Friday, 20 March 2015

The Closing Entry of the Fifth Annual Painting Challenge - The Father and The Boy from Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road'

As per tradition I make sure to open and close each year’s Challenge. This year I decided to hold back my second ‘Antihero’ and post it as the rearguard. 

It’s a vignette based on one of my favourite books, Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’. 

In McCarthy’s book an unnamed father and his young son journey across a grim post-apocalyptic landscape, several years after an unexplained apocalypse has destroyed civilization and most life on Earth.  While the story is framed in this horrific setting it is, at its core, a tender love story between a father and his son.

Much of the book is written in an abbreviated third person style, with references to "the father" and "the son" or to "the man" and "the boy."

Realizing that they cannot survive the oncoming winter, the father takes his boy south, along desolate roads, towards the sea, carrying their meager possessions in their knapsacks. 

They have a pistol, but only two bullets. In a chilling passage in the book, the boy is reminded that he is to use the gun on himself, if necessary, to avoid falling into the hands of other survivors, as most have turned to cannibalism. 

The father struggles to protect his son from the constant threats of attack, exposure, and starvation. In the face of these obstacles, the man repeatedly reassures the boy that they are "the good guys" who are "carrying the fire". On their journey, the pair scrounge for food, evade roving bands, and contend with many horrors.  An old man they discover on the road acts as seer for them and says that the boy has a glow about him – inferring that he is blessed. As the story moves forward the father feels he has to do things that are insensitive if not inhumane in order to keep his son safe.  This progresses to the point where the reader is left with the impression that The Father is perhaps is no longer ‘carrying the fire’ but one can only sympathize with his situation as we ask ourselves, ‘How far would we go to keep the ones we love safe?’ 

The book is very powerful and I believe it ends the way it should (I won’t say more as I don’t want to spoil it for those who’ve not read it). If you haven’t read it I heartily recommend you do so.

The figures of The Father and The Boy are from Lead Adventure and are modeled closely to the actors in the movie. I did them in greyscale with only The Boy’s face being in colour, ‘carrying the fire’. I created to the base to depict one of the many roads they traveled on. The centerline is broken to foreshadow what happens in their journey.

Well folks, it’s a wrap. It’s been a tremendous amount of fun.  Every time I think that this one’s going to be my last Challenge I read a note from a participant who’s had a particularly good time and it refreshes my batteries, making me raring to give it another go.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be awarding a bunch of prizes and posting polls for Challengers Choice and People’s Choice. There will also be selections for Judge’s Choice and Sarah’s Choice.  I just love giving out treats!

In closing, I want to thank all the participants for both their incredible enthusiasm and support for the event. It's folks like you that make the Challenge the good-natured fun that it is. We are not the Golden Daemon, nor are we the Crystal Brush. No, we are The Challenge and it stands quite unique and proud on its own. I doff my hat to you all.

With Warm Regards,


From DaveD - Sudan - Ambulances, Baggage and Cavalry (150 Points)

Yup - still at the Sudan stuff. No point nuke - just a gentle nudge across the finish line.  Here we have 2 Ambulance Camels, baggage camels, (Castaway Arts) 3 mules, two handlers, a  walking camel , and laid down one (Connoisseur Miniatures - preparation for the Camel Corps)

My last unit for the challenge last year was a unit of 12 Baggara cavalry -  it seems appropriate to finish off by topping it up with some more - in this case another 8 figures (Perry Miniatures) - and I decided to rebase them (the pereniall wargamers bugbear) all mixed in altogether onto larger bases.

It has been a wonderfully focused, productive winter season. I really enjoyed the side challenges with Millsy -  though lets not hear any more from MC Hammer Mr Mills - I had to resort to 

 Millsy - here is a present  - Enjoy

 I ended up with far more painting time than I initially thought this year due to a lot less day job travel interference, which was a real bonus. The armies for the Sudan are certainly more then large enough for gaming with now. I will be putting on a large game at the Wargames Holiday Centre at the end of October - bringing the Sudan back to life there has been a long term aim. This is year 4 in the challenge that figures for it have made an appearance - I think I can say there wont be any Sudan figures in next years challenge (hmm Zulu's there's a thought..wait ... wait... stop that thought...)

So here is the Mahdist army painted over the last 4 challenges - ready for trouble.

The Imperial forces stand at 3 infantry brigades and cavalry brigade - altogether i reckon i have about 300 figures left to finish the whole project off over the summer.I shall get a picture of them all on my own blog when the project table (see below) has been cleared !

As for what next ? Given the lead mountain had been reduced to a mere mole hill it has now been seriously topped up , and the wallet has taken a serous bashing - a few supplier have been made considerably richer. Next up is Nile steamers, and the Camel Corps- all freshly delivered.

Thanks must go to Curt (and of course Sarah!)  for organising and herding the various cats to allow all this to happen - you're mad - in a wonderful way.

To my fellow Challengers it's been a feast of eye candy - with a host of workman like, creative, off the wall unusual entries . Flying carpet wars, clockwork monkeys, LotR, wonderful pulp entries. So many to choose from.

Thanks also to our sponsors for encouraging and rewarding our little corner of the blog-o-sphere.

For those of you attending Salute this year I shall be at the meet up - arrangements are all sorted

So for another Challenge year - its goodby from me! At this point we traditionally hand over to Ray Roussell to carry out a sandbag manouvere... so duck you lot.

From Curt:

A majestic final entry Dave, make no mistake.  You can take a final lap (on your favourite camel) with the gold laurels of victory firmly on your head. 4138 astounding points.  I sweep my hat in the dust. Bravo to you, my friend!

Thanks for your kind words Dave, but I have to say its you and all the others in the Challenge that make this such a wonderful event to host.  

Congratulations again Mr. D!!

From Millsy - A Giant Hand Job plus extras (115 points)

I was tempted to title my last post for 2014-15 "Happy Ending" but it seemed a little crass so I went with "A Giant Hand Job" instead and which is much more tasteful I think you'll agree... :-)

The point of the title is the war engine in part one of this submission - a catapult and crew for my Savage Orc army, which you've all seen quite a lot of over the last few months. I bought the catapult some time ago and it was in a terrible state (I seem to do that a lot!). A previous owner had hacked it about significantly with a sharp knife and also lost the hand which forms the basket for the ammo.

Several hours of repair work with green stuff and a load of extra skulls and bits made a massive improvement but still left me short that crucial missing bit. The world's largest online flea market solved that problem, supplying a hand from the current Warhammer Fantasy giant kit. It arrived just 24 hours ago, allowing me to finish the model just in time thankfully.

Whilst not a properly "savage" unit I have kept the theme going by adding feathers and skulls galore, plus replacing the run-of-the-mill orc bully with a Savage Orc, nattily decked out in a lizard skin that matches the highlight colour of his precious war machine.

Part two is a belated Halfling Hotpot which was intended to be my comedic bonus round entry but which was held up by real life. I love this unit, both for the miniatures themselves and the sheer loopiness of it. Anything that can shoot diced carrots gets a vote in my book.

Powered by two muscular halflings under the direction of a cleaver wielding nutter and incorporating the Old World's only gigantic elastic band it is sure to wreak havoc in the enemy lines, or at the very least amuse my opponents by misfiring and killing my own troops.

Last up (and continuing an unintentional artillery theme?!?) is a unit of lascannons for my 40K Catachan force. Going strictly by the fluff the 'Chans aren't supposed to favour the lascannon, preferring slug throwing support and flamers. So why produce models? I don't care to be honest and these might be just about the only thing that stops my army of grunts greasing the hover pads on a nasty Eldar skimmer or three.

Not much to say about these really other than they are a joy to paint like every other Perry GW miniature I've ever gotten my mits on. I might base them eventually but I want to see everything in the army together and see if storage will accommodate that.

This lot is worth... Catachans = 60 points, Hotpot = 25 points and Crew/Catapult = 20 points plus whatever Curt deems the engine itself to be worth. Technically it's a crew served weapon so maybe 10 points?

So that's me done for another year! For the record I've painted a total of 676 infantry and cavalry, a good number of crew served weapons and close to a dozen vehicles. Not a a bad return and certainly my best year yet. All that remains is to do a few thank-yous...

Firstly, to all who have shared their work and wonderful enthusiasm with us a big thank you. Your own efforts bring me great pleasure and your comments and interest in mine an equal share of the same.

Secondly, to Dave and Miles for such an entertaining run of side challenges. I don't know if Miles has anything left in the locker so I might regain third spot. Or maybe not. Frankly I don't mind either way! You have both been terrific competitors and pushed me along at a pace that amazed quite a few people, myself included. That I couldn't keep it up right to the end due to external pressures is just one of those things.

And finally to Curt (and by proxy Sarah) who put up with all of us year on year. I truly don't know where you find the time and energy. I do know that without your selflessness, enthusiasm, wit and willingness to sacrifice yourselves this wouldn't happen. THANK YOU.

PS. Apologies Dave, I ran out of camel paint. Yes that IS a thing. I will paint my prize, I promise!

Happy painting people. Stay safe and see you next year...


From Curt:

An awesome final entry Millsy! I'm delighted that the stone thrower parts came in on time as it would be a shame for them to miss the rear-guard action (and their points were critical as you can plainly see).

The Catachan lascannons are cool 'n all but it's the Halfling Hot Pot that gets my big thumbs up. My first Warhammer army was Dogs of War so I've always held a soft spot for their units (for which the Hot Pot was one).   

676 miniatures and close to a dozen vehicles? Wow. Just wow. Millsy, you are a force of nature my friend. Enjoy the new additions to your collection but more importantly, start amassing more stuff for next year!


From RayR - Badger Special........ Paintbomb & Sandbag Alert (2400pts)

Nah not really!!!!! I just added on a few zero's for fun, but I had you going..............

So its only a mere 24 points for my last entry into this years Challenge.

Well done to Curt, don't know how you manage to do all this and find time to paint as well as eat? And a big fat well done to all my fellow contestants! Its been a blast!

So for my last entry, may I present 6 French Brigade leaders for my NYW French army. Three are Essex Miniatures and three are Donnington riders on Essex horses. They are based on for Beneath the Lily Banners rules.

Francois Louis, Prince of Conti

Louis-Charles d'Hautefort

duc de Roqualaure

Mareschal de Camp Montmorancy

Jean-Armand de Joyeuse, Marquis of Grondpre

Lt-Gen Feuquires

From Curt:

Haha! That was awesome Ray! You certainly had a few of us going, make no mistake - cheeky bugger.

These floppy-hatted fellows are lovely Ray. I particularly like the last fellow pointing to the distance - he looks like he should be in a painting by Diego Velazquez.

It's been great to have you with us again Mr. Rousell. I know your work situation does not allow you to be the Points Titan that you were a few years ago, but even with your more modest volume you still provide wonderful inspiration to us all (and a lot of laughs). 

See you next time then? :)

From IannickM : Maryanna of the King (120 pts)

WOW, that was close! I did not think I would make it in time but I did! My last submission, submitted a half hour before the end, is a unit of Canaanite Royal Guards, "the Maryanna of the King". Excuse the less than perfect pictures, it's a bit late!

Each Canaanite city-state had its cast of maryannu, professionnal warrior whose wealth derived from his holding of a fief. Among the general warrior caste of maryanna was an inner elite of "picked men" (na'arun). These elite units comprised infantry as well as chariotry. From these picked men, a small battle guard called the Maryanna of the King served as Royal Guards.
We know very little about the appearance of these soldiers, so I had the choice to use pretty much any colours I wanted. My royal guard chariotry is dressed in  purple so I had to include the colour, and then I used turquoise for the shield and on the command group to differentiate them from my other elite soldiers. It looks like the kind of expensive colours a truly elite unit of the time would wear. While it is probably doubtful they had a common uniform, kings from the Pharaoh to Murat always enjoyed dressing up their elite soldiers so I figure why not? I will gladly accept pictures to prove me wrong ;-)

I find the bronze of the armour, helmets and weapons gives them a shiny look which works wonder as an elite and spoiled bunch. I normally am not a fan of single pose infantry, but it works well for troops which would be highly disciplined and it will make them stand out in my Canaanite army.

With this unit, I am but a few chariots away from finishing my Canaanite army, and actually respecting to the letter the plan I drew up around 2 years ago. That, is not something I manage often!

And, for the first time in the Analogue Challenge, I reached my goal and, even surpassed it! Yeah me!

From Curt:

Ah, its terrific to see you get another unit done for this army. (Hey, and there is that wonderful turquoise again!)  Such beautiful brushwork Iannick - I'm always amazed.  The next time we're in Montreal we're going to have to get in a game with these rockstars.

Again, great job! 

PhilH: Falling at each hurdle, including the last

I was cooking up a good one to sneak in before the close. Alas, I am ever the optimist on how long a project will take, not helped that I'd chosen some highlanders, the bane of speedy painting with all of that tartan and fiddly bits. It's almost like being back doing Napoleonics again.

They are coming along nicely but are not quite finished: I've three colours to complete still plus the tufting. The other half unit was has been block coloured before i cut the batch down.

You will no doubt seen the finished article in all their glory on my blog in a week or so.

With that, the only thing to say is a massive 'thank you' to Mr Curt Campbell, our esteemed Challenge Ringmaster. What a thing you have built over five years to bring such pleasure to so many - participants and followers alike. It is so kind of you to put all of this effort in every year, and walkways managing to bring kind words and encouragement in the midst of 'the grind' and fantastic works of your own. Thank you once again - the challenge has become one of my annual hobby highlights.

From Curt (again):

Thank you Phil for your very kind words. You may not have come on top with your duels but your work is absolutely peerless.  It is always a pleasure to have a PhilH entry on the blog - I hope we see you again next time the madness starts.

Warm Regards Mr. H.