Tyrannocyte Tentacles

I recently picked up some Tyranids in a trade including three of their drop pods.  I know that they’re actually called Tyrannocytes, but I’m having a hard time referring to them as such (except for when they force alliteration, like in the title of this blog post).

If you recall from that post, the big issue with them is that they were missing some pieces.  Some of the missing pieces were the spikes on the top of two of the pods, and a set of armored chitin on the third.  Those I managed to pick up off of Hoard-of-Bits on ebay for a reasonable price, but the bigger issue is that they were missing their tentacles.

  • Carapace pieces?  $5
  • Smoke stacks? $2
  • Weapons? $2
  • Tentacles? $30!!!!!!

I don’t mind buying most of that stuff, but I can’t justify $30 for a bunch of tentacles.  On the plus side, it gave me a chance to play with my tentacle maker again (which hasn’t seen the light of day since I started my Tyranid Bastion project more than a year ago–for those that are curious, it’s now spray painted blue, but no further progress has appeared).

I also drastically overestimated how much green stuff I was going to need, and promptly ordered a ton of that online.  The good news is that it seems to keep for a long time, based upon the fact that I still have some that’s pushing two years old.  So, I’ll be good on green stuff for a while.

I won’t go into the tentacle making process too much, other than to say that it seemed to work best if I rolled them into “snakes” and then let them cure for about 45 minutes before scoring and shaping them.  While they were curing, it worked best if I went back and periodically gave them a quick roll (so they didn’t flatten or stick to the plastic tray).

The biggest limiting factor on them was how many other odds and ends I had laying around to form them over.  Tentacles look better when they wriggle around in all sorts of directions, but to get them to cure that way, you have to find a way to position them in odd ways.  Enter: my sculpting tools.  Basically any tool that was laying around got wrapped with a tentacle of some type (and, like before, it was best if I came back every fifteen minutes or so to adjust them).

For the last lot, I rolled them a little longer and wrapped them around the carapace itself.  This looks far more dynamic, and might have been something I should’ve done with more of them.  Then again, you want at least some of them to dangle down, right?

For the one missing the lower tentacles, I rolled out some long ones and tipped them with little claws from a spare Harauspex mouth.  They don’t look quite like the “proper” tentacles, but I think they’ll do in a pinch.  The real problem I have is that they’re so evocative of the Aliens from “Chicken Little.”

I can’t get it out of my head…

The good news is that I’m into this for about $130.  They’re $63 each (MSRP), so I’m at about 30% off retail.  That’s not super exciting, considering how much work I put in them, but if we’re using that math, I also got two harpies and six venomthropes thrown in for free.  Yup, at that price, I can definitely overlook my feelings on cartoon aliens…

Knight Progress: Color Choices & Missing Handles

When assembling my Imperial Knights, I found that my sprues didn’t seem to contain all of the required bits.  In fact, each of my most recent two nights were missing two of their five handles that go on the top hatch.  Come to find out, this isn’t all too uncommon of a practice–as my friend Sam reported the same issue when purchasing from the same vendor years ago.

Well, rather than let it stop me in my tracks, I looked for a solution.  Rather than going the route that Sam took (and just skipping the “extra” handles altogether), I opted to take 5 out of the six handles I did have and build a single “complete” model, but that left me with one that had but a single handle.  I opted to glue that lone handle on the left side of the carapace, but that left four very naked spots on the right side.

When I started the process, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with that, but I knew I had to do something about it–as it looked tacky.  I figured that I might just putty over them and leave that hatch completely smooth (which would’ve been a totally acceptable solution).  Whatever I was going to do, I knew that it wasn’t going to include sculpting four more handles from scratch.

I eventually opted to find a spare piece of Ultramarines brass etch and affix it to the carapace.  It did a reasonable job of covering most of the holes and I felt that the single Omega on it was not overly obvious (well, at least it wouldn’t be if I didn’t bother to paint it that way, right?).

Then it really came down to color scheme.

House Terryn became the defacto house for me based upon a few facts:

  1. The scheme of red/blue/white would work well with my Ultramarines and keep things from looking too outlandish
  2. House Terryn seems to have worked with the Ultramarines, at least according to this wiki article
  3. It’s the one house that Forgeworld makes resin options for–so, no free hand!

With that in mind, I started painting the carapace blue.  But, since I didn’t want it to match my ultras exactly, I opted to go with a darker base and not quite as bright of a highlight.  The result here is that the schemes look relatively close (And honestly, they don’t look as good from afar without the bright edge highlights), but still look different enough to pass for a different force.

Well, I’m not 100% sure about the last part.

I’m also not a big fan of gold traditionally.  I know that in “recent” editions, Ultramarines’ second company has switched from yellow to gold, but I’m still a big fan of the primary color scheme.  As a result, I don’t incorporate that many metals into my figures.  However, House Terryn clearly uses them, and it was a chance for me to add a little extra differentiation between them and the armies of Ultramar.  Though it’s not typically my thing, I think I kind of like it–you’ll see why in my next post on the subject…

Knight Titan Ankle Joints

My last post concerned repositioning of the Knight titan’s knees and uncovered an issue with his ankles as well.    The issue was that the knees on the model are static, and so are the ankles, so when you reposition one, you naturally need to reposition the other (and, to some degree, that’s also true with the hips).  I had no idea that this would be turning into a major conversion project, but I’d already started down the road and figured I might as well keep following it.

I won’t lie though–I did consider just putting the legs back together the way they were originally, but then I was out the $18 on the jeweler’s saw for nothing.

After sulking for a bit, I was back to scouring the internet for answers, which lead me to Adam B’s article at The Dice Abide.  His solution was quite simple: replace the ankle joints with beads of the right size (12mm apparently).  So, I was off to the local superstore and picked up some beads in the craft section for $.98, trying my best to eyeball their size (they didn’t have any measurements on the bag, but they looked about right when I lined them up on the ruler in the fabric section).

When I got home though, I quickly learned that the beads sold at Walmart are made out of unobtanium–or some other insanely dense material.  I took my 10k Dremel to them and managed to cut a faint line in the bead.

Well, cutting is not technically accurate.  It would be more appropriate to say that I melted a line into the bead.  Both the blade and the bead were glowing red, and the air started to fill with noxious gas.  Given some of my hobby experiences like this, I’m fairly certain that I’ve shaved a few years off of my life.  Between toxic smells and resin dust, I’m likely going to die well before I finish painting my armies.

I should mention that I do try to wear proper protective gear whenever I can: eye protection, masks, etc.  I just didn’t bother to wear a mask when cutting a bead because, c’mon, is it really necessary?

The answer is probably “yes.”

Anywho, with the bead not working, I had to come up with another solution.  The answer was to simply make a press mold of the bead and use that to shape green stuff to replace it.  I have a few sticks of the blue re-usable molding compound and it really works like a charm.  After heating it up and setting two beads in it to harden, I broke out the green stuff and filled it up.

Once that dried, I cut that down and sanded it off to act as the ankles.  It took a little bit of trial and error, but I think they look relatively accurate enough.  When doing it, I wasn’t following any specific guide, so the feet don’t sit perfectly level for either knight, but I’m planning on fixing that by giving him some unlevel basing materials to walk on.  That won’t be until after the Apoc game though, because I don’t think I have enough time to do it before…

EDIT: Jeff from Tibbs Forge was goodly enough to stop by and remind me of his blog as well.  During my research for this conversion, I did glean insights from him as well, but I just forgot to bookmark the link.  His blog contains perhaps the most detailed walkthrough available on how to convert and paint a Knight Titan–spread out over 37 posts.  If you’re looking for real insight on how to complete this conversion, you’re on the wrong blog.  You’ll want to go check out Jeff’s write-up: you’ll be glad you did.

Do those Knight Titan Legs Go All of the Way Up?

With an impending Apocalypse game as my inspiration, I needed to find something to work on for the game.  As I said in my previous post, I’m not exactly sure what army I want to play–but I am certain that I need to make some hobby progress, so I grabbed the nearest thing to me, an Imperial Knight, and started working on it.

My first issue was that I wanted to reposition the legs, so I delved into the depths of the internet for just how to accomplish that.  With a little digging, I found a blog series by Quindia Studios on how he used a jeweler’s saw to reposition his legs, so straight to Amazon I flew.  About $20 later and two weeks later, I wound up with a saw in hand and got to hacking.

Note: I say “about $20,” but if you know my blog, you can always go check up on my Frugal Gaming page to keep me honest.  In this case, it was $18.08.

Anywho, with the saw in hand, I got to work.  When I opened it, I noticed that it was very slimy, as if coated with fresh oil.  I found it unappealing and had to wipe the whole thing down before using it.  The saw blades that came with it were tiny and a little fiddly, but they worked like a charm.

I started by assembling the legs first, so that I would reduce the number of cuts by 50%–and that seems like the right thing to do, even in hindsight.  Cutting through the leg joints was amazingly easy, and I only had trouble with one of the knees (remember: I did two knights, so four knees total).

When I stayed focus, I could saw through a single leg in under a minute with relatively little issue.  The one time I wasn’t really paying attention though, the saw seemed to take an awful long time, and far more work than the other cuts.  Well, that was because I had inadvertently slipped the blade down the leg slightly and was cutting into the “gear” of the knee and not just the small crevasse.  Thankfully the blade is rather small and I’m not terribly picky, or this would’ve been a real problem.

Like in Quindia’s post, I used a spacer to cover the hole left in the leg and provide a little extra depth (not shown in the photo).  Sadly, I also ran into a problem with the ankle joints caused by repositioning the legs.  But more on that in another post…





What to Work on for Apoc?

With an impending Apocalypse game approaching, I really need to get off my duff and paint up something new for the game.   I don’t always make good hobby progress throughout the year, so I try to use Apocalypse games as inspiration to do a little something out of the ordinary.  Last year, I used it to paint up my Imperial flyers (see links here, here, here and here), but this time I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to paint.

Hell, I don’t even know what army I’m going to play!

Genestealer cult seems fun and I have much of the army painted–plus it’s relatively new in the grand scheme of things (and probably the first/only apoc game I can play with them that uses their codex–as it’s scheduled to be invalidated in June).   I don’t have them all painted (namely the abherrants, heavy weapons guys, and the HQ’s), but on the plus side, painting them all up is part of my new year’s resolutions for the year.  Then again, so are the imperial fortifications that I’ve been procrastinating on for years…

Tyranids are always a good fallback too, because I have so much painted.  I could dust off and finish my Tyranid Bastion (which is dire need of some love), plus I have a few extra Malanthropes (purchased specifically for Apoc).  So right now, I’m in limbo and don’t know what to paint.

So, I just grabbed something nearly at random and started working on it: Imperial Knights.

I’ve had one knight assembled and painted up silver lording over my board game/dinner table for the past three years or so, so he was the easiest thing to grab.  I also picked up two extra knights from a less-than-reputable reseller that could escort this guy.  My first thought: why not assemble those guys?

I’ve seen people who have armies of knights all in the exact same position and it looks rather dull.  The thing is that repositioning the legs doesn’t seem like the easiest thing to do.  In fact, from what I’ve found online, it seems downright convoluted.

When I pulled out the sprues, the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t going to be easy to cut the leg joints for repositioning.  I found a blog post by Quindia Studios that recommended using a Jeweler’s saw, which I picked up from Amazon for this purpose.  We’ll see what that’s like when it comes in though… until then, I should probably find something else to work on…

Apoc is less than a month away!