Monday, 16 July 2018

Torturer

Following on from the previous post, I decided that I needed some evil lackey that could inhabit the dungeon, meeting out all manner of cruel and unspeakable acts on the poor unfortunates that crossed his threshold.  I knew that I had a ‘Hasslefree Miniatures’, Narg the torturer but on closer inspection he reminded me of a cross between Big Daddy* and Thelonious, Lord Farquaad's right-hand man from Shrek.
*Those of us in the UK that remember World of Sport’s Saturday afternoon wrestling, will appreciate the reference.
Narg is a lovely miniature, but it didn’t feel quite right with the other pieces that I was working on.  Instead I went for one of the Executioners set from ‘Fenryll Miniatures’ supplied through 'Figures4Sale', an Ebay seller.  This is not a make that I was familiar with and hadn’t realised that they were actually resin until they dropped on the doormat, here at Awdry Towers.  I chose the smaller of the two, not least because the larger version was a multi part kit and I just didn’t have the heart to tackle it at the moment.
There were some tiny imperfections that I didn’t notice until I started to apply paint, but on the whole this is a lovely sculpt, with just the right balance of malice and comedy to work on the tabletop. Having decided on my choice of torturer, I looked around at all the other bits and pieces that had been salvaged, but not used at this juncture, and cobbled together a little vignette. Contributors include an executioner’s block from ‘Black Tree Deigns’, rats from ‘Warbases’ and a brazier from ‘Midlem Miniatures’.
Although there are no immediate plans to start work on a dungeon I thought, collectively, that these pieces could serve as a grim reminder of the probable outcome of any transgressor!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

And stretch!

Now although there are no immediate plans to create interiors for my Witchfinder world, these resin accessories from ‘Dark Art Studios’ proved just too difficult to resist.  The iconic Iron Maiden is a solid one piece casting and was a relatively quick paint job.  Interestingly there is some debate as to whether the Iron Maiden was really used.  That it might actually be an 18th Century invention to reinforce the cruelty of the middle ages in literature and museums.
The rack, by comparison, was very much a real entity and its simplicity in design very much in its favour.  To be broken on the rack would be to suffer the most excruciating pain as your body, having been shackled by your wrists and ankles, was literally stretched.  Joints would be dislocated and muscle and sinew torn from the bone.  The pain inflicted could be accurately measured, but anyone who spent any length of time on the device would be disfigured for life, if indeed they survived!
The 'Dark Art Studios' version would certainly be capable of inflicting great pain, but I am happy to report that it wasn’t too onerous to assemble and paint. A really nicely sculpted set, that took paint well, my difficulty now is that I am starting to think that I need a torture chamber or dungeon in order to house them!



Monday, 9 July 2018

Stocks and Pillory.

In their simplest form, a pair of stocks were hinged together at one end and, whilst at other end, a hasp and staple for a padlock was usually found.  The stocks would confine the victim’s ankles, who was then obliged to sit in that position, either on the ground or on a wooden bench.
 A pillory, by comparison, is an elevated set of stocks that would secure the victim’s head and wrists, again holding them in place.  By finding yourself in in either set usually meant that you were doing your bit for village morale by providing some much needed entertainment.  Audience participation was very much encouraged and all manner of produce might be launched at our hapless victims.
To that end, I could resist adding a little base, with a basket of apples and a sack pf potatoes to help get things started for the locals.  My poor unfortunates are from the every dependable ‘Redoubt Enterprises’ and require a little assembly, but nothing too taxing.  As with all 'Redoubt' miniatures, their slightly simpler style means that they a joy to paint.
These two unfortunate chaps are the companion pieces the ‘Redoubt Enterprises’ Stocks and Pillory and are, in fact, included in the same set; a stock collar and one in chains.




Thursday, 5 July 2018

Crime and Punishment Month

You’ll be glad to hear that this is not a month long review of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s master work, but simply a series of loosely related posts that feature man’s ability to inflict pain and suffering on his fellow human being.

It was whilst watching the BBC’s latest retelling of the Gunpowder plot, a lavish, action packed drama that spared no one in its gruesome depicture of torture at this period of time, that I was instantly transported back to the London Dungeon in the late Nineteen Seventies.  Then situated in Tooley Street, the London Dungeon was a must see attraction and in a flagrant disregard for their young son’s sensibilities my parents plunged, headlong, into the darkness!
At this time, the attraction was a series of gory wax works depicting the most gruesome of British tortures and methods of executions, something that young Master Awdry was fascinated by.  Unfortunately, it was the eerie sound effects and a sign that simply said, ‘Beware of the Rats’ that did for me and I have this undiminished memory of been absolutely terrified, sobbing the whole way round!
These gruesome encounters are so far removed from my everyday life that they have remained of interest to me.  The sheer barbarity and complexity of some of the devices and methods are incomprehensible today and as such their absurdness has had a sanitising effect on the pain and suffering they must have caused.

Let us be clear ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ does not condone the practice of torture in any way, shape or form, but the ‘Witchfinder’ world of the 17th Century was an unforgiving place.   Here extracting the truth from potential ne’er do wells or vassals of evil was an art form practiced by the dead of heart and strong of stomach.  As such it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to have some acknowledgement of its existence on the table top.  To that end, I have scoured the collection and unearthed a couple of pieces that would not look out of place in any chamber of horrors yet I hope might make an entertaining series of posts – you have been warned!


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Balian d’Ibelin

I think that it is fair to say that the day job has been a bit distracting of late.  This led to a lost week, hobby wise, and all manner of difficulties to overcome, both professionally and personally.  That said, there is an inevitability to the academic year and it is surprising just how much nonsense one is prepared to put up with when the prospect of a long summer holiday looms into focus!
 Unfortunately, the restraints on my time have meant that ‘Forgotten Heroes’ hasn’t worked out for me this year, instead I have picked at one or two pieces just to keep things ticking over and this post is a case I point.  Regular readers of ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ may remember mention of the Crusades as a possible avenue of interest.  Not much has happened on that front, if truth be told, but when I saw another of ‘Wargames Illustrated’ Giants in Miniature series, Balian d’Ibelin, I felt that it was a good a starting point as any other.
 As a huge Ridley Scott fan, I had high hopes for Kingdom of Heaven and, in parts, it has much to commend it, but sadly Orlando Bloom isn’t one of them.  Outstanding as the incorruptible, inflexible (dare one say wooden?) elf, Legolas, in Lord of the Rings, I just didn’t buy Mr. Bloom as the Crusader Noble, Balian d’Ibelin.

The acting aside, the liberal retelling of history made, in my humble opinion, for a slightly confused and easily forgettable piece of celluloid.  Watching it reminded me of young Master Awdry’s penchant for picking the best pieces out of an otherwise stodgy and unpalatable offering from the school refectory – a time consuming and futile process that ultimately left you wanting more.
My apologies, I digress!  As a sculpt this is another winner from ‘Wargames Illustrated’ and I was happy to give mine the Hollywood treatment when it came to painting it.  I was enjoying the simplicity of the miniature, but then came the heraldic devices on his surcoat and I was instantly reminded as to why I may have dodged this period! 

Still I persevered, not least because I hoped to use Balian as a proxy model for Benson, a special promotional character in my Zombicide: Black plague games.  Roll on the summer holidays! 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

A Knight, Death and the Devil

It is funny how the next diversion, or impulse buy, can seemingly come from nowhere.  A chance comment left on one of the many notable weblogs that I enjoy alerted me to the fact that ‘Antediluvian Miniatures’ were to have a Kickstarter.  My curiosity was piqued, for not only is my weakness for indulging in crowd funding hobbyness well documented, but ‘Antediluvian Miniatures’ are also the purveyors of some rather fine ‘Lost World’ related miniatures; but gentle reader, these were not dinosaurs but demons!  Taking mediaeval manuscripts as their inspiration the plan was to produce a host of demonic denizens of the dark, along with the usual stretch goals, to unearth all manner of ungodly creatures.
Always looking to justify an expenditure*, I squared this unusual purchase away as possible material for my Witchfinder General project.  The idea of battling demons across England’s green and pleasant land seemed to fit well with the ethos of a game that continues to hold my interest.  Exploring the rich and diverse folklore of the country continues to provide a rich vein of inspiration and the recent investigation of Donnybrook as a more accessible rule set have continued to see time, and pocket money invested, in the project.
*It helps me sleep at night.
 There has always been a fascination with the macabre, the oh so Gothic or the downright terrifying; not, you understand, to any worrying level, but a genuine fascination as to how evil has been depicted through the centuries.  As a budding art student young Master Awdry would stare in wonderment at Piranesi’s inescapable prisons or marvel at Dore’s illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy, but it was the complexity of Albrecht Dürer’s etchings that really stirred my imagination.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that one of stretch goals ‘Antediluvian Miniatures’ was proposing was a Demon Prince, inspired by the etching, ‘A Knight, Death and the Devil’.  This virtuoso engraving by Dürer depicts a lone knight riding through a threatening, desolate landscape all the time stalked by Death and a hellish abomination.  Created in, and around, 1513 here is an image that is packed full of ominous symbolism, evocative of the 23rd Psalm, ‘Though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death, I will fear no evil’ (Psalms 23:4).

As for the miniature itself, it was beautifully cast in white metal, but is made up of five constituent parts!  I have to confess that I find this much assembly a bit of a chore, but decided to persevere because of my love of the subject matter and ultimately glad that I did.  I pinned the arm and tail, but not the wings as they seemed to have a sufficient amount of cast lugs to make the join secure.**  The difficulty came with deciding on a colour palette, after all Dürer’s etchings are all black and white!
**I may ultimately regret this decision.
A little web based research unearthed some suitable reference material and I was fortunate to also find a painted version on the company’s website that acted as an invaluable source of inspiration.  The application of the paint also saw a bit of a departure from my usual approach.  I have been watching more of the talented Sorastro's painting tutorials on Youtube.  There are a number on painting zombies for Zombicide: Black Plague using base colours and Quickshade, so I thought that I would give this a go.  I have to confess that I was a little sceptical, particularly when it came to covering my carefully painted miniature with what looks like wood stain, but lo and behold, it works!

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Fire & Brimstone

Whilst struggling to get underway with 'Forgotten Heroes' this month, I have managed to complete a couple more additions to my Witchfinder world.  Part of the ‘Warlord Games’ Fire and Brimstone set, these two looked like likely candidates in the war against evil.  The puritan will be press ganged into service as a Witchfinder, which allowed me to indulge in a little popish extravagance in the form of a white hatband and red hose ties.  
Not entirely sure how the ranter, or leveller, will be used?  He certainly seems to be getting rather animated about something, perhaps the vampiric hordes have descended on his land and swept off one of his pigs?  
The basing gives him an elevated position to better address those foolish enough to stop and listen to him and is an homage to the extremely talented ‘Stone Cold Lead’, from whose amazing weblog I stole borrowed the idea.
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