Tuesday, 31 December 2013

A Ship Fit For A God - Skíðblaðnir

Hey All,

Today we have the latest instalment of my personal Norse saga - Freyr's magical Long-Ship Skíðblaðnir.

"Skíðblaðnir (Old Norse 'assembled from thin pieces of wood'), sometimes anglicized as Skidbladnir or Skithblathnir, is the best of ships in Norse mythology. It is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and in the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. All sources note that the ship is the finest of ships, and the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda attest that it is owned by the god Freyr. Both Heimskringla and the Prose Edda attribute to it the ability to be folded up—as cloth may be—into one's pocket when not needed."
[The text above is an edited extract from this Wikipedia entry.]

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The first thing that I must say about this model is that it is completely unnecessary - I could have simply represented Freyr owning a magical ship by giving him the 'Amphibious' trait in 'Of Gods and Mortals', allowing him to move over water unhindered.

However, of all the strange and wonderful creatures and creations in Norse mythology, the idea of a ship that could be folded away into the owners pocket was something that I just fell in love with, and very quickly knew that I had to do a model of.

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I think this pic' shows it best. Can't you just see how it 'folds up'?

After looking around on-line at various historically accurate Viking Long-Boat models in 1/300th and 1/600th scale, I stumbled onto the Spartan Games website and fell in love their Uncharted Seas "Thaniras Elves Phoenix Class Battleship". With its groovy diagonal hull planks I immediately 'saw' in my minds eye exactly how this ship folded up into a pocket sized parcel, and knew that I must have one!

When I got the model I was rather surprised by the size of it - its freaking huge! - being about 5" from end to end. The model came in three pieces, a one-part resin hull and two metal sails. All were nice clean castings with only a few small mould lines in the usual places. 

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I hope this shot shows the size of the thing.

I know that the ship does not really look anything like a Norse / Viking long-ship - but then again its supposed to be Magic and made by Magical Dwarven Smiths. I was careful to choose a 'traditional' (rather than 'fantastical') colour palate when painting the model to try and draw it back towards the realms of mythology, rather than high-fantasy. I think that this has worked out rather well, but I have yet to show the completed model to any of my, rather sceptical, wargaming buddies...

And on the point of the clearly different scale of the model.....oGaM is a game of colossal abstraction - with a handful of figures representing the greatest armies of myth and legend, and gods portrayed in the way that they are. With this in mind, I think I can get away with an out of scale magic boat.

Next up in the painting cue, some War-Trolls.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

My God - Freyr

Hey Internet, 

I've very much been looking forward to putting this model up online - my god for 'Of Gods and Mortals' - Freyr.

Some WIP pictures of this model can be found HERE.

The model itself is a converted 'Jason' from Spartan Game's short lived 40mm scale Greek Mythological skirmish game. I absolutely love this model - and that not a thing I say often. Perhaps it is because I've never worked on a 40mm scale model before, but I was awed my the level of detail and character that the model possessed - particularly the intense, piercing stare of the eyes.

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"Freyr (sometimes anglicized Frey, from *frawjaz "lord") is one of the most important gods of Norse paganism. Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, Freyr "bestows peace and pleasure on mortals". Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden and seen as an ancestor of the Swedish royal house.

In the Icelandic books the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr is presented as one of the Vanir, the son of the sea god Njörðr, brother of the goddess Freyja. The gods gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present. He rides the shining dwarf-made boar Gullinbursti and possesses the ship Skíðblaðnir which always has a favorable breeze and can be folded together and carried in a pouch when it is not being used.

The most extensive surviving Freyr myth relates Freyr's falling in love with the female jötunn Gerðr. Eventually, she becomes his wife but first Freyr has to give away his magic sword which fights on its own "if wise be he who wields it". Although deprived of this weapon, Freyr defeats the jötunn Beli with an antler. However, lacking his sword, Freyr will be killed by the fire jötunn Surtr during the events of Ragnarök."

[The text above is an edited extract from this Wikipedia entry.]

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Although I was initially daunted by the prospect of painting the centrepiece of my force without ever having painted a model of this scale before, I found the process to not only be incredibly enjoyable, but incredibly simple too. I didn't 'read-up' on painting 40mm figures before tacking him, so just painted it as if it were a 28mm model, using the same colours and techniques. As it turns out, it is exactly the same - you simply have far more space with which to blend colours on flat surfaces, and any fiddly details are much, much larger, making them also far easier to paint.

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The final thing worth mentioning are the glowing eyes. I probably spent half of my total painting time for this model researching how to paint glowing 'directional lighting' effects on-line, and 'um-ing' and 'ah-ing' over whether to give it a go or not. On the one hand, I was very fearful that I would screw-up my otherwise completed model if I hacked blindly at the eyes with a paintbrush, while on the other I thought a glowing eye effect, whilst far more Greek than Norse, would set Freyr apart from his mortal comrades-in-arms. In the end I just went for it, and I think it looks really quite all-right. I think I did good.

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A little out of focus, but I think it shows the eyes pretty well.

My next step towards completing my Norse project will be painting up Freyr's alternate form on the table-top, Skíðblaðnir, his dwarven forged, magical long-ship. 

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Two Armoured Huscarls (Black Tree Design)

Hey all,

I've got two models to show today, a pair of Norman nobles by Black Tree Designs, that I have recently stripped and intend to press into service as part of a unit of armoured Norsemen.

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I originally purchased these models to be part of a Ango-Danish Huscarl force that never really took off. They'd been sat in a box for almost a decade, their terrible original paint-jobs slowly slowly chipping away over time. A day in some break fluid and a scrub with an old tooth brush soon saw the last of the paint off, and I think they're looking far better now.

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The models themselves are rather nice, being both detailed without being 'fussy', and were well cast. The pose of the guy with the axe is fantastic, even if he does have weird hair.

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They are both a little too well armoured to be 'accurate' Norse warriors, but to be honest I really don't care. I'm going to get a few more armoured Norse/Viking types from Gripping Beast to complete the unit, and I'm quite sure that no one will notice that they have slightly too much armour on for the period.

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What do you think? Did I do good?

Next in line - painted pictures of my chosen god, Freyr.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Freyr - Work in Progress

Hey Everyone,

Another update on my Norse project. This time it is my first God miniature - Freyr.

Edit: Completed pictures of this model can be found HERE.

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The model that I am using to represent Freyr on the table top is a 40mm scale Jason (of Argonoughts fame) produced by Spartan Games. I was lucky enough to buy a bunch of these minis from my old local gaming store while they were still in production. Huge monsters excluded, their Jason model is my runaway favourite. With his neat beard, ornate armour and chiselled features I thought he made a fine candidate for a miniature deity.

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I left the model mostly 'as is', the only conversions being the two weapon swaps. I drilled though the left hand and added a spear ('borrowed' from one of the skeleton models) and replaced the sword with an antler taken from a GW Bretonnian Helmet. 

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I was a little worried that a 40mm miniature would be a little on the small side compared the 'official' God miniatures, but I think that he sizes up well next to his 28mm worshippers. Norse Gods are depicted as being far less detached from the common man compared to their Egyptian and Greek opposites, so I'm quite happy with how he is only a head taller. 

Here's a scale comparison:-

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Friday, 20 December 2013

A Jarl - Mithril Miniatures Human Warrior

Hey All,

More pictures charting the progress of my Norse Warhost for 'Of Gods and Mortals'.

Today, we have another painted Jarl. I think it is a Mithril Miniatures Human Warrior of some kind.

Interestingly, this figure is the first wargaming figure that I ever owned. It was given to me by the lad who used to sit next to me in O-Level Maths, back when I was still at school.

As far as I can remember, this is the fourth paint-job that this figure has had. I painted it in the usual way and had a fun time doing so.

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Thursday, 19 December 2013

2 Dwarfs - Mithril Miniatures Dwarf Characters

Hey Internet People,

More progress on the Norse front - my first two Dwarfs.

Both are by Mithril Miniatures, although I'm not sure which characters they depict.

They are lovely sculpts and sit nicely next to my Games Workshop and Hasslefree Miniatures Dwarfs.

So, without further adieu, the pictures:

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

2 Jarls - Mithril Miniatures Aragorn and Boromir

Hey all.

I've made a little more progress with my Norse Warhost for 'Of Gods and Mortals'. I've taken a few snaps and popped them up on here for you lot to ogle.

Both are old Lord of the Rings figures made by Mithril Miniatures. Mithril figures have very, very soft surface detail, making them rather challenging and time consuming to paint. In particular I had trouble with the belts and faces. Both are more 'suggested' on the model than 'sculpted on'.

Mithril Miniatures Aragorn

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Mithril Miniatures Boromir

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As you can see, I couldn't get Boromir's face to work. The thing is basically a flat surface with only the vaguest contours of the facial features sculpted on. No matter how much time I spent on him I was never going to get a convincing looking right eye - so I just covered it up with a big knarly scar. 

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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Gullinbursti, the Brazen Boar

Hey Internet,

My camera took a spin in the washing machine last week so I've not been able to update with any new pictures. Rather amazingly, its now dried out - and it works!

I've been continuing with my 'Of Gods and Mortals' force since I last posted, and have something to show for it.

So, I present to you, Gullinbursti, Freyr's Brazen Boar. 

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"Gullinbursti (meaning "Gold Mane or Golden Bristles") is a boar in Norse mythology.

When Loki had Sif's hair, Freyr's ship Skíðblaðnir and Odin's spear Gungnir fashioned by the Sons of Ivaldi, he bet his own head with Brokkr that his brother Eitri (Sindri) wouldn't have been able to make items to match the quality of those mentioned above.

So to make gifts to Freyr, Eitri threw a pig's skin into a furnace as Brokkr worked on the bellows, and together they manufactured the boar Gullinbursti which had bristles in its mane that glowed in the dark.

The story of Gullinbursti's creation is related in the Skáldskaparmál section of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda;

"Sindri laid a pigskin in the hearth and bade Brokkr blow, and did not cease work until he took out of the hearth that which he had laid therein. But when he went out of the smithy, while the other dwarf was blowing, straightway a fly settled upon his hand and stung: yet he blew on as before, until the smith took the work out of the hearth; and it was a boar, with mane and bristles of gold. ... Then Brokkr brought forward his gifts: ... to Freyr he gave the boar, saying that it could run through air and water better than any horse, and it could never become so dark with night or gloom of the Murky Regions that there should not be sufficient light where he went, such was the glow from its mane and bristles." - Translation  by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur

According to Húsdrápa, Freyr rode Gullinbursti to Baldr's funeral, while in Gylfaginning, Snorri states that Freyr rode to the funeral in a chariot pulled by the boar.

The boar is also known as Slíðrugtanni (sometimes Anglicized to "Slidrugtanni")."

[The text above is an edited extract from this Wikipedia entry.]

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The model itself is a Reaper Miniatures 'Dire Boar' that I picked up on Ebay. Its about 55mm long and 40mm tall, and I have based it on a 40mm washer.

After a good deal of pre-meditation I decided to paint it with a mixture of metallic and non-metallic paints and various inks. 

I went from a base coat of a dark brown colour, and highlighted up using targeted dry-brushing, adding a pale gold paint to my browns for the highlights. At various stages in the highlighting process I jumped in with red, green, sepia and purple ink washes to try and create a deep lustre within the metallic fur.

I've never painted something in this way before, but I'm really happy with the result. The highly experimental nature of the painting made it very enjoyable. I'd love to have a bash at some more Norse automatons in the future.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Shameless Plug - SALES

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Hey Everyone,

For all you people out there on the internet who don't know me personalty, I've been stuck at home being unwell for some months now.

Ever the optimist, I've found an upside to this - I've been using the extra time to myself to sort though all of my stuff and put some of it up for sale. 

So, yeah, buy my stuff if you feel like it!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Of Gods and Mortals: Butterfly Mind

Hey Internet,

So...yeah....I only need to finish off a handfull of models to have my 15mm Polish Resistance project done and dusted. But, as ever, my Butterfly Mind has fluttered off onto other shiny things.

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A friend at my local Wargames Group introduced me to the game and it has got my enthusiasm going, so I've decided to put the Poles on the backburner for a bit and give myself temporarily to the worship of the pantheon of Norse Deities.

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Digging though my bits box I found a model to splash some colour on - a Mithril Miniatures Dwarf. I painted him up last night, and thought I may as well pop it up on here while I was at it.

This little fellow also has the dubious honour of being the first Fantasy genre miniature that I have painted in recent times - the only other fantasy project that I've ever entered into was many, many years ago when I was a 'wee nipper, and involved some lead Orcs and airfix paint.

Hope you like him.


Monday, 2 December 2013

Model Review: QRF Beaverette, FAI-M & Overvalwagen

Hey Internet,

This-morning the postman brought be a parcel containing a number of vehicle models from Quick Reaction Force (QRF) . I've not put anything up on my blog for a while, so I thought I'd do a quick review of the models that I ordered.

Once I've got these models done I'll pop up some finished pictures and retro-actively add some links here (unless I forget to).

'NPC 01 Overvalwagen'

As far as I know, this model has only just been release by QRF, and is the only 15mm model of this obscure Dutch Armoured Personnel Carrier on the market. I don't know much about the Overvalwagon in real life, but the model looks the part compared to the photos, but might be a bit on the big side.

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In my experience, QRF models are very 'hit and miss' in their quality, but Id definitely say this one is a hit. The master that his model has been cast from appears to have been well made, doing well to capture the strange angular appearance of the vehicle. On the other hand, the casting is a little iffy. Nothing terrible, but the hull has some big, nasty mold lines that are going to be a bugger to remove and some of the finer parts and details have failed to cast properly.

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In time I hope to add this model to my Polish Resistance Flames of War force as a stand-in model for the famous 'Kubus' improvised armoured vehicle. Although produced in greater quantities the Overvalwagen was also an improvised vehicle - little more than an armoured lorry. I don't think that it will take much suspension of disbelief to think that the Polish resistance could have thrown together a similar looking machine in their own struggle against the Nazis and Soviets.

'BAc08 Humber Beaverette'

I also ordered two more vehicles to add to my Polish motorpool, or rather replace my existing armoured cars. The first of these is this, a Beaverette. For those of you who don't have a geeky knowledge of Britain's preparations for invasion in the Second World War, the 'Beverette' was a mass produced series of armoured cars, built on civilian motorcar chassis.

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The QRF model is rather neat - another 'hit'. The details and casting are fine, but suffer from the same mold line and detail loss problems as the Overvalwagen. Interestingly, the four wheels come cast together as a single peice, making puting the model together a simple task.

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I have a certain fondness for improvised armoured vehicles, so rather than having a captured German armoured car I thought it would be nice to have somthing a little more home-made.


The final model in this haul is a Russian FAI Armoured Car. The FAI was one of many Russian types of armoured car fielded against the Nazis during Operation Barborossa, and, like many other peices of Russian equipment, large numbers of them were captured by the advancing Axis forces.

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Another hit! QRF's FAI is a really nice little model. This example came cast better than the models I received with it, with crisper details and no really-nasty-detail-obscuring-mold-lines. In fact, I would go as far as to say its one of the best specimens that I have ever got from QRF. The wheels come attached to the hull (and are not crossed by the mold line!), and despite looking fiddly the front bumper fits really well and will go on without any trouble. The only criticism I can make is that the barrel of the machine gun is incredibly thin and will need replacing for the model to be usable.

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Unlike the other two vehicles, the Polish resistance did actually capture an FAI during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, although not much information on its use appears to have survived. I think the FAI is a paticularly good looking machine, perhaps second only to the Rolls Royce Armoured Car in the looks department - and it is for this reason that I chose to include one over a second Improvised armoured car.