Thursday, January 28, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 6 - 10mm Imperial Roman Infantry

10mm Roman troops from Pendraken - ready to move out and defend the Empire!

Some more painting for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  Efforts on my 28mm Byzantine painting efforts have halted for now as I managed to run out of some key supplies...but like many folks out there, I'm hardly ever short of lead to paint, even after all of the hobby disruption in my house-move last summer. So here is a new project - some Imperial Roman Legionnaires in 10mm. These castings are all from the excellent Pendraken, and they are based for "Warmaster Ancients" - there are three units of infantry and one command stand.

Close-up of the first unit.

Painting Romans is a new thing for me, but I have always been interested in the setting. The Painting Challenge has always been a particular spur, as so many of its participants have done (and are doing) very cool projects set in the time of the ancient Roman Republic and Empire. AHPC's 11th edition is no exception - Matt has been trying to inspire folks with a "Rome and It's Enemies" side duel, and there has been some fun submissions there. I promised Matt in a couple of comments that I would do SOMETHING to pitch in on that, so I thought now would be a good time to test the waters and paint some of the 10mm Pendraken Romans I ordered on a whim as part of a carefully considered and well-thought-out plan last summer. 

Close-up of the second unit.

There are many sub-settings within the ancient Roman world. I know many players enjoy the earlier era, and the wars with Carthage and others. But for me, "Rome" is the legion at the height of its power, the soldiers in their segmented armour, carrying square shields and pila, facing down the Germans, the Dacians, the Parthians and the Sassanids (and many, many others). The later Roman era is very appealing too...but I started with troops from the time of the Empire at its height.

Close-up of the third unit.

A little closer...sorry it is blurry but there has been no light in Northern Ontario for three months...

I really like the "Warmaster" rules, and so the "Warmaster Ancients" was an easy choice - the units look lovely without having to be too large, and I have had fun with the rules over the years playing the original version of the game set in GW's now-vanished "Old World". I thought it would be great to use for ancient gaming as well.

A Roman command base.

There are three "units" here - could be cohorts, could be whatever, depending on your imagination and scaling of the game. I know the colour red is cliche with Romans, but I wanted these first units to "pop" on the table, even from a couple feet away, and nothing says "Roman Legion" like red. As I add other units I will start to vary the colours. The shields have just enough of a freehand squiggle on them to imply a deeper/more ornate pattern without one actually being there. I will vary the colour of these on other units in the future too.

Time to march!

I can't say enough good stuff about the quality of these Pendraken sculpts. Sure, they are small, but damn, I enjoy painting them - they are brilliantly sculpted and well cast...little details still present and you are able to take some time with each one if you wish. Maybe not the most efficient approach, but I enjoy it. 

So that's one more project to wander along...thanks for reading! Stay sane everyone. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Denethor, Steward of Gondor and Guardsmen of the Fountain Court

I returned to Gondor for a quick project in my continuing attempt to clear the backlog of Games Workshop Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game miniatures - Denethor II, son of Ecthelion II, 26th Steward of Gondor, and an escort of three Guardsmen of the Fountain Court.

Denethor, Steward of Gondor - "Once a great man, the Steward of Gondor is now weary with the responsibility of leading his people in such dark times. The loss of his favoured son Boromir has proven an unbearable pain, leaving Denethor increasingly vulnerable to despair in the face of the overwhelming odds that trouble the realm of Gondor."

The figure was initially primed in black, and then I went in with more black to ensure good coverage in all the deep recesses.. I painted the face with Vallejo medium flesh followed by a reddish-brown wash, then applied highlights of medium flesh again, and more wash very selectively around the eyes and the mouth. The cloak was painted with acrylic Payne's Grey, a very intense bluish-grey colour. Then a small amount of medium grey was mixed in and drybrushed to catch the raised surfaces. The fur trim was already black, so I just drybrushed it with a dark grey. I used a lighter gunmetal on the chain mail, rather than silver as I didn't want it to be too shiny. The hair was painted dark brown and given grey streaks to produce a look similar to the appearance of Denethor in the Lord of the Rings movies.


Guard of the Fountain Court - "The Guard of the Fountain Court are selected  from the most disciplined of veterans in all of Gondor, swearing to give their lives in service to the lords of Minas Tirith and to be fearless in combat. They wear winged helmets made of Mithril, intricately crafted heavy armour and carry the finest weaponry that the armouries of the White City have to offer."

Lots of black and grey on these figures, followed by gunmetal, silver, and gold trim. To get a greater contrast on the breastplates, they were first painted in a dark gunmetal, and the White Tree of Gondor picked out with silver. The gold was the trickiest part as all the shoulder armour and helmets are edged in a thin band of gold. Otherwise, the technique was much as I have used on all my other figures. The only thing of note is the paving stone pattern on the bases. This was done by first applying a thin layer of epoxy putty to the surface and sculpting in the stone pattern. The miniatures were then pressed into the slot in the base while the epoxy was still soft, and doing some additional sculpting to cover over the slot.


I am off to Rohan next to paint up some of the heroes of the Riddermark. This will give me another opportunity to try out different colour schemes on horses.

"Gondor calls for aid! And Rohan will answer!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Painting Challenge Submission 5 - Byzantine Cavalry Officers

Byzantine cavalry command figures - 28mm from Gripping Beast

Hello again everyone. I have not been making much painting progress recently, but more painted figures is more painted figures, and here are two more painted figures that comprised my fifth submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. These are Byzantine cavalry officers - one carrying a standard, the other brandishing a short sword. They are 28mm metal castings from Gripping Beast's Thematic Byzantine figure range. The shields decals and the banner are from LBMS. 

Shield decals and banner from LBMS.

These two figures could slot in with any unit, but I intend them to act as a command element for my Byzantine Kavallroi in my last AHPC submission. The addition of these two models brings that unit to a healthy size of 12 riders - nice and beefy for Warhammer Ancient Battles. And of course they can skirmish on their own for games like Lion Rampant. 

I quite like the pose of the fellow with the sword...some poor soul is about to "get it"...

As ever, the LBMS stuff is infuriating to fiddle with and as ever, it is absolutely irreplaceable - these came out not too badly. The pattern on the shields is not a match to other riders in the Kavallroi unit, but then these two are "characters" and so I wanted them to be able to stand out on their own a bit. 

The Kavallroi unit on my shelf, ready to defend the glory of The Byzantine Empire and take on Dallas' Normans!

One important tip when embarking on a project to paint Byzantines: never run out of spears, shields or LBMS transfers...and don't just assume that box over on your shelf, you know, the one "you are sure is full of that stuff", actually holds any of that stuff...

Anyway, while I wait for new supplies to arrive, my brushes will move on to some of the other projects which have been lurking around my painting desk. That's all for now. Go check out the AHPC when you have a moment - Mike, Dallas and Byron have been ripping it up over there - all while Frederick is completing his entire Lord of the Rings collection! Keep up the great painting guys, and stay sane!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Nali's Household - A Company of Dwarves

Having completed all my Middle-earth Dwarf heroes, it was time to move on to some rank and file of Durin's Folk and put together a company consisting of a Dwarf captain, a standard bearer, and 24 Dwarves - 8 with hand axe and shield, 8 with two-handed axe, and 8 with Dwarf bow.

 15 years ago Games Workshop came out with a quick campaign system to go with their Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game called 'Battle Companies', where you started with a small force which could grow with success on the tabletop in both numbers and quality. At the time the rules were available on their website, but it has since evolved into a hardbound rule book with a price tag of $60.

I used to run an after-school wargame club back then, and the Battle Companies system was ideal for students to play a quick game that could be completed in the hour and a half we had available. I had recently acquired some Dwarves from a local gamer who was selling off a bag of 36 miniatures. At the time these were available from GW as 3 figure blister packs. I don't know if this was just a random mix of what had come in the packs, or the leftovers after they had picked out what they liked, but I ended up with 8 minis with two-handed axe (all the same pose), 10 minis with hand axe and shield (two different poses), and 18 minis with Dwarf bow (three different poses). The composition of a Dwarf Battle Company was 2 two-handed axes, 3 hand axe and shield, 2 Dwarf bow, so I had enough to make up 3 companies with figures left over. 

I later decided to take one of the battle companies and build it into a full company of 24 figures. I found an auction on eBay where someone was selling a part box of the Games Workshop plastic Dwarves that had enough of the right weapon types to flesh things out as needed, although I still have a lot of left over Dwarves equipped with bows. (Some of them I am converting into a dedicated crew for the ballista I built earlier.) The only downside was that the figures came assembled with all the shields  glued on, which made it harder to paint behind them.

As with my earlier projects, the figures were all primed black, base colours were applied, followed by drybrushing highlights, and then some washes, particularly on the face and hand, and the boots. As much as possible, I tried to get the new figures to match the original colour palette of the minis I had painted back in 2006. The biggest change in technique was the use of washes, particularly on the hands and faces. In the past, I would paint the area reddish-brown and then drybrush on the flesh colour. With the latest batch, I painted on Vallejo dark flesh and applied a reddish-brown wash afterwards. That latter method is definitely easier, and gives more subtle changes in skin tone.

Dwarves with two-handed axes. Minis 2, 3, 7 and 8 are metal with 3 and 8 being part of the original Battle Company. The rest are from the plastic set.
Dwarves with bows. Minis 1, 3, 5, 6, and 8 are metal with 1 and 3 being part of the original Battle Company. The rest are from the plastic set.
Dwarves with hand axe and shield. Minis 3, 4 and 8 are metal, and were part of the original Battle Company. The rest are from the plastic set.

One of the major changes I noticed with the switch from metal to plastic is the lack of chain mail on the plastic figures. I personally prefer chain mail on the metal figures to the scale armour on the plastic. Also there is less definition in the hair, braids, and beards. 

Here are some close up shots of the Dwarf captain and his standard bearer.

Both of these are metal figures. I particularly like the detail cast onto the raven banner. It gives the Dwarves a definite 'Viking' vibe.

The next project in the works is Lord Denethor and a trio of Guards of the Fountain Court. Thanks for reading. Stay safe and healthy until we can meet around the gaming table.

Friday, January 22, 2021

From the Challenge: "Who's the U-boat commander?" Porsche 928 for Gaslands



A bit of a backtrack here... back to the Aquifer on the first level of the Dungeon. However, I hate painting boats... so I had to be a bit more creative in fulfilling the theme.

Everyone remembers the classic 1983 film "Risky Business", in which suburban straight-arrow high-schooler Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose to Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll" and things go downhill from there... culminating in the classic scene of Joel's dad's Porsche 928 plunging into Lake Michigan. Watch the clip to the end... "who's the U-Boat commander?" indeed.

So there's the theme - aquatic Porsche 928. One of our group's favourite games pre-pandemic was Gaslands, and everybody has great fun converting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars for combat. Should be easy to find a Hot Wheels or Matchbox 928, right? Wrong... although I had one as a kid, it's long gone, stores here can't sell toys in person, and I shudder to pay $20+ for one on eBay, not to mention the wait for it to arrive in the mail...

Enter "Mr. 3D Printer" Byron M to save the day! I found a 3D file online for free and sent it along to Byron, who shared it with his friend and fellow 3D printmaster Scott to tune up. And it did need a great deal of tuning up... in fact after Byron printed it up, he emailed me to say "you're going to have to buy a Hot Wheels car" as he didn't think it was salvageable. 

But as you can see, where there's a cheap financially responsible Scotsman, there's a way... it did take quite a bit of cleaning up, greenstuff wing mirrors, and some clever painting, but I think it's quite presentable.

The machineguns are from the excellent "Implements of Carnage" sprue from North Star.

I quite like how it turned out, especially as it completes a room that I struggled to find a project to suit. I'll take 30 points for this one - 10 for the car and 20 for the room bonus. It's a small car but did require quite a bit of work!

Big props and thanks to Byron and Scott for their work on the file, and to Byron for printing it for me. Cheers lads!

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.