Sunday, 22 December 2013

HOTT: Santa's Army

Introduction

 Just over a year ago, I completed my 28mm "Santa" army for Hordes of the Things.  This was something I'd wanted to have for quite a while, but it took me a very long time to find the right figures for it.  Since then, Santa's army is brought out for a special game once a year, just before Christmas. You can read the battle reports for the games so far here:
Since this army has now appeared a couple of times, I thought it was worth devoting an article to its construction.

Santa [Aerial Hero General] (6AP)

There's no real doubt about how Santa is classified in this army: he cannot be anything other than an Aerial Hero General!

As might be imagined, this was by far the most complex piece in the army to make.  It's made up of parts from several different sources:
  • Santa himself is from Copplestone Castings.  This model is perfect just as it is; he's been painted and then pinned onto the sledge's floor.
  • The reindeer are from Company B, from the Finnish army range.  Other than the fact that these are mounted on wires (i.e. they're flying!), they're also straightforward models.  I've added the harness and traces from green stuff and thread respectively.
  • The sleigh is quite a different matter; this was a hard model to find!  It's based on the 2004 Christmas Sophie from Reaper Miniatures.  However, the body is heavily modified.  Firstly, the bat wings which extended past the rear of the vehicle were cut off.  The relief parts of the wings were filed off the sides of the carriage (and that was hard work!)  Finally, the 2 sides of the sleigh have been fixed inside out, so that the interior panelling effect becomes the new exterior and the last remnants of the bat wing effect are hidden on the inside of the model.  Note that the sword scabbard is now on the outside of the sleigh and on the opposite side from the original Reaper model.
  • Finally, some poles and wires were used to lift the ensemble up from the base; the sleigh has been modelled with the reindeer somewhat higher than the carriage, as if it's taking off.  A few tree-tops were added to the base, to try and give the impression that Santa is flying high over a forest.

Toy Soldiers [Artillery] (3AP)

This is a set from Eureka's "Toy Town" range.  I've tried to keep the painting very simple for these models, with only the most limited shading.  The soldiers are rather tall models; they stand well clear of 28mm human figures, but I suppose that's OK since they're just mannequins.  So far, their toy cannon hasn't achieved anything very much in any battle in which they've participated...

Elf Militia [Shooters] (4AP)

Santa's elves have formed a militia and have armed themselves with a mixture of rifles, pistols, sten guns and a flame thrower (perfect for dealing with recalcitrant snowmen!)  These models come from Wargames Supply Dump and can be found in the Santa Claus Wars range.  The sculpting is a little crude, but they're very characterful models and an unusual subject matter.

Ice Bears [Beasts] (6AP)

Apart from Santa, what might you find at the North Pole?  With a bit of a stretch of geography, some polar bears could be included; here's my version.  The models are from Wargames Foundry: GPR 19 Bellicose Bears.  Officially these are brown or grizzly bears - polar bears should have a somewhat different shape, especially for the head - but I couldn't find any polar bear models.  They've been given a "polar" colouration anyway; that's good enough for me.

Snowmen [Hordes] (5AP)

There are actually a few manufacturers who make 28mm models of animated snowmen.  However, I didn't use any of them for 2 reasons.  Firstly, none of the models really appealed to me and secondly, to make a large horde from metal models would have cost a considerable amount.

Instead, I made my own snowmen from modelling clay.  Each figure has either 2 or 3 balls of clay for a body.  Scarves, hats and "carrot" noses were added from green stuff.  The "coal" eyes were small pieces of grit, picked out from one of my tubs of basing material.  The arms are clipped-down branches from plastic tree armatures, made by Woodland Scenics.

The bases on all the models and the bodies of the snowmen were painted in an appropriate undercoat (green for the ground and grey/white for the snowmen).  When they were dry, these areas were covered with white glue and were then sprinkled liberally with Bicarbonate of Soda.  This can be obtained readily from any pharmacy (cleaning product) or supermarket (baking section) and it makes very cheap model snow.

Conclusion

This was a really fun army to plan and build, though it took a very long time to become reality.  I still don't have a really appropriate stronghold for it, though in the past it's been suggested that some of the Lemax products might work.  Sadly for me, these aren't readily available in the UK so I'll just have to keep looking.

However, this army does have its own dedicated dice:

Finally, Merry Christmas to one and all!

17 comments:

  1. I find this army inspiring. I am very tempted to waste a few hours recreating it. Thank you for the walk through of both army composition and where you acquired various things from. I am wondering what a Grinch army might now look like. Nice one mate and Have a good week and a fantastic new year.

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    1. It took quite a few hours, as I recall! I don't know the Grinch well enough to advise you, but I'm sure there are others who do :-) ...

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  2. Santa is clearly the star of the show, and a fine figure of a saint / elf / superhero.

    I really like the snowmen. They have a real scratchbuilt charm that's difficult to match with commercial figures, even conversions.

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    1. Agreed: Santa is the centrepiece! The snowmen are indeed unique, though I'm not so sure you'd find them charming when a horde of them come for you :-) !

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  3. Great looking army. The Snowmen are ace nicely sculpted I'd still of been tempted to get some of Copplestone's Evil Snowmen as big guys.

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    1. I did consider Copplestone's snowmen, but I felt that they were a bit fierce for Santa (ironic when you consider the ice bears...) . Besides, I couldn't really have emulated the style if I sculpted smaller versions for the horde, so they might have stood out a bit.

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  4. Haha, that's fantastic! Must have been a blast to put together!

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    1. It was many months (years?) in the planning, but fun when it all came together. A bit like my "Wicked Witch of the West" HOTT army, I suppose - though that's still a long, long way from being completed.

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  6. Thanks for sharing details of this army. I enjoyed it, and my wife also thought it was very clever, especially the snowmen.

    What about a Christmas-themed snow globe for a stronghold?

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    1. Glad you and your wife liked it :-) ! A snow globe is certainly a possibility, though I might have to hunt around a bit to find one.

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    1. Thanks, Chasseur! Glad you like it.

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  8. I really like this army. It is surely unique and all the better for being so. Thanks for sharing, Hugh, and many congratulations on putting it together.

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  9. This has got to be one of the best armies ever and must bring a smile to the face of even the grumpiest of us (OK, me then).
    I think the surprising thing thtough is that manufacturers do actually make things like snowmen and the elves!

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    1. High praise indeed - thanks, Joe.

      If anything, I'm surprised these days when I *cannot* find a model of something obscure :-) !

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