Sunday, September 21, 2008

Making of: Dragon Monk on Temple Dog

In the following I describe the making of my 2nd-place-winning entry for the first Golden Tom (GT#1) competition at Tom's Boring Mordheim Forum. The miniature represents a Dragon Monk from the Battle Monks of Cathay warband list from the Border Town Burning (BTB) supplement. The Hero is mounted on an impressive Cathayan Temple Dog.

Temple Dog mount
"Temple Dogs are stone statues found guarding temple entrances in the lands of Nippon and Cathay. They resemble nothing so much as a cross between a giant pekinese and a lion. In times of war, the power of the temple gods is channeled into these statues to animate them. It is a great honour to mount this divine animal, indicating that the rider has found great favour with the gods."
(Warhammer Armies, page 26, 1991)

Temple Dogs were first introduced in the 3rd edition of Warhammer. Since they fit the Border Town Burning setting so well, they were introduced to Mordheim in the supplement. I was already wanting to get myself a second Temple Dog for a long time because of the Man Hunt scenario from BTB and as they can be ridden by Dragon Monks I quickly decided to make this model for my GT#1 entry.

Temple Dog from Citadel (source: CollectingCitadelMiniatures)

Although I really like the old Temple Dog model from Citadel Miniatures a lot, I found it to be a little underwhelming considering its powerful profile and rules. This is, however, largely due to it's rather dull posture. For my first Temple Dog I bent the legs a little so that it stands on a small stone (see below).

For my second Temple Dog I wanted a way more dynamic pose. Using pliers I bent the legs a lot more this time to achieve a rearing pose. The head is glued next
to the "neck" to stress the effect even more. This made it necessary that I did a lot of Green Stuff work on the neck and mane.

This was the first time I pinned a miniature. I was a little concerned that the dog wouldn't have a proper stand with only the hindpaws touching the base. However, I had no clue what to use as a pin until my girl-friend suggested using a large paper clip.

As I wanted to be able to also use the Temple Dog alone (ie. without the rider) I couldn't just glue the monk on the dog's back. After a little pondering and still "enthusiastic" about my new pinning skills I had the idea of drilling a hole in the Temple Dog's back.

Early on I decided to give the entire model (ie. rider and mount) a fighting pose. I even considered squeezing a Chaos Marauder model on the base, but then refrained from that idea as I feared it would glut the base too much. I also feared that a dying marauder would not be so appropriate for when I use the Temple Dog alone. So instead of putting a marauder on the base I only placed a marauder shield on a stone. This may not create half the same splattery bloodbath effect but it supports using the Temple Dog as single model.

My two Temple Dogs: the first one (left) and the Dragon Monk's mount (right)

Dragon Monk rider

Like all of my other Battle Monks the Dragon Monk is mostly made from Empire Flagellant bits. However, since this one is a rider I couldn't use the normal body. Riders need wide spread legs to fit on the mount so I had to cut off the legs of two body bits and combine them for a proper rider pose.

As I mentioned above I wanted a very dynamic fighting pose for the model. I imagined the monk and dog to be in the midst of a battle with their arch nemesis in BTB, the Marauders of Chaos. I gave the Dragon Monk a sword (instead of the usual quarter staff or chain sticks), because I wanted him to be beheading his opponent. I quickly chose to give him a Marauder head in his left hand. As a little gimmick I chose the same head that my Marauder chieftain conversion has. This would help the model tell its little story...

The Chieftain of my Marauders of Chaos warband (painted by Thomas List)

For my other Dragon Monks I used Flagellant heads, but this time I went with the Chaos Marauder head that I usually use for the Warrior Monk henchmen. The rest was several sessions of Green Stuff work for filling gaps and modelling the obligatory cliché moustache and beard. I added the wire piece from a paper clip early on, fixating it with Green Stuff. This allows attaching the monk on the Temple Dog mount (hence the hole).

Additional bags and pouches are a must for my Mordheim models and I use the ones from the Mordheim Accessory Sprue (these ones kindly given to me by Admin Tom because I ran out of them a while ago). You can view the unpainted model in "3D" rotation on the Border Town Burning website.

The unpainted Dragon Monk on his Temple Dog

Painting the Model
I painted the non-mount Temple Dog first. This was, of course, a great opportunity to earn some Experience before painting the mount. I tried to be thorough and did a lot of careful dry-brushing. I guess the model came out okay in the end, yet I wasn't really satisfied with it and figured I would need something better to make a worthy competition entry. So for the Temple Dog mount I decided to use no dry-brushing at all and paint the strands of hair individually. This took me about three or four times as long as for the first dog. I like to believe that you can see the difference...

On the body parts where there is no modelled fur, i.e. the belly, back and legs, I tried to simulate fur by painting lots of fine lines. I made a wash of watered down yellow and applied that to the area around the eyes. This gives the eyes a mysterious and dangerous glow, which I like a lot and think works great for the miniature as it shows the supernatural powers that are floating through the temple dog's body and and bringing the stone statue to life.

As the Dragon Monk is in the process of slaying Chaos Marauders the base fits those of my Marauders of Chaos warband. This means the model is set in the Northern Wastes and the base is sand and stones with a little steppe grass and, of course, lots of snow. For this model I chose to not use the usual grass flock. I used the tussocks from Silhouette instead. They are pretty awesome as they stand up perfectly unlike normal flock. Then I applied the snow flock (see this useful little tutorial by Thomas List). The last thing I did was spilling some blood across the shield and base to add to the model's character.

The Temple Dog Mount

The Dragon Monk was painted similar to the rest of my Battle Monks warband, i.e. with a red and grey robe. At first I feared it would look bad to have the grey robe on the Temple Dog, but it turned out better than I thought.

What I
usually have the most problems with is painting eyes. This time the eyes came out pretty good I think. The monk does have an Asian look to him, not only because of the beard.

You can see the finished model also in pseudo-3D rotation on the Border Town Burning website.

In the snow-clad Cathayan forests a group of Battle Monks encounters a Chaos Marauder warband

Alright, that's it! I hope you enjoyed this 'making of'. Many thanks to Admin Tom for holding the GT competition, as without it I probably wouldn't have managed to pull myself together and paint the miniatures (two Temple Dogs and one Dragon Monk) in time. It also motivated me to spend extra long on painting the miniatures - I hope it was worth it in the end. Personally, I am quite satisfied with the model as I think it's my best painted one so far - with more to come hopefully!

Until next time,

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Collecting Pirate Miniatures

Please note: Since its original release this article has been updated a few times with links being fixed, removed and added as well as additional information being added.

Yarr, matey! After reading about the Legends of the High Seas (LotHS) skirmish game from Warhammer Historical I was hooked immediately and wanted to start collecting a pirate crew. Soon I was surprised to find that there are so many suppliers of pirate figures. As it seems many people are overwhelmed by the many ranges just like I was, so I figured I'd write a little article where I present what I consider the best manufacturers. You may recognize a lot of the minis from the LotHS rulebook and I will try to point to those miniatures when I get to them. The list is not meant to be exhaustive by all means, but I do think that it includes the best pirate ranges on the market. Manufacturers that do not offer proper photos for their figures are not included.

After the initial presentation of the various companies there is a miniatures reference with links to the company websites of the sample miniatures used for the crew lists, Hired Hands and Legends in the LotHS book. If you find any errors or want to make additions (especially for the Royal Navy crew), don't hesitate to leave a comment! Many thanks to Steve Burt, Tim Kulinski, Chris Payne and Robert from the LotHS Yahoo Group for helping with the references! The Pirates & Sea Dogs - Alternative Pirate Miniatures website has also been very useful to me.

A word on historical accuracy

When you start collecting pirate miniatures it is a good idea to think about historical accuracy for a moment and what you want for your crew. There is the often cited "Hollywood style", whose aim is to be fun in favour of authenticity (as if it weren't possible to have both!). Even most wargames figure producers give in to cliché-ridden iconography. Regarding the dressing style during the Golden Age of Piracy author Angus Konstam writes:

During this period there was little or no difference between the dress of pirates or Royal Naval sailors. Both wore whatever they wanted. It is worth noting that many of the features we now associate with pirate dress, such as headscarves and sashes, were late 19th-century inventions. Instead, the men wore the same garb as other seamen of the period.

Angus Konstam: Blackbeard's Last Fight (Osprey Publishing, 2013), p. 59

If historical accuracy is important to you then you should do some research about authentic pirate clothing (e.g. at re-enactment sources such as Gentlemen of Fortune).

Manufacturers of Pirate Miniatures

Antediluvian Miniatures
There is a pirate set consisting of 4 models. Definitely worth a look if you are looking for some characterful swashbucklers.

Pirate Set from Antediluvian Miniatures

Artizan Designs
With only three different packs of three figures each, the Pirates range of Artizan Designs is quite small. Nevertheless the miniatures are well sculpted and come for a fair price of 5.00 £ per pack. The fact that you can thus purchase the entire range easily can also be an advantage for the collector in you. :)

Have a look at Tom Weiss' website to see his take on these pirate models - simply gorgeous!

Artizan pirates painted by Tom Weiss

For more painted samples of the Artizan pirates range have a look at Alex Bews' website (a website I stronly suggest - not only to pirates!).

Black Cat Bases
Black Cat Bases' Pirates of the Skeleton Seas range contains some great miniatures. They have six subcategories: Civillians, Towns folk & Mercenaries for hire, Human Pirates, Royal Navy 1700-1730, Specialist crew, Tavern Staff, Tribal People & Island Natives - enough to form whatever crew you like. Noteworthy are the Specialist crew which contain many of the sample models for Hired Hands from the LotHS rulebook. The miniatures cost between 1.50 and 2.50 £.

Black Tree Design
See EOE Orbis below.

Black Scorpion Miniatures
I have always found Black Scorpion's Pirates range by Adam Clarke to be amongst the most beautiful. The models can be seen throughout the LotHS rulebook. Note that Black Scorpion miniatures are 30mm scale (or "heroic 28mm") rather than the common 28mm so they are slightly taller than most other miniatures presented here.

The range started out as an explicit support for the LotHS game, providing figures for the three factions - pirates, privateers and the British Royal Navy. Then, fantasy pirate figures came out for the classic fantasy races of Dwarfs, Elves and Orcs & Goblins. Similar to Freebooter (see below) Black Scorpion now has its own gaming system Cutlass!. If you want to learn more about this game, check out the videos at wargaming news site Beasts of War.

The pirate crew of Captain Redbeard, painted by Tom List

Be sure to check out Black Scorpion Miniatures on Facebook where they have a gallery of the figures' original greens.

Brigade Games
Brigade Games offers a range of Buccaneers, Pirates and Privateers. I'm not sure whether the paint jobs on their site simply doesn't do the figures justice or if the really are not that great sculpts.

Crusader Miniatures
Crusader Miniatures' Pirates range contains eight different packs of three figures each. Four miniatures from the range are used as sample models for the Pirate and Privateer Crew lists in the LotHS book. While the painted sample miniatures are looking really excellent, the photos of the other unpainted minis appear rather simple and not so detailed, but that might depend on the paint job in the end. There may not be enough models to form an entire crew, but they sure make for nice additions to your other figures.

Be sure to have a look at Tom Weiss' website to see close ups of the Crusader pirates (yes, these are the very ones from Crusader itself).

Dixon Miniatures
Dixon has a decent range of Pirates. Unfortunately they lack pictures for many of their models, which is a real pity since the depicted samples look quite good. It is worth mentioning that their personalities section features six specific characters all of which appear as Legends of the High Seas in the rulebook. Lastly, with a price of 0.95 £ for a single miniature Dixon's range is the second cheapest in this list.

EOE Orbis
EOE Orbis ran a kickstarter campaign for their "Pirates of Treasure Island" range of pirate miniatures in 2018. I like the sculpts a lot and described the range in more detail in this post.

Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver from
 the Pirates of Treasure Island range by EOE Orbis

Eureka Miniatures
Eureka Miniatures also have a few pirate miniatures. Personally, I am not too fond of most of their piratey sculpts but do check out their many vignettes and diorama pieces from other ranges such as 18th century civilians and French Revolution - they are well suited to spice up your games with unusual figures. Note that they have special distributors for the UK and USA.

2x Victim walking plank [100PIR53], painted by Steve Dean

Foundry's Pirates & Swashbucklers range offers a near endless number of pirate miniatures. You can form crews of pretty much any combination of pirates.

On October 11th, 2013 the following information about the Captain Gibbons' Flotsam pack (CUT3/8) was posted on the Foundry website:

It recently occurred to us that the contents of one of our Pirate packs are in fact old Citadel models! The model on the left is Steve Jackson who visited the factory with an injured leg.  There was a also a model of Ian Livingstone CBE with a baseball bat, but we're not sure where it is at the moment.  Apparently it isn't with our current pirates range because at the time my Grandfather didn't think he looked much like a pirate.  On the same occasion a model of my Father as a Hill Giant was sculpted and made available for a while. It may still be available through the people who currently sell Ral Partha.  You can find the Citadel pirates that we do have HERE.

They go on writing:

All the other pirates were sculpted by Will Hannah. We think they are the nicest 28mm pirate models ever made. Many of them are useful as general tough-looking 18th Century blokes.  Perhaps we should fish the tough guys, gentries and duelist looking types out and put them in desperate packs.  He also did another range of Oriental Pirates/bandits/fantasy models that was never released for some reason.

Foundry pirates painted by Kevin Dallimore

For some excellently painted Foundry pirates check out Alex Bews pirates gallery. You can also see the Cabin Boy sample model and the Master Gunner Hired Hand sample model from the LotHS rulebook on his website.
Again, Tom Weiss has some incredible figures in his Foundry pirates gallery.

There are also some Royal Navy miniatures in the Foundry ranges. Have a look at this thread on the Lead Adventure Forum for photos of Dominic's awesome Royal Navy crew. You might recognize some of his models from the LotHS rulebook.

Firelock Games
Firelock Games ran a successful kickstarter campaign for their pirate game "Blood & Plunder" in 2016 and produce a large range of piratical figures to accompany it. They offer models for different nations (British, French, Spanish) and many more. They put a special emphasis on historical accuracy. The figures come on 20mm bases as part of the models.

Pirates from Firelock Games

Freebooter Miniatures
Werner Klocke's range of miniatures for the fantasy pirate skirmish game Freebooter's Fate has a very distinct style and feel which may not be appealing to the typical historical wargamer. Factions such as Amazons and Goblins aside there are some not-so-over-the-top figures in the Pirates and Imperial Armada factions, which can be very nice additions to even a historical crew. Note that with 30mm they are a littler taler than most other ranges, though this makes them a good fit for Black Scorpion and Black Cat Bases.

Hasslefree Miniatures
Hasslefree Miniatures does not really have a suitable range of historical pirates. However, their Fantasy Pirates range includes one noteworthy figure: a beautiful Pirate Captain, sculpted by Tom Meier, available in metal and as a resin version. Hasslefree bought this sculpt at an open auction, saying "It cost us an arm and a leg (well a mortgage payment actually!)".
Note that the resin version is slightly different from the metal version: "Whereas the resin version is in one piece, Kev had to alter this one [the metal version] slightly to make it castable in white metal. Changes include thickening areas of the cloak, removing the scabbard which was chewing up the moulds and putting a leather bag in its place ...oh yes and he also cut off his arms and put them on a separate sprue!"

This is one of my personal favourite pirate miniatures, if not the favourite. Just from looking at the pictures it is impossible to imagine the incredibly fine detail of this sculpt. The figure looks like it was 48mm or so in scale and then magically shrinked. Thomas List painted the metal version for me as part of Redbeard's Sea Dogs pirate crew and it is one of my dearest miniatures.

Hasslefree's Pirate Captain painted by Tom List

Musketeer Miniatures
The Hazels Heroes range includes three miniatures that are great for a pirate crew (HH1, HH2, HH3). You can see them in the LotHS rulebook too.

North Star Military Figures
Anne Bonney (North Star)
North Star produces a range of pirates to support the 'On The Seven Seas' rules by Osprey. Some of the figures seem to have a somewhat cartoony look about them. They are definately a good fit for any games of a 'Pirates of the Carribbean' mood. All in all, though, they nicely complement the Foundry range, if quite a bit more pricey.

Note that as part of a so called "Nickstarter" pre-order program there are five exclusive miniatures available: Marcel the Monkey; Harry Bennett's hoard; Captain Kidd; Jack Cubbin, The Cabin boy and the High Seas Drifter.

Captain Blackbeard and his crew (North Star)

Old Glory MiniaturesOld Glory certainly does not produce for skirmish gamers: their pirate packs come with 30 miniatures in 10 different poses (i.e. 3 models of each pose). However, for a price of 23.00 £ this is quite affordable. They have some extremely characterful figures like the treasure party, the looters with victims, the captured civilians and the gambling pirates, all of which make for excellent dioramas. Unfortunately Old Glory provides only very few photos of their pirate miniatures.

Redoubt Enterprises
Redoubt Enterprises' pirate miniatures range consists of Guncrew and Swashbucklers and Civilians. You can't really tell their quality from the small photos but they do look okay - especially considering the price of 1.05 £ per model, which makes them very attractive to players, who do not want to spend a fortune on their crew and Redoubt's range is large enough to support a whole pirate crew.

Resina Planet
Resina Planet's 32mm Pirate range has some nice sculpts on offer. Like the Freebooter miniatures they have a somewhat cartoony Fantasy feel to them and their size doesn't make them compatible with many other ranges.

Manufacturers of Sea Monsters

The huge Kraken model by Canadian company Immortal-Realms - appropriately categorized under "Terrain" - is the ideal antagonist for your pirate ship. For a more in-depth look at suitable sea monsters to go along with your pirates have a look at the article Terrors of the High Seas.

Legends of the High Seas Miniatures Reference

This list shows the figures used in the Legends of the High Seas rulebook.

Royal Navy Crews
Royal Navy Captain - Front Rank: Officer of Artillery (AWAB4)
Midshipman - Foundry: Royal Navy Boarding Party (B141)
Lieutenants - Foundry: British Centre Company Command (AWI3/6)
Marines - Foundry: British Centre Company Firing (AWI3/5)
Able Seamen - Foundry: Royal Navy Boarding Party (B141)

Pirate Crews
Pirate Captain - Crusader Miniatures: Buccaneers
Mates - Artizan Designs: Bill Tracey (Scurvy Dogs)
Quartermaster - Crusader Miniatures: Seaman Staines
Cutthroats - Artizan Designs: Barney McGee (Scurvy Dogs)
Rogue - Crusader Miniatures: Sea Scum

Privateer Crews
 Privateer Captain - Artizan Designs: Juan Corso (Juan Corso's Buccaneers)
Proctor - Artizan Designs: Mr. Smee (Scurvy Dogs)
First Mate - Crusader Miniatures: Sea Scum
Cabin Boy - Foundry: Little Tommy Hislop (CUT 1/2)
Mercenaries - Artizan Designs: Slugger O'Toole (Scurvy Dogs II)
Mariner - Artizan Designs: Mick McGann (Scurvy Dogs II)

Hired Hands
Navigator - Black Cat Bases: Pirate Navigator
Master Gunner - Foundry: Snotty La Farge (CUT 4/7)/Gun Crew (CUT 23A)Carpenter - Black Cat Bases: Pirate Carpenter
Cook - Black Cat Bases: Cook
Surgeon - Black Cat Bases: Pirate Surgeon
Island native - Black Cat Bases: Tribal Warrior with a bow
Bounty Hunter - Black Cat Bases: Bounty Hunter
Wanton Wench - Black Cat Bases: Wench
Buccaneer - Black Scorpion: Rogues
Swashbuckler - Black Cat Bases: Swashbuckler
Missionary - Front Rank: Civilians (GP4)
Young Nobleman - Foundry: Henry Every (CUT 1/4)

Legends of the High Seas
Edward Teach (Blackbeard) - Black Scorpion: Black Jack Davey
Lieutenant Robert Maynard - Black Cat Bases: Swashbuckler
Jack Rackam (Calico Jack) - Artizan Designs: Bill Tracey (Scurvy Dogs)
Anne Bonny - Black Cat Bases: Female Pirate Captain
Mary Read - Foundry: Mary Read (CUT 1/1)
Charles Vane - Black Cat Bases: Noblemen
Stede Bonnet (The Gentleman Pirate) - Foundry: Treasure Island Characters (CUT2/1)
Colonel William Rhett - Black Cat Bases: Royal Navy Captain
William Kidd - missing
Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart) - Foundry: Oswald Haughtry (CUT 1/3)


I hope this little guide serves you as a great source of inspiration when collecting your own crews of scurvy dogs! In the end it all comes down to personal taste anyways. Maybe you like to drop by again for the follow-up article when I talk about ships & cannons.



Copyright of the various miniatures by the respective companies. All rights reserved.
Last updated on January 25th, 2020. Numerous links fixed and additional information added.
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