Bair’s 2023 Year in Review: 500 Minis Painted

So I left last year’s review with “427 models built and painted in 2022. Not something I’m going to try and match or even top in the coming year…” and here I am having topped it instead. Oops? And yes, the featured image banner absolutely had to be dwarfs again. This time they’re 10mm scale though! 

It’s definitely been a year across 2023 for me both in and out of the hobby but I made it through! Honestly it doesn’t feel like it’s been a full year since I wrote the last one. A friend of mine set up a shared Google Sheet for a few of us to keep track of our personal hobby. Minis completed as well as tabletop games played. Just like last year let’s look at the list of games I actually got to play:

  • Conquest
  • Star Wars Legion
  • Horus Heresy
  • Warhammer Fantasy 6th Edition
  • Warhammer 40,000
  • Age of Sigmar
  • Kings of War Armada
  • Titanicus
  • A Song of Ice and Fire
  • Burrows and Badgers
  • Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game
  • Legions Imperialis
  • Warmaster
  • Blood Bowl 7’s

So, just a few. These are in no particular order, really, and I only played a single game of ASOIAF before selling off my stuff because the game just isn’t for me and 13 game systems is still plenty to have around. All in all this came out to be about 140 games played across the year. A large chunk of those are Legion or Conquest 1-day events playing 3 games across a Saturday or Sunday, and a game or two (depending on how long it took) down at the local games club weekly. It’s still a lot and I’m pretty grateful to have been in a position to be able to do that!

I post all of my stuff as I paint it on my Instagram so if you want to see more photos head over there; I likely won’t post every single thing I painted below just some favourites from each month. I’m also using this as a reference for what I had going on at the time. Maybe next year I’ll listen to myself and write this as the year goes on instead of all in December…

January – 54

Starting the year out strong with more Warhammer Fantasy Dwarfs! And some Star Wars Legion and Conquest as well. This was also my first Star Wars Legion event! Run by a fantastic team doing monthly Legion events in London keeping a standing dubbed the Golden Grogu. Talking to one of the organisers there have been 71 individuals involved in these events over the year which is great to see. I attended 5 of these across the year including an end-of-year invitational but I’ll talk about that a little bit in December, we have a whole to get through first!

Having only played Legion with one friend up to this point it was great playing against more opponents and various different armies – even in a game where there’s really only 5 factions. Easily one of my favourite game systems.

Also played a handful of Warhammer Fantasy games with all those dwarfs I had painted in Dec 2022. Stepping back to an older edition of a dead game was definitely interesting with 6th edition. I even wrote a whole thing just on that subject so I won’t re-type that out here. All in all I am very excited for Old World!

Ending January I got back into the swing of Age of Sigmar after a 6 month hiatus, fully skipping one cycle of the General’s Handbook. I am very glad they seem to have moved beyond the 6 month cycle! All of my AoS for the vast majority of this year was played with Fyreslayers, as you might expect if you know me even in passing. Kharadron Overlords have looked very pretty in the cabinet all year long.

February – 39

This was a slower month in a lot of ways. A large bulk of the minis painted here were just 20 Arkanaut company for my Kharadron army and a Frigate with a new book right around the corner. Keeping in flying-theme I also “finally” got a gyrocopter for my old world dwarf army to be incredibly annoying in game and painted up the Gotrek mini I’ve had since he was released. Spoiler alert: he saw all of 1 game this year.

I played more Age of Sigmar with some new faces at the local games club with AoS becoming more and more popular locally; overtaking the 40k scene even most weeks.

For Aramada I put paint down on enough Empire of Dust ships to play games with and demo’d the game a bit. One of those games that’s nice and simple for people to pick up quickly and always seem to enjoy. So to do that more nicely I painted up a few 3D islands instead of needing to use flat card ones every time. These have been largely discarded for some much nicer ones I pick up later in the year, but we’ll get to that later!

March – 55

A more prolific month than February, in large part thanks to painting 2 more units of Legion B1 Battle Droids. Following that was nearly the entirety of my Shadow Collective force for Legion after getting some boxes stupid cheap around Christmas time.

Shadow Collective – Credit Bair

This army was a lot of fun to paint up. I watched the Clone Wars series across Jan/Feb of this year for the first time and then Rebels of course after but after seeing that I just had to get these onto a table and play with. It’s incredible just how stupidly elite those mandos are in Legion too. That whole army is well over 800 points before you even get to adding upgrades outside of models.

I did manage to try them out against some Clones and it’s amusing how fast they can die when you roll a bad save…once but with a bit of luck can just tank an incredible amount of firepower.

Finally for March I painted up the best Kharadron model that Games Workshop have made.

Look at his little ship! He loves it! So proud.

April – 24

My birth month and also one of my slowest months this year. Coincidence?? Probably.

I’m also putting the first bit of real-life personal stuff here. The above joke aside my grandfather also passed away the day before my birthday. This was sad but not for the normal reasons, it was very much expected; but I’m an ex-pat living 3,000 miles from “home” and was unable to fly back for the funeral. However, very fortunately, I had the opportunity to go “home” twice in 2022; once for work and once for Christmas. During both trips I got to see my grandparents and while he wasn’t fully himself his old sense of humour came through a few times and I have good memories. So, I was sad to not be with my family during this time, not able to help move things, and everything else that goes along with that. So that affected how I did spend my personal time and not much of that went into painting. Instead I spent a good chunk of time speaking with my family and reading. In fact we didn’t make it to my “home” country at all this year, maybe in 2024.

I did finish off the last couple of Legion minis with Bossk and Asajj Ventress who had only recently been released. Again, as a new-found fan of the TV series I was very excited to get Ventress and paint her up. Need to get her on the table more than once next year though…

Other than these it was a real mixed month getting stuff done for reviews as well as shipping off my birthday circle gift: a painted Rogal Dorn commanded by Commissar.

I was lucky enough to get a Cerberus Tank Destroyer for Heresy to write up for review and added some other Imperial Fist models to my collection too. On the Conquest side of things I worked on the then-brand-new Promethean for the new City States faction. I didn’t care much (or feel like painting!) skin on that large on a model so made it a living-statue instead and really loved how it came out. My first time trying stippling as a technique too.

City States Promethean – Credit Bair

Credit: Bair

This was also Warhammer Fest month right at the end, a big reason I wanted to get all those Fists painted up to take to the Heresy events. I wrote many more words about my time that weekend if you want a trip back to 8 months ago.

Also, the only Titanicus of the year. Man this was a lot of events.

I also played in another Legion 1 day event and showed some friends how to play Armada, a pretty good gaming month!

May – 91

Spoiler Alert: This is the month that I painted by far the most minis. Big thanks to MESBG dwarfs being nice and quick to paint up, I guess?

I’d had a couple boxes of Khazad Dum dwarfs for a little while and decided to just get on with it all of the sudden, apparently. I’m not sure where I was mentally at this point in time other than clearly “time to paint more dwarfs than you’ll ever use at once”. So I did that?

Still haven’t painted those Vault Warden teams. Maybe next year.

For Conquest I decided to conquer a fear and actually paint my Ice Jotnar, trying some of the relatively new Contrast paints to do it. I was surprisingly happy with how this model came out too. I have not yet conquered this fear for the Sea Jotnar though. Soon, hopefully.

Ice Jotnar by Bair

That’s a model I know that I’ll be using in just about every game of Conquest I play too so wanted to get paint on it.

Then I found out that Armada was going to be introducing Ghost fleets alongside Pirate fleets, but without models for them. Seeing this as a fun conversion/paint project I opened up a Basilean fleet sitting in my cupboard and started cutting, drilling, and painting! Some this is pretty thick resin but I’m really happy with the outcome.

Lastly for April I discovered a new-to-me game: Burrows and Badgers. If you’re in an online space with me then I’m not sorry but you’ve seen these already, a lot. I started with just a few in a Witch Hunter themed warband but you’ll be seeing a lot more in this if I haven’t lost you already.

June – 36

After such a busy month this was bound to happen. Still did more than I expected actually, really anticipated some intense hobby burnout here.

Instead I painted what are still some of my favourite models this month with some Conquest heroes, more Burrows and Badgers, and best of all: the new Harbinger of Decay.

I mean come on, look at this. This model is just incredible. And he only took like 4 hours to paint, a nice simple little dude chilling on his horse with his favourite scythe.

Credit: Bair

No notes.

And more Burrows and Badgers! Painted up a whole Ranger warband going with very classic Disney Robin Hood vibes, you know the one with the anthropomorphic animals. These models are just some of the best you can get in my opinion. They come pre-cleaned, they’re incredibly charming, and just paint up so nicely so easily and quickly.

credit Bair

AND some city watch!

credit Bair

The game is also a lot of fun and I’ve been lucky to have some locals to play with!

July – 20

Ah family time. As an ex-pat when family are in town it’s usually for over a week and none of that time is hobby time. And that’s fine! It’s nice to have but equates to a pretty quiet re-telling here.

What I did do was paint, you guessed it, even more Burrows and Badgers minis and play in a 40k RTT: the first game of 10th edition for me. I was playing Death Guard which the internet seemed to think was a bad army? I don’t know, I was doing just fine against anything that wasn’t Eldar. I am so glad to have just ignored the majority of this and enjoyed playing and winning games anyways. I even painted up this Forgeworld Daemon Prince that I’ve had hidden away for years because finally there was a good reason to take one without wings.

Nurgle Daemon Prince – Credit: Bair

And those cute woodland animals you were naturally waiting to see. Knights!

credit Bair

August – 33

Bringing those numbers back up again at least to more than the number of days in the month at this point I’m still anticipating some kind of hobby burnout but it’s just not happening! Yet!

August was the month of the dwarfs. So is October but we aren’t there yet.

I got back to my old Warhammer Fantasy dwarfs with more Longbeards and more Slayers. This was also the start of a whole new game for me: Warmaster. Still with dwarfs, of course, I’m not that crazy. As my first time painting a small scale though it was incredibly enjoyable. I basically got to use the same amount of effort I do in 28mm minis but it looks more impressive! I’ve also been very impressed with the quality of 3D printing for this; I don’t have a printer myself, I bought these dwarfs from ROK Minis, the sculpts are by Forest Dragon and just look so good.

Honestly I was surprised how quick and easy these little guys were to paint up. The trick is not using the tiniest brush like you might think since tiny amount of paint like that will just dry on the brush far to quickly. I used size 0 and size 1 brushes for all of that. Definitely try it for yourself!

September – 62

Time for Goonhammer Open! We changed venues this year to be in Leicester instead, closer to London so I was plenty happy for a bit of a shorter trip up. I went as spare-player for 40k and general on-hand staff to set up/tear down and be avaialble. Through some luck(?) I actually just played all 6 rounds of 40k. Right after this happened I wrote a lot of words about it all so I’m not going to rehash it all. It was, as always, a great weekend with friends, meeting and playing with new like-minded hobbyists and gamers, and this time got to play a lot of 40k too. That was my Death Guard just days before the dataslate that made them much, much, better and I’m still very happy with a 3-3 record.

For the narrative Heresy tables I painted up a dead Warlord Titan and a bunch of trenches. As much as I enjoyed playing a bunch of new 40k the Heresy side seemed full of positive vibes and fun; there was definitely a tinge of jealousy there but it was great to see people having a good time.

Mortarion takes to the field at the UK Goonhammer Open 2023

After that I painted a lot more Warmaster taking my dwarf army up to about 1200 points to start playing games with. As far as review-material went this was when Trugg, king of the Troggs, came out along with the first Age of Sigmar Armies of Renown. Definitely an interesting time for AoS as a game and I’m still happy that none of these armies of renown are particularly auto-take or dominating any metas.

Warmaster Dwarf army – Credit Bair

Just look at all those dwarfs! And they all fit into a biscuit tin! I love it!

October – 13

Even more tiny dwarfs! I added a set of Warriors, a second set of Slayers, and then Ionus Cryptborn for Age of Sigmar. That’s it. That’s my whole October really.

This is when the hobby burnout hit pretty hard, for a couple of weeks I just didn’t want to look at a paintbrush. So I didn’t. The best way for me to get through this is to just not let it bother me the best I can. Getting Ionus to paint up for review broke that a bit, it was something that I sort of had to do but the motivation of being able to submit to Warhammer Community for a chance to be featured. Many of the talented painters that we have here at Goonhammer Dot Com have, for good reason, been featured but I never had!


I was so thrilled to have one of my painted minis up on Warhammer Community!

Ionus Cryptborn – Credit Bair

And I have to be honest this was a very fun model to paint too. Got him done across two evenings after work to hit the submission deadline and I’m really happy with how he came out between the rusted overgrown base and the various reds I managed to get across the dragon from a fleshier tone on wings to a deeper tone on scales. Age of Sigmar sculptors just knocks it out of the park time and time again with these big character models.

As for the gaming side we ran another 1-day Conquest event as we’ve been doing monthly so far, our writer General Cross and I have been alternating duties on this and it was my turn to organise (and play!). Locally Conquest is definitely still growing with some small groups just outside of London too; it’s great to see people’s enthusiasm and lovingly painted minis on the tables. Hoping for much more of this in the new year! I also attended the Ragnarok Age of Sigmar GT and this was…frankly disappointing as an event. I really do not enjoy bringing negativity to my posts and so didn’t do a trip report afterwards; nothing to do with how I performed as a player or anything against anyone that attended! Each of my opponents were fantastic and there was some fun to be had from that alone. I did win best painted with my Fyreslayers which was pretty cool and even got a big set of Army Painter Speed Paint 2.0 for it; I’ve even tried a few and really liked them!

November – 35

Looking ahead to 2024 I’ve been asked by some friends through another Discord community, Rollmodels, to be their 6th player for an Age of Sigmar Teams event at the end of January. After playing a couple dozen games of AoS with my Fyreslayers this year I decided it was due time for a change of pace!

All of November’s hobby time went straight into this to: a new Gloomspite Gitz army. After painting Trugg earlier in the year for review I wanted to go with a Trogg-heavy themed force but it’s ended up being a bigger mix of troggs and squigs instead. I’ve even gotten 8 games in so far with the army with a few different builds and really loving how they play; entirely different from my Fyreslayers in a way that’s exciting…but also quite good, frankly.

Rockgut Troggoths – Credit Bair

Dankhold Troggboss credit: Bair

Moonclan Grot Stabbas Credit: Bair

Sporesplatta Fanatics – Credit Bair

I painted 12 Rockguts but only photographed, they’re basically just the same twice over. I’m going a bit more in-depth with the painting on this army than I have for others before. Maybe it’s because of winning that best painted? Whatever the reason I’m actually doing highlights on all of these! Insane. But I am very pleased with how they’re turning out!

December – 38

Here we are! The last month of the year! The month started off terribly, too, being laid off from my job which I’d had for over 2.5 years. Things turned around pretty quickly and I was able to find something frankly better within 2 weeks leaving me with garden leave for the rest of the month to paint, play games, and pack for a trip to Slovakia to see my in-laws and spend the holidays with them. Honestly getting fired was the best thing that could have happened and the timing, though it seemed awful at first, turned out to be great. Through many interviews I discovered a lot about the kind of work I’d been doing, the options I actually had as a consequence, and just a lot about myself. I don’t necessarily recommend it but in this case it was needed and I’m actually grateful for it.

December was all about painting more and more Gitz as well as one last(?) warband for Burrows and Badgers, using some minis I already had and picking up a few others for it (once I knew I was employed again!).

Squig Herd – Credit Bair

Boingrot Bounderz – Credit Bair

I do love these dumb squigs. Part of “being a better painter” has meant doing highlights on everything which has slowed me down understandably but I’ve got to admit they do look better.

For Burrows and Badgers I got to play 3 games this month and posted some pics about it and come on, it’s just the cutest little skirmish game isn’t it??

That’s to say it’s often a very cute skirmish game. I wanted to push a bit darker with another warband with Necromancers. That blue/oxide/green ghost colour is so common that I wanted something a bit different. After asking around a little Lupe gave me the idea to match the purple robes on the necromancers to the flames. With that idea in mind I decided to keep the robes darker but the flames much brighter with some white on the edges to really give off the effect of other-worldly flame and magic.

Necromantic Warband credit – Bair

I don’t know if it’s only because I just finished these up a couple days ago but these are some of my favourite minis I’ve ever painted. A great mix of the cute animal skirmish mixed with incredibly dark magics and undead animals. I also just love how the orange on that red fox stands out so much in contrast to the rest of them; a good thing too since she’s the leader! And come on, that mole right in front digging its way up? Amazing.

There was also one last Star Wars Legion event for me to attend. Across the year the organisers for the London Series have been using a super-secret algorithm from standings of events to create the Golden Grogu – an overall standing for how people have performed across the year. I played with my CIS droids for 4 events ranking 3rd for CIS players and 14th overall of the 71 individuals that were involved. Is that partially because I simply attended more events than I’m sure many others were able to? I won’t go into that, just be impressed. But doing this well did earn me an invitational ticket. After playing droids all year I made the incredibly smart decision of taking my Shadow Collective force with 4 units of Mandalorians lead by Gar Saxon and…lost all my games. Oops. Maybe not playing the game at all for 2 months and then taking a list I only played once 6 months prior was a bad idea. Maybe. But it was fun! I’m very much looking forward to more of these next year.

Looking Back, and Ahead

It’s been a pretty great year all things considered. Weddings, funerals, layoffs, and positive changes. And some hobby and games mixed between! I am very excited to see what 2024 has in store for me and for all of us with more painting, more games, and more events.

I might even buy and start using a palette instead of painting straight out of the pot! Who knows!

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns leave a comment below or email in to