Middle Earth Miscellany

Tony F shows the latest painting additions to his ever-growing collection of Middle-Earth miniatures.

I’ve once again been splashing some paint on a random selection of characters, mostly from Games Workshop’s range but with a few extras from other manufacturers to fill some gaps. One I painted just for fun is shown above – it’s a younger (Martin Freeman) version of Bilbo from The Hobbit, outside a really nice hobbit hole that I picked up on a Kickstarter. I don’t have an immediate use for him but he didn’t take too long to paint.

Phil and I have a game due soon based on a fictitious (as in not-mentioned-in-any-of-Tolkein’s-books-but-it-could-well-have happened) attack on the village of Bree. This is the village where the four hobbits were due to meet Gandalf soon after they left the Shire, but instead bumped into Aragorn and the Ringwraiths.

According to my Atlas of Middle Earth, the village is one of three that surround Bree-hill (the others being Combe and Staddle). Bree is sited on the west of the steep hill which serves to protect it from the north and east, and a large hedge and dike keeps marauders at bay from the south and west. The population is mostly Men, but a number of hobbits live in holes on the slopes of the hill.

My defenders will come from three sources – the inhabitants of the village (both men and hobbits), a small number of Grey Company rangers and Dunedain, and a few random travellers who might be staying in the Prancing Pony when the attackers arrive. There aren’t really any official GW figures that I could use to represent the villagers, so I had to look at other manufacturers and came up with this mean looking bunch from Gripping Beast. They’re arrayed before a Caliver Books butter market surrounded by plenty of Ainsty bits and pieces.

Leading the Grey Company is Halbarad, a Ranger who helps guard the borders of the Shire – he’s another minor character who has a bit part in the books (he carries Aragorn’s standard onto the Pelennor Fields where he meets his end) but is left out of the film adaptation.

Talking of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, and looking further ahead to a rather ambitious game we have planned for later in the year, I’ve also been painting Rohirrim – lots of them. For someone who has a rather irrational dislike of painting horses, an army made up entirely of cavalry seems like a bad move. I’ve made a start with the King of Rohan, Theoden, painting the superb new plastic model released late last year.

I’ve also painted the version on foot and at the same time painted Gamling, the King’s standard bearer (although he appears to have lost it in this version of the figure).

And finally, just for now, a few dwarves. This is a version of Balin from The Hobbit, along with a small retinue of dwarf rangers.

Open Day 2019

Open Day Coordinator Dave Sime gives the low-down on this year’s games…

Open Day, 22nd June 2019

The Open Day will be held on June 22nd from 11am to 4pm at our usual venue in Linton, just outside Maidstone.

Below is the list of games for the 2019 Open Day – over the next few weeks each game sponsor will be giving us more details on their respective games.

Just to whet your appetites, here are a selection of the games from last year’s event…

Defenders of the Shire

Tony F updates us on his latest painting efforts

I had a bit of a Middle-Earth break after the efforts of the Open Day game, but I slowly eased myself back into things in September. On the shelf next to my desk is a small row of based and undercoated figures, and I find that if they stare at me long enough I end up getting having to paint them – at the front of the queue were two trios of rangers.

The first threesome are a set of Dúnedain, descendants of the men of Númenor. Known as the Rangers of the North, they patrol the borders of the Shire and keep that peaceful land (mostly) free of the perils of the rest of Middle Earth.

The other set are members of the Grey Company, a group of Dúnedain led by Halbarad who accompanied Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and went on to capture the ships of the corsairs – their arrival at Pelargir turned the tide of the Battle of Pelennor Fields. They’re distinguished by their grey cloaks fixed by star-shaped brooches.

The official Games Workshop model of Halbarad is currently out of production, so my rangers are lacking a leader. Over the years I seem to have accumulated quite a few different Aragorn figures, so I picked a spare one of those and painted him up as his father, Arathorn (there is GW figure of Arathorn but, like Halbarad, he’s been out of production for some time and goes for silly money on eBay). The ‘conversion’ consisted of painting Aragorn’s dark locks grey, but he’ll do for me unless or until GW bring their official Arathorn figure back.

First Line of Defence

Tony F previews an Open Day Lord of the Rings battle

The Rammas Echor was an ancient defensive wall around the Pelennor Fields, where the great battle was fought before the city of Minas Tirith during the War of the Ring. It was intended to protect the area around the city, which was mostly farmlands. If you’re not familiar with the books and have only seen the films you wouldn’t know anything about it, as Peter Jackson chose to omit it from the Return of the King (understandably perhaps, as it’s only really mentioned in passing). It was repaired and strengthened by Denethor II as the threat from Mordor became apparent, but was never manned in sufficient numbers – it was after all around 35 miles long – and fell quickly.

We’ve adapted a scenario from one of the Games Workshop sourcebooks, involving Faramir and a small number of rangers returning from the battle in Osgiliath and attempting to reach the relative safety of the wall. The defenders then have to hold the wall as long as possible.

I’ve built a section of the wall from insulation foam, with battlements cast in resin. The style of the battlements and colour of the wall are based on the Minas Tirith city walls seen in the films, although the walls are substantially lower (the dimensions I based on the size of Hadrian’s Wall). Taking a further cue from Hadrian, I added a small wall fort, just an enclosed courtyard with a couple of small buildings for the Garrison. A dirt track will lead to the front gate, with a more substantial road from the rear gate which leads off to the city. The area in front of the wall has been cleared to allow the defenders a good field of fire, with nothing but a few trees and rocks for cover.

Holding the wall is a company of warriors from Minas Tirith armed with swords, spears and bows. They also have an Avenger Bolt Thrower and crew on one of the bastions. Reinforcements are desperately awaited from the city, and whatever stragglers make their way back from Osgiliath.

Middle-Earth May

An Open Day update from Tony F

Following on from my progress in March painting Lord of the Rings figures for my Ramas Echor Open Day game, I had a fallow April (the demands of Salute took up all my time that month). However, I was back in the saddle (literally) in May, with over a dozen figures on the painting table.

I’ve had a box of Swan Knights of Dol Amroth which I’ve wanted to paint for a while, and this game was the ideal chance to get them on the table. There are six altogether, which I’ve assembled as a captain, standard bearer, musician and three knights. I kept the horses and riders separate during painting to make things easier. I started by spraying the riders a dull silver and airbrushing the horses in Vallejo French Blue (I also masked off and airbrushed the riders’ flags and pennants in the same colour). The horse coats were then washed and highlighted with Citadel paints and the horses themselves painted in various shades of brown. The Knights were washed with Citadel Nuln Oil (black) and drybrushed again in a brighter silver, and details picked out. The barrel on the base of the catapult is a very old Peter Pig casting.

I’ve also finally assembled my Avenger Catapult, a resin Finecast model – this will be very handy against the Trolls and other large creatures from Mordor. Gondor warriors are all fairly monochromatic – most of the figures are covered in silver armour, and the bits that aren’t silver are mostly black. I painted the armour the same way as the Knights (Army Painter Platemail spray basecoat, Nuln Oil wash, Citadel Necron Silver drybrush), then painted any exposed cloth black with dark grey highlights, along with the shield. Other than that, their faces (the tiny bit you can see) were painted flesh and washed with a dark flesh wash, and I picked out a few straps and spear shafts brown and added a few gold details.

I also painted up three more plastic warriors of Minas Tirith and a metal standard bearer – these were already assembled and undercoated so it made sense to finish them at the same time as the catapult crew.

With just over three weeks to go, I have ten more figures to finish, which shouldn’t be a problem – however, there’s still the minor matter of the Ramas Echor itself. The first photo below shows the rough layout of the piece of wall I’m building – the centre section will have a gateway, and behind it is a small wall fort with a couple of buildings as accomodation for the garrison. The other two wall sections will have a bastion for archers or the Avenger Catapult.

This is a nearly-finished section of wall with the battlements in place. These are based on the Minas Tirith city wall design, which I’ve cast up in sections in resin before gluing them in place (the resin just happens to be exactly the same colour as the insulation foam that the body of the wall is made from).

Finally, I finished two half-painted figures which aren’t needed for the Open Day game. On the left is the Mouth of Sauron, who is a man (probably a Black Numenorean) in the service of Sauron. He’s been 3/4 finished for ages, so I didn’t need to do much other than finish a few details and paint his base. On the right is a Captain of Rohan, the mounted equivalent to the figure I finished a couple of months ago.

Open Day 2018

The club is holding its annual Open Day on Saturday June 23rd (11am to 4pm). This when we put on many games and open our doors for all to come and visit and get a much wider idea of what we do and the games we play. We try to put on a good variety of games across all the popular periods and scales, all of which are open to visitors to join in. We offer a special discounted membership rate for anyone who joins the club on the day. There’s also a prize draw sponsored by local manufacturer Brigade Models for all visitors.

This year there are seven games, including one put on by Milton Hundred Wargames Club, our nearby friends and neighbours. The six club games are as follows:

The Fall of the Ramas Echor – a 28mm Lord of the Rings game set just before the Battle of Pelennor Fields, TA3019.

The Second Battle Of Sluys AD1370 – 28mm Medieval action using Lion Rampant rules.

Fields of Glory – a 15mm ancients game using the FoG ruleset.

Sharp Practice – 28mm Napoleonic skirmish action in the Spanish Peninsula.

WW2 Naval – early war action between the French and Italian navies in the Mediterranean.

Gaslands – post-apocalyptic car racing.

Directions to the club’s venue in Linton, near Maidstone, can be found on our website.

More LotR Goblins

Another To-Do list update from Andy King…

Last instalment for the Moria Goblin force are two bases of smaller spiders. These came from a Tesco Halloween novelty pack, around 50 spiders for £1. They are not that big, around 20mm across the legs, so only room for 2 on a 40mm base. I only wanted 2 more bases, and didn’t want another full pack of Copplestone spiders.

The paint job is similar to their larger cousins, a dark brown basecoat followed by drybrushing lighter shades of brown. Leg segments, eyes, pincers and body spots were then added.

I’ve also finished three Khazâd Guard Dwarves, there were E-bay purchases and were partly painted when I bought them.

Middle-Earth March

A post from webmaster Tony F…

I have two Middle-Earth projects on my To-Do list this year – the first is a refight of the Scouring of the Shire mini-campaign with Phil, for which I’ve completed all my Hobbit figures and just need to finish off various bits of Shire scenery. The second project is a game for the club’s 2018 Open Day, part of the Siege of Minas Tirith – it turns out that I have most of the Gondor figures I need already painted, although I will use it as an excuse to paint a box of Knights of Dol Amroth which have been sitting in the pile for a while. When I was sorting through my Middle-Earth figures I came across an awful lot which I’d started but not finished – dozens, in fact – plus many other that have been based and undercoated but no more. So I’ve resolved to slowly work through these and complete as many as I can, both ones for the two main projects plus any others that take my fancy. March has been quite productive, I’ve finished eight figures (although only one of these is for the Open day game).

I’ll start with the elder race first – in the main picture above is Gil-Galad, Elven King who was slain by Sauron at the Battle of the Last Alliance (he can be briefly seen in the opening part of the Fellowship movie). To his right is Haldir, who turned up with his elves at Helm’s Deep in the Two Towers movie for no immediately obvious reason (in the book he stays firmly in Lothlorien for the duration).

Next in order of age are the Dwarves – this is Balin, a member of Thorin’s company who survived Smaug the Dragon but died in a vain attempt to retake Moria. This is the early GW version of the figure rather than the one who appears in the Hobbit movies.

These two are Murin and Drar, a pair of Dwarf adventurers who are inseparable (you can’t use one in a Dwarf army without the other). I’ve never come across any reference to them in any of Tolkein’s books, so I think they’re a purely GW invention, but nice figures nevertheless.

Moving onto the race of Men (and Women), here we have a Captain of Rohan (l). He’s acting as bodyguard to Eowyn in her Pelennor Fields/Dernhelm armour (r).

And finally, the one figure that I do need in the Open Day game – a Knight of the White Tower. He’s a Finecast resin figure (the rest are metal) and has given me no end of problems with his bent sword – I’ve tried several times to sort it out with hot water (even clamping it between two pieces of flat plastic while it cools) but I can’t seem to straighten it out.

Lord Of the Rings Moria Reinforcements.

A To-Do list update from Andy King:

A raiding party comprising 8 Goblins, 4 Giant spiders and 13 bats. The goblins are from Games Workshop, the Spiders are from Copplestone castings and the bats came from a wildlife park shop (wish I could remember where).

The standard bearer was a simple conversion of one of the sword and shield armed goblins. I cut off the sword and tidied up the hand, then drilled it to take a length of florists wire. The sword was then stuck on to the goblin’s waist. The banner came from a Games Workshop flag sheet and was fixed to another piece of wire, then secured to the upright with needle and thread, with a couple of drops of superglue to hold it in place.

I don’t claim to be a great painter, my objective is something reasonable to use on the gaming table. The goblins were block painted using Vallejo acrylics on a black undercoat, followed by Army Painter “Tone” paints of various hues.

The spiders had a dark brown basecoat followed by drybrushing lighter shades of brown. Leg segments, eyes, pincers and body spots were then added.

The bats had a black basecoat followed by dark grey and brown drybrushes, with the mouth picked out in dark red.

All then finished with Vallejo matt varnish. These almost finish off my Moria Goblin army (some smaller spiders to follow) and will mostly be used in Dragon Rampant games. Perhaps they are out scouting and came across the trail of four hobbits and some ponies seen around here recently? Mind you, if they do catch them up my money’s on the hobbits.

The Road Goes Ever On and On…

… but it does seem to reach the end eventually.

Tony F has an update on one of his To-Do list projects, completing his Scouring of the Shire hobbits which were started last year:

This only involved 12 figures, eight of which were already part-painted, so it wasn’t much of task, but it’s done at last. The final four figures were the hero hobbits, Pippin, Nine-fingered Frodo (yes, his tiny left index finger is missing), Sam and Merry, all on ponies (I already have foot versions). Pippin and Merry are wearing their uniforms as Heroes of Gondor and Rohan respectively.

In wild celebration I then went off and painted some elves – Elrond Half-Elven and his sons Elladan and Elrohir (who don’t get a look-in at all in the films, but in the book were present at the climactic battle at the Black Gate). Master Elrond in his Last Alliance armour is a really nice figure – I’m not quite so sold on the poses of the two junior elves, who are a bit two-dimensional, but the sculpting is nice.