Friday 31 January 2020

Eppings for Silent Death

I recently uncovered a box of Silent Death fighters that I had forgotten. While Silent Death isn’t one of my ‘5 Projects’, I decided that I could use them as my time-filler figures. 

Generally, I like to paint one figure at a time, so that I can really focus and enjoy working on it. This system works fine, most of the time, except when I put a heavy wash on something. Then, I often have to wait upwards of ten minutes while the wash dries. In those times, I like to have a few time-filler figures. For these, I like figures that are quick-to-paint and that don’t have too much detail or complex paint schemes, so Silent Death fighters work perfectly.

Since I have recently been painting my ‘wash-heavy’ Nazgul, I’ve had more time that usual for these time-fillers, and have actually managed to finish up a pair of them.

Among fans of Silent Death, the Epping is a legendary ship. It’s basically a missile boat, with a crew of four and three, devastating, missile launchers. When the game was first released, it was one of the scariest ships in the game, and even years later, with loads of power-creep, it’s still a dangerous opponent. The first version of the Epping figure was extremely ungainly and ugly. While I doubt anyone would call this new design ‘lovely’, it is a vast improvement.

I painted these guys up as part of my ‘Fire Hawks’ Legion, and they’re sporting the decals as can sort of be seen in the blurry photo here. I also found some tiny little numbers in my decal collection (not sure where they are from) that I put on their other wings. So these are Eppings 100 and 102. The decals not only add some great little detail, but will be useful for identification purposes during a game. Assuming I can read those tiny numbers.

I mounted these guys on cut-down flight bases. Personally, I hate the standard gaming flight stand which is something like 3” tall. It makes no particular sense when playing on a two-dimensional board and, because they are so heavily top-weighted, they fall over all the time, potentially chipping the paint! It also makes them hard to store when not in use. So, I just cut the tops off the stand and glued the top straight into the base. I think it works much better.

So, I’ll prime up another couple which will sit on my painting deck, awaiting the washes to come.

These figures can be purchased here.

Monday 27 January 2020

Ghost Archipelago: Stargazer

I had so much fun painting my new Frostgrave warband at the end of last year, I thought I would try to do it again – this time for Ghost Archipelago. I have yet to decide on most of the figures I will use, but I knew from the beginning that I wanted this one.

This is actually a Frostgrave: Astromancer figure. He is basically a magical astronomer. However, because he’s holding up that astrolabe-like device, he also has something of the navigator about him. It is easy to see him standing in the prow of a ship, plotting its position and course in a dark sea.

There is a lot of detail on the figure, which made it both challenging and fun to paint. A lot of that detail is on his back, where he’s carrying a load of equipment, including a huge, cased, telescope.

In game terms, I’ll start by using him as a standard crewman, since he doesn’t map well onto any of the standard soldiers. However, once my warband reaches higher levels, I’m going to come up with some rules for a ‘Stargazer’ legendary soldier and give him some cool special powers or abilities.

For now though, he becomes the first member of my new crew! Ideally, I’ll have the new crew done in time to take to Adepticon, but it is going to a busy few months, and I don’t know if that is going to happen. We’ll see.

Friday 10 January 2020

Gandalf (and the Nazgul)

If I went back through my life, I have probably painted about 20 different Gandalf figures, both official and not. I don’t see this as a problem. He is arguably the greatest character in the history of fantasy, and he’s fun to paint. By why another one? Why this one?

Well, over the last year, I have felt myself moving away from the official The Lord of the Rings figure range. I still think they are beautiful miniatures, and I’m certainly proud of my little Minas Tirith army, but, there are several issues.  First, it has proved tiresome trying to keep up with all of the re-packagings, out-of-printings, casting material changes, Forge World vs. GW availability, price-hikings, etc. I just don’t have the time to pay attention. The bigger reason though, is that I’ve realized that the figures are just too small and their features too fine for me to fully enjoy painting them. I know this means they are more realistic – like I said, they are beautiful – but they don’t mesh well with where I find enjoyment in painting – especially as my eyes have gotten older.

I’m sure I’ll paint some more in the future, as I still would like to add a few bits to my army, but when it comes to characters, I’ve decided that I will look to other ranges. The best part about this is that I can choose figures that are closer to my personal vision of the characters, rather than the movie interpretations, as good as most of those are. When I first saw this figure, I knew I wanted him for my Gandalf. Okay, his staff isn’t quite right, but otherwise I think he is spot on! It should probably come as no surprise to readers of my blog that he’s another Bobby Jackson sculpt, from Reaper.

Painting proved pretty straightforward on this one. I mean, it’s mostly shades of grey, and all of the great folds in the cloak and robes made shading and blending really easy. Actually, this ease meant that I spent more time on it, because I was enjoying it so much. I didn’t get quite the shade of blue I was looking for on the hat, but its good enough.

Really, the only part of the process I didn’t absolutely love was hacking the figure off its integral base, but that only took 20 minutes or so.

So, scratch off one more on my Fellowship of the Ring project. I only have Boromir, Gimli, and Pippin to go, though I haven’t identified minis for any of them yet. (I haven’t shown either Frodo or Merry. I have painted figures for them, but I’m not completely happy with them. Still they will do until better ones come along.)

Oh, and as you can see, I finished a second Nazgul as well!

Wednesday 8 January 2020

The First Temptation

Less than a day after posting my new plan for miniatures, I faced my first major temptation to break it…

I was in W. H. Smith, and as always, I gave the extensive magazine rack a quick perusal. And there it was, Mortal Realms Magazine #1, the latest ‘thing’ from Games Workshop. Of course, to call it a ‘magazine’ is disingenuous*. Really, it is a set of 13 miniatures, plus some dice, that just happens to come with a free magazine. But here is the kicker, it costs £3.


There is no way around it; this is one of the best money-to-miniature deals in the history of the hobby.

Now, when it comes to Age of Sigmar, I have no strong opinion. I think some of the miniatures are lovely, and this includes the ones offered in this set. I find the lore behind the game mostly impenetrable. The game itself is not for me, but plenty of people seem to have fun with it. But £3 for 13 really nice miniatures? And those ghosty things would make great spectres for playing Rangers of Shadow Deep: Ghost Stone

I picked it up. I examined it from all angles. I put it back on the shelf. Then I picked it up again. I considered buying two or three copies and getting an army of ghosts for £9! I pondered how I could get it in my bag (not planning to steal it; I’d just come on my bike).

But I had a plan for my miniatures, and this wasn’t in it! I mean, I could always modify the plan right? Just get these now, and they could be the next project after I finish one of my five.
I mean, I’d have to be pretty dumb not to buy 13 Games Workshop miniatures for £3 right?

Finally, taking a deep breath, I put it back on the shelf and walked out of the store. Honestly, it wasn't easy.

In the end, I managed to resist, not because I had a plan, but because of the truth that lies behind my plan. Buying these miniatures would not increase my enjoyment of the hobby, in fact, they would decrease it. They would distract from the projects that I had carefully identified as the ones I most want to pursue. 

So, by walking out of the store empty-handed, I not only felt £3 richer, but I once again felt freer to pursue the projects that are really important to me. It was like that great moment in The Fellowship of the Ring where Bilbo finally lets go of the ring, steps outside, and breathes the fresh air of freedom.

I won. I beat the world that is constantly trying to pull me apart with distraction, and I am stronger for it.

None of this, of course, is an attack on the product itself. Like I said, it’s an amazing deal, and if starting Age of Sigmar was something I was really excited about, I’d be all over this. But I’m not, and thankfully, I was able to remember this before pulling out my wallet.

Of course, now I’ve shown this deal to you, dear reader, you are faced with the same question! Irony, I suppose. (Although only if you live in the UK or Spain as its not available anywhere else!).

*In the UK, magazines (and books) are exempt from the 20% Value Added Tax that is applied to most commercial items. There is a whole industry devoted to taking advantage of this loophole by packaging things as free-gifts with a magazine.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Miniature Projects 2020

In the last few months of 2019, I had something of an epiphany with regards to my miniature hobby, and how having a large number of unpainted miniatures was actually sucking the fun out of it. I spent the rest of last year working the lead pile down to next to nothing. With that achieved, I have taken the next step, which is to try and put a system into place so that it doesn’t build up again, and so that I stay focused on the projects that truly bring me fun and fulfilment.

To that end, I bought a new notebook (I have a notebook buying problem, but that’s a different issue). I wrote down all of the miniature projects I was interested in pursuing, from big armies to little warbands. I then took any project that involved more than 10 miniatures, and subdivided it into projects consisting of no more than 10 miniatures. I then picked the 5 that I most wanted to work on, and accomplish, right now.

And that’s my new system. At any time, I will have no more than five projects on the go, and none of the projects can consist of more than ten figures. I am only allowed to buy miniatures if they are needed for one of those five projects – or if they are a single figure that adds to something I’ve already done (so a new Frostgrave monsters, or what have you).

Since none of my projects involve more than 10 figures, I should, hopefully, be finishing projects on a semi-regular basis. Whenever I finish a project, I plan to do two things. First, do a complete review and cleaning of my painting set-up. So, see if I need any new brushes, or to order any more paint, etc. This should mean I’m always working with a quality set-up. Then, I will review my current interests and see if there is another project I would like to add to my list. This isn’t a given – if there is nothing that current has me excited, I will leave the slot open.

This is actually an important point - one of the problems I had before was overloading myself, so that when something new and interesting came along, I didn’t have any capacity to take it on.

So, after a lot of thought, here’s a brief summary of the 5 projects I am currently working on. I’ll talk more about each as I show off some figures.

1. The Fellowship of the Ring
I’m currently painting up a new Fellowship of the Ring featuring figures that match my mental vision of the characters. I have already showed off Legolas, Aragorn, and Sam, and I’m currently working on Gandalf.

2. The Nazgul
Reaper recently released a new set of ‘Wraiths’ in their Bones range that just perfectly fit my mental image of the Ringwraiths. You can see the first one that I have painted above. There are only six different poses, though one is definitely the Witch King, so I will either have to convert, or just put up with some duplicates. I haven’t decided yet.

3. Ghost Archipelago Warband
I had so much fun painting up my new Frostgrave warband, I wanted to do the same for Ghost Archipelago. I’ve acquired a couple of figures for it, but haven’t actually started on it yet.

4. Space Hulk Squad
This is an idea I’ve had for a long time, but always lost out to figures from the lead pile. Basically, I’d like to paint up a squad of the old, metal terminator marines for classic Space Hulk. I’ll have to get them off ebay, but I don’t think they are hard to come by. If I enjoy this, it’ll be just the first of my Space Hulk related projects.

5. Rangers of Shadow Deep
I showed off my new Ranger awhile back, but I want to give her a full team that I can either used to play solo, or break in half to play co-operatively. I haven’t yet decided exactly what is going into this.

So that’s it. Put all five projects together, and it is only a total of 41 figures, and some of those are already painted. I’m not painting figures nearly as fast as I used to (but I’m enjoying it so much more) so I have no idea how long this will take. I suspect, if I just focus on these, it will take most of the year, though other projects may come along as these are completed, and they’ll probably be some one-off figures here and there.

We will see. For now, I’m very happy to have a plan that will hopefully keep me focused on the things I really want to accomplish, and keep me from buying things I don’t need. That said, when I see some really cool figures, I make a note of them in my notebook, and I can return to them whenever I complete a project. Putting them in a notebook really helps keep them out of my head!