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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Of Dwarves and Jews

“Daddy Grognard” recently posted a nice dwarf figure and added an intriguing excerpt from a letter by Tolkien mentioning that he thought of dwarves as being more like Jews than tiny Vikings or Scots.

I’ve seen some mention else where that the dwarvish language in Tolkien is very Semitic, despite their Scandinavian personal names (and the dwarves apparently don’t use their true names among outsiders anyway…), and also that dwarvish architecture, being huge and monolithic and with massive columns seems Assyrian or Semitic too.

Could the “model” for the dwarves be Jewish or Semitic? (as the model for the Rohirrim, say, was the Anglo-Saxons?) This puts quite a different, and offensive, spin on dwarvish tropes of beards, large noses, famous craftsmanship, secretiveness about their women, ancestral grudges, and love of battle and gold, doesn’t it?

Might the dwarf-elf enmity be a sign of elvish antisemitism?

Well, there is this quote from an interview, and this academic paper on Dwarves in The Hobbit and LOTR. The paper is actually very good, although the author does stretch things a little. The thesis is that the dwarves of The Hobbit are very different from the the dwarves of LOTR, and that to some extent JRRT was “correcting” his unconsciously antisemitic depiction of dwarves. Very interesting reading.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 10:20 am  Comments (14)  
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Scale creep!

Miniatures enthusiasts sometimes talk about “scale creep” — the tendency over time for bigger and bigger figures to be produced in the same notional scale. D&D figures (and fantasy figures in general for other RPGs and fantasy war gaming lines) have usually been marketed as “25mm” scale, but scale creep was evident from at least the 1980s. Beginning in the later 1990s or early 2000s some companies began to admit this was going on and stopped calling their figures “25mm” and started describing them as “heroic scale,” “28mm,” “30mm,” and even “32mm.”

Believe it or not, there was a time when 25mm was considered “close enough” to use with HO (that’s actually ‘half o’) scale models, which are about 1/76 scale.   Simple math will tell you that if 25mm = the height of a man, and humans are presumed to be 6′ in fantasy land, this is 1/72 scale. 1/72 and 1/76 are fairly close, but 1/72 is still somewhat puny next to 25mm.  Smallish 25mm like early Tom Meier Ral Parthas are very close to 1/72.  The metal figures, being sculpted at actual size, still have somewhat less realistic proportions, but most people don’t really notice this unless it is pointed out to them. (Metal minis are molded directly from the master sculpts, which are placed in unvulcanized rubber or silicone. Plastics are more typically sculpted in a larger scale and then molds made with a “pantograph” machine that traces and reduces them as it cuts the steel mold. This is why 1/72 plastics — especially the soft wargamer/modeller plastics — tend to be very delicately proportioned. The cartoonishness of metals is partly due to aesthetics but partly practical.)

Some fighting men.  The first is Ral Partha from about 1980 or maybe the late 1970s.  Next a Grenadier figure, about 1980 too.  Grenadier was already larger than RP, even back in the day.  Next is a Citadel barbarian from the late 1980s, and finally a Reaper figure from the 2000s.

Because the Grenadier figure was somewhat large even for the line, they mostly look OK together, but the Ral Partha fighter went from being a fairly badass knight to being a dwarf!

Speaking of dwarves.  Ral Partha (1976 or so), Grenadier (1980), Ral Partha (1986 or so), Grenadier (1989), Citadel (late 1980s).

The discrepancy is most apparent between the Citadel dwarf and the RP dwarf.  The former’s fist is literally as big as the latter’s head.

Here are some mounted figures.  For much of the 70s and 80s, cavalry figures had undersized mounts just because the amount of metal needed for a full sized horse would have pushed up prices, or so it is said.  Games Workshop was very proud when they began releasing plastic warhorses that were suitable massive for the scale.  Anyway we see here a Ral Partha fighter (1976 or so); a Citadel plastic LOTR Rohan rider (this line is uncharacteristically well-proportioned and actually pretty close to 25mm rather than 28-30 which we see in their Warhammer line); amd a knight from the company called “Enigma” which I think was Canadian, and specialized in what I always thought looked like Warhammer knock-offs.  The Enigma knights are huge.

If you were picking a figure for your PC, would you even consider the RP knight?  He now passes for a dwarf on a pony in my games.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Published in: on April 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm  Comments (8)  
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Some demihumans

Blame it on Tolkien, but D&D is pretty much a demihuman’s world, in my experience.  I’ve known a few players who always play humans and read the pulps who would have been approved of by Gygax, but most players I’ve known make nonhumans (or “demihumans” as Gygax dubs them).   To some extent later editions of D&D really push the idea that certain demihuman races are “better” or “more iconic” for certain classes.  To some extent all editions of D&D give bonuses to the demihumans that just make them more attractive.  Even back in my hardcore AD&D days, level limits, when enforced or even applicable (most campaigns I’ve played in just didn’t last long enough to hit high levels anyway), did not outweigh the benefits of multiclassing and the logistical advantage of infravision.   It also never hurt that there are tones of cool demihuman figures.  Here are two elves.


Published in: on April 12, 2010 at 12:50 pm  Comments (1)  
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Townsfolk, and a new pic of the hirelings

As always, click to embiggen!

Merchants. Left to right, a Reaper blacksmith, a Citadel merchant, a Grenadier dwarf, and some guy with a book I can’t quite place. (more…)

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm  Comments (6)  
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Army of the dwarfs

My brother has always loved dwarves, and built up quite an army. He was never as patient at painting as I am, and ultimately I finished a lot of these, or painted them start to finish in some cases, although back when we were building Warhammer armies there was a certain rivalry and I hated to waste time when I could be painting my own orcs…anyway since then I’ve rebased his dwarves for HOTT/DBx/etc. (more…)

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm  Comments (6)  
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