Greetings one and all! Well, they've been a little while coming but they're here and ready to follow the order: FIRE BROADSIDES!
Yep, finally joining their little autonomous buddies the Drones are their big manned (Tau'ed?) cousins the Broadside Battlesuits. I've talked a bit about the details of their construction and battle damage here so I'll leave that there. I will though mention a few thoughts about the models as they are the first Tau I've painted from the second wave of designs that came through, obviously there is now a third wave too but the point is valid. These are a huge improvement on the old "pin a pair of metal cannons on the back of a top heavy plastic model and call it good" school of Broadside. I will confess I was initially a bit "awww" that the client wanted the missile versions as I really like the "rifleman" railgun configuration. But these really grew on me and I can certainly see the tactical reason you would want them in this arrangement.
Painting wise, I was using the same mixes as the Drones and for the same reasons. I wanted the suits to look like they contained soldiers and bright saturated colours like Tau Light Ochre do not do that. Instead I kept the scheme down at the XV-88 end of the spectrum to have that military drab feel without losing the "Tau desert" scheme. I will say to anyone making one or more of these: Sub Assemblies are your friend as they are a beast to paint in one piece.
What do I mean by sub assemblies? Well, I'm talking leaving the arms, smart missile system and possibly the seeker missile off while painting and doing them separately with a view to adding them at the end. I very, very rarely do this as I think it causes problems with composition, shading, highlighting, all sorts. But once you've tried to basecoat the armour plates of one of these the with the three coats of XV-88 it takes to get a clean basecoat (assuming you want thinned nice flat paint with no brushstrokes) and doing so with all the fiddliness of getting around the obstructions? You'll wish you had left it in pieces. I certainly did. Lets just say XV-88 is no Tausept Ochre and draw a respectful veil over the loss of foundation paints once more.
Thankfully, once the basecoats were on the rest of the painting really was not that bad at all, even fun in places. The scheme complements nicely and I think using the green lenses as I went for makes for a more pleasing contrast than the red on the studio ones. The bullet holes (which I'm quite chuffed with) were built up in layers, first a pale version of the basecoat to look like chipped edges, then some dark brown/black/dab of plate mail metal to be the exposed and oxidised metal, then some shinier bits for the edges and finally a bright metal centre where the round impacted. I then got some Ammo enamel "Streaking Grime" and dirtied up the area around each impact to tie them into the armour rather than looking like shiny fried eggs on the surface. Some dusty weathering on the lower legs - careful washes of the basing colours - helped tie the model to it's environment and as usual helped with the "soldier not toy" vibe.
All in all, a challenging but not unenjoyable task. They are in their cardboard dropship now making their way to their new home and I wish them the best of luck getting past their shiny model syndrome as quickly as possible. As an aside, I've been reading Iain M Banks "Culture" series over the last few months and my view of the Tau is shifting in light of it. I love the idea of the drones having individual sentience rather than being slaved. It would make the Tau a really different race with machine intellect being granted equal status to organic. Ah well, in the Jeffiverse of the year 40,000 that is totally what is happening. Never mind what canon says eh?