Bestest of 2021

Personal favourites from this year. As usual there is no attempt at ordering or even keeping to a top 10. As always I have painted a massive variety of stuff and clearly I have left out a lot of the 'run of the mill' Germans in 3 colour camo etc in favour of what might be visually more interesting. Collections of a hundred plus minis are represented by just a couple as in the case of Dark Rituals, Reichbusters and Winter Germans for example. In short a subjective selection from a massive field!!

First up is the Equipe Mirage V from Infinity specifically the Ariadne MRRF i think. Previously called Margot and Duroc. These new models are super crisp in detail and clean casts. Fit which used to be a bit ropey with some infinity models is now really good. Margot Berthier ( presumably named after Napoleon's chief of staff Marshall Berthier) is a haughty figure while Duroc ( similarly named after one of Napoleon's companions and Grand Marshall of the palace ) hulks convincingly.

Song of fire and ice Zorse Riders for the Targs faction. These are included as i had never painted Zebras before and whilst most real horse Zebra crosses do not look like Zebras the more realistic versions i found in photographs were less pleasing to the eye. Actual Zebras are apparently too anti social and bad tempered to be broken for riding though there was a brief fashion for them to be used to pull the carriages of the rich in Europe. Zorses were created on the East Coast of Africa in the colonial period as a way of getting equine transport in lands where the tsetse fly killed horses as both Zebras and Zorse are immune to their bites . However the resulting Zorses were also Zebra-like in their refusal to be ridden though they could be used like mules.

Witch king on fell beast (plastic) and some Mordor Orcs. Little new to say here that i didnt say in my blogpost - LOTR or Middle Earth as currently branded remain my favourite GW range and the Witch King on fell beast plastic kit is a winner.

Infinity Military Orders - Christian crusaders in space. Nightmare! Having reread Dan Jones excellent book 'Crusaders' this year about the actual Crusaders of the 11th to 15th centuries I am of the opinion that any army of 'Faith' based fanatics is probably a poor idea for everyone not in that army, and sometimes even those in that army as fanatics always seem to end up eating themselves. A great book and available on Audible. The colour scheme here was suggested by the client and was painted using the method I have used since watching here

GW Age of Sigmar. A really cool army consisting of 9 steam tanks and a hurricane arcanum for a US customer. I am rarely commissioned to paint GW stuff, probably because there are many other painters who paint specifically GW stuff and do a great job but also because I never post on the AoS/40k pages! This then made a change and I decided to do the tanks (in consultation with the owner) as 3 squadrons each of 3 tanks, Altdorf, Nuln and Nordland - as you can see below is the Nordland squadron. One of the great things about GW nowadays is that if a part is not fitting perfectly you know that YOU are making a mistake. In many kits the fit is less exact and mistakes can be made. For more pictures and a blog about the project go here for just pictures without blogs

A recent commission was this superb Trenchworx land battleship in resin, the T35 tank. This beast was built by the Soviets in the 1930s but was really for propaganda use rather than battlefield use. It appeared annually in parades in the USSR but the Soviets were aware it wasn't really battle worthy and threw them away as a speed bump in July 1941. I did a blog with more historical details and a painting guide here

The award for weirdest minis painted this year went to the minis from the game Dark Rituals. These are not child friendly minis as they are more like what you get when a scary nightmare goes bad. It's set in a quasi medieval world of witches and general evildom and the minis below are just a selection of the pleasures therein.

Elves painted earlier in the year when i got hold of some greenstuffworld true metallic pigments. These are fantastic additions to metallic colours and paint on like any paint once a medium is added. You can mix with inks or other acrylics as well. I use a bit of black and brown ink mixed with the base colour to get a dark shadow colour before adding highlights. Elves are the usual LOTR type and there is a blog all about Tolkiens' elves here

More GW stuff with the only 40k of the year which was a Necron army with a custom scheme from the customer which was tricky to paint as it was basically silver and black to match an existing force. Keeping a bright silver whilst getting some decent panel modulation was a tad tricky and even harder to photograph with my limited photographic skills however you can see it below just about. This commission with the multiple magnetisations reminded me why i don't advertise to do 40k stuff on facebook pages.

A new kid on block for me is Marvel Crisis Protocol. I've painted lots of this in 2021 despite the eye-watering price of the game/miniatures. The plastic minis go together well and are cleanly cast, poses are dynamic but can be very fragile - scarlet witch especially! They paint up nicely using an airbrush and i can only speculate that Atomic Mass chose to have their gallery examples painted by brush to show what you can do without an airbrush even though they look worse than airbrushed models. I have a couple of galleries here

/ and here and here as well

Team Ladies from a recent MCP job.

Another game that I painted up off a kickstarter job was Reichbusters, a heroes v villainous Nazi Scientists game with some very cool miniatures. For me the star minis were the Nazis and the alien Nazis as you can see below. The quality of game minis is not yet as high as say Infinity or GW but it is much better than even just a few years ago. I think i did a few blog entries on Reichbusters of which this was one

Evil Nazi General Scienceman in power wheelchair

Evil Nazi Science Lady with alien you do

Winter Germans were popular this year and may have been some sort of metaphor for covid and 2021 UK in general with an incompetent right wing government declaring pointless but distracting wars on woke and foreigners - usually the French - whilst completely ignoring the actual dangers of disease and economic ruptures post Brexit, finally to be unmasked as corrupt, elitist and useless whilst partying in the bunker as endless winter dragged on....possibly. In any event there was quite a bit of Winter Germans and I have a blog on how to paint late war winter camo here and photos here

An interesting oddity this year was this Sōkō Sagyō Ki or SS Ki engineering vehicle from Warlord. With lots of thin sticky out bits i thought this would be one of those difficult builds but actually it was fine. It became part of my most popular blog to date, though to be honest that doesn't take a lot of views! I was surprised by the number of views on a blog about Japanese WW2 armour and camouflage, If you have not yet read this magnum opus (parva opus?) then it is here

One for myself here with part of a Knight Models Penguin crew of my own that I almost painted up. In the end i painted about half of it which is fine as despite owning the 3rd edition game since Jan 2020 I am yet to play....

Personally I am much more a Batman guy rather than DC or Marvel and also own the Monolith games Batman Kickstarters as well as quite a few Knight Models crews. Unsurprisingly most are not painted though some have been and there are some nice pics in the gallery on the website here

Suicide Squad from Knight Models range - sold these as also have the monolith version and two suicide squads is ...ridiculous

Another Kickstarter game which I painted twice this year was Super Fantasy Brawl. This is an arena game with about 18 large scale minis which again are great for airbrushing in vibrant colours as the sculpts are already sort of cartoony.

The Japanese doll mini was my favourite i think as she was quite menacing.

Another popular game with a lot of customers is CMON A song of ice and fire (asoiaf) based on the books rather than the TV programme. One of the most interesting sets sent to me were the rainbow cloaked warriors. I had seen some attempts on the facebook page at rendering these but they never really stood out enough so i decided to go full rainbow here using the airbrush to get a full on rainbow effect. I even remembered to photograph the process so i could write a little blog post. Had these been 40k minis I can only imagine the response on the forums/facebook pages from the more toxic elements having watched some of the 'debates' spiral there. However on the ASOIAF facebook page there was no critical response of any kind so people were either positive or followed Thumper's mothers advice "if you cant say something nice don't say nothing at all"

Other jobs this year had a Targ bias as a selection below shows. As I don't play the game I don't know if this is because they are the2021 meta or just nice minis. Stormcrows of all varieties were very popular!

Defiance also came my way as the Infinity Kickstarter was delivered. There were many cracking minis in this lot with the Megodoodlewhatsit blow being the standout in many ways, partly because it was plastic which was a first for an Infinity model for me.

Away from Defiance O12 and Ariadne were also sent to me in more numbers than any other faction followed by Yu Jing and Shasvaasti. Lots more pics available in the new stuff section on my webby here

I particularly enjoyed the non combat models such as the yu jing diplomat and the O12 medic below as Infinity female faces are finely sculpted.

Also completed the Goblin Horde in 2021 which along with the rest of my personal LOTR horde was sold to finance my upcoming entry into 3d printing and probable publication of a historical/fantasy crossover set of rules. These rules were tested early on using LOTR armies as they had a generic mix of Historical/ Fantasy elements but once the mechanics were nailed we no longer needed these armies.

Malifaux - last time i played Malifaux outside my house was 2 years ago now I think ,so taught my daughter (19) to play and she was able to give me the required beatings in the game that tournaments usually provided. I built and painted the Lucius crew in anticipation of being able to use clever combos and cunning devices but sadly I was too stupid and just got blatted. I then resurrected my Pandora crew with a touch up paint job with the same result. Desperate measures required so Nekima was brought out again as it appears point and shoot is all i'm capable of now.

I think we all know how this ends...

And so ends another year of painting. Thanks to all the customers who have trusted me with their toys and especially to those all around the world who have also become friends.