Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ride or die. Or both.

It's that time again, the time it'd be proper to update. And there is stuff to see and comment upon!

I'm finally done with the Blood Knights, or, as I like to call them, the Knights of the Blood Keep. While I semi-like the design and the whole idea behind these models, the casts themselves are an awful pain to work with. The amount of flash, miscast and downright error in the manufacturing process is simply ridiculous. At times I wondered how in the hell these models made it into retail sale - I'm talking faces cast so badly not to have any facial details to speak of! I don't have any photos as proof, but please take my word for it - seek alternative models if you include the Blood Knights in your armies (and why wouldn't you?).

When you look at the Blood Knights, it seems that someone had a solid idea on how he or she wanted them to look, but somewhere along the way that idea got warped into what was actually released. I mean, just look at them - they are so much more like Chaos followers than Blood Dragon vampires. Yes, the armor is there, the omnipresent bat wing motifs as well, but still... terribly Chaosy. Not that Chaos is wrong (it is, but only in 40k ) , but this is not a Chaos army to begin with.

Besides, what really ground my gears was that the respective bodies are only supposed to fit on their respective horse models. What you get as a result is every unit looking roughly the same, as the bodies themselves have only minor variation to them. This is fine as long as you only plan on havin a single, five- or six-model-strong unit. But when you want more than one, or are planning something as simple as adding a second rank I have bad news for you.

The thing I did was to order a rank-and-file knight and swap its horse with the trumpeter's one. That way, while still stuck with a duplicate horse in a five-man unit, I preserve some degree of variety. The leftover horse will be used as a mount for my vampire lord.

Whose bright idea was to have the knights wearing arrows on their pauldrons is beyond me...

The models are full-metal, something I used to adore up to a point. When I set the finished five on a metal movement tray I realised just how heavy the unit is. If you ever field the Blood Knights in a unit of more than five or six, I think it'd be wise to make a separate carrying equipment just for them.

Getting back to variety, I'm stumped as to why they would not include more horse models. Just one would do - instead of the prancing pony you see on the left. I guess the idea was to make the model more dynamic... well, it made it more comical, that's for sure.

In fact the only model I'm somewhat satisfied with is the champion. The cloak and the varghulf fur on the shoulder are a very nice touch and they add a bucketful of character. And I'm a sucker for the new VC sword designs - straight, clean, long lines with the occasional decorative pieces just shout "nobility". The Kastellan is no exception.

The only thing tha bothers me about are the weird, cog-shaped pieces around the horse's eyes. They almost look like glasses. Other than that, the champion is a very decent piece. You can full well have him as the general model in smaller games.

Also, if you paint the knights in uniform, drab colors as I did, the champion model bits and pieces you can use to break this uniformity a bit and make the unit that little dot more aesthetic.

On the standard bearer I did some tweaking. First of all, I didn't like the banner (also, it's metal too, so it adds weight to an already weighty model) so I swapped it for the Chaos warriors' one. That required changing the mast as well, but here I was much less sophisticated - it's just a piece of brass rod; interestingly enough, brass rod seems to be a rare commodity in Poland, so rare it took me over two months to find a store that actually sells it in gauges needed for scale modeling... make you own comments on this.

I did a little freehand work on the banner, nothing fancy. I went for simplicity, as I've always envisioned the Blood Dragons to be very down-to-earth, no-nonsense warriors, not at all interested in showoff. Hence the very modest banner, naturally in my army's established color - dark green.

The bases are done according to the theme I preserve in the army. Again, the Walls And Fences plastic kit proves its greatness. I sincerely recommend it, just remove some nonsense bits here and there and you have a very nice base customization resource.

To wrap things up, some shots of the entire unit. See you next time!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting there!

Meaning of course getting towards the end of my VC army project! I have set myself a deadline to finish the army, which is until the end of the year. I know I probably won't be able to manage, due to the amount of work I have and a certain game adequately abbreviated to WoW... but I'm still trying. As evidenced by the following.

My army lacked a vampire battle standard. Moreover, it lacked a good model of such, meaning the new versions of bloodsuckers were right out. No, with this army, I needed something truly great. Luckily, the old Blood Dragon vampires were up to the challenge, which resulted in, for instance, this gentleman.

The banner is of course hand made from scratch, as perhaps evidenced by its less-than-hoped-for quality. The ugliest part has to be the lion figure... well, no decent laser printer, let alone decal paper, was handy at the moment. The streamer is painted on freehand, design being copied from the VC book. I might actually be learning how to paint streamers!

The shaft and cross bar are just lengths of circular brass wire, a material quite hard to get in Poland, believe it or not... Oh, and Typrand's shaft-holding arm comes from the necromancer supplied with the corpse cart.

On the cloak and the skin you can observe my first attempts at glazing. I'm especially happy about the red on the cape.

Of course Typrand needs a unit to lead, and what better than the grave guard? These are some of my favourite minis overall, and definitely THE models that should be used for armored skeletons, if a bit old-fashioned in the design.

The unit is 20 models strong, including Typrand. There are three fillers. I modelled the bases as if the unit is advancing along a road or duct, so signposts are perfect for fillers in my humble opinion. Here they are.

And yet another shots of the unit itself:
Next up are the rebased and redone black knights. With the new rules allowing them for a much broader freedom of movement I felt it was proper to model them as if they really are crossing some obstacle. Here is what I came up with.

Modelling them as ethereal didn't feel right to my mind, so I just made them leap over a fence. The horses and riders' legs are the same as used previously, however all the rest is taken from the splendid Grave Guard and Skeletons plastic sets. I honestly am in awe of these two sprues and the amount of detail put into the models. If GW has to make plastics, this is the way to make them.

Here are some more shots of the unit. Oh, the fences used on my VC are of course from the Walls and Fences set. Also a great resource if you ask me.

The bugger on the last picture is of course another character, formerly a wight lord, now called a wight king in the book. Made the same way as the regular knights, but with a much older horse model.
Next up are the Blood Knights and maybe a sneak peek at the skeletons! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Miniworks aren't dead!

Not by a long shot! The period of inactivity is due only to me being both lazy and overburdened. So without further dudes, here's the material I have held back from you, my dear readers.

First of all, the new edition of Vampire Counts has been upon us for several months now and that means of course new models to paint! While some of us actually scorn the new plastics, I find them quite bearable and paintable. First up, the all-gross, all-delicious Corpse Cart:

I find this piece very much to my liking. It's exactly in the theme I want to pursue on my VC army project: it's a generic undead model, with no hints to the Gothic atmosphere we were treated to in the last edition of the Counts. No that Gothic is bad, what I mean is that the overall feel of the cart reverberates with the feel of my army, and that can't be bad. Besides, it's a treat to paint and assemble. And it looks great even with my moderate paint job.

Now, I have to admit I rushed whilst painting this baby. It's clearly evidenced on the necromancer's face, the bell and some other areas. Mea culpa maxima, I knew rush is a no-no, and I did it anyway. And here I am, with a model I know I could have pulled off much better than I did.

I tried to make the bodies on the carts (not the zombies pulling it) appear as if they'd drowned. Have I managed to? You be the judges. At least one of the viewers agrees so far.

Then there are the Dire Wolves, also a very peculiar, new plastic kit. While painting these I made my first conscious attempt at using glazes properly, which I did on the light beige skin.
As much as I'm reserved towards plastics, the new ones are getting better with every release. The molds hold more detail and the new resin-based material seems to be both agreeable on casting and modeller-friendly as well. The flash on the minis is almost nonexistent in some places, yet the material is quite resilient. If plastics are to dominate Warhammer (and they are), it's great GW makes a conscious effort to improve on these. I'm very much looking forward to the new Dark Elves being released just in a couple of days.

Speaking of which, I have also been busy on my druchii (pronounced, according to Mark of Chaos:Battle March, as 'droo-k-eye'). I finally sat down to the Black Guard.

These are one of my most favourite minis in Warhammer. Being both metal and quite well-designed in terms of pose and variety (and awesomely-designed in terms of overall feel to them) I always knew I had to have a unit of the Witch King's finest.

I'm presenting the pictures in a new, collage-like format. How do you like it? Also, I will only be showing one picture per model pose. Quite pointless to show duplicates, you'd agree. The unit is fifteen models strong, with full command group and from what the rumors about the new edition tell, I will be adding a hero, quite possibly a BSB.

I added clump foliage to the base theme to break the brown-tan-gray look. I think it works quite well, and clump foliage is a great material to play with.

I didn't want to make the guard look too black, therefore only their under-robes are black. The ones they wear on their armor are kept in my army's established color. The cloaks of the command group, however, are black. It's a real shame the rank-and-file don't have cloaks... but they are a bitch to rank up anyway.

The drummer is my most favorite of the command group, dunno why. Maybe it's the tattered cloak?

Too bad the entire command group is not bareheaded. It'd make a nice subtheme to the fully armored unit. The drummer and champion are both produced in two options, with or without helms, I wonder why the standard bearer isn't.

I'm not happy about the runes on the banner. Firstly, the color didn't turn out as saturated as I'd like, secondly, it can hardly be seen that the design is actually only a part of a larger whole, as the torn banner would suggest.

The champion is slightly converted. I got no idea how to make his arms properly stick to the body while holding a straight halberd shaft. So I simply dropped his weapon altogether. And I do have a thing for pointing fingers on my minis, mostly leaders.

Currently, I'm working on the last five of the Black Guard. After these, I just might sit to my long-overdue Cryx Battlegroup project. I got a splendid idea for the color theme and bases and I'm quite anxious to try it out.

See you next time!