Monthly Archives: March 2008

Stupid Bitz Tricks #1: Cadian Parasite Zombies!

Here’s a silly conversion I did after realizing that the Adrenal Gland piece on the basic Tyranid Biomorph sprue looked an awful lot like a cross between an armored brain and a Facehugger from Aliens. I figured it’d be funny to do a parasite zombie that lurches around with a grenade in one hand.

I took a plastic Cadian figure, one of the “throwing a grenade” arms, and a grenade launcher left arm, and then set to work.

I glued the adrenal gland bit to the face of the Cadian, then cut the left hand off at the wrist so I could rotate it a bit, and filled in the gap between the helmet and the adrenal gland with Squadron modeling putty.

This conversion, in total, took about 20 minutes to do, from finding the bits in my bitz box to getting it all glued together.

Space Marine Dreadnought Review

Introduction

Okay, I just finished building my Space Marine Dreadnought, and it’s review time. I mentioned in my Space Marine Scout review that the Scouts were a little bit of a letdown in the plastics department. The Dreadnought, however, totally makes up for that and then some, because it was a fun build.

Box Contents

What you get in the box are 4 sprues and a pretextured 60mm urban base. The base has several cracked concrete slabs, rubble, bullet holes, spent assault cannon shell casings, and a cute little skull in the rubble. I don’t want to use it, though, so I’m going to be using a normal 60mm base instead. I think it also came with a sheet of decals, but I can’t be positive because I have zillions of these SM decal sheets.

There are too many parts for me to give you the usual “what’s on the sprue” section, so instead I’ll go over the included parts by body location.

Legs: The legs are composed of front/back halves with nicely detailed cabling, hydraulics and servos, two 4-toed feet, and 2 curved lower leg armor plates. The waist is almost a ball-socket joint, except a lot flatter, and so are the ankles. The armor plates glue to posts on the front of the legs.

Torso: Composed of a top plate, a front plate, a bottom plate, 2 side plates, and a 2-part engine/exhaust assembly. You glue the top plate to the front plate, then you glue the side plates into the recesses on the underside of the top/front plate assembly, and then you glue the bottom plate to this assembly. The engine/exhaust assembly is in front/back halves, and closes off the back of the torso assembly.

The last piece to add is the faceplate panel of the sarcophagus, and you have 3 cosmetic choices here: one with a Crux Terminatus, one with a winged skull, or a dorky looking “human skull on eagle body” panel. All three have a rectangular vision slit up top and a banner at the bottom that you can add the name of your Dreadnought to. I chose the winged skull because it looked cooler than the other two options.

Right arm: You get 2 choices-an arm with twin-linked lascannons in an over/under configuration, or an assault cannon arm, each of which is a 2-part assembly composed of an inside half and an outside half. The inside half of both weapons has a deep hole for the arm pegs on the torso.

Left arm: You get 2 choices here as well-a 3 piece close combat weapon arm with optional storm bolter or heavy flamer, or a 3 piece missile launcher arm. Both arms consist of inside/outside halves like the right arms. The CCW arm has a claw that glues to the front of the forearm, and the missile launcher has a front plate with the missile tubes on it. The storm bolter/heavy flamer options glue to the underside of the forearm, with their respective ammo/fuel feeds gluing to the underside of the shoulder block.

Note on the arms: The hole/peg mounting system for both arms is snug enough that you don’t have to glue the arms into place, and you don’t need magnets. If you don’t glue them to the torso, you can swap out the arms if you need to.

Optional parts: You get a 2-part searchlight, a 3-tube set of smoke dischargers that comes in 2 halves, a large Crux Terminatus icon that fits on the side torsos, and two purity seals. I used all of the options-the Crux Terminatus on the left torso, smoke dischargers up top above the sarcophagus, the searchlight over the left torso, and one purity seal each on the assault cannon/CCW arms.

I got some sprues from different lots, incidentally‚Ķthe one with the assault cannon arm, heavy flamer, smoke dischargers, and purity seals is in a much lighter gray color. The other 3 sprues and the bases are in a darker gray. This doesn’t affect the model in any way, and is just an observation on what I got.

Unlike the other boxed sets I bought recently, there’s no instruction booklet. Instead, there are 6 exploded assembly diagrams on the back of the box, which cover all of the included build options.

Build Notes

Assembly went well, with less cleanup required than the Terminators or Scouts. This is partly because of how several of the Dreadnought parts were sprued to minimize mold lines, and partly because I happened to get good sprues. However, the parts often go together in deceptively simple ways that could result in applying glue to the wrong place if you aren’t careful, so I recommend dry fitting EVERY part BEFORE applying any glue, and making a note of how the parts join. That way, you’ll know exactly where to apply the glue and where not to apply it. I know it sounds stupid and patronizing of me to say the above, but when you dry fit the torso parts, you’ll see what I mean with the whole glue thing.

Conclusion

The original metal Blood Angels dreadnought with the multimelta right arm and CCW left arm was one of the models that sucked me into 40k back in 1995. The metal ones were a pain to build sometimes, and I’ve accidentally dropped metal dreadnoughts more than a few times with painful cosmetic effects. The plastic model I just reviewed is a vast improvement over these earlier models for several reasons: it holds up to falls better, it stays together better, you get more options in the box, and it’s just a really nice model with a lot of pleasing technical greeblies on it.

Sizewise, this thing is squat and beefy. It’s over 2 inches wide, stands over 2 inches tall, and is about an inch and a half deep through the torso. It looks huge next to Scouts and tactical marines, and looks really nice with the new Terminators.

Also, I don’t know if this is representative of ALL plastic dreads, but there are a couple of small spots on the arms that you might want to fill with a little bit of putty to hide gaps. In my case, there’s a small gap under the assault cannon’s ammo box, and another one on the front of the assault cannon right below the frontal slope of the shoulder. These defects were only on the light gray parts, and I didn’t see any fitting issues on the darker gray majority of the parts.

Tyranid Warriors Review

Introduction

I ordered some extra Termagants from the Battle for Macragge set to replace my 5-colored painting experiments, 6 empty Vallejo paint bottles, two boxes of Tyranid Warriors, and a Space Marine Dreadnought. The dreadnought will get its own review later, and I’m gonna review the Tyranid warrior box here in the usual fashion.

Box Contents

Included are 4 40mm bases, 3 Warrior sprues, a biomorph sprue, and a monstrous creature sprue.

The Warrior sprue has 2 legs, a lower body/tail piece, 2 scythe arms, a set of deathspitter arms, 2 choices of upper head armor, 2 choices of face, 2 sets of 3 flesh hooks, a set of front/back torso halves, and a large Ripper. The 2 face choices let you choose whether you want the normal open jaws with tongue or open jaws with a barbed flesh hook tongue. The 2 head armor choices are basically different styles of ridged crests, with one being more elaborate and pointier than the other. You get 3 of those sprues per box.

The biomorph sprue includes another Ripper, 3 sets of Devourer arms, 3 sets of spinefist arms, 3 sets of 2 toxin sacs each, 3 adrenal sacs, and 3 small chitinous armor plates. You get one of these sprues per box.

The monstrous creature sprue has a set of Barbed Strangler arms, a set of Venom Cannon arms, a set of huge scythe arms, a set of huge grabby Genestealer-style clawed hands, a horned Ripper, and 2 larger chitinous armor plates. You get one of these sprues per box. The scythe arms and grabby claw arms are aesthetically far too large to put on the Warriors in my opinion, but the 2 heavy weapon options are useful if you like meatguns. The Ripper is always useful, because these things are too cute to resist.

Build Notes

All told, there’s enough stuff here to build a set of 3 Warriors and 5 Rippers. You get enough options to tool up all 3 Warriors with the smaller biomorphs, which is cool.

Warrior assembly is pretty straightforward. You start with the legs and the lower body/tail piece, which have a hexagonal male-female interface that makes correctly aligning the legs a snap. Glue that to a 40mm base. Next, you glue the front/back torso halves together, then you glue that onto the quasi-hemispherical protuberance on top of the lower body piece. Pick a face and a head, glue ’em together, then glue that onto the rounded neck post on the torso. After this, pick the arms you want and glue them to the torso. That’s it.

You also have 5 Rippers that you can put on the extra 40mm base included. I think 5 Rippers looks more swarmy than the old 3-per-base rule of thumb, but I plan to base all of mine individually on 25mm bases. Rippers are my favorite Tyranid model, just so you know.

Conclusion

The Warriors are pretty big models, and I’m particularly fond of how they look when you replace their lower arms with Hormagaunt scythe arms. They’re my second favorite Tyranid model after the Rippers, with the new Carnifex in third place.

Incidentally, this boxed set has convinced me that I need plastic zombies. Specifically, the adrenal sac things look like armored brains with half-length Facehugger-style legs on the sides, and I want to glue them to the head of some hapless plastic model, sculpt the rest of the legs around the head with ProCreate, and add a little strangly tail wrapped around the figure’s neck. What for? Tyranid mind slaves in Advanced Space Crusade!

Of course, now I need to figure out how to appropriately convert the WHFB zombie regiment to look more futuristic, because I like my zombies to look like awkward meat puppets.

Space Marine Scouts Review

Introduction

I ordered 2 boxes of plastic Space Marine Scouts, along with a giant pile of Tyranid Rippers, hive nodes, and infestation markers from the Warstore a few days ago. Service, as usual, was superb, and they arrived today.

I got the scouts, Rippers, and infestation markers because Advanced Space Crusade is another one of those games that I was feeling a bit nostalgic about recently. That game came with 15 of the old-fashioned mohawked plastic scouts with poofy slashy sleeves and 6 of the old-school plastic Tyranid Warriors.

I have the Warriors on order, and I was planning to use the infestation markers as spawn points for individually based Rippers because they look a lot like alien egg clusters. Throw in the 30 Genestealers from my Battle for Macragge and Space Hulk collections, and I’ve got a nice 3-tiered peon-goon-miniboss setup for the enemies. Anyway, that’s what I bought them for. On to the review!

Box Contents

The Scout boxed set contains 2 parts sprues, 2 4-base sprues, a sheet of decals, and a really rudimentary instruction booklet. The first sprue contains 5 sets of legs, 5 torsos, a heavy bolter with the right arm attached to it, a left arm for the heavy bolter, a bipod for the heavy bolter, a shoulder pad for the heavy bolter left arm, a heavy bolter ammo bag, six heads, and an assortment of extra pouches and grenades.

Six heads probably sounds like a funny number for a 5-man boxed set, but one of them is the sergeant’s head (it’s got a different headset and a Shouty Command Face expression), the other is for the heavy bolter guy (this one’s got a headset/eyepiece that looks like the smartgunner headset with eyepiece in Aliens), one’s got the Geordi LaForge visor dealie, and the other three are normal scout heads. The unpainted heavy bolter guy’s face bears an eerie resemblance to Tahmoh Penikett, incidentally.

The extra gear pieces go in 2 different body locations-there are 5 pouch/grenade bits that glue to the right chest, and there are 5 pouch/grenade bits that glue to the left rear waist. Two of those waist pouch bits have coiled rope on them.

The second sprue is the weapon/arm sprue. There are 5 right arms with bolt pistols, one of them being the sergeant’s special with Honking Big Scope and the other four being regular scout bolt pistols with scopes. There are 4 left arms with swords and a left arm with a chainsword for the sergeant.

There are 4 right arms with attached shotguns and 4 right arms with attached boltguns-both the boltgun and shotgun arms share the same left arms. The matched left-right arm pairs are letter-coded on the sprue, so be careful to keep them organized if you desprue them all at once.

There’s also a scabbarded sword, which presumably belongs to the heavy bolter scout when fielded as part of a boltpistol/sword armed squad. (This is how the metal 3rd Edition heavy bolter scout was sculpted, if I recall correctly.)

Build Notes

The instruction booklet was a bit lame, so it took me a minute or so to understand exactly how the arms are attached. There are 2 wedge shaped bits on the torsos-each arm has a matching concavity, and this forms a male-female connection that fixes the arms into their proper place.

The heavy bolter scout was a little annoying to assemble because the arms are actually posed holding the heavy bolter pointing upwards a bit, NOT pointing parallel to the ground like it shows on the box, so I thought I was doing something wrong for a while there. I ended up having to bend the torso a little bit forward and fill in the gap at the back to get the firing pose that I wanted.

The bolter-armed scouts were a little bit of a pain to assemble because the arms don’t really want to work together without some coaxing, and the junk on their belts gets in the way a little bit. You sort of have to tweak things around a little to get the arms to fit together neatly, and the main problem is aligning the left forearm with the left wrist on the weapon.

Conclusion

Once they’re assembled, though, they look better than I expected. Whoever painted the scouts on the box did a terrible job with the faces, making them look like some kind of albino Frankenstein’s monster clones with flabby chins. The unpainted models don’t look anywhere nearly as dire as the ones on the box cover, so that’s a relief.

Overall, I like these models. I’ve always been partial to scouts, and the 3rd Edition metal scouts were my favorite Space Marine models. They just sort of have this fun underdog charm compared to their power-armored brethren, I guess.

Zuzzy Terra-Flex Mat Review

Zuzzy sells roll-up latex gaming mats with sculpted surface relief:
I ordered a 36×36-inch version of the mat in the link above on the 11th. The confirmation email told me to expect a 1 to 3 week wait for shipping, so I figured it’d arrive sometime next week. To my surprise, it arrived today.
It comes rolled up around a stiff cardboard tube and a layer of foam padding, in a plastic sleeve. This, in turn, is shipped in a box. You’ll want to keep these items so you can store the thing rolled up.
I cleared off one of my work tables and lay the mat on it to see how it looked. It’s a very thin latex mat that lays totally flat, and is in a very dark gray color. The 3D detail on it is interesting-you can see rocks, dirt, fallen tree limbs, and other things like that all over the place. It looks so much better than a flocked paper or vinyl mat-the surface relief makes it look much more natural, so your figures don’t look like they’re fighting on a giant sheet of green sandpaper.
I was worried that the raised 3D detail might make it impossible to lay flat-bottomed terrain items on the mat, but the latex seems to have enough give that things can settle nicely on it. Even the cardstock landing pad I built the other day didn’t look obnoxiously out of level. I then took the unpainted Battle for Macragge lander wreckage pieces and laid them out on the mat for the sake of curiosity‚ĶI visualized the whole thing painted, and if the finished result even looks just half as awesome as what I saw in my head, then this mat is gonna be very cool to play on.
I was also half expecting it to be easily torn and a little flimsy, but it feels pretty strong. Now, I’m not suggesting that anybody stretch theirs out like some sort of exercise aid, but you can be assured that it’ll hold up to gaming pretty well.
The only issue I have with it doesn’t really have anything to do with the actual product itself-I’d feel a lot better if Zuzzy sent out tracking numbers or even just a courtesy “We shipped it today, expect it in 3-4 days” email, because OMG the local delivery drivers suck, and I’m always paranoid that my stuff is going to be misdelivered. (It happens a lot around here. In fact, UPS delivered my BSG Season 3 DVDs to our next door neighbor today.)
I’m really happy with the mat itself, and I’m looking forward to getting it all painted up. I’ll have to hit the Warstore’s webshop and order some extra Vallejo browns later tonight.