Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Dúnedain of the North

Despite a week of Prednisone medication with really irritating side effects, I managed to paint some more Middle Earth characters.

Here are the first four of the Grey Company, armoured Dúnedain rangers of the North.
Their shields feature the Star of the Dúnedain. According to the books members of the Grey Company only wore a brooch with a star. They did cary shields but there's no mention of any shield heraldry. Still, I think it looks good.
These are West Wind arthurians. Dressed and equipped like this I can see them do shielwall formations too, if necessary. A bit of Winter King action in Middle Earth.

The Corsairs of Umbar in the south seem to have a parallel with the Vandalic empire in North Africa. The Vandals with their Moorish allies were feared for their raids and piracy by the Byzantines.
I've been trying to find out what 6th century Moors would look like and for what I've gathered they probably looked like heavily romanised ancient numidians. Unfortunately there seems to be hardly any more information available.  
In any case, the miniatures here are late romans with head scarf and later Moors. They will be supported by a mix of ancient numidians and germans. The guy on the left must be a Donatist christian priest doubling as an advisor to the Corsair captain.

Here are two wicked orc drummers. Both by Copplestone, but sculpted with a twenty years distance.

I bought myself a gaming mat from Sagebrush, a generic Steppe layout. I'd never thought to get myself something like this. But after years promising myself to make a table myself without doing a thing I figured I'd better pay for a nice cloth that just looks good. Here a Rohan farmstead is being raided by orcs.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Return to Middle Earth

What started out as a restructuring of my old orc army has quickly escalated in a whole Middle Earth revival.
Likeminded spirits on the book of faces have created a group for Wargaming in Middle Earth. A very inspiring group of people willing to discuss anything from historical equivalents to ME armies and suitable miniatures, the colour of orcs and wheter or not the Balrog had wings. It made me paint this old Grenadier Balrog. At the moment I'm of the opinion that the wings on a Balrog may either be real or an illusion, but being a supernatural creature it would not matter too much. He may be able to fly anyway.
 A while ago I got myself some West Wind Arthurian miniatures. This range comes with separate heads and I really like the style. They fit well with both  Copplestone and Mark Simms' Crusader miniatures. While the original idea was to do a unit useful for Arthurian Britain, generic mainland late Roman AND the Men of Arnor, it occurred to me that using the seperate Picts heads the work very well as Dúnedain rangers of the North. A small guerilla unit fighting the evils of Angmar but also Sarumans Uruk Hai on the southern border.
Which reminded me I made the Rohan footsoldiers/Ostrogoths years ago:
And while reading on the Rangers of the North and Angmar, I decided I could use my Ancient Germans as Hillmen of Angmar. For years I was tempted to use thes as Dunlendings, but Tolkien made a point that Dunlending were dark haired while the Rohirrim were fair haired. As such Dunlendings would be better represented by dark ages Welsh, Irish or Scots.
Now 'Hillmen' is a generic term for tribes of 'savages', and there were also hillmen at Angmar. I read somewhere that the men of Rohan were related to the men of Dale and Laketown. It's quite plausible then that other related tribes moved west past Mount Gundabad into Angmar to become servants of the Witch King.
At last, a Werewolf. 
Gandalf mentions to Frodo at Rivendell: "not all of Sauron's servants and chattels are wraiths; there are Orcs and Trolls, there are Wargs and werewolves."
Now, JRRT mostly describes his werewolves as giant, sentient wolves. Created by Sauron, he even took the form of a werewolf himself at one point. So they wouldn't be humanoid shapeshifting lycanthropes walking on their hind legs. But this miniature from North Star was too nice not to include. Maybe I'll even use him as a leader, instead of the usual Ringwraith or Balrog.

Monday, 18 December 2017

I smell man-flesh!

"We learn from old traditions that their origin was as follows: Filimer, king of the Goths, son of Gadaric the Great, who was the fifth in succession to hold the rule of the Getae, after their departure from the island of Scandza...found among his people certain witches. Suspecting these women, he expelled them from the midst of his race and compelled them to wander in solitary exile afar from his army. There the unclean spirits, who beheld them as they wandered through the wilderness, bestowed their embraces upon them and begat this savage race, which dwelt at first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech."
Thus is described the history not of Orcs but of the terrible Huns. A mostrous breed of witches with demons. It's interesting noting that Tolkien's Orc comes partly from Latin Ŏrcu, or Orcus, demon from the underworld. It doesn't stop here. Jordanes, the Goth historian in 6th century Italy also wrote:

"They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. Their hardihood is evident in their wild appearance, and they are beings who are cruel to their children on the very day they are born. For they cut the cheeks of the males with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have the cruelty of wild beasts."

[EDIT:] While Ammianus Marcellinus wrote:

"The people called Huns, barely mentioned in ancient records, live beyond the sea of Azof, on the border of the Frozen Ocean, and are a race savage beyond all parallel. At the very moment of birth the cheeks of their infant children are deeply marked by an iron, in order that the hair instead of growing at the proper season on their faces, may be hindered by the scars; accordingly the Huns grow up without beards, and without any beauty. They all have closely knit and strong limbs and plump necks; they are of great size, and low legged, so that you might fancy them two-legged beasts, or the stout figures which are hewn out in a rude manner with an ax on the posts at the end of bridges.
They are certainly in the shape of men, however uncouth, and are so hardy that they neither require fire nor well flavored food, but live on the roots of such herbs as they get in the fields, or on the half-raw flesh of any animal, which they merely warm rapidly by placing it between their own thighs and the backs of their horses."

  Yay! As such I advocate orcs that look like cartoon huns:

 I smell man-flesh!

In the meantime, I received my North Star Oathmark orcs. They answer well enough to my vision of orcs. Actually they're about perfect! Here's a size comparison. I think they are great with both the Foundry human and the Grenadier half-orc. 
While certainly not an exact match, they still look acceptable with the Fantasy Warriors plastic orcs.

I painted my two headed hill-troll. Charcoal black skin and dirty stinking yak fur. Find them! Find them!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

The Fighting Uruk Hai

I like my fantasy Dark Ages. No plate armour, halberds or gunpowder. Not even crossbows. Like the Lord of the Rings, which was inspired by Nordic sagas. Most of those in turn were inspired by real events from the Migration Period, the Fall of the West. In short, I imagine my armies of men, dwarves and orcs like this:

More advanced weapons and armour should not go beyond Hastings or 1st Crusade Norman technology and even those would be mostly reserved to elves, dwarves and some elite orcs.

One of my favorite ranges of fantasy miniatures is still the old Grenadier 'Fantasy Warriors' line. These were sculpts by Nick Lund, Mark Copplestone and Bob Naismith.
Coppelstone did three packs of 'Half-Orc mercenaries'. With their dark ages gear and style they had something decidedly Tolkien-esque.
These became available again about 15 years ago.

To me half orcs and Uruk Hai are basically the same thing. Orc and human crossbreed. With the only differnce that Uruk Hai are bred on purpose, like pitbulls, while half orcs are more like bastard dogs. 
When Peter Jackson's LotR film came out, the movie's uruk hai reminded me a lot of these miniatures. I suspect people from Weta workshop also collect miniatures and were heavily inspired by these.

In fact, from the Copplestone Castings Newsletter in 2002:
"[...] I thought the film Uruk-Hai were not unlike my old half-orcs so they could be next up in the 2002 make-over line. There are a few things I'd like to make from scratch, but they'll just have to wait."
And so I waited. And waited and waited. But new half-orcs were never released.
A few years ago I started to convert them myself to get some variation. I used Westwind Arthurian seperate headsets and some Dixon Miniatures Samurai heads (I first thought those were Copplestone's but they are by Trevor Dixon).

Berserkers made from barbarians. And trolls.

Command group with a squinty eyed half-orc tracker from the Frostgrave range.
 A unit of warriors.
My renewed interest in my orc army was sparked by the upcoming Oathmark orcs from Northstar. The six metal orcs are sculpted by,  you guessed it, Mark Copplestone. In fact in style they fit perfectly with my Uruk Hai.
 They remind me also of the old Fantasy Warriors plastics.
Doug Cowie, at the time manager of Grenadier UK, wrote a while ago on Lead Adventure forum:
"These were not sculpted by Nick [Lund]. When we at Grenadier UK were planning the contents of the FW boxed set, the inclusion of plastic miniatures was a priority. We decided on orcs and dwarves. Nick was the master of both races. However, he was fully involved in writing the game and, furthermore, had no experience in sculpting for plastic. So we got one of our other sculptors to make them in the style of Nick. I guess it worked pretty well."
"[...] someone asked who the sculptor was. It was Mark Copplestone."
So I guess I'll have to put these also in my army now!

 An army of Uruk Hai of course also includes human Dunlendings and I'll use these Frostgrave and grenadier barbarians as a command group. 
Rank and file are Crusade Miniatures byzantine Varangians and Irish axemen as skirmishers. I may add the recent Saxons/Franks.

Also the trolls will get reinforcements.


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Citi-Block proto-Necromunda rules

It's well known that the original 40K universe is a blend of several iconic books, comics and movies from the 70's and 80's. Most notably Frank Herbert's Dune and the 2000AD/Judge Dredd universe and as far as Genestealer- and Chaos cults are concerned obviously H.P. Lovecraft.

Games Workshop used to have the license to produce games and miniatures in the Judge Dredd universe around the time Warhammer 40.000 Rogue Trader came out and in the beginning there was much overlap. The Citi Block floor plan set was in fact produced for both games.
Included in the box of 2D floor plans and street furniture, was a booklet with a chapter covering rules for using hive world gangs (as opposed to Mega City 1 gangs) in the 40K universe. This was several years before Confrontation was published in White Dwarf, the gangwar RPG usually considered the predecessor of Necromunda.
I obtained a PDF of scans of these rules and here they are, cut in bits for easy reading. Note the Willpower and Cool stats that apperently are making a comeback with the new edition of Necromunda.
The basic gang stats you don't need anything else!


Sunday, 5 November 2017

The Empire of Man

Okay, back to Mankind. Back to a forgotten desert planet on the very fringes of the Imperium of Man. 
Here's an Imperial Guard Jetbike. Lowriding as I don't see these things flying in the air unless they're assaulting.
Here a few righteous Imperial citizens of the Western Fringe Puritan Shrine.
A subhuman Squat space dwarf. This is a Wessex Panzerfauste dwarf from their WW2 fantasy line. I tried to paint him not like a german soldier but more colourful likethe old illustrations of squats.
In progress a gang of miners or smugglers. Two guys in civilian power armour. Armed with autoguns and pistols. I even used a RTB01 space marine head which is more or less equally sized as the Mordheim and Sentinel driver heads.
And old White Dwarf cover I'll loosely use as a starting point for my Imperial Guard platoon in progress.


Sunday, 29 October 2017


It's Orktober and I've been painting!

These are the orksies I have painted over the last years
I finally painted this monstrous painboy. One of my favorites, looking much more savage than other orks. Stripped and repainted several times but this time I'm quite happy.
Next is Bubbles, the mad bolshevik Bloodaxe boy, here with a new piece of scenery or objective marker, a pink flamingo.
 The old Warphead, another I've had great difficulty with in the past to find the right colour combinations.
At last some old plastic orks. GW has come a long way whith their plastics, it has to be said. 
I painted these very fast. All together with the same colours in a few hours, as I actually never liked them at all. Still pure nostalgia in this case though. The bodies are original that came with my battlewagon. I couldn't even be bothered to strip them. The heads and arms are from an unused lot I got last year which is why they look so fresh and new. Drastic Plastic cannon-fodder!