Archive for March 21st, 2011

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.

Council of Wyrms Red

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.

Glued, based, filled, and ready to paint

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!

Has there ever been a pink dragon?

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.

The Huge Red Dragon Ydraiggoch in all his Glory

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.

Bohemian defends his territory against huge Ydraiggoch

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Angus Bloodbear, Finn MacCool, and Amergin Ghostraven

Continuing the annual tradition of bringing Irish legend into our St Patricks game session, this time around we delved back further into the Irish myths and legends of their age of heroes. The main characters of our story had just saved the three children of wizard Obitello Amber, Xvart, Ismelda, and Isolda from the hellish fate of the devil infestation in the dungeons beneath Chateau Amber. The completion of the quest required a few days of rest while the enchanter repaid them in magical enchantments to their arms and armour.

One afternoon on the tropical Isle it began to snow. Since the isle was connected to the feywild this was not as unusual as it might seem, but when the death-cattle Camus the catoblepas made an appearance they knew something was up. Camus told them it was Beltaine eve, a magical time in the feywild when many return home for days of revelry. Camus reminded them to stay true to their friends, and also told them cryptically, of the tradition to drive cattle between two bonfires to purify and pacify them.

Soon after the death cattle left, the baying of hounds was heard, then the thunder of the chariots and the squeal of their wooden axles as 4 giant chariots hove into view. One was pulled by a massive white six legged stallion, and from it jumped a smiling elf of giant size. He introduced himself as Finn MacCool, chief of the fionna, or bandit gang. Next stepped out a regally robed and bearded man who rode a chariot pulled by a great wolf. He was Amergin Ghostraven the bard and boon companion of Finn. Old King Conchobar Hounder was pulled by a giant sure footed goat, and lastly, young Angus the Bear, whose wild golden curls and over-powering musk led all the ladies to swoon for him. His chariot was pulled by a great bear of course, a second or third cousin of the primal bear-druid.

They announced Xvart had been chosen to go on the Wild Hunt, and that the heroes may accompany them if they chose. (Aside: a side quest was that Obitello hoped they might recover the philosphers crown) Luckily they (grudgingly) agreed to go!

They first must divide into two teams of three and each team chose their chariot. Poppy, Ria and Hex chose the sure-footed goar, while Sharia, Thokk, and Felipe chose the bear. One acted as driver, one acted as navigator, and the other was the animal handler. Soon they were off and the snow became steady and the temerature dropped. They crossed the lake, then pssed through the bog and were soon into deep dark woods. Finn pulled close and pointed ahead to a star formation. “That be the ladies crown. We go to me cousing Queen Medb who resides at Tara! It lies just below the green jewel thar in the crown! We’ll race to the finish if you’ve the stomcah for it!” He whooped and Finn threw a spear into the wheels of one chariot while old King Conchobar fouled the other chariot. They sped away while the heroes chariots spun to a stop.

So began a race over a river, through woods, they had to jump a ravine and at one point Amergin cast a lightning bolt that opened upo a ravine before them. The chariots wheeled and careened and then the second chariot pulled forward, even with Finn as they came to the straightaway, with the tall hill of Tara looming up before them. It was deemed a tie but Finn MacCool handed out solme gifts for the great run.

When they dismounted before Queen Mebd and her ward young Brigid, Xvart and the maiden exchanged glances and fell instantly in love. When they found a moment together she gave him her ring, but told him to hide it. Meanwhile it was time for the salmon catch at the stream and everyone was invited. As they were getting ready to dive into the water, stripping themselves of excess clothing, one of the PCs noticed old King Conchobar standing near Xvarts clothing, and with his big toe, he flipped open Xvarts purple vest and out rolled Brigids promise ring. Conchobar flicked the ring into the stream with hiss toe and the most amazing thing happened. A salmon leapt out of the water, likely to catch the jeweled fly, and instead swallowed the ring. The PCs finally managed to catch the ring, and that night, Finn MacCool announced he would take her as his wife as she had come of age on Beltaine and had no promised love.

Eventually Felipe returned the ring to Xvart and the two were able to be together, but Finn MacCool was angry and felt betrayed. Brigid gave Felipe another of her rings as they left to continue their hunt. They had to cross a ford, and at the ford a strong but young warrior named Cuchulainn stopped them and would not let them pass until he was defeated. Poppy tried but was vanquished at first blood, but Thokk finished the deed. Now they were lead into small boxed in coanyon, snow and ice covered, where Donn Culaingne, a death cattle much like Camus the catoblepas, though smaller, waited near a pair of bonfires. He agreed to side with the party against the giant elves who were preparing to attack.

The fight was long but intense, as the heroes fought against the four giant elves, and the four chariot mounts who transformed into 4 huge hounds. When Finn was slain, the catoblepas Donn Culaigne decided tostrikle out on his own and be owned by no man, he also betrayed the party by attacking first Poppy then Hex, but Hex drove the cattle back through the bonfires, pacifying the cattle. Felipe went down under the attack of the hounds as she stood at the entrance to the canyon and would not let them pass. Finn went down, then Angus went down, then a hound or two, and eventually old King Conchobar called a retreat with him and Amergin and the surviving hound even as the snow and ice began to melt and the sun rose on the dawn after Beltaine. Strange night indeed.

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