Wednesday, May 18, 2016

{T}Rolling Along - Long Riders come up short......

When I decided to pick up a small Trollblood force (HA! I should have known friend Erik and I now own almost the entire faction worth of models between us) one of the units that enticed me to make this leap was the Long Rider Cavalry. Even before I knew the rules the idea of a fast crushing cavalry unit of mounted Trollkin just really appealed to me - so I decided to buy them.

Holy crap they are an expensive unit - Over $100 even before Horthol! But..... they were so cool, and I heard the rules for them were also awesome - Totally going to be worth it anyway. Right?
So I dove in!

.... And then I opened the box to begin the assembly.....

Oh Crap.

Seriously - what a load of crap.

I was flabbergasted - these were some of the worst fitting models I have ever built - and I built that jacked up P.O.S. Forgeworld Thunderbolt where I had to completely rebuild the wing mounts and whole sections of the body......Ok maybe a they weren't quite as bad as that....

And it turned out ok in the end....... ;)
For the price of a colossal or gargantuan, I think this little unit of models should have almost assembled themselves. Instead they had ENORMOUS gaps. No two halves fit properly - not a single pair out of 6. The Molding lines were a real pain and a couple of the parts required a significant amount of filing, grinding and/or filling because one side of the cast or mold line was lower than the other.
Bad as it is, this picture does not show the true extent problems faced by belly halves that required major filing/dremelling to even out or the poor fit and finish of the riders. I can only hope that I had a particularly bad batch and that this is not the usual situation faced by people with these models....
In the end I used apoxie sculpt and resculpted the center section of each model. Hair textures and straps, some armour plates. It was a lot of work to be honest and took all impetus I had to complete this unit and flushed it away. They have sat unfinished for about a year now. I have played them riderless in friendly games to get a feel for them several times, but still they have sat unfinished.

Longrider by Bakaryu
What is more, the last year has seen many changes in the Trollblood line - notably many larger proportioned figures - making these older long riders look a little puny by comparison.... Mind you I really like mixing older and newer sculpts - showing a populace of varied height and size, Also it makes sense that the absolute biggest trollkin would be less likely to be mounted and massively weighing down their rides..... that seems more a job for somewhat slighter kin. So I took another look at these models,and realized that the biggest and least fun part of the job (basic assembly)  was already done.

Whats more, when I saw the cool Bear mounted versions by bakaryu on the pp forums I could feel my interest rising once more. As I got into the swing of things converting my Highwaymen and 2 Fire Eater Units, I knew I was finally ready to revisit the toughalows! The PP insider discussing Longriders as being the most powerful cavalry unit in MK3 sealed the deal. Time to level up the Longriders!

Much more impressive!
So what could I do to make these models better. I initially thought of swapping the upper body of some of the models but was unconvinced that the legs would look right under one of the plastic torsos - so instead I decided to find ways to add a bit of added bulk and some character to the existing riders. The first idea that stuck was to upgrade their shields. The ones that came with the Warders are super cool and much larger than the little target bucklers carried by the riders (and old kriel warriors) - they would certainly add some bulk to the profile! I had an unbuilt box of Warders (since the nerf I was in less of a rush to build another unit anyway!) but felt that I might want to use these awesome shields in multiple places and applications so I broke out my CMON Instant Mold and made a press mold of the shield I liked best. Soon enough I had a full set for the unit and with only a smidge more work added some unique battle damage and amulets/trophies to some of them to differentiate. I used the actual plastic one on the unit leader because you can clearly see the inside of the shield and my press molded shields are really best seen from the front. I also replaced the heads of a couple of the riders with armored helmets from my bits box (from Boomhowlers unit IIRC)

In breaking out my box of warders I was reminded of something else that I had squirreled away for a conversion! You see - my first warder unit had already been filled with characterful tweaks and weapon swaps, and when I had planned to run two - I had also planned a little something for the second group. Whereas the first unit had all gone for hammers and bludgeoning weapons, I had planned the second squad to have all axes....not just any style of axe though - ones that would command a little respect and attention. As such, I happened to have nearly a squads worth of "Lola"'s ready to use! The iconic axe of the Butcher in each of his incarnations is just such a cool and brutal design! It would have served the warders well - but I think it will be even better utilized to replace the small but ridiculously powerful "Cavalry Axe" carried by each long rider! Also with the Warders are some really cool armoured skirt/thigh pieces. Horthol the Longrider character also has these but the regular riders don't..... A couple more press molds and bingo I have matching leg armour to bulk up the riders that little bit more!

Oh yes this is getting much better! Now that the riders are looking a little bulkier, I decided to add a bit more armour and detail to the toughalows. Once again I grabbed my Instant Mold - this time one that I had previously pressed of the Bouncer's shield when I was making the shoulder pad for Frank (my Dire Troll Bomber). This time I only filled the center of the shield with putty to create a smaller but still really cool looking plate. I also grabbed some of the smaller shields I had and played around with fitting them as additional plating for the mounts. A few extra pieces of stowage/kit and they really started to look great!

So a year on, I finally found the inspiration and impetus to build my longriders... But what of their fearless leader Horthol?  To see what I have done with him, and the rest of the (now mostly finished) unit - I reserve the right to a couple more tweaks and surprises!- you will have to check back next week!

CYA Soon!
James K. Craig AKA TKKultist

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