+ inload: Epic Salamander Dreadnoughts +

+ March of the Ancients +

+ Get off my planet, you dang orks! +

+ The army progresses apace, and two more Detachments have been completed: the Dreadnoughts. +

+ While I like the Contemptor model, the good old box dreadnought better captures the idea of a coffin attached to a walking tank – and it's definitely more thematically appropriate to the Second Battle for Armageddon campaign in which The Ashes of Armageddon is set. +

+ These were painted using the same technique as the rest of the army; the only real differences being that the bases were painted with the model in place, rather than prepared separately and attached at the end. This is because these metal models have a little tab base that I hid under the base texture prior to priming. +


+  History of the Epic Dreadnought + 

+ This version of the Space Marine Dreadnought was the last one released prior to the new plastic Contemptor. As part of the Epic: 40,000 release in 1997, they were designed – along with much else in this generation of Epic releases – by Tim Adcock. +

Unlike the Epic: Legions Imperialis release, which are nearly exact quarter-scale replicas, it's interesting to see how Adcock has taken Jes Goodwin's 40k-scale Dreadnought and slightly exaggerated particular elements to help the model 'read' on the table. This was a common design theme running through all the Epic models of the period; generally making the guns a hint larger in terms of relative proportion. + 

+ Pic from Stuff of Legend +

+ The result is a wonderfully chunky set of models – and you'll note that it's not just a single sculpt, but a full range. This was another common thread for the Epic 40,000 sculpts, with most vehicles (or equivalents) having multiple mix-and-match options for hulls, turrets and so forth, giving an absolutely colossal potential for variety. + 

+ As an aside, this provided an interesting insight into how the GW design studio envisaged models that would only ever had one variation at 40k scale (such as the Eldar Falcon, which had four hulls with slightly different sensor suites and equipment blister placements). +  

+ The models were sold in an unusual sort of blister pack that I think was unique to Epic: 40,000. I could have sworn that they came with a standard variety of arm sprues, but this one, bought from Ebay, only included lascannons. + 

+ Pleasingly chunky little beasties, these painted up nice and quickly alongside the others I've managed to pick up. +


+ In truth, I hadn't intended to end up with quite such a group! I prefer to think of Dreadnoughts as very rare, with perhaps one or two per Company, so a group like the one below seems a bit excessive. Even if the Armageddon campaign did involve the whole Chapter, it seems unlikely they'd all be fielded... +  

My original intention had been to have half a dozen or so of these Dreadnoughts alongside two or three Contemptors. In any case, never mind – if it's a bit excessive for the 41st Millennium, entire Talons of Dreadnoughts are at least fitting for the colossal battles of the Horus Heresy. +

+  As you can see above, I've tried to reflect the character of these Dreadnoughts as the carriers of ancient heroes, with a little bit of distinctiveness provided to each through colour placement and markings. You'll see a variety of black panels, flame markings and so forth on individuals – but they still hang together well. +


+ inload: Painting for The Corsair Gambit +

+ The Corsair Gambit +

+ Vanguard Detachment of Outriders +

+ I'm taking my Salamanders down to take part in the investigation and retrieval of critical archeotech from the planet Nabed-Paleae in Maximal Fire's Corsair Gambit event (you can inload the event pack here [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]) – so I thought I'd track my progress subroutines from 'confident/plenty of time' to 'weeping at 4am'. +

+ Here's where the 1,500pt army currently stands; I have 10 days to get it all up to scratch. If you'd like the painting method, the  colours and process are detailed in this inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]. +

+ MIA +

+ The picture above shows the vast majority of the army. Missing here are:
  • One additional stand of Terminators
  • Two stands of Assault Marines
  • A proper base for the Thunderhawk
  • Three objectives – the are optional, so a bit of a stretch goal.
+ The remaining infantry are at the same stage as the Thunderhawk – primed brown and with a zenithal spray of Colour Forge's Salamander green. I've also got their bases all complete – so they can be stuck on quickly once they're painted. +


+ What needs painting? +

+ Bar the Thunderhawk, which is at the earlier sprayed-green stage, everything has had the black parts picked out. My plan is to tackle an in-game Detachment at a time, which means I have the following to do. From left to right in the picture above:
  • Air Support: Thunderhawk Gunship
  • Support: Four Dreadnoughts
  • Support: Four Dreadnoughts
  • Bastion: Four Tarantulas
  • Transport: Five Rhinos
  • Transport: Eight Rhinos
  • Battle Tank: Nine Predators
  • Transport: Five Rhinos (as three are already complete).
+ That's a Detachment a day, with two days for overrun and quickly polish off the extras. It seems doable – if rather more snug than I'd intended! Some, like the Dreadnoughts and additional Assault marines, will be much quicker than others, and I'm hoping transfers might make the vehicles a bit more swift. +

+ Anyway, that's the plan – wish me luck! +


+ Outriders +

+ This was the most recent detachment to get worked up from a similar green-and-black stage. Painted on a spare bit of sprue and then glued onto pre-prepped bases, they took around two hours. +

+ Built for The Ashes of Armageddon mini-game I'm working on, rules for the outriders in the Horus Heresy era are in the latest expansion for Legions Imperialis, The Great Slaughter. Since these bikers had hung around unpainted since (yikes) 2014, I felt their time had come. +

+ Quick and simple to paint, I adapted the process in the linked inload above for them. The models are a mix of Space Marine 2nd edition plastics and the metal ones released for Epic: Armageddon. I like the variety this creates, and having some of the old plastics will help to blur the gaps between these and any new of the new ones I might add in the future. +

+ You'll spot a couple of Attack Bikes in here – these won't have any in-game effect for Epic: Legions Imperialis, but will allow them to pull double duty for any other Epic games. Besides, they look nice, which is the best reason for ever painting models! +

+ As with the infantry, I varied the markings on the shoulders a little, with the Legion/Chapter badge mostly on the right pauldron, but sometimes on the left and sometimes supplemented by flame markings. +

+ Pure uniformity can look great, but much as I like personality at 40k scale, I think my Marines deserve their personal heraldry at Epic scale. It's a (literally) little thing, but I hope it makes the army as a whole feel more grounded, and give a sense that these are individual soldiers, not tokens. +

+ The infantry have been completed for a while – I've been resting on my laurels a bit with them. It's nice to lay them out, and I'm really looking forward to getting some games in with them. +


+ inload: Thunderhawk inbound +

+ Building the Legiones Imperialis Thunderhawk – with Battle Bling upgrades +

+ I received this Thunderhawk as a gift last weekend – a timely one, as I've got an Epic event coming up, organised by the chaps from the Maximal Fire Podcast [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. With a couple of weeks to go, I decided to superdetail it using the two upgrade kits from Battle Bling [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. +

+ Surprise assault – or speedy evacuation? Why choose when you can have both? +


+ What's in the box? Internal Detail kit +

+ Battle Bling supply two upgrade kits for the Thunderhawk. The first is the Internal Detail kit, which contains nine parts:

+ There are some pictures on the Battle Bling site to help you work out where things go, but since I was building it, I thought I'd document the process to help anyone else having a go – it's not especially complicated, but does benefit from some forward planning. +

+ The kit comes as shown above, nice and clean with the supports removed. It's worth giving them a quick once over to clean things up, but this will take only seconds per part. There's no need to wash the parts or anything. +

+ You will need +

  • Sharp modelling knife
  • Superglue
  • Modelling files
  • Polystyrene cement
  • Modelling putty (optional)
If you want to hinge the front door, you'll also need:
  • Sellotape
  • Two small (~1mm) magnets
  • Paperclip
  • Clippers

_1  There are options for open or closed side doors: simply cut out the area shown and replace them on either side. You can use the existing detail to guide your cuts. I suggest that you dry fit the pieces repeatedly; trimming/filing away only what you need to to ensure a snug fit.

It's fairly obvious why you might want open doors for an interior detail kit, but why closed? The answer to that is that you will be able to see the sides of the interior through the front door, so even if you don't want open side doors, it's worth making the cut.

_2  The open doors can go in the same place. Since you get a pair of each, you can have both open, both closed, or – as here – one of each. Open doors are probably more appropriate for landing dioramas, but I wanted to pop a spare infantryman in the open doorway for a little extra character.

_3  The large angled part is designed as the floor for the insides. Glue it on as shown before assembling anything. There's a little notch that slots in neatly to the floor, so it's easy to find the correct position. 

If you want a functional ramp, avoid getting any glue close to the front (left side of the image) – see step 7 below.

Once glued, hold the piece until the superglue dries to ensure it is flat against the surface, then dry-fit the sides. You'll find you have to trim away the internal supporting struts shown in the centre of the picture. Don't worry, as the top part will fix any lost structural strength.

Also visible in this shot are the two sides. Note that I've popped out the dry-fitted side doors to avoid damaging them while I trimmed away the internal support. 

_4  It's now time to start assembling things. Start by gluing the side doors and boltgun racks as shown. Once these are dry, add some polystyrene cement to the remaining plastic supporting struts and some superglue to the sides of the remaining large upgrade part. This is the roof, and it fits in as shown above.

Note that there's a bit of play for this top part – it will slide slightly forward or back in the space. I opted to slide it forward, but everything should still fit if you push it a little backwards, too.

_5  Carefully trim away the front ramp from the plastic part by repeatedly scoring a straight line. Don't use clippers or force with the knife, or you'll distort the plastic. Check that the replacement front ramp with internal detail fits.

_6  This is a good time to paint the insides of your Thunderhawk. For the purposes of this step-by-step, I've just given them a quick spray – but feel free to go to town. 

_6  Glue the bottom part in place so you have a stable structure. Once dry, if you want a functional ramp, slide your knife blade between the plastic bottom part and the upgrade internal floor as shown. 

_7 Use your knife and files to cut two small recesses in the top part – check that your small magnets fit inside.

Cut a 3 x 1cm (1¼ x ¾in) strip of sellotape, and carefully slide it into the gap, sticky side up. Leave about 1cm (¾in) showing. 

Before moving on to the next step, paint the ramp to a finished state. I've added a little weathering to demonstrate (see below).

_8 Superglue the magnets in place. Note that the polarity doesn't strictly matter with this approach. 

Use a round or rat-tail file to file a groove in the top of the ramp, and glue a length of paperclip into the groove. Align the ramp with the hinge at the bottom of the Thunderhawk and press the sellotape into place. It will remain visible, but as you can see, it's not obtrusive.

The ramp will now open and close. You can assemble the rest of the Thunderhawk per the box instructions. 


+ Finessing – or learning from the process +

+ As always, working through a process teaches you what to do better next time – so to benefit from my mistakes, here are some further thoughts. +

+ I only noticed after the whole thing was glued together that the open ramp reveals quite low headroom! I suggest that you trim down the front supporting area (the bit the magnets are in) before assembling the sides of the model. +

You might wish to use some greenstuff to help fill the holes for the magnets, too. +

+ If you'd prefer a sturdier or more professional quality for your hinge, you might replace the sellotape with higher-tack tape, or something purpose-made, like hinge tape [+noosphericexloadlink embdded+]. +


+ What's in the box? External Detail kit +

+ Battle Bling's other offering for the Thunderhawk is the External Detail kit. No prizes for guessing what this eighteen-part upgrade is concerned with. +

+ Assembly for this is far more straightforward than the Internal Detail kit, so rather than a full step-by-step, I'll just give you some pictures and notes. +

+ The most obvious additions here are the turbolaser and tail. The turbolaser is a purely visual tweak that makes the design better match those of the Adeptus Titanicus laser weapons. This simply slots into place to replace the plastic version, using the same notches. +

+ The tail is my favourite bit. Not quite sure why GW lost the top of the tail in the redesign, but BB's upgrade replaces it. Again, this slots neatly into position, utilising the existing detailing to help you get the position spot on. +

+ Fully assembled and ready to drop off – or pick up – Astartes. +

+ Also visible on the left are the underwing lascannons and bombs. These are a visual upgrade (although perhaps they have rules in Aeronautica Imperialis?) and despite my love of heavy bolters, I quite like the gun barrels poking out from the wings. The underwing lascannons are two-parts each: the paired guns themselves, and the turret fittings (the round items in the picture at the start of this review). I assembled the turrets separately then glued them to the wings, but you could put the fitting in place before adding the guns in situ – just make sure you get them the right way round. +

+ The bombs fit into the gaps for the standard plastic missiles – and again, in Epic: Legions Imperialis terms, are just a nice visual difference, as the Thunderhawk doesn't have any in-game options. I opted to have a mix of missiles and bombs: the shattered Salamanders have to make do with what they can get hold of! +

+ Also included in the kit are two side sponsons. These are designed to fit in front of the side doors. I dry-fitted them and they fit very nicely – I simply opted for the standard heavy bolters because I like how they look. I'll save the lascannons for another day – perhaps another Thunderhawk or, as the size looks about right, to add some variety to a Land Raider squadron. +


+ Notes +

+ The new Thunderhawk Gunship's a delight to build straight out of the box; and both sets of Battle Bling's excellent upgrades offer a lovely bit of icing on the cake. While not necessary, they are fun and add a lot of flavour to the standard kit. The Thunderhawk is a big model in Epic scale terms, and an obvious focal point. It's nice to be able to lavish some extra attention on it. +

+ While sturdy enough for gameplay, I'd suggest that the Internal Detail kit is ideal for superdetailed dioramas. There are even small holes in the (see step 4 of the Internal Upgrade instructions above), which might allow some talented electopriest to light up the insides... It's a great upgrade kit for anyone who wants to really get into the modelling aspect of the hobby. +

+ If you're on a budget, are more concerned about gaming, or aren't very confident in modelling, then I'd recommend the External Detail kit. It's a great introduction to third party upgrades, and is – for obvious reasons – much easier to spot at tabletop distances. +


+ If Battle Bling are looking for future ideas, I'd love to see an upgrade set that replaces the plastic top, giving us the crew compartment and a top part with holes for the windscreens instead of solid plastic (some blister plastic could be used for the armourglass, as on my Blood Angels' Rhino). +

+ I'd also love to see the forward heavy bolter sponsons from the older design (pictured below). As with the crew compartment suggestion, this would give the kits more obvious visual differences from the stock kit. +

+ Size and dimensions of the LI/AI Thunderhawk +

+ Since posting up the review, a few requests have come in for the dimensions, so I got some pictcaptures. With my setup, there's some inevitable lens distortion, so I've added the length in the captions for clarity. Other than that, these pics are pretty straightforward. +

+ Length from tip of nose to end of engine nacelle: 120mm +

+ Another shot of the overall length 120mm +

+ Width from wingtip to wingtip: 110mm +

+ Height from ground (including deployed landing gear) to top of tail: 48mm +


+ And finally +

+ There's a small subset of people – likely fans of Epic – who might have picked up the old resin Thunderhawk from Forgeworld when the first edition of Aeronautica Imperialis was out. Epic and AI 1st ed. were not a well-supported game at the time, so there aren't too many of these models out there. +

+ For this little niche audience, however, the following comparison pictures might be handy. As you'll see, the new plastic kit is larger – but not by the huge extent between the new and old Epic kits. If you've got the old resin Thunderhawk, you'll be pleased to hear that they'll look fine on the board – the differences in size perfectly attributable to different STC build patterns. +

+ Hope the review and pics are handy. +


+ inload: Comms-relay found +

+ Re-established communications +

+ Long time no exload, so thought I'd chime in with a quick few notes. Firstly, I've got an Epic: Legions event down in Poole coming up, so have been quietly gathering tiny models. +

+ It's been a bit of a Catch 22: I don't want to waste time painting stuff I won't take, so I want to work up a firm army list. However,  the supply and releases have been so spotty and unreliable that I can't be sure what'll be available. +

+ However, given that I've not got a huge amount of time, I'm cracking on  with painting what I've got, and I'll have to rely on the mercies of the Dice Gods to make up for gaping holes in my plan. Quite thematic really – I guess the Shattered Legions didn't have all the options they wanted at their disposal! +

+ Still to go here are:
  • Thunderhawk  This is actually the old resin from from Forgeworld. The new plastic one – on order since Christmas – hasn't made an appearance.
  • Four Dreadnoughts  These have received a spot of black since this photograph was taken.
  • Rhinos   There are 21 in various stages of completion here. I'll probably work up a batch of these in between each of the more exciting bits. The details are going to be the awkward bit here. Part of the fun of the scale is being able to do all the little tactical twiddles – but until I can finalise the list, I won't know how many to paint with what markings.
  • Bikes  These haven't been released yet, but the rules are out, and I had a little stash of Epic 40k/Armageddon-era ones. Thought they might make a fun little surprise.
  • Predators  Three of these six are pretty much ready to rock and roll; the other three are well on their way too.
  • Thunderbolt  I'm not a fan of the Space Marine fliers – which in any case are rare as rocking horse droppings at the moment – and in the absence of any other anti-air stuff, I thought this was a perfect excuse to paint up a pair of Thunderbolts that have been lurking since I received the Aeronautica Imperialis boxed game as a gift.
+... and aside from some other odds and sods, that's about it. It works out to roughly 1,200pts (of the 1,500pts limit in the event pack). +

+ The narrative of the weekend is themed around the Corsair Worlds, a region of space defended by the Legio Maximal. For that reason, I'd quite like to leave a bit of space to squeeze in a Titan of some sort – but if I manage to get 1,500pts of Salamanders done, I'll only take the Titan down for visuals. +


+ The Ashes of Armageddon stirred again, this time revealing the Siege of Helsreach [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], if you fancy a longer read. +


+ War of the False Primarch +

+ And finally for this inload, a shot of two Red Fish marines I'm working on for the launch of Stage V of the long-running War of the False Primarch. You can see the Index Astartes for this interesting Chapter here: [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] +