Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Getting back on the Empire Ogre wagon

Well it's a new year. The Year of the Empire is over, and I am free to pursue whatever I like. Actually, this has caused me some confusion. Knowing what army I would use in every tournament last year gave me a relatively clear focus - it kept things simple. Suddenly finding myself with lots of options at the end of the year really bogged me down. Rather than focusing on something and making progress, I ground to a halt as I started to consider the various options. My Orcs and Goblins are an army with a lot of promise, however they need some updating to give them a bit more clout in 8th edition - Pump Wagons and Mangler Squigs in particular. The Ogre book is still pretty new and they have lots of stuff that I want to take for a spin. But none of the fun stuff is painted (and I don't even have models for half of it).

In the end I have decided to stick with Empire for the time being. The main reason for this is that I still want to paint more stuff as part of Project Kislev (no, I have not forgotten). Planning is still underway, with a tentative date set for Easter. Can we make it happen by then? I certainly hope so. The other reasons I decided to use Empire are that they're actually ready in terms of being able to field a decent painted force (as opposed to the missing components for the other armies as I've already mentioned). This takes the pressure off, and means that I can keep painting stuff for the Kislev game, even if it's not something I need for the next tournament. Also, for all that I want to try out the Ogres, my general lack of painted models is a major barrier. However, my Empire Ogre unit fillers seem like an ideal way to improve the situation, without actually getting bogged down painting an Ogre Kingdom army. 

The initial reason I started working on Ogre unit fillers was to help pad out the rather large units I wanted for my Empire army. Units of State Troops often need to be very large (40 models or more), and this makes for a lot of troops, and a lot of painting. The Ogres help pad things out, help to break up the appearance of the unit, and also give me something different to paint. My plans have kind of taken on a life of their own however, and I have gradually realised that if I were to ever get all of my planned unit fillers built and painted, they would make an entire Empire-themed Ogre Kingdoms army in their own right. It's not the main goal of the project, but it's an amusing side-effect.

For all this plotting and planning, the production of these Ogres had largely ground to a halt. I kept getting distracted by other things, and as such I had only managed to complete 2 Ogres thus far, for completely different units. I want 3 Ogres for every unit, so I have a very, very long way to go. My decision early on that I would not in fact be using Ogre Bulls as the basis for the models has probably slowed me down. The discovery of Instant Mold then sped me up again, however the sheer enormity of the task and the ambition involved occasionally gets to me and kills my momentum. Not knowing what I'm doing half the time does not help.

Anyway, over the last couple of nights I have started to pull the stuff out again. This time I was camped on the living room floor in front of the TV, making a right mess on the carpet.
Man, what a mess. Here is the little workstation I had set up for myself, complete with mugs of hot and cold water for working with Instant Mold. The white dust is from sawing a couple of Magic Sculp Ogre components in half
I have discussed previously, a lot of my early attempts at duplication of Ogre components resulted in them coming out too fat - a legacy of my not knowing what I was doing with 2-part moulds. I have learnt from this somewhat, however I still spend a bit of time trying to salvage the stuff I have already made. The picture above shows the colossal mess I made just cutting (and filing) through a set of legs in order to thin them down. Hopefully once I really get myself sorted out, this sort of thing will be a thing of the past. At least it's something I'm aware of now.
Here's a look at the parts I have thus far. Why is it sideways, Blogger? Whyyyyy?
If you look at the picture above and turn your head sideways (whilst saying "floopy, floopy, floopy"), you might get some idea of where I am up to in terms of Ogre mass production. The green stuff legs are the original masters. There are 7 other sets of legs and 7 and a half torsos, as well as a couple of arms and 2 full bodies that are the same as my completed Kislev ogre. The human is in there to give a sense of scale.

Last night I started to focus on making my first complete State Troop Ogre (not counting the first Halberdier one I completed, which was before I considered the Instant Mold route). I am going to make a Swordsman. In fact, this time I am going to make 3 Swordsmen - no more of this creating a single Ogre for the unit and then stopping. If I do this right it will be significant, as it will see me create usable puffy-legged and armed components, ready to be re-used for other State Troop units without much further modification. In other words, real progress.
My in-progress Ogre State Trooper, from the front
And from the rear
And with some arms
The legs above are probably nearly done. I need to clean up the ankles, which were designed with other styles in mind. Then I can get to work on the arms, and probably detailing the torso a bit more. None of these bits are glued together - both arms, the torso and the legs come apart and are just hooked together with wire plugged into holes drilled into the components. The arms were made from the ones I built for the Kislev ogre, with some trimming, the hands cut off and rotated, and the left elbow being cut for a better angle to hold a shield. I may duplicate them the way they are, then again once they're puffy. It's this sort of consideration which is slowing me down now, but should see me hit some critical threshold in the future where I can really churn stuff out. I hope. Perhaps I need to head back to my sketchbook and do a bit more planning to ensure I do these things as efficiently as I can.

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