It is with some trepidation that I pen my choice of 2021 top ten miniatures from the Fantorical blog. The excellent top ten already done by Roger had me smiling with the way it was written so the bar has been set very high. This year highlighted to me the incredible variety of miniatures painted and if there is one thing Simon is good at, it is finding the eclectic and quirky stuff out there. One of the reasons I read his blog is to be shown the stuff that doesn’t always hit the mainstream! This was an interesting year for a number of reasons, but in terms of this blog some of the old favourite model ranges were either absent or vastly reduced in numbers and replaced by some very interesting new stuff!
The choice I have made is a personal one and based on a number of factors including, but not exclusive to, the paint job, how cool or quirky the miniature is, and just that wow factor! So without further ado and no more jibber jabber here it is, in reverse order.
These minis were metal oriental dog-like creatures from the fantastic Frostgrave game. Firstly, the concept of them intrigued me and the paint scheme just brought them to life. Secondly, the beautiful weathered metal with the superb Verdigris effect deserves a chef’s kiss. I just adore these. Such a great paint job.
A character from the Marvel comics brought to life in miniature form for the game Marvel Crisis Protocol. I just like this sculpt. It looks great. However, the paint job really brings him to life. I like the eyes, the stubble on his face and the skull symbol on his top. In a year that saw no hero clix superhero models that I recall, Atomic Mass Games filled that void very nicely.
This old school Blood Bowl player was a blast from the past and proved to be a lovely reminder of the history behind this Games Workshop game. The current range of Blood Bowl teams are some of my favourite minis out there for their character and humour so this chap brought a smile to my face. Proving once again that he is a master of painting metallic, I love the simple colour scheme of this player and really want to see this expanded into a full team in 2022 to go along with the fabulously named Rusty Buckets dwarf team!
This miniature just came out of left field for me. A quirky sculpt that was 3D printed and just oozed charm and character. Something different that highlighted the variety of miniatures out there if you just dig below the surface. A lovely paint job that I don’t think the main pictures do full justice to. Just revisit the posting and look at the other pictures where the woody menace is fighting the Tin Man to get a fuller picture of what this looks like. A quirky mini brought to life with a great paint job, what more can I say!
Warcaster: Neo-Mechanika is a relatively new range of miniatures from an established company that is moving their IP away from a fantasy steampunk setting to a very high tech Sci fi universe with some nice sculpts, The Iron Star Alliance faction has been painted up throughout last year but these later additions were tweaked with some blue metallic spot colours that just make them stand out from what went before. I really like these a lot. High tech knights in the far future sound just awesome to me!
Now we enter the historical sphere of wargaming with some 15mm World War 2 German soldiers. A different scale to what I have picked previously but this unit of soldiers looks like a mini diorama as the 4 men move across the battlefield on their base. To be honest it is difficult to pick one entry from the Flames of War postings, so this pick should really encompass the whole year’s work. It is the care that has gone into these that amazes me. Black lining them, camouflage on certain helmets etc. I bet these look stunning set up as a whole force. A great addition to the year’s output.
Another quirky miniature. A mechanical man that has clearly taken inspiration from one of the trio travelling the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy. Firstly, what a great sculpt! So full of character and with so many uses in fantasy games like Frostgrave or home brew rules that frequently get used in battle reports on this blog! Secondly, what great metallics. The rusted and weathered nature of this model is captured wonderfully with this paint scheme. Another one of those that really stuck in my memory.
Another set of miniatures I had never heard of that sounds bonkers, yet fun where you can match a famous martial artist off against dinosaurs! This is another one of those where the whole package of sculpt, paint scheme and the quirky nature of the game made me remember this one straight away. Great skin tones, well painted eyes (don’t you just hate having to do them!) and an overall paint scheme that just tells you who this is without reading the blog. I just couldn’t leave this one out of the top three.
Well, I’ve never seen a yeti that looks like this! (I know they probably aren’t real but I meant in film, miniatures etc! It would be awesome if they are real though!) I don’t think I’ve imagined a yeti ever looking like this – all mouth and white fur. What an incredible design. I think this model is amazing. Once again it comes to life because of the way the fur is painted. Two things I think Simon excels at: painting metals and painting fur. A simple paint scheme that is executed so well. Just superb.
These miniatures caused something of a stir when they hit the public in late 2020, early 2021. Designed for the Black Powder game in a new epic scale to really convey the massed battle nature that rule set was created to play. Different scale (15mm), different design (a strip of ten men all joined together) and a lot of talking points for the wargaming community which I won’t go into. Now, why did these diminutive Johnny Rebs take the top spot? Partly because I think the miniatures and the concept of how they portray a massed unit of infantry are brilliant. However, the main reason is the detail and care that has gone into them. Once again black lining between the different areas on such a small scale set of minis is madness but looks great; but it is the way the slightly rag tag nature of the Confederate forces has been captured by different coloured uniform elements that blows my mind! The soldiers have different coloured jackets, different coloured trousers, different coloured boots and different coloured hats! On a 15mm strip of soldiers!?! Boom! Mind blown again. Simon himself admits a bit of a dislike for these and to be honest I don’t think you can keep this standard of diversity up for a whole army in this scale as it would probably drive you a bit potty! I think these are incredible and a worthy winner of my top ten.
So that wraps up my top ten picks for 2021. Plenty of cool miniatures were left out but there was a lot to choose from! I hope these provide a small amount of inspiration for anybody reading to pick up a paint brush and do some painting.