Beastmen and goatkin

No telling if I’ll be able to follow through with this, but my master plan is to start getting the vast backlog of unpainted miniatures painted by tackling one type at a time. Here is the result of trying to get all my “beastmen” finished. (I do have a bunch of other animal/human hybrids yet to do, but the beastmen are all vaguely goat- or bull- headed humanoids.)

All images are clickable to enlarge.


First up: some beastmen from the Battle Masters game (jointly produced by Milton Bradley and Games Workshop back in the early 1990s). The guy on the far left was one I painted years ago. The others were languishing unpainted until I got more inspired and swapped out some of their weapons.

I used a variety of thinned down paints, including some GW “contrast” paints. The idea was to just prime everything white and paint in thinned colors using the old Heritage Models idea of “stain painting.” The GW Contrast paints are simply paints thinned down with some kind of flow enhancer added to help the pigment pool in the recesses of a sculpture and form “shadows” of more intense color, so that you don’t need to shade or highlight. It really speeds things up. Mixing my own cheap craft paints with some water and a couple of drops of Liquitex flow aid gets similar results. I used the stickers that came with the Battle Masters game for their shields.

The next group are Grenadier “goatkin warriors”. They were sculpted by John Dennett, who did some of the best monsters Grenadier produced in my opinion. The white ones were painted at least twenty years ago, so I touched them up a bit to cover spots where the paint had worn off, and also to correct some sloppiness.

The last group are a random collection: a figure from the Descent board game, a satyr (a WizKids recast, for MageKnight, of a Ral Partha design), and a Citadel “ogre.” The citadel model was another I’d painted many years ago, and touched up. I bought him through Wargames West, an mail-order service from the pre-internet days that published huge newsprint catalogs. I bought several figures through them, even though they did not have illustrations, so it was a bit of a surprise.

Finally, another Citadel figure, meant to represent a beastman champion. He came out a little better than this blurry photo suggests.

And here’s the whole set (including a figure I did not photograph separately because he was done a long time ago and needed no work).

I used a lot of beastmen in the D&D campaign I ran a while back, because I wanted something a little different from the usual orcs. More recently they have been standing in for gnolls in a game I play in. I do have a box of gnolls to paint some day too…

Bonus: another Dennett sculpt, the Vi-Perdon!
I like the animation in this one.

Published in: on October 6, 2019 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Mounted adventurers

Here are a few mounted characters I painted recently, all plastic. It’s been slow going but I hope to get all the figures I have which are suitable for mounted PCs done next. Of course there are way too many knights, they’ll mostly wait.

Left to right, a cleric, “prince,” and barbarian.

The cleric is just a knight from the BattleMasters game, his lance swapped out for a flail. The shield is (obviously) my crude free-hand of a lion rampant. I need to look into transfers.

The “prince” is from a set of castle-building blocks I got for my birthday one year. He seemed way too big for use with minis when I got it, long before scale creep.  Back in the 80s he would have been a hill giant or something, but now he’s pretty average. The details were pretty crude and I wasn’t sure if primer would adhere to the soft, glossy plastic, but a coat of gesso seems to have done the trick. He could be a bard, magic-user, or fancy thief. I have a handful of mounted  demihumans, but first I’ll focus on the remaining humans that don’t look like fighters. more to come.

The barbarian is cobbled together from the body and legs of a Lionheart “mercenary,” arms and head from the spare parts that came with a box of GW chaos marauders, and a horse of unknown origins that I got in a bag of spare parts at a convention. The horse is extremely barrel-chested and I had to break the mercenary’s already very bowlegged pose to fit. I tried to give him some Appaloosa type markings (dark spots on the hindquarters that only really show when the horse’s fur is wet). I’m surprised I didn’t have any mounted barbarians in my collection, though I have a dozen Rohirrim that usually serve. The problem with them is that they’re all quite similar, since they were for the LOTR wargame.

Anyway back to the castle blocks. The set was called “Exin Castillos” and had instructions in a number of languages. The box was a hexagonal cylinder. It seemed very exotic at the time and I wish I’d managed to keep together some of the parts that came in it. A few bits survive in my terrain: the portcullis found its way onto a castle, and some low wall sections I glued together for wargames, and that’s pretty much it. The princess (who, if I thought of it at the time, would have made a good giantess) was dismembered to make a prow for a Man’o’War ship. I believe there was also a ghost in the set, and I remember seeing a guard with a halberd on the box art but there wasn’t one inside the box.  A little googling turned up this excellent collector’s site (in Spanish).


Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 10:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Makin’ bacon : Pig-faced orcs

Pig-faced orcs (“Porcs,” as they prefer not to be called) have been having a minor renaissance lately.

OSR bloggers were talking about them for while; the most compelling look at the origins of the pig-faced orc for my money is here, but I’ve also read that there was some sort of miscommunication between writer Gary Gygax and illustrator David Sutherland which led the best know example in the Monster Manual.  Not sure where I first heard that either. Another theory holds that the Tolkien calendar for 1977 by the brothers Hildebrandt introduced pig-faced orcs, but honestly the orcs in that calendar don’t look very pig-like to me for the most part. I think Zhu is on the right track with the Disney goons (See also Telecanter’s Receding Rules;  Sword & Shield; Realm of Zhu 1 and 2 ; TOTFF; Greyhawk Grognard; Grognardia).

For a long time the only ones available would be the old Minifigs AD&D line.

But several manufacturers put them back into production — Otherworld starting the trend in 2010, which inspired several of the blog posts already linked above  (Casting Room; Otherworld; Splintered Light; and yes Minifigs has them mostly back in production too!).

I was not really a fan of pig-faced orcs back in the day, since I came to D&D after being exposed to Tolkien. But more recently they’ve grown on me, and while I couldn’t justify buying any more orc figures (I have scores unpainted and literally an army of them painted) I thought about doing some conversions on my own. But then I saw the incredible workmanship over at Belched from the Depths and got cold feet. No way am I sculpting anything near that standard. More recently I saw a simple conversion on a Facebook page (and who can ever find something again in that Book of Sand?) and I could at least copy that. So I took some plastic orcs that were unlikely to be painted any time soon and tried making snoots from epoxy putty. They are just tiny balls pressed onto the nose, with the tip flattened and nostrils made by poking the end with bit of florist wire. The only thing I forgot to do was make one an obvious leader. I have a plastic GW “black orc” that should fit the bill though. For reference here’s the basic plastic orc as I painted one some time ago:

A small, somewhat ape-like nose typical of GW.

And here are the pig-faced versions (I also did some weapon swaps from other kits for variety, and gave some shield bosses).

The yellow and purple shields will likely get decals from the BattleMasters game on their shields.

Finally some Grenadier UK plastic orcs:

For reference, here are some I painted in the usual manner, and with their shields.

Both the pig-faced spearmen had their weapons modified; a third is below:

This guy could be the shaman of the tribe, and will be the leader for now.

Lastly a couple of metal orcs (Ghost Miniatures, the fantasy arm of Old Glory Miniatures) that I painted along similar lines, though I left their noses as they were. They might be half-orcs from the tribe.

Published in: on January 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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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.

The last of the giants?

With these guys done, I can finally say I’ve painted all the giants minis I own. (OK, there is a pair of firbolgs, an ettin, and some Gamma World giant mutants, and a lot of trolls and ogres, but no more giants per se.) Those are mostly metal; these guys are all plastic.

First, a Dragonstrike! stone giant. A very simple sculpt, but immediately recognizable. And next to him a DFC giant. I really like these guys as frost giants.  I’d get half a dozen more if I could, and mix up the weapons a little.



Then two truly giant giants, from the Descent board-game. Mountain giants, I guess.

Descent-giantsI painted the first as a mountain giant. The pointy, elfin ears gave me the idea to paint his hair green, which sort of suggests grass or leaves; maybe he is related to the ents. The other guy might be a frost or stone giant.  I like the fairy-tale aspect to these guys.

Technically I guess I have one more giant to go because I am painting a Battlemasters ogre as a fire giant, but I was impatient to get these up on the blog.


Published in: on May 15, 2015 at 8:00 am  Comments (1)  
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I should do more outdoor adventures

A village built next to ruins on a 4x6' table

Since I’ve got six players in my D&D game and it was getting hard to fit around the table, I set up my 6’x4′ plywood sheet on top of the gaming table (an old dining room table) to increase the space. But minis abhor a vacuum so Saturday night I decided to set up my ground cloth and bunch of terrain just for kicks. I’d been thinking about using all my ent/treant/tree monster minis in part of a larger woods set up anyway and the end result is above and below.

The ruins are from the Games Workshop LotR games, as well as the first Heroscape set, and the ruined church is from a White Dwarf magazine. I wonder if they put free card stock terrain in the magazine these days.

The fields were made for war gaming terrain, but are large enough to still represent a reasonable garden patch or the edge of a farm. The rows of fencing are also from “Battlemasters” and I use them to represent cultivated grape vines.

The graveyard (which really ought to be nearer the ruins and church) are a combination of things, including some lego-like castle blocks, Halloween village tombstones, and the sarcophagi and statues I posted last week.

Here’s a slightly better picture you can click to see more detail. (A few things are already out of place as my five year old was naturally fascinated with the whole thing.)

A shot from the side. Click to enlarge greatly.

The buildings are mostly from the old Games Workshop Warhammer set “Terror of the Lichemaster,” which was designed for a set of skirmishes leading to small battle for the town.

The haunted woods.

The woods contain all my treemen minis, as well as most of my pine trees and deciduous trees. My daughter really enjoyed searching for the “monster trees.”

The keep is constructed from parts of a toy castle and various bits of cardboard and plaster all attached to a tower from the Milton Bradley “Battlemasters” game.

The Donjon.

The gatehouse, lightly fortified.

The gatehouse to the village has no supporting walls, so I placed some stakes and mantlets nearby to suggest it has been hastily fortified. The buildings will have to serve as part of the defenses of the town.

My daughter Riley couldn’t wait to try out the set-up, but she told her mom that she was afraid she’d break my figures (I guess I really drilled into her how fragile they are). She brought one of her fairy action figures and we selected a number of plastic D&D figures to fill out the the complement of characters and monsters.

"Can I play?"

I set up a mine entrance on one of the hills and laid out a dungeon made of tiles and bits from the Heroscape set for doors, and we played various adventures for at least an hour and a half. She even helped pick up, and really enjoyed that because she got to examine everything more closely.

I took a bunch of pictures during the game but they are currently trapped on my new phone, which does not have an easy way to transfer files to a computer. Maybe I’ll post them later — by the time we were done, the board was covered with stuff.

Maybe next time we’ll use dice too.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 9:02 am  Comments (3)  
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Some more figures

Here is a Grenadier Djinn from the Tomb of Spells, a very late model, with a headswap.  He has a head from one of the first Citadel plastic orcs. (I got two sets of the original plastic set that had 10 each of several Warhammer races.  This was their very first set, and it had optional heads and weapons but the body & liombs were one solid casting…anyway I had a lot of extra heads.)

The color is very washed out, he is fairly blue, like the Disney genie in Aladdin.

Here are a couple more.  The Ogre, left, is a Battle Masters figure, although I moved his left arm and added a katar (punch dagger).  The troll on the right is the first epoxy putty figure I ever made.  Crude but I like him.

Lastly, here is an ogre, a figure from a Dragon Riders of the Styx set.

I love the weapon combination — flail (or mace and chain) and kris (wavy sword).

The color is more accurate in the second shot.  If I ever find a complete  “Dragonriders of the Styx” figures playset, I’ll snap it up, but they were part of the whole fantasy fad of the late 70s/early 80s so I doubt many are left.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 5:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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Caverns of Doom remix

I have three mythologically-inspired sets of miniatures ready, and will be giving them to three nephews in one family (maps and rules booklets still in process…).  I decided that the fourth set would be different, partly because I couldn’t decide which mythos would be best for her and partly because I also knew I’d given her a basic D&D set a year or two ago and she has more figures in that scale.  So, below are the alternative figures I’ll use for  a version of the CoD — they’ll use CoD stats but look a little different.

Instead of the rats, goblins:

DSC03014(These guys are from the Battle Masters set).

Instead of the hobgoblin, a beastman (Battle Masters again), and a different slime monster, spider, and demon:

DSC03017The slime monster is epoxy putty.  The demon is a Battle Masters chaos warrior, and spider is another plastic toy.

DSC03021A close-up of the slime monster.

The skeletons are replaced by orcs, and the dragon by a giant.  The vampire is replaced by a wraith.  The giant and wraith are Dragon Strike figures, the orcs are Battle Masters (the archer is actually a chaos thug).

DSC03022The character figures are a pirate, dwarf,  knight, monk, elf, and wizard:

DSC03078monk,elf,wizrd2The knight & pirate are from the Weapons & Warriors games; the dwarf is a Games Workshop plastic figure; the wizard is from Descent, the Elf is from GW’s Lord of the Rings line, and the monk is a Lionheart peasant with his pitchfork trimmed into a staff, and slightly tonsured (you can’t see it from this angle).

The map will be pretty much identical to the original CoD map.

Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Hellbrand Fireguard

Many, many years ago, my brother was DMing a Rolemaster campaign.  Unlike D&D, Rolemaster has no alignment system.  When some of our player characters began behaving poorly, he introduced the Hellbrand Fireguard: incorruptible, plate armor clad, wielding pole arms and wearing uniform surcoats.   Sort of a mediavel Praetorian Guard.  I think they kicked us to the curb and we learned to get out of town when the showed up.  We feared the Hellbrand Fireguard, and they even showed up in other campaigns, in different games.  I recently painted a couple of detachments of them, one in red, one in black.  The figures are all converted from one design, the “Chaos Warrior” figure from BattleMasters, a Milton Bradley game made in cooperation with the British “hobby games” behemoth Games Workshop. The first figure on the left is unconverted; the rest had their weapons modified.


Published in: on October 10, 2009 at 2:33 am  Comments (2)  
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