Aztec Serpent Statues

When it comes to building Aztec scenery in a city – I have found symmetry to be a very important consideration both in regards to your design scheme and placement of terrain pieces. Over the last couple of years, I also have found it difficult to find appropriate pieces that fit what I am attempting to build and are not either ruins or priced way too high to consider buying.

In December, I was speaking with Dave Stone of Wargames Sculptors Blog on Zoom (he is in the UK). I had wanted to have a chat with him and we set up something. I knew he had a hobby business, but really I thought he was interesting and someone I’d like to chat with over Zoom. We had a nice talk.

Over the time we spoke, the subject of war canoes came up – and Dave did have an African hollowed out canoe for purchase on his website. After we spoke, he was kind enough to cast one for me to see if it would work, and sadly it was too small. But, in his terrain pieces he did have “Aztec Style Serpent Statues” that looked pretty cool – so I ordered 4 – and Dave cast them up and kindly threw in the canoe (which you can see in my last post here).

The statues went for £6 each. They are resin, and scaled for 28mm gaming. I got the four in December, just in time for (ironically) Dave Stone’s “Paint What You Got” painting challenge (which you should join if interested). Why four – well, yes, this was for that symmetry I mentioned! I also got some LITKO 60mm bases for them as well as I thought they needed them – both for aesthetics and to reduce the chances that they’d get knocked over on the tabletop as they are pretty massive for resin pieces. I washed them and scrubbed them to prepare the statues for priming. They were excellent casts, with a few areas that needed some green stuff in a few bubble holes, but certainly much less than one might expect to find. One was a little lighter color than the other three, but that didn’t matter at all.

I decided that I needed to walk a fine line with these as they are supposed to be statues, and not giant monsters. They had bands on them that could be made of gold, as well as a “skull collection nook” on top that was very Aztec. So I tried to paint them such that they would have an Aztec color flair, but look like they’d fit in Tenochtitlan. I wanted to base them such that they would be centered and strongly affixed to their 60mm bases/plinths. Thus, I decided to make a template and drill out the bottoms for 4 screws.

The template, the model base, and the underside of the model. I used a 7/64″ drill bit and four #4 x 3/4″ screws in each base.

Then it was time to prime them. I went with an brushed application of Vallejo “German Green Brown” primer, then I followed that with an airbrushed layer of Vallejo “Dark Yellow”. After that, a good washing with Secret Weapon Washes “Sewer Water”. As usual, you can see the list of all the paints I used at the end of this post if that interests you.

Doubly primed, looking too much like somebody didn’t clean up after the dog!
After priming, a deep series of washes to get into the recesses.

Then it was time to get base colors onto the models. I went with a yellow theme and a red theme.

After heavy dry brushing. I liked the yellow but the red seemed too dark, so I used a lighter shade on a subsequent drybrush application.
A comparison of the lighter color on the right.

I proceeded to paint all the other aspects of the models – but I wanted to use inks to bring out the features on the serpents’ faces. For that, I use an off white and then add ink in layers.

Before the inks added.

I decided to do a test of possible inks for the heat sensors on the serpents’ heads.

Which green to pick? I chose the Secret Weapon Washes Green ink as it looked almost turquoise. The eyes would have reversed colors (red and yellow) as you see here.
Models all painted here – all I needed to do was add texture to the bases, dry brush that, and varnish!
Top view showing the “skull collection nook”.
View from the back.

I thought it would be useful to show the Aztec Serpent Models with some of the other tabletop figures and terrain I may use.

The four with an Aztec warrior to show scale.
With the Aztec Temple High Throne – my only wish is that the heads could have been mirrored for better symmetry…
…of course I could always do this with 4.
Two by the Sacrificial Altar
…or 4.

Lastly, I needed a way to store them for transport – and I had some extra space in my 32-liter Really Useful Box that I have my buildings in – so I modded up some poster board with hot glue and made a little cubby for them.

I’m pretty happy about these and I will be having them in my cityscape! Do you prefer the yellow or the red – let me know!

Thanks for checking these out.

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

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 THESE AZTEC SERPENT STATUE FIGURES:

  1. LITKO 60mm bases
  2. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  3. #4 x 3/4″ screws
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  6. Vallejo Surface Primer “Dark Yellow”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Secret Weapon Washes “Sewer Water” (wash)
  10. P3 “Sulfuric Yellow”
  11. Americana “Primary Red”
  12. Army Painter “Light Tone” (wash)
  13. Citadel “Astorath Red”
  14. Army Painter “Red Tone” (wash)
  15. Vallejo Mecha Color “Off-White”
  16. Citadel “Morghast Bone”
  17. Citadel “Waaagh! Flesh”
  18. P3 “Red Ink” (ink)
  19. Vallejo Game Ink “Yellow” (ink)
  20. Secret Weapon Washes “Green” (ink)
  21. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Ork Flesh”
  22. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  23. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Skeleton Horde”
  24. Citadel “Armageddon Dust” (texture)
  25. Vallejo Model Air “Gold”
  26. Secret Weapon Washes “Golden Brown” (wash)
  27. Citadel “Nuln Oil GLOSS” (wash)
  28. Vallejo “Satin Varnish”
  29. Citadel “Tallarn Sand”
  30. Citadel “Karak Stone”
  31. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Aztec War Canoes for the Spanish Conquest

During the 16th Century Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica, much of the combat occurred on and around the capital city of Tenochtitlan. That city was built on an island in the middle of Lake Texcoco – effectively making it a fortress city connected to the mainland by multiple causeways. Those causeways had removable bridge sections to hinder any enemy from using the causeways to take the city.

The Aztecs built roads around the lake for trading and military purposes. But also the surrounding lake provided a great opportunity to use war canoes as means to deploy their warriors either on the lake or onto the shoreline. This allowed the Aztecs to dominate Lake Texcoco and its environs for centuries.

In researching possible scenarios to game the period, I found that the need for war canoes (and other aspects) kept coming up. So first, I needed rules for their use – so I wrote them! And now you can have your own free copy of the new and updated 2nd Edition of the Civilizations Collide supplement for games of Feudal PatrolTM  just by clicking here and going to the Sally4th website. Again THIS IS FREE!!

I have identified at least 4 scenarios where war canoes would be needed:

  • July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway (the final breakout attempt by the Spanish continues on the Tacuba causeway out of Tenochtitlan as he is harried on all sides to include by war canoes).
  • Early 1521 – Aztec Raid on the Conquistadores’ Brigantines (The Aztecs attempt to burn Cortes’ assembling fleet before it can set sail on Lake Texcoco).
  • May 22, 1521 – The Battle of Tlacopan (The Aztecs counterattack an attempt by Olid and Alvarado to seize and destroy the aqueduct at Chapultepec which supplies much of Tenochtitlan’s water.  The battle takes place on a causeway with the Aztecs able to use war canoes on both sides of the Spanish and the Spanish have brigantines).
  • June 1, 1521 – The Battle of Lake Texcoco (Cortes leads his brigantines and allied war canoes against the massed Aztec war canoe fleet to seize naval control of Lake Texcoco and begin the siege of Tenochtitlan).

There easily could be other scenarios involving war canoes.

However, finding and sourcing reasonably-priced war canoes was problematic. As readers of this blog know – I was lucky to be able to trade 19 painted Viking figures to my friend Greg Priebe in Maryland for 19 3D-printed canoes. I also got a Blood and Plunder one from Firelock Games at their Historicon booth (for $20 – yikes), as well as a single scratch-built balsa wood one (for $3) from a table at Wally’s Basement at Historicon. Lastly, I got a canoe from Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop (priced at 2 pounds). That made 23 canoes for me to paint up of four different types.

Luckily, Dave Stone is also running a “Paint What You Got” painting challenge over on his page – for stuff you had unpainted from December 26th to the end of January. So these (and some other cool stuff from Dave I’ll hopefully put in a future post coming shortly). But back to the canoes and how I completed them all.

Greg’s stuff arrived safely just before Christmas, as did the one from Dave. I sized up Greg’s – and it looks like they will fit 4 figures well – but 5 was too many as you see below on the left. I gave the Greg canoes a good washing and tried to get as many of the little strings off as I could.

Next, I looked at the other three types. The Blood and Plunder resin one can handle 5 or 6 figures, while the scratch-built balsa wood one would need some seat removal to handle 4 figures. The resin one from Wargames Terrain Workshop is really nice – but was too small to accommodate my 1″-based figures. I can use it as additional nice eye candy on the tabletop, so I put it into the painting queue.

In mocking up the possible transport capabilities of each war canoe model, it became clear that they needed magnets inserted to hold the figures in place during game movement. Otherwise I would risk having figures get damaged or just not be aesthetically pleasing.

I worked out a template plan and drilled out 9/64″ inch holes for 1/8″ neodymium magnets as you see below. Note that I mark the top of the magnets with a red sharpie so that all of the magnets have the same direction of polarization. I also used a similarly-oriented stack of magnets on the underside of the war canoes to properly seat each one on the drilled side in its Gorilla Glue-imbued hole. Otherwise it is VERY easy to have magnets go onto other unwanted ones in other holes. Generally, I stacked two magnets in each of four holes in the war canoes.

Checking to see how the figures would be held in the canoe by the magnets underneath – concept did work!

The next step was to do the same with the other types.

Checking the hold on the balsa wood model – also worked.

Then it was on to priming. In order to really protect the models and to fill in as much of the 3D printed lines, I double-primed these. First, with a brushed on MSP “Black”, then after that dried with an airbrushed application of Vallejo “German Green Brown”. As is my custom, I listed all of the paints that I used at the end of this post for those interested.

The 23 ready for priming.
After the black priming but before adding the brown green primer.

I wanted to make a nice wooden appearance to these – so I decided to serially airbrush a somewhat zenithal series of applications of sequentially-lighter colors on the canoes. Then I would add a sepia wash and see if I needed a darker one inside the canoes (I did).

I went left to right with these colors – followed by a wash. It was a bit tedious as I had two sides to do – and I had to allow enough drying time before reversing the models in order to paint the other sides.

I think I achieved my goal with regards to the wood tones. The balsa wood and B&P models ended up a but darker, but I think that is fine as complete uniformity would not be great. With that said, let’s see how they look on the tabletop with some Aztec Warriors as passengers!

Eye Candy

Flotilla from the starboard side
Close up looking at the bows
Top view, port side
The Blood and Plunder war canoe version with a commander and some warrior priests inside.
The balsa wood war canoe will serve as a command canoe in most scenarios I run, as will the B&P model.
Here they come!
Close up of the front of one of the 3D models.
Aztecs on the move
Jaguar Warriors in a war canoe.
Cuachicque (“Shorn Ones”) and a warrior priest in a war canoe. Normally I will have a designated paddler, likely a novice warrior, in the back of each canoe.
A view of the side of the Jaguar Warriors’ canoe – this shows the wood tone nicely – not too streaky, but naturally not uniform. It also shows that the magnets are holding the figures well.
I was able to fit all 23 of them in a 3-liter Really Useful box with some room to spare. You can see the little Wargames Terrain Workshop canoe nestled in the larger Blood and Plunder model.

I hope that you enjoyed this post. Let me know your thoughts and feedback – always appreciated. And more is to come for sure.

Hint: more Wargames Terrain Workshop terrain coming very shortly!

Miscellaneous details and references for those interested in that sort of thing:

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 THESE WAR CANOE FIGURES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. 1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
  3. Neodymium magnets
  4. MSP “Black Primer”
  5. Vallejo Surface Primer “German Green Brown”
  6. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  7. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  8. Vallejo Model Air “Berman Green Brown”
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Desert Yellow”
  10. Vallejo Model Air “Light”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Sand/Ivory”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Ivory”
  13. Vallejo Mecha Color “Sand Yellow”
  14. Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (wash)
  15. Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (wash)
  16. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Steve's Paint Brush

Grimdark model making and mini painting

Wargamesculptors Blog

Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions

Dead Dick's Tavern and Temporary Lodging

Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions

Guru PIGS Blog

My gaming blog

Wisely lead... without a head!

History, Miniatures and Wargaming

Kuribo's Painting

Painting, Terrain, Dioramas, and Battle Reports Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game and Fallout

Don't Give Greg Ideas

Seriously, just don't

War Across the Ages, and other dark horrors

A discussion of miniatures collecting, painting and gaming.

Classic Warhammer 40K

Painting diary focused on Warhammer 40K 2nd ed., 5th ed. WHFB, related GW games, and miscellaneous whimsy

Colonel Mustard

WW2 Modelling in 1/72 Scale

Bogenwald

Random painting and terrain making.

Pat's 1:72 Military Diorama's

Scale diorama tips and ideas

Arcade Dreams

Building the Arcade Dream

P.B.Eye-Candy

Phil's 20th century wargame pages

SP's Projects Blog

A futile fight against entropy or 'Every man should have a hobby'? Either way it is a blog on tabletop wargames, board games and megagames

30mmdave

Wargaming Plausible reality?

Faith&Steel

dave's gaming adventures: faithandsteel.wordpress.com

The Imperfect Modeller

Miniature Figure Painting and Diorama Modelling

Double Down Dice

Painting miniatures and rolling dice!

Just Needs Varnish!

My ongoing wargames projects!

miniaturepopcorns

Sculpting some worlds

despertaferres

Wargaming with the ability of a dull nine year old

Dawn of the Lead

Miniature wargaming and the occasional zombie

Rantings from under the Wargames table

Wargames, Figures, Sculpting and Converting Miniatures

Simple as War

Miniatures & Terrains

Buck's Blog

Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions

IRO aka Imperial Rebel Ork

- I model - therefore I am -

Azazel's Bitz Box.

Painting, Modelling, Miniatures, 1:6, Games... Whatever else I find interesting.

diggingforvictoryblog

Smallholding and Wargaming.......not always at the same time!

Shamutantis

Nørdblog numero uno

Harry Heckel

Writer/Game Designer

The Lost and the Damned

Fantasy, sci-fi and historical miniature gaming

sho3box

Toy soldier wargaming stuff.

L'ANSPESSADE

L"histoire militaire à lire, à voir, à jouer et à réinventer