New recruits for the Army of Darkness

The very first miniature I remember buying was a skeleton. A hobby shop in town had several of the Grenadier large boxed sets open under the counter, and you could buy a loosey for $1. I picked the skeleton with a sword raised over his head — a very simple sculpt, and, it turned out, very fragile. But I had loved skeleton decorations at Halloween, and was kind of obsessed with drawing them and so on to the extent that my parents briefly thought I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. Anyway I have slowly been working getting all my undead figures painted, and earlier this year I hacked away at the cavalry and a few other larger pieces. Photo dump!

These ghostly riders are a pair of Prince August undead riders I cast from a mold and a Heritage undead rider from the Knights & Magick range.

Since I have the mold and lots of metal, I made a handful of riders to fill out the ranks. These are painted more like traditional skeletonmen. The shield for the rider is, unfortunately, where they decided to place the main sprue opening (where you pour in the molten metal) so several of them I just added a plastic shield rather than try to reconstruct the demon face that is supposed to be on the small heater shield.

I also decided to repair and touch up some skeleton cavalry I painted in the early 1990s. These are all Grenadier — the first two from boxed sets and the others from Fantasy Lords blister packs.

This big fellow I painted for Ral Partha Legacy. They sent me another as payment, but I haven’t decided if I want to use undead crew or not. Since this one has skeletons crewing it, I tried to make the mammoth look like he’d been revived from the dead too — hence the bluish skin on the trunk and eyelids and blood seeping from the ear. I probably should have added some gore or ribs poking through the coat, but I didn’t want to aler the model in case they use it in their catalog rather than just for convention games.

These next ones are all Grenadier — two zombie riders and good old Napoleon Boneyparts on the litter. I have a second Napoleon with a bunch of other skeletons added to a large base for use in wargames, but I when I chanced to get this copy I decided to try to leave leave him as cast. Like the Prince August riders above, I went for “speed painting” on these.

The rest of these are conversions and kitbashes. First up, a Dragontooth figure, called “Rictus, the zombie king.” Mine was lacking his sword and head. I gave him a Citadel plastic head and left his hand empty, as if he’s waving his troops onward.

I have very, very few Dragontooth minis in my collection. I never saw them in stores and the company folded in the 1980s. The few I have turned up in assorted job lots. They are certainly crude, but have a ton of personality. Tom Loback, who did most of the sculpts, was a serious artist and worked on all kinds of things after he got out of miniatures, including building driftwood statues that he left, unsigned, along the river near his home.

Next up is a kit bash using a Grenadier horse, Rafm shield, Maurauder rider, and an arm supplied by figure from the Lionheart game. He was also speed-painted and the photos show a lot of imperfections, but at least he’s not a pile of loose bits any more.

The last was a very long term project. The cart driver is a Citadel figure I chanced to pick up in a bag of bits at an Origins convention in 2003 or 2004. I’d been planning to build my own version of the plague cart since I first saw it in a white dwarf in the 80s or 90s, but the kit was so expensive. A year or two ago I realized I finally had all the bits I’d need.

The horse is a Eureka mini from their Chaos Army line. The bottom of the cart was a partial wagon from a Heritage kit for an orc war-drum. I scratch-built the yoke and poles, rather crudely. The sides of the wagon are from a skeletal dragon. I had just the tail, neck, and ribs from a job lot I  bought online.

The banner is from a Reaper kit — it was to be carried by a wraith, who I instead armed with a sword. The additional bits (skulls, heads, etc.) are from Games Workshop and Zvedza plastic kits.

The cargo is a coffin from a Minifigs kit — I built mine using the pile of bones instead, so I had this loose coffin.

I did eventually finish the bases on these with flocking and grass tufts, not pictured.

Published in: on September 23, 2022 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More orc & goblin cavalry

Still terrible photos from my phone but here are the rest of the orc & goblin cavalry I’ve finished.

First up: some boar riders. These are some Citadel figures — an orc and a goblin.

The next two are from a company I have found very little about. They were called Enigma, naturally. They had a short run in late 1990s, making figures that were chunky knock-offs of Citadel’s Warhammer Fantasy and 40k lines. They always came with solid metal bases that were separate from the figure, but with no slots or points to attach them. These two are a leader/boss type and a shaman.

Net up various conversions. The first two are Milton Bradley/Games Workshop BattleMasters figures mounted on toys — in this case a chicken and a rat. They were pretty fun to do.

The next two are Ral Partha hobgoblins which were meant to ride boars as well. I used one boar to draw my Grenadier orc beer wagon, and the other I use without the rider, so these two needed mounts. I used some home-cast horses from Prince August molds for them, and I think they look pretty good.


This next figure was really beast, both to assemble and to paint. It’s a very old Grenadier war mammoth. The mahout is original (I think it’s an orc or hobgoblin?) but the two crew are from the AD&D Orcs Lair set. The axe-man in that set breaks easily and mine has a pike to replace it.

Here’s a look at the crew before I glued them into the howda.

Lastly, an orc riding a dragon from the Grenadier Fantasy Lords line. I repainted this one as the paint was worn off in several spots.

Published in: on September 22, 2022 at 5:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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Speaking of home-casting

If you want to cast your own 25mm fantasy miniatures, the best bet (and the only one I can vouch for) would be those offered by the Dunken Company — an American distributor of Prince August molds (in Europe, you can buy directly from Prince August).

One other option I’m often tempted to try are the molds offered by Castings.  Their fantasy molds appear to include some old Grenadier designs.  I assume they are properly licensed.  The link goes directly to their fantasy line, and the very small image looks like it includes:

  • a skeleton from the Tomb of Spells set (SR 188)
  • an umber hulk (SR 190)
  • a djinn (SR192)
  • a cleric (SR 185)

as well as at least one Heritage casting (a lizard man, also in SR 188)

I am sure I’ve seen the treant (SR 194) before too.  The rest I am less certain about, as the image is pretty poor quality.  If any of you out there can ID the others, I’d be interested in hearing what they are.

The previous owner of the Dunken Company offered some unlicensed molds made of Heritage models but the new owner has (correctly) taken them off the market.

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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A while back (I think it would have been in 2001 or 2002) I made six chess sets as Christmas presents (for my father, brother, father-in-law, step-father-in-law, and two brothers-in-law).

Not all of them are chess players (and really I’m a terrible chess player, probably the worst of the lot), but all appreciated getting something hand-crafted.  Each set was a little different, in how the board itself and the pieces were painted, but all the pieces were made from a set of molds by Prince August and the boards were made from 18″ wide shelf lumber.  After my father-in-law passed away and his effects were divided among  his kids, I took his chess board (we’d played several memorable games on that set; he was a lot better than me but my unpredictable play made it a bit of a challenge for him because he could never tell if I was really making that dumb a move).  I plan to find a permanent home for it, as it is actually in better shape than the other sets I made (everyone else has kids/grandkids, cats, or both, and from what I’ve seen their pieces are pretty battered, but my father-in-law kept his set stored safely in a box.  I should add that I don’t mind seeing the other sets a little battered, as it shows they have had use!)

Here is board (which is just stained and painted, then sealed with polyurethane; a few upholstery tacks serve as the shield bosses):

And here is the underside of the board, with a short historical note on Saladin and Richard the Lionheart (depicted as the kings).  I also put four furniture ‘gliders’ on it to keep it the board stable (I was afraid they’d warp over time) and protect the table-top.

Click to embiggen, if you want to read it.

And now some details of the pieces.  All were cast in a lead/tin alloy I bought from the Dunken Company, the American distributor of Prince August and other molds.  I think I went with the “Chess metal,” which was a little cheaper thna the “Model metal” but still very good.

The Richard (white) side and Saladin's side (black)



The Richard (white?) side

Saladin's side (black?)


I might cast some more of some of these pieces:

Rooks. They're neat little towers to use in some other game...

The knights -- about 28 or 30 mm scale!

Published in: on October 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm  Comments (11)  
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Caverns of Doom figures, rebased etc.

I started this blog, lo these many weeks ago, to document a project of recreating the Caverns of Doom and the Sorcerer’s Crypt.  As I sought out information to fill in some gaps (Ihad lost some of the rules sheets and discarded the boxes, which had the character and monster stats in the case of the Sorcerer’s Crypt.  I found Scottsz’s Sorcerers of Doom project and was so impressed with what he was up to that I thought I’d start my own blog.  That’s when I put up most of the “static pages” too, as I was figuring out how blogs work.  The Caverns of Doom page just shows the map.  You can see some older, blurry pics on the Caverns of Doom post here.

So I touched up a few of these guys, and rebased them all on dungeon black.  I still have a few other original Heritage figures that came with the set to paint up, but in the meantime I’ve got similarly old-school stand-ins for the rest.

Left to right, a Grenadier wizard, a Prince August elf (cast from a mold), a Grenadier cleric, a TSR barbarian (the original figure in the set is a “barbarian woman”), a Heritage paladin, standing in for the knight, and the original thief figure, still one of the best D&D thieves I’ve seen.  They are standing on the map I made.

A slightly better shot of the wizard.  He is clearly using some sort of protection scroll, as it is pointed at his opponent!

Some of the monsters.  not pictured: the rats.  I have three of the original four rats, but usually use some plastic rats from the Heroquest game.  Back row, left to right, Grenadier vampire, original Heritage skeleton archer, Grenadier skeleton, original Heritage demon, a Standard Games mon-ogre standing in for the hobgoblin.  Front row, a Grenadeir slime and a spider made from a dollar store toy (you can get bags of dozens of these little glow-in-the dark spiders at Halloween…).

But the Caverns of Doom are deadly because of the Dragon most of all.  My Heritage dragon is mostly MIA (I still have the body section but not the head, wings, and tail!).  so I use a Grenadier that is the right size (3″ long) to fill the three squares.

Quite feline, actually.  This dragon is clearly the stalking kind.  I don’t like how the striped tail turned out but otherwise I’m happy with him.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 5:51 am  Comments (2)  
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The death of Harold Godwinson

Granted, the Vikings are more popular, and the Normans were the final victors, but the English army of 1066 had heart.   Harold and his men raced north to repel a massive Viking invasion, catching the enemy by surprise and massacring them.  Then they raced south to Hastings, shedding most of their (horseless) light troops and levies along the way.  There Normans won the day, but only after taking shocking casualties from the Huscarl’s axes.   The dismounted huscarls of Harold’s army turned back repeated charges by the Norman knights, which is pretty incredible really. (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Norman, is that you?

The Normans, as you may know, were descendants of Vikings (Northmen =>Norman) in France.  They spoke French but were basically vikings on big ass horses (for the time) with state of the art arms and armor.  One charming account of their diplomacy is mentioned by John Julius Norwich:

Calling a halt, [the Byzantine Catapan] sent a messenger across to them, offering the choice: either they could leave Byzantine territory peaceably and at once, or they must face his own army in battle on the morrow.

The Normans had heard communications of that sort before, and knew how to deal with them.  During the harangue one of the twelve chiefs, Hugh Tuboeuf, had approached the messenger’s horse, and had been stroking it approvingly; now, as the man finished, he suddenly turned and struck it one mighty blow between the eyes with his bare fist, laying the luckless animal unconscious on the ground.  At this, according to Malaterra, the messenger in a paroxysm of fear fainted dead away, but the Normans, having with some difficulty restored him to his senses, gave him a new horse, better than the first, on which they sent him back to the Catapan with the message that they were ready.
Source (more…)

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 10:14 am  Comments (3)  
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“Deliver us, oh Lord, from the fury of the Northmen”

Hide the gold and silver, and lock up your able-bodied youths (who will be enslaved) and maidens (who will be… well you know), here come the Vikings with their Land-waster banner. My banner is based on a sail design from a second-hand souvenir dragon ship , which was made in Norway or Denmark.


Published in: on March 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The army of Elfland

Click to embiggen, as usual! This army is chiefly composed of figures I cast with Prince August molds, plus a few Ral Partha elves and a couple of Grenadier figures. One stand of Citadel plastic elves can also be seen in the rear left above. (more…)

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bring out your dead!

A nice post over at Destination Unknown made me want to post my own casualty minis, especially since in our game this week we needed a down figure for all four of the adventurers!

Turns out a dozen or so Hobgoblins and Hobhounds can take out four 2nd-3rd level characters pretty fast!

Here are five Grenadier miniatures (the last one is really a thief climbing a wall).  The first four were sold as a set — two adventurers and two goblins or orcs.

I needed some more diversity though — what about elves and dwarfs?

The dwarf is by TSR (from the brief period they made their own figures.  His weapon broke off a long time ago and no-one ever used him as their PC).  The knight is a plastic figure from a Weapons & Warriors game, filed down to lay flat.  The elves were cast from Prince August molds.

I also did some more whimsical casualties:

A head from a Citadel Chaos Warrior and a pair of boots from a larger scale WWII figure, no doubt the victims of some seriously failed saving throws.

Lastly, a few treasures (scratch built from bits and glitter), two chalk outlines, (the most generic casualties yet) and couple of Grenadier skeletons which were broken  long ago but too good to throw away.

If you have any broken, bent, or unused figures, this is a pretty good way to make sure they get some use.

Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 3:23 am  Comments (2)  
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