Sunday, September 2, 2018

D&D Werebears, Satyr and Unicorn

Ral Partha 01-118 Giant Werebear
Back-view of the Werebear
A second copy of the same figure

First up today are a pair of werebears or great grizzly bears sculpted by Tom Meier for Ral Partha in 1979 for their first fantasy line. I first painted the one on the left, and since my girlfriend liked it so much, and I had one to spare, I painted her the one on the right. That's why they have different basing, mine to go with my D&D collection and hers with more of a display base. On the surface the painting looks very similar, and that's what I intended, but if you look closely at the high-res pics you may notice the underlying technique is substantially different, with mine being done almost entirely with thin washes over a great-then-white-primed figure (the way I painted the stone giant shown awhile back), and her with something much closer to my usual technique. There was no particular reason for the difference, just different approaches I took on the particular days, months apart, probably entirely unconsciously. Goes to show you can arrive at the same place taking different routes, I suppose.

I believe the figure is still in production at Iron Wind Metals and Ral Partha Europe.

Two Ral Partha werebears
Provoking these bears is ill-advised
McEwan Miniatures MO-9 Unicorn

When collecting D&D figures, I try to limit myself to no more figures of each monster type than the max number appearing listed in the Monster Manual entries, and to have the figures be similar enough to be compatible with one another on the tabletop. Owlbears and goblins are my most notable exceptions to the rule but unicorns are perhaps third-most notable. I'm not sure if this Ewan Miniatures casting is the oldest in my collection, but it is the most naively sculpted. I like the silhouette quite a bit and especially the treatment and placement of the hair, which lends it a dynamism, but less-so the face, the eyes in particular.

Some further random notes on it...

  • It saw use in a game for the first time a few months ago in a game of Talisman.
  • I painted it with the P3 Everblight colors, Underbelly Blue and Frostbite (and lots of White, of course, pure White in this case).
  • My casting was missing the horn and I sculpted the replacement from greenstuff. I hadn't identified the figure at the time or I would have sculpted it more like the original.
  • The figure is still in production at, where you can see the original (or see it at the Lost Minis Wiki.
McEwan Unicorn and Ral Partha Satyr
Ral Partha 01-033 Satyr (Pan)

Last up is a Ral Partha satyr, also by Tom Meier, released 1979. The Lost Minis Wiki identifies this as a second version of the figure.

I want a full encounter group of satyrs very much, but finding 25mm satyrs in numbers is difficult. I also want them to be cavorting and adhering to the classical descriptions rather than neutered and ready to fight, as most satyrs are these days. This Ral Partha one is probably by favorite, but is small and scarce, and would look awkward having duplicates of the same pose, but neither would it lend itself to conversion. In hindsight, I wish I would have picked up a handful of the Metal Magic one from Mega Miniatures when they had it in production, and used that single sculpt as a basis for conversions. Eureka make some in 28mm and I wonder how they would fit with 25mm figures. They might do. They have weapons, but you can buy the individual poses, of which there are many, and I could convert them.

Certain illustrations of yesteryear, and notions I have of the early days of tabletop wargaming, compelled me to paint the base in this new green-hued style. If I hadn't painted the unicorn already I would have done it in this style also. I like it, and will probably keep going with it for woodland figures. But let me know if you think this is a mistake.

Ral Partha 01-033 Satyr (Pan)
Satyr and adventurers for size-comparison

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Pig-face Orc Shaman

Another long-WIP figure finished and exposed to the light of day. I started this orc shaman back when I was painting the rest of the orcs but got momentarily hung up on freehand pattern designs I wanted to add to his jewelry and put him aside...for 8+ years. Now that I'm playing D&D again it was as good a time as any to get back to it.

I'm pretty pleased with how he turned out, and it was especially satisfying finishing him off by slapping on some Tamiya Red Clear over the bloody heart and making blood spots, and giving his lapis lazuli diadem a glossy gleam with Future. Also satisfying that I added an orc from the Grenadier Dragon Lords Orcs of the Severed hand box set to the band, as now I've got no fewer than five generations of Grenadier orcs represented!

"Foremost among the orcs is a leering shaman-type garbed in fur and finery, a blue diadem shining from his forehead, a bloody fork in one hand and proffering in the other a bloody, throbbing heart!"
"Roll for Surprise!"

Like the other orcs, this one has a pig snout added, made from green stuff/brown stuff, but is otherwise stock. It's a great sculpt by John Dennett that strikes an imposing figure beside the other orcs. The painting of the blue and gold bands was inspired by photos of real-life shamans and is meant to represent cords made from cloth and gold thread. The cloth of his garment is meant to be something he took from a royal or at least noble personage and conveys his charisma, showmanship and sense of self-worth. Lastly, you've got to love his heart-extraction fork.

Pig-face Orc Shaman from the Grenadier Dragon Lords Orcs of the Severed Hand Box Set
Pig-face Orc Shaman, rear view

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Unknown Painter: Malifaux Lilith and Collodi Crews

I did not paint the figures in this post but thought readers might be interested. I don't play with unpainted figures and didn't want to rush my own, so bought some painted figures to play with in the meantime.

Malifaux Mother of Monsters Set (Lilith Crew)
Malifaux Master of Puppets Set (Collodi Crew)

I got the two sets in the same eBay lot and the as I set my bid just for the Lilith lot, the Collodi crew was a free bonus. The Collodi figures are the older, metal figures, which are fine and good, but it was the characteristics of the plastic 2E figures which got me on board with the game.

I all but expected breakage even had the seller been careful, but they were badly packed along with another heavy metal figure, and the damage was considerable. Didn't seem to value their own work. A number of hours went into repairing what should have been ready to play with. The cherub and young nephilim are now a lot more sturdy than before, with metal pins holding them together. The young nephilim in particular are so fragile I would have been more surprised if they had shown up in one piece, and it was the other figures I was unhappy about. Oh well, in the end a nice group of figures and I can loan them out for demos once I have my own painted up.

Malifaux Lilith, Mother of Monsters
Malifaux Barbaros
Malifaux Terror Tots and Cherub
Malifaux Mature Nephilim
Malifaux Young Nephilim

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Malifaux WIP on the Workbench

Here are some Malifaux works in progress. More unfinished projects exposed to the light of day!

Malifaux Tooth and Claw Box Set (Marcus Crew)
Malifaux Vengeful Spirits Box Set (Kirai Crew)
Malifaux The Plague Cometh Box Set (Hamelin Crew)
Malifaux Molemen
Malifaux The Drowned
Malifaux Black Blood Shamans


  • I said it before but I love these figures! Yes, the bits are fiddly and skill is required, but I love the experience of putting Malifaux figures together and the finished figures are so satisfying as you see zero-undercut parts transformed into a dynamic figure seeming to have as many undercuts the design requires.
  • I prefer Proxie Models bases to those they come with. I glue the figures with plastic cement to bits of .01" plasticard because the base lip leaves a depression and because I fill the depression, I need the figure's feet to be at least as high as the top of the lip. It may also give a bit better purchase for figures with a small amount of feet surface area.(And the Shaman's don't have white plastic bits as they aren't glued yet.)
  • It was hard to commit to putting the smaller figures on 30mm bases and these were held up because of it. I prefer figures on the smallest base they look comfortable on, but using a different base size is a sure way to test your opponents patience if you are playing with the rules the game was intended for. In my cases, I wanted them to be ready for my own games but also ready to play with the Malifaux community. You can see I still haven't based the rats and still may go with bases that fit within larger bases for these, though the spindly legs put them at risk of breakage the more you need to fiddle with them before a game.
  • I'm going with an "empty lot" theme with the bases. Generally speaking I like my bases minimal and unobtrusive, and depicting one of the most common environments the figures would find themselves in. A quick look at the Malifaux map confirms empty dirt would likely cover the most area of various terrain types in places where encounters would take place. The empty lot theme also gives room to be less minimal when I choose, and you can see I've chosen that way for some figures above
  • Bricks were an element I thought was important to sell the empty lot scene. I made a bunch out of Sculpey clay pushed through a clay extruder tool and chopped with a razor blade. I'm using these sparingly and it's actually hard to spot them in the pics above.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

D&D Clubneks

Another D&D encounter group to add to the monster roster.

Rustic borderlanders provoke a group of clubneks

Clubneks are a monster found in the Fiend Folio, described as a mutated form of ostrich in varying shades of green with yellow beaks. I'm using Splintered Light 15mm "Terror Birds," sculpted by Sandra Garrity, to represent them. I get excited whenever I see figures available that are a match for a D&D monster not commonly represented in miniature and such was the case here. The figures match in every way to the Fiend Folio entry (save for the illustration erroneously depicts the creature as too large for the 2HD and "medium" size listed in the stat line), and as you can see, work very well in 25mm, towering over a man with neck extended to full height.

Clubnek illustration from the Fiend Folio

They are a common sight on the borderlands in my campaign and the thief and magic user in the party were reluctantly pulled into an encounter with a few of these as they were serving as guards for a merchant in exchange for river passage. Seeing several of these bright creatures hunting among reeds in a marshy passage of the river, the regular guards got permission to detour for some sport. One died and another was mortally wounded and rescued by the adventurers, who also recovered a slain bird or two and drove off the rest, and later sold the plumage and meat for a fair profit to the trader at the keep on the borderlands.

D&D Clubnek Miniatures

As usual, I collected photo reference of green birds as well as ugly, big-beaked birds. The resulting scheme was inspired by collected picture on the whole, but the brown-headed barbet in the former category and the yellow hornbill in the latter were foremost. I took a bit of artistic liberty with the creature's description to add the purplish contrasting touches and was pleased with the result; it seemed like just what the figures needed.

D&D Clubnek, Splintered Light Miniatures, Sculpted by Sandra Garrity

Saturday, July 14, 2018

D&D Stirges and Giant Fire Beetles

More finished encounter groups for D&D! Up today are scratch-sculpted and press-cast stirges and giant fire beetles.

Stirges! Bloodsucking fiends swarm the party

A desperate struggle against the stirges
At least they saw them coming! A fight against giant fire beetles
Scratch-sculpted and press-molded stirges

The stirges from overhead

Stirges Making-of

See my previous post for more on the making of the stirges. Making the stirthe hardest part about making of the stirges. The hardest part came at the end, with the making of the flight stands. After experimenting with drilling a hole in the base and keeping a pin at 90 degrees with greenstuff, I decided soldering was the way to go. I cut squares from steel shingle and rigged up a jig using a "helping hands" tool, a mechanics square and a magnet, holding a pin to the helping hands with a magnet and lining it up with the mechanics square. Even after watching a number of how-to videos and buying recommended solder and flux, I'm nowhere close to getting solder to cooperate. When it melts it seems to run to the spot I want it least to go.

A surprise bonus to this basing method is that I can store the stirges on a metal plate with each stirge atop a rare earth magnet. The intervening .04" black plasticard base perfectly lessens the hold of the magnet to where they nicely stay put without holding so fast there's danger of breakage when I slide them off.

The hardest part was soldering these flight stands

Stirges in AD&D

Stirges are vicious in the AD&D game as they are deadly accurate (attack as a higher HD monster) and suck HP until they are bloated full of blood or are killed. I painted them in the canonical colors, rust-brown with yellowish eyes and feet, and a pink proboscis fading to gray at the base. The size is not specified but I made them scale with the illustrations in the game. These may be the only scale stirge miniatures around, though I seem to recall an offering some years back that was pretty close.

Giant Fire Beetles Making-of

Scratch-made giant fire beetle miniatures
The fire beetles are cast flat in greenstuff in a one-piece mold (insta-mold material) but when I glued them to the base, I first glued a block (of off-cut lead) to the base and mounted the beetle on top of this, and then folded his legs down to glue them to the base. This way they are off the ground at a believable height, and I added a dimensionality to them that a flat casing can't provide. I used blocks made of lead to give them a little extra weight as well. The mandibles being off the ground and separate adds a lot, as does having the thorax.

Giant fire beetles in AD&D

Giant fire beetles are the least of the giant beetles at 2.5' long, but well-protected by their exoskeleton and stronger in a fight than their size implies and can cut deep with their great mandibles. They are so-called for their three red-glowing glands, two above the eyes and one near the back of their abdomen. These models are to-scale (length measured from tip of mandible to tip of abdomen).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Heritage LotR Hobbits / D&D Halfings

Heritage LotR and Ral Partha Hobbits/Halflings

Halflings for RPGs

A friend of mine and I have been noting an unplanned synchronicity in recent projects for our respective RPG campaigns, my D&D Borderlands campaign and his WFRP. In response to my last post he mentioned his "bartenders, beggars, and drunk halflings."

Well, the synchronicity continues unabated. My campaign starting local is Gygax's Keep on the Borderlands. Well, many years after the original publication, Kenzer and Company published a return to the keep/ send-up for Hackmaster in their usual style, creatively titled, "Little Keep on the Borderlands," wherein are many new ideas and twists to the original, which I'm borrowing as fancy strikes me. One of these is a camp of squatter halflings which adventurers must pass through to reach the camp. So, have my players also been accosted by drunk halflings? The answer is a resounding yes.

That said, my halflings figures are of a more placid, hobbity sort and are only doubling as vagbonds and rascals when the need calls for it. These are actually Heritage Lord of the Rings figures. If I ever do a 25mm classic Tolkien collection, these will be used for the purpose for which they were intended.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits

For the purist collectors out there here's a pic of just the Heritage ones.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits
I refer those wishing to know more about these figures to their entry in Lost Minis Wiki. They are taken from the following sets:
  • 1750 The Fellowship
  • 1755 Hobbit Sheriff Command Set
  • 1752 Hobbit Townsfolk


Something about the figures inspired me to introduce yet another base effect to my repertoire. On the one hand, the oldest vein of retro old school miniatures, and on the other, the way outdoor nature scenes are often depicted in paintings and animation. The most representative example I have to hand are the paintings Eyvind Earle made for Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

Then I went and took the pics against a very yellow-green backdrop, making the intended effect an impossibility. I'll come back and take new pics, though, if/when I get a suitable backdrop, probably made of felt. I'm experimenting with simple, cloth ground coverings lately and having remarkable success. I have been shopping craft online shops and cataloging those I'm interested in for various purposes. I might make a post about this.

Not too much to say about the painting. I matched the colors of the Merry and Pippin figures with those used in the Bakshi films. The figures themselves are linked to the films and the designs from it. I like the scheme I came up with for the Ral Partha one, and am debating whether to continue it with other RP halflings I have.


I also can't go without comparing the sculpting of the Heritage figures with the lone Tom Meier Ral Partha one I also included. Both were made around the same time. I presume the Heritage ones were sculpted in Milliput, or something similar, and the comparatively rough, carved quality of the sculpts is indicative, as I think Meier himself has pointed out. The Meier figure, in contrast, is has a silky-smooth quality he achieved with the different sort of epoxy he pioneered, that became the ubiquitous green stuff we all know.

This is another good example to show all the people who buy into the myth of sculpting progress and the myth of casting progress. This figure sculpted in 1979 is a technical marvel, sculpted as well as anything since, and as well-cast as anything as well. The casting also puts 98% of figures cast today to shame, whether by large or small operations. I invite you to compare to the offerings you find in your local game store today. And this figure is 16mm to the eyes. It is literally 1/3 the mass or less of a halfling figure you might find today, if not 1/4 or 1/5.

Tom Meier Ral Partha Halfling, 1979

I thought I could bang out this hobbit/halfling post in no-time and that's why I chose to do this post over others, but it's taken me a good portion of the morning to make it. Such is blogging. After breakfast I hope to get back to painting peasants. Foundry Perry figures this time. I have 10+ here that need just 2-5 minutes each to polish off.

Oh, and last note, last night I just finished two Custom Cast hobbits/halfings that predate these, but haven't varnished or photographed them yet, so they will have to wait for another post.