domenica 15 gennaio 2017

Berengar Took - Mithril Hobbit Scout on Pony (M60)

It's funny how you start painting a miniature with no idea or inspiration, and you end up with a piece that's not only above your average, but also developed in your hands, way beyond your original intention, and actually came to represent a character with an appealing background story.

That's what happened with Mithril Hobbit Scout on Pony (M60), which I started painting in October 2016, and finished in the last days of the year. During its painting I put it down and picked it up again a number of times, choosing to focus some days on other miniatures that were, at the time, more interesting.

The only ideas I had, when I started, was that the hobbit should have dark brown hair and a green cloak. In the end it had a green cloak, indeed. The hair somehow started with a light brown and came up almost blonde.

A blonde hobbit? Why not? Before repainting my mistake, I did some research, and came up with a quote.
Before the crossing of the mountains the Hobbits had already become divided into three somewhat different breeds: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides. The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides. The Stoors were broader, heavier in build; their feet and hands were larger, and they preferred flat lands and riversides. The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair, and they were taller and slimmer than the others; they were lovers of trees and of woodlands.
Well, Mithril said it's a scout, so... Fallohide it is. Fair-skinned and fair-haired, our hobbit needs a name now.
In some old families, especially those of Fallohide origin such as the Tooks and the Bolgers, it was, however, the custom to give high-sounding first-names. Since most of these seem to have been drawn from legends of the past, of Men as well as of Hobbits, and many while now meaningless to Hobbits closely resembled the names of Men in the Vale of Anduin, or in Dale, or in the Mark, I have turned them into those old names, largely of Frankish and Gothic origin, that are still used by us or are met in our histories. I have thus at any rate preserved the often comic contrast between the first-names and surnames, of which the Hobbits themselves were well aware.
RotK, Appendix F
Took. Everything seems to fall into place, now! I think I'll call him Berengar, just because I'm a big fan of Berengar I of Friuli, king of Italy (888-924) and son of Eberhard the Saint, one of the closest advisors to emperor Louis the Pious.

Berengar Took. The Scout. Or, even better, the Adventurer!
[...] certainly there was still something not entirely hobbit-like about them, - and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. They discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though they were undoubtedly richer.
I can almost hear Berengar's mum, complaining that all the family loved trees and woodlands, but it was certainly not normal for one of them to go and visit the great forests beyond the Brandywine! 
"Where did all that talk of elves and dragons, and magic rings and shining swords came from?" wondered Berengar's mother.
"I tell you where it came from" muttered his Uncle, Ludovic, while sucking on his pipe "from that ol' Wizard that comes every now and then. He looks all jolly and friendly, but he's up to no good, mark my words!"
"The Wizard?!?" gasped the woman.
Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows' sons? [...] Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures. Anything from climbing trees to visiting Elves - or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores! 
Yep, that one.

That Gandalf better stay away from my children!
Anyway. The miniature is lovely, really. One of the best I've seen so far from Mr. Tubb. The date on the base is 1988 and the sculpt belongs to the group "Gandalf and the Shire-folk".

What I really like about this miniature is that it manages to be full of realistic detail and, at the same time, have something magical and poetic.

The drapery of the cloak is just perfect. And the way the hobbit looks around - perhaps scanning the landscape, perhaps marvelling at it - is just glorious. Also the pony is finely sculpted, with the right proportions and a strolling pose matching the relaxed position of the rider. 

The baggage is very well done, and so is the short sword hanging from the side.

And did I mention the drapery of the cloak, yet? No, this is probably one of my favourite Mithril miniatures so far. Ride, Berengar, follow the Road to wherever it goes!
           Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
           Though wind may blow and rain may fall,
           We must away ere break of day
           Far over wood and mountain tall.

           To Rivendell, where Elves yet dwell
           In glades beneath the misty fell,
           Through moor and waste we ride in haste,
           And whither then we cannot tell.

           With foes ahead, behind us dread,
           Beneath the sky shall be our bed,
           Until at last our toil be passed,
           Our journey done, our errand sped.

           We must away! We must away!
           We ride before the break of day!

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