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.


gabek said...

Nice work, Fred!

Neil Scott said...

Fantastic work

LittleBro said...

You do good work!

Ray Rousell said...

Very nice. Great looking hills too.

Greg B said...

Great work Frederick. These GW LOTR dwarf sculpts are the only fantasy dwarfs that don't suck - and the brushwork is great. Very cool.