+ inload: Hurry up and wait +

+ The Rear lines of Armageddon +

+ #AshesInvite +

+ Polished off this tank crew member last night, leaning against his Leman Russ as the sun goes down. + 

+ The deadline for this challenge event is dusk tonight, but as it's finished enough for pict-captures, I thought I'd take a few. +

+ The theme for the challenge is 'back lines of Armageddon' – a fairly open brief that I hope allowed people to pick up something for Orks as well as Imperial Guard. My riff on the theme was to show a tank crew from the 2nd Division, waiting to be sent into battle. +

+ The crew member is a Stationforge print, bought from BattleprintsUK on ebay. I'd like to write a little bit more about them in a future inload, but I'm happy to give them three mechadendrites up – excellent sculpts, excellent service. I had intended to have a few more figures on the tank, but in the end decided the close-up on one worked well. I will, however, add some others when I come back to polish off the rest of the tank. He was painted in exactly the same way as my other Steel Legion forces, with the exception of the Army Group icon, which is a double-pronged white thunderbolt on a red field – marking him as part of the 2nd Tank Division of the Armageddon Steel Legion. +

+ The challenge was also handy to cut down the cupboard of opportunity – gaving me a chance to finally finish off a Leman Russ Vanguisher sprayed (about a decade ago) for my Lamb's World army, and combine it with a scenic base that's even older than that – I think it was bought for my Ultramarines! It's one of those bits that I never wanted to use, because I always felt something more fitting would come along. I'm very glad to have finally pulled the trigger and used it. +

+ The undercoat is Humbrol Desert Yellow 93. I added a couple of layers of drybrushed highlight using Buff Titanium to give a slightly 'dusty' look, then used thinned burnt sienna oils to weather the vehicle and pick out the recesses. After that, it was really just a case of picking out a few details and applying some edge highlighting and weathering. It's a rather loose finish. +

+ inload: Painting The Ashes of Armageddon gameboard +

+ Third Army: The Wastelands of Armageddon +

+ A Steel Legion Heavy Bolter team hopes to chalk up some kills against the orks of Waa-Ghazghkull. +

+ No, not the Steel Legion 3rd Army Group described in this article [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] on The Ashes of Armageddon blog, but the Third Army of wargaming: the tabletop scenery. +

+ Armageddon Wasteland terrain +

+ I've been threatening to repaint my second-hand Realm of Battle board for ages. I bought it painted in a white polar scheme, and used it for many years for various games. In fact, the Steel Legion I'm currently repainting were originally painted white specifically to have an army to use on it – and since they're getting a glow-up, I thought the board ought to follow suit. +

+ This was a surprisingly swift process. I used a dish sponge to apply some slightly diluted raw sienna acrylic over the surface, excluding only the exposed rock, which was already painted grey from its previous incarnation. I used Pebeo studio acrylics, which are affordable and tough enough to stand up to the inevitable bumps and bashes of tabletop warfare. +

+ Once dry, I repeated the process with raw sienna and buff titanium – not in an even mix, but allowing them to mix and mingle on the surface, leaving the pure raw sienna visble in recesses. I then gathered some sprays – black primer, camo brown and camo green from Halfords, plus GW's Wraithbone spray and used them to add some quick smoky detail here and there. +

+ Once that had all dried, I went back in with a large soft brush and buff titanium to pick out some texture with dry brushing. I then heavily diluted some Skrag brown and Liche purple (I think Phoenician purple is probably the modern equivalent) and used these to work into the cracks and crevices to boost the contrast in tones. +

+ I also used these very dilute mixes to add a few discoloured patches – surface vegetation? Chem-waste pollution? Dirt and debris? – it doesn't really matter which, as such additions are mainly there to avoid weird blank gaps in the surface. +


 + The board in use +

+ It was a treat to use the board in a game with Bob Hunk – keep your occulobes peeled for an upcoming The Ashes of Armageddon battle report – but I'm keeping that secreted under my hood until it's all written up and fits into the narrative. +

+ For the moment, then, here's a couple of shots of the finished elements of my gradually-being-repainted Steel Legion force:

+ These details show two things of note: firstly, the importance of contrast between your models and your table if you want them to make an impact. The rims of the bases frame the model and make a statement, while the dark armour, guns, gloves and boots define the features and make the models 'read'. That's even the case here, where the figures are intended to read as camouflaged. Without that built-in (and unrealistic) framing and contrast, the models would be literally camouflaged against the surface, and you'd lose a lot of the visual appeal of a game. Bear this in mind when deciding on your schemes! +

+ Secondly, the difference between basing and terrain. One could, of course, prepare and paint the whole board using the same paints and techniques as used on a model's base, but it'd be considerably more time-consuming and expensive, not to mention more likely to be fragile. You'd end up with something more akin to a diorama rather than a playing space. +

+ The 'Third Army' needs attention, but it also need a slightly different mindset – happily, a more forgiving one, for the gaming table will rarely garner as much attention as your models, and thus can be treated with less attention to detail. +

+ While explicitly intended to represent one of the many Wasteland areas of Armageddon, the finished result is pretty flexible, and can pull double-duty for other games – or simply as a pict-capture backdrop. +


+ inload: Kindred calling +

+ The Kindred of the Bloody Moon make haste to Paradise XXII +

+ WIP Baggage Knarloc and kroot gunslinger +

+ Ahead of their deployment to Paradise XXII, the kroot Kindred of the Bloody Moon receive some reinforcements – and a little warpaint. +

+ Pictured above are the results of a second box of the new Kill Team Kroot together with some older metal Kroothounds, along with a few 3D printed extras designed by FelixtheCrazy and printed by generous Lucifer216, and some accessories from the original Kroot Carnivore kit. +

+ The kroot background has a lot of appeal for me – on the one hand, they're savage flesh-eating aliens, but on the other, they've got a great tribalistic and explorative angle. They're self-reliant and self-improving, with a culture based around very different values from any of the major factions in 40k. Perhaps most appealingly, they're not an overblown galaxy-ending influence on the broader stage – merely an exemplar of the many, many hundreds of minor xenos that riddle the 40k galaxy. It's a refreshingly understated and surprisingly thoughtful area of the background, ripe for development. +

+ Kill Team: Into the Dark expanded a little on the Kroot background, and provided us with some insight into their motives and way of war – and it's little snippets like this that really set my mind alight. Of course, the beautiful models and cool aesthetic really help, and I don't think I'd be anywhere near as interested if Brian Nelson hadn't made such a great job of sculpting the first batch of the basketball-playing parrot-Predator creatures. +

+ Painting +

+ The Knarloc – a 3D-print from the ever-awesome Warmtamale – is painting up nicely. Thus far I've been concentrating on developing texture on the skin, and having a whale of a time. While most of the non-Carnivore Krootforms in the Kindred vary in colour, I thought orange would work nicely for this Knarloc, so he's clearly a relation of some sort. +

+ The face has been worked up a little more than the rest, but there's still plenty to go. You'll spy some chalky highlights here, which I'll be softening down with glazes – possibly oils, once I can research how they're likely to interact with printed resin. +

+ ...and there's more on the horizon, as Warmtamale also printed me these rather charming Knarloc riders and variant kroothounds, pictured alongside some of my recent Steel Legion for The Ashes of Armageddon. As an aside, I think it's great how the 'digestive-evolution' concept of the Kroot not only allows but encourages variations on the models you use. Just like Tyranids and Orks, this is an army that lends itself to using older and third party models. +

+ You'll also spot a holy Kroothawk in the centre – perhaps destined as an objective marker! +


+ Gaming +

+ Out of interest, I worked up a quick 10th edition list using the models at my disposal – it comes to 810pts. +

Faction: Tau Empire

Detachment rules: Kauyon


  • Kroot Shaper – 40pts
    • Precision of the patient hunter – 20pts
  • Kroot Shaper – 40pts
  • Kroot Farstalkers – 70pts
    • 1 Killbroker, 9 kroot, 2 kroothounds
  • Kroot Farstalkers – 70pts
    • 1 Killbroker, 9 kroot, 2 kroothounds
  • Kroot Carnivores (10) – 55pts
  • Kroothounds (4) – 30pts
  • Kroothounds (4) – 30pts
  • Kroothounds (4) – 30pts
  • Krootox Riders (2) – 70pts
  • Great Knarloc100pts
  • Knarloc Riders – 110pts
  • Ambull – 85ps
  • The Archivist – 70pts
+ Background-wise, the Kindred aren't associated with the Tau, so it's more themed around mercenaries rather than auxiliaries. You'll spot a couple of units that come from the 'Legends' rules – the Ambull and Zoat – because this seems the perfect project to include all the weird and wonderful models that I've collected over the years. +


+ Models + 

+ I had a lot of fun building these models. Pictured here's some sort of personality bearing a polearm/religious banner or similar. When playing around with bits, sometimes it's nice to not have too many fixed ideas! +

+ Pictured alongside another recent purchase, the Catachan with grenade launcher that had a limited release. While she's a relatively slight figure, even in the context of the 2nd/3rd-edition period, it's clear how tall and intimidating a kroot would be to a human. +

+ Having a couple of kits and variant bits allows you to build fun little variations like these sharpshooters. +

+ inload: Dead Earth Miniatures' Piscean review +

+ A tin of Saharduins + 

+ Dead Earth Miniatures' Piscean review +

+ Who? What +

+ Dead Earth miniatures, run by ex-GW sculptor Stephen May (@stevepaintsandsculpts on Instagram), is an indie producer of exquisitely characterful miniatures, which you can buy here [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. The growing range is mainly Necromunda-adjacent, with figures that would be ideal for old-school Ratskins and Brats, amongst others. While it's clear May has a real love for the 40k universe, these figures would all also be perfectly at home in many other skirmish games. +

+ Long-time inloaders will know my fixation on fishy little aliens, so will be utterly unsurprised that I recently supported Dead Earth Miniature's 'The Piscean' Kickstarter, which featured the charming and slippery fellow pictured above. +


+ Materials and constructions +

+ The figure arrived packaged in a bubble envelope as four separate sprues along with a 40mm base. The resin it's cast in is high quality, with a good balance of strength and flex. Given the sculptor's pedigreee, I'd be inclined to guess that if it's not the same stuff Forge World use, it's certainly something very similar.  +

+ There was little flash and no mould slippage on the copy I received, which is always a relief for short-run resin figures. Likewise there was no distortion or reshaping necessary, with the minor exception of one of the cables above – and given the very fine nature of these parts, I think that's virtually inevitable. +

+ Given the sinuous nature of the figure, it's unsurprising that it's had to be cut into a few pieces. These cut are well-judged, with joins largely hidden in naturalistic ways, such as the neck under a cable, and the sleeved arm joining at a shoulder strap. The parts have been well-cast, with little or no warping, so there are only very fine gaps – you can see one at the shoulder in my assembled version below, but as you can see the neck and foot joins are almost invisible. +

+ There were no instructions included, which can be tricky for non-human figures (it's not always obvious where alien anatomy goes!) but there are handy guide structures on the components meaning that they only fit together in one position. Construction is therefore straightforward, and aside from having to fish out a pair of tweezers to get the pipes on either side of the head, was very swift. One set of these pipes required running under hot water to bend into place, but that's well within the wheelhouse of anyone likely to be building them. +

+ The assembled Piscean, pictured alongside a couple of Knightmare Games Fishmen, and GW's original Saharduin +


+ Painting +

+ Still WIP at the time of this review, I wanted to include a few notes on painting the figure – which is proving a treat. I couldn't resist working up the face a little more, and you can see character and detail apparent in the sculpt even at this stage. +

+ One of the lovely aspects of weird one-off aliens like this is the absolute freedom for colour schemes. There's no set expectation for them. I toyed with a brighter colour (as I'd used for the Knightmare Miniatures ones above), but since this sculpt is far more salamander-esque, I decided to go for a more muted, earthy tone. He's got a bit of a Star Wars feel at the moment, which is no bad thing – as noted above, while the Piscean would fit in nicely with the 40k universe, he'd be equally at home in other universes, like Gates of Antares. +

+ Having opted for green skin, I decided that battered brown-black leather would help set it off, so I'm using that for the straps, and a more neutral grey for the rest of the clthing/armour. This low-key scheme is at an early stage, and I'll be working it up before adding some contrasting markings to provide some eye-catching highlights and a flash of exotic colour. +


+ The good, the bad, and the fishy +

+ Overall, I'm delighted with the figure. Partially that's down to my enthusiasm for retrohammer-flavoured fishmen models, but even objectively this was a real treat. The sculpting is top-notch, and as one might expect of an ex-FW sculptor, fits into the aesthetic of my largely GW collection really naturally. Happily, the production quality – often the weakpoint of indie studios – is also excellent. +

+ On the downside, I've heard a couple of comments from other backers that their model arrived broken, so hopefully for future projects Dead Earth Miniatures will consider using small cardboard boxes for packaging to help minimise damage on figure(s). +

+APPENDEDIT: I've just been informed by another backer that her model turned up in a bubblewrap envelope within a cardboard box, so looks like this issue has already been resolved – good show, DEM!+

The pricing – £22 Kickstarter, £24 retail – is in the same ball park as Forge World's kits, which I think is fair for a figure of this size and quality, even if it squeezed me out of going for the variants and options that formed part of the Kickstarter. I think Dead Earth Miniatures might have run out of time on getting pics of those options up before the Kickstarter finished, but have offered backers a freepost option, which I thought was a nice touch – and means that I may well pick up a variant if the bits catch my fancy. +

+ In summary, this is an extremely well-sculpted and thoughtfully designed figure that I'd have no hesitation in recommending. Quality-wise it's doing everything right, packed with interesting detail and a treat to the painter. I'd not have blinked if you'd told me it was an official Necromunda Hired Gun figure, and given the high quality of that range, that's a compliment. +