Thursday 11 April 2013

Heroes for Wargames: Concept Art

Welcome back to Realm of Chaos 80s. Those of you who regularly frequent the Oldhammer Community over on Facebook may well be aware that I have recently come into the possession of this incredible book; Heroes for Wargames by Stewart Parkinson. The book, which is not a GW publication, was produced in 1986 with extensive support from Bryan Ansell's Citadel Miniatures and contains a wealth of fantastic material.

I was always aware of the book, certainly since I began this blog last year, but I hadn't really paid it much mind, that is until Zhu posted an article about the book in respect of the famous 'Maggie Banner' that is photographed within. He'd linked to copies on eBay and I couldn't help myself and bought a cheap copy (its rather battered and water damaged) that is fit for my purposes. The book doesn't contain much text to further enlighten the knowledgeable enthusiast of '80s Citadel, but the images are enough to blow your mind, especially if you have not seen them before. 

Now, something that I have learnt in recent months is that as soon as we discuss something here in the Oldhammer Community, the items of our concern see an increase in price on eBay. Or, items, which are already limited by their age, become far more difficult to obtain. From what I have heard since buying my copy of Heroes for Wargames is that availability for a decent price is already an issue...

So I have selected a number of areas to discuss about the book. A 'highlights' overview if you will, but I have left enough stuff untouched so that if you do get your hands on a copy at some future time there will we one of two surprises remaining. 

Today's post concerns that excellent range of concept art that the book contains. Pieces by well known Citadel legends Tony Ackland, Jes Goodwin and John Blanche leap from many a page. I have included a few of them below as they relate to actual produced models in some way. This is a relationship I find fascinating: that journey from idea to three dimensional completed sculpt, a process that was physical and didn't involve a computer at all. 

Perhaps that is why these old models have that 'soul' we all love, eh?

The Spined Dragon is, in my opinion, still the finest dragon ever sculpted. A highly sought after model for Citadel Hardcore collectors and second only to the Citadel Giant in price. A gorgeous, gorgeous model. Heroes for Wargames contains the original concept sketch my Tony Ackland. 

Here it is...

What is impressive is just how close Nick Bibby's finished sculpt is to the concept art. Have a look at the miniature below and compare...

This just proves how talented the staff at Citadel were. Ackland captures the character of the dragon in his sketch (which, knowing Ackland, was knocked up pretty quickly) and Bibby's skill not only creates the beast in miniature form, but adds further detail to it in the process. No wonder he went on to become an internationally renown sculptor in large cast bronze. 

Then there is the work of Jes Goodwin. His distinctive style of concept work has never changed. It has always been exquisite, much like his sculpting. If you've spent any time around Citadel miniatures in your time, you will recognise his work on sight, something that is true to this day, though his output is no way as prolific as it was back in the '80s, sadly. 

Well, here we have some early concepts for Chaos Warriors. 

Though elements of these concepts appeared on Citadel models, I don't think (and please correct me if I am wrong) that these two sketches ever became miniatures in their own right. But the core elements are there; horns, oversized boots, fur, dangling chainmail and, dare I say its, spikes... What a shame there are no skulls, eh?

The models shown below were made. Here we have two concepts from the skaven range that Goodwin worked on extensively during 1985. Its the first figure that I am most interested in. I own a converted version of him and used him during my RoC campaign last year. 

Look below for the model that was produced from this concept. Its all there, isn't it?

Even John Blanche's concepts are presented, and there are pages and pages of them inside the book. I have selected this set as it contains a figure that I recalled seeing in Jason Fulford's Slaaneshi warband. Can you spot it?
John Blanche's Runescape Broo concept art.
Jason's Broo.
Could you find him? A kind of 'Where's Wally?' Oldhammer style. 



  1. It is a very cool book indeed - I managed to buy a copy 20 odd years ago from the local book shop. What they were doing stocking it who knows as they were a chain store found in a shopping centre - not the usual place one would find a book on wargaming/roleplaying.

  2. I have that skaven mini tucked away in my draw at work somewhere! He's the original Throt the Unclean isn't he? Complete with 'man-catcher'. Or maybe the special character just evolved from what is an evocative sculpt?

  3. thanks Orlygg, great post you are really bringing the old days alive for everyone, keep it up, I can see a cult following developing, thanks for the linkage, it took me a few minutes to spot that beastman miniature hehe, a seller has posted a few lots of those beastmen on eBay at the moment but there is a lot of interest :(

  4. It's Runequest not Runescape :=D

    Also the Grey Seer concept art is this mini:


  5. On the Spined Dragon. That may not be concept art. Sometimes the sculptors just went for it from a concept on the back of a fag packet or just something in their head and then it would be illustrated for catalogues or articles after it was finished. This is why many of the illustrations look so much like the actual models.

    Also when you say second only in price to the Giant .... that may not be accurate.
    There are one or two other models that seem to do better on ebay than the Spined Dragon. The 'Holy Grail' would be the The Chicken Dragon: £??? But the full set of moulds no longer exists and their are very few out there.

    But these are some of the minis that fetch silly prices:

    The BIG Perry Giant: £300-400
    The Chaos Dwarf siege engine: £300-500
    Thunderhawk spaceship (metal) Mint in wooden box: £250
    LoTR BME 3 Balrog encounter at Khazad-dum box set.(In box) £200
    Warmonger Titan £130-200
    Original 'Rouge Trader' Landraider £120
    NB1 The Great Spined Dragon £100
    TA 2 Dwarf Juggernaut: £100
    TA6 Emperor Dragon £80-100

    1. I'd like to know where I can get a Spined Dragon for £100! (; But you are right, some of those models do go for very high sums. I checked with Tony Ackland, he confirmed that the spined dragon illustration was drawn for a catalogue and is not actual concept art. I better edit my post!

      Good Ol''Arry saves the day again!

    2. Alas, by 2016 the author had fallen on hard times...