Welcome to the Studio

Welcome to BJC Mini Studio's blogsphere. Check out my new or past painting projects. Take a look at my battle reports for Warhammer 40K, Army Lists, and various Games Workshop goodness...and badness.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

PROJECT - Vanguard Champion Finished

Final shot of my Vanguard Champion.  Still not the best pic, but I'm happy with the paint job.

REVIEW - Terrain Pegasus Hobbies Construction Sets

Okay so earlier today I posted up my Terrain article on a few scratch built terrain pieces I made in search of some decent terrain for my kids and I to enhance our 40k time during our Thursday Night Dad vs Kids sessions. 

So while looking through the Warstore I found these little beauties.  The Hexaon and Platformer construction sets are distributed by Pegasus Hobbies, and imported to North and South America by IMEX.  Based on what I can find on the box, they are actually produced by a Russian company, though I haven't checked out the website as of yet.  Basically these are multi-part modular buildings.  The two pictured above are the "small" sets.  The Warstore has these and the larger versions in stock.  I paid $12.99 each so not bad in the grand scheme of things.

Now I haven't had the chance to mess around with the kits yet.  I did break them open and was pleasantly surprised at the level of detail on the sprues.  I'm going to work through the next few articles with the Hexagon set first as it allows for the creation of more of a "Station/Fort" kind of structure where as the Platformer kit builds more of what might be a landing platform (or at least that's how I'm going to build it).

As always I'll mount the structure on a piece of laminate flooring that I've cut up into various shapes that are perfect for terrain pieces.  Not sure how long this is going to take to put together.  According to the box, these are snap-fit pieces so technically no gluing should be required which would then allow for the hobbyist to disassemble and reassemble for a change of pace and allow for creating an entirely new piece of terrain.  I'm not going that way, I will be gluing the pieces together.  

So I broke open the Hexagon box and found the following:

First look - these really are amazingly detailed, the plastic is already a metallic color so if one were to choose not to glue them together then you'd have a nice metallic structure that wouldn't need paint to look good.  Obviously, being a painter, I have every intention of painting this structure, and adding my own flavor with some GW bits.  I'm thinking Ork bastion, but I'm not sure at this point.  Perhaps just an old Imperial way-station that has fallen to ruin.  Either way it will be more 40kish?

Instructions are pretty minimal, basically it shows you how the pieces (most everything is halved so you have to assemble the halves to get pieces that then snap together) fit together, but doesn't really give you a layout to build anything.  This is good and bad.  Good because it allows the hobbyist to get creative and build their own structure, bad as you have no general idea on where to begin.

That's it for now, if you've used these products before and have some links to your finished products let me know and I'll post them here pointing everyone to your site!


Project - Terrain

So I thought I'd spend some time talking about terrain today.  I'm REALLY not good at making terrain.  I've made more than a couple of attempts to make my own game board for the house only to have something go wrong with it and end up trashing a lot of wasted materials.  Really nice terrain or a really nice game board are while not essential to our hobby certainly important to the look and feel.

When the kids and I break out our 1" warriors we typically use pots, pans, the water cups we're drinking from during our gaming time as terrain.  This was getting pretty boring for us and that led me to look a little closer at getting some decent terrain for our Thursday night Dad vs. Kids sessions.  Why?  Well for starters, it's difficult to play some scenarios without terrain.  When looking for example at some of the Kill Zone scenarios you need to fill your game zone with typically 25-50% terrain.  Lets face it, you can only do so much with a couple of pots, a sugar container, and some water cups.

So back to getting creative...

Below are some pieces that I threw together, you see it finally dawned on me that I don't have to have a slick looking game "board" but I needed some decent looking terrain pieces to use on my 4x8 dining room table.  Our table is WAY  more than big enough for any number of sized games so what was truly missing is just some decent terrain pieces, pieces that are fairly simple to create with all of the totally awesome tutorials out there.  Not to mention, there are some great companies making terrain pieces out there that can easily be modified or added to to create some great pieces for your board.  So the next few posts will be on terrain.

Here are a couple of pieces I've put together.
First up is a ruined building.  It's basically some plasti-card cut into the two walls.  Now it's not cut as jaggedly as I would have liked, but it works for what I was looking for.  Then I just scattered some cork board around and created the concrete rubble.  The blast crater is a resin piece that I can't remember where I ordered from, but it came in a set of 5 so needless to say those will become additions.  Everything is mounted on a laminate floor tile I had left over from re-doing my floors so I cut up a piece into the basic shape I wanted and there you go.

Coloring is pretty straight forward, primed in gray then just worked the colors the way I wanted and for the most part I'm pretty happy with how this piece turned out.  Need to figure out adding more texture to the walls themselves, but there plenty of ideas sitting out on the net concerning adding the rough texture to the walls.  I may try the mixing sand with watered down PVA glue next time or maybe some textured paint.

The next piece is an objective marker I made.  It's based on one of the clear protectors that come at the bottom of a CD/DVD spindle.  From there I think I threw on some broken bases, plasti-card, and cork board pieces.  PVA glue and sand.  The "objective" part of the piece is a shrine made from some Space Marine bits and a cross that came from an old Reaper mini that never got painted.  Added in a teleport homer as well lets face it the piece works for any deepstrike scenario as well.  Nothing like making a piece multifunctional. 

Look for a new article coming up on reviewing some terrain pieces from a Pegasus Hobbies!


Monday, September 27, 2010

Project - Vanguard Champion

Thought I'd throw up a couple of shots of a Vanguard Champion I'm working on for my personal collection.

It's a slightly converted 2008 Games Day Captain mini I won as a prize for the Bartertown Sci-Fi painting competition.

  1. 2008 GD mini
  2. Dragonforge 40mm Hero base from the Lost Empires series.
  3. Pre-Heresy Jump Pack from Chapterhouse Studios
  4. Pre-Heresy Masked Helmet from Chapterhouse Studios
Painted up in my Flame Guardians color scheme.  Not 100% finished still have some minor details to work on:  Black needs highlighted, another Sunburst Yellow then Skull White layer on the Yellow particularly the Helmet and then the NMM (Non-Metallic Metal) on the shoulder pauldrons, then the wreath and jewel on the Right Leg needs finished.  I like Gold NMM I don't like Grey/Silver NMM much at all so I tend to combine the Gold NMM and Silver Metallics techniques because...I can.  ;-)

As always, thanks for looking.  Check back for the finished model in a couple of days.  I'll do a full write up on the coloring and the Yellow NMM though without pics on the next post.


Tutorial: Dragonforge Studios Hero Base

Okay as promised, here's a mini-tutorial on how I did the resin hero base from Dragonforge Studios.

So I ended up winning the Bartertown Sci-Fi Painting Competition and as compensation for placing first I won some cashola along with being able to choose a prize pack consisting of three items from a group of Bartertown advertisers.  One of those pics was a credit with Dragonforge Studios.  So I picked up some resin bases from Jeff and of course while shopping on his site ordered myself some additional goodies.

One of those was the Hero Base set from his Lost Empires range.  Absolutely love these sculpts, and price wise they beat anything being produced anywhere else.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a major fan of the Micro Art Studio bases, but Jeff has got my attention, favor, AND business with his bases.  See Jeff there's some more product pushing for you!  I highly recommend his products (more shameless advertising...) ;-)

So here's a Dragonforge shot of the base I'm working with done in his paint scheme.  I'm working with the larger 40mm base on the left for this tutorial.  For the most part I really liked the scheme that the studio used so I'm going to replicate it to a point.

I've got the model that is going to sit on this beast of a base as well. I picked up in my prize package the 2008 Games Day Space Marine Captain and the combination of the running pose with that big honkin' thunder hammer just screamed Vanguard conversion.  So obviously I must answer the inner call to convert a model.  Nice thing about that mini is the arms, and head are separate pieces so I can easily swap out the head for a nice Pre-Heresy Masked head from Chapterhouse Studios...SCORE!!!

Totorial Time!

Prep - Wash the model in cool soapy water and let dry overnight.  I use a brush-on priming technique for display quality models so I used Foundation Astronomicon Grey to prime the base, again let dry overnight then hit it again and then let that dry a couple of hours.  Ready to go!

First shot - Snakebite Leather used to base coat the tile surface and the statue face.  Make sure you get all the cracks and crevices. I used this straight from the bottle, no thinning down. I did only a single coat on this as I wanted some fading on the base coat for effect.

Second shot - I know odd that I'm using a Foundation as a secondary color instead of a base coat huh?  Well I never said I do things "normal".  Dry-brush of Tallarn Flesh - again straight from the bottle 2 layers of dry-brushing.

Third shot - Fairly heavy dry-brush of Bleached Bone (3-layers) again straight from the pot (NOTE - most of my dry-brushing is straight from the pot unless I'm going a "wet" brush technique at which point I think 1:1 with water).

Fourth shot - Light dry-brush with Skull White (1-layer) just over the edges to accentuate the lines.

Fifth shot - Dark Flesh straight from the pot, carefully hit the cracks between the tile and the statue head.  I did have to water this down a bit as this series of paint from GW was unusually thick.


Sixth shot - Seem to have lost some pics that or I fogot to shoot the progression stages for the Dark Flesh, however this is where i stared dry-brushing over the Dark Flesh and blended in some of the texture colors over the tiles and statue head.  In otherwords, once the Dark Flesh was fully dry from the first coat I took and wet-blended the stages of Bleached Bone and Skull White by taking a detail brush and adding a line of Dark Flesh along the borders of the Dark Flesh and the tile and statue head BEFORE beginning the dry-brushing of the lighter colors.  This created a nice effect along the borders.

So I forgot to take any pics of the progression of the final dry-brushing layers.  If you see in the "Sixth shot" the Enchanted Blue and the Vallejo Model Color (70857) Golden Olive.  The dry-brushing here was more a blotting technique to add some faded marbling to the stone.  I also used the Enchanted Blue in the circle on the tile floor.  Finally the Eyes were filled in with Black then highlighted to look like Opals and the jewel on the forehead of the face was done in a red jewel technique then a light dry-brushing of Bleached Bone was done over the jewel and eyes to depict dust covering.  Black border and a few coats of Matte and VIOLA!


Check back on the site to see what happened when I mounted the Vanguard Conversion!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Site Update

Hey folks,

I know it's been almost 2 weeks since any update.  Sorry about that.  Work took me away from my hobby for a bit just to come home to a fried hard drive on my main computer.  Working on a couple of nice tutorial updates, one of which will hopefully be posted on the Dragonforge Designs website as well.  Or at least the pics should be. 

So look for it coming soon, hopefully by the end of the week.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Interview - Bartertown.com Admins - Part 2 with Jim (porkuslime)

Okay continuing the interview done with Bartertown.com administrators Eric (MagikalMemories) and Jim (porkuslime) I have Jim's answers to the questions sent to them.

Here's how his answers went down:

BJC: How did you come to be associated with the site - as a user/trader and as an admin?

Jim: I started here in 2004. Looking for a site to try to reduce the amount of models I had at spousal urging, and I realized that I could swap stuff I had, for stuff I didn't have to buy! Used the site sporadically until 2007, when I got sucked back into 40k with the fabulous new Ork models.. and used the site to almost totally rebuild my addiction. Saw the Watch as a place to contribute to the site. Grew to know and appreciate Eric (who was always a shrinking violet, shy, not verbal.. and was able to coax him out of his shell). Realized that he and I were kindred soul-mates.. had a "bromance". As we did Watch duties, we talked a fair amount, and came to the realization that we had good ideas, and "fed" well off each other. We approached Lin as a team, and proposed that we be Mod staff.. partially cause Eric was ego driven and I have control issues. Lin thought we had promise, and did some staff shuffling. In fall 2008, we became Mods, and continued to mesh well. We found ourselves making calls, and being on-site far more than Lin, Adam or Morlock, and in early spring 2009 we again talked to Lin about being "Admin".. but since NEITHER Eric nor I felt like we could do it solo, and having "teamworked" so far in the past, we were jointly advanced.(portions of the prior paragraph were written with heavy sarcasm).

BJC: How would you describe the ideal of bartertown and its affect on the gaming community who use it?

Jim: Ideally, I think this site is close to where it is perfect. We have fabulous staff, who try to make our members feel safe and secure, dispensing advice and chastisement where needed. I would appreciate it if low-life scammers stay away, but understand that we are a big target .. we have 16k members, and that paints a big juicy sign that there might be "fruit to pick" for scam artists.

BJC: What do you think attracts the frugal gamer to choose a trading site over say ebay?

Jim: Well, the name of the site is Bartertown.. so I think it is because of Bartering. Yes, you can get deals off Ebay, but that is like buying from a store. No chance of talking the price down, or expanding on the current deal. BT supports a fluid process, where things can change as the members talk and hash things out. You cannot haggle with an Auction seller.

BJC: What would you consider to be "essential" trading etiquette?

Jim: Pictures. Excruciating descriptive text. Communication x4. So many deals can be sabotaged by NOT letting your partners know something .. be it delays in shipping, missing parts, etc. Some people stop communications because they are embarrassed, or because they worry about a negative feedback, or something trivial that COULD be worked around IF they talked it out. Timeliness in resolution. DON"T start a trade knowing that you have to move in a week.
BJC:  How do you spot a "scammer"?

Jim: For me, experience. Looking for key phrases or patterns. Eric hit the most common ones, but I think one thing that Eric missed, is "Trying to use other site references" Bartertown has a very good Trade Rating system.. and we like seeing our members use it for establishing trust. We do see, however, some folks saying things like "Check out my Ebay Feedback - email me for my account there". What can happen is they link to someone elses Ebay rating and pass it off as their own. No guarantee that the rating linked to is that persons account.

BJC: Why not charge for membership?

Jim: Why SHOULD we charge for it? We have good advertisers who fiscally support the site, it doesn't cost a heck of a lot to have a website nowdays.. and we are not in the buisiness of trading toys to make money ourselves. About the ONLY reason I have heard advanced is to stop spambots and scammers from registering. We have staff to deal with that, though.
BJC: Where do you see the bartertown site heading?

Jim: Upwards? Not sure how to answer that. We have a dedicated staff, gaming companies still make games, and people need/want a place to trade away stuff they don't want for stuff they do want. We have a committed membership.. sometimes very vocal membership.. and a lot of site updates and directions CAN be traced back to member input. Even one or 2 things might be Erics fault back from when he was a member.. 

BJC: If you could add or take away a feature from the site what would it be?

Jim: When registering for the site, I would LOVE to make Member Location mandatory. That is a software solution that Trademaster Adam is working on, as well as a "security" question to help strain out the spammers that hit the site occasionally. 

That concludes the interview.  I'd like to thank for Eric and Jim for taking time to answer my questions.  Gamers if you're not a member of Bartertown, then I highly recommend you hop on over there and join up.  It's FREE folks, and it's worth it.

Interview - Bartertown.Com Admins: Part I with MagikalMemories

Lets face it, there is a cost to participate in just about any hobby.  Even if your hobby is say jogging, you better believe you'll end up spending a good chunk of change on decent running shoes (if you don't you risk injury or spending lots on multiple pairs of cheap sneakers).  Warhammer 40k is no different.  I mean GW keeps raising prices and we're still going to the LGS or our favorite on-line retailer and dropping our hard earned $$$$$ on little plastic or metal men.  So what's a gamer supposed to do?  Some sites out there offer anywhere from 10-30% off GW's retail - AWESOME!  Then there's eBay where the frugal buyer can take their chances on picking up anywhere from an oop MkI Landraider that has a horribly gooped on paint job or individual minis still in their blister.  But lets face it, eBay?  Really?  Is that the best we can do?

Enter the topic of Trading!  WOOT!

Trading communities have been around since the dawn of time.  Before man was printing and minting the "coin of the realm" they were trading, and bartering for what they needed.  I remember when I lived in Korea both as a kid and then a service member heading off base into the local shops where NOTHING was purchased for what it was originally priced.  Same process occurred when I was in Ethiopia when we adopted our youngest.  Barter is everything there and if you don't barter you actually offend the shop keepers.  It's part of the culture.  LOVE IT!!

So trading communities are out there, but there's really only one site I've found that is totally dedicated to this aspect of our hobby.  Yes there is trading going on within sites like Dakka-Dakka, Bolter and Chainsword, and Rogue Trader, but these are GAMING sites where trading goes on.  Their primary purpose is to eat, sleep, and talk GAMING not TRADING.  I'm talking about a community who deals primarily in TRADING.  That site is Bartertown.

I've been a member of Bartertown (user=iPAINTminis) since April of 2004 and I can't tell you how much $$$$$ I've saved.  Not to mention advice on gaming (again it's a TRADING site, but we're still GAMERS).  It's also been a source of clients for many years for the studio, no matter what name I'm running it under this year.  Two of my clients (past and present) are site administrators Eric (MagikalMemories) and Jim (porkuslime) and I spoke with Jim about the possibility of doing an interview with him and Eric about B-Town (as it's commonly known), trading, and the trading community in general.

Below is what transgressed via myself, Eric (MagikalMemories).  Due to the length of the post Jim (porkuslime) will be posted as a seperate entry.

BJC: How long has Bartertown.com been operating?

Eric: Fourteen years. Started in 1996.

BJC: How did it come about?

Eric: It was a college project of Adam Tobia (TrademasterAdam) that went on to have a life of it's own.

BJC: How did you come to be associated with the site - as a user/trader and as an admin?

ERIC: In 2002, I was becoming a regular on the forums over at castlemolds.com. Someone posted a link to here in a thread over there on trading. I visited the site and was instantly hooked. I was just starting into wargaming at that time.

Eventually, after establishing myself as a presence on the forums, I was made a Watchman. A few months later, I became a Moderator. Maybe 6 months after that, Jim (Porkuslime) and I approached Lin. We knew the site needed more Admin staff. We made some suggestions, but nobody was interested/had the time/etc. Jim and I were both willing, but we knew what the new Admin had ahead of him. Neither of us had the time to handle it all. So, we both volunteered, provided we were promoted as a "package deal."
The rest, as they say, is history.

BJC: How would you describe the ideal of bartertown and its affect on the gaming community who use it?

Eric: I'd say that the ideal Bartertown was one that offered a complete package for it's members. One that had forums specifically for trading and some just for "discussions." Not as large as the larger "discussion" forums out there, but enough to offer some diversity.

Then, of course, there are the obvious things. A site where scammers and dishonest traders stayed away would be wonderful. 

The effect I'd love to see is, essentially, an extension of what we have already. Because we are diligent about promoting kindness and respect amongst our members (flaming, trolling and general disrespect are immediately addressed and dissuaded), our more active members tend to feel a true sense of community. Though most of us never have met each other -and, likely, never will- we feel a certain bond of friendship. Because we typically operate in a respectful manner with each other, we can really get past some of the more annoying factors of the internet.

BJC: What do you think attracts the frugal gamer to choose a trading site over say ebay? 

Eric: What doesn't?
To begin with, trade sites are more personal than feebay ever will be. You can have a nice, drawn out conversation with your trade partner during the entire bartering/haggling process. You can get to know people & form bonds. Auction sites are so sterile & impersonal.
"Buy item."
"Send money."
"Receive item."
There's absolutely nothing personal about that transaction.

Also, you will come out better on average with a trade site than with an auction site. Rare and LE items might have a better showing at auction sites. Your average item, though, will do better for you when trading. You just get a better final result, typically. People who are trading are often more willing to give up more goods that they have for goods that they want. With cash, which has a broader range of uses, they tend to hold on tighter, though.

BJC: What would you consider to be "essential" trading etiquette?

Eric: Communication.
You cannot communicate too often or too clearly.
Delayed? Tell your trade partner.
Completed haggling? Send a message with the full terms spelled out to eliminate confusion/miscommunication. Assumption is your enemy.
Ask a lot of questions. "Good condition" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.
When you do communicate, do so honestly and with complete disclosure. Don't leave out any details or questions.

BJC: How do you spot a "scammer"?

Eric: There are as many ways to spot scammers as there are scammers.
Without giving away any "trade secrets," I'll share a few of the more common tactics that scammers use. Please note that, though scammers use these tactics, NOT EVERYONE WHO DOES THESE ARE SCAMMERS.

"Too good to be true." If it looks like it, it probably is. A Bird in the hand is worth a bird in the hand. The two in the bush might not actually be birds. : )

"New trader doesn't trust established traders." This is the most common thing we see in trading, both with scammers AND legitimate traders. Sometimes, people are just worried. They don't know you and don't know they can trust you. Other times, they pretend to be new traders who feel that way. This works most often against low rated or unrated traders.

"Has everything you are looking for." Some gamers DO have a lot of stuff. Sometimes, though, you're just being told what you want to hear.

"Item traded multiple times." If he listed one Forgeworld Dreadnought in his ad, and you find out that you and one or more other people all bought/traded for that item, presume the worst. It's my experience that people will list everything they have for trade. If he had 3 copied of taht Dreadnought, he'd have listed them.

Keep yourself up to date with the "Bad Traders" of the forum you choose to trade on. Any site with trades should keep some sort of forum or list dedicated to people who have had verifiable complaints lodged against them. Until you're relatively familiar with your surroundings, look in that place for EVERYONE you're trading with. There is no excuse for not being diligent.

Look at feedback/references. Again, sites that offer trades should have some sort of system in place to track the trades of it's members. Serial Bad Traders should be avoided, if you are not seasoned enough to instinctively know how to protect yourself.

ASK. Contact a site Moderator or Admin and ask for his input or advice regarding your trade partner if you're unsure.

BJC: Why not charge for membership?

Why charge for membership?
It's not hugely expensive to run a web site.

If you have advertisers, then they likely pay enough to keep the site running. If not, then you're doing something wrong. Either you are charging too little, or you aren't offering advertisers enough incentive to spend their money with you.
If you don't have advertisers then, perhaps, a voluntary donation system might help.

On our site, though, we offer enough benefits to our advertisers that they keep the site free for use. We don't want to make money off of our members. We want to provide the best trade site we possibly can to foster a safe, fun trading environment.

That is something we can definitely do without charging a membership fee.

9) Where do you see the bartertown site heading?

Eric: Downhill fast. I mean, MY GOD! They put me & Jim in charge! : ) LOL

Seriously, though... I see it heading nowhere but up. We're constantly reexamining ourselves to see how we could be doing better. We have a highly active moderating staff who constantly polices the site to keep it fun and safe. We value the input of our members. Every change is posted for opinions. Everything. Sometimes, it's more of a notification but, on a number of occasions, member input has actually changed the way we do things.

We've got a lot of momentum right now, and we're not letting go.

BJC:  If you could add or take away a feature from the site what would it be?

Eric: One thing I hope to see added soon is a "Zero reference feedback" option. Right now, a positive reference adds 2 to your rating, a negative is -10, and a neutral adds 1. I'd like to see neutral changed to 0, or a fourth option added that would show up in the member's reference list, but not be reflected in his score.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Project - Deathwatch Rhino

So in continuing my work on Bartertown Admin porkuslime's "Deathwatch" project, he requested me to paint up a squad of Sniper Scouts and a Rhino for one of his Sternguard squads.  Haven't finished the scouts yet but I've put most of the final touches on the Rhino and thought I'd show it off.

Jim (porkuslime) had some custom doors and front made for this guy.  "Pyriel-" from dakka did them up for him and he did a fantastic job.  May have to order a few myself in the future.  Fun to paint, simple yet elegant.  In the original models I painted for him, he requested no mud/grime or wear and tear, or battle damage so I took that queue and did the same thing for the rhino.  Very simple paint job, with minimal colors.  Jim's an OSU fan so the color scheme (I hope) meets his desired affect.  To quote:

"wow.. and drool.. " - Jim (porkuslime)

Let me know what you all think!


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review - ULTRAMARINES Movie - Trailer1

As most have seen, the trailer for the Ultramarines Movie is out floating around the net.  As with most who've reviewed the trailer I too have mixed emotions about it.


Okay I understand they are a first founding chapter, I understand Codex Space Marines is based off of their Primarch's teachings.  But...But...C'mon!  The smurfs?  Really.  The Smurfs?

Rant about the chosen chapter done.  So onto the actual review.  So you get a minute and thirty-seven second clip of the movie for the trailer, it's dark, it's dreary, it's gothic...it's 52 seconds of smoke and shadows before you get a cut shot of a battlebarge.  Now a very cool looking battlebarge, and slick shot of a thunderhawk.

They what, a 10,000 year old veteran?  "It isn't combat I resent brother, it's the thirst for glory that gets men cut to ribbons."  Okay I do like the quote, and as a combat veteran myself, I respect the quote.  But - C'mon this guy may be genetically engineered but could he really go into battle?  Is there an auto-lift chair to help him up in his armor?  Still cgi looks good, then the hot lead starts to fly, yeah now we're talking...

Loved all the Heavy Bolter goodness, but to be honest here's where the cgi started to waver.  I've seen better cgi with Dawn of War or the World of Warcraft cut scenes.  Even then, what's with the one-shot-one-kill scenes?  Isn't ceremite armor supposed to be like oh I don't know...strong!  Who was shooting?  Who were the enemies taking out some of the Emperor's finest with a single shot?

Biggest problem I had - 52 seconds of smoke and mirrors, 26 seconds of actual action, 19 seconds of wasted text.  Seriously, what a rip-off trailer.

Still I'm excited about the movie, just wish the production company would have put a little more effort into giving the fans a decent trailer.  C'mon bump that trailer time up and give us something quality to salivate over.

Okay ranting done...


Review - Killzone - HECK YEAH!!!


This is all the buzz right now on many of the 40K blog sites so I thought I'd throw in my $0.02 of 40k bloggy goodness.  Similar to what Fritz40k is striving for with his 750 point list challenge, Big Jim over at Galaxy in Flames and the guys who worked with him to develop "Special Operations: Killzone" are striving to bring the skirmish back into 40K and ignite what I think will be a new level of interest in the small point games.

So lets see/hear those Killzone lists!

I haven't had a chance to get in a Killzone game yet, hoping to get something in later this week or weekend, but reading through the rules it's pretty straight forward.  You will need your specific army codex, and a copy of the 5th Edition 40k rules as well.

One of the things I found most interesting are the Special Wargear upgrade options for units.  Things like Refractor Fields (give your Team Leader one of these bad boys for a5+ invulnerable save), Suspensors (Heavy Weapon bonus - Relentless but half the range if they move), and the Targeter (team member adds +1 to all shooting hit roles if he doesn't move) are my personal favs.

Basic principle is that you can play the scenarios as individual skirmishes or run though the campaign creating a "Tall" tale story-line.  I like the concept, and it just screams FanFiction write up.

So here's the Flame Guardian's Killzone list, I will more than likely work with existing models from my Show Project for this list for the time being, but

Team Alpha - 248 Points
    • Sternguard SGT - Storm Bolter, CCW, Frag & Krak Grenades, Reactor Field
    • Sternguard Vet - Combi-Plasma, BP, Frag & Krak Grenades
    • Tactical SGT - Power Fist, BP, Frag & Krak Grenades
    • Tactical Squad - Bolter x 5, Heavy Bolter x 2
    Team Beta - 248 Points
      • Sternguard SGT - Bolt Pistol, Dual PW (counts as dual LC), Frag & Krak Grenades, Reactor Field
      • Assault SGT - PW, BP, Frag & Krak Grenades, Melta Bombs
      • Assault Marine - Flamer
      • Tactical Squad - Bolter x 4, Flamer x 2
      So come on folks,  lets see those lists!


      Friday, September 3, 2010

      Review - Horus Heresy Era Bits

      There's something about making that perfect unit for your army that leads us all to go out and try to come up with something unique and interesting to model and convert.  That ignition in our souls so to speak that sparks the flame of creativity to so something different, something no one has seen before (or at least no one in our immediate gaming community).

      So where does that creatively driven gamer go to quench that need?  Well if your Google-Fu is strong enough, there's quite a few places really.  So I had that bug hit me, and of course I'm first a modeler/painter so obviously if I'm building something unique for myself I'm going all out!  My Flame Guardians project is somewhat built around those type of unique units.  Probably the key unit in that army (you'd think it would be the Kantor HQ right...) is my Uber-Vanguard unit.  The fully decked out PW, PF, and TH heavy Fast Attack unit needed something more than the metal GW models, or a bunch of plastic Assault Marines all armed with power weapon goodness.  I wanted these guys to stand out, yes that usually means that the pretty unit will be the first unit that my opponent will focus on, but that can be a good thing.

      ***insert hypnotic voice here*** Focus on the pretty, pretty, shiny NMM goodness and conversions while my two units of Sternguard Vets and Kantor take and hold your objectives and destroy your tanks... ***end hypnotic voice***

      What to do, what to do....

      Heresy Era Bits Conversions!!!  YESSSSSSS!!!!!

      There are a few options out there, and I'm going to focus on two sites and their bits specifically.  For my Uber-Vanguard unit I decided I wanted to portray a unity that represented a very specialized group of Space Marine Heros.  Sure the 1st Company gets the Terminator Armor, but what about those who are considered the creme-de-la-creme of the Assault Marines...So were born the Flame Guardians Honored Ones!

      I've always like Assault squads, and of course one can run Shrike and get some cool Infiltrate goodness with an assault unit.  Nothing like having Shrike and a 10-man assault squad just "pop" up behind enemy lines. Ahhh, Good Times!  But I digress.

      So I wanted my Honored Ones to have a pre-Heresy or Heresy look and feel to their armor.  I didn't want to do a lot of sculpting (cause I suck at it) and I knew that there were some great conversion bits out there.  When you combine those with regular Assault Marines bits or BA Death Company Legs you can achieve some pretty slick looking Vanguard Vetrans.

      The options I considered were from Chapterhouse Studios and MaxMini.  Both have their strong points, and weak points.  Personally I do wish I would have gone a bit of a different route than the one I did, and I may consider doing up a few additional models with a few different bits to add some additional options to the unit.

      First up the bits options from MaxMini:

      I love the look of the Heresy Era Turbine Jet packs.  They just plain look better than the GW plastic JP's and though the metal ones that come with the Vanguard Models or the Chappy look good with the chains and such, I just haven't liked the casts I've gotten in the past.  Now the ones from MaxMini are nice but there's just something about them that kept throwing me off.  Probably the flaps around the air input part of the turbine.  You be the judge...

      The detail on the packs is great though, but like I said there's just something about the packs that kept trowing me off.  Cost wise they are pretty reasonable considering you'll be ordering them from the UK.  For 5 Jump Packs you'll be out 5.65 Euros or $7.25 plus shipping of 3.00 Euros or $3.85.  So $11.10 for 5 Heresy Era Jump Packs.  Actually not all that bad.  Of course I am running a squad of 10 Vanguard Vets, so I would have to tack on an additional $7.25 for the additional 5 packs.  So $18.35 for 10.  Again, not all that bad for what you get.  Now I did not order these.

      I'm a big fan of the Black Templar MK2 Helmet, but again for my Honored Ones I wanted something unique and different for the look and feel of the unit.  MaxMini also offers what they call their Steam Knight heads.  These are simply AWESOME in their Heresy Ere goodness.  Dang shame I didn't go with these, and I truly wish I would have.  I love the detail in these helmets, and they are really perfect for the look/feel of the unit.  Again, I didn't go with these, and wish I would have. Cost for the Steam Knights is again the same as the Jump Packs.  Comes to $7.25 for the 5 heads.  My personal favs are 1 and 4.  Really don't like number 3 in the picture.

      Now onto the ones I did go with.  Not that I regret what I went with, I just wish I'd have seen the Maxmini Steam Knights FIRST.  Then of course I would have had to pay shipping from two locations though.

      Next up is Chapterhouse Studios' Horus Heresy Era bits.

      I personally like the Turbine Jump Packs from Chapterhouse better than the MaxMini ones.  They just had the look I wanted and didn't have that silly flap on the input part of the turbine.  These do have the vent flap, but at a more logical location at the bottom of the turbine, though I did choose to leave these off of my final models.  I also prefer the fact that in comparison to the Maxmini JPs the turbines point inward and not out.  From the perspective of jet flight, the outward pointing turbines from Maxmini just don't look right.  Again, that's personal preference.

      Now these bits ARE more expensive than the Maxmini Jump Packs.  At $10.00 for five and $5.00 for shipping they come out to costing a bit more ($25.00 for 10 with shipping) than the Maxmini Jump Packs.  Again, you get what you pay for and I'm MORE than satisfied with the Chapterhouse Studios' bits.

      So what about Heresy Era heads you say?  Well Chapterhouse has two options for the heads, and to be honest, while I like them, I still wish I'd have gone with the Maxmini Steam Knights.  The options are Spikey or Masked.  Both are very detailed, but only come in a set of 4 vs. the 5 Steam Knights from Maxmini.  Again, not a big deal, though at the same time kind of falls into the "doesn't make sense" due to the fact that at the very minimum one needs 5 heads to make a Combat Squad and I needed 10 heads to make my Vanguard.  Not a huge issue since I used a Sergeant Chronus head for my Champion meaning I only needed 9, so a quick conversion to a Beaky Head got me to my 8.

      I really didn't like the Spikey headed bits.  They would make a great Chaos conversion, especially for those building an army that had just fallen to chaos, or was perhaps in the process of falling and you had those marines who were beginning to adorn their armor with additional "trinkets" but for the look of my Honored ones they didn't do it for me.  I did think of getting them though and just filing off the spikes because I like the overall look/feel of the bits.

      I chose to use their Masked heads.  I like the look/feel of them and I think they work great as Assault Marine heads as the rebreathers just look darn cool.  Again, the problem being was that they only come 4 in a set instead of 5.  I contacted Nick on this logic, and was told that at the time the sculptor did only a set of 4 instead of 5.  Per Nick: "Mainly because at that time the sculptor decided to do a set of 4,  pretty much I have set that number to 5 now :)".  This is the set I chose to go with and I'm for the most part happy with that decision.

      Cost for the  heads is $3.75 for a set of 4 heads.  Shipping is still $5.00 so with 2 sets (what I ordered) that came to $12.50 for 8 heads.  Comparatively speaking this is cheaper than going with the Maxmini heads as even if one was to order 3 sets, the shipping would still be only $5.00 (still high for padded envelops) leaving the total for 12 heads at $16.25 vs. $18.35 for 10 heads from Maxmini.

      I don't have one of the Vanguard finished that has the Heresy Head, but here is the Uber-Vanguard Champion (SGT) done up in all his nicey, niceness.  As i said before I decided not to use the vent flaps on the jump packs. Not that they necessarily looked bad, I just didn't like them. They come as a metal add-on and work great as mixing bits in your paint pots though.  ;-)

      There are other sites out there for these type of bits.  Lots of business are getting into the resin conversion bits business and as I said, if your Google-Fu is strong enough you're sure to find what you're looking for.  I do recommend Chapterhouse Studios and Maxmini though.  Awesome products and again, yes you're going to pay for them, you're going to pay more than if you just go with what GW has, but you get what you pay for and if you want character, uniqueness, and something different then you've got to go out there and do it.

      So have some fun with your army.  It's not always about building that perfect list, that unbeatable army.  It's about having FUN, it's about flexing the proverbial brush muscles and building/converting/painting the army that you're going to enjoy.

      Let me know what you've done to make your army unique to your taste!


      Special Project - Custom Resin Bases

      So a few weeks ago The LeadHead did up a really nice tutorial on creating and casting your own resin bases.  See that tutorial here.  That tutorial really inspired me, and may eventually lead me to adding something on the BJC MiniStudio site with selling custom bases, though I have no desire to fully entire that world or compete with one of my favorite producers of such bases - Dragonforge Designs.  So in otherwords, don't count on me entering the custom resin bases business anytime soon.

      So this isn't a tutorial, and this isn't a plug for my site, and this isn't me telling ANYONE it's okay to copy someone else's work and make money off of it.  THAT IS ILLEGAL!!! 

      Now that being said.

      I love the look of a well based army, especially if said bases AND said army are fully painted.  Good resin bases can get very costly.  Lets face it, the average cost of 5 MicroArtStudio bases are $6.99 for a pack of 5.  And let me tell you I've paid it, and probably would/will continue to pay it.  Their products are simply stunning and the quality is superb.  Similarly Dragonforge Designs products are equally superb, and of course you get more bang for your buck so to speak at 10 bases for $10.00.  There are of course other sites out there producing most are fairly simple - add some sand to a blank, make a mold, Viola - custom resin base for sale.  Some produce a better quality, bigger rocks, cork rocks, sculpted rocks.  BaseContacts does some nice bases and resin terrain there you can get a pack of 10 25mm bases for $6.99.  Still I prefer the Dragonforge or MAS bases.

      That being said, custom basing for your army will get costly no matter whom you choose to use.  So LeadHead's tutorial led me to experiment with casting my own bases.  Yes I DID RECAST some MAS bases to finish out my army.  I paid for their bases, they were my property to do with as I saw fit, and I DID recast a couple as a test for the process and to finish out MY army.  I WILL NOT offer these bases out to anyone whom I do commission work for as a custom base option.  That would be ILLEGAL and UNETHICAL and takes away income from them.  However, the process of  creating a mold, and then casting the resin bases, DID show me just how EASY it is to do your own.

      Now that doesn't put down any of the companies who make quality resin bases.  the MAS and Dragonforge bases are of superior quality, and though the casting process is fairly easy, and once the molds are done resin is REALLY  cheap.  The process of making the originals can be pretty time consuming, ergo costly to the designer in time.  So while I don't like the over all cost of basing an army with MAS bases, I can see why it adds up.

      Still, I can say this.  I will be making my own originals probably from now on because overall process is pretty easy.  Check back for updates to "Special Project - Custom Resin Bases" for the progress on my own designs.