Privateer Press – Sneak Peek at 2019

So, shortly after I wrote my article on what I would like to see in 2019 from Privateer Press, they responded. Well, actually, I don’t think they read my article, but I like to think of myself of having some influence over the mothership, even though we all know that that is completely unrealistic. Anyways, taking a break from the doom and gloom that has infested the Warmachine internet over the past several days, I figured I would take a look at what they have to offer.

Stormbreak

Stormbreak is a series of narrative events for Warmachine which will encompass Winter Rampage, a spring narrative league, and culminate in a final event at Lock and Load 2019. This is something that we’ve seen before with their Crossroads of Courage league and the Battle of Boarsgate in 2017. However, the stakes are much higher; instead of simply deciding the fate of one character in the Iron Kingdoms, we’re influencing the fate of multiple key characters as well as the liberated province of East Khador (or “Llael” as some filthy southerners call it).

This sounds cool. While I’m not crazy about the possibility of Khador losing its newly liberated territory, I think it will be interesting to see how the story moves forwards. Ever since the launch of Mark III, it feels like we’ve been building up to something big between the rise of the Grymkin and the Crucible Guard. This could be it; an epic cataclysm that really pushes the story forward.

Art Book

art book.pngThey’ve also announced a kickstarter for an art book containing the best art from 20 years of Privateer Press, not to mention a cool looking Riot Quest model to go along with it. This is going to be interesting. I’m a sucker for PP’s aesthetic, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to go all in on this. Of course, being a kickstarter, there’s a lot that can go either really right or really wrong between stretch goals, shipping, fulfillment, etc., but I think PP is a big enough and reputable enough company that they aren’t going to Ninja Division this thing.

Infernals

Infernals are the newest faction to be teased for Warmachine, with a release date scheduled for Lock and Load 2019. These shadowy figures are known for offering backhanded deals, and have come to collect their due on a thousand year old debt that humanity owes.

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To be honest, I’m a little apprehensive about Infernals for two reasons, one fluff-based and one gameplay based. First, from what little I know of the fluff, the Infernals are shadowy sorts working in the background. I suspect that this is the sort of thing that might be great fodder for an RPG, but in a miniatures wargame, it may be difficult to go from shadowy, powerful forces working in the background and translate that to an army engaged in pitched battle.

The second has to do with all the unique mechanics being promised. Quite frankly, we’ve seen this before and I don’t enjoy playing against Grymkin. Not only is their arcana system very different, but it can also be very punishing for the opponent who has to play around it to a much larger extent than against other factions for fear of activating their trap card. More often than against every other faction, I feel like with Grymkin, I need to work around these arcana for several turns, with the hope that by turn four or five, I have enough of my army left that we can sit down and actually have a game of Warmachine. Not to mention how annoying those Gremlin Swarms are.

My concern is that with Infernals, they may end up going a similar route with lots of special rules that really warp the game or force hard gear checks like with those damn Gremlin Swarms or heavy recursion lists like pre-nerf Ghost Fleet that demand Remove From Play effects (among other things) to even have a game. Already they’ve alluded to them being very different from anything we’ve seen before, and as someone who likes Warmachine as it is, I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

Warmachine: Oblivion

Following the release of the Infernals, PP plans to take us into the heart of the Infernal apolcalypse with Oblivion, a brand new campaign book.

This is something that I’m really looking forward to. First, a campaign book for Warmachine packed full of interesting narrative scenarios would just be straight-up cool. Second, it’s been a while since we’ve had something like this where we have a big release that has something for everyone in it, with Privateer Press instead preferring to bundle their releases according to faction. So, for example, one faction may get all their releases in one month, then the next will get their turn. While this may be a more manageable release schedule from a playtesting perspective, what it means is that at any one time, only a relatively small portion of players are getting goodies for their faction that they can be excited about. Oblivion, however, promises something for everyone, which we haven’t really had in a while.

And, perhaps with some focus on Morrowans, maybe Connie B might get some love?

MonPoc and L5R Mini-crates

I’ll be honest, this looks cool but it’s not my jam, so I don’t have a lot of excitement for it. But… it’s good for those who are into it, I guess.

Riot Quest!

We got some more information about Riot Quest! It’s going to be set in an alternate future in the Iron Kingdoms, where players assemble crews and duke it out on a hex map, each gang trying to “Wreck Face and Get Paid” in the chaos of the brawl.\

riot quest.pngSo far, I like most of the models that have been shown. Mixing classic Iron Kingdoms steampunk elements with some futuristic tech makes for some interesting models. My hope is that they are resin/metal and not some cheap board game plastic.

I actually think the use of a hex map is interesting. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and talking to some people lately, and to be honest, I don’t think miniature games with freeform measuring are that great to be played competitively. Trying to get measurements down to the levels of precision necessary for competitive play results in not just the obnoxiousness of having to bust out lasers and custom laser-cut widgets, but also compromises on things like terrain. Not to mention how easy it is to bump a model and permanently screw up the game state. With a hex map, on the other hand, it’s pretty easy to tell if someone is four or five hexes away.

Now, from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Riot Quest isn’t intended to be a competitive game. However, the hex maps can also help take some of the pressure off for casual play, as we don’t need to stress ourselves out over precision measurements and the like.

The one thing that they didn’t really mention, that I hope plays a big role, is terrain. If the hex map is just a plain board, that’s going to get a little dull. But if we have Necromunda style scaffolding and industrial terrain, based around hexes to both look more futuristic and match the hex map… now we’re talking.

Conclusion

Despite on the doom and gloom on the internet lately over some staff turnover at PP headquarters, it looks like they have big plans for 2019. This is very reassuring, and I think 2019 is going to be a great year for fans of PP.

Also: Riot. Quest.

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Paintlog: Ill-conceived conversions and fun with photoetch

It’s been about a month or two since my last paintlog, and if I had to give November a theme, it would be conversions and kitbashes. Possibly ill-conceived and overly-ambitious conversions and kitbashing, but conversions and kitbashing nonetheless.

Greylord Outriders

These are models that have been sitting on the shelf of shame for at least two years. I remember when I first got them, I quickly slapped three or so of them together, and did some conversion work on the other two, messing around with green stuff and alternate heads to add to the gender diversity of this unit. I also sculpted some snowball like things coming out of their hands to represent the magic spells that they cast. These were just paper clips with an extended teardrop shape sculpted in green stuff, then textured by dragging a hobby knife along the length of the item. Drill a hole in the hands, pop the paper clip in, and call it a day.

Then, they rested on my shelf for at least two years. When I resolved to clear off my shelf of shame (that is, my shelf where I put all my assembled but unpainted models), these guys were some of the last that I got to, mostly because I don’t really like painting cavalry, and partly because they don’t exactly fit my army tactics-wise.

When it came time to paint them, I decided to start by using the airbrush as much as I could to bang out the bulk of the actual horses, then paint the riders and details such as the saddles, harnesses, and mane with a brush. After applying black primer and a zenithal highlight, I got to work, initially starting with a mixture of a dark brown and Reaper’s Blue Liner, which is essentially a blue-black that seems to have been originally formulated for doing darklining on blue surfaces like the armour of a space marine. Of course, the blue was chosen over black because colour theory.

From there, I worked up to the  highlights, spraying from above and going from brown to a slightly reddish leather colour, and mixing in a touch of P3 Menoth White Highlight (one of my go-to off-whites) into the highest highlight. When I was satisfied with the horses, at least for a tabletop quality miniature that I wanted off my shelf and in my display case with the rest of my army, I moved on to brush painting everything else. Finally, I did bust out the airbrush again to do quick OSL effects on the magic spells and a couple other little things. I may have gone slightly overboard with the blue glow, but they’re spell-slinging cavalry, so who cares?

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Honestly, some of the green stuff work is a little rough and there are a couple places where the paint was a little quick and dirty and my blends weren’t perfect, but it’s good enough for tabletop and it’s got me closer to having a completely empty shelf of shame.

Vlatka Tzepesci, Great Princess of Umbrey

IMG_1085.JPGAnd, speaking of ill-conceived gender-bent cavalry models, I’ve decided to put my own spin on Vladimir Tzepesci, Great Prince of Umbrey (Vlad3) as well, kitbashing his horse and weaponry with Alexia’s body and head to make my own special version. The horse is basically stock, aside from some gap filling here and there.

As these were both metal models, this process involved a lot of filing to make Alexia fit on the horse designed for Vlad, and make sure that Vlad’s cape fits on her. It was a bit of a pain because cutting, filing and pinning metal models gets real obnoxious real fast. I did a little but of sculpting, using various epoxy putties to sculpt some transitions on places like the cape where the two pieces from two models not designed to ever go together met, and sculpted a cloth hanging down on one side of the saddle to cover up some rough areas where she didn’t quite fit that nicely on the horse. I also, of course, had to sculpt on some big shoulder pads because if there is one thing Vlad is notorious for, it’s oversized shoulder pads that put GW’s Space Marines to shame. I did keep it somewhat restrained though for both aesthetics and versimilitude, not that a model of someone riding a horse while simultaneously wielding a spear and a flail makes any sense on any level whatsoever. Finally, the weapons involved a lot of pinning with very tiny pins because they are small metal pieces that will break off if you breath on them the wrong way, and the shaft of the spear was replaced with a brass rod because leaving it in pewter is just asking for trouble.

In the end, between the reposing of the spear and the elevated base I constructed for this model, I think she is taller than a stock colossal. I know this is going to cause headaches if I ever bring her to a tournament, but that’s one thing that I almost never worry about.

Chibi Gundam

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I’ve also started on an SD Gundam, which is basically the Toon Tank of the Gundam universe. I’ve decided that with the deformed, cutesy shape, it would be interesting to contrast that with lots of weathering. I’ve started off with the hairspray technique in two layers. After priming with Synylrez, I started with the metal and rust layer. I sprayed the entire model with Vallejo Metal Color Steel, then sprayed, stippled and dry-brushed some various tones of brown and orange on there. I varnished that, then picked out a colour that roughly resembles the yellow primer you see on planes and other military equipment from the Army Painter rack at my FLGS. After applying the varnish and chipping medium, I chipped away at it, trying to get about half of the primer off. The idea is that when I chip the top coat, some of the chips will show primer, while some of the chips will go all the way to the metal.

I haven’t quite decided what colours I will paint this in yet, though I’m leaning towards a green and khaki scheme. I’d like to really push the weathering; in addition to doing the double layer chipping for the first time and using my usual techniques of sponging and painting on scratches, I was thinking of trying out oils, streaking products, and really play around with dry pigments.

Flag Statue

IMG_1079.JPGI also figured that for Warmachine, I need a third flag model to act as an objective now that three-flag scenarios are a thing again. However, I’ve already exhausted both Khador standard bearers, so it was time to do a conversion. I took a Kossite Woodsman leader, a flag from a Man-O-War, some pins and a brass tube and made myself a third unique flag. I also used the same Reaper base as my last ones, and will end up using the same painting tactic to make it look like an old bronze statue.

Fortunately, I remembered to take the picture halfway through brush priming with Reaper, so you can see the use of brass tube to replace the flagpole. Now that it’s all primed, he shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to paint through heavy use of dry-brushing and Citadel’s Nihilakh Oxide technical paint.

Me-109B

And now for something completely different, with the successful completion of my PZL 23 project, I’ve decided to embark on a more ambitious scale aircraft, AMG’s Me-109B in 1:48 scale. I don’t have a lot of recent experience with model aircraft kits, but this is definitely more complicated than my last work in that medium, as well as the model kits that I would build in my childhood.

This kit includes lots of advanced features in the box such as photo-etch parts, and is of a sufficiently obscure subject that I can’t imagine that very much aftermarket bling would be either necessary or even available for the more discerning modeller.

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Interior, just prior to joining the two halves of the fuselage

And speaking of photo-etch, that stuff can die in a fire. For the uninitiated, photo-etch are very tiny parts, made through the use of a photographic etching process on a thin brass sheet. This allows for smaller and more detailed parts than is possible with either plastic or resin, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Further, it is not uncommon to have to bend parts into the shape required, such as with the map case on the side of the cockpit. It’s not so bad when it’s just gluing a sheet to a flat piece of plastic, but when you start having to bend it and make complex shapes, it gets real obnoxious real fast.

Fortunately, most of the photoetch is cockpit detail, and now that I’ve got the cockpit in place and by some miracle the two halves of the fuselage actually went together fairly nicely. I think the plan is going to be work on filling seams for the time being, as well as getting some of the sub-assemblies together to glue on once that is done. I’m hoping to get it together fairly quickly, as I have a unique colour scheme in mind and I’m getting antsy to start airbrushing.

Secret project

I do have one more project on the go; though I shared some pictures with a few people, I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment until I’m done. Suffice it to say, it is a very expensive and very involved conversion that involves a lot of plasticard and milliput. And a lot of filing and sanding resin, which is always a task that requires care because that’s some stuff you really don’t want in your lungs.

Next Steps

Right now, I’ve eliminated my shelf of shame, however I have a lot of projects on the bench. I’ve been keeping them organized by using halves of boxes as trays, however it would be nice to clear off a couple and bring my WIP queue down to a more manageable level. But, on the other hand, a coworker is interested in a Warmachine demo, so I think I may pivot to that Cygnar battlebox I have kicking around. I know, it’s Cygnar, but someone has to be the bad guys.

 

 

Privateer Press steals my idea!

Dear readers, I would like to alert you to the biggest travesty of Privateer Press’ CID program since the release of the Siege Animantarax. Clearly dissatisfied with their ability to come up with ideas on their own, the creative team at Privateer Press has decided to engage in bald-faced copying of my work. The pictures speak for themselves; on the left, you can see my Bombshell Battle Mechanik Officer, an original creation of mine kitbashed out of three or four different Privateer Press models and on the right, you can see some concept art for one of their models currently being tested in the Steelhead CID. As you can see, the resemblance is uncanny.

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The legal department of Ice Axe Miniatures has been notified, and they will be working around the clock to prepare a blistering response.

Okay, but seriously…

I’m having some fun here with the uncanny resemblance between my model and the Ironhead (Steelhead Ironhead?) concept art, so I figured this might be a good time to revisit an older model.

This model is a conversion I did at least two years ago, using the Bombardier Bombshell as a base and arms from the Battle Mechanik Officer, as well as a few bits and bobs here and there. I fashioned a blowtorch out of parts from an Assault Kommando flamethrower and replaced the beer in her hand with a scratchbuilt wrench. Nothing too complicated, but it was an early entry into the kitbashing aspect of this hobby for me.

When it came to painting, she was my first attempt at something that might be close to display quality before I got into serious display painting. While she is on a gaming base, I remember when I painted her that my goal was to really push my abilities and do a good job. I remember the challenges of painting the skin tone and the tattoos on such a small model (with a 40mm base, the actual woman inside the armour was smaller than usual for a Warmachine miniature), and I made sure to incorporate highlights (even if they may not be the brightest highlights) and shadows on plenty of surfaces. I believe the base coat was laid down with my first airbrush, a single-action Badger 350 that a coworker who had long since given up the scale armour hobby had handed down to me.

Now, I think I’ve come a long way since then. A couple of the conversion parts were a little rough and the metallics are nowhere near my current skill level with true metallic metal. This was also long before I started really experimenting with weathering techniques, so aside from the spot of grease on her cheek, the model is a lot less dirty and dinged up than my more recent work. It’s interesting looking back on this model, one representing the pinnacle of my abilities at the time, and seeing how far I’ve come.

Backstory

volkov.pngI did end up playing this character in a campaign where one of the perks was that we could build our own warcasters using IKRPG rules. Because Kommander Harkevich is my favourite character from the Warmachine universe, I envisioned her as Harkevich’s apprentice, Alexandra Volkov, a mechanic whose warcaster powers were discovered while she was doing repairs on Black Ivan. Like the Iron Wolf, she was assigned to Llael to defend the territorial integrity of East Khador from Cygnaran invaders. She ended up getting a lot of jack support spells, and feat that allowed her to swap upkeep spells around for free, allowing for more focus allocation on one key turn. While she performed admirably during the league, I couldn’t tell at the end of the day whether she was unplayable trash or OP bullshit, which are the only two things a model in Warmachine can be.

Conclusion

While this older miniature may not be quite up to my present standards, it does represent a certain progression on my hobby journey, and it’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination. As proof, I would point to the saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so clearly someone at Privateer Press is a big fan of my work.

PS: If Matt Wilson is reading this, I would consider settling any legal proceedings in exchange for a nice big royalty cheque or a free Khador colossal…

My Wishlist from Privateer Press

butcher_klus.jpgIn the spirit of the holidays, I thought it might be nice to put together a little Christmas list for Butcher Klaus regarding what I would like to see from Privateer Press in 2019. While not all of these are necessarily within the realm of reason, neither are half the things people ask for in their next CID. And, of course, I’m far from an influential figure in the Warmachine community and I’m pretty sure Matt Wilson doesn’t read my blog, but I figured I might as well commit these to writing anyways.

1. Dropper Bottles

Yeah, I know, it’s not easy to change up your entire paint production line and everything that supports it. Especially if you contract out your paint production like so many companies do. But seriously, you have a good paint handicapped by the fact that it comes in a delivery system that is competing with GW for the title of worst in the industry. And, this is my wishlist so I can be as unrealistic as I want.

Dropper bottles are so much better than paint pots. It’s easier to put a drop on your pallet, or especially in your airbrush. Further, since they are generally taller but with a smaller footprint, they are more efficient in terms of storage on your paint rack. Any paint buildup around the nozzle can be easily taken care of with a safety pin or a paper clip, unlike paint pots where you can get dried paint all around the lip. Dried paint which can make it hard to open and close the lid, or cause it to crack. Or paint that gets on your finger when you’re trying to open the pot, and then gets transferred to the model.

Droppers are better than paint pots. It would be really nice if PP could get with the times on this one. And while they’re at it, throw in a nice heavy agitator that doesn’t corrode as well.

2. Better QC on resin models

Privateer Press has really great customer service. Unfortunately, the reason I know this is because I’ve had to interact with them on a number of occasions regarding miscast resin pieces.

I get it, nobody’s perfect, and there will always be bad product that slips out the door. I’ve also seen some serious improvement on that front over the past year or two, so credit where credit is due. And I understand that taking care of mold lines is part of this hobby. But I used to work in aerospace manufacturing, and while airplane parts are generally a little more mission critical than wardollies, one of the big lessons there is that the best way to improve your productivity is to do things the right way the first time. Having to ship individual replacement parts out to people can’t be good for the bottom line.

Especially on things like mini-crates and busts — these are limited edition collector pieces that are often going to be painted up for display. You can’t get away with the sort of imperfections on these models that you might be able to get away with on random grunt #7 who is likely to never be touched by a brush.

3. Better international distribution on BAHI

When Black Anchor Heavy Industries was first announced, I was one of the few that thought it made a lot of sense. SKU bloat is a problem for retailers, and I’ve seen some retailers take on stock only to have it sit on the shelf because that model is seen as non-competitive. And having to sell a huge based model at a loss after it has sat on a store shelf collecting dust for four years really stings.

So, for PP to take on selling some huge based models directly and make things easier on distributors and retailers makes sense. Unfortunately, where it starts to become an issue is when it comes to international distribution. Between shipping, taxes, and customs, models can start to get prohibitively expensive, especially in Europe. It’s been getting controversial as of late, and a lot of European players are frustrated and looking for alternatives. While I don’t condone using proxies in official tournaments or going to (scum of the earth) recasters, the price tag on something like a Hooch Hauler is starting to get a little eye-watering for our friends across the pond.

4. A smaller format

I actually liked the Rumble format, but judging by the commentary on the internet, I was the only one. Rumble, for those of you who don’t know, was a format in the back of the steamroller packet for 35 point games played on a 30×30″ board.

While I only got a few games in, I thought it was a great idea. A small battle of Warmachine that could be over and done with in an hour or hour and a half is a great idea, as is a 30″x30″ board because that’s how wide a standard table is. Simpler scenarios made it a great option, particularly for newer players who aren’t quite ready for a 35 point brawl yet. Even as a somewhat experienced player who hasn’t memorized all the opposing models from all the factions, reducing the model count makes figuring out an opponent’s list less overwhelming.

Unfortunately, given some of the combos available, it was a little to easy to break the game. If you have an assassination run with a 31″ threat, it’s gets real tricky to avoid that on a 30″ board. However, if you put in the right amount of restrictions — perhaps restrict it to battlebox casters and a few others in each faction that aren’t able to bully an entire 30×30, and keep huge bases out of it — you could fix a lot of the problems and make the learning curve a bit less of a brick wall. This might even be a good place for a no-theme format as well, as some theme benefits may be a touch problematic.

5. Bring back painting requirements

2018 saw some changes to the Steamroller, Masters, and Champions packet. One of these changes was that the painting requirement was not only dropped from Champions, but it was worded in such a way that a painting requirement isn’t even an option at an officially sanctioned Masters or Champions event.

While I get that a limited format and a painting requirement aren’t necessarily the best combination, almost completely eliminating painting requirements is a strong signal from the top that reinforces the sadly all too common idea that the hobby aspect of the game is an afterthought which does not and should not matter. Painting does matter; aesthetics are an important part of wargaming for a lot of people, and are why we play with models rather than playing with pogs or chits.

I’m not saying every event should have a painting requirement. But for me, I’ve been going to the Southern Ontario Open for the past two years, and one of the highlights of my year in Warmachine was getting to play in a tournament where I can play five or six games in a row with and against fully painted armies. That basically never happens out in the wild, and now that painting requirements have gone the way of the dodo, the only way I would be able to have that experience again is to qualify for something like the WTC or the Iron Gauntlet, neither of which is ever going to happen. Being able to go to one or two events a year and get a lot of fully painted games in would be nice.

Perhaps Masters would be a good place for a painting requirement? With no model restrictions, hobbyists can put together whatever cool army they want, and you don’t need to worry about the format limiting you to only the models you haven’t painted yet like with Champions.

6. Ease up on conversion rules

Just about every time I see someone post an amazing conversion on facebook, I see the same response: “that’s cool, but is it tournament legal?”

For the most part, I think PP’s conversion rules are reasonable. No proxies, nothing too confusing, and mostly PP parts. Yeah, I get it, you need to keep things somewhat identifiable and PP needs to sell models so the Wills can get paid. However, there are a couple areas where I feel a little more flexibility could go a long way.

First, cavalry models are in a bit of a tricky place because if you want to do a mount swap, unless you can find another PP model that represents what you want, you’re pretty much immediately running afoul of the 50% rule because the mount is generally more than 50% of the volume of the model by itself. So, no Owlbear cavalry for you, even though a Man-O-War Drakhun riding an Owlbear into battle would literally be the coolest thing ever. Perhaps either exempting cavalry models from the 50% rule completely, or saying that cavalry only have to be 25% PP parts could unleash some creative freedom?

Second, what if we allowed an exception for a small portion of a player’s army? Say that at least 90% of your army must follow the conversion rules, but if you have a sufficiently badass idea for a cool centerpiece model, go nuts.

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My conversion strategy

While clearly, as evidenced by the BAHI Europe brouhaha, TOs have some latitude to say that a cool-ass conversion that is only 49% Privateer Press parts is kosher at their tournament, the fact that the initial reaction to any cool conversion is “but is it tournament legal?” creates a bit of a stifling atmosphere for those of us who like to take out a jeweler’s saw and ruin multiple perfectly good models in a quixotic attempt to make one cool looking model.

7. No Quarter Online?

With the demise of No Quarter Prime after only six issues, there is a void that is going to need to be filled. NQP was supposed to be a one stop shop for fluff, hobby content, new IKRPG rules, etc. Now that it’s gone, that stuff has to go somewhere.

Losing the physical magazine kind of sucks. However, this is also an opportunity. The internet allows for things to be categorized and tagged a differently than a dead tree format. You could have all the hobby articles in one place, or all the scenarios that have a more interesting narrative element to them than standing in random circles to win, or create a database of canonical alternative paint schemes for inspiration.

And, while we’re at it, maybe run a few contests to engage the hobby community? The Company of Iron contest was fun; something like that in the online replacement for NQP once in a while might be nice?

8. Riot Quest!

At the last Lock & Load keynote, we were treated to a video for an upcoming product called “Riot Quest.” Said video was kind of cheesy and went over like a wet fart, which means it’s probably the worst thing to happen at an L&L keynote since, well, 2016.

However, cheesy video aside, we did spot some pretty cool art near the end, like what looked like Boomhowler with a gatling gun and some interesting characters. Unfortunately, the video left us with more questions than answers. Questions like “what is Riot Quest,” and “so, what’s the difference between this and Necromunda?”

I think for the longevity of both Warmachine and Privateer Press, it would be great if PP had some more diversified revenue streams. Kaiju isn’t my jam so I’m not really interested in MonPoc, but I really hope it is successful, if only because I want PP to be around for a while and I want them to have products that appeal to people other than the hardcore Warmachine tournament crowd. Same goes for Riot Quest — I find it intriguing, and even if it ends up not being my thing, I really hope it is successful.

Also, Riot Quest.

 

Warhammer School Clubs, Part 1: The Unboxening

The following article was written by a friend who works as an Early Child Educator in a before and after school program. It is about his participation in the Warhammer School Clubs program, a program by Games Workshop intended to promote the hobby within schools. The intention is for this to be part one in a series taking the program from the box to week six and beyond. I welcome his contributions, and hope to see more from him in the future.

I’ve been in the hobby for a few years now, and as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) working with children from ages 8 to 12, I’ve experimented with bringing the hobby into the classroom.  Most of these attempts have been small, such as getting plastic army men from the dollar store and painting them with craft paint. The challenges of running a program on a limited budget meant that the full hobby experience was out of reach for the children in my group unless I dump my own personal income into the project.  

In walks Games Workshop. In August 2018, Games Workshop (GW) launched in North America the Warhammer School Clubs program. This program offered official support to educators from GW in developing the hobby with young people in school and after school youth programs. I was able to have the the manager of our local GW store into our program, and do a simple painting tutorial with a group of our children. While talking with him, he told me about the launch of the School Clubs program. At the beginning of the school year I contacted GW HQ and I was accepted into the program.  

Unboxing

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A good thing these “not children’s products” are going to this school…

The process of signing up for the Warhammer School Program was fairly simple. I emailed Travis, the director of the school program at warhammer.schoolclub@gwplc.com, and he sent me a form to fill out. You need to have an adult be prepared to be the sponsor of the club, and your school or program needs to have a website, location, and employee ID, but other than that, there weren’t any invasive questions.

One piece of advice is to inform your school that the package is coming — Games Workshop sent me the box addressed to me personally, and not the program that I work with. Since our program is run out of the school, the package was delivered to the main office, who didn’t recognize my name, and were unsure what to do with a big package with the words “NOT CHILDREN’S PRODUCTS” written on the side. Also it arrived the same week that prominent American politicians were receiving mail bombs, which gave them cause for concern about this random box out of Texas was coming. They were prepared to send it back, but the receptionists at the desk called GW and it was eventually found its way to our office in the afterschool program.

Altogether, I signed up on thursday, was approved by Friday and received the package on Monday the following week. Considering it was a package coming from Texas to Winnipeg, I thought it was going to be a much longer wait, so I really give credit to GW North America for the quick turnaround.  

And what was in the box?  Well….

Lit

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For both 40K and Age of Sigmar there came a collection of short stories and a “Getting started with…” magazine.

The 40k novel is Crusade + Other Stories which includes 12 short stories as well as the novella Crusade.  The AoS novel is Hammerhal & Other Stories, which includes 7 short stories as well as the Novella Hammerhal.  Although I haven’t done a deep dive into the novels yet, just from the look at it I think they may be a bit intimidating for all but the more accomplished young reader.  I can only assume that the upcoming Warhammer Adventures Series  would be a better replacement for young people when they come out.

The magazines each come with a miniature attached, and are really thorough when it comes to an introduction to the series and games.  Although I plan on writing more on some of the issues that I foresee arising, I see myself more likely to use the AoS magazine as a free tool for the children to pick up and read, while the 40K magazine something I’m more likely to be selective and photocopy pages out of.

Paints and Brushes

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The set came with the Citadel Base Paint Set, The Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Paint & Tool Set, and two packs of 3 size S base Brushes (interesting to note, the invoice listed three sets of brushes, but only two where in the package. But I’m not complaining).

The Citadel Base paint set includes:

  • S Base brush
  • Leadbelcher
  • Macragge Blue
  • Waaagh! Flesh
  • Bugman’s Glow
  • Mephiston Red
  • Mournfang Brown
  • Abaddon Black
  • Ceramite White
  • Zandri Dust
  • Averland Sunset
  • Balthasar Gold

The Warhammer: Age of Sigmar Paint & Tool Set includes:

  • Clippers
  • Mouldline remover
  • S Base Brush
  • Retributor Armour
  • Abaddon Black
  • Armageddon Dust
  • Kantor Blue
  • Reikland Fleshshade
  • White Scar
  • Leadbelcher
  • Mournfang Brown
  • Celestra Grey
  • Khorne Red
  • Nighthaunt Gloom
  • Rakarth Flesh
  • Bugman’s Glow

This is a really good spread of different paints – there’s only three that overlap in the two sets, and the AoS set includes some of the newer ‘ghostly’ technical paints.  

The only thing that is noticeable is that there isn’t any paint that is a primer. I think within the books they intend you to use Abaddon Black as a ‘undercoat’ but I’m skeptical on how will it will act as a primer in the long run.

Starter Sets

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The school club comes with two starter sets: the Storm Strike starter from AoS and the First Strike set from 40K. Each come with about 15 miniatures each. They are all push fit, which is great for starting off with. In my classroom I have around 30 children, and although I don’t anticipate them all wanting to participate, having one miniature for each of them to explore and paint is a big help.  

The Storm Strike set comes with two factions, the Stormcast Eternals and the Nighthaunts. The Stormcast Eternals come with  3 Castigators, a loyal Gryph-hound and 3 Sequitors, while the Nighthaunts come with 4 Glaivewraith Stalkers and Myrmourn Banshees. It also comes with a play mat, dice, ruler, and rulebook. The box insert also flips around to be a simple piece of terrain.

On the 40K side,  First Strike comes with 15 push fit miniatures with the Ultramarines being pitted against the Death Guard, and well as the double-sided gaming mat, dice and measuring ruler, and rule book. With the Ultramarines, you get 3 Primaris Intercessors and 3 Primaris Reivers, while the death guard you get 3 Plague Marines and 6 Poxwalkers.

Just looking at the sprues, I feel like the 40K figures are much better made and have a thicker fell to them, while the AoS figures are a thinner plastic. Both have amazing detail and I’m really looking forward to putting them together with the children.

I can’t comment on the makeup of the lists, as I’m not really into Warhammer, but I’ve seen people comment that when it comes to the time to play these forces need more models need some reinforcements to play the game in any realistic way, but we’ll see about that at a later time.

Curriculum books

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The two curriculum books are the real stars of the show.  Book One is designed to be the things the adult organizer (called the “coach”) need to understand and go through before organizing as a club.  The second is a total outline of a 6 week curriculum starting with first organizing the club to building and playing Warhammer games.

I’m going to do a deeper dive into the curriculum books at a later time, but GW really has put together a focused set of learning objectives together. While their intent is to put together an afterschool or lunchtime “club”, it’s easily adaptable to teaching in a afterschool program.  There’s a lot of different roles that the children are asked to step into and it really works towards a student led learning experience.

Conclusion

GW is the juggernaut in tabletop wargaming, and it is because of this status they are able to put together a program like this. They are unique that they have the resources to send around $300 worth of product to schools and afterschool organizations for free. It’s a big show of trust to the community that they would allow wargaming educators and those interested into this without any guarantees. Of course, some maybe cynical and say that this is just an attempt to make a sales pitch to younger consumers. But if we are interested in building tabletop wargaming and miniature painting, getting young people involved and excited is the first step, and we should try and be supportive of their introduction into the hobby.

Polishing a turd: The PZL.23 Karas

So, I’ve been dipping my toe a little bit into other forms of hobbying as of late. Aside from a couple gundam kits that I’ve bashed out, I decided to try my hand at model airplane building, partly to try something new and partly because it’s what all the cool kids at the IPMS were doing. So, with the idea of doing a quick weekend project to practice before I start on an $80 kit, I pulled out a box off the shelf and…

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Oh, dear.

The kit

The PZL.23 Karas is one of the more esoteric aircraft of World War II. A Polish single-engined ground attack plane, it was roughly equivalent to the Fairey Battle or the Breda Ba.65 in that it was a very advanced aircraft for its day, but it was a little outdated by the time the war rolled around and had been outpaced by more modern aircraft. Still, in the hands of the Polish, it put up what resistance it could against the German war machine. Notably, it was a PZL.23B which made the first bombing raid of the war within German territory, and captured examples would go on to be used in small numbers by the Romanians as well as in second-line duties with the Bulgarians.

As the title alludes to, this kit is kind of a turd by modern standards. Looking at Scalemates, I can see that this was a 1980s rebox of a kit originally produced in 1964. There are only about twenty parts and they are made from a cheap, crappy plastic. It has raised panel lines, and there are a lot of areas where details are extremely lacking. The interior detail is nonexistent, with only three seats (and no locating tabs to know where to put them), and no dashboards, controls, etc. Rivet counters could probably find dozens of inaccuracies from the profile of the plane to the number of panel lines; I know I inadvertently found some when I was looking up paint schemes. Fortunately, I’m not a rivet counter, so I don’t care.

And, just to add insult to injury, the instructions were in Polish. Because of course they were.

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Okay, got it

My approach

I’ve picked up a lot of techniques for model aircraft by hanging around the local IPMS crew. However, while I knew I could do research and suss out the internet arguments of pre-shading versus black-basing and which one is the superior, more realistic technique that serious modellers use, part of me wanted to remain willfully ignorant of this for a couple reasons. First, this was just a practice piece for another project and the kit was so crappy that I knew this wasn’t going to be a masterpiece regardless. Second, I wanted to see what I could apply with my figure painting techniques to the art of scale aircraft building. I felt like instead of just copying what everyone else was doing and doing a bit worse of a job on it, I could go into it without any preconceived notions and see how it turns out.

So, this is in some ways an experimental piece – give a figure guy a model plane and see what happens. Worst case scenario, you’re only out the two bucks that this turd of a kit cost.

Assembly

While the kit may have not been the greatest, there were a couple things which were working in my favour. The main wing was moulded in two pieces – an upper and a lower piece which both ran the entire span of both wings. The upper mated to the fuselage, which had a cutout on the bottom for these parts to go together. This meant that alignment wouldn’t be too much of an issue; it would be hard for me to mess up the dihedral with how the kit was engineered. Additionally, this plane has no visible struts and the landing gear is fixed with a big, thick fairing, so there isn’t going to be any futzing around with spindly little landing gear legs and worrying about getting them at the correct angle, not to mention painting all the details inside the landing gear bays.

I managed to get it all together in one evening while consuming a copious amount of beer (though not so much that I would mess up the kit even worse than it was messed up coming out of the factoty or stab myself with an x-acto knife), though I left the propeller able to spin for now to make painting the cowling easier. It took a couple layers of apply and sanding milliput to fill seams and sculpt something a fairing between the horizontal stabilizer and the fuselage. Even after the second layer, it wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough for government work and I was getting antsy to start painting.

Priming

As mentioned, I’m a figure guy. So, that means I’m relatively ignorant of the eternal internet struggle between pre-shaders and black-basers, and firmly on the side of a good zenithal prime. So, I loaded up my Patriot 105 with some Stynylrez black and sprayed the entire model down, getting a nice coat on both the top and the bottom. From there, I cleaned out my airbrush and pulled out the Stynylrez white and fired from above and from the front. I focused on parts that are in direct sunlight and the leading edge of the wings, letting the primer fade into black on the underside and near the trailing edges of the wings and control surfaces.

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Primed with Stynylrez black…

This technique does two things. First, it helps me understand where the highlights and shadows should be on a model, which is critical in figure painting. An airbrush loaded with white primer coming in from above actually does a decent job of representing the sun’s rays landing on the model and illuminating the highlights while avoiding the shadows. Second, it preshades it for you, which can be useful in later steps. This can be done roughly with a black and a white rattle can as well, though I prefer the airbrush for the control and ease of use in my small apartment. Personally, I tend to push things a little more towards the white side than most people when I do a zenithal because I figure it’s easier to darken something later than lighten it.

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…and followed up with white from above

 

Paint time!

Okay, here’s where I can really polish this turd. I sprayed the underside with a more or less uniform layer of Vallejo Light Sea Grey then masked it off. To be honest, there isn’t that much interesting on the underside, just that light sea grey and some mottling, so I’ll focus the rest of this article on the upper surfaces. Anyways, according to my sources, the closest colour to what these things were actually painted in in Polish service is Vallejo Green Brown. So, I loaded my airbrush up with… a mixture of P3 Coal Black and Reaper MSP Pure Black?

Sure.

Fear not, there is a method to my madness. With an airbrush, it’s easiest to work from your darkest shadow to the highest highlight, as we did with our zenithal prime. And when it comes to painting green, you don’t want to shade it with just black and white. You want cool shadows and warm highlights, so you want to have it move towards the blue end of the spectrum in addition to getting darker in the shadows, and towards the yellow end of the spectrum in addition to getting lighter in the highlights. And Coal Black is this wonderful blue-green black colour that is darker and cooler than most greens and makes an excellent shadow colour, among many other uses.

So, I mixed up a mixture of mostly Coal Black with a bit of Pure Black to darken it up a little (because I’m all about exact mixtures), making sure to get it on the underside and in all the shadowed areas where there was more black than white primer.

Next, I washed out the airbrush and loaded it up with the Vallejo Green Brown which would be my base colour. Similar to when I did the white on the zenithal prime, I sprayed mainly from above and in the areas that wouldn’t be shadowed, painting most of the plane in this colour but leaving some shadowed areas. Finally, I added some yellow to the base colour and added some highlights. The highlights were focused in a few places — near the leading edges of the wings and stabilizers, along the top of the fuselage, and in an area on the side to emphasize the transition from the convex surface of the round fuselage to the concave transition into the upper cockpit area. I also sprayed some into the middle of the panels, particularly on the wings, in order to create a bit of modulation.

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Airbrushed the top; note the colours used in the background.

That was all well and good, but I kind of wanted to shade the panel lines as well. And, since I’m a figure guy, what do I immediately reach for when it’s time to shade something?

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Good old liquid talent…

That’s right, GW’s washes, or shades as they call them. But we aren’t going to brush them on because that would leave so much nasty coffee staining. We’re going to airbrush it.

I made myself a mixture of Athonian Camoshade, which is their olive drab sort of wash, and a bit of Nuln Oil to darken it (again, very scientific and exact proportions) in the cup of my Badger Krome and got to spraying. When spraying these washes, a very light touch on the trigger is very important – you want just enough that it will build up in the recesses and tint the surrounding area, but not spray enough over the model that it will start beading and coffee staining. If you aren’t confident in your trigger control, this may be a very good time to try out a trigger stop. I sprayed some of this in a random, mottled pattern to add a little bit of visual interest to the model. Then, I followed up by tracing some of the panel lines, which reinforced the modulation and shaded the panel lines, giving me what I thought was a nice effect.

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Addition of the shade

At some point, I decided that I should do something creative with the cockpit. Between the missing clear piece and the complete lack of any interior detail, this is where an elite scale modeller would either scratchbuild a bunch of tiny parts or spend a lot of money on aftermarket pieces to bling it out. I am not an elite scale modeller. I was missing a clear piece, and given the amount of detail on the average 1960s era Polish model kits, I knew if I painted over the cockpit, you wouldn’t be missing much.

So, my idea was to adapt a technique I used on figures for painting gemstones to do an opaque cockpit. I started by spraying the entire thing in a blue-black. From there, I used the edge of a business card as a mask and sprayed some lighter, more saturated blues into one of the lower corners of each pane of glass. I followed that up with an even lighter blue, so I had a transition from a dark blue at the top into a light blue at the bottom where the light would filter out of the cockpit.

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Cockpit airbrushed, will follow up with a brush

Details and Weathering

There were some details remaining to be picked out with the brush. First was adding some glints of light to the top area of the windows, opposite the lighter area, just to kick up the artistic glass effect. This was done with some sky blue and some P3 frostbite, and as the windows were flat, I made the glints corner-shaped.

From there, the engine, exhaust pipes, propellors, canopy framing, etc., were all done with a brush. And when it got time to apply markings, because I can’t do things the easy way, I decided that instead of using the decals in the kit, I would bust out my trusty Raphael 8404 and brush paint those on, doing such detailed consultation of reference material as funding the first result on google image search that looked cool and easy to paint and running with it. I used panel lines for reference where I could to make sure that my markings somewhat approximated the proper scale and made sure to keep a steady hand. Most importantly, I double checked before putting down the red on the checkerboard roundels, because there is nothing worse than finishing a Polish roundel only to find that you’ve accidentally rotated it 90 degrees and now it’s all wrong. Also, I didn’t go all the way to white in the checkerboard patterns — a light grey is more than sufficient to make things read as white in this context, and it’s not as chalky and hard to apply as a pure white.

For weathering, it was important to keep it subtle. I did a little bit of sponge chipping in two layers; the first layer being some of the base colour mixed with white, and the second layer being some sort of midtone metallic silver. In this case, when you’re doing chipping, you need to think where to place your chips. And this is more than just where to cover your mistakes. Chipping on a plane is going to be concentrated in a few areas. It’s going to be on leading edges, on the front and underside of the cowling, and on the areas where the pilots are likely to step on as they climb into the plane. Weathering should tell a story, and these are the areas that are going to get beaten up the most.

Finally, I threw on a little Typhus Corrosion to represent dirt on the wheels and the spats, some light dry pigments to represent dust on the tires and landing gear, and some black dry pigment around and leading back from the exhaust pipe to represent soot. And with that, I was ready to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labour because I had turned this old kit into something that didn’t look half bad, at least not from a distance.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a detailed representation of a PZL 23A Karas, don’t buy this kit. In fact, I think at $2, I probably overpaid. There is a Heller version of this plane in 1/72nd scale that has been reboxed a few times which is less than 50 years old and not made behind the Iron Curtain, so I would assume it would have to be better than this thing.

However, while the detail is lacking in some areas and there are some obvious inaccuracies that I was too lazy to fix, overall, I’m not dissatisfied with how it turned out. It’s not a masterpiece, and it’s not meant to be. It’s a cheap, simple kit, painted up to look nice from about three feet away – which is the distance from which it will be looked at that 99% of the time when it’s not being torn apart by a nitpicky IPMS judge. So, I would say that my efforts to apply figure painting techniques to scale model aircraft were mostly successful. I’m now feeling more confident in tackling the 109B I have in my stash… that is, I was until I saw the photoetch.

Bonus Content: Owlbear!

As I wrapped this thing up at a build day, I also worked on a quick speedpaint on a project a little closer to my roots: a Reaper Bones Owlbear in 30mm scale, with plenty of inks, washes and dry brushing to get it to a decent tabletop standard quickly. An Owlbear is exactly what it sounds like, and for the benefit of your sanity, try not to think of show that may have came to be. I’m using it for my Necromunda gang to represent a Khimerix, becuase when someone says “horrific gene-spliced abomination with sharp claws and a nasty bite,” I think Owlbear.

I call him Owl Dirty Bastard, leader of the Hoot Tang Clan.

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Reflections on 100 years of Remembrance

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the day the guns fell silent and the first world war finally came to an end. I’ve spent some time reflecting on this over the past week or so, and figured given the gravity and importance of this event, it would be appropriate to take a break from your regularly scheduled programming about painting tiny dollies and get serious for a moment, and share in some of those reflections.

What does it mean to remember?

There are, of course, plenty of officially sanctioned Remembrance Day ceremonies that Canadians attend or watch on television in great numbers. Poppies start appearing on jackets at the start of November, and a great number of us take part in rituals such as the moment of silence. But, how many of us go deeper and truly reflect on the horrors of war?

Now, this is something that I’m basing on little more than fuzzy childhood memories so I could be way off base, but I feel like remembrance has changed over the years. Growing up, I felt that Remembrance Day programming in the schools really emphasized the horrors of war, and why it should be avoided. I remember watching films and presentations on the horrors of World War I, on the after-effects of war, and on the campaign to ban land mines and cluster bombs which go on killing long after the war is over. The prevailing attitude was one of “never again” – that war was such a tragedy that it should never be entered into without much consideration.

Somewhere along the line, though, I feel like things changed. In the post-9/11 days, when Canadian troops were in Afghanistan and the US invaded Iraq, yellow ribbons and “Support the Troops” signs began appearing everywhere. This was tied to a culture of militarism; by loudly bleating clichés like “Support the Troops,” politicians could avoid hard questions about the war they had built on a foundation of lies. Those who opposed the war were told to shut up and be respectful of those fighting for our freedoms.

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Remember this?

Sadly, I think that between the passing of most of the veterans from the wars of the first half of the century and the uptick in militarism as a part of the “war on terror,” we may have lost focus on what it really means to remember.

What were we fighting for?

This is a difficult question to ask. When we are all honouring what is seen as a noble sacrifice, questioning why all those young men had to die can be difficult. We don’t want to ask these questions because we are afraid of what the answer may be.

Make no mistake, World War I was little more than a pointless slaughter, made possible by feckless politicians who would rather send millions of young men to their deaths in the hell of the trenches than do the honorable thing and sort out their differences themselves. This bloodbath dragged on for four long years, only finally being ended when the German people, with their army on the ropes and suffering from the effects of a four year long naval blockade, had enough. Sailors in the North Sea fleet chose to mutiny rather than be sacrificed to the pride of their Admirals, and the people of Germany rose up against war and against the monarchy, and within two weeks the war was ended. The Russian workers and peasants had, of course, taken matters into their own hands a year earlier, and the French military had their fair share of mutinies as well, not to mention the Christmas Truce of 1914 when soldiers on both sides took a day off from killing each other.

Of course, we don’t learn about those little details like how it was mass desertion among the soldiers and sailors and revolution among the working classes that finally ended the war. The true tragedy is that the entire war was avoidable in the first place. However, once it got going, politicians were able to whip up their populations into a nationalist frenzy, dooming them to four long years of bloodshed and hardship.

And, let us critically examine our national mythology surrounding Vimy Ridge. With the centenary of the battle last year, there was a lot of discussion about how that was the moment that Canada truly came of age. First, I’m not sure what exactly changed that made Canada a real country just because thousands of our boys died and thousands of their boys died fighting over a piece of land in France. Secondly, what does it say about us that we see our coming of age as a nation as not the passing a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or developing a compassionate welfare state, or acts of reconciliation with our long-suffering indigenous population, or a history of welcoming refugees – things that actually did have or would have a concrete and positive effect on our freedoms – but a bunch of Canadians and Germans killing each other?

Even World War II, which is about as clear-cut of a case of good guys versus bad guys as there is, has some complicated history around it. It was only a few months prior to the war that Canada turned away a boatload of Jewish refugees, with one high-level government official remarking that “none is too many” when asked how many Canada should take in. Most were sent back to continental Europe, where 254 of them would be killed in the Holocaust. Those who fought against fascism in Spain were considered “politically unreliable” and “premature anti-fascists” by the Canadian government, many of whom ended up harassed by the RCMP and prohibited from serving during WW2. To this day, they are conspicuously absent from any sanctioned remembrance ceremonies. Finally, the bad guys were given a lot of support by the business community and the media in the run-up to the second world war, as a certain section of the ruling class felt that fascism was a much preferred alternative to socialism which could threaten their profits.

And let us not forget how the veterans themselves were treated when they returned home. Many soldiers were left with physical and mental scars that left them unable to find work or carry on with a normal life. Others would return to poverty and unemployment, as we had an economic system that threw them to the curb as soon as they were no longer needed in the trenches.

All of this meant that, seemingly paradoxically, a lot of the anti-war sentiment of the 1920s and 1930s came from veterans who were scarred by their experiences in the trenches. They knew firsthand the horrors of war and were determined to make sure it didn’t happen again. People like the late Harry Patch, the last British survivor of WWI, and WW2 RAF airman Harry Leslie Smith have continued to speak out against war and militarism past the age of 90.

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What does it mean today?

As we move into 2018, I see the world creeping once more into fascism. I don’t use that word lightly, but we have an ascendant far right playing on people’s fears to stir up hatred and reshape politics in an ugly manner. We see politicians promoting racist, anti-immigrant agendas and winning elections. We see far right figures coming out into the open and building bases of support. And we see anti-semitism, previously confined to dark corners of the internet, coming back into the open. Just a couple weeks ago, a 97 year old Holocaust survivor, among 10 others, was gunned down at a synagogue just because they were Jewish and because their synagogue supported immigrants and refugees. Just think about that for a moment and how absolutely horrible and twisted that is.

We also have a political and business elite all too happy to acquiesce to far-right demagogues – witness the recent CBC piece on how the election of a more or less fascist government in Brazil will positively affect the business environment for Canadian mining companies, and compare that to the support for Hitler and Mussolini by the newspapers and the business class in the 1930s.

If we truly want to remember those who fell fighting the fascist powers in World War II, let us commit to quenching these movements based on fear and hatred before we end up face to face with the horrific brutality of fascism and war.

Final Thoughts

I’m not a pacifist, but history has shown us that the business and political elite of every country is all too willing to throw away the lives of the rest of us. As we reflect on war and sacrifice and honour our veterans, we also must reflect on and understand the historical context behind the wars that produce veterans and war dead in the first place. If we fail to do so, if we fail to understand the true history of these wars, if we fail to question cultures of militarism, and if we fail to stop a second coming of fascism, then we might as well forget.

Terrain time! Wooden crates and barrels

As someone who appreciates the aesthetic qualities of wargaming, I like 3D terrain, or as non-Warmachine players like to call it, terrain. So, in order to celebrate the completion of my huge Necromunda terrain project, I decided to do the logical thing and buy some more terrain. I saw a pack of barrels and crates from Micro Art Studios for the game Wolsung, and thought that they would be perfect for walls in Warmachine.

Of course, that means I had to paint them. A little while ago, I wrote an article on how to paint on woodgrain textures onto flat pieces of plastic. That’s all well and good, but sometimes the sculptor has done the work for you and sculpted in some texture. What do we do then?

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This. Do this.

The walls

I picked up the five pack, which came with five pieces for a bit under $40 CAD. Three are the pieces are long and wall-shaped, while two of the pieces are more square. They’re all pretty good sizes for a game of Warmachine, though you may want to make a bigger wall by lining up a wall shaped piece and a square piece. They come in a hard, heavy resin which seems to be pretty good quality, and there aren’t many mold lines to speak of. It may be a touch on the expensive side if you aren’t a total terrainiac, but in terms of detail and quality/sharpness of the cast, you get what you pay for.

Painting – letting the sculptor do the work

If you remember in my previous wood painting article, I talked a lot about sketching in the value first and using semi-transparent paints to add the colour after. This is the same thing, but since the woodgrain is already sculpted in, we can take advantage of that to make it super easy.

For this project, I started by priming it with white, then spraying it all over with P3’s Armor Wash, which is a lot closer to a true black than something like GW’s Nuln Oil. I sprayed on a heavy coat, because I wanted to get it in all the recesses and shadows. I suppose it also may have worked to just prime black, but I wanted to try it this way.

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Primed and washed

Next, I took out my trusty big makeup brush and some titanium white artist heavy body acrylic paint. There are a few different brands out there, but you can get this from art stores. It excels in this application for a couple reasons. First, titanium white is the whitest white you can get, so if you want coverage, it’s a good start. Second, unthinned straight out of the tube it has a pretty thick consistency, perhaps not quite as thick as Citadel’s dry paints, but pretty good for dry-brushing.

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Dry-brushed with titanium white

So, we’re going to dry-brush the heck out of it. Like Bob Ross cleaning his brush, you want to really go at it. In doing so, it’s good to go across the grain and allow the brush to catch on the ridges. When you’re done, you should have a pretty good value sketch in — dark recesses and shadows, and white highlights and ridges. And we did all that without using any details or special techniques, we just sloppily slapped some wash on and hit it with a giant dry-brush.

Adding colour

Now, before we want to go all out on applying our wood tone, let’s think for a moment about shadow and light and our good friend colour theory. We want to shade some brown pieces of wood, so what’s the perfect colour for that? Well, blue contrasts warm browns quite nicely and is a cool colour, so load up your airbrush with some Drakenhof Nightshade or your favourite blue wash and spray it into the shadows and the bottoms of the barrels; if you’ve mounted them on pill bottles, it’s easy to do sort of a reverse zentithal with your airbrush.

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Oooh, blue shadows… it looks cool and ghostly now

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Hit with the Inktense Wood

With that dry, it’s time for the main attraction. Get a brown ink and load it up into your airbrush and spray. I like to use Scale75’s Inktense Wood ink for this. Use your trigger to control the spray so you don’t overwhelm it, and just lay in the colour as light or as dark as you want until you’re happy. Don’t pull back all the way; spraying at a high pressure, just pulling it back a little bit will allow you to tint the barrels the exact shade you want. Let it dry for a while, as Scale75 is a little notorious for taking longer than other brands of miniature paint to dry.

 

Now, we have something pretty good, but it’s got a lot of shine to it. Don’t despair though, we can fix that with our good friend Agrax Earthshade. A quick spray of that will add a little more depth to the recesses and knock the shine right out.

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Sprayed with Agrax

This terrain also has a lot of burlap sacks leaning up against the barrels. We could spend a lot of time worrying about this, but I’ve got a solution here as well. Simply grab a stiff brush and do something in between a regular brush and a dry brush to apply a very light grey (I used Reaper #09090 Misty Grey) to all the ridges of the burlap but leaving the texture readily apparent. Follow that up by spraying with a brown wash overtop.

With that done, there’s just a few little details to pick out — metal barrel bands and ropes, and from there, it’s just a matter of varnishing it and it’s ready for the tabletop.

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Details and burlap sacks done

Conclusion

With this, we have some pretty nice terrain that didn’t take that much skill or effort to do. By letting the sculpt do most of the work and almost exclusively using inks, washes, and dry-brushing, the only kind of tricky part to this is maintaining trigger control on your airbrush with the thin inks and washes, but that’s something you should probably be learning anyways.

Ruin: The Overspray is the OSL

When I first started miniature painting, there were two techniques that seemed like elite level god tier things that are the difference between someone who is okay at miniature painting and a true master. One is non-metallic metal, and the other is Object Source Lighting, or OSL. I think it is telling that both of these are about doing tricky things with light, but I digress.

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Ruin, from Warmachine

OSL in particular sounds a over the top. Basically, it is painting the miniature such that if you have a glowing part of the model like a lightstaber or a glowing sword, you paint the glow of the light onto other areas of the model. For example, if you’re painting Darth Vader, in order to sell the glow of the lightsaber, you may want to place some red glow onto his cape where the light from the lightsaber is hitting and reflecting off his black cape.

 

Now, before we get too deep into it, let’s discuss some of the theory behind this to avoid some common mistakes. First, and let us just get out of the way first, this is the sort of technique where realism takes a back seat to artistic license. For something to really light up a model in the way we commonly do with OSL and bathe it in coloured light, it needs to be almost unrealistically bright. Which, I suppose isn’t a big deal when we’re talking about glowing swords and lightsabers, but it is something to keep in mind. We’re trying to sell an effect, not necessarily be super realistic here.

Secondly, we need to think about the ambient lighting as well. In bright sunlight, any light emanating from a glowing thing is going to be overwhelmed by the ambient light of the sun. However, if we’re on a moonless night, then the object in question is going to be the only source of light and we’re going to have strong OSL. Consider, for example, the below pictures of Aayla Secura and Darth Vader. Aayla is outside in daylight, so there is little to no OSL, while Darth Vader is in the dark and we can see the glow on his cape and hand.

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We also need to think of the relative strength of the source of the light, the glow, and the rest of the model. When you’re doing OSL, the brightest spot should always be the source of the light. For coloured light, this could almost go to white. Next should be the glow, then finally, the rest of the model not basked in the glow of your glowing object. This means that you need to make sure you have somewhere to go in your colour scheme. OSL works really well on dark colour schemes like Darth Vader; for white models like Retribution warjacks, it can be tricky to get the glow brighter than the rest of the model because you’re trying to make something that is brighter than white. Which is hard.

Finally, light tends to emit from objects in a straight line. It can diffuse a little around corners, but when you’re placing your glow effect, you need to be careful that the places that are shadowed from the light emanating from your glowing object are in shadow.

Now, if only we had some sort of device that can shoot paint out from a point and in a straight line…

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Oh. Right.

Ruin and Airbrush OSL

Getting back to this model for a little bit, Ruin is the product of a bunch of Khador experimentation with ancient Orgoth relics, so it is a warjack powered by a mixture of coal and the souls of the dead. While the default sculpt is pretty cool, I decided I wanted to kick mine up a notch by adding a glowing patch of swirling souls to the right shoulder, as well as a some poor Cygnar long gunner on the base and a wisp representing his soul being sucked out of his body and into the shield.

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Pictured: dead swan

With the model painted and weathered in largely the same scheme as my Grolar and the rest of my army, and after dropping it off my desk and having to pin it back together, it was time to hit it with the OSL. As this is a robit chock-full of evil magic, I wanted to put in a lot of glow effects. The sculpt had a number of runes carved into it, which I wanted to make glowing, as well as the shield, soul, shoulder, and visor.

IMG_0968For the soul and the shoulder, I did paint them beforehand, trying out GW’s new ghost technical paint, the Hexwraith Flame, over a near-white base. It kind of worked, though you do need to highlight this to get the proper effect, either with layering or dry brushing. However, for the runes, all I did was drop some white paint into the rune as an undercoat.

From there, we’re going to mix up a glaze in our glow colour and drop it into an airbrush, thinning it enough to increase the transparency. The only challenge here is trigger control; you may want to practice on something else first, but you want to be able to pull back just enough to barely tint the target. Once you start seeing the colour starting to change, you can simply stay on target until it you get the effect you want. Finally, it is worth experimenting with both inks and paints until you get the colour and consistency that works for you.

IMG_0969For things like the runes and the visor, simply point and shoot. The paint hitting the . Since we’ve undercoated the source of the light with white, we will naturally get the effect we want — brightest at the source of the light, and duller in the areas of the glow.

When it comes to larger objects like the wisp of souls, what we can do is use the fact that an airbrush shoots paint in a straight line emanating from a point to our advantage. Simply fire at such an angle as though the paint is coming out roughly from the light source and hitting the model. This will lay the glow in where it would naturally fall.

And that’s about it. You may need to go back and reinforce some of the light sources with a little white, or play around with some washes overtop, but a few simple airbrush tricks can get you a passable OSL in no time at all that makes you look to the untrained eye like an elite god-tier painter.

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The importance of hobby cross-pollination

Whether I’m painting my miniatures or slaving away at the numbers factory, I like to have a podcast on in the background to keep me focused and prevent myself from being left alone with my thoughts. One of the newer ones in my feed is a scale model podcast aptly, if not particularly creatively, named the Scale Model Podcast. In the most recent episodes, he had Jon Bius as a guest. During their conversation, Jon discussed his experiences with starting out building almost exclusively aircraft and then moving into non-traditional subjects such as Gundam and Warhammer models. That got me thinking a little more about what I like to call hobby cross-pollination; that is, looking for the common ground between similar but disparate hobby communities.

Hobby groups

When I step back, look around, and ask myself “who makes little versions of things out of plastic,” I generally see a few disparate hobby groups. First, there are what I like to call the traditional scale modellers – the often-greying folks who make up groups like the IPMS and who build mainly historical subjects such as cars, tanks and military aircraft. There are the gundam guys, who are younger and into anime and build mecha models from their favourite Japanese cartoons. You have wargamers who build and (hopefully) paint their armies, and figure painters who are often ex-wargamers that at some point discovered they were bad at wargames. There are also model railroaders, toy soldier collectors, whoever keeps buying those Space:1999 kits, and likely some others that I don’t even know about.

The catch is that all too often, these people have their own groups and rarely talk to each other. The gunpla guys have their own clubs, as do the traditional scale modellers and miniature painters. They also all tend to do things just a little differently; for example, armour modellers do great weathering and add lots of little photoetch bits, while figure painters tend to focus more on rendering light and shadow in their pieces. Traditionalists may turn their noses up at models that look too “cartoony” for their tastes, while the gundam guys literally make giant robots from a cartoon. Figure painters use almost exclusively acrylics, while people who work in other genres use a lot smellier and worse tasting paints.

There is just so much that these groups can learn from each other that it’s a shame that they tend to self-segregate and these unique skills don’t get spread around. There are plenty of techniques that I picked up from IPMS members that I use to weather my big stompy robots. Also, there is just a certain cool factor in seeing what each other is doing; when all you see is space marines, a finely detailed Spitfire is a breath of fresh air.

Additionally, some of these groups can use either a bit of fresh blood or some old hands to teach some tricks. One of the perhaps slightly morbid things that Jon and Stuart discussed on the podcast was that given the remaining life expectancy of the average IPMS member, the industry that supports their hobby may struggle in coming decades as their customers literally start dying off. Some people get a little melodramatic about it and start wondering if their hobby and industry is dying. However, if you step back from your Tamiyas and Hasegawas for a moment, you will see that Bandai sells millions of Gundam kits a year and Games Workshop is the best-performing company on the London Stock Exchange. Maybe modelling isn’t dying; rather, younger modellers are just not as interested in cars made 30 years before they were born and military vehicles from a war that ended 75 years ago. But those younger modellers are still interested in the techniques they can learn from the old guys and their decades of experience in the hobby.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there are organizations that cater to all of these groups as they all have their own specialized interests. A lecture on the changes in the rivet patterns on the glacis plate of the Panzer IV between the early-war and late-war variants is something that is going to be very interesting and valuable for only one of those groups, and perhaps the gunpla guys can skip that meeting. And, if you’re only interested in Swedish military aircraft of the WW2 era and are having a blast building them, then maybe you shouldn’t feel pressured to make one of those newfangled gumdan things unless you’re feeling particularly adventurous one day. But sometimes it seems like a shame that the hobby of “making little plastic versions of big things” is so compartmentalized and that people tend not to venture outside their little boxes a whole lot.

My story

When I joined my local IPMS chapter, I have to admit I was a little anxious at first. In part, that was due the background social anxiety that I deal with on a daily basis and the awkward feelings surrounding being the one new guy in the room, but there was a little more to it. I had a couple model airplanes in the stash, but I hadn’t actually built anything that falls into traditional scale modelling since I was about 13. Further, there was a definite demographic difference, which is a polite way of saying that the average age in the room was about twice my own. Finally, there were some other little differences as well that were palpable.

To better explain by way of an analogy, it felt a little like showing up with a tuned-up Honda Civic to a meeting of a classic car group. While it’s fundamentally the same thing – making cars look cool and go fast – there is a bit of a cultural and language difference that can make things awkward. Traditional scale modellers focus more on references and accuracy, while people with a fantasy wargaming background don’t usually worry about getting the exact shade of German panzer grey and instead try for bright contrasting colours that look good from across a 4’x6’ table. One group talks about brands like Tamiya, Airfix, and Mr. Hobby, the other group refers to Games Workshop, Reaper, and Privateer Press. 1/48 or 30mm scale. Unbuilt kits versus unpainted miniatures. Glue-sniffers versus brush-lickers. And so on.

However, instead of being a bunch of crotchety old guys and self-appointed gatekeepers of the hobby, the local group was very friendly and welcoming. They didn’t turn their noses up at my weird pink and purple Khador models, and were genuinely interested in some of the techniques I used. And on my end, despite not actually building model airplanes in a long time, I still had a genuine interest in the subject that goes back to my childhood and my couple years working on 1:1 scale airliners. I like to think that we both learned a lot from each other; I learned a lot about weathering, scratchbuilding, and decals** and actually picked up a couple aircraft kits for my stash. On the flip side, I gave a presentation on painting figures to the group and sold someone a Reaper C’thulhu that he enjoyed and did some nice work on.

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Pictured: not a T-34

Conclusion

One of the strange things about the hobby of “making small versions of things out of plastic and painting them” is that there is often this segregation between traditional scale modellers, wargamers, and gunpla guys even though they are all doing basically the same thing. A little cross-pollination is good for everyone as people can learn new techniques from each other and inject a little fresh blood into each other’s groups. And that can start with you – if you’re a wargamer, go to an IPMS meeting and ask someone how they did the weathering on their tank. If you’re a traditional scale modeller, try a gundam kit or a space marine. And if you’re a Gundam guy, check out how the Warhammer crowd paints their big titans.

Look into other aspects of the hobby, and you’ll probably have fun, meet new people, and you might even learn a thing or two.

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Pictured: A well-balanced hobby diet. Don’t hate me for the Cygnar model in the top right; I swear I only bought it for parts for a conversion.

 

** A little post-script that illustrates the point of this article. There generally aren’t a lot of decals in figure painting or fantasy wargaming; while there are some included in Games Workshop kits, there is a lot more freehand painting in wargaming. So, when I decided to finish painting my first airplane in 15 years, I thought it would be an appropriate subject for an IPMS build day. Since I spent about three dollars on a kit from Communist-era Poland mainly just for something to spray when I started out airbrushing, the decals had long since yellowed and gone completely useless. So, I did what made sense to me — threw them out, googled the plane on my phone, found a nice three-view, and freehand painted all the markings. Which turned out to be quite the shock to some of the other modellers present; I’m still not sure whether they were more shocked that I was mad enough to say something like “these decals are no good; I’ll just hand-paint all the markings” or that it actually turned out not half bad.