Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dawn of the Airbrush

 It's been a busy month at chez Chickhammer. I started a fantastic new job and I've found a new love- the airbrush. A woman has needs, don't judge.

Just playing around.
 I've been working on a Dark Angels commission (largely Ravenwing Bikers) and the client had an airbrush which he kindly let me borrow. I used it for ten minutes and I was in love. I base coated the entire fleet (I say fleet because there's like 50 of them) in a little over half an hour.

Base coated!
 I decided to make the bikes a very dark grey and the power armor legitimately black, to create a little bit of contrast. I thought all black everything just looked incredibly flat. The airbrush was immensely helpful in this endeavor. I managed to do all the dark grey and the white with the airbrush, after some masking off at least.

 Then they were ready to start the brush work.


 I had a little bit of an issue with overspray with the white, but not nearly as much as I had expected. It's so unfortunate that these are largely Dark Vengeance models, because those jerks are attached to their bikes. Makes it a lot harder to airbrush them.

 Fortunately, I also have a bunch of Black Knights to do and they are blessedly separate pieces. I've gotten a good bit of them done so far and I can't wait to start working on the Apothecary. Looking forward to the challenge of the white on him.

 This airbrush has really changed my entire outlook on painting. It's going to save me a ton of time, and can do things I haven't even begun to try. I can't wait to see what other amazing things I can get done with the airbrush. My initial thoughts turn to Smaug...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Raging Heroes TGG Freebie Rewards

About 2 years back, Raging Heroes launched their Toughest Girls of the Galaxy Kickstarter. It was scheduled to deliver last year, but due to its wild popularity, it has been delayed. They simply were unable to produce that volume of miniatures in the allotted time. There are worse problems to have, I'm sure. A lot of people have received minis already, but I opted to wait for one whole shipment, so I had none. Until now!


Raging Heroes has just launched a new Kickstarter, for Sisters of Eternal Mercy, Lust Elves, and Dark Elves, each in Sci-Fi and Fantasy versions. They felt terrible about starting a new one before finishing delivery of their first (though I understand their motivations), so they decided to ship out the first Kickstarter's freebie minis to everyone who backed the project for free.

I was already ecstatic about their new Kickstarter TGG2 (go check it out, there is still time to back it through Paypal even though the campaign is over) but now I've actually received my freebies from the first one. Well, it's actually been about two weeks since they arrived, I am woefully behind on posting this.

They are SO wonderful, I can't wait to get all the Sisters of Eternal Mercy in the current project. There were 14 freebies in all, 11 ladies and 3 mascots. All the freebies came in resin, though you could select metal or resin for the other rewards. I opted to risk getting them all in resin (mystery resin can be really hit or miss, usually miss). But I am so glad that I did, because they're stunning.


The details are crisp and they look even better in person than they did in the images they've shared with us, or in these images either.

Faceless Mother, front.
Faceless Mother, back.
I just pulled out just a few to photograph, but there's a lot more. How could I possibly choose which one to paint first?


 Particularly charming are the mascots for each of the three factions. They also included mascots for the factions in TGG2 as well. Harry the baby hippo might be my favorite.

Like so many other projects, these are sadly sitting in the painting queue. I'm knee-deep in Ravenwing bikers right now but as soon as they're finished it will be time for some personal projects.

I'm a little behind because I got a new job (yay!!) and I'm busy trying to wind down with old clients and ramp up with new ones. But this new job means more money (aka more minis) and more free time to spend with said minis. The best of all possible outcomes, really.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Adepticon 2015: Saga Grand Melee

Last, but certainly not least, was the Saga Grand Melee that I think I was looking forward to the most. I had a smashing time playing Saga at Adepticon the year before, and this one had the promise of being even more awesome. Partially because I knew it would be bigger, but mostly because it was an officially sponsored Saga Grand Melee.


Gripping Beast, the makers of Saga, have sponsored some Grand Melees across the pond, but this was the first one in the States. They gave all players a really cool tournament blister pack that included a special Warlord figure, event-exclusive fatigue markers, and a special kite-shield decal.We also received an incredibly swanky event shirt and event pub glass, which they even filled with beer for us. What's not to love?

I opted to take Casey's Vikings instead of my own Bretons for purely practical reasons- they're a much smaller army. His 6 points of Vikings takes up about a quarter of the space my fully mounted Breton army does. I'm sorry my boys had to stay home, but because I flew out to Chicago, space was a serious issue.


It also wasn't heart breaking because I've fallen out of love with my Bretons. I never really got into their play-style. Now with the changes in Crescent and Cross to mounted figures, they take a fatigue if they end their move in terrain, they're even less appealing. Several scenarios are terrain-related, and they can't go into buildings either, so it's just not an ideal tournament army.

The Vikings didn't do as well as their Space Viking counterparts, but I had a blast playing with them. I went 1-2 for the tournament. I took a Valkyrie as my Walord, 2 points of Warriors, 3 points of Hearthguard, and 1 point of Berserkers. Those guys can really jam, too.  I enjoyed their play style so much that I am seriously considering starting a Viking army.


The terrain they had was amazing. Lots of pieces by 4Ground, which have some fantastic thatched roof huts and the like, but also some custom made pieces. The terrain was largely put together by Eric Hagen who was one of the organizers of the event. He made this piece which I thought was particularly lovely.


He also put together this one absolutely stunning Great Hall table, just for fun, and had his own army hanging out on it.



The organizers definitely put a ton of time and thought into the event, and they did a fantastic job. We had some fun scenarios, and they added in one from Crescent and Cross, too, which was new to me. I haven't played any of those scenarios yet, save for the one in the final round of the event.

I wish I had been able to play both days of the tournament, it was on Friday and Saturday with 3 games on each. But the 40k Friendly took up my whole Friday. Everyone I played was a lot of fun, and I'd love to have doubled that enjoyment.

 Lastly I'd like to mention how fantastic the prize support was. First, that big great hall in the last photo? One of those was a raffle prize. It's humungous. I also won a raffle prize, which was a lovely set of acrylic measuring sticks for a Crusaders army.


I have been talking about doing a Crusaders army, too, so I think this is probably a kick in the pants to get to it! But the call of the Vikings may be too strong.


This is Part 4. Also see:
Part 1: Adepticon 2015 Recap
Part 2: Hobby Seminars
Part 3: 40k Friendly

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Adepticon 2015: 40k Friendly

Tournament scene got you down? Tired of aggressive power gamers and unfun net-lists? Do you actually want to enjoy your games and the company of your opponent? Then Adepticon's 40k Friendly is the event for you. I've never had a better time at a 40k event. Ever.

They gave us colored sashes, which denoted what team we were on. I was team blue! We got team points for game points, and for earning badges. Some badges were earned for doing certain things in games, others were given out for "sillier" reasons, such as the Jameson badge I earned for enjoying some libations during the event.


We did some silly things in between rounds, too, including a pie eating contest and a parade where ran around the 40k GT Championship games, singing about how much fun we were having. Oh, and they gave us bandanas to wave around, too. They also had a drinking contest between the team captains and we came up with a team chant.

The theme was Friendly the 13th. We had a Crystal Lake in the center of each table, and the scenarios all involved Jason trying to hurt us in some fashion. The last game was the most fun, because not only were you battling your opponent, you were also fighting off Jason himself!

My Rune Priest won ;-)
My first game was fun, but a bit of a blow-out. Not only did I get max points for primary and secondary, but my opponent didn't even get bonuses for badge scenarios. My first tabling! And in the Friendly, of all events. I did bring a *few* Thunderwolves... eight is only a few, right?

The second game was even more enjoyable, though, because we got paired up with a teammate and played a two-on-two game. That was right fun, especially since I got paired with the Blue team captain who had Dark Angels. We, of course, had our honorary Wolf vs. Angels duel between champions first.

We won that game, too. Two wins in a row? I was officially on a hot streak. The final game we played was one-on-one again, sort of. They gave us a Jason who had rules, and could move, and wanted to (surprisingly) attack us. Some people were killing him over and over again (he kept getting back up!) but we weren't as successful.


We only ended up killing Jason once, but I scored points for the killing blow. We tied on the Primary mission, but I won on secondaries. It didn't occur to me until I was telling someone about the event later, but I actually went 3-0, undefeated. I've been playing for 5 years and I've never managed that until now!

Pink team ended up coming away with the win overall. I guess the rest of my team wasn't quite on the same hot streak I was. But win or lose overall, the event was absolutely fantastic. Just hours and hours of laughing and carrying on and enjoying the game.

I ended up with about 14 badges.
If at all possible, I want to play at the Friendly again next year. It was such a unique and fun experience. Things are a little all up in the air now (I just got a new job, am moving in the next few months, etc) so I don't know if I can make it out just yet. But if I can, you can bet I'll be showing up for the Friendly. I really recommend trying it at least once.

This is Part 3. Also see:
Part 1: Adepticon 2015 Recap
Part 2: Hobby Seminars
Part 4: Saga Grand Melee

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Adepticon 2015: Hobby Seminars

At Adepticon, I leveled up so much as a painter. I put skill points into weathering, glazing, and freehand. I'm looking forward to using these new techniques. I certainly have no shortage of miniatures to try them on either.

The first class I took was the freehand seminar with Jessica Rich. She gave us a mini with a cloak said we were going to paint fleur de lis on it. I was skeptical but the result was spectacular. Here's how mine came out:


I'm really proud of it. I made them a little too close together but the effect still works because I managed to space them evenly. It looked a little fake when I first finished, two quick glazing coats later it looked brilliant.

She broke it down for us into little steps and it made an otherwise complicated image surprisingly easy to do. A great way to kick off the con, this was my first event.
 
The second class I took was a weathering class with Todd Swanson. This one was a blast, too. We started with just a foot, basically, and he showed us how to shade it effectively, and then added rust on top. He gave a us a great set of handouts, too.

Eventually, my foot ended up looking like this:


I was a little floored by how well he came out, considering it was all new stuff and we didn't have a whole lot of time. I  definitely spent the most time trying to blend the highlights and shadows into the thing. After that, the rust effects were devilishly simple to do.

Later, I took two different classes about competition painting, one geared toward getting the best army score taught by Caleb Wissenback and the second was about painting competitions by Kirill Zhilkov.

Caleb showed us James Wappel's fantastic Lizardmen army, and using some interesting placement techniques, helped us see how something as simple as how you present your models on the display board can make a huge impact on your score. He even took a look at my Space Wolves and gave me some tips on them, so no more getting a 30 paint score at the NOVA Open for me!

Kirill's class had some very similar points, but was all geared toward entering competitions. He had some fantastic advice about sketching out your concept and considering what you want to go for before actually starting to work. It actually made me feel a little bad for not finishing my Crystal Brush entry, because I think I could have gotten a lot of constructive feedback.

The last class I took was on Sunday, a glazing class taught by Rhonda Bender. We go a lovely Dark Sword miniature to work on, but I actually brought a mini with me that was mostly finished so I could concentrate just on the glazing and not worry about painting up the base colors and highlight first. 

I was able to master the consistency, getting the right paint to water ratio. That was clearly my problem when trying this on my own, I was going just too thin. It make it difficult for me to see any results without lots of layers.With a better ratio, I did a nice colorshift on a tabard from tan to pink.

All in all, I highly, highly recommend taking any of these classes if you get a chance in the future. I'm a little tempted to skip games entirely and just go full tilt into painting classes at the next con I attend.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adepticon 2015 Recap!

Come and gone yet again. It went by so fast. As last year, I had an amazing time at Adepticon. There was so much to see and do, and I know missed a ton of stuff, too, despite my best efforts.

It was held at a new venue, the Schaumburg Convention Center. This place is quite larger than the Westin, laid out better for the con, and the hotel was fancy as all get out. How fancy, you ask? So fancy that the bathroom mirrors were also televisions. Television mirrors. I felt like I was living in the future.

Swank.

I don't travel a whole lot, but this is the fanciest place I've ever stayed. Unfortunately, the food prices were reflective of that. The bar, the restaurant, and even the concessions set up in the con were all much pricier than I anticipated. I didn't have a car, so I ended up spending more on food than I intended. However, the draft beers at the bar were $6, and that was awesome because I was expecting it to be more like $9.

As expected with a change of venue, there were some hiccups- lack of signage, mostly- but what an improvement over last year. The flow was much better, bottlenecks didn't really happen, and there was so much more room in the vendor hall. They probably could have put a few more vendors in there, even.

As part of the VIG badge, I got early access to the vendor hall. There wasn't anything in particular I was dying to get except the Forgeworld event-only model. And they didn't even have him! Post office delayed him until later in the day, so I was able to pick him up later. I also picked up Konrad Curze.

I feel like I might have missed out on some of the VIG perks, only because this was my first year having it. I didn't know about the early access to the vendor hall until I saw a random tweet about it. No idea what else I might have missed, but I sure didn't miss out on any of the swag. That bag was swag-tastic.

I got about a dozen free individual figures (some inside the bag, some from coupons in the bag), plus a Legion Everblight starter for Hordes, and a Post-Human Republic starter for Dropzone Commander. I also got a coupon for a Wrath of Kings starter, so I picked up the Goritsi box because I love the wolves in there. I also got some paint, a Hordes mini rulebook, several coupons to use for vendors, Adepticon shirt, and Adepticon pub glass.


All in all, I didn't bring home quite as much stuff as last year, volume-wise (that Mumak is big!) but I definitely spent more money. If I hadn't just taken a big commission (doing a ton of Dark Angels soon) I wouldn't know what to paint first.

In the vendor hall, Reaper did a Paint-n-Take which was free and really fun. They had several Bones models you could choose from. I skipped a few because I already have them but settled on this creepy guy. I spent a solid hour working on him and chatting with some ladies I met there.


 In fact, I met a ton of people. I haven't had a better experience than I did this year, especially when it comes to painters. Every painter I met was a) crazy nice and b) so willing to share their secrets and give advice. It was fabulous, I can't wait to start applying some of the tricks and techniques I heard about. I also had some of the most fun opponents I've ever had, too.

Overall, I had a fabulous time, got to hang out with some really awesome people, and best of all, just had a lot of fun. I hope it works out that I will be able to make it back next year. With it being in the midst of tax season, it's too soon for me to tell. But I'd be heart-broken to miss it.

I'm going to do some additional posts on the hobby seminars, the 40k Friendly, and the Saga Grand Melee, so be sure to check back for those soon.

This is Part 1 of my Adepticon 2015 coverage. Also see:
Part 2: Hobby Seminars
Part 3: 40k Friendly
Part 4: Saga Grand Melee

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 2015 Kickstarter Recommendations

March is a bit of a banner month for Kickstarters. Because who doesn't have enough projects going on already? Certainly not me.

The first one is Blood Rage by CMON. I've not been too enamored by most of their Kickstarter campaigns but this one has so many things I love in a single game. Vikings? Check. Bad-ass ladies? Check. Giant Monsters? Check. Gorgeous sculpts? Check!


First, it's a board game, which is a nice change of pace for me. But what sold it was the absolutely lovely miniatures you use with the game. There are four different clans, each unique and tied to a particular animal. There are also plenty of big beasties (including a Frost Giant) for you to fight in the game as well. I'm really looking forward to getting this one.

The second project I'd like to mention is The Edge by Awaken Realms. It's a miniatures game. Details on the game itself are a bit thin- but I don't care. The miniatures are just stunning. Absolutely stunning. They have two factions unlocked and have a third as a potential stretch goal.


This Terror Cultist is one of the cooler sculpts. A little Tzeentchy, no? They also have some daemon hounds that I think would be amazing Khorne dogs.

Lastly, Outlaw Miniatures has unfurled their Wild West Exodus Unfinished Business campaign.  They are essentially trying to fund the four long-hinted-at additional factions for their game. As with their previous project, I really think the minis are spot-on and have a lot of character.


 I became familiar with this game at last year's Adepticon. They gave away a free mini as part of the swag bags. A lot of companies make crummy plastic minis, but Outlaw Miniatures isn't one of them. I'm very impressed with the quality of the figures and how easy the figures are to assemble.

 I've played the game several times but have not yet brought myself to buying a starter. It's a cool setting and a fun game, but I just don't know enough people locally who play it (as is my curse with several other games I enjoy).


Hopefully these projects haven't done as much damage to your wallet as they have to mine.

Friday, February 6, 2015

My Wings, a Hurricane

I did a bad, bad thing, you guys. I was checking up on my phone, minding my own business during my lunch break last week, when suddenly the news came that more Smaugs were in stock on Games Workshop's website. And, somehow, before I knew what happened, I had a confirmation email saying thanks for selling your first born, here's a dragon. Joke's on them, no first borns here!

But in all seriousness, I bought him. And now, he has arrived in all his glory!!


First, I'd like to point out that the box he came in is so big that my beagle easily fit into it. She's somewhat catlike and won't turn down an opportunity to get in a box.


Once I set him down and dug into the box, I was really quite amazed. Most of the pieces are individually wrapped in bubble wrap. The first piece I unfurled was the main section of his tail, and the detail on it is stunning. He is covered in thousands of teeny, tiny scales. In fact, if you run your finger across it, it feels just like a real reptile does. Impressive.

Each piece I pulled out and carefully unwrapped was as detailed as the last. He has battle scars galore. Eventually, I came to the first of his wings and I realized how truly massive he is. This massive, in fact.


That is my small, girly hand, which is about 6 1/2" from the palm to the tip of my finger. Smaug's wings are about 10" a piece. That would give him a wingspan, if he were posed as flying, of about 24". I hesitate to call him a "miniature" at this point.

I have really no complaints about this kit whatsoever. Bilbo looks much smaller than he should be, but compared to other Hobbits in the LOTR range, he's similar. He looks too small in the photos because Smaug is just that big. About three of Smaug's spikey bits broke, but given that he has about 90 of them, I'm going to say "well done". There are only a few bubbles in the resin (he's made of FW resin, in case you wondered). Nothing serious that I wouldn't expect on any other model.

The only drag is, how on earth do I paint this thing well enough to do him justice? I don't know if I can. But for now, he's going to sit in his box and taunt me while I work on my other current projects. He's such a big project that once I start him, I can't be working on anything else. So for now, I am going to clear off some outstanding minis to make some room for his vast might.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Huzzah RTT 1/31 Recap

The monthly tournament at my local FLGS was this past weekend, and it was hopping! Usually there's around 12 players. This time, 31 people showed up. Must be tournament season! I know I'm trying to make sure I get in a whole bunch of games before Adepticon.

My first game was against a whole bunch of Heretics. Forgeworld units were allowed, so there were some crazy things on a few tables.


Unfortunately, the Sons of Russ didn't do very well. That was sort of the theme of the day, really. My second game was really fun, with some hot Drop Pod on Drop Pod action.


I really like the caution lines he painted on the leaves his pods. Definitely going to take some time to do that to mine. It's sharp. It was a little tricky during the game though, remembering that no, not all of these grey and red drop pods are yours.

The third game was against Necrons, old book. I've not played them too many times, but bleh. Just bleh on them. I started out strong by killing his Warlord, which was also first blood, but things just totally went to hell after that. My new big unit of 5 Thunderwolves really tore them up, though, they didn't always stay dead. I'm really liking this beefier Thunderwolf unit. They're an iron fist if ever there was one.


My Knight didn't see a whole lot of action throughout the day. I dunno what it is about that guy, I think I'm just bad at using him. I'm not taking him to Adepticon, though, so it's no big thing. The Friendly is 1500 points and, well, supposed to be friendly, so I've opted to leave him at home. More points for wolves!


It was nice to see some old friends as well as to meet a whole bunch of new people, too. I got to play three good games with three new people which is just the best. And maybe I even learned a thing or two. I'm really looking forward to next month's event.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Logan Grimnar on Stormrider

Finally, here is my most fun commission to date: Logan Grimnar on Pimp Chariot, I mean Stormrider. I actually finished him up in December and turned him over to his owner, but I'm still playing a little catch-up with posts.

This model is absolutely packed full of cool details. So many details. Ooodles of them, even.

Even his details have details.
My favorite part of working on it was definitely the murals on the sides of the chariot. On one, it's the Great Wolf defeating a pile of Tyranids (die, Xenos scum!) and on the other he's shattering the sword of a big ol' nasty Daemon. You know, just an average day for one of the greatest beings to ever don power armor.


More than anything else though, I'm pretty proud of how the fur came out on his cloak. I spent a ton of time trying to get it just so. It has some very deep recesses, so it was a good opportunity to work on my two brush blending skills.


The Thunderwolves were fun to do, too, and I did them up similarly to the studio paint scheme. It really sets them apart from the Thunderwolves I painted for this client previously, so it'll stand out on the table even more.


Speaking of standing out, I made the whole chariot body bronze. Because, of course it should be bronze, who are you kidding? He's Logan-freaking-Grimnar, if he's stepping out, he's going to do it in style. It turned out way better than I had envisioned. I was very slow and deliberate with my application of the bronze, doing several thin layers, and that's what I think really made it work. Metallics can be tricky across large surfaces.


Per request, I magnetized Logan so he could be on the chariot, or on foot, depending on how many points you're willing to spend. This was necessary for two reasons. First, Games Workshop stopped selling the on foot version of Logan just before this model was released. Second, and more frustratingly, Logan does not fit into his chariot if he's mounted on his proper 40mm base. It's just a bit too small.


It was a little annoying to have to work around that, but I'm glad it actually turned out OK in the end. I put a magnet under the floor of the chariot before I glued the two halves together, drilled into his foot to put one in there, and put a third on the underside of the 40mm base.

One last really fun detail is the inside of the chariot. When Logan is standing on it, you really don't see it, but it was the first part of the chariot that I completed.


I don't have a completely finished image of the inside (oops) but the annulus itself is complete. Just imagine some silver around the detail work on the floor. The hole in the floor is where Logan's foot is supposed to be glued in, a bit like a tab. But I stuck that magnet near there instead, to line up with his foot magnet.

Putting this kit together and painting it was an absolute blast. Logan himself was a little tedious at the end, only because he's got so much going on. I should have left his cloak off to paint separately. That would have made things a lot easier.

After putting him together, I'm still not sold on adding one to my own Space Wolf army. I do have one of the on foot versions in my stash, however, so anytime I want to paint him up, I can throw him into my army on foot. But assembling and painting a whole other chariot does not sound particularly appealing at the moment.
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