Drop pods are deceptively large models and it took quite some time to get this model ready for priming. The digital camo scheme was done with styencils from Anarchy Models. There is a good tutorial on Beasts of War which can be seen here.
I have an urban theme for the bases of my Sauroters army but I didn’t want to do a grey digital camo. I wanted something a bit more mediterranian so I went with Tamiya Olive Drab (TS-28) and Tamiya Wooden Deck Tan (TS-68). The light green is Highlight Russian Tank Crew II (70.330), which is also the highlight color for Sauroter power armour.
I contacted Anarchy Models to ask if I could use rattlecans with their stencils. They recommended car primers rather than the Tamiya line. This is because the Tamiya cans have quite a heavy flow. You tend to get a ridge building up at the edge of layers. I didn’t mind that but if you were doing a lot of weathering it might be a problem.
The doors were a little tricky to fit. Three fit fine, one is almost perfect and one is a bit reluctant to fully close. I can live with it. I think I could have gotten a better fit if I have assembled it before painting but that would have made the painting process really difficult.
I enjoyed assembling and painting this kit a lot more than I though I would. In fact, I’d really like to do a Dreadclaw. Maybe in a future project. Incidentally this is the first model I’ve posted in a hobby Facebook group. The post can be seen here
After a mammoth four day session I have assembled and primed all three tactical squads. I enjoyed doing it but I am also glad it’s over. After all this cutting, sanding and gluing I am really keen to get back to painting. As I mentioned in an earlier post I am modeling the sergeants and specialists with a single weapon option. Chainsword and plasma pistol and plasma gun respectively. They are intended to be WYSIWYG.
That said, the MKIII marines were modeled with chainswords. This is because the Burning of Prospero sprus come with 10, so I thought I’d use them. The marines are all equipped with a combat blade (or sword), grenades and ammo pouches.This makes them quite bulky but I would expect them to be heavily equipped. This also fits my counter insurgency theme.
After looking at them for a while I decided I didn’t like the chainswords on the MKIII marines. They were too big and awkwardly mounted. What really finished it for me though, was the handles. They are modeled with a kind of tab which is how they attach to the belts. Mounted behind the shoulder these tabs had nothing to attach to and would have looked weird when painted.
I wanted to keep the theme of combat blades consistent so I went back to my first squad of tactical marines and removed the 3D printed kopis. A couple broke during the process but that can’t be helped. They actually fit quite well on the the MKIII armor, so no filing was required.
The MKIV and MKVII marines have more conventional combat blades. There is an issue with fit though. I wanted the blades to be mounted behing the shoulder. They don’t fit. Particularly in the case of the MKIV blades. So, I had to file down the back of the torso with a square file to make space. I also had to position the handles to take advantage of the gap in the backpacks between the main unit and the exhaust.
The poses are fairly static due to all the extra bits like pouches limiting articulation. But I like how they look as a group. The MKIII marines look particularly brutal. The most difficult part of assembly was fitting the two parts of the MKIII backpack. It’s difficult not the leave a gap or inadvertently cut into the model while cleaning.
The models are preshaded with Tamiya Dark Grey and then a zentithal layer of Tamiya Light Grey undercoat. I really do think preshading makes a big difference if you can keep your paint layers really thin. The next step will be basecoating. That will be an even bigger job than assembling and priming.
I bought a box of assault marines from an ebay seller. The kit is fine, but really showing its age in terms of finish. Compared to the new Space Marine Tactical Squad set the details are a lot less defined. Particularly the legs, where the knee pads meet the thigh armour. This is not a complaint so much as an observation. I still like the kit.
However, the jump packs really do have big gaps. I didn’t take any pictures while I was assembling mine. It’s a bit of a bother to set everything up. But, here is a good example:
This picture comes from an excellent OSL tutorial from ChestofColors.com, which can be read here. You can see the gaps quite clearly. You can also see how inaccessible those parts of the model are. When I painted my Chaplain, I tried to sand the seams smooth. It didn’t work very well and I was unsatisfied with the results.
I have some green stuff but I’ve never used it before and it seems like an unsuitable application for it. I did some research on filling gaps and decided on Vallejo Plastic Putty. It’s water soluble so it won’t wreck your brushes and can apparently be colored with paint. It comes in a dropper bottle or tube. I bought the latter.
I found it really easy to use. I simply applied it into gaps with a paintbrush and used a damp cotton bud to remove the excess. I then sanded the surface with sanding sticks, then some really fine grit sandpaper and finally burnished it with my nail. I find a soft bristled toothbrush helps polish the surface too. Here are the results:
It’s impossible to tell how smooth the surface is until it’s been primed. Grey primer really seems to show any imperfections up. That said, I’m very pleased with the results. I was able to fill even the tiny gaps inside the thrusters. The putty sanded well and didn’t seem to shrink much as it dried. I’m not sure if that would be the case with bigger gaps though. I guess green stuff might be a better alternative in that case.
The only niggle was on the underside of the Jump Pack, in the middle, under the vent. I was able to apply the putty just fine, to what was a pretty sizeable gap. But I found it very difficult to sand or scrape away the excess. If I had some of the cotton bubs that end in a hard point that might have worked better.
I won’t be magnetizing the jump packs. I don’t see much point in Assault Marines unless they have them. Eventually, I may decide to upgrade to a Space Marine Bike Squad. I really like the models and they seem like they’d be a solid choice in a game.
So, having completed forty models and various parts I am no closer to my goal of a full battle demi company. This is due to the fact that thirty of the the forty are Ultramarines and the 10 Sauroters are not quite up to the standard I want. That said, I have learned how to assemble, model, convert and paint to a standard I am satisfied with so I’m now ready to tackle the project. So I’ve made a plan.
The first step was to buy the models I need. From ebay sellers I purchased four tactical squads. Two Betrayal at Calth sprues, one Burning of Prospero sprues and a MKVII sprue. I also bought an Assualt Squad sprue. That gives me enough models for 3 10-man tactical squads, 2 5-man Devastator Squads, 1 Assault Squad and a 5-man Command Squad. The Command Squad was put together by kitbashing leftovers from the sprues plus 5 sets of legs from my original Ultramarines Devastators.
The next step is to clip all of the parts off the sprues and group them into individual sets. As I have mentioned before, I want to be as WYSIWYG as possible. So, I will also need to supplement the sprues with parts from my bits box. The goal is to have a small baggy for each model containing each of the bits required to build it. For models like sergeants, this will include all of the weapons options. The leftover bits will go into my bits box.
Next I’ll need to clean up all the parts. I have heard several people mention how good the GW seam scraper is. I can use a knife just fine but it is a little dangerous and there is always the possibility of cutting into the miniature so I might get one. I am also going to get some Vallejo plastic putty for gap filling, particularly on the jump packs.
After that comes the modelling. I like to use sub-assemblies so I won’t be fully assembling my miniatures. I’ll be leaving the backpacks, helmets and arms carrying weapons of the bodies. These will be mounted on skewers for undercoating. I’ll also need to do the magnetization at this stage. Arms for the sergeants and hands for the special weapons guys. I’ll also be drilling all the barrels on all the weapons.
Everything will be primed with a Tamiya undercoat. I am planning to preshade the miniatures by first priming from below in black and then from above in grey. If I can keep subsequent layers thin, I should be able to achieve a decent look. Preshading is subtle but really does add something to the finished product if subcequent layers are thin.
Painting will be done in batches. I have noticed that I tend to get frustrated and sloppy if I paint for too long. What should be a hobby becomes a chore. My satisfaction really depends on a good result so I will be painting in small batches of 5 for miniatures and 10 for sub-assemblies. I am going to limit myself to one batch per session and concentrate on getting the best result possible.
The final step will be basing the models. As I mentioned in a previous post I’ll be using a base stamp and green stuff for basing. With the assault marines I’m planning to use transparent acrylic bases with black painted rims. I haven’t decided what color to paint the rims of the plastic bases but it will probably be black or grey. Everything will then be varnished with two coats of Tamiya Flat Clear.
Daiso is a chain store in Japan. One of the various 100￥ shops that are ubiquitous here. While you certainly get what you pay for, the quality is decent enough and they have everything under one roof. When I got back into the hobby I was able to get everything I needed quickly and cheaply. Perfect for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot, or not sure if they want to yet.
So, what exactly did I get? Well, all the basics:
Rattle cans of paint for priming
Rattle cans of varnish
This meant that the only specialist items I needed were plastic cement and paint. As I learned a little more about painting and modelling I was able to pick up a few more useful items from the same shop:
Sheets of cork (for basing)
Sandpaper (for urban bases)
A year in I would still buy any of those things, bar a couple, again. I think it’s worth paying for a quality varnish spray, I use Tamiya. I also use Tamiya’s grey primer. It’s better quality than a general purpose rattle can, but the ordinary stuff is perfectly acceptable. The drills were fine but investing in a good quality hobby drill like the GW drill, or an electric drill is a good idea. You also need a good quality hobby knife, I use OLFA brand knives. Other than that, why pay more?
So what’s next? Well, I would like to get a razor saw and mitre box. I would like to build some terrain at some point and I am sure they would come in handy. I’d also like a razor saw for converting. At the moment I use a hobby knife and I just can’t get good straight cuts with it.
I really enjoy the modelling part of the hobby. Almost as much as painting. Converting models also helps me to achieve the WYSIWYG theme that I find really satisfying. It can be as simple as drilling out barrels. As involved as magnetizing multiple weapon options or as practical as magnetizing parts for easy storage. A good drill makes all the difference.
The first (set) of drills I bought was from a shop that sells all kinds of cheap household goods. They were Ok for the price. Especially as I didn’t want to invest a lot of money in a hobby up front. I found them a little difficult to use and I subsequently ruined a lot of bolter barrels. So many in fact I actually had to purchase loose bolters from an ebay seller to complete my first Tactical Squad box set. They tended to bend when used and were not sharp enough to really bite into the material.
I then upgraded to a Games Workshop Hobby Drill. The quality was much higher and I was able to get better results. I really like the finish on this tool too. The only problem was that it took a relatively long time to drill, especially if I was constantly changing the drill bits.
I decided to get an electric drill. After a bit of research I learned that bigger is not necessarily better (ahem). If the drill has high torque (spins fast) this can melt plastic. Also, there are a bewildering variety of drills available. Dremels seemed especially popular. I found their website pretty unhelpful though. It seemed a little limited and it was difficult to compare models.
One day, I was killing time in a shop called Tokyu Hands. Each store is a little different. The Shinjuku store has a lot of good hobby stuff. They happened to have several hobby drills. I chose one with variable speed and I also picked up a set of hobby drill bits. It included sanding disks, cutting disks etc. It was very cheap at under 3000￥ all in.
The drill is actually more of a kind of hand router intended for light engraving. Glass and such. It’s powerful enough for plastic and resin without being overpowered. It’s not particularly robust but won’t be seeing any hard use. It has a couple of nice features like a dial for speed giving a lot of fine control. It has a decent sized cable with a plug and socket in the middle that should come apart if I snag the wire on something. The drill bits are easy to change too, although it took me far longer than it should have to work out how (thank you to the wife for that one).
It came in a soft case which, while certainly utilitarian, was not particularly well fitting or elegant. So I store it in Tuppaware. It probably shouldn’t give me so much pleasure but having it neatly stored in a plastic box that matches my other plastic boxes does. That probably means I am some kind of serial killer.
The drill has allowed me to attempt more elaborate conversions. The most useful drill bit so far has been the flat bottom drill bit. Because the bottom of the hole is flat and not rounded, magnets sit a lot better in the hole and you don’t need to drill as deep. This is particularly useful when magnetizing arms to hollow bodies.
I have learned a few things:
Start my making a small guide hole with something sharp
Start smaller than you want and work up
Use a low rpm and work up if needed
Ball ended bits are the best for removing a lot of material
Drill bits can jump around a bit initially if you futz, so be bold
Resin kicks up a lot of dust, so wear a mask
I wear glasses, but if I didn’t, I would definately wear safety glasses
The body of the model is from the Deathwatch: Overkill boxset.
The helmet is from the Betrayal at Calth boxset.
The jump pack is from the Vanguards Veteran set.
The left shoulder pauldron was a custom order from a Shapeways seller.
The backpacks are magnetized using 1 x 3mm rare earth magnets.
The right arm is from the Betrayal at Calth boxset.
The plasma pistol is from the Tactical Squad boxset.
I found converting the backpacks relatively easy. I used two magnets for the backpack and three for the jump pack. I find the easiest method is to drill a hole and glue the first magnet. Usually this is the magnet in the body of the miniature. Next, I put the second magnet on the first and drill the hole in the secondary piece. Then, I apply glue to the second magnet using a cocktail stick. Finally I offer up the secondary piece to the second magnet. When the glue is dry I can pull the pieces and the magnets apart. This way the magnets will sit flush and I am less likely to get the polarity wrong.
The basic scheme is black. I went about it by applying very watered down coats of black over grey primer. Detail which then showed through was either left as it was or picked out in GW Eshin Grey. The armour was then tidied up with Vallejo Game Colour Black.
Armour ~ Vallejo Black (), highlighted with Eshin Grey
Left pauldron ~ Vallejo xxxx ()
Plasma Pistol~ Vallejo Black Metal (71.073), washed with GW Nuln Oil, highlighted with Vallejo Gunmetal Grey (71.065)
Crozius Arcanum ~ Vallejo Brass (), highlighted with Vallejo Gold () and Vallejo Silver()
Leather~ undercoated with Vallejo Cammo Black Brown (), washed with GW Agrax Earthshade and Highlighted with Vallejo Flat Earth () mixed with white.
Book~ Vallejo Hull red (). Washed with GW Carrobourg Crimson and highlighted with Vallejo xxxx ()
Eyes ~ Vallejo xxxx () sheded with GW Agrax Earthshade.
Overall I’m pleased with the result. I particularly like the way the handle of the Crozius Arcanum came out. It looks like soft leather. I regret not spending a bit more time and care on highlighting the wings of the Crozius Arcanum though. I feel I could have done a better job. I’m also not satisfied with the eyes. I have since developed a method I’m happy with, when I was painting this model I couldn’t do anything I was satisfied with so I just did almost solid red.
I have decided to make it a rule not to go back and add anything once a model is varnished. I’d prefer to just try to improve on the next model. In this way I hope to see a solid progression in the quality I can achieve. It’s also motivating to try and get it right the first time. I rushed through the Crozius Arcanum because I was tired and wanted to get it finished. I would have been better off simply stopping and picking it up another day. It’s a hobby after all and should be relaxing not stressful.
You’ll notice that it is not based yet. I am not planning to base anything until the whole army is finished. I want to try an achieve a consistent look and I really haven’t decided how they’ll be based yet.
Also, I haven’t painted the detail he is standing on. Partly this is because I haven’t decided on a basing scheme but mainly because I will probably cut this piece away. I want to have a base where he is running up stairs. This should give a more dynamic look. Especially with the jump pack attached. It will also break the monotony of all the HQ choices having one leg up on something.