I’m not an enthusiastic painter. Never have been, don’t really ever see me being so. Despite that, I believe a painted mini is always better than an unpainted one, and a completed warband, or army, is always greater than the sum of its individual parts.
2020 was a bit of a weird year (anyone else get that vibe??). The apocalypse meant my main engagement with the hobby was painting. To begin with I worked on completing armies, but that was only ever going to last so long. Eventually, I found myself starting to think about painting things just because I quite liked them, exploring new techniques and even doing the odd bit of scenery.
Some things didn’t work out quite as planned, but a few things exceeded expectations. I have an army I really hadn’t planned to build, and I bought from some great companies I wouldn’t have tried under more normal circumstances. I also have a couple of new skills I wouldn’t have bothered learning had a I spent more time playing games. So, I thought I’d share some of my favourite models from 2020.
Phoenix and Helfane by Mantic
Comfort zones are made to be moved out of, apparently, but only if you really have nothing better to do. The Phoenix definitely pushed me out of mine. I’ve never been happy with the results of any fire I’ve painted, so contemplating the flaming chicken of death (or life?) was more than a little unnerving. After doing a bit of research (asking Twitter) I found a technique I was happy with (slapping Contrast on it). I couldn’t be happier with the results and it’s because I completed it, I felt comfortable taking on the Helfane at the end of the year as big models aren’t something I generally have the patience for.
Anything Burrows and Badgers by Oathsworn
There has been quite a bit of anthropomorphic animal awesomeness painted this year. Mono-pose metal has become a welcome respite from multi-part kits that look fantastic having been in the hands of pro-painters (the really good ones, not the ones that believe dipping things in orange before putting them on e-bay increases their price exponentially), but generally cause me concerns when I start painting them and realise the bits left on the sprue were actually needed.
Night Folk by Northumbrian Tin Soldier
I’ve always been attracted to the quirkier side of fantasy aesthetics and these models have it in spade loads. Mono-pose metal, fab. Weirdly, for me, I bought these guys without a game in mind. But as the collection is growing, and I’ve just signed up for the recent kick starter, that’s something that will have to change pretty sharpish.
Dwarfs and scenery by Bad Squiddo
Yes, technically dwarf, but I don’t care – love her and have a few more I’m hoping to get on the paint table in 2021. I’ve also done a fair amount of scatter terrain this year which has been easy to work with and produced some really enjoyable results.
Plastic Abyssal Dwarfs by Mantic
Having been thoroughly unexcited by Mantic’s oldest plastics I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by this kit. I was wrong. It’s a great example of Mantic’s new plastic line infantry kits (I’ve previously painted Basilean Men at Arms and now working on their rat sprues). Detailed, durable kits that lend themselves to batch painting. I was so happy with the results it made deciding to do an army a really easy choice, even though it meant painting another 40 of them.
Inferox by Mantic
Saving the snowflake that started the avalanche for last. Mantic’s resin is just lovely. Their new sculpts are so characterful and bring their universe to life so well. Infernox is one of those models I just fell in love with, but would have avoided buying under normal circumstances because I don’t have an army to field him in. Completing him as a one-off project, combined with how much I enjoyed working with the line infantry, really meant a full army was the only logical next step.
So in summary – 2020 didn’t quite turn out the way I had expected. It was the year I almost got excited about painting. It was the year I found a way to paint fire that I’m happy with. And because of all of the above it makes finding a positive about 2020 a lot easier than I had originally thought. Happy new year.