Friday 5 January 2024

Curse of Years: A Tale of 4 Armies

Having stated my intention to finish everything I had before buying more, after sprucing up the infantry units of my army I set about reanimating the few remaining bodies I had left unpainted.

This this required me to delve into the catacombs of my bits box and bring forth long forgotten creatures that have not seen the light of day for an age, 

I have not bought new units for my Vampire Counts army since I put together the plastic zombies over fifteen years ago, instead opting to drag life out of my somewhat eclectic collection of miniatures to make whatever units I could.

This saw my draft Wargs and Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings into my army as Dire Wolves and Wraiths, paint Empire Militia white to create Spirit Hosts and cobble together a Chariot riding Krell to function as my Black Coach.

This approach saw my use almost every scrap of undead miniature I could to bolster my army, which meant that not much was left before I got my hands on much of my old collection, and what was left spoke of a loss of interest in the undead.

These three (four?) Zombies were cobbled together towards the end of my playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle. They make use of bits from the Zombie kit (naturally), the ever useful Empire Militia and even some Skaven Gutter Runner parts.

The challenge I faced was trying to recreate the terrible approach I'd taken to the original unit using tools much better suited to the purpose. This has lead to Zombies that are better painted than the originals with me trying to not actually be better.

They fit in well enough but the experience has highlighted how much easier average painters like myself have it compared to to when I started in the hobby. Tools like washes and contrast paints allow you to get an army to a decent tabletop standard with much less effort and skill than previously.

Another consequence of my 'how the hell do I get this army 2000 points?' attitude when I returned to playing was the use of Harpies (originally part of a nascent Dark Elf army) as Fell Bats.

I still really like this idea as it evokes the brides of Dracula as they were envisaged in that film classic Van Helsing, starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale's corset.

I've given these models the de-shine and highlight treatment, as I'd also over used Devlan Mud on their wings. I've put quite a bit of work into these to get them looking only marginally better than they did.

I also used an unhealthy quantity of Stirland Mud to try to hide the fact that their original 25mm bases had just been stuck on top of 40mm bases because I was clearly scared that they'd snap off their bases and had not at that point mastered pinning models.

To make the Games Workshop Harpies into a useable unit of Fell Bats I was forced to draft in a WizKids D&D Miniatures Game Harpy to help. She's not a bad sculpt (certainly within that extremely variable range), but she's not great either.

She's joined here by two undead warriors from the same game who will help bolster the ranks. There are other WizKids minis already in the army so a few more isn't a problem. The taller Skeleton is actually a decent model part from its bizarrely detail free sword, and the shorter model potentially works as an undead Dwarf.

The major issue I have with all three is the hunch poses that make them a pain to photograph.

Whilst we're on the subject of non-Games Workshop miniature, these are some Grenadier Miniatures I've had since the late eighties.

Whilst I was a wee nipper the only shop in my home town that sold miniatures was G&I Models, which carried mainly trains and Airfix kits. However, they had a small supply of fantasy miniatures from a range of manufacturers.

I really like the Grenadier sculpts and I've made use of them to create some unit fillers, mainly because that gave me space to hide their chunky lead bases (again, more heaps of Stirland Mud).

The gravestone is my last remaining Renedra one, the Skeleton climbing out of the grave is one of the original Games Workshop plastics that had lost his foot somewhere, and the pile of skulls is from the original Screaming Skull Catapult, which I sadly no longer have.

Equally ancient are this Skeleton Drummer and a lone member of the Cursed Company Regiment of Renown.

These weren't mine originally but came into my possession with an entire regiment of the Cursed Company I bought and then sold about a decade ago - clearly because I had no intention of painting them and other projects beckoned.

I kept the drummer because he wasn't part of the unit and was missing an arm (replaced with a plastic Skeleton arm), I think the other chap just slipped through the net.

I used to think the Cursed Company and other Regiments of Renown were at the pinnacle miniature design, but it's cool to still have one to see how far things have moved on.

Finally there are these two undead guards. I think they also came into my possession with the Cursed Company, but I kept them due to them not fitting with the rest of the unit when I sold them.

They certainly add to the armoured feel of the spear unit, and their pole-arms help make the armament of the unit clear. I've still not decided to do with the plain shields if this unit and so I've just given them a light drybrush to be going on with.

I'm a touch disappointed in the photo here because it looks like I've just drybrushed them with Leadbelcher. I promise I have actually painted the bones.

All of this totals up to 20 miniatures painted (I'm counting the corpse on the floor, the gravestone and the pile of skulls as one each, sue me), only 3 of which didn't come from the Lead Mountain.

This leaves only the cavalry and characters of the army to deal with and means that I can slow down a bit and take more time over them, moving beyond the category of 'just make them better' to 'csn I make them good?'

Acquired: 0
Painted: 117
Lead Mountain: 873


  1. Excellent update, Kieron. I must confess the line " starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale's corset" had me spitting my coffee out. LOL!!! Terrific use of your Undead Bitz, whether they be GW or those Wizkids figs. Really enjoyed this write-up, so please keep them coming.

    1. Thanks. Let's face it, that's all we remember from that godawful movie. However the fight scene in the village with the brides always felt very Old World to me.