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In the Grim Darkness of 2023…

 In the Grim Darkness of 2023…

…we did more hobby.  Public shocked.   Politicians outraged.  Who could have expected this?!

Tom: We’ve been a little on and off with these recap posts over the decade but over the last few years we’ve got pretty good at consistently remembering to do it.  In 2023 10th edition 40k came out.  As usual with the last few new 40k editions, 10e has some issues we grumbled about but overall seems to once again be the best edition ever.  That said, the codex reboot has put us on the back foot a little and we haven’t had any major big group events this year.  And, as you will see below, 2023 has been a less than stellar year for many of our nerd herd.  Nevertheless, lets see what everyone has been up to.

Warning: Drew's review contains graphic imagery (of miniature carnage).  


Charlie: The original intention was to finish the Goffs this year, so here’s a shot of my year’s output:

Sad tuba sound.

OK in truth I had a good year, just not on the stuff I planned to. I wrote about my year in more detail over on Goonhammer, but here's the TLDR: I put a lot of focus on making 40K co-op supplement Fury of the Swarm, but did also get a heap of other stuff painted. By my standards, at least. I joined forces with Drew, Harvey, and even a light sprinkling of Maisey to get two sets of Space Hulk terrain painted, and (again with help from Drew) got a regiment of Hochland halberdiers grunted out, along with one or two rather glorious Empire minis:

The biggest win of all, however, was the 1,350 points I added to my growing collection of Cobalt Scions. The Third Company now stands at 63 marines plus command and auxiliary elements. Here’s what I did this year:

In 2024 I'm hoping to make further progress towards having a full battle company (how did this happen?), plus a chunk of fantasy terrain, orks, orcs, and maybe start a new 40K army. If I can finish the orks first.


Tom: My biggest achievement of 2023 was not starting a new army.  My second biggest achievement was creating a spreadsheet, and yes I’m still talking about my hobby, not work.  My project tracker has been a huge motivator for me, and through the powers of formulae I can tell you that since April I have cleared a whopping 18% of my Pile Of Shame, whilst still buying plenty of new exciting models.

The backlog has been a very esoteric mix of stuff, with a slight trend towards finishing all my Tyranids for Charlie’s Fury of the Swarm, but most of the new purchases have been retooling my Raven Guard for 10th and expanding them.  I’m hoping that 2024 is going to be a continuation of this trend of rational productivity.  That or I fall off the wagon entirely and buy myself a Thunderhawk…

The cost and effort to make this piece of scenery that can shelter maybe 3 Guardsmen was surely worth it!  Darktide is to blame.
In the navy, Yes, you can sail the seven seas!
Can’t lead Intercessors if you’re wearing the wrong clothes!

Squadron 40, DIVE!


Jeff: 2023 has been a super weird year and, if I’m honest, could mostly get entirely in the bin. Unfortunately this led to my hobby mojo being taken behind the tool shed and then going to live on a nice farm upstate. BUT! Because I’m me and something of a speed-freak when I am actually in “go-go-GO!” mode… there was actually progress. Just a bit random…

Initially I was continuing Word Bearers buoyed on by the Lachesis gloriousness, sadly mojo faded halfway through some units I’d started, doubtless it’ll be back but, y’know [gestures vaguely at 2023]. Having tried to get back on that horse a few times I eventually got fed up and decided I needed a palate cleanser, cue just over 3500 points of Battlefleet Gothic chaos… Yep. Like I say, it’s been sprints. These haven’t been properly blogged yet [gestures vaguely at 2023] so there’s a sneaky peek below. 

Finally though, finally the storm clouds started to properly clear and look! Mojo really did go to live on a farm! I can visit him! It’s still a fair trek to get there but I finally had motivation and focus. So did I go back to the Word Bearers? Oh my sweet summer child. No, instead I decided the time is now and launched at a brand new source of dopamine (sorry, army) and began the Kessarine 11th Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Guard. Cue another sprint and I’ve painted almost 70 dudes for them. Only half has been blogged yet [gestures vaguely at… look you know the drill] but keep your eyes peeled for the new year. Then so, so many tanks. 

An emblematic photo of my year, half finished Word Bearer loveliness

From the Sands to the Stars, the men and women of Kessarine

Behold, voidborne dooooom!


Andrew: My year has not been the most productive if I’ll be honest.  I’ve managed a princely total of 1 post here (not counting token contributions to other posts) although this has been more because thanks to finding asbestos in our house I’ve been living either in a hotel or campervan for nearly 3 months of the year, and my models have either been at Toms, or in storage 🙁.

This means almost all of my hobby has been extremely concentrated into when I’ve managed to get the stars to align.  However, having to go back through all the pics on my phone to compile this, I realise I’ve not done too badly considering.

January saw me trying to get my fledgling Alpha Legion force into some semblance of completion in anticipation of a weekend of gaming at Charlies.  I really should post these properly but they are still a WiP so that will wait a while.

My only other significant hobby activities were the Thunderhawk I painted in a day in September - A Thunderhawk in a day, and for my birthday in May I went and bought myself the Fellowship of the Ring, then promptly built, and painted them using a variant of the ever popular zenithal-drybrush technique but just using regular paints as I don’t own any contrast/speed paints.  Everything this year was kind of done in a day it seems.

The other images you can see there are from my trip to Salute in April where they’d introduced panel discussions which were a great feature, and the “pegging” I got when I chatted to the lovely folks from the Painting Phase.  There’s also some fun pics of the Warhammer World Rhino and Space Marine in the snow from December (fun fact, its snowed 50% of the times I’ve visited WHW), and the Wardog/Armiger kit-adjustment I’m working on to give them a more anatomical gait (think T-rex from Jurassic Park).

As for 2024 - I honestly have no idea what it may bring.  In my to-do is to finish up what I want to build/paint for the Chaos Marines, the Space Marines army that I’ve never started, and I hope there’ll be some Old World, but who really knows.


Maisey: 2022 was the year my life exploded and killed off any hobby motivation I might have had. This lack of motivation and continuing real life exploding nonsense continued into 2023. I did however find a small island of peace in the spring/early summer and managed to get a functional force of Orks going. Which I was terribly happy with as I’ve always loved the vibe of the Orks but couldn’t quite manage to find a paint scheme that worked for me. Then 10th Ed dropped and extinguished my fragile little hobby flame once again. Followed by more real life rubbish meaning I’ve essentially not hobbied (aside from some light role play sessions and a few evening painting sessions on discord) for the best part of six months.

Then a Christmas Miracle happened. A massive Deathwing Terminator box gets previewed along with a whole bunch of other shiny goodness for the Dark Angels. I absolutely cannot pass that by. So, my plan for 2024 is Green, Black, and Bone…   


Boris: In 2023, I successfully managed to stay “on brand” and engage with the hobby in wild, unscheduled bursts with no constraint whatsoever. Thanks to Thomas, I was given an airbrush to try and - thanks to zero self-control - spent a lot of time making it a core part of my painting process. Lo and behold, I can now achieve results that I find as good as/even better than my previous way of painting in an absolute fraction of the time.

Given that this however also necessitates the use of lacquers and oil paints, which are new to me as well, I take 2023 as an extensive learning experience. 

As Charlie very kindly put it: “Your hobby superpower is a total fearlessness for trying new things [...]”. (probably the nicest compliment I got in years)

Drew: It also happens to be incredibly true. 

With a bit of luck, it will allow me to catch up with my plastic “mount of opportunity” in 2024.

Based on the Salamanders comic strip by u/reclusiart on Reddit, I HAD TO get an ancient and a dreadnought.

Only the Emperor knows how long these three have been sitting unfinished before Thomas lent me the airbrush.

Before airbrush and oil washes, I dreaded painting the art-deco blue and gold. Now I love it and can do one of these in about 2 hours, including priming. What’s not to like?


Thomas: Towards the end of 2022, I experienced the bereavement of a very close family member which caused me to lose most of my hobby mojo in the early and mid 2023. Especially my Warhammer40k mojo just died to a standstill. Throughout the entire 2023 I had two games, one regular games with my long-forgotton Necron army, (very fitting they awoke to fight a single battle, just to go to rest again as they were victorious) and another co-op Tyranid Swarm gamemode concocted by the Bunker’s very own Charlie. 

To regain some hobby momentum I wanted to start with something new, it only seemed fitting to me at the time. I wanted to delve into an alternative to Games Workshop models, so bought the starter set for Mutant Chronicles and decided I wanted to paint up the miniatures. Still a few more to go. 

That regained some of the momentum, I started painting a few specialised 40k characters, such as the ‘new’ ork Kommandos along with Commissar Cain and his trusted aide Jürgen. With the painting mojo back, I decided finally to unbox my leviathan set and with some sort of demonic possession I painted all the Marines as Dark Angels in less than a month. The Marines will be a gift for a friend of mine, he loves to play the game, but he hates to paint. I want to play him, but I hate gray models. Perfect solution (especially since I do not want to start a new Marine army).

There are currently no projects for 2024 hobby wise other than the obligatory statement “I should get some more games in and get through my pile of painting opportunities”. I might paint up the Tyranids that came with Levithan set so they can reinforce the evergrowing Tyranid swarm in the Beardbunker for Charlie’s coop mode Fury of the Swarm. Slightly Hobby related, I might want to see if I can lure Boris into getting another painting gadget, suggestions welcome below!

A couple of Mutant Chronicles models. Mostly painted with speedpaint to regain my hobby mojo by seeing some finished models fast. I full-hearted recommend this approach if you ever find yourself low on mojo.
Commissar Cain and Jürgen observing the battle from a safe distance, models by Artel W.
Finally the Leviathan Marines painted as Dark Angels. My favourite is the Apothecary, the white paint scheme posed an interesting challenge and I personally think I nailed it.


Drew: So my 2023 hobby kicked off with a loud, unsolicited bang at about 4am in early January: the bookshelf that housed my precious little knife-ears collapsed resulting in some tears, and enough broken Eldar bodies to satiate even a Black Templar. 

The real hunter of Aeldari souls: Ikea

However traumatic, the second fall of the Aeldari proved not to be the end, as resident nerd herder (and eternal space-elf lover) Charlie helped me salvage most of them, including meticulously sculpting the pointing finger back on the Swooping Dork Exarch like the absolute champ he is. 

Unfortunately with the release of 10th edition, my enthusiasm for my bestest blue (teal? turquoise?) bois waned significantly and for the majority of the year I didn’t progress with them much at all. In the meantime I helped out with scenery painting for a Charlie/Harvey joint, got to have a go at mass producing empire soldiers for a fantasy campaign, did a bow-wielding fire wizard, several randomly abandoned Eldar units and also had an ill fated run at trying to make my own guard army which has since been relegated to project purgatory.  

I can only take credit for the Wizard in red, the chap with a penchant for tin is a Charlie job.

The greatest boost to my hobby was the very kind offer of Tom to run a co-operative 40k campaign entitled ODF (Orbital Death Fridge, to the uninitiated) which managed to propel me into painting/finishing 6 different units in a little under three weeks because the power of deadline cannot be overstated. It ended up being the most hobby fun I’ve had all year and was a stellar way to finish. 


As for 2024, I have big plans and a small attention span. The launch of Warhammer Old World has got several of the Beard Bunker nerds very excited to run our own campaign and an army of Wood Elves absolutely calls to me. With regards to 40k, I’d love to start my own little pocket of Votann, or maybe even a little contingent of Dark Kraken Space Marines. 


Rob: Last year I confidently predicted that 2023 would be a year filled with the Cities of Sigmar. I was wrong. I mean, it was, for lots of people, as GW released a whole new range of models to represent the ordinary folk of the Mortal Realms – but the sculpts left me curiously unmoved. Instead, I threw myself into smaller, whimsical projects. Much of the Spring was absorbed by a desire to recreate “The War of the Worlds” in 6mm: cue batching rank after rank of spiffing Victorian Home Service infantrymen and (“But still, They come!”) Martian tripods. 

I played some Man O’War and the odd game of Blitz Bowl. 

In the Summer I painted up band of Tokugawa-era adventurers (with their tame Oni), and then sent them into battle in a series of games of The Silver Bayonet – a tight and evocative set of skirmish rules, and highly recommended if you haven’t tried it. 

In the Autumn, after diving deep into Jules Verne, I started a group to represent The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; I hope to get them on the table next year. 

And throughout the year (and in anticipation of a Warhammer Fantasy renaissance in 2024?), I chipped away at an enormous Expeditionary Force of Lothern Sea Guard, including repainting some of the very first Warhammer models that younger Rob jabbed a brush at. I hope your 2024 is filled with sprues, glues, and good-humoured flights of fantasy, and thanks to everyone who has painted, hobbied, and gamed with me this year.