Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dust to Dust: Using Iron Additives to magnetize your models

Magnetizing just got a little easier . . . .

Steps to Improve your Commission Painting Service

Starting out in the miniature painting business is no easy feat . . . 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

REVIEW: 11th Co GT delivers and fun was had by all!

Went to the 11th Co GT this weekend and I didn't even get a crappy t-shirt . . .

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Greeting all you boys and ghouls!  Caleb with White Metal Games here!  Today I have a quick and easy tutorial for you:  textured urban rubble basing for your miniature needs

Monday, November 4, 2013

Head for the hills! Urban hills that is . . in 5 minutes!

If Time = Money, and Terrain = Time, then Terrain = Money.  This tutorial will help you save a little of each.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Farseer on Jetbike conversion by White Metal Games

For such an popular model in game, it sure wouldn't kill GW to have a farseer on jetbike model!  Guess we'll we've have to improvise.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Clients Perspective on Miniature Painting

Greetings fellow wargamers!  Caleb with White Metal Games here!

Recently I started a hard nosed survey (dare I say investigation) of the miniature painting and assembly market.  Namely I wanted to know who my competition was, what they were charging, what they were doing right, where they could make improvements, and what I could learn from them.  Based on my findings I made some improvements to my site, offered a few new deals, and became a more competitive service. In fact, we're still evaluating our pricing structure to bring it more in line with how other services price projects.

When you want to find someone that will paint and assemble your army for you, just walk into any FLGS with a wad of cash and ask.  You'll find someone.  Everyone needs money, after all. 

 But will that person be able to deliver the goods in a timely fashion for your budget?  Are they are a one trick pony, or can they take direction?  For example, maybe your buddy 'Joe' has an awesome Necron army.  You love it . . . you love it so much you offer to let him paint your Crimson Fist army.

But CAN he paint marines, that's the question.  Every army is different.  Is 'Joe' a round enough painter to give you what you want, in your timeframe on your budget and if he can't does he know when to walk away and tell you 'sorry, but no thanks.'  This is what separates the pros from the talent.  Maybe Joe is a hitter, but that doesn't make him an MVP.  And I want to be an MVP.  

Research is great, but there is nothing like throwing yourself in the line of fire and trying something from a new perspective.  What would it feel like to be a buyer rather than a seller for once?  

So after all my research was done (or done enough) I picked a few services I thought were not only good, but fairly priced and comparable to what I was offering, and decided to commission a model or two.

To keep things nice and fair, we are going to call the Studios A, B, C, D, and E.

Here are the models I sent to each studio:

Studio A:   Based in the Mid-West.   A refurbishment project.  2000 points of Space Marines I picked up from another studio on the cheap.  The project was to refurbish the army and lavish it with details.

Studio B:  Based in England.  This studio had really cheap rates, so I commissioned a squad of Orks.  Studio was to buy the box, assemble to order, and paint to avoid the international tariffs.

Studio C:  Based in the Mid-West.  A small squad of Necrons, with lavish OSL.  Assembled at WMG and sent to the painter.

Studio D:  A Canadian based painting service.  A small collection of models, including some daemon princes, a landraider, some zombies, some odds and ends, etc.  Assembled at WMG and sent to the painter.

Studio E:  Based in England.  This studio impressed me with their work, so I sent them a giant daemon prince to paint up.

Remember that the goal of this project was to get first hand experience with commissioning models from other services, to gain a 'client perspective' on orders.  Another goal of this project was to experiment with outsourcing projects, weighing the pros and cons of using international painters, whilst connecting the right model to the right painter/painting service to get the best possible results.  After all, not every painter can be expected to paint every model equally well.  For example, I love painting Tyranids, but maybe Studio XYZ doesn't and it shows in their work.  To each their own.

In this article, we'll discuss what I learned from Studio A.  Those models were the first to go out and the first to come back.

To their credit, the artist in this case was very willing to work with me on this refurbishment project.  It was a coordinated effort.  I purchased the models blindly from another player and then had them sent to the painter who would do the refurbishment.

When the models arrived, the painter let me know the models weren't really in 'refurbishment' shape.  Some of the models were broken, most were primed only with little to no details.  Yikes.  So not as much a refurbishment projects as we would have liked.  More just a regular painting project from the ground up.

Okay, a change in gears, but still the same race.  No problem.

We discussed options, and decided the way to go with the project was to use the existing primer color and then to just find a way to finish them quickly and effectively.  We decided either Ultramarine or Crimson Fists were the way to go (blue primer) and since I've seen enough Ultramarines projects, we went with CF.

So, at this point it's week one, the painter has the models in hand and we should be good to go.

Now I've always prided myself on customer service.  So does Studio A.  Studio A let me know that they send out an 'update' email to their clients every Monday to let them (the client) know the status of their project, even if that status is 'Bits Ordered, en route' or even 'No status change'.  In the later case, when other clients already booked orders,  maybe  you're just waiting.

Kinda the same way that I call the cable company and they say they'll show up between 11 and 2.  Sometimes my place in the pecking order is just to wait.

Monday rolled around and no email came.  I was a bit surprised.  Actually surprised is too lenient.  I was startled.  I couldn't believe how powerless I felt, being in the dark like this.  I had given good money to Studio A and all I wanted to know was the status of my project.  Was that too much to ask? 

I gave it another day or two, then decided to touch based with Studio A.  In point of fact, like I should have figured, a family emergency had occurred.  Studio A briefly emailed me to say they were sorry for the delay, and they let me know paints for my project had been ordered, so all was well and good.  In the face of personal tragedy, the vendor had overlooked his clients BUT quickly rectified the situation.

Man, did I feel like an ass.  But I shouldn't have really.  I mean, I was only protecting my investment.

So, after a week or two to grieve, the painter got back to work.  I didn't want to press him or seem unsympathetic.  A few weeks passed by and he finally called me with a update.  His computer was being repaired, and without it he didn't have regular access to email.  He did take steps to take pictures of the WIP models with his phone, but they didn't really give me a clear picture of the project.

To the artist' credit, the painter then took the minis to a friend who photographed them and sent me the pics.  The pics were 'okay', but didn't really show me any detail.  The artist let me know that the project was coming along well, but he was running low of funds.  (This painter works by the hour, so when the time was up, you could either pay him more money to paint, or you could ask him to just send you the models).

So, I sent the painter some more money.  Nearly doubling the original amount sit aside for the painting aspect of the project.

Here's the kick . . . without great pictures from the painter in the beginning, I really had no way to track the project in terms of progress.  What I mean is, I can't see the detail that was added to the project on the 2nd half.

I mean, how could I?  I had no before or after pics.  What's more is since the painter was a by the hour kinda guy, I had no real way to track his progress, other than trust.  Which I gave them freely.

Some other services use the 'hourly' guide to create estimates.  For example, someone might ask for a squad of Orks painted.  I guesstimate . . . 'that'll take about 4 hours at $25 an hour, so about a hundred bucks, or $10 a model'.  This seems pretty fair to me.  If the painter wants to take his time then he doesn't charge me extra. It's an estimate, not a quote.

But the potential for abuse does exist using this payment system, and I didn't really fee like I had a clear picture of what I was paying for in terms of detail.

A few weeks passed and the painter called me to let me know the project was done.  We arranged shipping, and the painter said he'd send me an invoice for the shipping costs.  A week passed.  Nothing.  No word.

Finally, about two weeks later, the painter called me to let me know that he had been out of town for a week and were sorry they hadn't gotten in touch with me.  But that the models were now en route and should reach me soon.  And to be fair, they did.  By the end of the week, they were there.

However, I'm not sure why they couldn't have been mailed out beforehand?  I mean, if you are going to be gone anyway, why not just ship the models out before leaving?

The models arrived and the quality was what we call at White Metal Games a 'Man at Arms' standard, or Level 1.  It's around a tabletop quality paint job.  Light on detail, but a great starter army for a client that doesn't have a major budget and wants to grow their collection.

It's also a nice way to add a few units to an Apocalypse army.  You'll only use these models a few times a year, so the models don't need to be as nice as your regular collection of models.

The army is currently for sale for anyone who is interested.  We're hoping to use the money raised to fund this project!  A Necron/Ork themed army, the Necorks!

So, like most things in life, this experience was mixed with goods and bads.  The painter had a few life events occur to them that made completing the project in a timely fashion difficult.  But there were also a few missteps along the way and there was room for the process to be improved upon.

For me, that's what's its all about . . . trying to find a way to improve the quality of the services we offer so that clients are better able to see their vision brought to the table on a budget that is fair to all parties.

I have to remember that since most painting services are 'spare time' services, ie, most of us have regular day jobs, we should be a bit more patient with our commission painters.  Life happens to them too.

If you think this was a worthwhile experiment, comment below.

If you think this is a baseless attempt to solicit your money, comment below.  =)

What YOU think, this did give me a good sense for what it's like to be on the receiving end of a commission for once and it taught me quite a bit.

I can't recommend this to other miniature painting and assembly services enough.  The brief insight you might glean could lead to remarkable changes in your core business mechanics.
If this article does well, then I'll continue this series with Studio's B-E.

Until next time, remember to

Caleb, White Metal Games

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

War Council now on Itunes!!!

War Council is now on Itunes!

War Council is 'an up and coming new podcast' about all things 40k related.   We are five episodes in and are now officially on Itunes!

In our most recent episode we discuss Commission Painter Services and have two guest speakers:  Thomas 'Goatboy' Reidy of Full of Monkey painting and Rob 'MBG' Baer of Spikeybits.  

War Council is a presentation of White Metal Games, a miniature painting and assembly commission service.  
Each episode spans about 90 minutes, so it's like a movie for your ears.  Perfect for a hobby session.  If you are looking for a change of pace from the regular competitively aimed wargames discussion, this is your podcast.

We present each episode as a dialogue between two wargamer buddies, myself and Justin Jones.  We aim to make you feel like one of the group.  

Be sure to subscribe via your own iTunes and you'll know as soon as we post a new podcast. We aim to record an episode every two weeks. Our next episode is about Wargamers Around the World. We'll contact players in the Canada, the UK, and beyond in an attempt to get a picture of the global 40k community.

Don't have access to iTunes? Visit our homepage to stream the episode.

If you like what you hear, give us a like on Facebook!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Light Em' Up! Photographing your Miniatures 101

Painting miniatures can be a rewarding experience, but how do you showcase your work in the best possible light. Here are 5 easy tips to improve your lighting studio set up to make photographing your minis that much easier!

Monday, August 12, 2013

White Metal Games launches War Council . . . a 40k podcast from two definately non-competitive players

Greetings fellow wargamers!

Well, we did it.  We jumped on board the podcasting band wagon.  You can find our first three podcasts here

Every podcast has their thing.  Some are more narrative driven, some are more tournament play driven or competitive in nature. 

I like to think of our podcast as a dialogue between two wargamers who are keenly interested in wargaming culture, trends, balanced play, rumors, and getting a better grasp on the rules. 

We don't spend a lot of time focused on game mechanics or strategy, we spend much more time focused on the passion of wargaming, what drives us to pursue it, understanding the wargaming mentality, and the like.  It's the perfect engine for me to talk about recent commission, kit bashes, upcoming releases, and its the perfect venue for Justin to combine his academic vernacular with his unabashedly encyclopedic knowledge of the 40k Fluffiverse.

So if you're a wargamer like us, a beer and pretzels style gamer that just likes to have fun, this might be the podcast for you.  We share some similarities to the Screaming Heretic Podcast, another podcast that is just a bunch of good friends have a few laughs. 

All of the podcasts are uploaded on our website but we will also be uploading them to itunes soon.   

While your on the site, be sure to peruse our gallery of almost 10,000 images of custom kit bashed miniatures, painted samples, full armies, terrain, and more!

You can also check us out on facebook and follow our updates, respond to queries we post on the show, etc.  

So . . . have a listen, take us for a spin, comment on the facebook page and let us know what you think, and until then .. .


Caleb, WMG

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Still in Bitsness? Bits-World continues to thrive despite GW's smackdown

Greetings fellow wargamers:


I was recently contacted by a repeat client who wants a customer squad of 'The Eight' created.  The Eight are the members of Ta Commander Farsights personal bodyguard, consisting of a handful of crisis suits, a broadside, and a riptide!

Needless to say I was overjoyed at the prospect of building this squad, not only because it just came out ( the Tau Farsight Enclave) but because its so rare that I get to kit bash me some Tau.  Tau just aren't one of those armies that get modified that often.  Not at least in the same way that Nids, Chaos daemons/marines, or Orks do.

Since I don't have the supplement yet, I was a little confused on what sorts of bits I'd need to do this.  I read something about Fusion blades, sort of a lightsaber for Tau, and heard you need twin linked fusion guns to do it.  So I immediately tried to find some.

I found these from the Riptide kit and bought up a bunch right away.

However, in doing a little more research only ONE of the Commanders carries a TL fusion gun and thus has access to the fusion blade.  So I was stuck with all these extra bits!  While I could have hoarded them for future work, I felt it would be better, for both me and community, to turn them back over to the vendor and release them back to the 2nd hard bits market.

I emailed the vendor, explained my situation, and waited to hear back from them.  In hours the situation had been resolved amicably and the purchase was refunded.

This is a complete 180 from a situation that happened to me a few years ago regarding Hoard O'Bits, a bits provider.

Now with Spikey Bits no longer offering bits sales, the bits market is getting harder and harder to work through.  If a client wants a specific model modeled up, it can be a challenge to get all the bits you need.  My situation with the Looming Horror model a few days ago was no exception to this.

In many cases it might actually be cheaper for modellers like myself to buy up several kits, use the bits we need, and then keep the spares on hand for other projects.  But this isn't always the best solution, sometimes you just need that ONE BIT.  And without the second hand market to make that happen, it's getting harder and harder to provide that service to clients.

So I'd like to make two points.

Firstly, I'd like to publicly praise Bits World for their outstanding customer service.

Secondly, I'm curious how companies like Bits World continue to stay in business with the recent shift in GW policy regarding the second hand bits market.

Are bits providers like Bits World a dying breed, hunted to extinction, and if so, what's a miniature studio to do when clients have custom orders to fill?

I've requested an interview with the owners of Bits World to let us see the men (or women) behind the mask.  Stay tuned for details . . .


Caleb, WMG