16 August 2015

Advanced Heroquest Reborn - A New Miniatures Project

I ended my recent post on the new Age of Sigmar release by reflecting on the Games Workshop's decision to end the past 30 or so years of lore by destroying the Old World in which Warhammer was set and replacing it with a brand new world.
"The new world concept will need time to grow on me, it is of course instantly lacking the rich history that the previously established world accumulated over many years, but I suppose if I don't like it then I know I can carry on playing the older games as their rules are readily available. I can even mix and match older and newer figures and lore as I see fit. And that's it, at the end of the day a hobby like this will always be what you want to make of it." 
The last line got me thinking about how I can make the hobby what I want it to be. I have a certain nostalgic fondness for the older era models and lore. This of course is tied in with when I started collecting miniatures. I started with Heroquest before moving onto Advanced Heroquest, Warhammer 4th Edition and then Warhammer Quest along with the accompanying fiction of the era like the Konrad trilogy (by David Ferring) and Beasts in Velvet (by Jack Yeovil / Kim Newman). This shaped a clearly defined world in my mind which has stuck with me ever since, even though later releases perhaps watered that world down somewhat (before finally destroying it).

Warhammer Old World of Advanced Heroquest
Gone but not forgotten

Despite my liking of the older era lore I have mixed feeling about the older miniatures. Many purists will say you can only play these older games with old models, partly what I suspect is the driving force behind the somewhat overpriced "LOOK VINTAGE OOP CITADEL MINIATURES" sales that fill eBay week after week. Now while I do also have a fondness of some of the older models, some are, lets face it, not so great. And if I'm honest, I do think some of the newer models, yes including plastics, are an improvement on the older ones.

So with all that in mind I thought, why not use old and new models, to recreate something from the time of a rich and vibrant world, the Old World meets new. For me Heroquest was my first thought, but as I still own a complete copy I thought I'd move on to the next stage and recreate Advanced Heroquest (which I sadly no longer own and won't unless I part with the best part of £100).

Advanced Heroquest Reborn

So what is Advanced Heroquest Reborn? It's going to be my re-imagining of a classic game using modern models (although the odd classic will probably sneak in somewhere).

I want it to stay as true to the source as possible and looking through the rulebook there is a wealth of background images to draw on. My first thought, after reading the rulebook for the first time in a long time, was that it has a certain rawness and brutality about it which was lost in favour of a more polished world later on. This is something that really stands out today and something which makes it more appealing to me as an adult.

Advanced Heroquest Skaven Attack Art
The "old" Old World in all it's savage glory

Some of you may remember a post I wrote a long time ago where I contemplated building character models from the Warhammer 40K world. That never took off because first of all because I always felt more connected to the Warhammer world rather than the 40K world, and second, because I just didn't have the knowledge of the 40K range or enough spare parts to start with compared to Warhammer. So, as projects go, it's still somewhat ambitious for me but I do feel better prepared and more connected to the subject matter this time round.

Advanced Heroquest contained 36 figures, 20 of which were Skaven and me and Skaven have never got on due to my inability to paint them so that in itself will be a bit of challenge. It's also why I'm going to start my next Advanced Heroquest Reborn post by looking at the heroes.

29 July 2015

What's On The Workbench? #5

What's on my workbench?

I was thinking about these posts and realised that at any given time there's something on my workbench so I could write nothing but "What's On The Workbench" posts. Some things work out, others are put to one side, many never even feature in my blog posts.

With that in mind I've decided to take a different approach to sharing what I'm working on. For a start, this'll be the last of these posts as a more visual approach helps me share what I'm doing. So from now on I'll be using Instagram to post pictures of what I'm working on. Just click the What's On The Workbench Instagram button in the side-bar and you'll be able to see what I'm working on.

So here's a final picture, head over to Instagram to see more.

Tamiya 1 72 Spitfire Mk.Vb Instagram

07 July 2015

The Age of Sigmar Is Upon Us

After months of speculation the Age of Sigmar is finally upon us, this being the Games Workshop’s latest fantasy battle game, replacing the long-standing Warhammer Fantasy Battle, now in it's 8th edition.

As I tend to write about models and miniatures I am of course going to start by looking at the new miniatures, which I got to see at my local store. There are currently two factions of new miniatures both of which will be released with starter set next weekend.

First up are the Stormcast Eternals, these are an entirely new faction, representing the forces of order. The models looked very good and the plastic looks to be finer and more detailed than the current models within the fantasy range. However they are not really to my personal taste, I felt they’re essentially fantasy Space Marines and I’ve never been a fan of Space Marines, they're just too bland and have little depth beyond being big and crushing all that stands in their way.

Even so Space Marines are the Games Workshop's best sellers, which probably says a lot about their target demographic, and so I can see exactly why they've suddenly appeared in the fantasy setting.

Next we have the forces of chaos represented by the Khorne Bloodbound, one of the original chaos powers from the previous Warhammer. In that respect they’re nothing particularly new but again there’s a new set of figures, chaos warriors and marauders. These again are excellent and look finer and are more detailed sculpts than previous models.

The older chaos warriors and marauders have been around for some time now. In my opinion they’re a welcome overhaul these older figures (especially the marauders) in the range and when I first saw them I actually contemplated collecting chaos again! It'll be interesting to see if, going forward, there's an update for the other chaos powers.

As for the game itself the onus seems to be on simpler rules, just pick up whatever figures you have and start playing. As I have a bias toward miniatures I think this in itself is a good thing. For a long time I felt there has been too much focus on army lists, powerful units and characters and not enough on collecting the miniatures (or themes) that you want to collect. Want a small skirmish battle? That’s fine; want a huge battle? That's also fine.

Do these change go too far in the direction of simple? After reading the rules I'm still undecided. While few could disagree that Warhammer had become somewhat bloated the omission of things like rank bonus and psychology from older versions of Warhammer initially seem to suggest it's a bit too simple but until I play I can't be sure.

On the point of skirmish battles I can't help but feel that they regret ending Mordheim. As a skirmish game goes, if it was still around, it could have been used as an entry point to Warhammer and we wouldn't be where we are now. It's like they've realised the Warhammer of old required a lot of time and financial investment before you could even field a force on the table which was probably putting a lot of people off. Their solution, merge a skirmish and battle game into one product because the skirmish game that previously could have fulfilled that transition has long been gone.

Of course if you’ve spent any time on the internet this weekend you will have no doubt seen a lot of complaining! There seems to be a rather vocal criticism of the the game as being far too simple and of course complaining that “power-gaming” army lists are no longer valid. Personally I get the feeling the more vocal complainers, at least around the latter point, are the type of players that try hard to win a game with an army list rather than on the table top. These people are one of reasons why I lost interest in the gaming side of things some time ago. Despite all the criticism I have to say seeing this game for the first time this weekend actually had me contemplating gaming again!

From talking to my local store staff I get the impression that there’s been an acknowledgement that they needed make collecting and gaming fun again. If the Games Workshop want to take the increased fun approach as well then I really do think that they should be commended for this approach.

Something I think a lot of people have missed is that the Games Workshop realise they’re facing increasing competition from miniatures board games. Now it’s not uncommon to pick up a battle themed board game and so this seems like a logical step to bring those players into their fantasy gaming world. Should they have done that at the expense of their current Warhammer players? I think they had no choice as there certainly isn't room for both the Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Age of Sigmar. If the sales figures that are frequently mentioned for Warhammer, are to be believed, then from a business perspective it would have become unsustainable and we'd have eventually been left with no fantasy setting at all, just Warhammer 40K.

Of course this all comes at a cost, the destruction of the Old World, a world I've known for the past 25+ years. The new world concept will need time to grow on me, it is of course instantly lacking the rich history that the previously established world accumulated over many years, but I suppose if I don't like it then I know I can carry on playing the older games as their rules are readily available. I can even mix and match older and newer figures and lore as I see fit. And that's it, at the end of the day a hobby like this will always be what you want to make of it.

If you want to check out the new rules, then they are available for free here.

05 July 2015

Completed Review - Hobby-Boss F9F-2 Panther - Part 2

Scale: 1:72, RRP - £11.99

It's been a while since I started this kit and to tell the truth it's also been a while since I finished it, I've just not got round to writing about it. In fact it's been so long I've forgotten most of the build process, so I'll keep this short.

Carrying on from where I left off, I seem to remember, the cockpit fitted well but it was essential to add some weight to the nose. However the odd part was the nose wheel assembly, it was required to fit this into the wheel well at an early stage which meant for the duration of the build you had to be very careful not to bend or break it.

As I recall the fit was really good, two halves went together and the wings fitted with no issues. The final step was to add the fuel tanks to the wings, again that was straight forward. The only issue was the cleaning up of the parts where they'd been attached to the sprues which I'd mentioned previously.

And now it time to begin painting, which took a couple of attempts as I was having my usual issues with Tamiya paints, in this case XF-17 (Navy Sea Blue) which was the main colour for this aircraft. Of course this no reflection on the kit, just my lack of experience using Tamiya paints.

Now the next part I do remember well, the decals. They were good quality, I don't think I had any major issues getting them on the model. However the big issue with them is that in my opinion they're not to scale! I compared photos, other kits and even the decal guide contained in this kit and I can confidently say they're oversized. This was especially apparent on the nose where it was quite difficult to squeeze them into the available space.

Once the decals were on I could add the under wing ordnance and this was another strong point of the kit . There was plenty to choose from, although I think if you added all the bombs you'd probably have an aircraft that would struggle to take off!

With that in mind I opted for a mix of bombs and rockets and it was done.

I have say that really liked this kit. For me it was a good introduction to Cold War era jets and the kit combined with the Eduard photo-etch made a very nice model that went together well. Pity about those decals...

Overall Build Score: 3.5 out of 5, an extremely nice kit, full of detail but let down by the oversized decals.

08 April 2015

Vintage Kit Build #2 - A Back to Basics Bank Holiday Build

As the somewhat long winded title suggests, the recent bank holiday weekend has have given me time to build something new, or more accurately, something old.

A while ago I was given a box full of old model kits. Most of them could be classed as "vintage." Many had missing parts, almost all had no decals and so I'd put them to one side and had not really thought about building them.

So this weekend I decided to pick one out. Airfix's 1:72 scale Hawker Hurricane Mk I/IIB, a series 2 kit (02042), The plastic dates from 1979 and this particular boxing, I believe, is from 1990. Although the box was slightly crushed, everything appeared to be there, apart from the decals which were beyond use. This wouldn't be a problem as I had a suitable decal set, for a Mk I, to replace them with.

As for the approach to this build, I decided to keep it simple, closer to how I'd have built a model during a childhood bank holiday weekend.

The kit itself is typical of the time, raised details, next to no interior. With this in mind I decided to build it in flight, with the pilot seated, to fill the otherwise empty cockpit.

Of course less detail, less parts, less to worry about when putting it all together. The only real issue was the propeller, it was a simple piece of plastic fitted between the two halves and was a bit wobbly when moved. Certainly no Tamiya poly cap here, but it's all part of the charm.

Once assembled I moved onto the painting. I was going for an early war green and brown (rather than the late war grey on the box art). I this is where I had a bit of an ulterior motive for this build, I want to try two things. First, to try spraying a two colour camouflage scheme for the first time. Second, to see how accurate the colours were in Vallejo's Model Air RAF day fighter paint set.

Starting with the undersides I used Vallejo Grey (71.103 - RLM 84). I then moved onto the topside, spraying the whole area with the Dark Earth (71.029). Overall I was pleased, these two colours looked fairly accurate and of course sprayed easily. A quick matt varnish coat was added, again Vallejo  and then I masked the model with Blu-tack and masking tape ready for the topside green.

Here things went a little awry. I used, after following the colour sheet advice, US Dark Green (71.016 - RLM 73, no really...!) and I was thinking, it looked a little brownish. Against better judgement I removed all the masking to find next to no difference between the green and brown.

(I apologise  for the lack of photos at this point, it's a bit wordy for a while but stay with me)

Of course at this point I re-masked and resprayed.... OK, so no, I didn't. In the spirit of the old-school childhood build approach I was going for I found a better green and brush painted over the green that was closer to brown. And I actually ended up with a much better match, result! Which green I hear you ask? Russian Green (71.017), although I should add that the colour I got obviously was achieved over painting US Dark green base so I'm not sure how accurate it'll be straight out.

Surprisingly with a flat brush, the finish on an older kit with raised details is non too shabby if I do say so myself.

That just left the decals. As mentioned I had a set of spares. They came from Plastic Planet Club's Allied Fighters in the Battle for Greece set which cost me about £4 (discounted, they should be about £7) and contains decals for a single version of four different RAF aircraft (a Hurricane, Gladiator, Blenheim and Beaufighter)

An OK little set for the price I paid, full price, I'm not so sure. The decals had a habit of curling up and needed a fair bit of persuading before they'd settle down.

Anyway, after that rather lengthy post, here's the final pictures.

A rather tidy build all things considered, and you know what? I had fun doing it, which is how it should be!