Sunday 28 July 2013

Acceptable in the '80s: The Witch Elves of Naggaroth

I am sure that you have all heard of Richard Halliwell. In my opinion, enthusiasts of GW games (and many games beyond their universes) have a great deal to owe him. A few months ago, I researched and published an article that took a look at Halliwell's incredible back catalogue of games, from the early years of his career in a semi-professional capacity to the later, Games Workshop years when he produced quality title after quality title.

This article can be found here.

As well as a rich pedigree of games mechanics, Halliwell also wrote a large number of decent articles for White Dwarf and I present for discussion today, in my opinion, his finest work in the magazine. A detailed study of the Witch Elves (and the the rest of the Elves in a way) in Warhammer Third Edition. Let's have a read of the article. 

Well if that isn't enough contemporary background for a massive Oldhammer Campaign I don't know what is? Dark elf armies, chaos allies, sojourns into Lustria for skirmishes with Slaan and Norse, pitched battles with Sea Elf and High Elf armies. Standing over all of this, the narrative of the Witch Elf domination of Naggaroth (with the power struggle with the remaining Black Pilgrims) and the identify of the High Elf traitor to play for.

Stirring stuff.

But what of the miniatures? Well, Bob Naismith sculpted several ranges of Dark Elves in the '80s and in my view his work still stands up their with the best of the sculpts available. As a footnote to the article above, White Dwarf published a range of Dark Elf warriors. This would include a witch elf or two, cold one riders and the famous Mengil Manhide's Regiment of Renown.

Now my collection does contain many dark elves. I have ten or so of the plastic ones from the Warhammer Regiments boxset and I have a smattering of the Manhides lurking around in bags. I did have the full set back in the day, having bought the clear plastic regiment set in Wonderworld in Bournemouth in the late 80s. Sadly, those models have long since been sold on (when I was a poor single man) but I am slowly building up a reasonable force on them.

I rather like Naismith's elves. They have a detailed, almost engraved feel to them. They have lots of little details that make painting them quite a challenge and all the models have this 'twisted' vibe to them which is suitably evil. Aly Morrison contributed further to the range with a series of command figures. These were produced around 1987 along with a wealth of other command models in support of 3rd edition. Though slightly different in character, their style is in keeping enough not to look odd alongside Naismith's work.

Here are the models published alongside the article above.

Sadly, this is the second and final Regiments of Renown article, the first being the Orc Boar Boys. I really enjoyed the exploration of the background of the elves at this point. Later on, more background material would see the light of day; skaven, dwarfs and, of course, the empire would be detailed, but this material was increasingly geared towards 4th edition rather than the roleplay inspired 3rd.

So what are your opinions of the dark elves and the miniatures produced to represent them? Love? Loathe?

Discuss below.


Thursday 25 July 2013

Acceptable in the '80s: Chaos Dwarf Ballistics

Last post I discussed, in my rambling way, my view about the 'Golden Age' of White Dwarf. That issue 107 of White Dwarf is the beginning of a very special period of the magazine. A highly creative period where we learnt about the background of the Imperium, The Horus Heresy, Titans to name just a few wonderful ideas. So here's one of them!

Today's post concerns Chaos Dwarfs. 

Now while we are discussing the evil stunty ones, it is important to remember the was no concept of a Chaos Dwarf army in the early versions of Warhammer. They were part of the armylist in Warhammer Armies, and using this as a basis it is fairly straight forwards to build a chaos dwarf force. Its not really that interesting though, just a few units and there were certainly no big hats or comical beards. Slaves to Darkness also included chaos dwarfs in their armylists, but again no actual army. Chaos dwarfs were just another unit at this time, but of course with the flexibility of 3rd edition it was, and still is, very easy to create your own. Even so, Chaos Dwarf forces lacked something.

This was remedied in White Dwarf 108 with a range of new models, namely crossbows and a swivel gun. As you would expect at this release was accompanied with narrative, background and rules. Shall we have a look at them?

The story above is typical of WD at this time. Jokes abound but with a subtle slice of darkness. I for one would not want to face a defended position supported by a cannon. Nice artwork too, though i don't know who the artist is.

On with the background and the rules. I really like the idea of a portable piece of artillery like this, especially on a vast battlefield with many targets. I also like the fact that this weapon only inflicts hits on the first rank. Makes those big units rather tempting. I am glad I have a couple of these models in my collection ( somewhere ) and I plan to add them to my Khornate army some point in the future.

It seems they can be grouped into units of four if you so wish. Here are the stats cards for Warhammer Armies and Slaves to Darkness. Below is the ad for the Chaos Dwarf crossbows from WD 107 and these are lovely models. I got hold of 5 of these recently though they lack the plastic crossbows. I have one or two of the crossbows in my collection and am wondering if it is possible to create a mould to copy them and arm the whole unit.

There is enough here to make most gamers happy. Two new units, intetesting models and fluff in WD. 

Do you own these models? What are your opinions on them? What about their effectiveness? Have you a recount about how they performed on a battlefield near you? If so,  please share the details.


Wednesday 24 July 2013

White Dwarf and the Golden Age

Issue 107. The beginning of the Golden Age of White Dwarf - in my opinion anyway
A 'Golden Age' in anything is always going to be subjective. 

Its a matter of opinion. 

Here at Realm of Chaos 80s (and in the wider Oldhammer Community), the 'Golden Age' of GW is generally decided to be the Bryan Ansell era of 1985ish to about 1992. True, there are many affectionardoes who would argue that the Jackson/Livingstone era of 1977-1985ish could also been deemed part of this, and they may well be right, but for me anyway, its the GW games themselves that inspire me (along with the associated artworks) rather then the D&D roleplaying games that were the basis of the early years of GW and White Dwarf.

In fact, when you think about it, White Dwarf's first 10 years or so were nearly entirely devoted to roleplaying. Games like Dungeons and Dragons, Traveller, Pendrangon, Runequest and so on and so forth were covered and discussed throughout that time, sure GW had its own games (Golden Heroes and Judge Dredd are two such examples) and they would later (under Bryan Ansell) re-publish classics of the genre like Call of Cthulhu. 

Roleplaying games built GW. 

Citadel Miniatures, once a separate brand, produced miniatures at first purely to support these wide and varied games, but focused in particular with AD&D in the early years, before branching out into other areas, most successfully the Men at Arms/Wars of the Roses ranges sculpted by the Perry's (and still available via Ansell's Wargames Foundry). Its worth remembering at this point that it was Citadel Miniatures that bought Games Workshop, and not the other way around. 

However, roleplaying games were very much in decline. Their golden age had passed. And Citadel Miniatures/GW were very aware that is was the case, and had the evidence from their audit of the bricks and mortar stores and mail order service to prove this. Roleplaying supplements were not really selling as they were in years past, but the miniatures... They were selling almost as quickly as they could be produced. Over a million miniatures a month by 1985. The casting teams sometimes worked 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand.

But with no roleplaying games, what were collectors doing with the models? Wargaming being the most obvious answer, with the early editions of Warhammer being a fantasy favourite. More wargames were required and fast. As we know now, the roleplaying skirmish game called Rogue Trader had been so successful that the Design Studio was beginning to convert it into a larger scale wargame. Big box games would follow, all with their miniature lines and supplements. These new releases needed a place in the fictional universe created for the games (an idea with its roots deep in pencil and paper roleplaying games) and White Dwarf was the best place to provide the enthusiast with these materials. 

White Dwarf Issue 107 marked a change. It had been slow in coming, but by its publication it heralded in what I feel to be the Height of Golden Age of GW/Citadel Miniatures. The best way to explore these changes is to head back twelve months or so to issue 96 of White Dwarf.

First up, we have a cover that is in fact take from Caskets of Souls, a very well illustrated 'choose your own adventure; style book, illustrated by Iain McCraig- who had, and not many people know this, designed the famous Games Workshop logo. This wasn't a GW product as such, though it shared writers and artists in common. Issue 107 also used an unrelated cover, this one was a Conan one by Les Edwards. The difference would be in the actual size of the magazine. Issue 107 was different in regards to being much smaller and more compact than WD had ever been. 

Marginalia, the review column, still existed in issue 96. This was a vehicle in which the editors of White Dwarf were able to review 'roleplaying' materials, though to be honest by this point in the 1980s Games Workshop were dominating the market in the UK and were, essentially, reviewing their own new releases, though in a less blatant, more wordy way then they do today. Mail order still pushed, largely, roleplaying games with the miniature releases presented in lovely colour pages (see here and here from the releases from issue 96). By 107, this was refined to lovely colour adverts in a more formal, professional style. Issue 97 also still had Thrud the Barbarian the comic strip, who would depart with his creator, Carl Crithlow when he left to join 2000AD. Its true that GW games dominate, with WFRP's Bar Room Brawl, expansions for Warhammer and Rogue Trader. Roleplaying games were supported with Judge Dredd, Runequest and the Heart of Dust, but these were of course, published by GW. There was a letters page at the back of the magazine, something that was doomed to disappear entirely from WD around 107 alongside external advertising, though the odd piece did slip through later on. 

White Dwarf 107 is a far more polished thing than WD96. 

It also focused on, almost entirely, GW wargames or WFRP. And each of these games (Warhammer, Rogue Trader, Bloodbowl and Dark Future) had lots of scope for development and new models. Things were fresh. Issue 107 gave you articles that you could just use to expand your games (if, of course you bought the miniatures released that month too). These are, of course, the very same models that we here in the Oldhammer Community, and beyond, collect and paint. In future issues we would discover the model ranges, rules and background for Space Marine, Adeptus Mechanicus, Heroquest, Advanced Heroquest, Advanced Space Crusade, The Troll Games, Space Fleet, Space Hulk... So much still to come. And it is this wealth of released material that makes issue 107 a really important issue for me. GW had become more professional in its approach, but still had that zany sense of humour and a willingness to dip its toe into the darkness. This is way I believe that WD 107 heralds in the 'Golden Age' of the magazine. Each issue afterwards deepened the canvas, either with background, rulesets, games or miniatures. Over the next 24 issues or so, we saw the development, and publication of, the best fantasy and science fiction roleplaying games ever produced and the manufacturing of the greatest range of miniatures to support them. It would be an astonishing period of creativity, guided by Bryan Ansell's vision, that has gone unsurpassed by any other company since. Even GW themselves. 

Afterall, what have they really done since 1992?

Re-release, re-hash, dilute the products, ideas and miniature designs created in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

What are your opinions of issue 107, or indeed the issues that surround it? Do you have an opinion concerning the article? Do you agree, disagree? Please do share your thoughts. 


Champions of Chaos and Warhammer Armies Errata

I return to the Realm after a rather frustrating hiatus. If you recall my situation, I had to relocate to, frankly, an unusable location though I managed to get Trigger the horse painted. My collection was inaccessible, which meant that trades, projects and eBay sales all had to be put on hold. As did this blog.

Thankfully, today is the first day of my 6 week summer holiday and also the day I return to my regular modelling room. The builders have completed the wife's new kitchen and completed construction of the extension and in doing so have cleared access. I hope to use my free time to produce plenty of interesting old school articles for 80s Warhammer written in the coming days and begin this new sequence of blogging with the fantastic collection of painted Chaos Champions from inside WD107. I own most of these champions, save three, though none of them are painted. I have always thought that this page would be useful to inform a future painting project where all these models's paint schemes are copied. It's certainly something that others may be interested in doing so I have included the page here.

Also inside WD 107 was some little seen errata produced for Warhammer Armies. I felt that these three pages may be of use to Oldhammer fans as Warhammer Armies is probably the most influential book in the Oldhammern Scene.

Sunday 14 July 2013

Two carts and a temporary relocation

Plenty of light here for painting. Nothing like a natural source.

This is one of those 'I am not dead' posts. All miniature and blog related work has ceased due to a temporary change in circumstance too dull to explain here. All that needs to be said is that my usual painting area has been blocked by tradesmen and I have little access to my collection. Thankfully, I have a portable kit box that I was able to salvage and move into another room and have just received two lovely purchases from eBay this week to get working on. As you can see above I have made myself a little Oldhammer area out of the way from the wife and kids and should be able to get some pieces done over the next week or so.

I am setting myself a challenge. I am calling it the 'Two Carts Challenge' and with it I hope to break the nearly three month painting hiatus that has gripped me recently. The carts in question can be found below.


On the left we have the famous Plague Cart, which I discussed some time ago while on the right, the famous, in collecting circles only it seems, Adventurers Cart. I was aware of both pieces for some years but it was only when I dismantled the models that I realised that they share a similar design and the same chassis. The ingenious ways in which Citadel recycled this thisand that back in the 80s always amuses me. Even the skeleton chariot wheels have been reused to add a little undead feel to the Plague Cart.

The adventurers cart is good to go. I have cleaned it up and hope to build it tonight. I will be painting the undead cart later, as the miniature needs a trip down Dettoll Alley before I take up my file with it.

I doubt I'll be able to update for a while, perhaps into late July, but who knows... Next time we talk, I hope to have a completed cart to show off. In the meantime, if you know anything about the adventurers cart models ( as I believe there are a number of versions) please drop the details into the comment section below or email me at the usual address.

I'd love to know more about carts.


Sunday 7 July 2013

Oldhammer: How to do it!

I have been asked by a number of interested parties to write a 'Beginner's Guide' to Oldhammer. I don't mind doing so and presenting the article here on my blog. However, Oldhammer is not really something that you can just buy into as, of course, its roots lie in the collecting of Citadel Miniatures and Games Workshop products released from the late '70s to the early '90s- the Jackson/Livingstone and later Ansell eras and the models concerned are, mostly, long out of production and are now only available in auctions or bring and buy sales.

You cannot just 'order' a force picked from Warhammer Armies, though retro inspired manufacturers do often produce miniature ranges that make suitable proxies. The forces you see on leading blogs are the product of years and years of collecting and seldom do period armies appear on line for sale.

Now I may well be preaching to the converted here. I don't mean too. But as the Oldhammer Movement gathers momentum, gamers and collectors not immediately aware of the 'Golden Age' are casting their eyes over the ranges and games for the first time. The reasons for this will be many, but there are, in my opinion, two main attractions to the 'Oldhammer Movement'. One: the friendly, supportive community. No endless debates and flame wars aka Warseer and DakkaDakka. Two: the quality of the miniatures and games, which speak for themselves, especially when players unfamiliar with them get their hands on a copy. 

But if you were a total 'newb', how would you start? I am sure that there are many routes in and out of any hobby. I'll talk about mine here in detail and discuss how I went about building my collection of Old School Citadel. Here's hoping that others will join in the discussion and do the same, so that in future, when I am asked (or indeed any of you readers are asked) there's a blog page to forward prospective Oldhammerers to.

So in no particular order I shall begin.

1) Get your hands on the original publications

This is essential. And the best place to start. See if you can source an original copy of Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition online. PDFs are available at a pinch after a few minutes searching through the less than savoury part of the internet, but there is nothing quite like owning a copy and being able to physically read the book. Additionally, the WFB3 rulebook contains enough material for you to play everything in Third Edition. All the creatures, races, special rules are present within the book. There are even card counters to photocopy to try out the rules and get playing straight away, even if you don't own a actual miniature. The book is also packed with period art and plenty of miniatures to help you get the 'feel' of Third Edition. Once you have sated yourself on the book, you can always expand yourself with material from the two Realms of Chaos books, Warhammer Armies and Warhammer Siege, though these are not essential. White Dwarf magazines are also very useful to collect. This is how I started old schooling some years ago. I started with issue 90 and worked forwards from there, feeling in gaps as I went along. I spent several years just doing this and it became a wonderful experience in nostalgia and scholarship, slowly piecing things together in my mind and enjoying all the articles over again. WD collecting also leaves you with a considerable collection of material to use for reference when collecting models and other products.  

2) Bookmark online resources 

The Stuff of Legends and the Collecting Citadel Miniatures Wiki are two really important resources for any old school collector. These should be a real starting point for anyone who is interested in the scene. They contain a vast series of resources that will help you recognise, and identify, third edition (and earlier) models. They really do reward frequent returns as even gnarled old leadheads like myself discover something new when browsing through the old adverts and catalogues.

3) Start Small

Other wargames (Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000) in particular have created the 'army point mindset'. You hear things like; "I am after a starter army, about 2000 points, where can I find the armylist?" This is not necessary and you should choose your models based on what you actually like and want to paint. Browse the ranges, look for the models that really interest you and collect them. Think about warbands, or bands of adventurers or raiding parties of perhaps only a dozen figures. Get them painted and have a skirmish game. Then use these small forces as a basis for a larger army. Don't worry about points values just try and keep things fair among those who are willing to play along. Powergamers often find this problematic, as unfamiliar rulesets and lack of listing but them into a rather uncomfortable position. A level playing field being one!

4) Focus your collecting

You have two choices here. You can do what I have done for many years; buy what you like or you can choose a race or set of models and set about trying to collect them all. You will have to understand that this may well be a slow process, even if you are chasing down '80s plastic skeletons, orcs etc. Though on the bright side, this gives you time to paint the sold school models that you receive in the post. Rather than seeing your forces grow in increments, regiment by regiment, see your forces growing model by model. Additionally, as most of the old school models you will be buying will all be different, the grueling painting regime that you need to adhere to in this age of processed plastic need not apply.  

5) Start blogging 

Publish your journey. That is how Oldhammer came to be. People, be they collectors, gamers or just interested parties, started writing about their interests, connected with each other and built the Movement through interesting, well written blogs that drew a wide audience. Join in. 

6) Ignore 'Buy it Now' prices

These are a bit of an 'in joke' in the Oldhammer Community. There are plenty of people out there who believe that they can sell a single plastic skaven from 1988 for £25 but I have yet to see a single one sell. Don't pay excessive amounts for models, be patient and wait for your chance if you are after something specific. The other side of the coin also spins here, don't base your sales on these ridiculous prices. Sadly, there are plenty of people who seem shocked to learn that their Heroquest Fimir are not worth quite as much as they were lead to believe. 

Thantsants' Orc's Drift stands as the pinnacle of what can be achieved through old school collection. Just look at that!
7) Create real scenarios

There is always a place for a pitched battle but don't rely on them. Think of a narrative and build on it to ensure that your games are actually being fought for a reason. That evil wizard you have on your shelf? How about he is trying to locate a group of minotaurs to enchant to help him raid a guarded crypt in a forest clearing? And then are those five fighters you have painted up, haven't they been paid to kill said minotaurs by the Burgomiester of a local village? I am sure that the wizard wouldn't be too happy about that? Then there is that giant spider that lurks in the centre of the clearing, anyone you steps too close will awaken the beast! 

8) Become a GM

The simple scenario I have discussed above who make a fantastic project for anyone interested in Oldhammer. Getting hold of some old school minotaurs, a wizard, five fighters and a giant spider will probably set you back between £20 - £30. Build a small table, gather some simple scenery, set up the game and invite some gaming friends around. Explain to your players that you are going to brief them individually. The wizard is presented with his character and his motivations, as is the player with the fighters. You control the minotaurs, perhaps through a random roll, or directly, but of course, you don't tell them about the spider! I expect that your players will enjoy this little hunt into the forest far more than just another Cleanse and Burn episode. Try it out!

Attend, or even better, organise an old school event. Big or small, it makes no matter as long as you are enjoying yourself!
9) Network on social media 

Join the Bloodforum or the Oldhammer Community on Facebook. Trade your unwanted models, ask advice, encourage others, promote the movement. Nuff Said.

There we go. 

Anyone have anything else to add?


Wednesday 3 July 2013

Orlygg's Big Ones: Another Monstrous Interlude

My painted Citadel collection. Safe on the mantle but awaiting a display case! Can you help me source a decent case?

My house is in turmoil as I type. The kitchen lies gutted, one of its walls lays as heap of shattered brick and the contents of the wife's cupboards now spill over the dining room table. Other rooms have been cleared for the builders to advance through, and my Old School collection has been moved, by the order of the non-leadhead, to the mantlepiece to protect them for harm. She's obviously been considerably inspired by her renovations and has even gone as far as to tell me that I am having a glass display cabinet to show off my collection of painted models.

Anyone recommend one? If so please drop us a link or suggestion below so and I will be eternally grateful!

Anyway here are a few pictures of what I have been up to recently. I have had a big eBay splurge over the last couple of weeks. This has been largely down to it being the end of the summer term at school and there being an, apparently endless, array of tasks to complete; school reports, Sports' Day, swimming galas, data transfer etc and by the time I return home I am too shattered to pick up a paint brush. Ebay is an easy 'hobby fix' and I have spent far, far to much and have subsequently deleted the apps from my tablets before the non-leadhead (wife) finds out!

Have a quick look at the proceeds from my splurging in the photograph below.
Note the Third Edition pin badge - it'll look good dangling from my Oldhammer T-Shirt!

What we have here (left to right) Marauder Giant, Marauder Lord of Change, Spined Dragon and, of course, the 1984 Thrud. All these models have been cleaned up and based. The giant and the daemon were multipart kits, and considering their age, fitted together really well and only needed the minimum of pining a green stuffing. Thrud is a one piece and just needed basing but the dragon! Once I started cleaning up the model I noticed just how weak the wings were in places and I doubted that they would hold much wait. So I used very thin plasticard to create a supportive membrane of wing and stuck it carefully underneath the parts of the model that needed it. This helped create a platform on which the metal could rest and I covered this plastic with greenstuff, using my fingerprints to add a little texture. While not perfect, this should at least support the wings and stop the model from disintergrating any further.

A rare glimpse of a little known Lord of Change. Scuplted by Aly Morrison on the early 1990s. He did a Bloodthirster too, but I cannot find an image online. Anyone help?

As I type, all of the models have been sprayed white with Army Painter undercoat. The Thrud model, being almost entirely lead, was a bit of a problem to cover. In the end I used bronze flesh mixed with a little PVA to seal the undercoat as the lead content created real problems with the paint adhering. As you can see from the pictures, I had had a little experiment with painting flesh on the giant, but have paused. I have decided to to try and improve my skin painting and shall try out some new techniques on Thrud first before moving on to the giant later on.

Before I go I have a request from a reader. As you may know, I am trying to track down the whereabouts of some of the old school art pieces that were used to illustrate many a '80s roleplaying and wargaming product. The collections of Jon Boyce and Tim Pollard have been fantastic to view and at least we now know where these pieces are now. I was contacted last week from a collector who has bought what he believes to be a John Blanche original painting.

Here is his message to save me paraphrasing.

I stumbled upon your blog the other day and I really enjoyed reading it.  I started playing GW games in the early 90s and it was a trip down memory lane.  I especially liked your interview with Bryan Ansell, it was a very interesting view of the early creative genius at GW.
I read the article "Where are they now? The Art Collection of Tim Pollard" and I really enjoyed seeing the classic John Blanche pieces in his collection.  After reading this article I was hoping to ask you for some help.

Last year I bought what I think is an original Jon Blanche piece of artwork.  It was from an estate sale and the seller was sure it is an old Blanche drawing called "The Green Man".  It was supposedly on the cover of an old scifi novel from many years ago.  I have attached a photograph of the drawing.  On a John Blanche art blog they have it listed as a John Blanche piece as well:
I really love this drawing and I am insanely curious of any information about it.  Was it really on the cover of a scifi novel?  What is the story behind it?  When was it created?  With all of your connections and experience I was wondering if you knew anyone whom might know a little more about this drawing or give me any advice on researching it.

I am a huge John Blanche fan and this drawing means much to me. I would be extremely grateful for any assistance or advice you can provide. 
Philip SchifanoWell, can any Realm of Chaos 80s readers help provide more information about this piece? If so, please leave us a comment below or email me at the usual address,