Monday, February 28, 2011

Another Termie Re-Pose

I worked on another Terminator for my Black Templars today - I'm doing my best to make a squad of dynamic-looking Assault Terminators out of the dull-as-dishwater Assault on Black Reach Terminator sprues.  This one will be a lot more subtle than the last one - unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's less work, as you'll see...

Here's my starting point, an AoBR Terminator:

After basic assembly, I cut off the right leg:

Then I cut the left leg at the knee:

I trimmed the left leg and jammed a bunch of Green Stuff in there for the time being:

I set the legs in place with Green Stuff, then let it get a bit tacky so I could play with the pose:

Then I started refining the re-sculpting of the legs a bit:

I pre-assembled the left arm, Forge World shoulderpad, & Storm Shield, since I knew space was going to be tight due to the pose:


The I added a Black Templars Terminator crest:

Then I played with the pose until i got it where I wanted it:

The new pose actually takes advantage of the Dragon Forge base, with the Terminator having his feet on different levels:

Final assembly:

It still needs a bit of sanding after the Green Stuff fully cures, but here's the mostly finished product:'s actually a very subtle change, and mostly only noticeably different from the originals when it's side-by-side with them, but I think it makes a big difference...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Movie Review: Ultramarines back around the holidays I ordered a copy of Ultramarines, and it showed up in my mailbox on Christmas Eve.  I mentioned this to lars4life, and we agreed that we would get together to watch it.  Well, after dealing with the holidays, everyone in his house being sick, a blizzard, everyone in my house being sick, a back injury, and an ice storm, we finally got together six weeks later and checked it out.  (Check out his review here).

The Packaging:
I do want to mention that the "Collector's Edition" is a very nice set - there is a small-format, hardcover graphic novel, two DVD's (one with the movie, one with bonus content) in a stamped metal case, and a slipcase to hold everything.  I understand that a lot of people are waiting for a cheaper "basic" edition to become available, but I definitely didn't feel ripped off paying for the Collector's Edition.

The Visuals:
By far the biggest drawback of the movie.  The filmmakers obviously focused on a few "showpiece" shots (closeups of the main characters, scenes of post-battle carnage) but the vast majority of scenes look like circa-1990's computer animation.  The majority of the movie takes place on a world that is conveniently covered in dense fog, and apparently Space Marine Strike Cruisers are kept so dark that you can't see five feet in front of your face.  I haven't watched the bonus content as of this writing, but I hear that one of the segments is all about how they spent hundred of hours making sure that the Space Marines moved realistically - well, guess what guys, you missed the mark.  One thing visually I did like - the first-person POV in some of the battle scenes is very stylized & chaotic, and really did a decent job capturing what I've imagined combat to be like in the 40K universe.

The Story:
Actually not bad at all.  Given the time & budget constraints, the story was understandably kept extremely narrow - we're watching a brief recon mission in real time.  I've only started reading Black Library books very recently, and the movie uses a trope I've already seen three or four times ("We just happened to pick up this barely-audible distress signal...")  There is a twist at the end that is done pretty well.

Nitpicky Stuff:
I'm not going to niggle over small details (I read some blogs & listened to some podcasts where they were appalled that the chapter trim colors didn't match the squad's designations, or that the weapons that the Marines carried didn't mirror a legal list choice - seriously, guys?  These are the things that get your panties in a wad?)  But there were a few details that bothered me - I guess the Chaplain's Crozius now has a plus-eleventy-million Death Ray built into it, and Ultramarines apparently crumple & bleed out when hit by a single bolt pistol shot - except when they're in a hurry, then one of them can single-handedly kill hundreds of enemies with just a sword.  I realize that the movie was made for a more "general" audience than a "hardcore gamer" audience, but these are pretty major fluff violations, and Dan Abnett should know better.

Overall, I'd agree with lars4life - 6 out of 10 for me.  I've paid to see worse movies in my life.  I'd like to see this endeavor be successful enough that they make more movies based in the 40K universe, but I'd like to see more attention focused on developing interesting characters & stories - how about a traditional war movie, but following an Imperial Guard unit?  Or a supernatural thriller featuring The Inquisition?  I understand why they used Space Marines the first time out, as they are the "cash cow" of the 40K universe, but there are a lot more interesting stories to tell...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tutorial: Re-Posing a Terminator

I don't think it's any secret that many 40K players buy the "starter box", cannibalize it for the models they want to bulk up their armies, then sell off / trade what they don't need - this can actually be a great way to game on a budget.  the thing is, GW realizes this, and takes steps to avoid it - the models aren't quite as detailed or dynamic as the ones in the "full price" box, they go together differently (making chapter conversions or kitbashing with existing kits much more difficult), and they usually only include one weapon.  A good example of this is the Terminators that come in the Assault on Black Reach box:

image © Games Workshop

...they'e all in the same pose, with identical weapons, except for the Sergeant - I have a set of these in the first army I ever built, and trust me, they look dull as dirt on the table.  But, a box of Terminators is fifty dollars retail, and you can get Black Reach Terminators for fifteen dollars - so, it's certainly tempting to try to go the cheaper route.  What are your options?  Well, as far as weapons, you can turn to your bitz box, eBay, Forge World, or the Barter Bucket - I'll leave that up to you.  For this article, I'm going to focus on re-posing a Terminator, so the squad doesn't look like a bunch of statues on the table.

Here's my starting point - a basic Terminator from Assault on Black Reach:

I decided that I wanted to model  this Terminator like he's charging across the battlefield, running for the enemies' front lines while ducking behind his Storm Shield for cover.  To start, I cut off one of the model's legs with my hobby knife:

Then I had to trim the leg to get the right angle - otherwise it would be kicked out to the side, making it look like the Terminator was dancing a crazy jig (amusing, maybe, but not really what I'm going for):

Then I had to file down the joint so it was flat:

I also used my jeweler's files to "re-cut" the Terminator's belt, since that detail was behind the hip plate on the original model:

Then I had to use a round file to extend the rounded channel on the bottom of the torso plate:

...then I glued the leg in place with plastic glue.  I'll let the glue get a bit "tacky" and come back to it in a bit.

Next, I turned my attention to the opposite foot - I needed it to be "bent" so it didn't look like the Terminator was on his tippy-toes while he was running.  I cut the foot with my side cutters:

Then, I glued just the top edge, leaving the foot bent:

Next, I mixed up some Green Stuff:

...and packed it into the gap in the foot:

Now, I'll return to the hip joint - the plastic glue is tacky, but not set completely.  This allows me to play with the angle of the leg without it falling off completely.  Once I had it where I wanted it, I packed the space in the hip joint with Green Stuff: this point I set the model aside for about an hour - I want the Green Stuff to set up, but still be a bit pliable.  After an hour, I switched out the scalpel blade in my hobby knife for a scoring blade:

This gives me a better angle to work on the hip joint - I used my hobby knife to re-sculpt the "ribs" at the hip joint to match the other side:

Next, I decided to mount the model on its base - this will allow me to play with the angle of the arms more easily:

I used the sculpting of the base to my advantage, positioning the front of the foot against a slope - this makes the running pose look more natural, while at the same time hiding the wire I used for pinning:

I added the Thunder Hammer at what I thought was the most natural-looking angle:

The other arm is going to be a bit trickier, since it will be holding a large Storm Shield from Forge World:

...the model is also going to get resin shoulderpads - the one on the right is from Forge World, the onle on the left is from Scibor Miniatures:

I glued the left arm on with plastic glue - again, this will give me a bit of lead time to play with the angle while it sets:

While the plastic glue was curing, I decided to attach the shoulder pads.  The right shoulder needed a bit of shaving & filing to get the shoulder pad from Scibor's to fit properly:

Shoulder pads attached.  I also added a Black Templars Terminator crest:

The right shoulder pad is substantially bigger, but this is also the case with the Forge World versions - the side with just the Terminator crux is smaller.  it will also be less noticeable with the large Storm Shield on the opposite side of the model.

I attached the Storm Shield to the left arm using super glue and cyanoacrylate accelerator, so it would quickly set and not fall off when I played with the angle of the arm.

Next I adjusted the angle of the left arm, to make it appear like the Terminator was peering over the edge of the Storm Shield as he was charging across the battlefield:

I'm happy with the result - it's a nice contrast to the static pose of the original model:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Note To Self...

...when you follow so many hobby blogs that by the time you get to the bottom of your RSS feed, a dozen new items have propagated, you might have too many.

Monday, February 21, 2011


So thanks to lars4life's better half being on the lookout, they picked me up an Ottlite for cheap:

...I've been wanting one of these for a long time, but they've always been too pricey for me - this is actually a model that uses a standard desk lamp, but includes an Ottlite CFL bulb:

Honestly I've been doing more building than painting lately, but I've had the chance to work with it a little - the difference in color is noticeable.  I've been using 50w GE "Reveal" bulbs in clip-on desk lamps, and it was difficult to get them shining directly on the model without having them so close to my head that I was actually afraid I was going to burn my scalp a few times.  This lamp is much nicer for close work, although I wish it had one more point of articulation - halfway up the telescoping pole would be convenient, since you can't position the light so it's shining straight down.  I expect this light will be a big help when I'm highlighting my Black Templars, since it can be a struggle to keep track of gray highlights on a black model...

Friday, February 18, 2011

First Assault Terminator I've been gathering bits for my Black Templars - most of the models in the lot that I bought were actually from the Assault on Black Reach set, so they didn't include a lot of the weapon options I would have liked.  also, since I saved so much money on the models themselves, I decided to outfit them with all the Black Templar goodies - but, the GW Chapter Upgrade Pack is expensive, and seems to include lots of bits that you don't need a lot of, and not many of the bits that you do need a lot of - so, I decided to buy what I wanted "a la carte" from the bitz sellers.  On top of all that, I don't seem to be able to build a model lately without lots of Forge World or other resin geegaws, so I had to wait for those to get here too.  Needless to say, once I finally had everything in hand, I was anxious to assemble an Assault Terminator with all the various goodies.

I started with a AoBR Terminator model, still on the sprue:

The additional bits its going to receive are:

-A Black Templars Terminator crest:

-A Thunder Hammer:

-A set of resin Black Templars shoulderpads & a resin Storm Shield from Forge World:

...about the time I got the Forge World Storm Shields in the mail, I realized that I didn't have any of the shield arms for the Terminators.  D'oh!  I went looking online and unfortunately it didn't seem like anyone sold them without the Storm Shields, and those were pricey.  I finally found some Space Wolf arms & Storm Shields on eBay for much cheaper:

Luckily, there is little in the way of Space Wolves iconography on the arms themselves that needs to be removed; one arm has a fur tassel hanging from the power line, and another has a rune at the wrist - I think that's about it.

(BTW, why are the Space Wolf Storm Shields so much cheaper?  Are assault termies not a popular option for Wolf players?  (I don't really know much about Space Wolves...)

Anyway, nothing complicated on this particular model - here's the assembly:

Basic assembly:

I had to clip the "pegs" off of the torso, since I'm not using the "press-fit" arms from the AoBR box:
Adding the Thunder Hammer:

Shoulder pads:

Terminator crest:

 Storm Shield:

I'm using Dragon Forge Designs "Broken Wasteland" 40mm bases for these Termies:

Pinning for the base:

Just a couple spots of Green Stuff work needed on this model - here, at the Storm Shield power cable connection:

...and here at the shoulder pad:


...I'm pretty pleased with the result - the Assault Terminators are probably going to get the most love out of all my Terminator squads for this army, just 'cause I think they're cool.  This will also probably be the only Terminator in this squad that isn't going to be converted into new pose, so stay tuned for those...