Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Other Category Winners from Dropzone Games Competition

The Other Category Winners

     I talked about an awesome painting competition I was happy to take part in at Dropzone Games and I mentioned that I didn't get shots of the other winners.  The above model was the winner in the Large Model category.  A Grot A-10 bomber!  What's not to love?  Mark did an excellent job in both modeling and painting this wonderful entry.  I saw this masterful model and knew that my Valkyrie didn't stand a chance.  It's an absolutely splendid model, and as an Ork player myself, I thing this thing is just perfect.

Single Character Winner

     Here is the single character winner.  The Croc Butcher.  The choice of colors are terrific.  I was surprised, upon closer inspection, to find that each individual scale on this model was deliberately.  Very impressive model.  I love that the tongue and gums are all properly colored for a croc.  Tom did a fantastic job.

Dark Future Gaming

     If you'd like to see more pictures of the winners, you can check out Dark Future Gaming's blog site.  I spoke with Wolfson, who took all the pictures at the event (great job, btw!), from the team while at Dropzone Games and had a nice chat.  They are a really community focused group looking to highlight the hobby in a positive light, promoting the people and the places that make a difference.  Check out their site, I'm going back through some of their older posts and finding some good stuff.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Won a Painting Competition at the Grand Opening of Drop Zone Games


     I attended the grand opening of Drop Zone Games here in Maryland (I'll tell you more about the store in a bit).  They had a painting competition as part of this event.  There were three categories: Unit, Single Character, and Large Model.  I entered one in each.  I put my old warboss on a bike into the Single Character, my newly finished Valkyrie in for Large Model, and my Cadian Command Squad in for Unit.

Here's the Command Squad
     I won first in the Unit category and amazingly I won best overall!  I got a sweet plaque for the category win and a sword... I'm going to repeat it because it's awesome... A SWORD for winning best overall!  I couldn't freaking believe it!  This is really only the second painting competition that I've ever entered.  Looking at the other models in those cases, I felt like I didn't really have a chance to take any of the categories.  There were some absolutely amazing works of art in there.  I have some pics and I'll share those in a bit too.  One of the cherries on top of this was that Dave Taylor was one of the judges, and Andy Chambers picked the overall winner!  I've been following Dave Taylor's blog since I got started in the hobby about three years ago, and if you don't know who Andy Chambers is, then you should know that he is an amazing game designer that has worked on nearly everything GW and since leaving them he has worked on a lot of awesome things like Starcraft 2.  I still haven't met Dave Taylor, I keep just missing him everywhere I go around here.  I just want to shake that dude's hand and say what an inspiration his work is to me.  Some day, perhaps.

Drop Zone Games

     This place is incredible!  You can find their fledgling site here where you can get their address, and check out any coming events.  This used to be the Glen Bernie Battle Bunker for Games Workshop.  When they closed the store and moved it south to Bowie, I don't think they made a great change.  The new store has really high ceilings so the place can get loud.  While the bunker certainly does have nice tables in quantity it was always a bit of a pain to drive there.  Drop Zone has plenty of tables, good terrain, and capacity to have large events without a problem.  The staff is extremely charismatic and they're all veterans in this industry.  They really put the average GW store to shame with the volume of knowledge they have in the hobby and community.

     After having played in GW stores only since moving to Maryland, it was a huge treat to take in the sights and sounds of non-GW games being played.  The store carries nearly every major table top game I could think of trying, along with a huge amount of 2nd party conversion bits, decorative bases, and hobby supplies.  They also have PROPER hobby area with swivel lamps, nice seating, and tons of area.

     This all might sound like a commercial, well it sort of is.  This is exactly what I want in an independent gaming retailer.  It's not a comic store that has a few tables made of cheap plywood, with little terrain that has been bashed to hell, and a very limited selection of actual table top wares.  This place isn't that.  This place is exactly what you'd want near your house.

     Even though it might not be near your house, you'd not be doing yourself a disservice to travel a bit to get here and check this place out.  I'll be gaming here every chance I get until I move.

The Competition Models

     As I mentioned, there were some amazing models in this competition.  Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the other category winners, which is a shame.  By the time I got done shooting the shit with some of the other fine folks there, grabbed my gear and made some purchases, it slipped my mind to go back and get pics.  The large model winner had already left and had taken the model with him.  But there were some other very strong entries and I got some pics of them for you:

Freebootaz!  Love that model.

An AMAZING Kommando Nob with very impressive night vision goggles

Kommandos to go with the above Nob.  This guy won Large Model with an awesome Ork aircraft for Aeronautica

Dust has some crazy models.  This one is almost disturbing.  Love the rusty look.

It's kinda disgusting, but also awesome.

Dust, as I said, has some strong models.  The vehicles are the strongest.

I have a huge crush on everything Soda Pop Miniatures does.  These Super Dungeon Explore models are rad.

Arbites?  Whatever they are, they're great.

Another Dust unit.  Great camo details.

Harlequins are always awesome to see painted up.  I should have gotten a shot of those Incubi on the right side as well.

     Since I mentioned Dave Taylor, I noticed that Dave had a diorama in the case.  It's one that he had submitted for Games Day Chicago 2012, and it was a finalist.  It's an amazing piece and you can check it out at his blog.  There's some nice details in this thing, here are a couple of close-ups:

     I hope you've enjoyed looking at some fantastic models, and join me next time where I'll be bringing some progress update on my Blitza Bombah!  I refuse to spell it "bommer" as that doesn't seem Orky enough.  Cheers!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finished Valkyrie with Secret Weapon Base!

It's Been a Long Time

     It has taken me a very (read: VERY!) long time to complete this model.  Rightfully so!  It's not an easy kit to assemble, even more difficult if you're constantly fretting over which bits should be painted before assembling.  This kit isn't for beginners, even the ones that don't intend to paint the model.

     This represents quite a few milestones for me.  This is the largest Warhammer 40K model I've ever assembled and painted.  This is also the first time that I've had a pre-made resin base.  I absolutely fell in love with Secret Weapon Minisatures' Urban Street bases (see previous post).  The base was so easy to paint that it almost felt like cheating.  Not cheating enough for me NOT to use it.

     I'll have some more pictures and a funny story about the Valkyrie in a bit, but first I want to talk about the base.

The Joy of Basing

     As I said above, this was a joy to paint.  I got to experiment with all sorts of techniques that I have been wanting to try.  I think the end results were pretty good and I learned a bit about different methods of applications of weathering powders.

     Before I could paint it, I needed to make sure that I could fix the flight stand such that it would sit flat on the base.  The elevated portion of the base, containing the side walk, was the challenge.  I decided that I would try a bit of carving.  I went to a hobby store and purchased a cheap wood working kit that had a few carving tools.  I looked for one that had the width of one of the "fins" of the flight stand (the typical GW one) and lucked out with one that was just slightly larger.  I then traced out the footprint of the flight stand on the bare resin base with a pencil.  I then started carving into my perfectly nice base.  You can clearly see the carved out portion here:

     Took some guts to do this to this beautiful base

     Once I was sure I was getting close to a good fit, I just kept test fitting and shaving off smaller amounts each time.  At the end, the flight stand fit perfectly!  Here is a close look at the result:

     Since the "fin" that I had carved out that little trench for was sunken ever so slightly into the base, I was sure to use a more daring amount of glue on that portion of the stand.  It seems like I have a good strong fix between the stand and the base, but I'll likely always treat it a bit gingerly just in they desire to divorce themselves of each other.

The Gunners: Frick and Frack

     The final piece I had to complete on this model was the door gunners.  I had spent a fair bit of time making sure the cabin was detailed, and I had made sure to magnetize the gun cradles to the swing arms such that I could be truly WYSIWYG if I should opt NOT to take the two Heavy Bolter door guns.  With all that work in place, I knew that I wanted to put some real detail into the door gunners themselves.  Obviously I wouldn't spend as much time as I had on some of my infantry models, such as my command squad, but I wanted them to still stand up to some scrutiny.  So here they are:

Frick on the left, Frack on the right

     I made sure that they matched the infantry but yet looked a little bit different such that they represented flight crew, not ground slogging infantry.  Their armor is fresher looking, no bullet holes or rusting.  They have flight suits so no camo spots either.  I spent a bit of time making sure those visors on their helmets had some very subtle light streaks and spots.  After all that, here's what you see of them when they're installed:

Detail work?  Totally worth it.  Just look at that visor!

     Yes, I do feel like a bit of an idiot.  I'm a slow painter because I'm still not super great at NOT painting bits of the model in less detail.  That's truly a talent in and of itself.  Dave Taylor, ex-GW man and the absolute master of the fast army, is my hero because of that ability alone.  I've see his work on his blog and everything is simple and elegant.  While he's capable of finely detailed paint jobs, he doesn't do it unless he has to for the most part.  He knows how to spend the effort on the parts of the model that the eye naturally clings to.  Maybe I'll be able to do that some day.  Oh and if you think the above photo is bad, wait until you see it with the wing attached!

What door gunner?


     I really feel that this was a pretty good milestone for me.  I'm proud of the model, but I'm also immensely pleased to have it OFF my painting table and in my display cabinet.  I've got another Valkyrie kit sitting here, but that will have to wait.  I have an Ork flyer to paint!

     I was worried that this paint scheme wouldn't fit in with my army.  I wanted the Valkyries to stand apart because they are flyers, and I reasoned that they shouldn't have the same camo pattern as my tanks.  To that end, I went with a bit of a "stealthier" look since these things will be shuttling two Storm Trooper squads around.  Just to make sure that it would still fit, I added those stripes.  I think that did the trick.  Here are some pictures with a few of my infantry to compare:

     I had some fun staging those two pictures.  Some day, when I have a table and some terrain, I could see myself wasting some time setting up some scenes with my models.  Full man-child achievement unlocked!

     I have a game lined up for tomorrow.  I think I'll be taking my Guard along for shits and giggles.  Might as well start to learn how to use them a bit.  Additionally I've been dying to mess about with a flyer so this gives me the perfect excuse.

     I leave you with a few more pictures of the Valkyrie:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Secret Weapon Miniatures Resin Bases First Impressions

I'll gladly pay someone to do this for me

     I'm not a fan of making bases myself.  I've done it, and I might even dare say that I've done it well in a few cases.  Nothing fancy, nothing amazing, but clean and simple bases for models I intend to use quite often.  When I started working on my Imperial Guard, I wanted to really try on some of those bases.  I really did put some extra effort, but still with an eye to the fact that these models were intended to be played on a table, not sat on a plinth for display.  After I finished 25 infantry models, I made an executive decision: I'll gladly pay someone to make something a bit fancier than what I'm capable of doing.

     Enter Secret Weapon Miniatures!

     The concept with my Imperial Guard, when I started, was that I would have the Veterans/Regulars have a mix of dirt and urban rubble.  Some cement blocks but some brown earth and some flock.  I then wanted the more elite portion of my army to be the real urban warfare types.  To this end I would have two Storm Trooper squads and two Valkyries with urban streets and rubble as their bases.  I found exactly what I was looking for on Secret Weapon's site.  Here they are!

     I also recently purchased an Ork flyer kit.  My Orks have a very simple base theme.  Muddy dirt.  Lots of rich browns to be properly Orky.  It would compliment the orange color that I had picked as my war band's primary color.  Looking around Secret Weapon's site again, I found this!  Painted to match, that "desert wasteland" could easily fit into my mudpocalypse theme.

Got it, opened it, and here's what I think

     The bases arrived by mail, and I was all too happy to tear into the envelope.  I should mention now that this is the first time I've ever purchased resin bases, so there was a lot of impressions to be had here.  The bases are incredible.  While the large oval bases clearly steal the show, even the small infantry bases have loads of details and importantly lots of space onto which I can place the model.  There's only a tiny bit of flashing around the edges of the bases that can either be filed off or even just scraped off with a blade.

Large Ovals

     I was worried about the sizing of the large oval bases.  The Urban Streets variety said on the site that it was 90x120mm but the Desert Wasteland one said 95x120mm.  Well I'm happy to report that they are in fact the same size and also the same size as the Games Workshop large oval base.

Same size! 

     I will have to do a slight bit of carving to get the flight stand on that Urban Streets base.  Not too much, though and I'll have to be delicate about it.  I'm thinking about getting an actual carving tool to make sure I do it as cleanly as possible.  The Desert Wasteland might need a very slight amount as well.

Infantry Bases

     The small bases are perfect.  I'll need no sort of tweaking to make a model fit, which is great.  There are a decent amount of variation, though I'm sure I'll enhance that through added bits to the base, be it flocking or painting.  I still want my Storm Troopers to look really unique, and I haven't locked in how I want to achieve that just yet.  What will be important is if I end up with metal, plastic, or resin models because I might have to do some pinning to make sure the models fight tightly to the bases.

     The only concern I could see someone else having (me, I don't give a toss) is that the added modeling material that Secret Weapon Miniatures has used  on top of the standard base raises the height of the infantry model about a quarter of an inch.  Seen here:

The rest of the men will need platform boots to keep up!

     It's not such a huge thing to me, but I'm sure that some neck-beard out there would have an absolute conniption if he thought that this quarter inch would deny his men critical cover in a game.  I don't care at all, whatsoever, and thus I'll just smile and nod.


     Good quality.  The oval bases are certainly center pieces, the infantry bases aren't so complex that you can't fit a figure on it, and the price seems very reasonable to me.  It's a dollar a base for the infantry bases and $10 for the large ovals.  If you are striving to make your army really stand out from the others around you, this might be a good route to go.  If you're tired of making your own bases, and you'd like to pay someone else to do it for you, Secret Weapons ain't a bad choice at all.

     Final note: if you do get resin bases, always make sure you wash them in warm soapy water to remove any of the mold release agent residue that might still be there.  Paint and mold release do not mix, and bad things will happen.  You will be a sad panda.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chaplain all finished! Compare it to my first ever mini!

Chaplain Complete!

     Yay!  It's done!  This model is still one of my most favorite models from GW.  It's tough looking and menacing.  I'm a fan of chaplains in the game in general but this one is just the most aggressive looking of the bunch.  I've painted two now, maybe one day I'll paint one that I own.

     I decided, upon completion of this model, that what I had in my hands was what I very well might describe as my best painted mini to date.  There are things I could have done better, details I could have spent more time on, and I've yet to date not ventured away from using metallic paints thus all this leads me to still be sure in that this isn't Golden Demon quality.  Here are some other pics of the Chaplain:

     Since I'm so fond of the model, I decided to take a moment, open up my display cabinet and pull out the first model I had ever painted.  It was just about 5 years ago that I had purchased the Assault on Black Reach Painting Starter Kit.  It came with five snap-together marines, six horrible paints (really rubbery), and one less than optimal brush.  I remember how proud I was of that first model.  How proud I was after completing all five!  I still feel the same way when I complete any new model.

     With this old model in my hand, I gave it a good going over with my more skilled eye.  It looks silly to me now, but it still makes me smile.  Considering I was using a really horrible brush and really horrible paints, it's not that bad...  no, it's bad.  But it's mine, and you never forget your first.

The Good Old Days

     Thanks for reading!  Hope you've enjoyed the progress pics of the Chaplain.  Up next I have to ABSOLUTELY finish my Valkyrie.  That bastard has been lurking around my painting table for far too long and it's time it did something useful.  I have some fancy resin bases on order from Secret Weapons Miniatures so once those come in I'll be sure to give a brief review.  I should be able to order the last bits needed for my Guard army within this next month.  I'm excited about that, but I'm even MORE excited about being able to put together my Ork flyer!  Airborne WAAAGH!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Chaplain progress and Vehicle movement cheating

Chaplain Progress

     Here is an updated shot of the commissioned Chaplain.  Still a bunch of work to do, but I'm very close.  The client apologized as he later mentioned to his brother-in-law that he thought I was raising the price on him.  Thankfully his brother-in-law was there when I agreed to paint it for $35.  He then paid me $40.  Conflict resolved.

     Having never painted yellow on this type of miniature (I did yellow stripes on my Firestorm Armada Dendrenzi ships) I certainly learned some lessons.  I started with a brown base and built it up to what you see there.  As usual, soon after finishing all the yellow, happened to check Dave Taylor's blog and he had done some wonderful work on a Lamenters assault marine.  I could tell that he had based with orange and built up from there.  The effect is better, in my opinion, so should I find myself doing yellow marines, I'll be trying that.

     There are plenty of details and final highlights yet to go.  I need to work on the base as well, but regardless I'm going to heavily seal this puppy because he'll be receiving some serious table time.  I certainly know that yellow is fun to weather though.  This is for true.  Anways, more pics:

Vehicle Movement Cheating

     I watched a video on Youtube from Beasts of War.  If you're not familiar with this group, they do a bunch of videos concerning a multitude of table top war games.  On one of their recent videos, Darrell (their resident rules-lawyer and self appointed "Cheese Master".  His new found strategy for using Land Speeders involved cheating.  That sounds harsh but I'm calling a spade a spade.

     In his example, he placed his Land Speeder right up on the deployment line, with the nose of the LS pointing towards the short table edge, and his side facing the enemy.  When it is his turn, he pivots the LS 90 degrees to now face his opponent, then measures 12" from the front of the vehicle to move.  The net result is that he has gained an inch by pivoting the LS before he measures the move.

     This is just completely wrong.  Page 71 of the BRB covers vehicle movement.  They say that you should measure from the hull.  Pivoting does not reduce the vehicle's movement.  Vehicles that pivot but otherwise stay stationary don't count as having moved.  Now that all those facts are there, let me say this:  if you measure from where Darrell's LS started at the beginning of his movement phase, to where it ends, that's 13".  There's no other way to describe that.  He pivots then moves.  The pivot can be PART of the move, and the rules certainly state that there's no penalty for that, but it also describes the total distance a model as moved as determining the "speed" the vehicle is traveling at.

     If you want to LEGALLY achieve this effect, you can pivot on your first turn, then move on your second.  Technically you've gained the same inch, but you've done it within the constructs of the rules.

     If pivoting the vehicle, then measuring the move is okay, then I should similarly be allowed to pivot my Nob Bikers, and the Forgeworld Warboss on his bike because I can stand to gain inches there.  Quite frankly this is all bullshit.  If you intend to move a vehicle, don't touch the vehicle until you determine the distance and thus the final location the vehicle will be moved to.  You avoid this rules breaking nonsense and everyone goes home without a number of new stab wounds.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chaplain commission progress, and Valkyrie

Terminator Chaplain Commission

     A person I know at work started getting into 40K some time back.  I might have left retail quite some time ago, but apparently I still have the touch of selling people on things.  I do it while trying not to sometimes.  He asked me to paint up this Terminator Chaplain.  I agreed to do it for just $35.  I felt that was reasonable and I know that I was going to deliver him a top notch figure.  Obviously I don't do this for the money, but since I'm taking time away from finishing up my Valkyrie, a little compensation is only fair, I feel.  I had made some good progress (despite having to paint parts of him yellow... ugh) and he is looking decent, as you can see above.

     Today at work he asked how it was going, and I said it was going very well indeed.  I've been spending quite a lot of time on the figure, but he will be supremely happy when he sees it.  He then tells me that he hopes it's worth the $30.  "You mean $35."  And then he stares at me confused.  "We agreed on $35."  I know, it's five dollars and that's maybe a bit too small of a figure to argue over but I've had a history of frustration with this guy in and out of work, so I wasn't capitulating.  He swears to me, up and down, that I said $30.  "Why would I make that up?" I asked him.  I told him that I would be happy to return the figure after I clean off the paint, because I wasn't going to play this game over $5.  I'm not pleased with the situation.  I'm especially upset about this because I've done some good detail work, on the helmet for example.  I was looking forward to being proud to present this to this guy when I was done.

Speaking of Valkyries

     There she is!  Getting closer!  I just added the stripes last, and they need to be roughed up and made to look more part of the model.  I'm looking forward to that.  Really there's only weathering and some detail work left to do.  I've amused my wife to no end with my antics flying the Valkyrie around making engine purposefully obnoxious engine noises and cheesy "PEW PEW!" laser sounds.  She smiles, either out of pitty or shame... or BOTH!  With our first child due to arrive later this year (a boy, no less) I'm sure she'll have plenty other things to worry about.  Namely my influence on the poor child.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Valkyrie Progress and 6th Edition Games

Valkyrie Ain't Easy Being Un-Finished-y

Work on the Valkyrie has continued, though clearly slow.  I glued down the canopy so my work on the canopy is finished for sure.  Here are some shots:

I've completed all of the base coating for the outside of the vehicle.  I also tried just dry brushing to bring out edge highlighting, but I just wasn't happy with that.  I then took the longer hard road of edge highlighting.  That was pretty tedious.  Turns out there are a crap ton of edges on this bastard.  I took my time.  Results were good though, and I took the opportunity to do some scratches and general light weathering.

Still got a lot of work to do, and I'll eventually ... do it.  I guess.

6th Edition Games

I've now finished two games of 6th edition and I've got to say that I've found it to be absolutely enjoyable.  The random charge ranges have made for some really interesting turns in these games.  In one particular failed charge by my opponent, it completely gave me an advantage in escaping what could have been a potentially fatal assault.  My opponent would have been able to make the assault in 5th edition.  The life span of vehicles does seem to really be limited, but thankfully my Ork Trukk was pretty soft before.  I'm doing alright.  I am sad that someone at the store walked up to me, glanced at my Nob Bikers and said "I've really got to get those for my Ork army, because now they're just AMAZING!"  Er... ok.  They're slightly better but some things are slightly worse.  On the measure, I'd say you had just as much reason to take them in 5th as you did in 6th.  Perhaps some of those reasons are different.