Sunday, 15 April 2018

Unreleased Foundry/Citadel Bretonnian Squire

Having a better source of natural light this morning (and bolsetered with inspiration thanks to Salute) I got to work on this rather charming figure. His history is a little confusing really, as he is one of those Foundry 'specials' that get cast up from time to time that seem to lack an obvious provenance. According to Marcus Ansell (who gave me this figure) he was sculpted by one of the Perry's and may have been part of the old Citadel Feudals range or a later purely historical one.

Despite hailing from parts unknown then, he is an amusing little figure as he has no weapon and holds, rather begrudging I must point out, a helmet for his no doubt incredibly aristocratic leige-lord. Characterful models like this are always useful, either to add flavour or narrative to a game or to act as a wound-marker.  

My other Bretonnian figures have this yellow and red livery - which is similar to the colours used by Skalitz in the excellent Kingdom Come: Deliverance PC game, which I have been playing through recently. 

Having just had a speed-painting splurge, I spent a leisurely couple of hours working on him and used my usual Foundry paints to do so. The helmet needs a little black in the visor now I have photographed him but I am pleased with the results. My eyes are beginning to struggle and I am in need of an eye test, so I found his face a little more challenging than normal. 

But age comes to us all!

I hope you like him. 


Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Speed Painted Norse Dwarf

I haven't done any real painting for ages as I have grown so sick of the deathly dull light that abounds here in England. It has been the winter that hasn't known when to stop! My eyes just are not what they used to be sadly and working in anything but bright sunlight is proving to be a struggle. I know, I know that there are loads of lamps out there on the market that might be of use to me, but I have yet to find one as good as cheap old sunlight!

Despite this, I felt like having a good crack at a model today and what better a piece that the old Norse dwarf that had been sitting on my painting shelf for goodness knows how long! Obviously not wanting to spend too long working without glorious sunshine, I decided to challenge myself to the 'speed painting' rules I have discussed in the past.

One model in one hour. And you have already seen the results. I am fairly satisfied with the finish, though the brown on the belt and chainmail edges are screaming out for a further highlight. The metalwork also could have done with a little bit of cleaning up, especially between the helmet and the chainmail on the reverse shot below. 

But I ran out of time. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A Historical Interlude: Bronze Age Clothing and Dance

Here are a further two models from the excellent (and critically overlooked) Bronze Age range from the Wargames Foundry. This series of models has long been a guilty pleasure of mine and link rather tenuously with the raison d'etre of this blog but... they were sculpted by Citadel stalwart, Michael Perry, and are cast by the Ansell family. Could anything have a purer pedigree? 

Unnecessary justifications aside, they are a characterful and unusual collection of models and one I really enjoy researching and painting up, largely due to my background in archaeology and the Bronze Age in particular. I have written about this period several times before (Egtved Girl and Bronze Age People) and will no doubt return to it again in the future. 

The male figure here must be based on the elderly man excavated from a barrow in Borum Eshoj in 1875. His inhumation was discovered alongside two others and are often considered to be a family group by prehistorians. Whether or not there is any truth to this suggestion is unknown to me as I couldn't find any recent DNA analysis of the remains (if such a process would be possible after nearly a centry and a half of modern contamination and damage) or indeed if Bronze Age notions of 'family' would be the same as our own. 

All three individuals were found encased in oak-wood coffins. Wood chips recovered during excvation suggest that these coffins were fashioned on the spot and analysis of the tree-ring evidence results in a date of 1351BC for at least two of the coffins, if not all three. These individuals have been identified as a male, aged 50-60, with a female of the same age with a final inhumation which was much younger and also male, with skeletal analysis suggesting he died in his early 20s. The burials show strong evidence of having been treated with respect and consideration, and lavish grave goods were interred alongside them suggesting these individuals could have been high status. 

These graves remain the largest single find of its kind in Denmark.

So what of the elderly man? What have us moderns learnt about his life and death and how representative are these facts on Michael Perry's figure? Let's have a look at a modern photograph of the remains and compare then with the miniature. 

The clothing preserved on the elderly man's body is very similar to that of the younger man - see my previous post about Bronze Age people to see the minitaure version of him - with a similar kidney shaped cape, kilt and round-crowned hat present. This body was so well preserved that the muscles were still holding the limbs together it had to be dismembered for transport back to Copenhagen! Despite this rather brutal treatment (not uncommon in the Victorian Age) there is much that can be learnt from him. 

His nails were will manicured and his face clean shaven when he was buried, with both pieces of evidence being present on the miniature. He lay upon a cow skin, like the other burials in the group, and was covered with a woollen blanket. Foot cloths covered his feet, consistent with the model, and a belt held up his kilt. All these textiles were fashioned from wool and the only other object on this grave was a wooden needle, which attached the cloak's collar and presumably held the garment taut below the neck. Again, this detail has been added to the model. 

Other Danish finds allude to woollen tunics as shown on the model and the illustration below is as good as representation of the style as I could find, clearly having been inspired by the Borum Eshoj group. This image also inspired the colour scheme of my paint job, though recent analysis of fabrics at Must Farm suggest that Bronze Age fabrics were much more vibrant than this and that the process of preservation often stains textiles a dark brown. Still, I liked the colour combination and stuck with in for this model. 

The female figure is clearly a second representation of the Egtved Girl model only this time she has a rather fierce counternance and is posed in such a way as to suggest dancing, with the textile hair net, skirt and sun-disk present. Though there are no physical human remains to suggest that Bronze Age women or girls dressed this way or indeed did any dancing at all, we do have a representation from Danish prehistoric art thanks to an 18th century find known now as the Grevensvaenge Hoard. 

Originally, there were seven figures recovered as part of the hoard, but now only two survive. They are first mentioned in 1779 and have been dated to between 800BC and 500BC, so the tail end of the Nordic Bronze Age. A drawing of four of the figures was made during the eigthteenth centry. This illustration shows two kneeling figures of warriors with horned helmets and axes, a standing woman and most intriguingly for us, an acrobatic figure in a strikingly similar skirt. Based on comparisons from petroglyphs from the same era and geographical location, it has been construed that the figures were once part of an ensemble arranged on a ship, and the tangs certainly promote the idea they were once affixed to something else. 

Nor is this an isolated find, other bronze figures from Scandinavia exhibit similar details. The Fardal figure (shown above) shows a seated female figure wearing the Egtved Girl's corded skirt and some kind of necklace. She is depicted holding her left breast and presumably a second object, now lost, in her right hand. Gold disks have been inserted into her eyes and these have been interpreted as another symbolic reference to sun-disk worship. 

So did they dance, as suggested by the Foundry figure and the musings of prehistorians? There is certainly evidence to support this from the metal work recovered from the period, and dancing is after all, a peculiar human trait associated with 'special times' during the year or an individual's lifetime. The 'first dance' in western wedding tradition is nothing more than that, a tradition or ritual. A clip of a modern interpretation of what this dancing may have looked like can be found here.  Still, the existence of these figures amused me considering my long fascination with toy soldiers. Our 28mm high figurines have a great deal in common with these prehistoric examples and it is funny to consider some Bronze Age Bryan Ansell type crafting these models thousands of years ago. 

I wonder which edition of Warhammer they would have preferred? 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

TL9 Talisman Philosopher

Last post I waffled on about how my next painting project was to be the Talisman Philosopher - and here he is- as I acquired him last weekend in a trade with Stuart Klatcheff and I was keen to get him painted up as soon as possible. I tinkered away at him all week (as it is half-term) and really enjoyed the leisurely pace I set for myself rather than my usual 'get 'em finished in under two hours' style. 

This miniature derives from the Talisman range (obviously) released by Citadel in 1985 in support of the 2nd Edition of the game. According to my research this philosophical chap was part of Talisman Expansion and was available in a blister alongside a barbarian and a pilgrim. What a strange bunch?

His was painted entirely with Foundry paints, save an ink wash or two and despite looking rather circumspect, he wasn't as straight forwards to finish as I was expecting. I began work on his face by giving him a 2:1 basecoat of flesh and red and highlighted by adding increasing amounts of flesh to the mix. The brightest flesh tone Foundry do (Expert triad) was then used to pick out the final highlights around the nose and checks, as well as picking out the details on the hands. His eyes were painted black and two smaller white dots were then added to the corners - my preferred method for painting human eyes. 

His beard was basecoated in grey and given a dark grey ink wash. This was then highlighted again in layers, adding incresingly brighter tones to the initial mix. I avoided using white to highlight his hair, sticking to the more subtle Boneyard C to avoid him looking too ancient and decrepid. 

His robe took me a couple of attempts to get right. I didn't want him looking too white (like the druid I painted a few years back) and again I opted for my favourite ever set of paints - Boneyard. The middle tone was used as a base and washed over with the darker tone. It was then a simple case of working up the highlights through the triad, mixing the two tones together as I worked through them. I added a few drops of water to each mix to ensure the paint flowed quite thinly onto the model and allowed the colours to blend together. I wanted to achieve a colour similar to linen and I am pleased to report that I am more than satisfied with the result.

His scroll was painted yellow and washed over with chestnut ink. I highlighted up with the yellow triad and mixed in a little Boneyard 9c into the final tone to help smooth out the colour and ensure the parchment looked like parchment. Then it was a simple case of using a brown triad to highlight up his belt and sandals. A tiny touch of gold finished off his belt buckle nicely. 

Thanks to the joys of winter, there wasn't much natural light to capture him in all his glory - but these pictures will do at a pinch. 

I hope you all like him.

Norse dwarf next!


Monday, 12 February 2018

C35 Chaos Warrior Guardsman

Eager to hear the rattle of brushes in water after the excitement of Lead of Winter last Saturday, I got back to work early Sunday morning and managed to get this figure finished off. He has been one of those 'unfinishables' for a while if I am being honest and has lurked reprovingly at the back of my bureau for some months. 

I have had this miniature for quite a few years and have no idea if he was an eBay purchase or the relic of some long forgotten exchange. He has always struck me as unusal as he doesn't seem to crop up very often. Once, in the early days of our flirtations with using Facebook to trade miniatures, some punter popped up specifically searching for him, citing him as the 'chaos judge' and to be fair he does have the whiff of the bar about him. I think it has something to do with the shape of his helmet (careful, Chico!) as from the front it does resemble the ornate whigs that lawyers seem happy to wear when defending the world's nefarious rich. 

But after about thirty-seconds research on-line, I sourced the figure to a 1985 flyer you can see below. It turns out that he is a C35 Guardsman, though clearly of the corpulant variety. 

The model clearly suffered some damage in my care and the tip of his staff had pretty much snapped away. I filed down the break and pinned it back on fairly easily and undercoated him in white. As he looked rather sickly I opted for a Nurglesque colour scheme though looking at the model now he could probably pass muster in any Slaanesh force too. 

I didn't beat about the bush either with the painting, using a variety of simple layered highlights and washes to complete everything from the rusting armour to his long padded jacket. All in all, the perfect model to get my eye back in before moving on to more challenging pieces. 

I hope you all like him. Next up, the Talisman Philosopher that I just swapped with Stuart and I am quite keen to get finished. I love wizardy type miniatures you see! 


Sunday, 11 February 2018

Lead of Winter 2018: Orlygg Rides Again (Yet Again)

Is Paul tickling that camera tripod or casting a machiavellian spell here? Probably both.
Having overcome the first back injury caused by a spot of spontaneous country dancing since at least 1892, Orlygg lurched musically back into the world of Oldhammer in a slightly stiff fashion; with his love of everything Old School Citadel, largely, intact. The Warlords of Albion gaming group met once again at the Wargames Foundry, Newark, the spiritual home of Oldhammer, on a chilly February Weekend to lark about with little lead men. 

As has become atypical, the resulting engagement was fought over the 'big table' (built by Shaun McLaughlin in 2001) who's flock has been churned up by so many of our battles - the table that is, not Shaun. Though I can point out that the table has been spruced up with a number of additional fields since the last time Warhammer Third Edition sprawled nostagically across it! 

I won't attempt to make sense of the game here, as true to form, I spent most of my time chatting to the other players and exploring the ranges of miniatures on show (both from the Foundry's stock and classic '80s Citadel originals). I can say that this particular battle was a manic affair fought between a large force of elves, and their allies, with the beleaguered, but stoic, force of dwarfs. 

Tom Reynolds, Warlord Paul, Nik Turner, John Ratcliffe, Chris Howell, Matthew Street, Andy Atom Taylor and co were present on the day and we had a couple of new members to greet too, most notably James the Yank Patterson, who had gladly abandoned the 4th of July for the insideous allure of Slaanesh and Midlands pastries. 

Paul looks more sinister than usual here. That is hardly a magnaninous visage is it?
As with all games of WFB3, the battle lasted for hours but was fought to a satisfying conclusion, thanks to Paul's ever-skillful GMing and the 20 minute turn rule. We have used this time rule as a basis of our games for some time now and is well worth using yourselves to speed up play. Conceptually it is simple: each side has a mere 20 minutes to complete their entire turn with any moves, magic or combat left unresolved being abandoned. Focus then switches to the opposing side. Additionally, we also begin each game with the majority of the regiments a turn or two away from each other to ensure that combat begins relatively swiftly. 

The Mighty Avenging Tartan-Shirted-One (Bryan Ansell) and his son, Marcus, were our hosts as usual and were as welcoming as ever. I joked with Bryan if he had recieved any royalities from the recent reprinting of the seminal Slaves to Darkness, and he told me that GW had just sent him a copy. They were as eager as ever to discuss anything about their current and classic miniature ranges, and here you can see Stuart Klatcheff and Andy Atom Taylor perusing one of the many trays of treasures that are 'just lying around the place'. 

Deep in game, Chris Howell adjusts the range of his wood elf archers before unleashing a wash of elfy arrows on the advancing dwarf infantry. For notoriously brittle troops, these regiments proved to be astonishingly effective at thinning the enemy ranks, thanks to some adroit dice rolling and clever manuvering.

Synchronised hand positioning aside, can you spot some of the larger units fielded during the battle? A mighty dragon lurches across the fields of Albion, as does a Griffon (which was later spitted by a bolt thrower) and three custom-made tree men built by Andy avoid the flames around the ruins. Quite why the dawrf slayers were deployed miles away from these dangerous foes is a mystery probably only understood by their general. 

Here's a challenge for any true Oldhammerer. Can you spot a character from the Crude, the Mad and the Rusty in this photograph? Big clue - only Achilles has an ankle weaker than he! 

Stuart's painting output would make Axl Rose's album release schedule look positively frequent, but despite having the slowest brush in the west (and east, south and north combined) he fielded a lovely unit of irregular archers who fared quite well (no doubt due to their thick layer of protective gloss) until they were torn to peices by James' Beasts of Slaanesh. 

Chris Howell's elves had seen further work since we last met and thay really did look superb ranked up across the table. These remarkable units are a mere fraction of his collection. I am not sure if the drinks can is part of his army or not, though. 

Lanky lensman, Tom Reynolds, also brought along some elves to the game, though these were of the high variety, with a few dark ones lurking about too. Expect his excellent photographs to appear online in 2019 at the earliest. 

An ever present problem for the dwarf commander is how slow they move. These massed ranks of shorter guys took a real battering from elf missle troops and monsters as the game progressed. 

An ever present problem for my troops is how they don't really move at all! To be honest, I don't really enjoy playing in these larger games (I prefer being a spectator) as I am more of a skirmish gamer. Our next planned game is going to be a smaller scale siege game, that perhaps incorporates some of the original Warhammer Siege rules. 

Dwarf artillery were positioned on the high buff overlooking the battlefield. With the river's bend protecting their position they looked pretty secure. Enemy flyers made short work of them later on in the battle but the organ gun proved it's worth time and time again. 

What do you reckon about this, eh? Could it just possibly be an unpublished piece of art from '80s White Dwarf that the Ansell's have found in their collection? You'd be wrong. It is in fact an 'after Gary Chalk' illustration by our very own Matthew Street named 'A Gathering of Dragons'. It is a visual representation of one of our previous battles presented in the style of the original White Dwarf battle reports. Matthew gave this remarkable illustration to Marcus Ansell who promptly framed it! 

Here's a nice close up of two of the flyers that caused so much havoc during the battle. Tom's slate bases give these models a little '90s chic as well as help support these big models on their relatively tiny bases. Nice painting, eh?

Yet again, I had the privilege of opening Bryan's cabinets of chaos and handling some more classic Citadel models. This time, I went straight for the famous unreleased Guard Captain from the Empire range. The one that recently sold for £1200 on eBay. This is, of course, the original painted model from the famous advertisement (which also sports the Nuln Spearman) and I unashamedly snapped my first selfie holding it - much to the amusement of some of my fellow enthusiasts. 

I also had a closer look at the unreleased dwarf wizard who appeared in the original run of combat cards. Holding a tiny piece of Citadel history like this is quite exhilarating and I couldn't resist placing it back into the cabinet next to my own 'Were-Ansell' Midlands Troll in Foundry getup I gave Bryan a few years ago. 

With the day drawing to the end, there was little left to do but pack up the legions of models and spend a little hard-earned cash on just a few more miniatures for the leadpile. The Citadel Collector, Steve Casey, couldn't resist mumbling a few appreciative noises about the Indian Mutiny range and how much he loves WW2 Germans now before collasping in the mud outside the Foundry premises. The soggy English weather had bogged down many of our cars in mud and we all had to help push them out back into the road; Steve single handedly freed Tom from his muddy prision and returned over £200 of recent GW releases at the same time. 

Having such fun with a bunch of like minded individuals, sharing stories of our collecting adventures and generally mucking about with toy soliders is so rewarding. And if anyone ever asked me what Oldhamer really means again, I would simply repeat the previous sentence. 

Forget the rulesets and go find some real friends. 


"Typical, those cuffs have been painted in light blue when surely everyone knows that 101st always used indigo," Steve complained indignantly.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Nurgle Daemon Prototypes?

I doubt Socrates envisioned late 20th Century toy soldiers when he remarked that "an unexamined life is not worth living" but his laconic statement still rings true despite the passing of the millenia. Inspiration, truth and wisdom are worthy goals for any individual (including classic Warhammer enthusiasts like me) and when some tiny mote of information skitters unexpectedly across the rotting edifice that is Facebook it is hard not to become inspired. 

A few days past, Ross Leach shared the above image and wondered if there was any further information available about this rancid chap. If you didn't know already is is an unreleased Great Unclean One from the late 1980s and was reportedly sculpted by Nick Bibby just before he left Citadel Miniatures. It was based on the original concept art produced by the Grand Master of Chaos, Tony Ackland and was presumably designed alongside the other daemonic entities for The Lost and the Damned or even Slaves to Darkness. 

By means of comparison, and as far as I am aware, there are no 'unreleased' prototype Greater Daemon models for the remaining chaos gods, though Marauder did produce a later Bloodthirster that never saw the light, it wasn't part of the Citadel range. Further research will reveal a couple of other models suffered from a similar fate around the same time; with a rather pathetic Beast of Nurgle being canned by Bryan Ansell for being totally underwhelming (ie crap). Thanks to the endeavours of Sodemons and Collecting Citadel Miniatures (both essential sites that many a would-be Oldhammerer should spend more time exploring) we know what this model looks like beyond its solitary 'Eavy Metal appearance, but even with a funky modern paint job this creature is lacklustre at best. 

Despite resembling an unfortunate 'foot trodden' casualty of some long lost carpet based skirmish, this rejected rotter wasn't intended to go it alone. Just like Lassie the Wonder Dog, he had a handler though I doubt this co-conspiritor would have uttered the immortal words 'I think he/she wants us to follow him/her'. Certainly not if they wanted to get anywhere quickly! The handler is harder to find online, though as you can see both painted and unpainted versions exist out there (again thanks to Sodemons and CCM) and I have never seen one of sale on eBay. Though, not even GW legend Phil Lewis can bring out the joy in this sculpt, as the painted figure below illustrates.


This wasn't the only plaguebearer to flunk at muster, as the famous Combat Card example will attest when not frustrating completists and obsessives. Take a flick through the Monster deck published in the late 1980s and you will meet this chap painted in rather sickly glory by our old friend, Darren Matthews. The same figure also appeared in White Dwarf and is presented below alongside the unpainted version.


Before researching the models for this post, I always assumed that the unreleased plaguebearer was a single cast model similar in size and scope to the later Kev Adams examples. I wonder if the original idea was to have had different bodies and heads to aid variation, after all both the contemporary pink horrors and the bloodletter models were two piece creatures? This example is certainly a stronger candiate for release but for whatever reason never saw the light of day, mostly likely because of the better, single cast versions that hit the racks in 1989. These would have been much cheaper to produce I would imagine. 

Thanks to the ever enigmatic fsfminiatures relentless dumping of obscure models on eBay over the last couple of years, we also know that the famous Great Unclean One unreleased model  was also multi-part and similar to the miniatures that were eventually sold to the public, though as you can see, the arms were part of the torso section rather than individual pieces. 

Returning to Socrates and his thoughts about examination of life, don't you find it rather intriguing that there are quite so many many jettisoned Nurgle models out there? I mean, there is a Greater Daemon, a beast (and his handler) and a plaguebearer all jostling for position on many a collector's list of wants - that is practically an entire pantheon! It is not hard to see Nicky Bibby's hand in the GUO, beast and the handler - though it is only fair to say that the genius we saw in the Great Spined Dragon is not on display here and it is tempting to hypothesise on the reasons why, esepcially considering Bibby parted company with GW around this time and the resulting years have muddied the waters with rumour. But this is just simple conjecture and I doubt very much we have a similar situation to the infamous 'Nagash's Head Incident' on our hands here, more likely a range that just didn't cut the mustard first time around. 

The unusual nature of the models did spur an interesting discussion between several GW heavyweights (intellectually speaking, rather than in mass) which I have had the foresight to preserve here. Ross' question led Tony Ackland, Tony Hough, Mike Brunton and Andy Hoare to exchange some intriguing factoids which conform this hypothesis. 

On the subject of the GUO, Mike Brunton assured Ross that he had an example in his own collection and that it 'weighed far too much to ever be put into production at a sensible price'. Perhaps giving us the true raison d'etre for this version of the daemon being sent to Coventry, rather than on aesthetics alone. This seems to be confirmed by Tony Ackland who took friendly exception to the term 'prototype' being used to describe the model. 'The thing is that the use of prototype figures for metal miniatures never really happened. Before a production figure is created there may ben concepts provided, the sculptor might produce sketches, or it may be sculpted off the cuff. I can think of no time a figure was created to be used as a guide to a finished figure. It would more than likely have been a figure that was rejected after seeing what the casting looked like.

So these are not 'prototypes' in the purest terms, just first attempts that for whatever reason didn't make it to market. Models like these need to be be seen in that context when research is taking place, as they are in a separate category to say, models cleared for release that just slipped from the schedule and those who just saw limited release. They are enigmas. Mysteries. What ifs... Any tantilising alternative to a well loved collectible will always elicit speculation and fascination amongst enthusiasts. After all, a life left unexamined is not worth living, even if that 'life' is that of an unreleased 1980s white metal miniature. 

Those of you agonising over not owning one of these rarities may need to wipe away those tears of frustration as we draw this post to a close. Tony Hough, prolific GW artist and one-time keytimer, quipped; 'Don't hate me! I was sent one (unreleased GUO) to use as reference and I never assembled it... In fact, I used one half of it as an inkpot for years when I was illustrating GW stuff and then lost it!'