Raagh! (Or a Shining Spear Exarch)

shining exarch FL

This guy took me a lot longer than I had hoped, partly because I went a bit overboard with the conversion. I won the Dark Elf War Hydra tail in a painting contest at my local GW a few months back. The prize was three bits from the box and as soon as I saw the tail I knew what I wanted to do with it. It took a fair bit of effort to get it to fit on a Cold One model and I didn’t entirely succeed but it makes for a larger (much larger) and more powerful looking mount for what (unless he gets a promotion) is currently my Shining Spears Exarch for my dinosaur riding Exodites. I had to extend the neck of the Cold One with some green stuff in order to balance the model. The rider himself has Dark Elf Cold One Knight’s legs (I broke the Shining Spears ones), a Shining Spear torso and sword arm, a Dark Eldar Hellion head and an Eldar Guardian left arm.

shining exarch neck tail

The feathered cloak is green stuff and was built by using a sharp modelling tool to rip and cut into soft green stuff to make a feathering effect layer by layer from the outside in on top of the basic cloak base. Sorry for the quality of the photos of the unpainted model. I obviously can’t go back and take better ones and I didn’t realise just how bad they were at the time!

shining exarch green stuff

I used the same paint scheme as for my other Shining Spear so I won’t go over it again. For the cloak I started with Kantor Blue, washing with Drakenhof Nightshade and highlighting with Macragge Blue, Hawk Turquoise (Sotek Green), Ice Blue (Lothern Blue), Space Wolves Grey (Fenrisian Grey) and Skull White (White Scar).

shining exarch side

shining exarch BR

I based the model using a piece of cardboard tube from a roll of clingfilm for the skeleton of my tree chunk with a crushed cinnamon stick as bark. I used Middenland Tufts for the longgrass and liberal amounts of Lustrian Undergrowth and Agrellan Earth to add texture. The spider came from the Deathworld’s basing kit. I love the new Nurgle’s Rot paint and I used a fair bit to add slime to the model, particularly as my water effects stuff has dried up.

shining exarch FR

shining exarch F

Anyhow, that’s one more model done for my Exodites. I’m going to paint a few marines next I think for a change of pace!


Exodite Shining Spear

I took a decisive step forward with my Eldar Exodites and built and painted my first Shining Spear. I love the cover of Promethean Sun and the dinosaur riding Eldar on the front and so I’ve used that idea for my Shining Spears.

shining spear 1 front

I used the Dark Elf Cold Ones Knights kit for the mount and the head. The rest of the model was from the Shining Spear upgrade kit.

I removed the head from the Shining Spear model and the controls from the left hand. I have to admit that I was glad that the model was Finecast (shocking I know!). The soft resin is much easier to cut than plastic or metal and I could adjust how the rider sat on the dinosaur with judicious blasts of the hairdryer! I can cope with bubbles and flash if I can save several days of work elsewhere!

shining spear 1 left

I used green stuff to bring the neck and torso together and for the scrap of hide on the left shoulder.

For the base I used some scraps of cinnamon sticks from and old packet in my kitchen for the logs and some bits of a fake plant for the leaves. Once I had painted the model I used Water Effects mixed with either Devlan Mud, Guilliman Blue + Waywatcher Green or Waywatcher Green for the more liquid parts of the base and some Middenland Tufts for the clumps of grass.

shining spear 1 back

I’m using autumn colours on this army so, having painted the dinosaur green, I used reds and oranges on the model. I wanted to make the Shining Spears a bit different from the Rangers, so I used the orange to break up the red.

shining spear 1 right

I need to build the rest of these guys now and finish the Rangers. While the Shining Spear was great fun to paint (even if the scales were a bit wearing after a while) he took more than a day to build so I guess that it will take me some time to do the other three. Still, this project isn’t so much about speed but about building and converting an army that is a bit different and which allows me to be a little bit creative.


The Joy of Kitbash part 4: Reposing Limbs

For the penultimate part of this series, I’m going to look at something a bit more complex, reposing limbs. It’s something that I’ve done a few times and it can be very, very frustrating. On the other hand, it gives a unique pose. I have to admit that the example shown here was not my most successful attempt, I used Tactical Marine legs (as that’s what I’ve got at the moment) rather than the running legs available in the Space Wolves Pack kit, and not only is the Tac Marine pose a bit weird it’s a bit of a nightmare to repose as I had to adjust the ankle as well as the knee and hip joints. I suppose that my first bit of advice then is to try to pick a limb (or set of limbs) that is as close in shape to the final pose as possible.

The second thing to look at is the material from which the limb is made. Oddly enough, given its reputation, Finecast is easier to work with than plastic in this case as limited reposing can be done using a hairdryer. All you need to do is heat the limb for about thirty seconds (hairdryers vary so I’d recommend heating then testing every few seconds) before gently bending them to the right shape. I had to repose a set of Shining Spear legs this weekend and it took seconds in order to pose them. If they had been plastic it would either have relied on judicious shaving of limbs and mount or several hours with wire and scalpel and if they had been metal, well, I’d probably have ended up sitting on the floor rocking back and fore trying to figure out how to jam them together.

For this article I’m going to start with reposing legs. I’ve done this a few times now (well, at least four) and it’s fairly straightforward, it just requires a bit of work, some planning and a lot of patience. As I play a Space Marine variant army I’m going to use Marine legs to do this. It should also be possible to do something similar with other races but you’ll need to think about how you’ll model the joints as power armour has convenient corrugated bits at the joints (can’t think of the proper name for them right now). You will need:

  • a set of Tactical Marine legs. Other variants are fine. In fact it’s probably easier to use running legs as I did for my Rune Priest and this Swiftclaw.

unposed legs

  • Green stuff
  • Some fairly stiff wire (~1mm in diameter)
  • A scalpel
  • modelling tool with a pointy end
  • file
  • wire clippers
  • drill bit (slightly wider in diameter than the wire)
  • Super Glue
  • A plaster/bandaid (at least if you’re me)

The first job is to stop and think. I’m serious, honest! Before you cut anything you need to consider what pose you’re planning and how you’re going to do it. Are you just shifting one knee so that the guy is striking a heroic pose or are you going to have to move every joint? Is the pose anatomically possible? I have been known to try and pose heroically on a chair to try and figure out what I’m about to do. Fortunately my boyfriend hasn’t taken any photos as I don’t do heroic particularly well!

The next job is to cut up the set of legs. I use a scalpel rather than a razor saw as it removes less material (if somewhat more finger). If you’re going to be doing a lot of joints, you may want to label them.

reposed legs cut up

Then you need to drill through the cut up pieces. If a piece needs connecting at both ends (such as the thighs of the example), drill all the way through, otherwise drill deep enough into the plastic to hold the wire securely just as you would when pinning.

Then thread the wire through, gluing it in place. Leave enough space at the joints so that you keep the model’s proportions once it is posed. Using wire lets you repose the model a bit, so that you can get it just right.

reposed legs wired

Next up, you need to use green stuff to fill in the joints and tidy up any mess you made when cutting up the model, such as with the ankles on the example legs, which had to be dug out rather than cut cleanly. Please take your time when doing this. Do one joint at a time and wait for it to be set before starting the next one. I’m serious. If you store mixed together green stuff in the freezer it will stay soft for about a day and a half. Simply warm it in your hands for a minute or so before using.

reposed legs greenstuffed

File or sand any rough edges and your reposed legs should be ready to use. I’ve used the same technique to repose arms too.

reposed legs and arms

A simpler way to repose arms is to play with how the limb connects to the body. You can trim and file the joint before filling in any gaps with green stuff. It’s much simpler than making a new joint but is only really suitable if you just want to tweak a pose slightly.

reposed bloodclaw

There’ll be one last post in this series but I need to find the bits, something which is turning out to be harder than I thought.


Duel Time

So this is the reason I’ve been a little bit quiet recently. I entered The Fang painting competition, which is the Games Workshop painting competition for Northern Europe (they’ve killed the link to it unfortunately). I built a duel and, due to there only being two entries in that category in my local store (Den Haag), I got through to the final which was in Amsterdam. So I dragged my boyfriend to Amsterdam yesterday for the finals. My duel didn’t get anything, which I was pretty much what I had expected, as I’m a fairly novice painter still (it’s been less than two years since I first picked up a paintbrush and started hobbying) and there were some really awesome models in the category (I think the other duel from my local store got a prize). Still, it’s experience and the scene was pretty good fun to make.

So, here it is. I wanted to give it a bit of a narrative, a reason for the duel. It’s supposed to be the end of the chase and the only way out for either side is the death of the other.

duel 1

duel 2

duel 3

duel 4

duel 5

duel 3

The Night Lord is the Aspiring Champion model. I removed the knife and reposed the arm, before building the severed head using a head from the Space Wolf pack box. I shaved the hair off with a scalpel and removed the bottom, before adding the flaps of skin and the exposed bit of bone and the replacement hair using green stuff. I added the tentacles and the scraps of cloth and parchment using green stuff, partly to hid the fact that the shoulder pad turned out to be not poseable.

Night Lord front


For his opponent I used a Tactical Marine with Death Company running legs with the Blood Angels insignia removed. For his dead buddy I used Tac Marine bits and biker arms. I built the bottom of the spike first round a pinning rod. I pinned the model in place and then built the top of the spike and the ripped armour using green stuff and I also used green stuff for the stump. The blood is mostly just Blood Red and Red Gore (Evil Sunz Scarlet and Wazdakka Red) with a spot of Trollslayer orange and a lot of Bloodletter Glaze. I then used a little more of the glaze mixed with water effects to make it look more liquid.

duel 6

duel 7

I built the base round cardboard tubes and plasticard. I used Milliput rather than green stuff as the latter is not really suitable for building at this scale. The elasticity of green stuff, which is what makes it great for fine details really works against it here as it’s harder to get flat, smooth surfaces in-situ. The base itself is a large oval base from Games Workshop and I used Middenland Tufts for the grass. I used water effects for the water (surprisingly).

duel 8

I hope that you enjoy this model as much as I enjoyed building it! If you get the chance to see pictures of the winning entries in The Fang competition, please do, as there were some absolutely amazing models there (and I’m still green with envy at some of the great paint jobs).


The Joy of Kitbash part1: Originality and Necessity

Now I have to admit that I love kitbashing. I like my models to be unique, which is fairly straightforward with Space Wolves. If I want certain units: Swift Claws, Long Fangs etc. then it’s also necessary.

Coots, the Kitbashers of the bird world sometimes get a bit carried away with adding more and unusual bits to their nests!

Coots, the Kitbashers of the bird world sometimes get a bit carried away with adding more and unusual bits to their nests!

The big advantage with making individual Space Wolves compared to Tactical Marines is in the kits. The Space Wolves pack has a wider range of poses for legs, a large choice of heads and a fair amount of choice in weapons and accessories. I bought a Tac Marine box the other day and I was rather shocked to realise that the legs all have the same pose! Of course, it is possible to repose bits and I’ll talk about that in another post, but it’s nice to not have to do so.

Of course, by the third box of guys, there is a risk of them starting to look a bit samey, even with a bits filled kit like the Space Wolf Pack box, this is when kitbashing for originality becomes fun.

In this series of posts I’m going to look at kitbashing both for originality and necessity. Technically there will also be green stuff work involved, so I guess that it’s really conversion rather than kitbashing, but why let accuracy get in the way of a good title! I’m going to look at two cases, both Space Wolves. For originality I am going to look at building troops, Grey Hunters and Blood Claws, whereas for necessity I am going to look at Long Fangs and Swift Claw Bikers.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of kitbashing? Well, I suppose the main advantage is originality. Even a simple head swap can lead to a unique looking miniature, while by playing around a bit you can really customise your models to fit your theme. It’s why I kitbash and it’s also why I like to use freehand. It means that my Space Wolves are not yet more members of Ragnar Blackmane’s Company, they are of Ælfhere Great-Paw’s Great Company, with all the fluff and heraldry that I can think of! The second advantage is that of cost. To buy Ulrik the Slayer or the Rune Priest model from Games Workshop is €16 in Europe, to build one using bits from the Space Wolves Pack kit and a bit of green stuff is around €3 or €4.

The time cost though can be a disadvantage, as a more involved conversion, involving green stuff or reposing can take a considerable amount of time, particularly if you have to wait for things to set. Also, the more detailed and involved the kitbash becomes, the more difficult it becomes, whereas I’ve found that most of the troop-sized models that I’ve built as suggested are fairly straightforward. There is also a risk that parts do not fit together well and bodging or green-stuffing is required to hide an unsightly join. If you’re going for a uniform look, you need to be certain that you have all the bits to make every guy look the same. If one guy in your Ultramarine squad has Death Company legs, while another seems to have borrowed his armour from a Space Wolf, well, things don’t really fit well any more. There’s also a risk that if you go too far the model becomes unrepresentative of the unit type or is no longer game legal: i.e. it is too big or too small or has the wrong type of weapons.

However, while the disadvantages list does seem longer, I think the advantages carry more weight, as most of the disadvantages can be countered by basic planning or experience and hopefully in this series I can show you a few tips and tricks to make kitbashes and conversions a little bit easier.

I’m going to stick to using Games Workshop products in this series. There are plenty of nice conversion bits out there on the web, but if I manage to get a game in it is at a GW store, so I really should try to stick to GW parts. Also, they are fairly easy to get hold of, and I have plenty of bits in my box. Finally, I don’t really have much experience with third party bits, so I feel that I can’t really talk about them.

I guess that I should finally apologise for the lack of posts over the last month. I was preparing a duel for a painting competition (and more about that after next Saturday). I have some free time again now but I was painting and modelling until the day that I entered it so I haven’t really had enough energy to blog, or any time to do much “fun” painting. I am going to try to get back on schedule now and write up a few posts in advance, so I can fill in any gaps, so hopefully I will be back again on Tuesday with another post.


Space Wolves Grey Hunter Standard Bearer

I finished this guy a few weeks back (and entered him in a store competition in which he didn’t do too well) but I never got round to posting him up here.

standard bearer face

He’s a kit bash using parts from the Space Wolves Pack and the Space Wolves upgrade frame, with the horn from the Space Wolves Terminator kit (which was a bit of a nightmare to drill out and file). The standard itself was bashed together using a thunder hammer from the Space Wolves Pack and the pole from the upgrade frame and I used green stuff for the banner itself. The banner didn’t sit as planned, I’d wanted it to be a bit more dynamic, but gravity won out.

standard bearer unpainted

With a piece of freehand as large as the banner I plan (almost) everything in advance. I drew a large scale version of the banner in order to plan everything out.

standard bearer banner design

I then mentally broke everything into layers. I started by painting on the red for the background of the banner, starting with a Mechrite Red (Mephiston Red) base and a Red Gore (Wazdakka Red) layer, using highlights (blends of Red Gore and Blood Red (Evil Sunz Scarlet)) and glazes (Bloodletter) to build up the colour. Next I added the large shapes- the claw marks and the paw print itself.

standard bearer banner basics

I then added the smaller details colour by colour, starting with the wolf in the centre. I then decided that the banner needed something else and so I added the runes and the gold detailing round the claw marks. After washing I then highlighted everything, building up from Red Gore, through Blood Red to Troll Slayer Orange. I was careful to highlight the design, especially the runes, as well as the edges and the background “cloth”.

standard bearer banner

standard bearer back

Anyway, here he is. I hope to finish building and painting the rest of his pack soon (I’ve already posted up three of them unpainted) and use them in a game as I desperately need more troops in my army.


On the ninth day of Christmas the hobby meant to me…

Nine different tools…

Yes, I know that I should have posted this well over a week ago, I got distracted, sorry!

Anyway, today’s post is going to be about tools, namely the tools that I use for modelling. I’ve not included paintbrushes in the list as I don’t use particularly good brushes and I decided to focus on the tools I use for building and converting miniatures.


 1. Clippers

These are actually our second set. When my boyfriend got back into the hobby he bought a set of modelling tools off the internet including a set of plastic clippers. Unfortunately they did not survive me, so I had to buy a new set from Games Workshop. Their tools tend to be a little bit overpriced but the quality is fairly good and I did not have to wait weeks for an internet order to arrive to get them which is a definite bonus when you’re in the middle of a project.

 2. Files

These were part of my boyfriend’s initial set of tools (and still are, I’m only borrowing them, honest). I use the triangular file for most things, but the round one is very useful for gun barrels etc.. I also use, but haven’t included in the picture, finishing abrasives, particularly when I want to smooth down green stuff. The files came from Army Painter originally I think. They’re a must for smoothing edges and removing mould lines. I also use them to shave down surfaces so that I can adjust the pose of a model better.

 3. Tweezers

Another Army Painter purchase, but tweezers are fairly easy to get hold of from craft shops. You can even use the ones from the chemist, but craft ones have better ends to them for modelling purposes.

 4. Razor Saw

Vital if, like me, you chop up models in order to convert them. Clamp the model down first (see 5) and make sure that you cut a guide line in first before you really start sawing.

 5. Vice

This one has a suction pad to hold it to the table (usually). Using a vice means that you can hold a model still particularly if you are cutting or drilling. Some sort of clamp is vital if you plan to do a lot of converting or drill out the barrels on any weapons.

 6. Drill bits

The smallest drill bit in the picture is 1mm in diameter and I use it for drilling out the barrels on my bolt pistols. I use larger ones for bigger gun barrels, for drilling out holes for pinning rods or wires and for removing traces of weapon grips from hands. A pin vice can be used to hold the drill bit in place but I tend to just use the bits loose as I mostly work with plastic.

 7. Scalpel

These are fairly easy to get hold of. I use mine for removing difficult or delicate parts from the sprue, shaving off mould lines, cutting any bits that are too small or awkward for the razor saw, and cutting and shaping green stuff.

 8. Clay tool (scraper?)

I don’t know what this is called and the art shop where I bought it doesn’t have a website. I think that it’s called a clay scraper or kidney. It is very, very useful though. I use it to get a smooth surface on green stuff. I have to use a lot of Vaseline on the tool otherwise it sticks, but I can use it to smooth down flat surfaces such as cloaks and banners. By flattening the green stuff crudely with a flat edged tool or using my scalpel as a rolling pin, I can then smooth green stuff out until it is thinner than 1mm using this tool.

 9. Shaping tools.

These come from a variety of places. The one on the left comes from Games Workshop, the three in the middle come from Army Painter and the one on the right is an embossing tool from a craft shop. They all have roughly the same role though, moulding and cutting and manipulating green stuff.

Anyway, these are most of the tools I use in order to make my figures, the most important ones anyway. Happy converting!


…Eight books to look at…

…Seven days of hobbying…

… Learning sixth edition…

…Fifth Edition!…

…Four more excuses…

…Three things to think of…

Two different opinions

And a gift under the Christmas Tree