Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bringing out My Dead pt.1: Vintage Zombies

In preparation for running the very undead-centric Barrowmaze, I thought it wise to begin marshaling my forces, namely gathering up my miniatures and, where necessary, giving them a repaint.

First up is my collection of vintage zombies from Citadel Miniatures 'Fantasy Tribes - Zombies' line from the early '80's.  If my faulty memory serves, I believe I bought these sometime in 1982, and on the bottoms of most of the bases are the initials 'MP,' which I assume stands for Michael Perry who, along with his brother Alan, began sculpting part time for Citadel in the late '70's at the age of 17, while still in school.  As soon as they graduated they both went to work full time at Citadel and have been there ever since.  These days the Perry brothers are working primarily on the miniatures in GW's Lord of the Rings line.

There are nine different zombies in the Fantasy Tribes line, FTZ 01 through FTZ 09, but each one has at least twenty-six variants with slightly different heads or weapons.  This means that the truly dedicated collector will need to track down around 234 slightly different zombies!  I have only six different sculpts, so clearly I have a long way to go to collect them all.

I've just finished repainting all of my zombies, having recently stripped the old, nasty paint off the lot of them, and I've been having a lot of fun experimenting with skin tones.  I wanted the zombies to have a variety of flesh colours to represent varying degrees of decomposition rather than giving them a uniform appearance.  I've been studying stills from recent zombie shows, including The Walking Dead, as well as pictures from old EC comics such as Tales From the Crypt, and Haunt of Fear.

FTZ 01

With FTZ 01 - zombie staggering forward (variant #1 of 26), I've gone with a very pale skin tone that was inspired by the legless zombie in the grass from episode 1 of The Walking Dead.  I started out by basecoating the flesh with Reaper Maiden Flesh (a very pale flesh tone), then highlighted by mixing pure white with Maiden Flesh.  I shaded it with a wash of Reaper Cloudy Grey mixed with GW Asurman Blue wash, then finally glazed it with Reaper Bone Shadow.

FTZ 02

The skin colour of this FTZ 02 - zombie attacking (variant #1 of 26), is one of my favourites.  Here, I relied heavily on a series of washes to give it its tone.  I started with a basecoat of Reaper Half Orc Highlight (a yellowish brown that is almost identical to GW Snakebite Leather), then shaded it with Reaper Brown Wash.  Next, I reapplied the basecoat then highlighted the flesh by adding Reaper Tusk Ivory to the base colour.  Then I washed the flesh with GW Thraka Green Wash, followed by a wash of GW Leviathan Purple Wash.  The end result is an over-ripe rotting look that I really like.

FTZ 02
I have two copies of FTZ 02, and with the second one, I decided to try the Thraka Green and Leviathan Purple washes over the Maiden Flesh basecoat I used on FTZ 01.  The result is okay, but not nearly as sickening as the one with the Half Orc Shade basecoat.  It looks to be at a slightly less-advanced state of decay.

FTZ 03a
With FTZ 03a - zombie with club (variant #2 of 26), I went with my standby, the Reaper undead flesh triad: a basecoat of Reaper Ghoul Skin, followed by a layer of Reaper Moldy Skin, and finally a highlight of Reaper Bloodless Skin.  I finished off with a glaze of GW Gryphonne Sepia to give it a warmer tone.

FTZ 03b
This one is another variant of FTZ 03, but I'm not sure which variant number it is.  I painted the flesh with the same Ghoul Skin/Moldy Skin/Bloodless Skin triad as the variant above, but selectively applied some GW Leviathan Purple wash on various points to give it a splotchy, mottled appearance, then finished off with the Gryphonne Sepia glaze to warm it up.

FTZ 07
FTZ 07 - zombie with spiked club (unknown variant #), is probably the most innovative of the flesh tones I experimented with.  I started with a base coat of Reaper Mahogany Brown, then layered this with a mix of Mahogany Brown and Rainy Grey, with a final highlight of pure Reaper Rainy Grey.  As usual, I finished off with a glaze of Gryphonne Sepia to tone down the harshness of the highlights and warm the skin up.  This was a very successful experiment, and the resulting zombie looks like a withered and desiccated corpse that slightly resembles the Crypt Keeper and could be crawling off the pages of an EC comic.

FTZ 09
Last, but not least, FTZ 09 - zombie with meat cleaver,  is a miscellaneous product number assigned to four different zombies, of which this is one.  This is my favourite of the nine Citadel zombies and I decided not to get fancy with it, so I just used the undead flesh triad with a Gryphonne Sepia glaze to finish it off.

Next time I'll bring out my Citadel Fantasy Tribes Skeletons...


Dan said...

Just great stuff Sean! I'm a huge zombie buff...really looking forward to getting back to the game. :)

Unknown said...

FTZ 03a is definitely my favorite. I may try to pick some of them up, as zombies are one of my favorite enemies. I don't care what level a player is, you throw enough zombies at them and it'll be a challenge!

Currently we use a horde of ancient Germans which we modded to look more like zombies. While very effective and cheap, there's just no substitute for a good zombie sculpt.

Sean Robson said...

@Dan: Thanks! I've always loved zombies, too.

@Matt: The great thing about old school D&D is that characters never really out-level monsters. Like you say, if you throw enough zombies at them even high level characters will be challenged.

I wonder how difficult these will be to find now? I'd love to 'flesh' out my collection (sorry about that).

Sean Robson said...

Further to Matt's comment, I find it odd that fantasy zombie miniatures aren't very commonplace. I know of a few by Reaper and Otherworld, but there isn't a wide selection as far as I know.