This month went in a surprising direction for me. I had tried to cajole my friend back into the hobby by taunting him with his own miniatures, painted by me; but that didn’t work. (He told me so.) I started work on creating my own rules for a skirmish game I have kicking around, but didn’t get far. I started a new project for Gaslands but abandoned it for now; I rekindled my interest in roleplaying by purchasing a bunch of small-press indie games and listening to a lot of gaming podcasts. Somewhere in the middle of all that I managed to purchase and paint another Modiphius Star Trek set: The Original Series-era Landing Party.
The usual Modiphius annoyances aside (shitty plastic, unnecessary assembly, ridiculous pricing), this is a pretty good set. You get a male and female of five different TOS-era species: Humans, Denobulans, Tellarites, Andorians and Vulcans. What color you paint their attire is entirely up to you: Red, Gold or Blue; but with 10 miniatures in the set, you can’t have an even division. I decided to go heavy on the science/medical personnel.
My only real criticism is that 3 out of 5 of the female miniatures have similar poses. It’s a minor quibble in an otherwise solid set. My favorite miniature is this human male. (I painted him as a redshirt, so I won’t get too attached to him.)
My least favorite is the female Tellarite all the way in back, on the right. You can’t really see it, but I hard a hard time painting her face as it’s sculpted weird. Maybe it’s just me.
Last time I lamented that two years ago, my friend Owen decided with finality that he was done with painting miniatures and gave me his sizable collection, amassed over the span of decades, to do with as I see fit. Up until now, all I have done is hold them in safekeeping for the last couple of years in the vain hope that he would leap headlong back into the hobby, eager and excited, his passion rekindled for all things paint and lead themed.
That has not happened.
So, I decided to start painting some of his unpainted lead, the hope being that my efforts will reignite in him that which lies dormant. Then, he will graciously thank me for keeping his miniatures and politely ask for their return, which I, of course, will expeditiously grant. Then we will rule the galaxy together as father and son (figuratively speaking, pardon the pun), gleefully painting miniatures until our fingers bleed.
That’s my hope, anyway.
Over the years, I have created many characters for role-playing games, many of which I have never actually played. I don’t consider that wasted time, as creating characters is by far my favorite part of gaming. I thought it would be fun to come up with some fluff for these guys, so while painting them up, I thought about a backstory for each one.
Karl Rost, master-at-arms, served Baron Graf of Zondergeld as military advisor, as his own father had served the Baron’s father before him. But this Baron was a fool. Baron Graf was obsessed with games, and to him, Karl Rost was merely another pawn to be used–or sacrificed. Thus when the Baron lost a wager to Duke Danius of neighboring Cyndar, a wager he could not cover, he paid his debt with Karl Rost. Baron Graf sent his master-at-arms to work like a common tradesman for a rival kingdom without a second thought, oblivious to the man’s true worth.
The term of Rost’s service was to be a year and one day, after which he would return to the service of Baron Graf. Humiliated and betrayed, Rost performed his assigned duties for Duke Danius as he was bound. With Rost’s guidance, the forces of Cyndar easily swept through the Baron’s defenses and subjugated Zondergeld within two months. The Baron was beheaded and his line ended; thus when Rost’s term of service was up, he had no place to return. He rejected Duke Danius’s offer of position and wealth in his new realm, and instead now wanders the land as a masterless adventurer and sellsword, making his way as he can.
Rost is Reaper’s Damian Helthorne, Bandit; sculpted by Tre Manor. I was aware of this miniature through my frequent browsing of Reaper’s site, but until Owen gave it to me (along with all his other miniatures) I had never seen it “in the flesh”, so to speak. It’s a terrific miniature (albeit a bit heavily-armed for a “bandit”), and I quickly fell in love with it. I think he’s a perfect representation of a lawless mercenary like Karl Rost. I’m not thrilled by my freehand shield design, but I’m also not motivated enough to fix it for what would be the third time, so this is what he’s stuck with.
The Red Wolf of Thord was born in that frozen wasteland as Lorm Einarsson, the youngest of four. Before he was twenty he had killed his three older brothers, none of them quickly, for motives unknown. Some say they bullied him as a youth, others claim he just didn’t like them very much. He usurped his eldest brother as cyng upon his death and took over his band of thegns, sailing with them southward into the fertile lands of Mornellorn and Evaleaux. There his cruel path of destruction, pillage and rapine quickly tore those kingdoms asunder. Centuries later, his name is still whispered to children to encourage compliance and good behavior, lest the Red Wolf appear.
In the frozen lands of Thord, there are only white wolves. During one of Einarsson’s prolonged “stays” in Evaleaux, he hunted and slew a huge red wolf that had been attacking cattle he had pillaged from nearby villages, splitting its head with his great axe, Skuffe. From that day on he wore its pelt as a cloak, and thus the legend of the “Red Wolf of Thord” was born.
Another Reaper Tre Manor sculpt, the Red Wolf is represented by the hirsute Olaf, Viking Chieftain. Unlike the previous model, I likely never would have purchased this guy. Not because the sculpt is bad (I don’t think Tre Manor is capable of bad sculpting), but because I hate double-bladed axes. I just think they look really stupid. Coming from a guy who loves dwarfs and has many dwarf miniatures, you can assume I have to deal with them more often than I would like, and you would be right. Typically, I remove one of the axe blades, and the model usually looks a lot better. But because of the way Olaf here is holding his axe, it wouldn’t look right if I modified it. (Besides, this is Owen’s miniature. I’m just working with what I have.) I should probably fix his eyes a little bit, as they look too wide.
I have made Owen aware of this post and the previous one, so hopefully my effrontery will work: he’ll demand all his miniatures back and start painting them again. (Fingers crossed.) If not, I will continue to do so myself in the hopes he will one day return to the dark side…
I first met my friend Owen when we were in college, almost 30 years ago (Christ, that’s depressing as hell.) We quickly found we had much in common. Some examples: we both had a brother with the same name. We both played role-playing games. We both worked at a (now) defunct electronics retailer, albeit at different stores (at first). We both took the same hellish philosophy class taught by a crazed Jesuit who was banned from practicing mass because…well, because he was batshit crazy, among other things. We had a mutual friend that neither of us knew about until the first time I joined Owen for a gaming session and found him at the table.
Most significantly, we discovered that we both collected and painted miniatures. Prior to meeting Owen, I didn’t know anyone else who was the slightest bit interested in miniatures at all. Neither of us played wargames; we collected and painted miniatures purely because of our interest in rpgs. We bought mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures, as these were the ones commonly available at the time. We even bought them at the same store, but we didn’t know that until later.
I got into Warhammer in the mid-90’s, but Owen never did. Eventually, we both stopped painting for a while here and there over the years. I took a hiatus for about 5-6 years between 2002-2008, and I think he may have done the same, only sooner. I jumped right back into the hobby, whereas Owen never really did.
Two years ago or so, Owen gave me all his miniatures; hundreds of them, possibly more. Most of them are in various stages of paint; many complete, many primed or dabbed with color here and there, all stored in Plano tackle boxes. As I remembered, they’re mostly Ral Partha and Grenadier. In fact, I already own many of them already. But Owen’s miniatures also include many Reaper miniatures purchased in the early years of that company, as well as some impulse buys over time (as is any miniatures enthusiast’s wont). Owen told me he just doesn’t have the interest to paint them any more, and he would rather have the space than hold onto the lead. He knew I would give them a good home (and I have).
It broke my fucking heart.
This may surprise readers of this blog for several reasons. First, that I have a heart at all may come as a shock. Second, it may be surprising to some that I would be sad at the gift of so much lead. But both are true.
I offered to pay him for them. We have yet to discuss this in any meaningful way. This is because he’s not in a hurry to get paid, and also because I’m not in any hurry to pay him. In fact, I have been hoping very much that he would come to his senses and take them back. But that hasn’t happened.
I have a problem assigning value to any miniatures I have painted, as to me their value goes far beyond money. If I were to ever sell my miniatures (I can’t see how), I would likely overvalue them. Even though I may never again play the games they were designed for or use them for what was intended, the fact remains that I spent time, effort and money (obviously), on them; and I can’t easily part with them for those reasons.
I suspect many gamers feel the same way, although I know a significant number do not. (Our mutual friend, for example, had no problem painting and playing any number of Warhammer armies, only to sell them off at a significant loss whenever he got bored. He would then buy another army and repeat the process, only to eventually end up back where he started, with his original army that he needed to repurchase and repaint.)
Which is why, as I look at Owen’s miniatures, many of which he affixed to cardboard hexes that he lovingly cut out by hand (the better to fit on a combat map; unlike me, Owen actually USED his miniatures when he ran a game), I feel defeated. I want him to want his miniatures back. I want him to want to paint them again. I want him to be a miniatures nut like me, looking at painting tutorials online, geeking out over new releases, and planning and playing games. But it seems unlikely.
So, after a couple of years of ignoring his boxes, hoping he’ll ask for them back, I have decided to take a new strategy. I’m gonna start painting some of them. I don’t have the heart to strip his paint jobs and repaint any of his miniatures, but Owen was kind enough to supply me with some primed figures he never got around to. I’m hoping he will look at my work (on HIS miniatures) and get inspired.
Up next: the first two “Owen” miniatures, painted by yours truly.
I recently got a good deal on some Modiphius Klingons for the Star Trek Adventures game (they just weren’t selling at my FLGS, hence the discount). Having little self-control, I bought them.
Klingons have never been known for a vibrant fashion color palette, so painting these guys was more challenging and less fun than I thought it would be. Mostly dark greys and metallics; not exactly eye-catching. I decided to add some red here and there to give some contrast to an otherwise boring look.
The good news is that I like the poses on these, and I like the overall look of the warband. This female Klingon lieutenant is by far my favorite miniature of them all. I love the bat’leth over the shoulder pose, casually daring you to try your luck.
Continuing with the good news: the rest of the set looks pretty good, and the inclusion of a few female Klingons is certainly nice. There is a nice assortment of weaponry; bat’leths are prominent, and this lieutenant swinging a mek’leth is pretty cool. Almost all miniatures sport at least two weapons (in true Klingon style). Where does it rank up among my Trek miniatures? Well, it’s better by far than the TNG bridge crew, better than the Romulan warband, and not as good as the TOS crew (despite Scotty’s bizarre pose). Just my opinion, of course.
And now the not-so-good news…
In my previous reviews of the Modiphius Trek miniatures I have thus far painted, I stated that they’re made of shitty, brittle plastic and that they absolutely suck to put together, because they’re fiddly and unnecessarily complicated. This remains true. If I didn’t love Trek so much I’d never put up with this level of annoyance, especially at the prices they charge. Put simply: these miniatures could and should be designed better and made out of stronger material. And, despite their obvious digital sculpting, noticeable gaps remain at all the glue points after assembly, making green stuff a necessity.
Also, the 30mm “scenic base” is really just a deck plate, much like the bases in the Romulan set. I actually don’t mind this that much, but calling it “scenic” is kind of a stretch.
Get your shit together, Modiphius, especially since you have the balls to charge over $50 per set. (Not that I paid anywhere near that, because that’s just bullshit.) Thankfully, these scale well with Heroclix (which are a lot cheaper), so you can use them alongside less-expensive options for Trek gaming, should you desire.
A recent visit to the Modiphius website revealed they are conducting a survey on which miniatures gamers would like to see next. I cast my vote for some Cardassians (my favorite alien Trek species), along with the DS9 station crew and a Dominion/Jem’Hadar warband. Some TOS-era Klingons and Romulans would be nice, too; but I can make do with Heroclix until then.