Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

Following on from one big bear with a second big bear – this time it’s Ursa Major from Marvel Crisis Protocol – a game I’ve wanted to, you know, actually play for a long time (and I keep seeing great looking MCP models from Eric, The Solo Meeple and Argentbadger) but I haven’t actually put in the work to get any models finished since February 2022 – until now!

Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

Ursa Major is/was a member of the Soviet Super Soldiers in the comics who are apparently now called the Winter Guard because of that whole Soviet Union collapse thing that happened a little while ago. They appear to be sometimes-heroes, sometimes villains – basically the Soviet/Russian version of The Avengers, but with a bit more “official government oversight and direction” – which is a bit extra yikes in 2022-23.

Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

I admit I’d never heard of this character until I got the model pack for MCP – that’s largely because my main comics reading years were in the mid-late 1980’s through to somewhere in the 1990’s – even then my main books were the Spidey titles, The Punisher and the Various X-Men books along with a smattering of other Marvel titles here and there along with Dredd, Donald Duck, and Vertigo titles. Eventually I lost interest in the Marvel comics particularly amongst the multiple title cancellations with new Issue 0’s with seven alternate gold foil leaf, black and white, holographic, and prismatic covers. Even when I got interested in coming back every few years I saw things like Mephisto retconned Peter Parker’s marriage to MJ out of existence, the Peter Parker that I’d read for years was apparently a clone, and other bullshit on an equally WTF level across different titles – so I just noped right out every time I tried to take a step back in.

Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

Anyway – Ursa Major. This was not a good model to paint. Unfortunately the fur is not really sculpted onto the model in a useful way for painters. It’s more softly implied across the different parts of the bear. The problem I believe is that Atomic Mass Games has little experience making miniatures, and so they have hired talented 3D model designers who lilkely have no experience in the miniatures hobby – so when you look at the renders blown up on a monitor they look great – but when downscaled you end up with soft or disappeared details. This lack of experience can also be seen pretty evidently in the number of parts and where the parts are separated on so many of their models. I think they’d do well by hiring an experienced designer from GW to manage/supervise their team – keep the scale and proportions, but create the models with a bit more of the end-user in mind rather than how they look as renders. Luckily AMG have talented painters on staff who are able to hide their models’ flaws.

Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

Artwork of old Ursa shows him as a rather bright, yellowy-brown bear, so I used the same overall palette as the Zombicide Abominabear shared in the last post. Since the model really lacked that sharp definition, I really leaned into trying to use shadows and different browns to emphasise his musculature. So anyway, despite a less-than-enjoyable process that had me painting so many of the highlight-hairs across the model with a 000 brush, I’m pretty happy with the end result.

33 thoughts on “Marvel Crisis Protocol: Ursa Major

  1. He’s great mate, nice job in using the paint to add in the missing detail! Seems flawed as a character concept though – where does he keep his stuff? Like keys & phone – y’know, the bare necessities?

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  2. Before we read your text and having only seen the photos, we immediately thought: “Ah, this is what that giant bear looked like before the ‘special treatment’…”. Instead it’s another bear, a superhero we’ve never heard of, to be honest.
    The fur looks fantastic, and the quality of the paintjob immediately caught our eye as we entered our dog/beast man project. Before painting the individual hairs with a small brush, what were the phases of your work? What colors did you use? Could you give us some suggestions?

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    • This bear was a tricky one – I started by spaying him black, then several layers (3 or 4) of incresingly zenithal sprays with slowly-lighter shades of brown through to desert yellow/buff (using spray cans). I then glazed the dark patch on his back using various thinned mixes of Vallejo Panzer Grey surface primer and Vallejo Model Colour 70.826 German Camo Medium Brown (a great colour).
      I also used some glazes of same to “enhance” the musculature as well as thinned Army Painter Strong Tone.
      Then “patchy” highlights of Panzer Aces Old Wood 310, VMC Desert Yellow 70.977 and into Reaper Blond Highlight 09258 for those final lines of brush stroked that you can see work as the final “edge highlight” .

      Most Beastmen/Gnolls/etc won’t require this sort of work, as they should msotly have better defined fur, so you can use similar colours and be okay without having to recreate a fur effect with the brush – or simply paint them with a human skin tone of whatever shade and fur patches, but I hope this helps!

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  3. Your painting has hidden the lack of detail on the sculpt perfectly mate, it’s funny what you mention about their sculptors, as Forgeworld have had similar problems with new sculptors who only know 3D sculpting, and the old guard would rather they hire, traditional sculptors and teach them how to sculpt with 3D

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    • Yeah, I think it would even be useful if up and coming 3D sculptors applying to work for larger companies like Asmodee’s subsidiaries were, let’s say “encouraged” to build and paint a variety of models from different manufacturers. This way they could gain a hobbist’s perspective of what works and doesn’t work well from the end-user perspective it might be really helpful in their professional development as sculptors.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Firstly, thanks for the nod, but to be thrown in with Solo and Badger, as well as yourself, I am humbled. To that end, Ursa came out fantastic! I think what you’re struggling with it that AMG is going for a comic book-like look, a for fur comics rarely go full artsy. Go have a look at Beast, just a few hints here and there, the rest is implied with smooth areas.
    Also – I would say our experiences with Marvel or DC or any other comic are from the same general timeframe and tastes. The vast majority of these Characters I’ve only heard of tangentially or not at all!
    Again, lovely work!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you and no worries at all mate – the number of times I’ve looked at post from any of the three of you (even if I don’t immediately like & comment – typically because I’m on my phone) and wanted to work on a MCP model in that moment is… well, quite a bit!
      I know what you mean, but there’s quite a few odd decisions across the AMG models that I tend to put down to inexperience with the medium. Usually extra parts that are unnecessarily seperate pieces. Zemo’s elbow pads for example! The fur seems a bit like that in that it’s so shallow it’s really hard for people to make it look like fur as opposed to …uh.. maybe velvet?
      That sounds about right for the characters, so when it comes down to newer characters that I’m mostly familiar with via the MCU, I’ll end up giving them MCU paint rather than comic paint – Drax will be a prime example. other times it’ll be an amalgam of comic and MCU outfits (and likely accurate to neither!) 😀

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  5. Yep, I immediately recognized the one! My first question was going to be whether there was any texture to work off of, and you answered that one! I’d say you did an amazing job getting the fur on there with your brush strokes. I also really like the colors you’ve used. A bit different from your other bear mini as well. As for the character, I think they were created in the 70s and made a few appearances in the 80s. Most of the time you would see them in Iron Man or the Avengers. I think a few of the Soviet Super-Soldiers also appeared in the Hulk too. Basically it started with the Russian Iron Man “Crimson Dynamo”, and then I think someone decided to make the rest of the team. But I can’t say they have been as popular as other villains. I think you got out of comics at the right time. I think I got out just a bit before that, and have never really returned to mainstream DC or Marvel. Most the people I know who have gone back to comics are reading more ‘indie’ stuff or going back to the classic superhero stuff through graphic novels reprints or digital.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Faust! I’d ask how you recognised him, but I guess it’s the human powerlifter musculature on a bear’s frame! 😀
      They *do* feel like “Red Scare” era villains of course, so the timeframe fits – also I was aware of CD when I was buying comics (I had a short run with Iron Man, including the “Demon in a Bottle” arc.) Is Ursa the Soviet Hulk “strongman archetype?” of the Red-vengers?
      I haven’t ever really come back to comics, but that’s largely due to a combination of cost (per issue) and (available reading) time. I can’t even keep up with the MCU these days!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, the stance, the body shape. Though he could have easily been a Zombicide Werebear too! But since you recently did two Marvel characters, I was tipped off! 😉 Yep, definitely Red Scare villains. You also have to remember that comics tend to lag behind the times. Especially in fashion styles. Many of the heroes were sporting bell bottoms (in their civilian clothes) well into the 80s. Most comics artists were old white guys who didn’t keep up with the times.
        So, here’s where it gets a little weird. Ursa Major looks pretty huge and it’s easy to think he must be the strong-person of the group. BUT according to the Marvel Handbook, he can only lift 1 ton in bear form. Whereas Crimson Dynamo can lift 50 tons. Good ol Spidey can lift 10 tons. So yea, not exactly the Hulk in the group. Though I imagine different writers probably increased his strength where needed.
        Yea, I know you spend lots of time painting minis (and it shows in quality and quantity!). If I was to recommend one series though it would likely be Walking Dead. You seem to like zombies, which is a plus. My brother told me to read Walking Dead, for over a year. I kept pushing him off. I’m not crazy about Zombies or horror. The I found it it’s in black and white. Strike two. Long story short, I eventually read it, and after getting past the part where the artist changes (for the better) found myself in a situation where I just couldn’t put it down. It’s basically a story about human survival and the cruelty we are capable of. If you’ve watched or heard about the show, then you might already know most of it, but the comic is so much better than the show and goes in different directions from my understanding (I didn’t find the tv series very good and dumped it early on). It’s also a really quick read, which is why I’d say give it a shot. But yea, time is a factor for all of us and there is only so much of it in a day! So I totally understand.

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      • Yeah, that makes total sense especially given your familiarity with the faction and yeah – the fact that I’ve been doing the Marvel minis lately. Darkstar won’t be a surprise once I get her finished I guess – but there are a few more to come from this month once I write the posts and edit the photos and such. You’re right on the comic fashions – not something i was all that aware of when reading them as a teen – especially when I reached back quite a few years into the back issues for my collection rather than simply waiting for the next issue(s) of my main books.

        The Marvel Handbooks and such are pretty funny, since they tend to be way off, especially for those older comics. When I looked up Ursa, there’s panels showing him holding the Hulk in a full nelson, which seems preposterous when you look at the handboosk and “official” stats, etc. I recall years and years ago reading an interview with a former Spider-Man writer who was discussing how he just kind of kept making Spidey stronger and stronger as needed for the storey, and he would have probably eventually had him be as strong as or stronger than the Hulk.

        I’ll look into at least getting hold of TWD. I know it’s been incredibly popular in both mediums (still haven’t had time to watch an episode, though I have the series here). Something else to add to the backlog! 😉

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  6. Two bears in a row! I wonder how long you can keep this streak going! 🙂 I can totally see what you mean on the sculpt. The fur detail is lacking and that makes it so the painter has to do a lot of hard work to try and fix it, unfortunately. You did a great job with the sculpt and I don’t envy the painting process you had to follow for this one either.

    In terms of comics, there are some great ones out there but what I would recommend someone to do is to find either the best comics that are made for their taste or to find writers and artists who they like and follow their work as they see fit. DC and Marvel crank out comics like clockwork and while they try their best, every character has good and bad issues which makes it hard to read in the way that I think issues were meant to be consumed (every month or bi-weekly, whichever shipping schedule the book follows). A better way to put it is that you may not want to follow just one character even if it is your favorite because you may not enjoy the way a certain writer handles them. I’ve had that happen with a character I love like Daredevil quite a bit.

    There are great comic stories that have been told since you stopped reading but you have to be a bit selective and hunt them down. Otherwise, you’ll end up reading a fair bit of average to mediocre comics and probably wish you spent your time and money in some other way. That’s my two cents anyway! I’d be curious to hear how your experiences reading comics goes too if you ever decide to dip back into it.

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    • The bear streak lasted for two whole posts, as you would have seen – but we’re now on a 2-post streak of Marvel Soviet hero/villains – so we’ll see how long this one lasts…

      Ursa definitely fits into the category of one of those models that wasn’t fun to paint but ended up satisfying to have complete.

      Last year I ended up …acquiring a large number of digital comics for …research and educational purposes. Mostly ones I own in physical form but are currently in storage. I didn’t get much of a chance to read any of them, but perhaps one day I’ll get back to them. It’d be good to read through the “Classic X-men” and “X-factor” books again. I also enjoyed Excalubur quite a lot back in the day. I’ve got a huge run of Daredevil comics – most (all?) of Frank Miller’s run in storage as well. Thanks to MCP I now know that “Shadowlands Daredevil” is a thing.
      along with “Agent Venom”…. 👀

      The question with comics is really “what’s good?” and “by whose standards?” There’s a lot of the new Marvel stuff that I see from a distance that looks pretty awful. Not “You ruined my childhood and I’m going to rage on the internet like a man-baby!”, but “uh… ok. You go enjoy that and I’ll just stay over here.”

      I do have 90 hardcover volumes of Judge Dredd The Mega Collectionthat Marouda bought me to read, along with the HC TPB of Batman: Three Jokers so I guess I’ll start with those…

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      • Those are a good place to start for sure! Shadowlands was not a good time for Daredevil at all… I would recommend reading Bendis and Maleev’s run on Daredevil. It is probably the closest in spirit to Frank Miller’s run (though I haven’t gone back and read that to be fair). Agent Venom was actually really cool but it didn’t last very long. It was years ago when I read it but I think they pulled the writer (Rick Remender) off of it when it was just starting to really get good. There were probably 3-4 volumes where it was great and then I’d bet the character has never really been good since then. If you like the X-Men, giving Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon a try. There are four volumes and it is some of the best X-Men writing since 2000.

        Marvel is guilty of throwing stuff against a wall to see what sticks so there are a lot of goofy new characters, many of which don’t really end up making any kind of impact.

        All this is to say, I agree that its hit or miss and not everything that is critically acclaimed will be your cup of tea. I prefer non-superhero comics (besides Hellboy) but there are good superhero comics worth reading. Not that you need more to read, it sounds like 🙂

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      • I may have some of those in my digital collection. I’ll have to check when I have more time and the inclination to read. At least it’ll be easy to find your recommendations in the comments to Marvel figures at the start of the year!

        I know that Marvel was really flailing around after the bubble burst, which was when they solf off all their film IP rights, and even post-MCU the comic wing of the company really just seems to be a “throw it against the wall” IP factory for the MCU films – and in turn – merch (which is where the money really is!)

        The first time I “came back” to comics after I stopped the first time was when I got into my Vertigo and the like phase – Sandman / Mystery Theatre, Hellblazer, Hellboy, later on, Preacher. I stopped buying the Gladstone Duck books for a final time when they changed the cover paper to cheap unglossy stuff that was far more prone to damage.

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