Kakapo's Cadre Redux

General discussions about the hobby side to Tau & 40K.
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Kakapo42
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Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#1 » Mar 14 2017 08:00

In Darkness, We Are The Light

The 42nd T'au Guards Cadre


Welcome everyone to this, my long-awaited return to 40k. It has certainly been a long time coming.

A long time ago, in a toy store far, far away, a 6 year old boy (at least I think I was 6 at the time, my memory gets quite fuzzy around that era, I might have been 5, but I'm pretty sure it was one of those two ages. Certainly no older than 6) happened upon a big shelf display of strange boxes. Upon them were pictures and artwork of all kinds of futuristic sci-fi vehicles and soldiers. The boy loved science fiction (and still does), so his attention was instantly captured. He examined some of the boxes, and was fascinated by the bizarre designs of their contents. He also noticed that they all shared a common name on the top - some particularly brutal and violent sounding name like Bloodconqueror or Battlegore or Warhammer 40,000 or something - and immediately wanted to know more about them. But he was informed by his parents that they were toys for older kids, and not meant for the likes of him, so he left the store without ever uncovering the truth behind them. That was the last the boy ever saw of those strange science fiction things, and the boxes with their weird science fiction armies faded from memory...

... until a few years later. This time the child, now 8, had dived into the world of computer games, and was browsing a shelf of them in a store just opposite where the toy store had been. One game in particular stuck out to him, and he picked up a copy for a closer look. It was called Fire Warrior, and it's cover artwork depicted a high-tech soldier sitting on a pile of skulls in an apocalyptic landscape. He was immediately enthralled with the artwork, particularly the cool looking helmet that the character was wearing with its glowing central eyepiece, and for a long time it was the number 1 thing on his mind. He thought about how awesome an entire army of soldiers like that one would be. A short while later, a schoolyard discussion ended up on this thing called Warhammer 40,000, which quickly started a discussion about who was picking what faction (not to collect though, but rather to play as at lunchtime - we were just kids in relatively limited income families, and this was in the days before everyone just sat around browsing the internet in their free time). Someone suggested Tau as a fit for the child, and after a puzzled response said "Fire Warriors" and the child immediately remembered the amazing artwork he had seen.

And ever since then the Tau have been my number 1 40k army.

I've always loved the Tau, especially in their first incarnation during the tail end of 3rd edition. They were my first army not just for 40k, but for any tabletop game, and to this day are still probably my favourite. Since I started I ended up amassing a sizeable force of them, painted to varying degrees of success as I worked on them to the best of my child level abilities, from around 2002ish to 2010ish. There work slowed to a crawl and then a halt as I shifted resources and energy away from army development in favour of an ambitious space program. For years afterwards my poor Tau army languished, with only a token effort towards modernisation in preparation for a couple of games with a guy living nearby that I discovered was also into 40k.

But that's all about to change. With the bulk of my space fleet now finished, I am embarking upon a truly massive rearmament program for the ground forces. When the dust settles, I aim for nothing less than a place among the ATT greats. Like the Tau themselves, I tend to think big.

But first, we're going to go back in time, back to when it all began, back across years and decades and social trends, back to the glorious bygone age of the early 2000s, and to this guy.

Image Image

A metal XV15 Stealthsuit Shas'vre (plus his faithful gun drone) - and the first Warhammer 40,000 model I ever owned and painted, when I was 8 years old.

This wasn't the first tabletop model I owned and painted. I had been collecting Lord of The Rings models in the form of the old Lord of The Rings Battle Strategy Game magazine series by DeAgsostini, (what a fantastic stroke of brilliance that was), but those were only ever meant to be a stepping stone to 40k, something to practice on until I got to the models I was really after.

Thus, I consider this to be the official start of my journey into 40k and tabletop games. He came from my first ever trip to a GW store, which in those days was conveniently located just downstairs from my optometrist at the time. I had been doing some research beforehand (read: spending hours on the GW and Forgeworld webpages ogling all the gorgeous Tau models displayed on there and ravenously devouring every scrap of information about the Tau I could find on there), so I already had a good idea of what my first model was going to be, the one GW kit (not Forgeworld) that had so far captured my admiration and imagination more than any other - a Hammerhead Gunship. Extrapolating from Forgeworld (which I did not know at the time was a separate subsidiary of GW and not usually stocked in stores), back when Forgeworld still listed normal GW kits on its website, I initially assumed that the Hammerhead would be a relatively small model no larger than a Rhino, and with a cost of around $25. You can perhaps then imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was in fact a massive $72 beast of a kit, which put it squarely in birthday and Christmas gift territory. This disappointed me somewhat, especially when my plan B - a Broadside Battlesuit - also proved to be out of financial reach at $55, but that was quickly forgotten as I started my first introductory game of 40k, commanding 6 Firewarriors against 3 Chaos Space Marines. It was a quick victory as I ended up shooting one or two to death and then beating the remainder in close combat with zero casualties sustained (I still have lingering suspicions that the staff member opposing me might have fudged the results somewhat to get me more enthusiastic about it), and then ended up walking out of the store with the models posted above after being allowed to get "One little thing" from the shelf of blister packs. My primitive childhood reasoning for choosing them was simple - I loved the Firewarriors (remember the Fire Warrior artwork that first got me interested in the Tau), so naturally when I saw a Firewarrior with a Gatling gun I picked him. I was wild with excitement when I got home and actually read the label on the blister pack to find that I was in fact now the proud owner of a Tau Stealthsuit - a Firewarrior with a Gatling gun, a jetpack, a robot sidekick AND he can turn invisible? Hell Yes! Even now I'm still very fond of Stealth Teams.

In addition to the Stealthsuit, I also went home with a Citadel Paint set, which went on to serve me well for over a decade - in fact I still use some of the paints from it to this very day. The Stealtsuit went through several changes in colour scheme over the years. You can see the colour scheme he was originally painted with on the gun drone, and it was a crude attempt to recreate the Fire Warrior cover artwork that was so compelling - my child logic was that I wanted an army of troops just like the one on the Fire Warrior cover, and that one was wearing yellow armour, and I had a pot of Sunburst Yellow from the paint set, so naturally I should paint my new models yellow, with some red optics. I then spent the next two nights lavishing Sunburst yellow on the two models until I was satisfied with the coverage. The end result can be best described as a pair of mostly yellow blobs, but I was still very happy with the results. This continued to be how the Stealtsuit looked until one day after school I suddenly thought to myself "You know what would look really cool? A gold Tau army! Think about it, an entire army of high-tech Tau in solid gold! Gold is cool and high-tech, and lots of cool ancient cultures had gold everywhere, and they looked cool, so I should make my Tau GOLD!"

It never occurred to me at the time that this would have resulted in my army all looking like C-3PO, so I rushed home and immediately painted all the Tau models I had at the time (3 of them) in a full coat of Shining Gold over a Mithril Silver base. I eventually converted most of them back to what would become the colour scheme I settled on, but this guy remained gold for a bit longer before I finally decided to get serious and painted him in the crude attempt to recreate the GW studio stealthsuits that you see today.

The Drone was lost down the back of the desk I did my hobby work on back then, and so was spared the many colour scheme revisions I made. I no longer remember whether the orangeish-tanish splotches were an attempt to paint over the yellow areas with Vomit Brown, or if I just put so much Sunburst Yellow on it that it ended up looking that way. There was originally a second pulse carbine on it, but that has since been lost to time along with the flying stand that I foolishly decided to glue it onto. Working without any kind of assembly instructions, I was confused about which way to stick the antenna on - I had faint memories of seeing it pointing backwards on the back of a Firewarrior box, but then seeing the artwork on page 60 of the Tau codex (which included a gun drone with the jetpack exhaust facing forwards and the antenna away from it) threw me off, causing me to end up gluing the antenna on the wrong way. You will be glad to know that I did not make the same mistake again.

At some point in the past the other antenna on the Stealthsuit's jetpack broke off. I think I might still have it somewhere, but never attempted to glue it back on again.

Now, let's come back to the present and see what 13-14 years of experience and progress (like learning to actually layer colours) can do.

Image Image Image Image

This is the first of my revamped Tau army, a Firewarrior test model. The colour scheme I am going with is the same one I attempted to recreate when I first started a Tau army - the classic T'au desert camouflage scheme. This project is to be a homage to and celebration of the old Tau army I first fell in love with as much as it is a renovation and modernisation.

Thus, the process I used was almost exactly the same one described in Codex: Tau, substituting in newer colours for those no longer available. I had originally planned to follow the process as described to the letter, but eventually found out (as I had already discovered when building my Wood Elves) that even the older GW painting instructions are a lot like the cooking recipes my grandmother used to share - an accurate general set of instructions, but they don't tell you everything you need to know, missing out one or two key details that are on the 'Evy Metal examples. To compensate I added an extra stage of highlights - Ungor Flesh for the armour and Steel Legion Drab for the undersuit, and applied the same process used for the Battlesuit mechanical areas on the darker areas of the gun and backpack. The other final details were relatively straightforward, and this is one of the very few models I've ever painted that I'm genuinely happy with - I still have trouble believing that the highlights and jewelling on the helmet were done by my own hands.

All in all, I'd say I've come a long way since the days when yellow blobs roamed the earth. Now to see what I can do with a full army...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

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Bloodknife92
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#2 » Mar 15 2017 03:58

You remind me of myself. My story follows the same progress, although I didn't start at 6, I started at 14 and did semi-ok paintwork, but when I returned to the hobby last year, I was blown away by my ability to paint. I had no idea where it had come from!

Your paint work looks phenomenal! I can't wait to see your T'au army painted up and on the table.
The days of goodly English is went

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Kakapo42
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#3 » Mar 17 2017 02:44

Bloodknife92 wrote:You remind me of myself. My story follows the same progress, although I didn't start at 6, I started at 14 and did semi-ok paintwork, but when I returned to the hobby last year, I was blown away by my ability to paint. I had no idea where it had come from!

Your paint work looks phenomenal! I can't wait to see your T'au army painted up and on the table.


Why thank you! The big breakthrough for me came a few years ago when I was starting to build my Battlefleet Gothic Tau fleet, during which I finally learnt to visualise paint schemes as three dimensional (before then I honestly thought that you just needed to lay down a colour evenly and it would magically look good, which as you'll see resulted in paint schemes that had good colours but were very flat and undetailed). That the last project I was working on was a Wood Elf army (so one of my favourite GW model ranges of all time, making it very high-stakes in that I absolutely HAD to get it right) may have also helped, in a sink or swim kind of way.

So, hot off the painting space, here is the second of my pre-production Firewarriors (out of a planned 4). This time I decided to use the bare head so I could practice painting Tau skin, and a pulse carbine so I could try out how the colour scheme looked on something other than a pulse rifle.

Image Image Image Image

I have never been able to quite master painting faces (one of the reasons why I love the Tau models so much; almost none of them have visible faces), and to this day it remains one of my weakest areas in painting. This one represents a quantum leap in my face-painting capability however, as not only is it one of the best ones that I have done so far, but it also marks the first time I have come close to successfully painting eyes.

During the buildup for this project, which took multiple years, I put a lot of thought into how I was going to paint the eyes on my bare-faced Tau. Most background material I've come across suggests that they're usually mostly black, with a bit of reflection or traces of colour. In the GW studio army the bare-faced Tau usually have their eyes painted red, which doesn't quite look right to me, but at the same time just painting them black wouldn't do it either - that would look like they had no eyes, just empty eye-sockets (or like they were possessed by one of the demons in Supernatural). The solution I came to was inspired by older Tau artwork in the first and second codexes, specifically the close-up of a Firewarrior's face on page 60 of Codex: Tau and the artwork of Shadowsun in the 4th edition Codex: Tau Empire. The impression I always got from those two pieces (and Tammy Haye's colour scheme on Aun'shi, until I looked a little closer and realised she had painted his eyes red too) was that the Tau eyes in them were reflecting goldey-yellow or pure white light, which gave me the idea to paint my Tau eyes yellow. I experimented with a few different colours for the eyes on this one, before finally settling on Yriel Yellow (or Golden Yellow - I still know and recognise the Citadel range by its older names) for the effect I wanted. I was a bit worried it might end up looking like my Tau all had Jaundice, but it seems to have turned out not quite as terrible as I feared.

I also experimented with leaving the backpack separate during painting. In theory, this would give me better access to a couple of areas, at the cost of increasing the number of painting sub-assemblies from 3 to 4. In practice it resulted in a lot of very awkward fiddling around for little comparative gain. I don't think I'll be doing that for the other Firewarriors, but then that's exactly what these test models are for - to find out what works and what doesn't.

Finally, I experimented with the undersuit on this model. The Rhinox Hide (or Scorched Brown as I call it - see above) main colour was drybrushed on rather than layered, and I tried using Mournfang Brown instead of Steel Legion Drab for the highlight colour. Here's the two test models side-by-side so you can see the difference for yourself.

Image Image

Personally I think I'm leaning more towards the Steel Legion Drab highlights, as I think they stand out and make the model 'pop' more. The drybrushing, however, was a definite success I think. It provided a close enough level of coverage to layering to be satisfactory for me, bur with much less fiddling around trying to see where all the folds in the undersuit were.
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Kakapo42
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#4 » Mar 23 2017 07:52

Right then, here are the final two test models.

Image

There weren't that many wild experiments this time, as I've pretty much nailed down the paint scheme I want. The main one this time was on the bases, marking my first ever use of a new basing element - tufts. Much like everything else about this project, I spent a long time beforehand thinking about what I wanted to do with the bases. The bulk of it was easy to work out - like the classic T'au desert camouflage scheme used in the 'Evy Metal studio army, I also wanted to emulate the desert/badlands basing theme that was used in it. This was pretty straightforward, as I conveniently already had everything I needed for it, but I decided that I also wanted something more for my army bases, some kind of little extra embellishment or doodad to really spice them up a notch, and decided that some grassy tufts would be just the thing (I thought my model bases needed tuft-ening up). This then resulted in a decision to use two kinds of tufts - one that was a very strong green to contrast with the more barren base colours and make the whole thing really pop, and one that was a more subdued sandy colour to enhance the overall theme of the bases and go more with the colour scheme on the models. Putting all this together would ideally result in a kind of Savannah wastelands look - something similar to the Badlands map theme from Starcraft is essentially what I'm trying to aim for here.

Image Image Image

The third test model isn't anything special painting wise. The main innovations with her were in the assembly stage, where I manage to refine my greenstuff skills to an acceptable level. I'm using only the older kits for the Firewarriors in my army, for several reasons of varying importance, which came with rather infamous mold defects on the leg armour. The obvious solution would be to reconstruct the deformed sections with greenstuff, which seemed simple enough on paper (the leg armour being comprised entirely of simple shapes and lines), but proved somewhat infuriatingly troublesome in practice. My original plan - to take an ordinary staple and bend it into the right shape to use as a press for the panel lines - fell through when I was unable to get it into the right size and shape (the shape wasn't too hard, but getting it into the right size was another matter entirely). So instead I tried scoring into the greenstuff with a needle, which had always worked before when I needed lines in greenstuff, but this ran into the problem of getting sharp corners - they would inevitably either come out curved (which didn't look right) or deform into one straight line. I tried making greenstuff molds from incact leg armour pieces, but they couldn't quite get the right pattern on.

The breakthrough finally came when, as I was going to bed after another fruitless night, my thoughts turned to the recent Disney film Moana. I thought about a brief shot in that where a character is getting tattooed and suddenly had a Eureka moment - I could simply tattoo the details on with a needle! I conducted a quick experiment the next day and the concept worked like a charm, although it was still imperfect and the sculpted leg armour came out rather wonky. But it was progress, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the problem had been too much greenstuff on the section, which was causing the detail to cave in and 'lip' when I pressed in too deeply with the needle. I tried again with another set of legs using a much thinner layer of greenstuff and the results were much better, though there was still some deforming towards one end (the moral of that story is never work with greenstuff in less than ample light conditions). But I considered it good enough to start painting with, and indeed it's far less noticeable now.

The other important breakthrough was learning to work with the leg armour sections, only using greenstuff on the middle area where the panel lines are supposed to drop down. Any missing panel lines on the sides of the armour were simply carved into the plastic using - very, VERY carefully - a razor saw (do not try this at home).

The tuft I tried out on her base is the current planned sandy-coloured tuft, a GW Mordheim Turf tuft. I doesn't look quite right to me, but I suspect that may be because I ended up squashing it while peeling it off the sheet and gluing it down.

Image Image Image Image

The final model is where things start to get more interesting, as she is a testbed for a number of tricks, mostly for the Shas'Uis that are planned. On the building side of things I tested out a new conversion. I want to give all the markerlight equipped infantry models in the army data-cables running from their helmet aerials in the same manner as the original 3rd edition Pathfinder (and Stealthsuit Shas'vre) models, because it looked awesome on them. Much like the component repairs above, this seemed simple enough in theory, as all I'd really need is two pieces of wire cut to the right length, bent to the right shape stuck together, with a little bit of strategically placed greenstuff to cover where they met the gun and aerial. Closer inspection of the 3rd edition Pathfinder models that I own revealed that there's also a small circular... thing... part-way down the cables at about chest height, but that seemed easy enough to replicate with greenstuff too. The trouble came in finding the right wire. I initially planned to use regular old 1mm wire, which is the standard wire I've used in every other hobby project so far and something I am now swimming in after buying a ton of it in preparation for this one. The 1mm wire however proved to be much too thick for the infantry models, effectively making it look like the Firewarrior helmet had tusks and blowing the greenstuff details all out of proportion. I desperately hunted around in local shops for something suitably thinner, before finally finding the answer in very thin Florists' Wire from the local flower store. It was available for a very reasonable price, and proved to be the perfect size for the infantry when I tested it at home.

Incidentally, while looking through an old White Dwarf copy shortly afterwards, I noticed that by a wild co-incidence I had - entirely independently - had done something very similar to one of Tael's Firewarrior Shas'Ui conversions, which also features a markerlight with data-cables (complete with a little circular bit). Perhaps great minds really do think alike.

Painting wise the model represents my first real attempt at the bane of any painter's existence - painting white. The only real experience I've had so far with white has been my Tau fleet, which just used very heavy drybrushes of Skull White (and later White Scar). This worked fine for Battlefleet Gothic models, but I had the feeling it wouldn't quite cut it for 28mm heroic scale models. I searched long and hard for an answer to how to layer white properly, but could find very little online. Eventually I talked with a painting goddess I encountered at the local GW store and she confirmed what I had already begun to suspect from squinting at examples of white 'Evy Metal painting (start with a grey and work up), and then pointed me in the direction of which colour I should use as a base. Conveniently, it was one I already had from painting the ATT orbital. Thus began the basis of my attempt at painting bright white on the scanner. starting with Fenrisian Grey (forever Space Wolves Grey to me) as a base and then layering it with a mixture of White Scar with a little bit of Fenrisian Grey, then highlighted with White Scar. It seemed to work out well enough for small details like the scanner, which is all I really need it for at this stage.

The bone white on the helmet and shoulder guard were an attempt to recreate the bone white panels in the old studio example Tau army. I initially tried following the driections for painting white helmets in the Crisis Suit painting guide on page 40 of Codex: Tau, but quickly ran into a problem with the main colour. The guide specifies that this should be a Skull White-Vomit Brown mixture, with a ratio very heavily Skull White's way, but my experiment quickly proved that all such a mixture would produce is a very light sand ochre (this might seem to you to be simple common sense, but I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt at the time under the reasoning that the old 'Evy Metal painters might know something I didn't). Thus I defaulted to an old method of painting bone white that I used in a couple of places on my hobby minions, starting with Ushabti Bone (which I actually had to physically stop myself from typing as Bleached Bone) and then highlighting with Screaming Skull and White Scar. It seemed to work out good enough, but I can't help but think I could get it closer to the studio examples by using a mixture of Ushabti Bone and White Scar as the main colour instead (of course, that would then raise the question of how to highlight it...). It also represents my first real attempt at painting Tau markings at 28mm scale. They turned out reasonably well, I suppose, but I can't stop thinking that they're slightly crooked.

The tuft used on this model is an Army Painter Woodland Tuft, which I discovered in a local hobby store and plan to use for the rich green tufts. The actual production infantry models are going to have the smaller size Woodland Tufts on them, but the sheet came with more medium tufts so I decided to use one of those for the test case.


Finally, here's the group together.

Image Image

All in all I'd say these tests have proven successful. This paint scheme is now approved. Full scale production: AUTHORISED.
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TauMan
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#5 » Mar 25 2017 07:42

Kakapo42 so that's where you've been? Wondered what you were up too. Wow, now I feel quite inadequate in the painting department! :-(

I remember going into a game store with my then fourteen year old twin sons and buying the Battle for Macragge starter set, and a blister pack of metal Space Marine Scouts. But I also picked up a single blister pack of metal Tau Pathfinders. I was thinking: "I use to paint miniatures back in the day for D&D, so maybe I'll try these."

5,000 points of Tau later I'm still buying more "Tau Stuff". And that's not counting my one son's 3,000 points of Raven Guard and another son's 2,500 point Ork army. I also have an Air Assault (Helicopter) Ork "Air Pirate" army. :eek:

Oh, well...I still have a few original D&D miniatures left, but they're almost as in bad shape as your XV-15 and Gun drone.

My Tau have gone through four different (but almost the same) paint schemes. At first I had a green colour for the undersuit, but when I decided on a tan/khaki I had to either repaint, or strip the paint off and re-paint. At one point I had to strip Twenty-four firewarriors with the Simple GreenTM treatment, and then totally repaint them. The Pathfinders and one squad of Firewarriors have been painted like "four" times now.

Looks like your doing right the first time.

Oh, and yes because I misread the side of a box of firewarriors, I skipped the terracotta entirely and went straight to Scab Red/Blood Red. So, back in fourth edition I was already painting my Farsight Tau all red. Okay, so shoot me, but I wanted them to match the Crisis Suits! :(

Paint Scheme:
[Old Citadel paint names here] Armour was a base coat of Scab Red (originally Terracotta) with Blood Red highlights. Under suit was a base coat of Tamiya Desert Yellow (German WWII colour) with a highlight of Reaper Desert Khaki. The undersuit was given a wash of what use to be called Devlan Mud, but the armour got a wash of Citadel Chestnut Ink. (Yes, I still use inks, even if I have to make my own!) The wash is dull (flat) and gives the undercoat a fabric effect, while the ink is semi gloss and gives the armour a glossy metallic look.

Do you use any washes? (I guess the Citadel term is "shade" these days). Use any inks?

Looking forward to seeing the completed army.

TauMan
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Kakapo42
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#6 » Apr 25 2017 01:52

TauMan wrote:Kakapo42 so that's where you've been? Wondered what you were up too. Wow, now I feel quite inadequate in the painting department! :-(


Funnily enough I often feel somewhat inadequate myself when it comes to painting. All too often I will look through a project thread on here and think to myself "Wow, if only I could paint like that," or some variation thereof. It also probably doesn't help that I am mercilessly self-critical - I could win a Slayer Sword and still not think I'm a very good painter. :eek:


TauMan wrote:Do you use any washes? (I guess the Citadel term is "shade" these days). Use any inks?

Looking forward to seeing the completed army.

TauMan


I do not use any washes - everything you see is the result of either layering or drybrushing (plus some layering variations like jeweling on lenses). I tend to make my colour schemes simple but effective, using a minimal number of different colours, sticking to well-practices techniques I know wherever possible. I tried experimenting with washes a couple of times in the past, but largely abandoned the idea as I could never get the application right and always ended up leaving 'coffee stains' on the model. The last serious use of a wash I did was on the first Explorer class starship in my Battlefleet Gothic fleet (where the 'coffee stain problem was solved by simply drybrushing the main colour back on afterwards, but after that I realised I could cut out the middleman and simply drybrush the main colour onto the undercoat for the same effect and never looked back), and ever since then the closest I've come to has been the occassional series of very thin watered down coats of a layer colour to smooth out blemishes.

So then, at long last I have finally finished the first unit of my new Tau army - a team of Firewarriors. I suppose it is only fitting that I finish a unit in a tabletop army on this date, being as it is ANZAC Day (if you live in the US, then it's basically the New Zealand and Australian equivalent to Veterans' Day) today.

I'm starting with Firewarriors for a number of reasons - they're one of my three favourite Tau models of all time to start with, and they'll be a major component of the finished force. Most importantly though, I always start a tabletop army with some basic infantry units - because you can bomb it, you can strafe it, you can cover it with poison, you can turn it into smouldering glass, you can consume it with eldritch extra-dimensional energies, but you don't own it unless your infantry is on it and the other side's isn't.

First, let's take another walk down memory lane.

Image Image

This is the first Firewarrior team I ever owned, I think I must have been 9 years old when I got them. I still remember having endless fun putting them together over an afternoon. At the time I was still digesting the shiny new 4th edition 40k rulebook (which still remains my favourite 40k BRB) that I had gotten for Christmas the previous year, and I had recently started exploring the Dark Millennium hobby section in more detail. Something that had particularly caught my eye while going through it was the sections on Kill Team (real Kill Team, with one player using a Kill Team and the other controlling Brute Squads and more references to action movie tropes than you could shake a machine gun at. Ahh those were the days) and Raid scenarios with sentries. In particular, I was fascinated and immensely inspired by the various conversions of infantry models showcased in the sections, and quickly decided to take a recurring passage from the Kill Team section to heart and make every model in my new Firewarrior team unique. Some were actually given specialised roles, while most were simply just normal troopers, but I gave each one a distinct personality even if it was only in my imagination. Much of them are now sadly lost to time, but I still remember a few of the more specialised roles.

You may notice that there are two Firewarriors in the team with white markings. The story behind this is that when I had finished assembling the team I then stopped to decide which one of them should be the team leader, using the only relevant and worthwhile metric there is to a 9 year old - which one of them looked the coolest! I had of course been naturally building up one in particular with an eye towards being the team leader, but when it came time to decide I was torn between that one and the one immediately next to it, who had ended up with an awesome action pose that I have never quite been able to replicate, much to my frustration. In the end I decided to settle the matter by simply painting both of them with white leadership markings, making my first candidate the Shas'Ui team leader and the alternative choice the team's second in command, a tradition that has carried over to all of my Firewarrior teams ever since.

This Firewarrior team also marks one of my earliest experiments with basing models. I had already read through the instructions in the 3rd edition Tau codex on how the studio Tau models were based (which I've been following for this new Tau army), but at the time it seemed rather complicated, and required paints I didn't have, so instead I simply went through the more basic method suggested by the Lord of The Rings Strategy Battle Game magazines I had also been getting a steady supply of, got a bag of flock (back when GW still sold bags of modelling flock) and began to apply it to the bases of my Tau models. Since it was already green, I saw no reason why it would not yield a passable version of the typical grassy field basing scheme commonly found. The end result was less than spectacular - my child motor skills and perception abilities proved insufficient for the task at hand, and the flock ended up being applied very chaotically. Ultimately I deemed it such a disaster that I avoided basing models at all until four years ago when I started my Wood Elf army (and used the simple innovation of finishing bases separate to the models to avoid getting any basing materials on feet and shins).

At the time I was (and still am, all things considered) awfully proud of this Firewarrior team. Now let's see how their successors stack up.

Image Image Image Image

Firewarrior Team Kais (as if it there was any doubt it was going to be called anything else after reading this thread) is my first new Firewarrior team in over a decade, though it is also a homage to the previously documented one and contains several throwbacks to it. Like the first team before it, I've taken the idea of personalising and special roles to heart and made the unit a sort of 'Kill Team lite', including several specialised members. Some, like the tech specialist and honour guide, have been carried on from the first team, while others, such as the demolitions expert and medic, are entirely new. Almost no component swaps or kitbashing was used to make the team - I am keeping conversion work in the army down to a minimum, because A) I already think the models look fantastic as they are and don't really feel the need to modify them too much, B) I'm looking at focusing more on getting the most out of the model kits themselves and pushing them to their limits rather than introducing lots of outside elements and C) it will make the major conversions I actually do really stand out that much more.

Thus, the only component used in this unit from another kit was the Shas'Ui's markerlight, taken from the new Pathfinder kit. I think most of all, more than anything, my favourite part about the 2013 6th edition Tau releases was the introduction of a readily available separate markerlight bit, and I have obtained an entire box of Pathfinders purely to harvest for markerlights for my team leaders (though other bits on it will be coming in handy also). It is a testament to the flexibility of the old Firewarrior kit that I was able to make all of the specialists that I wanted (5 in total) using only the parts contained within it. Plus a little greenstuff and a piece of sprue frame (and the ubiquitous florist's wire for the Shas'Ui's stylish data-cables).

The team also carries on the tradition of a Team Second painted with a white helmet and shoulder guard panel, now with an in-universe justification as a deceptive countermeasure against enemy snipers. It also allows me to split the team and field it as two units of 6 Firewarriors with minimal fuss if I so wish (I can also conveniently make both teams Bonded by simply including the honour guide in with the Second's group). Her pose is a direct reference to the first team's Second, though not an exact copy (mostly because I wanted that set of legs for another use), with the other major change being a worn helmet, as I am moving to the old 3rd edition GW studio Tau army's pattern of only one bare head per Firewarrior team. Even then all of the infantry models will have a helmet somewhere on them, as what I've read suggests that going into an active warzone without some kind of head protection is widely regarded as a bad move.

Painting wise it's nothing that hasn't been already shown on the test models, with the exception of the white panels on the Shas'Ui and his second. I experimented with them after the thought suddenly occurred to me that the erroneous colour choices listed in the 3rd edition codex's painting instructions might have been a typing/publication error (as they say, never attribute malice to what could simply be incompetence) and they really meant Bleached Bone instead of Vomit Brown. Thus, I tried a 3:1 mix of Skull White and Bleached Bone (that's White Scar and Ushabti Bone for you youngsters reading this) for the main white colour and was tickled with the results, which were much closer to the white on the studio models. The only question left after this breakthrough was how to highlight it, for which I used a 3:1 mix of White Scar and Screaming Skull followed by a final highlight of White Scar. The Shas'Ui also has a simplified pattern of team-markings on his helmet and shoulder guard, indicating his team is a 'tactical' Firewarrior Team armed with a mixture of pulse rifles and pulse carbines.

This update was delayed for a long long time as painting the team ran dangerously behind schedule. I had originally intended to get it finished before the start of the month, and was confident I would by using a production line painting method. The last army I worked on was a Wood Elf one for Warhammer Fantasy, where an overall production line was impractical on the plastic Glade Guard that formed the core of the army - units in Warhammer Fantasy are tightly ranked, and thus all the models in them must fit side-by-side, and since I was also working in sub-assemblies for maximum access during painting this meant I had to go through an entire unit one model at a time to make sure they all fit together when fully assembled (I tried keeping unpainted ones together with blu-tack at first, but that proved to be of little help as they kept falling apart or leaning over), and thus production line painting was only used for metal units. Since 40k units act in loose formation, this was not necessary, simplifying things considerably, however going through the entire unit in a gigantic production line quickly proved exhausting, and after two weeks I finally gave up and started working through it two models at a time. The end result has left me almost a month behind my initial planned schedule, and I fear the delays have meant that I will now never end up playing a full game of 40k at a GW store (unless they relax their policies on using older rules editions for games in there), as I will not use the coming 8th edition rules - I have already heard enough about them to know that they are not what I am looking for for 40k gaming.

Still, all in all it is a fine start to my Tau rearmament program. Now to give them some backup...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
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Tael
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#7 » Apr 25 2017 09:55

Great update and good to see the team moving forward. Been enjoying your commentary as well.

Have to say, missed doing so before, but the shoulder work on the Shas'Ui us great. Nice marking details.

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Kakapo42
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#8 » Jun 07 2017 12:47

Tael wrote:Have to say, missed doing so before, but the shoulder work on the Shas'Ui us great. Nice marking details.


Why thank you! It just goes to show what a difference three years of freehanding tiny Elven runes onto little banner flags can make in applying such details.

So then, much has happened since the last post. I had originally planned to update this thread last week, but never got a chance to. Having seen an opportunity to get at least a couple of games of not 8th in at stores before I'm prohibited (in GW stores at least - FLGSs may, perhaps, be slightly more flexible with using older rulesets), I've spent the last couple of weeks working like an Il-2 Shturmovik factory to get a legal force up and running.

This first meant a second troops choice, in this case my second Firewarrior team. I cannot stress just how much I love Firewarriors, and never want to see them change. For even longer than tabletop hobby, one of my favourite past-times has been Real Time Strategy computer games, and amongst them there is a special place in my heart for the Command and Conquer games (well, maybe not so much the more recent ones...), which were the first I ever played and remain some of my favourites to this day. A couple of years ago it occurred to me that this is an important part of my fondness for Firewarriors, as I can recognise their purpose instantly from those games - Firewarriors are the light infantry/rifle infantry/minigunners of the Tau, the basic soldier costing around $90-120 to make, and armed with a machine gun that's best against other infantry. They might be looked down upon, you might scoff at them, but when there's enough of them around they can chew through anything the enemy throws at them, and no matter what your plan is, whether you're conquering the entire map with the full tech tree or playing an infiltration mission where you have just a few guys and an engineer, they will always serve you well.

It's because of this that it always makes me sad when I see comments about wanting them to have stuff like organic special weapons.

Anyway, continuing the series on the history of Kakapo's armies, here is the second Firewarrior team of my first army.

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While the first Firewarrior team was from a Firewarrior box, this one was included as part of the original 3rd edition Tau Battleforce, which I received as a Christmas present one year if memory serves. The 3rd edition Tau Battleforce was fantastic, and to this day is still the best one GW ever produced in my eyes. Not only did it provide you with a fully functioning army straight out of the box (and a fairly well-rounded one at that), it also provided you with something else that no other Tau army deal ever included - a set of Jungle Trees. I found the inclusion hilarious when I first looked at the back of the box in a GW store, giggling over the idea of this impressive list of formidable troops and weaponry followed by "And a set of Jungle Trees" which seemed like a classic case of Arson, Murder and Jaywalking humour, but to this day I still think it was a stroke of brilliance; not only would a new player buying the Battleforce get the nucleus of their new army, they would also get their first terrain piece. This alone is why I still consider the 3rd edition Battleforce boxes superior to all their equivalents released since.

As I already mentioned in the last post, my early experiments with basing ended up something of a disaster in my eyes, so I swore off basing models for a long time. This team comes from that period, and thus are glued straight onto unadorned bases. I thought I had included specialists in this team as well, but it seems that I either gave them totally new ones that I have since forgotten, or never applied the practice entirely this time around. Either way they still all retained their own individual personalities and characteristics, though many have been lost to the ages. It also represents a step up in painting, as I now started to experiment with actually painting the scanner displays and Tau Empire badges instead of simply leaving them black.

Together with the earlier team, this formed the core of my original Tau army, and served me well for many years. Now let's meet their successors.

Image Image

Firewarrior team Lar represents the first painted Tau 40k models that I actually bought with my own money. The earlier Firewarriors that I've shown were all free of charge, as I won them as prizes in several giveaway raffles. There were several other units that I also won in this way, and these Free Men or 'Freebies' will be forming an elite core of my new Tau army. Thus, this new team represents the first mainline regular unit of the army, having come from a 6th edition Tau Empire Battleforce (which, though certainly a good deal, is still a pale shadow of what came before). Like Firewarrior team Kais, Firewarrior team Lar includes a full compliment of mission specialists, with the additional inclusion of a Designated Marksman (in Firewarrior team Kais the team's Scout is also the Designated Marksman, performing both roles). Again, conversion work was kept to a minimum, with the only real modifications (as opposed to just creative posing and assembly or crude greenstuff sculpting) being the inclusion of a markerlight and data-cables on the Shas'Ui and a spare helmet clipped to the Scout's backpack, created using the tried and tested method created by Tael and showcased both online and in White Dwarf #313 - incidentally the first White Dwarf magazine I ever owned, in case I never mentioned it before - with the only modification being to use a razor saw to remove the bulk of the head piece.

For the Shas'Ui I had originally planned to finally recreate the cool action pose I first created with the first team's Second so many years ago, after having finally cracked the secret behind it (a twist in the waist was the missing ingredient I had overlooked), but partway through assembling her I had a change of heart and instead decided to create an entirely new pose for her, which I suppose was only fitting given that this is a new army. It was an easy enough thing to do, with the only real change being to flip which way the pulse carbine was pointing. I find the end result just as impressive looking, and even cooler for being reminiscent of the Pathfinder artwork on pg. 2 of Codex: Tau which acted as some inspiration for it. The pose of original second team's Shas'Ui was recreated for Firewarrior team Lar's Team Second, positioning the two paired arms seperately. I think it ended up like that by accident in the original team (I remember I was trying to go for a generic action pose), but I decided to deliberately copy it this round after liking how it looked, with the arm positioning suggesting that he's reloading.

As much as I adore the Firewarrior models, I must admit that by this stage I was starting to get a bit sick of painting them. As I have learnt with working through over 64 Glade Guard models for my Wood Elves, even with amazing models you can still have too much of a good thing sometimes. Fortunately for me then, is that I won't need to paint up any more Firewarriors for the time being, as these two teams fulfil my minimum 2 troop requirements and minimum 1 Firewarrior team (which will always be a rule to me). But all armies need leaders, and so here is the first HQ choice of my new Tau army - my hard as nails Fireblade, Shas'nel'T'au Cal'Ka'Eoro.

Image Image Image Image

While I always liked the idea of a Cadre Fireblade as an infantry leader for smaller scale low-cost games, I never liked the GW model as it was, especially its rather poorly sculpted face. Thus, over the years I began to work out a plan for how I would convert and modify the model to my own needs. The first step was to replace the bare head with a much cooler looking Firewarrior helmet, which also had the advantage of giving the model a communications aerial. Since the Firewarrior sprue doesn't come with any spare head antennas, I instead sourced one from one of the Pathfinder kits I obtained, and discovered to my delight that it was the perfect size once the extra bottom piece was snipped off. The size of the helmet meant I had to remove the back intake, which was unfortunate, but when you think about it it was a pretty silly feature anyway (either it was an intake, in which case it ran the risk of sucking the poor Shas'nel's hair into the backpack machinery, or it was an exhaust vent, in which case it would spew piping hot and possibly radioactive exhaust straight into the back of the unfortunate Shas'nel's head) so I suppose I can live without it. I experimented with simply reversing the vent instead, but ultimately it was still a poor fit, so it had to go. The new head also required a little bit of greenstuff work to the body to ensure a good seamless fit.

Interestingly, I decided to make use of a spare helmet left over from my earliest Firewarrior teams, as I loved the 'old meets new' symbolism it would produce. It was a shock to see how much lighter in colour GW plastic used to be. :P

The next step was the bonding knife, which I always thought looked dumb being waved around in the air. I decided to replace it with a grenade hand, to make it look like the Fireblade was throwing a photon grenade. This was much easier to achieve, as the knife hand is separate on the Fireblade sprue, so all I needed to do was saw off a spare grenade hand from a Firewarrior kit and glue it in place.

It was at this point that I added an old Firewarrior bonding knife to the back of the model, trimmed to fit with her cape. I am not fond of the chunky bonding knives on the newer Tau models, much preferring the elegant slender bonding knives in the original Firewarrior kit, and so I will be using those for all of the bonded infantry models in the army. I also noticed that the Fireblade model has no spare ammunition packs on it, which I thought was rather silly for a soldier, so I added a couple to her backpack as well, taken from the Pathfinder kit and cut up to fit. I also added some photon grenade packs to ensure that all of the wargear she's equipped with is represented on the model.

The next stage was the most ambitious, as I reposed her right leg. While I found the original Fireblade's pose to be adequate enough, I became increasingly enamoured with the idea of bending one leg down more to create more of an action pose, climbing forward to lead an attack or bracing against an obstacle in defence. So it was that I cut up and reassembled the model's leg, reconstructing gaps with greenstuff. I had originally planned on reposing her other leg instead, reasoning that it would be easier to do as that one was a separate component, but after seeing that the right leg was already more forward I felt changing it would look more natural instead. I also planned to build up the base more to accommodate this changed pose, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the base would already fit if it was simply reversed.

The final changes were the addition of the ubiquitous markerlight data-cables and removing most of the Tau iconography from the model. While I can appreciate that Fireblades encompass a more spiritual side to Fire Caste tradition, I've never liked the Sigil Spam that's crept its way into the post-2010 Tau models. It always seemed to undermine their nature as pragmatists in my eyes, especially the chest logos that, as is often the case, just seem to scream out 'shoot me here'. So it was then that I carefully sliced off all of the Tau Empire logos on the Fireblade model except the shoulder guard badge, which should be more than enough to stir martial pride. Keen-eyed members may also have noticed that I've been shaving off and greenstuffing over the Tau logos on the infantry markerlights for similar reasons (and because I like the more utilitarian unmarked look better).

I painted up Cal'Ka in much the same way as I had originally envisioned, with the main details distinguishing her from the regular Firewarrior colour scheme being the use of advanced green optics and green markings to show her status as a commander. The only real deviation from my original plan was with the cape. From the start I wanted it to be double sided, as I had grown to dislike the all-white cape on the GW studio model - I can understand it's a cultural thing, white being the (modern) sept colour of T'au, but again a giant sheet of bright white like that had a bit too much of a 'shoot me' feel to it for my tastes, so I instead settled on a compromise where the inside of the cape would be white while the outside would be a nice practical neutral tone. The difference came in the detail - I had originally intended to paint more green sept markings running along the edge of the cape's inside, but my attempt at layering white over a large scale didn't quite work out as well as I'd have liked, so I decided against further details out of fear it would make that side of the cape look too messy. The outside facing of the cape had the opposite problem - I had originally intended to paint a three-tone camouflage scheme on it, but I ended up being so pleased with how the olive drab base turned out that I didn't want to add anything more in case I spoiled it.

Despite all my years of planning, one thing I never gave much thought to was her base, and I was left somewhat unsure of how to handle the Tau details on it. In the end I decided to paint them up in the whites and reds of the new Vior'la GW studio scheme, drybrushing the main colours on to give a worn and tarnished appearance, as a subtle take-that to the new GW - clearly the new GW studio Tau have failed, and it's now up to my valiant Shas to mount a heroic rescue!

It wasn't until everything had dried and been varnished that I suddenly noticed the new pose now left the model unbalanced, with the lower barrel of the pulse rifle pushing her over to the side. Thinking fast, I came up with the elegant solution of simply gluing a spare 25mm round base to the underside of the scenic base, providing just the right amount of ground clearance and making the base look extra-special.

With a minimum legal army now up and running I have also taken it on its first couple of outings. The first was to a multi-player game at a friend's house (using one of my test models as a Fireblade proxy, as it was before I had finished painting Cal'Ka), which I sadly never took any pictures of because I only realised I had forgotten to bring my camera when I was on the train over to there. I ended up getting tabled in short order (mostly because one of the other players was packing an all-flying monstrous creature Tyranid list, and no-one else had any anti-air units), but I ended up winning the real victory when someone commented that my models were probably the best looking ones on the table. :D

The second outing was a foray to a FLGS nearby, which I triumphantly marched into on their late-night games day... only to find that the minimum points level for that night was 1000pts, which I don't even have half of. Thus I was left to simply spectate on the other games happening, although I did spy a rather nicely painted Sisters of Battle army in use. Since my models never left the transport case, I never took any photos here either (I was planning to do a quick shoot on an empty table once one of the games was finished, but they packed away all the scenery before I could so I decided to cut my losses and go home to enjoy some birthday chocolate).

One picture I do have, however, is the entire force so far all together, arranged in parade formation because it's the only way to fit them all onto my limited photography space.

Image

There it is, the first core of my new Tau army, clocking in at just under 400 points with the 6th edition codex (if the Firewarriors are given EMP grenades). The next update will see the start of some background lore...
A Shas and a Kor walk into a bar...
Naked Metal

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Mon'von
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#9 » Jun 07 2017 06:24

I'm loving your ad-hoc Fireblade he is very well put together and your painting skills are a subject of envy, your warriors are looking very crisp and beautiful. It's a shame to here that your local store would forbid playing older editions my local are more than happy to allow 7th games, well at least for the foreseeable future anyway.
"Wyrd bið ful aræd" Fate remains inexorable

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Bloodknife92
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Re: Kakapo's Cadre Redux

Post#10 » Jun 07 2017 06:59

I'm blown away! I've been considering using a standard Fire Warrior head for a Fireblade for a while now, and after finally deciding to use the one included in the kit, you've gone and used the Fire Warrior one for your own, and I love it! It has less of a character feel than the standard head for my liking, but I love the individuality and the unique-ness that comes with it :) I hunted around for ages for pictures hoping someone had done just this, but alas, you're the first I've seen!
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