Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Dark Elf Army Takes Shape

Its been too long since I last posted an update of my painting work. Nearly a month... more you say? Well, works been firing on all cylinders so I have some excuse - getting up at 4-4.30am is pretty arduous!

Dark Elf Warriors - mix up 1

I promised in an earlier post that I'd try and grab a pic of the old Mengil's Manflayers mixed up with my other Dark Elf warriors. I kept the command groups the same, just splitting the male and female Mengil troops evenly and mixing in the rest of the warriors at random. This unit is 21 strong, including a full command with a characterful Ean Hawkbane as unit champion.

Dark Elf Warriors Unit 1
Mixed up Dark Elf Warriors

Dark Elf Warriors - mix up 2

This is how the other unit looks again 21 strong, with a full command plus wizard added in for fun:

Dark Elf Warriors Unit 2
Another solid unit of skillful, chaotic Elves.

So, basically they're finished. Sure there's the odd touch up here and there, plus the varnishing to do but otherwise I need worry about them no more... except if they have to face up to some Chaos Warriors or perhaps a couple of trolls. I'll worry about those issues later!

All in all I think they make some pretty interesting units, and as the main bulk of the army they look the part. This isn't a typical Dark Elf colour scheme I know but when I started out I saw that the Dark Elves could be either evil or chaotic in alignment so I went with the latter and picked brighter, contrasting, maybe even bombastic colours O_o It saved me from churning out another run-of-the-mill black/red or purple/gold army, which may have been striking but, to me rather boring. I admit that I had initially intended the turquoise to have way more contrast and be much darker overall but that never materialised.

Witch Elf Unit

These are the Marauder Witch Elves and they're ok miniatures. They're certainly not my favorites, with the sculpts being a tad crude both in their anatomic proportions and their rather sexist portrayal of women. Compare them to the older sculpts of female elves in the warrior units and, well, they seem to have removed most of their clothes, had their legs and necks stretched way out of proportion and their hairstyles are frankly ludicrous. They do make a dynamic unit and the style is at least cohesive with each witch wearing a skimpy chainmail swimsuit, thick bracelets on each arm (with "moar awesum skullz" added) and variations on the theme of loin cloth/tabard down the front. They're also nicely dynamic and brandish a variety of weapons to suit the 3rd edition Fantasy Armies supplement.

Marauder Miniatures Witch Elves & Citadel Dark Elf Sorceress
The Old Hag leads her witch elf guards in the vangaurd of the assault
Despite their weaknesses they do work well as a unit, on the whole. I have stuck to the same palette as the rest of the force but bulked up some of the more minor colours - purple, green, pink - to create a slightly wilder, more frivolous tone. A Citadel Dark Elf Sorceress, Azireth Darkforce,  is in there in the front rank, because it suits the 'fluff' rather nicely and allows me some extra room for narrative. There could be some tension between her and her bodyguards and the army general, perhaps allowing for some role-play style gaming.

Second Crossbow Company

I picked up some Black Tree Designs Dark Elf crossbows a while ago. Are they originally Harlequin miniatures or from the Fantasy Armies range? Either way I'm pleased with the quality of the miniatures. The unit has a cohesive scultping style and a good variety of models in it. The poses are all fairly similar though and they are not very dynamic either. This isn't neccessarily a bad thing, though a couple of kneeling poses and a couple that look like they're actually firing would be a useful addition to the range. The only problem I found was trying to attach the bows to the stocks - they rarely lined up well and, although a little work got some pretty close, a few are down right wonky!

Black Tree Designs - Dark Elf Crossbows
Crossbow reinforcements courtesy of Black Tree Designs
Whilst not in any way terrible the command models feel a little weaker in design and sculpt than the rest of the unit, with the dual wielding champion seeming rather flat and awkward. This could easily be remedied with a hand swap and maybe a little metal bending too! I probably won't bother. I will however be making a banner and finishing off the leather parts and bases soon.

Mercenary Contingents

Dixon's Samurai: Ashigaru Archers

I acquired a small collection of about 6 Dixon's Samurai models a while ago so whilst pondering the ally and merc options available in Fantasy Armies I figured a contingent of skillfull Nipponese might be an interesting addition. Feeling I could use more long range covering fire whilst my hand-to-hand warriors closed in I ordered some ashigaru archers and a bow wielding samurai to go with the minis I already have. I painted them in a variation of the same old colourscheme, using a royal blue alongside a more simple orange. The samurai leader is in a starkly contrasting green/orange combo. There's some work to go painting up bows/arrows but they're nearly complete.

Nipponese Ashigaru Longbow mercenaries
Nipponese mercenaries, a company of Ashigaru longbowmen
I actually really like these models. The sculpts are best described as wonky, with their chunky faces and stocky build. They have a real charm though, which accounts for them being in production continuously for some 30+ years! These guys are clearly well equipped with light armour and powerful zen-style longbows but I'll be keeping them back away from danger - they're relatively weak in combat. Full blown samurai are better up close perhaps, but are more expensive and have the same skill with missile weapons as this lowly peasant company. The Samurai commander is a dangerous opponent though - I might be tempted to equip him with a magic item of some sort. Of course once I get a full Samurai unit to go with them he'll probably be at the head of that instead. I might stretch to a cavalry wing too just for fun - that way I can give him a Ki-rin or a Temple Dog mount. There's also the potential for an assassin, though only if I have multiple units. The possibilities for this contingent are pretty exciting!

But What about the Ogres?

Well, I have an 8 model strong unit of Golgfag's Mercenary Ogres in a jar of Dettol right now, with some of them already stripped and cleaned. I'll probably only ever field 6 or so of them but the lot I won on ebay (for a tad more than I'd have liked but still under a fiver per model) had eight, so I now have eight. Simples! Better check back soon to see how that unit pans out. I've already got a crazy idea of paint scheme and given them a new name:  Jimmy Rancid and the Fuck Muskets. That's quite a major clue, right?

The Moment You've All Been Waiting For: Another Army Shot!

WIP Dark Elf Army
The Host assembles - the muster is nearly complete
This project is inching closer to completion and, whilst tantalisingly close, there always seems so much more to do. I happen to have another Hydra under the brush - a lion bodied one this time - in case one isn't enough, hah, and the only unit yet to get started is the ogres. Oh, to see it all finished will be a glorious day!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The Oldhammer Community

What is it all about?

I joined the Oldhammer forum a little over a year ago. Having read various threads and topics for some time as a 'lurker' I decided it was time to make my own contributions to the community. It had been around for a while and is still growing by the day. Its still in its infancy in many ways.

But why this community and not an up to the minute forum like Warseer? In answering this I want to address an issue that seems to have dogged the Oldhammer community since its inception - defining what Oldhammer is. More specifically I want to propose why Oldhammer as a concept is flawed when viewed outside the context of those that contribute to it, as a community.

A Little Slice of History.

Since my rekindled interest in war gaming of the fantasy variety (by which I also mean science fantasy and science fiction) I bought some models, painted them and then bought some more. It wasn't long before I decided to take on commission work and painted single models and entire armies for other gamers, mostly GW stuff. As the workload increased the variety increased and the more models I painted from other manufacturers. Keeping abreast of developments in miniatures outside the Games Workshop brand widened what you might call my 'aesthetic horizons'. I was thinking about the design of individual models and the styles of the factions from the game systems and how these might be customised or changed to suit different, personal gaming and aesthetic motives.

I started looking beyond this as well, to the artwork and literature that accompanies those miniatures. I could see how every company was working hard to create an original, noticeable brand and how it all felt so different to the games and models I aspired to all those years ago. Disillusionment soon set in and both my own painting and that of the commissions I was working on began to falter. What exactly had happened? Why was I helping people to create armies that only used models and parts available from Games Workshop or Wyrd Miniatures. What had happened to the 'anything goes' attitude I had when I played with my brother and friends as a boy. I dug out some old boxes and looked at the battered remnants of my childhood gaming. 

One of the things I found was a plastic goblin spearman on a palanquin made of glue melted sprues, extra shields and paper flags coloured in with felt tips. Awful to behold but it served its purpose in the games we played perfectly and I can remember to this day what I had in mind as I made it. Maybe one day I'll build the "Goblin King of Undermountain" properly, with the tools and materials - and skills - that I lacked as a 9 year old.

Why join Oldhammer.org.uk over any other fantasy war-gaming forum?

With the flame of nostalgia burning brightly I started looking for some of the models I had always wanted to own and paint as a young'un, and for the artwork and imagery I aspired to back then to inform my own sense of aesthetic. I discovered  that many of the figures were no longer available and the artwork hard to track down. In my searches across the internet various blogs kept surfacing and eventually those bloggers grouped together and formed the Oldhammer forum and Facebook pages. These are still growing and perhaps it is due to this rapid growth that people who have come across it are asking what it is. I never bothered to ask for a definition, I could see from the threads and discussions that it suited what I was looking for. Having re-found my love of fantasy miniatures in the early 2000's and almost lost it again in 2012, the Oldhammer forum and associated blogosphere allowed me an avenue to take it further, in the direction I wanted it to go. There are people who've played every version of Warhammer from 1st through 8th, people who'd never played any of them but have incredible collections of beautifully painted miniatures and others, like me, who just like to immerse themselves in imaginary scenarios and see what they can find!

So What is it Then, this Oldhammer

To answer this I want to respond to, and elaborate upon, Zhu's point (bottom of p4) that Oldhammer is a community, in the "What is Oldhammer?" thread. Community is exactly the word I didn't have at my fingertips at the time! Without the contributors to the forum and (though I haven't joined it) the Facebook group, there wouldn't really be an 'Oldhammer' to argue about since individual gamers/painters etc. with blogs is a somewhat solitary affair, albeit loosely affiliated. 

Let me use an example to express the contrast I have in mind. Warhammer is typically defined as the most current editions of rules released by Games Workshop, characterised by the current set of models, literature and artwork. This is a fairly straightforward idea - a product, a brand, a business. It changes over time but it can be viewed as a singular concept at any given time, and is distinct from those who are buying the products. Gamers buy the products, sure, but Warhammer is the game.

On the other hand, the Oldhammer forum doesn't promote one specific ruleset, a certain release of miniatures or any specific brand or business. It could be argued that it is much like a political party or, arguably, a protest group! The title 'Oldhammer' is almost impossible to define without making reference to the community of active contributors. It's us that give Oldhammer its focus as a basis for gaming, painting and discussion. There are always going to be aspects of a community that are uniform across most of the members (a love of historic, non-current rules being the most obvious maybe) but like any community there will be those who join because they feel attracted to more peripheral aspects of it - such as enjoyment in making turbo charged, gunned up cars a la 'Dark Future' or discussing the history of 25mm fantasy miniatures. This doesn't mean that any of these ideas is enough to make for a singular definition, they are simply differing aspects of the community at large.

Viewed in this light making a statement such as "Gun toting orc miniatures in the Oldhammer style" is wrong; gun toting orc miniatures will never be the dream of every member, and their style may be completely at odds with the preferences of some who frequent the Oldhammer forum. Its like saying "Tory styled suits" when the Tories have no specific uniform - do they mean power-shoulders like Thatcher or clean-cut charcoal, like George Osborne? 'Oldhammer' is not a style, or a set of rules or even a particular range of miniatures (see the Alternative Playing Pieces thread and The "How To Oldhammer" Thread). Oldhammer is the name of a forum, coined by a bunch of, mostly, blokes, who wanted to discuss gaming related stuff on common ground. It is about what can be learned and what can be shared.

In a phrase...

From my observations, and the reason I joined, the Oldhammer community is formed around the principle of continuing, or for some resurrecting, an historic, fantasy gaming mentality from the 70s/80s/90s that for many died with increasingly tournament/competitively driven gaming using only GW models and their subsequent near monopoly of the industry. This mentality is best summed up as narrative gameplay, where even the lowliest commoner caught up in a conflict has an interesting backstory or a hilarious motive. Its about escapism and imagination. This also covers the numerous members who are only really interested in living the gaming experiences they dreamed of in their youth, but couldn't attain (like me!) but also stretches to those who are primarily collectors/painters/sculptors of models from the period that this escapist, fantasy gaming was born to its heyday in the late 80s. 

Vague and long winded as a description it may be, but what else could it be? This is the only way I have ever viewed it, with my introduction to the Oldhammer term following similar lines to many others. Sure there are those who are driven only to build a collection of models they love with little interest in the gaming side of things - kudos to them, I'll envy every model they have painted - but that's not everyone's cup of tea. Other discussions revolve around game books and fantasy gaming magazines, aspects of that 80s culture that many 'Oldhammerers' are very familiar with - but not everyone is interested in that either. In the end it doesn't matter what draws members in, that idea of escapism seems to be at the heart of things.

There are of course numerous other aspects that are covered in the day to day discussions on the boards and on Facebook. In any motivated community common ground between members will be found and these will then be talked about. This simply add to its richness, rather than detracting from some pre-defined set of characteristics.

In a world where defining a brand is increasingly becoming the overriding factor of life, through social media et al, let's not get sucked into this idea that something has to be clear cut and simplistically delineated. Instead let's just enjoy the diversity of ideas and constructive argument that being a member of an open, multi-faceted and (to me!) infinitely interesting community is all about.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Dragons from Days of Yore.

A pair of 80s Dragons.

A look at a pair of dragons I got hold of and what I think of them. The first I tracked down after seeing it online somewhere and thinking how cool it was. Mine came from America where dragons are supposed to still roam the skies... actually thats a lie - sorry to dash your dreams, but it did take a Transatlantic flight, on an Airmail plane. I subsequently found that I could have saved myself a lot of postage and waiting and got one from Second City Games in the UK. Oh well.

The second I stumbled over on ebay, but missing half its tail. For a few pounds of flesh (that's three or four quid in money) he/she was all mine.

Ral Partha Fish Dragon

The title says it all really. Its a dragon by Ral Partha from quite some time ago, that looks very fish like, apart from the legs. I left off the wings of mine and had to patch over the 'lug holes' where they join. I now have a spare pare of wings to use on something too.

I've got some better photos of this one since, with final highlights done so I'll be posting them soon

Fish Dragon
There's something fishy about that dragon...
I must say the dragon is a great scultp. The scales are really well defined, the tail has a beautiful goldfish styled fan and the fishy head is dramatic and creepy. Other nice touches are the webbed claws and webbing between the leg/body transition. To merge the solid base in with a large, square base I built up a ridge with cork and gravel. The extra height suits the stooping style of the giant lizard and should help keep his head out of the way when he charges headlong into his dinner, on the battlefield.

Only thing I'm not sure of is my colour scheme. Its a little boring really and I might have been better served going for something a little more nautical; blues and silvers with rainbowing, reflective patterns comes to mind. Instead I went for a swampy-fish look of a pretty dull greenish colour with a ruddy orange spine/head/tail and stripes. Some days I'm really pleased with it, others I'm fairly underwhelmed. Perhaps if I get another (and put the wings on that one) I can try out the more 'fantastic' scheme

Tom Meier Dragon

This is something of a veteran that, as far as I can tell, has been sold as both a red and black dragon at different times. I decided to do it red. I also had to build my own tail for it, since it was missing, though this did contribute to its affordability!

Tom Meier Dragon, tail sculpt
The head bone's connected to the back-bone, the back-bone's connected to the... oh, where's the tail-bone?
Its a slightly gribbly sculpt with bubbly belly scales and twisty looking spines. I also like how the scales down the neck and flanks are like armoured plating, rather than the typical little diamonds that many dragons get. It also has a really good head with its enormous tusks and gaping, fanged maw, horns and rolling tongue. This model certainly ticks the boxes for me, I can almost hear it growling!

Tom Meier Red Dragon, nearly finished
Nothing remarkable was attempted in this paint job. I kept it simple, coherent and distinct with yellow belly, orange transitional scales (the small ones) and bright red major scales. I gave it green eyes to stand out strongly, which I thinks works rather nicely. The wings took a while to decide upon, but a netural brown striping effect seemed to suite in my mind's eye so that's what I went with.

Oh, alright. The Hydra

Well, it was supposed to be a post about dragons. I may as well show off my other big monster, the C27 Hydra. This is a rather ancient Citadel mini. The heads are a pain to glue on (base of the neck) and the body is a heavy, slightly softly detailed lump of solid metal. COOL!

Citadel's C27 Hydra
What has four legs, seven heads, eight mouths and bad breath?
This monster got glued, based and painted as soon as I got my hands on it. I snapped it up for cheap (as usual!) but spared no expense in thinking about how to go about it. I shoved all the heads on with glue and they all fell off again. So I ground out the glue, tidied up and did it again, this time supporting each one carefully. This seems to have worked, though I could have pinned them if I hadn't been so excited at cracking on with it.

I then slapped muddy green and pale yellow browns over everything - another beast from the swamps - contrasting a nicely shiny-varnished purple for the tongues. Then, in a moment of inspiration, red eyes. Feeling it lacked something I put richer green stripes on it and lightly stippled this up the necks in little patches. 

It took me about 2hrs, plus some time putting flock and clumps on the base. Sure it was quick and I didn't really have to think about it but I love it. Mostly due to the model itself I should think. Its so twisted and evil I think those Greeks really did invent the most awesome cast of nightmare creatures.

That makes me think - one day I might set about making/painting models with Greek Mythological horrors and monsters. There'd be the Hydras, Titans (like ogres, sort of), harpies, hell hounds, Pegasus the winged horse, giant Dionysian boars... wait a minute, this sounds like Warhammer's monstrous hordes here!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Better Late Than Never

A Failed April Fools

Well, I thought about posting an April Fools thing but, being busy this week with that thing called 'having a real job' and being sort of tired, I never came up with anything to post. So I won't bother now and instead look at shields and some freehand stuff on a wizard.

Menghil's Shields

I bought these solid metal shields from Second City Games' ebay shop, along with a rather surprising catch of another Marauder Dark Elf Warrior that I didn't have (you'll have to wait for him though). They have some other pre-owned models up for grabs if you look hard enough - happy hunting.

Fantasy shield designs 1
Various freehand and sculpted designs
Pretty straightforward stuff they come in packs of five identical shields. I picked up 2 packs of plain shields, 1 each of central star shaped boss and sculpted dragon design - all nicely done. Casting is generally fine, the usual injection/venting stuff to clean up and the odd 'ding' on some, like the left most shield for example, but nothing shield breaking. The dragon shields had some mold slippage overlap around the edge but they cleaned up nicely. Only the plain shields have wooden boards sculpted on the back but the metal is soft enough that I scored the same onto the other sets as well with the back of an x-acto blade tip.

I'd been looking for a while for shields for this company and decided, eventually, to take a bit of a punt on these ones. The different designs helps break up some of the uniformity of the troopers, but they're similar enough to maintain that regimented look which isn't really a bad thing. I think Menghil's' company have come together pretty well - now to get those last few bases clumped and flocked up (tomorrow morning) and I can get some finished photos at the weekend. Exciting!

Citadel Shields

These are a selection of the classic 'bad guy' shields that I've got for the second warriors company. They're oddly shaped which makes life a tad tricky and the enormous central boss limits space and design potential. I ground some of the bosses off to resolve that problem.

Fantasy shield designs 2
Need to decide on the edges - black is a little harsh for most of them

I started out with the intention of doing demon faces on all of them to tie in with the demonic faced banners. It takes a long time - and gets frustrating! - to get a good looking tiny face like the one on the left... x20, so started experimenting with patterns and effects as well. Trust me to lose the focus but I think it creates the variation that the regimented colour scheme of the army lacks, so I'm happy.

This company look quite distinct from the first, with a wide variety of poses (all but a handful are unique) and many, varied shields and weapons. I'm not sure which I prefer yet - I might mix the two companies up to see how it looks and see which configurations you lot prefer.

Dark Elf Wizard

This guy is a pretty decent model though I think the one I picked up had something filed off on his robe at the back. He looks pretty angry although the detailing on his face is a tad loose. He has a very 80's big, curled collar, fancy robe and shoulder pads with a twisted and contorted hand posture for some flashy, magical showmanship. Contrast this with the workman-like rolled up sleeves and you have a model firmly rooted in the almost-ridiculous, almost-brilliance of the 'Golden Age' of Citadel design.

dark elf wizard's robe detail
Green and yellow were chosen this time. Just to be different.
I needed to fill the blank space down his back so tried out a fast and loose twinned serpent design. I could have gone all neatly symmetrical, I realised after I finished, but this was what came out. I should have taken my usual habit of drawing it out on paper a few more times before starting and I could have done something a little more refined. Ah well, the opposition will never see it since this guy would never run away, right?

I still haven't figured out what he is holding in that lower hand though - anyone have any idea?

Monday, 23 March 2015

Demonic Advesaries and Allies

Dechala as a demonic summons and a Temple Dog

I picked up a few new recruits from a fellow Oldhammerer recently - the community is very active when it comes to buying, selling and, most importantly, trading miniatures. One man's surplus is another man's gold! These two miniatures, I felt, would be perfect as summoned entities to support the Dark Elves' cause.

Dechala (the denied one?)

OK, the model has a silly name straight out of the blister - not really a bad thing - and it isn't that old, sculpted some time in the early 2000's. It's not, however, the best sculpt in the world or so I used to think, and is a royal a pain to put together. So when I saw it come up for trade/sale I thought that a six armed snake woman sort of fits the old Dark Elf vibe quite well and would make a great demonic summons for the wizards to play around with (or will she play around with them?) On closer inspection its not as bad as I once thought, mostly being let down by a poor product paint job, I think. This seems to be a curse of the 90's to early 2000's models. I mean, look at it this way:
Image © Games Workshop.
Seems typical early 2000's to me - lots of black and lots of pale, whitish areas leaving everything in between rather flat and lifeless. Not a dreadful paint job but it doesn't make a terribly interesting mini... though at least they'd got over that obsessive, plastic looking "Red Phase"!

Anyway, after plenty of pins - head, three arm pieces and body/tail joint - she was finally ready for paint. I would seriously advise priming the arms and at least the underside of the hair, before assembly because they're impossible to reach afterwards; I prefer not to start painting properly before putting together a model because its a major pain in the arse (or 'ass' for American readers, though might I remind you an ass is a cross between donkey and horse not the sitting part of a person... I digress)

six-armed demonic snake woman
She's already got six arms...
Well, being rather indecisive I wasn't sure what to begin with. I'm also impatient and impulsive so, thinking about yellowish skin, dabbed some Tausept Ochre and Tallarn Flesh (GW paints) onto the palette. I had a little GW Goblin Green still wet on there as well and accidentally mixed it in. It made the perfect colour! I love it when a plan comes together - or not.

six-armed-demon snake woman side view
...so there's no need for legs, lets make her a snake!
To balance it out the hair has to be a rusty orange/red, that's simple colour harmony talking there. Mixing Scab Red and Bestial Brown does the trick. This goes onto the snake's rattle tail and that scale patch round her midriff as well, to balance out the mini. It may also find its way onto some of the armour too, but most likely as a wash or tint here and there. I'm still not settled on colours for the rest of the mini yet but I'll think more on that during the week and more than likely splash some random paints around, because its more fun that way. I've not used pink in a while, perhaps..?

Temple Dog

This model is made by Wargames Supply Dump, a small company with only a handful of 28mm's for sale. Its a nice model though, and the sculpting is pretty clean and the casting crisp. The one I got didn't have the rider which is fine, but he's quite bulky so there will need to be some modification of elf legs involved in mounting him - or her, there's no discernible genitalia to take reference from.

It didn't fit together all that well, with two body halves, one separate leg (its front right leg) and the head as separate parts. I pinned them all and back-filled a number of gaping holes, most notably on the underside of the body, the lower left side of the head and the front right shoulder. Still, they're not difficult fills to achieve, being mostly low detail, partially hidden areas. A little hair texture and some light smoothing over the rest of the joints finished the putty work nicely.

Work In Progress - Temple Dog
Bluey green, purplish orange... sorta weird perhaps!

I decided to go for a colour scheme that would reflect, but not be an exact match for, the rest of the Dark Elves. So I picked a mix of VMA (Vallejo Model Air) Intermediate Blue (dark grayish blue) and VMC Emerald, highlighted up through Emerald, GW Goblin Green and Goblin Green + White. This gives a more greenish turquoise than the pale, bluish colour of the Elves' armour, though the glossiness of the paint has killed the colour balance of the photos a little. 

The mane is a GW Liche Purple based Scab Red with orange-yellow highlights. Similar, but again not an exact match, using a warmer, richer palette than the Elves. I think its beginning to stand out quite nicely as a mini, which it should be as a mount summoned only for a powerful general or wizard.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

More Dark Elves from the Backlog

Up from the Archives

I said I would and I have some time to, so I'm going to introduce a few more units that are (still!) under the brush. As ever these have already been snapped on the Oldhammer forum thread Protist's Works Progressive.

1st Marauder Dark Elf Company

Marauder Dark Elf Infantry
The later Maruader Dark Elf Infantry
These models (apart from one - can you tell which one though? He fits very well in stlye so its not that easy!) were the later addition to the Dark Elf range from Marauder Miniatures, sold as a regiment with the MB03 code from 1990. They're pretty solid sculpts with a definite and cohesive design and give an excellent sense of movement. With 4 unique character models and 4 different troopers there's also reasonable variety. Especially when compared to Citadel's earlier Regiments of Renown range with their mono-pose troopers, these Marauder regiments must have felt incredible when they were first released. Even nowadays its not always possible to get units with 8 individual sculpts in a strongly coherent design.
It is unfortunate that the success of creating more dynamic looking models came at the expense of practicality, they are exceptionally hard to line up properly, with nearly every model extending way over the bounds of the base. They're even less forgiving once the shields were on - more on that in the future though!
I wanted to vary at least some of the units in the force so these guys have kept the orange/turquoise theme only for trim and detail, and have proper evil, black chainmail.

2nd Marauder (... well, mostly) Dark Elf Company

This unit, even back in October 2014, was almost finished. It is now even closer and I should be able to get a post written about them this weekend.

Marauder Infantry, MM70
MM70 Marauder Dark Elves
The MM70 set didn't just have crossbow armed elves (see the previous post), it also had regular infantry with hand weapons, shields, spears, halberds and large swords, all really well sculpted - well mostly anyway! I think they did a great job on this range, personally; they have a good dynamic range yet rank up well and importantly they tie in perfectly with the Citadel scultps, of which there are quite a few hiding in this company. Can you tell them apart? Even better, can you tell which ranges the Citadel ones are from? The command models are the regular Citadel range from the 3rd edition era, I'll give you that one for free because this is my favorite musician model - though there is one I don't have that might be even better.
I painted the banner using the icon on the top as a starting point for the idea, though I wonder if this was actually a good idea. Ah well, it doesn't really matter because I think it looks pretty good! I also haven't decided if I should work up the blades in that deep green colour, or do something else entirely? Either way they won't be steel coloured.

Chaos Warrior Allies

A small but deadly unit of chaotic warriors as allies. Everyone loves the whacky designs of the early Citadel chaos ranges. The variety of sculpts, the plethora of design ideas, both the unearthly and the unrealistic combine to send most collectors into a Khornate frenzy of figure frothing...

80s Chaos Warriors
Heavy armour, huge weapons, that can only mean one thing... Chaos
Most of these sculpts have been re-released a number of times over in different ranges. Some were originally pre-slotta though all of these were cast with tabs. I think the models pretty much speak for themselves, all I'll add is that I tried to make each as individual as possible and that I need to add some more detail to the bases before I call them finished. One thing that the allies lack at the moment is a leader, but I have something in mind for that already.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

80s Dark Elf Army Update 1

Some more pics to publish of the Dark Elves as they currently stand, work still in progress. These were also recently posted over at the Oldhammer Forum, but thought I'd talk a little more about some of them individually.

Dark Elf Crossbows:

Dark Elf Crossbows
Dark Elf Crossbows
This unit is made up from Marauder's MM70, Dark Elf range, from 1988. The command group however is made up from Citadel Miniatures from around the time of 3rd edition WFB. There's a good variety of sculpts in the MM70 range, and they are mostly well proportioned and interesting. They also fit alongside the Citadel sculpts perfectly, which is something of a bonus, though the Citadel sculpts are a little more variable (I'm not a big fan of the 'champion' model 2nd from right, front row).

Menghil's Manhides:

An iconic Regiment of Renown, I have amassed a good sized regiment of the 2nd incarnation of this set; check out this page on Orlyg's Realm of Chaos 80s blog to have a look at the other set released way back when.

Ean Hawkbane, Menghil's champion
Ean Hawkbane, Menghil's champion
This model took me some time to track down on ebay at a reasonable price, by which I mean under £5; I've seen him listed for all sorts of crazy money though. He's a typical 80s Citadel champion - brimming over with character and slightly quirky sculpting. The lines may not be as clean and the design may not be flashy as modern GW models, but I think he's fantastic! Why and how has he befriended an owl, is it a familiar, channeling his worship of the dark gods or simply a tool for hunting and battle? These are the sorts of questions older models tend to pose, that are becoming, for me, less prevalent in modern miniatures.

Mengil Manhide's WIP Company
Mengil Manhide's Company (incomplete!)
This is an older photo showing the progress I had made with the full Manhide company last year. Notice the mixture of male and female troopers. It may not be much but it certainly breaks up the monotony of an otherwise monopose unit. These are the first models I started painting for the collection. I jumped in feet first and made up the colour scheme on the fly. I picked turquiose for its cold, but vibrant character and complimented it with a contrasting, bold orange. The decision to paint all the army in the same, or similar, uniform was pretty much given to me by the fact that the Dark Elf ranges tended to confirm to a fairly uniform style. This is most evident in the fact that the champion, second from right, is not from this set at all, but from the more general Dark Elf range of roughly the same time. He has the same scale armour, in a sort of skirted tunic, as the other character models, with a similar crest on his helmet; these basic features pretty much define every Dark Elf model released from 1980 'til the release of 4th edition, when the design changed forever! That champion can now return to his own company, and be replaced with the 'true' champion of the set, Ean Hawkbane.

Maruader Beastmaster and Warhounds:

Dark Elf Beastmaster and 4 warhounds
Dark Elf Beastmaster and 4 warhounds
This is the Marauder beastmaster set, with an extra chaos hound (with two heads) added to make a better sized unit. I have another pair of chaos hounds to make up a harder hitting group in larger games. The dogs are great though, looking like old English Bulldogs (bigger than the modern breed) with a good range of dynamic poses, snarling muzzles and spiky studded collars. The chaos hound is, weirdly, emaciated but sporting a suitable mutation. I love how the muscles are defined on this model. The Beastmaster herself isn't bad, though being of the later Marauder style is afflicted with a somewhat ridiculous hairstyle. I'd love to track down an earlier Citadel Beastmaster, and move this individual model on, to a more appreciative owner; for now it'll have to wait though!

Citadel Dark Elf Bolt-thrower:

This final one is plain weird.

Citadel's 80's Dark Elf Bolt-thrower. Its odd
Citadel's 80's Dark Elf Bolt-thrower. Its odd
The Bolt-thrower itself is pretty huge, which is fine. Its actually quite a nicely designed model with large wheels to facilitate easy targeting and re-positioning, a frame with some suitably intricate 'rope work' type embellishment, and a magazine of bolts ready to hurl at the enemy. The crew are sculpted in the same manner as the other Dark Elves of the period, sporting feather like appendages on the helmet and tracery on the armour and clothes. However they are rather short, almost halfling sized, and next to the huge war machine they look tiny! The sharpness of the details is in line with other models of their era, which is rather soft, but that can be dealt with by painting sympathetically. The poses are a little awkward, but I do rather enjoy the stooping spotter and the guy stretching up to refill the magazine (he'd have to at 4.5 feet tall), if only because the exaggeration of such mundane activities is far more fun than a model pointing into the distance with a "Raaagh!" expression. I think this bizarre set might just grow on me, and hopefully - once I've finished basing them all up - will create a good compliment to the army. It better do; I have another two to work on.

The Nameless Army (so far):

The Dark Elf Army, work still in progress
The Dark Elf Army, work still in progress
Well, its fairly self-explanatory, that's what I'd got done some time around the turn of the year. There's plenty more to do to get them finished. I'm looking to complete the first 1.5k (based on Warhammer Armies, 3rd edition supplement) by the end of March, and come up with a name for them as well. Any suggestions?

What's to come:

I'll be taking a look at the models I worked on throughout last year (two more companies of infantry, more crossbows, cold one riders, chaotic and ogre allies, summoned spectres/ghosts/whights) over the coming weeks, as well as those I'll be working on soon (including units of light and heavy cavalry, more summoned spectres/ghosts/whights, skeletons and demons!).