Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM35 Hill Troll v1

And now for a bit of detective work. I am a collector of Asgard miniatures, and one of the difficulties is that for some figures in the Fantasy Monster (FM) range, there are no photographs or line drawings to show what the figures are supposed to look like - for example, FM18a Secrom, FM97 Sea Dragon, FM101 Dragonnewt (the latter may well be a re-listed FM76 Dragon-newt), and FM35 Hill Troll. I thought I'd found the FM35 Hill Troll last year - Viking Forge have the rights to a lot of the old Asgard mini's, and they have a Hill Troll on their site which I thought was the original Asgard FM35 Hill Troll, and which I posted here. However, I started to have my doubts - it looked too crisp for an Asgard figure, which were notoriously crudely sculpted, and Viking Forge are well known for replacing some of the Asgard line with new figures. In the absence of a photo or line drawing of the original FM35 Hill Troll - could the one I posted be a new variant? The answer came when I bought this chappie in a joblot, which included a lot of Asgard figures. There are no marking on the base, and no-one was able to identify it, not even the good folks at Lost Minis. Eventually the figure was extracted from the Lead Mountain, and it was only when I started prepping and priming it for painting that I started to think, "this has got to be an Asgard mini". It has all of the trademarks of an Asgard - a base that wasn't big enough to keep the figure stable, and really crude sculpting, especially on the muscle definition and the fingers - and in fact, the figure it most reminded me of was the Asgard FM19 Storm Giant, and when I checked I think it was pretty obvious that they were by the same sculptor. With that in mind - I think I can safely present Asgard FM35 Hill Troll v1. When I got the figure, it had been broken off at the ankles - superglue and Milliput to the rescue - and was missing a weapon, as something had been snapped off from its right hand, so I replaced it with a cocktail stick, which was painted up to resemble a spear. As with all early minis, the trick is to keep it simple - so a basic paint job, Army Painter soft tone on that, and then lots and lots of dry brushing to bring out the detail, which is actually pretty good around the face and the animal skin - not so great on the arms and hands. As with a lot of the bigger Asgard figures, it needed a bigger base to keep it stable, and the base is just sand and flock. I'm pleased with the way this turned out, though I am not sure it will see too much table top time - I have better Hill Troll figures, though he may make an occasional appearance to fill up the numbers.

What does everyone else think? Is he the missing FM35 Hill Troll or not?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Ral Partha Children of The Night 13-017 Giant In Mail Armour

Next out of the Lead Mountain was this fine fellow from Ral Partha. Now, I have a lot of time for Ral Partha sculpts, especially the larger ones - whilst I like the smaller figures, they always looked too slight and out of place against "heroic" scale figures from Citadel, Games Workshop and Grenader, but this one holds up really well. As with all Ral Partha figures, beautifully sculpted, lots of detail, and I love the pose - how many other manufacturers would even consider producing a figure in that pose? The figure itself was a pleasue to paint - base colours, then let Army Painter washes do their magic, followed by dry brushing and high lighting. Even the base is good - solid enough and big enough to keep the figure upright, and it actually paints up well as a one big stone slab. I think this is a terrific figure - I especially love the pose, as you can imagine the big guy bending over to smack some unfortunate adventurer with that iron headed club! How many other giant sculpts have you seen where the figure is just standing around, or just brandishing a weapon? I can see this figure getting a LOT of table top time.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Reaper Miniatures/Heritage Dungeon Dwellers 1262 Demon

Despite this being a Reaper miniature, it was originally produced and sculpted by Heritage, so the figure actually dates to the late 1970s-early 1980s (Heritage went bust in 1982). Originally it was from the Heritage Dungeon Dwellers 1200 ranges line, but Reaper re-released resculpts (new bases) of some Heritage Dungeon Dwellers figures as their inaugural first fantasy line, as listed in their 1993 Catalog. This figure is actually marked as Reaper on its base. As a consequence... it's not a great sculpt. Heritage figures were on a par with early Grenadier, the occasional gem and definitely not as good as Ral Partha, Citadel or late Grenadier - but they do have a certain naive charm. The actual metal base of the figure was meant to represent a stone slab, but as with so many early figures it wasn't big enough to support the figure for any extended period of time - so, on to a plastic base, and then Milliput to create additional slabs. As for the paint job, I took the same approach as I do with all early figures - keep it simple. That meant a base coat of red, followed by washes, then dry brushing to bring up highlights - orange on the torso and the hair on the back of the figure, plus gray for the base. To my surprise the figure actually looked quite good, and I decided I would pick out the "ridges" on the wings to look like bone, the same as the horns on the head. The colour scheme actually came out far better than I expected, although I was underwhelmed by the decision by the sculptor to add spiked knee protectors to the figure - what is that all about? I'm fairly pleased with the paint job, but I'm not too sure about the figure itself - it's fun, but it looks out of proportion, tiny legs and the weird knee pads - and there are better sculpts from Grenadier that meet the needs of my campaign, so this one might get moved on.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Citadel FF64-2 George the Giant

Next out of this Lead Mountain was this fine fellow from Citadel. Now, I am a bit unsure about Citadel miniatures - whilst they are good quality, and are mostly good sculpts, I also feel that there is something "cartoonish" about them, as if the sculptors were trying to produce something that would amuse and raise a smile rather than actually look intimidating. That's a bit of a generalisation, I know, but I think this figure illustrates what I mean. 

It's a big this figure - nearly 4 inches high - and its a great sculpt, good pose, well detailed, and yet - I look at it and it makes me smile, its as if they were presenting a parody of a bad tempered drunken bloke in the street - long unwashed hair, beer gut, and just look at that nose! Reminds of a home game at Stoke to be honest. Still, out with the brushes. As with all Citadel figures, lovely to paint, crisp detail, standard base coat and wash, then drybrushing, job done. I deliberately left the skin areas slightly  grubby, because - well - I think that's what a giant would look like, hygine wouldn't be high on their agenda. The base didn't really need attention - for once we have a large figure with a pose and a base that doesn't fall over every 2 minutes. It's a good figure, but I feel that perhaps the paint job hasn't done it justice, and I suppose that's because ultimately I wasn't enthused about the figure.
Poor George.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Another interlude: Reaper Bones, Greek Mythology - Medusa and Harpy

Earlier this year I picked up a handful of Reaper Bones fantasy miniatures, and I have finally got round to painting them. Reaper Bones minis are made of plastic, the kind of bendy stuff that Airfix soldiers used to be made of, and come with all of the associated problems of detail and getting paint to adhere that go with it. Still, you can't argue with the price - £1 a figure - and as I need to get on with stocking the dungeon, it was out with the paintbrushes.

The Medusa was first up, and my main complaint with the figure is the lack of detail - some features such as fingers, eyes, and places where the quiver rests against the serpent tail were very crude - real echos of early Asgard sculpting. You need to wash the figure thoroughly to get the paint to stick, and I had to use paint a bit thicker than I'm used to. Still, the base figure painted up quite well, and a wash of Army Painter Soft tone really brought up the detail, followed by dry brushing and highlighting. The base is just Milliput and then painted to suggest a rough dungeon floor surface. Quite pleased with the end result - the paint job came out quite well, and the actual pose is terrific, a really sinister and unpleasant thing to encounter in a dungeon. Should see a decent amount of table top time.

After that, the Harpy. Oddly enough this had much better detail, with the exception of the face, and as a consequence I found it real pleasure to paint. Same approach as the Medusa - base coats laid on fairly thickly, then Army Painter and GW  washes, then highlighting. Simples! Again, really pleased with how this turned - a really dynamic pose, and it looks like it could actually give a group of adventurers a run for their money. If I had a quibble it is that the sculptor hasn't really given thought to how the claws would join on to the arms, and so has fudged it by giving the figure wrist guards - where on earth did she get those from? Still, I can see her getting lots of tabletop time.

I can see the appeal of Reaper Bones - ideal for filling the ranks in wargames, and you simply cannot argue with the value for money - but still not convinced that they have the quality of the classic Ral Partha and late Grenadier minis.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Kickstarter: The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier

Regulars to this blog will be aware of my appreciation of Grenadier miniatures, especially the Fantasy Lords series. With that in mind, I would like to draw your attention to a Kickstarter here which is a chronological product history of Grenadier Models. I've already backed it, and I would strongly recommend any other readers of the blog to do the same - possibly the best $35/£27 you'll ever spend.

Interlude: Reaper Bones - Sylph, Mab Grindylow and Dryad

A combination of having a garden to attend to plus some pretty vile weather has prevented me from varnishing various figures - hence no recent posts. However, the sun is, the rain is temporarily at bay, and the spray cans have come out. At a recent wargames fair I spotted several packs of Reaper Bones miniatures, at ridiculous prices - something like £1 a figure - and I thought for that price they'd be worth a gamble. They are plastic - hence the low price - and seem to be made of the same soft plastic that Airfix soldiers used to be made of, e.g. bendy plastic instead of rigid. In addition, plastic usually means that detail on the figure is compromised... only one way to find out... Reaper say that you don't need a primer, and you can paint directly on to the figure as long as you've washed it in detergent to remove and residual oil from the casting process. One quick dip into a mug of washing up liquid, and we're good to go. You can apply paint to the figure without primer, but it was to be fairly thick paint - I usually have my paint very thin, and that just wouldn't stick at all.

The first figure was the Sylph, and I deliberately kept her paint job very simple, purely to see how she turned out. Once the base coats were applied, on with the washes, which usually pick out any details and issues with the figure. These turned out OK, although you just don't get the fine detail of a metal figure. After that, the usual dry brushing, and I was really surprised how well the figure came out. I have a need for a woodland nymph/goddess character in my D&D campaign, and she fits the bill nicely.

Next up was Mab Grindylow, a vile spirit of marshes and rivers. Again, I needed a dark river spirit character in my campaign, so she was an ideal match. This is a slightly odd sculpt though - she is obviously rising out of a marsh or river bed, so I understand the trident but - what's with the utility belt? Holy odd bit of sculpting, Batman! With this character the issue with fine detail really came to the forefront, and I think the wash emphasised this. It's still a super figure though, and I can see her getting lots of tabletop time anytime the party venture into marshes.

Lastly we have the dryad. I am a big fan of Hordes Of The Things (HOTT) and I had a need for a Lurker unit, and this sculpt was perfect - a dryad emerging from a tree with a long bone knife. Again, I deliberately kept the paint job simple, and then let Army Painter soft tone do most of the leg work, followed by dry brushing and then picking out the detail (such as it was) with green paint. Again, I liked the figure, and was happy with the way it turned out - definitely good enough for table top use.  

In summary, Reaper Bones are definitely an option for cheap, table top gaming - though they are no substitute for metal. I've got a couple more Reaper Bones figures to do, and I'll post them when I'm finished.