Sunday 30 March 2014

Nick Bibby's Great Spined Dragon

As regular readers will recall, my favourite miniature of all time is this beast: the Great Spined Dragon by the incredibly talented Nick Bibby. Considering that the model is approaching 30 years of age makes it even more remarkable. No other sculptor has produced a better model, and as you will no doubt be aware, there are some truly incredible dragon models out there.

Now, I have written at length about the creation of the Spined Dragon before and that article can be found here for those of you who are interested in hearing more. Today, I want to talk about the painting of my dragon. a task that has taken up the majority of my painting time over the last few weeks.

Here is a shot I took of my original model after I purchased it last summer. I paid about £70 for him, though I had allowed for a top bid of £120. If you are interested in acquiring one of these models after reading this post, this really is a fair price range to work from. Mine was in poor condition. The front leg was snapped off, the back leg (which is a detachable piece) was badly twisted and many of the wing bones were seriously damaged. It was clear that the model would need serious repair work and restoration to ensure that it remained whole into the future.

The broken leg was an easy fix. Using a 1mm drill I added a steel pin to the stump and glued the piece back on. It was quite straight forwards really, especially when I stuck the main part of the body onto an oval base for additional support. The tail and head for attached in a similar way, though I used two part epoxy resin for extra strength here. My problems lay with the wings. After working on the model for a few hours the left wing became increasingly more fragile and in the end I decided to snap the piece into two pieces and do a full repair. Again, steel rod was inserted for about two centimetres into the stump and used to rebuild the wing and add strength. However, this still wasn't enough to produce sturdy wings.

I solved the problem by using very thin plasticard to build the membrane of the wings. I laid the damaged wings on the top of this and stuck the lead down using superglue. I then used green stuff to build up a strengthening layer over the top of the plasticard and around the edges of the wings. Serendipity came into play at this point, as my fingerprints helped add texture to the wings where previously it would have looked very flat and smooth.

With the model built, my young son (aged only three at the time) helped me undercoat the model in white in the back garden. He thoroughly enjoyed it and still talks about it now, but I began to feel a sense of trepidation at painting such an enormous model. My feelings were re-enforced when I tried to undercoat the thing (I originally chose red) and I found myself giving up shortly after! I packed the model away in my draw and worked on my Khorne Army.

And so the model sat there until recently. Having overcome my painting lethargy with some Slanneshi chaos warriors I felt ready to do something completely different. So I pulled out the Spined Dragon and got to work, this time with a green colour scheme. After about five weeks work, on and off, the dragon is pretty much complete and I worked on the finishing touches today.

What do you lot think of my efforts?

Frontal View: I limited the colours I used for the body and was largely inspired by the 'look' of various crocodile species. I found that using plenty of natural world images I could bring out the realism in the sculpt.

Top View: The wings were painted with a mix of drybrushing, ink washes, fine point work and speckling. I was trying to capture an aged look to the wings.

Back View: The back of the dragon saw the closest application of the crocodile colour scheme. This is most noticeable in the black stripes that run across the back of the model.

Back View Two: I used colour harmony between the yellow underbelly and the green skin/scales. I found that this helped bring the two colours together in a more satisfying way.

Top View Two: I felt that a base of this size would look a little plain without something breaking it up so I included a casualty from the Fighters range. I liked the way the fallen knight adds a little narrative to the model, after all is the dragon protecting the wounded knight or is it preparing to eat him?

Side View: Taking a decent shot of the underneath of the model was a challenge but this is the best I could achieve. I used red inks to make the buboes a little more angry and add contrast. The spot colour also helped link the dragon with the fallen knight.

Well, with such a huge beast finished I am now looking around for another 'big 'un' to work on. This is most likely to be my Marauder Giant, which I also started work on last summer but gave up on. I feel a lot more confident about handling bigger miniatures now and feel like I can do the classic model justice.

As always, please feel free to comment on my restoration and paintjob.


Saturday 29 March 2014

Antiquis Malleum: Another terriying beastman concept from Anthony Ackland

Mick Leach is very keen that you should see this today. This is Tony Ackland's latest beastman concept that he has been developing for us here in the Oldhammer Community. His latest offering is far more horrific than most, largely thanks to that spiderface though the additional arm isn't going to help this chap win any beauty pageants either!
It reminds me in many ways of the classic 'Spider Mutant' from Slaves to Darkness, brought so skilfully to life by Mortis some years ago in his memorable conversion.
I really like this concept and I feel that The Grandmaster of Chaos is beginning to get into his stride with this project. Over the last couple of months we have seen warriors, daemons and now hideously mutated beastmen emerge from his twisted imagination.
It makes be ponder (in trepidation) about what he will produce next!
What do you think about this latest concept? And those of you who have been contributing to the project by providing your thoughts and opinions, do you think the concepts are moving towards that hotchpotch of creatures that so many of you are hoping for?

Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Dwarf War Machines, Marauder Wood Elves and Bretonnian Knights

Last time we spoke about the history of Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition we took a little sidestep to have a look at the way Heroquest was launched. Over the coming months, there were several articles published for the game and more complex scenarios were provided for Advanced Heroquest. The astonishing success of the game helped encourage the company's future owners to concentrate on the younger market.

'Our Warhammer' still had a number of years to exist though, before 3rd edition made way for the radical change that was 4th, though it is worth remembering that The Lost and the Damned remained as a major supplement still in development. As I have said before, true Warhammer III articles were very much in decline though the later part of '89 and into the 1990s. Even the miniature releases slowed. However, Marauder Miniatures began to produce more and more Warhammer Third Edition army sets and started publishing them as army deals. I am sure that many readers of this blog who purchased White Dwarf during this period will remember the full colour adverts for these.

By issue 115, Marauder had been going strong for quite some time (around two years) and subsequently had a lot of models to release. I know, from Andy Craig, that the models that Marauder produced were painted by the 'Eavy Metal team as a favour to Aly and Trish Morrison. However, not all the models that Marauder produced were photographed in these adverts. The stalwart of 1980s advertising, the line drawn image, was used to illustrate some ranges, while photographs were used for others.

The releases from 115 concerned Dwarf War Machines and Wood Elves. So without any more waffle, let's have a look at them.  

At the time I loved the Marauder dwarf range. In later years, I began to loathe the models as they represented, to me anyway, the awful 'big hands oversized weapons' era of Citadel Miniatures. A lot of the blame was put on the step of Marauder, but after years of study and discussions with interested and involved parties I have come to really appreciate this range once more. The late-Medieval look was a great choice for the tone of the models and moved away from the Viking style stunties we had seen in the past. The faces were packed with character, vital for a dwarf in my opinion, and some of the better models tell their own little tales in 28mm. This page reveals to the world some of the siege engines that the dwarfs could field, namely the Organ, Siege and Swivel Guns, listed here with nostalgic prices when compared to today's collectors market. 

These models are well worth owning of you are a fan of Citadel or Marauder or indeed both. Especially if you have the spearmen as well. One day I have promised myself I'd work on a dwarf army of considerable size, and these models will be some of the first I will be chasing. 

The Wood Elves did not get so lucky. They were lumbered with this month's line drawn adverts. I actually own a few of the Marauder wood elves but I cannot recognise mine among these, so perhaps there were other releases. Not much can really be drawn from the images as its hard to appraise miniatures through drawings alone. I pick up a faint 'native American' vibe going on here, don't you? Something about some of the hairstyles and clothing reminds me of the really bad westerns that used to play on Sunday afternoons during the late '80s. 

The final miniature release relating to Warhammer Third Edition in WD 115 are these wonderful Bretonnian knights, designed to make use of the new Citadel plastic horse. These models are really much larger than many miniatures Citadel released during 1988 and are in some cases twice the size of the old 'Baron's War' range that served as the Sons of Breton for so many years. I think this size increase may have more to do with the limits of plastic casting technology at the time rather than any conscious effort to make things larger, but that is just my opinion. 

Having a glance over the models, you can see that the Perry's have produced another solid set of models here. What else would you expect? They have always produced solid sets of models. This are far more 'historical' looking that what would come later in 4th edition and I have always wondered if the historical market was in mind when these were originally produced. I have a number of these models kicking about and they are lovely to paint. I expect that a great number of these models still see service in historical armies to this day, explaining why some of them reach very high prices on eBay. 

What are your thoughts on the models discussed today?


Thursday 27 March 2014

Female Beastman Design for Antiquis Malleum: Opinions Sought

Over that past few weeks there has been much debate about the proposed Antiquis Malleum range being developed by Eastern Front Studios. Not so long ago I asked you to talk about your opinions on how a beastman range so look and the general consensus was to move away from the 'goatman' archetype and develop something more akin to early '80s mutants. 

You would have seen Anthony Ackland's initial beastman concepts here and here and you will be no doubt familiar with Tim Prow's first sculpt here

But what about this?  A design for a female beastman!

What are your thoughts?


Tuesday 25 March 2014

Raiders of the Lost Adverts: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and the Story of a Photograph!

A quick share today and a mention of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Its hard to sum up the significance of this game on Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition so I won't do it here. The two games are very heavily entwined and describe the same game world. This version is far more plausible than the one that exists today.

It seems to have been GW's policy to do a flash advert like this for all of the game systems. WFB3 and RT both had one previously, with the paint range and Bloodbowl also among the products honoured with a double paged spread.

What is of particular interest in this advert is that photograph on the first page. You can see four individuals playing an obviously mocked up version of the game. But who are they? And what is the story behind the photograph?

I have a few theories here. I am certain that the gentleman closest to the left is Sean Masterson, former editor of White Dwarf and contributor to Dark Future. Next along the bus has his face away from the camera but I have an inkling that this may be Alan Merrett, based on the photograph of him from the Warhammer Third Edition rulebook. Next we have a longhaired charmer who may or may not be Oldhammer's own Andy Craig. Finally, the lady. Here I am not so sure. I have a few theories but they are too vague to share at the moment. 

So my question to you is. Who do you think the people in this photograph are? 


Sunday 23 March 2014

Antiquis Malleum: New Beastmen Concepts from Anthony Ackland!

A quick update on the behind the scenes work on Antiquis Malleum, Eastern Front Studio's upcoming retro inspired range of fantasy miniatures. The Grandmaster of Chaos himself, Anthony Ackland, has been busy working on the problem of mutated beastmen. Having played close attention to all the suggestions interested parties have made, he is beginning to produce a selection of concepts to illustrate beastman in their myriad forms. 

Not just the goatheaded man type. 

Here are two of his concepts. Have a look.

As before, feel free to make any comments or suggestions about the images I am sharing with you. Remember though, that these are concepts for miniature sculptors and NOT pieces of illustrative art.

I, for one, am looking forwards to getting my hands on some of these models in the not to distant future (hopefully)! 


Acceptable in the '80s: The Launch of Heroquest

In the summer of 2012 I set about chronicling the history of Warhammer Third Edition through its releases, supplements and published material in White Dwarf. Thanks to the wonders of the labelling system on Blogger, collecting all of the posts in the series is rather easy, just a case of clicking on the 'Acceptable in the '80s' label on the right hand side and you are away.

I was brought to my attention recently that I missed several small bits and pieces of material from WD. Sure, most of us are aware that I am not commenting on the sneak peek that would be later printed in RoC Slaves to Darkness and the Lost and the Damned but I have missed a few nuggets. Due to this, I have decided to go back to issue 115 and relaunch the series and pick up those little nuggets that I have missed and get this series back on track. 

Today's piece concerns the release of Heroquest, dealt with in issue 115. Now, if Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, then this particular game must be the game that launched a thousand (if not many more) wargamers. I am sure that a great number of people who read this blog had the first taste of the fantasy game business playing this immortal game. 

So how were things done back in 1989? Page after page of images of the same few models? A shed load of thinly disguised adverts posing as articles? No, just a White Dwarf cover and a four page launch. 

Have a look!

Heroquest Launch by orlygg

Reading through the article with fresh eyes uncovers some interesting facts. The four player characters are given names and these I had been previously been unaware of. The barbarian, always the favourite of mine, was called Toran. The dwarf was called Gorlin. Eldoral was the name of the elf archer while the strangely clad wizard was known to his friends as Gelmick.

The whole package screams 'production values' to me. The first class art by Gary Chalk, the miniature design (and the great painting by Mike McVey), the components and, of course, the fantastic board. What makes it all much more impressive is how all this was achieved with a smidgen of the technology we have now. There are plenty of box games released in the last couple of years that lack the 'quality' look that Heroquest has.

Still has. As I am sure that the game is still played widely around the world. I bought a battered copy at a carboot sale one year and took it into school. The Year 5 and Year 6 children adored the game and all the parts that came with it and the set was literally played to death.

Looking back over the advert now, so many memories are catapulted into my mind. I can picture my bedroom table, its surface spread with newspaper, a water jar full of brushes and the Citadel Colour paint set open before it. I can remember my first efforts with painting miniatures. Undercoat in white (brushed on) base colours and then wash with black paint. The models looked great to me, until the wash dried and I was left wondering in awe about how the Citadel painters achieved the finishes they did. I can recall inventing my own dungeons on graph paper to test out against my sister, generating my own epic stories. I can recall the hours I spent oggling every detail on the models themselves. Above all, I can remember the advert on TV and how everyone in my class own a copy of the game. Or seemed to, at least!

One day I shall buy another copy myself. When my boy is old enough to play a longer winded board game. I shall paint up all of the models too, based on the McVey originals, and we will share many happy hours together battling in the dungeons of Morcar.

I am sure that there will be similar hours spent in your homes too!

Before you leave, please share with us your Heroquest memories. Do you recall this ad or the TV one? Did you own a copy? Were you first steps into the worlds of fantasy wargaming resplendent with fimir, orcs and mummies?

Please share!


Saturday 22 March 2014

Acceptable in the 80s: The First Warhammer Battle Reports

The publication of the Dwarf Mountaineer rules in White Dwarf 116 was, in my opinion, the last fresh rule release for Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition. There were more articles to come, however these were all tasters for forthcoming publications (such as The Lost and the Damned) rather than something totally new to the game. 
There were other fantasy rules and scenarios after WD116, but much of this was related to Heroquest and its follow up, Advanced Heroquest rather than WFB3 itself. Apart from some background material, the Marauder Miniatures line and a few odds and sods (mostly scenery building or army painting articles) Third Edition was 'done' as a game. The future would very much be Rogue Trader, and the big box games.
However, during this time a new idea crept into White Dwarf. An idea that began with rather charitable beginnings but would later grow to be an ubiquitous part of WD and one that became much derided. I speak of the battle report!

Many of you will be surprised to find out that the battle report wasn't always part of White Dwarf's regular output, and indeed did not become a regular feature at all until well into the 1990s. As far as I can tell, the first recognisable battle report appeared in White Dwarf 107 and was actually a report of a fundraiser rather than a design choice made by Games Workshop. The Roundabout Youth Club organised a twenty-four hour game of WFB3 as part of ITV's Telethon (no, I don't remember them either!) and an overview to the action was written up by Robin (future GW employee and White Dwarf editor) Dews.

Looking back over the article again, what really surprises me about the very first battle report is how many of the key features of the future were in place. There are photographs of the action (well, grainy back and white jobs - it was the '80s!) and difficult to interpret maps of the battlefield. Actually, this is rather cruel an observation as with a little effort it is possible to work out most of the movements of the troops during the game on the map, especially with the addition of a key. The piece also begins with a little bit of narrative to get the battle going, and this story is returned to several times during the article. In later years, the narrative became my preferred part of the battle reports that I would read, but as GW and WD began to lose writers who could actually 'write' these became rather generic and dull, at least to me anyway. 

Reading through the article's introduction brings back a great deal of memories of my own gaming in the 1980s. The plaster covered polystyrene tiles being once such fond memory. Now these were really good value and are still available, see here for example. I think I may well do a few old school experiments with these in the summer months and try and create a Carik Mound of my own. Another things that strikes me is the willingness to just chuck everything on the table and just get on with it. No rules lawyers here. No armybooks or rare choices either, if the group wanted to field it, it went on the table. A quick look through the opposing forces reminds us all what fantasy battles looked like back then, with the 'goodies' a collection of knights, humans, dwarfs and halflings and the 'baddies' practically everything else, including an undead war mammoth!

Unlike some of the appalling Battle Reports in the last issues of WD that I read, this battle is told as a narrative. You can feel that conflict slowly build and read about some of the more titanic events that happened due to the lively style in which the report is written in. There were no 'my orcs moved 6" fowards and I rolled to see what affect my Staff of Bamwham would have on the... zzzzzzzzzzzz'. But perhaps the most telling detail of this 'first battle report' is presented to us in one of the final sentences: 'Thanks too, to GW for several copies of WFBIII and about 200 figures.'

Imagine that in these corporate times.

Ten issues later, another battle report was published in White Dwarf. Again, it wasn't an official 'studio' game but a retelling of a game played at Games Day '89. In those days there were no tournaments as we have today, for they had something even better - the Osprey World Warhammer Fantasy Battle Championships! 

Yes, there was a Warhammer World Champion!

It seems that this article was intended to be one of several write ups about the battles fought in this World Championships, though only this one seems to have seen the light of day. Its a far more professional effort by Peter Morrison, with a detailed look at the army compositions (and some of the rules behind them) as well as some excellent artwork that looks drawn specifically for the article. I find the army lists really interesting here, as we can see how veteran players were constructing their forces for the skaven and wood elves in the late 80s. Anyone considering building a similar force as part of the Oldhammer Community may well want to have a more detailed look at these. There are, alas, no photographs of the game, but there are plenty of characterful maps to help show what was going on. 

Like the previous battle report, there is an interesting nugget for us old schoolers residing in the last paragraph of this battle report. 'This battle was a credit to both players, who conducted themselves in a sportsmanlike manner and avoided the temptation of trying to find gimmick armies.'

It seems that the 'cheese' build or 'loop-hole' brigade existed in the glory days of the 1980s after all! 

A few months later, in White Dwarf 123 Peter Morrison returned with a final 'Third Edition' battle report. There is no mention of the games being held at the Derby Rooms here, so I cannot state whether this was a game carried out at the World Championships or just an 'in-house' game of some sort. The article follows a very similar pattern as the previous one, with troop choices, detailed army lists (useful this time for Chaos and Goblinoid players), tactics and a detailed look at the battle itself. Again, the artwork supporting the article is excellent, and by Gary Chalk, though if these pieces were commissioned for the article I do not know - they look rather Warhammer Armies to me. 

Before I depart I would like to ask you a question. What is your opinion of battle reports? Do you enjoy them? Did you enjoy these? Or are you like me, and find them rather insipid and dull. An in the age of social media and all the apps at our disposal, what are your thoughts about what the future of battle reports might be?

Do tell!


Tuesday 18 March 2014

Antiquis Malleum Beastman Designs

Last post I shared with you the latest concept sketches from the workstation of the great Anthony Ackland. After a string of chaos warriors, it was the turn of the lowly beastman to see the Grandmaster of Chaos' twisted attentions. As I stated, the sketch represented the first in a series of similar models and your feedback was very constructive, so thank you. It seems that many of you prefer your beastmen 'non-goaty' to coin a term and I am please to report that Tim Prow has completed the first green. A green complete with old school style 'beastman armour!

This one could have stepped right out of Slaves to Darkness or Fantasy Warlord! 

What do you think? 

That shield is really impressive is it not? Hmm... Is it me, or could we have had our first view of the 'Visage of Malign'?


Tuesday 11 March 2014

How do you like your beastmen? Antiquis Malleum proposes beastmen miniatures

Mick Leach has released one of the concept drawings by Anthony Ackland for a proposed set of beastmen figures for the upcoming Antiquis Malleum project. The emphasis on these designs has been a return to the beastmen of the early '80s that were more of a hotchpotch of different creatures rather than the ubiquitous goatman.

So what do you think? How would you like your beastmen? 

Just before I go, I would just like to point out that these images are concept sketches for the miniature sculptor rather than illustrations for publication. Their purpose is to inspire the figure sculptor into producing something close to what the project managers are after. The dimensions of limbs, pose and other interpretations will be down to the chap who sculpts the model. After all, they often have the knowledge of what works best. 

Thoughts please! 

Monday 10 March 2014

Orlygg's Miniature Wants Updated!

I used to cast my net wide in regards to miniature collecting. Anything and everything was the motto. Sadly, times change and such a collecting ethos is not viable at the moment. So I have opted for more of a challenge. Namely, the Shadows over Bogenhafen and Death on the Reik sets. Both very popular with collectors, so the miniatures appear regularly online, but with huge inconsistencies when it comes to price. For instance, I have got hold of all but one of the character models for Shadows's for under £50, and have seen individual figures sell for more than that amount! Bizarre! 

I am desperate for Johann though, so if anyone has one please take pity on me!

I am open to reasonable cash amounts but would prefer to trade! Its more fun and stops the non leadhead (wife) from worrying. 

I am trying to complete the rangers too! 

Sunday 9 March 2014

Orlygg On Painting

I have been suffering painter's block in recent months. Actually, painters lethargia perhaps would be a better term. I have, as I am sure many of you readers do, an enormous collection of miniatures across a substantial number of different manufacturers, and need not really ever buy another model. But of course, that is not likely to happen! However, I have had some difficulty actually getting anything painted. Its not that I haven't been painting, my Slanneshi models are proof of that, its just that I haven't been happy with the results I am getting. 

I've spent weeks trying to get something decent out of the elvish models that I own. But no matter what I do the results are just are not what I am after. I end up with models that are too bright, or too cartoony - or even both! You may remember that I have set out to try and paint a model for each of the entries in the Warhammer Third Edition rule book. I call this project 'The Warhammer Bestiary' but I have languished with the elves for some months. I just could not get decent results. 

So I put away the fantasy and thought I might have a crack at something totally different. I spotted an ad in Wargames Illustrated a few weeks back for the Great War Miniatures range (sculpted by Dave Andrews and Aly Morrison) and fancied a crack at something historical. After waiting a week or two, the models arrived and I was very pleased with what I had discovered. That flash was awful though, but the models didn't take long to clean up and I was quickly researching on the internet to find information about what BEF uniforms looked like in 1914. Also, I branched out into a different set of paints, deciding on the Flames of War British Army set before releasing how hard it is to buy paints online these days in the UK! 

With my new models in tow and a rather forlorn attitude to painting still hanging over me I knew that I would have to try something different. So I pulled out the Army Painter range of colours I had picked up at Salute last year and set about painting my WW1 models in their suggested style. Now, I don't know how many of you are aware of Army Painter but the premise is simple - have more time to play! After a basecoat, you add the individual colours that your model requires before washing over the miniature with a dip. This dries and produces a shaded model. It takes a short while to finish a model this way. You could leave things just like that if you were so inclined and I expect that a great many do. I need something a bit more sophisticated for my tastes, so I continued to add highlights and other little details to the models. In no time at all, I ended up with a platoon of BEF chaps ready to see off the Bosche with their rapid rifle fire. And, I had enjoyed the process too! I had fun playing around with modern basing techniques and products that I don't wish to use on my Old School Citadel. My efforts are below for those of you interested. 

Keen to paint something else that was totally different I opted to begin work on that Saga Warband I bought last April. I chose the leader and had a wonderful few hours trying to capture his aging authority. Amusingly, I ended up with a model who resembled Hulk Hogan. I used the same method as with the WW1 models only I went for a more chalky style base. 

With a fair few good looking (to me anyway) models on the display table, I felt it was time to return to something fantastical. I chose to paint a zombie, thanks to Chico who traded a few with me. I found myself staring at the model for a while, rather reflectively. I was pondering on the reason why I had been so unhappy with my recent paint jobs. It was then that I realised that it was the restricted colour schemes of the Saxon and the WW1 troops that helped make a more successful look and that my previous elvish efforts were too busy. I had been using too many colours and things were looking muddled on my models. So with the zombie, I opted for flesh, white and brown as the main colours. I got painting and a few hours later I had a good looking model, faith in myself restored! 

I love the design behind this model. It is my opinion that this is the best zombie sculpt ever produced by Citadel/GW. The lurching gait, the dangling eyeball and the crow picking evilly and the poor soul's brains tell a story of their own, even before this rotting corpse is flung upon the battlefield. Brilliant! 

But what to paint next? I cast my eyes over some of the other zombies but they didn't inspire me to produce something exciting. Then I remembered the gigantic lump of lead that was sitting unloved below my painting station - the Great Spined Dragon. I had undercoated it red sometime back but had been put off by my feelings of inadequacy towards actually painting the thing. Taking on board what I had learnt about not using too many colours, I used the green from the British Army painting set and the yellow from Army Painter and set about getting the dragon restarted. 

Here is an early WIP for you all. And if you don't mind, my daughter is having an afternoon nap at the moment and I am off to work a bit more on this wonderful model! 


Friday 7 March 2014

Where are they now? Slaves to Darkness original cover painting found in Canada!

About a year ago, I posed a question. I asked 'where are all of the original pieces of art for the classic 1980s GW releases'? For example, on whose wall did the cover painting from the Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition rulebook hang? And what about the cover painting of Warhammer Armies? Or Warhammer Siege? 

Did they even still exist? After the tales we learnt together of dumped material in rain sodden skips? If you need a refresher, or were not part of our community this time last year, have a quick look at my original article here.

We have had some success. Tim Pollard's collection was a revelation, with some very famous White Dwarf and other minor supplement covers in his collection. Some of Tony Hough's Eldar turned up too. The Ansell family owned the original Warhamer Fantasy Battle painting from 1983, as those of us at the last Oldhammer Weekend would have seen. But it wasn't until Pat Robinson contacted me to share the fact that he owned the original cover painting for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay did we start hitting on the big league.

Well, Pat has got back in contact with me and is keen to talk to you dear readers about his latest purchase, the original painting from the Slaves to Darkness cover!

I'll hand over to Pat and he will fill you in on all the juicy details. I will just add a big thank you to him once again for remembering the Oldhammer Community and sharing his discovery with us all here.

Over to you Pat...

For all the worshipers of Khorne and the Slaanesh – and who isn’t? – here are a few pictures of the original painting of Slaves to Darkness, by John Sibbick. 
When I acquired this, I believe that was one of the last of John’s Warhammer pieces, and my framer framed it as a set with the original WFRP cover from John that was discussed on this blog in October of last year. 

Pat's evocative frame for Slaves to Darkness
Slaves to Darkness is a fun painting, with that smiling hound of Khorne in the bottom right, and the bright colours and contrasts of the various horrors.  

It is exactly what the World of Warhammer is supposed to feel like.  So, we framed this one with a little more fun in mind, in contrast to the somewhat more grim WFRP cover.  The dark maroon suede matting really emphasizes the crazy World of Warhammer, in my opinion. It would be perfect to use as a background on a blog, or something!  

As we framed these together, we chose the identical lizard-scaled frame, but in jet-black this time.   I think they look pretty good together, and they are always fun to review, as there is just so much going on – you will always notice some small new detail.   They are always a conversation piece, to be sure.  Although sometimes the conversation is from my wife, Irina, asking why we have so many monster paintings hanging in the house!

As with all his paintings that I have seen, John kept this one in perfect shape.    I wish I had a time machine to go back and get some more from John, as his paintings really stand out as something special from the 1980s.

The original preliminary artwork for Slaves to Darkness. I am not sure if this has ever been published before! I am certain that I have never seen this.
John emailed me a picture of the preliminary, which I confess I do not own, and he thinks was sold.  There are some interesting points in this very detailed prelim.  Most noticeably, there was at one point to be an orc-type beast on the spine, behind the large axe, but presumably he was cut because John remembered his sacrificial alter did not make it on the WFRP book, due to Games Workshop not having art on the spine, typically.

A close up of the previously unknown (to me anyway) Khornate orc from Slaves to Darkness. In fact, looking at it again poss the question, is it supposed to be an orc? Lizardman? Beastman?
John obviously nailed the colours, as they are exactly as described in the preliminary - it is almost like two paintings.  The prelim details were so precise, there were not many other significant changes in the final painting, other than filling in the details and adding some background villains to give a greater sense of depth.  Also, one of the shields has “Khorne” written on it, if you look closely.

He even planned out some more heads on spikes.  I look forward to a discussion as to who's heads these are?  Sibbick?  Gallagher?  Some luckless GW intern? 

Pat's art collection hanging on his walls. 
As I said, these are great conversation pieces for my gaming friends, and I am honoured to be able to display them.  Sometimes I am asked about this painting’s cousin, the Lost and the Damned cover – “Nurgle” by Les Edwards… While I have a few Fighting Fantasy game book covers from Les, sadly, he sold Nurgle long, long ago (and not to me, I swear!)…  So, there remains a mystery out there as to who can track down what has been lost… and what is lost and damned!!

Cheers from Calgary,


Once again I have to thank Pat for sharing his collection with us. But he poses us an interesting question, doesn't he? Where is the original Lost and the Damned artwork?

If you know, or know of the location of any other artworks, please get in contact with us here at