Friday 28 February 2014

NEW Antiquis Malleum Greens by Drew Williams and more Ackland Concept Art

Great news this morning for those of you eager for more info about Eastern Front's Antiquis Malleum range of Oldhammer inspired miniatures. As you will have seen, Drew Williams (the other principle sculptor we have on the project, along with Tim Prow) has completed his first three greens. What do you think?

Additionally, more of Tony Ackland's concept art has oozed out babbling incoherently from the Realm of Chaos. Among them are the striking images of the proposed 'chaos steeds' that will, hopefully, be used to produce mounted versions of the figures above. And before you ask, there are plans afoot for armoured versions of these mounts too. As with the other models, these steeds will be scaled to the '80s Citadel range so if you are having difficulty finding chaos mounts for your old school models, these will prove to be rather useful. 

Have a look at the ideas and tell us what you think. 

The new concept for the lesser daemon of Malign. There is talk of developing the blades into pincers. 

The new concept for the greater daemon of Malign. 

A variant of the Chaos Steed idea for the initial run of Malign figures. 

Another variant of the Chaos Steed.
As always, please comment below if you have a suggestion or opinion about what you have seen as your ideas really do help this project develop. Additionally, if you want to become more involved, pop along to the Oldhammer Community on Facebook and sign up. Mick Leach, owner of Eastern Front Studios, is a very active member and regularly posts ideas and WIPs that we don't share publicly. 


Monday 24 February 2014

A Mini Called Wanda

I love this set of miniatures and I have most of them. If anyone has Johann spare I'd love to take it off your hands as he is the last of the main characters that I need now! 

I have written about the large prices that some miniatures can sell for online. I am not talking about the silly 'Buy It Now' prices that confuse so many collectors and help create the 'myth' that old miniatures are always worth a fortune. I am sure you have seen plenty of ridiculous prices bandied about in your time, perhaps you have even fallen to temptation in the past (I know I have) and have paid a little more than you should have done for a particular miniature. Perhaps you are even guilty of listing minis with very high prices. I have always been a believer in the 99p starting bid, and that a miniature (or a lot of miniatures) will reach the price they are truly worth. Its a live and let live attitude that I shall always stick too. I am pleased to note, that there are a number of very experienced sellers out there who share a familiar philosophy, most notably bridgendsteve (are very own Steve Casey) who seems to have no end of rare and unreleased models to sell on eBay. 

For many years I had a strict £4 rule for buying single cast miniatures, and that price had to include postage. It was very simple to keep to this budget in the pre-Oldhammer days, when I was buying up RoC miniatures in droves for a couple of quid each. I once bought two Palanquins of Nurgle for £10 for the pair (and what a prat I was for selling them on, when one will set you back about £50 in 2014) and won 16 chaos beastmen for £20. I am sure many of us collectors can sit back in our chairs and swap success stories about bidding victories but that isn't really what I want to talk about today.

I have said before that I feel that eBay, and sites like it, are just the 21st century equivalent to the blister racks of yesteryear. You must remember them? You'd walk into Wonderworld (my store in the '80s) and the first thing that would hit you (apart from the smell of damp and cigarettes) was the wall groaning under the weight of blistered lead. Rows and rows and rows of the stuff. The card backings were all in different designs, often with paintings by John Blanche on them, and within the plastic bubbles lay a thousand possibilities. Your imagination would race. The pulse would pound. And you'd dived right in. 

The trouble is, back then the prices were set. You'd look at the price label or browse the funny code wall that some shops used. You 'knew' what something was worth and occasionally you'd be lucky enough to hit a sale and get that Landraider boxset even cheaper than the RRP suggested. These days, there are no price lists for the OOP models that all of us collect. We have our own vague price ranges in out head, one that seems to fit in with my £4 rule of years back. Average models are about £2-3, pop a quid on the top for postage and off you go. 

But what about the more 'collectible' models where the £4 rule isn't going to apply? 

So I come on to Wanda, illustrated above at the height of her fame in the Shadows Over Bogenhafen ad for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There is no doubting that she is a lovely model. Even my wife likes her and expressed her opinion that she is one of the best miniatures she has ever seen. 'You should paint more like her!' she states without understanding that female figures in the world of Citadel (Old and New) are a rare breed indeed, especially ones that are realistically proportioned and clothed. It seems that many other people agree, and it took me many months to actually win an auction for her.

However, the auction process lulled me into a false sense of what she was 'worth'. You see, the first time I tried to get hold of her I just put a tenner down and walked away. If I won, great, if I didn't I'd have a pretty good idea how much collectors would have to pay. That auction ended with Wanda selling for £38.

Wow! I thought, that is quite a bit of money for one, small metal miniature that wasn't even that limited! Still, I wanted her and was happy to flog off the lead I didn't want to fund getting hold of her. A few weeks later, she arrived once again on the eBay scene. It was a simple 99p start so I was pleased to find a seller who followed a similar set of rules as I do. Learning from my previous experience, this time I put £30 down as my starting bid. In my mind, this would be enough to be in a strong position throughout and I like to win things for less than other people - who doesn't. This strategy paid off until the final minutes of the auction, when someone sniped me for £40. My wife, who was watching the auction said, try £50 and with spousal permission I typed in the amount with about a minute to go.

I was outbid by a pound.

I left it at that. Rather disappointed that I had lost out on her. Still, I had saved myself some money but I kept an eye on eBay for similar figures. A few weeks later, a Wanda model popped up as a 'Buy It Now' for £29.99. Oh, I thought, that is a good price! The trouble was, I was at work when I noticed the auction and had to wait until I got home to buy her. All day, I imagined other collectors noticing the lot and snapping her up for a bargain price. After work, I got home and raced up stairs to grab the KindleHD Fire and loaded up the eBay app. Wanda was still there! Phew, I gasped and I was just about to click the buy button when I noticed ANOTHER Wanda.

This one had a starting bid of £9.99.

Not wanting to drop £30 when I could spend a tenner, I put a healthy bid down on her. £20 to be precise. I hoped that having another example of the mini up would reduce the price for the listed auction version. Incredibly, and following on the rule about buses, another Wanda arrived on the site a few days later. This one was listed as starting at 99p. I was overwhelmed with Wandas!

Anyway, nothing really changed in the coming days. A few bids were made for the 99p Wanda, pushing her up to a couple of pounds while 'my' Wanda remained at £9.99 and a single bid. In fact, this remained this way until about 45 seconds until the end of the auction, when someone dropped in a sneaky 'sniper' bid taking her up to £17.00. It was too late though, my initial £20 sailed through to victory and ensured, finally, that I had a copy of the sculpt in my collection. What struck me was the variation in price, especially when the the other Wanda sold too. Have a look what I mean...

Wanda #1: Sold for £38.
Wanda #2: Sold for £51.
Wanda #3: Sold for £17.
Wanda #4: Sold for £21.

Calculating an average of these four amounts gives us a average price for the Wanda miniature, namely £31.75. Now that is a lot of money for a single cast model that was neither particularly limited or unreleased isn't it? Yet, looking at the bidding history over the last couple of weeks you can see how the price of the same item varies enormously.

Strange isn't it?

To conclude, I have learnt an important lesson during this little journey. Namely, Citadel Miniatures are not always worth as much as we think they are, and often, price can be determined by availability. You just watch the price of the Ass Cannon come down when five people list them all in the same week!

Before I go, I am am interested in asking you lot if you have had any similar collecting instances where you see a model you have been after for a while soar in price, only to be snapped up by your good self later at a opportune moment for much, much less. On the reverse of that particular coin, have you ever forked out big money on a model and then regretted it later?

I await your experiences with interest!


My beautiful Wanda! 

Sunday 23 February 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Dwarf Ski Troops from White Dwarf 116

Three things have inspired me to post today. 1) The grind of writing school reports - yes its that time of year in my house and I sit here with still 10,000 words to write and two days left to complete the job. So switching topic and doing some blogging is welcome release. 2) Because Jamie Loft is building a new dwarf army over on the Oldhammer Facebook Group. 3) I have lost another auction to win one of these beauties! 

I have said before that Warhammer Fantasy Battle was a victim of the success of 40k. And the terrible slide that we can see today, actually began in 1987 when the number one fantasy wargame was replaced by one involving space marines. The amount of WFB material dropped away in WD, but there were still some stunning articles that saw the light of day and this was one of them. 

I have always loved this model, and it seems that many others do to as, though the are not uncommon on eBay, that can fetch a relatively high price (about £20 seems to be the average in my experience). They are wondefully characterful, as is much of the '80s dwarf output, and have some interesting rules too. Really, they are perfect for a little conversion project as any suitably well dressed dwarf could have the tab cut away and home made skis attached! 

Not as nice as having the original mode though. 

Anyway, here are the rules. Its about time I got cracking on with the rest of this series but with everything else going on in Orlygg's life and other directions pulling at me its hard to focus on the rather tedious job of scanning documents. 

So enjoy them. 

The rules are fun, as you will have seen. Considering that this is just a one page hit to help promote a model the content is very good. You get a nice piece of fluff concerning the mountain ranges of the Od World. There there is the 'ski charge'! How cinematic would that be, eh? If you could get your hands on enough of the models! Imagine the painted models, in Swedish knitted style, hurtling down the mountain side into the flank of some lost goblins or orks! 

Then you could let loose with perhaps the greatest special rule of Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition (or indeed any edition before or since) the Yodel of Doom! 


And if anyone has a spare Dwarf Mountaineer for me just drop me a line and contact me at 



Tuesday 18 February 2014

NEW! Antiquis Malleum Greens by Tim Prow

Good morning Oldhammers!

Mick Leach has released some more greens from the Antiquis Malleum project so I thought I would share them with you here. These are two further models sculpted by Tim Prow and represent Gregor Sinblister and Oskar the Writhing. As you will know, your comments are extremely valuable to Mick, Tim and Drew, so don't hesitate to share your opinion below!

Additionally, if you want to know more about the background to these warriors of Malign just follow the link here.

Oh, and there are loads of comparison pictures of the whole range and their relative size to old school miniatures on the Oldhammer Blog, so don't forget to visit there when your done. 

Gregor Sinlister: I love Tim's shield design, I suggested something similar to an old Anthony Ackland illustration and there were mumbles of 'it can't be done' about the image - well, Tim has pulled it off! Mick hopes to produce more shields in this style as a possible stretch goal on the kickstarter. 
I have heard of eyes in the back of your head, but a skull on your back? Creepy!
Oskar the Writhing. Lovely detail on this one, especially those gribbly tentacles. This would make a good Nurgle alternative champion model too!
I like the allusion of the rib cage in this rear shot. 

The Oldhammer Blog Needs Your Support!

Today has had some surprising news. The old Oldhammer Blog that was set up as a precursor to the Internet Forum and the Facebook Group trends second when you search the term 'oldhammer' itself. This posed an issue or two for those of us interested in promoting the ethos and broadening the scene. What would a newbie (to borrow an awful internet term) make of us all if the second thing they saw was a sparsely updated list of links? In truth, not a lot probably.

To remedy this, I have volunteered my services towards producing a weekly overview post detailing the 'best of' the painting and modelling efforts we have published in our community. It was actually a really rewarding experience going through all of the posts on the blogosphere, on the Internet Forum and in the Facebook Group to collect the material, though it was a bit difficult to narrow things down to about 8 entries a week. Please do check out my efforts below, here's the link. 

Actually, before you pop over there and check out some inspirational work from a diverse bunch of enthusiasts there are a few things you could do to help us promote the Oldhammer Community and support the blog. 

They are:

1) If you have a Google account, please follow the goings on of the blog formally. There are over 330 of you following this blog at the moment and it would be wonderful to see some of you doing the same over on the Oldhammer Blog. 

2) Contribute an article! Have you always wanted to have a go at producing an article but don't have a blog? Well, just email me your text and I'll do the rest. Hey presto, you are published! If your manic scribblings are worth reading of course! 

Thank you all in advance!

Now get into action!

Owl and Weasel: Silver Lodge Interview with Ian Livingstone

Owl and Weasel: Silver Lodge Interview from Paul Maclean on Vimeo.

I thought this worth a share on Realm of Chaos 80s. It was posted on the Oldhammer Facebook group and is well worth a watch. Without giving too much away, its an interview with Ian Livingstone detailing the Owl and Weasel fanzine and its eventual development into White Dwarf. 



Monday 17 February 2014

Chaos Scribe: An Interview with Mike Brunton

Over a year ago now, I set out to interview some of the people involved in the Realm of Chaos project. At that time, I thought I might get one or two people interested and perhaps get a paragraph or two of information out of them. Little did I realize that the project would turn into a behemoth that would see (at the time of writing anyway) fifteen completed interviews, with everyone from Bryan Ansell to Tony Hough contributing. However, there was one individual who proved rather difficult to track down. That was the subject of today's (the sixteenth) interview, Mike Brunton. For it was Mike who actually wrote the draft that became Slaves to Darkness and for a long time he was the missing link in the picture. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, I was in discussion with Graeme Davis about some WFRP material when he suggested asking Mike if he was interested in talking to us. I leaped at the chance, as you would imagine, and within hours Mike was in contact and everything fell into place quite simply.

Without any further ado, I shall hand over the reins of this tiny part of cyberspace to Mike who will fill you in on his story.


RoC80s: How did it all begin for you in the world of fantasy gaming? Lord of the Rings? Robert E Howard? D&D?

MB: I started out as a traditional wargamer, thanks to a lot of Airfix soldiers. Finding a Dungeons & Dragons boxed set in a Bradford wargames shop was just lucky. Quite how a “wooden-box” 1st edition ended up there… Well, it was one of a bunch of games that I played instead of doing Latin and Greek homework. Fantasy was there because I seemed to read Michael Moorcock’s entire output at around the same time, but being a wargamer was probably enough to qualify as being odd. Being interested in games and D&D just meant that you were nerdy and odd before nerdy and odd were even English insults. Nowadays, I’m quite surprised that Nerdy and Odd haven’t turned up as pair of ill-matched-but-they-respect-each-other-anyway TV detectives… I started playing D&D regularly at a games club in Huddersfield in 1978, and got properly bitten by the bug. Tom Kirby, long before he was GW supremo, was a regular and very good DM at the same club.

The magazine on which the vast majority of the WFRP team would originally work, and some individuals beyond too. 
RoC80s: You started off working for TSR, if memory serves, and you worked on Imagine Magazine too. What are your memories of the British D&D scene in the early 80s?

MB: I started at TSR because they wanted a miniatures painter and someone to run their computer system. It never occurred to me to turn down a job in games.  So I was in, as Tom Kirby had already joined TSR and remembered that I was a better-than-average D&D-er, and a really-not- shabby-at-all toy soldier painter (I got asked to stop entering Games Day painting competitions at about the same time, as I’d won too many).
      I mostly remember how not-very-corporate we all were back then. Games were a cottage industry. Everyone was on at least nodding acquaintance with everyone else. Kev Adams, for example, used to drop in every once in a while: he just fancied a chat about games (this was before he’d become a full-time figure designer). The business was like that, because we were gamers who were really lucky to be paid for messing about with games.
    Another example: TSR used to host games at the Cambridge office on occasional Saturdays, and I’d go in to open up and get things started. It wasn’t a selling thing, just a day for people to meet up with like-minded strangers and have a day of complete D&D indulgence and a Chinese from round the corner. I do remember one mum, who ferried her son over for the day, thanking us for getting him interested in reading and maths: I seem to remember he had some kind of learning problems. He wanted to read and do hard sums so he could play, and his schoolwork had really benefitted from obsessional D&D. (Once she was happy he wasn’t going to be sacrificed by weirdoes, she went shopping). Still, not many companies these days just ask a bunch of folk over to play games.
      I did eventually end up working on Imagine Magazine. And it is now time for a small confession: I didn’t always go by my own name. I was cheerfully informed that “Your name is appearing too bloody often…” and that it was time to adopt a pseudonym. Or two. Or more. So I was myself, and “Mark Burroughs” and “Fiona Lloyd” among others. This last choice of name caused a fluttering among some readers (A girl! A roleplaying girl! Sigh!). It turned out that I had a bit of a talent for reading new rules sets, and then doing short, snappy adventures for them to order and at speed. The result was that I got, say, Star Frontiers, Marvel Super Heroes, or Bushido dumped on my desk and a few days to write a new adventure mini-module for that system I’d never seen before. And then I got to do it all over again a couple of weeks later with another new game. The external contributors – doing this stuff as a hobby, remember – would never have agreed to such stupid time pressures. In and amongst, though, the high pressure thing paid off through a shared by-line with Michael Moorcock, something I’m still chuffed about. It was also good training, although I didn’t know it, for later work.

I've seen copies of this go for quite a bit online in the past!
RoC80s: Was 'Up the Garden Path' your only work for TSR?

MB: It was the only “proper” module that I had a hand in, because I wasn’t part of the TSR UK design group; after Imagine was killed I was mostly attached to marketing. I was probably more responsible for the general level of silliness than Graeme Morris, who was a terribly nice chap but not given to gratuitous daftness. It was done as a promotional item, so I think we were allowed to get away with a lot of surreal elements, far more than if it had gone through the regular TSR publishing process. Up the Garden Path is best known today as (a) the D&D module that no one has seen (because of the small print run) and (b) for the extraordinary prices it can command when a copy does go on sale. I financed a lot of nappies thanks to that extraordinariness, so I always think kindly of it. It was fun, and it has really good artwork by Jes Goodwin (see: the business really was small and incestuous back then). I didn’t get chance to do any other modules, because I left TSR just before it was published. By that time two-thirds of the design group were gone as well.Most of the published games material that I did was for TSR was in Imagine Magazine. And I just talked about that in the previous answer.
          The “invisible” things I did while at TSR were writing a lot of ads, and answering the rules queries. The rules queries were actually quite a big job. There was a policy handed down from on high that all rules queries should receive a personal reply. This was in the days before email, and the pile of letters was pushed in my direction. I dutifully assaulted it every day but thanks to rising sales it never got smaller, even as I got faster at formulating rulings for DMs faced with characters wielding “Tridents of Everything Slaying +57”. I hope I didn’t mess up anyone’s game too badly with poor interpretations of the game systems, but there were always a lot of holes for rules lawyers to use. Some of those holes were large enough to conga through, and players did.

RoC80s:  Did you 'jump ship' with Paul Cockburn in 1986 or was your arrival at Bryan Ansell's GW handled differently?

MB: As I understand it, during 1985-86 the money ran out at TSR in America and instructions were issued to batten down the hatches. There was also a lot of political infighting between Gary Gygax and the Blume family. In the UK, Don Turnbull chose to load as many costs on Imagine as he could, then shut it down. As a saving being made, it must have looked good on the balance sheet, and… well, let’s not speak ill of the dead. After sending the last issue to the printers, all the magazine staff were called in and dismissed. A couple of hours later, someone realised that they’d just sacked me, the chap writing all the advertising and marketing copy as well. Cue a search for me, who had naturally assumed that dismissal meant dismissal and had gone to the pub. So, everyone else got the bullet...
Paul started GamesMaster. I wrote a couple of things for GamesMaster (or rather, that nice lass Fiona Lloyd did) to help out. Then he went up to Nottingham and GW, and that was that. Or rather it wasn’t.
           The first person to go directly from TSR UK to GW was, I think, Tom Kirby. Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher and Graeme Morris then organised their own expedition to Nottingham to talk to GW about moving there as a unit. Tom’s move had been a real shock for them, as he had been a strong influence on the UK-produced D&D adventures. I asked if I could tag along on their road trip. I really didn’t expect very much to come of it, but GW offered me a job as well. I really couldn’t see a long-term future in writing TSR’s ad copy, so I took it. And, with all the migration towards Nottingham, Don Turnbull was a little bit… tetchy towards anyone who might be labelled creative… and it wasn’t exactly as if I’d be working with strangers…
           The only person who stayed in the end was Graeme Morris, and he had good reason to do so. He and his wife were archaeologists, and they wanted to stay in Cambridge to keep their close contacts with the university’s archaeology department. Come to think of it, archaeologists were not uncommon in games at the time: I’m pretty sure that Graeme Morris, Graeme Davis, Rick Priestley and Nigel Stillman were archaeologists.

Issue 84 of White Dwarf, the first to be edited by Mike. Fantastic Ian Miller cover to boot and even Christmas was acknowledged! Christmas pud and Sanity Claws. 
RoC80s: You edited White Dwarf for a while, what are your memories of taking the helm of the magazine in those early days?

That there was a lot to do.

And that Paul Cockburn looked terribly relieved he could hand the magazine on to someone else. He didn’t quite skip down the corridor to his new desk and job, but it was close. Editing White Dwarf was not a plum job at the Nottingham studio: it was something that needed doing, but virtually everything else was regarded as more glamorous and fun. This was probably true, on one level, because magazines must have a (necessarily dull) regularity about them. Boxed games and rulebooks are real “events” in publishing terms, and they are few and far between. Or, to put it succinctly, magazines are “work” because they have deadlines, and games are “fun”.
         The earlier move from London hadn’t gone smoothly, so there was still clearing up to do: hundreds of articles from hopeful contributors to go through. In the end, I had to go in for a merciless triage if only so that I had some space in the office. Lots of material that didn’t make the grade; with more time it might have done. However, eventually I managed to get to a point where White Dwarf was doable each month without too much fuss. I had to be sneaky, though, in one respect, and get too many pages ready for printing each month so that I could build up a “war chest” of ready-to-go material in case anything went wrong. It mostly ended up being wasted effort, though, when the decision was made to only cover GW products. Such is life.
        The good bit was that I had a relatively free hand when it came to most of the content. Pages were reserved for GW figures and products, of course, but the rest was largely my choice as editor. This meant I could cover games like Paranoia, Dredd and AD&D (all of which were still sold by GW during my time as WD editor). I did get a certain amount of (in retrospect) childish enjoyment from printing one Paranoia adventure without any maps, and another upside down: I thought this was in keeping with Paranoia’s level of insanity, and quite a few people wrote in to say they’d enjoyed the joke.
          The bad bit, for me, was realising that even then, in the pre-Internet dark ages, you could also be disliked/hated/despised (delete as considered applicable) for doing your job. This was not a universal opinion, but a few readers would have quite cheerfully attended my funeral. And it wasn’t like they even knew me! No matter what the content of WD over time, someone was going to be convinced you were making their lives a misery by printing too much (or not enough) about game X or Y. In the end I came to realise that there was no winning on that one. And never had been. Anyway, disgruntled readers never got as far as death threats, for which I am rather grateful, looking back.
          As my time on WD finished, there was a change of direction and all non-GW content was dropped. The change of content and the change of editor (goodbye, me!) are not entirely unrelated. I thought the decision was unwise as circulation and ad revenue were both climbing. But WD managed to last another few hundred issues…

Inside spread from Slaves to Darkness. Can you spot Mike?
RoC80s: You were the chief writer on Realms of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness. Rick P described the project as a 'breaker of games designers'. How did you succeed where others had failed?

MB: If I succeeded it was thanks to (a) #Cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women#; (b) long hours hunched over the keyboard and blind luck; or (c) I’m still writing it and this has all been a dream. I suspect mostly (b), with a little bit of (a) is the answer.
           By the time Realm of Chaos landed in my in-tray it felt like all the other writers and editors had either had a go, or suddenly looked terribly busy on other projects. Realm of Chaos was a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy inside the studio: it was awful job because it was expected to be awful. I was apprehensive, but actually glad to have something a bit bigger (well, a hell of a lot bigger) than a White Dwarf editorial to write. It wasn’t like there was nothing there: Graeme Davis had been the last one to assault the North Face of Mount Chaosspikeydeath, but he’d run out of ropes, pitons and tea. Quite a lot of mutation ideas, for example, were from his fevered wee brain in an early draft. And then he made himself busily indispensable on other projects. Sensible chap, that Graeme. And there was other early material that it turned out Bryan didn’t like to kick against. It wasn’t like I was starting clean: it was more like I tore off the last layer of wrapping paper when the music stopped.
           In the end, not to mention at the beginning and in the middle, Realm of Chaos was Bryan’s baby. A baby covered in pus, maggots, tentacles and eyes on stalks, but his disturbing baby nonetheless. That meant that whatever version of Realm of Chaos came out of someone else’s head was never going to be as good the book that Bryan had imagined in his own head. It couldn’t be. Ever. In an ideal world, he’d have written Realm of Chaos himself, but he was kind of busy running GW, and that was just a bit more important for everyone’s futures.
Bryan certainly tried to communicate what he wanted, as we had weekly sessions where he’d talk, I’d scribble notes, and then off I’d trot to my corner to spend the next few days writing up material. He was also given to turning up in the editorial office, plonking himself down on the battered old sofa and just chatting to anyone nearby about anything and everything. And sometimes Realm of Chaos. Bryan would have a weekly session where he’d pull my hard-won words to bits, or be satisfied and we’d start on the next bit. This was where my previous experience on speed writing for Imagine adventures came into its own. I do remember I was given a fairly free hand to do what I wanted with the 40K stuff like the Horus Heresy and the Grey Knights, but I did try to stick to the tone and grimness of what was wanted. At the same time as I was writing to Bryan’s sometimes shifting requirements, artwork was being done too, and I had to match words to good pictures. I think this produced some good stuff, like the wee snippets that went alongside Ian Miller’s dark and disturbing ink drawings for each chapter.
In the end, I think what I produced was good enough to, or close enough, to what he hoped for, to go out of the door as “a” Realm of Chaos. But I have the sneaking suspicion that he always wanted something else, a bit different, a bit better, or just closer to his (to be all pretentious) “vision”. That would have been “the definitive” Realm of Chaos. And that’s fair enough. What he got was a book that was big, impressive, and sold out almost immediately. And, miraculously, it still seems to be quite well regarded. At the time I thought it was a solid effort, but I honestly thought it would go out, people might like it, and that would be that. Something new and shinier would come along.
            It’s also fair to say that, by the time I finished doing the hundreds of thousands of words involved, I never wanted to see or think about another tentacle. Ever. And other than a box of books arriving in the studio I don’t remember much fanfare or even congratulations when it was done. That was a bit of a downer.
           It took me a long time to realise that it’s actually OK, as it was very hard work for what seemed like a very long time. About a year ago, I went back and read it when a fusion of Warhammer and Total War PC games (I was working on those at the time) was being planned. With twenty-odd years’ detachment, I came away thinking I hadn’t done too bad a job with the words, all things considered.

RoC80s: Can you recall which material you worked on for RoC? Or was it simply the case of doing the editing?

MB: As I remember it, I wrote most of Slaves to Darkness barring a few of the army lists and the painting section. I know I wrote some of the WH40K army lists, because some of the Chaos Marines are armed with pointed sticks (which is all a “spawn goad” is, after all). It’s silly, so it probably was me during one of the long, dark afternoons of textual horror.  I can’t be more definite than that, because it’s a few million words and a couple of decades ago.
I also did a pretty complete first draft for Lost and the Damned as well, although by then my interest in all things Chaos-y and spikey had waned somewhat. Simon Forrest did the copy editing on both books, so anything spelled properly is entirely to his credit. My fingers were seizing up!
          And by then, I’d moved on to have a crack at “Necromunda”, a skirmish/gang warfare spin-off for WH40K (in the version I worked on). My version was shelved, but then along came an interesting opportunity to keep WFRP alive with Flame Publications. I have the suspicion that without Flame, WFRP might have been abandoned as a GW product. While it was popular in itself, I remember hearing on the grapevine that it didn’t meet the internal standards of being a success, which was measured largely in miniatures sales. Roleplayers just didn’t buy armies, and roleplaying products cost just as much to write as rulebooks that did sell lots of models.

RoC80s: Later you helped set up Flame and began work on WFRP supplements. How did the studio operate and what did you work on exactly?

“Studio” is a very grand way of describing Flame. I like it. There were three of us (Tony Ackland, Graeme Davis and me), a big jar of instant coffee, and an Apple Macintosh. Plus a shedload of targeted enthusiasm, a rather good local close by, and desire to show our erstwhile colleagues what could be done without any bureaucracy. And no, we didn’t give the Mac a name. We set up in a couple of rooms in a rather grand Georgian (I think) terrace house away from the main GW studio, with Trish and Aly Morrison’s Marauder Miniatures one floor up. It was all very “GW trying not to look like GW”. Looking back, I think these small companies were production experiments without risk to the main studios.
           The idea behind Flame Publications was simple. The three of us had to produce a book every eight weeks and 8 pages of material for White Dwarf every month. We were budgeted a bit of freelance help for maps, if we needed it. We had to deliver books that were typeset and pasted up ready for the printers, a minimum of 64 pages long (and because of the printing machinery, extra pages were always in multiples of 8). The cover prices were to start at £6.99 or equivalent (pocket money pricing, considering the schedule, and really rather good value), and we were expected to achieve sales that covered our costs and sold out of stock. This was deliberate so we didn’t tie up money in stock. We would handle our own mail order. Nothing there that’s too outrageous, really. The main GW studio looked after printing for us, although not always without pain: one finished camera-ready (i.e. ready for the printers) product “went missing” between its delivery to the studio and the printing works. The end product looked bloody awful as someone (and no, I never found out who) decided to print from a photocopy rather than ask for replacements.
           Flame worked as well as it did because all three of us wanted to work there, and we knew that we could rely on each other not to bugger things up. We organised ourselves fairly ruthlessly to get products done without messing about. Central to the process was getting the machinery to do as much of the drudge work as possible. The Macintosh and its desktop publishing software were utterly brilliant, and these were what really allowed us to work as well as we did.
            We also persuaded an Amstrad PCW (horrid, horrid machines, but they were what GW had settled on) to squirt text over to a Macintosh, and to replace text formatting codes with matching DTP tags before it went. Text got keyed in once, copy-edited by Graeme or myself, and then I could typeset a 64-page book to galley stage in a few minutes. After that it was a question of art and map requirements and allocation, putting it all in a pleasing layout, and Bob was our metaphorical Uncle. The time consuming bits were making sure the layouts worked well, would accept text automatically, and that pages didn’t look awful or too busy. We wanted our stuff to be books that people used in games until they fell to bits, not bought and didn’t bother reading.
         We had complete access to Tony’s archive of Warhammer imagery, which was immense. Although most people probably never noticed, nearly all the smaller artwork in Flame books came out of Tony’s previous work. That meant he could spend his time doing a few double-page or single-page illustrations with real impact; the rest of the art was from stock. Tony was also a wizard with a process camera, and could manipulate his archive images with that as well, something that was definitely not trivial then. Now it’s different, of course, with Photoshop and the zillion other programs. Doing that stuff back in the day was deucedly clever.
         The system worked well enough that we got to the point of always having spare, finished (ready for the printers) products in hand every time we completed a production cycle. I insisted on this just in case anyone fell ill, or went under a bus, or something equally stupid. As far as I can remember we managed to do a character pack, rework the four Doomstones books for WFRP (I had fun working out the paper models for the crystals), put together a catch-all “compendium”, rewrite a couple of other adventures, start work on getting Ken Rolston’s Realm of Magic ready for printing and do some pre-production work on a second edition of the Judge Dredd RPG. That list is not bad for three people! We also delivered a shedload of WFRP material for White Dwarf as well, sometimes more than the 8 pages per month we expected to provide. If there was one thing I missed doing it was writing original stuff, as I was quite busy with all the editing and production work, not to mention dealing with the business end of things and, on one memorable morning, persuading a bunch of bailiffs that we were nothing to do with the fly-by-night double-glazing company one floor down. And no, they damn well couldn’t take our computers away…
         Anyway, for me it all came to a close when Graeme Davis left to move to the US. It made me take stock, and I realised that I wasn’t going anywhere inside GW. So I went to MicroProse and the wonderful world of PC games. Tony was always going to be secure inside GW, so I didn’t have to worry about leaving him behind. There was an effort made to keep Flame going, but it didn’t last.
        A few months later, MicroProse UK looked like a sort of “GW in exile”, because Graeme Davis, Jim Bambra and Steve Hand were all working there as well; the pool of experienced UK game designers was really quite small back in 1991. The pool is a good bit bigger now, but I’m lucky enough to be still working away, designing games and having fun. 

As always, I would like to thank Mike for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute to Realm of Chaos 80s. It must be rather strange having some random internet chap knocking on your eDoor wanting to talk about stuff you did over twenty-five years ago. As with all of our interview subjects, Mike graciously provided answers to my random, rambling questions.

I am sure you will all thank him as well. Oh, and big thanks to Graeme Davis too, for setting this opportunity up!


Sunday 16 February 2014

A Dark Deranged Structure: Old School Fantasy Cottage Tutorial: Construction

My original cottage. Built and painted using advice from Phil Lewis and Dave Andrews from an ancient WD article. I have since repainted the stone work though, as I wasn't happy with the brick colour.
A couple of weeks ago I posted a little article about the cottage I made inspired by the old Modelling Workshop articles that Phil Lewis was involved in. After reading his account, I found myself flicking back through the White Dwarf archive and pulling out the old issues that contained his work. He didn't do it alone though, for much of the work was done by Dave Andrews. Together, they produced fantastic articles for the cottage, a two story townhouse, walls and hedges, a larger town house, mines and shacks and a ruined temple. Later on, there were some other articles by other people, though these were not up to the same standard as Phil's and Dave's work, but they are okay. 

Anyway, I had lots of requests to explain how I built the old school cottage and I promised several people a full article explaining it all some time ago. Well, as its Realm of Chaos 80s's birthday week, I thought it appropriate to write up the article in full and share it with you. Its proved to be a bit more of a task than I expected, so I have had to split the article into two posts. The first will deal with the construction of the model and the second will deal with how I went about painting the piece. 

First up, here is the original article from White Dwarf 130. Looking back, this article is one of the most memorable pieces that I can recall, along with the WFRP stuff. As I have said before, I had a brilliant time building my own boyhood version of this (and I really enjoyed the latest effort too). 

The original article is pretty clear about what you need to work with. Foamboard. Now, this stuff really is easy to work and is really simple to get hold of, either online or at an arts and crafts shop, such as Hobbycraft here in the UK. You could also use thick plasticard, though this is much harder to cut. I chose foamboard as I had loads of sheets of it lying around unused in the house. 

Anyway, I just printed off the scheme from the article, enlarged it and then stuck it onto the foamboard as the article suggests. Using the wife's pins, it was fairly simple to create the the outline and slice the sections out using a sharp blade. Once this has been done, I stuck the foamboard together with Copydex. Now, I don't know if you have heard of Copydex before but in my opinion it is the best stuff out there for sticking card or paper. It sets as a sort of rubbery layer and dries rather quickly so you're not sitting around for hours waiting for the stuff to dry. Its fairly easy to remove too, if things go wrong, with the glue just peeling away like thin sheets of rubber from the card surface. You get quite a bit of movement too, which is essential in model making, ensuring that you can slide the pieces exactly where you want them to be with ease.

Once it was fairly dry, I stuck the model to a plasticard rectangular base and added the roof sections. These need to be thin, so use cardboard. The stuff you get from packets of cereal are best. Be careful though, as some cardboards can warp when wet so go easy on the glue.

The basic shape. I tend to leave the doorways cut out and use blobs of greenstuff, some attached to the top and some to the bottom, to help secure the doorway. In reality, there is no real need to remove the door but doing so allows you to suggest depth.
Leave the model to dry over night. The Copydex will really harden up and you should have a pretty solid model by this stage which will allow for more rough work. To create the timbers the article suggests balsa wood, though I find that matchsticks are easier (and hardier) in this regard. Cutting them can be a challenge so invest in one of the matchstick cutting blades you can get from craft shops. Match sticks have been used for centuries for building models, they are cheap, come in different sizes and are very easy to source. You can follow the pattern on the article or develop your own, remember though, the wooden frame held the building up so your frame needs to look like its up for the job or the finished cottage will look rather odd. 

The match cutting blade is triangular and allows you to apply pressure directly down onto the the match, making cutting a doddle. I bought mine for a couple of quid (along with loads of other strangely shaped blades) at B&Q. 
Once you have the basic frame complete, its time to add the door. A piece of card will suffice, though I use a flat piece of balsa wood and just score in the details. The hinges and things are made from thin card (again taken from the cardboard cereal packet) but I would recommend that you use the coloured side. You see, the coloured side is much more smooth in its finish, perhaps to help hold the printed image, and when painted gives a much better result than using the 'grey' side. This is also true of the roof tiles. Use the decorated side and slowly build up the layers (starting from the bottom) ensuring that the first row, and the last tiles on each edge, overlap slightly. This will allow you to paint them more effectively later on. Use longer pieces on card on the very top of the roof. This will help tidy up the over all finish and will prevent imaginary rain from ruining the imaginary interior. 

Avoid the temptation to apply the bricks as if you were building a wall. Just blob them on randomly and slowly build up the detail. If sculpting is not your thing, you could always buy some of that patterned plasticard. 
I added further details by using green stuff to build up the brickwork on the chimney. This was achieved by making little balls of putty, sticking them on the foamboard and shaping them suitably. Don't forget to produce convincing corner stones for the edges of the chimney, where the brick work touches the wall, otherwise your wall will look a bit odd. Use plenty of water here, as the sticky putty can easily rip away the card backing of the foamboard making it very difficult for the putty to attach itself to your model. You may find it easier to wait for some of the brickwork to dry before going back and plugging the gaps as it gives you the option of attacking the fresh greenstuff to the old. 

The model is now pretty finished. As you will have no doubt noted, I added a side extension, built in exactly the same way as the rest of the house. 
Instant polyfilla is a brilliant way of quickly texturing the walls of the building. Just squirt the stuff out of the tub (or tub) and apply to the wall with a sculpting tool. I find that a downward motion with the flat end of the tool gets the best results. Don't worry if the polyfilla ends up creating little peaks or smears onto the wood. Once its dry, it is very easy to sand down or simple break off to create a neater finish. It goes without saying, but you need to leave the window panes free of texturing so the glass painting looks more realistic. Final details can be now added; flagstones by the doorway, sand and even a small round ball of greenstuff to mimic a doorknob. 

Right, that is all from me. If you need any further advice just comment and I'll get back to you. Otherwise, I hope this article inspires you to get out there an get building your own little cottages. The materials used are most likely lying around your house as you read, so a piece like this can be produced for little or now real cost. 

What are you waiting for?


Saturday 15 February 2014

A Slaaneshi Champion, Three Chaos Warriors and a Chaos Hound

Yesterday, I spoke about it being half-term for me. I have been rather swamped by work, life and illnesses and the following ten days of holiday are very much welcome. My painting station has done little but collect dust since the New Year, with a number of unfinished miniatures propping it up. So after an episode of Birds of a Feather (ITV) and a glorious hour with the BBC's new Musketeers drama series with the wife, I settled down amongst the clutter in my corner and got to work. A slow and leisurely morning also helped me get these on the shelf too. 

Firstly, I got this classic Jes Goodwin champion completed. Originally, this was just going to be a touch up job as this figure was one of the first I knocked out when I went 'Old School' in 2011. Obviously, my painting skill and colour palette has changed some what since then and I felt that this model was looking rather out of place. Long term readers may recognise this model as the one I used to represent Slakesin the Fondler during my RoC campaign. Eventually, my quick brush and touch up ended up with a total repaint and I added lots of pastel pinks and greens to help it fit alongside some of my more recent Slaanesh stuff. I am rather pleased with the result, those I don't like the sword as much as the original scheme but you cannot have everything. 

Next to finish was this Chaos Warrior, also by Jes Goodwin, and a variant on Slambo it seems. I was fairly familiar with much of this model (and the boots are almost exactly them same as the first Old School model I painted) so the paint went on easily. I used purple for the chainmail because I was tired of just doing green or metallic shades. I used a little gold though, on the rim around the helmet, to tie in the minimal touch of gold that many of the other Slaanesh models I have finished have. Two cheeky pink pieces of armour were the finishing touches. They almost look like chaos boobs do they not?

I wasn't in the mood for intricate work, so knocked out a quick twenty minute shield for this warrior. Instead of just using the face, I experimented with the Slaanesh symbol on the forward of the leering visage and used pink washes to try and make it appear as if the symbol is branded on to the head of the image. Not sure how successful it was, but the colours certainly help tie everything together. 

By the time I blocked out the colours for this figure, I had settled on a hotch-potch of green, pink, purple, blue and black, chased with a little gold for the armour. I continued to use gold in tiny places, like the collar around the model's neck and the inserts of the shoulder armour. I spent a little longer on the face, highlight ing flesh up to white to get that pale and perverse look (see me in the winter) and used a nice shade of black to add depth to the eyes and tongue. I rather like using yellow and black for eyes at the moment, perhaps due to teaching my Year 2 class all about Aztec masks this term, and added them to this model. I particularly like the face on this one, again another classic by Jes Goodwin, and enjoyed painting it. 

Strange pose alert! This model, and I am not sure who the sculptor was, has one of those '80s strange poses that you only seem to get from Citadel. I followed up on my hotch-potch colour scheme here, but added a lot more black. It took me a while to get the face finished, though to be honest, by this point I was cutting corners as I wanted to get on with the shield and close the project. I added a red wash to the yellow eye thing that I have going on at the moment, and this resulted in a far more angrier finish for the face, which I liked. I opted for a totally black sword with a grey edge highlight as I am sick of metallic weapons on chaos warriors at the moment. 

The shield on this model was stuck on my a previous owner in the depths of history with some pretty nasty two part resin glue by the looks of things. So rather than cut away the shield, I just painted it in situ. Inspired by eye shields of yesterday I just had a play around with a few colours and had this after about fifteen minutes. Not brilliant by a long way, and rather cartoony, but I learnt a bit about doing 'eye shield' designs and will probably return to them some time in the future when I am willing to commit more time to a design. 

Finally, a chaos hound. I painted this one quite a while ago for my Khorne army, but the green came out differently than I'd intended, making this canine more suited to the pleasure god. I added the dots to the scorpion tail and the patches on the animal's fur last night as I felt it helped break up the green coat. I like the result, and I hope you do too. The idea for the way the pattern spreads was inspired by my mother-in-law's Jack Russell dogs. 

Right, with these models finished its time for 'something completely different'... Actually, not just yet, as I have my scenery project to finish too. Well, I have nothing really planned for this afternoon so I hope to share with you the first stage tomorrow. 


Friday 14 February 2014

Realm of Chaos 80s: Two Years On!

Its been a strange road. 

What started out as a desperate attempt to avoid doing any school work one Sunday afternoon in February 2012 turned into a blog that has been subsequently viewed over 500,000 times. Half a million page views? I would never have imagined getting ten thousand when I originally began typing away on my (now deceased) silver laptop. What's even more amazing is that fact that 400,000+ of those page views were chalked up over the last twelve months! 

Last year I wrote:

"Its been twelve months, 150 posts (not including this one), 925 published comments, 108,000 page views and 168 followers..."

At the time of writing those same stats can be updated to:

Twenty-four months, 311 posts (not including this one), 2640 published comments, 508,095 page views and 333 followers...


So thank you all so much for reading and contributing to this tiny slice of Old School Cyberspace and making RoC80s the small success that it has been. 

Regular readers may have wondered why output has been a bit slack of late, well the answer is sadly very mundane. The toxic combination of illness (my own, and my family's), increased workload (school reports anyone) and a sense of utter exhaustion every time I sit down to write or paint. Thankfully, today was the last day of term and I have ten whole days of holiday sitting ahead of me. Those ten days I intend to fill with miniature wargames related enjoyment. There is plenty to look forward to, I can assure you, and hopefully my posts in the coming days will be nice and varied; painting, modelling, history and collecting stories to inspire and interest you all out there. 

Talking of painting. I haven't finished a miniature since just after New Year when my abscess struck. My Slannesh army sits unfinished still in bags and I have found my enthusiasm for completing the project has waned. Sure, I have a handful of miniatures that need finishing up and I will certainly get them smartened up over the weekend but I feel like a need a new project.

Something big!

Of course, I have my Warhammer Bestiary painting project to work on. Four lovely old Citadel elves wait upon the painting station for completion but I really do feel that I need something substantial to fill the next year of my modelling/collecting/painting/writing time. I have been inspired by Warlord Paul's attempt to do a 'gaming session' at the Wargames Foundry in April/ Sadly, I cannot attend as the event clashes with my family holiday but his idea has encouraged me to think about a 'Realm of Chaos 80s' gaming day of some such. 

Anyway, its all nothing more than a collection of vague ideas at the moment. So time will have to tell what comes out of it.

Right, those Slannesh models are calling out to be based as we speak and I have a piece of scenery to complete too. More posts soon though, as its birthday week after all! 

Thanks for reading followers and lurkers. 


Sunday 9 February 2014

'Antiquis Malleum': Snaplimb Lusthowl: New Green Revealed by Eastern Front Studios!

Only a week or so after the release of Tim Prow's first green in the Antiquis Malleum project from Eastern Front miniatures comes the second sculpt in the series. This time its Snaplimb Lusthowl by Drew Williams from a design by Tony Ackland. 

Influenced by the ethos and artwork behind the seminal Realm of Chaos Slaves to Darkness, this range hopes to produce further miniatures in the near future. 

So, what do you guys think then?