Hobby Machine’s Plastic Royal Guard

Or, 3 x 22 = 84

Hello once again, friends! I’m back with a new spontaneous hobby blog. After painting so many Uruk-Hai for my Uglúk’s Scouts Legendary Legion, I figured I may as well make a Rohan force to repel them. I had the Battle of the Pelennor Fields contents on my desk ever since I bought the box and the guilt of not using them was starting to weigh heavily on me.

After writing a 500pt list, I cast my mind to expanding it to 750 – a standard tournament sized force – and I felt like adding some more Rohan Royal Guard to Elfhelm’s warband. Still feeling the sting of an AU$18 repackaging fee for the new Rohan Royal Knights pack, I decided I’d convert some using the good old Riders of Rohan box. This way, I’ll have 4 Rohan Royal Guard, an Outrider and a Rider with an Axe all for AU$50. Much better value. To help other hobbyists of similar persuasions, I’ve recorded my process for you below.

Step 1 – Planning

The first and most important step in any conversion project is planning. The goal for this project is simple: using the plastic Riders of Rohan, convert 4 Rohan Royal Guard. In order to make it happen, I first need to work out what components make up a Rohan Royal Guard. I already promised myself I wouldn’t try and sculpt the intricate vembraces and greaves. I want this tutorial to be as accessible to as many people as possible and frankly, I know my limits. I compiled the features of a Rohan Royal Guard and listed them below.

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Features of a Rohan Royal Guard – Front

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Features of a Rohan Royal Guard – Back

After I made note of their features, I went through each of the Riders of Rohan and noted what features they had and what needed to be added by me. For this example, I’ll use the Rider with Throwing Spear that had the most features to begin with.

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Step 2 – Preparation

With the planning stage completed, I needed to prepare the models I was going to use to cut down on the amount of sculpting required. First step is to remove every bow and quiver. Royal Guard cannot take bows unfortunately – despite the fact that they used them against the underbellies of the Mumakil during the Return of the King (same with War Horns!) – so they had to go. The great thing about these conversions is that they use plastic kits, which makes carving away those details immensely easier. I also prepared some Warriors of Minas Tirith to generously donate their pauldrons. I’ve left the pauldrons off the sword-armed rider to show you that you can get the right results without this step, it’s up to you.

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At this stage, you should also carve away their hair from under their helmets, shown here

Step 3 – Gluing the Components

Now that I’ve prepped the model and carved away any unnecessary detail, I glued the Warrior of Minas Tirith pauldrons to the rider. At this stage, if you’re planning on doing any head swaps for Warriors of Rohan with large crests on their helmets, now is the time to do it. I would wait until you’ve done the initial stages of sculpting before completing weapon swaps as this will obscure your working space.

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You’ll notice the donor Warrior of Minas Tirith had to have his shield carved away, leaving the front of this Royal Guard’s pauldron bare. Not to worry, he’ll have his own shield soon. The back detail is all that matters.

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See? What did I tell you?

Step 4 – Initial Sculpting

Here we begin the tricky bit. For the cloaks, you want to fill in the area left by your carving of the quivers, whilst following the direction of the cloaks as best you can. Use any mounted model you have for reference, just don’t go as extravagant as the Rivendell Knights, you’ll be wasting Green Stuff and precious sanity. For the Riders that don’t have full length scale mail coats – in this example, the bowman and spear throwing riders – you should sculpt their coats now. I would advise against sculpting both the cloak and scale mail at the same time, as you don’t want to mess up your work with accidental finger smooshes.

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My preferred method for sculpting scale mail is to make diamond shapes with crisscrossing lines, then pressing your sculpting tool (in my case a metal skewer) into the top point of the diamond.

Step 5 – Secondary Sculpting

Here is where we start adding more details on top of these initial layers. For the scale mail you’ve just let set completely, time to sculpt the cummerbund thingys the Royal Guard have under their belts. Simply roll out a small sausage of Green Stuff and press it into place at the waist. Make sure to press the top and the bottom of the cummerbund to that you have the impression of a belt in the middle.

On the back of the models, over the cloaks that you’ve allowed to completely set, you’re going to sculpt the hoods. Simply cut a triangle of Green Stuff and press it into place, making sure to make it really thin on the shoulders. You’re then going to flatten any fingerprints or blemishes with the flat blade of your sculpting tool, and neaten the edges so that they are nice and sharp. When the shaping is done, take the blade of your sculpting tool and carve the two lines parallel to the edges for the embroidery.

With the hood set – or at least 30 minutes after sculpting the hood – you can add the small chainmail flap on top.

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You can tell the middle Rider doesn’t have pauldrons, but with the shield in place, he’s going to fit right in.

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Closer detail of the hood and chainmail. If you don’t feel confident with this step, don’t worry! We’re going to cover the whole thing with horse hair!

Step 6 – Plumes and final details

We’re now getting to the end of the journey, and I’m quite happy with the results. The final details before adding shields is the metal collar, the cloak brooches and the plumes of horse hair the Captains and their Guards have on all their helms.

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Like we did for the cummerbunds, the collars are small sausages of Green Stuff, flattened with your sculpting tool with lines carved into them for the gold details. The brooches are tiny balls of Green Stuff that are flattened, then the detail added by poking around the circumference with a sculpting tool

For the plumes on the helmets, you can either press-mold an existing plume like Eomer’s or Erkenbrand’s, or you can sculpt them yourself like I did. The benefit of sculpting them yourself is that they will blend into the rest of the model better.

To sculpt the plume, roll out a sausage of Green Stuff and apply it to the back of the crest. Then, using the blade of your sculpting tool, run lines down the length of the plume. I like to also draw lines across the plumes to simulate them twisting in the wind as they ride down the enemies of the Mark.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to do the entire plume in one go. It can get a bit frustrating at times when you’re trying to sculpt detail on the side and it pushes the entire plume off to the side. You can let the first bit dry, then add more volume to the sides, which is what I did.

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You can tell especially with the Guard on the left from the different tones of Green Stuff that I did his plume in two stages. The guy on the right is just flexing.

Step 7 – Shields

You can probably tell from the photos above that I have added press-molded shields to the minis. I love press-molds, they’re effective at getting the right details for your conversions, and you can either use Green Stuff or resin for your casts. I haven’t used resin before so I’ll leave that to more experienced sculptors like Lachlan over at Zorpazorp Gaming.

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Some of the more wonky casts I’ll use for base decorations

*Note on press-molding*

Do not copy any intellectual material to profit. I only press mold shields and heads for personal use, and I encourage you to expand your skill set in order to grow as a hobbyist, not to profit from other people’s intellectual property.

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The finished Guard

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The other finished Guard. Even without the pauldrons on the left Guard, he is still easily recognisable thanks to the details we added

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! It is possible to convert Rohan Royal Guard from the plastic Riders of Rohan box set. Remember to keep the sculpting to layers, so that all the detail you’re putting in is going to be crisp and blemish free. Always break down each conversion project in stages so that it’s not as daunting when you’re looking to get started.

Some things I would change if I decide to do another batch:

  • Do head swaps for all the riders. If you can, try and get them all to have the same helmets as the example rider, it’s the closest match to the Royal Guard, and you won’t need to fiddle with tiny details on the helmets that are different. This axe-armed Rohan Warrior is perfect.

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    The angle of the head and neck doesn’t matter as we sculpt the hood, chainmail and plume to cover the join

  • Make sure the hood is as small as possible over the shoulders, you don’t want your Guard to look like they’ve got tiny necks.
  • When choosing what Warrior of Minas Tirith to use for their pauldrons, try to match their poses as much as possible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the great thing about the plastic kits is that they’re so easy to carve and do weapon and amour swaps with.
  • The level of detail you add to your conversions is up to you. Start out small, practicing chainmail and hair/fur on your models so you get the hang of these materials and you can then take those skills and add them to your bigger projects. When you break down the layers of detail, it’s just those different materials on top of each other.
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Using the techniques we’ve covered, you can also convert the spare bowmen into Outriders by simply removing their shields and adding plumes to their helmets!

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