Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Skeletons

This unit popped up from nowhere, almost. I have had the skeletons assembled for a good while, but no real desire to paint them. But then I suddenly found that I had two commission jobs for Undead, so I grabbed these as a practise session, just to get the feel for a bone palette again.

It was also an opportunity to practise speed painting. I set myself the task of painting 30 minutes each day on them, the first few sessions I documented on my facebook page. In the end, it took nine sessions to paint and base them, so that's 22 minutes per model. They are not technically difficult to paint, but still I think that's a fairly good pace. You could say a rattling good pace....if you like corny puns. Which I do not, obviously.

These will be added to my Undead collection, which is starting to "flesh out" quite nicely. Alongside these skeletons, I have two units of zombies, a unit of ghouls, a necromancer, wights/elite skeletons, a few spirits and the Lord of Bleak Fell. That's just about enough for games of Saga and Erewhon.

Monday, 24 June 2019

A trio of Victrix Vikings painted

I finally managed to get some paint on to the Victrix vikings. They paint up really nicely, the details are nice and sharp. Just three armoured figures to start with as a tester. The shields are a mix of transfers and free hand. I will be moving on to some unarmoured figures, hopefully in the near future.

I have decided to try my luck with these on ebay, if you are interested then here's a link to my auctions.



Friday, 14 June 2019

Victrix Vikings as fantasy figures

Following on from the previous post, a review of the new Victrix vikings, I thought that some gamers might be interested in seeing how the new figures compare with some fantasy figures. Clearly, the scale is nearer to 28mm or 30mm than some of the bigger fantasy offerings, which makes them a good match to systems like Lord of the Rings.


From this first photo you can see that they are a very good match to plastic uruk hai, while the Gondorian looks small featured. Bear in mind the slight difference made by the different bases.


In the second photo, the Mordor orc (left) looks quite a bit smaller, while the Morannon orc (right) is a far closer match in height and head size.


In this final photo, the vikings are up against Oathmark goblins, which are plastic and scale well with Mordor orcs. The vikings are slightly taller, though the goblins do have hunched over poses - they are fairly similar in height if you look to the shoulders.

Hopefully that will be useful to some players. Perhaps they could be used as wildmen of Dunland, or the armoured figures used as Rohan or Dunlendings? And of course, they could also be used in any of the many games rules available these days, such as Frostgrave, Erewhon and others.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Victrix Vikings Review

I have been waiting for these figures to release since the day they were first announced about a year ago. I pre-ordered a set a few weeks back, and now here they are. More details on the contents are on the Victrix website, these are my thoughts.


The figures arrive in a plastic bag with a card stapled along the top. On the back of the card are some basic instructions, which bodies are compatible with which heads, that kind of thing. As you can see, I also ordered a couple of sets of transfers and received a free flag for pre-ordering.


The warrior sprue, containing eight figures, with lots of head and weapon options and other bits. There are six of these per pack, making 48 figures.


The command sprue, containing eight figures, again with lots of options to play with. There are two of these sprues per pack, another twelve figures. In total, sixty vikings per pack - enough to man a longboat!


I assembled four figures and glued them to coins, as I do with all my figures. Note that there are no bases included in the pack. The photo is filtered to better show the details. And now some comparison photos with other vikings I own. I do not have any plastics to compare with, as to date I have never seen any that I thought were good figures to collect. These comparisons are therefore the Victrix plastics against metal and resin figures - worth bearing in mind when you see them side by side.

From the command sprue, Victrix on left, V&V (resin) on right

Standard sprue, Victrix and V&V (resin)

Standard sprue, Victrix and V&V (resin)

Victrix and Drabant Miniatures (metal)

I tried to build the Victrix Miniatures to match the poses of the comparison miniature as best I could. In each case, it's a simple matter of attaching two arms and a head to a body. I also added knives and scabbards as appropriate. In one case I trimmed the neck down a little as it looked too long to my eye. I also had to remove a sword hilt from the scabbard to make it empty. Other than that, they were very easy to put together and mould lines were easy to clean.

I am impressed with the level of detail and the quality of the sculpt, the proportions are very good. In terms of plastics, there are no others around that come anywhere close to this quality. I reckon they come very close to the metal figure in the last comparison picture - once painted, it will be hard to separate the two. The resin figures have a slight edge in terms of detail and sculpt, though of course the plastics are far cheaper and have more adaptability. 

If you are in the market for vikings, you cannot really go wrong with the Victrix vikings. At £38 plus postage for sixty figures, they are a complete bargain. Even factoring in extra spending on bases and sheild transfers, they are well under a pound a figure. With all the options available on the sprue, you should easily be able to ensure there is no duplication in your collection. 

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Mierce Miniatures Troll

There are so many trolls available to the gamer, from grimdark to goofy, from man sized to gargantuan. I have quite a few in various armies, some Warhammer examples, some Reaper, some Lord of the Rings figures, even some ForgeWorld. They are all joined by this absolute beast from Mierce Miniatures, and it's probably the best troll in my collection.

Aesthetically, it's at the "realistic" end of the scale - and that's in quotes for an obvious reason. What I mean is that the proportions are real, the details are fine and lifelike, the sculpting is top notch. If you like realism in your figures, I cannot think of a better range to collect than these figures.

Figures? Well yes, there's only one at the moment, but there's another two underway and a handful prepped. And there are many, many more on the Mierce Miniatures website. I bought them years ago because I was wowed by them when they were first released. I thought I might use them in a chaos Warhammer army, but since then things have changed. I now play other games, and have started to develop my own setting for my collection, so I can use these beasts standalone, as a force by themselves. The beasts of Trollberg are born!


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

My first fantasy map

It's finally finished, my first fantasy map. Now the dwarfs of Oakenheim have a home, along with those pesky Red Hills goblins, the Lord of Bleak Fell and his Undead followers, the witches of WychenWood, and the rest.

For years I have been quite happy to play my games in pre-established universes, mostly in the Old World of Warhammer, or the villages of dark ages Europe. But recently I have been more and more interested in gathering together these fantasy and real world collections into one setting. One world in which dwarfs can fight goblins in classic fantasy style, and vikings can raid Saxons in classic historical style, but there's also scope for trolls raiding viking settlements, Saxons fighting off Undead - a world to include all my miniatures in one big happy collection. It's a map drawn with the dwarfs and vikings firmly in the centre of everything - they have been my main preoccupation over the past couple of years. The areas on the edges of the map, or indeed off the map, represent those figures in my collection that are furthest from being painted.

The basics of how I got started in this endeavour I have already covered in this post. In essence, it's been a process of drawing and refining in pencil, then going over it all using fineliner marker pens. I am quite happy with the end result. The overall layout and the features I am pleased with, the lettering was always going to be the most challenging and that proved to be the case, that is the weakest point in my eyes. But for a first attempt I am happy with how it turned out.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

You wait ages for a dwarf....

.....then two come along in quick succession. Obviously, the gyrocopter came first - it can fly! but this lone dwarf wasn't too far behind. He was discovered during a tidy up operation. I thought he was long lost so was very excited to find he had been hiding in a shoe box among some other bits. He was a bit dusty and looking a bit shabby, so he went straight into a tub for a biostrip bath, emerging an hour later as good as new.

The model is from around 1992, a Marauder dwarf with the catchy name of MM15/50. These old sculpts are really nice, they are so simple to paint and yet have bags of character. It was so quick to paint, I even had time to practise a kilt pattern. I usually paint a handful of figures together, but this time I just went with the flow and painted him alone over three sessions when I had a spare half hour or so. Tuomas Tuomasson the crag walker joins the throng of Oakenheim.

And here is Tuomas with his comrades in arms. Of course there are seven of them!



Thursday, 16 May 2019

Dwarf Gyrocopter

Feel free to hum the Ride of the Valkyries as you read this post.

The dwarf gyrocopter from 1993 is one of my all time favourite dwarf models. There's just something about the models released in this era that is so, well, dwarfish. What could be more dwarfish than a dwarf wearing a winged helmet, about to lob a bomb from a boiler driven helicopter type machine? If you said nothing, you could be right. If you said the wheeled anvil of doom, the throne of power, or the wooden flame cannon, you could also be right. Golden era just does not adequately cover it. Purists will be horrified that the base is neither square nor green, but just because I like the old models does not mean I have to paint them like it was still 1993.

When it came to painting the model, I had just one starting point. Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones has a wonderful ginger beard, and I wanted my dwarf pilot to have the same. It personifies a reckless, fearless spirit that you would definitely need to take to the air in one of these contraptions. From there, the blue clothing developed. The machine I wanted a fairly neutral appearance, so have gone for natural canvas and wood effects. The boiler is made from copper because, well, they seem to be in real life, plus it's a nice colour.

The next time the dwarfs of Oakenheim take to the field of battle, you can be sure that Fugl Fuglleson will be flying straight at the enemy, bombs at the ready.


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Headland!

headland is a coastal landform, a point of land usually high and often with a sheer drop, that extends into a body of water. 

I started inking the map, working on the coastline, rivers and lakes. I was admiring my handiwork when I suddenly saw this shape. Now that's what you call a headland! When the hills and mountains and lettering are inked in, it will probably be a bit less obvious.

It's pure chance that it has emerged like this. The original shape was based on an approximation of the county of Cumbria, the Lake District in England - hence the lakes. At first I was trying to replicate the bodies of water exactly, but it was very cluttered and I abstracted to this form. The outjutting squiggle of a nose I added at random as I was inking. This will be the land of the vikings, though as it's a dwarf map it's not that detailed. Dwarfs don't have much love for water, or other folks for that matter, so they don't bother too much with little details like rivers, towns and such like.

Monday, 6 May 2019

How To Draw a Fantasy Map

Over the past couple of years I have been painting dwarfs, undead, vikings and goblins with a vague idea in my head about how they would all live together. Names and backgrounds come to me, mostly from my local surroundings or from my travels, from reading history and mythology, occasionally from popular culture such as Skyrim. I have jotted a few of these ideas down in previous blog posts, as a little bit of flavour to accompany the miniatures. There's a lot of stuff whirling around in my head, so I wanted to get it down on paper before it disappeared. I thought a good place to start would be a map.

I have been studying different map styles for a while, and came across a book dedicated to this very subject. I am a bit wary about How To books, as in my experience they never seem to convey the subject as well as, say, a youtube video would. However, we all have to start somewhere and so I thought I would give it a try.

The book cost me less than £10 on ebay and I have to say it has been a good buy. The author goes through the various stages with good, clear diagrams in a reasonably logical sequence. It's quite a short book, with lots of diagrams, which are useful. I did find that the suggested sequence of doing things did not always work for me, but maybe that's just me. The last chapter is probably the best place to start! This chapter is a bringing together of all the theory as the author moves through the processes he would go through in drawing a map (not all of it matching the sequence of previous chapters of course).

As I expected, theory is all very well, but the real value of a book like this is in giving you a starting point. You can get past the dreaded blank page by referring to the techniques, then practise them, then refine, then finally put them on your paper. And that's what I have been doing for the past couple of days - the ideal way to spend a typically British cold, damp and dreary bank holiday weekend.

The main thing I have learned from this process, and it's not going to surprise anybody, is that you have to practise, practise, practise. I have a few days under my belt now, and already I have learnt quite a bit on how to do things. Or more accurately, I have made plenty of mistakes and moved on from there. From preliminary pencil sketches, to inking and watercolours, I have had a little try at many things. I have designed my own icons to represent the dwarf holds. I have developed a very basic dwarf language and scratched out a dwarfish font of sorts, heavily influenced by viking culture.

It's starting to come together now and I have an almost completely pencilled map. I still have to add some features, when I have practised how to draw them. Then I have to move on from the pencil version, by inking in the whole thing. It's surprising how long these things take, but it will be worth it in the end. Hopefully, I can get it all finished in the coming week.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Cave Goblin Shaman

As their name suggests, cave goblins spend most of their time underground. As a result, they are a little different to other goblin folk. They tend to be smaller, paler and less well equipped, often with little more than a crude club and a set of filthy robes. However, they do have an affinity with the other creatures of the dank underworld realms, and will often drive these before them into battle. When a goblin warlord recruits the cave goblins into his warband, he does so expecting them to bring along trolls, spiders or other beasts from the dark caverns. The cave goblins also have a greater tendency to practise magic than their overground relatives, perhaps as a result of their diet of mind expanding fungi and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

This is the doom goblin shaman from Knightmare Games. This was one of the first models from that range that caught my eye. The fungi staff is just a brilliant touch. I changed the name from doom to cave to fit my own vision of goblins and how they live. I wanted to give them a pale skin, as I imagine their pigment would naturally fade after generations in the darkness. The red around the eyes could be due to the stress of controlling the magical forces in his mind, or maybe it's just a reaction to the hated daylight. It gives him a nicely manic appearance.


Here is the shaman with a small group of the black goblins, to illustrate the size difference. The bulk of the goblin force will be more like the cave goblin in size - smaller and runtier, as you would expect. Next in the queue, I could paint up a handful of old GW goblins I managed to collect over the past couple of years, but I do now have a preference for these Knightmare figures. I just have to get some more!

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Dwarf runesmith

This is the dwarf runesmith that was originally released as part of the Grudge of Drong campaign, around 1997 I believe. I picked it up in a joblot on ebay recently along with a few dwarfs for my Oakenheim collection. Sadly, this figure is not one of my favourites and is surplus to requirement, but rather than toss him to the back of the drawer, I have painted him up and tossed him into the shop instead. So you see, it is possible to toss a dwarf.

For reference, I have included a catalogue page from the rather excellent Stuff Of Legends site, a must visit for any Warhammer fan wishing to track down old figures, or just see what things were like back in the day. As well as photos of miniatures, there's often some lovely old artwork to admire too.

Incidentally, I have stocked the shop with a few older painted minis from my glass cabinet. There's a couple of Imperial Guard psykers, a Scots/Irish warlord and another dwarf.

Taken from Stuff of Legends without permission

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Sargob The Old

This is probably the oldest figure in my collection, certainly the oldest goblin. It's so old I cannot remember where it came from, possibly gifted to me by another player years ago when I was a club member. I painted it a few years ago, possibly about ten years back.

 Looking on the Stuff of Legends website, I have identified it as a Citadel C12 goblin, named Sargob, from around 1987. Judging by the style, I would guess it was sculpted by one of the Perry twins, he looks a bit too serious to have been sculpted by Kev Adams.

The first thing you might notice is the moustache, which is a bit strange on a goblin. The shield is a modern addition, a plastic from the chaos marauders set. I have recently rebased the figure from square to round, to better fit the new goblins warband I am building. All I had to do was paint the base and he fits right in.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Nord's Painting Shop on Etsy

***Drumroll*** I am pleased to announce, in my most impressive announcer type voice, that I now have a shop on Etsy. Stock is a little sparse at the moment. And by sparse, I mean there's just one figure. But, like the plants erupting all around in the lovely spring weather, it will grow.

This is an Irish warlord by Footsore Miniatures. It came with a Saga book that I had ordered a few months back and it's a really nice figure, though not one I can readily use in my armies. It could easily be used in a Scots or Norse army I would have thought, maybe even a viking force. More pictures on the shop page - yes, pathetic isn't it, that's my cunning plan to get visits to the shop :).

And while I am in marketing mode, here's a link to my facebook page, where I post a fair few WIP shots and step by step diagrams, so worth a visit if you have not already.

And one last plug, I also have an instagram account. Yep, I am fully embracing all the social media sites. #nordspaintingsaga should get you there. Or use this link.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Black Goblins

The Greater Goblins of the Black Vale, or Black Goblins as they are more commonly known, are the biggest of their kind. While most goblins are small, wretched, scrawny creatures, Black Goblins are much larger, some as tall as a dwarf. Consequently, they tend to be leaders, bodyguard or even warlords. They are the best armed of their kind, as they have the pick of  the loot from the battlefields, and steal arms and armour from their compatriots at will. Few goblin warbands go to battle without these bruisers leading the way.

These are the Black Goblins from Knightmare Games. When I first ordered the figures, I had no idea that they were such a large scale. I dreamt up the concept of them being the larger, elite troops of the race - not an original thought I admit, given the role of Black Orcs in Warhammer and black uruks in Lord of the Rings. You can see my first impressions of the models in this post.


I googled images of black orcs to get a few ideas for darker skinned goblins. However, I found it hard to break the mould and started with green skin tones, intending to shade them down quite darkly, but made a bit of a mess of it. I added too many different shades and it just did not turn out as I would have hoped. In future, I will stick to my tried and tested base coat and glazes routine. In the end, I decided to leave the skin and move on to other areas, see how it looked with all the other bits painted. It's often better to get an idea of the overall picture before obsessing on one little bit. With the rest of the colours on, the figures came together and they don't look too bad. I probably spent longer on touching up the skin than I would usually, lesson learned for next time.


The figures are not sold with shields or bases. I used my default system of two pence coins for the bases - they add a bit of weight and stability and are also magnetic. The shields are more of a problem, should I add some, and if yes, what should I use? In the meantime, they will just have to rely on their armour.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Battle Mat day 2

After yesterday's adventure with spray cans, today is the day to play with pva glue and flocks. I used watered down pva glue with a little screen wash (I read that this helps to break surface tension and makes adhesion easier). A little thing I discovered is to paint this on to the mat in circular motions rather than straight lines, for a more natural clumping look. I used a one inch decorating paint brush for this stage, I could have saved time with a larger brush.

Flocking time

I used a selection of flocks that I had in my terrain box. A medium green for the majority of the covering, with a yellow green for a few sparse highlights. I also had some very dark (soil) flock which I mixed with the medium green for a dark green shade. I tried to make distinct clumps of green with a few darker areas in between.

Flocked

After the flock was added I sprinkled on some clump foliage, to represent scrub, weed bushes, etc. It's tempting to go to town here and really start blending it all in, but this is just a quick game board so it was on to the next step. Some very diluted pva and screen wash was sprayed over the whole mat, I tried to give it a really good soaking. Then I lifted the whole thing and dragged it down in to a sunny corner in the garden to dry off. The fact that most of the flock and foliage did not tip off at this stage I took to be a good sign.

Sunny corner

I guess I spent about two hours in total, spraying paint, applying pva and flocks, then soaking the whole thing. Hopefully, when it's fully dry it will stick to the mat and not shed flock in the house. Time will tell!

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Battle Mat on the cheap

The other day I was in the supermarket (Aldi) and spotted these grass mats, priced at £7 each. With a size of 2m x 1m (roughly 6ft x 3ft), I thought it would be ideal for my dining table, which is sized 5ft x 3ft. The original mat is rather a lurid green shade, but I had a plan.

Vivid green mats

Armed with a trio of rattle cans and a window of fine dry weather, I sprayed some random patches to dull down the green.

Field Grey, Dunkelgelb, British Uniform spray cans


After a few minutes, the first pass looked like this. The next stage is to add some flock and grass.

Already looking less uniform green

Less than ten minutes to get to this stage. I want the paint to be fully dried before I move on, and have a browse through my collection of flocks.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Royal Armoury of Malta

On a recent spring break in the city of Valetta, Malta, I visited the Royal Armoury, dedicated to the arms and armour of the Knights of St. John. It was a huge collection, based in two rooms stuffed with cabinets. It's not really a period of history I know much about, but for sheer spectacle it was a memorable visit. Photos below with captions, hopefully they are mostly correct from memory. The official website can be found here.

Armour Room
Armour of the Grand Master
Shield (ceremonial) of the Grand Master
More ornate armour
Cases of helmets


Ottoman Turk arms and armour


Arms room


Cannons large and small

Powder cannisters

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