Some plastic undead

I worked on some more undead — I was hoping to finish all my unpainted undead by Halloween but there’s no way that’s happening. Here’s two and a half:

On the right, a Frostgrave Cultist assembled with the optional undead hands and head. Center, a MageKnight skeleton archer. I got him super cheap and his hand and bow were broken off, so he’s got a replacement from a Lionheart archer (the same donor whose head was used for a larva). On the left, a figure I picked up at Weird Realms on Free RPG Day. I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s a great little FLGS. Of course has a place near and dear to my heart because they actually carried stock of my book. In fact I thought I bought their last 2 copies the first time I went, but my brother found a copy on Free RPG Day too (which he bought). So next time I’m there I’ll have to see if there are any more. Either they restocked or I was mistaken last time. I have also seen all kinds of OSR publications there that I thought were only obtainable online or Print-on-Demand, like The Dungeon Dozen.

Anyway the figure was meant for some sort collectible game, and had a card with him. He was cast in transparent green plastic, which would have been fine for a ghost. Nice detail. I can’t remember the name of the game or company, but I don’t see this on the Free RPG Day web site so maybe they were not part of the “official” distribution? The other minis were also ghosts and ghouls IIRC.

Funny how photographing minis reveals stuff I missed, like the spots on his base that didn’t get painted black.

Lastly these two guys might be undead, or might just be recruiters.

They were also MageKnight minis that really needed a repaint. They are kind of bulky and the detail is not very strong, but that let me give them different faces by just painting them a little differently. Their hair reminded of an old Valley of the Four Winds figure. As I painted them I noticed they have slightly different postures, presumably because either one other both were bent in storage, or maybe something to do with the molding process. I don’t think they were copied from some metal original like many early MK figures.

I would use them like the “Gravedigger” monsters in Diablo 2, who attack with their shovels when approached but otherwise just scratch at the floor of crypts. Roll each round, on a 1, they dig up a zombie or skeleton. I’d add them to an encounter in a catacomb or crypt with a group of undead that can run interference while the diggers keep piling on more cannon fodder.

 

 

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Published in: on October 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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.

Published in: on October 11, 2017 at 4:13 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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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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Some more plastic dragons

I posted a few plastic dragons before — the MPC knockoff of the Grenadier AD&D dragon, the Dark Tower dragon and two Descent dragons, and a pair of dragons I got from a dollar store.

Here are a couple more.

The first is from a toy set — a knockoff of the DFC “Dragonriders of the Styx” set made by Toyco. The spine in the center of his back, which is spaced out a bit from the rest, was actually a peg for the rider to fit on, but I didn’t have a rider (which would have been a 54mm scale “knight” that looks a lot like the Michelin man — I got this in a trade and the rider was MIA). I slipped a bit while trimming it and cut my thumb pretty badly.  The paint job is pretty basic but I was surprised at how detailed the skin is.

The second dragon is a fairly small figure that was made of a rubbery soft plastic and I think came out of a gumball machine. It originally had a small loop on its back that a parachute was tied to. My daughter gave it to me when she lost interest in it (the parachute never worked properly anyway). For what it is, the detail is not bad.

Lastly a non-dragon — I finished painting a Reaper Bones mimic about the same time.

Who doesn’t love a mimic?

Published in: on June 26, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Plastic surgery disasters I

I spent a couple hours kitbashing some plastic figures yesterday. The original intent was to create some figures in the vein of the old Citadel “chaos thugs.” Thugs were the weakest kind of chaos warrior in Warhammer, so I can’t be too surprised they were dropped from the Warhammer line. However they had a lot of character and I always liked the mix of influences they showed — many had a lot of John Blanche’s surrealism and punk aesthetic, while others might have wandered of the set of the Road Warrior or a Mario Bava horror film. Some peak thugs here and here if you are unfamiliar. When I realized how many of the thugs I’d collected over the years seem to have disappeared, and how hard to find original castings seem to be, I thought I’d cobble together some using parts of other sets I was already interested in or already had.  My main ingredients are the Games Workshop “chaos marauder” set from about 2008 and a set of “Frostgrave cultists” from North Star Military Figures, with some pieces supplied by the GW “Flagellants” set (which will get its own post), some Zvedza soldiers from their short-lived “Ring of Rule” line, a few figures from the Lionheart board game, and a handful of chaos thug archers from the Milton Bradley/GW Battlemasters game.

The main challenge has been that the marauders are much larger than the other figures, both in terms of scale (maybe 30 mm) and build (steroid freaks). There is also a dearth of bare heads, so not nearly as many as I’d like can have mohawks or other weird hair styles like the old thugs. Still, I’m happy with a lot of them so far. More than a few will remain cultists, though, since the hoods and masks look so good.

Skeletor here just has a head from the Cultists box and the rest from the Marauders.

Body and head from Cultist set; arms from Marauders, mohawk from Battlemasters.

The hourglass is from the Flagellants set and the cleaver blade is from the really old GW “Fantasy Regiments” set, indented for an orc.

Cultist head and body, flagellant arms, with modified weapon.

Cultist with scrolls from the Flagellant set

Another somewhat pinheaded thug with a cultist head.

Marauder head on a Battlemasters body. Though the Battlemasters archers are nice, their pose is really hard to convert, and the heads are so  so I’m not getting a lot of use our of them. Also this is the first time I noticed they don’t have quivers.

Zvedza head on a cultist

Cultist head on a Lionheart peasant. Not really related to the chaos thugs and cultists but it seemed like a good fit.

Cultist with modified arm and book from Flagellant set

Another Battlemasters thug, this time with a skull from the Zvedza “Orks” set for a head.

Lionheart body with Marauder head and arms. This figure had already donated both his arms and his head to other projects so I was glad to have extra parts to “save” him!

Cultist with flagellant arms and flail

Cultist with torch from the flagellants set

These all need to have mold lines and joints cleaned up, of course. I’ll post more later. In the meantime here’s a metal figure I rehabilitated while waiting for glue to dry.

I got this poor balrog with no wings and his sword and sword hand missing for $1 out of a bin of broken or just old miniatures. The marauders had one sword-armed arm and the hand seemed like a good match so I used it to replace his hand. I have never had much luck scratch-building wings so I decided to stay a bit truer to Tolkien and leave them off (IIRC the book just refers to “wings of smoke” or something like that, not actual bat wings). I used some plumber’s putty I’ve been hanging onto for too long to extend the mane, which I will paint as fire. Maybe I’ll add more later. Though I’m open to ideas for how to add “wings” of black smoke.

Coquina shoggoth

Among a bunch of shells of various sizes in our craft supplies I noticed a small piece of rock with tons of embedded mollusk shells. I rhought at first that it might be some kind of coral, but a little Google image searching led me to conclude it is more probably coquina, a kind of limestone consisting mostly of shells. I was initially thinking about using it for a base for a mermaid I was painting but it looked so irregular and gross that I realized it would make a much better Shoggoth. The coiled shells and holes suggested pseudopods and a bubbling chaos of mouths, eyes, and appendages.

The eyes are just beads I glued on and painted, and the mouths are formed from breaks in the shells. I just picked out teeth in white along the edges. The whole thing is washed with maroon, with additional brown washes in deeper crevices, then roughly  drybrushed with pink and white. The “mouths” had more maroon added to deepen their color. The whole thing took barely any time; I wish I had more of the stuff.  It will serve as a small shoggoth or gibbering mouther.

Published in: on June 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Dwarf pirates

The last batch of dwarves I painted for an upcoming pirates themed game are these troops from a Warhammer boxed set (dwarves vs goblins, circa 2005).

These dwarves don’t have puffy shirts, or rapiers, or patches and peglegs, but the long coats are somewhat suggestive of the rain coats you might see on fishermen in the north Atlantic, and the horned helmets of course evoke fantasy Vikings, so with the guns they seem plausible as dwarf marines.

The cannon that came in the boxed set looks like a naval gun, from the shape of the carriage. The cannon crew includes one guy with a somewhat steampunk get up and a huge wrench/linstock gizmo. The cannon itself has what might be a gunlock in the form of a dragon head, but the whole thing is extremely ornate in the Warhammer style. I painted it as entirely bronze, as there was no wood grain on the carriage.

For the sake of completeness here are all the dwarfs for this project, now sequestered to their own case:

Apart from the MageKnight figure with the mortat on his back, and the two Grenadier sword & daggermen, these are all Citadel/Games Workshop. Actually the two on pink foam in the upper right I think were produced by Marauder, which was founded by Citadel alumni and possibly was a subsidiary of GW since they appeared in White Dwarf magazine long after GW stopped advertising anything but its own products.

Published in: on June 5, 2017 at 5:16 pm  Comments (2)  
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Plastic pirates

I’m a little shocked at how many figures in my backlog fall into the “pirates and swashbucklers” category. Doing another sweep I remembered I still had 20+ plastic pirate crew from the “Weapons & Warriors” game, 10 or so dwarves with guns and horned helmets that seemed seaworthy, and about a dozen Landsknechte (who technically would be a little early and landlocked for Age of Sail gaming but who are a) flashy, b) mostly unarmored, and c) armed with guns or Zweihanders, so they really fit in better here than Medieval fantasy or Modern/Sci-fi which are the other two categories I tend to put RPG minis into).

The plastic pirates were a challenge because there are so many and they ought to be non-uniform. What I ended up doing was limiting them to 20 and breaking them up into groups of five, each of these four groups getting a single color for their shirts and trousers. Then I chose five different colors for their bandannas and sashes, and used them on up to 1 from each group of four. Lastly I used dark brown on half and black on half for their vests and shoes. So, no two are exactly alike but I can easily form groups of various sizes (4 blue bandannas, or 5 blue shirts, or 8 blue anything, or 10 black vests, etc.). I will probably number their bases too.

I used a lazy but fast shading technique that I’ve been experimenting with a bit: a black wash (which I used to do back when I started painting, knowing no better) but with some Future Floor Finish mixed in to greatly reduce the surface tension and allow better pooling into crevasses than plain paint and water would. This basically creates an effect like black lining (which is very tedious) and adds a simple shading in one step. I’ve tried Minwax “Polyshades”for the same purpose (with has the added benefit of being a polyurethane varnish too) but it tends to make things look too dirty, like a regular black wash. The new wash mix is not perfect, especially on the orange and yellows, but pirates should be dirty so I’m OK with it. I can’t imagine getting 20 pirates done in three 1 hour painting sessions otherwise!

At some point I may add eye patches (to the ones with the sloppiest eyes) and mustaches (the figures look like they either have bushy mustaches or really heavy sneering lips). I might also go back and give half of them darker skin tones, since historically pirates could be from anywhere.

They all seem to have a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other, with what might be a knife tucked into their sash. (One detail that I like is that the swords are manifestly NOT cutlasses, which only became common in the early 19th century. In the golden age of piracy, the swords might be anything, and the short hangers they have look right).

Published in: on April 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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GaryCon

I won’t be at Gary Con, which is starting tomorrow. But I understand that my book Burgs & Bailiffs: Trinity will be there. If you’re there, you’re probably not reading blog posts, but if you are, stop by Black Blade Publishing‘s table where I’m told it will be available in print. And say hi for me.

Published in: on March 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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