The last couple of weeks has been a bit of a frenzy of hobby comings and goings as I wind down various projects and fire new ones up at the same time. Starting with what’s been happening on the painting front, I’ve been reviewing my Lord of the Rings Dwarf warbands and looking at how the newer and older miniatures compare. It’s been well over a decade since the first Games Workshop plastic Dwarf Warriors were released for Lord of the Rings and it would be unrealistic to expect the newer ‘Hobbit’ era Erebor Dwarves to integrate without obvious differences. The miniatures themselves haven’t just moved on, clearly my painting isn’t the same as it was ten years ago, my eyesight certainly isn’t for one!
Regardless of the discrepancies though I’m keen to expand my original Erebor Dwarves with The Hobbits current offerings so earlier in the year I added a box of the awesomely armoured Grim Hammers and the more mixed armoured Warriors of Erebor. In an attempt to soften the impact I chose a couple of palette themes from my original Warriors in red leather and green to replicate in the more up to date versions. These were influenced by the colours found in Thorin’s party and later expanded to include a slate blue. Mixing up the cloth colours this way helps break up any uniformity and disguise differences in the level of detail or scale. It’s also in my opinion more canonical with how Tolkien describes the Dwarves in his writing with brightly coloured hoods and tunics. That was all earlier in year however, now the challenge was to repeat the entire process in reverse with a set of the old ‘LotR’ Dwarf Rangers painted using the expanded ‘Hobbit’ palette. Confused? Hopefully all will become clear shortly (pun unintended!)
Beginning with the skin and flesh tones first I tried to avoid the overly ruddy complexion often associated with Fantasy Dwarves and kept the palette warm to neautral. I then chose three beard colours which I affectionately call Balin, Bombur and Kili (for their colours, not shape of course).
The rest was then just working my way through the various layers of kit to combine the red, green and blue garments in as complementary a way as possible. To get some element of uniformity however trousers and boots were all painted with the same palette. The other linking similarity is in the weapons and the base texture colours.
Reds with greens, blues with browns and other combinations thereof. You do end up with a surprisingly colourful Warband, but in the case of the Dwarves I don’t really mind that. They still need a couple of minor finishing touches before varnishing and adding base garnishing, but I’m really quite satisfied how these six have turned out and how well they integrate into the overall Dwarf amalgam that is my Erebor collection.
Of course, there are still another eighteen to go as I bought them back in the day when there were twenty-four to a box and you didn’t need to sell a kidney to purchase one, but they didn’t take that long to do and I much prefer to work on six at a time. It’s a nice manageable number and doesn’t become a chore. The other task I’m doing in parallel is picking out the first warriors I painted years ago and touching them up with the colours I’m using now. These are not re-paints, just tune-ups. So for example beards are being given a shade and re-highlight to better match the techniques I use now. Leather armour is re-highlighted and glazed to help it match the richer red you find on Balin or the blue of Thorin. They are subtle changes but all help make the transition between old a new much smoother.
In addition to the Dwarves above, I’ve also been pressing on with the Deadzone Factions and the last handful of Enforcers. those are on the painting table currently. However, it’s gaming aids that are the next to be added to the finished pile as I took an hour or so out over last weekend to paint up a set of resin item crates. These were an optional add-on as part of the Kickstarter and were produced by Antenocitis Workshop for Mantic to replace the card item tokens in the boxed set. As items are a big part of the game I really liked the idea of having a proper modelled set to deploy onto the battlefield. The set includes 8 crates and all 16 items tokens in the form of ‘lids’, so you can actually open them up to reveal the hidden item inside. I think it’s a great idea and just adds another layer of fun interaction to the game. I would love to see Mantic do something similar with the Dungeon Saga Kickstarter if there are similar item/loot mechanisms in the advanced game.
The crates themselves were just given a quick coat of Yellow Ochre with the airbrush, followed by a thin wash of sepia and a light drybrush of beige. A little chipping with a dark flesh finished the effect and then I gave them a good coat of Klear to protect them during handling. This is especially important for the lids/tokens themselves as they are going to get a lot of shuffling for a start.
Leaving aside the painting, it’s also been a bad couple of weeks for the wallet and this years hobby budget restraint. The latter it’s safe to say is not only completely broken, it has also had a stake driven through it, been surrounded in garlic and buried in the garden. R.I.P 2014 hobby budget, you tried your best but were found wanting. Wanting more that is. between the Infinity starter set, the new Hawk Wargames plastics, various hobby materials (I’ll come onto those in a minute!), Mantic’s Dungeon Saga Kickstarter and Heresy Miniatures Kickstarter I may need to go into rehab for the rest of the year. It has been an insane month or two for seriously awesome hobby releases and those are just the ones that personally appeal to me. This year has almost been a bit overwhelming with the amount of hobby goodness that’s been quite literally flooding out every month and I haven’t even mentioned Fantasy Flight Games two new Star Wars announcements in Armada and Imperial Assault. Oh wait, I just did.
Finally, if you follow my Google+ page you may have already seen a couple of new tools arrived in the week in the form of a replacement airbrush for my trust Flex, which is starting to show the signs of solvent abuse. I’m going to relegate it to priming and varnishing duty to stretch out its life a bit more, so painting duty is being picked up by a Harder & Steenbeck Evolution instead. The medium needle on the Silverline copes better with heavier body paints which I would normally have to thin a lot to pull through the Iwata. That brings me neatly onto the last of this weeks confessions…
Yup, that’s a complete set of Vallejo’s new Game Air acrylics plus ancillaries. In my defence, they really are excellent for both airbrush and brushing by hand so aren’t intended to augment my current VGC set, but replace them entirely. Oh, I just realised there is one more teensy purchase I didn’t mention, but I think that’s enough confessions for one post so it will have to wait until a later date when they have arrived.
Coffee break over, back into the workshop.