Saturday, 21 October 2017

In search of the Blandford Warriors

I must admit to having always thought the Blandford Warriors range was a bit, well, crap. With that all important, at least to me, fantasy chic missing and a total lack of mutated chaosy gribblies I always considered them a dull range. Even when Wargames Foundry brought most of the figures back into production, I browsed past the figures with no more than minor interest.

How wrong I was! 

Perhaps it's a symptom of tipping my toe into the Bronze Age that I seem ever drawn towards the more unusual historical figures, as I find models with a realistic feel far more gratifying than the horrendously oversculpted CAD obsenities that seem to flood much of the toy soldier market these days. 

Now, if you are NOT in the know about the Blandford Warriors let me fill you in. The range was advertised in January 1988 and complimented the book 'Medieval Warlords' by Tim Newark. They were, of course, sculpted by the Perry brothers and sold in individual blisters for a while. 

Angus McBride, one of the greatest historical wargaming artists who ever lived, produced many of the illustrations the models were based on. You may well recognise his style even if the name doesn't ring any bells.

Take a look....

Sourcing the book was fairly easy, there are numerable copies on Amazon and eBay for next to nothing and having had a flick through its musty pages, the book looks pretty interesting. There are shortish essays concerning the figures in the range, each supported by a wealth of illustrative material, so they is plenty for the toy soldier enthusiast and military buff to dive into. 

Marcus Ansell donated one of the older Blandford Warriors moulds to my school, keen for the younger children to see how miniatures are produced. And having never seen a mould up close before myself, I was fascinated by the object as well.

As we were discussing how the mould slotted together, Marcus told me an amusing story about (and this is totally truthful) a number of 'serious' collectors had rung them up at the Foundry to complain/demand that they stop producing rarer figures such as the Blandford Warriors because it was reducing the price of their collections!!

Now I am sitting on a leadpile a mile high, and amongst its layers I do have a number of rarer figures. Even so, I would never dream of doing such a thing. I am all for the more unusal figures being brought back into production because it means that other enthusiasts can enjoy them without having to fork out ridiculous money online acquiring them!

In case you were wondering what metal models look like after they have been 'spun' in a mould, let me enlighten you. Here we have the full range of the Blandford historicals fresh from the casting pits, albeit with the 'Foundry' style bases. The reason for the removal of the classic 'slotta-base' is a simple one apparently; the historical gamers (who make up the bulk of the Foundry's customer base) won't buy figures with them on! 

Bryan went on to explain that he took with him a vast amount of material when he sold GW as he felt that the majority of the figures he had had a hand in creating would have been destroyed. The company belonged to him so he could do what he liked. Hence the vast collection of classic painted figures at the Foundry premises and the masses of vintage castings (some of which never saw the light of day) in his collection. 

You may notice that the Tuetonic Knight is absent from the Foundry website. That is because the master casting was missing in action when the range as brought back into production. That model has since been recovered and hence appears on the mould in my school's possession.

Collectors being the strange creatures that they are, have apparently moved on to buying up the now extremely rare 'plinth' bases you can see in the original flyer. Whether they use these to house the original slotta based models or the more modern castings is beyond my ken. 

If you are interested in the range, it can be purchased here

As I enjoy starting projects and never completing them, I have decided to start working my way through these models in the near future, just as soon as I have finished the final Time Warped Wizard from BOYL16! 

But which Warlord will I start with? Decisions... Decisions... 


Night of the Living Lead 2017

Ever wondered how to get around the problems of flying dragons? An upside down glass does wonders!

Hello once more and welcome to Realm of Chaos 80s. It has been sometime again, hasn't it? Truth be told there are no exciting and dramatic reasons while I haven't updated recently, it has been a simple case of having too much work to do during the week and the dreaded 'other commitments' during the weekend. Though, I can confess here to being a little distracted by Fallout 4 again, which I chose to start playing again at the end of the Summer Hols, and my meagre hobby time has been squandered on that.

Due to my poor showing on the blogosphere, I had been looking forwards to making the trip back up to the Wargames Foundry again for some time, and rather helpfully my friend Stuart Klatcheff was willing to drive the distance this time - giving me slightly longer at the event and less grief from the non-leadhead! 

So thanks for that Stuart! 

Journeys such as these, and the events that lay sandwiched in between them, have a funny old way of enlivening an interest in the participant. I suspected that a few hours with the Oldhammer Boyz would ensure plenty of inspiration for the coming winter months and the first half-term of the year (which is just around the corner).

As you would expect, I snapped a load of random photographs of the battle though I must confess to not really taking part in the event. I was far to busy socialising, but I do have an amusing little anecdote about Steve Casey's lovely 'alternative giants' and how I managed to encourage the GM's xenophobia for all things gigantic to pull off an amusing attack or two.

More about that later. As has become traditional, what follows is a long, long list of photographs that I took of Paul's little event with a little snippet of commentary from me. Hopefully, you discover something of interest within them and are inspired to do a little be of hobby of your own. 

The battlefield after the first move of the game. You can see my rather old collection of Khorne and Nurgle Realm of Chaos stuff down the bottom left of the frame. If I am being honest, I don't think they moved far from there all day. As you will have noticed we had A LOT of figures on the table (mostly elves from Chris' incredible collection) and WFB3 is a very long game when dealing with a game of this size. Needless to say... we never finished the game!

One thing that I always enjoy about the bigger battles are the massed ranks of troops arrayed in their martial glory. There was plenty to see on the table with loads of classic and not so classic models painted up. As you will have already no doubt noted, there was a large contingent of dragons fielded. Beautiful models all of them and they brought a certain elegance to our wargames table.

Matthew Street explains how best to hold a tinfoil wrapped sandwich to an awed fellow enthusiast. Note the neat little glowing lights inside the model chapel. I thought that this effect had been created by some electrical wire malarkey but upon further investigation I found out the illumination was provided by a couple of those cheap battery powered tea-lights you can buy in Lidl. It works though!
Never having been a chap satisfied by following the rules, we homebrewed some unlikely stats for a dramatic attack on Steve Casey's wonderfully painted 'alternative' giants. I invented some implausible missle assault and Paul, the GM, decreed that on a roll of a six my bazooka armed chaos dwarf would be able to hit one of Steve's giants in the face. Amusingly, I suceeded and the poor lanky soul was slain outright! Never be afraid to homebrew unlikely rules with comedy potential if you have access to an unbiased GM. 

Having sadly lost his sandwich in a tragic liquid-poly accident, Warlord Paul attempts to find sustenance by consuming his own hand while 'Elfy Chris' tries his hardest to ignore him. The glorious host of '80s elves belonged to Chris and you may remember our discussion about them during the BOYL17 coverage.

Real life Aragorn (though in certain quarters he is known as Cider) Thantsants mulls over how hard life is as a modern day ranger. Note the small bridge he couldn't help constructing (force of habit) to the far right. Only one guard rail? What would the health and safety boys say?

My big McDeath giant strikes a pose surrounded by girly elves.

As you would expect, the sight of so many old school models in close proximity was a glorious sight, if a little unwieldy to play with in such a short space of time.

Steve Casey looks serious as he launches his giants into an all out attack against my dwarfs.

Stuart Klatcheff, John Ratcliffe and Warlord Paul investiagate some of the weird and wonderful odds and sods from Bryan's collection. The small cardboard box contained castings of many of the original Rogue Trader Imperial Guard, Space Pirates and Adventurers sets. 
Bryan took me into the depths of Stoke Hall to explore some of his wargaming treasures, and despite the looming threat of an over excited (and rather large) dog, I escaped unscathed. Think ultimate 'wargaming man cave' and you have some idea what this room is like. 

Stuffed with all manner of toy soldier paraphernalia, walking around this room was like being plunged into an ocean of Citadel history. It would be impossible to describe the innumerable treasures to be beheld here; everything from original pieces of GW artwork, to early '80s castings and thousands and thousands of greens. 

There were trays of greens in various states of tinkering. Bryan spoke of his idea to do a Kickstarter project with some of these unproduced models at some time in the future. 

John Blanche originals and some curious masks from the Ansell family's many travels. 

Bryan was keen to show off his vast library of inspirational publications. I was struck by the depth of research and the varying influences that go into his designs. If the 1980s Design Studio was this rich with creativity (which I suspect it was) then it is no wonder that the range of figures produced back then were so special. Not a skull or spike in sight! 

The influence of 2000AD on '80s Citadel is well known, and Bryan still reads the graphic novels to this day. 

The room was full of half-finshed projects and various tinkerings.

Marcus Ansell talked us through many of the model buildings in the collection. It appears that there was once an entire scenic board which many of the buildings slotted into. Underneath the houses are labels that indicate who constructed the model, with Phil Lewis and Dave Andrew's name frequenting often. His recent 'mega-battle' post I shared a while back was an attempt to work out how these buildings fitted together. We discussed the famous 'Modelling Workship' articles in White Dwarf and it transpires that a huge amount of scenic material was built that never saw the light of day.
Unlike at BOYL, I had ample time to explore the new displays of painted models in Foundry's cabinets. These early '90s space marines caught my eye almost immediately. Gorgeous painting by Mike McVey, the colours still so vibrant after all of this time. 
Original Heroquest models. The master castings of these are lurking around the Foundry I have been lead to believe. I have always coveted that barbarian figure. 

Huzzah! My painted Were-Ansell preslotta figure shares shelf-space with vintage Citadel classics. My hobby life is complete!  

I am always interested in anything Realm of Chaos and this wonderful old figure caught my eye.

As did these memorable figures... These appeared in the Lost and the Damned and the two figures on the right are converted. Love the rust effect on that sword! 

The original Advanced Heroquest figures. I have always admired the shield designs on these figures and will one day finish my own versions of them. 

Could there be a more iconic Heroquest paintjob?

I had never seen these epic scale models painted up before. These had beautiful hues and looked resplendent alongside the older Rogue Trader orks. 

Lords of Battle and a hodgepodge of Rogue Trader pieces. 

I was glad to find these converted chaos figures. White Dwarf published a lovely 'Eavy Metal article about how to best convert chaos figures just after the publication of Slaves to Darkness. I was pleased to see that they had survived. 

Unreleased Citadel wizards from 1987. 

Some of the glorious handpainted banners in the Foundry's miniature museum. Note the Heroquest gargoyle hiding in plain site on the right hand side. 

Another glorious Realm of Chaos era conversion. 

More '80s era Realm of Chaos models with spanking banners. 

Blood Bowl figures from the second edition of the game. Can you spot any of the original Star Player figures in this photograph?

An Oldhammer favourite! The original Marauder Chaos Dwarfs.

When wizards were wizards, mate. Oh, and when clerics were clerics, too. 

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ultimate Oldhammer: Warrior from Second and Third Edition Warhammer

I always assumed that the figure on the front cover of WFB3 was Sigmar. He was, after all, wielding a bad boy of a warhammer to twat a two headed goblin, just the thought of jape that old Heldenhammer would've got up to! Other people had different views. Who did you think he was?
For me, there is no image more indicative of '80s Warhammer than the be-hammered warrior smiting goblins and posing dramatically on the front of Second and Third Edition. Long have I wondered why no figure was ever crafted to represent him on the table top; and I can recall several conversations with other enthusiasts over the years about creating just such a model. Thankfully, someone finally has worked magic with the old greenstuff and I have had the satisfaction of painting the result over the last few days. 

In case you are wondering who sculpted this model and from where he can be purchased let me enlighten you. He is apparently the work of Kevin Adams and is part of the Old School Miniatures range. Here's a quick gander at their logo so you'll know what your looking for. 

A squat enjoying a cigar, yesterday. 
Old School Miniatures offer a small but perfectly formed range of models clearly influenced by the glory days of Citadel. Check out their blog page here.  Amongst several other gems, are a fantastic range of gnomes (complete with WFB3 compatible armylist), arsecannon and some characterful Carnival of Chaos models. 

Our warrior (Sigmar?) is filed under Misc as Oddly Familiar Evil Warrior and somehow he had managed to sprout a goatee since we last saw him - I opted to paint mine with a skater-friendly 'half beard' instead, though. 

As soon as I saw the figure I knew I wanted one, though at the time I felt there was something lacking about the model. Was it the pose? Was it his face? But when the figure arrived at my door and I tore away the packaging my doubts kind of evaporated. He is crisp, detailed and perfectly cast. 

Once I began painting, the hours seemed to melt away in happy brushwork and of course I had to cross reference Second and Third edition to help finialise the colour scheme. 

Suits you, sir! What a stonking chainmail outfit. Harald Hardrada would no doubt approve - just marvel at the length!
I used layering to paint up the helmet, warhammer, boots and belt, working through the Foundry triads and adding the odd wash and glaze. Drybrushing brought out the detail on his hair and chainmail easily enough but I must confess to really struggling with the face. The proximity of the helmet and his chubby features resulted in a series of bloated, flat faces that I disliked considerably. What you can see here are my third (and final) attempt and I am satisfied with the result. One thing I learnt the hard way is when to stop, and move on to the next project. 

I hope that you dear readers don't think I've fluffed up the face too much! 

When trying to take a couple of decent pictures it struck me what was missing. His shield! So I plan to rummage around in my plastics stash to see if I can find something suitable. There is plenty of space on the reverse of the model so I'll have no problem attaching a shield and I'll have the chance to dust off my free-hand skills once more. 

"Oi, come back here so I can twat you again!"

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Return of the Unfinishables: Wood Elf, Chaos Thug, Man-at-Arms and Mindflayer

Over the years I have held a theory that certain miniatures conspire against the enthusiast to ensure that they remain unpainted. Perhaps the feel of warm acrylic makes their leaden skin itch? And hence they resist all attempts of completion, standing alone and disregarded in some forgotten corner of your leadpile. Miniatures such as these have a name, you know. A Miniature Moriarty

Over the years I have been guilty of squirrelling quite a large number of these away and from time to time (roughly two years) I grow tired of looking at their blotchy, smeary faces and dribbly bodies and commit myself to the task of breaking them in. With a paint brush mind, not a whip - I am not Chico! Despite my uncompromising approach, all four of these models attempted one final flight to freedom and slipped from my carrying tray as I was transporting them for photography. They scattered across the hard oak floorboards but, perhaps due to my unbending will, suffered no damage. As I type these miniature miscreants have been finally caged; lined up at the rear end of my modelling cabinet on a lead and water diet. 


Considering the amount of whinging we did in Bryan Ansell's ear to cast up some of his unreleased wizards, you would have thought I would have painted the entire Time Warped Wizards set by now, but this one slipped the net - perhaps because it was never intended to be a wizard at all. But a wood elf in fact. His chunky gait and over-proportioned size makes me wonder about his origin, but as with all the figures in this release, their origins are lost in the fog and spilt beer of yesteryear. He certainly wasn't a classic '80s elf at any rate. 

Orginally painted in a series of greens, I found that the colour combinations just didn't look right once the highlights had been added. So he was condemened to lanquish amongst the unfinishables while I worked out just what to do with him. After a few futile attempts at correcting the green, I washed the enitre figure in a nice brown ink and just started again. I have always thought that wood elves work best if you stick to the colours of the seasons; spring greens and yellows; the deep greens of summer; orange, brown and dark reds for autumn... I have never really considered during a 'winter' wood elf, reserving that colour theory for the Dark Elves instead. 

Choosing an auntumnal look, I gave precedent to browns and reds for the bulk of the clothing, opting to do some stripy pirate trousers to break up the monotony. With my elf now sporting a dashing blonde hairdo I decided to tie this in with his chunky bow and leave blue and green as spot colours. All in all, I am now pleased with the result and just need to complete the final wizard in the set (my original was miscast, and Marcus Ansell gave me a replacement quite recently) and that particular project is complete. 

I hope you like him - looking at him now, I detect a whiff of Jason Connery about him aka Robin of Sherwood. Rrrrrroooooobinnnnn the Hooded Mannnnnnnn - dun dun! 

This Chaos Thug has a rather different tale to tell. He was an impulse eBay buy due to his really low price and hideous paint-job. He had been so badly treated by his previous owner that I lacked the will to clean him down with the mighty Dettol. So I thought, why don't I just paint over the top of the previous effort.

So I did. 

As you can see he looks great, despite his rather strange propositions and pose. Is he carrying that morning star to the local carboot sale? And what on earth is he doing with his head, looking in the opposite direction his is walking in? I guess that is just life in the chaos wastes, and having actually been there (see here) I can sympathise with him. 

I was pleased with the way his hood came out, as getting white right can be arduous. I used a grey base coat to start with, adding progressively larger amounts of paint as I highlighted. He wears some kind of tattered leather jacket and so I used him as a opportunity to paint up some orangey leather. It is amazing how a chestnut ink glaze brings out the richness of the colour! Try it! Thoroughly tired of limiting the amount of colours on my models, I gave him a nifty pair of red/blue trousers and highlighted them in my usual fashion, simply adding the lightest tone of Foundry's Boneyard to the basecoat. The rest then just slipped into place; the black of the shoes matched his funny visor thing, though I found that highlighting this just looked odd so I left it matt black. The rope was really easy to do; just an undercoat of the darked Foundry Boneyard followed by an orange wash. I just highlight up with the remaining shades in the Boneyard triad. A little gold and silver drybrushing and he was ready to join my Khorne army. 

Disliking painting platemail as I do, this guy was abandoned due to being boring in the extreme to paint and frustrating to complete. Unlike the other models which were lavished with around two hours of painting time, this guy was knocked off in about forty minutes - does he look like it? I just rehighlighted all of my original painting and changed the colour of his padded jacket from white to blue to give him a little colour interest. The red scabbard also helped in this respect. I found using a blue glaze over the armour helped breathe a little life into him too. Far from my finest work, but perfect for the rank and file. 

Finally, Stuart's Mindflayer. He chided me the other day that I had had this model on the painting station for two years, so I was determined to complete him. Like the thug, he had already been painted (this time by me) but I was never happy with the result, hence him being transported to the Moriarty pile. In the end, I realised that there was nothing wrong with my painting at all, it was just the colour scheme didn't suit the model. Originally, he had an orange skintone and purple robes you see. 

Considering Stuart is now painting up a far few Nurgle models, and I had completed a few models in this project for him in the past, I used similar tones to those employed before and the gribbly chap just seemed to paint himself in just over an hour. Having just two colours and a bit of gold to work up helped with the timing. I am pleased with the way he turned out and I hope Stuart appreciates him now.