Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tiny Little Superheroes

15mm superhero miniatures?  Really?


A few years ago (wow, has it been THAT long?) I decided to switch entirely to 15mm for all of my miniature collections.  The coming of fantastic, characterful 15mm miniatures from companies such as Blue Moon Manufacturing, Khurasan Miniatures, Rebel Minis and many others tipped me over the edge.

I'd been considering the change for some time.  My collection was huge, taking up far too much storage space.  It spanned all manner of periods and scales.  And the larger figures took so long to paint to my standards that I was progressing through the collection at a pace far, far slower than an ant's crawl.

15mm, especially given the new waves of figures in this scale, seemed like a good solution.  I can paint them quickly to a standard I enjoy.  They take up far less space when finished and stored.  The accompanying terrain is a great deal smaller than 28mm or 54mm terrain as well.  And I could collect and paint figures in all of the genres I enjoyed most, making those collections out of figures I loved.

The most challenging "period" to create a collect, and one of my favorites, was for superhero games.  When I started collecting 15mm supers and their henchmen/agents/followers, there were hardly any purpose-made figures.  Rebel Mini had one pack.  Old Glory had two.  What to do?

I found the challenge really interesting.  It made me stretch my creative muscles, as I cast around looking for suitable additions.  And the figures I decided on shaped the style of superhero games I'll play with this collection.

First, I started with those existing packs.  That gave me twenty-five heroes and villains.  Not a bad start.  To these, I added some of the wonderful un-powered criminal types from Rebel Minis.  Armed gunmen.  Street punks.  And a pack of their terrific, characterful Mall Cops.  Then I started going through my existing figure collection, looking for other additions.

Rebel Miniatures from "15mm Super Hero Pack A"
Chrome-plated U.S. "lucky smiling penny" for scale

Some time ago, I started collecting 25mm familiars.  Particularly any tiny golem/construct figures.  I intended to make a fantasy army from these figures, themed around the constructions of a mad wizard.  The majority were from Reaper Miniatures Warlord familiars packs and their pack of Evil Toys.  But within that collection, I found a lot of very nice figures that work well in 15mm as (more or less) man-sized constructs.  These became the agents/henchmen/creations of a kind of Mad Hatter villain (for whom I am still seeking just the right miniature).  I also had a number of Epic scale Games Workshop robots.  These, too, were just about man-sized in 15mm, and make very nice robots servants or heroes/villains.

The Elementals (yeah, I need a better name)
Reaper familiars, D&D plastic Earth Mephit, MageKnight Wood Golem in the back

Khurasan Miniatures and Critical Mass Games both have deep sci-fi collections, including aliens that make good star-faring, space opera heroes and villains.  Some of these were sculpted by the same man who made the Rebel superheroes, so they fit the slight, well-defined style of these miniatures perfectly.

Similarly, the old MechWarrior clix game has several kinds of battle armor units.  Some of these make very nice hyper-armored characters.  I particularly like the Kanazuchi, Wraith and (with a little trimming...those rocket pods are ridiculous) Salamander battle armor figures.  The Infiltrator Mk I battle armor figure makes a good robot servitor as well.

Reaper miniatures makes 28mm superheroes in their Chronoscape line.  A couple of these, when posed to look downward and to loom over their 15mm foes, will serve nicely as Giant heroes and bad guys.  I particularly like Jackhammer and Crosswire for this purpose.  While paging through the Reaper website collecting links for this post, I noticed these aliens.  A couple of packs of these would make a fun, giant-sized invading alien story arc.  And, I really want a Jeeves, for a steampunk superheroes sub-collection I'm thinking about...

Robotic servants of a mechanical mastermind were a must, and easily added to the collection.  There are lots of options. In my case, I found about twenty old 25mm Denizen robots (the bottom/torso parts of SF46) in the bits bin at a local game store.  They're all identical, but they're drones so that's a good thing.

Last month, Rebel Minis added a pack of supervillains to their line, sculpted by that same very talented sculptor.  So naturally I added those to the collection.

At this point, I have about a hundred figures for this collection.  It is heavy on individual costumed characters, and has a few themed teams or henchmen groups included.  The collection really captures the mid-1980's, four-color, over-the-top feel well, in my opinion.  Which suits me well, as that's when I was collecting and reading comics by the score.

I've primed about half of them (white...which helps with the vivid colors I use for this collection), and treated them with a grey ink wash to help bring out the shadows.  At the start, I'm painting them one figure at a time, treating them as individual characters.  When I get to the agent groups, or a uniformed team of heroes, I'll get up to painting a small handful at a time, but I'm enjoying lavishing attention on each figure for now.  It's a nice break from painting armies.

More as I slowly finish more figures, and play some games.


PMMDJ said...

Heh. I've been quietly collecting the same 15mm superhero packs, because again, once you get into 15mm, it's just too tempting.

I hope my paint jobs turn out as good as yours!

Will Scarvie said...

Thanks very much! For what it's worth, here's my approach:

1) basecoat white. I prefer a spray primer because it's a thinner coat, but I'm out so I'm using white paint.

2) half-strength coat of P3 armor wash. The point of this is just to shade the white enough to let me see the detail. It's a medium gray wash, leaving the white fairly white.

3) stain paint (i.e. thin the paint a lot) the primary colors.

4) use a shading wash on all areas. Armor wash for reds, blues, white (though this is just the base coat, and it's already been washed), grays, purples and steel/iron metallics. Brown ink for oranges, yellows, browns, greens and flesh.

5) carefully paint highlights in the original base color, then again with a lightened mix of the base color plus white or yellow.

Hope this helps!