All the soldiers, monsters and elves in his model armies are individuals because Dr Troy Clifford of North Lakes Family Smile in Queensland created them that way.
“Most dentists get a hobby that’s very different from what they do at work. Whether it’s golf or diving or winemaking, it’s usually something that offers a bit of relief from the fine motor skills that are constantly in use during clinic hours. I like to relax by painting miniature models. It’s something I started doing right out of high school. I became a dentist because of my passion for fine motor skills—the hobby was first and the career came second.
“There’s a whole world of miniature war-gaming with the best known being Warhammer 40,000. I was involved with this scene, painting the figures and using them for tournament gaming. I won a sackful of trophies and went as far as I could. Now I stick mostly to painting.
“At the moment I have 11 armies and each one consists of about 150 pieces. I also have hundreds of other individual pieces I painted and display. I’m one of those people who don’t go to bed until 2am, so from about 9pm on, I’m painting. I’m often painting six projects at the same time on the same table. It’s very easy to spend three hours on an individual model. Most of my rumpus room is dedicated to my hobby with a table, full rack of paints and all the bits and pieces.
“I love the aesthetic of miniatures. There’s castles and battlements you can buy and it’s possible to get stuff 3D printed. I like making dioramas with their own little dramas and conflicts being displayed.
“I don’t like miniatures that are straight off the shelf but prefer customising them. I went through a period where I refused to have a single miniature in an army that was the same as another. When you’re doing that for 150 pieces, you need a bit of creativity. I have boxfuls of leftover bits and pieces, and I use them to randomise and adapt each figure. It adds a nice personal touch to everything I’m doing.
“When I’m at work, I’m driven to get an end result that makes me proud. When I paint a miniature and someone says, ‘wow, tell me how you did that’, it’s very satisfying. By investing time, effort and skill, you create something that didn’t previously exist. It’s unique and wonderful—and it looks very cool.”