The triumph of death, again

I’ve always like the Bruegel painting “The triumph of death.” I was pretty happy to find some miniatures clearly based on the design there, and relatively cheaply. Getting them gave me the impetus to also paint a handful of skeletons from the Valley of the Four Winds line, made by Minifgs in the 1970s. All the images can be clicked to enlarge, but unfortunately that will also make some of the defects of my painting more evident.

First up though, some Skull and Crown skeletons. The majority are armed with “war darts” rather like the fellows in the lower left of Bruegel’s painting, including the coffin-lid shields.

I got my Skull & Crown figures second hand, and had to supply some different weapons for the marching pose.

There were also some “command” figures — musicians with a horn and two hurdy-gurdies, a pair of champions with laurel crowns, swords, and hourglasses, and three torch-bearers.

These were not the first figures to be inspired by Bruegel. The Minifigs “Valley of the four winds” line had a whole army of skeletons mostly based on Breugel (along with other monstrosities from Bosch, but I don’t have any of those).

My Minifigs skeletons also came second hand, and had to have a few repairs made.

Unfortunately they are “true” 25mm scale, perhaps closer to 1/72 scale, while the newer skeletons are in the modern “heroic” 28mm scale.

I also painted a few more ornate Games Workshop skeletons I bought a couple of years ago.

 

Great detail, especially considering they are plastic.

One last skeleton, not so triumphant — a Ral Partha “wounded skeleton”.

And as long as the dead are walking about seasonally, here are a few mummies. The center one is an old Citadel figure, flanked by two Grenadier mummies. On the right, the original sculpt for the “Wizzards & Warriors” line, and on the left the resculpt of the figure for the AD&D “Solid Gold” line.

Published in: on October 17, 2019 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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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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Denn die Todten reiten Schnell

Admittedly one of the weirder miniatures now in my collection, this is a “Corpse Cart” from Games Workshop. I found the kit in a discount bin so how could I not? There were a few extra bits for alternative assemblies and customization. It’s not my neatest paint job, but I’m happy with it.

As you can see, it’s a cart pulled by a team of zombies who have apparently been nailed to, or impaled on, the yoke. The corpses in the cart don’t all look dead, and they are being munched on by a handful of giant rats (some of them are tunneling through the bodies).

The ghoulish driver might be a vampire, or some kind of necromancer. I have no idea how this thing functions in a game of Warhammer, but I imagine it either spreads terror through the opponents’ ranks, or rams into them like an Achaemenid Persian scythed chariot. Maybe your necromancers can use it to raise additional zombie forces. In that case it sort of goes with the Skeleton recruiting party.

I do like how the cart mimics a rib cage.

The blood splatter was accomplished by taking an old toothbrush, loading it with a bit of paint, and running my thumb across it so it splattered the model when I nearly finished painting it.

While I was waiting for various parts to dry, I worked on some vampires, which I’ll photograph eventually. Here’s a Grenadier “Blood giant,” which I suppose is what happens when a giant or ogre gets bitten.

I was still having fun with the gore effects. The fuzz near his feet is meant to suggest a cloud of fog or smoke. His left foor was not fully formed and there was a suggestion of liquid or gas welling up around him, so maybe he’s emerging from, or disappearing into, some fog.

Here a few other odds and ends I painted recently.

The first is one of John Dennett’s Grenadier figures from the Monster Manuscript series. Maybe inspired by the Mi-go of H.P. Lovecraft.

Next up, a Superior Models wizard. Very clearly based on the description of Gandalf from the Hobbit; his eyebrows really do come out to the brim of his hat! I like the face in the staff too.

Lastly, three serpent folk.

The oldest is a Grenadier “Wizzards & Warriors” medusa. It’s a rarity, being male. His expression makes me think of “Little” Steven van Zandt. The arms are very disproportionate. It’s obviously one of the very early monsters from that range, when Andrew Chernack was still developing his skills.

The other medusa is from German “Metal Magic” line. It’s pretty standard looking but nicely sculpted.

The last one I’m not sure about. His left arm probably had another “sword” originally, but it had been cut off when I got him. He’s holding a shield from the Zvedza “Orku” set. I got that figure in a lot with a bunch of broken or incomplete figures sold as scrap metal on ebay.

Published in: on August 7, 2019 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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2019, minis painted to date

I’ve had a handful of productive days painting, in spite of everything.

On my birthday, I finally painted the infamous Ral Partha three-headed troll!

It is a bit of a testament to Tom Meier’s skill as a sculptor that when I uploaded a photo of this on Ye Faces Booke, I was asked to tag Curly and Larry!

I decided to also paint a Ral Partha AD&D ettin. I already had one from many years ago, so I painted this one red, after the fairy tale Red Ettin (which had three heads, but who’s counting?)

And here’s a group shot all the ettins I’ve painted to date. The tan ettin has the oldest paint job, though the green one (Grenadier) is my oldest and was repainted when I was in college some 25 years ago.

Next up, a Grenadier dragon. He came in a lot of old minis and needed a new passenger side front claw. A spare bit from a GW cold one sufficed. Because the color scheme is so simple he hardly took any time to finish.

That same lot had a bunch of really old dungeon dressing, mostly from Grenadier’s old Wizzards & Warriors line.

Two small statues that reminded me of Tikis:

A couple of thrones or chairs. I believe they’re from the same “temple” set, but have what I can only assume are Indic naga figures on the backs.

A pair of altars. Scale creep is real. On the left, a Reaper Bones altar; on the right, the Grenadier W&W altar. The demonic figure behind the small altar is a bit shorter than a typical man-sized 25mm miniature.

Next, a few piles of bullion from the Grenadier W&W treasure room set. I have a another pile that came as a “bonus” in a set of supervillian villains from Grenadier.

And these are pretty cool. On the right, an iron maiden (also Grenadier W&W) and on the left, a mystery figure that seems to have been a “bonus” mini in certain Grenadier “Encounter …” boxed sets. Several other pieces from the Encounter at Lloth-Komar were in the lot, and a FB group member asserts he got the same piece in his set, so maybe it’s just in that one.

This next piece is a hammer from the board game “Dark World” mounted as a Spiritual Hammer spell. That spell has often featured in our D&D games so it will be nice to have a way to keep track of it.

Another quickie paint job is this Reaper silver dragon. This too came it a big lot I bought online, and luckily with all its pieces.

Back to the scenery, here’s a Minifigs Valley of the Four Winds figure: man impaled on tree. The VFW line is pretty great, and this one — from 1978 — is pretty unsettling. The humans in that range tend to be either in baroque armor from an Ian Miller drawing or 19th century finery. This chap has a high collared jacket and spats!

Also from Lloth-Komar: a dragon statue.

Next up a couple of fun items scavenged from bits and parts. Inspired by the 1980s Michael Caine thriller “The Hand,” I took a bunch of spare hands from a plastic kit and made a swarm of hands.

I also found an unidentifiable pair of hands that probably go to a scale model. The other hand holds a gun. But the clenched fist screams Bigby’s Hand spells, so I painted it up as one.

For scale, next to the wizard form last update.

The greenish paint you may have noticed on the spells is a GW “technical” paint I bought on a lark. I decided to try it on some spirits I recently acquired. On the left, a Grenadier ghost. There is another version with a less fluttery cloak and base, and I have a few of those, so I decided to put this one on a wire like it’s floating. Next to it is a Minifigs Sword & Sorcery line ghoul.

On the far left, a Wizzards & Warriors wraith. The other two are later versions of the wraith/ghost. They don’t really lean to the side, that is an artifact of taking a photo close up with my phone. I have a lot of ghosts and wraiths painted various shades of grey, black, or white, so I figured I’d add a little color.

I was really pleased to find this tree man (“Tree with arms and face”) from the VFW line. His companions are a couple of tree stumps made out of polymer clay, and will naturally serve as casualty markers for ents.

These two were fun. On the left, a toilet mimic, made of soft rubber and probably from a gumball machine. I inserted a wire for stability and painted a few layers of Mod Podge on it to make it a bit more stable and keep the paint from flaking off. The chest is just a plastic piece from a Weapons and Warriors game. I keep finding components to the games I picked up on clearance when Kay Bee went under 10 or 12 years ago.

These are a couple of pillars from Citadel’s Fantasy Specials line. You never can have too many pillars.

Another mini that somehow took me about thirty-five years to paint is this table from the Grenadier AD&D “Wizard’s room” set. Next to it is a scratch-built flying carpet made form epoxy putty. There’s a 1″ x 1″ flat space on it for a mini to occupy. I meant to eventually make all the possible sizes of flying carpets from the DMG but never got inspired.

I especially like the little lizard behind the skull candle holder.

Lastly, a ballista which I am unsure of the origins of. The lot it came in had both Roman and Orc crew from Grenadier, and a catapult, so maybe Grenadier. It’s quite large though, so maybe some other company. I added the string (a bit of thread).

Published in: on March 9, 2019 at 9:34 am  Comments (1)  
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Bards and stuff

I’m still not painting as regularly as I’d like, but here’s a few I did in the past month. All still need their bases finished.

First, a bard that I’ve had for about 35 years. He came in the “Woodland adventurers” box.IMG_20181004_231821841

Here he is with the rest of the band. The harpist is another Grenadier AD&D bard (from the “Specialists” box) and the lute-player is from one of the MPC “Action Scenes” kits, which had hard plastic figures based on the Grenadier designs (her lead counterpart is a mirror image though and less ape-like in appearance).

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The two horn-players are (left) a plastic Zvedza musician and on the right a Ral Partha trumpeter. Not exactly bards but I kind of like the idea of bard with a huge horn like that.

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Here they are announcing a Chronopia bronze golem.

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The white orbs should probably be painted as gem stones, which I might do later.

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And two Reaper Bones selkies.

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Published in: on October 30, 2018 at 12:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier Supplement

Terence Gunn is at it again, Kickstarting a supplement to his book on Grenadier Models. You can follow the link below. It looks like it will be an archive of photographs that did not make into the first book, plus some special articles, an interview with publicist Kim Eastland, and a reprint of the entire run of Grenadier Bulletins published in the 80s and 90s.

If you missed the The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier book, you can also get a copy of that by pledging a bit more. Well worth it if you like old lead.

There’s only a week to go!

 

Published in: on May 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm  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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Cultists

The latest batch are mostly plastics, and all meant to stand in for cultists.

Left to right, a MageKnight figure, a modified Frostgrave cultist, Grenadier’s Grima Wormtongue, and two Descent figures, a PC and a modified warlock.

The Grima figure is very small — he might be 4 foot tall, in scale, if he wasn’t hunched over. The Guy in red is from the Descent game, and is some sort of character type, maybe a monk or necromancer. Skull-face has a head from a GW skeletons kit (which will eventually be showing up) but otherwise unmodified.

The lady in black needed a little repainting and though it’s not visible here, she has a white streak in her hair, Elvira style. The cultist next to her has a head from the Zvedza soldier kit but is otherwise all Frostgrave.

Leftmost, a Frostgrave cultist. His right arm is the archer pose, but with the dagger hand swapped in. He’s holding a book from the GW Flagellants kit. Next to him is a Zvedza soldier body with a Frostgrave cultist head, flagellant scroll, and sword made from a pin and a toothpick. Third up is a Descent warlock, unmodified. The last is the same guy with a head swap.

The last four here are all Frostgrave cultist parts except for the mace-man’s arms and weapon, the scroll, and the torch — all flagellants parts.

Here’s a full container of cultists. The remaining guys are older GW chaos sorcerers, a Grenadier evil high priest, and a couple of WOTC figures. I still have some more plastic and metal to paint — including two more Grenadier priests — but this should do it for now.

Published in: on December 13, 2017 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Advent Die Geburt Krampuskind

Just noticed my #shamelesscommerce in the last few posts is being frustrated by the fact that the publisher’s site is down (though you can still cop a pdf at DTRP). Anyway here’s another seasonal repost. <Update — new site to buy it in hard copy>

nat-der-kra-2

In just eighteen days we’ll be celebrating the nativity of the Krampuskind!

Left to right we see a manger animal (Reaper Miniatures), an angel (Ral Partha), Krampusjoseph (Heritage Models), the Krampuskind (Dollar Tree),  Krampusmary and two magi (all Metal Magic), and a third magi (Grenadier).

Krampus gloriam in excelsis!

Amen!

Click the image below to embiggen…

nativity der krampuskind

Published in: on December 7, 2017 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rats!

I was inspired to paint most of my were-rats. Actually a couple were repainted — I decided that I’d like them all to look similar, and the paint jobs on two of them were pretty bad. I also have a few other were-rats, ratmen, or Skaven that were painted adequately, or at least didn’t need to be redone. They were completed in two sessions over Thanksgiving weekend, along with a few other figures that will appear later.

First up, the two oldest sculpts, which are also the least equipped. On the left, a Heritage Dungeon Dweller. I’m not sure if his sword is broken or miscast; I have never seen an example with a longer sword but based on the hilt it look like it must have been longer; possibly the sculpt was intended to represent a broken sword? On the right, a Grenadier were-rat dating from the Wizzards and Warriors line. I didn’t risk straightening out his sword, because those old Grenadiers break a lot. He came in the “Dungeon Monsters” box which was also sold as part of the AD&D line.

Next up, some slightly later Grenadier were-rats, from the AD&D line. There are two poses in the original blister I don’t have, and the leftmost is the were-rat leader is from the boxed “Action Art” set that came with paints and various monsters designed by TSR staff.

I especially like the one with a falchion. The kitchen knife in his belt and small keg, and especially the tassel on his cap, all give him a lot of character. Both the leftmost figures have giant rats at their feet, and the leader has another on his shoulder, which is a great touch. He originally had a separate scimitar to glue on, which seems excessive given that he already has a warhammer in his belt, but since he was sculpted with a flattened area to attach the sword to, I gave him a replacement gladius. The spearman’s spear was also broken, so he’s got a bill now. All three of the figures from the blister pack were sent in by blog readers. Some time back a couple of guys sent me a bunch of old minis they were not going to use, and a few others also traded some figures to me for books I was done with. The Heritage were-rat was one I got in trade, I think.

Finally, a Skaven assassin of some kind. He’s a Games Workshop plastic and was in a bag of spare parts and broken figures I picked up as Origins one year.

Like many GW Skaven, he has a mace head on his tail, which is kind of silly since rats don’t have a lot of control of their tails. Maybe Skaven tails are more prehensile.

And here’s the lot, ready to go back on the shelf. There are ten plastic Skaven from the old GW “Regiments” box that had ten each of wood elves, orcs, goblins, Skaven, dark elves, and dwarves. There are also two more metal Skaven (top row), and a Ral Partha rat man (middle row far left), and a later Grenadier were-rat (far left bottom row). 20 were-rats ready for battle!

Published in: on November 29, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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