Thursday 30 January 2014

Tony Ackland's 'Antiqus Malleum' Concepts from Eastern Front Miniatures: The Retinue of Matthias Witherheart Champion of Malign

With Tom Barbalet posting a review of Warhammer Visions and White Dwarf Weekly on Youtube (see his review here if you haven't seen it yet) I am sure that there are many of you in morning for the glory days of a good fluffy article. If you are anything like me, the monthly ritual of going into town on a Saturday morning to pick up the latest copy was the pleasure that you savoured, especially as you knew you had the entire weekend to pour over the magazine and soak up the meaty articles.

Sadly, this looks to be a thing of the past. The glossy 'Visions' is little more than a collection of souless photographs and 'miniature porn' I am sure that there are a great number of people out there who will no doubt enjoy this experience, but I won't be one of them and I doubt many of the readers of this blog will either.

So, with the help of Mick Leach of Eastern Front Studios and Tony Ackland, I have crafted this little article for your reading pleasure. What follows is my attempt to write a background for the series of miniature concepts that Tony produced for Antiquis Malleum and tie them in with the range of daemonic creatures being developed as we speak. Though these creatures will be inspired by the daemons from RoC, they will be entirely new creations and will need a new IP friendly name. We have come up with Malign as a possibility and the following article is used to begin to sketch out the background to this 'god' in hope that it inspires others to get painting, collecting, creating and gaming in some way.

Perhaps in the future I will get the chance to develop these characters further, and begin to develop scenarios and narratives in which they can exist, and this would be doubly favorable if a miniature line helped support them! For now, I hope you enjoy the narrative that I have constructed. As ever, please do chip in with your ideas and comments.


So what of the Gods themselves?

It was argued by classical scholars that our deities are nothing more than a contraction of our own puny thoughts, our most primitive feelings and instinctive responses. That their power is sourced from the wellspring of powerful emotions, be they lonely melancholy, sudden, surging agony, deepest violence, or even the lustful passions themselves. In a sense, it seems that those early philosophers were more precise than later intellectuals gave them credit for. We now know that the dominant emotions exhibited by humanoid cultures seeped through the very fabric of existence, into dimensions unfathomably more ancient than our own. There, these raw psychic pulses amalgamated into 'warpforms' or 'interdimensonal entities' that advanced to such incredible power, that their wills could extend, however subtly, into our own plain of existence and in places, for a fleeting moment anyway, break down the very barriers between the worlds and inhabit our own. Of course, the autonomy of these beings, I dare not call them gods, waxed and waned as the varied humanoid cultures of our material plain began their upward spiral towards what we call civilisation. With darker, more violent gods ascendant during times of violence and strife, and those that favoured artistic expression, or compromise, rising to prominence during periods of peace, prosperity and cultural expansion. The titles that their worshippers bestowed upon them were manifold, but the sentient core remained unchanged, immune to the ravages of the eons and only susceptible the the whims of humanity's urges and traits.

Malign was different. 

If collective thought, focused in a particular direction or empowered by a particular emotion, was responsible for the sentient forms that now rule over us, however insubstantially, then what brought forth the 'god' of parasitic destruction? The 'god' that feeds on that very fabric of congealed emotion itself? The truth was a brutal irony, for the source of the beetle headed god was not faith, nor even fear, but disbelief itself. That was Malign's paradox, for his power intensified during the so called 'Ages of Reason' or the more modern 'Enlightenment'. When the previously subservient cast down the centuries of conformity and began to question. The existence of ancient deities was for the first time in doubt. Temples were torn down. Books were burnt. There were pogroms and schisms and theological cleansings. 

The age of the atheist dawned.

And where did those collective thoughts of disbelief surge? Those emotions that soared through the fabric of dimensional space so assertively, and with such arrogance? The logic of those so certain in their reasonings that 'gods' were mere illusions, props for the ignorant savage in his measly cave, or the obedient thrall bound in dogmatic fetters? The answer was simple, those puny thoughts, those arrogant assertions, they seeped between the barriers that preserve us from insanity and slowly consolidated into the sentient being that some call Malign. 

The Parasite. 

The God-Eater. 

That was Malign's final irony. For here was the God of those who had denied the very existence of a higher power or powers. Who had laughed at the meek, faithful man or the beserk wallower in blood and death. Both deemed mindless and weak for not questioning the rule that pervaded every atom of their lives. This disbelief, this arrogant mockery, gave birth to Him and condemned a thousand million gods and goddesses to extinction. 
Extract from 'The Wane of the Gods' by Hiedylmire XXIIV

Matthias Witherheart Champion of Malign

Of all the vocal non-believers that spout their rhetoric into the world, Malign's preferred slaves are forged from those who reek of hypocrisy.  Those who condemn the cultural constructs, or religious beliefs, of others for being feeble and backward, for lacking in logic, only to become no better than the bigoted ignorantthey berate. To some, these people are doubters, to others the atheists or even, when extreme enough in their views, agnostics. So secure are these fools in their own righteousness that they fail to feel the insideous tendrils of Malign coiling around their souls in their final, gasping moments. Great pleasure is found in Malign's servants when witnessing the realisation that a lifetimes' worth of scoff that there are 'no gods' is shattered by the unutterable visage of The God-Eater himself. These slaves are forced back out into the world to seek places where extreme forms of emotion dwell, namely dimensional entities or 'daemons' to give their primitive name, and to ensure their destruction and subsequent harvest for the God-Eater.

Matthias was one such self assured individual. An artist by trade and a man ever ready to spout his beliefs across the world, condemning those who dare give sermon, with a sermon of his own. Not seeing that his own art was but a pulpit of hypocrisy, his soul was claimed with great satisfaction upon the hour of his death. Forced by a will of unimaginable scale and power to search the surface of the world for the raw material of daemonic power, Matthias and his followers are drawn towards any disturbance in the fabric of existence. They live so they may slay the entities of other awesome powers, carving the daemonic substance from which such beasts are formed and burdened with the task of organising the consumption and removal of this substance back to Malign's twisted plain of reality. 
Gregor Sinblister
Before the insectoid limbs of Malign closed around Gregor's soul, this fool of a man was a cynic of such appalling ingratitude that he cast out his own mother to further develop his political motives. Born into a rich and influential family in a northern city-state, Gregor was afforded every luxury his high birth allowed him. But privilidge was not enough, Gregor needed the raw stuff of influence to match the splendour of his possessions. In a world where oratory and intelligence were worth more than precious metals, any sign of intellectual impairment was deemed the ultimate disgrace. As the years caught up with his own mother, her mind began to wander and whispers could be heard that such behaviours were not uncommon in Gregor's House. His political opponents circled, casting barbed warnings about in high places about the suitability of a candidate who's closest living relative conversed with inanimate objects. Rather than face ridicule, Gregor ordered the exposure of his mother during one of the coldest nights of the year. Her frozen body was recovered days later and her death ruled a tragic accident. The self belief this concurred upon Gregor was strong enough to attract the attention of a daemonic servants of Malign and the soul of this matricide was doomed for eternity. 

Gregor is the jealous second in command of Matthias' warband. Less favoured of their God's whims, Gregor has lived in the shadow of his master for two hundred and seventy-five years and it remains a shadow he would be keen to step out of. Without divine intervention, such an act would be impossible, for Matthias is twice the warrior, and Malign finds his slave's bitter frustrations a great amusement, one he is keen to preserve indefinitely. 
Snaplimb Lusthowl
Not all the servants of Malign are drawn from those souls deemed foolish enough to attract the attention of The Parasite. Others come willingly. One such slave was the man who would become Snaplimb Lusthowl. His birth name is now long forgotten, and he exists only to serve the god he once denied. Exposure to the warping influence of dimensional barriers has caused parts of Lusthowl's body to twist into a poor reflection of his master's visage. Antennae like growths have spurted from his head, his eyes have begun to bloat and bulge like those of a spider while his arm has split into a cleaving appendage ideal for the butchering of daemonic creatures. Snaplimb thinks of little but the need to appease his god and attract the attention of his master for even the most fleeting of moments. 
Moritz Flaytooth 
Moritz is close to achieving the nirvana of Lusthowl. Little of his original personality remains, save for a few crazed recollections of his time amongst the ranks of a town militia. These martial remains have proven useful to the aims of Malign, and Moritz has caught the attention of the God-Eater on more than one occasion. Gifted with a Face of Malign, Flaytooth's head is slowly transforming into a fleshless skull, resplendent with two twitching, antennae like horns. Command is not to be the fate for Moritz, his mind is too deranged for tactical thought, but he serves his master faithfully and wants only to kill and be killed in Malign's ever hungry service. 

Udo Warpbeetle
Ambition cursed Udo, and that ambition continues to drive this servant of Malign to the present day. Though blessed by a Gift of the God-Eater, Udo remains locked out of the decision making in the warband, though this set back does little to limit his dreams of power. He is certain that one day he will replace Gregor as second in command and this will eventually lead to Udo contesting leadership with Matthias himself. For now, Udo is willing to bide his time and watch, seeking only to better himself in the eyes of his Patron until the day dawns for him to take his rightful place as the head of the warband. 

Oskar the Writhing
Oskar is different to the other warriors in the warband as he originally served another Dark Power. Crippled by a period of self doubt, Oskar found himself doubting the attentions of his chosen Power and Malign, ever willing to exploit such an emotion, chittered his seductive promises into this warrior's weakened ears. Abandoning his long held beliefs, Oskar embraced Malign wholeheartedly, murdering his fellows in the thick of battle and dedicating their daemonically tainted corpses to The Parasite. Oskar now lives to serve. He leaves the thinking to others within the warband and focuses on prowess in battle. His successes have seen him rewarded but such high favor has had unforeseen consequences, as Gregor is deeply envious of Malign's attentions and wrongly assumes that Oskar is the greatest threat to his position. 

Gotfreid Soulshiver
Depraved, twisted and despising company of any sort, Gotfreid serves as the warband's scout. He roams before the warband, revelling in his isolation and independence, tasked with leaving signs for the slower moving warriors to follow. Gotfreid is particularly suited to daemon hunting and once a location has been unearthed that may present with daemonic flesh to harvest, the Soulshiver sends out psychic thought patterns that attracts the mortal followers of Malign in their scores. Unsurprisingly, Matthias prefers to keep as close as possible to Gotreid's trail to ensure that he is first on the scene of any potential harvest. 
Bloateye Stagstalk

A step away from spawnhood, Stagstalk is Matthias' personal favourite and the champion hopes to unlock secret messages from his Patron in his pet's wild gibberings. Little more than a beast, Stagstalk indulges the only pleasures remaining to him, the wild joy of open battle and pleasing his master's every whim.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Eastern Front Studio's Antiquis Malleum: The First Green is Complete and New Concept Art Released!

Great news for all of you following the 'Antiquis Malleum' project. Tim Prow has finished the first green! By the time you will be reading this you will have probably oggled over the frontal shot that Tim has taken. Its a lot bulkier than the original concept, but I am sure that you will agree that this is a brilliant interpretation of Tony Ackland's concept. 

What follows are the multi-angled shots of the champion. I will let the photographs do the talking! Enjoy!

As Mick gets ever closer to launching the Kickstarter, the project needs a logo and associated banners and graphics to help support the launch. As many of you will know, there is a competition running to design the 'Antiquis Malleum' logo and Mick has been astounded at the response. I was a little foolish in suggesting that you post your designs on Facebook, but it appears that you designers are a private bunch who like to keep their ideas to themselves (and understandably so) so please do email them to me here at

Mick has set a closing date of this Friday (31st of January) at midnight GMT so if you are working on a design, please submit it before then. Many of you have made great use of the two concepts released and as a special reward to you all, I have got permission to share a third. Do with it what you will graphic designers!

Good luck!

Any thoughts about the finished green? Any views about Tony Ackland's concepts? Then please don't hesitate to share.


Sunday 26 January 2014

NEWSFLASH: New Eastern Front 'Antiquis Malleum' competition announced with Mushroom Men casts as a prize!

'Antiquis Malleum' needs you! Again! After the successful 'naming competition', Mick Leach is eager to continue the community driven ethos behind this project with another comp, this time to create a banner, or banners, to help advertise the kickstarter when things go live in a week or two (hopefully!) Eastern Front Studios are offering the first casts of this fantastic Mushroom Men as the prize if you are the lucky winner!

Interested? Eager to contribute more? Desperate for a couple of Mushroom Men? Well here are the details about what Mick is after. 

1) The logo for 'Antiquis Malleum'. This needs to fit in with the old school ethos of Oldhammer, Citadel/Grenadier etc and other stuff from the 1980s. Take your inspiration from the logos used on Realm of Chaos, old ads or the He-Man titles etc and you'll be bang on the button for what Mick is after. 

2) A banner, which includes the logo, that can be used as a profile picture, blog side ad etc to help promote the kickstarter. This needs to fit in with Tony Ackland's concept art as closely as you can. You are free to use this concept art in any way you feel appropriate to. 

3) The finished piece to be saved as a jpeg (or equivalent) and emailed to me here at or posted on the Facebook Oldhammer Community Page. 

And that's it!

I am looking forwards to seeing what you Photoshop experts can come up with.

Hoping to hear from you soon, 


PS: I can also tell you that as far as I understand it, Tony Ackland is now working on a new pantheon of chaos daemons that might be inspired by a deity who's name begins with 'M' and these may be included as a stretch goal!

Saturday 25 January 2014

The Grand Master Returns: A Second Interview with Tony Ackland

I am sure that it came as quite a shock to you as it did me, when the news broke that Mick Leach, of Eastern Front Studios, had commissioned Tony Ackland to produce concepts for a new range of 'Oldhammer' inspired miniatures, now called Antiquis Malleum. Considering the amount of traffic that has flooded this blog since the announcement, its obvious that lots of other people are also very intrigued by this project. For many, its come just at the right time, as various members of the community have been struggling to make an Oldhammer miniature a reality. If this project is a success, it will be a green light for smaller groups to successfully crowdfund and produce similar miniatures. I am lucky enough to have seen the concepts that have been held back and I can assure you that the best stuff has yet to be seen. With excellent sculptors like Tim Prow and Drew Williams on board, we know that the modelling side of the project is in very safe hands indeed. 

Hot on the heels of this news is Tony Ackland's second interview with us - and here is the link to his first, if you are coming to this post cold. As we have come to expect, Tony is extremely generous with his time and knowledge and he patiently answered our many (and rambling) questions. This time we take a closer look at where the influences behind the artwork for Warhammer were drawn, as well as exploring Tony's contribution to Marienburg and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay in greater detail. 

I am sure that you will all join me in thanking Tony for his time with us and that you enjoy a second stroll into the recollections of the Grand Master of Chaos. 

An indenpendent daemon from the Lost and the Damned.
RoC80s: So tell us, how did Eastern Front Studios manage to tempt you to return to creating chaos inspired art considering you've retired, and was it easier to slip back into form after so many years?

TA: It came out of the blue as a Facebook message. Although I am retired I do occasionally take on small jobs now and then. I have recently done the All Quiet on the Martian Front concepts, and some World War One style posters. I have also finished a Fantacide Map and provided illustrations and concepts. I did have a look back at some of the images from that period I have filed away. The overall look was not that difficult to get back into. Its kind of in my DNA now. What I had to check was how I handled the smaller details back then. As for inspiration, I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy and horror stories. I watched lots of films in the same genres. I also have an interest in natural history, with a particular fascination for invertebrates. So I suppose with all that imagery floating around my head it all came out sort of naturally. 

A heavily mutated spawn of Khorne. This saw print in a number of places, including the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Companion. 

RoC80s: As most readers will not be professional artists could you explain if the process of creating these concepts has changed in any way since you began work on the Realms of Chaos project in the mid '80s?

TA: Actually it is not very different. I use the computer as a drawing and painting tool using traditional techniques, e.g. a graphics pad and pen simulating various brushes and pens. A lot of guys doing concepts in the video game field use 3D programs too. Also, some plastic miniatures are now produced using CAD programs rather then pantographic scaling. 

RoC80s: Last time we spoke, your Malal art created a great deal of interest. What can you tell us about the origins of these pieces of art and how his/her pantheon was to be organised?

TA: They were concept illustrations of lesser daemons that were not used. I think that the insectoid ones were for Malal.  I think it was that one that was the riding beastie, and the other one a kind of war dog. I don't think that Malal himself was particularly insectoid though. This was probably me just trying to give vent to my inner entomologist when I started designing the daemons. These concepts were not only for miniature design but also to help develop future illustrations. It was accepted in the studio that the illustrations would show the 'reality' of what the miniatures represented. So the miniatures would have been simplified to some extent. The problem with Malal was that by the time Wagner and Grant has contributed their bit it was hard to pin down distinct characteristics. In comparison, the other Chaos Gods were very heavily planned. Bryan Ansell had the original ideas, John Blanche did some sketches, and then I developed them. I think that Ian Miller threw some ideas in too. Whereas Michael Moorcock's Elric stories were the main source of inspiration for Bryan, I leaned more towards H P Lovecraft. Without knowing what discussions took place when Wagner and Grant took the job on, its impossible to know what the true origins of Malal were. I do recall that Bryan had thoughts about another Chaos god prior to the strip. 

RoC80s: Would you be interested in developing a new range of models inspired by the old Malal designs, much like George Fairlamb has done with the Hooked Horror?

TA: It certainly would be fun to play with the deities of Chaos again!

RoC80s: In your opinion, where do these images sit in regards of copyright?

TA: The copyright one is fun. They way I understand it is that the images are GW copyright, but they can't use them in reference to the name Malal. This shouldn't prove too much of a problem in using them for figure designs. The latter rests on the presentation rule and the fact that they made no sculptural representations of them themselves. The name is copyright to Wagner and Grant so that could be a problem to commercial usage. Gawd knows what the position is to the Chaosium/GW co-productions!

Previously unpublished illustration of a Malal daemon concept. According to Tony, this creature was to be developed into a riding beast. Note insectoid qualities and skull face. Check out the article on Malal's pantheon here.

Old school beastmen. I don't know about you, but I'd love to have some miniatures looking more like these than many of the more generic examples kicking about the wargaming world, wouldn't you?
RoC80s: Being heavily involved in the way early editions of Warhammer 'looked', what can you tell us about the development of the beastmen? Broo inspired or something different?

TA: Back when Games Workshop had a licence from Chaosium to produce figures for Runequest  and I had the job of creating the concepts. Bryan wanted something more radical than those that Chaosium had created. So we added the heads of elephants, crocodiles and some incorporated mixed features. Although Chaosium approved the concepts, I don't recall any of the former two types being produced. When we created warhammer, we did try and incorporate most of the figures Citadel produced in the rules. As chaos became more important, the larger the role that beastmen would play. But at that time there was no distinct plan. So the starting point had been the Broo, which originally had the heads of cattle, but from then on I pretty well ran with my ideas as they came to me. 

Mutations from Realm of Chaos. I am sure that you will recognise many of these but I am sure there are a number here that I haven't seen before. Ideas like these would make a perfect starting point for a conversion pact from Eastern Front! Get on with it Mick Leach!

RoC80s: Making the impossible seem real is a challenge artists have struggled with for centuries. What is the secret of making concept art convincing?

TA: For me a reasonable knowledge of anatomy is a big help. When I say anatomy not only of humans, not only of vertebrates, but most animals forms. And having a good understanding of perspective is essential. Of course, then its using that knowledge to serve your imagination. Individual creatures present their own set of problems. For instance dragons and Green Martians (ERBs Martian Stories) can be a bit of a pain. The original Space Marines were designed by Bob Naismith. In the studio they were referred to as Space Wombles. I must confess that I was never a great fan. It was fine until you put them in an action pose, then it was a case of 'how the bloody hell can they move at all?' Jim Burns and I have agreed how difficult it was to do this when he posted a couple of examples from the Space Crusade box art. I always thought that Kev Walker was the most at home out of us all at depicting them. Of course, when it came to Chaos Marines I had the latitude to take them in my own direction, so that was a pleasure. 

More mutated characters from the Realm of Chaos era.

RoC80s: Marienburg, the unfinished WFRP project, is a very fond memory for many Old School fans of White Dwarf and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. What can you remember of how the project began?

TA: I am not sure of exactly when the first Marienburg stuff was written. Hal (Richard Halliwell) used to come around and visit us quite regularly but I can't remember if he created any new material. I know that Mike Brunton wrote some of them. GW had decided to drop Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay because it didn't promote miniature sales. However, we did get a lot of mail asking when the next scenarios would be published. They also had a lot of unedited manuscripts they had never payed for. The solution GW came up with was to create a small subsidiary to publish them. They could also use it to claw back some tax and prevent three of the more difficult staff from contaminating all the other staff. And hopefully those three would realise by running their own unit that they weren't as clever as they thought they were. We actually became the most productive part of the company. 

Marienburg was a setting created by Richard Halliwell. I can't recall if there were any articles published prior to the setting up of Flame. There was some material written shortly prior to it. As the purpose of Flame was to deal with all things 'roleplay' it became part of our purview. Halliwell continued to produce material but other writers did too. It was all edited by Mike Brunton until he left Flame. 

Remember the scenario inspired by the Maltese Falcon? The main setting was a brothel. Although edited by Mike, he had left when it was due for publication in White Dwarf. Once I pointed out that putting it in White Dwarf might not be the most appropriate place for it. I had the idea that it could be included in a Flame compendium, but we were closed down before that could happen. 

The unused illustration from the 'Maltese Falcon' scenario set in an Old World brothel. Previously unpublished. 
RoC80s: I have heard all kind of tales about Richard Halliwell since beginning these interviews into the glory days of GW. He seems to have had a great deal of influence over a wide range of classic GW games. What was he like to work with?

TA: He was a really good ideas man, but not quite so good at developing those ideas. But during the nineties when he was working on computer games he did improve his skills. Hal was actually fun, he never took things too seriously. He was a little over fond of certain substances, even compared to many of the other staff. But by the time the studio moved to Castle Boulevard those days were over.

Sadly, Hal now suffers from a dementia like complaint. 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay character illustrations. 
RoC80s: The artwork you produced for the original Warhammer rules, and later WFRP, is extremely varied. How did the studio go about ensuring their was a coherent look to the illustration?

TA: Well, the original Warhammer was written by Richard Halliwell, though he was not a part of the company at that time. It was then edited and expanded by Rick Priestley, with input from Bryan and myself. The visual side was left to me. So apart from some artwork we brought in from John Blanche (who was yet to join the company) I was pretty free to do what I wanted. Bryan, Rick and myself were all keen on history and SF/Fantasy so the images tended to reflect what my interests were. The other factor was to include the look of figures already in production prior to Warhammer. But then again I was also the one producing concepts for those figures. Many of the subjects for WFRP were based on members of staff as capturing the character was more important than an absolute likeness. 

More character illustrations from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Note, the top left footpad illustration was based a chap nicknamed 'Axeman', who was a regular around the GW scene in the early to mid '80s. 

All that is left for me to say is THANK YOU once again to Tony. I hoped you enjoyed this little wander into history. Look out for more of Tony's more recent work for Eastern Front on these pages as soon as its ready. Fingers crossed that we are soon pushing some of his designs around a table or two worldwide. 


Friday 24 January 2014

Old School Fantasy Cottage

Regular readers will know that I recently interviewed Phil Lewis about his time at GW and his contributions to photography, miniatures and beyond. You will also know that I am being treated from a dental abscess. I find that sitting for long periods, or bending over for any length of time, aggravates the infection and makes life uncomfortable so I have been able to do little Oldhammer stuff but write lately.

So I elected to work on something on a larger scale than normal that could be achieved when standing. I opted for the fantasy cottage Phil Lewis mentioned in his interview. Well, he didn't mention the actual cottage, he mentioned the series of articles he worked on and this reminded me of them.

It is a fond memory of mine the weekend I first used this plan to construct a fantasy cottage. Using various cast offs from my dad's model railway and some specially bought foamboard, I built a tiny little house and decorated it. That model is, of course, long, long gone but its memory inspired me to build another... Twenty five years later! So getting hold of WD130, I followed the article, added my own ideas and produced this, my first piece of Oldhammer scenery!

Timber frames are of course balsa wood, as is the door. The roof was made from cardboard taken from an empty cereal packet. as were the tiles. Door fitting made from the same card as the roof. Door knob a blob of Greenstuff. The building was based in my usual way. 
I had a go at sculpting the walls with Greenstuff. I used several ink washes to dry and make the brick work rather slimy and dank, just like a house would look if it resided in the Reikland of my imagination. 
I textured the walls with quick drying polyfila bought from Tescos. The roof was stained with ink splats and paint flicks. 
The timbering took a while to attach until I used Copydex. Never build a piece of scenery without the stuff, is my new modelling motto. Its excellent!
And here is the scale shot alongside the Muleskinner. I really enjoyed building this cottage and I have just started a second one. This time the building is going to have a lean to extension. 
What do you guys think?


Thursday 23 January 2014

Pro-Painted? Asgard Orcs allegedly painted by Aly Morrison (no doubt back in the day)?

I have been collecting Asgard miniatures ever since I interviewed Jamie Sims. I find them just as characterful as their Citadel bretheren but a great deal less expensive. A few quid here and there and you've got yourself a respectable pile of minis. 

Now I was busy picking up some minis for my next big project (due for discussion after the first stage of the Slaanesh army is completed) and clicked through to see what else the vendor was selling. I saw several lots of 'pro-painted' miniatures by none other than Aly Morrison! Now I am no naive old scroat, I was immediately suspicious about this fact, but with no real bidding interest, coupled by the fact that I was after some Asgard orcs, I put down a bid equaling £2 each for them and walked away.

Surprisingly, I won and received these models in the post yesterday. Getting them out of the Chinese takeaway box they had been sent in (?) I peered at the ancient models. The whiff of enamel paint and gloss varnish faintly tickled my nose and I saw kinship between these models and many of the figures I'd seen in Bryan Ansell's Cabinets of Chaos. I chuckled further when I flicked the minis over in my hand and saw the homemade bases cut from chunky plasticard! 

The models were destined for the Dettol bath that lurks unbeknown to the wife above the fridge - its too high for her to notice - when something stayed my hand. What if these really were models painted by Aly Morrison back in the day? Would I be committing some Oldhammer crime destroying the paintjob? So I placed them alongside the other painted miniatures on an extended stay of execution. Peering at them closely I can honestly say that the painting is far from what I would consider 'pro-painted' but the finish does have a certain presence and the shields have some wonderful designs on them, especially the red snake with arcane symbols circling it. 

The bases were very simply done and looked like sand stuck to the plasticard and painted green and brown. I am not certain, but there seems to be some attempt to drybrush the base to create highlights, but having never done this is enamels I have no idea how feasible it really is. In the right hand corner of each model is a flattened area upon which is painted A1, A2, A3 and A4 in yellow.

Next, I had a quick Google around the collecting archives in an attempt to ID the miniatures. Were they really Asgard? In about thirty seconds I knew that they were indeed. Here are the models unpainted. 

OR34 Slave Orc with spear
OR35 Slave Orc Archer
OR37 Orc Clansman
OR33 Slave Orc with scimitar 
So I am asking the readers of this blog a favour. Do you know anything about these minis? Do you know anyone who might? I would really love to have a confirmation that these are/aren't figures painted by Aly Morrison so that their eventual fate can be known. Until I do, the Dettol bath looms menacingly above them like a veritable Sword of Damocles!

Cheers in advance!


Wednesday 22 January 2014

Tim Prow's 'Antiquis Malleum' WIP from Eastern Front Miniatures

Just a quick newsflash really. Mick Leach has shared the latest update on the Antiquis Malleum project on several closed Facebook groups. Feedback has been, as you would imagine, very positive indeed. So I thought it worthwhile sharing a few of the snaps with readers of Realm of Chaos 80s.

And here they are!

So what do you think? Remember, Mick is very interested in the views of the Old School/Oldhammer Community so if you have an opinion or suggestion please do make it.

You might even see it in a green of the future!


Tuesday 21 January 2014

The Malignancy of Malal: Malal's Daemonic Pantheon Restored?

I have been talking to Tony Ackland a lot over the last few days and our conversations will soon turn into a fresh interview with the Grandmaster himself. Readers of this blog are clearly great admirers of his work, as his first interview is one of the most popular things I have ever put together for this blog. I had lots of questions, as you would imagine, but I knew that the one thing that needed further clarification was what he could recall about the Malal project. After all, the Malignancy of Malal: Solving the Mystery of the 'Fifth' Chaos God is by far the most popular post I have ever produced, even more so than the interview carried out with the Mighty Avenger himself, Bryan Ansell, so I knew there was strong interest in the story, particularly the origins of the concept material. 

George Fairlamb helped stoke the fires higher with his interpretation of the lesser Malal daemon, or Hook Horror, which is available for sale at CP Models. I know lots of people bought these models and that at some point in the future we are promised additional heads and arms. Mick Leach, from Eastern Front Studios, plans on producing an 'Antiqus Malleum' product line inspired by Old School '80s miniatures and he has mentioned to me an interest in doing a range of daemons influenced by the old Realm of Chaos books.

During the discussions I had with Tony, he pointed out that one of the images that I had published in the first interview was in fact another concept for Malal. And, get this, that he has another old Malal concept that I had not yet published here at Realm of Chaos 80s! Needless to say, I got right on the case and began questioning him about what these two 'new' concepts represented.  

RoC80s: What can you tell us about the origins of Malal, the completed concepts and how his/her pantheon was to be organised?

TA: They were concept illustrations of lesser daemons that were not used. I think that the insectoid ones were for Malal.  I think it was that one was the riding beastie, and the other one a kind of war dog. I don't think that Malal himself was particularly insectoid though. This was probably me just trying to give vent to my inner entomologist when I started designing the daemons. These concepts were not only for miniature design but also to help develop future illustrations. It was accepted in the studio that the illustrations would show the 'reality' of what the miniatures represented. So the miniatures would have been simplified to some extent. 

The problem with Malal was that by the time Wagner and Grant has contributed their bit it was hard to pin down distinct characteristics. In comparison, the other Chaos Gods were very heavily planned. Bryan Ansell had the original ideas, John Blanche did some sketches, and then I developed them. I think that Ian Miller threw some ideas in too. Whereas Michael Moorcock's Elric stories were the main source of inspiration for Bryan, I leaned more towards H P Lovecraft. Without knowing what discussions took place when Wagner and Grant took the job on, its impossible to know what the true origins of Malal were. I do recall that Bryan had thoughts about another Chaos god prior to the strip. 

We have known for a while that the first two images that Tony revealed in the his interview are almost certain to represent the Greater Daemon and Lesser Daemon of Malal. Now we are pretty sure that we have identified the two other images from the aborted range, namely the 'beast' (like the Bloodhound of Khorne, for example) and the 'steed' (like the Juggernaut of Khorne). 

Have a look at my theory.

Greater Daemon of Malal

Lesser Daemon of Malal

Steed of Malal

Beast of Malal
The passage of time has ensured that we can never truly know what was originally intended, if indeed anything was actually intended at all! After all, the Malal project was cancelled before it reached a suitable conclusion. But what can we glean from these images? Are there any common traits, for instance?

Firstly, look at the heads of each of the images displayed here. Note that a skull forms the head of each of these creatures. A bovine animal for the Greater Daemon, a bird for the Lesser Daemon, a human for the Steed and a canine for the Beast. So its quite possible to interpret that Malal daemons, and perhaps even Malal himself, would have a skull like visage. The skull is an almost universal sign of death, destruction and danger and so it seems quite feasible that a daemonic entity whose purpose is to consume and destroy chaos itself may well use this symbolically. Malal's colour, black and white, could also be linked to the skull; white for bone and black for the dark emptiness of eye and nasal sockets. How often is the skull shown as a black and white image?

Secondly, we have the insectoid forms. Elements of the insect appear in three of the four images. The Greater Daemon has some kind of mantis armed tail, the steed the body and arms of a beetle like creature and most of the thorax and front legs of the Beast are also mantis like. At a push, the arms of the Lesser daemon could be evolved insect legs, mutated to sickle like blades. How could the insect forms be interpreted if Tony views Malal as not insect-like? To me, insects are often great harvesters. Think of those jungle ants that can strip carcasses clean in hours, and carry great weights long distances. Well, perhaps that is how Malal sustains himself? The daemonic entities of Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch and Nurgle are destroyed, harvested and carried back to Malal where-ever he exists in the immaterial realm. Perhaps his part of the warp is fed and maintained by the dismembered parts of the other chaotic powers. I'd imagine that independent daemons would also fall foul of this 'harvesting' which could be a tongue in cheek way of explaining where all the other chaos gods have gone. Malal ate them! I am sure that I have heard such an idea somewhere before, haven't you?

There are other similar themes running through the concepts. Hoofs, fur and isolated parts of the human body. Cloven feet have long been associated with devil worship and it would only make sense that any daemon created by the emotions of humanity would reflect their primal fears. Talking of fear. Nothing revolts the human psyche than the appearance of insect life, so perhaps that is another factor in Malal's creation? Perhaps that explains the human elements away too? In a fantasy world where the true horrors of Chaos are unknown, or denied, by the vast majority of humans it would come as no surprise that many simple human fears would find their inspiration in humanity itself. The fear of the murderer, the thief or the rapist. All could have parallels in the form of Malal's demonic servants.

Before moving on to other discussions. I asked Tony about the concepts he has produced for Mick Leach's 'Antiquis Malleum' project. He explain in detail how he went about producing the models, but I shall save that conversation, and all the others, to more appropriate posts of their own. 

I did ask him this, though.

RoC80s: Would you be interested in developing a new range of IP friendly models inspired by the old Malal designs, much like George Fairlamb has done with the Hooked Horror?

TA: It certainly would be fun to play with the deities of Chaos again!

Oh, and wouldn't be fun for us to collect and paint them!

Mick Leach? What are you waiting for?


Sunday 19 January 2014

Eastern Front 'Oldhammer Miniatures' Competition Winner Announced. New Concept Art Released!

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who entered the 'name the range' competition that Mick initiated for his 'Oldhammer' Eastern Front project. We had a really good response here, as well as in the Facebook group and on other forums. It seems that the announcement of the project as created a little bit of a 'buzz', not just in the heartlands of the UK/US but also beyond, in Poland, Spain and Italy. 

Its clear to me that there is a fair bit of support for this project already. So thank you all again!

Moving on then. Mick had the rather difficult task of choosing a name for the range out of the suggestions you all made, and there were quite a few of them to consider. In fact, if you are interested in setting up a new line of miniatures, the conversations are a great resource of ideas. As are they fantastic little 'hooks' to build background around, so if you are comming to this party a little late its probably worth your while checking out the posts here and here, not to mention the Facebook Oldhammer Community too!

Right, on with announcing the winner! If you recall, Mick promised a FREE first casting of the initial model to this person if the project came to a successful conclusion. Well, I am pleased to report that the lucky person is....

Brian Roe

And his suggestion for the range was...

Antiquis Malleum 

Now that the project has a suitable name, Mick can get on with the process of commissioning a graphic designer to produce the initial project banners. This will allow us to show our support of the project using our blogs, forum avatars and so on. 

As a little reward for all of your support so far, I am please to share with you another one of the concepts Anthony Ackland produced for Mick. Have a good look below.

It seems that this Chaos warrior is a little more down the path of damnation than the previous example. He (or should that be it?) wears the obvious suit of chaos armour and wields a rather nasty looking sword. As far as I can tell looking at him, he has been 'rewarded' with horns and a bestial face as well as a freakish pincer arm. Actually, the longer you study the arm, the more unpleasant its appears, at least to me anyway. As before, this is a concept sketch to inspire the sculptor's creativity. The boots have already been discussed as not having enough detail, so will look radically different if this model sees the light of day. 

In a tiny snippet of other news, the general plan is for Tim Prow to produce three models and for Drew Williams to produce the other three. Those of you who are regular members of the Facebook group will know Drew already as will fans of Satyr Studios. Here's a quick look at a model from his personal sculpting project inspired by old Rogue Trader marines. These are NOT for sale and are merely a fun project for Drew to work on after hours.