Monday, March 21, 2011

Remodeling Units

There are three basic thrills that I get when I work on the Lord of the Rings hobby (and in these three areas, all of my friends who collect stand in agreement): playing, painting, and remodeling.

Playing the game is, of course, kind of the reason we collect. Models are fun on their own, but if you are planning on investing money into this hobby, you had better want to play with your work, or they're going to become expensive paperweights.

Painting also has its thrills, as a careful painter can pay attention to the finest detail while he is painting. Making sure each ring of chain mail sparkles or that the folds of clothing are noticeable are all important parts to making the hobby worthwhile.

But beyond the general fun of playing and painting, remodeling stands out as one of the most defining aspects of the hobby. If you simply play with a model or paint a model, that single models looks just like (in form that is) a thousand (or perhaps tens of thousands) of other models across the globe. When you alter a model, you not only get a model that is unique, but you also gain some pride when others look and say, "Huh, never seen that one before...where did you get it?"

I haven't tried too much remodeling with my units until just recently when I got a Khazad Guard that I'm turning into Dain. First, my search for Dain came when I was convinced I liked the Dwarves of Erebor more than the Dwarves of Khazad-Dum (though I do integrate Balin into my army). My desire to find and purchase Dain increased during the time I spent investigating Dwarf armies and finally I decided I really wanted him in my army. At long last, I got around to looking for a single model on Ebay, but when I started bidding, I came to the startling realization that everyone seems to want him. This not only annoyed me, but convinced me that I was looking for the right unit. :-) And so, I looked online for other Dwarves and I came across the following unit, who was a Khazad Guard.

Dain Before:

As you can see, he came with everything above his hands missing, so I got to play with changing a two-handed axe bearing Dwarf from my Dwarf Warrior set into a banner (see later) and changing the Khazad Guard into Dain. The idea was to change the paint job to fit my army better (both for the base and for the armor and tunic). The unit would focus on Dain in a battle pose, which is my only critique of the Dain model that GW has created.

Dain After:

I cut off the axehead and shaved parts of the back of the axe off, to make the axehead less diamond shaped and more like Dain's (which looks surprisingly like Balin's, by the way). In order for the axehead to look different from the rest of the force, I've changed the curve of the blade on the front as well, making it a well-rounded curve with parts cut off the back of the blade too. Once everything was ready, I painted up the blade to see how it looked and was rather pleased with my effort. I then cemented the axe head onto the Khazad Guard unit with household cement. After a few failed attempts to do this, I finally got it the way I wanted. You can't see some of the detail in this picture, but there is a Dwarf "D" rune on Dain's axe (for the bearer's name) and a Dwarf "B" rune on the other side (for the weapon's name - Barazantathul).
You can also see that I colored the unit's armor with silver metal, but left some of the gold undercoat visible (my take on mithril mail). I also changed the boot color to be more of a solid silver color, making it more like armored boots instead of travel boots. The base was converted from a green grass to a gray rock, to fit the theme of the rest of the army. All told, I think the painting scheme turned out okay. all this work worth it? Working on the model took me the better part of 3 hours (alone), plus time for the cement to dry (which happened while I slept and went to work), but it was all worth it in the end.

With Dain out of the way, my focus came towards the Dwarf banner bearer (who would steal Samwise Gamgee's base, as I was shorted some bases from GW with my shipment of Dwarves. I took the unit and did the best I could at making a banner for it. The banner is very thick and is made from part of the plastic sprue. It is glued to the unit with household cement, which takes about an hour to dry in place and 24 hours to cement well.

Dwarf Banner After:

The unit, as you can see, has a very thick banner shaft with a worn but decent banner added to it (which was made from gum wrapper, actually). The unit has been painted like the rest of his kinband and sports a banner with the Dwarf rune "D" on it (for Dain, of course). On the other side is Dain's name spelled out in runes...
All told, I liked working on this unit, since he adds not only a great bonus to the army, but because unlike Dain, this unit didn't have a simple fix. It took me about 2 hours to get the sprue prepared for the initial cementing and another 30 minutes to paint and prepare the banner. I've seen more creative conversions for a unit like this, but given that this is my first attempt, I'm pleased with how it turned out. If you are interested in a better conversion, you should check out "Sim's Battle Board" here (he gave me the idea to convert this unit).

Anyway, enjoy your adds a richness to the game that you really can't underestimate. These conversions weren't very good, but they did give me ideas for future conversions and how to work with the materials I have.

The following picture is my updated Dwarf army (still missing 3 Dwarves, who have yet to get their bases):

Click on the picture for an up-close view on the units.