Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Hydra

I have finished painting the Hydra which, as in the Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts, guards the Golden Fleece.  This Wargames Foundry model is very much based on the one from the film.  The model comes in several parts for the body, plus separate heads but did need a bit of filling on the joins.  In the different versions of the legends the fleece was guarded by a dragon or serpent that never slept and whose teeth, when sown, would turn into warriors.

In the original Greek myths the Hydra lurked in Lake Lerna, the entrance to the underworld.  The number of heads it had varied from account to account and, later, a regeneration aspect was added so that if one head was cut off two would grow back.  In the end Heracles was sent to kill it as his second labour and succeeded by cutting off the heads and cauterising the stump, preventing head re-growth.  So it can do double duty as part of the Labours of Heracles.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Hydra Part 1

I have decided to get on with the Hydra, which will guard the Golden Fleece for the Argonauts project, which has just been given a boost with the interest of a fellow wargamer suggesting a joint project.  I undercoated it today and then had to find a suitable colour for its body.  I had a look at stills from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) as it is clear that the Wargames Foundry model is based on the Ray Harryhausen creation.

Having had a rummage through my paint boxes I discovered a paint that would be just the job: Humbrol 157, Azure Blue. I also use this colour quite a bit for blue clothing on Dark Ages and ancients figures when a muted blue is useful.  Next I need to find a colour for the front of the creature,  It's going to be quite fiddly to paint as I decided to assemble it first (well over a dozen pieces),  

Monday, 30 December 2013


Talos with some of my Foundry Argonauts

I am very grateful to my particular friend Sophie, from Vancouver, for giving me something I have been after for ages: the twelve inch vinyl Talos model by X-plus.  This is a recreation of the creature from the Ray Harryhausen film Jason and the Argonauts.

Ray Harryhausen with his original model of Talos

Now the scale isn't right, of course, but it is quite acceptable for wargaming purposes.  In one way it is actually life size because the original model made by Ray Harryhausen is about one foot tall!

In fact the scale of Talos changes from scene to scene in the film.  Taking the Colossus of Rhodes as their guide (the mythological Talos was only eight feet tall  -a 40mm figure would work better for purists) the filmmakers said that Talos was about 100 feet tall.  Indeed if you look at the height of Todd Armstrong compared with the life sized prop foot they built for the film and extrapolate his height upwards then Talos is about 120 feet tall; over two feet tall to be in scale for a 28mm figure.

Harryhausen's original model

However, when Talos first appears he towers over the cliffs on the location at Palinuro in Italy.

In the famous sequence where he bestrides the channel like a colossus (a deliberate nod to the Colossus of Rhodes), to paraphrase Shakespeare, and picks up the Argo he must be more like 500 feet tall.

So I'm not worried about the size of the model.  He is appropriately big for 28mm figures, working out at about sixty feet tall, scale size.

Going for about the same cost on the internet is the now defunct Maelstrom Game's resin Talos which came in at about six inches.  So if you want to do 15mm Argonauts (but why would you?) it could be just the job, despite not being modelled on the Harryhausen version.

Talos (or Talus) has, like many Greek mythological figures, a somewhat confused history.  Like Cronos, Talos has pre-Greek origins so carries the story of being the last of his race.  In one version of the story Talos was made by Hephaestus for King Minos of Crete.  Here the story gets conflated with that of the minotaur as the automaton Talos made was in the form of a bull.  

In the other main version of the story Talos was a gift from Zeus to Europa, mother of Minos of Crete.  Rather than being an automaton he was a living creature, albeit made from bronze. He had a real vein running from ankle to neck containing ichor, the lifeblood of the gods, and one weak spot in his ankle (reminiscent of Achilles heel) where a bronze nail (or a great big hatch in the Harryhausen version) keeps his ichor inside his body.

The death of Talos on a Greek vase

Anyway, he was seen as the guardian of Crete so when the Argonauts tried to land there on their long journey back from having taken the golden fleece (not beforehand as in the Harryhausen film) Talos throws rocks at the Argo to keep them away.  He was either killed by an arrow in the ankle shot by Poeus, one of the Argonauts, using Heracles bow, or tricked by Medea's sorcery to remove the nail in his ankle vein in exchange for promised immortality or hypnotised into dropping one of the rocks on his ankle.  The talus bone in the ankle is named after him.

Anyway, despite all of this confusion he is still the guardian of Crete and someone the Argonauts will have to vanquish through archery or sorcery if they want to resupply the Argo.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Foundry changes its Amazons

I bought a number of Foundry's Amazons when they first came out for my Argonauts project.  They weren't wearing a lot of clothes and had Pylos helmets and hoplon shields which wouldn't have been right for the Bronze Age period but then again my Foundry Argonauts are very Classical in the Ray Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts film style.  I had actually started converting the Pylos helmets to boars' teeth ones.

New Bronze Age Amazon (left) with old Amazon (right)

However, when I looked at the Foundry website the other day I noticed that the previous Amazons had disappeared and been replaced with much more Bronze Age styled figures.  Excellent!  I ordered some straight away.  They have fringed skirts and boars' tusk helmets.  However, what has happened to the old Amazons? I was going to get some of the chariot borne figures (who did have a Bronze Age look) and the cavalry but they have all gone from the website.

A mystery.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Salute 2013

It had sort of passed me by that this year's Salute is going to have a Jason and the Argonauts theme, although, in reality, that just means that the South London Warlords will be running a themed game.  Nevertheless, they will have the author of the new Osprey, Neil Smith, on their stand.

I notice that they seem to have changed the cover for the book since I first noted it here.  I think I preferred the original, however, of the Argo.  The artist for the book, however, is the very talented young Spanish painter Jose Daniel Cabrera Peña and it will be interesting to see what he brings to the Bronze Age World.

His almost Frazettaesque illustration for the cover of Jason and the Argonauts gives us a a properly archaic Jason and an enticing Medea.  His dark ages and medieval work is simply excellent so I am hopeful that the illustrations could be very fine indeed.

Battle of Assandun 1016

Osprey have now listed the contents of Jason which look interesting:

The Man with One Sandal
Narrative: Jason and his Mission
Sources for Jason
Greek Mythology: Its purpose and relevance
The Gods: Who were they and what did they do?
The Voyage Out
Preparations: Greek Ships and Jason’s Crew
Narrative: Lemnos
Narrative: The Doliones: “real” fighting, Greek arms and armour
Narrative: The Harpies
Narrative: Clashing Rocks Colchis
Narrative: Jason’s 3 Tasks & the Golden Fleece
Jason & Medea
The Voyage Back
Narrative: Sirens
Narrative: Talos
Narrative: Jason’s Arrival
Jason’s Demise
Narrative: Jason’s Betrayal: Euripides’ Medea
Jason’s Legacy
Jason in Books & Movies

I just need to get some more Argonauts done!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

New Rules on the horizon

Crooked Dice, the people who have made sixties style Spy-Fi games cool, have announced a set of rules for Ray Harryhausen film type skirmishes.  These will certainly be worth a look when they get them out as the Tribes of Legend rules were very disappointing.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Argo by Grand Manner

The Argo with stern piece attached

This is the first resin piece by Grand Manner that I have ordered through the post and ! was nervous about it arriving in one piece.  It was beautifully packed, however, and the five parts (hull, steering oar, stern piece mast and boom) were all in great condition with just some sanding and minimal filling needed.  I have attached the stern piece, using a pin for extra strength, and have filled most of the small holes and joins. I have just  a few bits left to do with Citadel's excellent liquid Greenstuff to cover some slight indentations.

Looking at the picture on their website I thought it might be a bit small for my Argonauts but at slightly more than 14 inches long it works out at around seventy feet, scale size.  Given that this was about the size of most of Colombus's fleet it is quite capable of sailing around the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea.

2000 Argo

It is a lovely model, designed by Tony Harwood (you can see his work on Dampf's modelling page), and is more reminiscent of the Argo from the 2000 Hallmark TV mini-series (actually built for their version of The Odyssey (1997)) than the one from the classic 1963 Ray Harryhausen film, which was more like a classical Greek galley.  This is a good thing as it has a more appropriately archaic look I think.   

It also looks a lot like this painting.  I think I am going to base the paint job on the Harryhausen one, though. More on the Argo as I start to paint it.

1963 Argo