sabato 13 febbraio 2016

Gwindor Lachlîn (M269 Gil-Galad, High King in Exile)

There was a last miniature which emerged from the old box I found when moving house: it was half painted and still broken in the original three parts which had never been glued together. Half finished, M269, "Gil-Galad, High King in Exile" had been set to become a player character for LotR RPG (Coda), which eventually was never played because I moved abroad a few weeks later.

The painting, though, was beautiful - it was the apex of my ability 12 years ago or so. Still no blackwash, no highlights, no other tricks, but just a beautiful painting of details and an elegant choice of colours.

In no time, I started finishing the job. So here it is to you:

A bit of background: the character is Gwindor Lachlîn, which is also an NPC in a description I had written for MERP Fan Modules group about the House of Brothers, a Noble House of the Noldor linked to two heroes of the Silmarillion, Gelmir and Gwindor of Nargothrond.

The House of Brothers has a tragic history: Gelmir was captured in the Dagor Bragollach and used as a bait in the Nirnaeth, when his cruel murder led his brother Gwindor to abandon the position of advantage on the hills and lead the first charge against the Orcs in the valley.

Then the Captain of Morgoth sent out riders with tokens of parley, and they rode up before the outworks of the Barad Eithel. With them they brought Gelmir son of Guilin, that lord of Nargothrond whom they had captured in the Bragollach; and they had blinded him. Then the heralds of Angband showed him forth, crying: 'We have many more such at home, but you must make haste if you would find them; for we shall deal with them all when we return even so.' And they hewed off Gelmir's hands and feet, and his head last, within sight of the Elves, and left him.
By ill chance, at that place in the outworks stood Gwindor of Nargothrond, the brother of Gelmir. Now his wrath was kindled to madness, and he leapt forth on horseback, and many riders with him; and they pursued the heralds and slew them, and drove on deep into the main host. And seeing this all the host of the Noldor was set on fire, and Fingon put on his white helm and sounded his trumpets, and all the host of Hithlum leapt forth from the hills in sudden onslaught. The light of the drawing of the swords of the Noldor was like a fire in a field of reeds; and so fell and swift was their onset that almost the designs of Morgoth went astray. Before the army that he sent westward could be strengthened it was swept away, and the banners of Fingon passed over Anfauglith and were raised before the walls of Angband. Ever in the forefront of that battle went Gwindor and the Elves of Nargothrond, and even now they could not be restrained; and they burst through the Gate and slew the guards upon the very stairs of Angband, and Morgoth trembled upon his deep throne, hearing them beat upon his doors. But they were trapped there, and all were slain save Gwindor only, whom they took alive; for Fingon could not come to their aid.”
Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad

Gwindor dwelt as a slave for many years in Angband, until he managed to escape, only to be rescued by Beleg Cúthalion. He witnessed his accidental death by the hand of his friend Túrin son of Húrin, which he nonetheless helped, bringing the young Man to Nargothrond, an act of kindness which ultimately led to the separation of Gwindor and his loved one, Finduilas, and the fall of Nargothrond to the forces of Morgoth.

The House of Brothers was first imagined by Jeff Erwin in his unpublished module Lindon, in which he also defined the colours of their livery: black and maroon, to represent the mourning for the Darkening of Valinor.

According to Lindon module, the head of the House in the Second and Third Age was Gwindrûn, son of Gelmir. In the description of the House of Brothers I wrote, I imagined Gwindhrûn to have been first sworn an Oath of Vengeance against the Enemy, which eventually led to his involvement in the Second and Third Kinslaying. Overcome by guilt and a feeling of inescapability from the Doom of Mandos, Gwidhrûn ultimately decided to close himself in a castle on the western side of the Ered Luin and linger there with his people, refusing stubbornly to be involved anymore in the affairs of Middle-earth.

Gwindor Lachlîn was the son of Gwidhrûn. His father named him Gwindor in memory of his uncle, who raised him after the capture of his father, but his mother, Hirimel of the Coppershields, named him Lachlîn, "Leaping Flame Glance". Fiery and reckless, he was a son of the Second Age, who never experienced the dramatic events of the previous Age and brooded over the deeds of his ancestors, fearing he would never have the chance to prove himself and pass his name into the stories of the minstrels.

Constantly at odds with his overprotective father, Gwindor Lachlîn took upon himself his Oath of Vengeance and accused him to have forsaken it. At last, when Annatar revealed himself as Sauron and raised an army in Mordor, Gwidhrûn gave in to Gil-Galad's requests and granted his only son leave to lead his folk to battle. Gwindor fought first on the borders of Lindon, and later in the War of the Last Alliance. At the Battle of Morannon, he led the countercharge which broke the ranks of the Orcs of Mordor and pushed them back to the Gates after their last sortie. He died by the slopes of Amon Amarth, killed by the Troll Guard of Sauron whom he had attacked to distract them from the High King, who was coming from the other side.

Thus, his name passed into the tales of the Eldar and the Dúnedain, as he had wished. It is said that when his father received news of his demise, he relinquished the lordship of the House and let himself die, to join the rest of his kinsfolk. This was the end of the House of Brothers, and all those few who had survived either left Middle-earth by way of the Ships of Círdan, or lived like wanderers in Lindon and Eriador, so that the castle of Gwidhrûn remained a ruin forever more.

mercoledì 3 febbraio 2016

Review: Baueda vs. Essex Carolingian Era Knights

It took a year, but it is done. I have finished painting my Carolingian knights, and here we are presenting them.
These figures were taken from two compatible suppliers, Baueda and Essex.

Let's start with the latter:

Essex DGS1 - Dark Age: Heavy Cavalry in mail with lance and round shield

These are lovely figures: extremely realistic and detailed, both riders and horses. They could represent most European heavy cavalry between 750 and 950, milites protected by chain mail and open helms, armed with spears and round shields.

Essex DGS2 - Dark Age: Heavy Cavalry in mail with assorted weapons & round shield

These are leaders: two of them look like generic west European knights from the Carolingian and post-Carolingian era, while the other two wear helms with visors making them resemble Norman horsemen. The poses are beautiful, four different ones, and the horses are again great.

Baueda CRL1 - Carolingian Mounted Command

Speaking of leaders, here are the Baueda captains. The miniatures from this producer look more stylized than the Essex ones, with more strinking but less realistic details. There are four poses among the riders and all of them are very well done; and 3-4 poses among the horses. Oh, the horses: sorry Baueda, your horses are not the same as Essex; they are very crude, and I'm being generous. Those that you see in the pictures are actually Essex since I felt bad using Baueda ones with the riders, who are actually beautiful, but you'll see below what I'm talking about.
The Command Group from Baueda well represents the élite of an armed force: counts, gastaldi or sculdasci in charge of a retinue.

Baueda CRL3 - Carolingian Caballari

Caballari, on the other hand, are generic knights armed with a lance and a round shield, and protected by mail armour. These riders (three poses) are less well sculpted than the Command Group, but still nice; but then you see the horses: two poses, and not at all well done.

Baueda CRL4 - Swabian, Bavarian or Thuringian Caballari

The same could be said for the CRL4, with very well detailed, if stylized, riders and mediocre mounts. These are horsemen armed with swords and shields.

Now, let's draw some conclusions: which are best? I like them both, I would say. Essex minis are more proportionate and realistic, but Baueda minis are more varied, easier to recognize in the crowd of other figures, and funnier to paint; the Command group is delightful; but their horses suck. So it really depends on personal taste, I would say.

Both lines are 100% compatible: just compare DGS2 and CRL1.

These are incidentally some of those that I really like (again, CRL1 horse is actually stolen from Essex set).

But here are some extra pictures, just to show off the painting, because this time I'm quite proud of them and I'm not sure next time they'll be as good!

Essex Normans, the horse on the right is actually Baueda

A better view of the command group CRL1, only the white horse is Baueda, the others are all Essex