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.

The Wars of the Roses

Stephen updates his progress on his Yorkists (or Lancastrians, I don’t think he’s made up his mind).

Along with Jeremey I have been popping away at some 15mm Wars of the Roses for games of Sword & Spear.
I made a good start at the beginning of the year then I lost my mojo for painting these. However, I’ve got my mojo back and now they find themselves back on the painting desk.

The majority of the figures are by Essex Miniatures. The plate armoured men-at-arms are Peter Pig, as are the cavalry (not painted yet). I chose to base mine on Sword & Spear size bases (which are multiples of WRG/DBA bases) rather than small elements because I don’t enjoy playing DBA or FoG so it made sense to base them on the necessary size bases to avoid fiddling about with lots of small bases. That means they are also compatible with Armati, which is another set of ancient rules I enjoy (though not played for yonks), and also Impetus.

The flags are generic and not specific to any noble families from the period. These are just for decoration. I decided to make them generic so it didn’t tie the army down to anything specific and would give more flexibility. My intention is to give the commanders the actual flags of the nobles who fought. I haven’t yet decided whether to make a command base for each of the noblemen or whether to do like Jeremey has done with his and make them removable.

Pack it in Donkey!

Andy K tries to pin the tail on his donkey, and ends up pinning its leg instead !

I ran a game a Milton Hundred recently where I needed to give the players the option of taking some pack animals, I had 5 pack donkeys ready, but had another three in the metal mountain, so decided to paint them up. These will be part of my French in Mexico collection.

The figures are from Wargames Foundry, part of the Darkest Africa Range.

As I cleaned up the models prior to painting I found that one of the donkeys was a miscast, part of a rear leg was incomplete. I stuck a small length of wire between the remaining parts of the leg with superglue, and once dried added polystyrene filler to build up the leg. Once the filler had thoroughly dried off I filed it into shape before undercoating the donkeys and the packs matt black.

The donkeys were painted using Vallejo acrylics, some flock added to the bases and matt varnished.

Dark Age Warriors

Andy K gets to grips with his inner beast…

I needed another eight figures for a Dux Bellorum game at the club recently, so dug into my boxes of Gripping Beast plastics for suitable figures. I decided to split them half and half, four armed with spears and the rest with sword or axe. These figures are made up of four parts: the body including left arm, right arm with a number of weapon options, head and shield.

They were assembled and painted these up in about a week; black undercoat, followed by shades of grey and brown for the tunics and trousers. A variety of hair colours were used. The paints are mostly Vallejo acrylics, with the odd bottle of Army Painter used. Once dry the figures were treated with appropriate shading paints from Army Painter.

The shields were painted white, and Little Big Man Studios transfers applied. All then given a coat of matt varnish

Strapping Jocks

John Lambert brings us up to date on his Scots SAGA warband

I’d bought a Gripping Beast 4 point Warband over a year ago. With the advent of Saga Version 2, I had the incentive to get them table top ready. I added one unit of Levy archers and a third unit of warriors to bulk it out to 6 points and out of 45 figures I only had 3 duplicates – well done Gripping Beast!. I replaced the Warlord with the Welsh Warlord on foot and used wire spears in place of the white metal ones supplied to ward off curious fingers.

I used Artist’s acrylic throughout ensuring that any intense pigments were dulled down to colour matches I had for Dark Age dyes and employed a three shade system that these figures suit. The figures themselves had plenty of flat surfaces on cloaks that would need the plaid treatment so once the basic figures were done, I sprayed with matt polyurethane to apply the plaid using a lining brush.

Levy Archers.
I decided that these would be the Warlord’s Estate workers so would have a shared colour palette – Brown, Yellow, Grey, Green, Blue.

Warriors
These would have a more varied palette and I decided to try wet blending on the shields to get a colour gradient which worked well. For shield designs, I chose simple crosses or Pictish designs.

Hearthguard
These would have more plaid cloth and more red on the clothing. I decided that they would have black shields with a white motif to match the Warlord.

Warlord
I seem to remember a doughty character in Macbeth called Lennox, well this would be my Warlord. Another trip to the Memory Bank reminded me of Bobby Lennox so he had to be kitted out in Green and White. For the cuirass, I used gunmetal/Silver and a thin coat of silver white to highlight. I added a dark purple cloak with yellow plaid. A black shield with Stags head motif completed the figure.

Basing
I added filler and stones to the base before undercoating the figures. When the figure was complete, I started the bases with black all over. I then drybrushed mid grey and then a light grey to pick out stones and boulders. I wanted a dark peaty soil with granite showing through and then the boulders. I then dry brushed the areas I was going to apply static grass in mid then light brown. I then applied Static grass in two shades.

Heather and grass tufts
To make the heather clumps, I used a piece of black pan scourer from B & Q, which I ripped open to make clumps which I attached to greaseproof paper with PVA. I drybrushed the surface with PVA and then sprinkled Heather flock lightly on the surface. Once dry and fixed with sealant spray, I could peel these off and attach to the bases. I bought some 6mm forest green static grass for the tufts. I dropped blobs of PVA onto Greaseproof and then dropped the Static grass on top. I pushed this into a clump as the PVA dried then fixed with sealant before peeling off and fixing to the base.

Gaslands Build – The Lost Prophet

John Lambert takes us on a bus ride…

One vehicle missing from my Gaslands inventory was a bus. I found a reasonably priced Airport Coach in our local ASDA and started to plan the build. I envisaged a political “Battlebus” that I would turn into a real battle bus. From the deep memory bank I remembered Clint Eastwood in “Gauntlet” where he drives a witness to court in a coach equipped with an improvised armoured driving position. He wins through but the coach is riddled with bullets so it had to feature that. I wanted a massive engine to power it and found the ideal unit in Hot Wheels “Te’ed off”. The coach came apart easily, I cut up the interior to fit the engine and armoured the seat, then drilled bullet holes in the windscreen and side windows. I then put it all together painted it red and scuffed up the paint with a pan scourer, then added the slogans on the sides. I built it for a friend to introduce him to the game. There’s plenty of scope to add more equipment. There’s two hatches, I could use to hide weapons, a minigun perhaps but the standard bus build is quite well armed, I could fit a turret on the roof or a ram to the front.

Whither Shall I Wander

We had a game of Lord of The Rings Battle Game on Saturday and Tony had made some terrain pieces that just add that little bit extra to a games table.

So with that in mind, and a wet and miserable Sunday to fill, I decided to make one as well. Only I was a little bit more ambitious. Rather than just a sign post on its own I decided to make it a bit more comprehensive and to theme it to a medieval setting since road junctions in medieval times were important boundaries and points for outsiders.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any work-in-progress shots, but it was surprisingly quick to make. I thought it would draw out over several days. But no. Got it all done in a day!

The gibbet cage was made from styrene strip. It was a straightforward build, but fiddly whilst waiting for the glue to dry. The posts were made from balsa and the stones around the base made from milliput. Most of the time was spent waiting for the milliput to set – put it in the boiler cupboard where it’s warm and then off to Sainsburys to do the shopping whilst it cures. The water trough and parish boundary stone were also made from milliput.

Painting was simple as well. Both wood and stone were from the same colours – a mix of khaki and medium grey. But more medium grey in the stone and more khaki in the wood. I decided to keep the destinations on the signpost generic. Then add some ballast on the base, then add some static grass. And finish off with some clump foliage. The water in the trough is from epoxy resin (the Wickes’ home brand one is nice and cheap). The skull was from GW’s excellent (and splendidly OTT) ‘Box Of Skulls’.

And there we have it – a signpost with gibbet cage, boundary marker, and water trough for tired animals.

Gaslands Monster Truck Build

John Lambert shows us his latest Gaslands build

I’d always wanted to build a chrome Monster Truck after I’d seen ‘Fury Road’ so this is how I did it. The build also coincides with the Gaslands TX2 supplement which includes details of new weapons.
From this:

To the finished article at the top of the page.

Truck body
Firstly, I drilled out the rivets on the Pickup Truck to separate the components. The bonnet air inlet on the truck is a bit naff so this was removed and replaced with a resin part. I added mesh for the windows and windscreen and built a weapon mount from plastic tubing and plastic strapping. I put it all back together, sprayed with Humbrol chrome and dry brushed Burnt Sienna as rust. Job done.

Chassis
I drilled out rivets to separate the body and cut down the chassis to the top of the springs and checked the fit. I toned down the garish chrome on the original, sprayed the suspension parts chrome and black washed over to pick out the detail on the springs which is really good.

Harpoon Gun
I wanted this to be like an old whaling gun. I built it from plastic rod, tube and plastic card. I added a gunner and a 28mm wire spear cut down made an ideal. I painted the harpoon dark grey and dry brushed gunmetal.

War Rig

John Lambert shows off his Gaslands mean machine

Here’s My War Rig ready for the Christmas Gaslands Game! I’m pleased with how it came out and here’s how I did it. I made it from a Tonka Articulated Lorry, which comes with a load of crates or plastic pipes.

Tractor Unit
I drilled out the rivets connecting cab to chassis. I covered the yellow cab with paint stripper and the next morning it was ready to go. I drilled a hole in the bonnet for the air intake, then added a new bonnet. The air intake was made from Plastic tube and plasticard. I ditched the plastic exhausts and replaced with aluminium tubing. Over the front wheel arches, I added armoured covers from platic strapping and secured them with lengths of chain. I added mesh for the windows and the radiator.
For the Chassis, I added spikes to the wheels using carpet tacks then used cross stitch mesh for the panels covering the rear wheels. For the ram, I built two ‘I’ section girders out of the front to support the ram fashioned from 30 thou plasticard.

Trailer Unit
Fr the chassis, I added spikes and armour as for the tractor unit. For the rear ram, I used an old cartridge from a razor which I covered with plastic strapping armour. I added a mesh surround for a lower fighting platform.

I used plastic waste pipe for the tank, scribing plastic circles for the ends and added strips around the pipe with 20 thou plastic card. I added a ladder from the cross stitch mesh and added details on the rear to simulate fuel unloading equipment.

I built the fighting top using Evergreen rods and girder sections and the front and back panels were from the plasticard I’d used for the tank ends. I covered the floor with panels from plastic strapping added randomly. The Gatling gun was scratchbuilt using plastic rod and tube and the crew figure was one I’d got from Marcus. I finished off the trailer with wire cut from mesh.

Finishing Off
I followed a method shown on U Tube by ‘Vengeful Raider’ . I sprayed Matt Black then applied several very thin coats of dark grey paint. The next step was a dry brush of Gun Metal followed by a dark brown wash. Finally I applied Matt black using a sponge. This gave a good beaten up look and helped break down the large surfaces of the tank and cab. I added a thin brown wash over the chrome exhaust system. For the chequer plate armour, I started with thin layers of red brown followed by a gunmetal drybrush. For the chassis armour, I dry brushed red brown and then Yellow Ochre for the rust. Finally, I painted on the slogans, though I might add some flags later.

Just got to think of a name, I’d thought of ‘The Ark of Redemption’ or ‘Destiny’s Child’.

That’s the end, and it will be for you if you suffer a Piledriver attack from this beast.

Painting 6mm Figures

We have a 6mm Napoleonic game at the club tomorrow and Mark has added a Brigade to his French Army for the occasion.

6mm figures are ideal for large battles, but many people think they must be difficult to paint – like anything it is easy if you follow some simple rules and don’t make the mistake of trying to paint them like larger figures.  Here is a quick guide on how.

The figures are 1/300 scale Heroics and Ros and the units are the 4th and 46th Line Regiments comprising GB Dalesme’s Brigade, belonging to GD Carra St. Cyr’s Division of the French 4th Army Corps in May 1809 as well as the General’s of GD St.Hilaire’s Division.

Here are the 2 packs of French Fusiliers (FN26), half a pack of French Voltigeurs (FN4), half a pack of French Grenadiers (FN27) and some assorted generals (from FN 17 and AN8) that need to be painted, straight out of the packs.

It always pays to rinse the figures in warm soapy water before starting to get rid of any mould grease, then work round the edges of the figures with a sharp hobby knife to get rid of flash and any casting mismatches.  There is some surgery on the general staff figures to removed unwanted plumes, marshal’s batons, etc, as they were all to be used as French generals.  The figures date back to when most people painted their flags and the old style metal flags need removing – good flags really do make or break 6mm figures, so this is worth your time – don’t skimp and put paper flags round the metal – the results don’t look good.  Small nail clippers are a good tool to nibble the flag off the flagpole.  Try to avoid the eagles, but you can always glue them back on with superglue if they break off!

FIRST TIP – Now base the figures, as they are easier to paint this way.  The bases are just mounting card with steel paper on the bottom (this comes in strips and is glue backed).  The infantry are on a 1″x.5″ base for our house rules, four bases to a battalion.  One battalion is on an open order base (combined Voltigeurs of the Brigade) and this uses a 1.5″ base.  There is one combined battalion of Grenadiers and four Battalions of Fusiliers.

SECOND TIP – Now undercoat all over with a black undercoat, making sure that every cranny is filled.  You can use spray, but for this size an old brush can be quicker and less messy.  DON’T USE WHITE FOR UNDERCOAT – if you do you give yourself a massive painting headache trying to cover the undercoat and then shade the figure to avoid it looking like a paint blob – this a technique for bigger figures!  Your black undercoat on 6mm means you have already painted anything black on the figure and you have already shaded it – don’t worry that all you have at this stage is a load of black blobs:

THIRD TIP – It is essential on 6mm to use lighter shades than the colours you are depicting.  This is partly to offset the black undercoat and partly to ensure the colour looks right at a distance.  Your eye perceives small objects as darker than they really are.  If you use dark ‘correct’ shades, all of the figures will simply look like near black blobs when you have finished.

There are three key colours we now need to add.  First Dark Blue for the coats and some of the horse furniture.  Citadel Ultramarines Blue was used, which is a middish blue pigment.  When you paint the coat use a fairly small brush (for these a 101 was used).  Work down the line painting the same feature on each base.  From the front do a stroke down the left arms of all figures, then the same for the right arm, shoulder to hand (don’t worry about paint getting on the hands).  Do another stroke to join these up under the chin, then fill in the lower chest, leaving the black undercoat showing in the crevices between the chest and arms.  Repeat round the back.  The horse furniture was also painted now (light crimson for the French generals, Vallejo Carmine was used) again don’t paint right up to the next colour – leave black showing around the furniture:

Second main colour is white (and white is – well white, Humbrol white here), for the trousers or breeches (both were used, so for a bit of variety I have done one regiment in each here), as well as coat lapels, which are a prominent feature on French line infantry.  Paint up the leg from above the footwear (all left legs from the front, all right legs, then reverse and do the back – a final tidy up to join the legs at the front.  Breeches are best done with a horizontal stroke around the leg as far down as the knee.  Leave some black showing between legwear and coat.  A simple stroke down the middle of the chest for the lapels.  Also touch in the drumskin on drummers.  To make the command figures stand out a bit better white scabbard and drum supports have been added, but you can omit this!   Regimental plumes and pompoms were also done at this point (a simple dob on the pompom):

Now for the last main colour; red/scarlet.  Before doing this the Voltigeurs plumes and epaulettes were painted (both regiments used green plumes with red tips and green epaulettes for their voltigeurs at this time) in Citadel Goblin Green – another strong middle shade.  Humbrol scarlet is used for the red here, which is a nice bright shade.  Paint a red line above each hand for the cuffs (again don’t worry if the paint slops onto the hand).  Then paint the grenadiers plumes and a dob on each shoulder for the prominent epaulettes.  A dob of red added to finish the Voltigeur plumes and the fusilier plumes are also quickly dabbed in (one base each of dark green, sky blue, light orange and violet for each battalion):

You are nearly there now!  Paint the back of the rawhide knapsack with leather – leave the sides black (this is Humbrol Leather) then a stroke horizontally along the back and a touch in from the front on each end of any grey you have to hand for the rolled greatcoat on top of it (shades varied enormously for this item)  Brass for the drum body and Voltigeur horns.  Masses of gold lace to finish the generals (worth taking some time over these as they are few in number) and the eagle on the flagpoles.  Optional extras are a small dob of brass for the helmet plate at the front and the visible sword hilts on the voltigeurs, command figures and grenadiers.  Senior generals horses are painted white with a black bridle.  The colour makes them easy to pick out.  Regimental command horses are painted leather and brigadier’s horses left black.  You can leave the underside of the horse as well as the mane and tail black for contrast, a few white flashes on the noses of some of the horses also make a lot of difference.

Lastly a stroke of silver along the top of each musket and any bayonet and drawn swords all over.  Leave the rest of the musket black (it really is not worth using brown for the woodwork – the black keeps it looking thin in scale and most musket wood was in any case quite dark, but you can paint the body brown first if you really want to).

Finally add a dob of flesh on each hand and a stroke of flesh across the face to finish the figure.  Don’t overdo the face and leave black around it.

Finally finish with an overall coat of matt varnish to protect the figures from handling (I use Vallejo which sets with a good clear finish):

FOURTH TIP – Don’t skimp on basing, as bad basing really ruins any figures and especially 6mm – you would be better off cutting corners on the figure painting.  Flock also is not good with 6mm – it tends to make it look like the figures are moving through a patch of dense scrub!  These figures are finished with Basetex.  DON’T USE TOO DARK A GREEN.  If you do it will kill the figure painting.  Use a light spring green for both the basing and the terrain.  Basetex green is way too dark for 6mm, so a mix of about half and half green and sand is used here, stored in a sealable sandwich box.

First work the green around the base of each figure with a small old brush:

Now use sand to cover the bases (and the sides).  A cocktail stick works well to pick up and poke the Basetex into place.  Make sure you ‘bury’ the sides of each figure base.  Some printed labels are added at this stage for the generals:

Once dry use a really old big brush with a few bristle left to work over the top of the sand with your light green mix – working quickly using a mixtures of dabs and strokes and leaving the sand showing through the green:

That just leaves the flags, which really finish off each unit.  The ones used here are adapted from those available free online from Warflag, reduced to around 20% size.  Print these on a printer using pigment (not inkjet ink which will run if it gets damp).  These were printed on an Epson printer as all Epson printers use pigment based cartridges.  Use thin 80g/m paper.  The flags are glued with simple PVA, which lets you work with the flag to line up the sides before it sets, then given a ‘crinkle’ to give the flag some life before the glue sets (easier with thin paper).  A pair of tweezers is useful to ‘pinch’ the flag around the pole.  Once dry it is well worth running round the edges of the flag with a matching colour to get rid of the ‘white edge’ effect – use a little thinned paint for this.  Finally flag poles are finished in a dark blue, covering up any glue stains.

Here is the end result:

Each battalion sits on a magnetic sheet (which is why the bases have steel paper on their bottom).  The four bases on each sheet can be re-arranged for the required formation (those above are in column).  Finally the whole lot sit on a brigade manoeuvre base (8″x3″), which is simply a sheet of steel paper with some Woodland Scenics Spring Green mat stuck on top.  This allows the brigade to be quickly moved until it gets into contact.