If there is one villain in Lord of the Rings that I really like, it is Saruman the White. Once he was an important member of the White Council, leader of the five wizards in Middle Earth and general cool dude. But after he finds the seeing stone he becomes enthralled by Sauron, obsessed with power and secretly plotting to bring down the realms of mankind. What Saruman does not seem to realise, is the fact that he has become a mere puppet of Sauron. A mere actor in the Dark Lords devilish plans to conquer the entire continent of Middle Earth.
So if Saruman becomes such a foolish person, why do I like him? Because Saruman shows us our own human weaknesses. The fact that an overly ambitious person can become blind to him own faults. And the way that we can be easily be manipulated into doing things we would normally deem wrong. In other words, of all the characters in the world of Lord of the Rings, Saruman is the most ‘human’ person. Although I have to admit that Boromir also makes a very good claim.
In the Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, Saruman also fills a double role. On one hand we have the ‘good’ Saruman, who can be used in scenarios featuring the White Council. While on the other hand, Saruman can be used as a character in the Uruk-hai armies of Isengard. By any standards, Saruman is a rather powerful characters. His wizard staff granting him an extra dice each turn for magic spells and his ability to boost other, nearby models.
The models for Saruman are also rather nice. His many layered cloaks giving him a near regal stature, while his face is resembles actor Christopher Lee in an uncanninly way. As I like painting maybe even more than gaming, Saruman offers quite a challenge. Painting a proper ‘white’ model is in my opinion one of the most challenging tasks in figurine painting. White quickly looks grey or beige, and to have a ‘light’ coloured model look right therefore rather difficult. Luckily, Saruman’s clothing is not entirely white, which makes painting easier, but it still is a nice challenge.
I have now painted two Saruman models. And because they are identical models, it is always nice to look back and see if you have improved anything. And I must say that, although I like my first attempt, I think that the years have be graceful to my painting skills. The second model (the top image) just seems to have more depth to it and because of that seems even more imposing than the older and paler model (the lower image).
Concluding, I have to say that I feel an itch coming up to paint a Gandalf the White model and see if my skills on painting light colours have improved. Though I’m afraid Gandalf will not look as good. The Gandalf the White models just lack something compaired to Saruman, they look more ‘flat’, less regal and imposing. And as I have not painted a lot of models lately, some of my ‘automatism’ might have faded also. We will see though, maybe things will turn out right and I’ll end up with a great model for any (half) Fellowship, Rohan or Gondor force.