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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Shuffle!

Due to the craziness of the season I'll be unable to make any headway on the Dark Eldar Tantalus until after the New Year.  In the meantime I'm catching up on some reading.  Mostly Codices and rules but also I have a stack of novels that has been growing at an alarming rate during the past three months!

Today's Codex  was the Necrons.  I just finished it and was struck by the notion that they have at least one weapon, the aptly named Death Ray, that allows them to intentionally shoot at their own units.  My gaming group has had a lot of discussions over the years about various races for whom it would be thematically acceptable, and possibly even routine, behavior to shoot up you own cannon fodder but had always come to the conclusion that the potential game breaking tactics that could evolve from such an allowance would preclude its adoption.  Then, low and behold!  Necrons...  I'm wondering if there are any other such exceptions in this edition that I've missed.  I'm really a fluff bunny and so would be completely unsurprised to discover a rules mechanic that I've overlooked.

I'm finishing up a troll through the Ogre kingdoms with an eye towards starting on the new campaign book "Blood in the Badlands"  I'm still churning over what the Geekfest theme will be this year and am hoping for some additional inspiration from the reading.  I did finish Tamurkhan: Throne of Chaos earlier this week and was impressed with the art and layout of the book as well as the solid story and campaign elements.

I'm a little nostalgic because Fantasy Battle was what got me into the Workshop Hobby and I played it hard for many years but the last decade or so has been very tightly focused on 40k.  Oh, I'm still painting up Fantasy Battle armies but I haven't actually played a game of it in 8ish years.  I think the last game I played was 6th edition  Ogre Kingdoms against Wood Elves.  I've read the rules in the interim and like the look of 8th edition but haven't taken it out for a walk.  I may have to do an off-season WHFB thing kind of like the 40k Geekfest... but that is still more of a notion than a concept!

I'm also trending into Malifaux.  In part this has to do with the gaming community in my, currently, local area and in part with the wonderful atmospherics of the setting.  Truthfully if the required figure count and playing area (3x3!) were not so small I'd have passed this by but the portability and small time/space requirements allowed me to deceive myself into thinking that I had time for another miniatures game!  I'm enjoying my delusion at the moment and you can expect to see some modelling projects related to Malifaux appearing in the pile in the early part of the New Year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blood Rain Kabal signature patterning added to the Tantalus

 I got the fracture pattern applied to the main hull, the side vane wings and the rudder.  Its a base of P3 bone jack, a mid tone of Menoth White Base and a top highlight of, Menoth White Highlight.   I actually paint in the white blotches over a black base and highlight each one individually instead of working up a big white base and painting black lines over it.  I end up having to paint the black lines in the end to tidy up fuzziness around the white areas anyway  but I've never had good results with the patterning with that method so I always return to color blobs.

The twin forked front made it easy to keep the blob sizes consistent.  I find I always need a to look at a reference when doing this over several areas, or several vehicles ( I have a set of three Ravagers where one of them has noticeably different patterning which is when I started using the internal reference), or the size of the blobs changes which changes the feel of the pattern.
 The rudder has had some basic block design painted on and the red work up has begun although there are no photos in this batch.
I'm happy with the look of the wing vanes although I've noticed a couple of areas of clean up fail on the blade and rudder.  I'll tidy these up and repaint.  Fortunately the fail is on the metallic area in both cases and is just a little trimming/sanding along the edges which should not be too much trouble to repair.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dark Eldar Tantalus construction color blocks

 The crazy open architecture of the Tantalus has me painting in basic color blocks as I construct it.  A couple of areas will be below structural brass decking and could be fairly visible and the rest of the build is pretty clean except some split hull plates where the scythe vane hull section aligns with the primary hull.  I'll have to sand a and fill this when I get it together, since this central hull area is a pretty complex structure to assemble, and just repaint those areas unless another way to conceal the join presents itself!

The secondary engines were all conveniently on the same large sprue chunk which made it easy to get a consistent look on them.  They have guide pins cast in but things don't quite line up so I had to trim those down and pin it normally.  The fit on the curved engine compartment wall was really quite good.

Less good was my experiment with the Rat Fur colored primer.  It adheres to the model very well and turned up great even coverage, it covers very well so care has to be taken not to apply it too thick.  Unfortunately it dried kind of slick and doesn't take paint very well. Its not as bad as uncleaned mold release and just takes a second coat to remedy the situation.  While that is a bit of a pain it looks like it will still require fewer coats to get to the final red color which was the goal after all so  a mixed review at this point.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dark Eldar Tantalus Brass and Structure WiP and Venom Strike Group wraps up.

 The Venom Strike Group is finished... no more proxies!

The Tantalus brass is integral to the structure of the kit.  It's not a thin brass etch but a hefty piece of the structure that holds the thing firmly in shape!  I also like the touch where "This Side Up" is effectively printed on the brass frame.

Here the mast footer is attached to the brass for stability and the mast footer mounting also serves as a backstop for the central engine mount.

The second set of plates lays in just above the main deck and guides the upper rear hull into position resulting in matching attitudes for the major blade structures that form the rear wing of the completed model.  This whole system allows for an exceptionally ephemeral look that would otherwise be hard to pull of in a model this size.

I'm experimenting with primers on this project.  Typically I've used black on everything and worked up from there.  This has made some of the red areas require an egregious number of layers to get to the right clarity of color.  For this build I'm priming the engine compartment and underside of the hull black as usual but am hitting the rest of the kit with Army Painter Rat Fur which is a reddish brown color.  I think this will allow me to red up more rapidly and still be dark enough of a subsurface to make the other colors behave as though they were painted over black.

My main concern is to match the color tones of the rest of the army which, for the vehicles, has been worked up from black throughout.

For this last shot the engine area that will be under the brass deck is being worked up as are the main engines.  once these are done I'll mask them and add Rat Fur to the hull section that is currently showing a light black over-spray.

The command deck and rudder assembly, and the side Blade Vanes are also built and sprayed Rat Fur at this point.  I haven't used this particular primer before and its taking just a bit longer than usual to dry but the coverage is very even and applied easily.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tantalus begins construction

Venoms two and three are nearing completion.  There is mostly touch ups and adding in the riders left to do.  I've improved the magnetic mounts for the Splinter Cannon/TL Splinter Rifle option as the first one was a little weak.  I've also figured out how the control panel for the top mounted Splinter Cannon fits best... turns out the guiding pin is too large and causes the panel to cant away from the wall.  I trimmed this back and it fit right in. 

I've decided to keep the flag/trophy poles removable so I can use them to designate loaded/empty status for embarked troops. 

Lastly I'm saving the canopy covers until the end to avoid any contact with glue/accelerator.  I had some glazing on the canopy of the  lead model as a result of an accelerator accident.  That stuff glazed parts of the canopy and the flight base!  Its interesting because the glazing had nothing to do with glue reactions and was simply a result of the accelerator touching the plastic canopy/flight base.  I've never had that reaction before so was surprised to see it.

Clean up began on the Tantalus.  I was happy to see that the hull has no warping to correct.   Looks like only the sail has any significant warp.   I'm pretty stoked to see this model!  I'm not yet sold on its rules, its primary weapon being the blades..., but its a heavy choice for regular games...  which is fascinating as I'd assumed it was an Apocalypse choice when I picked it up.  The good news is it'll get played way more often!

I had the Reaper on the table for a series of games and it displayed its major flaw... It only has one shot per turn... its an interesting, and flexible, shot but its still just one weapon!  In spite of this the Reaper did well... surviving, and causing damage in two out of three games. 

I've also failed my save and started Malifaux so I'll be working some of those into the schedule... Not that there will be too many intruding until this huge Dark Eldar force update is complete but there will likely be a couple surfacing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Blood Rain Kabal gets some Venom

 The first of three Venoms joins the Blood Rain Kabal today.  I've been doing these in an assembly line style so the next two are just getting the final adjustments and should finish up in the next couple of days.

Ive decided that the Kabal Trueborn will be in Gray/Black.  This should cover the new production figures.  My original paint scheme has the warriors in an ochre yellow which will be retained for the vat born scum.
  The splinter cannon/twin linked splinter rifle option is magnetized and the flag poles are currently removable.  Depending on how the model sits in case this may be changed to a permanent mounting.    The slave snares are glued on and I'll probably do one of the set with blades instead of the chains.

 The inside of the cockpit is detailed and remains visible through the full canopy.  I opted for the full canopy on all three of the set primarily to reduce dust issues.  I'm not certain how I'd get  dust out of the cockpit with the windscreen only option installed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Raging Heroes Ashara standing in as a Dark Eldar Archon

I got a shipment of figures in from Raging Heroes about a month ago and had to bump the Ashara SF figure to the top of the pile.  Not that I need a cool new Archon for my Blood Rain Kabal, but she was just too tempting to wait her turn.

There is no shortage of detail and it is really a beautiful sculpt.  I especially appreciate all the different head and weapon option which I can mine for future conversions. 

Once I began painting a couple of things turned up immediately.  The most salient of which was that most of the wonderful detail is very soft edged... rounded even.  This soft border is especially prevalent on the filigree bits on her flowing sleeves.  I hadn't noticed this until I got started but it has an effect on technique.  Many techniques use the sharp edge of details to help carry and control paint, especially in fine lining.  The details here are so indistinct around the edge that these techniques are not as effective.  Essentially the detailing has a large freehand element.  This is not inherently bad but makes a difference in how much time it takes me to turn out a decent figure.  I'd intended to just have a quick run at her with a basic scheme and continue with the previously scheduled work.  No plan ever survives contact with the enemy!

The other odd bit was that the figure has cast in pins but they don't actually help with alignment.  Ultimately I ended up removing them and pinning traditionally.

I'm still quite taken with the figure even though it is a lot more work than I'd originally imagined.  I have a couple more of these in both the fantasy and sf version so I'll get plenty of practice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ghosts and a Shadowseer

 Today I have a quick go at zenithal and point source highlighting.  I picked these vintage ghosts because they were open and lying about... and because it occurred to me that the essential monochrome nature of the subject would make it easier to pay attention to the highlights and not get distracted by the details.  I just picked out a a basic zenithal theme on the figure in general, mostly limiting this to the final highlight on the robes and hair.

 I used the same figures to experiment with some point source lighting using the eye(s) as the source.  I'm starting to get the hang of it... there is still a way to go but these figures helped me cement the concept and refine some acutal hands on technique.

 In keeping with my current focus on filling out the Dark Eldar I finished up a Finecast Harlequin Shadowseer.  I also have an enormous Craftworld Eldar army and I like the link up that the harlequins represent.  After all only the eldar themselves really make the distinction between Dark and Craftworld... for most of the galaxy they are just seen collectively as those treacherous, weedy, pointy-eared, alien gits!

I also started work on three Dark Eldar Venoms.  The lower hull sections are complete with the exception that I haven't drilled in the magnets for the weapon mounts.  I played a few games last week using proxies for these and learned a lot about how they could fit into my army.  I'm thinking that three is about ideal for my style and that some lists, primarily my Carnival of Pain" will really only use 2.  All of this assuming a points total in the vicinity of 2k.

This week should see more work on the venoms and on Greasus Goldtooth.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dark Eldar Webway Portals and Status Markers from Silver Compass Designs

For the Dark Eldar set I had a blast.  Working with Silver Compass Designs - Precision Lasered Gaming Gear I was able to design every piece and started with Web-Way Portals!  I've always wanted something decent to represent the portal especially since using regular blast markers ran the risk of them being accidentally picked up or moved during the game.

These have the Rune for my Blood Rain Kabal and a nice retro sci-fi swirl pattern.

 The three part pain tokens are a cool idea.  Here I've color coded them to make it easier to pick out the correct pieces to make the complete pain token.  These are a regular production item but they replaced the evil demon face with my Kabal Rune for no additional cost.  

After the long Ork status marker project I opted for a less fidgety approach for the Dark Eldar.  These look great and only took about a quarter of the work time the Ork set took.  For the Ork counters I did a two tone, comic book style paint scheme.  For the Dark Eldar I used a single color inside each cut.  Looks very clean and, since there are still several cuts per counter they are very colorful.

The finished set complete with a Bag from Marsbarn.  This is a Celtic Knot bag that I'd intended to use for Wood-Elf accessories so I'll likely have another bag made up featuring the Kabal Rune. It may not look like it but there are 201 counters in this set... all stacked very precisely!

 The vehicle status markers are all shaped to drop onto the sideboard of the old style dalk eldar raider... OOPS!  They'll still work just fine set beside the new vehicles.  I briefly thought about having them cut with some sort of loop to hang them from the vehicles but that pretty quickly got moved to the idea of FAIL pile.

This is how the set arrived.  Looks pretty cool even before its painted! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dark Eldar Reaper ready for action

 The Reaper sail is ready.  Like the Razorwing this is a very clean finish with little weathering.  These are being integrated into my legacy Dark Eldar which are also in a very clean, unweathered, style.  I may decide to revisit the army as a whole and weather them together in future but for now I'm concentrating on getting them playable with a good, unified, look.

 To the right you can see the Raider sitting in the display case next to the Gargantuan Squiggoth.  I can just imagine the Orks jeering at the weedy Eldar and their puny sailboat! 

"Oi!  What iz dat!?... a Weedy Git ...flyin... trukk?....HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Oi ladz... KEEL IT!"

Speaking of Orks I finally finished off the counter set with infantry status markers, a big WaaagH! token, and a special die with the Waaagh!'s logo in the 6 slot.  I had a last minute fail though.... I took a break from painting while my wife was home for some R&R and the first peice I did when she left was the big Waaagh! marker.  Unfortunately I incorrectly remembered the color scheme and neglected to check it before actually putting down paint.  As a result the colors of the Jolly Ork are darker than for the rest of the set.  I corrected this for the infantry status markers so the fail was limited... the the biggest marker of the set!  DOH!  A custom, square bottom, dice bag will easily contain the counters and completes the accessories for "Da Big Red WAAAGH!"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  The Dark Eldar Reaper is assembled except for accessories like chains and spiky poles etc... and the sail!   I'm also going to add some edging and patterning to the rudder.

As far as the sail itself goes I'm thinking to put the Kabal logo in one of the three patterns and add the fractal white to that sail segment while the remaining segments could be solid black or red with bone colored spars.

The Steersman/Weapons officer ended up in Bone White Armor.  I have traditionally painted the Kabalite Warriors in a yellow scheme but the vehicle doesn't really need another color. I think that I'll run all the Trueborn in bone colored armor using a darker base color while crew will be in the whiter style and regular warriors retain the yellow.  Also in the scheme Incubi ar black with bone trim and regular wyches are red.  I'm undecided if the Blood Brides should just be red like the rest of the wyches or if they should be alternately colored in the same way as the warriors are.

This gives a more colorful Dark Eldar force than is usually the case and is similar to the appraoch I took with my Craft World Eldar.  In that case each of the aspects is colored in variations of their traditional scheme while the Guardians wear the Craft World's colors.  I think its a good way to remember that the Dark Eldar and the Craft World Eldar have common roots.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Confession Machine from Max Mini

 Today I painted up a Confession Machine from Max Mini.  The casting was very clean and the whole look of the machine is awesome. 

I elected to add this to the mythology of my Order of the Ebon Chalice.  The essential theme being that personal sins, up to a particular level, are authorized to be submitted for summary judgement at the machine.  Of course Heresy is a totally different story so the machine monitors confessions for heretical content and reports to the local Inquisition facility.  More development is in order but its a good start!

There has been some progress on the Dark Eldar Reaper as well and its looking to be finished this week although there has been a difficulty with the main gun body separating from the deck plate during, or after, I installed the upper gratings.  I had initially thought that the out of sequence installation of the upper gratings had gone without a hitch but not so! I'll have to carefully re-glue that and do some repairs along where the control pylon joins the main gun but these seem to be relatively minor hiccups.
Most of the detail bits and the primary crewman are complete at this point so I should be able to begin final assembly and touch-ups.  Except... I forgot that the enhanced aethersail is still primer!  fortunately that is the last bit to add on so it doesn't really impede construction.  I'm still deciding on an actual color, or pattern, for the sails themselves.   I will likely wait to make the final call on the sail until I get the rest of it assembled so I can see what needs balancing.

Since I've opted for a fairly clean look on these weathering is minimal so far.  It may be that I'll return and weather the lot of them together at some point.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dark Eldar Reaper details WiP

 Work proceeds on the Dark Eldar Reaper.  The prow plates for the gun are blocked in with basic fractile shapes and the Kabal Glyph.  These were all blocked in with Bleached Bone and will be re-coated and highlighted as will the mirror imaged glyphs.  The black armor plates will likely be edged in  Mechrite Red and then highlighted in Blood Red.  This vehicle looks like it will be a lot more red, or perhaps a lot less black, than the first generation vehicles but the colors should tie together well.
 The main gun is almost complete.  There remains a repair to one of the large gems that managed to dry with a portion of its dust cover touching the gem.  I should be able to assemble the main hull at this point and we'll see how difficult it will be to work the decking plates into position.  Fortunately the paint in the tight areas is unadjusted Mechrite Red so repairs should be relatively invisible.
More of Da Big Red WAAGH!  status markers.  This time its vehicle speed condition.  I'm closing in on finishing this set with only a large Waagh! marker and the infantry status markers remaining.  Then its on to the Dark Eldar Counter set.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dark Eldar Reaper WiP and Computer woes...

The Reaper is coming along with a lot of the base coats falling into place.  I've already encountered some planning fail in that I put the hull together without placing the decking inserts.  DoH!  This is the first of the new Raider hulls I've worked on so I was bound to get something wrong.  I'll have to do some 'convincing' to get these plates into place but it doesn't look like it'll be THAT bad....

Otherwise I'm happy with the way the color patterns are laying out.  I'll still add the fractile white similar to the one on the Razorwing with the idea that all of the new models will be of this scheme and that they will make a complimentary addition to the older pattern vehicles.   I like the more baroque look of the new models and want to emphasis those elements with the color scheme.

The white build up on the main gun elements is done with P3 paint that I'm experimenting with and I like the subtle, complimentary,  highlights.  With a little more practice I think these will work out.  I'm now very keen to try out some of the Reaper Master series triads.

In mundania...

I'm experiencing some computer fail where my card reader has ceased to be recognized my the computer which makes it a bit more difficult to add photos.  Thus the WiP photo here is not the photo I'd like to display... but, rather, the one that got added to the computer before the card reader failed.... yeeee haw!

Updates may slow down for a bit while I get this sorted.

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Ork status marker mayhem and Greasus Goldtooth WiP

Work is progressing on the Dark Eldar Reaper.  I've added some new paints (P3 Menoth White Base, Menoth White Highlight, and Bone Jack) to my inventory and am still getting used to the way they work.  So far I really like the consistency and flow.

I should have some WiP of the Reaper up this weekend as well as some views of resumed work on Greasus Goldtooth and some other odds and ends.

Here is some more of the Ork status marker mayhem!  I decided to stick with the yellow text for adverse effects and go with white for positive effects 

The release of the Ogre Kingdoms has motivated me to finish up my small backlog of Ogre Kingdoms models with a view to adding a couple of the new kits to the pile.  The new kits are as stunning as they are spendy so I'm waiting to pick them up until I really take a look at the Army Book... which I'll get to as soon as I finish reading a borrowed copy of the Malifaux Rising Powers book.

I've been resisting Malifaux since I really don't need to add another game to my stable at the moment but the models are so cool and you don't really require many of them to play casually... 

Famous last words...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Laser Etched Counters painting tutorial

After seeing the amazing custom laser etched counter sets that Silver Compass Designs put together for the Heroes of Armageddon charity event I decided to look into getting some of them for my own armies. 

I sent Pete an email and learned that they don't really have any standard packages.  Most sets are completely custom!  He was very helpful and gave me some ideas about where to start with designing a set and made sure I was aware that EVERYTHING about the set could be customized.  There is no requirement, for example, that the tokens be of any particular shape and the lasers can do incredibly fine detail so practically anything could be put on them in terms of designs or text.

Caught up in a frenzy of design I came up with counter sets for My Orks "Da Big Red WAAAGH!" and my Dark Eldar "Blood Rain Kabal".  Pete managed to convert my eccentric sketches into polished art and shapes on the first go round.  He even added my Kabal rune to their new three part pain tokens so they would match my theme!

The design process was a lot more fun than I imagined it would be and I'll be doing it again in the near future with a counter set for the Tyranids.

I got the two sets a couple of days ago and immediately set to work on the Ork set just to see how it shook out.  It looks like it'll take me the better part of a week each to get them set up.  I could knock them out in a basic way in a day or two but decided to run a bit amok with the painting!

Of course I'll be posting a picture of each of the completed sets as I finish them.  The Ork set is over 200 counters and the Dark Eldar set is 166 counters so they'll take just a bit to get up to speed.  You could do effective sets at much lower numbers of counters.  These are large sets because  I really liked the large sets that came with the Heroes of Armageddon armies.. and because the design process was so much fun!

I've also added a tutorial page with a detailed tutorial of how I painted these... check it out!

Silver Compass is also putting together Laser etched custom dice where all the faces can be customized.  Having seen a couple of samples I'm looking forward to those as well.

Of course I had to have something cool to carry my awesome counters in so I got looking for something appropriate and found it at Marsbarn Designs.

The Skull bag is a square bottom dice bag.  Great bag at a decent price with really fast turn around and a huge selection of fabrics and patterns to choose from.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grotesque Wracks

 The Wrack group took a little longer because I spent some additional time on the bases. 

I've painted up a dozen old metal Grotesques and swapped out the spare weapons and arms from the Finecast Wrack set to make them look a little more like the current Wracks... of course I haven't added the namesake bony rack!  I'll do the next batch up basically in Gray on this same format of 5 new Wracks and 12 old Grotesques to fill things out.

I can still use the Grotesques as ... Grotesques!

Which will be handy until I replace them with larger models.  I know its more efficient to keep using the old models with their conveniently smaller bases but I like the idea of larger grotesques.  That said I'm not at all happy about the price point of the new Grotesque model... especially since it is cast in such a dynamic pose that all of them beyond model one will have to be modified to avoid the appearance of the unit being stuck doing The Monster Mash!  So I'm looking for a model to use in place repeating the Current official model 10 times.  I have two of the new model and think I would like to look at a half dozen alternative models that have the right ambiance.  Let me know if you have any recommendations.  I think Ogres would be workable of course but some of the Steampunk stuff that is out there might have application as well.  I'm not a tournament player so it can be a non-GW model if there is something out there especially cool and appropriately horrific!

 I had a great time working on the bases.  I was going for a swampy effect and am pretty happy with the result.  I still have some work to do with making the water effects deep enough to be convincing on this size and style of base but I think I can sort that out.  These did eventually achieve enough depth of water effect to make a believable surface texture and I was really pleased with the way the stones turned out... they even look a little mossy!

The skin on these fellows looks particularly mottled and unhealthy.  I like the pastiche of color and, although they are too textured and splotchy for the GW style, I think it has a good B-movie horror feel to it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Forge World Dark Eldar Reaper begins construction

I got the Reaper out of its package and immediately noticed something different!  This is not the same Forge World resin I've been dealing with over the years.  First there is effectively zero mold release.  I've washed them up since this shot and there was no evidence of mold release at all.  Second they are not brittle or stiff at all.  The texture is much more like vinyl than resin.  Its very shiny and bendable.  The Enhanced Aether Sails are actually kind of floppy!  There are some familiar points like... the huge blocks and thick resin channels but the pieces are so flexible that I feared I was going to break the join between the Reaper Cannon and the fill block. 

I'll start the actual cleaning a little later today.  I'm very interested to see how this will respond to tools and... how well it holds paint... I've had trouble with Anime Vinyl kits holding paint in the past so I'm curious.  If it holds well I may just like this new stuff.  Its softer than the other formula but having some degree of flex in the parts may make them less fragile.

I've also included a picture of some filler projects that will keep me occupied while the Reaper bits dry, or for when I just want a break from the Reaper.  There is a Foundry Fantasy Orc a couple of Tomb Swarms and the third objective counter for my dark Angels using the Space Marine casualties and.. a couple of pugilistic snotlings courtesy of Foundry Fantasy.

The filler projects were chosen because I found them while doing figure inventory after my move... they were out of their packages so got dropped on the pile!