Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Victoria Miniatures Heavy Weapons, PART THREE

Hi, SC Mike here with the third and final part of this extensive review on the new Heavy Weapons release from Victoria Miniatures. We already talked about the resin quality (Part 1), the flexibility of the designs (Part 2), so I was going to give my few cents on the cinematic look of the models and how much fun it is to work on the Heavy Mortar that Victoria released.

Here is the web image on Victoria Miniatures:
As you can see, the design of the mortar is very crisp, very robust and very old fashioned looking. Like a lot of designs from the studio, it bears a WW1 look. Check out this image, it seems clear that Jake Schneider, the sculptor of the weapons, took a liking to THIS gun, the 17 cm Mittlerer Minenwerfer, or German Medium Trench Mortar.  

Notice any resemblances? Of course! And why not? It's a beautiful design, with the curved side panels, the spoked wheels, the gear wheels and the countless rivets. It really looks like a machine invented by by Jules Verne. 
The resin model from Victoria Miniatures is beefed up a bit, with less tiny parts and enlarged big parts, like the wheels and the turning handles but it still has a really detailed feel. It looks 40K, but with a nod to the past.

The actual kit is crisp and clean, it's truly a joy to look at. There were some mold lines to clean up, but the resin is very easy to work with and the clean up went without a hitch.
The build was easy, but I did have to go online and look at the online tutorial, to make sure it all was put together correctly. Personally I think the model should come with a small paper guide on how to build it. Victoria has an image of the build on her site, so you can always print it out.

Using a 60 mm base, the motar fills up pretty much the whole surface. With no options to add crew to that same base in a diorama style way, I abandoned the idea of a gaming model and instead opted for a small diorama. I used an oval flyer base from Games Workshop and created a trench scene.
Here you can see the mold lines on the barrel of the mortar, but it was easy to clean up. There were also some moldlines on the wheel surfaces, those I sanded off. It's part of modeling and I don't consider it an error in casting.

For the cinmatic feel, I want to create a WW1 feel with 40k touches of a Traitor Guard Artillery unit. Here's the finished scene, with a Guard soldier and a slave:
You can see, the Mortar is a pretty big model. It would fill the 60mm base pretty much all the way, which doesn't leave much room for creating a small diorama on that same base. In the game the crew would be on their own bases of course.

Here's the back, with the mud in all it's glory:
Here's the slave. The body is from the Victoria Miniatures Penal squad, the head is from Maxmini.

You can see that the gun looks very realistic and has nice crisp edges.

In closing, I personally think the models that Victoria Miniatures creates, really rank at the top. There is no other independent company that is so focused on the Guard, and because there is so much commitment on one army, the quality of the sculpts gets better and better. So many different options for arms, small arms, heads, torsos, gender (yes, there are female guard models!) and now great weapons. I can't wait for VM to start getting into vehicles! In closing, the shot with all three models: you can see how versatile and visually interesting the sculpts are! Great stuff - go support her at Victoria Miniatures.

SC Mike

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Victoria Miniatures Heavy Weapons, PART TWO

Welcome to Part TWO of our Victoria Miniatures heavy Weapons review!

Once again I am happy to review another fine gaming product from Victoria Miniatures. Victoria has a great way of making just the right bits to add to your armies.

My review is going to be focusing on using Victoria's gun chassis only with Games Workshop weapons for a Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard unit.

When I first saw Dave Taylors Genswick 33rd army his complex kit bashing had totally blown me away and I loved the WWI trench feel.

I am a normal guy and there was no way I was going to bits hunt all those Bretonian bits and build that army, so I decided to do something with just a few simple changes to regular Cadians, a poor mans version with simple head swaps and a few other changes to make a unique army that was still well rooted in the 40k universe, my Ardwick 23rd Imperial Guard army was born.

One of the important things for me, was to keep the Guards weapons as they are so iconic and help with the wysiwyg factor in a game, so my army uses GW weapons.

A million years ago or so, I decided that my Ardwick army needed to have wheeled heavy weapons. Please read all about it here, and then come back and read on.

So as I said in 2009, lets get some wheels on these guns, building my own chassis and sourcing wheels was a pain in the but and time consuming, luckily those days are over.

Victoria Miniatures sells this chassis and even some different wheel options and they are just the thing to finally get some wheels under your guard guns. You could even find more modern wheels with tires on them and just use the chassis, its a great deal for the price and for all the time it will save you making your own.

The chassis uses an odd mounting system for the Victoria guns, with a notch in the front and a peg in the rear, the deck of the carriage is angled, the Victoria guns sit just right but if you just glue your GW gun down, it will point up in the air.

It's very simple to fit your GW gun on it, I just heated the resin in some hot water and bent the legs down a bit to level out the deck and was ready to go. You could also just make a shim for the back or cut and reposition the legs, I will leave that all up to you.

This is a great way to get more out of your GW heavy weapon sets, you can buy a chassis for each gun type and mount your Lascanon, autogun or heavy bolter on Victoria Miniatures gun carriage. If you get really slick you could mount them with little magnets and be able to change them around as you see fit.

I knocked mine together with my GW bits and Westwind heads and painted it up like the rest of my Ardwick 23rd, I also added a touch of Secret Weapon rust pigment and this model was ready to join the ranks.

I have been waiting a long time for some bits like this and I am happy to see them at last and from a great company like Victoria Miniatures.

for Part ONE of this review series, go here


Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Victoria Miniatures Heavy Weapons, PART ONE

Victoria Miniatures recently sent us a set of the new Heavy Artillery sets as well as a set of the Penal Legion Heavy Weapons Crew for review. Rather than just slap a few parts together and taking a few shots then calling it a review; we decided to each take a heavy weapon kit and assemble and paint it with crew in a different styles to showcase the kits. So expect THREE post, all this week, with all three of us looking at these kits in a different light.

For my part of the project I assembled the autocannon kit and took a few heads and arms from the Penal Legion sprue to blend into a less heretical gun crew.

Some of the bits from the Penal Legion Heavy Weapon Crew

Overall the resin and casting is of high quality. The above picture is out of box & even without any cleaning you can see the care that has gone into the casting. The pieces are not deformed, it's clear that there has been some thought into placing the vents so cleanup is easy once separated from the sprue. The casting has been performed by skilled hands, places with flash are tissue-thin and fall away with a light scraping revealing minimal mould lines.

Great personality on the head sculpts.

The Autocannon fits together nicely, and including not only an extra clip but two different styles is a nice touch. The crew sprue offers a generous helping of options, most of which you won't find on other companies sprues so you can really spice up the monotony of your army.

The kit isn't without some small flaws: while minimal, you will have to clean up some mould lines. There were a few tiny casting errors on the parts I used, I had a little bit of flooding on one of the lenses the googles of one of the heads I used, and there was a few miscast bolts on the guncarriage feet. However these are millimeter-sized errors, I probably wouldn't have noticed them had I not been scrutinizing the parts for the review.

Some great options for weapon arms are included in the crew set.

Before moving on from the resin and casting quality topic, the other thing that is immediately noticeable on unboxing is that the pieces are straight and not a warped mess of resin. Something that seems to be accepted among some resin junkies is that due to international shipping and temperature changes your pieces will arrive as a tangled mess. But as this little box from Australia to the US illustrates, it doesn't have to be the case. While some of the aforementioned factors can cause warping during shipping, the real culprit is the resin casters rushing the process and removing the resin from the mould prematurely to save time and maximize profit. Seeing thin long bits like the rifles arrive without the need for correction speaks volumes towards the skilled casting and good quality control of Victoria Miniatures.

For my assembly I was immediately drawn to the smoking head (complete with zippo arm) and the gruff bald head with cyber-eye. I used GW Cadian bodies and torsos, with some of the arms from the Victoria set.

 There's a ton of personality in the sculpts, and the heads alone evoked a story when I saw them. I imagined the smoker as the crew officer, with a hint of a smirk he's a great contrast to the gruff loader who's obviously had a harder time manning this gun.

Stay Tuned! On wednesday we will post Part 2 of the Victoria Mini review, this coming Friday the third and final part.

-Mike M (cornumortem)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bolt Action: Inexpensive alternatives for tanks, Part 2

If you caught the first installment of this series, you will remember the low cost Revel Pnz IV kits.

I decided to pick up five of them after finding an ebay seller that gave me a good combined shipping

These kits are decent but not perfect, so I decide to make a couple simple changes to make them a bit more realistic.

First detail that was missing was the round vent on the top of the turret. Adding a simple detail like this really goes a long way and brakes up the empty space, also this one detail is one of the Pnz IVs iconic identifying features.

I used a hole punch and some plastic card and a smaller punch to make a smaller disc that is under it to raise it up a tiny bit.

The second change I made was to trim the rear lower skirt to a taper as it should be, when flipped over to the correct height the corner that is cut off becomes the bottom rear. Check out the difference between the first two images in the post.

After that a quick scuff over the graphics some primer and base paint,

I decided not to paint the track sections, they come black and I just brushed on the yellow to the hull side and wheel centers.

 Then it was off to the airbrush for a Normandy style three color camouflage pattern.

As you can see I masked some of the skirt panels to keep the camo off them to represent replaced sections as they were lost or damaged frequently, I may even cut one or two off at some point and have them missing a few.

after that, painting in the tracks, muffler and tools, painting the tank numbers (these were painted by hand by the crew) and a tan drybrush to pick up some highlights and blend it all together.

Now I have a finished German Pnz IV zug for Bolt Action Tank War for under $50. They are not perfect, but it will get me on the table for some games and didn't have to rack up the credit card.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Painting: giving Inquisitor Coteaz a makeover!

In 2011, SC John and I ran a Top Ten of all Time models from Games Workshop. It was really a wonderful, but time consuming project in which we both dove into the Citadel model history and put 20 models (10 each) on our blog, counting down from 10 to 1. I still think fondly of it. John picked Inquisitor Coteaz as his number 10. And it should not be a surprise; in all the years before and after, this model has become a legend. It is timeless, has not aged one bit and looks the part of a bad ass Inquisitor perfectly. Here's what John said about him 3 years ago:

"Lord Coteaz
This guy has a giant hammer and a pet two headed giant cyber (Psyber) eagle, what's not to like? I always found the Daemon hunter retinues a bit odd looking, but this guy just looks like a bad mofo.
I always thought it would be cool to have an attack bird and I like the fur at the top of the cape, unless its not fur and its a bunch of crazy hair,.... then not so much."

Coteaz received a gold outfit from GW and over time, they have not really changed him and so on the battleboards there always are lots of gold Coteaz models. 

Fast forward
While rebuilding my Space Wolves after the Wolf Wing was made obsolete, I thought it would be cool to have an Inquisitor take charge of those ruffians from Fenris. In the end, the Inquisition trumps over everyone, including Logan and his wolves; they would have to bend the knee. Coteaz is the man for that job. Rules wise he can fit in as an HQ of an allied detachment, and he can be on his own, dishing out orders. But the gold would not do with the Spacewolves, so I gave him a more muted, hardcore look. He truly looks like he can look some tall Spacemarines in the eyes and tell them to get to work.
I painted the Eagles as California Golden Eagles, since we see those around once in a while.
I am not a great painter, but often times effective table top painting is based on a vision; coming up with a story line or idea before you start. In this case I came up with a little back story and then took steps to get there. It no Golden Demon, but I am pleased with the result. 

And here he is with a few of his minions....

And I would really invite all of you to re-read that top ten of all time. It's really a fun series! I kinda want to do it again! Here is the link: SCWH Top Ten models of all time

keep modeling!
SC Mike

Monday, October 13, 2014

The best way to create snowy bases!

When the new Space Wolf Codex dissed the Wolfwing, I decided to expand my wolves a bit and purchased some Thunderwolves. From the outset I envisioned that their bases would carry a lot of snow; the idea is that the Thunderwolves go where others can't and in those places the snow would be nice and thick.
For years I have been playing around with baking soda and PVA glue or drybrushing white paint on sand. I even glued sugar onto bases, but none of it looked really good. But now I have found the best solution; by far! Secret Weapon's crushed glass mixed with 'realistic water'. It's been on the market for a while, but I was surprised that none of my Santa Cruz Warhammer comrades were using it and I had kind of forgotten about it. Not anymore! Check out the tutorial!

1. create a good base with lots of rocks on it. You can nestle the snow up against it.
2. Here's the product, available at Secret Weapon Miniatures
3. Pour some crushed glass on a tray or container; don't breathe it in!! It's very fine, like powdered sugar.
4. add some Realistic Water
5. Then mix it with an old brush
6. It will become slushy. If you want your end result to be slush, melting snow, this is how you want it. I envisioned dryer, glimmering snow, so....
...I added some more crushed glass.
7. Brush it on in the thickness that you want in certain areas, but don't worry about what it looks like.
8. Once you have filled up your area, use a sculpting tool and massage the snow around, how you want it. Look at some winter images and study how the snow crests up against rocks.
9. Here's the finished, wet, snowy base. Now you will have to let it dry overnight.
10. Here's the end result, dry, glimmering, crispy looking snow! I think it whitened and hardened out even more after 48 hours. It will become rock hard.
And here are his buddies, all playing in the snow!

Mr. Justin of Secret Weapon sells the bundle for 12 bucks. You can do a LOT of bases with this, give it a try!
More good modeling posts at Santa Cruz Warhammer
SC Mike