Sunday, 13 March 2016

Behind the Scenes at Citadel Miniatures: Darren Matthew's Photographs

Photograph A
One of our heroes, ex- '80s 'Eavy Metaller Darren Matthews, recently shared a few snaps of himself at work in the Nottingham Games Workshop store during one of those famous 'Painting Demonstrations' they used to do. 

I knew as soon as I saw these on Facebook that readers of this blog would be interested in them, especially those of your who do not frequent that particular social media site. It has long been my policy to share little nuggets like this, partly to ensure that the wider community gets to see them but to also preserve them for prosperity. Facebook feeds disappear quickly! 

I have provided a little bit of a commentary for each photograph. 

Photograph A: The first thing that strikes me here is the fact that Darren is holding a second brush in his mouth. I asked him about this (as I can recall seeing a lot of the '80s painters doing this) and he quite an interesting story to tell. 

DM: The brush in the mouth was for quick blending when we were painting fast, and in the end it became a habit. This was before wet palettes were used and blending was required on a model. The studio was always very warm and so paint dried very fast. It also helped when you were using a larger brush to have a finer point ready to neaten up details, or have a second brush ready with the highlight to run into the area you needed to blend. Some days when you had six or seven figures to paint, you have to become very fast!

The case is also very interesting. It strongly resembles the box in which John Blanche's famous undead diorama sits in. Viewed for the side, you can see that cuboid blocks of what looks like polystyrene have been placed on top of each other and covered over with the paper backed 'grass' we all used to use back then. On top you can see the famous Nurgle Rhino - which I located in one of Bryan Ansell's cabinets not so long ago - only here you can see that there were once many more nurglings on the top than there are now. It is hard to make out what else is in the cabinet from this angle - a Space Wolves predator tank can also be seen perched on the top, with a titan in between the two larger models.

Of course, if you look behind Darren and have a glance at the stock in the store it is enough to make the collector in me weep. Rows of mint Warhammer Third edition books, Warhammer Armies and Townscape!! If you look carefully, you can see that there are also a row of comics on sale which all have a rather un-GW look about them!

My photograph of Darren's rhino - is it me, or are there not so many nurglings left?
Photograph B
Photograph B: Here we get a better shot of Darren and can see more of the store and that interesting miniature case. When I spoke to Darren, I asked about all of the models in the display case. They are all his own work. If you look closely you can see some very well known painted examples, including the famous red Ork Nob in power armour, the Bob Olley ogre and one of the original Bloodbowl star players. He went on to say that the Space Wolf predator tank on top was the original prototype model kit. The 'first' ever predator if you like. 

The rather obnoxious posters advertise some of the other painters in the 'Eavy Metal team at that time. The well known Ivan Bartleet (where IS he now?) and Rich Hodgkinson. Sadly, I never got the chance to visit a GW store when one of the resident painters were in and often wondered what went on. Having seen many of the models on display in that cabinet at Stoke Hall I can well imagine the excitement a visitor would feel coming face to face with models they had been gawping at for years!!

Having a look at the murky world of the store reveals more impossible treasure. The complete run of WFRP bar Empire in Flames, plastic Imperial Guard in the miniature display case and the bottom rungs of the blister wall! 

Photograph C
Photograph C: This picture is the most fascinating of all. It was taken inside the famous Games Workshop design studio during development of the Adeptus Titanicus game and shows a very rare 'work in progress' shot of a late '80s game system. I asked Darren about what he could recall of this project.

DM: I cannot remember what did or didn't end up in the final game, as development was ongoing by the time I left the company. The large mock up white landship things never made it into production and I think Tony Cottrell was behind them. The Rhinos and Land Raiders in the picture were changed as they damaged the moulds and the final product ended up looking more simple than first imagined. I know a lot of the terrain was totally scratch built from all sorts of different materials and household junk. A real 'Blue Peter' effort went into it and I made small bits of it and Tony built the rest. 

You can see many of the famous painted titans later published in White Dwarf in this shot. Steve Casey published a detailed blog post about them some year ago. Check out the link here. I love being able to see them as work in progresses too. Try comparing the miniatures you can see in this photograph with the models you can see in the 'Eavy Metal article below. 


Of course, the biggest puzzle are those large 'grav' tank models. If you look, you can see that there are clear gun emplacements and that troops seem to be 'hitching a ride' on them. What were they made from? I am no expert but the casts look like plaster to me. More importantly, what exactly were they supposed to be? And how would they have been incorporated into the game? Perhaps they are not tanks at all, but buttresses or forts? 

If anyone from the studio back then is reading this - we would love to know!

With the talk of genestealer cults popular once more, I shall leave this little article with this lovely scan from an old White Dwarf. It is one of the genestealer hybrids that Darren painted in the late '80s. 

Gorgeous isn't it?



Big thanks to Darren Matthews. If you haven't already done so, go read the interview I did with him a few months ago.

http://realmofchaos80s.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/the-harlequin-interview-with-darren.html

18 comments:

  1. Mike McVey still recommends the "two brush blending" method of holding a second brush in your mouth. :)

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    1. I have a simpler but more unsavoury method. I just lick the paint off the end of my brush and blend with a little bit of saliva. One day, I will cut myself and Goblin Green will run out!!

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    2. I really like it for blending as you can have one brush loaded up with paint for laying down colour, and another one that's mostly water for blending and feathering - and have different sized brushes as well.

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  2. All that treasure in the background of the photos - I miss the days when visiting a store would entail long and careful perusal of the rows and rows of blisterpacks, looking for that perfect combination of models to add to your collection. With everything being in big, expensive and identical boxes these days some of that thril of discovery has been lost, I think

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    1. It most certainly does. As does having the product line available 24/7 online. There was nothing quite like discovering some out of production blister hanging on the wall that you had never ever seen before - and buying it still owndering what an earth it could be!

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  3. Maybe the big white things were going to be vacuum form moulded but they couldn't get them crisp enough. The size and the mound like nature of them suggests that type of production to me.

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    1. I think you are correct there. My experience with vacuum molding at school makes we wonder if they were a little too flimsy to put up for sale.

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  4. I'd forgotten about that Magus, thanks! I may paint up one of the new ones along those colors.

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    1. The green really offsets the purple, don't you think?

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  5. I would guess the white thing is a juggernaught. GW produced rules for them in rogue trader but they never really caught on. Cool concept but too unwieldy

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  6. Hmmmmm that is an interesting scheme for the Magus! I do love me an old school stealer!!

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    1. A unique scheme I would say. Beautifully executed.

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  7. I met Ivan Bartleet when I was at university in the early 1990s - one of my flatmates was a friend of his and he came down for a few days to visit. He'd just left GW, or was beginning the process of leaving, and I got the impression it wasn't been a happy parting of the ways. This would have been about '92, I think.

    We chatted about gaming quite a lot and after he left, to my surprise my flatmate said he'd left me something: a Nurgle WFB champion that had been converted to a 40k Chaos Champion, one of the ones that appeared in the photos in Realm of Chaos!

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    1. What a fantastic story. Do you still have the miniature?

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    2. It's currently at my parents' house, mainly to keep it safe from my children! If I dig it out, I will send you a picture.

      It was the Warhammer Nurgle champion with a scythe in one hand and the other arm being a raised fist, which they stuck a bolter on to make it a 40k model.

      To be honest, I was very surprised to be given it. I came back from lectures and my flat mate said he had left it for me when he went home.

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