Thursday, 31 December 2015

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2015 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint

2015 has been a good year for me. I started some new projects, made some new friends, and got to see some wonderfully painted figures showcased on Simon’s excellent blog. Now to top it all off, we have agreed to continue the trend we began last year with my writing the year's final post on “Fantorical” and listing my top ten favourite figures 'Blaxkleric' has painted in the last twelve months. Whilst he does the same over at my own blog.

Not as easy a task as you might first imagine, for as I delve deep into the past twelve month's posts looking at some of the smashing figures I vividly remember for inclusion, there are also numerous little gems that “pop out” at me that I’d clearly forgotten. So the first job was to pick out figures for the short list (sadly this wasn’t actually that short!), and then work my way through this in order to select the final ten. Fortunately I take December off from painting so I have had a little “down time” in which to apply my considered opinion over this.

As Simon is now fully immersed in the “Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge”; a marathon of frenzied figure painting that I would not dare go near with a barge pole (or a really big brush!) due to my somewhat relaxed (see slow) attitude to painting miniatures, I would like to start by apologising to Simon for momentarily distracting him from his painting duties for a while, and wish him and anyone else who takes up this event's call the best of luck.

Anyway enough rambling on I’m here to do a job so I’d best be getting on with it. Therefore in reverse order here is my top ten of Simon’s year…

"You mean you have a homicidal maniac on the loose?"
One of the highlights of this year was taking part in “Zomtober” where you had to paint up at least one Zombie per week for the month. “Simple” you might say, well yes, but Simon of course had to put his own spin on this too. So rather than your normal run of the mill “Zom’s” we were given “Krynoids” from the Tom Baker Doctor Who story “The Seeds of Death”. Now there aren't any official figures for these so to add a little variation into the mix Simon pulled figures from a variety of different sources, including these plastic pre-painted figures from the "Wizards of the Coast" customizable miniatures game "Dreamblade" (on the recommendation of fellow blogger Jez). Originally painted a bloody pink colour, another of Simon's now legendary re-paints ensued leaving us with this rather splendid monstrosity, and a perfect match to the source material.

"I died before. It was boring, so I stood up."
 The first of Simons excellent "Heroclix" re-paints in this Top Ten (but by no means the last), is a character I rather like, though I haven’t read many issue of his adventures myself. However this figure of Marc Spector’s alter ego has made the top ten because of the way the white of his costume has been depicted. One of the things Simon seems to excel at is taking a really simple paint-job and giving it a subtlety that belays its monotone appearance. At first glance this figure is nearly all white but it’s when you look closer you can see the delicate shading around the muscles and ripples in his cloak. Like music or a painted background in a movie, easy to miss but very difficult to get right.

"It's enough to fry your eyeballs."
Last year when I did my list of Simon's top ten of 2014, his rendition of “Roj Blake” from the seventies BBC sci/fi series “Blakes Seven” came in at number three on my list. But as I stated at the time, if Jenna had been finished it might have been a different story. Well two days into the new year she was and Simon did not disappoint on the painting either. A great level of detail has been added to this figure, especially around the collar and belt equipment, and another cracking face full of charm and character. I know a lot of effort has gone into getting the colours just right to match the source material and that level of attention to detail really shines through. Her lower position just goes to show how good the rest of the figures in this year’s chart are. However I did notice that there are still a few miniatures from this project not yet painted... More fodder for next year’s list perhaps?

No. 7 – Ben Grimm by "Wizkids" - April 13th
 "First guy to ask me ta make a speech gets a fat lip."
Well he had to be in my top ten really didn’t he? Simon is well aware what a fan I am of the orange-hued powerhouse better known as The thing. Though when I first saw this figure pop up on his blog, I have to say that I was less than impressed with the sculpting and pose of this version. However, as the work-in-progress postings went by, the figure grew on me mainly due Simon's excellent brushwork. I am particularly impressed with the way he picked out the orange flesh that is visible under his hat and on his hand. Whilst tonal quality of his overcoat and hat give a quintessential 'Film Noir' quality to the overall piece.
     
No. 6 – Adolf Hitler by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - November 20th
"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
Last year Simon posted “Jesus Of Nazareth” as one of his entries into our “face-fuzzed” themed Mo'vember challenge and completely stole the show. This year he followed Jesus up with probably the second most famous character in the world adorned with facial hair, Adolf Hitler (and it’s not often Jesus and Hitler appear in the same sentence!). Yet another smashing figure I’d never seen before, the paint work is quite superb with the shading and colour choices absolutely spot on. A great little face full of character and the tiny swastika decal applied to his armband all adds up to a belting little figure.
  
No. 5 - Federated Security by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - January 7th
"Unit Three move in."
I have a dark secret I am afraid. Black is one of my problem colours. I always have trouble painting it convincingly and so have great admiration for anyone who can get the shading and tone of such “noir nightmares” right. Annoyingly, Simon is very good at this as these predominately black-costumed chaps demonstrate perfectly. You can see it’s a fellow wearing a complete black leather suit without it having great splashes of grey all over it. The shading is subtle and realistic, and even the gloss finish (which Simon knows I’m not a fan of myself) works beautifully to his advantage with this figure. Added to this the green band around his helmet is also a work of genius, as it too looks exactly like what it’s supposed to be, “a band of clear green plastic!”. A simple figure yes, but I know I could not do it this sort of justice.
  
No. 4 - Chemo by "Wizkids" - March 22nd
"The explosion of the entity known as Chemo will have a lasting impact in Bludhaven for years to come."
Another figure where Simon's gloss finish really works well is this seventy millimetre tall version of “Chemo” from the "DC Comics" universe. The simplicity of the model belays the effort and thought that has gone into its painting and you can see what he is supposed to be... a swirling ball of toxic waste. The perfect dotted eyes in sinister red complete the sense of menace the figure pervades nicely too and makes this paint-job a vast improvement over the original.

No. 3 - Doctor Who: The Movie Doctor by "Black Tree Design" - November 15th
"You are privileged, young man, to be the first visitor to our time and space machine."
Another figure I never knew existed here at number three. Peter Cushing is one of my all-time favorite actors and his portrayal of the “good doctor” is often over looked. Simon's colour choices here are once again spot on and by not muting down the brightness of the paint work too much, along with his use of black lining around the different colour areas, he has managed to embody the whole ambience of the Sixties movie doctor to perfection.

No. 2 - Frostgrave Witch by "North Star Military Figures" - December 25th
"Contrary to popular belief, most Witches are not ugly old women..."
A late entry at number two in this year’s chart is this glorious Witch from the official line of miniatures for the game that everyone seems to be talking about. One of the highlights of this year for me has been the camaraderie I’ve shared with Simon and Jez (Carrion Crow’sBuffet) and our "Frostgrave" Mo’vember was a hoot from start to finish; even if some of us got further through our warbands than others (Simon). However this chap was well worth the wait. The paintwork is simply stunning and in my humble opinion even better and more subtle than the rulebook original! And as that one was painted by the legendary Kevin Dallimore you can see that this is praise indeed.

No. 1 - Sarah Jane Smith by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - November 17th
"You must complete your mission for the Time Lords!"
And so we come to my number one. This will probably come as no surprise to Simon as I have been positively gushing over this little lady from the first moment I saw her on his blog. As a long-time fan of classic “Doctor Who”, especially Tom Baker's era, the divine Miss Smith is firmly entrenched in my heart and this lovely figure is as perfect a rendition of “SJS” as one could wish for. Then we come to Simon’s excellent brushwork and he has certainly done her credit in this department too. His choice of colours is predictably perfect, as is the shading. But what really stands out for me is her face. It is so easy to end up making female figures look like a “chap in a wig”, but not here, she is genuinely pretty! This is a definite must purchase for me and as my hard earned cash drops into the coffers of "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" they will have Simon to thank. The only slight problem I have is will I have the nerve to paint it after seeing this one as I know I’ll be disappointed in mine!

So that’s it, my top ten of the output from the talented brush of Blaxkleric. As I said at the start of this post it was not easy picking just ten figures for this list and honourable mentions have to go to the Cyberking, Queen Victoria, Dr Abner Perry, Starbuck, Black Mist… and the list goes on. There really aren’t any losers on “Fantorical” and there isn’t a figure on display that I wouldn’t have been proud to have painted myself. Simon is a very talented chap and a really nice guy to boot.

Another of this year’s highlights was meeting him face to face at “Salute”. Something I hope we can repeat in the not too distant future as it's your turn to buy the tea if I recall correctly!. 

That just leaves me to say many, many thanks to Simon for letting me loose on his excellent blog for the day, and thank you for reading my nonsense. Normal service will soon be restored I assure you...

If you wish to read what Simon picked as his “top ten” from my years efforts (If he could find ten decent ones that is!), then please follow the link below….
I’ll finish by wishing you all a very good New Year and may your paint pots never dry up.
Cheers Roger.

24 comments:

  1. Roger, Many thanks indeed for once again spending some considerable time pouring over my past twelve months worth of postings. I'm delighted to see Ben Grimm in amongst your choices as he's the first objective marker I've painted to do so ;-)

    Although if I'd realised you'd include those "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" Federated Security in your Top Ten, rather than my gigantic CyberKing or colourful Joker, then I might have thought twice about asking you :-)

    As I've said before it's rather unsettling commenting on my own blog and this year you've helped make me realise just how much I've been concentrating on 28mm as a scale, as opposed to 2014 when I was painting miniatures from 6mm through to 154mm. Indeed I'd quite forgotten I still have some of the Liberator's Crew yet to do before I complete my "Blake's Seven" project...

    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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  2. What a cracking good post, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I have to agree with most of Roger's choices, especially his decision to place Sarah Jane first. Simon is indeed a very talented painter and a genuine nice guy. I'm proud to know him and call him a good friend.
    Happy New Year everyone!

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    1. Many thanks Bryan. Very kind of you I must say :-) I'm still not sure about an objective marker making my Top Ten... But a very Happy New Year my friend :-)

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  3. I think Roger's choices showcase your painting ability and your eclectic choice of projects, Simon. And just how many Crooked Dice figures you own...you may have to get a patch to wean you off slowly. ;-)
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading you blog over the past (almost) year and appreciate the support you've given me during this period. I do appreciate that you follow a lot of blogs and it can be hard to post comments on every post on every blog, so thank you for taking the time to comment on mine.
    Best wishes for the new year.
    Regards Jez

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    1. Cheers Jez. Your visits and comments on my blog are very much appreciated I assure you, and its always a pleasure to visit yours.

      I have no doubt that "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" will feature prominently throughout my postings of 2016, as will "Heroclix". Although I think both "Nexus Miniatures" and "Reaper Miniatures" won;t be far behind either :-)

      Happy New Year, my friend.

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    2. I think that the majority of figures in my paint queue are Heroclix, destined for a variety of different projects, including Ghost busters.
      BTW, did you see my email?

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    3. Well I'm certainly looking forward to seeing your "Heroclix" conversions and paintjobs, Jez. I've replied to your email :-)

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  4. Excellent retrospective of Blaxkleric's 2015. :)

    I especially like Moon Knight and missed that post. Kudos. :)

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    1. Thanks PulpCitizen. Delighted you found Marc Spector's posting; one of my favourite superheroes and a great "Wizkids" sculpt too imho. Thanks for all your visits and comments over the past twelve months :-)

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  5. A very happy New Year to you both!

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    1. Happy New Year Gordon. I hope one of your resolutions is to stop tempting me with all your 'new mini' postings ;-)

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  6. Wow, I'm a little late to this party I'm afraid, but many thanks for all the positive comments, glad so many of you thought I'd done a decent job with my choices, It's been a pleasure blogging with Simon this year his postings are a constant inspiration, and it's been an honour to post on his excellent blog (and get this many responses, (ah shame), When Simon came up with this idea last year (well year before now), I jumped at the chance to review his work, and it's been great doing it again, long may we continue.

    Finally many thanks to Simon for letting me loose with his "baby", Cheers mate, Roger.

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  7. Happy New Year. All great choices. I was especially taken with the Frostgrave Witch myself.

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    1. Happy New Year Finch. The "Frostgrave" Witch certainly took some time to paint... Although its currently being rivalled in testing my patience by an Incredible Hulk "Heroclix" I'm currently working on ;-)

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  8. A very thoughtful post and agree with most of the choices although there are some others that would have made my top ten. I often struggle with shading black myself and the security guard definitely shows the right way to do it....

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    1. Cheers Andy. I think the "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal (coupled with a wash of "Citadel" Nuln Oil) is a real answer to my painting black prayers.

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  9. many thanks Finch, glad you share my thoughts on the witch, Gobbo, nice to know it's not just me who struggles with black!

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Many thanks once again for doing this review Roger - definitely looking forward to next year's already. Still grumpy about no CyberKing and the Joker though ;-)

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  10. Roger did a fine job. I really like his choices too.

    Here's to seeing you stick up some more cool and inspiring stuff in 2016 mate!

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    1. Cheers Dai. I'm delighted you liked Roger's choices and my fingers are crossed there's plenty of postings that you'll enjoy during the next twelve months.

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    2. Thank you very much Dai. It's a tough job but someones got to do it (ha ha).

      Cheers Roger.

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    3. I'm certainly hoping to give you plenty to choose from in 2016 ;-)

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  11. Great selection there Roger. Its been great seeing the work you've produced this year Simon. Looking forward to 2016's offerings.

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    1. Many thanks Simon, and I assure you I feel exactly the same way about your own blog's postings :-)

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