"I was too late! Hope receded like the dwindling rays of the sun. So be it! Had I not sacrificed all that I had held dear to fight the devil Dracula? I yearned with all my soul for a reckoning but within a locked chamber in my heart was resigned to an ending at any price."
-Last testament of Johannes Van Beek. Among personal effects on horse found wandering the road near Charn village, Moldavian hinterlands, 1831
I've been looking into Dracula's America for a few weeks now having recently gained a rule set by mail order and before that a selection of fine models (I always enjoy that part better). While I am excited to combine my limited but growing collection of Old West effects with the newly arrived Gothic elements I admit that the classic Hammer horror stories are of greater interest. While I intend to cobble away at both settings the bulk of models I painted so far while of utility in either the Old or New worlds are distinctly of a more classical horror flavor.
The majority of models belong to Bad Squidoo Games, "My Last Sunrise" range and they are awesome. The quality of the casts is excellent with minimal flash and crisp detail. The figures are heroic 28mm in scale though they are imposing. I'm not sure I would describe them as 30mm+ but they have commanding stature and presence among my other 28mm models. Considering the subjects I appreciate their formidable heft, especially Dracula himself.
The brides are a three figure set that capture the essence of any doomed Hammer damsel who surrendered to the unholy power of Dracula. The are each uniquely posed seemingly capturing an iconic moment from one of the Hammer films. I call them Hissy, Regal, and the Temptress. I almost ruin the mood of the figures with my silly names but I assure you they will get better ones down the line. Those are just "painting names" and subject to change. They aren't so bad really most fanged things I paint end up with the placeholder surname Bitey. They are dressed in period nightwear typical of the Counts victims and each have a distinct coiffure. I painted them as though they were wearing Romanesque togas. While they are supposed to be fledgling vampires I saw them as the daughters of a host of sinister trinities of women in myth. Following in the footsteps of Fates, Gorgons, Covens of old these ladies are not to be trifled with.
I have yet to paint all of my triad of Vampire Hunters from the next, "Last Sunrise" set but I painted the one styled as Peter Cushing's Van Helsing promptly. He is a fine looking figure with all the accoutrements of his trade from his stake and hammer, to the satchel at his back. I think it's a fine likeness that epitomizes the idea of the classical vampire hunter. As a Hammer fan I can't say enough good things about the models. The pose is one of determination with feet spread stepping toward the foe with conviction. Awesome! I tried to paint him as closely as I could to Cushing as he appeared in, "The Horror of Dracula". In hindsight the only thing I would have done differently would be to add a fur texture to the lapels of his coat with greenstuff prior to painting. I didn't consider this until after I started and tried to simulate the texture with brushwork instead.
The Central figure of the range is Dracula himself. He is a beast. The stature of the figure would compare to Christopher Lee but where his Dracula was gaunt this Lord of Darkness is a powerhouse railing against the confines of his fine suit. His face is twisted in a bestial snarl exposing a mouth full of terrifying fangs. As a larger than life character the sculpt amplifies the animal power that Lee projected right to the wild mane of hair, rather than his more clean cut portrayal on screen. I might like to have seen Tepes styled facial hair on this figure but I think it would have diminished the effect of the savage teeth. Gary Morley played to his strengths and knocked this one out of the park. It is a big, brutal interpretation of Dracula that screams unholy power. Paul Cubbins painted their studio model and did an awesome job. On seeing his version I decided to avoid the embarrassment of emulating his mostly black paint scheme and added some more areas of colour to the red in the cowl and the red violet of the vest to create some harmony and variation. I painted his pallid skin out of a blue and opted for full on red eyes rather than the bloodshot glaze effect he managed.
The remaining models are from two different manufacturers. The first is a Games Workshop Goblin King from the Hobbit range. I have always liked the figure but didn't want to dump the rest of the set into my pile of shame in order to get one. I found a used single of the King on Ebay and ordered him up. The model was in rough shape and stripping it so it was fit for a repaint could have made an article on it's own but I would rather not revisit that dark period in my hobby life and will leave well enough alone. He was cleaned, then repainted, and I ended with a model I'd always wanted. Happy ending. I painted him with the same pallid skin tones I had used for the brides. I was more liberal with washes because he doesn't have the fine complexion of the brides (always a bridesmaid grumble grumble). I intend the model as both an wild elder vampire or as a ghoul king in Frostgrave or AoS.
The last figure in this article is a Heresy Miniatures vampire. This along with the wonderful ghouls are again figures I have wanted from first sight. I painted him before Dracula arrived and how I approached them with paint mirrored the disparity in stature of the two figures. He is a wonderful nosferatu styled figure. While in a commanding pose his thin shoulders and awkward frame make him a pale shadow of his master. While Dracula is in full on beast mode this fellow seems to be gauging the opposition and contemplating some cunning scheme to get a meal. I used a full on red for his eyes as I saw him as longer in the tooth (har har har.) than the brides but otherwise left the accents on cloak in the faded violet red rather than the bold reds in Dracula's wardrobe because Dracula is a primadonna and would tear his eyes out.