Alternative Armies Crystal Elf Empire Dragoon

Just a quick post here. Wanted to show the first of my Alternative Armies Crystal Elf Empire models painted up. This is one of the dragoons and I’m quite chuffed with how it’s turned out. Got another two to do. Being dragoons I’m tempted to get the mounted versions too but I should probably focus on getting the handful of models I already have painted.

Original Post


Grenadier Foot Knights

A quick post to show a couple of old Grenadier Miniatures foot knights that I recently painted up. The one on the right was painted a while back, possibly over a year ago at this point. I’ve had four other knights base coated and gathering dust ever since. The other week I decided it was time to change that sorry state of affairs and get another painted. That rapidly turned into me getting two done thanks to these being pretty straight forward models.

I originally bought these back in the early 90’s on the strength of a review in Games Master International magazine. They made up a full unit of 15 knights and were a part of my poorly thought out Bretonnian army. It’s really nice to see these few given a new lease of life. Two more waiting in the wings but for now I have other things I want to work on.

Original Post


Alternative Armies Crystal Elf Empire Miniatures Review

I recently acquired a handful of Crystal Elf Empire models from Alternative Armies and thought they deserved a little review. I remember these models being released in 1991 and being advertised and reviewed in Games Master International. Here’s ye olde full page ad in GMI issue 15 from October 1991, the last issue of the magazine sadly.

These models stood out at the time because they had a Napoleonic influence to their design, not to be confused with AA’s Flintloque range though which are fantasy Nappys. The Crystal Elves certainly stood out next to the competition and I rather liked them although I never bought any given my limited pocket money. Too many toys, not enough money. Completely forgot about them as time went by until a couple of  years ago when I re-collected all the old issues of GMI and saw the ads again. Thankfully Alternative Armies still have them in production and the range features more models than I was aware of.

Moving onto the models I’ve actually got here it’s just a small selection that I’m going to make into a Frostgrave inspired warband. First up is a set of Garde Infantry.

Two spearmen (spearelves?) and an officer. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the size of them and how much heft they have. From the pictures I thought they might be quite slender and with older figure ranges there’s always the possibility that they might be on the smaller side of 28mm. They’re very much 28mm from foot to eye and are actually a bit bigger than some of the competition at the time. All very satisfying. Lovely clean sculpts, nice clear detail and the officer is just a fantastic looking figure. My only criticism is that his sword is a little short so I might try and rectify that before painting him. The faces are quite caricatured but I love that and it gives them a pompous arrogance that sits so well with the finery of their uniforms.

Next is a set of dismounted Dragoons.

Being dragoons they have mounted versions but I was keen to get the foot versions. Slightly more practical uniforms here than on the Garde Infantry, much more suited to skirmishing. Their helmets are a nice touch of finery though and the officer with sword and shield certainly looks the part. I really like the poses of these models. I’d be tempted to extend the length of their quivers a little though. I think casting limitations may have lead to the rather short length.

Finally there’s an elf warrior and a sorceress.

I really like the elf warrior, the pose and clothing look great. He’s a little less Napoleonic inspired I’d say but fits in really well. The face makes it for me though. There’s a hint of cruelty there along with the arrogance which just screams Melnibonean. The sorceress also has that similar look to her face and is one of the models from the range that is a more traditional fantasy looking elf. There are some subtle patterns on her robes that will need careful painting to make the most of. She comes with a staff that I’d say is optional as she looks great as is. If fitting the staff though the hands aren’t quite designed for it so I’d be inclined to cut the thumb off and add a new one with putty to make the hand actually grasp it properly.

And a few pics to show them alongside a few other models from the day to see how they size up.

Here’s a 1980’s Citadel elf and an early 90’s Bretonnian foot knight.

A Citadel Empire hero from around 1992 and a Grenadier foot knight from the early 90’s.

The whole Crystal Elf Empire range has 20 odd packs of models, just under half are the Napoleonic inspired types and the rest are more traditional fantasy elves which look like they mix together pretty well to be honest. What’s rather useful is that you can also buy all the models individually so you can build up full units of identical models quite easily. Prices are pretty good in this day and age working out at £2 a figure for most infantry (the sorceress is £3) and cavalry are £3 or £4 each depending on the model. There are also discounts for multiple pack purchases. Well worth checking out.

Original Post


Bretonnian standard bearer – revisited!

More shameless copy and pasting from my Facebook page because it’s late and I can’t be arsed to rewrite everything. There are two posts cobbled together here so let’s get into it:


Anybody remember this chap?

I must have painted him a couple of years ago as part of my Bretonnian foot knight command but I never got around to painting the banner. I hate painting banners as I find it awkward in comparison to painting figures. Anyway, having decided to move onto getting some more fantasy stuff painted I thought I’d better try and finish this off and fill that empty slot in my unit.

Just base coats at the moment but thought I’d show how I’ve got a nice clean edge to the quarters. I use Scotch Magic Tape to mask the area. It’s easy to tear by hand and isn’t horribly sticky which means it’s great for masking. I made sure to press the tape down hard along the edge to be painted to avoid it bleeding under. Got to make sure the painted areas are good and dry though as they can still lift off when removing the tape. It makes the process quite slow going and only once did I have to retouch a small area that peeled after not following my own advice. Make sure the paint isn’t too watery to also help reduce the chance of it bleeding through but don’t apply it too thickly either or you’ll leave a ridge when the tape comes off.

I’ll shape the banner before I highlight it. It’s a piece of sheet metal (tomato puree tube) and the paint copes perfectly well with the flexing. Then I’ll have to print off some decals for the lions and go through all that rigmarole. This might all get done fairly quickly or it could take a while, I’ve no idea but I am going to get it finished this time.


I’m slowly progressing with my Bretonnian foot knight standard bearer. I needed a little decoration to pop on the end of the flag pole so I decided to replicate the fleur-de-lis that I used on another Bretonnian standard.

This is the green stuff press mould that I made a few years ago. The original part was cut from a 5th edition Bretonnian standard. I used a mix of green stuff and Milliput white in the mould. A little cooking oil stops the putty sticking.

Once dry pop it out of the mould and clean up the flash. It’s not a bad reproduction. If I’d used just Milliput I could have filed the edges a bit sharper but it’ll look fine once painted up.

There’s a quick snap of a little of the painting I’ve been doing on the flag too. Unfortunately the highlighting and shading that should give some added shape to the flag is completely washed out in the photo. But it’s evidence that I’ve not dumped it in favour of doing something easier again. Still need to work on the front of the flag before printing off some lion rampant decals.

Original Post


Ion Age Retained Knight Noble

Quick and lazy post here, mostly copy/pasted from my Facebook page.

Found this part finished and stuffed in a tray of models recently. It’s an Alternative Armies/Ion Age Retained Knight Noble in 28mm. I started it perhaps a couple of years ago, wasn’t entirely happy with it and just put it to one side. Decided it was time to give him a new lease of life and get it finished off. I repainted a few things and retouched some scratches and chips.This model is a bit bigger than the regular knights and a fair lump of metal in comparison to a space marine of pretty much the same era (yeah, I know MK7 marine armour was in by then).

 I remember these models first being released in the very early 90’s when they were sold as Free Company Crusaders. Loved the look of the armour but never got around to buying any until I bagged a bunch on Ebay a few years back.

At some point I’d like to paint up a full squad of these but I’ve got plans to paint more fantasy stuff so that will have to wait.

Original Post


Urban War Viridian Strike Team

With the more recent additions to my Urban War strike team I thought it would be worth showing a photo of the whole lot together. Now unfortunately I don’t have a nice table top to photograph them on, nor do I have any terrain to at least use as a backdrop so it’s just a crappy display cabinet pic.

This seems like a good point to leave the project at for now. I really want to get some fantasy stuff painted up for a change so I’m quite happy with how the strike team looks and if I were to ever get a game in I’d have plenty of troops here to choose from. It’s not done though and I do plan at some point to add some additional bits and pieces. I’ve got a bazooka team that would be nice to add as a different support weapon, a few more snipers, a 3 man squad of urban interdict drop troops, 2 more named characters and of course that saurian rider at the back could do with a couple of chums. And beyond that I could still add more troops to give even more options or bulk the force out into a full army for Metropolis.

Original Post


Urban War Colonial Marine conversion

Another quick post to show my Urban War colonial marine conversion all painted up. A couple of months ago I posted pics of this guy:

Long story short for those not following my little project, I wanted to have a marine armed with a heavy gauss rifle but didn’t care for the sculpt currently available as it doesn’t fit well with my older sculpts so I converted one. Been really keen to get him painted up and finally with my special forces guys done I had the time to fit him in.

Really pleased with the end result and here he is with the rest of the squad. I think I need to take a pic of the whole strike team now.

Original Post


Urban War Viridian special forces, again.

Quick post to show the latest additions to my Urban War strike team. Following on from the special forces trooper I posted last time I’ve painted up another trooper and a sergeant to make a three man team.

And the group shot:

Really chuffed to have these done. I can now move onto painting up the HGR marine conversion I did.

Original Post


Urban War colonial marine commander & conversion work

I’ve been busy painting all sorts of stuff on the commission side of things but I’m still slowly expanding my Urban War strike team as well. I think this project interests me more than anyone else really but I’m sticking with it.

Recently I finished painting up my first named character and commander for the team, Lieutenant Johnny G. This model was originally released under the Void line but was one of a few that were transferred directly over into Urban War. Really nice sculpt and it’s great to finally have a proper command model in the mix.

I also started work on a special forces trooper. I’ve got two of these guys and a sergeant I want to add but they sat for ages gathering dust because I wanted to paint them in camo but wasn’t sure how to tackle it. I must have made four attempts on one model and just wasn’t happy with either the colour or my execution of the design. I had a few drinks, picked up one of the other models and the camo came together instantly! Here’s a WIP courtesy of Vallejo paints and Smirnoff vodka.

I have since done a bit more work on him and may actually get him finished later tonight. Hopefully the second trooper will come together quickly now I know what I’m doing with the colour scheme. I think I might put the sergeant off until a little later though as I’ve got another model I’m really keen to get painted.

One support trooper I was short of is a colonial marine heavy gauss rifle gunner. I think these weapons fall somewhere between a standard gauss rifle and a heavy machine gun. There are two models available with HGRs but they’re later sculpts and as such they don’t quite match up with my preferred earlier models. Of course the only option was to convert a model.

Obviously the original sculpt is on the left and in the third pic you can see the HGR from a saurian mounted marine that I modelled my conversion on. Easy enough job to cut the end of the rifle off. The gun barrel is a piece of brass tubing, the bit above it is piece of a Bripping Beast wire spear (bought a pack years ago and have been mostly using them as pins) with a Green Stuff iron sight. The hand grip below is a pin with three strips of pewter sheet wrapped around it. I also used pewter sheet for part of the housing and to cover the ammo feed.

The ammo belt is a flexible resin one from Zinge Industries. It’s kind of a rubber material with a piece of wire in the middle to help pose it. I stuck it in place with super glue which really sticks the material well but I did have to make a few attempts at it as I’ve got quite a tight coil there and being rubbery it needed a bit of careful securing so as to not twist and warp too much. To attach it to the gun I cut away the top face of the metal magazine which was a real ball ache. I then cut half of the rear of the end ammo belt block away and then that married up nicely with the gun. The pewter sheet cover tidied it up nicely.

The ammo box on the back required one of the packs to be cutaway from the model. Easy job. The box itself was made from two bits of thick metal sprue from a set of Junkers back packs (an opposing faction in Urban War for those not familiar with the game). I had to rip it off after fixing it in place though as the ammo belt didn’t fix securely initially. I ended up cutting a chunk out and gluing the belt into it. For the sake of neatness I put a piece of pewter sheet over the front of the box and it covered the belt join. I also added a bit of lid detail with more sheet material. A bent pin made a good handle too.

I’m not much of a converter but I’m really pleased with how this has come out and I think once painted it’ll look the part. So there we go, that’s my strike team update. Still more models I really want to add, not that many to be fair but I am a bit slow to get these done so I’m sure it’ll take a while to get the team ‘finished’.

Original Post


Urban War Shock Marine

Those who have been following what I do for a while might remember that quite some time ago I re-worked and added to my Urban War Viridian strike team. I painted a couple of shock marines at the time, started a third, a sergeant and then left him to gather dust. A familiar story I’m sure. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I dusted him off and cracked on with getting him done.

I should point out that this is a very minor conversion of the original model. I replaced the head with a Hasslefree Miniatures one from one of their head sprues. Also, the shield is from one of the later shock marine sculpts. They have a little extra detail on them, mainly on the back which I prefer over the original plain ones. Same deal pretty much with the other two shock marines except I swapped their heads for the later version shock marine sculpts.

A fair bit of freehand on this guy which is something I usually try and avoid although in this case it came together surprisingly easily. I guess I must have had plenty of practice on the previous two models. I did the ‘V’ wing insignia, sergeants stripes and of course the shield. For those interested I took a few WIP pics as I painted the shield just to show the process. I’ll lazily copy and paste my write up from Facebook here too.

1. The green used a base mix of VMC Russian Uniform WW2 and VMC Olive Brown (used to be called US Olive Drab). This was highlighted with more Russian Uniform and then had some VGC Desert Yellow added. This was highlighted more on the right side as the shield was going to be mounted sideways on the model. When dry it was given a wash mix of GW Agrax Earthshade and GW Nuln Oil. I lightly painted in the outlines of the stripe and numbers with VMC German Camo Beige WW2.

2. With the markings roughly in place I filled them in and neatened them up with Camo Beige.

3. The markings were highlighted by adding VMC Stone Grey to give them a bit of depth. Like the shield highlights these were weighted to the right side of the shield.

4. With the green mix I painted chips and scratches onto the markings.

5. Reinforced corners and vision slit got a base coat mix of VMA Steel and VMC Olive Brown and quickly highlighted up with more Steel. Eagle had a base mix of VMC Old Gold and Olive Brown highlighted with more Gold and then some Steel. I applied a paint wash mix of VGC Charred Brown and VGC Imperial Blue over the metals and the shield face. Rust was built up by adding VGC Parasite Brown to the wash mix and used on the metals and in the recesses. Dirt was built up on the bottom of the shield with the washes but also by stippling Olive Brown paint. Finally steel was used to create chipping on all the edges and a few small chips on the shield face.

Of course, to round things off there’s the obligatory group shot of all three marines ready to face the cold dead void of my measly display unit.


Original Post


RBG Norse & things I forgot to post

As the title says, I’ve got more Red Box Games Norse models painted as part of an on going and quite large commission. This is a set of multipart models equipped with two hand weapons a piece. I’m not sure if these are currently available as they weren’t in the RBG web store when I checked the other week. Could have been from a Kickstarter some time ago. Anyway, really powered through these to get them done in double quick time as there are more models waiting to be done for this army.

Then there are a couple of things that I forgot to post from previous weeks. There’s another set of Copplestone Castings Tupi warriors from another casual on going commission. I’ve already done a few sets of archers and a set of chieftains. This time it’s warriors with whatever those weapons are called.

Finally there’s a pair of GW Black Library characters, Max Schreiber and Snorri. I’ve already painted Felix and Gotrek, and the female character whose name escapes me right now so these were commissioned to go with those models.

Both models were sent to me in original foil packs but there was a hilarious packing error with Snorri. I tore the top off the packet but rather than a violent dwarf being inside, two Cadian Lieutenants dropped out onto my desk top! Bemusing, hilarious and rather gutting for the owner. No chance of getting a replacement from GW on a 12 year old OOP model. Thankfully one was found on Ebay but was missing the base which I ended up cobbling together myself.

Original Post