Friday, July 11, 2014

Citadel Monsters: Testicles, Spectacles, Wallet and Watch

During the 1980's, Citadel made some of the best monsters that have been rendered in lead. The reason for their success is simple: they were sculpted to emphasize personality and character. A harpy isn't just a harpy -- it's a harpy that looks like Ronald Reagan. A dragon isn't just a dragon -- it's a potbellied drake with a pocket watch, half lizard and half merchant banker. And a giant isn't just a giant -- it's a knuckle-dragging Scots cyclops.

The Citadel giant (1987) was a lot of fun to paint. I wanted to make him seem old and unhygenic, but also robust, a little like Boris Yeltsin in his sunset years. I tried to achieve this sozzled effect by covering his pink skin with veins, wrinkles and liver spots. To underline his struggles with the bottle, I gave him a bloodshot eye and a nose ravaged by rosacea. I also added a cask of brandy to his belt and another discarded on the ground. The nearby toadstools are greenstuff and wire -- the dead bush is a painted twig from a smokebush tree.

There was one thing that troubled me about this miniature: he was wearing a short kilt, but there was nothing underneath it. This seemed a rare oversight on the part of sculptor Nick Bibby and a slander to Scotsmen everywhere.  And so to remedy this anatomical omission, I fashioned a little set of tackle out of greenstuff, and carefully pared it back with my modelling knife. The key was to achieve a sense that even though time has made this fellow sag, he is still proud of the family tartan.

Perhaps you'd like a close-up?

The Blue Dragon (1987) is another beauty of a miniature. I love the fact that it isn't slithering or rearing or launching into the old claw/claw/bite routine. Rather, this dragon is merely squatting and looking at the viewer through narrow, crafty eyes. The raised claws suggest that perhaps it is getting ready to cast a spell (a truly unusual pose for a dragon). But I prefer to think that this dragon just likes to talk. "Hmmm," he seems to be saying, "You seem to be a smart sort of fellow. I've a real estate opportunity in Florida for your ears only."

"Coffee's for closers only."

I love Jes Goodwin's Manticore (1987) because his face bears a striking resemblance to Dee Snider from Twisted Sister. In order to do justice to this magnificent sculpture, I tried to make him look as much like a hair-metal lead man as possible.  To emphasize his grimace, muscles and feathered hair, I used a very aggressive highlighting technique.

The wings and tail of the manticore display the pleasing effect that can be achieved simply by dry-brushing a carefully sculpted metal miniature. But something is missing... No glam rocker is complete without a spattering of leopard print, so I decided to make this particular manticore a lion in the front and leopard in the back. The leopard pattern isn't difficult to achieve: start with a base of tan brown, highlighted up to a desert yellow. Add some splotches of orange which are are then (very) roughly bordered by dots and curves of medium-dark brown paint. Now he's ready for the Hammersmith Apollo!

"We're not going to take it anymore!"


  1. Spectacular work, balls and all.
    The Giant is absolutely repulsive, the intermingled stream of snot and drool really tops it off.
    I'd be a lot more concerned if that guy was coming towards me than the current WHFB Giant, that's for sure ( and that's just above the belt!)

    I agree with everything you said about the Dragon, the timepiece is a curious addition too and it lends him an additional layer of intrigue.

    As for the Manticore, I was trying to think of a way to slyly reference Twisted Sister's "Under The Blade" in this comment but had to settle for a blunt and obvious mention instead.

  2. That's probably THE best painted citadel giant I have ever laid eyes on! The filth & grime effect you've achieved on his face is fantastic!

    Regarding his tackle; I've got an old citadel FF troll (I think it was in the first release) that I neutered, as I thought it was "unsportsmanlike" to be showing your wares while your trying to bash you opponents face in. But after seeing your giants "Brighton Rock", I think I might reinstate his....albeit in a chaotic fashion.

    The dragon paint job looks great, except, I'm not sure if you noticed, but there's quite a large casting line right down the middle of his belly. Sometimes you think you've cleaned then all up & then when you paint the little bastard's up they pop up out of nowhere!

    You're definitely a much better painter that I, and for that, I'm eternally envious of your abilities :p


  3. Hey "the one" - thanks for all the encouragement and feedback! I remember that old Citadel troll with the ugly dingaling - I think he was one of the "D&D style" trolls. I had him as a kid and remember being scandalized, as only an 11 year old can, but his immodesty.
    And you're quite right about that casting line. Now that you've pointed it out, it's pretty hard not to see it... but somehow I either missed it before, or refused to acknowledge its existence once the miniature was half-painted. Ouch. Well, that's what happens when you combine miniature painting and heavy drinking. Let that be a warning to all the kiddies out there... stay away from the Crabbies.

  4. Also I don´t know all these miniature, mainly because at the time they have been produced I preffered Playmobil and Lego :) Nevertheless it´s a pleasure to discover them through your blog and enjoy the stunning paintjobs you gave them.

  5. Was the harpy meant to look like RR? I always just assumed it was that same face Bob Olley puts on all his figures... is he a fan of RR?