Miniaturistic Stuff





Newline 28mm Seleucid War elephant

Part One:  The parts. Reference. Priming and prep work.

Do I need to paint another war elephant?  The simple and sane answer is no…. but with the Syrian Campaign heating up between Paul Rigby’s excellent new Seleucid army and my old Ptolemaic stand-ins, I expect he will need a Seleucid Indian elephant. All my Indian elephants are set up to be Epirote, and my lone Seleucid Old Glory model is an African Beastie, or well I think it is Old Glory's elephants are a bit "species-neutral", it's nice, but this gives me an excuse to build a new elephant. Who really needs an excuse?

This Newline Design's 28mm Asian armored elephant has been sitting around for years waiting to get finished, er I mean started.  I was going to do a step by step photo shoot of how to build an elephant for the WAB Successor book, but there is no telling when and if that will happen in my lifetime. So here it is.

Not to be outdone by Mr. Allen Curtis (on my own website!), I thought that I too would take some step-by-step process photos and accompany the shots with deft and witty* commentary.

(* But not pithy.)



Here are the parts arrayed, ready for cleaning:



The Parts:

The process is mostly the same for an elephant model as any other metal/tin toy soldier model, it is just bigger.
Chariots are probably the most complicated ancient toy soldier models. I hate building chariots, especially in metal. Elephants are easy in comparison.

Step one, review the parts. Make sure you have all you need. Test fit things to make sure they will go together. This Newline kits is older and kind of crude.

I like this model because:

A) It is clearly an Asian elephant of the variety the Seleucids would have used in their major battles, up until they were forced by necessity to turn to the smaller and less effective North African breed.

B) It isn't outrageously big.   Miniature companies seem to be on a bigger is better binge. From swords to elephants, exaggerated size is rampant. This one is right in the middle of an Asian elephant.

C) The pose is not goofy. It's straightforward and works. Some sculptors insist that elephants look like drunken hogs.


Things I don't like:

A) The trunk is too thick and looks like a vent hose from an appliance.

B) It's heavy handed sculpting on the drapery, a smoother quilt makes it easier to paint on a nice design.

C) It's stance is a bit halting, still I like it better than leaning or over active poses.

D) The tower is too robust. The notion is silly that a tower needed to be as formidable as an oak dining table.

E) The legs are a bit thick and tree-trunk-like.

But aside from these problems I will press onwards.

I cleaned up the stuff with my jeweler's files and scraped with an X-acto blade. I use No. 11 blades if you are interested.
I assembled this beast with 5 minute epoxy, because I wanted a real tight hold. The body halves and head went together ok.  There was a lot a filling to get rid of the seam down the back, I used Green Stuff putty, because I just like it. it dries fast and sands the best of anything.

It's a heavy hunk of lead (less tin in models back then when I bought it).  So I decided to drill a hole and stick a corked screw in it to have something to hang onto. That bit of damage is in the belly where nobody will ever see).

Then it's on to priming. Simple for me I just spray painted the beast with Krylon Flat Black.  I like Krylon because it shrinks even if you overspray.  A few hours baking in the sun and the model has a very hard shell to work up the paint.  One could use a white base or gray, but the next step is why I chose a black base.



Here is the model assembled and primed:


As you can see I put a Eggshell White Ceramcoat acrylic "dry-brush" coat over the black primed model.  I have been doing this a long, long time.... now it's fashionable with all these "Army Painter" and other "dipping" schemes.  I use Eggshell White because it is softer looking than stark white for this peice.

My style is close to dipping- sans the dipping part :)  The dry-brush has already popped the detail (and also showed me where my flash cleaning sucked).  Dry-brushing isn't that difficult to master. One trick is to not let the brush get too dry, or the paint too wet. Use your nearly retired or cheap brushes too, not so cheap that it leaves brush hairs on the model.  I use a flat wide brush, usually like a # 8 for dry-brushing. 

The next pass is even more simple, the whole model gets a thin wash of Burnt Umber acrylic.  In this case I use the cheap stuff, Ceramcoat. The brown wash tones down the black, makes it more shadowy (that's a BS term, for not as harsh) (see NOT pithy).

Here is the model ready for coloring:



* At this point I need to stop and confess something.  The Newline Elephant is ok, but the trunk is.. put it mildly... poor. It looks more like duct tubing than a trunk. It has no taper and hangs straight down.  Before priming, I sawed the trunk tip off and sliced and diced the end of the Vendel resin elephant trunk nose onto it. It gives it a curve, has some taper, and has a reasonable shape.  (The Vendel elephant will never get done... I won it as a prize, and I hate them... these are the ones that look like giant drunken hogs.  I painted one and made it look halfway decent.)   So don't go writing me up to the Galactic Miniature Confederation to state I misrepresented a Newline figure.  The bottom line is it looks more natural, and I didn't have to go the other path, which was to build it out of Sculpey.



Now I have a model ready to go. Painting is next but how?  What kind of nifty reference can I find? 

The first image is my favorite old thing. My old tattered ancient armies book by Lilian and Fred Funcken's has this exhilarating painting. In fact it has inspired more wargamers than I can imagine. For many years this was the only reference available.  Sadly for all it's fervor and excitement, it is terribly inaccurate.  The elephants are clearly African Savannah elephants, because of their size and gigantic bush ears.  This painting represents Pyrrhus of Epirus' elephants, which came from other Successors.  These would have been Asian beasts, not Africans of either species- forest, or Savannah.  The Roman troops are also a bit more Hollywood than historical.  Still it is inspirational and fun:



This relatively recent Osprey publication has very nice illustrations:



The illustrations follow the archeology a bit better, and are very nice.  The text is a nice overview of war elephants through history. I found it better than John Kistler's rambling tome about War Elephants, but apparently Mr. Kistler believes that anybody writing about elephants is copying him, so reader beware.. the Osprey may have copied his work. I may be copying him as well.. right here.

The Osprey images also follow along with the images in Duncan Head's "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars."
This colorized image is from the cover of that essential reference.


Wandering on the internet I found this lovely flat miniature. It is an exquisite little thingy! I wish this Newline model had some of this intricate detail, and the pose has so much rhythm. Flats are the bomb.




As for elephant color.. well I have my own WebPages on that topic...

But I also found these really nifty images on GOOGLE:





So as you can see, elephants that have just had a nice bath are dark gray, but if you look closely they are already getting dusty!!  In scale one should stay lighter, because a very dark elephant will look out of place on the table. My intention is that my beastie will look like it is tromping in the dust, so it will be a little lighter than a just cleaned and bathed show elephant. Grays, olive greens, and browns should do.


That's it for part One.




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Miniaturistic Stuff


  Part One:     The parts. Reference. Priming and prep work.

  Part Two:     Painting the beastie.

  Part Three:  The crew and basing.

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