10.24.2010

Unyielding Spectres

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to post anything else while I was working on the book (which is 2/3 done, for those of you who care), but I had this idea last night. It isn’t paperhammer, but it is pretty cheap...

So, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought the Legion of the Damned was one of the cooler elements in Space Marine lore. I mean, in an army of superhuman warriors, they’re the ones everyone points at and says “Whoa, who are those guys?” If you’ve been a long-time player, you’ve probably seen a good half-dozen versions of the skull-and-fire army list, including the Apocalypse datasheet.

They got yet another one in the new Space Marine Codex, and this time they got new figures as well. Absolutely beautiful figures. How could you not love either of those sergeants? I mean, I’ve got a lot of my old figures and I love ‘em, don’t get me wrong. But the new ones with the slightly-different proportions just have a real punch to them, y’know?

Alas, these days all those figures are way out of my price range. Even if you go through someone like the Warstore who’ll give you a discount, you’re looking at about $45 dollars for a bare-bones (no pun intended) five man squad. Get an assault and/ or a heavy weapon and you could be looking at close to $100 for a ten man squad of angry spectral warfare.

So, being poor and clever, I started mulling over it in the back of my mind.

Just recently, it so happens, I was browsing through some old White Dwarf issues from five or six years back. Y’know, when it was fun and exciting to read each month. Anyway, some of you may remember there was a gentle push for “counts as” models to make people experiment with the modeling aspect of the hobby. A lot of examples of this showed up in White Dwarf.

Now, I don’t play Warhammer Fantasy, but I admit there are some gorgeous models and I do like seeing what people do with them. What caught my eye was a run of people doing very offbeat things with undead armies. There were two articles, in fact, about guys who’d made armies using non-human undead, going off the logic that in this world people had to use something besides human corpses. One gent (in WD # 289) had used Dwarves as his Spirit Host by painting the models head-to-toe in ghostly pale blue. Another had made an undead Orc army (WD #309) and used two goblins with bagpipes to represent his Banshee, painted a bright, almost phosphorescent green..

The kicker, though, was a little deeper in WD #309. There was an article on Kill Team (remember Kill Team?) and how to add a “level boss” style nemesis to your game. Unbound deamons, mutant monstrosities, warrior constructs, and at the very end of the article... apparitions. A set of rules for bringing the ghost of an Imperial saint or martyr into Kill Team. Their example was a Space Marine sergeant decked out with a few nice bits and painted in that same ghostly green style.

So last night it hit me (as I’m sure it’s already hit you). The Legion of the Damned are suspected of being ghosts anyway. What about just painting a squad of regular Marines as glowing green or blue ghosts and using them as a “counts as” Legion of the Damned?

It almost works better, in a way, because now you can customize them to your army. There’s tons of history where Space Marines are getting annihilated by company (Ultramarines 1st) or by chapter (Astral Knights), and it wouldn’t take long to find a group of spirits who would be coming to your army’s rescue. Heck, you may have something from your own personal gaming history to fall back on (like when Gillian’s Tyranids wiped out my Relictors last Labor Day).

The best part? You can buy a regular ten-man tactical squad for about $35 dollars, depending on where you shop. That’s a third of the price of buying ten Legion of the Damned models. Still too much? Go to Battlewagon Bits or the Bitz Barn and buy the tactical squad from the Black Reach set. A few less posing options, but now you’re only paying about twenty dollars for a ten man squad of vengeful wraiths. That’s almost 80% less than the LotD figures.

And 80% off is pretty cheap.

I might try one of these this week. I’ll post a picture here if it comes out kind of nice.

10.17.2010

The Defiler, Pt V

Today we put it all together and finish this template.

Man, this is the longest it’s taken me to build any of the projects I’ve tackled here. I hope somebody appreciates this...

Before I dive into new stuff, I want to take one tiny step backwards, though. I was looking at the armor plates for the legs and realized I could add two more points along the trim near the center of the plate. They’re the same right-angle triangles I used on the ends, cut from a 1/8” strip, except I glued them on the hypotenuse rather than the side. It’s a tiny, tiny bit more detail, but all these tiny bits are easy and they add up real fast.

The claws attach pretty easy. If you look close, the back edge is a bit long and that gives you a solid point to connect each section to the arm. I also put a drop or two of glue inside each piece so it would run down and add to the join once the claw was in place. Put the two big claws flush with the sides of the arm and there should be a tiny bit of a gap left to fit the thumb in place.

I want to point out I was careful placing the claws because I had specific things I wanted each one to do. The Nurgle Defiler was going to be resting on its knuckles, so those claws had to be double-checked in place against the model. The Khorne one was going to have one arm aggressively raised, so I wanted to make those claws look a bit more dynamic. If you’ve got a better idea how you want the model to look in the end, it’ll help a lot when doing all the extra work you need to do with a template like this, where so much of it needs to be posed.

Helpful Hint-- Whatever way you end up posing the claws, try to have the thumb make contact with at least one of them. Use a drop of glue on that contact point. It’s a very small, subtle thing, but it will make this whole section so much stronger to have multiple connections. And you want it to be solid because you’re going to smack it against a Carnifex or some Storm Shields at least once or twice a month if you’ve got a good gaming group.

The claws are a little bit on the small side, once you get to see the whole thing assembled. If you have paper to spare, it might be worth printing them just 10% larger or so. They should still fit with no problem.

Anyway, I let the claws sit to dry for a little bit and looked at the chassis again. After building the Plague Tower back in the spring, I knew that blank space can look especially deadly on a paperhammer model. So I decided to put some bits on the front and back of the chassis.

The back is easy. I just cut a few thin strips and glued them down to look like they were part of a superstructure. You can do some nice layering stuff in here, too.

The front was a bit more work. I decided I wanted to build a cow catcher, a bit like the regular GW model has, or like the one on the Plague Tower. I cut a piece of card 3/8” wide and 1” long and glued it under the front edge of the chassis so there was a 1/8” edge sticking out. Then I cut out a few 1/2” triangles, exactly like the ones I used on the battle cannon. I glued these in the front to make a cow-catcher/ ram.

With that done, I cut out the sockets for the front arms. These go on the diagonal sides of the chassis, on either side of the cow-catcher I just scratch built. Give them time to dry before you put the arms on, especially if one of the arms on your Defiler is going to be raised.

While the sockets were drying I cut out the armor plates and put on detail the same way I did on the leg plates. I used 1/8” strips on the long edges, then added some right triangles cut from the same strips to create the Chaos look. It took a bit more time, because these forearm pieces are loaded with angles, but I think they came out pretty nice. It’s not perfect trim but it implies the trim, if that makes sense. And it’ll look good once it’s painted.

There’s also the issue of the spiky bits. Defilers have blade-spikes all over their legs and arms, and they are included on the template. However, I don’t think single-thickness card is going to be all that durable. It’s definitely going to be a pain to glue on-edge. So, I decided to combine the blades.

I took the eight blades for the C and bottom of the D armor, then doubled them up so they’d be twice as thick. I added one of the upper D blades to each, too, giving me something very similar to the feet-talons, but with a flat back. This gave me four solid blades per model which I attached to the C armor plates.

Helpful Hint - On the Nurgle model, I put “corrosion” holes on the C plates, placed so there was only room for one blade on each piece. I used the spare blades on the lower D armor to spread them out a bit and help make up for this Defiler’s static pose.

I found that to attach the C armor to the forearm, you’ll need to cut out a few cardboard spacers. With that extra score line to give it a diagonal corner, the plate isn’t wide enough I decided to take care of this before attaching the arms. You can freehand a rectangle to use as a spacer or use a couple of 1/4” discs. Whatever you decide to use, you want to make it two or three layers thick. Also, keep it near the center line of the armor plate--this is going to join on the spacer and at those thin diagonal edges. I cut two long strips, which gave the bonus of looking like pistons or struts when you saw then at the “elbow” or through the gaps in the Nurgle armor.

Now to attach the front arms. This is a bit trickier than the legs because there’s a lot of stuff in the way now (including... the legs). Try to pinch the tops and bottoms (the triangle piece for as long as you can, then lever in the side rectangles.

This is Important - Let these pieces dry for a long time, especially any that are raised. If you have any sort of angle or pressure on them there’s going to be torque on the glue and the pieces will just twist free as soon as you stop pinching the flaps of the socket. I used a bunch of stuff to keep the arms in position and the flaps in place on the wooden bead. Clothespins, books, and even a couple of the skull shot glasses I mentioned before (they’re just tall enough to sit under the Nurgle Defiler). I wedged and balanced them wherever they were needed and left them all overnight.

Last but not least, I glued the armor plates onto the arms. They went on pretty easy, and just like the leg plates, they give the model a good sense of bulk.

And that’s that. At this point we’ve built everything from lustandtorment’s original template, and it is a great template. While I made it look very long and drawn out--mostly because I was building two of them in between work assignments-- I bet one of these could be built over a long weekend without too much trouble. Four days, tops. Heck, you can cut 85% of it out with a good pair of scissors. I think this is a fantastic model, and someone would have to be a real hard-ass not to allow one of these on the battlefield.

I’ll also point out, for those who like the Blood God, that with what we’ve done so far it’d be very easy to build the Brass Scorpion of Khorne pictured in the first Apocalypse book. The one they built using parts from two Defilers. So there’s that and the Soulgrinder as bonus extras for this template as well.

Now, some bad news.

I’m afraid at this point I need to take some time off from the geeky blog. Y’see, I’ve got a book manuscript due at the first of the year, it’s only about 2/3 done, and I need to put some serious work into it. It’s the sequel to Ex-Heroes, which is listed there on the sidebar. Please feel free to check it out. Ex-Patriots is currently going to be released next summer, as I understand it. Assuming, of course, I get it done on time.

Also, as of late I feel like I’ve been rushing things to get them done to put up here, not building things for the sheer enjoyment of it--which is supposed to be a big part of the hobby, yes? So probably nothing else until close to Thanksgiving while I get caught up on the book and maybe work on one or two projects at a more relaxed rate. I’ll still check in regularly, though, if anyone has any comments, questions, or requests.

Plus, I’ve been thinking about the Defilers a bit more and I’m not quite done. If you check back over the next few weeks I should have some instructions and examples of how to make weapons options (and a few very last details) for both versions of the Defiler. Or for whichever version you decided to make.

And when I come back around Thanksgiving... I’m thinking about tanks. Big tanks.

10.06.2010

The Defiler, Pt IV

I think building two of these things is taking four or five times longer than it would to build one of them...

Anyway... here’s some more details for the lower section. At the bottom of the template you’ll see sixteen 1/2” circles with some vaguely chaos-ey images on them. These are detail pieces for the joints on each leg and the front arms. Cut them out and glue one to each side. I’ll be honest--I searched local craft and hobby stores for a 1/2” hole punch but couldn’t find anything. It’s apparently a no-man’s land size between 1/4” and 5/8”. Ah, well...

You can cut out most of them with a good pair of scissors. Take your time and use a hobby knife to trim off any sharp edges or points--you want these as close to perfect as possible. When you’re done you may want to press them between the pages of a book to get rid of any curls or bends the scissors may have put in them.

Once those circles were in place, I used discs from a standard 1/4” hole punch to add more detail to the leg joints. On the Khorne model I went one further with a 1/8” disc on top of that. On the Nurgle one I drove myself slightly mad by putting a trio of rivets from the 1/16” punch in the middle of each 1/4” disc. A dozen or so tiny Nurgle icons, all over the model. If you add on the extra-extra bits first (start small and work down, in other words), it might save a few shreds of your sanity. And your eyesight.

Helpful Hint - If you’ve got (or can get) the bits, you could also use round Fantasy shields for these joint-details. There are the older, generic ones that were used by Skaven, Goblins, and Dwarves which are perfect. Skeleton shields would be cool for a Khorne Defiler--bone-rimmed circles with a skull motif in the center.

Don’t forget you need to use superglue when you attach plastic to paper.

Next, cut out the talons. Again, because lustandtorment made such a great template, you can actually do all of this with a good pair of scissors. I cut out all the talons for one model in about an hour. Glue them together as the template shows. Take your time and make sure everything lines up

Helpful Hint - These talons are going to end up supporting the whole model, so you want them to be solid. Use your finger to paint the tips in glue. You want it to soak into the card and harden.

Mark the point where the legs make contact with the tabletop and draw a line straight up. This is your guide to placing the talons. Once you’ve done that, flip the chassis on its back so the legs are up in the air. Attach the talons, double-checking to make sure they’re straight and placed correctly. You don’t want to go through all this and have one talon going off crooked. I also added a little detail piece made with the hole punches. Put one on each side of the “ankle.”

This is Important - Unless you cut out extras all on your own, the big circles from the template do not go on the ends of the legs or the arms (the ankles and wrists). There aren’t enough of them. That’s why I threw together these using the hole punches.

Once all that’s placed, leave the chassis on its back to dry.

For the record, yes, this is also where I realized I’d posed the legs really high on both of these models. They're going to loom over the battlefield.

I also used this time to make the D armor plates for the legs. You can print out an extra template and put “Chaos trim” on these plates the same way I did it with the Hellblade. I decided to try something different and just used a couple long, thin strips of card about 1/8” wide (depending on your taste, you can go anywhere between 1/8” and 1/4”). I cut these to fit on the plates before gluing them in place. I also cut small triangles off these strips and fit them on the trim to give it those spiky edges.

On the Nurgle model, you can leave big gaps in the trim and it’ll just look battered and old. I also used my different-sized hole punches to put a few overlapping holes in these plates. Then I made them a bit more uneven with my hobby knife. When I paint the model, I’ll make these look rusted and corroded.

The front arms go together just like the legs, but here they connect A to B to C. Use those flaps again, too. The curved ends of B should butt up against the tabs in A and C. This means you can glue the arms in two different directions (along the plane of the joint and the plane of the tab) so these pieces will dry rock solid. Add the wooden beads at the end of each arm. You can also put on more of the circle-pieces for detail like I did up above.

Those arms are going to take a bit of careful placement. I decided I wanted one arm raised high on the Khorne Defiler to add to its aggressive pose. Like the GW model, though, I’d still need to put one arm down in the front for balance. On the Nurgle model, I decided to put both arms low, keeping with the squatting, solid posture I’d been shooting for. I might even give it kind of a Biovore pose, as if it’s resting on its knuckles. But this meant I had to wait for all the talons to dry so I could figure the right positions for the claws.

So, next up, all this stuff gets put together.

10.01.2010

Helpful Hint

Stepping away from the Defiler for a moment, I thought this was worth mentioning.

If you’ve got a 99 Cent Store or something similar near you, go check out their Halloween section. I just found a four pack of plastic shot glasses shaped like skulls. Yeah, plastic shot glasses aren’t that great, but the real way to look at this is it's a pack of four 1 3/4” skulls for a dollar.

Imperial scenery. Chaos scenery. Super-heavy vehicles. Doesn’t matter what color they are once you prime them and paint them like granite, marble, or steel. If you can’t think of something in Warhammer 40K you might want to build that would benefit from a skull bigger than a Space Marine... well...

For a buck or two, there are worse things for a scratch builder to have in his or her bitz box.