Tuesday, March 10, 2015

'Antihero' from PhilH - 'Quick Ben'

I spent weeks pondering what to offer as my Curtgeld for this year's challenge. I was initially tempted by Dirty Harry or others from Kev White's excellent Hasslefree range. But nothing quite appealed. Those of you who followed last year's challenge will know that Curt and I share a love of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont's Malazan Books of the Fallen (MBotF), and epic series of fantasy books. Might these offer inspiration for suitable Curtgeld?

The MBoTF have an extensive list of Dramatis Personae, with many more antiheroes than true heroes. After lengthy consideration and searching for suitable models, I settled just a couple of weeks ago on Ben Adaephon Delat, better known as 'Quick Ben'.

When we first encounter him, Quick is a Squad Mage in the 9th squad of the infamous Bridgeburners, the grognards of Empress Laseen's Malazan Empire. Squad mages are petty magic users rather than the powerful members of the High Mage cadre, being capable of mere illusions and deceptions to aid their squad mates. Hailing from the Seven Cities continent, he is described as dark skinned, tall and lean. Erikson doesn't go in for much more description of characters than that, so I had some flexibility in choosing a suitable miniature! 

Except Quick Ben isn't all that he seems, which becomes clear as the series progresses. He seems to know the most about what's going on, vanishes off on unspecified errands, turning up again at all critical junctures, usually with a solution to some problem or other and vague hints of what the heck is going on. It transpires that he was previously a High Priest of Rashan, or Darkness, before burning his vestments and adopting the warren of Meneas or Shadow as the source of his power. But that's just the start of it - there are plenty more reveals as the story progresses when Quick is concerned.

So why an Antihero? Well, the Bridgeburners are pretty heroic, particularly the noble but naive Ganoes Paran and the roundly respected Whiskeyjack. But there's a darker side to both Adaephon Ben Delat and Kalam Mekhar, the bearlike ex-Claw assassin and Quick's closest partner. To avoid spoilers I'll just reference the events of the pursuit across Raraku, the Holy Desert, and Quick's support for Kalam's mission regarding the Empress in Deadhouse Gates (my personal favourite of the series, by quite some way).

This miniature, 'Karick-Dar, Apprentice' is from Australia-based Guild of Harmony miniatures. 

He's a bit shiny and needs a burst of Dullcote, which I'll sort before he goes into the post.

I desperately searched for a suitable Kalam Mekhar to go with him. Alas, I came up short - sorry Curt! Still, I hope you like him.

'Antihero' from IannickM - 'Elric of Melnibone'

"It is the colour of a bleached skull, his flesh; and the long hair which flows below his shoulders is milk-white. From the tapering, beautiful head stare two slanting eyes, crimson and moody, and from the sleeves of his gown emerge two slender hands, also the colour of bones."

My choice for antihero was an easy one; I would pick *the* antihero of fantasy literature, the White Wolf himself, Elric of Melniboné. For many gamers, the fantasy bug came courtesy of J.R.R. Tolkien's Bilbot or Lord of the Ring. But for me, the love of the genre started after reading Michael Moorcock's Elric Saga. To this day the six first original books are probably the novels I have read the most often in my life, and I still pick them up once in a blue moon.

The story of Elric, last emperor of Melniboné, is one of life and death, fate versus free will, evil vs good and of course Law versus Chaos. Bound to Stormbringer, a weapon he loathes but needs, Elric tries to bring morality to a life which should be devoid of the mere notion. Plagued by his destiny, the things he tries to control have quite often been decided by higher powers. A tragic figure, but a fascinating character. A true antihero.

The figure I chose, Elric the White Wolf, is a very old figure from Citadel, released in the mid-eighties to be used with the "Stormbringer" roleplaying game. It is a very rare figure and often fetches 20$ or more on Ebay. Of all the figures I gave to Curt for this challenge, it is the one I'm most attached to, but I know it will have a good home and Curt definitely deserves it! Take good care of it Curt, it is a bit like saying goodbye to a very old friend!

I shall end this post and this year bonus round themes with my favourite last line of any novel, the last line of "Stormbringer" :

"Farewell, my friend. I was a thousand times more evil than thou!".

Monday, March 9, 2015

'Antihero' from SeanS - 'Campbell the Cannibal'

So from the Great White North comes Curt "The Cannibal" Campbell. Curt had headed West to the Yukon territories to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. All was well and good until the territory was flooded with rubes looking to strike it rich in the gold rush. Some say it was syphilis and others say bad moonshine, but Curt became obsessed with the most dangerous prey, man. After some miners went missing near his camp local law enforcement went to investigate. All they found was a burnt out cabin and a fire pit with what appeared to be human remains. There have been many sightings of Curt over the years. Some say he's a rich San Francisco Banker, others that he farms Sugar Cane in the Bahamas. But most sightings have come of a mysterious figure on the plains of Saskatchewan.

This figure is from Pulp Figures Yukon Peril, The Mad Trappers of Rat River. These figures are glorious. Excellent detail and nothing to clean up. They took a little while to get here, as Mr. Murch had a backlog, but I was appraised of the situation via email and knew i was going to use this particular figure for my last bonus entry and entry figure.

 All through the Challenge I've been trying hard to work on color layering and feel that I'm getting closer to getting it right. This figure has tons of detail so it really guides one as to where the layers go. I'm still relying on my grunge wash to help the layers transition as my blending is still not where I would like it.

One thing I tried a little differently in technique for this figure was to blend a little Reaper Pearl White into the metallics to try and highlight those.  On the silver metallics it was so so, so I also added a highlight of Honed Silver on top of the Boltgun Metal. I wanted to go with a red eyepatch, but it looked too much like my Goblin eye. I tried  couple of browns before settling on plain old Burnt Umber.

To punch up the Canadian-ness of the figure I decided he had to have a Hudson Bay Blanket Coat. I guess it's not a true Capote, and may be a tad anachronistic, but I think it adds a little interest. I just wish the spacing of the stripes was a tad better. I had to redo the stripes on the arms as I realized that they wouldn't stay parallel to the ground when his arms moved like that. Doh!

I tried a dry look with the snow flock this time. Meh. It looks a little like hoar frost, or so I'm telling myself.

Anyway, I hope you and Curt enjoy the figure. We'll see if I can get it together for the big challenge finale.

Sean Squires

'Antihero' from AaronH - 'Dr. Frankenstein (& His Monster)'

This entry is both my entry for the Anti-Hero round and my Curtgeld.  I did quite a bit of research on this one.  First off was just making sure I had a good definition for anti-hero.  Once I had that it was a matter of researching the available models to find one that was appropriate for this theme.  While I had great fun perusing the catalogs of my favorite manufacturers I didn't find anything until I got to Eureka USA's site.  As soon as I saw this set I knew it was my entry.

Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster.
The entry is Dr. Frankenstein, a deeply flawed protagonist indeed.  I found this story to be deeply saddening, mostly for the experience of the monster.  It does not paint a charitable picture of the nature of our species. 

Rear view.
I included his monster as it's really the only thing that makes this scientist identifiable.  The models were easy to paint.  I probably spent an hour total on both of them.  Having said that, they are all they need to be.  They do an admirable job of portraying the subject.  The set also comes with Igor, some mad scientist electricity doo-hickies, a book case and a gothic wall/window.  Igor will see the light of day for another project.

The Dr.  "It's Alive".
Clean, crisp detail.
The Monster.
The photo is a little bit too washed out but I made the Monster's skin lighter than the Dr's.

I was impressed with Eureka's service and their product.  The facade was cracked.  Robert sent it on but sent me an email ahead of time letting me know it was damaged and that he would send me a clean one when they came in.  You can't ask for better than that.  I look forward to doing business with them again.

'Antihero' from BrendonW - 'John Clifford, 'The Butcher' 9th Baron Clifford'

A War of the Roses character whose father was killed in 1455 at the first Battle of St Albans. John went on to lead the Lancastrian right wing at at the Battle of Wakefield (December 30th, 1460). The battle was a success for the Lancastrians. John was Knighted the next day. It was when he became notorious through history because of what is attributed to him during that time. After the battle the Yorkist cause believe he committed murder. Captured nobles and relatives usually at that time became ransomed but Edmund Rutland (17 at the time) a son of Richard Plantagenet (3rd Duke of York who died in the same battle) was executed on Johns orders and perhaps by John himself. Edmund was said to have been wounded and defenceless when he was killed. Attempting to escape the slaughter over Wakefield Bridge but was overtaken and killed. Gruesomely his head ended up on the gates of York along with his father and Uncle (Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury).

Perhaps it was revenge for the death of his father or all the battle adrenalin was still to leave Johns body that led to the execution but the result was vengance being sworn by Edmunds older brother the future King Edward IV (in wales during the battle). It may have been Edward who also gave John the friendly nickname 'the Butcher'. The aftermath of the Battle of Wakefield saw increased bitterness and revenge upon revenge. From that point onwards victorious sides executed opposing leaders. Perhaps no more ransom deals. 

Fast forward to Dintingdale March, 1461, and its battle time again. John Clifford carelessly removes his gorget (neck protecting piece of armour). A fatal error which results in an arrow to the throat and another body thrown into a pit with many others.

Lancastrian Goon 1: "Hey Johnno. You really messed that kid up. Look at the mess! Eww! It's all bloody!"
Lancastrian Goon 2: "Jay you are so gangster. You really went Medieval on him."
Lancastrian Goon 3: "You are my new hero. This is really going to make them Yorkies so MAD!"

Anti-hero, rogue, ruffian? Well he was a leader of fighting men. He was at the center of a deed some considered most foul. What wargamer would not want a character in their force with the alias 'The Butcher'. A nickname given by his enemy as well. His Yorkist opponents certainly would have seen him as a villain and no hero. However the Lancastrians may have seen it as a point of pride to be fighting alongside 'the Butcher'. This real life violent man went on to be included in Shakespeare's, Henry VI.

'Antihero' from AdamC - 'Old Blood and Guts'

After much thought I decided I would do George Patton probably the most controversial US General in the European Theatre.  If ever there was a man who wanted to be a HERO! it was George Patton in fact he believed it his destiny both because of his family history (he had ancestors that had fought the AWI, Mexican American and ACW) and his belief that he had already been a hero in his past lives, he is well know for his belief in Reincarnation.

Its impossible to deny Patton's physical courage, shooting it out Mexican Bandits in 1915, or leading tanks (on foot) in the Meuse-Argonne offencive of 1918, or standing the street shooting at German air craft with his service pistol in 1943 (as was well shown in the movie Patton). 

His abilities as a commander are also very real his plan for the invasion of Sicily while riskier than the plan that was adopted might well have allowed the allies to avoid the costly fighting over that Islands rugged central highland.   His actions during the Battle of the Bulge extracting his army form one fight to turn 90 degrees and engage in to another in a matter of days  is a rightly celebrated feat of arms.

Patton had his dark side too... he could be selective in following orders if he thought it would get him headlines, as was the case during the Sicily campaign.   He also failed to understand the soldiers he lead, insisting on what contemporary GIs called "chicken sh!t" regulations and refusing to acknowledge the existence of combat fatigue (PTSD).  He famously slapped two soldiers suffering form Combat Fatigue a move that got him relived of command (ironically he may well have been suffering from the same condition as one of the slapped soldiers observed after the war). 

Patton may have been a master of the art of mobile warfare but he was less able  when facing a dug in foe as at Metz where his insistence on taking that fortified place cost many lives on a target that could probably have been bypassed.

Patton also made trouble for almost every officer who ever commanded him... some times flirting with disloyalty.  He was a shameless self promoter on at least one occasion sacrificed his soldiers lives for a purely person goal, the rescue of his son in law . Patton was a complex man, an interesting character study and a real life Anti-Hero.

The miniatures are Battlefront (15mm) and can be used for Flames of War with a number of US Armoured forces. Patton is shown mounted in an M20 Command vehicle and on foot with his bull terrier Willie.  You can check out his in game special abilities in this article on the appropriately named "What Would Patton Do" website.

'Antihero' from DavidB - 'Seeker and Ranger'

Back in my youth, my friends and I played Dungeons & Dragons. One of my friends introduced us to RuneQuest which was a more elegant D&D rule set. RuneQuest did not have a lot of modules and our adventures all came from Blaine's imagination. I don't like elves, but I was given an Elven Seeker to play. Seekers are guardians of the Elven land and masters of sword and bow. They can cast magic that is matched to their swordsmanship, and their archery skills are also magnified through spells and the "heartbow" which they grow themselves.  A great evil destroyed the land and my character barely escaped with his twin blades. Still a good archer, the heartbow was lost in the fight.

Rangers exist in Blaine's campaign, but a Ranger's primary role is to kill elves that venture from the elven realm. A cousin played a ranger who seen first hand the fall of the kingdom and what came next. Her skill with a bow was only overshadowed by her sarcasm, which never helped us in diplomacy! Enduring long running feuds between the two characters, our party toppled kingdoms of men, ruined towns and caused all sorts of problems for the realms. All while chasing down obscure artifacts that would seal the rift leading to the realm of demons. These two characters would often agree only on using violence to achieve party goals when diplomacy could have prevented the endless parade of bounty hunters and would be heroes trying to take out this unlikely duo. Sorta like Outlaw Josey Wales! ;)

My kids actually picked these out while I was restocking paint. I was looking for the Reaper mini not-Josey Wells, but the FLGS only carried fantasy, GW, and Privateer Press stuff. Not a single cowboy, mobster, or even historical mini to be found! Still, these Reaper minis represent well some old PC's and mine was heavily inspired by that iconic Clint Eastwood character! He even wore a hood and scarf to hide his elven features! The Ranger was labeled a deserter and worse by her former friends and also was wanted for punishment. No wonder they were both very violent!

I used the same colors on the ranger's cloak as the camouflage that was used on Terra Force. Since the ranger's had no magic, they relied on color shifting cloaks to hide from the elves they stalked. The elves never let on that only human eyes were affected by them!

My character, the Seeker. Seekers are like an elfish  SpecOps.
I began experimenting with gold NMM with this one. This fellow can increase speed, damage, and even rebound magic once he gets his spells going. No armor or shields needed for Seekers.

Check that out! He also has a hood to match the scarf. (Okay, so the Reaper mini is wearing more of a balaclava, but it is sooooo close to my old PC!)

A couple of wanted fugitives destined for Curt's Case.
two 28mm Curtgeld

'Antihero' from BrianB - 'Uhtred of Bebbanburg'

Uhtred of Bebbanburg is the protagonist of the Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell. A reluctant participant in Alfred the Great's fight to unite England he was as likely to fight on the side of the supposed villains the Danes, murder a priest, or act more than a little rashly as he was to save the day. I think he falls in the category of an Anti-Hero. 

I used the leader figure from the Gripping Beast Thegn box-set of plastics with a couple of modifications. I sculpted some fur onto his cloak to give him a bit more savage appearance and of course modified the prominent cross on his chest to an amulet of Thor.

I couldn't remember a good description of colors from the books but I always imagined him in grays and other dull colors so I went with a sea grey for the cloak but gave him a touch of color on the hem of his jerkin. I hand painted on a wolf's head for his shield as the traditional heraldry of Bebbanburg and gave him overall a little bit of weathering to give that fresh off the battlefield look.

'Antihero' from MichaelA - 'No Women, No Kids'

A more modest entry for the final, themed bonus round, but I was determined to find something suitable having discarded my original idea which was proving far too elaborate.  Instead, I have looked to the silversreen for inspiration and particularly the often overlooked gem that, in my humble opinion, is one of Monsieur Besson's finest films - Leon.  The unlikely story of the relationship between a professional assassin and an orphaned twelve year old girl, Leon boasts an all star cast with stand out performances from Jean Reno in the title role ably supported by a young Natalie Portman with a particularly menacing turn from Gary Oldman as the corrupt D.E.A. agent, Stansfield.  The story, primarily one of revenge, see us comfortably take sides with the trained assassin as he looks to right the wrongs that have befallen his young protégé - surely the epitome of an anti-hero?

When it came to finding miniatures to represent Leon and Mathilda, I had to look no further than the rather splendid 'Rogue Miniatures' who do a 'Master and Apprentice' that were just perfect for the job in hand.  28mm scale and well cast, these were very quickly prepared with the addition of some rubble on the base, as I see them forming part of my ever growing band of survivors after the challenge.  Those that know the film will understand the significance of the plant on Leon's base, (it actually comes with the apprentice miniature, but couldn't resist adding here)

'No women, no kids".

'Antihero' from BurkhardS - 'Tyrion Lannister'

As I've mentioned before, I had huge problems deciding on an anti-hero at first, but in the end I could not pick between Discworlds Death and this one. So what do we have here. It is Tyrion Lannister from George R. R. Martin's "The Songs of of Ice and Fire” (or Game of Thrones for those who rather watch TV ;-)). I know at first he seems like an unlikely Anti-Hero. At first glance he seems to be almost more mischievous than everyone else in the series, which is hard to be honest. He does his best to gain personal power, advance his family at the expense of others and to lure those into traps that he can not manipulate. 

Not the nicest person, right? Well , but if you look closer he has many good aspects about him. He tries his best to reign in the sadistic and at time sociopathic character of his nephew Joffrey and when married to poor Sansa Stark for political reasons refuses to consummate the marriage not to cause her extra pain. When you look closely, most of the time his actions that seem to be in favor of his family actually are in favor of the people of the realm and usually he does to get the the appreciation he would deserve, but rather a kick in the behind. Being born a little person and having his mother die in labour he was despised by his father and elder sister from day one and still he always tried his best to win his families appreciation. Not that he got it. What he got instead was them scheming against him and trying to kill him. So he ends up with a huge scar on his face (from an attempt on his life, while saying the capital) and having to flee to a foreign land to escape a death sentence for a murder he did not commit. For me, he is a perfect Anto-hero and actually on of my favorite characters in the books (and I am entirely glad George R. R. Martin has not killed him off (yet) in half a sentence like he did with so many other characters.

The miniature by Dark Sword is actually based on the character in the novels and not modeled on Peter Dinklage from the TV series. At first I was a bit sad about this, since I really like Dinklage´s acting and portrayal of the role, but when painting him, it is actually a good thing, since I gave me as a painter much more room for artistic license. The mini itself is really great. Nice clear line and a characterful sculpt. The only thing I did not like was the Lannister heraldry. For one I felt that the Lion had a strange shape. And it is only weak… hard to make out while painting (constantly had their website open while painting it), but to strong to ignore and just make it up. Really looking forward to painting some more minis from the series, which I got off their Kickstarter last year!

Take care,


'Antihero' from ByronM - 'Frank Miller's Batman'

For the theme of Anti-hero I submit Batman, more specifically Frank Millers Batman.  The model is a 30mm version from Knight Models, and while characterful, the mould could be a lot better, especially for the cost.  They all look amazing painting up on their site, but every one I have seen in person (a few batman versions, joker, penguin, some of the crews, etc) all look like very rough casts.  For the cost, they should be far better quality.  However, there are not many other options out there, so if you want DC heroes, this is what you need to work with.

Now, every version of Batman (other than the 70’s TV show version) is an anti-hero to some degree, but the Frank Miller “The Dark Knight” Batman is a kick ass anti-hero.  For anyone not familiar with the graphic novel, shame on you - it’s one of the best ever written, but seriously a brief synopsis…  It’s in the future, Batman is in his 60’s or 70’s and has been in a forced retirement / exile after the government shut down all superheroes, other than Superman who is their enforcer.  Batman can no longer sit back and watch his city and country fall apart and comes out of exile to once again defeat the Joker, but this time permanently.  Then Superman is sent after him to shut him down.  Batman enlists the aid of the Green Arrow who has a grudge to settle as well since Superman ripped one of his arms off years earlier.  Batman ends up poisoning Superman and reminding him that he is not invulnerable.  Then Batman is almost killed but lets everyone believe he has been to start training an underground army to combat the evil in the world.

Anyway, here is my version of the Frank Miller Batman done in a very comic book style with bold contrasts.  It is actually the second and “rougher” paint job after the first one was finished but the can of clear coat fogged it!  I knew I shouldn’t have used right to the bottom of the can of Dullcoat, but usually I don’t have issues.  Only the second time I have had issues in the last 3-4 years, but still not nice when it happens, especially while on a deadline.

In addition to my theme week entry this is also my piece for Curt as the anti-hero entry fee.

For any that don’t believe Batman is an anti-hero, check this out: 



'Antihero' from MarkG - 'Oberst Steiner'

For the last themed round I decided to revisit one of my favourite childhood films, The Eagle Has Landed; German Fallschirmjager masquerading as Free Polish Paratroopers in an attempt to kill/kidnap Churchill from a sleepy Norfolk village. Memorable as well for the first outing of our favourite Texan, Larry Hagman as the hapless commander of the American unit billeted in the village.

Now I generally don’t paint Germans (to be more precise, WWII Nazis), though I’m willing to make the exception for Oberst Steiner, a rugged veteran of many campaigns who has no truck with the Nazis. I’m sure the character’s name is more than a nod in the direction of Sam Peckinpah’s Sgt. Steiner in Cross of Iron, though this one seems a bit posher, (though Caine’s accent is infinitely preferable to the music hall attempt at an Irish accent by Donald Sutherland).

The figure is from Warlord Games, and paints up very well, and probably could be used for an early war Fallschirmjager commander. I’ll probably pick up another one for myself, as this one will be winging its way to Canada in the next few days. I must say, that the figure has given me some strange thoughts about putting together a Chain of Command scenario for this...