Hasslefree Miniatures’ dwarf hero Gromli had been sitting in my collection for quite a while now. As is often the case, I had liked him from first glance and picked him up with a random assortment during one of the company’s sales. I knew he would find a home in my collection one day and his stalwart stare and solid pose marked him as a dwarf possessing serious leadership skills.
Once I began thinking about building my regiment of crossbow armed Ironwatch I knew I wanted him to lead them, Gromli’s Gang. That he is armed with a great weapon and carrying a shield on his back rather than a crossbow seemed minor issues especially as Hasslefree has a great selection of bits and pieces for converting and personalizing miniatures. I’m still considering how I might best use the lovely sets of helmet wings they tossed into one of my orders last year. I try to add a couple crossbow armed dwarfs and some extra weapons packs to every order so have developed quite a little “bits box” of Hasslefree pieces as well as enough troopers to build another Kings of War regiment (twenty soldiers strong in the rules). It took little to no effort to shave down the nub on Gromli’s back, used for attaching the shield, and cover the spot with a crossbow and quiver of bolts.
The standard bearer was a pretty straight forward conversion being a weapon swap (for the banner pole) and removal of another shield nub from his left arm. That was just a matter of drilling out the hand when I drilled the wrist for a connector pin and gluing a griffin headed top on the pole. After he was finished and primed I realized the banner pole was way too tall to fit into the foam tray I already set aside for storing the unit so had to remove it from the hand, cut it down, and reattach it. That done, he was ready, again, for paint. The banner I drew onto a nice piece of 100% cotton paper then painted. After it and the bearer were dry and sealed I cut it out and attached the flag to the pole.
The drummer was a slightly more involved conversion job but very basic in the skills and problem solving employed. The drum is part of a set of instruments I ordered from Reaper Miniatures online store and glued to his front . You can even order individual sprues from the set in the Boneyard section (thanks again, Necron99, for spotting that resource!). I cut the weapon from a right hand before drilling out both hands to hold drum sticks which I made from the discarded spear butts I had cut off to make my longer spears hafts. With a little cutting down they turned out to be perfect for the job at hand, so to speak. Again, a coat of white primer and he was almost ready to start the long roll.
While I was getting the command squad sorted out I was also working on the base. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that standards and musicians no longer serve any purpose other than aesthetic in Kings of War but I think units look much better, more complete, when they are included so will continue to do so in my constructions. Maybe it’s my Oldhammer roots showing, I don’t know, but it is too deeply ingrained for me to change now. So, as before, I used an old, plastic movement tray as the foundation of the unit and combined layers of cork with Scibor Miniatures bases and sculptural details from the same line as my previous units and characters. This helps tie all the units in my force together visually, despite being of mixed manufacture, and adds to the back story of my force patrolling the borders of a shattered dwarf realm. I built up the back half of the base as I pictured the rear ranks aiming over the heads of the front.
After the glue had plenty of time to dry I began coating the surface with Light Weight Wall Spackle. This smooths out rough areas and hides the joins between parts. I also use it to cover details I don’t need, like a lot of the skulls that are scattered around the bases of the statues. Once I start my Abyssal Dwarf units I’m sure I’ll want more of them showing but prefer to keep them to a minimum with my traditional dwarfs. While the spackling was still wet I pressed in ground charcoal I harvest from water filters. It makes for great surface texture and when combined with the spackle creates a solid surface for painting and gluing to. Once everything has dried for twenty four hours I spray primed it white and began applying color.
I am finding that these bases are less about painting and more about weathering, using washes and stains, rather than dry brushing and stippling. I did try to match the tiles and mosaics to what I have already completed but other than that go with my gut reactions for the rest of it. When it was done I flocked the base with an earth tone mix I make before spray sealing it. The plants and grasses would be added after the figures were glued down.
Breaking with my usual habit of only painting a couple figures from any project at once, I worked on six to eight crossbow armed dwarfs at a time as I was excited to get the unit assembled. Besides, my games of Kings of War so far had shown I needed more ranged attack regiments to deal with the hordes of cavalry and pike that Ryan usually fields. This had the side effect of really speeding up my painting through repetition. Now I can churn through four of the quarreler dwarfs in about two hours. That’s going to be helpful as I have a second regiment’s base ready for priming.
Each miniature has the plug on their feet clipped off during prep, a hole is drilled in one of the heels, a wire is glued in place, and the entire thing is attached to an old plastic base with white glue. This holds the figure in place during painting yet comes right off before I attach them to the unit base. Much easier than trying to paint everything already attached to begin with. It was at the stage of gluing soldiers down that I realized I needed to paint two to three more to fill in some gaps. The unit just looked a little under manned, so to speak. I’ve got several minis on the table almost finished that I plan to attach as soon as they are done.
In addition to finishing up a few more troops to fill in some gaps I’m going to keep painting them for the second regiment so I can choose to combine them into a horde. I’ve also started a regiment size base for a unit of berserkers I’ve had in mind for a while. Then there are the brock riders I just primed oh and the Warsmiths. Good thing my Abyssal army is still on a boat heading to the US because I have no idea when I would paint them.
Since they are such a good price I had picked up two of Mantic Games’ Dwarf artillery pieces, planning to assemble one of each the Organ Gun and Cannon. Once my friends and I started playing Kings of War I knew I needed to base them as complete units, besides, the Undead catapults had been so much fun to make and paint. I started with the same wooden discs I had picked up for the Balefire bases I had made previously and the assembled miniatures to draw the outline of the siege works I wanted my dwarfs to be entrenched in. I tried to plan for some of the extra bits like powder boxes and beer tankards. I decided this project was the perfect opportunity to paint and use the ancient flame cannon and crew I’d been saving for years so added them to the queue.
While the machines and crews were being painted it was time to start building defensive positions. Back in the day, dwarf armies had engineers that could build fortifications so I’ve always liked the idea of hiding my fragile artillery behind defensive works. Yet another project for using up the scraps and clutter on my desk is always a good thing. I assembled the walls first out of bits of wood and glued planking down where the war machine would be seated. When the walls were dry, I attached them to the base using cork to help hold them in place. This would also be the foundation for the piled up dirt.
Once the glue had all dried I applied light weight spackling to fill in gaps and add texture. Then the extra details were glued into place before priming everything white.
Then I painted them up and textured the bases with mixed flocking. It was while they were drying a thought began forming in the back of my mind.
The units had been through the regular painting process and were waiting to take up residence in their new homes. The flame cannon crew had been finished before I even started their base as I was so excited to have a reason to work on them. I had cut the disc bases off of the feet of the miniatures so they could be glued directly to the base.
First the cannon and crew
Then the Organ Gun and crew were ready to take their posts
First unit painted and the last base finished but finally it was time for the Flame Cannon crew to move their advanced weaponry into place, preferably without any explosions.
Now that I had one of each of the artillery pieces available to my army (the Driller and Behemoth are both Monsters) the earlier thought came to the front of my mind. What about all the war machines I had already painted? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a couple of empty emplacements for pieces from my finished collection? So I built a couple more siege works with beer steins and weapons handy for any crewman I temporarily assign duty there.
So once I saw the power of Indirect Fire used against me by the Kingdoms of Men I knew I was going to need some dwarf bombards of my own and rather than make more bases I think these two will be drafted into use. Of course that means I have to get and paint some Mantic Jarrun Bombards. I’m sure I will end up making more of these especially as Kings of War Second Edition recommends 50mm square bases for war machines. Then again, my attention is already shifting toward Berserkers and Hordes of Bulwarkers so it might not be right away.
Now that I’ve seen what Duane, my Greater Earth Elemental, can do in Kings of War it is clear I need another of these guys. Heck, I need a Horde of Lesser Earth Elementals but am still seeking the right minis. Until then Duane and the guy above will have to hold their own. I am really pleased with these castings and it just reinforces my belief that big things with shallow details is what Bones plastic is best at. Even though they tower over the rest of the army (not hard as they are dwarfs) they are light weight. Add their low cost and they are the perfect choice to add some punch to my dwarf army.
Duane was a fun one to paint and fairly easy to prep not to mention very fast paint job. As with other Bones figures I find it easiest to shave along mold lines with a brand new x-acto blade. The rocky surface made it easy to see most of the imperfections. The new guy on the other hand is all textures and shapes. Of course that also made him quite the enjoyable undertaking. Too bad I don’t have any 25mm squirrels to add on to him.