Sunday 25 September 2022

15mm Dungeon: Character Progression…..


I’ve started the process of tackling the painting of my first group of player-characters for the dungeon crawl, as introduced in my previous ‘Roll Call” posting, with so far, some mixed results….

The minis I chose were principally from Ral Partha Europe, and are all excellent, well-defined sculpts with plenty of detail and character, so in terms of initial block painting, went quite smoothly - some of my colour choices not withstanding ! 

It was only when I made an attempt at highlighting, using washes etc, that things went a bit awry, showing I still have a lot to learn in tackling 15mm !

Anyway, onto the cast list:

First up, we have Melita the Female Cleric / Magic User, of the Sisters of the Sword, accompanied by the wily and devious Vilek, the Thief:

I think Melita warrants some more detailing, and although the basic paint job of ecclesiastical-type garb is fine, the highlights and first wash have rather muddied her off-white robes, similarly, areas of the flesh are now rather blotchy - I think getting my eye in at this scale is still taking time, and what should have been easy paler skin highlights are just sort of blobby - sorry Melita !

Vilek has come off a bit better, although the tabard/sporran affair to his front and his shoulder pads should have been a nice contrasting colour, again the highlights are off, with them turning a ‘spicy’ orange colour - he’s come over as a bit Sci-fi, - thankfully, his flaming torch serves to ground him somewhat…..

Moving on, we encounter more of the Thief’s companions, namely Herk the Hero, Male Fighter, and Borrin the Dwarf, a veteran warrior:


They are another pair of cleanly realised and interesting sculpts, with very good facial features and proportions, although Herk is a little on the short side !

The Fighter is wearing a nice pair of metal greaves, open to the rear, and a back and breast plate - nothing too hard to handle, although again, I’ve managed to muddy rather than give depth to his clothing - the saving grace, perhaps, is that I’m finally getting a bit better at dotting in eyes - a bit less ‘googly’ than before….. his shield is a nice blank canvas, but I have yet to think of what design to add - I wanted an orange field, but sort of faltered having put in an off-centre oblique/bend in white…..hmmm….will have to wait for more inspiration to come…. 

Borrin is replete with small details and weapons/accoutrements, as well as sporting some impressive horns to his helm…. I’m quite pleased with him so far, although I’m unsure about leaving his beard such a bland grey - my ambition might take me along the road of trying some more natural tints, but the reality is that I don’t want to muck it up - veteran dwarves do not like blotchy beards !

His shield design was my attempt at a flying green dragon in heraldic style 2D - bearing in mind he is holding it horizontally -definitely needs some more work - a bit more squashed gecko than terrifying draconian……

Joining him is Leofric the Ranger, resplendent in Lincoln green, ( I know, I know, a bit of a lazy choice for the stereotypical archer…)


Again, he’s suffering from some shoddy highlights, particularly blotchy on his face - but overall not too bad, if so far a bit bland.

Next, we have Mela the Shield Maiden, Female Fighter, who is rather suffering from my poor fashion choices for her, and Bork the Barbarian, who is giving me all sorts of headaches…..

Mela is an amazing piece of work, with her sharp, expressive features and detailed dress - but I think I have rather let her down with the colour choice - I mean, tangerine orange with neon yellow details….. whoa - the 70s are calling and Abigail wants her frock back……. I think years of painting uniform drab and more drab have not prepared me for coming up with inspiration for the female form - so I am sure she is cursing me for my poor taste - it’s a bad bridesmaids dress if I ever saw one !

I added the shield from my spares pile, and not wanting to polish the tur…..I mean, gild the lily, I went completely the other way with a plain brown - hoping to tone things down…. Not sure it works, really, so will have to have a think - at least it makes her look quite business-like…..

Bork is also all business, with his gratuitous weapons load of sword, long dagger, axe, shield, bow and quiver, topped off with a rolled blanket - there is a lot going on !

This sculpt is from Alternative Armies, and is actually a carry-over from 15mm Asgard/TTG:

Given his age, his features / details are rather soft, so a bit harder to bring out the character without a light touch….

Unfortunately, my painting here is as thick as that thing between his ears, and he is in serious need of some careful re-touching and detailing work - I will quickly gloss over my attempts at a tartan blanket for the shoulder roll…..gulp…..

Bringing up the rear comes the gorgeous Gandagor the Ginger, Male Magic User, and his wobbly green staff of wizardry…..

Again, a lovely detailed and characterful sculpt in appropriate pose, but also again, a bit let down by some of my muddy washing and over-enthusiastic dry-brushing…. Definitely a work in progress - someone will have to work their magic on him before he can really look the part.

So, as my old school reports always used to say “A good start, but must do better….” 

However, undaunted by my mediocrity - I went ahead with a bit of fun that is reminiscent of someone that people of a certain vintage might remember - a few visual clues:

Now, as a hardened player of the real thing at the time, and probably by then being too old for its target demographic, I recollect being scoffily dismissive of this particular cartoon, feeling it was misnomered as Dungeons and Dragons, but actually with hindsight, it wasn’t actually that bad, given the intent behind it:

One character that particularly annoyed me was the eponymous Dungeon Master, but when I spotted the shape and size of the Dosojin from their Sengoku Japanese range, something clicked inside my head….

So, my project now has its very own director of all things Dungeon:

A good bit of fun, anyway, before I get too serious in judging the quality of my efforts so far - he certainly seems quite pleased with himself, even when flanked by two of Alternative Armies’ scorpions:

Don’t forget to tune in next time for more adventures, Kids!

Wednesday 21 September 2022

15mm Dungeon: Moulds, Slimes and Jellies…..


A quick insert post with some small progress on the project, as things have been somewhat delayed with the recent passing of HM the Queen, so not much chance to work on hobby related things of late.

Stepping in, then, are a few of the grosser inhabitants of the dungeon, namely the deadly slimes and moulds that drip and ooze their way around winding passages, and the gelatinous predators that stalk the stone-flagged corridors….

These are made up of the contents of a pack from the 25mm range from Pendragon Miniatures at Wargames Design Workshop:

A great range of sculpts that retail for the princely sum of £2.65 for six pieces !

And the somewhat more expensive hollow gelatinous cubes from Splintered Light Miniatures available in the UK at The Little Corporal:

These are nicely cast pieces with a roughened looking outer surface, that are capable of ‘swallowing’ a 15mm miniature. They perhaps go against the ‘home made ‘ ethos of the project, so were a bit of an indulgence…. I have heard tales of some cheap ice-cube trays that are available from discount or pound-shops that are made up of similar ‘icy’ cube shapes, that can be cut and separated into individual pieces, but try as I might, I could never lay my hands on one, and those seen in online stores are quite expensive - so I went for the real thing, as it were, instead. 

I decided to mount the smooth slime minis onto stone blocks cut from blue foam - they come flat, but a bit of bending with some needle-nosed pliers produced the following dripping-down-the-wall shapes:

A very basic paint-job later, and they start to look the part:

I finished them off with some drops ‘bubbled’ directly from the applicator nozzles of Vallejo paint bottles to add a bit of texture and interest - not sure if these will get good adhesion over time, lying as they are on a smooth surface, but they seem relatively stable after some varnish:

Seen for scale alongside a skeletal warrior - not sure they will be able to suck much sustenance from his dry bones !

Again, for scale, the warrior squares up to the gelatinous cubes, one showing the hollow interior:

I did have a photo of him captured inside one, but he effectively disappears as far as my camera is concerned once engulfed, so a bit of a non-picture - I’m sure you get the gist, anyway….

Moving on, we come to the bubbling moulds - a great group of tentacle-sprouting monstrosities:

Their sculpted surfaces hold a paint job really well, and allow for some suitably gloopy and disgusting colouring - the one on the far right is actually stolen from another Pendragon 25mm set, ‘decomposed bodies rising from the slime’ - the skull and engulfed hand reaching forward were irresistible !

The colours on these came out a little more Matt than I wanted, but I’ll probably do a few more coats of gloss varnish to be sure:

So, a quick interlude with plenty more things to imperil any party of dungeon-crawlers - hopefully I’ll be moving on to an overview of the project as a whole soon.

Saturday 3 September 2022

15mm Dungeon: Orcs and their ilk…..


I’m beginning to move on to the more familiar dungeon denizens now for this project, as I get more comfortable with painting these large ( ! ) 15mm figures. It’s been a bit of a steep learning curve, and I’m keeping things deliberately simple for now, with block colours and washes and drybrushing, rather than highlights and other subtleties….. hopefully improving enough so that I can eventually make a decent fist of doing the main characters for an adventure party or two.

So the latest minis to come under the brush are orcs, goblins, and some of their larger cousins - mostly in the form of Ral Partha Europe’s catalogue, as I liked their dynamic posing and suitably toothsome looks.

First up, a combination of their Heavy Warriors, Light Spearmen and Tribal Orcs which I feel gives a good range of sizes and demeanours - mostly mail armoured, and with some sharp looking blades - so a good match for unwary adventurers - the Heavy Warriors in particular, being taller and heftier, look the part - Ral Partha’s Demonworld line has a pack of them described as “Dwarf-Eaters” !

I went for a fairly standard ‘green’ look for these guys - I don’t at this stage want to go down the rabbit-hole of “what colour should Orcs be….?” - I grew up on Citadel ‘Red Orcs’ circa 1980, so am fairly agnostic as to what side to take in the debate:

I stuck with a red leather colour for their clothing to sort of tie them together as kith and kin, and free-handed the shield designs very roughly - they are Orcs, after all !

The shield on the chap in the right rear in the photo below is particularly nice - with a clean, cast-on design, so no need for any of my daubing !

I added some notches into the blades of the Heavy Warriors with a needle file prior to painting, just to make them look more like the veteran evil-doers that they are !

The next quartet are again Ral Partha - this time principally their Skirmisher Orcs - which have loincloths and simpler looking weapons, so make for a more primitive looking bunch - for this reason, I went with ‘yellow’ skin (actually  Army Painter ‘bone’ colour), to represent some more tribal cousins of the greens:

I’m minded to use these ‘primitive’ orcs as goblin tribesmen, as I’ve found it difficult to find goblin sculpts that I like - either they tend to be a bit on the small side, and not very well defined, or are burdened by being encased in lots of armour - alright in an ‘army’ setting, but not really as characters in a dungeon. I like to think of the goblins as being sneaky, hit and run types rather than the more belligerent, war-like orc…..besides, I’m a big fan of these sculpts - particularly their ‘mouthful of teeth’ sharp-toothedness - talk about having evil grins ! - so am happy to have more of them, whatever they represent…..

Overall, a great bunch of figures, and each distinct enough to raise the standard above being mere cannon-fodder in an adventure:

Next up, I moved on to what I am calling the ‘Heavy Mob’ - namely an Ogre and some Trolls and Troll-kin:

Gotta have some of these to make it a real D&D adventure !

There are a couple of mystery items in this bunch, in that the two mini-trolls are actually 10mm troglodytes that I recollect were made by Pendraken once upon a time, but I think are OOP since they went and re-vamped their Fantasy lines a few years ago - shame, because they are lovely hulking brutes, scaling well alongside 15mm:

Similarly mysterious is this fellow, who I cannot remember for the life of me where I sourced him - the sculpting, pose suggests Ral Partha, but in retrospect, I cannot find him in their voluminous catalogue:

He’s dressed in a really weird pair of trousers that have metallic cinching-bands at the top of the thighs, making it look suspiciously as if he is wearing cut-off shorts until you look closer, and has brass knuckles clenched in both fists - it’s as if he’s some sort of Troll gladiator or prize-fighter….. has a nicely ornate metal girdle as well - I’m sure it will come to me later where he belongs to, but for now, he remains as enigmatic as his paint-job - it was hard to get a handle on how to paint him, so I sort of fluffed it with the underwhelmingly grey pants, and in dotting on studs to his harness, made it look rather as if he is wearing a sort of leopard-skin crop-top ! - maybe he really belongs in an Eighties-era fitness video….. :-)

Moving swiftly away from that fashion disaster, I played it safe with a somewhat un-inspiring look for a standard Ral Partha Demonworld Ogre - he and the three or four other sculpts in the range have some lovely over-sized weapons:

Next up, another slight curveball for the final troll, in that he is not a metal miniature at all, but rather a plastic figure from a job-lot set of toy ‘mythical monsters’ that I sourced on EBay - he came alongside Medusas and Cyclopses and Hydras that are scaled around 15mm - maybe for some sort of board game ?

He is in a very bendy soft plastic that is hard to apply paint to, but I felt he had the look of a very traditional Troll figure, so I had to have him - I find that the output of most of the common 15mm manufacturers favour a sort of bird-jawed, long-snouted long-eared type of Troll, where I prefer his more brutish appearance - he wields a mean looking hammer, too !

Some satisfactory progress, then, and probably the majority of the ‘baddies’ done for the Dungeon Project - it occurs to me that I have yet to put together an overview of how the whole lot is looking when set out together, so will strive to get some decent photos of the layout as a whole soon, as well as finishing off a few more important terrain and scenic items, then the final push as I plunge into the individual player-character minis….. fingers crossed !