Friday, March 7, 2014

Gandalf vs. The Balrog

Gandalf and the Balrog are finally complete! This set is the first release from Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings miniatures line. I bought it ages ago and never had the technique for painting fire down, so I got frustrated with it and left it sit in my minis collection. Now, years later it is finished.

I've always wanted to finish these two. The idea to put them facing off on the bridge really appealed to me. But I lacked the confidence to build the terrain, assemble the minis with green stuff,  and paint the fire properly. I had already assembled and painted the Balrog once. But I didn't like how it turned out, the flame was bad, the seams were showing and it was poorly assembled. So, I soaked him in Pine-Sol for a few days and stripped the paint all down and started over.

I started the Balrog first, following all the tricks I learned from Hot Lead. I really like how the fire areas turned out, it's possibly the best job I've ever done with flames. As you can see in this picture, I was working on Do Not Pass Gandalf as well (Actually Gandalf was a side project that I was working on in between fire coats). 

Luckily while I was waiting on the Balrog, I was able to start constructing the base. Like a lot of terrain,
it's made out of pink insulation foam. I made it by stacking layers of it together and splicing in the bridge section. Once that was done, I covered it with drywall filler to help give it that rough stone look.

Once the fire was completed, I could start the long process of painting in the blacks. It was very tedious and time consuming, plus I was super worried about nicking the fire with the paint brush. It took me about two solid nights to paint all the black, between waiting for paint to dry and the slow pace. It was tough deciding on how solid I wanted the black. Since the Balrog is a being of pure shadow and flame and techinically NOT solid, but the miniature is NOT fluid. I ended up keeping the main body solid black and I think it looks better that way. If I would have tried to make it seem like the shadow was swirling, it would have looked like a half ass paint job on my part. And that's something I couldn't have lived with in the end.

As I was working on the base I needed to plan ahead for mounting. So I added pins into the base and drilled holes into the feet of both Gandalf and the Balrog. Of course, I realized too late that the shape of it makes it tippy and off balance. The Balrog is positioned pretty close to the fulcrum point. That said, as soon as Gandalf is placed in position the whole thing tips over. So rather than start the base over, I scrounged the bits box for a flying base and stuck it under the bridge.

I was all set to get started on painting the base, and already had it base coated black. But I remembered that the foot of the Balrog is sitting on rocks. In order to help blend it in with the top of the base, I needed more rocks! Easy enough solution. I glued the Balrog in place, then broke up some more foam, added some resin rock pieces and shale. Since the Balrog was now permanently attached, that meant I'd have to paint around him. But it turned out to be a bonus, because I was able to use him as a grip while I dry brushed the base.

With the base finished, the road was nearing it's end and all that was left was Gandalf. I painted him pretty much the same way I did the previous one, but a little darker. This time for the hair I mixed in a little brown to give it a more natural color. And for his staff I added reds to the dark brown to help keep it a different color than his leathers. I'm pretty happy with happy I snapped him off the painting base and glued him in place without taking detail shots of him...

It's super nice to finally have this
project under my belt. It's especially nice when you think that this set came out sometime around 2001. That's 13 years of sitting in a box or half painted! That thought alone makes me proud to have finally had the patience, skills and know-how to see this to the end. I'm extremely pleased with the end result and it was completely worth ripping it apart and starting over from scratch.

Unfortunately, I've not done a 360 video. I'm worried about the tippiness of the piece and it rotating. If I can find a decent solution to it, I'll update the post with the video!