Thursday, February 18, 2010

Warlord ECW Cavalry Finished FINALLY!

I finally got the Warlord plastic cavalry done. I've had several requests for a painting process. Here's what works and has worked for me for about 30+ years. I'll include pics in the article as appropriate. I've got a spare GMB flag that will go on the unit. I'll post it up over the weekend!

Painting Process-Warlord ECW 28mm Cavalry

1. Primer: White Rustoleum Flat-It works and has for the past 25+ years. The primer needs to dry at least 24 hours. Any less means pulling the paint and primer off exposing the gray plastic.

2. Wash the sprues with dish washing solution to get the mold release/oils off of them. Another step I don't have to do with metal figures. If you don't do this, don't be upset when the primer “rubs off” and the gray plastic is exposed.

3.I have a standard painting process I have used for the past 20+ years that works for horses
Windsor and Newton Artisan Water Based Oil Paints:
-Payne's Gray
-Ivory Black
-Burnt Umber
-Raw Umber
-Burnt Sienna

4. I “glop” the paint on the primed horse and let it dry about 5 minutes. Take the square of foam and pull the paint off the figure until you get the desired finish. This is the “art form” so you'll need to practice. I usually will complete 24-100 horses in a sitting. It goes better if you put in a “B-Grade” 1950's Sci-Fi movie. :)

5. Leave the riders on the horse and let them dry 24 hours. If you're in a hurry or running late in getting “that unit” done, this is NOT the technique for you.

6. Paint the horse tack black. I don't paint horse tack colors unless it's an irregular unit or an ancients unit. Black horse tack is a personal choice but looks better to me when the unit is en masse on the table top. It's a personal choice and has worked for me for years especially with Napoleonic cavalry units

7. Block paint the riders. I have found that these colors work best with this system:
-Vallejo Buff-coats
-Vallejo Red-Base color for horse blanket
-Crown Golden Yellow for blanket edges (found at Asel Art Stores or via website)
-Vallejo Game Color Dwarf Skin for base facial color
-Reaper Pure Black-Masters Series-Best Black I've ever used. Better coverage than Vallejo. Has a shaker piece in the bottle. Vallejo does not
-Vallejo Red Leather-Boots, gloves, pistola casesstirrups-vary the usage between figures for variety
-Vallejo Game Color Snake Leather-Boots, pistola cases-vary the usage between figures
for variety
-Vallejo Orange Brown-leather highlighting and a hat or two
-Vallejo Cork Brown-a hat or two
-Vallejo Russian Green-A hat
-Vallejo Brass-sword hilts, bridle tack (I like to distinguish between stirrups and bridle tack)
-Vallejo Gunmetal Grey-Apply over a black under coat-Light drybrush and stipple into armor where appropriate
-Ral Partha Ogre Dark Brown (OOP-I had some made at Sherwyn Williams-a pint)-hair,
mustaches, gloves, boots, horse's hooves. This is one of my favorite colors because when drybrushed with Vallejo Orange Brown, it just works for leather colors without going through multiple hoops with washes.
-Howard Hues' Old Concrete-I use this tone as my drybrush for horse tails, manes, and clothing (if needed)
-Vallejo White-dotting horse's eyes. I paint horse eyes black and touch them with a dot of white. Any other technique looks like the horse has human eyes. That looks stupid.

8. After block painting the figures, I use a LIGHT BRUSHED COAT of Minwax Royal Walnut Polyshade. I don't “dip” the figure. It is too much. A light coat works just fine. When finished, let the figures dry 24 hours. Clean your brush with Turpenoid Odorless Thinner. It works and won't piss your spouse off because of the smell.

9. Spray the figures with Floquil Flat or Testor's Dull-Cote. Let dry 30 minutes or so. Any less and the dull varnish will crap out your paint brush.

Basing the Figures:

1. Cut bases to your rules set basing conventions. I use Mat-Board purchased from Hobby Lobby. I don't use thick balsa, it looks like crap and amateurish. Matboard accentuates the figure rather than draws the eye to the crappy looking thick green painted base.

2. I magnetize my bases before gluing the figures down to the base. I purchase 100' rolls of adhesive backed magnet material from a local supply. It runs about $1.60/running foot but lasts me years. I use metal lined paper boxes. Get roof flashing from Home Depot and cut it to fit with a paper cutter. Paper boxes are a lot cheaper than purchasing custom whatever boxes.

3. Glue the figures down to the cut down bases. Use whatever you like best.

4. Paint the bases with Vallejo Game Color Beasty Brown. Let dry. Leave them on a metal piece to keep them from curling up. They're magnetic right?

5. Once dry, dilute Elmer's Glue to a 50/50 solution, paint it on the base and dip the base into a mixture of Woodland Scenics Medium and Fine Brown Ballast. I bought a large version at Hobbytown, USA.

6. Let dry 24 hours (longer if you live in a highly humid area) and then drybrush the ballast with Vallejo Iraqui Sand. Don't drybrush too wet..nor too's something you need to practice.

7. Mix another 50/50 Elmer's Glue and water and paint in diagonal stripes and spots on the base. I like to make sure that the bases actually work with one another so I tend to keep the grass simple. While the glue is wet, sprinkle Green Static Grass on the glued areas. Gently blow on the grass areas to “set” the static grass. Get your mind out of the gutter ok? Set down to dry 24 hours.

8. Repaint any of the edges of the bases with Vallejo Game Color Beasty Brown to clean up the bases for final play.

9. You're ready to go! Enjoy your cavalry and may all your rolls NOT be “run of the mill”.

Comparison of Warlord to Old Glory, Dixon, Renegade Cavalry

Originally, I was not very impressed with the Warlord cavalry compared to figures already in my collection. I had already painted 120+ cavalry and wanted to give this company a fair shake. Here's what I think once I had finished the cavalry and got it ready for the game table.

Overall Quality: A-/B+

I am ok with these figures from a quality standpoint. They go together well and don't have a lot of fiddly pieces to break off and need regluing during painting. I use TENAX liquid instead of a “superglue” or “traditional tube glue”. TENAX welds the seams together so they're not as noticable.

Horses: A-
The horses are ok. Not as animated as Old Glory or Renegade but ok in a more traditional toy soldier view. I am used to being able to bend horse heads to provide a bit of variety in a unit. I didn't spend the money for these figures to cut them up nor do I have the patience to use filler like a car body shop if I did. The horses were rather bland in comparison to Old Glory with two animation styles. Again, I do understand they ARE plastic.
The pistol cases are separate from the horse model. This is a pain in the posterior and a time waster in construction of the unit. They also pop off while painting and are a source of irritation for we older, less patient painters. This is a little thing but given the price of the box set, should be a non-issue.

Riders: B+
The riders are all in buff coats and have breast and back plates with some having tassets. I'm ok with some figures having plate but all of them? I'm just a geek so I painted some of the figures in coat only for variety. I also painted different color sleeves instead of a full buff coat on all the figures. I know that's probably a-historic but I got bored quickly with the idea of all buff on all figures.
The riders all have flat heads with a small bit of hair on the neck. The flat heads get covered with either a couple of floppy hats or a pot-helm. There are way too many lobster pot helmets for this unit. I prefer a greater variety and tend to mix and match from multiple bags of Old Glory figures. Can't do that with this box set. Also, if you pick up the figure to look at it, you can see the gap between the hair and the helmet. Another sticking point that should have been fixed pre-release. Lastly, the cornet has a flag pole that just looks out of scale. I like HOW it looks but it's way too tall for the figure and horse. Makes the cornet look dinky in comparison. To each their own right?

I will stick with Old Glory and other metal figures as I am a old fashioned wargamer. These figures are good for folks that are getting started in historicals or want to supplement a collection with a less (?) expensive option. (I'm no math guy but I don't think these figures are less expensive than what I have purchased on Ebay). Would I buy more plastic ECW figures? I don't think so at this point. I would if Warlord put more “bitz” on the sprues ala GW to give more variety to heads, hats, pistol arms, sword arms and/or dare I say it...a warhammer arm. That would raise the price however. I have another beef with Warlord. Please ditch the bases and improve the flags. I don't need the bases as I cut my own for my specific rules set and the flags are poor relations to the GMB flags I use for all my collection. I would pay more if Warlord would include some quality flags. This cheapens the overall feel for the box set in my opinion.


  1. Don't you think GW paints are best?

  2. No, I don't use GW paints currently. I've got some old bottles but I think they're dried up. I really like the Crown paints I found at Asel Art in Arlington, Texas or Vallejo paint. You've told me about the GW foundation paints before but I've held off because my Vallejo collection has lasted for years and doesn't seem to be running dry soon. :) What are your thoughts on GW paint?

  3. Hi Steve - very informative post. Good review and comparison with other figure makes as I was wondering about the Warlord ECW cav. Plastics should be cheaper/more affordable, but not if you sacrifice quality. Perry's have shown you don't have to do this at all. I see what you mean about the Warlord horses - they are a bit ordinary. I like your painting technique for them - it gets a good result. I don't know many other painters that use Windsor & Newton tubes of acrylics (other than myself that is!)- but you get great results. I also appreciate the tips about the turps cleanup - its something that drives me (because of the hassle) and my wife (because of the stench) both nuts!

    In regard to paint - I like the range and tonal qualities of GW but they are expensive considering you only get a 12ml pot. Vallejo are a great paint set from both range and quantity but I have recently discovered Coat d'Arms. At least as good quality-wise and you get them in 18ml pots, so better value than GW which I also find being smaller, they dry out more often.


  4. Steve,

    Thank you for your review of the figures. It will still be quite some time before I start my ECW project (lots of research to do first . . . and a lot of other projects in line ahead of it).

    But thanks to your comments I think that I will stick with Old Glory figures (using the Army Deal) rather than fiddle with plastic bits.

    I appreciate your candor.

    -- Jeff

  5. I may have missed something here but what size bases are they?


  6. 80mm wide by 60mm deep. Infantry is an ordinary 60mmX60mm

  7. I found a couple of your comments a bit odd as I am working on these figures at the moment. Not all of them have back and breast - only 1 in 2. Its really obvious which do and which don't. Also none of them have tassets... did you mean gauntlets?

    Nice work on the miniatures. Will have to try your horse technique some time - I have the paints you use or that but my horses are already primed black.

  8. Do you have the same box set? My figs are on display at the moment. I'll get them back from the LGS and take pics where tassets are on the figures. Perhaps you didn't see them or the manufacturer puts variants in boxes? Nope..didn't mean gauntlets.
    Yes, using the horse painting thang won't work with black primed horses. I don't prime anything black. Too much work trying to build up multilayers of highlights when one can do it right the first time priming white. Thanks for the post!

  9. Sorry Steve, you're right. I'd been working through the figures pose by pose and the last one that I hadn't got to yet does indeed have tassets.

    The way I see it, the two figures on each sprue with moustaches have back and breast (one also having tassets) and the two with no facial hair don't. Although I think you could get away with painting those with back and breast if you wanted.

    I am busily sculpting shirt collars onto them until I get bored of it - that's the one ommission on these figures that bothers me. It just doesn't look ECW to me without a big white triangular shirt collar sticking out. I'll send you some pictures when I'm done.

  10. Steve, I need to get a hold of Sandy. Can you send him my way 832-527-4849.