Gather ‘round, ladies and gents! (Are there any ladies in the house?) It’s almost May; time for the second annual Monster May(hem); to be hosted right here at Dead Dick’s Tavern! But wait…SECOND annual? It seems like this has been going on for more than two years…
Aaaah. Yes. Three, actually. It used to be known as Monster Month, but then Roger changed it. (Sigh. Roger. I friggin’ love that guy.)
Anyway, what is Monster May(hem)? Why, it’s the month you paint monsters, of course. Any monster will do, although it should be a proper MONSTER; not an orc or a vampire, or something equally as lame. I mean something truly beastly; like a dragon or manticore or giant sandworm. Check out the last couple of years by looking at that handy “Archives” drop-down menu on the right and picking any May (starting in 2018); or, if you’re too lazy to do that, you can get a pretty good idea what I’m talking about by looking at this post and this post.
I can hear the choruses now. “I wanna join the club, PIper! But, how do I participate?”
It’s easy! Simply let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email at email@example.com. I’ll add your name and website to the blogroll once May starts; and, if it’s not there already, I’ll post a link to your site in my sidebar menus. You might even pick up a few regular visitors to your blog! Don’t have a blog or a website? That’s ok. Send me your pictures, and I’ll post them here and ensure you receive proper attribution.
If you’re looking for some good monster miniatures but don’t want to break the bank, Reaper Bones or Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures are your friends! You can get some great plastic monsters for under 5 bucks, and even more for under ten. Or you can splurge and spend fifteen bucks and get something like this T-Rex from Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures:
But no one’s saying it has to be a Fantasy monster. Got a particularly nasty Tyranid or Elder God you want an excuse to paint? Well, look no further. Here’s your excuse. You can also sculpt your own, if you have the inclination and you’re the daring sort. Roger did just that last year, and he even named it after me! The likeness is uncanny… (I told you I love that guy.)
Monster May(hem) officially starts on the first of May (duh). Chances are I’ll be posting something soon after. I have a couple of miniatures in mind, including one really big project planned. I’ve been pretty productive in past years; but invariably I post a few stragglers in early June as my reach tends to exceed my grasp. Guess we’ll see if this year is the same…
Of all heroes, I didn’t set out to repaint and rebase Aquaman. It came about quite by accident. Recently I had a quick rummage through the bitz box on an unrelated project, and I discovered this Aquaman Heroclix left over from a Forgotten Heroes conversion I did back in 2018. I had popped him off his dial and used the water spout to make the Water Wizard.
(I never throw anything away. That Water Wizard was also made from a Quicksilver body and a Weather Wizard head; the Weather Wizard’s body was used to make the Aquarian. along with a head from a different Aquaman miniature, the hook of which was used on this Pulp Figures conversion. Finally, the Quicklsilver head was used the year before to make Jack Frost, along with a body from a Heroclix Scorpion. As for Scorpion’s head, I have no idea where that ended up.)
The entire time I worked on this conversion, this song was running through my head. It will run through your head too, if you listen to it. It’s insidious, and you will grow to like it. It drove me so nuts I looked up the video on YouTube. It reminded me how much I love this movie, because…Julie Adams. I know, right? What is it with girls named Julie? Adams, Newmar, Christie…it’s a good name, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, I had some “seaweed” and some shells left over from my Under the Sea diorama last month, so that got me thinking of making another underwater base. Since Aquaman is at his coolest in his element (as cool as he can be, anyway), it seemed appropriate to base him underwater. Again, credit to Eons of Battle for the base tutorial.
And here he is. I painted his stupid water hand to look like flesh so he would better resemble the classic, lame-ass Aquaman we all know and mock. (“Go talk to some fish!”)
Here’s my attempt at making Aquaman cool; although if Jason Momoa can’t do it, who am I to think I can? He was a fun little project in the midst of some others, and it’s been a while since repainted some ‘Clix. It’s a bit of an amuse-bouche for June…when Forgotten Heroes comes around again!
Got the song in your head? good. I’d put a picture of Sebastian the crab here, but the Mouse is known to be one litigious rodent…
Anyway, it had to happen eventually. I made a diorama. I’ve never done one before. While I can marvel at and enjoy a good scene as much as the next guy, I’ve always been more practical when it comes to painting miniatures. I do so assuming I will use them in a game someday (see how that has turned out), so keeping miniatures locked in place holds little utility for me. That, coupled with my ambivalence towards scenery-making, has pretty much kept dioramas off my personal hobby list until now.
Behold: The Mermaids’ Grotto. I actually had the idea to do this a few years ago, but shelved it because I couldn’t get excited about making a diorama. I pretty much followed the tutorial from Eons of Battle for constructing underwater bases. The seaweed is made from twist ties; the shells are from a novelty candle that was full of pink sand (don’t ask), and the “rock” is pink XPS board.
All the miniatures are from Reaper’s Dark Heaven line. This one is Children of the Zodiac: Pisces (03300), sculpted by the legendary Sandra Garrity. She was the first one I painted.
This is Pearl, the Mermaid (03078), sculpted by Werner Klocke.
And finally, Coral, the Mermaid (03554) sculpted by Gene Van Horne. This miniature required some cutting and repositioning, as her original pose was this:
As you can see, her tail disappears for a while under the surface of the water. This wasn’t going to cut it in a scene that’s supposed to take place on the ocean floor, so out came the nippy cutters and the green stuff. It’s not a perfect join, but it looks ok.
The octopus and the eel were from Familiar Pack VII, which features a bunch of aquatic critters.
Here’s another shot of Pisces.
Halfway through making this diorama, I realized that my first Fem-bruary submission shows a lot of boobs. Don’t get me wrong, boobs are great; it just wasn’t really my intent to focus so much on them in a month celebrating female miniatures. (I’m not a teenager. It’s just that most mermaids aren’t particularly modest.)
I’m hoping to get a couple more female miniatures done soon, one of which will be my D&D Character of the month; so watch this space.
Roger from Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has organized a tribute to fellow blogger and miniatures enthusiast, Vampifan (Bryan Scott), who sadly passed away earlier this year. I knew Vampifan from his blog, Vampifan’s World of the Undead, and from Painting Challenges like Zomtober and Forgotten Heroes. We tread the same internet and blog byways, but I can’t recall ever corresponding with him directly. I wish I had. By all accounts, he was a great guy, a veteran gamer generous with his advice and encouragement; a good friend, a real credit to the hobby, and a man who will be missed.
This month, to honor an absent friend, Roger has proposed painting a vampire miniature in lieu of simply raising a glass in Vampifan’s memory (although feel free to do that, too). I’ve got a vampire miniature, so count me in.
The miniature I have chosen is one I have had for about 25 years: The Red Duke, by Games Workshop. I bought him right around the time GW split their Undead army into Vampire Counts and Tomb Kings. I chose to go with (though never played) Vampire Counts; the Red Duke was to be my general.
As you can see, he was primed black some time ago, and 25 years of being knocked around in a box has worn some of that off. He also had a cape at one point, but I seem to have lost it. No matter. This Heroclix Hobgoblin shall donate his. You may recall this particular Heroclix has already donated his left arm to my Nexus Forgotten Heroes submission earlier this year. I’ve also removed his head and cut him off the glider. Waste not, want not.
You never know when you’ll need an empty goblin glider. Ask Norman Osborn how dangerous they can be…
Anyway, I don’t want him to go on a boring cavalry slotta base. I’m going for a more dynamic pose: I want him on a rearing skeletal steed! The billowing cape should help the overall effect. I chose a 60mm round base, then added a 30mm base for height and applied some Magic Sculpt to level everything out.
A bit of green stuff, drilling and test-pinning, and I think I’m ready for a re-prime. I’m going to paint the Duke and the steed separately before fitting them together. It seems I may have to use more of the dreaded green stuff to sculpt some reins, as his new, more dynamic pose doesn’t “sit the saddle” the way it was intended.
At this stage of the game, I’m happy with what I have. It looks like this could be a good-looking miniature when I’m done, if I don’t fuck up the paint job. Fingers crossed!
The first God of War game was released in 2005 on the Playstation 2. I played it, and I’ve played every single God of War game ever since, including the latest, released in 2018, also entitled “God of War.“
Here’s a summary of the whole series: you play as Kratos, a Spartan who is the son of Zeus. Ares kills Kratos’s family, so Kratos kills Ares (God of War, 2005). Along the way, and pretty much thereafter, Kratos kills EVERY FUCKING THING he sees. Every monster, mythical creature, hero and god in the Greek pantheon probably gets gutted by Kratos at some point over the course of the next five sequels and prequel (God of War II, III, Ghost of Sparta, Chains of Olympus, and Ascension). Kratos is an angry guy, and killing shit is what he do.
After slaughtering his way through Olympus, Kratos decides to grow a beard, hang up his Blades of Chaos (more on those below) and retire to a nice, quiet life as a mortal somewhere in Scandinavia (it’s not really clear where). Time passes. He marries a woman and has a son, Atreus. This all happens between the previous God of War game, and the latest one.
Of course, leaving Kratos alone would be the smartest thing anyone could possibly do. Naturally, that doesn’t happen. The Norse gods discover who he is and decide to fuck with him. And that’s the premise for the latest God of War game. Kratos and his son murder their way through the Norse realms on a quest to scatter his wife’s ashes in Jotunheim. Of course, there’s a lot of father-son drama along the way. Kratos has kept who he was, or is, from his son all his life; and as you might imagine, Kratos is a somewhat distant and severe parent. He’s way better at killing things than connecting meaningfully with his son.
Ever since the original God of War, I have wanted a Kratos miniature, and I guess the reason I don’t have one is that sculptors are wary of sailing too close to the wind to attempt a “not-Kratos” sculpt, as it’s an easily recognizable IP owned by Sony. While Kratos is hardly a “forgotten” hero in the literal sense, he definitely qualifies for Forgotten Heroes; to my knowledge, no “official” miniature exists. Thus I decided to make my own, but sculpting the Blades of Chaos is far beyond my pitiful skills.
The Blades of Chaos are a pair of chained short swords made by Ares. Kratos whirls them around and things die. See above.
Sadly (yet lucky for me) in this latest incarnation, Kratos has traded in his Blades of Chaos for the Leviathan Axe. I say lucky, but this bummed me out a lot as a player, as for sheer violent delight you just can’t beat the Blades of Chaos. The Leviathan Axe is pretty “meh” by comparison. It’s kind of like playing a Wolverine game and not being able to use Wolverine’s claws; you get a baseball bat instead. Still, the absence of the Blades of Chaos made conversion a lot easier. I quickly found this guy in my pile of unpainted, unopened lead:
That’s Reaper’s Goldar the Barbarian, sculpted by Matt Gubser. He’ll do.
I added a green stuff beard, which is pretty much all I needed to do prior to painting. In the latest game, Kratos runs around with the severed head of Mimir (Kratos severed it for him), which constantly gives you counsel and recites Norse legends and lore for your benefit in an inexplicably Scottish brogue. I used an old GW zombie head for Mimir (or, as Kratos calls him, “Head”), and sculpted his horns from more green stuff.
Here’s the result.
I thought I was pretty hot shit for coming up with this conversion and couldn’t understand why no one else had thought of it before. Of course, someone HAD. One quick trip to Cool Mini or Not and I saw that I was hardly as clever or original as I thought.
Anyway, here is the finished result of my efforts. You should be aware that Kratos’s tattoo is done as a mirror image; that is, in reality it’s actually on the left side of his body. However, since the miniature’s left side is pretty well covered by his shoulder armor and the straps that hold it up, I opted to paint it on his right side so it could be seen. No one cares, I know. (Except for the asshole who, twirling his mustache, waits for the perfect moment to spring out and tell me I got it wrong.)
I guess I’m ok with it. I mean. I like the miniature, but to me, Kratos just isn’t Kratos without the Blades of Chaos. (Spoiler alert: you eventually get the Blades of Chaos back in the latest God of War, and the developers must have known that you’d be missing them by that point. Because the next few minutes of the game, wherein you reacquaint yourself with how fucking awesome they are, is one of the most viscerally-satisfying moments of gaming I have personally experienced.)
This wraps up my Forgotten Heroes submissions for the month. Not sure what I’m going to do next, but I have no shortage of projects, and since our Covid numbers are going in the wrong fucking direction here in the US (although not in my state, thankfully), it looks like I’ll be home for the foreseeable future. I should be able to find something…
Continuing the First Comics theme, I bring you another character from that ill-fated publisher: Nexus.
Nexus was another Mike Baron creation, this time with co-creator Steve Rude. Once First Comics went under, Nexus was picked up by Dark Horse and, like other First Comics properties, made its way through several different publishers. I’m not sure who has the license now.
Nexus is Horatio Hellpop, which is either the coolest or stupidest name ever, I can’t decide. He is a guy given cosmic power by an alien force, called the Merk, in exchange for services rendered. In Nexus’s case, that service is to find and kill serial killers. Nexus has the usual superhero powers: flight, super-strength, telepathy and the ability to shoot frikkin’ lasers out of his hands. The Merk keeps Nexus motivated to do his job by making him feel the pain and anguish of the killers’ victims until he tracks down and ends the serial killer; which I guess is a good way to make overtime mandatory…
Much like Badger, I never got into Nexus, either. Maybe it’s a Mike Baron thing, maybe not. Still, I have a few comics with him in it, but I can’t tell you the last time I read one.
To make Nexus, I used two old Heroclix: a Hydra soldier and the Hobgoblin, both from the Marvel Heroclix Infinity Challenge set, not really hard to find (the Hydra soldier is actually tougher to find, and he was a common figure in the set).
I removed both the miniatures’ left arms, and with the help of some green stuff, did a Frankenstein’s monster on them. I also sanded his raised parts down a bit, then mounted him on a scenic base.
One quick repaint later, and Heeeeeeeeeere’s Nexus! The gloves don’t match, but by the time I remembered that I had already painted him and I didn’t see the need to go back and green stuff the gloves. I can live with it.
I have one more Forgotten Heroes submission I hope to complete by month’s end, and this time it’s not a superhero (gasp!). Suffice it to say it’s a character for whom I have long wanted a miniature…
First Comics had a pretty respectable roster of publications. Most were pretty good (Jon Sable; Freelance, Whisper, Tim Truman’s Scout, and my personal favorite: Grimjack), some not so great (I couldn’t get into American Flagg no matter how hard I tried). First secured the rights to publish Lone Wolf and Cub (which they did out of sequence and only for about 60 issues, if memory serves), complete with new covers from greats like Frank Miller and Bill Sienkewicz; they published Jim Starlin’s Dreadstar for a while, and they even got Jon Sable made into an extremely short-lived TV series, Sable, which I have tried in vain to find anywhere in these days of digital streaming.
First Comics went out of business in the late 80’s. Most of their properties were picked up by Dark Horse, at least for a while. I remember being pretty bummed out about their demise. One of their longest-running comics was Badger, created by Mike Baron.
Badger is Norbert Sykes, a Vietnam veteran who suffers from multiple personalities (those of us in the biz refer to that as Dissociative Identity Disorder nowadays). One of his personalities is Badger, an expert hand-to-hand combatant and crimefighter. Badger lives in a castle in southern Wisconsin with a 5th century Druid who he met in a mental hospital. Hilarity and action ensued. I guess.
Badger was too batshit-crazy a book even for me. Despite my love of all things martial arts, I just didn’t dig Badger all that much. Not sure why, but that hasn’t stopped me from making Badger for Forgotten Heroes this year. Here’s how I did it.
It wasn’t hard. I used these two Heroclix: Nighhtwing and a one-armed Fury (don’t know where she lost her harm), both from DC Hypertime.
One quick head swap later, and he’s already starting to look like Badger. I filed off some of Nightwing’s costume for easier repainting. I debated losing the escrima sticks and just going with clenched fists, but Badger is an expert with all martial arts weapons, so why bother?
I repainted him as Badger, and voila! First Forgotten Heroes submission done for 2020! I have another one in the can already, and I’m hoping to get a third submission completed by the end of the month. Check back here in a few days for my second submission!
I must thank my friend Carrion Crow for coming up with Forgotten Heroes. It is a challenge in more ways than one. For example, last year I converted my very own Wundarr the Aquarian, who I consider to be one of the worst Marvel characters ever. Even though my results weren’t great, I was pretty proud of myself for converting such a terrible character. The Aquarian was met with much amusement, and I thought I would never find another character so lame.
Until now, that is. May I present: La Bandera!
Some background. Once upon a time, Wolverine (along with the rest of the X-Men) was supposed to be dead, so he ditched the superhero life to open a bar in seedy Madripoor. He took the identity of “Patch” (Logan with an eyepatch, get it?) which shouldn’t have fooled anyone with vision better than Mr. Magoo, considering he kept popping his claws all the time. To make matters worse, Wolverine soon started dressing up as fucking WOLVERINE, and everyone sat around scratching their heads at the strange short guy in the Wolverine costume. No one seemed able to put two and two together and come up with “Hey…that guy is Wolverine.”
Anyway, at one point, Wolverine travels to the South American dictatorship Tierra Verde, hot on the trail of Roughhouse, a Madripoor-based bad guy he beat the shit out of a few times. Roughhouse was kidnapped by a guy named Geist, who was a Nazi “scientist” who was working for Caridad, the mustachioed dictator of Tierra Verde. Geist was experimenting on people in the hope of creating a superhero for Tierra Verde at Caridad’s request.
Sigh. Enter La Bandera, a teenage girl who was born in Cuba to Castro revolutionary parents, who then moved to Miami, where her father became a drug addict and died of a drug overdose. When she got to be a teenager, she manifested her mutant power, inspiration. She can influence the emotions of others, so she used this to inspire the common folk to fight drug dealers in Miami. Oh, and she can also shoot power blasts through a stick she carries, but these seem to be dependent on how may people she is currently inspiring. When their morale tanks, she loses this ability.
Yawn. Moving on, La Bandera pissed off the Kingpin, because her rabble-rousing started fucking with his bottom line: his Miami drug profits. So he hired Tiger Shark to kill her. But before Tiger Shark could, she traced the drugs to Tierra Verde, and traveled there to inspire the populace to overthrow their evil dictator, Caridad. Wolverine saved her from Tiger Shark, who was in the process of removing La Bandera’s head from her shoulders. Then he saved her from Geist, who, in addition to a Nazi scientist and expert barber, turned out to be a giant, evil fungus. Then they overthrew the dictator together and saved Roughhouse.
This all took a very long seven issues of Wolverine. There was more to the story (Caridad suffers from migraines and his ex-wife, a nun named “Sister Salvation”, is the only one who can soothe his pain) but just forget it. If you’ve never heard of La Bandera, you have missed nothing. But the reason is because she, and the story she rode in on, sucks out loud.
La Bandera is one of those annoying, purposeless characters that festooned the X-books throughout the late eighties and nineties. She’s a stereotype (a Cuban-born revolutionary), but at least we are spared the “Claremont-ization” of her speech patterns (a la Black Tom Cassidy, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Moira MacTaggart, Gambit and countless others…) because she was created by Archie Goodwin, not Chris Claremont; but although there’s nary a “Madre de Dios!” to be found, she’s still pretty damn lame.
Perfect for Forgotten Heroes. Although her national allegiance isn’t clear, she’s definitely a patriotic character, as she inspires feelings of nationalism in others. so, she’s kind of a patriotic everyman. And she has a colorful costume. That’s about all I got.
As my base figure, I used a Heroclix Nikki. I have no idea who the hell Nikki is, but she’s apparently affiliated with the Defenders. She’ll do.
I removed her from her dial and took her arm off at the shoulder. I considered just clipping off the gun, but her arms are so thin I was worried about attaching a staff to both sides of her hand. So I opted to just remove the hand and replace it with this GW skink spear hand. I removed the spear head and hoped no one would notice that La Bandera has a freakishly-large right hand, and that it only has three fingers.
Then I started applying green stuff and magic sculpt to build up her poofy sleeves. Although I suck at sculpting, I took my time. I built it up in several sessions rather than trying to get it all done at once.
Finally, I sculpted her mask and her flowing belt and mask ties. This took a while. I rolled out the magic sculpt in a long ribbon, flattened it out, twisted it and let it dry. Then I clipped it and super-glued it to the miniature. A final dab of putty secured both belt and mask tie in place.
Finally, all that was left was to paint her. You may notice that my paint job doesn’t match the artwork above. That’s because throughout that excruciating seven-issue run, La Bandera’s costume lacked a consistent color scheme, which may have been a printing error, or may have just been indicative of how much anyone working on her story gave a fuck. I went with the one that was shown the most. I’m not happy with her mask. Perhaps I should have just painted her face instead of sculpting a mask, as it looks a little weird. But I take comfort in the fact that although I’m probably one of the only people in the world with a La Bandera miniature, I will, in all likelihood, never have to use her in a game.
Unless she teams up with the Aquarian. Damn. Now I’m thinking about it.
That brings my Forgotten Heroes submissions to an end for this year. I really wanted to do General Glory from the post-Legends JLI, but I didn’t have the time. Maybe next year, although I’m pretty sure the Crow will have a new challenge by then…
It’s June, which means it’s time for Forgotten Heroes. This year is a bit different from what has come before. This year, the theme is “Patriot Games”; all submissions must be “patriotically” themed, i.e. wearing a costume that reflects their country of origin.
With that in mind, I have decided to make a miniature for my favorite Street Fighter, Zangief.
From the Street Fighter Wiki: Zangief , also known as the “Red Cyclone”… is a national Russian hero who is always seen fighting for the glory of his country. Zangief is a massive fighter, weighing 400 lbs and standing slightly over 7 feet tall, placing him among…the tallest characters in the entire Street Fighter roster…Zangief has been portrayed with a beard and a mohawk, along with a uniquely-shaped formation of chest hair on his torso and on his shins. His massive frame is almost entirely covered in scars from his bouts with brown bears in the barren and remote area of Siberia.
Yeah, that’s right. When not utterly crushing his enemies, Zangief wrestles bears. For fun.
Zangief doesn’t have a patriotic costume, opting instead for wrestling tights. BUT, anyone with even a passing familiarity with Zangief knows he’s from Russia. Plus, his wrestling moves all have Russian names, like “Borscht Dynamite” and “Siberian Express”. I guess this is cheating a little, but I’m going for the spirit, if not the letter, of the rules.
Zangief’s first appearance was in the classic Capcom arcade game, Street Fighter II: The World Warriors (1991). Since then, he’s been a playable character in 14 other fighting games, and even showed up in the Street Fighter anime cartoons and movies, the (horrible) Van Damme Street Fighter movie, as well as a cameo in Wreck-It Ralph. He’s also made it into various Street Fighter comics (published by Malibu and Udon).
Zangief is a bit different than your typical fireball-throwing street fighter. For one thing, he’s slow. He likes to get up close and personal, grabbing his opponents and administering his signature move, the Spinning Pile-Driver (seen above). Once he gets close, you’ll wish he wasn’t. Zangief does the most damage of any fighter by far.
Zangief’s far from forgotten, and he’s technically not a “hero”. But he’ll always be my hero. The Red Cyclone taught me all I know about fighting. Just last week I head-butted a guy and gave him a spinning pile driver (again, see above) just because he fucking annoyed me. He’ll know better next time, once he gets out of traction.
There has been a miniature of Zangief issued already for the Heroclix Street Fighter line. But as you can see, it really sucks. So I decided to make my own.
I started with a Heroclix Blockbuster miniature, from the Uncanny X-Men series. He’s big, and he has wristbands and boots like Zangief. They’re not perfect swaps, but they’re certainly close enough.
After I removed him from his base dial, I did a quick application of some green stuff and magic sculpt. I was able to sculpt his mohawk, beard, chest hair and his (really fucking weird) shin hair. I’m no Dick Garrison, but I can handle sculpting messy body hair and a mohawk. (I still wish I could sculpt better.)
Here’s what he looks like. I’m mostly happy with him, but it’s easy to see his beard and chest hair and think it’s just a huge beard. I sculpted a square-ish beard rather than a pointy one (Zangief’s beard changes depending on who draws him). I think if I had sculpted a pointed beard (or just got a ‘Clix Zangief and did a head swap) it would make it easier to differentiate between beard and chest hair, but who cares? (I do.)
Here’s the Red Cyclone about to deliver a Soviet beatdown to E. Honda (Hasslefree’s Tetsuhara)…
…and here he is, about to ruin Ryu’s day (Heroclix Ryu).
MUSCLE POWER! Horosho!
I’m going to try to get another Forgotten Heroes submission in by the end of the month, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull it off as it requires much more sculpting. Other than that, I have decided that June is Superhero month here at Dead Dick’s Tavern. In addition to Forgotten Heroes, I’m going to paint my steadily-increasing collection of Knight Models and repaint more Heroclix!