Tag Archives: Models

Conventions in Gaming – Aesthetics


In this we life the vast majority of us are blessed to have five senses with which to experience the world around it. If we were to remove Man’s inhumanity to Man then I don’t think that anyone can defy that it is glorious and beautiful, whether you’re a believer in a world created through the cosmic forces of the Big Bang or have a more faith oriented view of things this world is a marvel. The sheer variety and beauty of this Earth is something that I think we all can appreciate, no matter your beliefs it is a gift that we should all treasure.

One of the senses that receives the greatest amount of input during a regular day is, of course, our eyes. We are a visual species, we like to look at things and to see things, we use our eyes for the vast majority of things that we do from day-to-day. However, while we use our eyes for a lot of things we do not see everything in the same way, especially when it comes to aesthetics. When light enters the eyes it passes through all kinds of layers of cells before eventually being sent as a signal to the brain that interprets these images and yet it is interesting that two people can be looking at exactly the same thing and one can love it and one can hate it. Such is the province of our own individual taste.

This is a miniatures wargaming blog primarily and therefore the principle of art and aesthetics is one that is intimately familiar to us, but it is an abstract thing. Quantifying what is and what is not a good model are the subjective of much personal preference and prejudice. Sometimes this can be in the form of not liking an entire companies line of models, whereas in other cases you like some of their stuff and not others. The latter of those two is how I feel about Reaper, they have some gorgeous models that are great for Warhammer characters or for use in D&D, however, some of their stuff is horrid. For me this is about whether the character looks appropriately scaled, does their body shape match something approaching normal, but there are also model lines that take an artistic style and apply that across a range. The greatest proponent of this philosophy that I can think of used to be Rackham. They produced some of the most incredible looking models I have ever seen, despite the fact that they were clearly not done in a style based on reality and I really liked that, the kind of thin almost ethereal way their humanoids were was great and this was offset by characterising the other races too. The Dwarves of Tir-Na-Bor were really squat and solid which showed of their stoic sensibilities, Elves were cast in graceful poses with soft, sweeping lines, it was a really great range.

I know this will be purely subjective but let’s put together what I consider to be a good model against what I consider to be a bad model;

Probably believes the stars in the sky are burning balls of gas too
Much, much better

Now, you can probably guess where I lie on this one. The Pumbaagor is widely regarded by, not just myself, but many people as one of the ugliest models GW has ever produced. In fact there isn’t a lot of love all round for the Beastmen line as a whole. Now, the Rackham Elf on the other hand is a thing of beauty. I still have her sealed in a blister ready for the time I get to sit down and lay on a paint job that I can rightfully be proud of. Both models actually fit with the background of the characters they portray and yet for some reason one is really an awful lump of metal while the other is a masterpiece of the sculptor’s art. It’s not like GW are incapable of producing good models, I mean, take a look at this;

I think this is a fantastic model, again that may just be my opinion, there may be others who hate it. In general I think people are of the opinion that in recent years GW has stepped up their production values, gone are static models and in their place we have flow and movement. Whether this was a natural progression of the sculptors getting better or the increase in competition within their market I do not know. However, if we get better models in larger quantities than I think that this can only be a good thing, just not for my wallet.

It is these kinds of models that challenge us to do our best with them, if the art is as much a part of the hobby as the gaming I think we find a stirring in our hearts to really make the most of the models we get our hands on. I think there are few feelings as good as the satisfaction that comes from really pulling off a decent paintjob on a model that you love. People come into this hobby for different reasons and I know that the art isn’t a consideration for some but I don’t think any of us can turn our noses up at someone who has done a cracking job of painting a model, especially when it fits into a grander army. While many of us never actually achieve that fully painted army those who do are rewarded for their efforts and I am looking forward to having my War of the Ring stuff finished.

So then Internet, what stirs your soul in terms of models? Is there a particular manufacturer that really gets you going, or do you find certain sculptors are only capable of dropping turds?

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Tutorials in Gaming – Glue


Hopefully the “Conventions in Gaming” posts have provided some insight and maybe even a new perspective into just why it is we take for granted certain aspects of our hobby (I’ll admit the Army List one was a little ropey). In order to break from that series and hopefully provide something a little fresh and new I thought I’d kick off a series regarding the more basic aspects of our hobby. Lots of places discuss the hobby but some people really would like a tutorial on how to go about doing certain things, hence this will be the first in a series of How-to articles that will hopefully educate. Any feedback is of course gladly received, we are all still learning after all.

To break the ice I want to take a look at a few fundamentals first, today’s post therefore will be looking very much into one of the first tools you’ll need to use when venturing into the miniatures gaming hobby. Glue.

Now, I could start with taking a model and cleaning it up ready for assembly, but for some reason I feel like I want to discuss this item first before going on to cleaning models and the tools you use there. So, it’s my blog and I’ll blog what I want to, sit down, pull up a chair and get ready for some sticky action.

Sticking Points

You might think that glue is rather mundane and certainly not worth dedicating an entire blog post too, well, in my book you’d be wrong. Things aren’t just as simple as picking up a pot of whatever is lying around and trying to bodge things together (try sticking together a Chaos Greater Daemon with a tube of Pritt-Stik.) There are many more options than you may even have heard about. So, we’ll discuss each one of these and then go onto some other options that you might not even know exist. We’ll discuss strengths and weaknesses but none of this should really be new to you unless you’re just starting out.

Polystyrene Cement

Polycement

Strengths: Cheap, strong bond

Weaknesses: Messy, bulky, difficult to apply

Use on: Plastics

So, our first star is the favourite of anyone that has ever bought, or been bought, an Airfix kit. If you’ve built a model aeroplane then chances are you’ve come across this stuff. Also, if you’re anything like me you’ll find that it is evil incarnate. You’ll really only be able to glue plastics with it as it literally melts the plastic together to form a bond, normally you apply it to both sides of whatever you are glueing and then press them together. There is one problem with using this glue to do that however. Have you ever been about to brush your teeth of an evening and had some kind of unnatural hand spasm that has caused you to apply a little too much pressure to the tube of toothpaste? Only to watch with horror as you catch the far edge of the toothbrush but coat your significant other’s favourite rose-scented, fifty quid a throw, made from seal cubs, moistourising soap and half of the bathroom tiles with a line of red, white and blue Aquafresh? I think we’ve all been there. Imagine doing that with a product that works by heating up the plastic to melt a bond… You can see where I am going with this, it’s not pretty and even when great care is taken the application from the tube is that imprecise that you normally end up with massive glue strings conspiring to form some kind of elaborate spiders web between the model parts, the nozzle on the glue and various parts of your body. You could squeeze some out onto a tooth pick and use that as an applicator but that’s still not a great way of doing things when there is a better way.

Polystyrene Cement gets a ZombiePirate rating of  1 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

Liquid Polystyrene Cement

liquidpoly

Strengths: Cheap, Accurate in application, forms strong bond

Weaknesses: Glue can dry in applicator, liquid can run to undesired parts of model

Use on: Plastics

First of all I have to declare a bias. I love this stuff. If you have any plastic models to build this is my go-to glue of choice. While the normal Poly Cement is like a gel, Liquid Poly is exactly how it sounds, it’s the same glue but in a liquid which makes it a lot easier to control and the packaging doesn’t really allow for many unwanted glue ejaculation model wreckers. All my plastic models over the past almost 20 years have been put together using this. I tend to not bother putting a dab on each side of the bond, one small blob on a piece and press it to where it joins and within seconds you’ve got a strong bond that is pretty unbreakable. In many cases the plastic itself on a point of stress with give way before you can break the bond the glue has formed, it’s solid stuff. One thing worth mentioning though is that if you do put too much on, with it being a liquid it will run off when you press a piece together, this can actually leave you with glue blobs outside the join.

I actually use the exact stuff shown in the picture, it has a long metal tube used as an applicator to deliver the glue, because this is stored upright and you may have the top off for extended periods while building a unit or vehicle there is a tendency on occasion for the glue to dry in the top of the tube. This can be a pig to clear and is probably the only bad point that I can raise about this stuff. You might also want to use a well-ventilated area as with it melting the plastic you get some fumes given off. You may of course be into that kind of thing but we can’t condone it here, especially as fumes from plastic are toxic, so if you sniff a Space Marine’s armpit after gluing his arm on and you end up dead, don’t come knocking on my door complaining. I’ve seen enough movies/played enough games to know how to deal with Zombies!

Liquid Polystyrene Cements gets a ZombiePirate rating of 4 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

Superglue

super-glue

Strengths: Will (literally) glue anything, easily available at most stores

Weaknesses: Will (literally) glue anything

Use on: Metals, Resins, Plastics

If you can’t get anything else than Superglue will of course suffice. The various Polys are designed for plastic to plastic, but for plastic to metal and anything else to anything else, you will use nothing else. Superglue is freely available from many places and may therefore be the easiest to get eager fingers on and you can guarantee it will stick what you want stuck, however, dealing with metal models is vastly different to plastic. Whereby the two glues previously discussed will bond the plastic to itself by melting the plastic together superglue is just a medium that will bond one piece to another. This means that overall you are getting a more brittle joint, there are various methods that you can use to strengthen this, I’ll cover those a little later. Another thing to mention is what I have already put in the Strengths/Weaknesses above, superglue is strong stuff, you’ve maybe seen the scene in American Pie 2, yeah, this stuff can be nasty. It has been used in field dressings in combat theatres (be careful with it though, it contains cyanide) so you will at some point glue fingers together, various parts of models to various parts of your body/the cat etc…

The good thing about this glue is that with a reasonable amount of time soaking in hot water the glue tends to lose its bond and makes things easier to pry open. Superglue is normally a liquid but I have recently come across Loctite Gel and have to say that I’m quite impressed with it. The gel (unlike Poly Cement) is easy to apply and doesn’t run everywhere like a liquid can, I’ve been using it to good effect on the last few items I’ve built and the bond seems nice and strong too, so you might want to try that out as well.

To state the obvious metal models are heavier than plastic ones and superglue takes longer to cure than the Polys. You’ll tend to find that some particularly heavy pieces (such as wings) or anything that has a small surface area to bond too can take a long time to actually set in place. A search around the internet will not take long to find models that people have had a nightmare trying to put together for some, or all, of these reasons. As I said before though, there are a number of tips that can help with your gluing.

With metals one of the best things that you can do is to score the areas to be glued. This is as easy as taking a modelling knife and making a cross hatch pattern (kinda like #) over the area to be glued. This actually marks the metal and provides more surface area for the glue to bond too, thus getting a stronger bond. You can also pin a joint, although this is a topic that could go into a topic of its own so I won’t say too much about it now.

The other things you can do is to buy something called Accelerator. This is a liquid product that causes the glue to cure much faster meaning you are not sitting there for ages waiting for the stuff to go off. I have never used it so cannot offer any opinion of my own on it. Just be careful though as it’s pretty easy to glue yourself to a model anyway without making it stick faster.

Superglue gets a ZombiePirate rating of 5 out of 5 Harpoons.

 

So, there you have it, a run down on the most common options for sticking your loot together. If you can only go for one then it’s going to be the superglue obviously, however, if you have a large amount of plastic I really do recommend getting some Liquid Poly it’s much better suited to this task than superglue. I look forward to getting into the next topic of just what to do with your bare metal/plastic before you go around slapping the glue on and putting it in an awesome action pose.

THOSE models!


Yesterday afternoon before being carted away to the in-laws I got some time to sit down and assemble some of those models I’ve been Twittering about for what seems like an age. Kind of needed to at least make a start as it looks like this weekend is going to produce some gaming, not least of which is the Fantasy grudge-match between the Vampire Counts and my Daemons. I’ll be talking more of a concept in this post as well as providing specific examples, the reason behind this may get posted after things have appeared on Saturday as I don’t want to give away too much before the big day, so to speak.

Now, I’m sure everyone out there that has been involved in making models for their games is about to give one of those knowledgable bobs of the head confirming their consent to what I am about to speak about, you know what they are, THOSE models. These models you have glanced at, either in glossy magazines or on the pages of the geeky depths of the Intarwebz and declared that you must own it. Either due to its amazing quality of craftsmanship or its unbridled power on the tabletop. We all have models we really love and the sculptor obviously took his time when putting it together. However, when the manufacturer took decisions on how to break it down in order to be packaged and then assembled by you or I that person seems to have had an overwhelming case of the brain farts! I’ll give you a specific example as a starter for ten, the Tomb Kings Screaming Skull Catapult, in game terms it’s pretty evil and the model it decent too, however, trying to put that thrice-cursed model together is an exercise in futility. Now matter how much glue or green stuff you chuck at that thing you still need about four additional sets of hands to hold it together and it’s quite a substantial size of model,

I’ve also heard things about Mortenebra from Warmachine, she has loads of little spider legs that go (or don’t go as the case may be) around her base. Problem is that these things are tiny, therefore not conducive to being pinned and with a very small contact area for any glue to hold. I was assembling a new model over the weekend that fell into just this kind of category, not matter which way you choose to build it the pose and bulk of the model make it hard to hold together, this gets even worse when some of the parts are ill-fitting and are going to need a lot of green stuff later on to plug the holes before I get around to painting it. If the model looks good (or at least should when it’s finished) I find this adds even more frustration to the process of trying to get the damned thing to stick together.

I know lots of techniques, pinning, adding a small blob of greenstuff into the join, cleaning the parts first, scoring each side of the join to give the glue a better surface to grip to, but still, this thing almost got thrown across the living room. Bits fell off at various points even after vigorous attempts to get it to hold. What really gets my goat are joints where all the weight is at the other end of the piece, thus naturally the parts try to snap the bond you are trying to create, I just know that if this thing is unfortunate enough to ever have a brief relationship with the floor that I’ll be picking up the individual parts again even once I have filled in all the gaps with green putty. I thought therefore I’d add here my own list (in no particular order) of some of the most evil models I’ve ever had the misfortune of trying to assemble. Please feel free to comment and add your own;

  1. Any Warmachine Cryx spiderjack, those legs are evil and they don’t ever stick to their base.
  2. Witch Coven Egregore, not so much of a problem to put together but mine is no longer attached to the base as the whole ball is supported on a stick thin piece of bendy white metal.
  3. The aforementioned Screaming Skull Catapult
  4. The new contender from yesterday….
  5. Pink Horrors, one piece models that get incredibly annoying when they come with horns or extra arms that need attaching…
  6. Obliterators, stupidly fiddly little weapons that need gluing into their fists… &*£%!@* annoying I tell you.

I am sure there are others but these are the ones that stick out in my mind as the royal pains in the lower back!