Vlad and Isabella Von Carstein

Isabella and Vlad en route to the Kislev opera.

Interview With the Vampire (1994) +
Warhammer Fantasy Battle (4th edition, 1992) +
The Addams Family (1991) +
Married With Children (1987 – 1997) =
Dark, ostentatious majesty / camp, sit-com horror =
Ultimate 1990s =
Two of my favourite GW miniatures, now finally painted, 29 years later.

JB from Leadplague ran painting event on the Oldhammer Facebook group this month. The events that JB runs are a celebration of the shared fondness that toy soldier geeks of certain vintages and persuasions have for the work of a particular artist, and a good excuse to paint something that I should have painted years ago.

This time the spotlight was on Gary Morley’s work. Even with strong Morley back catalogue figures like Karloth Valois and The Redeemer waiting for paint in my to-do pile, for me, right now, the choice had to be Warhammer‘s premiere power couple in their original 1994 incarnation.

I have a love/hate relationship with vampires. I tend to find the concepts and execution overblown, predictable, stupid, melodramatic and mildly embarassing…
all simultaneously pros and cons.

The genre is tough to parody well – although at each of their bests “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” did solid jobs of it. I think that the satire in those shows works for a couple of reasons:
1) it comes from an enthusiasts position, rather than from a that of a sneering outsider and
2) things like “Interview With the Vampire” (1994), a very much loved movie adaptation of a very much loved book are in practice, only a hairs breadth from being a triple-A-rated, no-holds-barred, works of parody genius.

So, is my enjoyment of the vampire oeuvre a sneering “irony”, or 100% honest enthusiasm? The answer to both questions is “yes”. I named one of my cats after Isabella Von Carstein after all, and I do like her.

Izzy in a Castle Grayskull box.

Therfore, these classic miniatures sum up my vampire dichotomy nicely.
Are they majestic? Yes.
Are they absurd? Yes.
Do I think that they look cool? Yes
Do I think that they look ridiculous? Well they are standing in a battlefield, dressed for the opera so yes, definitely, but it’s also unquestionably badass.
Do Vlad and Bella take themselves seriously? 100%.

Unsed to both photography and daylight, the Von Carsteins manage to overexpose their money shot. Nice work 😦

These figures sum up all of my contrary feelings on the subject, in lovely, clean 1990s metal lines. Now that I have done my best to do the designs justice with paint and some bungled photos, all that I have left to do is put these wondrous, complex avatars of pop culture on a gaming table and have Byron Maiden attempt to hunt them down. Current plans are to use Fistful of Lead: Tales of Horror for that.

Coming soon…

Thanks for reading!

21 Responses

  1. Great painting on those two, I like Isabella especially – I painted mine about 29 years ago but seeing yours has made me want to revisit it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely job mate – campy, kitch and fabulous all at the same time 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can only echo all the reasons stated above why I love these two. Add a tremendous paint job and MWAH! Delightful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The approval of a connoisseur of teeny-weeny avatars of imaginary living dead people like yourself, is always welcome Dave!

      Some witch/vampire hunting games are upcoming, they will be your cup-of-o-positive I expect πŸ™‚


  4. Love it! They are a very Eurovision style of vampire. Also love that Izzy gif, you can practically hear the “prrrrrbpt” every time she pops up πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eurovision Vamp is a toy soldier theme that I could get behind.

      Izzy is as friendly a cat found beside a petrol station as could be tracked down I think Mikko. The GIF would have been nearly as appropriate for the post on Castle Grayskull Wasteland terrain I suppose, but it fit better here. She is named after the Isabella Von Carstein shown above, and no other… although in-universe Isabella may or may not have liked Izzy.
      I would like to get that Lahmian vampire miniature with the cat some day. I can imagine a Lahmian vampire calling her cat after a Von Carstein as a trans-national, socio-political jibe πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. They look fantastic. I love the reds you worked in there, even on the base! Great work!

    Also glad I’m not the only one with a love/hate relationship with Vamps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you mentioned the base actually Hobbs, because I went out of my way to make the red flowers on on the base appear to be wilting, old school Dracula movie style, the closer they are to the vampires. Although there are plenty of other elements to this project with room for improvement, the photography is the weakest element here, and means that the wilting flowers are too tough to see, I think. That said, overall I am still very pleased with the pair.

      As for vampires… *such* drama queens. Part of me enjoys the melodrama in entertaining vampire media, but if the vampire TV show (or movie or book or whatever) is already iffy, then by-the-numbers vampire drama is excruciating. So yeah, I like vampires, but terms and conditions apply.

      Thanks for the feedback Hobbs!


  6. What a magnificent work with such a restricted palette and how you did get all the serious and all the cheesy on both characters. Wow, I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The restricted palette was a personal goal for these two: I wanted them to be unquestionably classic vampires. Essentially, that means red, black and white. I wasn’t originally even going to go for the blue-white that I used on the hair, but in the end I though that the figures would lack definition on the table in games unless I added it, so I conceded to that. In addition, I have very rarely seen that Isabella model in anything but a dark grey-green dress, and a red outfit made sense. The fade from red to black was fun and fairly straightforward, and again added a bit of interest.

      As for serious and cheesy, Bella and Vlad take themselves 100% seriously and cant even imagine anyone regarding them as more pompous, OTT or melodramatic that necessary. There is definitely humour in people like that.

      As mentioned earlier, the photos really do let these two down a bit. They are definitely not perfect paint-jobs, but they do look a little better in hand then the photos make them appear. I will have to make more effort with photography.

      Thanks for the feedback Suber!


  7. It’s hard to not overexpose a photo of people with totally white skin… Great work on these two fang opera stars.πŸ˜„ Every red is like blood, every black is like midnight (and that gradient on her dress is perfect, damn)

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are just great sculpts of characterful tropes, aren’t they Al? I find myself talking like Count Von Count when ever I look at them.

      Undead and in particular vampires often use a specific palette. For whatever reasons, I don’t think that I have ever seen Isabella in a red gown, so the rest of it keyed off that really.

      The gradient on the dress was simply Contrast “Black Templar” paint glazed over the red in ever decreasing amounts into a small bit of regular black paint at the bottom. Close to zero precision required, just drying time. Easy, but effective I think.

      I appreciate the feedback Allison, thanks.


  8. White hair over white skin is a bold choice that I think you pulled off really well here – when I think of peak over-the-top vampire hairdos I think of Gary Oldman in Dracula, but I feel like there’s a new contender for the throne with your blue rinse widow’s peak mullet combo.

    I’m glad you decided to join in the #justiceforgary comp, this was one of the iconic entries in my mind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was mildly stunned (is “mild stunning” possible?) that more Vlad and Bella combos didn’t appear in that event, as they are 100% definitive of that era to me. Those models are iconic before anybody starts daubing paint on them.

      The big hair on Bella is presumably directly influenced by Oldman in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992), the miniatures being released in 1994 and possibly sculpted in 1992 or 1993 (I can’t remember what was on the tab). If that hairdo was good enough for Mr Burns in Treehouse of Horror, then it was good enough for Citadel.

      I’m delighted that I disrupted my other projects to paint these two really. As you know, I had been talking about painting those two for a very long time, so using Asslessman’s event to get the ball rolling made sense.

      The Bazpaz and I even have a gothic horror game coming up next week as a direct result of painting these. That’s a win no matter what.

      Thanks for the feedback Captain!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. They look great – and like myself I can see how their hair has shown the ages of time since the 1990’s! Your lovely work here kind of makes me want to fish Bella out from whereever she’s hiding, unpainted. I’m not 100% sure if I have Vlad as well. That would be a search through the undead boxes for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

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