Saturday, 2 January 2016

So what was your first miniature?

Psychostyrene Dwarf Artwork used as the backing art for the blister they were sold in.
As miniature collectors and painters we ask each other all kinds of questions. How much did you pay for that miniature? How did you achieve that effect with paint? What are the rules for using chariots? I could continue in this way for most of the day, easily, as I suspect could any other grognard. 

One question that we don't seem to ask very much concerns that moment in time, long past, when we bought our very first miniature. For the first time, we peeled open one of those blister packs and held a miniature in our grubby hands, or perhaps tore away the cellophane wrapping around a Big Box Game, like the immortal Heroquest, and sat gaping at the mass of plastic sprues that lay before us. 

So to ask my question: What was your first ever miniature and in what year did you buy it in?

Casting my mind back, it is actually pretty difficult to be sure what my first miniature (or miniatures) actually were. I know when I bought them, in late '88 in Wonderworld near Bournemouth. Surprisingly, the shop is still there, though not quite in the original location, and it concentrates on the comics trade these days, so I doubt that there will be a copy of Rogue Trader left on the shelves after all this time. I am 90% sure that the first pack of models I bought were these: 



Oxy O'Cetylene and the Tinman. But I have vague memories of having a Paranoia robot or two way back then, so it may have been one of those, though it is more likely that I bought both at the same time. I can recall spotting the advert for Wonderworld in White Dwarf and badgering my dad to take me. The shop wasn't far from a Model Railway Shop and dad was a keen enthusiast of steam trains, so was happy enough to take me after I had spent what felt like forever wandering around looking at tracks and signal boxes. 

I can still feel that excitement upon entering Wonderworld that day. It was dark, dingy but crammed from floor to ceiling with gaming kit. Car Wars, Dr Who soundtracks (illegal copies on tape), roleplaying books and rows of movie tat. Then there was the enormous Blister Wall and the boxes and boxes of Games Workshop products. I expect that Oxy and friend were part of a bargain bin lot, as I can faintly recall grubbing around in a pile of battered blisters. Being a parent now, I know that you don't really want to spend much when your offspring get interested in something new, you must purchase something cheap first to check that the interest level maintains itself before spending the serious money. So I guess that is what dad did. 

When I got home, I used pots of Humbrol enamel to paint the Tinman but considered Oxy too fiddly to attempt in that first session. Though later, I did use the paints I had for my plastic Airfix Napoleonics to blob colours on Oxy. He didn't look a pretty sight and my dad put him in turps so I could have another go. Which I did a few years later, when I painted him up as a leaving gift for my Teacher, Mr Cooper. Sadly, in my teaching career, none of my pupils have presented me with an unusual Citadel miniature at the end of the year! 

And so Oxy left me. The Tinman lived on for a while, taking part in many a battle on the bedroom floor. In my games, he was elevated to a more powerful central character, and fought a long war against the ogre, Vomitbreath, until suffering that most serious injury of the snapped ankle. In the days before I knew about pinning, this meant retirement for any of my models. But this disaster had a positive outcome in future years, as because he was broken, my Tinman model survived the two periods of 'selling off the collection' that I carried out in the early 2000s. Hence, I was able to find him in my garage the other day when I was thinking about our question at hand. 

After a spell in the Dettol, I attempted to clean the Tinman up, and in doing so nearly lost his other foot! At some time in the past I must have repaired both feet, but I had clearly forgotten that and risked losing a vital piece of him down the plug hole. Once clean, I did a really decent job of pinning him back together with decent wire. I left a long piece of wire sticking out of each foot and used them to attach him very securely onto a large, square base. Luckily, some time ago I picked up a second Oxy from eBay as I knew that I had the Tinman lying around somewhere. Scrabbling around in the collection for a while, I spotted him in the odds and sods bag in the Welsh Dresser and the two were re-united once again (even if Oxy is an imposter!) 


If you didn't know, the Tinman and Oxy were a limited edition release and were part of a scenario published in White Dwarf called the Crude, the Mad and the Rusty. There are only 6 models in this little collection and the scenario includes the original, and highly sought after, Skrag the Slaughterer. I may have a go at tracking down the rest of the models one day, to make Oxy and Tinman feel even more at home. 



If you are interested in finding out a little more about the scenario (including it's brain-meltingly bad full colour game board) then I have embedded a link to issue 83 of White Dwarf via Scribd. The scenario details begin on page 30 so it is pretty easy to just scroll through the other pages to find it. 

I suppose that simply sharing the story of your first miniature is not going to be challenge enough for some folk, me included. So I took things a step further forwards and set about actually painting my 'first ever miniature/s' in glorious technicolour. 


And here they are! Apologies for the unsightly blond hair, but my three year old daughter was playing with my scenery just before I took this little shot and left one of her little markers for us all to enjoy. Perhaps it is chaos tape worm? As you can see, Oxy is an interesting little dwarf wearing grubby working clothes, so I chose a suitably oily blue for his overalls and a dirty brown for the apron. Both painted up very easily. It was very easy to just basecoat the metal parts silver, give them a black and chestnut ink wash and highlight with two lighter shades of the colour. I added a few little spot colours to the other tools in the apron, which you can just about make out in my photograph, as well as using silver once again ti pick out files, hammers and screwdrivers. 

The flesh tone was my usual method, with an added layer of red to make Oxy seem a little more ruddy than normal. I used a red ink wash to draw attention to the spots that cover his face (though they might also be warts, I suppose?) and dotted their heads with a little yellow. His blond beard was easy enough to paint on, again with layering but I chose to fiddle around a bit more with his welding mask and blow-torch. 

The mask was a case of basecoating in a sliver/black mix and washing over in black ink and wiping away the excess on the flat surfaces with a damp brush. I then drybrushed over the top in silver to bring out the detail. Blue ink was dribbled into the eyeholes to give them a slightly different glassy sheen. The blowtorch started out much the same, only I watered down the blue ink wash and used it to glaze over the silver paint, giving the torch a blue tint. Once dry, I just drybrushed over with silver and used straight ink (black and brown) to make the end of the torch look used. Then, all I had to do was base him and old Oxy was complete.

Tinman was a little different. A nice black/silver mix created my basecoat and I washed over the lot with black ink. A brown ink wash followed up to create rusty patches here and there. Once dry, I blocked in a mid silver all over the body, leaving plenty of black lining to create depth, and highlighted in pure silver. Here and there I painted a few brass sections and a red wheel on a gas tap for interest. Then it was just a case of basing him in a similar way to Oxy and he too was done, though I may come back to him later and tart him up a bit more when I buy a brighter silver paint. 

So, to conclude. There is my story of the first miniature I ever bought: The LE14 Oxy O'Cetylene and Tinman blister. For bonus points I have tracked down the actual models and given them a sparkling new paintjob. Now, dear reader, you can do something for me! Kindly share with me the details of what YOUR first miniature was and the year you bought it. I'd love to know!

Oh, and if you fancy a challenge, why not have a go at tracking down those models once again and repainting them with all the flair you can muster today. Just let me know somehow because I would love to see what you come up with. 

Looking forwards to hearing your stories!

Orlygg

42 comments:

  1. I really don't remember the first minis I bought, though they were probably chaos warriors. The first GW item I remember buying was The Lost and the Damned. I bought it at the Phoenix and Dragon in Atlanta. The first miniature I remember owning was a chainsaw warrior. I also don't remember the first miniature I painted.

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    1. The Lost and the Damned is certainly a worthy first purchase, and I do hope that you still own that book and it is part of your collection. Chainsaw Warrior as a first model, eh? It is funny how many of us pick up something rather random in the early days, isn't it?

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    2. I sure do. I'm very proud to still own the same copy. I missed the copy of Slaves to Darkness the store had, but managed to pick a copy up on ebay 10 or so years later. I don't even know how I ended up with that chainsaw warrior, but I remember having him. lol

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  2. A Citadel D-series minotaur, in 1989, from GW Preston. Which was odd, because I don't live in Preston. Or near it.

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    1. A worthy choice for a first model - but did you ever manage to paint the minotaur?

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  3. Nice.

    I got four unbagged minis, for 10p each, from a drawer in a model shop, in ?1982.

    First 'proper' (ie bagged/blistered mini) was one of the C06 Series of Northern Dwarves - middle of top row here http://www.solegends.com/citc/c06ndwarves.htm in 1984. One of the wings on his helmet was miscast.

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    1. The days of the miniature drawer behind the counter! These were phasing out quick when I got into the business of collecting, though I can recall some of the bigger kits would tear on the hanger and were bagged up at the bag of one of the stores I frequented. 10p each! According to the historic inflation calculator 10p back then would be 34p today! If only prices has remained that way we'd all have a fair few completed armies!

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  4. The first miniatures I bought and painted myself were Esci Napoleonics in 1986: a box of British Infantry and an equal number of French Infantry.
    The first Warhammer ones weren't until a few years later: the plastic Space Orks box (great value, very versatile) from my newly-opened Cardiff GW store.

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    1. I had loads of plastic soldiers as a kid, largely Airfix, though they were much smaller figures and to this day I don't consider them to be true miniatures!! But I wonder how many of us truly started with WW2 and Napoleonics! As for the plastic Space Ork set, I can recall it very well, as my School friend Tim McBride had this along with the ork battlewagon. We ruined them trying to stick them together with tube polystyrene glue!

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  5. The first mini's I bought for myself were Minifigs Mythical Earth range Citadel Guard, first Citadel mini's that I can remember were the Lords of Law box set.

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    1. The Lords of Law? Were there two different sets of those back in the day? I have a growing fondness for the old Citadel pre-slotta stuff, especially the box sets that you describe.

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  6. Got my tinman all painted up too. Love the model. http://dirkenthorn.blogspot.ca/2014/01/le14-tinman-and-oxy-ocetylene.html

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    1. Great work there, though your interpretation of the Tinman is a tad more rusty than my own. I was wondering, was your model ever damaged at the ankle? It seems that a great number of these models suffered a similar fate as my own!

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  7. Not counting those random bags of plastic 15mm soldiers everyone seems to have growing up, my first miniatures were from the HeroQuest set whenever that came out. 1991? Alas, I no longer have any of the miniatures but I recall that the only one I managed to paint was the barbarian; I followed the advice given in -- of all places -- a Traveller rpg book, and tried to paint it using only washes over a plain white base coat, but I didn't have inks so I used watered down Humbrol paints, resulting in a murky greyish-brown all over!

    (I have since used a similar technique -- with inks this time! -- and it's worked much better.)

    My brother came to visit at some point and painted the gargoyle; he was -- and is -- a much more practised painter so did a much better job, but because his interests lie in WWII modelling he had no idea what colours to use so I ended up with what can only be described as a "disco" gargoyle!

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    1. Disco Gargoyle? So he was a Tzeentch follower then? A great story that! Part of me is glad that we didn't have the photography options back then as we do now, or the world would be full of appalling paint jobs! Things are much easier now for the beginner as paint technology has moved on. You can just basecoat and wash these days and produce reasonable results with a little practise - oh, and enamels have been replaced by acrylics!

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  8. Fist metal models I ever got came in a box set from Heritage Miniatures - Dungeon Dwellers, Caverns of Doom. I traded some Matchbox cars for them... maybe 1980? In fact, I still have them and I have repainted some of them in the last few years. I'll post 'em on Stro'Knor Macekiller as 'Orlygg's Challenge'!

    Weirdly, I don't remember the first Warhammer model - it might have actually been Rogue Trader with a squad of metal Space Marines. I bought ALOT of Warhammer Fantasy and Rogue Trader stuff in the early 90's and it's hard to remember which came first!

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    1. I am looking forwards to seeing those models when you post 'em. Personal stories like these fascinate me enormously. You mention buying a great swathe of models back in the day, and it was much the same for me. My early years focussed of random collecting, often spurred on by what I had seen in White Dwarf. One early set I recall loving were the Rogue Trader Chaplains! I think I still have some of them somewhere - now that would be a project for a long weekend! In fact, I am off to look for them now!

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    2. The closest store to sell Warhammer models was about a two-hour drive one way. Mail order was still annoying at this point, especially for an overseas company. When I made the trek to the shop, I often bought whatever was on the rack that took my fancy without regard to army lists, though I did try to buy units. I had quite a varied collection in the early days.

      The Heritage minis will stretch across three posts, starting Monday...

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    3. I look forwards to seeing those posts. I have fond memories of the 'impulse buying' that you describe. With limited funds, I just picked up what I though looked interesting and never cared one iota for the army list. Hang on, I am pretty much like that now still!

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    4. That was how my friends and I collected back in the day. The closest GW was a toss-up between Bristol, Southhampton or Torquay so we relied on the fickle whims of verious independent traders in the area when it came to buying new models.
      I can remember being insanely jealous after a friend found a space ork battlewagon on a market stall in Bridport, which he then lorded over us

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  9. Plastic beakie marines from the box. My brother and I didn't have a lot of resources for figs, so it was a long awaited gift, and pretty freaking exciting.

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    1. One of the greatest releases in history, surely? Those early plastic kits that Citadel put out (the other being Skeleton Horde) have really stood the test of time in my opinion, and are as good now as they were then. No fiddly additions mind, but with a bit of practise and skill, anything was possible.

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  10. GHQ 1/285 BRDM-1 swatter/sagger pack and 1 pack of GHQ Chieftain tanks back in 1981/82. My first GHQ figs was a pack of lead Beakie marines.

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    1. Good old Marines - they have a lot to answer for don't they?

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  11. Not counting the plastics from Heroquest and Space Crusade, my first proper Citadel miniature was Leman Russ. I'd only just discovered/had my mind blown by White Dwarf (thanks to a relative's collection) and then stumbled across Australia's first GW store (Sydney) which hadn't even had it's grand opening yet.
    Walking into that place was a dream come true, it was like the stars had aligned haha.

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    1. White Dwarf was certainly an awakening for many, myself included. I hope it still has the same affect on the youth of today! Though, I loved the sense of greasy danger the staff of the magazine oozed back in the '80s, all motorbikes and missing teeth.

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  12. I know it was one of the original Lord of the Rings figures but tricky remembering which. I think it was the half orcs of Saruman. I know I wrecked those figures painting them up with Humbrol paints :(

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    1. It seems that wrecking figures with enamel paint is a pretty standard rite of passage for grognards!! We are all guilty and thankfully, very little of it remains to shame us today!

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  13. My first mini that I painted was a Minifigs 15mm American Civil War infantryman. I got a few packs of ACW miniatures for Christmas from my parents because I had shown some interest in that period. Also right after Christmas we took a trip out of town to a mall that had a Hobby Shop in it and I picked up some of Minifigs 25mm World of Greyhawk figure packs. I still have a few but some are missing weapons and shields. I wish I held onto everything but such is life.

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    1. Oh, how I miss the out of town hobby shop. Once it seemed that every town had one, now sadly only a few remain. I wonder if sticky carpets were a non-negotiable?

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  14. Grenadier Horrors of the Marsh, I think I was six years old (just don't put them in your mouth, dear!) - a gift from my brother, couldn't believe I had my very own set of minis. Immediately bathed them in Testor's enamel (part of the the restoration was removing that). First Citadels was a curious set of 10 Space Marines, metal with plastic packs, came in a strange clear plastic box with a slide-lid, I've never seen it since. Still got them all.

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    1. Hello Ghola, nice to hear from you again. I remember the type of boxes you describe and I got a half regiment of Manflayers in one in the late '80s. Like an idiot I sold the lot off.

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  15. I think my first miniature purchase was a Ral Partha ninja, or possibly Grenadier barbarians, I'm not too sure.

    It wasn't what I'd call my first miniature though, I'd dabbled with a Citadel Fighter which I recognised in a compendium, the one with the Ziggurat of Doom, I loved that catalogue, but my first true miniature I'd call the HeroQuest barbarian, what else!

    I just didn't buy those ones though.

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    1. The Heroquest figures have a fondness to a great number of us, and everyone knows that the barbarian is the best of the bunch!

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  16. My first purchases were the C22 young adventurers cart and the C29 giant carniverous bird, both from Shrewsbury Model Centre in about 1989.

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    1. I have since bought that cart, and got it painted - a lovely model. Do you still have the carnivorous bird I wonder, as it is model you don't seem to see very often, though Foundry do do a modern version? Looking back, we certainly made some rather bizarre first choices, didn't we?

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  17. First that I painted was an orc from HeroQuest (the gateway drug for myself and so many of my peers).
    The first that I owned were some metal Space Marines and the old multipart plastic space ork box.

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    1. Heroquest generated so much excitement!! The figures, the furniture, the playing board and most importantly, the potential for adventure brought so many people into fantasy wargaming, I am still surprised that no-one has really tried to copy the trick!

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  18. Ah, nostalgia...

    Despite it being way back in the mists of time I can still remember my first miniature purchase - it consisted of one box of Despoiling Hobgoblins (the box with the leader), a blister of half-orcs (to represent my role-playing character) and the Citadel Colour Paint Set. I bought them from the Sheffield GW store (on the Moor) with some hard-earned birthday money, so that would have made it at the back-end of July 1985. The Hobgoblins were the first ones to suffer the indignity of being daubed with paint by my thirteen year old hands...

    I'm already looking to get my hands on the Hobgoblins again to include as mercenaries for my new Orc & Goblin army, and assuming I can find some at a reasonable price I'll certainly try and meet your challenge at some point... Just don't ask me when.

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    1. And when you, I would love to see those hobgoblins all painted up! But will you be using hobgoblin orange?

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  19. Started painting toy soldiers in the early eighties and got my first Citadel set in Copenhagen in 1988. It was the Undead War Machines starring Morbius and his gang of great looking skellies! I didn´t understand how it was humanly possible to paint them to such an amazing standard as they were on the box. Had never heard of shading and highlighting etc. Today, so many years later, I finally got a hold on the set again and I cannot begin to describe the fantastic feeling it is to paint those great minis again! For the last 5 years or so I have only been painting Forge World models and although they are incredible detailed and realistic the old Citadel gems are so much more fun to paint. Like being a kid again but this time with talent.
    Thank you, Orlygg, for this wonderful site!

    And if there are anybody out there who´s got a spare head for the skeleton chariot please let me know! I will pay a good price ´cause it´s the only part I need to complete the set and it´s a pretty important part!
    Just write to: wuotan2000@yahoo.dk

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  20. My first miniatures was a Tom Meir blister pack of high elves. I think I was attracted to them because they looked very graceful and slight! That was around 1984, I remember having a a mock battle with them, in the back of dads escort. Sadly I lost those guys, but luckily I still have a very healthy collection of old hammer since those heady days :)

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