Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dreamforge Leviathan Crusader

I'd pre-ordered a Crusader from Dreamforge a couple months back and it finally came in today! :D

It is a seriously impressive beast, the box doesn't seem all that huge but once it was opened I was like holy crap this is a seriously cool and complex model. It has me drooling but it's honestly a bit intimidating to see so many parts. At about 9.5 inches tall it's a huge model and comperable in size for Forge Worlds 40k warhound titan, but IMO a much better kit as it's more poseable has as much or more detail for a lower price than what a FW Titan would run. (pre-order price was $295)

It's not a cheap kit but it's totally worth the price given the complexity and detail of the piece. While many kits are just resin models, this one is made from Grade A Pure Win ;)

Casting quality is quite good, there's a couple oddly colored pinkish pieces which stick out since most all the parts are a light grey tone. It's not an issue as once primed the original part color doesn't matter. I know Mark was having some issues with the caster's lax quality control so those are probably pieces he personally cast in order to get the kits completed.

I spent all day downtown in Chicago playing battletech so I haven't tore into the kit too deeply yet, I took pics of the bags of parts but the battery died out on me before i could upload them, grah.

So in the meantime I'll post some of Mark's blog pics for reference and I'll get my own up as soon as the battery is recharged. The parts are pretty much exactly as shown on his blog, so it's definately a solid kit.

Friday, July 15, 2011


The Hatamoto-Chi is by far my favorite Draconis Combine mech. Afterall how how can you get much cooler than a giant metal samurai?

The name is an extension of Hatamoto which in japanese means "banner man" or what we'd commonly refer to as a standard bearer. There's also a second meaning which means "under the banner" in a political sense or association with the Shogunate party. Hatamoto's were usually mid to high  ranking lords within the samurai class and the title was considered to be prestegious and a posistion of great honor.

According to Battletech game fiction the name was given to the mech due to a fin like heat sink on the mechs back that reminded engineer of Sashimono or back banners that samurai often wore into battle. It's a fairly small part on the model that doesn't really seem all that impressive and it's not depicted in the art despite the prominence it has in creating the mechs image and name.

Here is a more recent rendition of the Hatamoto-Chi done by David White for the Strider's Strikers fan site

Needless to say I absolutely love this piece. It has a much more streamlined look along with the addition of a katana for close combat to further the samurai image.

Close combat weaponry like the swords are only a minimal advatage in Battletech, but regardless of game mechanics they are quite imposing and I think really enhance the style of certain mechs particuarly those of the Combine. A large portion of the samurai culture centers around the sword as it is the embodiment and expression of a warriors honor. That is what inspired my latest miniature conversion.

The sword I designed in 3d and had printed, which I used as masters for being recast in resin. They were originalled scaled to be used with 28-32mm infantry, but the larger two handed No-Daichi sword was a good size to be used for the larger Hatamoto-Chi. When scaled vs the mech it'd be more akin to a long katana than a true no-daichi.

Here's a render of the various swords I had printed ranging from a small wakazashi (short sword)  katana, no-daichi, to the largest which is an orge-daichi. Not an actual sword but named for something an orge magi (or giant) would use.

A real world No-Dachi was a fairly rare but very imposing weapon. A standard katana is about 3-4 feet in length depending on the weilder's preference and what style of hilt is mounted on it. Meanwhile a No-Daichi is a monsterous 5-6 feet long. Many japanese of the period were not much taller than 5 ft so the sword was often longer than the samruai was tall and in some ways was more like a pole arm or spear than a sword..

Toshiro Mifune wields a No-Daichi in the Seven Samurai, which is by far one of my favorite movies. It's an excellent period piece, but Kurosawa's films are also a huge peice of film making history as he's inspired thousands of directors, most noteably George Lucas. Lucas worked with Kurosawa and borrowed many of his directing elements when he made the original Star Wars trilogy. The Seven Samurai is one of the best films ever made and I often sneek in references to it in my work. 

As the Hatamoto-Chi now has a pair of much more appropriately sized banners I'll be using using one of them for my seven samurai tie in. When painted it will incorperate the banner/standard that the seven samurai create as their symbol during the film. It's most prominantly shown flying victoriously over the town at the end of the film prior to the shot flowing dramatically to the graveyard of swords.

I always enjoy small details and background elements like those on my miniatures or in my artwork as it creates a deeper subject even when other people might miss it entirely.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tommahawk 2.0

The Battletech Warhammer is my all time favorite mech, known as the Tomahawk in Macross and Excalibur in the Robotech series. Whatever the name it's going by it's just an awesome design.

As I already have the destroid legs built for the Rifleman/Defender it was a simple cut and paste to add it to the Tomahawk. I finished blocking out the torso and arms, I'm currently at about 5-6 hours of build time. It's been going much faster than the previous mech so I may have it finished up within another day or so.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Next 3D Project (untitled)

A couple months back I'd commissioned some concept art from David White who illustrates for some of the TRO books and has a pretty cool website  

Currently the piece is untitled as I'm still working on a cool name. It's not a Battletech mech but rather a design I'm working on for my own system and I will be producing a miniature based on the design. The game of course will be centered around giant smashy robots.

Updates will follow as the project progresses. I shoudl have the Rifleman finished up within the next couple days and then I can get rolling on this badboy.

Rifleman 2.0 (Rebuilding the Rifleman)

One of my all time favorite Battletech mechs is the Rifleman. Known as the Defender in the Macross series, or the Radar X in Robotech. As with many of the old school mechs from Battletech's first release the miniature was an exceptionally good sculpt considering the standards of the time and even holds up fairly well even 30 years later.

Sadly it's long been discontinued due to the FASA/Harmony Gold suit, and finding old models on ebay is always a pain. Typically the ones you do find are missing arms, which I largely blame on the poor connection joint at the shoulder. Those that do have arms are often severely bent or damaged. I've cleaned up some of my old models well enough to use for casts, which will allow me to repair several models that are missing parts as well as fill out an extra lance.

I've also been working on 3D models for the last several months and slowly building up my skills in order to make prinatable objects. I've had some successful results with some weapons and parts done for 28mm scaled models, so I decided to try my hand at a larger complete model. I started modelling up a Rifleman on Maya as it would not only allow me to print it out on the standard Battletech scale but also scale it up appropriate for N scale use as well without having to craft two completely seperate models.

I started the project about a month and a half ago, most of the work was done in the first two days. I got the arms and the torso hammered out quite quickly but then got sidelined with visiting family in CA and I just kept stalling on the model. I finally got the motivation going over the weekend and did the lower body. It's not 100% complete yet as there are still details on the rear of the model that need to be addressed. Total time is somewhere around 20 hours of work.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Creating the Daishi Widowmaker

Of the Clan Omnimechs the Daishi has always been my favorite (followed closely by the Masakari), The name in Japanese meaning "Great Death". I'm a huge samurai fan so it's natural that I'm drawn to House Kurita. While The Daishi is a clan mech Jade Falcon and Kurita have a long history of conflict and at least one has been captured by the Combine to be studied and replicated.

The No-Daichi/No-Daishi is also a two handed great katana wielded by notably by Toshiro Mifune in the Seven Samurai and also the ronin Dairya in the legend of the five rings game. An imposing weapon used by indomitable men who answer to none.

One of my favorite variants is the widowmaker, decent ranged weaponry but truly fierce at close range due to the powerful ultra AC-20. Such an epic machine needs a fitting miniature so I started piecing the widowmaker modifications together. (pictured next to an unmodified version)

A few minor details are still needed before this heads to paint. Mold lines need to be removed and medium lasers will need to be added to the torso, but otherwise it's about 90% done. I'm planning to paint this a dessert camoflage pattern, and likely with DCMS marking as it will represent a captured Clan Falcon Daishi. 

I also converted a second Daishi, no particular build in mind I just thought the parts fit together well. MadcatII legs and weapon arms from a Blood Asp (I think)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kickin It Old School With Battletech!

My love affair with Battletech started way back in 1986. Pooling a meager allowance and paper route money I eventually scraped together enough for a city tech box and I've been hooked on gaming ever since. Other games have come and gone but I've always gone back to Battletech as the system is so much more strategic and has a great balance to the system.

Inner Sphere vs Clan tech always has it's ups and downs but whenever I can I play old school 3025 as old tech just can't be beat. That's the game I cut my teeth on and while some things have been expanded and improved nothing beats stepping back and playing the game in it's original form. 25 years and the game is still king of the mech games, they did something right.

Keeping things oldschool has it's price however, with the break up FASA and Ral Partha the majority of old mechs are out of production and with Battletech's ressurgance of late the old models are hard to find and often go for a king's ransom on ebay.

I've salvaged what I can of my old collection but many of them have seen better days. As a kid I bought my minis to play, and to a 12 year old a shoe box was a perfectly acceptable storeage case for them. Nowdays I use padded cases and guard them carefully as though they were made of glass but the ancient mechs bear the scars of both love and abuse.

Those that aren't covered in dents and flat spots have been carefully cleaned in preparation of my 3025 rebuild project. Basically I've decided to either rebuild, recast, or re-aquire the entire 3025 line. The kid that's inside me still marvels at the casting process, my mechs were a symbol of sweat and toil as every one of them was earned and thus worth it's weight in gold to me. I now have the ability to reproduce any parts at whim, yet whenever I pull a new batch of parts out of the pot it still seems almost magical. Like a kid walking into Willy Wonkas factory I get a rush everytime and I almost don't even know where to sart.