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Friday, 25 October 2019

Orctober Fest 2019

I painted some orcs.

I realised that I only had two sets of orcs- my Goblinoids set which live in their nice display cabinet and my Heroquest orcs. What I needed was some gaming orcs!

Sadly prices of classic Citadel orcs seem to have gone up even more than when i was doing the Combat card thing a few years back. In fact I don't think I could have begun to do that project with today's eBay prices for these chaps. There must be thousands of them around, I guess people just love them and hang on to them. I did have a couple kicking around and managed to pick up a few broken models but it seemed that the best way forward would, like with my undead, be to find old-school still-in-production miniatures. This seemed quite difficult. Most of the available orcs were knock-off red era cartoony without being anything like as well sculpted. Those that caught the look exactly (like Knightmare Miniatures' Kev Adams-sculpted, ex Crooked Claw) are still too pricey for me to get more than a small warband's worth from, I may as well get the classic Citadel ones.

In the end I decided that rather than try and capture the Citadel look I should go for another orcy classic, Angus McBride's LotR illustrations. This was especially relevant as I've just got back into playing the ICE Middle Earth CCG and GW LotR skirmish game again.

Many years back I bought some Wargames Factory plastics to make an Angus McBride orc force, but they were really too spindly in my view to do the job well. For this attempt at an orcy rabble I turned to Alternative Armies, Ral Partha Europe, Denizen Miniatures (Paul Strivens goblins) and a Westfalia goblin that fitted nicely with the Citadel Monster Starter Set I'd wanted to paint for a while.

I think they turned out as a nice orcish rabble.

This is all I've managed for Orctober, I have another 40-ish orcs waiting to go (archers and boar riders mostly) but time is in rather short supply at the moment. Nor are these strictly finished, there are some details left to pick out and a couple of broken weapons still to fix. I want to put a big banner on the Monster Starter Set ogre. They'll do as my Orctober contribution though. :)

The orcs (and goblins) on the right are based on 20mm slottas and will probably count in WH as goblins but to my mind they are all orcs. After all, Tolkien didn't draw a clear distinction and there are clearly orcs and goblins of various sizes in his writings.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

All along the hedgerow...


One of the things that bothers me about modular scenery is how visible the joins can be, especially with straight edges. I've attempted to put extra flock along the sides of mine to blur the seams but with only limited success. I decided what I really needed was some hedgerows and ditches to bridge the joins and soften the straight lines. 

The base for these modules is 15mm thick MDF which sits between the two modules, ensuring that the hedgerows are fixed in place and giving me a deep area to carve ditches and plug trees into. To break up the resulting grid look I made the hedge modules different widths so that the base boards would become offset from one another.

Here's a photodump of the 11 modules I ended up building. Scroll on down for some close-ups and look at the materials used.

Here's a selection of the ground cover used on the modules. I've tried to mix up the textures a bit to give a wild look and indicate a wealth of different plants growing over the terrain. Because I was keen to crack on I haven't done a step-by-step photo guide but the basic process is as follows:

After shaping the base board and cutting any ditches with a router and dremel I applied a generous dose of readymix filler to each module. Plaster cast rocks from rock moulds, cat litter and resin casts of polystyrene stones I carved were set into this and more filler applied to blend them together.

The whole module was sprayed black, misted with a green spray then drybrushed with various greys and browns. Pigmented epoxy resin (I use Easy Compsites GlassCast) was poured into the ditches, then Woodland Scenics grasses were pushed into the wet resin to give clumps of reeds. A small amount of leaf litter was scattered onto the surface to suggest fallen leaves floating in the muddy water.

A base layer mix of black tea, green tea and coffee grounds was applied over the whole module, then a blend of Model Tree Shop foam scatters (C11, C5 and C6) were sprinkled on top. When dry the whole thing was given a liberal dose of diluted PVA. the sponge scatter soaks it up and dries solid whilst retaining its grassy look. I also sprinkled Model tree Shop static grass on whilst the dilute PVA was drying to give an additional texture and to provide shading around the hedgerows. The path areas and patches under trees were left bare of sponge scatter but had leaf litter (green tea mostly) and fine sand sprinkled on. A sparse sprinkling of pink and red flock (leftover from some cheap Chinese model trees...) gives an indication of flowers.

 The dry stone walls are resin casts of walls I built from fuller's earth cat litter.

The hurdle fencing was created from aluminium wire, brushed with readymix filler for texture.

The big trees are twisted wire, covered with a thick mix of powder filler, paint and PVA. The trunks were then drybrushed with greens and greys. The foliage is lichen glued in place with PVA, painted over with diluted PVA and sprinkled with first Model Tree Shop C11 medium sponge scatter (to give shadow) then more lightly with Model Tree Shop C15 fine sponge scatter highlights.

The hedgerows are a mix of lichen, Model Scenery Supplies lump foliage (similar to Woodland Scenics olive underbrush but more solid), Javis tree foliage (which has an excellent two-tone look giving shades and highlights all together) and cheap Chinese trees. With the trees I sprayed them with a dull green before attaching them (they were too garish before) and gave them the same highlight treatment as the big trees with PVA and Model Tree Shop C15 sponge scatter.

Hope that's helpful to somebody. I'll try and take (any!) more step-by-step photos next time and will get some pics of a full set up soon.

Lord of the Rings anybody?


Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Exciting cartoon times ahead!

Familiar to anyone?
How about...?
If you were quite young in the 80s and 90s you may remember these guys from one of my favourite kids cartoons, The Dreamstone. Airing in 1990 and running for four series, The Dreamstone is one of those engrossing fantasy worlds with rich characters and dark undertones. The very first episode opens with Zordrak, the Lord of Nightmares (the big dragony bloke in the top picture) feeding the captain of his army to the monstrous Fraznats that live in a pit by his throne.

What really makes the cartoon stand out in my view is that it is really about the bad guys, specifically the officious Sergeant Blob and his reluctant wingmen Frizz and Nug. Forced by their giant master to undertake missions to steal the ever-desired Dreamstone from the cutesy land of dreams, their life is made dangerous by the half-baked inventions of mad genius Urpgor. The overriding feeling is that they'd all rather be fishing in the sea of despair and leaving the goody-goodies well alone.

Just over a yar ago I had the mad idea of sculpting a couple of these characters and sending them to Martin Gates, the director of the production company that created The Dreamstone. After a long period of waiting for companies on either side of the world to talk to each other (British production company, Canadian merchandising, German rights-holders...) I'm excited to say that this is now happening:

The next few months will see a lot of sculpting! The plan is to Kickstart (or other crowd-funder) the range in March and aim for a September release to coincide with the 30th anniversary. There'll also be a simple miniatures game to accompany it which will likely be a freebie for crowd-funder backers. I'll post updates here and on the Facebook page as I have them.

Fimm McCool's

Fimm McCool's