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3 - The New Order Arrives

6mm Sumerian Army Pack
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
£9.00 GBP


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adster writes:

Peter, you certainly do sculpt miniature masterpieces and you do need your head examining (in a good way!) At three feet distance that most of us game (and with the philistines most of us game with) it makes not a jot of difference how beautiful 6mm fugures are. At least you (and Irregular) sculpt the figures integral to the base. It beggars belief that anyone (me included) has ever spent time basing up single 6mm figures.

Revision Log
4 October 2005page first published

4,334 hits since 4 Oct 2005
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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The new figures have arrived. However, I outsmarted myself...

In my urge to save a few pennies, I had decided to order another 6mm Sumerian Army Pack in order to save on some of the strips I needed. However, when the order arrives, I discover that this army pack doesn't have the same blend of figures in it!

Last Time

  • 13 chariots
  • 12 front-rank spearmen strips
  • 12 rear-rank spearmen strips
  • 4 javelinmen (?) strips
  • 4 bowmen strips of two types
  • 2 slinger strips
  • 2 Guti/Martu strips

Which comes out as 62 strips (if you count chariots as double). Now I had thought I had read on Irregular's website that the army mix was determined by the molds and wasn't negotiable - so I had assumed that the mix was the same every time. However, this time the pack (which is listed in the current online catalog as 50 strips, with chariots counting double) contained:

This Time

  • 8 chariots
  • 10 front-rank spearmen strips
  • 10 rear-rank spearmen strips
  • 2 javelinmen (?) strips
  • 4 slinger strips (of different type than before)

Quite a bit less than last time, and only 42 strip-equivalents by my count.

So I wrote back to Irregular about my order. Ian Kay replied that he'd counted these chariots as three strips each due to their price, but that he was willing to send me a few more strips. I asked for some more spearmen... and haven't heard back, but I'm hoping for a surprise in my mailbox soon.

(Since this article was originally printed, Ian has explained that "...the armies have been restructured since you purchased the first one. We had a complete rethink on the armies when our prices increased. Metal prices had gone up by a huge percent.")

Meanwhile, I've got figures to paint - but not enough to completely finish my army.

Rethinking the Painting Technique

Meanwhile, before the order had arrived, I had done another experiment. Seeing that the figures were turning out a little dark - although I really liked the look of the dark ink shadows - I decided to go back to my original idea of a white primer coat (to lighten the eventual highlights), and to try a more dilute black ink wash (1 part ink to 4 parts water, rather than 1:1 as I had been using).

So I painted two strips of slingers - one with the old technique (to the right, below), and one with the new white-primed technique (to the left):

Slingers - white primed (left) and black primed (white)
Reminder: These are 6mm scale figures. The pictures you are seeing show the figures magnified by 500% or more...

Hmmmm... I liked the new technique...

Painting the Horde

So I decided to paint the spearmen with the new technique (and hope I could blend in the already painted figures in somwhere...).

I also remembered, from my basing experiments, to create some "short" strips (one for each row) by clipping off one figure per strip. This would allow three strips to fit per row on the 25mm scale bases, without sticking over the edges. Experience quickly taught me to cut off the right-hand figure, as the left-hand figure had an unfortunate tendancy to take his neighbor's spear with him...

And speaking of spears, this batch of strips had more problems than the last set. I suspect there is something in the nature of the casting or the mold that makes the two leftmost spears more delicate - they are prone to miscasting, or to being cast but with a weakness at the base that makes them break off easily. About 10% of my spearmen have missing or distinctly truncated spears.

Spearmen missing a spear (left) or with miscast spears (right)

This would ordinarily bother me... but a quick test with my already-painted strips tells me that I can't "see" the missing spears when I have the strips grouped together. Or as the saying goes, I can't see the missing trees for the forest.

Onward with the painting:

Strips mounted on popsicle sticks

I mounted the figures with superglue on to wooden craft sticks, which I buy in packs of 200 at the local dollar store.

Primed white

I primed them with Krylon spray Flat White.

Next, I painted on the primary colors - no shadowing, no highlighting, just the colors - in this order:

  1. flesh for heads, arms, chests, legs (Apple Barrel Flesh)
  2. white for the kilt (rear rank only) and shields (front rank only) (Aleene's White)
  3. brown for the cloak (Delta Ceramcoat Golden Brown)
  4. tan for the spears (Delta Ceramcoat Maple Sugar Tan)
  5. bronze for the helmets and spear tips (Folkart Solid Bronze)
  6. gold for the shield bosses (front rank only) (dotting them with a "dark gold" paint pen)

The paint order is important, because it means that I can be sloppier with the earlier colors knowing that the later colors will cover it up.

Primary colors, not touched-up yet

At this point, the figures look almost alarmingly bright and cheerful. (I'm starting to get worried.)

The advantage of white-priming is that most colors go on in one coat (unlike the black priming, where it took 3 coats to get the spears to not look blotchy). The downside of white priming is the need for a longer "touch up" phase, to make sure that every raised part of the figure is covered with the right color (which is usually not white).

Then I apply the diluted ink wash (using Reaper Pro Paint Black Ink Wash at 1 part ink to 4 parts water).

Ink-washed strips

And here's how the new strips compare to the old ones:

New strips (left) and old strips (right) - front view
New strips (left) and old strips (right) - back view

The new technique seems to be working for me. Looks like I need to do some touch-up on the spears, but less work than I did with the black-prime technique.

Now to finish painting what I have, and hopefully wait for another envelope from Irregular...