Monday, March 31, 2014

Entry #1 to the 8th Lead Painters' League: 30mm Goblin War Party

As I mentioned last week I decided to join this year's Lead Painter's League (LPL) over at the Lead Adventure Forum. I participated in the event last year and I found it good fun and a great source of impetus to get some work done on my own projects.

This year the LPL kicked-off only three days after the end of the Challenge which put me in a bit of a flap to meet the deadline requirements.  Since the LPL rules require the first three entries to be sent together, AND all three entries have to be 'unpublished' miniatures, I had to keep some figures back from the Challenge, which was a bit of a bummer. So, fellow 'Wild Bunchers',  if you were wondering why I had 'flatlined' at the end of the Challenge this is why.

The first round of the LPL gave bonus points for aligning to its theme which was 'Realms of Fantasy'. I was wracking my mind trying to decide what to do and then discovered that Tom Meier has his own company, Thunderbolt Mountain which has a range of 30mm fantasy figures which provide a modern, arguably more sophisticated, take on the classic work he did for Ral Partha in the 80s. So I plunked down for a set of groovy looking goblins and waited for them to arrive. 

And waited. And then I sighed heavily and waited some more. 

Finally, when they did arrive, it was only a few days before the LPL deadline, right in the midst of the closing Big Push of the Challenge.  In the end I had to burn some (more) midnight oil in order to crack them off in a few frenzied hours of gluing, painting and flocking. I don't know if it was the time crunch or what, but I had a hard time getting any real traction with these guys. It's certainly no fault of the figures - they're wonderful castings, clean, crisp, with great character and requiring very little cleanup. Nevertheless, I staggered to the photo-booth in the early morning light not really feeling the love. 

That all being said I actually had fun working on them. I'm not a big fan of GW's ubiquitous bright green used for their orcs and goblins so decided to go with a darker, olive hued skin, with mottled charcoal patches on their arms, upper legs and shoulders. I also played around with the hair of the drummer, making him a blonde. I thought I'd follow a spur of the Tolkien canon, I think it's from the Silmarillion, which postulates that orcs and goblins are corrupted  versions of elves.  Along this line I'm thinking of having some sort of debauched elf warlord as the leader of this force - I'm imagining something like a Dirk Bogarde with pointy ears.

Bonzo 'Boom Boom' Thrakka with his dwarf-skin bass drum (assisted by junior goblin roadie)

Not surprisingly, I got completely curb-stomped in the first round by this excellent D&D themed group of adventurers painted by Frank. (As I lamely pointed out, with the LPL organizers matching us up they managed to cover off two great adjectives for this round. Y'know, 'Curt and Frank'. Get it? 'Curt and Frank' ...Ahem. Okay, move along...)

I particularly like the faithful pooch sitting on the far right.

While I really enjoy many elements of the League, such as its efficient (and patient) administration, painting towards ten weekly targets and the camaraderie of fellow contestants, I do find some of the rules a bit byzantine. The restriction of just one 800x800 image for each round seems cruelly limiting. Why not allow  a few more images, at a greater size, with varying angles? These are three dimensional objects after all, not flat figures. As it stands now viewers miss at least 50% of the work put into the submissions with this restriction. It also puts a tremendous amount of pressure on participants to compose one good image to convey the best of their work.  While some participants are gifted photographers (my stuff is serviceable at best), many people do not have the patience or skills to consistently create 'good copy' of their submissions, even though their paintwork may be brilliant.

The other thing that sort of piques me is the elaborate backgrounds that the organizers allow, well, actually encourage. To me this seems to fly in the face of a competition that compares figure painting. I often read the comments from visitors of how they are impressed by the use of particular backgrounds, terrain, etc. This is completely understandable, but I often wonder to what extent some of these backgrounds skew the consideration of the voters. By my understanding, this event is supposed to compare painted figures, not the settings they are placed within. Accordingly I've stuck to using my usual black backgrounds as it forces the viewer to just see the figures, for good or ill.

Anyway, these minor peccadilloes aside I really do appreciate all the hard work put into the event. Anything that can bring hobbyists together in a well-run, constructive forum over ten weeks is a great boon.

On a final note, Round 2 of the Painters' League is now up so I invite you to go check it out. 

For this round I've posted five more of my 1812 French Retreat figures that I kept back from the Challenge. Alan Perry really hit the ball out of the park with this range of figures - they're absolutely gorgeous castings. I'll have the lads posted here next Sunday when the round is finished, but you can get a 800x800 preview of them on the Round 2 League roster. :)