Thursday, 28 December 2017

Ral Partha Personalities 01-003 Balrog v3 (rescued)

Bit of a gap between postings, but that's what a new job and Christmas does for you :) I've hardly had time to paint in the last month, but I thought I would post the latest extract/rescue from the Lead Mountain. I got this figure as part of a job lot, and it was in a sorry state - it was missing its wings, and the original right hand had been hacked off. Now, I am a big fan of Ral Partha sculpts - they are light years away from the Asgard and Grenadier sculpts of the same era - and I thought this was too good to bin. So, out with the bits box... in particular, the plastic Gargoyle from HeroQuest. I had a spare one lying around, and the wings from it were a surprisingly good fit for the back of the Balrog - a bit of superglue and Milliput sorted out any annoying gaps. The missing right hand was also sorted by snipping off the wrist of the same Gargoyle and pinning it in place - the hand is a bit out of scale for the rest of the figure, but I can live with that. After that, white primer, a bit more filling, and then out with the paints. As with all early sculpts - the trick is to keep it simple, so a base red, then a dark red wash, then dry brush to bring out the detail... including the rather obvious dangly bits (!). Maybe the Balrog and the Citadel Troll discipline master should get a room... The base of the figure is just shards of rock, painted light gray, then a dark wash, and then dry brush with red to suggest heat from the Balrog. The wrist band and the sword were painted in gold to suggest polished bronze (and also to reflect well with the red), whilst the whip was done is various light shades of orange, yellow and white to suggest heat. I'm pleased with the way this turned out - especially as it is a rescue piece - and considering it is nearly 30 years old, I think it holds up really well. Certainly the latest recruit to my Amazon/Shadowforge army looks worried by it!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Citadel C20 Troll Discipline Master with Whip, and Troll Attacking with Tree Trunk

And staying with Citadel... next out the Lead Mountain were these fine fellows. Now, my understanding is that these were sculpted by Tom Meier, and had a degree of notoriety due to their frank depiction of Troll genitalia. They don't leave much to the imagination, especially with the mild bondage elements of the Discipline Master! The series didn't sell well and was replaced fairly quickly by a second C20 series of trolls sculpted by Jes Goodwin, which were more in the traditional "cartoon" Citadel style... and also clothed! As a consequence the original Meier C20 trolls are comparatively rare to find (not surprisingly, one might say). They are actually lovely figures to paint - well detailed (a bit too much so maybe...!) and with little or no flash (fnar fnar). Base colours, ink wash, and dry brushing - job done. I think the Troll attacking with a Tree trunk is the better figure, and is more likely to see table top time as a generic "WTF is THAT" encounter - I think it still holds up really well against more recent figures, such as the latest addition to my Shadowforge Dark Temple/Amazon army - but the Discipline Master is probably a bit too specialised for use. It looks like an outtake from "300" to be honest. Potentially it could be used as a boss encounter, but in all likelihood it will be moved on to a certain auction site...

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Citadel C34 Fire Elemental (rescued)

Due to a number of factors, it's been a while since I last posted - but I have been painting in that time, so I have a backlog of minis to share with you, starting with this one. Before they mutated into Games Workshop, Citadel did some cracking figures in the mid-80's, including this one. I acquired it as part of a job lot, and it had been broken to it 3 (count 'em!) pieces. So - out with the superglue and filler. Fortunately the later Citadel figures had really good solid bases, so this figure was unlikely to fall over and break like so many Asgard figures. After that - the paint job. Basically the idea was that source of the fire elemental would be the base, hence the lighter (hotter) colours being there, and moving up to darker colours until we ended up with a thick black cloud of smoke from its hands. This was more difficult than I imagined, and I think perhaps transition between colours was as successful as I hoped for. I also kept the initial gloss varnish on the figure as it makes it look more fluid on the table top, but it doesn't make it as attractive in photos. I may revisit this figure and apply matt varnish. I still think it's an imposing figure, especially next to the latest recruit for my Amazon army, and I can see it getting plenty of tabletop time. Not bad for a piece that was original destined for the bin!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM42 Norse Giant

And next out of the mountain was this chappie. Now, Asgard did some great sculpts, some absolutely dreadful ones, and a awful lot of so-so ones. This is one of the so-so ones. As with all of the bigger Asgard sculpts, you get a lot of metal - compare it against a Shadowforge Dark Temple warrior/latest recruit to my Amazon army - but not a lot of quality with the sculpt itself, as they tend to be really coarse. It also suffered from having a base that was too small for such a top heavy model, which meant it kept falling over. So, once fixed to a plastic base - out with the brushes. Originally I was going to paint it as a Frost Giant, but in the end was swung by the name - "Norse Giant", and decided to paint him in human-like colours. I know a bad workman blames his tools, but the ink washes really brought out the coarseness of the sculpt, and even some vigorous dry brushing couldn't save things. I'm not especially happy with the figure at all - it's a bit static, and I can't think of any giant-based scenes where a Norse giant could appear. Perhaps I should have painted him as a Frost Giant. Can't see him getting too much tabletop time, and probably appearing on an auction site soon. You win some, you lose some...

Friday, 25 August 2017

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 2nd series 052 Yeti

And staying with Grenadier... next out of the Lead Mountain was this fine fellow. Grenadier went through a phase in the mid-80s of trying to produce figures for every eventuality, resulting in things like giant skeletons with scythes. This figure hails from the same era, and is a bit of an oddity. For starters, look at the size of it - it is huge, at least giant sized in comparison to the latest recruit to my Amazon army. I know polar bears are big but this is faintly ridiculous - what on earth is something that size going to live on, especially in frozen and/or mountainous environments? Anyhow, out with the brushes... It was actually a pleasure to paint, a base coat of white, then a wash of light blue to suggest ice and frost, and then lots and lots of dry brushing white over several nights. The paws and face were picked out with flesh tone mixed with white and just a hint of blue, whilst the eyes were done with my trademark chaotic red. The base is simply fine Milliput painted white, inked light blue and then drybrushed. I was quite please with the way this turned out, and I actually like the sculpt, but I do wonder how much table time it will see - not much call for yetis in my campaign!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Grenadier 1505 Monster Manuscript Vol. V MM41 Klynops

Early Grenadier sculpts tended to be very primitive - crude, and often naive - but later sculpts were a lot better, especially when they got John Dennett involved. Now, not everything he did was good, but I think this is one of his better pieces. It was an absolutely pleasure to paint - just base coats of white for the skin and brown for the fur, followed by a wash of GW nightshade to pick out the detail, and then dry brushing with light blues. I really liked the way the skin tone came out on this - I wanted to suggest something unnatural living in a cave and gnawing on sheep bones, and this worked pretty well! I think this looks like something that Ray Harryhausen could have dredged up for a film about Greek mythology. Just not sure about the name though - what's that all about? It's obviously a Cyclops, and I'm pretty sure the name isn't trademarked. Very please with the way this turned out, especially when placed next to the latest recruit in the Amazon army!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

TSR 5305 AD&D Monster Tribes Troll 2

A combination of incredibly good weather and some unfortunate family issues have meant that I haven't posted for a while... but I have been painted. Next up from the Lead Mountain was this. I understand that this is actually a Ral Partha sculpt issued under the TSR banner, and as with all Ral Partha minis it is a thing of beauty - great scale and lots of detail, though you could possible quibble about the pose, which is a bit static. It was a real pleasure to paint up - a base coat of green, then an ink wash which really bought out the detail, followed by dry brushing and picking out details such as the red spots and eyes, whilst painting the teeth and nails stone gray. The base is just Milliput and flock. Usually I apply two coats of varnish - gloss first, then matt - but I thought this figure looked good with just a gloss varnish, as it gave an impression of damp and moistness. I'm quite pleased with this beastie - it looks like it will give the latest recruit to my Amazon army a definite shock - and I can see this getting lots of table top time.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Grenadier Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 5004 Tomb of Spells Minotaur

Now here is a real blast from the past. Grenadier were one of the earliest figure manufacturers and produced some of the earliest miniatures for AD&D. A lot of the early figures were a bit suspect, especially the ones from the original Wizzards and Warriors range, but then they supplemented those figures with (slightly) better sculpts... like this one. To be honest, I think it has held up really well for a sculpt that is nearly 40 years old (and how old does that make ME feel :)) - it's well detailed, and its not a bad pose, though the moulding on the axe head on my copy is definitely suspect. So much for quality control! The trick as always with old figures is to keep it simple - base colours, then ink washes, then dry brushing before picking out detail. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this came out, although I do feel that the figure lacks an air of menace... it's bit bovine to be honest. Maybe it is chewing its cud (or part of an adventurers anatomy) before swinging that axe. Still, for its age it holds up pretty well, and as a generic minotaur for either dungeon or outdoor encounters, it will do very well - and how often can you say that about a figure that is at least 35 years old? 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Alternative Armies Very Nasty Things VNT09 War Troll

All this good weather has meant that I have been spending most of my time watering plants and hardly any time painting. I did get round to this chappie though. Now, I like Alternative Army sculpts - I see them as the spiritual heirs to Citadel, as I think they get the mix of oddball humour and unpleasantness just right. This sculpt is a great example - I mean, it is genuinely unpleasant, but it brings a smirk to my face at the thought of unleashing it on unsuspected adventurers. As with all AA sculpts, it was a pleasure to paint - a dark gray base coat, then a blue wash, then dry brushing and picking out the detail. The red really worked well, I thought. Simples! I can see this one getting a LOT of table top time.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Unknown carnivorous giant frog

When you look at a normal frog, one that's only a few inches long, it's easy to forget that the docile green amphibian resting lazily at the edge of the stream is an ambush predator who is secretly a cross between a ninja with a grappling hook and a black hole. When the rare example grows to the size of a horse, however, they remind unwary adventurers that anything can be dangerous. 

This is definitely a late 70s-early 80's sculpt, but it has no base (it rests on its legs and feet) and has no markings to indicate the manufacturer - any ideas? I've scoured Lost Minis and Google and I can't find any reference to it anywhere. As with all early sculpts, the trick is to keep it simple - a base green paint job, with a dark red for the tongue, and then washes and dry brushing to bring out a surprising amount of detail, following by flock and stone for the base. I like everything about this sculpt - it's very dynamic, with the lashing tongue and the raised claw giving it a real air of menace - and just look at the size of it next to a worried looking Shadowforge Dark Temple warrior! To be honest I've always though of this entry in the Monster Manual as a bit of a joke, but this sculpt has changed my mind considerably, and I can see it getting a lot of table top time in the next set of marsh/swamp encounters. Now, if someone can just identify who made it, I'll be a happy man...

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Citadel Runequest box 7 Flying Creatures Manticore

Citadel did some excellent sculpts before they morphed into Games Workshop, including some tie-ins with gaming systems such as Runequest (RQ). Now, I have to be honest and state that RQ was one of those systems that totally passed me by - D&D was and remains my RPG of choice - but I know a lot of people who rave about RQ, and it was mightily popular in the day, so much so that CItadel did several box sets of characters and creatures based on the game. This one of them. It's a lovely little sculpt I
think - in proportion, and somehow managing to convey the monstrousness of the thing - I mean, who dreamt up the idea of a lion's body, with bat wings, and a scorpion tail, and a flesh eating human face? The figure it was a pleasure to paint - as with most early sculpts, it was a matter of keeping it simple, which is why I didn't make the wings a different colour than the body - and dry brushing really brought out the detail, especially around the mane and tail. It really looks the part next to the Shadowforge Dark temple archer, and I can see this getting a lot of table top time.  

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st series 171 Treeman

And next out of the Lead Mountain was this. Now, the Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st series was very much a mixed bag - some dodgy figures from the old Wizzards and Warriors (W&W) range, plus some new sculpts to tie in with Dungeons and Dragons. This one looks and feels like something what was designed for the W&W range, but has been re-branded - does that face in the treeman remind you of the generic faces on so many early Grenadier minis? As with all early Grenadier figures, the trick is to keep it simple - a coat of brown wash, dark brown inks for detail, and then dry brushing, with just the eyes picked out in a vain attempt to give an air of malevolence to it. The base is just flock. To be honest, I'm not impressed with the figure - it's very static (but then, I suppose trees are... mostly), and there is no indication of whether it could walk or move like an Ent. And there is very little detail, other than the toadstools at the base - no leaves, or vines - just bark and branches and a face sculpted in. Oddly enough, its not even a particularly imposing treeman - look at it in scale compared to the latest Shadowforge Amazon archer, it's almost a large shrub. It's very much a sculpt of its time, and I can't see it getting a huge amount of table top time.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Grenadier Monster Manuscripts: MM73 Rhinshasa and MM38 Iron Bull

I haven't posted in a while - changes in job situation put paid to that - but here are a couple of related mini's I've recently been working on. These are both from the Grenadier Monster Manuscript series, which mostly featured sculpts from John Dennett, although Andrew Chernak, William Watt and Nick Lund also contributed. First up is an Andrew Chernak sculpt, the Rhinshasa from 1509 Monster Manuscript Vol.IX.  I think this is Grenadier's attempt to extend the idea of the Rakshasa (an ugly, fierce-looking and enormous creature, with two fangs protruding from the top of the mouth and having sharp, claw-like fingernails) to animals other than the usual tiger that is used, and to be honest I am not enthused. The actual idea is pretty ridiculous in the first place - a rhino clumping on two legs - and what's with the scimitar/sword it is carrying? Surely the preferred attack mode would be with the horn and then trample a wounded opponent? And the figure itself is a bit coarse, especially when placed next to the latest recruit in my Shadowforge Amazon army. Ah well... out with the brushes. It was actually a very simple figure to paint - base gray, then a wash, then dry brushing in light shades of gray and eventually white, and then picking out the horn and the red eyes. I can't see this getting much table top time at all, and this may get passed on very quickly. Moving on to its companion - NOW we're talking. This is John Dennett on top form - a really good sculpt, great detail, great pose - what's not to like? Again, simple to paint - a dull gray base coat, then a black wash to bring out the detail, then dry brushing in gunmetal and then silver. Simples! I'm very pleased with the way this turned out, and I think it looks great next to the Shadowforge figure. I am setting up a Greek based RPG, and this figure will see a lot of use in it.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Ral Partha/TSR AD&D 2nd Edition Monsters 11-414 Chimera

Before they went bust, Ral Partha produced a set of minis for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition that were amongst the best minis ever produced for the game - they really are that good. This is one of them. Now, I've always been a bit dubious about the concept of a Chimera in the first place - I mean, c'mon, a lion and a serpent and a goat mixed together? Why a GOAT? - but this sculpt handles the concept sympathetically and is really well done. Also, I am not a fan of winged minis - they fall over, take up loads of room, and gather dust like a dragon gathers gold - but I was prepared to make an exception for this one. The mini came in 5 parts - the lion body, the serpent head, the goat head, and the two wings - and it all slotted together really well, with just a minimum of Milliput needed around the joins. After that, out with the brushes, and the various subject matters that make up the figure dictated the colour scheme. The only choice I had to make was the colour of the serpent head and the wings, and as I'd previously had good results with red and yellow, that is what I went with. The figure was a pleasure to paint, and washes plus dry brushing really brought out the detail of the sculpt. The base is just sand painted gray, and some flock. I think this is a terrific figure - really menacing, with a great pose - imagine your tired and wounded band of adventurers finding THAT as the boss encounter. Very pleased with this one!