Painting up an old-school Chaos fantasy warband

Sometimes a batch of miniatures falls into your lap that really captures your imagination. This occurred at Little Wars, when Patrick and I bought a huge bin of assorted fantasy and historical figures from a vendor. Inside we discovered quite a lot of Grenadier Fantasy Warriors figures, including seven Chaos Knights.

I was immediately taken with these early-90s figures, which portray quite a bit of menace and ill intent without relying on mounds of skulls or obvious evil ornamentation.

They arrived at the perfect time. I had been planning a "bad guy" warband for our upcoming Song of Blades and Heroes summer fantasy campaign, but the Reaper Bones Kickstarter containing the figures still hasn't arrived. So for now at least, I've built the warband almost completely using figures taken from the aforementioned bin of lead. Look for more posts as this force comes together.

I've dubbed them the Night Herons of The Black Crown. They hail from the far north, where they live well, raise families, fight for their leige lords and lead apparently honorable -- perhaps somewhat indulgent -- lives as knights. However, from time to time they are called away to don the red armor and fight for the Dark Gods to whom they owe their worldly success and standing.

As I mentioned above, these knights are clearly not "good guys," but I appreciate that it's achieved without covering them in skulls and iconography (though a few do have a small human or bird skull pendant). In fact, with a different paint scheme, they might even blend in as regular old armored knights.

Though I was able to find seven of these figures in the bin of lead, Grenadier only produced five different sculpts, which is a real shame as I'd love to have more.

This first knight is my favorite of the batch. Maybe it's my affection for vintage "beaky" Space Marines.

The halberdier is nice also. A whole rank of these would look quite imposing.

The morningstar-wielder proved a bit more difficult to photograph.

Here are the Swordsmen. If not for the Games Workshop figure pictured further down, the fellow with the chain around his arm would probably be the leader.

In the depths of my own collection I found a 1989 Games Workshop Chaos Champion to lead them. He has a new plastic shield from my bits box on his left arm, where his earlier weapon was cut away long before I received him.

I imagine this fellow is much older than the other knights, and his age and condition is the result of being particularly depraved and dedicated to the Dark Gods. Though not as filigreed as current GW sculpts, it definitely has that Games Workshop feel, with more exaggerated dimensions, some ornamentation on the armor, a massively mutated arm...

...and a nice cancerous tumor on the back.

The painting process was my usual fast tabletop method.

  • Black gesso 
  • Base colors 
  • Drybrush the wolf pelt sections and base 
  • Brush-dip with Minwax Polyshades Tudor dip
  • Drybrush base again 
  • Brush on Golden matte varnish to take away the shine 

For the bases, I tried something new. The integral bases were blended into the plastic bases with premixed fireplace mortar and cement, and then small pieces of pine bark were pressed into the mixture before it dried. (Thanks to "Frankthedm" over at the Reaper forum for the gift of the bark.) I'll be using this setup for all the figures in this faction.

I'm pleased with the cement, as it has a nice rough texture to it. I think it will see alot of use in basing and terrain in the future. It's also cheap, and available in small quantities at most home improvement stores. This is a relief, since the premixed concrete patch product I used for a lot of terrain projects seems to have disappeared from stores.

As you can tell, I'm very happy with these miniatures. I've got enough fantasy figures to keep me busy for a while, but it's very likely that I'll acquire some more Grenadier Fantasy Warriors miniatures in the near future. My only regret is that this is the extent of the Chaos Knights line and there are no equivalent sculpts on horseback.

Appendix - Sourcing Grenadier Fantasy Warriors Miniatures
Though the Games Workshop Champion is long out of print, the Grenadier figures are still available from several sources. By far the cheapest is Forlorn Hope Games. They have them grouped in with the "Men" section.

The current state of the entire Grenadier Fantasy Warriors line is a bit more complicated. The rights are currently held by EM-4 Miniatures in England and Mirliton Miniatures in Italy. Though the price and shipping are considerably higher, Mirliton has released the entire line of miniatures, including classic Grenadier Historical lines, which are also compatible.

K-Studio in the USA does quarterly orders from Mirliton to save on shipping, and offers a 10% discount. EM-4, on the other hand, has much lower prices, but a more reduced selection. Forlorn Hope offers the miniatures at a very reasonable price that includes shipping, and if you're buying a fair number of figures, it's probably roughly equivalent to EM-4 prices.

According to EM-4 owner Doug, Forlorn Hope Games is able to maintain lower levels of stock and stock a wider variety of Fantasy Warriors miniatures (though not the entire line) than EM-4 itself, which requires a greater stock on hand to meet demand. EM-4 does eventually intend to get the entire line back into production.

-- Karl, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member


5 responses to “Painting up an old-school Chaos fantasy warband

  1. Hi Karl,

    I own and run, http://www.miniature-heroes.co.uk which also carries the Mirliton line of old Grenadier miniatures. Be good to chat with you sometime.

    Tim

  2. Hi Karl

    As the current owner of the Grenadier ranges, I can understand why you
    are confused. Perhaps I can help clarify it for you.

    My company, Mirliton SG of Italy, purchased all the rights, trademarks
    and moulds of the Grenadier ranges from the Italian bankruptcy courts in
    2003. Since then I have sold them worldwide as the Mirliton Fantasy
    ranges direct from my web site and through a network of trade and retail
    partners.

    The previous owners, Nemo – Stratelibri, entered bankruptcy following
    the death of the owner Giovanni Ingellis. They had bought all rights,
    trademarks and moulds from Grenadier in the USA, including those of
    Grenadier (UK), when Grenadier ceased trading in 1997. Between 1997 and
    2003 they reprinted the Fantasy Warriors game and re-issued the ranges.

    Naturally, the fact that since 2003 other businesses have periodically
    used old moulds to sell products that Mirliton own is a cause for
    concern. Not least because it confuses customers and undermines
    confidence in the brand. Recently this has started again as you have
    noted above.

    During the first such period of activity I contacted Andrew Chernack,
    one of the owners of Grenadier, to confirm that all rights were sold to
    Nemo – Stratelibri and in turn that we held all the rights. He was very
    helpful and his confirmation is given in this linked pdf . https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0AatFCtCE8kaC1HZzdjVko1WVk/edit?usp=sharing

    I hope that this response will help you, and your readers, understand
    things a bit better."
    Stefano

  3. Hi Stefano (and Tim),
    Thanks for your replies and explanations. Sounds like a real legal mess. Glad that you are keeping the Grenadier figures in production. It's a great line that deserves wider recognition.
    Karl

  4. Regarding to the shipping fee for the USA, unfortunately there isn't a cheaper way to send a pack than the registered Mail, or for some bigger shipping the EMS courier. UPS or FEDEX are both more expensive. We study every day the cheaper way to shipping. For us it is very important and there is nothing to increase shipping costs.
    Any way if someone try to send a pack from the U.K to the America will know how much it costs.
    The same thing is to send a pack from the U.S.A to Europe. The America and Europe are separated by several thousand of kilometers and is the most problem for us to sell in countries so far as the America, Australia and New Zealand.
    We have decided to provide our production Mirliton Fantasy former Grenadier, more professional, and we supply our products in blister packs and boxes with colorful pictures, suitable also for sale in the shops. This obviously raises a little 'prices, compared to selling to individual figures. On the other hand we believe that our prices are much lower than most famed productions. We could also decide to sell the pieces individually if any were required, and then we could to lower prices.
    Sorry if my English is not perfect.
    Stefano Grazzini

  5. Thanks for the additional information Stefano. I'm sure folks will find it useful.

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