It's not quite got the flavour of previous books because of the lack of bloodlines, but there's enough flexibility in the army list section to allow players to emulate these kinds of list if they so desire. I am looking forward to trying out a few ideas in the coming weeks.

Friday 27 January 2012

BaneLegions Kraan review

Banelegions have released some pretty nice stuff over the past year. When the Kraan model was announced I thought it would make a striking addition to my chaos army. And funnily enough, when I reread the fluff, it turns out that some daemon steeds take the form of a large bear. Sold!

I had to wait over a week for it to arrive, I guess they were inundated with orders. Here's how the figure is packaged, in a clamshell pack with all the bits securely snuggled by a big wedge of sponge. So no rattling round in transit. This in turn was securely packed in a cardboard box with plenty of bubble wrap. Excellent packaging, which is very reassuring when it comes to the slightly more fragile resin material.

The components look like this. Lots of bits, which I like because I appreciate the possibility of customisation. More on this later.

The sculpting is wonderful, highly detailed and nicely proportioned. The casting is very good too, there's a little flash, I have found just three bubbles, and a couple of mold lines. That's far better than most resin models I have worked on in the past.

I have already assembled most of the bear (I might paint the tusk head armour separately). It went together really easily, all the joints are really snug fits and gaps are minimal. And I had not one mold line to scrape off! The thing you have to be careful with is cutting the big blocks of resin off the model. This is probably the easiest resin figure I have ever assembled.

The rest of the components I have bagged up for a future session. I would like to change the pose of the rider to be pointing or beckoning his troops forward, but I am not sure that the figure on foot would look good with his weapon hefted on his shoulder as he is running, or at least in motion. I might attempt to add some other bits to make these changes, possibly the new AOW warriors will fit the bill. That's something to ponder. In the meantime, I can work on a scenic base for the bear.

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Chaos Marauders

A unit of 24 chaos marauders are the first completed item of the year. I started these over the xmas holiday and have been working on them each weekend since. The flesh and trousers were airbrushed over a white primer, then I painted the metals and woods, cloth, bindings, etc. After that, it was mostly glazing to add some texture. Just the banner top received a little highlighting.

This unit will be added to the black armoured chaos warriors that I completed roughly this time last year (here's a reminder). I want to build up a black armoured faction within the whole chaos army. Next in line is a character, a reward for painting the rank and file unit. I also have a really BIG reward lined up, but I want to get another unit or two completed before I start that particular treat. Of course, the real reason I painted this unit was as an excuse to include this figure in my army. He's Eric FusRoDah, a name familiar to most geeks out there! Fortunately, he has not yet taken an arrow to the knee.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Avatars of War new regiment revealed

Wow, this one certainly took me by surprise. After the release of the dwarf berserkers by Avatars of War last year, I was looking forward to their next regiment set. Most of the hints seemed to be that female elf warriors would be next, but then it slipped off my radar. So thanks to Tabletop Fix (and their sources) for this scoop.

It looks like Avatars of War are making their next regiment in a plastic-resin mix they are calling Warcast. From their description it sounds like the mantic plastic-resin mix. If you don't have experience of these, the components come in little plastic bags rather than on a sprue, it's slightly softer than hard plastic but still holds detail well. It's a little more expensive than plastic but easier to get into production. We don't yet know how much more expensive, or how often releases will be made. Claims on the website of every other month sounds a bit optimistic, but it sure would be nice. Hopefully there will be more details revealed in the coming days, but until then, have fun looking at this teaser picture of Warriors of the Apocalypse.

Further details on the AOW website.

Friday 20 January 2012

Parcels are like buses

You wait all week for one to arrive, then three come at once. Yes, I have been spending some leftover xmas money on hobby items.

No prizes for guessing that I ordered the Vampire Counts book. My first impression was, wow it's thin. And that cover is awful. I already knew that when I ordered it, but as I took it out of the envelope I couldn't help thinking, it's a Beano annual! Thankfully, the contents are much better than the cover, the overall look and feel of the book is good. After a couple of quick skim reads I am hopeful that I can get some enjoyment from the army.

The second parcel that arrived is related to the first. I noticed that mantic were selling off stock over the holidays so I took a chance and ordered a mantic bag stuffed full of minis, hoping that there would be some undead troops in there. I was not disappointed, as 60 skeletons spilled out. No zombies or ghouls, but it was a lucky dip type of thing. It makes choosing my core troops a little easier, I will basically make the best of what I have.

The third purchase was for my chaos army. I am currently putting the finishing touches to a unit of marauders, with a character primed and next in the painting queue. With some chaos warriors and hounds I already have painted, I realised I could make them into a small warband. Every chaos warband needs a leader, and I could think of none better this last parcel. I will be opening it up and reviewing it over the coming days.

Sunday 1 January 2012

So that was 2011

Another year gone by, more miniatures bought, sold and some even painted. A quick look at my painting log for 2011 shows that it was a patchy year. I started by painting a couple of units and a character for my chaos army, then switched to orcs and goblins when the new book was announced. I bought and started two boxes of savage orcs, but never really got the urge to finish them, then switched to building war machines, which again never got finished. In fact, the only painted figure added to the army was a lone night goblin shaman. Not a good start then.

Things improved in the middle of the year. The release of the Avatars of War dwarf berserkers put the fire back in my belly and I rattled off  a unit of them, converted one to an engineer and even painted a unit of dwarf rangers. That's a good 500-600 points added to the dwarf army, the high point of the year.

Reflecting my waning interest in fantasy, I then switched to painting some 40k figures, a squad of plaguebearers, a squad of Nurgle marines and a rhino. These were probably my best paint jobs of the year. I can fully understand why 40k is more popular than fantasy, painting these seemed like a holiday compared to the slog of the endless rank and file of fantasy figures. I never actually played with them, maybe I will get to do that this year.

The latter part of the year had me in planning mode, as I contemplated about how to celebrate my upcoming 20 year anniversary of playing the game of fantasy. I managed to find some old photos of one of my undead armies, which sealed the deal. Project XX was born, my plan to build and paint a complete Vampire Counts army in about a year. Determined to get a good start, I painted up 30 zombies and a couple of necromancers, before my enthusiasm drained, mostly it has to be said as I came to dislike more and more some of the aspects of 8th edition.

The last couple of months I have played mostly WWII games, the excellent Blitzkrieg Commander at 6mm is a breath of fresh air. Simple rules but complex tactical decisions, gaming for the thinking man. But as they say, a change is as good as a rest, and recently I have got the urge to paint fantasy figures once more. All it took was a simple random painting table based on my chaos collection and the spark was ignited. The new year will be started with additions to my Chaos Warriors army.

The new book release in January should inspire me to crack on with the Vampire Counts, though I have been less than impressed with GW this year, they really need to do something special to win me over again. I will get the Vampire army done, as I have already collected most of the bits needed, a real eclectic mix they are too. Whether it will contain any of the new releases is the big question in my mind at the moment.

I reckon 2012 will be a year of uncertainty for me. The price rises, bad products and dubious antics of GW have really left a sour taste this past year, freshened mostly by the efforts of the many smaller companies that are really improving in leaps and bounds. While I am committed to completing my 20 year Warhammer anniversary project, it may well be the year when I turn my back on the company that has given me so much pleasure over the past two decades. Or maybe I will take a greater interest in 40k? There is also the possibility of a move into 1/72 WWII gaming. I still love the painting, I am looking forward to tackling a wider variety of new projects on this front.

The only thing I can say with any certainty, is that I am completely unsure how the year will turn out.
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