Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Blister Sisters: The Tenth Commandment of Collecting Citadel Miniatures

As some of you will be aware, I am a new father. As is dutiful for a husband, I offered to do the ever challenging 'night feeds'. My daughter feeds at about 10pm and then later at around 2am. My wife thinks that I am an angel for doing this, and to be honest, I love it. The days are largely the domain of the 'mother-in-law', or the 'sister-in-law' (I have two) or the 'baby friends', or the grandparents... I don't get much of a look in really. But at night time, its just me and her.


One side effect of keeping irregular hours is the extra time I find it creates. My son is usually asleep by 7:30 and the wife likes to be in bed around this time too (she does a feed at this time) which leaves me several hours to do whatever I want. 

Some may say, sleep man, sleep! 

I prefer to miniature paint into the night!

It is on one of those late night haunts that I had the thought for this post. I want to talk about blisters. Not the blisters you get on a toe or finger, but the glorious card and plastic beauties that used to captivate us back in the day. I am sure you remember the wondrous walls of blisters that used to hang in shops circa 1988? They seemed to go on for ever and had a range of eye-catching and colourful designs. The complete opposite to the depressing and uninspiring grey and reds for recent times. 

Though, blisters are getting fewer and far between these days.

This got me thinking, rather humorously, about what the Ten Commandments of collecting Citadel Miniatures would be (there is a link with blisters, just wait a see).

1. Thou Shalt Collect No Other Lead But Me.
2. Thou Shalt Make Carved Images Out Of Green Stuff When Necessary. 
3. Thou Shalt Not Covet Another Man's Lead.
4. Thou Shalt Not Steal Another Man's Lead.
5. Thou Shalt Keep The Books Slaves to Darkness and The Lost and the Damned Holy.
6. Thou Shalt Always Search Ebay for 'Warhammer 80s'.
7. Thou Shalt Keep Sabbath Days Free To Trawl The Internet For 'Bargains'.
8. Thou Shalt Soak The Miniatures in Dettol And Nitro Moors.
9. Thou Shalt Collect Great Piles Of Lead And Tell Spouse Its An Investment.
10. Thou Shalt Not Open Original Blister Packs.

Would you do it? Tear open the dusty cardboard of an old blister pack? I have been tempted (and in the distant past, been guilty of doing so) but have resolved myself never to do so again. The way I see it, the blister pack you hold in your hand may be the ONLY sealed pack of those miniatures in existence. How could you possible destroy that!? I am going to make a prediction now; in the future, 20 or 30 years, these babies are going to go for BIG money on the miniatures scene. After all, we leadheads will all be retired and have nothing better to do than spend our pensions on beauties like I've posted below.

I love the luminous green of the Orc and Goblin range. In this case, labelled 'Gobbo's' Very apt considering the way they were painted back then. This was my first ever blister I bought on eBay with a view of never opening it. 
Another cheap buy. These two thugs are missing from my painting collection. I think I spent a couple of quid on these. The artwork is really striking don't you think? Blue and white cheques would make a perfect design to beautify a human fighter one day. 
These archers really tempt me. I am desperate to build a unit of skeleton archers and have six loose. Obviously, I've Iiftear open this package I'll have enough for a unit but I just cannot bring myself to do so. These cost me a fiver as a 'Buy it Now' a while back. 
Some ghouls, including the Death on the Reik version, which set me back a fiver from the same seller as the archers. I have no ghouls in my loose collection at all. Something I need to rectify soon for my undead!
My prize blister. Realm of Chaos. I still get as excited about this stuff as I did back in the late 80s when it was released. RoC is what makes Warhammer 3rd so, so special to me as a collector. Such a fantastic range of models were released, some of which still stand up against the most modern of miniatures. Bizarrely, I bid on this but never won. A week or so later, without having paid any money, this blister turned up on my door mat! Must have been the work of the dark gods some how, eh?

Apparently, by the mid 80s the Citadel Miniatures Factory was selling over a million miniatures a month. There was a group of ladies who worked in the packaging department who used the packing machines to put these blisters together. They were named 'The Blister Sisters' by the rest of the staff and this post is dedicated to the wonderful job that they did.

Now, how many blisters have you got unopened stashed away in your collection? And would you break the Tenth Commandment of Citadel Collecting and open them?



  1. I see what's really going on here. You've posted up the commandments, then posted up your figures in tribute to the blister sisters - but actually, you're just looking to see how many people you can cause to fall foul of the 3rd commandment...

    Evil, man. Evil.

    I have the same dilemma, though - I have a sealed RoC blister with Flesh Hounds. Now I know that with them, I have enough to make the all important unit of 8. All that separates is that thin, cloudy layer of plastic...

  2. Great post! If I needed one of those miniatures to complete an army I might well be tempted to tear the blister open! I think the 3rd commandment should be: "Thou May Covet Another Man's Lead, but Collect Thy Own" or something like that. How can you collect miniatures without coveting them!?! :-D

    1. I own a blister opened (yyaargghh) of a genestealer magus but I think that a miniature is made to be painted so I don't collect blisters.

      Nevertheless...walls of blisters...such memory !!!!

  3. I don't get it. Miniatures are meant to be painted. Though for some reason I seem to collect the boxes.... hmmm.

  4. I‘m with Rob. Figures are for painting and playing. If I owned your blisters I‘d cheerfully rip them open and throw the backing in the bin. That‘s REAL 80s attitude :-)

    1. Yep open and be damned!

      I love the memories of those racks of multi-colourd blisters, if only I'd had the foresight to but more of them instead of one more GURPs suppliment i didn't need.

      Anyway I buy stuff now to use not as an investment so open every blister I get straight away otherwise I may get into an opening quandary later if I've had them unopened a year or so.I do it carefully though, I keep the empty blister!

      What are thoughts on converting old lead, I'm happy to do it, I know many think that is terrible...

  5. In this situation I would probably take photos like you have done (to keep a record), then very carefully open the blister and keep the backing, in the same way that other people collect baseball cards. I'd then lovingly paint the figures, or as lovingly as my skill would allow.

  6. Loved the James May program he did when he bought an old train set (mint in box) and then proceeded to not only open it in front of the horrified train enthusiasts, but dump the packagng unceremoniousy in a bin at the auction house! Think it was th eseries he did on famous toys but may be wrong.

    Personally I collect minis to paint them up and once in a while push them round a table, although I do agree those lovely blisters do bring a greedy and definitely covetous glint to my eye! Ok I repent, I repent!

    Got a load of old Dr Who minis I bought in opened blisters - still have the empty blisters in a draw somewhere.

    @ Matt - I think the 3rd commandment should stand - all good religions need a (un)healthy dose of guilt! ;)

    I think the only reservation I'd have about converting old lead would be making a ham-fisted mess of it!

  7. How about opening a Limited Edition blister pack?


  8. Sorry mate but I must agree with the above...I see little point in owning figures that I'm not going to paint or game with...if I ever do that again...:-)


  9. Great post!
    But it looks like I am going to an OOP hell!

    That James may episode with the toy train was a classic!

  10. "The complete opposite to the depressing and uninspiring grey and reds for recent times."

    I really think you're running out of things to criticise modern GW for. :P

  11. <-- guilty of opening blisters.. I love the smell of the 80s that you get inside.
    Recent years I have opened. Dark future bikes, harlequin jetbike, rogue trader ogryn, limited edition sleazy rider and a pack of the preslotta warcombes robots... its a sin but I get a kick out of that fresh lead mixed with card that smells of old books and the crunch of ancient foam.
    Yes I would do it again and have 2 RoC bloodletter packs to be opened once I get back into my daemons
    Only 1 I have not opened yet is my preslotta chronicle black orc. Mainly because I have lots already though.

  12. Open them! I'm with James May on this one; people who buy toys and leave them in the box are creepy weirdos. There must be better financial investments available, even in this recession. Surely the enjoyment from taking the blister pack out of whatever box it lurks in, shoogling it about so you can see the minis inside and then returning it to its dank lair must pale beside that you'll gain from letting them see the light of day with a coat of lovingly applied paint?