Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Seven Minute Orc

For some, painted miniatures are an essential part of the role playing experience. Back in the Long-Time-Ago when old-school was still new-school and TSR was known for historical games, it was necessary to improvise and compromise, because very few manufacturers of miniatures delved into fantasy at all, and those that did ran a rather limited repertoire of models to pick from. Luckily, the hobby grew, and so has selection. Nowadays you can not only find just about any creature imaginable to stock your dungeon, but if you shop around, chances are there's a model that can represent fairly well just about any player-character a player can conjure.

Of course, not only have miniatures "grown up" a bit in the last 30 years, but so has the hobby of painting them. Once, you could slap a quick base coat of model paint on an unprimed mini, and so long as the other guys at the table could easily guess what your mini represented, then you had succeeded. These days, however, mini painting has become an art form, complete with its own "masters" and numerous arenas of competition such as CoolMiniOrNot.com have sprung up so that novice painters can have their self-esteem put into proper perspective publicly..for better or for worse. There are painters who sell single painted minis for upwards of $300 apiece and often sink 40 hours or more into the mini to do so. (Do the math... minimum wage?) But the craziest thing to come about in the world of minis is that people actually paint the darn things and then DON'T PLAY WITH 'EM!

Three years ago or so, on the occasion of an upcoming local "convention" my husband and I organized, it was decided by mutual insanity that we should have a massive miniature skirmish game involving a single unified orcish horde taking on all the other races of the fantasy world. It was just a few weeks until the Con, and we were a few score orcs short..and he went to painting. My kitchen table looked like some kind of Isengard assembly line with queues of unpainted orcs lined up waiting for their latex makeovers. And of course he started bragging about how fast he could finish one. "I can paint an orc in seven minutes..quicker than you can make cake-frosting." said he. "Put up or shuddup!" said I, and I got my camera and stopwatch.

When I uploaded the video (no sound, bad focus, old camera) to Reaper Miniatures' forum, I think it scared some folks. He might be what you call an old-school painter. He doesn't use any of those fancy-schmancy Liquitex additives. He don't wash his brush in between colours, and he paints straight from the pot..sometimes even mixing colours in the lids. If he were any more old-school, he'd be pre-school..using his fingers and wearing a plastic smock.

So that year, at ReaperCon '05, somebody (Reaper Kit, I think) asked him to repeat his seven-minute orc feat in a much higher quality video with sound and titles and narrative and all kinds of groovy things. A few days ago, I got permission to repost the video to YouTube.

So...here it is..... kinda like Saruman.


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