Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forge of Ice Entelodont "Skull Pig"

Sculpted by Matt Gubser.
"What big teeth you have..."
Alex Bates at Forge of Ice is brilliant at coming up with bizarre minis that I don't know I need until I see them. This entelodont, sometimes falsely called a "hell-pig" or "terminator-pig", is just such a miniature. Alex had asked me to design a few bases for him so I used my laser cutter to create a tile pattern and then sculpted vines to show an ancient civilization being overtaken by jungle.

As part of my compensation for the bases Alex sent me two of the entelodonts so I quickly assembled and painted one. Assembly is a breeze, pin the head on and add a bit of green stuff to soften the join. Then just drybrushing and washing to capture the fur texture. I based the color scheme on this excellent rendering by Masato Hattori.

The base was painted and then had static grass and jute twine added.

Overall this is a solid mini that reads perfectly as the overpowered beast it's meant to represent. Matt truly captured the musculature and forward motion of such a beast. It was a blast to paint.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Vintage Battletech Demolisher Tank

Almost a proto-OGRE.

With two Robotech Tactics Tomahawks.
Needed a bit of hobby meditation last weekend so I built and painted this vintage Battletech Demolisher. It came with a sprue of bits like the pintle mounted guns and the strange "horns". It also included cast metal rods to use for smaller gun barrels but I just used brass wire.

The camo scheme just came together as I was painting, I didn't start out with a plan other than I wanted something dark red. Originally this was going to be for a Horizon Wars Martian army but I had some small House Kurita decals so it went right back to the Battletech universe.

Thse are still available from Iron Wind Metals but are a bit pricey at almost $30us. I'm glad I found mine in my lead horde.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chainsaw Warrior Art and Comic Script.

A couple of nifty bits from Pete Knifton. First off his interpretation of the Chainsaw Warrior, or CW as he's sometimes known, as well as a script, by Ian Rimmer, for a seven page comic based on CW's fight to destroy Darkness. Pete was kind enough to let me have a go at coloring his art and I had a blast doing it.

Pete also let me know that CW always wore a Hawaiian print shirt under his armor and was quite the slob, often getting called out by his commander for the accumulation of pizza boxes in his apartment. Sounds like me in my teens.

Thanks to Pete for the scans and for sharing this bit of Chainsaw Warrior history!

Art by Pete Knifton. Colors by Brian S. Roe.

(Everything is Copyright Games Workshop, Forever and Ever, Amen.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

New Dennett Demogorgon Sculpture!

John Dennett, the sculptor of the Demogorgon miniature used in Stranger Things, will soon be launching a Kickstarter to fund a "perfect" version of his Demogorgon design. John has begun working on the piece and to tide us over, he's posted pictures of the armature including an amazing scale shot featuring the original Grenadier Demogorgon. Cool ain't it!

Check out the Demogorgon Facebook page for information about the upcoming Kickstarter!
Big-un ain't he?!

A newer, dynamic pose and massive scale to capture John's original vision.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pete Knifton, An Appreciation.

Of all of the many talented artists that have worked for Games Workshop/Citadel Miniatures, Pete Knifton is one of my all time favorites. During his time at GW, he was simply the most prolific artist in the pages of White Dwarf. His drawings were full of character and action, his style could shift from tight comic book inking to looser brush-work, and he maintained a sense of playfulness that was infectious and fun.

I've always responded to Pete's sense of action and movement, something based in his obvious love of comic art, and his ability to capture the "feel" of a piece in his illustrations.

In the same way that H's blueprint artwork made the technology of 40K more real for me, Pete's art gave it life and told exciting, fun stories without any words. He was the soul of early 40K to me and one of the strongest reasons why I still love this era of Games Workshop. 

The following collection of images represents a pairing down of all of the artwork PEte created for White Dwarf. The man was a machine.

Thanks for the wonder Mr. Knifton!

From White Dwarf #113 The Pacification of Flotis III.

From White Dwarf #102 "Illuminations" 

From White Dwarf #102 "Illuminations" 

From White Dwarf #102 "Illuminations" 

From White Dwarf #101 

From White Dwarf #101

From White Dwarf #105

From White Dwarf #106

From White Dwarf #114
From White Dwarf #114
From White Dwarf #114
From White Dwarf #114
Distortion Cannon from White Dwarf #100

Dreadnought from White Dwarf #100
Harlequin Jet-bike from White Dwarf #107
Ogryn from White Dwarf #110
Robots from White Dwarf #104
From White Dwarf #104. Pete has said that The Desert Lions Chapter mentioned in this article are colored "desert color with sky blue highlights". R.A.W. is Robot Attack Warrior and Zarbi are ant-like creatures from early Dr. Who episodes.
From White Dwarf #98
From White Dwarf #98
From White Dwarf #111
From White Dwarf #109. "REVENEBO" is Imperial Gothic for "I'll Be Back."
From White Dwarf #109
From White Dwarf #110

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bullock Jet-Bike Re-sculpt by Mr. Papafakis.

Inspired by the original Pete Knifton artwork, The One from the brilliant blog Mr. Papafakis has re-sculpted the classic MK-14 Bullock jet-bike to more closely match Pete's version.

This hog has all the candy and looks far more bad-ass than the original models.

Head over to The One's blog and check it out! He's been playing with creating a portly ork with Oyumaru that has to be seen to be believed.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stranger Things "Demogorgon" Sculptor Tells All!

The new Netflix series Stranger Things is a pitch-perfect love-letter to 1980s pop culture and especially the nascent sub-culture surrounding Dungeons & Dragons. Seamlessly melding John Carpenter soundtracks, Stephen King small towns, and Spielbergian wonder with a dramatic and satisfying plot, Stranger Things is quite simply, amazing.

In the first episode we are introduced to four middle-school aged friends who are deep into a rousing game of Dungeons & Dragons. Mike, the dungeon-master, is building up to the party's next encounter. After a sly bit of mis-direction he hammers this miniature onto the table.

Picture by Alex Bates.

Picture by Alex Bates.
And it gave me a chill when I saw it.

One of John Dennett's classic Fantasy Lords miniatures sculpted for Grenadier Miniatures and a model that I once owned along with several of John's other creations. To have such a complete nostalgia loop hit me so early in the show created a connection that I'm still sort of buzzing over. And far from being merely a nod or name-check, the "Demogorgon" as its known in the kid's game, remains relevant for the entire show.

So I reached out to John Dennett to learn a bit more about this suddenly remembered classic mini. As always John has been very gracious and helpful when it comes to his fans.

The Demogorgon is now being produced by Mirliton Miniatures in Italy.

NEWS!!! John Dennett is working on a new DEMOGORGON! Check it out here:


RB: How long had you been sculpting for Grenadier when you sculpted the “Demogorgon”? 

JD: I began working as a free-lance sculptor for Grenadier Models in 1982 and after a few months was offered a full time position at the company sometime in the early Autumn as I recall. The Demogorgon was sculpted in 1984 and released within weeks of my completing it. That was pretty much the way things moved at the company, soon as the sculpture was finished it went to the mold maker and usually within a day or two was spun for initial casting.

RB: Was the miniature sculpted to represent the Demogorgon from Dungeons and Dragons 
or meant as more of a generic demon? 

Demogorgon with the original Monster Manual artwork. Picture by Alex Bates.
JD: At the time I came on board full time at Grenadier, they had ceased their association with TSR on the licensed AD&D figure line. First thing they wanted to do was to phase out the AD&D figure sets and replace them with similar counterparts. We received input from the fans and elsewhere as to which characters were most popular across the RPG environment and usually worked those suggestions into our lines. Demogorgon was one of those. My job was to design a character that could be used as the desired one but keep it different enough to stand on it's own for our purpose of not copying what had gone before. I redesigned the Demogorgon to more of a unique monster in keeping with my stye of art. As I recall I added a second pair of tendrils, extra eyes, crests to the tops of the heads etc. I would have made it larger in scale but there were always restrictions with fitting into our packaging and this needed to seat within the confines of a bister pack.

RB: Any thoughts on the other little demon included in the set? 

JD: If you're referring to the little impish creature, that was one of my original designs that was actually released in a few different ways. One had wings, one did not and there was a third with varied features. I don't remember which one ended up in the blister though.
RB: What materials was the original sculpted in and how long did it take?

JD: All my originals were sculpted using Atlas Epoxy-Bond epoxy putty as the medium. This was favored for a good many reasons but was durable enough once cured to withstand the Vulcanizing process of high-temperature and pressure in preparing the master molds.

The exact amount of time to create the sculpture was probably 3 working 8 hour days or so. The only things that took longer were the standard dragons, some giants and my War-Bots.

Dennett's War-bot minis.
RB: All of your minis push the limits of what can be cast in a two part mold, especially in the 1980s. How much did you learn about casting miniatures before starting to sculpt them?

JD: I was always trying to figure out how things worked and prior to my time at Grenadier I collected toys and models and studied parting-lines and part breakdown. Marx play-set figures were approx. 54mm and the parting lines were prominent. On their larger 6" hard plastic figures it became easier to understand why parting lines were established where they were and how things like surface details became less prominent approaching them. The Marx "Nutty-Mads" series of figures were great educators for me even before getting into the business of designing figures for production.

A Marx Toys "Nutty-Mad". From Wikipedia.
Once I was at Grenadier I worked closely with Rich Jennings who was the head of the mold making and casting departments to establish what I could "get away with" with the  design and animation of my sculptures.

As I already mentioned, there were several restrictions, mostly packaging related, that limited my ability to create more dynamic sculptures. That and the rule to keep the sculptures as 'one-piece' as possible. That was always tricky! I hated the look of flattened figures that almost patterned the look of Egyptian tomb paintings, even though that was the easiest way to mold them...press the prototype in the the uncured rubber and have minimal build-up to establish parting lines. So I always pushed for more animation where ever I could in my designs. 

Rich, to my delight, embraced the chance to to more complex molds and readily accepted all that I presented to him. The size and thickness of my sculptures were always a bone of contention to me. I knew they would be much more impressive if I was allowed to go larger and with additional parts. Ultimately this was one of the reasons I decided to part company with Grenadier in 1986. I felt I had done all I could in 25mm miniatures under those limitations and was anxious to move on and pursue other things artistically.

One of Dennett's more recent gaming miniature sculpts, a Histath for Forge of Ice. Painted by Andrew Taylor of Antediluvian Miniatures. 
RB: Have you been watching Stranger Things?

JD: Not as of yet, but I plan to as soon as I get a little free time. I've read nothing but shining reviews on the series so I'm looking forward to binge-watching all episodes once I have the chance.

RB: If you could go back in time to when you sculpted this and say: 

”Hey John, this miniature is going to be a really big deal in a very popular series in the year 2016.”, what would your response have been? 

JD: Probably my response would have been; "Hope I live long enough to see that happen!"  
If I could go back in time and know what I do now, I'd be getting royalties on every thing I created back then for as you know, 32 years later many of my creations are still being produced and sold throughout the world. But really, who knew? I of course am flattered my work has held up through the decades and is still in demand today...maybe more than when first released.

John Dennett at his work-desk. From a Japanese Grenadier Miniatures catalog.

RB: Do you have any interest in sculpting for film and television?

JD: Yes I do and have for a long time. It hasn't happened as of yet but I won't fight the opportunity if it should manifest.  That would be a total blast for me to achieve some screen credit for my artwork after a lifetime of creative design.

RB: What are you currently working on at Moondevil Studio?

The Life Leecher from Moondevil Studio.
JD: I'm constantly creating new sculptures in a wide range of scales targeted at the hobby modeler. These resin model kits are designed, sculpted, molded and cast  by me as not only a source of income but a chance to express myself in sculptural form in ways I had been planning to do all during the years I was working commercially. Commercial work, though it pays the bills, isn't the ideal environment for one who relishes in doing creative design as the majority of the subjects handled commercially are licensed properties with very little or no opportunities to expound on beyond the established style guides. That is why I created Moondevil Studio, to indulge in sculpting my favorite things and offering them to a limited degree to an audience that particularly enjoys my work...even if its a completely unique concept.

At the present time I'm offering my "Imaginary Fiends" line of miniature busts, 1/2 scale busts of Classic Movie Monsters, "Crypto Legends" figures based on mysterious animals not yet proven to exist, and lots more.  New pieces are offered almost on a monthly basis so I keep busy with this in addition to taking on commissions from time to time.

Imaginary Fiends.

Classic Movie Monsters.
My website is not up to date, which I'll rectify shortly, but I have two pages on Facebook where I post what I'm working on @ "John Dennett" and whats available in kit form @ "John Dennett's Moondevil Studio".

My website is: www.moondevilstudio.com

I'd like to thank you Brian, for this little interview concerning my Demogorgon who appears to have become somewhat of a celebrity now that he's been spotlighted on Stranger Things.  And thank you to your readers who took the time to absorb some of my personal history with Grenadier and beyond. Peace!


And special thanks from me to John, my shield-brother Alex Bates, and the fine folks at the Old School Miniature Facebook group.