Friday, October 24, 2014

Build an Army Display Tray - Part 1: Assembly

Back in June, I was working on my Minotaurs Space Marines army in the hopes I could complete and play with it at the Astronomi-Con Toronto 2014 tournament. Unfortunately, life has a way of interfering with plans, and I quickly ran out of time to paint the army to the level I want. At the beginning of July, with only a few short weeks to go, and an army only about 20% complete, I shifted gears and decided to bring one of my existing armies, The Crimson Fists. I'd recently added a couple of new units to the collection, and wanted to field them. I also wanted to do a nice new presentation tray for the army so they stood out and would look fantastic on display.

Over the years I've made many display trays, and find the ones I like best are usually made from large picture frames for 18" x 24" portraits. I then stick some army related artwork, or the army list, or other some such inside the tray, and replace the backer board with a black foam core and a light piece of plywood.

This lends itself well to a simple yet highly professional looking tray, on the cheap, and quickly. However, I didn't want to take my old tray and repurpose it, because I still use it a lot for another army and wanted to preserve that, so I decided to make a brand new tray.

I also decided to take my original design, and improve upon it.

One thing about my older tray design is that, because it was a very simple re-purpose of the picture frame, I had to be careful not to overload it, for several reasons. The first being the glazing points on the back of the frame used to hold the bottom on are not meant to be load bearing, so when moving the tray around I found I was always worried about the bottom dropping out. But also because the tray has a glass surface, there is a risk of shattered glass flying everywhere if it does fall out, not to mention a fallen army every where.

So for this new design I decided the bottom would be anchored to the frame, and I would actually be doing a scenic display tray.

So off to the local art store I went to find a suitable frame. There were a couple, but this is the one I liked best.


I also picked up a wooden painting board. This is like a canvas, except it uses a light plywood for the painting. It has the distinct advantage of being in standard sizes that fit in the opening of standard picture frames, being very solidly built, square and true, and relatively inexpensive. Always check the fit before you take it home. Though the sizes are standard, it could be a little tight and you'll have to do some modification to the wooden canvass.



Finally, I picked up some angle brackets and #8 x 1/2" wood screws from the local DIY store.

Before assembly, you first need to take the frame backer board, glass, wall hangars, and glazing points out of the frame. Save them for later as they are very handy, and if you don't texture the board, you can use them to act as a protective cover for any insert material you put inside, like army list, photos, ribbons/award certificates, artwork, etc. This frame had a nice thin sheet of plexi-glass, so it won't shatter in case it gets dropped. So I'm keeping it handy in my construction materials, and will likely use it to replace the glass of my original framed display tray, along with the improvements in design I've made to make it more sturdy.

Now that you've removed everything from the frame, insert the wooden canvas board into the opening. Centre it so as to ensure maximum strength, and avoid gaps in the display.


Then locate the angle brackets spaced evenly around the frame so as to avoid any excess unsupported base, and to ensure a nice snug fit. Screw them in with the hardware, careful to not over tighten as these woods are usually softer and strip easily.



When you are done, you should have a very sturdy carrying tray, upon which you can support your army confidently.


This tray is now ready for the next step.

As I mentioned earlier, at this point you could just put the original black backer and plexi-glass face back on, and insert some artwork relevant to the army. However, I've already got a display tray like that, so this time I'm going to build up some terrain on the board that is thematic to my army!

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon!



Links:
Astronomi-con
Deserres Art Supply Store
Games Workshop

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Spotlight: Battle Systems Sci-Fi Terrain

In today's Spotlight, we have a look at the Battle Systems Sci-Fi Terrain.

Last year they had a very successful Kickstarter to launch their new modular card system with the Sci-Fe set.

They've been delivering for the last few weeks, and shipments are now making their way into the hands of US backers. I got my shipment not to long ago and have a look at it for you. You can see it in the video.


Battle Systems are now doing a new Kickstarter to make new dies for a Fantasy Dungeon set. They've just entered the final hours of the Kickstarter, so if you haven't seen it yet, and are interested, go check it out!

Links:

Battle Systems
Kickstarter: Battlesystems Fantasy Dungeon

Monday, July 21, 2014

Minotaurs Space Marines Part 8: An Inside Look

Astronomi-con is in less than a week and I've hit the critical point where I had to decide what to do in terms of armies.

Right now I could finish this army if I pull a lot of late nights and force it, but I've decided I'm not going to force it because I'm never happy when I do, and then I'll be grumpy going into the tournament, and I just want to enjoy the experience.

So, while I didn't get the army done for this year's Astronomi-con Toronto, it's well on its way, and it will be done this year, which was my ultimate goal anyway!

I'll keep posting updates here, but for now I'm focussing on getting my backup plan into action. I have a few things to do for that, like make the army list, make a new display board, fix some damaged minis and finish off some work that I've put off on one or two units.

In the meantime, here are some progress shots of the Stormraven interior.

Here's a pile of interior bits for the Stormraven and two Rhinos.

Here they've been primed with Vallejo Surface Primer - Light Grey, then preshaded using Vallejo Surface Primer - Black. Over this I did a lot of light coats of Minitaire - Light Grey. These are thin coats so that the preshading shows through, to create the feel of depth on the panel lines and the corners and other details of the model. I added several layers of this colour, then finally did a very light layer of Minitaire - White to give it a little pop. I went with the light blue grey interior as it will create a nice contrast to the warmer golds and reds of the main army, both in colour and brightness. Plus, being brighter will help the interior details actually be more visible inside the unlit vehicles.



Next are a few pictures of some detail added to the Stormraven interior displays and controls. I've gone for a monochromatic green look on the screens, which his a traditional screen colour for 40K. Again this contrasts well with the gold and reds that will be used on the marines, plus it makes for some nice object source lighting on the interior. I've yet to pick out the panel buttons, and will also be adding a couple of other indicator lights here and there. These are still very much works in progress.





 Next up is a Rhino interior.

Of course for consistency I'm using the same control panel colours throughout, adding monochromatic text and graphics on the radar screen as well as the information panels.



You can see here how bright the interior will be with the hatches open, to reveal the detail. If this were a darker colour, it wouldn't pop quite as much, and some of the detail wouldn't be as easily seen.




Both Rhinos are effectively the same, with minor variation in the screen details to reflect them being in different active locations, and with different crew, mission parameters, etc.

I'll be cleaning up the stray paint strokes here and there. I'll also be adding more colour with some different signal and button lights.

Also, don't worry about the bright scorpion green splotches... that was due to a dispensing accident where the paint nozzle had dried and, when I squeezed the bottle, it exploded and got all over everything... Annoying, but as you can see, I've already started doing some chipping. Those are areas where the green paint splattered, so I'm starting there first, with focussed chipping, and then going to add more with a more random sponging around the high traffic/use spots.

Links:
Astronomi-Con
Games Workshop

Monday, June 30, 2014

Minotaurs Space Marines Part 7: When Cows Fly

As you may know, I’m working on my Minotaurs army to bring to Astronomi-con in July this year. I’ve been worried about being unable to finish the army due to lack of time, so I’m attacking the rest of the build with gusto, and happy to say that some more work is done!

That pile of boxes that I had sitting on my desk in a previous post (2 razorbacks, 2 tactical squads, Sternguard squad, Storm Raven, Hekaton Aiakos Contemptor Dread, Chaplain Enkomi, and Master Moloc) is now gone and has been mostly built. Everything is in sub-assemblies ready for priming and painting interiors on the vehicles and hard to reach places.

The most recent thing that I’ve been working on is to convert the Stormraven Gunship.

I've always felt it's a diamond in the rough, and that with the correction of a couple of poor design choices, it would look quite nice.

Forgeworld have shown that it can definitely look really nice with some work. So I chose to make those corrections. As a challenge to myself, I've decided to try to use as much of the kit as possible, with minimal bits from other kits.

First, I had to correct the turret. This is, in my opinion, the worst problem with this model. The turret has nothing in common with the Space Marine design aesthetic, and looks like a wart on the top of the gunship.

To correct his, I've converted it with two basic bits to make it look more like a machine spirit controlled gun turret that is more in line with the established Space Marine Aesthetic. I chopped the turret armour up, keeping the front piece, and the axle covers intact. I glued this on to the top mounting ring, which had the rear nub cut off. I then took the armour plate from a Razorback turret, and mounted on the front.




I got the Space Marine targeting bit from the Command Tank upgrade sprue, cleaned off the rectangular nib on the top, and then glued it onto the servitor hip joint on the bottom turret ring. With the lenses facing to the rear of the turret.

Once dry I then just snap the top half onto the bottom half, with the axle in between. This can be magnetized for easy swapping of weapons. I just need to glue the weapons onto some brass or plastic rod, and can easily use every turret combination.


I need to clean it up a bit, and remove the top nib, and am going to add some additional detail to the bottom to make it look finished on the interior. But so far I'm satisfied with it.

Next up... The air intake with tiny exhaust nozzle makes it look hunch backed, and I think was added as an afterthought to try to hide the turret wart and blend it with the tail, which is too stubby, and the design flow is defeated by the opposing rake of the lift surface angles. So I will be eliminating the intake as a design element completely, and then remodelling the tail.

Here's a quick look at the gunship with the new turret.








And finally a quick dry fit snap shot showing how the tail will finally be positioned.



I will need to do a bit of plasticard work and such to properly attach and detail it, but in my opinion it's far superior.

However, before I can do that, I actually have to paint the interior so that I can finish the hull assembly, so off to the air brush next.

Stay tuned!

Links:
Astronomi-con
ForgeWorld
Games Workshop

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Minotaurs Space Marines Part 6: Rhino Bull Rush!

Found a spare hour to build tonight, and decided to put together the two Rhinos from the Razorback kits.

They are mostly assembled, with some components left off for ease of painting, and to paint the interiors. The Razorback turret for one is earmarked for another part of this army, and the other turret will probably be built for one of the Rhinos to be swappable and therefore can pull double duty. I'm thinking of a future razorback with assault cannons or some anti-armour guns, carrying a Devastator Squad...



Links:
Games Workshop