Sunday 19 May 2013

Acceptable in the '80s: Iron Claw Rock Lobber and Goblins, Skaven, Combat Cards and Warhammer Townscape.

Apps aren't always the easiest way to communicate. I fancied trying out the Blogger app available on the iTunes app network on the wife's iPad. I wrote out a long and detailed post about the releases below. It was erudite, amusing and informative. Sadly, it didn't save as the app is poor at best so you will have to put up with this far inferior re-write I am afraid. 

As you may know, we have been exploring what Citadel put out for Warhammer Third Edition through issues 104, 105 and 106 of White Dwarf. In truth, these three issues are of great importance to fans of the era because they saw the release of two very important supplements, namely Slaves to Darkness and Warhammer Armies. They also contained a wealth of fantasy models, mostly chaos, but there were also a number of ads for further Iron Claw miniatures, sculpted by Bob Olley.

Now we have discussed Olley's work before. Though we neglected to discuss his goblin range, focusing on his Gothic Dwarfs and Undead models of 1987.

His work is best described as the 'Marmite' of miniatures (those of you not an Anglophile or resident here in the UK need to know that Marmite is a vegetable starch product used on bread and toast- its distinctive taste divides opinion, people either love it or hate it, a view not lost of the manufacturers) with collectors and old school gamers either raving madly with frothy lips about his work or casting their eyes away in disgust as soon as one of his strangely fungoid models appears in front of them. Back in the day, I did not like his work at all. But as I have become used to handling more models as I grew older, I learnt to really appreciate his distinctive and original style, especially in today's market of near generic sculpting. 

Olley's goblins are fun and varied. They have the sense of depth and realism that most of his work shares. The models in this selection contain a wide range of suitable weapons, from spears and axes to the iconic ball and chain. The clothes too are suitably goblinoid, and a special mention must got to the wonderful mushroom (or should that be toadstool?) inspired hat! Less sneaky than Kevin Adam's work, these sculpts don't lack charm however. These greenskins seem to have a rather cowardly menace to them (if such an oxymoron is possible) but they rank up nicely alongside their Citadel brethren, indeed they were later incorporated into the line when Iron Claw was dropped. 

Of special note here are the shields. There are some lovely designs here for any old school style painter who wants to begin work of developing a free hand style. Not as complex as the shields of Blanche or Dixon, these examples are no less than effective. 

The stone thrower released as part of the Iron Claw range has been discussed before. Though I doubt many enthusiasts have had the chance to read the fluff that was published for it, nor have a quick gander at the Warhammer Armies rules box so it has been presented for you below. 

However, we haven't talked about the skaven models in the lower part of the colour ad. These expand on the models released in 1985 with some additional models. Now, these are not really War Machines are they? More gun powder and chemical based weapons. All are worth collecting, and in my view, these models remain the best ratmen the Citadel have ever produced. The skaven Jessail is worth a particular mention as these models are quite collectable. 

Before I sign off, I thought I would share with you these two ads. Both are a sign of what is to come on this blog, as both releases are worth posts dedicated to them, namely the Citadel Combat Cards and Warhammer Townscape. 

As always, if you have a memory or an opinion to share about anything discussed today, please do.



  1. Hi;
    Well, Bob Olley...
    I like some of his work but not all... in general I dislike.... For Orcs and Goblins I prefer and loved the work of the Goblinmaster but I've got some of Bob olley's works...
    It's easy to recognise his hand on a mini.
    Like you said, you like or you don't like his job, but he stays a great sculptor as well :)

  2. I am a fervent Olley-ite (as I have previously proclaimed) and simply love his work for Ral Partha. I can appreciate how his work divides opinion, though! At present I have my eye on this more recent work of his:

  3. Hi - Just have to comment on the combat cards. About a week ago I was digging trough a big box with a lot of old citadel/GW stuff in my basement looking for an old warhammer house I built in the early 90s. To my surprise I found the Monster Combat Cards. Never used and in as new condition. I had no idea I had them so this was a bit like Xmas /Hans

  4. Bob Olley... definitely a great sculptot with a personnal touch. Some of his work is pure gold, and some of it is well... I'm thinking about ogryns and I can't place them amongst the golden ones...

    I still appreciate to look at the chaos combat cards...

    Orlygg, though it's a re-write your article was still very enjoyable and your app issues reminded me of "Tribute" by Tenacious D ^^

  5. Well ilike the Olley scuplts. Sometimes they are not easy mixed with Citadel or Marauder ones but well I love them anyway. The skaven are a must have and some of them are in my collection. These are not the stereotype models GW puts out today but more a bunch of individuals.
    The Combat Cards, well I have one or two sets somewhere but cannot figure out why I bought them years ago.
    The Townscape Sets was and is a milestone. I have a pdf of it an frequently rebuild one or two models when they fade in colour.

  6. I agree with him being very Marmite, but would suggest that can apply to each of his ranges, as well as those who do or don't like his work in general.
    I always thought his miniatures reminded me of Ian Millers artwork.

    I love his goblins. They have a personality each of there own, and the detail on them is amazing. They are a joy to paint and inspire the imagination. Some of the shoulder pads and belt buckles are wonderful.
    The Black Orcs were good too, the Imperial Guard were ok.
    His Ral Patha is generally good, as are some of the random odds and ends he has done for Reaper, etc.

    However, I really dislike the squats he did, and continues to make (under the name Scrunties I think, which sounds worse than Squats!). I think he was partly responsible for thier demise, some of the guns were too wierd looking even for Rogue trader gaming. The Space Pirates were awful too.
    The Iron Claw undead were flat looking, and the few Elves he did had shovel looking spears. I never had any of the Dwarves, but was not really too keen on them. I think he did some similar stuff for Essex minatures.

    By the way, thank you for reminding me of the army list update in the old White Dwarf, that will come in handy :) .

    It will be great to see the combat cards, I only have a couple of the sets which I got a lot later than the 1980's but they are in poor condition :(
    A good set of Townscape will be good to see too. Mine got squashed when moving house and then consigned to the loft.

  7. The skaven you shown on the picture are from Jes Goodwin or Bob Olley?!?
    For me all the old range of skaven is from Jes Goodwin...

    1. The skaven will be by Jes. Bob didnt do Skaven. For a definitive list of the figures Bob did for Citadel/Iron Claw see here:

      I too am divided by Bob's sculpts. Can't stand the undead, but his Adeptus Mechanics and Beastmen are brlliant:

  8. I loved Bob's work for Alternative Armies.
    The Sidhe in particular were fantastic, although Bob's fondness for lots of folds/detail on clothing made painting patterns on the trousers of celtic myth miniatures next to impossible :)
    The ion age sculpts were great too, but like alot of Bob's stuff, challenging to paint.
    I believe he also did their fantasy warlord range

    which have sadly disappeared from AA's online store.

  9. The only Olley sculpts i like are his Hybrids :(

  10. Does anyone have a Warhammer Townscape in high quality Jpeg or PDF? The one in Scribd is only 12mb... Tnx!

  11. I have the full set of Combat Cards in mint condition. The little scenes on those cards are some of the most evocative and nostalgic images of fantasy for me. Absolutely love them.

    I've also scanned the entire set, and made them available for download here if you're interested!

    1. Great article. I absolutely loved Combat Cards but alas all mine went missing during a house move, thanks for making them available in some form Benjamin.