Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM99 centaur with bow and FM100 centaur with spear

And a final update of the figures I've been working on this month. Again, these were originally part of a Centaur HOTT army that got too large, and these guys didn't make the final cut - but I've kept them as separate figures for D&D purposes. 

The one with the spear is what I would call a "traditional" Asgard sculpt - a bit coarse and lacking in detail (especially around the face!) but still with a lot of energy. The one with the bow is a reworking by Asgard of a figure from their Barbarian Personalities range - if you look at this picture of BP7 Arflane the Archer, you can see that they've taken the upper body, attached it to a horse torso and then modelled a cloak and belt to conceal the join. Whilst I can admire the re-use, IMHO the figure does feel very static compared to the "traditional" sculpt.

Both figures were a pleasure to deal with - mostly woodland shades as base colours then Army Painter soft tone for a wash, followed by highlighting. The bow centaur is a more detailed figure, and benefitted most from this, whilst the spear figure didn't come up as well as I would have liked - the lack of detail on the figure really didn't help. The bases are simply flock and artificial grass.

Pleased with both paint jobs on the whole, but to be honest I can't see the archer getting too much table top time - but his friend with the spear will!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM44 Djinn

Next out of the Lead Mountain  was Asgard's take on a Djinn, emerging from a bottle.

Initially I was not enthused - the figure is quite flat, and the base of it emerging from the bottle is very thin. I can imagine that a lot of these snapped and were discarded. As with all Asgard figures, detail on things like the hands is very poor, and the base is far too small for the rest of the figure, causing it fall over with alarming regularity. With that in mind, the first job was to fix it to a plastic base to give it stability, and then use Milliput to make the base look like a rough stone floor.

The Quran says that the Djinn are made of a smokeless and "scorching fire", which guided the paint job - a base coat of yellow, graduating up through orange to red, and then a wash of dark red, followed by dry brushing. This really brought out the detail of the figure, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it brushed up! The stone floor was simply base gray, a wash of Army Painter Dark tone, and then highlighting.

It turned out quite well, considering I had low expectations of it - it is certainly a very dramatic figure, as if someone has inadvertently removed the stopper from the bottle and the Djinn has just burst out, stretching his arms after a couple of centuries confinement. He certainly looks pleased about something, and perhaps it is that lack of malevolence in the sculpting that is missing. Still, I can see this getting quite a bit of table top time, especially now that he doesn't fall over every time someone bumps the table!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM13 Owl Bear and Ral Partha Personalities & Things... 01-040 v1 Were Bear

I’ve not posted as much as I’d like to – pressures of work, ferrying kids around and Christmas in general has put paid to that – but I have been painting, so over the next couple of days I’ll be posting shots of what I’ve been working on.

These two were originally part of a Wood Elf HOTT army, which spiralled dreadfully out of control. I ended up with enough figures for 3 armies (!) and eventually had to cull some units to make up 2 very distinct armies. Unfortunately these guys didn’t make the final cut, but I thought they’d hold up really well as standalone figures for wilderness encounters.
The Owl Bear is an early Asgard figure, and as a consequence the sculpting is VERY coarse – the claws in particular were just stalks protruding from the paws, and what is going on with the eyes?!? Still, it definitely has a lot of na├»ve charm, and invariably provokes a “WTF is THAT” response every time it hits the table – not bad for a figure that is nearly 40 years old!

The Ral Partha Were bear is a wonderful sculpt – really well detailed, with a terrific pose, full of energy. If I had a criticism, it is that it would be all too easy for the base to snap – Ral Partha metal was on the soft side.

Both of these figures were a pleasure to paint – a simple base coat of brown, then a dark wash, then dry brushing for the highlights. The Were Bear in particular benefitted from this. The Owl Bear needed a bit more work around the eyes, which are REALLY crudely sculptured – just holes poked into the figure! The bases are simply flock and a few stones and artificial grass.

Pleased with both of these!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Citadel Scorpion, Grenadier Nightgaunt and Ral Partha Wyvern

Although I’ve been painting, the autumn weather has meant that I haven’t been able to varnish the figures… until today. So here are three figures I’ve been working on since my last post!
The scorpion is from the Citadel Fiend Factory range - FF50 Giant Scorpion. Now, I have to be honest and say that the base paint job isn’t mine – I got this figure with a fairly decent paint job from an auction site, and decided to see if I could spruce it up. A simple wash of Army Painter Dark tone really brought out the detail, as did a rebase on a suitably sandy base. Simples! It is amazing the difference a quick wash does – the old Citadel sculpts have an amazing amount of detail. This will do very nicely as the guardian of treasure for any desert based scenarios.

The central figure is a Nightgaunt from the Grenadier Call of Cthulhu range. According to Cthulhu: “Nightgaunts have a vaguely human shape, but are thin, black, and faceless. Their skin is slick and rubbery. They sport a pair of inward-facing horns on their heads, and have clawed hands and a long barbed tail which is used to "tickle" their victims into submission. They can fly using a set of membranous wings.” When this came out of the lead mountain, I was underwhelmed. The sculpt is definitely on the chunky side – hardly thin! – and the pose wasn’t especially threatening. Combine that with a desired black coloured scheme, a lack of detail on the face (in fact no details!) and it could easily have just turned into a vaguely demonic black lump. With that in mind, I chose to make a couple of changes – the base colour for the figure was black, but the insides of the wing were crimson. After that, I decided to use dark purple to highlight the black of the torso, and that really helped bring out the detail of the muscles. The base is simply sand, painted gray and then given a dark wash – oddly enough, the reflection of the light from the figure makes it look light purple! I deliberately left it with a gloss varnish, which emphasises the slick, rubbery nature of the skin. It’s an odd sculpt, and whilst I was fairly pleased with the end result – I honest can’t see this one getting much table top time.

Finally, on the right we have a Ral Partha Wyvern from the Personalities and Things… range. Ral Partha do some terrific sculpts – fantastic detail – but if I had a criticism, it is that a lot of their figures look and feel a bit flimsy in comparison to other manufacturers, especially when you put them together on the table top. Looking at it next to the Scorpion and the Nightgaunt, I’m not sure you’d take the Wyvern to win against either of them! I started off with a red base coat, and then various shades of yellow for the wing feathers. It wasn’t an easy figure to paint, either – the tail is curled up to form a base, and that wasn’t especially well moulded. It also caused a lot of pooling on the base when I applied a red and a fair amount of cursing as I had to mop it out!  After that, lots of dry brushing, which really bought out the detail.

I like the figure a lot, and the paint job came out OK – I think this may get a decent amount of table top time, purely as a distraction figure. It might even stand in as a stirge!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monster FM76 Dragon-newt

It's been a while - a hectic combination of work plus taking kids to look at universities has eaten up an inordinate amount of time. That hasn't stopped me painting though - though most of the recent work as been a combined HOTT/Battle Master Dwarf army. More on that some other time. 
First things first - what IS a Dragon-newt? To be honest - I don't know! I can't find any reference to anything related to it on t'internet, so I am guessing it a pure Asgard creation, a bit like the mythical FM18 Secrom. So all we have to go on is the sculpt. And what a sculpt! I think it is terrific - a weird combination of reptile and feline! I think is meant to be some swamp or lakeside top predator, judging by the name and pose. You wouldn't want to mess with those claws or teeth!
Anyhow, on to the painting. This was pretty simple - green for the upper body, a dull yellow for the under body, and then wash and drybrushing. Simples! I went with red for the eye, purely to break up the green, and also because it looked more sinister. The base is just flock and twigs - although the reeds are actually strands from an old toothbrush, painted green and then drybrushed.

I like this sculpt a lot - it's one of the better Asgards - you can imagine this beastie stalking lost adventurers as they try to cross marshes or swamp! As a consequence I can see it getting a lot of table top time for outdoor adventures. It seems to be a fairly rare piece - I've only ever seen one other on e-bay - though I understand Viking Forge still produce it state side.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Grenadier Wizzards & Warriors Slime variant, Minifigs Sword & Sorcery SS47 Slimeman and Unknown mud/clay man

Next out of the lead mountain were a number of related sculpts – all easy to paint – so I’ve posted them together:
The Grenadier sculpt was from their earliest Wizzards and Warrior range, which was produced to tie-in with the D&D craze that was just taking off. The actual sculpt itself is not impressive – just a smooth lump of lead with a “eye” stuck on – so it was a bit of a challenge to do something (anything!) with it. The first job was to glue it on to a base of PVA glue – not only did that secure the sculpt, but once the glue dried it provided a smooth surface that suggested the sculpt was rising out of it. After that, a really simple paint job – base yellow, pink for the “eye”, then a wash of Army Painter Soft tone, then picking out the “eye” again with pink. Simples!

The Slimeman is from the Minifigs Sword and Sorcery range in the early 1970’s, and were originally sold as the official range of D&D figures. They are VERY basic – hardly any detail – and I was not enthused when this came out of the box. Still, I tried – same approach as the Grenadier slime, stuck to the base with PVA glue, and then a base coat of yellow, then Army Painter Soft tone, and then a GW green ink wash. Much to my surprise this actually came out fairly well – it looks like a vaguely humanoid shape rising out of a layer of green slime. Most unappealing.

The final figure was in a job lot with the Grenadier slime, and to honest I have no idea what is supposed to be, or who made it. If anyone has any ideas – please let me know! It *looked* like it could be made out of clay or mud, so the same approach again – PVA glue base, then a sand base colour, then Army painter soft tone and highlights.

All of the figures were finished with a gloss varnish to suggest a slimy sheen, and on the whole they work pretty well for very basic figures that were sculptured over 40 years ago! Slimes and molds area feature of many dungeons, so I can see these getting quite a bit of table top time.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM53 Balrog

Next to be extracted from the Lead Mountain was this beastie from Asgard. It’s their take on the Balrog from LOTR. It originally came in two parts – the body, and the wings, both cast in metal.

Attaching the wings to the body gave me no end of grief. The moulding to attach the wings was crude to say the least, and the wings are incredibly thick and heavy – they weigh about the same as the body! It took several goes, a lot of superglue and a LOT of cursing to get them to stay on. Once I had them fixed, the joints were filled with Milliput. Not an easy job! The next problem was the figure once the wings were attached – it wouldn’t stand up unassisted, due to the small base size. This was addressed by gluing it to a GW base – the original Asgard base had stones moulded into it, so I extended that by adding additional stones carved from Milliput.

So on to the paint job. This was actually the simplest part – base red, GW wash for depth, and then lots and lots of dry brushing. I wanted it to look like a creature of fire, and I think that the colour scheme worked pretty well. The flaming sword was problematical – not really much detail to work with – but I tried my best by picking it out with yellows and whites to suggest heat. The whip of fire was just a matter of highlighting the tail ends of the whip. As for the base… the easiest thing would have been to paint it gray, but I wanted to give the effect of heat and fire, so I painted them orange to suggest reflected flames. There are a few grains of sand on the base as well, picked out in red, to suggest embers.

Whilst I like the figure, I can’t see it getting too much table top time. I rarely run campaigns that make use of Balrogs or Fire Demons, although if I do need one I can bring this chappie out. And it has wings, which are one of my pet peeves with miniatures. And it is a seriously large bit of metal – look at the Grenadier early 80’s archer next to it! I understand Viking Forge still produce it using the old Asgard moulds, and I think it still holds up pretty considering it is nearly 40 years old!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st series 134 Armoured Centaur and Garrison Sword and Sorcery SS76 Female Centaur

It’s been a while – a combination of work and then holidays has prevented me from posting – but I’ve still been painting. Here we have two figures on the same topic – centaurs – but with very different styles. The Garrison figure was bought as part of a job lot, and when I extracted it from the Lead Mountain I was NOT enthused… then I realised I was also working on the Grenadier figure as part of a HOTT Woodland army, and thought it would be interesting to paint them and show them together.

Garrison were one of the earliest figure manufacturers – I think this figure was sculpted in the mid 1970’s by the great John Braithwaite, and based on the Robert E Howard Conan novels. As consequence, it is VERY simple, and quite coarse, with some very strange proportions… maybe he was reading The Sun’s page 3 when he sculpted it! Still, out with the brushes… the main thing with the early figures is to keep the paint job simple, and I did exactly that – dark gray for the horse body and hair, then dry brushed white. The torso is just base flesh with Army Painter soft tone for shading, and then flock on the base.

I didn’t have any expectations of this figure, and I was quite surprised it turned out fairly well. It actually reminds me a bit of the primitive art, Neolithic paintings on cave walls, simple and a little bit child-like, but with a definite energy. I like this figure!

The Grenadier figure was done in the mid 1980’s, and shows just how far sculpting had gone. This figure was actually rescued from a junk pile at a war games fair, and had obviously had a very hard life – really badly painted and dented. Soaking it in Simple Green brought the paint off, but it had lost a bit of detail. Excuses, excuses….

I stuck to the same colour scheme – dark gray for the horse parts, dry brushed white, and then picked out the armour with white as well, followed by a quick coat of Army Painter dark tone and finally picking out detail with gold and burgundy. The face and arms were simply flesh tone and Army Painter soft tone again. I really like the mid-80’s Grenadier figures, the one produced before the oval flat bases and the Nick Lund era, and I think this is one of their better efforts – I’ll be happy to see him based up as part of a centaur Knights unit.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Interlude: Dipping - a UK comparison of Quickshade and two UK based varnishes

When I am not painting up old bits of lead, I am also painting up various armies for use with Hordes Of The Things (HOTT). This usually involves me ransacking various old games such as Battle Masters, Hero Quest and Dark World for the miniatures, which are then used to make up the rank and file aka sword fodder.

The majority of these miniatures are painted for tabletop use, and I've previously had good results with a furniture varnish by Blackfriar - I use the Dark Jacobean colour. However, I was given two tins of Army Painter Quickshade - one tin of Strong, one of Dark - and I thought I'd post how they compared. In addition, a friend had suggested using Wilkinsons own brand Walnut Satin Woodstain, so a tin of that was acquired.

I've tried to summarise my findings below by assigning a rating between 1 (poor) and 5 (good) for each of the following categories:

  • Price
  • Preparation for dipping
  • Application of dipping
  • Drying time

Army Painter Quickshade Strong - £16. 2/5
Army Painter Quickshade Dark - £16. 2/5
Wilkinsons Satin Woodstain - £4.20. 5/5
Blackfriar Dark Jacobean - £7.29. 4/5

And here are the contestants - 4 archers from Battle Masters. all painted in the same base colours:
Army Painter Quickshade Strong - just shake the tin. Easy. 4/5.
Army Painter Quickshade Dark - just shake the tin. Easy. 4/5.
Wilkinsons Satin Woodstain - needs LOTS of stirring and associated mess. 2/5.
Blackfriar Dark Jacobean - needs stirring and associated mess. 3/5.

Application - this was done with a brush, with the figure held upside down.
Army Painter Quickshade Strong - smooth, easy to apply, little or no pooling. 4/5.
Army Painter Quickshade Dark - smooth, easy to apply, little or no pooling. 4/5.
Wilkinsons Satin Woodstain - awful, really sticky and thick. Lots of pooling. 2/5.
Blackfriar Dark Jacobean - thicker than Quickshade, bit sticky to apply, bit of pooling. 3/5.

In all cases, the brush could be cleaned with White Spirits, as long as the brush was cleaned before the varnish dried!

Drying time
Army Painter Quickshade Strong - good, touch dry in 3-4 hours. 4/5.
Army Painter Quickshade Dark - good, touch dry in 3-4 hours. 4/5.
Wilkinsons Satin Woodstain - fast! Touch dry in 2 hours. 5/5.
Blackfriar Dark Jacobean - slow. Needed to be left overnight. 3/5.

Here are the figures after the drying:

And finally, after a coat of Dullcote:

My conclusion is that whilst Quickshade dips are expensive, the Dark version delivered what I wanted - easy to use, quick drying, and the figure looked good enough for general tabletop use.

If cost was an issue - then Blackfriar varnish is a definite alternative, if you can live with the stickiness of application to the figure and the extended drying time.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM43 Giant Griffon with GW Eagle wings

Now this is a bit of an oddity. I originally acquired just the body as part of a job lot – no sign of the original wings – and I was going to pass it on an incomplete miniature. As I was digging through the bits box, I stumbled across a pair of wings from a Games Workshop Eagle… but with no eagle body. Asgard body, meet GW wings.

Now, I am not a fan of winged miniatures. They take up too much space, the wings get chipped and break off far too easily, and worst of all they gather dust. But I like a challenge…

The wings actually fitted on to the body quite well using a few dabs of superglue, followed up with Milliput to make the join a bit less obvious. After that, white primer, then base coats of dark brown and yellow for the body and upper wings, and then dark gray for the lower wing tips – and then a wash of Army Painter Soft tone, and lots of lots and LOTS of dry brushing, especially on the lower wing tips. The GW wings really benefited from this – the Asgard body less so. As with so many Asgard miniatures (especially the large ones), the quality of sculpting is really coarse – the claws in particular were just indentations on the paws - and the GW wings did tend to show that up.
The figure needed a decent sized base to make it stable, but it did look empty – so the heads of victims were added, which are just GW plastic heads and various bits and pieces painted up in suitably decaying colours.

I was fairly pleased with this - it might even get some table top time for wilderness encounters. Not too bad for a late 70’s basic sculpt and a dodgy conversion job!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 2nd Series 009 Titan

Titan: an enormous, powerful, and godly outsider. Though titans are supposedly of both chaotic good and chaotic evil alignments, the majority of them seem to be good, and hence, those are the ones which will be described here. In appearance, a good titan resembles an enormous (25 feet tall) humanoid, with perfect beauty and strength. They are hardy and muscular, but nonetheless extremely handsome/beautiful. Every aspect of them (teeth, hair, etc.) is also perfect.

When this nugget was extracted from the Lead Mountain, my immediate reaction was WOW – what a figure! It is fabulous bit of metal – large scale (look at the Grenadier-Copplestone Wood Elf next to it), and really well sculpted – lots of detail, and a great pose. I’d acquired this figure in job lot, and originally it had been quite badly painted, but I’d stripped that off and was determined to try and make a decent stab at it. 
With something this size, I thought the best thing would be to keep the paint job as simple as possible, so not to distract from the figure. The helmet, breastplate, shield and greaves were just base gold, whilst the tunic was white, against standard flesh tones. I went for a red plume on the helmet for a contrast against the gold and white, and also because the figure reminded me of the Spartans from 300!

After that – a wash of Army Painter Soft Tone, which really brought out the detail and gave the helmet, breastplate and shield a good polished bronze appearance, followed by lots and lots of dry brushing. I deliberately kept the base as simple and as cluttered as possible – it's just GW sand, inked over and then dry brushed.

I am very pleased with the way this one turned out!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM75 Huge Spider - Unknown Barrow Wight - Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM96 Vampire Bat

Just a minor update of some miniatures I’ve been working on. First up, the Asgard giant spider - I'd previously posted it here, but I wasn't especially happy with the photos, so I've added it again here as part of a group. Oddly enough it looks far better at a distance!

In the middle… an unknown. This came as part of a job lot, and the base was missing or had been cut off, so I have no idea who the manufacturer is. I think it’s a barrow wight – the crown suggests that – but I can’t confirm it. A Lich maybe? I’ve searched for similar figures and found one other owner, but they have no idea who made it either! Any thoughts on who the manufacturer is gratefully received! The actual paint job was fairly simple – light green, then GW Beltain green, then dry brushing, with the face and crown picked out. The base is simply flock with a few strands of cotton wool to suggest mist! Whilst I was fairly happy with the paint job, I thought it did bring out how coarse the sculpting is – the face of the wight/Lich in particular isn’t that great. Still, I like the sculpt and the figure – I think it is very atmospheric – and I can see this getting a lot of table top time.

Lastly, the Asgard Vampire bat. Quite an easy figure to paint; browns and grays, then Army Painter Dark tone, followed by dry brushing. Simples! Having said that – I honestly can’t see it getting much table top time. It’s not a particularly dynamic figure – I think most Role Players would have preferred a figure in flight, rather than having something scrabbling along the dungeon floor. From what I can make out, it wasn’t a particular popular piece, and it’s fairly rare now. One for the collectors than the players, I think!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Citadel Advanced Dungeons and Dragons C34 Water Elemental

What’s this? A DOUBLE posting?!?! Well, seeing as the weather is good, I’ve taken the opportunity to varnish up as many figures as I can.

This was the next figure to be extracted from the Lead Mountain. I think this is a fantastic figure – fabulous sculpting, lots of detail, with a great pose. It really makes you realise how good some of the early Citadel stuff was. The hardest thing was building up the base so that it seemed like the figure was emerging from a pool of water – this was just white Milliput built up into waves.

The paint job was really easy – light blue base colour, then blue ink, then lots and lots of dry brushing in varying shades of blue, eventually ending up with white for the foam on top of  the elemental’s head and back. Simples! I usually give my figures a final spray of Dullcote, but I kept a satin varnish finish on this one, and I really think it helps give an impression of water.

Again, very pleased with the way this one turned out, and I can see it getting a bit of table top action – more than the Naga Spirit any how!

Grenadier Advanced Dungeons and Dragons large boxed sets 5002 Monsters Naga Spirit

Nagas spirits are the most powerful type of naga. They have a human head on a snake body and are akin to witches, among the naga races. They are even more mysterious and enigmatic than the others of their kind, seeking lost magic to a fanatical extent. They delight in causing suffering and death with the powers they possess.  

It’s been a while since I posted, not because I haven’t been painting – it’s just that the vile English weather has meant nothing but rain and high humidity for the last couple of weeks, which means no varnishing. However, I’ve had a couple of days of blue skies, so I’ve had opportunity to apply a couple of coats to the latest batch of figures.

Next out of the Lead Mountain was this early nugget from Grenadier. I was NOT enthused – as I’ve said before, a lot of the early Grenadier figures were very poorly sculpted, with little or no detail, and my initial reaction was that this one fell into that category. Still, out with the brushes.

It’s a simple figure, so I made a deliberate decision to keep the paint job simple – just two colours, red and yellow. I was going to go for black and red, but black isn't the easiest colour to paint, and I thought this figure needed all the help it could get. I also decided that I would have it rising out of sorcerous flames – after all, it’s a magic using spirit naga, so why not? – and the base was just white Milliput moulded into the form of flames.

The paint job was nice and easy – base reds and yellows, then a couple of Games Workshop washes, then lots of dry brushing, to bring up the yellow and also to try and brush in the gradual change from red to orange to yellow.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail that came up – obviously not as much as modern figures, but still pretty good for early Grenadier. The face of the naga didn’t give much joy, so I kept it simple and just painted glaring blood red eyes. Christopher Lee, eat your heart out!

I was quite pleased with the way this one turned out – I had very low expectations of the figure, and it came out quite well. Can’t see it getting much table top time though.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Grenadier Fantasy Lords box set 6004 Monsters of Mythology M1 Chimera

The Chimera was, according to Greek mythology, a fire-breathing creature composed of the parts of three animals – a lion, a snake and a goat. It is usually depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat arising from its back, and a tail that ended in a snake's head. 

Next from the Lead Mountain was this gem by John Dennett. Initially I was a bit underwhelmed - it looked a bit ridiculous to be honest, and I have always thought a Chimera was a weird idea for a monster anyway. You can see why a lion or a snake would be feared, but a goat!?!

As soon as I started to paint this up, I appreciated what a well sculpted figure this is – lots of detail, which really came to the forefront with a wash and then highlighting. The figure itself was a pleasure to paint – yellows and browns for the lion, a red and yellow design for the snake, and grey with white highlights for the goat. Simples!

I was really pleased with the final product – it’s a great figure, one of Grenadier’s best IMHO – very dynamic, and for once it gives an idea of how the Chimera might work as creature in D&D. You have the fire breathing lion with claws and teeth to drag down and savage adventurers, whilst the snake watches out for any one trying a stealth attack at the business end of things!

And the goat? The goat acts as a lookout whilst the lion and snake sleep - as soon as it sees or hears anything, it bleats and wakes them up!

Very pleased with the way this one turned out!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 500 series Classics 532 Iron Golem

As soon as this came out of the Lead Mountain I thought WOW – what a great figure! This is a serious piece of metal, both in size and detail – I’ve posted a picture of a Grenadier Wood Elf druid next to it, and later Grenadier Elf figures were a decent size, but this simply dwarfs it (if you can ever dwarf an Elf… interesting idea ;))

The figure itself was a joy to paint – I used gray car primer as the base coat, then a coat of Army Painters Dark Tone all over, followed by lots and lots of highlighting with silver. The base is simply modelling sand.

I think this is a stunning figure – everything about it, the detail, the pose, just works. Imagine your party of adventurers wandering around a wizard’s treasure room and then finding this chappie guarding it! This is one of the best Grenadier figures cast IMHO. 

Very pleased with the way this turned out!

Hinchcliffe Fantasy (FA) Range FA10 Armoured Centaur

And next up – another relic from the late 70’s/early 80’s. Hinchcliffe were only of the earliest figure manufacturers – pre-Asgard -  and went through several changes of ownership. I believe they’d owned by Hinds now. As with all of the very early manufacturers, the quality if the sculpts often left a lot of be desired – they were primarily designed for wargaming use, with intention that you had lots of units looking pretty much the same, and keeping them simple to paint. When D&D became popular, Hinchcliffe took the same approach with their Fantasy range – a lot of their figures were very crude and not very detailed. 

When this sculpt got extracted from the Lead Mountain, I was NOT enthused. I mean – look at the back legs – it looks more like a grasshopper’s legs! And the length of that sword arm – has the centaur been stretched on a rack?!?! Ah well, out with the brushes…

I have learnt that the trick with painting a lot of the early mini’s is to keep it simple. With that in mind – dark brown for the horse body, leather for much of the webbing and the basic armour, red for the cloak and plume, silver for the sword and helmet, followed by soft tone wash. So good, so far. It was only when I started to highlight the figure that a lot of detail really came out – I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. The base is simply green flock.

I still have major issues with the figure though – I mean, LOOK at that tail! Shouldn’t that be dangling off the back of a werefox or something? I can’t see it getting too much table top time – I have other centaur figures more suitable (mostly as part of a HOTT Wood Elves army), but I am quite pleased with this one – I really didn’t think it would turn out as well as it did.

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM75 Giant Spider

The sun is out, and that means – I can varnish my figures! The weather has been foul over the last couple of weeks – just day after day of damp, misty weather that means any attempt to varnish would just end up with the figures looking as if they have frostbite. I have been painting in the period, and completed several figures – it’s just that I’ve not had an opportunity to varnish them.

First up, a giant spider from Asgard. This is a splendid figure with an unusual pose; I don’t think I’ve seen any other spider sculpts with the front legs reaching up and out, as if to tap the back of an unwary adventurer. It’s a decent size too – certainly big enough to scare even latter day sculpts – and the quality of the sculpt is pretty good for something from the early 80’s!

The paint job was surprisingly easy; base coats of yellow and brown, Army Painters Soft Tone wash, then dry brushing for highlights before picking out the white spines on the back. Nice and easy! The basing proved slightly problematical; the base of the figure was round, and too big for a 25mm square base, and too small for a 40mm base. In the end I compromised with a laser cut MDF round base, and then used sand to cover it. The skull is simply a GW plastic skeleton head added for scale.

Pleased with the way this turned out!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 500 series 528 Mounted Grim Reaper

The sun is shining, which means that I get to spray the varnish on the latest nugget extracted from the Lead Mountain - a rather odd but rather well sculpted piece from Grenadier. The figure comes in two parts – the rider and horse are one piece, whilst the hands and scythe are another, more flimsy piece, secured in place with superglue. Once primed, it was actually a very simple piece to paint; a base coat of matt black, dark gray dry brushing for the cloak and the horse, then white to pick out the bones for the Reaper, with deep red leather for the barding. Simples!

I like the sculpt – it’s a dramatic pose, and it painted up nicely – but I’m not sure it will get much table top time, or even who it was aimed at. It’s not a standout figure IMHO, so I don’t think it would serve as the centre piece of an Undead army – and opportunities for the appearance of the Grim Reaper on horseback in D&D sessions are frankly limited. In addition, it sits somewhat uneasily with a lot of other Grenadier figures - as it is mid-period Grenadier, it is more finely detailed than the early ones, and smaller than the later  ones. These are probably the reasons why it didn’t sell that well, and why it appears to be a fairly rare piece – I’ve never seen another one, other than the versions still in blister packs on Lost Minis.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM71 Bugbear

Had a bit of time on my hands, so I’ve been able to finish off another nugget extracted from the Lead Mountain. Next up was this overlooked morsel from Asgard; as any followers of the blog will know, I am partial to Asgard sculpts ;)

No two ways about it; this is an odd looking sculpt. Bugbears are generally viewed as larger, more intelligent goblins – hence the green skinned paint job – and the actual sculpt of the head, arms and torso is fine, lots of detail there, whilst the club is suitably menacing. But what is it wearing??! It looks like a boiler suit! And as for those boots… very dapper, and totally incongruous! The clothes are just totally out of keeping with the rest of the figure. However, I understand that in later editions of D&D, bugbears could be player characters, and I’m guessing that the figure was designed for that purpose – otherwise, if you put this figure amongst a horde of goblins (even Asgard goblins) it’s just going to look right out of place.

A pleasure to paint though – standard goblin green for the skin, blood red for the hair (just for contrast) and then a light khaki colour for the boiler suit, with leather for the boots. Apply washes, then dry brush. Simples!

I’m fairly pleased with the end product, although I can’t see it getting much table top time. From what I can make out, it’s a fairly rare piece (although I understand that Viking Forge still produce it, along with a lot of the old Asgard range) – I suspect it didn’t sell well because it is such an odd looking critter.