Aztec Novice Warriors and a few Frinx

Last month (March) was the first month in several years that I had not painted any miniatures at all.  This happened because I was busy early in the month looking for a job, and then the pandemic hit with all that that entailed.  I decided that I would take the time to honor a commitment made to my good buddy Buck Surdu (who attended West Point with me).

Buck has published many games, and as readers of this blog know, I am very fond of his Combat Patrol™ – WWII Skirmish card based system.  If you take a look at his website, you will see many different (and very well done) free supplements that have been written for other periods and conflicts – check them out here.  One limitation of Combat Patrol™ is that it does not adapt well to the periods before firepower became predominant in warfare – such as before the 17th Century.  Buck has developed a new set of card-based rules for these earlier skirmish battles called Feudal Patrol™ – and they should be published this year I believe.

So back to my commitment – I agreed to help Buck by researching and writing one of the free supplements for the upcoming Feudal Patrol™.  But which era?

When I returned to the hobby (back six years or so ago), I bought many miniatures that I found on eBay that were from the 1970’s to 1990’s.  It was my way of catching up.  One of the groupings I bought were Aztecs, so (without a fully developed concept – or an in-depth understanding of the history of the Conquest) I volunteered to write a supplement covering the Spanish Conquest of the Americas in the 16th Century – covering the Aztecs, the Maya, the Tlaxcalans, the Mixtecs/Zapotecs, the Inca, and of course the Conquistadores.  The research (reading 4 books and other internet material) for this took me the better half of March, and writing the supplement (about 30 pages) took up the rest – so no painting in March for me.  I have finished the draft and we’ll see where that goes – but so far it looks (to my biased eyes) pretty good.

1 books
Research, research.

The resources that I found were adequate I believe – as the authors are all subject matter experts.  Besides, I just needed enough to design a gaming supplement – not pursue a doctorate.  In any case, I now can start painting forces to use with the supplement and hopefully bring to club meetings and conventions.

I started with Aztec novice warriors.  A major aspect of warfare in this period was the overriding need to take captives.  The Aztecs would place the taking of captives at a higher premium than actually killing the enemy.  Rank and prestige in the Aztec army (and Aztec society) were dependent on two things – the number and the quality of the enemy warriors one had captured.  These captured were used for ritualized sacrifice or for making into slaves.  The value of all captives was not equal – capturing a high-ranking member of a strong warrior tribe was better than a weaker one from a less-respected foe.  Aztec troops were typically composed of a group of veteran warriors and an attached group of novices.  The novices were usually (but not always) in a second rank, following the veterans.  The veterans were supposed to be responsible for the novice’s training.  In the game, I match up a group of novices to an equally-sized group of veterans (not elite units).

Novice warriors advance by capturing enemy warriors under the tutelage of the veterans.  The first two blisters that I had were “Aztec Novice Warriors II”  and came from Wargames Foundry.  These are available in the US from Badger Games – here is a link to them.

2 In blisters
My first two blister packs of Aztec troops.

The metal models cleaned up easily enough – but I discovered that there were a few lingering mold lines that I missed.  Still, these would be a nice way to challenge my painting skills (and add to them) as I had not painted human flesh of any type in 28mm for several years – maybe these old 1970’s era Minifig neanderthals were the last similar types that I did.  As these novices are mostly wearing only loincloths, it would be a lot of skin to paint.

The packs also came with many shields.  Each blister pack of six contained 3 novices armed with slings, two armed with an obsidian-bladed wooden sword club called a macuahuitl (ma-kwa-wheat), and one with a a roundhead club called a cuauhololli (kwa-ho-lolly).  One of the macuahuitl figures had a quilted cotton armor tunic called an ichcahuipilli (each-ca-we-pee-lee).

As a side note – part of the research into this era was the major challenge of pronunciation and spelling for Aztec terms!

I filed and cleaned the models, and mounted them on 1″ steel fender washers for painting.  These were then mounted on specimen jars with poster tack for ease of painting.

3 each blister had these
The blister contents  – there were many more shields than I needed – as I did not think slingers should have shields.
4 prepped amd mounted for painting
Mounted for priming and painting.  I used a plastic plate to mount the shields for separate painting and later attachment to the models.
6 after base flesh
Early base coat of the flesh with Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”.
5 slinger with contrast paint on leg
I decided that I would try to paint a lighter flesh base coat and then use Citadel Contrast paint (in this case Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”) on that.  Here, I have only done one leg to show the effect.
7 after adding contrast paints
The Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh” proved to be in need of thinning.  I painted these in order from left to right, and the ones on the far right came out way too dark and needed a redo.  By using Testors Universal Thinner with the Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”, I was able to get a better Aztec skin tone.
8 lightened slingers
The two slingers on the far left after the redo.
10 close up progress April 18
I tried to highlight and shade the flesh here such that from a distance the figures would look right.  I also gave each type of model a slightly different color theme on their accouterments for easier identification and better play on the tabletop.
11 start on shields
Moving on here to start painting the shields.  I had very little experience in panting tiny designs on tiny shields (as you will see).

By April 19th and 20th, I had gotten the models to where I could begin to choose which shields to use and affix.  I did this with first Gorilla glue, and then with E6000 epoxy – allowing to harden overnight.  At that point, I was able to use shading on the models and the shields – and flock the bases.

For flocking, I used Army Painter “Brown Battlefields”, followed by some pigments (see painting list below).  I then airbrushed the models with varnish, and after that dried overnight, I applied random grass patches to the bases.

17 after varnish
Finished models.

For better viewing, I will now share close up groupings of photos of each type of figure and some group shots as eye candy.

First, the slingers with cocked arms:

Next, the slingers loading their slings:

Next, the novice figures with shields and macuahuitl advancing.

Next, here are the two cuauhololli-armed novices.

The one type of figure with a macuahuitl , and a quilted cotton armor tunic called an ichcahuipilli.

The sixth type, a slinger with sling above his head:

And some group shots:

20 Blue themed warriors
The blue-themed novices
21 Red themed warriors
The red-themed novices.
22 Group shot
The twelve novices assembled.

I hope that you enjoyed seeing these figures and my processes.  I do believe that I can improve upon them and I hope to do so with subsequent projects for the Spanish Conquest – there will be several going forward.  I did want these to count for the Ann’s April 2020 “Paint the Crap You Already Own!” Painting and Hobby Challenge over at Ann’s Immaterium blog.

Lastly, as an add-on bonus , I also redid seven Archive Power-Armored Archive Frinx infantry that I found on eBay a while back.  I have a good number of Frinx and game with them often as shown in this blog – just search for “Frinx” on my blog and see what I mean!

I did not paint their original colors, but they were done well-enough with a dotted camouflage scheme, very different from my other brightly-painted Frinx.  But as they were based such that I’d never get them off of the bases that they were on, I just touched up the worn-away paint, used some shading, varnished them, and improved the worn bases.  I’ll use them as commando Frinx.  For fun, here they are:

1 after wash
After varnishing.
3 Done
In the desert.
5 Frinx Leader casualty card
Close up of the leader.
4 not a fair fight
How did this happen?

That’s it for now!



  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack and plastic plates
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white)
  8. Vallejo Model Color “Red”
  9. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  10. Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”
  12. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  13. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  14. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  15. Battlefront “Dark Leather”
  16. Battlefront “Wool Brown”
  17. Citadel “Dryad Bark”
  18. Tamiya “Copper (XF-6)”
  19. Tamiya “X20A Thinner”
  20. Citadel Air “Evil Sunz Scarlet”
  21. Deka Lack “Blau” (a survivor from 1987!)
  22. Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
  23. Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”
  24. Citadel “Balor Brown”
  25. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  26. E6000 Epoxy
  27. Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
  28. Vallejo Model Air “Moon Yellow”
  29. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (shade)
  30. Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
  31. Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
  32. Americana “Desert Sand”
  33. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (shade)
  34. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  35. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)

Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

59 thoughts on “Aztec Novice Warriors and a few Frinx”

  1. Another nice detailed post Mark. The stand out for me, aside from the figures which have all come out looking very good indeed I would add, is the research you did at the beginning. On a personal level this is not something I do anywhere near enough of. I will explore how to make something but I very rarely get behind the history of something (where there is one of course). On the one occasion when I did (my WW1 project) it gave me much more inspiration and a feel for how to present things. This really is something I should do more of. I’m sure Buck will be very pleased with what you have done.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Cheers Dave! I’m glad that you enjoyed it. I do try to do appropriate research as I like my projects to be educational and fun to look at – though if they are retro sci-fi I only have the histories of the figures to contend with! All of my projects end up becoming parts of games at some point or another, and those opportunities are (to me) probably similar to one of your shows. By that I mean I’m putting myself out there with both the painting and my demonstration of historical knowledge of the period that I’m presenting. So I try to do my best on both fronts, and the blog helps me do that too. Again, appreciate your kind feedback. I am so happy to be collaborating with Buck in this small way, he’s a good friend and brilliant too!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Excellent post, Mark! 🙂 Those novice warriors have come out out really well, more so since you don’t usually paint flesh – if there is one thing I can’t paint well it’s a figure with a lot of flesh on display, but yours look spot on! Well done with your research as well, and thanks for the phonetic spelling! I read and enjoyed the Tenochtitlan book and then managed to get Ian Heath’s Foundry-published book on armies of the period ( at a decent price, considering it’s difficult to get a print copy! Ian Heath’s books are always worth getting and I have few of the Foundry books (although I’ve only flicked through this one so far). Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to more Aztecs from you at some point!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ooh, I’m going to have to get that book!

      Thanks John, I think I can do better with the flesh going forward- to an extent this was also experimentation with the contrast paints.

      There will be more for sure! Thanks so much!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even on the printed book was expensive, but I’ve got a Kindle Fire tablet so I got the Kindle book version for 14 quid (is that maybe $30?). I’d rather have a print book, but the cost of the Kindle book more than made up for it! If you think of anything that you might like any more info on, I can always have a look in the Foundry book to see it can shed any more light on anything – just drop me a line via the contact page at Just Needs Varnish! I’m sure you’ll find everything you need in the books you have though!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I’ve had to chuck this comment in out of sequence I’m afraid, Mark, since I think WordPress only lets you nest a certain number of comments and replies. The Foundry book on South & Central American armies is black and white only, but Ian Heath does excellent line drawings of figures with full explanations of their clothing and weapons etc. So the books you already have will be good for the colour plates, whereas the Foundry book will more than likely have a lot of details on organisation, weapons, methods of combat etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Looking good Mark. I do like the mesoamerican period to game. Years ago I had a pile of the Foundry ‘Spaniards’ (I cant remember what the actual name was) and Aztecs. It was one of those projects that never really got off the ground. I just bought the Tenochtitlan book recently and it was a good read. The one thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that the Conquistadors who went basically broke even at best. No mountains of gold… I wonder if they will ever find the stuff that was lost in the lake? This post has made me remember I need to get my 15mm Aztec bases finished.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for your comments!

      Yes, they went broke or were killed trying to get more gold. I too wonder about all that gold sunk in the lake on La Noche Triste. They certainly did succeed in making the Spanish Crown quite rich at no risk to it. A lot of my stuff will be Foundry 28mm but also some Outpost and even some Ral Partha.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Superb mate – Wargames Foundry minis are lovely, but you’ve really worked your magic on them, and always good to see more Frinx on the scene 😎

    Looks like a fun big of research too – good luck on the supplement 👍

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Well those came as a bit of a surprise, if it hadn’t been for the “Frinx” I would have thought I was in the wrong place!

    Seriously though, lovely work on the novice warriors, you always think figures with lots of flesh on show will be easy, but it can be a hard thing to get right and a bit boring too as you cant just slap them over with a big brush, but have to go all round the details and bits of clothing they are wearing (unless they aren’t wearing anything! (Oh matron!). I happen to be doing something similar but completely different myself at the moment (if that makes sense?). I only hope my end result looks half as good as yours.

    As said above research is something I really hardly ever do. and should do more of, but that is part of the reason Sci/fi and fantasy appeal I guess I just bloody lazy!

    Best of luck with this project, if I ever get into Aztec’s I’ll know where to come to get my painting guide from.

    Cheers Roger.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Cheers Roger! Happy to surprise you a bit, if I only could paint faster I’d have more stuff done. I’m hoping to improve all the same – this was also a chance for me to experiment with contrast flesh paints.

      Stay safe!


  6. Great work on the Aztec’s Mark, this is a time period that fascinates me, not so much the Spanish invading, but the rituals and their strange almost fantasy like gods, and amazing architecture for the time as well.
    Nice work on your Frinx as well

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Hey, Mark. As a fellow Mass resident, I get it, man.
    I will offer my humble recommendation for some scenics to go with your Mesoamerican miniatures (all of which look great). Joerg Bender over at Things From the Basement makes some great themed temples, et cetera, for use with Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago. I bought them and used them for some X-Men adventures in the Savage Land; so unless you’re a purist, they’d be pretty awesome for Central American-themed historical games. Check them out.
    Stay well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks and appreciate you’re jumping on the blog and for the kind words. I have met Joerg before at HUZZAH I think and he does have some very cool stuff – though I have not bought any yet. I’m a ways away from thinking about buildings and special terrain, but I’ll see what my scenarios demand. I’m hoping more for resin than MDF (I’m not very fond of MDF). I saw his temples and they could do in a pinch so I’ll keep them in mind. My guess is I’d end up building a temple of scale if I used one – which could be an endeavor unto itself. We’ll see!

      Where in MA are you? I run the Mass Pikemen in Central MA.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m in SE Mass/Plymouth County.
    Never met Joerg in person, but I’ve bought a fair bit of kit from him. Seems like a nice guy, and his MesoAmerican stuff served me well in my Savage Land Super Mission Force gaming. But if you’re going to build your own scenery, now’s the time. It’s not like we can say we don’t have the time anymore. 🙂
    The Mass Pikemen is a fantastic name!
    All the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lots of time but still seems like it flies by. The Mass Pikemen is our gaming group here in central Massachusetts. We have a Facebook group and announced our monthly gaming sessions there. Of course, when will that be able to resume is a very open question. If you want to join the group it’s open to whoever wants.


  9. Sorry I missed this one Mark!! So good mate you have done a fine job again mate ,Its good to try something a bit different from you normal stuff , and don’t you just love the Osprey books, I find them very helpful when I’m painting up my figures.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Mark. As always I appreciate the history and background that just adds to the finished models. The novices are a good place to (re)start painting human flesh tones – they look pretty good as is to me but now I know you’ll just build on it as you get to the more important and elite troops. 🙂
    Frinx commandoes look pretty good as well. Those bases will help them stand out on the table from the other, brighter Frinx – just be wary of losing/forgetting them when the models take cover in foliage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear from you and I see you saw the Eagle Warriors so I’m on the way. Definitely refining the flesh tones. The Frinx rehab was fun, and hopefully they can surprise an enemy by debauching from a wood line or jungle!

      Liked by 1 person

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