Wednesday 15 May 2013

Slaves to Darkness 25th Anniversary Launch: Acceptable in the '80s Special

Hello and welcome back to Acceptable in the '80s: my history of all things Third Edition told through its releases, supplements and miniatures. In today's post we will delve into the White Dwarf coverage published at the launch of Slaves to Darkness, some twenty-five years ago. Instead of focusing on a single issue of White Dwarf, this post draws on material published in WD 104, 105 and 106. 

So the year is 1988, and Realm of Chaos has been in development for over 5 years. During this lengthy period, the supplement had gone through many changes and improvements. One thing that had remained pretty consistent during this time was Citadel's approach to the the supporting artwork, much of which had been produced many years previously. With such a talented cohort of artists, it is not surprising that there was a wealth of mind-blasting (and that is what much of it is) art available for inclusion. Some choice selections were used in support of the release of Slaves to Darkness and were used regularly to advertise the book. 

What follows is the entire launch article from WD104. This includes the famous 'Mutating Metal' modelling guide, John Blanche's essay on the Colours of Chaos (very useful if you are painting, or planning on painting, and old school style warband for the summer) as well as plenty of photographs of classic miniatures. This article has been, and remains, one of my major influences in my collecting, painting and gaming goings on here at Realm of Chaos 80s and I am pleased to be able share it with you.

Hopefully, you shall find it just as illuminating and inspiring as I have done. 

Over the next few issues, Citadel published a great number of full colour adverts for the new range of Realm of Chaos miniatures. I present them for us below in a kind of 'retro review' of the Khorne and Slannesh releases from 1988. Overviewing the material, the colour schemes really stand out for me. These days, there is much talk about 'army coherency' (which is ridiculous really, for no army through history has ever been presented in a coherent set of tones like many wargamers seem to think is so necessary) at the painting stage. I am sure you have heard people talk about using Shadow Grey as the basis of their space marine army, or Sunburst Yellow for their Eldar. What has always impressed me about the models painted for this release is that, even though a great number of different colours have been used to paint Khorne and Slannesh models, they look unified but are also distinctly chaotic.

Quite an achievement, and one I hope to emulate with my future Khorne and Slannesh mortal and daemonic armies. 

The first things to discuss on this retro review are the daemons of Khorne, namely the Fleshounds and the Bloodletters. I love these models and in my opinion they have never been bettered in the sense of design. Even the more modern plastic GW kits are obviously heavily influenced by the Perry's original sculpts. The bestial, loping forms of the hounds, complete with skull faces, leathery fans and lion's tails are suitably twisted  as are the Bloodletters, with their long, gangling arms (that suggest peculiar multi-jointed elbows) and dog like legs. They look un-natural and daemonic, something that was obviously lost on whoever sculpted the 4th and 5th edition models - which look like muscular sub par Conans with 'bloody great horns on.' I have loads and loads of these models and they are great fun to paint. If you haven't got a brace or two of these in the leadpile I really do recommend investing in a few. Be careful of the Fleshounds though, they can be a little uncomfortable to handle!!

What can we learn from the '80s paint jobs? The most important thing to point out here is that these demons DO NOT HAVE TO BE PAINTED RED! Black, brown or even brass daemons are possibilities and will slot into even modern fluff. I like the way that the Fleshounds have tones of purple running through them, a colour that suggests to me disemboweled innards and coils of glistening intestines. Very suitable for these beasts. As for the lesser daemons, the final model, almost black, just shows you what you can do with a bloodletter with a little bit of imagination. I don't like the dodgy red ends of the hellblades though. I am a real believer that 'less is more' when it comes to representing blood in miniature and the flat colours do nothing for me. 

Gorgeous. That is the only word that I can think of as I type these words to describe the daemonettes. A varied, alien and strangely exotic collection of dangerous lewds. You can imagine the depravity just by looking at the suggestive clothing and the subtle pincers. Yet, they seem cold. Souless even. Damned as all followers of chaos ultimately are. Like the bloodletters, these models are reflected in the modern plastic GW kit, though the mohicans are (sadly) long gone. Also like the bloodletters, these daemons were replaced by some appallingly cartoony big pincered faux pas that must have sent many veteran chaos players running for the nearest exit. I have many of these models in my collection (the 80s ones!), and will always buy more because I adore them. On to the Fiends then. I have three of these and they are a right bugger to get hold of (or so it seems to me) or, indeed, to put together when you have some. But they are so well conceived that you forgive the fiddly bits. A mix of scorpion, horse and goat with a row of voluptuous breasts? Surely a jaded leadhead's dream?

As for the painted examples, let me return to that word again, gorgeous. The blending and tones on some of these models are incredible, and can only be by the hand of Mike McVey. Incredible skill. And models like this make me glad I choose to work on my Khorne army first, just so that I can be practised enough to have a crack at blending colour to even a fraction of that skill. I also love the model on the top right. Covered in tattoos or body paint, the designs not only contrast wonderfully with the flesh tones but they have an inhuman immediacy that seems to crawl from their very limbs towards your unwitting eye. 

Into the Dark Millenium. I mean, how many times has that been used over the years? Well, here we have the original inhabitants of the Eye of Terror for all to see. These models have grown increasingly popular in recent years and looking at them you can see why. Varied, vibrant and characterful. Though tiny in comparison to modern chaos marines, these models make up for their diminutive size with martial otherworldness that makes them seem far more corrupted and villainous than a space marine with a few spikes on. 

Strangely, quite a few of the Khorne marines presented here are painted green. This again goes to show that when you are painting old school miniatures (or even modern ones) there is no reason not to 'think outside of the fluff' for a moment and try something different. There is clearly a historic example to follow is there not? The pink and green marine with the daemonette face is my favourite here. Once day I will get my hands on that model and I intend to have ago at painting it with the same scheme as the one presented here. My favourite Slanneshi marine ever!

Then we have the heavy weapons marines. I have most of these in my collection and the weapons are fantastic! Quite why they changed the design I do not know. I loved the fact that the chaotic weapons looked so different to those sported by the RT marines. I have also called these paint jobs 'Liquorice Allsort' marines, and I really like them, the pink and black particularly. Below them, we have the Steeds of Slannesh and a couple of renegade riders (remember, this was the time when Chaos Space Marines didn't really exist, they were called renegades) which I am also proud to state that I have in my collection. These look great mounted on the '80s Citadel plastic horses too, and there are far more of them available than were shown here. 

After are detour to the world of Rogue Trader, we return to more familiar models. These are the beastmen and champions that we are quite accustomed to here in the Oldhammer Community. So much so, that they often turn up on this blog and many others. I have painted most of these models and have nearly all of them in my collection. Its worth noting that these are just some of the champions that Jes Goodwin produced for Realm of Chaos and all of them are excellent. In fact, no-one has ever done a better job than he did with these models.


I am still amazed that these are not recast and sold today as they are some of the finest models Citadel have ever produced.

Buy them!

And finally, the Juggernauts of Khorne. I have mixed opinions about these. I am not a fan of their faces as I find them a little too cartoony but they don't half feel nice and solid when you have built one and based it. Heavy and dangerous, just as you would expect. Here we see more of the renegades and champions that we saw earlier. 

Here ends our review. What did you think? What are your thoughts about this range of models. Are you a fan? Or do you loath them for the daemon spawn that they are? As always, please leave your thoughts or opinions below or email me (if you are a lurker) at




  1. A nice look back in times when imagination rules the tabletop battlefield and roleplaying nights.
    The Realms of Chaos books are a must have (o.k. I only own one but Ebay is an excellent source). When looking at the front cover there reads "suggested for mature readers". Back thenit was more a pool of ideas to build your game around. Let us not forget the two tomes were meant for Warhammer,Wh 40k and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay together. They read like storybook sometimes and at oter offer rules ideas. The greatest thing for me is the section on creating your own Chaos warband. Everything from generating the champion to the followers. Generating names with die rolling charts and having a campaignsystem to let your own warband grow and see your Champion rise to demonhood or be cast away as a spawn.
    The Illustrations and way of painting the models bach then remind me sometimes of the artwork of Roger Dean. No drastic bloodthirsty spikey warriors but more surrealistic forms and colors. The fleshhounds are like demondogs not the oversized rats the do today. The bloodletters well how can this vile moster really move.. Wow.
    Slaneesh monsters were described as wonderful looking, gorgeous and hideous alike. Today the are more like nude amazons with an unhealthly pale skin. Back then they were out of this dimension not simply cruel beasts. Sometimes the models looked cartoony but I think that was meant to be.
    My personel favourites back in the 80s were the Chaos dwarfs. The real ones not the guys with the funny cylindrical hats and orks teeth. The real ones. Dwarfs in Chaos armour. Especially the Marauder Minis.

  2. Wow that article was awesome - mind blowing even.

    So many models I have never heard of you made me jealous sad and angry all at the same time!

    I love LOVE the zebra centaurs amazing paint jobs!

    Totally going to refer back to this again and again.

  3. ♪♫ Memories ♫♪ ..... a cracking post, great timing much needed inspiration at a moment when chaos beastmen are starting to all look the same

  4. Hi all from France ^^
    Well, I have this bloodletters and I'm agree with you, they are great!
    When you see them, you understand that the come from chaos realms :)
    I found 3 models of this hounds at crisis last November and the are waiting to be paint :)
    For this deamonettes, for me they are the best one who are ever Made!
    In the 90's the new was a big joke (I stay corect because I want too say stink shit!^^)
    I'm waiting for new posts from you :)

  5. What a great post!
    I really love the figures from this period, and agree that it is some of the absolute best that Citadel Miniatures ever released.
    Most of the Chaos Champions is on my Wanted list :-)

  6. Realm of Chaos miniatures, as you say, some of the finest work Citadel ever did. I'm lucky enough to have both volumes of the chaos books, and a good swathe of the miniatures. I'm currently embarking on a quest to collect all the renegades, which are what a real chaos marine should look like. Even though the greater daemons are small by today's standards, they are still the best version IMO, with the possible exception of the lord of change, the modern model is quite nice.

  7. Man its goooood !!

    Everything's here and all of it is what brought me and many others to this hobby( and into blogging). I can't remember how many nights I spent looking at these books at my cousin's house (impossible to get your hands on them when your were french at the time). Every army I build, every mini I paint come back to these books which have kept being the strongest inspiration ever. You can note that GW is unable to produce anything better as far as Chaos is concerned since they have been copy/pasting big parts of the fluff in every codex or army book. If you look at Dark vengeance marines, you also have a hint that they know the stuff was right and never should have turned into "clean marines with neat spikes and horns" (one of the very very rare mistakes Jes ever did...)

  8. A recast of the classic chaos minatures would be great! I doubt that GW will ever make that dream come true though..

    Great blog Mr Orlygg, as always.

  9. My granny bought the original Realms of Chaos but she wouldn't have had she known the content. 30+ years later I ebayed the reprint that ForgeWorld / Warhammer World did !