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Frostgrave Random Encounters – White Gorilla

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.

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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.

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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.

Citadel “Elric of Melnibone” FTF-63 / C35

I had vague recollections of this figure from one of the early Citadel Journals or Compendiums. A quick look through the Stuff of Legends site confirmed it was in the 2nd Citadel Journal from Autumn 1985.

For some reason I thought it was part of the Men at Arms/Demon diorama by Dave Andrews, John Blanche and Tony Ackland but my memory had played a trick on me – not really surprising after 30 years! It was actually painted by Charles (Chaz) Elliott.

In the Journal there’s no clue to it’s actual code identity and is given the description ‘Elric of Melnibone’.

For Citadel to use this title must surely have meant they’d already secured the rights to produce figures for Moorcock’s Multiverse, although the BC5 Eternal Champion box set (the first of Citadel’s releases based on Moorcock’s writings) wasn’t available just yet.

With no clues to it’s identity I always assumed this figure was from the C01 Fighters range but I was wrong. It’s actually from an earlier range – ‘Fantasy Tribe Fighters’ (FTF) which originated sometime in 1982.
The C ranges were introduced in 1983 and some of the FTF miniatures were incorporated into these. This miniature then made the transition into the C35 Knights of Chaos range.

I never saw this figure for sale when I started buying miniatures from late 1984 onwards – I would have snapped it up if I had. This one is a recent purchase off eBay.

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He was quickly painted up in similar colours to the Chaz Elliott miniature. I can’t say I’m happy with his eyes so chances are I’ll repaint them before he gets a coat of varnish.

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After he’s varnished I’m unsure whether I should give him a good splashing/flicking of blood effect.

The two options I have in my paint box for this are:-

GW’s Blood for the Blood God – which can be used straight out of the pot.

Tamiya X27 Clear Red – which gives better results in my opinion but needs to mixed with a little black to make it less ‘candy/lollipop red’ and more blood-like for my tastes.

If you’ve never used either of these paints before I recommend you give them a try, just bear in mind they have to be applied AFTER any varnish to avoid ruining the glossy ‘wet blood look’ these paints give.

Half Orc on Pony

One of the ‘creations’ from AD&D that made it’s way into Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB) was the Half Orc.

Supposedly a product of *ahem* ‘union’ between Humans and Orcs, there was also the possibility of gene pools being mixed further with Goblin and Hobgoblins also supposedly able to procreate with Humans. These individuals still tended to be classed as Goblins, Hobgoblins or Half Orcs in Warhammer terms, Gary Gygax would have written them up as eleven new races for AD&D if he’d had the time…

In WFB Orcs and Goblins raid Human settlements and take cattle and captives for food, often to take back to their homelands. It appears in the earlier editions though that Goblinoids weren’t as asexual as later incarnations and it was implied that some of the female captives suffered fates worse than death by Orcish cooking pot.

Tolkien had Half Orcs in his stories of course but these creatures were created by Saruman to work as slaves and warriors for his own nefarious purposes. Tolkien’s stories aren’t known for their high copulation count so I think it’s fair to say he envisaged Saruman’s Half Orcs being manufactured by some sort of magical in vitro process rather than by the violation of women by Orcs.

The Half Orc PC in 1st Ed AD&D typically became a bit of a one trick pony, the stereotypical fighter hampered by low intelligence and even lower charisma. They weren’t particularly liked by other PC races. They weren’t particularly liked by anyone.

The Half Orcs of 1st and 2nd Ed WFB were also outsiders used to fighting against the world, unwelcome in both Orc or Human society. They formed Mercenary units like RR9 Regiments of Renown ‘Mudat’s Mercenary Half Orc Maniacs’ – incidentally the fluff for which includes the first possible mention of the city of Nuln, later detailed extensively in WFRP and later Editions of WFB.

The Half Orc found itself relegated in 3rd Ed WFB. Small numbers were allowed in Orc and Goblin armies and they were still available as Mercenary units – I didn’t know anybody that used them and I never had any despite owning a large Orc and Goblin army at the time. Miniatures were still being produced, although nothing new was added to the range.

By 4th Ed WFB they had completely disappeared, probably due as much to their unpopularity with players as to the uncomfortable back story of how they came into existence being too difficult to explain to the younger audience 4th Ed was aimed at.

I always had a soft spot for them. The use of mercenaries seemed under explored in WFB at the time despite several of the Regiments of Renown being pay sword units. I think Half Orc mercenaries would be perfect in narrative based skirmish games and an uneasy alliance of Humans paying for their services against an Orc raiding party could have all sorts of twists and turns – not just financially but also possible intrigue from filial, agnate or cognate relationships.

Here’s a Half Orc mounted on a pony quickly painted up as part of my ‘break from regiment painting’.

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The observant amongst you will notice that this isn’t in fact a Half Orc at all but was sold by Ral Partha/ Elmore Masterworks/Dark Sword Miniatures as a Chaos Warrior, originally mounted on a lizard. I bought it as I wanted to use the lizard for another project but the Chaos Warrior is very Goblinoid. The pony is from Citadel’s C33 Half Orc Hero set. I bought the pony on it’s own cheaply to use with the Chaos Warrior rather than consign him to my bits box.

Scratch Built Robots

Internet distraction disorder can be a real hindrance to getting anything worthwhile done. Just occasionally though the random tangents can lead to something truly interesting.

This happened to me late last year while looking for inspiration for building fantasy scenery. By pure chance I stumbled across Alessandro Conti’s scratch built Necrons posted on the Matakishi’s Tea House site.

http://www.matakishi.com/necrons.htm

It seems Alessandro’s models divided opinion when pictures were posted on Warhammer 40K forums about 7 years ago.

I know very little about the Necrons. They weren’t in the 1st edition of W40K (which was the only version of the game I owned) and Wikipedia tells me they appeared as a new race towards the end of 2nd edition W40K’s lifecycle via an article in White Dwarf issue 216.
Since my return to painting/gaming I’ve obviously seen the models produced by GW over the years. They seem to share more than a passing resemblance to both the Chaos Android model that appeared in the MB/GW 1990 game ‘Space Crusade’ and the T-800 of the Terminator Movies. However in W40K they’re apparently an ancient race of skeletal robot warriors. Picture that eh? GW in more skulls shocker…

Anyway, as noted above, Alessandro’s models didn’t suit everyone’s tastes. I can see why some people might have disliked them. They lack the detailed skeletal, anatomical finesse and metallic skulls that seem to visually define the Necrons. I don’t care that these creations didn’t meet a particular specification for some gamers. As generic, low technology robots I think they’re inspired!

This got me thinking about creating my own and what I had of use lying around in toolboxes. After a quick search I was still short of parts.
Luckily I remembered about a new store that’s opened nearby. It’s an independently owned ‘pound store’ that (unlike a lot of the bigger outlets doing this in the UK) stocks hundreds of cheap DIY items including hand tools, electrical components, plumbing supplies as well as the usual houseware, toiletries, etc.
Most of this DIY gear is poor quality and looks like it wouldn’t really survive regular usage but that’s reflected in the price.
Of course for my needs that made it perfect and I purchased the extras I needed.
On top of the wire, rawl plugs, nuts, washers, cable clips and crimp connectors used in the original models I’ve also incorporated small rubber gaskets, plastic beads and fluorescent light tube starters in some of mine.

As far as gaming I’d incorporate them into a 28mm Sci Fi skirmish game, which I’ll admit is unlikely to ever happen. Never mind, here’s the background I’ve envisaged for them.

These individuals were originally agricultural robots on a distant colony. After severe dust storms devastated crops the settlers either starved or fled with only what they could carry on passing trader vessels.

Decades later Religious Zealots/Pirates/Goblins have landed on the uninhabited planet, finding the robots in the ruins of the abandoned farmsteads.

After hot wiring them into action again, the robots were crudely repaired and converted. Corroded panels were welded back on, damaged or safe mode circuits bypassed, leaky hydraulic cables cut down and reswaged to such an extent that the new owners managed to get these primitive mechanisms back into service – not as machines to farm with but as assault droids to quickly rip through the unsuspecting light infantry of any invaders.

These machines have been patched back together haphazardly and as a result are unreliable and very dangerous. Not only have they had weapons attached which their circuits aren’t designed for, the new owners have also packed explosives into cavities in the bodywork. This can be triggered by remote control once they get amongst enemy troops or it might happen if the robots break down or suffer damage from enemy fire.

Movement can be sporadic due to poor performance from elderly energy units and CPUs struggling to deal with programming conflicts created by patched up circuitry. These robots really need to be followed by *ahem* ‘technicians’ to make minor ‘alterations’ as they approach the enemy – a quick tinkering with a 4lb club hammer can often work wonders.
The technicians really need to keep up with the robots to stay in range to monitor/diagnose/repair. Of course this means that if a robot explodes then there’s a high probability the technician will be killed too if in range of the blast.

The exploratory landing party from the Imperialists/Evil Empire/Betterware Door to Door Sales people might have their work cut out…

And here are the robots:-

Locust TxH34

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The Locust TxH34 (pictured here with weapons not part of the factory fit) became a standard in agriculture for over 50 years, superseded by the later DxH44 and TxH54 models.

Aardvark AS253a

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Before conversion this was an Aardvark SZ253a, aimed at the far flung cash conscious colonist. With a performance comparable to higher priced units in the same range but without the added cost of extra features this was marketed as the most reliable robot ever, repairable in the field with even the most basic of toolkits.

Locust GR5000

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The Locust GR5000 was considered a combination of the best elements from both the DxH and TxH ranges until it too was replaced by later advancements. Again this one carries armament that would invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty.

This group shot includes Rookbrow to give a sense of scale.

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Scratch Built Hovel

Many years ago I built enough 28mm buildings to make a small hamlet. It comprised several multi storey houses, a large inn, a barn/workshop and stables. The basis for these came from inspiration from modelling articles in White Dwarf magazine in the early 90s. I no longer own copies of these magazines so I can’t remember the exact issues they appeared in (between numbers 140 and 160?) or even who authored the articles but I thought I’d give it another go at making a building but this time pretty much from memory.

Scale

The most important thing I can remember was getting the scale to feel right, particularly for the windows and doors. Even within 28mm figures there’s a big difference between ‘standard’ human miniatures and the more ‘heroic’ humans that represent chaos warriors etc. My personal preference was to get a balance between the two so they looked okay with both sizes of miniatures. I used to use 2 particular figures as scale gauges when experimenting with this – a ranger figure and a chaos warrior. The original 2 I used are long gone so I’ve chosen similar models from my current collection. Remember this isn’t military or railway modelling made to an exacting scale, it’s all about things ‘feeling right’.

Tools

The tools used to make this were standard model makers fare – a sharp knife, mechanical pencil and a metal safety ruler.
I used a glue gun to secure the walls and roof panels together because I now own a cheap one but PVA glue left overnight to dry does the same job, just make sure the parts you are gluing don’t move. PVA was used to glue the woodwork on. In addition to standard acrylic paints a cheap matt black car aerosol paint was used on the roof, but more on that later. On completion I varnished it with a matt acrylic spray.

Materials

The walls are made from foam card. It appears the standard thickness for this sheeting is now 5mm and that’s what most places seem to stock. The stuff I used to use in the 90s seemed thinner than this – probably closer to 2.5mm or 3mm I’d guess. 5mm isn’t
really a problem but it can make windows seem a little bit ‘too deep’ and sunken. This can be remedied with adding a panel of card the size of the window inside the frame to bring the depth down slightly.

The woodwork is a mixture of balsa and matchsticks. These look better if you shave small amounts off the edges of the wood to give the appearance of aged hand hewn timbers. Don’t go too mad though. The texture on the walls is ready mixed all purpose filler diluted down with water and applied to the foam card between the wood framework.

The roof first had fairly rigid card sheets (approximately 2mm thick) glued on to form a surface to apply the roof effect.
All my previous buildings had tiled roofs which is achieved by using thin card (cereal packets are ideal) cut into strips with tiles cut into them. These are glued from the bottom up, overlapping each other to create the impression of tiles. It helps to break up the uniformity of these by cutting the occasional tile off at an angle as if broken and sheared off. Again, don’t go too mad. The top ridge is finished with a single piece of card with tile shapes cut on both sides to imitate coping tiles.
As this new building was to be a peasant hovel I decided to experiment creating a thatched roof.
With no towelling material to hand I soaked a piece of cheap dish cloth in diluted PVA glue and draped it over the roof. I’m not entirely happy with this result but it does the job. Next time I’d be tempted to add more pieces of dish cloth over the original piece to improve the thatch effect.
You need to wait until the roof has fully dried out before you attempt to paint it. Mine took a good few days to dry.

Painting

The woodwork was first painted with dark brown and then dry brushed using a pale grey brown and an off white bone/cream final highlight.

The window panes were painted black with small amounts of grey added to the middle.

For the roof I originally made a dark brown wash from some cheap tubes of acrylics I’d bought in a discount store. I applied this and although I was happy with the colour you could still see small dots of white card underneath on the roof where the paint hadn’t managed to penetrate through the dish cloth holes. This created a speckled effect and looked awful. To get round this I had to mask off the model and spray the roof with a cheap matt black aerosol. I then dry brushed it with dark brown and highlighted it further adding yellow and white to the original brown. Speckle problem solved.

The wall panels were first painted with an off white bone/cream colour. A diluted pale brown was then washed around the edges of each panel leaving the middle untouched. When dry the middle was dry brushed with white.

Simple but effective I think.

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This next photo gives an idea of scale.

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