Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Maxmini Steampunk Weapons

Steampunk is a popular sub-genre of science fiction. Boilers, cogs, brass and gears, anything clockwork or steam-driven is venerated in this fascinating genre. Thanks to third party developers and niche model makers, our games can be styled in the age of steam. Popular bits side Maxmini offers a few sets around this theme, and today I’ve opened up a box of Steampunk weapons.

Each set of weapons costs £5.59 RRP (as of September 2014), and for that you get three axes and two swords, all of which have a heavy steam-punk vibe. The blades are fashioned into cog-shapes, and all have added gears, wiring and hinges. For no obvious functional reason, just because it looks cool.

The weapons themselves are of a high quality. The details are crisp, with no severe or instantly noticeable imperfections in the resin. The blades aren’t chunky either and some of the details are really small, which is great for today’s world of highly detailed models. The larger weapons (mainly the two-handed axe) are a bit too flexible at the shift, but that’s down to resin’s own properties rather than a product defect. Providing you are careful this shouldn't pose an issue. They are all intricately detailed, apart from the sword shown below: it feels a little plain in comparison to the others.

Design-wise, they are perfect for steam-punk settings and games in 28-30mm scales, and not just the obvious 40k used like Mechanicum armies. models such as the Miner’s union for Malifaux, and those from games such as Wild West Exodus and Wolsung might benefit from these kits. They have no real “identity” in the sense that they belong to a certain game (whereas many shoulder-pad designs and shapes are obviously themed at a certain sci-fi race of super-humans). This gives them quite a wide range of applications, from science fiction machine-men to the mad scientists of a historic-fiction age.

For use on models, you’ll either want arms with open hands, or you’ll have to cut the weapon and/or the hand to get it to fit in. whilst this means almost any model can use it (pre-moulded hands on weapons do limit what can use them), it does result in more work for the modeller.

Here is the largest weapon, a two-handed poleaxe, shown on a Warhammer 40,000 Chaos Chosen model. Part-open hands like the one on this model are perfect, as the weapon simple slips in and looks the part. I’ve turned a bog-standard Chosen into something else, perhaps a Warpsmith or an Iron Warriors sorcerer. This goes to show that even one part can change the whole model.

These weapons make a fantastic addition to any clockwork, mechanical, or tech-themed models you have. With such a wide scope for their use, I can see how they can be blended in with other ranges from several games, and 100% look the part. Yet again, Maxmini fails to disappoint, and I hope to see more from this particular theme in the future.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

WIP: Chaos Spartan Kit-Bash, Part Seven: Detail Work

When a project gets ever closer to completion, you feel a sense of pride in having worked on it. That’s where I am with the Spartan. I’m getting very close to being able to paint it, but I’ve had to make a few changes to my original design.

I’ve decided that my original plan to make all eight Lascannons wouldn’t do this tank justice. I wanted all of the guns to look identical, and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to do that: I’m still not 100% sold on the lascannon batteries on my Fellblade. So instead, I’ve ordered four of Puppets War’s “Double Laser Cannon”. Glued together, and with gun shields and mounts similar in design to the Phobos Land Raider, should make for better quality and detailed main guns.

You would think that sourcing a pair of plain doors from a Land Raider would be simple work, but it has been anything but. Nobody seems to have any for trade. So instead I’ve just bit the bullet and make my own set. These will be left unglued, so I can still access the electronics inside the tank. It also means I’ll be able to do better freehand work on them.

The bodywork of the tank has been tidied up somewhat. The front end has received a few extra plates and rivets, and the lower door hinges have been added. I’ve also repaired the top door from last time. Liquid greenstuff has been applied to the joins in the trim pieces and panels, to help smooth them out and create smooth sections.

The engine has been bulked up a bit. The vents on top have been given a bit more detailing, using half of a Bullgryn’s cannon.

Two plates, from the Baal Predator kit, have been added to the exhausts to act as extra armour/heat shielding.

Hopefully my lasers will arrive very soon, and I can finally get this giant spiky transport painted and used in some games. With awesome light shows of course…

For those new to the series, here is my progress over the last year or so:

-Part One
-Part Two
-Part Three
-Part Four
-Part Five
-Part Six

(Laser image property of Puppetwar, used for illustration purposes only, original link)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: Gemini Miniatures' Colonel Reuel Dagobert

The nobility of our games can play important roles both in-game and in the deep-running background stories. Be they victims needing a saviour or power-mad tyrants, models of nobility can add extra depth to games. Today, I’m looking at one of Gemini Miniatures’ models, Colonel Reuel Dagobert, from their Bloodfeud game.

The model costs £2.20, and comes as a one-piece model with a round-lipped base. It is very cheap for a character, and would make a nice low-cost alternative to other nobles from other ranges. The quality is alright for a model of this price: there is a mould-line across the head which might be a pain to remove, and the metal used is a bit rough in texture. But all-in-all, there are no serious quality faults.

The model has a large build, and his pompous pose makes him an ideal model for a wealthy noble or starship captain for RPG settings. Its largeness can be a downside though. The size different is really noticeable when compared to other 28mm humans. I’d say this model is closer to 30mm heroic than it is 28mm.

The style features are quite universal, meaning the model would fit in well in any setting, be it high fantasy or science fiction.

Dagobert’s details are well done, if simplistic. The detailing is quite chunky, but a lot of the model can be built upon with extra details and a good paint scheme. A bionic eye and some power cables/boxes would make him a very convincing sci-fi captain or planetary governor.

The model has its charms and its low cost makes it an affordable viable alternative model to others out there. I would recommend it for larger games than 28mm (or for RPG characters where scale isn’t an issue), but it is passable at this scale. If you want something that screams ‘pompous know-it-all noble’ then this model is for you.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

WIP: Bolt Action KV-2 and Fahrgestell Bren(e)

Captured vehicles were fairly commonplace in the German army of World War Two. Whilst their own armour was sufficient and often superior, there seemed to be no harm in cherry-picking tanks from defeated armies. My Germans have been supported with the addition of some seriously heavy armour and a nimble scout vehicle, from the Soviet and British armies respectfully.

The KV-2. Once the house-turreted monster of the Soviet forces, now converted and used by the German war-machine.

This KV-2 kit from Warlord Games is a great kit, and once you put it next to another tank (such as this Panzer IV), you begin to realise just why the Germans struggled in their first encounters of this behemoth. Its turret is the size of a small tank, and it houses a fearsome Heavy Howitzer. If that wasn’t enough, it also has three MMGs. Oh I’m going to have fun with this…

The tank didn’t need much work to be made into a German tank. The crew member was replaced with one from the early war tank crew set from Warlord Games. Some stowage, from the German Vehicle stowage set, was scattered around the tank. And that is pretty much that. Most of the work comes with the paint scheme, and I’ll enjoy painting this iconic heavy tank.

As mentioned two paragraphs ago, the turret is the size of a small vehicle. And speaking of small vehicles, here’s my second addition to my Bolt Action army. This Universal Carrier (which I reviewed a few weeks back) has been modified into the Fahrgestell Bren (e), and will be run as a 250/1 scout half-track. Both units are light vehicles with the same armament, a light anti-tank gun, and this makes for a nice alternative model.  I’m only showing you this one picture, as I have plans to make a special post regarding this rarity.

Both these models will be painted in standard German Grey, hopefully within the next few weeks. If all goes well, they may see their first battles next week. 

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Nagash, Supreme Lord Of The Undead

The lord of undeath has returned to the fantasy world, and it is time to either bow down to this eternal master, or take up the fight against it. Nagash is a character steeped in history, from his epic back-story and novellas, to his somewhat awful original sculpt. But now, years later, we have a new model that is bigger, more detailed and scarier than before.

This large character model is £65 RRP. Now, that does seem a lot when you consider it is a Hero/HQ choice. But rather than seeing it as “GW’s most expensive HQ”, it’s better to see it as “GW’s best value super-monster”. Let me explain.

Nagash is big, and I mean really big. It has a large 100mm x 150mm base, a size reserved only for the biggest of monsters. It is very tall, and will easily rise above every other non-Forge World monster of the Old Times. It compares well to the Knight and Wraithknight, which are both more expensive or not as imposing.

As shown above, a marine is about the height of just the torso of this model.

The detailing is superb on this model. Because it is a large kit, the designer has been able to add much more detail to it, and the flat spaces are larger, meaning a better surface area for intricate freehand work. An early favourite element of mine is the intricate armour plating covering Nagash’s torso, and the many haunting spirits floating around. Regardless of your opinion on the overall look, you can be pretty sure that it is a massive improvement on the previous model, which many see as an ancient well-worn joke. Time to retire the old model to a footnote in history I think.

You can get more for your money with this kit too if you’re clever. It would be very easy to not use the floating spirits surrounding Nagash, and base them separately to make some spirit swarms. You don;t get many actual options on the kit (a few arm choices), but that has never stopped modellers before, and the kit has a lot of potential, even before you consider additional bits.

There are a number of neat little pieces that could have alternative uses. Take for instance these skull-vials. Personally, I think they’d make a very nice set of ostentatious Melta-bombs for a lord or sorcerer. This kit offers plenty for imaginative modellers.

And to finish off, GW have been nice for once, and offered free rules for this model for use in your Warhammer Fantasy armies; in English, French and German. This is a nice addition, and saves you buying an extra £50 book (though I have heard it is a fantastic tome of knowledge, so maybe it is worth buying too).

To reduce this review down to the bare conclusion, I’d say this kit is both well-detailed and well-priced, and offers a lot for people who either want a bad-ass leader for an undead horde, a source for conversion and parts, or even just a nice display piece. I wont be showing you the built model, as I have something very special planned for this kit. Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for more on this project.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

WIP: Spartan, Lord and Sorcerer

With a new job, I’ve been finding it hard to get time to work on my projects. However, in between shifts and on days off I’ve done little bits here and there. Lately, I’ve broken out the glue and recommenced work on some of my long-standing projects: notably a chaos Terminator Lord and the Chaos Spartan.

The lord is based on a Khorne Lord Zhufor from Forgeworld, that I got last year as a present. I did plan to make this model as just a terminator sorcerer, but with this model’s bolter/power fist, it made a great stand-in for Abaddon the Despoiler. It could also be used as a sorcerer, should I decide I don’t need a Talon of Horus and can make do with a twin bolter. However, seeing as it is a Khorne model, not Tzeentch, much had to change before any of this.

First off, the Khorne icons were removed from the model. Abbadon’s sword was cut from one of the old metal sorcerers in power armour. I added a baroque helmet from Evil Craft, and the shoulder-pads. From Maxmini, are reminiscent of the early days of the Thousand Sons, before treachery and tragedy trapped them into exile.

I decided to keep the skeleton, because it is a great piece and adds height to this model.

Alongside this lord is the ultimate transport, the Chaos Spartan. The one thing that had been putting me off completing this was making the eight Lascannons, and making them look good. Whilst I was satisfied with the ones made for the Fellblade, I wasn’t quite happy with them. I’ve changed a few things this time.

 Along the energy coils, I’ve added support struts, to suggest they are an older or more primitive build. To help with the overall look, I’ll be adding armoured covers much like on the plastic Land Raider.

I also added this old-looking spotlight from the Malcador. Spartans cannot have searchlights, but it is a neat piece, so I had to use it.

To finish off, here is a small conversion I did, to make use of a model I hadn’t found a use for yet. I added a Maxmini clockwork axe to this Chosen with Power Fist model from the Dark Vengeance box set. With some additional work, this could make a great sorcerer or even another Warpsmtih.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Pint-Sized 40k: Travel Wargaming (Part One)

War gaming is great, but it can be a little cumbersome. Last year I took my Thousand Sons with me to Wales for a game at GW: Cardiff. I must admit that it was a pain to bring with me on the train, alongside two suitcases. With that in mind, I wondered if there was a better way to get my gaming fix, without the bulky cases and heavy rulebooks. Whilst pondering, I have across this amazing project, and I decided there and then: I want a travel 40k set. I would use a magnetic travel game, like shown in the link, and use Warhammer 40,000: Epic models and squads.

However, with epic becoming out of print, and being very expensive on EBay, it seemed like a project that would be cancelled before even starting. But when I went on vacation this year, I struck literal gold. I visited ACME Games in Llandudno, Wales, to buy the Warlord Carrier I reviewed this week. Before leaving Wales, I decided to go back one more time. And what did I see on the counter? Bags of Epic Space Marines for sale, at ridiculously cheap prices.

I managed to bag 23 stands of Marines, 12 Rhinos, and ten Dreadnoughts, for the insanely low price of £2. Yes that’s right, £2. Result!

Sure, I don’t have much of a range, but that’s not important: this will be a simple pick-up set ideal for train journeys and airplane rides. Still, it does have potential, and I’ve already begin converting up some units.
Here, we have a Khorne Rhino for one of the teams (I may do a four gods ‘eye of terror’ style set). All I did was add a small Khorne icon from the Forsaken kit, cut in half with each half added to one of the roof hatches.

This next model is more intricate. I wanted to have some sort of battle tank, and a Vindicator seemed like a very easy conversion. I filed the front end flat, and added a short stubby gun barrel, made from plastic pipe. The calibre is a bit large, but then again it does make it easy to identify. A bit of trim was added to the front plate for detail.  I also shaved the roof hatches, so I can add a vent (make from a normal-scale Space Marine’s backpack vent.

This is only the beginning, but I expect to have a lot of fun with this. I've never worked with stuff this small, so it should be an interesting endeavour. Next on my to-buy list is a magnetic travel game to use as the board. If anyone can direct me to somewhere in the UK that sells cheap options, please feel free to comment below or on Facebook.