Tag Archives: Ral Partha

Owen’s Miniatures: Part 1

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.

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

“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?

 

Dwarvember Week Three

We’re past the halfway mark for Dwarvember, and this week has some of the best submissions yet. Let’s dive right in with this awesome dwarf piper conversion by TMP’s Balin Shortstuff!

image

I’ve said previously that being a dwarf and a piper pretty much make a miniature the best thing it can be, and I stand by it. (Click that link to see my pre-Dwarvember Bob Olley dwarf piper, if so inclined). Balin couldn’t recall the manufacturer of this figure, but I wish we could get a shot of what it looked like before the conversion. Well done!

Returning again is TMP’s 144artist, with two Mantic Warsmiths:

FullSizeRender-001FullSizeRender (1)FullSizeRender (3)FullSizeRender (4)

My favorite is the blond warsmith on the bottom. Great base work too! Although I painted up some Mantic dwarfs from Kings of War a while back, I have yet to play any of their games. Love the look of the figures though. Thanks again, 144artist!

Black Cavalier returns for Week 3 with two more dwarfs. First up, a Chaos Dwarf mortar crewman. Love the fangs on the old Citadel Chaos Dwarfs.

citadel chaos dwarf mortar crew

And another Reaper dwarf: Freja Fangbreaker. Personally, I don’t have many female dwarf miniatures painted, which is something I will try to remedy soon.

reaper Freja Fangbreaker Werner Klocke

TMP’s punkrabbit returns joins us this week with some GW Battle for Skull Pass Thunderers he’s using in a Frostgrave warband. Any chance you’ll save the wizard for WizarDecember, punkrabbit? It’s just around the corner!

EvilDwarfs-1a

You can check out punkrabbit returns’s blog in the sidebar under Tumbahelada De Punkrabbit, where among other things he discusses his decision to jump into Dwarvember this week. Thanks for the submission!

TMP’s CBPill once again joins us with an Egyptian-themed dwarf, Big Bukka Bloved of Bes, a dwarven bard.

Big Bukka Bloved of Bes DWVMBR

There aren’t many dwarf bard miniatures out there, and I’m betting this is the only Egyptian dwarf bard figure in existence. So thanks for sharing, CBPill! Remember to check out his Duelling Scrolls blog in the sidebar for more pics!

My submissions for the week follow. First up, a repaint of a recent plastic AD&D miniature, the Duergar Champion from the underdark set. Here’s the original paint job:

134345

Actually that stock photo shows a much better paint job than was on the miniature I had. I’m not a fan of these latest AD&D figures. The scale is all over the place, the sculpts are generally bad, and they all pretty much look like they were painted by Janice in Accounting. I saw no reason to keep him a Duergar, so I added some color and here is the result.

Also, I managed to get those Ral Partha Dwarfs painted after all. The dates on the bottom say 1986, so they’ve been awaiting paint for a while!

Next week is the last week of Dwarvember, so it’s time to start looking ahead. What say you all to “WizarDecember” next month?

 

Some Old-School Miniatures

I went on a bit of a buying spree these past few months on some old Grenadier and Ral-Partha stuff. Mind you, I already have a ton of this stuff from my days of youth, but lately I’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic. I present to you some of my recent painting efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Up first are these two knights. Both are repaints of miniatures I first painted when I thought using Testors gloss enamel was a great idea. I’ve been trying to identify them from The Lost Minis Wiki, but I haven’t been able to. I could have sworn they were Grenadier or Ral Partha, as I’ve had them since the early 80’s at least. For some reason I want to say the guy on the right was labeled a cavalier, but I’m not 100% on this. Anyway, they both have morningstars (or maces-and-chain, depending on who you ask), and that wasn’t so common on miniatures in those days. Any assistance identifying these guys would be most appreciated.

UPDATE: Thanks to some fellow enthusiasts on The Miniatures Page, I found out that the one on the left is from Superior Miniatures (Knight with Mace-and-Chain). The one on the right is from TSR, part of their “AD&D Heroes boxed set. And sure enough, he’s a cavalier!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I love miniatures that tell a story and aren’t just “generic guy holding weapon”. This one is an old miniature I bought recently. It was part of Grenadier’s “Woodland Adventurers” boxed set. I don’t have the rest of the set, but I love this halfling sniper. This is not a repaint. In fact, I don’t believe this miniature was ever painted before I got him.

I’m under a pile of lead now, but I’m going to continue to take a break and paint (or repaint) some of these old miniatures every now and then.

Elves, Dwarves and Rust Monsters

Thought I’d showcase some miniatures I painted recently.

DSCN0522

First up are some Reaper elves. (Apologies for the blurriness of the photos. I need to get a tripod.) Up high is Ardynn, Elven Hero (Reaper 14046) , while down below is Baeldrinahr, Rogue Figher(Reaper 02952). Ardynn looks more like a High Elf to me. I decided to base him on snow and I’m happy with the result, although you can’t really see it. I decided to paint Baeldrinahr like a Wood Elf, so I chose the palette and basing accordingly. Both these would have made an appearance in my AD&D campaign, if I was still running it.

DSCN0523

It’s never hard to get me to paint Dwarfs. These are some older Reaper sculpts that actually look kind of small compared to their more recent dwarf products. On the top are two Dwarf Heroes from Sandra Garrity (Reaper 03351). On the lower left is Sturm Jagstone, another Garrity sculpt (Reaper 02236). I love these miniatures.

Oh, Crap...

Oh, Crap…

Lastly, I decided to showcase one of the all-time classic and most hated AD&D monsters: the Rust Monster! These two armored lads are about to have a very bad day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The warrior on the left with the ridiculous sword is Reaper’s Alustan Nightbreaker, Paladin (Reaper 03192). On the right is Kain Swiftblade, yet another Sandra Garrity sculpt (Reaper 02025), one of Reaper’s oldest miniatures, and one of my personal favorites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The rust monsters are a mix of old and new. On the left is Reaper’s recent “Oxidation Beast” (why get sued, after all? Reaper 03585). This one is metal (the irony!!….Oh iron-y! How doubly ironic!!!) but they make a Bones version that’s five bucks cheaper at the moment. The one on the right is a classic Ral Partha rust monster.  I really like the look of both models, and I’m pretty happy with the paint jobs.

What’s Old is New

I’ve been on a bit of an old-school miniatures kick lately, no doubt inspired by guys like the Old School Grenadier Miniatures blog (now sadly gone, it seems).

A bit about that. I first started painting minitures in the 5th grade. Since I’m 40, I’ve been at it a while. I don’t claim to be a master painter; I learn more and more every day. But back then, and pretty much right through high school, I truly sucked at it. I painted all my miniatures with Testors gloss enamel paint, which doesn’t lend itself to shading, highlighting, mixing, or just painting in general. Not that I made any attempt whatsoever at any of those techniques. Most of my miniatures looked pretty gloopy.

It wasn’t until I started playing Warhammer and 40K in college that I discovered acrylic paint. A huge difference for sure. And although I have little love left for GW, I learned a lot from their publications and my painting dramatically improved in a relatively short period of time. Since I was building armies to game with, I painted GW figures pretty much exclusively from the early 90’s -2000 or so.  Around 2003,  I took a long hiatus from both wargaming and painting, having to pack up my paints and miniatures in storage. I only started up again about 3 years ago, and now I can’t stop.

Partly because of nostaligia and partly because I look at them and cringe, I’ve decided that in between my regular projects I’ll give some of my earliest efforts the repainting they so desperately need. Here are some of them.

Everyone I know who collected miniatures back in the early 80’s had the guy on the left. He’s from the Fantasy Lords set 121: Knights. I think he’s a pretty cool miniature from that time, plus he has a bec-de-corbin. How many miniatures do you own that are similarly equipped? Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of him with his old paint job, which was a true atrocity. I never bothered to base any miniatures before I started playing Warhammer, and I see no reason to base them for repaints. Next to him is a Ral Partha Dwarf: I can’t find the number. If any of you can, I’d appreciate you telling me. I recall he was in a blister labeled “Conquistador Dwarf”, but I’ve also seen him referred to as a “Dwarf Champion”. This guy never had any paint on him before now, so there was no “before” picture to take. I did base this guy, because I’ll probably be using him in my AD&D campaign as an NPC. I’m pretty happy with the way they both turned out.

Here’s an example of my work back then. Note the lovely Testors glossy flesh color on the charging halberdier. Impressive, no? Now just imagine if he had a face, how good that would look, and you get the idea of the general quality of my painting back then.

These are the repaints. The miniatures are some classics from that era: Ral Partha’s Chaotic Knights of the Skull (01-137). Like many of the miniatures of this time, scale was all over the place. These were supposed to be 25mm miniatures but they’re more like 32mm. The halberdier’s legs are far enough apart that you could fit the knight in the first picture within  his stride.  Although I think they’re both kind of silly, they were easy and quick to paint in between my current projects. I still don’t like the miniatures, but I like to think my paint job has improved over 25 years.

I think I’ll keep repainting old stuff and posting the results from time to time.