Frostgrave Warband Combatants (finished project)

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog this last few weeks. I’ve been busy assembling/kit bashing/scratch building both miniatures and terrain pieces so have lots on the go but nothing’s finished yet and can’t show anything new.

Given I’ve finished my Frostgrave project recently I thought I’d put a few completed group photos of it on the blog, starting with Warband Combatants. The plan will be to re-paint all the bases for these adding mosses/dried grass etc.

First some Wizards. The snow mix I used when I originally did these has discoloured considerably. I dislike snowy bases. I dislike yellow snow even more. These are top of the list for rebasing.

A selection of Warband Combatants. A mix of both metal and plastic figures from various manufacturers. Seems I’m missing the last 3 Essex Miniatures I painted.

Treasure tokens. Also looks like I’m missing the Citadel demon brazier for this photo.

Next time I’ll cover the random encounter creatures.

Grenadier Miniatures Evil Knights

I picked these up cheaply from eBay however the seller does have their own online store and imports various miniatures from the Mirliton range into the UK – Forlorn Hope Games

These were originally part of Grenadier’s Fantasy Warriors range from the early 90s. Although they appear similar to the GW Chaos Warriors of this era they are definitely smaller and much closer to standard 28mm Men at Arms etc.

I decided on an old armour look for them and reused the recipe I applied to my Mounted Chaos Knights a couple of years ago.

Essex Miniatures Scaley Orc and Gnoll

Another couple of the miniatures from Essex painted up.

The first is described as a ‘Scaley Orc: Rabble with Axe and Dagger’. There’s definitely a reptilian feel to this, it put me in mind of an angry Barney the Dinosaur. I might buy another and paint it magenta…

Next up is a ‘Gnoll: with Cutlass’. At some point in time it was universally settled that Gnolls would be based on Hyenas rather than just being vaguely canine. This miniature predates that.

Essex Miniatures Zombie 

Back in the mid 80s my old friend ‘L’ introduced me to Essex Miniatures via a couple of Medieval and Roman figures he’d picked up at a Wargaming Show.

I sent off for a copy of the Essex catalogue and spent far too much time flicking through it wondering just what the ‘Wizard in hood with magical staff’ or ‘Early Medieval Spearman in Scale Corselet and Helmet with Shield’ looked like. Back then, pre-digital, many small companies couldn’t afford to produce decent photographic images of their miniatures. You had to hope the imaginative descriptions applied by the manufacturers didn’t end in uninspiring lead blobs plopping through your parent’s letterbox 3 weeks later.

To be fair Essex did occasionally advertise in White Dwarf with photos. Although their products looked okay they weren’t strong enough to hook me in as I was preoccupied by Citadel Miniatures like a lot of kids in the hobby back then. Other manufacturers rarely got anything more than an annual request for a catalogue from me.

Come the early 90s my tastes had expanded beyond Games Workshop and I starting to get interested in historical wargaming with rulesets like DBA played with 15mm figures. Miniature Wargames Magazine occasionally showed Essex Miniatures in photos accompaning their articles and expansions for DBA. My interest piqued again.

I sent off for an Essex Miniatures catalogue and this time instead of just idly perusing I actually ordered a couple of ancient DBA armies in 15mm. I wasn’t disappointed. They were wonderfully sculpted, painted up beautifully and were inexpensive to boot. And then, for reasons unknown, I once again forgot all about Essex Miniatures.

Fast forward 25 years and a job lot of old miniatures purchased from eBay stirred my interest in Essex again. They’re still going and of course offer online ordering nowadays however somethings never change; not every figure has a photo, the Amazons are still dodgy (although none of them are portrayed as victims so there’s a minor plus) and not every sculpt is great – some could even be described as absolute howlers that were terrible even 35 years ago. After choosing a mix of fantasy and medieval figures I placed an order and it arrived very promptly.

Behold! Not a bad miniature amongst them in my opinion. Some of these figures were originally sculpted in 1981 whilst others are from slightly later – 1986. The keen eyed amongst you will spot the sculpting talents of Bob Olley here, pre-Iron Claw Miniatures. All came without problem mould lines or excessive flash which can often marr older sculpts and moulds. Splendid stuff. Please give Essex Miniatures consideration if their postage rates are sensible for you.

Here’s the Bob Olley Zombie figure from above painted up for use in my D&D game with the Cleric who enjoys the ‘Animate Dead’ spell a little too much.

Reaper Bones Dwarf Cleric and Citadel C11 Halfling

A couple of miniatures destined primarily for use in my D&D game here.

First up is a Reaper Bones Dwarf Cleric – ‘Barden Barrelstrap’.

This miniature was going to be part of my (as of yet unassembled let alone painted) Dwarf KOW army. There’s still a chance he could get a secondment back into the army with a quick change of base.

Next is a Citadel Miniatures C11 Halfling ‘Dery Podgebelly’

This miniature appears to be from 1986ish, I can’t seem to find any drawings or photographs of it prior to that. Needless to say it’s a tiny figure and is based on a 20mm round.

Games Workshop Skeletons – 1991

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my love for the original Games Workshop plastic Skeletons from 1991 before. I bought the Skeleton Army box (that included cavalry and a chariot) sometime around 1993 and it formed the basis (with Kev Adams metal Zombies and various other metal Wraith/Vampire/Necromancer miniatures) for my Undead Army of that period.

Yes there were only 4 bodies and 2 skull choices which limited options somewhat but it was a triumph for fantasy plastic which up to that point had struggled to be taken seriously. Previous attempts that included Fighting Fantasy 60mm, Drastik Plastik Orcs, Pychostyrene Dwarves and the Warhammer Regiment box designed for padding out WFB 3th Ed units had all been failures but the Skeletons marked a turning point in what could be possible.

I recently managed to pick up a few sprues worth on eBay along with a complete box of later Skeletons copyright 1999 on the box (presumably released in the 5th Ed period just prior to 6th Ed in 2000) which, although slightly chunkier, are fairly similar so I’ve now got plenty of bones to play around with. Expect more of these to show up periodically on the blog in future...

Here’s 3 of the original 1991 Skeletons quickly rustled up as extras for my D&D game. A Cleric PC has gained ‘Animate Dead’ spell and so insists on raising corpses as disposable ‘trap checkers’. I decided not to bother adding shields and just left them ‘as is’.

Frostgrave Random Encounters – Worm and Snow Leopard 

Not surprisingly there’s not a lot of worm miniatures out there but it seems there’s two ways to categorise them:

A. Gigantic Purple Worms based on the D&D monster.

B. Juvenile Purple Worms and other smaller random Worms.

For category A there’s a very impressive Purple Worm D&D miniature sculpted by Charles Woods that is suitably imposing.

DM Scotty on his YouTube channel theDMsCraft shows how to scratch build something similar to the Charles Woods sculpt. Scotty does a great job on this and if it wasn’t for time constraints I’d be tempted to have a go making one. If you’re unfamiliar with Scotty and his Channel stop reading this now and go check him out instead.

Category B seems to suit Frostgrave better as the Worms in this game aren’t particularly large or high powered.

I had a couple of options lined up for this, the front runner being a Worm from the first release of Reaper Bones miniatures. Rather foolishly I kept delaying purchasing this figure and eventually everywhere sold out! 

This left me with my alternative choice instead, a Mage Knight Crypt Worm from the early 2000s, still available from Ral Partha.

This miniature has a hint of Gigeresque alien and also stirred memories of painting Games Workshop Genestealers about 25 years ago. With that in mind I thought I’d give that old paint recipe a run out for nostalgia’s sake. 

I’ve really struggled to find a Snow Leopard miniature for this project. The ‘official’ miniature is okay but comes with the Ice Toad figure which I’m not fond of so I wasn’t going to buy it.

In the end I settled on DeeZee Miniatures Dinofelis of which you get 2 in a pack. Not the best fit and I’m also not too enamoured with either paint job (both are naff) but they’ll do for now. Maybe I’ll get chance to return to the Snow Leopard at a later stage and paint a decent version.

So that’s my Frostgrave Random Encounters collection done, just a few more additions to the soldiers to complete before I call the whole project done. I’ll try and get some group photographs of them all over the next few weeks.

Frostgrave Random Encounters – Constructs 

The idea of Constructs as random encounter creatures in Frostgrave seems a bit odd to me.

I’d have thought they’d be much more suited to specific areas/scenarios as guardians, put there by sorcerers and only activated by trespassing intruders. Still, they’re on the random encounter table so I needed three – small, medium and large.

I looked around for alternatives to the official figures as I’m not overly fond of them but nothing really seemed suitable. Everything I found was either too elemental, too robotic and quite often just too big.

So avoiding steam powered Robots, pumpkin headed Scarecrows and rock Elementals (all options that were considered) I decided to just bite the bullet and buy the ‘official’ Frostgrave North Star figures from my FLGS.

The first thing that struck me when I saw them was how small they all are (the photographs from North Star are quite deceptive) and also just how little difference in size there is between the medium and large versions. The smallest is based on a 25mm whilst the other two are on 30mms.

This just leaves the Worm and Snow Leopard from the rulebook random encounter table and then I’m calling my Frostgrave project complete – for now!

Reaper Bones Ettin

I must have first read fluff about Ettins back in the 80s (either in a friends copy of the 1st Ed AD&D Monster Manual or Dragon Magazine) but I don’t remember seeing an Ettin miniature, or at least a semi decent version of one, until the early 90s.

Back then the one that caught my eye was from the Ral Partha official AD&D range. There were a lot of great minis in that series and it sported various classic AD&D adversaries including several splendid looking Giants.

I have one of the Fire Giants from this range tucked away somewhere still to paint and have already put the Firbolg on the blog however the Ettin from Ral Partha was slightly disappointing. it was a bit too barrel chested with spindly, overly long arms and legs for my preferences.

I’ve seen a few of these for sale on eBay but as I’ve never been too convinced by the sculpt I haven’t ever bid on one.

Reaper released their version of the Ettin a few years ago in their Bones range. I thought it was much better proportioned than the old Ral Partha miniature so I picked one up.

As with a lot of Bones minis it was slightly too bent over so I had to do the boiling water/iced water trick to straighten it up a bit. It’s since bent back a bit towards the original pose but nothing to worry about, and since it’s now secure to a 50mm base it won’t keep falling over at least!

Some of the detailing is a bit poor as sometimes happens with Bones plastic. In this case the barrel on its back, the fish and some of the skulls hanging from the waist are a bit ‘blobby’, but not enough to detract from the mini overall.

I’m sure it’ll provide a useful distraction to my D&D players at some point!