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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Works Raptor Assembly & Painting Part 1

Well it seems to be a very busy time of year in all aspects of life at the, personal and of course, Firestorm Armada. In addition to various playtests of the new v2.0 rules and the unboxing posts, I've also been progressing with the actual ships already unboxed. For me, that means the menacing Works Raptor.

So we've seen how their ships are sleek and stealthy, and I'm following that vein with a stealth-inspired paint scheme. That means after their wash to remove demould agents, and removal of any flash/mould pouring burrs (which are almost non-existant in my examples), they're straight into a matt black auto-primer spray base. This will form the base on which I'll then spray lighter shades of grey onto to create some illusion of depth, which is always the problem with a dark colour - it can look flat and featureless without some attention.

Here they are at the black primer stage;

Assembly also takes place at this point, as the recesses behind the stealthy armour panels should remain dark to artificially creae shadow there. Of course I don't want to have to keep re-gluing the panels if at all possible, so the first thing to do is scrape off the primer from the locations where I'm going to superglue them.

Assembly is a little fiddly, with the Interdictor inner shields proving most troubling (surprisingly - I thought the Attrition was going to be the most difficult). Still, with some patience and a little time, the fleet builds up pretty quickly. Here they are again looking like carved pieces of carbon!

Now onto the paint...first off I resprayed them with primer, to cover any nicks and scrapes and also to ensure a good uniform coating. The first real paint, however, is an overall airbrush misting of dark grey - this is the real basecoat for the ships and defines the deep shadow of primer mentioned above.

Then onto a mid-tone, sprayed centre-out on most panels.

Finally, a lighter grey sprayed in the centre of panels - at least three shades are needed for this kind of "flat" scheme.

After that, it's time for hand-brushing - first a dry-brush of the main hull and panels with a light grey to catch the edges, followed by another with white.

Now that's all done, the ships can be given a black wash to tie in and tone down the shading, and accentuate the deep panel lines.

Here's the process for the other ships, Corvettes first - the one on the right has just the first dark grey misting, the three on the left have the second airbrush shading;

And here's the Attrition;

Now the basic ship basecoat done, it'll be back to the airbrush for some glow on the power cores, drives and weapons...

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Hawker Industries Unboxing

When Spartan Games announced the Hawker fleet, I must admit I was rather envious of my son for supporting the Kurak Alliance, rather than my own Zenian League affiliations. The initial renders looked rather good, and judging by just about every FSA ship I've seen in reality compared to their renders, they'd look even better in resin and metal form. Anyway, it was inevitable we'd pick them up at some point, and as we have them now, here's the unboxing!

As usual, SG supply the Hawker Industries Alliance Fleet in a sturdy cardboard box with a glossy card sleeve, the front sporting a nice composition shot of the studio fleet ships. They do look rather gorgeous.

On the rear of this is a plan layout of the three ship types included in the box - an Excelsior class battleship, three Resolute Cruisers and four Endeavour Frigates. Their names remind me of sailing ships of the 18th century great age of exploration, which is somehow fitting for the traditional Hawker company. Anyway, time to look inside;

The box is quite full, and in the now-familiar layout of these offerings - the ubiquitous token cards and bases, the battleship, cruisers and frigates in bubble-bags and a little bag of metal bits. The space is filled rather well as the Hawker ships are not small!

The battleship is pretty much standard size - about mid-way beween a Razorthorn and an Apollo. Here is the main resin hull, together with its resin add-on parts, compared to a Manta;

Now the battleship would be no good if it didn't have a little extra protection, which is where the shield projector arrays come in....and there are a LOT of them!

The cruisers are single-piece resin castings, with cut-outs for six of the above shield parts each;

Again, they're coming out about average in cruiser mass, but they have a sizeable presence when you see them. Next up are the Frigates, which we can see here with our Manta again;

Now these are HUGE for frigates! A third again on a Pilgrim, and only about half the size of an Aquan Storm cruiser...small "Smalls" were obviously not in Hawker's remit!

Taking a look at the parts in more detail, they follow the recent trend in Spartan's castings - finely detailed, well cast and free from flash;

The underside has some visible printer marks on the lower spine, but these will be easily removed (without destroying deail elsewhere), and are also invisible when on the flight stand anyway, so it depends how much of a stickler you are as to whether you do anything about this or not.

Thecruiser is a lovely ship, possibly my favourite of the group. Looking at it's design, perhaps it was enterprising Hawker ships the pre-Dindrenzi Terrans were equipped with way back - the design isn't SO different! make it a bit blockier, don't add the shield emitters and install a rail cannon in the central hull...just saying, it could be how they got started....

Underneath the cruiser is just as detailed, another enormous quad-turret sitting amidships, and a tracking rader/sensor thing located under the nose.

The frigates don't look that inspiring in these photos, but are actually quite impressive, tying in with the design of the battleship especially well.

Looking at the underside, and of the overall shape, and there are definite hints of the terran here, which is unsurprising, Hawker being one of the Terran Alliance's main weapons producers. These metal castings are very clean - probably some of the best I've seen from Spartan, who aren't especially known for their metal (primarily due to them being eclipsed by their resin pieces!). Certainly they'll take less cleaning up than the shield projectors, which (as with the Works Raptor set) are going to take longer than everythig else put, where's that scalpel?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Return of the Terran Alliance Thorn Battleship!

Remember many moons ago when I was looking at an old Razorthorn I got in a set of ships in an ebay win? Well the poor thing has sat in a drawer ever since, unfinished and ignored...with all the recent stuff happening with v2.0 rules, I've neglected the hobby part of the hobby! So after seeing some conversions on the SG Community, I thought I'd get my act together and finish it....

I've changed where I wanted to go with this design several times, and decided to alter it slightly again, removing the fore greenstuff "island/bulkheads" and putting Sentinel-type turrets at the fore. The rear "castle" casemate I retained, and added further shrouded gunports. I added the same guns as on the port/starboard on the old turret mounts, with the exception of the top central(ish) mount, which is now arrayed with a Sentinel-type turret (on a small mount) plus four single turrets from the front of the Razorthorn.

Of course a good proportion of the model is now green stuff, and it needs a proper paint job, but I'm reasonably happy on how it's come out. I may even use her in an upcoming v2.0 game.... :-)

Monday, 21 October 2013

Kedorian Unboxing Part 2 - the next box!

Following on from the Support Fleet unboxing a week or so ago (which as you will recall comprises the Battleship and two cruiser/destroyers), I'm following up with the second Kedorian offering from Spartan, the Kedorian Alliance Fleet. This set sports the Carrier,  no less than 4 cruisers, and four frigates too. This is all packaged up in a carboard box with a lovely glossy outer sleeve showing the painted contents and some plan schematics as normal;

Inside the sturdy box is the now very familiar layout of bubble-wrap bags containing the sculpts, plus standard bags with flight stands and accessories. In addition are two sheets of tokens for my growing collection;

First up for a bit of examination is the Carrier, which is substantially smaller than the battleship (which in itself is the most massive vessel in FSA so far - bigger than even the Retribution!), but still pretty big;

Once again, in addition to the hull parts are the metal parts, and also the laser-cut acrylic;

The cruisers/destroyers are here again, but for completeness I'll show them again in case you didn't catch the first unboxing, compared to our Poseidon;

So, yes, they can be built as Zai-Dan cruisers OR Gai-Shar destroyers - the resin parts determine which variant you are building. Of course if you're clever and only have one set, you could magnetise these parts to give flexibility;

The parts that look like castles on the left are to make them into destroyers, the four parts in the middle are those used if making them as cruisers. The two resin parts at the right are used on the carrier.

In addition to the big sips are four diddly little metal frigates;

As we've come to expect from Spartan, the resin parts are all very cleanly cast, but the metal frigates have much more, especially in terms of the cental clear area.

Now the Kedorian battleship is HUGE, and the carrier is pretty big too, and just like the battleship, they are lovely castings with great detail and little to no flash or casting anomalies.

I won't go through the cruiser/destroyer hulls again, have a look at Part 1 if you want some close-ups. I can repeat, though, that they are equally nicely done, with almost zero casting flash.

As I mentioned, the Frigates have quite a bit of flash - they will need fairly extensive and careful clean-up, and will in all likelihood take as long to sort out as the rest of the ships in the pack put together. That said, the various casting "extras" don't impede the detail on the models, and shouldn't affect their look when finished.

That's it for this installment, next up from the Kedorians will be cleaning up and assembly ...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Kedorian Unboxing Part 1

Now after the Works Raptor unboxing of a couple of weeks ago, I'm following up with the first of two Kedorian boxes - The Support Fleet, which comprises the Battleship and two cruiser/destroyers.

I must admit that when I first saw the Kedorians, I was left a little cold...the idea of floating cities in space was not really my thing. However, when I saw them for real, it completely changed my perception of them - they looked awesome! The support fleet, with the Dei-Nak battleship, was definately the first port of call. The box follows the typical layout of the new Spartan Boxed fleets, a nice shiny outer sleeve covering a sturdy box protecting the precious contents;

So we have the ubiquitous token cards and bases, the Dei-Nak battleship, two cruisers/destroyers, a bag of metal bits, some resin bits and some laser-cut acrylic.

The battleship is enormous - here are the two main resin hull parts, compared to a Poseidon class;

That's a LOT of resin! In addition to the hull parts are the metal parts;

And also the laser-cut acrylic. I've bounced the flash deliberately here to give some definition to the edges so you can see them more clearly;

The smaller parts here are for the cruisers/destroyers. Here are the main hull parts compared to our Poseidon;

I mentioned these are cruisers OR destroyers - the resin parts determine which variant you are building;

The round parts on the left are those used if making them as cruisers, the ones that look more like buildings are to make them into destroyers. The centre two resin parts are used on the battleship.

The parts are all very cleanly cast, only the additional parts really having any flash to speak of. As for the main hull pieces, these are epic castings. here's the upper battleship hull;

As you can see there's almost no moulding flash here, and a tremendous aount of complexity and detail  -very nice for a single-piece moulding. The same can be said of the bottom;

These are gorgeous castings, make no mistake, and the sheer size of the thing is imposing to say the least. The only part of the models I'm not 100% sold on are the laser-cut acrylic pieces. Not to say they aren't done in a beutiful way, I'm just not sure of the flat, featureless nature of them. Having said that, we'll have to see how it all comes together, because when I've seen them built they are deeply impressive!

Next up are the cruiser/destroyer hulls. Equally nicely done, with almost zero casting flash.

So that's it for this installment, next up will be the Carrier, more cruisers and frigates from the Kedorians...