Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Between the Bolter and Me: 2020, a year in review

A selection of models painted in 2020.

Although 2020 was a chaotic and traumatic year, it marked the 8th year of Between the Bolter and Me as a blog. Like with many others, the pandemic changed how we all interact with the hobby. It allowed us to focus more on our podcast Dragged into Turbolasers and develop a consistent, albeit small, streaming schedule! With this post, we wanted to recap the year as a whole, starting by examining the 3 most popular posts on each of our various platforms (blogger, podcast, instagram, etc.).

Most popular blog posts of 2020:

We had a total of 51 blog posts in 2020. Two of our posts tied for being the most viewed. We were happy to see that one of our most extensive conversions, an Eldar pirate associated with our Bonereaper Challenge, was our most popular post. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the post that tied for first place dealt with Space Marines, Games Workshop’s most important IP. Excitingly, the second most popular post was highlighting people from the hobby community that stood out to us in the previous year. We think this is the most important post we write each year, as it helps showcase and expand the hobby community. It is nice to see that it resonates with our readers! The third most popular was our introduction to sculpting article, which we hope will continue to encourage people to begin sculpting.

1: Conversion Corner: True-scale Space Marine (1941 views)

Most popular Instagram posts:

Following up the popularity of our True-scale Space Marine blog post, all three of our most liked Instagram posts featured True-scale Space Marines built from Primaris Space Marines. Each also featured other human-sized models, helping to emphasize the size of the Space Marine. 

Most listened to episodes of Dragged into Turbolasers:

We recorded a total of 16 episodes of Dragged into Turbolasers in 2020, eight of which were interviews! Two of the top listened to episodes were interviews, but the top spot again went to Space Marines, with an episode talking about True-scale Space Marines and how the release of Primaris Marines affected their creation. Although it was not one of our top episodes, we also recorded one talking about Black Lives Matter, and the importance of having an inclusive, welcoming hobby community.

1: Dragged into Turbolasers Episode 75: The evolution of Space Marines, from True-scale to Primaris: (1907 total listens/views)

2: Dragged into Turbolasers 71: Chatting with the Polysmith (1356 listens/views)

3: Dragged into Turbolasers Episode 77: Chatting with Anvils of Konor about True-scale Space Marines and the state of the Horus Heresy community (1309 listens/views)

Youtube and Twitch:

Our Youtube and Twitch accounts have continued to grow in 2020, with a total of 268 YouTube subscribers, and 82 followers on Twitch. We also became Twitch Affiliates, allowing emotes and subscriptions.


From top to bottom: Primaris bolt rifle, Space Marine bolter, converted Sister of Battle bolter.

For years we have been converting better-scaled firearms for our models, but in 2020 we finally began making tutorials for some of these conversions, to help encourage others to try to create their own versions! We created three tutorials: a Sister of Battle Bolter, a Space Marine Plasma rifle, and a Laspistol.

The converted plasma rifle below a standard Space Marine plasma rifle and a plasma pistol.

A converted naval officer with a better scaled laspistol.

Arvus Lighter:

Arvus Lighter and Sisters of Battle.

After years of sitting in a box, 2020 gave us the opportunity to assemble and paint a poorly cast Forge World Arvus Lighter. After years of neglect, it was great to finally finish the model and try out some scale model painting techniques!

Bonereaper challenge:

Rogue Trader Era Eldar - Tony Hough

When the Ossiarch Bonereapers were released for Age of Sigmar, it occurred to us that they would be a great, albeit unconventional, basis for Eldar conversions. We challenged the community to: build an Eldar model that is partially based on one of the new Ossiarch Bonereaper models and tag them with #bonereaperchallenge. We never defined a fixed deadline for the challenge, but did showcase people’s WIP models, as well as convert a model of our own for the challenge.


Primaris Space Marine next to Zaku II.

Although we have long been big fans of the Gundam franchise, due to their excellent mobile suit/mecha designs and its serious examination of the trauma of warfare, it has been over 20 years since we last assembled a plastic Gundam model (Gunpla). We discovered the Cutting Mat podcast this year, which focuses on the Gunpla hobby. Their excitement encouraged us to try our hands at building some Bandai plastic kits. They are quite a change of pace from Games Workshop models, but incredibly fun to assemble and apply your hobby skills to. Unlike Games Workshop miniatures, they have an impressive amount of articulation and do not require paint (although it can make the models look even better). During 2020, we were able to assemble a Gouf and Zaku II from the Gundam Universal Century, and Eva Unit 01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Eva Unit 01 towers above Hess Poison Breath.

Sisters of Battle:

Sister of Battle faces down a Blood Fiend and Skull Familiar.

The Sisters of Battle had a major year in 2020, following the release of an army boxed set in late 2019. We purchased this box to get a sense of the quality of the miniatures, and use them in future conversions. We assembled five of the models, unmodified, and painted them for reference purposes. Afterwards, we did convert one Sister of Battle, modifying her armor and reducing the size of her bolter. We then created a tutorial for the bolter conversion process, to encourage others to attempt the conversion themselves.

Blitz Bowl:

Blood Bowl Chaos Blocker

In a move somewhat outside of our normal wheelhouse, we started playing the fantasy sports game Blitz Bowl (though longtime readers might recall our first blog post was about another fantasy sports game, Mantic Games’ Dreadball). We unboxed the game and then did a review for the game on an episode of Dragged into Turbolasers. Throughout the year, we converted some Dark Elf models, while painting some Halflings and a Chaos Blocker. We even started a league with some friends, playing entirely digitally via webcameras, some of which we streamed live on Twitch/YouTube.

Miscellaneous painting projects:

Imperial Guard with Jungle vs. Urban Camo.

In addition to some of the more defined projects listed above, we also painted a variety of other miscellaneous models! Years back, the talented Polysmith created some female heads to accompany some Imperial Guard models we converted. With the increased hobby time we had due to the pandemic, we went back and painted one. We also painted the classic Slambo model, celebrating the Oldhammer scene. Finally, we painted an adorable toy Robin from Andrew Rae's Statuesque Miniatures' Kickstarter, Left at the Bottom of the Garden.


The robin from Left at the Bottom of the Garden next to our Inq28 owl Bronwen.


Vol 3 cover of 28.

Since its inception, we have had the pleasure of being able to write articles and serve as editors for the digital magazine 28. 2020 was a major year for the magazine, with them releasing two volumes of the magazine, holding the Fifth Chaos God Challenge, and the Darkest Holiday giveaway. Our Introduction to Sculpting article in Volume 2 was posted on the blog in a modified form, along with our article about Essential Modeling Supplies from Volume 3.

That was 2020 for our blog and related platforms! It was quite a productive year, despite the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic imparted upon all of us. We cannot begin to thank everyone who has followed us and supported us over the years. Rest assured we will continue with all of the hobby content in 2021, through the blog, podcast, and Twitch Streaming. As always, never hesitate to contact us with questions or comments!

- Eric, Greg, and Adam Wier


  1. Great stuff - very impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing what you get up to for 2021. For myself hopefully more of a productive year! Best wishes to you all for the year ahead.

    1. Thanks for the best wishes! I hope your 2021 is productive!