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mxconnell's German Leader

German Leader
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
$8 USD


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Black Crab writes:

good work mxconnell, nice recovery:)

i esp liked the shield and ferns.

Aaron Brown
Alpha Miniatures

Revision Log
27 September 2005page first published

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©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
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mxconnell writes:

Let me start by thanking Alpha for sponsoring the contest, Bill for coming up with it, and everyone who voted for me. This first figure posed a lot of challenges for me, and I had a great time!

Your contestant  blind and clueless!

Bill asked us to mention a little about ourselves. I'm Martin Connell. I've been gaming since high school (30+ years ago), when I discovered a close friend played ACW games using home rules and unpainted Airfix figures stuck to 3x5 index card movement trays. I tried a few games and became hooked!

Around the same time, another friend built 1/35th scale tank dioramas. I tried my hand at dioramas, and quickly found I enjoyed painting figures more than tanks (though I have a soft spot for the Matilda to this day a boy never forgets his first tank). A local hobby shop pointed me toward a small figure-painting club where I was introduced to military miniatures.

Both hobbies have stuck with me, with occasional breaks, for over thirty years. In the last year, I've made a concerted effort to improve my wargame figure-painting skills using acrylics. I've lurked on Cool Mini or Not (CMoN), Electric Ocean, Brushthralls, and a number of military-figure-related and art-related websites. I'm fair with military miniatures painted in oils, and with 28mm and under in acrylics (I've medaled in competitions for both), but I have yet to combine the two hobbies and paint a 54mm figure with acrylics in a way that satisfies me.

My personal goals for the contest

When I entered this contest, there were three goals I set for myself:

  1. Be as historically accurate I can
  2. Make the figures for actually playing wargames no presentation bases, no teetering on top of slate cliffs, etc. It's a personal hangup, YMMV!
  3. Push myself, try stuff I've never done before

So where to begin?

For the first figure, I chose the German tribal leader. I felt the figure had a lot of character, did a nice job representing mail, and had a good face to paint.

One of my painting mentors always recommends having a plan before you even start a figure. He tells me that once you have a plan, the figure is half painted. (Actually, he recommends meditating naked, with incense burning, before the figure - but I think I'll opt for just having a plan.)

I started by pulling references for the period, to try and pin down roughly when the figure was supposed to exist. He wears mail and is holding what looks like a throwing axe. Both of these become more common in the 2nd century AD. If it was much later, our German would probably be carrying a sword. He has a woven shield, which I have seen represented in depictions of the Teutoberg Forest disaster (9AD), but not often after that. Looking at the Alpha Romans, the intended adversaries, they are mostly wearing lorica segmentata. This style armor was introduced around 25 AD. The closest I could match the Roman helmets was mid-to-late 1st century AD.

So, we a have a fairly well-off German tribe leader from probably the late 1st or early 2nd century AD. My reference books (admittedly thin for this period) indicate that most cloaks were either brown or black and very utilitarian (mild tartan patterns do not appear until the 3rd or 4th century). Other clothing was available in a wide variety of colors, which were mostly prone to rapid fading. I also think a woven shield is unlikely for a tribal leader that has the wealth or power to own mail.

The Plan

Brown cloak, dark blue/black trousers, a light tunic with opportunities for simple embroidery. Replace the shield with a shape from Osprey 129 Rome's Enemies: Germanics and Dacians (none of the other shields supplied seemed suitable). The figure has indents for the pupils - I will fill these in, as I like a smooth eyeball to paint on. I considered changing his ponytail to the common suebian knot, but decided I wasn't up for that kind of sculpting. As you will see later, that was a lucky choice!