I've always wanted to model a War Monster and last January I finally did it.
The incitement for this project was reading Saga: Age of Magic (2019) by Alex Buchel and Fred Machu. Saga has been one of my favourite rule-sets since the first edition sprung on our hobby in 2011. Age of Magic adapts the second edition for fantasy skirmish games. One of the strengths of the book is that the authors give their imagination free reign when it comes to units: besides great dragons and giants, there are rules for fielding the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse or Hern's Wild Hunt. But most intriguing for me were the rules for one gigantic beast who swarms with drivers, archers, and crew. I was hooked by the requisite dimensions for the model: a base between 8 and 12 inches long. Since Saga games usually occur on a 3x4 foot board, this single miniature would occupy a huge part of the available real-estate. A real monster!
|Rules from Saga: The Age of Magic (2019)|
Of course, it wasn't Saga that first gave me the idea for the great beast. One of my favourite books when I was a small child was Steven Kellogg's The Wicked Kings of Bloon (1970). This priceless gem of a book features two obnoxious brothers who go to war with each other by arming and armoring great dinosaur-like monsters. The brothers' struggle for domination is brought to an abrupt end when their dinosaurs decide that they'd rather cuddle than fight:
|Illustration by Steven Kellogg from The Wicked Kings of Bloon (1970)|
And then, of course, there's White Dwarf #100 (April 1988). This special anniversary edition featured the work of the German modeler Michael Immig, whose incredible dioramas captured the attention of John Blanche when they met in Hamburg. Michael's "Fighting Dinosaur" is more than a model - more than even a work of art. It is a shamanistic fetish constructed out of chestnut shells, mouse bones, old buttons and fir cones (not to mention an Airfix Brontosaurus and innumerable Citadel miniatures).
I could never emulate the complexity and beauty of the "Fighting Dinosaur". But I did take from it the idea that a great beast's howdah should be a ship-like construction, complete with look-out tower and different decks.
|White Dwarf #100|
Ultimately, I decided to do something simple. I wanted a model that could be used for different settings: an orcish beast for Saga, a piece of moving scenery in Warhammer 40K, an exotic adversary for Star Wars skirmish games.
To ensure a variety of different miniatures could stand (or even fight) on the howdah, I tried to make it broad and easily accessible, without many railings, walls and other accessories that might get in the way. I didn't want a diorama so much as a functional model.
The beast itself in a plastic dinosaur from Amazon. I added a few choice details with greenstuff and brass chain, and then primed him black. The painting was dead simple: I brought out the colour with successive layers of drybrushing over his rough scales.
The howdah is an amalgamation of balsa wood and popsicle sticks welded together with industrial quantities of superglue and greenstuff. I think I could sit on it and it wouldn't snap.
Overall, I'm pleased with the results, especially when it's loaded down with Krapfang's Orcs.
Now I just need to see how it plays in a game of Saga...