It’s an under-reported fact that in the world of fantasy miniatures there’s a dearth of decent spider sculpts.
Whilst looking at the creature list for Frostgrave it suddenly dawned on me that in the 30 or so years I’ve been in and out of the hobby I’ve never seen a giant spider sculpt that really came close to realistically resembling a spider.
Pretty much all the metal spider figures produced by various manufacturers over the years (usually as dungeon inhabitants for RPGs or wargaming mounts for evil creatures) go down one of two routes –
Route One – overly chunky and badly positioned legs with excessively furry bodies.
Route Two – uncanny resemblance to the cheap Chinese plastic toy spiders found in the toy section of pound/dollar stores the world over with abdomen and legs flat to the ground.
I assume the reason for this general lack of realism was the difficulty in casting in metal. The finesse needed to represent proper spider leg proportions in relation to the body position would probably mean the castings would be liable to break as they came out of the moulds.
Nowadays plastic prevails as many manufacturer’s first choice material. Despite the fact it can easily cope with finer detailing there are still few spider miniatures out there. About the best modern miniature representation of a giant spider is GW’s Sherlob from their ‘The Hobbit’ range. There’s no way I’m dropping £20 on a spider miniature though, especially as I need two…
With this in mind I decided to bite the bullet in the short-term and use a couple of Reaper Bones Spiders. Although these are anatomically correct they’re a little on the small side and aren’t as imposing as I’d have liked.
These were mounted on 30mm slotta bases with paving stones cut from foam sheet glued on the tops.
The long-term plan is to revisit the Spiders. I’ll either keep looking for a more imposing pair of sculpts or finish off some scratch built versions I started.
The list of miniature possibilities for this were endless really. Some of the runners and riders were GW’s Snotlings, Nurglings, Chaos Familiars and even some of the Carrion Riders from the 90s without their mounts. Other contenders included Reaper Miniatures Mites, Goblin Pyros and Familiars. The Hasslefree Miniatures Demon Child was also a strong runner.
In the end I settled on some Malifaux Terror Tots and although I technically only needed 1 for my Frostgrave project there was no point leaving the other 2 on the sprues.
In typical Malifaux style these are interesting little sculpts. They put me mind of something between ‘When Cherubs go bad’ (surely Channel 5 in the UK will use that as TV series title eventually) and ‘Evil Stewie’ from Family Guy. They may be a little too well armed for some people’s tastes as troublesome mini demons but for me they’re not wildly over the top.
I tried to steer clear of purple and red tones for the skin as I didn’t want them looking too demonic but at the same time I didn’t want them looking too human either. I also put them on 20mm slottas rather than the 25/30mm lipped bases they came with to make them feel a little more slight and impish.
I managed to pick up the following four figures off eBay at a reasonable price a few weeks back, obviously with my ongoing Frostgrave project in mind.
They’re all Citadel metal slotta based miniatures mostly meant for Warhammer. They span an interesting few of years of production. We start at 1985 and the 2nd Ed of WFB, through 1986 and the 1st Ed of WFRP and then beyond that into 1987 and the 3th Ed of WFB – aka ‘Oldhammer’.
First up is one of the ADD 6 Paladins from the TSR licenced AD&D miniatures range from 1985. These Player Character packs were obviously meant for AD&D rather than Warhammer and sold in blisters of 3, representing the same character from low to high level as they developed in the game.
I say that like it was actually a possibility. Most people played RPGs in the 80s with a GM who was a total dick and TPK after every session was the norm. That meant the other 2 better equipped miniatures were never needed…
I’m quite nostalgic (unusual for me) about this whole Citadel AD&D range however I disliked these Paladin figures at the time and I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to painting one now. I’m not totally happy with the finished paint job but it’s useable so I’m glad I completed it.
Next up is this C01 Fighter – ‘Aldred Fellblade’ from early 1986. This figure is probably best known from his depiction by John Sibbick on the cover of WFRP 1st Edition – presumably using all his fate points just to survive up to that point and run through the Ogre. He probably got finished off by a goblin in the next round…
I’d never really paid much attention to the miniature when it came out and remember the Sibbick illustration more. After looking properly at it now it had escaped me just how ‘Jes Goodwin’ the sculpt actually is.
The final couple are F2 Fighters from 1987 – ‘Ernst Stoutheart’ and ‘Altdorf Sergeant’.
Both these miniatures are from a time when the WFRP and WFB backgrounds were finally starting to mesh together in an uneasy union. Although the RPG game was a fully fleshed out ‘realistic’ world of socio-economic political intrigue, the wargame of fantasy battles struggled to find mechanisms to cope with the vast injection of fluff from the roleplay game.
So 3rd Ed WFB always felt stuck in the vein of classic fantasy, heavy with the presence of Orcs, Elves and Dwarfs rather than the grim dark Human centric Renaissance Period feel of WFRP. For this reason the two games sat uneasily side by side in my view despite their supposedly shared background.
Even the later Realms of Chaos books put the WFB action at the furthest points of Human influence – the chaos wastes or in the deepest of Empirical forest rather than the backstreets of Altdorf like WFRP had.
By the time WFRP was finally sidelined in 1992 GW had already taken the opportunity to pluck the easily workable bits from it to use with the forthcoming 4th Ed WFB (Bretonnian Knights for instance) whilst other concepts were slowly spoon fed back into the game as new additions (such as Tilean Mercenary units).
Anyway, both of these miniatures painted up okay and will work quite well as murder hobos in Frostgrave.
Oh Mantic, we’ve had our problems haven’t we? I can’t stay mad at you forever though. Come here and give me a hug…
I bought a single sprue of Mantic zombies as I needed a couple for Frostgrave. I have to admit I only bought these because I realised they looked very similar assembly wise to the ghouls I’d bought some time ago which were great and glued together perfectly.
The sprue arrived bearing the reassuring mark of ‘Renedra’ on it – phew! The moulding was great, as to be expected from a company as well regarded as Renedra, and the sculpting by Mantic was splendid too.
It’s been pretty much exactly 20 years since I last painted Zombies – the Autumn of 1995 in fact. Then it was a unit of 30 metal GW Zombies, mostly Kev Adams sculpts first seen in the Spring 1986 Citadel Journal. I’d bought them in a sale at the GW Beckenham Store (long gone!) in early 1993 during a big sell off of their older ranges.
I used a black undercoat on those zombies (unusual for me back then as I usually used white) and built the colours up leaving the dark recesses.
These modern Mantic versions are much more refined and “realistic” than the old GW sculpts so I tackled them with my usual approach.
By coincidence Azazel painted up and displayed some of these on his blog here just as I’d assembled and undercoated mine ready for painting.
I’d commented on his blog about how these zombies are huge in comparison to other 28mm figures and he agreed. What I’ve spotted since then is that Mantic describe Kings of War as a mass combat game using 30mm figures. That’ll explain it then!
Finding a suitable miniature to represent this has been a little problematic. To start with there aren’t a great deal of Gorilla miniatures out there. The vast majority of these are either bearing firearms or wearing armour for Sci Fi games.
Wargames Foundry have a ‘Lord of the Jungle’ set that includes one with Tarzan, Jane and Belgian Colonial Officer miniatures. The downside is that it isn’t cheap – I’d have no use for the other miniatures in the set so it would have worked out at £16 (sharp intake of breath) for a single Gorilla. No chance.
Digging a bit deeper lead me to a Malifaux miniature that would do the trick. I have no idea what Malifaux is from a gaming point of view but the official miniatures seem to be a weird mix of Steampunk, Fantasy, Martial Arts and Demonic types – it has some really interesting miniatures amongst it’s range.
The miniature is called Cojo and normally retails at £15 but I managed to pick a discounted one up for under a tenner – still expensive in my mind but cheaper than the Foundry Gorilla.
On opening the box the Cojo figure is a large (actually it’s massive!) gorilla type creature with spiny growths protruding from it’s forearms and back and a ring piercing the skin on it’s sternum. It’s so big it needs a 50mm standard round base to stand on – the 40 and 50mm lipped bases supplied with it are too small for it to stand on properly. I decided to keep the spines but cut away the ring piercing so it seemed more of a wild animal than a creature willing and able to accept body modifications.
Wanting to get some quick ideas for painting, a Google image search brought me instantly to Snowflake, the only known Albino Gorilla.
You can't get better than a Kwik Fit fitter...
I was surprised at this as I assumed there were several Albino Gorillas around the world’s zoos. Snowflake died in captivity in 2003 but not before the world’s press had photographed him extensively. Snowflake’s intrusions from the Paparazzi might have irked or confused him but at least it gave me some reference material to paint Cojo.
I tried something a little different with the base. Instead of just my usual mix of gritty sands I added a bit of a broken brick flooring effect from pieces cut from a foam sheet. I think it could be quite easy to cover entire bases with larger paving stones in this fashion.