Monday, 26 September 2016

Model Display Products Dropzone Bases

Last week I popped down Firestorm to play a few games of Age of Sigmar and Malifaux (need to get those Divergent Paths games in!) and while I was there innocently minding my own business getting whomped by Dom, Martyn (the owner of Model Display Products) chucked a bag of resin at me. This wasn't as violent as it sounds as the bag contained four sets of miscasts from his new joint venture with Hawk Wargames, sets of sculpted scenic bases for Dropzone commander Infantry.

Now when I say miscasts, these weren't mis-moulded in any way you could tell, Martyn prides himself on his high quality control, and all these bases had wrong with them were air bubbles in the bottom of the base, enough that Martyn wouldn't want to sell them, but realistically perfectly fine. As luck would have it I had a blister of Berserkers and a set of Free riders yet to be based at home, so I decided to do a quick review of the bases to show them off a bit as a thank you to Martyn, as well as talking through any issues/worries that I had with them.

To start with i'll describe what we have here- Martyn has sculpted 2 sets of bases for the 10mm infantry in Hawk Wargames Dropzone range, these are over the standard hawk bases so are the right size in every way, and he has two variants in each set- one with 5 spaces for infantry, and one with 3. I don't know what Martyn is going to call the variants, but for now I'm going to refer to them as Ruins and Rubble.


The ruins bases have high sections of ruined wall, girders and brickwork standing between 3-12mm proud of the base itself, the detail is pretty high with ruined arches, door lintels and window frames mixed in amongst the brickwork and slabs. 


The rubble bases have much lower sections of texture, with bricks, rocks etc and some of the same details as the ruins bases but an overall lower profile, probably 3mm raised max, there's more dirt/gravel type texture on these bases than the ruins though. (already built the freeriders before I had the review idea, oops..)


When Martyn first talked about his idea for custom bases I was interested, but had two initial misgivings- firstly that irregular infantry like bikes, razorworms etc wouldn't fit on bases with too much detail, and secondly that the detail could cover the holes themselves and make it difficult to fit the troops in. 

On looking at the bases I had, I think the first worry was definitely going to be an issue with the ruins bases- they are (to me) the best looking bases of the pair, but the raised detail was going to make it impossible for my freeriders to fit without carving a fair chunk of it off, which would defeat the point of using pre-made bases. The rubble bases however looked like they'd be much better, and so I decided to go with those for the freeriders.

They assembled very easily, none of the holes had been filled by the texture, and although the raised detail meant that I couldn't have them exactly parallel to each other this actually looks much more natural than my other freeriders (who look strangely regimented in comparison) I did have an issue where I accidentally used two of the rear mounted bikes on one base, so I then had to  do a bit of chopping and changing to get the last bike to fit, but this also added to a lack of uniformity so I'm happy with it. 

As I'd used the rubble for the bikers, it seemed sensible to use the ruins for the infantry. 

Now these were a little trickier to build than the first set, and one of the reasons was my second worry- one of the bases (in the bottom right of the picture) has two sockets that have been very slightly covered by texture, this meant I had to trim the stands on the berserkers to fit. This didn't take long as it literally meant just clipping off a sliver on one side, and the rest fit in very snug (even sliding under detail in a few places to fit very nicely). The other reason it was a bit tricky is two of the berserkers are waving their arms about a fair bit and there were a few slots on each base where they wouldn't stand facing forwards, not a huge issue but it did make it more important to plan ahead. 


Once the glue had dried I sprayed them black and gave them a few quick layers of grey and brown drybrushes to match the rest of my infantry, trying to keep the brown on the textured dirt areas and the grey on the detail. the raised detail is sharp enough that even a simple two-tone drybrush of each colour really picked it up, I then gave it a final very light drybrush of bone over the most raised areas to tie the two colours together and catch the eye a little more. 

Yep, that's a terrible photo, but you get the drift. I'm not great at painting infantry preferring vehicles where I can see the detail (my eyes aren't what they used to be) so I tend to base them first, then use the drybrushed areas as a basecoat to pick out details. I gave the bikes a quick red and yellow paintjob, with the riders keeping the green coveralls and grey plates my resistance fighters wear. The berserkers I decided to paint in a red and black scheme, with the skin in various tones then lightly painted over in white and black for a bit of a 'warboys' vibe. 

I picked out some detail on the bases first with bone, then pure white, I wanted it to look like ruined plaster- there are plenty of red-brick type detail pieces that I think would look amazing picked out in that colour, but it wouldn't have blended in well with my force so I stuck with plain grey for the most part. The details I did pick out were door lintels, interior walling, oversized blocks etc. I tried to spread it out across each base so it wasn't overwhelming the minis but there's enough detail on there to give a fair bit of choice on how you want to bring it out.

After this I inked the whole lot (base, bike, berserker) with Agrax Earthshade and left it to dry before adding some foliage tufts to show the overgrown nature of the core worlds. 

Freeriders on rubble bases- 

Berserkers on ruins bases-


I have a tendency to make my own bases for 28-32mm scale minis, but when I started dropzone I stuck to plain sand bases with clump foliage for the most part- only my veterans got some ruins and rubble to hide behind. When I think how long I spent trying to get the base texture looking good without getting in the minis way and compare it to how easy these bases are to build and paint then I'm definitely going to stick with these in the future (they look better too annoyingly). 

The detail is lovely and crisp, and pretty varied across the stands, especially when you think that you could spin them 180 degrees and they'd look very different. There are very few plain areas across all the bases, meaning there's very little work to do, and they needed hardly any cleaning up too. (although as these were miscast even the cleaning up I did have to do would probably not be needed on a finished product) 

They didn't manage to completely avoid the pitfalls I envisaged early on, larger infantry like ATV's and potentially even destroyers are going to need a little work on both sets (less on the rubble) although Martyn's done a great job of keeping the sockets almost entirely clear of texture. I'd definitely recommend covering the models little minibase with a textured paint of some sort once they are in place to blend them in (I went back and did this myself) but other than that they look really good and take very little effort to get that way. I'm not sure how much they are looking to retail at (or even when they hit general release with Hawk) but I'll definitely be picking more rubble bases up for my Scout ATV's and will use the remaining MDP bases I have for my Marine Force Recon and Sappers:)

I also now have spare sets of plain bases, allowing me a little freedom to sculpt some texture of my own for Martyn to potentially get cast up- so my question is what sort of bases would be nice outside the ruined urban environment, desert, jungle, space station or even something else? 


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Rail Golem and Archie

I was asked earlier this year to do a sculpt of Archie. a wave 4 Malifaux model for a friend, and as he had generously given me a lot of Dropzone stuff before this it seemed a fair swap, I sculpted him with a mix of milliput and plasticine for the core, with green stuff  and milliput mixed for the details. I found this worked a lot better at holding its shape than many techniques I've used, it would have certainly saved me a lot of time with my Ogre army!, here's a few shots of the finished piece-

I'm pretty happy with him, I even sculpted a hand (the big one, the little ones are from my bits box because I hate hands) he is huge, and way out of scale as I messed up on the picture- I scaled him based on the guys in front, but forgot they were kneeling.. You can see him in the back right...

I've also been asked for a few close ups of Babe Ruth, my Rail Golem- so here are a few from my phone- not the greatest as my poor photography skills are once again coming to the fore. I also noticed a chip on his finger after the photo which needs picking up. It's odd that Babe was one of my earliest Malifaux models, and the first scratch build I'd done for a long time, and Archie is my latest and another scratch build, though using totally different techniques, yet I am pretty proud of both of them:) - 


Thursday, 14 July 2016

playing with filters

another gap after a post, getting bad at those, will have to keep an eye out! I haven't managed a tremendous amount of painting recently due to health crud, however I did focus on one project enough to get it near finished- My malifaux Mr Cooper's Carnival crew.

The idea here is to only take models that fit the theme, and if I need something that doesn't fit, i have to convert it. I'm taking it to a couple of tourneys this year (which is probably a bad thing as I have so far scored 7 points total in 5 games played with them) and this should give me such a limited pool of miniatures that I'll be a lot faster getting a crew on the table each game, it also means I can go to town on the painting as there's less to paint compared to the rest of my Arcanists

two models have jumped ship and ran away to join the circus- Johanna and my Gunsmith were colourful enough to fit the theme (and I wanted a relic hammer for the test your strength machine) so they've been rebased, everything else is purchased just for this crew. (or blagged from a good friend in the case of the firestarter)

I've not taken the best photos yet, BUT as I'm building a fate deck to match the crew, I've taken some quick phone photos and ran them through filters at Pixlr o-matic-

to get them looking monochromatic, old and battered, and as this doesn't give too much away about the finished article, I thought I'd share:)

Steam Raptor (raptor body with bits box bits and etch-master wings)

Angry Monkeys


Effigy (memory man)

Harlequin Ice dancer (proxy made from december acolyte with TTB arms and head))

Gunsmith (famous sharpshooter Dirty Rosewood)

Big Jake (from Wild West Exodus range)

2 shots of Acolytes (Acrobats) not sure which I like best

Mercury, strongest man in the world!

Thin Lizzy- The Bearded Lady

Arielle- Mermaid of Malifaux (there's a howard langston (which it represents) a brass arachnid, a mannequin and a performer in there somewhere) 

The Killephant (killjoy with green stuff)

Luther, the Pascha hare

Johanna and the relic hammer game.

The Wolf Girl (proxy for myranda, TTB body legs and head, Hamelin's spunkcloud provided the arms and the face is green stuff) 

Mr Cooper, Carnival Master

Baritone Lola, sweetest thing in the carnival

The Funstarter, the party doesn't start till he does!

stay tuned for colour photographs when I get the time, lighting and equipment to do it properly!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Call to Arms- first Dropzone Tournament

I got my Dropzone stuff a year or more ago, when some well-meaning friends bought me the Resistance starter set to get involved with their games, but as they have actual real lives they are still building their Blotz and 4Ground terrain, so no games occurred... I picked up a few extras at Salute- Salakhan and a lifthawk for him plus some freeriders and the ltd battle bus, got some base colours on them and then just left them in my cabinet to fester.

Until last month when hawk got together with Firestorm and their staff member Callum (the most lackadaisical organiser ever, he called the teams 'A' and '1' so none of us precious flowers felt we were second best...) to organise an escalation campaign- this was perfect as week one was starter set (check) week two was starter and commander (check) and I could build from there. I took the opportunity to get some highlights, shading and detail on the boys, plus a few conversions here and there (Salakhan gained some ablative armour) and came up with a theme of classic tattoos, then as my army grew I added elaborate freehand to each vehicle to distract from the basic paintwork;). The league ended in a tournament that was open to all- Call to Arms, and after getting the last bit of paint on my battle buses and Lifthawk the day before, and taking out my beautiful wife for pizza in exchange for a lift Sunday morning, I was good to go...

My List-

Command: Alexander with lifthawk (AA cannon) & 2 x freeriders (subT).
Vehicle: Gun wagons in Kraken & 6x rocket techs (subT).
Rusted fist: hannibals with lifthawk (AA cannon) & 2 x cyclones.
Troops: 1 x fighters & 2 x veterans in Jacksons with lifthawk (AA cannon).
Troops: 2 x fighters in Buses  (AA guns), in Kraken.
Infiltrators: 3 x freeriders.
Extras: 1x drill. 2 x level 3 commanders.

Game 1 vs Mark- Feral resistance - standard scenario (all buildings hardened)
My first turn, a spectacularly average deployment...

His list highlights- 6 cyclones(!), thunderstorm, sappers& resistance fighters in jacksons&lifthawk, scout atv’s, 2x gun wagon krakens. 

look at all those whirlybirds....

Let's not go near them shall we?

I’ve played only 4(5?) full games prior to this, and 2 of them have been against resistance, so I was happy to be playing someone where I knew what things did, and as a more experienced player he was very friendly and helpful in giving me hints and tips on how to use my own stuff more effectively. (I in turn started playing his game for him which was a little rude, even though I was trying to be helpful!) Both Mark and myself were absolutely dogged with some of the most appalling dice rolling I have ever seen throughout the game, almost as though the two resistance armies hearts just weren’t in it!

The sight of 6 Cyclones put the fear of god into me, and Mark explained that he was playing an experimental list, they certainly looked impressive on the table, especially later when my 2 got involved as well! 

"Yeah I'm pretty sure I've got this.... *gulps*"

The first turns involved us both spreading out and filtering in to the close objectives, with most of the damage coming from Mark smashing my close objective building with everything he had, and despite the hardened building he managed to lay a good 15 points onto it. Turn 2 the jammy git escaped with his close objective in a Jackson after a lucky search roll, whereas my poor fighters from the bus unit were too busy ducking falling masonry to really put their best into searching.  His thunderstorm advanced towards my Alexander who closed his eyes and hoped for the best, but the sandal of death was more concerned with dropping rocks on my troops so he survived unscathed (for now) I quickly got my vet detachment with their fighters in the centre building where they weathered the storm- the hardened buildings made this a VERY different game than it should have been, his demo set up would have ruined me in a normal game but so little damage was done the masonry barely affected gameplay.

tadaa! no Thunderstorm!

Turn three the game took a pretty hefty leap in my direction, as the combined fire from the Alexander, Cyclones and Occupation Veterans in the centre reduced the thunderstorm to scrap, and my Bus mob found their objective and skedaddled. The Cyclone squad of death also ran out of missiles this turn- which was very telling (I talked to mark later and he said he thought the amount of limited shots in play between his cyclones and sappers severely hampered his late game, and in this game it was definitely the case, especially with the scout ATV’s tying up more points into a non-offensive role). I didn’t have it all my own way however as Mark had done an excellent job of reducing the remaining centreline objective building on my side to a very precarious number of wounds, smashing the second bus squad under the masonry in the process, so I daren’t risk taking it despite the monorail I had set up from my close objective building, and he did manage to get a couple of squads into his remaining centre building and shred my gun wagons with a clever sappers blast.

The view from the centre, it's all air baby. 

The last few turns both our abysmal luck held strong, with my vets taking strafing fire from the gun wagons, and the hovercrafts having a pop-gun fight in the open space but very little of consequence dying (think my fighters in the centre building combined their SA fire with the remaining gun truck to drop one cyclone) however we both had a great stroke of luck on objectives- we both found our centre objectives turn 5, and My drill allowed me to palm mine off the table through a jackson, whereas Mark managed to get a similar APC into an undamaged lifthawk which fled the table.

At this point the resistance armies just gave up and called it quits...

The game ended 10-10 with a small difference in Kill points, and I think Mark’s experience being offset by his crazy composition is what gave me the chance to get back in the game. The veterans and the Alexander both put in a sterling job of slagging enemy ground vehicles and buildings for me, (despite the attentions his ATV’s were paying the Alexander) so they get brownie points for sure. A very tight game with a great opponent who unfortunately went on to get the wooden spoon (which was a limited edition double decker, so not a bad prize for a resistance player at all!) 

Game 2 vs Sean- UCM- capture the flanks

His list highlights- 6x rapiers, 2 Scimitars (aka giant laser tanks of death), 2 archangels, troops in light dropships (regular and Praetorians), Eagle gunship, 3 katanas, Ferrum, Kodiak.

My second game was against Sean of Hawk Wargames, he had a lovely crisp painted UCM in pale blue, and although I had played UCM before I hadn’t seen a few of the units in game- notably the Ferrum, the flying missile battery and the horrific laser tanks of infinite death. It was also my first game against fast movers, although I’m not sure they were actually against me as they were uniquely rubbish all game!
We've taken the building!

I learnt what an actual demolition list could do in this game, as turn one he combined his scimitars, katanas, rapiers and eagle and reduced my close objective to 3 damage points left, wiping out one squad of fighters entirely (no masonry hit the other squad whatsoever?) I retaliated in turn two by pounding some alexander shells into his objective wounding some of his troops, and once again dumping my Vets and their attached gophers into the centre building. By the end of turn three both close objectives had been reduced to rubble, taking out my fighters (and their objective, in fairness they could have got out but the warlord would not have liked that...) and almost all Sean’s infantry (one squad in a light dropship was hiding behind the centre tower where I failed to notice it every turn!, and one squad escaped) but not before Sean found his target and scarpered off-table. That turn I fired everything at his CO building, including the dropships, alexander, hannibals, Veterans and even the Jackson’s grenade launchers to take off the final wound! (which got them killed turn 4) but the 5/6 infantry stands inside it made it a prime target.

What building? oops....

During most of this game my Alexander and his scimitars had a straight out stand and shoot party, the Alex jogging about a bit to gain cover and avoid Kodiak shots, Sean had the best of this inflicting 6 dp on the Alex over the game (2 field repairs keeping it in play!) but I managed to erase one of the opposing tanks before withdrawing to the safety of cover. 

As you can see, this firefight is going entirely as planned. Entirely.

From Turn 4 onwards I had a very good game (something Sean prophesied before the game even started) my veterans and the fighters in the centre slagged almost all his ground units bar 3 katanas and a couple of rapiers, making it almost impossible for him to take the focal points, and my cheeky AA on the battle buses kept his drone squads down to a barely threatening number (the buses also provided a wall between the Alexander and the remaining scimitar at one point as it was looking pretty bad for the big guy!). I used my freeriders and cyclones to threaten the remaining ground vehicles forcing them into hiding or back onto their dropships, and resisted the urge to send my drill after the ferrum and used it to solidly claim a focal point. I also managed to drop the eagle on my second attempt after having stern words with my gun wagons.. The vets in the centre finally found their objective, although Sean committed his last Praetorians squad in to stall for time I still managed to drive them off, and eventually monorailed to a building far from his LoS to keep the objective safe for the last turn or so.
"Operation, bus w****** is in progress" 

Turn 6 was mainly about the focal points, I actually landed a lifthawk to deny his rapiers a landing space, as well as spreading out my freeriders and technicals (he managed to drop them on a roof just in range) whilst on the other FP his katanas tried to get in but were finally stopped by a point blank shot from the cyclones. I haven’t mentioned his archangels much so I’ll point out here that they turned up turn 2, then promptly either missed or failed to damage my cyclones every turn until they were eventually shot down in ignominy, I’m pretty sure my commander must have paid them off at some point...

The game ended 5-3 to me (he had one objective off table and the rapiers near a FP, I had both FP for 2 pts each and one objective on table) a solid win with a big difference in KP making it a hefty 16-4 in tournament points to me. I thought I would struggle with the Ferrum and its drones directing Kodiak fire, but Sean’s terrible luck with the Kodiak and my amusingly successful battle bus shooting really nerfed the command detachments effectiveness. The heroes of the day were the Vets (again) for stripping his armour away with a blistering round of shooting in turn 4, although the Alexander vs death star scimitars was a cracking shoot out. Sean was great to play despite a bit of poor luck on his part, and again I picked up an awful lot (demolition is way more important than I ever thought before today). a great opponent and if you ever do get to play him you're guaranteed a great game. 

Game 3 vs Andrew- PHR- scenario- table quarters thing

(Anyone that knows me relatively well will see a pattern in most reports- I start with lots of photo's, many inane, and by the end I'm so excited I take none at all, hence.....)

His list highlights- 6x Helios, Zeus command with a buddy, 2x sirens squads in light dropships, 2 x standard squads/snipers in lights, a lot of walkers (2x Hyperion,2 x Odin,  3x Menchit, 3x Ares, 3x apollo?) in a metric tonne of dropships.

Somehow my 26 Tournament points had conspired to place me on the top table for the last game versus Andrew- a previous winner at the big tournaments. He played a walker heavy list with a respectable 6 helios anti-air skimmers that proved to be the bane of my existence…

I was unsure how to approach this mission, it seemed a difficult fit for my force selection, especially against a PHR force that would ruin anything without countermeasures pretty quickly, and played a cagey first turn, however a badly positioned lifthawk gave him a turn 2 shot at it with his helios, and in one shot he took out the veterans, fighters, their Jackson's and a good 1/5th of my army… In honesty I was almost ready to quit right there, as I couldn’t see me pulling it back against a superior force and a superior player, but Andrew convinced me it’s never over till it’s over, so I got stuck back in.

On Turn 3 an almost certainly suicidal run by my Cyclones with strike masters supported by my hannibals managed to take out 2 walkers and 2 Helios, as well as spreading some damage around other models, and my Freeriders closed in and started chipping away at his flank. Andrews anti-infantry walker single handedly exterminated almost all my remaining troops where they hid in a building, whilst the walkers with him had no trouble blasting the battlebuses apart, though the technicals and hovercraft did survive most of the game under heavy fire, enough to secure a table quarter point for me at least.

In the centre My remaining dropships and Hannibals fought a surprisingly grim battle with the PHR, I chipped individual models out of units here and there (I don't think any of his units ended the game fully intact on the right flank), and my gun wagons also did a sterling job of ending his light dropships, unfortunately every one of them managed a safe landing, freeing up his troops to assault my remaining infantry through a network of multiple monorails… The poor fighters would have struggled against one unit of Sirens, 2 units and some basic infantry was way more than they could handle. his snipers fared less well however, as I ruined the building they took cover in with a barrage of fire from the Alexander and some well-placed sticky mines and the masonry wiped them out.

In the final turn I started to try and consolidate my forces to hold at least one quarter, and score a point of the remaining ones, (I also finally killed the damn Helios that cost me the game with an IED card) but Andrew had played a blinder, his troops swept into the buildings in my quarter and because they were hugely expensive Sirens, and doubled their value in buildings, he swept the board for a 8-3 win. after a scrappy start my 'just kill everything' plan did pay off slightly however, in that our kill points were close enough to deny him and extra TP (and thus not lose me any) for a 15-5 win to Andrew.

I can't blame everything on the Lifthawk loss and bad dice (though my dice were poor), I made some bad choices (including the lifthawk positioning and underestimating Helios speed) and my inexperience with PHR meant I judged a few situations more in my favour than they actually were, The cyclone's suicide run netted me a fair whack of  kill points for me, they certainly wounded enough walkers that it allowed my lifthawk's shaped charges able to finish the job, especially when aided by the free riders. Andrew knows his game, and it showed- as well as being very helpful to me (Andrew played resistance at Invasion so knew my force pretty well) he kept his own troops pretty tight, he didn't commit anything without a solid purpose, and without the extra move on the cyclones I would have struggled to catch him out. He certainly deserved the win, though I do think I could have tried to make it a bit close for him;) I'm not a fan of this scenario and will definitely have to play it a few more times to get the hang of it.

So I finished 7th, which whilst not great is actually much higher than I expected, having lost pretty much every game I'd played to this point... I also won best painted, something I was very chuffed with as I always try to field something that looks good, but never assume anything. This netted me a limited edition hardback rulebook- I had no idea what was special about it but as someone who collects concept art books I am very pleased with it- the extra art is incredible! as mentioned the unfortunate Mark Dodridge took wooden spoon- a classy double decker for a classy player, he took a risk with his list and had a blast, but only for two turns a game it appears;) The winners were Sam Derbyshire in 3rd with PHR, Peter Hillard in Second with UCM (two ferrums list, and got the special ferrum for a prize!(edit- only one ferrum apparently, somehow even that was too much...) and Andrew Page took the win after the convincing slapping he gave me. (couldn't have gone to a nicer bloke)

The Hawk guys were really friendly, brought a lot of shiny toys for dropfleet and even a 3up dropfleet ship (which was covered in guns) everyone was awesome, even the people who had travelled a fair distance to get here:) Looking forward to getting some more games in and if there's another event locally I'm in, will even take a look at Invasion later this year if I can:)

The top three Sam Derbyshire, Peter Hillard and Andrew Page (in reverse order to complicate things), Andrew is on the right, looking smug..

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Mysterious Emissary

despite not having Neverborn, I decided I liked the Mysterious emissary art enough to have a crack at making one, i'm very happy with the result, I don't fully sculpt a model very often (I'm pants at faces and hands) so this is a proud achievement for me, even made a few of the terrain markers it generates to go with it:) I've since found it a good home with a neverborn player who appreciates the emissaries on-table abilities.

entirely green stuff and grey stuff, the only element on the model I didn't sculpt is the tree and crow on the base, they're from Avatar Zoraida who is currently swimming around as my Ice dancer.  

The pistachio shells on the bases are pretty obvious, but the larger creatures are a bit more unusual= they're press moulded from an antique spoon my wife has hanging in the kitchen;)
 you'll also notice the photo quality is somewhat better (i.e. marvellous instead of utter tosh) that's down to Jonah taking the photo's for me, he's got the knack that boy:)