Monday, 25 April 2011

Love... hate... Mithril...

Today I'd like to talk about Mithril Miniatures. They've been around for years producing miniatures based upon The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings... and in their particular style sculpted by Chris Tubb.

Mithril has always been a funny one for me. I don't own too many of them but I have a strange fascination with them. People who know my work over the years probably wont be too surprised that I take a certain inspiration from them.

Take this giant. Obviously not a modern take on such a subject and it doesn't even have much in common with the classic styles of figure associated with, say, early Citadel, Grenadier or Ral Partha. No, it's undetailed but has a sculptural solidity that is rather out-of-step with nearly everything else in the miniatures world. But, you know, this is a mini I like to stare at once in a while. There's that fascination with just how little there is too it but how it still works for me.

I used to own this Saruman figure and it's perhaps a little more traditional but it's again, quite low detail and with long, clean lines. For me, yet again, it has that certain something.

Mithril is a funny entity as it seems that it's almost not part of our miniatures hobby. It's like a separate thing with Mithril collectors rather than miniature collectors. As a general rule I always love the idea of Mithril more than the execution.

A few people rather scoff at Mithril and their stubborn refusal to reinvent with a more modern sensibility but there's a part of me that likes and admires their traditional setup. That said, an easier to navigate website with better pics might be nice...

In the back of my head is the idea of one day playing with similar ideas for a range of my own figures. I've played with it a little in the past but never really dived in (look at Spyglass L'nissa and Naomi as examples). Just that idea of clean, low-detail sculptural figures but to my tastes... Hmmm.... one day...


  1. I've always loved those but got none cause I've never been keen on Tolkien.

    I remember decades ago to see original sculpts made from what appeared to be plasticiline or uncured polymer clay, awesome!

    Now you write a bit about them it comes to my mind the Apple's take on minis article series you recently wrote. Looks the style would fit.

    Besides, I do agreein the way those looked always oriented to collectors (despite the lack of intrincate detail) than to miniature collectors/warwamers.

    Still they allways had an illustration-like feel to them that I loved.

  2. I liked Mithril when I was ten or twelve and the only other LOTR range was a slightly blobby Grenadier one.

    Now I'm older and the sculpts are dated.

  3. Just stumbled across this. I agree with everything you write- I own the Prancing Pony figures and have found them a real challenge to paint. The eyes are not fully sculpted with eye lids or at least edges, so there is no guide for the paint. Also the large, smooth surfaces mean there is nowhere to hide if your blending skills are not up to scratch. Still, they are beautiful sculpts and true to Tolkein's vision IMO.