The Ulsan Cartel ( or we're not in Kansas anymore)

This week’s blog is the ‘backstory’ behind how I approached painting a small group of minis for a South Korean customer and tried to give proper value. By that I mean I charge £8 each for painting 28mm figures on average ( though that includes building and basing) and these figures were so slim on detail that I felt I had to improve them through painting to justify my fee. So here we have the background to the Ulsan Cartel.

The first figure is a limited edition from Hasslefree miniatures called Rick Reckless but I think it’s a dead spit for John Wick as portrayed by Keanu Reeves. It’s a crisp sculpt with no flash at all and really dynamic. It’s such a good figure it doesn’t need a lot of extra painting so I went for a simple dark suit and shirt. I assume that he will be the leader of the Narco crew as in his suit he would be the respectable face of the Narcos.

The second figure is I imagine the lieutenant. He has a mobile phone in one hand and a gun in the other as you do. As you do if you are a cartel drug dealer anyway. I like to think hes just answering one of those robocalls that asks if you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Or that its his mum asking whether he wants his dinner saving for when he gets in. Either way its not an impressive mini and I couldn’t think of anything to jazz him up really, although now I’m thinking about it I may look for an eagle decal like a biker jacket for his back…

Make merica great again guy I imagine as some low level campesino working in the cocaine processing part of the operation who has been coopted into being a gunman for the evening. Maybe he’s on guard and about to get silently knifed by special forces even though he’s visibly old and has 3 children and some livestock to support.

He has the Maga cap as a way of showing his support to the reason his business exists – inelastic demand from the USA and to another president who has obviously not read the book Narconomics by Tom Wainwright. This is a great book and explains the economic reality of the drugs business from an academic but easily understandable perspective. Basically it’s the old story of an insatiable and inelastic demand for drugs resulting in an unstoppable unregulated supply. Every time the authorities attempt to stop supply by destroying crops or dumbest of all building a wall the demand remains the same and all that happens is the price rises.

In an elastic market customers would switch product but as the drugs market is inelastic in demand customers still want the same amount and will pay higher prices. Apparently addicts don’t make rational price based decisions. Who knew? This results in the dealers having to ship less product to make the same profits and in higher crime in the USA as users need to fund a more expensive habit. I cannot recommend this book enough especially if you think a “war on drugs” is winnable without killing lots of users pour encourager les autres.

Anyway thats MAGA guy

Big guy

This is a cool model and is a real film trope of a gangster usually either Black or Hispanic but not white guys for some reason….surely not racism. Perhaps all the overweight white guys don’t make the cut at drug dealer school. Whatever it’s a cool mini and the fat neck roll is great. The flag (see maga guy) is a cut down decal from a 28mm WW2 tank and is placed on the mini using micro sol and micro set to get it to contour with the folds of his clothes. I have put some tattoos down his meaty arms to give a bit more interest and XXI or 21 on the back of his head as I believe this is something to do with some Mexican gang.

Gangers with Tattoos

The guy with the flag scarf (see maga guy) and the one with shades are both pretty basic sculpts so I decided to do gang tattoos to liven them up. As a result I did some research on gang tattoos and then realised they were beyond my skill level and opted for some much simpler designs which would give the impression of gang tattoos without needing greater skill than I have. They seemed to be a sort of greeny blue black in the pictures I consulted. As an aside these people with such tattoos seem to have a really sad level of self worth or self esteem when they are willing to proudly bear the telephone district code of their territory as a large decorated tattoo. What sort of twisted psyche makes a person think this is a good idea, unless its just a survival mechanism. In any event the two gangers are cannon fodder in game terms I assume.