Saturday, 30 April 2016

Shooting Big Guns and Jumping About

Every Necromunda gang needs a heavy weapons guy (arguably). I went with the heavy stubber option, which is the cheapest, but I still have to work out the right tactics to make the hefty points cost pay off.

I built this guy out of various parts I had lying around. He's some sort of rusted and battered Terminator-type android, probably reprogrammed by the other gangers. The idea is that, as time's gone on, his disguise has fallen apart and he has been revealed as the clanky robot that he really is.

Most of the parts are Games Workshop. The head came from a Stormcast Eternal (they are useful for something, then!) and the body, gun machinery and left arm are Space Marine parts. The legs are from a Necron Warrior, and the gun barrels come from an extremely old Eldar weapon. They're lead and very heavy, so that I had to glue a metal weight on the base to stop him toppling over. His mask is a harlequin's head - I expect he'll try to fix it back on one day - and his coat comes from a Malifaux marksman.

The right arm comes from a Mantic orc, I think.I have named this guy Warbastard, in honour of the remote controlled robot in the Simon Pegg show Spaced. Warbastard is probably also the title of about fifteen Motorhead albums.

And this is slightly different. It's a model from Infinity, named Cassandra Kusanagi. I thought the jumping was really cool. It looks much better in real life - but then, I would say that.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

What I've Learned So Far

The whole point of this blog is me trying to improve my painting. I think that I have, partly by using different techniques, but also by approaching painting with a slightly different attitude. That probably sounds very wishy-washy, but hopefully the following thoughts should make it a bit clearer.

1) Water your paint down. 

Seriously, this makes a vast difference. With thinned paint - about the consistency of milk - you don't obscure details. You have better control over where your brush is going. You don't leave marks in the paint. You can shade much more subtly. This one is hard to overstate. Many thanks to my friend James who suggested this in the first place.

2) Only paint what you want to paint.

Or perhaps make sure you're enjoying what you're doing. In my case, this means painting individual models in whatever way I want to paint them (often once they've been heavily converted). Uniforms go out the window. Each model becomes a character.

It might be that you're the sort of person who is happy batch-painting a hundred skaven (a friend of mine did this and nearly went insane in the process). That's fine, but you might need to accept that they won't be your best work, and you'll have to learn to be happy with that. Or split it up with other stuff. Once your hobby becomes a chore to you, you have to wonder why you're doing it.

3) Take the time to make the best job of a model that you can. 

This doesn't just mean freeing up enough time in the evenings to get the job done. It means being honest about whether you're pleased with the work you've done and, if not, deciding what you are going to do about it. I hate redoing models, especially if I have to take them apart to do so. But in something like a Necromunda gang or a Frostgrave party, where every person counts, you really don't want something that will just about suffice: you want your models to be as good as you can get them.

So I've had to make myself go back over old models: tidying things up, admitting that some conversions haven't worked, cutting off mold lines and repainting where I can, and so on. Will the model do? Quite often, yes. But is it as good as I could get it to be? No. That's not to say that every one of your vast goblin horde has to be perfect, just that you have to be honest about when you should call a model finished or not.

4) Army Painter Strongtone.

This is a kind of dark brown ink/wash. There seems to be a bit of a view that you can just dunk anything in it, and I'm not sure that I'd do that for character-type models as if can look a bit haphazard, but it is very useful stuff indeed. It's good for cloth, especially greens, browns and off-whites, faces and machinery that you don't want to look very clean. It's definitely worth investing in a small bottle, like this:

5) Bases.

I don't like basing models. Specifically, I don't like putting grass on the bases. The stuff I'm using always looks pretty poor, as if the models are trudging through green-brown lumps of gravel. The solution I've come up with is thin textured plasticard.

I've used two main sorts: a pavement of irregular stones and an industrial metal with embossed bumps, presumably to stop people slipping. I'll talk more about basing some other time, but it's not too hard to make a base of plain metal or dark grey for a rubber-flooring type effect. Rust and warning stripes help and can liven up models really nicely. Of course you can buy some great bases, too.

And that's it for now. I can't promise that those will work for everyone, but they've helped me. I'm still no expert, but I'm much better than I was! If I come up with any other thoughts, I'll put them here too.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The War Rig

Last year I saw Mad Max: Fury Road in the cinema with an old wargaming friend of mine. Then I went to see it again with another friend who is very into board games. Then I saw it a third time with two other friends. Then I ran out of friends. As I was sitting at home in my endless solitude, I decided to make my own war rig like the one in the film.

I found a toy lorry on Ebay, bought it for £10 and got converting. I chopped off the spoiler and used it to lengthen the wheelbase of the cab. Most of the rest of the work was bits of sprue and plasticard. I made a false new grille out of plasticard and curved bits of sprue and blended it in with green stuff so as to lengthen the bonnet/hood. The air intakes were made from those smoke launchers you get on Games Workshop tanks.

 Then of course I wondered if I had just carved up a priceless Dinky Toy. But it was too late. Time for paint and suitably excessive weathering. Here we go, girls:

And from the side...

Not bad, but it needed a trailer to pull. The model came with a suitable plastic trailer, complete with some kind of buzzer that you could fit batteries into to make a sound, which probably delighted small children circa 1982. I never found out what the sound was. Another voice lost to the Wasteland.

Again, this is just a plasticard job. The car on the right is a Matchbox or Hot Wheels car, so you can see the scale. It's hard to make out in this picture, but there's a plasticard superstructure on the front of the trailer, which is supposed to look like half a VW Beetle, as per the film. I went for a blue-black colour rather than straight black.

Looking back on it, I should have raised the rear of the cab higher, and perhaps put something onto the front of the trailer to stop it being such a blank slab. But I think it's captured the rough look of the war rig. So far it hasn't had an outing in any games, but I'm pleased with the end result.

I added a second plasticard Beetle and some pennants to the back of the trailer. One of these days, I'll use some spare wheels and a ping-pong ball to make the fuel pod that gets pulled along behind the rig at the start of the film. But for now it's ready to strike down the unroadworthy! Do you see me, Toecutter?

Sunday, 24 April 2016


When I was about 15, I got hold of my first copy of Rogue Trader, the first edition of Warhammer 40k. If I remember rightly, I bought it off a bloke called Gary for £5. It was worth nearly every penny.

Quite what the authors of Rogue Trader thought they were making, I'm not sure. While the rough background of 40k was there (there's an emperor, orcs and elves in space, everyone is miserable) there was also a whole load of completely mental stuff that faded away once they realised that the game was basically about different coloured teams of Space Marines bashing one another. That said, I don't know how anyone was going to play a serious wargame fighting things like the Bouncer or the Catachan Face Eater, which resembled a beach ball and a small towel respectively.

Anyhow, in Rogue Trader was this picture.

This is the first drawing of what later became the tyranids, one of the major antagonists of Warhammer 40,000. There was a model of this creature, dubbed the Protonid, of which about 17 were made. They looked like this:

In a fit of wine-related nostalgia, I decided to make my own version out of bits of leftover plastic kits and modelling putty. I give you... protonid!

In the cold light of day, he looks like the bastard offspring of a shaven weasel and the Loch Ness Monster. The blue glowing things are anti-gravity pods to hold him upright (the original description says that they spend most of their time in space, which is a sufficient excuse for me).

And the moral of this story? I probably ought to get out more.

Lo, They Behold Me Rolling

As well as the Necromunda stuff, I've been working on some Sisters of Battle. These dinky little blobs of metal are a legion of space nuns who all look rather like Joan of Arc. I like the Sisters particularly because: (a) they're one of the most ridiculous, and therefore "pure" armies of 40k, and hence they capture the spirit of it better than any of the others; (b) there's a lot of potential for conversion, especially since I don't like some of the models (mainly the ones who aren't in armour); and (c) Games Workshop obviously doesn't like the Sisters and just wishes they'd go away, which makes me feel a strange sort of sympathy for the tiny nuns.

The Sisters have few tanks, but the best is the Exorcist, a mixture of a Space Marine Rhino APC, a 1940s Katushka rocket launcher, and a pipe organ. This is my attempt at painting the official model:

Being from an earlier generation of models, the entire superstructure and the side armour is made from lead, and the thing weighs about as much as a brick. If your opponent makes fun of your all-girl army, you can just bludgeon him to death with it.

Here is another, scratch-built, Exorcist that I made from stuff lying around.

I'm pretty certain that one of these beat Dick Dastadly in the Wacky Races (it was probably called the Holy Roller, or perhaps the Carthedral). Again I've used a Rhino as the basis for the model (an older variant), and built the front forward with plasticard and parts from an Empire Steam Tank. The rear turret/pulpit/soddit-I-don't-know was made from 40k terrain kits with rockets off a Dust Tactics walker. Overall, I'm rather pleased with it, and seems to have inspired Sister Gwendoline there to wave her sword about.

The third tank I made for the Sisters of Battle was a newer Rhino with a crypt-type building from the GW Garden of Morr kit on top. The cannon was, I think, off some kind of mounted gun. The statues came from Mantic dead elves and some little Epic soldiers, who were just the right size to be reliefs of holy figures.

Ridiculous? Yes. But then, nobody ever played 40k because it looked sensible, did they?

The Strange Transformation of Emanuelle Porridge

Recently, my friend James and I have started playing Necromunda. Necromunda is a skirmish game set in the bowels of a vast city in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The sides are small and the rules comparatively complex.

One of the best things about skirmish games is that you can spend a lot of time on each model, since each is effectively a character on its own and not just another faceless chap making up the numbers in a bigger unit. The capacity to arm each person uniquely and  - in my case - their suceptability to getting wounded, gives you a lot of opportunity for conversions.

For my Necromunda gang, I decided on a bunch of battered-looking wanderers. I wouldn't use a uniform, but I would have a limited palette on the models, as well as certain repeated ideas: hoods, cloaks, backpacks and practical clothing needed to scavenge in the wasteland. I was partly inspired by the look of the Vulvalini, the gang of old women from Mad Max: Fury Road.

This is the leader:

He's a converted Privateer Press model called Saxon Orrik. I replaced the gun and his left hand, and gave him a new base to stand on (he was originally resting his boot on some unfortunate monster's head!). His name is now Algebra Flaps. Silly names are going to be a reoccurring feature in this blog.

And this is his second in command. Or at least, this is what she looked like when she joined the gang.

She too is a Privateer model: she's a Khardor sniper, who I haven't converted, and goes by the name of Emanuelle Porridge. In the course of her adventures, Ms. Porridge acquired the skill of Gunfighter, which enables her to fire two pistols per turn. To capitalise on this, I needed a new model.

I used the Akosha model from Mike McVey's Sedition Wars. I always thought Akosha was in a very strange position, so I removed her arms and gave her some new ones from a spare Roundhead cavalryman (as you do).

One strange hairdo and a couple of spare pistols, and there she is, in all her washed-out glory. Oddly, the laspistol came from the first conversion I ever did, when a mail-order Genestealer Magus came miscast and I had to give him a new hand.

Hello and Welcome!


This is a blog about painting and converting miniatures. I have been making models for a long time, but only recently have I decided that I wasn't doing it well enough.

Over the last year, I have been trying to improve my painting and learn new techniques. I thought this would be a good place to put the results. I wouldn't say that I was good enough to have a personal style: at the moment, colouring inside the lines is enough of a challenge.

When I'm not doing this, I work in an office and write comedy novels (not at once). More about the novels can be found at and

Oh, and one last thing: I blame it on my camera. It's terrible, honestly.