Iron Mask Miniatures

Iron Mask Miniatures
...and one for all!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Our Third Kickstarter: The Dwarf Musketeer Forlorn Hope

Iron Mask Miniatures' third Kickstarter launched Friday, 14 October. It follows on our first two successful crowd-funding campaigns, is seeking the backing needed to put the Dwarf Musketeer Forlorn Hope into production.

This release is comprised of musketeers on the battlefield: advancing, at the ready, firing, and loading, with figures both kneeling and standing.

Building fantasy battle units can get expensive, so to make it easier to fill the ranks, we've lowered prices across the range. Also, backers of this Kickstarter will get a fifth figure free for every infantry or cavalry four-pack they select as a premium.

This release includes dwarf pikemen, which can be deployed to anchor the battle line or combined with musketeers in a pike-and-shotte formation.

We finish off the release with several command figures, two new Mounted Dwarf Musketeer poses, and a Veteran Firelock Company with long hair and full beards.

This was  a comprehensive (and expensive!) release to put together, so crowd funding is absolutely necessary to put it into production.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Preview: the Dwarf Musketeer Forlorn Hope

The third Kickstarter campaign, the Dwarf Musketeers Forlorn Hope, is entering the final phase before launch. The first group of finished sculpts comprise 22 unique poses plus a few bits. Of these, some figures went back to the sculptor for adjustments and conversions. I’ve got some quick cell-phone camera shots below.

This release will offer Dwarf Musketeers armed with (surprise!) actual muskets -- firelocks, really. A musket-armed dwarf is always handy for dungeon-crawling adventures and skirmish games, of course, but I was mindful of fantasy battle games like Oldhammer, Kings of War, and Dragon Rampant when I planned this release.

The historical King’s Musketeers were more than the brawling palace guards and royal partisans depicted in popular culture. They were hardened battle troops and served with distinction in France’s wars, often under the command of Cardinal Richelieu. As mounted troops, they were the army’s pickets, skirmishers, and even battle cavalry. On foot, they were the spear point of the assault, the storming party, or the forlorn hope that plugged the gap in the line, stormed the enemy’s positions, and turned the tide of battle.
The following concept drawing shows the effect I was after:

I’ve never been partial to blocks of identical figures on the war-gaming table. For the Dwarf Musketeer Forlorn Hope, I wanted to be able to model a unit with the energy and chaos of a Troiani-style battle scene. This meant variety -- not just in body pose, but also in foot position and such things as the angles at which the muskets and musket rests are held.

I used a mix of horizontal and diagonal 20mm square slotted bases and fastened all the heads and bits temporarily, so you may see drooping bits and creeping blobs of Blu-Tack. Better pictures will follow soon.

I settled for seven firing poses for the front rank. Two are standing and firing. Five are kneeling, of which three are aiming and firing.

The two figures not shown here are similar to the two figures on the right, but with the musket rest grounded closer to the feet for a better fit on a 20mm base.

The rear rank has four poses, one at the ready and three loading their muskets: two priming the pan and one ramming shot. These figures will be supplied with separate musket rests that can be used to detail the figure base.

And here is a full firing line seen head-on:

 And again, with the front rank removed:

To complete the firing line, there will be two Kickstarter exclusives:

The figure in the flat cap is standing and firing, cheek to musket. The figure in the plain musketeer hat is blowing out the pan of his musket. Both of these poses were impossible to pull off with separate heads, so the heads are integral.

To represent units on the march or moving into position, there are four poses of musketeers advancing.

Each pose carries its musket and musket rest differently, as you would expect in an era of warfare in which troops were more herded than marched along the road or into battle. No parade drill here.

And next is an entire unit advancing:

Nearly all of the figures shown come with separate, poseable heads (compatible across the entire range) that can be turned or tilted to any anatomically reasonable angle.

Finally, a look at the command figures.

The senior officer has separate hands and will be supplied with different hand options including an espontoon. The ensign has separate head and hands, one of which holds the standard. The hands used for command figures will also be packaged separately for use with the other foot and mounted figures in the range. The sergeant (separate head) is holding his espontoon in a horizontal position to better push the troops into something resembling a line. Last and least, the intrepid halfling drummer (beloved by all the company!), a single-piece casting.

That is all for now. There are 18 more figures to come for this release. To give the unit some punch in pike-and-shotte warfare, there will be pike dwarves. There will also be a set of twelve long-haired, long-bearded conversions with integral heads that will comprise the Veteran Firelock Company.

More on these and the new riding poses next time.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The second Kickstarter was successful...

Thanks to everyone who supported the project.

Production is now underway. The first step is making the production molds. After that, little Dwarf Musketeer horsey guys and ponies will start appearing mysteriously and (literally) by the pound, which means that before too long I'll be spending several hours a day doing nothing but sorting bits.

After I fulfill all the premiums for the Kickstarter backers, I'll update the price list on this blog and make all the figures available for purchase.

In the meantime, the next phase of the Dwarf Musketeer project is underway. It will feature the Forlorn Hope, Musketeers armed with firelocks in various battle poses. This phase will be directed more toward wargames than RPGs with enough poses, including command figures, to field a unit with lots of variety and animation. Having said that, any dungeon crawlers out there might be well served to have a little firepower to support their adventurers.

Here are some previews of what's coming. These are concept drawings Colin Upton did for me last year, so be advised that there may be slight changes as the sculpting progresses.

In conceiving this phase of the project, I obviously wanted each figure to have his own distinct character. Collectively, however, I wanted the group of figures to suggest something of the frenetic chaos of a unit in combat. This first sketch of the Forlorn Hope in action should give you some idea of the effect I'm after:

To accomplish this, I need a wide range of poses reflecting figures advancing, preparing to fire, firing, and loading:

Most of these figures will be supplied with separate heads. Initially, these will be same heads already available for the Dwarf Musketeer duelists and Mounted Dwarf Musketeers. They will also have separate left hands with musket rests.

The musket rests are a key part of the look and feel of the period. If everything goes according to plan, there will be some degree of articulation in the fit of the gauntlet to the wrist that will let you vary the position of the rest on the musket. Also, the rest will be cast long so you can trim it to fit a particular pose or basing preference.

With the previous releases, the separate-head versions were followed by variants with integral heads and long hair and beards -- the much-loved traditional "dwarfy" look. For the Forlorn Hope, the current plan is for the long-hair-and-beard variants to have blunderbusses, hence no need for a musket rest nor for a separate left hand. I'm inclined to think of the two types as Young Musketeers (separate heads, firelocks) and Veterans (integral heads, blunderbusses).

Next time, I'll show some concept art of the core troops (with musket, standing and marching) and the command figures, which will include a halfling drummer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Second Kickstarter is Underway...

So far, the response to the Mounted Dwarf Musketeers Kickstarter has been encouraging. About half of the backers were supporters of the first Kickstarter. It is gratifying to see so many supporters returning. Thanks to you all.

You can find the new Kickstarter here. It will run until noon on Friday, September 11. The money raised will be used to put the Mounted Dwarf Musketeers into production -- and the premiums are nice, too.

As with the dismounted Dwarf Musketeer Duelists, there are 24 variants of the Dwarf Mounted Musketeers -- more if, like me, you like get creative with the separate-head variants and special hands. Here are a few images of painted precasts, just to whet your appetite.

The above figures use the same separate-head system as the Dwarf Musketeer Duelists and, since the heads are compatible across the entire range, you can have mounted and dismounted versions of the same figure, if you like:

The following Mounted Dwarf Musketeers are modeled as pistoleers using the Pistols and Saddle Holsters hand set.

I'm particularly pleased with the ponies, although I cannot take credit for them in any way. They were originally sculpted for White Knight Miniatures and are used with his kind permission. At Iron Mask Miniatures, we call them the Four Ponies of the Apocalypse:

And we've introduced some new Personalities as well. These are being given away as stretch goals, although they can also be purchased as add-ons.

First, there is the mounted version of the halfling duelist Dart Onion:

And, of course, a mounted version of the Dwarf Cardinal:

And finally, both mounted and dismounted versions of Basile le Fou.

Basile is a fun figure. Mounted, he has his reins in his teeth as he fires away with both pistols. Dismounted, he holds a rapier in his left hand and fires a pistol with his right.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Second Kickstarter

The second Kickstarter is almost ready to submit to KS for approval. Although I've had the master castings and precasts in hand for nearly four months, there was still a lot of waiting time while things came together. I wanted the riders to sit more upright, so John reworked the bodies to give them a better fit. Also, although the ponies were near-perfect as is, we needed to level the seat to help maintain good dwarf posture for the riders. You'll be pleased with the results, I think. Finally, the saddle holsters were a bit too large, so they had to be redone. I'll put aside the masters for the larger holsters in the hopes that I'll be able to use them for the dwarf duelists in civilian dress. Finally, I had to give Terry Matheny of Sword and Palette a reasonable amount of time to get all that painting done. (Terry is a saint.) And then the photographing... Don't get me started.

I took advantage of my marathon photography sessions to add pics to the price list on this blog. There are now painted examples of  nearly all of the figures.

The rest of this blog is comprised of images I won't be using for the Kickstarter but are not quite bad enough to throw away. These vignettes are part of  my history of  the War of the Halfling Succession (about which more later).  Enjoy...

The Musketeer Company deploys for battle...

The Dwarf Musketeers break the charge of the Walloon Boars:

The Skirmish at Le Royale:

Enjoying the adoration of the crowd:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mounted Dwarf Musketeers

I'm in the process now of organizing a second Kickstarter to introduce the Mounted Dwarf Musketeers. I'll launch when I have in hand some precasts of all the figures and bits. I'm also waiting for some painted samples which will have to be photographed so I can pretty up the Kickstarter page. I cannot precisely predict when all the pieces will fall into place, but it should be soon. In the meantime, here is a preview.

It goes without saying that the mounted figures complement the foot figures. To this end, the core figures will use the separate hands and heads already in production -- hands and heads, of course, are compatible across the entire range. The figures will be supplied with the Heavy Rapier hand set In addition, there will be an additional hand set consisting of pistols and saddle holsters.

First of all, the ponies. There are for of them, originally sculpted by John Pickford for White Knight Miniatures. Each pony is a unique character, full of personality.

You can see the ponies on White Knight's blog here.

The mounted Dwarf Musketeers make ideal RPG or skirmish figures, but I also wanted them to be suitable as battle cavalry for Oldhammer-style wargames. I'm a wargamer myself and I like units where each figure is unique. The following image captures the effect I was after:

The historical King's Musketeers were an elite combat unit and served with distinction as both infantry and battle cavalry in the King's campaigns. The above figures are charging stirrup-to-stirrup, rapiers forward. (NOTE: While the concept art shows two left-handed riders, the actual figures consist of three right-handed and only one left-handed body.) Rapiers are supplied with the figures, although other hand sets are available. For example, there will be a Pistols and Saddle Holsters hand set which can be used to model the figures as pistoliers. Alternatively, you could use the thrusting rapiers from either of the Rapiers and Daggers hand sets to model the figures according to French cavalry doctrine, with rapiers forward.

The figure waving his hat is modeled using one of the bits from the Special Hands sets. These include left and right hands holding not only plumed hat, but other interesting items such as a tankard, bottle, torch, pipe, hand crossbow and so on.

The Mounted Dwarf Musketeers will be package in three groups of four, each with four different heads for a total of twelve unique head variants. Each pack will include one each of four bodies and one each of four ponies.

As with the Dwarf Musketeers on foot, there are also twelve figures with integral heads sporting long hair and full beards. This is a more traditional look for fantasy dwarves, although some of them have hair and beard styled after 17th Century fashion. (You can see examples of this in earlier blogs.) It was necessary to give these dwarves integral heads in order to capture the proper flow of long hair and beards. These will also be offered in three separate packs of four figures each.

This next figure was intended to be a mounted escort or a trooper on the march or on parade. He will come with separate head and right hand and be available in a dozen long-hair-and-beard versions.

For a number of reasons, the Trooper was put on the shelf to be released with the Forlorn Hope and command figures at a later date. He was replaced, however, by a mounted version of one of the personality figures, the Dwarf Cardinal. The Cardinal will have a similar pose with a separate right hand. He will be supplied with a pony and probably three hand options: a pistol, a sword, and a document with a royal seal.

 A second personality figure will be included in the Kickstarter:

He is, of course, the mounted version of Dartleby Onion, the halfling swashbuckler. He is a single-piece casting and is supplied with a pony.

Finally, there will be a limited-edition figure offered initially to Kickstarter backers. He is Basile le Fou:

Basile will be limited to 250 copies (or more, but only in the unlikely event that I need more than 250 figures to fulfill the Kickstarter obligations). He will be supplied in both mounted and dismounted versions. The mounted version is holding the reins in his teeth and firing two pistols. He will come with a pony, of course, and left- and right-hand pistol hands and empty saddle holsters. The dismounted version is aiming a pistol with his right arm and holding a rapier in his left.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

First Wave Special Characters: Part 2

Here is the final group of First Wave Special Characters (painted by Terry Matheny of Sword and Palette). More personalities will be coming in the Second Wave, which will feature mounted Dwarf Musketeers. All told, the mounted figures will include twelve separate-head options, twelve more full-bearded, long-haired options (with integral heads), and mounted versions of some of the Special Characters. There will also be at least one limited-edition figure that will come in both mounted and dismounted versions. The Second Wave will provide mounted analogs for each of the 24 dismounted figures currently available. It will also allow you to model many unique figures so that your mounted units have real variety, whether they are modeled as escorts, pistoliers, or battle cavalry. Now, on to the painted personalities...

First, we have Milady de l'elfe, one of the Musketeers' most dangerous adversaries. She was originally going to be a fantasy female dwarf. Then I decided to make her an elf. After going back and forth a few times, I finally decided to make her half dwarf and half elf. Her ability to walk freely in the dwarven courts, coupled with her ties to the darker side of Elfdom, make her the consummate agent for the Cardinal.

While - things like costume and general pose, including the lethal dagger held behind her back, were easy to define, it was a challenge to figure out how best to convey a half-dwarf, half-elf heritage. Pointy ears were a must, of course, but I wanted her stature to favor her dwarven heritage. That being said, I also wanted to avoid the "traditional" look of fantasy dwarf females, with their aggressive demeanors, over-the-top weapons, and dubious anatomical endowments. Colin and I went through many iterations before we settled on the concept art. When John started work on the sculpture, the back and forth continued until we found a vision of the figure which celebrated her dwarven heritage but did not give in to stereotypes:

To make the casting easier, her mask is a separate piece. She also comes with a fan and, for those more conspiratorial enterprises, and a sealed scroll, no doubt a carte blanche from His Emminence himself.

The last of the Cardinal's minions is Jussac, the Ogre Captain of the Cardinal's Guard. He is clearly an ogre of quality and a notorious duelist -- although ogres are adherents of  L'├ęcole de la force brute so "duelist" may not really be the right word.

The hand is cast as a separate piece and is, of course, compatible with the sword, dagger, and pistol hands supplied with the Cardinal's Guard Ogres set. For casting purposes, the sheathed sword and plume are also separate and the figure can be modeled without them.

In a more heroic vein, we have the gallant halfling Dartleby Onion, known to his companions as Dart Onion. He may be the only halfling ever to aspire to be a King's Musketeer.

He has separate hands, so the sword and dagger can be modeled in different orientations. Rather than a rapier, he has a stout epee more suitable to his stature. He is, however, a lethal duelist in spite of his size.

No self-respecting duelist would ever care to be seen without a suitable lackey in his service. To this end, one of the first things Dart Onion did upon his arrival in Paris was to hire Planchet.

Planchet is a single-piece casting. He is well equipped with supplies, including an armful of liquid refreshment.

As important as a lackey is to an aspiring King's Musketeer, a proper mistress is even more important. Dart Onion's sweetheart is the fair Constance, a Halfling maiden who also happens to be the Queen's seamstress.

And, finally, we have Her Majesty, the sometimes neglected (and often underestimated) Queen who commands the loyalty and devotion of the King's Musketeers.

Her fetching gown and simple crown are modest (well, sort of) as befits her demure presence -- but there is an ample supply of bejeweled rings on her fingers to bestow on her gallant champions.