Monday, 23 March 2020

Socially isolating with the Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game




Like everyone else in this country I'm rather cut off from social contact for the moment. I'm not full-on self-isolating (yet!) because of where I work but its not like I'm going out of an evening any time soon.

My housemate and I decided we needed a project to throw ourselves into in the meantime and so we've decided to get into the Middle-Earth Strategy Battle Game. He's bought the rulebooks and the Battle of Pelennor Fields box set and I dug up some old Haradrim models I bought once upon a time when they were new.

At the moment I have absolutely no idea how this system works, my housemate is still working his way through the rules and I'll have a look once he's finished. All I know is that I have six cavalry and twenty four infantry that need painting.

Why the Haradrim? Because I love their colours. A lot of the LoTR armies are either very plain silver armour or a very plain selection of earth tones but the Haradrim have a gorgeous palate of deep reds, purples and blues with gold armour to work with. I also want to try out some ways of doing non-Caucasian skintones. Hopefully my first fumbling attempts at this won't come out too stereotypical.

At the moment I have a box of infantry and a box of cavalry, which I'm told is a not-inconsiderable force in its own right. I actually like that. I mean, I love collecting a massive and varied army in Warhammer and 40k but for a new system I'd prefer to start small.

Pictures once I complete some test models.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Taking a chance on Norba Miniatures "2nd edition"



Norba Miniatures is a Spanish company that makes models compatible with Warhammer Fantasy and a few other game systems. In the past they've made a lot of miniatures I liked the look of but used a terrible resin that was far too fragile for my taste.
Enter their “2nd edition” project. I went to their website basically just out of curiosity and discovered that they'd dumped the resin and moved to plastic. Unfortunately I can't find any reviews of the new products so I'm taking a chance and throwing the dice on a box (or possibly bag) of ten Not-Questing Knights On Foot.

If it works out I am going to waste so much money on their Not-Bretonnian and Not-Chaos Dwarf range. And if it doesn't? Well, I've made worse financial decisions in my life.

Monday, 3 February 2020

No hobby points for my for January



I failed. Some last minute work commitments got in the way of finishing the Angels of Defiance Master. He's nearly done, just needs a little work on the metallics but, as I said, I didn't get my Warhammer Resolution for January done. Didn't finish any other projects before (God help us) Brexit Day rolled around. So, no bonus points and I've lost those ten points for finishing the twelve monthly projects, as well.

When faced with moderate failure there's only one solution:

GO BIGGER! TEMPT FATE WITH EVEN GREATER POTENTIAL FOR FAILURE!
February's Hobby Resolution is going to be to paint an entire Imperial Knight Crusader. That's the one with the battle cannon and the gatling cannon. I got the model cheap on eBay a few years ago and havent so much as touched it until now. Yesterday, I built the big boy and I am so jazzed to get to work on it.

I'm going to be painting the model in the colours of House Cadmus, which is the colour scheme from the box art above. I love their background as, basically, fox hunting toffs on an epic scale (well, a 28mm scale). Its a relatively simple colour scheme but striking, its also not predominantly dark red or black which I'm doing my best to avoid right now out of sheer fatigue (Deathwatch, Word Bearers, Cult of the Bladed Cog Genestealer Cults, red and black are FAR too common in Warhammer 40,000).

A few other... not “goals” but intentions for the month include aciding bathing my Blackstone Fortress Traitor Guard because I have a much better idea of how to paint them than I did originally; building some of the Mechanicus kits I got for Christmas; and, choosing a Chaos Legion for the very small number of Chaos Marines who'll be part of my Lost and the Damned army.

So, let's march hoprefully towards inevitable failure...

Sunday, 26 January 2020

This Week's Project #1: Angels of Defiance Primaris Master



Having dealt with some pretty heavy personal stuff over the last couple of weeks its time to get back on the horse and have some damn fun. That is to say, getting back to some hobby and making a tentative stab at White Dwarf's Warhammer Resolution Challenge.

To this end, this week I want to complete the model I have chosen as January's Monthly Challenge, the newly released Dark Angels Master Lazarus...
with a couple of modifications. To wit: my absolute favourite Space Marine head (the Sternguard Marine who looks like Charles Dance) and a 3D printed Angels of Defiance shoulder pad from Shapeways. I have an odd things about Primaris Marines in that I kind of hate how they look bolted in to otherwise old-style Space Marines but I kind of like them as their own thing. Thus, grabbing some shoulder pads off Shapeways to do an Ultima Founding chapter.
The Angels of Defiance also have a quartered colour scheme (bone and black) which is something I've wanted to try out for years. I even started a Novamarines army many, many years ago but didn't have the patience or skill to pull it off, especially the white the colour scheme called for. The contrast between the bone and the black should be a lot more forgiving, though, as I know I can paint those pretty well.

Now, to actually get this done.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Thundercracker is actually quite pretty


I don't know who originally said it, I know the first time I heard it was from Thew Adams on YouTube, but Thundercracker seems to be everyone's second favourite Seeker. For most people the best one is Starscream, which is more than fair since he not only has a personality but a really fun one as the archetypal traitorous lieutenant. Then there's Skywarp who has the cool black and purple colour scheme as well as a fun little superpower with his teleportation.

And Thundercracker is also there.

Not that there aren't good versions of Thundercracker. I absolutely adore the version from IDW with his pretentions of becoming a screenwriter and weird as all hell friendship with Marissa Fairbairn. The thing is, though, that he's mostly just sort of also there.

And I never had any of the G1 Seekers back in the day so it never really occurred to me that...
Thundercracker has a really nice colour scheme. Sorry for the downright disgusting state of my painting table, it was the only surface available at the time. But, yeah, the blue and silver with the little splash of red on the wings is actually rather gorgeous now I have it in hand. Even in this very flawed knock-off version (its the Pocket Toys knock-off of the DX9 War In Pocket version) with shoulder thingies that don't match silver of the the cyber-titties, sprue marks all over the place and all sorts of flaws in what few paint apps there are he still looks great.

I bought the set for Starscream and Skywarp but in the end I found myself more impressed by Thundercracker here which was a very pleasant surprise. Its rare that I'll buy a figure just to complete the set and its nice that one of the few times I did it I ended up quite enjoying the figure on its own terms.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Hobby Project: Tyrannic War Veterans



I need to get back into painting. I haven't done any since before Christmas. Best way to do this, in my experience, is to start a small, self-contained project.

So my beloved Deathwatch are going to be joined by a small training cadre of Ultramarines Tyrannic War Veterans. For those unaware, the Tyrannic War Veterans were a unit introduced in the fourth edition Space Marine Codex to represent those battle brothers who were survivors of the Tyranid invasion of Macragge. They don't really exist anymore, subsumed into the broader category of the Sternguard Veterans.

So, a few questions to answer before we begin:

How to make them?
For the base models I have a box of Sternguard Veterans; an Ultramarines Upgrade Sprue missing a few parts I used for Deathwatch Veterans; a plastic Librarian (because I think this unit needs an officer); a Venerable Dreadnought; and, these...
These are the “Alien Skull V.7 Shoulder Pads” from Plokoone's Bits on Shapeways. I love Shapeways, a 3D printing website that has so many wonderful upgrades for Space Marines that just wouldn't be worth GW's time and effort to make. Thats not a knock against GW, by the way, I have my problems with them but even I have to admit that it just isn't economically viable for them to do a wide release of Black Guard shoulder pads. They're just too obscure a chapter.

What will they count as?
The way I see it there are two choices. I can either build them as Sternguard Veterans as the start of a full-on Ultramarines detachment. With what I'm planning already I'm only one Elites choice away from a Vanguard Detachment.

Or I can make them as Deathwatch Veterans who just happen to be painted blue. It gives me a better choice of wargear and I can take them as part of the army I'll be using them with.

This will take some thinking about, to be honest.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Transformers legends scale wish list


On Saturday Bobby Skullface published his Transformers Masterpiece Wishlist as part of his Sit Down Saturday series. It got me thinking about what figures I'd love to see come out from the third party scene for my Legends scale collection. Not in any particular order, just spitballing:

The Aerialbots
Superion is my favourite Autobot combiner, made more special for me because I never managed to complete the thing as a kid, either as secondhand G1 figures or the G2 recolours coming out at the time. Their origin story from the G1 cartoon was one of the three Transformers VHS tapes at my local video rental place when I was a child. I adore Silverbolt's character.

I'd also just like to see Autobot combiners in the Legends scale. We're drowning in Devastators, IronFactory made an amazing Bruticus and their own original effort with the Decepticon Justice Division set and, Magic Square have a Menasor in thr works.

Sunstreaker
The IronFactory one is too expensive now and only available with their Sideswipe, a character I already have a toy for. It just feels wrong to have Sideswipe and no Sunstreaker (plus, I actually do like Sunstreaker's design a bit better than his brother's).

Astrotrain
Flat out my favourite Transformers character and toy of all time. For five year old me there was nothing better: it was a transforming robot who was a steam train and a space shuttle. If it had also been a dinosaur it would have been the perfect object.

I have high hopes for the Mech Fans Toys version that's been teased recently but I am picky as fuck with this character. I passed on any version that was a bullet train and there are just a few little problems with the Siege version that stop me from buying it. And, no, none of those problems are the size. When Siege Astrotrain was announced as a Leader class figure I was all for it: he would have been huge against my Legends and I think that could have worked. No, it was the hollow back end of the shuttle mode and the bloody battle damage paintwork.

So, in theory I'm onboard for the MFT version but we'll see.

Whirl, Sandstorm and Broadside
This is my main shortlist for characters I need for my little Wreckers shelf. I love the Wreckers but it has to be said they're a team of also-rans, literally cobbled together by Simon Furman from characters the US comic couldn't be bothered to find a use for. As such even the official toylines don't revisit these characters much aside from Springer. I mean: have Whirl, Sandstorm or Broadside had more than one modern toy?

I could hope that Mech Fans Toys makes a Sandstorm remould of their Springer but the other two would have to be original moulds with no potential second use so I'm not hopeful.

Getaway
Another themed shelf I have is my MTMTE/Lost Light shelf and that wouldn't be complete without evil mastermind and frequent quoter of Theresa May Getaway.

A MTMTE-style Rodimus would be rather nice, too.

Basically any Targetmasters
Mechanic Studios (one of the many heads of the Mech Fans Toys hydra) have finally popped the seal on Targetmasters with their Hot Rod/Rodimus set. I know they're kind of dumb and no one seems to know exactly why they need little robots to stand in for their guns but I always loved those toys as a kid, especially the Decepticons Targetmasters. I'd love a decent Legends scale Quake or any of the Targetmasters planes, especially that one with two cockpits.

Legends Plus scale Fortress Maximus
The thing about Fort Max is that as far as Hasbro/Takara are concerned he's a citybot. As far as I'm concerned, having met him through the UK comics of my youth he's just a quite tall Autobot. IronFactory did a great Skorponok and I'd love a Fort Max to match him (or tower over him by an inch or so). Right now I have the Kabaya model kit version of the character which looks great but, sadly, has all the articulation of the G1 original which is to say not much.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

This week's comics



Comic reviews. Spoilers here.

Star Wars #1
The Destiny Path part 1

Charles Soule writes a great Lando. With the Star Wars comics moving up into the gap between Empire and Return one of the things I'm looking forwrad to the most is watching Lando going from the guy who betrayed everyone at Bespin to the guy the Rebellion trusts to lead the second Death Star run. But on to the actual issue at hand...

So, as promised, its just after the climatic events of Empire and the Millennium Falcon is heading for the rebel fleet: no one trusts Lando, no one knows hat they're going to do about Han, and Luke is being mopey as hell about the whole father thing.

Actually, I'm being a little unfair on that last one, both to Luke as a character and Soule as a writer. Obviously, the next time we see Luke on screen he's going to have a new lightsaber and a wardrobe that heavily suggests he might be on the verge of breaking bad and following his father into the family business of betrayal and recreational genocide. Soule takes that doubt and really runs with it, putting Luke in a position of questioning absolutely everything: Ben, Yoda, the Jedi path and his own destiny. Its a great angle.

Also, it seems Poe Dameron's parents are going to be a big part of this run which was unexpected but quite nice to see.

Thor #1
The Devourer King part one:
The Black Winter

I've not read much by Donny Cates. A couple of crossover issues of Venom and... that's it, I think. I must admit I didn't really warm to his work there.

I liked this, though. Its not a huge departure from Jason Aaron's just finished epic arc but it certainly has its own flavour. I like the idea of Lady Sif being the all-seeing guardian of the bifrost, for one, and Cates' Volstagg is brilliant.

Beyond that the issue is all set-up: Thor is sad because he's bored on his throne but then a new threat literally falls on top of his royal duties and we're off to the races. That leaves me with not much else to say about this issue. I enjoyed it but it'll take another issue to see if the story actually grabs me.

Daredevil #16
Through Hell VI

You know what I love about Elektra in this series? She talks. She talks a lot. She's not chatty and she's not transparent but she does talk. I get the character is meant to be mysterious but I've never really felt like I knew her under most writers. Hell, even Brian Michael Bendis who could write dialogue-filled pages in his sleep mainly had her as a silent, looming figure when she turned up in his Daredevil run.

And, of course, for the first time in a long time, we have an old fashioned scene of Daredevil and the Kingpin talking in a room. Love those things, its been too long.

X-Men #4
Global Economics

So we get to the big obvious thing that needed to happen: the mutant nation of Krakoa in a diplomatic environment. In this case Magneto, Xavier and Apocalypse at an economics conference. I have to say, I love how this main X-Men series is doing one off short stories exploring different aspects of the Krakoa concept whilst the other series are doing more cohesive, arc-based things.

So its all fun, small things: the delegations bodyguards being the two mutants who have to wear sunglasses anyway; Magneto lecturing the humans on how human society collapses every few thousand years; Xavier impressing on everyone that he still believes in co-existence but isn't fucking around anymore. Its delightful and, it has to be said, a lot more digestible than Hickman's Avengers run.

Friday, 3 January 2020

A Little Conversion Project



Yesterday I received a model I bought off eBay: the Feast Of Bones Ogor Tyrant, new on sprue. Its a lovely model but I'm rather set on having the pirate Maneater as my general. The Feast Of Bones dude is a little too impressive to be a mere Bruiser.

So I'm going to convert him to be a Battle Standard Bearer. He has a massive spear that'll do for the banner pole with a little extension. Not sure what I'll use for the banner itself though I have plenty of spares. Maybe something using the Mournfang or Thundertusk kits.

Hopefully I'll have a build to show off in a few days.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

The greatest mystery of modern fantasy literature



Why did Terry Pratchett hate horses so much? Did anyone ever ask him? Was there a reason he portrayed horses as congenitally insane?

I particularly remember this bit in Lords and Ladies where Granny Weatherwax tries to “borrow” the Elven Queen's unicorn and she describes its mind as being even more frothingly insane than an ordinary horse's.

Seriously, the man hated horses and no one seems to know why. Its always the questions you never think to ask...

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

2020 Visions (New Years Resolutions)


I'm sorry, the pun was irresistible.

Yeah, its been a while but what better time to make a fresh start on things than the beginning of a new decade. Last year was a year of stasis for me, various family health issues leaving me without the energy or motivation to do much of anything. Or at least anything worth blogging about. I am painfully aware of how little entertainment value existential despair has considering the recent general election.

Anyway, lining up the projects for the year:

Reviews and stuff

Over the Christmas period I actually managed to get the comics backlog down to nothing. I am, for the first time in years, all caught up and so I'm going to try and do the thing I originally started this blog to do an review some comics! I might even try out some random trade paperbacks now the new stuff is under control.

Talking of reviews and collecting, I recently started collecting Legends scale Transformers (that's the small ones). I picked up IronFactory's Windblade on a whim and, me being me, I now have a small bookshelf full of the little 'bots. I like them just as decoration and as fiddle toys but I feel the need to do something with them. Reviews, certainly, but I think I could stand to do some sort of photography project with them.

I also recently realised that I have been collecting the new Doctor Who blurays without actually watching them. It might be a decent chance to rewatch them with an eye to how my opinion has changed over the years. I've already lived through the VHS and DVD eras so this will be the second or third go round with some of these stories.

Warhammer

I have chosen two big projects, one for Fantasy and one for 40k, to be my main focus for the time being. I'll work on other things because I have so many unfinished projects that need only a little work to get them past the finish line.

For Warhammer 40,000 it will be the Adeptus Mechanicus because my family got me a whole bunch of AdMech kits for Christmas. I love the look of them and they are so different from the standard Space Marine and Imperial Guard armies of the Imperium. I have no idea how they work on the tabletop and that in itself represents a fun challenge.

Over in the both defunct and upcoming world of Warhammer Fantasy I'm going for something a little simpler: Ogre Kingdoms. I recently snapped up a Feast Of Bones Ogre/Ogor Tyrant for cheap on eBay. The attraction of the army is simply: monsters, its an army of monsters. What's not to love about that?

Other projects on the docket include a Dwarf army I've been chipping away at for years; the Sisters of Battle army deal that I've undercoated and not really done anything else to since it came out; Deathwatch; and my eternal quest for the perfect Traitor Guard models.

Writing

The blog, obviously, but also I want to get back into writing short fiction. I'm going to go looking for writing prompt blogs and the like since I think Write Anything has ended since I used to contribute to their weekly challenges.

I'm also going to be posting some of my Warhammer background to this blog to get some feedback, maybe also try to set up an AO3 account.

Personal

Cooking. Always meant to learn and, to be frank, I need to eat healthier. I'm told by people who do it that cooking is fun and satisfying.

Travel. A year and a bit ago a friend and I went to Switzerland for a week. I went up multiple mountains! Cable cars are terrifying, by the way, and sometimes you get out of one expecting the majestic sweep of the mountains but instead you find yourself face to face with a lifesize cut out of James Bond (that actually happened). It was an amazing experience and I'm keen to repeat it, hopefully with less unexpected James Bond.

That seems enough to be getting on with.

Friday, 4 January 2019

30 Day Doctor Who Challenge #1


I saw this knocking about Twitter the other day and I thought it might be good for a laugh.

Day One: Favourite Doctor

For me, it has to be Matt Smith. My first instinct was to say Sylvester McCoy because he was “my” Doctor but that owes more to the New Adventures novels than to his actual TV stories. I grew up in the 1990s, the books were all the new Doctor Who we were getting and, to be frank, there was lots of sex and violence in them and that really appealed to twelve year old me who didn't have the internet.

But speaking for actual performance it has to be Smith, the youngest person to ever play the role and somehow the one best at selling the idea that the Doctor as truly ancient being. The Eleventh Doctor is also one of those rare incarnations where I can see some vestige of Hartnell's scientist explorer in the mix. The performance owes a lot to Troughton, which is always a bonus, but also to McCoy in his darker moments.

Sometimes the lighter, “zanier” moments of the character feel forced but in the end that works because a big part of the Eleventh Doctor's personality is that he's consciously avoiding dealing with his issues which is a level of depth not really afforded to any previous incarnation.

Plus, every now and again Alex Kingston turns up to force Smith to up his game just to keep the audience's affection which helps.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Pride March of the Dinobots


Last year I bought a Transformers toy on eBay. Just one, a little one: the Iron Factory version of Windblade (“Miko for Iron Titan”) because it was cute and I needed a new fiddle toy for my desk.

Ever since then the eBay algorithm has not let this one impulse purchase go and keeps recommending me all sorts of Transformers stuff. It knows how to tempt me, too. Like, reissues of the G1 Seacons who I adored as a kid but never completed the set. Cheap (read “knock-off”) modern Combaticons and Protectobots. There was a fan made masterpiece-style First Aid the other day.

Masterpiece. First Aid. Really.

Anyway, eBay threw one at me the other day that I just have to share with the world:
Yes, an entire Pride Flag of knock-off Dinobots based on the Power Of The Primes combiner version of the team. So, according to the Wikipedia article on the original 1978 Pride Flag we have Grimlock representing life; Sludge representing healing; Swoop representing sunlight; Snarl representing nature; Slag/Slug representing serenity; and, Slash representing sex.

I unironically adore how Snarl looks in green, by the way, it really suits the guy.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

High Elves pt.1: cobbling together an army list



I have no idea what I'm doing. I love the High Elves, I love their background but as far as the mechanics go I am going in completely blind here. I wanted an army list to work to but trial and error is very much going to be a thing here. The following is mainly based around units I have, units I definitely want and a strong feeling that magic and shooting are what I should be focusing on here:

Lords
Loremaster of Hoeth, great weapon and heavy armour. 230 points

Heroes
Mage, Level 2 Wizard. 120 points
Mage, Level 1 Wizard. 85 points
Lothern Sea Helm with spear, light armour, shield and Reaver Bow. 125 points

Core
20 Lothern Sea Guard, full command, spears, bows and shields. 270 points
5 Ellyrian Reavers, full command, spears and bows. 125 points
5 Ellyrian Reavers, full command, spears and bows. 125 points

Special
20 Swordmasters of Hoeth, full command. 290 points
10 Shadow Warriors with champion. 150 points
Lothern Skycutter with Eagle Eye bolt thrower. 120 points

Rare
Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower. 70 points
Eagle Claw Bolt Thrower. 70 points
Flamespyre Phoenix. 225 points

Total: 2005 points

The Loremaster of Hoeth is my general for no better reason than I really like the model and want to use it. He has a couple of Mages backing him up in the Magic Phase, though I don't know what lores I'll be going with just yet. Finally, character-wise, is a Lothern Sea Helm who I'll have spare after making the Skycutter.

Actually, Lothern units have turned out to be something of a theme of the army with the Sea Helm. Sea Guard, Skycutter and Eagle Claw Bolt Throwers. I just happen to like the looks of them, to be honest. I just don't like Archers and Spearmen, the models are very old and chunky so their more modern (and more heavily armed) Lothernii brethren made the cut. Similarly, I got a couple of units of Ellyrian Reavers cheap on eBay so that's the Core taken care of.

The Loremaster needs some friends to stand with so the Swordmasters were a natural inclusion. The Shadow Warriors are, again, just a unit I like and one that will let me take a break from painting white.

And, finally, a Phoenix. I want one. They look great.

Its quite elite by my standards with just over seventy models and only two ranked infantry units. I usually don't have this many ranged units, either, so that's a whole new play style to try out (and eventually fail at and just refocus the army on White Lions and Tiranoc Chariots if I know myself at all).

So, I've got the Loremaster undercoated and the Reavers halfway built, its time to clench my teeth and once again try to paint white.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2019



The end of 2018 I had a bad couple of months healthwise but with some recent improvements on that front I find myself rather looking forward to 2019. Well, at least on a personal level, as far as the big picture is concerned I still live under a government whose principal reaction to diplomatic reality is to threaten to eat live hand grenades unless their demands are met but let's focus on the positive...

And I suppose that's where I want to begin. I've spent so much of the last few months (a fair whack of the rest of the year, too) sick and unmotivated and the world is just horrible right now that I want to write more about things I enjoy. I'm not saying I won't complain, the Tory Party still exists, but I want to focus more on things that bring me joy.

A few projects to help me do that:

Weekly Comic Reviews
I'll say one thing for being ill over the Christmas period: I got a lot of reading done. The ever-present comics backlog has been reduced from “horrendous” to “manageable” so I feel I can actually get to a fair majority of the comics I buy soon enough to review them.

Various Hobby Stuff
There are a couple of army projects I want to make headway on this year. First of all: High Elves. I have the models. I've had the models for years, in fact, but I've been too scared to paint them. I've decided to say screw it and just paint all that damn white. I've already got the first one undercoated: a Loremaster of Hoeth, my absolute favourite HE model ever and therefore my General.

That's going to be my big start of year project. Naturally, once the Sisters Of Battle have the decency to be released that'll happen. I've wanted that army for over a decade and now its happening in plastic I have no intention of resisting. On that subject we're getting new Night Goblins in a week (oh my goodness, that plastic Mangler Squig!) so I foresee my Orcs & Goblins being dusted off in the near future.

Big Finish Backlog
Yes, the other shameless act of overspending weighing down my hard drive: Big Finish audios. I have a horrible habit of pre-ordering things, downloading them and forgetting them. Its the curse of digital media. Might as well write some reviews of the things whilst I'm at it.

Expand My Reading
I feel like I've fallen into a bit of a rut with my reading. I tend to default back to old Doctor Who books, Black Library stuff and the same old comics series. So I'm going to spend the year trying out new things lit-wise. There are a couple of stone cold classics that I want to try out but I'm just looking all over for new stuff.

Friday, 2 November 2018

A very silly Transformers: The Movie headcanon



Okay, I know the main cast of The Transformers: The Movie aren't the Wreckers and can't be the Wreckers because the comic wouldn't come up with them until months after the movie and television canon wouldn't acknowledge the name until... Transformers Prime, I think.

However...

Ultra Magnus and Springer are basically in charge for most of the movie. Kup, Arcee, Perceptor and Hot Rod were all Wreckers in the IDW-verse at various points (I think). I think that just leaves Blaster and Blur as the only real non-Wreckers in the bunch. Admittedly, this is because endless comicbook and cartoon continuities have made a lot of Transformers characters into Wreckers.

So, yeah, this is why in my head the film is pretty much The Wreckers: The Movie.

(Also, I never noticed before Superion right there on the cover of the DVD despite his complete non-appearance in the film. Bad form, Hasbro.)

Thursday, 1 November 2018

I adore this Adventure Zone cover



I have not ranted enough about how much I love The Adventure Zone and... well, I'm not going to today but I am going to make a quick post about how much I love this cover to the second graphic novel adaptation by Carey Pietsch:
You see, what I adore about this cover is how it perfectly captures the characters of the four main entities of the series. You have the Tres Horny Boys and their long suffering DM facing a moment of imminent physical danger. On the right we have Taako, who has recognised the danger and is running the fuck away from it; on the left we have Magnus, completely ignorant of the danger he's in but sort of coincidentally moving to avoid it more by luck than judgement; in the centre we have Merle, unaware and about to die; meanwhile Griffin watches on fascinated and appalled.

Its just perfect and I cannot wait to see how Pietsch renders Taako's merciless treatment of Jenkins the elven sleeping car attendant.

Monday, 1 October 2018

March to 200 Models pt.1: Marching Orders



Its been a while.

So, here's the deal: at the end of July I had managed to finish painting a nice, round one hundred models since the beginning of the year. I set myself a little task of bettering that total in the second half of the year. Over the last two months a lot of personal stuff, work stuff and general stuff happened and I have not had time for much in the way of hobby (or writing or much of anything really) and my grand total so far has been...

*checks hobby diary*

three Zoanthropes.

This leaves me ninety-seven models away from my aim of finishing a second hundred miniatures this year and four months to do it in. Its not impossible especially as this push was always to finish models, not start them from scratch. There are any number of half-finished models in boxes and draws I could turn my hand to. Knowing me that won't happen so much as new things will catch my interest but a man can dream.

One thing I definitely want to get on is that of the one hundred and three models I've finished this year not one has been for Fantasy. I remember wanting to do an elf army of some sort earlier in the year that never materialised and this seems as good an opportunity to start on that. I've also joined a Warhammer Fantasy group on Facebook since the Deathwatch group I joined has been such an inspiration on that project.

Okay, if I'm being honest the main motivating factor with the Deathwatch group has been the chance to show off my models and get nice comments. Sue me.

I don't really have a definite plan, I'm just going to pick up whatever from the backlog. I do want to paint a mode varied set of miniatures though, my recent Deathwatch monomania perhaps being a factor in how unmotivated to paint I've been recently.

And if I need to hurry through the process and make up the numbers a bit there's always my overstuffed shoebox of Skull Pass Night Goblins aka the easiest starter set miniatures ever devised.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The return of "my" Doctor



Nostalgia is a funny thing. I got into Doctor Who when it was nothing but a nostalgia object. It was the mid-1990s, the show was off the air except for a dwindling number of repeats on BBC2 (we didn't have Sky so no UKGold and no endless repeat cycle of old stories for me); videos came out every other month or so and my pocket money went on Spider-Man comics so I didn't get Doctor Who Magazine.

New” Doctor Who at that stage meant one thing: Virgin Publishing's New Adventures novels, books whose back covers promised adventures “too broad and too deep for the small screen”. What this generally meant was stories with too much gratuitous sex and violence for Saturday teatime BBC1 but I was a teenager so it was all the same to me.

And now Big Finish are bringing that era of Doctor Who back. Again.

This is actually attempt number three. In the early years of their Doctor Who Main Range they tried a couple of stories featuring Bernice Summerfield and the grown up space marine version of Ace (long story but basically an attempt to rid Ace of teenage angst by putting her in a black latex bodysuit. Did I mention the gratuitous sex stuff?) that just didn't hit home for me. In fairness, its not like that version of Ace worked even half the time.

Attempt number two came in the form of novel adaptations with the company adapting some of ranges high points including Love and War, The Highest Science, Damaged Goods, All-Consuming Fire, Theatre of War, Nightshade, Original Sin, and Cold Fusion as well as some Fourth Doctor Missing Adventures. By and large this went a lot better and I was genuinely disappointed when the range ended due to low sales. The adaptation of Russell T. Davies' Damaged Goods was particularly good (a bit of an improvement on the novel, actually).

Now Big Finish are bringing back the team of the Seventh Doctor, Chris Cwej and Roz Forrester in four original stories. The important thing for me is that only one of these stories is going to be written by someone who worked on the original novels, the other three will be written by writers of a later generation of the fan-industrial complex.

Why this interests me is that the nostalgia filter is going to be applied for Doctor Who that I was around for but that has a lot more distance than... for instance... The Tenth Doctor Adventures Big Finish have done. The last New Adventures novel was published in 1999 and I'm interested in seeing how a new generation reinvents things. Its an interesting discourse what later fandom decides to focus on when they go back to things, what they choose to erase or emphasise.

Will anyone try to address that bloody awful idea the Virgin authors had where they kept recasting old monsters as creatures from the Lovecraft mythos?

Hopefully not.

Monday, 13 August 2018

This Week's Project: My Inquisitor's Deathwatch Kill-Team


This is the Deathwatch unit that will accompany my Ordo Xenos Inquisitor Laurento Hex on his adventures with other armies. I usually tailor my Veteran squads to a purpose like killing infantry or tank hunting but since this will the be whole of a detachment (plus a random character to stay game legal) they're more geared towards taking on all comers with a deliberate close combat bias.

I've got a Watch-Sergeant with combi-plasma and xenophase sword, a power fist, a power maul, a heavy thunder hammer, a frag launcher and two Vanguard Veterans with bolt pistols and power weapons (a sword and an axe). Also, thanks to various lovely sellers on Shapeways, the unit has a nice spread of different chapters with a Relictor leading an Invader, a Son of Guilliman, a Death Spectre, a Lamenter, a Rampager and a Disciple of Caliban into battle.

I have to admit I get a silly amount of pleasure from deciding what chapters each Kill-Team will contain. It a peculiar pleasure but you take what you can get, you know?

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Treading the Path Of Damnation once again


The other day I cobbled this fellow together. I found a bad of Blood Warrior heads in a box. I'd got them off eBay a while back because I kept seeing this same concept crop up on the internet.

You see, I've been tinkering with the idea of returning to my Lost And The Damned for a while. For those not familiar with this undeservingly niche army they are the mortal followers of Chaos. Traitor Guardsmen, essentially. They were a variant army list in 3rd edition's Codex: Eye of Terror and then, after an absence of some years during which that list became practically unusable, they returned as the Renegades & Heretics army list in Forge World's Siege of Vraks trilogy.

The list got a seventh edition makeover in Imperial Armour: War Machines of the Lost and the Damned before eighth edition came along and rendered that obsolete and the current list is included in Index Imperial Armour: Astra Militarum.

And I don't like it.

It has a lot of issues. In fairness, it is an Index list but since its going to be a while (possibly never) before a proper Codex version comes out the problems pile up. Whilst I like the idea of random Leadership, I don't like being charged the same power level as the Astra Militarum equivalent for random leadership and lower skill values. A bunch of units have just straight up evaporated.

So this time round I'm rocking it old school. My group is pretty chill about house rules so it was no stretch to just agree amongst ourselves that I could use Codex: Astra Militarum replacing all instances of the IMPERIUM keyword with CHAOS so I can use some Chaos Space Marines allies.

I have a few vague ideas of what I want to do with the army in terms of models. In terms of army list, not so much. It has been a long time since I played Guard, possibly not since 4th edition, as their own thing, at least. There's going to be a lot of trial and error and a lot of consulting with Tom, our resident footslogger Guard player. I am, I admit, much more interested in the sea of dudes with lasguns than the fascinating array of tanks. Don't get me wrong: tanks will feature in the army, there's no getting around that and I absolutely want to do something horrible and organic with the open crew compartment of the Basilisk.

So, the concepts so far, are to make Tempestus Scions pretty much straight out of thebox with head swaps and little bits of Chaos iconography to make them look more evil. They really lend themselves to simple kitbashing: they have tons of detail and that spiky trim on their armour will just look Chaotic simply through an appropriate paint job.

Veterans will be much the same in that they'll be Cadians with the aquilas filed off but with heads from a European company called Puppets Of War. Specifically, these ones...
The colours of this army have always been black fatigues and white flak armour so skull masks suit the theme pretty well. This will represent the infantry that are more towards the inner circle of the cult, the ones with abilities and skills the Traitor General places some value on.
Finally, there will be the Infantry and Conscript Squads who will be represented using Cadians the Forge World Renegades upgrade sets of which I've acquired a few over the years. These will be the cannon fodder, the expendable scum the army has recruited on the way. I love the cobbled together look of these bodies but I've always had more of a professional military vibe to my Lost And The Damned, naturally considering most of my concept of the army comes from Dan Abnett's Blood Pact and Sons Of Sek.

And then, to one side of the army, are the Chaos Space Marines.

As I said, I want the Chaos Marines to be the smaller contingent of the army. Just a single character and a few units. If I have daemon engines they'll be painted to match the Traitor Guard. In fact, it might be a Spearhead Detachment so I can take a bunch of daemon engines with the minimum of power armour getting in the way.
I also rather fancy avoiding the Chaos Legions and having my Chaos Marine allies being a little more... low rent. In fact, I'm tempted to go for one of these chapters who featured in Codex: Eye Of Terror (or possible the Chaos Marine codex, I just got this image from Google Image Search). Basically none of these chapters aside from the Warp Ghosts have any sort of background which suits me fine since they'll just be there to offer a little extra hitting power.

The Extinction Angels appeal as a design since the bone trim will tie in with the infantry whilst the purple armour will make them stand out against the rest of the army.

First up, though, is to finish building the first five Khornate Scions and paint them up as a test unit. Whilst they'll naturally have red armour plate they will have black fatigues and bone trim so I can practice the methods I'll be applying to most of the rest of the army.

Friday, 6 July 2018

The Comics Ramble: Batman #50 and spoilers



[The following is basically a massive rant about spoilers so be aware that if you have managed to avoid the massive fucking spoiler going around for Batman #50/Catwoman #1 and haven't read them yet do avoid this post because I can't vent about the thing and how it affected my reading without mentioning what the thing is.]

So I managed to avoid the Batman #50 spoiler until literally one hour before the package turned up on my doorstep. Ye gods, but I hate spoiler culture. It sucks. I despise the idea, now practically supported by the companies it harms, that telling people the big reveal long before the actual event somehow enhances the experience or encourages people to tune in / read / experience the thing.

Ugh... anyway...

What even was spoiling it meant to advertise? We knew the new Catwoman series was launching the same day and that is literally the only thing, other than the ongoing plot of Batman, that spins out of that story.

I mean, look what else came out this week: Man of Steel #6 and I am pretty sure that was allowed to stand on its own. That issue sets up Bendis' Superman and Action Comics as well as the new run of Supergirl and has one hell of a cliffhanger for whichever Superman series is going to handle the serial arson storyline Bendis has been setting up for the last six weeks.

But the very possibility that Bruce and Selina's marriage could go off as planned? Oh no, better spoil that just to confirm that the obvious, tragic ending everyone saw coming was not going to be subverted.

You monsters!

Let's face it: what else was anyone expecting? I admit I hoped for a happy ending, I thought that Tom King might have convinced DC editorial to let him do something brave and psychologically healthy for the Batman character given that he's gone deeper than pretty much anyone else into Bruce's trauma and how he copes with it. King, as it happens, responded to the leak or the spoiler or bad bit of advertising or whatever it was by saying this wasn't the end of the Bruce/Selina story he was telling.

Whether or not that's true Batman #50 is a great issue. As I've said before, King has probably the best grasp of single issue storytelling at DC today. The narration of this issue plays out two letters Bruce and Selina are writing each other to explain their feelings as the ceremony looms. Interestingly, once again King returns to that thing he keeps bringing about how Catwoman remembers their first meeting as the Batman: Year One version whilst Bruce remembers their first published meeting from 1940.

Given what's going on with Flash War and other hints here and there, this might be more than a cute nod.

I really do hope this isn't the end. The Bruce/Selina relationship has been pretty consistently the best part of this series for a while now.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Doctor Blu #1: Season 12 in Song and Story


Doctor Who's twelfth season is a funny one. Now, I get why it was chosen to be the first bluray season box set, the logic is sound: its Tom Baker, its his first season, it has a bunch of classic monsters in it including an absolutely iconic Dalek story. Its a good choice.

Its just an odd season.

To set out my stall a little: I'm of a generation that I got into Doctor Who after it was cancelled the but also before it came back as a magnificently successful revival. When I entered this fandom, and for a long time afterwards, Doctor Who was not a TV show. It was a series of video releases beholden to no logic of season or theme, released pretty much at random or when decent film prints became available for restoration. As such I've not really ever watched the classic series in any sort of order. I've tried once or twice to do one of those “everything in order” marathons but I don't have the patience. My best attempt got me as far as... The Keys of Marinus, I think? Maybe The Sensorites.

A season at a time, though? I think I can do that.

So here we are on bluray with Season Twelve, the first of Tom Baker's seven year run in the title role. Now, I've seen all these stories before, many times in the case of Ark In Space, but I've never watched them as a body of work.

So what are my impressions of the season before I watch it in order?

Well, like I said, its an odd beast.

The reason is simple: Season Twelve effectively has two creative teams. The production itself was largely handled by the new production team of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes but the scripts were commissioned by outgoing producer/script editor team of Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks. The first story was even made by the old production team because the series had been banking a story between seasons for the last couple of years.

Bizarre to think in these days of obsessive brand management that a big relaunch with a new Doctor and a new creative team would wait four weeks for the old creative team to finish out their contracts but there you go. It might be the most extreme example of the problem but the whole structure of the season is like that: Letts and Dicks ideas, Hinchcliffe and Holmes execution. Three of the five stories in this season use old monsters, a well Hinchcliffe and Holmes would studiously avoid for the remaining two years they stayed on the programme. The nearest they come under their own steam is using the Master once and even then they basically create a new villain and slap a familiar name on him.

So Season Twelve basically represents the transition from the UNIT years to the body horror theme of Hinchcliffe and Holmes. In my memory its rough.

It has its highlights. If there's a Doctor Who story I've watched more than The Ark In Space... well, its probably City of Death but Ark is still one of my favourite go to stories when I just want a solid story to watch. I'm not one hundred percent convinced of the masterpiece status Genesis of the Daleks has in fandom but it is a really good story (and I am very interested in seeing what the cut down “TV movie” edit included on the bluray does for its pacing). Robot, whilst being very different from what follows, is a solid effort simply because its written by Terrance Dicks and able performances from the old UNIT crew to smooth the transition as Baker finds his feet.

That's the good. Then there are the problem children of the transition, the ones popular legend says Robert Holmes could not save: The Sontaran Experiment and Revenge of the Cybermen. Both stories are production experiments as Hinchcliffe and Holmes tried to make production cheaper so they could justify dropping six-parters. The Sontaran Experiment was a two-parter filmed entirely on location whilst Revenge was filmed on the same sets as The Ark In Space. The problem with production experiments like that they need great writers to make them work in the very tight parameters they're given. Here we have Bob Baker and Dave Martin, the crazy ideas men of the Pertwee era asked to make a tightly plotted two-parter that can only use physical effects, and, Gerry Davis in his last (and only solo) contribution to the series and, boy, you can see why.

And then there's Harry Sullivan.

I admit to being a little split on Harry Sullivan. I kind of like the character. He's a comedy idiot but Ian Marter always plays the part with conviction. Yes, even the giant clam incident. Standing next to the all-time dream team of Tom Baker and Lis Sladen, however, he can look superfluous to requirements. I wonder how he'll look to me when I see the lion's share of his stories in order.

Monday, 2 July 2018

100 models complete, 100 models to do



I am a somewhat compulsive list maker and this year I've been keeping track of how many miniatures I've managed to paint. A few weeks ago I realised I was on the verge of finishing one hundred models in the first six months of this year. I was twenty-two models away and on Saturday, putting some grass on bases, I reached my target with a few hours to spare.
First up we have a trio of Raveners and I can finally make use of Hive Fleet Jormungandr's bespoke Stratagem to deploy infantry units underground with their burrowing creatures.
Next up are five Termagants, the first finished model from a job lot of very random smaller bioforms I received from eBay a while back. I hope I've managed to cover every single bit of the original owner's hideous neon green colour scheme but I keep noticing bits I've missed.
Twelve Purestrain Genestealers ready to combine with the eight I already have to become a horde of twenty vicious killing machines.

And, finally, taking me up to a nice, round one hundred are a Primus and Patriarch for my Genestealer Cults detachment.

So the plan from here...

Quite simply, I want to beat this total over the rest of the year. I got one hundred models finished in six months and I'd like to make it two hundred (at least) before the end of the year.