Friday, 10 July 2009

2mm Tolkien: The Project That Never Was...

"Know thou, oh Prince, that Eons ago, when the world was young, an aged Wargamer paced the battlements of his eldritch Tower, perched up high so far above the plains below. He watched as the wars and warriors of Man ebbed and flowed so far beneath his feet, and he saw that they were small and perfectly formed at that far removed vantage point. He spent many hours searching the ancient tomes of knowledge known as the Irregular Miniature's Catalogue and saw that it was good; his avarice knew no bounds, and from far and wide, he collected all of the most tiniest miniatures that he could obtain, and yet his mind knew no rest, his hunger was never satisfied...."

Regular readers of this Blog will no doubt know of my sometimes illogical liking for the smallest of perfectly formed minis, and in particular, those of approximately 1/900th scale; it would seem obvious then, that I should enjoy all that there is to offer in this most interesting of scales, and that I would experiment in all the available periods and types. To some extent, this is true, however in working my way steadily through the Irregular catalogue, I came to an unexpected and uncharacteristic halt with their 2mm Fantasy range.

It is not that there is anything wrong with this particular, Tolkien inspired range, and indeed, some of the sculpts are some of the best I have seen at this size, (In spite of Tony Hughes' assertion that the Dragon looks like a Hippo....more on this later!) but for the life of me I could not motivate myself to move forward with this project.

I normally buy a number of figures, in small batches, to 'test the water', or that is at least what I convince myself - for some reason these modest tests soon turn into full blown projects, yet here I came across a sort of Wargamer's block, and see these as a failure of sorts.

I am a proponent of using 2mm in the 'Grand Scale' for maximum Mass on the table top, yet for some reason, I could not see a clear way to use this approach with this particular range, balanced as it is between some exquisite character figures such as the Nazgul or Giants, and the more bread and butter, if very interesting offerings of various Goblin types.

It would seem a foregone conclusion to use these in a Battle of the Five Armies (BOTFA) or Battle of the Pelennor Fields (BOTPF) scenario, where armies would really mean armies, yet I am torn on how to develop this line, having come across the excellent work done at this particular page over at Blackbird Media some time ago; this floats the idea of using a board-gaming approach with character bases on some of the best scratch built boards I have ever seen, which I am finding irresistible, yet entirely at odds with my normal approach:

The whole idea is a very attractive one, and is supported by the stunning little home-built city models, particularly Minas Tirith, as well as the ideas they develop on using 10mm GW BOTFA or Copplestone minis, or even larger ones as the various character stands; the Irregular 2mm would also seem ideal for this purpose. Before I get carried away however, let's look at some of what Irregular has to offer; it is as always, a good idea to consult the Gildas Facit website of Tony Hughes for a descriptive listing of what is available, with helpful comments and measurements:
(Scroll down for the Fantasy Range)

You see below the IKF1 Dragon, painted here as my version of Smaug of the Lonely Mountain, and actually, unlike Tony, I think that it is not a hippo, but has a rather canine appearance, quite suitable when you think of early medieval depictions of the Great Winged Worms:

He is mounted, in line with the ideas on the Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields page, on a single base, in this case a UK 2 pence coin, which has a diameter of around 26mm. I think this sculpt is full of character, if it is a bit more cute than it is terrifying, and the left wing tip rears up at a slightly odd angle, yet this could be bent into a better shape prior to painting with pliers - something of course, I forgot to do!

Next up we have "the Eagles, the Eagles!" as the invisible Bilbo was so fond of shouting, IKF11, which are depicted in a small flock - a little flat, perhaps, but actually quite good given their small size.
(Remember all photos on this Blog are clickable for a Super Macro view).
I mounted this on 2p coins again, here with mini Misty Mountains underneath to give the illusion of flying, again, with a view to using them as counter types:

Then we see the embodiment of all Evil, IKF4 Nazgul, which has a great 'Fell Beast' surmounted by a tiny rider, again on a 2p, with Mount Doom type assistance to provide the illusion of flight. This is another fantastic sculpt, and I am really pleased with how it turned out, all the more grist to add to the confusion in my mind as to which way to turn; mass battle as usual, or something more 'board-gamey':

"Master Frodo, will I see an Olliphant, will I though, will I.....?" Well, Sam Gamgee, your wish is granted, but be careful what you wish for, for here come three all at once to do some stomping!

This base illustrates the schizophrenic nature of this test project so far, in that a single IKF5 Mumakil looked rather bereft, all on its own, so I was only happy when basing up a trio, here on a standard 2mm MDF 40x30mm base. These are again an excellent depiction by Irregular, with a crew in the Howdah along with a visible Mahut driver, as well as sweeping great flags surmounted by great big skulls; really really good, but how would they fit into a board game approach?

Next we have a couple of very grumpy looking Ents, IKF3, which are perhaps a bit underwhwelming, and might be better served being scratch built, particularly if based singly. Seen here on a standard 40x20mm base:

Coming along next, and hopefully avoiding the sunlight (SPF50 is best boys!), we have the IKF6 Trolls, which are again great little sculpts; I seem to have gone a bit 'Dallimore' with the paint-job, not bad on a 2mm mini!

Bringing up the rear we have probably the crispest sculpts in the range, the IKF2 Giant, which are brilliant models, and would have changed most people's perceptions of Irregular's stuff if only all their 6mm output looked like this, standing as they do, just shy of 7mm in height:

Finally we have some views of what I have attempted so far from the various Goblin bases, these are very well done, given how small they are, (That's three IKF 8 blocks each on two 40x20mm bases) and would perhaps lend themselves best to my normal approach of big armies:

IKF7, Wolves, and IKF9 Goblin Wolf Riders lead on the infantry:

The Wolf block is a little flat, with the wolves themselves being very squashed down (They would make great mice or rats for a 28mm Pied Piper of Hamelin), and I am somewhat dis-satisfied with only three on a 40x20mm base, I think a lot of them on a much larger base would really do the trick, but then that leads me back to my dilemma....

The Goblin Wolf Riders are well done, in cavalry style, with the Wolves much larger, and suitably 'Warg' - like.

Overall, then, with such an embarrassment of tiny riches, you would think it would be an easy decision for me to plunge headlong into this project, but is has remained stuck, whilst I dither as to whether to be charmed with the idea of a home made board game, which stands at the very opposite of my normal approach (I always strongly defend 2mm minis as being so much more than mere gaming counters, when compared to their larger cousins), or to move ahead with large bases mounting realistic formations - and this of course brings me into the realm of how to depict the various 'Good' troops, Elves, Dwarves, etc which are lacking in the Fantasy Range, and their likely Ancients stand ins, but that is a whole other post.....

So for the moment, I will remain torn between the success of the 2p coin mounted characters, and the not so hot looking standard troops on larger bases; "this truly, quoth he, was the Project that Never Was... "


  1. I fear you would collect 1mm if they were available.

  2. Beautiful! Why not trying some flock on the ents' heads and upper torso, to give them a more trea-like appearance?
    Have you checked the Mighty Empires for a campaign quasy-boardgame? I think the rules of an old edition were freely available at the Specialist Games site ...

  3. Hi Michael, yes, that is probably only too true.....

    Luka, thanks for the tip with the Ents, might try that, although I don't want them disappearing under the foliage though - and thanks for the reference to the Mighty Empires rules, I'll definitely give those a look.

    Cheers, SteelonSand.

  4. The Mighty Empires are still freely downloadable. It's more of a campaign system ("toolbox") really, but as far as I know they can be played on their own and I'm positive you could make them suit you. Another issue might be the hex terrain, but I know of at least three ways to obtain it, not counting the offical GW's products, so if you'll need some source just ask.

  5. Steel,

    Would you say that the Great Eagle would be make for good aerial cavalry? Do you think they would pass for Eagles being ridden along side other 2mm infantry and cavalry?

    I am looking for something to represent my 2mm Martian aerial cavalry.


  6. Hi Eli, I think that the Irregular Eagles as they stand are very much a 'flock of birds' rather than a flight of mighty raptors.....certainly, unless you did a bit of conversion, (some blobs of superglue on their backs as riders?) they wouldn't really look as if they are being ridden as such.

    Ironically, the Nazgul sculpt is far better, being single and larger, with an obvious rider, but of course is too evil looking for your needs!

    Maybe there might be something available in 6mm? - a single bird might be better than this flock, and might not look out of place amongst 2mm, given that it would be flying at a higher elevation....

    If not then maybe best to compromise with the IKF11.

    Sorry I can't be of any more help!

  7. I think this is a great looking project, I hope you post more on this one. Here's what I'm using for the other races:

    Elves - ABG3 Peltasts: They are well spaced apart and quite tall.

    Dwarves - BG3 Skirmish: As they are crouched and chunky they look quite good in large numbers as dwarves. A bit of filing is required to get the best out of them though.

    The Irregular 6mm spider is pretty fearsome, it looks like it could give the 2mm dragon a fair fight!

  8. Hi there, yes, this project is yet to appear from out of the mists of indecision!

    That said, the other day I did convert some of the multiple based units over to the single 'based on a tuppence' type, so I am leaning toward the more board game piece approach, i think.

    Great advice about the Elves/Dwarves - I'll have to give them a try - and of course, a 6mm spider as Shelob - that'll have to be on a future shopping list!

  9. hi Steel,
    I've mentioned to Ian at Irregular Minis that your photos are fantastic and he agrees. He'd like to have your permission to use the photos but doesn't know how to contact you (I don't think he has a blog account). It's probably easier if you contact him directly about your Fantasy 2mm pics. The Irregular minis website has not a single photo of the fantasy range.

  10. Hi David, thanks for the referral, that's very kind of you - I'll try emailing Ian and the gang at Irregular and see if we can work something out - the Fantasy range is on the whole, very nicely sculpted, and I'd be proud to have my humble efforts involved in popularising them via their website.

    The more 2mm that is visible on the 'net, the closest the smallest of scales will come to taking over the world! :-)