Saturday, 10 November 2012

Do you have a Miniature Moriarty? Or, a discussion about our lead nemesis.

Sherlock Holmes had one...
So did Luke Skywalker...
Here's mine... My miniature Moriarty... My Lead Nemesis!
Today, I want to talk about those miniatures that we all own. They sit unpainted, or, indeed, partially, if not completely painted, upon our painting desks. Not proudly. They are not ranked neatly, or lovingly positioned so all who may wander past will notice our proudest paint job and comment (positively, hopefully). They are usually crammed to one side, buried under rolls of tissue used for cleaning brushes, un-opened letters (if you are like me) and even half consumed meals or beverages.

They are our Moriartys in miniature!

If you are still not nodding your head knowingly, perhaps not yet casting a furtive glance in the direction of your painting hole in a guilty appraisal of shame, then let me explain what I mean by a Miniature Moriarty.

"Professor James Moriarty is the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes, a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty is a criminal mastermind whom Holmes describes as the "Napoleon of crime". Doyle lifted the phrase from a real Scotland Yard inspector who was referring to Adam Worth, one of the real life models of Moriarty. The character of Moriarty as Holmes's greatest enemy was introduced primarily as a narrative device to enable Conan Doyle to kill off Sherlock Holmes, and only featured directly in two of the Sherlock Holmes stories."

Thanks Wikipedia.

So a miniature Moriarty would be that (or those, if you are particularly cursed) models that you just CANNOT get a decent paint job on. No matter how hard you try, how many colour schemes you attempt, how often you leave it, you never feel satisfied with your work. 

The miniature always looks crap. It sits, unused and unloved until it is inevitably cast into the Bitz Box of Doom or stripped and sold on eBay. 

That is how I would like to describe the Skeleton Chariot I started some months ago in the early days of this blog. You may have even wondered why it hadn't appeared in a battle report or even as a 'look what I have finished lately' post. 

It was my Moriarty. 

It had defeated me.

I just couldn't get it to look the way I imagined it SHOULD look. 

Here is the chariot for another angle - at least its done!
So if you blessed by not having a shameful secret (or think you are) how can you recognise a Miniature Moriarty? To help you decide I have created a little checklist that you can run through if you are unsure.

Here we go...

1) No matter how hard you try your paint always 'does its own thing' and blobs and runs in places you don't want it to go.
2) The colour scheme always looks awful, not matter what you try. Either too flat and lacking depth or cartoony.
3) Base looks awful, even though you have used the very same technique that you always use.
4) You start to despise the figure you are working on.
5) This feeling of dislike spreads to other models and you become reluctant to paint anything else in case the 'contagion' spreads to other models.
6) The 'contagion' spreads, you become disinterested in painting, your miniatures stand idle and the jar full of models you just bought from eBay float in their dettol bath unloved for weeks. Your table becomes a dumping ground for random objects placed their by your wife, dust breeds, the table becomes an embarrassment that you just cannot face tidying up
7) You blame it all on that one miniature that started the whole downward spiral.

And now, the most important aspect of a Moriarty Miniature! Number 8 in the list. Remember, that we are talking about a nemesis here, an archenemy. Its a personal thing, between you and the lead.


8)Only YOU can see the faults. Only YOU care about the flaws. So only YOU can make the change... Everyone else will just look at the model and say... "I like the way to did the...'


Just paint.

Cheap chaos warrior from eBay. 99p I think. I didn't even bother stripping this one, I just whacked a purple/black ink wash over the top of the original paint, waited for it to dry and them drybrushed with chainmail and silver. 
The only way to escape your Moriarty is to paint. Better you get the lead mountain painted than quibble over the quality of your painting. We all have models that we love the finished result of and we all have models that are a bit, well, naff. 

At least they are painted.

Believe me, before I went retro I could spend ENTIRE editions of Warhammer and 40k trying to get an army finished because I was never happy with the result and endlessly re-painted and re-painted and became miserable. 

Now I just 'get 'em painted'! 

So, have you ever had a lead nemesis? Have you ever tangled with a Miniature Moriarty?

I guess I found MY Adventure of the Empty House.

It was a Chaos Dwarf!



  1. I have an old Fimir noble that is now sitting in bits at the bottom of a box, painted and stripped a number of times, now just looking at him makes me shudder.

  2. You only have one? You lucky, lucky, lucky gamers.....

  3. Hehehe, good post!
    My arch-Nemesis was Valpurgius model: it was the very first model bought and somehow I just wasn't able to paint it nice.
    After several attempts (about 5 iirc) I decided to take easy way and asked other painter to do the job for me ^^
    Here's the result :)

  4. Mine is the old Greater Daemon of Khorne, always wanted a lava effect skin must have tried half a dozen times before just giving in and excepting the fact it will never look right.

  5. Hi Orlygg, been following this blog for a while - another kindred spirit here.
    My lead nemesis the 2nd Ed blood bowl mini "Wormhowl Greyscar". I just can't get him to look right. He's not a great sculpt, but still. Does my head in!

  6. I have many. Many Moriarty's if I were to try to classify my mountain of unpainted lead.

  7. I have many Moriarties. I'm happy to paint a rank and file model or two, or even twenty, and then comes.... the command group. The guys at the front that everyone will look at. Surely the unit champion should be converted or standing on a scenic base? Surely the banner needs to have a cool design that will be carried through to all the other units? And that's before we even get on to characters.

    Net result: not one finished army after twelve years of collecting and painting. (sniffle)

  8. Great concept! Have inspired me to give it another go at one of my Moriartys - One of the 'later giants' from Citadel...Although, I'll probably fail once again :(