Saturday, 28 March 2020

Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2019 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint

There can be little doubt that 2019 was a wonderfully surprising year for my painting, with the sudden emergence of several new miniature ranges which somewhat shockingly overshadowed my usual mainstay manufacturers. “Lucid Eye Publications”, “Modiphius Entertainment”, “Fantasy Flight Games”, “Knight Models”, and “Kitbash Games” all arguably came out of nowhere to challenge the annual dominancy of my traditional Big Four - “Warlord Games”, “Wizkids”, “Black Tree Design” and “Games Workshop”, and as a result made this period my most productive ever.

In addition, there was a noticeable increase in the amount of Fantasy-based models I pigmented that weren’t from the Mortal Realms of “Age Of Sigmar”. Science Fiction and super-hero figures have repeatedly governed my hobby-time over the past decade, yet due in large to the characterful sculpts of the “Toon Realms” range, Skeletons, Treemen, Spiders, Knights and assorted forest-bred wildlife increasingly ‘cropped up’ on my online shopping trolley too…

No.10 - "Wizards Of The Coast" - "Star Wars Miniatures Game"
There can be absolutely no doubt that I would never have painted anything concerning either the "Star Wars Miniatures Game" or "Wizards Of The Coast" during this year if it wasn't for the generosity of Phil Curran, who along with a formidable array of other science-fiction based miniatures, kindly gifted me an enormous Commerce Guild Homing Spider Droid and four Super Battle Droids. Indeed, despite owning a significant box full of models from the collectable miniatures tabletop game, I have predominantly focused on simply re-basing the figures in the past, not re-painting them. However, I felt it was only right to put my brush-tip to these lovely sculpts as soon as possible, and score some much needed points during the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as well.

No.9 - "Crooked Dice Games Design Studio" - "7TV"
Despite having played numerous games of "7TV" by "Crooked Dice Games Design Studio" when the "cinematic style" skirmish game first came out several years ago, it wasn't until the end of 2019, with the release of "7TV: Apocalypse", that I finally became enamoured with its second edition. As a result, except for a quartet of Gabriel Hounds, I barely picked away at the Lincolnshire-based company's range until the very end of the year, when I finally finished a partially-painted female X-Commando who had been lurking in my queue for months, as well as their excellent Protoplasmic Terrors.

No.8 - "Reaper Miniatures" - "Chronoscope"
Whilst my plans to host a campaign loosely set in James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet's mid-25th century “Gamma World” never materialised, the science fantasy world did encourage me to pigment a plethora of models from "Reaper Miniatures" Chronoscope range. These varied from some distinctly "Dungeons And Dragons" stalwarts, such as the Gelatinous Cube, Stone Golem and Mind-Eater, through to some surreal adventurers, like Sherlock Holmes and a Deep Sea Diver, as well as the formidable "Bones" sculpt of Ape-X.

No.7 - "Warlord Games" - "Doctor Who: Exterminate!"
Quite possibly the biggest disappointment of 2019 was the utter lack of new releases by "Warlord Games" for their "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" Miniatures Game. Admittedly, this absence of fresh sculpts did offer the opportunity for me to pigment my quite considerable backlog of time travelling figures, but without the persistent 'buzz' of new foes to fight I soon found my enthusiasm dwindling for what is a somewhat overly-clunky rule-set. As a result, perhaps my most notable success was completely painting the range's "Tomb Of The Cybermen" set, complete with its Cyber-Leader for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Challenge.

No.6 - "Fantasy Flight Games" - "Star Wars: Legion"
Undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the year, especially considering how poorly my attempt to paint the Minnesota-based company's previous "Star Wars" game had gone, was the sheer number of figures I completed for "Star Wars: Legion" by "Fantasy Flight Games". Initially wowed by the attention to detail on the range's dynamically-posed Wookie Warriors, I soon transferred my attention over to the Dark Side of the Force, by applying my brush-tip to the likes of General Maximilian Veers, some Imperial Royal Guards, a complete squad of Imperial Death Troopers and Emperor Palpatine himself.

No.5 - "Games Workshop" - "Age Of Sigmar"
Two significant-sized projects lead to me pushing through a considerable number of "Games Workshop" models for "Age Of Sigmar". On the one hand I added enough Bloodletters and Heralds of Khorne to allow me to field a 1,000-point strong Blades Of Khorne army for the miniature game's second edition, and on the other I stubbornly forced myself to complete enough of the Nottingham-based manufacturer's overly-complicated plastic figures to deploy an Iron Golem warband for "Warcry".

No.4 - "Wizkids" - "Heroclix"
Ever a stable part of my annual output, my interest in super-hero based gaming surprisingly didn’t really ‘take off’ until somewhat late in the year, with my sudden determination in October to clear my painting queue of eight old(ish) Ultron Drone figures. Before that point I had simply been 'picking away' at the pre-painted plastic figures, momentarily fixating upon the Spaceknight Firefall's fearsome battle against a clutch of Dire Wraiths, before flitting over to the odd "HorrorClix" miniature such as the Reaper of Souls and a Carnage Bot.

No.3 - "Modiphius Entertainment" - "Star Trek Adventures"
Having become increasingly frustrated by the extraordinarily long delays affecting their Robert E. Howard’s Conan Role-Playing Game Kickstarter, which was supposedly meant to deliver in June 2016, I actually once swore I would never buy another “Modiphius Entertainment” product again. But then the London-based manufacturer released their “Star Trek Adventures” miniatures and I quickly found myself neck deep in Borg drones. Two fully-painted boxes of the Collective later, as well as a half-strength raiding party of Romulans, and even I must admit that the 32mm scale resin figures had an enormously positive impact upon my productivity during 2019.

No.2 - "Black Tree Design" - "Doctor Who"
Enthused by a lengthy series of battles using some homemade rules and my desire to potentially field numerous opposing factions, as well as an increasingly nostalgic love of classic “Doctor Who”, it was perhaps inevitable that I would continue to steadily work my way through this ageing company’s (back) catalogue. A formidable force of Sharaz Jek Androids, Silurians and Monoids all helped motivate me throughout the year, and even kept my passion going when the delivery service of “Black Tree Design” left a lot to be desired, courtesy of some incredibly poor communications and month-long delays.

No.1 - "Lucid Eye Publications" - "Toon Realms"
Perhaps my biggest success of 2019 was the completion of a small-sized Undead army for my “Lord Of The Toons” project using the “Dragon Rampant” rule-set. Produced by “Lucid Eye Publications”, a company I was initially utterly oblivious to, this force of skeletons and spiders greatly contributed to my success during the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and maintained much of its momentum for almost the entirety of the year due to a positively frantic release schedule. A genuine surprise genre, this particular range also got me as close to doing batch-painting as I have been in almost a decade of hobbying…

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

"Officer! What The Hell --?!"

"I was just wondering why you didn't leave these late calls to your men!"
This 28mm scale pre-painted plastic model of a Gotham Policeman was produced by “Wizkids” and is miniature number 001 from their DC  “Heroclix” Hypertime range. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for "DC Comics", the G.C.P.D is led by Commissioner Gordon, and services Gotham City. "Typically depicted in stories featuring the superhero Batman" as both an ally and opponent of the caped crusader, the department has "long been steeped in corruption, with numerous officers both high-and-low ranking, involved in bribery and even more serious offences such as drug-smuggling and murder."

Chopped from it's 'clicky' stand and permanently attached to a 25mm circular base, I carefully removed the sculpt's sergeant stripes from its left sleeve with a sharp modelling knife as I wanted the figure to simply be a generic law officer. The cop was then primed using a couple of coats of "Vallejo" Heavy Blue and shaded in "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade.
"Wizkids" WIPs - Another four "Heroclix" Gotham Policeman models are in the painting pipeline
The policeman's boots, holster, baton and pistol were 'picked out' with some "Citadel" Abaddon Black, whilst his firearm was later treated to a combination of Ironbreaker and (an old OOP pot of) Badab Black. I used some "Vallejo" Gold for the flatfoot's belt buckle, shoulder badge and cap badge, and subsequently washed these areas with a little Strong Tone Quickshade by "The Army Painter".

Having previously painted a few of this particular model seven years ago, and having five on the painting table currently, I thought I'd try to mix up the cops' ethnicities a little bit more than before. So decided that the skin colour of this latest recruit to my burgeoning Police Department would comprise of "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone and "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade. As a final touch the lawman's facial features and fingers were 'highlighted' with a little (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone.
"Heroclix" WIP - Dum Dum Dugan is slowly having all his white straps and pouches 'picked out'.
Not only am I planning on getting these Gotham Policemen ready to help tackle a Dire Wraith invasion of Earth campaign I have planned (using my homemade rule-set "M.I.S.S."), but they'll also hopefully prove useful as I reacquaint myself with my first true full-on wargaming love, Marvel Super Heroes: The Heroic Role-Playing Game by "TSR". This role playing game absolutely floored me when it was first released in 1984, and I still remember my excitement when I discovered the American gaming company had released an expanded edition, entitled the Marvel Superheroes Advanced Game, just a couple of years later.

The initial module "Day Of The Octopus" features Spider-Man, The Thing, Captain America and Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), so my plan is to try and own painted miniatures of all the characters involved in this game adventure. However, where I can't or haven't the time, I'll instead be using the system's card-board stand-up figures, in an effort to try and create that Eighties feel to some of our games.

Monday, 23 March 2020

"During The Spellplague Of 1385 DR, The Walking Statue Appeared..."

 "...And rampaged through the city."
This 300mm tall "quality pre-painted plastic" model of the Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight is produced by “Wizkids” and is available as part of their "Dungeons & Dragons" Icons of the Realms Miniatures range. Resembling a warrior in plate armour with a sword and shield, this stone construct towered over the city of Waterdeep at 57′ 3″ in height, and eventually settled in the Crown of the North's Trades Ward.

A "premium" product comprising of a separate sword and shield, I had initially hoped the model might fit on a "Citadel" 170mm x 105mm oval stand, and ordered one from "Games Workshop" post-haste. However, upon arrival it was clear that the miniature was so tall that it needed a substantially larger base if it wasn't going to topple over all the time. As a result I reattached it to the 175mm clear plastic circular base it came with, and simply primed that with some "Citadel" Abaddon Black, having first gritted it with modeller's sand.
"When stopped, the statue bowed to those who had battled it."
Managing to resist the temptation to assemble the enormous figure prior to painting, all three of its components were given a double coat of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey, and washed with “Citadel” Nuln Oil. Whilst this shading phase was reasonably straightforward for both the Walking Statue's 255mm long sword and 160mm long shield, the actual Honorable Knight himself proved a bit more difficult to evenly cover on account of all his joints and crannies.

Once completed though, each piece was heavily dry-brushded with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey, and then slowly treated to multiple applications of "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green and Agrax Earthshade to suggest some extreme weathering. This was a patient process, as I not only applied the washes with a brush, but also a sponge, tissue and my fingers so as to try and make the grunge look as organic as possible. In addition, a mixture of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, Nuln Oil and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade was occasionally added to the concoction for some of the deeper crevices.
My output for the Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - 508 Points
I then applied a second (significantly lighter) dry-brush of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey over the entire ensemble, before using some heavily watered-down "Vallejo" Heavy Green on some patches of moss and weeds, which clearly over time had grown on the statue. These areas were later shaded using some "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade. Finally, the Knight's bird nest was 'picked out' using a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. This excellent little detail was later dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna.

With my Walking Statue completed, and 60 more points bagged, I've now passed my 500 point target tally for the Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and can finally put my paint-brushes down for a day or two. Despite the fact that I get an awful lot painted during this event, this'll probably be my last, as I find the constant need to be posting fully-pigmented miniatures quite tiring after a while. Plus, I've barely rolled a dice in anger for the majority of 2020 so far, and the year is already almost a quarter spent... 

Friday, 20 March 2020

"There’s No Hard Proof These Creatures Exist."

"There are hundreds of footprints and thousands of sightings."
This 64mm tall plastic model of an Abominable Snowman is produced by “Wizkids” and is promotional miniature number WK-005. Based upon the "folkloric ape-like creature taller than an average human, that is said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains" this exclusive figure was actually produced for the New Jersey-based company's 2015 Holiday Monthly Organised Play Kit, and was accompanied by both its character card and an instruction sheet for participating retailers that wanted to sponsor the event in their store.

Generally regarded by the scientific community "as a legend, given the lack of evidence of its existence", the model was initially primed using a couple of coats of "Vallejo" White, and later treated to a splash of Pale Grey. To be honest, although I'm a big fan of this "Vallejo" transparent acrylic wash, the Pale Grey does tend to noticeably bubble whilst drying, and can resultantly leave something of a disagreeable dusty look to a miniature.
"...Other locations may be compromised as well."
In an effort to avoid this, I therefore carefully applied the "Vallejo" Pale Grey in slow downward strokes, so as to minimise any of the aforementioned bubbling. The Yeti was then enthusiastically dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo White, and had its face, fingers and toes layered with "Citadel" Abaddon Black.

These areas were later treated to a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey and (a double dose of) "Citadel" Nuln Oil, before delicately dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey. Finally, I dotted the shaggy beast's incredibly tiny eyes with a couple of dots of "Vallejo" Heavy Red, and applied some White to its teeth. These gnashers were subsequently stained with a little "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade.
"Wizkids" WIPs - Five "Heroclix" G.C.P.D. figures are at various stages of completion
With the Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge finally coming to an end, and the last of my entrants sat patiently upon a shelf awaiting posting, I've had an opportunity to start planning out some of the genres and rule-sets I want to hit my tabletop with for the rest of the year. Disappointingly, I haven't yet managed to publish a single Battle Report during 2020 and therefore 'spotlight' some of the many different games I'm currently playing or learning the ropes to, such as "Warcry" by "Games Workshop" and "7TV" by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio".

Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, having recently finished adding to my "Heroclix" Dire Wraith invasion force, the first thing I've decided upon is to set-up a small campaign based upon the "Marvel Worldwide" extraterrestrial species attempting to conquer the Earth using my homemade rules "M.I.S.S." This should make things pretty straightforward to organise and encourage me to finally complete some more plastic "Wizkids" miniatures which have been sat patiently waiting in the aisles for ages, like some additional G.C.P.D. figures to use as generic police officers...

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

"A Black Pudding Attacks By Grabbing And Squeezing Their Prey."

"The pudding can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings..."
This 28mm scale pewter model of a Black Pudding is produced by "Otherworld Miniatures", and can be bought as Code DM7b from their range of Dungeon Monsters. Hand-sculpted by Paul Muller, the creature made its first appearance in the 1974 "Dungeons & Dragons" set and "resembles a bubbling, heaped pile of thick, black, pudding-like goo, roughly fifteen feet across and two feet thick."

As with the Hertfordshire-based manufacturer's Green Slime, I found the "nasty, oozing creature that haunts caverns and dungeons, seeking unwary denizens to prey upon" to actually overlap the edges of its accompanying "50mm round plastic slotta-base", so ended up super-gluing it to a 60mm circular base instead. I then applied a double basecoat of "Citadel" Abaddon Black over the "mindless, underground-dwelling scavenger" and heavily dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal.
"That's what we're up against... An alien beast that calls itself a Dire Wraith!"
Finally, I drowned the Black Pudding in "Citadel" Nuln Oil. I actually found this particular 'figure' rather underwhelming, as although it has some nice detail, it is incredibly flat for an underground creature which "secretes a digestive acid that dissolves organic material and metal quickly." "Wizkids" produced a far more dynamic-looking, almost swirling version as part of their Monster Menagerie Set 2, but I have been unable to source a reasonably priced one yet...

Speaking of "Wizkids" and their pre-painted plastics, I have also pigmented eight of their 31mm tall plastic Dire Wraiths. Still potentially available as number 010a from the "Marvel" Guardians Of The Galaxy "Heroclix" range, these shape-shifting aliens "are an evolutionary offshoot of the Skrulls from the Andromeda Galaxy" and were created by Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom for the December 1979 issue of "Rom".
"Not only Earth, but the entire Cosmos will be cleansed of you -- "
Once the models were removed from their clicky-bases and super-glued onto 40mm circular bases, they were all primed with two coats of "Vallejo" Heavy Red and heavily washed with "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade. The extra-terrestrial opponents of Rom the Spaceknight were then dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red.

Each Wraith's pair of eyes were 'picked out' first with some "Citadel" Abaddon Black, and then a tiny spot of "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre. As I wanted the "Skrullian Deviants" pupils to particularly stand out, I didn't bother shading them, and instead simply tidied their edges up with some additional "Citadel" Abaddon Black and "Vallejo" Heavy Red.

Monday, 16 March 2020

"Now That I've Created The Badballs..."

"The world is ours, Snivelitch!"
These five 28mm scale resin models of some Microclopia are produced by "Precinct Omega", and can be bought as Code BM051 from their Ballmonsters! range. Designed to be used for a "mad-cap gaming experience that mixes board-game, wargame and bar billiards for an experience unlike anything you've ever played before", the miniatures also each came supplied with a clear plastic flying stand.
"Not if the Madballs can help it, Doktor!"
Having decided that my team of Ballmonsters would simply bounce towards their opponents along the ground rather than fly through the air (on easily breakable stands), I super-glued each helium-filled beachball onto a 25mm circular base, and primed them all "Vallejo" Heavy Red. I then drenched the cyclopean bonces in "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade, before dry-brushing the lot with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red.
"Black Tree Design" WIPs - Three Autons have been based, primed and 'boxed off'
Next I 'picked out' all the carnivorous balls' teeth using a combination of "Vallejo" White and "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade, and the majority of their eyes with "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre and a smidgen of "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade. Finally, I applied a dot of "Citadel" Abaddon Black over a layer of pure "Vallejo" White to one of the Ballmonster's pupils so as to make it appear more like a normal eye.

With my first "Ballmonsters!" team completed, I've once again turned to "Black Tree Miniatures" and their extensive range of "Doctor Who" figures for a science fiction fix. I've a number of their sculpts on the painting table currently, including some Quarks and Sea Devil Warriors, but its a handful of classic factory floor Autons which has particularly caught my imagination; doubtless aided by repeated listenings to "Spearhead From Space".
"Otherworld Miniatures" WIPs - Two Barrow Guardians and a ('propped up') Death Worm
In addition, I am continuing to plough through my collection of "Dungeon & Dragon" models by "Otherworld Miniatures". The Hertfordshire-based manufacturer has very generously gifted me with two more of their excellent Barrow Guardians. So perhaps unsurprisingly the pair of stone custodians have gone straight to the top of my queue, and have already been assembled, pinned, based and primed.

I've also tried my hand with one of their Death Worms, but found the necrophidius to be an absolute swine to pigment. Not however, because the crisp detail is hard to reach with a brush-tip, but because the very nature of its pose seems to make it incredibly inclined to break wherever one vertebrae meets another. Having pinned the 'blessed beast' back together after one misfortune, and then had it snap to pieces again, I've super-glued it to an old plastic tombstone by "Renedra Limited".

Saturday, 14 March 2020

"Green Slime... The Deadliest Denizen Of All!"

"Don't touch it! It is certain death!"
This 28mm scale pewter model of some Green Slime is produced by "Otherworld Miniatures", and can be bought as Code DM7a from their range of Dungeon Monsters. Hand-sculpted by Paul Muller, the creature made its first appearance in the original 1974 Dungeons & Dragons set and represents "a large colony of green slime; a very unpleasant plant-based life-form that lurks on the floors, walls and ceilings of dark dungeons, ready to drop on careless low-level adventurers."

Despite being advertised as only being 45mm wide, I soon found the "bright green, sticky, wet moss" to actually overlap the edges of the "50mm round plastic slotta-base" it came supplied with. So in the end I decided to super-glue it to a 60mm circular base instead. I then applied a basecoat of "Vallejo" Russian Uniform over the deadly ooze and washed it with copious amounts of "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green.
A trio of adventurers battle a pool of Green Slime, a mound of Yellow Mould, and two Barrow Guardians 
As I wanted to use the mindless monster as a test piece for my recently acquired "Vallejo" Green Fluorescent Model Color, I first dry-brushed the miniature with some (more) "Vallejo" Russian Uniform, before individually 'picking out' each and every lethal blob with some "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade. These pustules were later repeatedly dry-brushed using an increasingly lighter combination of "Vallejo" Russian Uniform and White.

Once I felt the "horrible, fetid growth" was highlighted enough, I dabbed the entire thing with "Vallejo" Green Fluorescent and allowed it to dry. As a final touch, I went back in and reapplied more "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade to the highly corrosive creature's numerous bumps and bulbous stalks.
"Wizkids" WIP - The Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight has had all its shading finished
Due to being firmly in the "Dungeons & Dragons" zone currently, I have also made some quite appreciable progress on my 300mm tall Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight by "Wizkids". Considering that this plastic stone construct actually came pre-painted and cost in excess of forty quid, I have definitely had to push through a phase in its pigmentation where I strongly questioned why I had stupidly decided to re-do the huge figure in the first place.

However, having now finished both the model's initial dry-brush of "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey, and its subsequent weathering using copious amounts of "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade and Biel-Tan Green, I'm rather pleased I've invested all the energy and time on it. In addition, having managed to get the walking statue's enormous sword and shield shaded too, I now just need to spend a few hours patiently dry-brushing Waterdeep's guardian before the entire project is almost finished...

Thursday, 12 March 2020

"Guardians Entombed As Part Of The Barbarian's Funeral."

"Some of the guardians may have been destroyed over the centuries."
These two 28mm scale metal models of a pair of Barrow Guardians are produced by "Otherworld Miniatures", and can be bought either separately from their "Official Barrowmaze Miniatures" range, or the custodian stood upon a plinth can be obtained from The Monsters of Barrowmaze Boxed Set (Code BMB1). Sculpted by Andrew May, the figures were produced back in January 2014, as part of the successful Barrowmaze Complete campaign on "Indiegogo".

Multi-part pieces, I decided to attach a shield to both of my models to indicate that they were Greater Barrow Guardians. This was rather a straightforward process for the stone construct stood upon a circular slab, as there were plenty of 'contact points' for the super-glue to bond to. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his companion, and in the end I had to patiently pin his shield literally into his hand with some wire after it initially broke free whilst I was gritting the miniature's base.
"A stone statue of a warrior, which can animate to protect the tomb which is has been assigned to guard." 
Both magically animated custodians, along with the plinth, were initially primed using two coats of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey, washed with “Citadel” Nuln Oil, and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey. I then applied some washes of "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green and Agrax Earthshade to each sculpture so as to suggest extreme weathering, and finally tidied each ensemble up with a second (lighter) dry-brush of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey.

In addition to my Barrow Guardians I have completed a 28mm scale pewter model of a Yellow Mould. This is also produced by "Otherworld Miniatures", and available as DM7g from their range of Dungeon Monsters. Hand-sculpted by Paul Muller, the creature represents "a colony of yellow mould, a nasty fungus-like infestation, often found growing on decaying matter in caverns and dungeons."
"If disturbed... This mould bursts forth with a cloud of poisonous spores."
"Very dangerous if disturbed by unwary explorers", I originally super-glued the furry textured monster to a plastic "Citadel" 40mm circular base, and primed it with "Vallejo" Heavy Brown. I then applied two coats of "Vallejo" Heavy Goldbrown over the entire creature, and shaded it using a copious amount of "Citadel" Gryphonne Sepia.

Lastly, the "deadly threat to adventurers" was dry-brushed using some (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Golden Brown, and a lesser highlight of Heavy Ochre. At this stage however, I suddenly realised that there wasn't any room on the model's base for me to apply wither any sand, grit or static grass. As a result, I therefore carefully prised the Yellow Mould from off of its stand, and permanently attached it to a "Citadel" 50mm circular base instead.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

"Egad, Snivelitch! These Madballs Even Gross Me Out!"

"He hasn't seen nothing yet!"
This 28mm scale resin model of a Ballmonster is produced by "Precinct Omega", and was bought as a pair of show specials whilst at "Beachhead" 2020. Designed to be played with the company's "wild and hilarious game of luck and judgement in which players pit teams of giant, carnivorous, helium-filled bad-tempered beachballs against one another", the miniature also came supplied with a clear plastic flying stand.

Having decided against having "my antidote to fantasy sports games" fly through the air in preference of him bouncing towards his opponents across the ground, I super-glued the 'head' onto a 25mm circular base, and primed him "Vallejo" Heavy Red. I then drowned the freakish figure in "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade, before dry-brushing him with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Red.
"Otherworld Miniatures" WIPs - A second (weathered) Barrow Guardian and a Fighter in plate mail
With the basics done, I 'picked out' the gas-filled sphere's teeth using a combination of "Vallejo" White and "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade, and his puss-filled 'blind' eye with "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre and "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade. Finally, I dotted in his right 'good' eye with a little "Citadel" Abaddon Black over a layer of pure "Vallejo" White.

In addition to my Ballmonster test piece, I've been plugging away at my collection of "Dungeons & Dragons" figures produced by "Otherworld Miniatures". Disconcertingly, one of the elements missing for my "Fighting Fantasy" themed campaign is a distinct lack of any adventurers, so I have been slowly plugging away at all the metallic areas of a Fighter in plate mail, and dirtying him up a little "Citadel" Agrax Earthshade".
"Wizkids" WIP - The Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight has been shaded
Alongside this model, I've also managed to finish the 'weathering' on both of my (Greater) Barrow Guardians, and started tidying up their bases ready for my usual application of "Citdel" Doombull Brown, Rakarth Flesh and Agrax Earthshade. I'm actually hoping to get my hands on a third of these excellent Andrew May sculpted stone custodians from the Hertfordshire-based manufacturer's official "Barrowmaze" range soon...

Lastly, after a couple of sessions with a 24ml pot of "Citadel" Nuln Oil and a big paintbrush, I have completed shading my Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight by "Wizkids", including both the custodian's enormous shield and sword. Now I just need to start applying a dry-brush of "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey over the entire miniature using my recently purchased makeup foundation brush from the "Abody" Professional Cosmetic Kit.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

"Yochlols Were Most Numerous In... The Demonweb Pits."

"Within it they commonly served as Lolth's enforcers, scouts, and appropriately as handmaidens."
These three 28mm scale pre-painted plastic models of some Yochlols are produced by "Wizkids", and can be bought as miniature number 012 from their Storm King's Thunder range of "Dungeons & Dragons" models. A chaotic evil creature, this shape-changing demon were able to slam "away at their foes with their numerous tentacles", and introduced in the 1980 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" game adventure module, Queen of the Demonweb Pits by David C. Sutherland III (with Gary Gygax).

"A type of lesser tanar'ri demon", which were also known as Handmaidens of Lolth, each figure was super-glued to a 25mm circular base, and originally undercoated with some "Vallejo" Heavy Goldenbrown. However, due to the rubbery texture of the Yochlols' figure, this extra opaque Game colour simply didn't take to its surface, so in the end I applied a couple of helpings of "Vallejo" Heavy Brown.
"Otherworld Miniatures" WIPs - These two Barrow Guardians are slowly being weathered
Once this had dried, I then re-applied the "Vallejo" Heavy Goldbrown once again, and subsequently shaded each 'handmaiden' with an old pot of "Citadel" Gryphonne Sepia. This seemed to pool really well amongst all the sculpts' soft details, and create precisely the yellow, oozy, effect I was after to suggest how their "bodies seemed to be constantly melting and piling back up like a sickening living candle." Later, I gave each miniature a rough dry-brush of (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Goldbrown and 'picked out' their eyes using a combination of Heavy Red and "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson.

Sticking with "Dungeons & Dragons" denizens, I have made some more progress on two Barrow Guardians by "Otherworld Miniatures". These animated stone statues from their official "Barrowmaze" range, are slowly being weathered using a combination of "Citadel" Nuln Oil, Biel-Tan Green and Agrax Earthshades washes. Plus some patient dry-brushing with "Vallejo" Heavy Blue-Grey.
"Wizkids" WIPs - This 115mm x 160mm shield has been primed and partially shaded
I'm particularly pleased I've got these two figures to practice on as I'm also making some significant headway on my Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight by "Wizkids", and plan to use precisely the same palette on that as my Barrow Guardians. Indeed, having finished priming the 300mm tall plastic model, I've put some time in undercoating his separately attached sword and shield, with the intention of actually finishing these 'smaller pieces' first before tackling the 'Big Yin' himself.

Weighing in at a whopping 115mm x 160mm in size, the shield in particular is proving rather difficult to handle and pigment simultaneously, at least without "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey" getting everywhere, as I'm having to hold some part of the piece's surface whenever I apply a brush to it. Resultantly, I'm doing both it and the sword in piecemeal stages, in the hope that I can then apply any tricks I pick up on the Knight's significantly larger plastic main torso.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

"This Viscous Heap Slides Like An Inky Spill."

"It's the colour of a starless night sky, and a thick odour permeates the air around it."
This 45mm tall pre-painted plastic model of some Rolling Oil is produced by “Wizkids” and is miniature number 029 from their Ruins of Lastwall range of "Pathfinder Battles" figures. "A magical compound of pitch and alchemist’s fire", the "volatile and dangerous ooze... hunts in subterranean tunnels and even city sewer systems and waterways for animal and vegetable material to consume."

"Thick, viscous, and resembling a glistening spread of black wax" the mutable creature was re-based upon a "Games Workshop" 50mm circular base and primed using a double layer of "Citadel" Abaddon Black. The Rolling Oil was then enthusiastically dry-brushed with "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal, before being drenched with "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
"Otherworld Miniatures" WIPs - This Barrow Guardian has been primed, shaded and dry-brushed
With my latest ooze completed, I have been rummaging around for more models by "Otherworld Miniatures" to use with a possible "Warlock Of Firetop Mountain" flavoured tabletop campaign I have in mind. Russ Nicholson's excellent illustrations for this particular "Fighting Fantasy" gaming novel by "Puffin Books" made a lasting impact upon me when I was a young hobbyist, so ideally I have been scouring through my "Dungeons & Dragons" backlog to see what figures captured the look of the Glasgow-born artist's pencilling.

One such model is a Barrow Guardian from Greg Gillespie’s ‘Barrowmaze’ RPG setting. This particular sculpt would appear to be 'out of production' these days, and I only managed to 'bag one' myself because "Otherworld Miniatures" very kindly sent me for free when I ordered their heavily discounted Barrow Guardian II (Code DM30b). The metal figure was actually a bit of a pain to assemble, as its shield is (understandably) separate, so had to be pinned in place due its minimal surface contact with the monster's wrist.
"Sally 4th" Elite Paint Storage Shelving Unit
I have also spent some time assembling one of three Elite Paint Storage shelves produced by "Sally 4th" to try and help 'tidy up' my painting area. I'm very much aware that I've not played anywhere near as many games as I had hoped to by this stage of the year, and a large part of this is because my considerable painting queue, along with my numerous paints, brushes, glues and varnishes have significantly encroached upon my table space.

Assembled using copious amounts of Titebond Original Wood Glue by "Franklin International", this multi-piece MDF painting accessory can accommodate fifteen "Vallejo"-sized dropper bottles of paint and comes with two clear fronted drawers as well. The wooden kit also comes supplied with some "ultra strong rare earth magnets" with which to securely hold any adjoining shelves in place. I won't be attaching mine yet until I've built the other two storage units, to ensure their polarity matches the next rack...

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

(Lead) Mountain Musings - "Dungeons & Dragons" March 2020

"Wizkids" WIP - The Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight has been primed
This month's themed attempt to try and reduce my embarrassing backlog of metal, plastic and resin models will be a little different from normal as I plan to simply focus my efforts upon a single miniature, namely the Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight by "Wizkids". Clocking in at an impressive 300mm in height this Icons of the Realms "premium" figure will be receiving quite a straightforward 'stone' paint-job, but will doubtless provide plenty of unforeseen challenges on account of his sheer size.

Indeed, originally I had planned to re-base the pre-painted plastic model onto a freshly-ordered "Citadel" 170mm x 105mm oval stand. But when it arrived it was too small for such a towering behemoth, so I've subsequently reattached it to the 175mm circular base it came with. I have also resisted the temptation to assemble the "gargantuan construct" prior to painting, and will therefor pigment its sword and huge shield separately.
"Otherworld Miniatures" WIPs - Two Goblins and a Fighter in Plate Mail
One of the side-effects of currently being so badly bitten by the "Dungeons & Dragons" bug is that I have also found myself flicking through some of the old "Fighting Fantasy" gaming books published by "Puffin Books", and as a result I thought I might give some of these old classics a re-read or four. However, I rather fancied having some models at hand to bring the games more to life, and as a result turned to a box of "Otherworld Miniatures" which I own.

This Hertfordshire-based manufacturer actually used to own the licence to "a range of 28mm [Limited Edition] miniatures based on characters and monsters from the Fighting Fantasy series of game-books." But that seems to have stopped now, probably due to "Atlantis Miniatures" and their highly successful Fighting Fantasy Legends: 28mm Resin Miniatures "Kickstarter" late last year. For now therefore, I'm going to stick with what I've got, picking up any necessary pieces as and when I need them for my adventures...
February 2020 - "Wizkids" dominated the month with a plethora of "Heroclix" miniatures
Statistics wise, the past four weeks have proved to be a fairly bog standard February for me, disappointingly only completing just over half the models I 'powered through' this time last year. However, that doesn't mean the month was in any way a disappointment, as I both finally got started on my "Marvel Crisis Protocol" backlog by "Atomic Mass Games", and whittled away more than a handful of old "Heroclix" sculpts by "Wizkids".

In fact, my love of super-heroes, or rather comic book villains, led to me polishing off quite a few dastardly denizens of the criminal world, such as Major Maxim, Black Manta, the Abomination and Zzzax. As well as providing them with a plethora of rubber-suited henchmen with which to do their bidding, including a few converted U-Men. I was also able to get plenty of progress made on a few "Dungeons & Dragons" themed pre-paints which will undoubtedly populate the posts of March 2020...

Saturday, 29 February 2020

"We're Your Metal Men!"

"Attention, Metal Men - - to me!"
These three 28mm figures of Iron, Tin and Lead are produced by “Wizkids” and can be bought as miniature numbers 009, 010 and 026 respectively from their World's Finest DC "Heroclix" range. "Advanced artificially intelligent robots" who were created by scientist Dr. William "Will" Magnus, this super-team first appeared in the March/April 1962 edition of "Showcase", and were created by Robert Kanigher amd Ross Andru.

Having previously painted sculpts of these automatons from the "DC Comics" "Heroclix" expansion Crisis, I wanted to do something different with them, and try out a couple of paints I haven't used that much since obtaining them. As a result each model was cut-off from its 'clicky-base', permanently attached to one of the 40mm thin-lipped circular bases I use for all my objective markers and then primed using a colour somewhat similar to that of their comic book colours.
"Atomic Mass Games" WIPs - Venom and Erik Killmonger
I therefore used "Citadel" Leadbelcher on the "slow-witted and loyal" Lead, "Vallejo" Silver on the "self-doubting and insecure" Tin, and "Citadel" Ironbreaker upon the "strongman" Iron. All three figures, whose 'personalities mirror their namesake metals', were subsequently shaded using "Citadel" Nuln Oil, before being simply dry-brushed using their main base colour.

Staying with super-heroes, or at least villains, a recent release update from "Atomic Mass Games" has made me aware as to just how far behind I'm falling painting up my "Marvel Crisis Protocol" miniatures. I'm still really keen on just focusing upon arch-nemesis being pitted against their bitterest rival for now, so have spent a little more time tidying up Killmonger's impressively-detailed stand and applying a base coat of "Vallejo" Russian Uniform World War Two to his trousers.
"Doctor Who" WIPs - Sauvix, an Armoured Sea Devil and an Auton
In addition, I've managed to get some "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey onto Venom's 50mm circular base, and apply a "Citadel" Nuln Oil wash to it as well. Despite not having yet even assembled Eddie Brock's hated foe, Spider-Man, I'm actually hoping to get this 50mm tall monstrosity completed over the next few days, and then properly focus upon finishing N'Jadaka whilst the plastic glue dries on Peter Parker's alter-ego.

Lastly, my enthusiasm for "Doctor Who" has suddenly been rekindled once again. Rather embarrassingly I have had a quartet of undercoated Autons by "Black Tree Design" on my painting desk since I finished my test piece artificial life form way back in September 2019. So along with an Armoured Sea Devil and its commander, Sauvix, I thought I would finally get them ready for my time-traveller's tabletop...

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

"The Trapper Will Smother Any Prey Trapped Within It."

"Those caught by the initial attack are prevented from using weapons by the great musculature of the Trapper."
This 45mm square pre-painted plastic model of an Earth Elemental is produced by “Wizkids” and is miniature number 031 their Volo's and Mordenkainen's Foes range of "Dungeons & Dragons" figures. A "large sheet-like monster that disguises itself as a floor or ceiling", the rare creature made its first appearance in December 1975 within the pages of "The Strategic Review".

"Resistant to both fire and cold damage" the amorphous form was initially primed using a double-layer of “Vallejo” Dark Grey, positively drowned in “Citadel" Nuln Oil and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo Dark Grey. I then applied a couple of even coats of "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey to the 'flat body the fiend conforms to the floor surface of its lair' and washed that with (more) "Citadel" Nuln Oil.
"Dungeons & Dragons" WIPs - The Banderhobb has had been used as a test-piece for a number of techniques
As "Trappers are 95% likely to appear as a normal stone floor when tested by any normal means", I dry-brushed this upper surface with (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Bluegrey, just as if I were painting the paving tiles of a dungeon. This process actually made a bit of a mess of some of my earlier work with the "Vallejo" Dark Grey, so as a final touch I simply went back and tidied the monster's edges up.

Despite the Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge entering its final few weeks, and my still needing to pigment approximately another forty or so 28mm miniatures to achieve my annual target for the event, I have spent some of my precious hobby-time fooling around with a large plastic Banderhobb by "Wizkids". This giant bipedal toad from the New Jersey-based company's "Dungeons & Dragons" range arrived with a horrible pre-paint job which predominantly consisted of a jarringly yellow dry-brush all over the figure's dark green base-layer.
"Wizkids" WIPs - The Yochlol has been primed, shaded, dry-brushed and tidied-up
Having scrutinised some 'official' illustrations depicting "the enigmatic monsters of shadow and flesh", this colour scheme itself wasn't actually too wide of mark; albeit its their bloated stomach and gullet which are predominantly yellow. As a result I've been testing out some wet-blending, sponging and simple layering to see which technique works best for me, as I've little experience of painting paler underbellies...  

Far more straightforward a subject have been three "Wizkids" Yochlols, which despite some initial priming problems, now seem to be close to completion. The 28mm scale demons really didn't like my disconcertingly translucent "Vallejo" Heavy Goldenbrown until they'd be undercoated with a couple of layers of Heavy Brown first. But now they just need their red cyclopean eyes to be 'dabbed' in place before being finished.