Brainstorming, and the Inevitable Preamble
When Bend, Oregon’s Modern Games, my FLGS, started carrying Monument Hobbies Pro Acryl paints in October, a few of us in the community wanted to do something special. Quite a few of us had already been Crylpilled, so were excited to get these paints into peoples’ hands. After cooking on it for a second, we devised a challenge:
One night. Four paints. One Space Marine.
My buddy (and community fixture) Michael Kriegler reached out to Monument Hobbies and within a single email got them on board, with Modern following suit. A few days later and our event was in the books for December. In preparation, the community donated some random Space Marines – Intercessors, Infernus Marines, Hellblasters, you name it – and got them built and zenithal’d. Zac, Erika, and myself would be judging, and along with Michael we devised a randomized system for determining paints. I was content to truly let fate decide, rolling a pair of dice corresponding to the rows and columns of the Monument paint rack at the store. Zac instead devised a system with a little less variation and a little more control, so every attendee would be getting a saturated hue, a dark/mixed hue, a light hue, and a metallic, with a single reroll if desired. This would avoid someone getting four variations on beige or whatever, and somewhat level this randomized playing field. We settled on a grading rubric and promptly threw it out in favor of a 1-10 scale. Even the best events are held together with at least some chewing gum and duct tape, afterall. With the word out on social media and some excitement drumming up in our local Discord, all we could do now was cross our collective fingers and wait til mid-December.
The Event – Wednesday, December 15
Zac and I showed up around 5, setting up my lightbox and his DLSR at our little judging station. Zac would be photographing miniatures, Erika would be photographing the event, and I’d eventually be doing some three-beers-deep public speaking. I got a head start with a Blackberry Burn blackberry habanero cider from Avid (more sweet than heat, and genuinely delightful) while people poured in. I cannot understate how cool it is that this game store has a draught line.
From 5:30 to 6:00 people were getting their supplies and getting situated, and the store quickly became a full house. 29 people had showed up, filling every seat including those at the judging table. I recognized about half the faces in there – regular attendees of Wednesday’s Warhammer nights and their partners, mostly – but there were a load of first timers and people I’d never met before. I did the rounds for a bit; chatting with hobbyists, wandering over towards the wall of shit I absolutely did not need to buy, and staying on station to answer any questions.
Folks were absolutely guiding themselves here, and I was thrilled to see it. Even the youngest folks in attendance were turning to their neighbors for advice, and total strangers were happily sitting together, working on their Space Marines. There were at least a few first-time painters absolutely going for it, and the vibes were cozy and friendly. The event was practically running itself now that everybody was settled.
With at least an hour left before we expected to get much to judge, Zac and I went next door to Brown Owl for dinner. I had a Phil’s Pils from Wild Ride Brewing, one of the least remarkable pilsners I’ve ever had from a brewery I usually regard quite highly. The popcorn chicken and fries kicked ass though.
On our return, there was a stack of models to photograph and another hour before our “brushes down” deadline of 9pm. Zac got to work while I had a Bandon Rain Apple Pie, a cider that tastes just like its namesake. It’s heavier and more syrupy than Cigar City’s Home Made Apple Pie, a cider I’ve described as “cognitive dissonance in a can” but it’s still quite good.
Models started to roll in, and aside from some folks putting their unphotographed models in amongst the models Zac already photographed, things went smoothly. He would later have to track those folks down and get more pictures for the article, so thank him for the legwork.
We had hit 9pm, and Zac, Erika and I had some work to do. The painters largely filtered out of the store, going next door to River Pig for some beers while their work would be evaluated. We had awards to hand out for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Wooden/Golden Spoon, so we got critical. We figured most of the journeyman paintjobs for the 4-7 range, where people understood the assignment and just tried to get colors on there. Golden Spoon would involve finding one of the newcomer paintjobs and commending them for clearly putting in the effort. For 1st-3rd we were looking for clean lines, blends, highlights, and other more advanced techniques. Zac and I were generally in alignment on most models, usually coming within a point or two of each other on our grading spreadsheet. Erika was the self-appointed “mom vote”; a tiebreaker and someone looking for a certain X factor that Zac or I might have glossed over. We had roughly 30 Marines in 30 minutes to look over, so we blasted through and tried to judge as best we could with the time we had.
Before we knew it, 9:30 had rolled around, and it was time to announce the winners. We had 4 different Monument Hobbies paint sets to distribute, along with some Modern Games gift cards for the 1st, 2nd, and Golden Spoon recipients. Michael would announce each winner, I’d offer the judges’ reasoning for our selection, and we’d call the next one up. Afterwards, we’d stay available for more detailed feedback for anyone who wanted it.
1st Place – Q
I’ve been seeing Q grow as a hobbyist over the last two years, and seeing him go from simple but clean paintjobs to edge highlights and freehand has been amazing to see. The color placement, clean highlights, mixed colors on the lenses, and freehand sold me on this one for 1st. I genuinely thought he brought a decal sheet with him.
2nd Place – Barkin
The synthwave color palette Barkin rolled up was one that could have sunk him, but he absolutely killed it. The color blends were great, I loved his highlights, and he even got some freehand on the pauldrons. I wish he mixed some of his pink in with the highlight color for something a little less stark, but it was a great model.
3rd Place – Jessica
Jessica not only applied clean colors and highlights, but went hogwild painting paisley on her pauldrons. I wish she did more to distinguish the gun, as it looks fairly monotone compared to the rest of the model, but her freehand patterns are what brought this model above the rest.
Golden Spoon – Drew
This was not only this Drew’s first Space Marine, but his first time painting a miniature altogether. Not only did Drew use all four colors, but he tried blending for highlights and applied them fairly neatly. I was happy to give him feedback, and I’m thrilled he went for it. Welcoming new blood is the only way our communities can continue to grow, and encouraging those folks will keep them coming back.
All the Rest
While I don’t have all the names on hand for the other contestants, here are all the other entries we got photos of. As mentioned before, a few folks put their finished models in the “already photographed” pile and as a result we missed some photos, but we were still able to judge them all. As you can see, some people really thrived in the limitations of this event, and it made picking the winners a challenge.
The strongest feeling coming out of this was one of community. I figured, worst case scenario, the usual Wednesday night crew would show up. I didn’t think we’d double that and fill the place, or that so many folks would stick around til the end. It’s asking a lot for folks to spend 4 hours at a game store on a Wednesday night, especially around the holidays. I’ll let Michael take it from here:
Many thanks to Monument Hobbies and Modern Games for sponsoring this event. Have any questions or feedback? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at email@example.com.