Here we are back again with the second part of the 2013 Eternal Hunt Awards. This time, let’s take a look at the hobbyists.
Hobby blog of the year
1st place: Officio Convertorum
Though a fairly recent addition to the blogosphere, Jeff Vader’s Officio Convertorum has nevertheless managed to shoot straight to the top. There’s more than enough reason for that, though, since during his first year of blogging, Jeff has barraged us with a relentless stream of excellent kitbashing, fantastic painting and very interesting background: The guy even managed to create a plausible and interesting fifth Chaos God, for crying out loud!
So a clear winner this year. Check out Jeff’s fantastic blog and prepare to be amazed!
2nd place: Gardens of Hecate
Every once in a while, even in a hobby as multifaceted as ours, we may have the chance of stumbling upon something truly different and original. And the most original blog of 2013, at least in my book, has to be Gardens of Hecate. Strictly speaking, it deals with Malifaux, chronicling Ana Polanscak’s work on a fully customised warband, complete with accompanying scenery, markers, tokens and what have you. While that may seem like a daunting enough job, however, putting things so simply would entirely miss the point of why the blog is so great: Ana not only shows highly inspired kitbashes and conversions, ending up with models that may use GW bitz for ingredients, but end up looking very distinct and original; Gardens of Hecate is also an exploration of medieval imagery with a slightly apocalyptic bend. It’s hard to put into words, although the closest possible description would be that those models look like what Hieronymus Bosch would be up to today, if he were alive and into tabletop gaming.
Trying to describe it doesn’t do it justice, though: You’ll have to take a look for yourself. Like me, you’ll probably come away from it with the impression that this is an extraordinary source of inspiration, and that there’s really nothing quite like it.
3rd place: Opus Maius
Now you see it, now you don’t: As of this writing, Opus Maius is not accessible. This is due to the fact that Neil101 likes to take the blog offline every now and then, presumably to force himself to do more actual hobby work instead of just blogging about it. Whenever Opus Maius does return, though, fading in and out of realspace like a Space Hulk, the blog manages to find a very distinct voice and never ceases to inspire: You see, Neil is the genius behind hobby projects like the fabled Arrke game board, and while showcases of his work are certainly one great part of the blog, his writeups of the games taking place in this strange and demented world are just as impressive and inspiring. So keep your eyes peeled for whenever Opus Maius returns from the Empyrean, because you can be sure we’ll be in for a treat!
Hobbyist of the year
Like last year, this is a tough call to make. But then, there are those hobbyists who manage to make the hobby into something special not only for themselves, but for others as well. And the three people on my personal awards list this year certainly managed that admirably. Here they are:
1st place: PDH
Those who have had any form of contact with Peter know that he’s not only a highly talented converter and painter in his own right, but also a tremendously nice guy. Both should be enough to win him any price, certainly, but he landed at the top of this list for another reason:
in 2013, Peter was the guy to make wonderful things happen: He came up with the utterly brilliant “Secret Yggdrassillium Pilgrimage”, involving hobbyists from several different countries and making the day truly special for his fellow players, among them John Blanche. He helped Commissar Molotov with this year’s Inqvitational and took a big stake in the INQ28 community. He sent me bitz, got me involved in fantastic hobby projects and offered supremely helpful criticism and feeback whenever I asked him. Here’s to you, Peter! A first place well earned!
2nd place: Jeff Vader (of Officio Convertorum)
Jeff is certainly winning big in this year’s Eternal Hunts Awards, but to be fair, his contribution to the hobby was simply amazing: His Inquisitorial models sent the INQ28 boards abuzz, his blogs is a daily must-read for me, he invented a new chaos god. And he produced pieces that make me want to push the envelope on my own hobby projects. So thanks, Jeff, for the boundless inspiration you provided in 2013! And I really hate you for being such a fantastic painter, you know?
3rd place: Natfka (of Faeit 212)
I suppose you all know Faeit 212 as the go-to site when it comes to tabletop rumours. I also suppose you all go there for your daily hit of rumours and leaks — and if you don’t, well, you definitely should: It’s an enormously helpful and interesting site, but this last year has made me realise it might actually be run by one of the nicest guys imaginable: Even while Blogger took Faeit 212 down due to a copyrights claim on GW’s part, even while having to deal with the fallout from that and trying his best to keep the project alive, Natfka never got angry but always stayed productive, positive and eminently likeable. That mindset also clearly comes across in his posts: Natfka doesn’t like to bicker, he likes to see the positives, the potential. Does that make him a fanboy? No, certainly not. It makes him someone whose site always like to visit and whose tireless service to the community I find admirable. My hat’s off to you, sir!
Best models of the year:
There were so many amazing models this year that pointing out favourites at all seems pretty unfair. Still, some pieces were so astounding and inspiring that I want to share them with you — in no particular order, mind you, because I really couldn’t be expected to choose any one of these over another. So here are my favourite models of 2013:
Decimator conversion by Chris Harman
While many models I see online make me want to borrow ideas and replicate effects I like, it is not often that a conversion has me run out to grab the models to attempt the same thing near instantly. Chris Harman’s excellent Decimator, kitbashed mainly from a GK Nemesis Dreadknight, was the exception to the rule, though, and possibly the single most inspirational piece I saw this year.
People had attempted making the Dreadknight into a chaos walker before, but Chris’ model was really the first one that really worked for me — which is why I shamelessly pilfered the idea and built my own Wargrinder in a fairly similar pattern: It turns out imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all…
My only gripe with this model is that, unfortunately, so far there are only tantalising glimpses at a partly painted model:
Bull God by TJ Atwell
TJ Atwell, of Dark Future Games, is certainly no stranger to amazing conversions. And it seems like he’s on a roll with a recent army project of his, the “Army of the Apocalypse”, a combined force of Necrons and Daemons. Sound whacky? Well, trust TJ to prove that the ally rules can be used to come up with fantastic and original army concepts: He’s been cranking out brilliantly disturbing daemon engines like crazy for these last months, one of them cooler than the next!
The one to rule them all, though, is TJ’s fantastic Bull God, to be used as a Daemon Prince, Maulerfiend or Greater Daemon. The whole conversion is so flawless that I wish I had come up with something like that. And the paintjob is equally impressive, combining TJ’s highly effective recipe for distressed flesh with bright yellows and blues (recurring spot colours in this particular army). Simply a marvelous piece!
Questing Knight by Jeff Vader
It seems like all INQ28 aficionados are drawn towards building true scale marines at one point, and Jeff Vader is no exception. While many of those models don’t end up all that impressive, though, Jeff’s Questing Knight is an astonishing model: Like all of Jeff’s models, this is a delicious kitbash (making exceptionally great use of what may just be the coolest Space Marine head ever), and the lush paintjob shows off some of the hallmarks of Jeff’s work: the gritty realism evident in the paintjob itself, the amazing freehand symbols and patterns and the highly expressive face. Job’s a good ‘un, Jeff!
Take a closer look at the model here.
Arco Evisorators by Kari Hernesniemi
Kari’s Stryderre was already my personal star of the show at the “Secret Yggdrassillium Pilgrimage”, so I was really happy to see him build yet more of these disturbing, emaciated killers. He has since spun off the concept into a whole warband of so-called Arco Evisorators, and each of the models is a treat! Case in point, it’s certainly an honour to be commissioned by no other than John Blanche himself to build a warband of these brilliantly horrible guys, but in Kari’s case, the honour is well-deserved! Discover all of the models here.
Honorary mention for best effect on a model: Ms. Binky by Rednekkboss
One of the most disappointing moments in our hobby is when a finished model (or an effect we were really trying to get right) doesn’t work out. And one of the things that I’ve witnessed going wrong more often than not over the years was people painting huge eyeballs on some of their models. So for all those who have struggled to get it right, prepare to be amazed by Rednekkboss’s model for Ms. Binky, a daemon engine that is equal parts disgusting and adorable. The huge eyeball which makes up the main point of focus for the model could have gone so very horribly wrong. But Rednekkboss really, really nailed it:
How can something be so cute and so disgusting at the same time, I ask you?
The astonishing step by step documentation to the effect can be found here.
Best armies/warbands of the year
And where there are single models, there are also armies and warbands. Again, I witnessed too many great hobby projects to count this year, but some just take the cake. Let me share my favourites with you:
1st place: Brother Heinrich’s Night Lords
I cannot possibly say enough good things about Brother Heinrich’s Night Lords 15th company: It’s a fantastic hobby project, above all else. The fluff accompanying the models is equally impressive. But maybe my favourite thing about the army is how much thought is given to each and every model, making it seem like these guys are really veterans of the Long War. Brother Heinrich’s work has made me think about building Chaos Space Marine armies in a new way while also featuring some of the snazziest conversions around. It’s a beautiful army, and like I told you recently, I myself make an appearance as well 😉
So if you’re one of the few people reading this blog who have not yet checked out Brother Heinrich’s brilliant NL army, do yourself a favour and go take a look.
2nd place: migsula’s Legion army
A true labour of love, this one: Migs has been hard at work on this army for quite a while now, and it shows: Each model has been expertly customised and converted, the narrative oozes from every pore of this hobby endeavour. Then there’s the fact that the entire army was painted to look like it was operating under a pale moon, which is an astonishing feat in itself. And lastly, you really get three armies for one here: Is it a Grey Knights army? Or an IG army (with some Inquisition sprinkled on top)? Or indeed a Chaos Space Marine army, given the fact that these guys are all Alpha Legion Operatives (and let’s not even get into the AL’s true loyalties…)? As you can see, the narrative comes creeping in, even when you simply want to decide what kind of army this is in the first place. Astounding work, migs!
Discover the army here.
3rd place: Dave Taylor’s Adeptus Mechanicus army
The Adeptus Mechanicus has always been a fascinating, if disturbing, part of 40k lore for me. And rarely has it been captured so well as in Dave Taylor’s AdMech army. We all know that Dave is an expert at building characterful armies, of course, but even so, this one’s special. Words really don’t do it justice…
…so you had best take a look at the project here.
Honorary mention: Inquisitor Klein and retinue by Drone 21c
INQ28 has become really popular during this last year, and rightly so. And while the increase in interest has also lead to an increase in awesome warbands and retinues, every now and then there’s something even cooler than the rest. Drone 21c’s retinue for Inquisitor Klein is such a case: It may just be the perfect blend of modern painting techniques and retro flourishes from the good old days of Rogue Trader and 2nd edition. The retinue also works as a perfect embodiment of the eclectic styles and cultures prevalent in the 40k universe, evident in the uniforms and outfits alone. Plus those models simply look so lush in that photo that you’d like to eat them! Check them out here.
So, with this deluge of fantastic hobby inspiration, I think it’s the perfect moment to wish you all a happy new year! Keep your eyes peeled for the third and final installment of the 2013 Eternal Hunt Awards, where I’ll be speaking about my own hobby year. And, of course, let me hear your feedback in the comments!
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!