Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Red Death

A blood red moon hangs in the night sky as the Lord of Bleak Fell continues his journey into the ancient catacombs deep inside the Helsridge mountains. More spirits have been awakened. These creatures were once executioners, the swish of their scythes the last thing heard by many a victim, their robes stained red over a lifetime of bloody decapitations. The Red Death has been unleashed.

Four more spirits added to my Undead army. These wraiths are lovely models - they have so much movement and animation, a great improvement on the clunky old metal figures. When it came to painting them I was torn between two possible schemes. I did think that they were little bit like Harry Potter dark wizards, black robes and mist floating through the sky. But I thought that might be a bit dull and not really fit in with the rest of the army, which is quite colourful considering it's dead! So I went instead with an old school vibe of red robes, coupled with the ochre brown tones from the Warden's robes.

In truth I am unsure if the scheme works that well. I can never quite decide if high contrast is a good thing - the dark red and the light blue mist are poles apart.There's also a slight gloss sheen on the robes that I cannot get rid off which is distracting my eye. I am going to put them to one side, call them done for now, maybe tinker with them again at some future point.

They took a while to get painted, what with the recent heatwave and the usual summer time distractions. There's a handful of figures still to do from the Soul Wars set, including the pick of the bunch for me, the mounted spectral knight. Hopefully I can get them painted before another distraction comes along. I am already starting to think about another two factions to add my fantasy collection!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Warden and the Awakener

The Undead are stirring from their slumber. In the long hot summer days, life is good and few mortals give any thought to the terrors of the dark. And yet, deep in the Helsridge mountains, untold horrors are about to be unleashed. The Lord of Bleak Fell has been searching in the cool darkness, for burial crypts long forgotten. Protected by magical wards even he cannot fathom, these tombs are the resting place of powerful warriors and dread sorcerors. He must find the Warden, the Key Keeper of the burial grounds. Only this creature can locate and unlock the ancient sarcophigi. Even then, the spirits entombed will remain at rest. And so the Lord of Bleak Fell also searches for the Awakener......

The lure of the new Games Workshop nighthaunt range proved too much for my weak resolve to not buy any new figures. In my defence, these are my first major purchase of the year. I thought they would make a nice addition to my Undead force. These are a couple of the models from the Soul Wars beginner boxset. I have kept a few of the spirit models and sold on the rest, to keep the cost of my impulse manageable.

I managed to carve out a little hobby time over the weekend and rattled through this pair in a couple of sessions. The Warden I imagine to have been a lowly prison keeper in his time. When death came, his spirit wandered, unable to rest after the unspeakable cruelties he had inflicted during his miserable lifetime. The palette had to be something a bit grimey and dark. The green cast of the ghostly vapours echoes the green glow I have used on all my undead figures.

In contrast, the Awakener was probably a sorceror or magician in his lifetime, perhaps attached to a royal court or palace. His purple robes reflect a comfortable, opulent existence. His magical staff is now used to rouse the spirits that the Lord of Bleak Fell requires for his army. A magical servant in life, unable to escape his role even in death.

I am really impressed with the figures from the Soul Wars boxset. The fact that they are press together models is quite astounding. I did actually glue mine, as much to disguise the joins as to keep them together. Some are a bit fragile looking, hopefully they will stand up to the rough and tumble of transportation and gaming. As usual with my own collection, they are glued on to two pence coins rather than the supplied bases.

Here's a picture of the Lord of Bleak Fell with his bodyguard and new recruits, heading deeper into the catacombs in search of more spirits. And maybe a few more mundane troops too. Who knows what else they will find in the deep, dark places?

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Farewell to Middle Earth...

....for the time being at least. After painting up a fair number of dwarves over the past few weeks, it was nice to get them on to the battlefield. Round at the wargaming dungeon, they faced their hated enemy, the orcs of Sauron. I would have liked to have tried Strategy Battle Game, but we could not remember the rules so settled on the much simpler Dragon Rampant. It's not my favourite ruleset for a number of reasons, but it's always useful to have an easy to play system.

I didn't manage to get too many decent photos, which is just as well because the dwarves suffered from some poor dice rolling, which (to my mind or maybe it's my imagination) always seems far more punishing in this ruleset. One or two failed activations can really swing a game in a drastic fashion. Suffice to say, there was few things to celebrate in the hold that night. This pint was only half drunk! Still, it was good to get the dwarves showing off their freshly painted kilts and stretching their little legs for a change.

A couple of days later and I was heading out to a local cafe for a coffee and consolation cake (after England were knocked out of the World Cup the night before). The cafe is positioned above a second hand bookshop and in the main entrance I found a copy of Tolkien's Children of Hurin. A lovely clean hardback copy at a third of the cover price, which was more of a consolation than the cake could provide. Every cloud has a silver lining (this one illustrated by Alan Lee). Some reading to look forward to later in the year - I always think Tolkien is best appreciated in the autumn.

So it's a fond farewell to Middle Earth for the moment. I have moved on to another of my painting projects. I still have more dwarves and orcs to paint, hopefully I will pick them up again later in the year. I am also trying to develop a game system of my own, initially based around these two foes, so they will be out of their boxes a few more times throughout the year. The road goes ever on and on.......

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Tolkien Stamps

I reached for my copy of Lord of the Rings the other day, and was surprised to find this set of stamps in there. They were published by Royal Mail back in 2004, not sure if that was a Tolkien anniversary or a tie in with the films. They were probably bought by my wife, she used to have a thing about stamps.

The stamps are held safely in a pouch, which folds out and gives a potted life story of Tolkien. Each stamp contains an illustration by the author.

I once read that Tolkien was very insecure about his illustrations. He wanted the books to be published with art, but was not confident in his own efforts. Like many artists, he probably under-estimated his talent. Even the simple line drawings are very evocative. 

Finally, a key to the illustrations. As a Tolkien nerd, I was very happy to make this chance discovery. The more I see the author's own artistic renditions, the more I marvel at the man's achievements.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Dwarf Hammers

These figures were fairly quick to paint up, I am very pleased to add them to my Dwarves force before the month has ended. As with the previous units, I tackled them little by little, a twenty minute session here, maybe an hour long session there. Over just a couple of sessions the metals were done very quickly - a base coat, a wash, some glazing and then a drybrush. After that was finished, it was a simple job to pick out the leathers and other garments. The "kilts" were a little more involved, but I stuck to a fairly simple design. Beards and bases were completed, and unit done.

These are Games Workshop of course, Grim Hammers from the Middle Earth range. They are plastic figures, but with plenty of detail, as nice as many a metal to my mind. In gaming terms, they will be fielded as elite units in the systems I play.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Dwarf Hammers WIP

It's been a while since my last update. I spent a week on holiday, with no models and no wifi, for a complete recharge of the batteries. On return, I started work on the next unit for the Dwarves army. These are plastic models, though with limited options to build them as is more the norm these days. I don't mind so much, as most of these are really nicely posed. I particularly like the more relaxed poses of the front two rows, they look calm but menacing! It would be nice to have them painted by month end, but that might be optimistic. We shall see.
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