I actually managed to grab a week of vacation time over the Thanksgiving holiday, and miraculously we had 60+ degree weather for most of it. Given that it's not going to be long before we're deep in winter, I figured that it's time to get priming while the weather's agreeable for it. First on the block was my Realm of Battle board. My wife got a new bike that same week, so fortunately we had a big empty cardboard box that made the perfect priming setup for large flat pieces of plastic.
Besides the board, I also had the additions to my Chaos Marine army: the Bike Lord, the Chaos Bikers, the Autocannon Havocs, and some more Noise Marines. By the way, these Noise Marines were made with the new Finecast bits, and I can't begin to describe how much easier these were to work with than the old metal bits. I had a love/hate relationship with the metal Noise Marine kits, but these were all love. My only minor complaint is trying to get the arms lined up with each other and the body, but that's a fault with the design, not the material. If I ever needed to expand my Noise Marines further, I would buy another set of these bits in a heartbeat.
I also primed my Cultists to get them ready. I did hit a point of frustration here, though, and it's with how Dark Vengeance is packaged. Each squad is 1 Champ, 8 Cultists (either CCW/Autopistol or Autogun), and one special weapon Cultist. However, combine two of those, and you don't have a legal squad of 20 unless you count Champ #2 as another CCW/Autopistol Cultist... and one of the champs doesn't even have an Autopistol. I've got a tournament coming up this weekend where I'm using the Cultists (if I play; I'm the ringer to pad out even numbers), and I needed a legal unit of 20, so I ended up picking up one of the GW Cultist boxes after I'd done my priming... so I'll have one bare plastic Cultist (the shame; the shame!). Also, the Shotgun is crap, so I did an arm swap between the Champ and one of the close-combat Cultists.
And to wrap up all the 40K-ness, I also assembled and primed my Aegis Defense Line. A friend is lending me her Dremel, and I used it to deface the Aquilas off of the various barrier bits and the Quad Gun base. On the quad gun, I smoothed it down nicely to put a new Chaos marking on it, but on the ADL bits I just left the Aquila spot looking distressed and defaced to give it that "hastily defiled" look. Oh, and spikes were added, because it's Chaos. Can't have Chaos without spiky bits, right?
But that's not all, folks! I've also been branching out, and recently picked up the Viktorias for Malifaux. I'm still waiting on some Ronin and a Convict Gunslinger, but I got the twins and Taelor primed. I want somewhat more vibrant colors, so I went with a gray primer instead.
And finally, some models I'm just doing for an eventual display piece: 4 Darklands/Bane Legions Melusines, ordered from Maelstrom Games before that vendor imploded under the weight of their own debt. The manufacturer's sending me the fifth to make up for the one I never received. I have some special basing materials set aside for their display board, which will start out as a sheet of cork glued on a plinth, with square holes cut out for their bases. I'm wary of that totem staff, though; it's resin and very wobbly and fragile.
Between all this and my Black Templars, I'll have plenty of models to work on over the next few months!
A friend of mine new to miniature painting was having issues with painting metal models and asked me for help, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to describe my priming setup (especially since I just finished priming the first batch of my Black Templar army). The picture above gives a quick rundown of what I used in this latest batch of miniatures, and I have to say it's given me my best priming results so far.
- Priming sticks. You basically put double-sided tape on these, stick the bottoms of the minis to the tape, and then hold the stick about 8 inches from your spray can while you prime. From top to bottom, you can see the plain stick, the stick with tape, and a taped stick with miniatures. Always leave enough space to use as a handle. Unless you're using a really long stick (which can be unwieldy), you can usually get about 5 minis on a stick. Any more than that, and they'll be too crowded to get good coverage on all sides. Here, I'm using paint stirring sticks from a hardware store. Most paint departments will give these out for free, so grab a handful if you can. They're perfect for 25-30mm bases. For larger bases (for example, 40mm Terminator-sized bases), I prefer a wider stick. In this instance, I bought a yardstick and sawed it in half. Again, I can get about 5 larger minis on the stick. Anything larger than that (on a 60mm base, for instance), and I just hold the mini by the base while I prime. You can also use the stick for vehicles with flat bottoms, such as Rhinos and Land Raiders. With irregularly shaped vehicles, though, expect to be holding them by hand.
- Double-sided tape. For this, I found a double-sided mounting tape at my local hardware store that's rated for 2 pounds of weight - more than enough for all but the very, very largest minis. The tape was strong enough to hold a Land Raider upside down. To put this on the stick, just roll out the desired length, and cut it off with a hobby knife. Then peel back the paper and stick on your minis. To free your minis, you can just pull them off of the tape, but it's best to use your hobby knife to pry the base up from the tape, so as not to risk pulling the miniature off of its base and breaking it.
- Respirator mask. You're working with spray paint. You don't need to be breathing in the overspray. You don't need anything fancy; just something that will filter the air you're breathing.
- Rubber gloves. You want to avoid getting paint on your hands if at all possible. Not only are you going to be spraying near your hands, but with larger/oddly-shaped models, you'll often be holding the model in your hand and spraying the visible surfaces. This just makes post-priming clean-up much easier. You might end up with a faint ring of overspray near the base of the glove, but it beats having hands covered in wet paint. I chose nitrile gloves over latex because my wife's allergic to latex and I'd like to be able to touch her after priming without making her break out in hives.
- Primer. This is actually the least specific part of the set-up, because there's a multitude of opinions on what the best primer is. What's universal is that it actually needs to be a primer. You need something that will stick to the material underneath and provide a good painting surface. Ordinary spray paint won't do. Fortunately, there's a lot of different primers out there. Krylon, Duplicolor, Citadel, Army Painter, or something else - choose the brand and color (black, white, grey, or other) that fits your budget and preferences. I like Krylon myself, because it provides a good priming coat at a decent price. Whatever you get, use it around 8 inches from the miniatures and do short, controlled sprays. Try to prime when it's not too hot out, because otherwise the primer might start drying before it hits the mini, resulting in a gritty, powdery coat. With the heat wave that's been hitting us this summer, I've been doing my priming early in the morning. If you prime outside and use short bursts, you don't end up with a lot of overspray on the ground, and the air carries off any excess fumes and particulates. Set the stick down to dry once you're done, and in about 15 minutes you should be able to remove the models from the stick and set them aside to fully dry.
So, that's pretty much it on what I use to prime these days. The above set-up cost me around $35 from the hardware store, but other than replacing empty cans of primer it should last me through another army or two. It's a simple, easy investment that doesn't take much set-up time to use. In fact, I have tomorrow's priming already taped to the sticks and ready to go. Here's yesterday's batch, all primed:
The only tricky parts were the Land Speeders and the Venerable Dreadnought. On the former, I held the model by the sensor array on the bottom, sprayed the rest of the mini (thank goodness for gloves!), let it dry, and then turned it over in my hands and sprayed the sensor array. For the latter, I removed the arms and sprayed them separately, hanging them off of a pair of chopsticks. Once the body was primed and dry, I reattached the arms. Beyond the Templars, I also managed to get my Eldar War Walkers, Farseer, and Warlocks primed, and now the rest of the Eldar force is on the priming sticks and ready to go.