Monday, May 29, 2023

State of the Orc Army - Memorial Day 2023

 Afternoon all, today is a federal holiday in the United States and so I had the day off work. Having gotten quite a bit of work done on my Oldhammer Orc project this month, I decided to unpack everything and get it on the table - see what I've done since the last review, and get a sense of what I want to add. Not to toot my own horn too hard here, but I'm honestly impressed to see what I've done so far:

All total, that's 115 Orcs, 47 Goblins, 15 Hobgoblins, 4 Trolls, 5 "Hobhounds," 5 Boars and 6 Wolves. A unit-by-unit breakdown (mostly) follows:

A unit of Goblin Wolf Riders with bows, joined by a Goblin Big Boss. A second unit of these is in my project box, waiting to be assembled and painted.

Harboth's Orc Archers, a classic regiment from 1987. I still need to do shields for them, and I have a large number of these in my closet that I could strip 30-year old enamel paints off and paint up if I so desired. Behind them is a Doom Diver catapult, ready to fling goblins across the battlefield. 

Da Red Bastids tribe, with a unit of Bog Trolls behind them. Da Bastids are done, I have four unpainted trolls in my project box awaiting painting.

The Black Fire Boyz, a unit of orcs that have begun wearing stolen Averland uniforms and imitating pike and shotte tactics. This unit is complete - I don't want to paint more puff and slash.

The first regiment painted back in 2019, these Black Orcs will be expanded out to 15 and given new shields. Behind them is Mighty Epigruel's Slop 'n' Go Chuck Wagon. I wish baggage trains had persisted in WHFB past 3rd edition. 

The Kingbreakers, my second block of 25 orcs. 

Some characters - a classic Orc Boar Boy, an Orc Commander from Knightmare Miniatures, an Orc Shaman and an early 2000s Games Workshop Savage Orc Shaman. Behind them are a block of Goblin Archers. The orc shaman's staff has a crack on the shaft, and I'm concerned it's going to snap off right above his hand. I've tried wicking some superglue into the crack to bond it, but if that proves to not be enough I'll replace it with a skull just above his hand - turning the staff into a shorter walking stick. 

A unit of Knightmare Miniatures' goblins up front, and behind them an Orc chariot converted from a Foundry Beastman chariot, and in the back "The Old Guard," my Orc Big'uns regiment (joined by the Battle Standard Bearer). I have enough goblins, from a couple manufacturers, rattling around in a box to where I could bulk this unit out to 40, maybe even almost 50 if I really wanted to, but it's not the highest priority.

The Old Guard are all sculpts first released between 1985 and 1996, mostly Citadel, but there are a few Heartbreaker figures in there as well. I've got 19 figures painted, and it will be bulked up to a 36-figure block. I've got more Citadel and Heartbreaker, as well as some Marauder and Alternative Armies figures in the project box waiting to be cleaned, based and painted; I think I still need to buy just 3 more figures to complete the unit. 

My Hobgoblin Mercenary Contingent, not fieldable in any edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles more recent than 3rd. I've got a dozen Mourngul Renegades, along with a Shaman and a Contingent Commander riding a Temple Dog (represented by a Reaper Krung Beast). In front, a Hobgoblin Beastmaster drives a herd of Hobhounds (represented by Knightmare Gnashers) before him. 

A better look at the Baggage Train. Part of me wants to add a couple more wagons (a torturer's cart and maybe a mobile shrine to Gork and/or Mork), but again, not a very high priority. 

So what's left to add?

There's a couple additional units I want to add:

  • 10 Orc Boar Riders. I collected these and made a few conversions (a standard bearer, musician, and a couple of weapon swaps), and they've been sitting primed and ready to go waiting for me to get a storage case to put them in afterwards. I've got the case now so these might be next on the table.
  • Another unit of five Goblin Wolf Riders, plus a Boss. I have these in the project box, I just need to get a Boss figure.
  • 15 Savage Orcs, to be fielded with the Savage Orc Shaman seen above attached. I've got 13 of the Mark Bedford-sculpted Savage Orcs from 2000, a few of which need some stripping, including a full command. Just need to collect two more. 
  • A Rock Lobber - this will be proxied with a Foundry/Warmonger "Mercenary Great Orc" carrying a gigantic medieval firearm (the "Orquebus"), surrounded by a crew of goblins ready to clean and reload between shots. This is already in my project box, though I might still add a Warmonger "Orcling" holding a telescope as a spotter. 
  • Mangler Squig. I don't know if I'll ever play 8th edition WHFB, which introduced this unit, but I have the Knightmare "Giant Gnasher" and I'm looking forward to making a diorama base for it. 

And a couple units that need expansion:

  • Another 5 Black Orcs painted, plus shields. I've got two in my project box, I just need to pick up three more. Shields will be the kite-shaped face shields from Foundry/Warmonger. 
  • At least two more Trolls painted.
  • 17 more Orcs for the Old Guard. I think I've got 14 in my project box, so I'll need to source three more.

 This project has given me a lot of joy since I started it in 2019, and also a lot to think about. One thing I've noticed in social media spaces devoted to miniature painting and wargaming, as well as in the language used to market products to us, is an emphasis on "spend less time painting" and "get [y]our army on the table faster." Faster, faster, faster - always faster! Does 21st century life not move fast enough already?

I've absolutely and categorically rejected this messaging. Being thoughtful and methodical in every aspect of this project has been the key to my enjoyment. Browsing manufacturers' websites, supporting small businesses, and taking the time to base coat, wash, highlight every figure...I have an army that is entirely my own, painted in my own style. I've gotten faster at it through dint of practice, rather than using tools and techniques designed to speed up the process. 

Something I've seen a lot of among people playing the latest edition of Warhammer 40K or Age of Sigmar is buying an army, speed painting it, playing with it for a season, then selling it to pay for next year's army. And that's just not for me; in ten years' time I expect to still be admiring this army in a lit display case in my home. It's been an investment in my own happiness and honestly, my health (I had my annual physical last week, and I attribute my improved blood pressure to spending less time on social media and more time painting orcs), and I'm far richer for having taken the route I did with them.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

The Kingbreakers - 25 Orc Boyz

 I'm absolutely chuffed that I can say I've finished my second big block of Orc Boyz for my Oldhammer Orc Project. Again, the first 12 of these were painted in 2021 for the Old World Army Challenge; however, rather than using the standard bearer I'd originally painted for the unit (his banner made him effectively impossible to rank up unless I put him on the end of a row), I used the fellow I'd painted in April 2021 as a possible Battle Standard Bearer for the army as a whole. His standard - a couple of halberds and swords lashed together, topped by a skull wearing a crown - gave me the identity for this regiment once the last 13 figures were painted.


These are the Kingbreaker Tribe - years ago they ambushed and butchered a king and his retinue as they crossed the badlands, and now they wander the Old World, looking for his kingdom, now theirs by right. At least, this is what they believe to be the case. In truth, they ambushed a traveling theater troupe and killed an actor who happened to be wearing a painted cardboard crown at the time. His skull and crown now sit atop the Kingbreakers' standard pole. Everywhere they go, they point at the skull and ask "Was dis your king?"

This unit also contains my first "unit filler" base, if it can be called that; it's two figures based together on a 25x50mm base instead of individually on 25x25s to form a little vignette that sits in the last rank. I call it, "Performance Review."

Yes, the orc in the red vest is vigorously picking his nose, while the orc in blue looks on contemplatively; this is the third nose-picking figure I've painted for this army, and I think the fourth with a booger hanging out of his nose. It's part of the Oldhammer charm on display here; these are oafish orcs, essentially soccer hooligans with tusks, instead of lean, mean killing machines. These are orcs who are going to forget about the enemy regiment right in front of them to get into a shoving match among themselves, and that's something that's important to me with this project.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

New Terrain Acquired!

 Good evening readers. Today happens to be my birthday (36 this year), and my lovely wife was kind enough to treat me to some terrain for modern/post apocalyptic skirmishing, as she'd seen how much I enjoyed working on the Sarissa Precision Guard House last month.

First up, she got me two more Sarissa kits - a residential trailer and a gas station! The residential trailer looks like it will be a pretty easy build (knock on wood), and maybe I'll get a few more and some model chainlink fence and make myself a proper trailer park. The broad base on it lends itself to diorama as well - I could put an old couch, a dog house, or any number of things next to the trailer and tell a little story with it.

Secondly, she picked up this 3D-printed doughnut shop from Etsy, with the rationale that it makes a good companion to the gas station; given the role our local gas station convenience store and doughnut shop plays in our lives, this is an entirely reasonable rationale. It's got a removable roof and the interior is open, so I'll be adding a counter and some seating, as well as cutting some window panes from acetate. 

I'm excited for these buildings to be playable inside and out, and not just blocking off a section of the table. I have 13 more figures I need to finish off for my Oldhammer Orc project first, and then I'll work on some of this.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Dem Wots Got Stickas - 20 Goblin Archers

 I've been consciously putting my phone away in the evenings, and consequently have been much, much more productive as a painter - who would have guessed it? As such, I've finished off another regiment for my Oldhammer Orc Army. 


Some of the first figures I painted, way back in 2019 when I was trying to nail down color schemes and get the hang of how I wanted to paint orc flesh, were six goblin archers; five from Knightmare Games, and one from Harlequin/Black Tree Designs. I had another four Black Tree goblins, and sometime in the last year or two I ordered two packs of goblin archers from Warmonger Miniatures. Long story short, once I went through my project box, I now had enough to put together a unit of 20, respectably deployed in two ranks of 10 to maximize how many shots they can fire. 

I also went back and upped the highlights on the original six to bring them more in line with the brighter colors I'd painted the new 14.

And for added content, here's an instance of domestic brinkmanship that occurred last night while I was working on these. Atticus, not content with only being served one helping of "Greenies" dental treats, decided to make himself at home on my painting table in hopes I'd try to bribe him into staying away from my figures.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Da Red Bastids - 25 Orc Boyz

 Back in 2021, as part of the 4th Old World Army Challenge, I painted two blocks of 12 Orcs from Warmonger Miniatures. I love the pot-bellied, barefoot aesthetic of these orcs, as well as the sheer variety of sculpts available (including plenty of nose-pickers and raspberry-blowers!). 12 figures set these up nicely as units that could be used for Dragon Rampant or Warlords of Erewhon, but I knew if I ever wanted to play WHFB, Kings of War or Oathmark with this army, I'd need to bulk the units up. November 2022, I decided to finally do just that and purchased an extra 26 Orcs during Warmonger's Christmas sale. I painted three figures in January, got sick of using brush-on primer, and decided to wait until the weather warmed up and dried out so I could spray prime the rest.

Over the past week, I finished up the first unit, including a new banner and new shields (also from Warmonger) because I didn't want to be fussed trying to remember where the shields I'd used for the original 12 came from and getting more (I'm pretty sure they were WHFB 6th edition Skeleton shields, actually). No longer "Dem Lads Ova Dere" or "the Beans Regiment," they are reborn as Da Red Bastids tribe.

I even did the smart thing and numbered their bases so that I can rank them back up like this in the future.

Friday, May 5, 2023

A Few Good Orcs

 I've been hard at work at my painting table almost every night for the past week; I've finished five more Warmonger orcs for the first block of 25 Orc Boyz, as well as based the three I painted back in January. That puts me at 20 figures completed, and the last five got primed today. I'm going to redo the unit's shields so that the new recruits match the figures I painted back in 2021, and then I'll post the full regiment once it's completed.

I've gotten a few other orcs finished though, which I will show off:

So this is one of the original orcs I painted in 2021, but I was never super happy with his banner. "Eat Yer Beans" was a weird sort of surreal joke, the idea being the regiment of big, oafish orc galoots had one brain cell between them and it wasn't this guy's turn with it when he painted the banner. It always needed explaining and I was never particularly happy with the flat cream color. Now he's got a very old-school design, though maybe less "Evil Sunz" and more "Mildly Disappointed Sunz" in execution. Either way I'm much happier with this. 

This Orc standard bearer is originally from Heartbreaker Miniatures, sculpted by Kev Adams in the mid-90s, and is currently available through Ral Partha Europe. I'm debating whether he'll be the army's Battle Standard Bearer or replace the current standard of the "Old Guard," a regiment of assorted figures from the late 80s and early 90s that I started in January 2022. He was painted back in January of this year but I finally painted a banner for him tonight. I'm super pleased with how this turned out; the green stippling behind the head really worked out well and the face has a lot more expression than the Mildly Disappointed Sun above. 

Next up is a Savage Orc Shaman that was originally released for WHFB 6th edition in 2000; 6th edition was my introduction to the concept of wargaming and miniature painting, and while I have a strong preference for Oldhammer aesthetics and attitudes, there's something about some of the 6th edition orcs that pulls on my nostalgia strings. I never had this guy back then (as a 14 year old whose prior hobby experience was model airplanes when I first walked into a GW store, I had a strong preference for plastic back then, and only painted a very small handful of metal Warhammer models), but I picked him up on eBay maybe a year or two ago. 

He ended up being a blast to paint, and I'm really happy with how the bone came out, the way his tattoos came out, and little things like the inflammation around his piercings just makes me really happy. All the metal on him is painted as copper except for a handful of talismans on his wand that looked like they were intended to be of dwarven make, which I painted as silver. Also I finished his base after this photo was taken.

I think he's a Mark Bedford sculpt, to go along with the range of Savage Orc Boyz he sculpted for Games Workshop in 2000 for 6th edition; I scored a dozen of those off eBay last week, including two-thirds of the command group; I'll be getting the primed ones and the single painted one in stripper this week in preparation for painting the group myself. I'll have to look into sourcing a champion and maybe a few more Boyz for the unit; it would pull my Oldhammer army in a slightly more Middle-LateHammer direction, but they're attractive figures and a block of 16 (Shaman, full command and 12 rank-and-file) would look nice in my collection. 

This generation of Savage Orcs doesn't seem to get much love or attention at all; there's a lot of pictures online of the early-90s Savage Orcs from 4th edition WHFB, and of the plastic kit that succeeded this line (which is still in production for Age of Sigmar, rebranded as "Savage Orruks" because GW is copyright-happy), but there's not a lot of pictures and info on these figures. They're much, much bigger than the "Barbarian Orcs" I have from Harlequin/Black Tree Design (primed and awaiting paint...*cough*) so I'm a lot more confident trying to do things like paint their furs as tigerskin with these.