Monday, 5 December 2022

Review: Slaves To Darkness Chosen, Ogroid Theridons and Daemon Prince

 Good morning/afternoon/eveening everyone!



It's not often that I get to play with the latest releases as soon as they become available, but I was commissioned to paint the new Slaves To Darkness army box while they were still on pre-order. As these are brand new models, and will eventually all be released in individual boxes, I thought it would be a good idea to share my thoughts on the new models in the set.

CHOSEN

The core of the new set is a unit of 10 Chosen which, to the uninitiated, are Chaos Warriors plus. The unit of 10 consists of two identical sprues of 5. These sprues include alternate build to give a unit leader, musician and standard bearer (which can be a flag or an icon and includes options for the four chaos powers and chaos undivided.) As far as actually putting them together, it's actually quite a straightforward process, with little to caue any problems. There's a couple of minor issues with the assembly- the lack of locator pins in the shoulders makes attaching the big pauldrons a little finicky and the instuctions don't make it clear that all the pairs of arms are interchangeable. If you follow the instructions to the letter, it gives the impression that ony one pair would fit with each body, but it's not the case. That opens up more options than first meets the eye. The locater pins in the necks are annoying too, meaning that you can only have the heads looking in one of two directions, unless you trim the pegs off. The torsos are assembled in two parts with each leg separate but these leg/torso combinations can only be assembled one way, which limits the options. A couple more torso options would've been nice. One final issue is that the leader model has a tactical rock and, as the sprues are doubled up, it means that you're always going to have a second model standing on a tactical rock (albeit a small one). It's a shame there isn't an alternative leg option for the non-hero. Still, all these are minor criticisms and there are enough options to keep the unit looking fairly individual and any criticisms fall away once you've got the models assembled and ready to paint. When you have them assembled, the first thing you realise is how big they are. These models are easily a match for the biggest Stormcast Eternals and, with their two-handed heavy weapons, they make for seriously imposing models. 


OGROID THERIDONS

The Ogroid Theridons are basically age of Sigmar Mintaurs and what magnificent beasts they are. Truly monstrous creature, these are probably the best minotaur-type creature GW have ever produced. In the set you get three, which can be built as standard troopers or as a leader, musician and standard bearer. There's also weapons variants but, frankly, why would you ever build minotaurs with anything other than axes...? The models are filled with details: trophies, cloth and armour details, but not overloaded, leaving loads of space for the painter to play with. Criticisms? Well, there's  couple of clunky joins, especially where the arms join at the shoulders, that need a litttle playing with, but these are  mostly covered up with the shoulder armour so you could get away without having to do anything with them. Other than that (and the usual criticisms of GW's instructions being a little vague in places) I really can't find much to complain about. 


DAEMON PRINCE

The centerpiece of this set is the all-new Daemon Prince, and what an absolute monster he is! This model comes on one and a half sprues and gives options for weapons, wings, different heads and iconography for the four powers and Chaos undivided, and parts to make a 40k variant. So far, so good, and I only have a couple of minor criticisms to throw into the mix, and none of them are to do with the sculpt itself. There's the usual couple of points where it would have been useful to have locator pegs and a couple of places whre an alternate view in the instuctions would have halped make the build easier but, mostly, it went together without a hitch. My main criticism is of the sprues themselves. As I said, the model comes on one big sprue and one half sprue and, once built, you are left with a lot of leftover bits. I'm not complaining about having more options available, that's a really good thing but I think they've missed a trick by not having the 40k bits on a separate sprue. If you look at my pictures below, of the bits left on the sprues after assembly, you an see that, had they kept the wings and trophy rack to one sprue, and left off the 40k elements, they could have added more options for the AoS version of the kit on the wings sprue, and then had loads of extra options on the 40k sprue. Then when they eventually release the model individually, they could still have it as a one and a half sprue box, but have separate versions for 40k and AoS. Still, these criticisms don't affect the look of the final miniature once it's assembled. It's a stunning kit, loaded (but not overloaded) with detail and I suspect it's going to be a popular choice with Golden Demon entrants. One last little thing: I really like the way that you don't need to sub-assemble this monster for painting. There's no bits that you won't be able to get to woth a brush once it's assemble, meaning there's no need to have any headless, wingless Daemon Princes running around on tabletops if you want to play before you get the chance to paint.



So, there you have it, my thoughts on these three new kits. The Citadel designers have knocked these way out of the park and chaos generals are not going to be disappointed with them. There's loads of scope for the painter to play with them and I can see there being some incredible paint jobs on these in the future. Can't wait to get them painted myself, and I'll be sharing some stage-by-stage tutorials of them once I've got them done.

Thanks for reading!

Stu


Monday, 21 November 2022

The Road To Manchester: A Few Thoughts On Painting For Competitions

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!
Last week the tickets for Golden Demon 2023 went on sale and, having purchased my ticket my thoughts have started to stray towards what I'm going to paint for the competition, which lead me to thinking more widely about painting competitions in general, and I thought I'd share those thoughts here.
Now, I don't claim to be any sort of expert when it comes to painting competitions but I've entered a few (with a couple of minor successes) and judged my fair share, too, and I've learned a couple of lessons along the way*. Some of this might seem blindingly obvious but you'd be surprised how easy it is to fall into these traps.

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
While it's good to push yourself in competitions (after all, you want to produce your very best work) make sure you are pushing in the right direction. A painting competition is not the time to try to learn a new technique. Do what you're good at, what is going to bring out your best work. This Ishirann Tidecaster is a good example of this. This model was my entry into the Masters' category at the 2019 Golden demons. In my wisdom, I decided to do the armour in NMM copper, something I had never tried before. Despite looking at all sort of reference I couldn't get it right, even after multiple attempts and I ended up with an overall paintjob that was compromised due to all the layers of paint I'd applied in the trying. It also took the wind out of my sails and killed my enthusiasm for the project. It's a real shame as I think the rest of the paint job holds up pretty well. the same goes for the Stormcast Eternal, which was an entry into a local competition. I spent far too long on the NMM gold and, while I was fairly pleased with the overall result (and I did actually get 1st place with it, so it can't have been entirely unsuccessful), it meant a project took twice as long as it should. In both cases, a really good true-metallic job would have looked better than a semi-successful non-metallic effort.




HAVE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT
Think about what you want to achieve. Think about the colour scheme and techniques you want to use and, if making a diorama or duel, think about the composition of your miniatures. Plan any conversions, what parts you may need, how you're going to work sub-assemblies. Planning ahead will save you time and heartache down the line. Once you've worked it out, try and stick to it. It's fair enough to adapt as you go, but deciding that you're going to change the pose or add an extra arm once you've started painting is a recipe for disaster. Again, I have a good example. This Slaanesh Champion was painted for an online Oldhammer competition. I couldn't decide on a colour scheme before starting and made it up as I went along. Again, this resulted in a couple of repaints which meant I had to rush the finish and it really didn't come out the way I wanted. 




TIME WILL FLY BY
At the time of writing, there's 6 months until Golden Demon, which sounds like plenty of time but it's amazing how quickly that time can disappear. When you're looking at projects that are going to take dozens, perhaps hundreds, of hours' work those weeks can slip by fast, especially with all the usual complications that real life can throw into the mix. There's been many a competition entry (and winner) that has been finished the day of the event itself. Again, planning your time can help avoid the stress of looming deadlines and the potential to have a project that doesn't look as good as it could. Once again, I can illustrate it with an example of my own**. On this Ogor pirate, I wanted to do more with the old leather on his jacket, adding cracks and the effect of salt water on  it, but I simply didn't have enough time to do so. While I'm pleased with the overall result, it still wasn't what I wanted it to be. 



DON'T TAKE ON TOO MUCH
This ties in with the previous point. Be realistic about what you want to do  and think carefully about what you can get done in the time you have available. While it's great to have entries in multiple categories it's better to have one amazing entry rather than two or three that have been compromised by trying to do too many projects. This also applies with online competitions. There can often be a few small competitions running concurrently and it  can be tempting to try to enter as many as possible but it's better to pick your fights more carefully. The amount of times I've had to abandon a project because I'm not going to be able to finish them all... Another aspect of this is that, while there are some out there who can focus on multiple projects at the same time and still get great results, for most of u the best outcome will be from focussing on one project from start to finish. Get one done and then see if you have time to move on to the next. Also, if you are going to do multiple projects, get the most simple one done first. There's no point spending five months working on a diorama only to realise, with three weeks to go, that you're not going to finish it in time and now you've not got time to do that single figure entry you wanted to do either...My local GW store recently held a Mini-Of-The-Month competition. I planned on entering the Skeleton, Rotmire Creed and Votann below. In the end I only managed to get the Skeleton done. The other two have ended up in the Drawer of Temporary Abandonment****


PAINT WHAT YOU WANT TO PAINT
There's always the temptation to paint what's in vogue, or the latest release, but (contrary to what many people seem to think) the judges don't base their decisions on such things- they're looking for good painting and the best way to get a good paintjob is to paint something that inspires you. So,  if you've got something in your sprue pile that you've always wanted to paint, or something that you've always had a really good idea for then go for it. You'll get a much better result that way than doing something you feel you should be doing and, just as importantly, you'll enjoy the process that much more. If the painting is a chore, you're painting the wrong thing, and you'll never be happy with it. the Ork Kommando Boss was not an obvious choice of miniature to enter, but it's long been one of my favourite miniatures and I'd always wanted to paint it, and it was probably the most fun I've ever had painting for a competition, as I just went with what felt right for the model.



IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT WINNING
This is probably the most important thing, and it ties in with all the other points I've made. Of course it's a competition, and of course the ultimate goal is to come away with a prize but that's not the be-all and end-all of why you should be entering. There's so  much more to be gained from entering than simply the wins or  losses.  Online competitions give you the opportunity to pit your work against that from painters all over the world, and to show it off to an audience of potentially thousands. In-person competitions give you the chance to meet other painters face-to-face and see the work of others up-close and personal, and there's nothing more inspirational than that. Both types of competitions offer unique opportunities for feedback and advice. Competitions also offer the chance to really push yourself and your skills and really prove to yourself what you are capable of. And, if you don't win**** they are a great learning experience, teaching you what you can do better next time.

SO WHAT ABOUT GOLDEN DEMON 2023?
Right, having rambled on enough, what am I planning on entering for the next Golden Demon? Well, as usual, I'm flouting my own rules and planning a number of pieces. I've decided to resurrect a few projects from my Drawer of Temporary Abandonment. The Night Goblin Shaman and Phobos Captain (who was going to be my entry into the Masters category at the cancelled 2020 Golden Demons*****) are going to be my Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 Single Miniature entries, respectively, and I have a Duel planned, that I started years ago, based on the Lords of Hellstone AoS story. 


Now, whether or not these actually get done, or end up being my actual entries, is another matter. A lot can happen in six months, so we'll have to wait and see. I will be posting updates as I go along, on my Instagram. so please keep an eye out for those posts. Anyway, that's it for me on this subject, at least for now. What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on the subject, any more advice that I've missed? Please feel free to discuss in the comments. I'd love to hear your ideas. See you in Manchester on 29th April!

Thanks for reading!
Stu

*Learned them? Yes. Actually put them into practice?...Errrr...maybe not so much...
**Can you see a pattern developing?
***more on this another day
****Or even if you do...
*****It's a real shame there's no Masters category this year. I really enjoyed the unique challenge of painting a single, unconverted miniature, and it suited my way of painting really well.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Descent: Journeys In The Dark

Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!


This week, I have decided to delve into the archives a bit, and have a chat about some miniatures I painted a few years ago. This set of miniatures was from the dungeon-bash boardgame Descent: Journeys In the Dark 2nd Edition, produced by Fantasy Flight Games, which is now, sadly, out of print.

These were painted on commission and the brief was to do them to a decent gaming standard, but not to go too over the top on detail and finish. This gave me a bit of leeway to to have some fun with them. The miniatures themselves were quite nice in themselves, with some really characterful sculpts and poses but, as you can see in the pictures, the detailing left a little to be desired. This was mainly, I suspect, due to the material they were cast in. The plastic used was quite soft and flexible, and didn't hold the detail well and was an utter pain in the arse to glean up properly. When trying to sand or cut the mould lines off, the plastic would fragment into tiny fibres, rather than leave a clean, smooth surface. With some of them I simply gave up trying to remove a lot of the mould lines, for fear of destroying any more detail. The other issue was the scale- these were considerably smaller than GW heroic scale (more in line with the GW LOTR miniatures in terms of scale and proportion) and, while I liked the more realistic proportions it did make for a challenge to get them to look good without taking too long on them. That being said, the smaller scale did mean I could take quite a few shortcuts with the main bulk of painting, allowing me to get away with minimal blending and fewer layers of highlights than I would do for larger-scale miniatures. A couple of layers of highlights and some selective glazes was usually more than enough to get the job done. 

THE CHARACTERS

Alric Farrow
Ashrian
Avric Albright
Belthir
Eliza Farrow
Grisban The Thirsty
Jain Fairwood
Leoric of the Book
Merick Farrow
Syndrael
Tomble Burrowell
Widow Tahra
Zachareth

With the characters (some of which I think came from supplements, rather than the main game, I stuck as close as possible to the character art. As you can see, there's bags of character in the sculpts, and there was plenty of scope to have some fun and even play around with some glow and OSL effects.

THE MONSTERS

Barghest
Cave Spider
Air Elemental
Fire Elemental
Ettin
Ettin
Flesh Moulder
Goblin Archer
Merriod
Merriod
Shadow Dragon
Shadow Dragon
Zombie
I had a lot of fun with the monsters and I could play around with the colours a bit more, especially as they all had duplicates. I was particularly pleased with how the Fire Elemental came out (it's a shame there wasn't a couple more Elementals too, to do Earth and Water. The Barghests were fun, too, with all their open wounds. 



Looking back on these now, a good few years on from painting them, I'm still quite pleased with how they turned out. Undoubtedly I would paint them differently now. When I did these, I hadn't discovered the technique of zenithal priming and preshading and there was no such thing as Contrast paints (or the many alternatives that have come out since) and I think those are all tools and techniques that I'd put into play if I was to approach them now. Casting material issues notwithstanding, they are a nice set of miniatures and worth spending the time to make them look good. I'd happily have another crack at them, if asked, and it's a shame that the game is no longer in print.

Next week I'll be having a bit of a ramble on about painting competitions, and what I'm planning for Golden Demon...

Thanks for reading!
Stu