Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Banelegions, beasties and unpronoucable names!!!

 
    

I originally drafted this article out at the end of summer last year (2011), but for some reason I never got round to finishing it off. It was around the time I did my articles on Studio McVey and Kingdom Death, it was meant to be 'third' in a series, so I guess you could say this article is actually really, really late! When I actually started writing it though I was fairly skint. In fact I probably made Greece and Iceland look positively flush with cash, and sadly this state of affairs is still the case, in fact I might be worse off! I hadn't at the time been able to look at picking any of these up, and so for this article I asked the the lovely chaps at the Maelstrom if they'd allow me to take shots of some of their Banelegion stuff, and have a general ferret around in their boxes (it's not as dirty or illicit as it sounds), so I'd be able to do some reviews maybe... this turned out to be a cunning sales ploy. Because I ended up getting the Terror of Fortriu and Guillaume le Perlerin as they're both lovely figures. Hell I've also picked up a few more since and will be reviewing them all separately over the next few months. This article is just a brief overview though of the range of models and a bit about the Banelegions range in general.

Photography courtesy of Mrs Frontline Gamer, aka Dr Brainiac.

The first thing to point out about the Banelegions range is that it is split currently into two categories, Banelords being your heroic miniatures and Banebeasts being the gribbly monsters. The second thing I have to say about the product line known as 'Banelegions' is that without a shadow of a doubt it contains some of the most incomprehensible and tongue twisting names in the entire hobby. That's saying something, because we love our weird sounding names us nerds. We all know that fantasy and sci-fi universes tend to suffer from what I like to call 'random name generation syndrome', a process whereby letters of the alphabet are picked at random to create names that not even a cunning linguist can pronounce. But, Banelegions takes the gold medal, and by a big margin! Names like N'nhaak'chshir and Oacyning make the likes of Euryalia, Magagg and Guillaume le Perlerin seem positively bland by comparison... however, I'm reliably informed by Rob Lane that the names are all indeed ye olde English, and not just a random conflation of letters drawn haphazardly from a hat. I have no reason to doubt him, but, I still have my suspicions! All I can say is thank the lord that we still don't speak ye olde English like Geoffrey Chaucer, it's hard enough being dyslexic with modern English.

I'm not too sure the word 'nice' is the correct descriptor here...

Luckily though I personally think that the miniature range itself is really, really nice, and it contains possibly one of my favourite beastie miniatures of all time. The simply stunning and truly magnificent Terror of Fortriu, a pretty vicious and gnarled looking Chimera. Yeah it is an expensive lump of resin to be sure, and its claws are a pain in the ass to put on the miniature itself and would test the patience of a saint. But, there is no question in my mind though that it's worth the hassle and price in the end. Many people have welcomed Forge Worlds move into the Warhammer Fantasy Battle universe, as have I, but so far I personally don't think that they've done much that can stand up to this fine piece of work. Trust me that's really high praise indeed because some of the Forge World stuff itself is undeniably brilliant and has itself raised many bars. Undoubtedly once I get fully back into the swing of painting there will be at the very least a review of this miniature, and if I'm feeling particularly brave maybe a series of WIP articles. Although I'm not promising anything.

A close up of Ben Komets truly fantastic paint job. Simply brilliant!

If you're a long-term follower of my Blog then you'll know that I am no longer playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle. I'm not going to shoot off into a rant about it, because A) it's boring and B) it serves no useful purpose. I merely raise Warhammer Fantasy because I think it's probably Warhammer Fantasy players who will be most attracted to this range out of us all. Certainly their battle standard miniatures would make a lovely addition to their respective armies as a centrepiece, some of them are truly brilliant sculpts. I guess you could say the same for any fantasy wargame, so you should throw in Kings of War, or even the Foundary's God of Battle when that is released, into the mix as possible uses for Banelegion's miniatures. Maybe some of you RPGers out there too will find a use for the Banelords character miniatures as your heroes. The monster mini's I'm sure might make the odd DM salivate at the prospect of unleashing them onto unsuspecting adventurers. I also know of people using various miniatures from the range as replacements for various dungeon crawlers, Descent being the most common. I guess what I'm trying to say is that many of the miniatures in the range actually have practical uses on the tabletop or game board.

So in my own humble opinion, I think the Banelegions range has been more deliberately aimed at gamers. Not only because of the clearly 'generic' subject matter that is all pervasive in Fantasy games, but also in the very 'contained' poses. Poses that mean they could easily fit into ranks, or on standard sized square bases. They're certainly way more suitable for such roles than say the Studio McVey's miniatures, or those from Kingdom Death. Although obviously Mr Adam Poots is aiming to have his delightfully warped creations star in their own game eventually. I take Rob Lane's point that these miniatures were designed to fit with any generic fantasy background, and given the wide range of uses I've seen people put many of these miniatures to, I'd endorse that stance myself. But, as Warhammer Fantasy Battle and indeed Kings of War are both generic fantasy backgrounds, I think it is players of these sorts of games who are most likely to have an eye for these fine models, and indeed it's in such armies that I've seen them used most often. Those of us who love our center pieces for our armies, and for them to be of the very finest quality will undoubtedly find much in the range to tempt us. I also think it's fair to say they're aimed at those of us who are maybe more like me, and who just want to paint fantastic little miniatures that are chock full of character and fine detail. That's certainly the reason I own the miniatures that I do from the range.

I love this paint job, thanks Dr Brainiac for capturing it so well.
Given the price of some of the Banelord models look so favourable when compared with the 'Finecast' range from Citadel, I have to say you all should be really tempted to take a punt on some of the pieces too. Because the quality to cost ratio is far better in my opinion than what Games Workshop and arguably Forge World are offering. For instance before 8th Edition Fantasy came out I'd been psyching myself up to go for a fully mounted Bretonnian army... that idea died pretty rapidly when I actually got the rulebook in my hands, 45 minutes after I got the book to be more precise. However, the vagrant knight, the aforementioned Guillaume le Perlerin very nearly convinced me to actually do the army after all, he is such a nice sculpt. In fact in terms of usage I could see this miniature fitting in quite nicely in a medieval based wargame actually, it's just a nice miniature all round, both the mounted and foot versions. When I first started writing this article several months ago now, Banelegion's had already got themselves a very nice collection of miniatures. A few months on and it's grown impressively, with the likes of Galagaak, Maagaan, Krull, Talos, Ckaarak, Kraan and many, many more besides... and yes some of those names are slightly easier to say.

This is an absolutely massive model in every sense of the word.

But what is my favourite miniature from the range? Well that's a difficult one, and an easy one at the same time you see. It's easy because I think that the Terror of Fortriu is just simply one of the best miniatures produced by anyone I've ever seen. I'd just like to make it clear that I've seen a fair old amount of lovely looking miniatures in my time too. However, on the flip side it is as hard as it gets, because Oacyning the Treeman is an absolutely awesome miniature, and is as splendid a treeman as you're likely to find elsewhere. The Vagrant Knight too is close to toppling Citadels very own Green Knight off the top spot for best fantasy knight sculpt ever TM in my book, and that's no mean feat as I still love the Green Knight miniature. It doesn't stop there though because Euryalia, whom I got because Mrs Frontline Gamer liked her so much is a wickedly deviant miniature and everything the Greater Deamons of Slaanesh should be, sultry, sexy and undeniably scary at the same time. The range is just crammed to the brim with what I'd simply deem really nice painting projects.

I think this treeman is actually quite an original spin on a classic... Looks a bit like Spawn!

Some of them I've added to the long list of one-off painting project's I myself am going to attempt. Miniatures like Ulric the Defiler is a splendid little piece of resin he really is. He stands up as an artistic piece to anything produced by other companies for my money. It is a simple pose with his muscled body covered in scars and that great big feck off axe ready to cleave some poor schmucks head from their shoulders. Or how about the newly released Maagaan Warlock of Baalor, too nice a miniature for me not to own him, totally splendid stuff. Then finally from my own personal collection there is the Rose of Ker-ys (no I don't know how it is pronounced either) again she is everything a Slaaneshi Champion should be, scantily clad in leather wearing a gimp mask with a wicked looking scythe in her hands. Perfect. Again a miniature Mrs Frontline Gamer asked me to get to paint up. So where do I pin my colours? What is my favourite sculpt from the range? Of the miniatures I own it simply has to be the Terror of Fortriu. However, my current favourite Banelegions miniature is sadly one I don't yet own, the utterly spiffing looking Kraan, Tain of Baalor. He's riding a fricking polar bear for heavens sake, how awesome is that?

Kraan is quite simply made of epic win, if you ask me!

So how have they achieved such a lovely range of miniatures? Well, it's hardly rocket science actually. They've simply got some of the best sculptors around to do what they do best. People like the very talented Daniel Cockersell who has produced the Terror of Fortriu for them. One of my favourite sculptors Jacques-Alexander Gillois who produced both Maagaan and Kraan. There are many, many others to like the highly skilled Rémy Tremblay, Aragorn Marks, Sebastien Archer, Allan Carrasco, Stéphane Simon, Benoit Cosse and another personal hero of mine, Thomas David. It's an impressive list of talent they've managed to get producing miniatures for them, it really is. I've no doubt left somebody off of that list and annoyed someone with my unintentional snub, but I think the list above, to people in the 'know' will understand they have used some of the best sculptors in the industry, and will be quietly impressed with that roster of names. It's not just having the sculpts though is it? What I mean to say is this, if these wonderful sculptors miniatures were badly reproduced then I guess it would be a waste of time getting them in to work their magic in the first place. Right? But thankfully the Banelegion's resin reproductions are utterly brilliant, and I believe they are produced by the same person / people responsible for Studio McVey's and Kingdom Death's miniatures too.

How awesome is this banner?

So they also fit into that same bracket as Studio McVey or Kingdom Death sculpts for me, insofar as they're all really superb one-off pieces, with a high degree of artistry and manufactured to the highest levels. Although currently I'd say the Banelegions range possibly has more practicable use, while both Studio McVey and Kingdom Death pieces are more original and possibly have more appeal to those of us with a purely artistic bent. Although I did see somebody recently use the delectable Ruby from Studio McVey as Perdita Ortega while playing a game of Malifaux. Plus there will also be Sedition Wars game from Studio McVey, and obviously when Adam Poots is done perfecting his magnum opus that is Kingdom Death, we'll be able to use his fabulously warped pieces in a game too. But for now, the Banelegions stuff is the only range that sits comfortably in both the gorgeous to paint and useful for gaming camps. However, for me they're painting projects to be lovingly completed and have attention lavishly applied to them, and mounted on nice plinths. Then displayed in my cabinet where people can stare in awe at just how bad my painting is, and quite frankly marvel at the financial value of miniatures my cack handed paint jobs have ruined!!!

A close up this time of Sebastien Pique's fine brush work.

I don't care though, because I really do enjoy trying to take on these sorts of challenges, testing myself and hoping I don't stuff my current miniature up as badly as I did the previous ones. I think all hobbyists should push themselves to get better at the painting side of the hobby. Yeah that might make me a hobby snob to some, but I'm not talking about painting to the standards professionals do. Nope just trying to get better at what you yourself achieve. I think the painting side of the hobby has been neglected by many of us of late, myself included and for too long. So it is great that there are miniature ranges out there, like Banelegions that inspire me, and hopefully others to get better at what we do. I expect the Banelegions range to only grow in size, quality and probably popularity, if they keep the current high standards up. I personally see no reason to think that they won't do so either. I'll continue to keep my eye on what they're releasing to see if any of the releases tickles my fancy, and I'm sure that some of the current pieces would look great in your dungeon crawlers or generic fantasy based wargames... ahem! However, it's the beasties that I like the most. I can get my human sized mini's for fun painting off of lots of different companies if I'm honest, but the big beasties... not so much and so I guess it really is the Banebeasts that I really like. Peace out!

10 comments:

  1. Intriguing range I'll give you that. It's the fluff that usually sells me on these things though, which is kinda why I still have my Dark Elf army.

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    1. Well that Dark Elf Standard bearer should intrigue you at least then. As for fluff and back story... well each character does have a little bit of a back story, but Banelegions is being turned into a game apparently. Rob Lane has told me that's what they're working towards and I'll probably be covering that aspect of the range at some point soon, as I'm sure you aren't the only one interested in it.

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  2. Dear lord these are some awesome minis!

    Euryulia would totally make an awesome Daemon of Slaneesh.
    Hot monster lady with tentacles and a whip?
    I think I'm in love....
    <3
    ...please don't hurt me, lady...
    Sigh...she's gonna hurt me, isn't she?

    Speaking of Dark Eldar, pretty sure Nagausith would make would make an excellent Wych, as she seems about the right size, and that banner was lifted straight off a Raider.
    ;)

    I don't wanna riff 'bout GW no more, either, but did you see the prices for the forthcoming Tyranid and Space Wolf models (which are only about 2 years late)?
    Eeesh.
    Fortunately for us hobbyists, we'll work out clever conversions, or find alternative sources for our stuffs. In turn, that allows companies like Maelstrom to grow , and it's us who wins.
    :)

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    1. She'll only hurt you if you ask nicely though SinSynn!!! :P

      I too am simple fed up of hearing about GW off of people who are angry with them. If you don't like what they're doing well guess what. There are all these awesome companies out there who are producing other cool products. If you're unhappy with your hobby do something about it!!! For the love of God Shut the F@£% up and move on... arrrggghhh!!! We're living in the Golden Age of gaming people, for once we have awesome alternatives available to us. You're totally right about the alternatives though, as a community we can be bloody resourceful at times.

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    2. Preach, brother Frontline, preach!

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    3. I'll keep on banging away on my drum until those who need to receive the message get it loud and clear my xeno friend.

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  3. I've got the Terror (still boxed, Q3 project I hope but I was taking advantage of the super Xmas discount), Magaan and Eiric (sp?) and I'm fully expecting to drop several hundred pounds more on models either as they fit into WHF/KoW lists or just for the fun of painting.

    Looking forward to seeing what sort of game they put out (Xmas according to their reply to my query on Dakka).

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    1. Well I'm hoping to find out a bit more about the game myself. I'll be arranging a chat with Rob Lane from Maelstrom Games. I might just post it up as an interview depending on how it goes. Some of the mini's are bloody brilliant though.

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  4. Yeah, I absolutely ADORE these guys minis. Picked up the Errant Knight as I wanted a decent, heroic looking medieval knight on foot for a game of Warhammer Quest, who didn't look to Gothic or 'high-fantasy'.Needless to say I've found a few other characters from their range that I can use as well....

    I remember that they put a post up on the Banelegions website laying out their rough plans for the game and setting. From the looks of it it's a really, really grim, messed up interpretation of the late Dark Ages / early Middle Ages, and if you know your European history & folklore you can get a good idea of some of the factions and nations. I quite like the idea of a range of dark fantasy Welsh, with accompanying dragon.....

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    1. Yep they are indeed doing a game with them and I'll be asking Rob Lane some more questions about what he's up to soon. As always I'll let you guys know what I find out.

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