Sunday, 31 January 2016

Slannuary! / First Miniatures Month!

So, back at the end of December there was some discussion on the Oldhammer Community fb page about what the theme for January should be (building on the success and popularity of Deadcember and the more established Orctober). A couple of suggestions came forward that seemed to stick – Slannuary and Slaanuary – one being concerned with the anthropomorphic frogs of Oldhammer fame the Slann, and their allies such as Pygmies from WFB3, or the Lizardmen that became prevalent in WFB4/5, and the other being concerned with the androgynous, gender bending, kinks, freaks and pervs that worship the Prince/ss of Pleasure him/herself, your friend and mine, our lord and master, Slaanesh!

Of these two themes I’ve seen a fair few Slaaneshi minis being posted, although not explicitly as part of Slaanuary. I’m not sure I’ve seen any Slann or their allies posted for Slannuary… but that doesn’t matter in the slightest, because it seems like another theme has taken hold stemming from discussions on the Oldhammer forum itself, and/or a few leading Oldhammer blogs, and that is First Miniatures Month!

There have been some great posts about what people’s first ever miniatures were, and what happened to them, and as a theme it is right on the money in terms of what seems to attract so many of us to the Oldhammer Community.

I’m lucky enough to still have a very small number of my first RTB01 Space Marines, although they have since been re-painted and are difficult to track in amongst my various squads of Veteran Fire Angels and Chaos Renegades. I’ve also still got my original WFB4 box set, which I now realise must have been a very early purchase even if most of my efforts at the time went into collecting WH40k models, and then losing them again.

So, I decided to combine two of these themes with a slow burning project I have been working on since I picked up my paints again last summer, which is to go back and finish painting the small fantasy regiments that I’d bought in the mid to late 90s. I can’t remember what the exact motivation was to buy several of the small plastic regiments boxes, specifically ones that did not fit with my existing High Elf army – I suspect it was a combination of wanting some allies, some additional bad guys that might form the basis of a small ‘axis of evil’ type force, and the notion of using them in role play games of various descriptions. Whatever the reason, they were purchased but I didn’t have much motivation to paint them myself. I was more bothered about getting my regiments of High Elves finished, so one Summer day circa. 1995/6 when my mates were all hanging around my house underage drinking and smoking as usual, we decided to break out the paints and shared round the minis to anyone who was interested.

AVP Shaun's Braveheart Elves - the photo is deliberatley blurred to simulate Shauns vision the day he painted them.
AVP Shaun was probably the most established painter there that day, and my memory is that he knocked out 5 out of 8 Braveheart elves to a basic gaming standard just that afternoon, almost certainly whilst pissed on cider. I remember going back to them a few months later and finishing them off in the same style, or as close to it as possible, as I wanted to have a small unit of Wood Elf allies and his set of models were the closest to being finished. Clarkeemon, maker and breaker of RPG campaigns extraordinaire!, settled on some big hatted Chaos Dorfs. His style was fair less accurate than some of the others, but he was also one of the more naturally artistic among us, and without a background in Warhammer figure painting to curtail him he just went for it in his own way and came up with something that looked really effective and more individualistic whilst still keeping them looking like a regiment. I think he came back the next day to carry on working on them as he managed to finish, or half finish, about half of them.

Clarkeemon's Big Hatted Chaos Dorfs - sans tobacco-flock.

When I came back to these some 20 years later in the autumn of last year, around the same time I was mass painting 3rd and 4th Editon Goblins and wanted a break but to still produce something that would potentially be useful as an ally force, I found it much easier to figure out what Clarkeemon had been up to. Inks! Inks mixed and muddied with each other, and in some places curdled in with the still drying paint. Inks over undercoat or even barely primed grey plastic in some cases, and yet it somehow worked overall to create a believable coal smoked smeared Chaos Dwarf to basic gaming standard. I won't thank him for the innovation of using tobacco stuck to the base with green paint as an alternative to flock, but despite that particular unpleasant experiment they were probably the best models produced on the day. Bar one...

Mole was another genuine arty type, it was his best subject at school and he also approached miniature painting in a different way to what I used to. He had picked a Lizard Man Saurus and stated quite clearly from the outset that he wanted to produce a slick and shiny, frog like skin texture. This he did by mixing various shades of green and much smaller amounts of blue, thinning them down with water and applying multiple layers of each, and then going back over with Ork Flesh Wash. He certainly achieved the shiny looking skin he was after and although I always felt it lost some of the definition of the skin pattering in the model under so may layers I've always liked the effect. He chose a striking red and blue combination for the loin cloth and wrist band details, and finished with gold jewelry. The bone pick weapon he carefully shaded with flesh wash over Bleached Bone, again for a realistic look. Looking back now it was still a very basic paint job (although I hasten to add my own painting skills have only recently caught up!), but what blew me away was the way Mole had never painted a model before, but stated so clearly what he was going to do before he even picked up a brush and then just did it with such a lack of fear of failure. I realised then that my paranoia about ruining models with bad paint jobs like I had when I was 12 was leading me to ruin models with bad paint jobs on a regular basis as I was not really willing to go any further than base colours and occasional dry brushing. It is a lesson I have come back to when re-examining Mole's painted Lizard Man and finsihing off the other 7 of his brood brothers.

Mole's shiny-frog Lizardman can be seen on the right of the picture - the others have just had their base coat, first dry brush and ink.
I decided not to emulate the shiny Frog look, but keep all the rest of the colour scheme, including trying to work some blue into the base green colour for the scales. I brought these up with more acidic tones of Striking Scorpion Green and Bad Moon Yellow before bringing it back down and reintroducing the tones from the base colour with blue ink, then building them up ag... ah you know how this works.

Claiban Green Base, Striking Scorpion Green dry brush, Blue Tone ink wash
The skin has had the second dry brush and details are being added
Detail of the three different finishes on the weapons
I enjoyed the variation of the weapons in this set of models and the shield designs were good fun and aid the basically skilled painter in a reasonable hurry (i.e. Me). I copied Mole's colour scheme for the bone pick and used the same method to paint the gilded blades of the axes and sickles as I did for the shields (Snake Bite Leather base coat and then a healthy going over with almost completely deceased Shining Gold from one of those pots with the awful black flip lids - I've bought myself some new stuff now), but then went for an obsidian look (Chaos Black with Shadow Grew highlights) for the other picks which had a flint or other stone like appearance to me, and I'm pleased with how they turned out.

The finished unit - it felt really good to complete something that was started nearly 20 years ago!

Lizardmen Occupy the Temple of the Great God Polo y Styrene (God of chicken and poor quality modelling materials)
This temple is like a 1960s Dr Who set - you can literally see the damaged polystyrene backdrop and nobody gives a shit.
Going back and painting these models, and the Chaos Dorfs from late last year, and the Empire Halbediers that will feature in another post, has been a really satisfying experience. Both as a vindication of my policy of not getting rid of my old models through all the years when I wasn't playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and not really using minis in my D&D games, and my promise that I would one day finish off painting the regiments that people started that day, in the styles that they had chosen. But it was ore than that. I was surprised how vividly I could remember bits of that day some 20 years ago. The memories that were conjured up of this strange moment where a bunch of fairly well rounded and mischievious 16 year olds all sat pretty quietly with the stereo on for the afternoon and painted models brought a real smile to my face, and I can't wait to use those units in battle against AVP Shaun's newly painted and steadily growing Undead army soon!

Big hatted Chaos Dorfs occupy the Lizardman Temple
I know the Big Hats are contraversial, but I've always found the Muscovite look interesting. I think they work well as grumpy looking guards.

No comments:

Post a Comment