Saturday, 31 December 2016

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2016 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint

Incredibly it’s that time of year again when Blaxkleric loses all sense of editorial standards and lets me loose on his most excellent blog to share with you, his dear readers, what, in my humble opinion are my ten favourite figures (a loose term as you will see later) that he has been kind enough to share with his blogging audience from this year’s Fantorical posts. 

Now this job, a joy as it is to perform, becomes harder each year with the standard of Simon’s brushwork (and it would appear his output!) ever increasing. It is however, also a pleasure looking back over the postings and figures that Simon has produced over the year and indeed this year’s number one figures (yes there are two, and no as you’ll hopefully see, I don’t think that’s cheating) were in fact a couple of chaps I had completely forgotten Simon had painted. But I’m getting ahead of myself, anyway here in ascending order are the results of the North West jury….

"Even after death, however, its presence lingered, as crops grew sickly and many fields had to be torched..."
Though I have to say that I am not the biggest fan of either "Games Workshop" or their Chaos ranges, there was something about this impressive twisting horror that made him stand head and shoulders above his disgusting brethren in my books, and pushed him up to the number ten spot in my list. Simon's superb painting of all of his Nurgle force was suitably “pustulous” (good word that, I should copyright that!) but this is the best figure from his Chaos output for me.


"...By the Sixth Century AD they were already popularly depicted as guardian figures."
Okay, this isn’t exactly a wargames figure as such, but I just had to include these wonderfully painted pieces of scenery in my top ten. There has been a bit of an oriental theme running through several blogs this year ("Carrion Crow's Buffet" and "Da Gobbo’s Grotto" immediately spring to mind) and there has been some stunning stuff on show. Simon's contribution is no less worthy of praise. The colours, finishes and tarnishing on these “Foo Dogs” is superb and just so… right. There’s no other way to put it. These would make a great addition to any oriental battlefield (or Chinese restaurant for that matter).

"Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her."
I’m a fan of "Irregular Miniatures". I think for the prices they can’t be beaten. To be honest though, some of the ranges are better than others, and these newer spaceships are some of the very best. I own quite a few of the ships myself, but not any of the “Federation” inspired ones that Simon spent a couple of months churning out beautiful examples of. Once again he managed to produce utterly faithful representations of iconic heroes from my youth (albeit this time a starship). Every ship in his collection could make this list, but the very fact that the ship he chose to be his U.S.S. Enterprise was not “line for line” an exact clone of the TV ship, yet he still made instantly identifiable as such, is what made it my stand out of the bunch.

"...Lamenting deeds of which the flowery ground is conscious."
Have you ever seen the film “From hell It Came”? No? Then you should as it is about a malevolent tree stump that kills people, and it’s terrible (but in a good way). The second I saw this miniature I was immediately reminded of that film, though Simon's “stump” is way more impressive than the one in the film. Basing it on a 40mm figure base was an inspired choice and the amount of detail and shading he’s put into the finished product is first rate. If only he’d finished it in matt varnish it would have been perfect (sorry Simon, had to get one dig in about this). 

"The red mist that flooded the creature's vision dissipated, along with the murderous rage."
I rather think Simon would kill me if I didn’t include at least one of his “Guild Ball” players in my list. Especially considering the enormous amounts of trouble they appeared to cause him when it came to putting the figures together. It is fortunate then that this muscle bound hulk of a brute impressed me so much once he was finally finished. Looking like an escapee from a Mad Max movie, the subtle shading on his flesh is what impressed me most about this chap.

"Besides it looks like the bones were bent straight out."
Now does this count as an actual playing piece or a piece of scenery? I’m not sure, but I do know that either way this is one impressive little xenomorph. Simon has impressed me with his “Alien” figures on numerous occasions now, with his 15mm versions making it up to Number Seven in my 2014 choices. Simon is the master of “black” figures, getting the shading just about perfect in my books. Add into this his use of gloss varnish and you have a rather gory recipe for success.

"Don't they know how many corpses there are in the world?"
One of the highlights of the year has of course been “Zomtober”, and as always seems to be the case Simon put his distinctive spin on it once again, taking inspiration from the “Judge Dredd” story “Judgement Day“. All of his Mega City One zombies were worthy of note, but it was this little lady that stuck out in my mind as the star of the show. Brimming with understated menace Simon’s brushwork as is excellent as always and the details and colour choices brought her wonderfully to (un)life.

"Nurtured. You don't mean to say you've been feeding him?"
Following on from the Zomtober entry above this figure was part of Simon’s project for the same from 2015, “The Seeds of Doom”; this was of course the classic Tom Baker adventure and this figure of Arnold Keeler perfectly portrays the character's descent from infected human into what is effectively a big slimy compost heap. I was very impressed with the way Simon blended in the “Krynoid” parts with the human underneath, not easy to do convincingly but carried out with great aplomb.   

"Enchanters are hands-on wizards who work their magic by investing it in objects or people."
Well last year Simon's excellent "Frostgrave" Witch made it into the top ten, and it appears he’s done it again this year with this equally spectacular Enchanter. Once again the level of detail he’s added to the figure is awe-inspiring and his colour choices are as always spot on. If anything I think I like him better than the witch!

"Don't blame me. I'm an interpreter. I'm not supposed to know a power socket from a computer terminal."
As I mentioned at the start of this piece, I had completely forgotten about these two wonderful figures. Indeed, when I was re-working my way through Simon's posts for the year I had initially added one of his (also excellent) Stormtroopers to my short list. But then I came across these chaps and I immediately thought I’d  discovered my potential “top spotters”. The colours are perfect, the details are absolutely spot on and the character in the figures is top notch too. They look as if they had just walked off of the film set. I covet these figures greatly and I think anyone would be justly proud to have them in their collection and that’s why for me they had to be my top choice from Simon's 2016 output.
"The City's central computer told you? R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer."
This is of course just the merest glimpse of Simon’s awesome output for the year, and I’m sure many of you (including Simon) will disagree with many of my choices. There were simply so many excellent figures to choose from I could easily have filled out a top twenty, but special mentions must go to his "Frostgrave" (Witch) Apprentice, The OMAC, Vampire By Night, Captain America, and Manphibian; who would have been a shoe in I’m sure if he’d only finished him! The list could go on and on, but I’m happy with my list as it stands, so it only remains for me to thank Simon, for once again letting me loose with his baby, and to wish you all the very best of 2017’s.

I can’t wait to see what he presents us with then, Cheers Roger.

40 comments:

  1. What a post, Simon must hold you in high regard to take over the reigns. Interesting top 10 all very noteworthy painting on Simon's part. Joined the party late in the year so had missed some of these, Here's to a great 2017 Cheers Roger

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    1. Blimey, you got in quick Dave!! It was good to see one of your sculpts in the Top Ten, and I'm sure more of your excellent stuff will feature in the next year's too. You may have joined the "Fantorical" party late, but you've certainly made an impact upon my gaming hobby already, and I'm extremely grateful to you for doing so. Happy New Year :-)

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    2. Happy new year to you to mate, and thank you for inviting me in to the "Fantorical" party it's been a blast

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    3. Thanks Dave, glad you approved of my choices, I don't know about high regard, you should see how he moans at me over what I pick!;-)

      Cheers Roger.

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    4. One man's gem is another man's coal, we all see pieces in a different way. It's always good to see someone else's perspective.
      Cheers Roger

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    5. "One man's gem is another man's coal" - That "Tree Of The Damned" is no gem, Dave, I assure you, even if I'm assured the paint-job looks a lot better in the flesh than in my post's photographs.

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    6. Must have been your way of overcoming a difficult model that got it into the top 10

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  2. Roger, Many thanks for once again spending some considerable time pouring over my past twelve months’ worth of postings. Although if I'd realised you'd include so many objective markers/scenery pieces (or that ruddy “Tree of the Damned”) in your Top Ten, rather than my colourful Captain America or boil-covered Herald of Nurgle, then I might have insisted you just include figure models…

    These past twelve months have been my most productive yet, and resultantly I’ve painted an awful lot of “Heroclix”, “Frostgrave” and “Age Of Sigmar” models; not to forget a fair few starships by “Irregular Miniatures”. I’m delighted that all of these genres are represented through your choices – even if I would probably have chosen different examples.

    Still it would be a boring world if we all liked the same thing. Many thanks once again, and a Happy New Year :-)

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    1. It certainly would (remember Gluckle!), Black Scorpion would be top of my list too.

      You are of course most welcome, this is a great idea on your part and now one of the real highlights of the Xmas holidays. I have now posted your list of my fig's over on my blog (as you've gone early this year).

      Perhaps next year I'll be able to pick some of WSD's figs for my top ten Fantorical list?;-)

      Cheers Roger.

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    2. Hmmm... "Wargames Supply Dump" minis. Now there's a thought, as I own quite a few ;-)

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  3. A great end to the year review. Lots of eye candy while I drank my coffee and nibbled on cake.

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  4. An excellent review of one of my favourite blogs...Mr Blax's quality output both in blog posts as well as minis puts me to shame!

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    1. Thanks Gordon. The only thing I'd tone down with regards to your blog is the number of articles tempting me to buy more minis or rule-sets!! Have a Happy New Year my friend :-)

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  5. I always enjoy these end of the year top ten posts and this was well worth waiting for. I think Roger chose well and I know that having to choose just ten figures from so many well-painted figures must have been extremely difficult. Now I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us in 2017. Happy New Year!

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    1. Cheers Bryan. Have a Happy New Year :-)

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  6. Not a bad pick but I'd have included Capt America. A great year

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    1. Thanks Martin. So would I!! ;-) Happy New Year.

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  7. Splendid top ten choices, Roger, and I have to agree with the top pick. :)

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    1. And well done most of all to Simon! :)

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    2. Cheers Leon. Much appreciated. Roger does a cracking job each and every year imho. Looking forward to the fourth one ;-) Happy New Year.

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  8. Nicely done Simon.......and of course Roger!

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    1. Thanks Fran. Glad you enjoyed the post. Roger is a top fellow for taking this one every year. Happy New Year.

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  9. Have to agree with Martin Roger/Simon, Cap would have been top 5 easy! Love the droids though and definite worthy winners. As for the Foo dogs, that weathering was top notch and inspirational. As Roger said though your black shading is what is always amazing to me as I'm rubbish with it, however I'm going to persevere and my new Tengu faction for Bushido will endeavour to "do a Blax" and get some decent black as part of the faction colour

    Happy New Year to you both

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    1. Much appreciated Andy, and I'm glad you appreciated the Foo Dogs - they were afterall inspired by your "Bushido" posts. Just grab some "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and I think you'll find most of your black shading issues will disappear :-) Happy New Year.

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    2. Captain America was number 11.

      And yes he is annoyingly good at black, isn't he!!

      Cheers Roger.

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  10. Great choices Roger, Simon has had another tremendous year and as entertaining as ever. I would probably have included the Nurgle broods and Bloodletters.

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    1. Thanks Michael. I do like to keep Roger busy with plenty of choices. Happy New Year.

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    2. Everyone a critic!! (LOL)

      Cheers Roger.

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    3. "I would probably have included the Nurgle broods and Bloodletters." - Me too ;-)

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  11. Fabulous work Simon (and Roger who had the difficult choice of choosing!) Its been a marvellous years worth of work and a pleasure to watch them all come to life with a lick or two (well many) of paint :)

    Happy New Year to you all!

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    1. Most kind Simon, and a Happy New Year to you too :-)

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  12. I'm always impressed at how prolific Simon is, let alone how much I enjoy what he paints!

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    1. Cheers Myincubliss. Much appreciated and Happy New Year :-)

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  13. An interesting choice of models from one of your most prolific years. It certainly goes ro show your wide-ranging interests. I probably would have picked different models, but each of us has different, which is what makes the hobby interesting. Here's wish8ng you a happy new (and prolific) year.

    Best wishes

    Jez

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  14. Happy New Year Simon, from all of us here in Ireland xxx

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    1. Thanks Hil. Very much appreciated. Happy New Year :-)

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  15. Good selection of Simon's work for sure. I'd say though that out of the figs featured, the Beast of Nurgle gets my #1 slot, though I might be a little biased on that choice.

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    1. Cheers Dai. I thought you'd go for one of my Plaguebearers, or a Herald of Nurgle myself ;-)

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