Sunday 30 March 2014

Chaos Marauders

I have had these marauders almost finished for months, I just seemed to run out of steam at the final furlong. As a token gesture at a spring clean of my collection, I figured I would try to tidy up my outstanding queue before embarking on anything new. I got three nearly finished units completed in a couple of days, possibly a personal best. I will post the pictures of the other two units in the coming weeks.

These are mostly old metal marauders I have had for some time but never got the inspiration to paint. It was the addition of the plastic conversions that made the unit more interesting. I particularly like the older bearded warrior front left, he looks grizzled and experienced. The bald guy in the front row is the archetypal frenzied warrior, covered in blood and swinging his axe wildly, if he's not careful he'll have somebody's head off! On the far right is a metal classic figure, I'm not sure if it was originally a beastman or a chaos warrior, but it's a marauder now. The command group are all metal, the musician and banner bearer are stock models (though the banner is from the plastic bloodletter box), while the champion is a Reaper figure. The rear ranks are the more tedious, almost mono-pose metals, spruced up with a few plastics.

The banner icon is hand painted, I was inspired by a picture on deviantart - a good site to visit if you want some inspiration, as long as you don't mind navigating through the dross and the porn. The blood spatters are made by flicking paint at the unit. I concentrated my fire at the banner and the crazed looney. I'm happy to mark this unit as finished, another item crossed off my 2013 painting list - they obviously got snowed in or had a really long xmas party.

Thursday 27 March 2014

Avatars of War Corrupters Review 2

Recently I reviewed the Avatars of War Corrupters with Great Weapons. I made three separate posts, one detailing the components and first thoughts, one to make a comparison with GW chaos warriors, and a third post to show an assembled unit and my final verdict. As part of this last post I mentioned that I would be buying a second box of Corrupters, with hand weapons and shields. This post is a review of this boxset, a comparison with the great weapon set, and further ramblings.

The packaging is, as before, a hard plastic video case containing several bags of components, bases and a brief set of instructions. I won't go into huge detail on the materials used, just quickly repeat what I said in previous reviews - the plastic is a bit harder than normal and slightly more difficult to clean, but you soon become accustomed to it and adapt your technique. The detail is very good and assembly is reasonably easy with super glue. More on this later.

The first thing I did was open up a bag of components to compare it with the great weapon set. As I expected, the torso, legs and arms are the same in both sets, the differences are in the weapons/shields (of course), the heads, of which there are ten, and the command bits. For convenience I have included pictures of both sets of components for comparison. They are interchangeable, so mixing and matching should ensure great variety in your units.

I expected assembly to be much easier than the great weapon set. Mostly this is true, there's none of the difficulty of trying to hold the torso, arms and weapons together as the glue cures. However, I did find that the arms are held out from the body, which makes it a bit more challenging to get the shield into a convincing position. Usually the shield arm rests on the chest or belly and the shield fits on top of this, but this pose only applies to one command model. The others hold their shield well away from the torso. It's a minor problem to overcome, but as usual worth a little planning and dry runs before you commit to final positions on bases. It's still possible to come up with some good poses, my favourite so far is this guy on the right.

That's it for this brief review, there's not much to add to the previous posts. In summary, the introductory set is excellent value for money, with good quality sculpts, good casts in a hard plastic that requires a little more work and planning than usual, but for me the results are worth the effort. I am already half way through building my second unit. And there's the metal character models too, I still have these to look forward to. Having part painted my first plastic regiment I can say that the paint and glazes go on to the harder plastic as normal, the underlying material is irrelevant when it comes to priming and painting. With the first unit almost painted and a second unit half built, I am well on the way to my first 500 points of corrupters. There's much more to come on this new project.

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Dwarf Berserkers Reboot

Wow, has it really been over two years since I first painted this unit. At the time, there was something nagging at me that they were not quite right. Obviously, they differ from all other dwarf units in that they are practically naked, as opposed to their fully armoured kindred. There's not much that can be done about that. But there was definitely something I needed to do to improve the unit.

The most noticeable change is the addition of the tattoos. I didn't spend too much time on them to be honest, I painted thinned blue in general swirls and lines on the bodies, a few dots and other things on the faces. The beards got a minor highlight too, just a drybrush in fact. Yes, I still do use the old methods occasionally! Finally, I added a little more shading to the gold areas and coated the gems in satin varnish. The whole job was a couple of hours or so. There's still more that could be done to improve the unit, especially the axe blades could use some refinement. But in the end, this is a wargaming unit, not a display piece, so I think I will call it done. I have only gamed with them once or twice in the past couple of years, more and more painting time seems pointless.

Friday 21 March 2014

Corrupters In Progress

Painting on the first unit of the Avatars of War corrupters is progressing nicely. I have done the bulk of the armour and robes, just the fiddly bits like tentacles, severed heads and guts to do. I started with a pale green for the armour, then glazed and shaded with browns, greys, purples to add definition. I also filled in holes and stippled in random places with more browns and chestnuts, to give a mottled, worn appearance. So far, so good, though there's still a little dirtying up and weathering to do.

The first unit is 12 strong armed with great weapons. I have also received a second box, another of the introductory offer sets containing 24 figures plus character, this time armed with hand weapon and shields. In total that makes 50 models from the two boxes, which will be broken down into 4 units of 12, plus two characters. In warhammer army points the regiments come to about 1000 points, the characters about 250 points, so it's a good basis for a starter army. Adding in a few of my part-painted or part-constructed units from a few years back, I will be able to field a complete Corrupters army of at least 2000 points. More stuff added to the to do list.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Playing a 10 point Saga game

I reckon that the most played game for me last year was Saga. We must have tried half the factions and all the scenarios several times over, even a small campaign, all at the recommended six points level. It gives a good game with plenty of decisions to be made, but inevitably there comes a time when something new is needed.

In the back of the Saga book there is a one page suggestion for increasing the number of points played. Eight points didn't seem much different to six points, so we tried a ten point battle. My vikings have been hired by a Saxon lord to fight against a rival - so most of my collection against (about half of?) Matt's collection. In the picture, my vikings and Saxons are on the left in the distance, the nearer figures are Matt's Saxon hoard. And a hoard it was too, the Saxons really benefited from the numbers a large game allows, easily repelling the usurper and his mercenaries.

The game has more of a small battle feel to it, rather than a large skirmish. The extra points tend to be used to boost numbers per unit, rather than number of units. The Saga dice still never seem to be enough, so it can be a little frustrating as first one wing acts, then the centre, then the other wing, but overall it seems to work quite well. I think we might move on to twelve point battles next - after all, this is just one extra warlord and maybe his bodyguard, so it's not necessarily a huge number of extra troops, but the extra warlord should give extra control (and thus more action) on the battlefield.

There's plenty still to explore in Saga. I realise that there's a new expansion due out soon, but I am keen to try it out at this slightly larger scale, using Lord of the Rings forces, as well as our dark age armies. We are also planning on trying Hail Caesar, looking forward to starting a whole new gaming experience, though the masses of rules on movement seems particularly daunting after the simplicity of moving skirmish forces around. I'm sure it will be worth the effort and hopefully will have a battle report in the not too distant future.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

AOW Corrupters Final Thoughts

The first regiment of corrupters is fully assembled, ready to be based, primed and painted. Now that I have got to this stage I can fully appreciate how good these models are. Yes, they are hard plastic and a little more taxing to prepare than the softer plastic you are probably more familiar with. But with a decent set of clippers and a sharp blade they should not prove too difficult. Once you have solved the enigma of how to assemble warriors armed with double handed weapons, they go together nicely and you end up with a very dynamic looking unit. I certainly prefer these to my Khorne warriors, the poses are more natural and more adaptable.

Mixing in bits from GW warriors is possible, but the scale of these warriors is a little smaller than the plastic chaos warrior. If you look closely at the picture you will see that I have added a couple of flail armed warriors in the back rank, made from marauder bits. The unit champion has a metal head from a GW model. For my next regiment I will probably try to find more bare heads - maybe zombies or even standard human heads will be used. For this regiment I was happy to use the standard components from the box.

My final verdict is these models are easily equal to those offered by GW in terms of quality of sculpting and casting. The material used is a hard plastic that is a bit tricky at first, but soon becomes second nature. Assembly is difficult as they are armed with great weapons, but if you glue the arms to the torso first, then the weapon to the arms, then this sub-assembly to the legs, finally the head, you should find it less frustrating. I bought them on advance order and got 24 figures plus a metal exclusive for 35 euros, which is an absolute bargain price. So much so that I have tracked down a second set of corrupters on ebay, armed with hand weapons, and snapped them up before everybody else realises what a good buy they are. This set appears to have different heads, legs and torsos, so I can look forward to even more variety in my regiments.

I'm afraid that the main casualty of all this is my dwarf army - for a similar price I could get 24 highly poseable chaos warriors plus a limited edition champion, or a unit of 10 very similar posed dwarfs - it's just no contest for me. I would really love to add to my dwarf army, but not at that price. If Avatars of War do similar deals on dwarfs in future months, I will be very happy to take up the beard army once more. In the meantime, the forces of corruption are spreading.

Friday 7 March 2014

Looking at dwarfs again

Dwarfs are big news at the moment, so naturally I have been looking through my collection and pondering all things short and beardy. At some point I am going to construct an army list to play against an Empire army, with the twist being that we will play using Warhammer rules, then some other rules such as Mayhem, Armies of Arcana and others. My original intention was to use the existing dwarf army book and ignore the new version, convinced as I was that the release would leave me cold (as did the Chaos Warriors book). However, I have to confess that the buzz around the new book has got to me. I am seriously considering breaking into the warchest for this release!

The nice thing about having an army that's 10 years old or more, is that you can pick up the latest book, nothing else and just start playing. If you play tournament style then you may feel compelled to add in the latest must-have units and drop the new donkeys - melt down your anvil and cast it up into squads of gyrocopters. I won't be doing this as I don't play tournament style so I am quite happy to use what I have and see how it gets on. I will probably add a new unit or two just for variety sake. I quite like the look of the irondrakes and am patiently waiting for Avatars of War to release their not-hammerers. In the meantime I am casting my eye over my existing toys.

The disadvantage to having an old army is that it can look a bit tired next to the new shinies. The newer models finally match the awesome artwork that attracted me to dwarfs in the first place. Tough, grim warriors with finely crafted arms and armour. I would love to start from scratch with a few sets of new figures, but time and money prevent this, so I will be soldiering on as best I can with the old stalwarts. The basic dwarf warrior has never been a brilliant model, much like many of the core ranges that are over 10 years old. If I was painting them today I would certainly use different colours and techniques to the ones I had used on this regiment so many years ago. The best things about this regiment are a) it's painted and ready for gaming and b) I have finally painted on a banner design. There's no sign of the humble dwarf clansman being redesigned, so if I wanted to draft in some new warriors I would invest in some AOW warriors - if they are ever re-released in plastic. For the time being, this unit will have to be good enough.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

AOW Corrupters v GW Chaos Warriors

More corrupters assembled and photographed for your perusal. As you can see in this photo, they are a very characterful bunch. Based up for Warhammer like this they will make an impressive regiment. Note that I have not yet glued the figures to the bases, nor the heads in place. I need to get the whole regiment assembled before I can commit to final positions and head directions. With careful planning, they will rank up. This is most likely half a regiment, I tend to use chaos warriors 6 wide, 2 deep.

This photo shows the corrupters alongside some chaos warriors that I converted to carry great weapons. The base height I have tried to equalise as best as I can by giving the corrupters a boost, to ensure an accurate comparison. As you can see, there is a slight scale difference, GW being a bit bigger in height and head size, though with more modest weaponry (partly down to my choice of bits for conversion). Mixing these components together would thus be a little challenging, though I will most likely give it a go at some stage. I like the bare head look on the corrupters and so will be scouring my bits box for suitable candidates.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Avatars of War Corrupters review

In this post, I will be taking a quick look at the Avatars of War Corrupters of  Apocalypse, recently released in plastic. It's been quite a wait for these figures - ordered in early October, expected end of December, arrived end of February. Not so much a late xmas present then, more of an early easter egg.

As I showed in this post, the packaging is a robust plastic case - a video cassette case in fact, if you are old enough to remember these things. Inside the case are a number of sealed bags containing the components, no sprues are involved. The components were obviously attached to some kind of frame/sprue as there are little remnants of these on most parts, some larger than others. Click on the photo for a closer look, I have kept the photos large so you can get a good close look at the bits.

The photo shows the contents of one bag - enough bits to make eight figures, including a command group. There are two each of four designs of legs and torso, plus a spare torso for a command figure. There are eight pairs of arms, which seem practically identical to me. There are also eight weapons being held by two hands, plus a couple of weapons held by one hand, a banner and a pointing hand, and a few other command bits. Finally, there are ten heads. Oh and there are square plastic bases included.

After cleaning and assembling one figure I can make a few observations. I am unsure if all torsos fit all legs, the first I grabbed at random did not fit together well, so I would make a dry run before you stick them together with glue. The instructions state you can use plastic glue. I tried my usual Revell Contacta but it did not stick the bits together. I have used it on GW, Perry Miniatures, Gripping Beast, Wargames Factory, all with the same results. So I would recommend super glue for this harder type of plastic.

The plastic is not the same as GW plastic. It's a fair bit harder, so it's more difficult to clean away mould lines and any extra bits. You will need clippers to remove the extra little tags, a knife will prove hard work. Some of the weapons are a little bent, but it's easy to straighten them out with a little gentle bending of the handle. I would say that the level of detail held in the plastic is good, maybe marginally less crisp than GW can achieve, so less sharp edges than you might be used to.

Assembly is fiddly, as it often is with great weapon armed figures. I would suggest glueing the arms, the weapons and torso first, then fix this sub assembly to the legs, then head last. Be prepared for some frustration, it took me about half an hour to get this one figure cleaned and assembled. If you are going to use them in a regiment, be aware that ranking up will be difficult, so assemble them as a whole unit and number your bases. The plastic is very hard, so conversions will be challenging, easier than metals, but not as easy as GW plastics. It should be possible to mix in GW bits - head and weapon swaps should prove reasonably simple.

That's all I can say at the moment, it will be a while before I get round to assembling any more figures and painting them. Hopefully the large pictures and my initial observations will prove useful if you are thinking about adding these to your collection.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Dwarf Runelord Painted

My short foray into the new dwarf range concludes with a painted runelord. Another mighty fine sculpt from GW, with a nice set of alternate heads and arm options. The kit also includes a nice little rune carved slab of rock, but in the official version he's stood on top of it so you cannot see it. I swapped in a piece of cork for the dwarf to stand on, chopped off the top third of the slab and used it to decorate the base.

I am selling the runelord on ebay, so if you fancy a bid or just want to see more pictures, then here's the link. I also have on sale a couple of metal collector's items. I am hoping to raise enough cash to get some viking reinforcements and to start a whole new project. Funds are tight so I have resolved this year to build a warchest by selling items, before I buy any new shinies. It's helping to keep my finances in order and also forcing me to clear out the old stuff that I will never realistically get around to.

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