Monday, May 29, 2023

May Painting (mostly Mythical Earth)

 I have been painting this month, for the first time in a few months.  I have also been trying to clean some of the unfinished (and unstarted) projects out of my basement, so I have been doing some thinking about what I am actually most interested in working on and playing.

I have mentioned before that my start in the fantasy miniatures end of the hobby with Minifigs Mythical Earth figures, which are (arguably) the earliest fantasy range cast.  In addition to a few handfuls I have left from the early 1970s, I have been accumulating them diligently since I ran across a small batch for sale at Cold Wars in 2015.  As of today, I have about 280 painted, and another 500 unpainted, including a batch of 40 hobbits which arrived a few weeks ago from England.  Anyway, there are enough to play some games already, something I should schedule in the not-too-distant future.  As I consider what I want to do in fantasy, it’s pretty clear that I want to indulge this nostalgia project, and finally have the armies (and games) that I visualized as a kid back in 1975.  I posted some pictures of this month’s first project to the Lead Adventure Forum, and someone sent me a link to Rick Priestly’s blog Notitia Metallicum, where, coincidentally, he is also working on a Minifigs Mythical Earth project.

ME33 Ithilien Spearmen and ME34 Ithilien Archers

View from the other side

My first selection this month was Faramir’s Ithilien Rangers.  There are only six official Gondorians in the range, and the Ithilien archer is the only one armed with a bow.  As my brother will tell you, I like my wargames armies to be able to reach out and touch you (as AT&T used to say) before they get stuck into hand-to-hand combat, so it seemed like a good time to paint these.  Like the Wood Elves I did a few years ago, I did them in a semi-random assortment of browns and greens.  Having their faces hidden behind masks, they were relatively simple to paint. I still have a unit of Citadel Guards, another unit of spearmen, and a unit of Gondorian knights on foot to go, plus some extra figures not neatly divided into twelves. 

I am going to try to alternate the Free Peoples with the forces of Sauron and Saruman, so I chose to build a unit of “man orcs” next.  While these are presumably intended to represent Saruman’s troops, I have no qualms about using them as larger orcs in the service of Mordor, or as Bolg’s bodyguards and similar in the Battle of the Five Armies.  There are three poses of these figures, varying mostly (entirely?) by the weapons with which they are armed.  I picked a packet of a dozen spear-armed orcs from my painting reserve, and then added one axe-armed orc to serve as an officer.  While I have dozens of the spears and swords, I have only a handful of the axes, so I’m mixing them in as officers.  While I am pretty sure that all three poses are currently available in the Minifigs current production revival, I don’t intend to order any more orcs unless I finish all of the ones that I have and find that I still need more.

The man-orcs are not the most detailed and attractive figures out there, and I have painted a few already in this project, so I knew that like most fantasy/ancients/medieval figures, what you see is mostly the shield when you look at them on the table.  They do have large generally flat shields, so I decided that I would concentrate my painting effort on the shields.  As every Tolkien fan knows, the main iconography associated with Saruman is the white hand, and the main iconography associated with Mordor is the red eye.  While I have seven units’ worth of these figures, and will eventually do a unit with white hands and a unit with red eyes, I thought it best to avoid both of those to start with, so that these troops will comfortably fit into any of the three possible armies I might deploy.  Since I had thirteen figures pulled out and cleaned up, I painted one as a quick test of the shield design, and based him individually.

I didn’t really think that I could reproduce that design faithfully 13 times, so I decided to embrace that, and make each one of them an individual variant on the “gaping maw” theme. The spears are quite long (and will present a bending hazard in play) so added a flag to the command stand.  Don’t think too hard about the wind conditions that would cause it to display like that…

I am thinking that it is time to add some mounted troops to the mix, and I have had a dozen Rohirrim primed and ready to paint for quite a while, so, in keeping with my plan to alternate, I think that will be what I try to do next.  I have also pulled out a batch of ME28 Southron mounted swordsmen, several of whom will become lancers as they need weapons replaced.

While it’s not quite the end of the month, it looks like I am probably not getting another game played, so I’ll be at three.  The first of those was some Saga, and I needed a couple of figures to replace proxies used for a Norman warband.  In addition to the Tolkien work, I did also get these two finished up:

My sons and I are planning to meet for another games day next weekend, so I am hoping there will be a few more games in June than there were in May …

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