Tuesday 24 September 2019


Although I've never done any Middle Earth wargaming, I'm often tempted by it and always on the lookout for suitable miniatures. Those can be surprisingly hard to find - especially, perhaps, when it come to Orcs.

The fairly recent release of the Oathmark goblins changed that a bit; they're very nice Tolkien-esque figures, and wolf-riders are apparently to follow. But the only problem is that they fill only one of the two main Orcish slots in Tolkien's writings: that of the Uruks.

In The Lord of the Rings, goblins are broadly divided into two classes: the big fighting goblins (the Uruks) and the lesser kinds (whom the Uruks call "Snaga", meaning "slave"). The Oathmark goblins, being somewhat shorter than Men but still fairly large, fill the Uruk role perfectly (you might want to change the swords and bows for Isengarders).

But the smaller types must be closer to Hobbit-sized, because Frodo and Sam are mistaken for them when suitably disguised.

So I was pleased to discover that Oathmark heads and arms fit rather nicely onto Mantic goblin bodies. The Mantic goblins are much worse than their other lines - indeed, notoriously so. The beaky heads have a certain charm, but the arms are poorly cast and don't fit terribly well on the bodies. The Oathmark appendages solve that problem at a stroke.

What's nice about this is that the Oathmark goblins come with lots of extra heads and limbs, because each sprue allows for the assembly of its component Orcs as archers, spearmen or swordsmen. So by buying some Mantic sprues to go with the Oathmark ones, you can assemble five Uruks and five Snaga from each.

Thursday 12 September 2019

You want it (grim)darker ...

A forthcoming game of Xenos Rampant with some friends has got me scurrying to paint up some more regimented sci-fi troops than my typical rag-tag scum and villains. For these Mantic orcs, I used my new speed-painting method: Citadel contrast paints over black undercoat drybrushed with grey and white.

They're not terribly pretty close up, but they'll make a nice red-armoured horde en masse. And they're very, very quick; if you exclude drying time, I'd say that they take longer to assemble than to paint.

I might add a few details to them here and there once each squad of 12 is finished, but the aim for now is to get a few dozen done to this standard. These two are the first of six; the other four are done barring the bases.

The ratman is a GW plague monk with Skitarii arms and weapon. Six of these will form a unit of 'recon infantry'. I've based them to match my fantasy ratmen, so that they'll blend in with those (I'm going to do some with the same blue-grey hide as this one, so that they can all work together).

Both lots will doubtless end up as encounters in fantasy RPGs and feature in Mutants and Death Ray Guns and the like too.

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Contrast paints and black undercoat

In my incessant quest to find quicker ways to paint miniatures, I've been trying Citadel's contrast paints over a black undercoat. After undercoating in black gesso, I drybrush in grey and white before slopping on a coat of contrast. I think it works fairly well. In the case of the beastie above and below, I painted the bone and belly-scale areas buff before the white drybrush.

With these crab-men or selenites or whatever they are, I drybrushed silver-grey over base-coat colours (red and buff) before adding the contrast.

These leeches were straight black/grey/white contrast:

So was this fishy thing:

And these space orcs - very quickly done for friends' children - were my first experiment. Black/grey/white/contrast again; it took just an hour to finish all three:

They may be crude (and it's not a great photo), but I quite like the effect. I'm painting up another batch for domestic use. Here are how they look along the way:

And here's a Reaper Bones troll who's there or therabouts with the same technique:

It's never going to be a prize-winning technique. But for quick monsters, it's actually quicker than using contrast paints over white, because the black undercoat takes care of the joins and recesses. So there's much less tidying up to be done at the end.