Friday, 31 January 2020

"Nine He Gave To Mortal Men..."

"...Proud and great, and so ensnared them."
These four 28mm scale "white metal figures" of Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths are produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and can be bought from the company's "Toon Realms" range. Sculpted by Steve Saleh, I have painted them to represent the "dreaded ring-servants of the Dark Lord Sauron in Middle-earth" so as to field them as a 'Lord Of The Toons' Bellicose Foot unit (Reduced Model Unit) for “Dragon Rampant” by "Osprey Games".

Originally I had planned to simply paint these figures in exactly the same way as I've pigmented all my ghosts, using a white undercoat with plenty of green shading and simple white dry-brush. But having seen the 'official' paint-job on the now OOP Twilight Ringwraiths manufactured by "Games Workshop", I thought I'd try a distinctly bluer palette, so therefore primed the quartet with two layers of "Vallejo" Steel Grey.
'Lord of the Toons' - Faramir and Boromir face four of the Nazgul
The Fallen Kings were then 'muddied down' with a wash of "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, before being dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Steel Grey, and an even lighter touch of Heavy Bluegrey. With the bulk of the spectres finished, I subsequently 'picked out' their grotty gloves with a combination of "Vallejo" White and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, and their eyes with a dab of  "Citadel" Abaddon Black.

I also layered their teeth with a dash of "Vallejo" White, and decided to imply a haunting look in their somewhat softly-detailed faces by adding a splash of "Citadel" Druchii Violet just beneath their eyes. This colour sort of replicated the facial make-up I spotted the actors wearing when they appeared in Peter Jackson's 2001 epic fantasy adventure film "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring".
"Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures" WIPs - The Bone Golem has been primed, shaded and dry-brushed
Despite still having another four of Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths left to finish, I've momentarily turned my attention towards a considerably larger-sized figure from “Wizkids” impressive Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range. This Bone Golem is absolutely packed with detail with all its skulls, ribs, leg bones and grisly cartilage, but should look pretty impressive on the tabletop once I've found the time to pigment all its fleshy areas.

In addition, this latest "Dungeons & Dragons" model has encouraged me to dust down the five adventurers I planed to use for an "Expedition To The Barrier Peaks" campaign a few years ago. Consisting of such notable treasure-seekers as a Gnome Infiltrator (with repeating crossbow), a Half-Elf Sorcerer, and a Lizardman Warrior, these 'Out Of Production' miniatures were all made by "Wizards Of The Coast", and predominantly came from the company's discontinued "Chainmail" range...

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

"Do Not Meddle In The Affairs Of Wizards..."

"...For they are subtle and quick to anger."
This 28mm scale model of a wizard sat atop a dice whilst smoking a pipe is produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and was actually sent to me as a free "Gifty" with one of my recent orders. The figure is arguably not quite as cartoonish in style as the manufacturer’s other “Toon Realms” sculpts, but I thought it would still make an excellent statue/objective marker for “Dragon Rampant”.

In addition, I wanted the opportunity to try my hand at a somewhat waterlogged stone figure, in order to test out a possible palette for a much larger figure I plan on submitting to the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. As a result the miniature was super-glued upon a 28mm “Games Workshop” circular base, before subsequently being permanently attached to one of the 40mm thin-lipped circular bases I use for all my objective markers.
"Toon Realms" WIPs - Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths are slowly having their gloves, eyes and teeth painted
The magic user, along with his 'stone' plinth, was initially primed using two coats of “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey, washed with a mixture of “Citadel” Nuln Oil, Biel-Tan Green and Agrax Earthshade, and dry-brushed with (more) “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey. I then went back with some extra "Citadel" Nuln Oil and 'picked out' some of the dice spots which weren't quite as visible as I wanted.

Significantly more time-consuming a mini-project has been the eight Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths by "Lucid Eye Publications" I have slowly been progressing. Having primed, washed and dry-brushed the "Toon Realms" spectres, I foolishly thought that the bulk of my work was done, but have since discovered just how hard it is to 'grind out' sixteen "Vallejo" White gloves and assorted teeth. As a result I've split the work down into two groups of four figures, with the first lot now rapidly approaching completion. 
"Marvel Crisis Protocol" WIPs - The Black Panther needs all his suit's Vibranium to be 'picked out'
Long time sufferers of this blog will undoubtedly know of my love for all-things super-hero based, so will probably appreciate the dilemma "Atomic Mass Games" have caused me with their release of the "Marvel Crisis Protocol" miniatures game. For a while I have managed to stay reasonably strong, and keep my painting queue clear of the Minnesota-based company's multi-piece hard plastic figures, yet that has now changed with the recent arrival of their Black Panther character pack...

In fact, I've become so enthused with the sculpt that I have additionally assembled the expansion set's Killmonger miniature too, and hope to slowly paint my way through two forces where each side has a clear arch-nemesis on the opposing team. I'm also rather keen to pigment a few of the range's models which I don't own as either OOP "Knight Models" or "Heroclix", such as Venom, Okoye and Shuri...

Sunday, 26 January 2020

“Earth Elementals Speak Terran But Rarely Choose To Do So.”

"Though an earth elemental moves slowly, it is a relentless opponent."
This 67mm tall model of an Earth Elemental is produced by “Wizkids” and can be bought from their Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range. Able to “travel though solid ground or stone as easily as humans walk on the earth’s surface” the summoned creature made its first appearance in the original 1974 “Dungeons & Dragons” boxed set by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and “can come in almost any shape, size, and composition imaginable.”

Unable to swim, the monster was first primed using a double-layer of “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna and somewhat submerged in “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade. The figure was then enthusiastically dry-brushed in (more) “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna, before receiving a significantly lighter ‘dusting’ with a make-up brush containing a little Heavy Brown.
Alien warriors tear down the mighty Godzilla, whilst some Alien Stalkers fast approach Mister Fantastic
The Elemental’s formidable maw was darkened using a combination of “Citadel” Abaddon Black and Nuln Oil, and subsequently shaded with (more) Strong Tone Quickshade by “The Army Painter”. Finally, I ‘picked out’ the model’s eyes with a couple of dabs of “Vallejo” Heavy Ochre and shaded them with a spot of “Citadel” Reikland Fleshshade…

I have also paid another visit to the LVL Up Gaming Store in Bournemouth so as to play-test the revised statistics for H.R. Giger's Aliens for my homemade rule-set "M.I.S.S." On this occasion I brought along one of my 3 x 3 foot "Deep Cut Studio" mats for us to battle over, and absolutely covered the Space Hulk with as much pre-painted terrain by “Tablescape” as we could muster.
Groot attempts to hold off an Alien attack on one flank, whilst Ben Grimm decides its Clobberin' Time
Facing eight lethal Xenomorph warriors, including their leader Grid, as well as a unit of Alien Stalkers and Alien Infants, my opponent went for an odd mix of super-heroes with which to fend them off; including such notable "Marvel Worldwide" characters as The Thing and Mister Fantastic, alongside the fearsome Godzilla and smart-mouthed Rocket Raccoon. The game ended being rather long, and reasonably bloody, with the 'King Of The Monsters' somewhat surprisingly being overrun rather quickly on one of the heroes' flanks.

Fortunately, the likes of Man-Thing and Vampire-By-Night managed to steady the ship, whilst The Thing and Groot kept the other flank somewhat more secure. The fight was finally won by Reed Richard's 'Fantastic Ten' by only a handful of Victory Points, with the 'Man Of The Match' award going to Rocket Raccoon, after the gun-toting animal solidly held the centre throughout from atop a pile of wooden crates. 

Friday, 24 January 2020

Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2014 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint

The fifth article covering my favourite miniature manufacturers over the years, this period focused predominantly upon my obsession with World War Two, whether it be the odd 10mm Soviet tank by "Pendraken Miniatures", some 28mm Allied vehicles originally cast by "Bolt Action Miniatures", or a veritable horde of brain-hungry German zombies by "Westwind Productions". However, it also encapsulated a remarkable fascination with some of the smaller scales within the hobby, such as 6mm and 15mm, which seemed to stem from a desire to pigment a variety of Modern Day British forces, as well as some "Rogue Trader" era inspired 'space knights'.

No.10 (Joint) - "Bolt Action Miniatures" - "Bolt Action"
It’s incredible to think just how long this particular resin model of a British Daimler Dingo Mk II Scout Car was left languishing in my ‘To do’ pile. But considering that “Bolt Action’s splendid line of 28mm World War Two miniatures and vehicles” was sold to “Warlord Games” in late 2008, this resin automobile must have been sat gathering dust on my painting table for a good six years or so before being finished. Fortunately, despite having little interest in historical gaming, the scout car made a welcome armoured mobile unit for my allies “Weird War Two” force using the “Savage Worlds” rule-set by “Pinnacle Entertainment Group”.

No.10 (Joint) - "Warlord Games" - "Bolt Action"
Despite having little interest in actually playing Rick Priestley and Alessio Cavatore’s “Bolt Action” tabletop game itself, this “re-release from the BEF Miniatures range” was one of a small handful of vehicles I planned to add to my British Commonwealth forces for “Weird War Two”. However, unlike the partially-painted A11 Matilda Mark I Infantry Tank which was meant to accompany it, this “classic light truck” was not only completed, but actually saw some occasional battlefield action; albeit my Flying Standard 10' "Tilly" Truck's most enigmatic role was probably being a simple ‘prop’ for a game of “Zombie TV” by “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio”, which saw Doctor Who and U.N.I.T. battle an ever-increasing invasion of Cybermen….

No.8 - "Pendraken Miniatures" - "Alien Creatures"
Something of a mixed bag, but predominantly motivated by a desire to reinforce my H.R. Giger aliens with an alternative fast-moving unit, this Middlesbrough-based manufacturer initially caught my eye courtesy of their somewhat oversized 10mm Face Huggers. These diminutive parasitoids not only proved straightforward to paint, but fortuitously proved perfectly scaled to accompany my larger “Ground Zero Games” Xenomorphs in their bloody battle against Humankind. In addition, I was rather pleased to pigment a few stands of reinforcements for both my English Civil War Royalist Army, and Russian (winter) World War Two force.

No.7 - "Ground Zero Games" - "Xenomorphs"
Bearing an uncanny resemblance to H.R. Giger’s famous motion picture extra-terrestrials, these xenomorphs seemed the perfect opponents for my 15mm Prydian Army by “The Ion Age”, and finally saw some tabletop action as a sizeable antagonistic horde during the year despite actually being bought at “Colours” 2013. To make their journey to the battlefield even more remarkable though, a number of the figures were actually stripped in methylated spirits and re-painted during this period, whilst others were re-based from their original 40mm x 60mm rectangular stands onto some “Battlefront Miniatures” bases so as to better tie-in with a never-realised “Flames Of War” cross-over…

No.6 - "The Ion Age" - "The Prydian Army"
Strongly influenced by this 15mm range’s nostalgia-inducing similarities to the old “Rogue Trader” miniatures by “Games Workshop”, I returned from “Salute” 2014 with a rather sizeable consignment of these models and quickly set to work painting up a small(ish) force of Retained Knights and the Prydian Army Muster. Admittedly, I didn’t actually pigment these figures in their “famous red and white” uniforms, but my desire to field some proxy Crimson Fist Space Marines and Imperial Guard still saw a fair few of these figures on the tabletop, as well as a couple of vehicles.

No. 5 - "Pulp Figures" - "Boys In Blue"
Pigmented purely as a somewhat straightforward submission for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, as part of a Pulp-themed side-challenge, these ten Boys In Blue were supposedly the spearhead of a huge push of Bob Murch’s miniatures for the event featuring many more figures from the Canadian sculptor’s Gangland Justice Range. Sadly however, despite managing to include the first black police officer in New York City,  Sergeant Samuel J. Battle, as well as a vintage call box and fire hydrant into the mix, my momentum for this project disappointingly soon petered out just before the year’s end…

No.4 - "GHQ Models" - "Micro Armour"
As a wargamer I am somewhat prone to impulse purchases, and never has this weakness been more aptly demonstrated than by the Micro Armour boxed sets by “GHQ” I bought at “Colours” in 2011. Three years later and I finally started to plough my way through both my Modern British Combat Team and Modern Mujahadin/Al Qaeda Combat Team. These “super detailed 1:285 scale figures” were incredibly fun to paint, despite their eye-watering diminutive size, and I became so enthused with the range that I even managed to finish a fair few vehicles for my British forces as well.

No.3 - "Mongoose Publishing" - "Judge Dredd"
There can be little doubt that the 2012 “Judge Dredd” Kickstarter by “Mongoose Publishing” had both a positive and negative impact upon my hobby. True, the tardiness in the company's sculpting, casting and delivery of their supporters’ numerous pledges would debatably ruin their reputation. But it also provided me with an opportunity to slowly pick my way through a number of Street Judges, two versions of “Old Stony Face” himself, and the arch-nemesis of Mega-City One’s toughest lawman, Judge Death. I even managed to pigment Nu-Earth’s last surviving Genetic Infantryman, despite having wisely ‘backed out’ from Mongoose Matt’s calamitous “Rogue Trooper” Kickstarter at the last minute…

No.2 - "Westwind Productions" - "Secrets Of The Third Reich"
Thoroughly enthused by the “Weird War Two” setting for “Savage Worlds” by “Pinnacle Entertainment Group”, and the sheer range of supernatural forces on offer by “Westwind Productions” and their “Secrets Of The Third Reich” miniature range, it was probably inevitable I was going to end up painting a significant number of zombies for my battlefield; both German and Soviet. In addition, the Oldham-based manufacturer also lured me into their darkly Gothic Steampunk Victorian setting, with four well-sculpted London Bobbies from their tremendously successful Kickstarter “Empire Of The Dead: Requiem”.

No.1 - "Wizkids" - "Heroclix"
Undoubtedly inspired by several battle reports utilising the “7TV” rule-set by “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio”, and much more “Marvel Worldwide” focused than “DC Comics”, my collection of re-painted (and re-based) plastic “Wizkids” models saw its numbers significantly swell throughout 2014. However, it arguably wasn’t until the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge towards the very end of the year that I truly ‘knuckled down’ with my “Heroclix” and polished off a small raiding force of U-Men to follow the Black Manta, as well as a trio of Dreadnought robots to do the bidding of Ultron.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

“Destroy And Rejoice!”

"We are better... different than human beings."
This "easy-build plastic" Dalek model is produced by “Warlord Games” and can be assembled from the plastic sprues found within either the "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" "fast-paced tabletop miniatures game" or the “Davros And The New Dalek Empire” Expansion Set. Created by Terry Nation (and Raymond Cusick) in 1963, this particular variant of the Kaled's Mark III travel machine is based upon their Time War shell and first appeared in the April 2005 BBC Television series story "Dalek".

Due to the Kaled mutant not coming with any base, the drone was first super-glued onto a 40mm lipped circular stand, and only then primed with "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, before being treated to a double coat of Brass. The human-sized pepper pot was then washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, and given a hearty dry-brush of (more) "Vallejo" Brass.
"Doctor Who: Exterminate!" WIPs - These three drones will be painted as Axis Strike Squad Daleks
With the 'basic' painting phase completed, I decided to slightly convert this particular Dalek by cutting off his control arm, and re-positioning it, courtesy of drilling a small hole in the model. The figure is to be my entry cost (or "Curtgeld") for the Tenth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, so I wanted to make it a little different from the other 'off-the-shelf' Dalek's you can buy.

Once the piece was firmly re-attached, I ‘picked out’ the Kaled mutant's eye stalks, 'sink plunger' and multi-range variable power destructor using a combination of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil. Finally, I pigmented its audio scanners with a dash of "Vallejo" White and Pale Grey, as well as tidied up the Metaltron's fender with "Citadel" Abaddon Black.
"Doctor Who: Exterminate!" WIPs - These Ogrons are slowly having all their details 'picked out'
Staying with the inhabitants of Skaro's nuclear wasteland, I have assembled, based and primed three more "Warlord Games" Dalek drones to represent an Axis Strike Squad. These Daleks with black domes and sense globes invaded and conquered the "hub that held the structure of damaged or truncated realities" in the "Big Finish" audio series "Gallifrey".

In addition, I have made some more progress on the last of my Ogrons. These "ape-like hominids" have had all their leather straps, belts, wristbands and holsters 'picked out' using a mixture of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, and are slowly having their shirt sleeves pigmented in "Vallejo" Iraqi Sand.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

"One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor."

 "It's Black Gates are guarded by more than just Orcs."
This 28mm scale "white metal figure" of Sterling The Wandering Knight is produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and can be bought from the company's "Toon Realms" range as an adventurer "for use with The Caverns of The Frog King Adventure Module." Sculpted by Steve Saleh, I have painted him as Boromir, the eldest son of Denethor II, so as to be able to field him as a 'Lord Of The Toons' Hero (Single Model Unit) for “Dragon Rampant” by "Osprey Games".

Originally primed with two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black,  the older brother of Faramir was treated to two coats of Ironbreaker before being drenched in Nuln Oil and dry-brushed using (more) Ironbreaker. I then 'cleaned up' his shield with some additional "Abaddon Black" and treated his sword hilt and helmet to a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, Gold and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade.
The Thing and Black Panther make short work of an alien warrior and some stalkers
The High Warden of the White Tower had his face initially 'picked out' with some "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone, and was subsequently washed with "Citadel" Reikland Fleshshade before receiving some "Vallejo" Heavy Skintone highlights. Finally, his belt was given a lick of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and Strong Tone Quickshade by "The Army Painter", whilst his feathered plume was pigmented "Vallejo" White and later splashed with Pale Grey.

I'm hoping to attend the LVL Up Gaming Store in Bournemouth at least once a month this year, and took advantage of my most recent visit to trial some quickly thought homemade rules for H.R. Giger's aliens. Initially I had panned for the slavering extra-terrestrials to face off against an increasing number of "Marvel Comics" most famous superheroes, but rather embarrassingly forget to bring the Avengers statistics with me.
The Human Torch lights up the alien menace with a series of fireballs
As a result, we had to settle for a series of smaller-sized skirmish games across an industrial furnace complex which arguably far better suited the super-powered long range abilities of the Fantastic Four (and Black Panther) than it did the somewhat faster, but vulnerable at a distance Xenomorphs. Fortunately, such disadvantages didn't stop some 'stand out' moments occurring within our games, such as The Thing charging straight into the nearest alien warrior and relying solely upon his thick brick hide to protect him from the creature's acid blood, or the Black Panther dispatching a gaggle of nightmarish stalkers only to then later succumb to his close combat injuries.

Perhaps the evening's biggest star though was Johnny Storm, whose 'untouchable' flight ability definitely helped Mister Fantastic's super-group keep the aliens at bay whenever they seemed likely to break through the line of heroes through sheer weight of numbers. Able to fly almost within touching distance of the Xenomorphs, the Human Torch repeatedly whittled down the fast-approaching warrior drones with a hail of fire-balls, and certainly gave me food-for-thought as to how I could better balance flying units within my homemade rule-set "M.I.S.S."...

Friday, 17 January 2020

"Theoretically, The Corpse Of Any Living Creature Can Be Turned Into A Zombie."

"But, for whatever reason, most necromancers find humanoid subjects to be far easier to reanimate."
This 63mm tall metal model of a Zombie Snow Troll is manufactured by “North Star Military Figures” and can be bought as code FGV316 from their “Frostgrave" Range. According to Joseph A. McCullough's lore for the Frozen City these undead monsters are “a popular choice for a death mage looking to add a little strength to his forces”, and whilst zombie trolls are “not quite as tough as their living counterparts”, they “are still creatures to be feared.”

Although I’m a big fan of Mark Copplestone’s official paint scheme for the miniature, I actually thought the palette chosen was a little too dark-skinned for my taste, so I primed my model “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey in the hope of becoming reacquainted with my preferred zombie colour scheme from six years ago.  The living corpse was then drenched in “Citadel” Biel-Tan Green and dry-brushed using some (more) “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey.
"Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures" WIPs - The Earth Elemental has been primed, shaded and dry-brushed
I also decided that I wanted the troll's shaggy fur to be brown, so applied a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade to the large clump of hair partially covering its back. For the rotting behemoth's visible intestines, I first applied a layer of "Vallejo" Squid Pink and then washed its guts with "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson. Some of this Shade spilt onto the monster's rancid flesh, so I used a piece of sponge to dapple the area around the gash in the creature's side with even more Carroburg Crimson.

This technique seemed to work well to suggest the skin was mottled and bruised, so I extended my sponge-work across the figure where appropriate. I then tackled the beast's huge partially-exposed skull by layering it with "Vallejo" White, shading it using some Strong Tone Quickshade by "The Army Painter", and finally dry-brushing it with (more) "Vallejo" White. Once dry, I similarly treated parts of the bone to some "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson.
"Toon Realms" WIPs - Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths are ready for a series of lighter dry-brushes
Finally, I 'picked out' the troll's eye socket with a dollop of "Vallejo" Heavy Red, and then sponged on plenty of "Citadel" Bloodletter across areas of its decomposing body, head and matted fur. With the gore finished, I glued a double helping of "Citadel" Snow around the plastic 40mm circular base in order for the hulking zombie to fit in alongside the rest of my "Frostgrave" collection.

Working on such a considerably-sized figure has momentarily given me a real taste for pigmenting large models, so with some gusto I have also been working on a plastic Earth Elemental from “Wizkids” increasingly impressive Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range. In addition, I have taken receipt of eight Lord Rascal's Ghostly Wraiths by "Lucid Eye Publications", and immediately primed, washed and dry-brushed the "Toon Realms" ghosts...

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

"The Guards Of The Gate Were Robed In Black..."

"...And their helms were of strange shape, high-crowned, with long cheek-guards close-fitting to the face..."
These five "cartoon scale" white metal figures of King Victor's Royal Guard are produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and can be bought from the company's "Toon Realms" range as a pack of four miniatures. Sculpted by Steve Saleh, I have painted the warriors in the colours of the Guards of the Tower of Gondor so as to field a six-figure strong unit of (Elite Foot) Guards of the Citadel for “Dragon Rampant” by "Osprey Games".
"...And above the cheek-guards were set the white wings of sea-birds."
Initially primed with two coats of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, these personal bodyguards to the twenty-sixth ruling Steward of Gondor were dry-brushed using some "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal and subsequently washed in "Citadel" Nuln Oil. They then had their boots and spear shafts layered with "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, and their belt buckles, spears and helmets delicately dabbed in Gold. All of these areas were later washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade to dampen down their pigment's vigour.

The Tower Guards' helmets, armours, chain-mail, shield emblems and spear-tips were treated to a combination of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil. These parts were later delicately dry-brushed with (more) Ironbreaker. Finally, each knight’s linen surcoat and feathers were ‘picked out’ in “Vallejo” White and ‘shaded’ with a tiny amount of Pale Grey.
"Toon Realms" WIPs - Sterling has been washed with "Citadel" Nuln Oil and then dry-brushed with Ironbreaker
Despite having now finished enough "Toon Realms" figures with which to field both a 26 point Undead and opposing Gondor/Fangorn army for "Dragon Rampant", I still have a couple more models manufactured by "Lucid Eye Publications" which I am working on, most notably a characterful sculpt of Sterling the Wandering Knight. This marvellous looking miniature will make a good proxy for the eldest son of Denethor II, Boromir, for my 'Lord of the Toons' project, and having already been primed, shaded and dry-brushed, just needs some of his details to be 'picked out'...
"Kings Of War" WIPs - The Ahmunite Pharaoh is slowly having all his armour coated with "Vallejo" Gold
Significantly far less agreeable to pigment has been the leader of my Empire of Dust "Kings Of War" force, an Ahmunite Pharaoh. This metal 'Lord of the Two Lands' by "Mantic Games" is proving particularly difficult to progress on account of the flimsy nature of its two hand-weapons, which persistently seem to want to bend in half with just the slightest contact from my paint brush.

Indeed, I've already lost count how many times the figure's Egyptian khopesh and 'axe' have almost snapped off whilst I've been applying the tiniest amount of verdigris to the undead corpse's bronze hand-weapons. In addition, despite heavily watering-down my "Vallejo" Gold and applying it as multiple thin coats, the sculpt's soft detail is still being lost, and as a result I have already abandoned my plan to 'highlight' some of the ancient warrior's armour with a smidgen of Turquoise...

Monday, 13 January 2020

“At The Beginning Of This War, Megalomania Was The Only Form Of Sanity.”

"Politics is more dangerous than war, for in war you are only killed once."
This 28mm scale model of Winston Churcill is produced by “Warlord Games”, and came free as a special edition figure when I ordered the "Bolt Action" Second Edition Campaign book "Operation Sea Lion" direct from the Nottingham-based manufacturer's web store. Sculpted to represent "the most stalwart of British Prime Ministers" during an inspection of invasion defences near Hartlepool, on July 21st 1940, the single cast figure comes armed with a .45 calibre Thompson Sub Machine Gun. 

Initially, I had contemplated simply painting the miniature predominantly black, and just giving "the roaring lion" a dry-brush of "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal in order to provide some straightforward shading. However, having spotted a colourised version of the politician carrying the Tommy Gun and wearing a distinctly grey pinstriped suit, I decided to prime the model using some Dark Grey instead.
"Doctor Who" WIPs - A Time Wars drone, the Dalek Interrogator Prime, and a Dalek Scientist
The former army officer was then washed in "Citadel" Nuln Oil and dry-brushed with (more) "Vallejo" Dark Grey. I did momentarily consider trying to 'draw on' the formal suit's eye-watering vertical pattern, but quickly chose to leave well enough alone, and instead just 'picked out' Churchill's shoes and hat with a couple of coats of "Citadel" Abaddon Black.

Winston's hair, cigar and rifle butt were pigmented using a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. Whilst the rest of his firearm was treated to some "Citadel" Ironbreaker and a splash of Nuln Oil. Finally, the member of parliament had his handkerchief, shirt and cuffs marked out with a tiny amount of "Vallejo" White.
"Empire Of Dust" WIPs - The swarms contain scarab beetles, scorpions, snakes and large flies
Sticking with "Warlord Games" figures, I have made some significant progress on three of their plastic Daleks for the "Doctor Who: Exterminate" miniatures game. Two of the Mark III travel machines actually follow those of the Dalek Interrogator Prime and Dalek Scientist as imagined in the audio plays by "Big Finish", whereas the third will simply be a slightly converted Time Wars drone.

Lastly, I've based and primed an Empire of Dust swarm regiment for the BlackJack Legacy Slow Grow "Kings of War" Army Challenge. Originally I had thought these three square stands of scarab beetles would be a reasonably simple way to attain 60pts for the tabletop. But once I'd actually perused the metal sculpts in more detail, it has quickly become clear that each base contains far more than just the stout-bodied insects...

Friday, 10 January 2020

"Gondor! Gondor, Between The Mountains And The Sea!"

"West wind blew there; the light upon the Silver Tree fell like bright rain in gardens of the Kings of old."
These eight "cartoon scale" white metal figures of King Victor's Men-at-Arms are produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and can be bought from the company's "Toon Realms" range as a pack of four identical miniatures. Sculpted by Steve Saleh, I have painted them all in the colours of Gondor so as to be able to finally field a twelve-model strong unit of (Heavy Foot) Minas Tirith Knights for “Dragon Rampant” by "Osprey Games".

Initially undercoated with two layers of "Citadel" Abaddon Black, the Third Age warriors were dry-brushed using some "Vallejo" Heavy Charcoal in order to bring out some of their large cloaks' detail, and subsequently washed in "Citadel" Nuln Oil. The soldiers' boots were then treated to a touch of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, whilst their sword hilts and belt buckles were given a lick of Gold.
"O proud walls! White towers! O winged crown and throne of gold!"
Both of these areas were later washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. Finally I 'picked out' the Men-at-Arms' helmets, neck armour, chain-mail and shield emblems using a combination of "Citadel" Ironbreaker and Nuln Oil, and eventually dry-brushed these parts with (more) Ironbreaker.

Setting aside my 'Lord of the Toons' project, I have managed to 'endure' my first taste of "skirmish combat in the Mortal Realms" using my Iron Golems against the Untamed Beasts. Perhaps unsurprisingly things did not go terribly well for my "Warcry" warband, as there are clearly some formidable synergies to understand in order to utilise each factions' special abilities and Runemarks.
The Iron Golems appeared to be repeatedly outnumbered in their skirmishes, even when helped by a Chaotic Beast
There also seems to be a significant amount of luck to be found before the game has even started, as a result of the random terrain layout, victory conditions, twist deck and battleplans; most of which are drawn prior to any battle-hammer being swung in anger. In my first game, I disappointingly discovered just three of my hapless fighters along one table-edge would be facing the vast majority of my opponent's force, and to make matters worse, they immediately needed to push through this wall of bristling weapons so as to avoid being instantly removed from the game as casualties because they were within 4 inches of an edge...

Needless to say, the trio were quickly butchered before help could arrive; albeit my duardin armator making a stand rather than fleeing for his life, wasn't the smartest of strategies on my behalf. Unfortunately though, I felt the second scenario was similarly stacked against me, as my opponent had to just outnumber me at a single objective marker every turn so they could destroy some of the battle's way-points. Simple stuff when my warband was distributed right across the battlefield, whilst the Untamed Beasts' formation was significantly more concentrated...

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

“Iron Golems Were Constructs Made Entirely Out Of Iron.”

"These iron behemoths were very powerful, thanks to their magic immunity, [and] poisonous breath attack..."
This 54mm tall model of an Iron Golem is produced by “Wizkids” and can be bought from their Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures range. “Highly detailed… primed and ready to paint out of the box”, the artificially constructed creature made its first appearance in the original 1975 "Greyhawk" supplement written by Gary Gygax and Robert J. Kuntz, and “could take a hero’s head off with a swipe of their arm.”

Amongst the strongest types of Golem, the figure was originally treated to a couple of coats of “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna and subsequently dry-brushed quite heavily with “Citadel” Ironbreaker. I then drenched the entire animated object with “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade. This helped blend the brown and metallic paints together so as to create a rusty, time-worn look to the large creature.
"Nolzur's Marvellous Miniatures" WIPs - The Iron Golem was primed, dry-brushed and washed
“Three times as strong as a Flesh Golem”, the model was dry-brushed with (more) “Citadel” Ironbreaker and dabbed with “Mig Productions" Extreme Rust Wash. This product produces a nice rusty orange stain, so specifically targeted the miniature’s joints and gaps between its armour plating. The entire ensemble was then light dry-brushed with (even more) “Citadel” Ironbreaker in order to help blend the Rust Wash in with the metallic areas.

Where I was unhappy with the stain’s final result, I went back in with some “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna and then simply (re)dry-brushed these tidied-up areas with “Citadel” Ironbreaker. I also had the chance to try out my new Psycho brush by “The Army Painter”, courtesy of applying an incredibly thin line of “Vallejo” Dark Vermillion into the Iron Golem’s two very narrow eye slits. Finally, because I wanted to try and draw attention to this area, I then applied a line of “Citadel” Ironbreaker to the construct’s eyebrows…
"In times of war, the mages will raise the husks and remains of the creatures that inhabited the dunes..."
In addition to my latest “Dungeons & Dragons” figure, I’ve managed to finish off a significantly smaller model in the guise of a 28mm scale skeleton for my Empire of Dust “Kings of War” army. However, rather than exclusively populate my Spearman unit with well-armed bleach-boned cadavers, I’ve started the ten-figure regiment off with the deceased animal corpse that can be found on the “Mantic Games” plastic Undead Skeleton Troop frame.

Primed with a double coat of “Vallejo” Iraqi Sand, the two-piece creature was shaded with The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade and dry-brushed using (more) “Vallejo” Iraqi Sand. I then gave the critter a much lighter dry-brush of White, before picking out its collar with a combination of Gold and Strong Tone Quickshade. According to an old "Mantic Games" 2009 news post entitled "Pet Wars!", the skeleton is meant to be a dog, but as my Undead force will have a distinctly Egyptian feel, I figured it could be a cat…

Monday, 6 January 2020

“To Isengard With Doom We Come!”

"To land of gloom with tramp of doom, with roll of drum, we come, we come..."
These eight 23mm tall "cartoon scale white metal figures" of Grove’s Shrubs are produced by “Lucid Eye Publications” and can be brought from the company's "Toon Realms" range. Sculpted by Trish Carden to be the Shrub Henchmen for Yewan the Treeman, I actually thought these miniatures would make some excellent-looking Ents for my ongoing 'Lord Of The Toons' project using the "Dragon Rampant" rule-set by "Osprey Games".

Initially primed with a double layer of "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, the talking trees were 'immersed' in "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade and later dry-brushed using (more) "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna, as well as (the somewhat lighter) "Vallejo" Heavy Brown. I then 'picked out' their leafy beards using a combination of "Vallejo" Heavy Green and "Citadel" Biel-Tan Green.
"Some of my kin look just like trees now, and need something great to rouse them."
Finally, the ancient shepherds of Fangorn Forest had their eyes 'dotted' using a tiny spot of "Vallejo" Heavy Ochre" and the fungi living on their backs treated to a lick of "Vallejo" Heavy Red. These oyster-shaped toadstools were subsequently shaded using a splash of "Citadel" Carroburg Crimson, before each ensemble was tidied up, courtesy of either some additional “Vallejo” Heavy Sienna, Heavy Brown and/or dash of “The Army Painter” Strong Tone Quickshade.

With two units of Lesser Warbeasts completed, I also turned my attention to one of a handful of free miniatures “Lucid Eye Publications” have kindly sent me as part of my recent orders with their company. These figures all consist of the self-same wizard sat atop a dice whilst smoking a pipe, and whilst not quite as cartoonish in style as the manufacturer’s other “Toon Realms” sculpts, they certainly seem to still fit the genre quite nicely.   
"A dark power has found its way back into the world."
As a result I’ve decided to utilise the models as statues/objective markers for my games of “Dragon Rampant”, and paint them so as to represent a variety of materials. To begin with, I thought I’d prime the wizard with some "Vallejo" Heavy Sienna and subsequently treat him to a double coat of Brass. The figurine was then heavily washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade, and dry-brushed with more "Vallejo" Brass.

To give the idol some ‘weathering’ I applied plenty of "Citadel" Nihilakh Oxide over the miniature, and later ‘blended’ this in with the rest of the colour scheme by giving it a second dry-brush of "Vallejo" Brass. Lastly, I pigmented the 28mm “Games Workshop” circular base beneath the wizard using “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey, as well as a mixture of “Citadel” Nuln Oil, Biel-Tan Green and Agrax Earthshade, before dry-brushing the ‘stone plinth’ with more “Vallejo” Heavy Bluegrey.

Friday, 3 January 2020

(Lead) Mountain Musings - "Kings Of War" January 2020

"The souls of the damned are released from their prison to drive the unit towards its foe."
This month's themed attempt to reduce my mass of metal, plastic and resin models has been significantly fuelled by the BlackJack Legacy Slow Grow Army Challenge over on “Facebook”. Weighing in at over two hundred participants the eight month long event has been created to inspire gamers to paint a 2,000 point army for “Kings Of War” by “Mantic Games”, and will see me desperately try to pigment an Empire of Dust force at a (probably overly-ambitious) rate of 250 points per month.

For once though, I’m actually off to something of a quick start, having already finished a metal Casket of the Damned for my first unit of Skeleton Warriors. Costing 10 points, this army special upgrade will accompany my ten-figure strong infantry unit across the battlefield, and once per game, allow me to "roll an additional six dice" when "this unit is targeted by a Surge spell..."
"Kings Of War" WIPs - The Ahmunite Pharaoh is slowly having all his details 'picked out'
The 28mm scale miniature comes inside every "Mantic Games" Skeleton Regiment box, and was primed using a double layer of "Vallejo" Gold before being heavily washed with "The Army Painter" Strong Tone Quickshade. I then dry-brushed it with some (more) "Vallejo" Gold and gave parts of its relief sculpture a splash of colour using a lick of Turquoise and "Citadel" Drakenhof Nightshade. Lastly, in an attempt to show the ravages of the desert sand upon the 'prison', I dabbed (even more) "Vallejo" Gold over the container's front facing, so as to give the impression of its pigmentation fading across the aeons...

Of course, every army needs its leader, and considering the decidedly Egyptian feel to the Empire of Dust, I have gone for an Ahmunite Pharaoh. The multi-part figure was actually something of a pain to assemble, as its kit comes complete with the additional components to turn it into a High Priest; and all of them are unbelievably delicate to handle. Indeed, I actually ended up having to significantly pin the fellow together, as super-glue alone simply wasn't providing a strong enough bond between his limbs and torso to survive even the most timid of touches.
Wargame Hobby Bingo
Disconcertingly, I've suffered similar problems assembling my actual Skeleton Warriors and Skeleton Spearman too, where the generic plastic undead legs and torsos don't really seem to like being bonded with the Empire of Dust metal components. Each separate body, head, shield and even occasional arm, has literally needed to be left overnight before I have been able to add an additional piece to the precarious ensemble. And such a long-winded build has proved both incredibly time-consuming and deflating...

Assembly frustrations aside, I'm also hoping to maintain my positive progress with the Wargame Hobby Bingo Challenge squares I set myself five months ago. I've somehow managed to haphazardly complete ten of the tasks without paying particular attention to the trials themselves, and most recently successfully achieved both 'painting a new unit that can be used in multiple game systems', as well as 'adding a new unit to your army, and completely painting it before using it on the battlefield' with my "Games Workshop" Iron Golem warband for "Warcry"/"Age Of Sigmar", and some (as yet unposted) "Lucid Eye Publications" Grove's Shrubs for "Dragon Rampant.