Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Mirky Dozen: Elf Help

As mentioned in a previous post, if there’s one thing The Hobbit Too, Desultation of Smaug did for me, it was inspire me to work on another Tolkien project. Now, I have my old Grenadier figures, of course, but they can wait for another day. Instead, last year’s Oaken’s Twelve worked so well that I’m going to attempt another conversion-repainting project on some of Games Workshop’s old Lord of the Rings line. Why? Well, I’m seriously unlikely to buy any more GW product, much less their Hobbit line. Some lovely work in there, to be sure, but to put it succinctly, priced outside a justifiable budget. Not to worry, though, as I do have a back-up, and once again it comes from GW’s latter-day post-LotR movies, pre-Hobbit movies push, where all manner of appendices and marginal material from the Rings books were worked into lead and plastic to expand the Middle Earth war gaming world, if not actually pre-empt a Hobbit movie. No, really, I’m sure.

GW’s Wood Elves are a case in point: elf models had been created for the Fellowship of the Ring movie tie-in, but they were usually the High Elves of the movie’s flashbacks to the Last Alliance, so were appropriately armoured and High Elf looking. Also created were some unarmoured Lothlorien Elves, but it wasn’t until well after the trilogy was complete that some affordable plastic Wood Elves were made, for GW’s ‘Fall of the Necromancer’ supplement. These Elves were ostensibly supposed to represent either Lothlorien (i.e. Galadriel’s) forces, or Thranduil’s Rhovanion/Mirkwood crowd. Sculpted by the Perry Brothers, they’re… fine. But that’s about it. As I recall on their release there were lots of gripes, particularly after the quality of the Dwarf models of the Khazad Dum range. Instead, the Perrys’ Wood Elves are light on detail, odd in posture, and just a little bit bland. Plus, they’re waaay too small, being dwarfed not only by their lead counterparts, but also the Mordor Orcs they would presumably be fighting. All in all, a disappointing set, and once I painted half of mine, I didn’t bother with the rest - heck, I didn't even base the ones I did finish.

Until now, that is. I’m going to convert these bad boys, and this is my new project: The Mirky Dozen. Here are my figures as they are now – not painted in the Shadow Greys and Catachan Greens of GW’s box art, but something a little more bright and, well, a touch Christmassy now I see it: That paint job will go, and I'm thinking I’ll instead base their new colour scheme on GW’s Mirkwood Rangers set, the new Hobbit release. I do like those new models, but even at 70$ for half the number of figures I have of my Wood Elves, I’m not going to go there. Instead I’ll be relying on some slight re-posing, additional green stuff and more imaginative basing to ‘Mirk’ them up. Beyond the GW set, I’ll be drawing some inspiration from Weta’s design books, the movies themselves, the invaluable wisdom and work of other modellers, and maybe also GW’s own Warhammer Fantasy line of Wood Elves, which have some rather cool elements in themselves. Where I can (as I did with Oaken’s Twelve) I’ll also consult Tolkien’s original text to give me some more ideas. Hopefully this job will be quicker than the Dwarf project, and there’ll be fewer posts as a result. Wish me luck!

[Post Script: As for Oaken's Eleven the title may be misleading number-wise, as a Mirkwood-themed project seems to me to offer a good deal more to paint than just twelve tetchy plastic midgets]


  1. Do you put all these characters in full dioramas?

  2. Good question! These ones I actually might - chiefly to bump up their height if I can (they'll be perched on whatever works on their individual bases otherwise), but maybe also because I'd quite like to flex my muscles on some scenery again!

  3. I was at a model railway exhibition a couple of weeks ago, and it was cool to see so many dioramas, ranging from cheap, store-bought, and boring, through to detailed, accurate, and creative.

  4. You can't beat a good diorama, and model railways ones tend to run the whole range - must be the scale. I reckon my interest in miniature worlds could actually be traced back to seeing the indoor model railways at Kettle Park on trips to Dunedin as a kid...