Wednesday, September 17, 2014

No One Wins 'Em All

I think I have mentioned here before that I mark my start into the hobby with the week that the "Dark Millennium" expansion came out for 2nd Edition 40K.
Summer 1994. It was all downhill from here.
I still have a very vivid memory of looking through a friend's White Dwarf and getting completely hooked looking at the pictures of minis (Andy Craig's Harlequins were the first to make an impression, and still remain my favorite 'Eavy Metal minis of all time) and reading a Priestly/Johnson battle report (High Elves/Greenskins). Here was the hobby I had been looking for all my life- a Venn diagram showing the meeting of art (I grew up a military modeler), battle tactics (I have poured over battlefield maps showing troops movements my whole life), and gaming (I think half my time at college was spent playing chess, Risk, and Axis & Allies).

My first minis were the Space Marines that came in the 2nd edition 40K box. I think I established my standard operating procedure by attempting to exactly copy the Blood Angels from the pictures (I am notorious for having issues with coming up with my own color schemes, much preferring the ones that already look good that other people have come up with). Mine were noticeably worse than the ones Mike McVey painted for the trade pics.
These are not my minis.

Shortly after getting the Marines painted up, I sprung for the 4th edition WHFB box as well, thus cementing my early addiction to GW's brand of plasticrack. At the same time, I found my first true love in the hobby when I built the High Elf army from the box.
How many hours did I spend with this? Many, many, many.
I think I have collected, painted, gamed with, and sold off six High Elf armies at this point, which now that I have actually counted them up sounds completely absurd. My current one is, unsurprisingly, the best of the group- Caradryan up there in my banner is from my army. I haven't pictured it much on the blog, because it is mostly newer models that I painted when I delved back into the hobby big time a few years ago now.

I have recently begun adding older elf models that I will be painting in the coming months, once the Barrowmaze and dwarf projects are done. I did want to share today's completion, though, because it ties in with all this reminiscing. See, there was a point after all. . .

The High Elf models back in the day always gave me fits to paint. I can say now with conviction that it was NOT MY FAULT. They are not easy to paint minis. They absolutely do not "paint themselves." They are very, very hard to make look good- hell, even the 'Eavy Metal versions circa 3rd edition are pretty underwhelming, especially when compared to everything else being released at the time.

I remember in the 90's starting a unit of the original Dragon Princes (sculpted by none other than the Elf Master himself, Jes Goodwin) and literally throwing one across the room because it was so impossible to make look nice.

These elves have their details crammed impossibly close together. Their scaling leaves a lot to be desired. They are covered with those damned gems EVERYWHERE. They are quite simply not very good models.

But of course I love them anyway. I am a hopeless devotee to this army.

I have learned, too- always have faith that a bigger unit arranged together will always make the underwhelming individuals look 100% better.

So, what's the most challenging group of minis you have ever painted? I'd love to hear of your triumphant struggles against difficult sculpts in the comments. Have a good one, brethren.


  1. Funny to read, for me all the Jes Goodwin models I've painted have always been the easiest to paint, especially those chaos champions. That said, i never tried those elves so I may have picked the good ones !

    Amongst the models I never truly managed to paint well, I'd say the chaos power armoured squats are on th etop of th elist. Even recently, Idid not do them justice. The sculpt is good in some places and the casts are not the best but I think it's mainly the design which is not good for my painting style (or the other way round). It's funny how in a painting life one can change. When I started, I dreaded naked models and only loved the ones with lots of littel details (Jes sculpted a whole load of those esp. in the marines range) today, I'd retaher have a model with less bling and nice clothing to shade and highlight (though I can't stand big flat areas).

    1. I totally agree that under almost all circumstances, Jes's models are really fun and simple to paint- the whole "paints itself" sense. But he really missed on the high elf range in the 80's and 90's. Even his eldar from that era are great- I do still have my rt eldar band, but those original high elves are long, long gone.