First Ever Drop Pod

Finally! I've got my first ever drop pod painted and sealed. I tried to get good shots of this thing, but it's so large when opened up that it doesn't fit under my small lighting rig. I'm going to have to bash something larger together for vehicle shots in the future.

It's not spectacular, but it's not terrible either. It could probably have used a little more contrast between the blue and the small silver bits, like the little spots on the outside of the doors.
The missile launcher inside is magnetized, so I can swap in the storm bolter when needed. It's a little fiddly, and the storm bolter tends to snag on the magnet, making it a bitch to get out.
I'm also a masochistic bastard and I went ahead and painted hazard stripes using Ron's tutorial over at From the Warp to start. I didn't paint the whole section yellow, just the individual sections, and then I cut back in with black.
Since I only have one pod so far, this one will likely carry an assassin-style unit. Sternguard to take out an infantry unit or monster, an Ironclad to run roughshod down a flank, etc. With all the damned tau behind Aegis lines in my local area, a Dread with two heavy flamers (one twin linked, one on the end of a DCCW) might work nicely. Even a tooled up Command Squad might work.
My next vehicular project will be a Vindicator. I had traded for an old Forgeworld Vindicator kit quite some time ago. It's pretty much identical to the current GW kit, but doesn't have the side armor plating. I'm not sure if I should buy the side armor bitz online or not. They'll run me about $10 shipped, and I'm not sure they're crucial to the look of the tank. The calling card of the Vindicator is the siege shield, not the side armor.
I've not put a Vindicator on the table in a very long time. Maybe the dawn of 5th/end of 4th Edition? I had an old, secondhand metal Vindicator that I was fixing up. I stalled out on it when I switched to a bike-heavy force, and sold the parts. I remember really enjoying using the Vindicator, as it's the biggest, baddest weapon in the Marine arsenal. I have a glowing memory of exploding a Necron Monolith with my beat-to-hell Vindicator back when Monoliths were nigh unkillable.
I've also started putting paint on my Company Champion. Infantry feel like they'll fly by as compared to weeks-or-months-long vehicle projects.


Review: Helion Rain (audio drama)

I've been going a little insane at work the last week or so, as I'm in a maintenance phase of our release cycle. That means reading 500+ pages of inane documents, and replacing small fragments of text and large sections of graphics/images...and then doing it all again for a slightly different version of the product. The life of a technical writer.

When I get into those maintenance ruts, I get distracted easily and end up spending hours surfing instead of working. I'd normally listen to music, but I can't find my old iPod and don't have a PC with iTunes on it anymore. Instead, I decided to try out a Black Library audio drama.

In the past, I thought audio dramas would be an odd thing to listen to, and I H-A-T-E audio books (I can't stand being read to, I prefer to visualize in my own head using my own voice). I did some brief Google searching for reviews, and 95% of the impressions of BL audio dramas were good. I bought Helion Rain because I wanted some more insight into the Raven Guard for my upcoming Shadow Captain project.

I was floored.

Let's start with a description of what an audio drama is in BL terms: it's like the cinematics of a video game, but without the video game. Ever listen to a TV show or movie from the next room, and imagine the scene in our head as you listen along? That's what these audio dramas are for.

Helion Rain (pronounced HEE-lee-on) follows the Raven Guard as they attempt to defend the fleeing remnants of a planetary populace from a Tyranid invasion. There are two main characters: Veteran Scout Sergeant Grayvus and Shadow Captain Koryn. Each has a separate mission in the story. grayvus leads a small Scout squad, and Koryn (his commanding officer) is overall leader of the Raven Guard on the planet. You don't get a real sense of Koryn in the story, as his scenes are largely scene-setting, exposition, and pure action. Grayvus is a little more fleshed out, with some backstory and character traits.

I can't give a ton of plot details without spoilering the whole thing, but rest assured it's a simple story with some nice twists. The action scenes are of believable odds, instead of single Marines striding unscathed through waves of Nids. The scout scenes have some really great tension.

The drama is narrated and voiced entirely by a single person, Toby Longworth. I was skeptical about that when I first stated, but the man is a very talented voice actor. He manages to make all of the characters sound slightly different.
The story also contains sound effects and light background music. You get to hear what a chainsword sounds like (just like the chainsaw in my garage at home), what Tyranids sound like, and the noise of Scout armor as the Marines run. None of the sounds are front and center, but more behind the narration as support. The overall effect is great.

The whole thing runs just over an hour, which is a pretty good value for the $16 I paid for it. I've already started listening to it again this morning! I strongly recommend this to anyone who likes to visualize a story as it's being narrated. I plan to push the mp3 file over to my Kindle as well, so I can listen to it at my painting desk.


For Sale...

I'm pulling the trigger on selling/trading my Tyranid models. I put them up on Bartertown last night, and figured I might as well toss them up here as well.

Here's what I have, and the general asking price. Prices are negotiable, and let me know if you think anything is outrageously priced.

Set of Forgeworld Shrike Wings ($25). New, never used, straight from FW.

Set of Forgeworld Flying Rippers ($30). New, never used, some knocked off of the sprues, but all intact. I got these from someone on Bartertown.

Space Hulk Broodlord ($40). New and unassembled.

Old, metal Hive Guard with lashwhip and shield ($5). Painted a dingy yellow. No base.

Incomplete, metal Lictor ($10). He's missing one leg. Head is glued into the torso, and one of the talons is from the limited edition army box Lictor. No base.

Eleven prior-edition Warriors ($110 for the whole lot). All are new on sprue, or new off sprue. Includes eleven of the core body sprues, and the equivalent of four of the biomorph upgrade sprues. Bases not pictured, but I will scrounge up enough to fit the whole lot. Remember, these are the previous edition Warriors, so they don't have laswhips and boneswords, and whatnot.

One Carnifex body with a ton of weapon and head sprues ($30). No base. What you see in the pics is what you get. The largest set of scything talons is missing. I bought the body as bitz, and had intended to cobble together a full fex from the sprues. It'll make a perfectly playable Fex, I just want all the sprues gone with him, hence the bundle.

Two pairs of wings from WHFB Crypt Horros/Vargouls ($3). I'd planned to use these to make some Shrikes.

Genestealer lot ($22 ). Same deal as the Fex, I bought various parts and was cobbling together some models. You'll be able to build a dozen Genestealers from the bodies and heads, and enough arms to outfit them all in some manner. I'll scrounge up enough slotted bases to outfit the dozen unbuilt models. I'll toss in the five partially built models in the last pic for free to anyone who buys the lot.

Gaunt weapons lot ($4). WYSIWYG on this lot.

Ripper lot ($5). Seventeen of the little buggers, no bases.

Misc Nid Bitz bag. ($best offer). This is a standard sandwich bag full of various weapons and biomorph addons. Honestly, it's a significant number of spinefists and some other junk mixed in.

Limited Edition Army Box Lictor ($50). This guy is currently sitting in a stripping solution, but is clean and unaltered. no base. If you need a picture before buying, let me know and I'll be able to grab on in a day. He's just got a couple small spots left to clean of stubborn paint.

I'll let the entire lot go for $310 if you want it all.


And Away We Go...

It's official, the Shadow Captain project is off the ground. I just submitted my order with Fore World for a Captain Korvydae model and the Mk4 Legion Power Weapons set. Expensive!

I bought the power weapon set purely for those old-style lightning claws and the giant chain sword. You see, I really can't stand the current incarnation of lightning claws with their "brass knuckles" look. I can suffer through it on standard Marines and Terminators, but for Raven Guard, I felt they really needed the old school type, because those allow the wearer to open and close his hand. How are you going to perch on spires, climb walls, and otherwise be vertically inclined if you don't have a free hand because you have to hang onto your weapon all the time?

I thought about trying to acquire some of the claws from older GW models, like the Mk2 Veteran or something, but eBay searching turned up nothing, and I didn't want another pile of veteran models hanging around that I'd never use and couldn't sell/trade (seriously, no one wants those any more). If I had bought that set, I was going to try to get a hold of the loose claws from either of the Tartaros Terminator upgrade kits (here and here), and put one on the back of that powerfist veteran's arm. I even thought about grabbing the claws and adding them to the back of plastic powerfists, but by the time I did that, I was better off buying the already-built claws, and it would turn out cheaper!

More than likely, I'll end up reselling all the rest of the Mk4 Power Weapons kit to recover some of the costs. While the power weapons are neat, I have more than enough plastic versions to cover my needs. If you'd be seriously interested in taking the rest of the kit off my hands, leave me a comment and we can haggle about it.

The important thing is that I finally made up my mind on how to build the model. I've spent untold hours looking up possible conversions for the claws, examining possible ways to build the model by reposing plastic parts, and potential poses. In the end, I just wasn't confident enough in my current abilities at sculpting and altering models to pull off what I wanted: a nicely detailed model that I can spend some serious time painting.


Quick Post: The Way Back Machine

I wanted to drop a quick link here, amid the furor of the GW website change. For those of you who've never heard of it, there exists a thing on the interweb called "The Way Back Machine." It's basically a webcrawling archve that displays what certain pages looked like at certain points in time. It's not always complete (often missing images and media), but it's pretty damned useful.

For those of you who pine for the days of GW featuring usable, free content on their website, check out this link:


It's the final accessible crawl of the Black Gobbo e-zine archive. It lists issues 1 through 113 in various levels of completion. Some articles are missing all their images, other have a few, and others are 100% intact.

For those of you who don't know, Black Gobbo was the precursor to GW blogs, and it contained both product information like previews and reviews, as well as a plethora of how-to and tutorial style articles. Anything from how to build cheap terrain, to conversions using the most recent (at the time) model releases done by the GW staff.


Picking Parts

My drop pod now has a midtone coat on the doors, but because I don't have pictures, I won't get into detail about it. However, I think I might have discovered one of the culprits in my poor metallic coverage...my brush. I use a red sable #2 brush for larger areas right now, and the bristles have gone a little stiff of late. It's leaving streaks in my paint, and not just in the silvers. It happened to the blue last night as well. Looks like it's time to buy a new brush for tanks and pods. I run through size #0s for infantry at a regular clip, so I shouldn't be surprised that the brush I've used for tanks for so long is dying. I can try applying a ton of conditioner and cleaner to it, but I'm not sure it'll work.

I've started planning parts and bitz to make up my Shadow Captain. I've done a lot of Google searching for inspiration and come across some neat ideas and some interesting obstacles.
The first thing I want need to decide is how the Captain will stand out from his subordinates. In the past, I've made mistakes when putting together leader models. I tend to make them too plain and they just blend in to the crowd.
But for Raven Guard, I wonder if that's a bad thing. Ultramarines wear a lot of decorations. Banners, ropes, chains, icons, seals, and other gubbins. I figure all that crap banging around makes a lot of noise. Noise and Raven Guard don't mix. Also, long tabards and purity seals have this tendency to get sucked into the intake of a jump pack or wrapped around an arm or leg. So none of those.
It looks like I'll need to use flat decorations in order to differentiate my Shadow Captain. Things that are sculpted onto the armor, as opposed to attached to it.

With that theory in mind, I picked out a couple of models I might like to use as a starting point. First you have Captain Korvydae from the Forgeworld line. He's got a minimal amount of junk on him, just one rope and badge, a couple purity seals, and a short leather strap belt thing. From looking at sprues, his body and legs are one piece, with his head separate, and his arms in three parts without removable shoulder pads. He sports a very cool jump pack as well. I'd discard the head and arms though, as I'm not a fan of that face, or the thunder hammer armament. I could always use them on another model. At current exchange rates, he rings up at just under $30, which isn't bad when compared to the next model I'm looking at...

The Lord Executioner from the Masters of the Chapter line. I've wanted this model since it was released, but it poses some problems. I really like the head, pack, and body/legs, but that iron halo has to go. Thankfully, it's separate from the jump pack and can be left off. The major problem is that his arms are sculpted on from the shoulder to the elbow/wrist. If I use this model, he's stuck with the power axe. I haven't decided on armament yet, but I'm leaning heavily towards the iconic double lightning claw setup.

Speaking of double claws, I do have the old Medusa V Limited Edition Captain Sicarius model, but I'm very, very hesitant to mod that model in any way, since I know I'll never own another one. (I've owned two, one of which was damaged by someone modding him into another chapter, so I sold it. I've fallen ass-backwards into several copies of some of the more valuable limited edition Marine models, like the Army Box Captain with the horsehair crest).

The final option is to buy the new Vanguard Vets box and cobble together a model. There are some nice pieces in the kit, and I know I'll eventually use all the parts in one project or another. They just don't have the level of detail that the Korvydae or Executioner models have.


More Glamour Shots

I snipped some of the bare heads from the new Sternguard kit, and did some test fits for my Champion. As a reminder, here are the two finalists from the previous batch of heads:

And here are the candidates from the Sternguard box:

Not a huge fan of the bald/bionic one or the mohawk one. The mohawk head looks a lot like a guy I was in the marines with, who always cut his hair in a "horseshoe" cut and was a general jackass. lol. The bald head is too mature for the persona I've given this model. I really like the final head, as it displays a fierceness without resorting to the "show me your war face" route. What do you folks think?

I also took a quick shot of the fin assembly of my drop pod, to see how it looked on screen.

I discovered that I am NOT  a fan of painting large, flat areas of metallic colors. It's damned near impossible to avoid brush strokes and pooling. There's two coats of my darkest silver color, a wash of Badab Black around the edges, another coat of the darkest silver, and then two coats of my mid-tone silver. And you can still see streaks and lines! The Dullcote helped a little, but I really need to find a way to paint big, flat silver surfaces. Any tips?


Names, Stories, and a Plan

I've started this post at least two other times, each one slowly evolved into a very long and rambling post about nothing. Hopefully, the third time is a charm.

Firstly, I've not made any progress on my Champion or snipped test heads from the Sternguard sprue yet. I got distracted painting pieces of my drop pod. That bugger is so close to done I can almost taste it.

However, I did sit down and think up some names for my Command Squad members. I wanted each Command Squad member to have a first and last name, and for each name to be pseudo-Roman/Latin to match the Ultramarine naming conventions. In the past, I've named my various sergeant models and they all got single names. These Command Squad members will get two to differentiate them just a tiny bit more. All my future HQ models will also get two names.
Here's what I came up with:

Company Champion: Pertinus Aemilius.
Apothecary: Numerian Castor.
Standard Bearer: Marius Gracchus.
Veteran: Thrax Gaios.
Veteran: Flavius Felix.

I mostly grabbed names I thought sounded interesting. Flavius Felix was an actual Roman Senator, which I discovered via Google after selecting the name. No big deal. I also drafted up some very general backstory/personality traits for each member:

Pertinus Aemilius, Company Champion, known behind his back as The Bull. Brave and self-sacrificing, to a fault. He was censured twice as a Scout for engaging enemy sentries in protracted melee, instead of silently dispatching them with his combat blade. The second such action resulted in the death of a fellow Scout when Pertinus' duel with an Ork sentry alerted an entire camp. He served five years penance for that failure. Shortly afterward, he was placed with an Assault Squad, skipping the traditional placement with a Devastator Squad. Selected as Company Champion after fifty years as an Assault Squad member, based purely on his skill with a blade. Pertinus Aemilius is not the smartest or most tactically gifted Ultramarine. He is stubborn and thick-headed, but unflinchingly loyal to his commander.

Apothecary Numerian Castor is a patient, deliberate Marine. While not a coward by any means, he takes very few risks. He knows his mission is to safeguard the Marines with whom he serves, and when necessary, their geneseed.

Standard Bearer Marius Gracchus, "The Youngling." Marius is one of the youngest Marines ever selected to bear a company standard. His youthful features and penchant for humor hide a warrior who is capable with a chainblade and a masterful shot with a pistol.

Veteran Brother Thrax Gaios is the squad's demolitions expert. He carries a combimelta and a satchel of meltabombs. He can toss a krak grenade into the vision slit of a moving tank at a hundred meters.

Veteran Brother Flavius Felix is the oldest member of the command squad, and is fiercely protective of Numerian Castor. He has taken more than one bullet for the Apothecary, and his extensive bionics are proof of that. Castor ensures the scarred old veteran receives the best augmetics the Chapter's Apothecarion has to offer.

And there you go. These guys are designed to be a fixed unit that can be led by any HQ (captain, chaplain, or librarian). They're not optimally armed, but are designed more for looks and flavor. It's a direction I'm leaning for most units going forward, though a squad like this lends itself to that very easily. The only armament I'm not set on is that of Flavius Felix. I'm trying not to spend more than 15 points per model on upgrades. I'm leaning towards a chainsword and grav pistol, but am not sure. The model will have as many bionics as I can lay hands on though.

In addition to planning this squad, I'm also planning out small non-Ultramarine painting projects. I realized from my failure with Tyranids that it's ok to paint single models from time to time, as long as I'm not under massive pressure to get them on the table as a force. Nids were a poor choice in that regard, as I was facing the prospect of spending months painting models, only to wait months more to ever use them. I've decided that one-at-a-time is a good way to branch into Allies. My first non-Ultramarine model will probably be a Raven Guard Shadow Captain. It'll be good practice painting black and white without any blue, as well as the chance to possibly try out a non-Caucasian skin tone. No pressure to get a playable unit on the table here, just a fun one that COULD be used alongside my existing army someday.