Sunday, 13 May 2012

Drastic Plastic: Orcs Complete and The Skeleton Horde

Well, the orcs are finally complete and my first third edition 'regular' (ie, not Realm of Chaos) unit is complete. I had some difficulty with the banner. Initially, I wanted to have a go at the old method of banner construction that was popular in the 80s - the old toothpaste tube rolled up and sliced into a suitable shape. In the end, I went for the sticky label approach, which seemed just as effective but much, much faster. A little superglue and - hey presto! The shields were also simple (the design is molded on) though the moons were a little fiddly to complete.

What do you bloggers think? I took some photographs during the day; one in natural light and the other (when they were completed) with artificial.

Afternoon shot (pre-shields and banner painting) showing finished bases.

Evening shot (shields and banner added)

Natural light is so much better at capturing the colours. Next time we have a sunny morning I think I'll do a photo session with my forces!

This was my first attempt at painting a banner, like ever! Obviously, I continued on the yellow bad moon face with a night's sky background just to add a little extra detail. A black background just looked too plain. Once this was done I realised that a little dark grey edging would be necessary on the banner as it didn't look finished.

Was I successful? Any tips on offer?

Onwards then. Having had a lot of green to paint I have decided to do some thing completely different and go for some undead. That is correct UNDEAD! Not vampire counts or tomb kings- proper undead. These rotting bags of horror were my preferred troop choice back in the day and I amassed quite a collection over the years. Shame that GW destroyed my vision of what the undead were with so called 'characterful army lists' and bizarre rule changes. Not to mention the number of models becoming suddenly obsolete.

Imagine the scene.

The dust finally settled on the remains of the shattered tomb. Like tiny dancing moths, the motes of powdered bone caught the weak light and settled upon the dark, woollen cloaks of the living. Ancient sinews creaking, Vlad rose from his unsleep and smiled evilly. How foolish these mortals were to raise him from his slumbers.

"Why have you woken me?" He asked, his voice like the skittle of dead leaves across cracked rock.

"To raise an army." A helmeted head, chased in gold, replied from the dank darkness. "To ally with us and march unhindered into the Old World."

Vlad smiled. 

"That I can do." He whispered. "My forces need not sleep, need not rest and need not fear death. I can command an endless surge of souless troops who need not shelter nor succour. With each victory, I can swell my ranks with the enemy's fallen, so that brother may well end up fighting brother long the other was thought slain. I can inspire a dreadful fear with my magics, turn the sky black and send forth a choking wind that cuts like a blade at men's throats. I can summon wights, skeletal steeds, ghouls, giant bats, carts of the dead, zombies, varghulf and skeletons armed with spears or swords!"

"What about skeletal archers?" The helmeted one asked in terrified awe.

"Err, no... I can't manage that actually!"

I mourned the demise of the skeletal archer. I loved the old metal models of them (and still hunt for them avidly on eBay) and had loads of the plastic ones. For some reason these simple troops epitomised the undead army for me, and then one day... they were cruelly cast out of the list only to turn up again as rather naff '90s Tomb Kings models.

I have chosen one of my favourite GW releases to work on next. The Skeleton Horde, released around 1986 and painted very memorably by Colin Dixon. I loved this kit as a child. So evocative and a great many happy memories putting this and its sister kit, Skeleton Army, together. Perhaps its just me, but I felt that GW went backwards with the next skeleton kit they released - the cartoony one with the massive hands and flat, boring skulls.

Here is the original WD ad...

And the box art, an equally memorable image (which was recycled for other releases- such as the WHFRP supplement, The Restless Dead) by the prolific (especially in the '80s), John Blanche.

Let's have a look at what you got for your £3.95. Six sets of sprues with a range of weapons; swords, axe, spear and scythe and the appropriate bases. Enough to construct 24 skeletons.

Here's a contents shot...

And a close up of a sprue.

So, if I am going to assemble these troops what combination shall I choose? I think I shall save the spears and do a regiment armed with these at a later date, so that leaves 18 skeletons with hand weapons and 6 with scythes. I have a few undead metals that I can use as command models (Champion and Leader) to combine with the 18.

Over the next couple of nights I shall cut out, clean and put together these models. During that time I am going to have to consider my colour scheme for painting bone. Additionally, I am going to flick through my WDs and try and track down as many examples of Colin Dixon's shield designs because I intend to replicate
as many of them as I can on their shields ( and hopefully learn a little along the way!). I'll be posting my research for fellow bloggers to see (might be useful) and may even consider doing a shield freehand painting tutorial if readers are interested.



  1. They look nice, very 80's the banner suffers from the same problem all mine have, looks a bit flat, it's certainly something I'm working on for my own. I love these orcs I probably have about 100 or more of the blighters but the original shields for only about half. The lead command has several variations worth collecting.

    Keep your eye out for the original and earlier drastic plastic orcs and they are quite nice too and a little smaller making better boys. The psycho styrene dwarfs are also great there parts mixing really well with the regiments plastic dwarfs.

    The Skeletons where the best value ever, particularly in the skeleton army set, for years two boxes of these, some hero quest mummies and the hero quest chaos sorcerer were my undead army. I think I added some catapults and carrion too. Always meant to make crossbow skelies, surely the best way to arm them.

    1. I have the drastic plastic orcs in mind condition packaging, so I won't be painting them any time soon. To be honest, they were the first ones I have ever seen on eBay. I would certainly be interested in getting more in the future.

  2. Very nice Orc unit. Love the standard! Just purchased the leader figure on ebay after a long search...
    I have 15 or 20 of the plastic boys, purchased about 1992...some painted, some not...I am considering getting rid of them.

    1. Well, if you do decide to shift them, contact me and I'll make you an offer. I have managed to pick up another three of them recently and a ton of the shields but I would like to paint up a big unit of these orcs one day.