Tuesday, 19 February 2013

'Eavy Metal: Ancient Gems

Hello fellow followers of the antiquus malleus.

I wonder how many of you are aware that 'Eavy Metal was not the first painting article in WD about the joys of miniature painting? That a regular series of articles predated the famous painter's column. If you were there man, I wonder if you could recall its name? I am talking about Tabletop Heroes. And before you ask, I wasn't aware of its existence either. Not until I read a post (I forget who by, sorry) on the Bloodforum that suggested going deeper into the WD archive in search of hidden gems of ancient antiquity. 

So I did!

Well the first article I am going to share with you is an edition of this aged regular column of the mid 80s. Interestingly, it was written by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk of gamebook fame.

No NMM here.

Funny how the article ends with a reference to Citadel's new LotR miniatures. Times don't change. 
The standard bearer is a converted Fighting Fantasy 60mm plastic kit. While the Rider of Rohan, with the blue, yellow and orange shield, is an early contribution from 'Eavy Metal painter Paul Benson. 
What did you think of the models? They are beautiful and imaginative are they not? Produced before this age of pathetic rules (hey mate, you are painting your Space Marines the wrong colour) and petty traditions. The dioramas look natural and character full. The miniatures themselves are intricate and detailed. Even though these models were cast and painted nearly 30 years ago, they do not resemble toys. Which cannot be said of much of the chunky, souless  plastic of contemporary days.

The 'art' is there because the sculptors and painters were passionate enough about putting it there. Many modern painters on the CMON scene have incredible technical skills, but one paint job merges very easily into another and there seems to be little scope for personal style or real innovation. 

Talking of innovation, how incredible are these painted '80s dragons? This article represents the greatest collection of them anywhere. Sure the photography and printing are a little primitive, but my limited knowledge of the publishing process in the mid 80s tells me that a spread as detailed as this would have taken some real effort.

Just compare the love and care taken over these articles with the reams of bland models that choke the pages of modern White Dwarf. These models were considered works of art, and were treated and presented as such.

Colin Dixon's dragon mounted on that skull is one of the most dynamic dioramas I think I have ever seen!

More awe.
I have posted these dioramas before but its nice to see them presented in a different way with a
little written background. 
These dioramas just re-enforce why I prefer metal models over plastic. Its the depth and variety of poses.
These sculpts are all individual models that look like separate entities, not bland generic poses ranked ad nauseum . 
Finally, an '80s double page 'Eavy Metal spread from the master of miniature painting. Just look at this spread. Image how difficult a job setting this collection of his work out would have been in the mid '80s! There are quite a few pieces from Blanche in here that I have not really seen before (as well as a closer look at that classic diorama) and his work just proves my point that an artist's individual vision will over ride technical brilliance every time. 

There are a 1001 painters out there whose skill far exceeds Blanche's, but the far majority (think 99.999%) lack his understanding of art itself. 

Technique can never be a replacement for soul.

The Mona Lisa appeared in many of Blanche's '80s pieces, both on canvas and lead. 
The twisted and wonderful. '80s Citadel (and other manufacturers) in Blanchitsu glory.
Hope you enjoyed these.

More soon.



  1. Ahh... Tabletop Heroes, nice to see three examples of the 1980s Lord of The Rings range, which along with Talisman is the only classic citadel I collect, very characterful and nicely detailed. Chalk and Dever also did the only 1st Edition Warhammer scenarios published in WD, Thistlewood (WD45) and Minas Tirith (53), well worth looking at to get a feel for the early days (especially as I have both for sale at the moment, lol!)

  2. Wonderful article. I would like to highlight a sentence you just said. 'Technique can never be a replacement for soul'. Oh, I think you get the whole concept and essence of the hobby there.

  3. Here's something you may not know...

    If you look in the top right of the second image from the top, you'll see a diorama with a ruined wall. Well, that diorama was actually a trophy that was awarded to Best in Show at the Citadel Open Day in 1985; I guess it's a sort of fore-runner of the slayer sword. It was awarded to Nik Sewell for a regiment of goblins (which can also be seen in the image above). The trophy itself was created by Joe Dever and Gary Chalk. Bryan Ansell understandably decided that the trophy was too fragile to be posted to Nik, so arranged for the trophy to be taken to GW Birmingham for Nik to collect. Unfortunately it broke in transit and the top section of the wall was lost! After winning the trophy Bryan wrote to Nik to offer him £3 credit per painted model, which given the cheap price of figures in those days wasnt too bad a deal...

    How do I know all this? Well some time ago I purchased the trophy, winning goblin regiment and Bryan's letter from Nik. I still have them :-)

    1. You've got to do a post about them Steve. I would love to see the model and letter in more detail.

  4. This is one if my favourite articles by you Orlygg. You just can't beat those old 80s dioramas for pure atmosphere. They should also be considered masterpieces of fantasy storytelling in my opinion. The red dragon having her eggs stolen by goblins is just wonderful. Cheers!