Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A look back: The miniatures of 2014

It is hard to argue with the notion that 2014 has been a remarkable year for hobbyists, one which has seen the release of a huge range of fantastic miniatures. Similar to last year, we thought that it would be appropriate to go back and take a look at some of our favorite models released over the year. Fortunately, it was not just a single company that dominated the scene, with Games Workshop, Forge World, Wyrd, and Corvus Belli, each releasing a host of excellent models.  Without further ado, we are going to go through each of the aforementioned companies and talk about some of their standout models for the year and select our favorite.  Finally we will reveal our overall favorite model of the year.  Now to the models!

Putrid Blightkings: Converting additional Death Guard terminators

"In the embrace of the great Nurgle, I am no longer afraid, for with His pestilential favour I have become that which I once most feared: Death."
In an earlier post, we at Between the Bolter and Me described converting a Death Guard terminator by combining parts from the Putrid Blightking box and a set of Catapharactii pattern terminators. While we still have not finished that first Death Guard terminator, we could not contain ourselves and began to forge on ahead by converting two additional squad members, again using the Putrid Blightkings as a foundation. We are excited with the progress on all three and thought people would be interested in seeing them and learning a little about the creative process that went into making them.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Plast Craft Games: Malifaux terrain review

In a quest to find good terrain for Malifaux, I decided to give Plast Craft Games a try.

In a hobby that is focussed around building, converting, and painting model soldiers, it is easy to forgo putting as much effort into creating equally evocative terrain for them to battle over.  But, just like playing with painted models, having them on a carefully constructed gameboard elevates a game immensely.  Thankfully, a wealth of companies have sprung up to produce attractive looking terrain that is easy to assemble, without requiring a huge amount of time investment to get it playable.  For example, Mantic games released a line of buildings that they created for Deadzone that is excellent for most science fiction games. The kits are fairly easy to assemble and largely modular.  There has also been a rise in laser-cut, medium-density fibreboard (MDF) terrain, like Tectonic Craft Studios and Sarissa Precision.  While the material is often very nice, in my experience, it is somewhat hard to work with, particularly if the pieces are not cut out properly.  Recently, I found that Plast Craft Games makes a line of similar terrain that is made out of pre-cut PVC plastic, a medium that promised to be much easier to work with.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter: Impressions

"It is better by far to be an object of fear than of respect, for one is a truth of the soul and the other an illusion of the mind."

In terms of model releases, in the last two years, I have come to look forward to and anticipate one thing above all others, and that is the release of new Primarchs from Forge World.  These models are the distilled vision of each of their respective legions, and some of the most iconic characters in the 41st millenium.  If asked three years ago if I thought these characters, legends in 40k history, could be effectively produced as models, I would have said "no" without question.  How could anyone encapsulate all of the lore and myth that has been cultivated over 20 years since their creation?  Thankfully, I was proven wrong by the work of the incredibly talented Simon Egan (as well as Edgar Skomorowski), who not only harnessed all the creative energy surrounding these characters, but also added some of his own personal vision to the characters.  This year has been a good year for Primarch releases, seeing the release of Horus, Mortarian, and Vulkan.  After Vulkan was unveiled at the Horus Heresy Weekender in May of this year, however, word about the next Primarch was scarce.  It was a painful five months of nothing until Warhammer Fest (Oct 11-12th), where another of the Emperor’s sons was revealed, the King of Terrors, Konrad Curze of the Night Lords.  But even this was only a single cropped image, so the wait continued.  Finally, in the first week of December, the Night Haunter was released and shown to the world in his terrible splendor.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Malifaux: Building the Whiskey Golem and Miss Ery

A clash of titans!

Although the the last month has been an incredibly busy one, I am happy to say that it was not completely bereft of modeling time.  Admittedly, I am still assembling Ophelia’s crew of gunslinging gremlins, but as I worked on them, my eyes kept being drawn to the shiny box containing the Whiskey Golem. Who would not be excited about a ramshackle walking cask of strong alcohol?  Eventually, the urge became too intense, and I put the gremlin that I had been working on aside and pulled open the whiskey golem box.  I convinced myself that it was the right thing to do. After all, any self-respecting gremlin needs his malt liquor, right?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Evolution of the Tyranid Zoanthrope

In space no one can hear you scream.
While no one was really expecting it, Games Workshop revisited the Hive Mind and opened the floodgates to another wave of new tyranid monstrosities over the past few weeks. When first hearing about the coming tyranid releases, I made the assumption that it would focus solely on introducing large tyranid bio-constructs to serve as army centerpieces (sort of a trend for Games Workshop for a while now). This was largely true, with the release of the Toxicrene and Maleceptor on the first week followed by the Tyrannocyte and Sporocyst on the second. However, the third week took a drastic turn. Instead of dreaming up new tyranid creatures, they looked inward and redesigned two of their older units in plastic, the Venomthrope and the beloved Zoanthrope! Frequent readers may remember my earlier post looking over the evolution of the iconic tyranid warrior. Now that the Zoanthrope has new and exciting plastic kit, I can think of no better a time to do something similar!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Genesis of a Space Marine: Unboxing Vulkan and musings on a conversion

Another Primarch, as impressive as the last!

By now it is probably not a surprise to anyone that I am a huge fan of Forge World's primarch models ( I have written about them at length on numerous occasions, and eagerly await each new release.  Despite my inherent urge to collect all of them just for the sake of having a complete collection, it is not very practical.  For single models, they are very costly, and often require a  significant time investment to assemble and fix their casting issues. Furthermore, inherent in their nature, they are all from different Legions.  And no matter how fanatical about the models, I simply cannot collect a small army for every Legion such that each Primarch has a place.  To get around this to some capacity, I considered trying to use some of the models for conversions, but their cyclopean scale made me hesitant and I shelved the idea, waiting for some inspiration to push me past those initial musings.  That inspiration came when Migsula of Legion of Plastic, unveiled his newest project, the Vlka Fenryka.  Taking what he learned from his Legion project (creating a true-scale Alpha Legion army), he set his sights on the Sons of Russ, and set out to create a band of warrior-gods from the 13th company.  Unlike his Legion project, which he restricted to only plastic, he has fully embraced Forge World and has begun to create warriors using some of the Primarch models.  And while a talented modeler like Migsula dabbling with some of the finest miniatures in the world is exciting by itself, it was the stream of posts that followed (along with the accompanying discussions in the comments section) talking about his artistic vision, that set my imagination racing and rekindled my desire to use some of the Primarch figures as a basis for conversions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Putrid Blightkings: Death Guard terminator conversion

Embrace the madness in your soul!

In our last post about the Putrid Blightkings, we talked at length about how they are uniquely poised to be the foundation of all manner of interesting conversions. In our minds, the most obvious was utilizing them to make a range of interesting and unique plague marines and plague terminators for Warhammer 40k. Since the models are so complex and layered, it quickly became clear that a simple weapons swap would not do the models justice, and that they would require more significant modeling work. I am happy to report that work is well underway for the first of these conversions, an ancient Death Guard terminator! This post is geared around showing my progress on the conversion and talking about some of my thoughts on how I might finish him and what to do with the rest of the squad. Hopefully I can get some opinions from all of you about the unfinished aspects of the conversion!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dark Eldar: Haemonculus conversion

Terminate with extreme prejudice. 

With it being Halloween here in the United States, I thought it would be suitable to share my latest conversion for my growing Dark Eldar force. Pain and cruelty, as well as the notion of evil are synonymous with the Dark Eldar. In fact, they sustain themselves through the suffering of others (who else can say that?). But nothing in the Dark Eldar army captures these elements so fundamentally as does the haemonculi. Butchers as much as they are artisans, these fleshsmiths practice all manner of occult rituals, surgeries, and experiments, trying to distill down pain and torment, as well as craft marionettes of bone and sinew. I have long wanted to include one of these maniacal geniuses in my Dark Eldar army, and went as far as purchasing one of the finecast ones from the last Dark Eldar release. The model was so rife with bubbles and miscasts, that I put him aside, doubtful if I would ever return to him. So I was quite excited to see the release of a plastic haemonculus with the new codex, and quickly got one of them and set to work on him.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Infinity: Operation Icestorm unboxing and review

Moving into third edition, Infinity continues to maintain its characteristic anime-inspired art direction.

I have been collecting and assembling Infinity models for well on two years now and I have not played a single game of Infinity. Despite my best intentions, I still have never dredged up enough motivation to read and learn the rules for the game (despite them being free online…).  I think this is finally going to change, now that they have released a starter boxed game, Operation Icestorm, containing all that one needs to play.  Fortunately, it comes with a set of starter rules, designed to introduce the rules to new and veteran players alike, since it is the first exposure anyone will get for the new third edition ruleset.  I preordered a copy of the box when it was first unveiled at Gencon, and am happy to report that it has finally arrived!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Putrid Blightkings: Impressions

Grandfather Nurgle is proud.

Since its release, Brian Nelson’s Nurgle Chaos lord has been a key component to countless imaginative conversions.  In particular, it has been championed by the Inq28 crowd to make everything from daemonhosts to weapon servators (JRN’s daemonhost and Migula’s weapon smith, are excellent examples).  It is not difficult to understand why the model has received so much attention, it is both hideous and majestic in its corpulent, rotting splendor, dripping with vile ichors and donned in corroding metal.  It was also one of the first plastic character models Games Workshop released that, while multi-part, was intended to be assembled in one way.  By restricting the the posing, they were able to produce models with astounding depth, with parts layering on top of another (Malifaux plastic miniatures excel in this, as well).  As such, I was very excited when the Putrid Blightkings, a whole unit of foetid servants of Nurgle, much like Nelson’s model, were unveiled.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dark Eldar: 7th edition codex review

The Dark Eldar are the latest army to advance into 7th edition, complete with a Raymond Swanland cover image.

Since the release of the new Dark Eldar codex, the internet has been abuzz with the complaints of angry Dark Eldar players.  Much of this consternation and anger has been focused towards the actual rules in the book, with detractors claiming that it was a shallow and superficial update.  While the book brings the Dark Eldar into the 7th edition, each unit received only a bare minimum of attention, with most units being virtually identical to their previous renditions with minor point cost adjustments and, in some cases, the trimming down of special rules.  And instead of adding a few new units (like the Ork codex), they simply removed some, including almost all the special characters, like the much loved Baron Sathonyx (and Duke Sliscus who I just converted…), and, to the shock of many, even Asdrubael Vect (most assumed he would be the book’s Lord of War, but instead they did not get one). Having read through the book, I can confirm that all of the anger is founded in reality, though anyone who has been following this blog for awhile will know that it rarely tends to dwell too heavily on the rules side of Warhammer 40k. So, this review is more to delve into the imagery of the book. If the rules are a bit underdone, surely the presentation is still top notch? Games Workshop has excelled at that for years. After all, the 7th edition rulebook was one of the most impressive books that Games Workshop has ever released (excellent printing, binding, image curation, etc).  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, despite Games Workshop’s pedigree, the art direction in the new Dark Eldar codex mimics the rushed nature of the new rules much more than it does the quality found in the new core rulebook.  I would like to use this post to talk about what makes me say this, and comment about the new 7th edition codex format.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Battle Foam: a miniature storage solution

Battle Foam makes a huge range of different cases to fit any of your gaming needs!

Getting new miniatures is always an exciting time, an excitement that is only surmounted by the feeling of accomplishment when you finish assembling or converting them (and painting them…).  Seeing the little soldiers come to life, piece by piece, has fascinated me ever since I started the hobby back in grade school.  But one thing rarely comes to mind as you excitedly watch new models being released and contemplate the next crazy conversion, and that is: where they are going to go after they are finished?  When I started the hobby I was not overly concerned with storing my models, but as the years went on and I started to invest more time and effort into them, I started to care much more.  Initially I put my models in inexpensive foam-padded handgun cases, but shifted over to Games Workshop’s iconic hardcases when they were first released years ago (when they still had the Imperial Eagle on them!).  Having foam layers with individual cutouts for each model was a dramatic step above simply pressing them between two layers of foam.  I used the GW cases for years, and never really had problems with them (other than perhaps the low quality latches on them, which were prone to breaking), or saw much reason to change until a new company specializing in custom cut foam came onto the market.  I am speaking, of course, of Battle Foam, which was a much smaller company back in 2005, and was still trying to find their feet.  Intrigued by the notion of having foam trays cut for specific models, I decided to give them a try.  I was extremely impressed with that first case, a P.A.C.K. 432 which I use to this day to carry my Deathwing army. I have purchased a number of their cases since and have watched their product line expand and improve with time.  In this post, I wanted to show some of the cases and talk a bit about how they have changed over the years and what I have found them good for.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Horde Assembles: building Malifaux Gremlins

The gremlins are some of the most lively and characterful models in the Malifaux range.

Over the last few weeks, following up on the excitement over Wyrd’s new releases at Gencon, I have primarily been working on assembling gremlin models.  Although most of the recent effort has been focused on Ophelia’s crew,  I also made significant headway on Som’er Teeth’s gremlins, as well.  I thought I would show you some pictures of those models that I have assembled and talk a bit about a small skirmish they got into against the Judge!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dark Eldar: Plastics wracks!

Submit to the suffering.

The November 2010 release of the newly redesigned Dark Eldar range was a revolution in scope and vision: an entire army re-envisioned and entirely resculpted, virtually all by one individual, the legendary Jes Goodwin. Even more astounding, all but a few of the new models were plastic and all were interchangeable. The redesign of the army was just before Games Workshop’s switch from metal to finecast, so there were a few models initially in white metal, before being switched over to resin (incubi, mandrakes, character models, etc.). The Wracks where one of the only kits released solely in finecast, because they were released a bit after the initial wave of releases. And although the models were quite good (in their own disturbing way) finecast was a deal breaker for me, so I never got any of them. Almost four years later, the Dark Eldar are finally getting a new release, and plastic Wracks are leading the way!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Ghost Legion: Building Alpha Legion Headhunters

I am Alpharius. 
It has been a little while since my first post about starting an Alpha Legion strike force for Zone Mortalis. I have been making steady progress on the force and can now finally show the results of my efforts! As I hinted at in my previous post, I have been hard at work on converting a Headhunter squad. The idea of a small cell of Space Marines that excel in infiltrating and sowing dissent and confusion in the enemy ranks is fascinating to me.  Particularly because, although always described as remarkably skilled and determined warriors, Space Marines are rarely likened to assassins (with the exception of the Alpha Legion’s Headhunters). Building a squad of these espionage agents presented an interesting challenge in trying to implement those unlikely themes into a unit of Space Marines.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Malifaux: Special Gencon Unboxing

Good things happen.

Gencon has come and gone this year, and although I was not able to attend this year, Wyrd Miniatures modified its webstore to reflect the inventory they would have at the convention, allowing me to get some of the Gencon exclusive and early-release Malifaux models.  Every year Wyrd releases a special Nightmare model kit, usually alternative sculpts of popular models, as well as a single “Miss” miniature that is given out to to people who spend at least $100.  Each year during the days leading up to Gencon, there is rampant speculation as to what these special models will be.  Although this year proved no different, I suspect no one correctly guessed what the special models would be.  Unlike last year when they released Tara and her crew, this year’s Nightmare kit was a single miniature, albeit a  towering one, the Gremlin’s ramshackle Whiskey Golem.  The “Miss” model was also a slight departure from form, where the convention was to release a female model, this year they released an alternative sculpt of the Neverborn’s Teddy (who admittedly may be female, but such distinctions are less meaningful when talking about ambulatory stuffed animals!).  I have always had a fascination with goblins since Brian Nelson recreated their image years ago for Games Workshop, effectively blending realism and whimsical creativity.  Malifaux’s Gremlins have been the first models that capture much of the same charm as those initial grots (thinking about you Red Gobbo…), so it was not really a question as to whether I was going to purchase the Whiskey Golem.  Thankfully, the Gremlins were out in force this year at Gencon, with the release of the gunslinger Ophelia and her gun-toting kin, so it was not difficult to find models to order!  To my excitement, I just received my order in the mail and figured I would show a few pictures of what I was sent.  Also, I mentioned in the last post that I wanted to get a set of the Guild riflemen, and figured this would be a good time to show some pictures of how they turned out too!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Infinity: Perfecting metal models

"We are leaving!"

Although I primarily play Warhammer 40,000, I am constantly looking at other miniature games, particularly skirmish games because of their low model count and entry price.  One of the first that caught my eye, long before I started to play Malifaux, was Infinity.  The game’s intriguing blend of “Ghost in the Shell”-science fiction and modern tactical military operations is pretty unmistakable.  This lead me to start slowly acquiring some models from the range, basically anything that caught my eye, not adhering to any particular faction (which resulted in me  primarily buying snipers, ha ha).  At Gencon this year, Infinity’s 3rd edition ruleset was released, along with a boxed game, making it easier than ever to give the game a try.  All of this excitement over Infinity encouraged me to get out some of my models, and I thought that it would be an ideal time to show some of them and to talk about my impressions of their miniatures

Monday, August 25, 2014

The End Times: Nagash rerisen

The End Times are upon us.

Games Workshop is regarded as the premier manufacturer of wargame miniatures in the world for good reason but, as with any entity as prolific as Games Workshop, it is not surprising that some of the models they release are not masterpieces.  This is particularly true when looking at some of their older models, where technology and resources were limiting.  I imagine a few models jump to your mind immediately while contemplating Games Workshop’s worst models, but one that I am sure everyone can agree upon (at least if you have been in the hobby long enough to know of the model) is the old Nagash model.  As a being so powerful that he destroyed the great civilization of Nehekhara and devised the art of necromancy, going so far as creating the first Vampires, you would expect an equally impressive model, one that puts virtually everything else to shame.  But instead Nagash was the opposite, a laughable caricature, with balloon feet and hands and a face reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie.  So you can imagine my excitement, and a bit of reservation, when I heard rumors that Nagash was getting a new model after all these years.  With official pictures being released by Game Workshop last Friday, I figured that I would talk a little about my thoughts on this excellent reinvisioning of a classic Warhammer character.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dark Eldar: Duke Sliscus conversion complete

"We learnt long ago that the inscrutable universe turns upon an axis of suffering, because pain is inevitable."

The past month and a half has been a busy one for me, as I prepare for my PhD thesis defense. Despite that, I have found some time to spend on the hobby and used it to finish my conversion of the Dark Eldar Duke Traevelliath Sliscus. Started sometime last year, the conversion was very close to completion when I was distracted by all manner of other projects.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Malifaux: Entering the Guild

"I was lucky in the order, but I've always been lucky when it comes to killin' folks."

Since discovering the wonders of Vassal for playing miniature games online, I have really gotten excited about Malifaux again.  And with Gencon coming up in less than two weeks, where Wyrd traditionally unveils a host of new models and some limited edition ones, it seems like a great time to be involved!  This spurred me to continue to assemble and expand my primary faction: the Guild.  While not as flashy and esoteric as many of the other factions in the Malifaux range, the Guild are grounded a little more in reality, with a heavy Western theme: long coats, cowboy hats, bandanas, and single-action revolvers.  With one part Clint Eastwood, another part McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and a lunatic touch of Kouta Hirano's Hellsing, Malifaux’s Guild have a very distinctive style themselves.  Nowhere is this more evident than in their Marshals, which are what drew me to the Guild in the first place.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Playing Miniature Games Long Distance: Vassal

Miniature-based wargaming is graced with a huge amount of variety, from setting to scope, science fiction to low fantasy, skirmish to total warfare.  But whereas the genre affords players a plethora of different themes to explore, one aspect of the hobby always remains the same. And that is the investment of time that it takes to play a miniature-based wargame. From assembling, painting, reading background material, learning rules, and ultimately meeting up with some friends to push models around on a tabletop, the hobby takes a lot of time.  And if you are anything like me, as you get older, time is more and more at a premium.  No longer in school/college, you are starting a career, a family, or both, and even if you do have some free time a few evenings a week, your gaming friends likely are not just down the hall or across the street.  Because this is a hobby that I love, I still make time to assemble and convert models, read background lore, explore the vast and dedicated miniature gaming blogosphere, and try my best to keep up-to-date on the rule sets of multiple games.  Of these, being knowledgeable about the rules, has probably become the tallest order.  And this is simply because I do not often get the chance to actually play the games.  Although I really enjoy reading and learning new rule systems, just reading them is not the same thing as playing them.  Playing a single game every five months, when I get together with my like-minded friends, is hardly a good way to learn and retain the nuances and complexities of many of these games, let alone experiment with army lists.  This got me to thinking about how it would be wonderful if there was a way that I could play some of these games digitally, such that when I actually got together with my friends, the games we played would be as good as possible, filled with strategy and character, rather than paging through rulebooks and reusing army lists from years ago. This led me to Vassal: the open-source boardgame engine.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Basing the Imperial Knight: Dragon Forge

The mailed fist of the Imperium of man!

When I was writing about Forge World’s Cerastus Knight-Lancer a few months back, I mused over basing options for Imperial Knights and ultimately decided that I wanted to use the newly released Dragon Forge resin bases.  To my good fortune, when ordering the bases, I discovered that they had just released a few more variants, increasing their selection to an impressive 13 different styles, including a Tech-deck variant (my favorite of their base themes)!  I recently received the base in the mail and thought that I would show you the process that I went through basing my Knight titan, complete with some repositioning of its feet to fit more flushly on the base .

Friday, July 4, 2014

Karl Kopinski: Zombicide Special Guest Box Impressions

Karl Kopinski steps into Zombicide!

Although this blog was created primarily to document our ongoing modeling projects for miniature-based gaming, we also wanted to use it to talk about and showcase artists.  Towards this end, I have never missed an opportunity to extol the skill of Karl Kopinski.  Although he has since returned to freelance work, Kopinski created a name for himself during the 7 years he spent working in the Games Workshop art department.  With an incredible eye for detail, tempered with both proportion and perspective,  his work infused a vitality and realism into Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 that has not been surpassed or equaled since his departure.  So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that Guillotine Games, creators of the wildly successful zombie board game Zombicide, commissioned Kopinski to design two survivors (and their zombie counterparts!) for use in the game!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Deep Wars: Converting the Silent Soldier

The call of the wretched sea...
Antimatter Games’ Deep Wars miniatures game has many elements that draw me to it: the tight ruleset and the very narrative focus certainly rank towards the top, but the primary draw is, without a doubt, the setting...  It is underwater!  What other miniature game can claim that? The underwater setting offers all manner of unique opportunities for both gameplay and narrative.  Towards this end, the release of the Fortune Hunter’s Silent Soldier model really captured my imagination. What is not to love about the concept of an underwater assassin encumbered by all manner of deepsea diving gear?  The concept alone is one that really offers a unique modeling opportunity, trying to create an amalgamation of sleek and cumbersome.  And while Paolo Fabiani did an excellent job exploring these themes with his sculpt of the model, I was always a little skeptical of the two cutlasses he was wielding. Why would an assassin be wielding such massive weapons underwater and why would they be in such a state of disrepair? Ultimately, I can’t really blame Fabiani for this, as he was following the original concept image. Even still, I knew it was something that I would change if I purchased the model.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Updating the Space Marine Tactical Squad

Truly the crux of all Space Marine armies, the venerable Tactical Marine.

Now that Adam and I are working on assembling a small force of Alpha Legion Space Marines, I have been thinking a lot more about Space Marines in power armor (it has been years since I have worked with anything other than Terminators, he he).  And in a quest to find parts to make unique looking Astartes, I decided I should really take a look at the new Tactical Squad that was released with the 6th edition Space Marine Codex.  And while one might be quick to point out that the lowly Tactical Marine has been around for ages and therefore the kit is probably not the place to look for “unique” parts, from glancing at pictures online it was clear that the kit received a major overhaul and was more than simply a reorganization of the same parts on sprues.  As luck would have it, a friend of mine recently gave me one of the new boxes, so I thought I would give my impressions of it and how it changes and improves upon a classic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ork: Burna Boy Conversion

The past few weeks have been interesting ones for Games Workshop as they have been focusing on releasing a new range of ork models. Considering it has been years since any new ork models were released, one would think it would be cause for wholesale rejoicing.  However, Games Workshop are going about the release schedule differently than any in the past, and rather than releasing the Codex and a multitude of kits within a week or two, they are releasing individual kits at a snail’s pace. In a span of three weeks they have released the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut, followed by the Flash Gitz, and now the Mek Gunz and a Shock Attack Mek. But still the Codex book, which would give us the rules for these models in the context of the ork army as a whole, is nowhere to be seen. During this awkward interim, I have been doing some thinking about the orks myself and I thought that it would be a fantastic time to revisit them myself and convert a model or two (who doesn't like ork conversions?).

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Ghost Legion: Starting an Alpha Legion Force for Zone Mortalis

"Where truth walks, everywhere she should be shepherded always by a bodyguard of lies."
Since Forge World began releasing models for the Horus Heresy, the urge to build an entire pre-heresy army has been strong, but I have been able to restrain myself.  Afterall, do I really need another army?  And even if I did, do I really need more Space Marines?  Finally, the exorbitant price of Forge World’s models, coupled with the fact that they are all resin has firmly kept this desire at bay.  Recently, however, two elements have conspired to make me reconsider this notion.  The first was when I discovered that Forge World updated their rules for playing space hulk boarding actions that were first published in their Imperial Armour Volume 9: the Badab War Part One.  The updated rules, called Zone Mortalis, are designed to play small (sub 1000pts) games of 40k in confined spaces like hive cities, space hulks, and ancient labyrinths, and even including rules for fighting in the cold void of space.  The second element was the release of the third book in the Isstvan Trilogy: Extermination, and with it rules for one of the most interesting Legions, the enigmatic Alpha Legion.  This more intimate way of playing Warhammer 40k seemed ideal to reenact the knife-edge espionage missions a cell of Alpha Legion Astartes would engage in. And just like that I decided that I needed to start assembling an Alpha Legion army!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Horus Heresy Weekender 2014: Mortarion and Vulkan Impressions

"For within each frail human body is the will to grasp the stars and walk a path unto eternity itself."

People had pretty high hopes the Horus Heresy Weekender event two weekends ago.  And with all of the stellar models being released for the Horus Heresy in the last two years, it is obvious why.  The Heresy has always been a fascinating story, detailing a civil war of galactic scale, pitting brother Space Marine against brother Space Marine.  It was where some of the most iconic Space Marine Chapters came into being and where each were shaped by their own enigmatic and god-like Primarch.  When Simon Egan first showed his vision of Angron of the World Eaters, I was stunned with how effectively he captured the savage magistry of the gladiatorial fighter, exceeding all of my expectations.  With this release, Forge World showed to the world that they were capable of undertaking the herculean task of sculpting models for figures that hold a mythical status in the imaginations of most Warhammer 40,000 players (or at least the ones who have been playing for awhile).  It also began the slow, excruciating count-down until the next Primarch was sculpted.  Initially the task fell solely on the shoulders of Simon Egan, but quickly Edgar Skomorowski began sculpting some, as well. Even with the second hand and a span of two years, only 6 of the primarchs have models (of the 12 with rules).  Because of this slow release schedule, Forge World events like the Weekender have had the added excitement that they are often where the next primarch model is revealed.  This year’s Weekender event was no different, but instead of revealing one primarch and showing a glimpse of the next in some half finished WIP form, they showed two new primarchs!  Mortarion the Reaper Primarch of the Death Guard was unveiled and for sale at the event.  Unexpectedly, Vulkan, the Promethean Fire and Primarch of the Salamander Chapter was shown in all his fully sculpted glory as well!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

INQ28: Militarum Tempestus Scion Conversion - Part 3

One shot, one kill.

Inspired by how well converting my first two Inquisitorial storm troopers went, I set out to assemble a third. Having already assembled two with hot-shot lasrifles, I decided to try something a little different for the third storm trooper. While I was initially scheming to convert some form of special weapon (melta, plasma, or volleygun), my plans were postponed when I came across my collection of Elysian Drop Troops weapons from Forge World. Amongst them was an awesome and compact sniper rifle that I decided would make a welcome addition to any Inquisitor’s retinue. Like the majority of the Elysian weapons, the sniper rifle has a bullpup design, placing the action of the rifle behind the trigger group, taking the place of a traditional stock, thus giving it its condensed look.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Kingdom Death: Plastic or resin?

Just how well do the plastic Kingdom Death models stack up to the resin ones?
Before the Kickstarter campaign made Kingdom Death a common name amongst miniature wargamers, and before there were widespread claims of it having sexist aesthetic design choices, Kingdom Death was only a small collection of models and a vision of mind-numbing horror. A few years before the Kickstarter was launched, I saw their Forsaker model, with his frightening height, segmented armour, and antlered mask, and was captivated by the baroque design, one that seemed to be mimicking Kentaro Miura's masterwork graphic novel/manga series, Berserk. When they released their King’s Hand model, I was convinced that it was strongly influenced by Berserk. With the exposed brain design on the King’s Hand’s helmet, the creepy porcelain faces, and the grasping hands, I felt that I was looking at the spiritual successor to the horrific and unknowable evil that is the character Void of the God Hand from Berserk. This strong visual connection to one of my favorite graphic novel/manga series convinced me to try to get a few Kingdom Death models. This was before they started to experiment with casting their models in plastic (one of the primary goals of the eventual Kickstarter), so all their models were in extremely limited production runs  (~450 or fewer), making many models highly collectable and inaccessible to fans (you would find yourself continually checking back to their site and/or coolminiornot hoping to find the small window when the models were available). All of these models were hand cast in white resin, and came in a little cardboard collectors box, with a numbered certificate and art print. Recently, due to the success with their Kickstarter campaign, they were able to release a selection of their models in plastic. With the release of this kit (Pinups of Death - Hard Plastic Collection), I thought it would be a great time to look at some of their models, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of their resin and plastic models.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Foldio - An easy solution to taking pictures of miniatures

Finally, I have a way to take nice model photos!

I have struggled to take nice photos of my models for a long time.  Between poor lightning, an old “point and shoot” digital camera, and a general lack of knowledge about photography, getting good pictures never came very easily for me.  Since starting this blog, I have tried a little harder to experiment with backdrops and lighting with mixed success, but I was still never very satisfied.  So you can imagine my delight when I learned about the Foldio, a foldable studio, over on Frothing Muppet’s excellent miniature blog.  Designed to allow for taking professional looking photos with a smartphone camera, the Foldio is essentially a foldable plastic lightbox/shadowbox with a LED strip attached that provides light from all angles.  Although it was initially brought into reality via Kickstarter, the designer, a Korean company called Orangemonkie, recently began selling them to the general public.  I wasted no time and ordered one, and to my excitement it arrived promptly.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Liebster Award

I was pretty taken aback to discover Questing Artificer included my blog in his Liebster Award blog list (a list filled with many excellent blogs).  It is always nice to know that your work is appreciated and seen by others, as it is a wonderful motivator to keep modeling.  It is particularly important in the first few months of a blog, lest you lose interest and stop altogether.  The purpose of the Liebster Award award is to allow bloggers to recognize a selection of blogs that they think are exceptional, with a focus on newer or smaller blogs that may not have as many followers or are still trying to carve out a niche for themselves.  Each nominee is asked to state eleven truths about themselves, answer eleven questions from the blogger who nominated them and finally come up with a series of eleven questions they would like their nominees to answer.

Thank you Questing Artificer for the nomination; here it goes!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

INQ28: Militarum Tempestus Scion Conversion - Part 2

As the Emperor protects, so must we.
After having so much fun converting the first INQ28 Militarum Tempestus storm trooper, I knew I had to get to work on converting a second. For the second stormtrooper I wanted to maintain the same modified hot-shot lasrifle, but this time have the rifle shouldered like it was getting ready to be fired. Adding the stock to the hot-shot lasrifle proved to be a lot trickier this time around and required a lot more cutting and greenstuffing to situate everything properly.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

INQ28: Converting a Militarum Tempestus Scion

To feel pain or fear or grief is to allow myself a luxury I cannot afford.
Only a week after the release of the Militarum Tempestus Scions, we have already seen a surge of activity around the blogosphere involving the kit. They are particularly well suited for Inquisitorial operatives; both Jeff Vader and Henry South have excellent examples of this.  Wanting to experiment with the kit myself, I picked up a box and set to work. Now that I have actually seen the components of the kit, I am even more impressed than ever with Dave Thomas’s work. He paid a lot of attention to detailing the hands of the models. I was particularly impressed that he thought to model one of the Scions hands such that the operator’s trigger finger is not on the trigger of the weapon! Their fighting knives are also really neat. I particularly like that they are simple straight blades and that they have a fully enclosed finger choil (kind of like a karambit, ha ha).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cerastus Knight-Lancer Impressions

Punish the flesh. Iron in mind and body. Hail the Machine!
The plastic Imperial Knight was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Games Workshop releases in a long time, but when the Imperial Knight Codex was released a week later, it was hard not to be a little disappointed when the book did not contain rules for additional Knight variants or weapon options.  I am happy to say that we did not have very long to brood over this, as no more than a month after its release, Forge World revealed their own Knight model to capitalize on the wealth of other less common Knight variants.  The Cerastus Knight-Lancer is their rendition of the rather comical looking Lancer from the Adeptus Titanicus/Space Marine days.  It even already has rules in the form of an entry in the third installment of the Horus Heresy Isstvan saga: Extermination.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Militarum Tempestus: Plastic storm troopers finally arrive!

There are no miracles, only men.
Rumors have been circulating on the internet for years that Games Workshop has been working on a unit of plastic Imperial Guard storm troopers. I always looked at these rumors with a cautious optimism. The caution born from many false leads and the disappointment of not getting them when the Imperial Guard rolled into the 5th edition with steel treads and the stomp of standard-issue boots. But it was hard to not get excited about each of the rumors, because more so than for any other army in the 40k universe, the Guard are something that we can all relate to. Flesh and blood of men and women trying to survive the brutal dictatorship of the Imperium and the continual assaults from virtually any imaginable horror. Afterall, there are no miracles, only men (a line that has always stuck with me, from John Bergin’s ambient industrial rock soundtrack for Dan Abnett’s seminal novel Traitor General). But with the release of this week’s White Dwarf magazine, all of that uncertainty is gone. Plastic storm troopers are finally being released next week along with a supplemental codex, Militarum Tempestus, detailing an entire army composed of storm troopers (renamed Scions)! Now seems like as good a time as any to discuss the new plastics and consider them in light of the earlier versions of storm troopers (and to find my 30-40 metal storm troopers and prepare them for battle, he he).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Horus the Warmaster, Primarch of the Sons of Horus

Forge World's release of Horus offers yet another reason for us to open our wallets...
We knew it was coming for a while now, ever since Forge World released Angron of the World Eaters.  We have all tried our best to wait as patiently as we could, but as of last week it finally happened. We are now graced with a model for Horus Lupercal!  To fully appreciate the significance of this, it is necessary to think back to when we all got into this hobby.  Like many of us, I first learned about Warhammer 40,000 because of Space Marines.  Those little colorful armored soldiers captured my imagination, with their iconic Boltguns and bulky power armor.  And while pushing miniature warriors around a table may have been something my capricious teenage mind could have quickly gotten bored with, the rich history Games Workshop crafted around their models kept things from becoming stale.  There was alway some intriguing thread to follow and to set my mind wandering, whether from a short story, codex book, or just an axiom that adorned the border of a page in the rulebook.  But one story stood above the rest and became an integral part of my vision of Warhammer 40,000:  the Horus Heresy.  This vicious civil war set the galaxy to burn as brother Space Marine turned on  brother Space Marine.  And at the center of this conflict were two figures: the Emperor, and his most trusted son, Horus.  At the climax of the Heresy, they met in single combat.  And although the Emperor ultimately prevailed, he was left virtually dead in the process and needed to be entombed within the Golden Throne to survive (although his vitality is still a point of contention).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Imbrian Arts: Beer and D6s

A more unlikely band of adventurers has rarely been seen!
After being thoroughly impressed by Jody Siegel’s work on The King of Ghouls model from his Kickstarter campaign, I decided I needed to purchase a few more of his models. Having vocalized my fondness for the Blacksands Orc in my previous post, I knew that I wanted to add him to my collection. Additionally, I was intrigued by Jody’s take on the Basilisk (bipedal with multiple arms, wielding a sword) and wanted to see him in person. My third purchase was an unexpected and unmediated one: while on the Imbrian Arts website I noticed they had just released a new dwarf model, one holding a tiny shot glass aloft and sporting a drunken and joyful smirk! Looking into it a little deeper, I discovered the model is from a new project Jody has been working on in his free time, a skirmish game focused around drunken brawls, titled Beer and D6s. The concept immediately resurfaced memories of my time in 1998 playing Games Workshop’s Brewhouse Bash (White Dwarf 223), commanding drunken orks in fierce combat! With such fond memories in mind, I had to order the inebriated dwarf, as well!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Imperial Knight Unboxing

Although the lineage is clear, the Knight has come a long way.
It is rare that Games Workshop really surprises anyone with a release, but I admit I was pretty shocked to see that they were releasing a plastic Imperial Knight. I was even more surprised and thrilled with how effectively it captured the image that I had cultivated in my mind of how a Knight should look, maintaining the bulky, hunched look of the related constructs of the Titan Legion. With their release slated to be Saturday, I decided to pay my local hobby shop a visit the Friday of, hoping to at least get a look at the new Imperial Knight. I was not really expecting to buy one because in the past GW has asked stores to only sell their new releases on the the actual Saturday release date. After talking with the store owner, he told me that GW was now letting him sell most of their new releases on Friday, and proceeded to go into the back of the store and bring out all of the Imperial Knights he had ordered for the shop. Interestingly, while the store had only ordered seven of the kits they received nine in total. Furthermore, eight of the nine Knights were packaged in the plain white, “Direct Order” Games Workshop boxes, rather than the proper Imperial Knight ones (likely confirming the rumors that have been in circulation of supply issues).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dark Eldar: Archon Conversion - the past meets the present

I don't want blood. I can take your blood. I am asking for souls. Only you can give me your soul.
My nostalgia for the original range of Dark Eldar models has lead me to purchase a fair few old metal models on ebay, including some of the unreleased concept models sculpted by Gary Morley and Chris Fitzpatrick. Some early readers of this blog may remember that in my first Dark Eldar post (about my Kruellagh the Vile conversion), I hinted that I was planning to convert another archon using a model  even older than Kruellagh. Well, the time to show that conversion has finally arrived (despite taking much longer than I had originally planned, ha ha)!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Imperator Rex: the Imperial Knight Reveal!

Victory does not always rest with the big guns; but if we rest in front of them we shall be lost.
Apocalypse passed by without me giving it so much as a second thought, despite Games Workshop’s hope it would crash into my life with the full fury of a Lucius Pattern Warhound titan kicking aside some wave serpents.  While the two models they released for Apocalypse (Lord of Skulls, and the Tesseract Vault) look excellent, the $160 price tag was hard to swallow.  And when I only get to play a game of 40k every few months, I would rather play a standard game and try to fine tune a list, as opposed to playing something filled with crazy world-ending monstrosities that are imbalanced and liable to make the game one-sided. Games Workshop was obviously unsatisfied with the sales of Apocalypse, because they quickly followed it up with Escalation, allowing the imbalanced Lords of War to be taken in regular games of 40,000.  Even with this release, I was still unmoved.  Honestly, Dreamforge Games got closer to convincing me to try out these rulesets when they released their Leviathan Crusader, than Games Workshop did with any of their efforts.  And while I bought and assembled a Leviathan Crusader, I never tried out either of the rulesets, as one titan does not make for a good game of Escalation or Apocalypse.  It looks like this is about to change, however, as last week images leaked revealing that Games Workshop is finally bringing titans out of Epic 40,000 and into Warhammer 40,000.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Evolution of the Tyranid Warrior

In space, no one can hear you scream.
The recent tyranid release was met with a lot of skepticism and pessimism, with many claiming that its power level was not high enough for it to contend with most competitive lists (aka Tau and Eldar). And while the point costs of units went down almost across the board, very few major adjustments were made. One unit which many people were anxiously awaiting an update was the tyranid warriors. They saw a lot of use in 3rd edition when they were immune to instant death, but when they lost this in 4th, it was difficult to justify their point cost considering that a single krak rocket could kill one of the 3 wound horrors. Now that the dust has settled from the new tyranid release, it is clear that the warriors are still in the same predicament they have been in for years. You pay a premium to get a synapse spreading 3 wound body, but due to a low toughness and save they just are not durable.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ferrus Manus: Unboxing

Ferrus comes with the most pieces yet of the Primarchs!
Frequenters of this blog might already know how impressed we were Simon Egan’s third primarch model, Ferrus Manus of the Iron Hands, selecting him as our favorite model of 2013.  Although I spoke at length about various aspects of the model when he was initially unveiled, I never actually did an unboxing to show off the components of the kit like I did with Fulgrim.  Although I have had the kit for a little over a month now, I had a few issues with some of the components not being cast well.  Having just received replacement parts in the mail, I decided now is a good time to show everyone the kit and to talk a little bit about Forge World’s excellent customer service.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Imbrian Arts: The King of Ghouls

Imbrian Arts Miniatures does not disappoint with their kickstarter! That is indeed a wax seal on the certificate of authenticity!
Today I want to talk about a miniature that I just received from backing Imbrian Arts kickstarter project in December of 2012. It is a model of “The King of Ghouls,” one of four models that Jody Siegel sculpted and used kickstarter to raise money to put into production.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Deadzone (Mantic) Game Impressions

A vicious game of Deadzone is about to commence. 
Having assembled all of the terrain that I could from the Deadzone box and read through the rules, I figured it was time to put it to the test and play a few games. Afterall, it is easy to jump to conclusions by just reading through a rulebook, as you make comparisons to other systems. Often it can be difficult to see how everything fits together before you actually start rolling dice and pushing models around. As of writing this, I have played three games of Deadzone, and with each one I have come away with a much fuller appreciation of the ruleset. I admit that I am still learning some of the game’s finer points, but thought that I would write down a few impressions of the game, now that I have led a strike team of Enforcers to victory a few times.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Unforgiven: Deathwing Command Squad Banner Bearer

Never Forgive, Never Forget was never so fitting.
One of my biggest accomplishments of last year was starting to assemble a unit of senior members of the Dark Angels’ Inner Circle to serve as a Deathwing command squad. I was extremely happy with how the first two members of the squad turned out, and it really inspired me to start planning the next members of the squad. There was still one element of the unit that continued to give me pause (which was part of the reason for not beginning to build the squad earlier), and that was how I was going to make a banner bearer. I always liked their traditional banner with a broken angel reaching to the sky, and was hoping that the new plastic box would give me a workable version of it. As it turned out, they did to a fashion, but the plastic banner was designed to be mounted on top of one of the terminator’s bodies, admittedly reminiscent of the old metal model, but just not suitable to be held aloft in the unwavering hand of an intrepid hero. With this disappointment, I knew I had to come up with something different. I had long considered some of the plastic banners included in other kits, such as the Space Marine command banner, but they all seemed very rigid and intractable.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Between the Bolter and Me: 2013, a year in review

It is hard to believe that Between the Bolter and Me is already a year old! What started as a means to stay excited about miniature-based wargaming amidst my time in graduate school has blossomed into something bigger.  Instead of just serving as a distraction, it has become a fantastic outlet for my creativity and has encouraged me to become a larger part of the developing community. I am more excited than ever to be in the miniature gaming hobby and to be a part of the community as a whole. Over the year I discovered and have been inspired by a huge list of other hobbyists and their blogs, including Migsula, Jeff Vader, Kari Hernesniemi, Mikko Luoma, KrautScientist, Pijamas Gagarin, and Dave Taylor, to name just a few.

My confidence and skill as a modeller has improved by leaps and bounds, particularly in the area of actually modelling with greenstuff. And while I still have not started painting yet, it is only a matter of time!

With 2014 just getting underway I wanted to take some time and review some of my favorite models that I (and the other members of Between the Bolter and Me) converted in 2013.