This started with the simple idea of just buying a couple of miniatures for the Andor board game. It ended up being an opportunity to get some generic miniatures for all of my games and fix up some miniatures that I've had for decades but never done anything with.
The Invincible Dragon
Sculpt by William Watt
About $50 on Ebay
I've had this dragon statue for over 30 years and never got around to finishing it. Time to fix that.
The first issue is that the wings and heads have fallen off over the years. The model has been moved many times, and I don't think that the contact points were that good to start with. The second issue is that it's large, and I really don't have the time to paint it. Hence the current state of disrepair.
But recently I purchased some much smaller mini's and after getting frustrated with normal super glue discovered "super glue gel". The consistency made it much easier to glue some less than perfect sections together.
As for the painting, a YouTube video about zenithal painting was what I needed to get this done in a reasonable amount of time. In short paint everything black. Then paint a light coat, far away from the model and only at 90 degrees directly above to about 70 degrees above in a circle around the top. This will give some highlights while keeping some shadows. I modified the idea to use a red highlight color instead of white and I'm happy with the results.
While searching for more information about this miniature I came across this incredible page with a ton of information about miniatures.
Lost Minis Wiki
My original intention was to get some miniatures to upgrade the board game Andor. It's a fun game and thought it would be nice to replace the cardboard standups with some real miniatures. After looking online I couldn't find any miniatures that really matched the heroes or monsters so I thought I would take a different approach. Instead of getting miniatures for just this game I would try and get a set of some hero archetypes that could be used in any game.
To save money I was originally going to go with plastic miniatures, but I figured 6-8 miniatures would cover the basic archetypes to I looked for metal. At about $7 a miniature I figured I could get a set delivered for under $60.
Both Reaper and Wizkids are popular, but I liked the selection at Reaper better so I went with them and I am quite happy with them. The only thing that didn't work well for myself was the multipart miniatures that required gluing. Two of mine required gluing and I found it very difficult. I'm not confident of the longevity of the female paladin miniature and expect to have to replace it. When I do I'll be sure to get one that does not require assembly.
In comparison, here is the set I got in the 80's
Of course just getting the miniatures and assembling them is just part of the battle. I don't have the time or skills to paint them but I really wanted them to look like a cohesive set.
This had me stumped until I saw a YouTube video about "zenithal painting". In short, paint everything black. Then use a highlight color like white and lightly spray the model from about 3 feet away but only from the top down to about 30 degrees. This will give some highlights on the top surfaces that will mimic sunlight while still keeping some shadows.
I like the look and it was exactly what I was looking for.
The material used for miniatures has also changed since the 80's.
On the left is my demon miniature from the 80's and on the right are my most recent purchases from 2020.
The difference in color is quite striking. While I'm sure that part of the difference is from age and oxidation it seems that the materials used has also changed greatly in the past 30 years.
From Wikipedia I found this "Traditionally, miniatures were cast in white metal, an alloy of lead and tin. A small amount of antimony was sometimes added to improve the alloy's ability to take fine detail. In 1993, the New York legislature introduced a bill outlawing lead in miniatures, citing public health concerns. Many miniature manufacturers, anticipating that other states would also impose bans, began making figures with lead-free alloys"
One annoying side note to this the lack of consistency in color and finish between modern miniatures. The set of 8 I purchased differed greatly in look and did not seem like a cohesive set. (Another reason I decided that all of them needed to be painted).
One of the things I didn't think about when I purchased my new miniatures was scale. Given that all of the miniatures that I purchased in the 80's seemed to match up, I figured all new miniatures would be the same. It seems that I was wrong in this thought.
The new miniatures are noticeably larger in scale. There is a fair amount online about "heroic scale" but all of the articles say that this is only "exaggerated proportions". I think not.
"Fantasy Lords" #39
About $22 on ebay
The original and solid black
The first pass at painting this resulted in way to much red. I tried adding some black spraying from the bottom upwards at a distance and thought it added the contrast I wanted. The finished product makes a nice set with the dragon.
While looking up this miniature I ran across this interesting bit of trivia. There were two different castings of this miniature. The one I own with a scaled belly and tail wrapped around his leg, and a another with a smooth belly and tail curling up near his wing. I have not heard of a duplicate like this before.
I could find very little information on this and the best information I could find was a Grenadier catalog from 1987. I can just make out the tail so I'm assuming the smooth belly version was what was being sold at that time.
After finding both the Dragon and Orcus statues online I thought I would see if I could find more information about the other six I own from the 80's. It took a couple hours but I was able to find them all. Another amazing win for the Internet.
Again, information from the Lost Minis Wiki was invaluable
Lost Minis Wiki
Wizards and Lizards set
This was a surprise as I always thought this was a model from Ral Partha. There is a stylized S stamped on the bottom but that only narrowed it down to one of 36 companies that start with the letter S.
Now sold by Perth Pewter as "Eagle Knight swinging Sword" AC17
Sculptor: Julie Guthrie
Originally Sold as part of a 3 piece set.
Currently sold at iron wind metals as DF-120
02-356 (found in a 1995 Catalog)
Female Magic User
Player Characters set
By Bob Charrette
For sale at Ral Partha Europe as 03-066
Prince August Miniatures
PAM CH 14
Strange as the only company that still exists, I can't find this particular miniature on their website.
Item A. Illusionist
Grenadier's Advanced Dungeons and Dragons line 1980
2001 Wizards Set
The Necromancer turned into an Illusionist for the Dragon Lords release.
I'm amazed I found this figure as it had a blank base with no markings.
Knights and Magick Figure Sets
1400 The Warlord
My first miniature and a gift from my brother. While very kind of him, now that I can read the description it seems he bought a set with 2 knights, a horse, and a squire. Guess which one I got? Lol!