dispatches from terra incognita

Category: Fantasy Page 2 of 4

Random Progress

Rather than working steadily towards an attainable goal, I seem to pick up miniatures to paint as they strike my fancy. Those in the “done” box this weekend include:

Four of the 6 chibi adventurers from one of my many Reaper Bones kickstarters. Two more to go, then the entirety of the Super Dungeon Explore game I bought years ago…

A Reaper Bones rat ogre, who, along with my Mordheim skaven, comprise my nascent Skaven army.

And, finally, a potpourri of 28mms. Left to right, a Foundry Darkest Africa explorer, a Reaper jock, a Funky Skull street warrior, and a Reaper Bones ghoul (I would imagine).

My Krylon matte sealer is definitely a bit shiny, which messes with all my photos.

Lots of Grots

I’ve sojourned so far down the goblin rabbit hole that I’m starting to look for non-Games Workshop sources for interesting, new miniatures. There are, as one would expect, a variety of interpretations of “goblin.”

For example, I have two different varietals from my Reaper Bones Kickstarters — one set look like I imagine D&D goblins to be, and who aren’t at all green, and another look like cinematic gremlins carrying torches. I am definitely partial to the slightly-silly, of course green, pointy-nosed, Old World aesthetic.

Alternative Armies has a 28mm High Fantasy range which includes a Goblin and Orc Horde. The Goblin Knights, of which there are a variety, don’t do it for me. There are Cros Goblins which are quite nice, but have a more small-nosed, D&D vibe. Of more interest to me are:

Black Tree Design , if I understand this correctly, sells “Harlequin Miniatures by Kev Adams” Goblins. These were initially Kickstarted here and here. Kev Adams sculpted Warhammer goblins back in the day, so these are delightfully old school. Note that BTD has “Nightlings,” too, which are clearly Night Goblins, but I have so many and they are easily sourced, so I’ll leave them for others.

Also, I must append a caveat emptor that I have run across reports by some customers who were less than satisfied with BTD’s service in 2019. I’ll make a small order (as the $6.38 process below are for items on sale) and report on my experience.

Impact! Miniatures has a resin Kev Adams 31 Goblin Army, 31 figures for $35. Impact also do many Blood Bowl teams, should one be in the market.

Old Glory Miniatures seem to have two separate lines of goblins, both under the West Wind section of their website:

  • Under the Dwarf Wars heading, we find the Gallowskrie Goblins. They appear sufficiently goofy.
  • Directly under the West Wind heading, we find the Terronus, Isle of Goblins collection. Alas, most of the pictures for these guys are broken — I’m especially intrigued by the Goblin Villagers.

Rebel Minis has a Dark Hold Fantasy Setting “to try and fill what we see is a void in RPGs and Tabletop Games, namely Goblin characters, personalities and classes.” They are 28mm metal, and I would lament, a tad pricey. Many come in packs of 4 unique sculpts for $14.95. You’ll find:

Shieldwolf Miniatures has recently Kickstarted a range of plastic Forest Goblins. They come from Greece, and I’ll list the prices in Euros as exchange rates vary:

Warmonger Miniatures, sister company to my old favorite Wargames Foundry, has a vast collection grotty goodness. I shall make no attempt to list them individually as they are all so good.

Odds & Sods

Missed the traditional Saturday, but I submit a brief painting update.

First up we have the first painted fellow from my recently-won WHFB 6/e starter set. I hereby revise my assessment of the sculpts from “aren’t my favorite” to “absolutely my favorite.” Wide swaths of uninterrupted plastic make them a joy to paint.

Orcky Mc Orkface


Next up is one of my inexhaustible Reaper Bones. Historically, I’ve been intimidated by larger figures, so I’m making an effort to tackle some of these giant-types. It’s just like painting a 54mm, really.

Finally, the penultimate figure from my antique store triumph. This chap is the sole nemesis for Her Majesty’s army, an unmarked 54mm Zulu flat:

… And please show your right profile…

This Doesn’t (Usually) Happen to Me II

I have sporadically dipped into the well of eBay through the years, either “Buy(ing) It Now!” or bidding in an auction or two. A decade or more ago, I recall having my heart broken, posting the high bid on some bit of rpg paraphernalia (likely a rare GURPS book would have been what I was after back then), only to see some far-flung soul bid a dollar more to win in the final seconds.

In the fine spirit of passing along the pain to another, I utilized the same tactic to win an auction for the FASA Crimson Skies miniatures game. In those days, one had to re-enter one’s eBay password to bid, so it was a testament to rapid typing that I won.

While recently perusing eBay for gobliny goodness, I unearthed a somewhat tattered looking 6th Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle starter set — Empire versus Orcs. It was obviously incomplete, missing rulebook, range rulers and templates, and cardstock building. All the figures seemed to be there, though, assembled but unprimed.

These days, eBay has the convenient, and I think sensible, feature that one can enable “auto-bid,” setting the highest amount that you are willing to pay. Thus, if you let the machine handle your bidding, you won’t be tempted to match ridiculous raises in the heat of the moment. This auction ended way past my bedtime, so I set things for what I was willing to pay and turned in for the evening.

Why don’t I find yard sales like these…


Lo and Behold, morning revealed that I had won (and for a bit less than the maximum I had set). Perhaps due to pre-holiday shipping enthusiasm, I won the auction early Monday morning and the box traversed the North American continent, from California to North Carolina, by Wednesday afternoon. So, a ragtag bunch of greenskins and fellows mostly armed with handguns became mine.

About a dollar apiece.

I haven’t done anything with them as yet. They were adequately, if a bit ham-fistedly assembled and all the figures do seem to be present. The cannon was glued wrong — I’m not sure it’s even the one that came with the set — and somehow a single orc Bloodbowl player infiltrated the mix [This turned out not to be true … his helmet just looked Bloodbowl on first glance).  Overall, though, I’m exceedingly pleased. They aren’t my favorite sculpts, but it was a means to beef up available troops on the cheap.

A Man Out of Time

For whatever reason, I nearly always find myself out of step with current tastes. I do certainly fall prey to “shiny objects” dangled by miniatures companies. In general, however, I have definite interests — as well as strong dislikes — which do not align with what I find in game stores or discussed online.

It was twenty years ago I first encountered Games Workshop and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I had been introduced to fantasy twenty years prior to that via The Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons. My taste, therefore, had always leaned towards the Serious and Epic.

I hadn’t yet acquired any fantasy miniatures; I began my adult era collecting Old West and Darkest Africa figures. The initial draw of Warhammer stuff for me was the terrain — GW provided some of the first “how to” tutorials that I encountered. (Following those by the beloved Major General, of course).

The Warhammer “Old World” fluff left me cold, however. I mustered a bit of appreciation for the Vampire Counts, but green soccer hooligans screaming “Waugh!” was just silly… “Squigs?” … Really? Now, I loved Victorian Science Fiction and its Rube Goldberg-esque technology. Warhammer, though, just didn’t speak to me. Compounding my aversion was the cost —Games Workshop / Citadel miniatures were breathtakingly expensive.

Forwarding fast to the present day, I have experienced a profound change of heart. I wrote awhile back how I had spied, perched atop a dusty shelf in my Hobby Shack, one of my few GW purchases —The Battle for Skull Pass starter set. I brought it down and set in to complete a painting task begun 13 years previous.

In doing so, I have become hopelessly and inexplicably enamored of the aforementioned greenskins — goblins in particular. And apparently, experience has finally forged within me a sense of humor. It is precisely grottastic ridiculousness that appeals to me!

As I started combing the internet for vintage miniatures I could finally afford, I discovered perfection such as fanatics. These people spin a huge metal ball around to launch themselves into the enemy? Could this really work? No need to care, as I can’t imagine a general who wouldn’t want his troops to do this…

Part of my “Out of Time” bit was the GW decision to kill Oldhammer in favor of the Age of Sigmar. If I already didn’t like elements of the Old World, the new, gossamer-warriors appealed even less.

I had misapprehended, however, that GW had replaced all the old models. I didn’t realize that they had simply renamed (and rebased) many of them. Humans and undead were new, but many greenskins and the Skaven were just in new boxes and on round bases.

So, I bought brand-new fanatics. I even bought brand-new squigs and their herders. (One of them playing bagpipes — looking forward to painting them!) I now see that the Skaven wield extremely VSF-style gadgetry so I will likely begin another army.

As I have pressed on with employment throughout the intervening years, I’m now financially secure enough to approximate the GW demographic. Should I admit this? — I recently purchased a charming wee “Loonboss” — who set me back nearly $30 for one plastic figure (?!)

I’m eager to share some of my recent adventures. For example, I have begun wielding the power of eBay. Being conveniently “Out of Time,” not that many people are “into” what I now find irresistible, so I find unearth bargains and sometimes win auctions.

Closer to Skull Pass

I have made satisfying progress in painting my Battle of Skull Pass night goblins. The infantry is complete, I’ve done the musician and standard bearer for the archers, and the troll as well. Four of the spider-riders (cavalry, I suppose) are nearly complete, though camera shy just yet.

Goblin leadership

Archer musician and standard bearer, along with a troll; poorly lit, alas…

One unit of infantry…

… and the other

I also fancied up the bases of some older-than-Skull-Pass GW skeletons I had packed away. I’m rifling through my mound of unpainted Reaper Bones for an appropriate necromancer to lead them.

Progress at Skull Pass

I mentioned in my previous ramblings that I had dug out my now-a-teenager Battle at Skull Pass box set. During the two minutes it held my interest back in 2006, I primed most of the night goblin infantry and painted their skin and spears. Then they went back into the box and I went onto other things.

Well, I have shown uncharacteristic persistence over the past couple weeks, and here is the result:

Night Goblins and a troll.


These fellows are finished, save for a bit of flock and a spritz of varnish. The troll got a bit more paint after I took the picture, but I still need to do his base.

Goblin leadership

And yet, still much more to be done… Fourteen (I believe) more of the spearman and then on to the archers. I primed first batch in black, which makes sense as their robes are predominantly that color. I did the archers in gray, which is my preference now, but I may re-spray them black as well to hurry things along. In general, I can see details better in gray than black.

There are spider-mounted cavalry as well, and then of course, all the dwarfs. I’m finding that the simple sculpts are an encouragement to process, so I may actually finish this one in a reasonable amount of time! Sadly, though, my brief summer interlude from teaching ends on Monday, so hobbying time once again becomes a precious commodity.

Onward and Backward?

One frequently reads wargamers lamenting their “Gamer ADHD,” the magpie-like distractibility that prevents us from completing our projects. I am thoroughly fortunate to have a dedicated gaming space — The Hobby Shack — which I was certain would sharpen my efficiency and dedication to wargaming. Well… I definitely spend more hobbying time than I used to do; yet still nothing comes to completion.

Some folks implement measures such as “The Pledge,” whereby they keep a balance of new purchases to items completed, forestalling wanton accumulation. I’ve begun to do so informally — for example, I have vowed to finish every mdf kit I have before purchasing another.

Regularly, however, I’ll find myself seated at my painting desk, staring aimlessly, overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. I simply have so many projects in media res that I don’t know what to do next. Cracking on to completion of anything feels impossible… And, this is a hobby! (We’ll set aside for the moment the fact that I have other hobbies as well).

I suppose an appropriate graphic representation of my hobbying experience would be one of those slow-moving maps revealing the formation of a tropical depression — lazy counter-clockwise spinning that never attains the fury of a hurricane.

As an exercise, let us examine my past week or so of hobbying. N.B.: I’m on my brief Summer Interruption from teaching (my school is year ’round so it’s only about 5 weeks long) and thus I enjoy the luxury of daily hobby time. Here is what I have been doing — not, mind you, in the exact order I did it, as my records and memory are not sufficiently accurate to reconstruct the timeline.

Way back in early 2016 (!) I was fortunate enough to benefit from the generosity of Tom Foss at Skull and Crown and his Great Wagoning of 2016. He utilized his laser cutting contraption to create some 10mm card wagons and horses for a Warmaster scenario he had planned. Somehow I managed to win a brace of said wagons. Mr. Foss posted them alacritously, and as I gushed about his wooden soldiers and made mention of my own humble aspirations toward same, he graciously included one of his as-yet-unreleased 54mm ImagiNation figures.

I did manage to photograph the missive with the intention of thanking and blogging…

Any reasonable soul would immediately email him thanks and set to work assembling and painting as a demonstration of respect, right? [Sigh]. Alas, my prodigious introversion/diagnosable communication defect assured that I would not acknowledge this kind gesture and, perhaps out of associated guilt, the packet has stared at me on the desk for three years.

A good bit of primer showing through, magnification reveals. Good thing it’s 10mm and really tiny.

At embarrassingly long last, one of the wagons is done! (I bought more 10mm stuff from Pendraken back then to try Warmaster myself; it’s also still in plastic baggies). The 18th Century chap is primed and awaiting pigmentation.

I possess the merest scintilla of Mr. Foss’ artistic ability; fortunately he and his laser provided all those little lines to guide my feeble brushstrokes.

Here’s an establishing shot of the painting desk to set up more of this week’s drama:

Top center are the remaining 5 stripped 54mm, possibly homecast guards in bearskins. They are at attention but have got none of mine as yet. Just below the bottle of light blue craft paint you might spy one of my Foundry Darkest Africa figures — my second ever miniature purchase, nearly 20 years ago. I painted him in an hour. There’s a Reaper Bones lass next to him which I also finished. Then a Funky Skull Games Street Wars NYC figure who’s awaiting a decal for his jacket (which will be so small that I’d probably be better off to just hand paint the design). Below them are some Bones vermin — scorpions, spiders, and spider & rat swarms. About half-way complete. Possibly from the Bones I kickstarter, which was probably from about 1909, wasn’t it?

Dominating the foreground is possibly the weirdest twist. Inflamed by an advert for a Printable Scenery Dwarven Airship, I pulled out, and this morning assembled and glued, my Warhammer Battle of Skull Pass figures. I started a bunch of the Night Goblins after buying the set (apparently in 2006, ye gods), but fairly quickly lost interest. I was struck yesterday by a vision of the dwarves (some of whom have pistols and one of whom isn’t wearing pants) and their airship, battling Night Goblins with a Jawa sandcrawler-type-thing which I suppose I’ll have to scratch-build. The sculpts on these figures are refreshingly simple, so it is within reason that I could get a bunch painted up.

I have simultaneously been according due diligence to the aforementioned mdf buildings, the idea being that I could set up a Matakishi-like city board. I’ve been consistently vexed by the immensity of the TT Combat buildings — 1:56, I guess, as opposed to Matakishi’s 1:64-ish creations. They are intended to complement those statuesque Heroclix figures perched on plinths rather than my collection of diminutive 28-32mm souls.

I’ve added the final bits to the trio of Grey Haven Houses (TT Combat) — mostly some Evergreen angle for trim to hide the corner box joints. I have plans to divide the interiors into rooms and add details, but that is for some time in the future. Each of these three dwarfs a Matakishi brownstone.

Save varnishing, I’ve completed the Chinatown square, Hawkers’ Stands, Little Ramen, Subway Entrance, and Phone Booth, all from Knights of Dice. [And to their defense, regarding my previous complaint about the pictured-but-missing tables in the square, I failed to note a critical explanatory asterisk in the photo on the Knights of Dice website].

Thus, I purchased some of said tables, which currently reside temporarily al fresco on what will eventually be an Italian restaurant.

I’m especially annoyed by the gaping door of this shop. The two Funky Skull hooligans are solidly 28mm and the Reaper Chrono-technician who beamed in is 32mm, yet all are barely half as high as the door. I’ll probably create an insert to assuage my fury.

Finally, I’ve assembled and mostly primed Dino Gas (TT Combat), which, as I begin to see, I don’t think I even like that much [sigh]. I’ll likely finish it out of sheer obstinance, but then go with Kraken Petroleum from Knights of Dice instead.

With Hirst Arts church looming in the background.

Thus ends the maundering tour of my most recent hobby achievements. Is there a coherent strategy? — 10mm cardboard wagon; dwarf and goblin armies; 19th century colonial explorer, Chinatown accoutrements; elephantine city buildings; vermin —one would say, “No.” This blog post itself should be added to the list. I do, however, feel some sense of accomplished satisfaction. And, it is, after all, just a hobby.

And now for something completely different …

Plodding along as I do with my various projects, I am frequently struck by novel inspiration as work becomes tedious. Thus, while immersed in painting my 54mm artillery, I suddenly became quite certain that it was the perfect moment for me to finally try Blood Bowl. Now, as with everything Games Workshop, those box games run a little pricey. Alas, inspiration had not chosen a pecuniarily prudent moment to appear …

However, I’m usually pretty skilled at converting lemons to -ade. I had simultaneously been hankering to try some of Matt “GrayMouser65” Kirkhart’s 28mm fantasy wooden craftees, as featured on Dale Hurtt’s blog Wooden Warriors.

Now inspiration had foundation — I could craft as many Blood Bowl teams as I like using little wooden bits. I had to scour Matt’s posts to determine what he used and where he got ’em. I then had to find a source for everything — both Michael’s and AC Moore seem to have cut back on many of these items. I relied on the internet and patience.

I elected to do goblins first, being particularly tickled by Matt’s latest “hunchback” brutes. Construction followed his guidelines, with tile spacer feet (barely visible here), spool torso, half spool for the shoulders, half bead for the head, and tile spacers again for ears and arms. A few chaps got adornments, such as toothpick spikes, and one poor fellow had a hook hand. Another got a “saw” hand, fashioned from a bead. I sanded the torso spool of my two running backs to give them a feeling of motion, despite their feet being together.

I’m not at all familiar with the Blood Bowl rules. After making my team, I was dismayed to discover that, apparently, the goblins don’t have quarterback or receiver types. I may be adapting the rules, or else using the Monsters of the Midway fantasy football rules from Dragon Magazine #65. For example, I may use Heroscape hexes for the playing field rather than a squared grid.

The final step will be to paint numbers on the boyz. I’ll be using the “classic” system from the 70s, with 1-20 reserved for the quarterbacks (and kickers, I suppose) and wide receivers wearing numbers in the 80s, as is right and good. 

The Ruined Tower

Whilst searching for a Hirst Arts ruin that was skulking about in my memory, I uncovered new inspiration. A day or so later, this little crumbling beauty debuted on the table:

Here it is with a skeletal guard, and then with my four D&D B/X heroes:

I cobbled together some scenario objective markers using some old Games Workshop plastic skeletons. A bit of surgery on the pelvises allowed them to sit or lie, suitable splayed.

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