Tuesday, April 22, 2014

miscellaneous: victoria minis' penal guard & arcadian females

So I went to Adepticon with a notion to pick up some minis to flesh my Iron Warriors out to 2000 points for the Independent Character's Hobby Progress Challenge. My initial plans were to pick up some Cataphracti Terminators to convert into Warsmith Thokcha and his retinue. However, a couple weeks before Adepticon, ForgeWorld's sneak peak of The Horus Heresy Book III - Extermination revealed an entry for Iron Warrior specific Terminators. I decided to put the Warsmith and his retinue on hold until we see what those figures look like. Despite it being far more to paint, this pushed me toward my back-up plan of Chaos Raptors and Cultists/Traitor Guard.

Now, when I think of cultists in an Iron Warriors' army, I'm greatly influenced by Graham McNeill's Storm of Iron to abandon the robed humans of the Dark Vengeance box set and instead field enslaved humans (Imperial Guard in particular) being driven inexorably forward as unto their deaths as cannon fodder/meat shield. With this idea in mind, I was excited to see that Victoria Miniatures would be bringing both Penal Guard and Arcadian Female models to the show.

Victoria Miniatures: Arcadian Rifles Squad (female)

Victoria Miniatures: Arcadian Rifles Squad (female): detail

As it turns out, Victoria put out a call for help on the Victoria Miniatures Facebook page asking if there were any volunteers to help her pack up product for the show. The guys I drove up with and I spent a couple hours Wednesday morning packing Inquisition and Arcadian Female blisters and I got to see the models up close and personal. The castings are good, with crisp, well-sculpted detail. There are some instances of flash, but they're generally super thin and break/scrape off with little effort. My favorite part of the minis is that the proportions in the legs and musculature in the exposed arms register as female without thrusting breasts, hips or thighs in your face. There's nothing pin-up about these minis. They look like real women in an active duty military.

Victoria Miniatures: Penal Guard

Victoria Miniatures: Penal Guard: detail

The Penal Guard I picked up look to be from a different batch of resin, but are just as crisp and detailed, with surprise details I never saw when looking through pics online (the back ripped with lash marks comes to mind). There is a bit more flash on these, but so far it's cleaned just as easily as with the females. The only word of warning I would give is to take extra care with any parts containing resin chains. They're particularly brittle and I broke two of them test-fitting pieces.

All-in-all they're both great kits. Though they do cost a premium ($50 for 10 figures), I don't think anyone out there is doing these themes as well as Victoria Miniatures, and if it's a look you're going for you cannot go wrong with them.

That being said, one of the reasons I was so excited to snag these minis were that their parts break-down is almost identical to Games Workshop's Imperial Guard figures, which I have a whole mess of still on sprue from a sidelined project. Looking at the parts break-down, I figured I could mix-and-match bits from 10 Penal Guard with 10 Imperial Guard to make a batch of 20 easily recognizable prisoners. Unfortunately, the viability of this came into question when I started putting the pieces side-by-side...

Penal Guard (white) | Imperial Guard (grey)

As you can see from the pics, the scale is a bit off. The Imperial Guard are sculpted in GW's (in)famous 28mm "Heroic" scale, while the Victoria Miniatures appear to be a true 28mm. The legs don't look too off, but directly next to each other, the heads, torsos and arms have a distinctly noticeable difference. At this point I was a bit disheartened at my plans, but very glad I picked up a second box of Penal Guard, figuring I could possibly throw some chains on the Arcadian Females, intersperse them with the Penal Guard, and have two units of 15 co-ed prisoners.

But, since I already had the pieces laid out, I decided to give it one last go ("For science!") and mock up some figures.

Mixed Kits (click for larger)

They don't mix nearly as badly as I'd thought. The scale is undoubtedly off, but it's only grossly so with certain bits combinations. Even those combos that jump out as off-scale will probably be minimized once the figures are painted. I wouldn't go so far as to call the two kits truly (haphazardly) interchangeable, but I think some careful planning will provide a nicely mixed unit with a prisoner theme throughout.

Of course, there are some bits combinations to avoid at all costs...

Friday, April 11, 2014

miscellaneous: adepticon 2014: wrap-up

Adepticon 2014 has come and gone, leaving with it the familiar pangs of too much inspiration and not enough time. Some random pics and thoughts from the event. Presented in alphabetical order...


I took far less classes this year than in the past, mostly due to a jammed web cart at registration. This turned out to be a blessing, as this may be the first year I didn't have so much new information rattling around in my brain that it became hard to digest. My roster of classes this year was:

  • Wet Blending with Jérémie Bonament-Teboul
  • Introduction to Freehand Painting with Chris Borer
  • Storytelling with Miniatures with Victoria Lamb
  • Making Miniatures the Hasslefree Way with Kev White
  • Painting Cloth with Sebastian Archer

Freehand | Sculpting

I learned something valuable from all the classes, but the Freehand and Wet Blending (which I tried out in the Freehand class) gave me the most immediate satisfaction. I want to grab some identical minis to try out both blending techniques and see which gels better. Either way, I plan to put all the classes to use over the next few months. After all, I've got gaming minis and Crystal Brush entries to paint, darn it!


From mix-matched bits you wouldn't normally think to combine in an army, to simple 1-or-2 step conversions that completely change the look/feel of a piece, there's always something worth taking note of for future reference.


With a $10,000 grand prize, the Crystal Brush always attracts some of the best painters from multiple continents. You can spend hours poring over the entries and all the little details. I've got several friends whose Crystal Brush entries presented very well. Here are a few entries from folks I don't know that tickled my fancy.

I adore this model. Wish I'd had a chance to pick up the resin version back when it was available. This version, with its richness of color, Victorian submarine, and angered mer-critters, resonates with me in a big way. Stunning execution of an already stunning model.

For me, it's evocative of all those years spent watching Black Sheep Squadron and Pacific War films with my grandfather. Even if it didn't, what's not to love about an Ork pilot climbing out of the wreckage of his crashed plane?

The painting on this one is a bit too perfect, too slick, for its subject matter. However, the subject matter - a kit-bashed tanks, silly grots, and Big Mek overseer - speak to my inner Ork.


The display boards this year were inspiring, with several teams taking the "bigger is better" approach. GMM's egg and throne chairs, Kebek II's infested hangar bay, the giant Tyranid ship siphoning the planet's biomass, all were impressive in their own right, and all have pictures easy enough to find online. Here are a few that impressed me in other ways.

I liked the understated simplicity of this Eldar board. I would've preferred the terrain's colors to be more obviously painted (more white than tan), but the overall flow and composition through the piece is sublime.

I've read several Black Library novels that had lush vegetation within them, but it's rare to see that expressed on the table-top. I had to get a pic of this board just for the sheer novelty of it. I'd love to see more like this in the future.

I don't know what this is, but it's unique and has a TIE cockpit on top. Very cool idea I'd love to see expanded on in the future.


I was only signed up for one gaming event this year - Dreadball: League in a Night - but that's far from all I played. I brought the same multi-purpose game bag I keep in my car at all times and every game in it - Rampage, Spartacus, Space Cadets: Dice Duel, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Dungeon Roll - hit the table at least once.

Sentinels of the Multiverse | Dreadball

The Dreadball event went poorly for me. I assisted a brand new player in defeating me 7-0 on his second turn, then tied game 2. The evening wasn't a total loss however, as my Turtons were a huge hit, with many folks asking how I'd made them and wanting to take pictures. I even had someone from the Mantic booth ask if I could bring them by the booth to be displayed the last day of the convention, which I happily obliged.


I also got in some games I'd never tried before. "Drunkhammer," with the Geek Nation Tours group was the Whose Line Is It Anyway of miniature games, where the rules are made up and the points don't matter. Our group could be heard hooting and hollering halfway down the hall, and several that walked by joined in the mischief. It was the most fun game of 40K I've ever had, and I can't wait to play it again.

On Sunday, at The D6 Generation's annual board-game party, several of my Adepti-family cracked open Nitro Dice, which had a fairly sharp learning curve but quickly revealed some fine-tuned balance and intricate risk/reward mechanics. I hope to give it another go soon. The same group also got in several games of Bang: The Dice Game. It plays fast, furious, and funny! Added bonus, it makes a hilariously bad RPG if you're willing to don stupid accents and play up Hollywood western stereotypes. I also finally got to try Werewolf, which was a good way to wind down and end the evening.


Once again, Adepticon's terrain didn't fail to impress. While I didn't get pics of the Infinity tables full of stellar terrain by MicroArt studios, Ironheart Artisans, and others, I did get a few shots of new additions to the 40K tables. The first thing to impress me were the new gaming mats by Frontline and Tablewar. Made of a mouse-pad-esque material, they proved both durable and resilient. I watched Reece pull them from his luggage, rolled and folded over, and place them on tables where they lay flat with no hint of crease or curl. I snagged some "with mat" and "without mat" shots on similar tables to give you an idea of how they look.

Grassland Adepti-table | Table War "Grassy Plains" Adepti-table

Desert Adepti-table | Table War "Barren Wasteland" Adepti-table

I really liked the "Urban Combat" mat as well, particularly the one at a slight angle, but once terrain was on it, I felt the minis got a little lost. At $85.00 for a 6' x 4' mat, they make a great addition to one's "third army."

The other big, and I mean BIG addition to the 40K terrain this year were the over-sized buildings crafted by the aforementioned Ironheart Artisans for the "Adepticon Titanicus" Warhound/Reaver battle held late Saturday night.

I loved these things, particularly the silo/bucket kit. They went together well and, with a slightly different paint job and some walkways, felt just at home with Infinity as they did with 40K. Couple these with a middle-eastern table they had set up for some historical gaming Friday night, and I expect we'll see Ironheart making great headway in the laser-cut terrain industry over the next year.


With the vendors back in the main hall, tournaments upstairs in suites, classes and events staring earlier than ever on Thursday, and the sheer volume of people in the hotel, this year's Adepticon didn't come close to approximating last year's totally chill, gamer-friendly vibe. However, I got lots of games in, spent time with good friends I don't see near often enough, and am already planning for next year. Which will be tricky. The ball-parked dates of mid March puts Adepticon squarely in "Spring Break" season locally, which is a notoriously hard time to get off work. I really want to make it, as I've spent six years turning this trip into an annual pilgrimage. Adepticon is also the one time a year I can count on incredible classes, well themed displays, and eye-achingly gorgeous minis to recharge and reinvigorate my hobby batteries. And my once-a-year friends - Damon, Celso, Nick, Jen, Matt, Adam, David, Hank et. al. - are cherished. The people are easily the greater part of Adepticon for me. If I can't make it my heart will ache in the weeks leading up to it, and the weeks after.

My PTO request goes in as soon as dates are official.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

paint: work-in-progress: sturm & drang, pt 3

Before we left for Adepticon, I had a chance to wash the salt off the Dreads. There were three or four spots where the resin came back through - not sure whether I didn't wash the release agent well enough pre-priming, scrubbed too hard with the brush, or a little of both, but they should be minor fixes. For my first try with this technique, I'm fairly impressed. I feel like I'll be able to make these work.