Lately I have become fascinated with the many tales of The Baba Yaga. I’m not sure why. I have no Slavic or Russian heritage of which I am aware; and I’m not particularly into folklore. In fact, the first I ever heard of the Baba Yaga was in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, by Gary Gygax; in which her Dancing Hut appeared as an artifact of great power. For many years, this was all I knew of her. She was a witch. She had a hut. It walked around on chicken legs, and it was much bigger on the inside than on the outside.
The Baba Yaga featured prominently in the backstory of last month’s Character of the Month, Doval Lakatos, right around the time I became aware that Reaper miniatures makes a Baba Yaga’s Hut kit in the Bones Black line. It retails for $60.00, which is pretty fucking steep considering it does not include the Baba Yaga herself. (She’s a metal miniature sold separately.) I did not pay the 60 bucks; I paid a third of that on eBay from a guy who must have bought it, assembled it and then decided it was too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. I sympathize. It IS a pain in the ass, that’s for sure. I have some significant problems with this model.
First, it doesn’t stand up straight. When assembled the house leans so far forward you can’t see the front, and the chicken legs don’t sit level. I assumed this was because the guy I bought it from assembled it incorrectly, but that’s not the case. A quick look online shows that that’s how it’s supposed to look. Well, I wasn’t having that. I figured I would sculpt a base so the hut could stand up. Normally I use Magic Sculpt for that, but on a base this size, that’s a lot of Magic Sculpt, and it’s not cheap. I needed another solution.
This is Crayola Model Magic. It’s kind of like clay, but it’s spongy and a little weird. It comes in different colors (which doesn’t matter since I was going to paint over it anyway) and dries without baking. I picked up this package at the dollar store for a dollar (surprise) and smeared it all over a square base big enough to fit the hut, let it dry partially; then stood the hut into the stuff, creating these footprints. Then I let it dry fully. It cracked a little, so I filled the crack with some Magic Sculpt.
As you can see, it stands up just fine now, and it fits so snugly I don’t even need to glue it down. Being able to remove it allowed me easy access to work on the base, so that’s what I did; coating it with craft paint and sand, adding a Nolzur’s wood pile, a campfire from Johnny Borg and a stump sculpted from leftover Magic Sculpt.
With the base out of the way, I was free to concentrate on the hut. I’ve seen some pretty amazing paintjobs on this kit over on Instagram; one in particular by @lyresforhire is really cool with the light streaming out from the windows and cracks in the door. But I wanted the hut to look abandoned and run-down; the kind of place a hag would live.
I decided on a pretty straightforward brownish-gray to represent the weathering of the wood slats and shingles. I used mostly craft paint. I added a little green here and there to represent the damp mold and fungus that has taken root in the wood. I painted the glass panes a few shades of gray before giving them a final highlight of white.
The chicken legs were based in GW’s XV-88, then highlighted with some Tau Light Ochre before a final highlight of Golden Yellow. Believe it or not, I had a hard time deciding how to paint the legs. I found out way more than I ever thought I would about chicken legs while researching this. Turns out they come in all kinds of colors.
So, what are my other problems with the hut? Well, I’m not an expert on her by any means, but I have read a fair bit about the Baba Yaga and her hut; and this doesn’t look like Baba Yaga’s hut. This looks more like Baba Yaga’s dilapidated condo. In traditional folkore, Baba Yaga’s hut is circular, about 10-15 feet in diameter (on the outside), and has no windows or doors (unless she wants it to). This thing here has eleven windows, two doors, a side porch with an enclosed balcony, a cupola and front steps. That’s some hut!
Finally, the kit comes with a skeleton in a cage that I didn’t use. I gather it’s supposed to hang from the eave to the right (our view) of the door. The problem is the scale. The skeleton in the cage is so big that if he was standing up straight he’d be significantly taller than the front door of the hut. I opted not to use it, and I forgot to take a picture. You can see it online if you care to look for it.
What about the hag herself? The Baba Yaga miniature is ok. Baba Yaga is often described as an ogress, so the miniature seems a bit small to me. When she’s not in her hut, she flies around in a magical mortar she steers with a pestle. It might have been nice to have that instead of a skull-headed broom and a bundle of sticks.
Anyway, now you can see why I couldn’t very well tell Mark A. Morin that his sacrificial temple didn’t count as a monster when I planned on submitting a house on chicken legs myself!
Monster May(hem) has been HUGE this year and there are still 9 days left! Here is the blogroll:
- Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table
- Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop
- Azazel from Azazel’s Bitz Box
- Tom from The Good Ground
- Mark A. Morin from the appropriately-named Markamorin.com
- Matt from PM Painting
- Jeremy, the Carrion Crow;
- and newcomer Mike, aka @sasquatchminis from Instagram!
Matt from PM Painting continues to dominate the submission list. So far he’s done a ton of miniatures from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game: an Elder Thing, a Shoggoth, a Byakhee, some Ghouls and Deep Ones, a Star-Spawn of Cthulhu , some Hunting Horrors, a Cthonian, Yog-Sothoth itself, and some Fire Vampires! The man is unstoppable!
Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table did some Prehistoric Cats, then sculpted a horrible Creeping Eye from a 1958 horror film! If you want to see how to sculpt a monster from a ping-pong ball and Roger’s trademarked “support sausages”, check it out! Can’t wait to see it painted!
Carrion Crow has started his Wendigo miniature from ParagonStar, and he may just change my opinion of 3D printed models!
Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop sculpted a Krayt Dragon (seen on The Mandalorian) and a Joopa (from Star Wars: rebels) from scratch and painted them both. Guys like Roger and Dave who scratch-sculpt their own stuff really blow me away. Fantastic work!
Azazel painted a Coral Golem, an Umber Hulk, a Sand Kraken and a Harbinger (truly terrifying beasts from Shadows of Brimstone), and a Balor demon! Azazel’s painting is out of this world.
Tom from The Good Ground has jumped in this year and painted a Red Slaad and Siren Head, a cryptid I’d never heard of before! Tom’s just kicking his new blog off, so drop by if you haven’t done so already!
As stated before, Mark A. Morin painted this amazing Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar; and now he’s added another terrible monstrous Aztec structure: the High Throne! Mark’s hobby project focus is the stuff of legend; the dude never seems to get distracted by anything else. Check out his current Aztec project on his blog!
I’m hoping to get one more miniature done before the end, but it’s also a big one with a lot of base work. At least I found a use for the rest of the Model Magic!
Great kit, though I can see where it’s be a pain to work on. My primary exposure to Baba Yaga was Hellboy.
Thanks! I STILL haven’t seen that Harbour Hellboy, but I heard she was in it. Was it good?
Right. OK, then…
Nice “house?” matey, when I first saw it I thought you’d done the “Monster House” from the cartoon film of the same name, great weathering on the woodwork by the way, and the lady herself is a nice bit of painting too. definitely something a bit different!
Tell Mark he’s got to add chicken legs to his temple for it to qualify! (LOL)
Baba Yaga, get a lot of mentions in Antman and the Wasp too BTW.
Why do I not remember any Baba Yaga mentions in Ant-Man and the Wasp? I saw that movie! The house was actually super-easy to paint, considering 90% of the highlights were done by simple drybrushing. The texture of the house, especially the shingles, was made for it. I spent way more time on the base and on Baba Yaga than the house!
Mark’s a good sport, but I don’t think he’s gonna go for that…
Great work on both her house and the hag herself Keith, I think your solution with the base was genius, I can see what you mean about the house, it has a very American style to it, rather than Russian, but then the one in Hellboy does to, enjoyed the remake, but still love the originals. As for the hag’s appearance she was certainly creepy in it
What I’m really pleasantly surprised by is that I really don’t need to glue the feet to the base now. The impressions hold the model in place quite well. My only problem now is finding a place to put it! Thanks for the kind words, Dave!
This is quite impressive and now I get your allusion to watch what’s coming! Pretty cool and I like the base a lot too. I saw a video on YouTube about adding PVA to air drying clay like what you used and I am considering that – but my question for you about the Crayola stuff was whether you feel it will crack as is or not and how it took paint. Just curious. And I think that examples of Baba Yaga’s dilapidated condo can maybe be found in Fitchburg, Brockton, Springfield, or Lowell, you pick . (that’s a Massachusetts joke for the rest of the world and if you are from there my apologies just joshing). Anyways, thanks for the shout out and great work on this MAYhem!
Thanks, Mark! The Model Magic is kind of like air-dry clay but it’s noticeably spongy, and it stays that way to some degree even when it’s dry. It takes paint just fine. I painted it with surface primer and then went to town with craft paint. The cracking took place immediately after drying, so I just filled the cracks. I used more of it on my next submission, and it’s behaving much the same way.
Also, you need to add chicken legs to your Aztec temple and throne in order for them to count as submissions. Roger said.
Thanks for the feedback on the clay. As for buddy Roger, Yeah, I saw that, but that’s just practicing bias against the legless…maybe my buildings do have legs, just that they are so massive they are in the ground and unseen
Don’t be ridiculous Mark! everybody knows that under Aztec temples are massive alien spaceships, just waiting to be activated and take off back into space! either that or training grounds for Alien hunters to sharpen their skills fighting acid filled alien monsters!!
Giant legs indeed you must think we’ll believe any thing!!
Oh wow, you’ve done a great job on this, matey! The build and painting on the house is excellent, it looks really good — nice and weathered and run down. The base is also superb, and really elevates the whole thing. And the legs are realistic and don’t give a “WTF?” reaction.
Baba herself is a creepy looking hag and I love the way you’ve painted her, it really brings out the nastiness of her character. And thanks for answering the question, “Wait, Mark’s entered a building for this?” Great work all round!
Thanks, Matt. I never thought I’d spend hours of my life vacillating between chicken shank colors, but that’s what I did. Like I said, I’m a bit “meh” about the miniature herself, but I did what I could. The one thing I like about her is the plucked chicken (or perhaps duck) she has hanging from her waist.
Trying to get one more in. Like I said, the base is a real time-hog.
Someone should make “Time Hog” miniatures. (Take it away, Dave!)
Wow, that looks bloody awesome. A bunch of things I really like here – from the basing method – you may have solved my own biggest problem with the model there! – to the basing itself – really effective with the campfire and leaf litter.
The paint itself on the decrepit house with the different tones of brown, green and grey really came out amazingly well. I now know what I’m going to do with mine (if I ever paint it) – and that’s to rip yours off!
Steal away, my friend. I’m flattered! Your painting is really amazing, so that’s quite a compliment. If I had the sculpting skills of Roger or Dave I would have tried to make Baba Yaga’s mortar and pestle, but I knew I’d fuck it up or it would have my fingerprints all over it, so I didn’t bother. (I hate Green Stuff.)
I assume you guys can get Crayola Model Magic in England, but if not, I’m sure air-dry clay would work fine.
Thanks so much for taking part this year, Azazel; and for some truly inspiring submissions!