Painting miniatures has been my hobby ever since Jr. High. One of my friends discovered the wonderful world of Games Workshop somewhere in seventh or eighth grade and I've always had an especial appreciation for the quality and imagination evinced in their Citadel line. It was a childhood dream come true when the company acquired the rights to produce miniatures based on Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. I don't have near the time to paint that I once did, so my ability to keep in step with the doings over at GW has greatly decreased. Still, even if I'm behind the times, I'm always excited to see what their newest creations.
Citadel's Finecast range of resin miniatures has been out for several years now, but I haven't had an opportunity to sit down and work with one until last week. A very obliging friend sent me Korhil, Captain of the White Lions for Christmas. I can't tell you how impressed I was. The level of detail was staggering. My first thought was: how am I going to get this thing out of the sprue without breaking it? My next was: how am I ever going to paint this in a way that will do it justice? Well I did get it out of the sprue without breaking it (It turns out resin is more forgiving than plastic). As for the paint job, if I had a working camera I'd let you be the judge. As it is, I'm pleased enough for now. There's always time for touch-ups...
Hobby details aside, the real pleasure of working with Games Workshop's products is being able to interact creatively with a richly imagined world. In assembling, modifying, and painting Citadel miniatures, a hobbyist can participate, in however miniscule a fashion, in expanding the world of Warhammer. This can be done with online games as well, but I appreciate the uniquely tactile quality of working with miniatures. When you're done, there's an incarnate bit of an imaginary universe sitting there in front of you. It can be picked up, handled, admired, or dropped (accidentally, we hope). This cooperative process of adding art to story is something Tolkien hoped for when he set out to create a mythology for England. I don't know what he would have thought about painting little miniatures, but not all of us can compose operas or direct films. Painting little men is something I can do and, for what it's worth, I'm grateful that I can still find some time in the business of life to do it.
As an addendum, you may have noticed that this post is going where so many of my posts tend to go. If you have, or even if you haven't, let me try to explain. All this is to say that I stand for the right to imagination, the right to fill in the spandrels of creation, to make by that law in which we're made. If humanity has a Creator, then we are more like that Creator when we create. As contingent beings, consumption is necessary for our being, but we spend too much time in modern culture merely consuming. So I do celebrate when, even in little ways, people make the choice to no longer consume but to also create.