Monday, June 09, 2014

Meriadoc Brandybuck: Fictional Dioramas & Functional Usage

File this miniature under the 'better late than never' category.  I started this particular Meriadoc Brandybuck mini well over a year ago for a Hobbit Day diorama I was working on at the time.  Hobbit Day 2012 came and went with only Bilbo Baggins complete, so I abandoned Merry and onto the queue shelf he went.  Months later, I picked him up again with the goal of finishing the now near mythical diorama for Hobbit Day 2013.  That day too came and went without a completed miniature. Back on the shelf he went.  Finally, I was able to finish him last week.  Maybe, just maybe, Hobbit Day 2014 will see a completed diorama.

The planned diorama was to depict Merry spying on Bilbo in the Shire.  In The Fellowship of the Ring, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins approaches Bilbo from a distance.  Not wanting to deal with her antics, Bilbo quietly slips on his magical ring and disappears until Lobelia has safely passed him by.  Bilbo then reappears and goes about his day, oblivious to the extra company hidden beside the road.  According to the text, this event was the downfall of Bilbo's well-kept secret and a catalyst to forming the 'conspiracy' that was finally unmasked years later when Frodo tries to leave Crickhollow without his friends.

When completed (if that ever happens), Lobelia will be positioned near the bottom of a small rise continuing her walk down the lane towards Hobbiton.  Bilbo will be positioned in the lane some distance behind her, holding his trusty ring in the palm of his hand with an obviously pleased look upon his face for having avoided the dreadful creature.  Merry will be off the side of the road hidden amongst the brush and grass, not quite believing what he just witnessed.  If done correctly, I think the diorama will depict the scene from the book quite faithfully.

This version of Merry (from the Merry and Pippin vs. Grishnákh blister) is the perfect mini for the job.  He is already kneeling/hiding so no conversion was necessary.  More importantly, the look upon his face, while originally sculpted to show fear of Grishnákh, seems to show surprise as well....perfect for my project!

I'm a firm believer of double-duty miniatures.  As such, I did not want to paint and base Merry solely on the description of the Shire encounter.  I also wanted to be able to use the model for additional encounters.  I painted Merry in his Fellowship attire, including the Lothlorien cloak.  The look was flexible though.  To me, the color scheme could just as easily fit the well-tended fields of The Shire (for the diorama) as well as the wilds of Middle-earth (for gaming in general).  The main alternate use of the mini would be for its intended purpose.  The encounter that the blister was meant to depict occurred in Rohan near the eves of Fangorn Forest.  It was easy to adopt the imagery Peter Jackson used for Rohan in the movies and tie it in with The Shire with just a little stretch of the imagination.  The base could be cultivated winter wheat or natural grassland, both of which work for either use.  Now, instead of just sitting in a diorama, I can pull him out and use Merry on the game table.

There is one part of the  model that would preclude Merry from being in Rohan (as depicted in the book and movie) but it takes a sharp eye to find it.  I'll leave that one detail open to guesses in the comments section.

Though the time frame of completion may indicate otherwise, I actually enjoyed painting this miniature.  This sculpt predates GW Finecast and represents the good ole' days when GW LotR SBG products were worth the money.  The lines are clean and the details crisp.   If I remember correctly, I had very little prepping to complet before priming and painting.  That's never the case with Finecast miniatures.  Though I have plenty of GW LotR lead still to paint, working on this miniature made me miss the days when I eagerly awaited the next issue of White Dwarf to see what LotR goodies were coming out the following month.

Ending Note:  I apologize for the photos.  I tried a new lens on my camera for this session.  While the lens does a great job in other areas, close-up photography is not one of them.  The photos look very fuzzy and not at all sharp.  I could have retaken the photos but I was feeling much too lazy, just like a fat hobbit!

Don't forget to provide your guesses below.  I wonder how long it will take to spot it.  As always, thanks for reading!


  1. Nicely done. I like the basing you've done the reeds/long grass make him look like he's hiding from view.

    1. Thank you very much sir for the kind compliment!

  2. First off: The figure looks great and the basing really works. I'm particularly impressed by the cloak.

    Second: The only thing I can think of that doesn't quite fit is that his head isn't bandaged. Merry had a brown scar from the wound suffered in the scuffle with the orcs. So it could be the scar instead.

    1. That's a good guess Jim. In fact, it's kind of a winner since I didn't narrow down the options. Merry would have been injured at that point. The mini wasn't sculpted to show the wound however, and I certainly do not have the skill to make it so.

      You're on the right track but I'll narrow it down a bit more. It has something to do with the miniature itself, as sculpted. More specifically, look to the paint scheme. That's all I'll say....

      Thanks for reading.

      Oh, I almost have my brothers of the Night's Watch ready to show. I'll let you know when they are built.

    2. I've been a little busy, so I was only just recently able to dig out my Two Towers dvd and take another stab. I'm going to cheat and try 2 answers: It's either that Merry isn't wearing a shirt under his vest or doesn't have the belt from Lothlorien on. Otherwise, I'm stumped.

  3. Delightful figure Scott, well done!