Monday 30 June 2014

White Dwarf 119 'Eavy metal Special

Hello and welcome to another 'Eavy Metal special, this time concentrating on the painted miniatures from WD119. I would like to pint out here that, for me anyway, this and the following issues stand sentinel over the greatest era for 'Eavy metal. The reasons I feel this way are clear. There was a great mix between Studio and 'guest' painters, all of whom had quite different styles and tastes. The range of models on offer in the articles were all very different, original and often highly creative. Finally, as these articles were created in the days before colour schemes and painting was standardised, there are some great ideas and techniques that would never be seen today. Certainly not in WD anyway. You really do get the feel that the painting team during this period were letting rip with all the guns and really producing some excellent work.

So WD119 kicks off with another spread of models from Mick Beard. Now, we are used to seeing lots of fantasy models from him but its a pleasant change to see a wealth of Rogue Trader stuff. Especially, Rogue Trader stuff with original retro colour schemes for the power armour. My personal favourite? It has to be the Space Sharks marine in camouflage patterns though the Leman Russ model is also outstanding. 

The stand out piece from this page has to be the skeleton chariot conversion, similar to the rider we saw last issue. Again, green stuff has been used to create the weathered, dry flesh of the horses and the addition of the bridge is fabulous. In my opinion, one of the very best conversions to appear in WD during this period. 

Now Pete Taylor is a name that I am sure many of you will recognise. The page begins with a photo montage of how he set about producing the green chaos spawn model that we have seen before. pete Taylor really was the master of metal and milliput and his work is distinctive and original. Anyone know where he is these days as he would make a great candidate for a RoC80s interview, wouldn't he!?

The bottom half of this page if of particular interest for here we see quite a rare display of models. Miniatures painted by one of the Studio artists. In this case, Paul (no-one drew orcs like me) Bonner. It comes as no surprise that he has chosen the more grotesque models to apply that paint. My personal favourite here? The definitive Skrag.

When you mention Tony Cottrell you would expect to be talking about tanks or some other fantastic machine with enormous firepower. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to see this collection of dragons from him. He really knows his subject though, and this selection of firebreathers is one of the very best I have seen anywhere - including the earlier Mike McVey spread on dragons around WD100. I love the triceratops with the Chaos Warrior mounted on its back, and the dinosaur reminds me of a toy I had back in the 1980s. Dinoriders they were called. I love models like this and they always get me thinking about the wackiest mount (easy, Chico!) I could possibly fathom and what model I would sit on top of it. 

The regular 'Eavy Metal painters show their worth on this page with some stunning work from the forthcoming Waaagh! The Orcs book. Now, many of the later miniatures produced in support of the orc books were terrible, but these are characterful and varied (my two top criteria for a good model) as well as brightly coloured. Of note, is the pump wagon (and I am wondering if this is the Andy Craig version) which has always in my mind been a superb model. And one that has got steadily worse with each new interpretation. the stand out model here is the brilliant skeletal centaur, which is a great idea and like all great ideas, very simple. 

Chaos terminators and multipart Chaos warriors adorn this page, resplendent in crazy designs. The genestealers here, including the famous Patriarch, are all excellent painjobs. The purple and blue classic look is my preferred interpretation of how they should look. A few other Rogue Trader pieces adorn the pages here, including the famous Emperor's Children traitor marine that pops up quite regularly in GW publications around this time, including if memory serves as a scale model for Guy Carpenter's Imperial Walker. So beautifully painted Eldar and a giant scorpion finish off this months selection. I love the painted muddy puddles on the scorpion's giant base. 


Acceptable in the '80s: Marauder Boar Boyz

So we have got as far as looking at the Warhammer releases inside White Dwarf 119 in this history of Warhammer Third Edition. As you may have already read, this issue also included a fairly detailed look at the Skaven race in this article here. 

The now regular set of releases from the Morrisons were these orc boar riders. Now I have gone on the record saying that the majority of sculptors who tackle goblinoids fair utterly unless they are Kev Adams. Its the faces, I think, that often let them down for I see greenskins as rather crafty yet cruel creatures, and certainly not the muscular brutes with generic WAAAGHH attitude. 

Now these orcs are nearly on par with Kev's best stuff and I have always really liked this range. The boars look great and the orcs are classic '80s greenskins. What is there not to like about from the high eBay price for these models?


Sunday 29 June 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: Skaven background and miniatures

Just when you thought that Warhammer Third Edition was dead in the water, propped up with casual reprints from the Lost and the Damned and the monthly releases from Marauder Miniatures, White Dwarf published a completely out of the blue article of background. Not just a one page wonder either, but a deep analysis of the dark, underground world of the Skaven, from the pens of Rick 'Mr Wargiming' Priestley and Jes 'Mr Miniatures' Goodwin. 

Now we know that there were many such articles written in the Design Studio in the late 1980s and many of you may recall Graeme Davis' story about his background article about trolls. Sadly, for reasons he alludes too in his interview, few of this material saw print in relationship to Warhammer Third Edition, though I suspect it was ransacked for armybooks and further articles later on in Warhammer's history. 

So what do we have here then? Well its an article that gives a great overview to the skavan circa 1989. What really struck me was how little the background has changed to this day. everything we know and love about the ratmen is present in this article, even the iconic Screaming Bell and Council of the Thirteen! There are a couple of really interesting snippets of information within though, that are probably worth a little discussion and you fill find those at the bottom of the article. 

The model bottom left appears again in an 'Eavy Metal article. The third time at least if I recall correctly. That makes him probably the most republished model in WD until the creation of the Citadel plastic giant in 2006!
So what did you spot that was different? Well, for me two things stand out. The first is the way that Cathay is described. In this article it is described as an 'abandoned city', so its seems that both the country and its capital shared the same name, similar to Rome and Romans I suppose. Now I am no expert at all, but I am pretty sure that I have never read anything else about there being an abandoned city called Cathay in the Warhammer background, have you?

Now this little fact is fascinating for a nerd like me. Why was Cathay abandoned? Was the idea ever fleshed out back then? It implies in the article above that the Skaven simply took over the city of Cathay after it was abandoned but it doesn't seem to me that they were the cause. 

The second interesting thing that article brings up is mention of the Black Ark, which sounds all very Indiana Jones and the Search for the Lost Ark style, only with rats instead of Nazis and a chunk of warpstone rather than the writings of Moses. 

Interesting points. What do you think?


Saturday 28 June 2014

The Deathfist's Chaos Dwarf Re-enforcements

I haven't published much of my painting recently and the reason for that is I have been hard at work finishing off these Chaos Dwarf re-enforcements for Ulthar Deathfist's Khorne army. After his drubbing at the hands of the undead, it became obvious that he would need a little long range power. Hence, the purchasing of the Bazooka I posted last month and these crossbow dwarfs. To protect them from any annoying enemies I have a small unit of heavily armoured chaos dwarf fighters.

I haven't decided on any background for them yet, I will wait until the next game to create that. I have a few ideas about who the champion is but I will save them for a future post. The standard bearer is a rare conversion from me and was built from the crewman of the swivel gun. I chopped off and re-positioned the hand and added a shield to give him a different kind of feel from the regular model. The banner is much smaller than my other efforts as I learnt how easy the massive show stopper flags can get battered when you travel the length and breadth of England playing games. 

I had fun painting up these four little stunties. As I attempted with many of my Khornate chaos warriors, I tried to vary the colours of their armour to avoid the 'sea of red' that some Blood God armies can become. Of note, is the dwarf third from the left with th emetallic green plate armour. This model was another of my attempts at painting in the mid '80s chaos warrior colour. 

The models you can see here were already painted for other projects and were swallowed up by the larger unit with a few minor touches. Oldhammer die-hards may well recognise the chaos dwarf I entered in the first Golden Gobbo painting competition all those days ago. 

And finally, a close up of my Khorne crossbows. I love these models and I now have a few more of them. The crossbows are not Citadel ones but more moderns sculpts via Marcus Ansell at the Foundry.

Well, I have a few more Khorne pieces to finish off on the painting desk. Another chaos dwarf (so I can build the unit up to 10 models if I want) and a swivel gun. After that, Slaanesh will be seeing some re-enforcements too!


Wednesday 25 June 2014

Secrets of the Goblinmaster?

I had an email from Kev Adams the other day with a link to the Shadowkings blog. Tony Yates, a very fine gentleman himself and propriator of said blog, posted about his visit to the new Wargames Foundry site in Newark. During his visit, Tony Yates took the picture you can see above of Kev Adams back at work doing what he does best, sculpting miniatures for us to enjoy. 

I am sure that this picture will make many of Kev's fans pleased to see him looking so much better than last year, after his dreadful ordeal. But what is Kev working on? Obviously its top secret and the Goblinmaster told me that we will hear first all about this exciting Wargames Foundry project as soon as he is able too. But Tony's photograph does offer up a few exciting hints, if you zoom in a bit at his workstation and squint a bit. Once I got over the sheer number of tools that Kev uses to sculpt with, I quickly spotted the painted version of those lovely orcs and orclings that Kev did for Foundry quite a few years ago. And the greens look, unless I am very wrong, like similar greens in the same vein - more orcs for the Foundry!

Now this is just conjecture, but at Salute Wargames Foundry was busy promoting Warmonger Miniatures though there was little information beyond them being a Salute Special. Could Kev be working on additional models for that range?

Nude man fighting off equally nude (goblin?) opponents is an amusing symbol at the best of times and certainly fits in with the Goblinmaster's comedic touch with the green stuff. 

As you can see from these models, the range is everything you would expect from Wargames Foundry and Kevin Adams. Expertly crafted white metal models. I for one would like to see this range expanded on further. 

Fingers crossed!

Oh, and before I depart, here is a link to the wonderful interview that Kevin Adams did for me a few months ago. It seems to have got a bit lost in the ether, but that is my fault for not adding it to my sidebar. 


Tuesday 24 June 2014

The problem with Oldhammer.

Good evening all, or indeed what ever time of day it is that you may be reading this. Not that time actually has any real relevance here but it is a polite way to begin this little missive. I have had a rather bizarre evening really, though. I was drawn into a conversation on the Facebook group with a new member of our little community who was a little confused about the status quo. 

Its seems that as Oldhammer has spread across the world and expanded on an unprecedented scale through social media the message is getting a bit lost. The Old Guard may be surprised to hear that dear old Chico has even been mistaken as the 'owner' of Oldhammer. The prospect of such an occurrence is, indeed, terrifying and the thought of what such power would do to Chico's already damaged mind is worrying. 

But the message seems to be getting lost with the huge influx of new members.

Oldhammer is NOT a particular ruleset, nor a figure manufacturer or a blog post to be adhered to religiously.

In fact, the term 'Oldhammer' has been used by gamers before us. But here a problem does arise, and that problem is linked to the actual name of our community. 'Old' and 'Hammer' has an obvious link to older versions of Warhammer and it is here that the terminology can be difficult to new members to get their heads around. Some people I have met are amazed that there are even editions of the game from the 1980s, and can be fascinated by the miniatures I use being older than them. So when such a person sees or reads the term 'Oldhammer' it is no surprise that they perceive the group to be primarily concerned with playing old versions of the game. 

This also helps to promote the belief that only Citadel miniatures designed in the 1980s are suitable for a game of Oldhammer. Again, this is not the case. In fact, back in the day I remember using all kinds of things as proxies (Zoids, He-Man, Star Wars vehicles... the list goes on and on) and not giving two hoots as long as we had a great time. 

I feel that I may be part of the problem too. This blog has been incredibly successful and I am sure that you will forgive me in blowing my own trumpet here but Realm of Chaos 80s has become (or so I have been told) the number one old school site in the world detailing 1980s 'Bryan Ansell' Warhammer. I collect, paint and write about miniatures produced during that time and like to play Third Edition games with them. Just because I am the most well known and visual Oldhammerer doesn't mean that my interpretation is the 'correct' way to play Oldhammer. 

In fact, there is no 'correct way' to play Oldhammer or indeed be an Oldhammerer. Its definition is up to YOU to decide. Its what makes you happy and feel satisfied in the games you play and the miniatures you paint and collect. Because of this I find it highly hypocritical that a minority of people who claim to be part of our community seem to be pushing 'their' interpretation of what our community is and what it should or should not allow. 

Its seems that the community (and I am quoting another Oldhammerer here) is "now a divided camp. Those who are trying to enforce their vision of Oldhammer and those who are just having fun and getting on with it." 

So if you are new to us and feel inspired by what you see here just go out and get on with the games you want to play and find like-minded souls to share them with. 

Monday 23 June 2014

Advanced Heroquest Launch Special

Advanced Heroquest. What a game! Even after all of these years, it is still a firm favourite of mine for many reasons. The miniatures, the playing pieces, the ruleset, the background and not to mention the numerable scenarios published in WD over the following few years. If memory serves, I only played it a handful of times (with my stepbrothers) but those few hours were enough to sear a firm attachment to the game that remains to this day. Sadly, despite many efforts, I have yet to get my hands on a decent copy of the game and enjoy it all the more as part of the Oldhammer Scene. 

What follows is a look at the material published in WD 118 in support of the games release. As a cursory glance will show, there was a great deal common with this game with its more famous sibling. The four heroes (barbarian, elf, dwarf and wizard), a playing surface that allows for almost innumerable different dungeons and a series of adventures in the grim world of perilous adventure! In fact, the only thing that Advanced Heroquest lacked was the plastic furniture! 

The game looks more adult than Heroquest. And this is certainly true when you start delving into the background material, which has a lot more in common with WFRP than WFB. A quick scan through the artwork and narrative presented in this article shows are far darker tone to the game. As with many products released at this time, many of the pieces of associated artwork came from the massive stockpile of images that GW had at its disposal. Gary Chalk's shield designs and the beautiful pen and ink drawings are new though, and look just as magnificent as we have come to expect. In my book, it was this high quality art alongside high quality miniatures that sold these sets and still makes us love them today. 

Many of you will recognise the famous Advanced Heroquest diorama that was put together, if memory serves, by Ivan Bartlett. It makes great use of the wide range of metal and plastic Citadel miniatures available at the time. As each model is a single sculpt and not part of a kit, apart from the few plastic models used, the diorama has an very different feel than many we see today, which are more a journey of familiarity rather than an adventure of new discoveries. One of thing worth noting on this page is Wayne England's crayon illustration of skaven to left. Very evocative that piece of art!

A big draw to games like Advanced Heroquest were the Solo Rules, advertised here with a giant yellow circle. As many of us gamers were still quite young, or lived miles away from other enthusiasts, rules like this made it possible to play out these games alone in the safety of your bedroom. I can recall many happy hours inventing my own dungeons before laying them out and gaming away using the original Heroquest set.

As with many products released in the late '80s, Advanced Heroquest was fully compatible with many of the models produced by GW. In fact, expanding the game with your own collection was positively encouraged by the game, and the cardboard cut outs of monsters and daemons secreted in the box only encouraged you to chase down the models and paint them for real.

Super keen eyed readers may well spot a familiar miniature in the selection above. It was part of my previous post. Can you spot which miniature I am referring too?


Sunday 22 June 2014

White Dwarf 118 'Eavy Metal Special

Issue 118 of White Dwarf builds on the previous editions momentum and propels us forwards into ever more glorious realm of old school painting. The content kicks off with two pages of of work by Mick Beard and Steve Mussared, both winners in the 1989 Golden Demon awards. Both have been (and would continue to be) frequent contributors to the pages of painted content in the magazine, and gazing through these pages it is obvious to see why.

On the first page above there are some fantastic conversions which inspire me everytime I look at them to get creative with old school Citadel daemons and champions. For starters, I love the Tzeentch champion on the flying disc, complete with ducking dwarf and ruined wall. Fantastic stuff! Even better are the converted genestealer and fleshound, which with a little work become excellent Khornate daemons. I will certainly be trying out those ideas in the time to come. 

This second page contains more of these fantastic conversions. The mutant orcs just go to show what can be achieved with some fairly standard, generic models (here the Ruglud standard trooper), some wire, milliput and a bucketful of imagination. I spoke to Warlord Paul recently about adding some chaos orcs to my Khorne army and these models really inspire me to do something similar. Look out for that in a future post! I also love the bloodletter with a fleshound on a lead. Another fantastic idea that will be very easy to realise. However, my daemonic armies are a long way off at the moment, with a Khorne, Slaanesh, Undead and Goblinoid army all slowly being constructed. 

Dale Hurst, another Golden Demon regular, joins the team in this issue. Here we see a full page of his work. I must confess to not being a big fan of these particular paint jobs. I think its the large areas of fairly flat colour but I am sure that many of you will disagree with me. One thing that does interest me about this selection of models are the inclusion of the magical cubes on the Tzeentch disc riding champion, certainly something to try out myself at some point. 

Dale's Bloodbowl troll is much more to my liking here, and the filthy green he has opted to use really fits in well with the rather filthy background that these creatures have in the game. The skaven we have seen before I am sure but the lovely Bretonnians are new to me as part of the retrospective anyhow! I really like the mounted wizard in this range and must confess to having never really noticed it before, nor can I recall seeing it very often on eBay, though having said that I will probably find three the next time I look! The converted skeleton on horseback is outstanding and still holds its own today but the real prize on this page is Paul Benson's astonishing Palanquin of Nurgle. Benson was, and still is, one of my favourite old school painters, and this is entirely due to his destinctive style. No-one have ever quite painted yellow like him! 

The science-fiction games of the era get some love on this page and the two Titans look fantastic. One thing I love about the RT and AM stuff that was present at this point in the company's life was that the colour schemes and iconography were not yet restricted by 'proper' designs, so subsequently you get original compositions like the terminator with the back banner. 

Heroquest leads the way here, and those models look to be the original McVey paintjobs that were used in all the promotional materials. Again, Paul Benson's work stands out here more than a Mile away, and I can think of no other painters but Blanche and Gray that have such a destictive mastery of colour and style. The Skaven with the jessail is just exquisite! A great shield design can be spotted on that orc champion and it is certainly one that I shall be one day stealing. The standout model here for me is the converted chaos spawn, made up of the ever useful bloodletter body and a Lord of Change head. Such a simple exercise which has produced a great result! 

Hope you all enjoyed this nostalgic look and have been inspired by what you have seen. 


Saturday 21 June 2014

Leadspotting: Bolt Thrower Miniatures' First Models!

Following up on my recent post about Bolt Thrower miniatures, its commander-in-chief, Tom Pugh has contacted me with the final greens of his first two releases. Stavros the minotaur and Bloddwyn the halfling. If Bolt Thrower is a new name to you, click yourself post haste this way to check out my previous article in this series otherwise scroll down to check out the final models alongside the original concept art. 

Bloddwyn is £3. Stravos is £6 and P&P to the UK is £1.50. If you dwell in Europe this rate is increased to £3.59 while the Rest of the World is £4.50. If you are interested in making a purchase or have any questions at all, just contact Tom at He will even issue you a Paypal receipt if you are so inclined!

Additionally, Tom is running a little bit of a competition which you can learn all about by visiting his Facebook page. The link is below.

Friday 20 June 2014

Ulther Deathfist and the Battle of the Burning Tower: Aftermath

Blandidir's dull eyes surveyed the near empty stock room with indifference. Soon the last of the coven's supplies would be loaded onto the wagons and thrashed south to the warband's new home. With many of their rivals disrupted, and the Deathfist to the east, there was little that could stand in the ways of their plans. It would be the simple, taxing chores of pretence for her in the coming days, as she acted in role as her master's savant and busied herself signing off the official papers that would see the large townhouse change hands once more. A fat, odious local butcher, heavy with coin after his financial success, had been more than eager to purchase the property and move his ever growing family within its handsome walls. 

The dark elf sniffed softly, letting the soporific the filled the dusty room, enhance her senses once again. Pushing open a oaken door, she passed through a dimly lit corridor into a dank cell originally constructed as a kennel for the households canines. The low ceiling caused its occupant to bend their heads forwards and frown uncomfortably in the halflight. Spreadeagled before her on a wooden table lay the bandaged remains of a powerfully built human whose forehead erupted with a single, fleshy horn. Sickly blood glistened through the yellowing strips of cloth that covered his wounds while a fevered sweat clung to his skin like a death shroud.

It was clear to even the most unschooled that this man did not have long in this word. 

The other occupants of the room bowed in respect as they caught sight of their priestess entrance. Silently, they watched her approach the wounded man and cast her cool gaze over his savaged body. 

"Where did you recover him?" She asked, her voice but an accented whisper in the tiny room. 

"Along the Forest Road, High One, alongside one other. He was dead. We found other bodies too, but none were worshippers of the True Gods." Came the quick response from one of the men.

"There was evidence of a small battle," his companion continued, "most likely undead from the amount of bone we found scattered. Whole ranks of them. We treated this one on the spot and brought him back her for you."

"You did well," Blandidir said. She raised her hands and placed them on the wounded man's chest. "let's found out what he knows," she said softly before plunging her fingers through the man's chest and deep into his heart...

As I mentioned last week, I had the pleasure of taking part in an excellent game of Warhammer Fantasy Battle at Slayer Gaming in Mansfield. Well, the scenario has been written up by Warlord Paul and can be seen here. 

Its well worth a read. I have pinched a fair few pictures from his blog post but there are many, many more to enjoy via The Black Hole itself. So don't hesitate to visit when you have finished here. Here are the pics...

Chaos thugs and mutants in the service of the Deathfist skirmish with ogre near a tollbooth while a Black Orc looks on. 
Grimgrunt, one of the Deathfist's disciples, fells the ogre with a blade in the back as blood maddened beastmen advance.
Behold the unheavenly host of the Deathfist! 
Ulther Deathfist marches with his elite bodyguard beneath his sacred battlebanner! His newly recruited chaos dwarfs heft their artillery forwards in support.

Mastering their fear at last, the Warriors of Khorne clash with the undead legions.
The Seeress sat back and stilled her whirling eyes. Vassel had served his purpose once again and had informed her of what she needed to know to please her master. 

"They are on the move, Lord Deathfist, though to where I cannot yet fathom. Vassel does not yet know himself, but when he does we shall know too."

Ulther Deathfist sat back on his throne of skulls and flexed the massive gauntlets that served for his hands before looking down at his servant. She had read the bloodauger well and should be rewarded. Motioning with his hand, a beastman stepped forwards and scattered the red stones across the sand of his throne room. Gorestones! Prized pieces of Khorne's blood solidified by the aeons and the perfect foil for cowardly magic. 

As his followers roared with approval, the Deathfist contemplated the future. Soon it would be time to challenge that Dark Elf bitch properly. Until then, he planned to continue to build up his forces, something that would be made even easier as news of his victory over the weak dead ones spread through the Drakwald forest, and consolidate his position. 

Yes, soon... Perhaps even in time for Geheimsnisnacht! 

Underneath the chaos helm that made up his ravaged face the split lips curled into a smile. 

Yes!  Geheimsnisnacht! 

Thursday 19 June 2014

The Perils of Buy It Now Bashing!

I must admit that I have laughed at the ridiculous prices that many internet traders give old school Citadel products. £29.99 for a single dwarf still available from the GW website as part of a set of 8? Or £7.99 for one Bretonnian knight that can be bought brand new from The Wargames Foundry along with seven others?

Any serious collector will no doubt have similar atrocious stories. Sadly, these greedy prices only confuse newbie collectors and encourage hyper-inflation with 4th Edition plastic monopose beastmen. If in doubt when selling an old school item on eBay, think carefully about what you are naming your listing and start at a 99p opening bid. A truly valuable item will always find its price. 

Anyway, the much maligned BIN deal turned up trumps for me this week when I stumbled upon this little collection of skeleton models for a shocking sum of £9.99 (including p&p). Binning the minging 1993 'musician' still leaves me with six fantastic models (including the great beady skelly that Thantsants showed off last weekend during our Third Edition game) and an undead rider for just over a quid each. 

No THAT's good value!

So good, I had to snap up a similar deal of Dark Elves today when I spotted them on the seller's shop. Now, I don't want to give away my secrets, but there is a little watermark on the picture above that may well give you a little clue to the seller. Be quick though, because there are a great deal of bargains on there at the moment, including lots of nice pre-slotta. 

Like I said... Be quick! 

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Acceptable in the '80s: The First Warhammer Novels

Many readers maybe surprised that GW's ambitions towards literature did not begin with the Black Library. Its a topic that I have covered before in the very early days of this blog and if you are after a swift overview of GW Books as they were in the 1980s have a quick browse through my article here. 

Issue 117 of White Dwarf saw the first major preview of the forthcoming Warhammer Novels range. And in the pre-internet age, it was the first time that any of us fans knew that there was to be written stories about our beloved Warhammer World. I knew instantly that I would be tracking down these books and devouring them. Even better, though. The preview came with a short story to get you into the swing of things, No Gold in the Grey Mountains, which is I guess the first published 'Warhammer' story. 

Before we delve further into the historical evidence, its is worth considering what actually inspired the lead designers of Warhammer, and later Rogue Trader, to produce the background that they did. Interestingly enough, Rick Priestley and Tony Ackland contributed to a fascinating conversation about this topic on the Oldhammer Facebook group over the last few days. I have edited that conversation and included it here for prosperity. 

Rick Priestley: Michael Moorcock - of which there was a great deal about in the 70s! Robert E Howard - well specifically the Conan stories which were extended and added to by L Sprague de Camp. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. Those are the most influential ones really - though there was a lot of fantasy about. Dune and 2000AD - well that's 40K really - to which you have to add Dr Who, Blakes 7, Star Trek, Star Wars and such like - Heavy Metal magazine had some good stuff in it in the day. James Branch Cabell - well that's very Bryan - if we're going down that route I'd put Lord Dunsany ahead of JBC - both very enjoyable but not really very Warhammer (though Dunsany Time and the Gods has some very Warhammerish/sub-Moorcock elements to it). I suspect Bored of the Rings was a bigger influence than any of the more cerebral fiction - nailed Halfings I think!

Tony Ackland: Moorcock was a big influence on Bryan's ideas for developing Warhammer. Realm of Chaos and elements of 40K have their origins in both the Elric and Hawkmoon stories. Lone Sloane from Druillet provided the origin of the Red Redemption. Heinlein's Starship Troopers were the starting point for the Space Marines before morphing into something very different. Nemesis the Warlock from 2000AD was a big influence on 40K. That reminds me of the early days when I used to call in the newsagent's to pick up 3 copies of 2000AD. One for Bryan, one for Tom Meier, and one for myself. I recall Bryan lending me several Jame Branch Cabell books. Interesting reading but more philosophical than straight fantasy. We both had read a lot of Jack Vance, and Robert Sheckley, but although both of us were fans of their work they never really played much or any part in the Development of Warhammer. There was a time when Howard Chaykiin's Cody Starbuck would have infuenced Rogue Trader 40K. But that was soon left behind. Although a certain game of Target's owes those tales a big debt.

Tony Ackland:Origins? Of course all fantasy games of the period used a strange amalgam of Howard and Tolkien as a foundation. When it comes to Dune it's definitely more the movie than the book that had an influence. Of course there probably aren't that many people who are aware of an independent black and white, science fiction and fantasy anthology comic called Star Reach which both Bryan and I used to read when we could get hold of it. I think a few ideas from it were considered but possibly not used. But like Heavy Metal and the short lived Epic it would have contributed to the overall ethos.

Rick Priestley:With the original 40K book - it was for sure the book Dune - and it's many sequels - that were a big influence on me - that trick of the little quote from an imaginary retrospective history that was at the start of every chapter - I used that idea for a lot of 40K quotes and snippets in the old days. The film might have influenced the figure designers - I don't know - but I always thought it was a bit of a let down after the book - can't think of anything specific to the film that's an influence - the god-like Emperor of 40K owes a lot to Leto in Children of.. and God Emperor of... although there are other influences too... not least real religious predecessors! Though that is also true of Dune of course. Space Marines - well I hadn't read Starship Troopers when I wrote 40K (though I've read it since) so I'm not sure it was much of an influence on me - the figure design - I guess there was a tradition of SF models in that style (Laserburn/StarGuard etc) but the thing that inspired me was the Souther Trooper design in Rogue Trooper (2000AD) + the idea of making them 'Chaos Warriors'. If you look at the back of the helmet shape of the original SMs you'll see it looks a lot like the Souther helmet - whilst the pointy beaky front echos the Souther gasmask. We reworked the design a lot (Bob Naismith came up with the final image) but it started with a pencil sketch I did inspired by the 2000AD Southers. The various proto-marines all got released into a generic 'adventurer' code or some such IIRC.

Tony Ackland:  I remember the Souther influence on the original "Womble" marines. Interesting that with the numerous changes of artist that Rogue Trooper had that, that look disappeared from the comic. Bryan was the one keen on Starship Troopers, Heinlein was definitely another influence on him. He lent me quite a few that I had missed. Loved the original Dune but I must admit I never really got into the later Dune books. I know that John Blanche was influenced by Baron Harkonnen from the movie. And he referred it to some of the freelance artists working on 40K. I had read most of REH but was more a fan of Solomon Kane than Conan. One day somebody might make a movie on one of his characters that doesn't change the character or feature a stupid origin segment which is totally at odds with the original material. Of course I can't leave out Howard Phillips Lovecraft , Clark Ashton Smith, and Fritz Leiber as influences. And before I forget there is Poul Anderson who certainly had an infuence on both Bryan and myself. Guess which Warhammer creature is based on Anderson character?

Rick PriestleyHarry Harrison too for 40K.. almost forgot... especially Stainless Steel Rat and Deathworld series. Richard Halliwell was especially into Philip Hose Farmer - Riverworld series I remember. I read a lot of classic SF and fantasy too: Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, EE Doc Smith (yes I know! Harrison's 'Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers' was a classic send up of the genre), the John Norman Gor books (the ones with the raunchy covers you remember), Edgar Rice Burroughs obviously, Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick, Anne McCaffrey... I'm not sure what of this is influential in terms of Warhammer and 40K and what isn't... I don't think we thought about it much at the time! Funny about John Blanche being influenced by the Dune movie ratrher than the book because John never did read anything! It was always a struggle getting him to draw from a written description, and in the end you just had to let him do what he wanted and change the text to fit! I think John's whole relationship to Warhammer was visual - I don't think he really had much interest in the ideas or narrative behind the image - let alone the game - bless!

Tony Ackland: Although he did like book of Clockwork Orange. But generally he wasn't into written SF and Fantasy. Is it possible to read EE "Doc" Smith after Star Smashers? The Gor books! Dom-sub fetishism loosely disguised as fantasy. Classic Norm Eastman art would not have been out of place on those covers! Lots of authors who helped shape the mindset I suppose. Had you read any E R Eddison?

Rick Priestley: Hi Tony - you know I never have, though I think we have a copy of The Worm Ouroboros somewhere - must be contemporary with James Branch Cabell and Dunsany - sounds like an interesting character. Apparently, he considered Tolkien's fantasy a bit 'soft' - mind you Moorcock was/is no fan either as he gives Tolkien a right slagging in Wizardry and Wild Romance - which is a must read for anyone who is at all into the history of the Genre - he rates Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword as hugely influential though - I know it was one of Jes Goodwin's faves.

Tony Ackland: Long time since I've read the Broken Sword. I remember people accusing him of stealing his dwarves names from Tolkien. He pointed out that Tolkien took his names from the same source-The Book of Dwarves. Though It is an unusual book for Anderson. The Polesotechnic League and Terran Empire stories are a must for any SF fan. 

As you can see from this page, the first two novels were Zaragoz and Drachenfels along with two anthologies; Ignorant Armies and Wolf Riders. If you glance back up at the top page, you will see that this article also mentioned other planned books, namely the first book in the Konrad sequence, the two Dark Future novels and Ystareth, which was obviously the original name for Plague Daemon. What strikes me looking back on these is the quality that oozes from the pictures and book covers as anyone who owns one of these first editions will know. I have heard from my sources that these books were formatted a larger size than normally, which caused problems with book sellers stocking the new books on their shelves. Another matter worth considering, is that all the novels and many of the short stories were penned by 'proper' sci/fi and fantasy authors rather than 'part timers' that spew out many of the more modern BL books. Just reading the prose of No Gold in the Grey Mountains is enough to show you that these stories are of a very different callibre than the majority of the Black Library ones. 

Oddly, there were no Rogue Trader 40k books originally planned. I wonder why?

I will be reviewing each book in the sequence as the time comes (and I actually read them) but with the summer 
holiday fast approaching I shall have plenty of time to read them! Until then, here is a scan of No Gold In the Grey Mountains. Have a read a see what you think compared to the more modern fiction? Better? The same? Worse? 

What are your thoughts?