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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Plastic surgery disasters III

As promised here are my flagellants. The Warhammer version of these are loosely based on the real flagellants of history, who make an appearance in my book. The real flagellants were fanatics who thought the Black Death was punishment for the world’s sins, and that people needed to be baptized in their own blood to wash away these sins. If you happened to meet some on the road, they might try to force you to join them, or beat you to death trying. But at other times they simply demonstrated their rites and were applauded by locals. At times they also went on pogroms against Jews and massacred them. The temporal authorities were understandably annoyed with them disrupting trade and travel and bands of knights would sometimes go patrolling to find and kill bands of flagellants, but this was unusual. Eventually the Church condemned them as heretics and many were burned at the stake. In Warhammer, they appeared as special Empire troops that are fearless and subject to frenzy like Norse berserkers, fanatically seeking out the taint of Chaos.

The GW box only had 10 bodies, but lots of extra heads, arms, and accouterments. So naturally I wanted to create some extras.

First, here are the figures I assembled with the bodies in the box.

These guys are really extreme, compared to the original lead flagellants made for Warhammer back in the day. I couldn’t readily find any images, but they were just unkempt monks with flails, whips, and clubs. These newer versions use massive flail weapons (some of which I scaled back, like the second guy in the bottom row, whose weapon originally included a flail head in addition to the bell). I like their scourges, but the real standouts are the guys with flaming hair and the pilloried guy.

Anyway with the extra bits I modified a few Lionheart peasants:

And also a few Zvedza soldiers. The guy with the back banner in particular was modeled on Lancelot at the end of the movie Excalibur. The others are presumably also knights who have lost their minds.

I’m really looking forward to painting these at some point.

Published in: on June 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Plastic surgery disasters II

Here are few more works in progress.

First, a pair of leg swaps — the marauder on the left also has some additional conversion to change the position of his arms, which normally attach pretty close to the body, and I used one of the standard-bearer arms to give him a spear. His shield is an old Citadel chaos shield but I didn’t think to take a head-on shot. The angle of the photo makes his new legs look even shorter, relative to him, than they are. Maybe he’s part gorilla. The guy on the right has a nice pose IMO even if he seems a little long-legged.

For the next guy I used one of the elaborate shoulder pads included in the marauder kit as a skull mask. His head underneath is from the cultist set, as they are slightly smaller than the bare-headed option in the marauder box.

The Frostgrave cultists box is really a kitbasher’s dream, with a ton of extra heads and arms (though I wish there was more variety to the bodies). Anyway, one option in the box is to convert about half of the figures into zombies or skeletons. I gave this guy a zombie head and arms and he’d make a nice ghoul or wight. I’m tempted to give at least one thug a withered undead arm too.

The last one also more ambitious. I wanted to make an inquisitor or executioner with a sword, and the armored body from a Zvedza soldier gets a cultist head, a scroll from the flagellants box, and a sword made from a pin and a toothpick.

Published in: on June 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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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.

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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