Monday, 5 June 2017

Better Know A Blogger: Part 40- Rob Hawkins Hobby

This week's Better Know A Blogger features Rob Hawkins (@RobHawkinsHobby) from Rob Hawkins Hobby

I first came across Rob's blog when I was getting back into Warhammer Fantasy. I was searching for information on Undead and Vampire Counts armies and Rob Hawkins Hobby was one of the first blogs that I found. After just a few minutes on the blog, I was a big fan and have been ever since. It is easy to see why. 

As can be guessed from the title, Rob's blog is primarily focused on the painting and modelling side of the hobby. 

Without a doubt, my favourite articles are his gaming board posts. Rob is fortunate enough to make a living from this hobby of ours, and builds commission gaming boards and dioramas for a wide range of games and companies. The majority of these he posts on his blog, along with some great work in progress shots and details of how he created them. To me, these boards look absolutely fantastic (you will see some of them in the article below, but be sure to check out the blog for a lot more). The WIP and details make them look so simple to make, though all with stunning end results, that I would love to try my hand at a few of them in the future. 

Rob also posts a number of great terrain tutorials, showing you how to build and paint a number of great projects, including; swamp grass, candles, graveyard hills, a swamp board and an awesome tutorial for making neon signs

Along with his terrain projects, Rob also has a whole host of great hobby content for his various armies. These include his Undead army, Legion of the Infernal Skull, as well as some 40k content, most recently his work towards assembling a Sisters of Battle Kill Team for Shadow War: Armageddon. Most of his hobby posts will feature some form of converting and sculpting new parts for the models, as well as some fantastic paint jobs on the finished conversions. 

Not only that, but Rob has recently started selling his own resin terrain kits at Skull Forge Scenics. These are all terrain pieces that Rob designs and sculpts. While initially focused on terrain that would fit with an army of the undead (skulls, tombstones, graveyard walls), the range has started to expand into other areas. I hope we will get to see some great terrain and accessories that would fit in with a 40k battlefield at some point in the future. 

If you haven't checked out Rob Hawkins Hobby yet, do yourself a favour and add it to your blog list now. 

Here are Rob's answers to my questions:

1. What age did you get into gaming and what started it off?
I got into gaming when I was in about fifth grade. Some of the older kids in my Boy Scouts troop were playing Dungeons & Dragons, so we all made characters and played through an adventure. I was immediately hooked, and continued playing D&D through middle school. When I went to high school, I made a new group of friends who were into all kinds of role-playing games– James Bond, Robotech, Call of Cthulu.

I was a huge Star Wars fan, and when West End Games released their Star Wars RPG, I immediately grabbed it, and that became our group's main focus throughout high school and college. As the resident artist, I drew pictures of all our characters, and even started chronicling the adventures in comic book form. West End also had a miniatures expansion, and I picked that up, planning to use Micro Machine Star Wars figures and tiny army men painted like our characters to play out larger battles. I started building hex tiles, textured with sand and lichen shrubbery. Our campaign never made the transition into a full miniatures game, but I had been bitten by the miniatures bug, and that love of building and painting models and scenery would stay with me forever. My friends and I had also dabbled in Blood Bowl during that time, but I saw it as more of a board game with neat figures than a proper miniatures game. I didn't even know what a "Games Workshop" was...yet.

In 1997, my friend John returned from his tour in the Army, and introduced me to Warhammer, which was in its 5th Edition at the time. That love of models and scenery took hold, and I was all-in. I picked up a box of skeletons, and the rest is history!

2. What was the first model you ever bought/painted?
The first miniatures I ever bought and painted were Grenadier's "Adventurers of the Golden Quest" boxed set from their Dragon Lords range. I was in high school, and still playing role-playing games. I painted the set (It had a ninja in it!) and used them for the occasional game of D&D. When I got into Warhammer and started Officially™ playing miniatures games, GW's 8-man plastic skeleton set were the first models I painted, which slowly grew into my undead army. I still have some of those original skeletons.

3. What is your favourite aspect of gaming?
I love it all, but I really wouldn't be as invested in gaming without the hobby aspect. Selecting the models for my army, building and converting them, and then painting them is the best part for me. Then, seeing it all come together on the tabletop with beautiful terrain is really fulfilling. I enjoy the story aspects as well, like inventing the background and motivations for the characters in my army, and working out where they fit in the overall "sandbox" of the game's universe. When playing, I get the most enjoyment out of campaigns because they provide a lot of direction for the games themselves, the potential for alliances and unique bonuses for the army. Maneuvering and occupying territory in a map campaign becomes a game unto itself! Campaigns and tournaments also provide great motivation for getting my models finished.

4. Fondest memory in gaming?
I've been doing this for about 20 years, so there are a lot of great memories, to be sure. But one of my fondest memories is from the 2000 Baltimore Games Day. I had my Warmaster army with me to participate in the Warmaster tournament, and on the off day I checked out all the tables in the gaming hall. Joe Krone was running a Warmaster mega battle, with an entire city laid out on the battlefield. He had "burned out" buildings to replace the structures as the attacking army sacked the city. I think I spent most of the day there, laying siege to the walls of a tiny city with my tiny skeletons. It was a beautiful table, and so much fun! Warmaster is still my favorite game.

5. What are you working on right now?
Most of my time is occupied with terrain commissions, building demo tables for a few different companies. You can see photos of my previous scenery projects on my blog, and there are more in the works. I'm also sculpting some new sci-fi-themed scenery for my Skull Forge Scenics range of resin terrain kits. The models on the painting table are my Sisters of Battle kill team for Shadow War: Armageddon, and a batch of Hexwraiths for my Warhammer Age of Sigmar undead army.

6. When you are not conquering the tabletop, what do you do?
I work freelance, making tables and dioramas. I've done work for CMON, Fantasy Flight, Outlaw Miniatures, and Warcradle Studios, to name a few. Last year I also started my own scenery business, Skull Forge Scenics, sculpting and casting resin scenery kits for tabletop wargaming. Visit my online store here:

7. What would you say about your blog to someone who has never read it to draw them in?
The Rob Hawkins Hobby Blog is a wealth of information about tabletop wargaming. I post about once a week, and the topics range from scenery tutorials, to modeling and painting tutorials, the lore I've written for my vast undead army, and the occasional review and rant. There are galleries of my miniatures and gaming tables, and you can stay on top of any developments and new products for Skull Forge Scenics.

8. What is your favourite article that you have written?
I really enjoyed writing up the backstory for my undead army, the Legion of the Infernal Skull. It was a nice trip down memory lane as I covered the history of my army and development in the hobby. I had never committed the lore to paper prior to this; it was just ruminating around in my head, so it was good to actually lay it all out in text. You can see that post here:

Another favorite was my Fast as Lightning post about building and painting a Skaven Doom Wheel in a day. I took a photo every half hour or so, as I worked, and then wrote up the post the following day. That was a lot of fun! That post is here:

9. Which rule would you like to see changed or removed entirely?
Nothing specific comes to mind, but I'm generally not a fan of making dice rolls for everything, especially when the result often amounts to nothing. Rolling to see what terrain pieces "do," rolling to see if something special happens on a 6, etc. Those types of things just slow down a game and have no effect more often than they do. They could either be left out or rolled into the attack directly. I think that's why I'm such a fan of Warmaster– there are no wasted rolls in that game. Roll command checks to move your units, Roll to cast spells, roll attacks and saves, and that's it. No charge rolls, no wound rolls, no moral checks. Elegant in its simplicity.

10. Which of your armies is your favourite?
Definitely my Warhammer army, the Legion of the Infernal Skull. I've always been a fan of the undead. This was my first army and I've been adding to it for the past 20 years, and I've come up with a detailed backstory for every aspect of it.

11. Secret wargamer or loud and proud?
Come on! I've got my own business and everything!

12. Any hobby tips or cheats to share?
One of the best tips for people that are getting into model conversion and using epoxy modeling putty, whether it's for gap filling or sculpting extra details, is to use a little Chapstick to lubricate your sculpting tool. It will prevent the putty from sticking to it and it's more effective than water or saliva. Put a little glob on the back of your thumb and run the tool through it. Stick the ball of working putty on the thumbnail of the hand you're holding the model with. Then you can rub your tool on the Chapstick to keep it from sticking, and pick up bits of putty to work with.

13. Tournament or Casual?
I play friendly games, but take the game seriously enough to put up a good fight. Of course I try to win, but I'm not disappointed with a loss as long as the battle was a bloodbath and an enjoyable experience. Both players need to be having fun, otherwise, what's the point? I used to play in the US Grand Tournaments in the early 2000s, and those were always a lot of fun– All the participants put a ton of effort into painting their armies, and the tables were beautiful. I do miss those days, and I like the idea of going to tournaments again, but the tournament scene seems to be hit or miss these days– either a mess of win-at-all-costs players with unpainted models on uninspiring battlefields, or a very high standard of armies, scenery, and sportsmanship. If I'm going to pay money and travel to the venue, I want it to be the best experience possible.

14. Nintendo or Sega?
I was always a Nintendo kid growing up. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start, baby!

15. Xbox or Playstation?
360 all the way. I haven't made the jump to the Xbox One yet, too many models to paint.

16. McDonalds or Burger King?
McDLT for life! Never forget!

17. Coke or Pepsi?
I used to be a Coke man, but I've been soda-free for about seven years. Although, now I have recurring dreams where I accidentally drink soda and get worried that I've ruined my streak. True story!

Thanks to Rob for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to check out Rob Hawkins Hobby Blog and find him on twitter @RobHawkinsHobby

If you have a hobby or wargaming blog and would like to take part in Better Know A Blogger, please contact me at 

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, Rob does fantastic stuff. It was his Dreadfleet work that first caught my eye, but I lost a huge chunk of time going through his archives after I saw those. Worth it!