Top Ten Miniatures Of 2020 - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
As we draw to the close of what can only be described as a rather unusual year, at least some things are still familiar - the weather is awful, I’ve eaten too much and Simon and myself are back (after a year away) to writing our annual “What I think you painted best this year” posts. Oh, and no doubt as usual we’ll disagree with what we each picked! We both had gaps in the year where our output dropped quite a bit - well in my case I didn’t even start till March - but luckily for me Simon has completed more than enough figures to fill out this post. In fact whittling it down to just ten has been more of an issue for me!
No. 10 - Zygons by "Black Tree Design" – October 3rd
I’m a big “Classic” Doctor Who fan so I was delighted when these wonderfully pigmented Zygon’s appeared on Simon's blog. Though they have been resurrected into the new series a couple of times, these “Black Tree Design” figures are firmly based upon their original appearance in 1975, alongside the Loch Ness Monster. As always, Simon has lovingly recreated the colour scheme of the shape-changing aliens to perfection. A great little trip down memory lane for us “true Who” fans.
No. 9 - Ballmonster by "Precinct Omega" – March 10th
Though a relatively simple sculpt, and I don’t doubt Simon would say also a reasonably simple paintjob too, this “gas filled” antidote to fantasy sports games, was a real surprise when he first appeared. So much so that I immediately had to go to the company web-site and find out more. Luckily, as I was just venturing back into the hobby after a break away, I was able to restrain myself from parting with some hard earned cash right there and then, However Simon’s wonderful work on this and the other later featured “Bad balls” has tested my resolve on more than one occasion throughout this year.
No. 8 - Mole In A Hole by "Oathsworn Miniatures" – August 7th
I love it when Simon’s posts include one of his lovingly painted “Burrows and Badgers” figures, as they are all wonderful sculpts that show off the attention to detail and character that is evident in everything Simon paints. Indeed, I actually picked one as my number one figure from Simon’s painted fig’s the other year! I think this mole is a perfect example of this, and maybe I’m just a big softy at heart but I just find him so dammed cute! And it’s perhaps a good thing that he is apparently no longer available to buy!
No. 7 - The Squirrel Man Of Sevastopol by "Hero Forge Custom Miniatures" – October 25th
Well now what does it say about you, when you want to create a figure of yourself? Well in my case it would mean I didn’t have sense enough not to horrify other people. But in Simon’s case it means you want to know if you could survive a Zombie apocalypse with a squirrel on your hand - I still don’t get the squirrel? Built upon a website, 3D printed and sent to his door, this rather “macho” version of our “blogging” hero has been very nicely painted with his usual attention to black - I’m starting to think Simon is a bit of a closet goth! Albeit a squirrel loving one. The bushy beard is a good likeness too apparently.
No. 6 - FedSec Heavy Trooper by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" – December 14th
Simon has been churning out these FedSec troopers for so long now that I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t! All of them are great examples of his wonderful brushwork and any of them could make this list, But what sets this chap apart from the rest for me is his weapon, I don’t know if this ever appeared in the “Blakes 7” television series, but if it didn’t it should have. As always Simon's treatment of predominantly black clothing is perfection and puts my daubed efforts to shame. Then add to this the “spot-on” colour of his helmet's banding - Heck! It even looks translucent, and you can see why he is here amongst such vaulted company.
No. 5 - Simian Minion by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" – August 26th
Simon has painted quite a few characters from the original “Planet of the Apes” movies this year, and though I knew I wanted to include at least one of them in my list it was a real struggle to pick the one I thought was the best. But after very careful deliberation and a lot of back and forth, I finally decided that his painting of “Kira” - the female chimpanzee, who appeared in a couple of the films, had a slightly lighter touch to her features, and I felt the colour of her costume was a touch closer to the original than some of the others. This is though just personal choice, and the margins between this and his other “Simians” is very small.
No. 4 - Black Widow Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. by "Atomic Mass Games" – December 7th
I’ve already mentioned Simon is the master of “black”, and this wonderfully dynamic rendition of Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of “Natasha Romanoff” is just yet another example of his skill with realistically “noir” clothing. Also worth a mention is the skill and patience needed to assemble the sixteen pieces this figure consisted of! In fact he’s such a fan of Marvel Comics' Russian “Femme Fatale”, that he now owns three versions from this range alone (not to mention his Wizkids ones!). They say practice makes perfect, so perhaps it’s no wonder he did such a good job here.
No. 3 - Sterling The Wandering Knight by "Lucid Eye Publications" – January 20th
We go all the way back to the start of the year for my number three choice. This lovely little (and he is fairly little) figure by "Lucid Eye Publications". As I mentioned before with “Mister Mole” and the “Ballmonsters”, things have a knack of appearing on Simon’s blog that you have never heard of before and yet instantly want! I have been back to Lucid Eye’s website on numerous occasions since they first started “popping up” here. Though of all the figures from said company none impressed me more than Sterling here. At first glance he looks pretty simply painted - Black, and a dry-brush of silver. But there is so much more going on here, and when you really look you can pick out all the detail that really brings this little hero to life! No wonder Simon is using him as a stand in for “Boromir” in his “Lord of the Rings” games. The temptation is still strong!
No. 2 - Zzax by "Wizkids" – February 22nd
It wouldn’t be a “Top ten” of Simon’s output without at least one of his excellent “Heroclix” repaints, and this one is a “doosey!”. The stunning layered effect has been built up from heavy ochre through Carroburg Crimson up to final high lights of white (with many combinations of these and other colours in-between!), Even a professional “make up brush” was used in the production of this top notch paint effect. To my eye this is one of the very best re-paints I’ve seen either here or anywhere on the net.
No. 1 - The Blue Scarab by "Kitbash Games" – July 24th
Well, after a long and difficult bout of deliberation with myself - who am I kidding, I knew this lovely lady in blue was going to be my number one from the moment I set eyes upon her back in July. “No goon with a handgun”, was going to beat her and it seems neither was anyone else in my top ten! I could go through all the great details in her costume, and the excellent way Simon has picked them out, but quite frankly it would be a lot easier to point out what I don’t like about her, frankly nothing. A truly awesome piece of work and one that in my humble opinion is the pinnacle of Simon’s continuous top notch painting efforts for “twenty, twenty”.
So there you go - another year over and another fine body of work displayed on one of my favourite blogs. There have of course been several “just missed out” figures that made the short list but failed to make my final cut, and I have to give an honourable mention to all the various stomach turning, pudding’s, jellies and oozes that appeared with startling regularity in Simon’s posts during the year. But rather than list some of my other favourites here, my advice would be to make yourself a cup of tea and look back through the “Finished Figures” category under the header above and revel in some of the magnificent figures on show - from Rats to Robots, Prime Minister’s to Alien Pets, or even Tommie’s to Tomb Guardians, Simon has tackled everything with his usual enthusiasm and aplomb, if you are short of inspiration for 2021, you’ll find plenty there.
I’ll finish as usual, by thanking Simon for allowing me to run roughshod across his excellent blog, as well as taking on the arduous task of finding ten decent figures over on my own humble blog. Roll on 2021, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
N.B. You can visit Roger's excellent wargaming blog and see both his excellent output, as well as my own Top Ten of his 'best in show' here: