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).

 

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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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Flagellants I

So I started painted some of those plastic flagellants. As I mentioned before, Warhammer took the very real phenomenon of flagellants (religious fanatics who scourge themselves and passersby in a religious frenzy) and made them a troop type for the Empire. Apart from the usual exaggeratedly massive weapons, these are not bad figures at all.

The first three are pretty much as intended by the kit — wielding massive flails or scourges (I wish there more of these provided). The bell-ringer also had a massive flail head attached but I removed it as silly. A big bell like that on a rope would be an effective, if loud and clumsy, weapon anyway. I liked blind-folded heads, which is an great idea for someone with an already hazardous weapon like a multiple-headed flail. I do wish at least one body had more tattered clothes so it would look like he’d been scourging himself, but the center guy I just added a lot of blood stains.

I would have preferred to have a few more poses that aren’t running, but the style of Warhammer plastics seems to be action poses.

The great thing about the kit though was the extras — way more heads, arms, and accouterments than you need to assemble the ten bodies provided. So I made nearly as many variants with bodies borrowed from another kit (Zvedza soldiers) and from Lionheart peasants, mixing in a few pieces from the Frostgrave cultist kit and so on.

The guy on the far left is one of my favorites. He’s basically a foot soldier from the Zvedza kit with a flagellant head and banner. I had Lancelot, as he appeared late in Excalibur, wild and fanatical, in mind. The next guy has flagellant arms and head on a man-at-arms body, and the other two are Lionheart peasants with head transplants and modified weapons.

So this is seven of the 18 or so total I’m working on. I find myself stopping a lot though, because they have so many layers of clothing and small details they are kind of a pain to work on. When I get inspired to work on them again I’ll get to them.

Published in: on January 16, 2018 at 10:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Saurians

When I bought a bag of broken minis and assorted spare parts at a convention, among the bits were parts for five Games Workshop lizardmen (I think at one point they were called “Saurians” or “Saurus”?), and a bunch of the smaller lizardmen (“Skinks”). The skinks were mostly used as kobolds. It took me a while to get around to doing anything with most of the Saurians, though, because they were lacking arms and one had no head. When I picked up a couple of plastic GW kits, I figured out a plan. Using parts from the Chaos Marauders box (arms, standards, a shoulder pad, and a shield) and the flagellants box (another arm), as well as a spare arm from a Lionheart figure, I came up with these.

I’m not 100% happy with the feathers yet but I went ahead and sealed them knowing I am unlikely to do much more painting between now and Yule.

I think of the one with the standard as a shaman. I was quite pleased with the look of the other fellow with what is obviously part of the standard as his head/mask/helmet.

And here’s the whole set of lizard folk in my collection now.

Top row: kobolds (skinks, and Grenadier and Heritage, and a handful of plastic WOTC figures).

Second row: old Grenadier lizard men. Painted blue to be troglodytes.

Third row: later Grenadier lizardmen and the GW Saurians.

Bottom row: three WizKids recasts of a Ral Partha lizardman, a couple of WOTC plastic troglodytes, a Grenadier “Salamanewt,” and a Grenadier Champions supervillain/cobraman.

 

Published in: on November 30, 2017 at 5:00 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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Sea monsters

When I was painting up all those pirates and swashbucklers over the summer, I also tried to pull together all the aquatic monsters in my colleciton. It turns out there weren’t all that many unless I count plastic and rubber animals which could be giant crabs, octopodes, sharks, and that sort of thing. Here’s what I did have to paint.

A Reaper marsh troll, a TSR scrag, and Grenadier sahuagin. I spent the most time on the sahuagin, since he’s got a lot of gear, and the Monster Manual description mentions that they are lighter in front, and dark in the back, which makes sense for a fish-man; really almost all animals are lighter on their bellies/undersides and darker on top, as camouflage in the water. I think land animals might retain that as a leftover from evolution. The eyes are described as shiny and black (dead eyes like a doll?) so I just put a couple of dots of white to suggest a glint. The troll I painted similarly.  I believe I read that sahuagin leaders are larger, so the marsh troll is especially suitable on that count, though he should maybe have some equipment.

Before doing those guys, I also painted a pair of mermaids (clear plastic drink hangers), a merman (some kind of rubbery gumball machine toy) and another scrag.

Not sea-related but I also repainted a MageKnight figure that I assume is some kind of night hag on a nightmare. I think that’s some kind of organ she’s hurling. A little big for a heart … maybe it was supposed to be a fireball?

 

Published in: on November 28, 2017 at 5:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Barbarians, halflings, and some monsters

Here’s a real grab bag.

A few barbarians I hadn’t posted yet. Two from Asgard (Viking Forge recasts):

This one sort of replaces a figure I lost … not really sure when. But at one point I had this and a similar unarmored and beardless dude which is no longer in production. Both originally came with a selection of weapons (hand axes, swords, shield, bow and arrows maybe?) but I got mine second hand so I’m not positive what was originally theirs. Anyway I had to give him a different sword than the rather chunky one that he came with, because his hands are tiny, almost Trump-like.

Next up is another Asgard/VF barbarian, fairly traditional.

This guy is a MageKnight figure, and honestly not the best in terms of pose, detail, and proportions. But he’ll work as Chaos Thug or something.

TSR’s Conan the king. The axe is a replacement. He’s probably the worst figure in the set — he came with a neat Thak the Ape (which probably was the main reason my brother bought the set) and a decent Thoth-Amon, as well as an excellent  vampiress and a couple of serpent things.

 

A couple of random monsters, both Grenadier. On the left, a Vegetation Beast, from the Fragon Lords “Horrors of the Marsh” set. This was a rather odd set — it had great work by John Dennett, but for whatever reason he must have been ordered to partly replicate the original AD&D “Denizens of the Swamp”. Both sets had lizard men, a giant snake, a troll, and plant-based monster, though they diverged from there. Anyway he’s a great and unique monstrosity. The gargoyle next to him is a bit of a cheat. The wings are not original — I got the figure second-hand with no wings, but also acquired the wings separately in a trade. I think they are Reaper — I remember them making a blister of spare bird and bat wings to customize your own angels and devils or something.

FWIW here are all my fungus and plant monsters, including slimes but leaving out the treants (hah!), in their designated box.

Two more monsters — a HeroClix villian repainted as a beastman or satyr, and a hag (night hag?) from Metal Magic (a MegaMinis recast). I’m not 100% happy with the night hag. I kind of rushed the eyes and they look like bloody sockets rather than glowing red. I can’t remember anything about the superhero/villain except that he is an alien of some kind and exiled from his planet. I don’t even remember if he is a DC or Marvel character. But he makes a good beastman.

As a break from the barbarian horde, I started looking at my halflings, who have always been under-represented on my painting desk. Here are a bunch of Ral Partha halfling militia. Don’t look too close, really need to finish them up later. They unusually petite. Here’s a couple next to a Grenadier halfling. The rest of that set (barring the archer, which has been MIA for decades) will be coming soon…

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Nagas, mushroom men, hell hounds, and a thingthing

Am I still painting a lot? Oh hell yeah. As usual, quantity takes primacy over quality.

First up, two nagas from the Descent board game.

They follow the old Monster Manual illustration pretty spot-on. Though I didn’t apply the mascara.

D&DNaga.JPG

For scale, here’s a Grenadier wizard I probably didn’t post already. He should have had a skull on his staff but the one I traded for was broken. The round orb is just the end of a stickpin.

Interestingly, Way back in the early 1980s when Dimensions for Children released a series of fantasy playsets and action figures (Dragonriders of the Styx), one of their designs was based on the Monster Manual illustration too. TSR sent a cease & desist letter (I’m not clear on how a sculpture can violate a copyright on drawing; it certainly wasn’t a patented image, but then again who wants to go to court?) and soon the toy naga was appearing with the face completely removed. Original on left, later version on right!

Image result for naga monster manual dfc

I managed to score a later naga in a trade some time ago, and painted him (her? it?) up thus:

Anyway I also finished the last three Descent hell hounds I have:

Here they are with the same wizard and the three I painted earlier:

I was really on a roll with the plastic monsters; here are three Reaper Bones fungoids/mushroommen/myconids or whatever they’re called:

I already had a metal version of the big guy, and I’d say he’s an almost exact replica. Maybe a slight loss of detail on the staff and cap.

Finally, I painted the last of the demons from the MegaMinis monster box I bought some time back. It’s a weird insect-like thing, and while he looks ok from the side, he suffers from the same flatness of other demons originally made by Metal Magic.

They call it a demon, but I’m not really convinced. I’d call it more of an alien. Or a thing. Or a thingthing.

Published in: on November 7, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Human giants

“Verbeeg, or human behemoths, are a race of human giants…”–Monster Manual II

Per the Monster Manual II, verbeeg are 8 1/2 to 10 feet tall, while firbolg are 10 1/2 feet tall.

These two were sold as Firbolg during TSR’s short-lived turn as a miniatures manufacturer, but I always thought of them a half-ogres or Verbeeg, based on their relative size. They’re pretty close in size to the Grenadier AD&D “Giants,” which could only be hill giants (and really are ogre sized at best). If I were going to quibble I’d also say that the TSR minis should be armed with greatswords or halberds, per the MMII, rather than axes.

Together with the plastic cavemen and Grenadier giants I am calling troggs, these and few other miscellaneous figures are grouped together in my collection as “human giants,” whatever that means — the MMII terminology is ambiguous. Why call them “human giants”? Are they a distinct race? Or just humans with acromegaly or some magical affliction?

I include this Grenadier ogre from the Wizzards & Warriors line:

He’s no more than 7 feet tall in scale, but looks like a shaman or witch-doctor for the tribe.

I also finally painted an Adina giant and a viking from the “Crossbows and Catapults” game. (Somehow I unede up with just one example of each of the vikings and barbarians from that game).

The Viking actually fits the Verbeeg description the best, as they should be relatively slim for giant types. The Adina giant is barely taller than a normal human, as you can see below with a Heritage knight for reference. Though he is very stocky.

I also snagged a few HeroClix figures that I thought I’d use as young giants. I think they represent a DC villain. The huge craniums make them look a bit like children.

I was pretty happy with how their animal skin togas turned out.

So here’s the complete collection of Verbeegs and Troggs:

Published in: on November 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm  Comments (3)  
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