Yesterday I christened the new man cave by settling down to paint the first squad of the Paradiso National Army.
I went for a super-simple paint scheme - spray primed with Army Painter Desert Yellow, faces and hands picked out in various shades of brown, guns black with just enough grey drybrush to pick out some detail, and any packs, holsters or slings etc painted a golden yellow that was just enough different from the primer to be noticeable with a second look. Everything else was left as primed and I relied entirely on the Quickshade to pick out all the detailing and distinguish belts, boots & buttons. The whole squad (plus two command figures) only took a couple of hours from primed to Quickshade.
Given the speed of the painting (and my notorious fumble-fingeredness) I'm happy with the way these have come out. Unlike my Victorian figures I probably will give them a blast of matt varnish/anti-shine spray as the glossy "toy soldier" look doesn't work as well with modern figures, to my eye at least.
You'll notice that I said I painted the faces and hands various shades of brown. I honestly hemmed and hawed over that choice for some time. On a Carribean island like Paradiso, the vast majority of the population should be black or hispanic, with a minority descended from indigenous tribes. But honestly I was a little reluctant to reflect that in the figure painting.
For one thing, I've got a good selection of caucasian fleshes that work well with the Army Painter Quickshade system and was worried that the browns I had wouldn't work convincingly as skin. That concern was misplaced - I used a light brown labelled "Taupe" for the lightest skin and Burnt Umber for the darkest and mixed a range in-between. The Quickshade was still able to work its magic.
The other issue was that I didn't want to lock down these figures to this single project. I want to be able to use these figures for as many modern-day/near future settings as possible. For these soldiers though, they're most likely to pull double duty as soldiers from one of the other Imagi-Nations I have rattling around the backburner - one African (in true AK47/Bongolesian style) and one pseudo middle-eastern. The other role they might be called on to play would be as The Army in a Zombie Apocalypse game Assuming like most such games, our Zed game will take place in America, an all-ethnic minority platoon is probably more accurate than an all-white one would be. So I decided to take the plunge, and I'm glad I did.
The civilians are going to be a slightly different matter. The figures I have put aside as "Rebel Forces" will probably get the same treatment as the army. The rest of the civilian "Street Violence" figures will probably get a more "conventional" wargame ethnic mix i.e. predominently caucasian, though I'll make a conscious effort to include a little more variation than I might otherwise do.
Yes I know, for some of us this might seem a silly thing to worry about, smacking a little of the old "Political correctness gone mad!" chiche. But for other people I know this is a real hot-button topic, how seemingly inconsequential examples like this all add up to both reflect and indeed shape racial prejudices. Personally I have no such stake in that particular issue - for me it's simply a matter of balancing aesthetics, verisimilitude and practicality, no different from the question of what colour to paint my zombie skin (I'm leaning towards green right now)
Anyhoo, I now have a painted squad, enough for one side of an interesting Flying Lead game. Moving away from the hardware of the game, I've been thinking a little more about how Paradiso is organised and the factions available. These soldiers, as I mentioned, will be representing the Paradiso National Army. They will make up the bulk of Paradiso's armed forces. Later, there will also be a smaller, lighter armed Internal Security force, under the control of the Interior Minister. This would give plenty of scope for some "Junta" style factional infighting.
The forces of opposition will include (1) a communist-backed rebel group, based up in the mountains (2) the forces of a criminal cartel, which can fortunately use the same figures as the rebels and (3) a belligerent neighboring country - details to be determined.
Add in a civilian police force, assorted petty criminal gangs, Private Military Contractors protecting the interests of a huge western corporation and.. hey just for fun let's throw a cult in there as well.
Anyway, we have our first army squad, next up will be a similar sized group of rebels for them to face off against.