Buying Toy Soldiers from New and Old

I buy new models and paints and such fairly regularly. Like most of us, I tend to buy from the same stores most of the time, but occasionally I’ll try a new place, and see what they’re like for one reason or another. My retail go-to for years was always Maelstrom Games, though we know how that one panned out. I  tried Wayland Games a few times around then, as well as during and even after the decline of Maelstrom, but shipping was always more expensive, slower to despatch, and their customer service was seriously lacking. No links for you!

firestorm

Since then, my go-to retailer of choice has been Firestorm Games in Cardiff, Wales. Friendly and efficient service, a 10% discount, free international shipping, and a willingness to sort things out very quickly. Orders placed are typically picked and sent out within a few hours. Great to deal with and my current #1 choice.

trolltrader

My secondary retailer for International orders has often been The Troll Trader in Cornwall. They also offer free shipping and a 10% discount, and have a different range of stock to Firestorm in general. Lately they haven’t has the stuff I’ve been wanting to order, and so I haven’t ordered from them in ages now. I still check their site when I’m after something, and hold them in fairly high regard as a retailer (Though their eBay postage costs are insane as they don’t really combine shipping in a realistic manner.)

Arcane

Lately, I’ve been using Arcane Scenery and Models an awful lot. In fact, I’ve been ordering from them more frequently and in larger quantities than Firestorm, and TTT has dropped out entirely. This is because I’ve been buying more Historical stuff, for use in games like SAGA, Kings of War and (theoretically) LotR and Hail Caesar! They don’t have any discount scheme in place, but they do offer free worldwide shipping, and Steve, the (the owner?) has great service. Arcane is another retailer who has your order out the door within a couple of hours of ordering. They have possibly the world’s worst website to deal with – it’s as slow as hell and the search function is hidden on the “contact us” page, but the quality and speed of service make it worth the time it takes to navigate their site for me.

This week I ordered from both Arcane and Firestorm – I often find that they make a great combo when there are things I want to buy as I can take advantage of both stores’ stock levels – and both had my stuff on its way within hours. I love it!

This week, I also tried a couple of “New” retailers (to my experience).

Brigade

The first of the two was Brigade Models, who I tracked down recently as the current owners of those metal skeletons I picked up recently.

Fir Bolg Skeletons

Those Skeletons I quite liked.

They have pretty reasonable prices for their models, though their website suffers from a bit too much of the dreaded “No Image” image.

My usual response to this on almost all miniature websites selling me stuff at retail is to skip them entirely. I persevered a little and placed an order of Skeletons as well as a rules bundle for Celtos, as it was priced very fairly. The reasons I was willing to order from these guys is because I like the specific models that I ordered (I like sturdy metal undead models) and also because they state that they remove the 20% VAT for non-EU orders, and they actually have very reasonable shipping costs.

Sadly, and I guess that this is my own fault – but after ordering I saw the “despatch times” for Brigade.

Delivery Times

Brigade Models is very much a part-time business. Because we have full-time jobs, these sometimes must take priority, so bear this in mind if your order is delayed. Please allow up to four weeks (six weeks overseas) for your order to arrive. We strive to get orders turned around much faster than this – in ‘normal’ periods (ie outside of sales) 95% of orders are sent out within two weeks. However, sometimes Real Life overtakes us and it takes a little longer. If your order is particularly large or contains lots of resin items that may also affect delivery time. We can also get very busy during our sales, when we sometimes receive as many orders in a week as we do in a month ! In the case of severe delays we will send partial orders, or at least let you know about the delay. If you really, really need some items in a hurry then contact us before you place your order and we can let you know if we can ship them within your timeframe.

Ouch! Up to 2 weeks to send my stuff out at best? 4-6 weeks delivery? A bit of a chance from the instant-2-day despatch and week in transit that I’m used to from UK companies. I guess I’ll see my Skeletons sometime in mid-late June. Hopefully?

rpe

Finally, I placed an order with Ral Partha Europe – or as they tell me they’re wanting to transition to – RPE. (Time to register a couple of URLs, guys. – RPE.com and RPE.co.uk have squatters on them, though). I only became aware that these guys even existed recently, initially through Goblin Aid for Kev Adams, and then a few months later when a colleague at work (who I just found out is also into wargaming) told me that he’d bought a ton of Heartbreaker Kev Adams Dwarves from Ral Partha Europe. I followed up and found that they also have much of the range of Heartbreaker Kev Adams Orcs and Goblins that I’d picked up back in the 1990’s, as well as more of the Bob Olley Ogres that I’d also bought a couple of in the ’90’s. They have a nice little range, and so I added quite a few things to the bunch of Ogres that I’d come to the site for. I had quite a nice chat on the phone with (I believe) Martin who was pleasant and friendly to talk to, and answered a few questions I had.

Encouragingly, they say that they charge actual postage and also that they will (manually) refund VAT for non-UK customers. “If you pay by Paypal and are from a non EU country we will refund the VAT on orders over £10 in value, before discount and not including postage cost.” They also say that orders are usually posted within a week, and please to allow 28 days for delivery before worrying. Basically, I’m happy to pay actual shipping OR VAT to UK retailers, since the VAT comes to 20% anyway which goes towards shipping. I’m NOT willing to play with places that have those horrible 1980’s-1990’s style “add 20%/25% of the total for shipping” – and even worse are the ones who do that and then keep the 20% VAT on top.

So, at this point I ordered from both Brigade and RPE on Wednesday night (my time) which is around Noon in the UK. I haven’t heard anything from either yet, the time of writing being late Sunday afternoon my time. I did get a newsletter from RPE yesterday touting their new releases and also mentioning that they had electricians in for most of last week, so had to put regular business on hold for a few days – fair enough. I guess we’ll see how this one pans out as well! I’ll keep these two updated!

Update #1: My Brigade Models Order & Experience

Getting Painting Work done at Work.

Rather than the usual photos of figures finished recently, finished ages ago or WIP, I thought I’d write up another of my infrequent discussion posts this time. The topic being that of painting models at work. It’s somewhat inspired by Game of Travel’s posts that I’ve been reading for awhile, and specifically his post of May 4th about the Portable Painting Station that he took with him around the world. It is also very much inspired by a random thought I had a few months ago this year, when I realised I could try painting at work, and figured out how to give it a go.

All set up for 20 minutes of painting time at work.

 

The problem is of course that work is tiring and draining. On Monday I might do a little bit of painting after work, but mostly simple “monkey work” things like basing or base coating. By Tuesday it’s even less likely, and after that, I’m a write-off. When the weekend comes, I start very slowly, and it takes until Sunday afternoon to really get firing on all cylinders – at which point I have to get ready for work on Monday and it all starts again. I had the thought that if I could keep my hand in during the working week I could keep myself somewhat in the paint-mentality, and so on the weekend I don’t need to “restart” again from scratch. And hey – it’s worked. It also gives me a little while where I can zone out and just quietly paint, which I imagine is for me a little like how people who meditate for relaxation feel.

The Drawer where I park my paint and Chessex Case at 8am each morning.

At work, I get two breaks per day. The first is 15mins, and the second is 30mins. That’s all of the time I’ve got to walk across the site to the break room (which is a couple of mins in itself), go to the toilet, grab a coffee and make it back. So really, once I’ve done that I’ve only got about 3-7 mins at best to drink my coffee during the 15mins of my “morning tea” break. Lunch is a bit longer, and while the transit times across the site are the same I can often scoff my sandwich just before or just after break, while actively working (being in the right place on time is the priority in my workplace). This means I’ve got about 20mins where I can get some (painting) work done (before I need to pack up!)

14-slot Chessex Miniature Case with this week’s subjects.

Since stuff is still always happening in my workspace, I’ve located a quite room near the breakroom where I’ve been able to leave a few things stashed in a drawer with the permission of the person who “owns” that room. So in a drawer, I keep a piece of A4 paper that I use as a painting blotter (as at home), a CDR spindle-thing that I use as a palette (the same as the ones I use at home), a piece of blister foam and 2 brushes. I bring in my project of the week inside a small Chessex Case, and my paints inside one of two plastic containers.

Small plastic compartment case with this week’s palette. Goblin Robes and Boots.

Work Kit #1, ready to go!

I prefer to take the smaller of the two, as it makes me really think about my choice of palette for the models I’ll be painting. Since I’m only going to get in 20 minutes of work in on any given day, too many colours or figures is going to be useless, so I need to really focus on what I’m going to get done. Having several models with similar or the same “thing” that needs doing is best, so I can work in a production line style. With the paints above, I’ll be able to shade their robes, and get the boots basecoated. Once the various elements are done, I can swap colours out as needed – to highlight/shade colours for the boots for example.

The larger container, with 4 of my go-to Citadel Colours.

And safely packed for work.

Sometimes though, my paints of choice for the day include some Citadel Colour paints. While most of my paints these days are from the Vallejo lines, with a smattering of Army Painter and Coat’D’Arms and so on, I still use Citadel paints, and several of the new range are still my go-to colours and paints for those tones. I prefer the smaller plastic container, but the Citadel Colours don’t fit into it, and the larger one can be reconfigured to take 9 Vallejo paints, or 6 Citadels.

And ready for my bag.

So basically, it’s a pretty simple thing to do, but I find it keeps me “in the game” all week, and then it’s much easier to keep painting on the weekends. I still chat and socialise with my workmates and colleagues in the morning before we’re on the clock, during tea break and  in the afternoon so it’s not like it turns me into an anti-social grognard. I’ve also found that it’s especially good for getting those tedious jobs done. At home I might sit and stare at something like highlighting the black skirts on Gondor infantry for 5 minutes, and then paint something else, or go look at the internet, or turn on the game console or even just keep staring at them. At work, well, I’ve got 10 figures, 5 paints and 20 minutes – no time to waste! And any painting is better than no painting, so the result is that tedious jobs actually become enjoyable.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Painting Desk #13 – How Should I Paint this C23 Ogre Shaman?

This weekend I finally knuckled down and finished the C23 Ogre Mercenary with 2-hander who I’d been staring at for the last couple of months. He’s outside having the varnish dry in the sun. So far, so good. I’ll get some pics of him and his unit this coming week and show them off then. With him down, the next part-painted-aeons-ago Ogre steps into the front rank of stuff to get finished soon.

This guy:

C23 Ogre Warrior Priest/Shaman

C23 Ogre Warrior Priest/Shaman

I think the reason this guy has been in the “stuck” file is because I just can’t figure out what colours to use for him. I’d originally given him a purple skirt with the intention of painting some stars and moons and pentagrams, etc on it – which I think is based on mis-remembering the first time I saw him painted, which was probably the figure pictured in this White Dwarf advertisement from 1989. Orclord of SoL fame also has a nicely painted example in his personal collection.

So what of this guy? Well, the purple robe would have worked better is his outfit was a onesie, but he’s got that fur-cuffed vest as well, so that means we need something else as well. I’m thinking dirty grey-white hair to give him a sense of age and authority. His pauldron could either be worn steel, “coloured” metal, as in the Chaos Ogre from the berserker unit this guy will be inspiring/attached to, or a bright, enamelled red as worn by the one member of Olley’s Ogres. It all depends on how much I decide to make it “pop” as both former solutions are much more subtle and low-key than the latter, and this guy is, after all, a Character in the army.

I’ll clean up the chestnut browns on his boots and arm wrapping, go with my typical bone effect for the warhammer-head, and go with contrasting browns for his pouches and belts, but ultimately it’s the skirt and vest that have got me stuck.

My Ogre force does not have “army colours” as many of my other armies will and do. Some units will have their own heraldry (or just a dominant colour) but nothing across the whole army, which I see as a collection of individuals from a number of tribes.

I could go with strong reds to make him stand out on the battlefield? Keep the purple and give it the patterns I thought of originally? (But what of the vest?) Copy Orclord’s scheme? Something completely different? I really don’t know, which is why I’m posting this here and on a forum I frequent, so I can see if I can get some feedback that will inspire me enough to get this guy finished – and to take less than three months to actually get it done.

Celtos: Fir Bolg – Skeleton Spearmen

I picked up this pair of Skeleton Spearmen recently via eBay, paired with some Rackham Ghouls. They were reasonably priced and looked nice enough, and I was buying other stuff from the same seller, and I’m building an undead army, so why not?

I-Kore Skeleton Spearmen

Celtos Fir Bolg Skeleton Spearmen

The one with the helmet had a spike atop his headgear which I thought looked a bit crappy, so out came the clippers and it was a problem of the past. The same fellow also had what I initially assumed was a kind of banded mail but turned out to be somewhat unconvincingly-sculpted ribs. His radius was also way-oversized, with a tiny ulna to match. I decided to cover up these issues by painting both as bone-themed iron armour – the ribs as the banded mail I thought they were in the first place, and the entire right forearm as a bracer. His mate had much more sensibly-sculpted proportions, so they were all left as bone. I painted the pair in the Undead Army’s themed colours – Black and Red with (obviously) Bone, worn metal equipment with worn brass/verdigris-blue-green accents.

I-Kore Skeleton Spears

Celtos Fir Bolg Skeleton Spear Rears

Nice enough figures bought for about AU$2.50 each. Can’t say no to that! Now I just need to get them 10-22 mates and we’ve got another unit for the table! A bit of research has revealed that they’re from the Fir Bolg range for the Celtos Miniatures Game. The tabs of these models had “I-Kore” on them, and so apparently Celtos was originally created by I-Kore, and later sold to Urban Mammoth and later on-sold again to Brigade Models who currently own the game.

Parts of that range seem to have a strong influence from Chronopia, but I’m more interested in sticking to these (Irish, apparently) Skeletons. I might grab some more, now that I know where to get them. I’ve got a soft spot for metal skeletons for some reason. They’re almost like the perfect things for me to paint at work. Might be a few other things for me to pick up as I scour through their range. I better get onto them before they’re sold again or disappear completely!

Lord of the Rings: Moria Goblin Prowlers.

Moria Goblin Prowlers

Moria Goblin Prowlers in SBG formation. A mass of nasty-sharp axe-blades!

Moria Goblin Prowlers

My original trio of Prowlers, painted a few years ago now.

I finally finished these Goblin Prowlers last weekend after starting them about a month ago during my Moria Goblin push. Unfortunately, and, I guess rather predictably, I got sick of painting Moria Goblins, and they sank to the back of the front of my queue. I took them to work a couple of times. but there were just too many of them to get anything substantial done, so they sat for a little while. I finally split them into two groups and took them to work last week to get stuff done in a more focused manner, and then finished them off on the weekend.
Moria Goblin Prowlers

A Conga Line of Prowler Axemen – all newly painted.

Moria Goblin Prowlers

More of the New Blood

Moria Goblin Prowlers

…and only a couple more of this sculpt.

 

 

As with this sort of thing, I put more effort into these than I do with faceless plastics, but still – they’re not exactly models that inspire my top-tier paintjobs. I also wanted them to look grotty and grubby, so after my usual highlighting and shading I gave them a glaze/wash of AP Soft Tone. One commentator remarked at one point that they felt that the Moria Goblins were Ochre rather than Green, but my reviewing of both stills as well as and statues and other such merchandise makes them pretty well green. Though it’s more of a light olive. I’m using Citadel Foundation Gretchin Green (sadly discontinued) as a base, then highlighting it with blends into VGA Rotting Flesh. They do blend upwards into yellow-greens, but Ochre really seems to be something based off this particular still, which can be found with more than one tone to it anyway. Either way, this tone fits the Moria mob much more than the traditional Goblin Green of my (and many other) WHFB Orcs and Goblins.
Both pics here just pulled from pages on the intarwebs, with no touch-up by myself except for resizing and renaming.

How Green is my Goblin?

All depends on the light or filter, I guess?

In Kings of War they’ll be part of my Goblin army, though I couldn’t find an appropriate unit for how they’re armed – and the actual goblin infantry all seem to be listed as pretty much rabble.
Moria Goblin Prowlers

Moria Goblin Prowlers – as KoM Foot Guard

Since this simply won’t do, I’ll be using the unit profile of a KoM unit – either Foot Guard with 2-handers or perhaps Berserkers – it works legally as the armies can be allied anyway, and it thematically fits the unit. I’ll be doing a similar thing with the Gundabad Blackshields when I get around to doing them (probably “regular” Foor Guard). My only real issue is that even Goblin Kings in KoW are Yellow-Bellied, so it’ll be a bit odd to have their Elites braver than their leader. Then again… even that kinda works thematically as well if you think about it…
Moria Goblin Prowlers

Moria Goblin Prowlers – from the side!

12 for a Regiment of “20”, and two leftover for other duties and fill-ins. Unfortunately with only three sculpts there are no fancy-pants models to be banner bearers or leaders, but such is life. Let’s face it, I’m way too slack to convert any for this mob!
Moria Goblin Prowlers

…and from the other side.

 

D&D Monster Manual 10: Castle Ravenloft Wraiths and Blazing Skeletons

More Dungeons and Dragons Boardgame models today. The Wraiths and Blazing Skeletons. Both of these sculpts come in transparent blue plastic, so painting them is a little different.

Flaming Skeletons

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft – “Flaming Skeletons”

You really don’t want to be undercoating these if you want to retain the semi-transparent look. I gave both of them a bit of a wash with dark blue ink in order to deepen the shadows, which has worked in one way and not been so great in another, as they have lost a certain amount of their transparency by doing so. The Blazing Skeletons are pretty nice models, actually – the only really “difficult” part being how the fireball is indistinct from the rest of the flames happening on the model.

Dungeons and Dragons: Castle Ravenloft – “Wraith”

The Wraiths aren’t bad models either. A little ham-handed perhaps, but that’s hardly a new thing to miniatures. Simple enough, but overall quite effective.

Dungeons and Dragons - Castle Ravenloft: Blazing Skeleton, Wraith

Size Comparison with The Usual Suspect

Obviously, the place for these figures to get more use would be in the Undead Army. What to use them for on the other hand is a little trickier. The wraiths would obviously see most approrriate use as Wraiths, but that role is more than competently taken care of both by the reams of Army of the Dead models from LotR as well as the old Citadel Spirit Host (Ghost Swarm) models that I repainted last year. Smaller numbers have any number of very nice models in LotR Barrow-Wights, Otherworld Miniatures’ Wights and the like. Perhaps if the AotD get split off into a separate Army of the Necromancer or something. I dunno. Suggestions on near-term use for those models would always be welcome.

The Blazing Skeletons have a similar problem – what to use them for? If I were really lazy or creative, I could try suggesting that they’re stand-ins for War Machines. What with the huge blue fireballs they’re about to Ha-dou-ken at their enemies. Thing is of course, that I already have some Undead Warmachines (and two more Skull Chuckers to sort out, and a TK Screaming Skull on the radar.)

So, I dunno. Smush them in with Undead Archers since they’re all ranged? Seems a bit ill-fitting somehow. Use them as Undead Characters/casters? While that could work ont he surface, these models don’t look like interesting characters, and Undead Characters seems to be one of the most heavily-populated subgenres of miniatures available – both from older metal collections like my Citadel stuff as well as endless newer models from Reaper, Bones, etc.

 

 

Citadel Night Goblin Fanatics (Plastics)

As part of my continuing push to clear off my painting desk via actually finishing off models, I gathered together these three Goblin Fanatics a couple of weekends ago. I got them either from eBay, or WAU, or something like that at least a couple of years ago. I can’t even remember, to tell the truth. It was certainly before we bought this house and moved in. They had been assembled, sprayed black, had their bases painted goblin green, and parts of their skin had also been painted goblin green. Unless that last part was me. Anyway, they’d just kind of floated around since I got here, and had been separated, and one of them had suffered a fall from the shelf due to Leonard the Cat going “fishing” from the top of the bookshelf – snapping the chain, which was hanging by a thin thread of plastic.

Citadel Night Goblin Fanatics

Citadel’s latest version of Night Goblin Fanatics

So anyway. I saw a couple of them taking up space and decided to finish them as a quick weekend project. The plan was to get them entirely done in the one weekend. It ended up taking two, but close enough. Glued the chain back together and off I went. It took a bit to decide what to do with their clothing. I feel that while Night Goblins can be dark as you like, it’s nice to make their “special” models pop in some way. I also hate checked patterns on goblinoids, so I went with flames. Initially using an off-white, I decided they’d look better with a bit more colour, so I went with the brighter flames.

Citadel Night Goblin Fanatics

Rear View of the Night Goblin Fanatics

Yes, I know that the base of the flames “should be” yellow as it’s the hottest part, and the red at the edges. These flames, of course, are made of paint representing a pattern on cloth rather than actual flames, so I’m fine with the red being adjacent to the green of their faces, and the yellow against the black of their hoods. It’s all about contrast and “pop” here, but without over highlighting black cloth or green skin up to white, which always bothers me a little. I also experimented a little with the balls and chains. I wanted them to look like worn and rusted metal.

While they took a little longer than I’d planned, I’m quite happy with the final outcome. Now, on to the next models.