Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nothing But Painting: Plus-Sized Update

     After a minor hiatus of hobby updates due to the nagging demands of life, I've built up a backlog of progress to post. Now that I have some proper time to photograph and post the pictures, here we go: 

     First up is a Martian Attack Saucer for Mars Attacks! The Miniatures Game. It's a great model and the flat, plain surface begs to be airbrushed. If you want to magnetize the weapons and pilot options, 1/16 inch rare earth magnets are an effective size. Be warned if you decide to go this route, as it is quite time consuming due to the amount of options you have. If nothing else, I would strongly recommend at least magnetizing the pilots so you can switch between Pilot Joe and the two Martian options. The weapons hold in place without magnets, but you may want to use them just to be safe. 

    Next up are the Stealth Martians. I wasn't crazy about the colour scheme, but I wanted them to match the models in the rulebook. There's still some work to do on the base details (ie. the teddy bear and the brick pile), but I think they look alright so far. I chose to use a gloss varnish on the red parts of their uniforms to make it a little more visually interesting. I based the read parts of their uniforms with Khorne Red and then gradually mixed in lighter tones for subsequent layers for a more gradual effect than traditional edge highlighting. This scheme also does a good job of breaking up the sea of blue uniforms among the Martian models that I've painted.

The Stealth Martian Commander is definitely my favourite of the five figures. 

The helmets add some nice variety to the Martian range of miniatures. 

     Keeping with the apparent theme of Mars Attacks! progress for this update, I've started working on two of the Martian Big Stompy Robots. These are still in very early stages of painting, but I'm happy with the work on them so far and I look forward to finishing them off. 

     I've also been working my way through an Imperial Corporation Starter Box for Warzone Resurrection. I'm a huge fan of the models for this game, especially the Imperial line. I wanted to paint the banner with vibrant colours to draw viewers' eyes to the officer as a centrepiece miniature among the otherwise drab collection of Trenchers.

A view from the opposite side. The banner will likely need some straightening in hot water if you pick up one of these boxes. 

     Lastly, I have some hasty pictures I took at the last second this morning to show some more work-in-progress models:

I've started working on the Science Division Martians for Mars Attacks!, and I'm considering posting a tutorial for them once I've finalized my colour scheme.

I painted these gribblies with the colour scheme that was used in the artwork from the Mars Attacks! cards. If you decide to go this route for your Mutant Spiders, be very careful when applying the black paint. It will be incredibly difficult to cover if you get it on the yellow areas. 

A side view of the Spiders. The I used Vallejo Game Air Moon Yellow for the basecoat and painted the stripes on with the Vallejo Ultramarine Airbrush Primer. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Star Wars Miniatures Game Review

    The Star Wars Miniatures game is a collectible prepainted miniatures skirmish game produced by Wizards of the Coast. It launched in 2004 with the Rebel Storm set and has been out of print since 2010.

    As always, SWM suffers from the problems universally associated with both prepainted miniatures, and collectible games. If you read my review of Heroscape, this section of the review will be very similar. The detail of the models is disappointing overall and the paint schemes are terrible, particularly on Rebel Hoth Troopers (off-white with a poorly applied wash over the entire figure...). The plastic, as with most prepainted miniatures is the malleable, rubbery plastic however in this instance the plastic is even softer than other games (even worse than the plastic from Heroscape). The collectibility of the figures is somewhat lessened now that the game is discontinued. You can find a plethora of the minis available on various online stores, and ninety-nine percent of the time they'll already be out of the package, allowing you as a buyer to select the figures you want. Despite the ability to select, we still have aftereffects of the manufactured scarcity of certain figures. Generally Common and Uncommon individual figures will sell for one dollar a piece (I wouldn't recommend paying any more), but if you want to field a squad of Scout Troopers on Speeder Bikes you'll have a hard time finding them for less than twenty dollars per figure, or even more ludicrous prices for Rancor miniatures and Imperial Probe Droids.
     The upside of the miniatures is self-expainatory: they are Star Wars miniatures. For all of us man-dolly enthusiasts, this game is a great excuse to collect all of the characters you had as action figures when you were growing up (I can't be the only person who did that). It's a beloved mythology, and there's a special kind of nostalgia that comes with it. When I started collecting them, I had no interest in the rules. If anything, I was going to try and find rules that better suited my need than the Wizards of the Coast rules could. The miniatures range covers pretty much any era (I have a limited knowledge of the expanded universe, so it's possible they have missed an obscure detail) that you'll want to play out, with models for the events of the Knights of the Old Republic games, an extensive range covering the prequels and TV shows, the original trilogy, and the New Republic/Yuuzhan Vong war. As such, I would advise focusing your purchases on a given era that you find most interesting. Like anything, it will become prohibitively expensive if you try to collect everything. Remember, the Death Star wasn't built in a day.
     The rules are straightforward, and may leave something to be desired depending on your preferences. It's a typical Wizards of the Coast miniatures system, centred on D20 rolls with modifiers based on the statistics of your characters. It's like playing a watered down Dungeons and Dragons combat encounter with some minor variations. The Commander Effects were one of the strongest elements of the game. Different characters that would act as a leader within your squad (examples including a Rebel Captain or Darth Vader) give off a unique bonus to friendly models nearby. It can create some subtle but immersive narrative details. A Rebel Officer holding a pair of binoculars directing the fire of a Rebel Trooper with Repeating Blaster during a Battle of Hoth themed game just felt like an accurate representation of the narrative.
     One issue I had with the rules was that every single figure has multiple hit points to keep track of. This rule inherently limits the scale of battles as it becomes more difficult to keep track of wounds, particularly when you're dealing with many identical figures. I would recommend either using homebrew modifications to make the game work better at a larger scale, or use the models with a ruleset that better fits your needs for a particular scenario (I'm curious about using the Bolt Action rules from Warlord Games to adapt a larger battle). Furthermore, if you want to play a larger scenario on a traditional wargaming table, you will also want to consider adding range limitations for blasters. The lack of ranges in the confines of Death Star corridors works just fine, but it doesn't quite feel right for larger, outdoor games.
      One question that has recently crossed my mind regarding Star Wars Miniatures is whether the game has a place in a current collection when you consider the option of Fantasy Flight Games' recently released Imperial Assault. I think that the original ruleset, left in its original state, is made obsolete by the release of Imperial Assault. However modified and played more along the lines of a traditional miniature wargame (modelled terrain, higher model count, using inches instead of squares, etc.), I think Star Wars Miniatures can still be a fun, unique experience.

Lastly, I think we should all take a moment and appreciate the fact that WotC had the decency to refrain from ever releasing an expansion featuring characters from the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Overall Score: 5/10

It needs some adjustment. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mars Attacks! US Troopers Painting Tutorial 2.0

After the original tutorial was destroyed by The Dark Symmetry, I've finally gotten around to rebuilding the Mars Attacks! US Troopers painting tutorial. Hopefully this version survives. 

This wonderful Mars Attacks! image (above) was the reference material I used for deciding how I wanted to paint the US Troopers. I chose to make the tactical vests, gloves, and boots a coyote tan colour to add a little bit of visual variety to the figures.  I also wanted to give them the amber ballistic eyewear as it adds some nice contrast. 

1. After cleaning flashing and straightening bent parts, prime the figures with Skeleton Bone from the Vallejo Air Primer range. While sometimes just a light dusting of a paint coat can suffice when priming, for our purposes here ensure that the figure is thoroughly painted with Skeleton Bone. It will act as both the primer and our basecoat, so it will be important that the figure is evenly coated with no plastic showing through.

2. Paint stripes in a random arrangement using Citadel's Warboss Green. Make sure the paint is watered down so it won't create a raised texture. Once The Warboss Green stripes have dried, repeat the step using Straken Green and then again with Steel Legion Drab. The bases were done by painting the base with the Astrogranite Texture Paint, which was then drybrushed with layers of Dawnstone, Fenris Grey, and Praxeti White. Paint the outer ring of the base with Abaddon Black.

3. Paint tiny dots in arrangements of one, two, or three spots in a triangular pattern using Rhinox Hide. Ensure these are adequately spaced out (see pictures for size and spacing reference). Repeat this step with White Scar also maintaining spacing to avoid excess spots.

4. Paint the helmet band, chinstrap, gloves, tactical vests, and boots with Steel Legion Drab. Let it dry and then apply a light drybrush of Ushabti Bone. Then basecoat the exposed flesh with Bugman's Glow. Once everything has had time to dry, apply a thin coat of Agrax Earthshade.

5. Basecoat the weapons Abaddon Black. When the basecoat is dry, drybrush a 1:1 mix of Eshin Grey and Abbadon black followed by a light drybrush of Eshin Grey onto the weapons. Wash the weapons with Nuln Oil. The face was basecoated with Bugman's Glow.

6. The goggles were basecoated with Magic Blue from the Vallejo Air range. Highlight one corner with Electric Blue from the Vallejo Air range, and then with a 1:1 mix of Electric Blue and White Scar. Again, make the white dot on the opposite corner of the lens.

7. Once your wash has dried, layer the exposed flesh with Cadian Flesh, making sure you leave a tiny bit of the Bugman's Glow and Agrax Earthshade Wash visible. Highlight the raised areas of the face such as the nose and cheekbones with Kislev Flesh. Apply White Scar for the eyes followed by tiny Abaddon Black dots for the pupils.

Other Equipment 

     Highlight the bottom corner of the eyewear (the glasses) with Troll Slayer Orange, and then a tiny bit of 1:1 mix of Troll Slayer Orange and Flash Gitz Yellow. Then, in the opposite corner make a tiny White Scar dot to show the light reflection. The goggles were done in a similar manner. Highlight one corner with Electric Blue from the Vallejo Air range, and then with a 1:1 mix of Electric Blue and White Scar. Again, make the white dot on the opposite corner of the lens.
     The missile launcher was painted with Waaagh! Flesh and was highlighted with Warboss Green. I then washed it with Agrax Earthshade. I used the same technique for the ammo box on the light machinegun.