Halloween Diorama with Classic Movie Monsters from 1970’s Ral Partha

When I was young boy, the local TV station would show an old monster or horror movie on Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes these were the of the 1960’s Japanese Godzilla et. al. genre, other times they were the B-movie sci-fi stuff from the 1950’s.  Even the British Hammer remakes would be shown.  Those were all cool, but the best ones were the classic 1930’s and 1940’s films like “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), and “The Wolf Man” (1941).

My dad would enthusiastically watch these films with us and I have really special memories of those occasions.  Now of course every movie ever made can be had immediately, but back then you had to wait and hope that they would be coming on – and that made their rare showings quite eventful.  The subjects of those movies have seen numerous remakes, but the originals remain classics and have had a huge impact on popular culture.

One of those influences was in the creation of games with monsters, such as Dungeons and Dragons (and others) – and the miniatures that were used with them – such as 25mm scale figures from Ral Partha.  For US folks unfamiliar with 25mm scale – this is the common Ral Partha scale in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it means that each figure is only about 1″ tall.

I first was exposed to Ral Partha miniatures in 1982 – and have loved them ever since.  Sculptors such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, and Dennis Mize made fantastic creations that were true scale, not “hero scale” as many of today’s miniatures are.  Ral Partha figures are still made today in Cincinnati by Iron Winds Metals.  When I returned to the hobby in 2014, I acquired many of the old figures in various lots of figures on eBay.  Among these of which I came into possession were several of the old classic movie monsters.  They often were encrusted with the types of thick enamel hobby paint that was commonly used back then.  I stripped many (with some damage), and put them away for future consideration.

That future consideration arrived this month.  A local hobby store, Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has gaming and other hobby events that you can read about here.   One of these events was “The Great Pumpkin Halloween Hobby Challenge”.  The store had a pumpkin patch for figures to be displayed – and the only rules were that there needed to be a pumpkin (provided for $5 as entry) as part of the figure – and that it needed to be submitted by October 28th.  I decided that my filed-somewhere Ral Partha monsters would make a nice diorama for the challenge.  I dug into my stash, and found that I had 5 suitable figures, two werewolves, one mummy, one Dracula, and one Frankenstein’s Monster.  I wanted to push myself with the mini-diorama – as I have been admiring many of those by theimperfectmodeler for years (check one of his recent dioramas here).  I am nowhere near his creative league (he is award-winning) – but his work is inspiring and I wanted to see if I could accomplish something of which I could be proud.  I decided to use an old DVD and card as a base and a Woodlands Scenics rock as elevation.  The edge of the pumpkin patch would be on the DVD so I could line it up on the display at the store.

The effect that I wanted was that of having these classic monsters coming from off the pumpkin patch and moving to prey upon the unwary townsfolk beyond.

1 4 bases
1976 and 1979 figures’ bases.  From left to right is Frankenstein’s Monster (1979), Dracula (1976), The Mummy (1976), and one of the two werewolves (both were 1979).
2 cd and stone and card
The base was an old DVD sanded down – and a Woodland Scenics resin stone.
3 cd and stone and card painted
I decided to brush paint the base with primer to keep the stone pristine (and away from any airbrush mistakes).  I also wanted to have a great bond between the stone and the DVD so I affixed it prior to painting along with a piece of polystyrene card to cover the hole.

Again, these are 25mm figures so they don’t stand out like larger models.  This is what we had back in the day!  I will share details of each of the five models, and then the completed piece.  As is my custom, I will list the paints and materials I used at the end of this post for those interested.  I did use many Citadel Contrast paints as base paints.

Dracula

The Dracula/vampire model was #01-014, a Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  The base had “Ral Partha 1976” on it.  I probably over-cleaned it – but the details on it – especially the face – were not great.  Trying to get the right skin tone for Dracula was a challenge – and the lack of detail did not help.  I wanted Dracula to be the highest model on the diorama – like he was sending his evil minions forth.  The rock had a nice place for me to place Dracula’s base as its size and shape were considerations as well (it was not a removable base).

1 Dracula unpainted
Dracula after cleaning – I probably got aggressive trying to remove the old enamel (note the scratches).
2 Dracula mounted for painting
Dracula mounted and ready for airbrush priming and traditional brush painting thereafter.  I did use many of the new GW Contrast Paints on all of these models, but ended up needing other paints and products as well.
3 Dracula painted
Dracula painted and varnished.
4 Dracula mounted
Dracula mounted on the diorama.

The Mummy

The Mummy model was #01-020, another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  It was also from 1976.  This was the easiest to paint and I thought it came out as desired.

1 Mummy unpainted
After cleaning and stripping, there were still remnants of the old paint job, but these were not an issue.
2 Mummy prepped for painting
The Mummy, mounted for painting.
3 Mummy painted
After painting and varnish – looking very old school Egyptian.
4 Mummy mounted
The Mummy mounted on the diorama.

The Were Wolf (crouching model)

The were two werewolf models that I used.  The first werewolf was in a crouch.  This model was “Were Wolf” #01-061, (two words) – yet another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  However this one was from 1979.  I wanted to have this one climbing up the back slope of the rock, giving a little more depth to the piece.

1 Werewolf crouching unpainted
Some of the original paint can still be seen.
2 Werewolf crouching prepped for painting
The Were Wolf mounted for painting.  The detail on this model was still in good shape.
3 Werewolf crouching painted
A close-up shot of the model after I painted and varnished it.
4 Werewolf crouching mounted
The mounted monster climbs the back of the rock.  Here again, I needed to deal with the base.

The Werewolf (standing model)

This is the second of the two werewolf models that I used.  This model is standing (and this one is wearing pants).  It is “Werewolf” #98-003, (one word).  This could have been sculpted by Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, or Dennis Mize, as the Lost Minis Wiki is not clear on that.  The sculpt is from the The Adventurers line and has 1979 on the base.  I wanted this beast standing in the front of the diorama.

1 Werewolf standing unpainted
The Werewolf cleanup up – I do not think this model was previously painted.
2 Werewolf standing prepped for painting
The Werewolf mounted for painting.  The size of the small base was helpful in mounting to the diorama.
3 Werewolf standing painted
The figure after completion.
4 Werewolf standing mounted
The Werewolf moves forward on the diorama.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often called “Frankenstein”, this is actually Frankenstein’s Monster (created of course by Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  The model is another one from The Adventurers line and has the designation #98-003.  The detail on this was also fairly good for a model from 1979.

1 Frankenstein's Monster unpainted
The model after I cleaned it as best as I could – some old paint remnants remain.
2 Frankenstein's Monster mounted for painting
The Monster mounted for painting – I did not want to take away any detail here as I thought it was pretty good.
3 Frankenstein's Monster painted
The painted Monster.  I went with heavy eyebrows as before I did the effect of the brow was not what I wanted.  Close up it has a little Groucho Marx look – but at a distance it worked – at least for me.
4 Frankenstein's Monster mounted
Moving to the attack!

The Pumpkin

The pumpkin was a from a Reaper sprue -and had to be part of the contest submission.

Basing the models after painting them required a bit of landscaping.  To fit better on the hobby challenge table, I made a field edge with Citadel “Stirland Battlefield” on the field and “Agrellan Badlands” on the rest of the ground.  I added autumn leaves from 4Ground (now available from Warlord Games here) to the still-wet texture paints and some matte varnish droplets on the rock.  These were placed as how I thought they would naturally collect – as well as to break up the form of the flat mini bases that were mounted on the rock.  Then, I used a handheld hair dryer to dry the terrain (and crack the Agrellan Badlands a bit).    I added some grasses from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures.  These also helped to hide Dracula’s base a bit.

6 Dracula and crouching Werewolf mounted
The Dracula figure and the crouching Were Wolf are mounted on the rock here with Gorilla Glue.  For better adhesion, I scraped away the black primer where I was going to mount the other three figures.  This also allowed me to mount them sequentially.  Doing this made it easier to paint and hide the figures’ bases with the texture paint products.
7 figures mounted, front side
The texture paints are still wet here.  I created the pumpkin patch edge with “Stirland Battlefield”, the rest with “Agrellan Badlands”.  I put a few dots of matte varnish on the low spots on top of the rock for the leaves.  While the paints were still wet, I sprinkled the autumn leaves about as you see here, then used a hair dryer to dry and crack the ground.
8 figures mounted, left side
A right side view of the same as previous.
9 figures mounted, rear side
A rear view of the previous.
10 figures mounted, right side
A left side view of the previous.

Once it all had dried, I removed the piece from the poster tack.

11 finished
Finished piece.

I then drove down to Great Stories to get it entered.  There are a lot of nice pieces there, so we’ll see how it does – and of course most folks who will vote are not used to wee 25mm scale!  It did mesh well with the edge of the pumpkin patch.  At the least, I’ll have a Halloween decoration for many years!

12 on Hobby Challenge table
The Pumpkin Patch is alive with creatures!
12a on Hobby Challenge table
Side view of the previous shot.

Thanks for looking – and I always love getting feedback and any opinions in the comments section, so feel free to post there.

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

On the base:

  1. Gorilla Glue gel
  2. Poster tack
  3. Used DVD
  4. Polystyrene card
  5. Woodland Scenics resin rock
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  7. Citadel “Stirland Battlemire” (texture)
  8. Citadel “Agrellan Badlands” (texture)
  9. 4Ground Loose Copper Foliage
  10. Shadow’s Edge Static Grass Tufts
  11. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Commonly used on all figures for mounting, priming, and varnishing:

  1. Poster tack
  2. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  3. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

On the Dracula figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gulliman Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  3. Vallejo “Light Flesh”
  4. Army Painter “Flesh Wash”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Black”
  8. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  10. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On The Mummy figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  3. Citadel “Longbeard Grey” (dry)
  4. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On the Were Wolf figure (crouching):

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  5. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  7. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  8. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  12. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On the Werewolf figure (standing)

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  6. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  7. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  8. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  10. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On Frankenstein’s Monster figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Plaguebearer Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Militarum Green”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  7. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “Black”

On the pumpkin:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Hound Orange”
  2. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  4. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)

Thanks for looking!