Tuesday 31 December 2013

Grenadier Monster Manuscripts Vol.III MM19 Efreeti

Efreeti are supernatural creatures in Arabic and Islamic folklore. They are in a class of infernal Jinn,  noted for their strength and cunning. An Efreeti is an enormous winged creature of fire, either male or female, who lives underground and frequents ruins. Efreeti live in a society structured along ancient Arab tribal lines, complete with kings, tribes, and clans. They generally marry one another, but they can also marry humans. While ordinary weapons and forces have no power over them, they are susceptible to magic, which humans can use to kill them or to capture and enslave them. As with the Jinn, an Efreeti may be either a believer or an unbeliever, good or evil, but he is most often depicted as a wicked and ruthless being.

The next item to be extracted from the lead mountain was this fabulous sculpt by John Dennett. The paint job on this was surprisingly easy - yellow at the base, blended into orange, and then finally red for the main torso (although I did keep the lower part of the right arm orange to suggest it was still emerging from the flames) - and then a wash of GW crimson, followed by lots of dry brushing. The armband and the earring were picked out with gold, whilst the eyes and teeth were picked out with yellow and white. The base is simply Milliput, scored to suggest flames (perhaps not too successfully), and then painted orange and dry brushed yellow to try and merge into the base of the figure.
I think this is a fantastic sculpt - incredibly sinister, and radiating malice. Imagine the reaction of adventurers entering a desert tomb and finding this waiting for them! VERY pleased with the way this one turned out :)

Saturday 28 December 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM25 Giant Snake

What's this?!? TWO postings in the same month?!? Ludicrous... I actually have a couple of weeks off, so I am using the time to get in some much needed painting. Next from the lead mountain was this rather unspectacular beastie from Asgard.

I was NOT enthused. Whilst many of the early Asgard sculpts have a lot of charm and character (for example the excellent trolls from the Fantasy Monster range), several of them are quite coarsely sculpted... such as this one. The level of detail on the scales, eyes and mouth isn't great to be honest, and there were plenty of flash lines on the scales which were difficult to cut away/smooth down without wrecking the figure. Still, out with the brushes... 

One immediate issue was the base for the figure - it didn't fit well on a 45x20mm GW 'long' base, so it ended up on a 40x40mm base. Even then the head still stuck out over the edge! It also made the base look a bit empty, hence the addition of the heads from a plastic GW skeleton cavalry unit. The original idea for the paint job was to base it on a coral snake - brightly coloured and defined bands to give out a very definitive 'here is danger' signal - and in hindsight I should have gone for a deeper orange or even red, as the final result does make it look like a serpentine version of the lead character from Finding Nemo :( The actual paint job was just white, orange and black bands plus a light yellow for the underbelly, followed up with an Army Painter Soft Tone wash on the orange and yellow parts. The base is just builder's sand.

To be honest I wasn't happy with the figure or the paint job, until I put it on a table and stepped away from it. Oddly enough, it looks a lot better from a distance, especially when placed next to unwary dungeon adventurers. I suspect this figure may get a decent amount of tabletop time - it will certainly meet the need for a generic 'oh-look-here-is-a-giant-serpent' encounter. It also seems to be a fairly rare figure - I've only seen a couple of copies turn up on certain auction sites, and they seem to go for a decent amount. One for the collectors and completists rather than the painters ;)

Friday 13 December 2013

Grenadier Monster Manuscripts vol 1 MM4 Basilisk

"In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance."

The next nugget to be extracted from the lead mountain was Grenadier's take on the Basilisk. Whilst I am big fan of Grenadier figures, and especially of John Dennett who sculpted this one, I was not enthused - it looked like a slightly comical figure rather than the king of serpents. And what was with the eight legs??! Still, out with the brushes...

I'd been reading an article about how difficult it is to paint yellow, and I thought "it can't be that hard". Wrong. It's really difficult to do it without the figure looking grimy... this is my best shot and I still think it needs a bit of a wash. Originally the figure was done in two shades of yellow - a dark yellow for the scales on the top, a lighter yellow for the bottom part of the figure - and then a light coat of The Army Painter mid-tone wash. And then highlighting. Lots and lots and lots of highlighting, before picking out the detail of the crest in red, the teeth in white and the claws in black. The base is simply GW sand, whilst the finish is satin varnish to give it a slightly shiny scale look.

It didn't come out too badly I think - it's just a really weird creature, basically a dinosaur with too many legs - and I still think it looks too cuddly to strike terror into the heart of anyone. I suspect it is to do with the pose - that raised claw looks like it is about to beg for something. Love and affection and a nice cup of tea perhaps.

As for the eight legs... well, I did some digging, and found this woodblock print of a basilisk from 1640, which is probably where John Dennett drew some inspiration and then probably thought, "the king of serpents... with a chicken's head. Nope. Let's give it the head of.... T.Rex." And no, I don't mean Marc Bolan...

Friday 29 November 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM30v2 Half Troll with sword

Wow... is it really a month since my last post? I originally set myself a target of posting at least twice each month, but a combination of work and other commitments meant that it just hasn't happened. As it is... I've just managed to sneak one in under the wire before December.

This chappie was next to be extracted from the lead mountain, and is the brother to this which I painted earlier in the year. I took pretty much the same approach with the paint job - Citadel paints, washes and highlighting, whilst the base is  a small stone from the garden, some flock from a railway basing set and strands of stick for the reeds. 


As with his brother with the hammer, it's a very appealing figure - probably the last thing you'd want a weary group of adventurers to see rushing towards them! I also believe it is comparatively rare - I've only seen one other instance of it on e-bay, although I understand you can get recasts from Viking Forge. Well worth the investment if you can find them!

Saturday 26 October 2013

Grenadier AD&D Small Figure Set 2010 Denizens Of The Swamp Giant Snake

Next out of the lead mountain was this little gem - one of the early Grenadier figures from the early 1980's, from the Denizens Of The Swamp box set. I'm a big fan of the early Grenadier figures - I know that they can look somewhat childish and naive compared to the more sophisticated sculpts of today - but to my mind they have a wonderful fun element that seems to be lacking in a lot of modern figures. They also seemed to mirror the drawing style of the illustrations in the early AD&D manuals! 

I think this is a terrific figure, with a definite sinister air to it. My only concern it whether I've done it justice with the paint job.I am sure every miniature painter has at least one figure in their collection that they look at and think, "why did I paint it that way". 

To be honest, that is where I am with this figure - I looked at it, and instead of going with inks and drybrushing, I decided to give it a black base coat and then pick out each of the scales with green or yellow. Yes, really. It seemed like a good idea at the time... but it took forever, and I'm still not sure that it was the right decision. 
The base is just standard green flock, with some shards of bark from the garden serving as "reeds". I also applied a single gloss varnish, to think and convey the smooth sheen on the snake scales.

The figure itself is great, although if you wanted to be picky you could point out that the head is maybe a bit too large, and those fangs are just comical... but it looks the part, and that is the main thing. I'm not too sure about the paint job though. Still, its perfectly good for terrorising lost adventurers who make the fatal error of crossing a swamp!

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st Series 163 Black Drake

Has it REALLY been 3 months since I last posted?!?! Good grief... I can only put it down to a combination of factors - work, holidays, kids needing ferrying to universities and colleges, unexpected sunshine and a garden that seemed to need constant attention. Excuses, excuses...

This figure was actually started at the tail end of June, and I have only just got round to finishing it.

It's well sculpted I think - plenty of detail - and painted up quite well. Black is a notoriously difficult colour to paint up, and this was done with a black undercoat and then drybrushing with several layers of very dark blue paint to bring up the detail. The red scales had to be picked out with white, and then painted red, followed by orange drybrushing. It's a long figure - hence the need for a custom base - and I added bits from a plastic Games Workshop skeleton horse to pad out a little at the ends. The texture on the base is some grit/gravel from a railway model, inked over to give it a suitably dark look.

As with many of the Grenadier 1st series creatures, it is a bit of an oddity. It looks like a standard dragon... but that beak is just strange. You just can't imagine it breathing fire! And that tail with the vicious looking club looks like something from a dinosaur.

A quick check through my old D&D manuals gave a few pointers:

When possible, black dragons prefer to feed on sentient beings, considering fey creatures particular delicacies. The bulk of their diet consists of swamp creatures such as snakes, alligators, small mammals, and birds. Like alligators, black dragons might let their prey rot in the mud at the bottoms of swamps because they prefer the texture and flavor of putrefied flesh. 

- which would explain the beak, as it would be more suitable for tearing rotting flesh, similar to a carrion crow.  I'm guessing that the preferred mode of attack would be to swoop down on an unsuspecting adventurer, club them senseless with the tail, and then drag the bodies to a suitable swamp to rot down before consumption. Yeuuccck. 

Quite pleased with this one! And I hope to post more regularly for the rest of the year...

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM19 Storm Giant

From the D&D Expert rulebook: "These are the tallest giants, often over 22' tall. They have bronze coloured skin and bright red or yellow hair." This is Asgard's take on a Storm Giant, painted with the above description in mind.

This is an absolute whopper of a figure, in solid metal, and seriously heavy - if you look at the base, I have attached the skull from a plastic Games Workshop skeleton to give an idea of scale. In fact, to illustrate this further, I've added another pic of the same figure with a "normal" sized Asgard figure from the same era. 
Whilst you get an awful lot of metal for your figure, the quality of sculpting isn't that great - as with many of the Asgard figures of the period, it is is very coarse, with things such as fingers pretty much reduced to just lines scraped into the main fist. Other lowlights include the detail on the helmet, the legs - basically two thick stumps - and the mace it is wielding. Still, I did my best; base colours first, then a couple of washes, then lots and lots of highlighting. The base is just builders sand inked over, plus a few rocks from the garden, as well as the skull.

It's a fairly dramatic figure I think; it certainly looks the part, striding purposefully forward to smite some unfortunate opponent. If you saw it on a D&D table you'd probably want to get your party of adventurers out of the way of it ASAP!  It's also a fairly rare figure from what I can make out - I've only ever seen it on auction sites a couple of times, and even then usually without the mace that figure originally came with. I suspect that its scarcity is probably because of the cost of the figure in the late 1970's/80's - something using that much metal would not have been cheap - plus the line drawings from the Asgard catalogue of the time didn't give any idea of the scale of the figure, or really do it justice. A bit of a shame really, because as a piece of old school lead I think it's fantastic, even after taking the coarseness of the sculpt into account.

Finally, this from a later edition of D&D: "Very rarely, storm giants have violet skin. Violet-skinned storm giants have deep violet or blue-black hair with silvery gray or purple eyes." I have another copy of the same figure in a very sorry state - broken off at the legs, missing the mace and undercoated in what appears to industrial strength white car primer - but if I clean it up, I may well paint it up as a violet skin variant. Watch this space...

Saturday 1 June 2013

Grenadier Dragon Lords Fantasy Box Set 5002 Monsters - Slime A plus Citadel Runequest Demon Amorph

Two rather peculiar figures next. The one on the left is a Grenadier sculpt, depicting a natural hazard much beloved of Dungeon Masters everywhere - a green slime - whilst the one on the right has been kindly identified by Joe Thomlinson as a Citadel Runequest Demon Amorph:
The green slime is a splendid sculpt - rearing up to strike at an unwary adventurer - and was very simple to paint, just a base coat of green, green and brown ink washes and highlighting. The rest of the base was coated with PVA glue and then inked up accordingly. I deliberately used a gloss varnish on this sculpt to emphasise the sliminess, and it looks a treat - unfortunately, it makes it very difficult to get a decent picture, and to be honest I don't think the picture I've posted does it justice.

As for the Runequest demon... I found it in the lead mountain next to the green slime, so at some time I obviously thought they should go together. Again, very easy to paint - a base coat of pink, then red ink wash, then highlighting, then a matter of picking out the various eyes, teeth and lips on whatever it is. The rest of the base was coated with PVA glue and then inked up accordingly, and it came out with a suitably unpleasant look as if it is resting on a thin sheen of blood (!). Originally I used a gloss varnish but somehow it didn't look right, so a top layer of dullcote was applied for the final result.

Very pleased with both of these - easy to paint, good final result - and I can see both of them getting a significant amount of play time!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Legends 3107 Troll (2 of 2)

And next up - another Julie Guthrie troll from Grenadier. This was originally part of a two figure set; I did the first figure here. At the time I didn't realise that the two figures were a combo, otherwise I might have painted them together. As it is, they get separate billing. 
I've gone for more of a gray-skinned LOTR/The Hobbit feel for this one - in addition, this chappie might end up as part of a Winter Orc army, which uses whites and grays as the default colour scheme. The figure was actually quite easy to paint; a gray base coat, then an ink wash, then highlighting, then the slightly tedious matter of picking out the unpleasant red blemishes on the skin. The base is just stones and sticks from the garden under a flock coating, and then an ink wash on top of that.

It's a nice sculpt, as are most of Julie Guthrie's figures - it certainly looks unpleasant enough - but somehow I'm not enthused about it. The figure seems oddly stiff, and to my mind it lacks an air of menace. Still, I am quite sure he won't look out of place amongst the Orcish hordes!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM28v2 Half Troll with hammer

I haven't posted for a while due to a fairly hectic social life and work load - but I've still managed to do some painting in my spare time! The next nugget to be extracted from the lead mountain was this beastie from Asgard:
A lot of the early Asgard figures were quite coarse, but this one is quite well sculpted I think. It certainly painted up well - just the usual Citadel base paints, then washes and highlighting - although I wish I'd been braver with the shield, and done my own design on it. As it is, I've chickened out and used a transfer (actually from a Warhammer 40k Space Marine transfer set!). The base is just some small stones from the garden, some flock from a railway basing set and some thin strands of stick for the reeds.

It is actually quite a striking figure - literally! - with a very dramatic pose, which I haven't seen any other sculptor use. It is unusual, and makes for a very long figure base, which perhaps accounts for why it wasn't a particularly popular figure. I know Viking Forge still produce it, but on my travels I've only seen my copy of the figure and maybe one or two other pictures of it.

Thursday 4 April 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st Series 138 Hippogriff

Next up from the lead mountain... another Grenadier sculpt:
I have to be honest and say that when this one was extracted I was not enthused. I am not a fan of large winged creatures in fantasy settings (dragons excepted), purely for the reason that they take up an inordinate amount of space to store, and also because they collect dust like a dragon gathers gold! Still, out with the brushes...

I made a decision to keep the colour scheme as simple as possible - just a light gray for the wings and body, white on the neck, and yellow for the beak, crest and legs/claws, followed by a dark wash and then lots and lots of highlighting, starting with light gray and then working up to white for the wing tips. It actually brushed up quite well, especially the wings:
It turned out a lot better than I expected it to - good quality sculpting from Grenadier! - but to be honest I can't see this figure getting too much table play, unless I make it a centre piece of my Hordes Of The Things (HOTT) wood elf army. Hmmm...

Saturday 23 March 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Lord 500 series 505 Old World Dragon

Question: when is a dragon not a dragon? Answer: when it's a Grenadier Old World Dragon! The next nugget to be extracted from the lead mountain was this rather strange creature:
- which on first impression is neither fish nor fowl... nor dragon! Still, out with the paintbrushes. Standard techniques used, Games Workshop paints and washes, then lots and lots of dry brushing. The base was created by gluing three 25mm bases together, and then covering with flock and some small stones from the garden. The rock that the beastie is crouched upon is part of the original sculpture.

I was actually very pleased with the way this one turned out - it is a lovely sculpt, very sinuous, something like a cross between a lizard and a cat - which is what I always imagined a dragon to look like. In fact I'm so pleased with it, here is another pic:
For a long time I puzzled over what this figure was supposed to be - it has no wings, and looks more like a scaled dinosaur or strange crocodile. That, and the name - "Old World Dragon" - were the clues. I think it's supposed to be a dragon from the early stages of the evolution of the species - it hasn't developed wings yet (another couple of million years should see that right!). I should imagine it would give your average T.Rex a bit of a run for its money with those scales, especially if it had developed fire breathing. Imagine your average caveman turning the corner and running into this chappie!

Having said that... unless you were running a DnD campaign set in a "lost world" where dinosaurs still roamed the earth (and they were popular in the early days of the game), I would see limited game play for this figure. It's a shame, because as with a lot of the later Grenadier sculpts, it's a lovely figure... 

Sunday 10 March 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM27v2 Half Troll Chieftain

Asgard were one of the first manufacturers of fantasy figures, and as a consequence the quality of their sculpts varies from the dreadful to the excellent. The next figure to be extracted from the lead mountain leans more towards the better side of their sculpting, IMHO:
As with the majority of Asgard figures from the Fantasy Monsters (FM) range, you get a lot of figure for your money - however, that doesn't always mean you get detail in the sculpt, but this is one that I think they got nearly spot on. It was a pleasure to paint; mostly Citadel paints, and then a wash of The Army Painter Dark Tone Ink, followed by highlighting. 

You could argue that the figure falls foul of a common complaint about Asgard figures - the legs  look a little too short and thin, and the haft of the axe is way too thin for the figure to be used in RPG play on a regular basis before it would snap off - but on the whole I think it's a great figure. Very pleased with the way this turned out!

Sunday 17 February 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Warriors Blister Pack 941 War Troll Champion

And staying with Grenadier...

Next to be unearthed was a figure acquired as part of a job lot from a certain auction site. It was in a sorry state; caked with thick layers of paint, seemingly applied with a decorating brush, and missing its original weapons. After a couple of weeks soaking in Simple Green and the vigorous use of a nail brush, it was finally in a state where I could have a go at it:
The most pressing issue was the lack of weapons; originally the figure had a monstrous scimitar in its right hand, and a stone headed axe in the left. The only suitable weapons from the bits box that looked a likely match were a morning star and war hammer from the arm pieces of some Games Workshop Chaos cavalry, and I think that they don't look too out of place.

I decided to go for more of greyish-stone based approach for the skin; this also ties in with an alternative Winter Orc army I am working on, which will also have white/grey skin (and this chappie may well end up as part of it!). The armour was silver and GW Tin Bitz, highlighted with gold, with leather for the gauntlets, and red for the cloth.

It's an impressive figure; it towers over similar figures from the same era. If I had a criticism it's that the arms are a little stiff, but it's a minor grizzle. This would definitely work as the champion of an Orc army, or else as the boss/final encounter of a dungeon encounter!  

Sunday 27 January 2013

Grenadier Monster Manuscripts Vol 1 1501 MM8 Borer Serpent

The next nugget to be unearthed from the lead mountain was yet another Grenadier sculpt (they were the largest distributor of figures in the 1980's):
As with all of the later Grenadier sculpts, it is beautifully detailed and has an interesting pose - it looks as if it has just caught the scent of its next victim!

An easy figure to paint, too - base coats of red and yellow, then ink washes and finally dry brushing to finish. I put it on a 45mm base to be consistent with the rest of my mini's, but that left the ends of the base a bit bare - hence the skull and bones, which are just spare bits from a plastic skeleton.

Pleased with the way this one turned out!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM65 Flying Reptile And Wraith

Next up from the lead mountain... Asgard's take on the Nazgul from The Lord Of The Rings:
As with all Asgard sculpts from the early 70's and 80's, it's quite coarse compared to the fine detailed sculpts you see today. In particular, the Wraith is VERY crude - the folds in his cloak are acceptable, but on his legs (which unfortunately you can't see in the picture) I think he's supposed to be wearing chain mail leggings, when it fact it looks like he has a pair of woolly tights on!

The Nazgul/Reptile is a rather splendid sculpt though. The figure came in 3 parts - body and two wings - and I had to use an inordinate amount of super glue and patience to make them stick together, again due to the coarseness of the sculpting. Once assembled, it was a pleasure to paint - a surprising amount of detail, which came up well with washes over a base pink paint job for a suitably unpleasant effect.

The sculpt is something of a rarity - I've not seen another one - although I understand it's still available from Viking Forge in the States. I suspect that it didn't sell well on release for a number of reasons - firstly, Asgard didn't (or couldn't) advertise it as a Nazgul, and secondly it was an expensive sculpt when I acquired it. A third reason is that it was sold in a time when miniatures catalogues only had line drawings of the figures, not photos - and the line drawings from the Asgard didn't do it justice, and gave no indication of the size of the beast. Bit of a shame really, because I think it's an attractive "old school" mini, worthy of a place of honour in any Chaos army.

Friday 4 January 2013

Grenadier Julie Guthrie's Personalities 881 Succubus

Next up was a fairly simple (but rather evocative) sculpt from Julie Guthrie, when she had her own range at Grenadier:
I am of the opinion that Julie's sculpts were a turning point for Grenadier - previously, a lot of them  had been a bit cartoon-ish, whilst her work heralded a more "realistic" style (if anything in a fantasy miniatures world can be described as "realistic"!).

The figure was really easy to paint; base colours, then simple washes, then highlighting. I was especially pleased with the way the bat-wings came out!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 1st Series 105 Werebear

It's been a while since my last post - a combination of work, Christmas and New Year effectively preventing me from posting on a more frequent basis - but I've been been painting, which is why there will probably be several updates this month!

First up is this rather splendid sculpt from Grenadier:
Nice and easy to paint; white primer undercoat, then a mid brown base coat, then a wash of Devlan Mud, followed by drybrushing. The base is just flock, plus a couple of stones from the garden.

I really like this figure - it simply oozes power and savagery - and I can easy imagine it in a scenario like the Battle Of The Five Armies in "The Hobbit", ripping into the hapless goblin hordes! Rather than being stored away, this figure is going to be used as a Behemoth in my HOTT Wood Elf army.

Very pleased with the way this turned out!