24 February 2006

Finally Assembled

I finally got tired of seeing my Standard Bearer's pieces cluttering up my desk, so today I finished cleaning flash off of the parts and assembled him. So far he looks pretty good. I opted not to go for the shield and cape, and instead used one of the Night Runner claw hands.
I think the fact that the banner is more a collection of trophies than an actual banner helps this figure to stand out from my regular line unit standard bearers. Hopefully I'll be able to paint it up nicely enough to stand beside my other command figures and characters.

Paint Index

I got tired of always trying to remember what a color of paint looks like (or even what colors of paint I have), so I made a little index for myself out of some styrene.

21 February 2006

The Standard Bearer

In the absence of any real painting time, I've contented myself with assembling parts for my army's standard bearer. Since it will be an independent character without a lot of supporting cast, I wanted something unique and visually appealing that also coud go well with the rest ofmy army. Most of the parts came from a Clanrat sprue, but I borrowed a head, cape, and shield from a Night Runners sprue and a scroll from the Plague Monks. I may end up getting rid of the cape and subbing in a weapon arm, depending on how it looks. I'm thinking of perhaps using one of the "Wolverine Claw" arms from the Night Runners as a way to offset all of the Clanrat parts on him. I toyed with using more Plague Monk parts, but they just didn't match up very well. Hopefully at some point I'll get him all assembled and post a picture.

18 February 2006

Painter's Block

I was hoping to have my 30 Clanrats done by the end of February, but I don't know if I'll make it. It seems like whenever I have an opportunity to get it done, I just can't bring myself to be motivated about it. I finally sat down and assembled the last ten. So I have 20 primed and 10 unprimed. I wonder why it seems so difficult to get started on it. It doesn't help that I've developed an interest in Warhammer 40K now, so I've been researching Space Marines and Witch Hunters a little, at the expense of focusing on my Skaven.

There is good news, though. I've built movement trays for all three of my assembled units. Also, my wife got me a box of Stormvermin for Valentine's Day, so I'm a lot closer to having all the minis for my army. All I need now is 60 Clanrats, 2 Poisoned Wind Globadiers, 5 Jezzail teams, and a Warp-Lightning Cannon. That seems like a lot, but it's a lot less than I needed when I started.

Other good news is that my wife and I found a trailer that we're going to buy soon. It has a lot more room than our apartment, a six-person hot tub, a little yard for our stupid dog, and an outside lighted workshop that I can put my desk and miniatures in so that the aforementioned stupid dog can't bump my desk and send miniatures flying everywhere. I also hope to avoid having her bump my arm while I'm painting details.

10 February 2006

Movement Trays

I've noticed that when I want to rank up my units, it takes forever and one wrong move can ruin the whole formation, with figures flying everywhere. I also imagine that in a game, moving your figures one at a time could be quite tedious. So I've been researching movement trays for my figures. I looked at the official Games Workshop trays, but they are all one size and it seems that if I have any units that deviate too much from that size, it won't look very good on the table. I did some research on the internet and came upon the idea of making my own bases out of sheet styrene. I bought a thick sheet of styrene and some long thin square pieces for the edges. I think I'll just make a custom base for each unit, so in this example I formed my Plague Monks up on the sheet, measured it out, cut it off, and then added edging. It looks pretty rough, so I'm going to either fill in the gaps and sand it off to make it nice and square, or I'm going to maybe sculpt around the edges for a kind of "terrain" look, rather than a square boxy look. On either case I'm going to paint and perhaps flock it. But as far as the main purpose goes, the Plague Monks fit very nicely inside and it is infinitely easier to rank them up and move them around. Each 6" x 12" sheet looks like it will make 2-3 trays, and each bag of the long thin styrene has four 14-15" pieces which should do they edging for the same number of trays. The company that makes the sheets is Evergreen Scale Models and I paid $2.49 for the sheet and $2.19 for the strips. The sheet is 2mm thick, and the edging is 4.8 mm to a side.

09 February 2006

Finished My Unit of Plague Monks

It's been a couple of days since I completed my Plague Monk unit, but I've been too busy to post the pictures. I think they turned out really well, especially the musician and standard bearer. I had a little bit of trouble with the clearcoat, as it seems to reactivate any inks that I may have painted on the figures. The only place this really affected me was the warpstone chunk on the standard. The ink started to run off and smear. I solved this by just dabbing the clearcoat with my brush as opposed to brushing it on. I had the same problem on my clanrats standard, as I used a permanent marker to draw the stitches, and when I brushed the clearcoat on it smeared a little. I had to redo a portion of it and carefully dab the clearcoat over the rest.

My next project is going to be a unit of 25 Clanrats, plus the five Clanrats I'm adding to the unit I already finished. I plan to add a little more color for this next unit, as both units I've painted so far have been green-themed. I'm going with a lot of green still to preserve my army's unity, but I went out and bought some blues as well. I'll probably have 3 rat with green armor and two rats with blue armor in each rank. That will give me a majority of green, but some variety as well. I may also vary the fur color to a different set of browns, to further differentiate between the units. Hopefully I can get the 30 Clanrats done by the end of February.

04 February 2006

The Big Project, And a Change of Direction for the Blog

I've always had an interest in miniature wargaming, but have never really done anything beyond think about it. In early January I was in the local Hobbytown USA looking at the miniatures and writing up a list for some Reaper Warlord armies when I saw an old buddy of mine walk into the store. I hadn't seen him since last year when I was home from Iraq on leave, so I went over to say hi and ask what he was doing in Hobbytown, as he'd never really seemed like a gamer to me. He said he was a closet nerd and played Warhammer with some of his friends.

I told him I was actually looking at Warlord and he replied with, "Do you know anyone who plays that?" I had to admit that I didn't and he said, "Just come play Warhammer with us. It's a lot of fun."

I spent the next couple of days online looking at websites and trying to decide if I wanted to build a Warhammer army and if so, what army I wanted to play. If I was going to play a Fantasy game I didn't want to play a human race, Elves don't really do it for me, and orcs and goblins just didn't appeal to me. Chaos is a bit too demony and evil for me, and I like undead, but not really the way that Warhammer portrays them. That left me to decide between Dwarves and Skaven (ratmen). The dwarves look pretty cool, but they're going through a reboot and the Skaven just looked too fun to pass up. In addition, they have a pretty good variety of figures and they are a horde army, meaning I'll get the chance to paint up a lot of them. My wife said something along the lines of, "You have to give up some other hobby if you want to do any miniature wargaming," so I put some Heroclix up on eBay to fund my first army.

After my Heroclix sold, I had some money to burn, so I
started figuring out what I needed. This required several trips to Hobbytown to look at the selection and decide what I wanted. I'm sure the employees thought I was stealing or something because I went in there every day for a week and just looked around. I picked up the Skaven starter box and went to town, assembling all of the miniatures, cutting off flash and filing them smooth as necessary. The photo is one of the units from the box at the end of this step. I attached the shields on this unit prior to painting, which I've learned (the hard way) makes painting that part of the miniature very difficult.

Once I had all of the minis from the starter box assembled and primed, I started coming up with a paint scheme and accumulating my painting supplies. This involved at least one trip to an arts and crafts store, which was filled with old women who gave me nervous looks as they probably don't often have hairy bearded homeless-looking guys walking the aisle of their store. On January 14th or 15th I started painting. I chose a unit of clanrats as my first project for the army. This was quite a learning experience for me. At first I only painted a couple, so I could see how they turned out and make any last-minute additions or changes to my paint scheme. They turned out pretty well. Here's a picture.

After I got those three figures painted I got a job and school started, so I was pretty busy and it took about two weeks to finish the rest of the 20-man unit. They turned out well, and I had only attached three or four shields prior to painting them, so aside from those few figures, the shields were easy to paint and then attach. I finished the unit completely earlier this week, and then I ran into a near-disaster. I had purchased some spray-on clearcoat and followed the directions on the can to the letter, but when I let loose with it, the dreaded "fuzz" covered my minis with what looked like a layer of dusty snow. This was very unfortunate and I was quite angry. Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of my snow-covered ratmen. Immediately after I covered them in the faulty clearcoat I had to head for class, but my wife volunteered to go to Hobbytown and pick up some brush-on stuff to see if that would fix the snow problem. I painted a couple of them with Model Master Flat Clear Lacquer Finish and the snowy look went away. They're a bit shinier than I would like, but it's a lot better than the alternative. Here's a pic of the completed unit.

I have forgotten about my process for basing these minis, as I ran into a bit of a snag there as well. I painted the bases with some cheap brown paint from Wal-Mart and decided to see what they looked like fully covered with flock, as opposed to just covered on top as shown in the above photo. They looked horrible, as seen to the right. You can see the Elmer's Glue in the background. That's what I use to coat the bases and then I dip them in the flocking material, tap the excess flock off of them, and then set them out to dry. To fix the awful-looking bases, I used my Dremel tool with a sanding attachment and stripped the flock and paint from the sides. Then I repainted the sides in the same brown color. Luckily, I performed the full-base flocking experiment on just five minis, so I didn't have to Dremel and repaint all 20 rats.

It felt good to have a full unit painted, so I sat on my laurels for a couple of days basking in my accomplishment. Unfortunately, if I want to play any games with my planned army I still have 180-some miniatures to paint, so yesterday I got back to work, this time on a unit of Plague Monks, one of the previously mentioned units I primed and assembled back in January. After looking at paints and such for a couple of hours to come up with an appropriate scheme, I started in on two of them. They turned out pretty well, especially since I had no prior experince painting large expanses of cloth, like the robes that these figures wear. I based them just like the Clanrats, and I was able to finish six more by about midafternoon today. I also finished the green basecoat on the other 12, so hopefully I can get the whole unit finished this week sometime and move on to something else.

I hope to have the whole army done by early summer, but I'll have to see how work and school go. I've got a pretty good start though. I plan to update the blog as I finish things off, so hopefully that will provide some incentive for me to get things done.