Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Old School Interviews with Bob Naismith and David Soper

Bob in his studio circa 1985
One thing I have always been keen to do here at Realm of Chaos 80s is collect good quality old school Citadel coverage and present it to you readers. As the Oldhammer Community has grown, its has become rather scattered and spread out. There is no central point, though the Facebook Group and the Forum act as hubs of sorts. Due to this, I feel it is important to share and support the sterling work done by other old school fans that doesn't, perhaps, get the coverage that it should. When I find a good article, I share it! Simple as that! I also like to promote the blogs of other enthusiasts world wide. 

Well today I have had the pleasure of reading two excellent interviews from two different blogs. I present extracts from those interviews here, with links to the blogs so you can continue your reading pleasure if you so wish. As I would imagine you will want to. Or, indeed, you could just cease to read my waffle and scroll down to reach the handy links as read the articles as they were intended. 

Either way, its win win for me. Of course, if you have an article or blog that you would like promoting then just drop me an email and I will see what I can do. 

Just make sure that you click on the 'followers' options so that the two author's readership grows as they deserve! I WILL be checking too! (:

Anyway, over to axiom and his interview with Citadel sculptor, Bob Naismith. 

axiom: It's probably fair to say that you’ve had a fairly decent innings in the sculpting game! How did you start off sculpting figures and begin in the industry?

BN: Well I did conversions and painted figs (airfix etc) as a teenager (who didn’t?) and started painting wargames figs when I was about 17. This was through an outfit in Glasgow called Wargames Publications Scotland. They asked me to try my hand at making masters. A samurai I recall. They liked it and I liked getting paid so…


axiom: It is your work for Citadel in the 1980s that probably most people are aware of. Could you tell us how you came to work for Citadel?

BN: So I made figures for WPS for a very short period then disappeared off to art school. When I finished I started a company (Naismith Design) with a couple of friends from WPS – we made quite a lot of 28 and 15mm historical ranges and I also made hundreds of naval models for Navwar – who were also in on the Naismith Design enterprise. After I think about three or four years I ended up chatting to Bryan Ansell and the result was that I started work for Citadel in 1981 I think.

axiom: You contributed to a significant number of Citadel fantasy ranges; Fighter, the licensed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons range (I counted over 50 figures in that range alone) and the iconic Fantasy Dark Elves. Could you tell us a little bit about your contributions to these ranges and how you got a reputation for sculpting evil Elves?

BN: Well in those days making model soldiers was a very fast and furious game. Citadel would publish several codes of miniatures per month – sometimes 150+ masters. Even with a team of sculptors that was quite hard to achieve. The main codes like fighters, wizards etc was a staple and we would usually end up specialising. I had a dabble at most of them. Every now and then one sculptors style would ‘fit’ with a specific code – the dark elves seemed to do that for me and I made quite a few. I still have an army of them if anyone wants to make me an offer!

The dark elf look was derived from art by John Blanche and Tony Ackland for the most part but once the look was set it was easy to go forward without it.

On the other ranges – I was for a time in charge of the other sculptors (apologies guys!) and during this time I was responsible for making sure that Bryan Ansell had as many of the codes that he needed each month to satisfy the sales teams. The upshot of this was that I had to generate extra models from existing used masters (conversions) and the codes show that – ie same body/different head etc etc.

Whoah! Hold your horses... If you want to hear more from Bob then I am afraid you are going to have to visit axiom's blog, Magpie and Old Lead. There you can discover all about Bob's views on Rogue Trader, the plastic technologies pioneered by Citadel and what Bob did after he left Citadel. 

Oh, and while you are there, don't forget to follow axiom's blog as it deserves a much wider readership. I have just joined his site so I do hope you follow my example.

Continue the interview here.

The second of the interviews I have uncovered deals with the double Slayer Sword winning mega-painter, David Soper. David was interviewed by Kaleb Hordes, author of Oldhammer in the New World. I have written about this blog before as Kaleb hopes his site to become a focal point for the Oldhammer Movement in the USA. Back when I first wrote about his blog, he had no follower's gadget but thankfully kaleb has seen the error of his ways and included one, so you to can follow his output in the future.

Anyway, here is a taster of what you will get on his blog. 

[OITNW]: From reading your blog, you left the hobby for a while and rediscovered your passion. Your Nurgle Predator tank was the highlight of the last of the old school Fantasy Miniatures books. How did you get into miniatures originally? What was the timeline, and how long were you out of the hobby? And what allowed you to rediscover that passion?

[DS]: I became aware of miniature painting through playing fantasy role playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. It must have been some time around 1980 after a group of my school friends came back from a trip to London where they’d visited the (one and only) Games Workshop store in Dalling Road. Amidst all the goodies they bought back was a small collection of metal miniatures, a mix of Citadel and Ral Partha as best I can recall. From the moment I clapped eyes on those tiny dull grey figures I was hooked! I absolutely knew that this hobby was for me.
          I’d already developed a strong aptitude for art but my work had a tendency to get bogged down in lots of tiny tight detail. I sensed that here was a hobby where I could direct all that obsessiveness to good effect. It would also have the unexpected benefit helping to free up my painting and drawing style enough so that I could progress with my studies and work towards a place at art college.

I sent off for a Citadel miniatures catalogue and in due course received my first ever minis. A mixture of fantasy tribe orcs and trolls. Over the following years, as I left school and went to art college, I would spent my spare time painting minis, and I began to develop and refine my technique. At first there was no guidance out there at all, and I learned by trial and error. I can still remember the day when I quite accidentally discovered dry brushing – that was a revelation! It was through the pages of White Dwarf magazine that I gained exposure to a wider world of miniature painting, and an awareness of just how much there was to learn.                                 Then we come to 1987 and the first Golden Demon Competition. I thought I was quite good; but I had no contact with any other painter or their work, so I had no objective way of gauging the standard of my minis. That year I didn’t get past the regional heats! It gave me a kick in the pants and fired up the drive to prove that I too could make it to the finals.                                  By GD 1988 Southampton had it’s own Games Workshop store and I was getting to connect with other painters. I made it through to the finals, held at the Victoria Leisure Centre in Nottingham, and I really could not have been happier. I didn’t expect anything more so when I won gold in two categories I was genuinely shocked. This made me reappraise myself as a figure painter. From this point on I focused my efforts on improving my painting with success at the Golden Demons my goal.                                                                                                                            I managed to repeat my success in 1989 and it was during the award ceremony that I decided to see of I could take it further and win the sword. All my painting and sculpting efforts over the next year were focused on that goal. The Nurgle Predator was the result of six months of intensive work, it was by far the biggest and most ambitious project I had attempted to date.             At the 1990 finals I was a mess of nerves, I’d put everything I had into this one model. I’ve little clear memory of the awards ceremony itself. When my Predator won the Sword the world seemed to explode around me. I found myself standing on the stage with the sword held up over my head and no memory of how I got up there!                                                                                    Winning the Sword in 1990 was a huge deal for me and remains one of my proudest achievements. But now I’d done that I had to consider my next move. I came to realize that I really wanted was to simply get back to painting minis for my own pleasure. Over the following years that’s exactly what I did. I’ve never been a fast painter and as I focused my efforts on refining my technique and finish, my output slowed. As time passed, and other interests developed, that pattern continued until it wasn’t unusual for me to have only one mini finished in a year. Looking back I can also see that, although my technique developed, my painting style remained pretty much the same.                                                                                                                       The period where I dropped right out of the hobby is probably no longer than three or four years. I remember quite clearly that, by 2002, I no longer considered myself a mini painter. I tried to paint some of the new Fellowship of the Rings minis and failed abysmally.  Through lack of practice I had lost my technique and confidence. I was surprised by how much of a sense of loss that gave me.                                                                                                                                                Although I was no longer painting I kept an eye on the hobby through the occasional copy of White Dwarf and increasingly through the Internet. It was around this time I discovered cool mini or not. The hobby had evolved and I was blown away by the realism and sophistication of technique now being employed by many painters. It was inspiring but very daunting.                                 What followed was a process of being drawn gently back into the hobby through some of my other interests. Around 2006 I started painting minis with an Egyptian theme and then in 2011 I painted some Dr Who minis that I made into a diorama. I found that I was hooked all over again.                                                                                                                                                            My technique didn’t return overnight and I really had to work very hard at regaining it. Knowing that I could once do this was a double-edged sword feeding both my frustration and my drive to do it again! As I regained lost experience my confidence grew and I finally got to the point where I felt my skill was back to where it had been. It was a great feeling and served as a jumping off point for a new era. I was back up to speed but I was not up to date!                                        Through blogs and forums the online painting community has been the thing that has really made the difference. I’m able to see other painter’s work and get my work seen by them. There is a sharing of ideas and experience, and an exposure to other ways of working that’s had a wholly positive affect on my work.                                                                                                          I struggled for a while with the feeling that I was that guy basking in the glory of a twenty three year old success. I really wanted my painting to be up to date and relevant to the modern scene.Unfortunately I’ve often (but not always) had the term ‘old school’ used as a negative criticism of my work. That’s a shame and, I think, rather narrow-minded.                                                    The big thing that enabled me to develop my ‘modern’ style as a painter was acknowledging and embracing my old school roots. This came together for me when I painted the Hellion that won the 40k single mini gold. To me that mini feels like a fusion of old and new, and it sparked off a period of experimentation that resulted in the Dark Eldar diorama. 

Again, I am afraid you are going to have to hold your horses here. If you want to read more about David Soper's career and see more incredible examples of his painting, then you are going to have to follow the link here

Feeder links to both blogs can be found below too!



  1. Sorry about the dodgy formatting!

    1. Don't worry about that - it's all good stuff!
      (I'm going to be all virtuous here because I'm already following both of them!)

  2. Thanks for the second mention, Orlygg! Want to check out Axioms now! And I'm getting a new camera, so more stuff on my blog soon! And yes, it looks like we may actually have the place and date - more details forthcoming soon!

  3. Funny how I just realised there's a tiny turret mounted laspistol under the huge autocannon on this tank !
    Both great blogs and great work from you.
    All these greta interviews should definitely find their place on the forum or another storage facility. They're like pieces of a huge puzzle and with every new piece, it's always nice to get a clearer viex of the big picture. thnak you guys fo rthe work and thank you Orlygg for supporting it!

  4. Thanks for the links Orlygg. I am now following both. It was a big help because I could not find Attila 13, now I know. I hope that, through OitNW, we can start putting together a Blog-con/ Brig out your lead type event here in the states.

    1. Well , the forum is already full of fellow Americans too... ^^

  5. Thanks for the repost Orlygg - my blog stats show I've had plenty of traffic from here as a result. Your blog inspired me to start my own, so you can think of mine as spawned from your own chaotic substance if you will ;)