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BattleTech Miniatures

Pure joy: playing BattleTech with my kiddo

I haven’t played BattleTech in 20 years, and if you’d told me a few years ago — when I started enjoying miniature painting, and painting Warhammer 40k stuff every day — that my first-ever game using miniatures I’d painted would be BattleTech, or would be played with my kiddo, Lark, I wouldn’t have believed you.

We used the old (2015, I think?) Alpha Strike Quick Start intro scenario, for which I painted four specific ‘Mechs to make two balanced teams of two: Marauder and Valkyrie (Lark) vs. Archer and Wasp (me), with the win condition being first heavy ‘Mech destroyed.

Lark surveys the battlefield during the first turn
The first face-off between the two heavies; both took a solid hit
Things are looking grim for that Marauder
Lark’s damaged Marauder takes cover in the woods about halfway through our game
A beautiful move by Lark, who won initiative: getting into my Archer’s rear arc; the game could have gone either way at this point
My Archer survived this rear-gunning, and I stacked my Wasp behind the Marauder to close out the game

Last year I got to play D&D with Lark for the first time, and playing BattleTech — the wargame I’ve loved the longest and played the most — with Lark was just as awesome an experience. We had a blast, and we’re already looking forward to our second game on a larger map, two full lances per side (these four plus the next batch that I painted with our second game in mind).

One of my favorite moments was watching Lark get a ‘Mech’s-eye view to establish line of sight for the first time and being excited by how much fun that was. Sharing the visceral and tactile joys of miniatures wargaming with Lark was just pure joy for me.

On top of that, Alpha Strike was a great intro for Lark, a great return to the game for me, and not in any way “kiddy BattleTech.” AS 100% succeeds in distilling CBT into a shorter, punchier game without losing sight of what makes BattleTech fun. It’s streamlined and simplified, but not in any way simplistic. That’s a thing of beauty.

The core box is one of the best values in gaming, too: It’s actually everything you need to start playing, and for barely more than the ‘Mechs would cost in separate force packs.

I took some time during our game to talk a bit about the differences between AS and CBT, and I suspect Lark and I may have some CBT in our future, too.

What a fantastic Saturday all around!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
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BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

Second lance of Long Nights ‘Mechs

Today I finished painting my second lance of ‘Mechs, two heavies and two mediums for my Long Nights mercenary company.

No outdoor shots today, just the lightbox — but I remembered to use my grey backdrop this time!

L to R: Rifleman, Warhammer, Phoenix Hawk, Blackjack

I sometimes regretted combining two colors that are notoriously difficult to paint — white and yellow — in the Phoenix Hawk’s color scheme, but I’m happy with how it turned out. Walking the line between looking like an anime mobile suit and looking like a BattleMech without being too twee about it was an enjoyable challenge.

It also gave me a chance to try Soulblight Grey, GW’s new grey wash, for the first time. It’s interesting stuff, almost feeling more like a contrast paint than a shade paint; it’s kind of milky. But it walks a pleasing line between no wash and a black wash.

Butts

I’m not sure how long it will last, but my goal is to never repeat a paint scheme. “They’re mercenaries” is a great excuse to just experiment and have fun painting whatever feels right at the moment.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

My first lance of ‘Mechs in 16 years

Today I finished the first ‘Mechs I’ve painted since 2007.

L to R: Valkyrie, Archer, Marauder, Wasp

This lance for my Long Nights mercenary company is full of firsts: essentially my first time doing camo (I was about 10 for my actual first time), pin washing, flocking, detailed glass, and really pushing for subtle edge highlights.

Natural light close-ups

Sigourney “Lucky” Long’s Marauder
Ragnar “Night Sweats” Thorpe’s Valkyrie
Gabrielle “Dozer” Baudin’s Wasp
Ishida “Beef” Toyokazu’s Archer

Lightbox shots

These didn’t turn out as nice as the natural light shots above, but I took ’em so here they are anyway.

The whole lance
Marauder (my favorite angle)
Marauder front
Marauder rear
Valkyrie front
Valkyrie rear
Wasp front
Wasp rear
Archer front
Archer rear
Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Finished miniatures Kill Team Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k

Five Hive Fleet Balaur Genestealers wrapped up

Last night I finished my first minis since May 20, 2021: one Hive Fleet Balaur Fire Team for Kill Team, a unit of Genestealers. These guys were a ton of fun to paint, and given that I started them on April 8, went on a short vacation, and worked on my Warriors during the 16 days it took me to finish them, I feel pretty much back on track with painting.

Hive Fleet Blue Steel

Their underbellies creep me out a bit
Golden angles
Front
Back

I figured I’d shoot one with some terrain, too.

Hive Fleet Balaur scuttling through the ruins

And why not take advantage of the rare opportunity to do a before/after? I painted the blue/pink Genestealers (from Space Hulk) in 2012. It’s not quite “10 years later,” though, because I didn’t paint anything from 2012 to 2020, when I got back into painting and starting both taking it seriously and actually enjoying it. So it’s really more of a “two years of progress” before/after, since this is how I was painting in 2020.

Current way vs. old way, front view
Rear view

Nid thoughts

This was my second time glazing, and the first time I haven’t painted over my efforts and gone with a different technique. (I tried glazing a Custodes sword several times, but just couldn’t get it right.) My glazing isn’t great, but these first four Scything Blades taught me quite a bit; I’m hoping to improve my technique as I work on my Warriors.

I’ve also never used dotting tools before. Still room for improvement there as well, but there’s just not that much surface to work with on Genestealers and I didn’t want to overwhelm their shading. The Warriors’ carapaces are a larger canvas, so I’m looking to step up my game on them.

As a splinter fleet of Hive Fleet Leviathan, I like how my twist on Leviathan’s color scheme turned out. There are at least two official Leviathan color guides out there (one in White Dwarf and one on Warhammer TV), but the main differences between Leviathan and Balaur are the toxic green claws and spotted carapaces.

My goal for these Genestealers was to evoke brightly-colored bugs and poison dart frogs, and to combine that with a “snake’s underbelly” body color for an unsettling — maybe even unpleasant — look that befits the terrifying nature of Tyranids.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Mukkit’s Murda Mob: now a full complement of 3 Killa Kans

I started Killa Kans two and three — Stikkit and Skraggit — back in April, and finished them up on Thursday night. They join Mukkit, my final mini of 2020, to form Mukkit’s Murda Mob, which bring my Deathskulls army up to 591 points.

The Killa Kans kit is incredible — just absolutely packed with modularity and personality — and I had a great time with these two (as I did with my first Kan).

Waaagh!

Since I have a better lightbox now, I figured I’d roll Mukkit in as well and have the whole gang in one photoshoot.

Here’s the whole mob, at what I hope are their golden angles:

Mukkit’s Murda mob, L to R: Stikkit, Mukkit, Skraggit

I crossed my fingers when I painted each Kan a different shade of blue, but now that they’re all in one place I like that effect. In combination with my other units, it looks suitably hodgepodge for Orks.

And here’s each Kan individually:

Mukkit
Skraggit
Stikkit

…And then shots of the whole mob from all four sides.

Head-on
Left side
Rear view
Right side

The space-snail Skraggit is about to stomp on is from an Age of Sigmar kit, the Squig Herd. Wanting to use him prompted me to pose Skraggit mid-stomp, creating Skraggit as a character at the same time. Here’s his close-up:

Squeesh

I made a little slimy trail for him by forming a shallow trough in the texture paint, applying extra Agrax Earthshade to that area, and then skipping it when I drybrushed the rest of the base. It shows up best from above:

Slimy

Next up is my Oldhammer project: 10 vintage ’80s/’90s metal Boyz, include 2/3 of the Goffik Rok band, with a little light kitbashing to bring all their wargear up to a reasonable WYSIWYG standard for 9th Edition. Too rowdy to be led by a Boss Nob, they’re oldsters who don’t play by the rules — and love to play their looted ‘oomie instruments. Their draft name is Deff Metal Mayhem.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Putting my finished Taurox Trukk conversion in the new lightbox

I finished my Trukk! I built Da Fancy Wun back in February, and worked on lots of other stuff at the same time (painted 11 Boyz, built two Kans and a Dread, converted my Warboss)…but it still feels like I’ve been working on this Trukk forever. Back of the napkin, I’d say it took me somewhere between 35 and 45 hours from sprue to varnished and ready for the table.

This is the final post in a five-post series documenting this Trukk. Assembly is in part one and part two, the color guide is in part three, and a few WIP shots are in part four.

Many thanks again to Hobbyistgirl for her conversion (build process and painted Trukk), which was my inspiration to try this and my guide for large portions of the assembly process. Her Trukk is awesome!

Regular readers might notice that there’s no shot of Da Fancy Wun in casual light. That’s because I got a new lightbox (full rundown later in the post), and can now take photos good enough that they abrogate the need for a casual shot.

Da Fancy Wun, my converted Taurox Prime/Trukk, at its golden angle
Front view
Left side
Rear view
Right side
Top view

The Emperor’s eye grows larger

After a year-plus of steady painting, and some struggles with my first lightbox — notably taking photos without the lower half of each mini in shadow, and straining to squeeze full 10-model squads into it — I decided it was time to upgrade. I went from 12″x12″x12″ to 16″x16″x16″, which doesn’t sound like a big jump but is actually so large that I’m very glad it folds up nicely, and from one fixed ring of lights in the top to two repositionable light bars.

This FOSITAN lightbox (paid link) cost about $60 (three times what my smaller DUCLUS box cost), and it’s totally worth it.

Every interior surface is shiny silver, but dimpled so that it provides reflectivity without hotspots. You can shoot from the front or top, and the two light bars can clip onto the edges in either shooting configuration. Those bars also tilt, and if you want to diffuse the light when shooting from above there’s a translucent white square (with a hole in the middle) you can add between the bars and the object you’re photographing.

Unlike the DUCLUS, it doesn’t offer multiple color temperatures — but it does offer a lovely neutral white, and that was the only temperature I used on the old box anyway. The bars are dimmable and it includes several rather nice plastic backdrops; after a few test shots, I’m currently using the lowest setting and the grey backdrop.

I couldn’t resist reshooting Thragg’s Deff Lads, who I felt got especially short shrift in their lightbox session, along with a mixed-unit group.

Thragg’s Deff Ladz
Da Fancy Wun, the Deff Dread “Facepeela,” a boy from Thragg’s Deff Lads (left), a Boy from Skrudd’s Krumpas (rear), and one of Runt-eata’s Grots (right)

The only problem is that now I want to reshoot every lightbox photo I’ve taken, and that doesn’t sound like fun just now. So I probably won’t! But I’m going to enjoy better lightbox pics going forwards.

Da Fancy Wun brings me to a pretty respectable 476 points (9th Edition rules), with 35 models painted (32 infantry, 3 vehicles). Next up is probably two more Killa Kans.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

At long last, Thragg’s Deff Ladz! Plus six variations on Ork skin

I built the first of Thragg’s Deff Ladz (my second mob of Boyz for my Deathskulls Ork army, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas) on January 17th, and have chipped away at them slowly but surely for the past two months. Since I’ve mostly painted rank-and-file Orks so far, this 98-point unit brings me up to 356/2,000 points and 34 finished models.

Back in February, after I abandoned the notion that I was going to paint these lads in two batches; painting 11 minis at once kind of bogs me down, but I can’t argue with the logic of it

I’m not painting at the same pace in 2021 that I did in 2020. And that’s okay! Even if I only do 5-10 minutes in a given day, my hobby streak remains unbroken (today is day 387) and those few minutes are still more than the zero minutes I was putting in for many, many years.

Part of it is that after a year in isolation, the prospect of actually playing 40k still seems like it’s probably 8-12 months away. I’m still enjoying miniature painting as a hobby, but now I have one finished 2,000-point army — the goal of finishing a second feels less urgent. So I’m taking it easy, not gunning the engine and risking burnout.

Along the way, I also picked up a second paint rack. My whole paint library is now accessible, with room to spare. I’m an organized person, by and large, and this appeals to me greatly!

Man, I picked a weird-ass angle for this shot

Anyhoo, time for some Boyz! Let’s fire up the ol’ lightbox.

Get stuck in, you gits!

Thragg is in the center; my favorite in the mob is on the far right, biting that Space Marine dagger blade-in because Orks are not so bright
Rear view of the first five
The second batch; I also like the rightmost mini a lot
Rear view of the back six

And as always, a casual shot (a mix of natural and artificial light):

All 11 of Thragg’s Deff Ladz

Ork skin tones

With Thragg’s Deff Ladz complete, I’ve now used all six skin tone recipes that are currently in my main Ork color guide (plus 3/5 of the recipes I use for Deathskulls blue, and both of my teeth/nails options). The Ladz are a mix of two quite different schemes, one based on Castellan Green and the other on Caliban Green. I love the Caliban version; they start out super-dark green (with a black wash) and highlight up to a very cartoony look.

Now that I’ve tried them all, I took four photos showing each of the six colors, all in the same order (which is the order in which they currently appear in my color guide). So in terms of base paint > shade paint, that’s:

  1. Waaagh! Flesh > Biel-Tan Green
  2. Waaagh! Flesh > Athonian Camoshade
  3. Deathworld Forest > Athonian Camoshade
  4. Deathworld Forest > Biel-Tan Green
  5. Castellan Green > Athonian Camoshade
  6. Caliban Green > Nuln Oil
It took some doing to find one of each with no war paint on their left arms!
Same models, but in a full-body view
And again, but this time in a casual shot with different lighting
Same lighting, full-body view

Recipes 1 and 2 are almost identical to one another; ditto with 3 and 4; really, I have four major recipes with two variations. The variations only differ in which shade paint is used, and unless they’re side by side and you know to look for it that difference is hard to spot. But I like variety in my motley crew, and even just counting the four “main” recipes I’ve got quite a bit of it in my army (all tied together, I hope, by their shared palette of secondary colors and especially by their war paint).

Similarly, my blue recipe built on Kantor Blue is quite similar to the default Macragge Blue version (at least the way I wash and highlight them). But Thousand Suns Blue makes for a vibrant and quite distinctive finished product; I really like that one.

Next up is Da Fancy Wun, my Taurox/Trukk conversion, which is currently primed, partially painted, and waiting for the sealant on the bottom-most wheel spikes to cure.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

First finished mini of 2021: Facepeela, Ork Deff Dread

My first mini of the new year (although, having been completed on January 23rd, “new” is a bit of a stretch) is my first Deff Dread, “Facepeela” Snarg. Facepeela is also the first model I’ve ever magnetized, a process that was not without its problems…leading to this also being the first model I’ve ever done that incorporates green stuff (Kneadatite).

Facepeela brings my Waaagh! up to 308 points. Still a ways to go!

I heart big and stompy

“Facepeela” Snarg’s Golden angle
Front view
Left side
Rear view
Right side

I also experimented with using mostly natural light (no lightbox) and just a piece of printer paper as a backdrop. It’s more, well, natural than the lightbox, but I don’t think I have this technique quite figured out yet. Here’s Facepeela’s golden angle shot that way:

Golden angle, mostly natural light, piece of paper as a backdrop

This kit was fun to build and paint, validating my choice to make my first Ork army list about 50% vehicles — including a second Deff Dread, three Killa Kans, and a Morkanaut. Not too surprising, as it’s basically a super-sized Killa Kan — and that’s one of my favorite 40k kits I’ve ever built.

Just for fun, here he is alongside a sampling of the Orks I’ve painted so far:

Facepeela, Mukkit, and a few of Skrudd’s Krumpas and Runt-Eata’s Grots

Green stuff for a green lad

The necessity for green stuff came about when, as I was working on highlights, I noticed that the secure position for his lower saw arm — the position in which it stayed in place the best, resisting drooping — only worked because the arm was braced against the socket, scraping paint off the edge every time I snapped it in place. I tried Blu-Tack, and that was fine, but I didn’t like the idea of leaving a blob of it on there forever.

Blithely assuming that green stuff was just easily-moldable putty that would dry into something about as hard as plastic, I decided to go that route instead.

Turns out, green stuff is incredibly sticky, not terribly easy to work with, and dries semi-soft. But it did the job better than Blu-Tack, as it’s hard enough to stay in place and can be primed/painted/varnished. I didn’t take any pictures of that process (because it was pretty frustrating), but it was basically: apply green stuff in a blob much larger than needed, just in case; let it cure overnight; trim it to fit with a hobby knife, slowly, testing the fit with every trim; prime and paint normally; two coats of varnish (and two in the socket, too).

My second Dread isn’t using this arm, so I might build the arm again, drill it better this time around, and replace the one currently on Facepeela. Or not! It works, and unless you’re looking for it the ugly blob of green stuff isn’t noticeable.

Deff Dread color guide

My Deff Dread’s base includes one bit not found on my usual list. Color-wise, apart from that, it’s just a bigger Killa Kan.

  • Demon skull horns: Zandri Dust > Seraphim Sepia > Ushabti Bone drybrush

I like Facepeela’s static, menacing pose, but I don’t want two of it; my second Deff Dread will probably be posed raising one leg, about to gleefully stomp on something. Not sure what, but maybe a grot. We shall see!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, a Killa Kan

With an hour to spare, I finished a wild push — a week worth of painting in about two days — and wrapped up my final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, one of the Killa Kans in my Deathskulls Ork army.

This is the best miniature I’ve ever painted. It incorporates everything I’ve learned this year, plus a couple of techniques I haven’t tried before, and it features the best highlights I’ve ever done. (I’m not saying it’s amazing, just frankly assessing it against my output to date.)

Light it up like dynamite

I listened to so much BTS in November and December, often while painting, that it’s only appropriate to lead with a BTS lyric (from “Dynamite” on their album BE).

Mukkit, “leader” of Mukkit’s Murda Mob
Left side (Kan Klaw)
Rear view
Right side (Big Shoota)

Plus a casual shot for good measure:

Ready to do the Macarena

Orks being Orks, the 22 minis I’ve painted so far bring me to a whopping…208 points. Down the road, when I paint my Morkanaut, I’ll get to experience a massive completion bump (+340 points, if memory serves).

WIP it good

I don’t usually combine posts for finished minis with WIP photos, but for Mukkit I did a sort of time lapse — and it turned out to be the clearest and most complete set of photos of my process that I’ve done so far. Mukkit was a genuine sprint, although I didn’t speed-paint him; I just did more painting in fewer days than normal.

12/29

I primed Mukkit on 12/28 and started painting him in earnest on the 29th. I wanted to book him by the end of the year, and it seemed doable.

Primed, scenery washed
Partially base-coated
Texture paint applied

This was my first time painting a larger unit with Citadel’s XL handle (which I just got recently), and it’s night and day compared to holding the base. I can’t believe I waited this long!

12/30

Base complete, base coat done
Touch-ups completed
Washed/shaded

12/31

My first time really pushing for thinner (narrower) highlights

In hindsight, the moment I decided to commit to using thinner lines for my edge highlights heralded a sea change. Now that I know I can paint more delicate highlights, and can see the direct line of improvement from the start of the year to the end, I suspect I’m going to use more thin lines in the future.

Fully highlighted; were this a Blood Angel, I’d be done at this point
Grids in place for my checks

Just imagine a photo of my weathering steps here, because I forgot to take one.

And at 11:00 pm on New Year’s Eve, done!

The lighter blue I used for Mukkit’s Klaw — as part of my unifying theme of every model in this army having one blue hand — doesn’t look as different from the other blue parts as I’d hoped, but it is a bit clearer in person.

The Killa Kan kit is amazing. Every part is swappable between Kans, and many parts are shared with the Deff Dread kit, adding even more customizability. There’s a ton of room to add personality in the assembly stage — and the painting stage is just as fun. These models are silly and dark in just the right measure and mixture, and they’re one of my favorite 40k kits.

Up next is probably one of the two Deff Dreads in my current list; I’ve got a three-armed big dude on my desk, mostly still on the sprue. With three Kans, two Dreads, and a Morkanaut (plus “Ork Terminators,” the Meganobz and Big Mek in Mega Armour), this army is full of what I love: big stompy things.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures Warhammer 40k

Runt-Eata’s Grots finished up

I wound up working on a box of Gretchin at the same time as five Boyz (not my usual approach; it’s too many at once!), so they got wrapped up on 12/27 as well.

My usual process is 5 or 6 at once, not sure I’ll do this again!

Do Gretchin know they’re adorable?

Runt-Eata’s Grots (I can’t afford the Runtherd in my current list, so I’ll build him later on)
Rear view
Casual shot in natural light

Like the Orks I painted at the same time, these Grots use three different skin recipes (1, 2, and 3 on my current list). I can’t wait to see how this approach looks across a larger force.

Everything I’ve painted in December (so far!)

I love these models, and they’re quick to paint up. Every step feels like it takes about half as long as an Ork Boy, so a box of 10 (excluding the Runtherd) takes about as long as a unit of 5 Orks; that makes doing 10 at a time pretty manageable.

Gretchin color guide

For simplicity, I treat Gretchin just like Ork Boyz, with only one addition:

  • Gretchin goggle lenses: Averland Sunset > Nuln Oil > Yriel Yellow

With these 10 Grots plus 3 small terrain pieces and 11 Orks, December’s tally of 24 models is my new record. I think 16 was my previous record, and the Grots being so small helps a lot here. (And who knows, I might sneak in one more terrain piece this year; I have one that’s pretty close to done.)

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.