Tag Archives: Old School Miniatures

#oldorcs finis

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.

Now, back to the bloodsucker…

Fee Fie Fo Fum!

I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread!

Not surprising, really, since I know of at least three Englishmen who frequent Dead Dick’s Tavern. Only too likely one of them would leave their spoor behind. Of course, I would never grind their bones to make bread. That’s just silly.

This is the classic Marauder/Citadel Giant, and he is my “Big ‘Un” for Monster May(hem) this year. This guy came out circa 1989 or so; and for decades he was “the” Warhammer giant; there wasn’t another until well after this one ceased production. I’m pretty sure he was sculpted by one or both of the Perry brothers, but I could be wrong. (Edit: I was wrong. A simple Google search turned up it was sculpted by Aly Morrison. Thanks to Matt and shame on me.) Whoever sculpted him did a great job. (It was Aly Morrison.) I’ve always loved this model. As an Orc and Goblin player back in the day, I always wanted one, but could never lay hands on it.

Then, a few years ago, I bought a miniatures lot off a guy on Craiglist who was getting out of the hobby (which was a pretty aggravating experience, but eventually turned out ok). This giant was in there, assembled and primed white (which I HATE). Back in 2018, when I first decided May was Monster Month (remember when it was called that?) , I put this guy on my desk to paint him. I decided to do my Orc Warlord on Wyvern instead, and there the giant sat until now. Every once in a while, when I squeezed out too much paint, I would dab some on him somewhere. He looked a mess, and I made no progress, always telling myself I’d get him done eventually.

Well, he’s done. Mostly.

About halfway through painting him this month, I noticed he’s incomplete. He’s missing two pieces: a keg which he has slung around his hip (where the rope meets in thie picture above), and a sword that attaches to his other hip. The guy included a huge bag o’bitz in the Craigslist purchase. Guess which two bitz were not there?

I guess it doesn’t look terrible without the keg. And who needs a sword when you can rip a tree out of the ground and swat someone with it? Anyway, I did what I could with him, and I’m pretty happy with the result. I’m most happy that he’s DONE, and I can remove him from my painting desk forthwith.

I know I just said it a few paragraphs ago, but I’ll say it again. I love this model. No computer sculpting or 3D printing here, and no resin or plastic to be found. This model is all metal, and reminds me of a time when transporting your army doubled as a biceps workout. Bring back those days…

Here’s a scale comparison to a Reaper Hill Giant (also all metal, though they make him in Bones now), and an Empire Greatsword. I know the current GW giant is even bigger, but I think this guy is just right.

And that brings Monster May(hem) to a close…or does it? It is currently 7:30 a.m. at Dead Dick’s Tavern. That means there’s still 16 hours or so left in May…and I have two unpainted monsters still sitting on my desk. Can I get one painted before midnight?

Be sure to check out all the other participants. Since last post, Matt painted yet another monster: the cloak fiend, and Dave sculpted and painted a Bantha for some Star Wars gaming! Plus, I forgot to mention Harry painted some unicorns and treekin over on his site, along with his High Elf dragon!

Next month is Forgotten Heroes over at Carrion Crow’s Buffet, and I can’t wait. But for now, there’s still time to paint some monsters!

Blogroll

Roger, aka Dick Garrison, from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table

Dave Stone from Wargames Terrain Workshop

Matt from PMPainting

Coyotepunc from Coyotepunc’s Creativity

Ken from Blue Moose Arts

Jeremy, aka Carrion Crow, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet

Harry from War Across the Ages

You can find links to all these blogs (and others) in the sidebar as well!

Classic Dragon Lords Dwarfs

In keeping with my 2019 Resolutions, I recently painted more old school miniatures! This time, it’s a classic Grenadier Dragon Lords boxed set: Dwarves of the Gold Mountain.

As anyone even casually familiar with me or this blog knows, I have a disturbing obsession with all things dwarfish. These stocky fellows were sculpted by Nick Lund, venerable artisan and famed sculptor of Dwarvenkind. Mr. Lund is my second favorite sculpteur des nains (Bob Olley is number one, IMO), so I was happy to finally paint up this set.

These fellows have uninspired names, i.e. “dwarf with spear, dwarf with warhammer”, etc. Unfortunately for me, my “dwarf with mace” is an annoying miscast, so without him, this is only a 9 dwarf set. Bummer.

These Dragon Lords sets came out during the later Grenadier heyday, so they’re not quite as old as the “Gold Line” boxes I love so much. I think one of those is next in my “old-school” painting queue. I just need to decide which one…

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Purchased: 53

Miniatures Painted: 109

Total: +56

A Little Something on the Side…

Or perhaps, “Some Side Action”.  Either “double entendre” title would work.

For my last post of 2018, I thought I’d share what I did in December, which is clean up “the side pile”: that group of partially-painted/assembled  miniatures that collects in the corner of my workspace over time; things I plan on getting to, but for whatever reason shunt them aside in favor of other projects. These sad miniatures collect dust and stare at me in silent accusation, wondering why they are neglected. Not having any other project slated for December, I decided to devote my entire month’s efforts to these orphaned miniatures.

A couple of these miniatures were supposed to be painted for my failed AD&D campaign, which ended back in 2012. Some of them have languished in the side pile for longer than that!

First, an old-school fantasy ogre, made by RAFM. I’ve had this guy for decades. RAFM still makes a variation of this miniature, but this particular guy is out-of-production. He was originally supposed to return as a member of the Cudgel Gang, that group of highwaymen that plagued my gaming group throughout the campaign. Length of time in side pile: 8+ years.

Another miniature intended for the AD&D campaign, this is Finari, from Reaper. This is the metal version; she’s since been reissued as a Bones miniature. Length of time in side pile: 10 years or so. Yes, 10 years. Easily.

Next is Kjell Bloodbear, another metal Reaper miniature. I really had no idea how I was going to paint him, and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the end result. It was a long time coming, but he’s finally done. Length of time in the side pile: 7 years or so.

This is Duke Gerard, yet another Reaper miniature, this time a Bones version I got from a guy who bought into the Kickstarter. Apparently, he has a weird back banner-thingy that I didn’t get, which is ok, as I like him better without it.  Length of time in side pile: 4+ years.

This is Herryk Aesir, a dwarf that has a back banner-thingy I actually like. He’s another metal Reaper miniature (they make a Bones version, too). He’s been in the side pile the least amount of time; I intended to paint him for Dwarvember two years ago, but didn’t get around to it. Length in side pile: 2+years.

These snipers are from Demonblade Games for their Shockforce post-apocalyptic skirmish game. I didn’t play the game, but I liked the snipers. They’ve been primed and ready for a long time. Length of time in side pile: 7+ years.

Last but not least, some Reaper Toolbots, from their Chronoscope line. I don’t remember why I bought these guys. I think I wanted to use them for some Retro sci-fi gaming I never really pursued. They’ve been primed and based with a gunmetal silver for years. Once I decided to change them to this yellow color, I painted them in no time at all. I just couldn’t get motivated to paint them until I made that switch…strange how our minds work. Length of time in side pile: 6+ years.

That’s closes out the year. I thought I’d have one more side pile miniature done before the ball drops, but it’s not happening. As it is, I cleared out a fair bit of space and put paint on some figures that have been waiting far too long for it, so all’s well that ends well.

Bring on 2019!

Weird Villains and Pulp Doctors

Movember continues with more pulp-themed miniatures. This time around, my last remaining Pulp Figures: some Weird Villains!

From L-R, as Bob Murch has named them: The Crimson Scorpion, Stahl Mask, Dr. Price, The Creeping Claw and Mr. X! Also, a random Nazi officer that Bob Murch included with my last order, for no other reason than he seems to be a swell guy. (I mean Bob, not the Nazi. To be clear: there isn’t a fucking Nazi in the world who I would consider to be a “swell guy”.)

You can barely see Dr. Price’s “John Waters” mustache; but fear not, I have painted a miniature with epic facial hair in honor of Movember! Stahl-Mask’s walrus mustache is legendary; it’s a shame you can’t see it under his, well, his stahl-mask. Stahl-Mask is one of only a few Pulp Figures with more than one sculpt (Dr. Koo is another). I’m pretty sure this is Bob’s original version of the dastardly German, but I could be wrong.

You may notice my Creeping Claw has a hook for a hand. This is my own addition. My miniature was missing his right hand, so I used the hook from the Heroclix Aquaman I cannibalized earlier this year to make my Aquarian submission for Forgotten Heroes (I never throw anything away). I like the way it looks; very pulp villain-ish. And now he has an actual claw!

Up next: some pulp doctors! These three are from RAFM‘s old Call of Cthulhu line, and I’m pretty sure they’re also sculpted by Bob Murch! (Small world, eh?) These guys were a lot of fun to paint. I’m glad I decided to bang out all my pulp models this month, otherwise these fellows were likely to remain pretty low on my priority list. I really like the guy in the middle, as he could easily work for an Old West sawbones just as well as a pulp-era physician.

This is a “before” shot of the surgeon, as in “before he applied serrated blade to his grisly work.” (Actually, I just like how this picture came out, so I figured I’d include it.) For the blood, I used Citadel’s Blood for the Blood God technical paint, which is awesome (IMHO).

Lastly, another “doctor” of sorts; this one a professor of Archaeology! Another RAFM miniature, this is “Drake Harrington”, from their new Call of Cthulhu line. His resemblance to a certain whip-wielding archaeologist isn’t accidental, I’m sure (even though there’s no whip to be seen). I like the miniature, but I would have liked some variety in his hand choices. I’m not wild about the lantern, mainly because I can’t paint object source lighting effects very well.

I added this rope to the model because I think it looks cool. Then I mounted him on a scenic base, which unfortunately contains a human skull with dimensions noticeably bigger than Drake Harrington’s own head. Oh well.

Next post: some real dummies!

 

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 62

Miniatures Purchased: 13

Total: +49

Zombtober Week 4: Repaints and a Classic!

Zombtober comes to an end, and I present my final submission: a group of repaints and a classic Ral Partha miniature!

First up are the repaints: two Horrorclix zombies and two Indy Heroclix miniatures, repainted and rebased for use in the apocalypse. From L-R, a Horrorclix Zombie Patient, a Cheerleader Zombie, an Indy Clix Abbey Chase, and an Indy Clix Tiger Lily.

I like the patient zombie a lot, but the cheerleader is kind of silly. She’s using fistfuls of guts for pom-poms. I am not familiar with Tiger Lily or Abbey Chase, so I had no misgivings about repainting them completely for use as modern survivors. The Abbey Chase miniature could also work for a pulp heroine. Tiger Lily looks like Peter Criss without the armor. Repainting her face was easy, but what was kind of annoying was her T-Shirt. It has some design on it that I couldn’t make out, so I just painted the broken heart over it and I think it looks ok.

But Zombtober isn’t about REPAINTING zombies; it’s about painting zombies. Thus I present some old-school love: a classic Ral Partha zombie I’ve had since the mid 1980’s. He has never seen paint until now, so if nothing else, Zombtober has enabled me to get some long-overdue painting done!

 

Here’s the blogroll  of all the participants in Zombtober 2018!

Brummie, our Zombtober Host!- Brummie’s Wargaming Blog
Pulp Citizen- Eclectic Gentleman Tabletop Gamer
Rob Bresnen- Four Colour Super Minis
Kieron-Cheaphammer!!!
Terry Silverthorn- Miniature Mayhem
Ivor Evan- Saturday Mornings
Bryan Scott aka Vampifan- Vampifan’s World of the Undead
Colgar6- Colgar6 and the Infinite Legion of Toy Soldiers
Clint- Anything But a One!
Phil Curran- Dizbusters Gaming Ephemera
Dai- The Lost and the Damned and the Stunted
The Wargames Addict- The Wargame Addict
Dick Garrison- Rantings from Under the Wargames table
myincubliss –Dead Lead Project

 

Insanity Pile Progress

 Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 43

Miniatures Purchased: 13

Total: +30

I did a bad, bad thing…

I need to stay off eBay.

I’m supposed to NOT buy any more miniatures. I’m supposed to work on the miniatures I already have. And I was, really. I was doing so well…

And then, last month, I bought the Knight Models Thing. I mean, you can’t blame me. It’s an awesome miniature and I got a great deal on him. I painted him right away. It’s not like he was languishing long in the insanity pile.  And I WILL use him in a game soon.

I thought it was a momentary lapse. But then, I saw this. And I bought it.

This is a Grenadier boxed set, circa 1994, that contains a full-blown game and “Future Warriors” miniatures sculpted by Nick Lund. It’s basically cops vs. gangers in the future, very Judge Dredd-ish.

I thought I was pretty familiar with all things Grenadier, but this one caught me by surprise. I’m a big fan of Grenadier and of Nick Lund, but I never saw this before. I never knew it existed. I’m not sure if this came out over here in the States or if it was only a European release.

It’s pretty much mint. The miniatures have never seen paint. In addition to them, it includes the rules, reference card, tokens and even dice. It even has a mail-in card for a subscription to the Grenadier Bulletin, as well as two copies of the  Bulletin, which seems to contain miniature previews, painting tips and scenarios for the Fantasy and Future Warriors lines. Cool!!

I feel guilty.

Oh, well.

Monster Month Holdouts: Displacer Beasts and Classic Balrog

There’s always a someone who’s late for the train. My orc warlord on wyvern took a bit longer than I anticipated, so these miniatures weren’t done in time to make it into Monster Month.

First up, some iconic AD&D monsters: Displacer Beasts!

(Every time I speak the name of this monster out loud, I say it as Sylvester the Cat would. It makes it much more fun. Don’t believe me? Give it a try.)

 

A Displacer Beast resembles a six-legged, emaciated puma with two toothy tentacles sprouting from its back. They are stealthy carnivores that often hunt in pairs, which is why I bought two. Displacer Beasts are surrounded by a light-bending camouflage effect, which makes it difficult to determine the monster’s exact location at any given time (like when you’re about to get eaten).  These Displacer Beasts are from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, and although they’re technically the same miniature, it’s easy to get some variation in the tentacles and tail simply by doing the old “hot water bath/reposition/cold water bath” method. (I’m not sure what’s up with the lighting in these pictures, but the focus is a tad blurry. Same thing happened last time. I need to investigate this further.)

In the video game Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, you get attacked by a ton of Displacer Beasts in an ice cave. I guess that’s why I based these on snowy bases. I used Citadel’s Mourn Mountain Snow, a texture paint kind of like Stirland Mud. I like Stirland Mud a lot, because it looks like mud. Unfortunately, Mourn Mountain Snow doesn’t look like snow, it looks like white mud; so I also added some snowy flock and tundra tufts to the bases.

The other latecomer is a classic Grenadier Balrog. This miniature came out in the late 1970’s. I once painted him with the dreaded Testor’s gloss enamel, but I stripped the miniature years ago to repaint him. I finally did! There have been several variations of this figure over the years; one has a wavy sword rather than the flaming sword mine has. I think this miniature holds up quite well, considering its age.

It does seem a bit small for a Balrog, as you can see from the picture above.  If you say the word “Balrog” most fantasy fans have an image in their heads that roughly corresponds to this one, i.e. the Balrog of Moria, “Durin’s Bane”. But Tolkien is often vague, even contradictory at times when describing what a Balrog actually looks like. At times he describes them as gigantic; other times he says they are twice the size of a man. Whether they have actual wings or not is apparently up for debate among Tolkien-philes. Whatever the case, looking at the mniature now, it’s a bit too red. I probably should have painted either his body or wings black for some variation. The hair on the Balrog’s body was drybrushed with a Vallejo Cavalry Brown, but it looks close enough to red so that the effect is somewhat lost.

It looks a hell of a lot better than it did when coated in Testor’s gloss enamel, and it can certainly do a fair job of representing a greater demon, nonetheless. I made the lava base out of pieces of irregular craft foam scraps I had from my Gaslands projects a few months back. I’m somewhat ambivalent about how it came out and I’ve since found a much better method for making lava bases that I’m keen to try soon.

That’s REALLY it for Monster Month. Up next: a return to Forgotten Heroes!

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 10

Miniatures Purchased: 0

Total: +10

 

Varg Bonebreaka: Orc Warlord on War Wyvern

To finish off Monster Month, I present a  monster miniature that is finally seeing paint after almost THIRTY YEARS in my “to-do pile”!

It’s an old Warhammer Orc Shaman on War Wyvern, circa 1990 or thereabouts. I got him on the secondary market sometime in the mid-nineties. Originally, he was to be for use with my Warhammer Fantasy Orc & Goblin Army, but I wanted to use the wyvern as a mount for an army general, Varg Bonebreaka,  rather than a shaman (more on this later). Before I could do more than buy the bitz and start the conversion, though, several things happened.

  1. Mounting characters on monsters fell out of favor, if not with the entire WFB community, then certainly with my WFB gaming group. The focus of WFB became more about troops than super, unit-killing characters. A positive change, I would say.
  2. I stopped playing “special characters” in my army, for the same reason as above.
  3. I got distracted by something else. I don’t know what. It could have been a bright spot of reflected light shining onto the wall, for all I know. More likely it was my 40K Mordian Iron Guard.

Eventually, around 2003 or thereabouts, I ceased playing Warhammer and Warhammer 40K altogether. This miniature, along with all my others, languished in storage until around 2010 or so, when I started painting miniatures again.

The mounted shaman miniature is perfectly acceptable, in a “I’m holding two weapons parallel to my body within my frontal plane” kind of way (typical of GW of the time). He just wasn’t all that exciting. For my general, Varg,  I decided to use the original Morglum Necksnapper model as the base of the conversion.  You can see in the picture below how the original model looked way back when. I intended to mount the shaman on Morglum’s boar, since he wouldn’t be using it. I still haven’t got around to that yet, either.

I purchased all the bitz I needed for the conversion from a GW rep who came by my FLGS in the “Bitz Wagon”. I bought a dwarf casualty for the base, as my Orcs & Goblins often faced off against my friend’s Dwarfs. (Yes, I wanted to irritate him.) I got rid of Morglum’s axes, as I hated how they looked, and replaced one with a double-edged Chaos axe. I decided I was going to give him a long spear in his other hand, as he would be pretty high up on that wyvern and wouldn’t be able to reach his opponents with anything else. For that, I used a lance from an old Skeleton Horsemen box. Finally, I ditched Morglum’s banner poles and replaced them with the back banner from an old Skaven model, Queek Head-Taker.

Then I let him sit there in the Insanity Pile, untouched, for almost 30 years. When Monster Month rolled around, he wasn’t hard to find.

Here are the results. Because of the large amount of conversion on the orc, I needed to paint them separately prior to assembly. This is actually the first time I mounted a model on something to handle it while painting (I usually just hold it between my fingers). The wooden “plant pot” was intended to provide some stability, but it didn’t do much as the model kept falling over whenever I accidentally hit it (which was often). After the third time fixing the spear, I got wise and glued it to this coffee can lid for added stability.

I don’t go in for the double banners on the wyvern’s back, because I think it looks stupid. Also, I suck at making banners. I opted to add some severed heads from an old GW zombie sprue instead.

I couldn’t find the “back end” of the lance pole. It disappeared some time in the last 25+ years or so. Instead I used a piece of plastic rod. I thought it looked kind of boring, so I added this scythe blade from a GW zombie sprue to the end, turning it into a nasty, unique-looking pole-arm.

I drilled a couple of holes in the wyvern’s flank and added some arrows. Monsters, and the generals on them, tend to attract missile fire.

My friend’s Dwarfs, IIRC, were painted in a green color scheme. I decided to paint this dwarf blue to make him really stand out against the grass and under the wyvern’s claw. The broken barrel is from an Army Painter basing kit.

At last, some final pictures of the complete wyvern with the rider. I give you Varg Bonebreaka, a name inscribed forever in the Book of Grudges many times over! WAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!

Makes me wish I still played Warhammer.

This model took me longer than I thought to complete, so I’m glad I started when I did. Unfortunately, I still have a few monsters that aren’t quite finished, and the end of Monster Month is nigh! Oh well. Perhaps I will finish them up soon, and post them as an intermission during next month’s Forgotten Heroes challenge!

 

Insanity Pile Progress

Miniatures Painted Thus Far: 8

Miniatures Purchased: 0

Total: +8

“Yesterday’s Lead”

It seems I took the month of January off from blogging, quite accidentally. For Christmas I was gifted with Mass Effect: Andromeda for PS4. It was released back in March of last year, but I’m not the kind of (video) gamer that needs to get a game as soon as it’s released. Thus I tend to spend less money on video games overall, as I can wait until the price drops. I am a huge fan of the Mass Effect series, and although this latest game was (unfairly, IMO) derided,  at least in comparison to the previous trilogy, it has accounted for my free time throughout January.

Anyway, it’s nice to be back.

I rarely pick up Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine these days. Although it’s a fine publication, it’s not for me, as it is primarily geared towards the historical wargamer, and even casual visitors to this site will know I don’t fall into that category. The other day I found myself at my newsagent (see what I did there? I used a British term) by complete happenstance ( I was purchasing coffee and donuts for a work meeting at the Dunkin’ Donuts next door), and, since the latest issue of Miniature Wargames magazine hadn’t arrived yet, I gave in to whimsy and purchased WS&S #92. As expected, it had little to interest me as far as gaming goes. I am unfamiliar with most of the historical periods and battles covered throughout the issue. But what issue #92 did have was a worthy article by the great Rick Priestly, entitled “Time, Tide and Yesterday’s Lead.”

You might think Mr. Priestly waxes nostalgic for the early days of Citadel and Warhammer miniatures, but he quickly sets the record straight. Despite his involvement in Warhammer’s development, his particular enthusiasm is the Minifigs line of the 70’s, as those are what led him down the garden path to wargaming.

I must confess that since I live in the United States and I was born a good decade or so after Mr. Priestly, I am unfamiliar with Minifigs. Like so many others, I started gaming through Dungeons & Dragons, circa 1983 or so. I’m pretty sure I got the red box for my 10th birthday and it took me a year or two to start running “The Keep on the Borderlands.” I never played a miniature wargame until I was in college in the early 90’s. Predictably, my first introduction came through Warhammer 40K, then quickly moved to WFB. But I had already been collecting and painting miniatures before then. Despite all my failed attempts to introduce them into my roleplaying games, I found them really cool (an obviously still do). I certainly share nostalgic feelings for the miniatures that got me started down my own path, some 35 years ago. And those miniatures, primarily, are Grenadier and Ral Partha fantasy figures.

The first set of miniatures I ever bought was the often-reissued Grenadier Tomb of Spells set. It’s the second one down in the left column. Starting from the top left and continuing clockwise, we have Specialists, Hobgoblins, a Dragon Lords set that once included paints, Thieves, Denizens of the Swamp, Orc’s Lair, and Wizards. The Wizards set was the second set of miniatures I ever bought, and I repainted the set a couple of years ago. You can see the results here, if so inclined.

With the arrival of AD&D 2nd Edition, TSR started packaging miniatures under their own name. The above sets are examples of this era. I bought the Marvel Super Heroes and Dragonlance sets when they came out, and a friend gave me the Magic-Users set long ago. The remaining sets were all recent eBay acquisitions.

I probably paid too much for the Indiana Jones set (it’s rare). I paid less than I thought I would for the Star Frontiers and other AD&D sets, but again, probably more than I should have considering the quality. I’ve said this elsewhere: this era of miniature manufacture leaves a lot to be desired. The sculpting is pretty sub-par across the board. Scale is pretty much an afterthought, even between models within the same set (Star Frontiers is by far the WORST for this). I have been painting some of the Marvel miniatures for use in my supers gaming alongside Heroclix models, which should give you a idea of how random the scale is. Some are compatible with Clix models while some are on the small side of 25mm. To top it off, I have no idea what metal was used to cast this line of miniatures, but for some reason, they do not take paint well. Prior to sealing them, even casual handling can cause the paint to rub off, which is kind of a pain during the painting process.

The last of my old sets are above. The Grenadier Secret Agents set is really good, containing lots of mercs and soldiers for use with Top Secret or any other skirmish wargame. Grenadier released two sets of these. I know I had both at one time, but I can’t remember what happened to the other set. (As an aside, the box art above was painted by famous Grimjack artist Flint Henry!) Below them is an exceptional set of ninja by Ral Partha. I recently bought a second set, because as everyone knows, you can never have enough ninja. The bottom row contains dragon models; a Ral Partha T’Char (one of the best dragons produced, IMO) and a couple of Julie Guthrie Grenadier Dragons. I painted up her Red Dragon a while back. You can see it here.

Nostalgia, as Mr. Priestly aptly observes, exerts a powerful force that drives one from affection for times gone by to collector’s obsession. All of the above boxed sets were purchased either on eBay or at a flea market over the last couple of years. With the exception of the Skeleton King’s chariot (top right), all these sets are complete and pristine. (I even managed to replace the 54mm Batman set with one that included a Joker this time.) The DC Heroes sets were a real find at $10 apiece, all bare metal! I painted up the 54mm Batman a few years ago, and recently painted the Grenadier Halfling set above. Batman is here; the Halflings are here.

Which brings me to painting, or rather, repainting. In his article, Mr. Priestly mentions that most Minifigs of the time were likely “favored with a hefty coat of Humbrol Enamel…and then gloss varnished to within an inch of their little metal lives.” Again, I can relate. Here in the States, Testors enamels were the model paints of choice, and I laquered many a miniature in them before “discovering” acrylics right around the time I started playing 40K. Prior to that, every miniature I painted, including many from the sets above, were done with Testors enamels and gloss coat. I shudder to look at them now, but if you’d like to see some before and after shots, look no further than here.

The question then becomes “To strip and repaint, or not to strip and repaint? I am a big advocate of repainting. I’m not the best painter in the world (not even close), but I am exponentially better than I was 35 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the old miniatures I have repainted recently, and I think they are the better for it. But, if even if I were to strip and repaint one miniature every day for the rest of my life, I would likely never finish what I already own, never mind any future tempting purchases. A somewhat sobering and morbid thought, but true nonetheless.

What do you think? Do you get dewey-eyed for a certain manufacturer or era of miniatures? Do you advocate repainting, or are you content with (and perhaps comforted by) viewing your early efforts for what they are?