Where there’s a Whip, there’s a Way: The Hosts of Mordor March!

250 models…I should probably start painting some.

Four ‘heroes’ for the Hosts of the Dark Lord.

My Mordor army has been a part of my collection since at least 2003. It started off small, just a small force of Mordor Orcs that came in the Return of the King starter box. But over the years it has ballooned massively, especially with the addition of Morannon Orcs over the years, both independently and with the addition of the Pelennor Fields boxset when that came out.

However, the painting side of things has been dragged out for almost as long. Few models had been painted, and none of those based. This was a situation that had to be rectified if I wanted to ever play them properly.

I chose to start with painting one entirely new model, the Orc Taskmaster, and three models I touched up slightly and based.

So with this playing in the background…

Oh yeah, so this exists. God bless the 1980’s!

So without further fluff, lets take a peek.

First up, a Mordor Orc Captain. This model is long OOP, and is a fantastic sculpt, chock full of great detail.
Pardon my hands, but the light doesn’t catch the face all too well otherwise. I love the scavenged Minas Tirith armour, and the gruesome severed head on the belt.
The shield is also a great touch, and yep, that is another severed head. This model has more character then a lot of the more recent FW captains!
Another OOP model, a Morannon ‘Orc’ Captain. I found this model looked more like an Uruk Hai, which another blogger(long since forgotten unfortunately) also had done. He is still being fielded as an Orc Captain though.
The nice, spiny armour takes a wash really well. I didn’t touch up this model much, it was pretty good to start with.
Some detail I hand-painted years ago, which I kept.
Its Skully! The name the character has is Guritz, but he will forever be Skully in my mind. This is literally the third iteration of the model I have, and the only one that was made specifically to represent the Movie character.
Lots of great detail on this FW model, but that isn’t altogether too surprising.
The first entirely new model I painted today, an Orc Taskmaster. This is a metal model, and I believe he is still available, albeit it in Finecast.
This guy definitely has eaten well in Mordor. Meat perhaps is back on the menu?
This model is based of the Orc ‘inspector’ that almost finds Frodo and Sam in Return of the King. I didn’t take too long trying to copy the film version, and just went with colours that I felt worked really well.

Not too much work, but a nice fun distraction. I’m looking forward to painting more, but I’m avoiding burnout as best as possible so no masses of the same thing being painted days on end.

Just a short post today, I hope you enjoyed the read! Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

Captain of the Guard: Irolas for the Middle Earth SBG!

“It is as Lord Denethor predicted! Long has he forseen this doom!”

Captain of the Tower Guard, ready to defend the Steward of Gondor, no matter the cost.

Most of the models I paint for the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game originate from the books, but not all of them. This is one of those examples. Irolas, the Captain of the Citadel Guard is one part Film creation, and other part Games Workshop fitting the character into a role that needed filling. Beregond, the main Tower Guard soldier in the books, didn’t make it into the film, which is unfortunate because his relationship with Pippin is so wholesome.

While Beregond exists as a model, and I will get to him, Irolas is a beautiful Forgeworld sculpt. He comes as part of a two-pack with a re-sculpted and updated Denethor model, and was the part of that pack I was most excited to paint. His stoic pose perfectly matches the older metal Citadel Guardsmen, and he will look great leading 12 of them in my games.

The yellow trim is something you see a lot of on the Games Workshop Citadel Guard, a pragmatic adaptation of film embroidery to something more easily applied to a model. I might get a paint pen down the road to add a little detail to the trim down the road, but as it stands I do not have a small enough brush nor the fine motor control to do so as of yet.

He wasn’t an especially difficult model to paint, with the exception of his face. I decided to give him a bit of stubble, and that took a little while to achieve. Again I eschewed painting eyes, but his face seemed to repel the wash and it took a while for it to finally settle.

Lets take a closer look!

The yellow trim was tricky to paint with my shaky hands, but I gave it my best shot.
His armour was done much the same as I would do any of my Minas Tirith warriors, and was nothing too special. Much of the model is enveloped in a nice cloak, so I focused my attention on that and the face.
While not intentional, I do like the ‘tired’ look he has. Denethor can be a handful! As well, I like to imagine that Irolas is losing sleep because of the great battle that will soon take place, and is running a bit ragged at this point out of fear and doubt. *I have since touched up his glove.
Some simple shading brought out the depth in the cloak, and the yellow trim gives it a bit of pop.

Irolas was a fun model, painted in a few hours while chatting with friends online. I have managed to convince one of my friends to play, and I’m looking forward to getting some games in post-lockdown. Between my Minas Tirith and Iron Hills armies I have a tough, dependable force no matter which I choose. I might restart work on my Mordor force to have an opposing force ready, or start on my Easterlings.

Well, that is all I have more today. A nice short and sweet post! I’ll have more for you in the coming days. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

The Flawed Hero: An Old Model, Finally Painted!

“Our people, our people. I would have followed you, my brother… my captain… my king.”-Boromir, Fellowship of the Ring.

“The city of Osgiliath has been reclaimed. For Gondor!”-Boromir, The Two Towers Extended Edition

Oh Boromir. Our flawed and noble hero. In our clubhouse, he is unfortunately the butt of many jokes. But myself and a few other staunch fans constantly defend him. He is a great character, and on the tabletop for Middle Earth he is a powerhouse. He comes in two versions; a Fellowship version, corrupted by the Ring, and a Minas Tirith version, at his apex of power before setting off for Rivendell.

This model is the latter version, and I have had him for years. I never got around to painting him as I was intimidated by the complexity of some of the detail, but after my recent painting successes I decided to give him a go. He might be the vanguard of the rest of the Minas Tirith army, which has been in various states of half-painted, or done to my standard of ten years ago, which won’t fly now.

I also have him with a banner and on horse, so those might follow. He is a beast on horse, and the banner is special to him…but has no embossed detail! A tough task to free-hand for sure!

Lets take a look at this noble son of Denethor.

I looked at many production stills, but the model differs in a lot of ways to the movie version. So I took some creative liberties, especially with the gold-trim on his shoulder armour and his tunic.
The shield, being a one off, I decided to mix Vallejo Flat Brown and Scarlet to make a reddish toned shield. I only need to do it once afterall!
The cloak I could have done a brighter colour, but given the decline of Gondor and their overall muted colour scheme, I went for a grey-black.
I can’t paint eyes to save my life, but I did his beard and shaded his face. It looks alright from a distance.

Boromir is one of my favourite characters from the Lord of the Rings. A flawed man, but one that saw his downfall not from just greed, but a desire to do good for his people. He is often maligned as a traitor, when instead his final acts were to protect Merry and Pippin, and to die in the attempt. His retribution and atonement wrapped up in a little neat bow.

When I first saw the extended cut of The Two Towers, his speech was captivating. This was the real Boromir, not the one wracked by doubt and fear. An indomitable hero of the White City. And he immediately goes to the defense of his younger brother, Faramir, when their father goes to rebuke Faramir for letting Osgiliath fall. His men love him, and his charisma among the soldiery of Gondor is obvious.

While we only got a few minutes of seeing this, true Boromir, we can luckily field him in the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game, where he is a peerless warrior. Not quite the equal of Aragorn, he can easily lead a pre-fellowship Minas Tirith army and carry the day with his amazing stat-line and upgrades.

I look forward to seeing his heroics on the tabletop, leading a vanguard of Minas Tirith warriors while his ranger brother provides archery cover.

Well, that is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this look at Lord of the Rings flawed Hero. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!

Ironfoot Artillery: A Ballista for the Iron Hills!

“Ya hear that, lads? We’re on! Let’s give these bastards a good hammering!”

A very cheesy option for the gaming table, but a very pretty model to build and paint!

When I got my Iron Hills army, I of course added a ballista to the roster. Now, I didn’t actually like what it did in the movie; the ‘Old Twirly Whirlies’ were really dumb and I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like what it does on the table either.

However, a cool looking model it remains, and is an excellent centerpiece for an Iron Hills list. As well, the rules do benefit the otherwise static nature of the army. It is very strong so I don’t intend to have more then one.

It remains a beautiful mode, with deep wood-grain on the carriage. I had begun painting it years ago, finishing the carriage back in 2018. However, I stopped short of doing the crew for whatever reason, I don’t remember why. I needed a quick and easy project for the day, and so I brought it out of storage and knocked out the crew in about 45 minutes. Lets have a look at the completed project!

I decided to glue two of the crew figures to the ballista, which will make ingame book-keeping harder but looks better.
The crew does look pretty animated once they were done, and I’m pretty happy with the completed effect.
This crewman is doing…something with his hands. Not sure what!
If anything, these models were a lot easier then the warriors. Easy to access all their parts for painting, with no large shield in the way!
The Iron Hills Siege Veteran, a solid choice to lead the crew, but can be swapped for a Captain. I like the pose, it is very commanding!
The armour has a lot of subtle detail that I really like. A better painter can probably make it pop a lot better!

All in all, a fast paintjob and a solid chunk of points done in a one sitting. I’m looking forward to getting more of the Iron Hills painted in-between my other projects. The Battle of Dale is fast approaching…perhaps some Easterlings will cross my desk in the near future.

The Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game is near and dear to me, so expect more content beyond just Iron Hills models in the near future. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and may Illuvatar bless your rolls!

Baruk Khazâd: Iron Hills for Middle Earth!

Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!

This is from March 2018: Almost a lifetime ago it feels. Its about time I got some paint on them!

‘I do not think that any would come,’ he answered. ‘They have no need to ride to war; war already marches on their own lands.’-Legolas, Return of the King.

Back 2018 I made a massive push to play the then Hobbit Strategy Battle Game with my friends. It was tough going; 40k was wildly popular and almost without rival at my local clubhouse, and it was a fantasy game competing with Age of Sigmar, another juggernaut. Of course, in my reckless optimism, I acquired a large force of Iron Hills Dwarves, probably the strongest army in the game at the time.

That wasn’t the reason I collected them; while I have many opinions about the Peter Jackson Hobbit Trilogy(not many of them particularly nice…)I did love the dwarves. We never got to see that many during Lord of the Rings and seeing them in battle was a nice contrast to the prim and proper elves. Dain brought a decently sized force to the Battle of Five Armies, and while they differed drastically from the book depiction…I have a fondness for spears in large numbers.

At the time, I justified it by saying I could always field it as the dwarves present at the later Battle of Dale in the Third Age, where they fought a downright massive host of Easterlings from Rhun. This battle was in the book appendices, and was simply titanic in terms of forces involved, and almost none of them Orcs. I never expected in a million years that Games Workshop would actually cover the battle again(they did in the original Return of the King book), and with models to go with it. They did have an ‘old’ Dain Ironfoot, but his son Thorin III Stonehelm was simply a renamed generic Hero, as was King Brand of Dale.

So, of course the mad-lads behind the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game went and did it.

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Oh yeah, Old Dain is back! And his slightly goofy looking son as well!

This had the (probably intended by GW) effect of reviving my interest in Middle Earth again. While as of writing these models are part of a modified Erebor Reclaimed army-list, I have no doubt that that we will see either a bespoke army-list or an expanded one for this massive battle. It is heavily implied that we will see an expansion either just on this battle or in a compendium of battles that Sauron launched against the West, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for King Brand.

Now where does that leave me for army building? Well, I have enough Orcs to probably fill a bathtub, and enough Easterlings to fight skirmish level games. The Iron Hills army stands at 43 models including 2 banners and 2 captains. The Ballista, while very cool, isn’t in the Erebor Reclaimed list and must(for now) sit this battle out. I decided as a palette cleanse before I start assembling my horde of Bolt Action Soviets, to get some painting done, and selected 12 models and 2 command!

Lets see how I got on!

A small force, but a very playable one! More will come!

Now these are truly beautiful models. At 81 Canadian dollars for every 12, I certainly hope so! I was hesitant to paint them for the longest time, especially because resin can be hard to strip paint off of it had gone badly. But, I’ve learned to accept that I will not always paint ‘amazing’ models compared to the standards of others, but I can always shoot for my personal quality. So with that caution thrown aside, I got started.

The Warriors were particularly annoying, as past me had made the lazy decision to assemble them fully then paint. What a mistake that was! The shields and faces were very difficult to do.

A simple paint scheme for these doughty dwarves. Some gold accents, copied from film, and brown undertunics, which can barely be seen here.
The wash really came alive and helped me feel better about how I was getting along. They really don’t look too shabby, and are definitely tabletop quality.
There is something to be said about a good shield, and these are indeed good looking shields!
Easy too. The detail is in sharp relief and took the paint and subsequent wash really well.
Arrayed together as a single warband, and the sea of spears really comes to life. This is a shield-wall few will want to mess with!

With the Warriors done, I moved onto the banner and Captain. These were actually a bit easier, as the shield was not blocking too much of their bodies. The banner was a tough nut to crack as I had not a single idea on how I wanted to do it beforehand. Luckily, a chat with my more artistically inclined(if not particularly verbose) sister led to the result. “Add more colour” she said, and honestly the addition of sky blue and red made it pop just enough that I am happy with it.

A Captain of the Iron Hills is no slouch in combat, and with his spear, can contribute to the fighting line.
A dirty but striking red cloak makes him stand out on the battlefield.
The banner! It’s simple but its enough that I’m happy with it. I have a far more complex banner in the works for the next warband.
And the back! Not much to say other then hey, its the back!

That was this warband completed, and a solid chunk of points too! I’m going off a 750pt to 1000pt limit as my initial goal. With new(old actually, ha!) Dain replacing his pig-riding, bloody crazy version leading the main force, with two wings led by either his son or the able Captains.

Which leaves…

Ho boy, I got loads to go. At least I can rule out piggy and the Ballista.

With the new ‘Old’ Dain and his son on his way, I am eagerly awaiting the supplement that will accompany him. Luckily, they have published rules to use in the mean time, most of which have been pinched from his original form back in 2003. His son, Thorin III, is a different beast entirely, and while not a beefcake, can be used as an interesting strategic tool with his subsect of abilities allowing him to change the flow of the battle.

I should, unless they add some stuff, be able to field the army upon release of the supplement without much in the way of work, if I keep hammering out dwarves 14 at a time. That is the plan anyways, and judging by the fact it took me 3 years to get this lot even near the painting table, plans can be easily go awry.

In any event, I rewarded myself as a Hobbit would do…

A bit of the Old Toby, and a lovely evening chill.

Anyways, that is all I had for today. I hope you enjoyed this drastic shift in topics(not all those wander are lost after all!)

Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and remember what Tom Bombadil said: “Be Bold, but Wary! Keep up your merry hears, and ride to meet your fortune!”

To battle, Sons of Durin!

As I mentioned in my last post, I did a joint Forge-World order with a friend recently. Weirdly, and something I didn’t expect, I didn’t actually want anything 40k related at the time, as I felt I had everything my army could possibly use. That left Lord of the Rings. Now, as a massive fan of the book, the Hobbit movies didn’t impress me. It didn’t feel as quality as Lord of the Rings, and felt like a cash-in. However, I did enjoy the Dwarves, as we didn’t see much of them in either the books or the movies of the Trilogy.

GW have over the years, tried their hand at making Dwarves for the SBG, and while some units I think look fantastic, such as the character models, Vault Wardens, and Khazad Guard, the others looked very generically fantasy, very safe and I was never really drawn to them. It was clear that since they only had Gimli and the dwarves at the council of Elrond to draw inspiration from, they hadn’t put as much time into it as Weta did for the films, and it showed in the generic nature of the rank and file models.

When the Hobbit movies came out, I was initially very happy with them, despite the changes made, and this was mostly because Weta had finally been able to turn their incredible talent towards Durins Folk, and the culture and style finally gave GW something to work with. The Warriors of Erebor kit, and the Grim Hammers, look awesome, and feel very true to the movie materiel (if not the books, where plate was unheard of, and everyone seemed to wear mail armor). The other two movies didn’t impress me though, and with the game dying out anyway, I didn’t invest in Dwarves at the time. Cue Forge World.

Forge World took over the Middle Earth SBG around a year after the Battle of Five Armies release, and they took the chance to bring out possibly my favorite depiction of dwarves in fiction, Lord Dain Ironfoots Iron Hills warriors. Now, that it a statement I make with some hesitation, as I am NOT a fan of Dwarven cavalry, especially not goats and boars! But the rank and file dwarf, armed with a broad shield and long spear, really captured my imagination. I was delighted when Forge World brought them out, but knew it would be a while before I got any.

I finally got my chance with this order, as with the free shipping over 150, I could really make a solid push to get what I need to play them properly!

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Absolutely crisp, with barely any clean-up. I still washed them, just for good measure.

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A couple bendy spears fixed with a tea-cup of boiling water, and presto, one shieldwall of angry dwarves!

I also got the command. You see very little of the captains in the movie, even in the extended cut, but Weta had done the groundwork, and Forge World took the next step. The banner is seen in the movie, however briefly, and looks fantastic on the model, and has detail embossed on it, which made me very happy! Gamling with his royal standard of Rohan remains unpainted to this day, simply because free-handing that banner is sheer madness!

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Amazing detail on both models!

All in all, I’m very happy with my new Dwarves, and while the plate armor is a definite no-no book-wise, I plan on fielding a force as true to the source material as possible. I’m making an exception for the spears, as they look fantastic, and the Ballista isn’t stretching the idea too much, but I will avoid using the Goat ram-riders, and Dain will be marching on foot! I’ll have placed a second order for another 12 warriors, Dain, and the variant 3-dwarf spear pack. As Dain can now lead 18 models, my captain can lead the rest, and I have a solid little force! I need one ballista to bring it to a competitive level, but that can wait. I have both the Battle of Five Armies and the Battle of Erebor during the war of the ring in mind for this force, and to that end I’ll be converting up an older version of Dain Ironfoot, with his famous red-axe!

Until next time, may Durin watch your back, and Du-Bekar!

Into the Mines!

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Not the best paint job, but they’ll do for a demo game!

So its been a while! I’ve found myself with more time off, and the Clubhouse is letting me run a demo game for the Middle Earth SBG! I’ve always found the easiest and most fun scenario to learn with is Balin’s Tomb, from the fellowship, as you get your heroes fighting impossible odds, and almost every basic rule gets covered! I’ve long had the Fellowship set, back from the Mines of Moria release, but the models are frankly not great, full of soft detail that is both difficult to highlight and shade easily. A much better painter can make the sculpts work, but I can’t do them as well, so I decided to just bang them out in a sitting, so I could carry on!

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“You have my sword!” I painted this years ago, and it shows. I just tidied it up and tried to make it look less terrible. I failed. But, I have many poses of Aragorn, so this will do in a pinch!

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“You have my bow!” A bit better here, I painted this today and it shows, its a lot cleaner and tidy. Still a terrible sculpt though, and I look forward to doing a better Legolas model.

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“And my Axe!” Not a bad job here, could be better but looks like a good Gimli to me!

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“If this is truly the will of the council, Gondor will see it done.” I love Boromir, and this is actually the best of the models in the set. Didn’t do it justice but I’m very happy with it.

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“I will help you bear this burden.” Not a terrible sculpt, but my hamfisted earlier painting left a lot to be desired. Like Aragorn, I just tidied him up a bit.

This leaves just the Hobbits, a difficult task but it will prepare me for the masses of goblins required for the scenario!

For those who are hoping for some 40k content, my Clubhouse is starting a Kill-Team Campaign, and I’ll be posting batreps from that. As well, my friends are coming up for a game, a 3000pt slugmatch, which I’ll be sure to take many pictures of!

Until next time, may the grace of the Valar protect you!

 

Theoden rides to war!

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“Ride for ruin, and the worlds ending!” I hope I even slightly did the sculpt justice.

I know I said I was going to work on Khamul, but I haven’t yet figured out a way to make the mask look convincing! And since the Theoden model was so tempting, I decided to get it out of the way to encourage me to keep up with my Rohan backlog.

I primed in grey, which made the layer of ulthuan grey go on fairly well, and it is a convincing white I think, and the rest of the paints went on easily. The armor proved to be a challenge. Most of my paints are Army Painter, and I lacked something darker then the barding, which I did in oak brown, but not being black. A mix of matte black and oak brown in a 1-2 ratio did the trick! On one hand it might be hard to replicate, but since Theoden wears such bespoke heirloom armor I figured it was worth it. The gold inlay took a fair bit of time with my shaky hands, but I painted late at night when my nerves are typically at their best!

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A terrible picture for showing off, but a cool pose that all the Morannon Orcs will see thundering at them!

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The detail on the shield was hard, but worth it.

I did the foot model at the same time; This is good because in the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game a model can either dismount or have the mount shot out from under them, and you need a model for both occasions! Luckily Snowmane( His horses name) will usually run away so I don’t need a third model for that, since Theoden is molded on and would be tricky.

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I actually really enjoyed painting the foot model, almost as much as painting the mounted version!

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I chose to use the helmeted head, to contrast with my old, helm-less model that I’ll use at Helms Deep.

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My suspicions that a wash would work really well on the sharp detail was correct, and made the scale mail really pop!

All in all, really happy with it. It is weird, once I stopped trying to compare my painting with everyone else’s and painted simply for the joy of it, it has stopped being a chore, and is now something I look forward to! If now I could conquer my hobby butterfly tendencies I might get something done. Sure, it won’t win any awards, but it looks good on the tabletop and in front of my Riders of Rohan will look sharp!

Until next time, Forth Eorlingas my fellow hobbits!

 

A Sword Day! A Red Day! Ere the sun Rises!

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DEAAAAAATHHHH! I will not apologize for my excitement!

Today was a good day. Theoden’s riders rode through the night to my local gaming store,(although, local for me in my rural area means an hour and a bit, roughly!) The Giddy Goblin in Hanover, Ontario, and delivered the Pelennor Fields box-set! Unfortunately, in a situation happening globally, demand has outstripped supply, and while most GW locations have received their Armies of the Lord of the Rings rule-books, the Goblin, as a local retailer, didn’t get theirs on time. But, that barely dampened my enthusiasm, as seeing Lord of the Rings kits on shelves again was a day I never thought I’d see! I did buy a box of Haradrim Raiders on a whim, as I didn’t have any.

Most of the box has been seen before, and if your anything like me, has been thoroughly spoiled on Youtube anyway. But like everyone else, the detail on the Theoden miniature floored me. The pictures, painting in the typical GW style, don’t do it justice, and make it a bit too “bright”, if you know what I mean. This isn’t a slight on them at all, after all I paint like an Ork on seventy-five cups of coffee. But the realistic scale of the model takes to a more subtle approach.

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A bit too stark, if you ask me!

In the flesh however, it looks amazing, and feels true to WETA’s original vision.

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A really dynamic and action filled pose!

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The detail on the barding and shield is crisp, and should take well to a wash!

Even the foot model looks amazing!

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Don’t have Theoden with a helmet and a shield, so this is a nice addition.

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They even put the double-fuller on the sword! Never seen that on the metal models I think!

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The shield is, again, gorgeous.

I’m really happy with it, and its a great return to Middle Earth, after almost 10 years without a release(barring the hobbit stuff). Once my rules arrive I’m going to play a few games, see how the game it-self has held up. The rest of the contents are things everyone has seen before, and since I already had a Witch King on Fell-Beast, I’m going to try my hand at converting my new kit into Khamul the Easterling, one of the named Nazgul. I’ll post as soon as I make progress on that front. I do need to pick up a can or two of primer to basecoat my models, so painting will take a bit to get started.

And, as I need a Lord of the Rings based send-off, Forth Eorlingas!

 

Medic! And a sneak peek at next months big project!

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40k Battlefield Medicine; Or, how getting killed in one go is probably better then getting that in your arm!

Another day, another Vostroyan done. This medic is for my command squad, and while the medics aren’t terribly useful he looks fantastic, and thus has a place in my army. He is younger then most of the other veterans in the command team, and his mustache has yet to grey with age. I might revisit him in the future, add a few more details, but when one has 80+ Guardsmen to finish, that’s a problem for later. I’m finding the vostroyans actually fairly easy to paint, as the amount of sharp detail in the cast takes really well to shades.

The plan is once I get to the Infantry Squads is to do them in batches of 5, that way it should only take 2 days per squad. I’ve never batch painted before starting on my kill team, so I’m fairly new to it as a concept, but after getting the Catachans fully painted and played them, it felt GOOD. Playing with a painted squad was awesome, and now imagining a whole army has really been a shot in the arm motivation wise.

But, the Vostroyans are by no means the only project I’m working on. The Vostroyans have been my focus for the past half-year…the big project has been something I’ve been working toward since I was 12!

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This scene still gives me goosebumps.

40k was not my gateway drug into war-gaming. That honor lies with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game! As a young boy watching these movies was life-changing, and the game was actually surprisingly popular with kids my age in my hometown. A trip to a Games Workshop got me the Warriors of the Last Alliance box( my confusion as to why there was all these “Space Marines” and “Empire State Troops” all over was hilarious in hindsight), but honestly I had no idea what I was doing until my folks got me the Return of the King starter box.

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Many a good time was had in this box of wonders!

To my 12 year old self, being able to fight the battles of Osgilliath and Minas Tirith was an experience I’ll never really forget, despite getting half the rules wrong. Many a battle was fought on the living room floor, and many an Orc was badly painted. I even got a box set, I forget its name, but it had a massive amount of Good forces, and it felt to me like my own little mustering of the Free Peoples.

It was the beginning of a journey that still continues to this day, despite my focus shifting away from it as popularity of the game ebbed and finding people who played it became harder and harder. 40k took hold after it became apparent that people had forgotten all about the good ole LOTR SBG. Soon, Guardsmen replaced Warriors of Minas Tirith, and that which should not have been forgotten…was lost.

I made one very good decision during this dark time, when it seemed GW had forgotten us. I kept everything. 40k Armies came and went, but my little(but growing!) stash of Lord of the Rings models lay just out of sight, occasionally coming out for a quick jaunt in Balins Tomb, but the big battles of yesteryear were a distant memory. As more models disappeared from the webstore, my trips to ebay to find recruits for what I thought was a dying game was a weekly habit.

But, unknown to me, there were some that resisted. Things like the Great British Hobbit League kept the torch alive. Eventually, I found out that I was not alone! And with the Hobbit on the horizon, everything looked great!

Then came bitterness. It started well, new plastic kits! A good starter box! But, it came at a cost; Finecast. Casts that were amazing in metal became flash ridden, horribly fragile miniatures. Swords that once could be bent simply snapped off. All at a massive mark-up in price. It helped that the movies weren’t as good, and I felt less need to keep up.

I, along with many other people awaited the inevitable. A long wait, with an answer we already knew. The game was dead.

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But like the quest of the Ring, from such dark times did hope arise! Forge World, Games Workshop boutique line took up the torch, and while the Lord of the Rings left shelves, new miniatures were coming out again. But, it was still only for the Hobbit, and I could feel little excitement for it.

Then, something happened that this blogger did not expect; Games Workshop announced that the The Hobbit Strategy Battle Game was to be rebranded as The Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game! Battle Companies, a mini-game from the past akin to Kill-Team, re-emerged. Hope was kindled.

And yet, no-one expected what was announced next, least of all me.

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Middle Earth is back, baby. New plastic heroes, rereleasing old OOP(out of production) models, and the hated repack of 24 man troop boxes into 12 is being undone. I haven’t felt excitement like this since watching Return of the King for the first time. And, my childhood dream of fighting the Battle of the Pelennor Fields comes ever closer to being a reality. I’m ready, my full strength gathered. Men of Rohan, of Gondor, waiting patiently for the paint brush. Hordes of Orcs and Uruks in their serried ranks await the same.

At around the same time this was announced, I decided that if I was going to do this, it would be a movie style refight, as opposed to the book. And for that, I needed the Army of the Dead. Ebay saved the day here.

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“The way is shut. It was made by those who were dead. And the dead keep it.” (Also, whoever painted this army, daaaaaaang did they do a good job. No bath of Simple Green for these boys.)

The cost was insignificant; people sell the banner alone for outrageous amounts of money on eBay. and with more Army of the Dead then I’ll ever possibly need, all that remains is the noble Rohirrim, the beleaguered garrison of Minas Tirith and the vile Orcs and their allies. Of course, it won’t be a full scale refight, even my collection pales in comparison to what would be required to do it justice. But even a small part of the battle would be the culmination of a life’s dream.

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“Is it time? Time at last?” Yes, my lads, it is.

So, in closing, don’t worry there will be still loads and loads of 40k content; My friend is working a pace at his Tank Company and he has given me permission to share it with the internet. My Vostroyans will be worked on at a steady rate as well. This just means they’ll have to share with Gondorians, Men of Rohan, and Orcs. Many, many orcs.

Instead of my usual sign off, I leave you with this

“Theres some good in this world Mr.Frodo, and its worth painting for”-Samwise Gamgee