At the center of Aztec life was their religion, which drove many of their cultural, military, political, and economic practices. The Aztecs had over 200 deities, of which the chief one was Huitzilopochtli, the patron god of the Mexica and of their capital Tenochtitlan. He was also the Aztec god of war.
In trying to replicate an appropriate Tenochtitlan cityscape for 28mm games of for Feudal Patrol™ games in Mesoamerica (using my Civilizations Collide supplement), I have been building and painting multiple types of resin and MDF buildings. This plan by necessity would be clearly downsized from the original, but should have the flavor of the era and location. The painting below from LFIllustration is one that I saw recently on my Pinterest feed. It that gives an idea of what I have been going for conceptually in terms of the cityscape, the farms, the causeways, and more if dealing with Tenochtitlan and its environs circa 1519-1521.
In order to motivate myself to get through my terrain building as efficaciously as possible, In mid-March I devised “Mark’s Aztec Building Challenge Contest”. This was to reward my followers with a guessing contest as to when I would finish all of the terrain in the challenge – as well as to give me impetus to getting through all I was setting out to do. As I wanted like terrain and building pieces to be matching/similar in color and texture, and I needed several paints, I did end up having some materials delays – and others that I have described previously as well. But finally, I have finished all of the pieces in the challenge! I will be posting the winners on a separate and subsequent blog post that will shortly follow this one, so I am adding a bit more suspense to the contestants – but not too much. I just felt I should give this piece its own due, and do a separate contest wrap-up.
So, you ask, what piece is it? Why, it’s “Temple High Throne”. It is another MDF kit. This one, like my previous Aztec MDF, also came from from Things From the Basement via 4Ground via Badger Games – you can see it here. Basically, it is a high raised platform, and as such, Montezuma II would have this platform as his throne overlooking Tenochtitlan in the temple complex. It is adorned with serpent/snake heads and a giant idol image of Huitzilopochtli. Overall, the kit was of good quality and I enjoyed building and painting it. I will have to add some rules about the steepness of the steps with regards to both movement up and down and melee combat.
I built and painted parts of the kit contemporaneously with the Temple Sacrificial Altar for economy of effort. I will go over some WIP and share some eye candy after that. As is my practice, I list the materials I used is at the end of this post for those interested. Also, as Huitzilopochtli is – at least to me – quite monstrous – and physically quite large here as well, I am adding this bad boy/building to the painting challenges being run by Angry Piper over at Dead Dick’s Tavern And Temporary Lodging called “Monster Mayhem 2021” (subject to his assent of course). I found the image below on line and used it as the basis for my painting of the large Huitzilopochtli idol. It’s a bit different than the others I have seen, but I thought it would be a good general guide.
After all the painting, I glued it together. A challenge was the Huitzilopochtli idol due to its height and its thinness. Both prevented using rubber bands during the gluing process, but I think it worked out ok. Now, I will share some eye candy shots of the completed model.
Thank you for taking a look. I have a few more buildings and some other stuff coming up for this project, as well as a rules update, but I’m pretty happy with the progress. I will share those shots on the next post, and eventually I hope to have a nice shot of all the terrain on the tabletop – I’m just not there yet. But, my gaming club is back LIVE on June 5th, so I’m close!
For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THIS MODEL
There were at least two men named Montezuma in Aztec history. The most famous were Montezuma I and Montezuma II. Montezuma I (1398-1469) became the Aztec emperor in 1440. This happened after both the assassination of his brother Chimalpopoca and the subsequent death of his half-uncle Itzcoatl (both had succeeded Montezuma I’s father, Huitzilihuitl, the first Aztec emperor). He had been a general in the Aztec army, and was elected “Great Speaker” which meant he spoke for Tenochtitlan and other tribes under Aztec control. Under his rule the Empire of the Aztecs of the Triple Alliance was established and its power in Mesoamerica was consolidated.
Montezuma II (1466-1520) was the great-grandson of Montezuma I. He is more widely known as he was the Aztec emperor that made contact with – and later was made prisoner by – Cortes and the Conquistadores. His, and the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire, is a complex story that fills many a book – and is too great to recount here. Montezuma II saw the expansion of the Aztec Empire to its greatest heights, and also saw it fall. His final humiliating act was to be forced by his Spanish captors to appear on a balcony to entreat his people to back off their siege of the Conquistadores. He was then killed by his own enraged Aztecs while speaking to them by a thrown or slung rock.
Both of these men named Montezuma certainly sacrificed thousands upon thousands of victims on the altars of their god Huitzilopochtli. There are also multiple spellings for Montezuma – but I will use this one!
In my supplement for games of Feudal Patrol™, Civilizations Collide, Montezuma (either one) can be deployed as an overall commander or as a hero. In this role, he can stiffen his own troops resolve – as his presence on the battlefield reminds all of his minions that the price of failure or retreat is a trip to the sacrificial altar. I have discussed the game on previous posts, as well as my supplement. See the links at the end of this post to learn more. You can download Civilizations Collide for free on Sally 4th’s website here or the Feudal Patrol™ website here.
Wargames Foundry makes AZ011 “Emperor Montezuma and Chieftains”, and I acquired a blister from Badger Games. All are 28mm, and metal. The figures are of Montezuma (not defined as to which one), four battle chieftains/leaders, and a warrior priest. I did not take many WIP shots of all the figures – but this time I’ll handle each one in turn and share a bit about each one, starting with Montezuma.
Click on any of the images for a larger view!
This figure really challenged me, but the sculpt was quite nice, and my favorite of the lot. I really wanted his cloak and feather work to pop. I ended up using a lot of inks on all of these figures here – and I used a gloss varnish over them to protect the work. This proved to be a good call (similar to what I did with the Shorn Ones).
Below, you will see final shots of the completed Montezuma figure. I used a yellow ink (Vallejo Game Ink) to achieve the color on off-white on the cloak border. I’m pretty happy with the shading on the cloak. This was the most freehand detail that I’ve attempted on a cloak. I was inspired by cloaks that I have seen done by The Imperfect Modeler on his blog – an example of his artistry can be seen here – check him out.
Aztec Chieftain/Captain (ACP1)
I designated this figure as ACP1. These chieftains (ACP1-4) will be leaders of warbands or higher, but will serve under the generals. The first one looked almost like a Shorn One except for the haircut. I did not really like the face on the sculpt, but overall I think it’s ok. His crown was odd compared to other Aztec stuff I’ve seen, so I made it yellow. He’s armed with a tepoztopilli (an obsidian-edged thrusting spear) and has a nice big shield that both were part of the figure. His tlahuiztli (suit) is supposed to be feathered.
AZTEC CHIEFTAIN/CAPTAIN (ACP2)
This figure had an almost Roman-like look – except the tall feather headdress gives it away. That, and it has a feathered tlahuiztli that I painted blue also. This miniature had a drum for signaling mounted on the rack on his back. This drum would motivate me to use it as an example and make a drum for the ACP3 figure as you’ll see later (which had nothing on its back rack). He is armed with a macuahuitl (obsidian-edged club/broadsword), and his shield was a Wargames Foundry one that I repainted and gave a more fancy look with the two-colored circle and frets.
AZTEC CHIEFTAIN/CAPTAIN (ACP3)
This figure made me think a bit and as previously mentioned caused me to put a little more work into it. It had a back rack, but nothing to put on it – and the painting example on the websites did not either. Why would it have a rack without anything to carry?
Therefore, I decided that a small signaling drum would be appropriate to sculpt and add. I used some styrene bits, paper clip wire, and green stuff to make a drum. View the gallery below left to right and top to bottom.
Here is the completed ACP3 below. I think the drum worked out well enough for the tabletop. It has a macuahuitl behind the shield. The figure’s shield frets were a bit uneven, so I did not give them any additional painting details. I wanted the shield to be eye-catching – thought the white rim here is a bit more bright in the photo than in real life.
AZTEC CHIEFTAIN/CAPTAIN (ACP4)
I looked at this figure and frankly thought the helmet and headdress to be a bit odd for an Aztec warrior. Still, if it’s in the blister, I paint it! I did also give it an updated small shield. This figure is also armed with a macuahuitl.
AZTEC warrior priest (Awp4)
This is the one warrior priest in the blister. It actually looks inspired by the image in John Pohl’s 1991 Osprey Book Aztec, Mixtec, and Zapotec Armies – Men-at-Arms. That image shows a Zapotec (as opposed to an Aztec) warrior priest wearing the flayed skin of a defeated enemy. Now, Aztecs did also flay their enemies (in addition to sacrifices and other horrors). Diaz (a contemporary of Cortes and the author of the 16th century book The History of the Conquest of New Spain) described finding the flayed (and yet still-bearded) faces of fallen Conquistadores hanging in captured Aztec villages and cities. My guess is that it is likely that an Aztec warrior priest could have worn a flayed enemy skin to intimidate his enemies on the battlefield. In any case, this is the fourth warrior priest I have painted.
The figure’s flayed suit was somewhat negatively affected (less realistic) by the position in which the flayed feet were sculpted in my opinion. The flayed hands hang loosely over the warrior priest’s hands, and look appropriate (for flayed hands). However, the skinned feet stick out here oddly as you’ll see below. I am sure they would have flopped loosely – as indeed the ones do in Pohl’s book. The back banner was pretty large and came in two pieces. I needed to use green stuff to reinforce part of it but I thought it fun to assemble.
Lastly, I did not know what color a flayed skin would have. I’m assuming it would be like a tanned animal skin, but that would not negate any necrotic colors (or smells I’m sure). Luckily, I’ve not seen (or smelled) anyone who has been flayed!
So, I decided to use a couple of paints – Citadel “Contrast Paint – Plaguebearer Flesh” highlighted and dry brushed with a layer paint – Citadel “Flayed One Flesh”. Not sure if this worked – you can let me know! His suit is a bit on the zombie green side. The figure is tall, and also armed with a macuahuitl. The shield design is adapted from Steve’s Balagan.
This group of Aztecs completes (for now) the ones that I need for the games I have planned. I have painted 109 Aztecs since April, and 32 Tlaxcalans. I have 81 Conquistadores to do next.
On my last blogpost, I got a request from fellow army builder and blogger Alex. He has a blog worth checking out called Leadbaloony – It’s a Lead Thing ~ (sorry no balloons). His painting is exquisite. Alex wanteda picture of my entire Aztec army – so I will try to comply below!
To paraphrase Chief Brodie in Jaws, I’m gonna need a bigger boat box!
Thanks for looking at these and following this journey. I hope to get going on the Conquistadores and some Things from the Basement terrain (from the Lost Archipelago collection) I just ordered from Badger Games.
I hope you stay with me as I round the corner on his project! These will be in games, some even virtually. As always, let me know your thoughts and ideas about these figures. Stay safe!
Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:
Posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”