Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A place to call their own

I finished my last post with mention of a huge project that I've been toying with for years. The idea grew from looking at cool pictures of Necromunda and Inquisitor games and also from reading some of the Black Library novels where the settings are sometimes more than just faceless battlefields. I decided if I ever had the space (and time) it would be exciting to build a small section of a 40K Imperial city. That's not to say it wouldn't be a battlefield too, but it would want to look at least a little like it could exist as an actual, working city. That meant I would want to include not just a few ruined buildings, but whole city-blocks with walkways, landing pads, pipes, storage tanks, street furniture and all the other paraphernalia that you often see in projects of this nature. 

But why stop there? Wouldn't it also be appropriate to include a handful of inhabitants and their vehicles? The Imperial Denizens in the previous post were my first stab at this. The theory being that if you were playing something like Necromunda or 28mm Inquisitor (Inq28) you could write rules for non-player-characters accidentally wandering into your game (or line of fire) and forcing a rethink. Perhaps you find a brace of automated gun-servitors standing between you and your objective, or an innocent bystander blocks your sniper at the crucial moment. Would you shoot anyway? Ahem, of course not.

There would be a few other considerations to take into account:

1) The city must be unique, so it would have to include large swathes of scratch built material. This would also help keep my costs down.

2) It should be partially modular, so it could be reconfigured to represent different locations. This should also make it easier to construct as it would be done in different sections.

3) If possible I'd like to have a lower-tech zone where I could integrate some of the stone and brick terrain I've already built for my Warhammer Fantasy Chaos Warriors. This might introduce a steam-punk aesthetic, with its mixture of anachronistic technologies, and maybe even 
make the whole thing feel a bit like a sci-fi version of Batman's Gotham City.

Initial drawings and ideas. Does it come in black?

4) And finally any good modelling project deserves a bit of backstory. Where is this city? What is it called? Why does it look the way it does? More on that in the next post.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Who does all the work around here?

While I'm waiting for the bits to turn up for my Arbites project I thought I'd post some other miniatures. These are characters I started ages ago, but have only just managed to get some paint on last week.

About six years ago, after reading some Black Library stuff set in the 40K universe, or perhaps the 30K one, I was struck by the idea that the bulk of life in the Imperium isn't represented by any official models. Obviously, with 40K being a game about armies clashing, all the models for it will be military or at least fulfilling some kind of combat role. I mean your regular Joe Citizen wouldn't last a second against most of the horrors that slug it out on the average tabletop battlefield:

• Administratum clerk versus Tyranid Lictor

• Small child versus Ork Stormboy
• House servitor versus Dark Eldar Talos
• Construction crew versus The Gal Vorbak

Most of those would be pretty quick fights, and probably not very nice viewing, so it's no wonder that models don't exist for mere civilians. But given the outlandish nature of everything 40K, I started to wonder what these street level denizens might look like. And, me being me, I immediately started looking for shortcuts. What other manufacturers might make models that look like that, and what parts have I already got lying around that might help me?

The initial project became the challenge of making ten or so servitors that might fulfil roles in a city. Some could therefore be armed - private security, close-protection models for example - but many had to have no combat capabilities. 

While I was building these I also realised that some Imperial citizens may be hard to distinguish from your average servitor. An old man with rusty grafts or prosthetics from his days in the Guard, who lives in the squalor of some awful hive city, rarely getting any sunlight, or a lowly Mechanicum adept, with their initial implants beginning to adapt and augment their body; these kind of characters probably look exactly like servitors. So the boundaries blurred, and by the time I'd finished the first few models I wasn't sure what the hell I'd actually built.

Imperial servitors or Imperial citizens? Let's just call them denizens

There's a second batch, but they're only undercoated and probably won't photograph well, so I won't stick 'em up here until I've got some colour on them. The ones shown here ended up using parts from a variety of places. There are plenty of other model manufacturers out there, many of whom are small independent companies, and although the parts might not always be of the same quality as GW, they are often easier to get hold of, or closer to what I'm looking for. And besides, it's good to support the little guy - if freaks like me aren't buying from them, then who is?

So in the photo above, on top of the GW pieces and general junk from my bits box there are parts or models from Ramshackle Games, Warmachine, Micro Art Studio's Iron Brotherhood, Rackham's Confrontation and Pig Iron Productions.

But by the time I'd finished building these, a much larger project had started to form itself in my mind. A huge project, years of work, with an almost unlimited number of modelling opportunities. So much so that I could never get bored. But also, highly likely that I'd never get anywhere near achieving it. I'll have to write more about that later.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Judge, jury and Executioner Heads

Following on from my earlier post about making Mega-City One Judges to represent Adeptus Arbites Enforcers, I wanted to quickly share this photo. It's of some Executioner Heads that PuppetsWar sent me a few months back.

If you're not familiar with PuppetsWar yet, they're a Polish firm that have a huge collection of beautiful resin parts and models. Check-out their website here. Go on, I promise you it's time well wasted. 

The heads look great and the casting shouldn't require much cleaning up. The whole lot will hopefully only take a few minutes.

What I really love about these is that they don't just capture the Judge's helmet shape (albeit using something more like the design from the Stallone film, without the X in front of the eyes) but also a variety of tough, bully-boy facial expressions. Perfect for intimidating the innocent civilians of any future metropolis.

Tough bully boy, wearing figure-hugging lycra

My only concern is that there could be some scale problems when combined with Games Workshop plastic kits. My worry is that they might be a touch too small, but I'm really hoping to be proven wrong. I haven't got any of the GW kits in question yet, so only time will tell.

You can buy the heads from PuppetsWar (and see more pictures) here. Just be warned that for me (based in Britain) delivery times have previously run into several weeks.

Start as you mean to go on

Start as you mean to go on. Wise words. Great words. Maybe even words to live by. But certainly words that I'm about to completely ignore. See, this is the inaugural post on Torva Tenebris, and I really wanted this blog to be about miniatures and conversions from the darkly gothic universe of Warhammer 40,000. I wanted to use the blog to explore and share my clumsy fumblings with the hobby side of WH40K. I was going to try to cover product reviews, tools, techniques, ideas, conversions and anything else of marginally justifiable significance that may happen to cross my deranged and deluded mind.

But instead of starting with some pictures of tiny plastic soldiers, I'm going straight off-topic and talking about the galaxy's greatest comic, 2000AD. Specifically the lawman of the future, Judge Dredd. Even more specifically, the Dredd of the Karl Urban, Pete Travis and Alex Garland film.

Generally Dredd was a good film. But I didn't fall in love with it the way many other fans seemed to. I don't want to go into it now, so perhaps I'll try to explore this in another post at some point in the future, and maybe, while I'm at it, also talk briefly about the film's predecessor, Danny Cannon's Judge Dredd starring Sly Stallone. 

What I do want to say right now, is that just like every other 2000AD fanboy, I was very upset that Dredd didn't make enough money to get the sequel we were hoping for. And that brings me to why I'm starting this 40K blog with a post about 2000AD. Although the film never got it's sequel - or at least hasn't got its sequel at the time of writing (I live in hope) -  the story has managed to continue in a couple of spin-off comic book sequels. Sequels which have now been collected together in the hardback graphic novel Dredd: Urban Warfare.

The sequel comics are set in what seems to be a slightly lower-tech Mega-City One than the original strip, with a more brutal, realistic edge. This is clearly following the lead set by the film  - where the decision to make the city less extravagant came about partly to keep costs down, and partly to trickle feed new audiences into Joe Dredd's crazy world through more familiar surroundings. The idea being, as I understood it, that as the movie sequels moved outside the Peach Trees habitation block they would have introduced the more outlandish elements of life in the future metropolis (and beyond).

The graphic novel contains 3 stories. The short prequel On Top Of The World, Ma-Ma, written by Matt Smith and illustrated by Henry Flint and Chris Blythe; the first sequel Underbelly, written by Arthur Wyatt and again illustrated by Henry Flint and Chris Blythe; and the second sequel Uprise, written by Arthur Wyatt, but this time illustrated by Paul Davidson and Chris Blythe. They all look great, but special mention has to go to Henry Flint. The man can do no wrong. He somehow seems to reference the styles of all the best 2000AD artists (or art droids) to have ever graced a page with their ink since the comic's first appearance in the 70s, yet still manage to make his work look both fresh and unique.

And one of the things he does particularly well is the Judges' uniforms. 

The Dredd movie took the uniforms from the comic and applied a bit of Batman Begins thought process to the whole ensemble, actually going back to the comic's roots in the process.

Early Dredd was based on a cross between a bike cop and an executioner

Gone were the giant shoulder pads of latter-day Dredd (Alex Garland said the huge, metallic eagle would have kept catching on curtains - with trails of fabric following Judges around wherever they went), and in came tighter pads - looking like a cross between biker gear and body armour. The holster was moved up the thigh to make the lawgiver easier to reach, and the skin-tight onesie was turned to leather - again like a biker - with more body armour liberally added to finish the whole thing off. In my opinion the finished look was the best incarnation of a Judge we've ever had. Lots of fans complained the helmets looked a little too big, but in Henry Flint's graphic interpretation there is definitely no such issue.

Where that's left me, after the last few days spent reading this comic, is with a burning desire to start a new hobby project.

When 40K was still in its infancy it took ideas from existing sci-fi and incorporated them into its own grim, dark mythology. Like a Tyranid hive fleet consuming everything in its path, Warhammer 40,000 subsumed the giant robots of Battletech and Japanese Manga and spat them back out as Titans. It looked at Dune, and came up with the God Emperor, and the sprawling Imperium, it took the power-armoured armies of classic military science fiction (like Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers), combined them with the silhouette of Games Workshop's own fantasy Chaos Warriors and the Space Marines were born. And it clearly saw the Judges of Mega-City One as inspiration for the Adeptus Arbites. Anyone can see that arbites is pretty much arbiter, which is just another word for judge.

So all of that preamble is a long-winded, round-about way of saying that my first project on this blog will be to try to build some Adeptus Arbites Enforcers, based on the excellent, new-look judges of Alex Garland, Pete Travis, Henry Flint and the rest. Watch this space.