‘Emotional’ Support

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? More progress to share today – the two Support Squads are finished. I’d love to say that these guys offer a gentle emotional support to the troops, helping them to process the complex feelings that arise from a life dedicated to combat, but Space Marines just aren’t down with that… They are pumped full of ‘roids and angst, and their armour is powered by testosterone, cortisone, and quite possibly Toblerone. Their 80s toxic masculinity is so profound that the very concept of any ‘emotion’ other than rage would be ridiculous… No, these guys only value the ‘blow shit up real gud’ type of support…

So now we’ve cleared that up, lets talk about the squads – each of which packs a pair of laser cannons, a heavy bolter and a missile launcher, as well as a Sergeant to point them in the right direction. Unusually, I’m going to talk about these minis by type rather than squad by squad – they are quite eclectic, so I think it’ll make more sense this way.

First up, let’s look at the C100 Marines. I had a job lot of these, including two missile launchers, a heavy laser and some ‘guards’. The missile launchers were obvious, as was the heavy laser guy, but I was stuck with what to use the guards for. I had a moment of inspiration, and converted three of the guards to look like they also had heavy lasers – the guy aiming to his right is the original weapon, and the other three are the conversions:

The C100s are actually quite interesting – they are the very first non-limited release Marines, (75p each folks), designed by Bob Naismith and released in 86… That means these minis actually pre-date the Rogue Trader game itself! Stylistically, they have so many elements that are recognisable even today – the beaky helmet, the backpacks and the iconic shoulder pads, (including the studs on the left pad), but there is also a lot of other stuff going on here. I didn’t convert the missile launchers at all, and you can see the ornate greaves, bracers, knee & elbow armour, and the very different interpretation of the weapons. Also, there is no getting away from the fact that these guys are really small and skinny – they look more like teenage knights in fitted plate armour rather than hulking power armoured post-human shock troops… This general skinniness prompted me to oversculpt the legs on the heavy laser guys in an attempt to help them fit in a little better :-/

 

Next we have a pair of heavy bolters courtesy of the RT01 Marines from 87 – just one year later, yet immediately we can see a bulkier look to the Marines themselves, separate backpacks, and the style of weapon start to look a bit more recognisable. I’m really unhappy at including these guys to be honest – I chose them because they avoided the shoulder firing approach we see in later heavy weapon Marines, but they are noticeably bigger than their squad-mates. I would much rather have stuck with the C100s or (even better) the LE2 Marine to represent the heavy bolters, just to keep a consistent scale within the squads – I’ll get around to fixing it one day, but they’ll do for now. The only conversion work needed for these two is the addition of a sculpted bolt pistol:

 

Finally we have the Sergeants – so far the squads are looking practically identical, but I wanted to mix it up a bit with the unit leaders. I opted for a pair of Marines in armour variants from (I think) 91. One squad gets a Marine in Mk I ‘Thunder’ Armour, (and his fab-u-lous helmet plume!), and another in Mk III ‘Iron’ Armour. Both are unconverted apart from the addition of a sculpted bolt pistol:

 

And here are they all are together, arranged by squad:

 

The paint job follows my approach to all the other Marines so far – this time I used Blue on the backpacks to denote ‘Support’, and this is offset with white for one squad and red for the other. I should probably note that of all the squads so far, these guys were the most frustrating to paint – mainly because the C100s are so goofy, but also the Mk III Sergeant was a sod. He doesn’t look too bad from the front, but the back of the mini is a really soft sculpt & not much fun to paint at all. I did cheer myself up by putting in a bit of detail on his left shoulder, (the DXIX refers to the 519th crusade mentioned in the Wolf Time campaign btw), and the Mk I Sergeant was a nice mini, but the otherwise-tedious painting and the scale difference makes these two squads my least favourite part of the army so far. I’m just very happy that I have the characters to look forward to – there are some cracking minis to get my teeth into!

 

Oh, I nearly forgot – I did finish another thing – the shrouded movement counters for the third game of the campaign! Basically, the Marines get to advance through a thick fog, and so are ‘hidden’ until they get within a certain range or they open fire. I don’t know how the Marines will allocate their resources on the day, so I needed a counter for each mini plus a load of decoys, (the Marine player gets 25% more counters than he has actual troops). I got a load of 25mm MDF bases, sprayed them up quick, and just splashed some paint around on one side & wrote a troop description on the other. Not terribly exciting I know, but a necessary part of the campaign prep:

 

Finally, I had a lovely card from a friend who has been reading up on my little project – despite not knowing anything about the hobby, she went and researched Spacewolves, and then copied this design for me and put it on a card:

How cool is that eh? I’m chuffed to bits! Diolch yn fawr butty bach 😊

Anyhow, that’s all for this post – I’ll be working through the characters over then next 2 weeks & will keep you all updated along the way.

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Assault (-n-pepa)

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? I have another bit of progress to share today – the super-vet hardcore Space Wolf assault team of death! These guys are pretty bad-ass in the Wolf Time campaign… all the Marines have Champion stats, the Sergeant is a Minor Hero, and they are all tooled up with some nasty hardware… Take a look!

 

These guys took a bit of converting – I couldn’t get hold of any examples of period flamer or meltagun Marines – a mini does exist for each, but they are very hard to get hold of… I knew time was a factor in this project, so I ended up converted my own. Let’s take a look at the Melta/Chainsword guys first. The one on the right is an old Captain mini – he just had his bolter converted into a meltagun, (a barrel swap and some sculpted fuel tanks on the side – pretty straight forward stuff). The dude on the left is based on a medic – he needed a full weapon swap for another homemade Meltagun, (based on an RTB01 Bolter), and I also sculpted on a holstered bolt pistol:

 

The flamer guy on the left is also converted from an old medic, (actually the first ever Marine medic), but I didn’t want two quacks in the squad, so he had his bling removed before being given a hand-swap and flamer from the RTB01 set. The conversion is a bit meh to be honest – he looks a bit awkwardly posed, but he fits the bill & will definitely do the job for now. The other flamer guy is based on the famous Needlegun Marine – it’s a slightly more involved weapon conversion, but he is more naturally posed than his squad-mate. By happy coincidence, both minis look like they are wearing over-gloves of some kind – no doubt to protect them while handling the volatile flamer fuel:

 

The Sergeant came perfectly equipped with power Glove & bolt pistol, so I just added a spare helmet, (mainly so I had somewhere to paint his Sgt’s helmet stripe):

 

The paint job follows my approach to all the other Marines so far – I went for Red to denote ‘assault’, but as this is the only assault squad, I painted both exhaust ports the same. I also borrowed a bit of Middlehammer lore around Spacewolf Bloodclaws, and gave them all red gloves… no real reason other than I think it looks good & marks them out as being a bit special. Finally, I added some blood spatter to the Chainsword guys, because hitting people with a chainsaw would be FUCKING MESSY!!!

Anyhow, that’s it for now folks – just the support squads to paint, and then we’re on to the characters… Onwards and upwards!

Never mind the Bullocks

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? Oh, happy day – I’ve finished up another unit of Space Wolves, and, as an added bonus, it’s the unit I was least looking forward to painting! As you might guess from the title, it’s the 5 dudes on the dreaded Mk1 ‘Bullock’ jet cycle, and getting them painted first is kinda like getting the Brussel Sprouts out of the way before you eat the delicious roast chicken :-)

Now, the Bullock jet bike is an interesting bit of kit – if you don’t include Dreadnoughts, I believe it is the first 40k vehicle ever made by Citadel, way back in 1987. Ironically, that means that Marines had Jet Bikes one year before the Eldar got theirs! The models themselves are two-piece affairs, cast in lead, with the main body of the bike being separate from the wings. Objectively, they are a bit shite, but they ain’t bad at all when you consider their age and place in 40k history… they do have a certain charm I think:

 

Putting the minis together was fairly simple, but I did have some challenges to overcome. One thing you might notice is the complete absence of handle-bars, or any kind of control system on the bikes – they have auto-drive in game terms, so that’s fine, but it makes for some awkward ‘no hands’ posing which just didn’t sit right with me. Also, they were designed to work with the RTB01 plastic Marines, but me being me, I opted for slightly later metal riders. I converted three of the riders to be ‘in motion’ by leaning them forward at the waist, and re-positioning their left arms to look as if they were holding on to the faring – they might be pretend space men with flying bikes but the laws of physics must still apply, and you’re going to want to hold on to something when you’re accelerating hard!

 

I modelled the other two to look like they had pulled up somewhere to take a shot at something – not too much conversion work needed here, other than sourcing some helmets for them, (again, they might be pretend space men, but only a lunatic would zip around at 300” per turn without a lid). The only other change was sculpting the Lieutenant’s hand so that he’s casually holding on to his helmet, (phnar).

 

Nothing major to report on the painting front, other than it taking me about twice as long to paint them due to the increased surface area. I chose black for the exhaust vents on their backpacks to denote the squad – it’s the only recon squad in the list, so I was happy to paint both vents the same. As with all the squads so far, I’ve gone for an eclectic mix of minis – there’s a Chaplain, a Medic and a Lieutenant, although all will be played as regular Marines in the campaign.

Anyhow, that’s all for this post – we’re on the home stretch now, and I’m hoping to get through the remaining 21 Space Wolf minis in fairly rapid order. I’ll keep you posted of course, but meanwhile, I’ll leave you with some individual pics of the flying squad:

Growing the pack

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? It’s a bit of a slow news week from me I’m afraid… it isn’t that I’ve been idle – far from it! It is just that I’ve been tied up with building Spacewolves rather than painting them. Usually I don’t do WIP posts, but I figured you’d rather see some progress rather than nothing at all, so here goes.

First up, we have two support squads:

I used a high proportion of the venerable ‘C100’ Marines from 1986 here – I think that apart from the LE2 Marine, these guys were the first of their kind. The missile launchers are unmolested, and the Heavy Bolter dudes (not C100) are unchanged apart from the addition of the circular badge on the right shoulder to match the other C100 dudes. The Las Cannons are a different matter. The one facing to his right in the first pic is an original C100 ‘Heavy Laser’ guy, and I really like him, so I converted up three more C100s to give them similar weapons. This was quite a fiddly job, but I’m hoping that they’ll pass muster once painted. I also sculpted over the lower legs of all the las cannon operators to make them look a bit more substantial – as with a lot of early minis, they suffer from having pathetic little legs, so I bulked them up a bit & sculpted in some detail to echo the Heavy Bolter guy’s legs. Again, I hope that they’ll blend in convincingly once painted. The Sergeants are both wearing older armour marks – Mk3 ‘Iron Armour’ in the first pic, and Mk1 ‘Thunder Armour’ in the second. I had these minis in a job lot, and wanted to fit them in somewhere – their static poses are perfect for support squads in my humble opinion. I don’t expect these guys to ever have to use their bolters in a squad with a minimum range of 40”…  They both have Bolt Pistols sculpted on them somewhere as well, but with even less chance of using them! :-)

 

Next, at the other end of the range spectrum, the assault squad:

These guys mostly involved weapon swaps – the two Chainsword guys were both converted to have meltaguns, and both have bolt pistols sculpted on them somewhere. The two flamer dudes also had weapon swaps & bolt pistols, but the Sergeant was perfect as is, so no changes needed for him. I’m really looking forward to painting these guys – they are the elite squad of the army, with minimum Champion stats throughout, so deserve a bit of extra attention with the brush.

 

Finally, the Jetbikers:

These were probably the most involved conversions of this batch – I tried to get three of them looking like they were ‘in motion’ (on the right of the pic as you view it), while the other two are more statically posed. I made sure that the dudes not wearing helmets at least had one to hand – even Marines would be mad to zip around on a Jetbike without a lid! The more dynamic guys were variously re-posed to get the left arms holding on to the bike cowling, and all had some filling done around the back to account for their forward leaning pose. I also included an officer in this squad, even though the list doesn’t include one – he was just too cool a mini to leave out! Much like the various medics, techmarines and chaplains, he’ll be played as a regular Marine.

So that’s all I have to share today –the characters are mostly built as well, but I didn’t want to share them with you guys just yet. One thing is certain though, with a little over 9 weeks to go, and all of the terrain yet to do, I’m really going to have to get a move on!

Tactical Wolves

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? It has been slow progress for yours truly lately – turns out painting shonky 1980s Space Marines it quite laborious, but I do have a bit of something to share with you today. If you remember, last time I had a bunch of tactical Marines painted but no missile launchers to complete their squads – the build for the ML guys took a little longer because a) I converted them from Marines that were not intended to carry a heavy weapon, and b) they all had arms sculpted to a greater or lesser extent. The metal heavy weapons Marines don’t work well with the old RTB01 missile launcher, so I had to get creative! Here they all are doing the ‘show off your sculpted arm conga’:

 

Huge thanks to Mark at Heresyofus for casting up all those missile launchers for me! Here they are in a more natural pose – note that Mr. Blue and Mr. Green had their left arms/hands sculpted too:

 

The missile launchers, (plus some armour graffiti), completes Red, Yellow, Green and Blue Tac squads:

 

And they are joined by Purple and Orange Tac squads:

 

This completes the Tactical contingent of the Space Wolves, and is actually more than half the total Marine force finished already! Here they all are, ready to cock a leg and kick some arse:

 

I’ll be tackling the Devastators next, so you’ll have to endure another lull as I tackle the next building phase I’m afraid. I do have some news about another aspect of the project though – I have commissioned & collaborated with Mark over at Heresyofus to develop an expansion to the Mag Bellum concept that will allow me to create Kulo’s Castle in 3D for the final game of the scenario. I popped around his place over the weekend & got to see some of his prototypes first hand:

Exciting times dudes! Catch you all soon :-)

Make Spacewolves Grey Again!

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? It feels like an age since I last put finger to key for this blog, but really it has only been a couple of weeks! I must admit, I haven’t been doing hobby stuff as frantically as I was beforehand. I was really fired up after completing Kulo, but then I learned that the admins on the OldHammer FB group had taken down my post on him – either because of the Trump thing upsetting someone on that forum & prompting a complaint, (bad), or in a pre-emptive complaint avoidance strategy, (worse). I felt a bit deflated by this if I’m honest – I understand the need to avoid causing offence, and I hate the thought of upsetting someone for no good reason, but I also think it’s a very sad day when we can’t poke fun at politicians & are actively censored to achieve that aim… I found myself caught between being embarrassed & worried on the one hand, and indignant on the other, and I lost the wave of encouragement that I had felt for the project up until that point.  Still, it is what it is, and while it took the wind out of my sails a for a good few days, I can’t feel pissed off about it without acknowledging that the post may have pissed someone off. Long story short, I pulled my finger out & made a start on the Space Wolf side of the Wolf Time campaign… Grab a coffee & pull up a chair – there is quite a lot to discuss :-)

Firstly, I want to take some time to articulate what I’m trying to achieve with my Space Wolves – running a period campaign isn’t just a case of slapping some paint on a bunch of minis you know! ;-) My Marines needed to be contemporary to the Wolf Time campaign, way back before GW started to crystallise the Space Wolves into fur-clad, ice-gun toting Werewolf-Vikings in space. This needed some research!

The only valid colour reference material for this time is to be found in the core Rogue Trader book, and in the Book of the Astronomican itself:

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First thing to note – Space Wolves of this era are GREY. Not bluey-grey, nor greyish-blue… just grey. The RT image uses a lighter shade than the BotA cover, but that’s fine – Marines were allowed to field modify their armour colours back in the good old days, (even using camo if they felt like it!). Second thing to note is the use of yellow as the spot colour – even (it seems) contradicting the RT claim that troopers get a red stripe on their lids. Third thing to note – no fur, runes, ice weapons, or any of the other stuff that makes the Space Wolves what they are today. They are just plain old Marines that are clad in grey and yellow & just happen to be called Space Wolves! However, we also have some character sketches in the BotA, and these show the very beginnings of the evolution of the chapter into what we know today… Note the canine teeth:

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So far, so interesting, and at this point, I felt I had a good idea of how my Marines were going to look. Next, I read and re-read the verbiage relating to the Marines in the Wolf Time campaign:

Five years ago, Commander Enoch, with nine of the ten warrior companies that comprised the Spacewlves, had joyously begun the chapter’s five hundred and nineteenth crusade. There were few warrior-brethren left now. The crusade was almost at an end. Soon they would return to their own world of Lucan and the formidable fortress-monastery that was their ancient home. Xit would be their final challenge – the last campaign of a five year mission to cleanse the recently discovered worlds of alien occupation.

The years had taken their toll on the chapter’s resources – both human and otherwise. The Restitution’s sister ship, the Vengeance, had been lost in the fighting around Tulwa. Her brave crew and half the fighting contingent died in the burning hulk. Most of the transport still lay immobile and rusting in the swamps of Jytor. It was doubtful if the Restitution was in any condition to fight, twenty seven percent of her hold capacity and thirty four percent of habitable areas were sealed pending major repairs. Over a hundred men had been trapped in the damaged sections when the threat of depressurisation forced the decision to seal. The Imperial edict that began the crusade was an inestimable honour, but its completion would allow much-needed time to rebuild the weary and depleted Spacewolves.

Later in the Marine’s campaign orders, the book states the following:

The troops at your disposal comprise the remaining warriors of the Spacewolves chapter of Space Marines. Much of your equipment has been expended during the crusade, and many of your brethren have fallen in battle.

So, two things to note – firstly, the campaign refers to them as Spacewolves, not Space Wolves (as in RT). Interesting, but not too relevant from a modelling perspective. Secondly, these guys have had a proper kicking during their crusade – indeed, these troops are among the very last of their chapter! In practical terms, I felt this gave me license to be quite eclectic with my mini choice, using odd armour variants, and including specialists like medics and techmarines as regular troops, (there were no rules for these specialists at the time). Also, I figured that I could get away with quite a banged up & weathered paint job – not as grungy as the Orks of course, but not the pristine battle-plate that most people go for either.

Finally I had some self-imposed ‘rules’ that I wanted to follow for this part of the project… Firstly, no plastic minis – lead or dead baby! Secondly, full WYSIWYG, except for a few special exceptions that I’ll comment on later. Thirdly, I wanted to have squad markings that allow for easy in-game identification.

Now that I had my inspiration, vibe and rules nailed down, I got started on the six ‘Combat Units’, (referred to as ‘Howlers’ in the book, but essentially Tac squads). Each combat unit has a Sgt. With Bolter & bolt pistol, three troops with bolter and bolt pistol, and one Marine with a missile launcher and bolt pistol. I wasn’t quite ready to tackle the missile launcher Marines at this stage, (quite a lot of conversion work needed), but I did get cracking on the troops for four of the Tac squads. I also didn’t have anywhere near enough proper backpacks for my Marines, so I went third party & sourced some suitable ones from Spellcrow. I used different colours on the backpack vents to identify the squads – one vent is yellow for Tac squads, and the other shows the squad colour. First up, Red squad:

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Here’s a few more angles showing the freehand chapter badges & sculpted bolt pistols.

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Next we have Yellow squad – note the shuriken catapult (acceptable in the 80s) & comms Marine. I’ll play the shuriken catapult with bolter stats of course, but this mini is too cool not to include. Bolt pistols are sculpted on where needed.

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Next we have Blue squad – note the autogun, medic & chaplain sergeant. Again, the autogun will be played as a bolter because ‘cool’, and bolt pistols are sculpted on where needed.

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Finally, Green squad – includes another medic & sculpted bolt pistols where needed.

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So that’s it for now! Hopefully this gives you all a clear idea of what I am trying to do & why. I have the rest of the Tac squads almost ready to undercoat, and I’m about to start working on prepping the support & assault units as well. I do need some help from you guys though – one of the cool things about RT Marines is that they liked to add graffiti to their armour, like this guy:

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I’m drawing a blank on other pithy one-worders to embellish my Marines with, but if you post a comment below with some suggestions for graffiti, I’ll include them on a suitable mini ;-)

Until next time!