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Sunday, October 24th, 2010
2:18 PM
So I've been a bit lax on the updates, mostly because in between working on hobby stuff I've been:
Out to Seattle and back
Down to New York City and back
Throwing a birthday weekend for my awesome girlfriend

Here's a quick summary of progress I've made:

Helmet:  Some material gathered, nothing solid yet.
Armor:  Dress form constructed, newspaper template in progress.
Uniform:  BDU's dyed, other miscellaneous items acquired.
Weapons:  Nerf Longshot and Maverick COMPLETED (except for optional bits)
Backpack: Still mostly vapor-ware.

Nerf Longshot:

I started (as usual) by dismanteling it and then sanding down the Nerf logos.  The parts were primed with Krylon gray spray paint.  I also removed the pistol grip/trigger from the front barrel extension.  But before I could start painting there were two small things I needed to correct and one tiny addition.

First, for some reason, the top of the detachable part at the front is open and looks a bit unfinished.

Unseemly gap's gotta go.

 So I made a quick slated cover to fit.  I first traced the dimensions of the opening onto a bit of poster paper, then measured out angled slats (in can see the template beneath the gun in the photo above). This pattern was then transferred to a piece of plasticard and cut out.

Here's the cover in place, albeit, temporarily.

The second adjustment to make before painting was to close up the insides of the bipod legs.  Just like the barrel cover, I first traced a pattern onto poster paper, cut it out, test fit it, then transferred that to plasticard.

The last change to be made was adding connection points for a rifle strap that I would add later.  I picked two locations, one on the front extension piece, the other on the bottom of the pistol grip. There, I drilled out holes large enough to fit drywall anchors.

After these modifications were done, it was finally time to begin painting the beast.

Here's a quick breakdown of my painting procedures (GW = Gamesworkshop paints, P3 = Privateer Press):

Red (main body parts):
1) Base-coat with 50/50 P3 Khador Red Base and P3 Sanguine Base.
2) Heavy wash with 50/50 GW Devlan Mud and GW Baal Red.
3) Highlight with P3 Khador Red Base

Brushed Metal (secondary body parts):
1) Base with 50/50 GW Chaos Black and P3 Greatcoat Grey.
2) Dry brush with GW Boltgun Metal.
3) Wash with GW Badab Black.
4) Highlight with GW Mithril Silver.

Here's a shot of the wash drying on the red body sections.

Gunmetal (barrels, some details):
1) Base with GW Boltgun Metal.
2) Wash with GW Badab Black.
3) Highlight / Drybrush with GW Mithril Silver.

Brass (nuts & bolts,piping):
1) Base with 50/50 GW Scorched Brown and GW Shining Gold
2) GW Shining Gold
3) GW Burnished Gold
4) Highlight / Drybrush with 50/50 GW Burnished Gold and GW MIthril Silver
5) Wash with GW Ogryn Flesh.

Black (grips):
1) Base with GW Chaos Black
2) Midtone 50/50 GW Chaos Black and P3 Coal Black
3) Highlight with previous mix and just a touch of P3 Menoth White Base.

1) Multiple coats (atleast 3) of clear matte acrylic sealer.
3) 2 - 3 Coats of Future Floor Acrylic (glossy) to the red bod parts.

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted most of the in-progress shots I had of these steps (grr...) but here's a close up of the front segment that illustrates most of them:

The barrel and brass couplings were painted first, then the finished parts were assembled.

I also added a few brass etched Inquisitorial emblems to add a bit of detail and cover up some spots where Nerf logos had been removed.

The last part I tackled was the scope.  I had read online that it was relatively easy to simply pull off the plastic end caps to dismantle the scope... well, those are lies.  I had to chop the larger cap at the front into about 8 pieces to get it off.  I did all of this so I could tint the lenses of the scope green.

Green? Yes.  Transparent? Not so much.

In a small plastic container I mixed some Future Floor Acrylic with GW Thraka Green wash.  I then dipped the clear plastic lenses into them, about 3 times.  I would have rather used food coloring, but we were out, so I settled on the wash.  Unfortunately, the wash proved to be a bit too opaque and while the lenses are nice and green, they're not so functional any more (not that it was a functional scope to begin with).

With the scope completed, all that was left was to add the rifle sling.  Using the holes I had drilled earlier, I pushed in dry-wall anchors and secured them with a quick-setting epoxy.  After it was set (but not completely dry) I simply screwed the sling anchors into the drywall anchors.  I finished them off by sealing the outside with left over epoxy.

And voila, the finished product:

And oh yea, did I mention I completed a matching Maverick as a side-arm?

I think they go quite well together, don't you?

Until next time, space cowboys.

Thursday, September 16th, 2010
10:24 AM
With the my "Get-My-Lazy-Ass-in-Gear-and-Finish-My-Space-Wolves" project nearing completion, I started thinking about what my next long term project might be.  My mind immediately went to things outside of 40k minis (or even Warmachine) ... I wanted to do something different, but not just different; I wanted something "wow" worthy.  Something that was ambitious, new to me, and that could rightfully be called "crazy" by most normal people.

My first thought was to try and scratch build a Warhound Titan.

Ambitious? check.

Certainly not a bad idea, given the objectives.  But two things lead me away from starting this now (I'm fairly certain I'll eventually get to building one).  First, while I've not really scratch-built an entire model before, the skill set I'd be developing would still be about the same as working with traditional 40k minis.  Secondly, while the scale of this project is comparatively massive (it would stand almost a foot tall) and the detail required to make it look good is daunting, it wasn't really big enough.

That's when it hit me, that long dormant idea that I finally have the time, money, and space to work on...  and it fit all my criteria perfectly; it's ambitious, entirely new to me, and is something that even most wargamers shy away from:  cosplay.  But not just any cosplay... a 40k cosplay.

When I first started going to cons ("conventions" to the uninitiated or uninterested), I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed by some of the costumes I saw people make.  I always thought, "could I make something that cool*?"  (*relatively, of course)  Well, I finally have the chance to find out.

Now the only question was: what/who do I try to make a costume of?  Immediately, I discounted the idea of trying to make full power armor.  I may be crazy, but I'm not insane, and trying something like that right off the bat just seemed like dooming myself to failure.  Which is not to say it's impossible to do:

I would literally not know where to start.

It didn't take long for me to settle on something that would look cool, but still be possible (largely because it's not a genetically enhanced super human).  Ladies and gents, meet the Kasrkin Stormtrooper:

These guys would definitely rank in the top 5 "fan favorites" of 40k models/units.  And better yet, while their armor and uniform is visually striking, it's more because of it's gestalt and less because the complexity of individual parts.

Thanks to a 5-hour Energy fueled all-nighter (accidentally... those things don't mess around), I immediately started throwing together ideas.

First, as you can tell from the pictures above, there's some variation in interpretations- So I decided to default to the actual model (middle) for reference wherever possible.  Also, I decided to go with a slight variation.  Instead of doing an Imperial Guard Kasrkin, I'd do an Inquisitorial Stormtrooper:

Wish I could say I painted this.

IST's are basically the same as Kasrkins, except they work for the Inquisition, which really just makes them more bad-ass.  Also, while I've found a few Kasrkin cosplays, I've yet to find any examples of an IST one.

Organizationally, I've broken this down into a number of mini-projects:

So there it is.  Five projects that will combine like VOLTRON to form an uber-project that will definitely challenge me.  I can only hope it will look good enough to justify the time and expense.

Wednesday, September 08th, 2010
10:25 AM
There are ostensibly 3 things you need for any hobby: time, money, and space.  There's really only so much you can do about time, and money... well, money is a bit beyond the scope of this blog.  Space, on the other hand, is something we can totally do about.

I recently had the pleasure of moving and one of my considerations (obviously - duh) was where I could practice my worship of the Omnissiah totally normal hobby.  When I first saw the apartment, I immediatly picked this little closet out as a strong possibility:

Not much to see right now, but she's got potential!

It's got great natural light and ventilation from the window.  It also has a power outlet (off camera to the right).  And it was only being used for storing a few odds and ends that could easily go elsewhere.  There were, however, a few problems.  First, the radiator blocks the space any four legged work bench would need to stand.  Secondly, (and absent from the only "before" photo I thought to take) there's an awkward built in coat rack type thing embedded in the wall to the right.  I say awkward because it included a bottom panel that was about 3 inches off the floor and about 11 inches deep (not much to stand a shelving unit on).

So, my first task was to install a working surface above the radiator.  I was originally considering a hollow core door cut to fit, but cutting it down to size would have been a bit of a tricky proposition as Home Depot wouldn't do it for me and I lack any convenient access to a table saw.  Instead, I went with a sheet of MDF board which I had cut, then painted myself.  To support this I installed two corner braces and two L-brackets.  The prepared MDF board then fit nicely on top of these.

Most exciting photos ever on PSG.

After this was done, I turned my attention to the coat rack.  I cleaned out the junk that had accumulated in it and after some light demolitions work (courtesy of my (new) apartment-mate Sean) and a trip to our local Container Store - I had a nice functional shelving unit.

You can see where the (now empty) coat rack buttress used to be in the upper left

I'd like to put a kind word in here for the Container Store.  While their prices aren't exactly budget, the result was well worth it and their staff was super helpful in picking the right pieces to fit my needs - It even has room for my mini-Black Library on top!

In case you're wondering, my organizational scheme is as follows: Bottom space - two plastic bins for sheets of sprue; Bottom shelf - model boxes; Middle shelf - hobby supplies, bits and paint; Top shelf - WiP space (currently empty as the stuff that would usually go here is still packed at the moment).

The work desk got some finishing touches and I hung a white board and tack board on the wall and voila - here we have one perfectly functional hobby nook.

Missing: One drafting chair, which is supposedly arriving soon

Things I learned:
  • Find your chair first, then figuer out the height of your work surface - I didn't and had to look a little harder to find a chair to match.

  • If you paint MDF (or any surface you intend to set things on, really) with vinyl based paint - seal it with a couple of coats of clear acrylic, otherwise things will stick to it with the smallest amount of humidity.

  • The right combination of shelves and bins can go a long way towards organizing your workspace

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
7:41 AM
When I first started 40k, I'll admit, I dismissed combi-weapons.  To me, a one-shot weapon seemed unreliable, and a waste of points.  But as I played more, I learned that many times, all you need is one shot at the right time and in the right place.  My current 1850 Space Wolves list includes 14 combi weapons:  6 combi-flamers, 6 combi-meltas, and 2 combi-plasmas.  I've gotten used to making the best of them, and I've never regretted paying points for them - the only downside to including them were their physical rarity.

In GW's infinite wisdom, combi-weapons are hard (or impossible) to simply buy.  You can get a single combi-melta and plasma in the "Space Marine Commander" box that GW sells for $20 ($17 on most online shops) or you can buy the single bits for $10/$5 respectively (pretty harsh if you want to include 6 combi-meltas...)  The combi-flamer simply doesn't exist as a GW bit.

Besides the price issues, there's also the issue of their design.  I'm just not a fan.  To me, a one-use weapon should have the one-use part bellow the main weapon.  I'm pretty much thinking of the how the M203 grenade launcher clips onto an M16:

Superfluous caption!

To me, this just makes since, the main weapon is dominant on top, while the one shot part is under-slung.  GW, however, has mixed feelings on this design note:

So now that we're clear on why I decided to make my own combi's, let's get onto the how.  Thanks to the old-school Space-Wolf sprue, I was sitting on plenty of plastic meltas, so it made sense to start there

I started by dissecting the plastic melta into it's components: barrel, foregrip, and tank.  I also made sure to preserve the cable - you never know when you might need something like this.  I did the same to the bolter, removing the fore grip and barrel.

This is by far the trickiest and most time consuming step, as you've got to be careful not to damage (or lose) any of the parts you're trying to harvest.  After this it's just putting things back together:

I also cut the foregrip down a bit to be flush with the bolter and rounded the edge of it off with a file.  Next up were the barrels:

And voila!  There you have it.  Once you get used to dissecting stuff with an exacto, it doesn't take too much to throw these together.  I've also applied this method to combi plasmas and flamers.  Here are the finished products of each type as wielded by my Deathwatch kill team:

Hey, this guy looks familiar...

Plasma pistols are perfect to use in this method.

Combi-flamer with stormbolter style magazine.

Wednesday, July 07th, 2010
9:24 AM
Every now and then, I like to shake things up a bit.  So when my friend Jess told me she was making a steampunk costume for a wedding she'd be attending (you can see her progress over at Project Fancy) I used that as an excuse to start a project I'd had in the back of my head for awhile: creating a steampunk nerf gun.

I started with the humble, but very capable Nerf Maverick:

There are far worse things to spend $10 on.

I started by shaving off the Nerf logos, flavor text and, of course, the warning that said something about not modifying the gun.  Then I disassembled it and carefully saved all the screws and springs.

A simple layout and easy access make this a favorite among Nerf modders.

I didn't muck with the internals all that much.  The only thing I did was clip off two restricters that keep the cylinder from popping out as far as you'd expect it to (called a Russian Roulette mod).

Before I could start painting it though, I wanted to add some physical details to decorate the gun.  I used some jewelry parts bought at a crafts store to replace the "N-Strike" shield near the barrel.

While Jess didn't specifically ask for flowers I thought these looked to good to pass up.

As for the slide, well, I wanted that to be a bit personalized.  I spoke to Jess and she told me if she could pick a personal symbol it would be either koi (Japanese carp) or the Sun.  I toyed with both ideas, but finally settled on using Koi when I found this tattoo design through Google:

Wonder if anyone would ever get a regular carp tattoo?

I printed the image out and used it to cut out four koi shaped bits out of plasticard.  I then used greenstuff to shape the fins after they were glued onto the slide.

Perhaps I should have used plasticard for the fins?

After this was done, I started base coating the gun.  I broke the pieces out into two groups:  The main body would be gunmetal, while the cylinder, barrel and slide would be brass / gold.  I used metallic spray paint that was formulated for hard plastics to make sure it bonded well.

Actual colors used were brass and nickel.

I wasn't quiet happy with the nickle color, so I gave it a thin coat of Boltgun Metal to darken it up a bit.  After that I washed the body with Badab Black and the other parts with Ogryn Flesh and Devlan Mud. I also gave the grip a base coat of a 50/50 mix of Scorched Brown and Red Gore to approximate wood.  The trick to washing something this large seems to be to not over-think it.  You want the wash to appear natural, not planned - so I just slapped it on.

First time I had the gun back together - and it still worked!

The next step was to give the metallics a final highlight using Rub-n-Buff - a wonderful metallic paste that's great for making metal look worn or polished.

Rub-n-Buff silver and gold were applied to all the edges.

Next, I added a wood-grain pattern to the wood grip using a dark mix of the same base coat.  I than finished it with a dry-brushed high-light to simulate wear and tear and a (very light) brown wash to blend it all together a bit.

Before and after adding the grain.

The final detail to paint were the koi on the slides.  One would be a glossy black (I was imagining obsidian) and the other would be an orange gem (vaguely amber).  Using my experience from painting gems and lenses on 40k minis, I tried my best to guess how such a complex gem would shine.  I think I did ok, though I added perhaps too much white.  I also quickly added a few Japanese characters for "sun" and "water" (at least that's what they're supposed to be) just above the pistol grip. 

After this, the whole gun was given a few coats of matte finish, then individual parts like the grip and the koi gems were finished with Future Floor Acrylic (wonderful stuff, by the way).  Here are shots of the finished product:

The whole shabang.

The grip after it's been finished with a few gloss coats.

Demonstrating the "Russian Roulette" mod.

Overall, the project took me about a week of off-time work (not so bad really).  I think Jess will be pleased with it, and I definitely had fun making it;  So much in fact, that I've got some ideas for other color schemes (and I do have 3 more Mavericks).

See ya, Space Cowboy...

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