Sunday 29 November 2015

Stocking the dungeon: Grenadier Fantasy Lords series 1 116 Golems

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing. 

Whilst digging through the Lead Mountain, I also came across two Grenadier golems looking glum and waiting to be painted, and thought that they would make two quick and easy additions to the dungeon stocking project. A quick Google search returned a consistent theme - golems are usually (but not always) made of clay, and that dictated the colour scheme. One was given a base coat of a dull gray linen colour to suggest base clay, whilst the other one was painted with a dull orange to suggest the other more common form of red clay. After that - a wash with Army Painter Soft Tone, and the dry brushing, which really brought up the detail of the sculpts. The final touch was to pick out the shem (one of the names of God, traditionally written on a piece of paper and inserted in the mouth or in the forehead of the golem) and the eyes with black - this gave the golems a suitably empty, soulless expression.

Again, really pleased with the way these turned out. I can see these two getting a lot of table top time as guardians for chaotic clerics.

Stocking the dungeon: Grenadier Ghouls

One of the on-going projects I have is to paint up miniatures that could be used for "everyday" dungeon trawling - low level creatures such as skeletons, goblins, zombie, rats and the like. Whilst digging through the Lead Mountain I found three Grenadier Ghouls, and decided to see how they'd turn out. The all-too obvious thing to do was to paint them with a base coat of GW Rotting Flesh, but instead I took the decision to spray them with white primer, then wash them with GW with Carroburgh Crimson wash, and then dry brush them with off-pink to suggest recently dead flesh that had just begun to turn. As with all Grenadier figures of the 80s, the dry brushing really brought out the detail, making it easy to pick out things like teeth, nail and bone. The final touch was to give them red eyes, purely to make them look more sinister. I'm very pleased with these - it was a quick and easy paint job, and they make a refreshing change from the usual hordes of grey-green flesh eaters that usually turn up when Ghouls are mentioned.

Citadel Fiend Factory FF5vs2 Winged Demon (Balrog)

I haven't posted in while, not because I haven't been painting, but because the weather has been so lousy that trying to spray varnish any figure has been completely impossible. Fortunately we got one clear, dry day this week - so out came the spray varnish, and cue me making multiple posts. Next out of the Lead Mountain was this fabulous sculpt from Citadel. It really is a terrific sculpt - brooding and definitely malevolent. Just look at the scowl on that face!  The paint job was easy - a base coat of red, then GW red wash, and lots of lots of dry brushing in various shades of orange, yellow and eventually a few touches of white to suggest heat. For once the base of the figure was substantial enough to stop it falling over, so all I did was to give the base a top coating of sand and then dry brush it to suggest hot coals.  As with most of the Citadel figures, it has real personality and presence - I can imagine the majority of dungeon delvers taking one look at this and immediately going the other way. Pleased with how this turned out!

Saturday 17 October 2015

Grenadier 8003 Action Art Mythological Creatures 8003e Cyclops

And staying with a Greek Mythology theme... Grenadier released four large boxed sets of figures complete with acrylic paints, paintbrush and painting guides, in an attempt to lure in hobbyists. The paints and paint brushes were not good, but some of the miniatures were terrific. This was one of them. I've no idea who the sculptor was, but they did a terrific job - I think this is one of the best figures Grenadier produced, a great pose, everything in proportion, lots of detail - what's not to like?

The figure didn't need much cleaning up - I had to tidy up up a few flash lines on the right shoulder - but after that, it was a pleasure to paint. The main challenge was picking out the colours for the patches on the trousers, and trying to ensure that they didn't clash too much. After that, an Army painter soft tone wash, which really brought out the detail, followed by dry brushing and high lighting. It took some time, but I think it worked out really well. If I had a criticism, it was the job I did on the base - I did my usual trick of building it up with Milliput and then glueing sand on top, but unfortunately some of the same dropped off and I ended up painting the exposed Milliput dark gray with a dark wash to suggest stone. My main concern is that there isn't enough of a contrast with the light gray fur effect on the feet, but it is something I can live with. I really enjoyed painting this figure, and I'm very pleased with the way it turned out. I just just love everything about it - I think the pose is fantastic, as if he's just about to dash some poor adventurer's brain out with the rock.  I can see this one getting plenty of table top time!

Sunday 13 September 2015

Unknown Greek Centaur

And a bonus post, along with a request for help. I'm also painting up a 25mm army for HOTT based on Greek fantasy, and one of the figures I'm using is this fabulous looking Greek centaur. The only trouble is - who is the manufacturer? It's not a slotta - the figure is based - but there is no manufacturers mark to ID it. Any ideas, anyone?

The figure came from a certain auction site, but weaponless - so he is using a plastic spear acquired from Wargames Foundry Amazons. The shield is an integral part of the figure. Quality of the sculpt is good, nice and crisp, and the style suggest late Grenadier - possibly Mark Copplestone? It was a pleasure to paint - simple base colours (I used gold to suggest polished bronze), then a wash of Army Painter Soft Tone, followed by dry brushing and use of white to pick out the clothing. The base is just standard flock glued on.

Really pleased with this figure - it fits in well with the rest of the Greek Fantasy units - but if anyone can ID him, I'd be really grateful.

Ral Partha Personalities and Things... 01-045 Earth Demon (Elemental)

Sticking with Ral Partha, this was next out of the Lead Mountain. Again, the quality of the sculpting is excellent, especially when you compare it to other manufacturers from the same period - although one has to raise an eyebrow at the anatomical correctness of the figure. And with that out, out with the brushes (so to speak). This was really easy to paint - gray primer, black wash, and then dry brushing with light grays, which really brought out the quality of the sculpting. The base is just Milliput with some GW sand glued on, and then paint gray. Simples!

This is a terrific figure - as most of the early Ral Partha's are - and I can see this getting a lot of tabletop time.

Monday 31 August 2015

Ral Partha Personalities and Things 01-69a Djinn

I like Ral Partha sculpts, especially the larger creatures - quality of sculpting and level of detail was light years ahead of the competition in the late 70s and early 80's. If I had a minor quibble it was that their smaller figures (e.g. the adventurers) always looked a bit too small, especially when placed against their contemporaries from Citadel and Grenadier. This figure is a great example of a larger RP figure - stylish, good detail, great pose - what's not to like? Well, now that you mention it - it is prone to falling over, so the first thing was to attach it to a plastic base to give some stability. After that, on with the paint job. Good quality sculpting = easy paint job - base colours, GW washes, and then highlighting, especially for the white areas on the figure. The base is just cotton wool to try and give the impression of the djinn appearing in a cloud of smoke.

I like this figure a lot - unfortunately I can't see it getting a lot of tabletop time, purely because the D&D campaign I run has a definite Nordic/British Dark Ages slant, and the figure is definitely Arabic in appearance. Might need some lateral thinking to bring him in to the campaign...

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM66 Large Troll with club

A combination of holidays, work and ferrying kids to see universities has meant that I haven't had time to post recently. That doesn't mean I haven't had time to paint though. Next up from the Lead Mountain was this chappie from Asgard. My guess is that he was sculpted by the same person who did the Silent Shambler, as there are definite similarities between the two figures, and this probably influenced the paint job.
The actual figure is one of the better Asgard efforts - quite detailed, no flash marking - although it does suffer from a common issue of Asgard minis, in that the haft of the club is very thin, and prone to snapping. It is fairly rare to find this figure in one piece. The actual figure was pretty easy to paint, just muted colours, then Army Painter Soft tone to bring out the detail, then highlighting. The base is just flock. I like this figure - as a generic, brooding, bad tempered troll (presumably set to guard treasure) I can see this getting a lot of table top time. Not bad for a figure that is nearly 40 years old!

Friday 31 July 2015

RAFM 3949 (b) Gargoyle

And a bonus posting. I obtained this figure from a job lot on e-bay, and I've been unable to identify it fully. The base is clearly marked RAFM, but nothing else. I've checked Lost Minis, but I can't spot it anywhere - anyone with any ideas? As with all the RAFM sculpts, it is lovely and clean, and cast in good crisp metal- a real pleasure to deal with. The figure came in 3 parts - two wings, and the torso - and my only criticism was that the base was originally very narrow, making it prone to falling over. In the end I glued it to standard GW base and used Milliput to give the impression of stone flags. The actual paint job was very simple - yellow for the underside of the tail, then base red, then a GW ink wash with dry brushing to bring out the fabulous detail. Simples! This was a really easy figure to paint, with very little effort, and I'm pleased with the result - I can see this getting a lot of table top time as a generic winged demon. 

Edit: finally identified as RAFM 3949 (b) Gargoyle by the good people at Lost Minis!

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM40 Troll Champion

And back to Asgard. Their Fantasy Monsters range has lots of trolls and half-trolls in it, but from two different sculptors. I think one of the sculptors was Jes Goodwin, who did the later, fine detailed "good" troll sculpts, and the earlier, coarser sculpts were done by someone else. This is one of the earlier sculpts.
As with so many of the early Asgard sculpts, it is really coarse - there is some detail, especially on the chain mail and the gauntlets, but the rest of it is very poorly done. In particular, the face is just two holes poked in for the eyes, and a gaping hole for the mouth. Still, out with the brushes. For early Asgard's I've found it best to keep it simple - in this case, silver and dull gold for the armour (I wanted to suggest brass, but it came out a bit too light for my liking), leather for the gauntlets and red to give a bit of impact. The original weapon (which I understand to be a stone mallet) was missing, so this chappie ended up with a plastic mace from a GW Chaos knight. After that, standard washes, and highlighting.

It's a brute of a thing, with real presence - look at it in comparison to the Asgard dwarf from the same era - but ultimately I think the quality of the sculpting lets it down. I think it's supposed to be a centre piece, a War Champion to lead your armies, and I think it lacks the detail to make it that stand-out piece. It will probably see some table top time as a guardian of a treasure room for low level adventurers, though.

Thursday 16 July 2015

Citadel Fantasy Tribes Trolls FTT8 Troll Brat hurling rocks

Just a quick update of the latest nugget extracted from the Lead Mountain. Citadel did some excellent figures in their pre-slotta days - they simply ooze quality - so when this figure turned up I was really pleased to take the brushes to it. It was a really simple figure to paint as well - base colours of flesh and brown for the fur kilt, and then orange for the hair, purely because I thought the figure reminded me of idiot son from the Dick Emery show, only more violent. Washes and high lighting brought up the detail a treat, whilst the base is just small bits of Milliput painted gray and then dark washed to mimic what he is throwing.

I really like this figure - just look at that expression of dumb malevolence! If this is a teenage hill troll, I can't begin to imagine what the grown-ups are like. I can this one getting a lot of table top time, either as a generic hill giant/troll, or else as a recurring NPC.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Asgard Fantasy Monsters FM24v2 Silent Shambler

And next from the Lead Mountain... something. To be honest I don't know exactly what this is supposed to be - the Asgard catalogue simply lists it as a Silent Shambler, but there is no information anywhere on what a Silent Shambler actually is or does. I suppose it shambles around... silently. Asgard figures tend to fall into two categories - good or bad - and I think this is one of the good ones. It's still coarse, especially compared to modern sculpts, but what I really like about this figure is the pose - it gives the impression of something long and lanky ambling around. Whilst the face isn't finely detailed, I think the teeth do help to give it an expression of malevolence. And it has real presence - just look at it next to that unwary Elf!

My best guess is that a Silent Shambler is some kind of stealth predator, perhaps a form of ape or lemur that dwells in forests and marshes, moving silently before leaping upon unwary adventurers - certainly the long limbs would suggest it is some kind of tree dweller. The name suggests that it is blends well with its surroundings, hence the choice of colours for the paint job - light brown for the fur (that incidentally is sculpted almost like tree bark... hmmm) and then a dark wash, followed by dry brushing. The face is simply picked out with an undead skin tone, with a suitable wash and then dry brushing, whilst the eyes were kept as a solid red block for contrast. The base is just standard flock.

I was really pleased with this figure, considering how old it is - I can see this getting a decent amount of table top time!

Sunday 21 June 2015

CItadel C34 Air Elemental

The sun is out, the grass is growing, and the weeds are threatening to engulf the garden... who planted that triffid anyhow? Basically my spare time has been spent in the great outdoors, cutting and trimming, leaving the Lead Mountain to hold it's treasures. Until now... next out was this gem from Citadel.  

Now, I think that Citadel went through a purple patch just before it moved to slotta tabs for its figures, and this one was a product of that era. It is a fantastic sculpt - really atmospheric (if you'll forgive the pun) and full of movement. And it was really simple to paint - white primer, then GW Draaken Nightshade wash, then dry brushing. The mist/cloud around the base is simply cotton wool tugged into shape.

I am really pleased with the way this turned out - maximum effect for minimum effort - and I can see this getting a LOT of table top time.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Asgard FM22 Oriental Troll with Two-Handed Mace

There was a period in the early 1980's when the RPG hobby got interested in Oriental folklore and mythology - as a consequence, most of the main manufacturers started producing samurai and ninjas, as well as a whole host of unpleasant creatures for them to battle. Next out of the lead mountain was one of Asgard's offerings for the genre.

Now, Asgard sculpts generally fall into two categories - good, or awful. This is one of the good ones. I think it is by the same guy who did this - possibly Jes Goodwin? 

The figure was pleasure to paint - a nice clean sculpt, and no flash to clear - and as with all Asgard figures, keeping it simple really helps. Basically the only contentious issue was the skin colour - I normally avoid blue, as I find it a difficult colour to shade well, but the use of GW ink washes really helped here. A few highlights and then - done!

I am really pleased with the way this one turned out - I think it holds up really well for a figure that is nearly 35 years old - and my only regret is that I can't see it getting much table top time. To be honest I don't buy in to the entire Oriental genre within D&D, and none of my campaigns have that flavour. A bit of a shame really :(

Sunday 17 May 2015

Unknown Air or Wind Elemental

And now a bit of a mystery item. I know what it is - it's an Air or Wind Elemental - but apart from that, I know nothing else about it. It has no base markings, no tell-tale clues on the styling of the base to hint who might have produced it... nothing. I've checked on Lost Minis - nada. Even Google Images turned up zilch. So - if anyone can identify this, please let me know!

Regardless of the manufacturer, I think it's a terrific figure, really well sculptured and with tons of energy and character. And look at the size of it next to a late Asgard Dwarf King! The only criticism I have is the casting - it is of hard alloy (not lead like a lot of the early sculpts I own... hmm... bit of a clue there) and it had a quite prominent casting line right down the centre, which took a lot of time to file down. 

Once that was done, the paint job was easy - gray primer, then GW blue wash, followed by lots and LOTS of white dry brushing. Simples! As for the base - I wanted the effect of it rising and moving out of a cloud, and then leaving a trail of vapour behind it. That is simply cotton wool, pulled out into a form that suggests swirling and movement.
I am pleased with the outcome of this one - minimal effort for a good result. I can see this one getting LOTS of table top time!

Sunday 26 April 2015

Ral Partha Personalities And Things That Go Bump In The Night 01-003 v2 Balrog

At the same time I was working on the Asgard Lizardman I bought a job lot of badly painted and broken figures from a certain auction site, and this was one of them. Originally the figure was in a shocking state – someone had painted it black with what looked like industrial strength tar, and the sword was missing - but once I’d cleaned it up I thought I’d see what could be done with it.
The missing sword was replaced with a plastic Ork blade from 40k, and then out with the brushes. It’s very early Ral Partha, and whilst some of their early figures can be a bit coarse, this one didn’t disappoint. As usual, keep it simple – base coat of red, then a dark red ink wash, then lots of and lots of dry brushing before picking out highlights with a yellow/white mix. The base is just sand with a brown ink wash, then dry brushed with red and orange to suggest hot coals. Simples!

I really like this figure – the pose reminiscent of the very early Minifigs goblins, which I always liked – and the ink wash brought out a surprising amount of detail, though I did have to use dark red paint for some shadowing where the shoulders and arms let the wings. Even the sword and the flame whip painted up reasonable well. Not bad for a figure that is nearly 40 years old!  The Asgard Dwarf King is again in the picture for scale, and also to illustrate the difference in quality between Ral Partha and Asgard right from the very beginning. Very pleased with this one – I can see it getting a decent amount of table top time as the guardian of forbidden treasures…

Asgard FM38 Giant Lizardman

Next out of the Lead Mountain… something from the realms of badly sculpted figures. It’s an Asgard, who produced some fine figures in their day, but some absolute stinkers, and this is one of them. It’s not as bad as the Asgard Troll, but it’s close. 

It’s a giant Lizardman, with an enormous chopper. I was not enthused. The pose is pretty awful, and it suffers from all of the major problems that the larger Asgard sculpts have – coarse sculpting, and no detail. Even the facial details were rough – badly defined lips, no tongue and just a few teeth. Sounds like some people I know. Still, we must do what we can. As with all of the early sculpts – keep it simple, yellow for the under belly and then green for the main body, followed by an ink wash… which really brought out just how coarse the sculpture is. Oh dear. Even several layers of dry brushing couldn’t salvage this one. The base was a bit easier – just sand, then wash, whilst the reeds are bits of old toothbrush painted green. 

I gave this a good shot but to be honest I’m not happy with it. I know a poor workman blames his tools and all that, but there wasn’t a lot to work with on this figure in the first place. And I mean, LOOK at it – it looks like it's about to swagger into a fantasy bar room and pose like John Travolta in the Saturday Night Fever era. No wonder the Asgard Dwarf King I’ve put in the picture for scale looks worried. And it’s not as if there is a great demand for giant Lizardmen in any of the D&D sessions I run. Can’t see this one getting much table top time!

Saturday 21 March 2015

Ral Partha "All Things Dark And Dangerous" 02-940 Skeleton Giant

Not had too much time to either paint or post this month - I've either been away on business, or else I've been ferrying kids around to look at universities - but I have managed to finish this magnificent beastie off:
It's a sculpt by Julie Guthrie, and it's just fantastic. Everything about it is quality - the pose, the detail on the armour, everything. I was looking for centre piece for an Undead HOTT army I am working on, and when this came out of the lead mountain I know it was perfect for the job.  It is a seriously big bit of metal - look at the size of it compared to the GW zombie!

This was a pleasure to paint - base white, with red for the remnants of clothing, and then a sepia wash from a company called Lavado, which gave the bones a suitably grubby look and which really brought out the detail. After that, light dry brushing and picking out highlights. Simples! If I had one criticism of the figure, the base was rather thick - I suppose it has to be to support something that big! - but I think I managed to successfully disguise it beneath a layer of PVA glue, gravel and static grass from 4ground. The figure is on a 60mm x 40mm base for use in HOTT.
Really pleased with the way this turned out!

Saturday 21 February 2015

Asgard (Viking Forge) Fantasy Monsters FM74 Water Elemental

This next sculpt is a bit of an oddity, in every sense of the word. Originally I thought it was an Asgard FM74 Water Elemental, but I’ve since found out that this is a re-issue by Viking Forge – with some extra bits added on. You see the original here, and then compare with the version I’ve painted up. As with many of the bigger Asgard sculpts (this figure is nearly 70cm tall!), it has terrific presence, and the pose is dynamic – it really suggests something lurching out of the water to surprise the unwary adventurers. Set against that are the usual complaints about Asgard figures – poor detail on the hands/claws, weird proportions (just look at the size of the tail compared to the rest of the figure) and a tiny base that means the figure topples over VERY easily. More on that later…

The first thing was to stabilise the figure by gluing it to a standard GW cavalry base, followed by the use of Milliput to suggest waves and water. After that, various shades of green for the body, cream for the shell breastplates and armour, and then pink for the conch helmet. This was followed by shading and then the usual dry brushing to pick out detail, whilst I also dry brushed the back fin, the scales and the tail with silver to suggest glistening water. The eyes were filled in with red to try and give it a vaguely threatening appearance. As for the water base – that is just a blue/green base, with various washes, and then a white dry brush to suggest foam.

It’s an OK paint job, but I am vaguely dissatisfied with the figure as a whole. IMHO I don’t think the additions made by Viking Forge are an improvement – the conch helmet is vaguely ridiculous, as is the shell breastplate. Where the Viking Forge sculpt really fails is on the spear and the net to catch unwary adventurers – the original Asgard sculpt had them as separate accessories, whilst Viking Forge has made them integral parts of the figure. And they are fragile – the spear in particular is incredibly thin, and the original spear head was so fragile that it fell off and refuses to stick back on, so it has been replaced with a GW plastic spear head. As for the net… the figure comes on a really small base, and as soon as it falls over – the net breaks off. I've had to use superglue to re-attach it at least five times. This is just really bad design IMHO, and probably accounts for why the figure didn’t (and presumably still doesn’t) sell well.

Can’t see it getting too much table time to be honest – it is such a weird sculpt for a water elemental, and there are far better figures to use in a dungeon party encounter. One for the Asgard completists only, methinks…

Sunday 1 February 2015

Grenadier Fantasy Lord 2nd series 015 Battle Cyclops

And a new posting for a new month! The next nugget to be extracted from the Lead Mountain was this chappie from Grenadier. To be honest, I was not enthused - whilst I think a lot of the Grenadier sculpts from the 2nd series are fantastic, there are a couple that are so-so... and this was one of them. Still, out with the brushes - all the usual base colours, an Army Painter soft tone wash for the flesh and a dark tone for the metal, and then highlighting. Simples!

Whilst the paint job came out OK, I think my issues are mostly with the figure itself. It doesn't look especially menacing, and the proportions are a bit out - the legs look too small for the rest of the figure. And I'm not entirely sure what its purpose is - presumably it was meant to be the centre piece for an Orc or Goblin army? I don't think I'm alone in this, as it rarely turns up on e-bay, which suggests it wasn't a big seller. It might get some table top time as a guardian figure for treasure rooms, but to be honest there are lot of other (and better) figures suited for the job.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Trolls and Ogres: Hinchcliffe/Garrison, Ral Partha Wizards, Warriors and Warlocks E902 Ogre and Asgard FM41 Mountain Troll

A bit of a mixed bag this time around. The vile weather has meant that whilst I’ve been painting, I’ve not had opportunity to varnish the figures I’ve been working on until now. As you can see, for once there is a bit of a theme going on, as the last three figures from the lead mountain are all Ogres and/or Trolls:

On the left, we have an unknown Ogre. I think it is Garrison, or possibly Hinchcliffe, but I can’t find him in the catalogues anywhere. Anyone got any ideas? I know its late 70's, but there is no indication of manufacturer on the base.  Although it is a very simple sculpt, I think it has terrific energy – you can imagine the impact that would have on an adventuring party! I also think the detail in the face is really good for a late 70's sculpt, genuinely unpleasant, considering that the rest of the figure really isn’t that detailed. Not the greatest figure to paint – aside from the face, very little to work with, though I think it turned out OK. I can see this one getting quite a bit of tabletop time as a generic Ogre for D&D encounters!

In the middle… a Ral Partha Ogre with truncheon (!), from the original Wizards, Warriors and Warlocks range. It was missing its original weapon, so it has acquired a plastic mace from a GW Chaos warrior. Ral Partha sculpts were light years ahead of other manufacturers, and this sculpt illustrates why. Just look at that detail, and proportions – fantastic! This figure looks like it could have come from the more recent LOTR films – not bad for a figure nearly 50 years old!  It was a pleasure to paint as well – a gray skin base colour, then an Army Painter dark tone wash to bring out the detail. Fantastic! Really pleased with the way this painted up.

And then… on the left… an Asgard Mountain Troll. Oh dear. Bear in mind that this was produced at the same time as the Ral Partha beastie… you can see why Asgard went out of business. I think some of the Asgard sculpts are excellent, and really hold up even now… but this ain’t one of them. It’s dreadful – coarse, misshapen, out of proportion, badly sculpted… sheesh. It did give me an opportunity to try out the colours for a Winter Orc army I am going to start on, and I was quite pleased with the way the shading came out… but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s year. To be honest this is the worst figure to be extracted from the Lead Mountain, definitely the worst figure Asgard ever produced, and it has got absolutely nothing to recommend it IMHO… one for the collectors of the Asgard series, and that is about it. This might get passed on VERY quickly…