Tuesday, 18 November 2014

For Whom the Bell Trolls: Trolls in 2nd and 3rd Edition Warhammer

I love trolls.

Not the kind who lurk on internet forums the world over, usually hiding behind a pseudonym and a computer screen, that must spout forth how 'correct' their opinion is and how 'foolish' everyone else is. I am sure you will know one or two characters like that by now.

I love the big, ugly and stupid variety (actually, they sound rather similar to the latter, don't you think?) who were uncommonly popular during the 1980s. My interest in them was sparked when I came across the ad for Aly Morrison's C20 Trolls, released in 1985, which I have used to begin this post.

What I didn't realise is that in 2nd and 3rd Edition Warhammer there was more to a troll than being a troll, there were different types, some of which remain in the game twenty-five years or more later. Namely, Marsh Trolls, Cave Trolls, Hill Trolls and Warrior Trolls. Discovering this got me thinking - what type of troll would my troll (Throgg, give a little cheer if you have met him!) be?

Considering that he carries but a stone, is even more stupid that the average troll and wears nothing but a lioncloth that a dwarf with very poor personal hygiene would look at, turn green and ask to leave the room I would say he was a Hill Troll.

Its clear that the four models heralded by the advertisment reflect each of the four types of troll. But what of the others? Which are which and can you decide for you own trolls? Let's have a look at some of the troll miniatures that were put out in the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, trolls had long be popular and models of them have been made since the 1970s. Follow the links below to Solegends if you want to know more about these, I have just selected the miniatures that reflect the 'look' of Warhammer 2 and 3 as I see it.

These trolls were produced by the Perry Twins as far as I can tell. They are comical and rather gangly but have that brutal stupidity that one would expect from these slow-witted creatures. They are also blessed with some of the best names ever created for trolls (perhaps via Tim 'I make up the names' Pollard?) such as Dovogrod Gutsucker, Shakined Bone Bender, Rattlebones Bowlegs and Grog Stuntycrusher among others.

I love these models and they are my prefered ones to represent these rather dim-witted of monsters. Sadly, I have never been able to lay my hands on any of them for a decent price so I suspect that are very popular with other collectors and old school gamers too! 

Here we have slightly different painted versions of the models shown in the advertisment at the top of the page. Until, I spotted the image I was totally unaware of the existance of the 'Warrior Troll' model shown here. Its funny how despite years of research, article writing and months spent trawling eBay, there are new models and ranges to discover!
This range is my second favourite, and are made all the more desirable to me knowing that they represent different types of troll. Chap with the large tree trunk is my favourite of the bunch! 

I threw this example in because I love Kev Adam's stuff. If memory serves, this was one of the very first models that was put into production designed by the Goblinmaster. Kev once told me that there was a second version of this model, a variant that he made but was never produced. I am pretty sure he said he still had it somewhere, so hopefully we will get to see it one day!

Again this is a very popular model. Try finding one under £40 and you are on to a good thing! 

Now these are a real surprise and further echo the fact that despite the years and intensive research there are still plenty of things to discover. For example, these two unreleased trolls were produced by former GW camerawhizz, Phil Lewis, presumably around 1990 and as of yesterday I had no idea that they even existed.

Seeing them makes me wonder if they had any connection with the background book/article about trolls that Graeme Davis told me he once worked on, and that was rejected for no clear reason. Who knows?

Trolls from Marauder Miniatures : Aly Morrison

Finally, we have the Marauder trolls put out in 1989. If you look closely, you can just make out good old Throgg, only with blue skin and no Slaaneshi marking on his beer gut. Like the trolls we have already seen, these are all grotesquely good fun, but seem to be a little more coherent as a group. At this point in Warhammer's history, there seems to have been a drive to standardise the 'look' of many of the creatures and units coming out for the game. This had positive and negative results as we all know, just look at the Big Hat Chaos Dwarfs!
So then, trolls!
Do you love them or loathe them?
And can you work out what type of troll your troll is?


  1. My book was mainly about Ogres (I guess the Ogre Kingdoms army book ended up filling whatever role it would have played), with coverage of Trolls as a side issue. It was a weird sort of concept for the time.

    I had been thinking about an article along the lines of Phil's "Out of the Garden" which would cover Ogres as an optional PC race for WFRP. I liked the idea of Ogre mercenaries, bodyguards, and so forth. When I mentioned this, Phil (who was now in management) told me that there was interes in creating a series of systemless sourcebooks to expand the Warhammer background, and that I could write the first one on Ogres and Trolls. Contracts were issued and signed, I wroter a first draft, and you know the rest. I wasn't aware of any particular interest in promoting Ogres or Trolls in and of themselves - it was just that my idea to cover them coincided with another idea for a series of books that had come up elsewhere.

    As far as I know, no other books in this series were even commissioned. The concept itself seemed rather woolly. Perhaps it was linked to the line of thinking that led to the 3-volume Space Ork series: give the creatives their head (the Space Ork books were art driven) and publish everything even if the project snowballs. I don't really know.

    Looking back, I think it would have been good to have Trolls better defined. Look at these miniatures, for example - there are various different types of trolls represented here, but the rules only gave one racial profile. I think there are fan-made rules for Ogre PCs in WFRP1, and I'm still sure that Ogres could add something to the racial mix of a big city like Middenheim or Marienburg.

  2. I too have a great fondness for trolls...though like many things in the WFB world I actually prefer the slightly more "standardized" look of the Marauder Trolls that you pictured above. Of course I also have that C20 Warrior Troll and he is a real bad ass. In fact I quite like the river and stone trolls that were released during 4th edition....One of which won we first place in the large figure category of the painting contest at OHNW.

    Thanks for another excellent article.

  3. I love them!
    The CItadel Trolls were great sets of miniatures, full of character and charm. I personally thought they had more of a 'Fairytale' and 'Folklore' feel to them than some of the other models. They are full of great details and all very individual.

    I always wondered if the Cave Troll was releated to the C series Ogre Shaman as they have similar looking horned head, also reminisent of the Ogre from the film 'Time Bandits'.
    Also with the TV/Film theme, the Marsh Troll always fondly reminded me of the late actor John Laurie who played Private Frasier in Dad's army. Every time I look at the model I think of the Troll I can imagine it saying "We're Doomed!".

    The Giant Hill Troll is one of my favourite models, and I keep meaning to repaint it.

    I was never a fan of the Marauder Trolls until I painted them up a few years ago. Depsite thier different style, they have just as much charm as the Citadel ones from the 1980's.

    I second Blue in VT, another excellent article :)

  4. I also like the mid-90's stone and river trolls. They were full of character -- the stone trolls had a Jim Henson look to them -- and it seems that the stone trolls are popular enough to remain in production today.

  5. I love Aly Morrison's early trolls - the spindly Marauder Trolls less so (although I think Kelvin nailed it when he says they have a Jim Henson look to them).
    In any case, trolls are a ton of fun in a WHFB game. Very frustrating too. Mine are always on the wrong side of the Stupidity roll. But when eventually they do get around to charging an enemy and puking all over them, dissolving my opponents in fetid stomach juices... well, that's what makes life worth living, no?

  6. Love them! I have the two on the right of the Aly Morrison set, Shat and Fred now according to Erny's naming table for Warlord.

  7. Great article! I too love trolls.

    I have been converting a lot of trolls lately, mostly for use in Blood Bowl. Nothing too old or rare, but I had some older ones that were sadly broken and in need of some surgery (or disability benefits). I had not previously noticed it, but it seems like the trolls of yester-year had one more finger (on each hand...) than the modern trolls! Basically it seems the Marauders (I am repairing the top right green fella) lost a finger and evolved into the Stone Trolls from the 90s, as far as I can tell, as these retain the gangly look and muppet-faces that I like (in trolls).

    I don't mind the more uniform look of trolls, but fail to see why they would all be the same colour, as they often are when people paint units of them.