“For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men. Not women. Not beasts. This you can trust.”
Conan’s father was right, of course. Blades before bros, babes and beasts every time. Sadly, he was just another wise man who was torn apart by dogs. Such is life.
The year of pop culture continues! For my character of the month, painted for Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty over on Instagram, I decided to paint a barbarian. Not just any barbarian: THE barbarian. I present: Conan of Cimmmeria, born on a battlefield, destined to wear the jeweled crown of Aquilonia upon a troubled brow.
This is “The Cimmerian (FTF07)” (also labeled as “barbarian with sword”), a classic Ral Partha sculpt from 1984. I have probably had it since then, but I never got around to painting him until now. Wish I knew who sculpted it. My best guess would be Dennis Mize.
I could have just painted him bare-chested (as is the barbarian’s wont); but I was inspired by the body paint from Conan’s raid on Thulsa Doom’s temple, arguably the coolest part of the Conan the Barbarian film (a movie with a LOT of cool parts).
One of the best things about the movie is the amazing soundtrack; which I absolutely listened to while painting the miniature. It’s so great!
I made sure to add the blood splatter from Conan’s many kills; but I seem to have forgotten to add blood to his sword. Maybe he oiled it just before the slaughter.
Here, Conan explores a temple and discovers a strange inscription. What could it mean?
So, to recap: this miniature ticks a lot of boxes for me: he’s my character of the month, my entry for Tom’s IG challenge, he’s a pop culture miniature AND he’s old-school lead!
Continuing the year of Pop Culture, I figured I’d dip in the world of Fantasy Literature; a genre that grabbed me tightly as a kid and has never once let go.
Of all of Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion material (and there’s a shitload of it), the only tales I read were his Elric stories. I just reviewed the chronology, and it seems I’ve read most of the main sequence of tales up until the end; but I didn’t read much of Moorcock’s later Elric works that took place at uncertain points in the main timeline. I have a weird relationship with Elric of Melnibone. I read the stories at an age where I didn’t have the maturity to fully appreciate them. I recall loving almost everything about the character of Elric (albino sorcerer with a soul-sucking sword) but hating every story he was in. I found them incredibly boring. (I think I need to reread them, but I got rid of my old paperbacks a long time ago. I just found out they’re going for $75 bucks each on eBay. What the actual fuck?!)
Elric is by far the most famous of Moorcock’s characters; the original emo anti-hero. He was angst-ridden and emotionally tortured long before it was cool. He’s the disaffected prince of a dying race who sees the end coming and laments it. He’s a drug-dependent sorcerer who makes deals with demons because…why not? Eventually, he finds Stormbringer, a magical sword of great power that gives him vitality and formidable fighting skills and feeds upon the souls of its victims. Carrying a sword like that is never a good idea, and (spoiler alert) Stormbringer is ultimately responsible for the destruction of everything Elric cares about.
I’ve had this miniature for a long time. It was in one of the first orders I made when I got back into miniature painting around 12 years ago. Bronze Age had the John Carter stuff, so I added this figure to it and it’s sat there in the blister all this time. This is the “Elf Anti-Hero”. He (deliberately, I think) looks a bit like a certain albino Eternal Champion, so that’s who I painted him as.
As stated above, he’s also only one incarnation of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion archetype, which is so fucking confusing I’ll just reproduce what Wikipedia says about it here: (The Eternal Champion is…) an appointed paladin of Balance who is bound to exist in each and every world and age of the Multiverse, so that Law and Chaos are perpetually kept in check. There are about thirty different Eternal Champion characters, and I couldn’t give a shit about any of them. I get the feeling it’s probably somewhat incomprehensible, and although I would give Elric another go to see if my opinion has changed with maturity, I just don’t have the energy to really get into anything else. To be honest, looking at the sheer volume of characters and series, I’d have to be way more of a Moorcock fan than I am (which is to say not much) to even attempt it.
Still, the fact remains that Moorcock has influenced a lot of writers who have come after; and was a huge influence on the development of Dungeons & Dragons. In fact, the characters from Elric were originally included in the very first printing of Deities & Demigods, along with Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian entities, before Chaosium got the rights to both and put out their own games (Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu, respectively).
He’s definitely pop culture, that’s for certain.
I’m trying to publish a bit more regularly; so if you are a casual visitor to Dead Dick’s Tavern, don’t be surprised to find more than one post waiting for you on your next visit. I make no promises about how long that will last; but for now I have a few things in the pipeline to get to. Up next is likely a return to the Enterprise-D, for what I hope will be the last prose post before I actually start the gaming part…
A brief interlude from Star Trek for my Character of the Month, and to show off my mad organization skillz, brah!
For Tom’s #paintanadventuringparty challenge over on Instagram, I present my Character of the Month from Ral Partha: The Cloaked Assassin, by sculpted by Bob Charrette, from their Fantasy Adventurers range (03-058).
I’ve had this fellow for thirty years or so; another occupant of my pile of shame that I never got around to painting. He was, however, primed white, so I must have at least intended to paint him at some point. I primed him black over the white before I painted him this time, however.
I’ve never been a big fan of putting assassins in adventuring parties. In my mind, assassins should be either adversaries to the PCs or something else entirely, not a character class. Why would an assassin go on an adventure? They have a pretty limited skill set: they know how to kill people. Wouldn’t it make more sense for them to stick to what they’re good at? Garroting someone in an alley seems far safer than kicking down a door in a necromancer’s crypt and fighting his undead minions, doesn’t it?
So, let’s call this guy a thief instead. Or rogue, if you prefer the current nomenclature of D&D 5E.
This was my painting desk up until a couple of months ago. Although you can’t really see them, most of my paints sat on a pair of old spice racks. These cheap plastic racks were not designed for paint (duh), and I often had the annoying chore of picking up paints from the floor, where they had fallen between my desk and the wall after being knocked over or jostled from their precarious perches on the too-narrow racks.
Something needed to be done, so a new rack was constructed from XPS foam. This one measured the entire length of my desk and was designed to fit flush along the wall. The shelves were intentionally made wide enough to accommodate multiple rows of bottles of all different types, from dropper bottles to pop-tops to even the dreaded (and hated) old-style Citadel twist-off paint pots.
Here’s what it looks like now. Although I would have been content to just slap together some pink foam and use it as-is, my better half flatly refused to even consider such a stupid idea and wouldn’t allow it. She painted and wrapped the whole thing in adhesive shelf paper, so now my paint rack looks like it’s made of solid marble.
I love it. No more falling paint pots. Room for all may paints and then some (which just means I will fill the space eventually). Naturally I took photos because I know it will not look like this for long. So far I’ve managed to keep it tidy.
But wait, there’s more! I decided to take this opportunity to organize my gaming closet, too. So, here it is!
Thirty-plus years of roleplaying games on the left side.
Board games and RPG boxed sets in the middle.
More board games, miniatures games and terrain (including a Mighty Fortress!), and collectible card games on the right (last played circa 2004 or so).
Last but not least: the pile of shame; or as I like to call it: the Insanity Pile. Old miniatures, new miniatures, abandoned projects, projects I know I will never get to but won’t say are abandoned, projects I intend to get to one day, and projects I will actually work on. The plastic cases at the bottom hold Owen’s miniatures; the white boxes on the second shelf are mostly Heroclix, and all the shit you can’t see behind what you see here is mostly bitz on sprues and unopened armies and units for 40K and WFB. On the Naya rack is unpainted Plasticville scenery and most of the High Elf Army I’ll never get to. And of course, on the top are all my old-school miniatures, some painted, some not. The plain cardboard boxes hold various projects, including what I have left from last year’s order from Wargames Terrain Workshop!
Gotta say, I like this organization thing a lot. This stuff was all over my basement, and I got tired of hearing about it. I took these pictures to remind me what it’s like to be responsible and put away my toys.
They also make it clear that I really need to get rid of stuff.
For Fembruary, and also for my Character of the Month, I chose to paint a Sandra Garrity classic from Ral Partha: Arianna Moonshadow, Enchantress.
I decided to paint her as a druid instead, She’s got a belt made out of animal teeth, so why not?
I have had this miniature since she was released (sometime in the early 90’s would be my guess). She been unpainted all this time, so I’m making good on my plan to use Tom’s challenge as an excuse to paint some old-school miniatures. Plus, I love me some Sandra Garrity!
It’s been a hellish month at work and I’ve just kicked off a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign; so I haven’t had much time to do very much hobby-wise. But expect a flurry of posts soon as I endeavor to catch up!
I’m getting a slow start on 2022, mainly because my painting desk is in complete disarray as I look for a better way to organize the paint racks of doom. Still, I’ve managed to paint a couple of miniatures this year so far, one of which is my Character of the Month for Tom’s (@the_goodground) painting challenge over on Instagram. If you recall, Tom came up with the completely original idea of painting one miniature each month of an official Dungeons & Dragons character class from the 5E Player’s Handbook. Well, who am I to turn down that kind of challenge? It’s pure genius!
Of course, anyone taking part might be tempted to write a complete backstory for the miniatures they paint in a challenge like this, but not me. I’m content with simply painting my miniature and showing it off, thank you very much. Who has time for back stories? That way lies madness.
I decided Tom’s unique painting challenge is a good excuse to paint up some old, classic lead; something I have long chastised myself that I do not do enough of. So, I’m starting things off with a classic Ral Partha miniature from their AD&D Dragonlance line: 11-073, Lord Gunthar uth Wistan, Knight of the Rose and Grandmaster of the Knights of Solamnia. (Sadly, I don’t know who sculpted this miniature.) Both of those honorifics are simply fancy titles for what Lord Gunthar is, at heart: a human fighter.
That’s Lord Gunthar on top of the dragon, there; in pretty much the only picture I’ve ever seen of him. This was from the 1985 Dragonlance calendar and was painted by the great Larry Elmore. Lord Gunthar is a guy in plate armor with a huge mustache. He isn’t described much differently in the books, and he isn’t a primary character. (On a side note, although I love Larry Elmore as much as any kid who grew up in the 1980’s playing Dungeons & Dragons does; I’m not wild about the dragon in this picture. I think he looks kind of insectoid.)
Anyway, the picture doesn’t really help much, since most of Lord Gunthar’s body and his rear are not depicted. The miniature doesn’t include the dragon, either; so he’s far less impressive than he is in the painting; and it’s not exactly faithful to the image (although it’s close). So, I had to wing it a bit.
Here he is: The Grand Master of the Knights of Solamnia: Lord Gunthar uth Wistan, who should be about a 15th level fighter or so. If you want to read his backstory (but why would you?), you can read the original Dragonlance Chronicles. Or, skip that and find the abbreviated version here.
The miniature is fine, I guess; but the Knights of Solamnia are renowned for having highly stylized and ornamental armor. Lord Gunthar’s armor is kind of plain. Even his scabbard is unadorned. Not really living up to the whole Grand Master of Knights look.
I think I will enjoy this challenge a lot this year. I had fun painting this classic miniature and I’m looking forward to doing more.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.