domenica 11 dicembre 2016

Mithril MC3 Thorin Oakenshield


This is one of the Classic series by Mithril, issued in the early 1990s. They represent key characters in the original stories of Tolkien, and namely the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

In this specific sculpt, Chris Tubb represented Thorin in fine clothes and holding on his shoulder the sword Orcrist. We may suppose this was meant to either represent Thorin during his stop at Rivendell, shortly after he recovered the sword from Hill Trolls in Rhudaur, or in Esgaroth, while he was a guest of the Master. The sculpt dates from 1991, as indicated on the base.

Thorin looks particularly relaxed and lordly, in line with the description of the Hobbit, where he is described as "an enormously important dwarf" and "very haughty". He drinks wine, plays a silver harp, does not help clean the table and holds a very long and institutional speech. I must say I really love how Tubb used he pose of the figure to bring out its character.

Now, allow me this short rant: Thorin's main characteristic is to be haughty. He is, after all, a very noble Dwarf, perhaps the noblest living in Middle-earth and Arda. He is heir of the kings of the Longbeards, the direct descendant of Durin the Deathless. He is pompous, sometimes arrogant, in a way obsessed with his inheritance and his family duty. But he is also a good leader, generous with his men, beloved by his people; he's smart, very good in talking his way out of situations, and yet keep his honour by not telling any lie; he can be aggressive, but he can be fun, too, laughing and singing with the other dwarves. He is just not simply a self-centered, brooding dick, as portrayed in the movies. I really hated how he came out there. Really, Thorin is such a great and complex character, PJ didn't do him justice. But then again, he didn't do justice to any character in the story, especially the grey-shaded ones.
Right, end of the rant.

It took me some time to decide how to paint it. The reasoning was that at Rivendell and Lake-town Thorin probably wore clothes that were fine but still not excessively rich: he was travelling after all. They should display deep colours, but not too garish. The only set thing was the hood: in the Hobbit, Thorin wears a "detachable hood" which was "sky-blue [...] with a long silver tassel". Now, this miniatures displays a cloak, not a detachable hood, but still here is the long silver tassel attached to the hood. I decided to go with it and keep the colours of sky-blue and silver.

The first layer of painting left me unhappy with the gold-rimmed cloak. That seemed too much for travelling clothes, so I changed that to silver as well.

Yes! I'm very happy with how the cloak turned out. Still room for improvement, but definitely better than the last one. The sword also looks nice - I painted it silver with a dark blue scabbard, to retain some "elvish flavour". I decided to leave the base pretty much disadorned, except for a dark green base and some lighter drybrush. This miniature will probably be used in games, so I don't want to add staff that will come off with heavy handling.

Look at the famous Thorin, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, heir of the Folk of Durin, gloating at the prospects of his homecoming to Erebor:
The King beneath the mountains,
The King of carven stone,
The lord of silver fountains
Shall come into his own!

His crown shall be upholden,
His harp shall be restrung,
His halls shall echo golden
To songs of yore re-sung.

The woods shall wave on mountains
And grass beneath the sun;
His wealth shall flow in fountains
And the rivers golden run.

The streams shall run in gladness,
The lakes shall shine and burn,
And sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king's return!

sabato 10 dicembre 2016

Review: Essex Byzantines

You might have seen them in the earlier battle reports, but here is the review of the 9th-11th century Byzantine force I built for my games.

The force is small and based on a few units, but I plan to expand it with more. Overall, I'm very happy with Essex Byzantines.

A few words on the company: it is a well-known manufacturer of 15mm and 25mm historical figures located in, well, Essex - southeast UK. They have exceptinal variety of armies and the price is very honest. Service is good and my items got shipped in a timely and efficient way.

Now, to the figures:

BZA01 - Byzantine: Command: Mounted General

Three figures, horseman and steed separated. Two different steeds, very well made. One, same figure for the horsemen. Seriously? They don't even look like Byzantines of that era, without armour and with a very simple helm. Armed with mace, no shield, a scabbard hanging from the side, under the cloak. Frankly speaking, I've seen better, but anyway.

BZA14 -  Byzantine: Kataphraktoi Extra Heavy Cavalry

These are not actually BZA14, since the shield is different - my figures have a kite shield, apparently not available anymore. BZA14 have a round shield. Everything else is the same.
Now I must say these miniatures are very nice - not like BZA01. They seem to respect history very well, and they have fine details and all. Again, they are four and all exactly the same. The horses have two poses, but again wonderful sculpt. Alas, the Essex website does not credit scultpors!

BZA17, BZA18 Byzantine: Skutatoi

Now the backbone of this force: the Skutatoi. These are my favourites. In every pack there are 8 pieces that are exactly the same BUT there are three different poses under different codes: BZA17, BZA18 and BZA25, so one can have some variety among the ranks. Additionally, the details on the figures allow for differentiation by colour:

BZA27 Byzantine: Varangian Guard 

These are also good: 8 figures with two poses, and fine detail. Historically realistic. Full of character, too.

They even have relief decorations on the cloak, Chinese brocade style.

All in all, Essex Byzantines are a good range and I'll be purchasing more of them. I'll probably need a command group and some archers, light cavalry and a couple more Caraphracts with different poses. Well done, Essex!

giovedì 1 dicembre 2016

GW Beastman Shaman (1993)

Vintage miniatures, again with this Citadel Beastman Shaman (73002/2) from 1993. Another nice lead miniature found on ebay.

And no wonder it's so fine - we are speaking of Mr. Michael Perry's art. The detail is lovely, especially the staff covered with a collection of Beastman and Human skulls.

Choosing the colour pattern wasn't easy. To be frank I'm used to painting good guys, and for this one I had to change my habits in order to set a creepier and darker mood. A search on Google Images helped, and the trick was rather simple but very smart - go for a low light source, such as the light of a bonfire. In other words, instead of painting the upper parts in lighter colours, I painted the lower parts of the figure, as if it was standing near a light on the ground.

'Cause Bestmen come at night, you fools!

In a way, it worked. I still have to practice more, with a darker undercoat and lighter highlights.

The base was completed with coarse construction sand and Swamp Tufts from Army Painter, just because the greyish colour goes well with a nightly setting.

I'm gonna use this one as the villain in some adventure with WFRP, or Zweihänder maybe. Beastmen are always good for a fight!