Sunday 26 April 2015

Salute 2015 review

I haven't been to a wargames show before, but Salute's been on my "to do" list for a few years - and yet life has repeatedly gotten in the way of being able to book. 2015 was when I could finally go along with a friend, and it was worth the wait.

Essentially it's a large hall with 150 trade stands, and a lot of demonstration games running throughout the day - visited by ~6000-8000 people in a 7 hour period. You're encouraged to participate and spend. That's the facts, but it would do the whole day a disservice with just that description, it was a lot of fun.

As grown men, our teen nerds and adult wallets were unleashed in combination and we spent a good five hours walking around, looking at games we'd never heard of, skim-reading rulesets and getting excited about figure ranges we'd never seen.

The haul for the day as follows:

  • Top row: Infernal Golem (Titan Forge), Nazi zombies (Studio Miniatures), Weathering effects (Modelmates)
  • Middle row: Infamy ton* (Infamy), Engineers' Guild (Guildball)
  • Bottom row: Dimitri, Ivan and Hell'ington standard bearer (Blight Wheel), Hired Hands and Salute 2015 Limited Edition (Black Scorpion), Dragon Huntress (JoeK)
* Mine was missing the deck of cards, which was the primary item of interest but I've mailed them to ask if it's still available. Sadly I consider this my own stupid fault for not checking there and then :( 

The single downside to the event was people with massive rucksacks and no understanding that it doubles the depth of where they're standing, or how frustrating it is to be behind two of them and unable to see anything. The conference equivalent of getting the basketball player in front of you at a concert. Everything else was pretty good, from queuing to go in, to every booth being filled with enthusiasts ...

... which leads nicely on to my highlights from visiting the booths.
  • Guildball. Backed this on Kickstarter and picked up the only team I missed at the time, Engineers, and chatted with the guys on stand for their original campaign - it's a great range of figures across all the teams and definitely worth a look. Considering all pledges were posted to backers and they had to prepare a stand for Salute in the same week, they were clearly shattered but still soldiering on. Impressive.
  • Titan Forge. I want all of their figures and ideally right now, please. Settled for a single large purchase of their Infernal Golem, but it was hard narrowing the choices down. I think the website's out of date compared to the range on display at the show, but worth a look. Their range of Chaos Dwarves is marvellous.
  • Black Scorpion. Small but broad range of quality sculpts. I grabbed the Hired Hands and limited edition sculpt for the day. Crisp figures.
  • Modelmates. They had some great looking weathering effects available, so I picked up some rust and verdigris. Will see how these pan out in the next month or so.
  • Figone. Not only does Jérémie Bonamant Teboul have a nice line in figures, but his painting is incredible, basically flawless, and I just stood slack-jawed looking at the figures he had on display. Bought? Nothing, but I would like to steal Jérémie's ridiculous skill for this hobby. What a talent.
  • Infamy. Backed this on Kickstarter, and followed up with a few additional purchases on the day. The man behind it, James, is a bundle of enthusiasm and willpower and it shows in the range he's pulled together.
  • Forgeworld's queue. Considering the two limited edition figures on offer weren't that hot, the permanently long queue just to reach their stand was highly entertaining. I'm sure if you had a specific requirement, or wanted early releases, it was worth the while - but that didn't look fun standing there. I felt sorry for traders within two blocks, as it killed access to a few of them.
  • Studio Miniatures. Whole unit of Nazi zombies packaged in a VHS box to look like an old war movie and for £13? Sold. Wonderful concept and well executed.
  • Blight Wheel. Seriously loving the Sino Russia range of figures, but played safe and just picked up Dimitri and Ivan to play with, then ... spotted the Hell'ington standard bearer and got that too. Would have liked more, but didn't want to blow the budget on a single stand!
  • Infinity. Hadn't paid much attention to this game previously, but have seen a number of well painted figures for the various factions - but it overwhelmed us a little at the show how much of everything there is for this game. My friend's now the proud owner of the starter set, so no doubt that will see action in the coming weeks. Full marks to Troll Trader for lowest overall prices on the big ranges.
  • PRODOS. Their online store is as unfriendly as their figures are amazing. Persevere with the online bit, because the range is worth it. I'll be picking up the Dark Legion range when time and budget allow - and they've got a talented set of painters too.
  • Freebooter Miniatures. Probably the prettiest, painted full range set of display miniatures we saw on the day, and in an ideal world I would have brought them all back. Didn't buy anything, but seeing their highly skilled sculptor, Werner Klocke, dressed as a buccaneering pirate made my day.
Obviously that wasn't everything, just the handful of store highlights from my perspective. The hardest part of the show was picking the stands I could justify spending money on this year, and the silver lining was starting to build a list for the coming year.

Other things that occurred ... someone was dressed and looking uncomfortable as a 10 foot Space Marine, Stormtroopers were walking around - but they looked a little short to be a stormtrooper to me. Rick Priestly was there talking up Antares. I was very grown up and didn't run over to bear hug and thank him for a postcard he sent in reply to a rule query that age 12 me wrote to Games Workshop in the late 80s. That's restraint, right?

See you there next year.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Star Wars: Imperial Assault Probe Droids

With the recent spark ignited by the Battlefront & Episode 7 trailers, a friend with the Imperial Assault board game (similar to Descent) entrusted me with painting up a couple of the figures.

The game doesn't quite work the same way as Descent, so there isn't a master unit in the group - they're simply required to be distinct from each other, hence the different coloured bases. The three are painted in different styles, but all sprayed metallic as the base.
  • Blue had his top half painted in chipping fluid, painted black, then scrubbed back. That's a technique which requires significant more practice (my first attempt) and wasn't great.
  • Green was shaded and highlighted as normal.
  • Red was shaded, drybrushed then I tried for a lighting effect around the sensors. Not entirely satisfactory, but conveyed the effect.
All three were finished with gloss varnish on the black sensors painted to give the feel of glass - and I'm happy with that.

In review, the standard approach used on Green is still my favourite - but the purpose of the other approaches was for comparison to see if there was a quicker, more effective method. Original is still the best and my preferred way of doing it.

Original is still the best and my preferred way of doing it, the others felt like shortcuts that save no time.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Warhammer 40k: Gretchin

Gretchin done. Family group shot for posterity, just missing the final matte varnish to seal in the red pigment. Haven't quite worked out how to get the right focus on such a broad spread of figures, but hopefully it conveys everything.

Rummaging through old boxes, I found a couple of old painted Runt Herders so rebased them and added to the group. Happy that my painting has moved on in the last 12 years from what was my best possible painting at the time to a little below my tabletop standard now. Yay for visible progress :D

Loving pigments to finish off bases, but learned that you should leave it until the very last minute to apply - because that stuff goes everywhere. On a personal note, it was pretty cool to work my way through a 20 man unit in under six months. My previous Orks and Space Wolves have taken significantly longer as I got caught up trying to make them perfect - which negates the purpose of big units. They need to be painted and on the table, and not to Golden Demon or Crystal Brush standard - which I can't paint to anyway :) Sometimes "that'll do" is just fine with a paintjob.

Next project is a couple of Abominations for a friend's Zombicide game ...

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Warhammer 40k: Gretchin

Over on the Ammobunker, March was Green Month and that got me hankering for Orks. Once I started hankering, I started reminiscing and next thing you know I've picked up this box on eBay ...

Very, very excited. Fond memories of buying this at release back in '87 for probably the princely sum of £10. Delighted to snaffle it as a bargain with everything mint. 1987 saw Terry Waite captured, British Airways privatised(!) and Maggie elected for her final term in office.

Considering how long ago all this was, before diving in and ruining these beautiful miniatures, I've pulled out a box of Gretchin to practice on ...

Also found my very old Goblin Green spray in a can. Not quite the shade of green I'd used previously on my figures, but it'll do for a quick and cheap unit like this.

After realising there was no chance of completing 20 Gretchin in one week, I opted to switch focus to just completing a couple of test models instead. Would rather have something completed to show for my effort this week.

Craquelure effect on the left hand gun is accidental. Think I applied matte varnish when it may have been be a smidgeon wet - not something I've seen before. Long-term I don't expect to have cute little red noses on all of them, so the effect will be broken up when in a bigger group. Eyes are painted red, but slightly higher camera angle means they're lost in the shadows. Barrels aren't drilled, as for metal miniatures I find it tedious for so little gain.

Brambleton got me thinking about the bases, and I've opted to re-base in line with my Ork army - so it's polyfilla with a few items stuck in them, sprayed black then drybrushed up with greys. These guys got a heavy dose of Vallejo weathering pigments to the base, feet and bottom of the loincloths, as I'm keen to fiddle with the stuff. Weathering pigment that is, not an Ork's loincloth ... ahem.

The remaining 17 are still on the bench at varying stages of completion while I work out how to make them distinct from each other.