Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Armadillo in Space: An Interview with Tim Pollard

So far, Realm of Chaos 80s has managed to track down and interview some Old School Icons about their time working at Citadel during the 'Golden Age'. Namely, the Grand Master of Chaos Tony Ackland, the Patriarch Tony Hough, Mr Warhammer Rick Priestley, 'Eavy Metal pioneer (and Oldhammer's Painting Guru) Andy Craig and the great man himself, the Mighty Avenging Bryan Ansell

The subject of our latest interview is not well known. Though he stood at the beating heart of Citadel, later Games Workshop, during the 1980s and was involved in a great number of now classic products. His name rings a subconscious bell though, look at it again and think...

Tim Pollard.

Tim Pollard..?

Where have you heard that name before? Well, I can tell you! Don't deny it when I spill the beans though! His name appears in the credits for Warhammer Third Edition, Warhammer Armies, Rogue Trader... the list goes on and on. You know the credits I mean, don't you? The ones that used to appear on the contents page of White Dwarf (along with plenty of 'joke' titles to describe Bryan Ansell) and also appear in the front of WFB3, WHFRP and all the others. The credit lists that you read from time to time, mentally acknowledging the famous names and the wonderous products that they have produced in their time, along with the 'where are they nows', like Sid, H and BiL Sedgewick. 

I know that you look at them! And I know that you often idly wish that you had been amongst their number back in the glory days of British '80s fantasy gaming. 

I managed to get in contact with Tim through Andy Craig and the Oldhammer Community on Facebook. Tim posted up a series of photographs of his collection that blew many of us away. It seems that Tim was a an avid collector of GW material during his days with the company, only he didn't just collect the releases, he managed to get his hands on the bloody originals!

Just have a gander at what we have below!

Yes, that is Slambo. THE Chaos warrior and one of my favourite miniatures. Only, under this one's dust is the exquisite painting of John Blanche. Digital photography really brings out the quality of the paintwork, as well as the thickness of that varnish, and lots of little details that have not really been seen before. Sure, we have all seen this model before, it was published in White Dwarf several times, but how many of us have noticed the subtle skull blending on the helmet, the black ink work on the axe heads or the tiny stars on the strapping and boots.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Just when you thought you had seen it all, you find out that Tim owns a set of the original space marines, designed by Bob Naismith in 1985. Only these ones were used to advertise the Land Raider in 1987!


And then there is that strange science fiction conversion that was featured in 'Eavy Metal along with the zoids and the famous Deodorant Bottle Rogue Trader Anti Grav attack ship.

Tim's got that too!

And then there are the Rogue Trader ork standard bearers that are now extruciatingly hard to find for sale or trade. Well, he has some of them too!

As I was saying, this is just the tip of Tim's iceberg. Having been totally blown away Tim's collection, I lost no time in asking him if he would be willing to do an interview for us, and luckily, he agreed. The trouble was, Tim has so much stuff, its going to take several posts just to get through the material he has shared with me, and he has informed me that there is more, much more!

Anyway, let's get down to the interview itself. Tim was involved in the manufacturing of miniatures since the 1970s and worked with Bryan Ansell in the very early days of Asgard. It was at this point that we began the interview. 

RoC80s: You were one of Bryan's team at Asgard in the early days. How did you initially become involved with the world of fantasy gaming?
TP: Way back at junior school a friend brought some tiny model tanks in to show people, I imagine they must have been Skytrex 1:300 modern armour -I say 'modern', that meant '1970's' at the tim). He mentioned he had a magazine with a listing of some Lord of the Rings figures in it and brought the advert in next day and sold it to me for 5p(!) It was an ad for Minifigs classic 'ME' range - as they couldn't call it 'Middle Earth'. I started collecting them, got a copy of SELWG's 'Middle Earth Wargames Rules' and I was off. From that early start I ended up getting a Saturday job at the now long-gone 'Nottingham Model Soldier Shop', and I used to travel down to the original GW store at Dalling Road in London and then eventually moved into hanging around and then working in Asgard Miniatures, also in Nottingham, where sculptors like Nick Bibby and Jes Goodwin first started. I still (to my equal delight and shame) have unpainted (and in some cases still packaged) minis from that time!

RoC80s: How about joining Citadel properly, was it natural progression from Asgard or something different?
TP: It was a natural progression, helped enormously by me being able to drive by then as Citadel was still in Newark at the time. But by the time GW had moved to Nottingham a fair few of the folks from the Asgard crowd had already moved there (John Blanche had been a regular there, as had Alan Merritt for instance) so I first moved into Mail Order at Eastwood (where I produced a magazine called BLACK SUN which went into subscriber copies of WHITE DWARF) and from there into the Design Studio. I know I've got loads of the original artwork, which was mainly by me, and some of the original layouts hanging around somewhere. Basically, it was put together by me in my room using whatever illustrations and bad jokes I could put together. GW were splendidly indulgent of my silliness, sense of humour, writing style and mickey taking. Oh, and it had the first ever Andy Chambers rule in it, which was his 'Kick Off' rule for Bloodbowl!

Black Sun - very rare now. In fact, I have never even seen one of these for sale in years of collecting. 
A classic Rogue Trader Era model painted by Mike McVey if I recall correctly. This one appeared in White Dwarf and as part of the Space War Combat Cards. 
RoC80s: You are credited in a number of roles during the 'Golden Age', from Studio Assistant in WFB3 to Finished Artist. What kind of work were you responsible for?
TP: I did loads of jobs - copywriting, a few bits of illustration, selling advertising space, naming figures, typesetting and writing WD editorial pieces - in fact pretty much anything - but the best times I had were when I was John Blanche's assistant, where I was responsible for writing the briefs for illustrators. That meant I had to get some miniatures, make sure the artist knew what iconography had to go where and then describe the resulting picture we wanted, what size - and how much we'd pay for it. This meant I was working with folks like Ian Miller, Kevin Walker, Russ Nicholson - all the classic GW artists and really enjoyed the work. Weirdly there were times when I had to ask artists to 'correct' pieces too, which was odd as I couldn't even begin to approach their skills!

RoC80s: You have mentioned that you were responsible for the naming of many of the models in the mid 80s. How did this responsibility develop and how were you inspired to create the names?
TP: Heh! Yes, back in the day each miniature had a name rather than just a code number and for a long time naming them was my job - actually that was great fun, because not only could I enjoy flights of fancy but in order to advertise the minis I got sent at least one of each to photograph, and then I got to keep them! In terms of names - it was anything I could think of from members of bands I was into (hence the Imperial Guard release that was made up of prog rock stars including Emerson, Lake and Palmer, members of Marillion, Hawkwind and Rush, for instance) or another release where the names came from actors who appeared in the original Batman TV series! There was an undead release where they were all named after Sherlock Holmes actors too, simply because I couldn't resist calling the best skeleton 'Basil Wrathbone'!

RoC80s: You shared a flat with John Blanche and other GW types, any amusing stories that you'd care to share about life in those days?
TP: Is there a statute of limitations on being sued for libel? Actually it was great fun, John Blanche lived at my house for quite some time (which was weird as he was my boss at the time) but we got along really well - one of the best bits was that he used to pay the rent in original paintings as he thought it was terribly Bohemian and I just thought it was cool! So now I have the original art for (amongst many others) Adeptus Titanicus, the Legion of the Damned, the first Terminator box set and his beautiful 'Gloria in Excelsis' angel painting. This was the time when I had a Yamaha trike (which I still have) and John was riding a Triumph which sadly leaked oil (as they do) all over my garage so we had to get the Fire Brigade to come out and hose it all down. I think they thought they'd stumbled into a bikers den! Later on Wayne England also joined us and that was a lot of fun, one of the best times of my life! .
More Rogue Trader goodness in Tim's collection. An eldar (also included in the Space War deck of Combat Cards) as well as some other fantastic Blanche painted models.
Kevin Adams and his goblinoid genius coupled with the skills of the 'Eavy Metal boys. From the collection of Tim Pollard.
RoC80s: You have a very large collection of original art and miniatures from the '80s. Which are your personal favourites?
TP: I've been very lucky, not only did I have great artists and friends like John and Wayne (maybe I should say Wayne and John - it sounds less cowboy-ey) paying me in paintings but other artists were kind enough to do so as well, so I'm very proud of owning all of John's stuff (including some very early pre-GW pieces, two fabulous Space Marine pieces by Wayne, David Gallagher's Skaven illustration (Page 78 of Warhammer Armies) and a lovely dragon painting by Iain McCaig which inspired the cover of WD26 (Iain was the chap who designed the GW logo, by the way). As for minis, again I have some sublime pieces painted by John but also some of the very first, original Space Marine squads painted for 1st Ed. 40k - the original Blood Angels and Silver Skulls, for instance, as well as some gigantic war machines made by the Studio at the time - all good stuff!

RoC80s: One of the Perry's sculpted you an armadillo in power armour. What was the story behind your love of these creatures?
TP: I've loved armadillos since I first saw the cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmer's awesome 'Tarkus' album, which features a creature which is a cross between an armadillo and a British WWI tank! I used to try and sneak mentions of them into WD as often as possible - when I wasn't writing as me I'd often be credited as 'Kurgan "Armadillo" Bradley', for instance). Sadly whilst i was at the Studio my father died and very kindly the Perry's made me a unique piece to cheer me up, an Armadillo in Space Marine armour. It's glorious, and rather brilliantly 'H', the fabulous technical drawing artist even did an 'exploded view' of the armour as a bonus for me, I'm very proud of both of those. I did try to convince GW that the Imperium would use 'uplifted' armadillos in armour to fight Skaven in warp tunnels, but sadly nothing came of that... Having said that, I remember Bryan Ansell categorically refusing ever to do 'space undead' and now we have the Necrons, so I'm still holding out hope... honest! 
Tim's original green. 
We will leave the interview at that point for now. As you will have read, Tim has an extensive collection of original artworks from our period, with pieces by Blanche and England hanging on his walls. These will be the subject of a future post and we will be hearing a little more from Tim too.

Until then, enjoy a few more snapshots from Tim's collection.

Original Legion of the Damned Rogue Trader models. I believe these ones were painted by Richard Wright. From the collection of Tim Pollard. 
The original 'Silver Skulls' chapter from Rogue Trader. From the collection of Tim Pollard.
The original 'Blood Angels' chapter, along with the famous commander miniature that appeared in the Space War Combat Cards deck., the early chaplain (in black) and a dreadnought. 
And finally, an unreleased Nurgle daemon model (and thank goodness for that, its crap isn't it?) also part of Tim's collection. 



  1. Dear Orlygg,

    I guess it must take time to find all those people that built all this iconic stuff we love here and to organize interviews and take photos to then present them to us.
    But I know it takes talent to recreate the vibe from back then and make us feel like if we were in the 80's now.

    For all these reasons and the excellent work so far, please receive my sincere thanks and congrats.

    1. Thanks must really go to Tim for agreeing to be interviewed and for sharing his collection. I just do the easy bit of typing it all up.

      Glad you enjoyed it, though!

  2. Great interview!
    John Blanche paying you in artwork, how awesome would that be!
    Between the Legion of the Damned and the Sci Fi conversion you've knocked decades off me :)

    1. I am just so pleased these things still exist and are well looked after, if a little dusty!

  3. Another win, a peerless post once again.

    1. Thanks mate! Oh, and thanks again for all those +1s you have heaped upon me!

  4. I have a painted copy of one of those Goblins in my collection, it is blue well blue and black and that means I used it as a Night Goblin unit champion.

    Here it is in the command section grouping. I still haven't finished that damn army or the bases for that unit. I remember the sword with no point.


    The paint job is a fairly quick one done about 10 or 12 years ago, the model was unpainted in a blister perhaps for a long time as WFB isn't really a priority for me. I don't get to play anymore, but I still follow blogs.

    1. Thanks for sharing your photos. You not tempted to strip that gobbo and give him a bit of a makeover?

  5. Great article. I look forward to reading the next installment.

  6. How awesome would it be a power armoured armadillo squad? The concept is just great!

  7. oh and I forgot to add that Tim must have had the best job ever, being a jack of all trades at citadel in thoses days must have been even greater than being the master of any (it's just a personnal belief). And by Jack I don't mean it in any negative way, the lad has done an amazing work being surrounded by Ansell, Blanche, Goodwin or Gray to name a few...
    (slowly claps his hands with respect)

    1. I think you must be right there! Ha ha! I bet even the tea lady could not out classic sculpts inbetween cups of Earl Grey back in the day!

  8. Great interview.
    The names of the early releases always used to amuse me !
    I love seeing the paint scheme on the Eldar close up too!

  9. Much awesomeness mate, can't wait to see what's next.

  10. Great interview. It is wonderful to hear some backstage stories about the golden age of GW.
    Thanks for so much nostalgia. More more more please.....

  11. Glad you guys enjoyed what Tim had to say!

  12. Thanks again Orlygg for this! The nostalgia is strong with this one!

    I actually met Tim Pollard once, while he was working at the Robin Hood centre in Nottingham! I was only a scrawnt teen back then and I got talking to him and happened to mention I was into these "little miniature things that I paint" and asked him if he'd ever heard of Warhammer! He replied that, yes, in fact he had! And that he worked for them once. He told me to look in the credits of the Rogue Trader book for his name. And when I got home, I looked, and sure enough there he was!

    I also remember him in some White Dwarf photographs of one of the early Games Days, holding a microphone and looking like a member of Iron Maiden!

    Finally, I also am pleased to see all those iconic and classic models I drool over in the pictures of my Rogue Trader book are still around and in the possession of someone who knows their value!

    1. In fact, he's in RT credits twice! Once under Illustrators and again as Copywriter.

  13. The converted Guy was build by Michael Immig in 1986/1987. I saw this Marine live some Month before he and i visit a convention in Hamburg together, where John Blanche was Guest starring.
    Michael and he was overnight at Thomas M.Look who was the Manager of Citadel Miniatures Distribution for Germany, Austria and Swiss. At this Night, Michael gave that Marine John as Gift and John gave him an original color Artwork (this with Hrothyogg & Dwarfs). Some Month after, Michael get from Citadel at in invitation for visiting the Headquarter