The last six months of blog posts have been more Tohaa-heavy than I had intended. I generally try to maintain a mix of different types of projects from month to month, but for most of this year, general life chaos and egregious personal irresponsibility have nixed most of the side projects I was intending to work on, and left my output fairly narrowly focused on the Space Artichokes.
It is to this same well that I return today, but fear not, for there is light on the horizon. Today’s post is a roundup of the final work I recently undertook to get my Tohaa army up to a playable, painted 300pts, which means that after this goes up, I will once again be free to bounce from project to project in the manner that my ADD so fervently demands.
And if nothing else here interests you, you can always scroll to the bottom and ogle the Asparagus Hedgehogs. It’s okay, I’m not here to judge.
Part 1: Meatsuits
The Kotail Mobile Unit were the models that drew me to Tohaa, so it’s actually a bit weird that they were the last things I finished on my way toward a functioning army.
Corvus Belli produced two incredible Kotail models, but you’re allowed to run up to four in an army, so of course my first Artichoke purchases were a pair of each sculpt. However, to actually run two identical models would be to let down not only myself, but also you, my beloved public. So from the start, there was never any question that one of each sculpt would receive some level of putty makeover.
The decision about how to modify them was very easy to make– my armies tend to be made up over over 50% specialist troopers with plain rifles, and Corvus Belli was nice enough to ship one of the Kotail sculpts with a pair of rifles that I could divide between my two Forward Observers. That left one arm to build for each model; I cobbled together a very basic “pulling something from hip pouch” pose for one model out of the existing arm segments, but I didn’t have appropriate parts to do the same for the other model, so I dug out my wire and putty and started sculpting his other arm from scratch.
I drilled a wire into his exposed shoulder, bent it into the correct proportions, and then covered it with a thin layer of putty to give me a base to work on.
Once that was set, I started adding higher layers. Here I’ve bulked out some basic arm muscle groups and drawn lines for where some of the panels will end up.
The Kotail uniform’s arms consist primarily of horizontal straps over top of the living meatsuit; I rendered these straps by laying tiny putty snakes over the musculature, flattening and straightening them out, and then sculpting tiny buckles in the center of each one.
Unlike the detail-oriented fastidiousness that went into sculpting Neema, this project was only meant to be tabletop quality, so I didn’t worry myself too much about the slightly rounded edges on the straps– it was nothing I couldn’t cover up later with paint. 🙂
Once the meatsuit and straps were done, I started adding armour plates. The gauntlet was built in three pieces, starting with this elbow-to-wrist bracer. I allowed this piece to set completely before coming back to add the next layer of plates.
While that was setting, I added a very basic form for the shoulder pad, which would give me a platform to work against when sculpting the final shoulder later.
I also needed to fill in quite a bit of the model’s jacket; the original model had its elbow pressed tightly against its chest, so when I scrapped that original arm, there was a large hole left behind. I filled this in by adding crumply cloth and more straps, doing my best to mimic what was only the other side.
Once the shoulder foundation was hardened, I shaved it down as thin as I could safely manage with a sharp knife, and then started filling out its final volume and shape with a cleaner layer of putty.
I used a putty mix heavy on the yellow hardener component, for reasons that largely elude me now– in theory this would’ve been a good spot for a much bluer mix, as blue is much less likely to retain tool marks, and thus smooths much better than yellow mixes.
But, whatever the reason, it still worked. So, whatever.
The top part of the shoulder is a crescent-shaped ridge, which I copied a bit sloppily from the other side. The sloppiness was a roughly equal blend of not really caring and “OH MY GOD THE TOURNAMENT IS IN FIVE DAYS AAAAAAHHHHHHH”.
This is not an uncommon motivational framework in the Potatocave.
With the arm coming along nicely, I started working on the focal point of the custom arm– a primed E/M grenade. My basic plan was to first sculpt the grenade itself as an extension of the arm, and then add the hand around it. Here I’ve trimmed the basic putty ball down a bit to give me room to sculpt details without ending up with a grenade the size of a cantaloupe.
I didn’t really have a plan for what the grenade would look like, so I made sure there was a circular inset that I could make super glowy, and some other random plates and ridges radiating out from there.
Once the grenade was hardened, I started adding fingers. The thumb was rolled out as tiny putty snake, trimmed to length, and then laid around the grenade in what felt like a plausible “I want to throw this at someone” pose.
I planned to have the index, middle, and ring fingers clumped fairly close together, and the pinky a bit more off on its own, so the main three fingers were applies as a single block and then divided up with a knife…
…like so. I then cut each finger to length and segmented them by adding knuckles with a Clayshaper.
Once the hand was finished, I was free to add the last arm plates.
I then did a bunch more detailing and cleanup work while staying at my parents’ house for the weekend, and forgot to take process shots of any of it, but here’s where he ended up:
Nothing amazing, but good enough.
Aaaaaaand then I painted him.
And also the other one.
And also a prone sniper.
All in a week and a half, which might actually be the fastest I’ve ever painted three dude-sized models before.
I am seriously the slowest painter. >_<
“WE ARE MIGHTY BECAUSE WE ARE WRAPPED IN MEAT.”
“There is no pocket where I am reaching.”
“My leg is just itchy.”
“We are a vegetal people. Meat burns us.”
“My life is unending agony.”
The three new meatfolk were the last models I needed to complete my 300pt army.
They all look so pretty together. 🙂
Part 2: Transport Box
I have a long tradition of building my own custom army transports and trays instead of buying pre-fab ones. There is no cost savings to doing this, and multiple hours of labour are required to build everything, so I really have no defense for this practice other than “making army boxes is cool”. 😛
This time around, I was fitting the army into a Fake Fancy Box I bought at Homesense. I chose it because the yellow and burgundy pattern matched my army scheme– over a year ago, before I switched to a completely different scheme. But the box was still the perfect size, so I didn’t bother myself too much over the aesthetics. ~_~
To fit all of my models inside and keep them from banging into each other, I would need to set up foamcore dividers and trays. I tried a few mock layouts to try to find the most efficient storage pattern:
This pattern was my first thought, and was a strong candidate because it would fit 14 models on a single layer.
However, I ended up going with this layout instead, because it increased the capacity of each layer to 12.
…HEY WAIT A SEC
Ahh, whatever. Math is for nerds.
The edges of each tray were built to be 35mm tall, to fit a 25mm base with a bit of extra leeway.
The walls and floor of each tray were held together with nails and hot glue.
The interior dividers were shorter, at about 30mm, to leave room to drop a lid inside each one.
The divided trays were set up to fill only part of the box, with a large gap on one side to accommodate my Gorgos TAG.
The trays were all coming along quite nicely, but of course, simply laying models down inside foamcore boxes would be pretty disastrous to their paintjobs. To keep everything safe, I needed to add padding.
I considered a few options for this, but eventually settled on a microfiber blanket I found at a local surplus store. I cut 1″ strips from the blanket’s outer trim, which caused a red Fuzzsplosion all around my modeling desk.
I am still finding red puff clumps three weeks later.
I fully expect that the inside of my lungs is a field of crimson.
When I die of cancer in February, YOU ALL KNOW WHO TO SUE.
The cancerblanket strips were laid inside each row, stuck down with a pile of hot glue, and then trimmed to length.
Another strip was added for each row on the lid, so that the models could be sandwiched together in fluffy safety.
It all closes up pretty nicely, except for this hole I had to cut for the Ectros’ gun, because his pose is GANGLY AF. >_<
I WILL NEVER BE RID OF THE CRIMSON PLAGUE
Anyway, terminal illnesses aside, it all came together beautifully. 🙂
And now my Space Artichokes can travel around in luxury, swaddled on all sides by decadent shag carpeting.
We should all be so lucky.
Part 3: Hedgehogs
I finished the three meatsuited figures above with three working days left before the event I was attending. The event’s Warcor had pre-announced the scenarios, and among them was the new-ish “Rescue”, which requires each player to extract four civilian models from enemy territory. I wanted to have civvie models that in some way fit my army, but given the extremely tight timeline I was working in, I didn’t have anywhere near enough time to sculpt actual Tohaa civilians. Out of options, I turned to my reliably rapid fallback:
Wads of clay with cute faces. 😛
Each Asparapuppy began with a very simple wire frame– a bean-shaped loop ending in a pair of wire anchors.
All four were embedded in corks, and then a small putty wad was placed in the center of each and allowed to harden.
Detailing on the models was extremely simple– first I drew a basic smilie face…
…then I added, removed, and pushed masses around until it popped out into 3D. Time from last photo to this one: maybe six minutes.
The asparagus leaves on each monster’s back were fairly fast to create as well– I used an angle chisel clayshaper to press the clay down where it was supposed to go underneath the previous row, then moved up one row and repeated the process until I got all the way to the pointy tip.
And that was basically it– I repeated the “face, leaves” process four times until I had four four asparagus monsters with different cute faces. This one still looks a bit sinister, but will look more adorable later after some smoothing and the addition of a tongue. 🙂
This one is my favourite. She’s flipped onto her back to beg for scratchies.
This all took about two hours. Adorable blobs are not time-consuming.
To build their tiny widdle legs, I cut a clay strip into equal-sized squares and rolled each segment into a little pill-shaped wad.
These were attached to the monsters, but not given any detailing– I intentionally wanted them to look very simplified, rather than trying to make them look like plausible creatures.
Before baking, I spent an hour or so smoothing them all with clayshapers, as well as adding angles to each asparagus leaf.
And then… paint!
The bottom right one looks derpy because I put his eyes right on the front of his head. I might re-do him at some point– it’s not like it would take all that long. 😛
With these in hand, I was ALMOST ready for my tournament. However, there was still a single item remaining on my to-do list:
Part 4: High-Value Target
Infinity’s tournament system requires each player to have a special civilian model in every mission called a “High-Value Target”, whose purpose is largely the same as the civvies above, but used all the time instead of only in one mission.
My original plan for my HVT was to sculpt a Tohaa “nursery”:
Basically, it’s asparagus babies growing on a vine. I was excited to build this, but the hedgehogs took longer than I anticipated, and I found myself not having started the HVT at 10pm the night before the event. With essentially no good options available to me, I decided to throw up my arms in wild abandon and make something very stupid instead.
I present the following without comment:
His name is Mayor McSparagus. It was not an intentional Mayor McCheese reference, but if I’m being honest, that’s probably what my brain was inspired by somewhere in the background.
Mayor McSparagus ably performed the duties required of the Officiate in Distress throughout the event. However, a mere three days later on my normal Infinity play night, it was revealed that he had been hiding something from me:
The Mayor was older and more ill than he let on, but put on a brave face to inspire his troops. But with his task complete, he allowed his condition to consume him.
We will remember you always as you were, brave McSparagus– smooth, rigid, and dapper.
Rest in peace, brave civil servant.
Part 5: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
And with that, I had my fully playable 300pt tournament army, which won the “Outstanding Hobby Achievement” award at the Lords of War Weekend on October 1st. There were two much better painters than me in attendance, but neither of them had adorable asparagus hedgehogs, so obviously the judges’ hands were tied.
I also took home the third-place plaque, but not because I actually came in third– I went 2-2 for the day, and when they announced my name, I immediately asked how it was possible to be 3rd out of 18 players with an even win/loss record. The TO said it was because my wins were “major victories”, but when I did the math on the drive home, I concluded that I must have been marked the winner of one of my losses to reach the 8 tournament points my scorecard displayed.
However, I had just played 10 hours of Space Men on 4 hours of sleep, so I wasn’t really in a good state of mind to argue over the math.
So, okay. I got an illegitimate plaque. I will just assume that it was the universe rewarding me for showing up to a tournament on my birthday, like the awesome person I am.
The universe does that sometimes, you know.
You should try being a great person like me. The universe might give you a speed boat or like a zebra or something.