A Call to Arms: Starting Your New Collection

If you have an iPad, and have browsed Games Workshop’s digital product line in the iBookstore, then you may have read (or be aware of) the A Call to Arms series. If not, the quick summary is: each month we follow the progress of four gamers as they collect and paint an entirely new Warhammer 40000 army. They each have a fixed monthly budget which they use to expand their forces.

Personally, I’ve always found this sort of article fascinating. I love getting insight into how others go about their hobby – the mental process behind how they choose, model, paint, and game with their collections. I also love seeing “real” armies – not the bog-standard GW Studio armies on display in the Codexes and White Dwarf battle reports. A look at other hobbyist’s collections are always my favourite articles in White Dwarf, and the reason I read many hobbyist forums and blogs.

Call to Arms - Flesh Tearers

One of the Armies we follow in GW’s A Call to Arms book is Stefano Carlini’s Flesh Tearers.

So what has this got to do with me? For one, I think it’s an inspirational and fun way to approach a new army. Secondly, my Local, Friendly, GW Store is running their own version of Call to Arms to kick off the New Year.

Each month until April, participants aim to paint up around £50 worth of miniatures for their new army (any GW game system). Every month the entries will be judged by the store manager, and there will be a prize for the overall winner. The competitive element is a great motivator, and the whole thing should be  sociable and well-spirited. No doubt there will be plenty of games as our armies grow in size, so it will be win-win for me – I’ll get my new army started, and I’ll get to play more games than I’ve managed so far!

I’ve already planned out my army. More details will be posted in the blog over the next few days, so keep an eye out! I’m always looking for feedback, so once I’ve posted the details feel free to give your opinion!

What do you think? Would you take part in a similar challenge? Are you already? Leave a comment below!

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2012: A Hobby Retrospective

2012 was the start of my hobby renaissance, so it’s fitting I should, in its last days, look back over the year and what transpired. This post was inspired by a similar retrospective post over at Blogs of War. Turns out I painted a lot more Warhammer 40000 miniatures than I realised!


January started, as it always does, with lots of self-made promises about what I would achieve over the year. Lots of ideas buzzed around my head, but one stood out over the others: Grey Knights.

I roughed out a vague list based firstly on what I wanted to paint, with only a cursory nod towards “competitiveness”. I could clearly picture in my mind the conversions I wanted, and the overall theme was quite dark, utilising a dark grey instead of metallic silver.

In January I managed to paint one solitary Grey Knight, spending days building up layer upon layer. It was a forewarning to things were going to go for my Grey Knights, but still full of the optimism of the New Year I was unperturbed.

Grey Knights Terminator


In February I carried on with the Grey Knights. By the end of the month I completed my first squad of Terminators, and started on my Librarian. I also bought all the sets needed for the majority of initial list; the only things missing were the items I wanted from Forge World.

Grey Knights Terminator Squad

The Librarian was my first foray into the world of Finecast. I’d heard how terrible people were finding Finecast miniatures to be, but to be honest, I’ve never had much of a problem with it. Yes, there are more bubbles than metal figures, but overall I end up taking more time cleaning up and fixing plastic models than I do cleaning up Finecast.

Grey Knights Librarian

February also saw the Warhammer 40,000 25th Anniversary figure released. I queued up early to get mine, and was lucky… I got one of the last 2 or 3. 10 minutes later to the queue and I would have missed out. Mine is still sitting sealed in its box until I work up the courage to commit paint to resin.

25th Anniversary Figure


Here is where it started to go wrong for my Grey Knights. I painted a squad of Interceptors, and by the end of the month was left thoroughly uninspired and unenthusiastic to continue the army. I don’t exactly know what happened… maybe I was just sick of painting grey?

Grey Knight Interceptors

Work started to get a lot busier at this point of the year, so I found my free time far more limited than it had been, restricting the time I could spend working on the hobby.

I did manage to squeeze in a small diorama for a competition at the local GW store. The brief was to represent a duel, fit onto a standard Dreadnought sized base. Mine ended up with a theme of “Angels and Daemons”.

Angels & Daemons Diorama


In a bid to get back on track, I started my Grand Master conversion, hoping to re-inspire myself. This was the most involved conversion I had done since returning to the hobby, so it took the majority of my free time during the month.

My Grand Master is based on the Finecast Marneus Calgar miniature, and using a head from the Sanguinary Guard, an arm left over from my Librarian conversion, and a standard Grey Knight arm with a Psycannon. Unfortunately I don’t have any pre-painted pictures, so you’ll have to check out the finished miniature below.


Mostly I spent my time finishing my Grand Master. I deliberately went for a lighter grey to the rest of my army, to make him stand out a bit more.

Grey Knights Grand Master

For something different to do, I scratched a particular itch I’d been having since the model was released – I painted up Nemesor Zhandrekh, utilising a purple and bone colour scheme I’d liked when I’d seen it in the How To Paint Citadel Miniatures book, applied to Tomb Kings. If I ever put together a Necron army, then it’s likely I’ll do it in these colours.

Nemesor Zhandrekh


I achieved nothing hobby-related in June.

Actually, that’s not quite true, I guess. I assembled the remaining models in my Grey Knights army, and gave them an undercoat. The reason being I finally played my first game of 5th Edition – on the night before the 6th Edition rule book came out! I played 3 games, only vaguely aware of the rules. 2 were fun, one wasn’t. All ended in defeat for my Grey Knights (although a couple were close!)

In the end, my Collector’s Edition of the rule book was delayed in the post for a few days, and didn’t arrive until almost the end of the month.

2012-07-02 17.53.28


For the second half of the year I drew a line under the Grey Knights. Time to move on. It was in July that my Iron Fists army was born.

2012-07-08 17.15.52

With that said, in July the plan was still to paint the army as Imperial Fists. As it was, I dithered for a bit, being content to assemble the entire army (as it stood then) in one go. This army would be my return to batch painting – complete things to a table-top standard quickly so I wouldn’t lose momentum.


Work stole most of my time, so I contented myself with adding a few more bits to the Iron Fists army – and finally deciding the chapter to be painted! I also ordered some weathering powders, to give them a try.

For a bit of fun, I kitbashed an approximation of the Games Day 2012 model using some spare parts. I’ll probably remake this guy later, and take more time and care over it.

Kit-bashed Games Day 2012 Figure


Nothing of note here! Work and “life” stole all my time. Booo!


It begins! During a week-long holiday I started painting the Iron Fists, and ploughed right through them. I got the majority of the army painted to table-top standard, and where the only things left to do were extra details such as weathering and “special effects”.

2012-10-15 22.22.22


Continuing work on the Iron Fists, including planning a few expansions to the army (more dreadnoughts, drop pods…). I apply the first of the “special effects” – the battered and beaten boarding shields.

Iron Fists Boarding Shields

The holiday season starts to approach, stealing a bit more of my time… but I do manage to get in my first games of 6th Edition by taking part in a narrative campaign at the local Games Workshop. The campaign is still ongoing, though I have missed a couple of weeks. I’ll be picking up where I left off in the New Year.

After watching a whole lot of BuyPainted videos on YouTube, I invested in an airbrush, so I can add another skill to my repertoire  Early indications are it is going to require a lot of practice.



Weathering powders start to get applied – starting with the Scouts and Devastators. I start to invest in my camera set-up  so I can finally capture images of miniatures I can be as proud of as I am the miniature itself.

Iron Fists Weathering

I start on those Drop Pods – just the one for now, though I have another 2 in my “todo pile”. All of the base coats are applied using my airbrush. Hardly an auspicious use, but it’s all practice on how to control it.

Thoughts inevitably turn to 2013, and the seed of a certain website is planted into my head… leading us to here!

So how was your “Hobby Year”?

My First Grey Knight Squad – Starting Out

The first squad in my New Year’s Goal to collect/model/paint a new Warhammer 40,000 army this year, as also mentioned in the preceding blog entry. This’ll be my first in around 13 years or so, so I plan on taking my time and enjoying it!

Starting the Year

Ah, it’s the start of a New Year. Outside the street cleaners are sweeping away the mess made celebrating the end of 2011. Inside are millions of people nursing hangovers, celebrating, and making resolutions (usually involving not drinking again!).

I already outlined a few goals I have for 2012, and I’m a firm believer in ‘start as you mean to go on’ and ‘measurable performance’, so I’m laying down markers on a couple of these goals already so progress can be measured.

Weight Loss

Screenshot of the Weightbot UI, showing my current weight of 18st 12lb

For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with my weight. I’m under no illusion I am in an unhealthy place right now. I’m currently 18st 12lb/264lb/120kg. While this is well down from the peak of 22st/308lb/140kg I was in August, I need to keep this going.

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Plans for Next Year

The last few days have seen me thinking about some of the things I want to do next year. Not so much New Years’ Resolutions as much as a kind of master “to-do” list.

Travel Somewhere New

Even if it’s not very far away, or for more than a long weekend, I hope to see somewhere new next year. Ideal places would be New York, Paris or Florence/Rome, but I suspect I’m more likely going to have to stick to somewhere in the UK.

Start Writing A Book

I’ve put off starting any of the novels I’ve had bouncing around in my head for years. That needs to stop. There’s nothing really stopping me, really, other than procrastination. With it being so easy to self-publish now (especially as an eBook), there’s no longer any real reason for me not to.

Release More Projects

I used to write and release a lot of code; the first XML-RPC interface for Textpattern was mine; plugins and themes for various blogging and CMS systems; CSS/HTML experiments… and then, at some point, for some reason I stopped. Hopefully I can turn this around again.

Model and Paint At Least One (small) Warhammer 40,000 Collection

Yeah, this is the nerdiest item on the list. Before starting university I had a huge W40K collection which I was quite proud of. Then Girls and Booze got in the way (oh, and some studying too), and I stopped the hobby. I’ve kind of kept in touch with things over the years since; the Dawn of War series of games provided some connection, while the Horus Heresy series of books fleshed out what was always my favourite part of the hobby: the background “fluff”. I picked up a couple of the new codex books this year, along with the latest rulebook – not that I plan on playing any games – and I’ve been inspired by several things over the last few months such as Armies on Parade and some of the cool stuff available from Forge World. So my plan is to build at least one small, well modeled and painted collection in a similar style to AoP. After a 12 year break, how hard could it be??


Other plans include the usual suspects of [continue to] lose weight/get fit, and be smarter with money. I’m thinking of getting a couple more tattoos as well…

So what’s everyone else got planned for 2012?

The iPodification of our Household

My fiancee, Nicola, is not a techie person. Not in the slightest. She only recently learned how to send an e-mail, after I introduced her to GMail (testimony to how good the interface is!). Nicola doesn’t particularly like, or want to know about computers or the latest gadgets. A waste of money in her mind, and a waste of time.

She even managed to resist the charms of my iPod for several months. Only recently, when bored, did she pick it up to look at and listen to.

My technophobe partner was hooked on the supreme techno-gadget.

That was about 3 weeks ago. In that time, she has used my iPod more than I have. My bus journeys into work have become a whole lot duller. I suggested that I could buy her an iPod of her own, but she wasn’t interested. A waste of money she said. She’d never use it. I had to laugh.

Last night though, something curious happened. We were Christmas shopping in our local John Lewis store and I wandered over to the Apple section while Nicola looked at decorations. After a few minutes of gazing at the new G5 iMac they have on display, Nicola came over to pry me (and my credit card) away from temptation. We were about to leave, when suddenly, her eyes lit up and she went over to look at the display cabinet. She had caught sight of the iPod Mini’s.

By the time we had gotten home, we had already discussed speaker systems and car kits for iPods. How we could replace the (very) large stereo we have with a small system that an iPod could dock into.

My technophobe fiancee now wants the gadget…

Unbeknown to her, Nicola’s iPod Mini is already on its way from the Apple Online Store. A green one. My plan is to take delivery in secret, and then spend the weekends between now and Christmas preloading it with all her CDs (Nicola has an extensive 50’s/60’s Rock’n’Roll collection), while she is at work. I’ve also ordered a set of speakers and a car adaptor (unfortunately, the car adaptor won’t be the iTrip, which is illegal here in the UK). Our house will soon be iPodified. They’ll go lovely with the Media Center PC I have planned for some time in the New Year!

It’s funny how things work out. I wonder if letting her try a PowerBook would have a similar result…!