Monday 23 August 2021

At the Sign of the Prancing Phoney

"If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
- Sun Tzu

As a 'veteran of the long war' with Games Workshop, I feel confident that I usually know what they're up to. As such, when it came to preparing for the Nazgul in Bree scenario, I opted to not buy the official models for Barliman Butterbur, Harry Goatleaf or Bill the Pony. Instead I went with this bunch...


Well, you first instinct is probably correct. I'm a bit cheap. I know this and I am perfectly comfortable with that description as the title of this blog will attest.

I know myself.

However, that's not all of it.

The Personalities of Bree are £25 from Forge World for three characters, two of which will almost certainly only see use in a single scenario.

Although very nice, they fall into the category of what I now describe as 'Goldberries'. An expense I can't justify on this long journey on which I have embarked.

What's more, the Nazgul in Bree scenario in which these characters are used isn't based on either the film (like Buckleberry Ferry) or the book (like Fog on the Barrow Downs). I am fully aware that GW are not above creating scenarios which not only nudge you into buying their new models from Forge World, but also encourage the unaware to buy a load of Laketown houses to build Bree. 

I know my enemy.

Therefore, I set about finding suitable alternatives.

My Barliman Butterbur is from Reaper Bones, and actually is a closer approximation of how the character looks in the book than how he was portrayed in the film - although he's a bit too grumpy.

"Frodo went forward and nearly bumped into a short fat man with a bald head and a red face. He had a white apron on..."

I have griped about Bones models before. I think this one was Bones Black, and so is slightly less bendy, but I still find cleaning up the mould lines on these models a chore.

Having said that, the detail feels fairly crisp, and although it doesn't respond amazingly well to washes, it does respond to quite heavy highlighting.

Harry Goatleaf has been put together using the Frostgrave Wizards sprue I bought last week. The choice of body and head was a nod to how he appears in the film, something that I tried to follow up with the colour scheme.

The lantern was a fortunate find in my bits box and comes from an old Bretonnian sprue. Despite trying to fill it with Greenstuff, the fleur de lys design is still just about visible.

The scale is more stocky and squat than the LotR range, and I wouldn't normally mix models from both ranges. However, I think that the hood and long coat allow me to just about get away with it.

At least he'll do for a single scenario where his life expectancy against four mounted Nazgul is about two rounds at best.

Bill the Pony is from Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures and is not a pony. He's a mule.

I picked this up at my FLGS a few years ago as a pack of two with the intention of using one of them for exactly this purpose because, at the time, I didn't think the official Bill was available.

Already having the mule only encouraged me to sidestep the Forge World models.

Nolzur's miniatures are cheap, but like Reaper Bones, the detail can be shallow and cleaning them up can be a bit awkward. Fortunately there wasn't much to do on Bill, and painting was quite a straightforward task. If I have a gripe it's that the head of the mule lacks any real detail.

I've picked these three up for about a quarter of the cost of the official models. They're not as good, or even accurate, obviously, but I'm willing to live with it to allow me to invest in more iconic and versatile characters and creatures later.

That's three more painted, but I was also given five iron age pigs by my dad to occupy my sty, and so that's three steps forward but five steps back.

Acquired: 128
Painted: 153


  1. I love this post Kieron! I too have become cynical about GW’s motives on releasing these fringe characters. Love your solution.

    1. I'm not sure if I'm cynical, just used to it. I that they have such a wide range of characters available, but I don't like the unsubtle arm twisting - like the seven Rohan houses in the first War in Rohan scenario that only get used again in the single scenario featuring the Palisades.

  2. They all look great. Nice alternatives and certainly cheaper!

    1. Cheers. Even though the LotR range is cheaper than lost GW stuff, it's still nice to save a few pennies here and there.