Iron Mask Miniatures

Iron Mask Miniatures
...and one for all!

Monday, November 25, 2013

First Wave Special Characters: Part 1

The first four Special Characters are sculpted and on their way for casting. I've mentioned some of these before, but here's your chance to review all of them together.

The Dwarf in the Iron Mask

His iron mask is inspired by the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon helmet with face mask. He will have a right-hand hand crossbow and a left-hand 17th Century style lamp. His hands will be compatible with the dwarf duelist hands, so he will also be supplied with a sword and main gauche dagger pair from the main range, as well as an extra right-hand dagger.

The Dwarf Cardinal

His Eminence is unarmed, of course. He has minions to do all of the wet work while he sees to affairs of state and bestows the occasional blessing.

The Dwarf King

Sorry I don't have a better shot of His Majesty, but you may be able to tell from this that he is clearly a fashion trendsetter.

In addition to his lavish cape and extravagant plumes, he sports a cane (supplied as a separate hand). The other two hands you see in this picture are the greens for the lamp and hand crossbow, both of which come with the Dwarf in the Iron Mask.

The Vaguely-Ratlike M Roquefort

M Roquefort is, to date, the only human in the range. He is one of the Cardinal's principal agents and seems to have an affinity for obtaining the services of some demonstrably rat-like minions.

He comes with two right-arm options, one with a sword and one holding a goblet. The glue point for the arms is under the cape. I have a doughty band of 5th and 6th edition Games Workshop Skaven ready to serve as his minions.


There are six more Special Characters in the queue. The next pair should be ready by February, along with a number of new dwarf hands holding things like hat, bottle, handkerchief, torch, etc.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Not easy being greens...

This posting highlights the greens of the first two of ten special personality figures that will complete the Three Musketeers theme of the First Wave. The first, of course, is the Dwarf in the Iron Mask. Here is the concept art by Colin Upton:

The sculptor John Pickford developed an exquisite model from this sketch. As you can see from the following slide show, he is coming along nicely:

He is dressed in common fashion with a ragged blanket for a cloak. He wears the Sutton Hoo style helmet and face mask, which will be fixed in place by a 17th C padlock at the back of the head. He will be released with a a rapier and main gauche dagger and, for additional modeling options, a crossbow, a lantern, and a couple of empty hands.

This figure has become the unofficial logo for Iron Mask Miniatures. He will be limited to a production run of 200, most of which will go out to my Kickstarter backers. Along with the figure, my Kickstarter friends will get a card-sized reproduction of the concept art signed and numbered by Colin Upton. After the Kickstarter obligations are fulfilled, the remaining 80 or so figures will be available for sale (but without the signed art card).

Another icon of the Three Musketeers legend is the Cardinal. Here is the concept art for the dwarf version of Richelieu:

He is dressed in Cardinal's robes, naturally, and bestows a blessing with his left hand while with his right he crosses his fingers behind his back. John, as usual, did a remarkable job translating from a 2-D sketch to a 3-D model:

The Cardinal will be a one-piece casting and, as soon as the Kickstarter obligations are fulfilled, will be added to the figures for sale.

I will soon have shots of the greens of the King and the vaguely rat-like M Roquefort. Until then...


Monday, October 14, 2013

There's a lot more to ogres...

[This posting’s slide show features examples of Iron Mask ogres painted by Terry Matheny of Sword and Palette. Clearly, the Cardinal's Guard is not the only unit to recruit ogres.]
The Kickstarter campaign has kept me busy since late July. Not only was there a lot of preparation involved, but it required steady attention throughout its 30-day run, posting updates, responding to comments, tweaking the premium and add-on list, and replying to the messages sent by backers. After the first Iron Mask Miniatures project was successfully funded, the real work began.
Overseeing the layout and organization of the production molds from a distance has been a challenge, but I’ve now set up an inventory and order system for the 132 individual bodies, heads, and hands for the First Wave release. I’m in a position now to get figures from the caster pretty much as needed with only a week’s lead time, so I am currently starting to ship fulfillment packages to my Kickstarter backers.

Over the least several weeks I received a number of queries about purchasing Iron Mask figures. I am, of course, happy to sell them. I’ve set up a page on this blog with a price list. (See the left margin.) After looking over the list and deciding what you want, send me an email at and I’ll get back to you with a total including postage. After I receive your payment via PayPal, I’ll ship your figures to you.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Ogre does what ogres can...

[With just over a week to go, I'm halfway toward my  Kickstarter funding goal. For a cottage business like mine, Kickstarter is a convenient presales tool. With the finished figures in hand, the crowd funding provides the money to put them into production, while the premiums for the backers helps me gauge the size of the first production run. Iron Mask Miniatures will not go away if the crowd funding fails, but the enterprise will be greatly expedited if it succeeds. If you haven't pledged already, consider doing so this coming week.]
Last Saturday I received a small batch of Cardinal’s Guard Ogre precasts, fresh from the master mold. I am really pleased with how they turned out.
The bodies:

and the heads:

The ogres use the same multipart system as the dwarves, so virtually any hand-and-arm activity can be represented depending on the hand you choose and how you rotate the wrist. When I was planning these figures, however, I was resigned to the fact that, given the classic ogre posture and the lamentable absence of neck, there would not be much articulation of the head. But John Pickford's talent for sculpting multipart figures apparently knows no bounds. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that with each of the four poses in combination with any of the four heads, a great many head positions were possible.

In scale Cardinal’s Guard Ogres match the classic ogres of the 80s and 90s:
And here next to an Iron Mask Miniatures Dwarf Musketeer:
The following examples are white-primered to enhance the detail, assembled with Blue-Tac (gluing would provide a much tighter fit, of course), and based on 40mm lipped, round bases. The bodies are shown in the same order left to right, with the heads and arms swapped around to show the variety of poses possible:
Following is a study of the stooping ogre. This is by far the most restrictive pose, but the placement of the head and positioning of the hands can direct the figure’s action to the left, to the right, or to the front:
Currently one other ogre is planned. This will be Jussac, the ogre captain, who will look something like this:
Jussac is one of eleven special figures that will eventually complete the Three Musketeers theme.

Monday, July 1, 2013

To Build an Ogre

 [This posting's slide show illustrates the birth of an ogre -- sculptor John Pickford working his magic.]

The Kickstarter campaign has been submitted for review. Hopefully, it can launch this week.

Meanwhile, the Iron Mask project carries on as the greens for the Cardinal’s Guard Ogres make their debut. When I conceived this phase of the project, I faced the same dilemma I faced with the dwarves: there really wasn’t anything like them on the market. Ogres from modern manufacturers are larger and more exaggerated than what I wanted, tending toward the grotesque if not outright silly or gross.

I knew that I wanted the ogres to pay homage to the classic figures of the ‘80s, so the height and overall heft of the figures was a given. But even the best of the best ogres, the old Citadel and especially the Marauder ogres, were posed in ways that were too static for ogre duelists. The solution, of course, was to use the same separate hand and head system that I used for the dwarves. This has advantages for casting (fewer undercuts) as well as more variety and versatility for the modeler.

For the concept art, I turned to Colin Upton, an extremely talented artist and illustrator whose drawings have frequently brought him into contact with the world of wargaming. Colin works quickly and efficiently, but most importantly to me he was quick to grasp what I wanted and more than accommodating when it came to making changes and fine-tuning a concept. While he was adept at interpreting the briefs, guidelines, and image references I gave him as my ideas developed, some of the things you will see in the coming months sprang from his imagination as much as mine.

Here are the concept drawings for the Cardinal’s Guard Ogres:

The third piece shows the ogre sentry, a relatively static pose, I admit, but separate hands would allow considerable depth and versatility. I love this face, especially with the moustache wrapped around his fang.
For the final pose, I wanted a hulking figure bending low to engage a (possibly?) shorter opponent. No concept art for this one, alas.

Eventually, I decided to drop the beards. Ogres have more-than-prominent chins -- in the cosmic scheme of things, I think more chin makes up for less neck. As John rendered the concept art into real, 3-D portraits, it occurred to me that the beards forced the weight of the heads too far forward, so he resculpted the chins.

Here are the results:

The above is holding a dragon, a short-form blunderbuss pistol.

...and to give you an idea of the size, compared to the dwarves:

Now these are definitely old-school.

The completed kit, which does not show the daggers still to be converted from the rapiers, looks like this:

The greens are in the hands of Steve Phillips, who does my casting. Hopefully, by the beginning of next week I’ll have actual samples in hand and can show you some assembled samples.

Monday, April 15, 2013

And Colors Bright and True...

[This posting's slide show presents the long-awaited painted figures. These dwarf Musketeer duelists were brought to life under the brush of master painter Terry Matheny of Sword and Palette. I could go on all day about how great his work is, but the figures speak for themselves.]

Getting the figures painted is a big step toward initiating the Kickstarter program. I want to be able to show prospective funders that I have the dwarf duelists on hand and ready to go into production. The figures above were assembled using four bodies, eight heads, and an assortment of hands with rapier, dagger, and pistol. Most of the daggers were converted from rapiers. Empty hands were used to give the figures greater animation and attitude.

The Cardinal's Guard ogres are on the sculptor's workbench and should be completed in a matter of weeks (give or take), so I will soon have useful shots of the greens to use for Kickstarter. In the meantime, to take up the slack left by the absent ogres, here are some duelists I painted as Cardinal's Guard:

These are four of the eight conversions with integral heads sporting long hair and beards. Note that three of the figures defer to 17th Century fashion by wearing long wigs, and as in some portraits from the period, the usually black wigs did not always match the color of the beard. Fashion is fashion, I guess.

The bases are 30mm lipped, slotted bases. I plan to release these bases with the figures (the ogres will have 40mm lipped, slotted bases). In the photos above, I used wood filler to create the cobblestone texture, added paint and a couple of washes, then finished off each base with a small weed or two growing in the gaps in the cobblestone.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Their Infinite Variety...

[Above: First Wave duelists assembled and primered. Click on an image to get a larger view plus controls for stepping through the album one image at a time.]

White Knight recently posted previews of his forthcoming dwarf knights. They are definitely worth a look. Check the link to the left.

And now, back to the Musketeers...

I wasn't happy with my efforts at photographing bare-metal figures, so I decided to primer a batch of assembled figures to enhhance the detail. I'm still getting the hang of this photography thing, but I'm pleased with these results. Eight of these figures are assembled from the first four Musketeer bodies and the eight separate heads. Note that the heads can be mounted looking to the left, right, or straight ahead. It is sort of a ball-and-joint fit, so there is movement up and down as well. In some positions, the neck pin is slightly exposed, but it still looks natural so I don't think it will be a problem.

Eight of the figures are the just-arrived First Wave duelist conversions. These figures have integral heads with long hair and beards. I'm especially fond of the following three fellows who, as gentledwarves of taste and refinement, choose to wear fashionable wigs showing off the latest in 17th Century hair treatments:

And two from the back...

While assembling the figures, I was impressed at how well the separate-hand system worked. While 32 head-and-body combinations (not counting the conversions) ensure variety, the hands, especially the empty hands, are remarkably effective for expressing the dwarf Musketeer's style and attitude. Here are some examples:

A few simple gestures can make all the difference...

Most of the daggers shown here are rapiers that have been cut down and sanded. It was easier and, frankly, less expensive to have the sculptor concentrate on rapiers for the First Wave, the assumption being that any rapier could be converted to a dagger as desired. The primer makes it easier to see the different styles of hilts and guards on the rapiers. These include cup guards, mortuary guards, swept hilts, and sail guards. Coupled with the different angles at which the weapons are held, the rotation of the gauntlet on the forearm adds greatly to the number of possible poses you can get.

For the First Wave, there will be two sets of rapiers, each with four left and four right hands and a mix of hilts and guards. Other hand sets willl include eight pistols, eight empty hands, four main gauche daggers, and eight swords and daggers in the style of the cinquedea, a 15th Century broad-bladed dueling sword for those who want a more traditional dwarfy looking weapon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First Wave Duelists


[Above: greens for the First Wave duelists.]

The heart of the forthcoming range is the dwarf Musketeer duelist. For the First Wave there are four bodies. The poses owe a lot to the Richard Lester musketeer films from 1973-74, the most enjoyable and credible of the many film adaptations of The Three Musketeers. I am no expert on dueling or fencing, but the fight scenes in the film seem to me to embody the English style, which was more a codified street-brawl technique than any formal style of fencing. In this style, the earlier sword-and-buckler techniques gave way to the rapier and dagger or, in some cases, the rapier and gauntlet.

I wanted a variety of heads to go with the bodies -- eight heads altogether. The archetypal plumed cavalier hat was the most important type, with room for distinct variations in the way the brims were turned up. I also added a plain hat, a Scottish-style bonnet, a head wrap, and a flat cap. I left it to poshgoblin to work his magic on the faces. You can see the results in the shots of the greens above.

I also wanted variety in the weapons. Rapiers come with bell-cup guard, mortuary guard, swept hilt, and sail guard. In addition, the blades are held at different angles and in different hand positions. The blades are to scale and, if you look closelly, are actually three-sided, with a flat top angling down to the cutting edge. Below left is a rapier with bell guard held at a 90-degree angle. In the center is a rapier with a mortuary guard held at a 45-degree angle. On the right, a rapier with a swept hilt held in a thrusting position.


To save money, I commissioned swords primarily, on the assumption that any rapier is easily converted to a dagger. Of course, there were some daggers that needed unique treatments. Below (left to right) is a trident dagger (sword breaker) held at 90 degrees, a dagger with sail guard held at 45 degrees, and a dagger with simple grip and quillon held for stabbing.

Since the English style sometimes called for one hand held ready to grapple with an opponent, there was an obvious need for left and right hands held open for grappling. It was a natural progression to include left- and right-hand fists and, for those who want to express real attitude, hands pointing with index finger. (Figures assembled with the empty-hand options would make for a great tavern brawl scenario.)

And, of course, left- and right-hand pistols...

Eventually, I hope to have all possible combinations of left and right hands with swept hilt, mortuary guard, cup guard, and sail guard rapiers (and, by conversion, daggers) held at 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and 0 degrees (thrusting).

I hope I will be able to commission some additional "specialty" hands in the future: hands holding objects such as hats, bottles, goblets, tankards, and the like. I also have ideas for some more specialty daggers such as sword-breakers, although many of these would be challenging to sculpt and reproduce in scale.


[Above: some assembled proof-of-concept figures painted by the talented Terry Matheny of Sword and Palette. They are wearing the colors of my Free Cantons dwarf army. The figures are armed with cinquedea swords and daggers. The First Wave production figures will have rapiers and main gauche daggers with a variety of 17th Century-style hilts and guards.]

The proof-of-concept figures consisted of one dwarf with a separate head, sporting a trimmed 17th Century style beard, and the other with an integral head with "traditional" dwarfy hair and beard. I had originally imagined all the bodies would have separate heads, but poshgoblin pointed out that this would not be optimal for heads with long hair and full "dwarfy" beards. Separates heads were a practical option for fairly static core-troop poses. For dynamic dueling poses, however, the hair and beard would have to conform to the pose and flow with the costume of the figure. This pretty much meant one head per body. Swapping heads across different dynamic poses would require a lot of filing and filling unless the hair and beard were relatively short.

My solution was to plan the initial figures with short hair and trimmed beards. Once these were completed, the full hair and beards would he added as conversions of the headless bodies.

Initially, the Musketeer swords and daggers were based on the cinquedea, a 15th Century Italian dueling weapon. This type of blade was not uncommon among the old Citadel dwarves of the 1980s and has a decidedly dwarfy look. I have since moved to more traditional 17th Century rapier and main gauche dagger. The cinquedea will not go away -- they will reappear later in the range.

The complete set of proof-of-concept components looked like this:

The different types of hands worked well and the variations possible by rotating the gauntlets on the arm was pretty remarkable.

The difference in the sword positions (one thrusting, one holding the weapon at about 45 degrees)may seem too subtle initially. It becomes more obvious once the gauntlets are attached to the arms.

The separate head fit well. While it did not permit a full 180 degrees of rotation, a range of positions was possible.

One of the goals was to make the figures compatible with the White Knight Renaissance dwarves. This makes them roughly the same size as the old Marauder and Citadel figures. Below, from left to right:  a White Knight spearman, an old Citadel Imperial dwarf, a Battleforge spearman (with the base ground down to paper thinness), an old Citadel Norse dwarf, an Iron Mask duelist, and a Marauder spearman.