First off, check out all the amazing entries for Old Man Paint’s #oldorcs challenge, over on his blog. There are some really talented painters that took part; some of their work is truly stunning! (You can also see my entry: it’s the one that looks like shit compared to all the others! 🙂 )
Another year, and another missed opportunity to again host Dwarvember. I keep telling myself I should bring it back each year, but I was kind of busy last month between #Oldorcs and The Vamp for Vampifan stuff, and I plumb forgot about it. Maybe I’ll bring back WizarDecember next month instead. Subconsciously, though, Dwarvember must have been working on me, because the first miniature I painted after the Red Duke was this one: Svala, from Hasslefree miniatures.
Regular visitors to this blog will be familiar with my love of all things Dwarvish; but for those who are popping over from Instagram or who happen to have come here accidentally, suffice it to say that I find two things coolest above all else: dwarves and bagpipers. And if you put both those things together, you may very well bring tears of joy to my eyes.
Anyway, I like Hasslefree miniatures a lot; but I usually purchase Kev’s Modern adventurers and martial artists rather than his Fantasy miniatures (even though they’re really good). That’s when I purchase Hasslefree at all; shipping rates are utter bullshit right now and have been for quite a while, so I don’t often “buy British” nowadays. That sucks for me, as there are some great miniatures to be had from companies like Crooked Dice and Heresy (not to mention Wargames Terrain Workshop, a company I just discovered I am powerless to resist, shipping be damned. Hi, Dave!). While looking for something fun to paint, I stumbled across Svala here. I must have tacked her on to an order somewhere and forgot. The last time I ordered from Hasslefree was at least four or five years ago.
Anyway, I decided to paint her up as an older, experienced Dwarf woman; someone who hung up her adventuring gear and now spends most days at the forge. Of course, she’s still a Dwarf; so her warhammer is never very far away.
She seemed like a good enough reason for a post as any. Hope you like her!
Insanity Pile Progress
Miniatures Purchased: +49
Miniatures Painted: +55
Total: +6 ( I went on a bit of a spree, as I usually do this time of year. Better make up some time!)
Well, it took me long enough, but I finally finished my vampire miniature painted this month in honor of Bryan Scott, a.k.a. Vampifan; a gamer who sadly passed on earlier this year. I chose The Red Duke from Games Workshop, a classic Vampire Counts miniature that I have had since its release in the late 90’s. Had I known Vampifan better (or at all), I probably would have chose something different, i.e. one that looked a bit more like Ingrid Pitt rather than Christopher Lee.
No one tells me anything. I blame Roger.
Anyway, once I got him positioned how I wanted, I gave him another coat of Vallejo black surface primer and did a quick drybrush of Citadel Celestra Grey to underpaint the model and highlight everything I needed to see in order to paint (my eyes ain’t what they used to be). Then I got to work.
Behold the results of my efforts. I have to say, since I started using Instagram and was forced to begin using my iPhone to take pictures, I have noticed that pictures taken with my actual camera really suck in comparison to anything I take with my phone. For some reason, if I try to load my iPhone pictures into WordPress, it doesn’t work. Normally I would blame Roger for this (and everything else); but it’s far more likely that WordPress is to blame.
Please forgive the shitty quality of these pictures, is what I’m saying.
I followed Duncan Rhodes Jr’s GW recipe for vampire skin: Rakarth Flesh base; followed by an Agrax Earthshade wash; highlight with Flayed One Flesh and finally with Pallid Wych Flesh. Of course, the only skin the Duke is showing is his face; but I think it looks suitably vampiric. The armor is a mix of four or five red washes and paints from different manufacturers (please don’t ask me what I used), as well as the same number of gold metallics. The one thing I’m unsure of is the purple…the more I look at it, the more I think it should be black. But I wanted to add a bit of color to the Duke besides red. What do you think?
Speaking of purple, THIS happened while I was in the midst of painting: I spilled my Druchii Violet wash all over the place, because I accidentally swatted the shitty GW flip-top bottle cap and knocked the whole pot over. Fuck you, GW. Between your paints that dry up far too quickly and your fucking stubborn resistance to dropper bottles, I’ve about fucking had it with your planned obsolescence business model. Know what I’ve never accidentally spilled? ANY PAINT IN A FUCKING DROPPER BOTTLE. Like Vallejo. Or Army Painter. Or Reaper. Or any cheap-ass craft paint I can buy at Wal-Mart. All these paints seem to last a hell of a lot longer, too. Coincidence? DOUBT IT.
Sorry. I’ve been drinking.
One thing I am really happy about is using the cape from the Heroclix Hobgoblin. I did this out of necessity, because I somehow lost the Red Duke’s own cape over the years. (Very unlike me. I’m sure it will turn up somewhere.) I think it looks a lot better than his “official” cape would look; and it adds a bit of realism to the motion of the rearing skeletal steed. (Also, it turns out I didn’t need to sculpt any reins, so…yaay me!)
As a small bonus, I also repainted this Horrorclix Nosferatu. Unlike the Red Duke, it took me about 30 minutes in total to rebase and repaint him, so it’s hardly a huge accomplishment. Still, I thought I’d include him in my Vampifan tribute.
True to form, I waited until the last possible minute to post these miniatures. I hope Vampifan would have liked them. It’s Halloween, and if there wasn’t a pandemic, I’d be expecting trick-or-treaters at my door in a few hours; but it’s looking like it’s going to be a quiet night.
My #oldorcs submission took me longer than anticipated; after all, it’s just one orc model. I should have been able to complete that in an hour or so. But the more I looked at it, the more I put off actually beginning to work on it. I really wanted to capture the Oldhammer painting style; a style I haven’t used since, well, since the Oldhammer days of my youth. I painted the basic green skin tone and left the model to sit for a bit while I prepped my Vamp for Vampifan, the Red Duke.
I’ve been having an odd sleep schedule lately, and I found myself thinking about him at 3 am. It was a night of soaking rain here. Usually that helps me sleep, but I had Ork on the brain. I got up and went to my painting table, and I stared. I stared at the Ork for 15 minutes or so, while the rain came down on my bulkhead. I stared, and he stared back. And then I knew what I was going to do.
I decided to make him a Death Skull; because I’ve always been partial to their blue facepaint. Once I did that, the rest of the model came pretty quickly.
When I painted my Warhammer Orc and Goblin army decades ago, I used the same orc skin recipe on almost all the models: Snot Green base, Goblin Green tone, Scorpion Green highlight (all are avialable through Coat D’Arms nowadays). I didn’t want to do that here, so instead I used a base of Citadel Caliban Green, followed by Reaper’s Turf Green and Meadow Green. This resulted in a slightly darker skin tone than I liked, so I once again added some Scorpion Green highlights. For the blue face paint, I based it in Vallejo Prussian Blue, highlighted with Reaper’s Dragon Blue, and then a final highlight of Vallejo Andrea Blue.
The rest was pretty easy: I just went back to the brightly-colored John Blanche/Mike McVey Oldhammer palette that was the norm when I first started playing. You can see plenty of examples of it in old White Dwarf and Dragon magazines, if you have them; or of course any old codices, catalogs and army books of the time. Barring that, there’s always the Internet…
This was a fun little diversion and my first Instagram painting challenge. Thanks to Old Man Paints for hosting it! There are prizes to be won, but they weren’t my motivation. I really just needed the kick in the pants to get back to hobbying.
Roger from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has organized a tribute to fellow blogger and miniatures enthusiast, Vampifan (Bryan Scott), who sadly passed away earlier this year. I knew Vampifan from his blog, Vampifan’s World of the Undead, and from Painting Challenges like Zomtober and Forgotten Heroes. We tread the same internet and blog byways, but I can’t recall ever corresponding with him directly. I wish I had. By all accounts, he was a great guy, a veteran gamer generous with his advice and encouragement; a good friend, a real credit to the hobby, and a man who will be missed.
This month, to honor an absent friend, Roger has proposed painting a vampire miniature in lieu of simply raising a glass in Vampifan’s memory (although feel free to do that, too). I’ve got a vampire miniature, so count me in.
The miniature I have chosen is one I have had for about 25 years: The Red Duke, by Games Workshop. I bought him right around the time GW split their Undead army into Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings. I chose to go with (though never played) Vampire Counts; the Red Duke was to be my general.
As you can see, he was primed black some time ago, and 25 years of being knocked around in a box has worn some of that off. He also had a cape at one point, but I seem to have lost it. No matter. This Heroclix Hobgoblin shall donate his. You may recall this particular Heroclix has already donated his left arm to my Nexus Forgotten Heroes submission earlier this year. I’ve also removed his head and cut him off the glider. Waste not, want not.
You never know when you’ll need an empty goblin glider. Ask Norman Osborn how dangerous they can be…
Anyway, I don’t want him to go on a boring cavalry slotta base. I’m going for a more dynamic pose: I want him on a rearing skeletal steed! The billowing cape should help the overall effect. I chose a 60mm round base, then added a 30mm base for height and applied some Magic Sculpt to level everything out.
A bit of green stuff, drilling and test-pinning, and I think I’m ready for a re-prime. I’m going to paint the Duke and the steed separately before fitting them together. It seems I may have to use more of the dreaded green stuff to sculpt some reins, as his new, more dynamic pose doesn’t “sit the saddle” the way it was intended.
At this stage of the game, I’m happy with what I have. It looks like this could be a good-looking miniature when I’m done, if I don’t fuck up the paint job. Fingers crossed!
The other day I stumbled across an Instagram painting challenge for Orctober. Old Man Paints is running his Old Orcs Challenge. The rules are on his site (which is a cool site to visit anyway), but put simply they are: paint an old orc miniature from the Oldhammer era (mid 80’s-early 90’s) and post it on Instagram by the end of the month. (There are hashtag requirements and stuff like that, but that’s about the gist of it.)
Well, if there’s one thing I have a lot of, it’s Oldhammer Orcs. Sadly, all of mine are painted already, and one of the rules is a “before” picture is necessary. It seems I was out of luck.
Well, it just so happens I have had a 40K Ork army as a planned project for about 10 years. This makes no sense, as I don’t play 40K anymore; but who among you can say you don’t have similar nonsensical ambitions in your pile of shame? I have a ton of Orks, most still on the sprue, just waiting for assembly and painting. (I’m in no hurry.) The vast majority of these are from this millennium. In other words, most of them.
Then I found this guy, along with a handful of other Rogue Trader-era Boyz. I’m back in business.
I have no expectation of actually winning this challenge, considering the level of talent I see on Instagram; but I figure I can pretty easily paint one ork in my sleep by the end of the month, so why not participate? Next time you see this guy, he’ll have paint (and arms) on him.
First off: I hate this WordPress theme, and I’m looking to change it as soon as possible. I just need to find a theme that doesn’t screw up my photos. This was what I could find on short notice. Change to come soon.
When I was a lad, I collected mostly Marvel comics, with the exception of a couple of black and white titles my friend introduced me to in high school. The only one of note was theTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unlike most comics, TMNT didn’t come out monthly; it came out whenever the creators made a new issue. As a result, we were always hoping for more turtles, and were often disappointed. So, when my Friendly Comic Shop Owner slid a copy of Grimjack #26 in my reserve box, I wondered why… until I discovered the back-up feature, Munden’s Bar, had a story featuring the turtles…and it was in COLOR.
I bought it, of course. The turtles story was fine. The main story was much better. Thus I was introduced to one of my favorite comic books and comic characters of all time: Grimjack.
From Wikipedia: Grimjack is the street name of John Gaunt, a sword-for-hire, ex-paramilitary, war veteran and former child gladiator. He operates from Munden’s Bar in the Pit, a slum area of Cynosure, a pan-dimensional city to which all dimensions connect. All this is true. but it’s pretty bare-bones as far as the character’s full biography goes. He’s a war veteran, sure…but he’s a veteran of the Demon Wars, which has given him some sensitivity to magic; which is also a thing, depending on where you are in the pan-dimensional city of Cynosure. Although this hardly needs be said, he’s also a fucking badass.
There were three main incarnations of the character throughout the comic’s 81-issue run, the entirety of which was written by John Ostrander. A small British miniatures company, Wayne’s World of Wonder (available through Matchlock Miniatures), makes a version of all three. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of a friend, specifically the lovely and talented Carrion Crow, I now own these miniatures. A real bon homme, that Crow…when I opened the unexpected parcel last holiday season, I almost squealed with girlish glee. (OK, I did squeal.) As some of you may know, I have been in a bit of a painting slump lately…so these figures were just what I needed to get my groove back.
First up, the “original” Grimjack; as immortalized by the great Tim Truman’s artwork. This is the version we see at the beginning of the series: Gaunt as a man slightly past it, pushing fifty and hardened by a life of violence and loss. Hands-down my favorite version of the character, this is also the version they brought back when they finally began publishing Grimjack comics again, some fifteen-plus years after the comic ceased production upon the demise of First Comics. (I converted my own versions of two other First Comics characters, Nexus and Badger, for Forgotten Heroes back in June. Forgotten Heroes: a Carrion Crow joint.)
After a while, Grimjack comes to inhabit a much younger, cloned body of himself, and goes by the name “Chaney”. It doesn’t really fool anyone for long, kinda like when Wolverine started calling himself Patch but still popped his claws every issue. Tom Mandrake took over the bulk of the pencils for this incarnation, and it is the version of Grimjack I like the least. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s more that what came before and what comes after is so much better…
Then, in Grimjack #55, the timeline jumps a couple of hundred years. Grimjack is reborn (in fact, he’s doomed to be reborn forever) in the body of James Twilley. Twilley didn’t know he was Grimjack until he was in high school and killed someone; then it all came rushing back. Some of the best Grimjack stories were written during this run, which lasted until the series’s end; and Flint Henry’s artwork is so, so good….
Of course, while painting these miniatures I had to dig out my comics for visual reference. This prompted a re-read of the series, currently ongoing. I’m on issue 31, and aside from some unfortunate, racially-insensitive language (you could get away with that stuff back then, although it adds nothing to the story) and the horrid (yet blissfully temporary) art of Tom Sutton, it holds up pretty well. I remember why it’s so great and I’m looking forward to what I know is coming.
This post also marks the return of my long-neglected Insanity Pile tracker. Sadly, This year I haven’t painted as many miniatures as usual, but neither have I been purchasing many. Once again, I do not count miniatures I repaint (like Heroclix), or Gaslands cars that I convert.
The first God of War game was released in 2005 on the Playstation 2. I played it, and I’ve played every single God of War game ever since, including the latest, released in 2018, also entitled “God of War.“
Here’s a summary of the whole series: you play as Kratos, a Spartan who is the son of Zeus. Ares kills Kratos’s family, so Kratos kills Ares (God of War, 2005). Along the way, and pretty much thereafter, Kratos kills EVERY FUCKING THING he sees. Every monster, mythical creature, hero and god in the Greek pantheon probably gets gutted by Kratos at some point over the course of the next five sequels and prequel (God of War II, III, Ghost of Sparta, Chains of Olympus, and Ascension). Kratos is an angry guy, and killing shit is what he do.
After slaughtering his way through Olympus, Kratos decides to grow a beard, hang up his Blades of Chaos (more on those below) and retire to a nice, quiet life as a mortal somewhere in Scandinavia (it’s not really clear where). Time passes. He marries a woman and has a son, Atreus. This all happens between the previous God of War game, and the latest one.
Of course, leaving Kratos alone would be the smartest thing anyone could possibly do. Naturally, that doesn’t happen. The Norse gods discover who he is and decide to fuck with him. And that’s the premise for the latest God of War game. Kratos and his son murder their way through the Norse realms on a quest to scatter his wife’s ashes in Jotunheim. Of course, there’s a lot of father-son drama along the way. Kratos has kept who he was, or is, from his son all his life; and as you might imagine, Kratos is a somewhat distant and severe parent. He’s way better at killing things than connecting meaningfully with his son.
Ever since the original God of War, I have wanted a Kratos miniature, and I guess the reason I don’t have one is that sculptors are wary of sailing too close to the wind to attempt a “not-Kratos” sculpt, as it’s an easily recognizable IP owned by Sony. While Kratos is hardly a “forgotten” hero in the literal sense, he definitely qualifies for Forgotten Heroes; to my knowledge, no “official” miniature exists. Thus I decided to make my own, but sculpting the Blades of Chaos is far beyond my pitiful skills.
The Blades of Chaos are a pair of chained short swords made by Ares. Kratos whirls them around and things die. See above.
Sadly (yet lucky for me) in this latest incarnation, Kratos has traded in his Blades of Chaos for the Leviathan Axe. I say lucky, but this bummed me out a lot as a player, as for sheer violent delight you just can’t beat the Blades of Chaos. The Leviathan Axe is pretty “meh” by comparison. It’s kind of like playing a Wolverine game and not being able to use Wolverine’s claws; you get a baseball bat instead. Still, the absence of the Blades of Chaos made conversion a lot easier. I quickly found this guy in my pile of unpainted, unopened lead:
That’s Reaper’s Goldar the Barbarian, sculpted by Matt Gubser. He’ll do.
I added a green stuff beard, which is pretty much all I needed to do prior to painting. In the latest game, Kratos runs around with the severed head of Mimir (Kratos severed it for him), which constantly gives you counsel and recites Norse legends and lore for your benefit in an inexplicably Scottish brogue. I used an old GW zombie head for Mimir (or, as Kratos calls him, “Head”), and sculpted his horns from more green stuff.
Here’s the result.
I thought I was pretty hot shit for coming up with this conversion and couldn’t understand why no one else had thought of it before. Of course, someone HAD. One quick trip to Cool Mini or Not and I saw that I was hardly as clever or original as I thought.
Anyway, here is the finished result of my efforts. You should be aware that Kratos’s tattoo is done as a mirror image; that is, in reality it’s actually on the left side of his body. However, since the miniature’s left side is pretty well covered by his shoulder armor and the straps that hold it up, I opted to paint it on his right side so it could be seen. No one cares, I know. (Except for the asshole who, twirling his mustache, waits for the perfect moment to spring out and tell me I got it wrong.)
I guess I’m ok with it. I mean. I like the miniature, but to me, Kratos just isn’t Kratos without the Blades of Chaos. (Spoiler alert: you eventually get the Blades of Chaos back in the latest God of War, and the developers must have known that you’d be missing them by that point. Because the next few minutes of the game, wherein you reacquaint yourself with how fucking awesome they are, is one of the most viscerally-satisfying moments of gaming I have personally experienced.)
This wraps up my Forgotten Heroes submissions for the month. Not sure what I’m going to do next, but I have no shortage of projects, and since our Covid numbers are going in the wrong fucking direction here in the US (although not in my state, thankfully), it looks like I’ll be home for the foreseeable future. I should be able to find something…
My latest Modiphius Star Trek set is one of my favorites: The Next Generation Away Team. Like the Original Series Landing Party, you get a pair (one male and one female) of Vulcan, Human, Denobulan, Tellarite and Andorian miniatures, for a total of 10 crewmen you can customize by Division as you see fit. Of course, ten is not evenly divisible by three, so you have to pick which uniform color you want to assign to the extra miniature. Once again, I chose the blue shirts (Science and Medical Division), which is weird, because I distinctly remember telling myself I needed more gold uniforms (Security and Engineering). Not sure how that didn’t happen. Must have been my subconscious at work.
This is a good set. Putting aside my problems with Modiphius in general, the poses are good and the miniatures look great. I have no complaints. These sculpts look a lot better than the TNG bridge crew, which was a real missed opportunity for Modiphius, in my opinion.
My favorite miniature is the male Andorian I’ve painted as a security officer; followed closely by the Human female to the left (I painted her in Command red). My least favorite is the female Tellarite (same as it was in the TOS set), but it’s still a perfectly fine miniature and it’s not like I hate it.
This brings my Star Trek painting almost to a close. I only have 5 more Modiphius Trek miniatures to paint, and they’re all from the “Iconic Villains” set. With the exception of Gul Dukat (my favorite Trek villain), I have no immediate need for any of them (and probably no long-term need, either), so they’re pretty low on my priority list at the moment.
I still hope to get one more submission in for Forgotten Heroes by month’s end, so check back soon!
Continuing the First Comics theme, I bring you another character from that ill-fated publisher: Nexus.
Nexus was another Mike Baron creation, this time with co-creator Steve Rude. Once First Comics went under, Nexus was picked up by Dark Horse and, like other First Comics properties, made its way through several different publishers. I’m not sure who has the license now.
Nexus is Horatio Hellpop, which is either the coolest or stupidest name ever, I can’t decide. He is a guy given cosmic power by an alien force, called the Merk, in exchange for services rendered. In Nexus’s case, that service is to find and kill serial killers. Nexus has the usual superhero powers: flight, super-strength, telepathy and the ability to shoot frikkin’ lasers out of his hands. The Merk keeps Nexus motivated to do his job by making him feel the pain and anguish of the killers’ victims until he tracks down and ends the serial killer; which I guess is a good way to make overtime mandatory…
Much like Badger, I never got into Nexus, either. Maybe it’s a Mike Baron thing, maybe not. Still, I have a few comics with him in it, but I can’t tell you the last time I read one.
To make Nexus, I used two old Heroclix: a Hydra soldier and the Hobgoblin, both from the Marvel Heroclix Infinity Challenge set, not really hard to find (the Hydra soldier is actually tougher to find, and he was a common figure in the set).
I removed both the miniatures’ left arms, and with the help of some green stuff, did a Frankenstein’s monster on them. I also sanded his raised parts down a bit, then mounted him on a scenic base.
One quick repaint later, and Heeeeeeeeeere’s Nexus! The gloves don’t match, but by the time I remembered that I had already painted him and I didn’t see the need to go back and green stuff the gloves. I can live with it.
I have one more Forgotten Heroes submission I hope to complete by month’s end, and this time it’s not a superhero (gasp!). Suffice it to say it’s a character for whom I have long wanted a miniature…
First Comics had a pretty respectable roster of publications. Most were pretty good (Jon Sable; Freelance, Whisper, Tim Truman’s Scout, and my personal favorite: Grimjack), some not so great (I couldn’t get into American Flagg no matter how hard I tried). First secured the rights to publish Lone Wolf and Cub (which they did out of sequence and only for about 60 issues, if memory serves), complete with new covers from greats like Frank Miller and Bill Sienkewicz; they published Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar for a while, and they even got Jon Sable made into an extremely short-lived TV series, Sable, which I have tried in vain to find anywhere in these days of digital streaming.
First Comics went out of business in the late 80’s. Most of their properties were picked up by Dark Horse, at least for a while. I remember being pretty bummed out about their demise. One of their longest-running comics was Badger, created by Mike Baron.
Badger is Norbert Sykes, a Vietnam veteran who suffers from multiple personalities (those of us in the biz refer to that as Dissociative Identity Disorder nowadays). One of his personalities is Badger, an expert hand-to-hand combatant and crimefighter. Badger lives in a castle in southern Wisconsin with a 5th century Druid who he met in a mental hospital. Hilarity and action ensued. I guess.
Badger was too batshit-crazy a book even for me. Despite my love of all things martial arts, I just didn’t dig Badger all that much. Not sure why, but that hasn’t stopped me from making Badger for Forgotten Heroes this year. Here’s how I did it.
It wasn’t hard. I used these two Heroclix: Nighhtwing and a one-armed Fury (don’t know where she lost her harm), both from DC Hypertime.
One quick head swap later, and he’s already starting to look like Badger. I filed off some of Nightwing’s costume for easier repainting. I debated losing the escrima sticks and just going with clenched fists, but Badger is an expert with all martial arts weapons, so why bother?
I repainted him as Badger, and voila! First Forgotten Heroes submission done for 2020! I have another one in the can already, and I’m hoping to get a third submission completed by the end of the month. Check back here in a few days for my second submission!