Buck A squad of “Space Roomans” See Ma’k Morin’s blog post about Roomans here. Yesterday I painted 13 that Ma’k converted to “space Roomans” by combining parts of a Ral Partha Rooman with the body of a Reaper science fiction figure. I think the conversion was quite effective. One fire team of “Space Roomans” I […]
Some projects take a while – and this one was over 33 years in the making. As background, my first introduction to tabletop wargaming was in 1983 at West Point. My classmate Dave Wood (USMA 1984) introduced me to Buck Surdu (USMA 1985). Buck had set up a fantasy tabletop war game on a gaggle of desks in the Department of Foreign Languages, and from then on, a whole new gaming experience was open to me.
Buck wrote his own rules, and he and Dave had units of all kinds for the game. One type that Buck had was a unit of “Roomans”, which he referred to as “Beaks” as well. They were of course of the marsupial macropod (large foot) persuasion – more or less humanoid kangaroos. Of course, the word play of Romans/Roomans is evident as well. They were armed with pikes, had great movement and combat capabilities, and overall were just pretty cool. I wanted to get some, and every time I went to a hobby store in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I looked for Roomans. I had hardly any luck.
Little did I know back then that Ral Partha had produced only one type of blister pack of “Rooman War Party”, with production starting in 1977. The original numbering of the blister pack was ES-44, and in 1978 and later years that was changed to 01-044. This set was in the “Personalities and Things…That Go Bump in the Night” line from Ral Partha. Each pack in 1977 came with one Rooman with a shield in front, two Roomans with shields on the side, and three assembled pikes on piano wire. By this I mean that the 1977 pack had pikes that were in one piece with streamers rolled up under the business end of the pike. Later, Ral Partha changed the pikes to a two-piece type, where the point of the pike had smaller streamers coming off and would need to be glued to a piece of enclosed piano wire. This latter type was the most prevalent type made by Ral Partha.
Let’s get back to my search. As time went on, I became very frustrated in my attempts to locate any blister packs of Roomans. Today, I’d just look on the company web site or call them – but back then – well kids there was no internet – and that would be a very expensive long-distance toll call to Cincinnati (especially from West Germany where I spent most of the latter 1980’s in the Army). Alas, I found just one blister pack of Roomans at a hobby store around 1986 or 1987 – and that was it!
I put them away, awaiting the day when I would find another blister pack – and then I could make a unit of 6 figures perhaps…that wait was indeed over 33 years.
Now I must fast forward to my getting back into the hobby in 2014 and discovering eBay. Wow! Surely I will be able to find some Roomans on eBay! So, I searched and searched, and was able to find 18 loose Roomans either singly or in larger lots, plus one original 1977 blister package over the space of 18 months or so. Most times, they were called Goblins or Orcs by the sellers. Almost all had very bad paint jobs that needed to be stripped. This left me with 24 original Roomans.
I have not seen any in quite a while except for a poor recast here and there. Buck knew some contacts at Iron Winds Metals, and we inquired as to the status of the original molds, but unfortunately they were either lost or destroyed. This was sad. But I was able to get pikes from Melissa Morello at Iron Winds Metals that matched the post-1977 type as most of the Roomans I got on eBay either had the wrong weapon type or none at all. (THANK YOU MELISSA!) Of course, I also learned how to make gravity molds during this timeframe and now can make my own castings of the original Roomans for personal use. Iron Winds Metals told me that they are bringing back Roomans under a new name “Rues”, but to my knowledge that has not yet occurred.
The Roomans I acquired on eBay needed a lot of work to clean and strip. Some were painted with what appeared to be a tough lacquer. I used a combination of several sequential applications of Simple Green, vinegar, hot water, and pewter polish to remove old paint. I also needed to use a lot of toothbrush scrubbing and picking with a needle to get the old paint off.
In August 2016, I gathered up my 24 original Roomans – and decided that I could not in good conscience open up my vintage 1977 blister given the difficulty in finding Roomans (let alone ones in an old blister pack). That left me with 21. I had two 1977-type pikes as well as the ones from Iron Winds Metals. I decided that I would incorporate the two old ones within the mob and use post-1977 style pikes to arm the remainder. One would be a leader, and the other 20 would form the mob or troop.
Yes, I said mob. A group of 10 or more kangaroos is referred to as a mob, a troop, or a court. Females (who are the only ones with pouches) are does, flyers, or jills. Males are referred to as bucks, boomers, jacks, or old men. Of course the term joey for the young is more commonly known. This means that my Roomans that have a shield in front are males (pouchless), while the rest are females (having pouches). Of course, being marsupials, and hopping ones at that, they have many unique qualities. If interested, here is a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo
My first action was to glue the 19 newer pike heads to the piano wire with Scotch super glue, and the Roomans to 1″ steel fender washers with wood glue. This size worked better as the Roomans bases were too big for a ¾” washer. I used a slightly thicker 1″ washer for the leader. I gently bent the arms of the Roomans and oh-so-carefully opened their hands to hold the pikes at different angles. Some of the hands were not well-cast, and I fixed these with Aves Apoxie Sculpt (a two-piece clay that sets up hard as a rock in a day) https://www.amazon.com/Aves-Apoxie-Sculpt-White-pound/dp/B0013UFM7M/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1473111581&sr=8-6&keywords=apoxie+sculpt .
I then used the Apoxie Sculpt to cover the washers and create a sculpted ground around the figures (hiding the washers and the bases). This was made easier by using a set of wax carving tools that I got that looks like a dentist’s tool kit – but really works well with the Apoxie Sculpt https://www.amazon.com/HTS-156W1-Stainless-Steel-Carving/dp/B01D56Q69O/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1473111766&sr=8-4&keywords=wax+sculpting+tools .
After I let the glue dry and the clay set up, I primed the unit with Krylon “Ultra Flat White”. I used Elmer’s white glue to lightly affix the Roomans to large popsicle sticks for painting.
Now I needed to have a plan on colors. Buck always painted his Roomans green (he says that his are tropical). I wanted to check out real kangaroos and see their colors. There are two main types, the red and the grey, and the reds are larger. Therefore, I went with a scheme based on the red kangaroo.
My first action was to use a light coat of Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” to the models. I wanted a good reddish-brown, and I looked in my paint supply, and had a nice candidate in the form of a 1996 bottle of Armory “Red Brown”. I used this for the fur outside of the feet and the belly. For the belly, I used Americana “Bleached Sand”. I also used that color up to the jaw muscles and lower jawline to help accentuate the glare and demeanor of the figures. I also used this for the eyes and for the ears. I used another 1996 paint – Armory “Gloss Black” – for the noses and to finish off the pupils of the eyes. For the feet, I went with Americana “Ebony”. I also used this color for the tips of the ears. The jack figures had two anklets, and the jills had one. These I painted with Martha Stewart Crafts “Pale Bronze”. I am not sure why the jacks had more jewelry than the jills!
As I moved on to the other metallic – armor, tail spikes, shields, and pike heads – I paused to think of a good color scheme and theme for the unit that would tie it together. I particularly wanted a shield that would “pop”. Looking at Greek phalanxes, one usually sees a bronze shield with a pattern upon it. But these are not Greeks – they are Australians! I decided to use the colors and symbols of the Australian flag for the troop. For colors, I decided that the leader would have the red of the St. George’s Cross (in the Union Jack) on his pike streamer, with the rest of the streamers being evenly split between dark blue and white. The shields would have a dark blue center circle. There are a series of stars on the Australian flag. A seven-pointed star on the lower left quadrant represents the British Commonwealth. The other stars (four seven-pointed stars and one five-pointed star) represent the southern cross. I tried to draw a seven-pointed star, and that is nearly impossible. Additionally, the ones that I would use on the shields would need no be 1/8″ from top to bottom. My wife Lynn suggested I print them off from my computer. Luckily, I found some seven-pointed stars on the internet, and shrunk them down to size, and printed them off.
I used the “Pale Bronze” on the shields. For the tail weapons, pike heads, gauntlets, and armor (on the jacks) I used Tamiya X-11 “Chrome Silver”. For the shield straps and eyebrows, I used P3 “Bootstrap Leather”. I wanted the pikes to look like a hardwood – so I painted them with Citadel “Dryad Bark”.
I then needed to move forward with my Australian flag color scheme, For the leader’s streamer, I used Americana “Santa Red”. The other streamers got either a blue or white treatment with another of my older paints. For the dark blue streamers, I used Deka Lack “Dunkelblau”; for the white streamers I used Deka Lack “Weiβ” (Weiss). Both of these date from 1987 when I bought them when I was stationed in Karlsruhe, West Germany. I also used “Dunkelblau” on the shields’ centers. I then used Citadel “XV-88” on the bases.
I considered using some dry brushing on the figures at this point but decided against it. Basically, I wanted to darken the red fur and see if using a wash would do that and give some detail to the snouts and haunches of the Roomans. I mixed a 50/50 mix of two inks – Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” and P3 “Brown Ink”, and carefully covered all the red fur sparing the lighter fur. I also used Secret Weapons Washes “Armor Wash” on all steel armor. I then added another coat of “Agrax Earthshade” to my sculpted bases to bring out the earthlike shapes of the ground. These washes really had a great effect and made the figures look like I desired, as well as bringing out important details that I feared to dry brush.
Let us return to the all-important seven-pointed stars that I printed off! I used my Exacto knife and carefully cut out 26 or so stars with the assistance of the 2.5 magnification of my Carson glasses. I used the best ones for the shields. I applied a light coat of Elmer’s white glue to the underside of each star with a Testors microsponge (this is a good use of this tool). I centered each star and ensured that each point was glued down.
Once the glue dried, I applied a coat of “Weiβ” to the stars and touched up the “Dunkelblau” around the shield where the glue seeped out. I then applied three coats of varnish sequentially – first Krylon “Clear Matte”, then two coats of Testors “Dull Coat”.
Lastly, I added some Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” to give them the appearance of coming out of an Australian Desert.
I am more excited and happy with this unit than I had even hoped to be! The unit looks positively awesome and the stars help it pop. As I build more units with my self-cast Roomans I can incorporate the same color scheme (though I believe my 1980’s paint supply will run out!).
A final note of thanks – to Buck and Dave for getting me into this hobby – and especially to Buck for starting me on this Quixotic quest for a Rooman unit all those years ago! I look forward to rolling dice and pushing lead with you soon!!
Buck My buddy Ma’k made some molds of these long out-of-production figures. They are ducks from the RuneQuest line. He gave them to me a few months back, and this weekend I was able to get them painted. A view of some of the ducks Another view I painted half with the “sun” design on […]
My skeleton army needed a crew-served weapon for War Must Be. I saw an old 1984 Grenadier Models “Dart Thrower and Undead Crew” on eBay and I bought it. It originally was in the Fantasy Lords (First Series), and is listed on Lost Minis Wiki as 130, although there are markings of “A47” on the bottom of the figures. Here is the link: http://www.miniatures-workshop.com/lostminiswiki/index.php?title=Image:G-flbp-130.jpg
I thought I would treat this kit as a small ballista.
Later on, I came across a stand of bolts and small cannonballs tucked into another miscellaneous lot I got on eBay. I cut away the cannonballs and saved the bolts as ammunition for this crew-served weapon.
I drilled a small hole in the base of the dart thrower top and bottom, and used a small piece of paper clip wire to secure the two with Scotch super glue. with my scroll saw, I cut a 3″ beveled hexagonal base from 1/8″ luan. I put each of the crew on a ¾” steel washer and the weapon on a 1″ steel washer. I lightly glued each to a popsicle stick for painting. I primed the set with Krylon “Ultra Flat Black” spray paint.
I washed all the figures with Secret Weapons Washes “Heavy Body Black”. I painted the dart thrower with Citadel “Dryad Bark”, followed by a wash with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”. I then added P3 “Bootstrap Leather” to the bolts. This looked too new to me – and I thought the wood should look old and weathered. Plus, I thought the bolts and metals needed more rust. So I mixed Craftsmart “Grey” and the “Dryad Bark” in a 5:1 ratio, and redid the wood with dry brushing. For the crew, I dry brushed with Citadel “Ushabti Bone”. Then I applied “Agrax Earthshade” to the bolt stand, and washed the crew with Secret Weapons Washes “Sewer Water”. To get a more gray look on the bolt stand and the weapon, I used Secret Weapons Washes “Stone” as another wash, followed by more dry brushing with the 5:1 ratio mix as before.
Then I went back for more dry brushing on the crew with an even mix of “Ushabti Bone” and Americana “Ivory”, followed by a second dry brush mix of Americana “Bleached Sand”. For the metallic, I used Folk Art “Gunmetal Gray” on all helmets, bolts, and metal parts on the dart thrower. For any leather straps on the crew, I painted with “Bootstrap Leather”. I still wanted a more weathered look on the wood, so I mixed P3 “Red Black” ink and Craftsmart “Grey” paint for another wash. That achieved the look I wanted.
For the jewel on the crewmember’s amulet I used 1996 Armory “Red”. The choice for the rust on the helmet was my trusty 1983 Polly-S “Rust”.
Now, my next task was to assemble this set. I affixed the dart thrower and the bolts to the hexagonal base. I applied a couple of washers (for the adhesion of the clay), and chiseled out holes for the crew. I drilled a hole and put a ¼” neodymium magnet in each. I put multiple 1″ steel washers on the model’s underside to secure the neodymium magnets and to provide for future magnetic storage.
I then varnished the model components with a coat of Krylon “Clear Matte” and a coat of Testors “Dull Coat”, allowing for drying in between applications.
Then I mixed a two-piece sculpting clay (Aves Apoxie Sculpt) and applied it to the base. I sculpted a few undulations and rocks as well into the base. I carefully applied a coat of “Agrax Earthshade” to the base, and then flocked it with Army Painter “Brown Battleground”.
This was not “dead” enough, so I used Citadel “Nuln Oil” on the flocking, which darkened it up a lot.
I then applied Army Painter “Wasteland Tuft” in a random pattern so as to disguise the crew’s placement wells.
This will make a nice addition to my skeleton army.
I am catching up as I can in my blog on projects that I have completed in August and September. Last year, I was looking on eBay for some interesting Ral Partha additions to my fantasy armies. Specifically, some large creatures that Wizards could control in my War Must Be game. In the game, Wizards can use a Mundane Spell (His Master’s Voice) to control a large creature such as the giant scorpion, giant tarantula, or giant spiders that I have previously described in this blog. They use some of their action chips to accomplish this.
Once again, I happened upon an eBay find that intrigued me. There was a group of four “Fire Breathing Salamanders” available, and my imagination took over – this would be like having a Wizard controlling a living flame thrower – pretty cool stuff. Each will have a limited number of powerful short range flame attacks in the game, in addition to tooth and claw capabilities. These figures were sculpted by Dennis Mize as part of the Children of the Night line, and were designated 13-028, and released in 1982.
Way back in February, I primed these in Jeff Smith’s heated workshop with Krylon “Ultra Flat Black” spray paint with a gaggle of other figures. Later in the spring, I mounted one on a 3½” beveled hex base made out of 1/8″ luan, but it did not look correct for play. Subsequently, I remounted all four on bases that were roughly octagonal or elliptical, which worked better. I glued two 1″ steel washers to the bottom of each base for future magnetic storage.
As inspiration, I wanted to give these the coloring of a salamander that is native to Massachusetts that I had seen only rarely. I believe that it was a blue-spotted salamander, and the memory I had was of a blackish blue to purple-skinned creature with light spots.
The Dennis Mize figures were more alligator-like, but this was my starting point.
I began by painting the interior of the mouth with Americana “Primary Red”. I mixed equal parts of American “Dioxazine Purple” and “Ebony” for the upper skin. For the lower belly and the spots, I used an equal mix of “Dioxazine Purple”and Americana “Buttermilk”. For the eyes, I used straight “Dioxazine Purple”. I then washed the figures’ skin with Secret Weapons Washes “Purple”, and the mouth with SWW “Heavy Body Black”. I drybrushed the figures with Americana “Lavender”, and then applied two more sequential washes with SWW “Sewer Water” and “Heavy Body Black” as I tried to get a shade that I was happy keeping. This seemed to work adequately.
For the teeth and eyes , I used Citadel “Ushabti Bone” and “Wild Rider Red” respectively. I added an iris with veteran 1984 Polly-S “Slime Green”.
I then touched up the nails with a mix of the “Ebony” and “Dioxazine Purple”, and added some more “Ushabti Bone” to the spots, then another two washes – first with the SWW “Purple” watered down a bit, and then a light one with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”.
There is a small plaque on each figure with 13-028 on it. These I painted with Martha Stewart Crafts “Brushed Bronze” and washed with SWW “Heavy Body Black” to highlight the numbers.
I used Army Painter “Moss Green” flocking, and I was not happy with the effect. These creatures needed to look as if they were crawling out of a swamp or tall elephant grass. I wanted better. I used two coats of varnish sequentially – Krylon “Clear Matte” and Testors “Dull Coat” to seal the paint job ensuring adequate drying time between coats. Then I moved back to the bases.
I had a good number of Army Painter “Swamp Tuft” and “Jungle Tuft” accessories that I thought would do the trick, and this approach did work. The trick here was to cut the “Jungle Tuft” in half on the cellophane before using and mixing in the “Swamp Tuft”. I affixed these with Elmer’s white glue. This had the advantage of hiding the rectangular base lines and give the “crawling through grass” impression.
Overall, I am very happy with the results. I really think that the final basing, which took some time and a lot of gluing, was worth the effort. I look forward to watching them roast some enemies at the behest of their Wizards!
Buck Or is that Roo-men? Sometime in ancient history, Ral Partha made a single pack of figures, called Rooman War Party, which had Roomans in two poses, but all armed with pikes or spears. They are no longer available. Over the years, I collected dozens of the originals, but they have become quite rare, even […]
I completed another project that I needed for my game War Must Be. In the game, there are General Spells. Among these spells is Wall of Flame.
Luckily, I found a listing at Noble Knight Games (or possibly on their eBay site) for 6 Ziterdes Fire Walls that would serve my purposes well. They were resin (not metal). Ziterdes makes very high quality German hobby products, and Noble Knight games has many of them for sale.
I soaked them in dish soap and cleaned them with a toothbrush (something I learned from Chris Palmer – thank you Chris!). I had cut several bases out of 1/8″ plywood with my scroll saw so I used these for mounting the Walls of Flame. I also mounted two 1″ steel washers to the underside of each base for magnetic attachment in my storage boxes. I painted the bases with Americana “Jungle Green”.
Then, I used up the last of my Armory “Red” from 1996 to base coat the walls. I had wanted to use my Armory “Scarlet” as well but that had become unusable after 20 years!
After that dried, I then applied Americana “Primary Red”, followed later by a wash with Secret Weapons Washes “Ruby”. After that I highlighted the walls with Citadel “Wild Rider Red”.
I thought it appropriate to use some of my German 1986 Deka-Lak “Gelb” (Yellow) for flame highlights with a drybrushing technique (after all these are a German product). For the middle part of the flames, I used Tamiya “Orange X-6”. Then I washed them sequentially with Secret Weapons Washes “Just Red” and “Ruby”, allowing both to dry in between. I thought the bottom of the flames needed a deeper red, so I went back to using Americana “Simply Red” as a highlight at the lower end of the flames.
I second-guessed my use of green for the bases. Would not all the organic material at the base of a Wall of Flame be burned? Therefore, I went with Americana “Ebony/Lamp Black”.
For varnishing, I went with Krylon “Clear Glossy” as I wanted the walls to be as bright as possible.
I am very happy with how these came out. They really “pop”!
I will use them as walls of flame, and also potentially as fireballs for my wizards, discharges from flame weapons and even as breaths of flames for dragons. My Fire Breathing Salamanders will use them as well!