Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Minotaurs Reborn, or Revisited...

So I've left the Iron Warriors on the back burner good and proper, for a while. We're doing a Battleforce Painting Challenge at work, and I've taken on the heroic effort of the new Strike Force (plus extra new bits and bobs).

So here's a bit of a return to the beasts in bronze for your enjoyment. The first chunk of stuff is finished - Tactical Squad Alkaios and their Rhino, featuring the ever-trusty plasma cannon (for all your Space Marine killing needs) and a new grav gun. At some point I'll actually play a game with them too...

Sergeant Alkaios' head is from the Sternguard kit and is officially my favourite head ever

Ignore the disembodied legs. More will come of them later...

Interestingly, I'm writing this while listening to The Independent Characters podcast (which you should check out), discussing the prospect of using a second Primary Detachment in larger games of 40k, and this squad puts me up to, what... 7 Tactical squads...? Yeah. So that's going to happen at some stage. I'd really like to play a huge 40k game using those rules that ISN'T an Apocalypse game - also as an incentive to finish off another Storm Talon, among a few other things (hello, Stalker/Hunter).

I'm also intending to build a Deathwatch kill team, just for a bit of something different; stay tuned for more on that along with a stage-by-stage for my gold armour.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Dusting off

Well it's been a silent few months, although a very busy few months (the two points being fairly interlinked...).
As you may have seen, I are mostly be painting Iron Warriors for Aaron's A Tale of 5 Heretics, but I've also just bought Space Hulk on Steam and the sight of Brother Noctis on Overwatch, mowing down Genestealers to single-handedly achieve the mission where you have to block the entry points, inspired me.

So it's a work in progress type of update. I picked up the rather tasty Hecaton Aiakos kit shortly before jumping ship to my new job in Black Library, and I've spent this morning getting the bronze done...

Israel Gonzalez is a talented man

Also, as Apocalypse has been re-launched (you may have noticed), I'm adding to and finishing off my Masters of the Chapter. Brother-Captain Lyonidaes is counted amongst their number too.

Master of Rites and Master of the Arsenal

Lord Executioner and Master of the Fleet

Master of the Marches and Master of the Watch

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Why so many Space Marines?

My Minotaurs are in a cabinet in Warhammer World currently, which has led to more than a couple of 'cor, you've got a lot of Space Marines'-type comments. Handily they are accompanied with 'they look ace', which is always flattering, but in a dramatic shift away from my usual 'look at mah pictures pleez' blog post, I thought I'd mull over why, exactly, I enjoy painting Minotaurs in particular and Space Marines in general.

Obviously they are cool. The concept of a super-human, genetically enhanced warrior who is functionally immortal, armed with incredible weaponry and clad in outrageously thick armour is just ace, right?
However there's more to it than this...

I love the inherent dichotomy of tragedy and arrogance that is embodied in the background. The concept that the aspirant willingly abandons his humanity, his chance of a normal life, of love and family and so on, specifically to stand unyielding against the horrors of the galaxy in defence of that same humanity. It's not something lacking from the background per se, but it's always been implicit, I think. 
This is what makes the Adeptus Astartes heroes, in my book. Not their thin line of stubborn unyielding defence - that's heroic - but their initial, very first self-sacrifice. Imagine, you've just fought through whatever terrible contest your world holds to select those who are worthy to become Sky Warriors. You stand triumphant, proving through cunning and strength that you are the most potent example of humanity on your entire world. What's to stop you saying 'thanks, but I'd actually like to lead my clan/tribe/whatever and become rich and powerful, through whatever means I have available'?

Duty. The benefit you can be to humanity. Arguably the chance for greater honour and renown (so maybe it's a bit selfish), but actually when you think about it, your great deeds may never be known by the Imperium at large. On this point, I love the end of The Emperor's Gift where the Bell of Lost Souls is rung. It's only done when great heroes of the Imperium fall in battle, and it's heard across Terra, but in the grand scheme of things the populous of Earth know only that a hero has died, not who it was or why. 

So they are heroes, self-sacrificing, dutiful, supremely powerful heroes. They are raised beyond the common clay, remade; forged into mankind's greatest warriors. They gain incredible strength, greatly-advanced mental faculties, all the additional organs and abilities. They hold the line when all others would fall back (super-brave), attack when all others would hold (super-daring). We seem to be describing Superman. 
I dislike Superman. We'll now look at why. He's perfect, he has no flaws. Neither, too, does the Space Marine we're describing - the Codex Space Marine, if you will. The part I liked the most about the last movie was when he smashed the picture after learning that Lois Lane is dating someone else. He's spurned. He's angry. Suddenly he isn't just a 2D character!

Now, there's an established Thing that Codex background presents the facts about the army through a veneer of propaganda, which is fine. Looking at it from this view, of course every Space Marine is a flawless defender of humanity, of course they all fight tirelessly to defend the Imperium, of course the best Space Marines are Ultramarines and every Space Marine wants to be an Ultramarine…

However that’s dull. It’s Superman, again. One of my favourite things about the Imperial Armour Badab War books is the flaws they weave into the Space Marine psyche. Fundamentally, it stands to reason that if every good human attribute is massively scaled up to create a Space Marine, at least a few bad ones should be too, right?

Hubris. Arrogance. Stubbornness. Pride. All the things that determine whether or not a Chapter chooses to commit its forces to a given conflict. Why should these superhumans (less of them than there are worlds in the Imperium, remember) die in hopeless defence of however many thousand civillians on agri-world x here when all strategic sense indicates they would be best deployed to protect industrial world y over here?
The pride and hubris of Lugft Huron, for that matter. The not-all-that-hidden truth of the Badab War is that Huron was right. He’s a Peer of the Imperium; his mandate allows him to act as he sees fit to defend Mankind. Admittedly, building a Legion is perhaps the wrong side of the loyalty line, but he is still acting as he sees fit.

Hatred. Spite. Bitterness. Stibor Lazarek of the Fire Hawks conducts a planetary bombardment against a strategically unimportant world simply because it chose the wrong side. ‘Burn them all; the God-Emperor will know His own’, as he is recorded as saying. Not really the words of a super-heroic defender of humanity. Definitely the words of someone who despises the enemies of the Imperium, frankly.
This is something that isn’t really present in the Codex background, sadly, and I think it should be. Heroes need flaws, they need a ‘lessening’ of their larger-than-life awesomeness with an equally larger-than-life drawback. Even the vaunted Ultramarines, precisely because they are the vaunted Ultramarines. They are dogmatic, hidebound, devoted to the Codex Astartes, certainly arrogant judging by their press…

These are obviously specific examples, but actually the fundamental detail of them just not understanding/forgetting/exploiting human weakness is an interesting one. You’re functionally immortal, and so on. After a while, it’s difficult to even imagine being human – so much BL fiction has Space Marines being able to sense or smell or taste fear and weakness, and being disgusted by it. Humanity’s superhuman protectors are disgusted by their charges.

Maybe a slightly downer end note? Perhaps. But I love the dichotomy of the whole package, quite frankly. That’s what keeps me painting Minotaurs, what keeps me tinkering about with bits until I have models that show these details, in their face or their pose or whatever.

And finally…  stop by Aaron’s blog to see my Iron Warriors, sometime soon J

Saturday, 19 January 2013

New year, new models

Hello all, happy belated new year and all that.
So I've been painting assault marines, Sanguinary Guard-based assault marines, in fact. It's all about that Adonian musculature.

These guys are, as you can tell, something of an anti-armour squad. They are Squad Actaeon, veterans of the Battle of Optera who have taken battle gear and relics from the Lamenters to restore and replace their former wargear.

Sergeant Actaeon loves his new wrist-mounted bolter...

I've also used some FW bits on here, specifically some Phobos-pattern pistols which I think look wicked

There's parts from what, three different Chapters on here... Minotaurs pads, Blood Angels torsos/legs, Black Templars helmets. I do love the bitz box :)
I've also been tinkering with the start of a couple more squads, as you can see:

The witch hunters on the shelf disapprove of all this gold.
If you're interested, their names are Matthias Hopkyns and Bultitudes Loke.
The first will be a new Tactical squad, lead by the Sergeant on the left who's converted from the Games Day model for this year. I'm not sure what the rest of the guys will have but I think that a Lascannon might be in order:

Drum mags look wicked on bolters!!

The second is either going to be a Devastator marine or a Devastator sergeant (yes I know he can't have a heavy bolter but... it looks cool):

His bionic eye lets him perceive the awesomeness of his drum mag in glorious HD

Coming soon: a Storm Talon made from a new Nephilim fighter, plus a hodload* of Terminators.

*A hod, as featured in the classic DKM song Finnegan's Wake, is the thing in which a bricklayer carries bricks.