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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Cain, scouts with a head conversion

My working concept for my Blood Angels army is the Faceless Strike Force, with 100% of the models in helmets. I wanted Space Marine Scouts in my army, which posed a small problem: the Scout kits only come with bare heads.

Some Googling turned up two easy options for alternate scout heads: Skitarii Rangers and Militarum Tempestus Scions. The latter looked a bit too “WWII Germany” to me, and the Skitarii had the added benefit of being hooded — a perfect match for my Scout snipers and their camouflage cloaks. A quick trip to Ebay later and I had a bag of Skitarii Rangers heads to convert my Space Marine Scouts with sniper rifles (paid link).

I got a bag of heads!

I talked a bit about the limited uniqueness and posability of the Primaris Infiltrators here on Yore, but these Scouts take that to a whole old level: exactly one bottom half, one top half, and one gun for each model. How will the heretics know they’re Blood Angels if they aren’t dual-wielding 16′ banners and wearing an entire craft store’s worth of bling?!

On the flipside, these are badass models. That’s why I bought them.

All five ready to rock
The Skitarii heads sit too high without some trimming-down

In the photo above I’ve sandwiched a Skitarii Ranger head between two Scout heads. The bottom looks the same, but the Scout heads are designed to sit in a shallow divot on each model; the Skitarii heads sit too high and have “flanges” sticking out of the neck recess.

Ha ha, these minis are like 5 pieces and I still managed to glue Sergeant Cain’s hand on backwards

After test-fitting a couple of Skitarii heads, I decided to build the models and then choose heads based on their poses. On the guys looking down their scopes, the larger respirators get in the way; they need the more svelte heads. Like this guy:

Kneeling for a shot

All of them needed a bit of trimming, some more than others. I experimented with using a file, but quickly switched to my hobby knife and stuck with that approach. Shave a bit off, test-fit the head; shave a bit more, test-fit again; and so on until it looked right.

This was my first-ever conversion project, and even though it’s quite light as conversions go it still took some work. On a couple of these Scouts, I spent as long trimming the head to fit as I did building the rest of the mini — and the more fragile Ranger heads, with the tall antennae, were too delicate for me (I nearly broke one).

Close-up of a converted Scout

If you’re looking for it, you can see the curve of the bottom of this one’s neck nub. But with paint and a wash to fill in the shadows, I think it’ll look solid on the tabletop.

Sergeant Cain (with his hand glued on the right way)

I like that this conversion doesn’t look “off” — the heads are the right size, they don’t give the minis giraffe necks, and while they’re taller than the normal Scout heads they’re not that much taller. They’re still in proportion with standard Space Marines.

Space Marine vs. Scout with Skitarii Ranger head
A Primaris Infiltrator taking his kids to the park
Squad Cain, reporting for duty

Another squad down! The Scout models are super-simple, mono-pose, and a bit heavy on the mold lines — but once built, they’re nicely differentiated from each other. A mini carrying a rifle as long as he is tall is always going to look pretty cool.

I dig how the Skitarii Ranger heads look on them. They’re a bit creepy, which I like, with almost a Jawa vibe, and the hoods go well with their camouflage cloaks — and should go even better once I paint them in the same camo color scheme. They’re a fun addition to my Blood Angels force.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Squad Dolos, Primaris Infiltrators

I wasn’t in the mood to prime minis today (I did some test priming, which I’ve detailed in a post for tomorrow), so I picked another unit to build: Squad Dolos, my first Primaris Space Marines — the cool-as-hell Primaris Infiltrators (paid link).

It’s building time!
Sergeant Dolos

Gotta start with the sergeant! Although unlike Squad Karios, the first squad I built for my Blood Angels army, these dudes have many, many fewer unique elements to them. That makes it harder to flavor the squad based on the sergeant, but I’m sticking to my guns anyway.

Making Space Marines look small since 8th Edition

After my first two (drawing-his-pistol guy is such a cool pose!) I stood them up next to two members of Squad Karios for a quick size comparison. Space Marines are massive compared to an average human . . . and Primaris Space Marines make them look small.

(It was while I was working on my third one that I realized the chest-grenades come in right- and left-side variations, and I’d already done one wrong. Now it’s two!)

Twinsies!

I want zero exact duplicate figures in my army, and ideally zero near-duplicates as well — so this kit is a bit of a challenge, since it includes two sets of identical twins and the Infiltrators are almost mono-pose figures.

Compared to the Space Marines I built last week, and even setting aside that the level of uniqueness in that kit is higher than in a standard Adeptus Astartes kit, these Infiltrators are much more rigid: no waist rotation, entire torso is one piece; each torso matches exactly one pair of legs; legs locked into position; only five sets of different legs (2x of each set); identical weapons; etc. You do get 10 pieces of “waist bling,” 2x each of five designs, and of course I’m limiting myself unnecessarily by using only the helmeted heads (which are all identical, save that I used the comms guy’s head for the sergeant).

For the two dudes above, I really had to stretch the limit of how far the arms on the one on the left would go in order to make his posture emphatically different than his twin. That said, the poses are quite dynamic, I dig the pouches and holsters and other doodads, and the special ones are rad — the sergeant cradling his Bolt Carbine, the guy reaching for his sidearm, the comms guy. They’re good-looking minis overall, I just miss the blinged-out variations in my Tactical Squad.

Tonight’s progress

I built the other set of identical twins, far right and third from the right, and squeezed as much individuality out of them as I could: different Bolt Carbine angle, head position, bling style and location, and presence/absence of grenades on the chest. I’ll add a bit more variation when I base them (skulls, tufts, etc.).

I’m pretty bleary-eyed after doing six of these in a row, so it’s time to call it a night.

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Blood Angels Space Marines Lightbox photos Miniatures Warhammer 40k WIP it good

WIP it good: Blood Angels Squad Karios assembled

After wrapping up my Space Hulk painting (11 years!) my to-paint queue was empty. I started building Squad Karios — the first unit in my Blood Angels army — before I reached that point specifically so that I’d have a project underway when I suddenly found myself with nothing to paint.

Laying out the remaining six

These minis are a ton of fun to assemble, and assembly is a great palate cleanser after my go-go-go painting in March.

Two down

Once I had the rest together, I realized I’d accidentally given the sub-squad leader a Storm Bolter, not a regular Bolter. A bit of surgery and sanding and he was good to go. I think I’ve been working on Terminators for so long that Storm Bolters just look normal to me.

D’oh!

Squad Karios, reporting for duty!

Lightbox shots

Putting unpainted minis in the lightbox sounded a bit silly, but I like the idea of being able to showcase the details on these figures (these kits are phenomenally detailed) and the choices I made while assembling them. Expressing personalities and embracing themes, all flowing down from Sergeant Karios, is a big part of the fun of assembly.

The four special figures, L to R: Sergeant Karios, Heavy Bolter, Plasma Gun, sub-squad leader

One of my goals for my Blood Angels army is to have no exact duplicates and no near-duplicates among my figures, and the Blood Angels Tactical Squad kit (paid link) is fantastic for that because virtually every piece is unique. Excluding a few arms, even bits which look identical at a glance are actually different: one has one blood drop and the other has three, one has a dangling tassel, etc.

The six regular marines

Even with 5/6 of these guys being “legs akimbo, Bolter held cross-body,” there’s a lot of dynamism and variation between them. They feel like individuals to me.

Squad Karios

It took a bit of experimentation to get the whole squad in my small lightbox, but now I know how to do it for next time. Heck, maybe I’ll pack it with all 30+ Space Hulk minis and see if that looks presentable.

And hey, now I have my first spare bits for my next project!

My first bits for the bits box
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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: the final two, and my Space Hulk set is painted after 11 years

It’s the home stretch for my Space Hulk set — I can’t believe it! As of February 22nd, I had 12 Terminators who were partially (and sloppily) base-coated in red back in 2014. Now I’ve finished 10 of them and am working on the final two: Leon and Deino.

So close I can taste it
I love how my water cup looks after a good swizzle with metallic paint

When I first got back into painting minis — like three weeks ago — I dismissed the notion of trying freehand painting out of hand. But the more I paint the more confident and willing to take risks I get, so I tried freehanding the decorative plates on Leon’s armor.

Top half
Bottom half

Up close they look pretty bad — but at tabletop distance, they’re not too shabby!

Somewhere in the past couple of weeks I also stumbled across a piece of advice about freehanding that stuck with me (I don’t recall where I saw it): It’s always worth trying, because 1) that’s how you get better at it, and 2) fellow painters respect that you tried it, even if it doesn’t look great.

I wish I’d tackled a couple of the other 50/50 elements on these Termies, but I just didn’t feel ready. I’m glad I gave these a whirl, and I’m looking forward to continuing to expand my comfort zone.

Final base coat and touch-ups done
Final wash complete
. . . and drybrushed

Took a break to watch Friday the 13th: A New Beginning with the fam (worst one out of the first five, and I hope it turns out to be the worst overall) and then came back a drybrushed these two.

Gave ’em a couple minutes to dry, varnished them up, and . . . that’s that. I’ve painted 100% of my Space Hulk miniatures, and it only took me 11 years!

Fuuuuck does that feel good.

I’ll get the Terminators up in the lightbox after the varnish on these two dries. I don’t think trying to cram them all in there will work, but 3×3 or 3×4 should do the trick.

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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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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Zael and Noctis

With the end in sight, and having just done three of the most detailed minis in the box (Gideon and Lorenzo, and the Librarian), I figured I’d apportion the amount of detail work needed in the final four and split them into pairs.

Noctis (Bolter) and Zael (Heavy Flamer)

Now that I’m thinning paints more regularly (which I never used to do — thanks, Warhammer TV!), it makes sense to me to get, say, Lothern Blue on the palette, thin it, and then hit all the blue bits on a couple of minis at once. It’s not quite an assembly line — it doesn’t feel like a slog — and it creates a little natural break between colors, which I like.

Now fully base-coated and touched-up, ready for shading
4 done and drying, 4 in various pre-wash stages

That’s going to be it for now — my wife and I have a date to watch Uncut Gems. I may sneak in shading after the movie, we’ll see.

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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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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Lorenzo and the Librarian

I decided to clump the three Termies with no helmets together so I could get through all their tiny faces at once and bring Space Hulk home with the remaining relatively simple dudes. With Lorenzo mostly base-coated last night he’s first on the chopping block.

My painting space all set up for these two

I haven’t worked with black in years, and on top of white primer I’m finding it particularly unforgiving. But his off-white interior/black exterior cape is too cool not to try to pull off.

Lorenzo’s two-tone cape (I think it’s supposed to be leather)

I tried to get the little blue line in his sword to pop, so I used a new color: Army Painter Toxic Mist.

Lorenzo fully base-coated
The Librarian’s starting point for today: a sloppy partial base coat

I’m diverging a fair amount from the photo in the rulebook on this guy. His drape is supposed to be red, but I don’t know how to make that look different from his red armor; making it white means the scroll cases need to be gold; gems are staying medium blue (they’re usually a shade of red on these guys), but I’ll actually use the right color — red — for his purity seals, since you’ll be able to see them against his blue armor.

Calling it a night on him, but more to do

No idea how the yellow tubing will turn out, and I’m going to try to use pale blue edge highlighting to on the ax blade — that should be a fun experiment. But it’s dark enough now that I’m going to miss stuff, and I still have quite a bit of detail work to finish up on him.

The rest will keep. I’m tired from staring at tiny things with intense focus, time to call it a night on painting.

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Miniature painting Miniatures Space Hulk WIP it good

WIP it good: Gideon and Lorenzo

Today I’ve got Brother Gideon ready for a touch-up before his wash, with Brother Lorenzo on deck to finish base-coating.

Termies 6 and 7 of 13

Washing/shading is becoming my favorite step. It’s such a simple, relaxing process and the work:payoff ratio is unbelievably good. As ever, this is when the mini starts to look like something I’ll be proud of when I’m finished.

Faces are my nemesis

He’s so scrunched into his helmet that I only had to paint like 45% of a face — what a relief!

While Gideon dries, I’m working on Lorenzo
Gideon with a literal fresh coat of varnish

I was hoping to wrap Lorenzo up today as well, but I kept getting distracted. Still, Gideon — whose shield was a blast to paint — takes me to 6/12 Termies and that feels damned good.

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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.