Product Review: IronBow Paint Rack

Last week or the week before, I was cruising 40K blogs. I like to hop from blogroll to blogroll based on folks' post titles. If they interest me, I read them. After several hops, I found a post talking about 40K and wargaming items on Etsy. One example of a good item was a paint rack, laser cut from MDF, and made by TheIronBow. You can find it here.
I'd never ordered from Etsy, but as it's a well-established site now, I figured I'd give it a shot. The price was very reasonable, as was shipping. I was in for $27, which is still only about half of what some other companies charge for comparable racks.

Shipping was prompt, so I had the rack in hand in nine days, including the day I ordered it. Perfectly acceptable. I was pleasantly surprised that it arrived in a cardboard box, instead of the padded flat mailer I was expecting.

I cracked open the box and found all of the parts neatly stacked, with a styrofoam spacer to keep them from rattling around. Nice! Also in the box was a bag containing the hardware (screws and nuts, and some rubber pad feet) and the invoice. The seller added a handwritten note with tips for proper assembly.
The pieces are all made nice, sturdy hardboard. None of that plywood or chipboard.
Everything slots together using the tabs. It's pretty idiot-proof, but I do recommend you slot both of the bottle holder sections into one side, then do the other side, then top, then bottom. I tried assembling it all around the back panel, then putting the front in, but it was hard to keep all the tabs in the slots that way.
Once you get it slotted together, you put the bolts through the little holes, and thread them into the provided nuts that sit in a little cross slot. I'd never seen a system like that before, but it works quite well. I would get all the bolts in to finger tight, then use a screwdriver to snug them up.
However, I got a little overzealous with the first bolt, and started cranking down on it with the screwdriver. Metal versus wood means metal wins, and I started pulling the nut straight through the wood. Oops!
I just backed the bolt out a tad, squeezed the wood back flat and all was well. Lesson learned, and the rack was assembled.
I grabbed a bottle of Reaper Master Series and slotted it in. Perfect fit. The bottles sit at a slight upward angle, leading the paint to flow down toward the nozzle. I've read online that this helps keeps dropper bottles from clogging up. We'll see if that's true.
You can see the slight angle here (as well as the proper fit of the bolts):
I filled the rest of the rack with paint bottles. I went from this storage solution (a craft box crammed with paint):
To this one:

One of the neat things about the rack is that when it's filled, you can pick it up and shake it around and the bottles don't move at all. I found that the only way to get bottles to pop out was to give it a little wrist flip, like you were flipping pancakes. Not a motion you'll replicate often.
I sat down and started painting to see how the rack interacted with my workspace. I found that the rack works quite nicely, but that the necks of the bottles kept sticking on the way out. But after about 45 minutes of painting and color switching, I had figured out how to remove the bottles without snagging the necks.

Some folks may not like the fact that you cannot see all of the labels on the bottles when they're stored, and that's a valid concern for many painters. However, I tend to paint using a limited palette of main colors, and a few peripheral colors. You can see in the shot above that I have my Ultramarine armor colors in the upper right, golds under those, then greens, browns, and white/grey/black. I just pull paints from top to bottom as I progress through my routine. If you use the same colors over and over, say for painting an entire army, this rack works just fine. If you're a constant color-switcher or experimenter, you might find the storage orientation frustrating.

Overall, I'd give the rack a solid A, and plan to pick up another one in a few weeks to hold the rest of my paints that didn't fit (I own a ton of paint).



Post Tourney Report

So Saturday was the FLGS's monthly 40K tourney. 1500 points, and I brought the list I mentioned two posts ago. I elected to go with Typhoon Speeders.

My first game was against a Mechanized Guard/Space Wolves consortium. Lots of melta/plasma Guard vets in Rhinos, two Vendettas, a couple Grey Hunter units in Rhinos with double special weapons, a Rune Priest, Missile Fangs, Primaris Psyker (It's "pry-MARE-us" folks, not "Primus". He doesn't have a big brown beaver, nor is he goin' on down to South Park), and a Psyker Battle squad.
We played Special Ops on the Mars board I'd built last year. Several large sections of area terrain (pipes and pumps), and some LOS-blocking fuel towers. Then a railroad track down the middle with the cars scattered along the center line. Very little cover once you left your deployment zone.
I was pushing for four units in the enemy deployment zone as my primary objective, and I forget what I elected for my secondary and tertiary. I think one was table quarters with a scoring unit, and the other was...kill points?
I placed my Hyperii one in each corner of my deployment zone. The fields of fire were huge, and I made sure I could cover good sections of the board with each. The rest of my units were ranged across my zone, with the attack bikes dead center. The enemy deployed pretty much the same, everything buttoned up in a transport except the Missile Fangs.
We proceeded to shoot the hell out of one another, with my bikes hurtling forward, and the enemy holding a mechanized gun line.
When the smoke cleared, we drew on every objective, I scored one bonus point, and my opponent scored two.

Game Two was against Chaos Marines in a kill point mission with objectives as secondary and table quarters as tertiary. I think. I'm always fuzzy on that stuff after the fact.
The Chaos list was a Lord in TDA, a fistful of Traitor Terminators in a Land Raider, a Helldrake, two CSM squads in Rhinos with double plasma, and a 5 or 6 strong bike squad.
I started out with a pretty good advantage, taking out his Rhinos early and the bike squad shortly after. I shot his Helldrake out of the sky with a Hyperios as soon as it arrived (though it did Vector Strike some attack bikes). Things bogged down as we circled each other for the center of the board, and his Terminators wiped out my melta squad. I'd lost all the attack bikes early from lascannon and vector strike damage. The Land Raider was free to rampage around, but it never did. My opponent backed up with hit, instead of pressing the advantage.
In the end we split the points almost down the middle, 16-15. I had the 15.

We finished the game in an hour and 15 minutes, so I had an hour to wait. I roped Lukas into playing a game of Death Angel with me, which was awesome. I've owned the game since it was released, but have only ever gotten to play solitaire mode. It is infinitely more entertaining with other people. I'm thinking with 6 it would be a total blast. We ended up winning over the Genestealers with a hail mary roll. Success!

Game Three was against Ultramarines in an objective tagging mission. Instead of parking on objectives, you can move around and "tag" them. If the tagged unit dies, all the objectives revert to neutral. If the enemy gets to your tagged objectives and you don't have a claiming or contesting unit around, the enemy steals the tag.
The Ultramarines brought a Librarian, jump Chaplain, one 10-man Tac squad in a Rhino, one 5-man in a Lasback, five or six Hammernators in a Crusader, 5 Sternguard with combis in a pod, and a 10-man Assault Squad.
We beat the crap out of one another in this game, and I came up short. I think I landed three points in the end.

All in all, it was a good day. I had fun in all three games, and don't have a single gripe or bitch to air. I really enjoyed having 4 troops squads in my biker list, and I think I may keep it that way for a while. I'm sad that Typhoons are still the best and only-est Landspeeder option that makes sense. I really want Tornado pattern assault cannons to work, but I think I'd have lost every game without the fire from the Typhoons.
The Hyperii really didn't do much. In game one, I got a shot off on each Vendetta as it arrived, but they just bounced off. The S8 vs AV12 is a total crapshoot. Of course, I lucked out in Game Two when one failed to bother the Helldrake, but the other took it out of the sky. They spent the rest of the game potshotting at Rhinos, same as they did in Game One. With no flyers in Game Three, I used them to splatter a Sternguard model when they podded in, and then potshot at Rhinos.
I think they'd be far more useful against lower-AV flyers, but only Orks really have those. They'll likely also be good against flying or deepstriking monsters like Hive Tyrants. Twin-linking was nice on the missiles, and i didn't miss a single shot all game, IIRC.

I'm not sure what I'd replace the Hyperii with though. I've been wanting to try out some Scout Bikes for a while, so maybe I'll try that out once I'm done with the slow-as-molasses Sternguard squad. Of course, they need a drop pod, so the Scout Bikes might end up pushed even further out.

No progress on Tyranids this weekend.


In, or out?

I got some more time in with the Hive Tyrant last night. I went back and applied Liquid Greenstuff to some of the gaps in his torso and toes. They probably would have been ok, but I was more and more annoyed by them the more I looked at them. It was only a partial success, as the gaps I was looking at were really hard to reach with sand paper or a file (which is why I left them alone initially). So, I thinned down the Liquid GS a bit and hoped it would fill enough for the primer to cover the gap. It didn't really work, but the nice thing about thinning Liquid GS is that it clings closely to the model, meaning you don't need a ton of sanding to make it blend in, which is good because I couldn't reach it anyways!

No photo updates today, as I had everything clamped and propped to let the glue cure. I'm hoping to get some tonight.

After that, I got his legs glued to the tail, and the tail to the torso. I'm leaving his head and arms as separate pieces for painting. If I assembled them, I'd have a bitch of a time painting the back of the head, neck, and arm sockets. I have a plan to create a gradient look on the joints, so it shouldn't look too abrupt when the arms and neck join the body.
I tried putting those little spike plates over the arm joints, but wasn't a huge fan of how they looked. Very "tacked on" looking. I also considered sculpting some sort of connective tissue from torso to arm/neck, but am not sure how to go about that while still allowing myself to paint the pieces separately.
Any ideas?

My big "what if" for today is in regards to the arms. I have the two scything talons that come with the Tyrant kit as his upper arms, and two of the smaller ones from the Mawloc kit as his lower arms. I did a test fit of the massive Carnifex talons as his upper arms, but they were too large. Talons that large would be impossible for him to swing with any sort of dexterity.
I really like the smaller Mawloc talons as his lower set. They are wider, with more of an armored look. The plan is to pose those close in to his chest, like a bit of armor covering his abdomen as he leaps forward. Once he's on the ground again and the enemy is in close, he'd start stabbing and cutting with those.
The thing I'm agonizing over is the posing of his upper talons. If he's leaping forward to attack, should his talons be extended like claws, or coiled like a snake and waiting to snap down on impact?
There is only one set of Nid talons in the entire range that are extended, and they're the ones from the old "Monstrous Creature" sprue. Those were designed for third edition Tyranids, and they're ugly as hell. They even lack the same sharp details from the current kits. I'm trying to avoid using them.
My only other alternative, if I want talons extended, is to take two separate sets of the same current talons, and chop the hell out of them. Cut the bicep area from one set and resculpt the elbow joint. Cut the forearm section from another set, again resculpting the elbow joint. Cut the talon from either set, resculpt the wrist joint. Then pin all of those in succession in the proper pose, fill the joints with the correct ribbed tissue, and done! It's an ambitious project for an amateur sculptor like myself. Thankfully, I already own enough sets of the talons to try it out without major additional cash outlay.
Do you think it's needed though? You'd have to picture it in your head as I don't have the pictures up yet, but would the Tyrant look better with top talons extended like spears, or tucked in like scythes?


Hoofin' It

My Hive Tyrant is slowly progressing. I put in an hour working on his feet this weekend, but forgot to take anything more than very preliminary shots. Here's some photos of the underside of his hooves:

Yes, they look pretty rough in these shots. I took them right after I got the Brown Stuff in place. Yesterday afternoon, after it has cured, I took a file to the surfaces and smoothed them out. The hooves are now flush with the outsides, and the interior has been cleaned up and smoothed out.
Tonight I plan to add the fleshy 'sole' area, as well as the 'frog'. That's the hard little bony area that will extend from the back to the interior. (It pays to have a wife who used to own a horse.)

I also fiddled with army lists for the FLGS tournament this weekend. I struggled a bit with deciding what type of a list I wanted to run. I thought about a Dreadnought list, led by a Master of the Forge, but I haven't figured out a good way to run that yet. I own four Dreads (one an Ironclad) with a mess of arm options, but just haven't ever had any success with running that many. I think I need to either run a full six (after I build and paint the two I have waiting), or get some drop pods into the mix. Dreads simply cannot walk across the board, and don't have the volume of shots needed to be reliable fire bases. I've tried in the past to do a mini phalanx formation with two Dreads with assault cannons and heavy flamers marching forward led by the Ironclad, and a Venerable standing overwatch behind them with a lascannon and missile launcher. It works ok, but not well enough to be a threat that takes heat off my Troops lots.

I then thought about taking a very vanilla list with a Librarian, a couple Tactical Squads, a Thunderfire, and two five-man units of Devestators: one with heavy bolters, one with missiles. This was the "let's kill the new Daemons" list, but I found it boring. Plus, there are only two reliable Daemons players at our shop, and tailoring a build to give those two players a run when the field is typically 12-16 is stupid.

I decided to go back to my area of expertise, and run bikes. I was inspired by a post over at Apostates Anonymous regarding bikes. At the end of the post, the author talks about how he's underwhelmed by his Bike Command Squad that is tooled for melee. Too many points for limited return, essentially. I thought about my own Command Squad, and realized that it lands in about the same place. Too many points for what it does, and I run an even gimpier version (Champion, Apothecary, Banner Bearer, Powerfist, Power Axe). So, I decided that I'm going to run bikes this month (at 1500 points, btw), and do so without my Command Squad.
Here's a general outline of what I came up with:

Captain in artificer armor, relic blade, storm shield, bike
Bikes One, 5x, combimelta, 2 meltaguns
Bikes Two, 5x, combiflamer, 2 flamers
Bikes Three, 5x, plasma pistol, 2 plasmaguns
Bikes Four, 5x, powerfist
2x Attack Bikes, multimeltas
3x Attack Bikes, multimeltas
Hyperios Whirlwind
Hyperios Whirlwind
2x Landspeeders (see blow)

It's a fast list with some semi-mobile anti-air fire. I largely put the Hyperii in because I just got the book for them and want to see how they work. Couple hundred points for a gamble.
This is the first time I'll have ever run four small bike Troops. Normally I run three six-man squads. I wanted to see how having one wild-card unit would work out, where I can just let them sit out of LOS or something. That's what the fourth squad is for, with its powerfist and no other upgrades.

The only decision I have left is how to arm the land speeders. I typically run them as Typhoons for four missiles per turn. It's reliable, flexible, and has range. But I'm also thinking about alternative loadouts. First is assault cannons and heavy bolters for some serious small arms fire. Half the range of a Typhoon, but double the main gun shots. Assault cannons are a funny creature in that they're very generalist. Not high enough strength to be brutal, but with enough shots to get the job done against light AV and small units of troopers. Same points cost as Typhoons as well.
I also thought about a cheaper version that replaces the heavy bolters with multimeltas. With the change to AP1 in 6th Edition, melta is spectacular against anything with an AV. Of course, they have half the range of a Typhoon, and a quarter when going for melta range. They do match assault cannons though.

The range bands of assault cannons and multimeltas aren't as much of a problem for speeders, though, as they can move rapidly, or even deep strike. With the changes to the mishap table, deep striking a couple land speeders isn't a huge risk. The real risk comes from enemy interceptor units.

So, with the above list, which would you run?


New Marine, New Tyranids!

I've spent the last couple weeks or so picking away at this Sternguard model, and now he's complete:

He needs a little bit of static grass behind that rock, but you get the point. This guy uses one of the white helmets I painted as an airbrush experiment several months ago. It looks nice on the model, alongside the white pad rims and gold aquila. He's clean and smooth, and I took some extra time to clean up lines and seams.
The only thing I don't like about him was the assembly of his head to the body. I painted the head separate from the body, pack, and bolter. I trimmed the neck before painting, and had done a test fit of the helmet into the Mk8 torso. Unfortunately, once all the parts were painted, they were a hair thicker in all dimensions. So when I tried to glue the head into the torso, there was some contact made between the helmet and the collar. It scraped the paint on all the contact points, and I about threw it across the room. I was able to repair the chips and scrapes, but the back of his helmet has some very small lumps and bumps from the repair work.
I'm now very leery of using the Mk8 torsos for the rest of the squad. I already have the second member of the squad assembled and primed, so I'll give it one more go, knowing that I have to be careful. But if I mess that one up, I may switch to non-Mk8 torsos and be happy with that.

I also continued working on my Hive Tyrant. I decided to lop off the talons from his feet. I then started resculpting texture on the bottom of his hooves.
The first step was resculpting the ball joint at the bottom of what I assume is his Achilles tendon

The hole in the first foot is actually an air bubble in the cast that I uncovered when I sliced off the talons. I'm going to use Brown Stuff to sculpt a pad under each hoof, similar to a horse shoe, and then more Green Stuff to give the area inside the "shoe" a fleshy texture. I stopped at the Achilles repair, because I wanted the GS to fully cure before moving on, as I didn't want to inadvertently touch the GS while working on the rest and ruin it. Patience!

While I waited for that to cure, I cleaned and assembled my very first Genestealer:

I have to say, assembling and working with Tyranids is half again as much fun as assembling and working with Marines. The swappable talons (this guy has Hormagaunt talons as his back arms), posing, etc is all so much fun. I still love my Marines, but assembling a Sternguard Marine is exactly the same as assembling a Tactical Marine or Assault Marine, just with different bitz attached.
This Genestealer needs a little gap filling around his neck and leg, but looks pretty neat overall.
I'd agonized over whether to jump right into sculpting Ymgarls or not, but decided to build at least five models with the basic Genestealer heads first. I need basic models to work with so I can hammer down my final color scheme, and waiting to sculpt fancy heads will add too much to the queue and further stall the project. Plus, I'll need basic Stealers as Troops far sooner than I'll need Ymgarls as Elites.

On Saturday I picked up some Liquitex artist ink, in a green-blue shade. My plan forward is to prime a few Genestealers white, airbrush my selected shade of green onto the fleshy parts, and then test out the effects of the ink on those areas. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities here!