Monday, 31 December 2018

Top Ten Miniatures Of 2018 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint

Well the year is nearly at an end and so it’s that time again, when both Simon and myself hand over the reins of our respective blogs to each other. This means that I get at least one piece of quality writing (actually it’s two this year) on my blog, and Simon gets to moan at me for picking the wrong figures from his prestigious output for the year. However to quote Eric Morecombe - “I’m picking all the right figures, but not necessarily in the right order!”. Anyway this is always a joy to do, even if Simon has it much easier than me as he doesn’t have anywhere near as many posts to sort through over on my blog!

Right, well, before I get into the list, I’ll just clarify a few of the ground rules, figures are only eligible for the list if they were completed in 2018, no “works in progress” allowed, and vehicles or pieces of scenery can also count for list entries, So now that’s sorted on with the Top Ten itself…

One of the great things about Simon’s blog is that you really don’t know what you are going to get, and this amazing find from the “Wizkids” “HorrorClix” figure range is a great example of that. Re-painted to represent the “Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog” of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” fame, this wonderfully horrific looking “lupus” was as wonderful as it was terrifying!

Another “Wizids” figure at number nine, this time from their “Dungeons and Dragons miniatures game”. This wonderfully weird creature was given a remarkably simple paint-job by Simon, yet that doesn’t detract from the gruesomely great result. It instantly reminded me of “The Mire Beast” from the classic “Doctor Who” Dalek story “The Chase”, and became one of those “I’ll get one of those myself one day figures”. Sadly however, that day has not yet arrived, but if anyone has one going spare?

No. 8 - Arnulf by "Games Workshop" - May 18th
Though I make it no secret that I am neither a "Games Workshop" fanboy, nor someone who will be dipping their toe into the expensive “Age of Sigmar” pool, I have to admit that they do produce some truly awesome miniatures now and again. Arnulf and the rest of the miniatures Simon painted up from “Garrek’s Reavers” were all pretty awe inspiring, and would make a great band of Barbarians for pretty much any game, especially as a fantastic bunch of "Frostgrave" mercenaries. Ultimately though I chose Arnulf as my favourite as the painting of his flesh is just so right, along with his well suited metallic coloured weapons and helmet. A cracking figure!

No. 7 - Orange Adder Combat Lifter by "The Ion Age" - October 12th
All the 15mm “Ion Age” figures and vehicles Simon has produced over the last year are worthy of inclusion here so it was after much “to’ing & fro’ing” that I finally decided upon this particular model. I think what swung it for me in the end was the wonderful “Crimson Fists” Space Marine chapter inspired colour scheme. Painted to the usual high standard this is going to look mighty impressive on the battlefield.

No. 6 - The Master by "Warlord Games" - July 25th
I have said it before, Simon excels at painting black! He’s also pretty good at painting “Doctor Who” characters too. So this 32mm version of Roger Delgado’s version of the classic villain was always going to be in the running for this years “Top Ten”. As always the colour match is absolutely spot on with even the grey at the actor’s temples exemplary, and the painting itself seamlessly accurate. Painting black is hard (well it is for me anyway), but Simon makes it look easy, and that’s the real skill.

No. 5 - Hybrid by "Wizkids" - January 30th
Simon’s almost encyclopedic knowledge of super-heroes and super-villains stands him in good stead on many occasions, allowing him to pick up and enhance many an obscure character from “comic book history”. “Jimmy Marks” meant nothing to me until he appeared on "Fantorical" as Hybrid, but fortunately Simon accompanied the excellent paintwork he’d applied to the figure with a great little bit of background too. These little insights are always a pleasure to read and go to prove that he really knows his stuff. What struck me most though was what a great job he’d done on the figure!

No. 4 - Astronaut Action Man by "Ground Zero Games" – December 17th
15mm figures is something I have stayed right away from this year, whilst Simon on the other hand has produced some beautiful “little fellows” with the wonderful “Ion Age” figures very nearly making it onto this list themselves. It was however when he started showcasing these stunning Astronaut figures as part of his “Race to the Moon” Action Man project that he really outdid himself, with some top notch painting on both the figures and vehicles. I even warmed to his idea of basing them on “green flocked” bases once I’d seen them.

No. 3 - Mei-Lin Mayfair by "Statuesque Miniatures" - August 31st
Okay, so I’ve established that Simon can do black, but he is equally at home with white! This gorgeous figure by "Statuesque Miniatures" has been given this treatment to perfection. He intends to use her as a stand in for Major Mira Killian from “Ghost in the Shell” and should look mighty impressive on the table, especially surrounded by the rest of his “Killer Fembots”. Many of Simon's miniatures are deceptively monochrome, but this is not to say that the paintwork is basic or simple, layer after layer is built up producing a well-rounded finish, it’s just like good movie music, when it works you don’t realise it’s there!

No. 2 - Mandrels by "Black Tree Design" December 28th
Simon has painted a lot of "Doctor Who" miniatures this year (and I do mean a lot!), taking figures from both “Black Tree Design” and “Warlord Games” ranges. To be honest, the 32mm offerings from “Warlord Games” are the better representations, but I do have a soft spot for the 28mm figures “Black Tree” produce. As a result I was having a tough time deciding between “Kettlewells Robot” or one of the excellent “Sontarans” to add to this list when just before the deadline up popped these marvellous alien beasties from one of the all-time great stories “The Nightmare of Eden”. The colours are, as always, perfectly true to the originals, the details are spot-on, and the shading is absolutely first rate. Some of the best figures Simon has produced in my opinion.

No. 1 - Garrp Croaak by "Oathsworn Miniatures" - June 18th
So I hear you ask if they were so good, what has made it to the top of Simon's painting tree this year? Well the funny thing is each time I have done one of these “Top Ten’s” I wrangle and debate about what is going to be in it and what position they will take. Yet every year I know what will be number one as soon as I begin looking back through Simon's posts (if not sooner). This year was no different as the second I saw this 'so ugly he’s cute' little toad mage I knew he would top this year’s pile. In fact all of the figures Simon has painted from this range could have been in this list but I’ve tried to limit myself. The painting and colours are subtle and perfect, and his trademark gloss finish works so well with this chap, I could go on and wax lyrical regarding the subtle shading on his throat and the perfect colour used on his “bone staff”, but the truth is I just love everything about him. Just a truly great miniature, and that’s why he’s number one in my book.

So that’s it for another year, the votes are in (well mine are anyway and they are the only ones that count!). You may not agree with all (or any) of my choices but these are my personal favourites. Obviously, you will have your own (they are wrong, but what can you do!). As always I’ll finish by saying a huge thank you to Simon for letting me play “fast and loose” with his baby, and I will now give control back into the hands it is safest with. Here’s to another great year's painting and modelling on the pages of “Fantorical” in 2019.

A very happy New Year to you all, Cheers Roger.

And don't forget to check out Blax The Kleric's Top Ten of 2018 over on "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table"

Friday, 28 December 2018

"Oh, My Fingers, My Arms, My legs!"

"Ah! My everything! Argh!"
These four 28mm "humanoid creatures native to the planet Eden" are produced by “Black Tree Design" and can be purchased from their "Doctor Who" range as code DW427 - Mandrel, and DW432 - Mandrel Attacking. "Dangerous predators" who were "able to easily kill a human", the "absurdly tough" monsters "decomposed down into a pile of lumpy white powder, the dangerous, addictive drug vraxoin, after being electrocuted" and made their BBC Television debut in the November 1979 story "Nightmare Of Eden".

The figures were originally primed using a double layer of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, and very heavily dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Red. However, despite this simple technique bringing out some of their sculpts' scaly detail I didn't feel it resulted in the deep blackish red shown in photographs of the programme's costumes, so I soon returned to the quartet and just painted them "Vallejo" Heavy Red".
"You must help them get the Mandrels back into the projection."
The models were then thoroughly washed using "Citadel" Nuln Oil and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red. I tidied up the aliens' furry feet, hands and heads with a touch of "Vallejo" Black, before 'picking out' their enormous claws using a combination of "Vallejo" Dead White and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade.

As a final step I painted in the Mandrels' large oval "glowing" eyes with "Vallejo" Heavy Khaki and later soaked them with "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green. I also dry-brushed their face's fan-like mouth with "Vallejo" Heavy Green and subsequently treated these dangling fronds to some (more) "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green. Lastly, these areas were once again dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Green and then washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
"Resident Evil 2: The Board Game" - Leon and Claire race back to Raccoon City's Police Department
With this furry foursome finished I have found some time to start playing my recently arrived "Resident Evil 2: The Board Game" by "Steamforged Games Limited". This "Kickstarter" proved tremendously popular in 2017, generating a whopping £800,561 in pledges during its 28 day funding period. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to nab an Early Bird Survivor Pledge and resultantly have been learning the rules playing its Scenario 1A Brief - Getting To The Police Department.

First impressions are good, albeit the quality of the tiny sculpts and very dark tiles are not what I was expecting from the manufacturer behind "Guild Ball". I don't therefore plan on painting the figures anytime soon, if at all, but having successfully made it off the unsafe streets of Raccoon City, I can definitely see myself traversing deeper into the Scenario Book; especially as I couldn't resist buying the "co-operative survival horror" game's Giant Alligator Expansion...

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

"Quarks, Destroy Them!"

"Quarks. Destroy the alien vessel."
This 39mm-tall metal miniature of Probationer Toba is sold by “Warlord Games” and can be bought as part of their "The Dominators" five-figure boxed set. Determined to refuel his spaceship, the cold-blooded killer mercilessly rounded up "slave workers from the planet’s pacifist inhabitants" so he could fire "rockets into the molten core of Dulkis", and made his television debut in the August 1968 BBC story "The Dominators".

Initially undercoated with "Vallejo" Iraqi Sand, Navigator Rago's second-in-command had his frilly costume painted in Black Green and washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil. The area was then dry-brushed using some (lighter) "Vallejo" Heavy Green before being treated to a second splash of "Citadel" Nuln Oil. The alien invader's bulky armour was subsequently shaded using "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade.
"You cannot stop us. No-one can."
With the first of my two Dominators completed, I was also able to successfully paint one of the Nottingham-based company's 40mm tall metal Cybermen miniatures from their "Nightmares In Silver" Cybermen Collector's Set 1966-2013. Sculpted to replicate the Doctor's old enemies during Derrick Sherwin's 1968 serial "The Invasion", this 'Planet 14' version of the silver giants has since been submitted to the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge (AHPC), and brought me five points closer to my five hundred point target tally.

This particular piece was actually a much appreciated gift from "Warlord Games" during my most recent visit to their Headquarters in Lenton Business Centre, and was originally primed with "Vallejo" Black, before receiving two layers of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and a wash of Nuln Oil. Tobias Vaughn's emotionless ally was later dry-brushed with (more) Ironbreaker, and had its eyes, mouth and central chest unit panels 'picked out' with a mixture of "Vallejo" Black and a generous dollop or two of some OOP "Citadel" Badab Black.
"The Time Warrior" WIPs - Linx the Sontaran and the robber baron, Irongron
Sticking with the AHPC I have additionally started work on the "Doctor Who: Into The Time Vortex" miniature of Commander Linx. This classic looking Sontaran warrior "was forced to make an emergency landing on Earth while on reconnaissance when his ship was attacked by a squadron of Rutan fighters" and will therefore be entered into the competition for its first Fortnightly Themed Event ('Reconnaissance') before next weekend's submission deadline.

As "The Time Warrior" boxed set also comes with a model of Irongron, "a robber baron and leader of a local bandit gang", I thought I might as well also try and paint the Wessex castle-owner too. On the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" tabletop the unique Human Warrior is actually able to "join any faction... as a friendly character... during the game" due to his Agent special trait, so in the future I hope to field him alongside Jingo Linx and a Sontaran Patrol...

Monday, 24 December 2018

"Attention! Group Marshal Stike Of The Ninth Sontaran Attack Group."

"Stand at ease."
This 28mm metal Sontaran model is produced by “Black Tree Design" and can be purchased from their "Doctor Who" range as code DW613 - Stike the Sontaran. Determined to defeat the Rutans in the "endless Sontaran-Rutan War", the Group Marshal worked with the mad scientist Dastari on Earth in order to build a crude prototype space-time vessel for the Ninth Sontaran Battle Group to use, and made his BBC Television debut during the February 1985 story "The Two Doctors".

The miniature was originally primed using two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, and then mercilessly dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal before being thoroughly drenched in "Citadel" Nuln Oil. "The long-suffering Stike" subsequently had his knee-pads, belt and neck armour base-coated with "Vallejo" Gunmetal Grey and shaded with (more) "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
"The Nox are... elite troops who are taken from the best of the ordinary legionaries."
However, the resultant dull metallic colour was far darker than I imagined, or had achieved when using the technique upon Field Major Styre, even after I dry-brushed the areas with some additional "Vallejo" Gunmetal Grey. I therefore replaced the acrylic Model Colour paint with "Citadel" Ironbreaker, and following an application of Nuln Oil and dry-brush, attained a signifcantly lighter outcome.

Equally as problematic was the Sontaran's disconcerting hold of his infamous rheon carbine. The firearm itself was 'picked out' simply enough using some "Vallejo" Black and a combination of "White" with a splash of Pale Grey. Sadly though, the sculpt's fingers seemingly turned the clone warrior's fingers into tentacles, which curled around the hand-weapon to an astounding degree. Initially, I just painted the half of the fingers with my usual Sontaran flesh mixture of "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, leaving the rest "Vallejo" Black. But in the end I felt this didn't look quite right either, so later returned to Stike and pigmented the rest of his hand in as sculpted...
Chewbacca WIPs - The Wookie has been dry-brushed repeatedly and now just needs show shading
Sticking with freshly-finished partially-painted science fiction figures, albeit in 15mm scale this time, I have also completed three more Nox from the "The Ion Age" Code AIAF001. These heavily-armoured soldiers of the Shia Khan Empire have been painted in precisely the same manner as the trio pigmented last month, and means I'm now half-way through the six bases of miniatures I want to deploy against my Prydian Army on the tabletop.

Lastly, I have sought inspiration from Dave Stone's currently "Star Wars" obsessed blog "The Game Cupboard" to help motivate me enough to try and finish an old Chewbacca model I've had sitting around since the wookie's ally pack was first released by "Fantasy Flight Games". Rather embarrassingly I did actually manage to prime, shade and dry-brush the detailed hard plastic model a little under three years ago, but haven't made any significant progress on him since...

Saturday, 22 December 2018

"Bad-tempered And Aggressive..."

"...Wild boars are also very tasty and thus much sought-after in the Frozen City."
This 28mm scale model of a Boar is manufactured by “North Star Military Figures” and can be bought together with three Giant Rats as code FGV309 from their “Frostgrave" Range. The miniature has been based so as to fit in with the rest of my collection of figures for Joseph A. McCullough's fantasy wargame in the Frozen City, but, having been recently inspired to purchase "Palaeo Diet: Eat Of Be Eaten" by "Ganesha Games" thanks to Joe's wonderful coverage of the game on his superb blog "Zabadak's ZombieWorld", I'm currently eyeing the wild swine as a possible start to a menagerie of giant grazers for that "stand-alone set of gaming rules for recreating prehistoric animal hunts" as well.

To begin with I undercoated the wide-ranging mammal with two layers of “Vallejo” Heavy Brown and heavily washed the beast with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. I then dry-brushed the boar's well-sculpted hide with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Brown, before 'picking out' its ridge of shaggy fur, eyes, mouth and hooves in Black. I also applied a light dry-brush of "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal to the model's ridged back.
"The Invasion" Cyberman WIPs - The silver giant has been primed, washed and dry-brushed for the AHPC
In order to help blend the black and brown elements of the figure together I carefully dry-brushed some additional "Vallejo" Black up the animal's legs, and then washed all these areas with some "Citadel" Nuln Oil. Lastly, I dry-brushed some additional "Vallejo" Heavy Brown around the top of the hooves, before gluing a double helping of "Citadel" Snow around the plastic 40mm circular base.

With another of my long-forgotten, partially-painted models finished, I have turned the vast majority of my attention to my contributions for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge (AHPC). As in previous years I will be attempting to attain a target score of 500 points during the next three months, with the vast majority of my entrants being 28mm scale models (scoring a humble 5 points apiece).
Yewan Grove The Treeman and Grove's Shrubs WIPs - The Treefolk have been dry-brushed 
Resultantly, I wanted to get at least some points on the board straight away, so have started work on a lone Cyberman from the 1968 "Doctor Who" eight-episode long adventure entitled "The Invasion". This particular piece was a much appreciated gift from "Warlord Games" during my most recent visit to their Nottingham-based Headquarters, and once finished will give me enough of Tobias Vaughn's emotionless allies to use the 'Cybermen & Cybermats' Recruitment card in "Doctor Who: Exterminate!"

Admittedly, I'm never going to successfully attain my AHPC target tally by simply painting one-off models, so have also begun shading and dry-brushing five of the treefolk from the "Toon Realms" range by "Lucid Eye Publications". These 'Ents' will be the start of a 'Lord Of The Toons' project I have in mind, and are packed full on wonderful tiny details such as grass-beards and tiny toadstools growing across their back's bark.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

"A Proper Soldier Gives No Warning. Fire. I Order You. Fire."

"Death has more honour, but you are needed for the stratagem."
This two 32mm scale metal miniatures of Sontarans are produced by “Warlord Games” and can be bought as part of their "Sontaran Squad" five-figure boxed set. "Hailing from the planet Sontar" and "literally bred for war", these redesigned blue-armoured clones made their first appearance in the April 2008 BBC television story "The Sontaran Stratagem".

Originally undercoated "Vallejo" Black, both of the "military-minded villains" had their battle armour, belt and helmet pigmented using a layer of Gunmetal Blue before being washed in "Citadel" Nuln Oil. These areas were subsequently dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Gunmetal Blue just long enough for the metallic Model Colour paint to provide each figure's ridges with a discernible silver shine.
"The Dominators" WIPs - Roga and Toba have had all their dark green armour painted and shaded
"Small in stature, with large heads and stocky bodies", the formidable foes' space suits were painted using "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey and then treated to a watered-down shade of "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade. Finally the pair's rather large laser rifles were painted using "Vallejo" Black and dry-brushed using Heavy Charcoal.

Sticking with previously 'put down' projects, I have also dusted down the two larger models from "The Dominators" themed box I bought at "Salute" 2018. I have previously successfully painted one of the ruthless tyrants robotic quarks in the past, but then seemingly faltered whilst trying to decide upon what colour to paint Probationer Toba's frilly-looking costume.
"The Tomb Of The Cybermen" WIPs - The four silver giants, including their Cyber Leader have been primed
In the end I decided to go with the Nottingham-based company's official dark green palette rather than the pure black I'd initially intended, and subsequently been busy testing out a couple of different "Vallejo" model colours on Navigator Rago's bloodthirsty companion. Having settled upon my mix I've applied the selfsame combination to both Dominator figures, as well as started work on their heavy armour, and now hope to have the pair finally finished reasonably soon...

In between working on these pieces, I have managed to additionally base and prime four of the five "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" miniatures found within "The Tomb Of The Cybermen" boxed set for the imminent Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. These Telos-based cyborgs will form part of my 'Water Feature' entry for the Fortnightly Themed Bonus Round in mid-February, when I hope to submit a host of the silver giants along with their 'melting' Tomb Collectors Diorama.

Monday, 17 December 2018

"Action Man - The Name Hid The Identity Of The West's Top Intelligence Agent."

"That was Action Man's job - Security - That was why he was here."
This pair of 15mm scale two-piece metal astronauts are produced by "Ground Zero Games" and can be bought as Code MG15-USLF02 US Marine Corps Extra-Planetary Expeditionary Force Luna, Rifles Pack B. Part of the manufacturer's "Moongrunt" range, each set comes with six figures "as two each of three poses", and depicts the space-faring cosmonauts wearing M31 Protected Pressure Suits (PPS) with separate backpacks.

As with my previously painted US Lunar Force's figures, I applied a double undercoat of "Vallejo" Dead White over the miniatures and then heavily washed the duo with "Vallejo" Pale Grey, before dry-brushing them with (more) Dead White. I 'picked out' the astronauts' space-visors using a combination of "Vallejo" Gold and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, whilst their M225 Laser rifle/low-velocity grenade launcher combo (optimised for low-gravity vacuum use) weapons were treated to a coat of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and a subsequent double-shading of Nuln Oil.
"Black Tree Design" WIPs - Another Mandrel, the Ancient One and the Ice Lord Izlyr
In general I plan to base the vast majority of my "Moongrunt" infantry models as groups of three upon a medium-sized "Flames Of War" rectangular stand made by "Battlefront Miniatures". However, as I wanted this 'command stand' to represent Action Man during his "Race For The Moon" adventure, as published by "Purnell" in the Late Sixties, I decided to simply super-glue the secret operative to a small-sized base instead, and have the "movable fighting man" accompanied by a single companion.

Needless to say I have also found the time to continue rummaging around my collection of long-forgotten "Black Tree Design" figures, and found some more partially-painted "Doctor Who" miniatures to finally finish. Foremost of these was a fourth Mandrel model, which I have immediately started block-layering so as to quickly bring it's paint-job up to where I currently am with three more of the 'Fourth Doctor Era' monsters.
"Lord Of The Rings" WIPs - The mounted versions of The Shadow Lord and The Dark Marshal
But in addition, alongside a couple of plastic bags full of untouched vampiric Haemovores, I have also found their leader, The Ancient One, as well as an old sculpt of the Ice Lord Izlyer; which is probably meant to be Izlyr from Jon Pertwee's 1972 adventure "The Curse of Peladon". Both of these figures will need to have their early partial-paint-jobs redone, yet once completed should subsequently encourage me to a paint a plethora of their minions as an entourage during the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

Finally, I have made a brief return to prepping and priming some more of my metal "Lord Of The Rings" models by "Games Workshop" for the aforementioned AHPC. Due to previously discovering I already own the foot versions of The Dark Marshal and The Shadow Lord, I have been busy scouring numerous boxes and plastic pots for their mounted versions. This labour of love recently finally paid off, so both Nazgul horsemen have been assembled, had their bent swords somewhat straightened, and been based too... 

Saturday, 15 December 2018

"The Daemonic Hordes Of Khorne Are Largely Made Up Of Ferocious Bloodletters."

"These Lesser Daemons are deadly warriors believed to have been foremost amongst the Blood God's followers..."
These ten plastic 6mm scale Bloodletters used to be produced by "Games Workshop" for their tabletop wargame "Epic", and disappointingly are now long Out Of Production (OOP). However I was fortunate enough to stumle across a small tub of these lesser daemons of Khorne from a second-hand stall whilst visiting "Colours" at Newbury earlier this year, and now hope to paint enough figures up to at least give me a horde of some eight or so stands to probably use with some homemade rules.

The tiny figures were initially all super-glued onto a thin strip of wood, and primed using two coats of "Vallejo" Heavy Red. They were then washed using "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red. I subsequently 'picked out' their loincloths and horns with some Black and applied a layer of Heavy Sienna to their Hellblades. Lastly, I pigmented their hand-weapons using a combination of "Vallejo" Brass and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, finished the blades off with a delicate dry-brush of more "Vallejo" Brass, and assembled them in groups of five figures upon two separate small "Flames Of War" rectangular stands by "Battlefront Miniatures".
"Black Tree Design" WIPs - A Mandrel, Fourth Doctor companion Harry Sullivan and a Sontaran
I have actually started work priming even more of these tiny Lesser Daemons, but have stopped with their undercoats in order for them to be eligible for entry in the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge; which now starts in less than a week's time. Instead, I have managed to continue work on several partially-painted "Black Tree Design" 28mm miniatures from their "Doctor Who" range.

Foremost of these figures has been three Mandrel sculpts which I have actually re-painted (again) following my dislike as to how their scaly skin turned out when I had simply dry-brushed "Vallejo" Heavy Red over a layer of "Citadel" Abaddon Black. Having now thoroughly pigmented their torso, arms and legs with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red I now plan to better capture their palette as seen during the 1979 "Doctor Who" TV adventure "The Nightmare Of Eden", through some significant shading using "Citadel" Nuln Oil and perhaps some Purple and/or Green inks...
"Crooked Dice Game Design" WIPs - James Bond, a Lizard Nazi Soldier and a Brown Shirt
In addition, I thought it was high time I finally finished off one of my favourite travelling companions Harry Sullivan, as well as another of the classic "belligerent and militaristic clones from the planet Sontar." I still have a few of these bulbous-headed warriors left over from a previous order with the Texas-based company. But could well be tempted in the New Year to put in an order with "Black Tree Design" so as to build up a far more formidably-sized force for the tabletop.

Lastly, whilst scrambling around looking for some more "Crooked Dice Game Design"  minatures I could paint during the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I discovered a drawer full of half-finished figures from the manufacturer's "Danger Five" range. As a result I have started work building up some layers of flesh, shirt and leather on one of their secret agents, a lizard Nazi soldier and a facist brown-shirted trooper in readiness for making a welcome return to the "7TV" rule-set soon.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

"And Like A Good Warrior, I Shall Enter The Fray Myself."

"I would rate you above average, soldier. Well done."
This 30mm-tall metal miniature of a Sontaran is sold by “Warlord Games” and can be bought as part of their "Sontaran General Staal" three-figure boxed set. Dedicated to waging "an eternal war throughout Mutter's Spiral against the Rutan Host" this particular incarnation of the clone race made their first appearance in Helen Raynor's April 2008 BBC television story "The Sontaran Stratagem".

Initially undercoated with "Vallejo" Black, the war-mad extra-terrestrial's battle armour, belt and helmet were treated to a layer of Gunmetal Blue before being shaded using some "Citadel" Nuln Oil. These areas were then dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Gunmetal Blue so as to try and bring out all the sculpt's marvellous detail, and provide the armour's edges with a noticeable metallic shine.
Dalek And Sontaran WIPs - The miniatures are both half-finished
The Sontaran's space suit was painted using "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey and subsequently treated to a watered-down wash of "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade. Finally the aliens's somewhat cumbersome-looking laser rifle was pigmented in "Vallejo" Black and dry-brushed using Heavy Charcoal.

This warrior is actually one of the two models I need so as to field a Sontaran Bodyguards Recruitment card for my "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" Sontaran faction. However, as I also aim to deploy a three-figure strong Sontaran Patrol too, I have made some considerable progress on one of the miniatures which comes in the "Doctor Who: Into The Time Vortex" Sontaran Squad boxed set as well.
"Doctor Who: Exterminate!" WIPs - Jackie Tyler, Romana and Leela
In addition, I recently experienced something of an accident with another of my plastic 'push-fit' Daleks, so have ended up turning the somewhat 'battle-damaged' Kaled drone into an objective/scenic base. As I've composed a similar-looking defunct Dalek in the past, I have decided to add some oozing green mutant goo to the Mark III Travel Machine, courtesy of some grey-stuff...

Lastly, I have been busy basing and priming a number of the Doctor's companions in preparation for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. The last of this event's Fortnightly Themed Bonus Rounds in March 2019 is 'Fellowship', so I was potentially planning on slowly building up an ensemble of the Gallifreyan's fellow female time travellers to use as my final entry. Resultantly, I've set aside Romanadvoratrelundar, Leela and Jackie Tyler...

Monday, 10 December 2018

"It's A Yeti!"

"It must have been left over from the Games."
This 28mm metal model of a Yeti is produced by “Black Tree Design" and can be bought from their "Doctor Who" range as code DW209 Yeti Attacking. "Cuddly but ferocious", this cryptozoological creature was actually a robot controlled by the Great Intelligence, and was created by Henry Lincoln and Mervyn Haisman for the September 1967 television six-part serial "The Abominable Snowmen".

Having previously painted a veritable horde of these figures in the past using both "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and Heavy Brown I decided to use Heavy Bluegrey as the base colour for this particular Yeti, so as to be able to use him as a 'leader' on the tabletop should ever the case arise. The miniature was then heavily washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey.
Mandrel WIPs - The three extra-terrestrials have been primed and dry-brushed 
I picked out the furry automaton's eyes with “Vallejo" Heavy Ochre, and his formidable-looking sharp claws with Dead White. Both of these areas were subsequently washed with “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade, before I highlighted its eyes with an additional spot of “Vallejo” Heavy Ochre. The recurring foe's hands and feet were simply pigmented using "Vallejo" Black.

Sticking with both "Black Tree Design" models and my partially-painted "Doctor Who" ones, I have 'dusted down' three Mandrel's from Tom Baker's tenure as the travelling Time Lord. I actually own a few more of these "humanoid creatures native to the planet Eden", but plan to use this initial trio to work out a straightforward palette for their red scales, dark fur and large, glowing green eyes.
X-Commandos WIPs - The four soldiers have been assesembled and under-coated
With the start of the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge now less than a fortnight away, I have momentarily turned my attention away from preparing my embarrassingly high number of 'long-forgotten' "Lord Of The Rings" models in favour of some of the many "Crooked Dice Game Design" miniatures I own. These days the company peddle their X-Commando sculpts as part of Department X's forces (for the rule-set "7TV"), but in my mind they make marvellous proxies for the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce soldiers which so bravely fought off the Sontaran invasion of Earth in 2008.

I'm actually hoping to make a welcome return to Spy-Fi gaming in the New Year, alongside some "Post Apocalyptic Wargaming in the World of Cult TV" courtesy of the recent "Crooked Dice Game Design" Kickstarter "Apocalypse", so have already started rooting through my drawers looking for any additional X-Commando miniatures I own. In addition, don't be at all surprised to see a few of the manufacturer's now long Out Of Production (OOP) figures, such as Melody, William, Daisy and May, alongside some other Temporal Travellers and Plucky Assistants...

Saturday, 8 December 2018

"Introducing The World's Greatest Assassin."

"You really think a 'Hit-Monkey' is out to get you?"
This 17mm tall plastic “Wizkids” model of Hit-Monkey is miniature number 020 from the "Heroclix" Deadpool and X-Force Marvel range, and depicts the Japanese macaque after the snow monkey has "dedicated his life to killing assassins" following his clan's slaughter. An expert marksman and martial artist, the primate was created by Daniel Way and artist Dalibor Talijic, and made his first appearance in the April 2010 issue of "Deadpool".

Chopped from his 'clicky-base' the figure was super-glued on to a 25mm circular base and given a double-helping of "Vallejo" Black so as to 'annihilate' its pre-paint job. Hit-Monkey was then heavily dry-brushed using some "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and thoroughly washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil. The assassin's firearms were 'picked out' using a combination of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and (more) Nuln Oil.
"Toon Realms" WIPs - Nesh The Barbarian, Rankle The Dwarf and Rookie The Elf
I've seen the comic book character's flesh inked/coloured in a variety of pinks and reds, so in the end decided to pigment his face using a dab of "Vallejo" Heavy Red with a spot of "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson. The Howling Commando of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s fur was initially treated to a layer of "Vallejo" Dead White, shaded "Citadel" Nuln Oil, and finally dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Dead White.

Moving on from previously partially-painted anti-heroes, I have also managed to prepare a few more "Toon Realms" miniatures for the fast-approaching Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. Produced by "Lucid Eye Publications" I intend to use Rankle The Dwarf, Rookie The Elf and Nesh The Barbarian as the start of my very own "Lord Of The Toons" fellowship, as I think the cartoonish sculpts will make fun alternatives on my tabletop for the likes of Gimli, Legolas and Boromir.
"Lord Of The Rings" WIPs - Three more primed Ringwraiths
Needless to say, my ultimate aim is to actually be able to field armies of Treefolk, Elves, Ghosts, Men, Halflings, Skeletons, Fish-Men, Dragons, Spiders and Seabirds(?) in an attempt to re-imagine some of "The Lord Of The Rings" larger battles. But whilst I wait to see what rule-set Rick Priestley comes up with for the "good versus evil" range, I may well give something like Daniel Mersey's "Dragon Rampant" Fantasy Wargames Rules by "Osprey Publishing" a go first...

Lastly, and sticking with J. R. R. Tolkien's literary masterpiece, I have primed three more metal Ringwraiths from the official "Games Workshop" range. I actually only bought this trio of Nazgul off of Ebay last month as I'm eager to get my first eight 28mm scale figures finished by the end of the AHPC's opening weekend, and felt the predominantly black-coloured Fallen Kings would make the perfect subject matters for a mad burst of productivity.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

"I Am General Staal Of The Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet."

"Remember your status boy. We do not take orders from humans."
This 30mm-tall metal miniature of Staal the Undefeated is produced by “Warlord Games” and can be bought as part of their "Sontaran General Staal" three-figure boxed set. "Commander of the Tenth Sontaran Battle fleet" during its invasion of Earth in 2009, "Staal forged an alliance with Luke Rattigan to aid the Sontaran conquest" of the planet and made his first appearance in Helen Raynor's April 2008 BBC television story "The Sontaran Stratagem".

Originally primed using two layers of "Vallejo" Black, the alien clone's "distinctive battle armour" and dome-shaped helmet were painted using a combination of Gunmetal Blue and "Citadel" Nuln Oil, before being dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Gunmetal Blue. I then pigmented his space suit with "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey and subsequently treated it to a watered-down wash of "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade.
Sontaran WIPs - The clone soldiers need their space suits to be painted using "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey
Staal's swagger stick, having been repeatedly 'caught' whilst the surrounding area was dry-brushed, was simply repainted "Vallejo" Black, and later had the cane's ends 'picked out' with some "Citadel" Ironbreaker and a splash of Nuln Oil. Finally, the Sontaran's large, bulbous head received a layer of "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone and was shaded using "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade.

With my Sontaran "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" faction's officer complete, I have begun painting four more of the laser rifle carrying militaristic extra-terrestrials in earnest. Disconcertingly however, I am once again finding "Vallejo" Gunmetal Blue to be a somewhat inconsistent paint, which one moment produces a wonderfully metallic electric blue layer, and then in the next a disappointing blackish oily blue instead. Resultantly, my latest batch of Sontarans don't seem to have as strong a shine to their battle armour.
Cybermen WIPs - Two silver giants from "Tomb Of The Cybermen" and one from "The Invasion"
Moving on from my previously painted miniatures, I have finished basing and priming a few more "Doctor Who: Into The Time Vortex" Cybermen in preparation for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. One such model I have been particularly pleased to discover within my collection, and ordinarily only available as part of "Warlord Games" superb Nightmares In Silver: Cybermen Collectors set, is one of the Nottingham-based company's "The Invasion" cyborgs, which are famous for accompanying Tobias Vaughn in his failed conquest of the world from their base deep inside the London sewer system.

In addition, I have finally managed to strip the cellophane off of my "Tomb Of The Cybermen" collector's set and begun basing up its contents as well. Once these silver giants are finished I may well purchase a second box of the figures, so as to provide me with the option of fielding either a second four-figure strong Tomb Cyber-Patrol Recruitment card, or a three-model Tomb Cyber-Patrol which generates an extra Fate Token for the faction at the start of a "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" game. 

Monday, 3 December 2018

(Lead) Mountain Musings - "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" December 2018

General Staal WIPs - The Sontaran Commander will be accompanied by two clone soldiers
Presumably just like eighty-three other participants I am currently busily prepping and priming a multitude of miniatures in order to have them ready for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge (AHPC) which starts towards the end of this month. However, last year I actually decided not to enter Curt Campbell's three-month long event so as to instead predominantly focus upon simply reducing the minor mountain of models which I had previously dabbled with, yet failed to finish.

This time round I actually aim to have a go at both, and for starters try to wade through one of my hobby drawers disconcertingly packed with half-completed "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" figures produced by "Warlord Games". Rather embarrassingly I have been pottering around with General Staal and a sizeable Sontaran faction since "the Undefeated" was first released as a boxed set in May 2018, so the first 'goal post' for my Partially-Painted Pledge is to finish the commander of the Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet along with a handful of his armour-clad troopers I've started pigmenting in the past.
"The Time Warrior" WIPs - Commander Linx and Irongron has been based and primed 
Alongside these "militaristic clones from the planet Sontar" I have also pulled out my somewhat ploddingly progressed Draconian faction, and a similarly stalled collection of Daleks which I had intended to use as The Cult of Skaro. Fortunately, many of these miniatures only require a minimum of concentrated hobby-time so as to be ready for a protective coat of varnish, but there are a few other half-finished forces, such as my Tetraps and Vervoids, which will need more tender loving care before being tabletop ready.

Stepping away from the "Into The Time Vortex" figures I have already started painting in the past, I have additionally started prepping and priming a considerable number of other previously unopened miniatures from the range, especially those which I can potentially use for a few of the AHPC's fortnightly themed Bonus Rounds. One such set is the Nottingham-based manufacturer's two-figure set based upon Jon Pertwee's 1973 four-part story "The Time Warrior", which contains the characterful sculpts of Irongron and Commander Linx.
Dalek and Ogron WIPs - The Kaled Mark III Travel Machines are almost finished
According to the TARDIS Data Core Jingo Linx "was forced to make an emergency landing on Earth while on reconnaissance when his ship was attacked by a squadron of Rutan fighters", and that makes the Sontaran Commander in the Fifth Sontaran Army Space Fleet, alongside the "robber baron and leader of a local bandit gang", absolutely perfect entrants for the AHPC 'Reconnaissance' round.

Slightly less straightforward will be my use of the Tomb of the Cybermen Collectors Diorama as a 'Water Feature'; as the ice-bound underground hibernation complex starts to melt when the silver giants awake.  This metal and resin "miniature tomb" comes complete with "two highly detailed metal Tomb Cybermen", but ideally I want to additionally add the four figures from the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" "Tomb Of The Cybermen" boxed set to the mix, as well as their Cyber-Leader...

Saturday, 1 December 2018

"The Astronaut Looked Like A Man From Mars."

"He wore a silver flexible suit of rubber and nylon against the freezing airless nothingness..."
These three 15mm scale two-piece metal astronauts are produced by "Ground Zero Games" and can be bought as Code MG15-USLF03 US Marine Corps Extra-Planetary Expeditionary Force Luna, Heavy Support Lasers. Part of the company's "Moongrunt" range, each set comes with six figures "as two each of three poses", and depicts the space-faring cosmonauts wearing M31 Protected Pressure Suits (PPS) with separate backpacks.

As I have already previously painted one of the US Lunar Force's buggys, I decided to apply precisely the same palette to its infantry, so applied a double undercoat of "Vallejo" Dead White over the entire trio. The models were then heavily washed with "Vallejo" Pale Grey and dry-brushed with (more) Dead White.
"Nox operate in Tesserans (eight) and Ordo's (thirty-two)."
I 'picked out' the astronauts' space-visors using a combination of "Vallejo" Gold and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, whilst their M237 Rapid-Pulse Support Laser weapons were treated to a coat of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and a subsequent double-shading of Nuln Oil. Due to having already elected not to differentiate my "Moongrunt" miniatures from my 'regular' 15mm models with a moon-like basing method, I flocked their stands using static green grass as normal.

Sticking with 15mm science fiction figures, I have also completed working on three more Nox from the "The Ion Age" Code AIAF001. These "elite troops taken from the best of the ordinary legionaries" have been super-glued onto medium-sized “Battlefront Miniatures” plastic stands and will form part of a five-element unit of the Shia Khan Empire's finest warriors that I plan to field using a set of home-made rules.
Grove The Treeman and a Grove's Shrub WIPs - The models have been primed "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna
All three figures were primed with two layers of “Vallejo” Heavy Red, heavily washed with “Citadel” Carroburg Crimson and later dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red. The ribbed piping on their "Segmentum powered armour" and backpacks were then pigmented using "Vallejo" Black before I applied my usual mix of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil to their formidable firearms.

Finally, I have been busy preparing the first of a large number of models manufactured by "Lucid Eye Publications" as entrants for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. With the event's theme being inspired by "The Fellow Of The Ring", I thought these characterful "Toon Realms" sculpts would make for a 'tongue-in-cheek' Lord Of The Toons and have resultantly started priming Yewan Grove The Treeman and four of his Grove's Shrubs as a fun proxy for Treebeard and his fellow Ents.