The Endless Quest for Epic Duels Figures: The New Era

Where we left off, I needed new figures for characters from the new films and TV series such as The Mandalorian, Tobias Beckett and Enfys Nest.  As covered 2 posts ago, I took a shot with Skullforge and Shapeways, and got these figures in the mail, here next to Obi-Wan for scale.

These are great sculpts and I went with the “smooth fine detail” rather than “smoothest fine detail” but I wish I would have paid the extra $1.  Note that they came without bases so I mounted them to bases for Star Wars Miniatures, using a smaller size figure base for Baby Yoda.

Ok so now I have to paint them.  If you’re considering these figures but haven’t painted before, there is no better time to get into it than during COVID-19, at least for someone living in a lock down like I do in Chicago.  If you want to keep up with Star Wars figures, it’s basically a requirement at this point.  Painting is easy, fun, inexpensive, and there are Facebook groups for it and that sort of thing if you really get into it.  There are a few fairly simple techniques and by learning and applying those, you can do a great paint job and look like you know what you’re doing.  Of course, only with time and practice can you master those techniques but you don’t need to master them to do a good job.

I don’t have a ton of experience but I did paint my entire LOTRED set of figures.  Yeah that’s a beat up, custom made LOTR box.  I’m not going to list them all out for you, but I have figures for all of the original 12 + 6 armies decks, plus a Bilbo, Thorin, their Dwarf Minors, Great Goblin with his Goblin minors, and Smaug (the one figure I didn’t paint, I picked up that fig from Gen Con) from The Hobbit trilogy.

How to Paint

We use acrylic paints for all.  It peels off skin and clothes and anything else if you need it to.  You can find basic color acrylic paints inexpensively at any hobby store.  I would invest in at least some miniature-specific paint, but it will cost more.  For example, Games Workshop has great acrylic paint that’s available from most hobby and game stores, but it’s expensive and I don’t really like the plastic pot containers they hold the paint in.  We will get a few select things from them but for the majority of paint, I would go elsewhere.

Here are some recommendations to get started:

  • A starter kit of paint.  I’m using the Reaper Starter kit.  I would just buy from Amazon.  Vallejo is another good brand.
  • Some kind of primer.  I use Games Workshop Chaos Black spray primer and I really like it.  Our blogger Dystopia Matt is a more advanced painter, and uses airbrush.  Airbrush is better, but spray paint will typically lay on pretty evenly.  If you want to save a bit of cash, you can just brush on plain black paint as your primer but you might want to buy an extra pot or tube of it, which you can get for cheap at any hobby store (if you do that, buy some white while you’re at it, you can never have enough black and white to darken or lighten things).
  • From Games Workshop (most hobby/game stores carry):
    • Agrax Earthshade:  A brown wash.  Wash is essential to this process and this one is perfect.
    • Nuln Oil:  Black wash.  You need them both.
    • Elf Flesh:  Just a basic human (or elf) flesh color.  I don’t like the flesh color (“Tanned Skin”) that comes with the Reaper Kit so I’ve been mixing my own, which is a pain to get right.  If you’re really skilled with the brush, you’ll use bits of the Reaper Tanned Skin on top of the paler GW Elf Flesh.
  • A few brushes.  You need at least 3 – a thick one, a sort of a standard one, and a fine one for detail.  You can find them in 3-packs like I just described.  Use the thick brush to mix colors and for your base coats.  Use the standard for just about everything else, sometimes including the base coat.  Use the fine one at the end, just to touch up a few details, add eyes, that sort of thing.  Since you will use the middle brush a lot, you might consider a 4th that is somewhere between it and your fine detail brush.
  • Some sort of pallet.  The Masterson Sta-Wet pallet is the way to go, IMO but you can find super cheap standard “dry” ones at any art store or in the art sections of stores.
  • I also keep a cup for paint water, a paper towel, some scrap paper or newspaper, and a toothpick for fine detail handy.

As I already have these things, I’m ready to paint.

Step 1:  Prime them.  First I set up my figures:

Then I primed them with black spray primer from Games Workshop:

You have to take care to spray your figure from multiple angles without putting it on too thick.  Let it completely dry – like overnight – before you take any further steps.

Step 2:  Apply a base coat.  Pick the base color.  Mando will be wearing brown under his armor, ditto Enfys Nest.  Beckett wears grey underneath so that will be his base coat.  For Baby Yoda, I’ll use the cream color of his robes, and will get to that in a bit, so he’s not here.  Moff Gideon is nearly all black so he’ll be an easy paint job.  I don’t even really need a base coat for him but since I already have the brown out for Mando and Enfys Next, I went ahead and started on his head.  Keep your base coat nice and thin.  Add llayers as you need to.  Let your base coat dry before you apply any more paint.

Step 3:  Then, simply put, you paint the figures as best you can.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  If you’ve never done this before, and never used a wash, you will be shocked by how it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Still, go clean up the little details.  Go back to your base coat color if you need some more.  Then let it dry.

I should have taken a picture of my figures at this point.  I didn’t want to show how really ordinary, nearly bad, my initial paint job was, but that’s kind of the point so I wish I had done it.  Well, just imagine that the paint job is nothing special.

Step 4:  Apply the wash.  Normally, use brown wash for humans, and I used it on all 5 figures here.  I’ve used black on Orcs and that sort of thing, but you also need black for anything metallic, such as Mando’s helmet and Enfys Nest’s staff.  I used black on Moff Gideon’s body but still used brown wash on his head.  And here are the results:

Step 5:  From here, you can go back and touch up or even add any last details, such as eyes.  I don’t go this far but I’d like to get there some day.

A few details I’ll point out:

  • You can clearly see the folds in Beckett’s cape and Baby Yoda’s robes.  This is because of the brown wash I used, which sinks into the cracks and brings out the detail.  I probably laid it on a bit thick.
  • Enfys Nest’s breast plate is a great piece of sculpting by the Skullforge group and is a good example of how these painting techniques come together.  The base coat of brown is an established background.  I used a dry brush technique on the breast plate to make sure the paint didn’t sink too deep.  Then finishing it off with a brown wash ensures that the breast plate pops out from its background.  I used a brown wash everywhere on her except the staff.  Use black wash on metal or it will look muddy.  I used it on Mando’s metal parts as well.
  • I borrowed Matt’s silver for Mando and a high gloss finish for Moff Gideon’s armor.  If you’re interested in the specifics, leave a comment and I’ll find out exactly what I used.
  • If you look closely at these, you can see that the paint went on a little thick.  I really need to do a better job of thinning my paint out and taking it a layer at a time but these are definitely good enough to play with.

Tips and tricks

Steady hands:  Push your hands together at the base, just above the wrists.  I’ve often got a figure in my left hand, the brush in my right, and my hands together.  It makes them very steady.

Thin your paint:  Just a little water will thin out your paint.  Add it a drop at a time, not too much.  You really want to apply the paint in thin layers, not in a single thick layer.  Not too much water!  Just a drop or 2 or you’ll end up having to burn through more paint to thicken it.

Dry brush:  When you’re doing some exterior details, like, say, the shells in Mando’s leg bandolier, or Enfys Nest’s chest plate, use a dry brush technique.  Load your paint brush normally, then brush it against a paper towel to remove a majority of it.  Now you’ve got paint on your brush, just not on the tip.  Use a light but fairly typical brush stroke with your dry brush, and the paint will come off on only the edges of what you’ve been painting.  You’ll apply the paint to the edge without affecting the color underneath.

So with a decent paint job that was fun and didn’t take me very long, the Shapeways figures pass muster and are ready to be included in my Epic Duels set.  Only word of caution is that they’re fragile.  One of the spikey things on Enfys Nest’s helmet broke off, Gideon’s Dark Saber keeps breaking off and even Mando’s pistol barrel broke.  But, this is the best thing going on the market right now, far as I know.  I started up a figures page on the Wiki with some other resources.

Anyways, I’ve been able to add these figures to my set, and here it is, in all its glory, and zooming in will show a lot of detail.

For Star Wars Miniatures, this isn’t a very impressive collection but for Epic Duels, it’s pretty good.  For any Star Wars fan, there are a few interesting mods and unique (not from Star Wars Minis) figures in there, so I’m using bold for those.  If you have questions about which Star Wars miniature I’m using, go ahead and ask.  Going from left to right with their Epic Duels names, back to front.

Back Row: Scout Trooper, AT-ST (unique), Scout Trooper, Stormtrooper, Darth Vader, Stormtrooper, Clone Trooper, Mace Windu, Clone Trooper, Clone Trooper, Yoda, Clone Trooper.

Row 2: Royal Guard, Emperor Palpatine, Royal Guard, Battle Droid, Darth Maul, Battle Droid, Clone Trooper, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Clone Trooper, Bespin Trooper, Lando Calrissian, Bespin Trooper.

Row 3: Zam Wessel, Jango Fett, Boba Fett, Super Battle Droid, Count Dooku, Super Battle Droid, Padme Amidala, Anakin Skywalker, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker.

Row 4: Bossk (unique), IG-88 (unique), Dengar, Doctor Evizan, Greedo, Ponda Baba, Old Ben, Young Luke, Lobot (unique), Lando (unique), R2-D2, C-3P0.

Row 5: Durge, Bib Fortuna, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, Darth Plagueis, Sidious Sith Apprentice, Wookie minor, Yoda Kashyyk, Wookie minor, Rebel Pilot, Bespin Luke, Rebel Pilot.

Row 6: Gamorrean Guard, The Great Jabba, Gamorrean Guard, Magna Guard, Grievous Jedi Hunter, Magna Guard, Padawan Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon Jinn, Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, Barriss Offee, Luminara Unduli.

Row 7: Elite Stormtrooper, Grand Moff Tarkin, Elite Stormtrooper, Geonosian, Asajj Ventress, Geonosian, Stass Allie, Adi Gallia, Captain Rex, Ahsoka Tano, Apprentice Qui-Gon (Queen’s Gambit), Dooku Jedi Knight (mod).

Row 8: Clone Trooper, Anakin Sith Apprentice, Clone Trooper, Stormtrooper, Vader Jedi Hunter, Stormtrooper, Arc Trooper, Plo Koon, Arc Trooper, Arc Trooper, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Arc Trooper.

Row 9: Senate Guard, Sly Moore, Senate Guard, Royal Guard, Darth Sidious, Royal Guard, Jedi Guardian, Shaak Ti, Jedi Guardian, Clone Trooper, Aayla Secura, Clone Trooper.

Row 10: Elite Stormtrooper, Imperial Officer, Elite Stormtrooper, Droideka (Queen’s Gambit) Nute Gunray (QG) Droideka (QG) Quarren Mercenary, Quinlan Vos, Quarren Mercenary, Clone Trooper, Bultar Swan, Clone Trooper.

Row 11: Snow Trooper, General Veers, Snow Trooper, Twilek Spy, Mara Jade The Emperors Hand, Twilek Spy, Padawan, Cin Drallig, Padawan, Clone Trooper, Kit Fisto, Clone Trooper.

Row 12: IG Assassin Droid, Cad Bane, IG Assassin Droid, Rodian Mercenary, Aurra Sing, Rodian Mercenary, Wedge Antilles, Admiral Ackbar, Tarfful, Chewbacca of Kashyyk.

Row 13: Elite 1st Order Trooper, General Hux, Elite 1st Order Trooper, 1st Order Trooper, Kylo Ren (SW Monopoly) 1st Order Trooper, Jar-Jar Binks, Rebel Commando, Luke Rebel Commando, Rebel Commando, The Mandalorian (Shapeways) The Child (Shapeways).

Row 14: Sith Acolyte, Sora Bulq (mod) Sith Acolyte, Death Trooper (mod) Director Orson Krennic, Death Trooper (mod), BB-8 (unique) Rey, Poe Dameron (unique) Finn (SW Monopoly) Luke Grand Master (mod).

Row 15: Darth Bane, Darth Zannah, Yuuzhan Vong, Nom Anor, Yuuzhan Vong, Sky Raider, Enfys Nest, Sky Raider, Tobias Beckett (Shapeways) Val, Jyn Erso.

Row 16: Exar Kun, Ulic Qel Droma, Rukh, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Chirrut Imwe, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, Hoth Han (unique) Han Scoundrel, Bothan Spy.

Row 17: Moff Gideon (Shapeways) Sith Trooper, Darth Malak, Sith Trooper, Talon Karrde (also Baze Malbus), Shada D’ukai, Jaina Solo, Jace Solo, Bothan Spy, Dash Rendar.

Front Row: Iridorian Mercenary (mod, bonus points if you know who he is) Guri, Prince Xizor, Jan Ors (mod) Kyle Katarn, Anakin Solo, Mara Jade Skywalker, Carth Onasi (mod) Bastila Shan (mod).

Only a very small number of characters are used in more than 1 deck.  If use a character in multiple decks, such as Lando, I try to keep 2 separate figures for those 2 decks in the unlikely event that we’d ever want to play them within the same game.  However, I have 3 Lando decks, so one of them has to double as Smuggler Lando.  I similarly have 2 Qui-Gon Jinns and could probably find a third one, but it doesn’t seem worth it for the Qui-Gon & Jar-Jar deck that we rarely play.  I have 2 Chewbacca’s, one for Han and one for Tarfful, but not a 3rd one for Hoth Han.  My Talon Karrde doubles as Baze Malbus.  Jyn Erso uses the same Rebel Commando minors as Luke Rebel Commando and though I have a second set, I don’t want to make space for it.  I might have a second set of IG Assassin droids but I really only need them for Cad Bane as we hardly ever play Durge.  Moff Gideon will have to use Krennic’s Death Troopers.  I have 2 Jabba decks, one with Gamorreans and one with Bib Fortuna, but I’m not finding, purchasing and storing a second Jabba figure.

I’ve otherwise been keeping an assortment of Clone Troopers and Storm Troopers for each deck they’re included in, but I’m thinking I’m not going to be doing so much of that anymore as they’re not worth the space.  I really like this fishing tackle box and it is nearing its limit.

One tip that has worked out really well is that I splash a bit of gold paint on bottom of the bases so if I’m ever around anyone else’s minis, I can tell mine apart.  Also, the new Shapeways minis are too fragile for this box, so they’ll be bubble wrapped (I’m serious) in another small box to go along with this one (The Bruce Lee Unmatched box, though I will move to a larger Unmatched box in time if I need to).

Figures I still need:

  • A real Admiral Ackbar would cost a pretty penny but I’d like to get one.  That’s the actual Wedge Antilles figure next to my Ackbar proxy so I’m good there.
  • If I could find authentic Resistance Troopers from Eps 7-9, that would be cool.
  • I’ll take a legit Chirrut Imwe, Baze Malbus and K-2SO over what I’ve got, and will consider Shapeways for them because they’ve got those.  Thing is, I will never likely play those decks in person with anyone, as my own group doesn’t really want to see them.  I like the Jyn and Krennic decks and I already have the figures I need for those from Star Wars Miniatures.
  • For LOTR, I still need a bunch of figures and the GW ones are pretty ridiculous in terms of cost so maybe I can find some 3D prints instead.
    • Fire Pillars/Elementals (Smaug’s)
    • Elrond
    • Elf Archers
    • Mouth of Sauron
    • Sauron Dark Lord
    • Treebeard
    • Ents
    • Azog
    • Bolg
    • Hunter Orcs
    • Tauriel

Decks I still need: 

  • I’d like to figure something out for Luke with Yoda, even though I already have a ton of Luke decks.

Figures up next:

You thought we were dangerous before, now Matt got a 3D printer.  He already put it to work by making one of the figures I still need…

And it didn’t take me long to get into it!

It’s a new era of 3D prints.  There are companies through which you can order them, but with our printing and painting capabilities all we really need are the files.  Decks have been inspired by figures before and it appears that they may be again.  Let’s get started with Sifo Dyas.

4 comments

  1. JusDon says:

    Beautiful figures!
    You had me all over shapeways last week and i ordered almost $200 worth of stuff!
    If you haven’t already, get over to MEL MINIATURES, not just SKULLFORGE
    https://www.shapeways.com/shops/mel_miniatures?page%5Bnumber%5D=3&page%5Blimit%5D=48&page%5Border%5D=asc&s=0&section=1%2F47+Units
    They have EVEN MORE stuff to choose from.
    I made 12 more decks to my already HUGE mess of ED miniatures.
    Once i’m done painting, i’ll share my stuff with you again!

    • roman says:

      My mistake I left mentioning the Legos out of the history post! Those were a big part of the early add-on experience for us. I’ll update the post with that bit.

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