Squad Goals: Goblins!

This is definitely going to be a departure from the usual fare here at Agoners, as this is mostly going to be about the “hobby” side of wargaming rather than the gaming side. But I think it will serve a point too to underline something I made note of in my recent ‘Musings on Wargame Systems‘ piece. But more on that later. Let’s get to it.

I’m intending to try and play some of The Ninth Age – their Quickstarter Rules specifically to begin with, as well as some Kings of War. I may well play a few other games later on, but these are the two that have grabbed my interest the most initially as they have at least decent rules, local & online communities and followings, and they also suit my existing model collection the most. That said, I’ve also been using The 9th Age (T9A) quickstarter (QS) pre-made army lists as an inspiration to paint up a few new models, some of which I’ve had for a long time but never got around to making and painting. For Orcs & Goblins (my main fantasy army), the T9A QS list has a unit of 20 Goblins, and although the QS rules don’t really use specific rules for Spears as a weapon type, it’s heavily implied by their stats that they are actually Goblins with Spears. Now whilst I’ve got over 100 painted Goblin models, many of which would would do a fine job of a ‘counts-as’ stand in for this unit, as I say, I was specifically using this as inspiration to do new things with old models. And when I say old models, I mean some of the oldest ones I have (at least in terms of purchase date!), some of these guys, originally from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle 4th Edition from 1992:

They start their small Goblin lives like this, on a sprue:

Now the problem with these old models is that every model is identical, bar some different shield designs. And I really wanted to get away from that, as the vast majority of my other units I use for Orcs & Goblins are purposefully different, and differently posed and even sized, to create more of a “rabble” look which seems suitable for me for O&G. It also sneakily allows me to excuse hugely different looking models made from different time periods and even model companies – in fact I especially want that look to an extent. I keep my army tied together through a general paint scheme & a close painting standard and style throughout to help it tie together. But I also significantly vary uniforms and colours a lot within each single unit too.

I could just have painted these Goblins very non-uniformly, but even then, they would still appear to be pristine ranks of perfectly positioned fighters, which is exactly what I didn’t want. Basically I specifically wanted to avoid this kind of look for this unit:

So I went to town with some additional Goblin parts from other plastic sprues I had and made some conversions, or as it seems to be called these days ‘kit-bashed’ them together:

Then of course each piece of plastic has to be carefully trimmed to remove all the mold-lines and flash, as well as lots of other minor conversions such as swapping spear-heads around and such like to make them even more different. I also blu-tac’d their shields on and tested how these Goblins could ‘rank up’ when the models are positioned next to each other, and decided how I could best place them in different positions and angles on their bases, to again make them look more of a disorganised fighting unit. This required cutting a slot into many of the bases, and then filling the gaps I created with yet more blu-tac. I could of course modelling putty for this too, but I find blu-tac is much quicker and easier and does just as good a job for gap filling on bases where they aren’t going to be pressed or handled later at all (and it does make removing the bases a little easier too should I need to do so at a later date).

But I did have a use for that modelling putty ‘green stuff’ of course. I decided to make some additional helmets and a few fur coats for some of the Goblins. I might have got even more carried away with this had I not been talking to a friend of mine who did make me realise I was doing all this for only a unit of weedy Goblins, and I shouldn’t take things as far as I had with some of my Orcs. I also collated a lot of different shield sizes and designs from across various different model ranges, that would all add to the differences from model to model. I blu-tac’d the shields to a piece of card to make them easier to paint whilst separated from their holder (a vintage Citadel miniatures blister back from the 90s is naturally the perfect size for this).

A few more bits of armour, plumes and minor other touches later, and the modelling stage of this unit was complete. They are already starting to look much more like I’d want them, at least as far as I can do with “identical” models.

Greyscale squad up! Oh, I also deliberately made many of their spears different lengths.

Next it was onto the various stages of painting. First spraying a black undercoat:

Then their base coat. I split the Goblins into a few groups and assigned them a main coat colour to each group, to make sure I distributed a lot of different colours around the unit and I didn’t just paint them all with the same red coat for example. The key colours for my army (at least for common Orcs & Goblins) are khaki, dark red, and black, and a key motif is wolf fur trims.

If I was sensible I would leave my models like this really as it would be pretty acceptable with finished bases, but oh no, I just have to spend way too long improving it from here…;-)

Then their first shades (washes and inks):

This is literally the darkest moment in their life (not counting the black undercoat 😛 )

And then highlights to bring them back to a matching colour palette with the rest of my army, plus gluing their shields on:

And finally finishing their bases by painting and flocking them, and adding a flag for their standard bearer – but I couldn’t do much with the design here as the space for a flag was tiny.

Oh and yes I know my bases are pretty simple by ‘modern’ standards, but I already have 100s of models based in this style, so I’m not about to deviate from it now! It also matches really well with my existing gaming table, and I actually really dislike many of the bases that people do these days stylistically. Even if in isolation as a display piece they look fantastic, to me, especially on a tabletop, they look ‘over-done’ and distract from the models a lot of the time. It also just looks really silly to me that these models are permanently attached to rocks, bushes, mud, ice & snow, trees etc. I’d rather leave the terrain to the actual battlefield and have my models look as ubiquitous as possible.

As there is quite a lot of space between these models in general, there’s a lot of leeway with these Goblins in how I can rank them up, unlike some of my more extreme Orc units which have to be very carefully positioned so as to not be sticking each others limbs, shields and weapons into each other.

Anyway, I’m very happy with how these turned out even if it was a lot of work. And that gets back to my main gaming point here. As I noted before, if the rules make a unit like this a pretty rubbish option (especially due to a rules change), it’s far worse than a “nerf” happening to some pixel forces of yours that only exist on a computer screen. As it is, I know this equipment choice (Spears and Shields) for Common Goblins in T9A is sadly currently very sub-optimal, due to some poorly designed points costings for Goblins in their army book. They still are within the realms of playable though at least (especially in bigger numbers, and I can easily add to them later) in T9A, but I can guarantee I won’t see them popping up in any tournament lists any time soon just from a glance at their army book. Hopefully in Kings of War the costing for a unit like this is a bit better, but I don’t expect this will be a great unit in that game either from my current pretty basic understanding of those rules. So in some ways I don’t really care too much in this case, as I knew I was making & painting a sub-optimal unit choice and went ahead and did it anyway just for fun – and it was still incredibly satisfying to finally paint up some Goblins models I’ve owned since I was 16. If they ever do get re-balanced in any of the games I play, they are only likely to get a bit better at least!

Here’s some more “glamour” shots of the models spaced out for a better look at some of their details:

I also couldn’t go without putting up these photos of my Orc who I’ve named “Navan”, who may or may not bear some connections with the Navan of Agoners’ authoring fame.

And just so FightingRoadhog doesn’t feel left out by the intra-Agoners in-jokes… “Blood for the Blood God!” – there I said it, happy now? 😛

12 thoughts on “Squad Goals: Goblins!

  1. Wow, modifying a unit of Goblins to that extend took some effort. I love my Goblins and do a lot of mixing and matching, but remodelling almost every single one of them takes it a step further. Great work! How long did it take you?
    And using the old blister as a painting background… how dare you, what if it gets paint on it *shudders*

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    1. Thank you 😀 (& thank you for reading, I thought this post might be up your street!)

      Well they took me around 3 weeks of real-time to finish, but it’s pretty random how much hobby time I put into them exactly as I don’t really keep track. Some days I wouldn’t do any, or just 30 mins on them, but some days I would’ve spent many many hours too. I honestly don’t think I can say a good estimate sadly. I also tend to do bits on other models too whenever I mix too much paint on a palette and want to use it up, or when I’m waiting for some paint to dry etc. so it’s not like I’ve been 100% dedicated to these Goblins even if I worked out the time either.

      I’m afraid that the old blister pack got a LOT of paint on it – as I even sprayed the shields whilst they were attached to it – so it got covered! It doesn’t matter though, I’ve got a fair few more of those old card backs (and even a few whole blisters unopened – not OnG though) kicking around 😉

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      1. Well, this was exactly my kind of article 😀 That sounds about right, my hobby time tends to be the same way 😉 Although I despise painting.

        I’m pretty young and seem to like the old packagings way to much, probably because I could only get them when buying something old. I don’t really care about blisters, but one time a person sent me stuff from eBay in a Dogs of War Midas box with some tape around. Not only was it flimsy but also somewhat rare I think. That was really strange to me 😀
        Is there a chance to see an army shot of your stuff in the future?

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        1. That’s a shame you dislike painting so much really given your interests! I have always liked it to an extent, but I’m definitely enjoying it even more these days than I ever did earlier in my life. So who knows, maybe you will develop more of a taste for it when you’re older too.

          Yeah I can imagine a lot of this old packaging would seem more special to you if you’d not seen masses of it for much of your life! I can appreciate that, although I tend not be one for nostalgia too much myself 🙂

          Now I’ve found some at least reasonable ways to photograph my models there will definitely be some army shots for them – and hopefully I’ll do some more battle reports and such too involving my models – later on. But don’t expect these any time soon I’m afraid! But hopefully at least in 2019 at some point 😀

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          1. I’m a collector and gamer first and painting is back the line. I have like 5000P painted though so I lost the need for it a bit. But I hope you’re right. I want to like painting 😀

            I was pretty happy to see you make this post! I’m not expecting anything, not everyone can have a schedule like I do and painting and playing takes a lot more time than my stuff 😀

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  3. Here I am, Man, the work you have done is tremendous. So much work for a unit of standard goblins. However, the result really paid you off. Old WHFB units are all like this. I have some sauros, wood elves and old bretonnians archers and they are all the same. So I really understand your feelings about how much they are “boring” and the totally don’t suit with more modern models. In these day I justa started to paint again. Finally. I will post something on Flickr in these days. Remaining about your models, now I have bretonnians minis of two different Warhammer editions and a ton of Gamezone ones. Really thinking about how mix them together, in fact I’m watching carefully the job you have done here and in others photos of yours, because I still don’t know if I will put different models in the same unit, or if it’s better if every unit will be made by the same models. It will however makes every unit different, in any case. Your idea to paint shields is really cool. I will undoubtedly copy it. 😉 And totally agre about basecoating. Make super strange stuff for regular units is weird, a plain green grass base for regular models is the best solution. Always.

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    1. Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment etc blackwolf 🙂
      I think these old models have quite a charm though – it really depends what “look” you are going for as to whether you want to mix models & vary poses etc. I quite like the look of ‘pristine ranks’ when it comes to some armies or units though – just doesn’t work for me with my style of Orcs & Goblins. Good buy on the Gamezone minis though, I really like most of their stuff!

      Hah I’m a bit of an outlier when it comes to bases these days – most people prefer super fancy basing techniques rather than my “old school” feel of simple green bases 🙂 I want to start a simple green base supporters movement, so go for it! Maybe we can make it make a comeback!

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      1. Lately I’ve been busy with various things and I’ve spent all my free time doing some terrain and restarting to paint my first two miniatures, after years and years. But I’ve gladly come back! 🙂

        Yeah, define them boring was quite generic, from me. They are all equals, but I agree with you about the charm. They are the classic little vicious goblins. 😉 I agree about the pristine ranks concept, and yeah, it’s more for humans or elves. I don’t imagine a unit of goblins, orcs or even skaven so disciplined that everybody has the same pose and they are all so ordered. I really image their ranks, really messy.

        Gamezone stuff is really superb. When they arrived I was like a child. 🙂 Probably the best knights models in the business, for me. And great paesants units. The female mages are freaking good too. Their Bretonnia/Kingdom of Acquitaine stuff is really, really cool. Going to buy some extra minis (probably some dwarves or some Empire) in the future..
        I’ve received 3 bonus miniatures for free. One of them is a goblin, dressed like Robin Hood and with a bow. Is name on the package was “Goblin Hood”. 😀 I’ve thinked about you and collectinggreen, when I’ve seen it. 😉 Really original model.

        Fancy bases are cool on characters and often on 40K minis, because they have round bases and they aren’t in ranks.
        Your idea is good and I will support you! 🙂 It’s time to spread the message and revive it! 🙂
        Furthermore, classic green bases fit with a larger variety of terrains, compared to elaborated ones.

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