Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog and Website Updates

I've been posting photos of completed kits at a lightning pace, trying to "catch up" and populate the blog. I also have a static website that hasn't really been updated in a long while. The code is old and the pictures aren't all that great, so I'll probably revisit that site in a while. Hopefully the blog and the site will go hand in hand- the blog can show works in progress and a few shots of completed pieces while the site shows more images and detail shots. I also use the site as a reference for my own collection of model kits; sometimes I see something on eBay that catches my eye but I have to double check to see if I might already have it.

Back in '97 I had whittled down my backlog to a mere FOUR unbuilt kits. Then I went to Japan for the first time. I returned with a suitcase full of hard to find kits and began to shift from Model Builder to Model Collector. You have to remember that back in 97 we were still using rotary phones and had to get out off the sofa to change the channel on the TV set (which was a giant CRT in a wooden console that weighed just under half a ton). Hobbylink Japan wasn't around, and eBay was still new. If you wanted to find something rare, out of production, or had to do it the hard way. Kids today just have to type in a keyword search or hit eBay, HLJ, or any of a dozen forums and online communities to find what they want. I kind of miss "the hunt", but at least my wallet is recovering.

Anyway, as it currently stands, I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 110 unbuilt kits of various subjects. At my current rate, I'll be blind and long since retired before I get through them all. I might have been further along if Morgrimdark and I hadn't started playing 40k about 4 or so years ago. Even though I've put all non-gaming kits on hold, I have still managed to plow through over a dozen gaming vehicles and probably well over 100 figures. I have a full Death Korps army waiting to be painted (they're primed and ready to go otherwise) and a backlog of Space Marines that though not necessary could be nice. Heck, I even have a few Tau XV9 suits that need painting. Infinity has been a nice diversion- ten guys and I'm good to go. I like the minis. I like the game. It's a breath of fresh air and I think I'm going to stick with it for a while.

As time allows, I'll also go back to earlier blog posts and flesh them out with more details if warranted. After this missive, I'm going to describe the scratchbuilt detailing I did on the Death Korps tanks. Thanks for joining me for the ride.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tau: Tetra

The Tetra is another example of a nifty looking Tau unit that follows their alien design aesthetic. I love the sleek lines of the vehicle, and find the concept of a "hard top canopy" with open sides to be quite intriguing. It's just a really pretty skimmer.

On the other hand, even though it's a relatively cheap unit, it's also relatively useless. It's stealthy and fast, which balances out it's total lack of armor. It has the same firepower as an infantryman but carries a markerlight. Clearly it is meant as a scout vehicle or forward observer. The problem is it takes up a Fast Attack slot and with only the single markerlight there is hardly anything you can do with it in a regular game. Now, throw it on the board in an Apocalypse game and you can get away with a lot of mischief...

Building the Tetra was quick and mostly easy. The slight warping of the "canopy" was fixed with hot water. I did have to fill in some misaligned moldings, but they were not too bad. The mold release on the Tetra was so bad that I had to sand down every surface to some degree. The pulse rifles mounted on the chin were poorly cast and as a result I simply used leftover plastic rifles from my Fire Warrior stash.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tau: XV88 Broadsides

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Forge World kits are a crap-shoot. You may get perfection, you may get a pain in the ass. The XV88 is a far superior design to the standard XV8. It's also a far more labor intensive kit to build. The rail cannons were badly warped, the ammo belts would not align, there were mold separation marks that ran deep like valleys... but the design is awesome and the detail is sharp.

So, you take the good you take the bad, you take them all and then you have the Facts of...uh, side tracked into a sit com from the 80s.

Immersion in boiling water will help fix the warped pieces and allow you to connect mis-aligned parts. Pinpoint application of superglue and small quantities of Green Stuff will fill bubbles and voids

One other major issue with Forge World kits is the mold release agent they use. Whatever it is, it's industrial strength. It is the only thing I've ever seen to make superglue bead up on application. I've soaked the parts in water, soap, detergent, Windex, alcohol, coke, and Simple Green. Sometimes, no matter how much I try to get the mold release off the part, it just won't go. As a result, I ALWAYS prime Forge World kits. I have a Forge World Vindicator that has a siege shield which I've primed and painted (partially) at least 3 times... and the paint still won't adhere, even after sanding down the part. The only other possibility is that the kits were sold before the resin fully cured and it's either still setting or de-gassing.

Back to the Broadsides...posing the kit is tricky because not only do you have to get the legs in a decent position (you can get a dynamic pose on the 60mm base, but in-game you are better off with the 40mm base), you have to get the arms mounted as well. The arms are trickier than the legs, because the XV88 has under-slung rail cannons which are further supported by auxiliary arms that run between sockets in the rear of the gun and sockets in the lower part of the backpack. That means when connecting the arms you need to take in to account the arm, ammo feed, and auxiliary arm...3 connection points, all at once. It's only slightly nightmare-ish.

When I'd finally assembled and primed the suits, I airbrushed Tamiya Buff over everything, followed by a wash of Devlan Mud and drybrushing of Vallejo Sand. Mechanical bits were painted Chaos Black with Fortress Grey highlights. Red panels were painted Vallejo Vermilion with highlights of Vermilion mixed with Vallejo Flat Yellow. Missile pod details were picked out with Fortress Grey and Skull White highlights.

Bases are medium and fine ballast...unpainted. I ought to go back and add something there. The figures are pinned to the bases using paperclips that run through the lower legs and feet then through the base, under which they hook into "L" shapes secured by superglue. The ankles are insanely delicate and require re-enforcement.

Broadsides are a lot of fun in the game...I've often been tempted to buy another. But no...I must...resist...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tau: Vespid Stingwings

Vespid. The very name sends shudders of fear through my opponents.

Wait...did I say "fear"? I meant "laughter".

Yeah, probably the worst option in the Tau codex, the Vespid are slightly over-priced, slightly under-powered, and very out-classed by the other Fast Attack options in the codex. Sure, you could use Vespid as a rapid reaction force, but with Tau, if your enemy is that close, you're already boned. You could use them as a suicidal unit to threaten your enemy, but against MEQ they'll get shot to pieces before doing much damage, and against GEQ they'll get swamped. In the handful of games where I have run Vespid they have not done well by any definition of the word.

They look good, though, and were fairly easy to paint. Since they're metal, the poses are limited. If GW upgraded their rules and released plastics, they might actually sell. Anyway, the metals were assembled and primed Armory White. I didn't bother with a base coat, but did add a few blue splotches around the figures. After that I just washed the figures with light washes of Asurmen Blue and even lighter Thraka Green and Badab Black. I did a very light and quick drybrush of Skull White. Claws were painted with Fortress Grey and washed with Badab Black at the roots. Another quick drybrush of Skull White picked out the edges.

Tausept Ocher came to the rescue for the neutron blasters, torso armor, and communion helm. Highlights came from Bleached Bone. The crystals in the blasters were left primed, then washed with Thraka Green and given a Skull White highlights along the edges. The leader's wing bling and gold bosses on the blasters got the standard Tau gold treatment.

Bases were medium and light ballast with a few chips of styrene sheet. The figures were molded with "something" under their feet, so I had to replicate that on the ground work for the bases.