Thursday, 26 July 2018

Mammoth undertaking

I think I'm probably approaching the halfway point in my drive to create a small Undead skirmish force, using only parts and miniatures I've already got at home. (Most of which I've had lying around in boxes since I was a child in the 1980s.)

By today's standards, where people seem to paint up armies of several hundred miniatures in just a month or two of evenings, this project would appear quite modest (it's only somewhere between 30 and 50 miniatures in total), but for me it's already likely to be one of the largest, continuous efforts I've made in years.

And these next two additions are probably my favourite so far. I'm expecting them to form the centrepieces of the finished force.

They are based on the two Grenadier Masterpiece Editions shown below. Both of which are wonderful miniatures that my 13 year old self fooled himself into thinking he'd have any chance of doing justice.

When I dug these out of my past, they were badly glued together, covered in thick paint, and had multiple broken or missing parts. They were so horrendous, I couldn't even bring myself to document their condition with a photo. I think, all these years, somewhere at the back of my mind I had been aware that I owed them a duty of care. A nagging feeling that they deserved to be finished with a little more skill than mini-me offered them.*

So the first thing I did was drop them in a bath of acetone for about a week, then scrub them vigorously with an old toothbrush till most of the paint and glue had gone. Although this didn't make them pristine, I figured any lasting filth could be incorporated into the finished model to represent the accumulated dirt and disrepair of the Undead.

Then I glued them back together, added a few extra bits 'n' pieces (mainly off-cuts from the Plague Marines I chopped up at the end of last year), sculpted replacements (out of green stuff) for any vital parts that were missing, and scratched together a new plastic skeleton crew.

Hopefully, once I get a little paint on them, it'll all be worth it.

*Or perhaps by someone with the exact same skill levels, but much better tools. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether I'm better at painting miniatures, or whether it's just all the new brushes, paints and washes that create the illusion of this.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Ashes to ashes, Zandri Dust to dust

Today I'm sharing the completed first half of the skeleton and zombie unit I built last month.

In the last two or three weeks I've dedicated almost all of my spare time to these guys, but somehow I've still only managed to finish nine models. 

There are probably a few different reasons for this, but I reckon the main one is a direct result of the incredible summer we've been having in the UK. And that's not because I've been sitting around in the garden, barbecuing sausages. No, it was an actual problem that occurred at the primer/undercoat stage, right back at the beginning of the painting process, when I was trying to lay down a decent base colour.

I bought a can of Zandri Dust spray, fully expecting it to contain paint. Who'da thunk that in the intense summer heat this stuff takes on a far more literal characteristic? It turns out that if you use a Citadel aerosol in really hot weather, it doesn't spray out paint, but a thick cloud of dust. And the dust only half adheres to the miniatures, meaning I covered all 18 of my freshly converted Undead models in a coat of tacky, but loose powder.

I ended up having to rinse most of them in an attempt to remove the excess gunk. But of course, this didn't work very well, and a lot of the powder remained stuck to the models, especially in the recesses, exactly where you want it least. 

So these poor old miniatures, that had already been badly glued together and drowned in paint by my 12 or 13 year old self, and then soaked in Dettol, pulled apart and glued back together again by my adult version, were now once again covered in unwanted gak.

It's safe to say these guys really went through the wringer.

So I did the best I could do, spent more time painting them than I had intended, and generally accepted that they might not look so great.

So that's all my excuses out of the way, now here are some close-ups.

On the other hand, they were never meant to look pristine. They are, after all, meant to be rotting and decayed corpses, who have probably spent some of their recent past buried in mud and dirt. Plus, I never really set out to make these the best painted miniatures in my collection. Right now my mantra is a finished model today is better than a perfect model tomorrow

And a quick look at my score shows it's just beginning to pay off.