Lord of the Iron Hills: Dain Ironfoot for Middle Earth!

“I always found Thorin the more reasonable of the two…”

Dain on his so-called ‘Rocket Sausage’ and on foot. They are both mean models, but fun to paint!

Dain Ironfoot! What a character. In the books he is a typically stoic dwarven lord, coming to his cousins aid during the bloodless Siege of the Lonely Mountain. But, despite my many issues with the Hobbit film trilogy, casting Billy Connolly was inspired. He added a certain roguish charm to the character, perhaps a little too bloodthirsty, but certainly memorable.

When I bought my Iron Hills many years ago, Dain Ironfoot was a major purchase. He is an expensive ‘Character Series’ model, and came in a special box and everything. With such a pedigree, a certain hesitance came when it was time to paint him. One does not want to mess up a very expensive and gorgeous model. And he is indeed riddled with small detail, all cast in sharp relief.

But, I’m slowly learning that painting doesn’t have to be to anybody’s standard but my own, and given the massive momentum I have going painting my Iron Hills, Dain Ironfoot was going to have to be painted. While I have my preferred version of him now that I have the ‘Old’ Dain, King Under the Mountain, painting this Lord of the Iron Hills version will give me many options when I go to play.

Lets see how I got on!

First up, the mounted version. I painted the boar first, and almost messed up right away by painting it light brown! Luckily I saw a picture from the movie and course corrected right away.
I painted his snout a brighter colour then a lot of people, just to add a lot of contrast.
His saddle is full of beautiful embossed detail.
I can’t harp on enough about how cool the saddle is!
In contrast, the body was actually easier. I made sure to paint his beard ‘tusks’ nice and bright. They are a stand out feature of his face.
His base is rather simple, but I added a flower tuft for some visual interest.
From the front, a view my opponents will hopefully see a lot. He’s not perfect, but I’m happy with him.

Now his foot model actually looks a lot like the actor, so I had to work really hard to maintain that detail. He wasn’t particularly difficult to paint to my very firmly tabletop standard, with the exception of the face.

On foot, Dain is almost just as dangerous. He has discarded his helmet.
I’m pretty bad at highlighting, but I highlighted as best I can on his face. The ‘tusks’ remain present and had to be nice and bright.
His back was a dawdle though, simply being a very nicely detailed but easy to paint fur cloak.
His warhammer I painted red, but I found painting the detail on it beyond the skills of my shaky hands, so I left it that colour. I still think it looks cool!

With this centerpiece model done, that simply leaves 15 Iron Hill Dwarves. 3 of those are the separate pack they sell with optional shields, meant to be used as dismounts for the Goat Riders. I was planning on fielding them as spear-dwarves, but a look at my army list told me that I was distinctly lacking in speed. A single set of 3 Goat Riders would actually help me with objectives, so I’m holding those 3 dwarves in reserve as dismounts now. Of course, with the Goat Riders being quite dear in price, that will have to wait for a little bit.

12 Iron Hills Warriors is not an insurmountable obstacle to paint, and so I will press on and get them done in short order. I cannot wait to paint King Dain, and will feature that when he gets done as soon as I can! I’ve seen some beautiful models painted already, so lots of inspiration in the wild for me to draw from.

And with that, a lazy Saturday’s painting is done! I hope you like him, and if you have an critiques I’m all ears. Happy War-gaming wherever you are. Yan√Ęd Durinul!

Du Bekar! Yet more Dwarves for Middle Earth!

To Arms! The Iron Hills army grows!

14 more Durin’s Folk for the Battle of Dale. Its all coming together…

I’ve been a very busy hobbit today. As I don’t have much to do during Lockdown, I decided to get another Iron Hills warband done!

I’ve talked at length before about the Iron Hills models, but I must say if your a newcomer here; One, great models with loads of detail that I’m definitely underselling with my paint job, and Two….don’t glue the shields on! By Durin don’t! It makes them monumentally harder to paint. But, a little perseverance goes a long way, and I slogged through and got them done.

Lets take a closer look!

A mighty block of shields indeed! Not much will want to charge this head-on!
As before, nothing too fancy. The shields honestly paint themselves with a wash.
With this many spearmen(spear-dwarves?) I’m definitely set. I could use more mattocks and crossbows…
They look pretty decent, but again a more experienced hand could probably elevate these models. Still, I’m happy with them and that is what matters.
A lot of similar poses, but differing the beard colour helps. It does mean they rank up quite nicely…
This Captain doesn’t want to remain in the shieldwall, he wants to get stuck in!
A simple cloak marks his rank, along with his helmet. Other then that not much distinguishes them from the rank and file armour wise, which I like. This is a professional army.
The banner has…interesting embossed detail. I definitely prefer the other design, but this looks okay too.
And with a shield he can stand in the ranks and not break Shieldwall, which is nice.

Another 14 Dwarves done, which means I have 28 battle-ready! And boy, do they look the business when all ranked up together!

Add in a block of mattocks and crossbows and this will be a nasty force to fight, even more so then it already is!

I almost wish they were on square bases to rank even closer together…

Now, this morning I posted a product review of the new ‘Old’ King Dain that will be leading the force, alongside his son Thorin III. But I wasn’t pleased with the good kings base, being just a boring 25mm base. So I fixed that in the most traditional way possible; I stuck him on a rock!

A small rock will paint up to be a much bigger rock. Sure, King Dain is a bigger target now, but he leads from the front, even at his venerable age.

This caps off a very busy hobbying day for me, with helping my friend get his blog off the ground and my review this morning. But I think I have earned a break…I say as I eye the rest of the ever-shrinking pile of unpainted dwarves…

I’m in the home stretch now!

There is always more hobbying to be done, and I cannot yet rest upon my laurels until this batch is done! One final effort, but I may leave younger Dain for a day all by himself. He is a very nice model.

Anyways, that is the last of what I got for today! I hope you enjoyed the read! Leave a comment if you liked what you saw, or have any criticism. Happy War-gaming wherever you are on this good (Middle) Earth of ours, and have a great day!

Captain of the Guard: Irolas for the Middle Earth SBG!

“It is as Lord Denethor predicted! Long has he forseen this doom!”

Captain of the Tower Guard, ready to defend the Steward of Gondor, no matter the cost.

Most of the models I paint for the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game originate from the books, but not all of them. This is one of those examples. Irolas, the Captain of the Citadel Guard is one part Film creation, and other part Games Workshop fitting the character into a role that needed filling. Beregond, the main Tower Guard soldier in the books, didn’t make it into the film, which is unfortunate because his relationship with Pippin is so wholesome.

While Beregond exists as a model, and I will get to him, Irolas is a beautiful Forgeworld sculpt. He comes as part of a two-pack with a re-sculpted and updated Denethor model, and was the part of that pack I was most excited to paint. His stoic pose perfectly matches the older metal Citadel Guardsmen, and he will look great leading 12 of them in my games.

The yellow trim is something you see a lot of on the Games Workshop Citadel Guard, a pragmatic adaptation of film embroidery to something more easily applied to a model. I might get a paint pen down the road to add a little detail to the trim down the road, but as it stands I do not have a small enough brush nor the fine motor control to do so as of yet.

He wasn’t an especially difficult model to paint, with the exception of his face. I decided to give him a bit of stubble, and that took a little while to achieve. Again I eschewed painting eyes, but his face seemed to repel the wash and it took a while for it to finally settle.

Lets take a closer look!

The yellow trim was tricky to paint with my shaky hands, but I gave it my best shot.
His armour was done much the same as I would do any of my Minas Tirith warriors, and was nothing too special. Much of the model is enveloped in a nice cloak, so I focused my attention on that and the face.
While not intentional, I do like the ‘tired’ look he has. Denethor can be a handful! As well, I like to imagine that Irolas is losing sleep because of the great battle that will soon take place, and is running a bit ragged at this point out of fear and doubt. *I have since touched up his glove.
Some simple shading brought out the depth in the cloak, and the yellow trim gives it a bit of pop.

Irolas was a fun model, painted in a few hours while chatting with friends online. I have managed to convince one of my friends to play, and I’m looking forward to getting some games in post-lockdown. Between my Minas Tirith and Iron Hills armies I have a tough, dependable force no matter which I choose. I might restart work on my Mordor force to have an opposing force ready, or start on my Easterlings.

Well, that is all I have more today. A nice short and sweet post! I’ll have more for you in the coming days. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

To battle, Sons of Durin!

As I mentioned in my last post, I did a joint Forge-World order with a friend recently. Weirdly, and something I didn’t expect, I didn’t actually want anything 40k related at the time, as I felt I had everything my army could possibly use. That left Lord of the Rings. Now, as a massive fan of the book, the Hobbit movies didn’t impress me. It didn’t feel as quality as Lord of the Rings, and felt like a cash-in. However, I did enjoy the Dwarves, as we didn’t see much of them in either the books or the movies of the Trilogy.

GW have over the years, tried their hand at making Dwarves for the SBG, and while some units I think look fantastic, such as the character models, Vault Wardens, and Khazad Guard, the others looked very generically fantasy, very safe and I was never really drawn to them. It was clear that since they only had Gimli and the dwarves at the council of Elrond to draw inspiration from, they hadn’t put as much time into it as Weta did for the films, and it showed in the generic nature of the rank and file models.

When the Hobbit movies came out, I was initially very happy with them, despite the changes made, and this was mostly because Weta had finally been able to turn their incredible talent towards Durins Folk, and the culture and style finally gave GW something to work with. The Warriors of Erebor kit, and the Grim Hammers, look awesome, and feel very true to the movie materiel (if not the books, where plate was unheard of, and everyone seemed to wear mail armor). The other two movies didn’t impress me though, and with the game dying out anyway, I didn’t invest in Dwarves at the time. Cue Forge World.

Forge World took over the Middle Earth SBG around a year after the Battle of Five Armies release, and they took the chance to bring out possibly my favorite depiction of dwarves in fiction, Lord Dain Ironfoots Iron Hills warriors. Now, that it a statement I make with some hesitation, as I am NOT a fan of Dwarven cavalry, especially not goats and boars! But the rank and file dwarf, armed with a broad shield and long spear, really captured my imagination. I was delighted when Forge World brought them out, but knew it would be a while before I got any.

I finally got my chance with this order, as with the free shipping over 150, I could really make a solid push to get what I need to play them properly!

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Absolutely crisp, with barely any clean-up. I still washed them, just for good measure.

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A couple bendy spears fixed with a tea-cup of boiling water, and presto, one shieldwall of angry dwarves!

I also got the command. You see very little of the captains in the movie, even in the extended cut, but Weta had done the groundwork, and Forge World took the next step. The banner is seen in the movie, however briefly, and looks fantastic on the model, and has detail embossed on it, which made me very happy! Gamling with his royal standard of Rohan remains unpainted to this day, simply because free-handing that banner is sheer madness!

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Amazing detail on both models!

All in all, I’m very happy with my new Dwarves, and while the plate armor is a definite no-no book-wise, I plan on fielding a force as true to the source material as possible. I’m making an exception for the spears, as they look fantastic, and the Ballista isn’t stretching the idea too much, but I will avoid using the Goat ram-riders, and Dain will be marching on foot! I’ll have placed a second order for another 12 warriors, Dain, and the variant 3-dwarf spear pack. As Dain can now lead 18 models, my captain can lead the rest, and I have a solid little force! I need one ballista to bring it to a competitive level, but that can wait. I have both the Battle of Five Armies and the Battle of Erebor during the war of the ring in mind for this force, and to that end I’ll be converting up an older version of Dain Ironfoot, with his famous red-axe!

Until next time, may Durin watch your back, and Du-Bekar!

Into the Mines!

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Not the best paint job, but they’ll do for a demo game!

So its been a while! I’ve found myself with more time off, and the Clubhouse is letting me run a demo game for the Middle Earth SBG! I’ve always found the easiest and most fun scenario to learn with is Balin’s Tomb, from the fellowship, as you get your heroes fighting impossible odds, and almost every basic rule gets covered! I’ve long had the Fellowship set, back from the Mines of Moria release, but the models are frankly not great, full of soft detail that is both difficult to highlight and shade easily. A much better painter can make the sculpts work, but I can’t do them as well, so I decided to just bang them out in a sitting, so I could carry on!

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“You have my sword!” I painted this years ago, and it shows. I just tidied it up and tried to make it look less terrible. I failed. But, I have many poses of Aragorn, so this will do in a pinch!

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“You have my bow!” A bit better here, I painted this today and it shows, its a lot cleaner and tidy. Still a terrible sculpt though, and I look forward to doing a better Legolas model.

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“And my Axe!” Not a bad job here, could be better but looks like a good Gimli to me!

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“If this is truly the will of the council, Gondor will see it done.” I love Boromir, and this is actually the best of the models in the set. Didn’t do it justice but I’m very happy with it.

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“I will help you bear this burden.” Not a terrible sculpt, but my hamfisted earlier painting left a lot to be desired. Like Aragorn, I just tidied him up a bit.

This leaves just the Hobbits, a difficult task but it will prepare me for the masses of goblins required for the scenario!

For those who are hoping for some 40k content, my Clubhouse is starting a Kill-Team Campaign, and I’ll be posting batreps from that. As well, my friends are coming up for a game, a 3000pt slugmatch, which I’ll be sure to take many pictures of!

Until next time, may the grace of the Valar protect you!

 

Theoden rides to war!

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“Ride for ruin, and the worlds ending!” I hope I even slightly did the sculpt justice.

I know I said I was going to work on Khamul, but I haven’t yet figured out a way to make the mask look convincing! And since the Theoden model was so tempting, I decided to get it out of the way to encourage me to keep up with my Rohan backlog.

I primed in grey, which made the layer of ulthuan grey go on fairly well, and it is a convincing white I think, and the rest of the paints went on easily. The armor proved to be a challenge. Most of my paints are Army Painter, and I lacked something darker then the barding, which I did in oak brown, but not being black. A mix of matte black and oak brown in a 1-2 ratio did the trick! On one hand it might be hard to replicate, but since Theoden wears such bespoke heirloom armor I figured it was worth it. The gold inlay took a fair bit of time with my shaky hands, but I painted late at night when my nerves are typically at their best!

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A terrible picture for showing off, but a cool pose that all the Morannon Orcs will see thundering at them!

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The detail on the shield was hard, but worth it.

I did the foot model at the same time; This is good because in the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game a model can either dismount or have the mount shot out from under them, and you need a model for both occasions! Luckily Snowmane( His horses name) will usually run away so I don’t need a third model for that, since Theoden is molded on and would be tricky.

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I actually really enjoyed painting the foot model, almost as much as painting the mounted version!

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I chose to use the helmeted head, to contrast with my old, helm-less model that I’ll use at Helms Deep.

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My suspicions that a wash would work really well on the sharp detail was correct, and made the scale mail really pop!

All in all, really happy with it. It is weird, once I stopped trying to compare my painting with everyone else’s and painted simply for the joy of it, it has stopped being a chore, and is now something I look forward to! If now I could conquer my hobby butterfly tendencies I might get something done. Sure, it won’t win any awards, but it looks good on the tabletop and in front of my Riders of Rohan will look sharp!

Until next time, Forth Eorlingas my fellow hobbits!

 

A Sword Day! A Red Day! Ere the sun Rises!

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DEAAAAAATHHHH! I will not apologize for my excitement!

Today was a good day. Theoden’s riders rode through the night to my local gaming store,(although, local for me in my rural area means an hour and a bit, roughly!) The Giddy Goblin in Hanover, Ontario, and delivered the Pelennor Fields box-set! Unfortunately, in a situation happening globally, demand has outstripped supply, and while most GW locations have received their Armies of the Lord of the Rings rule-books, the Goblin, as a local retailer, didn’t get theirs on time. But, that barely dampened my enthusiasm, as seeing Lord of the Rings kits on shelves again was a day I never thought I’d see! I did buy a box of Haradrim Raiders on a whim, as I didn’t have any.

Most of the box has been seen before, and if your anything like me, has been thoroughly spoiled on Youtube anyway. But like everyone else, the detail on the Theoden miniature floored me. The pictures, painting in the typical GW style, don’t do it justice, and make it a bit too “bright”, if you know what I mean. This isn’t a slight on them at all, after all I paint like an Ork on seventy-five cups of coffee. But the realistic scale of the model takes to a more subtle approach.

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A bit too stark, if you ask me!

In the flesh however, it looks amazing, and feels true to WETA’s original vision.

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A really dynamic and action filled pose!

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The detail on the barding and shield is crisp, and should take well to a wash!

Even the foot model looks amazing!

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Don’t have Theoden with a helmet and a shield, so this is a nice addition.

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They even put the double-fuller on the sword! Never seen that on the metal models I think!

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The shield is, again, gorgeous.

I’m really happy with it, and its a great return to Middle Earth, after almost 10 years without a release(barring the hobbit stuff). Once my rules arrive I’m going to play a few games, see how the game it-self has held up. The rest of the contents are things everyone has seen before, and since I already had a Witch King on Fell-Beast, I’m going to try my hand at converting my new kit into Khamul the Easterling, one of the named Nazgul. I’ll post as soon as I make progress on that front. I do need to pick up a can or two of primer to basecoat my models, so painting will take a bit to get started.

And, as I need a Lord of the Rings based send-off, Forth Eorlingas!

 

Medic! And a sneak peek at next months big project!

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40k Battlefield Medicine; Or, how getting killed in one go is probably better then getting that in your arm!

Another day, another Vostroyan done. This medic is for my command squad, and while the medics aren’t terribly useful he looks fantastic, and thus has a place in my army. He is younger then most of the other veterans in the command team, and his mustache has yet to grey with age. I might revisit him in the future, add a few more details, but when one has 80+ Guardsmen to finish, that’s a problem for later. I’m finding the vostroyans actually fairly easy to paint, as the amount of sharp detail in the cast takes really well to shades.

The plan is once I get to the Infantry Squads is to do them in batches of 5, that way it should only take 2 days per squad. I’ve never batch painted before starting on my kill team, so I’m fairly new to it as a concept, but after getting the Catachans fully painted and played them, it felt GOOD. Playing with a painted squad was awesome, and now imagining a whole army has really been a shot in the arm motivation wise.

But, the Vostroyans are by no means the only project I’m working on. The Vostroyans have been my focus for the past half-year…the big project has been something I’ve been working toward since I was 12!

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This scene still gives me goosebumps.

40k was not my gateway drug into war-gaming. That honor lies with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game! As a young boy watching these movies was life-changing, and the game was actually surprisingly popular with kids my age in my hometown. A trip to a Games Workshop got me the Warriors of the Last Alliance box( my confusion as to why there was all these “Space Marines” and “Empire State Troops” all over was hilarious in hindsight), but honestly I had no idea what I was doing until my folks got me the Return of the King starter box.

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Many a good time was had in this box of wonders!

To my 12 year old self, being able to fight the battles of Osgilliath and Minas Tirith was an experience I’ll never really forget, despite getting half the rules wrong. Many a battle was fought on the living room floor, and many an Orc was badly painted. I even got a box set, I forget its name, but it had a massive amount of Good forces, and it felt to me like my own little mustering of the Free Peoples.

It was the beginning of a journey that still continues to this day, despite my focus shifting away from it as popularity of the game ebbed and finding people who played it became harder and harder. 40k took hold after it became apparent that people had forgotten all about the good ole LOTR SBG. Soon, Guardsmen replaced Warriors of Minas Tirith, and that which should not have been forgotten…was lost.

I made one very good decision during this dark time, when it seemed GW had forgotten us. I kept everything. 40k Armies came and went, but my little(but growing!) stash of Lord of the Rings models lay just out of sight, occasionally coming out for a quick jaunt in Balins Tomb, but the big battles of yesteryear were a distant memory. As more models disappeared from the webstore, my trips to ebay to find recruits for what I thought was a dying game was a weekly habit.

But, unknown to me, there were some that resisted. Things like the Great British Hobbit League kept the torch alive. Eventually, I found out that I was not alone! And with the Hobbit on the horizon, everything looked great!

Then came bitterness. It started well, new plastic kits! A good starter box! But, it came at a cost; Finecast. Casts that were amazing in metal became flash ridden, horribly fragile miniatures. Swords that once could be bent simply snapped off. All at a massive mark-up in price. It helped that the movies weren’t as good, and I felt less need to keep up.

I, along with many other people awaited the inevitable. A long wait, with an answer we already knew. The game was dead.

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But like the quest of the Ring, from such dark times did hope arise! Forge World, Games Workshop boutique line took up the torch, and while the Lord of the Rings left shelves, new miniatures were coming out again. But, it was still only for the Hobbit, and I could feel little excitement for it.

Then, something happened that this blogger did not expect; Games Workshop announced that the The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game was to be rebranded as The Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game! Battle Companies, a mini-game from the past akin to Kill-Team, re-emerged. Hope was kindled.

And yet, no-one expected what was announced next, least of all me.

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Middle Earth is back, baby. New plastic heroes, rereleasing old OOP(out of production) models, and the hated repack of 24 man troop boxes into 12 is being undone. I haven’t felt excitement like this since watching Return of the King for the first time. And, my childhood dream of fighting the Battle of the Pelennor Fields comes ever closer to being a reality. I’m ready, my full strength gathered. Men of Rohan, of Gondor, waiting patiently for the paint brush. Hordes of Orcs and Uruks in their serried ranks await the same.

At around the same time this was announced, I decided that if I was going to do this, it would be a movie style refight, as opposed to the book. And for that, I needed the Army of the Dead. Ebay saved the day here.

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“The way is shut. It was made by those who were dead. And the dead keep it.” (Also, whoever painted this army, daaaaaaang did they do a good job. No bath of Simple Green for these boys.)

The cost was insignificant; people sell the banner alone for outrageous amounts of money on eBay. and with more Army of the Dead then I’ll ever possibly need, all that remains is the noble Rohirrim, the beleaguered garrison of Minas Tirith and the vile Orcs and their allies. Of course, it won’t be a full scale refight, even my collection pales in comparison to what would be required to do it justice. But even a small part of the battle would be the culmination of a life’s dream.

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“Is it time? Time at last?” Yes, my lads, it is.

So, in closing, don’t worry there will be still loads and loads of 40k content; My friend is working a pace at his Tank Company and he has given me permission to share it with the internet. My Vostroyans will be worked on at a steady rate as well. This just means they’ll have to share with Gondorians, Men of Rohan, and Orcs. Many, many orcs.

Instead of my usual sign off, I leave you with this

“Theres some good in this world Mr.Frodo, and its worth painting for”-Samwise Gamgee