Tuesday 28 December 2021

MOM Miniatures dwarf wizard

Here’s a little something to add to your Yule festivities. A dwarf wizard, from Mom miniatures, wandering through the rocks and standing stones. Absolutely perfect for the dwarf loving, owl loving nerd in your life.

Friday 24 December 2021

A Christmas plea for goodwill

Usually at this time of the year I will post something festive and frivolous. This year, however, it’s a bit grim and depressing. You might not know, as it has been grossly under reported in the west, typhoon Odette ripped through the Philippines last week, killing around 400 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. 

My son, Ben, has lived in the Philippines for the past few years, in a little beach town called Moalboal on the island of Cebu. With his partner, Nadine, and his daughter, Ehra, they started a little restaurant called the Three Bears, which slowly grew and became popular with backpackers and travellers. Encouraged by the success of this new business, they opened Crazy Bears, a hostel for travellers. The paint on the new hostel had barely dried when COVID struck and they had to lockdown. For 18 months they have barely survived, relying on local patronage and the occasional donation from the Bank of Mum&Dad. Finally, things looked better as restrictions ended and custom trickled back to life. But then Odette came.

Thankfully, they and their friends are safe. The hostel suffered some damage from falling trees and fences blowing around, but they are still standing. Some of their friends have lost their houses and belongings, blown away by the tempest. Power poles were blown over, uprooted or simply snapped in the ferocity of the storm. The government and local authorities say the power will be restored in 4 to 12 weeks. During that time they have no way to cool their properties, no refrigeration, relying on those lucky enough to have a generator. Gasoline and water are limited, prices have inflated and queues for water of 5 hours have been reported.

We want to help Ben and his friends and neighbours. Ben’s brother Tom has set up a gofundme page. The aim is to provide income as they have no government aid whatsoever. Ben and Nadine want to help their friends and neighbours to survive the coming weeks with no power, no income and no aid. And longer term to rebuild their homes and get back on their feet. Please take a look. Any donation will be a big help, for example ten dollars will buy around 70 bottles of water. 

GoFundMe page

I realise that this is not a particularly cheering or festive post. If you read this far, thank you for your time. I hope you can find some seasonal goodwill to your fellow human. If you can make a donation, please do. 

Just as importantly, please share far and wide, this is currently an unreported story. The more exposure gained, the more help received. Thanks again for your time and attention, now back to those mice pies!

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Dwarf Comparison

Somebody asked if I would post a photo of the Crooked Dice dwarf alongside others from my collection. Thinking that others might find this useful, and to spread a little beardy love, here is the result. As you can see, I have lined him up with old GW dwarfs from the 90s, since these are the ones that fit best in my collection. In height, they are all similar, the GW figures are bulkier in the body and facial features. A finer band of stout adventurers I cannot imagine.

Saturday 21 August 2021

Mom Miniatures Dwarfs review

Mom Miniatures are a Spanish company with a fair sized range of resin fantasy miniatures. I was particularly drawn to the dwarfs, so made a small order to get an idea of their quality and suitability. The photo above I grabbed from their website, showing the unit I ordered fully assembled and ranked up on 20mm squares. On placing the order I received a confirmation email telling me I would receive another email when they had been shipped. Eight days later, the postman delivered them. That’s quite impressive given the current circumstances. I am UK based, there was no hassle with VAT, import duties or such like, I am still unsure what is supposed to happen in the brexit set up?

Here’s how they look out of the blister pack.There are ten unique head sculpts on one body pose, five axes, five hammers and ten shields. The shield arms have a slot to receive the back of the shields, which you can see at the bottom of the picture. You could, of course, use your own shield here.I have not assembled them as yet, so here’s another photo from their website to show how they would look.

The quality of the casting is good. There are no holes or bubbles that I could see. There is a mould line but it was easily removed with a craft knife. I would be tempted, maybe, to paint them without the shield fixed, to allow access to face and beards.

How do they compare with other minis? I have lined up a selection of my own minis and put them into height descending order. The metal GW slayer is probably tallest due to his big hair! The next figure along is a modern GW plastic hammerer/iron breaker. Then we have the Mom figure, and the next one along, the mystery ivory coloured specimen, is a resin Iron Crow dwarf by Durgin Paint Forge. Finally, a couple more metal GW dwarfs from the 90s.

In size and bulk, the Mom Miniatures dwarf is probably nearer to 35mm than any other scale. Stylistically, it’s a good match for the Iron Crow dwarf, with bigger flatter nose, similar styled beards and a slightly less serious aesthetic. I will certainly be happy to mix them into my collection, I base on rounds and tend to play skirmish games so scale issues are less of a concern to me. There are bigger difference between my older and newer GW figures who happily fight alongside each other. Stylistically, it’s a personal opinion of course. I absolutely love them! So much so that I am hoping to build a new warband using the Mom and Durgin figures together. Just a small band of course, a few clan warriors, some handgunners maybe, the berserkers of course are a must, maybe some miners to dig up the salt, and a handful of characters. And maybe a war machine for good luck. Yeah, that’s definitely a small warband.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Hammer time

It’s been such a long time since I played or painted any Lord of the Rings, but having recently got a copy of Oathmark, I have been dusting off my Mordor collection. We have played just one game so far, using basic blocks of troops to get a handle on the rules. The next step is to introduce characters and more specialised units, which for Mordor means trolls. 

I only have one painted troll, so it was the perfect time to dig out that plastic troll languishing in a cave somewhere at the back of the drawer. I made it straight from the sprue to begin with, but decided it looked a bit similar to my old metal figure. So I changed the helmet a little by chopping off the horns and putting one back in the centre, rhino style. Then I replaced the plastic hammer head with a metal bit, from an ogre butcher I think. Two small changes which make a nice, unique model.

I must have painted the first troll about 15 years ago. At the time I made some changes to the pose, to calm it down a little, rather than wildly swinging the hammer. I entered this figure in Golden Daemon, and though it made the final cut, it was easily vanquished. It’s not hard to see why. It’s a brown blob with very little contrast. I always said I would remedy this at some time, it’s only taken 15 years or so to get round to it.

At the time I was influenced by the film palette, but this time around I want to go back to the original source. In the books, trolls are usually described as black or dark skinned, so that’s a potential palette. I will probably go for a grey skin with blackened  armour, but am still pondering. It’s good to be back in Middle Earth again, with the fire of Morgoth in my belly!

Saturday 31 July 2021

A few random vikings

 I was ratching* about in my boxes the other day, when I came across this set of vikings, which were mostly painted but had never been finished. Always happy to get a result with little effort, I applied the last few touches and the shield transfers, adding another half dozen vikings to my collection. I have recently thinned my collection, offloading quite a few old painted figures to eBay, so I am happy to say that I now have got back to six points of painted figures for Saga.

The two central figures are by V&V miniatures, still my favourite manufacturer by a long chalk. The others are by Victrix Miniatures, which offer a decent, more affordable alternative. The shield transfers are by Little Big Men.

Here’s the single point of hearthguard, with the temporary leader (Thor is a busy guy and he can’t play this role forever). At some point he will be replaced by a suitable, more historical figure. I chose to restrict the shields to red, black and white to tie the unit together a little. I have another unit of hearthguard with great weapons that are not yet painted. 

*ratch is a Cumbrian/Scottish/northern dialect word, meaning search or looking for. I was hoping it was Norse in origin, but it seems to be medieval of unknown origin.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

Hobgrot Slitta Conversions

It’s summer time, so there’s a new Warhammer box set in town. I thought that the new hobgrot slittas looked promising as conversion fodder, so I grabbed a set of ten from eBay. I wasn’t sure on the size, from the pictures online they looked bigger, but they are a perfect match for my Lord of the Rings collection. 

Here’s a picture of a converted hobgrot alongside a Mordor orc and a Morannon orc. As you can see they are a perfect match to the Morannon figure, or could easily be played as a Mordor orc. Or you could paint them in dark armour and use them as black orcs. I would think you could easily fit them into a Uruk hai tribe too. Good news if you are looking for some variety to your collection.

The conversions were relatively easy. I used plastic bits from the oathmark goblins set, with a few random historical plastic shields too, probably viking  in origin. You could swap with Lord of the Rings bits too I would guess. On the hobgrots, I trimmed away a lot of the extra bits, especially the ropes dangling from their armour, and I removed as many of the “grenades” as was easy to do, though I did keep one as a club. 

There were a fair few options available on the hobgrot figures. They are obviously a new incarnation of the old hobgoblin figures, and there are options to give them all helmets or keep them bare headed. The latter, in conjunction with the two dagger options, would give you a reasonable version of the old hobgoblin sneaky gits.

I originally bought the figures thinking they would make a good addition to my Warhammer goblins force, and I might still do this. But seeing them next to the LotR figures has given me a dilemma. One to ponder for a couple of months, as the annual summer hobby hibernation begins.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Realm of Chaos Spawn

This is a figure I have had in my collection for a long time. I cannot remember the date it was bought, early to mid 2000s I would hazard a guess. Back in those days, I was an old fogey in the glass cabinet section of the Warhammer forum. I bought the pack and split it with [fiend], a fellow painter on the forum, the idea being we would paint half each. I never got round to it for whatever reason, until all these years later. It’s kinda sad that it took so long.

I did make a start back in the day, it was glued to a square base and I had a notion to paint it as a Nurgle spawn, so it was already based in light green and bone colours. But my painting style has moved on. I wanted to give it more interest and more contrast, so I started adding hues and they developed at random. The left head I thought looked a bit alienesque and was shooting for a silver grey look, like a shark, but overdid it with the blue, decided I liked it and stuck with it. The right hand head stayed green and yellow. The middle head I was trying for a flesh colour but it turned out angry pinks, but again I quite like it so stuck with it.

Finally, here’s the chaos sorceror of my warband, to give a sense of scale. I am hoping to play games of Warhammer using the old fourth or fifth edition chaos book, in which there is a possibility that a character will be turned to a spawn for the amusement of the chaos gods (and my opponent, no doubt). At the moment the warband contains just one character, this sorceror, so he had better make sure he impresses those fickle deities!

Monday 17 May 2021

Realm of Chaos Beastmen

Another unit painted for the Realm of Chaos warband. These twelve figures are a mix of metals from the early 90s and plastics, from the later 1990s I think. I reckon the plastic Beastmen to be one of the best kits ever released by Games Workshop, and with a few extra bits they really look the business. More info on the build in this post.

Painting was problematic at first. I tried a yellowish skin tone but it did not work. Then I tried a ruddy flesh tone, again I was not happy with the result. So I decided to make them similar to the ungors, but with a darker skin tone, it was meant to be a mid grey, but it has ended up more blue than I would have liked, but I just went with the flow (otherwise I would have given up completely). Finished but flawed is better than unpainted and abandoned.

The banner was another thing that did not go to plan. I knew that I did not want an elaborate design, that doesn’t fit the background for me, a crudely scrawled symbol was my choice. I added some runic script, copied from the chaos warriors shields, but it looked a bit amateurish, so I obscured most of it with some dark washes. It looks okay now, like the banner has been continuously draped in the blood of slaughtered enemies. 

Those problems aside, I am happy with the unit now it is finished. I have always liked the beastmen plastics and it feels good to have them as part of my collection. The warband feels more like a warband now. A leader, some scouts, some average troops and some elite fighters, just about enough to go raiding. I would like to expand on the scouting element by adding some hounds, still pondering over the choice of figures. I have a couple of quick and easy cheat units I can add in the meantime. 

Thursday 29 April 2021

Realm of Chaos Sorceror

This is a scenario many of you will no doubt recognise. I started painting this mini in a flurry of excitement and inspiration. I blasted through the cape and added the decorative border in a couple of sessions and was really pleased with the progress. I had an idea on the skin and put down a base coat and then put it to one side, meaning to pick it up again later in the week. But when the allotted time came round I didn’t fancy doing it too much so I left it, get back to it next week. And then the next week came and I was busy with something else. And so on. Eventually, it was four weeks later before I finally picked it up and finished it off. So it took one month to paint one figure!*

This is a metal figure, a limited edition chaos sorceror released around 2002 (according to Stuff of Legends, who seem to know their, er, stuff). It’s almost 20 years old, by the gods I have been doing this for so long now. It originally had a tail protruding from the front of the cloak but I chopped that off, partly on a whim, partly because I don’t like having too much of the model hanging over the the edge of the base. Nobody likes massive dangly bits.

The palette was mostly determined by previously completed chaos warriors, but I flipped the dominant colour to a deep red. The pale skin was suggested by the face looking a bit vampiric, a bit like the Emperor of the stars wars movies. Most evil guys have a very sickly, pale pallor, they obviously spend far too much time secreted away in dark towers and deep dungeons. The green flames were a natural contrast to the red robes, and green flames just look magical.

Slowly, very slowly in this case, the chaos warband is coming together. With ten warriors at his side and ten little goatee men scouts, there is a possibility to play skirmish games at this stage. Ideally, there would be at least one more unit before gaming could start in a meaningful way. I have already built the next unit (see my previous post) and hopefully I can get them painted quicker than one model each month!

This last photo shows the sorceror alongside two of the chaos warriors. If we ever play games of Erehwon, these would be the bodyguard/acolytes. While the warriors were painted almost exclusively using contrast paints with no highlights, on the sorceror I did employ some traditional techniques, layering and highlighting. Is there a great difference in the quality of the finish?

* these days, I spend most of my spare time painting canvas rather than toy soldiers

Monday 26 April 2021

Attack of the Mutant Goatmen

Over the weekend I built the next unit for the Realm of Chaos warband; a unit of beastmen gors, led by a shaman. There’s a nice mix of figures in this unit, including metals from the 90s, through to the latest plastics from the start collecting box set. There’s also a few bits from the latest chaos marauders set, for some variety in the weaponry. The unit leader, holding the severed head, I am not sure where he came from, maybe Mordheim, he was in my bits box. I am pretty happy with the way they turned out, the plastic bodies are all pretty much identical but variety can be found with a little ingenuity. I think my favourite pose is the gor in the front rank on the right, he has real menace.

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Realm of Chaos Warriors

The first unit of warriors for the Realm of Chaos project are completed. Black armour, red cloaks and white fur makes a striking scheme I have used before and wanted to try again, though this time using mainly contrast paints. There is very little highlighting involved on these figures, it’s mostly glazing with diluted contrast paints. I explained the process in more detail in my previous post. I am happy with the way these turned out, black armour can be flat and dull, so getting the texture and variation there was probably the hardest part. I could also make improvements on the red cloaks, but for now they are done.

With the recently painted ungors, that’s two completed units for this project. I feel I have earned the right to paint a character, so that’s my next job. An old sorcerer model will do very nicely. A chance to stretch my wings a little and add some more detail rather than production line units. That’s what I need now, to keep the interest level high. I find as I get older that I have less patience with painting units, one reason I am keen to exploit the contrast paints in any way I can. 

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Contrast Chaos Warriors

I am making some progress with the chaos warriors. Over the weekend I finished half the unit, the remaining half are quite well progressed too. I had the camera set up for commission work so decided to grab a quick shot and waffle a bit about the painting process.

As with most of my work I started with a light undercoat. In the past I have sprayed white, then added a wash and worked from that point. For these figures I primed black all over, then from above with a grey, then dry brushed with white. This gave me a much better range of tonal values, albeit monochromatic to start with, a good base to glaze over with contrast paints. 

I painted the cloaks first as I thought these (front bits) would be hardest to reach with the brush. I used flesh tearer red contrast paint, diluted with a little flow aid and matte medium. This gave a surprisingly good finish, I could easily have left it at this, but I did add a little more shading in the deeper creases using contrast cygor brown, which is a red brown.

The fur trim was washed with skeleton horde contrast, as usual thinned with flow aid and matte medium. I suspect this is how contrast paints are made, with pigment added of course. I then dry brushed with white for an easy, effective, light fur effect. I splashed in other glazes to the fur as I painted the armour, greys, browns, yellow at random, to make it look a bit less uniform, a bit more natural.

The black armour was a bit more fiddly. I used black Templar contrast paint, which has a green/blue tendency over white. Ideally suited to sci fi figures but not my taste. So I glazed with browns and yellows to warm the tone. I then added random patches of grey and highlights with light colours from my palette, and also used white contrast paint to really try to achieve some variation in tone. Black alone is so flat and uninteresting. There was quite a bit of lightening and darkening going on with white, grey, brown and black, some glazing, some stippling, until I was happy with the result. It’s not as simple a process as the fur but then it’s a more complex thing to paint.

Hopefully it will not be too long before I finish the rest of them and I can put up a unit shot. The project is ticking along at a nice pace so far, hopefully I can keep at it, not get distracted by other projects. I spend more time painting canvas than miniatures these days, this Realm of Chaos project could be my swan song.

Friday 12 March 2021

Ungor Raiders

The first unit in the Realm of Chaos nostalgia project, ten ungor raiders. I would say these are 90% painted with contrast paints and the results are pretty decent. I have been painting using self made glazes over a white undercoat for years so the switch to contrast was not difficult. I found contrast paints, like virtually every paint I use, to be far too thick and diluted them using flow enhancer and matt medium, but maybe that’s just a habit I have picked up.

These are the first unit to emerge from the Realm of Chaos, part of a larger army I have started as a nostalgia project. The plan is to build a small force and play some games over the summer when restrictions have eased. The aim is to play using WHFB fourth edition, a return to my roots, though we might end up using fifth edition as we seem to have more books from that version. They were very similar so we can probably mix and match easily.

Eagle eyed chaos generals for that era will no doubt be aware that ungor did not use bows in those versions, but as easy going gamers we will ignore that little oversight. They are also round based, which probably is no hardship for skirmish troops but might cause some consternation among the wargaming basing police. I will be using rounds on all my figures as I simply prefer the look. As casual gamers we usually can fudge along quite nicely irrespective of rules, bases and the like. 

These figures are, as stated, mostly glazed and I have skimped on a lot of detail. They are designed for gaming and not for entry into painting competition. Having said that, I reckon the standard is good for speed painting and am happy to show close ups to the nerd world.

Sunday 28 February 2021

Contrast Paints review: how to paint using glazes

A new project is a good opportunity to try something new. I decided to try Contrast Paints, having read both good and bad things about them. They seemed to my eye to be very thick glazes, and as I use a lot of glazing in my painting I thought it was high time I put them to the test. 

A good undercoat is essential when glazing. A glaze is translucent, so you will see something of what is beneath. With this in mind I prepared a unit of little goatee men by priming grey all over, then white from above. Then I applied the first glaze, apothecary white straight from the pot, no thinning. When dry it gives a good starting point, a neutral base to work on.

I then dry brushed white to emphasise the details. Next I mixed gryph charger grey and wyldwood, hoping for a mid grey to use on the skin, but the brown won. Still, not a problem, I used this brown on the hairy bits. I also thinned it with flow enhancer and Matt medium to glaze face details, horns and a fade on the lower leg. By the time I had finished the tenth model, the first was dry and I went back in for a second coat of this brown mix on the areas I thought had dried pale or needed stronger shading.

I wanted the skin to be pale but have some variation and definition. Thinned gryph charger grey was applied, trying to keep it on the lower areas and wiping off on the upper sides of arms, chest, head. It’s subtle but you can now see the muscles better defined, especially on the little goatee six packs.

Next phase was the bow and arrows. I used skeleton horde, which is a pale sepia maybe, with some wyldwood added to make a yellow-brown. I applied this on the bows, then thinned it for the arrows.

So now on my palette I have wyldwood, which is a dark brown, the gryph charger blue-grey, and some skeleton yellow. These can be mixed together to make various browns and can be used to finish all the fiddly bits left on the model - the leather bits, bones, loincloths and the like. I used burnt sienna as an undercoat for the darker leather areas. Some areas I just glazed with the murky browns. Finally, if any bits had become too dark, I applied a thin white highlight, to emphasise the pectorals mainly and tidy up any splashes on the skin. I would say the models are 95% contrast paints. 

Friday 19 February 2021

Realm of Chaos warriors

The first unit for painting in my new Realm of Chaos project is the warriors, from the Start Collecting Slaves to Darkness starter set. The box contains 16 figures, comprising 10 warriors (foot), 5 knights (mounted) and one lord on a lizard type beast. Round / oval bases are provided. The figures are press together builds meant for beginners, though I assembled mine with glue. They are all built in a single pose, it is not possible to make your own poses. However, it’s easy enough to remove the flange on the necks, allowing you to twist the head and alter the pose a little. I did this quite a lot on the foot warriors, to avoid them all looking straight ahead. There’s also a choice of helmeted or bare head available on the warriors and the lord, though not the knights.

The engineering on GW’s figures never ceases to amaze me. They truly are amazing models. Each of the foot figures, which technically are footslogging grunts, could easily be a character model. These were a breeze to put together. I trimmed off a couple of bits and varied the head rotation as I mentioned above. If you wanted to make weapon swaps (if you had two sets and you wanted to avoid clones) it should be reasonably easy. The choice of heads is also a nice touch and you could potentially mix in heads from other kits. These are wonderful models and I am really looking forward to painting them. I would think that one or two might be slightly easier to paint if you left off the shield arm and attached it after painting was complete, but I tend to avoid this. 

As far as compatibility is concerned, they scale really well with recent chaos warrior models, as this photo shows. The red warrior is one of the Khorne models released for AOS. The black warrior is from the plastic box of chaos warriors released back when WHFB was still alive. The styling and scale are well matched, the newer figures have more realistic (smaller) weapons and heads. I would think it would be reasonably easy to base them on squares and rank them up. I did intend to do this, but found I had run out of mdf bases so just went for the easy option of using those in the box. 

Even though I have started the project on a nostalgia wave, I am using the project as a testing board for some new ideas. New to me that is. More on that in a future post, for now here are the figures primed black, then grey, then dry brushed white.

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