When you go into the woods tonight

Admittedly, some of my conversions and scratch-builds are goofy. My daughter was getting rid of some old “Care Bear” miniatures she’d been given by a friend, so I thought I’d do a quick paint-only conversion to make them Scare Bears. I’d already covered a few of their bellies with gore before it occurred to me that they could have crude icons of some kind similar to the symbols on the Care Bears’ bellies. Maybe later I’ll be inspired. They still need their bases flocked and perhaps some touching up, but for the minimal effort I’ve invested I’m pleased with the results.

Obviously I just base-coated them black and added a few grey highlights on the areas that had tufts of hair sculpted on. Then I added exaggerated eyes, teeth, and claws. They were about 2″tall and are based on 40mm bases, so they are approximately ogre sized compared to other D&D miniatures.

Now I just need to find a suitable mini for Prof. Cold Heart.



Published in: on April 12, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (5)  
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The last of the devils and demons


It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to paint any miniatures. But on New Year’s Day I had some free time and decided to finish up the devils and demons in my collection. As you can see in the picture, I have a Reaper Bones marilith, a Reaper Bones female devil, a Grenadier efreet, a Ral Partha “gremlin,” a demon or gargoyle of unknown vintage (recast in plastic by WizKids for Mage Knight), a Ral Partha efreet, and two Heritage avenging angels. Apart from an incomplete figure or two, and some Mega Minis figures that look more like random monsters than demons, those are the last of the demons & devils.

The marilith is still not done. But the rest are finished. I didn’t take quite as much time as I sometimes would, such was my enthusiasm to get a category of minis finished.

Apologies in advance for the image quality — new phone, too much gloss in the sealant, and still figureing out the flash.

First up, the efreeti. Actually these were both figures I painted decades ago but stripped to repaint a bit more aesthetically. The Grenadier efreet is the last version they made for the Tomb of Spells set (I vastly prefer the older sculpt based directly on Trampier’s illustration but this guy is ok). The Ral Partha efreet I purchased some time around 1983 when I was on a family vacation to Baltimore. The three things about that trip that stand out are visiting the aquarium, paddling around the harbor with my brother (where we found a number of dead seagulls floating on the waves), and the incredible hobby shop in the mall on the harbor that had glass cases filled with miniatures from every manufacturer I knew of and many I never heard of. Any money I had at the time was spent there. I’m not sure what other minis I might have bought but I recall my brother getting an ogre and troll made by Castle Creations. I used the efreet as a half-ogre for a while. (all photos, click to embiggen)


Next up are a trio of devils. The crouching figure may or may not be an original sculpt for WizKids’Mage Knight line. The guy with the spear is a very old Ral Partha. I couldn’t figure out a way to straighten his spear without removing it entirely and replacing it so I left it alone. The female devil is by Reaper.


The avenging angels are pretty unusual. I couldn’t find any painted examples in my googling, and they may be fairly rare. They were made for the Knights & Magic line, and would have come in a blister pack with one each of an angel with a flaming sword (like these), a spear, and a bow. I picked these up second-hand from a toolbox full of old minis at hobby shop that has since gone out of business (or at least gone online-only — Spellbinder’s of Kent, Ohio). The odd thing was there were only two wings, and when began assembling them I realized they were both the right wing. So one angel has plastic wings clipped from a plastic toy bird (the neat rounded feathers on the right) while the other took some reconstruction. I bent one wing into shape and added some Liquid Nails to the top edges so they look more symmetrical. They almost look like they were meant to be this way. I love the raggedness of these wings too — it seems like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. (Actually, the bird-wings could be out of Brazil and the original wings out of The Fisher King, maybe).


Unrelated, but not appearing here before, I had a couple more minis that I painted over the summer and never photographed. They are a Reaper fire elemental and a very old Grenadier cleric. The cleric (who I always think of as Cedric the Cleric) lost his mace long ago and I replaced it with a somewhat oversized morningstar from the plastic Zvedza Orks kit.


Published in: on January 5, 2017 at 9:53 pm  Comments (3)  
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I don’t really think I did this one justice, but I had surge of painting energy and finished up this conversion Scottsz gave me when he was clearing out some old stuff.

lolth2I gave her dead, white eyes, and added some color to the black spider body, but mostly left his paint job alone.  The front legs have white tips, to suggest talons or horns.  The knees have a reddish highlight.

I can’t believe I forgot to fill in the hole in the base. On my list.  Also the Roslof painting, that the conversion is based on, gives her eight yellow spots on her “chest” area — probably secondary eyes.  (I had to look it up but apparently most spiders have two ‘main’ eyes with lenses and four or six secondary eyes that just detect light/shadow and movement.  Also spider eyes are simple, rather than compound like insect eyes. The more you know…) So the drow-head eyes must be her “main eyes” and the six spots are “secondary eyes.” Cute.


Published in: on February 7, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (3)  
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A few years ago I bought a few sprues of minis for the “Age of Mythology” board game — at the time I wanted some inexpensive figures for some games I was making as Christmas gifts, and I figured I’d find some uses for the extras.  I had five spare cyclopes.  They’re maybe 7-8 feet tall in 1/72 scale (the minis in that set range from 1/72 to maybe 1/100 scale … there is very little consistency although there are some neat sculpts).  Compared to 25mm or 28mm figures, they are just a bit taller than a human, but their upper bodies are still pretty big because the legs are tiny, goat-like things with cloven hooves.  They will make passable Cyclopskin for D&D, and since they are painted red, they can also stand in for small demons.  In the Panoticon dungeon, they are the muscle/cannon fodder guards.

To individualize them, I added weapons to four of them and a horn to one (channeling the Harryhausen ‘clops that Dennis Mize copied for Ral Partha).

They all have this weird pose with one clenched fist turned sideways and one open hand.  I left this one alone but for most of the others, I turned the fist by cutting it off and reattaching it (pinning is super easy with soft plastic like these guys).

This guy’s club is a spare from the Zvedza Orcs set.

This guy’s mace and chain was trickier.  I used a piece of an old broken necklace for the chain, and the head of another Zvedza orc club as the mace head.

Left to right one guy with a hammer from the old Citadel plastics set (a spare for the dwarves); a swords & board guy — probably the leader –; and the horned one again.

A few group shots.  Still having trouble with focusing the camera.

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Besides the large Flying Eyeballs, I made some smaller Eye-bats.

My daughter looked at these and said "Those aren't creepy, they're goofy."

These are bats from Halloween giveaway rings, with a tiny googly eye replacing the face and a little grey paint adding some definition and fur.  They took a ridiculously short time to make — drilling holes for the wire stands was the most time-consuming part.  I used florist wire, with one end looped around under the base and metal washer glued over it to add weight and level the base.

In the Panopticon, I envision these guys doing nothing but fluttering around watching.  Anyone caught in their critical gaze must save vs. Petrification (or Will) or act at -1 on everything requiring a roll (to-hit, saves, ability checks or skills, etc.)  They are terribly fragile (d3 hp) but hard to hit — as plate & shield.  They fly like bats.

Goofy, yes.  A nuisance by themselves. But they also accompany patrols.

What has eight eyes, six wings, and ten legs?

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Rehabbing some old minis

Over the years, a lot of my miniatures broke, either through rough handling, poor storage conditions, or simple wear and tear.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time the bits that broke off — most often weapons, but sometimes feet and bases, and other larger parts — were lost.  But generally speaking I held on to the remains of the minis in hopes of some day repairing them.  As I became somewhat better at conversions and repairs, I also began to pick up bags of spare parts, broken minis, and such at conventions (mainly Origins, the two times I went) and later I also got some minis in need of some care from generous blog readers who contributed them to the Bruce Galloway Memorial Home.

This guy is a Heritage thief, and I got him, broken, so long ago that I am not 100% sure where he came from.  I think it was from one of buddies who flirted briefly with D&D back in the early 1980s but  didn’t really get into it.  He had a number of Heritage minis which were beat up and badly painted but even back then I couldn’t turn a mini away.  Missing an arm and his weapon, I used this guy as a zombie for a long time, to fill in the ranks of a hypothetical Undead army for Warhammer (3rd ed.!).  But since then I stripped him and began to repair him.  The new sword is a bit of florist wire and Liquid Nails*. I just drilled a hole and glued in the wire with super glue, and then once dry I dipped the wire in some Liquid Nails and shaped the blade with moist fingers.  The arm is a spare from a Zvedza set for their fantasy game “Ring of Rule.”**  I should probably add a loot bag to the hand at some point.

A noble, maybe? Ral Partha 1992

The next guy is from one of those bags of broken minis I got at Origins.  Someone lopped of his right arm very crudely, leaving a big crease in on the shoulder.  He’s a Ral Partha mini, and probably fairly late given his scale (about 28mm).  I don’t know what he originally held in that arm but I thought I’d just use him as a young noble/civilian type, so I used another Zvedza arm on him.

These gnomes have been broken since my brother had them confiscated in 6th grade and returned at the end of the school year (1982).  The sword is wire and Liquid Nails; the spear is from a Zvedza pilum, and the axe  is from another Grenadier mini, probably an orc.

Here’s another Heritage thief or bandit, whose legs broke off.  I could not find them, but made new ones (very crudely)  again with wire and Liquid Nails.

Holy symbol aloft, and vial ready in the other hand, he’s ready for some undead bashing.

Here’s a Heritage cleric, which Scottz sent me.  Poor guy lacks both hands (he was holding an ankh and had his other hand open like he was fencing).  I have one specimen in better shape so instead of giving him a new ankh I thought a cross would be a good symbol for this fearless vampire killer.  Both hands are spares from the Zvedza set mentioned earlier and the cross is a bit of plastic sprue.

My, what big hands you had.

Next up, a skeleton which was a MageKnight figure I got for pennies at Origins (about 2004, I think).  He was missing a bow so I took the one from a Lionheart mini I’d earlier decapitated for use in a larva.  A little big but it could be a glove once it’s painted.

“I got something to axe you.”

Here’s a Heritage Knights & Magick mini.  His axe head broke off long ago, and for a while I had him painted with the haft painted as if it were a sword, but since I stripped him anyway, I thought I might as well make him an axeman again.  The axe head is oversized by Heritage standards but still within reason for a bardiche or Danish axe.  It came from the Zvedza orc set.

Here’s a Grenadier thief, who broke off at the ankles and I lost the feet and base.  So, for him the lower legs and feet are entirely wire and Liquid Nails.  In process. Not pretty but it’ll do.

Grenadier horse, Lionheart arm, RAFM shield, and GW or Marauder body!

This guy is cobbled together from (I think) a GW undead rider,  who lacked his shield, arm, and mount.  A Galloway Home donation provided a spare undead steed (Grenadier) and I added a spare Rafm shield (from a ‘build-your-own something or other kit) and an arm from a Lionheart mercenary.

Evil jester or old school goblin

Here’s my oldest goblin — bought in a bag of bits at a BASHCon in 1999 or 2000.  He’s one of the old Minifigs guys, and was missing his sword, and was broken at the ankles.  Wire/Nails sword.  It always feels good to restore something really old.

Would you believe, an owlbear cub? Toucangoat? I give up. Lab escapee, for sure.

This freak came as the draft beast for the Grenadier Orc Beer Wagon.  I used a Ral Partha giant boar to pull the wagon instead, and this guy’s been laying around for over a decade, unused because of his yoke and tackle.  So the other night I fired up the Dremel and removed them as best I could.  I’m fairly certain they were just added as an afterthought & this guy was released sans tackle around the time of the Monster Manuscript series; I’ll need to check.  I just roughed up the areas where the extra lead was ground off to look more fur-like and I think he’ll paint up fine.

This guy is a Heritage fighter (maybe a berserker?).  His sword is laying partly over his shield and broke off at the shield edge.  He was the first one I tried the wire & Liquid Nails blade reconstruction on, and it turned out pretty good.

This one is a Yaun-Ti, and another Scottsz donation.  His sword was pretty close to being broken off when I got him so I flicked it off and replaced it with more wire & Liquid Nails.  I wonder if Swords & Dorkery can get a sponsorship from Liquid Nails if I type that one more time. Liquid Nails.


These two are from one of the first AD&D Grenadier boxed sets me & my bother ever got: the Halflings.  They may look like human dwarfs with overgrown arms but I love them. The javelin thrower (who seems to have a strap on his javelin, which is something that was common in ancient times — it helped the thrower add spin, and thus accuracy) had a broken javelin right out of the box. So he’s waited like 30 years for this repair!!! The other guy had his sword hacked off and replaced with a very crude spear some time back, and after seeing Belched from the Depth’s awesome halfling fighter I had to restore him.  Now he has a spare sword from the Zvedza skeleton legion.

Saving the goofiest for last, this is a Lawful Evil cleric from a Grenadier Action Art set (I think this is another Scottsz donation).  His shillelagh*** was broken, so I made a goofy rod topped with the head from a 1/72 plastic Greek mini (an Atlantic mold, recast by Nexus).  I’ll probably paint it metallic, as a funky mace.

Right now there are several more figures in need of TLC: several Saurus lacking their arms; a GW black orc also lacking an arm; a Reaper flying ape lacking wings and an arm; half of a WotC Abyssal Maw; a headless GW Chaos knight; a legless Citadel baboon; and few other odds and ends.  These will require serious epoxy putty work, or a new home.  Some could become casualty markers.   As a last resort: melted down for more home casting.




*FWIW, “Liquid Nails” is an American brand of construction adhesive, sold both in caulking tubes and smaller foil “toothpaste” tubes.  I like it because it dries fairly fast and is very strong.  Better modellers would probably use an epoxy putty, but Liquid Nails are a good “quick and dirty” alternative if you don’t have any on hand or just need a tiny bit. <Update — Liquid nails now has a new formula, at least in the small tubes, and it is much thinner and not very useful for sculpting. Sigh.>

**The Squadron was liquidating their Zvedza fantasy minis a while back, and I got the orc set and a boxed set with medieval  humans vs.  skeletons in Roman legionary uniforms.  All are nice but the skeletons are incredibly complicated to put together (separate skulls, helmets, torsos, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, shields, weapons…!!!) and the orcs are really ogre-sized (which is ok — they can be some other species, I have tons of orcs anyway).   Best of all, lots of spare parts, like the OLD Games Workshop kits which gave you spare heads and weapons and stuff.

***I believe this is pronounced, “shill-ale-ee”.  My mother had a shillelagh, passed down from relatives on her mother’s side.  In the olden times they even hollowed out one end and filled it with lead to hit harder, but this was more recent specimen, just used as a walking stick rather than a cudgel.  I think my sister ended up with it, which makes sense since she married a Irish-American.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (13)  
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The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out

So it turns out I have three copies of Grenadier’s larvae miniatures. My first came in a boxed set of dungeon monsters. (I painted the worm-ends green and the faces in regular flesh tones. I very scrupulously avoided reading the Monster Manual back then so I painted my monsters all the “wrong” colors.) The other two came later — one I think came from Scottsz and the other I picked up second hand at Spellbinder’s in Kent, during the brief period when they had a a really good downtown location and tons of space. Anyway I stripped them all and began repainting them, then kind of shelved things until Scottsz’s minis came last fall.

A couple of months ago I broke them out to represent some hallucinations in a one-shot playtest adventure, and I realized I still hadn’t painted them all. Anyway when I threw some grub-sized larvae into my regular game, I decided I needed to get the minis finished for use. I figure that any minis I’ve been “saving” had better get used because who knows if I’ll ever get to run another D&D campaign, right? So I thought about the logistics of using these minis where three larvae are all in one “space.” Suppose one is killed…do I place a little marker near it, or say” this one is just two larvae now” or what?

Obviously I needed more larvae.

I considered sawing apart one or both of the spares to get some “singles” but then it struck me that these would be really easy to make from scratch. So I rolled out a “worm” of Sculpy, with indentations to suggest segments, and I was going to sculpt some ugly little heads but then I remembered a large box of 28mm plastic minis from the “Lionheart” board game, and decided it would be much faster to use their heads. I ended up using just one of each of the troops in the Lionheart game (skipping the heavy infantry in full helms).  So I just sculpted the worms and baked them, and then glued on the heads with Liquid Nails.  (Liquid Nails is great stuff for conversions and scratch-building, because it dries hard but slightly flexible and can be sculpted a bit before it dries if you use fingers and tools that are wet.  It dries faster than epoxies and less brittle than super glue, and less toxic than either.  I’d still use epoxy to superglue for metal-to-metal joins, and when assembling models, though.)  I maybe should have sacrificed more peasants to get bare-headed larvae but I really like the idea of having a mob of peasants. And in the end the helmeted larvae look pretty messed up too.

I especially like the idea of crowned king reduced to … this.

So anyway when I was looking them up again in the Monster Manual (after having painted them pale yellow/white like maggots) I was happy to see I got the color right and delighted to see that Gygax had established a whole economy of larvae. They can be made into imps and quasits by devils and demons, respectively, and there is a bustling trade in larvae.   They are often harvested by night hags who use their supply to help keep their home plane of Hades under their control by selling or giving them to demons and devils. Larvae in the Monster Manual are the souls of the most evil humans, so night hags seek out evil people to slay and steal their souls.

In my setting I’m making the human soul a composite of two parts (the Gimlé soul and the Urth soul; they are normally bound together, and together they are both “immortal” like the gods themselves. In this state they can abide in Valhalla and other godly realms. But separated, the Urth soul grows into a larva and can be easily destroyed. The Gimlé soul, it is thought, could ultimately ascend to Gimlé (“High Heaven” in the Norse myth), but the soul is only supposed to be broken down into the two parts after Ragnarok. So what’s going on with the souls of those killed in Telengard? What happened to the Gimlé souls of the adventurers whose Urth souls were discovered on the stairs to level two?

Click to embiggen

BTW the title of this post refers to a morbid nursery rhyme sometimes called “The hearse song.”  There’s some interesting stuff about it here and here.  I bet larvae get tired of singing that.

Published in: on January 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Goodest Friday ever!

The camp for my DBA Roman army. Two Airfix Romans and three crucifixes from a local religious supply shop. Originally the idea was to make a Spartacus-style road lined with crucified rebels but I ended up with three, just like some story or other I remember hearing a long time ago.

What?  Oh yeah, it was it had something to do with a minor setback before the triumphant return of a zombie god.  If only I could remember more details.  Well, I need to get ready for the holidays…Black Sabbath is tomorrow. And then it’s all about Oester bunnies!

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 2:29 am  Comments (3)  
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my dark ages project

Just a quick post to tie together the three 1066 armies and a static page with more information on how I assembled the armies.

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How now brown Drow?

I really hate drow elves.  They just suck.  Spider-demon worshiping freaks.


Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm  Comments (11)  
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