Manufacturer: Hobby Products
Imprint: Metal Magic
Set: C1026 Zombies
Base Markings: ?
Release date: 1990?
Date painted: 2010
Notes: The original figures have hollow eye sockets, and I added eyes made from green stuff. Mega Miniatures owns the rights to and produces the Metal Magic ranges as of 2013.
Line: Monster Manuscripts
Set: 1512 Monster Manuscript Vol.XII
Figure: MM106 Zombie
Base Markings: GRENADIER, 1987?; MM106
Release date: 1990?
Sculptor: Andrew Chernak
Date painted: 2010
Zombies and Zombie Miniatures
Zombies are a perennial mainstay of geek culture and in 2013 it seems like market saturation is at an all time high. Not surprisingly, however, when it came time to do up some zombie miniatures for D&D I traveled back to a groovier, trashier age for inspiration, the age of pulp horror comics from publishers like EC and Eerie. Probably not coincidentally, this was the age during which D&D appeared.
While the style was easily decided, finding zombie miniatures in 25mm scale and appropriately-dressed for the fantasy milieu wasn't as easy, at least not at first. There is one in the Grenadier AD&D range, one (shown above) in the Monster Manuscript range and at least one in their Cthulhu range. Here and there companies like Prince August, Broadsword and Ral Partha did some in the past, but they are fairly difficult to find. Iron Wind has some Ral Partha ones available but they are post-golden-age and not really to my taste. At first I dismissed the Metal Magic ones Mega Miniatures currently offers, but then I had the idea that what I didn't like about them was the empty eye sockets and that I could easily add my own eyes. Having them in hand I knew I made the right choice as they were perfectly-scaled with my other D&D figures, dressed appropriately and had lots of great distinguishing zombie features like open wounds, missing bits of scalp, shredded clothing, etc. Perhaps best of all there are no less than eight completely unique sculpts and are a great value at a bulk price for all eight. In fact, I'm overdue for getting another set. With head and weapon swaps another eight unique zombies would be fairly easy.
In my usual style I started by collecting reference pictures, which consisted of vintage pulp covers, Halloween masks and a few more-recent illustrations. With an aim for the pulp feel I made the main base color dull periwinkle (Vallejo Game Color Sombre Grey) and modulated this with casts of purple and blue-green coming from particular directions. One obstacle to going whole hog for a 4-color approach is that in comics you show the same characters many times throughout the comic and color each panel based on it's particular intrinsic needs. The zombie might be purple in one panel and orange in another but it never occurs to the reader that the zombie is orange or purple. But you only get to paint each miniature once and that's how it looks in every panel, so to speak. There's no getting around it.
I also wasn't afraid to choose bold colors for the clothing and the shield as later I came back and muddied things up to give them the feel of layers of grime. In addition to splotchy glazes, if you want an aged, weathered appearance to a color add gray to it for your highlight rather than white. In fact, it's not a bad idea to do this even when you're after a fairly intense color. Having your highlights as saturated as your middle tones is only appropriate for representing a select few surface materials.
As I mentioned, the figures come stock with empty eye sockets and I added the eyes to these with green stuff. I also did a few tricks and had one eyeball hanging out and bloody and to another I added tiny white maggots in the eye socket and elsewhere on the figure. I actually don't mind if a few zombies are missing their eyes but I figured as long as I was troubling myself to it I may as well do all of them. Even as I was doing these I was planning to pick up another batch and I can leave some of those hollow if I want to.
One tip for painting your undead eyeballs, do add a dot to represent the iris and pupil but make it a really faint dot only slightly darker than the white of the eye. I'm really please with the "dead stare" effect that results.
The open wounds were painted with a wine color (P3 Sanguine Base), brushed over with GW Red Gore and then after the figures were dullcoated I went back with Tamiya Red Clear, which is highly glossy. I'm not alone when I say it's great for gory effects.
As always, the collection can be viewed in its entirety at flickr.