Beastman Pileup I haven’t painted a miniature in years. In about ten years, to be exact. Back then, I used to paint a few PC miniatures here and there for DnD, painstakingly spending hours on selecting each color, carefully and lovingly considering each brushstroke, washing for shadows and drybrushing for highlights. I’ve got maybe ten or fifteen miniatures to my name.

My husband, on the other hand, has hundreds of the things. They fill up a display case on one of our walls. That’s not to mention the plastic miniatures that fill three plastic hardware boxes, the kind in which you’re supposed to store screws, nuts, and bolts if you’re not a complete nerd. Ours are stuffed with elves, mind flayers, little dudes in chainmail, and Ibixians.

The Ibixians have been getting a lot of use ever since we started playing Warhammer 3e; my husband wasn’t a Warhammer fan, so he doesn’t have many official Games Workshop miniatures. Unfortunately, the new version of Warhammer throws beastmen about like drunken relatives throw rice at weddings, and our meager supply of orange horned guys just wasn’t cutting it.

Getting minis ready again after ten years was a bit of a struggle. First of all, I’m sure that the damned things are smaller than they were when I was in college. What kind of a ridiculously high agility check does it take to hold a beastman weapon together for twenty seconds while the super glue dries, anyway? And who gave me all of those black dice to add to my roll?

I’m not a tidy creator. I just dump the trays on the table and cut the bodies and arms that I need willy-nilly, then glue each in turn. I stop to talk on the phone. I stop to play with the parrot. I stop to make soup. Occasionally, I glue a beastman head to my finger, which necessitates a painful removal. Once, a misstep manages to attach a beastman arm to the cat’s left back paw, necessitating a daring “chase and rescue” mission.  Any seasoned veteran of making wargaming miniatures would be horrified by my slow pace.

Of course, that’s not my only faux pas. I tell my husband that I’m thinking of putting all the beastmen arms in the same position so that they can make a “dance line.” I find this charming and amusing. He texts me to remind me that such a thing wouldn’t be considered “fantasy miniatures best practice.” Neither, I suspect, will the purple and pink checkered bases I’m planning on adding. I make up stories for the beastmen as I put them together. There’s Edward, the beastman whose mom wanted him to go to the University, but whose low grades in math caused him to be shunted to the trade school; his therapist says that his lasting frustration and disappointment are the root of his anger management issues. There’s Todd, who walks with a limp and speaks every sentence as though it’s a question? There’s Eric, whose two swords are his pride and joy because he won them both at the county fair, having proven his knowledge of famous Chaos philosophers in a trivia quiz. Anyone over at the Warhammer forums would be horrified that I’m showing so little respect for traditional Warhammer canon. (Even in my head. I suspect these guys don’t even THINK things outside the canon–it’s just too dangerous.)

Finally, I have assembled my twenty beastmen, plenty for the upcoming scenario. I haven’t put base coat on them or started to paint. Who knows how long that will take, or what part of the cat’s anatomy will be jeopardized by open paint pots. Still, that’s one of the nice things about the RPG hobby: it carries with it so many other little pleasures, like painting minis, making paper buildings, or crafting last-minute scenery for an important encounter. (Yes, that is an Altoid in the forest over there. But just for now, let’s pretend it’s a HUGE marble artifact, okay? Please refrain from eating the artifacts until the session is over.) Sometimes the act of creating something tangible is almost as much fun as imagining its intangible “life.” Almost.