Friday 31 January 2014

Men in long black coats

These minis were love at first sight for me. I really liked they way they were introduced in Storm of Shadows with a nice little story of perfection in unison and ultimate sacrifice. The artworks were very nice, which at the age of digital sculpting pretty much always translates to great minis.

The poses of Riflemen are fantastic. They look just as I'd expect them to. The wind-blown coats add a lot of dynamism to what otherwise would have been a static pose. The minis don't lack detail, extra backpack, bags, knives etc. add the much needed variety. Putting them together was not easy as there are several parts to each mini. They fit together very well and the mold lines aren't a problem but the parts are just so tiny  it's hard to work with them.

My only problem with them is the issue of scale. They're a bit too small. Their height is more of less OK, they're very thin but that not a problem. The problem is particularly noticeable on their tiny hands. They're just too small. Other than that these are really nice minis and I enjoyed painting them.

Monday 27 January 2014

Wastrel #3

Here's the third and the last of Wastrels from McCabe's Relic Hunters. As I've written before, my main goal while working on these was to keep the variety among them. I think of them as a band of ragtag mean guys  and the idea of uniform or any coherence is the last thing that they would consider. They're simply in Malifaux to cause trouble and get rich.

Definitely not likable as far as their story and motives go. Wastrels are sons of rich families earthside who have come to Malifaux either to escape punishment that awaits them for their deeds or to seek new thrills. So basically these are spoiled kids from rich families with no moral backbone.

I chose dark and cold color scheme for this one with blue jacket and black pants as they were the largest areas on the miniature. I added a bit of warmer shade to the middle section with the brown vest. His face was a bit hard to get right. The fatial features and the nasty grin are easy enough but eyes are... not there. He's wearing a monocle and the other eye is blocked by a lock of hair. This meant I had be be extra careful about picking up all the details on his face to make up for eyes not being visible.

This is another great miniature from this crew, full of character and unique in its won way. As you can see in the pic below, each of the three looks distinctly different and has a lot of personality. Now there's only McCabe (both versions) left to be painted but before I start working on him I have a few other minis that I want to get painted.

Saturday 25 January 2014

Back to black

I painted up two more Malifaux minis. First off - Guild's Brutal Effigy. I like the sculpt as it is a nice parody of Death Marshal. It's wearing long black duster, wide-brimmed hat, a small coffin, and it's even got its own Pacifier. It's also got a few more limbs - guess Zoraida was feeling generous while working on this one. 

I painted Effigy in a similar way I did my Guild Marshals. There are some obvious differences like the use of different shades of gold and red bandanna. They eyes aren't particularly well placed on its face and look unnatural but I don't think it's a problem as it's not a human being so I simply painted them using orange and yellow. I also added green to the lantern to add a bit more color variety.

After that I painted McCabe's totem - Luna. The minis is really well sculpted with the muscles showing and a very well-built body. Not much to say about the painting here as I simply painted her black (making sure the scars are visible) with red eyes and some metallics for the chain hanging from the collar. Quick, simple and effective (at least I think so) paintjob but I had a lot of fun working on her nonetheless.

Monday 20 January 2014

Latigo Pistoleros

If you were wondering about what minis I was going to use for these bases, here's the answer - Latigo Pistoleros. When you look at these minis, it's hard to believe that they're cast in metal in one piece. It's really impressive, considering their dynamic poses and the amount of detail. It also meant that preparing them for painting was quick and easy - I only needed to drill holes for pins in their feet.
I used wasteland-themed bases as I thought they nicely fit the "weird west" theme. I've added cacti from Pegasus Hobbies (got a box of hem on ebay). I thought that since I'm not using any static grass for the bases, I will at least add some variety this way (along with the random skulls/pieces of wood that had already been there as part of the cast).

Latigo Pistoleros are basically young men and women who hang around the Ortegas and look for a chance to stick around for longer. They are desperate to prove themselves, which results in some nice and useful skills that they offer in game. It's good to have at least one of them with your force.
I tried to keep a more or less coherent look for the trio. Working in the same place, they'd probably be dressed similarly. Also, I really like painting denim material and I think it suits them. I also painted their skin using a slightly darker shade. They're exposed to the sun for most of the day so it made sense to me to paint it like that. I introduced some variety by adding small bits like red bandanna or whitish feather in the hat. 

These models served as test for this type of basing. I plan to use it for the whole Ortega family. I still haven't even put together the contents of "Latigo Posse" box and it will have to wait a bit longer. But once I do that, I will post some pics here. The only thing that I will definitely do differently next time is connected with the cacti. They have some nasty mold lines which are hard to remove and the spikes along the edges are larger than those on front and back. I'll get rid of them along with the mold lines.
Once again I will say: these are some of the best sculpts in the range. I know I repeat that often here but it seems like you can't really appreciate the quality of a miniature until you've painted it. And stuff from Wyrd keeps surprising me.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Winter has come

Snow's fallen, the temperature has dropped and it seems like it will stay like this for a while. Looks like winter has finally arrived here. This always makes me think of my favorite winter-themed song.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Necromutants WIP#1

I've put together first five minis from my KS order - the Dark Legion Necromutants. They're cast in resin in five pieces (legs, corpus, arms and head). Obviously, there are mold lines that have to be dealt with first. The pieces fit together quite well though I had some trouble fitting the body to the legs and had to cut away a lot of resin there. As you will notice in the pics below there are some noticeable gaps left after gluing the parts but I guess it may be the result of rushing through this stage just to get these put together quickly without actually checking if all the options are possible of whether certain parts will only fit a specific body.
You can see a few pic below. More coming soon!

Friday 17 January 2014

Pale Rider

This is another case of truly fantastic artwork that's been turned into a run-of-the-mill miniature. The mount is large and clumsy and I simply don't get it. What exactly is its mouth supposed to be? Painting the model was a challenge as I didn't like it from start and I struggled to use right colors to keep it in line with my other Guild cemetery-themed minis.

I used various bits on the base. Some metal parts along with a plastic vulture from Hanging Tree. I've also added the paved path (I've done something similar for aJustice). 
The rider was pretty straightforward as far as painting is concerned. I used colors similar to my other Death Marshals and added a touch of red to have some variety going. The feathers (?) on his shoulders were confusing and I ended up painting them bright white with a light touch of blue. The mount was the most problematic part for me. I didn't really know where to start and how to go about painting it. In the end I went for a pale, sickly look and strengthened it with a couple of glazes along with carefully placed washes on areas like sores. And then there were the really weird horns. I had hard time deciding if these were actual horns or if they were covered by some kind of material.

Anyway, now that I look at it I guess it turned out OK and the mini doesn't look bad despite its bulkiness. While working on this one I also painted another mini for Puppet Wars - Bete Noire. I've used mainly black on her and when it was finished I went back over the hair with whitish colors to add a little variety. I know she's supposed to be dark but it's a puppet after all so I thought mop-like hair are legit.

Thursday 16 January 2014

The Talisman

I actually started this book by beginning to read "Black House". Then I remembered reading somewhere that it's the second 'Territories' book and I switched to "The Talisman". I guess it was a good idea as the former seemed hard to get into with different than King's normal language and many references to places than I didn't know.
I was curious about the effects of King's cooperation with another writer - Peter Straub. These two go way back. They met in England in the late 70s and quickly became friends. The fact that each was a fan of another's works helped a lot for sure. Their cooperation created a lot of hype and the expectations for "The Talisman" were great.

The novel reads differently than other King's works. This is particularly noticeable in rich descriptions and the style of narration also feels different.
The plot is centered around the character of a twelve-year old boy, Jack Sawyer. He lives with his mother, a former star of B-class movies. They travel together, seemingly without purpose. We learn that she is terminally ill and there's little hope for recovery. Jack soon meets Speedy Parker, a mysterious character, who tells him about the Territories. It's a world parallel to ours but far less advanced (something like the Middle Ages). What makes the Territories really interesting is that this world is inhabited by "twinners" - beings that are parallel to characters from our world. I turns out that Jack is unique in that his twinner (son of the queen) has died, which makes travelling ("flipping") between the worlds much easier for him. Not surprisingly, the twinner of his mother is also seriously ill and Jack has to embark on a quest to heal both of them.

Jack's travels are obviously full of adventures as he travels across his world and the Teritories. Both worlds are completely different and lack of technology is just one of the distinguishing features of the Territories. When Jack visits them for the first time, he is struck by how clean the air is. People also talk and act differently. This is contrasted with the "American Territories", which are for the most part a dark, corrupted place. There are some strikingly beautiful descriptions along the way. My favorite part was when Jack was observing the "flying people" and his growing feelings of terror, confusion, and joy. The most memorable description of America for me was that of Sunlight Gardener's School. It made me think of "One Flew over Cuckoo's Nest"...

I mentioned earlier that Jack meets different people and creatures on his journey. I thought he wasn't a very well-developed character and lacked depth to his personality. However, I could see him evolving as he spent more time with his companions. First it was the Wolf - a lively, happy creature he met in the Territories and accidentally brought to the real world. Reading about the struggles of this creature, (who perceived Jack's world mainly through the sense of smell) to stay sane was interesting. It also shed more light on Jack's caring nature. The same goes for Richard the Rational. Both of these characters, through their shortcomings and their inability to adapt to entirely new situation, reinforced Jack as the protagonist of the book and helped in making this character much more interesting.

The novel is definitely not a horror tale. It feels more like a fairy tale with a dark side that makes it more suitable for older readers. It's hard not to mention King's fantasy tale "The eyes of the Dragon". However, "The Talisman" seems to be more polished and by far more entertaining. It's going to be interesting to see how "Black House" continues the story of two parallel worlds.

There are many interesting versions of cover for this book and here are a few of my favorites:
French version - no school like old skool ! Makes you think of the classic 90s sci-fi movies
Probabl;y my favorite by Vincent Chong for the Polish edition, you can check out his blog here
Simple yet dark and atmospheric, perfect for this type of tale

Sunday 12 January 2014

The Rat Catcher

Hamelin is one of my favorite Malifaux characters. I really liked the first story in which he was still a rat catcher, I thought it offered some interesting insights into the architecture of Malifaux (in particular the sewers). The part that happened later... well, some people aren't that lucky and Hamelin is a good example. As a master he is still a very interesting character though in Malifaux 1,5 he was probably the most NPE character.

The miniature is simply fantastic. It's full of character, the facial features are very well defined, details and folds of material look excellent as well, and his pose is interesting too. I decided to use a metal sewer-themed base insert for him. I didn't really know how to place both him and his dog (Nix) on it so I ended up making the leash longer.

I used three more new GW technical paints. Typhus Corrosion was used as a basecoat for Ryza Rust and I also mixed some Nurgle Rot with Vallejo Still water to add the extra gloss to the contents of the sewer. I think each of these is very useful and makes achieving interesting, realistic effects fairly simple. I'll write more about these paints in a separate post. I also used dry pigments to create the dirt effect on his cloak and shoes.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Warzone Ressurection - first impressions

Much to my surprise, my Warzone order arrived today. I didn't expect it as I haven't seen my postcode posted on Kickstarter updates yet (or have missed it). It is much delayed but that didn't annoy or surprise me. I guess it's the case with successful KS campaigns, whose authors are a bit overwhelmed by the success they achieve. Still, it was a nice surprise when my next door neighbor brought me a parcel that the postman left at his place earlier for me.

Three boxes were glued together to create this pretty heavy package
 Each of the boxes contained plastic bags with zips. Also, they were wrapped with bubble foil so there was little movement inside. Still, there was some damage. I immediately noticed that the blade of Alakhai's sword snapped off. Bummer, that will be hard to fix and will leave mi with an important model that is vulnerable to damage. But I've fixed stuff like that before so it should be fine...

There were quite a few minis inside as my two brothers chipped in and ordered Cybertronic and Brotherhood starters with some additions. I got the Legion.

The parcel also contained the rulebook. I have to admit - it looks absolutely fantastic. It's in hard cover and the graphic design is spectacular. It brilliantly combines new with old artwork and has a very neat, easy to read layout.

 The miniatures are cast in two types of resin, light grey and a bluish one. I had a quick look at the contents of the parcel and they look amazing. The details are excellent and there seems to be fairly small amount of bits that will require working over with Green Stuff. The variety of arms, heads and weapons is impressive and will offer a chance to put together units in which each miniature looks significantly different. There's a lot of unwanted resin leftover but it should be a quick work and the mold lines are not that noticeable. The style of design is significantly different compared to old metal miniatures. The ones released all those years ago were bulky, had oversized helmets or even limbs (but they still had a lot of unique character to them).  The new ones are much thinner and more proportional.

There are just a few bits I don't like. The Objective markers didn't really impress me. They're flat and with lots of mold lines or random bits of resin glued to them. The package also didn't contain the templates I ordered but I expect it to get sorted by Prodos Games in the future.

The first edition of Warzone was essential for my interest in the hobby. I have many memories of working on those miniatures, using enamel paints with solvent and feeling sick after staying in the toxic fumes for hours... As weird as it may seem those are very fond memories as I was taking my first wobbly steps in the hobby then and had to rely on help of my older brother who used to be an avid aircraft model maker. My youngest brother was just a little kid whom we had to keep away from our little soldiers in case he decided he wanted to check... how they taste. Now we're going to sit together again, each of us a much different person than all those years ago.

Danse Macabre

"Suspension of disbelief" is a term created by a British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the 19th century. Simply put, it means accepting what you see/read, even though it is improbable or even impossible. That means putting away skepticism and logical reasoning. I remember reading about it as a student a while ago and thought that it was a pretty convenient explanation that accounted for the ridiculously boring poetry or prose that I was forced to read as part of the curriculum. I've never thought about it as an idea that could be used in considerations of modern fiction.

I wrote this lengthy introduction to introduce you to my latest entry on another book I've read and that changed the view I held - Stephen King's "Danse Macabre". Coleridge's idea is frequently echoed here and I think it's one of the factors that King, a writer and an avid enthusiast of horror fiction, uses to deal with the subject of his book.

It's actually hard to call it a book. It feels more like a collection of essays that deal with various aspects of his beloved genre. He devotes a large section to the history of horror fiction. Not only in print, he also writes about radio, films and even comics. King reflects on some of the most influential novels in this genre and does so taking into account a sometimes surprisingly wide spectrum of works.

It is an interesting read though not for everyone. As I've written earlier, King is a big fan of the horror fiction and talks about it with a lot of respect and enthusiasm, even when he reflects on ridiculous movies such as "The Blob". It's not a thrilling tale with interesting plot and well-developed characters but it offers some very interesting insights into horror fiction. Obviously, it is a subjective view but King's fans should find (most of) it interesting.

There's at least one more thing worth mentioning. It is a quote from the new introduction that King added to the book in 2010 ("What's scary").
"We take refuge in make-believe terrors so the real ones don't overwhelm us, freezing us in place an making it impossible for us to function in our day-to-day lives. We go into the darkness of a movie theater hoping to dream badly, because the world of our normal lives looks ever so much better when the bad dream ends..."
In my opinion these words account pretty well for why we read/watch horror fiction. Being used to horror fiction makes watching your daily news on the tell with its regular dose of apocalyptic-disaster-murder a little bit easier. Or maybe we're just sick puppies.

So that's another entry in my "book log". I've decided not to grade the book I write about here anymore. Seems pointless as I generally read only book that I like and if I don't, I simply stop.

Friday 3 January 2014

Wastrel #2

I forgot to add these two pics to the previous post - a "mini Hooded Rider". That's a miniature from Puppet Wars. I like it a lot, it's actually kind of cute (my wife likes it more than the original sculpt ;). These miniatures are a lot of fun to work with but they require a different approach. There are more flat surfaces with fewer small details than the Malifaux minis. But they offer excellent opportunities for practicing smooth highlights.

Here's another member of the Relic Hunters crew. Like the previous one, he is also full of character and the quality of the model is excellent. While I was working on him I kept thinking that he reminds me of some character. It was only at the finishing stage that I realized it was Bill the Butcher from "Gangs of New York".

It was too late so I didn't change the color scheme. If I had good sculpting skills, I'd add a few conversions to the miniature and paint it over again to make him look like Bill.
This miniature gave me a chance to work with a new technical paint from GW - Blood for the Blood God. It is... the best "bloody" paint I've ever worked with. It's thick but it's also slightly transparent so that it leaves a very realistic, gory effect when applied.

I also used a bit of bright red and dark brown inks from P3 to add a bit depth to the blood effects. I'm pretty happy with his pants. I know they don't have pockets on the back but I decided to make them look like denim as I want each of the Wastrels to look completely different. This one is a big guy so I thought brighter colors would emphasize that effect nicely.

The base is from Micro Art Studio

Thursday 2 January 2014

2013 Year in review and New Year Resolutions

It's this time of year again. Time for a summary and new resolutions. Let's start by looking back at my goals for 2013:

- paint all the Hobbit stuff and keep on painting new Hobbit stuff that is released. 
This one was a success as I've not only painted all the minis I got back in 2012 but I also painted much more (GoblinsThorin's companyTrolls, White Council, Great Eagles, Grim Hammersorcs, Orcs, more orcs, even more orcs)

- paint two more crews for Malifaux (Dark Debts and the Ortegas) along with my current Malifaux backlog (it amounts to 29 assembled and primed models).
Another win for me. Dark Debts were done in February. The Ortegas are all painted up and ready for... sale :) I plan to use to plastic crew as I like it more so this one will probably end up on ebay when I finally receive my order from Wyrd Games.

I've also managed to deal with my all of my Malifaux painting backlog. Some of the higlights would have to include Mr Graves, New LJ crew, aJustice, aPerdita. I've been a big fan of Wyrd plastics since their release and I enjoy painting these minis more with each new purchase. I've increased the backlog but at the same time I've been consistent in working on it.
Also, I took part in two painting competitions with pretty decent results:
2nd place in The Trick or the Treat category, Rotten Harvest - November 2013
2nd and 3rd place in No Ma'am Malifaux Painting Competition - October 2013

- play a few more games of Malifaux.
This one was a total failure as I played no games of Malifaux at all in 2013... I hope to change that in 2014 now that it's possible to play the game on Vassal but that will be a big challenge.

In total I painted 191 miniatures in 2013. It's a worse result than 238 from 2012 but it's still a pretty solid number. February and August were the most productive months for me. June and July were a bit slower but I moved into a new flat then and set up a new workspace and added new lighting. I've also kept on adding more paints (Reaper, Vallejo, some GW). I'm really happy with my current setup and will definitely enjoy painting many miniatures there in 2014.

So, my resolutions for 2014 are:
1. Start playing Malifaux.
Really, I need to change that as I've enjoyed the games I had in 2012.
2. Deal with Malifaux backlog (only 8 minis now!). Also, paint the new crews I'm currently waiting for (Ortegas and Sonnia) .
3. Paint miniatures from Warzone Ressurection when/if (?) I get them. And play at least a ew games!
4. Paint more Hobbit stuff.

I still have a few minis painted in 2013 that I haven't showed on the blog and here's the first of them - the Hooded Rider.
It was the most challenging miniature I've painted for Malifaux. First off, putting the model together was a challenge on its own. Each of the snakes was basically a straight piece of metal that had to be bent into proper shape so that it would fit with other snakes. The miniature is 100% metal so it is quite heavy and painting it with all those crazy details was really tricky. Another challenge was to find different colors that would nicely highlight all the details and stay coherent at the same time. Well, enough words, here's the rider:

 And last but not least, here's a quick preview of what I'm currently working on:

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