Troll, toads and a host of ghosts

It’s the end of the month of Marsh, the season of mists, when the Oldhammer forum turn their collective attention to the Fimir and other bog-dwelling fiends.  I painted my only Fimir back in 2016, and I spent most of the last month working, studying, and finishing painting the Fellowship of the Ring.  But I did make a little progress on some of my most swampy minis:  a troll, some fantasy frog-men, and a few undead.

A few months ago my DM used a couple of D&D bullywugs in a random encounter.  Citadel’s slann sell at about the same price per kilogram as highly polished diamonds, so I bought a couple of packs of frog-men from Otherworld and Reaper.  I tried to choose minis that would have some kind of cohesive identity.  Not necessarily the same Mayincatec design that Games Workshop have always used for their amphibians and lizards, but ideally some sort of visible cultural markers.  Otherworld sell two packs of frog-men; one looked a bit too generic-fantasy for what I wanted, but theirlesser boglings II fit the bill quite nicely.  Reaper’s squogs wear similar shell armour, and I’ve wanted to try painting their ‘bones’ material.  I picked up two squog warriors for a song, and a Reaper Dark heaven Legends ‘Mudcroak‘ shaman.  I went for the metal shaman because it seemed like the ‘bones’ version had some different details.

By mid-March I’d finished one, base-coated and washed three more, and undercoated the others.  I know ‘bones’ doesn’t need a technical undercoat, but I like to work up from a solid base colour.  I set them in generic round 25 and 30mm bases to match the lesser boglings.  This was really easy – I just cut away the surface of the base to leave a flimsy plastic ring, placed that on the sticky side of some wide masking tape, quarter-filled the crater with Araldite, plonked the mini into the middle and then added/removed Araldite as needed to get edge-to-edge filling without covering the feet.  I’ll pour water effects in later to get a flat surface.

I’d also started assembling some undead (the doppelganger and a ghost from Citadel’s Night Horrors and a modern Games Workshop spirit host) and finally assembled and undercoated a Russian Alternative troll of chaos (not pictured).  The Citadel ghost’s face was quite badly damaged, so I filed most of it away and rebuilt it with green stuff.  I haven’t done this before, it didn’t go brilliantly.

By the end of the month I’d painted all three of the undead.  Even though it was a bit of a nightmare to assemble I actually really like the new spirit host!  It’s got an ethereal, incorporeal feel to it that I don’t think was possible with the old lead sculpts.   I’m generally quite poor with all forms of glue, and this one just would not hold together for me.  I also had a lot of trouble painting the flat edges of the tomb, so I guess I need to practice, on some vehicles or siege equipment or similar.  Other than that I used a really simple, quick approach to painting the host, just a couple of layers (working up from white), washed in green and dry-brushed highlights.  I spent some more time on the large (50mm) base.  The older ghost went OK, but needed more manual, slower highlighting to bring out the ethereal effect.  I also did a little damage repair on a 90s banshee, which I tried to paint in this same style a couple of decades ago and failed.  Unfortunately you can really see where I’ve covered over the damage, but it will do for now.

I’m really happy with the results on the doppelganger.  It was really quick to paint and the exposed muscle effect looks exactly as I’d intended.  The Night Horrors range is one of my all-time favourites, but unfortunately I’m not alone in that assessment and I’ve the old blisters listed at £70.00 on eBay.

I’ve made some decent headway with the frogs, although I had really hoped to complete them this month.  Two are finished, bar some last minute tweaks and base details.  I’m varnishing them with Vallejo water effects to get a super-wet gloss look, and keeping grass and tufts to a minimum for that swampy terrain.  The remaining Otherworld bogling – the tallest – kept falling down and has sustained some chips, so I’ve filled the base with lead shot and bent his ankles a little to realign his centre of gravity.  As before, I’ve really enjoyed the Otherworld miniatures and it’s fast become one of my favourite manufacturers.

By contrast the two Reaper Bones II frogmen have been a bit of a slog.  I’m not really enjoying working on the flexible material, which seems to lack crisp details, was weirdly difficult to clean mold lines from, and hasn’t shown good results from my usual painting techniques.  I’ve avoided the infamous tackiness from sprayed undercoat, and the paint isn’t beading up.  It’s just not quite working out.  Since they were so cheap I came pretty close to chucking them and starting again on metal, but I’m going to persevere.  I’ve seen great results from better painters, Orcs’ Nest sell them (and they’re located near my office), and really, what’s this painting about if not learning through trial, error, and the occasional YouTube tutorial?

The third Reaper mini, cast in metal, has been really fun to paint.   I’ve opted for a colour scheme inspired by the purple frog, because I really like the idea of this humble, ugly-looking amphibian having awesome mystical powers.

Last of all, I laid down the base colours on the first of three Russian Alternative ‘Trolls of Chaos’.  There’s a huge diversity of design among troll minis.  These probably depict them closest to how I imagine them – feral and massive and oddly proportioned, at once earthy and mammalian and reptilian.  It’s quite a large mini, so I’m going to practice my blending on the big expanse of troll-flesh (which can of course be any colours I want).  I started work on assembling the second troll last night, but this afternoon I accidentally snapped one of the ankles while drilling it (ironically, to add a supportive pin to the weak ankle).  I’ve done a hasty repair job and I’ll probably brace it with a mushroom or something.  The third ‘Troll of Chaos’ remains in the box – I have enough to work on for now!

So ends the month of Marsh; April brings new challenges – but hopefully I’ll finish the frogs.

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