Reaper BONES Large Earth Elemental WIP

The Large Earth Elemental from Reaper is an ideal miniature for their BONES plastic. It’s a solid chunk of a mini free of long, thin parts that will have a tendency to lose their shape, nor are there any tiny details that will lose some of their crispness in plastic compared to metal or resin. This mini started out in Reaper’s now-defunct P-65 line, a line of metal minis that contained a higher lead content than their regular minis. The P-65 alloy was cheaper to produce than their normal metal minis (lead being cheaper than tin), but even so, the metal version of this mini retailed for around $40; the BONES version retails for $7.99.

I was a little too anxious to paint this mini and I started brushing on primer before I remembered that I wanted to do a WIP for this mini – so just imagine that the black parts shown in the photos are still white. Many of the newer BONES are created as 3D models using digital sculpting software, and as such, have extremely precise joints with little or no gaps. As I mentioned above, the Large Earth Elemental was converted from a metal original, and has a few gaps that needed to be filled with greenstuff. While I was at it, I also used greenstuff to cover up a small dragon skeleton along the right shoulder of this mini; it’s a cool detail, but not one I wanted to use in this case. The neck also originally extended nearly half an inch away from the body. This looked kind of goofy to me, so I cut off a length of the neck before attaching the head. BONES minis are significantly easier to chop up and convert than metal.

The base is from Secret Weapon Miniatures. If you’re not familiar with them, I strongly suggest that you check them out. They have and wide selection of bases, washes, and other things that can help kick your miniature painting up a notch. This particular base is from their “Sack of Crap” that they occasionally offer: a random grab-bag assortment of reject pieces sold at a heavily discounted price. The rejects typically have imperfections such as holes. If you’re deep enough into the hobby to be buying stuff from SWM, or reading this blog for that matter, then you most likely already have the necessary skills do make the simple repairs to these cast-offs. In this case, I just wanted a base that was big enough to fit this mini on and the theme of this particular base didn’t fit with what I’m planning, so I covered up most of the detail with a layer of spackle/filler.

A good practice when painting any BONES miniatures is to prime them with one of Reaper’s brush-on liners. I don’t know what the chemical properties are that explain this, but the liners have excellent adhesion and resist rubbing off. You can even paint a different primer color on top of the liner, for example, if you want to start with a white mini. I went with Brown Liner for this mini. I also added some sand to the base for additional texture before priming.


After priming, it was a simple process of successively dry-brushing five different colors. I’ve been working on a terrain project for the last several months, and I decided I wanted to try painting the elemental to match. So, I did something that I haven’t done in about 10 years and used craft paints to paint this miniature. All of the colors were applied over the entire miniature, except for the last one which was applied only to the base and to a few areas on the mini itself.

List of color used:

  • Reaper Brown Liner
  • Folk Art Burnt Umber
  • Folk Art Antique Maroon
  • Folk Art Nutmeg
  • Folk Art Honeycomb
  • Folk Art Linen




The final steps were going back and cleaning up the edge of the base by painting it black, painting the eyes green, and liberally adding static grass tufts to the top of this mini (and a few to the base) to make it look like this elemental rose from the earth when it was summoned to this plane. These static grass tufts are awesome and are strongly recommended for adding detail to your terrain and bases of your minis. There are a few different companies that produce them (and at least one that I’m pretty sure repackages another company’s into smaller batches targeted towards miniature painters) and there are many colors available.

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Not my best work, but effective and ready for the game table. It proved to be a fun diversion after not having painted anything in over seven months(!), even if I basically went from working on terrain to working on a terrain-like miniature, LOL. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to use him in a game soon, maybe in a Song of Blades and Heroes warband.

Happy gaming!


Space Hulk – The Hot New Game of 1989!

I missed out on Space Hulk when it was re-released in 2009. I snatched up a copy when it was re-relesed again last year, practically rabid with anticipation at finally getting the chance to play this grail-game that had first grabbed my attention back in 2001 or so (after seeing pictures of Bruce Hirst’s custom tiles – the Fieldstone Dungeon ones, not the newer sci-fi ones that he designed for the 2009 re-release). However, after several plays, it left me feeling kind of flat. It’s not a terrible game, just… well, as I’ve said about GW’s rules and mechanics before, mediocre at best. It was probably cutting-edge and exciting when it was first released, but mechanics have just improved and evolved so much since that time, and in 2014, I was playing a board game where I count spaces on a grid to move my troops one square at a time and resolve combat by simple opposed d6 rolls with a modifier here or there. Yes, there are a few other rules that add a little more depth, but that’s the core of the game. Some people love it for its raw simplicity; simplicity is something to strive for, and is what creates elegant, tight designs. But simplicity without depth and substance is boring. The Space Hulk miniatures and cardboard components are incredible, but they are merely a veneer covering up and distracting from a lackluster gaming experience below. I sold my copy to help fund the purchase of newer games.

The point of this extended Space Hulk anecdote is that it captures what I think will be a potential problem with the resurrection of Specialist Games: Games Workshop just doesn’t have the chops to create game mechanics that can compete with modern-day games. Games like Necromunda, Man O’ War, Blood Bowl, and all of the others will definitely appeal to old-school fans and grognards who played these games back when they were cutting edge – before the golden age of tabletop games that we are currently in and its embarrassment of riches in the sheer number of quality games that are available. But after the initial wave of excitement born from nostalgia wears off, will these old games be able to hold their own against the current generation of games?

I want to stress that what I’m saying is by no means intended to disrespect the importance of these classic games. There’s a review of DOOM  on Amazon where the reviewer describes it as “very poor.” He was soundly taken to task by another reviewer who pointed out that calling DOOM “very poor” by circa 2000 standards (when the first review was written) displays a stunning level of ignorance about the history of video games – an ignorance which is not a crime in itself, but definitely something that precludes one from offering a meaningful review of a game that had already been out for seven years. (Of course, there are many other indications in that 32-word review that it shouldn’t be taken seriously, but the larger point remains valid.)

DOOM had a profound effect on the video game industry, but releasing the original game today in its original form in the hopes of it becoming a best-seller would be a laughable business move and a disgrace to its legacy. Trotting out games that were retired long ago may be nothing more than a callous attempt by Games Workshop to cash in on a market that their fans have been clamoring for something to fill for a long time, and which in many cases other companies have filled with their own games; or they may mistakenly believe that Specialist Games can still compete in the modern gaming market.  It’s possible that they may update these games with modern design and mechanics, but this doesn’t seem likely for a company whose most popular game has seen its core mechanics remain largely unchanged over the course of seven editions and nearly 30 years.