Dire Straits Covers Michael Bay in Unexpected Seamen

For twenty five years I have resisted the call of the miniature, zombie pirate… but no longer!

There are two ways to read this blog post: the short, slightly meandering way (2) and the less short and more meandering way (1). Scroll down to (2) for immediate info regarding the seamen throughout Michael Bay’s various nooks and crannies.

(1) In January my appendix decided that it could no longer reconcile it’s differences with me and ended our forty-two year relationship by exploding in a welter of pus and necrotic bits of meat while I was eating a slice of toast.

Artists Impression

The day after that, the nice people at the hospital removed one of my rotting meat tubes and the Maggotkin Battletome was released. The book was subsequently delivered to me by a senior hospital staff member who had personally collected it from the Warhammer shop where it was put aside by a conscientious Warhammer person for me. Yes way.

Coincidence? Or am I perhaps a harbinger of despair, Papa’s herald?

I’ll let you be the judge… although sadly, I don’t think that I have the chin for it.

Whenever I read the words “Sloppity Bilepiper” in my head, I do it to the tune of “Paperback Writer”. No reason.

I haven’t painted many Nurgle figures since I worked on my “Sin Eaters” Plague Marine army twenty years ago, but I figured that a malign portent of such immaculate timing should be heeded. Therefore I began working on Maggotkin soon after that fateful day. But mostly just because I felt like doing it.

I have an upcoming campaign planned with the swelling Maggotkin force, some thoughts on which I touched upon recently.


Over the following months, in between various other things, some Nurgle related, others not, I began to fixate on the guy above, Gutrot Spume, a pirate of Nurgle.

Spume be a talkin’ like a pirate, smellin’ like a pirate and generally actin’ the scallywag like a pirate for a while now. He has in-game rules where he shows up, all sudden like, with his scurvy Blight King crew – The Drowned Men – in a daring assault from his suitably daft flagship, the “Lurska”.

Not Spume, but a glorious colour Nurgle pirate piece from Mark Gibbons.

This sort of thing is appealing to me in games, so I started to include some pirate elements in my AoS Maggotkin, just for an excuse to talk like a pirate, which I am, sadly, not very good at. Eye-patch, grog, me buckos.

While imagining what huge, fat, rotting, magical pirates might look like while swinging from a flying ship, feet first into cranky treepeople, I remembered that the 1993 Games Workshop game “Man O’ War” featured Nurgle ships.

Plagueship, not “Plaqueship” as I saw some dentally obsessed person call it recently. The same person probably calls bin liners “refuge sacks”.

theottovonbismark has been trying to convince me to play Man O War since 2001, but we never got it off the ground.

I bought Dreadfleet when it came out, but painting the entire contents of the box never hspoened, no matter how glorious the contents were. Sadface.

Beautiful Dreadfleet, I will one day play a fully painted version of thee…

All the same, one evening I decided to innocently ask Captain Crooks, a known antipodean Man O’ War enthusiast, if he knew roughly how many models a Nurgle fleet might require and, seeing as they are out of production for some time now, how much that number of ships might cost.

When I turned my phone on the following morning, the Captain had not only worked out those details for me, but had also negotiated a good price for 80% of the models and had worked out a plan to get the final 20% of the fleet delivered to airbornegrove, for later exchange. They be good lads, an’ no mistake.

However, in order to play games in a different scale and setting, first and foremost what you need is some cinematic terrain.

Enter Michael Bay.

All terrain sets should contain a volcano. Luckily, Volcano Island has a volcano sculpted onto it.

(2) All terrain sets should have a name or names. It was decided that my MoW/Dreadfleet terrain set would be called “Michael Bay”. The terrain will also sometimes be called “Dire Straits”, as it is very small, primarily to give the impression that it is so far away from me.

Unfortunately, the artist decided to paint the mountain to look like scalding hot ketchup and baked beans are spurting all over Michael Bay.

It has been quite a while since I painted any miniatures in a scale other than 28mm, but I was looking forward to it.

Some nice summer weather made the prospect of painting outdoors appealing and practical, and with terrain being the handiest thing to work on outdoors, I decided to work hard on Michael Bay all weekend.

White Dwarf #382, October 2011

A little bit of guidance on how to paint something like this is never a bad thing, so I dug up the White Dwarf with the Dreadfleet painting guide. If you require advice on how to make Michael Bay look good, then I recommend getting your hands on that issue.

Castle Island, home to Lord and Lady Castle.

The Dreadfleet terrain – The Galleon’s Graveyard – is really nice. Evocative, campy, over-the-top… a lot of the things that I want in games with zombie pirates and their ilk. The various bits were a treat to work on really.

Making Michael Bay look comprised of emotionless, cold and uncaring stone is easy.

The Galleons Graveyard is made up of six islands and five shipwreck pieces. I somehow own a duplicate of one of the islands – Rocky Isle – and I also decided to paint the three sea monsters in the set alongside, so I painted fifteen pieces in all, as visible below.

Corpseface Cliff. The eponymous cliff is not visible in the shot due to some poor cinematographic planning, linked to disregard for the viewer. Typical Michael Bay.


Leviathan Island is a puzzle to me. How old is the corpse? Why build such an ostentatious building there? Leviathan Island does look like it would be a good place to visit, but alcohol could surely not be served on the premises: it’s a health and safety nightmare.


There is what appears to be a colossal human skull incorporated into “The Leviathan Bar and Grill or whatever it is. I decided not to paint it like it was also made of bone as I thought that would be ridiculous.


Skull Island, where Peter Jackson went to reside after making the Hobbit movies, is visible along with Rocky Isle and Rocky Isle 2/Craggy Isle and the rest of the more prominent parts of Michael Bay.


I painted the shipwrecks to look a bit like corporeal shipwrecks, rather than the g-g-g-ghostly shipwreck motif in the studio colour scheme.


L to R: Leech Wyrm, Sea Giant, Bone Hydra. I added bases to these because they kept falling over. The putty work on the “waves” is very crude, but I think that I know how to make it a bit better next time. Take note Michael Bay, I’m learning not to endlessly repeat the same creative mistakes.

So that’s why this post is about some plastic fantasy islands, rather than more familiar fare.

It also explains why, conceptually (and maybe really, who knows?) Dire Straits feeds seamen into Michael Bay. It’s due to tides or because Michael Bay needs to be fed seamen in order to economically thrive or the moons gravity or something.


31 Responses

  1. Ok, so many deep thinks about this.
    1. On the one hand, Man O War is one of the best games GW ever released. Going all in with Crooks makes me green w envy.
    2. However, indulging in that, shouldn’t preclude the pursuit of building a ship (or 3) for 28mm and using your current lineup of pestilence challenged heroes. Heck, the desire to play with our 28mm stuff on space ships is what led to the insanity on mine and groves blogs.
    I love small scale ship games, but I also have 3 sailing ships that fought when the ORIGINAL “General’s Compendium” was released with rules and building guides for 28mm scale fantasy ship battles.

    In any event, your terrain looks amazing, and I am envious of your future adversaries in Michael Bay.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the kind words Will. I didn’t know that you were such a big fan of MoW, although I did know that it has a small but dedicated fanbase.

      As for 28mm ships, I have been mulling over the idea for a while now. The standard that you and Grove have set for that sort of thing is absurdly high, quite possibly globally uniquely so, really, so I would have to aim for something a little smaller and easier to store. But the appeal is big.

      I read the Generals Compendium ship rules last week as it happens, more as an effort to soak up what I think would and would not work in that sort of game. There is something extremely appealing about adding a ship to my 28mm force.

      I am still in the research stage of the process, but I am leaning towards a fairly rapid, simple greebling of an existing toy ship and then a very basic paint job, rather than a fully painted kit or kitbash. More research required, but a finished, adequate, sturdy ship model trumps an overambitious, abandoned project.

      Amusingly, I think bringing Michael Bay to you would be more practical than bringing the likes of the Shelley or the Cereberus to me. After what you two have achieved in the last six months, all of these things seem that bit more achievable.

      Thanks for the feedback Will. Watch this space.


  2. Lovely looking terrain mate. Job well done!

    I think that William might be onto something there with his 28mm ship comment.

    Iโ€™ve got an mdf pirate sloop juts begging to be pressed into service.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Spevna! The terrain required limited precision, so was an easy way to churn a few bits out. It was good practice for me to work in a green/brown/grey spectrum too.

      As concepts go, 28mm fantasy pirate gaming is a tough one to ignore Spevna. A sloop sounds more like my level than the crazy alpha stuff from Will and Grove, but I’m perfectly happy to ride their coat tails.


  3. I enjoyed this post. The Dreadfleet terrain is for perfect Man O War, where some ships carry cannons so big that physics demands they would drive the ship a fathom deep were they ever fired. I’m eagerly awaiting my Khorne ships to make port so I can prepare them for some hard action in Michael Bay.

    Swab those decks (with blood) ye bilge rats!

    Liked by 1 person

    • MoW is the game of the cartoon that Tolkien would have written if he worked for Hanna Barbera in the 1970s. As such, terrain that doesn’t feature something outlandish had better have a very good reason for being.

      Khorne strikes me as a faction well suited to Michael Bay: usually poorly characterised and one dimensional. You can break the mould with yours, have a Khorne guy that likes three things, rather than exclusively blood and skulls.

      I’m glad that the post entertained. It is pretty silly ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Nice work, and I look forward to vicariously enjoying some adventures across Michael Bay. In case you wonder what all the terrain would like like if were not coated in and/or made entirely from skulls, you can see it on Gabbi’s excellent blog at https://gabbigames.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/elementi-scenici-per-dystopian-wars/.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Gabbi did a nice job on those.

      The skull motif on Citadel Miniatures is fine with me. In almost all cases, it doesn’t bother me a jot, and sometimes I like it. Even if I didn’t like the skulls, I still wouldn’t be bothered trying to remove them. The eventual logical conclusion of that sort of behaviour would be to trim all of the extreme elements off the models, which would leave nothing. Better off spending that effort working on additional pieces, rather than editing the skulls out.

      I quite like the Scooby Doo vibe that the Galleon’s Graveyard has. I think that it looks better with the skulls in fact. The mat and the terrain each have a pretty strong Saturday morning cartoon vibe, which I like.

      That rig that Gabbi has looks great and would fit in rather well with some of the more industrialised factions in MoW I think, perhaps with a few tweaks here and there. I must look into the Dystopian Wars terrain.

      A whole new world of nautical warfare is opening in front of me at the moment, it’s fun! Hopefully some of that enthusiasm will come through and entertain you in future updates Argentbadger ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Very entertaining post. I like that there is a point (a giant human skull) where it actually becomes too ridiculous. Great scenery too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh, lampshading the skulltastic aspect of the Galleon’s Graveyard is part of the fun.

      There have been some inquiries about the availability of the Leviathan Grill for private events: graduations, bar mitzvahs, eleventy-firsts etc, since the blogs publication. The decor doesnt seem to be putting people off. I expect that a lot of visitors stand close to camera, posing in such a way that it looks like they are holding a normally sized skull. Those crazy pirates.

      I’m glad that you liked the post Warburton. Sometimes I sort of vomit them out and worry about whether they are actually any good at a later date. Sometimes it works ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant post mate – punning on Dire Straights is solid rock, but there is nothing wrong with having a navel base full of discharged seamen… Arrrrgh!!

    But seriously… Great looking terrain dude, and a great project concept. To think that all this motivation came about as a result of a popped appendix… one wonders if you have any other inspirational evolutionary hangovers you can afford to rupture!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe I will shave off my sparse, scruffy tufts of shoulder hair and see what happens. I might end up playing chess… or scratch building a set of Jenga out of chicken bones.

      Its a pretty meandering post. I considered that I may not be able to make it tie together coherently, but I think that it worked out reasonably well. Im glad that it made sense.

      Will you be at BOYL this year Alex? Hopefully I will see you there ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes sir, I’ll be there, and I’m very much looking forward to catching up with folks such as your fine self. Fingers crossed we’ll get to chuck some dice!

        Oh, and chicken bone Jenga sounds awesome by the way – that should be a thing for sure…

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Looks great. I can imagine viewing it from my Michael Bay Window, from where it is always either sunset, or sunrise, and there is a helicopter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks theodinson! The islands were a doddle really, with low accuracy levels required for about 90% of the work. Low investment, high return, completed with time remaining for grog and timber shivering.

      Depending on where you are in the Mortal Realms, its possible to see a simultaneous sunset and sunrise, and the dwarfs that fly the gyros that look like commemorative Riverdance bubble bath bottles made the transition from the Old World, so its, like totally possible maybe.

      I think that Team America said it best about that creative vacuum anyway.


  8. Looks great. Man O’War is a nother game I bought and played once, maybe. I was able to find a lot of the game plus expansions, but have stopped looking for ships for now due to price. Your work is inspiring and I should break out my stuff. I also want to play Warhammer Ahoy some day. I have the seeds of a scenario in mind. Some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Seรกn!

      I have been reading the Warhammer Ahoy rules too as it happens, as part of the research stage of a project like this. That sort of game does have a lot of appeal, although you need to know a man like Grove in order to really have the room for something like that to be done properly.

      That said, there a plenty of ways to incorporate a 28mm ship into game that are perhaps not as reliant on actually manoeuvring the ship(s). And I may, all of a sudden, have a lead on a suitable 28mm ketch…


  9. A herald has been summoned! Father Nurgle has spoken and blessed you with his grace.
    No, seriously, I hope you recovered and everything goes well.
    The terrain is awesome! All the pieces are truly charming and full of details. Dreadfleet is somehow underrated; I painted the whole damn thing back in the day and only got to play a couple of times. I hope you get luckier with Man O’War! Looking forward to seeing what you do over here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have recovered fully at this point, although it took far longer than I expected, because ageing sucks. Thanks for asking though Suber ๐Ÿ™‚

      I had forgotten that you painted a set of Dreadfleet. Did you blog about it? I have vague memories that suggest that you did… but memories are not facts… not for gentlemen of my vintage.

      I have given a friend a number of the Dreadfleet ships to work on while he waits for his Man O’ War miniatures to arrive. I’m currently painting the Skabrous too. The possibility of having the full set painted is far higher than it was a month ago and I’m definitely going to try to get it played at some point. I’m certain that we will get a few laughs out of it.

      My blogging pattern is erratic at the moment – I am painting far more than I blog right now – but I will almost certainly be keeping the blog up to date on Man O’ War developments. Hopefully you will get a bit of entertainment out of it ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. Actually, I do not like the current Nurgle models (neither AoS or 40K) as, as much as I love excessive models as anyone else, the current line is just “too much” to me. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to your take on Gutrot Spume.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Variety is the spice of life, everyone is entitled to their opinion and of course, some people are simply wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜€

      I understand why aspects of the modern Citadel aesthetic do not appeal, and there are definitely some designs that are too gaudy even for my, pretty gaudy tastes.

      On the other hand, Gutrot Spume doesn’t look nearly as piratical as I think that the character should. I have far more interest in a more flamboyant pirate look. I plan to make my Spume look a bit more like that, hopefully it will work out. Hopefully it will appeal to you too Gabbi ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I never got to play Man’O’War back in the day, though I’ve always been intrigued by a naval game with such a small model count set in the Warhams world. Perhaps one day…
    As for the scenery – it looks great. Very fluid painting, and a great reference to such a seminal band in Dire Straits.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Azazel.

      MoW was just an investment to far for me in my teens, but for unexpected reasons, illustrated to an extent above, it appeals right now.

      I think that I will get some fun out of it, from the research, painting and gaming sides of the project. Will I play it regularly for years? Dunno. Unlikely, but possible.

      Will I regret deciding to get into it for a while. Nope. Sometimes the heart or appendix wants what the heart or appendix wants ๐Ÿ™‚


  12. Cool stuff, love the pundemonium…

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great work on those, and also I congratulate you on your timing with the appendix… bursting it in synchronization with Eldar Codex version 7 or something would be a whole lot less interesting.

    Dreadfleet is why I do not get hobby presents from my family anymore, I got the game, and opened it and then all the internet folderol hit, and I failed a morale check and put it away.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I am familiar with that failed morale check. I even sold my original copy ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    But I bought a similarly cheap set seven years later and painted the terrain, woo! Take *that* morale check!

    I reckon a single game of Dreadfleet is in my future at least, keelhaul the begrudgers! It really is a lovely box of nice things for the piratical plastics fancier though, regardless of the qualities of the game itself.

    Thanks for the feedback Lasgunpacker!


  15. [โ€ฆ] Dire Straits Covers Michael Bay in Unexpectedย Seamen [โ€ฆ]


  16. […] O’ War project has been making good headway over the last couple of months, with work on the Dire Straits,ย  and Michael Bay providing backdrops for photographing the Monsters of the Sea and the Beasts of […]


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