A Quick Note

I’ve not written much here since the start of the year. I’d started off with such good intentions. This isn’t one of those “sorry I haven’t been posting” blog posts, so don’t worry. I don’t apologise for it… it is what it is.

What’s happened is my brain has been mainly filled with three things the last few months: work, politics, and hobby. I don’t want to write about politics, not really, though it’s definitely something I could provide a running commentary on (this might please my Twitter followers most, if I were move politics to here). Work… well it’s work – I’ve been doing my best to keep it at the office, as it’s been very intense of late. There’s been a few very interesting technical challenges I could write about, but I can’t go into some of the specifics necessary, due to the nature of what I do. Plus, normally by the time I get home I don’t want to sit in front of a computer again. So that’s left hobby, and I have a whole other blog for that… although I’ve been concentrating on the practical side of the hobby for once, so haven’t been writing much there either.

So in short, we’re in one of my regular “blogging takes a backseat” phases. You should be used to them by now! I do still feel “the pull” to write, and regularly feel like I should be writing here more (as opposed to venting on Twitter), it’s just not happening for a variety of reasons.

C’est la vie.

To paraphrase Good Ol’ JR: “business will eventually pick up.”

How to Build Adeptus Arbites

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a fun little project – I’ve been building a small Adeptus Arbites force. The Arbites don’t exist as an army in 40K right now, but when has that ever stopped a determined hobbyist?

Anyway, I posted my initial work on social media, and got a lot of encouraging feedback and many questions about how I went about making my conversions. Below is a quick guide on how to make your own Arbites. I’m afraid I don’t have as many photos as I would like, as I’d used most of my parts by the time I got round to writing up the process.

Parts

To make these Arbite models, you will need (affiliate links below):

  • Reikland Reavers Blood Bowl Team (2016 version). 1 box can make 10 Arbites, if you build the squad exactly like I have.
  • Space Marine Scouts with Shotguns. You only need the shotgun arms, so if you have no need for the rest of the parts, hit up eBay (if you do get a box, you’ll have enough parts leftover to build a squad with bolt pistol + CC weapon)
  • Militarum Tempestus Scions. You need the legs, some armour plates, and many other parts are useful – the greatcoat, special weapons, pouches, etc.
  • Skitarii Vanguard. You only need the helmeted heads, so if you have no other need of the remaining parts, get these from eBay. (If do you buy a box you’ll still be able to build the Rangers/use the hooded heads)

Guide

  • clip out your Reavers. The Blockers/Blitzers make up your troops, the Thrower is your sergeant. You don’t need the heads.
  • Remove the arms. It should be fairly obvious where to cut/clip these, so you get a clean, vertical surface. I test fit with the chest piece, to make sure it all lines up.
  • if you’re adding the coat to the sergeant, trim off half of the Thrower’s shoulder pad (your left, when looking at the model’s front). Otherwise, I find a larger, alternative pad with an eagle scultped onto it. Note: If you are adding the coat, remember that it only fits with certain leg options.
  • once you’re happy with where the arms used to be, glue the two parts of the body together.
  • once the glue is dry, and using a razor saw for an easier time, cut through the body, following the line of the belt. Try to keep the cut as straight as possible. You might lose some of the belt – that’s fine. If you lose all of it, you’ll just have to use a bit more greenstuff. Trim off any excess material as required.
  • You should now have a bunch of dismembered Reaver torsos. They’ll look something like these (which still need cleaned up)

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  • get your Scion legs and assemble as necessary. With the saw, cut the “dome” part of the waist off (just above the armour plates), as straight and level as you can.
  • glue to the legs to the torsos. If you’ve cut things right you should find they line-up pretty well, size-wise. You’ll have gaps though. Fill those with greenstuff or whatever your favourite filler is. You should have something like this:

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  • Trim the hip armour plates off the bottom of the Scion chestpiece. Glue them in a similar place on your Arbite. Superglue is usually better, if you’ve had to fill anything in that area.

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  • Once the filler/glue is dry, I glue various pouches/grenades/accessories around the waist, just to clean things up. The Scion kit comes with 3 little books (they look a bit like big pouches) – I like to use these as often as I can.

The main body should be ready now. For the arms… it’s mostly trial and error, followed by greenstuff to fill joins/replace any parts of the arm you’ve trimmed off too much of. There’s no real science to it, or easy way to describe it, I’m afraid. I generally use Scion arms/weapons for the special weapons (except the flamer, which doesn’t really fit the look, IMO), Scout arms for the rest.

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If you look closely you’ll be able to make out the huuuge gaps on the shotgun arms

Basically, trim down the shoulder pads, cut to the angle you want, glue in place, and hope for the best…

The coat for the sergeant should more or less fit exactly. I put a little filler over the join, just to smooth it over (and just in case someone looks in that area), but you might not need it.

Once you’ve got the arms attached, and greenstuffed to look approximately right, I hide anything I’m not happy with, with purity seals/more pouches/any decorative doodads I think look good.

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The last step is attaching the head. It should fit in place just fine; sometimes I trim a tiny bit from the collar, to get it sitting “just right”, but this is to taste.

Results

Below are a selection of photographs showing off the 3 squads I’ve built – and their transports (Taurox, with “Longhorn” wheel kits from Blood & Skull Industries).

Where did March go?

It’s been a while since I last updated this site; it wasn’t because of lack of enthusiasm or anything – I was just so busy getting stuck into hobby projects and gaming that I didn’t have any opportunity to sit down at the computer!

So to catch up with where things are:

March was mostly spent gaming, with the purpose of reacquainting myself with the minutia of the 40K rules, and refining my Deathwatch list + tactics for the 1500pt Unbound tournament I played in at the end of the month. Below are a random assortment of photos from different practice games I played. I’ll have a fuller write-up of my experiences playing Deathwatch in the (hopefully near) future.

Getting back into the gaming side of the hobby was fun, but a lot more taxing than I remember. 40K is a marathon now, not a sprint. By the end of the 1-Day tournament I was exhausted – physically and mentally. It was a lot of fun though. I had no pretense of being anywhere near the “top tables” so concentrated on having fun and learning. I lost narrowly in the first game, got crushed in the second (to the eventual winner) and won my final game, playing against another “returnee” player. After paint scores and the like were added in I came in fifth out of sixteen – which I was more than happy with – and came away with a “Best Painted Unit” award for the Veteran Squad with power mauls and storm shields.

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When I wasn’t playing games, I was head down at my painting station. Coming up in May is the painting competition I mentioned a while back. Knowing how long it takes me to paint anything (when I’m not skipping corners to get to tabletop standard), I knew I had to start early.

I’ve more or less finalised my entries:

  • 40K Single: Leman Russ
  • 40K Vehicle: Imperial Fists Leviathan Dreadnought
  • Duel: Blood Bowl

If I can get them done in time, then I’ll also have a 40K Squad entry, and an Age of Sigmar Single, but I’m not committing to them until I’m sure I can complete them.

I’ll have posts on each of these entries when they’re ready, but for now, if you want to follow along you can see the work in progress shots on my Instagram.

A Minor Diversion… Corvus Blackstars

I had intended to switch back to some Grey Knight units – specifically some Dreadknights – after finishing the Deathwatch, but I ran out of some of the paints I used during the first GK’s I painted and had to rethink my plans.

One reason I was building up both armies was to combine them into a 2000 point army for a small, one day tournament to be held in April. Or at least, that’s what I thought, based on last year. When I did get the information about the tourney, it was 1500 points and happening in March. Oh. That meant my plans had to be drastically altered! While I could field a combined army, it would have meant some big compromises, none of which seemed particularly good, so I decided to focus on expanding just one army to fill the points.

Deathwatch required fewer additions to reach 1500 points, so that’s where I focussed my attention. Listing out everything I had already brought me to around 1200 with upgrades factored in. I wasn’t going to have enough points for another squad or Kill Team, so adding one or more vehicles made sense.

Skipping ahead to make a long story short, I ended up reorganising things about to make a Black Spear Strike Force, and by changing some of the upgrades around, I had enough points to take 2 Corvus Blackstars.

I bought and built the kits on Saturday (it’s a really nice kit to build!), keeping as many of the metallic parts separate as I could, and magnetising the main weapon options. From there I painted them much the same as the Drop Pods:

  • Prime black: 2-3 layers
  • Layer with Vallejo Game Air Black
  • Red areas (in this case, the stripes) are given 3-4 layers of Game Air Scarlet Red
  • Mask off the red areas
  • Respray black to neaten up
  • Using heavily thinned Game Air Sombre Grey and a bit of card, softly highlight the edges
  • Neaten up with some black if needed, concentrating on the middle of panels
  • Paint all “working” metallics with Metal Color Burnt Iron, shade with Nuln Oil, then lightly go over with a drybrush of Necron Compound
  • Decorative metals are painted with Metal Color Steel or Metal Color Gold

I do still need to paint the lenses or missiles on the model, but I couldn’t decide how I wanted to do those right now, so I’ve left them undone for now. I’ll get them painted before the tournament. Both Blackstars were 95% finished on Sunday, and the remainder done in a couple of hours on Monday

The Deathwatch – Finished for Now

So soon after I finished building them? I’ll be honest, the previous post was supposed to have published 24 days ago. Whoops, my bad. In that time I ended up finishing the Deathwatch. It was one of those projects where I didn’t want to lose momentum, so I didn’t really stop to post WIP details in the evenings. But I did take pictures, so on to those!

I primed the models with grey primer. No, I hadn’t lost my mind (probably) – I wanted to be sure I had a consistent finish throughout this batch, and didn’t trust my eyes to pick out black primer vs black paint by finish alone, with the sometimes questionable lighting in my hobby area.

From there, I airbrushed on the metal arm, and the primary red details (knee, cloths, etc) – in the end I repainted all the reds by brush later on, so I shouldn’t have bothered with those.

Finally, the black armour was basecoated with GW’s new Air-range Chaos Black. I added some drops of Scale 75 Inktense Blue and Inktense Green inks to make it a bit more interesting. This was my first time using a GW Air paint, and it was… interesting. I don’t think there’s as high a pigment:medium ratio in them as there is in Vallejo Game Air paints (for example), so it needed multiple coats. Other than this, it was fine enough. The fact the range is sold in a local store is handy, and obviously colour-matching won’t be an issue, but I think I’ll mainly stick with Vallejo where I can.

Once the armour was basecoated I highlighted it by giving it a zenithal highlight of very thinned Vallejo Sombre Grey. The steel arms received a black/blue wash made from inks.

The Sombre Grey highlight ended up being a little too strong in some areas, and the overall finish wasn’t what I wanted, so once I repainted the red areas with GW Khorne Red, I washed everything but the steel arm with a wash made up from Black and Green inks, mixed 5:1 or so, and heavily thinned. This made the armour really pop, and seemed to give it a very slightly glossy finish.

From there it was mostly blocking in/picking out the details. Red areas were highlighted with Evil Suns Scarlet. Any bone or white areas were based with Rakarth Flesh, shaded with either Seraphim Sepia or Agrax Earthshade, then highlighted up through to Pallid Wych Flesh. Pouches were painted with Rhinox Hide. Golds were Vallejo Metal Color Gold, shaded with Agrax Earthshade. Cables were painted with Incubi Darkness, then highlighted.

Chapter badges were picked out near the end. Every Marine has a unique icon, and I still have many spares from the sprues.

Power weapons were given a fade effect similar to the Force Weapons of the Grey Knights, but this time in blue. The Librarian’s sword were given the purple effect.

Bases and whatnot were painted to match my Grey Knights, and the various sub-assemblies were glued together. 2 weeks after starting and the bulk of the Deathwatch were finished.

Near the start of the project, I had a mishap with one of the Librarians and had to get a replacement. It didn’t arrive until the day after I finished the rest of the project, so I gave myself a speed painting challenge. Some parts (particularly the cloth) are rougher than I’d like, but as a 3 hour paint job it’s fine enough.

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Bonus Round!

Because I was finished this project a lot quicker than I expected, I decided to go all-out and build/paint the drop pod “expansion” I had planned for the army:

I built the pods initially in 3 sections: base + doors, engine, and fins. The lower section and engine received a gloss black primer, before being airbrushed with Metal Color Burnt Iron. The interior sections were then dusted with Metal Color Gunmetal Grey.

From there, I finished assembling the pods, then primed the outside with 2-3 coats of regular black primer. The red areas were painted with several coats of Scarlet Red, then masked off so the black could be neatened up. Finally, I gave the black a highlight using Sombre Grey, using a piece of card to get sharper edges. Once done, I sprayed black in the centre of some panels to re-establish it.

To finish, I neatened up any of the Gunmetal areas that needed it, painted the dome of the central column with FW Clear Green, and finished off by painting the icons with Silver.

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With these done, it was a total of 3 weeks (almost to the day) to get the entire Deathwatch project – a ~1250 point army painted up. As a reward, I bought another addition to the army, that’ll let me field it as a complete Black Spear detachment. More on that later!

Next up on the table are 2 Dreadknights, which should round out the Grey Knight force. After those, it’s on to… well, I don’t know what yet! I’m ~6 weeks into the year and already through what I expected to take me until the end of April to paint.

Building The Deathwatch

I’ll let you in on a secret: I dread starting to build miniatures. Which is odd, because once I get going I find it incredibly relaxing. Possibly more so than painting. But it’s the thought of dealing with all the clipping, mould lines, cleaning, fitting, and glueing that provides a mental hurdle. So the 18 models I had planned for my Deathwatch contingent took a while to get going:

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As I wasn’t “feeling it” at the time, I took a break then went back to it later, put some Tabletop Tactics on the iPad, and got stuck in. On the first evening I built Artemis, the close-combat Veteran squad, and the first of 2 Aquila Kill Teams with Librarians:

As you might be able to see in the last picture, I also scrounged up a second Librarian from my bits box.

On night 2 I wanted to keep things rolling, so I built the second Kill Team, then threw in a Chaplain which will accompany the Veteran Squad (I haven’t decided what type of Kill Team to make them yet)

Both Kill Teams are built with double shotgun and double frag-cannon. The Blackshields are all equipped with two power swords. I have some Drop Pods to build for these squads, but I can do them in a later batch of models.

Artemis is in sub-assemblies, and similarly I have left the shields unattached from the Veterans, for easier access to painting (particularly at the airbrush stage).

Oh, as one last thing – fuck this one bit (from the frag-cannon barrel assembly) in particular: deathwatchvet-23I lost 2-3 of these while trying to clean the parts. It’s only because I bought spares off eBay that I could finish the build at all.

Knowing When to Stop/It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

I mentioned over on my hobby blog that I’m trying to know when to stop, rather than doing something and then tinkering with it endlessly because “it’s not good enough” or similar (or simply because I can). This is a frustrating habit of mine, because it’s a waste of time and effort, and usually leads to extra and unnecessary stress.

This is something that happens in loads of different situations, but within the context of my hobby projects it happens more often than not, and it’s the main reason I don’t finish anything near as much as I’d like, and it’s in this context I think I can make the most progress in “fixing things” overall.

It just so happened I came across two videos (one recent, one older) by Tabletop Minions which are on this exact topic:

Knowing When It’s Best to Quit

The Price of Perfection

Addendum: “It’s not good enough” has frequently been a case why I haven’t blogged regularly – similar to what’s described/linked in “How to Talk Yourself out of your New Year’s Blogging Resolution… One Day At A Time” – so overcoming this habit will benefit more than my hobby projects. It’s still early days, and posting has been a bit “spotty” since going back to work after the festive break, but I’m slowly getting there…

Grey Knights – Finished for Now

On Saturday night I finished up with the Grey Knights, getting them to a stage I would be happy putting them on the table (this is the first time I’ve sat at the PC in days, for me to catch up on blogging). I intend to go back to them at some point, to bring them a bit further up the quality scale, but that can be done at any point in the future. By getting them to “tabletop” I at least have them available for games.

This ties into some things I’m trying to teach myself this year: it doesn’t have to be perfect, and finishing (to a point) quickly is better than going back-and-forth for weeks on models before abandoning them in frustration.

You may notice I’ve kept a few things very simple: not all the sculpted detail is a different colour to the armour; the heraldry is unique to the squad, rather than the individual; and the bases are done very plain. These are all intentional at this stage – I looked at some Grey Knights artwork, and much of the details were depicted as the same material as the armour, I didn’t want to spend days tweaking heraldry for 10 individuals at this point, and the bases match those of my Sisters of Silence, while still having the metallic Grey Knights stand out from the (mostly) metallic base details. I might add some dark brass/bronze to the some base details, but I’m not yet decided.

So that’s the first 505 points of 2017 in the bag. It may only be 11 models, but to get them done in around 2 weeks is a significant step up in speed for me. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going! The Deathwatch are up next…

Planning for the Golden Troll Painting Competition

There’s a yearly painting competition in my area, called “Golden Troll.” I entered for the first time last year, and it was one of the things I built my “Hobby Year” around. Talk has already started about this year’s event, and although there’s not a set date for it yet, I think I need to start planning (and executing!) now.

Last year I didn’t manage to complete all of the entries I planned, and much of the entries I did have I wasn’t happy with, mostly because I ended up up pushed for time. This year I want to do better.

I’m not 100% sure what the categories will be, but I can taken educated guess at at most:

  • 40K Single Figure
  • 40K Squad
  • 40K Vehicle
  • Age of Sigmar Single Figure
  • Age of Sigmar Unit
  • Age of Sigmar Monster
  • Open

I figure there’ll also be something for The Hobbit and Blood Bowl. From these, 40K Single was the most crowded in 2015. 40K Squad/AoS Unit were also very popular. I honestly can’t remember about the other categories, other than the Overall Winner came from the AoS Monster category.

So far I don’t have any fixed ideas for my entries. I need to firm up my ideas first. At the moment, everything is on the table (well, not yet, hah!). That said, I don’t want to go spending money on creating entries unnecessarily; last year my entries were all “outside of my comfort zone,” which meant it was all stuff I wasn’t going to use for anything else. While having display pieces is a nice to have, I’d prefer to have some more stuff for gaming (eventually)!

For example, in Age of Sigmar categories, any entries should probably fit into my plans for Stormcast Eternals. 40K should use up something from my large project backlog. With this in mind, these are the entries I’m leaning towards:

  • Age of Sigmar Single: Stormcast Eternal Knight Azyros
  • 40K Vehicle: Eldar Wraithknight OR Leviathan (or Contemptor) Dreadnought
  • 40K Single: Saint Celestine OR Armillus Dynat OR Alexis Polux

All of these, apart from the Azyros, I already have – and I was planning to get the Azyros anyway. The Wraithknight might be a stretch, due to the size of it, but it’s the idea I have the most clarity on right now. Polux or Dynat would be the most straightforward… I’d maybe just do some minor tweaks to the models and colour schemes.

Thinking about it further, the Wraithknight might have to go into the Open category, due to it being a Gargantuan Creature.

Importantly, the number of models to paint is small. Some models might be bigger than average, but I’m not trying to paint two ten-man units + some characters this year!

(Yet?)

If push came to shove, I could always enter my Leman Russ in 40K single, I guess!

This post turned out a bit more rambly than I thought it would be, but I guess that represents where I’m at with these entries. I’d half hoped writing things down would help me pick, but alas, it’s not to be. As I firm up my plans and start working on the entries, I’ll be sure to post more info!

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