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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Karios is coming along nicely

After getting Sergeant Karios — my first Blood Angels model — assembled last night, I squeezed in a bit more hobby time and tackled three members of his squad.

I started with the three that seemed like they would have the most built-in personality: the sub-squad leader, the dude who commands the other half of the squad if it splits up at the start of the game; the special weapon model; and the heavy weapon model.

All the bits for the sub-squad leader

I like laying everything out like this so that I can think about the character and which pieces to use, but also to help ensure I don’t make any mistakes — glue on two left arms, pick arms from different sets (A+B, etc.), or the like.

All three of them ready to rock

Citadel’s Mouldline Remover tool (paid link) is my MVP for today. This little thing is so useful, and so quick at accomplishing its specific task, that it helps make this process a relaxing one.

I was surprised and delighted at how often I asked myself, “What would he wear?” and “What kind of marine is this guy?” while I was getting these guys sorted out. And as I started getting a little picture of each of these characters, it became easy to find the right option on the sprue — and then the right pose. That was a ton of fun.

The painting handle is a versatile little tool

There’s definitely a learning curve here; I’ve never put together miniatures this detailed before, nor with this many parts. I still struggle with the most fragile bits, especially the dangling blood drop charms. I snipped one off yesterday by accident; I glued one to a leg on purpose today to stop it from inevitably getting snapped off.

But on the whole these are fantastic models. Every piece fits perfectly, they ooze personality and are awash in details, and they’re an absolute blast to build. They’re not cheap, but there’s a reason for that.

So close!

Aaaand done!

Sergeant Karios rocking a huge banner, the sub-squad leader (mechanically, just a marine), plasma, and heavy bolter

I am very much here for the fictional and roleplaying side of my Faceless Strike Force: naming the sergeants and squads, thinking about where they’ve fought (and where, from looking at their bases, they’re “currently” fighting), and generally engaging with the lore — which I’ve always loved. That plus Rule of Cool is guiding my choices.

Why is the sub-squad leader a beakie marine? Because he’s ancient, and prefers the old-style helmet. Why plasma for my lone special weapon? Because I really want to try my hand at painting the plasma chamber.

And hey, look who came in the mail: Commander Dante! Most likely the oldest living Space Marine, commander of the Blood Angels chapter, and a damned cool mini — how could I not have this beast leading the charge? I need to read up on how to assemble resin minis, though; I know to wash them and use superglue rather than plastic glue, but that’s about it.

Trust me, that armor has huge nipples under the aquila

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: splitting my time, first Blood Angels model

It hit me that when I finish my Space Hulk minis I might, in that happy glow of satisfaction at finally completing a task I began in 2009, stall out and loose my painting momentum. I decided to start a second parallel hobby track, assembling Blood Angels, so that when my Termies are done I’m already in the middle of my next project.

I kicked this hobby session off by getting these two Termies shaded, since washes take a bit of time to dry.

Noctis and Zael drying after being shaded

Then I broke out my Blood Angels Tactical Squad box, assembled all my Gunpla tools — plus my newly acquired Citadel Mouldline Remover (paid link). I’ve always struggled with mold lines, and this looked like a handy tool to have.

Excluding the hobby knife (I have a couple), my other tools are from this little kit I bought on Amazon (paid link). It’s been a great kit, and the files and buffing board are useful for minis. The only tool I don’t love is the nippers, but unlike Gunpla — where a bad nip will really mess up the look of an unpainted model — it seems like light nip marks will be masked by primer and paint.

The options feel overwhelming

I thought about starting with a grunt in case I made mistakes, but decided to start with the sergeant since he would “flavor” the whole squad: I’ll be naming the squad after him (and naming all my squads, of course).

Oops

Ha ha, this little dangling blood drop was too fragile to survive being trimmed off the sprue with a hobby knife. I thought nipping would mangle it, but in hindsight I should have nipped. Ah well, nothing a quick filing-down can’t take care of. It’s only a priceless heirloom that this thousand-year-old warrior has carried into countless battles, after all . . .

Baby steps

It felt really good to glue his little legs down! A literal first step.

I’m also quite liking the mold line remover. The back of my hobby knife is free, but it’s not curved and it seems like it’d be all to easy to cut myself or accidentally snip off something near what I’m scraping.

I see why people have special clips for this

Compared to the two Deadzone miniatures I started assembling (Huscarl, Captain), which were so poorly sculpted that they prompted me to sell all my Deadzone stuff, this was a great experience. Even though this sergeant is composed of a whopping 14 separate pieces — more than I’ve ever assembled for a single figure — they all went together perfectly, and the whole process was supported equally well by the instruction booklet.

And the reward for using 14 pieces was a staggering amount of customization and a good amount of posability. This is an incredibly detailed model, and having a myriad of choices in how to kit it out was enjoyable.

I’m going by Rule of Cool but also paying attention to the actual 8th edition 40k rules — because while Rule of Cool says this guy would look awesome with a Combi-Melta in one hand and an Assault Cannon in the other, that’s just creating headaches for myself down the line when he can’t actually see table play.

So I picked two weapons that looked cool (but were also valid choices) and test-fit everything before putting glue to plastic. Which was a good idea, because the massive wings on his original right pauldron wouldn’t fit with the Hand Flamer.

Sergeant Karios, Tactical Squad Commander

And with that, I’ve officially started the process of building my Blood Angels army: Sergeant Karios, resplendent in his glorious nipple armor, reporting for duty!

After that I circled back and drybrushed and sealed Zael and Noctis, leaving me just two more Termies to go before Space Hulk is complete.

Ready to rid the space between the stars of heretics
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: closing the book on the Librarian

My goal for tonight was to take the Librarian — Terminator 8/12 — as close to completion as possible. I started out with him about 80% base-coated, still needing lots of little fixes and detail work, and got him through to the next stage.

This was one of those nights where it felt like every time I touched the mini, it got worse. He’s quite extra, color-wise, adding Flash Gitz Yellow, Kislev Flesh, Mechanicus Grey, and Army Painter’s Toxic Mist — which didn’t help.

But on the plus side, my painting area has a new mascot presiding over it now — a Funko Pop! Blood Angels Assault Marine (paid link).

For the Emperor and Sanguinius!

I may use his shiny yellow head for transfer practice at some point — but now back to painting.

I usually paint to either my all-time favorite work/create album, Nicolay’s City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya or a playlist of Timecop 1983 tracks, but today has sucked some big ol’ balls so I’m switching to one of my all-time favorite hip-hop albums, Die Antwoord’s Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid.

One washed Librarian

It wasn’t a relaxing wash, like they usually are . . . but it was a wash.

D-U-N-N

I was going to call it done here, feeling okay overall — and even having taken a stab at an energy effect on his Power Axe and continued to dip my toes into the edge highlighting pool — but I looked at those big blank pages and said fuck it.

So I went back in with Mechanicus Standard Grey and did my first-ever freehand faux-text.

Fueled by a bad mood and fantastic South African hip-hop

And then I said fuck it again and made the possibly ill-advised choice to go back and freehand the larger scrolls on the two previous minis where I’d ignored them. How am I going to grow as a painter if I don’t make some ill-advised choices?

“The sacred scroll says, ‘-:~~..-~,’ brother. What does it mean?”

Four more to go!

SOON
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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk

Space Hulk Terminators: officially over 50% done

With Brother Gideon wrapped up over the weekend and Brother Lorenzo put to bed today, I’ve now painted 7/12 of the Terminators in my Space Hulk set.

Gideon on the left, Lorenzo on the right

I experimented a bit more with edge highlighting on Lorenzo, and so far I like it. I went too far — both in color difference and application — on his gems, but the sword edge and “power lines” came out pretty good.

I’ll probably take a better, less-cluttered picture of the whole gang once they’re done, but here’s a quick and dirty photo to mark this milestone.

Seven down, five to go!

Seeing these guys all together makes me excited to play Space Hulk — and to watch my Blood Angels army come together, once those start hitting my painting mat.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Closing in on 1,000 points of Blood Angels

I settled on building a Blood Angels army for 40k earlier this month, and now I’ve brought it up from 500-600 points to 800-900 (depending on how I build the models). I’ve got Commander Dante on the way, which should put me right on the money for a 1,000-point Vanguard Detachment, or over a thousand if I build it as a Battalion Detachment and add another squad of troops.

For Sanguinius!

Along with the Blood Angels Codex (paid link), which has been a blast to read, I snagged a box each of Death Company (paid link) and Sanguinary Guard (paid link) and some painting supplies. I’m still following the Rule of Cool: buying what I want to paint without worrying about whether it’s an optimal mechanical choice (while also doing it in the framework of building an army, to keep myself pointed at a goal).

Although the Dreadnought and Rhino are larger than anything I’ve painted in 30-plus years, this is still fewer miniatures than what’s in Space Hulk: 23 Genestealers, 12 Terminators, 3 misc. pieces vs. 1 leader/hero, 10 troops, 15 elites, 1 tank, 1 Dreadnought. That feels like a manageable 1,000-point army to paint.

And even with the new paints folded into my collection I’ve got room to spare in my WarpedMindGames paint racks (which I reviewed back in February, and still love)!

I’m planning a couple of changes to my painting regimen once I finish my Space Hulk Terminators and switch to 40k minis. I’ve done a bit of experimentation with edge highlighting some elements and drybrushing others, which I think I’ll step up for my army. I’ve also got some Citadel texture paint, the correct reds for my Angels, and a palette so I can stop dipping my brushes directly into my pots (a big no-no that I’m terrible about!).

And now . . . time to get back to painting!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures WIP it good

WIP it good: Deadzone Enforcer Captain, more problems

After doing a test run for fitment on a Deadzone Forge Father yesterday and being less that thrilled, I figured I’d better try a mini from the other starter force: the Enforcer Captain.

One-piece torso, already a better start

Up until the head, things looked pretty good: Single-piece torso, a bit of posability in the legs and arms, no separate shoulder pads limiting movement.

But the head . . .

Did I leave the house with mismatched socks AGAIN?

The Enforcer heads have gigantic ball joints, and the torsos have shallow socket joints. The only way the ball mostly disappears into the socket is if the head is posed looking at the mini’s own feet. A whole squad all checking to see if their space-laces are untied is going to look bad; the alternative is shaving/filing down that joint until it fits correctly . . . on all of them.

Deadzone looks like a great skirmish game. I’ve got a full setup ready to roll — nice neoprene battle mat, Necromunda-style cardboard terrain, starter box, extra dice. But having both of the forces included in the starter turn out to be sloppy sculpts is really dampening my enthusiasm.

And when I compare these minis to the squad of 40k Tactical Marines I’m itching to build — which I can see are properly sculpted, come with instructions so I don’t accidentally mix up their bits, and should be as fun to work on as my Terminators have been — it’s hard to work up much excitement for Deadzone.

Deadzone feels like a bad investment into which I shouldn’t sink anymore time and money. If Mantic got this core element wrong, which my first impressions suggest they did, what else did they get wrong that I don’t know about yet? And why squander my renewed enthusiasm for miniatures on subpar sculpts when I could be working on amazing Blood Angels models instead?

Time to sell my Deadzone stuff and move on.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Brother Gideon and his glorious shield

I noticed on Warhammer TV that Duncan nearly always thins his paint a bit, which I’ve never tried. I have a palette now, so I thought I’d give it a whirl with another Terminator: Brother Gideon, who has a truly epic Storm Shield.

Trying out a palette for the first time

A month ago, I wouldn’t even have attempted the finer lines on this shield. The palette helps, as does the right brush and ample light (about which I have a short review coming up next week; this light has made a big difference) — and the nice cold bottle of Asahi just off-camera.

I didn’t do this amazing sculpt justice, but this Storm Shield is the most detailed thing I’ve ever painted. I’ll touch it up tomorrow, in better light, along with the rest of Gideon and see how it turns out.

Soon

My Terminator box is slowly starting to fill up. Gideon is 6/12, so if I can finish him and one more Termie tomorrow I’ll be over 50% done.

And then it’s on to my Blood Angels!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniature painting Miniatures Painting tools Space Hulk Warhammer 40k

A brief existential painting crisis

With the end in sight for painting my Space Hulk set, I’ve been thinking about whether to change any of my painting techniques for my Blood Angels army. Like any rabbit hole this question can prove bottomless and intimidating.

What I’m doing now (plus sealant first and varnish last):

  1. Base coat
  2. Shade (wash) the entire miniature
  3. Drybrush

I like how this is turning out on my Terminators, but my third step — an all-over ink wash — really darkens up the miniature. Drybrushing helps it pop again, but their power armor still reads as dark red rather than sort of medium red.

I wondered if layering or edge highlighting might be something to try out, so I poked around, found this handy Citadel color chart (PDF), and started watching Warhammer TV videos. This one comparing two painting processes jumped right out at me.

Excerpt from a free Citadel color chart

In the WHTV video, Duncan Rhodes demonstrates two techniques (again, preceded by primer). One:

  1. Base coat
  2. Shade (wash) only the recesses/cracks/etc. with a fine brush
  3. Edge highlight in a lighter color

And two:

  1. Base coat
  2. Drybrush with a lighter color, but fairly broadly — edges plus larger areas
  3. Shade (wash) the entire miniature

Seeing a drybrush precede a wash blew my mind. It looks great on his finished miniatures (around 14:55 in the video), but I think I still prefer my primary wash (Agrax Earthshade) followed by a drybrush to his wash (Carroburg Crimson) preceded by a drybrush. (Duncan is a much better painter than me; this is just an aesthetic preference on my part.)

I’d been assuming that layering accompanied drybrushing, not preceded it. And maybe that’s an approach some folks take, I don’t know. But it looks like maybe it’s a full-on alternative, not an accompaniment.

On the one hand it’s gratifying to see that my simple approach is more or less a typical one. But on the other hand I really like the idea of edge highlighting and want to give it a shot — but not midstream on my Terminator squad, I don’t think. Maybe I’ll do a test paint job on an old BattleMech, a model I don’t need to match anything else I’m working on at the moment.

Hmm.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Deathskulls Orks Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Starting my Blood Angels army

After doing a ton of reading and noodling about Warhammer 40k factions, I settled on the Blood Angels for my army.

Roughly 500 points of Blood Angels

These are (all paid links):

Three factions enter

The Adeptus Custodes came in a close second, with Orks a somewhat more distant third. I’m always drawn to the elite army in games like these, and the Custodes being able to field a 2,000 point army with a couple dozen models — half the number needed for Space Marines, many less than Astra Militarum or Orks — appealed to me, as did their absolutely badass minis, gold color scheme, and lore. On the Ork front I’ve always liked them, and being able to color-theme your Waaagh! and just sort of cobble together a band of space football hooligans sounded like fun.

But a couple of simple questions (which took me some time to arrive at!) made it no contest:

  1. What 40k minis have I loved since I was a kid?
    • Old-school Terminators
    • Rhino/Razorback tanks
    • Old-school Eldar walkers
  2. Apart from those, which minis look the coolest to me now?
    • Old-school “refrigerator box” Dreadnoughts
    • Sisters of Battle Mortifiers and Penitent Engines
    • Adeptus Custodes Vertus Praetors and Custodian Guard
  3. Why build an army that doesn’t include my favorite units?

So: Space Marines, which check the most boxes on that list (and which can, if desired, ally with Sisters or Custodes and pilfer their coolest units!). Of those factions, the Blood Angels’ lore spoke to me the most: doomed space vampires who eventually succumb to the Black Rage, known for their bloodthirstiness in battle. They’re over the top in such fun ways — and they have the most Dreadnoughts, plus access to BA-specific as well as generic Terminators.

On top of that, when I imagine a Space Marine the first image that pops into my head is always a red one; red is fun to paint, too, and their accent colors — black and gold, mainly — make for a great combo. And the Blood Angels have rad elite units with quite different color schemes for variety: the Sanguinary Guard, golden veterans with angel wings, each wearing a death mask in the image of the previous wearer; and Death Company, black with white and red accents, who are all in the grip of the Black Rage.

When I unpacked all these glorious boxes to check out the plastic within, I was also thrilled and relieved to find a comprehensive Blood Angels transfer sheet in the Dreadnought box. I’d heard these weren’t included in sets anymore, and figured I’d have to raid Ebay so my squads could have accurate markings.

Transfers!

Of my starting units, I think only the vanilla Space Marines need these; the rest have their own transfers or are too blinged out to have room for them (cough cough Terminators).

Squint and imagine my next 12 months of painting

Before ordering my sets I downloaded BattleScribe and used it to play around with various Blood Angels options. The four sets I picked can be configured different ways, but generally shake out to around 500-600 points of models.

As a starting point, half of a 1,000-point army sounded perfect. It’s a manageable amount of painting — 15 human-size figures, 1 Dreadnought, 1 tank — and when I add my next planned purchases I come out right around a thousand points. The Dreadnought and the tank intimidate me as a painter, but that’s healthy too — that’s how I grow.

I’m going solely by Rule of Cool, buying models I love so I can paint them. On that basis my next additions will likely be Commander Dante, a Death Company squad, and a Sanguinary Guard squad. At that point I’ll need one more 5-person squad of troops to have a Battalion, or I could split them up into Vanguard + Patrol instead and have a complete army (again: probably not optimal for play in any way!).

Theme-wise, right now I’m going with “faceless,” which might turn into a name for one of the squads or something — but all it means is everyone wears a helmet. I don’t especially enjoy painting faces, although that will probably change; I love painting helmets; and it’s a fun filter to apply to what’s frankly a staggering range of options.

I’m over the moon with excitement — I can’t wait to paint these minis!

For the Emperor and Sanguinius! Death! DEATH!

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Only $39,940 to go

Painting Terminators — which have been my favorite aspect of the Warhammer 40k universe since I was 12 — for Space Hulk piqued my interest in painting more 40k minis. I read the free rules first to test the waters, and I like what I see in 8th Edition. But like I said in that linked post, it’s the painting side of the hobby that’s drawing me back — paint for sure, play maybe.

In the grim darkness of the far future there is only a lightening of your wallet

There are a couple of local stores (Mox Boarding House, GW Lynnwood) that look like they could be avenues of play for me down the road, but the joy of falling in love with an army and building and painting minis for it is what’s grabbing me right now.

I’ve also started watching battle reports for the factions that interest me. So far MOARHAMMER is my favorite channel, conveying a sense of what it was like to be there in a fun way with crisp editing, a friendly vibe, and — unlike several others I’ve tried! — excellent camera work that doesn’t give me motion sickness. This Adeptus Custodes v. Black Legion BR was my intro to them, and it’s a fun watch.

I’m enjoying reacquainting myself with this universe and game — and holy shit is there a lot of lore available in wiki format (which of course didn’t exist in the early ’90s). I visited this Blood Angels page and figured it’d be a couple screens of text at most. Oh, how wrong I was.

Which is cool, because it’s making deep dives into faction lore pretty easy to do without investing in like 18 books. Good times!

(The title of this post is based on a 40k joke: It’s not called Warhammer 40,000 because it’s set in the 41st millennium, but because that’s how much it costs to play. I don’t know the joke’s origin, but I love it.)