Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Heroes of Durin's Folk

This is the sixth Lord of the Rings project off the workbench since the middle of December. It is a group of Dwarf heroes, specifically two Dwarf kings, Gimli, son of Glóin, and Múrin and Drár, a pair of inseparable Dwarf adventurers. 

These all started with a black primer coat, followed by acrylic base colours, drybrushed highlights, and the occasional wash to accentuate the shadows  where necessary. I find doing a set of miniatures of such variety a slow process since there is only a small area of any one colour. I spend as much time switching paints and cleaning brushes as I do actually painting. Still, I am happy with the final results.

"Dwarf Kings rule the realms of the Dwarves across Middle-earth, from Ered Luin to beyond the Iron Hills. Gruff and uncompromising, they are firm allies to their friends and grim death to their foes." These are two of four different sculpts of Dwarf kings that were available from Games Workshop. They don't have specific names, so they can stand in for Durin or Dain Ironfoot as necessary.

 "Like all Dwarf-kind Gimli, son of Glóin, is a grim and plain-speaking but also doughty warrior. He is a strong arm in a fight, able to wield his deadly axes with a skill that surpasses all but the greatest Dwarf warriors. Many are the Orcs  who have fallen beneath his blade. When King Dain is troubled by the emissaries of Sauron, Gimli is chosen to accompany his aged father, Glóin to the Council of Elrond. There they warn the council of Sauron's designs, and his hunt for Bilbo Baggins." This particular sculpt is from the now OOP Games Workshop 'Heroes of Helm's Deep' set.

 "In the Third Age, few Dwarves are prone to wanderlust, preferring the sanctuary and familiarity of their holds to the dubious pursuit of life in the wider world. Múrin and Drár are two exceptions to this rule, having travelled far and wide beyond their home. Though not blood relatives, the two are inseparable friends - though they still quarrel frequently, as one should expect of Dwarves. Both are more than willing to take their blades to Orc-flesh on behalf of those in need." The two characters are not part of the Middle-earth canon created by Tolkien, but rather a creation of Games Workshop. The inseparability of the two is emphasized by the single point value for the pair. You can't get just one of them. With the collection of packs and bedrolls they are carrying, they could also be used in other fantasy game systems like Frostgrave or Dungeons and Dragons.

More Dwarves to hit the workbench in the next week, a full company equipped with hand axe and shield, two-handed axe, and Dwarf bow, plus some conversions to form the crew of my Zvezda ballista that I did back in December. All these will hopefully see action in the reconquest of Moria.

Until then, stay safe and healthy.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria and Khazâd Guard

Another Lord of the Rings project off the Dusty workbench - Balin, Lord of Moria and his bodyguard. Six of the 11 Khazâd Guard were painted several years ago. Following their completion, I acquired five more off of eBay, along with the Balin figure.

"Balin, son of Fundin of the folks of Durin, was one of the most famous Dwarf heroes of his day and age. He led a Dwarven contingent to reclaim Khazad-dum, the greatest of all the lost kingdoms of Dwarves. Initially he was sucessful and was crowned Lord of Moria, but later he was ambushed by goblins and slain. Not until the Fellowship discovered his grave would the rest of the world discover what had occurred those long years ago."


 When painting, I sometimes find certain miniatures are a bit tedious. However, this was a fun figure to paint. Starting with a black primed figure, I layered on progressively lighter shades of the different colours until I had the look I wanted. I especially liked the detail in Balin's beard and hair braids. A very impressive sculpt, I completed it in an evening.

"Those that form the Khazâd Guard are handpicked from the toughest warriors. Setting aside ties to their kinband, these warriors take new oaths to serve and protect their king, no matter the cost. In combat these battle-hardened veterans wear terrifying war-masks and don coats of Mithril armour, making the Khazâd Guard the most fearsome warriors available to a Dwarven army. Their only duty is to preserve their Lord."

 The original six Khazâd Guard were purchased as three-figure blisters, but the last five were another eBay rescue. They were rather poorly painted without the original figures being primed, and then a thick layer of model railway 'ballast' was added to the bases that partially buried the figures' feet. I was able to buy them for the minimum bid, but the seller then shipped them with the 'minimum amount of packaging'. He simply tossed them loosely into a padded envelope and put it in the mailbox. As one might expect, this did not go well. All the figures were bent where they attached to the base, one base was cracked, and one figure that was holding his axe overhead had the axe broken off.

 The five miniatures were cleaned, carefully straightened again, some of the excess ground work scraped off, and the broken axe repaired using my pin vise hand drill and a short length of florist's wire. They were then primed black and painted in a colour scheme to match the earlier six Khazâd Guard that I had done. This involved lots of gunmetal, followed by silver highlighting on the chainmail armour and weapons, brass on the helmets and plate armour, green tunics and grey trousers, a base of dark brown on all the hair and beards, then drybrushed with different lighter browns to give the company some variety. 

Balin, Fundinul, Uzbad Khazad Dûmu - Balin, Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria

I have a company of Dwarves waiting in the wings, but next up will be some Dwarf Heroes. I am looking at a campaign of the re-conquest of the Mines of Moria once we get back to gaming again. Until then, stay safe and healthy.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 4 - Byzantine Cavalry (Encore)

Byzatine Kavallroi on maneuvers in my kitchen.

Things move along slowly at my painting table, but they are still moving. This submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge continues with my 28mm Byzantine project - here we have even more cavalry to add to my small-but-growing forces. These are 28mm metal castings from Gripping Beast - there are six "Heavy Kavallroi" troopers and four "Hippo-Toxotai" (mounted archers). Four of the figures have shields with LBMS tansfers, and two of the shields are hand-painted - no issues with the transfers here, I just can't count, and didn't have enough transfers on I whipped up an easy shield paint job for two of them that matched the colours of the LBMS transfers.

28mm castings from Gripping Beast's Thematic Byzantine line. The figure on the right has a hand-painted shield.

These troops carry the long "kontarion" spears common to the Byzantine forces.

These Heavy Kavallroi troopers are as central to any Byzantine army as blocks or spearmen and archers - the Thematic Byzantine forces generally live and died on the strength and capability of their cavalry, and these riders would have been key to the force. These troops are much lighter than the lumbering Kataphractoi, but by any reasonable standard these fellows are still heavy cavalry - the riders are wearing a mix of chain mail, lammellar, plate and heavy cotton armour, and carrying the long "kontarion" lances. They can charge home, hit hard, withdraw and charge again because very disciplined and well-trained riders. They can pick their moment on the battlefield and have a decisive impact, and they are much more mobile, and therefore more flexible, than the heavy rumbling Kataphracts.

Mounted archers ready to ride & shoot in support of their Kavallroi colleagues.

Sometimes mistakes happen when packing miniatures - oh well - and that is why one of the riders is missing his quiver.

It is a common thing in the Thematic-era Byzantine armies to blend archers into the formations, and this cavalry unit will be no exception - again, the amour on these mounted archers is a little less than on those who accompany the heavy Kataphracts, and there is no barding on the horses, so they can keep up with their colleagues, providing a "sting" for the Heavy Kavallroi force.

As always, lots of character in these metal sculpts - although some of the riders look a touch "stiff" in the saddles...lighten up fellas, you'll never catch the Turks riding like that!

Less armour than the Kataphractoi, but still armoured and heavy by any reasonable definition.

Consistent with all of the Byzantine models I have painted so far in AHPC XI, these models are all based individually so as to allow for maximum gaming flexibility - for example, the six Heavy Kavallroi riders would represent a unit of cavalry in skirmish games "Lion Rampant", and once I add some command figures to this group, it will comprise a unit for Warhammer Ancient Battles, Swordpoint or Hail Caesar.

Thanks for reading - hope you are staying safe, and please stay sane. Cheers. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission: Dooku, Count of Serenno

I decided to enter the Challenge's Hall of Traps with this entry, Count Dooku. In almost every Star Wars film, at some point the protagonists come face to face with an enemy Force user, lying in wait for them with an ignited lightsaber

This ~40mm ("1/47 scale")  model from FFG is a very nice likeness of Sir Christopher Lee, who played the role in Episodes II and III. However, I chose to paint the figure not as Dooku appeared in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but as he appeared when he first left the Jedi Order. This is recounted in the radio play & novelization, Dooku: Jedi Lost, set over 40 years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Dooku left the Jedi Order to aid his sister when neither the Republic nor the Jedi would help her when her planet was attacked. So, I rendered him as a man in his middle age instead of old age, armed with his then-signature blue bladed dueling saber.

Keeping the colours minimalist, I airbrushed zenithal highlights onto the figure's head, and airbrushed the lightsaber colours before attaching the right arm. I under-painted his face in acrylics to set the contours of his face, then painted it in oils. 

His clothing, boots, and gloves got 3 different tones of black, and I finished with some highlights, shadows, and details in oils.

This figure, plus associated time portal shenanigans, will make for an interesting encounter for players in my nascent Star Wars Legion campaign setting.

Painting Challenge Submission: Old School Talisman Warrior

I saw Gin's post about the Talisman Monk on the 20th Century Tabletop Miniatures FB page, so I decided to finish Citadel's Talisman Warrior as my next 2nd for the Analogue Hobbies Challenge. 

I painted several of the figures Citadel made for the Talisman board game, back in the late 1980's. Over the years I collected about 50(!) more in bare metal; they were all based on the card art, and replaced card stock standup pieces.

Part of the challenge was trying to somewhat match my painting style of 30+ years ago. For example, nowadays I airbrush zenithal highlights over black airbrushed primer. 

Following my old techniques, with a rounded steel sculpting tool I burnished the Warrior's helmet, shoulder guards, thigh pieces, and the metal of his weapons. The face was undercoated in brown, and I brushed on black primer everywhere else, and then worked up some grey and white for highlights before painting the figure in acrylics. I used a tiny amount of oils for some details and blending, and some Abteilung Smoke oil to shadow the burnished metal parts.

The Warrior is a colourful addition to my existing Talisman models; I should really paint more of them.

These characterful figures are also useful for solo dungeon crawls like Steve Jackson Games' re-issued The Fantasy Trip, another relic from the 1980's that has been reborn in these pandemic times.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Faramir, Captain of Gondor

 The latest off the Dusty workbench is a trio of figures from the Games Workshop Lord of the Rings range representing Boromir's brother, Faramir, both mounted and on foot, and a mounted standard bearer.


Painting the figures followed a similar technique used with the Company of Gondor project I completed last week, The figures were initially primed with matt black, The plate armour and chain mail was first painted gunmetal, followed by drybrushing on silver. Faces were painted with Vallejo medium flesh followed by a reddish-brown wash, as I did with my Warriors of Minas Tirith figures. The detail on the bases continued my 'ruins of Osgiliath' theme that I am using on all my Gondorian forces.

The only  thing that made this one different from the earlier project was painting the horses. I haven't done many horses in 28mm scale, but did a lot in 15mm years ago. I never bothered to do much shading on them, just a basic colour of some shade of grey or brown, the occasional sock or stocking, and then the saddle and bridle. At one point, somebody asked me if I didn't like painting horses, so I guess my minimalist approach sucked. It was time to do a little online research to try and up my game. The final technique I used was a blend of ideas from a number of different YouTube videos and blog posts that I found. I didn't copy any one style exactly, but borrowed different bits here and there, plus my own spin until I got something I liked.

Mounted Faramir - I decided to paint this horse as a chestnut. The horse was painted in a reddish brown, then drybrushed on a lighter shade to pick out the musculature. Then I applied a medium brown wash to the entire horse, and then did a bit more drybrushing with the lighter shade on the mane and tail. I gave the horse white socks on both hind legs. 

Dismounted Faramir - This was painted much as my earlier Elendil and Isildur figures, but with a bluish-grey colour scheme. The pictures available online from Games Workshop of a painted Faramir showed kind of a 'double helix' pattern along the edge of his surcoat, but I found my hand just isn't steady enough anymore. I compromised with a simple band of gold trim. 

Mounted standard bearer - For this horse I went with a colour scheme appropriate for a bay. A dark brown base coat was applied followed by drybrushing a medium brown to pick up the musculature. Then a dark brown wash was applied to the horse. The mane and tail were painted black and then drybrushed with a medium grey. A black wash was then applied to the mane, tail, and lower legs.

I am pretty happy with the final look of both horses. More mounted figures are waiting in the wings to experiment with duns, blacks, and greys