Wednesday, 25 July 2012

They’re guns, they’re in hands, so that makes them…

… certainly not Dogs of War pistol-wielding Duellists that have been press-ganged into service as Empire Handgunners.

This unit narrowly misses out on the Most Tenuous Conversion award, thanks to the bow-armed Pistoliers (mind you, you haven’t seen who’ll be proxying for my Knights or Warrior Priest yet). Still, those Mordheim pistols are pretty long in the barrel…

Empire handgunners
Ten shooters and only one of them is aiming forward.
That grassy knoll has nothing to worry about.

This unit is the last use of my Empire Militia plastics (the remaining ones got painted up as an actual Mordheim gang) and I think I was getting carried away with their potential for conversions. Previously, I’d managed to add some personal touches to the Free Company and Crossbows with a snip here and there and dash of Green Stuff. This time, I went a bridge too far.

To start with the overall look. As Duellists, I planned to make them up as desperado-types, which is why I saved all my longcoat torsos for them. I also wanted them to have red scarves, masks, bandanas (and, in one case, balaclava) – partly to add to the lynch mob feel, and also because I thought I’d seen an Australian TV series in the mid-80s called “The Firestarter” where the eponymous character wears a brown coat and masks himself with a red scarf (although IMDB tells me I was imagining things).

Empire handgunners
"You shoot straight ahead. I've got us covered from directly above and below." 

As skirmishers, they were built in dramatic poses, since it didn’t matter how they ranked up (which is why they look a little crowded now). I also wanted them have one or two pistols, and since the Mordheim sprue only provides two variants, some converting was needed.

The results of the conversions were mixed. Some I think I got away with; others look horribly cack-handed or just needed some more putty to cover the joins. The best miniatures in this lot are the ones where I just used the pieces unaltered, so that’s a probably a lesson: weapons swaps are easy enough to do, but it’s a tougher prospect trying to change pose and posture with just a pair of clippers.

Empire handgunners
Pictured: the physical rehabilitation members of the regiment. 

The Green Stuff was also an example of my overreaching myself: I wanted each piece of headgear to be different (often to disguise a plastic head I’d used before – so even after using this sprue for a third unit, most of the appearances are unique). Again, some of the attempts came out okay, but others just looked clunky – and in the case of the balaclava gentleman, like I’d just dumped a blob of Green Stuff on his shoulders and poked at it with a toothpick (not far from the truth). I think, with both converting and sculpting, I was overestimating what sins a paint job could cover.

The blunderbus guy more-or-less works, if you assume he's firing high and only has one sleeve rolled up. I wanted the balaclava guy to be a two-gun hip-shooter - unfortunately to make his torso lean back far enough to the get guns pointing where I wanted, I had to sculpt a beer-belly for him, to cover the gap in his midriff.

Empire handgunners
"Do these pistols make me look fat?"

One of the redeeming features about this unit is the burning torches. Continuing the desperado-theme, I’d lopped off the top of an axe and a club and sculpted some Green Stuff flames on the sticks. Not too fussy, but quite effective when painted Sunburst Yellow with a Red Ink wash. I wish I'd done the whole lot like that.

Empire handgunners
Inspire a Generation.

For the leader, I went back to the ‘bald, moustached’ head – and though it seems like I use him all the time, this was the only occasion I used him unaltered (when you think about it, it really is a great sculpt, but far too distinctive for a regiment sprue). He gets a red scarf around his neck (the match the mark of authority of the Free Company sergeant) and gold braid across his coat, rather than brown.

Empire handgunners
"All right, I'm coming out. Any man I see out there, I'm gonna shoot him."

The colour scheme was a straightforward one of earth tones, muddied with ink (I would take this a lot further with the Mordheim gang). Snakebite Leather coats and Bleached Bone shirts, both glazed with thinned Brown Ink. Trousers were Shadow Grey. Guns were Chaos Black, drybrushed Mithril Silver and Desert Yellow, glazed with Brown Ink.

The scarves were Blood Red, glazed with Brown Ink. Where the masks covered the eyes, I filled in the sockets with Black Ink before adding in the whites and the irises. I don't think it had the desired effect (the desired effect was that they would look like Batman, not folks on their way to a Jack Sparrow fancy dress party).

Empire handgunners
"Wait 'till you see the whites of their eyes, lads. Unless they've been painted lazy." 

Yeah, those things totally have a 24” range.

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