Elf Riders for Middle-earth: a tale of plastic, putty and 3D prints

Finrod and his Elves photographed in front of one of Jon Hodgson’s stunning miniature backgrounds

Since getting tempted into collecting a small Elf force for Middle-earth, it’s been overdue for some extra riders. I already had a number of units of Noldor horse archers and heavy cavalry – mostly created by kit bashing Oathmark Elves with Gripping Beast Arab Heavy Cavalry – but the release of the Victrix Norman Knights in 2022 sent me back down the rabbit hole.

Base models: Victrix Norman (left), Reconquer Designs (right)
Victrix Norman Knights converted into Elves with Oathmark heads and shields

The second source of riders was the astonishing 3D range of El Cid era models by Reconquer Designs (previously Caballero Miniatures, that I looked in this article back in 2021). I had several of their Spanish knights knocking around in the bits box, two of which became standard bearers for the Elves. Mine were printed for me by James P of Fenland Miniatures (Iron Gate Scenery and Grey Green Customs also do them in the UK; the latter also sells versions with Elf heads and plumes which require no conversion).

Two Reconquer Designs medieval knights converted into Elves
One of Victor Ambrus’s Elves from the Tolkien Bestiary

Visual inspiration came from Tolkien stalwart Graham Green (Grey Green Customs), who converted bucketloads of metal minis into First Age Elves and then wrote about them in Miniature Wargames magazine (and also posts to the Wargaming In Middle-earth Facebook group). I still hark back to the artwork of Victor Ambrus in the 1979 Tolkien Bestiary and the more recent illustrations of Jenny Dolfen.

I love the horse archers in this Jenny Dolfen illustration – definitely an influence on my colour choices http://goldseven.de

Since rereading the Silmarillion a few years back, I’ve been fascinated by Finrod Felagund, so I decided to add him as a commander. The rest of my Elven force has a blue/ grey colour scheme and uses the heraldry of Finarfin – which was also used by Finrod – but I fancied creating a a bodyguard unit of Elves using Finrod’s personal device. To match the white, yellow and green of this symbol, I went with a largely green colour scheme and green shields.

Alongside the ten models I was working on for Finrod’s unit, I used the last remaining four Victrix Normans to create a few more horse archers in my regular blue/ grey scheme.

I snapped up the Victrix Normans as soon as they became available; they are superb models, but the first moulding had some issues with fitting the horses together, which I understand has now been rectified. This meant that I had some trimming and filling to do. Some of the horses had plumes added from the Oathmark Elves kits.

First experiments – this figure has an Oathmark Elf torso, which is a bit narrow (I used GB ones for the rest)

All of the horses were sprayed with Halfords Matt White Primer as a base colour which was then given a coat of GW Contrast Apothecary White. When dry, I highlighted this with a white acrylic.

Some of the muzzles received a layer of GW Contrast Gulliman Flesh and I picked out socks and hooves in acrylic dark greys and black. Reins and saddles were added with GW Contrast Cygor Brown – this dark colour is ideal for this job.

Saddlecloths were done using a mix of Contrast and regular acrylics, after which I sprayed all the horses with a coat of matt varnish.

Horses nearly finished (the riders are not glued on at this point)

The riders were kit bashed using a variety of plastic parts, all using the Victrix Normans as a base. The Oathmark Elves kits (both heavy and light infantry) saw extensive use of arms, heads, plumes and shields. From working on previous horse archers, I had a number of spare parts from the Gripping Beast Arab Heavy Cavalry kit; the most useful of these were the scale-armoured torsos, which fit well with the Victrix legs and Oathmark arms. Some spare cloaks from Fireforge Knights also came in handy to add a dynamic look to the charging riders.

These have the Arab Heavy Cavalry torsos from the Gripping Beast kit, which are a great fit for the Oathmark arms and heads.

With all this done, I went round and filled various gaps with green stuff.

Gap filling (Milliput for the horse and green stuff for the rider’s cloak)

Due to the high level of armour, I decided to spray the riders separately with a black undercoat (Halfords Matt Black again). After this, they received a dry brush of Army Painter Shining Silver acrylic over the armour, and I tidied this up with black acrylic.

Skin, clothing and leatherwork were all filled in with various acrylics (I can’t remember them all), trying to keep a green/ yellow/ white theme to match the heraldry.

Like the rest of my Elves, I did the shield devices by snipping and printing the artwork onto regular printer sticker paper, cutting them out neatly and sticking them onto the basecoated shield (any corners that didn’t quite stick down had a dot of PVA to hold them in place). With some painting and shading around the device, it’s not perfect but does the job for me.

Basecoated shields
Finished shields

The two 3D prints from Reconquer Designs became Finrod himself, waving his flag, and an additional standard bearer for his unit.

Finrod completed

I spent a little longer on the paintwork on these two, although I can claim no credit for the banner, being a piece of lovely Tolkien art that I found online, snipping and resizing it before printing it out onto regular paper.

Printed paper banners being fitted

The unit was based up on Warbases 25x50mm pill bases, with Finrod and his champion on larger 50 and 40mm round bases. Tufts and flowers are from Gamers Grass supplied by Northstar, as ever.

Despite having taken me far longer than I was hoping, I’m really pleased with the unit and look forward to charging it to its doom on the gaming table! I’d like to add a couple more infantry units and will then be calling it done, although the temptation of acquring some more Reconquer Models may be too much to resist…

11 thoughts on “Elf Riders for Middle-earth: a tale of plastic, putty and 3D prints

  1. Those are just splendid!
    At least on their first outing, when they meet the inevitable New Unit tragic end, it will be fitting and I hope, heroic.

    Liked by 1 person

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