Monday, 9 May 2011

No school like the old school

I have found over the years that I have an unfortunate tendency to decide I want to collect something after it has ceased to be readily available. This habit tends to be frustrating and expensive, but there is little I can do about it. If I like the old stuff better than the new stuff, why would I be satisfied painting the wrong thing?

The perfect example of this is my Dwarfs. It was only when they model range changed and the older figures started to disappear that I decided to act on my long-held desire to collect them. I think in this case the two things were not entirely unrelated. I had always admired the character of the old Marauder Dwarfs, and when I realised that my window of opportunity to have some of my own was closing, I decided to act. I bought a fair pile of classic models on EBay as they appeared, grabbing what bargains I could. In truth, I may have gotten in early enough with these guys, as I didn’t have to pay the sorts of prices the models fetch nowadays.

I must confess there has to be an element of sentimentality associated with my habit of wanting old figures. It can’t be purely aesthetic. After all, GW are not consistently producing inferior models to what they did in the past. I do prefer some of the older ranges of models (Dwarfs in particular, and to a lesser extent, the old metal Empire), but the vast majority of things are steadily improving. I just seem to keep sniffing out the older models that capture my imagination.

Maybe I have spent too long looking at old White Dwarf magazines with battle reports featuring the Perry twins’ classic Empire army. I have managed to resist the temptation to go around trying to buy up an entire army of models like this, but I do admit that I like the old models.

Like most people, when I am buying armies, I will gather together enough models for a regiment of a particular type (be it Dwarf Hammerers or High Elf Spearmen), then stop adding to the unit. I had sensibly collected units of around 25 of each of the things I wanted to use, figuring that it constituted a large, solid block of troops. With the exception of things like Goblins and Skaven Slaves, that was about as large a unit as you generally saw. I thought I was all set.

The arrival of 8th edition has really thrown a cat amongst the pigeons in regard to unit sizes. Units of 40 or 50 models have become quite viable, whether they be fielded deep for Steadfast or wide for the Horde rules. My armies were largely unprepared for this shift.

I realise a lot of people have gotten stuck into GW regarding this shift, and the inevitable flow-on effect of needing to buy more models. I can see where they are coming from, even if I do like the new edition of the game and the epic feel to the regiments people are fielding at the moment.

However, when you have constructed your army around models that are no longer in production and difficult to obtain, the sudden need for larger units is a real problem. I refuse to pay a king’s ransom for rare models online, so unless I get remarkably lucky and find the models cheap somewhere (this would be quite a stretch), I need a new plan.

Part of my new plan involves unit fillers. I am not talking a large rock or tree in the middle of the unit, as I generally don’t subscribe to that sort of thing. However, I have already started to create some more mobile fillers for my Empire army (refer to my earlier post for pictures). Things like soldiers (and in this case animals) doing something different to help pad the unit out, as well as breaking it up a bit (50 models all ranked up can look rather uninspiring if they’re all much the same). I plan to do things with supply carts and maybe even small dioramas.

Unit fillers alone will not suffice, however. I need more of the models that make up these units. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that I need to make some. What follows is a rough account of how I'm going thus far...

(Snow) Leopard Company

My efforts on these guys are already done. Unfortunately, being my first attempt, they have been something of a learning experience.

The original metal model on the right, with my effort on the left.
Another example, again is it my version on the left. I decided to give the guy a holstered short sword (normal sword which lost a fight with my hobby knife), so he wouldn't just be standing there with his left fist doing nothing.
These are the components I used. Both arms are from Empire Knights, as are the head and torso. I used Empire Militia legs, brass rod for the pike, with a spear tip stolen from a proper Empire Spearman (he will probably get to be a Halberdier now anyway, which is probably a step up in the world). I used this same head for all the Leopard Company conversions because it was the closest match to the real thing, once I removed the plume. I also used a couple of different right arms, but the banner arm has the best pose for holding the pike one-handed. In all cases, the shoulder plates had to be trimmed a fair bit, as they are too heavy to tie in with the other models.

Problems of scale

I was actually pretty pleased with how my home-made Leopard Company models came out. It was only once they were finished that I realised how gigantic the plastic knight and militia model components are compared to the 10-year-old metal Dogs of War models GW used to make. My old metal guys look rather diminuitive compared to the hulking newcomers.

Unfortunately this doesn't appear to be an easy thing to fix. I plan to persist with my plans, but I am going to have to cheat the height of the models a bit to stop them standing out too much. One option is to try to grind the bottom of the torso and top of the legs down a bit. I might try a bit of this, but there are limits to what I can do there. My other options are to either base them on MDF that is slightly lower than the plastic bases (which might get me another millimetre or so), or to deliberately base the models on rocks etc, and make them intentionally uneven. I'm not yet sure which course I will take.

Teutogen Guard

I actually effectively did a prototype conversion of a Teutogen Guard a while ago, whilst I was making my unit filler. However, I still need to make 5 more models to complete the unit at a nice round 40. Unlike the Leopard Company, this conversion requires greenstuff. Something I remain slightly scared of. I will talk about that another time.

Components I use for making Teutogen Guard. Everything here has come from an Empire Knight box set, except for the head, which belongs to a Flagellant. The Marauder Horsemen box also has some pretty good heads for this sort of thing. The knight legs invariably need to be cut apart so they're not straddling a horse. You can simply take a chunk out and straighten them up, or be more adventurous and make them walking. Greenstuff may be required. The arms made for the White Wolf hammers are not really armoured enough to fit in with Teutogen Guard, so I use normal Knight arms from the wrists up. I also find it necessary to trim down the should plates a little.
The arm conversion, further advanced
And here we have a nearly complete example. What remains then requires greenstuff, unfortunately. They need a loincloth and a cloak. You could use one of the White Wolf cloaks, but I think you're better off making one yourself for a more flowing, wrap-around-the-figure result
And here we have my one completed example, from my unit filler. I went for a different sort of pose with this guy, given he is sort of a centerpiece. You can't tell here, but he has the same height issues as the Leopard Company - he is too tall. As I say though, if I base them differently I might get away with it...

Republican Guard

I have not yet started work on these guys, as I am not quite ready to paint them. The current plan is to convert the entire regiment into Halberdiers, so there is work to be done anyway. The basic plan is there - the main thing holding me back is my unit filler.

So, this is what I'm aiming for. I figure the process will be similar to the Leopard Company, although the legs will be Knight legs as per the Teutogen Guard.
And here are the heads I am eyeing off for the job, again from the Empire Knights. It will take a fair bit of savaging to get the Knight Panther stuff off the top - may need some greenstuff to smooth it once I'm done. I have already tried to use these heads for some of my generic household Knight models (used to bolster Voland's Venators).

1 comment:

  1. Like the leopard company lots! Looking forward to see how you will get the guard to match.