Sunday, 31 December 2017

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2017 - An "Undercoat" Personal Choice

I was somewhat surprised but also extremely chuffed to be asked to choose my top ten miniatures of 2017 as posted upon Blaxkleric’s “Fantorical” blog. My selection is a personal choice and I am sure people will disagree with some or all of my choices, but if we all the liked the same things the world would be a dull place.

Before I get to the miniatures however, I just wanted to add a small amount of context to my choices. I have known Simon for a long time and vividly recall my first gaming session with him. I had been a long time collector of miniatures but unenthusiastic painter, so seeing his fully painted forces with superb terrain to play on was a revelation and inspired me to paint more. Indeed, I have painted more miniatures in recent years than I have for the previous few decades, and that in part is down to the motivation of wanting my forces to be painted so I can face Simon’s. “Fantorical” has also been a huge source of inspiration and motivation for me too, as well as those websites it links to.

When I started looking for my top ten it quickly became apparent there were a lot to pick from and my choice would be very hard. It is clear that this has been a year when “Doctor Who” has massively influenced this blog, as there are numerous gorgeous models I could have picked but sadly left off the list as I did not want it to become the “Doctor Who” show! Anyway, enough rambling from me, here is the top ten in time honoured tradition starting with number 10 and counting down to the top slot.

'The Interceptor' - Accompanied by Mad Max and Imperator Furiosa
I have cheated here and included two miniatures as one, but in my defence the two go together and can’t really be separated. I must confess to really enjoying the film “Mad Max: Fury Road” as I feel it really captures what a post-apocalyptic world could be like. The figure of Max is well painted and captures the film character well. However, what elevates this entry to the top ten is the imaginative use of an historical armoured car to become Max’s new interceptor. Who would think of that? Not me, that’s for sure. But you know what, the madness works and they look brilliant together. Also the car’s excellent rusting techniques really stand out and make this a memorable 2017 entry.

"Supplies of all sorts were inadequate, discipline was breaking down, desertion was increasing..."
I didn’t think I would choose this model as there are far more appealing miniatures that have appeared during the year in my opinion. However, when I took the time to look at the paint job it made me realise the effort that had gone into it. Massed ranks of soldiers don’t normally get this amount of love, so the fact the face was painted with great eyes and features, combined with the clean bright colours and straps that make soldiers from this period really stand out, makes this more than worthy of appearing in the top ten.

"You are curious. You have seen the words, too. I can hear them tick inside you."
The “Doctor Who: Exterminate!” range of miniatures from “Warlord Games” have featured quite prominently on this blog and Simon has shown he clearly loves these models with the amount he has painted. I love how his Daleks and Cybermen are great examples of just how metal should be painted, but the Fisher King stands out for me for a number of reasons. Firstly, the creature itself is different and imaginative, secondly it looks evil and has a presence on the table top, and thirdly, it is a great example of painting with a limited pallet that captures the feel of the on-screen creature perfectly. The cloth pieces look old and dirty and compliment the bone-like sections of the monster really well, whilst at the same time providing just the right amount of contrast too. Great paint job.

"The Gorgon is a magical beast that resembles a bull, covered in dusky metallic scales."
I always thought a Gorgon was from Greek myth, but again I was educated in the wider world of miniatures when this gigantic brass bull smashed onto the blog and took my breath away. First of all it is a great sculpt, but painting metal can be a tricky thing, especially if you don’t want it to look boring. This is weathered to look like it has a patina of age about it and the verdigris effect is just brilliant. I find this aspect of painting quite a challenge, so this is how you pull it off with style. A formidably-posed "Bones" model with its great paint job has consistently kept this one in my mind.

No. 6 - Putrid Blightlord by "Games Workshop" - March 29th
"Each of their number has been touched by Nurgle..."
One “Games Workshop” miniature that demonstrates just how the Nottingham-based company are so clever at creating models with depth and negative space, such as the intestines looping out of the stomach, is the Putrid Blightlord. Simon has been perfecting his rotting Nurgle skin for a while now and his Chaos Host as a whole is worthy of praise as an army that looks amazing on the table top. But this particular figure, which both looks great and poses a challenge to the painter, stands out for me for a number of reasons. The skin is done well and conveys that diseased and bloated gift the plague god gives to his followers, yet on top of that Simon has picked out boils, pustules etc, as well as created areas of distressed skin that just make this thing really stick in my memory. Another example of a good "Age Of Sigmar" sculpt and a good paint job coming together to create something special.

"Ahhhh... Excuse me. Your device will do what? Triplicate the flammability?"
I included these three “Doctor Who: Exterminate!” miniatures as they sum up what a well painted model should do: they make you smile and inspire you to paint and create something as good. The paint job is relatively simple in terms of the colours used, but that shouldn’t take away from what is achieved here. Firstly, if you have seen “Doctor Who” you instantly know what this is! Secondly, it captures these slightly comical aliens perfectly, and thirdly, it makes me want to have these figures. The bright colours, the well-executed painted job, everything about this is just awesome!!

"Dr Pepper, so misunderstood."
I usually prefer miniatures over scenery, but this "Dr Pepper" vending machine is just a superb creation. Painted to be a rusted and forgotten piece of machinery on a starship for his “Barrier Peaks” project, this has everything for me. Excellent painting, a masterclass in weathering and the use of a decal that has been blended into the paint job seamlessly. A highly imaginative piece that just looks awesome.

"See the target, shoot the target is his philosophy."
I had heard of “G.I. Joe”, but that was about the limit of my knowledge of this miniatures range. So when these models first appeared on “Fantorical” it reinforced my opinion that Simon will always be able to surprise me with the figures he finds and paints. This for me was a great paintjob first and foremost. The face is just excellent and is the focal point for me, but then the other elements are so well done, such as the naval shirt, the lovely blue trousers and that superb parrot - the whole thing comes together brilliantly. Having seen this miniature for real it is even better than the blog posting! Just a great overall piece.

"Hand me down the shark repellent Bat-spray!"
Comics and super heroes were not something I was that interested in until I met Simon. But his painted miniatures for this genre, combined with his encyclopaedic knowledge on the subject when he answered my never ending questions, made me look into them more. His “Brown Bag” comic blog also got me inspired, so now I am a fan of the Batman Miniatures Game and even read the comics (I am currently catching up on “Batman Rebirth” at the moment). This posting stuck in my mind for a number of reasons. The paint job is great and captures the sixties version of the Batman character perfectly, with the bat symbol lovingly picked out and the cape well shaded showing the care that went into it. However sometimes emotions elevate things in your consciousness and the fact that this was posted as a tribute to the actor Adam West, who had sadly just passed away, made it more than just a well painted model. It became a tribute; something done and posted with feeling, and you can never underestimate the power of that.

No. 1 - Balewind Vortex by "Games Workshop" - February 2nd
"...Summoned by a wizard as a platform from which to cast powerful spells."
“Games Workshop” seem to divide opinion like no other, although I am not always sure why. The company has made significant strides in 2017 to engage with the community and I feel it has changed for the better; albeit their technically impressive kits are not always the easiest to paint. Having faced this fiendish creation while battling in the’ Mortal Realms’ I can confirm it is quite annoying when the Balewind Vortex is conjured into existence. However, it’s always a delight to look at because of how well painted it is. It’s made of several contrasting elements such as the magical vortex and the platforms made of various materials such as stone, metal and bone. All of these are done to a high standard: the vortex looks magical when you see it and the stone elements of the platform just look brilliant. Time and effort clearly went into this and it shows.

Well that concludes the top ten and the reasons behind them. Happy New Year to all the readers of “Fantorical”.

24 comments:

  1. A big thanks goes to Undercoat for spending some considerable time poring over my numerous posts of 2017 in order to come up with these choices. I see more ‘scenic’ pieces have somehow crept into another Top Ten, along with a vehicle, a genuine historical miniature, and a spell!?! Disconcertingly, there’s not a trace of “Heroclix” to be seen either; albeit the “Knight Models” Batman (Adam West) at least keeps up the pretence that I like painting super-heroes :-) In addition, September would appear to have been a highly productive month with no less than three of its number making it onto Undercoat’s list.

    These past twelve months have amazingly actually outscored my 2016 output, so all-in-all I’m rather pleased with having painted so many miniatures. I have already got a future posting planned to cover my favourite genres, but thought I’d sign off with ten other notable models which I thought might have made the grade, such as Tess-One (“Wizkids”), Sutekh The Destroyer (“Black Tree Design”, Slambo “Games Workshop”, Ballista (“Steamforged games Ltd”), Warwolf (converted “Wizkids”), Nemesis The Warlock (“Wizkids”), Sea Devils (“Warlord Games”), Zombie Gunslingers (“Wargames Foundry”), Garrek Gorebeard (“Games Workshop”) and Ronnie Salvage (“TTCombat”).

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  2. I was very honoured to be asked to do this then quickly realised what a daunting task it actually was from the sheer number of minis painted in 2017. You were a machine good sir! The actual choices became more than models or paint jobs in the end as I hope the text reveals and some were a surprise to me from my initial notes. Many of the minis you mention above were in the top ten at some point and I agonised long and hard about them. You are a master at painting zombies and I just love your Sea Devils, but in the end minis I felt sure would be there were edged out. What is certain is that your painting and productivity encourages me to paint when I am feeling hard to be motivated and I hope the output and quality in 2018 remains the same; so here's to more of the same in 2018! Right I am off to look at the Brown Bag as it appears Batman is being featured and you know I can't resist the Dark Knight! Keep it up my friend, reading this blog both inspires and cheers me up no end.

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  3. Well done. Pesonally I dislike Gloss varnish. But if you like it that trumps my opinion as they are your figures.

    Big fan of the drinks machines and the Gorgan as well. So qudos to you for a splendid year, your blog never disappoints and is always a pleasure to visit. Bravo Sir.

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    1. Thanks Clint. 'Fraid the gloss varnish is staying, as after a few minutes handling a lot of the shine dissipates and I've always liked the look from my Toy Soldier days :-)

      Hopefully this month's 'Super-hero' theme will proved just as popular as last month's "Doctor Who" one, and give you plenty to enjoy. Thanks for all your comments over the past year, and your own blog postings :-)

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  4. Definitely your Nurgle offerings have been some great viewing this year, and the game reports are always entertaining. Top stuff and keep up the good work

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    1. Cheers Roy. Much appreciated. Many more Nurgle and BatReps to come this year I hope too :-)

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  5. Firstly well done to Undercoat for going through the last twelve months and picking just 10, no small task with so many great mini's painted this year !
    Simon your productivity this year has been great, you may not have reached all the goals you set, but have continued on and never stopped you chipping away at the targets.
    Here's to a great 2018 and long may the productivity continue

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    1. Thanks very much Dave. I was very pleased to see one of your sculpts, the vending machine, make it into this Top Ten. Lots more targets to miss in 2018 I assure you ;-)

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  6. An interesting choice, and I can well imagine how hard it must have been to whittle the list down to ten. I'd have chosen differently, but then I guess so would everyone else. It's all a matter of opinion and personal choice and I'm happy to accept Undercoat's choices. One thing is for sure, you've produced some cracking paint jobs in 2017, Simon. I very much look forward to your offerings for 2018.

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    1. Cheers Bryan. I think I look forward to this annual Top Ten for the very reason you refer to, and that's everyone has their own choices, so I'm never truly sure which minis will make the grade or not...

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  7. An impressive selection. The Fisher King is definitely a standout, but I kind of like the Brass Bull. It's just a neat monster and you did the patina very well.

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    1. Many thanks Allison. The Fisher King was undoubtedly one of my favourite minis of the year, and as Undercoat states, this Top Ten could easily have been swamped with "Warlord Games" "Doctor Who" models. There should be plenty more "D&D" stuff coming over the next twelve months too...

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  8. Well done on your 2017 outputs Blaxkleric, and to Undercoat for choosing a top ten. Great stuff through the year. :)

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    1. Cheers Leon. Certainly some of Undercoat's choices caught me off-guard, but that's the fun of these Top Tens and letting someone else loose on my blog :-)

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  9. To pick just ten pieces from you output must have been a very difficlut task, but you have included many of my favourites, Shipwreck, the gorgon, the Fisher king and the soda machine!
    As for gloss varnish, I used it in the past and as you say it does matt-down with use. Those that decry it should have a mind that these are just really toys and as soon as you ut them on one of those hideaous slotta bases, imho it really dosen't matter what finish they have.

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    1. Thanks Joe. I too am very pleased with how Shipwreck, the Fisher King and the Gorgon turned out. Great point about gloss, and that extra protection is why I first went with it all those years ago. A matter of personal taste though clearly :-)

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  10. A nice selection chosen by Undercoat of a very productive year for you, Simon. I don't envy him the task of trying to decide which figures were the pinnacle of you painting skills, as there were a LOT...lol.

    May 2018 bring more if the same.

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    1. Cheers Jez. Much appreciated. Fingers crossed for 2018's minis :-)

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  11. Fantastic! Even though I was late to the party it was great to find your blog, looking forward to seeing all you will do in 2018 :)

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    1. Thanks Ivor. Hopefully a few of the older entries have piqued your interest then? Here's to a great 2018 with lots of posts :-)

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  12. a pretty good list, there were some of my faves on there - The Gorgon and the Drinks Machine being two. The trouble is there are so many to choose from as you're a very productive painter! I think as a collection it probably has to be the Nurgle Warband as I really did love the skin tones you used on the rotters as well as all those guts and pus! Look forward to 2018's offerings!

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    1. Cheers Andy. The Nurgle will be making a big return in 2018, as I know "Games Workshop" have a huge push for them in "Age Of Sigmar"; so stay tuned as I want to double my host to 2000 pts this year - if I can :-)

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  13. Very well done keep up the good work.

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    1. Thanks Phil. I certainly intend to :-)

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