Old School Ral Partha and Minifigs Vikings for Aztec War Canoes

I was originally enticed into the hobby by way of 25mm metal figures from Ral Partha, Grenadier, and Minifigs back in the 1980’s. Some of you of course are remarking to yourselves at this point that you have no idea of those days!

Well, no internet existed such that one could go out and find whatever one wanted with a click. You either ordered from a catalog or got lucky at a hobby store with whatever existed in the shop (insert bad joke here).

Some of the figures were pretty simplistic, others were (and are still) marvels of art. Most readers of this blog will recognize that until recently, I have been very much involved with painting and building figures and terrain for my Civilizations Collide project (Aztecs, Conquistadores, etc. for Feudal Patrol. So, you ask, Mark, what the f**k you doing with old school Vikings?

Well, this is related to my recent trip to Historicon (which I wrote about here). Several of the scenarios that I am developing for the Spanish Conquest require Aztec (and Tlaxcalan) war canoes, which were involved in many of the battles, both along the causeways out of Tenochtitlan and in naval combat with Spanish brigantines on Lake Texcoco. At Historicon, I searched high and low in the vendors area and in the flea market for reasonably priced war canoes. All I found were a Blood and Plunder model for $20 (not reasonable) from a vendor’s booth and a single $3 scratch-built balsa-wood version from the flea market.

I got both as options for considering how to design and scratch-build my own. As I estimate that I need 4-6 war canoes for each of the 4 brigantines that I have in queue. That’s 16-24 canoes – and I am not going to pay $20 per canoe! Shortly after the convention, Greg Priebe (who was with me at Historicon) suggested that he could 3D print canoes for me! I was elated, and I asked him what I could offer in trade. Greg kindly said don’t worry about it. But, I thought that’s unfair, and I could paint some figures for him as a fair exchange.

Greg is the author of the Vikings Feudal Patrol supplement (which you can download for free here), so I offered him Vikings. He agreed, and when I got home I went into my unpainted stash to see what I had available.

My supply of unpainted lead includes many figures from the ’80’s. I got a lot of them when I returned to the hobby but have not painted a lot of the 25mm ancient stuff. We conferred, and Greg agreed that he would like ones from three blister’s of 25mm figures and a single 28mm berserker. They all work for skirmish games.

One was a six-figure blister of Ral Partha Imports “Viking Berserkers with Axes” (#DA45) – circa 1982. The second was a six-figure Minifigs “Viking Command” blister pack probably from around 1980-1982. The third was a six-figure pack of Ral Partha “Saxon Huscarle” (#1117) from their “1200 A.D.” line – circa 1982. The last was a single figure from RAFM, “Berserker” from their “Adventurers” line circa 1989. This adds up to 19 figures, and Greg is making me 20 or so canoes. So, the following will describe how I proceeded to paint all of these up.

Ral Partha Imports “Viking Berserkers with Axes

These were likely made by Citadel and marketed by Ral Partha – a common commercial practice back then. The bases had “1982” and DA45 on them. As my process was modified batch-painting, I’ll include some of the steps I took on all of the models here and spare you a repeat later. There were three poses among the six figures, which was a lot back then (most packs of six had just one pose). But, I needed on all of these to make them different enough for easy identification and for fun on the tabletop.

The blister pack of DA45. Opened after 40+ years,

The figures had substantial mold lines, which was common back then. That issue was easily remedied. Their axe shafts were also a bit bendy (common as well) – and I gave them all a light coat of Gorilla Glue – to stiffen up the shafts (insert bad joke here).

Mold lines seen here. Also bendy axes.

I then mounted all the figures on 1″ steel washers, and put them on poster tack on specimen containers for ease of painting. I primed them all white with my airbrush and after they dried, I washed with “Heavy Body Black” from Secret Weapon Washes (all of the paints that I used will be listed at the end of this post for those interested).

Close up of the HBB wash on the Berserkers. It helps me to see details and preshades the models – both very helpful steps with 25mm.

I numbered the six figures by the three poses (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, and 3B) so that I could plan differences in painting. At least these had no shields…for the rest that did I needed a plan as well. Yes, I used Excel!

Here all of the 19 figures are ready for varnish, but I did need to work on the shields. More on that in a bit.

On all of these, in terms of painting, I aimed for a good tabletop standard. While I do not think these are badly painted at all, I have done better work – but these reminded me of how much easier painting modern figures is now, especially 28mm. Another challenge was effectively painting blonde hair. I don’t think I’ve done that in 40 years. Anyways, I toned down yellow (very Sailor Moon) with “Snakebite Leather” contrast paint and Seraphim Sepia” wash and worked ok. The ginger hair was easier. I also added differently colored tufts to the bases for ease of identification as well.

Now, let’s see the models from this blister all completed.

The group. I tried to give the eyes a “mascara” look like the show “Vikings” did. At 25mm, this was hard to do, but you can let me know if it worked or not to your eye (pun intended).

Minifigs Viking Command

I remember painting a number of fantasy Minifig miniatures back in the day. They had square bases and the details were rather plain. These were the same as those. My guess is dating from the early ’80’s or possibly even the late ’70’s.

Unfortunately, these had a severe coating of oxide or something black and crusty on them. I don’t think it was lead rot, but I did clean them up with baking soda just in case. Their spears and banner shafts were even more bendy than the others – which was very much a common issue for this manufacturer back then. I added a second stiffening coat of Gorilla Glue to these bendy shafts, and then proceeded as discussed previously.

There were three poses here. Two with a horn, two with spears and axes, and two with either a banner or a long-shafted axe. For the last group, I gave one an axe and one a banner. They all had shields (unattached) so I did need to get some references for free-hand painting them.

The old blister – $3.98 for six figures!
You can see the dark oxidation (if that’s what it was) on all the figures – which needed filing, cleaning, and fixing of the more-bendy shafts.
Close-up shot showing issues.

Each of the three poses had a different number on the bases. Pose 1 (with horn) was DA97, pose two (with axe and spear) had only partially DA4-something, and the last one was DA42. I’m assuming DA stood for “Dark Ages”.

Second pose after HBB wash.

I tried to give different looks to these as well – again, a painting plan in Excel helped. As for the shields – they were fun the most enjoyable to paint – and different than the Aztec shields to be sure. I chose 6 designs that I thought would work with the colors. Instead of thinner, I used Vallejo Flow Improver with the black on a Newton & Windsor 0000 brush – and that worked (thanks to The Imperfect Modeler for that suggestion).

I would sketch lightly with a .5mm pencil, then line with black paint thinned with flow improver.
Painted shields.

After I painted the shields, I gave them a brush of satin varnish. Once they dried, I mounted them to the figures.

Then after drying time, they were off to varnishing and flocking (similar to the previous group). Below are the finished models.

The Viking Command Group together.

Ral Partha Saxon Huscarle

While housecarles in English is proper, the blister said “Huscarle”, so…

The old blister from the 1200 A.D. line.

The sculpts were pretty nice – especially the chain mail. However, these were in all the same pose (as was common back when these were launched in 1982). Therefore, differentiation was more needed.

I followed the same process as discussed above with priming and the initial wash application. Another nice thing about these was that the shields were already attached – that and the eyes would not need special attention.

After the priming and the HBB wash application. I could have used Nuln Oil but I thought I’d use the HBB before it became useless.

For shields, I looked up some images for Saxon ones and chose six.

The final six look as follows:

The Saxon Huscarle group.

RAFM Berserker

The last figure was a single one – and he looks to be 28mm hero-scale. That makes him a bit off of the others, but maybe he’s like the Mountain from GoT?

Anyways, he looks pretty Viking-like, and Greg wanted him, so he’s in!

In his 1989 blister.

This figure was so much easier to paint as it had virtually no mold lines and was well-sculpted. I only wish his axe was reasonably-sized.

That’s the last of the 19. Here’s a group shot of them finished.

Group Shot. All in the mail to Greg in Maryland now!

I originally wanted to paint them all up as part of Roger’s (over at Rantings Under the Wargame Table) “Mo’vember Challenge”, but between surgery in November, Historicon, Thanksgiving, and my garage +build, it did not happen. Still, check out Roger’s cool roundup – I did get in Cortes

As you may imagine, making all these figures different took a hell of a lot of paint! The list is at the end, but here’s a shot:

That’s a lot of paint!

I hope that this was enjoyable – and a change of pace was nice for me. Not sure what’s next, probably brigantines, but I do want to post a belated garage+ update by the end of this weekend. Thanks for looking and sharing any thoughts.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE THAT I USED ON THESE VIKING FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Poster tack
  4. Vallejo Mecha Primer “White”
  5. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  6. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  7. Secret Weapon Washes “Heavy Body Black” (wash)
  8. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  9. Vallejo Model Color “Black”
  10. Battlefront “European Skin”
  11. Citadel “Flash Glitz Yellow”
  12. Citadel “Troll Slayer Orange”
  13. Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
  14. Vallejo Game Air “Wolf Grey”
  15. Secret Weapon Washes “Red Black” (wash)
  16. Vallejo Model Air “Dark Brown”
  17. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Snakebite Leather”
  18. Vallejo Model Air “Gun Metal”
  19. Vallejo Mecha Color “Light Steel”
  20. Hataka “Gris Blue Clair”
  21. Vallejo Game Color “Livery Green”
  22. Citadel “Mechanicus Standard Grey”
  23. Hataka “Beige”
  24. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Blood Angels Red”
  25. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Cygor Brown”
  26. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore Grunta Fur”
  27. Vallejo Game Air “US Olive Drab”
  28. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  29. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  30. Vallejo Model Color “Wood Grain”
  31. Vallejo Model Air “Steel”
  32. Vallejo Model Color “Brown Rose”
  33. Vallejo Model Color “Basic Skin Tone”
  34. Vallejo Model Color “Light Flesh”
  35. Citadel “Lamenters Yellow” (glaze)
  36. Vallejo Game Air “Chainmail Silver”
  37. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Shyish Purple”
  38. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  39. Citadel “Ushabti Bone”
  40. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  41. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  42. Secret Weapon Washes “Armor Wash” (wash)
  43. Citadel “Waywatcher Green” (glaze)
  44. Citadel “Drakenhof Nightshade” (wash)
  45. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  46. Battlefront “Skin Shade”
  47. Citadel “The Fang”
  48. Army Painter “Red Tone” (shade)
  49. Army Painter “Green Tone” (shade)
  50. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (wash)
  51. Citadel “Bloodletter” (glaze)
  52. Vallejo Model Color “Vermilion”
  53. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  54. Citadel “XV-88”
  55. Citadel “Daemonette Hide”
  56. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  57. Army Painter “Purple Tone” (shade)
  58. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  59. Vallejo Model Color “Dark Blue”
  60. Secret Weapon Washes “Sunshine” (wash)
  61. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  62. Elmer’s PVA Glue
  63. Citadel “Stirland Mud”
  64. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
  65. Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)
  66. Army Painter tufts (various)
  67. Shadow’s Edge Miniature’s tufts (various)

Chinese Game Set for Settlers of Catan

May was a slow hobby month as I spent some time recovering from the surgeon’s blade!

One of the projects that I started in April and completed in May was another RAFM game set for the  Settlers of Catan game.  It was a gift from my daughter and son-in-law, and I had it in the painting queue for a while.  The set is made of white metal (likely britannia).  I had completed most of the painting in April, and finished and varnished the project in May.  Each set consists of figures that represent 15 roads, 5 settlements, 4 cities, and one robber.  This one is Chinese-themed, and joins my Viking and Egyptian sets.  I opened the set, cleaned up and filed some loose casting remnants, and washed everything with mild soap and a toothbrush.  After a good rinse and a thorough drying, they were ready to paint.  I decided to go with a red and gray theme, which are my Fitchburg High school colors!

 

1 Box cover
Game set box, unopened

 

 

2 detail on side Box cover
Side detail of box

 

 

3 road unpainted
Unpainted road

 

 

4 settlement unpainted
Unpainted settlement

 

 

5 city unpainted
Unpainted city

 

 

6 robber unpainted
Unpainted robber, front view

 

 

7 robber unpainted, back
Unpainted robber, back view

As you can see above, the details of the figures are variable.  The robber really was not well-detailed, and I attempted to rectify this with the brush.  On the previous two sets, I mounted all of the figures to popsicle sticks for ease of painting.  I elected not to do that this time as I did not want to have to deal with painting the undersides with affixed glue.  I did mount the robber on a 1″ steel washer.  This was fine.

I made a change again and used a brush primer as April was very cold and I did not want to wait until New England cooperated with 50°F – and that was a good call.  I used Citadel “Imperial Primer” slightly diluted with Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner” in two coats for priming.  I then drybrushed all the figures with Americana “Santa Red”.  My next step was to use Secret Weapons Washes “Red Black” ink and apply a thorough wash all over the figures.  Then I painted the trees and bushes on the road sections with Armory “Chestnut Brown”.

 

8 base coated group
In progress – I put the figures on the pallet and used it as a surface to paint almost everything

On the roads (which resembled sections of the Great Wall), I painted the boulders with Americana “Zinc”.  I then applied another wash with “Red Black” ink.  To create the effect of the greenery, trees, and shrubs, I highlighted successively with Citadel “Niblet Green” and “Nurgling Green”.

On the settlements, I painted the paved spaces between the buildings and the river and the bridge with “Zinc”, followed by a coat of “Red Black” ink on the pavement.  The river got a treatment of Americana “Sky Blue” followed by Reaper MSP “Blue Liner” as a wash.  The river edges and buildings were highlighted and lined with Vallejo “Red”.

For the cities, I used “Zinc” on the stairways, and more “Red Black” ink as a wash.  I then highlighted the walls and framework of the large temple with the Vallejo “Red”.

I did not go crazy with the robber as I really was unimpressed with the figure.  He looked like a Japanese Ninja in a Chinese set!  So I used the same patterns with the same reds as the other figures.  I painted his bedroll with “Zinc”, his bandana and gloves with Americana “Ebony”, and his hair and boots with Americana “Onyx”.  P3 “Midland Flesh” was my choice for his face, with Vallejo “White” and “Ebony” for the eyes.  I highlighted his headband and his robes with Vallejo “Red”.  On his dagger I used FolkArt “Gunmetal Gray” highlighted with Tamiya “Titanium Silver”.  For the handle of his dagger, I gave him a splash of Citadel “Gehenna’s Gold”.  On his base, I used Citadel “Martian Ironcrust” and a blow dryer to create the crackling effect.  And again, I added more “Red Black”.

 

10 painted roads prevarnish
Roads before varnish

I also want to note here that the bottoms of all of these figures were painted with the same red combinations.  Lastly, as these are game pieces, I wanted to give them a good protective coat of varnish from bottom to top.  They all got three successive applications of varnish with sufficient drying time in between.  Of course, I needed a warm day (above 70°F) for this.  I used Krylon “Glossy”, followed by Krylon “Clear Matte”, followed by Testors “Dullcoat”.

 

 

12 completed play example
On the Catan board – with the Viking and Egyptian set 

 

 

13 completed play example
Robber, settlement, and road close up

 

I am satisfied with the project – and now I only need one more (the Bavarian set) to have all of them.  Certainly a worthy gaming project!

 

RAFM Bard from 1992

I apologize to my readers as its been a while since I have blogged, and as you will see I will be somewhat more active this week as I have completed some projects and now have a few things to actually write about!  I expect that I will write three blog entries this week about projects that I have completed.

This is my first entry and concerns a RAFM Bard sculpted by Steven Koo in 1992 as part of the Women of the Ninth Meridian line.  Here is a link to the 1994 catalog from DnD Lead website that shows that there were three in each set.  The circled figure is the subject of this blog.  The figure had pointed ears, so obviously she is an elf.

0 Bard
From the 1994 RAFM Catalog

Chris Smedile’s birthday was coming up, so I offered him the chance to go through my assorted unpainted miniatures and pick a couple of figures that he would like me to paint for him.  He picked two – this Bard, and a Reaper Chronoscope Bones figure (which you can read about here).  It is 25mm in scale, cast in white metal (possibly lead-free), and had great detail.

 

 

1 Bard unpainted, front
Bard front view before painting

 

 

2 Bard unpainted, back
Rear view of Bard before painting

 

 

 

3 Bard unpainted, bottom
“RAFM 92”

 

I looked at the weather forecast as I wanted to finish this project in time to properly use spray varnish outside – and I need close to 70° F and low humidity for best effect.  I wanted her to have a slight “Little Red Riding Hood” look.

Beginning the base coat process, I started with the flesh, and used P3 “Ryn Flesh”.  I painted her flute with Tamiya “Chrome Silver”.  Using a pine tipped brush, I painted her eyes with Citadel “Ceramite White” and Reaper MSP “Blue Liner”.  Moving on to her hair, I decided to go with blond.  For that, P3 “Sulphuric Yellow”  was my choice.  For her tunic and her earrings, I went with a paint I purchased in West Germany in 1987, Deka Lack “Dunkelblau” (dark blue).  She had a thin sword, and the scabbard I painted with Vallejo “Gun Metal”.

Moving on to her cape, I got another oldie but goodie paint from 1984.  This was Polly-S “Demon Deep Red”, which ironically is older than Chris is!!  I also used that color to base her hair ribbon.  For her breeches, I based with Armory “Prussian Blue”.  For the trim and cuffs on her tunic, I used another Deka Lack paint, “Weiss” (white).  She had a canteen and a pouch on her belt.  These I painted respectively with Vallejo “US Dark Green” and Armory “Brick Red”.  For her leatherwork and straps, I decided on P3 “Bootstrap Leather”.  I needed to finish her metallics, and so I painted her brooch and sword pommel with Vallejo “Silver”, and her belt buckle and scabbard tip with Vallejo “Bright Brass”.   She has a jewel in her brooch, which I painted with Citadel “Soulstone Blue”.  For her base, I used Americana “Hauser Light Green” so as to make later base applications better.

 

4 Bard base coated, front
Bard, front, after base coat

 

 

5 Bard base coated, back
Bard, back, after base coat

 

I then moved on to highlighting and shading the figure.  For her hair, I used successive washes, first with P3 “Sunshine Yellow” and then with Citadel “Reikland Fleshshade”.  I then used a wash on the tunic with Citadel “Agrax Earthshade”.  I then lightly washed her hands with “Reikland Fleshshade”.  To highlight her facial features, I mixed Polly-S “Elf Flesh” with P3 “Ryn Flesh” and applied it to her cheeks, nose, hand and fingers.

For her breeches, I shaded with “Agrax Earthshade”, followed by highlighting with a mix of “Weiss” and “Prussian Blue”.  Lastly, I moved on to her cape and hair ribbon.   Here, I darkened the cape with “Agrax Earthshade”, then highlighted it with Americana “Santa Red”.  I also painted her hair ribbon with “Santa Red”.

To finish the base, I applied Army Painter “Moss Green” flocking with white glue.  Then the figure got two coats of Testors spray “Dullcoat”, allowing for sufficient drying time between coats.  To finish her, I added a yellow flower tuft from Army Painter “Meadow Flowers”.

 

8 Bard finished, front
Finished Bard, frontal view

 

 

9 Bard finished, back
Finished Bard, rear view

 

 

10 Bard finished, side
Finished Bard, side view

Overall, I was pleased with the work I did on the figure.  It was a nice break from my very large Star Duck project.

Chris got it on his birthday, and he loved it!  I am looking forward to hearing of her exploits!

 

 

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