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.

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