Sunday, 27 April 2014

LX. Flying Pests and a Bell-head

Accepting the fact I will never see the 15mm fairy swarms I ordered, I started looking for replacements. I was just beginning to contemplate sculpting them myself from scratch (not quite sure I can pull that off), when the new release by GW reminded me that Wood Elf core units often come with a number of little forest critters on their sprues - extra bits for decorating bases. Some of those looked acceptable as they were, others seemed they would do, but with slight modification. I inquired among the WHFB  players in my club, and the very next day I had a dozen or so of these sprites in my paws. 
I got to work right away, anxious to see how they would look. These are the first three:


Fairies.

Because they are small, the bases looked sort of desolate with just them on. So I added a number of tiny wisps flying about to fill the space a bit. Even if it is not clear what they are, they do solve the problem - so I think they are staying. What do you think?

*   *   *

As a break from this fairy madness, I returned to the filthy Troglodytes. The last three Workers are yet to get a weapon swap, but I am making great progress on the big warrior hero (still not settled on the name for him). A plastic plaguebearer was a perfect starting point because it is about the right size and he sports the same kind of gruesome flesh deformities that can be found on other Troglodytes.

The brute with his gang.

I added Tzeentch Horror arms - they reach to the floor and make him look all ape-like. As a weapon he wealds a freakishly long thigh-bone, which probably used to belong to some curious, unknown cave beast. And then we get to the head and the question of why he is wearing a bell for a helmet. 
First, the backstory explanation: 
As I mentioned in earlier posts, Troglodytes really like objects made of metal because they can't craft them themselves. Metal is a status symbol, so it's common to see it dangling from the more influential and prestigious members of the Troglodyte species. And it's not just that; this particular bell has spiritual properties and is a war trophy. A raiding party led by its wearer ransacked a village, and he took the bell from the collapsed belltower of a church they burned in the process. Slaying the brute and retrieving the bell will make a fine scenario for the campaign.  
Now, why he really has a bell on his head:
It was either this, or sculpting his entire ugly mug. This was the easy way out, and I have to say I'm glad I took it. It's an unusual concept, and, most importantly, it looks good (to me, at least). I made sure there were some holes in the bell so he can see where he's going. I'm also pleased with how dynamic his pose came out.

His backside.

Now I just have to sculpt what makes him a "he", and add proper, more human-like toes on his feet. Then he's ready for the brush. I'd love to hear your opinions before I start painting.
It just occured to me that he would make a fine Nurgle Herald with a suitable paintjob. It all fits - even the three holes on the bell can be interpreted as Nurgle's symbol. :D

Monday, 21 April 2014

LIX. The Fair Folk

A preview of a new faction: the Fairies.



I. Fairies in Gardens of Hecate



The Fair Folk are an ancient people unrelated to humans. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes: from a couple of inches to the height of a house. They inhabit and rule wild areas inaccessible to man: deep forests, high mountains and some of the upper underworlds. The human population generally fears them and avoids contact with them (there are, of course, a few exceptions). No wonder, since they have been known to trick, injure, kill, kidnap and transform humans, not to mention eat them. What causes probably the biggest outrage is the fact they take away infants and children, often leaving behind a nasty changeling.  

The Piper

The leader of this particular Fairy gang. He and his crew make a living from trade in stolen human children. A child has a multitude of uses for the Fae, including being an exotic pet, a slave or a special delicacy. The Piper has a magic flute, whose melodies can prove fatal for the mortals who hear it. From human perspective he's a vicious monster, but for his own kind he's just another guy.


The miniature is Hamelin, Avatar of Contagion for Malifaux. I had wanted to get this mini for a while, but was put off by the price: 35$ for a human-sized 32mm metal miniature. The price is so steep because it comes with a big scenic sewer base (which I had no intention of using). In the end I gave in because it's just too awesome. 
When I opened the box, the pipe was bent terribly out of shape, and when I attempted to fix that it broke off. Some drilling, cutting, gluing, greenstuffing (and a fair bit of cursing and swearing) later, Hamelin got a new pipe. It's not quite like the original one, but he's not complaining.  


I call him done, but there's a chance I'll do some more freehand on his coat some time.



Bratcatchers

A pair of Piper's pucks who help him lure and snatch children. They are big ugly goblins, but they try to make themselves more graceful by dressing up - and the result is quite grotesque. 


About the minis: these are Fairies 1 and 2 by Victoria Miniatures, created for the game Labyrintus. The game itself is still work in progress (has been for years now, who knows whether it will ever get released), but what I can see for now on the Labyrintus website is beautiful. 
When I bought the pair I didn't have any specific purpose for them in mind. They came in handy when I started imagining the Fairy faction.


The Stolen

The children that were taken and are kept under the Piper's influence.
I have three copies of Sidiamie, a miniature from Rackham's Confrontation range. You can see them up in the first picture of the post, standing in the front. I intend to convert two of them to get three similar but not identical sculpts. One will probably get a hat, the other a different toy, and such.

Fairy Swarms

Aside from the Bratcatchers, the Piper controls swarms of tiny blue winged Fairies. With their sharp teeth and a voracious appetite, a big enough swarm of these creatures can devour a man in a matter of seconds. Luckily, though, they seldom unite into groups of that size. 
For these I wanted to use 15mm Fairies and Leaflets by Warfairy. I ordered them from the online store exactly four weeks ago, and the order still has not been shipped to this day. I've sent them three e-mails inquiring about this, but I got no reply whatsoever. I don't know what's going on over there, but I have a feeling I'll have to find something else to use for the Fairy Swarms, or maybe even come up with a completely different concept. Also, I'll have to report Warfairy to PayPal; I'd hate to do that, but this is no way to treat a customer and I would like my money back. It's a real shame, because these minis would have been just perfect.  :(

Others

I'm sure I'll come up with many more Fairy creatures; for this crew and otherwise. There is one already among the mercenaries: the Fairy Sniper from some time go. Also, the Ogre is one of their kind (he will also be a mercenary). 


II. The Inspiration

"It's easy, all too easy, for people nowadays to get hold of the wrong end of the stick if you tell them there are 'elves' about. And if you say 'fairies', that just makes matters worse. People think of tall, shining figures dancing in rings in the moonlight to the loveliest music one could hope to hear; or tiny dainty creatures with butterfly wings, fluttering round flowers.
And in a way, some of this is true. For elves do generally choose to appear tall, beautiful and glamurous to humans. (...) They do sing and dance, and sometimes they laugh a lot, though you would probably not like it if you knew what they were laughing about. And there are indeed little flying ones, though they have more in common with hornets than with butterflies. In truth, elves and fairies are a predatory, cruel, parasitic race, who will use other living beings, and hurt them, because this is fun.
(...)
[Earlier generations on Earth] knew for sure that there were elves and fairies lurking in pools and streams, in deep woods and inside mounds and rocks, and sweeping across the sky in the wild winter winds. And they knew that these beings were cold-hearted, revengeful, often cruel, however beautiful their faces and however enchanting their music."

- on the matter of elves from The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and dr. Jacqueline Simpson

Artwork by Arthur Rackham.

I really like how Sir Pratchett imagined elves in his Discworld universe. They appear in several novels, debuting in Lords and Ladies (1992). The fairies in Gardens of Hecate don't really have that much in common with the elves of Discworld; the main idea with those, I think, is that if something is enchanting and beautiful that doesn't mean it is good.  However, another theme present in Lords and Ladies is the fickleness of collective memory, which I find more interesting. This brings us to the above quotation, as well as this bit from the aforementioned novel:

"People didn't seem to remember what it was like with the elves around. Life was certainly more interesting then, but usually because it was shorter. And it was more colourful, if you liked the colour of blood. It got so people didn't even dare talk openly about the bastards.
You said: The Shining Ones. You said: The Fair Folk. And you spat, and touched iron. But generations later, you forgot about the spitting and the iron, and forgot why you used those names for them, and you remembered only that they were beautiful." 

- from Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

The same thing happened in our world. As time passed and our way of life changed, so their purpose changed- and we forgot their original sinister nature and stopped taking them seriously. So nowadays when one says "elf", we think Tolkien, and when someone says "fairy" we think cute, harmless, tiny thing with wings. Not scary or murderous at all; mischievous at most.  Something nice for children. Just like fairytales.

Artwork by Arthur Rackham.
 
Of course, there are examples of the opposite.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a 2011 horror film produced and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, features nasty vermin-like tooth fairies as antagonists.
Speaking of del Toro, I am a big fan of how fairy creatures are imagined in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) and in El laberinto del fauno (2006). These pictures have had a big influence over my own interpretation of the Fair Folk, and are real visual treats. The scenes at the troll market in Hellboy II and the Pale Man's lair from Pan's Labyrinth, for instance, I keep coming back to. 



The aforementioned Mexican filmmaker, as he stated himself, is an admirer of the literary work of Arthur Machen, a Welsh author of horror fiction from the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century. And so am I. Machen's most  famous and most influential work is the novella The Great God Pan, but my personal favourite is his short story The White People. I couldn't recommend it more. For me, its awesomeness is in its subtlety and generally creepy atmosphere throughout the narrative. Machen's writings strongly remind me of Lovecraft's in the way they produce horror. I mention it because it also belongs among the inspirations for my Fairy faction. 


III. The Rules


The rules for the faction will be based on Malifaux2E Hamelin's Crew:

  • The Piper - Hamelin, 
  • Stolen- Stolen,
  • Bratcatchers- Ratcatchers, 
  • Fairy Swarms- Malifaux Rats, 
  • Swarms of Swarms- Rat Kings. 

*   *   *


Saturday, 12 April 2014

LVIII. An Ogre and the Liebster Award

I have received my order from Mannikin Studios. The item I chose was Puss in Boots and the Ogre, a pair of miniatures based on this particular illustration by Arthur Rackham:


The cat and the ogre came packed together in a clamshell, with a 30mm base for each of them:


Also, the package contained an individual certificate of authenticity for both characters.



The sculpts are very nice, both done by Jody Siegel. He has his own little miniature company, Imbrian Arts - some neat miniatures there as well. I haven't got any of them yet, but I would sure love to. 
Anyway, the cast. The minis are resin and a few mould lines can be found here and there, but nothing extreme.


 The Ogre comes in three pieces: the main body, the left leg and the right hand.


As you can see, there is a little bubble on Puss' tricorne, but it can be easiliy fixed. He comes as a single piece.


The Ogre stands taller than a human, and Puss is really tiny. He's bloody adorable, I must say.


These two characters would look fantastic made into a diorama. Especially if it is done to look like the original Rackham's illustration. However, that's not what I have in mind for these two. The Ogre is to become a mercenary in Gardens of Hecate. The cat's fate is yet uncertain. : )


*   *   *

And now, the Liebster Award. 


As far as I am aware, I've been nominated by three different bloggers: Stygianheart of Meandring Shade, Fimm Mc Cool of Fimm Mc Cool's Games Orkshop and axiom, of Magpie and Old Lead. Thanks, all of you.

The nominee's task is to give 11 truths about themselves, answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated them, make 11 questions of their own and nominate another 11 blogs to spread the contagion. The purpose of this is to discover new interesting blogs and have a bit of fun. So here we go:

I. The Eleven Truths

  1. I like to collect things. 
  2. I have a special affinity for small, shiny objects. Especially, but not exclusively, made of metal.
  3. I really like books. Not just for what they hold on their pages, but also as objects themselves.
  4. I like to make beautiful things. 
  5. Crowds make me feel uncomfortable.
  6. I love stories.
  7. I am lazy and wish I wasn't- I'd get on much better in life.
  8. I have quite poor memory.
  9. I don't speak much...
  10. ...but I do think much.
  11. I'm a smoker.

II. The Eleven Answers


Axiom forgot to ask his questions, so I have Stygianhear's and Fimm Mc Cool's. I'll just combine them and pick eleven out of those twenty-two; I hope you guys don't mind the hybridisation.

  1. What have you wanted to do in the hobby but have put off for a long time?  Making terrain. I only started doing that relatively recently.
  2. Would you say you are more a hobbyist or gamer and why? I'm definitely more of a hobbyst. I see gaming simply as a chance to display painted miniatures. I love this hobby because I can express my creativity through it.
  3. Do you have a comfort zone in painting technique or colours that you tend to fall back on? Yes I do. I have a bit messy, grimy style. I usually work with my limited pallette of blacks, greys, browns, off-whites, sickly greens and muted reds. You won't find many bright colours on my miniatures; not my cup of tea.
  4. Do you like to have the right atmosphere when working on your hobby, music, movies, quiet? I like to have some sort of background noise.  It can be music, a film I'm half watching, an audiobook, the radio or even my brother rambling about video games or whatnot.
  5. What one hobby item (miniature/game system) that's long out of production/rare, would you love to have?  The entire Rackham Confrontation range.
  6. What else do you like to do to pass the time?  I like to read. Draw. Daydream. Sleep. Drink...
  7. When you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, what would you like to happen to your hobby collection? I'd like my brother to have it.
  8. What was the first miniature you bought, and do you still have it?  I can't recall what was the first mini I myself bought, but the first minis I ever possessed were plastic Marauders of Chaos. I do still have them. 
  9. What could you have been if things had been different? A totally different person, probably. 
  10. Do you check in on the Oldhammer Forum or Facebook Group? Nope. But I do follow some blogs that have something to do with Oldhammer.
  11. If you could live anywhere (real or fictional) it would be? The Shire. I'd totally fit in.

 

III. The Eleven Blogs


IV. The Eleven Questions

  1. What was the last book you've read? 
  2. If you could spend a day with any person out of all of human history, who would it be and why?
  3. Would you rather burn everything you own, or keep everything you own but never gain anything for the rest of your life?
  4. Does the idea of humans technologically augmenting themselves worry you?
  5. Would you rather be able to read minds, or be able to become invisible at will?
  6. Would you rather be able to turn into an insect at will, or into a vicious beast uncontrollably? 
  7. Would you rather have a flesh-eating virus, or have no skin?
  8. What would you do if you came home one day to find everything and everyone in your house/flat was replaced by an exact copy?
  9. Would you rather be roasted alive, or live forever inside a coffer?
  10. Would you rather eat fifty pounds of pig fat, or jump into a pool of acid?
  11. What's in the box?!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

LVII. Miscellaneous

    Speedpainted another three Troglodyte workers:


    Just three more will make ten, and that's where I'll stop. This is he filthy horde so far:



    *   *   *

    Little by little I cleaned up and assembled another Citadel Wood kit. On the first tree I tried out a new colour scheme. What do you think? It's still a work in progress; I add a bit to the paintjob whenever I feel inspired.



    *   *   *

    Now let's take just a tiny peek at what's a bit further up the pipeline, shall we?

    A small pile of metal has acumulated-  miniatures waiting for their turn at the painting desk:


    I have two brand new factions more or less planned out, and a number of mercenaries as well. One of those two factions will get a feature post shortly, as soon as all the members come in through the post.

    *   *   *

    And in the end, a couple of recent discoveries I'd like to share with you. 
    First: Paints, Pencils and Plastics, a blog by Jordan Lee. It started recently, and Jordan and his friend are working on a project a lot like Spiky Rat Pack's Punk Moth, only set in the Old World rather than the 40K universe. In his own words:

    "With Project Morrslieb, we hope to create a grand experience set within the dark underbelly of the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy. Using custom rules based upon the Mordheim ruleset, converted models from the Games Workshop range and a board of our own designing we will construct a story that will chill the blood and be all round delightful to play {Insert evil chuckle here}."

    I find that it has a lot of potential and I've been following his progress from the very beginning. : )

    The other discovery was Mannikin Studios, a miniature company that makes resin miniatures based on Arthur Rackham's artwork. They are beautiful sculpts, and even more awesome if you're a fan of A. Rackham's work. I ordered one already and I'll do a short review when it arrives.