A while back I was the lucky beneficiary of a friends box of unpainted minis, stowed away in a closet since the very early 90s. Beside some utterly cool PC miniatures, the big prizes in the collection were a pair of Ral Partha dragons. One was the White Dragon, showed off here, and the other was this huge red, from the age of dragons campaign setting. These dragons were known for having unique looks and lots of personality, since they were meant to be player characters. This miniature is dripping with character, from its glaring expression, grasping claws, and upright position, the malevolence of the dragon is palpable.
Here we see it as I got it – partially painted but apart, with some built-up glue buttresses that needed to be removed. I actually had no idea it was a red dragon, and it wasn’t until I did some research that I found out which particular campaign the sculpt recalled – being atypical in its horn and facial formations. Seeing it apart, I was worried the dragon might look strange, sort of like a giant dragon-man, and those huge horny claws – just wow! But my concerns were completely unfounded, as we will see once it is together.
I briefly mentioned my gluing techniques in my article on the white dragon, but to sum it up, I use gorilla glue for most gluing, often with a tiny dot of superglue to hold it in place while the gorilla glue hardens. This dragon is an especially difficult challenge for gluing, as it comes in 7 separate pieces. The gluing process took all of a week to complete, because I made sure one section was FULLY dry before starting on a new section. Word of advice – patience leads to success, try to hurry the process along and I can guarantee there will be issues. On my first night gluing I had both arms together and foolishly decided to push my luck and add the wings – it would have saved me two days! Instead it cost me a day when I knocked off the arms trying to position the wings and had to let it ALL dry, then scrape the glue of and start over the next day. Trust me, do a small bit and move on until it is dry.
Because of the nearness of the wings to the arms and neck, it is important to clean each area of excess glue before starting on the next section. Gorilla glue has a tendency to expand in big bubbles as it dries, but I have found a brand new blade in an X-acto knife is perfect for cleaning up this and any other flash. It is important to keep the blade new and sharp and replace often, as dull blades do not cut or clean as well, and can lead to accidents. You don’t want to put any more pressure on these seams than you have to, so be careful while cleaning up the excess glue. This will expose open areas and gaps that need to be filled, I use a tube of the stuff that looks like model cement in the model aisle, contour putty I believe it is called.
Once the model was completed, I attached it to a huge base I happened to have thanks to the 43 thousand fey crocodiles I have out of the latest miniatures set – blue dragon, hydra, and catapult will be mine if it takes 43 thousand MORE crocodiles to get! Last time I was using a large base, but these fey crocs are easy to cut off their bases and for such a big, heavy miniature, the stability of a huge plastic base is worth the cost of a trashed huge. Then I added some “rubble” from my WW2 diorama supplies – bricks and broken rocks to make it look like the dragon might be standing on a collapsed wall, and painted it all black. I was originally going to go over the rubble with grey, but for now decided to leave it black. Maybe Ydraiggoch lairs in a coal mine, I don’t know!
Then it was time to prime, and I chose fuschia. Part of me wanted to call it quits after the prime coat – that is one swank looking pink dragon.
I used a different method of painting this time, I call it the Layer Method. No washes or drybrushing this time, I simply start with the lowest darkest colors first and work my way up to lighter, higher colors until the whole thing is painted. For example, for the dragons golden breast, after the primer, I covered all areas that would be gold with a thin mixture raw umber. Over the umber I painted classic rich gold, a little thicker mix than the umber, and in the corners, and against the edges, I left some umber showing. This is sort of the reverse of doing a wash. Instead of doing a wash after the main coat, I pre-darken the areas with an under-coat. The result is that the main colors are more vibrant in the end. Finally, I took my lighter titanium gold and lightly touched the raised portions and forward edges, highlighting. For a red dragon, I wanted to keep the vibrancy.
I used a dark red for the under-layer of the dragon, and cherry red on top. For his jewelry, I used copper since I was already using a bunch of gold. I added a choker to the dragon to hide the glue line around his neck, and added the blue gems to the jewelry to help set it off. His claws and horns I did in white, and only his tongue I left in the original fuchsia primer.
This dragon was a great joy to build and paint. The gluing was difficult, and not without its problems, but it can be overcome with patience and gorilla glue. I think I have improved with this dragon and have become somewhat addicted to building and painting dragons.I may need to go online and find another for my next project. I am not sure of the status of Ral Partha, but I have heard some mighty good things about Reaper minis.