Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge

I had a really great time participating in the Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge.  This is a contest which encouraged its participants to complete an 1850-point army over the course of eleven months.  The participants would set a goal for themselves every month and paint it and then report their success or failure.  Fortunately, failure in a particular month did not take you out of the running for the year; you simply received one less draw from the prize lottery.  This encouraged people who were flagging to keep at it.

The guys on the show were surprised at the number of people who signed up and the number of people who completed their armies.  I wasn't.  The show is extremely popular, and for good reason... the quality of their content is second to none.  Also, the community over at the Independent Characters Forums is really supportive, diverse, and vibrant.  The prizes didn't hurt either.  Two winners will receive a snazzy KR Multicase Kaiser 2 or Kaiser 3 figure case.  

It seems as if the Hobby Progress Challenge has become an Independent Characters staple. The podcast is very whole-hobby in scope and this is right in their wheelhouse.  The fact that the community is so robust, yet pleasant to interact with makes it almost a no-brainer that the tradition should continue to 2014.

One of the great things about an annual challenge like this is that it can hold you accountable for your hobby goals. We all buy models, some of us like crazy.  It's easy to fall behind.  What's important to realize is that the only thing holding you back is your own ambition. Event the busiest individual can find a few minutes in their day or a few hours in their week make some hobby progress.  Being a part of the community is really helpful at reminding others of this, not only through actual encouragement, but by painting your own models and setting a good example.


I'm only a recent adopter of this hobby. I've only been playing since late 2010 and I'm over 35 years old.  Until this year, I'd lamented that others did not seem very interested in posting on my hobby threads throughout the general 40k internet community.  I admit that this was due in no small part to selfish conceit.  It took me a while to realize that my problem wasn't the community, but it was me.  I wasn't putting in the time, so people weren't putting in the time for me.   It may sound like a lot of Kumbya nonsense, but it's important to acknowledge that any relationship, even faceless relationships over the internet, are reciprocal.

It was at that point that I made a resolution to put as much time as possible into commenting on the progress of others, encouraging them, and giving them tips when I could.  I think it paid off.  A lot of folks thanked me for my input and that felt good.  Not only that, but my thread saw a lot of traffic meaning I got a lot of great advice and my ego was sufficiently stroked!
Thanks a lot to the ICs Hobby Progress Challenge participants.  You guys really did an awesome job encouraging me and everyone else to meet their goals.  Thank you for your time and your kindness.

Oh my gosh! Stop going on and on about yourself for a change and tell me how to join up for 2014!

If you're interested in challenging yourself to get your models painted, I strongly suggest you sign up to the forums and the Independent Characters Facebook page (which I just found out existed). Information regarding the 2014 challenge should be forthcoming.

The Completed Armies

Here you'll find all of the completed armies.  There were many more which were not completed, but still showed wonderful progress, but I wanted to laud these awesome accomplishments here on the blog.  I was happy to watch all of these armies grow over the course of the year.  I must say that I received a great deal of inspiration for more than a few of the armies listed here.

Don't forget to *CLICK* the images for bigger versions!

This army shows a true dedication to the ruinous powers.  The Challenge only encompassed Angorn's Alpha Legion forces.  His entire combined Chaos force is truly something to behold.

I don't often see pre-Heresy Space Wolves, so this army was a treat.  I love the special bitz he used on these like the shields and some of them have cool face paint.  That's a lot of infantry... and you haven't even seen his entire army!

The Imperial Guard players really showed their stuff this year.  I feel like I have a special kinship with IG players because I can imagine it's a lot like collecting Orks with all the bibs and bobs on some of the models and the sheer model count involved.  Atomic42's Imperial Guard were one of my favorite armies.  The camo pattern he put on the models was inspired.

Anyone who puts hazard stripes on their entire army deserves my resepect.  Azza's Iron Warriors are an eclectic band of nogoodnicks who boast an eclectic yet uniform mixture of models which seems like it's really fun to look at from the other side of the table.  That is, of course, until the templates start falling.  

Must not start a Tyranid collection. Must not start a Tyranid collection.  bigoriginal's Tyranids are the kind of army you show your friend who is wondering how he ought to go about painting his 'Nid army. It is a masterclass in consistency from model to model. Another hobbyist could take this scheme as a template, switch around some colors, and get a totally different look.

Another skillful execution, this Necron Army is a good example of how to make metallics compliment the paint they're paired with.  All too often hobbyists will treat a metallic like a neutral color when it isn't.  I think the greens in this army were very well-chosen.

I think that work ethic must be a trait of Space Wolf players because here's another fierce force of purebred badasses.  The scheme is a little different from what I'm used to seeing in a Space Wolf army and I was glad to see it.  As with any cool Space Wolf army, you'd do well to check out his thread for some interesting individual model characteristics.

I love seeing Khorne armies on the table and I would be both pleased and terrified to see this deployed opposite me.  Brninghalo's Daemons take an iconic theme and apply it with excellent skill.  In particular, I liked the old Bloodthirster model.  He is thirsty.  For your blood.  It's a fact.

I am terrified of anything that has to do with camo of any kind and his big models really remind me of some of the schemes used for modern tanks.  Very believable.  Also, I'm very fond of some of the Turquoise and Bronze sprinkled into the infantry.  Cicero is an active poster who's done a lot to engage in the community during the challenge.  Let's just be glad his namesake never got wind of his devotion to the Greater Good!

cornu mortem
I could spend an entire blog post talking about this man's army.  Seriously, I wouldn't even know where to begin.  Perhaps the THREE Caestus Assault Rams?  The beautiful bikes?  The nearly flawless marines?  Or how about the giant, awesome themed table?  I can't... I don't even...

The smooth blending and delicious contrasts are what stand out in cuzzle's Mymeara Eldar army.  I wish I could show you more of what he painted, but this is just an example.  

You have to show respect for anyone who paints Iyanden Eldar.   DaveB's patience shows in his paint work.  The bright colors look smooth and crisp on the models.  Of course, DaveB was keepin' it cool before it was cool, giving us all a lesson in his first post on who the Iyanden are and ruminating on what Games Workshop could possibly have in store for Wraith constructs in 2013.  I guess we found out, eh Dave?

This regimented Ultramarine army boasts smooth coats and crisp edges.  The characters are beautiful and well-detailed.  I love the bright blue that demands your attention in a bold yet not gaudy way.

Prolific while maintaining good quality and being a very supportive member of the ICs community are Ephriel's hallmarks.  This army is a recognizable Sisters makeup, but contains some very cool bits of flair which make it pop.  Not the least of which are wings on the Immolator cupolas!  Ephriel is a valued member of the community and the Sisters were a staple of our boards post consumption this year and we're lucky to have him.

Another user who's contribution to the whole hobby can't be overstated, falsevariablex has a great army here.  These Necrons are just astounding.  So much care went into the development of the army (including some digital prototyping) that the end product is nearly perfection.  Yes, I'm a sucker for ORANGE, but I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say this is one of the best-looking armies of the challenge and painted by an all around cool and encouraging person.

Another cool Imperial Guard entry takes advantage of the new Allies rules to a really cool effect.  The cleanlines of the brushwork on his infantry is on a level that baffles my patience level.  

The Nihilakh Dynasty must have been quite a party because they are rockin' some seriously fancy rides!  The Copper (or Bronze, I can never tell the difference) really complements the blues which, to me, are weathered to like they could be a ceramic material of some kind.  The mad skillz are clear from the huge flyer right down to the individual infantry where you can marvel at the glow of his sickly-green spot coloring.

Yeller iz da new red!  This Ork army pretty much sums up what Orks are to me... ridiculous and vicious! An Ork army should look rough around the edges, but there's something to be said for a cacophonous beauty.  Of course, my favorite part of the army are the kustomized vehciles.  The truckks are just incredible.  

Is he a Hunter of the Horn?  I dunno, but these Dark angels sure are ready to go hunt down some filthy, traitorous dogs, and look good while doing it to boot!  I think that this traditional approach to the Dark Angels is executed impeccably with some nice unique touches added throughout including some energy effects on the skimmer.  Again, don't forget to click to zoom in!

Inquisitor Valeria
Valeria's Dark Eldar.  Okay.  I have to say that the pink hair is rad.  After that, I don't know what to say because the models truly do speak for themselves.  The infantry all have character.  The "Bastion" with it's slavedriver whipping slaves to fire its guns is amazingly creative.  Lelith is absolutely identifiable, yet completely unique.  What gets me about this army, though, is that the freaking universe is depicted on the hull of every vehicle.  If I face this army on the field of battle, I will lose so hard because I won't be able to bring myself to shoot the damned skimmers.  Add to that Valeria's support of others and you have a quality individual in the ranks.  So I guess I did know what to say. Whatever.  Check them out!

Well.  That's a lot of resin!  These pre-Heresy Death Guard are very nice with their solid and smooth white and well-executed OSL.  This army should serve as an inspiration and benchmark for anyone considering starting a pre-Heresy army.

I never tire of seeing a sweet-looking Imperial Guard/Space Marine combo.  These armuies really have a lot of storytelling potential.  I'm sure that Jerre and his opponents will find it easy to immerse themselves in their narrative because this army is painted very well and painted with believability.  

Whatever the pundits say, the Dark Angels are a popular army.  Their fluff and awesome look are impossible for some players to ignore.  I am always impressed by the care many DA players put into their armies.  Of course, Limey_ElJonson does not sway from this tendency.  His double-wing force won't fail to impress his opponents.

This guy's army is a terrible and amateurish attempt at hobby progress!  What kind of person has a Dentist for a Warlord anyways?

Magilla Gurilla
It's rare that you see a uniformly-painted Chaos Daemons army and this one is a treat.  Anyone who was paying attention to last year's Hobby Progress Challenge knows that Magilla is capable of some really high-quality work.  He has the speed. He knows the tricks.  He has the eye.  I'm curious to see what he comes up with for 2014.

I wonder if there was some kind of memo that went out to all the Necron players about using green this year.  Ministerofpork mixed things up, though with the addition of yellow as a spot color.  I really love that combination and I've been looking for a reason to use it. 

Who doesn't love some Minotaurs? I mean, really?  What's not to like about space Centurions?  These models would make Rory Pond proud.  They would guard their wife for 2000 years.  Such an awesome character.  Huh? What was I saying?  Oh, right! Minotaurs!  The metallics are good and he paid the proper attention to the other areas as well which is good because sometimes when hobbyists do a metallic army, they will unwittingly ignore the other parts of the model which need work. 

NockerGeek's Black Templars, intentional or not, really exemplify the Chapter for me.  I think that the very flat base color reflects their black souls and the beautifully-executed, rocky winter bases reflect their stone cold hearts.  I don't like this chapter, but I love this army.  I would absolutely love to play against them as villains in a campaign with my own Space Marines or Orks army!  Of course, I'm sure NockerGeek would have a thing or two to say about which one of us is playing the villain!

This army is just chock full of disgusting goodies from the ubiquitous Plague Bearers to the adorably filthy Nurglings to the impressive resin pieces.  What a delightful cavalcade of rot and rust!  One piece of advice for your army if you should ever face this band of filth monsters... don't drink the water on their bases... no matter how thirsty you are!

This is another wonderful example of a traditional theme executed with skill.  I was really impressed with the defined, solid lines and the even tone of the basecoats on every model.  There were a couple of times during the challenge when I thought "That looks great" and pablo would say "Almost done!" under the picture and I'd then think, "It's not done?"  But, when he revealed the final product I'd understand, no, it hadn't been done because pablo was putting the extra effort in for his traditional scheme to stand out by going above and beyond average.

Pdizzle soldiered through the challenge with determination.  If you visit his thread, you will see a general improvement from month to month.  Pdidggitydazzle's army exemplifies the point of the challenge.  Get paint on your models.  Apply and improve with the support of an awesome community.  Pdank, I hope to see more from you next year whether you do more Eldar or move on to something else.

These Tzeench horrors are pure magic to the eye.  I love the gentle fades throghout the army and quite enjoy some of the unit designation decisions such as the yellow horrors.  My favorite models are the Flamer chariots with their magical flame.

I already talked about Pez.  He is a poop.  Though, poop he may be, his army is not a poop.  It is a gem.  Top to bottom.  Every infantry model.  Every inch of the vehicles.  All of it.  As my droog, Alex once put it, "Oh bliss! Bliss and heaven! Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest-spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a spaceship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures!" Except I viddied it instead of slooshied. If you think I'm being a butt-kissing ninnyhammer, go ahead and check out the pictures and decide for yourself.  

May seem like your run-of-the-mill Ultramarines army at first glance, but it lacks the stark white contrasts that are the hallmark of such an army.  Primebeef has tapped Forge World and excellent color choices (check out the purple-tinted power weapons!) to make his army beautifully unique even though the composition is tried and true Space Marines.  There is some capital work here and it's worth a look.

Oh, but I love a rusted Nurgle army.  It's made all the better by some pretty rad conversions, especially a massive "fly" which you would absolutely not want to be caught against armed with only a flyswatter.  This dingy cavalcade of sin is absolutely worth a look for all of you Nurgle fans out there.

Skip's army is nice okay.

This great effort by seb features a dual-wing Dark Angels army wih some cool Imperial Guard and a badass modified Valkyrie.  I'm sure this army tears up heretics like they're going out of style. Fortunately for Seb, heretics will NEVER be out of style!

So, sometimes an army is boss.  Some times it is rad.  I'm pretty sure Strahleo's Orks are both boss AND rad.  I know that this flies in the face of convention, but I'm holding my ground on this one.  My gut says this army is either Brad or Ross.  Not sure which.  Anyways, this army boasts some seriously fun models, all of which I couldn't possibly detail here.  I know a lot of hard work and dedication went into every squad.  Orks are not easy and Strahleo did an amazing job.

student teacher
Black Templars players have endured a roller coaster this year and student teacher seems to have weathered it well.  His badass infantry force is impressive to say the least.  He is a skilled hobbyist for sure.

Table Ready
I tried to think of a fancy table pun here, but to be honest Table Ready's deserves more than an idiotic pun.  This collection of the Imperium's finest warriors are a true example of a Dark Angels garrison force.  

Somehow I missed Tangentical's full army shot my first pass through the Challenge threads, but better late than never.   The Kabal of the Burnished Sapphire is a beautifully-executed and expertly designed army.  

Well, now.  That's a lot of power-armored bodies, isn't it?  These Flesh Tearers are among the best of their breed, at least that I have seen.  This is a good example of how a scheme can sometimes trick you when you look at it one unit at a time and I think that this one works best when the entire army has been assembled.

I am so terrified of Blood Angels, I must say. They are a scary army for Orks with all their deepstriking Melta and Flamers.  I feel like TheSelsword's army would be a little nicer to play against... he might allow my Orks to eat a tank or two before burninating them.  I especially like the yellow-headed assault marines and I like the removable jump packs on his terrifying Death Company.  Wait... is that a Whirlwind launcher?  Nooooooo....!!!!

Oh yeah. I loves me a swarm.  Anyone with the brass ones to throw a billion bugs on the table not only deserves my respect but the respect of every lilly-livered tin-wearing fool out there!  Awesome army with a super-gross pod for the Doom!

War Disciple
So. ORANGE.  My biased viewpoint of this army is that it is so rad that my face just exploded... and I've seen these pictures numerous times already.  I keep on having to glue my face back together which is why it's taking me so long to complete this article.  Seriously, though, this is some quality work here.  It's so nice that I honestly don't think I'm qualified to go into detail why.  Check it out for yourself.

This individual could have named his thread "How to paint space marines" because what you're looking at is an exquisite army of Blood Angels.  I love bold color, so the reds and yellows are a feast for my eyes.  It makes me hang my head in shame at my own paltry attempt at Space Marines.

Black and Green is the name of this game. I think that an army composition like this must be a lot of fun to play.  It has a lot more bodies than a "Black & Tan", yet is still fast and packs a punch.  I love how much attention WildWeasel gave to his models' edging and basing.  Every model looks like no opportunity was lost; every model is finished.  If you think that statement is strange, then you've never painted Orks!  

Mancrush.  I think I have a mancrush on Yardsman because his army is super awesome and has ORANGE in it.  Seriously, though, the Imperial Guard participants in this year's challenge have really outdone themselves and Yardsman has really stepped up.  Again, please... let the pictures do the talking.

For some reason, for the longest time, I completely blanked out on what Zeztuku was trying to accomplish with this army.  This is the perfect example of why it's not such a terrible thing to not let the rules of the game become a chain around your neck.  Use the rules that we're given to create something unique that will surprise your opponents and maybe even make them smile.  This army does that.  I love it.  Also, the Techmarine has a bitchin' ride.

Closing Thoughts

As I was compiling this list, Carl asked me if I wanted to become an administrator on the ICs forums and help run next year's Hobby Progress Challenge.  I was a little taken aback.  Granted, I've been receiving some really nice comments from folks which I have greatly appreciated, but I didn't know that my efforts were such that this level of tust had been built.  I accepted, of course.  I hope that I can help bring some cool stuff to the table for everyone next year.

Let's start planning that army for 2014, folks!


  1. Nice Compilation you made here Loopy! I agree you did a fantastic job promoting the hobby during the challenge with all of your comments. Congrats on moving up to Admin, just dont ban me ;) Thanks for posting my army here.

  2. You could always be counted on for encouragement during the challenge. I am certain you'll make a great addition to the mod circle on the IC forums. Thanks for including my army in your summary. The completed armies cover the whole range of GW armies and show how much talent the members of the IC forums possess.

  3. Admin position couldn't have gone to a better guy. Always looked forward to your encouragement during the challenge and hope to be a more active supporter myself next year!
    Thanks for the shout out to my army too!

  4. Thanks for the great post Loopy. Congrats on the admin position. I think you will do great and I have to say it was really nice to see your kind comments all throughout the competition!