Skeletons and Lemures

It’s October, so what better time to paint some more undead. Click to embiggen.

The first set here are figures from the D&D “DragonStrike” board game. The detail on these guys is kind of shallow. Some of the DragonStrike figures are pretty clearly based on Ral Partha designs, but as far as I know these are not. They are pretty unique really — scythes, which are commonly associated with skeletons in the Warhammer world but not so much in D&D, and headgear that sort of recalls the art of Brom that was associated with Dark Sun. I decided that with the partial bandaging they might be at home with mummies and the Eureka skeletons I posted last time, so I made their metal all bronze. Otherwise a very simple color scheme. Their red garments and brown weapon hafts were painted with some Heritage Models paint that is more than 35 years old!

These four skeleton swordsmen painted up really fast. On the left, two Ral Partha models, on the right, two Heritage skeletons — one is from the Cavern of Doom set, and the other from the Crypt of the Sorcerer. Both broke long ago and I’ve replaced the sword on the leftmost with a bit of paper and wire, and the the far right one has the hand and scimitar from another RP skeleton.

Lastly, two Reaper Bones lemures. It was really quick to paint these too, basically just a Caucasian “flesh” base coat followed by a red wash and some pink highlights. These guy are much more bloated than the old Monster Manual illustration and if anything, more gross. Lemures are sort of the bridge between the undead and devils, being confined to the nine hells, but liable to be promoted to wraith or spectre. There was always ambiguity in the Monster Manual about the exact status of certain creatures, and I kind of prefer that to the stricter taxonomy imposed by later editions of D&D, where everything has one or more tags that define them as specific types.

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Published in: on October 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Eureka!

These are probably the only minis from Eureka that I own. I picked them up quite a while ago, partly because skeletons are among my favorite subjects and partly because they were super cheap affordable. It took me a while to get around to assembling them — the have separately cast arms. While I admire the flexibility of poses, I couldn’t help noticing how incredibly thin the arms and legs are. For the arms, I made sure their weapons or shields had some point in contact with the base or the figure itself, but the for the legs I couldn’t imagine them withstanding even gentle handling so I added a metal post running from the base up their “skirts.” I’ve done this to repair other figures over the years, especially skeletons. It’s not ideal, aesthetically, but it does make for a fairly solid repair.

The equipment is recognizably Egyptian in style, though not necessarily strictly historical. The sickles are certainly fantasy, and the scale armor (which might in fairness also have been leather rather than bronze) would be unusual but not unknown. The spearmen have typical “kilts” with a a heavy fold in the front that at least some sources claim served as groin protection, and the padded head dresses would offer some protection at least from cuts. Their main defense would be the shield of course. Their spears seem reasonable to me, and the shields look right for later periods (earlier Egyptian troops would have larger cowhide shields; these rimmed shields would be later, lie the “New Kingdom” period. All in all, I would have rather seen swords (kopesh or straight) or axes (either the narrow hatchet type or larger mace-axes) instead of the sickles. I do dig the Powerslave vibe their skull faces give though. I tried to freehand an “eye of Horus” on their shields.

About the same time as I painted these, I painted a few other skeleton types that were gathering dust.

Oh, hello Mr. Bones, I dropped by to pick up a reason

“Mr. Bones,” was part of a Reaper Kickstarter. I didn’t contribute to it, but a friend sent me some of the minis from it he wasn’t planning to use. He could be a good addition to the Skeleton Recruiting Party, or just serve as a “crypt thing” out of the Fiend Folio.

This poor soul was also a gifted miniature I got several years back from a guy I don’t even know but who was moved to find a good home for his neglected minis (The Galloway Memorial Home for Wayward and Neglected Miniatures is accepting lodgers BTW). I had one copy of this that broke many years ago (though he is based lying down for use as dungeon dressing). It’s a fun miniature, and oddly enough Ral Partha also released a skeleton “casualty” around the same time. It’s a pretty simple figure but the pose is good and the detail is sufficient. The flash on my phone at this range really washed out the shadows though.

Thirdly, this lich was always one of my favorite minis, probably because my original copy was stolen long, long ago. Another online friend sent me this — I can’t remember if we’d traded something or this was just a gratuitous gift. I was reluctant to paint him, but finally went ahead and he came out a little more colorful than my original plan, but as I painted him and touched up some other liches, I decided that they should be relatively fancy, considering they were once wizards or high priests. I always thought the medallion he’s wearing looks like a nose, and was tempted to paint it flesh tone. But maybe it’s a gilt false nose like Tycho Brahe wore?  I also tried to put a crown on his bag, because there was no way I could write out “Crown Royal” at this scale.

And here he is with three other Grenadier liches I touched up. I have a few more that still need some work. The second from the left was painted by someone else a long time ago, and had no shading, so while I kept the color scheme for most part (adding blond hair since the original paint job had his hair and the fur on his cape all one color) I added a lot of shading with a wash. The one to his left had the bones left primer grey, so he’d look more like a dusty, desiccated corpse.

I couldn’t help but re-evaluate some of my older skeleton minis while I was at this and decided to touch several of them up too. Many were painted in my “everything gets a heavy black wash and no highlighting” phase so they mostly needed highlights added, which was also convenient because the same areas were most prone to having had the paint rub off over the years anyway. The guy on the far right just had his face and horns painted white but is otherwise I painted him in the late 1980s. I’d just discovered that the Polly-S “Oily black” paint, if left unmixed, was a great black wash and over-used it on tons of minis. There are a bunch of Grenadiers, and a couple of Denizen (the only Denizen minis in my collection AFAIK — but I just found out they’re still in production!), as well as a couple of Ral Partha. The halberdier and the short guy both have wire reinforcement between their legs, like the Eureka mins above, because they broke off at the ankles long ago. Shorty also has a new arm made of a scrap of lead sprue with an axe made from the axehead from another broken mini and sliver of toothpick. Although he’s been touched up many times over the years, he deserves recognition as the VERY FIRST mini I ever painted, maybe in 1982. His mail still has some blue visible (I painted steel blue and gold yellow because I didn’t have metallic paints — I’d later leave metal bare  of swords and armor for many years as I slowly accumulated paints). Anyway I decided to try painting him because he looked easy (his arm was originally aloft with a short sword) and he turned out well enough for me to decide I wasn’t “ruining” my minis by painting them. Though that’s still debatable. 🙂

Published in: on September 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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More knights & men at arms

These are all Heritage models. Sort of. Left to right, the first guy is from the “Chivalry” line, produced under the brand name Custom Cast, while the rest are from Heritage’s Knights & Magick line. But the the first three were all cast more recently by Classic Miniatures, which is strenuously trying to reproduce all of Heritage’s lines, in so far as masters can be found to create new molds. The website is still down but you can find them on Ye Booke of Faces. I especially like that Classic Miniatures is bothering to actually get secure the rights/licences required to recast. I understand a certain Italian company that bought out Grenadier’s molds is not respecting the fact that some lines belong to their original sculptors and have been ignoring cease & desist letters for years. 😦

ANYWAY the guy in the center with a greatsword is really nicely done. The plume or favor attached to his helmet supports the blade of his sword, so I think he’d have survived from the old days even if he weren’t a more recent casting.

The last two, on the far right, are men-at-arms. I really need to do better with shields. For nor I just try respect the convention that metals (white, yellow) and colors (the remaining possible colors) must always be separated. (You shouldn’t have blue on red, say, or white on yellow, but always color of metal or metal on color). I actually do have a few books on heraldry I should consult for better designs.

The guy with the axe was an early favorite of mine, but the original casting my brother got ages ago broke. This recast makes it pretty clear why — the axe head is kind of badly sculpted, and slightly crooked, so you’d be tempted to bend it straight, but the point of connection is rather thin and it would break. I’ll leave this one a little crooked. Here’s the old one, with a replacement axe, I posted a while ago, next to another man-at-arms:

 

The next two are somewhat more recent. On the left, a plastic officer from the Zvedza “Ring of Rule” line (a short-lived fantasy venture by a company that mostly does soft plastic 1/72 historicals). The Ring of Rule sounds like a Tolkien rip-off, but actually referred a circle of wizards in the background materials for the wargame. The setting had Orku, orcs that are seven or eight feet tall in minis scale; a Cursed Legion of undead Imeprial Roman types; a late medieval human kingdom this guy was from; and elves that had some bitching hippogriffin cavalry. So somewhat Tolkien, but probably more of a Warhammer ripoff.

Anyway he’s just a little big for 25mm but not the “heroic” 28 to 32 mm scale you see today. I think Zvedza made these in the early 2000s, when 28mm+ was already de rigeour which is maybe why they didn’t do so well. The last guy, I’m thinking, is a Julie Guthrie “Personalities” figure from Grenadier, or possibly something she did for Ral Partha? He has an extra active pose, though, which I don’t usually see in her work, so maybe I’m wrong about. <Update: two minutes after posting this, I checked Partha’s site and yes, he was Ral Partha, paladin with sword and shield. He’s now “DF-159” but I’m not sure what range would have been originally, or who the sculptor is.>

Published in: on September 21, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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Some old and new

Not great photos, but good enough I guess. To be fair the paint jobs are kind of simplistic too — very mono-color, but this gets them done faster.

The first two were featured earlier in the “Plastic Surgery Disasters” posts I did a while back.

Skeletor is mostly made from parts for GW Chaos Mauraders; his head is from the Frostgrave cultists set. The limited color pallet for him was intentional, of course — following more or less what I found in images of the cartoon. I never cared for Masters of the Universe as a kid. I was slightly older than the target demo anyway, though I still played with Star Wars and similar action figures well after my peers probably did. I think I was in third or fourth grade when MotU appeared.

The spearman’s arms, head, and torso are also GW Marauder, while his legs are from a Battle Masters thug, his shield is an old Citadel plastic shield for their Chaos Warriors, and his spearhead is from a Zvedza set (the dagger meant for a giant orc).

These two are much older and made of lead/tin.  On the left, a Grenadier knight with a poleaxe, from the period after they lost the AD&D license. Andrew Chernak’s sculpting showed some marked improvement. He’s from a set of knights and men-at-arms, I think (I got him separately not too long ago). That box shows a slightly different variant, with a crest on his helmet. Next to him is a Heritage “Dungeon Dweller” fighter. Way back in the 80s I traded figures a bit with my friends, and one friend I think traded me all his figures (a bunch of Dungeon Dwellers) for cash, comics, or maybe records. I don’t really recall what now, but he had lost interest in figures, and I ended up with a bunch of fighters and elves.

These all still need to get their bases flocked, but I’ll wait until the next batch is ready (more knights!). I have finally begun to give some attention to bases, and you can see that the two metal guys have had their bases built up a little (with grout) so the cast-on bases are less noticeable. I hope the flock will help improve the look too.

Published in: on September 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Another (new to me) artist and a couple of sites for researching such things

I picked up the Budos Band’s “Burnt Offering” at the library, mainly because I liked the cover art and had heard one of their songs on the Cracked Podcast. In some idle time before work I decided to see who the cover artist was. All that’s on the CD case was a monogram of the initial BP, and I didn’t see any matches on here (which is really better for older artists, and I don’t know of any really good resource on illustrators, maybe because the art worlds looks down on illustration) so I checked the Discogs page for the album and found the name — Brian Profilio, who also happens to the band’s drummer. Maybe this is all common knowledge for fans of the band. Anyway his art page has some great stuff, and I thought, this looks like a D&D player’s sketchbook when I got to the pencil sketches, and of course the last page was a miniatures gallery with a lot of Games Workshop stuff but also a few older minis well, mostly in cool dioramas. Small world. Here are couple of the images from his site; go check it out.

 

The Budos Band is sort of a funk band, with some Ethiopian and heavy metal influences. The mix of sounds, and size of the band (there are nine members on Burnt Offerings) reminds me of 1970s soundtracks, but better.

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sick day painting

I left work a bit early Friday because I need to get over a cold ASAP because I have bunch of things starting Sunday for work. I rested up, woke up in the middle of the night, and decided to paint to kill time. So in a few hours I finished some figures I’d primed a while ago, and also repaired a couple of broken skeletons. I sealed them all this morning and will probably finish their bases with some texture and flocking tonight, but I photographed them with my phone with unfinished bases.

The main group are some Grenadier halberdiers. I had one from BITD, though he broke long ago. I found three more for sale for a buck a piece at a games store in a box with a lot of really old and badly bent or broken figures (the balrog from a few posts back is from the same batch). I hadn’t realized Grenadier made two variants of the halberdier. The Lost Minis Wiki shows the bearded variant as part of the set but my version had the mailed one. (I don’t think the mailed variant is rare, but both DnD Lead and Lost Minis only show the bearded one).

As all were broken, only one has an original halberd head (I just realized the two variants had some differences in the halberd head too; technically mine is on the wrong guy). The rest have plastic halberd or spear heads from a Zvedza “Ring of Rule” set which had lots of extra bits. They spear heads are huge, but might pass as ox-tongue partisans. The plastic halberd is also pretty outrageously large, but this is fantasy. Their leader is a later Grenadier fighter with a poleaxe (really a pole hammer).

It’s kind of interesting to note that the mailed variant has roundels on the polearm haft, like a poleaxe might have (though honestly I’ve never seen two roundels like that, and question how helpful the rearmost one would be).

I went pretty fast through these, just painting to the old “wargame” standard, with very little highlighting and shadows mostly accomplished with one dark wash.

At the same time I worked on a couple of spear men — one Grenadier, one Heritage. The Grenadier guy is another from the fighting men set, and I replaced his repeatedly bent and broken spear with a plastic javelin from another Zvedza set. I think his original spear head ended up on the Heritage model, as he too had broken long ago.

Finally a couple of skeletons. The halberdier is Ral Partha. I bought a small boxed set of skeletons long ago and to my surprise it had two each of the halberdier and the double-armed swordsman, but no axe-man. My experience with Grenadier led me to think all miniatures companies were pretty slipshod about the contents of the boxes and I never bothered to try to correct the omission. I painted both of these many years ago, when my technique was just to paint everything as neatly as possible in solid colors and apply a black wash. I touched up a few spots on these guys but mostly left them alone.

The swordsman is Grenadier. He originally had his arm raised and sword pointing straight up, and was presumably one of several variants made by adding armor and a shield to the basic skeleton model they made. Those upraised arms always bent or broke, and in this case I replaced it with yet another bit from a Zvedza set (in this case the Cursed Legion, a set of skeleton Roman legionaries).

None are my best work at painting but I’m satisfied they’ll finally see some use.

 

Published in: on September 9, 2017 at 6:58 pm  Comments (2)  
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Amazon’s recommendations never let you down

I’m just loving Amazon’s recommendations lately. That is all.

Published in: on August 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The best D&D movie of the year

It’s no secret that movies intentionally based on D&D tend to suck ass. But there have been some great movies and TV shows that take bits and pieces from the game and make really entertaining stuff. Dave made a maze manages to capture what a dungeon should be like: filled with perils and wonders, and somehow animate and malevolent. The maze which is the location of 90% of the scenes is simultaneously silly and scary. Logic and physics are just guidelines there. The maze clearly has a mind of its own and is hostile. In an early scene, someone cuts their hand and the blood is absorbed — drunk? — by the cardboard floor of the maze. There are a number of traps and tricks that would do any old school dungeon proud, and while there not many monsters, the main baddie is suitably scary.

The film is ultimately a comedy, and the characters are not heroes but bunch of thirty-something hipsters, artists, and slackers. The visual effects (which seem to be mostly practical) are stunning and the writing and acting are pretty good. It’s actually considerably better than the trail suggests. The writers/director might be the next Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonez.

Although this does not appear to have an MPAA rating, it got CA-14 in Canada so that’s basically PG-13. There is some strong language, extremely cartoonish violence, and some adult sight gags. You can stream it online or purchase the DVD, but if it’s an option, find it in a theater!

Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 9:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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The toof mouse

So some time back I was driving listening to NPR and someone brought up the “tooth mouse.” The tooth mouse is basically the tooth fairy in other countries — particularly Spanish speaking countries, as well as France, and according to the commenter I heard also in former colonies of France or Spain. The tooth mouse supposedly takes the teeth to build its house, in one version of the story. In any case it usually leaves some small gift. My daughter Riley happened to be in the car and while she stopped believing in fairies and such in first grade or so, she had a loose tooth and suggested she’d leave it for the tooth mouse. Ever since, she would leave her teeth on her dresser, or on a banister by her door, and I’d write a silly thank-you from the tooth mouse (who has terrible spelling and grammar and just signs things “the toof mous”) and some trinkets like glass beads, sea shells, and some coins. The tradition fell by the wayside eventually but this week she lost one of the last three baby teeth she has, and the next day casually commented that the tooth mouse didn’t find her tooth. Riley’s going into seventh grade this year and I know there may not be a lot more of these kinds of moments. So, knowing how much she still loves hunting for toads when we go on hikes, I thought I’d paint the tiniest toad possible for her. It was so small it took only a few minutes really, and I couldn’t get my phone to focus very well on it. But here it is, based on a penny:

I tried it without the flash, not much better.

Honest, it looks pretty good in real life. It’s from the set of familiars Julie Guithrie sculpted for Ral Partha. Somehow I ended up with two of the sprues, so I still have another toad/frog like this and third slightly larger I think from Reaper.

Anyway here’s the card too, front, inside, and back.

Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 9:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Zombies!!! and that balrog

Haven’t been doing a  ton of painting lately but I did manage to paint the wingless Ral Partha “Armored Balrog” I posted about earlier, and also some zombies. All the photos should let you click to embiggen.

I started off painting his skin completely black, but it seemed a shame to cover up all the detail in the sculpt. Grey highlights would make him look too cold, so red it was.

Ral Partha Armored balrog with missing wings and sword/sword hand replaced 

I might have spent more time on the flaming mane, but the contrast was good enough IMO to get the idea across. He was just a side project while painting up the zombies anyway.

The zombies are part of a larger set I started working on some time ago. The “Zombies!!!” game is a good beer & pretzels kind of boardgame, but what sold it for me was of course the 100 zombie minis. Over the years I’ve picked up a few “Bag o Zombies!!!” sets, though I wish you could get them in smaller quantities. Anyway because the poses are pretty limited, I started making minor conversions to some to see if I could achieve some more variety. Here’s the first few, based on two male zombie poses, the female zombie, and the zombie kid, as well as a couple of zombies from the Doom boardgame. The paint jobs are pretty simplistic, and I used a pale green skin tone to make them more immediately recognizable as undead. I had in mind the crummy colorized verison of “Night of the Living Dead” that you used to see on VHS in dollar stores.

First up, some boy souts and their scout leader. In hindsight the red bandannas look too much like more gore.

Next up, a bridal party. I still need to figure out how to do a flower girl. The guy had tails added to his jacket to suggest a tux and the girl had her dress extended, a veil added, and the severed head normally in the pose’s hand removed.

 

Two bikers — the big guy is from Doom, the skinny guy is from another Zombies!!! set.

Some miscellaneous people. A punk rocker with mohawk (Return of the Living Dead!), a surgeon (just added a mask and cap), a farmer (head swap from a cowboy), and a security guard (Doom again).

And of course you need a zombie Santa. His right arm was pinned back to hold a sack, and the sack, hat, belly, and beard were all added with some Liquid Nails (the older thick formula which I can’t find at the hardware store anymore).

I still have a lot more of these to paint, and some ideas for more variations, but that may have to wait a while.

Lastly a weirdo monster that I can’t really identify. I believe it was from a HeroClix set — I picked up a bunch of HeroClix stuff from a bin in a hobby shop a few years ago to use for conversions. Some kind of alien critter. This one had to have his two hind legs replaced, but for $.25 you can’t go wrong really. I stayed pretty close to his original color. He seems to have two tails and two tentacles in addition to four legs. If you recognize this from the DCU or MCU let me know!

Published in: on July 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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