Thursday, 15 November 2018

Some very large orcs ...

There was a time when Nick Lund seemed to be in competition with himself to make the 28mm world's largest orcs. And how we juvenile gamers lapped it up!

The biggest Chronicle creation was Eeza Ugezod, who was a bit bigger in his second, Death Commandos incarnation than in his first Regiment of Renown appearance. But these two Grenadier miniatures are bigger still.

This one is about the size of a Chronicle ogre, and he'll make an excellent ogre in D&D (in any case, I like to use the humanoid distinctions to indicate size rather than species).

The chieftain in the horned helmet originally rode in a wolf-drawn chariot. I still have the bits, but my teenage self saw fit to mount some Citadel orcs on the wolves for Hordes of the Things. And there they remain. I have more use for a grumpy chieftain on foot than a chariot-rider.

As you can see, the latest additions tower over their lesser kin:

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

And another three orcs ...

Three more of the old Grenadier orcs. The one on the left is actually a goblin (I refuse to recognise a difference between orc and goblin in any case!), but given his size and air authority, I think he makes quite a decent half-orc.

Something fishy ...

Some Reaper Bones deep ones. I painted these last night in two hours flat: black gesso undercoat, medium-sea grey for the bodies and buff for the underbellies. Then a drybrush with silver-grey and a glaze of thinned Nightshade GW wash mixed with a bit of GW Camoshade wash. I washed some thinned GW Crimson over the underbellies, put undiluted Nightshade over the spinal scales and in the eye sockets, and sloshed some Camoshade here and there in the recesses. Then it was just a matter of painting the eyes and teeth.

The great thing about the Bones miniatures is that their cheapness and slightly soft detail encourages very fast painting.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


Half-price hirelings?

This is an intriguing line from the first edition of D&D (Book III, The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, 1974):
"Hired fighters can be men, dwarves or elves. Chaotic characters may wish to employ Orcs; Orc support and upkeep is only half that of a man." (p. 23)
I don't recall ever seeing a PC with orc hirelings in any RPG, but it would add a lot of interest to a campaign. They would fit best into a sort of Mos Eisley setting, in which all kinds of species mingle freely, but many D&D settings end up being that by default, what with all their new-fangled dragon-men and devil-men and whatnot.

So what would the considerations be for a PC with orcish followers? Well, except in the most Mos Eisleyan locales, the henchthings might have trouble getting put up in an inn ("We don't serve their kind!"). And if they did, there would be a fair chance of involvement in a brawl, or worse.

There might be trouble in the wilderness too. If a PC's orcish back-up are carrying the "filthy badges" of one tribe into the territory of another, they could incur all sorts of hostilities. And they'd be likely to draw the ire of elves and dwarves if they passed through their lands.

But there would be advantages too, quite apart from costs. For one thing, orcs see well in the dark. For another, they might well make better infiltrators into monster-held territory than human men-at-arms. And for intimidation purposes - whether in some subterranean lair or in a frightened merchant's townhouse - they're ideal.

So how do you recruit them? Well, some of the orc guards in your typical dungeon might be bullied, bribed or just bored. If you're a half-orc, you might have an 'in'. If you kill their leader, you might almost be expected to take command. And if you can provide opportunities for violence, loot and carousing (as the typical D&D PC can), then why not?

Monday, 5 November 2018

Three more!

Three more quick 'n' dirty orcs painted with my minimalistic two-tone approach.

Some new old orcs and some old old orcs

On a whim, I picked up some of the EM4 plastic orcs - possibly the cheapest 28mm miniatures out there. My main aim was to have a steady supply of miniatures for my kids to practice on, but I quite fancied a crack at them myself. So I've been converting a few and painting up some others. The first three are above.

To get these done quickly, I decided to give myself a sort of Dogme set of rules for these. The basic rule is 'one base colour, one highlight, no shading'. I only allow an additional highlight colour for flesh, to make it stand out a little more. The clothing is done simply with a flat colour and a single highlight. That makes painting them very quick indeed. I also permit myself a single brown wash over armour and leather, and an initial wash over the flesh before I add highlights.

It's worth noting that - despite what the internet says - these miniatures work perfectly well with polystyrene cement. I don't know whether the manufacturers changed the plastic at some point, but there's no need to rely on superglue, as various websites insist you must. I've swapped weapons and  helmets around using GW, Fireforge and Wargames Factory parts, and they all weld on perfectly with polystyrene cement. The three above are unconverted; the next batch will look quite different.

These miniatures were originally designed for the Fantasy Warriors game, which was released by Grenadier as a rival for Warhammer. I never played it, but I did pick up some of the accompanying metal orcs a long time ago. The EM4 purchase encouraged me to dig them out of the leadpile.

The metal orcs were designed by Nick Lund, who also wrote the Fantasy Warriors rules and was previously the owner and designer for Chronicle Miniatures, a company that was bought by Citadel Miniatures/GW in the 80s. The plastics were by Mark Copplestone, but in the style of Nick Lund. And it's a very distinctive style too. There's a marmite quality to the Lund sculpts. Some write them off as hopelessly crude. For me, though, and for many others, they've got a sort of primal power on the tabletop. Like the Perry twins, Lund was exceptionally good at getting a natural dynamism into his poses. And with his monsters and dwarves, he was tremendous at conveying power and brutality.

I see his miniatures as falling into three phases. The first phase consisted of the original Chronicle miniatures, such as his orcs, hobgoblins and kobolds. These are sometimes a little naive, but have a lot of visual impact. They look so brutish that I generally use the orcs as 15mm ogres and the kobolds as gnoll-type things in that scale. The ranges that Citadel produced and advertised were a big advance on the very earliest ones. The ogres and wolfriders are marvellous.

Chronicle black orcs - used as 15mm ogres
In the second phase were the slottabased black orcs and hobgoblins produced at Citadel, including Eeza Ugezod's Death Commandos. These were the best Lund miniatures ever produced, with the early dynamism combined with much sharper detail:

A slottabased black orc
The Fantasy Warriors metals for Grenadier were the third phase. These were largely a step back from the Citadel/Chronicle slottabased miniatures. I suspect this may have been because of the speed they were hammered out at. In particular, the boxed regiment produced for the game was pretty rough. And yet ... many of the blister-packed miniatures are really nice. They're a little rougher than the Citadel ones, but they have all the old charm.

Anyway, I painted up a few of the old FW metals using the same minimalist approach as the plastics. And I've got some more on the way, along with the converted plastics.