Happy Birthday Lead Balloony!

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? I wasn’t planning to post today – I’m busy working through terrain and wanted to get a bit more done for a more involved post, but I had a reminder that Lead Balloony is 5 years old in my feed today, so I thought it an auspicious day for a cheeky little update 😊

So, if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that the best way to celebrate any birthday is with a bit of casual sacrilege and some light-hearted iconoclasm. Happily, the Wolf Time campaign provides the perfect opportunity to indulge with the iconic statue in the first game. From the book:

“Years ago, before the Orks arrived and made everybody’s lives miserable, (and short), Temple Mountain was a place of peace and solitude. Every year the islanders made sacrifices to the gods with which they imaginatively peopled their island. Twice a year they celebrated the passing seasons with a great procession to the temple which their ancestors had built thousands of years previously. The guardians of the temple were wise oracles who would offer advice to the ordinary folk. Once in a while, a young child would be offered to the guardians and, if accepted, would be reared in the temple to become a guardian himself in time.

Then the Orks arrived and killed everyone. They desecrated the large statue which the humans had carved in the likeness of one of their gods, and turned it into a grinning Ork.”

And:

“The statue in front of the temple is also made of solid rock, and can provide had cover for up to two models”

We also have some artwork to go on:

 

And most famously, the cover of The Book of the Astronomican by Tony Roberts:

 

So the rules say ‘provides cover for up to 2 models’, which is tiny, but the art shows a vast statue that would be impractical to build and game with. I think the game map is actually the best guide for scale, which suggests something about 6” wide:

 

While the artwork is not very helpful for scale, it is fairly consistent on the appearance of the statue, and it strongly suggests using a buddha as the start point. I also like the addition of the sword in the cover art, so  after quick trip to a local hippy shop with an idea of scale & armed with the cover as a reference, I ended up with this:

 

This has probably royally fucked my visa to Thailand, but I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s pretty much instantly recognisable. The head & sword were sculpted over a wire frame and a coffee stirrer respectively, and I textured up the base before spraying the whole piece black, and then again with grey. I then painted the statue with typhus corrosion – I find that this gives otherwise smooth surfaces a nice texture, and I use this method a lot for stonework. After that, I just drybrushed the whole piece, added different washes to the old & new stonework to show a difference, and adding spots of lichen to the older material. I finished up with a final light drybrush and some foliage & tufts to bed the piece into the ground and because FUCKING OLD-SCHOOL, and I ended up with this:

 

And here’s another shot with a spare Ork & Space Marine Bastard for scale:

 

So that’s it folks – I have a lot more campaign terrain in various stages of completion, but it’s good to get the most iconic piece of terrain done & set the tone for the rest of the project. I just hope that this doesn’t have any cosmic ramifications! :-/

Leader(s) of the pack

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Greetings Terrans, how goes it? Today’s update is an exciting one, because I have the Space Wolf characters completed & ready to share! However, before we get into the Marines, last week wasn’t all about the Spacewolves… I also managed 8 Squigs to add to my Orks – mainly for shenanigans in the final game:

Nothing spectacular here, but good to get them done.

 

Right, let’s get to the main event! Warning – this is a picture heavy post, so grab yourself a coffee & settle in…. You good? Ok, let’s get started :-)

First up, I just want to talk a little about how each character is presented in the book. Sadly, the Marine characters didn’t get little bios in the campaign pack like the Orks did, but they did get a character sketch by Tony Hough, a stat bar, and an equipment list. As a result, there isn’t much to go on when it came to gleaning the character of each mini, so there is a lot of interpretation and wiggle room here. In some cases, I used the sketches as inspiration, but in others, I based the mini on the equipment list only.

First up, Captain Storm:

Captain Storm – Marine Minor Hero: Powered Armour. Refractor armour. Bolt pistol. Plasma pistol. Chainsword. Melta-bombs. Bionic eye with targeter (+1 to hit).

So, we can definitely say that Capt. Storm is tooled up for close combat, is hard hitting, and has been through the wars a bit… Sounds like a grizzled vet to me, and the character sketch backs that up. I decided to use the Captain mini from the C100 range of Marines – I discussed the C100s in some detail last post so I won’t go into all that again, but the same reservations apply. However, the Captain is probably the pick of the bunch, and the age of the mini just gives him a nice veteran vibe in my opinion:

I didn’t really need much doing to bring him into line with the equipment list – he already had a weird holstered pistol that can count as a bolt weapon, and a bit of green glow means that the fist-weapon on the right hand can read as a plasma pistol. He has enough bling to explain away the refractor field, and already had a cool bionic eye too, so I just added the chainsword, (from the 91ish Jes Goodwin Spacewolf Captain), and sculpted on a couple of largish grenades to suggest Melta Bombs. I suspect that the left arm is meant to be a power glove, but it isn’t really big enough to be definitive in my opinion, so I left it alone.

 

Next, Captain Greylock:

Captain Greylock – Marine Minor Hero: Powered armour. 2x Bolt pistols. Hand flamer.

Hmmm… not too much to go on here – Greylock is kitted out as some kind of a gunslinger/arsonist type, while the sketch does kind of suggest a stylised helmet to me… That helmet prompted me to use the aforementioned Jes Goodwin sculpt as the base model:

I cleaned up some of the more middle-hammer Spacewolf detail, even going so far as to cut out the left shoulder pad and swapping in an older studded version. I removed the chainsword-wielding left hand, (with the sword getting donated to Capt. Storm), and I swapped in a gloved hand & hand-flamer from an older Marine. The only other work was to sculpt a handle & magazine onto the empty pistol holster so that he had two bolt pistols.

 

Next, we have Captain Inferno:

Captain Inferno – Marine Minor Hero: Powered armour. Bolt gun. Bolt pistol. Power-sword.

Again, not too much to go on here, but a power sword is a pretty fancy-pants weapon, so maybe there’s a slight aristocratic vibe to Inferno? A touch of arrogance? The character in the sketch certainly looks pleased with himself… Just as an aside – anyone notice that Eye of Horus tattoo on his noggin? How ironic, given the relationship between the Spacewolves and the Thousand Sons in the later fluff! Anyway, I went with a Lt. Commander mini from 89 as he had an ornate left shoulder pad, and plenty of rank badges dotted around:

I swapped the left arm for that of a Lieutenant from the same range in order to give him a Bolter, while the power sword & bolt pistol were already in place. With hindsight, I wish I had shaved the rank badge off his left arm – the mismatch bothers me, but not enough to mess with a finished mini. It’ll have to be an honour badge of some sort instead.

 

Ok, next let’s take a look at Navigator Durlan Ocellati:

Navigator Durlan Ocellati – Ordinary Human Major Hero: Powered armour. Power-glove. 3 Jokaero digital lasers.

Hmmm…. I’m not sure what’s going on with that sketch, but anyone who knows anything about 40k knows that Navigators are sanctioned mutants, that you wouldn’t see one in Marine power armour, and that they don’t typically do interpretive dance or yoga. Apologies to Tony Hough and the folks that put the Book of the Astronomican together, but the sketch just doesn’t make sense, so I just ignored it… Come to think of it, having the Navigator in the expeditionary force at all doesn’t make sense either :-/

Anyway, I started with a ’88 power-gloved Harlequin miniature and over-sculpted it to create my own interpretation of Durlan Ocellati:

Most of the armour is my own work – in fact everything apart from the lower legs, the face mask and the left arm/power glove is sculpted by me. The entire right forearm & hand is sculpted – note the digi-lasers and slightly webbed hands. I really went to town on the head, with a bulbous cranium as befits a sanctioned mutant who uses his brain as an ethereal sat-nav. The only other minor detail is an extra gem sculpted on to the power glove – I assume the inspiration for that is obvious… I make no apology, this was entirely gratuitous :-)

 

Next, lets meet Librarian Edrigar:

Librarian Edrigar – Marine Champion (psyker): Powered armour. Bolt gun. Psionic mastery: 1. Psi level: 10. Abilities: aura of resistance, hammerhand and mental blow.

So, this is another weird one… Edrigar is the only psyker in the Marine list, yet he is just a lowly Champion, and doesn’t even get a force weapon! I imagine he’s quite a junior member of the psychic brotherhood, and maybe even the only surviving Librarian left on the crusade… He certainly looks pissed about something in his character sketch! I was scratching my head as to how I could strip an actual Librarian mini down to just have a bolt gun, but then I decided to flip the idea by blinging up a normal Bolter Marine to look more like a Libarian:

I started with the aiming Marine biker torso from ‘91, (Jon, I hope you approve!), and I added suitable legs, and a psychic hood that I painstakingly hollowed out from a donor ’89 Librarian. I also cut in a more appropriate right shoulder pad from the same donor, and I added some foil scrolls & sculpted on some pouches. All in all, I think he fits the bill nicely as a junior psyker.

 

Finally, the big man himself, Commander Enoch:

Commander Enoch – Marine Major Hero: Powered armour. Displacer armour. Bolt gun. Bolt pistol. Power-glove. 3 Jokaero digital lasers built into power-glove.

Well, here we are – the last mini of the whole set. Unlike his Ork counterpart, Commander Enoch has a pretty unspectacular equipment list! It kind of suggests a no-nonsense approach to the business of war, so I went with a pretty no-nonsense mini to represent him:

The mini is a humble ‘Space Marine with Terminator Honours’ from ’89. He was perfectly equipped already, so the only very minor change is the addition of 3 digi-lasers to the power glove. Otherwise, he’s such a solid mini that I didn’t feel the need to make any other adjustments!

 

In terms of painting, all six were broadly treated the same as the rest of the army. I put a bit of extra effort into the detailing, but I figured that the officers probably have a bit more care and attention given to maintaining their equipment, and they are probably too grown up to scribble ‘Kil’ on their armour. I therefore applied slightly less weathering and I skipped the graffiti, (apart from getting their names on their armour somewhere).  Commander Enoch had a fair amount of extra effort put in on his right shoulder pad – I’m particularly pleased with his ‘Wolf Rampant to Sinister’ heraldry!

Librarian Edrigar has blue elements to his armour to denote ‘Librarian’, and while I had total freedom on the colours for the Navigator, I still wanted him to fit in with the overall force. I stuck with the grey as the main colour for Ocellati, but I tested this with a purple contrast and gold accents.  I think the palette worked out very nicely, and I may well use this scheme again at some point.

I also spent some extra effort on ‘effects’, with Captain Inferno’s Powersword being the most obvious effort. I haven’t really painted glowing arcs of electricity before, so this was a bit of an experiment, but I hope it works to convey what the weapon is. I repeated the trick on Librarian Edrigar’s hood and also added some ‘because magic’ glow to his eye. Navigator Ocellati and Cpt. Storm also got a bit of subtle glow added at key points.

 

So, that’s all folks – I know I still have a ton of terrain to produce, but I do feel like wrapping up all the minis for this campaign is a huge achievement. Since August last year I have worked my way through 101 Orks, 55 Marines, a human Navigator, a Gretchin gun carrier and 8 Squigs – all the minis needed to run the game plus some optional extras. A lot of these figures were converted, and some quite extensively! I have had to learn to sculpt, and I have pushed my conversion skills to the limit at times… I have poured my heart and soul into this project, and it was totally worth it. Do you want to see them all together? No? Ok, no worries…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, you do? Oh, ok then – if you’re sure :-)

Here are the remains of the 519th Crusade of the Spacewolves:

 

And here are Governor Kulo’s Ork forces:

 

And all together – 10 months of effort:

 

Phew! Now, on with that terrain :-)

‘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.

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!