Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Post-Christmas Update

Hey everyone. I know I know, I haven't posted in almost a... *looks at last post*... in quit a while. It's that time of the year. You know the one, where your basic work load doubles, customers tempers fray needlessly, everyone is in a rush and everyone must get the answer/item they want no matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does. Or what the reality of the situation is. Oh wait, that's only if you work in retail. Yeah, for all of you who work in retail you know what I'm talking about. This time of year is harder then any other segment of the year with out question. And I have to deal with it. So that's why I haven't posted in several weeks. On a brighter note, all that work is paying off.

When I took my current position my department was ranked as 1106 out of the company with a total of 1116 spots. At that level there really isn't anyway to slip further down the scale unless you are honestly and sincerely trying to fail. That was 3 months ago. As of the beginning of December we were 221, and has of this past Monday, we were 302. Now that sounds like we're sliding back down, a fluctuation of 79 spots is very common with the department rankings. Our rankings are based on client and customer reviews that are submitted through an online survey. The client is presented with a series of 20 questions and a scale of 1 to 10. And then asked to rank how they feel we performed based on each question.

Of the 150-200 customers we deal with in a given week, perhaps 3 or 4 will actually take the survey. And of those 4, maybe 1 will actually think about their answer. More often the rankings are totally arbitrary and are all 10s or all 1s. So with 8 reviews with all 100's on the record, if we get a review that is all 1s, we just dropped from a 100% ranking to a 87% which can easily translate to a drop of 40 spots in the ranking. Imagine how much we drop if we only have 5 reviews and one of them is all 1s?

That being said, the new year is right around the corner. And with the new year comes new opportunities. I'm sure many of you have seen the leaked images of the new Dark Angle models. I'll withhold judgement until I can get my hands on the models and do a proper review of the kits.

As an aside, the digital camera I had been using for my posts is no longer mine to use. So for the immediate time I will be limited to taking pictures with my phone.

Though one brighter note. I got the audio drama "Horus Heresy: The Dark King/The Lightning Tower" for Christmas. I haven't had the chance to really sit down and listen to it just yet, but it did lead me to organizing my media library a little bit. Getting a rather nice collection aren't I?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Project Thunderhawk... in thunderbolt form

So I'm still working on the thunderbolt model. Updates are going to be rather infrequent for the next couple of weeks due to family, holidays and work. I still work retail after all and it's still the Christmas season. Thankfully, my company is not one of the ones who are opening Thanksgiving Day so at least I'll have some time to gorge myself on turkey and stuffing.

thunderbolt body

The body is largely complete. Between the 2mm thick sides and the resin filled belly this thing is shaping up to be very sturdy. Now I get into the really interesting stuff: Everything else. I've already made an ammo hopper:

ammo hopper for the Thunderbolt

I think I've got a solid start to it. As a means of expanding my skills rather than just build a second ammo hopper from scratch I'm going to try casting up 2 of these to use on the model. I'm also going to try the same thing for the engines but first I need to build those and in order to build them I need to wait for my order of supplies to come in. Well waiting... what a drag.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Project Thunderhawk continues... kind of

Okay so I'm continuing work on my Project Thunderhawk. And now I'm actually working with a Plasticard!

But I'm not building a Thunderhawk. Not yet anyway. Just as I did with the Shadowsword, I am making a divergent case study project for this next step of the project. This time I'm building a Thunderbolt Imperial Heavy Fighter!
Thunderbolt model from Forge World
Thunderbolt Heavy Fighter

About a year ago I found Eli Patoroch's library of Paper hammer templates and I was taken by the template for the Thunderbolt. Just looking at the template it's clear that the thunderbolt is a revertible Pit Bull of an aircraft. Stocky and solid, armed to the teeth. It's the Imperial Navy's answer to anything they want to kill. So I built that thunderbolt based on the template, with a couple modifications:
My paperhammer built thunderbolt colored in the crimson colors of the Red Dragon
The Rad Dragon Thunderbolt
 Obviously the biggest modification I made is the position of the wings. This particular model is the fourth paper hammer Thunderbolt I've built. When I built the original one I put the wings on wrong and didn't realise it right away. Later on I looked at the model picture on Forge world and noticed the fubar. But I like the higher mounted wings with the downward angeling to them.

I also added the pylons for 2 missiles, donated from a Valkryie kit. If you read the Datasheet for the Thunderbolt in the Appoc book, there's a mention of a Red Thunderbolt. That is where this paint scheme came from.

So now I'm embarking on a project to build one of these in plasticard. And I had to restart it cause the first model fell apart. And again because the second model wasn't strong enough to stand up to being handled. And for a third time because plasticard doesn't bend and flex the way paper and cardboard do.

So finally I'm on the fourth version of the Plasticard Thunderbolt!
The body of the thundebolt!

In this version I used 2mm thick sheet plasticard for the two large sections of the sides, and I built an internal frame out of the same 2mm thick plasticard. Then to enforce the structural integrity of it I fill the lower section with resin after setting in a piece of 1/2" pvc piping to act as a mounting point for one of Dragon Forge's Flight Stands.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cultist conversions

So I've been more then a little busy and haven't had the time to commit to some of my hobby projects that I would have liked to. For the most part I've been able to squeeze out a few hours a week recently. This has lead to slow progress on most of my projects and short and simple other projects. This is an example of the later.

I've gotten my hands on nearly 100 cultist models from the Dark Vengeance starter set. So now I've got 400 points worth of cannon fodder/tar pitting/pain in the butt units to throw at my enemies. Yaah for me. I have 400 points where every 5th guy is identical... boo. So I've been working on converting the models. Not extensively, but enough to break up the uniformity of the models. These conversions consist largely of minor head and hand swaps but I think they meet the bill. Some point in the not-too distant future I hope to go back and fill in some gaps with green stuff.
Converted Chaos Cultist with a spiked mace and autopistol

Chaos Cultist, converted with a simple head swap

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

converted Chaos Cultist

Thursday, November 01, 2012

still alive

Okay, it's been a helluva couple weeks but I haven't been totally inactive.

First and foremost, my father built a case for some of my tools. This case had originally been intended for my computer tools for work. However, it turns out that I'm prohibited from bringing my own tools to work. So I had this great case, and no immediate use for it. What do I do? Convert it for use with my hobby materials of course!
my new tool case
my new tool case.
The case has three foam inserts that I cut out spaces for the respective tools.
the top tray of my new tool box
The top tray houses my 'most used' tools, and these include my hobby knife, extra blades for it, my razor saw, the files, tweezers, and sculpting tools.

the middle tier of the case.

The middle tear houses my green stuff, milliput, ticky-tack, glues, magnetic probe, and accelerent.

 Finally the bottom teir of the case:
the bottom tier of the case
the bottom tier of the case   
The bottom tier houses an assortment of clamps, hole punches, my utility knife and my caliper.
So now rather then having the majority of my tool shoved hap-hazardly into a drawer I have a nice case with individualized slots for many of my tools.

I've also been experimenting with resin casting and mold making. Remember that Thunderhawk I'm working on? Yeah... rather then build 4 weapon mounts, 2 separate engines, 2 pilots seats, and an assorted over pieces multiple times... I'm looking into the process of making one master version of each type of part, making molds of the master and then casting the multiples of those parts I need.

I haven't gone into the mold making yet but I've been experimenting with pre-made molds, I have acquired over the years. I've made several groups of rocks that appear to be useful as base material.
a resin cast rock
It's a rock, Jim.
 One thing I am considering is modifying a future casting to include space for a AA battery pack and thus use it as the base for a model that will use LEDs to light up in some form.
If I space it properly, I think I can make it work:
comparing the size of a AA battery to a rock casting.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kit review: HelDrake Part 1

Initial thoughts:

HelDrake box art
The HelDrake has been a model I’ve been dreading and dreaming of since I first heard of Chaos getting a “Dragon” more than a year and a half ago. The idea of a Chaos dragon is an enticing one, and combine that with 40K Dark Goth... well the idea of it is enticing to no end. But then I have to remind myself that this is a GamesWorkshop kit. GamesWorkshop has historically not shown to be terribly great with dragon models (The current Dragon models being the departure from this). So… we’ve got a company that’s making a mecha-dragon who has repeatedly shown itself to be largely hit or miss with making Dragon models that is going to be making a chaotic mecha-dragon… I really don’t know what to think.

So when the HelDrake was released there was no question about my getting it if for no other reason than to see how GW went about creating a “Chaos Mecha-dragon” . One thing I am going to be very upfront about is the base. I AM NOT going to use the Games Workshop flight base. I have used it on 3 other models even going so far as to modify my HellShrieker design to make use of it. And I am utterly and completely fed up with it. No matter what I’ve tried the base is only a so-so option for mounting the flying models That come to prevalence in the last couple months.  Instead I am using the 6” flight stand on a scenic base purchased from Dragon Forge Studios.  I’ll be honest, if you’re going to be building a flying model I highly recommend spending the $14 to get a base and flight stand from Dragon Forge. It will be $14 well spent. 

So, let’s get started. 


I purchased the HelDrake the same time I bought the Fiend model, which I reviewed previously.  I opened the box, and much like the Fiend and Storm Talon models I was depressed at the relatively large amount of empty space in the box. Even in the relatively shallow box, the vast majority of the model occupies less than ½ the inner space. The one and only  part that rises above that line is in fact the flight stand and even then that’s because it rests atop the other parts.
A shot of the HelDrake parts in the box showing the ammount of dead space in the box.

The model itself comprises 2 sprues. Unlike the Storm Raven model the part density is fairly high and I didn’t feel cheated on that point. It honestly does feel more like a real model with real options to it.

Construction: Day one

So I unboxed the model and washed the parts to remove any mold reside. As I stated I am absolutely refusing to ever make use of the GW Flight Stand if I can possibly avoid it. So that was the first thing I had to attend to. So I took a piece of ½” PVC piping, tested it’s fit with the acrylic rod and was happy to find it fits rather well. I quickly cut off a piece about ¼” deep and using a lump of green stuff and some superglue attached the improvised mount to the inside of the body. Using a combination of hobby knife and files I carved out the hole for the mounting rod. Since I’m working with green stuff, I need to let it dry so I went to work on the other part of the body.
I decided to mount the body on a 6" Flight stand rather then the crumby GamesWorkshop flight stand. Here you can see the PVC piping I installed in the body to accomidate the flight stand.

One thing I do have to give GW credit is numbering both the instructions and the parts on the sprue. After dealing with the Fiend model this was a welcome change of pace.  However, the early instructions for building the body are somewhat unclear with details. I’ll show you why.
The instructions show attaching the first set of wings to the main body:
the instructions are somewhat unclear about placing the winglets as it makes them appear to be lined up with the edge of the body.
The winglets are actually meant to be free floating relative to the body.

But the parts themselves look somewhat different then the illustrations. The instructions make it look like the edges of the Wings line up with the edges of the body. Looking at the parts themselves you’re left wondering if you’re building it correctly. I finally had to resort to going to the 360 spinner on the Gameworkshop site to see what that showed. The model image did show that these wings do not  actually line up with the edges of the body.

Now I’ve worked with Green stuff enough to know that when I need to wait for it to dry properly before I move on with it. And that’s what I need to do now. Leave it to set over night. So that is exactly what I did. When I returned to it the next morning the green stuff had hardened pretty well and I was able to assemble the central body. I don’t know why, but seeing the model at this stage just kind of tells me “This would make a great conversion for a Disc of Tzeentch!” I’m not sure why or what else would be needed to accomplish it, but there is that mental note for you to chew on.

So far this model is looking to be a decided step above the Fiend kit. Firstly, the instructions are a lot clearer. It’s amazing how the addition of numbers can make that work huh? The second thing is how cleanly the parts go together thus far. Excluding the winglets alignment question there’s little question about if a part has been assembled properly.

I must confess to feeling a certain air of mystery while building this kit. Unlike the Fiend, where you could already tell where everything was going to go by step two, the HelDrake is much more involved kit with many parts working on top of one another. There’s a lot of “How does become that thing on the front of the box?” about its construction.