Sunday, 30 March 2014

Viking Forge FM-01 Giant Troll w/Axe and Spear / possible Asgard FM35 Hill Troll?

And now we have a bit of a mystery… hopefully solved. But first, a history lesson. Asgard Miniatures were one of the earliest British manufacturers of fantasy figures. Eventually, they were sold on to Table Top Miniatures (TTM), who eventually sold the moulds on to Viking Forge, where you can still get some of the excellent (and not so excellent) Asgard castings. 

A couple of years ago, I won a job lot of TTM miniatures – several of them were still in their original TTM bags and labels, so they were definitely genuine TTM - and some were loose, but the seller assured me all of them dated from a period in the 1980’s where he’d bought them from TTM. This was one of the loose figures from the TTM job lot.

At first, I couldn’t find him at all in Lost Minis, so I checked on the Viking Forge website and spotted him listed as FM-01 Giant Troll w/Axe and Spear. That in itself was kind of odd; he didn’t bear any resemblance to the other Troll sculpts from the range, and also the original Asgard FM01 Troll was a much dumpier (and very coarse) figure. Rather than a Troll… he looks like a Hill Giant, or perhaps… a Hill Troll? In Lost Minis, the entry for the Asgard FM35 Hill Troll is empty. No-one knows for sure what the figure actually looks like… no catalogue lists the figure. Could this chappie be the missing FM35 Hill Troll? He certainly looks the part - closer in appearance to a Hill Giant than a Troll, to be honest.

The figure itself is very well sculpted – lots of detail and expression, and good threatening pose. If I had a criticism, the weapons supplied with the figure are a bit flimsy, and I can see them getting bent or snapped very quickly. Actually, that's another pointer to suggest he’s an early Asgard sculpt - other figures in the range have flimsy weapons, plus the odd looking axe he’s wielding is a ringer for the weapon supplied for another Asgard miniature from the same range, FM85v.1 Lord of Chaos.

The figure was a pleasure to paint; flesh tones, browns for the furs, red hair and a dash of silver for the chainmail, then a wash of Army Painters Soft Tone, followed by dry brushing. The base is simply flock plus a few twigs and stones from the garden; the strange looking bulrush thing is a sprig from some grapes!

I was very pleased with the way this one turned out – it’s a wonderfully detailed sculpt, with a distinctly menacing air. Perfect for terrorising adventurers when they seek shelter in a cave! Now, if someone could just confirm whether this is the missing FM35 Hill Troll...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Grenadier Wizzards and Warriors W34b Medusa

The saying goes, “make hay whilst the sun shines”. In my case, it is “varnish figures whilst the sun shines”. After finishing the Asgard Land Dragon, the next figure to be extracted from the Lead Mountain was… this. 

My heart sank. Whilst I am a big fan of Grenadier sculpts in general, the figures from the Wizzards and Warriors range were pretty awful – coarse, low in detail, and probably designed more as toy figures than as miniatures for gamers. This one fits into that category. Alackaday. Still, we must do what we can…

The first thing was to try and get it in a reasonable condition to paint. That meant trimming and filing of flash from the figure, and then filling in small dents and gaps. After that, the paint job… starting from the top; the hair. There was little or no detail to suggest that these were snakes… it just looks like a bad hair day. I’ve attempted to paint each snake with bands, so it suggests something venomous like a coral snake; however, there is so little detail that the end product just looks like a Rastafarian Medusa. Not too happy with that! 

Medusa’s are supposed to be able to turn their victims to stone; with that in mind, I tried to echo that by painting the upper body grey, like stone – my reasoning was that if the Medusa kept taking glances at her body, the very least that should happen would be for it to take on a grey-ish tinge. I was quite pleased with this; I think it inadvertently channels Indian scriptures of Kali! The facial features are very coarse – barely etched into the face – and I’ve done what I can with it. Not sure what the harness it is wearing is supposed to be either, but I’m assumed it is gold jewellery and painted it accordingly.

The lower snake part gave a bit more joy; the sculptor had traced out banding (not with any consistency), so I was able to pick that out with GW putrid flesh for the underbelly, and green and yellow for the scales. The base is simply GW sand. After that… a wash with GW shades, and the highlighting. Lots of lots of highlighting, effectively repainting the figure again!

The end product has a certain na├»ve charm I suppose, but I’m not enthused. Having said that, it is more likely to see table top time than the Asgard Land Dragon!

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM64 Land Dragon and Lizardman

I haven’t posted for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been painting – it is just that we’ve had so much rain recently, I simply haven’t had an opportunity to varnish the figures I’ve completed, and I preferred to wait for a couple of dry days rather than suffer the dreaded vanish frosting due to moisture in the air.

Anyhow… next to be extracted from the Lead Mountain was this rather splendid beastie from Asgard. The Land Dragon does seem to share a common ancestry with the Asgard Wyvern which I did earlier this year, but that is no bad thing.

The model came in 3 parts – rider, the main body of the Land Dragon, and the tail. The joint for joining the tail to the body was really poor, and it took quite a bit of superglue plus Milliput to get it in place. As with the Wyvern, the original Asgard catalogue drawing showed the tail hanging down, whilst in reality it is obvious from the casting the tail is supposed to curve upwards. It certainly makes for a more dramatic (if more fragile) figure! Originally the rider just sat on top of the Land Dragon, and there were huge gaps in the casting – this was alleviated by adding a leather cushion (sculpted from Milliput) for the rider to sit on. He certainly looked a lot comfier after the addition of the cushion!

And so on to painting. Quite a simple job, really; yellow for the underbelly of the Land Dragon, then red for the main body of it and the rider, with brown for the rider’s furs, followed by GW red shades to bring out the depth, and then highlighting. The base is just flock with a few garden twigs added.

I was quite pleased with the way this turned out – it’s a well detailed sculpt, especially for Asgard, who did turn out a lot of very coarse models, especially on the larger ones – and it is a very dramatic figure too. Having said that… there are definite issues with it, and I wonder why Asgard actually produced it. The rider is very small, especially when compared to other Lizardman figures from the Asgard FM range, although I suppose you could argue that the Lizard man race selected small riders for the same reason we select small jockeys to ride horses! If it were used as an encounter for a standard DnD session, I suppose the Land Dragon could give the party a hard time, but this figure strikes me as being more suitable for war gaming, with a unit of them charging the enemy ranks. Whilst this is a good idea in principle, I am guessing that the sheer cost of assembling a unit of Land Dragons and rider (plus the low popularity of Lizardman armies amongst gamers I know) meant that this just didn’t happen. Bit of a shame, as it is nice figure – just a bit too specialised for regular use.