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By Jordan Peacock
So, in my Iron Kingdoms RPG campaign, I needed a Soul Stalker -- a wormy, tentacled extra-dimensional monster that intrudes into the mortal world for the sole purpose of chasing down someone who reneges upon a deal with the otherworldly creatures known as the Infernals. Artwork from the newer Monsternomicon made it look more centipede-like, but old Iron Kingdoms d20 Monsternomicon illustrations of lesser infernals sets a trend wherein they tend to look almost embryotic, more soft-edged and squishy.
I had this fellow from the latest Bones 3 Kickstarter (Graveyard Expansion) -- 77541 Carrion Worm. I also had a few tentacles from 02664 Phase Cat, because once upon a time I needed some wild cats of the leopard variety, but couldn't actually find some ... so the next best thing was to pick up some Reaper Phase Cats, leave off the tentacles, and fill the gaps on their backs with some putty. I kept those tentacles around because you JUST NEVER KNOW when you'll need those for something, eh? And basically I just drilled a couple of holes (a little larger than I usually do for my pinning holes for wire) so I could insert the ends of the pewter tentacle pieces. Voila! Extra-dimensional horror!
The scenery, by the way, is a combination of some Secret Weapon Tablescapes "Forgotten City" tiles (which I finally got to try out for the first time this weekend), and some kludged-together bits of scenery made from pink foam board.
By Jordan Peacock
Inspired in part by the Great Frogmeister's silly photos of Kaladrax getting into bags of snacks, doing battle against action figures, and tearing up rolls of toilet paper, I thought I'd finally get around to tackling my own Kaladrax from the Bones Kickstarter.
Here is a very rough, un-glued assembly of the parts I have. All I've done so far is to cover all the pieces with Americana "Parchment" acrylic (a sort of yellowish-beige-white), then to apply a wash with a big jug of brown paint that has gone "soupy." (This happens to a lot of my acrylic paints: it turns watery, and my attempts to stir it up just result in a bubbly mess. It's not like there's a bunch of thicker sedative at the bottom; I have no idea how that transformation happens, but it's the peril of having too many cheap acrylic paints, I guess, and letting them sit around for too long. Fortunately, with the darker paints, they still work just fine as messy washes for "grunging up" terrain and such. Or, in this case, giant skeletal dragons.) There's a little bit of lime green in there, in the area between the ribs, but that was an early mess when I was still trying to sort out my "battle plan." That whole area will have to be repainted, especially after I applied the brown wash to muddle things up.
Now, in a perfect world, I'd be able to pose the dragon a little more like this:
Why? Because I'm running an Iron Kingdoms campaign on the high seas, and I thought I might find use for this model -- at last! -- as a great Cryx monstrosity. In Iron Kingdoms, the Cryx are one of the overt "bad guy" factions, consisting of a bunch of undead-steampunk lich lords lurking on the Scharde Islands just off the coast, with lots of pirate minions who raid the mainland for "fresh recruits." Their forces are characterized by lots of undead thingies with bolted-on armor and parts randomly replaced with mechanisms, plus mysterious "engines" that involve a lot of glowing green undead energy. So, painting schemes tend toward bone white, gunmetal/gray, burnished bronze, and glowing green.
I would like to pose Kaladrax in a more "rearing-up" position, so as to maybe fit within a base with a somewhat smaller footprint ... but then, the more it is rearing up and vertical, the greater the danger that it's going to wibble-wobble all the time and the wings will simply fall off or worse. (If I can manage, I plan to NOT glue in the wings, because I'd like to be able to remove them for easier transportation and storage. If they make a habit of popping off on a regular basis, however, I might have little choice other than to wire them in, and just plan on keeping this critter in a bigger foam-lined box.)
In the picture above, none of the pieces are glued in. Just getting Kaladrax into position was very troublesome, as parts kept falling off. The tail is particularly frustrating, with its ridiculous length, combined with its tendency to pop apart easily.
My first order of business will be to find a suitable base that I can start bolting things down to. If I keep Kaladrax on its original decorative base, at the very least I'll need a base with a diameter of 8" just to accommodate the decorative base at its widest point. The dragon extends for quite some distance beyond that, however, so if I'm going to use this for miniatures gaming, I think 12" is a more likely minimum. If Kaladrax is posed as normal, and if the tail is to be included, I might end up with a base as wide as 16" in diameter. I hope that perhaps with a bit of pinning and some forced bending, I can get the tail to curl in more tightly. Another consideration I've had is that I might shorten the tail. Or, if I go with a "Kaladrax emerges from the sea" setup, I might do without the tail entirely. I also considered removing the rear legs (rather easy to do, with a bit of putty gap-filling, since the hip bones are separate parts), but I'm reluctant to short-change Kaladrax too much. ;)
I've got a number of coffee can lids and such, but nothing approaching the right size. I do have a dead fan tower that I could borrow the base from, but I think that would over-shoot the intended diameter. (I suppose I should measure it. If it's within the ballpark, it would have the added benefit of having some WEIGHT to it, if I try for a more "dynamic" pose with Kaladrax rearing up.)
My Reaper Kraken (77291) is missing the critical top ridged part of its body, so I've been borrowing its tentacles for "tentacles rising from the murk" pieces for RPG encounters. I might borrow its decorative "shipwreck" base as well, to add to Kaladrax's own decorative base, to give the scene a more nautical appearance.
Once I settle on a way to bolt down Kaladrax without the thing wobbling all over the place (whether I attempt a more "dynamic" pose or just have it lounging on a rocky precipice), then there will be the matter of cleaning up the ribcage area and touching up my bone-and-wash look, then bolting on various Cryxian "evil-steampunk" elements to turn this into a giant magical-steampunk monstrosity -- the sort of encounter one does not go up against without an army or two.
Here and my Colossal-class Cryx "Kraken" (different model -- basically a big steampunk robot with a couple of robo-tentacles) was going to be the big-shot opponent originally ... until I discovered in my first Iron Kingdoms RPG campaign that even Colossal/Gargantuan stats from the miniatures war game aren't all that impressive when faced by a properly combat-focused PC party.
But THIS guy ... he might be worth a little more respect.
"Kaladrax LAUGHS at your puny so-called 'Colossal' on its mere 120mm base!"
By Jordan Peacock
Reaper Bones #80027 "Nightslip," converted with two "flintlock" pistols and some "brown stuff" epoxy putty:
I saw this figure from Privateer Press, and at some point thought, "I could probably paint "Nightslip" up to look like that!" Having a gun in each hand helped -- but they weren't QUITE the right sort of guns.
(Reference image from Privateer Press site.)
Basically, it just boiled down to painting a lot of what (I suppose) would be skin on the Bones mini as cloth instead, swapping out the pistols, and then -- for bonus points -- adding a little extra putty to bulk out the shoulder/cowl area to make the hooded cloak look a little more rugged and all-weather vs. just being "superheroic."
The arms of the Bones model are far too delicate for normal pinning. I was able to use some fabric pins to stab lengthwise into the arms through the wrist area, but I wasn't able to get a good enough anchor point to use some sturdy wire for the pinning job. Therefore, the pistols are actually pinned to the body/cloak, rather than to the wrists. The guns are a couple of flintlock-looking pistols I got as part of a "bits" grab bag from an old "game bazaar," so I have no idea as to their origins. I suspect that they were intended to represent holstered weapons, as the big bulky area around the middle looks something like a strap or sling, but I decided to paint them up as if that was just part of the gun. Alas, they're actually a bit TOO large compared to Taryn Di La Rovissi's magelocks, but it's the best I had on hand. I used some more putty to build up the wrist areas and to make it look -- at least at a glance -- like she's wearing heavy gauntlets or thick gloves.
For basing, I was able to just put the figure's integral base down on a 30mm round lipped Chronoscope plastic base. The legs are fine enough that although it would have been quite simple to cut the boot bottoms free from the base, it would have been quite the challenge to pin them down to a new base. Hence, I just stuck with the existing base, but used some putty in an attempt to extend the "cobblestone" texture outward to fill the exposed interior area of the base. The white marks on the base are to help determine forward arc and direct facing for the RPG.
For the end result, I'm putting this in my box of assorted Iron Kingdoms NPCs. (The GM has hinted that our business might eventually bring us into contact with the Llaelese Resistance, so I figured adding a few Llael-inspired figures couldn't hurt.)
By Jordan Peacock
Reaper Bones 77204 "Cassiatta" (92609 from KS II) converted with spare arms from "Grind" board game, random 40K Ork bitz, and wire
I went through the Bones gallery and pinned this down as 77204 "Cassiatta" (AKA 92609 from the Bones II Kickstarter). I guess it's supposed to be a Dark Elf warrior, given the pointy ears and pointy just-about-everything and general "nasty" vibe.
Original Mini from Gallery:
I had some brief musings of painting such a figure up humorously with lots of stitches and scars on the suspiciously-exposed patches of elf flesh (as contrasted with the HUGE SHIELD and pointy shoulder pads, which don't seem to be viable accessories if your defense strategy is to *dodge* all the incoming attacks -- but, hey, Dark Elves are just ALL ABOUT the Dark Elf look) but I didn't do anything with it, because I've got a HUGE PILE of Reaper Bones minis and more immediate figures that need some paint.
Until now. In our Iron Kingdoms / Unleashed campaign, the GM has decided to make use of Cryx (magical steampunk undead) adversaries, and I happen to have a Cryx army, but for an encounter, he wanted a Brute Thrall ... and wouldn't you know? I haven't any of those, and it seemed excessive to rush out to spend $18 on a figure that's a slightly-glorified mook that'll probably only appear in a single encounter and then only briefly.
Now, a Brute Thrall normally looks like this:
That's a 40mm base. Big, bulked-up undead magical-steampunk guy with HYOOGE fists, and smokestacks coming out back.
However, those silly sculptors at Privateer Press came up with a "convention-exclusive" alternate-sculpt Brute Thrall (AKA the "Femme Fatale") that's on the same 40mm base, with the same game stats, but it looks like THIS:
(I'm getting a slight "Bride of Frankenstein" vibe here, I think on account of the high cheekbones and the pulled-back "hair" / headpiece.)
Now, I thought, I just might be able to convert something that at least looks a little like this. So, I picked out "Cassiatta" (77204) from the Bones box, because I had a female warrioress type with some exposed skin (that I could paint stitches on), some arms that are AWAY from the body (so they can be trimmed off and replaced), and she's one of the taller female figures (since while the fists will still be laughably huge, I suppose there's some vague point where if the body is too small, it would just look ludicrous).
The replacement arms are spare Cygnar Runner arms from the "Grind" board game (since I was able to get it on sale, a great source of cheap plastic Khador and Cygnar warjacks as baselines for customizing for the RPG, rather than chopping up a much more expensive pewter model). They're pinned, of course, since there's no way glue alone would support that sort of attachment.
The back piece is from a grab-bag bunch of Warhammer 40000 Space Orks. It's some sort of exhaust-pipe thing that might have been originally intended for an Ork vehicle of some sort, but since I don't have the vehicle to go with it, it doesn't matter much. The great thing about cobbled-together undead armies (especially STEAMPUNK undead) is that I don't have to worry about finding the exact same piece twice, because there's no enforced uniform code in the undead force; they're all cobbled together, so variety is good.
For the added cables, I used my standard fallback for add-on vague-tech cabling circa the 1990s: I take a piece of safety wire (a slightly thicker gauge) and then spiral-wrap some of my very thinnest picture-hanging wire around it, and snip to length, with a little leftover space for the interior wire to extend to fit into the drilled holes at each point of attachment (and I use some needle nose pliers to carefully bend it around to something resembling a curve between points A and B). There's no need to paint it metallic, because it already IS metallic (although I went back and dry-brushed with a "platinum white metallic" for some added highlight shine).
I painted the fleshy areas very pale ("Denim Blue" base, then "Snowflake White"), and free-handed some "stitches" with one of my older brushes with only 3-4 strands left together to paint very, very thin lines.
Oh yeah, and in the actual encounter, the big bad Brute Thrall went down like, SPLAT. Hmm. Okay, so that was a little anticlimactic, but I guess to be expected. The more a mini stands out, the more the PCs are going to prioritize pounding on it, right? I still had more fun, I figure, than if I'd struggled to cobble together something from my "bitz box" that looked like a "standard" Brute Thrall. :)
By Jordan Peacock
77262 Vrock Demon (Bones plastic), converted
In our current Iron Kingdoms Unleashed campaign, for a rare change, I get to be a PC (and suddenly NOT have extensive knowledge of what in the world is going on anymore -- how alarming!), while one of the players takes over as GM. I'm still hosting and providing the minis, and since I don't write the script, and the GM isn't afraid of using proxies rather than just sticking to what minis are already there to go ... well, we're using lots of proxies. However, if it looks like a character or critter is going to stick around for more than one session, I've been trying to make sure there's something more appropriate to go on the table.
In this case, we had a situation where the party was attacked by two Rotterhorn Griffons ... and we actually managed to capture them rather than kill them. (This was very useful to the party, as certain members of the party are able to train certain animals as "warbeasts" -- kind of like, say, Pokemon, except that your new pets aren't as cute, they don't conveniently store away in little red-and-white Pokeballs, and there's the lingering chance that you might lose control and your beloved battle-pet could very well eat you, your other pets, and/or your friends, depending on the situation, its temperament, and how you've been treating it.)
Well, the GM happens to have one model of an Unleashed/Hordes style griffon that I painted up. There's a very distinctive look, and base size is very important. For one thing, an alarming number of "beasts" in the Iron Kingdoms universe are humanoid in form, and it's hinted that they might actually have rudimentary language. Surely the fact that even wild specimens of these so-called "beasts" come clad in loincloths most of the time suggests at least some minimum level of sophistication (or at least modesty). So, my Bones Griffon (77157) that I painted and based up earlier doesn't quite cut it as a representation -- we don't have THOSE kinds of griffons in the world of Iron Kingdoms, apparently.
Fortunately, I had a Vrock (77262) in my Kickstarter box, and it's remarkably close to the size of the Rotterhorn Griffon model, very bird-like, and has a generally humanoid form. The tail is different, but I don't think too much attention is paid to that anyway, and the GM didn't mind at all that I converted all the Warpwolves to have brushy, more wolf-like tails rather than the weird spiky rat-tails that they're usually depicted with. It was also buck-naked, but it didn't take much effort to use a bit of putty for a rudimentary loincloth.
I popped off the vulture head (it was a separate, glued-on piece), and I used some Instant Mold in two parts to get an impression of the Hordes Rotterhorn Griffon head. That is, I heated up some Instant Mold via the boil-some-water-in-a-mug-in-the-microwave method, applied it to one side, used a stylus to jab some indentations into the facing surface, then stuck the whole thing in the freezer ... then pulled it back out, heated up the water again, mushed-up some more Instant Mold, and applied it to make the second half. The result, once both sides cooled and I separated them, was a two-part push-mold open on the back side, that I could use to roughly apply a more griffon-like head to the Vrock body. I wouldn't try to copy a WHOLE BODY this way, as that would be an awful lot of trouble and putty, there's definite detail loss, seams are inevitably extreme, and the putty tends to be very brittle and not to hold up well at thinner stress points -- whereas the griffon head alone is fairly compact and solid and hence (to my estimate) worth the trouble. The slight distortion to the head proportions (it's a flexible mold, after all) just serves to give it a slightly different "expression" from the original griffon. Additional putty was required to gap-fill and texture in some more feathers.
I tried to paint it to look fairly similar to the Rotterhorn Griffon on the box, but ran into a problem when doing some decorative patterns on the tips of feathers for a little more visual interest (and less uniform gray): The wings of the Vrock are NOT symmetrical. Now, one might say that this is fairly obvious, given the dynamic pose of the Vrock, and one wing is raised higher than the other, but what I mean is, if I pick five feathers in a row on one wing to paint the details on, I cannot find a corresponding group of five feathers in the same row on the other side to detail the same way. The rows don't line up the same way. If you're just painting this very basic colors and dry-brushing or applying a wash to bring out the texture details, that's fine, but for any feather schemes that call for bands or other such details on the individual feathers, it's a bit off.
So ... I had to "wing it" a bit. ;) Honestly, of all the things our players comment on, I don't expect it's a detail any of them are likely to notice or care about, so it's not a serious complaint about the mini. (And, after all, it's supposed to be a Vrock Demon -- a creature of chaos, right? -- so, if anything, asymmetry is probably entirely in keeping with the idea. :) )
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